Fire experts make case for greater fire protection

Live fire demonstration shows need for home fire sprinklers
CHICAGO—The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) held a live demonstration of the need for home fire sprinklers as part of the 2009 NFPA Annual Conference Expo at McCormick Place recently. The side-by-side room burn highlighted the speed and effectiveness of sprinklers in controlling a residential fire and reinforced NFPA’s new campaign promoting sprinkler advocacy, Fire Sprinkler Initiative, Bringing Safety Home, which was launched earlier this year.

“Home fire sprinklers save lives and this demonstration shows how important they are to keep people safe at home,” Jim Shannon, president of NFPA said. “NFPA is a vocal advocate for home fire sprinklers because too many of the residential fire deaths across this country could have been prevented by this proven technology.”

Approximately 80 percent of all fire deaths occur in homes and nearly 3,000 people died in house fires in 2007—or nearly eight Americans every day. The chances of dying in a fire decrease by about 80 percent when home fire sprinklers are present. When a house is protected by home fire sprinklers, the fire is contained by the activation of just one sprinkler roughly 90 percent of the time. In homes where sprinklers are not present, the fire can burn for minutes, raging out of control, filling the home with toxic smoke and resulting in far greater losses. A recent report from NFPA, on, shows sprinklers can reduce the average property loss by 71 percent per fire.

The live fire demonstration in Chicago, hosted by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, ROC Exhibitions and the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, included a side-by-side display with identically furnished rooms. One side of the display had home fire sprinklers installed; the other side of the display did not. One at a time, both rooms were set on fire. As the room without sprinkler protection was set on fire, thick black smoke quickly filled the enclosure. The fire burned out of control, to the point of flashover, until the Chicago Fire Department stepped in to extinguish the fire. The room with home fire sprinklers was then set on fire. As the heat built up in the display, the sprinklers activated. In stark contrast to the first room, the fire in the second room was quickly controlled by the overhead sprinklers. Home fire sprinklers are designed to activate when a certain temperature increase is reached and can effectively control smoke, heat and flames. The fire and smoke damage in the sprinklered room was significantly less than in the room without sprinklers. Currently, all model building codes call for sprinklers in new construction of one- and two-family homes. There are approximately 50 communities in the Chicago area that have such a requirement.

“The Chicago area is one of our national models for providing greater fire protection to its residents and the fire service by requiring sprinklers,” Shannon said. “Communities here are showing the rest of the country how to spare their residents from the devastating effects of fire.”

More information on home fire sprinklers is available at and

About the Fire Sprinkler Initiative: Bringing Safety Home
The Fire Sprinkler Initiative, a project of the National Fire Protection Association, is a nationwide effort to encourage the use of home fire sprinklers and the adoption of fire sprinkler requirements for new construction.

Get to your July 4th destination safely

Know how to avoid drunk drivers
STATE—With millions of drivers hitting the road this Fourth of July holiday, playing it safe when behind the wheel takes on even greater importance.

Unfortunately, the Independence Day holiday period is one of the deadliest times for being on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that every 40 minutes and nearly 40 times a day, someone in the United States dies in an alcohol impaired traffic crash.

“Despite the best efforts of police departments and law enforcement agencies, people who shouldn’t be driving are still on the road,” said Linda Moynihan, Regional Sales Leader for the Midwest Region of Allstate Insurance. “Even when you’re not on the road, you can help save lives by being a responsible party host, preventing friends and acquaintances from driving drunk and reporting suspicious drivers.”

To protect families from drunk drivers over the July 4th holiday period, here are some life-saving tips from Allstate and the National Safety Council:
• Don’t ever drink and drive. If you know you will be drinking alcohol, use a designated driver or public transportation
• If you spot an impaired driver on the highway, maintain a safe following distance and don’t attempt to pass.
• Report a suspected drunk driver immediately to area law enforcement from your car phone or a pay phone. Give police as much information (i.e., license plate number, make, model and color of vehicle, direction vehicle is traveling, physical description of driver) as possible. Do not try to stop the vehicle.
• Make sure children are properly fastened in seatbelts or child safety seats in the back seat every time they ride in a car. Six out of ten children killed in crashes are not restrained. Children age 12 and younger should always ride in the back seat, especially in vehicles with air bags.
• Allow enough travel time for frequent breaks on longer trips. Drowsiness can reduce reaction time almost as much as drinking.

Whether you plan to hit the open road or stay close to home, celebrate America’s independence safely by knowing how to diffuse a potentially dangerous driving situation. Don’t remember the Fourth of July for all the wrong reasons.

Fourth of July driving facts

• In 2007, 34 percent of all drivers
involved in traffic related crashes
during the July 4th holiday period
had a blood alcohol concentra-
tion (BAC) of .08 or higher.

• Of the 200 traffic related fatalities
that occurred during the July 4th
holiday period of 2007, 44 percent
involved a driver or motorcyclist
with a BAC of .08 or higher.

The national organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) lists the following warning signs for spotting a drunk driver on the road

• Straddling lanes or driving
on the center line

• Drifting or moving in a straight line
at a slight angle to the roadway

• Driving with headlights off at night

• Erratic braking or stopping
without cause

• Driving below the speed limit

• Slow response to traffic signals
(sudden stop, delayed start)

• Nearly striking an object, curb, etc

• Weaving or zigzagging
across the road

• Driving on the wrong side of the
road or off the roadway

• Tailgating

Editorial: Hitting home—Illinois budget cuts would affect local families, agencies

Last week, this space was devoted to Gov. Pat Quinn’s “Doomsday Budget”—which will include cutting human-service funding between 50 and 100 percent if the state fails to increase taxes to cover its massive deficit.

