Category Archives: Regional

IDOT, ISP, Illinois Tollway encourage motorists to prepare for winter driving condition

CHICAGO—Illinois transportation and law enforcement officials urged motorists to prepare for winter driving conditions. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois State Police (ISP) are working together to ensure the state’s frontline winter crews and emergency equipment are available to respond to possible inclement weather and make travel safer and easier on Illinois’ highways, tollways and major roads.

“We want all motorists to be aware of winter road conditions and encourage drivers to slow down, buckle up and cooperate with snow plows,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “IDOT winter crews remain prepared to clear state roadways as needed, but we also ask motorists to take the necessary steps to help ensure their personal safety as well.”

State agencies encouraged defensive driving in winter weather, and offered tips on how motorists can help transportation and law enforcement workers road ensure safety.

“We have been preparing for this winter season for many months and are ready to put our plans into action, now that the first major snowfall is on its way,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “While Tollway crews work to clear snow and ice from our roadways, we ask that our customers drive carefully and give snowplow drivers room to do their job safely and effectively.”

In addition, ISP has coordinated road safety plans with the Illinois Tollway and IDOT to ensure traffic enforcement priorities include safe driving, safe roads and safe access for all citizens during the winter months.

“Winter driving conditions can be hazardous on first responders and motorists. We are reminding the motoring public that when accidents occur and conditions are extreme, (those who are) exchanging insurance and driver information are advised to keep motorists safe and roads clear, unless medical attention is required,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau.

Motorists can file accident reports at the nearest State Police District within seven business days.

To help keep state routes clear and passable, IDOT has more than 400,000 tons of salt, 3,600 employees and 1,700 pieces of equipment prepared for deployment to cover over 43,000 lane miles statewide. The Illinois Tollway also has more than 80,000 tons of salt, 41,000 gallons of anti-icing materials and 7,000 tons of roadway abrasives, as well as more than 400 employees, and its full fleet of 183 snowplows prepared for the 286-mile system of roads serving 12 counties in Northern Illinois.

In addition, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) recently kicked off its annual Preparedness Campaign. Helpful information on severe winter weather and disaster preparedness is available on the Ready Illinois website, www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

Winter weather travel
safety tips include:

• Watch out for black ice roads that appear clear but can be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas—all are prone to black ice.
• Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to help prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
• Do not travel unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
• Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
• Carry a cell phone and always wear a safety belt.
• Dress warmly for the weather—layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.
• Make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
• Clear snow and ice from all windows, mirrors and lights on your vehicle before you drive. Blowing snow can significantly diminish visibility. Clearing all snow before you begin driving assures maximum vision of your surroundings and assists in reducing ice and snow buildup as you drive.
• Adjust speed to road conditions and traffic around you. Reducing speed during inclement weather conditions increases your ability to respond to the unexpected.
• Increase the interval between your vehicle and the one in front of you. By creating more distance between your vehicle and others, you decrease your chances of a collision, because stopping distances increase as pavement conditions deteriorate.
• Avoid unnecessary lane changes. During heavy snowstorms, slush and packed snow build up in the area between traffic lanes. Abrupt or frequent lane changes may cause your vehicle to slide on the buildup and spin out of control.
• Keep away from snowplows. Should you encounter snowplows, the safest choice is to keep back and let them do their job. They travel at a speed of approximately 30 mph, so traffic delays should be expected. During periods of extremely heavy snow, Illinois Tollway snowplows will work in tandem to remove as much ice, slush and snow as possible from all lanes at once.
• Do not use the shoulder of the road to pass a snowplow. Some snowplows are equipped with wing plows that extend to the left or right of the vehicle. While these wings allow for more efficient removal of snow, they are nearly invisible to passing motorists due to blowing snow. De-icing materials spread from the rear of the truck may also be a distraction to motorists attempting to pass.
• Reduce speed in cash lanes at toll plazas. Drivers paying cash at mainline toll plazas or traveling on ramps should adjust their speed on approach during snow and ice storms.
• Watch for lane designations on approach to the toll plaza; switching lanes close to the toll plaza is unsafe, especially during winter weather.
• Call *999 for Tollway road assistance. Should you encounter car trouble and require roadway assistance, try to move your car to a safe position on the shoulder or in an untraveled area. Report stranded vehicles by dialing *999 from a cellular phone.
• Stay in your vehicle; H.E.L.P. is on the way. During continued periods of extremely cold weather, the Illinois Tollway operates a “Zero Patrol” to supplement the Illinois State Police District 15 and the Tollway’s Highway Emergency Lane Patrol (H.E.L.P.) vehicles. These patrols enable workers to cover the entire 286-mile Tollway system 24 hours per day when temperatures and wind chills are at or below zero. Stay in your vehicle—it’s the safest place to be if you are stranded.
• The Illinois Tollway operates a toll-free telephone line to keep customers up to date about weather conditions on its roadways. Customers can call 1-800-TOLL-FYI (1-800-865- 5394) to get recorded information that is updated every two hours or as conditions require during winter storms.
• The Tollway’s Traffic and Incident Management System (TIMS) provides real-time travel times via the Illinois Tollway’s website www.illinoistollway.com.

January is National Radon Awareness Month

KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Healthy Places Coalition is urging homeowners to have their homes tested for the presence of this odorless, tasteless and colorless gas as part of National Radon Awareness Month.

Radon is a radioactive gas, estimated to cause as many as 20,000 deaths from lung cancer each year throughout the United States. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today, following tobacco use. Kane County is designated by the USEPA as an area with a high potential of exceeding the recommended level of radon gas in homes. Test results for homes in Kane County have found that 27 percent of tested homes exceed the recommended limit for radon gas, which is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air). Test results from some areas within Kane County commonly exceed this level.

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. Testing is inexpensive and easy—it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon. Do-it-yourself test kits are cheap ($15 to $30) and can be purchased at hardware stores, home improvement stores and online. These kits are cost effective and easy ways to screen your home. Professional testing services are also available. To find a professional in your area, visit www.radon.illinois.gov and click on “List of licensed measurement professionals.”

More information about National Radon Awareness Month is available by visiting the U.S. EPA radon website at www.epa.gov/radon. To learn more about the new radon law in Illinois, visit the IEMA radon website at www.radon.illinois.gov.

Veterinarian accepts post with Animal Control

Kane County—Dr. Kimberly Rudloff, DVM, accepted an offer of employment as Kane County’s new Veterinarian/Administrator for the Kane County Animal Control Department. Dr. Rudloff will begin her duties on Monday, Feb. 6, at an annual salary of $88,000.

“Dr. Rudloff is a caring and compassionate veterinary professional and a solid clinician, administrator and businesswoman with a consistent record of success,” said Paul Kuehnert, Executive Director Kane County Health Department. “Based on her personal attributes, professional qualifications and past experiences, I fully expect her to excel as Kane County’s Veterinarian/Administrator.”

Dr. Rudloff’s selection was the result of a recruitment process that began immediately after the Kane County Board passed Resolution 11-358, authorizing the hiring freeze exemption and approving the new job description. A national search was undertaken with ads in veterinary and public health professional journals and newsletters, as well as both print and online advertising in the Chicago metropolitan area. This resulted in the receipt of 110 applications, seven of which met the qualifications for the position. Six of the 7 qualified applicants were residents of the Chicago area, submitted their applications within a few weeks of the advertisements, and were interviewed.

