KHS girls basketball having fun all summer long

Photo: Lexee Guerra, shown here going for a layup in Rosemont, Ill., is one Lady Knight seeing quality minutes during summer league play. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Summer has been no time for play if you’re Kaneland High School girls basketball.

Coach Ernie Colombe and crew have been keeping busy with shootouts in Genoa-Kingston, Sterling, Morris, Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and have one scheduled in Ottawa, Ill., this week.

The Lady Knights are also involved in a summer league housed by DeKalb High School, and last Thursday, participated in an exhibition contest against Plano at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., resulting in a win.

“We’ve played tough competition, and we’ve seen improvement. We’ve got the girls lifting and around 30-plus girls are with us right now. You want to see that kind of commitment,” Colombe said.

Colombe can speak from first-hand coaching experience on the benefits of summer league action. The team won eight of nine in a stretch last year, with the 30-game slate going a long way to an improved record in 2010-11.

“Kelly Evers is making her way back from injury; she’s our lone senior. The junior class is full of real competitiors,” Colombe said.

Stats and game scores generally aren’t kept for summer league action, but the summer-wide progress and trip to Rosemont are part of a larger picture.

“We definitely sold it to the girls as a unique opportunity, and they got to be on the floor when the Sky had their shootaround before their game,” Colombe said. “We hope the (sixth-season WNBA franchise Chicago) Sky keep doing something like this.”

The Lady Knights also dealt with a different environment.

“Like the boys when they would go to the United Center, the girls were faced with having their shooting be different. You normally have a wall by the basket, but at the Allstate Arena, you shoot toward seating.”

Colombe has the girls shooting it out all over the area, and thinks KHS has just scratched the surface.

“Evers and Ashley Prost are making their way back from injuries. We haven’t had a regular lineup since we started. Evers will be a force. Lexee Guerra has an improved shot. Emma Bradford could have a breakout year. Marina Schaefer, Ali Liss, Brooke Harner, Prost, Morgan Newhouse and Sarah Grams all play defense and play both ends, which is what we want,” Colombe said.

Area can help Illinois Hoops Hall of Fame launch

by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—Westminster Christian High School basketball coach Bruce Firchau is equipped with a brochure about the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum that reads, “For over a century, the game of basketball has played a significant role in the lives of thousands of Illinois residents. From small gyms in rural towns to large arenas in metropolitan areas, basketball has created decades of unforgettable memories and traditions in the state.”

For what Firchau is helping to get off the ground, that describes this state-wide passion project to a ‘T’.

Firchau has not only been an area hoops coach for years, including a stop at Oswego High School, but is also an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association representative and on the board of directors as chairman of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum.

“We are trying to spread the word throughout the state as really making this something memorable,” Firchau said. “The entire state can get involved and there’s plenty of memories from the Kaneland area, as well.”

The Hall of Fame Museum is slated to open in 2013 and housed in the David S. Palmer Arena in downtown Danville, Ill., roughly two hours south of Chicago.

“We chose Danville as a location because it was near Interstate 74, and it’s centrally located,” Firchau said. “Danville is very eager to have it.”

Blueprints and renderings are completed, but the true attraction of the museum will lay in the material within.

The museum will combine video, exhibits, interactive presentations, photographs and memorabilia.

Attractions will highlight players, coaches, officials, teams and media members who have made their mark with the game.

The museum will operate solely on contrbutions from private and corporate benefactors and individuals.

“This museum is going to be all-encompassing,” Firchau said. “Pro, college and high schools will be covered.”

“We have talked to Loyola about memorabilia concerning their NCAA Championship, Wheaton College about its Division II championship and North Park about its Division III championship. Sports information directors from places like NIU, DePaul and (University of Illinois) are all eager and have helped out,” Firchau said.

The museum will also deal with issues of the time, like segregation and the introduction of girls basketball to the Prairie State landscape.

Firchau also mentioned an ambitious exhibit of a school-wide roll call, from schools A to Z, operational to defunct.

This is just one of the many ways Kaneland residents can pitch in to get the future basketball mecca off the ground.

“If someone were to have a letter jacket from the old Elburn or Maple Park high schools, that would help,” Firchau said. “This has been a strong area for basketball. The girls basketball championship came here in 1982. There were coaches like Ron Johnson, George Birkett, and Bob Pederson in the past that gave so much back to the community. If someone wanted to contribute an old uniform or had old films, that’s the type of thing we’re looking for.”

The Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum can be contacted at: 100 W. Main Street, Ste. 146. Danville, IL 61832, and called at (217) 442-DUNK. E-mail contact is, and can be clicked at

Kaneland United Soccer Club U-9

Kaneland United Soccer Club U-9 team came in second place in the 2011 Oswego Soccer Tournament. Coach Derek Feiza (back row, left to right), Ethan Feiza, Shelby Hannula, Andreas Matarangas, Daniel Occhipinti, Tucker Jahns and Coach Joedy Jahns. Bailey Prichard (front row, left to right), Zach Smith, Rachel Richtman and Tyler Conklin. Courtesy Photo

Bet on 97

Kaneland Soccer Club U13 Knights 97 Black won the Rockford Watermelon Soccer Tournament on June 11-12, after a 7-0 win in the championship. The team finished the spring season with a 11-3-2 record with the defense only giving up 13 goals in 16 games while scoring 36 goals. The entire team attends Kaneland Middle School. The girls include Maggie Bend (front, left to right), Olivia Galor and Taylor Emigh. Lauren Ortiz (middle row), Becky Richtman, Taylor Zitkus, Kiandra Powell and Ashley Crotteau. Coach Jen Chapman (back row), Heather Ortiz, Sage Schlehofer, Vanessa Gould, Taylor Opperman, Bridget Ransford, Emily Chapman and Coach John Bend. (Nicole Koczka was not pictured.) Courtesy Photo

Guest Editorial: ‘We’re Number One’: Illinois pension crisis, part 1

by Chris Lauzen
State Senator (R-25)

I begin every conversation with a public employee or teacher who calls to advise “no changes” to their pension plans “Teachers g – o – o- o -d, majority of politicians b – a – a – a – d!”

In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, there is a scene where saboteurs are plotting to overthrow the king and one says, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers … ” When I read that sentiment as a schoolboy, I felt sorry for my friends who hoped to practice law. Now, as an adult, the current sentiment is to substitute “politicians” for lawyers.

Nineteen years ago, when you first sent me to Springfield, it was a big surprise to learn that a state government did not have to follow the same rules that every small business must follow regarding the proper funding of its pension obligations. If a small business owner did not deposit the correct amount, the first penalty was to lose the tax deductibility of those payments. If it happened a second time, the owner could be prosecuted and sent to jail.

Why don’t these serious rules apply to government?

It took three years for me, Steve Rauschenberger, Peter Fitzgerald, Pat O’Malley and Dave Syverson, the “Fab Five”, to gather support in the Illinois Senate and House to pass a fifty-year “mortgage” to pay back the unfunded liability that had accumulated before we got there.

We thought that we were clever boys by writing into the law that these annual payments for 50 years would have “continuing appropriations” status, i.e. the highest payment priority next to state bond payments before even payroll and other operating expenses. And, we fashioned an eight-year “ramp-up” of gradually higher payments each year, so that future General Assemblies had plenty of time to plan and gather fiscal momentum.

In 2004, Rod Blagojevich, his ruling majorities of downtown Chicago politicians, and their local enablers tore through that continuing appropriations mortgage like it was tissue paper and raided the pensions for the first time in a dozen years. Now in 2011, we face an unfunded liability for pensions and retiree healthcare that is many times more than all of the outstanding state bond debt that has been borrowed since Illinois became a state.

When friends who are teachers or rank-and-file government workers call to ask me, “Chris, you have always worked to protect taxpayers and fulfill commitments made under the pension plan, how can you be in favor of reform?”

The simple but painful answer is “The state pensions are bankrupt under at least two classic definitions of bankruptcy.” First, the pension and retiree healthcare liabilities exceed the assets put aside to pay them by more than $100 billion using very optimistic actuarial assumptions. Second, even if this governor and the majorities that have ruled Illinois for more than nine years wanted to pay back what has been shortchanged, they couldn’t. Without charging interest on the “mortgage” to repay these unfunded liabilities, it would take more than $350 million each month times 12 months each year for 30 years.

To put the amount of $350,000,000 into perspective, it is my impression that this is how much we all pay in taxes to fund community social service grants across the entire state for the whole year. To pay pensions is where your 67 percent income tax increase this year and forever is going to go.

Complaining and doing nothing about it will not solve the state pension insolvency. My suggestions were put into legislation and submitted for debate in January 2010.

First, we should eliminate future pension benefits for members of the General Assembly. It is a privilege to go to Springfield and represent our neighbors’ views on legislation … then we’re supposed to come home. We should not be compensated as if this were a “career.” When people say “That will never pass,” I point out that I successfully gathered support for a 5 percent cut in pay for state politicians two years ago and we over-rode Pat Quinn’s veto to make it stick.

Second, we need “Cap and Age” reforms for current state employees and teachers. Cap the runaway pension benefit amounts at $106,000 per year. These excessive benefits earn rank-and-file workers and teachers the wrath of their neighbors because people assume that “everyone gets those exorbitant amounts.” And, state workers and teachers must be asked to work until at least the early retirement age under Social Security of 62, rather than the current 55 years old. Seven more years paying in and seven fewer years taking out has an enormous impact on the actuarial projections.

Without these reforms, taxpayers will be milked and pensioners will face default on payments 10 to 15 years from now, when they are older and more vulnerable.

