Vehicle collides with pedestrian in SG township

SUGAR GROVE—An accident in unincorported Sugar Grove township has resulted in the death of an Aurora man.

Dean Craig, 54, was walking east on Jericho Road at 7:40 p.m. on Monday when he was struck by an eastbound Toyota Tundra. The collision occured on the stretch of Jericho Road between Dugan and Ashe roads.

Craig was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the truck, Joseph Morgan, 25, of Plano, was uninjured.

According to a Kane County Sheriff’s Office press release, Craig was walking in the area after he was involved in an earlier traffic crash, which occurred at approximately 6 p.m. In that crash, Craig advised he was traveling north on Dugan Road and attempted to make a left turn into a driveway of a residence so he could turn around. Craig attempted to make the turn and proceeded to pull in front of a vehicle traveling south on Dugan Road. Both vehicles were towed due to damage sustained, but neither driver was injured.

Craig was offered a ride by the Sheriff’s Deputy who handled that crash, but refused, stating that he had called a friend who would pick him up.

No citations were issued as a result of the initial crash. The second crash occurred approximately a half hour after the investigation into the first crash was completed.

The press release states that the roadway where the fatal crash occurred is a country road with no lighting and a 55 mph speed limit.

The crash remains under investigation by members of the Sheriff’s Office and Kane County Accident Reconstruction Team. Further details of the crash were unavailable as of press time.

Elburn Village Board approves 2012 tax levy

Assessed home values workshop
Thursday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m.
Blackberry Township office
43W390 Main Street Road, Elburn
For information, contact Uwe Rotter at (630) 365- 6580 or visit www.blackberrytwp.com

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Dec. 3 approved a tentative tax levy of $824,000 for the 2012 tax year—an increase of 22.59 percent over the amount extended from the previous year.

The vote was unanimous, with trustees Ethan Hastert and Jeff Walter absent from the meeting.

Village President Dave Anderson explained that the request is the same amount the village levied for last year. The actual amount extended by the county to Elburn last year was $672,148, and Anderson said he didn’t think the county would approve the amount requested this year, either.

“We’re hoping to hold steady with the $667,000, but we don’t think we’re going to get that much,” he said.

During the public hearing, several Elburn residents expressed their concerns over the levies, as well as the level of services the village is able to provide.

Ron Rosecky said he recalled Anderson saying last winter that the village might not be able to plow unless there were four inches of snow. Rosecky said he wondered if that could be the case this year.

Anderson told him that plowing expenses are often difficult to estimate ahead of time, and the need to pull back on the services would depend on how often the plows were needed this winter.

“This being Dec. 3 and this being 70 degrees, the longer this lasts, the less you will have to worry about it,” Anderson said.

Anderson acknowledged that the scenario in question could happen.

“We on the board take our responsibility very seriously,” he said.

Anderson said the board is ultimately responsible for getting the snow plowed, as well as for police protection and other basic services.

“This board has done an exemplary job of holding the line, but it’s getting harder and harder,” he said.

Anderson also explained that the board has cut close to $400,000 of expenses within the last three to four years.

Other residents in attendance, such as Gene Taylor, said that homeowners were feeling the pinch from all the taxing bodies, including the schools. He said that assessed values remain high, even though actual home values are going down.

“The homeowner is starting to feel the squeeze,” Taylor said. “At some point, you have to say enough is enough.”

Property taxes account for about 30 percent of the entire village budget, Anderson explained. Together with sales tax and the amount the village receives back from the state from resident income taxes, it makes up 90 percent of all funds the village receives.

Anderson said that if residents look at the line items on their property tax bill, they would see that taxes to the village for its expenses make up only 4 percent of the bill.

“That’s for police protection, plowing, among other things,” he said. “The money’s got to come from someplace.”

Anderson suggested that residents attend one of the presentations conducted by Blackberry Township Supervisor Uwe Rotter on assessed home values, and how they are determined.

“It’s done by a three-year rolling average,” Anderson said.

The next workshop will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20, at the Blackberry Township office, 43W390 Main Street Road, Elburn. For more information, contact Rotter at (630) 365-6580 or visit www.blackberrytwp.com.

SG Board discusses Mallard Point wetland infestation

by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village Board trustees on Dec. 4 met with Susan Rowley of Encap Inc. to discuss procedure necessary to address wetland infestation by cattails, willows and common reds in the Mallard Point subdivision.

Rowley noted other problems, such as the absence of deep-rooted vegetation, which results in poorer water quality and lack of diversity that damages soil development and stabilization.

“We’d like to do a few controlled burns, use safe herbicides to remove infesting plants and remove woody species,” she said.

Rowley anticipates that the project will start in early 2013 and consist of “rigorous procedures” through the end of the year. She also advocated a couple of small tasks that would bleed into a second and third year of treatment.

“We hope to reduce Mallard Point down to 60 percent covered by cattails, instead of 100 percent,” Rowley said.

X-C champion presented with key to Elburn village

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board presented Kaneland High School sophomore Victoria Clinton with a key to the village and a certificate of recognition for being the first KHS female to win a cross-country State championship.

Village President Dave Anderson presented Clinton with a key “in case (she) ever find (herself) locked out of the village,” and said he had the opportunity to see Clinton run several races.

“The patience, endurance, ability and the want were really exemplified by this young lady,” he said.

