by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove village officials recently took time to reflect on the year that was 2012.
Most trustee members voiced satisfaction with 2012. Village President Sean Michels and trustee David Paluch agreed that Sugar Grove’s greatest achievements this year included getting the Mallard Point/Rolling Oaks flooding issue resolved.
“This was a long process, and it’s a relief to have it finalized and to help all of those affected,” Paluch said.
The two also embraced the construction of a number of commercial buildings in the area. Michels said that the sales tax from those businesses helped produce a $200,000 surplus.
“We were able to put a lot of that money in the local roads and for other improvements,” he said.
Michels and Paluch commended the work of village departments and noted their own effort to keep the community financially sound and stable.
“Our bond rating from Standard & Poor was an A+, and our management style has been very good,” Michels said.
Paluch said it’s very important to keep the village’s economy in good shape.
“Our revenues for road repairs partially come from fuel taxes, so I would encourage people to buy gas in Sugar Grove, shop in Sugar Grove when possible—from our retailers to our restaurants,” he said. “And to our small business owners, please support our neighbors and local businesses whenever possible.”
Paluch added that a new restaurant will soon open on Route 30, and the village is looking at a few other developments.
In terms of Sugar Grove attracting new business, Jimmy John’s, American Heartland Bank and Walgreen’s were among the big-name businesses that set up shop in the village this year.
“These businesses pay their tax bill to the schools and the area, but they don’t send any children, so I think the schools appreciate that,” trustee Kevin Geary said.
Michels said he was particularly excited about the grand opening of the Saint Katharine Drexel Catholic Church.
“That was something that I’ve worked on with the Rockford Diocese for a number of years. It took them about four years to build the church,” he said.
Of course, not all of the village’s expectations for 2012 were met. Their was dissatisfaction with the fact that the state still has yet to approve a grant to help fund the Route 47/I-88 interchange. Geary said he would have liked to see more construction in commercial real estate, and hoped to utilize the newly constructed “L” roadway on Route 47 to bring in more commercial buildings.
“We also lost a great public servant, Police Chief Brad Sauer, to retirement,” Paluch said.
SUGAR GROVE—Two Waubonsee Community College students recently earned awards at the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Writers Festival.
Nathan Krauz of Montgomery took third place in the drama/screenplay category for his work, “The Sinking of the Finer Diner,” while his “How Twilight is Ruining the World” earned an honorable mention in the Creative Nonfiction category.
David Hittle of Yorkville received a third place award for his short fiction work, “An Ice Cube’s Fate.”
Sugar Grove Village Trustee Kevin Geary speaks to the audience during his campaign kickoff fundraiser on Dec. 13 at Bliss Creek Golf Club in Sugar Grove. Geary will run for Village President against incumbent Sean Michels in the election on Tuesday, April 9. Courtesy Photo
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove village trustee Kevin Geary on Dec. 13 kicked off his bid for village president with a fundraiser held in the Pine Room at Bliss Creek Golf Club in Sugar Grove.
The fundraiser drew in 40 people, including Kane County Auditor Terry Hunt, Sugar Grove Village Board trustee David Paluch and Kane County Board member Melisa Taylor. Retired Kane County auditor William Keck emceed the event and also introduced Geary to the public in attendance.
“I was very happy with the turnout. You always want a couple more people to show up, but I was pleased overall,” Geary said. “Some people stopped in, chatted and then moved on to other parties.”
Kane County Board Chair Chris Lauzen was slated to attend the event, but had a scheduling conflict.
Geary, a 14-year presence on the Sugar Grove Village Board, will oppose incumbent Village President Sean Michels in the election on Tuesday, April 9, with early voting to begin in mid-March.
Geary’s campaign on Monday filed for the election, and now await the drawing to determine the order of candidate placement on the ballot, which will take place Friday, Jan. 4.
There will also be a town hall meeting to give candidates what Geary referred to as a “true temperature of what residents want their village to be.” The event will include an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and share their ideas.
“We’re shooting for a date near the middle or end of January,” Geary said.
Geary last week said that his campaign will run on the platform of offering “open and honest government in order to be accountable to the people served by that body,” and creating a business-friendly climate within the village.
“I believe the village has been onerous in some of its requirements toward local busnesses and new business,” he said. “Let’s say a business needs a variance or two. Older buildings can apply for a variance that takes the business from non-compliant to compliant, but Sugar Grove isn’t very liberal with variances. They aren’t given out often enough.”
Geary is also campaigning for government that he believes is more effective and efficient. He proposed the idea of looking at the village roster and finding opportunities to trim the budget. An example of this would be the decision to not backfill positions vacated because of reasons tied to retirement or other employment opportunities.
“That’s a decision that would need to be discussed by the village president and the board,” Geary said.
Geary believes the election race will affect his relationship with Michels on the Village Board.
“We have a difference of opinions, and I am vocal about my opinions when the board is in session,” he said.
According to Geary, one of the differences in opinion concerns the fate of money in the Prairie Parkway fund. He said discussions have suggested that the money should go toward the Route 47/I-88 interchange project. Geary would like to see the money instead go toward the improvement of the cloverleaf at the intersection of Routes 47 and 56. That improvement would include installation of a slip ramp near the cloverleaf, as well as widening the stretch of Route 47 between the cloverleaf and Kendall County to two lanes each way.
“I feel this is a better project because it’s a Route 30 project, and the funds were earmarked for a federal highway, which was supposed to be Prairie Parkway,” Geary said. “This way, it’s federal funds for federal roads, and we benefit from its widening. It could open up development for us, as well.”
The road toward realizing that vision kicked off last week with a campaign fundraiser that Jon Zahm, Geary’s campaign manager, deemed successful.
“The fundraiser, for me, fortified and strengthened the conviction that Sugar Grove wants to move in a different direction,” Geary said.
by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Aurora Christian football coach Don Beebe has made a career and life out of transitions.
