Going green

Solar power system now operational at Midwest Groundcovers
St. Charles—Midwest Groundcovers’ 99-acre nursery in St. Charles now utilizes 37.5 kilowatts (kW) of solar energy.

Realgy LLC, an alternative energy service supplier in Illinois, owns the solar photovoltaic (PV) system now installed at Midwest’s headquarters. As part of Realgy’s commitment to generating local renewable energy, Realgy funded the project and hand-picked Midwest Groundcovers as a test-site for the installation.

“We are excited to announce the completion of the Midwest Groundcovers solar project,” says Michael Vrtis, president of Realgy. “Realgy made this investment as a trial and looks forward to Illinois promoting renewable energy so we can continue to install and provide the benefits of renewable energy to businesses in Illinois.”

Renewable Energy Alternatives of Northbrook, Ill., installed the solar PV system on the roof of Midwest’s maintenance building.

“Midwest Groundcovers’ facility is a beautiful nursery and agricultural center. We are excited to contribute to the use of solar energy for Midwest to generate electricity,” said Renewable Energy President Bernie Schmidt of the installation.”

The Midwest Groundcovers solar PV system will produce over 48,430 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy annually and more than one million kWh over the next 25 years. This is enough energy to power approximately 13 average U.S. homes each year. The environmental benefits associated with the system will offset nearly 900,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over the initial 25 years of operation.

Gary Knosher, president of Midwest Groundcovers, is enthusiastic about the project.

“All of our products use solar energy since we are a plant nursery,” Knosher said. “Adding the ability to generate clean solar energy to satisfy some of our annual electricity requirements is really exciting and builds on our sustainable commitment. This is why our vice president, Stan Schumacher, initially pursued the project for us.”

“At Midwest, we have always considered ourselves responsible stewards of the environment, and the solar panel initiative naturally aligns with our company’s sustainable practices,” said Schumacher.

Midwest Groundcovers hosted an official Turn-On Ceremony for the solar PV system on Monday. Numerous green industry leaders and community representatives attended.

Renewable Energy Alternatives installs products manufactured to conserve, save and produce clean energy. For more information about this organization, please contact Andrew Patellaro at (847) 291-7693 or visit Renewable Energy on the web at www.renewableenergyalt.com.

Realgy LLC is an alternative energy service supplier providing natural gas and electricity to commercial and residential consumers in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Visit their website at www.realgyenergyservices.com or contact Michael Vrtis at (860) 233-2270.

Midwest Groundcovers LLC is an industry leader in the propagation, growth and wholesale distribution of quality container nursery stock. The company operates over 300 acres of state-of-the-art nursery production facilities at five locations in St. Charles, Virgil, and Glenn, Mich.

Visit Midwest Groundcovers LLC on the web at www.midwestgroundcovers.com. For more information about this project or to obtain photographs of the event, please contact Jill Bondi at (847) 742-1790.

Kaneland announces Hall of Fame inductees

Kaneland—Kaneland’s Hall of Fame is to honor and recognize former Kaneland students, staff members, organizations and supporters who have demonstrated excellence and commitment.

The following Kaneland alumni teams will be inducted into Kaneland’s Hall of Fame:

• 1982 Wrestling Team—on Friday, Jan. 13, at 5:30 p.m. at the boys’ wrestling meet at Kaneland High School.
• The 1977 Volleyball Team and the 1979 Girls’ Basketball Team—on Friday, Jan. 20, at halftime of the varsity girls’ basketball game at Kaneland High School. Game time is 7 p.m.
• The 1988 Boys’ Cross Country Team—on Saturday, Jan. 21, at halftime of the varsity boys’ basketball game at Kaneland High School. Game time is 6 p.m.

Community members are invited to attend the games to visit with and celebrate the achievements of all of these Kaneland Athletic Teams.

County Board votes for settlement with AFSCME

Kane County—The Kane County Board voted Tuesday to authorize an agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3966 concerning the 45 Health Department union employees who were laid off Nov. 8, 2010. The agreement includes a monetary payout and an extension of recall rights to three years, up from one year.

“This closes a difficult chapter in the history of the Kane County Health Department,” said Paul Kuehnert, Health Department executive director. “I feel this is a fair settlement for both sides. I look forward to working together with AFSCME, and our staff represented by AFSCME, as we continue to provide the essential services of public health to Kane residents.”

Each of the 45 union employees will receive $500, plus an amount that would have been received for 16 days of work and in short-term sick day accrual benefits had those employees remained actively employed through Nov. 30, 2010. In addition, the affected employees will be eligible to be recalled for employment for up to three years. This is an increase from the one-year recall included in the standard union contract.

The 2010 layoffs were brought about by a reorganization of the Health Department due to declining revenues from state programs administered by Kane County. The reorganization saw the transfer of a set of individual health services, such as mother-baby case management, to the three Federally Qualified Health Centers serving Kane County.

“Despite all the dire predictions about people falling through the cracks, the FQHCs have proved their ability to provide these important services,” Kuehnert stated. “This is a good example of responsible reorganization of local government in partnership with private community agencies, assuring that the Health Department can continue to provide the vital services of protecting and promoting the health of our entire community.”

New beginnings at Northside

Thursday, Jan. 5 marked the Grand Opening of Northside Pub at 117 N. Main St. in Elburn. Pictured are Village President Dave Anderson, owner Dale Pinion, Jessica Pinion, Hanna Jacobsen, owner Tracey Jacobsen, Gage Jacobsen, Chamber of Commerce member Joe Smitherman and Chamber of Commerce Office Administrator Cindy Gurke. Photo by Ben Draper

Jan. 13 Elburn 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.

• Nicholas C. Ames, 23, of the 1000 block of Spiros Court in DeKalb, was arrested by police on Dec. 31, 2011, and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, operating an uninsured vehicle and speeding 47 mph in a 30 mph zone.

• Kevin D. Patterson, 35, of the 2500 block of Westminster Lane in Aurora, was arrested by police on Dec. 23, 2011, and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding 74 mph in a 50 mph zone and failure to signal within 100 feet of intersection.

Hammering it out

Following series of meetings, Elburn Planning Commission recommends approval of plan for Elburn Station Development
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—In the final of three meetings that have been stopped due to time and the volume of remaining people with comments, the Planning Commission voted to recommend that the Village Board approve the preliminary plan for Elburn Station on Tuesday. The recommendation passed in a 6-1 vote, with Paul Molitor voting against the recommendation.

