Editorial: Low voter turnout is part of state’s problem

A former Illinois governor is in prison and another is likely on his way.

The state is facing an unprecedented $12 billion budget deficit, and schools and social service agencies are still waiting on word when they can legitimately expect state payments for money they are already owed.

On Feb. 2, the Illinois public had an opportunity to go to the polls and begin the process of taking their state back from the corrupt in Springfield; they had an opportunity to make their voices heard and demonstrate that it is the individual voter who actually holds the power in the state of Illinois.

And when that day came, just over 20 percent of registered voters showed up in Kane County. Statewide, estimates show that under 30 percent came out on election day.

It is hard to fathom why so few people went to the polls, when those who have been elected in prior elections have led us down this path of corruption and insolvency.

Our hope is that because the election was a primary, in which candidates run against each other in their own party, people stayed home because they chose not to align themselves fully with either party.

If that is the case, then we hold out hope that the turnout in the general election in November will be much higher.
However, if that is not the case, then we wonder what kept people home.

It is an issue that deserves consideration, because an apathetic electorate will lead to, at best, more of the same, and at worst … well, it is hard to articulate what could be worse than the mess the state is currently in.

If the level of turnout is similarly low in November, we possess just as much of the responsibility for the failures in Springfield as those who supposedly serve us there.

Letter: Why are some kids afraid to go to school?

School is a place for leaning and for kids to be comfortable and interact with their peers. So why are some kids afraid to go to school?

Bullying is a very serious problem at school, and it is often overlooked, or it has become somewhat accepted. Children pushing one another, or punching or hitting one another, can be seen throughout all grade levels in school, and we’ve accepted that kind of behavior as “just the way kids act.”

Teachers are letting more and more slip by as the years go on. Just the other day, I was walking down the hall to my locker, and as I looked up, a student threw another student into a locker, laughing the whole time, as a teacher stood by and watched.

I understand that this is not a very big sign of bullying to most people, because the two students may have been friends, but if a teacher doesn’t step in when they are “friends,” will they step in when the students aren’t? This isn’t the classic “give me your lunch money” bullying, but it is still bullying and it is still wrong.

I’m not saying teachers should suspend a kid for just horsing around—but they should confront them, let them know it is wrong, and tell them not to do it again.

As time goes on, we will end up accepting more and more of this behavior. Before you know it, full-out fights will be going on as teachers walk by, saying, “oh, kids will be kids,” and shrugging their shoulders.

School isn’t professional hockey where fights are allowed. But kids are also at fault here. Kids stand by and watch it happen, without stepping in or speaking up. Kids don’t think it’s cool to stand up for themselves or each other, because of the way they’ll be looked at, but what’s not cool is standing by and letting it happen.

Many participate in these behaviors, pushing their limits to see just how much they can get away with. They need to know it’s wrong. Teachers need to step in, and kids need to step up.

This problem won’t stop itself. Don’t just be a witness. Intervene and let your peers know that what they’re doing is wrong. Make a change.

Blake Sowell
Freshman at KHS

Letter: Sugar Grove food pantry seeks help

The Sugar Grove “Between Friends Food Pantry” would like area residents to know that they are working very hard to keep the pantry shelves stocked and they would like your help.

All non-perishable foods are gratefully accepted by the facility, but some items seem to be most popular: spaghetti sauce, pastas, pancake mix and syrup, box dinner mixes, canned fruits and vegetables, juices, breakfast cereals, baby food, sugar and flour, soups and stew.

There is always a special need for personal care and household items that food stamps cannot be used for, such as laundry detergent, dish soap, cleaners, baggies, garbage bags, diapers (infant and adult), shampoo, conditioner, soap, other toiletries, tissues, toilet paper, and feminine products.

Donated food, household products and pet food items can be dropped off at the conveniently placed drop-off boxes in the following locations during business hours: the Sugar Grove Animal Hospital, GreenAcre Cleaners, Sugar Grove Village Hall, Sugar Grove United Methodist Church, Sugar Grove Library, Castle Bank, Old Second Bank, Sugar Grove Re/Max All Pro Realty, McDole Elementary School and the Aurora Candlewood Suites.

As a member of the Northern Illinois Food Bank, the food pantry can purchase needed food items at greatly reduced rates. For example, $2 at the food bank buys eight boxes of name brand cereal.

If you would like to help the food pantry with a monetary donation, it can be made out to Between Friends Food Pantry and mailed to P.O. Box 509, Sugar Grove, IL 60554.

Diana Baker
Pantry Volunteer
Sugar Grove

Letter: Community comes together through Holiday Spirit

On behalf of the Holiday Spirit Committee, we would again like to thank this community for its overwhelming response to those in need.

As our population grows, it is especially inspiring to witness old and new neighbors coming together to help one another in a small-town way. Due to current economic conditions, the number of families who request assistance continues to increase each year. And yet, thanks to your generosity, we were able to help all who needed support: 63 Kaneland families including 132 children.

Holiday Spirit provided each family with gifts for every child and a gas gift card. It would be impossible to share with you the many additional ways our families were blessed by the outpouring of love from strangers.

For the hat and mitten trees that collected warmth for little hands and faces, and the Thanksgiving basketball camp that raised money for Holiday Spirit, we are incredibly grateful. For the civic groups, churches and classrooms who helped meet the wishes on a child’s Christmas list; we are humbled by your thoughtfulness. For the families that bought presents for a needy family instead of each other, we are inspired by your selflessness. To the groups that sponsored toy drives, stuffed stockings and looked for deals all year long, we thank you.