A 1983 graduate of Kaneland High School, he suited up for the Knights and went to school at Western Illinois and Chadron State College in Nebraska.
After working construction and putting up aluminum siding in nearby towns like Montgomery, he moved on for a shot at the NFL Combine and was subsequently drafted by the Buffalo Bills.
After several years and an infamous Super Bowl swat later, Beebe went to the Green Bay Packers, where he earned a championship ring in 1997.
Beebe then moved on to the next phase of his life, operating Don Beebe’s House of Speed, and most recently, head coach of the two-time Class 3A football champion Aurora Christian Eagles.
That’s where Jim Gibson comes in.
Gibson, owner and operator of Big Talk Publishing in Aurora, met with Beebe to put a book together. The result, “Six Rings from Nowhere,” was released at Aurora Christian High School last week.
It wasn’t hard for Gibson, a veteran of the television and movie industry, to get involved and tout the story.
“What’s great is that Don isn’t a blue-chipper, he’s blue collar,” Gibson said. “He’s the guy reading that book.”
Hoopla surrounding the book should continue with the NFL playoffs on the horizon. This season marks the 20th anniversary of the Bills’ historic Wild Card round comeback against the Houston Oilers, as well as the Super Bowl swat to rob Leon Lett of a defensive touchdown.
Gibson said CBS Sports is set to be in the area to interview Beebe and Lett about the play.
“(Beebe’s) so humble about all this. He’s a guy that showed up at the same combine with a pair of old tennis shoes and a duffle bag sharing space with Deion Sanders, Troy Aikman and Barry Sanders,” Gibson said.
The book is available for purchase at houseofspeed.com, sixringsfromnowhere .com, donbeebe.com, or at Aurora Christian High School.
“This book was a no-brainer, and comes after a long process,” Gibson said. “I knew of Don before this, and as I got to know him on a much deeper level, I felt he really needed to explain his story.”
“Six Rings from Nowhere,” co-written with writer Denise Crosby, has an introduction by Beebe’s Bills teammate Jim Kelly, and a forward by his Packers teammate Brett Favre.
Included in the book are tales of Favre giving a game ball to Beebe after their Super Bowl XXXI win over the New England Patriots, and his first catch in the NFL, a touchdown pass against Houston cornerback Cris Dishman.
“(Beebe’s) a guy that was out of college football for three-and-a-half years, and decided ‘I have to get back to football,’ and that’s the beginning,” Gibson said.
Big Talk Publishing’s effort is a story of faith, hope and triumph, plus plenty of anecdotes for the most ardent football fan.
The story of the Kaneland Knight-turned construction worker-turned-wide reciever-turned-championship coach and father of four has something for everyone.
“Working with him and talking about how he got his first ring and the winner of ESPN’s first Play of the Year was great,” Gibson said. “But it’s about a guy who has the heart of a champion.”
Kaneland alum has daughter day before officially becoming WMU head coach
Kalamazoo, Mich.—Kaneland School District Hall of Fame member and Sugar Grove native P.J. Fleck had a whirlwind start to his week.
Preliminary, unconfirmed reporting from various sports media outlets began Monday, stating that Fleck would be officially named the head football coach at Western Michigan University (WMU).
The WMU Athletics Department confirmed the reports during the day Monday, stating that a press conference to officially name Fleck as their football program’s head coach had been set for Tuesday afternoon.
“When talking with people about Coach Fleck, the words used to describe his approach were ‘limitless energy,’ ‘limitless possibility,’ ‘limitless passion,’ ‘limitless enthusiasm,’ ‘limitless drive,’ ‘limitless achievement’ and ‘limitless opportunity,’” posted Mat Kanan, director of athletic media, when announcing the press conference online.
That press conference was put in jeopardy when Fleck’s wife, Tracie, went into labor Monday evening. The couple later welcomed their second child, Paisley, who will now look up to big brother, Carter Joseph (C.J.).
Fleck then made the trip to Kalamazoo, Mich., in time for the press conference.
“It’s great to be back in the MAC,” Fleck said as he reached the podium after being officially announced as the Broncos’ head coach. “I feel like I’ve come home.”
He presented the packed Varsity W Club Room in the Seeyle Center on the WMU campus with his plan as the university’s 15th head coach.
“We will do everything we can to bring success on the field and in the classroom,” he said.
Fleck described his approach to building a collegiate football program, as well as giving some insight into himself as a person.
“I’m an ordinary guy and I’ve surrounded myself with extraordinary people,” he said.
Fleck was a standout wide receiver on the back-to-back undefeated KHS state championship teams in 1998 and 1999. He set state records during his time as a Knight, with 95 catches for 1,548 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior season. In his KHS career, Fleck caught 199 passes for 3,121 yards and 34 touchdowns, including a string of 40 straight games in which he caught at least one pass.
He then went on to play wide receiver for Northern Illinois University, where he earned first-team All Mid-American Conference honors in 2003. As a senior, he led NIU with 77 catches for 1,028 yards and six touchdowns.
Fleck began his coaching career after two seasons as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. After signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 2004, he spent most of that season on the practice squad before making an appearance versus New England late in the year. He was placed on the injured reserve roster in 2005 before retiring from professional football in June 2006.
Fleck began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Ohio State University in 2006, working with the Buckeyes’ tight ends and assisting with the special teams units.
Northern Illinois University hired Fleck in 2007 as a wide receivers coach, and he also served as the team’s recruiting coordinator. He then took wide receivers coaching position for Rutgers University in 2010. In early 2012, Fleck was hired as NIU offensive coordinator, but resigned the following day, instead taking a wide receivers coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccanears in the National Football League.
Now, with his head coaching position at WMU, Fleck is the youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Fleck and his wife annually host the P.J. Fleck “Live Your Dream” Football Camp that benefits the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation (Friends of Carra), Alapecia Foundation (Locks of Love), Coach Kill’s Cancer Fund and the P.J. Fleck Scholarship Fund.
