Tag Archives: John Nevenhoven

Residents will see rate increases for water, sewer

ELBURN—Next fiscal year’s budget will include several increases for Elburn residents, including a hike in the water and sewer rate.

The board voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting to raise the rates, beginning with the May 1 bill.

Residents can expect to pay $8 more a month in their sewer bills to pay for the upgrade to the village’s wastewater treatment facility. Current sewer rates are $2.82 per 100 cubic feet of water used, and this year’s increase would take it to $3.82.

Bills for both water and sewer are based on water usage, and average water use per household is approximately 800 cubic feet per month.

The costs of the modernization project will come to approximately $7.5 million, including a low-interest 20-year loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven previously told the board that, in order to pay back the loan, the sewer rate will have to increase by about the same amount each year for the next four years.

By 2017, the rate would reach the recommended $7.10 per 100 cubic feet.

Modernization of the 30-year-old plant is necessary due to safety and efficiency concerns.

“We must meet our cost obligations, and set aside money for the larger items,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

“We need water and we need funding to pay for it,” trustee Bill Grabarek added.

Water rates will go up from $3.28 per 100 cubic feet to $3.88 per 100 cubic feet per month.

During the Committee of the Whole meeting, Finance Director Doug Elder reviewed the entire draft budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 with the board, noting that Elburn’s equalized assessed value is down 7 percent from last year.

“The decrease is slowing, and will likely hit bottom next year,” Elder said. “There are signs of building picking up.”

The revenue of $2.7 million in the general fund is down just a little from last year, but revenues are still more than expenses, he said.

Board members discussed the need for additional money for park maintenance. This year’s budget includes $47,000 for maintaining parks, compared with the estimated $8,000 for this year.

Trustee Bill Grabarek suggested using the village’s portion of video gaming revenues for that purpose. The village takes in approximately $1,000 as its share in the gaming operation at Schmidt’s Towne Tap and Knuckleheads Tavern.

But trustee Jeff Walter said that won’t be enough for what is needed to maintain the parks throughout the village.

Walter suggested that the village might have to go out to the residents for additional funding.

“We need to get serious about our parks thing,” Walter said. “We want to do more with parks in the village, especially with all the growth.”

The tentative budget will be available for the public to review between April 8 and April 21, with the Village Board voting on it at the April 21 meeting.

“It’s gotten simpler every year,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

Metra commuters will soon pay more to park

ELBURN—Metra commuters will soon see an increase in their daily parking rate to cover the costs of maintaining the parking lot.

“We’re spending more money there than we’re taking in,” Village President Dave Anderson said during the Committee of the Whole meeting on March 3. “We’ve been over-extended for a long time.”

This year’s snow accumulation has also greatly added to the village’s expenses, with the village paying an estimated $43,000 this year to pay for snow removal. This amount was significantly more than the budgeted amount of $15,000.

Although the commuter parking fund is still projected to begin the new fiscal year with a $74,000 cash balance, projected revenues of $90,000 for the coming year are less than projected expenses of $103,000.

In addition, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said that the blacktop on the eastern end of the parking lot needs to be replaced.

Nevenhoven provided the board with an estimate of $253,330 to replace the 13,300 square yards of blacktop designated for replacement. He said it comes out to about $19 per square yard to remove and replace 2 inches of asphalt for the targeted area.

“Expenses for this year are higher than revenues,” Village Finance Director Doug Elder said. “It has been like this for the last couple of years. Eventually, you’ll use up any surplus you have, and that will be painful if that happens.”

Anderson said that letters had already been sent to residents regarding the increase in rates.

“Now is the time,” he said.

Elburn to approve contract for water tower painting, other maintenance

ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday discussed a project for painting and other maintenance and improvements to the Prairie Valley North elevated water storage tank scheduled this summer.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said that although the project will take place in the next fiscal year, in order to schedule the project for the summer timeframe, the engineering and bidding process must take place now.