It is truly amazing to step back and count all the blessings we have in our community. Together, we made a real difference in the lives of hurting area families. Thank you!

Carol Alfrey
Nicole Pryor
Chairpersons
The Holiday Spirit Committee
Conley Outreach Community Services
Elburn

Letter: Thank you for your trust, 50th District residents

Public service is both a fulfilling and humbling experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent others, and am constantly reminded that there are many voices, and many choices, that enter into each decision.

Representing the 50th District means balancing the needs of over 100,000 residents at a pivotal time in Illinois history. It’s never been harder, and there’s never been more opportunity to make our state better. Thank you for your trust.

It all starts with those who participate in the election process. Every vote is important, whether given to me or another. It’s the first step toward making our state one we can be proud of again.

The primary is complete, and I think everyone won. Good ideas were fleshed out by thoughtful candidates. Every election success truly belongs to the many friends and volunteers who gave their time, talents and trust to every campaign. The patient family that continues to stick by a candidate is important. Mine is priceless.

During my first year, the state’s books were opened for public review. We cleaned up campaign loopholes and helped a lot of people live better lives. Local residents saw their ideas become legislation.

The state is turning around. It’s because so many of you took the time to participate. Keep doing it. Call our office with your ideas, (630) 553-3223, or go online to ReinventIllinois.com. Thanks again for the opportunity to serve.

Kay Hatcher
Yorkville
State Representative

Letter: Thank you voters, supporters

I would like to express just a small portion of the overwhelming gratitude I am feeling following my election as the Democratic nominee for Circuit Court Judge.

First, I’d like to thank the thousands of primary voters that have put their faith in me to represent them in the general election in November. I will not let you down.

I am not a professional politician with a half dozen campaigns under my belt, like my worthy opponent; so many aspects of the recent judicial primary came as a surprise to me. When I agreed to run for judge, I had no idea how difficult running for office could be.

I had no idea how many people would become involved, as committee members (about 50), endorsers (over 50), donors (especially given my pledge to refuse all campaign donations from lawyers), and volunteers of all types.

I did not know how humbling it would be to see so many people working so hard on my behalf, working countless hours, often in the cold, to do all the many things a successful campaign requires. It was an embarrassment of riches. My cup runneth over. I can never thank you enough.

For the next nine months I will work hard to communicate to the voters of Kane County about my qualifications and my vision of the role of a judge.

I believe the role of a judge is to be nonpartisan, to follow the law, to listen to both sides, keep an open mind until all the evidence is in, and to treat every single person that comes before you fairly, with dignity and respect.

I believe in diversity, transparency, precedent, tradition and the possibility of grace and redemption. And if I am fortunate enough to win the support of the majority of Kane County voters this fall, that’s the kind of judge I will be.

John G. Dalton
Elgin

Letter: Thank you, supporters

This letter is to thank everyone who supported me, voted for me and particularly my campaign workers.

I am proud of the campaign that we ran.

I also want to assure everyone that I have a crew out picking up signs. I am told that the ground may be frozen and it may be difficult to get the signs out. The sign pick-up will be a continuing effort, and we will get them out as soon as we are able.

Fred M. Morelli, Jr.
Aurora

Letter: It was a privilege to run to represent you

Every election offers each of us the unique opportunity to directly participate in what makes America so special: that we have government of the people, by the people, for the people. Each citizen has the right to make their voice heard at the ballot box in order to choose their representation for the next two or four or six years, depending on the office.

It was a great privilege to have my name placed on the ballot, but it was far more rewarding to meet so many great people and families—the hearts of our communities—along the campaign trail. The outpouring of support from so many different corners of the district was especially humbling. I am grateful for so many of you who took the time to listen to the purpose of the Wheeler campaign, and it was particularly beneficial to me that you shared so many personal stories and ideas to improve state government in Illinois.

Finally, to those of you who offered and gave of your time, talent, and treasure to support the Wheeler campaign for State Representative for the 50th District, I want to publicly thank you for building a truly effective grassroots campaign which actually received the most votes in both Kendall and LaSalle counties. You are my heroes, and I continue to be inspired by your passion and commitment to better government through conservative principles.

Thank you again.

Keith R. Wheeler
Oswego

Letter: Open letter to our legislators

To all our south Kane County and neighboring legislators:
First of all, thank you for your elected service on behalf of the residents of our area. Yours is a difficult position.

After the primary elections, it will be time to address, in collaboration with all your peers of both parties, our current economic crisis in the state, as a whole, and specifically in state-funded human services. It is absolutely critical that politics be set aside in favor of resolving the state’s budget problems as soon as possible. If something isn’t done soon, the problem will only become worse.

As I expressed to several of you at a recent NMAI meeting, you may not have been around long enough to be completely responsible for the current fiscal problems, but is is your job to resolve it. I ask you to personally urge your leadership to work across party lines to come to a resolution to the fiscal crisis. Do whatever you need to do, because everyone, not just the legislative leaders, will be held responsible when services can no longer be delivered.