These cuts in funding will eliminate or vastly reduce the services received by victims of domestic violence, children in need and individuals with developmental disabilities

We lambasted the governor last week, stating that to use the Illinois citizens most in need of aid as political pawns was a most despicable act.

But amid our jabs at Quinn, we did not address the situation locally.

Many e-mails have been sent to us from Carrie Capes of Maple Park, whose son, Max, was born with a genetic mitochondrial disorder and a hearing impairment, and requires very close care (see Martha Quetsch’s story). Capes has joined what can only be called a grass-roots effort to make sure these cuts are not made—contacting newspapers and politicians in an effort to garner support against Quinn’s budget cuts.

Currently, Capes is eligible to hire people to assit her son for up to $1,152 per month from a state social service program called the Children’s Home-based Support Services Waiver.

If Quinn’s funding cuts go through on July 1, Capes said her family stands to lose in-home assistance which she claims saved her family (see Capes’ Letter to the Editor).

The Hoyda family of Sugar Grove also stands to lose the $1,000 per month from the state waiver program.

“It’s extremely hard,” Cathy Hoyda told Elburn Herald reporter Martha Quetsch. “We have no family in the area; my husband travels a lot. My job is 24-7 when he is gone.”

Without the assistance, both families, which have multiple children, will be forced to take on the full brunt of care for their special-needs child by themselves—which could lead to lack of attention to other siblings, financial hardship, and strained relationships.

“Some days we are all just in tears when we don’t have relief,” said Hoyda.

Further, those hired by families like the Capes and Hoydas will likely find themselves with smaller paychecks to support their own families.

So essentially, instead of working for its consituents, the budget and the Illinois government would be working against them.

When you add in all the corruption, pork expenditures, patronage jobs and waste that could be cut instead of the social services proposed, it is enough to make your blood boil.

“(It’s) such a vunerable population that cannot survive without help,” said Hoyda.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of local agencies that will be affected by the budget cuts.

The “Doomsday” cuts are supposedly going into effect July 1, so there is still time for the public to stand up and refuse the false choice that unless its citizens pay 50 percent more in income taxes, the failures of the state government should be paid for on the backs of our citizens most in need and most at risk.

Contact our local representatives and demand they be part of the solution. Our state Senator is Chris Lauzen (25th District) and can be reached by phone at (630) 264-2334 or e-mail at Our state Representative is Kay Hatcher (50th District), and she can be reached by phone at (630) 553-3223 or e-mail at

New Stewart principal starts July 1

Former principal leaves for new position
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Brian Graber takes over as principal for the Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School for the 2009-10 school year beginning Wednesday, July 1. Former principal Rebecca Dahn left the district to become principal of Fremont Middle School in Mundelein, Ill.

Dahn had been with the Kaneland District for six years, the last five as principal at John Stewart. During her tenure as principal, she said her accomplishments included increasing student achievement at the school by 10 percent and hiring a number of good staff members.

According to Associate Superintendent for Kaneland School District Jeff Schuler, Graber emerged as the top candidate after an extensive interviewing process. Graber accepted the offer last Friday.

“He brings a great wealth of experience to us,” Schuler said.

Graber was an assistant principal in the Elmhurst School District prior to coming to Kaneland, and was an elementary education teacher in Western Springs, Ill., before that.

What about Brian?

West Aurora import eager to get Knights rolling
MAPLE PARK—Tuesday morning had the usual cast of characters when it comes to KHS boys basketball.

Your Dudzinskis and your Bayleys were there at the East Gym, but the gray-shirted player leading the camp was a new face.

Getting in the action and giving instruction to the Kaneland players, however, made him look like he’s always been part of the fabric.

Meet Brian Johnson, the new head varsity basketball coach for the Kaneland Knights.

Johnson was offered the position last week and accepted, with the word officially coming down at the Kaneland School Board meeting on Monday. KHS sent out a press release detailing the appointment.

Johnson comes to the Knights after being a varsity assistant at West Aurora.

Johnson, who is set to teach P.E. and drivers Ed, takes over for Dennis Hansen, whose resignation was accepted after three years of coaching.

“It’s definitely a unique situation,” Johnson said. “All I can ask the guys is to make the adjustment. I don’t know what happened before 100 percent, but I can only let the guys know what I expect of them and ask them to give me their best.”

Johnson, a Sugar Grove resident, is no stranger to the court, having played at St. Edward High School and Judson College, both in Elgin, at the next level.

“We used to play Kaneland at regional time in high school. It was time to get to a place that I admired from a distance. I want to coach kids that have the type of mentality that I had as a player and work hard all the time,”Johnson said.

Johnson led the players through a two-hour camp that concludes with everyone shaking hands. A little touch that he doesn’t take complete credit for.

“I stole that from Lance Huber over at Dundee-Crown, who I had the pleasure and honor of working with for six years. It’s that blue-collar thing. We work hard, we’re still teammates, we shake it out afterwards.”

Johnson knows that the feeling-out process has to end soon and then preparation for the 2009-10 season begins.

“I know we have some players who are highly-touted. We’re going to use that to the best of our ability.

The Knights finished 13-13 in 2007-08 and lost in their opening round contest in February to Hampshire, 47-38.