“A lot of things will be done in addition to painting,” Nevenhoven said. “It won’t only be pretty on the outside, but also pretty on the inside, where it really counts.”

The $238,920 project includes exterior and interior painting, corrosion protection, new railings, electrical improvements and other necessary updates. Engineering Enterprises, Inc. will provide engineering services for the project at a cost of $50,000.

“We’re due on this,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

The project agreement will be on the Village Board’s agenda on Monday, Feb. 17.

Harsh winter affects village salt supply

ELBURN—High winds, cold temperatures and lots of snow are depleting Elburn’s supply of salt, and salt already ordered has been slow to arrive.

According to Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven, the village has already used more than 300 tons of salt. During a normal year, the village uses about 425 tons for the entire season.

There was some salt left over from last winter, he said. This year, the village has received 280 tons from its supplier, Cargil, and had been waiting for an additional 50 tons, ordered on Dec. 2, that finally arrived a few days ago. Another 150 tons was ordered on Jan. 10, but the company has been weeks behind on its deliveries.

Nevenhoven said the Public Works employees have been judicious about their use of the salt, focusing on the intersections, where drivers need to be able to stop safely.

When asked if he thought the village would run out of salt, he said he could not predict the future.

“Tell me what the weather is going to be for the next six weeks,” he said. “It’s all weather dependent.”

However, he said that this is his sixth winter with the village, and they have not run out yet.

Snow removal has also been challenging, with more snow than there is at times space in which to pile it.

“We use a front-end loader and push it back as much as we can,” he said. “It’s important to keep the sight lines open.”

Trustees raise concerns on village social media policy

ELBURN—Village Board members and staff on Monday raised concerns regarding the village’s social media policy for its employees.

The policy was added to the village’s employee personnel policy manual during the past year, and came up for discussion during an annual review of the updates.

Trustee Jeff Walter wanted to know if the policy applied to board members and other elected officials.

One restriction in particular that troubled him was one in which employees were prohibited from identifying their employer.

Walter said that he uses his Facebook page to campaign for re-election.

“When my Facebook page says ‘Re-elect Jeff Walter, village trustee,’ I’m identifying myself as an employee of the village,” Walter said.

Trustee Dave Gualdoni said he wondered about the legality of the restriction.

“It seems to me it violates First Amendment rights,” he said.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said that the purpose of his LinkedIn account was to network.

“I can’t tell people I work here?” he asked. “That’s the whole purpose (of LinkedIn).”

While Walter said he didn’t think the village would want to prevent employees from posting positive images of the village, Village Attorney Bob Britz said the policy is to “control the not-so-positive images.”

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said the intent of the policy is to prevent employees from discrediting the village. She said that there have been no issues with the policy since it was implemented last November.

Britz explained that the policy, while not perfect, lets everyone know what is expected, and any disciplinary action would therefore not be seen as “arbitrary and capricious.”

He said he is very sensitive about First Amendment rights, but that it was necessary for the village to have some type of policy in place.

Village President Dave Anderson said he didn’t think that the policy applied to board members and other elected officials.

“Representing the village (as an elected official) is one thing; working for the village is another,” Anderson said.

Anderson asked board members to send their comments and concerns to Willrett for a follow-up discussion.

“I don’t want to get into something like a ‘Code Napoleon,’ where everything is forbidden unless expressly permitted,” trustee Bill Grabarek said.

Village officials to attend Anderson Road pre-construction meeting

ELBURN—Village President Dave Anderson and Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven will meet with IDOT, KDOT, representatives from Martam Construction, Inc., etc. on Friday, Oct. 11, to make sure that everyone is on the same page on the initial details regarding the Anderson Road and bridge project.

One of the first decisions will be whether or not the farmer will harvest his corn before the ground breaking. Also a priority will be to create a plan that will allow people access to the train station during construction of the bridge.

