Category Archives: Sugar Grove

Kicking off the Corn Boil

Ceremony, parade start this year’s Sugar Grove Corn Boil
by Hope Zegiel
Sugar Grove—A full year’s worth of work, organization, coordination and fundraising culminates in one place at one time—6 p.m. on Friday, July 27, in front of the sound stage behind Kaneland John Shields Elementary School.

This is when and where the annual Sugar Grove Corn Boil festival kicks off. The Opening Ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and leads directly into the Corn Boil Parade.

The parade will include the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups and other community members. This year will feature special honors for the original members of the Corn Boil Committee.

Leading the parade will be Kaneland High School’s drum line.

Jerry Swatek, entertainment chair of the Corn Boil, said that there will be several speeches during this year’s ceremony.

Speeches will come from Steve Ekker, Corn Boil president, as well as Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels. In addition, the annual Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year will be announced then, as well as who won this year’s Medallion Hunt. Finally, the winners of the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry Scholarship will be announced.

While no specific details can be formally released, opening ceremony and parade organizers asked all spectators to keep their eyes open during the event, as there are some surprises in store as well.

‘Old Timers’ unite!

SG ‘Old Timers’ Reunion set for Saturday, July 28
Sugar Grove—If you have lived in Sugar Grove for so many years that you think of yourself as an “Old Timer,” come join the reunion from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, at the Sugar Grove Community House.

For more information, call Bob and Carol Ottum at (630) 466-4227, or Joe and Mary Didier at (630) 466-4766.

Sugar Grove Lions Club looks to grow

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—The Sugar Grove Lions Club, chartered in 1969, is working to rebuild its membership. Sugar Grove resident Bill Keck, one of the Lions Club founding members, said he remembers an event at which there were between 70 and 100 people, although they were not all members.

Keck said the enthusiasm for the club has waxed and waned over the years. At one point, the club was down to nine members.

“There were times when the organization was on life support, but there seems to be an enthusiastic group at this point,” he said.

There are currently 20 regular members, Vice President Kevin Geary said. The goal is to have 50 or more members and to become more active in the community.

The local group recently incorporated and obtained 501(c)(3) status to become a nonprofit organization. This allows donors to claim their donations to the Lions Club on their income taxes.

The largest and most ambitious event that the Sugar Grove Lions Club sponsors is the firework display at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil. The show costs the Lions Club between $12,000 and $15,000, President Keith Koester said.

The Lions Club will also man a booth at the Corn Boil to sell and check people’s identification for wristbands to purchase alcohol. Koester said they need more volunteers to take the money and check IDs.

This fall, the Lions Club will hold its second annual pig roast on Saturday, Sept. 15, in the pavilion at Volunteer Park. People can purchase tickets for the all-you-can-eat dinner for $5 a person or $25 for a family of five or more.

“It’s a family event,” Koester said.

Their hope is to arrange a softball match among the Sugar Grove Fire and Police departments and the Kane County Sheriff’s Department. The name for the games suggested by Sugar Grove Fire Marshall Wayne Parson is Guns and Hoses.

The Sugar Grove chapter will also participate again in Lions Club International Candy Day, by handing out packages of hard candy at intersections in exchange for a donation.

In addition to collecting used glasses for people who can’t afford them, the Sugar Grove Lions Club donates money to local organizations, such as Conley Outreach, the Sugar Grove Cub Scout Troop and the Sugar Grove Between Friends Food Pantry.

“The more members we have to distribute the work to, the more we can do in the community,” Koester said.

Time for some thrills

Carnival Hours
• Friday, July 27
4 to 11 p.m.
• Saturday, July 28
11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
• Sunday, July 29
11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Unlimited-ride Wristband Hours
• Friday, July 27
4 to 11 p.m.
• Saturday, July 28
1 to 5 p.m.
• Sunday, July 29
1 to 5 p.m.

Corn Boil carnival set to entertain
by Hope Zegiel
Sugar Grove—The carnival at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil starts Friday, July 27, and ends on Sunday, July 29.

Stated by the Corn Boil website, the rides will be provided to the Corn Boil by the Wilson Family Show. The attractions and rides will be the same all three days, although the hours will change.

This Corn Boil will mark the second year the Wilson Family Show will supply the attractions for the carnival.

Jerry Swatek, Corn Boil entertainment chair, said that on Friday the normal carnival hours will be from 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 28, the normal carnival hours will be from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, July 29, the carnival will open at 11 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.

At the carnival, there will be wristbands that allow participants to go on unlimited rides from a specific time frame, with one set price. The bracelets will cost $20.

Jackie Link, branch manager from Old Second Bank, said that it is appreciated if consumers intending to purchase bracelets go to the lobby, rather than the drive-through, because there are some papers that need to be filled out.

Wristbands will be valid from 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Sugar Grove Lions Club—Fireworks, take 10

More info
For more information or to donate,
visit one of these two websites:

• Sugar Grove Corn Boil
• Sugar Grove Lions Club

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—The Sugar Grove Lions Club will present its 10th annual fireworks display at dusk on Saturday, July 28, at the 2012 Sugar Grove Corn Boil.

The Lions Club sponsors the fireworks, billed on the Corn Boil website as “one to be envied by communities near and far,” and on the Lions Club website as “the most spectacular fireworks in Kane County,” at a cost of $12,000 to $15,000 each year. The Lions Club hopes to make enough money through donations and raffle tickets to break even this year.

Individuals may make a donation and/or purchase raffle tickets online at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil website at, or the Sugar Grove Lions Club website at Tickets for the Summer Raffle are $10 each, and only 5,000 tickets will be sold. There is an opportunity with each raffle ticket purchase to donate an extra $5 toward the fireworks.

“If every family gave us $5, we’d have terrific fireworks,” Sugar Grove Lions Club President Keith Koester said.

The Lions Club will announce a raffle winner every hour at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil, on Friday, July 27, from 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday, July 28, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, July 29, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Winners receive $800 in cash, and if the person whose ticket is selected arrives at the Lions Club booth in 15 minutes, they will win an additional $200.

There is one chance to win $3,000 at 9 p.m. on Saturday night. The $200 bonus payout does not apply to the Grand Prize Winner.

The number of the raffle tickets will be announced over the Lions Club booth public address system. The bar coding on the winning ticket will also be scanned, so that if ticket purchasers wish, the winning ticket will appear on their phone.

The Lions Club tent will be located across from the beer tent and next to the food concession court. A timer will be used so the public can watch the 15-minute count down. All winners will be listed at the Lions Club tent, as well as the Lions Club website. There are 29 chances to win.

