Category Archives: Regional

Hultgren accepting intern applications for spring 2014

GENEVA—U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) recently announced that he is now accepting applications for spring 2014 semester internships in both his Washington, D.C. and Geneva offices. The position is unpaid and will run approximately from January to May. Academic credit may be available, and schedules can be flexible for those with classes or other obligations. Applicants from the 14th Congressional District are preferred.

“I have spent the last few months gaining valuable Capitol Hill experience while learning vital administrative skills,” said Alex, a current intern. “From learning office procedures and constituent services, to giving tours, to writing constituent response letters and answering their concerns promptly, I’ve honed my understanding of what it takes to run a congressional office effectively while gaining valuable insight into policy and the political process.”

Applicants should be college students or recent graduates, and will assist staff with constituent relations, policy and outreach efforts. Many duties will be administrative in nature, but interns may also be asked to staff Congressman Hultgren at meetings in the district or assist legislative staff in Washington.

Applicants should email a resume, cover letter and writing sample to email.randy@mail.house.gov and specify whether they seek a position for the Geneva or Washington, D.C. office.

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Tornado relief dropbox now available at Elburn Community Center

Elburn & Countryside Community Center
525 N. Main St. (Route 47) Elburn
(630) 365-6655 ElburnCCC@gmail.com ElburnCommunityCenter.com

ELBURN—A tornado relief donation dropbox is currently available in the Elburn Herald office, located in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, 525 N. Main St., Suite 2. Items donated via the dropbox will go toward relief for victims of Sunday’s tornado outbreak, which devastated parts of Central Illinois, as well as parts of Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri.

The dropbox will be available Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Members of the public are encouraged to donate food, clothing and home supplies to the dropbox. Monetary donations may also be made.

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Hultgren accepting intern applications for spring 2014

GENEVA—U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) recently announced that he is now accepting applications for spring 2014 semester internships in both his Washington, D.C. and Geneva offices. The position is unpaid and will run approximately from January to May. Academic credit may be available, and schedules can be flexible for those with classes or other obligations. Applicants from the 14th Congressional District are preferred.

“I have spent the last few months gaining valuable Capitol Hill experience while learning vital administrative skills,” said Alex, a current intern. “From learning office procedures and constituent services, to giving tours, to writing constituent response letters and answering their concerns promptly, I’ve honed my understanding of what it takes to run a congressional office effectively while gaining valuable insight into policy and the political process.”

Applicants should be college students or recent graduates, and will assist staff with constituent relations, policy and outreach efforts. Many duties will be administrative in nature, but interns may also be asked to staff Congressman Hultgren at meetings in the district or assist legislative staff in Washington.

Applicants should email a resume, cover letter and writing sample to email.randy@mail.house.gov and specify whether they seek a position for the Geneva or Washington, D.C. office.

AU awarded 2014 Military Friendly Schools designation

AURORA—Aurora University has been named to the coveted Military Friendly Schools list by Victory Media, the premier media entity for military personnel transitioning into civilian life.

The 2014 Military Friendly Schools list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.

The controversy of pet vaccinations

ILLINOIS—Vaccinations are a critical component to the preventive care of your companion animal. Your health, as well as your pet’s, depends on it. While this may seem like common knowledge to some, the topic of pet vaccination can be quite controversial, making it a hot topic in veterinary medicine today.

Most veterinary professionals agree that vaccinating your pets is the best way to protect them from various life threatening illnesses.

“Controversy about vaccinating your pet is usually centered around misinformation or the false concept in humans that suggest vaccinations cause autism,” said Dr. Bethany Schilling, Clinical Instructor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Choosing vaccinations specific to your animal’s health and lifestyle should be an informed decision made between you and your veterinarian.

Many pet owners believe that the possible dangers of pet vaccinations outweigh the positive aspects. One risk that worries pet owners is the chance that their pet will have a negative reaction from the vaccination. While this is a viable concern, Schilling and many other veterinarians agree that this occurrence is rare.

“Vaccine reactions are usually non-life threatening, are easily treated, and can typically be prevented in the future,” Schilling said. “Reactions in dogs are typically swelling of the face or hives, and reactions in cats are typically vomiting or diarrhea.”

Vaccines do not guarantee that your pet will not become sick, just like a human getting the flu vaccine can still catch the flu, but it will likely minimize the seriousness of illness in your pet.

Vaccines help build up your pets’ immune system so that their chances of becoming ill when exposed to disease are much lower. They can prevent many upper respiratory diseases in cats such as herpes, calicivirus, and panleukemia, as well as feline leukemia and rabies. There are vaccines to prevent various diseases, such as parvovirus, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Bordetella and rabies, in dogs as well. Bordetella is found to be one of the causes of “kennel cough,” a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs.

The two classifications of pet vaccines are core and non-core vaccines.

“Core vaccines are things the entire pet population should be vaccinated against, due to universal risk,” Schilling said. “Non-core vaccines are recommended based on region of the country in which the patient lives and individual patient risk factors, like lifestyle and travel.”

Core vaccines would include vaccines against common diseases, like rabies, whereas vaccines against Lyme disease or kennel cough are among the non-core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are not usually considered necessary, but are available to pets that are at risk for illness due to geographic locations or specific lifestyle needs.

Another debate among many pet owners is whether performing at-home vaccinations on your pet is easier and more efficient than taking them to a veterinary clinic. When making this decision, it is important to keep in mind that vaccines are extremely sensitive to handling. Various factors such as extreme temperatures can inactivate them, and vaccines purchased at a feed store are not guaranteed to be effective.

“Vaccines administered at a vet clinic are handled appropriately and care can be made to make sure the pet is vaccinated at appropriate intervals to ensure protection,” Schilling said. “The pet is examined prior to receiving vaccines each visit to make sure they are healthy.”

Dave Anderson, Village President

Officials celebrate Anderson bridge groundbreaking

ELBURN—Decades in the planning, construction is set to begin on the Anderson Road bridge as public officials put shovels in the ground on Monday.