According to Nevenhoven, Martam Construction representatives have asked about setting up a trailer and setting aside space for a construction parking lot. He said they are also interested in renting out a few offices in the Elburn Community Center.

Anderson Road will be extended from south of Keslinger Road to Route 38, including a grade separation structure (overpass) over the Union Pacific Railroad, and improvements to Keslinger Road, Hick Drive and Prairie Valley Street.

Breaking ground this fall will give it time to freeze and thaw throughout the winter, leaving it ready for construction to begin by spring.

Board reviews Facility Planning Area map

ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Sept. 3 reviewed the final draft of the Facility Planning Area document, which maps out the service area for Elburn’s waste-water treatment plant.

The board viewed the initial draft in January and provided feedback, which was incorporated into the final version, Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

The document is required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the village’s low interest loan application to modernize the treatment plant. According to Nevenhoven, the document is used by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to determine the village’s viability to serve the area based on population projections by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).

The map is somewhat similar to the village’s Comprehensive Land Use plan, but Nevenhoven said that an attempt was made to follow some sort of natural divide—for example, north of I-88 and west to Meredith Road (to include Kaneland schools).

Trustee Ken Anderson said he wanted to be sure that the map did not obligate the village to service the entire area.

“I don’t want to spend money on the treatment plant that we’re not going to use,” he said.

Nevenhoven reassured him that the map did not obligate the village.

Village Adminstrator Erin Willrett said that the final document did not need to be approved by the board.

Elburn Public Works Superintendent honored at Blackhawks game

Photo: Elburn Public Works Director John Nevenhoven smiles with his wife Melissa and son Ryan at the Blackhawks game on Feb. 15. John was one of two veterans honored prior to the game. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven served in the United States Navy for nine years of active duty before going on to college and marrying his wife Melissa. When the World Trade Center was hit on Sept. 11, 2001, their son, Ryan, was six years old.

John said he wanted to do something to contribute to his country. He knew he couldn’t do it fulltime, so he joined the Navy Reserves in November 2001. He serves one weekend a month, as well as participating in two weeks of training every year at Scott Air Force Base outside of St. Louis. He was deployed to Afghanistan for a year in 2006, and was set to go again in 2011, but his tour was cancelled at the last minute.

John has been a big hockey fan since he was in high school, and he and his family frequently watch the Blackhawks play. Melissa noted that before each game, two service members are honored, one active duty and one veteran.

She did some research, and through the USO found a contact to suggest John for the honor. That was in August 2011. The family recently received a call from a representative of the Blackhawks to set the date, and on Feb. 15, John, Melissa and Ryan showed up at the United Center at the appointed time.

John said he was escorted to the penalty box, where he stood next to Jim Cornelison, who performs the national anthem before each game. John and a veteran from the U.S. Army walked out onto the ice and saluted the flag while 21,000 fans cheered through the entire song.

“It was kind of neat to hear that crowd,” John said. “I’ve been to tons of hockey games, but this was a different feeling. Seeing those people cheering the national anthem; it’s an incredible event to be a part of, whether you’re on the ice or in the stands.”

Melissa said the whole thing was quite overwhelming, seeing John out there in his uniform.

“It was very emotional,” she said. “We’re very patriotic to begin with. I’m so extremely proud of him and our service members in general. It’s not just about John.”

What made the event even more special was that the event occurred on Ryan’s 14th birthday.

“He was pretty excited and proud,” Melissa said. “It was such a great way to celebrate.”

John is a member of the United States Transportation Command, which monitors and tracks all pieces of Department of Defense equipment shipped around the world. Whether it’s tanks or bullets, blankets or anything else that service members need during their deployment, Scott Air Force Base is the world-wide logistics hub.

Melissa said that when John joined the reserves in 2001, she stood behind his decision because she knew it was important to him. They didn’t know at the time that he would be called up to go to Afghanistan. However, she said the family has a good local support system, and when John had to leave, they made it through his time away.