Photo: Runway to Galway, an Irish pub and eatery, will open in Sugar Grove in late December. The
property is owned by Stephane Corbiere, a native of France. Courtesy Photo
by Elizabeth Rago
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove residents can expect an Irish pub with an adjoining dining room sometime before the New Year.
Runway to Galway, owned by Stephane Corbiere, will open at 1942 Route 30, across from the Air Classics Historical Aviation Museum. From the front of the house, patrons will be able to casually sip their beer and enjoy classic Irish stew while taking in the view of the museum’s collection of aircraft and vehicles.
“I wasn’t originally looking for a startup company, but Steve Fulton (owner of the building) introduced me to the Sugar Grove property,” Stephane said. “The geographic location is perfect and the community is not only friendly, but family friendly.”
Stephane is originally from France, and his wife, Fiona, who hails from Galway, Ireland, found Sugar Grove to be not only the perfect place to start a business, but a wonderful area to relocate and raise their family of five.
The name of the pub features the region of Galway, which holds a lot of history for Stephane, as he met his wife and started their family among Galway’s festive culture and vibrant music scene. The Sugar Grove pub is meant to be a place where community members can congregate; not be served and rushed out the door, states Stephane.
The Corbiere’s vision for the pub is to be a place where friends and families gather. Combined with great food, drink and a comfortable layout, Runway to Galway is ideally positioned to offer a relaxed atmosphere, hearty food and spirited drink.
“There is plenty of room for business owners in this area, and I am fortunate to be one of the first serving the Sugar Grove community and employees from local businesses like Scot Industries and the Aurora Municipal Airport,” Stephane said.
The pub is still under construction as Stephane works with area contractor Cort Kormos of Vintage Development Ltd. in Elburn.
“This is a very local project where we are working with area plumbers, electricians and carpenters to build Runway to Galway,” Cort said. “As the owner of the property, Steve did not want to start from scratch. The building is 90 percent new except for the existing exterior structure.”
Cort added that Stephane and Runway to Galway are a really good addition to the community.
“Our target date to open is the third week of December,” Stephane said. “As long as the logistics are in order, we are excited to be welcoming patrons very soon.”
Sugar Grove resident James Lancaster is all about supporting local small business, and finds the idea of an Irish pub to be an excellent addition to Route 30.
“My family has always looked to support local establishments first, which boosts the economy. Plus, I enjoy seeing my friends and neighbors when we go out,” he said.
SUGAR GROVE—An accident in unincorported Sugar Grove township has resulted in the death of an Aurora man.
Dean Craig, 54, was walking east on Jericho Road at 7:40 p.m. on Monday when he was struck by an eastbound Toyota Tundra. The collision occured on the stretch of Jericho Road between Dugan and Ashe roads.
Craig was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the truck, Joseph Morgan, 25, of Plano, was uninjured.
According to a Kane County Sheriff’s Office press release, Craig was walking in the area after he was involved in an earlier traffic crash, which occurred at approximately 6 p.m. In that crash, Craig advised he was traveling north on Dugan Road and attempted to make a left turn into a driveway of a residence so he could turn around. Craig attempted to make the turn and proceeded to pull in front of a vehicle traveling south on Dugan Road. Both vehicles were towed due to damage sustained, but neither driver was injured.
Craig was offered a ride by the Sheriff’s Deputy who handled that crash, but refused, stating that he had called a friend who would pick him up.
No citations were issued as a result of the initial crash. The second crash occurred approximately a half hour after the investigation into the first crash was completed.
The press release states that the roadway where the fatal crash occurred is a country road with no lighting and a 55 mph speed limit.
The crash remains under investigation by members of the Sheriff’s Office and Kane County Accident Reconstruction Team. Further details of the crash were unavailable as of press time.
by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village Board trustees on Dec. 4 met with Susan Rowley of Encap Inc. to discuss procedure necessary to address wetland infestation by cattails, willows and common reds in the Mallard Point subdivision.
Rowley noted other problems, such as the absence of deep-rooted vegetation, which results in poorer water quality and lack of diversity that damages soil development and stabilization.
“We’d like to do a few controlled burns, use safe herbicides to remove infesting plants and remove woody species,” she said.
Rowley anticipates that the project will start in early 2013 and consist of “rigorous procedures” through the end of the year. She also advocated a couple of small tasks that would bleed into a second and third year of treatment.
“We hope to reduce Mallard Point down to 60 percent covered by cattails, instead of 100 percent,” Rowley said.
Photos: Thanks to Lil’s tireless efforts over the years, a garden was created at the Community Center this summer in honor of her recent retirement. It will forever be known as “Lil’s Garden” and adorned with a plaque. Courtesy Photo
by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—Lil Adams, a 45-year Sugar Grove resident and long-time board member, manager and caretaker of the Sugar Grove Community House, is retiring from those responsibilities after 35 years of dedication.
Adams joined the Sugar Grove Township Board of Directors for the Community House in 1977. Upon retiring from her career with AT&T in 1989, Adams took over custodial duties for the building. Since then, she has managed the maintenance of the building, as well as scheduling and managing all the activities and events.
“I was going to do it until they found someone else,” she said.
The Sugar Grove Community House, built in 1929 for community events and township resident use, has been host to the Scouts, 4-H clubs, homeowners association meetings, youth basketball, soccer and other youth groups, men’s indoor basketball league, Rocky’s DoJo kick-boxing matches, Sugar Grove Fire District pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners, as well as aerobics classes, wedding receptions, showers, anniversary and birthday parties over the years.
“You name it; we’ve had it,” Community House Board President Stan Schumacher said. “Without Lil’s assistance, there’s no way we could have functioned that well in that capacity. It wasn’t just a 9-5 job. Whenever she needed to be there, she was right there.”
Schumacher said that Adams was already on the board when he joined 26 years ago.
“I first met Lil and her husband Tom through the Sugar Grove Young Adults group,” he said. “You could tell her love for that building. She always kept it in tip-top clean shape. Her dedication was seven days a week. She was always right there to make sure people could get in and to lock up afterwards.”
