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Our name is mud at Elburn Days

The 85th annual Elburn Days festival is just a month away, and with it will come great food and drink, fun carnival rides and kid activities, first-rate musical entertainment and, last but not least, the Elburn Herald’s Mud Volleyball tournament.

This will be our sixth year sponsoring the Mud Volleyball tournament at Elburn Days, and it will take place Sunday, Aug. 17, at Elburn Lions Park, 500 Filmore St. Check-in will begin at 11:30 a.m., and fun, muddy chaos will soon follow.

As usual, the Mud Volleyball event will feature six courts, and there’s room for 48 teams, which equates to somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 players. Teams are co-ed, six-to-eight players, with at least two females. All team members must be at least 18 years of age.

First- and second-place teams are recognized in the single-elimination tournament.

The Mud Volleyball participation fee is $85 per team if registered before Friday, July 25. A limited number of T-shirts is available for teams that register early. The fee will increase to $110 after July 25.

For more information, email Leslie Flint at ads@elburnherald.com. To register, visit www.elburnherald.com/volleyball, download the form and return it with payment to the Elburn Herald office, 525 N. Main St., Elburn, IL 60119.

We’ll see you next month at Elburn Days. Enjoy the food, rides and music, and then get ready to enjoy volleyball in the mud with your friends and family.

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Building blocks that created a village

In part one of its three-part series, the Elburn Herald takes a look back at the individuals and groups that helped
establish Sugar Grove not only as a village, but also as an ideal place to put down roots and raise a family

SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Township was first settled in the 1830s, mainly by easterners from New York and Ohio, who had heard of the area’s open prairies, forests, plentiful game and good water. Several local area residents have roots going back to these first settlers.

Everett Whildin’s family has been farming in the area for generations, ever since his great-great-grandfather Richard Whildin first came to Sugar Grove in 1837. Richard, originally from Wales, brought with him his wife Louisa, whom he had met in New York.

Patsy Mighell (pronounced Mile) Paxton, an Aurora Township resident, is the descendant of two of the Sugar Grove Township’s earliest settlers, Ezekiel and Lucinda Todd Mighell. According to Paxton, Ezekiel first walked the 800 miles from his farm near Dryden, N.Y., in 1836 to check out the area before going back for his wife and five children.

Ezekiel chose a site in the southwest corner of the township, near what would later become Prairie and McCannon roads. According to Paxton, he purchased the land for $1.25 an acre.

Sugar Grove resident Ruth Frantz’s great-great-grandfather Levi Todd, Lucinda’s brother, moved to the area based on Mighell’s recommendation, settling in the area near Dugan Road and Route 30.

The early residents of the township settled in four small clusters throughout the area, instead of coming together to create one main village.

Paxton recently wrote a history of Sugar Grove Township titled “Sin-Qua-Sip,” the Native American name for the area. Sin-Qua-Sip, or “Sugar Camp,” refers to the stands of sugar maple trees in the area. According to Paxton, in the spring the Pottawattamie tribe would travel from their permanent camp along the Fox River to tap the maple trees for syrup to use in their cooking.

This grove of sugar maples would eventually become part of what is now known as Bliss Woods.

In addition to the prairie that the first settlers turned into farmland, each family had its own wood lot within Bliss Woods, where they obtained the timber to heat their homes.

The earliest settlers held their first Fourth of July celebration in 1834 in Bliss Woods. The Sugar Grove Historical Society and the Kane County Forest Preserve Commission later placed a sign commemorating the spot, which remains there today.

Sugar Grove resident and naturalist Mary Oschenschlager said that Bliss Woods has always been an important feature of the area. Full of rare plants and geological and cultural history, the diverse ecosystem includes woods, oak savannah and marsh, and 240 plant species, including a large variety of wildflowers and an impressive collection of trees.

Bliss Woods is also home to a unique and increasingly rare geologic feature, the Kaneville Esker. The esker is a ridge of gravel, rocks and sediment left by a river flowing underneath the melting glacier from approximately 13,000 years ago. Oschenschlager said that after years of gravel mining, most of the esker is gone, but they have been lucky to have saved some of it.

These ecological and geological features led to the designation of a portion of Bliss Woods as an Illinois State Nature Preserve. The Kane County Forest Preserve District, also recognizing its value, purchased the Bliss Woods property in order to preserve it.

Sugar Grove remains a small farming community into mid-20th century
Sugar Grove Township remained mostly a small farming community from the 1830s to the mid-20th century. Farming, especially dairy farming, was an important business to the area for many years.

The Ingham & Paull cheese factory located at Galena Boulevard and Densmore Road during the 1860s, purchased the milk for its operation from the dairy farmers in the area.

Peleg Young Bliss, one of the early settlers, opened a successful mercantile in 1839 at the corner of Bliss and Merrill roads. The Bliss House was later moved to its current location at 259 Main St., where preservationist Barb Hollmeier spent the next five years restoring it. The building currently houses the Sugar Grove Historical Society.

Keck’s store on Main Street was, for a number of years, the only retail business in town. Will E. Keck bought the building, and his son, William Roscoe “Spiv” Keck, eventually took over the operation of the store, where residents would buy groceries and other household items.

According to Elaine (Keck) Fox, Spiv’s daughter, her dad would buy sides of beef from the packing plant in Aurora, and cut it into steaks and grind it into hamburger to sell in the store. He bought his eggs from Alan’s Hatchery, located north of Sugar Grove.

Elaine said her dad eventually expanded the store to include hardware, where people could also buy work clothes and have keys made and screens and glass cut.

“Dad always hired a lot of people from town—kids and stay-at-home moms,” Elaine said. “He would work their hours around their schedules.”

A number of people recalled that you could charge what you bought at the Keck Store.

“I can remember going up to Keck’s grocery store and buying a pound of hamburger and saying, ‘Will you put this on my bill?’” resident Karen McCannon said.

The store housed one of the four fire phones and a button to activate the siren that alerted the firefighters of a fire. For a time, the local post office was also located there.

The Keck family still owns the building at 231 N. Main St., where a home decor business is currently located.

Another building still standing on Main Street from that era is the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church. The original building was constructed in 1888, with the fellowship and Sunday school wing added many years later. Many Sugar Grove families have been active members of the church for generations.

During the early 1900s, the area was home to a grain elevator and mill, lumber and coal business, a blacksmith shop, the West Hotel, and the J.S. Miller Store, ice cream parlor and pool hall.

The Sugar Grove Township Community House, located across Main Street from the church, was built in 1929 by Leigh Sauer, Edgar Snow, Ben McCannon and others for community events and township residents’ use. The building includes a basketball court, as well as meeting rooms and spaces to hold lunches and dinners.

The women from the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church stocked the kitchen, with dishes, pots and pans and other equipment, still in use today.

Over the years, the building has been host to the scouts, 4-H clubs, youth athletic groups, a men’s indoor basketball league, Fire District pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners, as well as aerobics classes, wedding receptions, showers, anniversary and birthday parties. For a time, the library was also housed there.

Sugar Grove incorporates in 1957
The village was incorporated in 1957, with a population of 125. The Aurora Airport, built around the same time in North Aurora, relocated to Sugar Grove Township in 1960.

Residential development began to take place during the early 1960s, beginning with the construction of Richards’ subdivision on the east side of Route 47.

Ruth and Groff Frantz and their children were among the first residents within the Richards’ subdivision. Ruth recalled that when they moved in, the roads within the development were just being built. There were no fences, and she said that her backyard was always full of children.

“Everyone knew who the kids were,” she said. “If you saw somebody doing wrong (even if it wasn’t your child), you yelled at them.”

Joan Perrin and her husband, Gerald, who was from Kansas, moved into the Richards’ development about the same time as Ruth and Groff. Gerald worked as an air traffic controller at the Aurora Air Traffic Control Center.

Joan was one of the organizers of a summer program created in 1968 to provide activities for the children. Volunteers taught classes in archery, golf, tennis, volleyball, arts and crafts, nature studies and more. She and a number of the other mothers took the children swimming to a pool in Yorkville, provided Friday night dances, hayrides and other activities for the teens, and held picnics and street dances, with a Wednesday night family night.

The activities were free to the children, because of contributions from the local businesses, social organizations and individuals. She said they even had enough money to hire a director, and Willa McCannon Bretthauer signed up for the job. Many of the parents helped out, either by driving the children or providing other types of assistance.

“We ran it for about three years,” she said. “We had a great program going for awhile.”

Before a formal park district was created, parents were the park district, Frantz said.

“When you have children, you’re involved in everything,” she said.

McCannon said that she and her husband Mick spent many years helping out with the youth baseball program.

“We raised our kids on the baseball field,” she said with a laugh. “We carried around catcher’s equipment, balls and bats and a playpen in our car.”

Karen, who came to Sugar Grove in 1965, said the McCannons have lived in the community for generations and have been involved in many community projects and activities through the years.

Mick’s father, Willis, was one of the charter members of the volunteer fire department and was township supervisor for a time. Mick’s mother, Grace, was instrumental in creating the community’s first library. And Mick and his cousin, Ted McCannon, brought a number of people together to build the Volunteer Pavilion in Volunteer Park.

“Mick was the general contractor and Ted got the land,” Karen said.

Karen, whose grandchildren are the sixth generation of McCannons in Sugar Grove, said she has appreciated being a part of this community. She said that when her father passed away, her neighbors came over and did her laundry, began packing her suitcase and had arranged for care for her children and her animals before she got home.

“When you needed them, the neighbors were right there,” Karen said.

Sugar Grove continued to grow, and a special census in 1965 put the population at 562. In 1967, the population was set at 1,230.

The Sugar Grove Newspaper began publication in 1969, and for more than two decades reported on the news of the day. Helen Jorgensen was the editor, Karen McCannon was the front page editor, and since Ruth Frantz owned a mimeograph machine, she ran off the copies.

A total of 10 women participated in its operation, and a group of children in town delivered it free-of-charge to the residents.

Oschenschlager, who moved to Sugar Grove in 1975, said that as a new resident and a young mother, she had really appreciated receiving the newspaper.

Development continued in Sugar Grove throughout the 1970s, with the annexation of Dugan Woods subdivision in 1977. Development of the Windstone, Black Walnut Trails, Strafford Woods, Mallard Point, and Chelsea Meadows subdivisions began in late 1980s and continued into the late 1990s.

The population reached 2,005 in 1990. The development of Windsor Pointe and the Walnut Woods Subdivision from the late 1990s into the early 2000s pushed the 2000 census numbers to 3,909.