“It was difficult, but we were able to email and internet chat and talk on the phone,” she said. “We were very lucky. I kept so busy that I didn’t have time to dwell on it. You do what you have to do.”

Now John has one more reason to thank his wife.

“I always wondered how the Blackhawks chose the service members,” he said. “Melissa should get the Wife of the Year award.”

Village Board to vote on Elburn Station next week

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village Board trustees on Tuesday made some final tweaks to changes to the plan they are requesting from Elburn Station developer Dave Patzelt, setting the stage for a vote on the development at a meeting on Monday, Feb. 25. Village President Dave Anderson has designated a special board meeting to address the development’s approval.

Patzelt last week agreed to share the cost of the pedestrian bridge linking Elburn Station to the current downtown area, but said he would contribute half the amount up to a maximum of $450,000, not $500,000. He also wanted to impose a three-year limit on construction of the bridge, or the money would come back to him.

Village trustee Bill Grabarek said that if the village were to build a pedestrian bridge that was ADA-approved, it would cost more than Patzelt’s estimate of $900,000. He also thought the three-year restriction was too limiting.

“This should be a developer contribution, period,” Grabarek said. “Forget the three years.”

Anderson said he wasn’t concerned about the three-year time-frame.

“It’s a village project, and quicker we can get it done on our end, the better,” he said.

Village attorney Bob Britz suggested that the village require Patzelt to set aside bonds for his portion of the bridge at the beginning of phase six, or the commercial area.

Grabarek also was not in favor of the village sharing any grant money with the developer to help pay for the bridge.

“We keep the grant money; he keeps the impact fee,” he said. “It’s cleaner that way.”

Patzelt also agreed to limit the number of rental units from 800 to 400, with up to an additional 200, given they are targeted for people ages 55 and over. The total possible rental units would be limited to 600.

The Village Board on Tuesday clarified that the number of total housing units would have a net decrease of 200, down from 2,275 to 2,075.

The final modification the board wanted was the requirement that 85 percent of the units and 100 percent of public improvements of one phase be completed before moving onto the next one. Patzelt agreed to 80 percent completion of the public improvements, and said that the commercial phase should be an exception.

“We’re close,” Anderson said on Wednesday. “We’ve got a head of steam. Let’s not throw a monkey wrench into it now. The county’s looking over our shoulder.”

The construction of the Anderson Road Bridge, a Kane County project with federal and state funding, is linked to the Elburn Station development. County officials have expressed concerns that the funding would go away if the project became stalled.

Anderson, Britz and Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven are set to meet with Patzelt and his attorney on Friday morning to finalize the agreement. The board will then vote on the agreement on Monday evening.

Final improvements in sight for Blackberry Creek

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Final improvements to the Blackberry Creek Subdivision could be completed by this fall, according to an agreement between the village and the company holding the developer’s bonds.

Board members on Monday approved the agreement with an attached punch list of items to be completed by Aug. 1. The list includes repairing, replacing and installing sidewalks and curbs, repairing fire hydrants and other water-related structures, and installing bike paths and applying the last layer of asphalt on a number of streets, among a myriad of other smaller fixes.

“What you see before you is what we think is the best completion agreement we’re going to get,” Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven told the board last week.

“I’m impressed with the amount of detail,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

Elburn Village Attorney Bob Britz did caution that there is only a finite amount of bond money, so it is possible that not all of the items will get completed. The village does have the right to supervise the work done to make sure it meets the standards set out in the agreement.

According to Nevenhoven, although there are 40 to 60 items per unit, the single most obvious improvement residents will notice is the final layer of asphalt on the roads east of Blackberry Creek Road.

“Other items won’t be things the average person will notice, but collectively, they’re a big deal,” Nevenhoven said.

Nevenhoven has been a resident of Blackberry Creek for nine years. Bill Grabarek stated during Elburn Station discussions that Blackberry Creek is a “failed development,” Nevenhoven, however, said he thinks “it’s a great neighborhood.”