It is patently unfair, unjust, and just bad business for providers of state-funded services to have to wait anywhere from 30 to 120 days or more for payment from the state for no other reason than the checkbook is empty. These agencies are having to borrow funds (with interest fees that will never be reimbursed) in order to meet payroll. The agencies that have contracted with you, in good faith, are floating the state’s checkbook. This is an embarrassment. Providers need to be paid on time. Period. End of story.

Finally, your constituents whose family members receive state-funded services deserve to know if these services will continue or not. The current budget does not begin to address the 16,000 Illinois residents who are on the waiting list for developmental disability services. Or the needs of the parents of an adult child with a mental health crisis who has to be treated in a hospital ER for 24 hours because Illinois and DMH decided that they could no longer fund the CHIPS program to stabilize mentally fragile citizens.

The fact of the matter is Illinois ranks last (or near last) in state-funded community-based services for those Illinois citizens with developmental disabilities or mental illness. We, as a state, and you, as leaders of this state, should find this embarrassing. I personally know residents who have moved their children out of state to get adequate services for their kids. This should not be necessary.

Other than relocating to another state, the individual resident has no way to solve these problems. You and your leaders are the only ones who can. We are all counting on you to get the job done so that people are served and providers are paid. I’m looking forward hopefully to a productive legislative session this spring. I would be really proud if our local legislators would take the lead with concrete proposals to resolve the crisis.

Again, thank you for your service. Yours is not an easy job, but I don’t expect you thought it would be when you were elected. But it’s time to get it done.

Jerry J. Murphy
Executive Director
Mental Health & Mental
Retardation Services, Inc.

Mr. Kaneland this Friday

From Kaneland.org
Photo: The Mr. Kaneland 2010 Court includes Jemmar Parrenas, Michael Caballero, Logan Markuson, Ben Tennant, Stuart Hopkins, Edgar Valle, Nick Sinon, Trevor Holm and Joe Herzer.

It’s Mr. Kaneland time! The boys have been hard at work learning some awesome dance numbers and preparing their talents. The event takes place on Friday, February 12 at 7:00 pm in the Auditorium. Admission is only $5.00. All proceeds from the Mr. Kaneland Event go back into our community by helping to support the Delnor Center for Breast Health. Tickets for Mr. Kaneland will be available during lunches all week in the cafeteria and at the event itself.

AID plans to use backyard sport to raise funds

Elgin—Cornhole, bags, baggo; whatever you may call it, there is no denying that it is rapidly becoming one of the most popular recreational sports to come out in the last decade. It’s a sport where anyone can win, regardless of size or strength.

The Association for Individual Development (AID) will host the 2010 “Battle of the Bags” Cornhole Tournament Saturday, Feb. 20, at its Elgin Training Center located at 1135 Bowes Road, Elgin. Registration for the tournament will start at 1 p.m. and last until the tournament starts at 2 p.m.

There is an entry fee of $40 per team or $20 for individual players, who will be placed randomly with partners at the end of the registration. The winning team will take home $200. Second- and third-place teams will also get prizes. Each team is guaranteed to play at least two games.

Food will be served throughout the event. There will also be 50/50 raffles held throughout the day. Affordable sponsorship opportunities are being offered.

All proceeds from this event go to benefit the more than 20 programs that AID offers to people with developmental disabilities, mental illness or those in need of crisis intervention services. AID is a nonprofit, community-based organization that serves over 5,100 individuals throughout Kane, Kendall, DeKalb, DuPage, suburban Cook and Will counties. For more information, call (847) 931-2291 or visit www.the-association.org.

Earthquake shakes the area

Updated Feb. 11, 2010 at 10:53 a.m.
by Martha Quetsch
Brad Hruza of Elburn said that the 4 a.m. earthquake Wednesday was a rude awakening.

“The house didn’t just shake, it felt like it was swaying in the wind,” Hruza told The Elburn Herald. “It lasted about 10 seconds, and I thought I was dreaming until I realized everyone in the house woke up.”

Hruza said some things were falling off shelves and his computer desk.

“It was scary for a bit there,” Hruza said.

Lights in the houses in his neighborhood immediately began going on, as the earthquake woke residents. By 4:10, Hruza was on the U.S. Geographical Survey website, which already had confirmed an earthquake had occurred just before 4 a.m. in northern Illinois.

The USGS first reported that the earthquake had a magnitude of 4.3, but later in the morning stated that the magnitude actually was 3.8.

The USGS estimated that nearly 11 million people felt “a light shaking” during the quake.

Maple Park Police Chief Michael Acosta was abruptly awakened in his Sugar Grove home at about 4 a.m. by the earthquake. He said he heard a loud thunder and crumbling sound and first thought that a car had rammed into his house.

“It felt like the whole east-side walls had moved,” Acosta said.

Acosta said some Maple Park residents initially thought that a train had derailed in the village. No one reported any property damage or injury from the earthquake.

The epicenter originally was reported in Sycamore, Ill., but later in the morning the USGS reported it to be just south of Pingree Grove, Ill. The epicenter’s depth was about three miles.

Elburn and Countryside Fire Department received several calls from residents about the earthquake, but no reports of damage or injury.

Ben Draper contributed to this article.

U.S. Geological Survey links:
Home >>
“Did you feel it?” report >>
Event website >>
Google map of epicenter:

View Larger Map

IIlinois quakes
The largest Illinois earthquake ever recorded was on Nov. 9, 1968, in southern Illinois, measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake downed chimneys, cracked plaster, broke windows and overturned tombstones.