At public hearings in December and on Jan. 4, a number of residents spoke on issues small and large that related to the plan. Some, like Realtor Ron Rosecky, questioned the need for a development at all when so many existing homes go unsold or are in foreclosure. Others questioned specifics such as traffic lights and speed limits in the surrounding roadways. Those concerns that immediately impacted the plan itself were addressed by village staff and engineers, and their findings were brought back to the Planning Commission for consideration at Tuesday’s meeting. The Planning Commission approved the recommendation with the following conditions.

Emergency access road
into Still Meadow subdivision

At the request of residents of Still Meadow in unincorporated Kane County east of the proposed development, Sho-Deen agreed to do away with a plan for a through-street from Elburn Station into the subdivision. The Planning Commission came to a consensus that emergency access to the subdivision would be necessary in the likelihood of the fire station changing its location from downtown Elburn. They envision an access road similar to the one on the east end of Kansas Street that has a gate.

“It’s the testimony of the residents that struck me. I’m all for keeping the village of Elburn connected, but they are in Kane County,” Commissioner Susan Filek said.

Landscape buffer
Still Meadow residents also expressed concern that Elburn Station lots backing up to Still Meadow lots were incongruent in size. They pointed out that their one-acre country lots would be adjacent to quarter-acre city lots. They requested either a landscape buffer or larger lot sizes.

Sho-Deen changed the plan to provide a 30-foot easement off the rear property line of the lots that would be landscaped. The landscape would be maintained by the homeowner and would be part of the building requirement, according to Sho-Deen representative Dave Patzelt. Homeowners would not be able to build a structure on the easement, such as a shed or gazebo.

The commission discussed other issues, but ultimately left them as originally conceived.

Rental units
At the Jan. 4 meeting, Commissioners John Krukoff and Paul Molitor objected to the potential number of rental units in the plan. They argued that the plan does not specify the number of units that would be rental or those that would be for purchase, leaving the possibility that all the mixed-use area could all become rental.

“Is that number appropriate for a small rural town?” Commissioner John Krukoff asked.

Patzelt said that those decisions will be market-driven, based on how and when the economy recovers. He defended rental units as an up-scale trend with retiring baby-boomers who are downsizing. He also predicted many changes to the plan over the 23 to 30 years that it will take to develop the property.

“They (rental properties) will come incrementally. There will be lots of changes to the plan over the years. It’s a relationship (between the village and Sho-Deen),” Patzelt said. “We’ll see what the market brings.”

In the discussion on Tuesday, Krukoff acknowledged that the developer would have to have any of his decisions approved by the Village Board, and that therefore the village does have control over what goes in.

“It’s time to get this development going. I take the developer’s word that he’s not going to (put in hundreds of rental units). If he does, he’s going to have to come in and ask,” Krukoff said.

The timing of the phases of development was also discussed. When ground is broken, it is related to construction of the Anderson bridge by Kane County. Sho-Deen plans to start development from the south at Keslinger Road, northward. The only change to that plan would be if a big box-type of commercial development were to come in at the Route 38 end of Anderson Road.

The Elburn Station preliminary plan, called the Design Plan Guidelines, is available for perusal at the front desk of Village Hall.

Elburn Station facts
505.9 acres
2,275 residential units
176.3 acres of open space
22.5 acres of commercial use
17.75 acres of mixed use
9.66 acres of industrial use
The maximum density is
6.61 units per acre

The process
A development around the Metra station has been discussed by officials since the train station and coachyards were built in 2006. The concept plan for the development was approved by the Village Board in October 2010. In this phase of the process, the Planning Commission reviewed a preliminary plan and made a recommendation to the Village Board, who has the sole authority to vote and approve the plans. Discussion by the Village Board will begin at the Tuesday, Jan. 17, meeting.

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Elburn business owner suffers fatal gunshot

by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—Local business owner suffered a fatal gunshot wound in Elburn last Friday.

Elburn police at 6:42 p.m. responded to a report of shots fired at Precision Stone, 825 E. North St., and found John H. Heinz, 71, of the 3N300 block of Limberi Lane in St. Charles, lying unresponsive near the south fence line of the property. Heinz, the owner of Precision Stone, had been shot in the abdomen.

Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District paramedics transported Heinz to Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva, where he was pronounced dead by emergency room staff at 7:30 p.m.

Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith said police are not looking for any suspects while an investigation into the incident continues.

“The public isn’t in any danger,” Smith said.

Kaneland approves more than $10,000 in donations

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 7-0 to approve donations of $10,000 through the generosity of the Dunham Fund, $1,000 from Nicholas & Associates, Inc., and $500 from ARCON Associates, Inc.—all in support of fine arts in the Kaneland School District.

The board also approved a donation of $1,940 from Mike Dienst of Maple Park. According to a memorandum from Superintendent Jeff Schuler, the donation was made on behalf of Kaneland’s Future Farmers of America Organization representing planting, cultivating, plowing and harvesting crops in 2011.

Kaneland works on more budget cuts

By Keith Beebe
Kaneland—Kaneland School Board members on Monday discussed the development of a budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which is intended to reduce expenditures as a means to compensate for a reduction in revenue.

According to a document from Superintendent Jeff Schuler, the School District’s cost-reduction process reduced projected expenditures by $6.3 million over the last three years. Due to state revenue cuts, the financial projections for Kaneland’s 2013 fiscal year suggest a $1 million deficit.

Schuler’s memorandum presented and outlined three budget options for the board to consider: a balanced budget with reductions in the ballpark of $900,000; a more conservative approach that would seek to reduce expenditures more than the projected $900,000 deficit; and a less conservative approach that would seek to reduce expenditures less than the projected deficit.

The board chose the balanced budget scenario, but insisted on reducing expenditures by approximately $1.1 million. With that change in place, the board voted 7-0 to approve the development of the 2013 fiscal year budget.

“I believe the board had made a decision to adhere to the finance goal in our strategic plan. It indicates that we will balance our budget each year and provide the best quality education that we can, given our financial reality,” Schuler said. “That means we will continue to make some difficult decisions as we plan for next school year and will identify options for reducing expenditures by $1.1 million.”

As was the case the previous two years, the district will use a cost-center approach to identify and target categories of expense in the budget that are necessary to cut in order to ease the deficit. Cost centers include district, elementary, middle and high school services, as well as categories for transportation, maintenance and technology. According to Schuler’s memorandum, the district will attempt to minimize cuts to student programs and staff workload.

This will be the third year the district has used the cost-center approach.

