Making ‘em laugh at McDole

First-grader Cameron Neis (below, left) tells jokes during the dress rehearsal of the School Talent Show at Kaneland McDole Elementary School. The rehearsal took place on Saturday. The show will be held on Friday in the main gym. Directed by Melissa Becker, it will include about 40 acts.

Above right, the first through fifth grade talent waits to get on stage during the dress rehearsal. Fourth-grader Brendan Neis (right) sings “Me And My Shadow.” It is the third year for the talent show, and proceeds will be donated to the McDole Reading Lounge (through the student council). The lounge is a place where kids can come before and after school and read in a comfortable environment.
Photos by John DiDonna

Elburn pilot unshaken after Japanese quake

Photo: Donna Peterson and her step-daughter, 17-year-old Kaneland student Veronica, gather with the family’s dogs around a picture of Charlie, looking forward to his return home. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

‘I miss my family,’ he says as he begins his trip home
by Sandy Kaczmarski
Elburn—Donna Peterson first heard about last week’s earthquake in Japan as it happened during a phone call from her husband Charlie.

“Honey, I think we’re having an earthquake,” he said.

Charlie is a United Airlines pilot and was on the 20th floor of his hotel in Tokyo when the earthquake started. Donna turned on the television in their Blackberry Creek home and realized that it wasn’t an ordinary quake.

Charlie gave a phone interview from Beijing (where it was 4 a.m.) and also recounted his experience in an e-mail.

He said he’s flown the route before and gotten alerts about quakes in progress.

“We ran into a crew that told us they’d just come in from Japan and there was a 6.0 quake,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, I’m glad they got that out of the way before we got there.’”

Since the route he takes from Chicago is over the North Pole, “diversion areas are limited.”

“I was thinking, I really don’t want to land in northern Russia,” he said.

Charlie was able to land without any diversion and had been in Tokyo 24 hours before the quake hit. He said the shaking lasted for about two-and-a-half minutes.

“It was difficult to stand,” he said. “I realized there was a large picture on the wall that was shaking violently. So I decided the safest place was in the middle of the bed.”

His co-pilot was on the ninth floor and considered going outside, but also decided it was safer to stay in his room rather than risk having the entire building come down on him.

Charlie described the sound during the quake as a loud creaking, like “an old rocking chair made for a giant—times 20.”

Looking out his window, he said the buildings looked as if they were made of thick jello, swaying for nearly half an hour after the quake stopped. Tokyo has some of the most stringent building codes, and for a country that experiences 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes over a magnitude of six, he said Tokyo’s earthquake damage wasn’t nearly as bad as might be expected.

Charlie said once things quieted down, the first thing he thought of was his wife and kids. After the initial call home, phone service was knocked out, but he was able to communicate by e-mail.

“The aftershocks kept coming at a fast pace, and the experts said they will continue from this quake alone for another three years,” he said.

He spent 76 hours in Tokyo, and by the time he left for Beijing, there had been 277 aftershocks as high as a 6.6 magnitude. With space at such a premium in Tokyo, he said the convenience stores ran out of food right away, with empty shelves for the next few days.

One thing Charlie said he was struck by was the stoicism exhibited by the Japanese people.

“Everyone downtown was being orderly. People were walking out of a subway station without panicking or running,” he said.

“There was a woman in the hotel lobby who let out a loud shriek,” he continued. “She had just learned her son was dead. That went on for about 10 seconds, then she just got quiet, sobbing, and walked away.”

Pilots often are away for extended periods, and he pointed out they are gone the entire time and don’t get to go home at night. What started out as a seven-day trip ended up being nine days with the delays. He said he was glad to be headed home.

“I miss my family.”

Kaneland names principal of Harter Middle School

The Kaneland School Board on Monday evening announced the appointment of Bryan Zwemke as principal of Kaneland Harter Middle School, effective July 1. Zwemke, who previously served as dean and then assistant principal at Yorkville Middle School the past five years, was chosen from a group of over 80 applicants.

The Kaneland School Board on Monday evening announced the appointment of Bill Bicker as principal of Blackberry Creek Elementary School, effective July 1. Bicker, who previously served as principal of Fullerton Elementary School in Addison, Ill., the past two years, was chosen from a group of over 75 applicants.

March 18 police blotter

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

Sugar Grove
• The Kane County Grand Jury on March 1 returned indictments against two Sugar Grove men for their roles in an incident that occurred at Gardner Cemetery in Maple Park on Aug. 2, 2010.

John Karas, 21, of the 1800 block of Fays Lane, and Alexander Wagner, 22, of the 1900 block of Annette Circle, were each charged with two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of mob action and four counts of battery last August following an altercation between the two men and a 21-year-old Elburn man, as well as a 30-year-old man who attempted to come to the victim’s aid.

• Sugar Grove Police on March 14 performed a traffic stop on a vehicle traveling 71 mph in a 55 mph zone on Ke-Da-Ka Road. Upon making the stop, police detected the smell of cannabis emanating from the vehicle. The driver, Melanie Whitt, 42, of the first block of East Highland Drive in Bristol, Ill., gave police a wooden box containing a small amount of cannabis, as well as a smoking pipe.

Whitt was taken into custody and issued a speeding citation and two ordinance violations for possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Board approves purchase of pipe, cable locator device

Sugar Grove—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday evening voted 5-0 to approve the purchase of a pipe and cable locater device.

