Midwest wrestling company brings piledrivers, fun to Elburn

by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—North American Pro Wrestling invaded Elburn last Saturday night, and for anyone who caught the show at the Elburn Community Center, don’t be surprised if some of the wrestlers featured on that card eventually land in the mecca of pro wrestling: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

“The show (on April 21) was unbelievable. We have the best group of recognizable talent you could possibly have in the Midwest, as far as wrestlers go,” said Randy Ricci, who serves as chief operating officer of NAPW. “Our talent roster are guys who are hungry and work their tail off. They want to be stimulated in hopes of getting that next spot. These guys work harder than the guys in WWE, because they’re on their way up … and I’ve gotten a lot of guys hired by WWE.”

The show at the community center only drew about 120 people, but Ricci said the performers didn’t care—they were intent on entertaining and dazzling those in attendance.

“After shows, I get a chance to talk to wrestling fans of all ages—from 6-year-old kids to people who are 80 years old—and they say, “Oh my gosh, I would put this level of action up against World Wrestling Entertainment any day of the week,” Ricci said.

Ricci, who was brought on by Midwest-based NAPW earlier this year, has been in the wrestling business since 1988 and has an extensive resume, having served as a performer, production manager, promoter and television producer for companies such as WWE and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). Wrestling under the alias of “Jerry Fox” while in WWE, Ricci had the privilege to square off against squared-circle legends such as Ravishing Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Dino Bravo, Earthquake, Big Boss Man, King Kong Bundy and Haku.

“It’s a heck of an industry,” Ricci said.

NAPW was founded last year by Joey Rose and Chris Koley. According to Ricci, the company’s roster currently features 12 veterans and an additional eight to 10 rookies. He said the average age for wrestlers who enter NAPW is about 22 years old, and many of these kids hail from Rockford, Ill., downtown Chicago, Janesville, Wis., and Griffith, Ind. NAPW does about 200 dates each year, so there’s plenty of experience to be had by anyone who wrestles in the company’s ranks.

Ricci raved about NAPW rookie grappler Anthony Antonelli.

“What a gifted athlete he is. There’s nothing this kid can’t do in the ring, and he’s got heart like you wouldn’t believe,” Ricci said.

Anyone interested in attending an NAPW show is in luck, as the company will return to the Elburn Community Center for an event on Saturday, May 12. The main event that night will feature NAPW Heavyweight World Champion Pauly Thomaselli in a title defense. If you need further incentive to attend, Ricci can help with that.

“Independent wrestling organizations have popped up all over the Chicago area (as of late), and they’re kind of a dime a dozen, and I am not trying to pick on anyone else, but I am someone who has been through every facet of the industry and worked for every company,” he said. “I’ve been all over the world and have made a living in wrestling … that’s why (NAPW) brought me on the first of this year.”

McDole PTO’s inaugural trivia night

MONTGOMERY—McDole Elementary PTO in Montgomery will host its inaugural trivia night event. Entries for the event are due by Friday, April 27, and the event itself will be held at Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove on May 5 at 6 p.m.

The competition will be accompanied by a silent auction and will provide contestants the chance to walk away with cash and prizes. In addition, Open Range will donate a percentage of its profits from the event back to the PTO. All proceeds from this event will go the McDole’s PTO.

Space for this event is limited, and event organizers request that you gather a team of eight to 10 players and sign up. The cost for each player is $15. You can pre-register your team or get more information via email at info@mcdolepto.org. Include a contact person and contact information.

Local students in Marmion-Rosary band earn medals in contest

WISCONSIN—The Marmion-Rosary Band competed in the North Shore District Wisconsin School Music Association Solo and Ensemble Contest on March 17. The musicians earned a total of 68 first division gold medals (63 Class A and 5 Class B gold medals) and 23 silver medals. Fifty of these students will compete in the State Solo and Ensemble contest on April 28 at the University of Wisconsin—Parkside. Students selected performed literature from the most difficult list (class A) and received a “star first rating.”

Students receiving one or more class A star gold medals were: Kevin Hoss of Sugar Grove, horn; Benjamin Pho of Maple Park, piano; Kevin Hoss, brass quintet; Benjamin Pho and Victoria Pho of Maple Park, percussion ensemble; Julia Hoyda (Sugar Grove) and Benjamin Pho, Marmion-Rosary jazz combo; and Julia Hoyda and Benjamin Pho, Marmion-Rosary jazz band.

Those students receiving one or more class A gold medals were: Paige Robinson (Sugar Grove), clarinet, and Julia Hoyda, trombone.

Those students receiving one or more class B gold medals were: Victoria Pho, oboe.

Czerwinski takes on adversity

Photo: Shari Czerwinski takes an adaptive-pedal-equipped bike out for a test ride. She suffers neurofibroma and has limited use of her left leg. Courtesy Photo

SG resident overcomes neurofibroma, receives Challenged Athletes Foundation grant
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—It was 2004 when Sugar Grove resident Shari Czerwinski noticed she had some numbness in her left leg. Numerous tests and X-rays showed no abnormalities in Czerwinski’s body, but by 2006 she started to display a bit of muscle atrophy in her left foot, and by 2008 her left knee would buckle occasionally when she walked.

Still, multiple tests, MRIs and X-rays revealed nothing of concern.
“I knew something was wrong, as it is obviously not normal to have a leg that feels numb, no reflex, and falling down because your knee buckles, but I gave up finding an answer,” she said.

It should be noted that Czerwinski has suffered from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a painful and debilitating form of arthritis that targets the spinal cord and larger joints in the body, since 1998. After tests revealed nothing of concern in her body, Czerwinski said her rheumatologist wrote it all off as a rare complication of the disease and upped all of her rheumatological medications.