But the same volunteer spirit continued. Whether the Sugar Grove Farmer’s Market, the Village Board or the annual Corn Boil, it’s the volunteers who continue to make things happen.

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Sugar Grove Farmers Market continues to grow

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Farmers Market this year is bigger and better than ever, along with a wider selection of vendors for patrons to choose from, according to head volunteer Pat Graceffa.

“We have fresh veggies, fruit, eggs, meat, cheese, bread, bakery (items) and cupcakes, too, along with native plants, beautiful flowering baskets, jewelry, makeup, Tupperware, Pampered Chef and gourmet dog treats,” Graceffa said. “So (we have) something for everyone in the family.”

Graceffa, a longtime Sugar Grove resident, helps with the organization of the Sugar Grove Farmers Market. The event takes place every Saturday, rain or shine, in the Sugar Grove Village Hall parking lot, 10 Municipal Drive and Route 30, from 8 a.m. to noon during the months of June, July, August and September.

Last year, there were requests from the community for the farmers market to feature additional vendors.

“Our turnout has been good in the last three weeks,” Graceffa said. “People told us last year that they wanted more vendors. Well, this year we have the vendors. Now we need more people from our community and surrounding communities to come out weekly and support the market. It is Illinois fresh, and we need to support our Illinois farms.”

Graceffa is passionate about buying local produce from local farmers. She believes it is important for people to eat food that is natural and as close to the original source as possible.

“It is good to talk to the actual farmer who is raising the veggies or meat that you will be serving your family for dinner tonight,” she said.

And there is an abundance of fresh produce at the farmers market. Milt Westlake of Norway Farms Produce has been a farmer for several decades and is currently bringing his fresh produce each Saturday to the Sugar Grove event.

In addition to featuring a plethora of vegetables, Norway Farms Produce also offers jams, butter and salsa from a company in Georgia. They also have popcorn that Westlake has been growing for 40 years, according to his employee, Dawn Howard.

Howard commented on the success of this year’s farmers market thus far.

“It’s been good,” she said. “Pat is the best at getting it out there and scheduling posts on Facebook. She’ll talk about what she’ll buy here, and other people will comment on her post with different things they bought.”

Amazing Breads & Cakes, LLC, a family-owned business out of Yorkville, regularly brings its healthy breads, goods and jellies to the Sugar Grove Farmers Market on Saturdays. Their breads and other goods are all natural (non-GMO) and organic. They are all made from local ingredients with no preservatives or sugar. A few of their regular breads they bring are country, whole grain, sourdough, cheese bread, rosemary potato, French bread, different variety of pizza crusts and more.

Curds and Whey Cheese Company is setting up shop at the farmer’s market on a regular basis. Owner Rob Murphy works with a number of farmers and importers in the city.

“We have very fresh cheese,” Murphy said. “Our cheeses range from local to European. Our best seller is fresh mozzarella this time of the year.”

Makeup is also a part of the market on Saturdays. Vicky Johnson-Lamb of Woodridge, Ill., and Khadija Khan of Oswego, Ill., are Mary Kay consultants who have been devoting some of their time to the farmer’s market.

“I’m a newer consultant, so I thought it would be great to go with Vicki to the farmers market,” Khan said. “It’s been great so far. Pat has been a great help, too.”

Baked goods are prevalent in the form of cupcakes, as well. Chelsea Turner of West Aurora has attended the farmers market the past five weeks with her business, Cupcakes by Chelsea.

“I used to bake when I was little, and I decided to start baking again,” Turner said.

Turner creates all her own recipes from scratch and brings a variety of her creations every Saturday. Last Saturday, she had strawberry, cinnamon, cookie dough and s’more. She also accepts custom orders.

“I just had one lady order 30 cupcakes,” Turner said. “People are so friendly here.”

Photo: Organizers of the Sugar Grove Farmers Market have made a push for more vendors for the 2014 market, and hope the community continues to support it. The Sugar Grove Farmers Market takes place at 10 Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove, from 8 a.m. to noon ever Saturday, through September. Photo submitted by Pat Graceffa to NJunes@elburnherald.com


Inaugural Elburn Chowdown a success

ELBURN—The weather, the people, the board of directors—everything and everyone came together to make the inaugural Chowdown at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center a success.

The event, which took place on Sunday, served several purposes—it was a community picnic, a tool to help build awareness in the Community Center, and also the kickoff for the “Adopt-A-Window” program.

Volunteer program director Kristen Damolaris said she was incredibly happy with the turnout for the event.

“It’s more than I expected,” she said. “And the generosity of the sponsors has been incredible.”

Along with a visit from the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, music, martial arts demonstrations and a chance to put a picture on a wanted poster or an Elburn Herald front page, a pig roast meal was available thanks to a number of sponsors.

“The whole (Community Center) board was here, and the turnout was more than I expected,” Damolaris said.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” board member Brian Herra said.

Board president Pat Leyden credited Damolaris and Leslie Flint of the Elburn Herald, a tenant in the community center, with putting the event together.

“They came to us with the idea, and the board gave their blessing,” Leyden said. “We need to have more events like this.”

Leyden said proceeds from the event will benefit ongoing renovation of the building.

“It’s going slowly,” Leyden said.

Ryan Wells, Elburn Herald owner and publisher, and a Community Center board member, said events like the Chowdown are good for visibility.

“There’s a misconception that the Community Center is publicly funded,” Wells said. “There is no tax money helping us out.”

The event also served to kick off the center’s “Adopt-A-Window” campaign. With more than 60 windows that need to be painted, caulked and resealed, funding is needed. Windows may be adopted for $100 each, and sponsors will be recognized with a plaque in the building’s front foyer.

Before the Chowdown ended, Damoloris said she had four window adoptees, and was confident in several more.

For more information on available office space, renting space for events or meetings, or to adopt a window, contact Damolaris at (630) 365-6655.


Dudzinski bides time before next step

Europe a possibility for former Knight roundball talent
KANELAND—After another workout bordering six hours, KHS Class of 2010 member Dave Dudzinski has a philosophy surrounding his plan of attack.

“I want to make this my career,” he said.

Home for two-and-a-half weeks, the 6-foot-9 frontcourt presence has spent this summer doing what he spent eight years total at Kaneland and the Patriot League’s Holy Cross College: honing his court game.

Fresh off an All-Patriot League senior year which saw him average a steady 15.2 points per game, Dudzinski has been working out regularly at KHS with future Aurora University Spartan Tyler Carlson with the purpose of solidifying his skills and waiting for that call.

Now signed with Boston-based Pro Partner Sports Management, an agency that houses many American college players who have gone to play in Europe, Dudzinski feels that could be the next step.

“They’ve been good to me and I trust them,” Dudzinski said. “They mostly deal with guys from America that have gone to Europe. They’ve had talks with teams in Switzerland, Belgium, France and Romania. Spain and Italy are the most talented leagues; that’d be like graduating college and going right to management.”

Dudzinski would love to hit the NBA peak, but is also realistic coming from the small Division I Holy Cross.

“My skillset is not NBA-ready, but I have to keep training. I want to be physical enough for Europe and to be a ‘stretch 4,’” Dudzinski said. “I’m looking at this as my job.”

Last month also gave Dudzinski a glimpse at what the job at the highest level of play would entail, as he was one of six college players invited to a pre-draft workout with the Boston Celtics at their practice facility in Waltham, Mass.

“It was extremely tough, but it was cool to see guys like (Miami Heat player) Shabazz Napier and (Michigan State player) Keith Appling leading up to the draft. Just to be there was cool,” Dudzinski said. “You get a feel for how they do it in the NBA.”

Dudzinski’s trajectory, dating back to his time bumping bodies in the Western Sun Conference paint, has seen constant improvement, always with an eye on what’s ahead.

“I think I’m a lot more comfortable playing in front of bigger crowds now,” Dudzinski said. “I’m a smarter player, and I became more of a vocal leader at Holy Cross. I think all of that gives me a better shot.”


Knights nine close out summer session

KANELAND—It was time well-spent, if you’re Kaneland High School baseball.

The summer session for baseball teams usually involved getting the capable athletes to play in tandem with one another, and hope for better things in nine months time.

Kaneland (20-10-3) was able to see how it was able to play together and how much hope it could have after its performance in the IHSBCA St. Charles East Regional on Monday against Cary-Grove High School and on Tuesday against Batavia.

The Knights fell in a 5-4 squeaker to No. 7 Batavia on Tuesday, after vanquishing the No. 15 seed Trojans by a 4-1 clip on Monday.

KHS coach Brian Aversa felt the Knight lineup acclimated well once school was out.

“Guys were really settling in,” Aversa said. “A lot of these guys are seniors now and they owned it. They know that win or lose, it’s on them.”

Batavia was set for a Wednesday semifinal matchup against St. Charles East/Geneva at regional host St. Charles East. The game was not completed in time for press.

The Bulldogs lineup got to Knights starter Steven Limbrunner early on Tuesday, connecting for five runs in the first three innings of action thanks to a single, three doubles and a triple. Matt O’Sullivan shut the door on Batavia’s lineup in the final four innings.

KHS came back in the third inning as Joe Panico was hit by a pitch and Austin Wheatley singled. Two batters later, a Nick Stratman grounder went under the third baseman’s legs allowing Panico to score. Two batters later, Matt Rosko’s two-run double made it 5-3.

Kaneland would cut it to 5-4 in the fifth after a Stratman RBI groundout scored Wheatley, but that play would close out the scoring for the afternoon.

“Batavia’s a good team,” Aversa said. “It was nice for our guys to battle. There were things we couldn’t control, but I wouldn’t feel bad.”

Kaneland also did battle beginning on July 7 at the Wood Bat Tournament hosted by St. Charles East.

As the fourth seed in Pool A, the July 7 meetings had KHS lose to St. Charles East 3-2 and St. Charles North 5-1. July 8 saw Kaneland best regional final foe St. Francis 7-4 to conclude the Wood Bat festivities.

Additionally, Kaneland had two members of the lineup, catcher Joe Laudont and infielder Danny Hammermeister, get a slot on the 2014 Wayne DeMaar All-Division team that also included players from St. Charles North, Geneva, West Chicago, St. Charles East, Batavia, Larkin and St. Francis.

Before the Wood Bat action, KHS also went on a tour of early-season staple Cincinnati and took second in the Cincinnati Fourth of July Baseball Tournament that went four days. The Knights rattled off four straight wins before losing to the Cincinnati Mustangs 7-3 in the championship.