Adams in 2011 was recognized by the village of Sugar Grove last year with the Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year Award. Adams received several nominations for Citizen of the Year from United Methodist Church, Sugar Grove Township, Conley Outreach and many of her close friends. The village also received numerous letters of support from local residents and businesses.
“I never dreamed they would do that (for) me. I had no idea I’d receive the award, even
though a lot of my friends were behind it all,” she said at the time. “It was a very well-kept secret.”
This spring, while Adams was on vacation, volunteers installed a water feature in front of the Community House in honor of her many years of service. During a dedication of the feature on Nov. 17, a plaque was also mounted on the front of the building so that future generations would know of Adams’ contributions. Native plantings complete the area now known as “Lil’s Garden.”
“That was so nice. It was such an honor,” Adams said. “People out here have been so good to me. I think I’ve been getting too much attention lately.”
Sugar Grove residents don’t see it that way.
“Lil’s a wonderful person, and she loves Sugar Grove,” Sugar Grove Chamber Executive Director Shari Baum said.
Baum said the business community and residents wanted to show how much they appreciate her dedication to the preservation of the building over the past 35 years.
In addition to the Community House, Adams’ community and volunteer work have included the school PTA, Sugar Grove Lions Club, Sugar Grove Election Board, Sugar Grove Corn Boil, as well as her roles with the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church. Adams has managed the church’s pie-baking efforts over the years for the annual Corn Boil, performed in the handbell choir, and served on various committees and boards.
Adams has been helping with the transition to the new custodians, and will serve on the board until next April. Then she said she is going to sit back and relax a bit more.
“It’s real soothing just to sit on the bench (outside the Community House) and listen to the water flow,” she said.
But Adams won’t sit still for too long. In addition to her church activities, she belongs to the Red Hat Ladies Club out of Oswego, goes to movies, and plays cards and dominos with her fellow club members.
“There are a lot of nice ladies in the group,” she said.
Of her years with the Community House, Adams said that it has been a great experience.
“I met a lot of nice people, had a lot of parties, big responsibilities and a “very, very nice board to work with,” she said.
When she joined the board, Dale Storck and Elaine Fox were trustees. Schumacher replaced Storck, and Jerry Murphy recently became a trustee.
“Our community owes a great deal of gratitude to Lil for everything she has done for them,” Schumacher said.
by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—The holidays can be difficult for those who have family members serving in the military, but there is a bit of relief in knowing that a group of Sugar Grove kids are sending cards to many troops serving in Afghanistan.
Sugar Grove Village Board trustee David Paluch has worked the past three years with John Shields Elementary School Principal Shelly Hueber to have kids, grades K-5, make handmade cards for the troops.
In addition, some of the cards from the older kids include magazine articles, crossword puzzles and word jumbles to help soldiers pass the time.
“It’s especially touching to read a card made by a 5-year-old thanking (the soldier) for protecting our country,” Paluch said. “It’s really heart-warming because the cards are so cute and creative.”
Paluch is also working with the Sugar Grove American Legion to send out the cards in care packages to military bases all over the world.
Paluch has already picked up about 75 cards, and plans to send some to his cousin. Another set will be sent to a Sugar Grove resident serving in Afghanistan. Some cards will be sent from the American Legion.
“I can’t imagine how hard it must be for them to be so far away from their family and friends at this time of year, so this is a way to help make their holidays a little better,” Paluch said. “My cousin Chris is serving right now, so this hits home for me.
John Shields Elementary students are also constructing walls made of paper bricks. Each brick contains individual messages and pictures unique to each student. One wall is already completed and covers a section of a hallway; another wall is currently under construction.
For residents interested in getting involved and helping out, Paluch said it couldn’t be easier to contribute.
“It is very easy to get involved, and there are a few things you can do. I encourage as many people as possible to get involved if they can,” he said.
Paluch suggested sending cards around at work or at school and bringing them to Sugar Grove Village Hall, 10 Municipal Drive in Sugar Grove. Cards sent by a family or by individuals can also be brought to the Village Hall.
People may also donate items for care packages and money to help with the cost of shipping. Donated items and funds should be dropped off at the Sugar Grove American Legion, 65 First St., Sugar Grove.
Saturday’s Holiday in the Grove event featured events all over the village of Sugar Grove, including a craft show and ornament making at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School. Helen Touchton of Sugar Grove helps her son, Alex, 3, with his ornament, as Kyra Warren, 3, of Sugar Grove, makes her own. Matt Seidel (below, right), 7, of Sugar Grove, shows his St. Bernard T-shirt to Ziggy Stardust from the Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club. The therapy dogs were at the library again this year as part of the village-wide Holiday in the Grove event. Visitors of the Sugar Grove Public Library (below, left) had a chance to read to the dogs of the Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club. The Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club is a volunteer organization providing a wide variety of canine-assisted therapy programs and services in the communities of Kendall, Kane and DuPage counties in Illinois since 2002.
SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College Associate Professor of Sociology Kathy Westman was recently appointed to the American Sociological Association (ASA) Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE). Her two-year term will begin in January 2013.
As the national organization for sociologists, ASA works to promote the discipline. COPE has responsibility for promoting ethical conduct by sociologists through development and sponsorship of educational activities for members and other sociologists, investigation of complaints concerning the ethical conduct of members, and imposition of sanctions when a violation of the ASA Code of Ethics has occurred.
CAMPTON HILLS—A two-car collision in Campton Hills has claimed the life of a Maple Park teen.
Zachary Bingham, 18, of the 49W800 block of Peterson Road in Maple Park, was traveling eastbound on Route 38 at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday when his 2002 Pontiac Grand Am was struck head-on by a westbound 2003 Nissan Altima traveling at a high rate of speed and passing numerous vehicles.