Fast-forward to February 2009, when Czerwinski’s car was rear-ended on the Eisenhower Expressway, leaving her with several herniations and a lot of pain. Czerwinski began visiting a pain clinic the next month and mentioned to her doctor all of the problems she had with her left leg. An MRI of Czerwinski’s abdomen that June revealed what had been plaguing her the previous five years: she was suffering from neurofibroma.

“I had a 5.5 inch-long tumor called a neurofibroma along the femoral nerve, which is the largest nerve running down the front of your leg,” Czerwinski said. “They assembled a team of three surgeons to discuss getting this tumor out with the most success of me walking again.”

Czerwinski went in for surgery that September, and doctors were forced to remove seven inches of her femoral nerve, because it wouldn’t separate from the tumor. The decision was made to remove a section of nerve from her inner thigh and graft it onto the femoral nerve. She then had to wait 12 months and endure a grueling recovery to see if the nerve would regenerate.

It didn’t.

“My left leg was partially paralyzed. I could only walk with a leg brace. I could not march, or run, or lift my leg without grabbing it with my hand and picking it up,” said Czerwinski, now 41 years old. “It has affected everything. I have fallen several times since the surgery and injured my leg. We had to remodel the bathroom to make a handicapped shower. We live in a two-story, and just getting up and down stairs is very difficult. I have to get help with a lot of daily activities. My family—husband Chad, son Ryan and daughter Katherine—have been great at helping out with things I need.”

“Shari’s ‘disability’ has definitely been challenging for us. We often joke that if this is a test, we should really study harder, because we have to keep taking it over and over again,” Chad said. “I am thankful, however, that we have been able to face it together. Patience is something we are constantly learning through trials.”

Northwestern doctors told Czerwinski there was nothing else they could do to help her. Following a considerable amount of research, Shari and her husband were introduced to a surgeon in San Antonio, Texas, who was willing to bring the couple out so he could try to attempt a procedure on Shari in which the large muscle (latissimus) would be removed with all the nerves attached and put into her thigh to form a new quadriceps muscle. Shari went into surgery in December 2010, at which point doctors discovered that the original nerve graft had pulled apart and was not connected.

“He decided to try reconnecting it to give it a second chance. It did not work, either,” Shari said. “They (had) given me the option of going through that all again and trying to move the back muscle this time, but after two long, grueling years of therapy and doctor appointments and getting my hopes up, I had come to a place of acceptance. I was not willing to go through another surgery and another 12 months of waiting to see if it would work.”

Things didn’t get any easier for Shari from that point on, as her kneecap would occasionally dislocate due to the lack of muscle in her left leg. She underwent a partial knee replacement surgery last November, and recently completed therapy at Fox Valley Physical Therapy and Wellness in St. Charles. She also acquired a “smart” leg brace, which she said helps her walk in a more normal manner. Doctors hope Shari’s most recent surgery will ease her pain considerably, but have also discussed performing a complete knee replacement if desired results for Shari’s knee are not reached by the end of this year.

Amputation could also be a possibility if Shari’s knee pain continues to persist.

“I have had to give up a lot of outdoor activities we used to enjoy, such as biking and hiking,” she said. “Through all these trials, my faith in Jesus Christ helped me to persevere. I have tried to stay as active as I could, drawn strength from Him, and learned to rely on others for help, which was not a lesson easily learned for me.

“This is by far the hardest thing I have ever gone through, but by the grace of God, I am able to get up with a smile on my face and remember all the things I have to be thankful for, and not dwell on all the hardships.”

In order to get back to doing the outdoor activities she loves, Shari began researching adaptive equipment, and did a test ride on a recumbent bike with adaptive pedals at The Bike Rack in St. Charles. Adaptive equipment is expensive, however, and her husband, a carpenter, was seeing less and less work due to a sluggish economy.

“I wanted to be able to get out of the house and do sports with the family, and staying active helps so much mentally and with controlling some of the arthritis pain,” Shari said. “I researched some more and found that there are agencies that help people with part of the costs of specialized equipment.”

Shari then contacted six agencies, and promptly received rejection letters from five of them. The remaining agency sent a letter stating that they make those decisions in April each year. Sure enough, Shari received a letter from the Challenged Athletes Foundation two weeks ago stating that they would award her a $1,500 grant toward the cost of an adaptive bike.

Her new bike is on order at The Bike Rack.

“I just want to encourage people not to give up. If you feel something is wrong with your body, keep searching for answers,” Shari said. “I think disabled people become isolated due to lack of mobility, depression, etc. I just want to encourage people to get outdoors and be active, no matter how small of a start (they) have to make. It really does boost your mood. I am so excited to get my bike, and already have lined up willing family and friends to go for a ride.”

Cookies are healthy for the earth

On Sunday Brownie Troop 4283 from John Stewart Elementary School planted an oak tree at Elburn Lions Park. The girls were able to purchase the oak tree with the money they raised from selling Girl Scout cookies this year. The troop thanked the Van Bogaert family, as well as the Elburn Lions Club, for giving them a chance to change the world.
Courtesy Photo

Barefoot collegians

Sugar Grove resident Amy Manion (left) was among Aurora University faculty and students who walked barefoot on campus in the first “A Day without Shoes” on April 10. Manion is an information services librarian. Katy Meier (right) of Aurora is a junior nursing major and library assistant. Students and faculty collected 1,485 pairs shoes in the inaugural event to benefit students at Bardwell and Brady elementary schools in Aurora, Hesed House homeless shelter in Aurora, Soles4Souls, and Crossover Running. Kris Johnson, Wackerlin Center fellow and event coordinator, said goals of the effort were to increase awareness of global poverty through experiential activities and to encourage donations of shoes. Courtesy Photo

Special Olympics 2012 Spring Games

NAPERVILLE—Families, volunteers and spectators will cheer on runners, shot-putters and other athletes as they compete in the largest area event of the year for Special Olympics Illinois Far West Suburban/Area 2 (DuPage, Kane, Kendall Counties) and Near West Suburban/Area 5 (Eastern DuPage County and west suburban Cook County).