Next: The wider perspective on what’s happening in the state budget.

Letter: Summer Camp Shakedown

On the weekend of June 17, local Boy ScoutTroop 41 went on a camping trip to Sugar Grove United Methodist church property. This camp out was their summer camp shakedown. That means they did things the way they’d do things at summer camp.

The weather was scorching hot. Despite the weather, the scouts went geocaching and Eagle caching. Also, the Scouts made excellent food; the food was homemade and cooked in the heat. After a long hot day, the Scouts respectfully retired some old and torn American flags. All in all, the Boy Scouts of Troop 41 had a great time. For information on joining Troop 41, please contact Scoutmaster Dave Seraphin at (630) 466-4913.

Mark Wojak
Troop 41 Scribe

Letter: A great success for TriCity Family Services’ Great Lobster Fly In

On Saturday, June 18, seafood lovers and land lovers alike attended TriCity Family Services’ Great Lobster Fly In event. TriCity Family Services has been flying in lobsters and holding this unique fundraising event for more than 20 years. All of the proceeds benefit the agency so that they can provide affordable counseling and mental health services.

Supporters came to the Old Kane County Courthouse parking lot between the hours of 9 and 11:30 a.m. Although a forecast of rain was predicted, volunteers and customers soaked in the unexpected sunshine.

Through the professional services of Arthur J. Lootens & Son Inc., guests were able to get their lobsters steamed right on site. Guests had the choice of also ordering their lobsters live. Typically, steamed lobsters are the preference, and this held true again for this year’s event.

In addition to lobsters, there were beef fillets from Josef’s Meats (Geneva), a variety of breads from Great Harvest (Geneva), and cupcake boxes from The Latest Crave (Geneva). Through hundreds of food orders collected from supporters in the Tri-Cities area, over 700 lobsters and 100 beef fillets were sold. Through pre-event sales, TCFS raised over $16,000.

TriCity Family Services would like to recognize and thank Fona International Incorporated as the Presenting Sponsor for the event. Additionally, they would like to thank BFC Integrated Print Management for donating their services to provide all printed materials.

TCFS is proud to have achieved another successful year for The Great Lobster Fly-In, and is thankful for the tremendous support received.

Hallie Hudson
Development Associate
TriCity Family Services

STC celebrates July 4th

St. Charles—The annual St. Charles July 4th Celebration is a time for friends and family to get together for picnics, leisure, entertainment, and most of all, to commemorate our nation’s birthday.

The fireworks extravaganza, which is held on Monday, July 4, can be best viewed at Pottawatomie Park or Ferson Creek Park. This year, people of all ages will enjoy an outstanding pyrotechnic production—one of the largest and most industrious fireworks shows in the Fox Valley area.

This event is free thanks to the generous support of numerous local businesses. Main sponsors include the St. Charles Park District, city of St. Charles, First State Bank and the St. Charles Breakfast Rotary.

The Fox Valley Concert Band performs in the amphitheater from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Local favorite Red Woody rocks the stage in the historic pavilion from 6 p.m. to dark. The band plays a variety of music including classic rock and roll, contemporary favorites and great alternative hits.

In the event of inclement weather, the fireworks will be scheduled for the next clear evening. For more information, call the Park District at (630) 513-6200 or visit

A few reminders …
• Come early. Spectators are strongly encouraged to park downtown and walk to Pottawatomie Park.
• Do not activate your car alarm, because they have a tendency to go off during the fireworks.
• Spectators are asked to leave the grounds after the fireworks display has ended. Vehicle headlights are distracting to other viewers.
• Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on park property at all times.
• Fireworks, including sparklers, are prohibited in the park.
• There will be no canoe or pedal boat rentals on July 4 at River View Miniature Golf.
• Boy Scout Island boat launch will be closed on July 4.
• For emergency assistance, go to the Main Gate or Swanson Pool during the day and the main entrance of River View Miniature Golf Course during the evening.

Church changes name, keeps children’s day camp

by David Maas
Elburn—For a second year, the Family Life Church, formerly Faith Assembly Church, will hold its Keslinger Road Day Camp, geared for children aged 5-13.

The camp will run Monday through Friday, July 18-22, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This year’s day camp is themed “Living Water,” and will involve water-themed activities, including water park day, outdoor games, team games, sports, crafts, bible stories and songs.

“We had 50 kids last year,” said Karen Howard, “We are hoping for a healthy growth this year.”

While kids can be registered as late as the first day of camp, there is an early-registration discount.

“The cost is $85 per child,” Howard said. “But if registered by June 30, it is reduced to $70. We also offer multiple-child discounts, and full and partial scholarships.”

Parents can register their children and find more information about the day camp by visiting, by e-mail to, by phone at (630) 448-2290, or visiting Family Life Church, located at 44W555 Keslinger Road.