The driver of the Altima, Jennifer Liston, 30, of the 3100 block of Old Gate Road in Madison, Wisc., was pronounced dead at the scene by the Elburn and Countryside Fire Department. Bingham was transported to Delnor Hospital in Geneva and later Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., where he was pronounced dead.
The Altima driven by Liston was reported stolen out of Wheaton, Ill. Prior to the accident, Liston was involved in a minor hit-and-run incident in Geneva. Kane County Sheriff’s deputies spotted the Altima traveling westbound and attempted to perform a traffic stop, but Liston fled at a high rate of speed. Deputies then briefly gave pursuit before they were eluded.
According to a Campton Hills Police Department press release, numerous witnesses reported that the Altima driven by Liston was traveling recklessly, passing numerous vehicles on Route 38 at speeds reported over 100 mph.
Immediately following the collision, Liston’s
vehicle proceeded westbound on Route 38, rear-ending a vehicle driven by Kevin Kull of Sugar Grove. Kull’s vehicle was then pushed into the eastbound lane, where it was struck by an eastbound vehicle driven by Ryan Anderson of Sycamore.
The passenger in Bingham’s vehicle, Erin Pazin, 19, of Elburn, and the passenger in Kull’s vehicle, Nadia Kull, 48, of Sugar Grove, were both treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The accident is currently under investigation by the Kane County Accident Reconstruction Team.
Photo: Summer Bellessa (left) recently starred in the film “Amber Alert,” written and directed by her husband Kerry (right). Photo courtesy of Trever Hoehne
by Cheryl Borrowdale
SUGAR GROVE—When Sugar Grove native Summer Smith Bellessa and her husband, Kerry Bellessa, saw an AMBER Alert notice as they drove down an Arizona highway, they began debating what they would do if they actually saw the suspect’s car—would they follow it? Would that put the victim in more danger?
The couple never saw the car, but the idea for their first movie was born.
The thriller, “Amber Alert,” stars Summer, 32, as Samantha, a woman who spots a suspected child abductor (Jasen Wade) on the highway and begins chasing the vehicle with her best friend Nate (Chris Hill). It’s a defining moment for the characters, writer/director Kerry said.
“At the beginning of the film, we see them both. They’re having a good time together; they’re good friends and love life. Then things take a turn, and when they’re put in this situation, you see who they are,” he said. “I wanted to have two main characters with different opinions on what to do. Things kind of start going sour for them.”
As the frightened Nate urges caution, Samantha risks everything to save the abducted girl.
“Before she’s put in this situation, she’s the more responsible of the two,” Summer said. “But I think with women, if there is a child in the balance, we tend to become little mama bears and do things outside the realm of what we think we would do. She does anything in her power to help the child.”
The 80-minute film is rated R and had a limited release in 10 theaters on Nov. 2—none of them in Chicago—and is now available everywhere through Xfinity On Demand.
Critical response has been polarized, Kerry said.
“Either people really, really like it or they really, really hate it,” he said. “At the end of the day, I wanted the main question of the film to be ‘What would you do?’ Was it correct what they did? Some people think it was noble. Other people think they were crazy. People definitely have a reaction to it. People who are parents, and women especially, have a reaction because they relate to it. At the end of the day, whether they like it or not, at least they’re watching it, and I’d rather have something polarizing that people are talking about than something that’s forgettable.”
The story is told from the perspective of Samantha’s 14-year-old brother, who is in the backseat with a video camera and recording everything as it unfolds. The documentary-like style is known as “found footage,” a genre popularized by films such as “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity,” Summer said.
“It’s as if a character in the film is shooting, but he isn’t really,” she said. “It adds to the feeling that this could have really happened, especially in this day where we all have cameras on our phones, and you could be driving down the highway and see this.”
The found footage style makes the film seem so realistic, Kerry said, that some viewers don’t realize it’s fiction.
“I get emails constantly from people saying, ‘I’ve googled these people, and I can’t find them. Can you tell me how to get money to the victims?’ It kind of tricks people and makes them think it’s real,” he said.
It’s also a style that fit neatly into the Bellessa’s budget. The film was financed entirely by the couple and their business partner, Joshua Oram, and made with a crew of no more than 15 people.
“At times, it was only the three of us and the other two actors. That was it on some days,” Summer said. “We had a microbudget, probably less than what “Transformers’’ (budgeted) for bottled water. We had to be creative so that we could stay in our budget and still make a film that did what we wanted to do.”
Kerry had done a number of commercials and music videos when he began raising money for his first feature film. But when the real estate market crashed in 2007, his largest investor dropped out and Kerry had to start over.
“We kind of came to the realization that no one is waiting around to give us a few million dollars to make a film,” Summer said. “We paid for the film between the three of us.”
The gamble paid off when distribution company Wrekin Hill, which often works with smaller independent productions, picked up the film at the beginning of this year.
“Wrekin Hill bought the rights to it for a certain number of years,” Summer said. “We retain ownership of the film and get a percentage of the box office take.”
Though the Bellessas were working on the film together from the beginning, Kerry originally intended for Summer to help him produce the film. He didn’t plan on casting his wife in the starring role.
“I didn’t want to have it be ‘writer/director husband and actress wife,’” he said. “It sounded like a recipe for disaster or low-budget stuff, you know, because that’s what everyone does.”
Kerry held casting calls and considered several actresses for the part, but something made him keep coming back to the idea of using Summer.
“I kept having this gut feeling it should be Summer,” he said. “She was good for this because she was the kind of person I was looking for, and she never once asked me to choose her. She’s gotten a great response from everyone, and I think it was a good decision.”
Though the project was Summer’s big screen debut, she’s been modeling and doing commercial work since she was a child. By the time she was a junior at Kaneland High School in 1997, she was traveling to Japan, Paris, Miami, New York and Los Angeles for modeling jobs.
For the past three years, Summer’s also been hosting an online variety show, “The Girls With Glasses,” with her friend Brooke White, a singer/songwriter and former “American Idol” contestant.
The two met on MySpace “back when it was cool,” Summer said.
