Former youth center guard pleads guilty to fatal DUI crash

Kane County—A former state corrections officer pleaded guilty Sept. 23 for his role in a 2008 fatal two-vehicle crash that occurred while he was on his way to work.

Reginald Hearon, 50, of the 3500 block of Boyer Lane, Plano, Ill., pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated DUI, a Class 2 felony, and one count of reckless homicide, a Class 3 felony.

Associate Judge T. Jordan Gallagher set Hearon’s next court appearance for Oct. 8 in Courtroom 305 for status, and Hearon’s sentencing date for Nov. 17 in Courtroom 305. Hearon faces a sentence of probation or between three and 14 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

At about 5:30 a.m. Oct. 2, 2008, Hearon was driving a 1997 Ford Econoline van east on Fabyan Parkway in Blackberry Township when he attempted to pass vehicles in a posted no-passing zone, a two-lane stretch between Hughes Road and Main Street. Hearon’s eastbound van entered the lane for westbound traffic and struck head-on a 2005 Chevy Trailblazer driven by 53-year-old Craig Smith of St. Charles. The Blazer was westbound on Fabyan Parkway. Smith died at the scene. 

A subsequent blood test revealed that Hearon’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.069, as well as the presence of codeine and morphine. A reconstruction of the crash determined that Hearon’s van was traveling at least 55 mph in a 45-mph zone at the time the van’s brakes were depressed. The van skidded 92 feet before it struck Smith’s Trailblazer.

The guilty plea was based on the charge that Hearon was under the influence of alcohol, having consumed any amount of alcohol prior to driving a motor vehicle.

At the time of the crash, Hearon worked as a guard at the Illinois Youth Center at St. Charles. Hearon no longer works for the IYC facility.

Hearon remains free on $7,000 bond.

Geneva man sent to prison for third DUI conviction

Offender has extensive history of criminal acts
Geneva—A Geneva man with an extensive criminal history has been sent to prison for his third DUI, which he acquired with two minors in the car.

James E. Hughes, 44, of the 100 block of Kane Street, Geneva, was sentenced by Associate Judge Allen M. Anderson to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Hughes, who waived his right to a jury trial, was convicted Aug. 4 by Anderson of two counts of aggravated DUI, each a Class 2 felony, and one count of driving on a suspended/revoked license, a Class 4 felony.

At about 1:30 a.m. May 23, 2009, Geneva police officers were conducting a traffic stop in the vicinity of East State Street (Route 38) and Briar Lane, when they observed Hughes drive his vehicle onto the curb. Officers pursued Hughes a short distance east on East State Street and stopped him. The officers reported that Hughes’ speech was slurred, that he had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, that he had trouble walking and swayed while attempting to stand. Hughes refused to submit to field sobriety tests and a breath test. In the vehicle with Hughes were two minors, one 17 years old and one 14 years old.

During sentencing, Anderson cited Hughes’ extensive criminal history, which includes numerous burglaries, a 1995 battery conviction and a 2001 aggravated battery conviction in which he stabbed the victim four times, and a 2008 conviction for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, in which Hughes threw an underage drinking party at his place of work. In addition, Hughes has convictions for a 1985 DUI and a 1990 DUI, both in Kane County.

Illinois law states that because of the two prior DUI convictions, the DUI in the case was a Class 2 felony. In addition, because Hughes had two prior Class 2 felony convictions, he faced a minimum of six years in IDOC.

In addition to the prison sentence, because a minor was in the car with Hughes at the time of the DUI stop, Hughes must pay a mandatory $25,000 fine and upon completion of his prison term, Hughes must complete 25 days of community service with an organization that benefits youths.

Anderson recommended that Hughes seek substance abuse treatment while in the custody of IDOC.

Based on Illinois law, Hughes was given day-for-day sentencing. Hughes also was given credit for 489 days served in the Kane County jail.

Campton celebrates 175 years

Campton Township—Families and friends can step back in time and discover life before modern technology at Garfield Farm Museum’s annual Harvest Days, where the 175th anniversary of Campton Township’s founding will be celebrated.

The event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3.