Schuler’s memorandum states that school districts provide three basic services:

• The bricks, mortar, operational resources and instructional resources needed to safely house and educate children
• The teachers necessary to educate children
• The staff and administration necessary to guide and maintain the system and support teachers and students

“Our primary goal is to graduate students college, career and community ready. As we identify potential cuts, we will do so with that mission in mind and continue to provide the highest quality education we can,” Schuler said.

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said tough decisions lie ahead for the School Board.

“We have had to make some tough decisions in the last couple of years, and we will need to continue to do just that. Based on financial projections and the current economic uncertainties, the board has committed to meeting its fiscal responsibilities,” she said.

Elburn man dies in single-car accident

Kaneville Township—An Elburn man died following a single-vehicle accident on Monday in unincorporated Kaneville Township.

According to the Kane County Sheriff’s Department, Amien Swift, 42, of the 2S200 block of Route 47 in Elburn, was driving a 2001 Toyota SUV east on Lasher Road approximately one-quarter mile west of Harter Road when the vehicle failed to navigate a curve in the roadway.

The vehicle left the road on the south side of Lasher Road and rolled several times before coming to a rest on its top. At some point the vehicle caught on fire. The driver, who was the sole occupant, was not able to get out of the vehicle and died at the scene.

Police from the Kane County Sheriff’s Department were called to the scene at approximately 8:20 p.m., and an investigation into the accident continues.

Pet massage, swimming rolled into one

Ron Hanik combines both in nearby A+ Pet Massage and Swimming
Oswego—Ron Hanik of A+ Pet Massage and Swimming now offers canine massage and swimming in two convenient locations and economically-priced at 23 Washington Street in Oswego and 743 Edgewood in Wood Dale.

Hanik is a licensed massage therapist, certified in pet massage from the Pet Massage Institute and dog training from the Animal Behavior College. He also holds his MSW degree as a clinical social worker.

Loving pets and having acquired a dog with behavior problems, Hanik became interested in solving the problem of his dog and others. He began studying dog training and pet massage, traveling the dog agility circuit for two years. Ultimately he linked the two specialties, eventually adding the pool to the mix and opening first his Wood Dale location and, more recently, his Oswego location.

Swimming, providing non weight-bearing exercise increases muscle tone, aids in recovering from surgery and alleviates arthritic pain. According to Hanik, “Some dogs, when put in the water, are not able to kick with their back legs. But there are points in the paws that stimulate this ability and soon an immobile dog is working his back legs.”

Dogs are fitted with a life vest before entering the 82-84 degree pool that is equipped with a resting platform. Swimming is alternated with massage right in the pool.

Dogs come to Hanik for fun swims and exercise as well as therapy. Hanik performs massage on cats as well. His massage techniques help alleviate common ailments in dogs and cats and result in reduced joint pain, increased flexibility, alleviated internal organ problems and reduced emotional problems.

According to Hanik, “Swimming is the best play activity for your dog because of its low impact nature. It can be done through the dog’s entire life span.”

The greatest reward for Hanik is seeing the smiles on the faces of the owners as their pets improve.

Mat warriors finish 14th at Sycamore

Photo: Kaneland’s Austin Brummel (170 lbs) gets the upper hand with his Pontiac opponent during his match at Sycamore’s 37th annual wrestling invitational on Saturday. Over 20 schools competed in the event. Brummel eventuallly got the pin and the win. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s tough to stand out at a wrestling invite, 22 teams deep.

For a select few KHS wrestlers, they were able to barrel through their fields for some noteworthy finishes at the 37th annual Sycamore Invite on Saturday.

KHS finished in 14th place with 327.5 team points, ahead of Pontiac by 22.

Minooka won the meet with 585 points, 22.5 ahead of Grant High School of Fox Lake.

Host school Sycamore finished sixth with 464 points, as the only other Northern Illinois Big XII representative.

In the 126-pound group, Esai Ponce made it to the championship final and finished second. 138-pounder Dan Goress finished third, and Ben Kovalick took second in the 220-pound field.

Other finishes included Connor Williams in 10th for 113 pounds, Luke Kreiter in 18th in the 120 group, and Sonny Horn in ninth for 132.

Austin Brummel served in the 170 bracket and finished 14th, but made short work of Pontiac’s Jesse Carter with a pin in under two minutes.

“It was good to get out there and win,” Brummel said. “It was intense and a tough match, and I just tried to move around as much as I could.”

Teammate Steven Hlatko took eighth in the 195 pairings, and heavyweight Zach Theis took sixth.

Ponce began his day with a 1:04 pin over Moline’s Tanner Woods, then won by 5-2 tally over Rock Island’s Chase Wiggins. In the semifinal, Ponce took a 10-5 win over Harlem’s Tanner Anthony before losing to Crystal Lake South’s Nick Gil by a score of 2-0.

Goress’ day began with a 5-2 win over Grant’s Devin Monroy, followed by a 7-5 win over Minooka’s Jake DeKlerk, After dropping an 18-3 technical fall to Mundelein’s Matt Ornoff, Goress rallied to beat McHenry’s Wade Lardy in the third-place clash by a 5-2 final.

Kovalick continued to provide a season-long example of how to get it done against varied competition, beginning his day with a 1:37 pin over Mundelein’s Jose Jimenez. Kovalick took a quarterfinal matchup with Crystal Lake South’s Mike Romanelli by virtue of a 3-2 clip.

Kovalick earned his last win of the meet with a 12-3 major decision over Nathan Gunn of Minooka, before succumbing to Grant’s Quinton Quarles by a 2-1 margin.

KHS emerges the victor over Yorkville, Rochelle

Photo: Brooke Harner (22) tries to control the ball in traffic on Friday, with teammates Marina Schaefer (33) and Ali Liss close by. Photo by Ben Draper

Girls’ wins take sting out of OT loss at BC
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The girls basketball crew from Kaneland found what it liked in at Yorkville on Friday, and had what it liked, but lost it on Saturday.

A 20-point cruise was just the ticket over host Yorkville, 48-28, while a sizable halftime lead up in Burlington eventually slimmed up. An overtime and a late putback sent KHS packing with a 49-47 overtime loss. It was the second loss of that kind in three games, as the Lady Knights dropped a two-point result to Plainfield East on Dec. 30 in the finals of the Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic.

However, the Kaneland group still finds itself in good standing with an 11-6 record and a 4-1 Northern Illinois Big XII tally after a win in Rochelle on Tuesday, 38-30. That marked the first win on Rochelle’s home court in five years.

“Even though we didn’t have games go our way at the end recently, we’ve won a lot of close games earlier,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “We just had to compose ourselves and play well at the end.”

Facing Rochelle, the Lady Knights were lifted by eight members in the scoring column, and led by Kelly Evers’ eight points.