The annual Spring Games will take place on Sunday, April 29, from 9 a.m.
until 4 p.m. at North Central College in Naperville. The public is invited to watch the competition and experience the joy of achievement by Special Olympics athletes.

At the combined Area 2/Area 5 Spring Games, approximately 670 athletes are expected to compete in track & field and power lifting. The event will begin at 9 a.m. with opening ceremonies. Competition follows immediately and will conclude around 4 p.m. All athletes will march in the parade of athletes and recite the Special Olympics oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

The running of the torch with the Flame of Hope and the lighting of the cauldron signifies the opening of the games. Naperville Mayor Pradel and North Central President Dr. Wilde are the special guests.

Athletes will compete in the 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 & 1500 Meter Runs, Standing & Running Long Jumps, Shot Put, Tennis and Softball Throw, High Jump, 400, 800, & 2K Walk Races, Wheelchair Competitions and Assisted Races and Power Lifting. Athletes compete in divisions by gender and ability levels.

Powerlifters from DuPage, suburban Cook and Will counties will also compete for the chance to qualify for State Summer Games by winning a gold medal at this competition.

To compete in the Special Olympics Illinois Area Spring Games, athletes must train for eight weeks. Athletes who win a gold medal at these area games qualify to compete in the Special Olympics Illinois State Summer Games to be held June 15-17 on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. More than 3,500 athletes from around the state are expected to compete in Summer Games.

How to save a life

SG trustee rescues neighbor, hopes to spread awareness
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove resident and Village Board member Mari Johnson suspected something was wrong with her neighbor, a man named Bob who is in his late 60s, suffers from health problems and lives alone. Last Saturday, Johnson noticed that she hadn’t seen Bob out for a couple weeks and thought his home was almost “vacant looking.”

“Usually I would at least see him drive around the block. Saturday, I had peeked through his garage and saw that his car was there. I thought something might be wrong, but another neighbor told me not to worry, so I did not go to the door,” she said.

The feeling that something was wrong kept nagging at Johnson throughout the weekend, however, and by Monday she decided to check out the neighbor’s mailbox, which was “jammed with mail.” His garbage cans weren’t out, either, so she finally decided to go to his door. There was no answer, but the house was unlocked. Inside, Johnson and her husband, Kevin, discovered Bob lying unconscious on the middle of his kitchen floor.

“I called the paramedics, and later his daughter told me that the doctors thought he may have been laying there for two days. One more day and he would (have) most likely not made it,” Mari said.

Mari said she didn’t want to be front and center for saving her neighbor’s life, and instead hopes that the incident will be an example of how important it is for people to be aware of their neighbors, especially when they are alone or in poor health.

“All I did is to pay attention to what’s around me,” she said.

Mari said it’s important for people to take note of anything that appears out of the ordinary—newspapers piled up on the lawn, garbage cans not put out on trash pick-up days, etc.

“Even if they’re not in their 80s, you should be aware of any potential signs that something might be wrong. You don’t have to be a nosy neighbor, but you can be an aware neighbor,” she said.

According to Mari, Bob is still in the hospital. However, his status is slowly improving.

National Medication Take-Back Day at the SG Police Department

SUGAR GROVE—This program is part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The DEA works with area agencies twice a year in April and October. This one-day drop-off program will take place Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Sugar Grove Police Department, 10 S. Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove.

Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds—188.5 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners. In its three previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in almost a million pounds—nearly 500 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a public safety and health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. Additionally, flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Bring your medications for disposal to Sugar Grove Police Department, located at 10 S. Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove. The service is free and anonymous; no questions asked. The following is a list of acceptable and not acceptable items.

Acceptable items: non-controlled DEA drugs, medication samples, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, medicated ointments/lotions, vitamins, and medications for pets

Non-acceptable items: thermometers, narcotics/DEA controlled drugs, IV bags, sharps/needles (see below for disposal), bloody or infectious waste and empty containers

Medication Collection

1. Leave items in their original containers. Pill bottles, blister packs, ointment tubes and leak-proof liquid containers are all acceptable.
2. Remove or black out any personal information on the label to protect your privacy.

Year-round medication
drop-off locations:

• Naperville Fire Station No. 4
Route 59 and Brookdale Road, Naperville
9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays
(except on holidays)

• Fox Metro Water Reclamation District
682 Route 31, Oswego, Ill.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday
(except on holidays)

Save green by going green

Community center goes through first winter with geothermal system
by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—J&R Herra, Inc. last November completed the installation of a geothermal system in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center last November, and the center is already seeing the benefits.

A geothermal heating and air conditioning system sounds pretty cool, but just what is it, anyway?

“A geothermal system is basically a ground-source heat pump. What it does is use the Earth’s common temperature to heat and cool (a particular facility),” said Brian Herra, owner of J & R Herra, Inc. In addition to geothermal, the company specializes in plumbing, HVAC and electrical work.