Nevenhoven said he has seen other subdivisions where work stopped during the recent recession—subdivisions where there were two or three houses built, and nothing else.

“There’s one area that hasn’t been finished, but it’s in good shape,” he said.

According to information provided to the board by Building Commissioner Tom Brennan, with a total of 735 building permits issued, Blackberry Creek is a little over half built-out. Construction dropped off substantially in 2007, and by 2009, only one building permit was issued. To date, two permits have been requested this year.

In addition to the agreement with BMO Harris, board members on Monday also approved a resolution to accept the dedication of open space, detention and retention basins and public improvements within the subdivision.

According to Britz, the resolution will allow the village to maintain these common areas.

The village in April 2010 declared Blackberry Creek Subdivision developers B&B Enterprises, Inc. to be in material default for unfinished street and other infrastructure work, and called for more than $10 million in developer insurance bonds to pay for the improvements.

The village has been working through the legal process to compel the bond company to complete the improvements within the subdivision.

“That’s why we hold bonds,” Nevenhoven said.

EEI presents overview of FPA update

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Jason Freeman of Engineering Enterprises, Inc. attended Monday’s Elburn Village Board meeting to give trustees an overview of EEI’s plan for updating the Facilities Planning Area, focusing on the sanitary sewer system.

The first step will be for the village to identify the boundaries for the infrastructure plan, based on the best estimate for where future development might occur, as well as which areas would be the most cost-effective to serve. The initial proposed boundaries—Beith Road on the north, Main Street Road on the south, Harley Road on the east and Francis Road on the west—were determined by the current 1.5 mile planning area from current corporate village limits, as well as a combination of natural boundaries, roads, and existing governmental boundaries.

Village President Dave Anderson said that the village will need to adjust at least part of the western boundary out to Meredith Road in order to accommodate Kaneland schools.

Freeman emphasized that the village will want to take advantage of gravity in the plan wherever possible to reduce the need for additional lift stations. The current system has sanitary sewers ranging in size from 6 to 24 inches, and includes five lift stations.

Trustees will provide their comments to Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven by Wednesday, Jan. 9.

Blackberry Creek improvements still just talk

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—According to Elburn Village Attorney Bob Britz, the bonding company holding the escrow money for Blackberry Creek has agreed to complete everything on the subdivision’s punch list, with the exception of providing the “as builts.” The agreement is verbal at this point, with nothing yet spelled out in writing.

At the last Village Board meeting on Sept. 17, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said that one of the items on the list involves a number of streets within the Blackberry Creek Subdivision that need a second layer of asphalt (blacktop) to keep the exposed layer from decaying.

“We’ll probably miss the season on the streets,” Nevenhoven said.

Britz on Monday told the Village Board that he has created a template of a complaint against the owner of the detention pond east of Blackberry Creek Drive and the open space, BMO Harris Bank. The village will issue 30-plus ordinance violations to the bank, which currently owns a number of lots where the weeds are 6 feet tall.

Britz said he is working through the legal issues, as some of the bonds were vaguely written. And there is some question as to who ultimately owns some of the ponds within the development. Also, there may not be enough money set aside to take care of the agreed-upon improvements in Blackberry Creek, so the village will want to prioritize what items it needs to have completed.

The village in April 2010 declared Blackberry Creek Subdivision developers B&B Enterprises, Inc., to be in material default for unfinished street and sewer work, and called for more than $10 million in developer insurance bonds to pay for the improvements.

The village then began working through the legal process to compel the bond company to complete the roadways within the subdivision.

“We’re going to keep pushing ahead,” Britz said.

Elburn still attempting to complete Blackberry Creek work

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The village of Elburn continues its attempts to complete infrastructure improvements left undone by B&B Enterprises within the Blackberry Creek Subdivision.