According to a document from Director of Public Works Anthony Speciale and Public Utilities Supervisor Brad Merkel, the village’s current locater is over 14 years old and is no longer operational or repairable. The new locater will be a Radiodetection 8000 purchased from Mid American Technology, Inc., in Montgomery. The cost of the new locater is $6,035.

Local artist enjoys sharing her work with others

Photo: Local artist Deann Alleman works on a painting during her oil pastel class at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Solo exhibition of Deann Alleman’s oil pastel paintings
Pheasant Run Resort’s
Bourbon Street Gallery
4051 East Main Street, St. Charles
March 5 – May 2
Opening reception:
Friday, March 18 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Meet her Friday at Pheasant Run show
by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—Local artist Deann Alleman’s backyard is often her muse, where she draws inspiration. She said she is especially affected by the changing seasons.

“I love the spring time, when the trees just start to turn lacey and the corn pops up in the fields,” she said. “Of course, the fall colors … not just the trees, but all the foliage of the fields of beans and corn.”

Alleman, who lives in the Prestbury Subdivision in Sugar Grove, began painting with oil pastels after taking a class in 2005 at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles. Alleman’s work is the subject of a solo exhibition currently at the Pheasant Run Resort through May 2.

Originally created in 1949 for painter Pablo Picasso, oil pastels look like crayons, but have a creamy consistency and a range of brilliant colors. With the pastels, Alleman is able to access the vivid colors which are a hallmark of her work.

In addition to her backyard, Alleman often paints from the scenes she experiences while walking or driving through the area. Her work begins with a photo or a visual memory of a landscape or setting, but she said she is more interested in expressing the feelings and emotional reaction to what she sees.

“Hopefully that also evokes something in the viewer, as well,” she said. “That’s what art is all about.”

Alleman, a retired teacher with the West Aurora School District, experimented with art during her 20s, and picked up on her interest again when she retired in 2003.

She and several other students from her 2005 class with George Shipperly held a show of their work during the 2007 St. Charles Fine Arts Show. She said the show was successful and such fun that the fellow artists formed the Yellow House Artists, named after the setting of their first exhibition.

The group, currently at 40 members, holds a couple of shows each year in the area, with the next at the Geneva History Center on May 6-7, in conjunction with the First Friday Gallery Walk.

Alleman said that she hopes to continue to have opportunities to show her work in the area. She said her work is good for her soul.

“When you enjoy something, you want to share it,” she said.

Three Kaneland High School wrestlers qualified to travel this past weekend to Springfield, Ill. to compete in the Team Illinois Freshman/Sophomore State Championships.

Dan Goress (center) was crowned champion in the 130-pound category, while Esai Ponce
(second from right) placed second in the 125-pound category. Fellow grappler Zachary Theis (far left) took fourth at 215 pounds. All three competitors represented the Knights Wrestling Club. Coaches were: Quinn Jahns (second from left), Troy Jorgenson (back, third from left) and Ben Kovalick (right). Courtesy Photo

KHS girls track takes fourth at Byron Indoor Preview

BYRON, Ill.—Kaneland girls track fans can only hope the Lady Knights excel this well without a roof on top of their efforts.

On Saturday, Kaneland competed at the Byron Indoor Preview and came away with a fourth place finish.

Kaneland’s 43 point team total edged Hononegah High School’s 38 point total.

Wheaton-Warrenville South (118), Naperville Central (83) and Rochelle (54) rounded out the top three.

In the 1600 meter run , senior leader Andie Strang boasted a second-place time of five minutes, 27.59 seconds, six seconds behind Wheaton-Warrenville South’s Mikayla Kightlinger.

Teammate Abby Dodis took third in the 3200m run with a time of 12:33.26, besting the next fastest entry by 11 seconds.

Kaneland also did well in the 4x400m relay, as the unit of Sydney Bilotta, Ashley Castellanos, Arianna Espino and Brooke Patterson took fourth with a time of 4:25.07.

Lady Knight Patterson also did well in the pole vault, a la last season. Along with being a relay asset, she took second in the pole vault with an effort of 10 feet, six inches.

Patterson was also crowned Indoor Preview champ in the triple jump (33 feet), two and one-half inches better than Rochelle’s Taylor Jenkins.

Right track at Byron

• Andie Strang:
2nd place, 1600m run
• Abby Dodis:
3rd place, 3200m run
• Bilotta, Castellanos,
Espino and Patterson:
4th place, 4x400m relay
• Brooke Patterson:
2nd place, pole vault
• Brooke Patterson:
1st place, triple jump

Knight boys raise roof for 4th at Byron

BYRON, Ill.—Saturday brought some indoor track competition to Byron, Ill., and also brought some fine numbers and totals for Kaneland boys track.

Looking to get the 2010-11 season on the right foot indoors, Kaneland finished tied for fourth out of 12 teams.

Their 43-point total tied with Rockford Jefferson. Rockton’s Hononegah had 97 points, followed by Burlington Central’s 69.5 total and Belvidere North with 47 points. The Knights were the lone representative from the Northern Illinois Big XII conference.

Tommy Whittaker of the Knights took second in the 400 meter dash with an effort of 53.97 seconds, behind Hononegah’s Kassidy Freeman by .9 seconds.