Earthquakes occur when an abrupt easing of strain occurs on a geologic fault, causing movement on the earth’s surface. The most common measure of the size of an earthquake is its magnitude-a measure of the amount of energy it releases within the earth.

Earthquakes with a magnitude of 3 to 4 occur about once a year in Illinois. Larger earthquakes are more rare in the state, approximately once in four years for a quake with a magnitude of 4 to 5 and once in 20 years for one with a magnitude of 5-6.
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

TriCity Family Services to present ‘Parenting Difficult Adolescents’

Kane County—Join TriCity Family Services for a Parent Support & Education Series presentation. “Parenting Difficult Adolescents” will be presented on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the TriCity Family Services offices, located at 1120 Randall Court, Geneva.

Advance registration is preferred. Call Tri-City Family Services to register at (630) 232-1070. Entrance fee is $5 per attendee.

Senior citizens reminded about tax deferral program

Kane County—Real Estate Tax Deferral applications are available through the Kane County Treasurer’s Office. This program permits qualified senior citizens to defer all or a portion of their real estate taxes.

Once completed, these forms should be returned to the Kane County Treasurer’s Office on or before March 1.

To qualify, a Senior Citizen must:
• Be 65 or older by June 1, 2010
• Have a total household income of $50,000 or less
• Have lived on the property for at least three years
• Not owe any delinquent property taxes
• Have homeowners insurance.

If you have a mortgage, you should also submit proof that your agreement allows you to participate in the Senior Tax Deferral Program.

Forms may be picked up at the Treasurer’s Office located at 719 Batavia Avenue, Building (A), in Geneva or they may be obtained by mail. People needing assistance or advice may contact Della Winckler at the Treasurer’s Office at (630) 232-3565.

Ladies Night Out to benefit Mutual Ground

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—More than 25 vendors invite potential customers to enjoy an evening of appetizers, wine-tasting, massages and more at the Bliss Creek Golf Club on Thursday, Feb. 11, while contributing to a good cause. According to Sugar Grove resident and Tastefully Simple home-based vendor Audrey Ritchie, a majority of the vendors participating have agreed to contribute a percentage of the evening’s revenues to Mutual Ground, an organization located in Aurora that provides shelter and support to abused women and children.

Ritchie said she hopes to raise at least $1,500 during the free entry evening for Mutual Ground. Last year, Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn cut state funding to domestic violence programs by 10 percent and to sexual abuse programs by 20 percent. The impact to Mutual Ground was a decrease in funding from the state of $90,000 out of $725,000 it receives from the state.

Mutual Ground Executive Director Linda Healy said that in these tough economic times, it is wonderful to see someone from the community take on a fundraising effort of the size and scope that Ritchie is doing.

“We’re excited and pleased,” she said. “She’s really done such a marvelous job, especially with marketing of the event.”

Mutual Ground stats

Mutual Ground provided
more than 20,000 hours of
counseling and almost
12,000 nights of shelter
to more than
1,700 clients in 2009

“Love is in the Air Ladies Night Out”
fundraiser
Bliss Creek Golf Club
Open Range Southwest Grill
1 Golf View Lane, Sugar Grove
Thursday, Feb. 11
5:30-9:30 p.m.
To raise funds for Mutual Ground

For more information:
Call (630) 363-2113 or e-mail
athomewithaud@mchsi.com

—————————————

Domestic violence
and sexual abuse statistics

• One-half of all married women in the
United States are physically abused at
some time in their marriage
• A woman is beaten every 10 seconds
• One in 10 teenagers will be involved in a
violent dating relationship before
graduating high school
• Abused women comprise 20 percent of
all women presenting injuries at hospital
emergency rooms
• Battering often occurs during pregnancy
• Domestic violence cuts across all
socioeconomic backgrounds regardless
of race, religion, or level of education
• A woman is raped every five minutes
• One-third of all rapes occur in a
woman’s home
• One-third of Mutual Ground’s sexual
assault program clients are children
between the ages of 3-13
• Only 7 percent of sexually abused
women report a rape, making the actual
number as high as 2 million per year in
the U.S.
Source: Mutual Ground website, www.mutualgroundinc.com.

KHS announces students of the term

Kaneland—The Kaneland High School (KHS) administration and staff announced that the following students were named students of the term for the second term in the 2009-10 school year: Elizabeth Smith, CTE (Business); Elizabeth Kennedy, CTE (Orientation to Family Consumer Science); Jessica Corbett, English; Stephanie E. Lanute, Fine Arts (Chorus/Band); Danielle Anderson, Fine Arts (Foreign Language); Anthony Sperando, Math; Thomas Whittaker, Physical Education/Health; Francesco Cimmarrusti, Science; Lauren E. Allen, Social Studies and Mariella Zavala, Student Services/Special Education.

The goal of the program is to recognize KHS students who exemplify the type of effort, commitment, character and leadership qualities and academic effort, including achievement, improvement and contributions, that are desired of all Kaneland students.

MP man pleads guilty in Elburn teen’s death

Updated Feb. 11, 2010
Kane County—A Maple Park man has pleaded guilty to providing heroin to an Elburn man who later was found dead in a Chicago alley, as well as assaulting a corrections officer at the Kane County jail.

Nathan L. Green, 23, of the 20900 block of Oak Lane, Maple Park, agreed with the Kane County State’s Attorney to a sentence of four years in the Illinois Department of Corrections in exchange for a guilty plea to one count of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, a Class 2 felony, and one count of aggravated assault, a Class 4 felony.

