Blackberry Township freezes 2012 tax levy

ELBURN—The Blackberry Township Board voted unanimously on Dec. 13 to freeze the Property Tax Levy for 2012.

“People are hurting financially and now is not the time to raise property taxes to fund bigger government,” Blackberry Township Supervisor Dave Richmond said following the vote.

Richmond said that this is the third year in a row that Blackberry Township has lowered the Property Tax Levy from the maximum allowed under state law. He said Blackberry Township was able to hold the line on the levy because the township did not spend money on projects that were not needed when times were good.

“Therefore, when times are not so good, we do not find ourselves in debt,” Richmond said.

Kaneville trustees discuss zoning, building code officer

by David Maas
KANEVILLE—The Kaneville Village Board last Thursday discussed the hiring of a Village Zoning and Building Code Enforcement Officer.

Also in attendance was Mike Stoffa, current Virgil Township Code Enforcement Officer, who is under consideration for the job in Kaneville.

“It is a very good idea to have an officer who doesn’t live in the community,” Stoffa said. “It makes it easier to treat everyone fairly, which is what I do.”

Stoffa made himself available to answer questions from the board, regarding what he would be doing if they hired him for the position.

“We’ve had a few residents worried about what he’d be doing,” Trustee Pat Hill said. “He wouldn’t be handing out fines left and right.”

“We’d want to do this with as much diplomacy as we could,” Stoffa said. “If I see something wrong, we’d start a process to get it resolved.”

Part of that process would be to help the residents start their projects the right way, so they are completed legally and up to code.

“Not everyone knows the ordinances,” Stoffa said. “It’s part of my job to know them and talk to residents, not fine them right away.”

While no decision has been made to hire Stoffa, the board has stated they will be compiling a history of current permits.

“The most important thing is that residents know we will be doing this fairly,” Hill said. “We aren’t looking to cause trouble.”

Dec. 23 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.

• Grand D. Wenger, 28, of the 1S800 block of Route 47 was charged with aggravated battery on Dec. 8 after a fight reportedly broke out at Knuckleheads Tavern. He was taken to Kane County Jail.

• Jason Anthony Gale, 34, of Sugar Grove, was charged Dec. 6 with driving without insurance and driving on a suspended out of state license.

• Richard A. Elias, 49, of Big Rock was charged on Dec. 13 with possession of drug paraphernalia after being stopped for crossing the railroad tracks at Route 47 while the lights were still flashing. Reports say Elias posted $100 bond and was released. He has a Jan. 6 court date.

Sugar Grove
• Ryan Z. Wilson, 25, of the 200 block of A Whitfield Drive, was arrested on Dec. 19 and charged with domestic battery.

Change of course demonstrates effective governing

See the story: Home rule referendum tabled—for now

The Elburn Village Board changed course this week when it decided to postpone a move to place a home rule referendum before the voters during this spring’s election.

The same group of people, acting as the Elburn Committee of the Whole, had recommended approving the referendum question the week prior.

According to our story on page 1A in this week’s edition, the change was based a few factors—1) public response that demonstrated no support for a home rule measure; 2) a lack of information as to the specific potential impacts caused by becoming a home rule community; and 3) a recognition of the viewpoint that there are more significant priorities the village must face first.

The public response
There is always a fine line between an elected official pandering to public opinion and taking the public’s viewpoints into account.

On the one hand, you don’t want officials who make decisions based simply on what is the most popular option. On the other, you do want officials who take their constituents’ opinions into account when considering a decision.

In this instance, the fact that Village President Dave Anderson said he received zero feedback that the home rule referendum was a good idea—while at the same time receiving plenty of feedback that it was a bad one—makes it clear that Elburn officials are responding to public opinion without pandering to it.

It is important to note that every resident is not going to agree with every decision made by an official, but knowing that opposing viewpoints will be legitimately considered should go a long way to building a measure of trust between a governmental body and its constituents.

Lack of information
If the village had pursued the home rule referendum and it passed on election day, the village would have more taxing authority, as well as zoning authority. But what does that specifically mean to Elburn officials and residents?

Are there protective measures that the village government could take to ensure that the existing or future boards refrain from taking their newfound powers to the extreme?

At Monday’s Village Board meeting, Elburn resident Gene Taylor summed up this point perfectly: “We’re being taxed to death,” he said. “What scares me is the tax (powers). Everybody knows that once any governmental body gets the power to tax, tax, tax, it becomes abused. It’s getting to the point where enough is enough.”