The Kaneland sophomore earned her way into Illinois High School Association and KHS girls cross-country history by winning the State championship in the Class 2A race—the first individual crown in KHS history.

Waubonsee names Dale director of Registration and Records

SUGAR GROVE—The Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees recently appointed Marc Dale Jr. as its director of Registration and Records/Registrar.

Dale, an Aurora resident, began his community college career as a financial aid advisor at Ivy Tech Community College in East Chicago, Ind., in 2009. He was promoted to the position of assistant registrar in September 2010.

Dale earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations from Purdue University, and his master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Chicago State University.

Adams retires after 35 years of service to the SG Community House

Photos: Thanks to Lil’s tireless efforts over the years, a garden was created at the Community Center this summer in honor of her recent retirement. It will forever be known as “Lil’s Garden” and adorned with a plaque. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—Lil Adams, a 45-year Sugar Grove resident and long-time board member, manager and caretaker of the Sugar Grove Community House, is retiring from those responsibilities after 35 years of dedication.

Adams joined the Sugar Grove Township Board of Directors for the Community House in 1977. Upon retiring from her career with AT&T in 1989, Adams took over custodial duties for the building. Since then, she has managed the maintenance of the building, as well as scheduling and managing all the activities and events.
SG_Lil_Adams_3
“I was going to do it until they found someone else,” she said.

The Sugar Grove Community House, built in 1929 for community events and township resident use, has been host to the Scouts, 4-H clubs, homeowners association meetings, youth basketball, soccer and other youth groups, men’s indoor basketball league, Rocky’s DoJo kick-boxing matches, Sugar Grove Fire District pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners, as well as aerobics classes, wedding receptions, showers, anniversary and birthday parties over the years.

“You name it; we’ve had it,” Community House Board President Stan Schumacher said. “Without Lil’s assistance, there’s no way we could have functioned that well in that capacity. It wasn’t just a 9-5 job. Whenever she needed to be there, she was right there.”

Schumacher said that Adams was already on the board when he joined 26 years ago.

“I first met Lil and her husband Tom through the Sugar Grove Young Adults group,” he said. “You could tell her love for that building. She always kept it in tip-top clean shape. Her dedication was seven days a week. She was always right there to make sure people could get in and to lock up afterwards.”

Adams in 2011 was recognized by the village of Sugar Grove last year with the Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year Award. Adams received several nominations for Citizen of the Year from United Methodist Church, Sugar Grove Township, Conley Outreach and many of her close friends. The village also received numerous letters of support from local residents and businesses.

“I never dreamed they would do that (for) me. I had no idea I’d receive the award, even
though a lot of my friends were behind it all,” she said at the time. “It was a very well-kept secret.”

Lil Adams is honored as the 2011 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil by Village President Sean Michels.  File Photo
Lil Adams is honored as the 2011 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil by Village President Sean Michels. File Photo

This spring, while Adams was on vacation, volunteers installed a water feature in front of the Community House in honor of her many years of service. During a dedication of the feature on Nov. 17, a plaque was also mounted on the front of the building so that future generations would know of Adams’ contributions. Native plantings complete the area now known as “Lil’s Garden.”

“That was so nice. It was such an honor,” Adams said. “People out here have been so good to me. I think I’ve been getting too much attention lately.”

Sugar Grove residents don’t see it that way.

“Lil’s a wonderful person, and she loves Sugar Grove,” Sugar Grove Chamber Executive Director Shari Baum said.

Baum said the business community and residents wanted to show how much they appreciate her dedication to the preservation of the building over the past 35 years.

In addition to the Community House, Adams’ community and volunteer work have included the school PTA, Sugar Grove Lions Club, Sugar Grove Election Board, Sugar Grove Corn Boil, as well as her roles with the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church. Adams has managed the church’s pie-baking efforts over the years for the annual Corn Boil, performed in the handbell choir, and served on various committees and boards.

Adams has been helping with the transition to the new custodians, and will serve on the board until next April. Then she said she is going to sit back and relax a bit more.

“It’s real soothing just to sit on the bench (outside the Community House) and listen to the water flow,” she said.

But Adams won’t sit still for too long. In addition to her church activities, she belongs to the Red Hat Ladies Club out of Oswego, goes to movies, and plays cards and dominos with her fellow club members.

“There are a lot of nice ladies in the group,” she said.

Of her years with the Community House, Adams said that it has been a great experience.
“I met a lot of nice people, had a lot of parties, big responsibilities and a “very, very nice board to work with,” she said.

When she joined the board, Dale Storck and Elaine Fox were trustees. Schumacher replaced Storck, and Jerry Murphy recently became a trustee.

“Our community owes a great deal of gratitude to Lil for everything she has done for them,” Schumacher said.

Photos: 2012 Elburn Christmas Stroll

Five-month-old Dylan Jump (right) of DeKalb doesn’t know what to make of Santa at the Town and
Country Public Library during the Elburn Christmas Stroll on Friday.

Xmas_Stroll_4
Grace Algrim, 9, and her grandma, Becky Hale, create crafts during the Christmas Stroll.

Xmas_Stroll_2
Xmas_Stroll_7
Santa Claus greets riders of all ages on the Polar Express train located at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center. The train loaded up and took spectators throughout the grounds and around Christmas-themed inflatables.