In 1835, John Beatty from Pennsylvania was the first settler to lay claim to land in what became Campton Township. Then known as Fairfield, Beatty first claimed land along present-day Brundige Road in the southeast corner of Campton. Because of a lack of water and timber, two months later, Beatty moved his claim to the present day intersection of Route 38 and LaFox Road. Still this did not meet his needs, and within two years, he moved his claim just north of the present day intersection of Campton Hills and LaFox roads, where his farmhouse survives.

Within 12 months of his arrival, other families came to Campton, and a special display and observation of early settlement will be held at Harvest Days.

Donations are $6 for adults and $3 for children under 12.

The 374-acre Garfield Farm Museum is an historically intact former 1840s prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored by donors and volunteers from 2,800 households in 37 states. Garfield Farm Museum is located five miles west of Geneva on Garfield Road. For information, call (630) 584-8485 or e-mail info@garfieldfarm.org.

MP denies Sunday liquor sale request

MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board on Monday turned down a tavern owner’s request to sell liquor before noon on Sundays. Maple Park ordinances permit bars to sell liquor from noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Kenny Robinson, of The Pub in Maple Park, asked the board to allow his business to sell alcoholic beverages earlier in the day. No board discussion preceded the vote, from which Trustee Mark Delaney abstained. Trustee Nick Moisa was absent.

FPC reports a tool for future district use

KANELAND—The Kaneland School District Facilities Planning Committee (FPC) presented its 2010-11 report to the School Board on Monday, a tool the district can use in the event of changing enrollment.

“While enrollment trends have leveled off, this report is intended to give the School Board options to consider when conversation is needed,” said FPC Chairman Steve Bauserman.

Animal rights activist: County should pursue death-threat case

Kane County officials cite lack of evidence for prosecution
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Animal rights activist Steve Hindi of Elburn said Tuesday he is disappointed that local authorities will not prosecute an individual who allegedly threatened his life in online comments.

Hindi, president of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (S.H.A.R.K.), filed a report this summer with the Kane County Sheriff’s Department and notified the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office about a reader’s online comment on a Wyoming newspaper website June 19.

In his police report, Hindi said the online comment referred to an article that appeared in the newspaper in which Hindi was quoted objecting to horses receiving electric shocks during a Wyoming rodeo.

He said the comment, which the newspaper removed from its website, stated:
“Steve Hindi’s days are numbered. I hope he shows up at Cheyenne frontier days. That would be the last rodeo he will ever attend. You animal worshippers need to get a life. Too bad you hate humans and want humans gone while you worship animals. Btw, I killed three prairie dogs today and didn’t even use a weapon.”

Hindi also said someone sent S.H.A.R.K. an e-mail stating, “You show up in Wyoming again and you will go home wearing a toe tag.”

In a July 14 case report, Kane County Sheriff’s Detective Steve Reitmeyer stated that he had informed Hindi’s attorney that since the threatening e-mail to S.H.A.R.K. did not mention Hindi by name, the case did not meet the requirements necessary to obtain charges.

Kane County First Assistant State’s Attorney Jody Gleason, in a Sept. 16 letter to Hindi, stated that after conferring with Reitmeyer, her office did not believe enough evidence existed to file charges against the suspect.

On Tuesday, Hindi told the Elburn Herald, “Why they (the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office) are refusing to do their job is difficult to understand.”

In her Sept. 16 letter to Hindi, Gleason acknowledged that the Kane County State’s Attorney in the past has filed charges against people who have threatened Hindi and will continue to do so when enough evidence exists to prosecute.

The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office in 2009 prosecuted an individual who made repeated, threatening phone calls to S.H.A.R.K.

Crash victim recovering after several surgeries

Youth hit by truck suffered life-threatening injuries
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Julio Gallegos didn’t know what to expect on Aug. 11, 2010, when he received word that his 13-year-old son Uriel had been involved in an accident while riding his bike across Route 47 in Sugar Grove.

“I was hoping that it wasn’t really serious and that Uriel just had a few broken bones or something,” said Gallegos, of Sugar Grove. “But when I got to the hospital, I knew right away that it was serious.”