Taylor Andrews ran 7.9 seconds for second place in the 55m hurdles finals event, and was also part of the first place 4x400m relay team with Whittaker, Brandon Cottier and Chad Swieca (3:37.90).

Frankie Furco acclimated himself well in the finals of the high jump, finishing third in the group with a six-foot effort.

Finally, Matt Spitzzeri took second in the triple jump group by completing his turn at 41-4.5.

The boys’ next challenge is the Northern Illinois Big XII indoor meet in Sterling on Saturday, March 19.

KHS Hall of Fame looking for ‘76ers

Kaneland CUSD is looking for contact information for members of the 1976 Boys’ Track team, set to be inductedinto the Kaneland Hall of Fame on Monday, May 2.

The members are: coach Harold Anderson, Matt Barsic, coach Rich Born, Brian Burgholzer, Bruce Burgholzer, Darryl Carlson, Jeff Carlson, Eric Carnes, Brian Christensen, Mark Claypool, Steve Fredrickson, Paul Garbe, Eric Hamann, Joel Hicks, Tim Hoffman, Mike Jorgensen, Bob Jorgensen, Jerry Klusak, Marty Lyle, John McQuade, James Morris, Gary Mueller, John Oksas, Dean Paschen, coach Bruce Peterson, Dale Plant, David Potts, Jim Sandberg, manager Mark Sibley, Randy Stayner and Chuck Swift.

If you have any information, contact Beth Sterkel in the district office at (630) 365-5111, ext. 109.

Cougars add tunes to fireworks nights

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars announced the organization’s fireworks show musical themes for the 2011 schedule as a mix of various soundtracks will back each of the popular post-game light shows this season.

Traditional musical themes returning in 2011 include a pair of patriotic fireworks shows on July 3 and July 4. Other returning theme shows include disco and pop music on select nights.

Building off some of the newly created promotional theme nights for fans in 2011, the Cougars will set the fireworks music to those corresponding evenings this summer: a Jimmy Buffett fireworks show on June 17, a Harry Potter-themed fireworks show on July 1, a Christmas music fireworks show on July 29 and a country music-infused show on Aug. 19, among many others.

The music of Coldplay (July 28) and Chicago-area band Wilco (July 9) will also be featured for a pair of shows this season.

Only one of the Cougars’ 28 fireworks show music themes has not been decided yet, and is in the hands of the organization’s Facebook fans. The Cougars recently designated the July 14 game as “Facebook Night,” and if the Cougars reach 5,000 fans on the team’s official Facebook page by May 5, Cougars Facebook fans will be able to choose several elements of the July 14 game, including the fireworks show theme in a Facebook-only fan poll.

The Cougars’ first fireworks show of the season is set for Friday, May 13—a Halloween-themed fireworks show sponsored by Nicor. Nicor will sponsor the following evening’s Halloween-themed fireworks show as well.

Single-game tickets are on sale for each of the Cougars’ 70 regular season games, and can be ordered by calling the Cougars at (630) 232-8811 or at Group outings are on sale as well, with all-inclusive picnic pricing for several of the Elfstrom Stadium group hospitality areas.

KYFL holds sign-up

KANELAND—KYFL will hold registration for the 2011 flag, tackle and cheer season on Saturday, March 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kaneland High School. See the KYFL website ( for details.

Football divisions are determined by age for flag (5-6), tackle (7-12), and cheer (6-12). There are weight limits for ball carriers, but no limits for linemen for all tackle divisions.

KYFL has also joined the newly formed Midwest Youth “Big 12” Football Conference. All games will be played against Burlington, DeKalb and Yorkville.

All KYFL participants are required to bring a copy of their birth certificate to registration ,and tackle players are required to be present for weight and height measurements.

All registration fees are posted on the KYFL website along with the registration forms, which can be filled out ahead of time.

For questions, click the “contact” tab on

Accountability in government dependent on Sunshine Laws

by David Porter
Director of communications
Illinois Press Association

Let’s face it, the government really doesn’t want you, the taxpayer, knowing what it’s doing with your money. It really doesn’t.

In the newspaper business, we deal with it all the time. A police department won’t release an arrest record. A school district fires a superintendent and pays him a six-figure settlement but won’t say how much it is. Public meetings are held without giving notice or are improperly held in closed session. These aren’t occasional problems. It’s all the time. It’s every day.

Just recently, a worker’s compensation hearing for a high-profile case in Southern Illinois was rescheduled without notice. An e-mail from an arbitrator to a court reporter revealed the message, “We are going to do it on the sly with no press.”

In a Chicago suburb, a mayor is also the liquor commissioner and owns an insurance company. Is the mayor forcing tavern owners to buy insurance from him in order to renew their licenses? We don’t know; he keeps the documents in a safe in his office and won’t release them.

In Rockford, a school board member has resorted to filing Freedom of Information Act requests to gain information from the school district he was elected to help govern. Sadly, that’s a common occurrence across the state.

Every year, legislation is introduced to try to whittle away at the public’s right to know. Every time an exemption to Illinois’ access laws is passed, that’s one more area where corruption can breed in the dark. How likely is it that the public will learn of such corruption when the information is legally shielded from public disclosure?

Not everyone in government is lurking in the dark. There are many wonderful public officials who are diligent in their roles as keepers of the public trust. These are the people who welcome public scrutiny because they have nothing to hide. These are the people who understand that they work for the public and are accountable to the public.