Dr. Rudloff has been in practice since 1991. She obtained both her undergraduate degree (animal sciences) and her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the Ohio State University. Following graduation, she completed a one-year internship in emergency medicine and critical care. In addition to her years of clinical experience in both general and emergency veterinary medicine, Dr. Rudloff has served in professional teaching, clinical research, consulting, and administrative roles.

As the Assistant Director of Membership and Field Services for the American Veterinary Medical Association, she coordinated efforts to design and implement employment and housing programs for veterinarians and animal care technicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In her most recent position, she developed, established and now directs the veterinary technology and veterinary assistance programs for Sanford Brown College in Hillside, Ill.

Down the drain?

Sugar Grove ends Mallard Point drainage negotiations
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The solution to the drainage problems in the Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks subdivisions in Sugar Grove just became more complex.

Two months after the Village Board approved four resolutions for improvements and an extension of the drainage system in the two subdivisions, Village President Sean Michels announced on Jan. 4 that the village was walking away from a deal with the Rob Roy Drainage District No. 2 and three land owners (one of which is the family of Sugar Grove Police Chief Brad Sauer) to allow for the installation of a pipe—18 inches in diameter and 8,800 feet long—that would convey water from the subdivisions to the Drainage District ditch located near Jericho Road and Route 30.

The landowners were involved in the deal because the pipe would have to travel through their property to reach the Drainage District’s concrete ditch. The Sauer family owns the largest of the three properties.

The cost of the project was estimated at $1.7 million, with Kane County slated to kick in $171,000 toward that cost. The Drainage District, during the last 17 months, has spent in excess of $100,000 in engineering and legal fees related to the project, according to Drainage District President Mike Fagel.

“The position of the village is that we’ve reached the end of our negotiations. We negotiated with the Sauers and the Rob Roy Drainage District and could not come to terms,” Michels said. “Therefore, the village is moving on to look for other alternatives to rectify the situation and help out the residents with their drainage issue.”

Michels, who has been village president since 1999, cited control of drain tile (after installation), price of easement and wetlands as reasons why the village chose to end negotiations.

“The big (reasons) are (with) the Sauers. With Rob Roy, it was the permitting process and some of the fees that they were requesting,” he said. “We had been negotiating since May with Rob Roy and since August with the Sauers, and in late December when we received final proposals (from them), that was when the village made the decision to move in another direction.”

According to Fagel, the Drainage District on Dec. 26 agreed to waive the $18,000 connection fee. The district maintained that the village should pay for engineering costs, with a $10,000 cap.

“The permit process protects all of us, but we do not want to stand in the way of this project,” Fagel said.

Mallard Point resident Jim Stone spoke during public comment at the Village Board meeting on Jan. 17, stating his frustration over the fact that the village didn’t send out a hard-copy letter to notify residents of its intention to cease negotiations with the Sauer family and the Drainage District. Instead, the village sent out e-mails to Mallard Point residents who had signed up to receive electronic notices from the village.

Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said during the meeting that the e-mail-only notification was “maybe an oversight.”

“The fact that they pulled out of the agreement … that’s just pathetic,” Stone later said. “My basement is in horrible shape (because of flooding), and so are a lot of other basements in this subdivision.”

Mallard Point drainage concerns
documented 20 years ago

A letter from attorney Bruce A. Brown, representing Rob Roy Drainage District, to attorney Leonard Stoecker, dated July 21, 1992, states, “The drainage district is obviously concerned that the proposed development could unduly burden the downstream landowners and the drainage district system. In view with past contracts with this developer, we are also concerned that this project may be an ‘on again, off again’ proposition.

Brown urged the Village Board to reconsider their position on the project in light of the “drainage problems in (the) plan.”

A document from former village engineer/administrator Joe Wywrot to the Plan Commission, dated Feb. 10, 1995, states, “Based on wetland requirements, a number of lots in Mallard Point “are not buildable. The plat should indicate that the wetland in the area is to be mitigated if that is (the) intention.”

According to Fagel, developers in 1993 installed Mallard Point Unit 1 detention pond without the inclusion of a bypass pipe to reconnect a damaged drain tile at the location. A document dated April 7, 1998, from then-Village Engineer Brian L. Schiber states, “As a reminder, we are still awaiting the completion of the drain tile replacement around the wetlands.”

So, why wasn’t the bypass tile ever installed? According to Sugar Grove Township Supervisor Dan Nagel, an effort to install the pipe resulted in workers digging into running sand, which halted the project for good.

Kane County take
facilitator role in talks

In spring 2009 Kane County began serving as facilitator among all three negotiating sides in the deal to fix the drainage issue once and for all. Board representative Drew Frasz (Dist. 26-Elburn), the point man during these talks, said the board has a relationship with both the village and Drainage District, and wants to see the flooding issue through to the end.

“(The negotiations) have been a continual forward movement in a positive direction. It’s been slower than I would’ve liked to see it, but that’s just the necessity of getting all the facts down and engineering right,” he said. “Our goal was to communicate with all parties, find out what’s important to them and what they can bend on.”

Frasz said the 800-pound gorilla in the room during negotiations was the fact that, even if the three sides found a solution to the drainage issue, there wasn’t a funding mechanism to make it happen. Kane County then acquired a stimulus fund (otherwise known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act) of approximately $16,800,000 in fall 2009.

“Chairman (Karen) McConnaughay proposed that we make this funding available to any governmental agency in Kane County, to be used on drainage- and water-related projects,” Frasz said. “The Mallard Point issue was the impetus for that idea and, of course, the prime project that we wanted to fund with that money.”

Fagel said Kane County has been a true partner to the Drainage District in these negotiations.

“The County Board Chair, County Board member Drew Frasz and the Water Resources department have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us in the investigation, solution, financing and potential resolution (of the drainage issue),” he said.

As part of the deal, the Drainage District was slated to receive a $330,000 loan out of recovery bonds from the county.

“Those bonds have to be paid back, but it’s long term, low interest,” Frasz said.

If the drainage project is completed, Mallard Point residents will pay 50 percent of the project’s cost over 20 years.

The Sauer family was set to receive $275,000 from the village for the easement. Frasz said that during the negotiations, the village did not express a concern with the dollar amount.

According to Frasz, Sauer himself owns a small parcel of wetland on the north end of his family’s property and is willing to donate that land to the village as part of the easement deal.

Sauer said that he did not want to directly comment on the negotiations.

Letters from the Sauer family and Rob Roy Drainage District, including a cover letter from Kane County, were delivered to Village Hall on Tuesday. All three letters urged the village to reconsider its stance and re-enter negotiations with the other two sides.

“It’s entirely up to the village to decide if they want to move forward (with negotiations). As far as (Kane) County’s position, I’ve made it clear all along that the county is not ready or willing to give up on this project or the residents, whether they are in the municipality or in the unincorporated areas,” Frasz said. “We want to get the project done and we want to get it done this year. It’s really the village’s call … we ask them to look at the current situation, which is greatly improved, and reconsider jumping back into this thing with both feet.”

IDNR reminds snowmobile operators to practice safety

Additional opportunities to take safety courses in 2012
SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reminding snowmobile operators and riders to take extra caution this year when the snow begins to fall in Illinois.

Every year throughout the state, people are seriously injured or lose their lives on snowmobiles. Many of these accidents could have been prevented had proper precautions been taken and common sense been used.

In most instances, being alert, knowing the trail, and traveling at a reasonable rate of speed for trail conditions can prevent most accidents. In North America, more than 50 percent of snowmobile fatalities involve intoxicated operators.