Photo: New Kaneland High School varsity boys basketball head coach Brian
Johnson gets down to business during Tuesday morning’s basketball camp at KHS. Johnson, who comes over from West Aurora, will also teach P.E. and drivers ed. Photo by Mike Slodki

D-302 to hire interim HS principal

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—School District officials will hire an interim high school principal for the 2009-2010 school-year.

According to Associate District Superintendent Jeff Schuler, this will give the district the additional time it needs to find an appropriate long-term candidate.

Former high school principal Tony Valente left the district two weeks ago to accept a position at Hall High School in Spring Valley, Ill. His contract with the Hall Board of Education begins July 1.

Schuler said that a search for a high school principal is at least a month-long process to do it right. In addition, most school contracts begin on July 1 and go through June 30, so attractive candidates would already have signed their contracts for the upcoming school year.

Interim candidates are typically retired administrators, and Kaneland will look for those with strong experience as a high school principal. Schuler said he had a short list of candidates to interview.

Give me a T!

Miabella Brandonisio takes her swings during Saturday morning’s T-Ball battle at Lions Park West in Elburn. Miabella is part of the Elburn Angels, the only local all-girl t-ball squad. Photo by Mike Slodki

Fearing for the future

Families with special-needs children worried about possible state budget cuts
by Martha Quetsch
REGIONAL—Local families with developmentally disabled children will be among those whose lives will be drastically affected if the state slashes social services funding to reduce its budget deficit.

Maple Park resident Carrie Capes’ family is one of them.

Capes’ 9-year-old son, Max, was born with a genetic disorder making him hearing and cognitively impaired, and limiting his gross and fine motor skills.

“He needs to be watched very closely, all the time,” Capes said.

For the past two years, he has received special assistance from outside caregivers and therapists who visit regularly. Because of that help, the family has been able to keep their son at home instead of in an institution.

The Capes family currently is eligible to hire people to assist them for up to $1,152 per month, through a state social service program called the Children’s Home-Based Support Services Waiver.

That is one of the social services programs that could be suspended if Illinois lawmakers do not approve an income tax increase before the end of the month.

“The threat is that home support will be eliminated,” Capes said.

Cathy Hoyda, of Sugar Grove, also employs part-time caregivers for her special-needs son, Matthew, 15, through the waiver program. Without the program, the family will have to care for Matthew on its own, because it cannot afford to hire people to help without state aid.

“We would have to go back to the way we were before. It would just be me taking care of him all the time, me tired, me crabby,” said Hoyda.

Matthew has autism and a rare seizure disorder and must be watched around the clock. Matthew often becomes frustrated and aggressive because he cannot communicate his feelings verbally, Hoyda said.

Currently, Hoyda gets a break from caregiving from two college students with skills in special education that also make Matthew’s life easier.

“He does very well with them,” Hoyda said. “They know how to handle him and communicate with him.”

This type of care, which the family has been able to afford with a stipend of up to $1,000 per month from the state waiver program, has been invaluable, Hoyda said.

Losing financial assistance that allows for that special care will affect not only the parents of these families, but their non-special-needs children, too.

Capes is worried that without in-home help for her son, she will not be able to spend any quality time with her 11-year-old son, Reilly.

“Everything has to revolve around your special-needs child,” Capes said.

Hoyda has similar concerns about her daughter, Julie, 12.

“She already does not get enough attention,” Hoyda said.

Social-services funding threat

Without extra revenue from an income-tax increase, state funding to social services including child and adult care, developmental disability funding and drug- and alcohol-treatment program funding could be cut by 50 percent, causing some to be eliminated, according to Gov. Pat Quinn.

Quinn has proposed raising the state’s 3-percent flat-rate income tax to 4.5 percent for two years to address the state’s $9.2 billion projected budget deficit for the fiscal year starting June 30.

Facing possible cuts
• Mutual Ground, a battered women’s shelter in Aurora, Batavia, and Geneva, which provides shelter, advocacy, a hotline, sexual assault counseling and treatment. A loss of state funding would force Mutual Ground to close its shelter and its 24-hour emergency hotline.

• Kane County Child Advocacy Center, which investigates and prosecutes cases of sexual abuse and serious physical abuse against children

• Senior Services Associates, Inc., which aids in the investigation and prosecution of criminals who target senior citizens

• Gateway Foundation of Aurora, which provides counseling services for children and adolescents, in- and out-patient substance abuse counseling for adults and mental health counseling

• Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC), a treatment-based rehabilitation program and sentencing alternative to prison for substance-abusers with a limited criminal history

• Treatment Alternative Court (TAC), a mental-heath treatment program and sentencing alternative to prison

• Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Kids Hope United, Aunt Martha’s, Evangelical Social Services

• Local police departments and their teen outreach programs, community service centers, veteran services and mental health services

• Nine local health departments of the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium (NIPHC) provide public health and human services programs such as Maternal and Child Health, Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment, Family Case Management, Domestic Violence and Teen Pregnancy Prevention service to more than eight million people.

• Agencies such as World Relief—Aurora, Gateway Foundation, Hope for Tomorrow, Aunt Martha’s Youth Services, Prairie State Legal Services and the Association for Individual Development are all reporting that the pending cuts will significantly reduce services to the community.

• Hesed House, an agency serving homeless families and individuals, already has people sleeping in chairs every single night because it is out of beds.