But there are some real problems out there, too. Serious problems that cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

This week is National Sunshine Week. It’s a time to draw attention to access laws and how they benefit the public. It may surprise you to know that in Illinois, citizens file more Freedom of Information requests than the media. While the media tends to carry the torch for access laws, transparency in government isn’t about the media; it’s about you and your right to know.

To learn more, please visit online at

Letter: Supporting Tony Valente for Kaneland School Board

I am writing to support Mr. Valente’s run for the Kaneland School Board. My support is not based on anything that has been said, but on practical experience of dealing with Tony, as my wife and I found ourselves in the unfortunate situation of one of our children having gotten in trouble at school.

I was the one who initially was dealing with a staff member at the high school. At a certain point in the conversation, I felt the need to state that I did not do this—that my child might have done something wrong, but I had not and there was no reason to talk to me in such a fashion. As a citizen and a taxpayer, I felt that I deserved to be spoken to in a better manner. It became quite obvious that the person I was talking to did not care about our child or want to listen at all.

A meeting was set up with the principal, Mr. Valente. Based on that frustrating conversation I had with the previous staff member, we felt it was best that I not attend that meeting. I had a real fear that I might start talking to people at that meeting like I had been spoken to, and that would not have been an appropriate way to act.

So my wife and our child went. They were treated very fairly by Mr. Valente. They were talked to in a respectful manner. The treatment we received in his office was far different than I had received on the phone. The end result was not very different than what the other staff member had described, but we were treated like human beings.

That is why I support Mr. Valente. He did not give us soft treatment—he enforced the rules. But he did it in a calm and professional manner. He and Leigh Jaffke gave the impression that our child had made a mistake, and they were going to work with us to correct things. They actually conveyed the impression that they cared about our child.

What else would you want in a person who is to be involved in our schools? Someone who is fair, reasonable, cares about kids and still enforces the rules.

Mr. Valente has earned my vote.

William T. King, Jr.
Sugar Grove

Letter: $30 million Forest Preserve bonds: a ‘bargain’ for whom?

The Kane County Forest Preserve District is asking voters to pass a referendum for $30 million in bonds to add still more land to its control.

Area newspapers have been flooded with letters from members of environmental and conservation groups promoting this referendum. A recent newspaper article quoted the District President John Hoscheit as saying that now is the time to ask for a referendum and subsequent tax increase because at this time, land is “on sale.” But, is this really a “bargain?” Consider the following:

1. By its own figures, the Kane Forest Preserve District currently holds 18,572 acres of land. This is approximately 6 percent of all land in the county, and includes a baseball stadium, a skating rink and several golf courses—none of which have anything to do with “preserving forests.”

2. Every acre held by the district is an acre off the tax rolls. This means each property owner must make up a portion of that missing tax appropriation, plus the additional amount needed to pay for lands bought with this referendum. This is not a “one-time, 20-year referendum” as Mr. Hoscheit claims, but a forever cost to those paying property taxes.

3. In addition to the cost of the referendum and the cost of property owners to make up the tax revenue lost by removal of additional land from the tax rolls, we must add the cost of property maintenance equipment and the buildings needed to house it, cost of salaries, insurance and pensions for additional employees the district must hire to maintain and patrol these new properties, and for any additional administrative personnel the district may choose to hire to oversee it.

As with the cost of obtaining the land itself, these will be forever costs, which those who must pay taxes on their property will be forced to support.

We are asked to approve this referendum at a time when home foreclosures in Kane County are at record levels. Despite Mr. Hoscheit’s claims, purchase of additional land by the Forest Preserve District cannot be seen as a “bargain” under current economic conditions. For him to make such a statement, and for the district to ask for $30 million at this time, is the ultimate example of government disdain for the financial crises confronting taxpayers in Kane County.

Dennis C. Ryan

Letter: In support of Bill Grabarek

I am writing today to encourage the residents of Elburn to vote to re-elect Bill Grabarek for Elburn Village Board. I have known and served with Bill on the board for many years. In my view, Bill has earned the support of Elburn residents.

Bill has lived in Elburn for many years and has worked tirelessly to look out for Elburn residents. He has worked hard to make sure that developers pay their fair share when they bring new developments to the village. He cares very much for our community and its well being.

Bill has the total respect of his fellow trustees and works very well with the village president and staff.

I consider Bill a friend and was very happy to hear that he wanted to run again. In my view, we’re very lucky to have him.

I have lived in Elburn for many years. I served on the Village Board for eight years. I am currently the Chairman of the Elburn Planning Commission, and I encourage you to support Bill Grabarek for re-election to the Elburn Village Board. on April 5, 2011.

Jeffrey Metcalf

Letter: In support of David Paluch

I try to keep up to date on what’s going on in the political landscape around us. If I could vote in Sugar Grove, David Paluch, a candidate for village trustee, would get my vote. And here’s why:

David Paluch worked with your young children at Shields School to send Christmas cards and care packages to our troops. David Paluch is a volunteer on the Sugar Grove Corn Boil. David Paluch accepted the appointment to the Police Commissioner’s Board, and the village’s Planning Commission. This shows his interest in and support of his community, the village of Sugar Grove.

David Paluch believes the village should continue to seek out ways to increase its revenue without raising taxes directly on residents. He believes the development of commercial and industrial tax revenue will benefit the school districts and supports a full interchange at Route 47 and Interstate 88.