Unloaded Right Guard

Elburn Lions make donation to help small town rebuild

Photo: Elburn Lion and District 1-J Vice District Governor Chris Halsey (right) hands boxes of Right Guard deodorant to Gifford Lion Roy Roberts and other Lions Club members, including District 1-E Governor William “Butch” Guennewig (in background) of Arcola, Ill., in late March at St. Paul Lutheran Church’s community pantry. The deodorant is a gift from the Elburn Lions Club, which has also pledged to send a truckload of Dial soap. Photo submitted by Tim Evans/Rantoul Press

GIFFORD, ILL.—If you ever wonder where your money goes when you spend it at an Elburn Lions function, a recent donation the Lions made in Gifford, Ill., provides a clear answer.

The tornadoes that devastated parts of downstate Illinois last November caught the attention of the Elburn Lions Club, and members began a fundraising effort to do what they could to help.

Lions Linda Callaghan and Kristen Damolaris made posters, sent press releases to local newspapers and placed donation drop boxes at businesses around town. They were able to raise a total of $4,600 through these donations, and the Elburn Lions Club contributed an additional amount to make it $10,000.

Although the destruction in downstate Washington, Ill., was the most widely publicized, Elburn Lion and Illinois District 1-J District Governor Chris Halsey discovered that the town of Gifford, a small rural town of approximately 900 residents, had suffered significant losses, as well.

Halsey made a trip to Gifford last winter to do some research on the damage, and brought back images of homes that had been damaged, as well as empty lots where houses had been. Nearly 30 homes had been destroyed and more than 40 had experienced major damage.

Halsey learned that the tornado had also damaged the town’s main water supply, wiping out its water tower and water treatment facility. Through the winter, portable water treatment equipment was set up in a tent heated with propane to keep it from freezing.

“It was pretty devastating at first,” said Maureen Ackerman, wife of Gifford mayor Derald Ackerman.

Halsey made another trip to Gifford in March to present the check to Mayor Ackerman. Ackerman, who is also a Gifford Lions Club member, accepted the check on behalf of the town.

“Since it was from one Lions Club to another, we were pretty confident that it would be dispersed appropriately,” Elburn Lions Club Secretary Chuck Galauner said.

Ackerman said that the Gifford Lions Club has set up a tornado relief fund through a local bank, where the money has been deposited. A committee will distribute the funds to people in need as they go about getting their homes rebuilt and redone.

“It was such a rough winter; it was hard to get anything done then,” Ackerman said. “But things are starting to look up and a lot of homes are now being rebuilt.”


Local firefighters burn donated house for training

After using a donated house to train in for about a year, firefighters from Elburn and Countryside, Kaneville and Big Rock trained with live fire before burning the house to the ground on June 28.

“We’ve been training in the house for well over a year,” said Elburn and Countryside Assistant Fire Chief Tate Haley. “We’ve done search and rescue, ventilation and learning how to work a hose through the house.”

During the final training exercise, Tate said they set small fires inside the house, in various rooms, until it was no longer safe, and then just allowed the house and garage to burn to the ground. The exercise originally was scheduled for last fall, but concern for the dry crops in the adjoining farm field postponed the event.

513 Haley said his department invited the other area departments for the experience. Sugar Grove firefighters planned to join the final exercise until a death took precedence, and they bowed out.

With the exception of being called to the scene, Saturday’s training exercise, primarily for new recruits, was treated as a real fire call. Several of the more experienced firefighters were on the scene as early as 6 a.m. boarding up the windows in the house after placing wooden pallets and hay bales inside to burn.

“The pallets feed the fire and the hay creates a lot of smoke,” said Kaneville firefighter Harry Meyer as smoke wafted from cracks around the plywood covering the windows.

Recruit Jameson “Sonny” Horn has completed the fire training academy, but he said this was his first live fire in a house. The 19-year-old from Sugar Grove, an Elburn and Countryside recruit, intends to be a professional firefighter.

“Training is going well,” Horn said as he geared up for his first turn in the house. “But you’re always just a little nervous going into a fire.”
Kaneville recruit Steve Shaulis admitted he, too, was a little nervous, but “it was kinda cool.”

Joe Miller, another Elburn-Countryside recruit, was in rehab even though he hadn’t been in the house.

“Rehab is a safety check,” said Jim Werner, an Elburn and Countryside firefighter-paramedic. “We hydrate and check vitals, and make them stay here until their vitals come back to normal.

“We’ll sweat a bit today,” Werner said of his colleagues wearing about 50 pounds of turnout gear. “We just want to make sure we’re not burning out our people, for lack of a better term.”

Photos by Patti Wilk


Summer Theatre readies ‘Once Upon A Mattress’

Photo: The cast of “Once Upon A Mattress” rehearsed on Monday evening. The show will be performed in the Kaneland High School auditorium July 11-13 and 18-20. This will be Kaneland Arts Initiative’s fifth annual Summer Theatre production. ‘The Minstrel’ will be played by Teresa Arnold (from left) of Hoffman Estates, Ill., while ‘The Jester’ will be played by Stephen Hommowun of St. Charles, and ‘King Sextimus the Silent’ will be played by Peter Lopatin of Sugar Grove.

KANELAND—Pamela Gianakakos may be a first-grade teacher at Kaneland McDole Elementary School, but these days she’s also a princess from the swamp.

That’s because Gianakakos is playing the role of Princess Winnifred the Kaneland Arts Initiative’s (KAI) upcoming Summer Theatre production, “Once Upon a Mattress,” which will take place this weekend, July 11-13, and next weekend, July 18-20.

Before she hit the stage for rehearsal, Gianakakos sat on the makeup table in front of a mirror lined with lightbulbs. She was dressed in a huckleberry peasant-style costume draped in seaweed, and with a tiny gold crown on top of her head.

“This is the role I’ve always wanted to play,” she said. “So it’s kind of like a dream come true. So that’s what makes this summer show so special to me.”

Monday marked the first day of “tech week” for the Summer Theatre production. Maria Dripps-Paulson, executive director of KAI, and producer and pit orchestra director for “Once Upon A Mattress,” stood in the long rectangular pit, directing 20 musicians. She waved a baton in hand, keeping the beat as strings, percussion, brass and woodwinds created music.

“Let’s do that again,” Dripps-Paulson said. “I want to go faster.”

Meanwhile, a stack of “mattresses” covered in plain and patterned material, standing about 7 feet tall, had been rolled across the stage, making its exit.

Dreamy strings sounded as actors practiced a song between father and son characters. The father is King Sextimus the Silent, played by Peter Lopatin. Prince Dauntless the Drab is played by Alec Kovach. Lopatin is a Kaneland School Board member; Kovach is a Kaneland High School graduate.

Dripps-Paulson explained what makes Summer Theatre productions “so great.”

“What makes it unique for us yearly is that we get people who have never been on stage before to people who are veterans at any age,” she said.

The cast is made up of people ranging from ages 11 to 68. They are mostly from the Kaneland area, with some from St. Charles, Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Yorkville and Geneva.

Diane McFarlin, director of the production, gave the cast lots of advice before it ran through the first half of the production.

She explained what the cast will have to do after the pit orchestra plays at the beginning.

“We pick it up from there,” McFarlin said. “You sell it at the beginning; you come alive with such a punch.”
She banged her fist into her hand for emphasis.

Audience members can expect creative dance moves, a huge gray castle standing 20 feet tall and a mirror dropping from a ceiling.

There’s plenty of singing and some romantic moments in store, as well. And a certain princess from the swamp acts and sings with a boldness and heart.

Erica Johnson, 15, lives in the Maple Park area. She plays two roles: a lady in waiting and The Nightingale of Samarkand. She will be singing while perched in a humongous cage.

“Sometimes we all get nervous (about performing on stage),” Johnson said. “It goes away once you’re on stage. And you get used to it.”

Nia Damgova, 17, of St. Charles, will play the cello in the pit.

“It’s really exciting because you get to watch everyone,” she said.

Lopatin, who is McFarlin’s husband, explained what it’s like to have the energy from the audience while performing on stage.

“Oh, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “And the audience is such an important part of every play. It really makes a difference for the actors—that kind of give-and-take back and forth is a terrific experience.”

Friday and Saturday performances for “Once Upon A Mattress” will begin at 7 p.m. Sunday performances are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens, and $25 for a Family Ticket, which admits all family members currently living in one household.

Groups interested in seeing the show should call (630) 365-5100, ext. 180, for group-rate pricing. For more information, visit www.kanelandartsinitiative.org.


Kranz takes valuable pole position

2007 Kaneland graduate Sam Kranz (right), at the KHS pole vault summer camp June 27, is now a coach at Murray State University in Murray, Ky. Kranz gets a low-five from current Kaneland High School pole vault coach Andy Drendel (below, far right) after clearing 17 feet. Photos by Patti Wilk

Knight track alum important aspect of Murray State program
MURRAY, KY.—Sam Kranz, a member of Kaneland’s Class of 2007, has seen his track fortunes take him many places in the continental United States.

Most recently, he was in Los Angeles on the grounds of the U.S. Olympic Training Center at the Emerging Elite clinic for coaches of all levels, picking the brains of invited coaches and Olympic athletes.

That’s just another tool in Kranz’s coaching arsenal, which brings him back to Murray State University in Murray, Ky., where he was a women’s track graduate assistant, concentrating in pole vault.

A State qualifier in IHSA boys track for the Kaneland pole vault factory, Kranz, who lives in Murray, came over from his alma mater Northern Iowa after spending a year as a graduate assistant.

“It was kind of strange being a mentor to kids at that level after recently competing, but the kids understand after awhile once you put on the polo,” Kranz said.
On head coach Jenny Severns’ staff, Kranz is using his skills and acumen in an Ohio Valley Conference that is ripe for the taking.

“The OVC is in a real interesting spot, with your pole vault and high jump in kind of a weak spot conference-wise, but the triple jumps are up there with the best in the nation,” Kranz said.

Kranz knows what success and training can yield, and hopes the Racers program can improve on its 60-point, seventh-place team finish at the OVC meet.

“We had a girl earn a personal record by 2-and-a-half feet this year and another by over a foot, but there’s enough to look back on to see what we could have done differently,” Kranz said.

Kranz is also aiming to up his game in recruiting.

“Recruiting is such a big part of this,” Kranz said. “We’re not at the point where we can point to a lot of success at Murray for something like pole vault. That’s what I want to be able to point out to girls that we talk to in a couple of years.”