“One day she called me up and said, ‘Let’s meet at IHOP and figure out something we could do together.’ We thought doing something television-oriented would be a lot of fun, and we started putting them up online,” Summer said. “We’ve had a lot of success monetizing it.”
The pair interview musicians and bloggers, write jingles, give fashion tips and work with various brands.
“It’s a way (for brands) to get the word out about their products in a fun, entertaining way,” Summer said. “With Kate Spade, we kind of wear their clothes and talk about fashion trends. For Method, we interviewed one of the founders of their company.”
Viewers often catch a glimpse of the Bellessa’s two children, Rockwell, 1, and Phoenix, four weeks, as well as White’s child, on screen—something that Summer said adds to the show’s personality.
“We have kids screaming and wanting stuff between takes, but we have a really good time. It was important for us to have something that was kid-friendly and to do something that was creative while also being able to be moms,” she said. “We kind of embrace it. For a few takes, Rockwell’s on my lap, and for another few takes, he’s not. Our viewers embrace that because we have a lot of moms who watch us. It’s kind of fun like that.”
Summer hopes the online show will lead to a network television deal.
“We’ve had a lot of networks want to possibly develop it into something on television, and following us and our crazy lives becoming mothers and trying to do it all. We haven’t found a perfect fit yet,” she said.
“Amber Alert” is available through Xfinity On Demand, Amazon Video or Apple iTunes. To watch episodes of “The Girls With Glasses,” visit www.thegirlswithglasses.com.
SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College recently received two $1,600 New Look Awards from the Illinois Community College Board through the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support.
Waubonsee’s Administrative Office Systems program was recognized for its “Administrative Office SUCCESS” project, which is designed to enhance the success of special populations as defined by the Carl D. Perkins grant.
The college’s Access Center for Students with Disabilities received an award for its “First Note to Parents” project that focuses on providing information about college resources and services to parents of students with disabilities.
by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village Board members on Nov. 20 discussed hiring the company Tricom to answer 911 calls and take care of dispatch.
Montgomery currently takes care of dispatch for Sugar Grove, while Tricom currently dispatches for St. Charles, Batavia, Geneva and Elburn.
“When a 911 call comes in, we take data from our dispatch centers and go straight to the squad cars,” said Nicole Lamela, regional vice president of Tricom. “If it’s a landline, it gives us the info of their address. If it’s a wireless call, the GPS bounces off the cell towers and shows up on our map.”
Tricom notes its consistent achievement of a 60-second response time. The company has a system whereby calls are prioritized and allocated when necessary. Board members and Tricom representatives during the meeting expressed a desire to work together.
Father Bob Jones (left to right), Scott Resetich and Keith Rich, both of Rich
Harvest Farms, and Ted McCannon, building committee chair, cut the ribbon for the St. Anthony Chapel at Saint Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Sugar Grove on Monday.
The ribbon cutting was followed by a luncheon and a tour of the new chapel. Visitors (above) check out the interior of the new chapel. The event was presented by Schramm Construction. Exterior view (below) of the new St. Anthony Chapel.
SUGAR GROVE—The Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees recently appointed Dr. Scott Peska of DeKalb to the position of Dean for Students.
Dr. Peska has worked at Northern Illinois University (NIU) since 2004, serving as the associate director and first year connections coordinator for four years before establishing and working as the director of the Office of Support and Advocacy. That office was opened to provide holistic support after the tragic NIU campus shooting in February 2008.
In his most recent role as the director of Military Student Services at NIU, Dr. Peska created a one-stop shop to serve the college’s 800 veteran and active military students. Under his leadership, NIU won the Illinois Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education in 2010.
Dr. Peska earned his doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Illinois. He also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from Illinois State University, as well as an associate degree from Highland Community College.
SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College President Dr. Christine Sobek was recently appointed to the Illinois Pathways Advisory Council by the Illinois Community College Board. She attended the council’s first meeting on Oct. 19 in Springfield.
Illinois Pathways, funded through Race to the Top, is a new and innovative state of Illinois-led Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education initiative designed to support college and career readiness for all students. Illinois Pathways is supported by a partnership between the state of Illinois’ lead education and economic development agencies.
ELBURN—Two Elburn residents were among the five suspects recently arrested following a three-month-long investigation into cannabis trafficking that yielded a seizure of 598 pounds of cannabis.
Matthew A. Westerlin, 28, and Crystal L. Westerlin, 29, both of the 300 block of Nebraska Street in Elburn, were arrested on Nov. 13 and each charged with cannabis trafficking, a Class X felony; unlawful possession of cannabis (more than 5,000 grams) with intent to deliver, a Class X felony; and unlawful possession of cannabis (more than 5,000 grams), a Class 1 felony.
The investigation began in September after law enforcement personnel obtained information regarding a cannabis-trafficking organization, based in Kane and McHenry counties, that transported “hundreds of pounds of cannabis” from Arizona to Illinois.
Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group, North Central Narcotics Task Force, Illinois State Police, and the DuPage and Kane County state’s attorney’s offices, used surveillance to gather additional information regarding the organization, including the date of the next cannabis shipment.
During the shipment, agents followed the suspects, who traveled from Arizona to Illinois in four seperate vehicles, and performed simultaneous traffic stops in Kane County—one of which took place at the intersection of Route 47 and Jericho Road in Sugar Grove. The other stops occurred on Orchard Road in Aurora.
Agents also performed a search of the Westerlin’s home.
The five suspects appeared in Kane County Court on Nov. 14 for a bond hearing, with Matthew and Crystal’s bonds each set at $27 million.
Store will officially open in early January by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels on Tuesday said he’s excited and proud to have Walgreens become a part of the Sugar Grove family.
The drug store, located at the corner of Route 47 and Galena Boulevard, is slated to open Jan. 6. Its soft opening was held Friday, Nov. 9, with several people, including Michels, in attendance.
“It’s a great location, and their build-out was excellent,” he said. “I’ve heard from quite a few residents who are excited about Walgreens coming to Sugar Grove.”