Xmas_Stroll_3
Kyle of Maple Park gives his ticket to Elburn Herald Editor Keith Beebe at the Life-Sized Kandyland game. The Elburn Herald has been doing the game for nearly 15 years and was excited for the challenge of setting up in the Community Center. The turnout was over 700 at this year’s event.

Xmas_Stroll_5
The Holiday Craft Faire was in full swing at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center on Friday during the stroll. There were more than 10 crafter tables, as well as businesses set up to help visitors. This year’s wreath auction was also well received, bringing in over 10 decorated wreaths for visitors to bid on and purchase.

Xmas_Stroll_6
The Kasap family of Elburn—Lydia, Lauren and Jordan—check out the Elburn Fire Department displays during the Christmas Stroll.

Photos by Kimberly Anderson

Church news for Dec. 14

St. Mary’s of Maple Park
Christmas Cookie Sale

MAPLE PARK—St. Mary’s of Maple Park annual Christmas Cookie Sale will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Novak Center, County Line Road in Maple Park.
New this year are pictures with Santa Claus and refreshments presented by St. Mary’s Knights of Columbus. Choose your own homemade cookies for $6 per pound. Advance orders for assorted cookies may be placed any time before Wednesday, Dec. 12.
For more information or advance orders, call Anne at (815) 827-3302.

Seniors Bingo
event at St. Gall

ELBURN—St. Gall Church will host a free Bingo afternoon for local seniors on Sunday, Dec. 16, noon to 2 p.m. in the parish hall. This free event is open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
St. Gall is located at 120 W. Shannon St in Elburn. For more information, contact the parish office at (630) 365-6030.

Book of Genesis study
ST. CHARLES—The study of the Book of Genesis will be given by Bible Study Fellowship International on Wednesday mornings, 9:10 to 11 a.m. from now until May 2013 at Riverside Community Church, St. Charles.
A preschool program is available for members. Visit www.bsfinternational.org for more information.

Board approves 2012 tax levy

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Tuesday voted 6-0 to approve the 2012 tax levy.

The total 2012 levy is $49,366,195, and includes a 4.93 percent increase over taxes that were extended in operating funds last year, as well as a .99 percent decrease from taxes extended in last year’s bond and interest fund. As a result, the total levy increase in 2012 is 3.83 percent.

Levy amounts include: an education fund of $30,172,470; an operations and maintenance fund of $4,242,000; transportation fund of $2,626,000; working cash fund of $101,000; municipal retirement fund of $505,000; Social Security fund of $707,000; and special education fund of $2,227,050.

Aurora resident Jerry Elliott, who authored a letter to the editor in the Dec. 6 issue of the Elburn Herald, stating his disagreement with the projected tax levy numbers discussed at the Kaneland School Board meeting on Oct. 29, spoke during the public hearing portion of the tax levy discussion and voiced his pleasure with the reduced final levy amount.

“I really have no objection with (those numbers). Thank you for fixing that,” he said.

“The public was served well,” board member Tony Valente added.

Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, stated during the meeting that the reduced amount was due to the fact that she hadn’t received estimates from DeKalb County at the time the tentative levy was introduced in October. With the DeKalb County numbers in place, Fuchs was able to reduce manual override column amounts by $400,000 in the operations and maintenance fund, $100,000 in the transportation fund and $795,000 in the special education fund. The 2 percent balloon amount was also cut in half.

Board member Joe Oberweis stated that the final levy was essentially the same as the tentative levy.

“The only question is how much we overestimated by,” he said.

Lady Knight streak ends

Photos by Patti Wilk

Kaneland’s season-opening win streak falls in loss to DeKalb
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The opening season unbeaten streak for the Lady Knights basketball team came to an end Tuesday against DeKalb, but not before earning a tough overtime win over Sycamore last Thursday.

After navigating through a tough and tight battle and seeing the game almost slip away with under a second remaining, the Lady Knights used an extra quarter to dispense of visiting Sycamore on Thursday, 44-37.

Middle presence Ashley Prost paced the Lady Knights with 11 points, while Lauren Goff of Sycamore had a game-high 12.

Kaneland was 15-for-40 from the field on Thursday, but 13-for-18 from the foul line.

The fourth quarter began with Kaneland up 24-22, and a Sarah Grams pull-up jumper eventually gave KHS a 32-27 lead, but two baskets by the Lady Spartans made it 32-31 with 2:58 remaining.

Two foul shots by Grams with 1:41 to go extended the lead to 34-31, but an SHS basket with 28.3 to go made it 34-33.

Sycamore would get one last possession, and a Prost foul sent the visitors to the line with .1 second left.

“It wasn’t a position we wanted to be in,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “We just got fortunate and caught a break.”

After the front end of the two shots was made, it was on to overtime, where Brooke Harner scored the first two baskets and KHS kept the lead doing with foul shots from Aly O’Herron, Prost and Grams.

“Our main goal is to make the other team take a time out within the first two minutes and keep up the defense, and the offense will follow after,” Harner said.

Kaneland led 10-8 after one quarter, and trailed 14-13 at halftime.

“They had us dribbling too much early on, kind of got us frustrated. They had us throwing the ball for longer passes than we wanted to, and they got to us that way,” Colombe said.

In the third, baskets by Prost and Harner, along with a free throw from Emma Bradford, gave KHS a 20-16 lead.

Marina Schaefer’s two baskets made it 24-19 with 1:14 left, setting the state for the final quarter.