One of the biggest unknowns has to do with the future: even if today’s board would act in a responsible manner with its newfound authority, how can anyone be sure what future boards would do?

Other priorities
During the meeting, Village Board member Ken Anderson pointed out that the village should focus on resolving its police pension and financial issues first, and the home rule issue could be revisited later.

With the choice that either residents will have to pass a referendum raising their taxes in a down economy or the village will have to begin figuring out how to limit the negative impacts to its essential services provided, it seems clear that village residents and their local government clearly have issues to address that will have significant impacts in the very near future.

Changing to home rule and the financial issues facing the village both would likely fundamentally change how the village government operates, and how it raises revenue to pay for it all. It makes sense to address one issue first, before tackling the other.

We’re glad to see the village take a step back and reassess if this is the right time to put the question before voters. There are many things facing both local voters and local governmental bodies.

A group of officials who recognize that more thought is needed before reacting to those challenges is a group we should be happy are in office.

Knights take care of conference business

Photo: It’s not football season, but Drew David (11) makes a dive for a loose ball in the first quarter during Friday night’s 58-46 conference win over rival DeKalb. The win propelled the Knights to 6-3. Photo by Patti Wilk

Neil helps KHS boys defend turf vs. DeKalb
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With DeKalb coming in to Maple Park on Friday evening, Kaneland boys basketball would need players with a sense of the big stage.

That designation happened to belong to Marcel Neil on Friday, which segued to a winning effort, and also means encouraging things for Kaneland’s fortunes entering 2012.

With 28 points, Kaneland’s Neil helped Kaneland to a 58-46 win and to a 6-3 record (3-0 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Neil’s big night was a result of his smooth transition from the West Aurora program.

“It’s awesome, I love it here,” Neil said. “Everybody’s friendly and it was so easy to get into the flow of things.”

With DeKalb coming in, Neil found it was easy to do what he was best at.

“I was getting a lot of open shots, backdoor cuts and ball screens, and it was a lot easier because of my teammates,” Neil said.

The Knights burst out to a 24-12 lead on DeKalb (2-6) after one quarter of action, and saw the lead hold firm at 34-19 for the locker room trip.

DeKalb’s game solidified as they hit six of eight shot attempts, and seven of 10 in the third quarter.

Neil hit two baskets, including one down low, and Tyler Heinle jacked a three-pointer, but DeKalb closed the deficit to 41-34 before the end of the third frame.

With four consecutive successful shots, the Barbs tightened the deficit to 46-42 with 3:42 remaining. KHS rallied by getting buckets by Neil and Thomas Williams (10 points) to make it 50-42 with 2:16 remaining.

DeKalb could only manage a free throw and a three-point play for the remainder of the clash, while Heinle, Williams and Neil were flawless in eight foul shot attempts to close the game.

“It’s a conference rival, and they were going to make a comeback,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “It was going to be one of those dogfight games. DeKalb fights real hard.”

KHS also dealt with the absence of Trever Heinle, who went down with an injury after a lay-up attempt in the second quarter. Heinle is expected to return shortly to game action for the Knights.

Meanwhile, in sophomore action, DeKalb beat Kaneland 52-50 despite 12 points from Connor Fedderly.

KHS enjoys the holiday weekend before heading off to the Plano Christmas Classic, edition 49, beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

This will be the third straight trip for the boys, who look to get to championship heights like they did in 2009.

Kaneland is scheduled to face either Morris or Sandwich on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 10:30 a.m.

The top five seeds for the upcoming Plano Christmas Classic are:
1. Rockford Christian
2. Yorkville
3. Kaneland
4. Aurora Christian
5. Belvidere

Wrestlers grab two Saturday wins after losing to YHS

Photo: Dan Goress recovers from a precarious position during Thursday’s 39-26 dual loss to Yorkville High School in a Northern Illinois Big XII battle. Goress came away with a 16-5 major decision over the Foxes’ Brennan Sharp. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Against conference rival Yorkville, the Knights (4-9) lost 39-26 to the host school.

In a valiant effort, wins were garnered by personnel like Steven Hlatko at 185 points, in a 14-5 win. 126-pounder Esai Ponce nabbed a 1:11 pin. 220-pound rep Ben Kovalick earned a pin just :52 in his match. 132-pounder Sonny Horn took a 4-2 decision. In the 138-pound clash, Dan Goress won a 16-5 major decision.