• Association for Individual Development (AID) in Aurora serving people with developmental disabilities and mental health issues will have to cut offerings such as respite care, supported living services, psychiatric services, alcohol and substance abuse programs and early intervention to more 1,100 clients

PHOTO: Max Capes Courtesy Photo

District adds paraprofessionals’ dependents to health care coverage

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, the Kaneland School District will pay 50 percent of the cost of insurance premiums for dependents of full-time educational support staff (paraprofessionals). Currently, the district pays for 95 percent of the paraprofessionals’ premiums, but does not contribute to the premium for their spouses or children.

The School Board approved the change on Monday night, with a 4-1 vote. Ken Carter, whose wife works for the district, abstained, and Diane Piazza voted against the measure. Robert Myers was absent.

Piazza said she did not have a problem with the concept of contributing to the premiums for the dependents of paraprofessionals. The school district currently pays 50 percent of the premium for the teachers’ dependents. However, she said no one knows how much this additional coverage will cost the district, and the budget already has a $1 million deficit despite the cuts the district has made.

“I’m concerned with adding this expense at this time,” she said.

After the meeting, Piazza explained that her concerns are related to the salary increases the board approved earlier this year for the teachers. After the raises were enacted, the district then laid off a number of teachers to reduce the budget deficit. She said she did not want to see that happen with the paraprofessionals.

Several paraprofessionals attended the board meeting to hear the outcome of the vote. They had come forward as a group to ask for the additional benefit. They said they thought it was only fair that they receive the same benefits as the teachers. The teachers’ union does not represent them.

Medical and dental coverage for district employees costs $435 for single coverage and $1,087 for family coverage through Blue Cross and Blue Shield. On a monthly basis, the district picks up $412 of the single coverage premium, and the employee pays $20. The district pays $900 for family coverage, with the employee paying $180.
Board President Lisa Wiet said the paraprofessionals are a class of employees that has not received this additional benefit in the past, something that is out of line with neighboring school districts.
“It’s hard to predict how many will take advantage of the new benefit,” she said.

Aurora University announces 2009 graduates

19 residents are among the 1,260 Aurora University students receiving diplomas at the 116th annual commencement ceremonies held May 10.

The following residents received bachelor’s degrees were Janet Barry, Justin Dimitri, Shauna Gould, Alison Krueger, Brian Lund, Michelle Mondroski and Cassandra Stanley, all of Elburn; Laura Ortega of Maple Park; Lauren Bieritz, Vanessa Clarke, Jordan Eichelberger, Lauren Johnson, Carlye Konen, Kelly Martin, Phillip Romito, Andrea Salis, Amanda Steinberg, Samantha Topino and Catherine Zanis, all of Sugar Grove.

Davidson named James Millikin Scholar

Millikin University student Erika Davidson, a Kaneland High School graduate, was named a James Millikin Scholar in recognition of her outstanding scholastic achievements.

The James Millikin Scholars program is a two-year honors program that offers opportunities for independent and collaborative study and research. Students must maintain a 3.5 grade point average and complete a successful James Millikin Scholars interview to be a part of the program.

Davidson is a theater major.

Waubonsee announces class of 2009 graduates

Waubonsee Community College awarded degrees to 675 graduates at its 2009 commencement ceremony on May 28. The college’s Class of 2009 includes the following graduates:

Jo Algrim, Jessica Chapman, Amy Christoffel, Charles Cisewski, Grace Collins, Heather Dugena, Jacqueline Feldmann, Michele Fugger, Stephanie Howard, Jakob Jorgensen, Amy Martinez, Erin Masa, Sean McGrew, Brian Oko, AshleyMarie Ristick, Amanda Ritter, Ashley Ritter, Rebecca Schultz, Gregory Timpanaro and Jeanne Webster, all of Elburn.

Sally Alef, Kelly Brock, Gregory Diehl, Amanda Fabrizius, Danielle Girard, Joseph Gruber, John Haffey, Jeannette Morris and Jennifer Wells, all of Maple Park.

Also, Amanda Carson, Kelly Dixon, Adam Engelskirchen, Guillermo Gaytan, Jordan Grote, Linda Huber, Heather Jones, Kevin Klein, Sheryl Lyon, Samantha McGovern, Matthew Milligan, Laura Montelongo, Mary Ann O’Donnell, Anita Plachczynska, Tanya Reyes, Kenneth Riley, Roberta Sandberg, Bizeyda Shephard, Anthony Smith, Amanda Stotler, Nicholas Wagner, Jenna Warren, David Welch, Katherine Wellington, Sofia Zafar, Ashley Zick and Laura Zimmer, all of Sugar Grove, and Jackelyn Dorneden from Kaneville.

Aiden Ehren Pattison

John and Kari Pattison of Elburn announce the birth of their son, Aiden Ehren, on May 13, 2009, at Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva. He was 7 pounds, 10 ounces, and was 20 inches long.

Proud grandparents are Steve and Sharon Zorns of Hoopeston, Ill., and John and Nancy Pattison of Sheridan, Ill.

Chase Rigley Miller

Dennis and Regann (Rohm) Miller of Sycamore announce the birth of their son, Chase Rigley, on May 7, 2009, at Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva. He weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 20 inches long.

The proud grandparents include Glenn and Carol Rohm of Coal Valley, Ill., Gloria Rohm of Reynolds, Ill., and Rich and Nancy Miller of DeKalb. Great-grandparents are Arlene Seager of Milan, Ill., and Harold Rohm of Andalusia, Ill.

Chase was welcomed home by big sister Kylie, 2.