David and his wife, Deborah, have lived in Sugar Grove for 15 years. They and their two pugs have been walking the campaign trail the past few weeks. Going door to door in this weather, being interested, having an informed opinion and a genuine demonstrated concern for serving his community are my reasons why I wish I could vote in Sugar Grove.

David Paluch believes in community activism and community pride.

Ginger Lang

Letter: Vote ‘no’ on FP bond referendum

Spring voting gets about as much attention as American weight watching, but on April 5, there is one item which deserves an appearance.

The Kane County Forest Preserve wants to borrow $30 million dollars. Housing growth is dead for the moment, so there is no urgency to anything this agency has to offer. Debt implies urgency. Moreover, the Forest Preserve has already demonstrated a proclivity for wasting vast amounts of tax payer money. One of the best examples of that waste is the multiple golf courses it owns. Government-owned golf courses was a good exit strategy for the builders who needed them to inflate their housing values, but it makes no sense for the taxpayer.

A modest house in Kane County now carriers an annual property tax burden of nearly $7,000. That tax would be half in any of the adjacent counties. That’s pretty significant when you put it against a county per capita income of $66,400—10.5 percent of gross income.

Of course, most of that money goes to pay off the unfunded liability created by cheap building permits. It kind of makes one wonder what the builders have over county management. While the common man is trying to figure out how to survive, our biggest builders are driving their Gulf Stream jet in and out of Aurora airport.

Vote no to the Forest Preserve Bond Issue Referendum on April 5. It’s worth showing up.

Jeff L. MacKenzie

Letter: Support FP Bond Referendum

The Forest Preserve District of Kane County will ask voters if they want more forest preserves on April 5. We urge you to support this issue of improving the quality of life and keeping our environment clean by voting in favor for the open space and preserve improvement referendum.

If approved by the voters, approximately 1,500 to 2,000 acres of additional land will be added to the Kane County forest preserves as open space for people and wildlife. This would make the Forest Preserve eligible for matching funds that would allow them to accomplish even more.

If approved by the voters, the funds will be used to purchase open space and natural lands and to make some improvements in existing and new forest preserves that will provide access to the land. Most of the land purchases will be high quality natural areas and land along streams to create greenways and connect other open spaces together.

Now is the best time in decades to purchase land from willing sellers. Land is now selling at a fraction of the cost of just a few years ago, and we need to acquire them before the prices go up in the future. Plus, the cost to the taxpayer for this referendum is small; just around $1 a month for a $250,000 home. This is a great investment for our children’s and grandchildren’s future.

The Conservation Foundation works in Kane County and encourages you to make an extra effort to go vote on April 5 and say “yes” for more open space and forest preserve property. A clean and healthy environment for our children is easily worth three pennies per day.

Brook McDonald
The Conservation Foundation

Letter: Support the Land Preservation and Preserve Improvement Referendum

I urge your readers to support the Forest Preserve District of Kane County’s Land Preservation and Preserve Improvement Referendum, which will be on the April 5 election ballot.

At first glance, it is surprising that with the present economy the Forest Preserve would propose a land acquisition referendum. A second look, however, will tell you that it makes good fiscal sense. After the last referendum, when the Forest Preserve was identifying high-quality land to buy, they found that developers were willing to pay much higher prices for the land than the Forest Preserve could afford. A number of very fine potential preserves were lost to preservation in this way. With today’s depressed land values, some of those developers are approaching the Forest Preserve District and offering their land for significantly reduced prices—less than what the Forest Preserve District offered the first time.

The Forest Preserve anticipates that $30 million now will buy much more land than it would have five years ago. This window of opportunity will close as land prices rise again.
The average home in Kane County is worth approximately $265,000; the cost of this referendum would be around $1 a month. That’s 3 to 4 cents per day, or about $12 a year.

Remember, preserved land adds value to a community, provides spaces for wildlife to live, cleans the air we breathe and the water we use, infiltrates rain and runoff, reducing the impact of flooding, and provides places for people to recreate and renew their spirits. All this without demanding municipal services or putting one more child in the local school.

For further information on the Forest Preserve’s plans or information about the referendum, please visit or

Mary Ochsenschlager
Sugar Grove

Letter: Forest Preserve improvement referendum an opportunity to positively shape the future of our communities

On April 5, we will have an opportunity to positively shape the future of our communities by supporting the Kane County Forest Land Acquisition and Preserve Improvement Referendum. The cost is only $1 a month for an average Kane County home.

Studies from around the country show that natural areas like forest preserves positively impact property values of nearby homes. People like living near open space and are willing to pay a premium.

Besides enhancing the real estate values of existing homes, forest preserves and other natural areas influence the evolving character of Kane County. More aesthetic surroundings and favorable living environments upgrade the quality of homes constructed.

Eager to recruit and retain employees, businesses with high paying jobs seek communities offering a high quality of life. I would like to see our young people have the option of those employment opportunities in Kane County.

Land is being offered for sale at a fraction of the cost from a few years ago. We must act now to preserve the last remaining open spaces and natural lands for our children and grandchildren before the land becomes too expensive again or lost forever.

Join me in charting a beneficial course for our county and legacy for our children by voting “yes” for the Forest Preserve Land Acquisition and Preserve Improvement Referendum.