106-pound weapon Steve Gust earned a 6-3 overtime win, and knew pressure was on him to perform for a Knights squad closing the points gap in each Northern Illinois Big XII meeting.

“He already had a stalling call, and then it went to overtime and double overtime and just kept wrestling and came out on top,” Gust said. “You just put stuff together and we’re getting better each week.”

On Saturday in Maple Park, the Knights took on Rock Island and lost 42-27, beat Larkin High School 58-18 and edged former conference rival Geneva 39-36.

Against the Rocks, Ponce won over Rock Island’s Chase Wiggins 6-0. Dan Goress won his 138-pound battle 7-2. 189-pounder Matt Price emerged with a 12-5 win.

Encouragingly enough, the heavier weights represented by Hlatko, Kovalick and 285-pounder Zach Theis all earned pinfalls.

The Knights took six forfeit wins over Elgin’s Larkin Royals squad in a 58-18 win, and supplanted that win with pinfalls by 113-pound Connor Williams (1:53), 120-pound Luke Kreiter (3:05) and Price (5:31).

In the win over Geneva, pins were secured by Gust (2:36), Williams (1:38), Ponce (3:51), 132-pound Sonny Horn (3:30), Goress (1:42) and Kovalick (1:24). Price went the distance in a 3-0 win, as well.

The Knights get a break before hitting the mat on Thursday, Dec. 29, and Friday, Dec. 30, as part of DeKalb’s Don Flavin Invite.

L-P Cavs cave in Kaneland bowling

KANELAND—Good news emerging from Monday’s bowling encounter between Kaneland and LaSalle-Peru was that the Lady Knights reached the Super Bowl faster than this year’s version of the Bears.

The bad news is that said venue in Peru, Ill., failed to provide friendly enough surroundings necessary for a KHS win.

With a tally of 2,715-2,343, the Lady Knights fell to 1-8 after the final recorded bowling battle of 2011.

Right before last year’s holiday break, KHS was also at the one-win mark.

L-P’s Morgan Brandner took control for the Lady Cavaliers, thanks to a 514 series.

Kaneland was paced by sophomore Christie Crews’ 459 series and senior Seleana Isaacs 417 series.

Top games were bowled by Crews at 171 and Amanda Strayve at 163.

On an encouraging note, the JV crew emerged with a 2,168-1,955 win. The top series was bowled by freshman Mandy Felella at 461.

Kaneland’s bowlers enjoy the winter R & R before hosting Lisle on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, at Mardi Gras Lanes in DeKalb.

Lady Chiefs’ Rossler, soccer locks up accolades

SUGAR GROVE—Maxzine Rossler became Waubonsee Community College’s first ever two-time All-American soccer player when she was recently named a 2011 NJCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Honorable Mention All-American. The record-setting forward heads up a lengthy list of Lady Chiefs’ players who received post-season accolades. The Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) and the NJCAA Region IV recently recognized Rossler along with teammates Becky Bartos, Priscilla Diaz, Jessica Alvarez, Kaylee Berg, Valeria Farfan, Elizabeth Barnes, Gretchen Tyler, Cindy McDonald, Stephanie Salinas and Head Coach Leslie Ferguson.

As a freshman, Rossler, of Hinckley-Big Rock High School, was named the Region IV and ISCC Player of the Year on her way to being selected an NJCAA All-American Second Teamer.

She finished second nationally with 34 goals scored, just two behind the NJCAA’s top scorers. Rossler also was third nationally with a Lady Chiefs’ single-season record of 84 points, and tied for 12th in the nation with 16 assists. As a result, she was selected All-Region First Team and All-ISCC First Team, being tabbed the top forward in the region and number two player in the ISCC this fall. Rossler finishes as the Lady Chiefs’ all-time leading scorer, and either holds or shares 18 Waubonsee records. She was also recently chosen to the National Soccer Coaches Assosciation of America’s All-Central Region team for the second straight year.

Bartos, one of the Lady Chiefs’ team captains, was named All-Region First Team and All-ISCC First Team. The sophomore midfielder from Batavia High School was one of nine Lady Chiefs’ players that reached double-digits in points on the season. She finishes her Waubonsee career with 20 assists.

Diaz, a sophomore from Aurora West High School, spearheaded a Lady Chiefs’ defense that set a school-record with 15 shutouts. The team’s vocal leader, Diaz was chosen to the All-Region First Team and All-ISCC First Team after being selected the top defensive player in Region IV last season.