People do not need to be present to win the $800 cash prize.

Cars among the corn

American Legion Post No. 1271’s
6th annual Car Show
Saturday, July 28 • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

American Legion hosts annual Corn Boil car show, swap meet
by Hope Zegiel
Sugar Grove—As part of the annual Sugar Grove Corn Boil festivities, American Legion Post No. 1271 will host the sixth annual Car Show on Saturday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 65 First St.

Registration closes at noon for all participants that want to join in the competition. Along with registering the car, truck, tractor or motorcycle, the participant must pay a $10 dollar entry fee.

The website states that each vehicle of choice brought will be voted within six different classes.

The best cars will be ranked with first, second and third places. Trucks and special interest vehicles will be judged on the same level.

Best motorcycles in the show will have a first- and second-place award given.

Rat Rods, along with tractors, will only have a first place.

There will also be one overall award, Best of Show.

Along with a regular car show, there will also be a Swap Meet/Car Corral area. Holding a spot in this area will require a $20 entry fee. This is for participants who wish to sell their car, motorcycle or tractor during the show.

Also, according to Tammy Carter, representing the Sugar Grove American Legion, the swap section of the show will be for vendors to sell used or new car parts.

There will be no alcohol allowed in this section of the Corn Boil.

The rain date scheduled for this event will be Sunday, July 29.

Sponsorship: the financial core of the Corn Boil

Local businesses, organizations, individuals support event through donations
by Hope Zegiel
Sugar Grove—The Corn Boil Committee strives to make sure that all of the festivities at the annual event are at the lowest cost possible. Sponsors help offset those costs to ensure that prices stay low so everyone can take part in the festival.

There are 10 different types of sponsors recognized throughout the Corn Boil.

The first category is labeled Rock’n Pop’n SoundStage Sponsor. This is for sponsors who donate $3,000 overall, or $1,600 per day.

Benefits for the sponsorship include placing their the name or logo in print ads, on the sound stage banner, and having their name announced throughout the day at the event. In addition, they receive a complimentary business booth and access to a VIP tent that includes meals and other treats, as well as a great view of the stage.

WSPY Nelson Multimedia will be sponsoring at this level.

The second highest category is Korny KidZone Sponsor. The sponsor must donate $2,500 to be put into this category. Mediacom is involved at this level.

Their benefits are similar to being a Rock’n Pop’n SoundStage Sponsor. However, their name or logo will be on the Kid Zone banner rather than the soundstage banner.

Platinum Corn Stalk and Golden Sweetness come third and fourth down on the list, and require donations of between $1,500 and $2,000.

Platinum Corn Stalks include the Daily Herald Media, Hinds Trucking, J&S Construction, John Shields Elementary School, Kane County Chronicle, Metrolift, Inc., village of Sugar Grove, Provena Mercy Medical Center, Waste Management, Inc., Sugar Grove Police Department, Sugar Grove Fire Protection District, and Genoa Pizza & Genoa Italian Concessions.

Supporting the Corn Boil at the Golden Sweetness level this year are the Elburn Herald, SignFX, Sugar Grove Park District, Volkman Insurance Agency,Inc., Harris Golf Cars and Blue Peak Tents.

Benefits for the sponsor are the same as the Rock’n Pop’n SoundStage Sponsors.

The Silver Boiling Pot sponsors support the event with a $1,000 donation and receive their name on print ads, their name or logo on the SoundStage banner, names announced throughout the day, website visibility with a link to their site and access to the VIP tent.

Healy Chapel, Schmitt McDonald’s, Castle Bank and Waubonsee Community College have sponsored the Corn Boil at this level.

When donating $500, about 300 Corn Boil T-shirts will have the name or logo of the sponsor on them.

Sponsors such as Old Second National Bank, Producers Chemicals Co., Mediacom, Advanced Realty Consultants and Genoa Pizza & Genoa Italian Concessions will be on the T-shirts this year.

Corn Boil Kernel and the Harvester Shuttle are are for sponsors who donate $300 to $499, or $250 to $299, respectively.

Their benefits include: their name or logo on the SoundStage Banner and their name or logo on the Corn Boil website.

Participants include Hollywood Casino, Jewel Osco, KB Sales, Inc., Microtax, Sugar Grove Animal Hospital, Cordogan Clark & Associates and

The Corn Shucker is named for sponsors who donate up to $250 to the festival. They will have their name printed on the Corn Boil website.

Those are Donald J. Fee, D.D.S., Ltd, Flow Technics, St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church and Pepsi Beverages.

And, of course, the Corn Boil committee will always accept donations of any size, and for those who contribute what they can, they fall under the category Korny Kindness. The website states that all “In-kind donations are always welcome. The sponsor will receive a sponsor benefit equal to the declared value of the donation.”

So, anytime you wonder how the committee can afford to put on the event, which features so many free activities and entertainment opportunities for festival-goers, know that these are the companies, organizations and individuals who support the Corn Boil financially. To become one of them for this year or in the future, visit

2012 Sugar Grove Corn Boil Schedule and Information

July 27-29

The Sugar Grove Corn Boil is held in Volunteer Park, west of Route 47, just off Main Street in downtown Sugar Grove, behind the Kaneland John Shields Elementary School.

For information on cancelations and event changes, visit these official Corn Boil pages:


Twitter Feed: @SGCornBoil


Friday, July 27

Corn Boil is open 4 to 11 p.m.

4 p.m.
Arts and crafts
Business Booths
Food vendors
Beer tent
5 p.m.
Bingo, hosted by the Sugar
Grove Fire Fighters Auxillary

5:30 p.m.
Opening parade
Ceremony celebrating
community spirit
6 p.m.
Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew
7 p.m.
Dot Dot Dot on the main stage
9:30 p.m.
Hi Infidelity on the main stage

Saturday, July 28

Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

7:30 a.m.
5K Run/Walk, hosted by the
Sugar Grove Park District

9 a.m.
American Legion Car Show

10 a.m.
Cooking Challenge entrants
may begin putting
out their entries

11 a.m.
Arts and crafts
Business booths
Bingo, hosted by
Kaneland Peer
Kids Zone—
Animal for

11:45 a.m.
Cooking Challenge
entrants must stop
putting out their
judging begins

Carnival/ Food vendors
Dance Ignition Demo

12:30 p.m.
Kids Zone—Ronald McDonald

1 p.m.
Jazzercise Fitness Demo

1:30 p.m.
Kids Zone—
Water Balloon Toss Contest

2 p.m.
Kids Zone—
Those Funny Little People
M&M Dance Demo

3 p.m.
Rocky’s Dojo Demo

4:30 p.m.
Kids Zone—Kane County
S.W.A.T. demonstration

6 p.m.
Shagadelics on main stage

8:30 p.m.
Hairbangers Ball on main stage

Dark (approximately 9:30 p.m.)