Last season (2010-11) in Illinois, 47 reported snowmobile accidents resulted in 1 fatality.

“Snowmobiling is a fun activity for thousands of people in Illinois each year, but that fun can be quickly eclipsed if safety isn’t the top priority,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “If you are planning to snowmobile this season but haven’t yet taken a safety course, there are new opportunities to do so in 2012.”

Starting in 2012, two new online snowmobile safety courses will be available the public to become familiar with safe sledding practices or to refresh themselves on staying safe. Individuals will be able to earn legal safety certification through either www.snowmobilecourse.com or www.snowmobile-ed.com. Both companies charge a fee of $29.50 to complete their course.

While IDNR encourages everyone to take a snowmobile safety class before their first ride of the season, state law requires that persons at least 12 years of age and less than 16 years must have in possession a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of Competency issued by IDNR in order to operate a snowmobile alone.

The IDNR continues to offer free traditional classroom safety classes though most have taken place for this season.

Current snowmobile safety education courses require students attend an eight-hour class where certified instructors teach basic safety principles, maintenance, operation, winter survival, regulations and a proper attitude of respect for the student’s fellow person and the environment.

Basic safety tips for safe snowmobiling:
• Know your equipment and make sure that equipment is in proper working order.

• Wear sensible, protective clothing designed for snowmobiling, such as a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice chips and flying debris.

• Avoid wearing long scarves. They may get caught in moving parts of the snowmobile.

• Know the terrain you are going to ride. If unfamiliar to you, ask someone who has traveled over it before. Be aware of trails or portions of trails that may be closed.

• Drowning is one cause of snowmobile fatalities. When not familiar with the thickness of the ice or water currents, avoid these areas.

• Know the weather forecast and especially the ice and snow conditions in the area.

• Always use the buddy system. Never ride alone or unaccompanied.

• Travel at a reasonable rate of speed for your visibility conditions.

Reminder to riders and hikers: A minimum of 4 inches of snow cover must be present for
snowmobile use on state-managed property. Call ahead to site offices to get the latest snow conditions and trail closures at individual sites. Ignoring these closures can result in a minimum $75 fine and possible arrest. For a list of site offices please visit the IDNR website at http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/.

Agency on Aging seeks volunteer for advisory council

Kane County—The Agency on Aging of Northeastern Illinois is seeking a Kane County resident or person employed in Kane County to represent the county on its Advisory Council. The position is for the remainder of an unexpired term, and the appointee may then serve a full three-year term.

The primary qualifications required for this volunteer position are a sincere interest in benefiting senior citizens and a desire to make the public aware of the services available to seniors. Interested people should contact Dawn Simon at the agency by Friday, Jan. 27, at P.O. Box 809, Kankakee, IL 60901, or by phone at (815) 939-0727 or 1-800-528-2000.

The Area Agency on Aging of Northeastern Illinois is a nonprofit organization responsible for developing and coordinating a network of services for older persons throughout an eight-county area in northeastern Illinois.

The agency informs and advises public and private agencies and the general public of the needs of older persons living in the area, and acts as an advocate on their behalf. The agency serves DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Other information about the agency and other topics of interest to the elderly and links to other resources are available at the agency’s website, www.ageguide.org.

Start your adventure training now

Three-city adventure race chooses Aurora area
Regional—The land and water trails of the Aurora area were key in determining the location of an inaugural adventure race planned for the region on May 27.

The three-city series of hybrid-style adventure races will draw participants and spectators to challenge and push their overall adventure racing skills and fortitude.

The local race is stage 2 of the three-stage series and will span from Batavia to North Aurora to Aurora on May 27. The first race will be held in late April in Beloit, Wis., and the final leg of the series will be in Rockford, Ill., on a date still to be determined.

Each six-hour race features paddle, mountain biking and urban obstacle components and are designed to include water, land trails and parks with obstacle components at the end. A portion of proceeds will support local community initiatives aimed to strengthen and encourage outdoor pursuits.

According to the United States Adventure Racing Association, adventure racing is sweeping the nation at a phenomenal rate. Adventure racing is one of the few sports where just completing a race is often considered a victory.

There will be four main competitive categories that individuals and teams can compete in—Amateur, Team, Youth and Pro. There are a number of adventure race training series and clinics planned leading up to the different races that will be announced soon.

Paddle and Trail, the sponsor of the series, is currently seeking people interested in helping in any way with the races, and is also planning on developing a race committee in each city. For further information, call (608) 931-6895 or e-mail therese@paddleandtrail.com.

Local Senator’s son serves on USS Kidd

Served on ship that rescued Iranian fishing boat from suspected pirates
AURORA—As widely reported on Jan. 6, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Kidd rescued an Iranian fishing boat that had been commandeered by suspected pirates just days after Tehran warned the United States to keep its warships out of the Persian Gulf.

U.S. Navy Ensign Hans Lauzen of Aurora is serving as Combat Electronics Officer on the USS Kidd on his first deployment, after graduating and being commissioned at the University of Southern California in May 2011.

American forces flying off the guided-missile destroyer responded to a distress call from the Iranian vessel, the Al Molai, which had been held captive for more than 40 days, the U.S. Navy said Friday. The Kidd was sailing in the Arabian Sea, after leaving the Persian Gulf, when it came to the sailors’ aid.

A U.S. Navy team boarded the ship last Thursday and detained 15 suspected Somali pirates. They had been holding the 13-member Iranian crew hostage and were using the boat as a “mother ship” for pirating operations in the Persian Gulf.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “This is an incredible story … a great story,” explaining that the very same American ships that Iran protested for recently traveling through the Strait of Hormuz were responsible for the Iranian vessel’s recovery.

The episode occurred after a week of hostile rhetoric from Iranian leaders, including a statement by Iran’s Army chief that American vessels are no longer welcome in the Gulf. Iran also warned that it could block the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway that carries to market much of the oil pumped in the Middle East.

Nulan said the Navy had made a “humanitarian gesture” in rescuing and taking the Iranians on board, feeding them, and ensuring that they were in good health before setting them safely on their way.

Ensign Hans Lauzen is the son of Illinois State Senator (R-25) Chris Lauzen and his wife Sarah, of Aurora.

Going green

Solar power system now operational at Midwest Groundcovers
St. Charles—Midwest Groundcovers’ 99-acre nursery in St. Charles now utilizes 37.5 kilowatts (kW) of solar energy.

Realgy LLC, an alternative energy service supplier in Illinois, owns the solar photovoltaic (PV) system now installed at Midwest’s headquarters. As part of Realgy’s commitment to generating local renewable energy, Realgy funded the project and hand-picked Midwest Groundcovers as a test-site for the installation.

“We are excited to announce the completion of the Midwest Groundcovers solar project,” says Michael Vrtis, president of Realgy. “Realgy made this investment as a trial and looks forward to Illinois promoting renewable energy so we can continue to install and provide the benefits of renewable energy to businesses in Illinois.”

Renewable Energy Alternatives of Northbrook, Ill., installed the solar PV system on the roof of Midwest’s maintenance building.

“Midwest Groundcovers’ facility is a beautiful nursery and agricultural center. We are excited to contribute to the use of solar energy for Midwest to generate electricity,” said Renewable Energy President Bernie Schmidt of the installation.”

The Midwest Groundcovers solar PV system will produce over 48,430 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy annually and more than one million kWh over the next 25 years. This is enough energy to power approximately 13 average U.S. homes each year. The environmental benefits associated with the system will offset nearly 900,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over the initial 25 years of operation.