Alvarez registered 19 assists this fall to set a new Waubonsee single-season record. The midfielder from Oswego East High School was tabbed All-Region Second Team and All-ISCC First Team. She finished tied for sixth nationally in assists, and booked 13 goals to give her 45 points on the season.

Berg was named the top goal keeper in Region IV en route to being chosen All-Region First Team. A sophomore from Indian Creek High School, Berg carried a goals-against-average of 0.86 heading into the National Tournament.

Farfan finishing the season tied for 10th nationally in goals scored with 26. The freshman forward from West Chicago High School was selected to the All-Region Second Team and All-ISCC Second Team. She also was 10th in the nation in points with 65, and tied teammate Liz Barnes for 25th nationally in assists with 13.

Barnes was tabbed All-Region Second Team and All-ISCC Second Team. The midfielder from Batavia High School scored 11 goals before being sidelined with a knee injury just prior to the National Tournament.

Tyler, a sophomore from Indian Creek High School, was chosen to the All-Region Second Team. An integral part of the Lady Chiefs’ record-setting defense, she also managed to score three goals during the season.

McDonald was selected to the All-ISCC Second Team. Alternating from defense to midfield, the Oswego resident and Willowbrook High School graduate recorded 10 goals and a dozen assists.

Salinas, a sophomore from West Chicago High School, was tabbed All-ISCC Second Team. The midfielder booked three goals and five assists on the year, including one at the National Tournament.

Coach Ferguson was tabbed the Region IV Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Chiefs to the title for the third time in the last four years. In her eighth season. Overall, the squad’s group of sophomores won 35 matches the last two years.

Lady Knights win at Dixon in extra session

Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Lady Knights basketball was so chock-full with exceptional performances on Saturday afternoon, they needed an overtime session to fit them all.

With clutch free throws, long-range game and an improvement on foul shots, the Lady Knights came away with a 61-55 overtime win at the home of the Duchesses.

With the win, the Lady Knights enjoy a holiday break with an 8-2 (2-1 NIB-12) record to give to themselves before tournament action marks the end of the calendar year.

Kaneland was 20-for-46 from the field, and was lead by Allyson O’Herron, who sunk a team-high 21 points thanks to a school record-tying seven three-pointers. Ashley Prost finished with 14 points and made two clutch shots in OT.

Sarah Grams had 12 points, and also hit the game-tying foul shots with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation to knot the contest at 50.

The Lady Knights were also 13-for-19 from the charity stripe, helping to offset an attack lead by Dixon’s Brooke Bailey, who had a game-high 24 points.

KHS got out to an ideal start, leading Dixon 13-9, before seeing the deficit shrink to 25-24 at halftime.

Dixon took a 38-36 lead after three, setting the stage for the fourth and extra session.

Meanwhile, the sophomores took care of business against Dixon by a 47-28 clip. Caroline Heimerdinger had 14 points in the winning effort.

Ahead for KHS girls hoops lies the usual Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic, which begins on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 10:30 a.m. against Metea Valley. The Lady Knights are scheduled to face either Andrew or Plainfield North on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Local resident joins Castle Bank Mortgage team

SUGAR GROVE—Kara Morris recently joined Castle Bank as a mortgage loan originator. She will be located at Castle Bank in Sugar Grove.

Morris’ seven years of mortgage experience, as well as an extensive sales background, has given her expert knowledge on what it takes to give quality service.

“I feel the most rewarding part of being a mortgage loan officer is assisting my clients in making their dreams of homeownership a reality,” she said.

Morris resides in the Elburn/Maple Park area and is the proud mother of three Kaneland students. She is actively involved in the community she calls home and volunteers with the Kaneland PTO and various church activities, including youth group and missions projects. She is a member of the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and the Fox Valley Realtors Association.

“We are very happy to have Kara on board,” Castle Bank Mortgage Sales Manager Brian Schrader said. “Her background and customer service skills will further enhance Castle Bank’s level of quality service to customers and the community.”

Local residents honored by AU for milestone service

AURORA—James Lancaster, Deborah Stevens-Marchigiani, Amy Manion and Eileen Trnka—all of Sugar Grove, and Marilyn Campbell of Maple Park, were among Aurora University and George Williams College employees honored for five to 45 years of service at the annual fall convocation.