The streak ended at seven games when DeKalb stifled the Lady Knights offense. Kaneland fell 31-17 in a game that saw just three Kaneland players change the scoreboard.

Bradford led the way with 11 points, O’Herron contributed five points, and Marina Schaeffer added one.

Kaneland sits at 7-1 (2-1 Northern Illinois Big XII). The team gets set for a new holiday tourney entry beginning Saturday, Dec. 15, with the Ottawa Tournament.

Boys step into pressure cooker

Photo: Kaneland varsity head coach Brian Johnson (right) tries to settle down his players in the third period at Sycamore. Photos by John DiDonna

Sycamore ‘D’ too much; KHS nabs win over H-BR
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—There would be no duplicating the last-second magic of late November like the Kaneland boys basketball team had against Morris. The host Sycamore Spartans made absolutely sure of that on Friday along Spartan Trail.

However, another game came down to the wire on Tuesday against Hinckley-Big Rock (H-BR), and this time the Knights came through in a 44-42 win.

Against Sycamore, a stingy press meant Kaneland was playing catch-up for the entire duration of the Northern Illinois Big XII meeting between the rival Knights and Spartans, with Sycamore earning a 60-46 win.

For Sycamore, Devin Mottet had 17 points, while KHS was paced by Matt Limbrunner’s 19. Dan Miller added nine.

Kaneland was 7-for-10 from the foul line.

A Tyler Carlson jumper with 4:24 remaining in the first deadlocked the affair at four apiece, but Sycamore went 4-for-5 from the field and made six foul shots to go up 19-7 at the end of the first, and continued its run into the next quarter to go up 23-7 before Miller’s offensive putback with 4:53 remaining in the half. Kaneland’s scoring drought lasted 5:20.

Down 27-11, the Knights went on a 9-2 run to close the half, thanks to a three-point play by Limbrunner, two foul shots by Bailey Harvell, two foul shots by Carlson and a basket by Limbrunner.

Sycamore’s fortunes were lifted by a fast tempo and key baskets by Mottet to go up 41-22 with 3:36 left.

Kaneland closed the third frame on an 8-2 run, stamped by a Cole Carlson putback with 22.6 to go.

Sycamore saw its lead go up to 15, but Kaneland got within 10 on four occasions, only to get no closer.

KHS coach Brian Johnson surveyed the difficult task with an improved Spartans contingent.

“This isn’t the Sycamore of the last few years; they’re a good team,” Johnson said. “They’re well coached and played extremely hard. We have to stick to our philosophy in beating those types of presses, and we didn’t really do it.”

Against H-BR, Kaneland used an 11-4 third quarter advantage to overcome a three-point halftime deficit to propel them to a much needed victory.

Matt Limbrunner led the team with 14 points, including three three-pointers. John Pruett added 12 points, and Carlson chipped in 10.

Kaneland now sits at 2-4 on the season. The Knights will battle host DeKalb Barbs on Friday, Dec. 14.

Tough week for Knight matmen

Photo: Kaneland’s Stephen Gust doesn’t let his opponent attack him during his match
at DeKalb on Dec. 6. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—If a team is going to have a difficult week, it is much better to have them in early December than in February.

Kaneland High School dual action through 2012-13 has it at a 4-5 record, after losses to Cary-Grove 66-12 and host Crystal Lake Central 46-18 back on Dec. 5, as well as a Thursday loss to DeKalb.

At the still-new digs along Dresser Road in DeKalb, the NIB-12 offering featured three key wins by the Knights.

At 145-pounds, Dan Goress took a technical fall, while 220-pounder Nick Sharp earned a pinfall, as did 285-pound teammate Justin Diddell.

Kaneland’s odds were more daunting with four forfeit loses on the night.

The Knights also learned their individual postseason assignment, as they’ll head to Sycamore.

The grouping also features Belvidere, Belvidere North, Burlington Central, Glenbard South, Rockford Boylan, Rockford East, Sycamore and St. Francis of Wheaton.

Top finishers in the regional head to Rochelle for the sectional.

In the thick of things by the end of the season could be those included in the current Class AA illinoismatmen.com rankings, like 113-pounder Stephen Gust (No. 4), 132-pounder Esai Ponce (No.2), Goress (No. 5), Sharp (No. 7) and heavyweight Zach Theis (No. 12).

The Knights strap on the singlets to host fellow conference cornerstone Yorkville on Thursday, Dec. 13.

Kaneland senior Sonny Horn (138 pounds) tries to pull down his opponent at DeKalb on Dec. 6. Sonny went on to win this match. 											           Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland senior Sonny Horn (138 pounds) tries to pull down his opponent at DeKalb on Dec. 6. Sonny went on to win this match. Photo by John DiDonna

Cougars to host meet-and-greet with Santa, Ozzie

Event at ballpark to include ornament, cookie decorating
GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars will host a Christmas Meet and Greet event, featuring Santa Claus and Ozzie T. Cougar, on Saturday, Dec. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon inside the upper deck level at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

Children can meet Santa and Ozzie, pose for photos, as well as take part in numerous holiday activities inside the upper deck level. Those activities include a coloring station, ornament decorating station and a cookie decorating station.

The event is free, although there is a nominal cost for participating in the ornament and cookie decorating activities. A portion of proceeds will benefit Ozzie’s Outreach, the Cougars’ charitable foundation.