Gary Knosher, president of Midwest Groundcovers, is enthusiastic about the project.

“All of our products use solar energy since we are a plant nursery,” Knosher said. “Adding the ability to generate clean solar energy to satisfy some of our annual electricity requirements is really exciting and builds on our sustainable commitment. This is why our vice president, Stan Schumacher, initially pursued the project for us.”

“At Midwest, we have always considered ourselves responsible stewards of the environment, and the solar panel initiative naturally aligns with our company’s sustainable practices,” said Schumacher.

Midwest Groundcovers hosted an official Turn-On Ceremony for the solar PV system on Monday. Numerous green industry leaders and community representatives attended.

Renewable Energy Alternatives installs products manufactured to conserve, save and produce clean energy. For more information about this organization, please contact Andrew Patellaro at (847) 291-7693 or visit Renewable Energy on the web at www.renewableenergyalt.com.

Realgy LLC is an alternative energy service supplier providing natural gas and electricity to commercial and residential consumers in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Visit their website at www.realgyenergyservices.com or contact Michael Vrtis at (860) 233-2270.

Midwest Groundcovers LLC is an industry leader in the propagation, growth and wholesale distribution of quality container nursery stock. The company operates over 300 acres of state-of-the-art nursery production facilities at five locations in St. Charles, Virgil, and Glenn, Mich.

Visit Midwest Groundcovers LLC on the web at www.midwestgroundcovers.com. For more information about this project or to obtain photographs of the event, please contact Jill Bondi at (847) 742-1790.

County Board votes for settlement with AFSCME

Kane County—The Kane County Board voted Tuesday to authorize an agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3966 concerning the 45 Health Department union employees who were laid off Nov. 8, 2010. The agreement includes a monetary payout and an extension of recall rights to three years, up from one year.

“This closes a difficult chapter in the history of the Kane County Health Department,” said Paul Kuehnert, Health Department executive director. “I feel this is a fair settlement for both sides. I look forward to working together with AFSCME, and our staff represented by AFSCME, as we continue to provide the essential services of public health to Kane residents.”

Each of the 45 union employees will receive $500, plus an amount that would have been received for 16 days of work and in short-term sick day accrual benefits had those employees remained actively employed through Nov. 30, 2010. In addition, the affected employees will be eligible to be recalled for employment for up to three years. This is an increase from the one-year recall included in the standard union contract.

The 2010 layoffs were brought about by a reorganization of the Health Department due to declining revenues from state programs administered by Kane County. The reorganization saw the transfer of a set of individual health services, such as mother-baby case management, to the three Federally Qualified Health Centers serving Kane County.

“Despite all the dire predictions about people falling through the cracks, the FQHCs have proved their ability to provide these important services,” Kuehnert stated. “This is a good example of responsible reorganization of local government in partnership with private community agencies, assuring that the Health Department can continue to provide the vital services of protecting and promoting the health of our entire community.”

Pet massage, swimming rolled into one

Ron Hanik combines both in nearby A+ Pet Massage and Swimming
Oswego—Ron Hanik of A+ Pet Massage and Swimming now offers canine massage and swimming in two convenient locations and economically-priced at 23 Washington Street in Oswego and 743 Edgewood in Wood Dale.

Hanik is a licensed massage therapist, certified in pet massage from the Pet Massage Institute and dog training from the Animal Behavior College. He also holds his MSW degree as a clinical social worker.

Loving pets and having acquired a dog with behavior problems, Hanik became interested in solving the problem of his dog and others. He began studying dog training and pet massage, traveling the dog agility circuit for two years. Ultimately he linked the two specialties, eventually adding the pool to the mix and opening first his Wood Dale location and, more recently, his Oswego location.

Swimming, providing non weight-bearing exercise increases muscle tone, aids in recovering from surgery and alleviates arthritic pain. According to Hanik, “Some dogs, when put in the water, are not able to kick with their back legs. But there are points in the paws that stimulate this ability and soon an immobile dog is working his back legs.”

Dogs are fitted with a life vest before entering the 82-84 degree pool that is equipped with a resting platform. Swimming is alternated with massage right in the pool.

Dogs come to Hanik for fun swims and exercise as well as therapy. Hanik performs massage on cats as well. His massage techniques help alleviate common ailments in dogs and cats and result in reduced joint pain, increased flexibility, alleviated internal organ problems and reduced emotional problems.

According to Hanik, “Swimming is the best play activity for your dog because of its low impact nature. It can be done through the dog’s entire life span.”

The greatest reward for Hanik is seeing the smiles on the faces of the owners as their pets improve.

Forest preserve district reminds snowmobilers to be safe, sober on the trails

Geneva—With winter officially here and snow sure to follow, the Kane County Forest Preserve District released a statement reminding snowmobilers to stay safe and follow the law.

“Snowmobiling is great exercise that brings people outdoors to interact with nature and each other. It is great for stress release and good mental health,” said Forest Preserve Officer Rick Splittgerber. “But it’s so important to be safe, use common sense, and follow all laws while riding.”

Splittgerber suggests the following safety tips before every trip:

• Point your snowmobile in a safe direction.
• Check the steering system. Does it move easily?
• Check the throttle. Does it move easily? Press in and release. Make sure it is not frozen in the “on” position.
• Check the brakes. Do they stick or bind?
• Check the headlights and taillights. Do they both work?
• Check the fuel level. Is it enough for the return trip?
• Check the oil injection. Is the oil well full?
• Check the emergency stop switch. Does it work?
• Is the track clear of snow and ice?
• Are you dressed properly?
• Always tell someone where you are going and approximately when you expect to be back.
• Never go alone. Always use the buddy system. Your life may depend on it.

In additional to regular trail signage, this year, “You drink, you ride, you lose” signs have been posted along the trail. The district said it hopes the signs will discourage riders from being under the influence of alcohol while operating a snowmobile.

Trails are patrolled by the Forest Preserve District police, the Kane County Mounted Rangers, and the Snowmobile Safety Patrol.

In the Kane County forest preserves, snowmobiling is only allowed on trails marked specifically for this purpose, including:

• Campton Forest Preserve (on internal, marked trails only)
• Great Western Trail (west of Wasco, only)
• Hampshire Forest Preserve (on internal trails only)
• Snowmobiling is also allowed for transit only through the following:
• Burlington Prairie Forest Preserve (transit through preserve only on marked trail)
• Glenwood Park Forest Preserve (on the Batavia Branch of the Illinois Prairie Path)
• Rutland Forest Preserve (parking only)
• Muirhead Springs Forest Preserve (transit through preserve only on marked trail)

There must be 4 inches of snow, and the ground must be frozen. Snowmobiling hours are sunrise to sunset, except on the Great Western Trail, west of Wasco, where it is permitted from sunrise to 11 p.m. The speed limit in all preserves and on all trails is 15 mph, except the Great Western Trail west of Wasco, where it is 35 mph. Riders must stay on trails as marked.

The district also wants riders to be aware of recent changes made to the Illinois Snowmobile Registration and Safety Act, in April 2011. Snowmobiles must now be covered by liability insurance (unless riders stay exclusively on private property not denoted as a snowmobile trail). Proof of insurance is required. Additionally, non-Illinois residents are required to purchase a yearly snowmobile trail use sticker, if the vehicle is not registered in Illinois.

For more information on snowmobiling in the Kane County forest preserves, visit kaneforest.com/publications/brochures/winterActivities.pdf.