“We are very excited about this year’s camp,” Howard said. “And are looking forward giving kids the opportunity to have a blast in a fun environment, while helping them learn about God and making friends.”

Nominations sought for WCC awards

Sugar Grove—Nominations are now being sought for Waubonsee Community College’s 2011 Distinguished Contributor and Distinguished Alumnus awards.

Nominations must be received by Friday, July 1, and should be submitted to Kim Caponi, Waubonsee’s senior executive to the president, by calling (630) 466-7900, ext. 5703, or by e-mailing Official nominating forms are available at

The Distinguished Contributor Award annually honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions or given exemplary support to Waubonsee Community College. Employees and retirees of Waubonsee Community College are not eligible to receive this award.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is an award for outstanding graduates of Waubonsee Community College. It honors a graduate with a distinguished record in their chosen profession; contribution and service to their community; and a continued interest in lifelong education.

Kaneville installs new village sign

Kaneville—After months of planning and location searching, the village of Kaneville has finally installed its new village sign.

“That was a long haul to get the sign up,” Village President Bob Rodney said.

The board had some trouble finding a suitable spot for the sign, where it would be easily visible upon entry of the village.

“We just need to get together about finishing the project,” Trustee Pat Hill said. “We still need to discuss the landscaping.”

Before they do a grand revealing event, the board would like to install various flowers and bushes surrounding the sign.

Though they hoped to have the project done by Memorial Day, board members said they are pleased to have this project almost completed.

“The sign looks great,” Hill said. “We are all very pleased to see it up, welcoming people into Kaneville.”

Library recognizes volunteers

Sugar Grove—The Sugar Grove Library Board recognized 11 volunteers at the June 9 board meeting: Andrew Jacobson, Chuck Hughes, Jackie Conrad, Judy Juszak, Lori Petry, Rena Duffy, Sally Bruce, Sandy Young, plus three juvenile volunteers.

Members of this group individually provided over 30 hours of volunteer time to the library during this past year. They contributed 933.5 combined hours to the library. Thirty-four volunteers helped to contribute an additional 784 hours. These 45 volunteers have contributed 1,492.5 hours to the library.

In the last few years 13 volunteers have reached the milestone of individually donating over 100 cumulative hours to the library. New on this list would be volunteers Juszak, Petry, Bruce and two juvenile volunteers.

Volunteer projects range from folding papers to managing the library computer network. Many volunteer hours were dedicated to the process of weekly shelving activities and Program assistance. Many library volunteers also volunteer with the Library Friends. Volunteer time given to the Sugar Grove Library Friends benefits the library through the Friends activities but is not tracked by the library.

The Sugar Grove Library is located in Sugar Grove at the corner of Municipal and Snow streets.

Maple Park board passes debt service for water system

Maple Park—At a special meeting on Tuesday night, held before the Maple Park Board meeting, board members passed an ordinance concerning debt services for the village’s water system.

The board passed a debt services ordinance iin a 6-0 vote, although the increase will only be implemented if the village’s Illinois Environmental Protection Agency application is approved, Village President Kathy Curtis said.

The new rates rates will be applied to all who use the village’s water system. The debt service charge will be set at $6.55 per month, appropriated from the annual debt service for the water system.

The funds from the debt service charge will be used on present and future projects to improve the village’s water system.

Board clarifies fire ordinance

Change makes it easier to understand what is allowed
by Sandy Kaczmarski
Elburn—Backyard campfires can still be enjoyed around Elburn, thanks to some modifications to the village’s burning ordinance.

The board voted to clarify language on the size allowed for back yard fires, allowing the fuel pile to be no larger than 27 cubic feet and no more than two feet in height.

Trustee William Grabarek said he was concerned that the previous language of the fire being no larger than 3’x 3’x 3’ was somewhat confusing and restrictive.

“How do you measure a fire?” Grabarek asked. “By the flame, the spark, or the smoke? There’s no way to measure that, so you measure the fuel.”

The 3’x 3’x 3’ limitation is used by many other municipalities and is the acceptable standard in the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District’s rules and regulations.

“I felt that the strictness (of the ordinance) could be eliminated by going with a straight volume with a height limitation,” he said.

He said he suggested the 27 cubic feet because that’s what Kane County allows. He said it would still allow folks to have reasonable recreational fires in their back yards.

Grabarek referred to the book, “The Last Child in the Woods,” which addresses “nature deficit disorders,” the disconnect between today’s high-tech youth and nature.

“Kids sit six hours a day in front of a screen now, and their range for exploring the natural world has been cut down to about one-sixth what it was before,” Grabarek said.

“This would allow people to have a little campfire in the back yard, roast marshmallows and make s’mores,” he said. “Or just sit around and listen to it crackle and connect with nature in that way.”

The vote was unanimous. Police Chief Steve Smith said there have been no issues with runaway recreational fires in the village.