Herra and Co. had their work cut out for them, as the boiler in the community center dated back to 1928, when Calvin Coolidge was president, prohibition was in full effect and no one had ever heard of a “great depression.”

J & R Herra was able to convert the prehistoric boiler to an 8-ton geothermal system by dividing the community center into three mechanical rooms and installing 22 pieces of equipment—from air handlers to compressor units—and adding ductwork to every room in the building.

“The boiler system ran off of water, and we converted it to an air system. Every room had ductwork and a return, so we could add air conditioning, as well. The (community center) never had central air conditioning,” Herra said. “The building now has a duct system in each room to convert over to heating and cooling.”

J & R Herra had to install 60 wells, each measuring 200 feet deep, in the yard south of the building. Those lines were then fused together and run into the building.

Bill Brauer, who is on the community center’s Board of Directors, said he researched the system over the last couple of winters.

“It was time to either get a new boiler in (the community center) or take a look at the other units available,” he said. “We were told about the geothermal program and how there were some grants out there to be had for those who ‘go green.’ We did the research on it, found out the installation of it was probably a little more than a traditional boiler unit would have been. The good thing is that there is no longer any gas in the building at all. It’s now an all-electric system.”

The project was certainly worth the money and time for the community center, as it has reduced its yearly heating and air conditioning bill from the $30,000 to 40,000 range to a modest bill of $5,000 to $6,000.

“Now they have heating and air conditioning, and the reduction in their bill has been tremendous,” Herra said.

Kaneland elementary schools raise over $8,400 for charity

KANELAND—Over the last two weeks, Kaneland’s four elementary schools competed in The Penny Challenge to raise more than $8,400 for charity. The money raised will go directly toward funding research for developing a cure for Neurofibromatosis. All proceeds of the fundraiser will be submitted to The Children’s Tumor Foundation.

The inaugural competition began on April 10 and ran through April 20. Students, teachers, staff and members of the Kaneland community brought in an abundance of cash and currency to place in grade-level jugs as a competition to determine which grade level would raise the most money in each building.

Along with individual grade-level winners, the four elementary schools also competed against one another for top dollars raised. The top fundraising school, and winner of the district’s Penny Challenge traveling trophy, was John Shields Elementary, raising in excess of $3,200.

Church News for April 27

Grace UMC of Maple Park
presents VBS Kickoff

Maple Park—Grace United Methodist Church in Maple Park invites interested families to its VBS Kickoff on Friday, April 27, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the church, 506 Willow St., Maple Park.

At the kickoff event, kids can learn what to expect at this year’s VBS. In addition, they will be able to do some crafts, receive a music CD of this year’s VBS songs, learn one VBS song, and meet some VBS characters, as well as get to enjoy some desserts.

Registration will also open that night for VBS week, which will be held July 23-26, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Additionally, the church will launch its annual mission project, Build Up Our Backpacks, in which the church collects school supplies for the Kaneland School District.

Sugar Grove UMC hosts
benefit spring buffet

Sugar Grove—The Sugar Grove United Methodist Church will host a spring buffet on Saturday, April 28, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Sugar Grove Community House, 141 Main St.

A variety of dishes will be prepared and served by congregation members, with free-will donations being used to support mission outreach programs. Everyone is invited to come and join together for food and fellowship. Call (630) 466-4501 with any questions.

Paul Colman
concert at KUMC

KANEVILLE—Paul Colman, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/entertainer, will perform a concert at Kaneville United Methodist Church on Sunday, April 29, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $17.

For more information, call (630) 557-2483.

Two Guys and
Free Spaghetti
celebrates 3 years

St. Charles—Two Guys and Free Spaghetti will celebrate its third anniversary from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 29, at St. Charles Episcopal Church, 994 N. 5th Ave., St. Charles.

The free dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread and homemade dessert will be accompanied by live music.

For more information, call Joe at (630) 890-6586.

Annual plant sale,
Fay’s BBQ
at Calvary Episcopal

BATAVIA—Calvary Episcopal Church in Batavia will hold two annual fundraisers on Saturday, May 5. Both events will be held rain or shine.

Calvary’s Lay Weeders will host its annual plant sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., offering both perennials and annuals. Proceeds will benefit a variety of programs of the parish.

Later in the day, Fay’s BBQ will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m., offering full chicken, pork chop and combo dinners for just $12 a dinner. All proceeds from the barbecue will go to local charities.

Drive-up orders are welcome, but advance ticket purchase is suggested to avoid disappointment, as the event sold out in past years.

Calvary is located at 222 S. Batavia Ave., on the corner of Route 31 and Main Street. For further information or to get Fay’s tickets, call (630) 879-3378 or visit www.calvaryepiscopalbatavia.com.

Kaneville UMC
hosts Mother-Daughter
Banquet May 6

KANEVILLE—All women of the community are invited to KUMC’s annual Mother-Daughter Banquet on Sunday, May 6, from 5 to 7 p.m.

The program, “Memories,” will feature musing from across several generations of mothers and daughters. Awards, prizes and special music will complete the evening’s program. Bring a dish to pass and your own table service.

For more information, call the church at (630) 557-2353.

On the right ‘track’-tor

Tuesday, April 17, was “Take Your Tractor to School Day” at Kaneland High School. The FFA program is going to have a team of five students compete in Ag Mechanics at the University of Illinois on May 15. The tractors were displayed in the parking lot, and the FFA students held a cookout for whoever wanted to attend. Dan Goress (left to right), Garrett Gamalski and Mike Gorenz gather by a John Deere tractor. Photo by John DiDonna

Cooking at Kaneland

The Cooking For Kids event was held Saturday at Kaneland High School in Maple Park. Food from professional and amateur chefs was provided, and the public voted on the best appetizer, entree and dessert. All money raised will benefit the students of the Kaneland School District. Dr. Harry F. Krauspe, DDS and wife Cheryl show off some of their desserts.