Sunday, July 29

Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

11 a.m.
Kids Zone—
Fascinating Faces by Laurie
Bingo—hosted by the
Children’s Tumor Foundation,
“NF Cole’s Crew”
Kids Zone—Traveling World
of Reptiles Show
1 p.m.
Kids Zone—Diaper Derby
Baby Crawl Race
Firefighter Water Fights

1:30 p.m.
Kids Zone—Kyle’s Duct Tape
Wallet Demonstration
2 p.m.
Kids Zone—
Rockasaurus Rex Show
4 p.m.
Josh Wilson on the main stage
Kids Zone—Encore performance
of the Rockasaurus Rex Show
4:45 p.m.
Kids Zone—Corn Boil
500 Big Wheel Race

Wine shop proposes opening in Sugar Grove

by Cheryl Borrowdale
SUGAR GROVE—A new wine shop may be coming to Sugar Grove, following the Sugar Grove Village Board’s 5-0 approval of a special use permit, a liquor license and several zoning variances for 34 Terry Drive.

Wine in the Grove, a business proposed by Sugar Grove residents Gayle Deja-Schultz and Carl Schultz, would sell wine and other specialty food items, offer wine and beer service in the store and on its patio, and host wine tastings and other events. Deja-Schultz said the patio would likely have six tables with umbrellas for shade.

The board hammered out the variances and permits with Deja-Schultz for nearly an hour, issuing a liquor license and discussing requirements for parking, patio size, fencing and landscaping.

The shop, which will be located in the same building as Rocky’s Dojo and Gym, will have a 20-foot patio that faces the entrance ramp to Route 56, equipped with an ADA-accessible ramp. In order to accommodate the ramp and maximize patio space, the board granted Deja-Schultz a setback variance that allows the shop to have a three-foot setback from the property line instead of the standard five-foot setback. They also specified the types of landscaping and fencing board members thought were necessary to make the high-visibility area attractive.

Parking was the largest concern for some members of the board, who noted that the 48-person capacity of Wine in the Grove called for an additional 19-20 parking spots in the attached lot according to zoning regulations, but that Deja-Schultz was requesting to have zero additional parking spaces.

“The common sense of it is, there really is enough parking there,” Deja-Schultz said. “I think the parking on that building is more than adequate.”

Although the nearby Old Second Bank agreed to allow Wine in the Grove to use 10 spaces when necessary, Deja-Schultz said that paying for the liability insurance for those spaces was a “deal breaker.”

“I would love to bankroll a $100,000 business, but it’s getting to the point where a small business owner (can’t make it),” Deja-Schultz said.

Ron Troutman, owner of the building, said that he thought the additional spaces were unnecessary because in nearly 30 years, he has never seen the parking lot full.

“I’ve got other people wanting that unit there. I’ve got an astrologer, two psychics. I’d rather have the wine shop. You know, Jesus comes back and he likes wine, he turned water into wine,” Troutman told the board. “I’ve been retired for 12 years, and I’m there every day, and parking has never been a problem.”

Trustee Thomas Renk said that he was reluctant to grant a zero parking space variance because the board’s responsibility is to protect all involved, including the property owner.

“I don’t want to handicap you in terms of what you would be able to bring in with future businesses,” Renk told Troutman.

“We’re also trying to protect the tenants and anyone else who would move into that vacant storefront,” Village President Sean Michels said.

Trustee Mari Johnson proposed writing a contingency plan into the parking variance that would allow the village to require Deja-Schultz to expand parking capacity or enter into the agreement with Old Second Bank at anytime, if the village determines that additional parking is needed.

Board members voted 5-0 to approve the parking variance with the contingency plan.

Light years ahead

Photo: Waubonsee Community College’s first Photovoltaic Systems class has completed its certification requirements. Brian Rozel (back, left to right), Jeff Armesy, Wade Wessels, Matt Grant, Chris Johnson, John O’Connell, Joe Smith, Mark Labedz, Alex Valerio and Jose L. Tovar. Richard Andrzejewski (front, left to right), Ken Darby, Andy Steimel and Instuctor Gregg Erickson. Courtesy Photo

WCC graduates first solar energy technologies class
by Lynn Meredith
SUGAR GROVE—With fuel costs rising, it’s comforting to know that the cost of one form of energy is actually going down.

Photovoltaic systems, or solar panels, have dropped in price from $15 per watt to $4 per watt. According to Waubonsee Community College’s Renewable Energy Technologies Instructor Gregg Erickson, the cost could soon get down to $1-$2 per watt.

That’s just one of the reasons 13 people ranging in age from 20 to 60 enrolled in WCC’s first Photovoltaic Systems class.

“WCC was attuned to the growing need for renewable energy. This became one good option to get the work force exposed and trained. It’s a versatile program. Some students are individuals looking to get to know and understand, so they can install their own panels, or there are those that this is a new avenue of career,“ Erickson said. “Within the program, the focus for most students was installation, but there’s quite a market to design or sell the systems.”

Elburn resident Rich Andrzejewski was drawn to the class from an article he read in the Elburn Herald. As a former media developer, he was looking for a new career. Andrzejewski found the three classes leading toward the certificate to be challenging, but necessary for the future.

“Personally, I feel that it’s the way we should go. We’re going to run out of oil. We’re going to run out of gas,” he said. “The one thing I discovered in the class is that it required me to use all my knowledge from my past schooling: electricity, astronomy, algebra, geometry. It’s a combination of all those when you’re setting up a solar panel.”

The students study how to site the panels and how change of season affects productivity. They need to be aware of how the sun rotates on its axis and how ambient temperatures affect the force of the sun.

“As far as the Midwest, our location is ideal for solar panels. Snow and solar panels are great because of the brightness of the snow and for keeping the cables cool. A sunny place like Texas is actually too hot,” Andrzejewski said.

WCC installed solar panels in 2010, a wind turbine last April, and an underground geothermal system, all at the college’s Sugar Grove campus. In addition to photovoltaic systems, the college offers small wind technology and geothermal (heating and air conditioning) certificate programs.

“We use the systems on campus as examples for the training and exposure to show season changes. We can gather information and keep records to see what the production is,” Erickson said.

The HVAC lab on campus is cooled and heated by the geothermal tubing. Erickson is available to give tours of the lab to anyone who is interested.