The shovels symbolized breaking ground on the project that will provide an overpass to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Officials from all levels of government, from village to federal, gathered at the construction site near the intersection of Anderson Road and Prairie Valley Street in Elburn for Monday’s ceremony.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said reaching this point in the project is the result of hard work, cooperation, collaboration and compromise, along with a heavy dose of federal, county and state funding.

The project will extend Anderson Road, which currently ends at Prairie Valley Street, to Keslinger Road to the south, as well as build the bridge, which will provide an alternate to crossing the railroad tracks on Route 47 through Elburn.

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson, Lauzen, Kane County Board member/Transportation Committee Chair Drew Frasz and Kane County engineer Carl Shoedel were among those who spoke at the event.

State Rep. Kay Hatcher, ShoDeen Inc. president Dave Patzelt, Kaneland School District Superintendent Jeff Schuler and Elburn trustee Bill Grabarek were among those in attendance.

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson said he could remember when there were no bridges over what was then the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. There was just a rickety old bridge over Harley Road, he said.

The progress that the Anderson Road bridge exemplifies is the result of the foresight and cooperation of governmental partners, Anderson said.

Kane County Engineer Carl Shoedel earned a round of applause when he said that, while happy to see this progress, he will be even more excited when the road and the bridge is open to traffic, and the project is completed on time and under budget.

Martam Construction, Inc., together with Herlihy Mid-Continent Company, was awarded its $14.4 million bid on the project, approximately 25 percent less than the engineer’s original project estimate of $19.8 million.

Breaking ground this fall will give it time to freeze and thaw throughout the winter, leaving it ready for construction to begin by spring, Frasz said. He anticipates the project to be completed by late 2014 or early spring 2015.

Frasz said that there was a time in the past year when completion of the project was in question. Patzelt owned the property necessary for the right-of-way for the bridge, and annexation of this land for ShoDeen’s Elburn Station development was a prerequisite to the construction of the bridge.

But Frasz said that in the end, Patzelt and the village were able to come to an agreement on the development. He credited village trustees, and Grabarek in particular, for their careful consideration of the details of the project.

Anderson extolled the positive outcomes that will take place as a result of the bridge, including increased connectivity and accessibility to the Metra station, the industrial park and the downtown area, as well as the safety and welfare of the people within the community.

Anderson said that when the bridge is finished, a bike and pedestrian pathway will provide access to county forest preserves Elburn Woods and Johnson’s Mound.

He reflected that the project had involved generations of elected officials.

“It was all of us,” Anderson said, mentioning the Kane County Board, the Transportation Committee with Frasz’s leadership and Jan Carlson before him, former Elburn Village President Jim Willey, as well as former Speaker of the U.S. House Dennis Hastert, who brought the federal dollars home to Kane County.

“This was started before us,” Anderson said. “We were fortunate enough to be a part of it.”

The build-out of the Elburn Station development will begin once the bridge has been completed.

“The bridge will provide for the efficient movement of traffic, and will be a catalyst for positive development of the entire region,” Anderson said.

Twenty years from now, we’ll be astounded how much activity and how much traffic this bridge will have,” he added.


Photos by Patti Wilk

School bus, car collide in Big Rock

BIG ROCK—Big Rock firefighters and Kane County Sheriff officers on Tuesday morning responded to a collision involving a car and occupied school bus on Route 30, west of Davis Road.

The driver of the bus and vehicle involved were transported to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. All nine kids on the bus were released at the scene and transported by a different bus to Big Rock Elementary School.

Ride-In Kane rate increase

KANE COUNTY—A rate increase of $1, for a total of $4, per ride for the Ride-In Kane program will become effective on Jan. 1, 2014.

The rate increase is necessary in order to continue to deliver the quality Ride-In Kane services, which have been provided to persons with disabilities and the elderly in Kane County since 2008.

For information, call (888) 480-8549.

KC to accept applications for appointment to committee

KANE COUNTY—Applications from Kane County residents interested in the next available appointment to the Mental Health Advisory Committee for Northern Kane County will be accepted at the Kane County Board Office until 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 1, 2013.

The purpose of the Mental Health Advisory committee is to identify and assess current mental health services in Northern Kane County in its respective jurisdiction, monitor any expansion or contraction of such services, and provide a report to the county board with recommendations for additional services.

Applicants must submit a resume and cover letter to the County Board Office outlining their qualifications and explaining their interest in the position.

Applications can be submitted in person, by mail or fax, or electronically, to Kane County Government Center, 719 Batavia Ave., Building A County Board Office, 3rd Floor, Geneva, Ill. 60134.

Elburn resident involved in crash

ELBURN—Two cars were involved in a crash on Route 38 near the Fox Valley Wildlife Center at 6 p.m on Oct. 7, according to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

A 17-year-old Elburn resident, Philomena Taglia, was driving a 2003 Ford Taurus west on Route 38. As she was turning left at 45W061 Route 38, she reportedly hit a 2001 Honda CR-V traveling east.

The driver of the Honda was 40-year-old St. Charles resident Timothy Sullivan. There were two children in his car in car seats.

Taglia, Sullivan and his two young passengers were taken to Delnor Community Hospital for evaluation. No one was seriously hurt.

No tickets were issued. Route 38 was closed for about an hour.

Keck announces bid for District 50 in Illinois General Assembly

ILLINOIS—William F. Keck, CPA and Notre Dame University graduate, is seeking the Republican nomination for Representative of the 50th District in the Illinois General Assembly.

After serving 20 years as Kane County auditor, Keck retired at the completion of his fifth term, in December 2012. He said he is concerned about the “sorry state of affairs in Illinois state government,” and believes that his understanding of government operations can help restore sanity to state government.

Seeking to be a “voice for fiscal responsibility,” Keck has decided to come out of retirement and run for office.

MP crash claims life of Cortland resident

MAPLE PARK—A Cortland woman died Monday afternoon as a result of injuries sustained from a car accident in Maple Park.

A preliminary investigation indicates that Shanay Martin, 32, of Cortland, was traveling westbound on Route 38, east of Watson Road, in her Mercury Marquis when she approached a line of cars that were stopped and waiting for a vehicle to turn south onto Watson Road. In an effort to avoid striking the rear of the last car stopped in the line of traffic, Martin crossed over into the oncoming lane of traffic and was struck by a Chevrolet pickup truck traveling eastbound on Route 38.