The Lady Knights took advantage of accurate passing that usually found its targets in the forms of Evers, Ashley Prost and Emma Bradford.

“That just happens all the time in practice,” Evers said. “Not just with Emma, Ashley or I, but with the whole team. There’s open looks and magic happens.”

KHS went out to a 10-8 lead, and increased to the lead to 10 points in the second quarter, thanks to a down-low look by Evers and a bucket by Sarah Grams. Kaneland was ahead 22-12 at the break.

After ending the third frame up 30-20, the margin shrunk to 33-29 with three minutes to go.

A key steal by Ashley Castellanos stunted Rochelle’s game plan and Grams and Liss made it to the foul line for insurance free throws until game’s end.

Against Yorkville, Lady Knights basketball was paced by Prost’s 21 points, which included 12 in the first half. Prost also added a co-team-high six boards, matched by Evers.

KHS held the Lady Foxes to 11-for-48 from the field.

KHS went out to a slim 13-12 lead after the first eight minutes, and clamped on the pressure to go up 26-15 at the halftime break.

In the third quarter, Kaneland outscored YHS 14-5 to go up 40-20, setting the stage for the final result.

On Saturday afternoon at the home of the Lady Rockets, things looked to be going well for KHS as it went out to a 13-4 lead after one and maintained a 23-14 lead at the break.

BC closed within 34-29 after the third quarter before deadlocking KHS at 40 going into the extra frame.

With two seconds remaining in overtime, Burlington Central’s Camille De La Cruz put back a missed shot to give the hosts the close win.

KHS was 11-for-48 from the field on Saturday, and 15-for-23 from the charity stripe.

The loss for Kaneland was despite the best efforts of Evers, who scored 10 points and brought down 14 boards. Prost had a team-high 11 points.

Looming on the horizon for the varsity girls: a meeting with visiting Streator on Thursday, Jan. 12.

Kaneland rebounds from loss in Yorkville with win at Burlington

Photo: Matt Limbrunner (42) put up 10 points in the tough loss to Yorkville on Friday. Photo by Ben Draper

KANELAND—For now, the scales of the Kaneland-Burlington Central boys basketball rivalry tipped toward Kaneland.

KHS took care of the host Rockets on Saturday evening by a final of 65-46, serving as a nice contrast from the 56-51 loss to conference foe Yorkville on Friday evening.

The Knights now sit at 10-5 (3-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Facing the Rockets, the Knights were treated to 18 points from Marcel Neil, Drew David (15 points) and 12 from Matt Limbrunner.

Also helping the cause was a stellar 14-of-15 night from the foul line.

Despite being down 11-10 after one, Kaneland rallied to take a 30-25 lead at the halftime break.

KHS was ahead in the matter by a 44-34 margin before outgunning the Rockets 21-12 in the fourth quarter.

The Foxes sprinted out to a 25-7 lead after one quarter on Friday, but saw KHS compress the deficit to 37-28. Kaneland trailed 50-41 going into the final quarter.

The Knights were paced by 14 points from Tyler Heinle and 10 from Limbrunner and Thomas Williams.

In earlier action, the sophomores took care of their Yorkville rivals by a 43-41 score. The freshman “A” squad lost 39-28 to the Foxes, while the “B” team lost 45-29.

The Knights try to power their way through the season’s second half with a trip to Morris on Friday, Jan. 13.

The Knights have already taken two previous meetings with the Redskins, including two weeks ago at the Plano Christmas Classic.

Lady Knights rule lanes against Geneva

KANELAND—Geneva bowling is a relatively new program, but one thing is already familiar to the Lady Vikings.

Their fate when it comes to battling KHS.

Kaneland swept the season series, punctuated by the win on Monday at Mardi Gras Lanes in DeKalb.

With a 2,439-2,324 win over Geneva, it took the sting out of earlier losses in Sycamore on Thursday, and Huntley on Jan. 4.

Lady Knights bowling sits at 2-11 in dual competition for the season, thus far.

Defending the lanes on Monday featured a 457 series by Seleana Isaacs and a 424 series by teammate Ellissa Eckert. Top games were bowled by Isaacs with 181 and Anne Salerno with 159.

The JV team also came away with a win by the count of 1,875-1,594.

Kaneland lost to its Spartan counterpart in a road meeting by a final of 3,092-2,447. Top series went to Isaacs at 439 and Christie Crews at 429. Top games were bowled by Crews at 172 and Isaacs at 166.

In JV action, the Lady Knights beat Sycamore, 2,401-2,123.

Last week against visiting Huntley, the Lady Knights fell 2,668-2,466, despite the best efforts of Crews with a 481 series and Salerno with a 458 series.

Ottawa provides the next challenge in the form of a Northern Illinois crossover battle in LaSalle County on Thursday, Jan. 12.

Schools courted by Ozzie’s Reading Club

GENEVA—Chicagoland schools are encouraged to take part in Ozzie’s Reading Club, the Kane County Cougars’ reading incentive program.

Named after Cougars mascot Ozzie T. Cougar, Ozzie’s Reading Club included nearly 145,000 students from 427 schools who improved their reading skills through the Cougars’ program last season. The 2012 season will be the 18th year for Ozzie’s Reading Club, and interested teachers can learn more by contacting Amy Mason, Ozzie’s Reading Club coordinator, at (630) 232-8811 or amason@kanecountycougars.com.

Regarded as one of the most successful and rewarding reading incentive programs in the Chicagoland area, Ozzie’s Reading Club allows teachers and reading specialists to set goals for students at different grade levels. Students receive rewards for reading a certain number of books or pages, with prizes awarded as they read their way to first base, second base, third base and finally to home plate. Students hitting a home run receive a ticket to an April or May Cougars game designated by their school, along with a food voucher and free t-shirt. Graduates are also recognized in a pre-game parade on the field and are admitted free to any Sunday-Thursday Cougars games during the months of June through September.

One of the unique features of Ozzie’s Reading Club is its availability to readers of varying reading levels, including students up through eighth grade.

“To have a program which appeals to 14- year-olds as much as 6-year-olds is a great thing,” said Mason. “Home run hitters of all ages are so excited when they see Ozzie as they enter the stadium. It’s wonderful to see how proud they are of their reading accomplishments.”

The Ozzie’s Reading Club program has received national recognition and praise from the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and at the annual Baseball & Sports Marketing convention.

“We are very proud of the relationships we have established with local schools over the past 17 years of Ozzie’s Reading Club,” said Mason. “Teachers and administrators have seen our commitment to building reading skills and we appreciate the confidence schools have shown in our program.”