Erickson worked as an electrician for 40 years, and took training in photovoltaic systems, which he went on to teach to journeymen.

He is enthusiastic about the renewable energy programs and the benefits for the future. He says new panels are being developed that are made of a film that goes over glass, making them an integral part of the structure.

“You don’t have to look very far to see the benefits of renewable energy. Just look at Europe. They have incentives and a commitment to solar power. They are way ahead of us in the use in homes. Germany, Italy, the U.K. are very much ahead of us having systems in their homes. Jimmy Carter, when he was president, realized that oil is too valuable to burn, yet today most of our power comes from coal. And they are still making money off drilling,” Erickson said.

For more information, visit and Renewable Energy Technologies.

Village green lights Mallard Point drainage improvements

by Cheryl Borrowdale
SUGAR GROVE—After three years of planning and negotiations, the Mallard Point/Rolling Oaks drainage project received a green light on Tuesday, when the village received a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and hired contractors to begin construction.

Village Board members voted 5-0 to approve a contract with Neslund Construction to perform the drainage improvements for $1,142,184.09, the lowest bid. The engineering firm of Trotter and Associates was also contracted to oversee the construction on the village’s behalf.

“It’s exciting to finally have the green light to go forward and to be able to solve some things for those residents,” Village President Sean Michels said.

The contract was the final step in a long process that has included approval of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Rob Roy Drainage District, an easement agreement, a special assessment, project bid approval, pond/wetland proposal approval and an SSA levy. The village applied for the permit from the Army Corps in January, but the approval depended partially on an orchid survey by US Fish and Wildlife Service that could only be done between June 28 and July 11. Three visits on non-consecutive days confirmed that wild orchids are not growing in the wetland area, Mark Bushnell, project engineer for Trotter and Associates, said.

Construction on the drainage project—which will install a pipe 30 inches in diameter and 8,800 feet long to convey groundwater from the two subdivisions to the Drainage District ditch near Jericho Road and Route 30—will begin in approximately one month, Bushnell told the aoard on Tuesday night.

The project will lower high groundwater levels in Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks, resolving the drainage problems that have plagued some residents for years, causing some houses to have flooded basements, sump pumps that ran continuously and mold issues. Many of the houses experiencing problems are along Brookhaven Drive or within a block or two of it, although houses scattered throughout both subdivisions have experienced drainage issues, Bushnell said.

Trustee Kevin Geary urged the contractors to begin work quickly.

“The greatest fear I have is that we have some of the best possible weather to get this pipe in, and my fear is that we will miss it and get rain in a month,” he said. “This project has been years in the making, and I can tell you that the residents are very tired out there and want it done. Anything we can do to expedite that (should be done).”

The project is moving forward as quickly as possible, Bushnell said, but before the construction can begin the area must first be dewatered. Work will then start on the south end and move toward Jericho Road up north, and the project will be substantially completed within 150 days, and finally completed within 180 calendar days from the start date.

“Right now we have a contractor who has indicated that those completion dates are not an issue, but we haven’t received final confirmation,” Bushnell said. “It’s in their best interest to get it done before snow flies. The 150 to 180 days is just to allow the contractor enough time.”

Bushnell said that the village, the county and other agencies deserved credit for their collaborative efforts to move the project forward.

“At the completion of the project, we hope it alleviates the drainage concerns that initiated the project three years ago,” Bushnell said.

Don’t ‘bee’ left out

Attend the Senior Spelling Bee
by Lynn Meredith
SUGAR GROVE—Can you spell “palindrome?” How about “minuscule?” If these are a cinch and you’re 50 years of age or older, you can show off your spelling skills at the third annual Senior Spelling Bee.

The event will take place on Friday, July 27, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Sugar Grove Community Center, just prior to the Corn Boil’s opening ceremonies. The event is hosted by state Rep. Kay Hatcher and is open to anyone age 50 or older who lives in the 50th House District, which includes parts of Kane, Kendall and LaSalle counties.

“Kids aren’t the only ones who should be able to show off their spelling talents,” Hatcher said on her website. “This is the third spelling bee I’ve hosted, and each one gets more competitive. It provides a forum for Fox Valley mature adults to show off their abilities, keep their spelling skills sharp, and also to have some fun.”

If you aren’t old enough or don’t want to compete, you can participate by cheering on your favorite contestant. For a hint of some of the words, you can find them on Hatcher’s website.

“A list of some, but not all, of the words will be posted on my constituent website, Participants are encouraged to study by using a dictionary or by going to or,” Hatcher said in a letter to the village of Elburn.

Participants must pre-register by calling (630) 553-3223 before Friday, July 20. Rules will be provided at the time of registration.

July 13 Police blotter

The following reports were obtained from local police departments. The individuals charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Sugar Grove
• Kyle R. Talkington, 19, of the 1500 block of Westbury Circle in North Aurora, and John A. Wascher, 19, of the 900 block of N. Ashbury Avenue in Bolingbrook, Ill., were arrested on July 11 and issued ordinance violations for violation of park hours, possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia

July 4 parades

Kids say the Pledge of Allegiance before the start of the annual Elburn 4th of July bike parade (above) last Wednesday. Kids decorated their bikes and had a police escort around town.
Photo by Mary Herra

The Sugar Grove Annual Community Bike Parade (left) took place on the 4th of July. In spite of the intense heat, several bikers participated and had a great time. Kids decorated their bikes and wagons. The parade started from John Shields Elementary School.
Photos by Patti Wilk

Sugar Grove business is ‘fairy’ original

Photo: Tree Star Hollow is located within Spring Bluff Nursery in Sugar Grove. It offers fairy gardening, supplies and workshops. Linda Haas is the owner and has been fairy gardening for over 12 years. She is a professional landscape designer and artist. She is a former Master Gardener and has been part of the garden volunteers at Chicago’s Lurie Garden for the past 5 years. An outdoor fairy garden (left) with a house made from a stump. Photos by Patti Wilk

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—When it comes to her job description, Sugar Grove resident Linda Haas has the perfect line on tap.

“I am an artist. I make fairy furniture and fairy houses,” she said.

Indeed, Haas builds one-of-a-kind fairy houses and accessories at Tree Star Hollow, a boutique garden and artist studio she opened last March in a small, empty building at Spring Bluff Nursery, 41W130 Norris Road in Sugar Grove.

“I have met so many wonderful people since (last March). I have also made many new friends, and we even have a few regulars (at Tree Star Hollow),” Haas said. “At one of my workshops, I met a woman who showed me some fairy furniture her sister made almost 20 years ago. It inspired me to take on the challenge of making tiny fairy furniture from twigs and branches. It has been very successful. The furniture sells quicker than I can make it. I even started holding fairy furniture workshops.”