Martin was later pronounced deceased at Delnor-Community Hospital. The driver of the truck, Benjamin Frerichs, 35, of Maple Park, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

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Kindness Campaign honored by Kane County Board

Photo: Speaker Renee Dee of Sugar Grove proclaiming Oct.13-19 2013 Kindness in Kaneland week at Tuesday’s Kane County Board meeting. Photo by Lynn Logan

GENEVA—The Kane County Board displayed a great honor to the Kindness Campaign on Tuesday, proclaiming Oct. 13-19 as Kindness in Kaneland Week. Coordinators representing the campaign were in attendance during the proclamation.

The members involved were delighted to have the Kindness Campaign recognized throughout their community.

“This is a tremendous honor for all the communities that make up Kaneland. So many individuals, businesses, community organizations, and villages have put a lot of time and effort into launching the Kindness Campaign, and the proclamation is really a testament to all of our Kindness partners. We couldn’t be more pleased,” said Leigh Ann Reusche, Kindness Campaign director.

Renee Dee, a coordinator for the Kindness Campaign and founder of PEAK for Kids, Inc., expressed a similar sentiment.

“It’s been a great honor. I can full heartedly say it’s one of the coolest things I’ve been involved with in my life,” she said.

The Kindness Campaign has grown greatly in popularity since it was established four months ago. The coordinators of the campaign didn’t expect all the support they received to happen so early on after creating the campaign. To date, they’ve received an outpouring of support and interest from over 300 Kaneland community members, organizations, businesses, and students.

“We had no idea the campaign would grow so quickly. We worked nearly a year on establishing the ground work for ‘something.’ When we went out to meet with our community leaders, we saw a generous community full of love for our youth and who were all working differently to empower them,” Reusche said.

Different organizations have showered the campaign with support in the form of donations and spreading the word about the cause. On Oct. 16, Munchie P’s in Elburn will donate 10 percent of all of their profits that day to the campaign. Also, the Sugar Grove Library has an entire display allocated for the campaign, with information on how to get involved. There are also T-shirts, bracelets, and decals for sale to help promote kindness in the community.

In addition to all the community support, the coordinators of the campaign said they are truly pleased with the effect the campaign has had on Kaneland kids, as they have established their own activities and programs out of their own interest for the cause.

“The kids understand the idea behind the campaign, which is very important. It’s our social responsibility to be nice and tolerant of others,” Dee said.

Scarecrow Fest celebrates 28 years

ST. CHARLES—A whimsical autumn tradition among Chicagoland’s Fox Valley residents and visitors alike, this year’s 28th annual Scarecrow Fest, presented for the second year running by AAA Insurance, will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11-13, in St. Charles.

Produced by the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau in conjunction with Ravenswood Event Services, this nationally-recognized festival celebrates and promotes the greater St. Charles area as a tourism destination. Famous for its unique, handcrafted scarecrows, this year’s festival will find the beloved displays located on the west side of the Fox River.

Five of the six scarecrow categories will be located in Lincoln Park, located just north of Main Street (Route 64), between Fourth and Fifth streets. A sixth category, featuring displays created to promote businesses from greater St. Charles, will be displayed at the city’s newest parking lot on the former site of the VFW, located just west of Third Street between Cedar and State streets.

For the first time in fest history, the scarecrows displayed in Lincoln Park will be illuminated by solar-powered path lights, providing attendees with a new vantage point for viewing the whimsical, traditional, children, family and mechanical entries.

Another first for the fest is that the Lincoln Park display will be laid out with the help of a professional set designer, provided by Ravenswood Event Company, chosen by the Greater St. Charles CVB to provide operational support for this year’s event.

Festival attendees will also be able to meet Ted Eynik, who will be on hand during the event to share stories of the 20 elaborate, moving displays he has created during the fest’s history.

“Due to circumstances beyond his control, Ted was not able to enter a Scarecrow in this year’s contest. But, he has become a tradition of our festival, and we know attendees who attended past fests specifically to see his creations will be eager to meet him and see examples of the techniques and elements he used to bring so much enjoyment to so many festival goers,” said Amy Egolf, executive director of the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While Lincoln Park will, once again, boast the main stage for free entertainment, three new entertainment areas—located on 1st Street between Main and Illinois; near the Municipal Center, located on Main and Riverside; and along the Riverwalk that borders the river’s east bank—will encourage foot traffic throughout the city-wide festival grounds.

Attendance at the fest has grown to as many as 150,000 in recent years. To alleviate heavy vehicular traffic congestion in the heart of downtown St. Charles and to provide ease of transportation into the fest grounds for festival goers, visitors are encouraged to use the two remote lots (Charlestowne Mall, Lot H, on the east side; and Illinois and Seventh streets on the west side) and free shuttles.

The festival’s most popular events are back this year, including Windy City Amusement Carnival, the Autumn on the Fox Arts and Crafts show in Pottawatomie Park, and Colonial Ice Cream Eating Contest.

Additionally, Make Your Own Scarecrow enables fest attendees to fashion their very own scarecrows to take home. Due to the popularity of the Make Your Own Scarecrow activity, attendees will be able to choose from two locations: one on First Street, the other in the Municipal Center parking lot—which will reduce the time participants need to stand in line.

This year, participants will not be asked for a donation, and they are encouraged to bring clothes from home if they’d like their scarecrows to have a familiar look. Clothes available at both activity areas have been provided by Savers St. Charles.

Festival food is always a highlight of outdoor events, and this year, Scarecrow Festival will host a variety of food vendors scattered throughout the festival grounds. In addition to traditional festival foods, attendees can also enjoy the many pubs and restaurants located throughout the downtown area.

Since its inaugural year in 1985, the Scarecrow Fest has proven to be a successful, award-winning event for St. Charles. In 2012, Scarecrow Fest was featured on NBC’s Today Show as one of the top fall events in the country.

Grant allows SGPD access to all KC Law Enforcement records

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Police Department will now have access to law enforcement records throughout all of Kane County.