The sentence breaks down as three years in prison for the heroin delivery charge and one year for the assault charge. The sentences are to be served consecutively.

Associate Judge Allen M. Anderson accepted the plea.

On Dec. 15, 2007, Green, co-defendants Jordan D. Billek, 19, of the 8N block of Grand Arbor Lane, Maple Park, and Lindsey Parker, 24, of the 4000 block of Royal Fox Drive, St. Charles, and 17-year-old Michael York of Elburn were together in Parker’s St. Charles residence. Green delivered an amount of heroin to York, which he ingested. York became seriously ill after ingesting the heroin, and his dead body was found the next day in an alley on the west side of Chicago. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of York’s death as undetermined.

Because authorities were unable to determine the cause of York’s death, no one was charged with his death.

On Nov. 4, 2009, while in the custody of the Kane County Adult Justice Center, Green assaulted a Kane County corrections officer who was engaged in the execution of his official duties.

During sentencing, Judge Anderson told Green that, “What brought you here today was your callousness and disregard for the world around you. It is my hope that you are different when you come out of prison. You haven’t done well so far.”

By law, Green was given day-for-day sentencing. He was given credit for 94 days served in the Kane County jail while being held on the assault charge, and credit for 381 days served in the Kane County jail while being held on the heroin delivery charge.

“More than two years after his death, I am pleased that we finally can start to bring justice to Michael York, and start to give closure to Michael’s mother and two sisters,” said Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly M. Orland, who prosecuted the case.

Billek and Parker each are charged with one count of obstructing justice, a Class 4 felony. The cases are pending. The next court appearance for each is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 4, in Courtroom 311.

The charges against Billek and Parker are not proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

5th graders lift their hands up for Haiti

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—The world just got a little bigger for four fifth-grade girls at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School. Sammy Kowalczyk, Erica Witt, Kayley Bilotta and Samantha Healy have taken on the challenge of collecting basic needed items for the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti.

Chosen for their leadership skills, the girls have made posters, flyers, letters to go home with students and a PowerPoint presentation to encourage their classmates and teachers to donate items such as soap, washcloths, toothbrushes and toothpaste to send to families in Haiti.

They even came up with a slogan for the project, calling it “Hands Up for Haiti.”

School social worker Nicole Pryor, who has been guiding the girls in their project, said they have done much of the work themselves, making decisions and creating the communication to their fellow students.

“It’s been interesting to see them learn how to work together,” Pryor said.

In addition to hygiene and first aid items, the girls decided that collecting sandals and flip flops was important. Healy said that because the buildings were not well-constructed, many of them crumbled and collapsed in the earthquake. She said the footwear will keep the Haitian people from stepping on nails and other debris, and injuring their feet.

Witt said she searched the Internet for trustworthy charities to work with, such as the American Red Cross, Americares and Unicef. The girls wrote a business proposal to FedEx to obtain funding to ship the items.

Then they found a partner in their own hometown. The Sugar Grove United Methodist Church has had a mission in Haiti for years and has the means to transport the items where they are needed most.

The Rev. Steve Good said the people in Haiti will be glad to receive the items the girls are collecting.

When you’ve lost everything, taking care of your personal hygiene helps you to feel better about yourself, he said.

“Haitians are similar to us in this way,” he said. “Being able to brush their teeth and take care of their personal hygiene will lift their spirits as well as their bodies. These items will help them regain some sense of personal dignity.”

Good and his church have a special place in their hearts for the people of Haiti. Good, who lived in Haiti for several months when he was in college, developed a relationship of mission with Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince. Church members have gone to the hospital several times with mission teams.

The Sugar Grove church and other Methodist churches work through local Haitian ministries to support feeding programs, clean water projects, provide school supplies and distribute health care kits.

In addition to collecting money to help with the disaster, the Sugar Grove church is conducting a collection of personal care items to send to Haiti through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), an organization which has provided outreach worldwide for more than 70 years.

Church members will transport these items, including those that are collected through John Shields, to the UMCOR warehouse in Chatham, Ill. From there, they will be shipped to Haiti.

Good said he is glad to see the children at the school become involved in the project.

“Children can relate to other children,” he said. “They know what they’re afraid of; they know what they love to do.”

He hopes the students will develop a connection and a world view through this project that they will carry with them into the future.

Pryor hopes that for them, as well.

“I love to see kids get involved with something bigger than themselves,” she said.

Want to help?
One-gallon re-sealable plastic bags,
hand towels, washcloths, combs,
fingernail clippers, bath-size bars
of soap, toothbrushes,
sterile bandages and toothpaste.

Financial donations may be sent, with checks payable to
“Sugar Grove UMC”
(designating Haiti Relief in the memo)
Kaneland John Shields
Elementary School
85 S. Main Street, Sugar Grove
or
SG United Methodist Church
176 Main Street, Sugar Grove

Checks may be mailed to
SG United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 226
Sugar Grove, IL 60554

Items will be accepted at the school through Friday, Feb. 12.
Call Nicole Pryor at (630) 466-8500
or
Rev. Steve Good at (630) 466-4501
visit the church’s website at
www.sgumc.net.