To make the houses, Haas spends hours searching for bark and other items from fallen and dead trees. She said the bark is best collected during the winter months to avoid ants and other insects living in it. She also looks for lichens and wild vines to embellish the houses. Back in her workshop, she can spend anywhere from two to four hours on a single house.

“When I make the fairy furniture I use branches from a supply I continuously collect and let age. The branches shrink a little as they age, so I avoid using fresh cuttings,” Haas said. “Due to the size of these pieces, I use tweezers to glue the branches together. It can take 1-2 hours to complete a piece of furniture.”

A self-proclaimed gardener for as long as she can remember, Haas’ earliest memories consist of dissecting weeds and searching high and low for bugs. The daughter of an artist, every home Haas lived in as a child had a studio overflowing with art supplies.

“It always smelled of oil paint; I was fortunate to be encouraged to also express my creative side at a young age,” she said.

Embracement of creativity is a gift Haas believes she passed down to her children.

“I encouraged them to play outside and use their imaginations. One of our daughters would make up stories about a Pixie Hollow that was in my garden,” Haas said. “She once took tiny pancakes out to the garden for the fairies. We then started to create small miniature gardens inside the landscape.”

Haas then started a new fairy garden under a very large Ash tree at Spring Bluff, where she was employed as a landscape designer at the time. The Ash tree is long gone now as a result of Emerald Ash Borers, but the stump remains, as does the fairy garden.

Haas soon stepped away from her landscape designer position in order to devote more time to crafting houses for her fairy garden. When her son moved away, she combined two rooms in her home to form an art studio.

“Having my own studio really opened the flood gates of creativity. I was out of control. I purchased my own tools and (built) fairy houses,” she said. “I was constantly dragging part of trees and shrubs into the studio (in the house). I was starting to hold workshops in my home to share this newly found creative outlet.”

It was last fall when Haas realized she was growing out of her studio space, and that’s how the empty building at Spring Bluff Nursery became home to her business. Haas said word of mouth in the community has been extremely helpful to Tree Star Hollow. Her business has even attracted some attention from those who live “across the pond.”

“We have a website ( We get many requests for online purchasing, but each piece is handmade and one of a kind. It is not easy to sell online if you cannot mass produce your items,” she said. Last week, we had a request from as far away as London, England. A production company was looking for twig fairy furniture for a future jewelry ad.”

Tree Star Hollow is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Additionally, Tree Star Hollow will host a three-day “Fairy Festival” the weekend of July 27-29 at the store. A complete list of dates and times is listed on the Tree Star Hollow website. Haas said most of the festival’s activities are for children.

Workshops dates and times are listed on the Tree Star Hollow website. The studio is also available for walk-in and private small-group workshops.

For Haas, Tree Star Hollow is more than just a business—it’s a labor of love.

“The best part of my day is (when) I make people smile. Everyone who walks into the shop notices the large fairy garden outside our door and I can hear, “how cute is that!?” We have people of all ages at the workshops. The kids have a great time and are always extremely excited to build houses for the fairies.”

Golfing Bliss

The Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing was held on Friday at Bliss Creek Golf Course. The event included a silent auction, frozen candy at hole No. 1, a longest drive contest and a hole-in-one contest with a prize of a Chevy Malibu donated by Bob Jass Chevrolet. Here, Pete Wallers (Engineering Enterprises) and Sean Michels (Sugar Grove Village President) enjoy the day at Bliss Creek. Photo by Patti Wilk

SG Medallion Committee anxious to award winner

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—The hunt for the Sugar Grove Corn Boil Medallion for 2012 is in its fifth week, and Corn Boil Committee President Steve Ekker said he believes someone may have already found the medallion.

“If someone has found it, we would urge them to come forward to claim their prize,” Ekker said. “Until then, we will still consider the medallion not to be found and will continue to place clues.”

The Corn Boil website will post four additional clues before the Corn Boil.

“Last year, we might have made it too hard,” Corn Boil organizer Pat Graceffa said. “No one found it until the day of the Corn Boil. This year, we put it in an easier place and made the clues easier.”

Former Sugar Grove Public Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes took over the job of cluemaster after Bob Carroll passed away two years ago. Carroll initiated the Medallion Hunt five years ago, and did not even let cancer prevent him from coming up with the clues for the contest. His picture adorns the medallion.

Hughes said Carroll’s were big shoes to fill. She said he had a puzzle-master mind and thought about things in a scientific and precise way.

“We did the best we could. We tried to get just the right level of intrigue,” she said.

The person who finds the medallion and identifies him or herself will be recognized during the opening ceremony scheduled for Friday night, July 27, and will go home from the Corn Boil $50 richer.

“We want to keep the spirit of Bob Carroll alive,” Graceffa said.

June 29 police blotter

The following reports were obtained from local police departments. The individuals charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

• Matthew A. Barrera, 19, of the 1100 block of Needham Road in Naperville, Ill., was arrested on June 20 and issued citations for disobeying a traffic sign and driving while license suspended.

Sugar Grove
• J. Isabel Jimenez-Valdez, 56, of the 700 block of Liberty Street in Aurora, was arrested on June 14 and issued a citation for no valid driver’s license.

Volleyball team donates to food pantry

Kane County Jrs. 15U Pink volleyball team organized a scavenger hunt that gathered over 250 items for the “Between Friends” Sugar Grove Food Pantry. The food was collected as part of a team bonding effort called “Let’s Can Hunger.” Generous donations from the Mallard Point and Chelsea Meadows subdivisions supported the effort to reach out to others in our communities.
Courtesy Photo

Center brings entrepreneurs, experts together

Guests networking during the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center event at Waterstreet Studios Art Gallery in Batavia. At the FVEC event in Batavia, (below, left to right) Dr. Christina Krause from IHAP, Harriet Parker from Small Business Development Center and FVEC Organizing Committe and Maria Kuhn from IHAP.

Courtesy Photos

Harriet Parker
Illinois Small Business
Development Center
Waubonsee Community College
18 S. River St., Room 268
Aurora, IL 60506
(630) 906-4143

Ernie Mahaffey
Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center

by Susan O’Neill
FOX VALLEY—Steve Gaspardo, a manufacturing engineer with 15 years of experience in the field, founded Gaspardo & Associates in 1996.

The company is a full-service 3-D metrology laboratory in Batavia.