The Village Board on Tuesday agreed to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the county to share the records.

The city of Elgin received a grant that would allow for the sharing of law enforcement records with other members of law enforcement. This grant covered the initial costs of the Kane County Law Enforcement Sharing interface that will benefit every agency that decides to enter into this agreement. However, there will be an annual fee totaling to $2,400 that will be split equally amongst the four agencies who participate in this agreement.

“I wasn’t surprised Elgin took the lead. They saw that a grant was available to open it up to other amenities,” Sugar Grove Police Chief Patrick Rollins said.

Tri-City Records will be the facilitator for the sharing and receiving for all agencies who participate in the agreement. The Village Board believes that the Police Department will benefit in a huge way with having access to the Kane County law enforcement records.

“It will be great for our officers. They’ll be able to look up any record they want in Kane County, including background checks. Hopefully it will be a great tool for them that will also keep them safe,” Village President Sean Michels said.

Bliss Road bridge deck repairs to begin next week

SUGAR GROVE—Kane County has informed the village of Sugar Grove that bridge deck repairs on Bliss Road over the I-88 bridge will begin Monday, Sept. 23. These repairs are anticipated to be complete by Friday, Sept. 27, weather permitting. This work will involve expansion joint replacement and concrete deck repairs, and will require Bliss Road to be reduced to one lane of traffic during construction utilizing temporary traffic signalization.

DeKalb Firefighters Local 1236 Wounded Warrior

DEKALB—In conjunction with the AFFI (Association of Firefighters of Illinois), the DeKalb Firefighters Local 1236 is currently selling Wounded Warrior shirts, with all proceeds going toward the purchase of a car for a local wounded vet. The new car will be awarded during the upcoming NIU football game vs. Ball State on Nov. 13.

The DeKalb Firefighters Union Local 1236 has come up with a custom T-shirt to show its support of local wounded veterans, with a goal of raising $30,000. T-shirts are $15 each, and can be ordered at IAFF1236.blogspot.com. Sizes are small, medium and large for kids, and small, medium, large, X-large and XX-large for adults. Make checks payable to DeKalb Firefighters Local 1236.

Ride-in Kane cost increase

KANE COUNTY—A rate increase is necessary in order to continue to deliver Ride-in Kane services, which have been provided to persons with disabilities and the elderly in Kane County since 2008. An increase of $1 for a total of $4 per ride will become effective on Jan. 1, 2014.

For more information, call (888) 480-8549.

Bat found in Batavia yard tests positive for rabies

BATAVIA—A bat recently found in a Batavia yard tested positive for rabies. There was no human exposure.

This is the first rabies-positive bat seen this year. One rabid bat was discovered last year, and one in 2011.

Bats are the most common carrier of rabies in Illinois. Rabies affects the brain and will cause unnatural behavior in mammals. Children especially should be reminded to avoid contact with wild animals that are acting unusual, such as a bat that is outside in the daytime or one that cannot fly. It is important to keep all pets—dogs, cats, ferrets, etc.—up to date with their rabies vaccinations. Not only does the vaccine protect the pet, it also serves as barrier of protection for people. Even indoor pets should be vaccinated, as illustrated by the fact that some of the bat cases are found indoors. The last human case of rabies in Illinois was reported in 1954

Information about exclusion—keeping bats from entering your home—can be found by logging on to the Illinois Department of Public Health website, www.idph.state.il.us/env health/pcbats.htm.

For information about a referral for capturing bats or for submitting specimens for testing, call Kane County Animal Control at (630) 232-3555.

Raging Waves provides hundreds of jobs in Kendall County during summer season

YORKVILLE—Raging Waves, Illinois’ largest waterpark, provided employment to approximately 525 people this summer, making the theme park one of the biggest employers in the Kendall County area.

The privately owned entertainment park in Yorkville opened for business in June 2008 with the intent to bring hundreds of new seasonal jobs to the area. Over the past six years, the 45-acre family-friendly park has given the local economy a boost by creating jobs that support over 300,000 visitors at the regional entertainment attraction each summer.

“As one of the largest employers in the area, we’re proud to play a significant role for economic development in Kendall County,” said Daniel Mulka, marketing manager at Raging Waves. “We’re also committed to making Raging Waves a great place to work.”

He said Raging Waves offers a fantastic employment opportunity for anyone who wants to work with the public in a fun, family-oriented environment. As an outdoor waterpark that’s only open during the summer, it’s the perfect place for students and teachers to work while school is out. It’s also the ideal first job for a young person getting their feet wet in the workforce.

Raging Waves averages about 190 employees on duty per day during the summer season and has expanded its employment numbers each year. For more information, visit the Raging Waves website at www.ragingwaves.com or call (630) 882-6575.

1.Tyler Strom & Jacalyn Tarr from Strom Family Farm

Elburn couple enjoy fruits (and vegetables) of labor

ELBURN—Carol Clulow has a spot she aims to frequent once a week to get fresh produce to take home.
Clulow, an Elburn resident, goes to the Strom Family Farm veggie stand in Elburn.

“It’s organic, for one,” Clulow said of the veggie stand. “And it’s local. I am interested in supporting local farmers.”

Tyler Strom, principal owner and manager of the stand, and his girlfriend, Jacalyn Tarr, manager of marketing and communications, are partners and co-owners of Strom Family Farm in Elgin, Ill.

The Elburn couple are also farmers and tend to about an acre and a half of land. They bring their picked produce, which is pesticide-free, to Elburn to sell.

Strom, 27, is a fourth-generation farmer while Tarr, 29, has roots that are more of the suburban variety. Although they both have full-time jobs, farming is their part-time work. Yet, they both discovered that farming has full-time hours.

“Work still needs to be done,” Tarr said. “Even if you’re tired and don’t want to do it, it doesn’t mean the plants stop growing.”

Every Saturday and Sunday, Tarr and Strom set up shop on the front lawn of Elburn and Countryside Community Center on 525 N. Main St. They’ll be there until mid-October.