The Racer coaching staff member can draw on top-notch influences that he gathered as an athlete and give back from anywhere from a Kaneland pole vault camp to a conference meet in Edwardsville, Ill.

“I draw on anyone from Dan Steele, who was at Northern Iowa, to my dad, who founded his own company and is president,” Kranz said. “I can talk with them about anything and they are really good mentors and there are some similarities that overlap. They influence how I do this. I’ll continue to work hard and help develop the program.”

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Community Center to host Chow Down July 13

ELBURN—Take a look at the family calendar. Nothing scheduled for Sunday, July 13?

Bring the whole gang to the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, 525 N. Main St., for an old-fashioned community picnic known as the Chow Down. Most of the available events, which will appeal to entire families, are free.

Scheduled from noon to 6 p.m., the event will include a DJ, bags, volleyball, touch-a-truck and a pig roast dinner for $10 per person, according to Chow Down Committee Chair Leslie Flint, one of the many tenants of the community center.

“All of the money raised that day will go to community center projects,” Flint said.

Kristen Damolaris, the Community Center’s volunteer program director, said most of the businesses in the center are participating in some way.

Creative Beginnings Preschool will offer a coloring activity for the kids; Midtown Martial Arts, which has been in the building almost 20 years, will conduct a 50/50 raffle and demonstrations; the Elburn Herald and Kaneland Publications Inc. will host a front-page makeover and funny photo booth.

Other tenants include H&R Green, Inc. Board, GTP Activewear and Screenprinting, Jazzercize and Yoga with Lynn.

“We’re always looking for more tenants; we have suites available,” Damolaris said.

She said the building will be open for the day to showcase the improvements already made.

“We’ve painted floors and cleaned from top to bottom,” Damolaris said.

All funds raised will be added to the parking lot fund and used for “long overdue updates,” she said.

The event also will kick off the center’s “Adopt-A-Window” program. Damolaris said she is seeking participants to adopt a window and pay a small fee to have it painted, caulked and resealed.

“We’re trying to get the building updated so we can start doing more for the community,” Damolaris said. “We want to bring the community back to the community center.”

photo 4

Summer basics

Orosco’s offseason spent making imprint on grapplers
KANELAND—With his hiring in late-May, new Kaneland Knights wrestling coach Joe Orosco could be spotted last week in the Wisconsin Dells area.

It was anything but a breezy four days.

Orosco helmed the Knights through the Malacek Team Wrestling Camp—through clinics and duals—and feels good in the offseason before the 2014-15 campaign.

“There isn’t going to be a big learning curve,” Orosco said. “It’s just about getting to know the kids, and I’ve seen and worked with 10 or 12 of these kids already through various levels and clubs.”

With the Monty Jahns era coming to an end after seven seasons, the good news is Orosco, an Aurora police officer, doesn’t have to deal with a complete reteaching of what it means to have success on the mat. The last two seasons have seen an uptick in dual and conference success and a steady stream of qualifiers for the Champaign mats. Orosco, a former East Aurora mat warrior, is taking the summer to build a steady foundation.

“It’s a lot easier to go at it with this group,” Orosco said. “It’s less about teaching the sport than it is building up the basics.”

Orosco has worked as an assistant with Martinez Fox Valley Elite Wrestling Club, Knights Wrestling Club and East Aurora wrestling, as well as being head coach for Waldo Middle School in Aurora.

The Knights coach got acclimated pretty quickly in the Badger state setting.

“My voice is hoarse from yelling so much on the sidelines. You’re working a lot, especially with your kids in there,” Orosco said.

Orosco has four months until the ramp-up to the season starts in earnest, but his experience and his learning process stand to serve him admirably.

“Steve Kenyon of East Aurora and Joe Martinez of the Martinez Wrestling Club are who I looked up to the most,” Orosco said. “They really helped me in a lot of ways.”


Hopkins-Hubbard reaches Maple Park during cross-country journey

Photo: Samuel Hopkins-Hubbard (seated atop horse) is traveling across the United States on horseback to preach and promote a message of oneness between the citizens of the United States. His travels brought him to Maple Park on June 25, and he spent some time resting up at Promise Equestrian Center. Hopkins-Hubbard began his journey in Oregon, and he hopes to reach northern Virginia and the Atlantic Ocean by September. Photo by Natalie Juns

MAPLE PARK—Samuel Hopkins-Hubbard is traveling across the nation to preach and promote a message of oneness between the citizens of the United States.

Hopkins-Hubbard began his journey in eastern Oregon on April 5, and traveled through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa prior to reaching Promise Equestrian Center in Maple Park. Hopkins-Hubbard didn’t know anyone at Promise Equestrian, but the people there gladly welcomed him.

“We are honored to have him (Hopkins-Hubbard) here,” said Jerry Paulsen, co-founder and president of Boots and Hooves. “It’s nice that he’ll take the time to hang out with us. This really is the magic ranch for veterans.”

Hopkins-Hubbard is making his way to the Atlantic Ocean, on the north side of Virginia, by September to inspire and give hope to the people in this nation. He is traveling with two horses, a tool pack, a collapsible water bucket, cell phone holster, a Thunderbird saddle pack, one American flag in hand, among other essentials throughout his journey.

On his cowboy hat, he wears several pins that were given to him as gifts to wear on his ride across the country. A couple of them are an Afghanistan pin and paratrooper pin to remember the people who have served and are serving our country, and a feather from a rancher in Nebraska who feels under attack from the federal government, according to Hopkins-Hubbard.

“People are discouraged about the state of this country,” Hopkins-Hubbard said. “This is a time where we need hope and inspiration. We need to drop all the labels and remember who we are. We’re the strongest when we’re not fighting. That’s what I’m preaching.”

In order to reach the Atlantic Ocean by September, Hopkins-Hubbard travels 14 to 20 miles on horseback each day. He has stayed at fairgrounds, rodeos and pastures, and has always had permission to stay wherever he’s at.

Hopkins-Hubbard said that he is living every day by faith as he gets the American flag to the Atlantic Ocean. He doesn’t know where he will stay at night on a regular basis. Hopkins-Hubbard happened upon Promise Equestrian Center by chance and was offered the opportunity to stay with one of the Promise Equestrian volunteer’s family members for a few days last week while he rested up for the rest of his journey.

“This journey has been very honoring and humbling,” Hopkins-Hubbard said. “I received a lot of gifts and witnessed a lot of communities treat one another like family. It’s heartwarming to see the country work together. I’m fortunate to see the country and carry the flag.”


Recent Kaneland grad finds success on a different track

ELBURN—Elburn resident Michael Geringer is finding a whole new way to get around—really well.

Geringer, a recent member of the Kaneland High School Class of 2014, is finding he can burn rubber on the go-kart circuit.

The 17-year-old talent, who turned pro in September, won his first national race as part of the US Pro Kart Series. Geringer, as part of Praga North America, took the field at Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Ind., back on June 24.

Geringer, showing his skills in the Leopard 125 Pro class, and previously taking to tracks as an amateur, still keeps his capacity for awe.

“I was a little surprised at how well I did,” Geringer said. “It was a 40-car field, and at regionals the week before, I did good, but I expected a top-five.”

Having competed in national races in North Carolina, and sticking closer to home as part of regionals racing like the Route 66 Spring Series, Geringer is out on an island on the track, relying only on his kart and training.

“I try not to think about it too much, you just try to get up there. I won a Route 66 Regional championship last year, and I’m glad to be with the new team. They help out a lot,” Geringer said.

Elburn resident Michael Geringer won the 125 Pro category at Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Ind. Photo submitted by Pranga North America to sports@elburnherald.com
Elburn resident Michael Geringer won the 125 Pro category at Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Ind.
Photo submitted by Pranga North America to sports@elburnherald.com

Having raced and gotten into the circuit with the help of his father, Michael, Geringer’s accomplishments speak for themselves, but he’s also aware that goes for the rest of the field.

“The last race had the top karts separated by .05 seconds, and everybody there brings the best,” Geringer said.

Geringer has his eyes on bigger tracks as the year progresses.

“There’s three more regionals near here, and two more nationals, and I really want to go to Supernationals (USA Supernationals XVIII in late-Nov.) which are at the Rio in Las Vegas,” Geringer said.

Geringer is attending Waubonsee Community College in the fall with eyes on transferring to a four-year institution for mechanical engineering.

Michael Geringer, 17, is a recent Kaneland High School graduate, and will attend Waubonsee Community College in the fall. The Elburn native is sponsored by Pranga North America. Photos submitted by Pranga North America to sports@elburnherald.com
Michael Geringer, 17, is a recent Kaneland High School graduate, and will attend Waubonsee Community College in the fall. The Elburn native is sponsored by Pranga North America.
Photos submitted by Pranga North America to sports@elburnherald.com
east command fAGEL

Fagel book recognized by peers

SUGAR GROVE—Without even knowing his book was under consideration, Sugar Grove resident Mike Fagel has been recognized for writing the book of the year by the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS).

“I’m shocked, happy, flabbergasted—pick an emotion,” Fagel said. “I’m thoroughly excited. To be recognized by my peers is pretty nifty.”

The book, “Crisis Management & Emergency Planning,” is the first recipient of the ASIS Security Book of the Year award.

“I’m just the editor. The rest of it is me pulling my colleagues together,” Fagel said.

He said he did write several chapters either individually or in collaboration with colleagues in the field of emergency services.

An instructor at several area universities and a public speaker who travels worldwide, Fagel has a great deal of practical, hands-on knowledge with his background in emergency services and work with Homeland Security.
Fagel_   NCBRT Photo
Fagel was among the thousands of men and women who worked at Ground Zero in New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He served as the incident command safety officer under FDNY Logistics Chief Charles Blaich.

“My life revolves around teaching people to be able to cope with whatever life throws at them,” Fagel said.

He described the book as an extension of early works, and said it contains what he teaches. Although the list of topics is lengthy, some of the chapters include policy on emergency management, stress management, facility vulnerability, two chapters on active shooters, volunteer management, legal considerations, sports venue emergency planning, pandemics, exercises and exercise design, testing your plan, chapter on vulnerability assessments, nuclear and radiological incidents and agricultural terrorism.

“That’s possibly why the committee picked this book for the award—we cover a whole lot of different elements,” Fagel said. “As a teacher, instructor, you hope you give your audience what they need, what they’re looking for.”

Fagel said he won’t get rich from writing a book, but the bottom line is, it’s all about saving lives.

“Maybe if someone reads this book and heeds what’s inside, we can save a life or two with the knowledge we’ve gained.”