New motor vehicle laws enforced by Illinois police

Springfield—Beginning Jan. 1, Illinois State Police (ISP) began enforcing new motor vehicle laws that passed in 2011, as the push to decrease traffic fatalities remains a top priority for law enforcement officials across Illinois.

The ISP’s most common traffic violations—speeding, DUI, seat belts, and distracted driving—remain a top priority for ISP troopers to enforce, and will be further enhanced with new laws that took effect at the beginning of the year.

“Traffic fatalities are under 1,000 for the third straight year, but one traffic fatality is one too many,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “Although there are many factors that contribute to the reduction of traffic crash fatalities, it is no coincidence that seat belt compliance in Illinois has increased, as the number of fatalities has decreased.”

Grau also pointed to the fact that public safety partnerships and awareness campaigns also contribute to the compliance level of motorists and passengers.

The ISP continues to support safety education programs and initiatives, which have had a direct impact on public safety and have reduced the number of traffic crash fatalities on Illinois roadways. As of Dec. 29, 2011, preliminary data indicated Illinois had experienced 821 traffic crash fatalities in 2011, which are 26 fatalities less than the same time period in 2010.

Seat belts for all occupants
Illinois State Police will enforce a new seat belt law that requires all passengers of a motor vehicle to be properly restrained when the vehicle is operated on a street or highway.

The previous legislation only required the front seat driver, passenger, and passengers under the age of 19 to wear a seat belt. The new legislation requires all passengers traveling inside a vehicle to be properly restrained. The new law does not apply to back seat taxicab passengers, authorized emergency vehicles or those issued a medical exemption.

Enforcement of federal motor carrier
safety administration regulation

This new regulation prohibits the use of a hand-held mobile device by anyone driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). The regulation also prohibits motor carriers from requiring drivers to use a hand-held device while operating a CMV on a highway. The only exceptions are when the mobile device is being used with a hands-free application, when the CMV is pulled over and completely stopped at a safe location, or when a CMV driver is requesting emergency police or fire services.

Since the inception of distracted driving laws in 2010, the Illinois State Police has issued over 19,540 citations and written warnings to distracted drivers. Commercial motor vehicle operators account for 2.5 percent of the citations and warnings issued.

A mobile telephone is considered a mobile communication device that falls under or uses any commercial mobile radio service as defined by the Federal Communications Commission. The definition does not include two-way or Citizens Band (CB) radio services.

Truck speed limits
This new law took effect on Jan. 3 and increases the speed limit for second division vehicles traveling on four-lane highways where the speed limit is 65 miles per hour.

The legislation removes the split speed limit provision for second division vehicles with gross weights of 8,001 pounds (or more) operated on a four-lane highway outside the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will. The previous law restricted second division vehicles to a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour.

FitMama invites public to grand opening, ribbon cutting

La Fox—FitMama is inviting women to bring their families and their resolutions to the FitMama grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 7, from 9 a.m. 1 p.m. at 1N254 LaFox Road, Unit E, in downtown La Fox. Ribbon-cutting will take place at 10 a.m. Refreshments will be served and raffles will be offered, as well as a chance to meet the team of 16 Founding FitMamas.

Founder Erin Schaefer started FitMama Bootcamp in Elburn in May 2011 with a half-dozen local moms in a park in her neighborhood, and within months, FitMama grew by word of mouth to nearly 50 women. This prompted a recent expansion into the new indoor facility located in downtown LaFox. FitMama offers a variety of classes in addition to the bootcamp sessions, including yoga, pilates, Zumba and kickboxing. Childcare is also available for morning sessions for a small additional fee.

Since losing nearly 100 pounds with the help of a personal trainer, Erin has competed in nine triathlons (even one running barefoot) and a half marathon and is always eager to set further goals, including training for an Ironman 70.3 in 2012.

Erin is an NCSF Board Certified Personal Trainer with over 1,000 hours of training experience training women and men ranging in age from 15 to 75. She has experience with performance enhancement training for athletes, nutrition consultations, and is also a Power Plate specialist and is AED/CPR certified.

Erin is unlike any other trainer because of her ability to relate to clients who aren’t as fitness-focused as others. Her passion for training shows through in her vast knowledge of function and movement of the musculoskeletal system, how these are affected by past lifestyle habits and other factors, and the best methods for changing these for the greatest outcome.

A mother of two young children, she always emphasizes the importance of setting time aside for yourself to stay healthy and fit.

“I make my children the reason I workout, not the excuse not to,” she said.

For more information, contact Erin at erin@iamafitmama.com or (630) 337-6001 or visit IAmAFitMama.com.

New electronic products disposal law in effect

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Did you get a new TV for Christmas? Are you ready to throw out the old computer? You will have to find other ways to get rid of these outdated products, according to a new law.

Effective Jan. 1, a new phase of the Electronic Products Recyling and Reuse Act went into effect. It establishes a landfill ban on 17 electronic products. Things like TVs, monitors, electronic keyboards, cable receivers and printers will no longer be collected with the regular trash.

At the regular Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Trustee Jeff Walter raised the question about how to get rid of electronic products if Waste Management could no longer pick them up.

According to the law, electronics must now be taken to a registered recycler where they will be disposed of in a way that does not waste the valuable resources of our landfills and potentially contaminate groundwater, as under the old system of dumping in landfills.

The village is checking with Waste Management to see if other arrangements are available, perhaps for a fee. Otherwise, Kane County has three locations that routinely collect electronic equipment. With the economy the way it is, people might be willing to reuse.

“You can probably put it out at the trash, and these days, somebody will take it,” Dave Anderson said.

For more information, visit www.countyofkane.org under R for Recycling or contact Jennifer Jarland, Kane County’s Recycling Coordinator at recycle@countyofkane.org or (630) 208-3841.

Drop-off locations to recycle electronics in Kane County
Kane County monthly electronics and book recycling collection event:
540 S. Randall Road,
St. Charles
(630) 208-3841
2nd Saturday of each month,
8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Batavia Public Works Department electronics drop-off
200 N. Raddant Road, Batavia
(630) 454-2310
Monday through Friday,
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

ReStore Electronics recycling drop-off
800 N State Street,
Elgin
(847) 742-9905
Wed-Fri, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Sat, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Illinois Recycling Association alerts residents to new Electronics Recycling Law effective Jan. 1

Variety of electronics banned from landfills
OAK PARK, Ill.—The Illinois Recycling Association announces a ban on the disposal of electronics in Illinois landfills as of Jan. 1.

This is in accordance with a new Illinois State Law SB2106 (P.A. 97-0287), signed by Governor Pat Quinn in August 2011, that has drastically limited the types of items that can be disposed in landfills.

The Illinois Recycling Association (IRA) worked with the Environmental Law and Policy Center to ensure that this new law did not result in extra costs to consumers, while addressing the increasing amount of electronics in the waste stream. USEPA estimates that 85 percent of electronics are currently not recycled; these items contain mined materials that can be reclaimed, reused and recycled. Recycling rather than dumping these items saves resources and creates jobs, many of them in the U.S.

“Many members of the Illinois Recycling Association are electronic recyclers, and since 2010, they have been working with electronic manufacturers to fund the recycling of residential items. With the passage of the 2011 law, more items are included, and the goals for recycling are higher. This ensures recycling opportunities throughout the state of Illinois,” said Paul Jaquet, President of IRA.

The law requires manufacturers to pay the cost of recycling; therefore, residents using drop-off sites will not be charged.