Shauna Wiet
Kane County Neighbors
for Open Space,
Clean Water and Clean Air

Letter: In support of Mari Johnson

Mari Johnson is a dedicated public servant who approaches every village of Sugar Grove meeting fully prepared and ready to engage in discussion and make the right decision on behalf of all Sugar Grove residents. Her continued service on the Village Board will serve all of us well.

We fully support Mari Johnson’s re-election to our Village Board. In her 16 years of service on the board, she has proven herself to be a trustee committed to constituent services, community outreach, thoughtful leadership and fiscal discipline. Mari loves Sugar Grove. She takes pride in the accomplishments of her community and epitomizes an individual of the highest ethics and character.

By implementing solid planning processes and diversifying our tax base, Mari’s lone female voice promises to provide our town with a solid future in this time of economic uncertainties. Please vote on April 5 for Mari Johnson as Sugar Grove Village Trustee.
Dan and Pat Graceffa
Sugar Grove

Shirley J. Stoffa

Shirley J. Stoffa, age 59, of Elburn, passed away early Sunday morning March 13, 2011, at her home surrounded by her loving family. She fought the good fight; she finished the race, and with the loving, tender care of her family and countless prayers of many, she is now safely home in heaven.

Shirley Jane Collins was born July 3, 1951, in Elgin, Ill., the daughter of James and Dorothy (Heinberg) Collins. She grew up on a farm in rural St. Charles until the age of 12, when the family moved to the family farm on Keslinger Road, Elburn. She attended St. Patrick’s Catholic School in St. Charles and graduated from Kaneland High School with the class of 1969. Following graduation, she became employed at National Electronics, LaFox, and worked in customer service.

In 1973, through a mutual friend, Shirley went to supper with the young man who would steal her heart and in time become her husband of 35 years. Mike Stoffa and Shirley dated for several years before they were united in marriage on May 31, 1975, at St. Gall Church in Elburn. They made their first homes in several apartments in Elburn before moving to their first house on Nebraska Street in 1980. Shirley had a chance to make her house a home with all of her creative skills. Her hands and heart were truly made to be a mother, and Shirley exemplified both as their children, Todd and Sarah, grew up. In 2000, the family moved to their present home on Pierce Street.

No matter where they made their home, family was always first in Shirley’s heart. She was an ever-ready babysitter for nieces and nephews. She loved cooking, reading and took great pride in her flower and vegetable gardens. Shirley’s busy hands were never idle and through countless hours she sewed, altered and created clothing and costumes not only for her family but for many others. In later years, she created beautiful quilts and other crafts. She never missed any of Todd or Sarah’s school events. Mother-and-daughter times went from childhood to being grown women and best friends. Shirley was always there through all of Sarah’s joys and challenges. Through the last weeks, Sarah’s role changed as she became the caregiver and constant companion.

In 2003, the family grew as Molly became Todd’s wife and in 2005, Abigail Grace was born and Shirley became Grammy, finding the beginning of a light that could brighten any day. That joy became complete when Cole Michael was born in 2008. Abby and Cole brought hope and happiness with every hug.

In early 1984, Shirley became a library aid at the Kaneland Elementary School. It was a job that would grow into a career as she worked her way up to her present position as the Benefits Coordinator for Kaneland School District 302.

Apple Canyon Lake was one of Shirley’s favorite places to be. In 1996, the Collins family was looking for a place to have their annual family gathering. The perfect spot became the cabin at Apple Canyon Lake, a place built by family and friends, the Collins Ponderosa. It was the place where all of the family could be together and share not only their annual retreat but countless weekends of fun. Shirley’s memory will live forever in the hearts of her family and friends. Shirley had countless gifts, but it was the fruits of the spirit that perhaps exemplified her best: patience, love, caregiving, a trustful faith and always being the peacemaker.

She was a faithful member of St. Gall Church, the Elburn Firemen’s Ladies Auxiliary, served on the Kaneland Hall of Fame Board and the Kaneland 50th Anniversary Committee and volunteered many hours for the Elburn Lions Club.

She is survived by her loving husband, Mike of Elburn; two children, Todd (Molly) Stoffa and Sarah Stoffa, all of DeKalb; her two grandchildren, Abby and Cole (and grand-dog, Chief); three sisters, JoAnn Collins of Streamwood, Ill., Kathy Freeburg of St. Charles and Mary (John) Rogerson of Big Rock; two brothers, Richard (Terri) Collins of Oswego, Ill., and Don (Karen) Collins of Downers Grove, Ill.; her mother-in-law, Darlene Stoffa of Elburn; her brother-in-law, John (Terri) Stoffa of Geneva; three sisters-in-law, Linda Stoffa-Souders, Loretta (Jim) Rausch, Lora (John) Cain, all of Elburn; many nieces, nephews and extended family.

She is preceded in death by her parents, James and Dorothy Collins; one brother, David Collins; great-nephews, Brian and Eric Lloyd; and her father-in-law, George Stoffa.

Visitation will be held Thursday, March 17, from 2 to 8 p.m., with the Rosary to be said at 2 p.m. at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A Mass to celebrate Shirley’s life will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Gall Church, Elburn, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. Father Karl Ganss will officiate, and interment will follow at St. Gall Cemetery, Elburn.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name. Checks may be made to the Shirley Stoffa Memorial and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Memories and tributes may be forwarded to the family at the same address or on the web at For further information, call (630) 365-6414.