Last Saturday, the couple stood side by side, wearing baseball caps under a blue tent with lots of shiny produce on display. Plenty of tomatoes were there, as well as some cantaloupes. Mostly, the produce is veggies, including garden salsa peppers, bell peppers, zucchini, onions, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and huge blue containers filled with green husks covering sweet corn.

Christina and Mike Basich of South Elgin, Ill., rolled up on the side of the road on a motorcycle. This was their first time visiting this veggie stand.

“We come to get the meat for the grill for the barbecue,” Christina said. “And then we saw this place and I said, ‘Let’s stop.’ Just on a whim.”

So what did they purchase? Christina selected some cantaloupe, cucumbers, garlic and tomatoes.

“Well, I like organic fruits and vegetables,” Christina said. “So, for me, that’s kind of why I wanted to stop. And because I like to support the local—”

“Farmer,” Mike said.

Jenni Petty, St. Charles resident, also came to town to get some meat from the local market.

“I was coming through to go back home and I saw this,” she said. “And I wanted fresh corn. And I thought, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah. I’m stopping for fresh corn.’”

Petty thought aloud that Strom picked the sweet corn that same Saturday morning.
“That’s right,” Strom laughed. “We did.”

Petty said she knows what makes sweet corn so good.

“It’s always good when it’s picked right that day,” she said, “because it doesn’t sit and it doesn’t have to get ripe.”

Petty calls that fresh sweet corn taste “heaven.”

Another happy customer was Sugar Grove resident Denise VanVliet. She checked out the spaghetti squash selection because she can’t eat gluten in noodles. And she knows what makes those sweet and super juicy cherry tomatoes in the green containers so tasty.

“The explosion of flavor,” VanVliet said. “It’s delightful.”

Meanwhile, St. Charles resident John Matthews, found a two-pound Heirloom Brandywine tomato cluster that had three of the tomatoes connected in the shape of a heart.

“Bigger is better,” Matthews said.

Perhaps. And Strom’s veggie stand is successful because fresh is best.

Photo: Tyler Strom and Jacalyn Tarr. Photo by Lynn Logan

Mosquitoes found in Elgin trap test positive for WNV

KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department recently reported that a batch of mosquitoes collected in a trap in Elgin, Ill., tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the second time this summer a trap in northern Kane County yielded evidence of the disease. The first, a trap set in July near Algonquin, Ill., administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health, was found to contain mosquitoes that tested positive for the disease.

The Health Department monitors for WNV activity in the area. Also, as part of its West Nile program, the Health Department is collecting dead birds to be sent to the state lab for testing. Call (630) 444-3040 to report the presence of freshly-dead birds (such as crows or blue jays) to determine if WNV testing is recommended. The birds must not show any signs of decay or trauma.

You can view more detailed monitoring results from this and previous years by visiting http://kanehealth.com/west_nile.htm.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three-to-14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
• Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish. Cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Kane County Health Department’s website, www.kanehealth.com/west_nile.htm, and the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website, www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm. Also available is the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cory_Lipsett_Courtesy

Courage abroad

NIU student visits Tanzania, rides Elburn Days Parade float
ELBURN—Cory Lipsett’s first trip abroad was startling in two ways: he went to Tanzania, one of the world’s poorest countries, and he went without Ragin, the guide dog he’s taken everywhere since the Elburn Lions’ Leo Club donated the dog to him three years ago.

Lipsett, a senior at Northern Illinois University and a Batavia resident, is legally blind. That didn’t stop him from spending a month in Tanzania taking a study abroad class, Experiential Learning with NGOs in Tanzania, taught by NIU professor Kurt Thurmaier.

Though the university offers study abroad experiences to many European countries, Lipsett picked Tanzania because it was a challenging destination for him to reach.

“I thought about some of the more obvious places—France, England—and then I decided, these are places I could go on my own,” Lipsett said. “I wanted to go somewhere I could possibly never go on my own. So the professor who was running the trip spoke to me, and at the time, I didn’t know where Tanzania was on a map, and that certainly fit my criteria of somewhere I had never been before.”

The country, which is located on the east coast of Africa, is perhaps best known as a destination for climbers seeking to scale Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as vacationers on safari. But it’s also a place where a third of the population lives on less than $1 a day, few roads are paved, and millions live without running water or electricity.

Thurmaier has been taking students to Tanzania for several years, but Lipsett was the first visually impaired student who had gone.

“I found it very courageous that this guy, who’d never been out of the United States before and anticipated there would be significant challenges in a country like this, that he would go,” Thurmaier said. “He’s so courageous to just get on a plane and go.”

Lipsett originally planned to have Ragin, a German Shepherd trained by Leader Dogs for the Blind, accompany him, but quarantine regulations made bringing the dog difficult.

“He was without his dog for the first time in years,” said Bill Smar, publicity chairperson for the Elburn Lions. “He was there for 30 days, and the dog had to be quarantined for 30 days going there and then 30 days coming back, so he didn’t take it.”

So Lipsett decided to leave Ragin at home and navigate Tanzania on his own.

“I did not want to worry about quarantine procedures or having to get him food, and also, I talked to a visually impaired lawyer (in Tanzania), and guide dogs are not protected there. Here, the dog has rights and is permitted everywhere, but there, it’s not the same,” Lipsett said. “It was weird. Leaving the dog at my house was certainly the weirdest part, because he comes with me everywhere. I’m certainly used to having him and used to having him help me avoid, say, 3-foot-wide drainage ditches.”

Those drainage ditches proved to be one of the major obstacles that tripped Lipsett up during the trip. The day after he arrived, Lipsett fell into a drainage ditch—one of the many that line the roads to help manage flooding in a country that has a rainy season but no sewer system—and broke one of the four white canes he’d brought to help him locate potential obstacles.

“There’s 3-to-5 foot ditches along the side of every road, and there are no markings, so I fell into one. Somebody said, ‘There’s a hole coming up,’ and I didn’t understand it was a giant drainage ditch,” Lipsett said. “It’s the dry season now, so there wasn’t anything in it, but from that point on I had to be extremely careful even when walking on the sidewalk, because these huge ditches are there, and there’s no standard distance from the road, no standard depth.”