AU President Rebecca Sherrick presented the service awards in Crimi Auditorium to employees from the Aurora and Wisconsin campuses.

Campbell was honored for 30 years of service; Lancaster for 25 years of service; Stevens-Marchigiani and Manion for 10 years of service; and Trnka for five years of service.

Daughter of SG family complete U.S. Navy basic training

North Chicago, Ill.—Navy Seaman Recruit Tahara Williams, daughter of Donna and Harvey Williams of Sugar Grove, recently completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes Naval Base in North Chicago, Ill.

During the eight-week program, Williams completed a variety of training that included classroom study and practical instruction on naval customs, first aid, firefighting, water safety and survival, and shipboard and aircraft safety. An emphasis was also placed on physical fitness.

The capstone event of boot camp is “Battle Stations,” an exercise that gives recruits the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the fleet. “Battle Stations” is designed to galvanize the basic warrior attributes of sacrifice, dedication, teamwork and endurance in each recruit through the practical application of basic Navy skills and the core values of honor, courage and commitment. Its distinctly ”Navy” flavor was designed to take into account what it means to be a sailor.

Williams is a 2010 graduate of Utah State University and a 2006 graduate of Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati.

Hansen, Swieca join Aurora University chapter of national honor society

AURORA—Sophomores Jordan Hansen and Natalie Swieca, both of Sugar Grove, were among 103 Aurora University sophomores inducted into the AU chapter of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

Hansen is a nursing major and is a graduate of Rosary High School. Swieca is a special education major who graduated from Kaneland High School.

Candidates must be full-time students for two semesters and earn a 3.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale for at least one semester during their freshman year.

Waubonsee exhibit features faculty work

SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College will host its annual art faculty exhibition now through Jan. 14 in the Dickson Center’s Arrowhead Room on the Sugar Grove Campus, Route 47 at Waubonsee Drive.

Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The exhibit features 23 works, including sculpture, ceramics, paintings, drawings and photographs.

The 13 faculty artists include Doug Jeppesen of Sugar Grove and James Kearns of Montgomery.

Sugar Grove’s Quinn, Weigelmann, White Illinois State Scholars

AURORA—Three Sugar Grove seniors at Marmion Academy were named Illinois State Scholars: Stuart Quinn, Reid Weigelmann and Bradley White.

Rankings are based on a combination of ACT and/or SAT test score results and class rank in the top 10 percent of the state’s graduating seniors at the end of the junior year of high school—unless the students achieved a score at or above the 95th percentile for Illinois students on one of the standardized tests.

Sugar Grove’s Zauner receives gold medal in preschool teaching

SUGAR GROVE—Samantha Zauner of Sugar Grove was awarded the Gold Medal in the Preschool Teaching competition (post-secondary/college level) at the 2011 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo., during a competition earlier this year.

Zauner has been a member of SkillsUSA since her senior year in high school and has placed first in the state in 2008, 2010 and 2011.The 2008 Kaneland High School graduate is currently a student at Illinois State University, where she is pursuing a double major in special education.

While in high school, she received her education in Early Childhood from the district’s Fox Valley Career Center’s Early Childhood Program, where she realized her calling as a teacher and specifically to help those with special needs.

In order to qualify for the national competition, students competed in local and state contests. The state gold medal winners advanced to the national SkillsUSA Championships.

Elburn’s Maras, Butts featured in Christmas at Augustana

ROCK ISLAND, Ill.—Senior Kailey Maras and sophomore Emily Butts, both from Elburn, were featured in the fourth annual Christmas at Augustana College’s holiday concert during the first weekend in December.

More than 300 students in the college’s choirs, brass ensemble and orchestra performed to share music with audience members in what was a warm and memorable holiday experience for all.

Maras is majoring in music education vocal and Butts is majoring in elementary education.

Local resident serves as student senator at Benedictine University

LISLE, Ill.—Kevin Webster, a political science major from Elburn, is a member of the Student Senate at Benedictine University.

Serving as a liaison between the student body and the administration, the Student Senate is a powerful influence on campus. It seeks to enhance the school’s cultural and social environment, promotes academic honesty, and pushes for improving technology in the classroom and throughout campus.

Navy Seaman Justus completes basic training

North Chicago, Ill.—Navy Seaman Benjamin Justus, son of Julie A. and Jody A. Justus of Sugar Grove, completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes Naval Base, in North Chicago, Ill.