Photo by Patti Wilk

New beginning for WSB

West Suburban Bank, located at 522 Route 47 in Sugar Grove, held a ribbon cutting and after-hours event on April 18. Following the ribbon cutting, there was a plaque ceremony, refreshments and networking. Keith Acker (left to right), president West Suburban Bank/Lombard; Community Development Director Richard Young; Matthew Acker, facility manager for West Suburban Bank/Lombard; village trustee Mari Johnson; Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce Director Sally McClellan; Duane Debs, president and CFO of West Suburban Bank/Downers Grove; Matthew Remus, assistant vice president and branch manager of West Suburban Bank/Sugar Grove; village trustee Rick Montalto; and Bill Jenrich, vice president of Retail Banking, West Suburban Bank. Photo by Patti Wilk

IEMA, FEMA promote National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will join with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the first National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, April 22-28.

Throughout the week, federal, state and local agencies across the nation will encourage people to know their severe weather risks, take action to be prepared and set an example for others.

“Here in Illinois, we’ve already experienced nature’s fury this year with the deadly tornado in southern Illinois,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “We can’t prevent severe weather from happening, but by being better prepared and knowing how to protect ourselves and our loved ones, we can lessen its devastating impact and save lives.”

National Severe Weather Preparedness Week coincides with the one-year anniversary of the deadly tornado outbreak in the central and southern states. Just one month later, Joplin, Mo., was devastated by a tornado.

In 2011, there were more than 1,000 weather-related fatalities and more than 8,000 injuries.

The FEMA/NOAA nationwide preparedness effort encourages people to:

Know your risk
The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could affect you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and sign up for localized alerts from emergency management officials. Severe weather comes in many forms, and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.

Take action
Be a ‘force of nature’ by taking the pledge to prepare at FEMA’s Ready.gov website. When you pledge to prepare, you will take the first step to making sure you and your family are prepared for severe weather. This includes developing a family communications plan, putting an emergency supply kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.

Be an example
Once you’ve taken action and pledged, share your story with your family and friends. Create a YouTube video, post your story on Facebook or send a tweet. IEMA also promotes severe weather preparedness each year during March.

This year, IEMA joined with the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) to increase awareness of weather alert radios. The two organizations joined together to sponsor a month-long weather alert radio contest that drew more than 3,500 participants from around the state. Participants had to read information about weather alert radios and successfully complete a five-question quiz before registering for a chance to win one of 100 weather alert radios to be awarded by IESMA. The winners of the contest will be contacted in the near future by their local emergency management agencies.

Information about severe weather preparedness is available on Illinois’ Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov, on FEMA’s website at Ready.gov or on NOAA’s website, www.noaa.gov/wrn.

KCFB celebrates 100 years, hosts family event

Photo: KCFB Information Director Ryan Klassy points out details in the carving to KCFB members Erwin Panzer, Bernice Maness and Leonard Panzer of Maple Park. The sculpture, at the corner of Randall Road and Oak Street in St. Charles, tops out at 11 feet tall and sports a Kane County Farm Bureau 100th Anniversary logo. Courtesy Photo

KANE COUNTY—The seventh annual Touch-A-Tractor at the Kane County Farm Bureau attracted a steady crowd thanks to the efforts of dozens of member/volunteers. Several events at the April farm-city event helped highlight the Farm Bureau’s centennial celebration.

A tree carving on the corner of the KCFB property, facing Randall Road, made a one-of-a-kind Touch-A-Tractor experience. Professional carver Michael Bihlmaier of Marengo, Ill., turned the base of a trunk of a 120-year-old ash tree, taken down due to disease, into a towering ear of corn.

Bihlmaier used half a dozen chainsaws of varying sizes to chip away at the carving over the course of the three-day event, creating a tribute to Illinois’ number-one commodity crop.

“Ash is a very hard, dry wood so it takes a lot of time,” said Bihlmaier.

His chainsaws hummed away as onlookers waited to see what the sculpture would be. What remained when Bihlmaier hit the off switch on his chainsaw was an 8-foot-tall ear of corn, complete with curling husks that cradle over 350 individually carved kernels of corn. Good weather allowed him to finish the ear of corn before the last Touch-A-Tractor visitor left.

A Kane County Farm Bureau 100th Anniversary logo was all that was left to be added when showers came late in the day on Sunday. The sculpture measures 11 feet tall, from the ground to the tallest point.

“It’s definitely the biggest ear of corn I’ve ever carved,” said Bihlmaier, who has completed hundreds of carvings.

Bihlmaier has award-winning talent, has competed in national carving competitions and is a member of the Echo chainsaw carving team. He used a grinder, dremel and other woodworking tools to add detail to the sculpture.

“We’re really impressed with the job Mike did,” said PR Chair Beth Engel of Hampshire. “The detail is so impressive. It should catch the attention of drivers on Randall Road and give them a reason to stop and see what we’re doing to promote a bright future for agriculture here in Kane County.”

KCFB also kicked off the Centennial Grove tribute program, and visitors were able to get a first-hand look at the trees available for purchase to dedicate to individuals or events.

Another first-time attraction was a 1913 Port Huron steam engine brought in by KCFB member Tom Runty. It was a huge hit with kids and adults.

“The littlest kids seem to have the best understanding of it,” Runty said. “They know it looks like a train, and of course that’s exactly the way it works, like a steam-operated locomotive.”