As a special gift, vouchers for flu shots at the Between Friends Food Pantry were given out during the soft opening.
Michels said Walgreens is just one of a few businesses that are new to the village.
“Walgreens is a big addition to Sugar Grove, as is Rush Copley (medical clinic),” Michels said.
Trustee Kevin Geary said Walgreens has been a long-awaited addition to the village, and Sugar Grove welcomes it to town.
“Several residents have spoken to the pharmacist and (have) commented on how helpful and friendly she was,” Geary said. “(Walgreens) looks like a winner for the citizens of Sugar Grove.”
The Sugar Grove location will also carry a liquor license, which the Village Board approved by a vote of 5-0 on Oct. 2.
Photo: Joe Berenyi of Oswego won three cycling medals at the recent 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and has been named WCC’s Featured Alumnus. Berenyi played baseball for the Chiefs before losing his right arm in an accident. Courtesy Photo
SUGAR GROVE—Over the last few months, Waubonsee Community College graduate Joe Berenyi, an Oswego resident, has won gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, met President Barack Obama, and been hailed as a hero at local and national appearances.
In recognition of all of these recent accomplishments, as well as the many years of dedication and strength that went into achieving them, Waubonsee is proud to name Berenyi its Featured Alumnus for October.
Growing up in Aurora, Berenyi was always an athlete. He played football and baseball at Aurora Central Catholic before playing baseball at Waubonsee in 1988 and 1989. A pitcher and outfielder, his school record of three doubles in a single game still stands.
“Joe was a quiet, tough player,” said Waubonsee baseball coach Dave Randall. “And he’s used that competitiveness to excel in what he’s doing now.”
After graduating from Waubonsee in 1989, Berenyi’s playing days were over, but his competitive fire still burned.
“I had always liked riding my bike, and I started to do it more for exercise,” he said. “But I like to compete, and so entered a few local races.”
Then, in his second year of cycling, the day before a big race, Berenyi was involved in a construction accident that resulted in a broken leg, shattered kneecap and the loss of his right arm.
Needless to say, recovery was not easy, but after a few years, Berenyi decided it was time to try out the truth of the old axiom about not being able to forget how to ride a bicycle. Prairie Path Cycles was able to modify bikes to include electronic shifting gears and brakes that work with just one lever so Berenyi can ride using only his left arm.
By 2009, Berenyi was back in local races, and in 2010 he was at the Paracycling National Championships.
“I was interested to see how I would fare there, because everyone I had raced around here had been able bodied,” Berenyi said.
Berenyi took silver in that first paracycling race and hasn’t looked back since. In this, his first year of international competition, Berenyi won medals in three of his five events at the Paralympic Games—a gold in the 3 kilometer individual pursuit, a silver in the men’s individual time trial and a bronze in the track cycling mixed sprint competition.
“It was bigger, better and more impressive than I expected,” Berenyi said of his Paralympic experience.
At 6,000 strong, the crowd at the games was large and especially loud, given that Berenyi’s competitor in the gold medal race was British.
“The decibel level was like a jet engine, but it didn’t distract me,” Berenyi said. “I knew what I had to do—just pedal.”
Pedaling is mostly all Berenyi had time for while in London. He and his family were able to take the train to Paris for a day, but otherwise, Berenyi was training, recovering and competing. And, of course, living life in the Olympic village.
“The food in the village was very good,” he said. “They have stations with food from all over the world.”
Berenyi will have plenty of chances to sample more international cuisine as he continues to paracycle on the world stage over the next few years. While he hasn’t ruled out competing in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, right now he’s trying to enjoy being home and adjusting to his newfound celebrity.
After receiving a hero’s welcome when he returned home to Oswego on Sept. 10, he was off to the White House on Sept. 13, where he and a group of 400 other Paralympians and Olympians got a chance to meet the Obamas and Vice President Biden.
“I don’t know how it happened, but I was chosen to stand in the front row right behind the president,” Berenyi said. “I was right next to [Olympic sprinter] Tyson Gay and two down from [Olympic swimmer] Michael Phelps. I think that photo might end up being the family Christmas card this year.”
Photo: Dave DiNaso gets some assistance with “Axl,” an American alligator, from Natalie Foss, 5, of Sugar Grove. Photos by Patti Wilk
Dave talks to kids about “Zainy”, a Black Throat Monitor. Dave brought his “Traveling World of Reptiles” to the Sugar Grove Library on Oct. 27. Dave shared his reptile friends with Halloween-costumed kids and their parents, during the library’s Halloween Event. “Traveling World of Reptiles” is an “up-close, live, hands-on experience” with snakes, lizards, turtles, spiders, alligators, frogs and more.
The kids pet “Dino” the Green Iquana.
Zach Tate, 12, of Sugar Grove is covered in snakes, and even his glasses are decorated. Chiquita, an Albino Burmese Python, sits on his lap.
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village Board members on Tuesday discussed ideas on how to treat trees in the community that have been infested by the Ash Borer beetle.
Streets Supervisor Geoff Payton explained that the Ash Borer issue is becoming more and more problematic and should be taken care of soon. Payton advocated a method known as “soil drenching,” which is more cost effective and could be completed by the village’s Public Works crew.
The board also discussed the idea of removing trees that are non-salvageable. These measures are meant to slow the process of Ash Borer spreading.
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Township Supervisor Dan Nagel resigned on Oct. 30, citing personal and family reasons as factors in his decision to step down.
Nagel, 67, had served on the Township Board for 38 years, and was elected supervisor in April 2005.
“We got a lot accomplished and got a lot of stuff that needed to be done, and I think a lot of people happy were about it,” he said.
Nagel issued a press release earlier this week, stating that it has been a sincere pleasure to serve the public as supervisor and trustee of the township of Sugar Grove.
“In that time, we have worked together to make our township community a great place to live,” Nagel said in the release.