Editorial: Staffing changes allows us to offer more

Two weeks ago, we used this space to recap this past year at the Elburn Herald, as well as to introduce new Assistant Editor Keith Beebe.

This week, we would like to announce the change in position of former Assistant Editor and new Web Editor, Ben Draper.

Draper has been with the company for a number of years, joining the team in May 2005. He quickly emerged as a leader and has been highly valuable member of the team, splitting his efforts on photography, helping lead the editorial staff, and redeveloping our award-winning website, ElburnHerald.com.

In late 2008, we found ourselves wanting more flexibility and affordability than our former website developer could provide, we made the decision to stop paying someone else for something we could do ourselves. The problem was, we weren’t sure we actually could do it ourselves. That is when Draper stepped up and said he would figure out a way, and that is exactly what he did.

Our new site went live in January 2009, and since then we have won industry awards while seeing our online viewership increase dramatically. We are excited to unveil our new ElburnHerald.com site in the short future. We think our new site will be an even bigger step forward for us.

In fact, Draper has become so talented at developing and designing websites that we recently began offering those services to other businesses and organizations that also want the same combination of flexibility and affordability we desired when we decided to do it ourselves just a few years ago.

We obtained our first client even before we officially decided to offer those services to others when the then-new Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference hired us to create and design NIBig12.org.

Now, with our staffing adjustments complete, Draper will be able to fully dive into his new role developing websites both for the Elburn Herald and other local organizations.

John H. Heinz

John H. Heinz, beloved husband of Jo Beth, passed away Friday, Jan. 6, 2012.

He was the loving father of Debra (Mark) Lewis and Russell (Sheri); dear “Papa” of Marisa, Brianne (Jeff) Uecke, Alayna, Laurielle, Serena and Giselle; dear brother of Sophie (the late Jim) Walker, Barb (the late Don) Voirol, Gerry (the late Don) Ponziani, Bruce (the late Lynn), the late Otto (Rae Anne), and the late Elaine (the late Ernie) Siefert; uncle and friend to many and loved by all.

John was the proud owner of Precision Stone Co., a classic car collector and avid traveler who was always awaiting the next adventure. His most cherished moments were with his family.

Visitation was Wednesday, Jan. 11, from 3 to 9 p.m. at Norris-Walen-Segert Funeral Home, Douglas Peterson Funeral Director, 132 Fremont St. (one block north of Washington Street and Main), West Chicago, Ill.

Services will be held at the funeral home on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 11 a.m. Interment will be at the Assumption Cemetery. Donations to Children’s Memorial Hospital (in honor of his granddaughter Serena) or the Make-A-Wish Foundation are appreciated.

For information, call (630) 231-0060.

David L. Meyers

David L. Meyers, 79, of Maple Park, woke to celestial grace after passing away peacefully at his home on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012.

He was born on Sept. 10, 1932, in Sheldon, Wis., the son of Clarence “Clare” and Ann (Warchalowski) Meyers.

David grew up in Sheldon, Wis., and attended local schools. During school, David played and lettered in baseball, basketball and boxing.

Shortly after graduating from Tony High School in 1950, David faithfully served his country in the United States Army during the Korean War. When he returned to civilian life in 1953, David and his brother, Dan, both tried out and eventually played minor league baseball. David was a pitcher with a nice knuckle ball, and Dan played second base for Superior Blues, a minor league team for the Chicago White Sox.

David met the woman he would eventually marry in Ladysmith, Wis. Sandra “Sandy” McKnight caught his eye and soon his heart. Following a whirlwind romance, David and Sandy were united in marriage on Sept. 10, 1955. They began their new life together in Ladysmith and welcomed home a daughter, Kimberley, a year later before moving to Aurora, where Jim made the family complete.

After 40 years of memories, David and Sandy moved to Maple Park in 2001.

David’s hands were made for working, and they served him well for over 20 years in the construction trade. Later he would spend 20 more as a custodian for School District 204 until his retirement in 2001.

David was a member of the Barber Greene Hunting and Fishing Club, where he not only caught wildlife but a few tall tales as well.

In his younger years, David enjoyed gardening and took his children asparagus and mushroom hunting. He was also an avid hunter and fisherman—passions that he passed on to his son Jim. Summers always brought baseball, whether he played himself as a young man, coached his son’s Little League team or later as “Pops,” when he played softball alongside his son until his late 50s. No matter where he played, his word was law and his opinions were always right, no matter whether you were a player, spectator or even umpire. He watched his beloved Chicago Cubs with the fervor of a number one fan and lived and died with each win or loss.

He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Sandy; two children, Kimberley Meyers and Jim (Cindy) Meyers; two grandchildren, Alayna and Alicia Meyers; one brother, Dan Meyers; his mother, Ann Tainter, as well as his fishing and hunting buddy, Frank Wood.

He is preceded in death by his father, Clare Meyers.

Visitation was from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A funeral to celebrate his life followed visitation at 5 p.m. Private family interment will follow cremation at a later date.

A memorial has been established in his name to benefit his favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “David Meyers Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com.

John E. Schull

John Edwin Schull, 63, of Custer, S.D., and formerly of Mankato, S.D., died Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, at Hospice of the Hills in Rapid City, S.D.

Funeral services were held at 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 9, at Mankato Mortuary. Visitation was from noon to 1 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial was in Decoria Cemetery in rural Mankato. Memorials may be given to Hospice of the Hills in Rapid City.

John Edwin Schull was born Aug. 1, 1948, to Edwin and Romaine (Olson) Schull in Mankato. He graduated from Mankato High School in 1966. After graduation, he briefly attended Mankato State College and Mankato Vo-Tech. He went to work for Sears and Roebuck in 1969. John married Mary Tierney in Good Thunder, S.D., on Sept. 20, 1969. They had one son and two daughters. They lived throughout the Mid-west and the south as John pursued a career with Sears and Roebuck. His final promotion and transfer was to Chicago as a Region Operations Manager. He retired on Feb. 27, 2009, with 40 years of service from Sears Holdings.

In March of 2009, they moved to the Black Hills Region of South Dakota and built their retirement home in Custer, S.D. John loved to ride his motorcycle, go camping, traveling, spending time with his girls, and just doing things around the house.

John will be greatly missed by his wife, his daughters and friends for his kind heart, his humor, his generosity and his love of life.

John is survived by his wife of 42 years, Mary of Custer, S.D; two daughters, Beth (Chad) Woods of Des Moines, Iowa and Emily (Alek) Nelsen of Waterman, Ill.; his mother, Romaine Schull of Mankato; and numerous other family members and special friends.