Runty’s first appearance at Touch-A-Tractor was perfectly timed, as the association is celebrating its centennial. The steam engine, which he bought in 1999 and spent five years restoring, is almost the same age as the Kane County Farm Bureau, which has a date of Dec. 31, 1912, on its charter. Almost every kid, and many adults, took a turn standing on the platform of the 20,000-pound behemoth.

“Because we are celebrating our 100th year, we wanted to make this Touch-A-Tractor one to remember,” said Director and PR committee member Bill Collins. “Thanks to moderate weather conditions and some exceptional equipment and displays, I think we provided a really good experience for the kids—which is what it’s all about.”

The event featured 17 antique tractors, modern farm equipment, farm animals and lots of agricultural activities for children. The weekend wrapped up with the announcement of 21 college-bound recipients of nearly $22,000 in Kane County Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships, followed by the drawing of the winners in the not-for-profit’s annual Winner’s Choice Tractor Raffle fundraiser.

Attendance at the annual farm-city event was estimated at 1,500 people for the three-day event.

Earth Week at WCC

As students, staff and faculty look on, Waubonsee Community College Lead Groundskeeper Joe Zappia explains best tree planting practices in front of a ginkgo tree recently planted on the Sugar Grove campus. The tree planting presentation was one of many activities going on at the college during Earth Week, April 16-20. Courtesy Photo

Elburn looks at emergency lockdown procedures after police chase

by David Maas
ELBURN—Elburn village trustees on Monday discussed current emergency lockdown procedures in the aftermath of Friday’s police high-speed pursuit of a bank robber that concluded in town.

“What happened, are we currently prepared for this, and who notifies the schools?” Trustee Jeff Walter said.

“While we do conduct emergency lockdown drills with the schools, we don’t officially have a procedure currently,” Police Chief Steven Smith said. “We have been planning procedures that we will continue to develop, but this was a perfect storm.”

“I’ve heard from many parents who were upset, that some called the schools and told them not to let out the children, but in that case, how does the district know who is calling?” Walter said.

Aside from the procedures being developed, Smith said a contact system should also be implemented for cases like this.

“Yes, the schools didn’t know who was calling. They had no way of knowing for certain,” Smith said. “We need to have a dispatch center call them, possibly the Sheriff’s office, or a code in place so the schools know who the call is coming from.”

Because both on-duty officers were involved in the chase, there was no one in the department that had time to handle a lockdown situation.

“Nobody knew where the chase was headed,” Smith said. “We would think it was going one way, but he would go another way. There was no indication at all.”

The village of Elburn will now look at this situation, drawing from this instance to further develop procedures to ensure residents’ safety.

“In many situations, especially ones like this, our kids’ safety is the first thing that comes to our minds,” Village President David Anderson said. “Any lessons we can learn from this will help us in the future.”

Police charge Elburn man after high-speed chase

ELBURN—Police captured an Elburn man on Friday following a high-speed chase that ended in the suspect’s hometown.

Police arrested David Ziesel, 32, of the 1100 block of Wise Street in Elburn, on April 20 and charged him with aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer (a Class 4 felony), and resisting a peace officer (a Class A misdemeanor).

Kane County Sheriff’s deputies had been informed of a vehicle pursuit that was traveling west on I-88 near Farnsworth Avenue in Aurora. The vehicle, a 1999 Chevy Suburban, was wanted in connection with a bank robbery in Indiana. The vehicle exited I-88 at Route 31 in North Aurora, where police lost sight of the vehicle.

A Kane County Sheriff’s Deputy then spotted the suspected vehicle traveling west on Main Street, near Deerpath Road in Batavia Township. The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle. It failed to stop and fled west on Main Street at a high rate of speed. The vehicle continued to flee and eventually turned onto Oakwood Drive, off Hughes Road near Elburn.

Ziesel, the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, exited the Suburban as it drove onto a yard. He then ran on foot through several backyards. Eventually, he ran around to the front of his residence and into an open garage, where he was taken into custody by members on the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, Kane County Forrest Preserve Police Department and Elburn Police Department.

Ziesel was examined by medical personnel at the scene but signed a medical release and was transported to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. Members of the FBI and LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office are conducting the investigation into the bank robbery in Indiana.

Local police turned custody of Ziesel over to detectives from the LaPorte County, Indiana, Sheriff’s Office and is not in the custody of the Kane County Sheriff.

The charges against Ziesel are not proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ongoing construction on tap for Elburn area

Elburn/Lily Lake—Prepare for road delays through the summer as a pair of Illinois Department Transportation projects recently began.

A resurfacing project on Illinois 47 from Seavey Road to just north of Welter Road in Elburn began April 9, and will require reducing Illinois 47 to one lane during the daytime hours where construction is taking place. Flaggers will be present.

The tentative completion date is Aug. 1.

Curran Contracting Company, Inc., of Crystal Lake, is the prime contractor on the $2.4 million project.

Motorists should anticipate delays and allow extra time for trips through this area. Please obey the speed limit, observe closure signs and remain alert for workers.

Further north, the Lily Lake area will be impacted through at least mid-November as IDOT is reconstructing the intersection of routes 64 and 47. This project began April 16.

The project initially will require closing Illinois 64 just east of Illinois 47. Traffic will be detoured on LaFox Road and Illinois 38 to reconnect with Illinois 64 via Illinois 47.

Later in the construction season, Illinois 64 will reopen and Illinois 47 just south of Illinois 64 will close. Traffic will be detoured on Illinois 64 and LaFox Road to reconnect with Illinois 47 via Illinois 64.