During the eight-week program, Justus completed a variety of training that included classroom study and practical instruction on naval customs, first aid, firefighting, water safety and survival, and shipboard and aircraft safety. An emphasis was also placed on physical fitness.

The capstone event of boot camp is “Battle Stations”. This exercise gives recruits the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the fleet.

Justus is a 2010 graduate of Kaneland High School of Maple Park, Ill.

St. Peter Church Christmas, New Year Mass Schedule

GENEVA—St. Peter Church in Geneva will host Christmas Eve Mass on Saturday, Dec. 24, at 4 (in church and gym), 6:30 and 10 p.m.; Christmas Day Mass on Sunday, Dec. 25, at 7, 9 and 11 a.m.; New Year’s Eve Mass on Saturday, Dec. 31, at 4:30 p.m.; and New Year’s Day Mass on Sunday, Jan. 1, at 7, 9 and 11 a.m.

There will be no 5 p.m. Mass on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Christmas worship at St. Charles Episcopal Church

ST. CHARLES—St. Charles Episcopal Church, 994 N. 5th Ave. (Route 25) in St. Charles, invites the community to its Christmas worship on Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24. Three services will be held that day: a Creche Service with Holy Eucharist at 4:30 p.m., which is especially appropriate for families with young children. A Holy Eucharist at 7:30 p.m.; and a hymn sing lead by the adult choir at 10 p.m., followed by a Eucharist service at 10:30 p.m. Christmas Day Holy Eucharist will be held at 10 a.m. St. Charles Episcopal Church is handicapped accessible.

For more information, call (630) 584-2596 or visit

Additional Christmas Eve Masses at St. Gall

ELBURN—To accommodate the large number of families attending Mass on Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24, St. Gall Church will provide two 4 p.m. Masses that day; one in the church and one in the parish hall.

Fr. Karl Ganss will preside at the church Mass, and Fr. William Etheredge, a priest from Aurora Central Catholic High School, will officiate in the hall. Children from the parish will present a Christmas pageant at each Mass.

Other Christmas Eve Vigil Masses include a 6 p.m. Mass with carols and a 10 p.m. Mass with music provided by the traditional choir. The 10 p.m. Mass will be preceded by Christmas carols, beginning at 9:30 p.m. Masses for Christmas Day are at 8 , 9:30 and 11 a.m.

To mark the celebration of the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary on Jan. 1, St. Gall will provide three Masses to usher in the New Year. The New Year’s Eve Mass on Saturday, Dec. 31, will be at 4:30 p.m. Masses for New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, are at 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m.

Jan. 1 is the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, also known as World Peace Day, and is a holy day of obligation. Active Catholics make it a point to attend Mass on this feast day.

For more information, call (630) 365-6030.

Hosanna! Lutheran Christmas services

ST. CHARLES—Hosanna! Lutheran Church will host Christmas Eve worship services on Saturday, Dec. 24. A children’s service (great for families with small children) will be held at 3 p.m.; a contemporary service will be held at 5 p.m.; and traditional services will be held at 9 and 11 p.m. There will be a Christmas Day service on Sunday, Dec. 25, at 11 a.m.

Holy Communion will be celebrated at all five services, while handheld candles will be part of Christmas Eve worship at 5, 9 and 11 p.m. Everyone in the community is welcome to attend.

For more information contact the church office at (630) 584-6434, visit or e-mail

Hosanna! Lutheran Church is located at 36W925 Red Gate Road (entrance just east of Randall Road) in St. Charles.

Keith Downen

Keith E. Downen, 39, of Princeville, Ill., died Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, at his residence.

Keith was born June 23, 1972, in Rockford, Ill., the son of Stephen W. and Katie L. Holtz Downen.

He married Mary J. Neville on Sept. 6, 1997, in St. Charles, who survives him. Also surviving are his parents in Kaneville; a son, Dean of Princeville; two daughters, Faith Sampson of Princeville and Keli Bell of Millbrook, Ill.; and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by one brother, Dean in 1986, and his grandparents.
Keith worked as a locomotive engineer for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for the past seven years.

Funeral services were held Saturday, Dec. 17, at Princeville United Methodist Church. Cremation followed the services.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Downen Memorial established at The Better Banks, Dunlap. Hammitt-Hott Funeral Home, Princeville, is in charge of arrangements. Private condolences may be made to the family via

Letter: Elburn Chamber thanks Lions Club for Pork Chop Dinner

The Elburn Chamber of Commerce would like to extend a great thank you to the Lion’s Club for the wonderful pork chop dinner provided to our community.