For more information about UMCOR, visit the website at www.umcorhaiti.org
or www.intlchildcare.org
for relief efforts through
Grace Children’s Hospital in
Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Citizens voice concerns over cuts

by Susan O’Neill
Kaneland—There’s no question about it—Kaneland’s proposed cuts are not making anyone happy.

Kaneland’s Citizens Advisory Committee members, mostly parents, told the administration their concerns during a meeting held at the high school last Thursday. Some, like Mark Weintraub and Monica Kellen, voiced strong opposition to the idea of larger classroom sizes.

Kellen, whose child will soon start kindergarten, said she is opposed to classrooms with 30 students in them, which would be the result of cutting an additional one to two teachers at the elementary school level.

“I can’t imagine what kind of learning environment that would be,” she said.

Some members, such as Patrick Crimmins and Weintraub, said they were opposed to cutting gifted teachers and folding the gifted program into the response to intervention program.

Other members focused on the proposed cuts to the various activities and clubs. Some, such as George Silfugarian, suggested that, rather than cut some of the sports activities, parents be asked to pay higher fees.

He said that in looking at other options for his children in the community, he found fees in other leagues of about $350. With Kaneland’s fees currently at $100, his suggestion was to raise them to $300.

“I’d just as soon have them play at Kaneland,” he said.

Suzanne Fahnestock told the administrative panel that she gets upset when she looks at activities, such as band for the fifth graders or the outdoor education trips to Loredo Taft, being cut.

She said that before the children have to miss out on these and other valuable opportunities in the areas of fine arts, music and sports, she would like to see salary cuts and more position cuts looked at more seriously.

“At the last referendum, I encouraged others to vote yes,” she said. “My sons are not going to benefit from the referendum I voted for.”

Some individuals asked if more administrative positions could be cut instead. Several mentioned salary freezes as a way out. Although the teachers’ salaries are part of a negotiated contract, freezing the wages of non-union employees would realize a savings of $175,000.

Silfugarian said that wage freezes of the non-union employees could serve to put pressure on the teachers to offer to do the same.

“Many of our taxpayers are in that same position,” he said, referring to district residents who have either experienced pay cuts or who have lost their jobs altogether.

In the meantime, the Kaneland Educators Association has said that the membership will take a vote on Friday on whether or not to re-negotiate the salary increases for next year (see related story).

Silfugarian and others suggested that the schools could ask parents to help out with more activities, rather than to eliminate them.

“Perhaps more of the parents are willing to help out so some of these activities don’t get cut,” he said.

Bev Taylor, a committee member who is also a teacher in another district, said she appreciated everything that had been said and she knows how tough the situation is.

However, she said she would not want to do anything that would cause teachers to want to leave the district.

“One of our goals in our strategic plan is to attract and keep our quality teachers,” she said. “I want to be careful about that. I’ve been here when we got good teachers, and they left after a year. That hurt us. I don’t want to lose the best.”

Taylor said she would much rather see a salary freeze than cuts in positions.

“There’s people behind those positions,” she said. “There’s families behind those positions. It’s a balancing act—fifth grade band versus freezing or making cuts. We are going to make difficult decisions.”

Church mobilizes for Haiti relief

Lord of Life collection brings in 10,000 items
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Matt Gerke, 13, did a lot of heavy lifting at Lord of Life Church in Elburn last weekend during a massive relief collection for Haiti.

But Matt was more than willing to expend the energy because he found the cause worthy.

“I feel really bad for the people there,” he said. “They were already the poorest country in the world, and then they have an earthquake.”

The Elburn teenager spent Friday through Sunday at the church, with other volunteers helping with the collection. Matt’s job was as a mover, he said, stacking pallets with 70 boxes of relief supplies each.

Lord of Life’s 11-day collection brought in more than 10,000 items from the congregation, as well as other churches and residents. During the project, volunteers sorted and boxed donated supplies, including jars of peanut butter, bags of rice and beans, first-aid ointment, blankets, toothbrushes, tools and more.

Matt said he was impressed by the quantity of donated items, including 1,000 bars of soap from just one individual.

“It’s an awful lot of stuff,” Matt said.

Lord of Life was one of about 20 churches serving as Haiti relief collection sites for Lutheran Church Charities. After the churches take their collected supplies to a warehouse this week in Itasca, they will go by truck to Florida, where they will be sent by ship to Haiti, said collection volunteer and Lord of Life member Kathy Geiger of Elburn.

Lord of Life congregation also collected more than $3,000 since the earthquake to support humanitarian efforts in disaster-torn Haiti.

The monetary donations and supplies will be distributed through Lutheran Church- Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s World Relief/Human Care networks in Haiti.

Photo: Justin Bristle packed up canned goods for shipment to Haiti on Sunday at Lord of life Church in Elburn. He was among the many volunteers who helped with the 110-day collection at the church for Lutheran Church Charities’ Haiti relief drive for supplies needed by people in the earthquake-ravaged country. Photo by Martha Quetsch

Officials praise new chief for first month on job

Acosta making improvements to department
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park’s new police chief, Michael Acosta, spent much of his time during his first month of employment making initial improvements to help him do his job.

“There are a lot of things the Police Department is behind on,” Acosta told the Village Board Tuesday.

Acosta said the department did not have basic fingerprinting equipment.

“They (previous Maple Park Police Department leaders) were under the assumption that the county would do fingerprinting (if needed),” Acosta said.

Nor did the department have a police interview room, which Acosta is going to establish.