James Robery Haages

Jason and Jessica (Anderson) Haages of Maple Park announce the birth of their son, James Robery, on May 19, 2009, at Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva. He weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces, and was 20 inches long.

The proud grandparents are Cathy Walker of Maple Park, Jim and Sherry Anderson of Sperry, Iowa, and Debbie and Tom Konen of Sugar Grove.

James was welcomed home by big sister Joslin, 21 months.

Avery Alice Anderson

Phill and Joanna (Morris) Anderson of Maple Park announce birth of their daughter, Avery Alice, on May 21, 2009, at Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva. She weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 19 inches long.

The proud grandparents are Ronald Morris of Maple Park and John and Celeste Anderson of Batavia.

Avery was welcomed home by sister Cheyenne, 3.

Wacky Wednesdays at Sanctuary

BATAVIA—The Children’s Ministry of Sanctuary in Batavia will shift into high gear again this summer with their Wacky Wednesday program, running from July 15th through August 12th.

Kids in the 5th and 6th grade can enjoy the “crazy” festivities every Wednesday night from 7 to 8 p.m.

Each night provides a fun-filled evening with a spiritual message meant to encourage the children.

On July 15th, Karen’s Nature Tales will be on-hand for the program “Incredible Insects: There’s more to these six legged creatures than meets the eye.”

Other activities include Sergeant Drish & his explosive sniffing dog, Drum Circle with Music Matters, Wet & Wild with the Giant slip and slide, and Missionettes and Royal Ranger event to wrap up the summer.

Sanctuary is located at 1S430 Wenmoth Rd, Batavia.

Sunday morning worship begins at 9 a.m, with nursery care available for children under age four.

Children’s Church is available for children age 4 through 5th grade. Wednesday night activities begin at 7 p.m. and include Bible study for adults and teens. There are Bible clubs for children, age three through 8th grade and nursery care for children 6 months to age 3.

For additional information call (630) 879-0785 or visit

Calvary Episcopal announces VBS

BATAVIA—Calvary Episcopal Church, 222 S. Batavia Ave., invites the public to “Crocodile Dock,” its 2009 vacation bible school.

The program will run Monday through Friday, August 3-7, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Music, Bible stories, crafts and many other activities are all planned. Children from age three through those entering fifth grade in the fall are welcome to participate. Church membership is not required.

Admission to VBS is free, but each family is asked to volunteer at least one day during the week. Childcare will be provided for younger children of volunteers.

Advance registration is required by July 27. Register in person at Calvary on Sunday morning or during regular office hours, or obtain a form by calling the church office at (630) 879-3378, or downloading it from

For further information, contact Calvary Director of Christian Formation and Youth Susan Lungren at (630) 879-3378, ext. 303.

Noise level in village expected to drop in July

Directional horns at crossings will reduce train-whistle blares
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Wayside horn installation is expected to begin at Elburn’s two downtown freight train crossings Monday, June 29, village officials said.

The project is the result of village officials’ multi-year quest for a way to rid the village of train whistles.

Village trustees agreed in April 2008 to pursue the wayside horn project and later received Federal Railroad Administration approval of the safety measure allowing the village to be a whistle-free zone.

The wayside horns will direct their sound only toward the immediate area of pedestrian and vehicular traffic near the crossings. Trains still will blow their whistles if the wayside horn lights are not functioning, or if the locomotive engineer sees a safety hazard.

The village agreed in April to pay the company Railroad Controls Limited $124,125 for the horns and installation at the First Street and Main Street crossings, and then obtained Illinois Commerce Commission approval for the project with the crossings’ owner, Union Pacific railroad.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said she did not know whether vehicular traffic would be affected by the horn installation project.

Among the many safety measures village officials studied as ways to comply with federal regulations allowing for a whistle-free zone, the wayside horns was the least expensive, village officials said.

Another measure they considered was installing a center barrier of pylons at the First Street crossing, but they found the potential cost of $400,000 to be prohibitive.

Village-hired engineer will monitor horn project
The village’s Public Works Committee on Monday recommended that the village pay Hanson Engineering $7,995 to manage and monitor the wayside horn construction and installation project performed by the company Railroad Controls Limited.

The committee also reviewed the scope of the company’s role in the 10-day project and agreed that if construction takes longer than 10 days, the village should pay Hanson an additional $550 per additional day for construction monitoring.

Village officials said Hanson will provide daily construction management of work performed by RCL and its subcontractors to make sure it conforms to plans and specifications. Hanson also will monitor and witness the testing and start-up procedures with the Union Pacific (UP) railroad.

The contract with Hanson will require Village Board approval.

Psychic fair faces opposition in Elburn

Others say ‘A Day With Your Angels’ OK
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Some village residents, including a minister, are disturbed about an event that will bring psychics and mediums to the Elburn & Countryside Community Center Saturday, saying its focus is dangerous.

However, Denise Vanvliet, who is organizing the event, said “A Day With Your Angels” will be entirely positive.

“No devil worship, nothing like that,” said Vanvliet, massage therapist and owner of Intuition Institute, a community center business tenant.

“A Day With Your Angels” will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Community Center, 525 N. Main St. Vendors and exhibitors will include people offering aura readings, palm readings and Reiki mini-sessions to enhance a person’s energy flow, Vanvliet said.

Gary Augustine, pastor of the Evangelical Fellowship Church in Elburn, does not want children who might be at the community center to be exposed to “the dark side of spiritism and the demonic.” He and other church representatives have gathered together for community-wide prayer meetings since hearing about the event, and they will hold one on Friday at 8 p.m. in the Community Center gymnasium to pray for protection against the dangers they believe it will present.