Gaspardo, who has a number of degrees, including one in computer-assisted manufacturing, is one of about 25 Fox Valley entrepreneurs who have worked with experts with the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center (FVEC) to take their businesses to the next level.

Gaspardo patented an automated robotic scanner, ComScan, in 2011, but he needed the capital to move it forward. The FVEC team assisted Gaspardo in preparing financial statements and projections that helped him obtain the financing necessary to take ComScan to market and exhibit at the Quality Show in Chicago.

“Financial statements read like a novel,” Wessex 504 Corporation President Karen Lennon said. “It took three seconds to retell the story.”

Lennon went on to introduce Gaspardo to her favorite bankers, and he was on his way.

Gaspardo is proud of the fact that his equipment is 100 percent built-in-America, and most of it done within the Fox Valley area.

The Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center was founded about a year ago, in partnership with the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Waubonsee Community College. The Small Business Development Center, under the leadership of Harriet Parker, an entrepreneur in her own right, has provided assistance to small businesses in the area for a number of years.

An average of 400 clients per year—mainly life-style businesses, such as hair salons, coffee shops, landscapers and retail stores—take advantage of the center’s services. Parker links them up with resources with the expertise they need to get their businesses off the ground.

“I consider myself a matchmaker,” Parker said.

Although Parker said she has been able to help many local small businesses, she found that there were entrepreneurs in the area who needed more than she could provide.

Last year, the SBDC received a $100,000 grant from the Small Business Association through the Small Business Jobs Act. The guidelines for the grant required that the funding be used for consulting services to entrepreneurs and it emphasized collaboration.

At the same time, a group of retired and semi-retired business people from Geneva, Batavia, and other Fox Valley communities approached Parker with the desire to provide mentoring to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

According to Parker, there are two things that are critical to the success of a new business: timing and a support network.

“When the stars align like this, you know it’s going to be good,” she said.

Parker, together with a number of entrepreneurs in the Fox Valley area, used the funding to form the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center, a virtual organization set up to bring advisors and mentors together to help entrepreneurs launch new products, expand into different markets, and implement other forms of innovations.

The FVEC celebrated its partnership with the SBDC last Thursday at an event that showcased a number of entrepreneurs who have been able to benefit from the wealth of expertise available through the center.

“The goal of collaboration between the Waubonsee Small Business Development Center and the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center is to be the ultimate dot connector,” Parker said. “We are working hard to create a network of resources that supports growing entrepreneurial businesses in meaningful ways.

Habitat restoration workday

SUGAR GROVE—A habitat restoration work day will take place Saturday, June 23, from 9 a.m. to noon at Bliss Woods Forest Preserve. Bliss Woods is located on Bliss Road, northeast of Route 47 in Sugar Grove. Participants will meet in the main parking lot.

Bliss Woods is a high-quality woodland with many uncommon native plants and animals. Tasks performed by volunteers include cutting and stacking invasive brush, removing aggressive non-native plants, gathering and sowing native seeds and other work that helps the woodland stay healthy and stable.

Interested people should bring gloves, wear sturdy shoes and long pants, and bring mosquito repellent..All people are welcome to participate, but children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information, call Mary Ochsenschlager at (630) 466-4922, email or call Robb Cleave at the Kane Forest Preserve Office, (630) 232-5980.

The work day will not take place in extreme heat.

WCC program nets $1.2 million in tax refunds

SUGAR GROVE—This tax season, Waubonsee Community College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program was able to return more than $1.2 million to the local economy. That total came in the form of tax refunds and credits for the almost 700 low- to moderate-income clients the program served. In total, more than 1,400 returns were filed, including 2011 federal and state returns, as well as returns from past years and amended returns.

The college hosted free tax assistance sessions at its Aurora Campus on Wednesdays and Saturdays from January to April. The site was staffed by more than 60 community and student volunteers, including those enrolled in the college’s “VITA Program: Tax Procedure and Practice” accounting class.

Waubonsee partners with the Center for Economic Progress as part of that organization’s Tax Counseling Project. Waubonsee adjunct faculty member George Sterling, of Aurora, supervised the site this year. Waubonsee has participated in the VITA program since 2004.

Sugar Grove resident opens tutoring franchise

Photo: Sugar Grove resident Laura Keske has opened a Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Service franchise that offers one-on-one help to students in North Aurora, Aurora, Elburn, Maple Park and Big Rock. Here she looks over some books to be used in upcoming tutoring sessions. Photo by John DiDonna

by Keith Beebe
Sugar Grove—Sugar Grove resident Laura Keske in February bought a franchise of the Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services, which is the nation’s largest one-on-one in-home tutoring service. As a result, Keske’s franchise is currently serving students in Elburn, Maple Park, Big Rock, Hinckley, North Aurora, Sycamore, DeKalb and portions of Aurora.

“We tutor all subjects, pre Kindergarten to adult, with one-on-one sessions in the student’s home,” Keske said. “Our tutors are either certified teachers or degreed professionals specializing in the higher maths and sciences.”

Prior to entering the home-tutoring business, Keske spent more than 20 years working for major corporations in finance and accounting. She got involved with home tutoring because she wanted to provide a service that benefits the local community while providing herself with a more flexible schedule for her family, which includes a 9th grader at Kaneland High School and a 6th grader at Harter Middle School.

“I love this business. We are working with students one-on-one and developing customized programs to get them ahead in school. It’s so rewarding to hear the success stories of the students and the know I’m making a difference in the community,” Keske said. “Additionally, our tutors are recruited locally, so we are providing part-time jobs for folks in the community. That makes me feel good.”

Keske said Club Z! In-Home Tutoring can help raise a student’s grades, provide motivation and help build their self-esteem. Her students are tutored in the comfort and convenience of their own homes, and the service is structured around the schedule of the student’s family.

“If a parent notices their child struggling in school, the best thing they can do is take action before the problem gets worse,” Keske said. “With one-on-one tutoring, we can get to the root of the problem and help the student understand the missing concepts. This lays a solid foundation for the future.”

Keske said Club Z! has been receiving a lot of phone calls for tutoring, especially for math.

“Since each area of math is a building block, if a student is stuggling with a particular concept, it could hurt them all down the road,” she said. “Our tutors know how to help the student understand the missing concept and move them forward.

Club Z! also has study skills programs called “Learning Built to Last,” as well as ACT Prep.

Keske said the study skills program is a something every middle school and high school student should take to help them with organization, test anxiety, setting goals, memorization skills and much more to help them become a balanced learner.

“We also provide customized ACT Prep programs to help students achieve a higher score and have a chance to get into their college of choice. Our students scores increase four points on average,” she said.