John was preceded in death by his son, David John; his father, Edwin John; his sister, Annette.

Sugar Grove Chamber sponsors open house

Sugar Grove—Attorneys, accountants, financial planners and insurance agents will be on hand, offering free expert advice in their respective fields on Thursday, Feb. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Sugar Grove Library, 125 S. Municipal Drive.

This open house is hosted by the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and offers free advice to those who have questions on particular issues. You need not be a Sugar Grove resident to attend and receive information.

The experts include attorney Sally McClellan, specializing in divorce, child support, adoption, contract law, simple wills and real estate; attorney Steve Eckker of the Law Offices of James White, specializing in personal injury, bankruptcy and general litigation; and attorney Ruben Sanmiguel, specializing in criminal law.

Accounting experts include Steve Franzen of DeSio, Franzen & Associates, specializing in personal and business accounting, and Bob Kovanic of Padgett Business Services, specializing in personal and business accounting.

Insurance experts include Rene Devore of Prudential Insurance, specializing in insurance as well as financial planning, and Dan Borowiak of Borowiak Insurance, specializing in personal and business insurance. Financial planning expert is George Silfugarian of Financial Security Group, specializing in personal and business financial planning.

All consultations will be five to 10 minutes long and private. Those attending will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Anyone with questions may go to the Sugar Grove Chamber website at www.sugargrovechamber.org or call (630) 466-7895.

Metra permits available

Elburn—First-quarter Metra parking permits are now available. They are good now through the end of March, and they cost $85.

Permits may be obtained by calling (630) 365-5070 with a credit card or sending a check; the permit will then be mailed to you.

Permits may also be obtained in person at the Elburn Police Department with cash, check or credit card. You will receive the permit then.

Office hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Permits are not required to park at the Metra lot; they are a convenience for those daily commuters who wish to avoid daily payment at the machines.

Forest preserve district reminds snowmobilers to be safe, sober on the trails

Geneva—With winter officially here and snow sure to follow, the Kane County Forest Preserve District released a statement reminding snowmobilers to stay safe and follow the law.

“Snowmobiling is great exercise that brings people outdoors to interact with nature and each other. It is great for stress release and good mental health,” said Forest Preserve Officer Rick Splittgerber. “But it’s so important to be safe, use common sense, and follow all laws while riding.”

Splittgerber suggests the following safety tips before every trip:

• Point your snowmobile in a safe direction.
• Check the steering system. Does it move easily?
• Check the throttle. Does it move easily? Press in and release. Make sure it is not frozen in the “on” position.
• Check the brakes. Do they stick or bind?
• Check the headlights and taillights. Do they both work?
• Check the fuel level. Is it enough for the return trip?
• Check the oil injection. Is the oil well full?
• Check the emergency stop switch. Does it work?
• Is the track clear of snow and ice?
• Are you dressed properly?
• Always tell someone where you are going and approximately when you expect to be back.
• Never go alone. Always use the buddy system. Your life may depend on it.

In additional to regular trail signage, this year, “You drink, you ride, you lose” signs have been posted along the trail. The district said it hopes the signs will discourage riders from being under the influence of alcohol while operating a snowmobile.

Trails are patrolled by the Forest Preserve District police, the Kane County Mounted Rangers, and the Snowmobile Safety Patrol.

In the Kane County forest preserves, snowmobiling is only allowed on trails marked specifically for this purpose, including:

• Campton Forest Preserve (on internal, marked trails only)
• Great Western Trail (west of Wasco, only)
• Hampshire Forest Preserve (on internal trails only)
• Snowmobiling is also allowed for transit only through the following:
• Burlington Prairie Forest Preserve (transit through preserve only on marked trail)
• Glenwood Park Forest Preserve (on the Batavia Branch of the Illinois Prairie Path)
• Rutland Forest Preserve (parking only)
• Muirhead Springs Forest Preserve (transit through preserve only on marked trail)

There must be 4 inches of snow, and the ground must be frozen. Snowmobiling hours are sunrise to sunset, except on the Great Western Trail, west of Wasco, where it is permitted from sunrise to 11 p.m. The speed limit in all preserves and on all trails is 15 mph, except the Great Western Trail west of Wasco, where it is 35 mph. Riders must stay on trails as marked.

The district also wants riders to be aware of recent changes made to the Illinois Snowmobile Registration and Safety Act, in April 2011. Snowmobiles must now be covered by liability insurance (unless riders stay exclusively on private property not denoted as a snowmobile trail). Proof of insurance is required. Additionally, non-Illinois residents are required to purchase a yearly snowmobile trail use sticker, if the vehicle is not registered in Illinois.

For more information on snowmobiling in the Kane County forest preserves, visit kaneforest.com/publications/brochures/winterActivities.pdf.

Unsure which college to choose? Try visiting

Photo: Students stroll across the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s main quad on the way to class. Photo by Jessica Corbett

by Alex Vickery, Kaneland Krier Editor
Contributions by John Pruett

Kaneland—Senior Veronica Seawall was in search of a very specific major: animal behavior. She visited Eastern Kentucky University, the only school in the entire Midwest that offers that major.

“I did research for one and a half years. There were two other possible schools, but one was in California, and one was in Florida,” Seawall said.

Like Seawall, many Kaneland students have gone on a college visit or are going to visit soon. Counselor Andrew Franklin recommends going on one or two college visits every year, if possible, starting freshmen year and continuing up until senior year.

A tour is a smart way to assure a student will see a variety of places on the college campus. Most universities have information on their website about upcoming tours or how to set one up.

“It’s good to visit a large school, a medium school and a small school, just to see how it feels to attend different size schools,” Franklin said. “It’s also good to see a local college because it’s close and easy to visit, your dream school and a junior college.”

On most tours, a student can see places such as the dorms, cafeteria, classrooms, library, bookstore, athletic facilities and more. Some colleges also offer opportunities to stay overnight or to shadow a student.

“If you’re torn between two colleges, stay overnight, shadow a student and sit in on one or two classes,” Franklin said.

Other things to do on a college visit, as recommended by the College Board, are to participate in a group information session at the admissions office, read the student newspaper or other student publication and to talk to a coach in a chosen sport.

Senior Tyler Heinle recently went on a college visit to Elmhurst College to talk to the baseball coach there.

“It was nice, big and very spacious,” Heinle said.

The College Board also advises walking or driving around the community surrounding the campus and get a feel of what it would be like to live there for four years.

“You’re going to get a good feel of whether or not you like it,” Franklin said.