Plan Commission reviews ordinance text amendments

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Planning Commission at its meeting on June 15 reviewed a parking and loading ordinance text amendment, as well as an accessory and temporary use ordinance text amendment, that was recommended by the Planning Commission last month.

There was also a briefing on the West Side Industrial TIF District project that was discussed during the Planning Commission meeting last month.

“(The Planning Commission) reviewed the accessory use and temporary use ordinance draft in more finished form, but already had recommended it for approval at the May meeting,” Village Planner Mike Ferencak said.

During the meeting, which lasted about 15 minutes, the Planning Commission chose to continue the public hearing on the parking and loading ordinance text amendment to the July 20 Plan Commission meeting.

WCC adds to its student art collection

Photo: “Confusion,” an oil painting by Edward Manning, of Geneva, is one of 17 student-created artworks purchased by Waubonsee Community College for the spring semester. The works are displayed throughout the college’s campuses. Courtesy Photo

SUGAR GROVE—During the spring 2011 semester, Waubonsee Community College purchased 17 pieces of student-created artwork to display around its campuses. Through its Student Art Purchase Program, which started in fall 2006, the college has acquired a total of 108 pieces of original artwork.

Deirdre Battaglia, of Sugar Grove and Esther Espino of Maple Park both created artwork that was chosen by the community college.

Kane County redraws district boundaries

by Keith Beebe
KANE COUNTY—The Kane County recently approved new district boundaries, which will include reduction of its number of districts from 26 to 24.

The reduction is a gradual move in anticipation of when Kane County will have to reduce its number of districts to 18 once the county attains a population of 800,000, which is expected to happen sometime by 2040.

The redefined boundaries would be implemented in time for the 2012 election season. Districts are reviewed every 10 years, with the latest census having taken place in 2010.

Redistricting, by design, will take some of the load off of Kane County Board member Drew Frasz (Dist. 26—Elburn) and some other board members who oversee wide-spanning districts. Frasz currently handles Elburn, Maple Park, Kaneville, Big Rock, Blackberry Township, two-thirds of Sugar Grove Township, as well as small portions of Campton Hills and Virgil Township. The new district boundaries eliminate Sugar Grove and Big Rock from Frasz’ workload, leaving him with a somewhat smaller area to focus on.

“I am real happy (with) the way (the redistricting) turned out,” he said. “I have a nice manageable district. I enjoyed representing Big Rock and Sugar Grove, (but) I am kind of from the north end of my district, so I am maintaining the communities that I am really familiar with and have a great rapport with.”

Frasz said districts located on the western side of the county tend to be extremely large, as districts 25 (northwest corner of the county) and 26 combined cover 300 of Kane County’s 520 square miles. As a result of redrawing district boundaries, that 300 square miles will gain an extra two board members who will now handle some of the western townships.

“Instead of having two representatives, that (entire area) now has four, and that’s a good thing, in my opinion,” Frasz said. “I’m not complaining, but my district was extremely large—it had all, or parts, of eight different communities in it. The smaller rural communities, even though they are incorporated, tend to need a lot of assistance from the county for various services, so it’s a very busy district to represent. (Redistricting) will take some of the load off of me and (Rep.) T.R. (Smith, Dist. 25) and spread it around.”

Frasz also praised the work and research that went into the redistricting process.

“I’m really proud of the way our county handled this. We set up what’s called a Task Force, which is a smaller working group within the County Board,” he said. “If you look at what we did, as compared to how the state has done redistricting, ours was very nonpartisan and it was very fair to the incumbent board members. We used no consultants—everything was done in-house. It came out really nice.”

With the the board reducing its number of members to 24, one board member will retire, and another has chosen to not run for another term. Only two existing board members run against each other.

“It was very challenging (to figure out), and I am very glad we pulled it off, Frasz said.”

Rep. Hatcher launches new season of her “Foxy Readers” Summer Reading Club

YORKVILLE—State Representative Kay Hatcher has launched a new season of her popular “Foxy Readers” Summer Reading Club for area students who pledge to continue reading during their summer vacation.

“Not all education is formal,” Hatcher said. “I want to encourage elementary school students in our district to spend part of their summer vacation again this year exploring where good books can take them.”

Hatcher is sponsoring her “Foxy Readers” Summer Reading Club again this year in cooperation with area libraries. The club is open to all first through fifth grade students in the 50th district. Informational flyers are available by contacting Rep. Hatcher’s office or by visiting your local library.

Summer Readers will be encouraged to read at least eight books during their vacation, then list their books on the flyer and return it to Representative office by Aug. 1. Those who complete the reading will be recognized with certificates of achievement and invited to a certificate award ceremony and party in the fall.