Uriel was struck by a truck almost immediately after a van traveling south on Route 47 clipped the back of his bicycle and caused him to lose control. He was rushed to Provena Mercy Hospital in Aurora before being airlifted to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., where he was listed in critical condition with a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen, shattered pelvis, broken femur, extensive road rash and severe head trauma.

Although the majority of Uriel’s body was broken, his spirit remained just fine. Despite the life-threatening injuries he suffered just six weeks ago and numerous surgeries he’s undergone since the accident, Uriel is expected to make a complete recovery. He may even be walking again in a couple of months.

“(My family’s) been through a lot, but we’re seeing signs of improvement (in Uriel’s health) and taking everything day by day,” Gallegos said.

Sugar Grove Village Board trustee Melisa Taylor heard about Uriel’s accident and wasted no time providing the Gallegos family with assistance.

“Uriel’s mom, Maria, stayed by his side the entire time he was at Park General (Hospital). And Julio, who works in the West Aurora School District, was driving back and forth to the hospital while also taking care of their other three boys,” she said. “I figured their gas expenses must be huge with all of that driving, since Park General is north of O’Hare (Airport).”

Taylor opened a Castle Bank account for the Gallegos’ so that people could donate gas cards or make donations to help pay the family’s bills. She also stocked the Gallegos’ pantry with food, started a support page for him on Facebook and worked with the family’s neighbors to help gather school supplies for Uriel’s brothers.

“I was just trying to worry about the everyday life that this family didn’t have time to worry about,” Taylor said. “Uriel needed his mom and dad, so our goal was to just help them out.”

The Kaneland School District staff also made a significant effort to show its support for Uriel, working with several of his fellow students to make a poster wishing him a happy 14th birthday, which he celebrated shortly after his accident.

Uriel is currently confined to a wheelchair while he begins the arduous task of rehabilitating his legs back to full health. There’s no doubt he has a very grueling couple of months of physical therapy ahead, but considering everything he’s overcome since that fateful August afternoon, it’s easy to believe he’ll pass this test with flying colors.

“The kid is a walking miracle, and I don’t use that term lightly,” Taylor said. “He’s (14) years old and his body is very strong, but the stars really aligned for him that (August) day.”

Waubonsee seeks traffic signal to improve entrance safety

Sugar Grove—Waubonsee Community College is pursuing the installation of a traffic signal at its north entrance following a review of the final report of the April 14 traffic accident that claimed the life of two students.

The college received the final report from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) stemming from the accident at the college’s Route 47 north entrance. The report outlined the safety measures enacted since the accident, reviewed possible safety enhancements, and ultimately determined a traffic signal is permissible at the college’s Sugar Grove Campus north entrance.

“With the assistance and permission of IDOT, we are now able to pursue the installation of a traffic signal at the college’s north entrance,” Waubonsee President Dr. Christine Sobek said. “We believe, and IDOT concurs, that this will significantly increase the safety of the entrance for our students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Since the accident, IDOT has installed intersection warning signs with flashing beacons for both northbound and southbound traffic.

The traffic signal project is eligible for federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds, and Waubonsee is working with IDOT to finalize this source to fund the majority of the project expenses.

ReadOut for Freedom

Event highlights previously banned, challenged books
by Lynn Meredith
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 2, will celebrate the freedom to read books without censorship.

From a podium in the library entryway, participants will read aloud from their favorite classic books, many of which were on lists of banned or challenged titles in the past.

The hour-long ReadOut coincides with the 2010 Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.

“This is an opportunity to share with others books that have been challenged,” library director Beverly Holmes Hughes said. “Open access to information is available and should be available to everyone.”

The ReadOut reading list includes 100 classic titles from which participants may choose one to read for five to 10 minutes during the event (see list).

Rep. Kay Hatcher will kick off the ReadOut as the first reader. She said reading is one of the most important civil liberties people have and that speaking out ensures freedom of access.

“The banning of books keeps us mindful that sometimes we have to go over and above to make sure individual freedoms are respected,” Hatcher said

Hatcher plans to either read from “The Catcher in the Rye” or “Of Mice and Men,” by John Steinbeck.