On Saturday, a group of parents will be at the event representing Parents Advocating 4 Kids (PAK) to suggest with signs and literature that the community center where children congregate might not be the best place for a psychic fair, just as you might not want a shark exhibit in a water slide pool for kids, Augustine said.

The children who will be at the Community Center that day include those attending martial arts and dance classes, which are held in other areas of the building, Community Center Board member Jack Hansen said.

Hansen said he does not see anything wrong with allowing the event to take place at the Community Center, since nothing the vendors and exhibitors plan to do is illegal. The Community Center will receive a rental fee for ”A Day With Your Angels” and for the prayer meeting on Friday.

“We welcome both of these kind of events. They bring people to the community center,” Hansen said.

“Day With Your Angels” also will feature clothing and handbag vendors, and Paisano’s pizza.

Therapy pool a wish come true for Kasey

by Susan O’Neill
BIG ROCK—The majority of wishes Make-A-Wish grants are for travel, with half of these to Disney World. But when the foundation contacted the McCannon family, they decided a therapy pool would do their granddaughter the most good, and it could help others like her in the future.

Kasey Morgan McCannon was born with was originally thought to be developmental disabilities. Her grandparents, Ted and Susan McCannon, have raised her since she was a baby at their home in rural Big Rock.

Last year, however, Kasey was diagnosed with Sanfilippo Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder causing mental and physical deterioration and behavioral problems. She became nonverbal and screamed for days at a time, a symptom not uncommon with the disorder. She lost her ability to sleep, and at one point, Kasey was awake for eight days straight.

She stopped eating and the doctors surgically implanted a feeding tube to keep her alive. She was at Rush Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago for 37 days, and by that time, the McCannons were unable to care for her needs.

Kasey was 15 years old at the time. She moved into Alden Village in Bloomingdale, Ill., in June, an intermediate-care facility for developmentally disabled adolescents. She would come home on weekends to spend time with her family.

Although she did not seem to be improving, in September her family decided to bring her home. Eventually, her grandmother was able to get her to eat, and she started back at school. The thing that really seemed to make her happy was the therapy pool at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora.

Kasey started swimming when she was 18 months old. Mary Schutte, a swimming instructor with the Fox Valley Special Recreation program, had worked with her for nearly seven years. Three years ago, however, she simply stopped going into the pool.

Last fall, the family took her back to the Vaughan Center pool. When she entered the water, she began to smile and play. She has begun walking again and she is talking.

“It’s just amazing how children react to these things,” Ted said. “It’s made a big difference.”

So when the Make-A-Wish people called the McCannons to see what Kasey might want, the decision was easy.

Through Farm Friends—a nonprofit organization the McCannons created to raise money for housing for developmentally disabled adults—the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Endless Pools, a pool company in Pennsylvania, the McCannons received an oversized pool complete with hydrotherapy jets.

Set up in May, the pool will eventually become just part of the McCannons’ dream of providing housing for developmentally disabled adults on their property. In the meantime, they plan to allow other children with disabilities to use the pool for their therapy.

There is no cure for Sanfilippo Syndrome and the average life expectancy for children with the disorder is between 14 and 20 years. But for now, Kasey is prospering and progressing, something that is not supposed to happen with Sanfilippo Syndrome.

“It (the pool) has made one little girl very happy,” Ted said.

For more information about
Sanfilippo Syndrome, visit the website at

For more information about Farm Friends, visit the website at

Photo: Fox Valley Special Recreation program swimming instructor Mary Schutte works with Kasey Morgan McCannon in Kasey’s therapy pool at her grandfather Ted McCannon’s home. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Break-in is attempted at purple store

by Susan O’Neill
KANEVILLE—The peaceful environment of Kaneville was shattered on Friday morning, along with the front window at the purple store. Sometime about 3 a.m., someone took the large antique milk jug on the side of the store and broke the large pane.

“Glass was everywhere,” Hill’s Country Store owner Pat Hill said. “I had to throw all the ice cream away.”

Hill said she couldn’t tell whether the person was able to enter the store. She said it didn’t look like they took anything.

She said whoever it was cut the screen in the back of the store, in an attempt to enter there, but was prevented by bars across the door.

She ran down to the store as soon as she heard what had happened.

The Kane County Sheriffs were there within 10 minutes, Hill said.

“Three squads responded,” she said. “I was impressed.”

The officers took fingerprints off of the milk jug and are going to investigate.

“They said it looked like someone was really mad,” she said.

Hill said she doesn’t understand how someone could do what they did.

“I’m always so nice to people,” she said. “I give the kids free Slushies when I empty the machine and free pizza. I feel personally violated.”

She said the upstairs tenants heard the noise, but were too afraid to do anything. The neighbor across the street told the police she saw two figures in hoodies running down Main Street.

She said the neighborhood customers who frequent the store are upset, as well. The community has come to feel a certain ownership of the store, which has evolved into a gathering place in the middle of town.

She said one of the residents wanted to put a smiley face on the boarded-up window, with the word “Why” written on it.

Katie Holloman, who works at the store, said the incident has made her somewhat nervous. She said Hill has been sending someone to the store to be with her when she is ready to close up for the night.

Hill said she was looking into a security system and possibly a camera.

“It isn’t Mayberry anymore,” she said.