We would also like to thank all the residents who purchased tickets for the fundraisers, the volunteers who helped make this happen and, of course, all the chamber businesses who sold tickets for this fundraiser. Because of the generous support of many businesses, the chamber was able to donate 20 tickets for meals to the Elburn Food Pantry. Thank you, everyone.

Cindy Gurke
Elburn Chamber of Commerce

Letter: Thank you for supporting fire safety education

As participants in the Elburn Christmas Walk, the Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District Fire Prevention Bureau would like to thank everyone for their support.

This year, the weather was perfect for some family fun, as well as education in fire safety. Annually, we host an open house that includes a live and artificial Christmas tree burn to demonstrate the need for smoke alarms and sprinkler systems in residences and businesses. This has been quite a popular attraction in years past, and we are happy to say it was again this year.

Our desire for education in fire safety requires assistance from local businesses and residents to be successful. The Fire Prevention Bureau would like to thank the following businesses and individuals for their donations of live trees, artificial trees, Christmas lights, wrapping paper and building materials: Home Depot of Geneva C/O Bob Brockman, Kuiper’s Family Farm, Lee’s Trees, Oswego Building Supplies C/O Bill McCartney, Rich Wrap, Spring Bluff Nursery, Greg Algrim, Monica DelMedico, Ian Engberg, Bill and Sue Hall, Bob Lennon, James Lloyd and John McCafferty. Your support of the Fire Prevention Bureau is greatly appreciated.

The Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District would also like to thank district personnel for volunteering their time to make the demonstrations possible. Your dedication and strong desire for education in fire safety is what makes our Fire Prevention Bureau such an asset to the community.

All of us join in saying thank you and we wish you a happy, safe and healthy holiday and fruitful new year.

Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan
and the officers and members
of the Elburn & Countryside
Fire Protection District

Kaneland pre-school screening

KANELAND—A pre-school screening for Kaneland School District children will be held Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, at Family Life Church, 44W555 Keslinger Road in Elburn.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children ages 3 to 5 years old to be screened for development milestones such as speech, hearing, vision and motor skills. This is not a kindergarten screening.

To schedule an appointment, call the Kaneland School District Office at (630) 365-5111, ext. 158. For children younger than 2 years, 8 months, contact Child and Family Connections for Kane and Kendall Counties at (630) 761-9227, ext. 117.

Elburn scholarship fund

ELBURN—The Elburn Scholarship Fund will again be awarding grants for studies at the college level. All applications must be postmarked no later than March 1, 2012.

Eligibility for Elburn Scholarships is limited to Kaneland High School alumni and members of Kaneland’s current senior class who will attend a local community college or one of the state universities in Illinois. High school seniors may obtain application forms in the Kaneland High School guidance office. Former recipients should follow their earlier instructions for reapplication.

Awards may also be available for Kaneland High School alumni whose pursuit of a degree was interrupted or who would like to pursue a new career. Such applicants should call (630) 665-2776 for instructions.

Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic achievement, extracurricular activities, citizenship, community and school service, and commitment to higher education as a means of enhancing potential for contributing to society.

Applications and supporting documents should be returned to: The Elburn Scholarship Committee, 611 Plamondon Ct., Wheaton, IL 60189-6305.

Bathrooms: the most germ-infested place at Kaneland? Think again

Photo: Amber Winquist-Bailey demonstrates what biology students do when they swab for bacteria. Photo by Delaney Stryczek

by Bryanna Stoiber
MAPLE PARK—Brin Wilk doesn’t consider herself a germophobe; however, small gestures some people make during lunch can really set her off.

“I don’t like the idea of someone else’s saliva touching my food,” Wilk said.

But the areas with the highest levels of bacteria at Kaneland are not the bathrooms, as many would expect.

According to science teacher Jennifer O’Hara, some of the most germ-infested places at Kaneland include wrestling mats and cell phones.

Biology students conduct tests every year to determine which areas have the most bacteria. O’Hara said that some of the places students swab are bathrooms, doorknobs, lockers, drinking fountains, railings and keyboards.

“The surprisingly clean areas at the school are the bathrooms and drinking fountains, because they are cleaned daily,” O’Hara said.

Yet O’Hara cautioned that the bacteria aren’t necessarily dangerous.