Nellie Rose McCannon

Nellie Rose McCannon, 93, of Wheaton, Ill., passed away on Friday, March 11, 2011, at Wyndemere Retirement Center, where she moved in 1997 after a longtime residence in Madison, Wis.

She was born on Dec. 29, 1917, in Sugar Grove, the only daughter of the late Benjamin and Bena (Willis) McCannon.

Miss McCannon was on the University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty for 37 years; 10 years of that at the Milwaukee County Extension Office. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University and her Master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She joined the Agricultural Journalism Department to head their home economics journalism major. She handled the home economics news service and taught news writing and feature writing classes. She was also president of the Wisconsin Home Economics Association and on the board of the American Home Economics Association. There, she started a communications section and served as its first chair.

She initiated a yearly workshop for female editors and reporters in the state, and she was president of the Madison chapter of Women in Communications.

Working with international graduate students led her to a project with Mexican home agents, an assignment in Indonesia, and several trips around the world, including visiting all seven continents.

Miss McCannon is survived by her brother, Ben (Jayne) McCannon; sister-in-law, Vivian McCannon; eight nieces and nephews; and numerous great- and great-great-nieces and nephews.

Along with her parents, she is preceded in death by her brothers, Frank (Helen) McCannon, Willis (Grace) McCannon and John McCannon; nephews, Michael McCannon, Dennis McCannon and David McCannon.

Memorials may be made to the Nellie McCannon Life Science Communications Fund, UW Foundation, 1848 University Ave., Madison, WI 53708.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, March 19, from 10 a.m. until time of service at noon at The Healy Chapel, 370 Division Dr., Sugar Grove, IL 60554. Burial will take place at Jericho Cemetery.

For information please call (630) 466-1330 or visit to sign the online guestbook.

LivingWell presents info on vitamins, supplements, and cancer treatment

GENEVA—Christopher George, MD, of LaGrange Oncology Associates/Delnor Hospital, and Sandra Hunter, Registered Dietician of Delnor Hospital will present “The Truth about Vitamins and Supplements in Cancer Treatment,” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, at the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, 1803 W. State St. in Geneva.

Dr. George will cut through the conflicting information about vitamins, herbs and other supplements, discuss their safety, and provide an update on what the research shows for the use of these therapies during and after cancer treatment.

“A well-balanced diet is the foundation of good nutrition before, during and after cancer therapy,” Dr. George said. “Still, there can sometimes be a role for vitamin and other dietary supplements as an adjunct to the healthy foods we eat. This talk should help clarify when this is appropriate, as well as explore potential dangers in using supplements indiscriminately.”

Hunter, RD, LDN, MS, will also discuss the functions of nutrients and what may or may not be right for a person to include in their diet during or after cancer treatment.

“Eating healthy during cancer treatment is important for the healing process,” Hunter said. “Your body needs a variety of nutrients to help recover and feel good. While eating nutrient-rich foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains is safe, taking dietary supplements may not offer the same benefits.”

This program is free and open to the public, but registration is required at (630) 262-1111.

James Bond novelist to speak at WCC

Photo: Raymond Benson, author of “The James Bond Bedside Companion” and six original Bond novels, will speak at Waubonsee Community College’s Sugar Grove Campus at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22 and Tuesday, March 29. Tickets for the shows are available at Courtesy Photo

SUGAR GROVE—The mention of James Bond conjures up many images—fast cars, London clubs, shaken martinis. A small town in west Texas doesn’t seem to factor in at all, but that’s where author Raymond Benson was first introduced to the iconic character about whom he would one day write novels.

The fourth official Bond novelist, Benson will present “My Life with James Bond” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, in the Academic and Professional Center of Waubonsee Community College’s Sugar Grove Campus, Route 47 at Waubonsee Drive.

Aspiring writers can pick up tips at Benson’s “Writing Suspense Fiction” presentation on Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. in the Academic and Professional Center.

Tickets for each of these shows are $19 and available at All tickets are subject to a transaction fee. Individuals attending both shows qualify for a special ticket package price of $35.

Benson, who now lives in Buffalo Grove, Ill., saw “Goldfinger” in his Texas hometown when he was 9 years old.

“You have to remember, the Bond movies were the ‘Star Wars’ of that decade,” Benson said. “They were the movies kids and adults wanted to see; the movies people lined up around the block for. And it opened up a fantasy world that I hadn’t known existed.”

By the end of 1965, Benson had gone back to see the first two Bond movies in a double bill, caught the fourth one in the theater and had read almost all of the original Bond novels by Ian Fleming.

So it’s no surprise that when deciding to transform himself from a theater director to a writer in the early 1980s, Benson’s first project was a nonfiction book about the world of the famous fictional super spy.

“I wanted to create a kind of encyclopedia of James Bond, because at that time there was nothing like that,” Benson said. “I wanted to create something that covered everything—the films, the books, a biography of Fleming, a history of the character, etc.”

After three years of research, during which he traveled to England to meet some of Fleming’s family members and original literary agent, Benson’s “The James Bond Bedside Companion” was published in 1984.

The book apparently made an impression on the people at Ian Fleming Publications, Ltd., because when the third Bond novelist was ready to retire in 1995, the agency asked Benson to take over the franchise.