For more information on Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services, or to set up a tutoring session, visit, or call (630) 277-8117.

June 15 police blotter

The following reports were obtained from local police departments. The individuals charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

• Kory T. Crotteau, 19, of the 4N400 block of Citation Lane in Elburn, was arrested on June 12 and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

• The following were cited during a Tobacco Compliance Check conducted by a 17-year-old agent of the Elburn Police Department:
Jesus Alcamtar-Sanchez, 27, an employee of BP Amoco, at 940 N. Main St. in Elburn, was cited for selling cigarettes to a minor on June 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Jan Warren, 18, an employee of Jewel Osco at 800 N. Main St. in Elburn, was cited for selling cigarettes to a minor on June 1 at 7:45 p.m.

Sugar Grove
• Omar S. Majid, 19, of the 1200 block of Balmoral Court in Brookfield, Wis., was arrested on June 8 and charged with zero tolerance. Majid also received state citations for improper lane usage, illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor, and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

The three passengers in Majid’s vehicle, Anthony M. Caruso, 20, of the 1400 block of South 14th Street in St. Charles; Daniel R. Lynch, 20, of the 3N400 block of Laura Ingalls Wilder Street in St. Charles; and Jacleen E. Palmer, 19, of the 1100 block of Averill Drive in Batavia; were issued ordinance violation citations for unlawful consumption of alcohol by a minor.

Sugar Grove Chamber to offer Scholarship Fair

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fair will take place, free to the public, on Thursday, Sept. 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Sugar Grove Township Community Building, 141 S. Main St. in Sugar Grove.

Representatives from colleges, universities and organizations will be present to offer guidance in obtaining financial assistance to those planning to attend college, considering going back to school or needing continuing education credits.

This year, the Chamber will have expert speakers giving information on scholarship opportunities and help in filling out FAFSA forms.

The Chamber is looking for non-profit and for-profit organizations that provide scholarships who are interested in procuring a booth for the fair as well as sponsors to interested parties with questions may contact Shari Baum, Sugar Grove Chamber executive director, by calling (630) 466-7895.

On a mission: educating about epilepsy

Photo: Katelyn Alderman (center) enjoying time with her sisters Jennifer (left) and Tessa. Katelyn suffers from epilepsy and spends her time educating others about her
condition. Courtesy Photo

by Lynn Meredith
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove resident Katelyn Alderman was only in the third grade when she was diagnosed with epilepsy. She was having staring spells, sometimes 20 to 40 a day, and taking 15 pills a day to try to prevent them. She didn’t know she was having staring spells, and other people may not have known she had them, but when her diagnosis came, her life changed.

Soon, she was no longer invited to birthday parties, because parents with little knowledge about the condition feared it was contagious. Teachers did not know how to handle seizures. For safety’s sake, she could no longer do the activities that are normal for kids.

“I had four sisters, and to see them doing the things I couldn’t—I couldn’t ride a bike or take a bath. I couldn’t have hard candy. I couldn’t climb a tree. I couldn’t play basketball or softball with my sisters in the yard. Those things were not accessible to me,” she said.

For the last five years, however, Alderman has been seizure and medication-free. That can happen as a child matures, but is rather unusual and unexplainable. Now, with a lifetime of living with epilepsy, the Waubonsee student majoring in elementary education is eager to get the word out about the condition and make life easier for those with epilepsy, as well as their family, friends and community.

Reaching out to people and volunteering comes naturally to Alderman. She has always done some kind of volunteer work, so deciding to educate others seemed a good fit.
“I wanted to do something besides school and work,” she said.

Alderman’s mission got a step forward when she walked into her first class as a college freshman. Her instructor asked the class to write about their greatest academic challenge. After some hesitation, Alderman decided to break her own rule about not talking about her condition.

Much to Alderman’s surprise, the instructor asked her to stay after class where the instructor disclosed that her own daughter had been diagnosed with epilepsy.

Together they contacted the Epilespy Foundation of Greater Chicago, put up posters and even filmed a public service announcement with facts about epilepsy that will air on the Waubonsee channel. They are working on ways to get out the facts about epilepsy.

One of those lesser known facts is that 6 percent of the population—roughly 50 million people—have the condition, and many don’t even know it. Alderman likes to tell about another fact that may surprise people.

“ My favorite thing to say to groups is that more people pass away from epilepsy than from breast cancer,” she said. “Breast cancer is so out there, but epilepsy can cause deaths. Plus, 77 percent of people with epilepsy will never know why they have it. No one in my family had it.”

Alderman would like to talk to middle schools or high schools, even if it’s only to the teachers, to make them aware that so many kids have the condition.

“I want to be able to educate people on what to do if someone has a seizure. My ultimate goal is to make it mandatory for teachers to have First Response training,” she said. “If I’d have had a seizure in school, they wouldn’t have known what to do. Anyone who wants me, I’ll come speak. I’ll go anywhere.”

Alderman already speaks to over eight classes a semester at Waubonsee, including English, sociology and special education classes.

“I tell underage drinkers that stress, in combination with alcohol, can be the first trigger for someone who may not know they have epilepsy. I want them to not be afraid to call for help, because people can die from it,” she said.

Alderman also expresses herself through art. She is a landscape watercolorist in the Impressionist tradition.

“Because I couldn’t do sports, my mom and I would start scrapbooking or making cards when I was diagnosed,” she said. “My aunt is a huge painter. She taught me how to draw. If I had a seizure, that wouldn’t hurt me.”

June 8 police blotter

The following reports were obtained from local police departments. The individuals charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

• Albarrin F. Valentin, 36, of the 900 block of Kane Street in Aurora, was arrested on June 3 and charged with driving while license suspended.

Sugar Grove
• Donna M. Parker, 52, of the 2400 block of Courtyard Circle in Aurora, was arrested on May 26 and charged with driving under the influence and improper lane usage.
• Tristian M. Oliver, 31, of the first block of Hardwick in Sugar Grove, was arrested on May 30 and issued ordinance violation citations for possession of cannabis (less than 2.5 grams) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Parker was also issued citations for driving while license suspended and registration suspended for non-insurance.
• Tadeusz W. Chmura, 30, of the 3900 block of Menard Avenue on Chicago, was arrested on June 3 and charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding (more than 21 mph over the speed limit). Chmura also received traffic citations for operating a motorcycle on one wheel, improper display of registration, violation of classification (motor-driven cycle), speeding (over 120 mph in a 55 mph zone) and disobeying a stop sign.

SG Police investigating possible abduction attempt

SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Police on Tuesday received a report of a possible abduction attempt.