The improvements consist of reconstructing the intersection to include left-turn lanes for all directions and a new traffic signal. The profile of the roadway also will be raised to improve drainage.

The tentative completion date is Nov. 15. Curran Contracting Company, Inc., of Crystal Lake, is also the prime contractor on the $5.1 million project.

Motorists should anticipate delays and allow extra time for trips through this area. Please obey the speed limit, observe closure signs and remain alert for workers.

Find details on other construction projects in IDOT’s District 1 at http://www.dot.state.il.us. Updates on the impacts to traffic are available at www.travelmidwest.com.

Peterson Prep goes Kaneland’s way in 2012

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—After the 2011 results of the annual Peterson Prep boys track meet at Kaneland, the Knights’ fortunes could only get so much better.

Fortunately for Kaneland, the result of doing only so much better meant first place.

Falling short of West Aurora’s first-place, a year ago, the Knights’ clutch performances in many events meant 84 points, and the Peterson Prep crown.

KHS defeated Geneva (75 points), Burlington Central (64), West Aurora (50) and Yorkville (41) to reign over the Saturday field.

The exceptional outputs were highlighted by Knights like Nate Dyer, who beat the field in both the shot put and discus events.

A sophomore, Dyer threw 48 feet, two inches in the shot, and 153-09 in the discus.

Dyer, who competed in State events as a middle school athlete and earned some valuable experience a year ago, feels this group of throwers can provide point cushions that coach Eric Baron has been looking for the past several seasons.

“It’s been a pretty good meet, and I’ve been feeling good this season and after my throws today. All three of the top throwers here can make big throws,” Dyer said.

Field personnel like Marshall Farthing also had a productive morning, as the junior achieved a personal record in the high jump at 6 feet, 3 inches for third place.

KHS’ effort was apparent in events like the 100 meter dash finals in which senior Sean Carter took fourth with a time of 11.65 seconds.

Junior Dylan Pennington took fifth in the 200m dash finals thanks to a 24.02 time.

“I tried to keep as close as I could to the lead and it worked out,” Pennington said.

Pennington won his preliminary heat with a time of 23.75 seconds, and hopes the production in all his events continues.

“I hope in the 4×200 we can beat the school record. I feel I could be better,” Pennington said.

Dylan Nauert was crowned king of the 300m hurdles with a time of 40.68 seconds.

Meanwhile, in relay clashes, the Knights’ 4x100m foursome took first with a time of 43.78, the 4x200m unit took first with a time of 1:31.31 and the 4x400m relay squad took second at 3:26.62.

Ahead for the Knights’ boys track crew is a trip to the Crystal Lake Central Invite on Friday, April 27, before hosting both Morris and Yorkville on Tuesday, May 1.

Baseball holds own in NIB-12 conference play

Photo: Second baseman Joe Pollastrini tries to turn a double play in the fourth inning, but the ball was just a little late getting to first baseman Jordan Jones during Kaneland’s home game against Yorkville on Monday. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Much like last year, the Knight nine are taking care of business as the calendar turns pages on the season.

Wins over Yorkville, Wheaton Academy and DeKalb have the first-place KHS baseball crew feeling quite good.

Kaneland’s (14-7, 7-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) steady pitching went well with just enough hitting on Thursday in DeKalb.

The 2-1 victory was earned with a single run in the second and fifth innings, and Matt Limbrunner (1-0) took the win in a starting assignment. The tall right-hander went 6.2 innings and allowed no earned runs on four hits.

Ray Barry swiped three bases and scored both runs, while Jordan Jones produced an RBI.

In a 6-0 Saturday shutout of Wheaton Academy, the Knights got help on the mound from Jones, who went five innings and allowed four hits. Barry went 2-for-4 and swiped three more bases, along with his double and two RBI, while Tyler Heinle went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run.

On Monday, the Knights engineered an 8-6 win against the Yorkville Foxes. Down 3-1 in the third, KHS scored two in the third and four in the fourth for a lead before YHS tied matters with runs in the fifth and sixth. Kaneland’s two-run sixth gave the the hosts the edge.

Bryan VanBogaert improved to 2-1 with a win in relief, while Jordan Jones earned the save in a perfect seventh inning.

Tom Fox was 3-for-4 at the plate with a triple and three RBI, while Joe Pollastrini was 2-for-2 with two doubles and a walk.

In Kendall County, the Knights erased a 2-1 deficit with two runs in the top of the seventh to subdue the Foxes.

Trevor Storck improved to 4-0 on the year with a six hitter, in which he allowed just two earned runs.

Tyler Heinle went 1-for-3 with a run scored, as did brother Trever Heinle.

The Knights are at Yorkville on Thursday, April 26.

KHS softball reaches 20-win plateau

Photo: Paige Kuefler gets the runner out trying to steal third base in the fourth inning of Kaneland’s 15-1 home victory over Dixon on Saturday. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Lady Knights softball continues to hit, which may give groans to opponents that see the Kaneland lineup on its upcoming schedule.

In a twinbill with Northern Illinois Big XII West division school Dixon in Maple Park on Saturday, Kaneland brought the aluminum with a 15-1 win in game one and an 11-2 win in game two.

That accompanied a 9-3 win in Streator, Ill., against the Lady Bulldogs on Tuesday afternoon.

The Lady Knights are now 20-5 (5-0 NIB-12, and have now emerged victorious in 19 of their last 21 contests—a sharp contrast from the previous immediate stretch in which the KHS crew lost 21 of 28 games.

The Lady Knights were helped by Ellissa Eckert’s five-inning, complete game effort, in which she allowed just an earned run on four hits.