Village staff in February 2010 began working through the legal process to compel the bond company to complete the roadways within the subdivision. The village has bonds in place through B&B’s insurer to cover the cost of completing the roadways.

Village Attorney Bob Britz on Monday gave the Village Board an update on discussions he has had with the attorney for the bond company.

According to Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven, there are a number of streets within the Blackberry Creek subdivision that need a second layer of asphalt in order to keep the exposed layer from decaying. In addition, the stormwater and wastewater pipes have not been maintained during the last several years, which will eventually lead to silt or dirt getting into the pipes.

Nevenhoven said that the village realized in late 2009 or early 2010 that B&B had not completed the infrastructure work in Blackberry Creek. He said that, although discussions between Britz and the bond company’s attorney were taking place, BMO Harris, the bank that had foreclosed on the property, had not responded to the village’s attempts to reach them.

According to Nevenhoven, B&B had worked out a five-year wetlands restoration plan with the Army Core of Engineers. However, by year two, B&B had backed off, and by year three, had stopped doing anything, he said. Although the wetlands planting around the detention pond took place, the developer has done nothing further to maintain the open space or the detention ponds.

Britz’s recommendation to the board on Monday was to cite the bank with an ordinance violation.

Village water usage up in June and July

ELBURN—Village water usage during the drought in June and July was up significantly, according to Superintendent of Public Works John Nevenhoven. In June, the wells pumped 18 million gallons of water, an increase of 47 percent over last June. In July, the wells pumped 17.743 million gallons, up 16 percent over last July.

“The water table remains normal, but we pumped a lot of water,” Nevenhoven said.

Village finalizes budget for vote

Straw poll indicates 2 board members will vote no
by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—The Elburn Village Board will vote on the 2012-13 fiscal year budget at its next board meeting on Monday, April 16. The general operating budget is $2.5 million, and the total village budget is $4.7 million.

“It’s a bare bones budget,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said. “It’s tight. The expenses are more than revenues in some areas, but overall, it’s balanced.”

According to Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven, the big ticket items for the coming year will be the rehabilitation of Well No. 3 on North First Street, cleaning and interior repairs on the two north water towers, power washing the exterior of the three water towers, and updating the waste-water treatment plant.

The village has submitted a request for a low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to help with the funding for the treatment plant. With additional money from waste-water connection fees, the village will replace the pumps and control system in the plant, change the configuration of the flow and add an excess flow tank, Nevenhoven said.

On the March 20 ballot, voters were asked to pass a line item levy to pay for the police pension fund. It did not pass, so the money will have to come out of the general operating fund. Now that the village has hit the 5,000 mark in population, it is required to put an upfront, lump-sum payment of $162,765 into the fund within the first year, and in addition come up with a 21 percent contribution out of the police salaries. The lump-sum amount will come out of this fiscal year’s budget, but there is also a line item in next fiscal year’s budget of $100,000 for the police pensions.

Two trustees will vote no on the budget, based on a straw poll at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Ken Anderson said that, while he has appreciated all the work that everyone has put into the budgeting process, he felt they could have done a better job of living within the village’s means, based on the salary increases for the Elburn Police Department.

“I’m not in favor of the police increases,” he said.

Calling himself fiscally conservative, Anderson said that although he believes that people should be rewarded for their efforts, in these economic times, everybody needs to work together. He said that if village officials had extrapolated the operating budget plan five years out, like they did for the Public Works budget, they would see that after year one or two, they have used all their reserves for salaries.

The other ‘no’ vote will be Jerry Schmidt, who said he thought more money should have been allocated to the Public Works budget, for items such as maintenance of Prairie Park and the pavilion, a building to store the village’s salt, and more funding for street maintenance.

Village says goodbye, wishes Nevenhoven safe trip to Afghanistan

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday took a moment to recognize Superintendent of Public Works John Nevenhoven, who attended his last board meeting before leaving for active duty in Afghanistan.