“Just because there’s a lot of bacteria on something doesn’t mean that it can be harmful bacteria,” O’Hara said.

Nationwide, the places with the most germs are also often unexpected places, a new study by the Kimberly Clark Healthy Workplace Project showed.

A team of hygienists swabbed hundreds of surfaces around six U.S. cities to see what everyday objects are breeding grounds for bacteria.

The most germ-infested places nationwide included gas pumps, mailbox handles, escalator rails and ATM buttons.

“It comes down to the fact that nobody cleans the things that you’re going to touch on a daily basis,” said Dr. Kelly Arehart, program leader of Kimberly-Clark’s Healthy Workplace Project.

Other highly contaminated areas around the U.S. include parking meters, kiosks, cross-walk buttons and vending machine buttons. Bathrooms didn’t even make the list.

The testers evaluated the swabs of the surfaces for levels or adenosine triphosphate, which indicates what kind of bacteria it is.

The results released by a Kimberly-Clark study show that more than 60 percent of gas pumps and mailbox handles and more than 40 percent of escalator rails and ATM machine buttons can be highly contaminated, potentially exposing people to illness-causing bacteria.

“People do not realize the amount of contamination they are exposed when going to work each day and doing everyday things like filling their gas tank or riding on an escalator,” Dr. Charles Gerba, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Arizona, said.

Between five percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population catches influenza each year.

Experts recommend frequent handwashing with soap and warm water as one of the best ways to avoid becoming ill.

Serendipity brings healing and relaxation

by Lynn Meredith
SYCAMORE—Whether you’re looking for a candle, gem stones and jewelry, or a healing herbal treatment, you will find a calming and peaceful environment at Serendipity, a holistic wellness and gift space in Sycamore at 1325 E. State St. Owner and practitioner Laurie Lipscomb has created a space that welcomes and comforts both customers and clients alike.

Lipscomb, a Northern Illinois University public health graduate, has been studying and practicing alternative therapies for over a decade. Through her own health issues, she found her way past traditional western medicine to Ayurvedic, the Indian version of Chinese medicine. Ayurvedic approaches health and wellness with nutritional, herbal and relaxation therapies.

“Things were going on with my health, and I wasn’t finding alleviation with western medicine. It was pills on top of pills. I started my own self-study. I eventually wanted to help people understand how emotions play into health, especially nutrition, which is not emphasized by most doctors,” Lipscomb said.

Her study took her to Kanyakumary in Milwaukee, a school that trains Ayurvedic practitioners. She studied the Ayurvedic system, herbs to treat pathologies and techniques such as Shirodara, a relaxing, full-body treatment where a steady stream of oil is poured over the forehead.

Interested in many different areas of health and healing, Lipscomb created a retail space where she can promote the things that helped her. The building on the east edge of Sycamore is deceptively small. Inside there is room for a retail store, a consulting room, treatment room and kitchen. There’s even a garden with fire pit where groups often meet. Serendipity offers workshops and classes such as a monthly Henna painting night with a local artist, chakra classes and healing with gem stones.

“I want to create a relaxing, not intimidating, atmosphere here. Most healing spaces try to mimic western medicine offices. It’s what our model is. I’ve found a huge key to (the client) having success is to feel safe. If you feel nervous, it hinders the process,” Lipscomb said.

Lipscomb said her clients first come to her as customers and come back to try her treatments. The store displays cases with jewelry that Lipscomb will custom bead, baskets of healing gemstones, books and aromatherapy.

“The stones are the biggest thing people come in for. There’s nowhere in the area where you can get these. People come in looking for gems to help with emotional and mental tension and to get rid of negativity,” she said.

Her treatment layers in different approaches using Ayurvedic herbs and bodywork that can help someone with issues other treatments have not helped. They can help with digestive upsets, hormonal imbalances, skin problems, pain and emotional issues. By looking at the client’s tongue, checking their pulse and even doing an Indian astrological chart, she can find where the symptoms are coming from.

“I always want to get to the root of it,” she said. “What I most strongly end up doing though is counseling. The classes have created a community of people. It’s surprising how many people are looking for that community.”

For more information, visit or call (815) 895-5500.

Photo: Laura Lipscomb of West Chicago stands in front of her unique business in Sycamore. Serendipity is a wellness and education center that specializes in ayurvedic (eastern/herbal) medicine and offers a wide array of treatments and services. Photo by John DiDonna