“The glass in televisions and monitors is expensive to handle, and some of the plastics are difficult to separate. There is a cost to recover these items, but the environmental benefits far outweigh any disadvantages,” explained Mike Mitchell, Executive Director of IRA.

IRA wis part of a statewide task force that worked to improve the law passed in 2009, originally setting the Jan. 1, 2012 disposal ban. The new law, signed this past summer, bans 17 specific items although most electronic recycling programs accept more than what is listed here.

• Televisions
• Electronic Keyboards
• Video Game Consoles
• Digital Converter Boxes
• Monitors
• Facsimile Machines
• Electronic Mice
• Videocassette Recorders
• Printers
• Scanners
• Small Scale Servers
• Portable Digital Music Players
• Cable Receivers
• Satellite Receivers
• Computers (including
desktop /laptop/tablet)
• Digital Video Disc Recorders & Players

For information on recycling locations, check the Illinois Recycling Association website at www.illinoisrecycles.org.

Aurora Funders Consortium funding application

AURORA—The Aurora Funders Consortium, consisting of Aurora Township, the INC Board, NFP and the United Way of the Fox Valley, has posted its 2012-13 funding application online at http://www.incboard.org/ApplReport.htm. All applications are due no later than 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012.

All community agencies and/or organizations interested in applying for funding must access the application online. All organizations should carefully read the funding criteria. The criteria is different for each of the funders.

For more information, call Jerry Murphy or Marti Cross at the INC Board, (630) 892-5456.

Kane County Animal Control needs volunteers

GENEVA—If you love animals and have two hours a week to spare, you might consider a volunteer program developed by Kane County Animal Control.

The program consists of three levels, allowing volunteers to work their way up to various tasks. Some of the tasks volunteers may do for include folding laundry, washing dishes, data entry, grooming animals, walking animals, participating in rabies clinics and supporting staff at educational events.

Volunteers are asked to make a two-hour-per-week commitment to remain active in the program, must be over 18 years of age and pass a criminal history background check. Anyone interested in volunteer opportunities may visit www.co.kane.il.us/animalControl/ to download information or call (630) 232-3555.

Serendipity brings healing and relaxation

by Lynn Meredith
SYCAMORE—Whether you’re looking for a candle, gem stones and jewelry, or a healing herbal treatment, you will find a calming and peaceful environment at Serendipity, a holistic wellness and gift space in Sycamore at 1325 E. State St. Owner and practitioner Laurie Lipscomb has created a space that welcomes and comforts both customers and clients alike.

Lipscomb, a Northern Illinois University public health graduate, has been studying and practicing alternative therapies for over a decade. Through her own health issues, she found her way past traditional western medicine to Ayurvedic, the Indian version of Chinese medicine. Ayurvedic approaches health and wellness with nutritional, herbal and relaxation therapies.

“Things were going on with my health, and I wasn’t finding alleviation with western medicine. It was pills on top of pills. I started my own self-study. I eventually wanted to help people understand how emotions play into health, especially nutrition, which is not emphasized by most doctors,” Lipscomb said.

Her study took her to Kanyakumary in Milwaukee, a school that trains Ayurvedic practitioners. She studied the Ayurvedic system, herbs to treat pathologies and techniques such as Shirodara, a relaxing, full-body treatment where a steady stream of oil is poured over the forehead.

Interested in many different areas of health and healing, Lipscomb created a retail space where she can promote the things that helped her. The building on the east edge of Sycamore is deceptively small. Inside there is room for a retail store, a consulting room, treatment room and kitchen. There’s even a garden with fire pit where groups often meet. Serendipity offers workshops and classes such as a monthly Henna painting night with a local artist, chakra classes and healing with gem stones.

“I want to create a relaxing, not intimidating, atmosphere here. Most healing spaces try to mimic western medicine offices. It’s what our model is. I’ve found a huge key to (the client) having success is to feel safe. If you feel nervous, it hinders the process,” Lipscomb said.

Lipscomb said her clients first come to her as customers and come back to try her treatments. The store displays cases with jewelry that Lipscomb will custom bead, baskets of healing gemstones, books and aromatherapy.

“The stones are the biggest thing people come in for. There’s nowhere in the area where you can get these. People come in looking for gems to help with emotional and mental tension and to get rid of negativity,” she said.

Her treatment layers in different approaches using Ayurvedic herbs and bodywork that can help someone with issues other treatments have not helped. They can help with digestive upsets, hormonal imbalances, skin problems, pain and emotional issues. By looking at the client’s tongue, checking their pulse and even doing an Indian astrological chart, she can find where the symptoms are coming from.

“I always want to get to the root of it,” she said. “What I most strongly end up doing though is counseling. The classes have created a community of people. It’s surprising how many people are looking for that community.”

For more information, visit serendipity.holistic.com or call (815) 895-5500.

Photo: Laura Lipscomb of West Chicago stands in front of her unique business in Sycamore. Serendipity is a wellness and education center that specializes in ayurvedic (eastern/herbal) medicine and offers a wide array of treatments and services. Photo by John DiDonna

Aurora woman could face prison time for role in fatal 2009 motorcycle crash

ST. CHARLES—An Aurora woman awaits sentencing that could include prison time for her role in a deadly crash on Route 47 that killed two area motorcyclists and injured several others nearly three years ago.

Alia N. Bernard, 27, pleaded guilty and will return to court Feb. 8, 2012, to learn if she is sentenced to probation or between six and 28 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. She remains free on a $5,000 bond.

On May 23, 2009, Bernard was driving southbound on Route 47 when she allegedly struck a vehicle stopped behind two others setting off a chain reaction that pushed the first vehicle into the path of a group of oncoming motorcycles. Wade Thomas, 44, and his passenger and wife Denise Thomas, 45, were both killed when Wade’s Harley Davidson motorcycle struck a vehicle that was pushed into his path.

Toxicology tests show that Bernard had cannabis in her system when the crash occurred.

Get ready for a colder and wetter winter

See also: Local resident warns of potentially severe winter weather

CHICAGO—The National Weather Service is forecasting that this winter will be “colder and wetter than average.”

Long range weather forecasts from AccuWeather show the Chicago area could see 50 to 58 inches of snow this winter, compared to the 56 inches of snow received last winter. This is all due to a persistent La Nina weather pattern.

With these predictions in mind, the Kane County Office of Emergency Management has enhanced the County’s severe winter storm plans to include new technologies and procedures to better coordinate a county-wide response while improving communication with the public.

To provide effective planning coordination prior to the onset of a severe winter storm the OEM will conduct county wide briefings with municipalities to share pre-storm related information from the National Weather Service and collaborate on a county-wide response.

During the storm, the OEM will use an emergency management program that will serve as a central depository for up-to-date, real-time information that can be shared among County and municipal officials. This will help to improve the decision making process and better coordinate resources in response to the storm.

The OEM will use a number of new tools to inform the public including utilization of the “emergency alerts” and “road closures” feature on the County’s new website and the use of social media such as Twitter (@KaneCountyOEM). Informational releases to the media will also be used to keep the public informed.

Send holiday video greeting to the deployed

AURORA—Senator Chris Lauzen invites local military families with active servicemen and women to record and send a free personalized holiday season video greeting to their deployed family members.

Through the generosity of the Illinois Center for Broadcasting in Lombard, Ill., military families can record a free professional digital message that will be transmitted via Facebook to their loved ones during this Christmas season.