An 11-year-old girl told police she was sitting on a bench in the area of McCannon and Bastian streets on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. when an older Chevrolet Astro Van stopped in front of her. The driver, who she described as either black or Hispanic, motioned towards the passenger seat and told her to come over there. When she refused, the van left the area. Police were unable to locate the vehicle during a subsequent search of the area.

The victim stated that the van was older and had a swing-out rear door with a window that was rusted along its edges.

Anyone who may have seen the incident, or may have any additional information, is asked to contact the Sugar Grove Police Department at (630) 466-4526.

Corn Boil Medallion is now hidden

SUGAR GROVE—The fifth annual Corn Boil Medallion Hunt is on. The medallion this year is hidden within Sugar Grove Township. The person who finds the medallion is then recognized during the Sugar Grove Corn Boil 2012 opening ceremonies that will take place on Friday, July 27. The winner will receive a cash prize of $50.

Clues as to the medallion’s whereabouts will be available in the Elburn Herald from June 7 through July 27 (or until the medallion is found). Clues will also be posted weekly, on Thursdays, beginning June 7, at

The medallion is not hidden on private residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural property. It is not hidden on a golf course, in a cemetery or on church property. It is not buried. It is not located under water or in a building. It is not located in a hazardous area, and tools will not be required to locate it. Respect all property when looking for the medallion. If you find the medallion, please follow the directions.

Emily Kay Salon to offer massage therapy

SUGAR GROVE—Emily Kay Salon now has a licensed massage therapist offering therapeutic massage on Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays, 1 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a $15 discount on massages from now until Wednesday, June 20.

Emily Kay Salon is located at 522 N. Route 47 in Sugar Grove.

SG resident lives up to Conley Angel Award

by Lynn Meredith
SUGAR GROVE—In 2011, Willy King was presented with an Angel Award by Conley Outreach for his service as a volunteer. He has lived up to that title all of his life. From his rural upbringing in Arkansas, helping his mother plow the ground for a large family garden, to mowing the lawns of his neighbors well into his retirement, King has been there for those around him, and he has the stories to prove it.

“He will do whatever you need whenever you need it,” said Carol Alfrey, executive director of Conley Outreach. “If he has the time, and if he has the ability, he will do it.”

I spent a delightful afternoon with the unassuming King, who kept me spellbound with the stories from his life. From humble origins in the South, through World War II and on to a career in industry, King has seen his share of national and personal tragedies.

Raised on a farm in Ravensden, Ark., the seventh of 12 kids, King has a love of children and has a way with them, as mothers of fussy tots at the Sugar Grove Methodist Church can attest. King always has a mint ready or an offer to hold a crying child.

“I love kids. I never saw one I didn’t like,” King said. “My mother taught me that. We used to babysit. I thought I should be out playing with the boys, but we had to take care of the others.”

The 40-acre farm grew some cotton and a little corn, but it was the family garden that kept them going during the depression and the rationing in World War II.

“We raised horses, we raised pigs and cows. We planted cotton and a little corn—not much—and we had a garden at home. It was a big garden. I’d have to take the horses and plow that up for my mother. She raised beans; she raised everything,” King said.

His father was a Justice of the Peace, whose influence both helped and held Willy back during his childhood.

“I’ll never forget, this man stole this girl out and came to our house one night to get married. My dad got us kids out of bed. We had to help witness,” King said. “My dad also wrote for the Hardy newspaper. When a boy would come around to see one of my sisters, he’d put that in the paper. He’d say, ‘I kept an eye on him because he didn’t look too honest to me.’ Things like that.”

His father’s position in the small town got him a lighter than expected sentence for things like a crash he was in, but it also hindered him when he wanted to enlist in the army during World War II. King’s father wanted to keep him at home because four of his brothers were already serving in the war.

“Mr. Metcalfe ran the draft board. My father told him he wanted to keep me home. I went back a week later and told him that my dad has two more sons at home and why did he need me to run a 40-acre farm. I told him, ‘I’ll go to one of those small towns ( and enlist there), and there’s nothing you can do about it,’” King said.

In 1945, at the age of 18, King went off for 17 weeks of basic training, but technicalities sent his training group home for 11 days before being sent overseas. He was playing catch in the front yard when his mother came out, gesticulating in a funny way. The kids thought she was acting funny, and then she said to King:

“You don’t have to go back,” she said.

“ Mother, I’m in the Army. I have to go back,” he replied.

“No,” his mother said. “I just got the news on the radio: the war ended.”

Still in the Army but not the war, King was sent to Japan during the occupation, and came home with a respect for the Japanese and some interesting insights. As a cook, he interacted with Japanese soldiers. He was mystified when they would thank him for winning the war. He asked them why they would thank the Americans for beating them.

“They ( the Japanese soldiers) said, ‘But we weren’t hurt. I used to work, but I didn’t get paid. They kill me if I said anything about it,’” King said.

He said that they often had to do things they didn’t want to, like searching people’s homes and retrieving possible weapons. When one woman started crying when he tried to take her kitchen knife, he managed to let her keep it when he learned that it had been passed down in her family. He paid the price when the guard at the door saw him and punished him.

Back on U.S. soil, King moved to Illinois in 1952 to take work at Seal Master Bearings in Aurora. He did quality control inspection and drove every vehicle in the place. He also met his wife there. Coincidentally, she was from a town in Arkansas only 60 miles away from Ravensden. They raised two children.

After a 34-year career at Seal Master Bearing in which he served as the United Auto Workers Union President and on the Alcohol and Drug Committee for both the plant and the union, King retired.

King has seen his share of tragedy. He remembers the day John F. Kennedy was shot. That day was also his birthday.

“I was at work, and the foreman came out—I’ll never forget it. He said, ‘Take the rest of the day off, our President has just got shot,’” King said. “I got home, and it was my birthday, see, and my wife was sitting there crying. I didn’t get a cake that time.”

The worst time of his life struck when his 19-year old grandson, his 47-year old daughter and his 75-year old wife all died within a 10-month period.

“I just about went nuts. I didn’t want to live, and I really thought about doing something about it, but I’m ashamed of it now. My neighbors really helped me, and so did Bruce Conley,” King said. “Bruce and I got to be really close friends.”

These days, King helps at Conley Outreach and runs 13-week grief groups with his son, Willy King, Jr., and his son’s wife, Margaret, at the Sugar Grove Methodist Church. Among other things, he mows on the Conley Farm. Sometimes he just drives through the farm, remembering times he saw Bruce talking with groups of enthralled children.

“I could be down in the dumps and just drive through there and feel a lot better,” King said.