“Foxy Readers” participating local libraries:
• Aurora Public Library
1 E. Benton St., Aurora
• Batavia Library
10 S. Batavia Ave., Batavia
• Charles Phillips Public Library
6 N. Jackson St., Newark
• Kaneville Public Library
2S101 Harter Road, Kaneville
• Maple Park Public Library District
302 Willow St., Maple Park
• Messenger Public Library
113 Oak St., North Aurora
• Oswego Public Library
32 West Jefferson St., Oswego
• Plano Public Library
15 W. North St., Plano
• Sugar Grove Public Library
54 Snow St., Sugar Grove
• Town and Country Library
320 E. North St., Elburn
• Yorkville Public Library
902 Game Farm Road, Yorkville

Eli Chance Miller

Matt and Tania Miller of Elburn announce the birth of their son, Eli Chance, on Jan. 20, 2011, at Rush-Copley Hospital in Aurora. He weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and was 20 inches long.

The proud grandparents are Tom and Rica Peterson of Shelton, Wash., Christina Miller of Batavia, and great-grandmother, Eva Peterson of Batavia.

Eli was welcomed home by his big sister, Delaney, 8, and his big brother, Calvin, 5-and-a-half.

Local residents take part in 4-H dog show

MAPLE PARK—Olivia Fabrizius and Grace Fabrizius of Maple Park, of the Just Say Nay 4-H Club, participated in the DuPage County 4-H Dog Show on May 21.

For Olivia’s last year in 4-H, she won with Grand Champion obedience, Reserve Grand Champion Showmanship and Overall High Point. She also won the Versatility Championship for the second time with her AKC chocolate labrador retriever named Nia Wiesbrock Fabrizius.

Grace showed her year-old Australian Shepherd, Jade Elizabeth Wiesbrock Fabrizius, for the first time and won Grand Champion Beginning Obedience.

Forest Preserve receives upgraded AA+ bond rating

GENEVA—The Forest Preserve District of Kane County announced that the international bond-rating firm of Standard & Poor’s has upgraded the district’s bond rating from AA to AA+/stable.

The upgrade is relative to the district’s general obligation bond debt and the proposed referendum-supported general obligation bond sale on June 13. Standard & Poor’s issued the rating for both current district general obligation bonds and the scheduled sale bonds of AA+/stable.

On April 5, voters approved the district to sell $30,000,000 in general obligation bonds. The money will go to acquire and preserve forests and natural lands, protect wildlife habitats, enhance flood control, improve hiking and biking trails, fishing and other recreational areas, provide nature education programs and improve forest preserves, wetlands and prairies.

Forest Preserve Finance Director Robert Quinlan said Standard & Poor’s attributed the improved bond rating to the district’s maintenance of a very strong general fund reserve. This strong general fund balance reflects the position taken by the Forest Preserve Commission that maintaining stability is in the overall best interest of the citizens of Kane County and the future of the Forest Preserve District.

“What this increased rating means for the citizens of Kane County is that the scheduled bond sale should benefit from lower bond interest rate bids, therefore resulting in lower property taxes levied to repay the new bond debt,” Quinlan said.

Local resident makes presentation at Illinois History Symposium

DECATUR—Millikin University history student Marissa Duffey of Elburn recently made a presentation at the 31st Annual Illinois History Symposium, held at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale’s Morris Library.

Duffey gave a presentation titled “Camp Douglas in History and Memory.”

“I am delighted that Marissa participated in the conference,” said Dr. Dan Monroe, assistant professor and chair of the Millikin history department. “Her panel had excellent attendance, and her presentation was very thorough and professional. Mark Sorenson, the president of the Illinois State Historical Society, commented on her paper and found much of which to praise. I am so proud of Marissa’s outstanding achievements.”

Local resident earns bachelor’s degree from Kettering College

Dayton, Ohio—After successfully completing requirements at Kettering College, Joanne Shona Cross of Elburn has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the school.

More than 280 graduates were honored at Kettering College’s 43rd commencement, which was held at the Dayton (Ohio) Convention Center on April 30. The commencement address was delivered by Frank Perez, CEO-Emeritus of Kettering Health Network.

Board OK’s pursuit of playground grant

by Sandy Kaczmarski
Elburn—There may be some new playground equipment next year at Community Center Park if the village is awarded an $85,000 grant through the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Program.

The Village Board on Monday gave the go-ahead to the Public Works Department to apply for the grant. The project would cost the village $42,500 after a 50 percent reimbursement when the project is finished. The project is slated to begin next year if the grant is received.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said competition for grant money is extremely high, and the village was denied a previous grant it submitted.

Jenna Cook, a Public Works employee who has been spearheading the project, said all of the playground equipment would be replaced and the sand would be removed.

“We would replace everything,” she told board members. “The sand is a bees’ nest haven. Kids have a lot of issues (with bees) in the summertime.”

Cook said the equipment is outdated and much of it can’t be replaced. The equipment also is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“The equipment is 25 years old, and it’s met its useful life,” Cook said. “Most parks (equipment) last between 12 and 15 years.”