“There was this feeling of disbelief, then terrible fright, then a feeling that I could rise to the challenge,” Benson said.

The first American to write the Bond story, Benson faced some small linguistic obstacles.

“The books are written in ‘English,’ not American but English,” Benson joked. “It took me some time to get a hang of that, putting the ‘u’ in ‘colour’ or using ‘lift’ instead of ‘elevator.’”

During his seven years working in the Bond franchise, Benson penned six original Bond novels, three film novelizations and three short stories. He still sits on the board of directors for the Ian Fleming Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Fleming and Bond memorabilia.

For more information on Benson’s presentations, call Community Education at (630) 466-2360.

Cherished Children: Grief support for parents

GENEVA—Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice is offering Cherished Children, a support group for parents whose child has died, from March 16 to April 27, 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the FVVH offices, 200 Whitfield Drive in Geneva.

The group helps parents cope with the sorrow and emptiness in their hearts. Cherished Children provides a safe place where parents who are left to deal with an unimaginable depth of emotions can cry, question, remember and find ways to hold on to cherished memories.

An intake interview is required prior to registration. There is no charge, but registration is required by calling Carol Ann Richeson at (630) 232-2233, ext. 224, by Monday, March 14. Spanish interpretation is available.

Stewart named Illinois Honor Roll School

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—It is safe to say Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School is getting the most out of its curriculum.

John Stewart Elementary was recently named a 2010 Illinois Honor Roll School in the category of academic excellence, having maintained high academic performance from its students over the last three years. This is the second consecutive year JSE has received the Academic Excellence award.

The criteria to be eligible for the award is simple: at least 90 percent of a school’s students are required to satisfy Illinois state test standards in the areas of math and reading for three consecutive years while maintaining an attendance rate of 90 percent or higher.

This is technically the fourth consecutive year JSE has posted qualifying numbers in both attendance rate and test scores.

“The ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test) is what (the state) uses to monitor our achievement,” JSE Principal Laura Garland said. “We actually just took those tests again last week, and if all went well, we can make it five years straight.”

Garland said the Academic Excellence award is indicative of the team effort put together by JSE staff and also the effort of students and support from parents. She called the award a “community achievement.”

“There’s no one person or even a sub-group of people who are able to accomplish something like this alone, and we’re very fortunate in our community to have parents who are involved, help hold the students accountable, and volunteer on a regular basis,” she said. “The parents truly support our staff and students.”

According to Garland, JSE’s primary goal is to reach out and meet the needs of every student, not pursue outside recognition and awards. Therefore, a lot of work has been done with the incorporation of Response to Intervention to make sure students are meeting and exceeding standards. She claims this simplistic, unified approach is the secret to maintaining such an effective learning environment.

“Response (to) Intervention is a program that we’ve implemented throughout all of our elementary buildings, and it’s truly a don’t-wait-for-students-to-fail type of model,” she said. “As soon as we see students struggling, we intervene immediately and provide any support that (they) need. We don’t wait (to see) a regression in skills.”

John Stewart Elementary was one of 459 Illinois schools to receive the 2010 Academic Excellence award.

Maple Park police partner with Run for Special Olympics

Maple Park—The Maple Park Police Department announced a new partnership with Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

Special Olympics is a nonprofit organization providing year-round sports, training and competition to more than 22,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Illinois. Through training and competition, Special Olympics athletes enhance their physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence and social skills.

Special Olympic shirts, hats, door prizes raffle tickets and Harley raffle tickets can be purchased at the Maple Park village office, the Maple Park Library, Big Dawgs, H. D. Rockers and the Maple Park Pub and Grill, as well as at various community events.

“This is the first year the Maple Park Police Department has become involved in this great program. We look forward to a long lasting relationship with Special Olympics of Illinois,” said Police Chief Mike Acosta.“We ask that our community also support this great cause.”

‘Share the Love’ clothing drive

Kaneland High School sophomore student council members decided to do an all-school clothing and toy drive the week of Feb. 14, posting flyers and posters for the “Share The Love“ clothing drive. The students also offered a pizza party to the winning third-block class as an extra bonus. When all of the clothing and toys were collected, the sophomores drove about 40 garbage-sized bags of clothing to the Goodwill store in Batavia. The winners of the pizza party were Tim Larsen’s math class and Judy Fabrizius’ Orientation to Family and Consumer Science. Courtesy Photo

Village Board discusses budget

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday evening held a discussion regarding its 2011-12 budget, including general, capital project, debt service, refuse and police pension funds.

According to Village President Sean Michels, the village general budget is currently in good shape, and the discussion’s main purpose was to help the Village Board keep an eye on ancillary budgets that they have little control over but still try to monitor.

Michels said the current general budget has a surplus of about $150,000, and will have a surplus of about $25,000 in 2012 when the fiscal year ends.

“It’s looking good, and I am pleased with how things are progressing,” he said. “By having the surplus, it shows that we’re being fiscally responsible and working hard to keep expenses to a minimum. What we’re doing is trying to put money back into the community by improving their streets and keeping our quality of life up.”

The village is currently focusing on day-to-day operations because it does not have a large surplus to spend on major projects.

“It’s kind of like the discussion we had at the end of tonight: what are we seeing (in terms of) economic development?” Michels said. “New businesses can have an impact on our budget, and we’re expecting McDonald’s to generate about $20,000 a year in new sales tax, so that’ll be good.”