Fans are also asked to bring a gently used coat or sweatshirt. All collected items will be donated to area residents who are in need of warm clothing this winter. Fans who donate an item will receive four undated ticket vouchers, valid for a 2013 regular season Cougars game.

Additional information on the Christmas Meet and Greet event is available by calling (630) 232-8811 or visiting www.kccougars.com.

Letter: Elburn Leo Club helps serve veterans

The Elburn Leo Club recently served a Veterans Day dinner for our local veterans, and provided 86 care packages for veterans currently receiving treatment at the Hines VA Hospital.

The Elburn Leo Club is an extension of the Elburn Lions Club. We are a youth group of service-minded individuals ranging in age from 13-18 years old. We also have junior Leo Club members ranging in age from 8-12 years old. Our mission is to make a difference through leadership, experience and opportunity.

We are continuing with our appreciation to veterans by adopting a platoon of approximately 300 Navy sailors. We need your help with this service project to benefit the deployed troops. We are seeking donations of products, as well as cash donations to help offset the expenses associated with purchasing and shipping the items requested. Donations will be accepted until Monday, Dec. 31.

We are seeking donations of the following items: coffee grounds or Keurig pods, single flavor packets for water bottles, candy, toothpaste, toothbrushes, socks, Ream’s Elburn Market beef jerky and sausage sticks (set them know it is for the troops so they can package it properly), etc.

If you will be making a cash donation, please make checks payable to Elburn Leo Club.

We also would like to send well wishes from home and support for their service. Please consider writing a letter with words of encouragement and support for the troops. We will enclose the personal letters with the care packages to show our appreciation for their service and dedication to our country. Mail donations and letters to: Elburn Leo Club, Attn: Pam Hall, 500 Filmore St., Elburn, IL 60119.

Call (630) 365-6315 to make arrangements to drop off donations at Elburn Lions Community Park (500 Filmore St., Elburn).

To learn more about our group, visit www.elburnlions.com or email pamh@elburnlions.com.

Pam Hall
Elburn Lions Club president,
Elburn Leo Club advisor

Letter: Illinois public schools achieve despite challenges

As the leaders of organizations representing public school administrators, principals, teachers and school board members in Illinois—the education professionals and the people working on the front lines in our public schools—we feel it is important to respond to the recent “report card” issued by the private group Advance Illinois.

While we agree with Advance Illinois that we need to continue to strive to improve public education, we do not agree that an arbitrary “grade” of C- is an accurate depiction of what is going on in our public schools and, as such, it inappropriately erodes public support for education.

More than half of Illinois schools serve concentrations of at least 40 percent disadvantaged students, up from 35 percent 10 years ago, and the report notes “in the face of this demographic shift, Illinois’ academic performance improved modestly in the core subjects of reading and math” across all demographic and economic groups. The report states that Illinois has improved its national ranking as other states facing similar demographic change declined.

Included in the data but never mentioned publicly is this fact: When it comes to the percentage of students demonstrating college readiness on all four benchmarks on the ACT test, Illinois was No. 1 among the nine states in the nation that administered the ACT to all of its graduating class of 2012. It’s apples to oranges to compare Illinois with states where the test is mostly taken only by college-bound students, but even compared to that group Illinois ranked 12th in the nation.

The U.S. Department of Education released its graduation report just last week for the 2010-11 school year, and Illinois ranked 10th nationally with a graduation rate of 84 percent, just 4 percent from the top spot.

We would be the first to say that we must improve on closing the achievement gaps in Illinois. Having said that, the new federal report showed that, with regard to graduation rate, Illinois ranked eighth for Black and African American students (74 percent), seventh for Hispanic/Latino students (77 percent), seventh for White students (89 percent), 11th for Limited English Proficient students (68 percent) and ninth for Economically Disadvantaged students (75 percent).

This has been achieved despite the fact that Illinois ranks at or near the bottom in the nation in state funding for education, and has suffered an 11 percent cut in General State Aid and a 42 percent cut in transportation funding in the past three years.

We agree with Advance Illinois on many of the issues facing public education, such as the value of a strong Early Education program and the fact that the growing poverty problem is one of the biggest issues facing public education. We hope that the education reform package and Common Core Standards will be thoughtfully implemented to support, not just rank, principals and teachers so that teaching and learning improve.

Regardless of the arbitrary grade we are given, or even if we rank No. 1 in a particular category—as we do in the percentage of the graduating class of 2012 that meets all four ACT benchmarks for college readiness—we know we have more to do. As the names at the bottom of this letter attest, administrators, principals, teachers and school board members jointly remain committed to improving the quality of education for the children of our state.

Dr. Brent Clark
Executive Director
Illinois Association of School Administrators

Dr. Michael A. Jacoby
Executive Director
Illinois Association of
School Business Officials

Jason Leahy
Executive Director
Illinois Principals Association

Roger L. Eddy
Executive Director
Illinois Association of School Boards

Cinda Klickna
President
Illinois Education Association

Daniel J. Montgomery
President
Illinois Federation of Teachers

Letter: A thank you from the Pazin family

We would like to thank the greatest family, neighbors, friends and strangers for their thoughts and prayers through this most difficult time these past weeks. It means so much to us.

As far as our daughter Erin, we are thankful she is here with us today. We know that faith, hope, love, time and, of course, the continued prayers and support we have received, will be the only thing to get her through this.