Seawall says she is nervous, but still very excited for next year.

The number one thing Franklin recommends is to research. Students can go to college fairs and college research websites such as www.campustours.com, which has YouTube videos, photos and website links.

10 things high school students should ask while on a college visit
Ask about and understand the admissions criteria when going on a visit, Stephanie Schiller, a Northern Illinois University Admissions Office representative, said.

Talk to a professor of a class that interests you while on a campus tour, according to Counselor Andrew Franklin.

Ask what the options are if you choose to major or double major in a certain field. For example, Schiller said students could ask questions like, “Would the course load be substantial for what I’m interested in?”

The most important question to ask while on a college visit is whether or not outside scholarships affect the amount of financial aid a school can provide, Franklin said.

Be sure to know the college resources, Schiller said.

Ask to sit in on a class of a subject that interests you in order to become more familiar with the university’s teaching style, Franklin said.

Go over transportation options, especially for incoming freshmen who cannot bring cars, according to Schiller.

Ask what the advantages and disadvantages of going to college far away are, said Schiller.

Spend the night in the dorm to help familiarize yourself with the college, according to Franklin.

Participate in a group information session at the admissions office, according to Franklin.

For more information on college visits, visit www.kaneland.org/KHS/guidance and click on the College Planning link.

A ‘Vital’ donation

On Monday, Dr. David Foss (right) of Vital Chiropractic Family Wellness Center handed a check to Rita Burnham, director of the Elburn Food Pantry. Vital Chiropractic held donations in the month of December to raise money for the food pantry. $10 donations received a ticket for an iPad drawing, and $20 meant a chance for a complimentary spinal evaluation. Vital Chiropractic matched the donations and the total for the month was $770. The money will go to help feed families in need. Photo by John DiDonna

New motor vehicle laws enforced by Illinois police

Springfield—Beginning Jan. 1, Illinois State Police (ISP) began enforcing new motor vehicle laws that passed in 2011, as the push to decrease traffic fatalities remains a top priority for law enforcement officials across Illinois.

The ISP’s most common traffic violations—speeding, DUI, seat belts, and distracted driving—remain a top priority for ISP troopers to enforce, and will be further enhanced with new laws that took effect at the beginning of the year.

“Traffic fatalities are under 1,000 for the third straight year, but one traffic fatality is one too many,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “Although there are many factors that contribute to the reduction of traffic crash fatalities, it is no coincidence that seat belt compliance in Illinois has increased, as the number of fatalities has decreased.”

Grau also pointed to the fact that public safety partnerships and awareness campaigns also contribute to the compliance level of motorists and passengers.

The ISP continues to support safety education programs and initiatives, which have had a direct impact on public safety and have reduced the number of traffic crash fatalities on Illinois roadways. As of Dec. 29, 2011, preliminary data indicated Illinois had experienced 821 traffic crash fatalities in 2011, which are 26 fatalities less than the same time period in 2010.

Seat belts for all occupants
Illinois State Police will enforce a new seat belt law that requires all passengers of a motor vehicle to be properly restrained when the vehicle is operated on a street or highway.

The previous legislation only required the front seat driver, passenger, and passengers under the age of 19 to wear a seat belt. The new legislation requires all passengers traveling inside a vehicle to be properly restrained. The new law does not apply to back seat taxicab passengers, authorized emergency vehicles or those issued a medical exemption.

Enforcement of federal motor carrier
safety administration regulation

This new regulation prohibits the use of a hand-held mobile device by anyone driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). The regulation also prohibits motor carriers from requiring drivers to use a hand-held device while operating a CMV on a highway. The only exceptions are when the mobile device is being used with a hands-free application, when the CMV is pulled over and completely stopped at a safe location, or when a CMV driver is requesting emergency police or fire services.

Since the inception of distracted driving laws in 2010, the Illinois State Police has issued over 19,540 citations and written warnings to distracted drivers. Commercial motor vehicle operators account for 2.5 percent of the citations and warnings issued.

A mobile telephone is considered a mobile communication device that falls under or uses any commercial mobile radio service as defined by the Federal Communications Commission. The definition does not include two-way or Citizens Band (CB) radio services.

Truck speed limits
This new law took effect on Jan. 3 and increases the speed limit for second division vehicles traveling on four-lane highways where the speed limit is 65 miles per hour.

The legislation removes the split speed limit provision for second division vehicles with gross weights of 8,001 pounds (or more) operated on a four-lane highway outside the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will. The previous law restricted second division vehicles to a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour.

Village Board holds TIF district public hearing

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday held a public hearing regarding the village’s proposal of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district designation for Sugar Grove Industrial Redevelopment Project Area No. 1.

The village’s current proposed TIF district is slated to cover 324 acres, which is considerably smaller than the 1,800-acre TIF district that was proposed last summer and then canceled in early September.

Mike Hoffman of Teska Associates, the company that designed the new TIF district redevelopment plan for the village, gave a short presentation prior to the public hearing and said that 81 percent of the new TIF district area is in Sugar Grove, with the other 19 percent in Big Rock Township.

“One of the comments that we heard last time was the area was too big. This (new TIF district) is only 18 percent of the original TIF area,” Hoffman said. “Most of this area was included in the original proposal.”

Hoffman said that there were new parcels added to the current TIF, between Route 30 and the Burlington Northern Railroad.

“The reason for that is these properties are zoned industrial, would be suitable for development, and certainly could benefit from location within the TIF district and having an added benefit of potential rail access on the Burlington Northern Railroad,” he said.

Hoffman also highlighted a group of included parcels that meet conservation requirements for establishment of a TIF district. He said these areas were excluded from the previous TIF district boundary.

A TIF district is an economic tool intended to stimulate economic development by taking the incremental tax the village receives for improving a projected area. Those dollars are then used to fund the development costs. Simply put, businesses within the boundaries of the TIF district are provided with added municipal support and infrastructure.

If approved, the TIF district would be in effect for 23 years.

Once the public comment portion of the hearing began, Big Rock Township Supervisor Sandy Carr, Sugar Grove Fire Protection Chief Marty Kunkel and Ray Warchol, representing the Big Rock Park District, all stepped to the podium to state that they didn’t support the newly proposed TIF District.

“TIFs are a good thing in strong economic times, but we’re in a very weak economic time,” Kunkel said. “All of us taxing bodies are struggling for every dollar of income that we can stretch out and find, and 96 percent of our revenue is from real estate tax revenue.”

Hinckley-Big Rock School Superintendent Dr. James Hammack and Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler also spoke during the hearing, asking the board to look into a revenue-sharing agreement with Sugar Grove taxing bodies.