Crossing the street in a country with few crosswalks and no traffic lights was also a challenge, Lipsett said.

“You’re always on your toes when you’re walking around. There is no leisurely stroll. You just have to wait until there are less cars. There’s never no cars, just less. It was a hazard constantly,” he said. “It was stressful.”

Yet despite the challenges, Lipsett said the trip was worth it because it gave him a profound appreciation for the advantages he has received in the United States.

Cultivating that understanding in students was one of the goals of the trip, Thurmaier said.

“The main purpose for me of students going on this study abroad was to give them an opportunity to see how the bottom billion poorest people in the world live, because Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and we work in one of the poorest districts,” Thurmaier said.

Though Thurmaier took the 10 students to see some of the major tourist attractions in the country—Dar es Salaam, the capital city; Zanzibar, an island in the Indian Ocean; and the Serengeti, the famed safari destination—the majority of the trip was spent in far humbler places.

The group spent three weeks in and around Musoma, a city of about 100,000 people on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, near the border with Kenya. There, students took Kiswahili classes; volunteered to help build a library; attended seminars on the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in development; interviewed local officials; and visited a Catholic mission, some local schools and several NGOs working in the area, including microfinance groups, advocates for AIDS patients, a group providing drinking water, and a school that taught orphaned girls trade skills like sewing.

“It’s a huge challenge to the students,” Thurmaier said. “Students come away from (the islands near Lake Victoria) having really, for the first time, having seen abject poverty. People can go to the south side of Chicago and see poverty, but they haven’t seen this level of poverty. It’s a real sobering experience, and they have a hard time working out how they can live such comfortable lives. It changes their worldview.”

Studying the resources available to visually impaired people in Tanzania was the focus of Lipsett’s research project, so he visited Musoma Primary School, where one teacher and one assistant teach 70 students, 28 of whom are completely blind.

“It’s the only school in the entire region for the visually impaired, so obviously, there are people throughout the region who are not getting any help whatsoever,” Lipsett said. “A big problem is lack of materials, a lack of white canes and braille paper, and unfortunately it gets worse, because there are no secondary programs for the visually impaired in the entire country. It just isn’t there. And that of course is a big issue, because if a student can’t get accommodations, there’s no way they even have a chance of succeeding.”

He also visited the Lake Victoria Disability Centre, a charity that teaches vocational skills such as woodwork, metalwork and dressmaking to Tanzanians with a wide range of disabilities, as well as life skills like sign language.

“The purpose is so that students who finish primary school and can’t go to secondary school due to a lack of accommodations can learn some skills and get a job,” Lipsett said. “If they can’t get an education, they can’t get a job, and they can’t be independent if they can’t work. They have to try something.”

Witnessing the lack of opportunity in Tanzania gave Lipsett a profound appreciation for the opportunities he has had.

“The biggest thing I took away from it is that we live good lives here in the United States,” he said. “We can drink water from the tap without a second thought; we have a light in every room. I’ve realized how valuable my education as I’ve been growing up is. That is something I certainly will not take for granted, my education, coming from an American high school and an American university. Also, just our government—we have a government we can rely on. When there’s a problem with water, electricity, a bad road, you can usually count on it being fixed. That’s not the case over there. You can read about a place, but until you’re really there, you don’t know what it’s like.”

Thurmaier said that it was also valuable for the Tanzanians they met in Musoma to meet Lipsett and see his capabilities.

The group volunteered to help an NGO construct a library in Nyegina, a village near Lake Victoria, which will eventually serve the elementary and secondary students there. Construction equipment is scarce—there are no bulldozers or cement trucks in Nyegina—so students worked to help lay part of the library’s foundation, transporting the building materials by hand. Lipsett spent his volunteer workdays shoveling wet concrete into buckets so that the mafundi, skilled Tanzanian workers who mix cement and lay bricks, could pour it into the library’s foundation.

“(Cory) really redefined for the people working with him what someone who was visually impaired could do,” Thurmaier said. “The fact that he could participate, doing a needed task as part of a team—these guys, I think they were generally awed. They were struck by his capacity, and I think hopefully they will think again when they have a fellow Tanzanian who’s impaired, ‘Maybe they can contribute.’”

Lipsett broke two of his white canes on the trip, but he gave away the other two when he saw the need. One he gave to the teacher’s assistant at the school for the blind, who was also visually impaired and needed one. The other went to a nun he met who was working with students with disabilities.

“She just said, ‘There are a couple of people who could use one,’ and I said, ‘Take this one and put it in somebody’s hands,” Lipsett said.

Though it was his last one, Lipsett said there was only a week left in the trip. He “just buddied up with the other students” and relied on them to help guide him, he said.

He’s been back in the United States for almost three weeks and said his reunion with Ragin was exciting for both of them.

“It feels really good to see him again,” Lipsett said. “One of my instructors (for using a guide dog) said, ‘A cane is an object finder, and a dog is an object avoider.’ It didn’t really occur to me what she meant until I got a dog and was away from him for a month. It wasn’t until I left him for a whole month that I realized how much he does for me. I don’t even notice what he’s avoiding because he’s doing his job.”

The trip has made Lipsett more grateful than ever for Elburn’s Leo Club, a branch of the Lions Club for children aged 12 to 18 that raised the $36,000 to purchase Ragin three years ago. Guide dogs are expensive because of the extended training they undergo, but the Leo Club has helped purchase dogs for three area residents as part of the Lions Club’s mission to assist the blind and visually impaired.

That’s why Lipsett and Ragin rode out on the Elburn Lions Club float during Friday’s Elburn Days parade, as well as volunteered to sell raffle tickets during the festival. It was his way of getting the word out about the good the Lions Club does for the visually impaired in the community, Lipsett said.

He said he encouraged people to come up to him and ask questions about the Lions Club’s charity work and about his dog during Elburn Days because it was the best way to get the message out.

“It’s better advertising if they can see the dog and talk to me,” he said. “You have these conversations: ‘Would you like to buy a raffle ticket?’ And someone asks, ‘What does it benefit?’ Well, it’s this dog right here. The biggest thing that the Lions Club provides is funding to (Leader Dogs for the Blind) who provide, not even a tool, but an assistant to the blind and visually impaired that makes it significantly easier for them to live independently.”