Maple Park Police Department continues Special Olympics fundraising success

MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Police Department is not only interested in upholding the safety of the citizens of Maple Park, it’s also volunteering for and funding the Special Olympics.

In fact, already this year, and with only two fundraising events under its belt, the Maple Park Police Department has raised a total of $50,000 for the Special Olympics.

On May 18 of this year, the Maple Park Police Department and Colleen MacRunnels, a former assistant warden with the Illinois Department of Corrections, hosted the seventh annual “Pulling for Special Olympics” event at the St. Charles Sportsman’s Club in Elburn. The event was held to raise money for The Law Enforcement Torch Run—the single largest year-round fundraising event for Special Olympics Illinois. The day resulted in the Police Department’s most successful event yet, with $45,000 going to the Special Olympics.

The Maple Park Police Department’s second fundraising event of 2014 took place on May 30. Police Chief Mike Acosta participated in the “Cop on a Rooftop” fundraising event at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Sycamore. Cop on a Rooftop is a fundraising program in which Illinois police officers stake out on Dunkin’ Donuts’ rooftops in an effort to raise money for the Torch Run. Every person who visited a Cop on a Rooftop store and made a donation received a free donut. If someone donated at least $10, they received a Torch Run travel mug and a coupon for a Dunkin’ Donuts medium coffee.

These two events together raised $50,000 for Special Olympics—already half of the Police Department’s $100,000 goal for this year. If the department reaches its goal, it will have raised the single-most amount of money ever in the state of Illinois for the Special Olympics.

As a reward for all of his hard work, Chief Acosta on the weekend of June 13 attended and volunteered at the Special Olympics Summer Games in Bloomington, Ill. Chief Acosta presented participants with ribbons and other awards.

“This was the best two-day event I’ve ever been to as a police chief in uniform”, Acosta said, “I’ll tell you, it is one of the greatest things you can do.”

Beyond the fundraising events, Chief Acosta and the Maple Park Police Department set up a booth at the Kane County Flea Market every month to raise money for the Special Olympics. They sell T-shirts and raffle tickets to win a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

“The Special Olympics and law enforcement have a special relationship; it actually dates back to the 1960s.”

There are many more fundraising events to come. The next one, known as the “Wheel of Meat,” will take place on Saturday, July 19, at the Maple Park Pub & Grill. The event will kick off with a 100-yard marathon from Bootleggers Bar, Grill and Pizza to H.D. Rockers, and will finish at the Maple Park Pub & Grill for the Wheel of Meat event. There is a $25 admission fee that will include a T-shirt and three drink tickets—one for each establishment. All of the proceeds will go to the Special Olympics.

For more information, visit www.pullingforspecialolympics.com/ or the Maple Park Police Department for Special Olympics Facebook page.


Avenue J Studios, Peak for Kids move to North Aurora

Photo: Monday night saw performers from Avenue J Studios rehearsing for the upcoming show “Willy Wonka, Jr.” Sugar Grove resident Lexi Holt, 12, will play Mrs. Bucket.
Photo by Lynn Logan

SUGAR GROVE—Avenue J Studios and Peak for Kids are teaming up to create a studio for students.

The studio would offer kids a variety of activities on a regular basis. Jennifer Madziarczyk of Avenue J Studios and Renee Dee of Peak for Kids are Sugar Grove residents who have lived on the same street for the last 12 years, but they only met within the past year.

Both Dee and Madziarczyk have kids who attend Kaneland schools. They are passionate about serving the Kaneland School District through their organizations. After meeting, they realized that it would be perfect for them to work together, according to Dee.

“Jennifer empowers youth through performing arts, and I empower youth through a variety of healthy community programming and events,” Dee said. “It made perfect sense for us to create an alliance. It was a natural evolution.”

Initially, they had hopes of staying in Sugar Grove. According to Dee, the duo presented their first formal proposal to the Sugar Grove Village Board in April. After receiving no formal answer, they decided to search for an alternate location that could house their organization.

“We really wanted to be located here,” said Dee. “Our heart was in Sugar Grove. We were never able to secure a good and easily accessible location since we never received a formal response from the Sugar Grove board.”

After some thorough investigation, Dee and Madziarczyk discovered a building that would work well for them, located on the west side of North Aurora at the Orchard Road and Gateway corridor. Their new building is located in a shopping center next to State Farm and Carmax, located at 208-210 Genesis Drive. The new location is around 2,600 square feet and will provide adequate space for Avenue J Studios and Peak for Kids as they continue to grow and expand the programs they offer. Their expected move-in date is Friday, Aug. 1.

“This new location in North Aurora will be an amazing space for us,” Dee said.

Madziarczyk commented on how the new space will provide them with the opportunity to offer more to the community.

“We will have an office by day and activities by night,” Madziarczyk said. “We are thinking of offering a preschool, yoga for moms during the day, theatre camps, music and voice lessons, strings and guitar lessons, birthday parties, and more in the evening.”

There will be a reception area, a large studio, an open activity room, and three music rooms in the new location, according to Madziarczyk.

“We will also have what we call ‘Epic Friday Night Lights’ at this location that will be geared toward artsy activities,” Dee said. “It will have a creative twist. This new location will attract people from all over, but our main focus is the Kaneland area.”


Kaneland Madrigals travel to Ireland

Singers perform, see sights
KANELAND—Kaneland High School’s chamber choir, otherwise known as the Madrigals, traveled to Ireland earlier this month. The trip gave 29 students the chance to sing, check out sites and take in the culture.

According to a report by Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler, the Dunham Fund donated $8,000 to support the singers’ performance tour to Ireland, which took place June 5-13.

Bryan Kunstman, Fine Arts Department chair and choir director at Kaneland High School, said that the Dunham Fund money, as well as fundraisers the students held throughout last school year, were used to offset the cost of the trip. According to Kunstman, the choir’s concert earlier this month at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles raised over $1,000 for the trip.

Kunstman said that the Ireland trip was important on a lot of levels.

“Anytime you’re able to go overseas or travel and experience things in person, it makes a longer impact,” Kunstman said. “Learning through experiencing goes a lot further than by word of mouth; and even experiencing it through the music when you can put it in the spaces where the music was written for. You get to meet other people, sing in other cultures, get to experience communicating with others.”
Students on the Ireland trip traveled to various churches and sang 16 choral selections. The places they performed included St. Columba’s Church in Ennis, St. Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church in Galway and St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork.

The choir sang mostly sacred songs. They also sang spiritual, contemporary, an Irish landscape poem. They even sang a choral piece Dolly Parton had performed, called “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” In addition, the Madrigals sang a varied version of the song “Eatnemen Vuelie” from the hit film “Frozen.”

When not performing, the students took in landscapes like the Cliffs of Moher along the Atlantic coast, and places like Bunratty Castle.

They also saw Irish dancing complete with lots of hopping and footwork and heard duet music from a harpist and violinist.

Sugar Grove resident Kayla Hedgren, a recent Kaneland High School graduate, went on the Ireland trip. She recalled what it was like to sing in some cathedrals with the Madrigals.

“The acoustics, the sound was angelic,” Hedgren said. “I don’t think that we realized—maybe we didn’t realize—how well we sounded as a group. I don’t think that we fully understand that until, to hear the sound echo in the cathedral and to hear yourself sing back, it really (is) such a moving thing. And to know that you’re in Ireland (is) just a cloud nine experience.”


Community gets in on the fun run

Photo: Kamryn Madsen, 3, of Cortland, runs the Kids 400m Friday night at Kaneland High School. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Kaneland mom Sonya Hwang, a Sugar Grove resident, ran the 5k at last Friday’s third annual Kaneland Foundation Knight Run at Kaneland High School. And notched a personal record in the process.

“This was my best record so far,” Hwang said with a laugh.

Hwang placed third in the women’s category with a time of 28 minutes, 8 seconds. Her award was a blue-painted rock affixed to the Knight Run logo.

“(The Fun Run) is truly a family event,” she said.

Participants ranged from a grandmother to children. Hwang said she saw a boy toddler running a bit around the school’s track.

Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler is the executive director of Kaneland Foundation. He said that about 150 Kaneland students, family and employees attended the event.

“I think the event certainly was a success,” Schuler said. “Obviously, we would have loved to have had more people there.”

Money raised from the event will go to the Kaneland School District. Staff will be able to apply for grant money to use in the classroom for things like technology or fine arts activities.

The Knight Fun Run offered different racing course options, including a 5k cross country race, 1-mile cross country race, and quarter-mile track race for children ages 6 and under.

The 5k had participants running next to cornfields and circling the soccer and baseball fields and actual track. Runners had the opportunity to grab bananas, granola bars and bottled water after crossing the finish line.

Schuler explained that the race planning included being sure to have water and electronic timing. Other tasks included organizing T-shirts, planning registration and trying to get sponsorship and advertising.

Elburn resident Ruth Vostal went to the event with her family and labeled herself as the picture taker and cheerleader. All of her children, twins Brennan and Lilly, 6, and son Hayden, 8, and husband, Reed, ran in the races.

Brennan and Lilly ran a lap around the track. Lilly ran faster than her brother this year. Meanwhile, Reed ran the 5k and came in sixth place with a time of 22 minutes, 50 seconds.

As for Hayden, he had his first experience of running the 1-mile cross country and came in third place with a time of 7 minutes.

“I felt like I was older than my age,” Hayden said.

Kaneville Skeeters Ellie Peck hits a line drive to center field during a game against the Sugar Grove Tigers Monday at the Kaneville West Softball Field. 
Photo by Mary Paulson

Photos: youth baseball and softball

Photos from various community sporting events


Drills in DeKalb

Photo: Junior Tyler Paulson makes a long catch and runs in for a Kaneland touchdown. Photo by Mary Paulson

Knights’ get reps in 7-on-7 setting at NIU
KANELAND—Preseason football practices look to be here before you know it.

The Kaneland Knights could think of no better setting to get drills and work in before that time than the campus of Northern Illinois University this past Saturday.

KHS, along with 23 other teams from around the state, participated in 7-on-7 exhibitions, as they did last year, with coach Tom Fedderly enjoying and taking notes of the setting.

“I was really happy with how it went,” Fedderly said. “It’s a big challenge just getting out there and getting started, and we’re pretty excited.”

Kaneland was in a pool with opponents Waubonsie Valley, Rockridge, Rich Central, DeKalb and Watertown High School of Wisconsin.

“We had 26 guys there for our side and playing offense and defense. It was cool for them to play on the turf, and then after two games we got to play at the new indoor facility, which was cool,” Fedderly said.