Books are considered challenged when a parent, teacher, school district, school board member or anyone else questions whether a particular title should be on a library shelf or taught in a classroom. A book is “banned” when a school district removes it from circulation or curriculum.

“Of Mice and Men” has a long history of challenges and banning. Beginning in 1953 and continuing to the present day, it has been banned in several communities due to its “profanity and using God’s name in vain.” Wheaton-Warrenville Middle School in Illinois banned the book in 1988.

Also on the ReadOut list and another past target of censorship was “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger. In 1960, a Tulsa, Okla. school district fired a teacher for assigning the book to an 11th-grade English class, according to the American Library Association’s website on the history of banned books. The teacher appealed, and the school district reinstated her but removed the book from the student curriculum. In 1982, a district in Morris, Manitoba, banned “The Catcher in the Rye” for “excess vulgar language, sexual scenes, things concerning moral issues, excessive violence, and anything dealing with the occult.”

Inspiring the ReadOut was Judith Krug, founding executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, Holmes said.

The Sugar Grove Library Friends and Sugar Grove Online partnered to present the Oct. 2 event. They will donate a video of the ReadOut to the Freedom to Read Foundation.

Reading slots still are available from noon to 1 p.m. Interested readers should contact call (630) 466-1448 to reserve a reading time.

On the reading list

• The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
• The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
• The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
• To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
• The Color Purple by Alice Walker
• Ulysses by James Joyce
• Beloved by Toni Morrison
• The Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
• 1984 by George Orwell
• The Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner
• Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
• Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
• Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
• A Portrait of the Artist as
a Young Man by James Joyce
• Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
• Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
• Animal Farm by George Orwell
• The Sun Also Rises
by Ernest Hemingway
• As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
• A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway
• Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
• Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

St. Gall invites public to annual fundraiser

Batavia—St. Gall Church in Elburn will hold its annual gala on Saturday, Oct. 9, at the Lincoln Inn in Batavia.

This event is a fundraising dinner for a new church to be built at Hughes Road and Route 47 in Elburn.

Reservations for dinner, silent and live auctions, and entertainment by the Home Town Band are available for $75 per person. Call (630) 365-6030.

School Board updated on capital projects

KANELAND—Kaneland School District Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs on Monday updated the School Board about recent and ongoing capital projects and school repairs.

Fuchs said the Kaneland Middle School building renovations and cleaning are nearly finished. She added that the district earmarked $300,000 for furnishings, an amount that could change depending upon what district officials decided to use the building for in the future.

Other recently finished projects include repairs to the Kaneland High School roof, various life-safety building repairs and renovations, and summer paving work. Projects still under way are the Esker Drive project, and the Harter Middle School storage facility.

When these projects are finished, the capital projects fund is expected to have a remaining balance of $697,000, Fuchs said.

Aurora University names new faculty for 2010-2011

Aurora University named local resident Regina Rahn as a new faculty member for 2010-2011.

Rahn, of Sugar Grove, joins the College of Education as a pro rata assistant professor of mathematics. She received her Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has served as adjunct instructor at Waubonsee Community College; visiting lecturer at the University of Illinois at Chicago; visiting assistant professor and assistant professor at Northern Illinois University; and is currently vice president of GeneMetrix in Sugar Grove, where she develops course raining materials and high-resolution software for performance metrics, teaches workshops and seminars, provides consulting services and develops marketing strategies and materials.

Erickson appointed renewable energy technologies instructor

The Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees appointed Gregg Erickson of Elburn to the position of full-time renewable energy technologies instructor at their meeting Sept. 15. The appointment is effective Sept. 16, 2010.

The college will offer courses in its new renewable energy technologies discipline this spring, and so, over the next few months, Erickson will work to refine the curriculum and get the proper equipment installed. The discipline includes Certificates of Achievement in the areas of photovoltaic, small wind, solar thermal and geothermal.

Erickson has been teaching journeyman electricians how to install and service photovoltaic systems and small wind turbines for the past 13 years as an instructor/trainer with the Illinois Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local #461. Erickson himself has been a journeyman electrician for more than 40 years. He completed the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) National Instructor Training program in photovoltaic and small wind turbines through the University of Tennessee.   