For more information on Tanzania Development Support and the study abroad program, including information on how to contribute to the Nyegina Library Build, visit tdsnfp.org. For information on how to contribute to the Elburn Lions Club, call (630) 365-6315.

Car raffle to support Feed My Starving Children and local organizations

SYCAMORE—With over 6,200 children under the age of 5 dying every day due to starvation, it’s time to take action. Over the last four years, the Sycamore community has come to the aid of starving children through supporting a local mobile pack event in Sycamore named “Make A Difference DKC.” Feed My Starving Children is a not-for-profit organization that distributes meals to starving children in 70 countries across the world.

The meals were developed by scientists, specially formulated to reverse and prevent malnutrition. The meals are sent to selected missions and humanitarian agencies worldwide who use them to supply orphanages, schools, health care facilities, community feeding programs and other institutions intervening in severe poverty.

This year’s goal is to raise $165,000 to purchase the food to pack 750,000 meals with the help of 4,000 local volunteers on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov 14-17. Each meal costs just $.22.

In order to raise funds, Make A Difference DKC will host a Car Raffle sponsored by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC, who donated a vehicle for the event.

The raffle will not only address starvation prevention, but it provides a means for local organizations to raise funds for their own needs. Not-for-profit organizations, clubs and groups are welcome to participate in the Make A Difference DKC Car Raffle by selling tickets. For each ticket sold, $12 will go towards food for the Make A Difference DKC Mobile Pack event, and $8 will go back to the local organization/club. Local organizations and/or clubs are encouraged to participate in this car raffle to generate funds for their own group, and save children’s lives at the same time.

For more information, contact Heidi Wright at The Suter Company, (815) 895-9186 or email hwright@suterco.com. Tickets for the Make A Difference DKC Car Raffle are just $20, which is enough to feed 90 children. The winner will get their choice of one of three brand new vehicles donated by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC: a Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Volt or Chevrolet Equinox. Illinois sales tax, title and license fees will be paid for the winner, too.

Those interested in purchasing a ticket can stop by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC located on Mercantile Drive, next to Menards, in Sycamore.

The winning ticket will be drawn on Nov. 17. The winner need not be present to win. Individuals must be 18 years old to buy, sell or own a ticket. For complete official rules, visit www.makeadifferencedkc.com/rules.

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KC opens new campground in Big Rock

Photo: The Kane County Forest Preserve District recently opened the Big Rock Campground on Granart Road in Big Rock. A ribbon cutting will take place Saturday, Aug. 17, with free hot dogs and other food, giveaways and guided nature hikes. Photo by Susan O’Neill

BIG ROCK—The Kane County Forest Preserve District opened a new campground last weekend in Big Rock, within the Big Rock Forest Preserve.

The campground contains 105 camp sites including 96 improved slots, vehicle campsites with 50-amp electrical service, water access, parking pads and fire rings, and nine primitive, tent-only sites without electric access.

Four equestrian camp sites will be open in the spring of 2014. Among the sites are eight ADA-accessible slots.

Other campground amenities include a picnic shelter, restrooms, and miles of trails in the surrounding forest preserve.

The facility opened for camping on Friday, Aug. 2, and the Forest Preserve District will hold a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, to celebrate its opening. The public is invited to participate in the festivities, and will be treated to free hot dogs and other picnic fare, giveaways and guided nature hikes.

Camping will also be free for that night, as sites are available. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and vouchers will be given out for a future date, if all the sites are taken.

“Our hope is to fill the campground,” said Laurie Metanchuk, Community Affairs director for the Forest Preserve District.

Daily fees for the improved sites are $15 for Kane County residents and $25 for non-residents. Primitive/non-electric camp sites are $10 per day for residents, $15 for non-residents.

According to the Forest Preserve District website, the Big Rock Forest Preserve is an 842-acre preserve, with mature woodlands, high quality marshes, tallgrass prairie, clear-running creeks and 65-foot-deep Siegler Lake.

Formerly a limestone quarry, Siegler Lake was formed when floodwaters breached the banks of Big Rock and Welch Creeks in 1996, flooding the quarry. The result was a 32-acre lake, which currently supports a diversity of fish and aquatic wildlife. The lake is also stocked, and fishing is allowed on a catch and release basis. Swimming is not allowed.

Kane County residents have long asked for another campground, especially since the Bliss Woods Forest Preserve in Sugar Grove no longer allows camping.

The Big Rock campground was paid for with funds provided through the district’s most recent referendum in 2011, as well as $600,000 in federal and state funding administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Metanchuk said.

Big Rock Campground is located at 46W499 Granart Road, Big Rock. The district’s other campsite is the Paul Wolff Campground, located within the Burnidge Forest Preserve in Elgin, Ill.

For more information about camp site availability and conditions, call the Forest Preserve District’s camping hotline at (630) 444-1200.

Scammers try to make Obamacare confusion an opportunity for identity theft

CHICAGO—With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly labeled “Obamacare,” on the horizon, scammers are finding it to be the latest opportunity to steal people’s identities.

“Scammers are calling consumers claiming they are eligible for health insurance cards in exchange for personal information,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Consumers should ignore these calls because providing information puts you at risk for identity theft.”

Bernas explained the scams work like this: You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the federal government. The scammer says that you have been selected to be part of a group of Americans to receive insurance cards. But before the card can be mailed, your bank account and social security numbers are required. Once they get this information, they can sell it or use it to access your accounts.

“Affordable Care Act scammers are able to easily make consumers think that their calls are legit, especially with such a hot topic like Obamacare,” Bernas said. “Consumers need to realize that the government rarely calls individuals. If you receive this type of call, hang up.”

The BBB offers the following tips to people who experience the affordable healthcare scams:
• Hang up the phone. If you get one of these calls, just hang up. You may be tempted to call back, but this will only give the scammer another opportunity to steal your information. Also, be sure not to press any buttons that the scammer instructs.
• Never give out personal information. Never give out your bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card number or social security number.
• Don’t rely on caller ID. Some scammers are able to display a company’s name or phone number on the caller ID screen. Don’t trust that the information you see is true.
• The government rarely communicates via phone calls. Most of the time, the government uses traditional snail mail to communicate to consumers. The government rarely calls, emails or texts, so don’t give your information to these types of government messages.