As with other sports, a crucial element for a team that has had two consecutive second-round exits but just one regular season loss since 2009 is getting familiar on the field once again.

“I really liked what they did and what I saw out there. The 26 guys stepped up. There’s a number of these guys that are balancing football and baseball, and as we hit July those go away and we really get into football,” Fedderly said.

Familiar faces laced the KHS roster, according to Fedderly, with standouts expected to show the same field presence like Isaac Swithers, Kevin Fuchs and Mitch Groen.

“Connor (Fedderly) caught a lot of balls and had a good day out there,” Fedderly said.

For KHS football, other 7-on-7 challenges lie in the form of an Aurora Christian setting on Tuesday, July 8, and Saturday, July 12, at Willowbrook in Villa Park, Ill.


Sugar Grove to move Village Hall

Photo: This building, 140 S. Municipal Drive, will soon serve as the new Sugar Grove Village Hall. Photo by Cheryl Borrowdale

Relocation will allow for Police Dept. expansion
SUGAR GROVE—The village of Sugar Grove last week purchased two new buildings. The plan is to move Village Hall into the recently acquired location by fall, giving the Police Department room to expand, and starting up a small business incubator.

“The police have been in a space crunch for more than 10 years,” Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said. “On the administration and finance side, we have adequate room, but the police don’t. And with the jail cells and other functions they have set up, it’s much easier for us to move than for the police to move.”

The buildings, located at 140 S. Municipal Drive and 160 S. Municipal Drive, were originally part of a planned five-building professional office park that developers never finished. Only two were built before the economy collapsed in 2008.

It’s a far cry from the original plans the village had made to construct a new police station on the northwest corner of Route 30 and Municipal Drive. Architectural plans were drawn up and the land purchased in 2006, but the station itself was never built because of the recession, a decision that Sugar Grove Police Chief Pat Rollins said was the fiscally responsible one.

Though the village still owns the land, building a new police station isn’t financially feasible at this point, Rollins said. When the two professional office buildings became available, Sugar Grove purchased them, along with the land, the parking lot and pads for three more buildings, for $975,000.

The location is ideal, Eichelberger said, because the buildings are directly across from the Sugar Grove Library, close to the current Village Hall, as well as the police and fire departments.

Each building is 6,000 square feet, but only 3,000 square feet of the interior in each building is finished. The remainder is roughed out space—still with gravel floors and without plumbing or drywall—that the village plans to use as storage now and finish later, as Sugar Grove grows.

“We don’t need all the space right now, but it was kind of a package deal—the buildings and the parking lot,” Eichelberger said.

The building at 140 S. Municipal Drive will be the new Village Hall. Both the administration and finance departments will move into it, and Community Development, which is currently housed at 601 Heartland Drive, will eventually move into the building to unite all the village functions. Community Development was once housed in Village Hall, but got pushed out several years ago as the Police Department expanded.

Space has been so tight within the Police Department that the police no longer have interview rooms where they can speak with victims or question suspects, Rollins said, and have been doing interviews in the Village Board room. The garage that used to hold squad cars has been turned into office space. Even the holding area, where prisoners are kept before they can be moved to the Kane County Correctional Center, is currently doubling as storage.

New interview rooms are high on the priority list, Rollins said.

“State law is now requiring that when bringing somebody into custody, the statements have to be audio and videotaped, and more statutes have been added,” he said. “We need to make sure we have interview rooms set up so that we can follow the mandate of the state.”

Space restrictions have also hampered the department’s ability to host investigations alongside the Kane County Major Crimes Taskforce, Rollins said.

“Now, when something happens in Sugar Grove, we’ll be able to handle it here, and we can bring the investigators here to work because we have the space,” he said.

The new Village Hall at 140 S. Municipal Drive will need some remodeling before the administration can move in, Eichelberger said, because the building is currently designed to hold medical offices. The building at 160 S. Municipal Drive will become a small-business incubator.

“We hope to make quite a bit of it available for lease for small, growing start-up businesses,” Eichelberger said. “The village is not doing this to be in competition with private landlords for customers. We want to create customers for them. Especially in those initial growth stages, if someone started a business out of their house and are at the point they could use a professional office space, the goal is to provide a less expensive space for them, and after a couple of years, it’s time for them to move out and open that space up for somebody else.”

Small businesses that lease office space will have access to a shared conference room, kitchenette and restroom. Sharing them among several businesses reduces the cost, Eichelberger said. Since the village envisions leasing space to start-ups, most of the offices available will be single offices and some office suites, which would have room for an administrative assistant outside a private office.

The space will be leased out at below-market rates, Eichelberger said, and businesses will need to meet several requirements.

“If we’re going to provide slightly below market space, we want to make sure these businesses have the best chance of success,” Eichelberger said. “So we’re working with the Waubonsee Small Business Development Center to make sure the businesses are working with them, to make sure they have a viable business plan. The concept would be that one of the conditions of leasing here is that you need to work with the Waubonsee center, to increase the odds of success.”

Eichelberger said that the incubator was such a perfect opportunity for small businesses that he “expects the phone to be ringing off the hook.”

The unfinished areas of both buildings—a total of 6,000 square feet—will serve as storage, since Community Development has large quantities of files that need to be kept accessible. Whether it’s more cost-effective to finish out the space now or later is under investigation, Eichelberger said.

“What we need to say in the long run is, how should that space be finished out to meet the needs of the village? What is the most cost effective way to finish it out? One phase? Two phases?” Eichelberger said. “Ultimately, we’d like to have the board room in that building, but we have a perfectly functional board room right now. Could the police expand into that board room? Or can we wait a year or two? At some point, we anticipate bringing Community Development back in. But does that need to be done now?”

The new Village Hall should be ready to move into in four to six months, Eichelberger said, and then the Police Department will be able to start its renovations afterward.

“I think this is going to bring us even further into the 21st century,” Rollins said.


In the name of the father

Photo: Elburn Hill Church pastor Gary Augustine teaches a Malachi Dads course at Stateville Correntional Center in Joliet, Ill., which aims to teach inmates a Christian approach to fathering, and fathering from a distance. Photo submitted by Gary Augustine to CBorrowdale@elburnherald.com

Augustine teaches parenting course to prison inmates

ELBURN—Gary Augustine has entered Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Ill., weekly for the past three years with a single purpose: transforming prisoners into good fathers.

Augustine, the pastor of Elburn Hill Church, works with New Life Corrections Ministry in Aurora to teach Malachi Dads courses at Stateville on Wednesday mornings. The course focuses on teaching a Christian approach to fathering and teaching inmates how to father their children from a distance.

“It is an attempt to help fathers in prison parent their children from prison, and to try and build a relationship that will prevent them from following their father’s footsteps and ending up in prison,” Augustine said. “The goal is to help parents parent from a distance, such as reading a book for a kid and recording it, so that a child, especially a young child, can hear their father’s voice.”

He noted that more than 2 million children in the U.S. have an incarcerated father—and statistically, those children are seven times more likely to end up in prison themselves. They are also more likely to drop out of school, run away from home, and have a host of other problems.

Augustine teaches the Malachi Dads program with Tom Beatty, the director of New Life Corrections Ministry. The program includes 10 weeks of Christian-based parenting classes, followed by another 10 weeks of character development classes.

“The goal is to develop some of the kinds of character qualities they need to be good role models to their kids,” Augustine said. “So the first thing is to be a disciple of Christ, but there’s all kinds of things: controlling anger, learning to be generous and hospitable, making sure your yes is your yes and your no is your no, doing what you say you’re going to do, getting control over drugs and alcohol.”

He emphasizes that being a good father takes courage.

“In order to be a father, you have to be willing to live courageously, and that’s a very difficult thing to do. Let’s suppose you have a situation where you need to honestly confront something. That could ruin a friendship; it could affect your career. But integrity is a huge thing,” Augustine said. “It can’t just be something I teach my kids. I have to actually model it. They have to see me be honest even when I’m going to lose something big, because the truth is the truth, even if it is going to hurt me.”

Though the program is scheduled to last 20 weeks, Augustine allots 26 weeks for each one, since frequent lockdowns at Stateville cause classes to be cancelled. He often drives to Joliet only to be turned away at the gate house due to a sudden lockdown.

“The thing about the prison system is that you never know,” Augustine said. “You might show up and they say, ‘No class today.’ Things come up, and so you go back the next week and pick up where you left off.”

Augustine said that a passage in the Bible, Matthew 25:35-40, prompted him to begin ministering to men in prison.

“Matthew talks about five things Jesus says. He says, ‘When I was hungry and thirsty, you gave me something to drink,’ and he ends with, ‘When I was in prison, you visited me.’ And (the disciples) say, ‘When did we do all that?’ And Jesus said, ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me.’ So we decided as a church to be involved in all five of those things.”

Some have been easy, Augustine said, like working with a food pantry to serve the hungry and providing clothing to those in need. It took him longer to discover a way to minister to prisoners, but he says that it is among his most fulfilling work.

Nearly all of the men he works with in prison, he said, have never had fathers themselves and have had few positive role models in their own lives.

“Most of the prisoners have never really been taught a lot of these things,” Augustine said. “They grew up without fathers and surrounded by gangs. And the men say to me, ‘Man, I wish I would’ve known these things at 16.’ And I say, ‘At 16, you wouldn’t have believed it, because you were already in gangs. You needed to hear it at 12.’ And that’s why family breakdown is so devastating.”

The stories of the men are heartbreaking, he said. One was an alcoholic at age 7. Another had a mother running a gambling ring who would disappear for days. Few were proficient readers before they were arrested, though many have become strong readers through prison education programs.

“They don’t have any information about what it means to be an adult. What they understood was that you have to take what you can get,” he said. “The common scenario is that none of them had fathers, so we’re trying to teach them what it is to be a father.”

Stateville has nearly 4,000 inmates, but Augustine has had only 130 in his courses thus far. The seminar is voluntary, and the warden restricts the number of participants in Augustine’s weekly classes to 20 for security reasons.

The men that he has met, though, are very motivated to learn, he said.

“There’s a humility there because they know that they have no answers and that they have screwed up their lives in major ways,” Augustine said. “You recognize that you yourself have failed and that society has concurred with that by putting you in prison, and you think to yourself, ‘Oh, man, I need a different approach.’”

Though not everyone appreciates Augustine’s efforts, he said, most of the men thank him and see the program as valuable. Some participants have long sentences and are unlikely to ever see their children outside prison again.

Augustine described one convicted murderer—“a tough-looking dude”—as one example of a changed man.