For more information, call Senator Lauzen at (630) 264-2334. Recording appointments can be scheduled with Illinois Center for Broadcast through Friday, Dec. 16.

Chris and Sarah Lauzen are the proud parents of two sons serving in the United States military. USMC Capt. Ted Lauzen is a pilot stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Their third son, US Navy Ensign Hans Lauzen, is currently deployed onboard the USS Kidd in the Western Pacific Ocean.

“As a parent of a deployed serviceman, I know how excited our son will be to see and hear his family at what can often be a very lonely time for soldiers far from home,” said Senator Lauzen. “We will tell Hans how much we love him, how much his service is appreciated and that there’s a package with his favorite Christmas cookies on its way.”

Senator Lauzen sends his heartfelt thanks to the Illinois Center for Broadcasting for their generous offer to our military families.

Audit Commission to accept applications for auditor general post

Illinois—The Legislative Audit Commission announced this week that it is accepting applications from people interested in appointment as Auditor General of the State of Illinois.

“We encourage anyone who is qualified for this important position to apply,” said Commission Co-chairs, state Sen. Chris Lauzen and state Rep. Frank Mautino. “We intend to conduct a thorough search for the best person or persons to recommend for appointment.”

State law declares that the Auditor General must be “qualified under the Constitution and determined by the General Assembly to be experienced and competent in governmental auditing, financial management, or government operation and knowledge in the subject of state government.”

At the completion of the search, the commission will name several finalists to be interviewed. At least one candidate will then be recommended to the General Assembly for appointment. An affirmative vote of three-fifths of the members of each House is required for appointment. The General Assembly is not required to appoint a candidate recommended by the commission, although it has always relied on the commission’s recommendations.

The auditor general is a constitutional officer charged with the audit of public funds of the state. Currently, the auditor general oversees a staff of 92 and administers a $26.8 million budget. State law requires that each state agency be audited at least biennially. In addition, the auditor general performs investigations and efficiency management or program audits at the direction of the Legislature or the Audit Commission. The current salary is $149,004. State law permits, and the incumbent is seeking, reappointment.

Persons interested in being considered for the appointment should submit resumes to the Legislative Audit Commission, Room 622, Strattor Building, Springfield, Ill., 62706, or via e-mail at AuditCommission@ilga.gov, and postmarked no later than Jan. 31, 2012.

IDOT program helps emergency responders

CHICAGO—A new program by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will provide first responders with critical information to improve emergency care for anyone involved in a car crash.

The Illinois Yellow Dot program is a life-saving, traffic safety initiative with other state departments working together to increase awareness of the voluntary, federally funded program, and provide distribution centers and information for interested residents.

All motorists are encouraged to participate in this unique and effective program which could make the difference between life and death for individuals involved in crashes.

Yellow Dot participants are supplied with a simple, bright yellow decal for their car and a corresponding yellow folder. The decal is placed in a conspicuous and consistent place—in the lower left-hand corner of the rear window, driver’s side. The yellow dot means there is a folder in the glove compartment with important medical information about the motorists. Having access to this information allows first responders to make important decisions regarding emergency treatment and can better prepare emergency hospital staff in the receiving room. Because the first hour following an injury is the most crucial, the Yellow Dot program provides essential personal health information to emergency responders in order to promptly care for a crash victim.
Older drivers are encouraged to update their medical information and have a voice in their emergency treatment in the event of an accident.

The Yellow Dot program, funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, was originally introduced in Connecticut in 2002. For more information and to find a distribution center near you, visit yellowdotillinois.org.

“Ice and Snow—Take It Slow” campaign starts on Illinois roads

CHICAGO—Illinois transportation and law enforcement officials stress safety by urging motorists to prepare for unfavorable winter driving conditions. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois Tollway and the Illinois State Police have partnered to roll out the state’s frontline winter crews and ensure that emergency equipment is ready for the upcoming snow and ice season.

“The historic snowfall amounts last year tested IDOT’s relentless 24/7 operation, in which staff and partners worked tirelessly, safely and effectively to remove heavy amounts of snow and ice from roadways in the most treacherous conditions,” said acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider.

During the 2011-12 winter season, more than 3,690 employees and 1,732 pieces of equipment will be available for deployment as needed by IDOT to keep state routes clear and passable. Last year, the agency spent $84.6 million on snow removal and spread 562,220 tons of salt.

Drivers needing assistance are reminded to dial *999 if they need H.E.L.P truck assistance on the Illinois Tollway.

Other safety tips include:
• Don’t crowd the plow.
• Watch out for black ice roads that appear clear but can be treacherous.
• Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to help prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
• Do not travel unless absolutely necessary—if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
• Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
• Carry a cell phone and dial *999 for roadway assistance.
• Always wear a safety belt.

Motorists are urged to check travel conditions before any trip by calling (800)-452-IDOT (4368), Illinois Tollway information by calling (800) TOLL-FYI or online at gettingaroundillinois.com and click on the “winter road conditions” icon.

Wayne resident appointed to state board for disabilities advocacy group

WAYNE—Robert J. Molitor of Wayne was sworn in as a member of the Board of Directors for The Center for Developmental Disabilities Advocacy and Community Supports. Molitor is the chief operating officer at Alden Management Services in Chicago.

As COO, Molitor is responsible for oversight of nearly 40 sites of care, which include rehabilitation and health care centers, memory care centers, assisted living communities and health facilities for the developmentally disabled.

Molitor and his wife Michele live in Wayne with their teenage son and daughter.

The center is a nonprofit association comprised of more than 200 community-based residential programs that provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities throughout Illinois.

Sugar Grove teen receives 2011 Roscoe Ebey Award

Photo: On Nov. 17, Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez (right) presented Cole Rutter, 13, of Sugar Grove with the Roscoe Ebey Citizen of the Year Award. The event took place at the Sheriff’s Office in Geneva. Richard Ebey (left) was also in attendance. Photo by Keith Beebe

by Keith Beebe
KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Sheriff’s Office presented its Roscoe Ebey Award to three nominees each of the last two years. This year, however, Sheriff Pat Perez knew that one nominee truly stood out from the rest of the field.

That nominee was 13-year-old Cole Rutter of Sugar Grove.

“The last two years we’ve presented this award, the choices that I had were so difficult … that there were three winners in each year, because there were so many people doing so many good things,” Perez said. “This year, (Cole) stood out so much that there was only going to be one winner.”

Rutter was presented the 2011 Roscoe Ebey Award by Sheriff Perez and Richard Ebey, son of the late Roscoe Ebey, on Nov. 17 in a surprise ceremony at the Sheriff’s Office in St. Charles.

Rutter, a seventh-grade student at Kaneland Harter Middle School, suffers from the rare genetic disorder Neurofibromatosis. He and his family have helped raise close to $100,000 for The Children’s Tumor Foundation to fund research in hopes of finding a cure for NF—a disease in which tumors grow on tissue in the nervous system, causing symptoms that range from cognitive deficiency and problems with eyesight to bone deformity, nerve pain, and in some cases, hearing loss.

Neurofibromatosis is currently incurable.

“(Fundraising) has exposed him to a lot more kids and adults that have the disease, and it’s kind of making him aware of what’s going on,” said Cole’s father Dan, who spoke for his shy son during most of the awards ceremony. “We’re very proud of him. He does a lot; he goes door-to-door, (and) we have a lot of support from the community.”