For more tips and information about affordable healthcare scams, visit www.BBBit.org.

Car raffle to support Feed My Starving Children and local organizations

SYCAMORE, ILL.—With over 6,200 children under the age of 5 dying every day due to starvation, it’s time to take action. Over the last four years, the Sycamore community has come to the aid of starving children through supporting a local mobile pack event in Sycamore named “Make A Difference DKC.” Feed My Starving Children is a not-for-profit organization that distributes meals to starving children in 70 countries across the world.

The meals were developed by scientists, specially formulated to reverse and prevent malnutrition. The meals are sent to selected missions and humanitarian agencies worldwide who use them to supply orphanages, schools, health care facilities, community feeding programs and other institutions intervening in severe poverty.

This year’s goal is to raise $165,000 to purchase the food to pack 750,000 meals with the help of 4,000 local volunteers on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov 14-17. Each meal costs just $.22.

In order to raise funds, Make A Difference DKC will host a Car Raffle sponsored by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC, who donated a vehicle for the event.

The raffle will not only address starvation prevention, but it provides a means for local organizations to raise funds for their own needs. Not-for-profit organizations, clubs and groups are welcome to participate in the Make A Difference DKC Car Raffle by selling tickets. For each ticket sold, $12 will go towards food for the Make A Difference DKC Mobile Pack event, and $8 will go back to the local organization/club. Local organizations and/or clubs are encouraged to participate in this car raffle to generate funds for their own group, and save children’s lives at the same time.

For more information, contact Heidi Wright at The Suter Company, (815) 895-9186 or email hwright@suterco.com. Tickets for the Make A Difference DKC Car Raffle are just $20, which is enough to feed 90 children. The winner will get their choice of one of three brand new vehicles donated by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC: a Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Volt or Chevrolet Equinox. Illinois sales tax, title and license fees will be paid for the winner, too.

Those interested in purchasing a ticket can stop by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC located on Mercantile Drive, next to Menards, in Sycamore.

The winning ticket will be drawn on Nov. 17. The winner need not be present to win. Individuals must be 18 years old to buy, sell or own a ticket. For complete official rules, visit www.makeadifferencedkc.com/rules.

KC Health Department celebrates National Immunization Awareness Month

KANE COUNTY—To celebrate the importance of immunizations throughout life—and to help remind young adults that they need vaccines, too—the Kane County Health Department will participate in National Immunization Awareness Month. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure young adults are protected against diseases like flu, whooping cough, tetanus and HPV.

The month-long promotion is structured to highlight the importance of immunizations for a different population each week of the month:
• Week one: “Off to College” (young adults age 19-26)
• Week two: “Back to School” (children, pre-teens and teens to age18)
• Week three: “Not Just for Kids” (adults age 26+)
• Week four: A Healthy Start (babies from birth to age 2 and pregnant women)
The specific vaccines adults need are determined by factors such as age, lifestyle, risk conditions, locations of travel, and previous vaccines. All adults should talk to their health care providers about what vaccines are right for them.

Immunizations are not just for children. Even healthy young adults need protection against vaccine-preventable diseases. Throughout the month of August, the Health Department will highlight the importance of immunizations for children, students and adults. Follow the Health Department on Twitter (@KaneCoHealth) and Facebook for all the latest information.

To find out which vaccines might be right for you and where you can get vaccinated, call (866) 233-9493 or visit www.kanehealth.com/immunizations.htm.

July in Illinois: cool, dry

CHAMPAIGN, ILL.—The statewide average temperature for July in Illinois was 73.3 degrees, 2 degrees below the 1981-2010 average. It currently ranks as the 19th coolest July on record, dating back to 1895, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, at the Illinois State Water Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.

In comparison, last year’s average temperature in July was 81.8 degrees. Illinois was experiencing a heat wave and drought at that time.

The statewide average precipitation for this July was 2.74 inches, 1.31 inches below the 1981-2010 average. It currently ranks as the 29th driest July on record.

Despite the dry July, the statewide total precipitation for 2013 stands at 31.4 inches at the end of July and 7.61 inches above the 1981-2010 average. It is the second wettest January-July. The wettest January-July was set just a few years ago: 2008, with 32.52 inches.

The rainfall in July was unevenly distributed across the state. Much of central and northern Illinois were 1 to 3 inches below average, while southern Illinois was several inches above average.

Mt. Vernon reported the highest monthly total precipitation in the state with 9.42 inches, followed closely by Olney with 9.15 inches. On the dry side, Joliet, Ill., reported one of the lowest monthly totals with .63 inches along with .72 inches in Pontiac, Ill., and .77 inches in Kankakee, Ill.

The wet spring and cool July have both helped to reduce the impacts of the dry weather so far in July but conditions will be watched closely in August.

West Nile virus activity reported in KC

KANE COUNTY—The first evidence of West Nile virus activity in Kane County has been found.

A batch of mosquitoes collected in a trap administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health near Algonquin, Ill., has tested positive for the disease.

First evidence of West Nile typically occurs in July or August. Although this is the first evidence in Kane County, 17 Illinois counties have seen either birds and/or mosquitoes test positive so far this year.

The Health Department monitors for WNV activity in your area. Anyone can visit www.kanehealth.com/wnv_surveillance.htm to view a map of the Health Department’s trap locations throughout the county.

Also as part of its West Nile program, the Health Department is collecting dead birds to be sent to the state lab for testing. Call (630) 444-3040 to report the presence of freshly-dead birds (such as crows or blue jays) to determine if West Nile Virus testing is recommended. The birds must not show any signs of decay or trauma.

Last year, an especially hot and dry summer, Kane County had 13 human cases of the illness. View more detailed monitoring results from previous years by visiting www.kanehealth.com/west_nile.htm.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three-to-14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis, meningitis and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
• Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish. Cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.