On the hitting side of the spectrum, Paige Kuefler (2-for-2, two BB, two RBI) supplied the hitting charge.

Game two had the Lady Knights put up an eight-spot in the second, two in the third and one in the fifth for all the offense needed.

The winning pitcher line took the form of Alexis Villarreal’s complete-game four hitter with 10 strikeouts to boot.

Vest took care of business on the mound at Streator, with a three-run, three-hit effort in the circle.

Catcher McKinzie Mangers’ 2-for-2 day with two walks helped the winning effort, while Allyson O’Herron went 2-for-3 with and RBI and a run scored.

Soccer slams West division’s Ottawa

by Mike Slodki
OTTAWA—In the case of Lady Knights soccer, the mix of old and new is gelling enough to make anyone happy.

In a jaunt to LaSalle County on Thursday, Kaneland improved to 6-3-1 and 2-1-1 in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference action with a 4-0 shutout of host Ottawa.

With an early goal by Jessica Coia, and three second half goals, the Lady Knights continue to thrive as of late, with underclass totals in double figures and trying to exterminate the injury bug.

Coia’s rocket of a shot was helped by an assist from Courtney Diddell and Madi Jurcenko just six minutes, 52 seconds in.

The second half was highlighted by a Brittany Olson goal (assist from Diddell) with 24:44 to go in the game, and two Abby Bend goals assisted by Katie Taylor. The scores happened with 22:11 and 19:23 remaining.

The recent good fortune is at the hands, or feet of players like Diddell.

“Courtney is an amazing athlete in general. She make the game look effortless, she does not look like she is going fast, but she is, she has long legs and a long stride that is deceiving. She also has played club ball with a quality club-Campton United,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said.

In frosh/soph kicks, the Lady Knights used three Holly Brasfield goals and two Aislinn Lodwig scores to down Ottawa 6-0.

The varsity soccer crew hosts rival Rochelle on Thursday, April 26.

KHS girls track sees firsts in 4×800, 1600m

Photo: Nicole Ketza gears up for a discus throw during recent action. Ketza and the Lady Knights gear up for the Kane County Meet in North Stars country on Friday, April 27. File photo

DIXON—Interstate 88’s corridor wields some talented girls track rosters, and Kaneland’s intent was to join that group after Friday’s Dixon Invite.

When the points were tabulated, KHS emerged in the middle of the pack of a 10-team invite.

With 55 points, the Lady Knights edged NIB-12 rival Sterling by three points.

Additional NIB-12 outfit Geneseo took the meet with 93, followed by Dixon with 81. Harlem scored third with 76 points and Moline finished fourth with 68.

Kaneland’s bar is at a higher setting for several events, and just in time for the prestigious Kane County Meet occurring this Friday, April 27.

The 4x800m relay foursome of Sydney Strang, Jessica Kucera, Jennifer Howland and Amanda Lesak emerged victorious with a time of 10 minutes, 7.35 seconds, over two seconds better than the team from Dixon.

Strang also got into the act by running away from the fellow 1600m run crowd, thanks to a 5:42.50 time.

The frosh/soph group of Kucera, Rachel Steinmiller, Kyla Goodine and Madison Keith did well by finishing third in the 4x400m relay event with a time of 4:27.24.

Field events went well for KHS in the form of Kelly Evers’ third in the high jump (13 feet, eight inches), and with Shannon Wallace’s third in the pole vault (23-06).

Kaneland’s Kane County trip takes them to St. Charles North High School for a 5 p.m. starting gun.

Rockford now Outlaw country

The Maple Park Outlaws won the Rockford Riverhawks tournament at the Road Ranger Stadium in Rockford on April 7. Maple Park beat the Rockhounds 16-5 in game one, Lake Zurich 7-6 in game two and Wheaton 20-4 in game three to take home the first-place prize in the Round Robin Series. Jeff Violett (front, left to right), Sean O’Shea, Will Ring, Jack Coyle, Tyler Jarka, Matt O’Sullivan and bat boys Brendan O’Shea and Parker Violett. Coach Tom O’Shea (back, left to right), Jake Marczuk, Joe Laudont, Ryan David, Jason Edwards, Tanner Van Horn, Jacob Violett, Coach Jim Van Horn and Coach Tim Laudont.

Courtesy Photo

MP baseball hosts Parents Night Out

MAPLE PARK—Maple Park Baseball will host its 4th annual Parents Night Out Raffle on Saturday, May 12, at 7 p.m. Come to the Maple Park Pub and win meats, sports apparel, golf passes and many other prizes donated by local businesses. There will also be a “stock the bar” and a 50/50 raffle at the end of the evening. Enjoy an evening out and help raise money for the Maple Park Baseball, Softball and T-ball Association.

Anyone interested in donating raffle prizes, please contact Amy at amyj@mapleparkbaseball.net.

Third annual golf outing a charm for Knight boys hoops

KANELAND—Foursomes and sponsorships are going fast, but there is still time to join the Kaneland boys basketball program in a day of fun at the third annual golf outing on Saturday, June 9, held at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove.

The golf outing has been developed to bring together the Kaneland community, athletes, parents, alumni and community businesses.

This fundraiser will raise money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts. Thanks to the support of local businesses and donations, a variety of prizes will be available in the raffle. There will also be a silent auction with exciting prizes. The golf outing will be a scramble and costs $400 for a foursome, or $35 if you’d just like to attend the dinner.

If you are interested in the event, would like to be a sponsor, or make a donation, contact Brian Johnson at (630) 365-5100, ext. 347, or brian.johnson@kaneland.org.