“He said to me, ‘I realize I didn’t understand how to deal with my daughter, and this has given me more tools. Now that I’m seeing it from a different point of view, I’m able to see it better,’” Augustine said.

New Life Corrections offers programs at several prisons throughout Illinois. Malachi Dads is also taught at the Kane County, DuPage County and DeKalb County jails, and the group also offers a condensed two-day version in prisons downstate. Augustine taught the condensed version at Graham Correctional Center in Hillsboro, Ill., in October, and he is seeking approval to teach the two-day condensed version at Stateville in order to reach more men.

What drives him, he said, are the children and the hope that he can break the cycle of incarceration—or, as the Bible puts it, that the sins of the father will not be visited onto the sons unto the third and fourth generations.

“The problem that these guys are having, for the most part, is the fact that they either had no fathering or poor fathering,” Augustine said. “You would solve crime in this country with one thing: teaching fathers to be real fathers.”


Cummins’ victory lane continues through summer

ELBURN—For the city of Buffalo, NY, it’ll be nice to have a bonafide winner in its midst. The football thing hasn’t worked out.

Enter Kaneland Harter Middle School athlete Mabel Cummins, soon to enter eighth grade.

Already one of the elite bowling talents in her age group, the busy Cummins heads to the United States Bowling Congress Youth Open Championships on Saturday-Sunday, July 12-13, followed by the USBC Junior Gold Championships Friday, July 18, in Buffalo, NY.

All she did was win the Girl’s U-12 division at the 2014 Illinois Pepsi Youth Bowling Championships in Bloomington, Ill., to qualify for the Gold gathering, which comes with paid entry and travel stipend.

Working five to six games a day, five to six days a week with accomplished professionals and the support of her family, Cummins is learning to deal with the pressure, and is able to plow through, like when she averaged a 201 score through 12 games in Bloomington and at a recent pro-am gathering in Tampa, Fla.

“They made cuts at State, and I made out of the top of all of those,” Cummins said. “I was number one. It’s a lot more games we’re bowling and a different format, which I like. I did want to win, I admit that. I told myself ‘you’re going to go out there and do the best you can.'”

She’s even had a little fun in the past year of competition.

“When we go to tournaments, we go to fun places. We’re going to go see Niagara Falls,” Cummins said. “We go to different attractions like Busch Gardens in Florida. That was pretty cool.”

‘We typically go to museums or amusement parks,” father Ray said. “Things that she’s never seen. That’s the biggest attraction to team USA.”

The Team USA Junior Developmental squad, which represents the United States at international competitions, is a consistent, strike-fueled repertoire away, short of their being an Olympic opportunity.

“That’s her next goal,” Ray said. “That team travels around the world on behalf of America like an Olympic team would. They get to see things like the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower.”

With a year of hefty competition behind her, Cummins’ game feels different, and better to boot.

“I feel my physical game has improved, and I have a lot more speed. My mental game has also improved,” Cummins said.

The Buffalo gathering includes 2,000 bowlers across seven bowling centers, and Cummins aims to stand out.

“I’ve never bowled at Junior Gold before. It’s my first time. I’d like to get used to the lane and figure out the bowling pattern.”

“Kids show up used to where they bowl, and are overwhelmed. These are PBA-caliber conditions, and they fall hard,” Ray said.

Whether its Buffalo or at the July BPAA Women’s All-Stars Pro-Am in Rockford, Ill., Cummins has had more time this past year to have more confidence in her game.

That’s good news for her, bad news for the unfortunate pins in her wake.

“I’ve already qualified for Junior Gold, and I made most of my spares at the PEPSI,” Cummins said. “If you tell yourself, ‘don’t do this’ somewhere around there, you’ll do it because you’re focusing so hard,” Cummins said.


A quick example

Kaneland grad Heckert utilizes experience to coach, run marathons
PLAINFIELD, Ill.—As a multi-sport athlete at Kaneland High School nearly a full decade ago, Kristen Heckert used her immense talent to cross many a State-qualifying finish line.

Now as a math teacher and coach at Plainfield South High School, she’s been responsible for honing young athletes’ talent, while finding time to reach finish lines as a member of New Balance Chicago racing.

Having finished her college athletics career at University of Illinois-Chicago, Heckert soon made her way to a teaching post at KHS before landing at Plainfield South before the 2012-13 school year.

Heckert was the girls cross country coach this past season and assistant track coach, and plans to step into an assistant XC role to better concentrate on marathons when the New Balance banners fly.

There’s important overlap with the two.

“I try to talk about my running a little bit,” Heckert said. “I stepped down to an assistant for more time to train. My running is really important to me and I want to see what I can do with it. I didn’t want it to conflict with coaching. They should have a coach that is with them 100 percent, and nothing is more important than that,” Heckert said.

If anything, Heckert gets a built-in support staff in addition to her New Balance racing outfit, which most recently saw a 36:03 effort at United Run For The Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo, tops in the 10K women’s division.

“They know that I am competing and know what my end goal is, but it’s not about me, it’s about the girls. They are so supportive, and the coaching staff and boys program is so supportive. It helps, because you let them know they always have to stretch and run. These kids are doing it all the time and combined with school. It just gives you an extra push,” Heckert said.

Now a three-time veteran of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon held in October, Heckert finished in 20th in the womens’ division with a 2:47.56 in 2012 and 2:44.12 in 2013. From the former Lady Knight’s perspective, there’s nothing not to like about the experience.

“There’s not outside pressure ever,” Heckert said. “There’s so many people. The pressue comes from ourselves. It’s kind of ‘go out there and see what you can do.” The racing team is so supportive and everyone wants the best for you. It’s a wonderful experience. To get that support from people who don’t even know you and are out at six in the morning, it’s wonderful and it’s a great accomplishment for anyone who does it.”

Having also competed in the Chicago Half-Marathon in September with a time of 1:19.18 and the DeKalb Corn Classic 10K last summer in 36:11, Heckert has plenty of great performances to draw from and still tries to match memorable runner highs.

“That first marathon was so perfect, it felt good. I thought they were all going to be that way, but the last two were so painful and hurt so much. I’ve been so lucky when it comes to injuries. You always wake up sore, but I haven’t had anything where I need to take time off, so I’m very thankful for that,” Heckert said.

With her 2012 Bank of America time in Chicago and top Illinois finisher, Heckert was able to be invited to a marathon in Osaka, Japan, but declined the task because it coincided with Plainfield South cross country regionals.

She was once again the top Illinois finisher in 2013, and Osaka won’t be a problem with an assistant coach job.

“If Osaka is offered to me this year, I’ll definitely take it,” Heckert said.

Heckert has more aspirations, only in the form of U.S. Olympic Trials in Los Angeles in 20 months, where she’ll need a 2:43.

“I would love to run in the Olympic Trials (March 2016), that’s the end-all, be-all goal. I have a lot of opportunities with coaching and teammates. I would love to do that with running, and be running with the top Americans ever,” Heckert said.

With her brothers and sisters in cross-trainers, the journey will be noteworthy and fast.

“We always do the Palos race, the Soldier Field 10-miler—those will wipe me out—and the Zoo race is sponsored by New Balance,” Heckert said. “We do the Human Race in Oak Brook, which has the money go to great causes. I don’t like racing a lot, and I’ve raced a lot this year. I love training.”


‘Pwnage’ robot a hit at middle school

Photo: Kaneland students and 2451 Robotics Team members include Elburn resident Triston Powell (left to right), 16, and siblings Alyssa, 18, and Charles Faulkner, 15, of Aurora. Photo by Lynn Logan

KHS students bring robot to Harter Middle School
KANELAND—Harter Middle School recently had a unique visitor grace its main stage: a robot.

And not just any robot. This one stands 28 inches by 38 inches and weighs nearly 140 pounds. And it also has the ability to move at a speed of 16 feet per second.

The machine in question belongs to robotic team Pwnage No. 2451, which consists of three high school students from Kaneland—Triston Powell of Elburn, and Aurora siblings Charlie Faulkner and Alyssa Faulkner, who is a recent graduate—as well as 22 high school students from Batavia, St. Charles North, St. Charles East, West Aurora, Metea Valley, Glenbard North and Burlington Central.

On the recent visit to HMS, Powell operated the robot to toss red, white and blue frisbees to the sixth- to eighth-graders on the stage in the cafeteria.

“A few of (the students) were in awe,” Powell said. “A lot of them were just saying that it was cool that it could actually do that. And they just were excited to be able to catch a frisbee and stuff.”

Alyssa enjoyed having the robot on the school site.

“(It was) fun to see all of the kids come up and just like talk to them about the robot and see them so excited to see the robot working,” she said.

Charlie noticed that the sixth-graders had lots of enthusiasm about the robot.

“A lot of them were just ready to learn about the robot, ready to look at it, have it explained to them,” Charlie said. “They loved having the frisbees thrown at them.”

Ryan Wlodek, an eighth-grade science teacher at HMS, coordinated the demonstration at the school.

“It’s unbelievable,” Wlodek said. “The effort and the amount of engineering that has to go into something like that to build; that’s highly complex.”

The Pwnage team has made more accomplishments with their recent robot. The machine has a signature move, thanks to a swerve drive that allows it to spin around and around while playing the competitive game “Aerial Assist” with other robots. The game’s objective is to score balls in goals during a 2 minute, 30 second match.

Pwnage in April competed in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition World Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Pwnage ended the competition with a ranking of 14 out of 400 teams.

“It feels really exciting,” Powell said of Pwnage’s showing in St. Louis. “We’re all really happy that we’ve gotten the opportunity to be (ranked) this high.”

The team was a finalist in a Curie division. Dan Kein, adult mentor representative and project manager of Pwnage No. 2451, called the team “pretty incredible.”

“When you consider out of 2,700 or some robots that we were in the top 14, I think that that in itself is a pretty amazing accomplishment,” Kein said. “There’s a lot of really excellent teams out there, and for us to have as highly ranked as we were, I think we’re pretty humbled by that.”

Pwnage’s recent success is already paying dividends, as the robotic team will participate in the Indiana Robotics Invitational (IRI) this July.

“The teams that get invited to IRI are teams that the people who organize (the competition) believe are the best teams in the world,” Kein said.


Dunkin’ Donuts Elburn location breaks ground

ELBURN—Dunkin’ Donuts broke ground in late May for its new restaurant and drive-thru location on the Jewel-Osco property in Elburn. Although the restaurant was initially set to open sometime this spring, discussions between Dunkin’ Donuts and the Jewel-Osco held up construction until now.