Village President Dave Anderson read an open letter addressed to Nevenhoven which began, “Dear John,” causing the room to erupt with laughter as Nevenhoven himself quipped, “I’ve gotten those all my life.”

But the mood soon turned somber, as an emotional Anderson, on behalf of the entire board, wished him a safe journey as he begins a new tour of duty as Navy Lt. Nevenhoven, “an esteemed member of the United States Navy.”

The letter expressed the board’s appreciation to Nevenhoven’s sacrifice and also that of his family on his second trip to the Middle East.

“Please know that while your efforts will undoubtedly help those in Afghanistan, the impact of your valiant service will also be felt right here at home,” Anderson read, “as your work will ensure that we in the great United States of America, retain the freedoms we so often take for granted each day, and at the same time hold so dear to our hearts.”

Anderson commended Nevenhoven’s talent, drive and motivation as the village’s public works superintendent. He finished with a quote from Mark Twain: “Throw off the bowlines. Sail away, from the safe harbor and catch the trade winds in your sails.”

“I wish you Godspeed for a safe trip, and a most successful endeavor,” he concluded.

Anderson promised to offer any assistance to Nevenhoven and also to his family during his absence.

Nevenhoven expects to be away for about 13 months and will be reporting for duty on Oct. 21.

Blackberry Creek to get crosswalks, signage to slow down motorists

Photo: Crosswalk striping is planned at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Blackberry Creek Drive in Elburn, to slow down motorists entering from busy Hughes Road. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Motorists traveling through Blackberry Creek in Elburn will need to pay more attention when passing through the subdivision as the village takes some cautionary measures to alert drivers of pedestrian and bike traffic.

The Village Board approved a request to add “Children Playing” signs in both directions on Liberty Drive at Stoffa Avenue where the bike path exits leading to a playground. Crosswalk stripings also will be added at the intersection, as well as on Blackberry Creek Drive just south of Independence Avenue.

“These are pedestrian crossings,” Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said. “We got a request from a resident who was concerned traffic may be traveling too fast.”

The new stripings on Blackberry and Independence are just north of the heavily used entrance off Hughes Road.

Nevenhoven said with a bike path exiting right at the intersection of Liberty and Stoffa, the signage and striping provides motorists with a “heads up” to pay more attention to kids in the area.

New job title for PW Superintendent as he heads off to serve

by Sandy Kaczmarski
Elburn—Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven is leaving late next month, heading off to a “temporary job” about 6,000 miles away on the other side of the world.

His new title will be Navy Lieutenant Nevenhoven as he heads off to Afghanistan for his second tour of duty. He expects to be away for 13 months, with a report date of Oct. 21. For his first trip to the Middle East in 2006, Nevenhoven had only about two weeks to get ready.

“I’m not sure which is worse, the scrambling or anticipation,” he said.

Nevenhoven’s job will be here when he returns from serving his country, something he said gives him great peace of mind.

“The support that the Village Board and administration have shown has been tremendous and reduces my stress level,” he said. “I’m thankful for that.”

Village President Dave Anderson said the village will survive during his absence.

“Our well wishes go with John and his family,” Anderson said.

“I really do appreciate what the village has done for me,” Nevenhoven said. “When you serve part-time and your part-time job calls you and takes you away for 13 months, your full-time employer isn’t always real pleased about it.”

He said he works with “a great bunch of people” in the Public Works Department and wouldn’t be able to do this without their support.

Being called to duty is always stressful for families. Nevenhoven said he and Melissa, his wife of 19 years (their anniversary is Sept. 5), sat down with their two boys, Ryan, 12, and Jack, 3, to tell them their daddy will be gone for a while. Ryan remembers the last time his father was away.

“We sat him down and told him I’m going back over again, and of course he wasn’t all that pleased about it,” he said. “I think he’s starting to come to terms about it a little bit better, but obviously, as the date gets closer, the anxiety ramps up.”

Nevenhoven’s new job will be as the logistics officer for a provincial reconstruction team.