The release also states that Nagel is proud of the work the township accomplished on major projects over the years, including the establishment of the new Township of Sugar Grove Office at 54 Snow St., the senior center, permeant mental health offices, new assessors offices and renovations to the Township of Sugar Grove Community Building.
“I would like to thank the many government bodies in the township that I have worked with over the years, and for their cooperation on the many successful joint projects,” Nagel said. “While we many not have always agreed on how to get the job done, I am gratified by our ability to work together to serve our community.”
According to a Sugar Grove Police Department document dated Oct. 31, Sugar Grove Township trustee Scott Jessman last week met with police to “speak about activity that he had discovered while serving in the capacity of a trustee for the township.”
Jessman in the document states that he had filed a Freedom of Information Act request regarding payment disbursements made to Nagel, and that there had been several suspicious reimbursement checks made payable to Nagel from Sugar Grove Township. The document also states that Jessman “felt he needed to report the matter,” and that he “had some files that could substantiate his claims.”
Sugar Grove interim Police Chief Ron Moser confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation regarding the matter, but would not comment any further.
SUGAR GROVE—On Oct. 22 and 23, Waubonsee Community College students had the chance to learn about representative democracy from a former U.S. representative as part of a special “Congress to Campus” visit.
The Honorable Barry Morris Goldwater, Jr. (R-Calif., 1969-1983) visited WCC’s Sugar Grove Campus to share his experiences with students, faculty and staff. Although scheduled to participate, former U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows (D-Miss., 1998-2003) was unable to attend due to a family emergency.
“As a community college, we encourage our students to get involved in their communities,” said WCC President Dr. Christine Sobek. “We are excited to be a part of this unique program that communicates the importance of democracy and demonstrates the value of civic engagement.”
In addition to participating in panel discussions about current political topics, Rep. Goldwater also met with the college’s Student Senate and student club participants to talk about careers in public service.
The Congress to Campus Program was founded in 1976 by the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress (USAFMC) with the goal of introducing members of college communities to individuals with firsthand knowledge of representative democracy and a life dedicated to public service. In 1996, the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership partnered with the USAFMC to manage the program, and since that time, more than 170 visits have been planned to campuses throughout the United States. This is the second time Waubonsee has hosted the Congress to Campus Program.
Horrifying House (right)
If you are in Maple Park this week, see if you can find this Halloween decorated house. It has monsters, ghouls, devils, graves, severed bodies and even a giant spider crawling down the front. Photo by John DiDonna
Halloween fun at the community center
Creative Beginnings Preschool held its Halloween parties in the gym at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center on Tuesday. Kids had a good time playing games and winning prizes. Gianna, 3, (right) is dressed as “Foofa” from the show Yo Gabba Gabba. Ben Wituk, 3, (left) shows off his costume and gets a prize. Photos by John DiDonna
Sugar Grove trick or treaters (below)went to the Sugar Grove Public Library on Saturday to get treats, do crafts and watch the reptile show. Here a bunch of costumed kids wait for the show to start. Photo by Patti Wilk
SUGAR GROVE—Former board trustee and current Kane County Board member Melisa Taylor attended the Sugar Grove Village Board meeting on Oct. 16 and stated that the Between Friends Food Pantry organization recently gathered $25,450 in donations for food. Taylor also mentioned that the local Jimmy John’s restaurant donates old bread every Thursday, while Jewel-Osco in Sugar Grove pulls food off its shelves on Thursday to donate to the food pantry.
by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village Board members on Oct. 16 discussed the American Heartland Bank scheduled for construction on the southwest corner of Wheeler Road and Route 47 in Sugar Grove.
The building will be under construction until sometime next spring. Community Development Director Richard Young stated that American Heartland Bank will commit approximately $53,000 to fix sign, sidewalk and bike conflicts, and toward construction of an intersection to accommodate the new American Heartland Bank location.
Bank Attorney Jamie White said the company is considering moving its Naperville location to the the location on Heartland Drive in Sugar Grove. The current employees at the Heartland Drive bank would be moved to the new facility on Wheeler Road. These decisions are not final, however, and still require board approval.
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Interim Police Chief Ronald Moser at the Village Board meeting on Oct. 16 said that the Police Department is looking to buy three new squad cars, along with three mobile computers and three cameras for the cars. The department is also considering converting an old storage room into a server room to store information from the cameras.
SUGAR GROVE—This year, Waubonsee Community College (WCC) student trustee KC Vogt of Aurora will serve as chair of the Illinois Community College Board’s Student Advisory Committee (ICCB-SAC) while also completing a prestigious Student Leadership Institute externship.
Vogt was elected chair of the ICCB-SAC at the group’s first meeting last month. The committee is comprised of student representatives from all of the state’s community colleges, and Vogt was one of three students vying for the chair position.
“I just thought that, with the leadership training I had at Marmion and all the leadership roles I’ve held, I would be able to motivate everyone to move in the right direction to achieve the committee’s purpose,” Vogt said.
The purpose of the ICCB-SAC’s Student Leadership Institute externship is to prepare the next generation of lifelong leaders through mentoring and training. Vogt is one of only 11 students picked to participate in the program this year, and has already met with his local community mentor, Rush-Copley Medical Center Chief Operating Officer John Diederich.
By Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village Board members on Tuesday voted 5-0 in favor of a 2012-13 liquor license for the Walgreens store located at the corner of Route 47 and Galena Boulevard.
Trustee Tom Renk was absent from the meeting.
“I am glad to have (Walgreens) in town. I wasn’t sure if this would be a Walgreens that serves liquor,” Village President Sean Michels said. “(The building) is looking good. It’s all landscaped. The parking lot is done.”
The Village Board also voted 5-0 to amend a resolution that regulates the number of liquor licenses per class. According to a document from Village Clerk Cynthia Galbreath, the amendment is necessary to “reflect the granting of an additional license for the 2012-13 licensing year.”
Walgreens is slated to open in Sugar Grove in early November.