“If TIF is to truly work as an economic incentive, it needs to be an incentive that actually works for all taxing entities,” Schuler said.

After the hearing concluded, Village President Sean Michels said the board will consider the public’s comments during the hearing.

“(Revenue sharing) has been strongly considered by staff and by the board … it’s something that’s on top of our list,” he said.

Maple Park passes Tax Increment Financing district

by David Maas
MAPLE PARK—After months of planning, public hearings and deliberation, the Maple Park Village Board voted to enact a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, but not before discussing its size.

The discussion was whether to go with the last proposed TIF map, or a new map drafted to exclude a large area from the northern part of the district.

“It is greatly reduced from the original map,” Village President Kathy Curtis said. “(It is) down from an area that would be developed into 400 homes, to an area that would be developed into 100 homes.”

This area was reduced due to feedback from the public.

“This area would produce less of an impact to the taxing bodies,” Curtis said. “Also, we wouldn’t realistically see 400 houses in that area in the next 20 years.”

The reason those 400 lots were originally included was due to the plan of the proposed water treatment plant, which has also been scaled back.

“A water treatment plant of that size is no longer needed,” Village Engineer Jeremy Lin said. “We originally thought it was needed, but looking at a more recent growth projection, it is not.”

The board agreed that the smaller map would serve the needs of the TIF and be better for the village.

“The smaller map is much more reasonable and manageable,” Village Trustee Greg Cutsinger said. “We needed to take into consideration the worries of the taxing bodies.”

The board then voted to pass the three ordinances needed to officially enact the TIF district: the first approving the TIF plan, the second to approve the map and legal description, and the third adopting the TIF for Maple Park.

“The board would like to thank all that have participated in this process,” Village Trustee Terry Borg said. “We listened to the comments that were being made, and took them into consideration.”

Borg also addressed the difficulty surrounding the TIF, and that it was a much longer process than some may think.

“There were two boards, composed of nine different people that have discussed a TIF,” Borg said. “We tried many ways before this to come up with financing, including a failed referendum last March. We made this decision to protect Maple Park, and give it the ability to grow.”

As well as passing the TIF, the board also passed a resolution stating why it enacted the district, as well as its intentions, to provide to future Village Board members.

“It is important (that) future boards understand what we are trying to do,” Curtis said. “We are making decisions for the future of Maple Park.”

The TIF district is in effect immediately and will last 23 years, which is the longest allowed under TIF law, but can potentially be ended at any time with an ordinance.

“To address the concerns of the taxing bodies, this board lives in this village, ” Borg said. “We use these services, and we want to continue having them available to us.”

Growth coming to Sugar Grove

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Keeping up with the flux of retail that set up shop in Sugar Grove last year, the village in 2012 will see some big names established in the village, namely a Walgreens pharmacy and Jimmy John’s sandwich restaurant.

“I am encouraged that Walgreens has submitted their building plan, and Jimmy John’s has also submitted plans for their build out,” Village President Sean Michels said.

Jimmy John’s is currently under construction, while Walgreens is expected to break ground in the spring.

Those incoming retailers could be accompanied by new residential growth this year, as well. According to Michels, Community Development Director Rich Young has been in contact with Yorkville’s The National Bank, which owns the majority of the Prairie Glen subdivision. The bank, in turn, is talking to a developer about coming in and building some homes in the subdivision.

“I think that’s important for our retailers—having some growth through new houses. And it helps the village defray a lot of its expenses to more residents, so that will be good,” Michels said.

Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said the village is trying to come up with creative ways to get housing movement in several residential subdivisions.

“It would benefit the residents who live in those neighborhoods. From a tax base, it takes the same amount of money and time to plow and salt a street, but by having vacant lots instead of homes built in that subdivision, it is a cost to the community as a whole,” Eichelberger said. “(Residential growth) not only benefits a particular neighborhood, it benefits the village.”

The village is currently working with the owner of the north part of the Settlers Ridge subdivision in order to reinvigorate the property. Eichelberger said it’s possible that the village in early 2012 could be looking at an amendment to an annexation agreement that would make the Settlers Ridge property viable again.

According to Eichelberger, one of the village’s biggest non-residential goals in 2012 is to see the start of construction for a 200-bed head trauma center, which would be located near the corner of Route 47 and Wheeler Road. Michels said in 2010 that the rehabilitation facility project would create over 200 construction jobs, as well as 200 permanent jobs for doctors, nurses, therapists and other professionals once the center is completed.

The village initially anticipated that the trauma center would begin construction in 2011, but a certificate of need must first be awarded to the facility’s developer, Molloy Bolz Properties, LLC. According to Michels, state budget cuts slowed the process.

Michels said his main goal for 2012 is to get more commercial retail on Route 47.

“(I want to) get Walgreens going … get that supported living facility moving and breaking ground, because it will take a while for that to (be built),” he said. “Hopefully we can also get some new residential construction going on.”

Looking forward

Maple Park plans improvements in 2012 to prepare for future
by David Maas
MAPLE PARK—While continuing to deal with limited finances in 2012, Maple Park officials still hope they can make the improvements the village needs.

“We have several important projects for 2012, including improvements to water mains, a new water well and water tower, improvements to waste water treatment systems, and pending approval of a tax increment financing district,” Trustee Suzanne Fahnestock said.

While the village views all of these projects as important, they know some warrant priority.

“The most important project is the water main, and the other projects that focus on the well, tower and waste water treatment,” Fahnestock said.

In 2012, the village is working on improving these systems for its current residents, as well as possible future growth.

“While we have adequate water supply and waste water treatment for our current residents and businesses, we do not have the additional capacity to keep up with future growth,” Fahnestock said. “We made significant improvements in 2011, but we need to continue to make improvements to the water mains, wells, water towers and waste water treatment systems in 2012.”

While the village knows what projects it needs to accomplish, actually accomplishing them won’t be as easy.

“The biggest challenge regarding the various water systems and services is the need for funding,” Fahnestock said. “In 2011, the village was successful in applying for funding from both the county and the state. In 2012, we will continue to pursue funding options for these improvements to our water systems.”

As well as improving the water system itself, the village will also continue to work on other means to improve storm water and flooding issues.

“We will be reviewing and reworking ordinances in the village, in order to reflect better storm water management and land use policies,” Fahnestock said.

The sooner the village addresses these needs, the sooner the village can start to grow.

“Currently, the village has developers interested in commercial and residential development, but those projects will require the upgrades and additional capacity in our water systems,” Fahnestock said.