And most of all, please continue to keep Zach’s father and mother, Mike and Dee Dee Bingham, in your prayers.

May God bless Zach. We love you and we will miss you.

Barry, Patty, Julia, Shannon and,
most of all, Erin Pazin

Editorial: A thank you to residents for making Kandyland 2012 a success

The Elburn Herald would like to say thank you to everyone who participated in the Kandyland event during the Elburn Christmas Stroll on Friday evening. This was our first Kandyland at our new location in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, and we were unsure of how local residents would respond to a world of life-sized candy and wonder in the Community Center’s dance studio.

That sense of uncertainty proved unnecessary, as public turnout for the event was phenomenal, making it one of the most successful Kandylands in recent memory.

The change in venue actually turned out to be an excellent perk, as many residents were able to attend the Holiday Bazaar in the Community Center gymnasium, and then scoot over to play Kandyland next door. Location wasn’t the only change made to Kandyland this year, either. New wrinkles in the Kandyland experience, including a green “instant win” piece and a white “wild card” piece, made the game a little fresher and more fun. These changes were clearly popular with the kids who participated, as the expression on their face was as joyous as ever.

Those expressions are absolutely the reason we continue to host Kandyland each year. To know that we’ve helped make the Elburn Christmas Stroll a little more fun for local residents—children and adults alike—gives us a feeling of warmth, appreciation and purpose that lives on long after the Christmas Stroll ends and our Kandyland trees and props are put away for the year.

We would like to give a special thank you to the Elburn and Countryside Community Center for helping us continue on the Kandyland tradition within our new digs. The staff here was incredibly helpful and supportive from set-up to tear-down, and we couldn’t have done it without them.

A very special thank you goes to Elburn Herald Design Director Leslie Flint, who always strives to put together the best Kandyland yet. Flint puts countless, grueling hours into coordinating and staging Kandyland each year, and she is absolutely the heart and soul of the event. We shudder to imagine what Kandyland would look like without Flint’s input and design know-how.

As the Elburn Christmas Stroll gives way to the rest of the holiday season, we prepare ourselves for Christmas and New Year’s while also keeping an eye on December 2013. Needless to say, we can’t wait for the next installment of Kandyland.

Elburn trustee earns recognition from employer for veterans program

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Jeff Walter on Monday was awarded the 2012 President’s Diversity Award by Blue Cross Blue Shield for his role in veteran hiring and veterans’ issues.

Walter, an Elburn village trustee, served for nine years in the United States Navy and 13 years in the Navy reserves. He began a grassroots effort at Health Care Service Corporation a couple of years ago to hire more veterans, and reached out to other veterans within HCSC, the parent company of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.

Walter began the process through educating hiring managers on the benefits of hiring veterans. HCSC began tracking progress in June of this year; since then, the company has hired more than 40 veterans.

In addition, 250 current employees within the company have been identified as veterans.

Walter, a senior manager of Information Technology Portfolio Solutions, understood from his own experience with the transition from a military background to the corporate world, that there are a number of skill sets veterans possess that translate quite well to the corporate setting. Helping corporate hiring managers gain an understanding of how to translate military jargon to visualize the contribution vets can make was the first step.

Walter contributed to the creation of a training video for HCSC hiring managers that identified valuable skills veterans gain in the military, such as leadership, integrity, dependability, mission-focus, discipline, being a team player, problem-solving skills and performance under stress.

Kathy Gaston, Walter’s coworker and a manager in the Portfolio Management group, worked with Walter on this initiative and said she knows first-hand the value that military experience can bring.

“People with military experience have the skills and the attitude that I want to hire for,” Gaston said. “There is a benefit in hiring for attitude and skills, and training for specific knowledge.”

Walter, Gaston and other task force members attend job fairs with company recruiters to assist with the screening process. In conjunction with the human resources department, the task force has identified specific jobs within the company—such as information technology, analytic positions, communications, customer service and business support—that lend themselves well to the veterans’ skill sets.

The company is working to obtain recognition as a “G.I.-friendly company,” Walter said, emphasizing that hiring veterans and others with diverse backgrounds just makes good business sense.

Nine veterans this year have participated in the company’s JAVA computer programming language boot camp.

“We’re giving these (vets) careers, not just a job—a place where they can grow and get an education,” Walter said.

Illinois Treasurer encourages residents to take advantage of college savings plan

ILLINOIS—By taking action before the end of December, families who hope to help their children afford a college education can receive a boost in their accumulated savings. Three specific tax benefits can be realized by adding a Bright Start 529 College Savings Plan to year-end tax planning strategies. Bright Start contributions even make perfect holiday gifts for children, grandchildren or any loved ones.

In Illinois, those who contribute to a Bright Start 529 plan receive three particular tax benefits:
• Contributions are deductible from personal income generating a 5 percent benefit based on the state’s current income tax rate.
• Earnings grow tax free over the life of the account.
• Withdrawals are not taxed when used for qualified education expenses.

“For families who want to save for college, Bright Start accounts are an outstanding tool. For as little as $25 to begin, people can start saving for education and realizing the tax benefits,” said Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford. “But remember, time is running short to take advantage of deductions on your 2012 Illinois taxes—contributions need to be made by the end of December. I urge parents and grandparents to consider these college savings accounts as thoughtful, meaningful holiday gifts for loved ones.