Cook received bids ranging from $65,000 for equipment that would reduce the size of the playground by half, and $85,000 that would reduce the size by one-fourth.

The grant would cover the purchase of two pieces of playground equipment with more ground activities for the 2- to 5-year-old range and activities that are strength-oriented for kids 5- to 12-years-old.

A swing set would include two tot swings and two belted swings for older kids. All of the equipment is ADA compliant and includes a wood mulch to replace the bee-ridden sand.

The bids include complete installation by the vendor, but some board members questioned whether there were some things the village could do to reduce costs, such as removing the sand and grading the playground.

Board members said they would like to consider looking for a local excavator to help with the project and make the new playground more of a community project.

Village Board designates old hotel site as Veterans Park

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday voted 6-0 to approve designation of the old Sugar Grove Hotel site as a Veterans Park.

The Veterans Park is intended to honor those who have served the country, and is a green space intended for reflection, as well as celebration of holidays such as the 4th of July and Memorial Day. The Village Board at its Committee of the Whole meeting on June 7 was receptive to the design of the park, which includes a monument space, rear parking lot and a general park area.

According to a report from Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger, village staff met with the Veterans Park Committee (VPC)—the group responsible for the idea of the park—as well as the owners of property adjoining on the north side of the site, after the Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss the project.

“It sounded like it was a pretty good meeting,” Village President Sean Michels said.

The report states that the VPC wanted the old Sugar Grove Hotel site designated as Veterans Park in order to gather the funds that will go towards the park’s scheduled improvements. Village staff agreed with the VPC, and set a list of requirements that include: improvements and upkeep will be the responsibility of a not-for-profit group; insurance provided insurance to the village by said not-for-profit group; and the understanding that improvements made to the park will need a permit and/or village staff approval.

According to the report, the VPC intends for Veterans Park to not require any money from the village. However, staff time will be considered an in-kind donation. Michels said the village would not seek reimbursement as long as out-of-pocket costs are kept under $1,000.

3rd-generation local farmer honored by NIU

by Susan O’Neill
Lily Lake—Former Lily Lake resident and third-generation family farmer Leland Strom was recently honored by Northern Illinois University when he was presented with an honorary doctorate degree at the university’s graduate school commencement ceremony earlier this year.

Lisa Freeman, vice president of Research and Graduate Studies at NIU, cited Strom’s broad influence in the agricultural industry, both nationally and internationally, as one of the university’s reasons for recognizing him in this way.

“Mr. Strom currently has national and international responsibility for protecting and managing the assets of our agricultural industry,” she said. “His work has also included consulting worldwide with developing nations in the process of establishing financing and supply strategies for sustainable agricultural systems.”

Strom is currently Chairman and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration, which oversees the Farm Credit System, the largest agricultural lender in the United States. With $230 billion in total assets, the FCS is a nationwide network of lending institutions that provides a source of credit and other services to agricultural producers and farmer-owned cooperatives.

He is serving a six-year term as one of three members of the board of the FCA, a position to which he was appointed in 2006 by former President George W. Bush. Strom also serves on the board of directors of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation (FCSIC), which is responsible for ensuring the timely payment of principal and interest on obligations issued on behalf of FCS banks.

As a regulator, Strom said he is proud of the fact that because the FCS has built such a strong capital system, it has continued to attract private investors throughout the recent financial crisis, allowing it to continue to provide a reliable source of credit to farmers nationwide.

Through his role on this board, Strom also responds to requests from countries outside of the U.S. regarding advice on lending and credit systems within their agricultural industries. His previous experience has included travel to 15 countries world-wide, conducting agricultural research and analysis and working with the countries’ governments and financial officials regarding the finances of agriculture.

Strom began his farming education in the 1970s at Kishwaukee Junior College, where he studied agricultural business. He intended to go on to attend the University of Illinois to complete his education, but when his father’s health began to decline, Strom decided to stay close to home to help out with the family farm.

He was 20 years old when he began farming, while attending night classes at NIU in business administration. His family’s farm operation grew rapidly and soon became a full-time venture. At its largest point, his operation included about 1,600 acres in corn and soybeans.

During that time, Strom took on leadership roles in a number of agricultural organizations in the area.

He served as a director of the Kane County Farm Bureau Board and president of the Kane County Livestock Feeders Association, as well as several positions with the Illinois Farm Bureau, where he was a member of the State Young Farmer Committee from 1981 to 1985. He received an Outstanding Young Farmer Award for his overall involvement in agriculture.

He was also a member of former Rep. Dennis Hastert’s agricultural advisory committee for the 14th District.

“I became very aware of how both federal and state government policies and laws passed affect the agricultural industry,” he said.

Strom married, and together with his wife, Twyla, raised three children, two boys and a girl. Twyla, a native of Elburn, owned and operated a pre-school there for 15 years. His community involvement included a term as vice president of the local school district, chairman of the family’s church council, a 4-H parent leader, and coach of both boys’ and girls’ sports teams.