Acosta already has prepared a “very thorough budget” of proposals for the Police Department, Village President Kathy Curtis said.

“I am impressed,” Curtis said.

Acosta and his officers also have cleaned out the community room to prepare for events such as resident forums, officers reading with children, and puppet shows to foster a positive image of police.

Since taking office Jan. 6, Acosta also has spent many afternoons driving through town, stopping to talk to local business owners and residents to encourage them to feel free to talk with him about any concerns they might have.

In the future, he will have more time to patrol, he said.

“Right now I am doing other things, like pulling out carpet and throwing things away,” Acosta said.

Trustee Mark Delaney said it is apparent that Acosta also is beginning to improve policing in the village.

“It’s nice to see the officers near the bus stops and stop signs early in the morning … it’s a nice change,” Delaney said.

Acosta worked with the Kane County Sheriff’s Department for more than 30 years, serving as Commander of Administration, and Commander of Kane County Major Crimes Task Force.

Before hiring Acosta, Maple Park had not had an officer in charge since officer Chuck Slater’s resignation in September.

Developer postpones building 469-home subdivision

Economy cited as reason
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—A developer has put plans on hold for a 469-home development in Maple Park because of the downturn in the residential housing market.

The developer, John Clare Ltd. of Naperville, had expected to begin building the subdivision in 2009 at County Line Road and Route 38. The village approved the Naperville company’s development plan more than a year ago.

“It was right before the economy crashed,” said Shari Neeley, John Clare Ltd. vice president.

The planned subdivision is called The Weydert Farm, after the property’s original owner. Neeley said she is uncertain when the company will be able to start construction on the 200-acre parcel, but it will not be until the housing market improves.

The Maple Park Village Board on Tuesday granted the company a five-year extension of the planned unit development ordinance that the board passed in 2008, to allow for the development within 18 months. With the extension, John Clare Ltd. will not have to repeat the village review and approval process and may begin building anytime within the next five years.

Without the PUD extension, the commercial portion of the development could not have proceeded. That part of the project is being developed by Steven Glasgow, who purchased 18 acres from John Clare Ltd. last year on the same corner, for retail businesses and a restaurant.

Village officials recently said they were pleased with the plan for The Maples. Before the project can move forward, however, the developer will need to extend the existing sanitary sewer located in County Line Road to their site, Village Engineer Jim Sparber said.

Neeley said when the The Maples commercial site is built, it could have a positive effect on the development’s residential sales in the future.

“Any sign of life is good,” Neeley said.

Editorial: Teachers should consider reality and renegotiate

With the Kaneland School District facing an approximate $2.6 million deficit for the 2010-11 school year, the list of potential cuts do not appear to be gathering much in the way of consensus.

The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) met last week and expressed concern with much of the impacts of the proposed cuts—ranging from increased class sizes to reduced athletic and academic activities.

All the concerns we have seen are legitimate reasons to worry, but are also referring to legitimate potential cuts.

The reason all possible cuts should remain on the table for now? The $2.6 million deficit is not going to go away by merely cutting a few non-teaching positions, instituting occasional unpaid days off for staff or increasing parent/student fees.

Currently, the district is contractually obligated to pay salary increases to the Kaneland teachers union, the Kaneland Education Association (KEA). That increase represents $1.2 million of the total deficit. Add in currently slated increases to non-KEA school employees, the figure represents $1.5 million of the $2.6 million deficit.

The KEA will vote on Friday on whether or not to renegotiate the salary increases. These are the same salary increases the KEA nearly went to strike over in October 2008.

Given the fact that the general economy is struggling, unemployment is above 10 percent, and the scheduled raises account for more than half of the budget deficit; we hope the KEA makes the right decision on Friday.

This is not suggesting that teachers have their salaries cut; this is saying that foregoing a raise for teachers and non-union staff will eliminate more than half of the budget deficit.

Then, the district should look at the salaries of all administrators and every single additional staff person, and see what can be subtracted from the deficit.

At that point, the scale of the deficit will be much smaller, and some of the potential cuts causing legitimate concerns can begin to be taken off the table.

It is understandable that the KEA would be hesitant to renegotiate a salary increase they are contractually guaranteed to receive. However, we urge the KEA membership to consider that if they went to the vast majority of private sector employees and asked how they would feel about being guaranteed to make the same salary next year as this year, we are certain the response would be an emphatic sense of relief.

In the context of the economy and the budget challenges facing virtually every home, every business and every unit of government, we do not see how the KEA can fail to agree that it is in the best interests of everyone that they help to do their part in eliminating more than half of the district’s budget deficit next year.

Before the items that will impact students’ educational opportunities come into play, every Kaneland School District employee—unionized or otherwise—needs to look at their employment situation in relation to the situations faced by the families of those they educate. With that adjustment in perspective, we would like to believe that every possible cut that avoids damaging the educational opportunities extended to students will be made.

Board approves 2010 capital projects

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Jan. 25 approved $3 million worth of capital projects for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, including repairs on the high school roof, paving work and a number of life-safety-related projects. The projects will be paid for with part of the money left over from the $65 million building referendum passed in February 2008.

The repairs on the roof, paving work at the high school, Kaneland John Shields and Kaneland John Stewart Elementary schools, and half of the repair and renovation life-safety projects at John Shields, John Stewart, the high school and Kaneland Middle School will be completed this summer. The remaining life safety work will be done during the next school year.