Illinois raised its individual income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent back in 2011. However, the state does allow for contributions to its Bright Start College Savings Plan to be deducted from personal income, lowering most individual’s state tax bill by 5 percent of their Bright Start contributions. In essence, most parents who contribute $10,000 realize a “bonus” of $500 in a lowered tax bill.

With the end-of-year tax deduction deadline approaching, today’s a good day to invest in a loved one’s education. Maximum contributions of up to $10,000 for an individual, or $20,000 if married and filing jointly, can be deducted from your Illinois state taxable income each year. One can even rollover a 529 plan account from another state and deduct the amount of their contributions made to the former plan.

For more information on Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s Bright Start College Savings Program, visit www.treasurer.il.gov and click on the college savings link, or go directly to the program’s website at www.BrightStartSavings.com.

Matthew James Peck

Greg and Krista Peck of Galva, Ill., announce the birth of their son, Matthew James, who was born Nov. 11, 2012, at Henry Hammond Hospital in Geneseo, Ill. He weighed 8 pounds and was 21 inches long.

The maternal grandparents are Mark and Patty Compton of Oneida, Ill. The paternal grandparents are Marv Peck of Cambridge, Ill., and Chris Wexell of Galva. The maternal great-grandparent is Sally Compton of Elburn. The paternal great-grandparents are Millie Peck of Galva and Joan Doss of Cambridge.

SG official coordinates Christmas letters to soldiers

by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—The holidays can be difficult for those who have family members serving in the military, but there is a bit of relief in knowing that a group of Sugar Grove kids are sending cards to many troops serving in Afghanistan.

Sugar Grove Village Board trustee David Paluch has worked the past three years with John Shields Elementary School Principal Shelly Hueber to have kids, grades K-5, make handmade cards for the troops.

In addition, some of the cards from the older kids include magazine articles, crossword puzzles and word jumbles to help soldiers pass the time.

“It’s especially touching to read a card made by a 5-year-old thanking (the soldier) for protecting our country,” Paluch said. “It’s really heart-warming because the cards are so cute and creative.”

Paluch is also working with the Sugar Grove American Legion to send out the cards in care packages to military bases all over the world.

Paluch has already picked up about 75 cards, and plans to send some to his cousin. Another set will be sent to a Sugar Grove resident serving in Afghanistan. Some cards will be sent from the American Legion.

“I can’t imagine how hard it must be for them to be so far away from their family and friends at this time of year, so this is a way to help make their holidays a little better,” Paluch said. “My cousin Chris is serving right now, so this hits home for me.

John Shields Elementary students are also constructing walls made of paper bricks. Each brick contains individual messages and pictures unique to each student. One wall is already completed and covers a section of a hallway; another wall is currently under construction.

For residents interested in getting involved and helping out, Paluch said it couldn’t be easier to contribute.

“It is very easy to get involved, and there are a few things you can do. I encourage as many people as possible to get involved if they can,” he said.

Paluch suggested sending cards around at work or at school and bringing them to Sugar Grove Village Hall, 10 Municipal Drive in Sugar Grove. Cards sent by a family or by individuals can also be brought to the Village Hall.

People may also donate items for care packages and money to help with the cost of shipping. Donated items and funds should be dropped off at the Sugar Grove American Legion, 65 First St., Sugar Grove.

Authentic Moms Swap Shop expands to fill needs

Next Authentic Moms Swap Shop
Friday, May 3, and
Saturday, May 4
(drop off on May 3; pick up on May 4)
Elburn Community Center
525 N. Main St., Elburn
authenticmoms@gmail.com

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—An Elgin mom whose daughter is expecting a baby visited the Authentic Moms Swap Shop at the Elburn Community Center last Saturday and told swap shop coordinator Nicole Duski, an Elburn mom, that she was hoping to find a crib for the new arrival.

Although there were no cribs in the gym, Dulski took the woman’s phone number just in case one showed up. A few hours later, a grandfather came by to say he had a crib. He returned with the crib, a brand new mattress, extra blankets and directions for how to put it together.

All that was needed was a person on their way to Elgin who could take the crib to the woman. Soon, that person came along.

“I never know how it’s going to turn out,” Dulski said. “But God does. It all works out so perfectly.”

“It” is what has become a semi-annual event at the Community Center, one swap shop in December, right before Christmas, and one in May, just in time for spring. Put on by a group of women from various churches who call themselves “the authentic moms,” the event has grown over the past couple of years, with more people coming and more people giving.

On Friday, the gymnasium was filled with neatly folded children’s clothes sorted by size, as well as toys, video games and DVDs, strollers, high chairs and car seats, many of which looked almost brand new. On Saturday, moms (and dads) were walking past the tables and looking through the items, mostly for Christmas presents for their children, or for an item that would fill a need or a want.

The difference between this and Christmas shopping scenes elsewhere is that, instead of the shoppers paying for the presents or putting them on their charge cards, they would be taking them home for free.

The swap shop began with the Christian mothers group that formed about five years ago. The women, who attend several different churches and various Bible study groups, get together on a regular basis for dinner, fellowship and to support each other as moms.

The swapping began informally, because children are always outgrowing things and moms always need things for their kids.

The group decided a few years ago to open up the swap to the wider community, Dulski said. These moms feel it is their responsibility as Christians to help others in this way. They are inspired by the scriptures that tell them to love others both in word and in deed, Elburn resident Jill Olson said.