Cole’s father said neither he nor Cole, prior to the award ceremony, had any idea why the Kane County Sheriff’s Office wanted to present Cole with the Roscoe Ebey Award.

“We had no idea. We went on the (web)site and saw what it was all about, but we had no reason to understand why (Cole would receive the award). I work at an elementary school, and the phone rang and said, ‘Sheriff’s Department’ on it,” he said. “I kind of freaked out, and they said (the call was) about Cole. (The administrative assistant) said it was a good thing and they wanted to speak to him and offer him this award. So it was kind of nerve wracking; I wasn’t going to pick (the phone) up, but we did.”

Pat Graceffa, a past recipient of the Roscoe Ebey Award, nominated Cole for this year’s award after following his story on his parents’ Facebook account.

“When I received the award (in 2010), I thought of all the people in Sugar Grove who did so much more than I did,” Graceffa said. “Families like the Rutters were the first ones I thought of who deserved the award more than me. It was wonderful to win the award, but it made you think about what everyone else in the community is doing and how hard they are working.”

The award was created four years ago by the Kane County Sheriff’s Department in honor of World War II veteran Roscoe Ebey, a resident of Aurora who was murdered in his home by a burglar in May 2007. Ebey’s assailant, Hector Mauricio, was arrested at the scene after a neighbor captured him and held him down until police arrived. Mauricio pleaded guilty in September 2010 to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 60 years in prison in June 2011.

Richard Ebey said that, from day one to the final court date for Mauricio, Sheriff Perez was there to answer his questions or simply just to talk to him. Ebey then personally nominated Perez for the 2011 Roscoe Ebey Award.

“My family and myself would like to nominate Sheriff Perez and his department for all the help and kindness he has shown me, my family, neighbors and friends over the last four years. I am sure there are many who will share this nomination with me,” Ebey said.

Ebey said his father Roscoe was just an everyday person who loved people and life.

“When this happened to you and your family, it happened to us,” Perez said to Ebey during the presentation. “We’re friends for life.”

Perez then said he hopes Cole understands how big of an award this is and how much he means to people.

“It’s a big award for a little guy, and we’re proud of you,” Ebey said to Cole. “My dad would be proud of you.”

Fall prescribed burns in area forest preserves

GENEVA—Conditions are once again almost right for the Forest Preserve District to perform prescribed burns in various natural areas throughout Kane County.

Each fall and spring, the district conducts prescribed burns across prairies, woodlands and wetlands to improve or maintain the ecological health of a site. These carefully controlled burns release nutrients from burned plant materials; encourage seed growth; open the woodland floor to sunlight so native wildflowers and plants can flourish, and they reduce an abundance of non-native brush such as buckthorn.

“Fire is a natural and essential ingredient of healthy native ecosystems,” said Drew Ullberg, director of natural resources.

Fires perform a house-cleaning function for nature and woodlands. Prairies are adapted to fire, and depend on it to maintain their unique character.

Sites targeted for the fall burn season include portions of the following properties:

• Big Rock Forest Preserve in Big Rock
• Blackberry Maples Forest Preserve in Elburn
• Bliss Woods Forest Preserve in Sugar Grove
• Bolcum Road Wetlands in St. Charles
• Brunner Family Forest Preserve in West Dundee
• Burnidge Forest Preserve in Elgin
• Fabyan Forest Preserve (East) in Geneva
• Fitchie Creek Forest Preserve in Elgin
• Hannaford Woods/Nickels Farm in Sugar Grove
• Johnson’s Mound in Elburn
• LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles
• Lone Grove Forest Preserve in Maple Park
• Muirhead Springs Forest Preserve in Hampshire
• Pingree Grove Forest Preserve in Hampshire
• Schweitzer Woods Forest Preserve in West Dundee

Before a burn, trained staff survey the preserve and create a detailed plan of action. They then carefully monitor the weather and wait until conditions are right, to minimize the chance of smoke blowing toward homes and roads. Staff also notify residents via mail, so that those with health concerns can avoid the smoke.

For more information on prescribed burns, call (630) 232-5980 or visit kaneforest.com.

Winter storm preparedness week

CHICAGO—Although winter officially arrives in five weeks, winter weather in Illinois could arrive much sooner. Therefore the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is encouraging residents to use Nov. 13-19—Winter Storm Preparedness Week in Illinois—to begin preparing for the extreme cold, wind, ice and snow that often accompanies Illinois winters.

“For the last century, at least one severe winter storm has impacted Illinois each year,” said IDPH Acting Director Dr. Craig Conover. “It’s critical to be proactive and take the time now during Winter Storm Preparedness Week in Illinois to prepare your family, home and vehicles in advance of severe winter weather.”

IDPH is urging residents to take simple precautions and follow these tips to protect themselves from severe winter weather:

• Create an emergency preparedness kit for homes and vehicles, including a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, non-perishable food, blankets, water, a first-aid kit, extra medication and special items for infants, the disabled, elderly and pets.
• Keep an extra supply of heating fuel for homes.
• “Winterize” homes by insulating walls, attics, doors and windows.
• Make sure vehicles are in good operating condition and keep gas tanks full.
• Never leave motors running in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, like garages.
•If traveling, provide travel itineraries to relatives, friends or co-workers.

To further prepare residents for winter hazards, IDPH developed a guide called Weathering Winter with additional information about winter weather tips for staying safe and warm in homes or vehicles. This guide is available on the IDPH website at http://www.idph.state. il.us/public/books/WeathWinter10.pdf or by calling (217) 782-5750.

For more information, visit our website at www.idph.state.il.us/Bioterrorism/default.htm and follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/IDPHOPR.

Hultgren accepts applications for Spring interns

GENEVA—U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14) is now accepting applications for spring semester internships in both his Washington, DC and Geneva offices. The position is unpaid and would run approximately from January to May, 2012. Full-time students or applicants with Illinois ties are preferred. Academic credit is available.

Interns in the Washington, D.C. office will be responsible for greeting visitors, answering phones, giving tours of the U.S. Capitol and assisting staff with policy-related projects.

Interns in the Geneva office may be asked to help with administrative functions, and conduct casework on behalf of constituents.

Resumes and writing samples should be sent to hultgrenresumes@gmail.com by Wednesday, Nov. 23. Candidates will be contacted in December for phone interviews. Candidates from Illinois and candidates who can work at least two full days a week will be given preference. When applying, please specify interest in the spring 2012 internship. For more information, call (202) 225-2976.

KC Sheriff’s Office to begin prescription drug drop-off program

by Keith Beebe
KANE COUNTY—Do you have any unused prescription medication in your home? If so, there’s something you can do with that medication instead of flushing it down the toilet or letting it sit idly on the counter.

The Kane County Sheriff’s Office asks that people dispose of their unused prescription medication in the drug drop-off box located in the lobby of the sheriff’s office, 38W755 Route 38 in St. Charles.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s website, abuse of prescription medication is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggests that teenagers who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began with prescription medication. Prescription drug use is popular among teens who view the medication to be safer than synthetic drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

The drug drop-off box is also a safer alternative to simply throwing prescription medication in the trash or flushing it down the toilet.

“The issue of prescription drug abuse is something that is catching national attention, and one of the ways people obtain these drugs are from unused meds that people have around their house,” said Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler. “These drop boxes provide citizens a safe and easy way to dispose of their unused meds. It also prevents them from making their way into our waterways from people flushing them down the drain because they do not know what else to do with them.”

The drop-off box is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. All prescription medication will be accepted, but syringes are not to be placed in the disposal container.