During the early 1980s, he was on the board of Northern F/S, a farm service and supply cooperative serving farmers in northern Illinois. He also served on the board of 1st Farm Credit Services, an Illinois institution responsible for $4 billion in loans to farming operations in the northern half of Illinois.

Although Strom’s leadership with the Kane County Farm Bureau predates his experience, current Farm Bureau Executive Director Steve Arnold said he likes to refer to Strom in advising young people starting out in agriculture.

“Through taking advantage of the leadership opportunities within the industry, he is an example of what can be achieved,” Arnold said. “He’s become a great recruitment tool for us.”

When Kane County initiated its Farmland Protection Program in 2001, Strom played a role in the creation of the program, offering his advice and recommendations.

“He spoke very strongly in favor of farmland preservation,” Kane County Farmland Protection Program Director Janice Hill said. “I certainly appreciated his leadership and his insights into the benefits of the program for the county.”

Not only did Strom speak in favor of the program, he was among its earliest applicants, Hill said. His farm was one of the first to be dedicated to permanent agricultural use under the program.

Although he and his wife currently reside in the Washington, D.C. area, their local farm continues to produce corn and soybeans.

Their youngest son, Tyler, a research assistant for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, currently lives in the family home, and their daughter, Amber, after a five-year stint in Wyoming and Colorado as a wildlife research specialist with the Department of Wildlife, recently moved back to the area. The couple’s oldest son, 31-year-old Derek, is a high-energy particle physicist at Cern, Switzerland’s version of Fermilab in Geneva.

“I am deeply honored that NIU has found me worthy of this recognition,” Strom said.

Strom is in good company among other recipients of honorary degrees from NIU, which include U.S. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, historian Arthur Schlesinger, U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and astronomer Carl Sagan.

Nothing gets these vets down

Army veteran Bob Arciola, assisted by Barb Arciola, uses a special electronic breathing devise to pull the trigger when shooting trap. Here he hits the target in the first round during the 15th annual PVA of America National Trapshoot competition on Saturday at the St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club.

Jack Gill, U.S. Army Airborne, (top photo) from Sioux Falls, S.D. ejects a shell between firings during the competition.

Steve Kettenhoven (right) of Clintonville, Wis. has Cerebral Palsy, but it didn’t stop him from becoming an expert marksman. His chair is set up with everything he needs, including plenty of ammunition.

Photos by John DiDonna

Church news for June 24

Vacation Bible Study
ELBURN—Vacation Bible Study will take place July 11-15, from 9 a.m. to noon at Community Congregational Church, 100 E. Shannon St. in Elburn.
Children, ages 4 through fifth grade, are welcome. The cost for the week is $10 per child.
For registration info, call (630) 365-6544 or visit

Lord of Life holds VBS
LA FOX—Vacation Bible School at Lord of Life is scheduled for Monday through Saturday, July 25-30, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The theme is Hometown Nazareth. For more information or to sign up, visit

Bethany Lutheran
Church holds VBS 2011

BATAVIA—Bethany Lutheran Church will hold its Vacation Bible School, “Jesus Chooses Us!” from Monday through Friday, Aug. 8-12, from 9 a.m. to noon.
The VBS is for children from 3 years old to fifth grade. To register, call the church office at (630) 879-3444 to have a packet mailed or sign up online, Bethany Lutheran Church is located at 8 S. Lincoln St. in Batavia.

A look at aviation history

Air Classics Museum of Aviation, located at the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove, held an open house on Saturday. Pat Boyle (right) of St. Charles is a flight instructor at the DeKalb airport and also served in the Korean War. Here he checks out a RF86 F Sabre jet during the open house. This type of jet was one of the first aircraft to break the sound barrier. People came from all over to see planes and helicopters up close and even climb inside some of them. Below, Luke Stoffer, 7, from Oakbrook, Ill., sits in the pilot seat of a UH-1 Huey helicopter. The museum’s collection includes aircraft, vehicles, uniforms and other aviation memorabilia from the 1930s to the present time.

Photos by John DiDonna

Lightning starts fire at Sugar Grove home

Sugar Grove—The Sugar Grove Fire Department on Tuesday was dispatched to the 200 block of Carol Street to contain a fire that was caused when lightning struck the roof peak of a house.

The lightning strike started a fire in the roof and attic of the house sometime around 8:34 p.m. Fire Chief Marty Kunkel said that the house suffered $95,000 in damage, with $75,000 of that total attributed to structural damage, and an additional $20,000 attributed to content damage caused by water.

“We were able to pinpoint the location of the fire and contain it in 30 minutes, and we were there for about two-and-a-half hours,” Kunkel said.

The family of four who lives in the house was present at the time of the fire, but escaped without injury.