Photo: A window shattered during an attempted break-in at Hill’s Country Store in Kaneville is boarded up and awaiting replacement. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Couple gets taste of ‘reel’ life

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove residents Amy and Andrew Manion live a fairly normal life in their Prestbury neighborhood. They hold responsible jobs at Aurora University, where Andrew serves as the chief academic officer and Amy is a campus librarian.

For a few weeks this spring, however, the pair traveled back in time to the 1930s with Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and 500 other extras to shoot “Public Enemies,” a movie about the gangster John Dillinger. The movie will be in theaters on Wednesday, July 1.

Andrew and Amy enjoy swing dancing as a hobby, and saw the call for extras on a website. Although it turned out the need was for ballroom dancers, both of them were still chosen to play in the scene.

On the second day of shooting, Amy was seated at a table next to Johnny Depp’s. Although the extras were cautioned not to bother the principal actors, Amy said Depp was very gracious to her and the others.

Andrew was chosen to play in six different scenes, and had more of a chance for interaction with the popular actor.

“He was very laid back and made a point of talking to the people on the set,” Andrew said.

Each scene took days to film. The extras arrived at about 3 p.m. for make-up and hairdos, and filming began about 9 or 9:30 p.m. They would often be there for 14 or 15 hours at a time, wrapping up well after sunrise.

“We were really exhausted,” Amy said.

She said she could not believe the level of attention the producers gave to each detail. It took the hairdresser an hour to fix her hair in finger waves. The dress she wore was vintage 1930s and was tailored to fit her perfectly. The shoes were all extremely narrow, to match the style of the day.

She said by the time it was over, she was glad she did not have to dance.
At the end of the first day, someone on the set would take a picture of each table, so they could replicate it perfectly for the next day’s shooting, down to the food on each plate and how full each drink was.

Although both Amy and Andrew said it was quite an experience, neither one is planning a career change.

“I know where my talents lie,” Andrew said with a laugh.

‘U Learning

Kaneland Middle School student Allison Dunlop uses acrylics to paint a landscape she drew earlier in the Kid’s College “Paint like a Famous Artist” class at Waubonsee Community College. These and other classes geared toward young people who have completed grades four through seven are offered throughout the summer at Waubonsee’s Sugar Grove campus. Photo by Susan O’Neill

System will ‘blast’ households about important MP events

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park officials want to keep residents aware of what is happening in the village, from special events to disasters. To do that, they plan to connect households to an automated notification system this summer.

Through the automated notification system, the village will be able to send announcements to every household, by their land phones, cell phones, e-mail and phone text.

“We can do unlimited ‘blasts,’ or contacts,” Trustee Terry Borg said.

However, Borg said the village will be selective about what announcements to send via the notification system, so that households are not inundated with messages.

The service will be provided by Connect CTY, the company that Kaneland School District uses for its automated notification system.

Residents will be able to provide their contact information to the Connect CTY portal linked from the village website,

Borg looked into acquiring the service for the village after some residents were disappointed that they were not informed about the risk of residential flooding during heavy rainstorms last September.

“The village needs to be in a better communicative posture with its residents,” Borg said.

The village will pay $1.91 per household for the service annually, at a total cost of less than $1,000.

A rose by any other name …

Robin Larson of Maple Park hosted a ‘Passion for Petal Gardens: Look and Discover Workshop’ on Saturday at her home on County Line Road. Larson talked about hardy flowers, roses, arbors, roots, creating new beds and a variety of other topics useful in starting and maintaining gardens in northern Illinois. The next workshop ‘Hardy Flowers and Roses in Northern Illinois’ is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 29. Larson can be reached at (815) 762-7784. Photo by Leslie Flint

Saving lives on the rails

Community officials from area villages, including Maple Park village president Kathy Curtis and Planning Commissioner Dale Weir, boarded a special train Tuesday in Elburn, as part of Operation Lifesaver. The goal of the trip, which went all the way to Sterling, Ill., was to educate those onboard about crossing safety by giving a first-hand look at what crew members experience while traveling down the rails.
Photo by Ben Draper

The number of collisions in the
United States in 2008.

Illinois ranks No. two in the United States
in highway-rail grade crossing
collisions in 2008 with 147.
Only Texas, with 228, ranks higher.

Of those 147 collisions, 26 resulted
in fatalities—the highest in the country.

Of the 147 collisions, 60 resulted in injuries,
ranking Illinois fourth in the country.

Source: Operation Lifesaver website

Public works director wants more staff, other new expenditures

Village Board will consider requests during budget process
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board should allocate money for new public works staff, storm sewer repairs, a dump truck and a salt dome, among other expenditures when it establishes its 2009-10 budget, said Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven.

Nevenhoven presented the Public Works Committee on Monday with a list of new items he recommended the board include in the next budget.

“Everything on this list is a need, not a desire or a wish,” Nevenhoven said.
Among those needs are $100,000 for storm sewer repairs on Read, Reader, Pierce and North streets; $40,000 for a one-ton dump truck; and a dome to cover the village’s road-salt stores, Nevenhoven said.

The new 4-by-4 dump truck equipped with a salt spreader would replace two older, smaller vehicles. The salt dome would allow the village to store more salt so it would be available if market shortages occurred; in addition, the stored salt would be protected from the effects of the weather: Currently, the salt store is covered with tarps secured with tires and is not fully protected.

“It turns into a solid rock and takes a lot of effort to make it usable each year,” Nevenhoven said.

Nevenhoven also wants the village to spend $83,692 for two new laborers. The public works department has one foreman and five laborers for landscaping and for keeping up village streets, sidewalks, and sewers, which are in need of significant maintenance.