The board approved hiring Nicholas & Associates as the construction manager for the life safety projects. The cost for this service is 5.5 percent of the project cost, for a total of approximately $25,000.

Nicholas & Associates has served as the general contractor for a number of the School District’s projects, including Harter Middle School and the addition and renovation of Kaneland High School.

The administration will seek public bids on the work as soon as possible. The district is currently working with Engineering Enterprises, Inc. in preparing bids for the Esker Drive road extension project at the Harter Middle School. This project will be completed this summer, as well.

The three main projects supported by the referendum funding; Harter Middle School, Kaneland Middle School and the addition at Blackberry Creek Elementary School, are close to completion.

The board will consider a recommendation for an athletic and maintenance storage facility to be housed at Kaneland Harter Middle School. The cost of this facility is estimated at $1.1 million.

Village officials: New employee handbook a must

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The first draft of a new employee manual, a priority project for the village, is nearly finished. The manual will reflect workplace legislation and village policies that were established since the current handbook was created 17 years ago, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

Trustee Jeff Walter said he pushed for the re-write of the employee manual since coming into office in April.

“I want to make sure our manual is up to date and in sync with current human resource trends and regulations,” Walter said. “I also want to ensure that we correctly define which employees are exempt (from certain wage and hour laws, i.e. overtime pay) and that the manual outlines appropriate policies for those considered exempt (management).”

Some of the other sections of the handbook that need updating relate to safety rules, computer and Internet policies, harassment policies, military leave information and jury duty, Willrett said.

The manual will encompass all village departments including police. The village has approximately 23 full-time employees and 16 part-time employees, all of whom must abide by the manual, Willrett said.

The employee handbook will be entirely new.

“We’re not just blacklining the old employee manual,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

The village is paying a consultant, Aurora-based Sikich, $6,000 to create the new employee handbook.

Sikich also will train village department supervisors about how to use the manual properly and how to proceed when an employee has a workplace concern.

During last year’s 2009-10 budget discussions, Village officials indicated that they wanted the manual to be a priority, Willrett said.

Fifth Third Bancorp donates $100,000 for Haiti relief

Elburn—Fifth Third Bancorp announced a donation of $100,000 to aid the American Red Cross International Response Fund.

The funds will go to assist Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Haiti, after reports of more than 3 million people have been affected by the devastating earthquake that hit the country January 12.

To further assist in these relief efforts, Fifth Third Financial Centers in Northwest Illinois will donate $25 to the American Red Cross for each new checking account opened ($100 minimum). These funds will be distributed as part of the Fifth Third Bank Community Matters Program. Contact Sandy Brizzolara or Chris Bowling at the Elburn Fifth Third Bank for more information or call (630) 365-9292.

KHS sophomores support the troops

Kaneland—The Kaneland High School sophomore student council members are sponsoring a school and community-wide Valentine’s “Send the Love and Supplies” program to support US troops.

The council members are asking all students in all grades to collect items to ship to various military bases.

The group is specifically seeking the following items: peanut butter and jelly; individual packages of mayonnaise; crackers; antacids; unscented wipes; foot powder; shaving cream and lotion and mouthwash.

To donate items, drop them off at Kaneland High School, 47W326 Meredith Road, Maple Park. Please label all bags for the sophomore student council supply drive.

Bornemann named to Ripon College dean’s list

Andrea Bornemann of Sugar Grove was named to Ripon College’s fall 2009 semester dean’s list, which recognizes academic excellence.

She is a senior at Ripon, majoring in educational studies and history. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jefferey A. Bornemann, Sugar Grove.

To qualify for the dean’s list at Ripon College, students must achieve a 3.40 grade point average or higher on a 4.00 scale and complete at least 12 credits of regular letter-graded work.

Bradley University announces dean’s list

The following area students, Jessica Lund, Kyle Prusinski and Daniel Taylor, all of Elburn, and Joseph Gruber of Maple Park, have received recognition on the dean’s list for the Fall 2009 semester at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill.

To be eligible for the dean’s list, a student must achieve a minimum 3.5 gradepoint average for the semester on a 4.0 scale.

Millikin University announces 2009-10 choir members

Rebecca Hof of Elburn is among the 53 Millikin University students named to the university’s 2009-10 choir.

The University Choir is one of five primary choral ensembles involving over 300 students. Choir members are chosen after highly competitive auditions among the student body and represent a variety of majors.

The choir has an extensive touring history, including performances in Scandinavia, Russia, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, England, China and Taiwan. The choir started its annual winter tour on Jan. 7, with performances in Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Indiana and Missouri.

Davis, Leuze to wed

Martin Davis of Carpentersville, Ill., announces the engagement of his daughter, Breanna Davis, to James Leuze, the son of Marilyn and Joseph Leuze of Glendale Heights, Ill.

The bride-to-be is a 1999 graduate of Kaneland High School, and received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Bride College at the University of Phoenix in 1999, and is scheduled to receive an MBA from Benedictine University in 2011.
She is employed by the Northwoods Coalition in Bemidji, Minn., as the Executive Director.

The future groom is a 1999 graduate of Glenbard North High School and the College of DuPage. He is employed by Blue Water Outdoors in Bemidji, Minn., as a manager.

The wedding ceremony will be Aug. 21, 2010, at the Illinois Beach State Park and Resort. They plan to honeymoon at Paradise Island, Bahamas, and in Washington.