The plan, submitted by Dunkin’ Donuts to the village of Elburn in November, showed the location of the restaurant in front of the Jewel-Osco, in the lot at the corner of Prairie Street and Route 47, with the main entrance off of Prairie Street. However, according to Elburn Building Commissioner Tom Brennan, Elburn Jewel-Osco instead wanted the entrance at the north-south street between Prairie Street and the National Bank and Trust. Brennan said there will also be a second entrance at the north end of the property that will line up with an aisle in the Jewel-Osco parking lot.

Calls to Elburn Jewel-Osco were not returned as of press time.

Architect Diane Duncan of Gleason Architects, who represented Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee Vishal Vagahani at village meetings, said the discussions regarding the final location for the entrance were recently resolved, and Dunkin’ Donuts is currently moving forward with construction. She said construction should take about four months, with the store opening likely to take place in September.

Vagahani operates four other Dunkin’ Donuts locations, including a store on Route 59 in West Chicago.


Society celebrates Benton House anniversary, Long family

KANEVILLE—Kaneville Historical Society’s open house on Sunday recognized the 20th anniversary of the relocation of the Benton House, and the Long family.

Society president Karen Flamand said the open house is conducted each year in conjunction with the Kaneville Fire Department’s pancake breakfast in an effort to get more visitors.

“This is the 20th anniversary of the relocation and restoration of the Benton House, and we thought it would be a good opportunity to recognize and remember all the volunteers that made it happen,” Flamand said.

Although their first home in Illinois was a log cabin built in the 1840s, they later built the first frame home in the 1870s. It’s that house that has been restored thanks to grants, donations, the society’s Acorn Fund, which is used to maintain property owned by the society, and numerous hard-working volunteers.

“It’s really interesting to document their history, with the help of Benton descendants,” Flamand said. “They have provided us with ribs from the covered wagon they traveled to Illinois in, a rocking chair, spinning wheel, a family Bible and other artifacts.”

She said the home is only about 20-by-25 feet, and the Bentons raised nine children in it.

Flamand said Benton House has been restored, as closely as possible, to its original condition. The society’s Farley House is used as a museum for displays. Along with an opportunity to visit the two historic houses, as it does every year, the society featured a prominent area family with a long history. This year, it was the Long family.

Arthur and Lulu Long were married in 1914 and purchased a farm on Lasher Road in 1920. Among the buildings on their farm was a barn never used as a working barn.

Instead, their farm was the site of Long’s Barn, built in 1932, that housed weekend barn dances for a number of years.

“People came from miles around to the dances at Long’s Barn,” Flamand said.

Although the family continued to farm around the Kaneville area, the barn was closed in 1956 after the youngest of the three sons was killed in an auto accident on his way to work at the barn.

One of the two daughters of Arthur and Lulu, Phyllis Long Pierson, still lives in the area.


Comfort Tech Cooling arrives in Sugar Grove

Photo: Matt Dillenburg, along with his wife Melissa, will be moving their family-owned business to Sugar Grove after opening a temporary location in Aurora in October 2013. Photo by Patti Wilk

SUGAR GROVE—Matt and Melissa Dillenburg, longtime residents of Sugar Grove, started their family-owned business, Comfort Tech Cooling, in October 2013. As a heating, ventilation and air conditioning company, they serve the Sugar Grove area and provide their customers with the best service available in order to leave a lasting and good impression, according to Dillenburg.

Comfort Tech Cooling is currently in a temporary location in Aurora. The Dillenburgs are planning on moving their business to Sugar Grove as soon as they find a place that works well for their needs. They plan on having the new shop up and running in Sugar Grove in the next few months.

“Being long-time residents of Sugar Grove, we love the area and felt it would be great to service the areas we live in and be more involved in our community,” said Dillenburg.

Their long term plans are centered on developing new and lasting relationships within the community and maintaining their 100 percent customer satisfaction rating, according to Dillenburg.

Dillenburg has been in the HVAC field for 17 years and has been installing the same brand of equipment, American Standard, during that time.

Matt and Melissa will have a booth for Comfort Tech Cooling at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil in July to meet anyone interested in services they offer. They can be reached at P.O. Box 328 in Sugar Grove or by phone at (630) 363-9819.

“We really look forward to meeting anyone who feels we may be helpful in meeting their heating and cooling needs,” said Dillenburg.


Parish prepares for Pentecost with candlelight prayer vigil

Photo: Members of St. Gall Catholic Church recently held a vigil in celebration of Pentecost. Courtesy photo by Donna Doherty submitted to DBehrends@elburnherald.com

ELBURN—With new ministry comes new ideas, and St. Gall Catholic Church bore witness to a new idea on Friday.

During a discussion about Pentecost and its importance to the church as a whole, Rev. Tim Siegel envisioned a prayer service—a vigil—just prior to the celebration of Pentecost.

“I thought it would be neat to do something unique and different during the celebration of the birth of the church,” Siegel said. “The idea of a vigil came to my mind. A vigil is usually at night, with lots of candles.”

Parishioner Heather Sidman was among the group that helped to plan the special service.

“Something like this helps us to come together as a community, to pray together, rather than just attending Mass,” Sidman said.

“It gives us some enthusiasm and energy, and I think everyone got something out of it,” she added.

Siegel has been the spiritual leader at St. Gall for just a few days shy of two years.

“This parish is a wonderful community,” he said. “But we belong to the larger church in the world. We’re celebrating our little place in the big picture.”

Siegel said the service is significant because of the spirituality of the people, adding it’s a very generous spirituality.

“People really care about St. Gall, their great memories of the past and real hope for the future,” Siegel said.

Among the prayers were some relating to a tangible and important goal, according to Siegel.

“We need the faithfulness of the entire church community, because we’re hoping to build a new facility in the next few years, maybe three or four,” Siegel said.

Built in the mid-1920s, Siegel said the building was erected at time when churches had a lot of steps. “They were built higher to be more prominent in the community and to look like a more worthy place to worship God. That was the architecture of the day,” he said.

Not only is the building showing signs of age, Siegel said handicapped accessibility is the larger issue.

“It’s more than a medical issue; it’s very much a civil rights issue,” Siegel said. “The church is supposed to be available for all people at all times, but because we have so many steps, we lack ease of access.”

Siegel said the lift, installed many years after the church was built, is not the answer to accessibility issues.

“It’s not reliable, it breaks down and with a lack of access, we’re excluding some very important people from worship,” Siegel said. “A church looks more like a place to worship if everybody can be there.”


Sectional shutdown

Baseball’s quest ends in semifinal against rival Sycamore
ROCHELLE, Ill.—Kaneland’s baseball season came to an end on June 4, not with a bang or a whimper.

Rather, it was the inability to connect aluminum to ball.

In a pitchers’ duel, Kaneland was denied a single hit off Sycamore pitcher Colan Treml, while suffering a Brett Weaver home run in the bottom of the fifth in a 1-0 elimation loss.

The Class 3A Rochelle Sectional semifinal loss ends the Kaneland season at 18-16, while Sycamore (26-12) was set to participate in Monday’s Rock Island Super-Sectional at Augustana College after beating Rockford’s Boylan Catholic on Saturday morning.

Treml’s nine-strikeout day was matched by Kaneland sophomore standout Anthony Holubecki, winner of the regional semifinal against Aurora Central Catholic just eight days prior.

Holubecki (6-3) went 5.1 innings in the loss. The defeat at the hands of Northern Illinois Big XII rival Sycamore knotted up the season series at two games apiece between the two programs.

“It’s tough to take; it’s just one swing,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “(Anthony) pitched a great game, and you can’t ask much more than two hits from your pitcher.”

The recent run by Kaneland helped to offset a little of the late-season blues that saw KHS drop six of its previous eight contests before the playoff run.

The only baserunners Kaneland was afforded in Ogle County were Curtis Thorson reaching on the first at-bat of the game, thanks to a shortstop error, an error that allowed Joe Panico to reach base in the second inning on a play that was originally ruled a hit, and Thorson reaching again on a shortstop miscue in the third inning. Treml then proceeded to retire the final 14 batters of the game.

“We knew Treml likes to throw first-pitch fastballs and obviously his slider and curveball were nasty. We were behind in the count. Obviously, we don’t like being in that position, so we were going to be aggressive with the first pitch,” Aversa said.

With the loss, occurring after the school’s second-ever regional plaque, the Knights say goodbye to seniors Tyler Carlson, Sean Dunphy, Nick Henne, Nate Hopkins, Kevin Kassinger, Nick Stahl, Thorson and Lucas Wolski.

“This last week has been awesome for all of us,” Aversa said. “It’s been a fun ride. These kids could have easily packed it in after Senior Night, but they hung in there and dusted themselves off.”

Photo by Patti Wilk


Familiar faces

Photo: Sophomore Jenna Harvell plays in a home game against the visiting Huskers Monday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Girls take to court in summer session
KANELAND—If this is what’s in store for the ensuing school year, then the girls basketball program from Kaneland has quite a bit to look forward to.

Already 6-1 through competition in the summer’s Illinois Valley League, the Lady Knights have been to work in a big way.

“It’s a good time for these girls to step up,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “We lost a good group, and they are getting used to different roles now.”

The summer slate, besides the camps, looks a bit different now that snow days made it difficult to rejoin the summer circuit at Glenbard South.

“We are part of the Illinois Valley League this summer and it’s nice. We host games along with Ottawa and Morris,” Colombe said. “It’s good competition, and it’s with teams you don’t really see a whole lot of.”

The opposing teams are sure to get a whole lot of Kaneland.

“We did lose good girls, and we’re off to a good start. They are putting in time and getting comfortable,” Colombe said.

Suiting up in these steady tempuratures are returning upperclassmen like Aly Van Bogaert, Taylor Eaves, Rachel Miller, Emily Grams, Camri Conley, injury-free Vanessa Gould and Bailey Crimmins.

Now joining the upperclass ranks in the summer are Nicole Koczka, Kiandra Powell and Meg Cohrs.

Lower-class assets are Kylie Modaff, varsity returnee Morgan Weber, Kristen Siebert, Jenna Harvell and Jessie Weber.

“They are getting to know each other’s strengths and have a chance to step up in new roles. Camri Conley split time as point guard with Caroline Heimerdinger in the winter, and she’s taking over as point right now,” Colombe said.

The month of June turns out to be pretty busy, with consecutive Mondays at Morris and then at Ottawa. Shootouts take place at Morris, East Aurora, Neuqua Valley and Ottawa.