Investor sued for fraud

More lawsuits expected from alleged victims
by Martha Quetsch
SUGAR GROVE—A Sugar Grove securities broker, Algird M. Norkus, allegedly swindled investors across the country of hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of his alleged victims, Eugene L. Pingatore of Westchester, Ill., is suing Norkus in Kane County Court, and many others plan to do the same, a local attorney said.

Pingatore’s attorneys, Higgins and Burke of St. Charles, filed the lawsuit in Kane County on Sept. 21. The lawsuit alleges that Norkus defrauded Pingatore of $500,000 through illegal investments.

“Mr. Norkus appears to have been operating the classic Ponzi scheme, basically taking money from clients and using it to pay off other clients to keep the scheme going,” Pingatore’s attorney John Burke said. “He pockets the majority of the money.”

Pingatore’s lawsuit seeks in excess of $50,000 in damages from Norkus and from the company with whom Norkus was a registered broker, Madison Securities, Inc.

Burke said said Pingatore is not the only person that Norkus allegedly defrauded. So far, the firm is representing 30 individuals who plan to sue Norkus, and Burke anticipates dozens more will come forth.

“We will have many more lawsuits filed in Kane County in the coming weeks,” Burke said.

Norkus was a Madison Securities representative from May 2006 until August 2010. A certified financial planner, he invested in securities for his clients including mutual funds, variable annuities and life insurance, stocks bonds and others.

The people whom Norkus allegedly defrauded between 1992 and 2010 are from the Chicago area, southern Illinois, Florida, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, Missouri and other states, Burke said.

Most of the alleged victims are retirees, with the oldest being 97, Burke said. Many of his clients have lost their life savings because of Norkus, Burke said.

“He (Norkus) got around,” Burke said.

Burke likened Norkus’ dealings to those of Bernie Madoff, a New York stockbroker imprisoned in 2009 for defrauding thousands of investors of billions of dollars.

The Kane County judge assigned to the case is Stephen Sullivan. The court has yet to set the next court date, Burke said. The lawsuit is a civil court case. So far, no one has filed criminal charges against Norkus in Kane County, said Chris Nelson of the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Randall Samborn, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern Illinois District in Chicago, said that to date, no one has filed criminal charges with the U.S. Attorney’s Office against Norkus. Samborn said he could not confirm or deny whether his office was conducting an investigation of Norkus.

Burke said Norkus told his clients that he was president of Financial Update Inc. and worked out of an office in Oak Brook, Ill. However, since allegations of Norkus’ illegal investment scheme surfaced, Burke’s clients went to the office’s location and found it did not exist, Burke said. The phone number for Financial Update, Inc. was disconnected and his home number is not publicly listed.

Community Interfaith Crop Walk set for Oct. 3

Hinckley—Recruiters and walkers are needed for the 2010 Crop Walk, held Sunday, Oct. 3, with a 1:15 p.m. registration and 2 p.m. start time.

The walk will begin at Hinckley First United Methodist Church in Hinckley.

The Hinckley Food Pantry and Our Sharing Pantry in Sandwich will divide 25 percent of the funds received.
Sponsors may designate where their funds will be used with many world self-help agencies and church affiliated relief organizations.

Call (815)-498-9032.

Marmion cadets receive military promotions

Marmion Academy’s JROTC program honored 40 cadets with military promotions at the annual Sabre Ceremony on Sept. 10. These senior cadets were presented with a sabre (officers) or a sword (sergeants) by their parents, as they were promoted to the highest ranks in available in the JROTC program. The following are Marmion’s local JROTC student leaders for the 2010-11 school year.

From Battalion Headquarters, Personnel Sergeant Sean Howard of Sugar Grove, Adjunct Edward Malnar of LaFox,and Information Officer Mitchell Loehmann of Big Rock; at the Company Command level, 1st Platoon Leader Evan Kline-Wedeen of Big Rock; and from Bravo Company, First Sergeant Joshua Beltz of Montgomery.