“They are working their tails off. They are doing the job very well, but they need help,” Nevenhoven said.

The Village Board will approve a new budget by the end of July. Meantime, village committees are reviewing lists of proposed new expenditures from department heads.

Another new expenditure on the public works proposed budget is $10,000 to paint and restore the Prairie Park pavilion, which trustee Gordon Dierschow said he will support.

“It’s good that we allocate money for that,” Dierschow said.

He said the 10-year old structure needs improvement.

Sycamore Speedway weekend results

Sycamore Speedway weekend results
(815) 895-5454
15 miles west of St. Charles on Route 64
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Super Late Models
Fast Time: Charlie Olson, Kingston
Trophy Dash Winner: Greg Cantrell, Jr., DeKalb.
Heat Winners Jay Brendle, Kirkland; Jeff LeSage, Burlington; Bill Perkins, Sycamore.
Semi-Feature Winners: Greg Hancock, South Elgin.
Main Feature: Bill Perkins, Sycamore; Joe Dynek, Kirkland; Jim Klingel, Kirkland.
Late Models
Fast Time: Reno Markham, Kirkland.
Trophy Dash: Mike Crowe, South Elgin.
Heat Winners: Travis Snyder, Genoa; Steven Gardner, St. Charles; Marcus Allen, Sleepy Hollow.
Semi Feature Winner: John Arndt, St. Charles.
Main Feature: Mike Crowe, South Elgin; Reno Markham, Kirkland, Marcus Allen, Sleepy Hollow.
Heat Winners: Jimmy Stephens, Richardson; Kyle Smith, St. Charles.
Feature Winners: Jimmy Stephens, Richardson; Jim Meyer, Woodstock.
Powder Puff
Heat Winner: Amy Memoli, Carol Stream.
Feature Winners: Missy Ermel, St. Charles; Amy Memoli, Carol Stream; Stacy McElliot, Union.
Compact Combat
Heat Winner: Lance Bonnell, Maple Park.
Feature Event Winners: Jerry Roach, Kingston; Lance Bonnell, Maple Park; Sycamore, Chad Askeland, Sycamore.

Cougars claim first-half crown

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars, officially at the halfway point of the 2009 regular season, will be heading to the Midwest League playoffs this September as the Western Division’s first half champion. Sunday’s 6-0 blanking of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Elfstrom Stadium punctuated the Cougars’ strong first half play as the team went 41-29 through the season’s first 70 games.

Kane County is postseason-bound for the 11th time in 19 years and the fifth time in seven seasons as an A’s affiliate. The Cougars’ first round opponent will be the Western Division second half wild card champion, and that news will likely not be solidified until late August or early September as the season’s second half winds down.

Team statistics reflect how strong of a first half the Cougars, led by manager Steve Scarsone, put together. Kane County slugged the most home runs in the league (57) while allowing the second-fewest long balls (34). Cougars pitchers also yielded 526 hits, the fewest in the league. Three Cougars are on pace for 10 or more wins in 2009, including Pedro Figueroa (7-2, 3.69), Chicago native Kenny Smalley (6-3, 2.26) and Shawn Haviland (5-3, 3.66), who pitched six strong innings in yesterday’s division-clinching victory on Father’s Day. Pitchers such as Figueroa, Smalley and Haviland have been routinely setting the table for closer Mickey Storey, who has nine saves and a 0.52 ERA while allowing only one earned run to cross home plate this season.

Offensively, the Cougars boast an impressive core of five players with 30+ RBIs, three players with 16 or more stolen bases, and a well-balanced lineup that includes four position players that started in the Midwest League All-Star Game in Clinton, Iowa. Outfielder Grant Desme, despite not being selected to the Western Division All-Star squad, leads the Cougars in home runs with 11 and in stolen bases with 24. Other notable offensive stars for the Cougars include first baseman Steve Kleen (team-high 46 RBI), third baseman Jason Christian (2nd best in RBI with 41), and shortstop Dusty Coleman (30 extra-base hits).

The Cougars commence the season’s second half June 25, opening a four-game set against the Quad Cities River Bandits in Davenport, Iowa. Fans can see the Cougars at home again beginning on June 30 when the club hosts the Peoria Chiefs, a Cubs affiliate for a four-game homestand that includes two patriotic fireworks shows on July 2 and 3.

Township workers have one less job

by Susan O’Neill
KANEVILLE—Township Supervisor Leon Gramley and Township trustee Dan Ebert are currently holding only one township position as of June 10.

In addition to their elected township board positions, Gramley had been chosen as the Kaneville Township Cemetery treasurer and Ebert as a Kaneville Township Fire District Board member by a public vote at the township’s recent annual town meeting.

However, a letter sent to the township from the State’s Attorney’s office in April stated that it had come to their attention that the men held both positions, something not allowed under state statute. Gramley said neither he nor Ebert realized there was anything wrong with holding both positions.

Since the Township Supervisor position pays $8,000 a year and the cemetery position is strictly voluntary, Gramley said choosing which one to keep was a no-brainer. Township trustees are paid about $100 a month and the Fire District positions are volunteer positions.

“Now that it’s come to our attention, it will be done correctly,” Township clerk Kim Wendling said.

The proper way to fill the two positions is through a vote by the Township Board. At its June 10 meeting, the board appointed Paul Dunaway for the Fire trustee spot. Gramley said he will continue his cemetery responsibilities until the board confirms a candidate.