At the top of the flyer announcing the event are the words of the Bible verse 1 John 3:16-18.

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, and yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word and talk but in deed and truth,” the verse states.

“The Christmas one is near and dear to my heart, especially during this economy, when so many people are struggling,” Duski said. “It’s definitely a group effort. There are a lot of faithful women and men who help make it happen.
We couldn’t do this without all of them.”

Long-time Elburn resident Loretta Rausch said that it is great to see the community come together in this way.

“I think it makes a lot of people realize how much they have and how much they have to give,” she said. “For me, personally, it was so wonderful to see this one young family leave with a pair of shoes that my son had outgrown. That money they would have spent is now freed up for them to buy medicine or groceries.”

Rausch explained that the rule of thumb for donations is that it should be in good enough shape that you would not be embarrassed to give to a friend.

“It’s an opportunity for families to pass on items to others that they don’t need anymore,” Dulski said. “The majority of the people who donate are just ordinary people, and when they give, they find that they get back so much more.
It’s an opportunity to love other people and the blessings that stem from there.”

She said that it’s also a chance to teach their children that it’s not all about what they have, and an opportunity to introduce another generation to the spirit of giving.

Rausch said she loves seeing the looks on the children’s faces.

“They realize that somebody cares,” she said. “How can you beat that?”

Photos: Christmas in Kaneville

Riders (right) return from a tour of the town during the Kaneville Christmas celebration.


Gunner Barrett (left), 21 months, really liked seeing Santa at the Kaneville Fire
Department during the Christmas in Kaneville event.


Katee Werrline hands out free snacks and drinks at Hill’s Country Store in Kaneville.




Photos by John DiDonna

Filing dates for Elburn Consolidated Election candidates

ELBURN—Candidates for the Elburn 2013 Consolidated Election may file their nominating petitions with the Village of Elburn Clerk, Diane D. McQuilkin, at Village Hall, 301 E. North St., Elburn, during the following dates and times: Monday, Dec. 17, 7 to 8 a.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 19, noon to 1 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 22, 9 to 10 a.m.; and Wednesday, Dec. 26, 4:30 to 5 p.m.

Nomination papers must include the following: statement of candidacy, nominating petition sheets, receipt for filing of statement of economic interests, and loyalty oath (optional).

Village of Elburn staff are not permitted to dispense legal advice. Candidates are urged to consult with their own attorneys.

Make and Take in Maple Park


The Maple Park Fun Fest committee sponsored a Kids’ Holiday Make and Take on Nov. 28 at the Maple Park American Legion. Different craft stations were set up to give children the opportunity to explore their crafting side this holiday season. Here, Joshua Stover
creates some candy cane art. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

6th-grade students present ‘Energy Expo’

KANELAND—On Wednesday, Nov. 28, the Harter Middle School sixth-grade red team presented an “Energy Expo,” an interdisciplinary unit, for their families and friends during first and ninth period.

In groups of three or four students in literature classes that are taught by all four core teachers, the students were assigned a kind of energy from five renewable energies and four nonrenewable energies. After a month of work in their five core classes, the groups of three or four students were able to display all of their researched items on trifolds and explain them in short prepared speeches for their guests.

Each trifold contained bar, line and circle graphs done in Microsoft Excel from math class; three maps: local, national and international from social studies class; a diagram and paragraph of the process of obtaining the kind of energy from science class; and three different kinds of paragraphs from communication skills.

All of these items were researched using three different kinds of sources in literature, science and communication skills classes. The trifolds, speeches and bibliographies were completed in literature classes before the big day. All of these parts of the project were some of the new common core objectives.

Kaneland School District preschool screening

KANELAND—Kaneland School District Special Services on Friday, Dec. 14, at MorningStar Church in Aurora, will conduct a preschool screening for students who may qualify for special education.

KSD children, ages 3-5 who are suspected of having any delays in developmental milestones, are encouraged to attend the screening. This is not a kindergarten screening.

Child and Family Connections will be on hand to screen children, ages birth to 3, for suspected developmental delays.

For more information or to schedule a screening appointment, call the Kaneland Special Services District Office at (630) 365-5100, ext. 158.

Christmas crafts

Saturday’s Holiday in the Grove event featured events all over the village of Sugar Grove, including a craft show and ornament making at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School. Helen Touchton of Sugar Grove helps her son, Alex, 3, with his ornament, as Kyra Warren, 3, of Sugar Grove, makes her own. Matt Seidel (below, right), 7, of Sugar Grove, shows his St. Bernard T-shirt to Ziggy Stardust from the Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club. The therapy dogs were at the library again this year as part of the village-wide Holiday in the Grove event. Visitors of the Sugar Grove Public Library (below, left) had a chance to read to the dogs of the Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club. The Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club is a volunteer organization providing a wide variety of canine-assisted therapy programs and services in the communities of Kendall, Kane and DuPage counties in Illinois since 2002.


Photos by Ben Draper

Westman appointed to American Sociological Association Committee

SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College Associate Professor of Sociology Kathy Westman was recently appointed to the American Sociological Association (ASA) Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE). Her two-year term will begin in January 2013.

As the national organization for sociologists, ASA works to promote the discipline. COPE has responsibility for promoting ethical conduct by sociologists through development and sponsorship of educational activities for members and other sociologists, investigation of complaints concerning the ethical conduct of members, and imposition of sanctions when a violation of the ASA Code of Ethics has occurred.