“With reconstruction teams, you’re assigned to a particular area and help the local elders to govern themselves,” he said. “It’s not so much you’re there to do it for them, but to help them with how to do these things to become self-sufficient.”

He said he’s a supply officer for the Navy, but that other branches of the military often tap into certain skill sets that are deemed valuable. During the last tour, Nevenhoven worked on logistics for the Army. He said he’s not sure whether he’ll be assigned to an all-Army group, or all-Navy.

To keep in touch with his family, Nevenhoven plans to bring along a laptop. He said where you are determines what kind of wireless access is available.

“If you’re closer to the major cities, such as Kabul or Kandahar, your access to that kind of infrastructure is greater,” he said. “The further you get out into the hinterlands, obviously, you don’t quite have that robust of a connection.”

But having the connection to “back home” has its downside.

“It’s one of those things where, yes, it’s nice to hear the voices and hear what’s going on,” he said. “But I’ve seen it happen where they (soldiers) get caught up in the day-to-day problems of what’s going on 6,000 miles away and then become incredibly frustrated.

“They can’t do it; you can’t help, you’re just not there,” he said.

Nevenhoven also credits his friends and neighbors whom he said will be there to take care of things at home if there’s a problem with the house or the cars.

“Life goes on,” he said. “My wife is wonderful. She’s been through this before. She’s smart, she’s independent, and can get things done.”

Nevenhoven said during his last tour, he found that the local people he worked with have the same basic desires that we do in this country.

“They want to live without fear, want to be able to raise their families, be able to work and be able to worship the way that they want to,” he said.

“If we can help them develop the tools to be self-sufficient,” he added, “I think it would be worthwhile.”

Treatment plant roof project continues

ELBURN—The Public Works Department received four bids in response to a request for proposals for the wastewater treatment plant roof construction. The project is funded for $235,000 by the Kane County Recovery Bond.

So far, $123,912 was spent for an automatic transfer switch at the plant and $9,910 for a six-inch pump. The balance of $101,177 is available for the roof replacement.

The flat roof on the plant costs the village more than $2,000 yearly due to damage from water on the bricks. The proposal asked for bids to construct a truss roof and to relocate the HVAC system. Alternate bids were requested for putting on a metal roof as opposed to asphalt shingles.

Public Works Director John Nevenhoven recommended the proposal made by Cole Enterprises of Elburn for $105,100. He cited the desire to use Elburn businesses for the project.

The remaining balance of the project is $3,922, and can be funded from the building fund.

Elburn board avoids water rate increase

Scaling back project list preserves rates at least through end of year
by Sandy Kaczmarski
Elburn—It looks as if residents won’t have to face a water/sewer increase—for a while, at least.

Superintendent of Public Works John Nevenhoven told the Elburn Village Board Monday that to complete all the projects on his wish list, water rates would have to increase from $5 to $15 a month.

“Realizing that is not going to be practical, I’ve identified two of the five (projects) that would absolutely, positively have to be done this coming year,” Nevenhoven said.

The two projects he recommends completing this year will cost $126,000, something he says can be done within his current budget.

One of the projects is to rebuild and service well No. 3 at a cost of $65,000. The well was last serviced in 2002, and recommendations are that it be serviced every six or seven years.

“With something like a well, we’d much rather do it on our terms than on the well’s terms,” he said, meaning to repair it now before it breaks down.

The other project is interior service on the North Tower, coming in at $61,000, which was last serviced in 1996. The tower doesn’t need to be serviced as frequently as the well, but Nevenhoven said it’s at a point where repairs need to be done.

As the board discussed expected balances at the beginning of the fiscal year May 1, Village Administrator Erin Willrett pointed out an ordinance that requires the budget to be reviewed every year, but that the board is not tied to a fiscal year.

“We could start the review of water/sewer capital and look at the list of projects throughout the year, and make that recommendation effective as of January 1,” she said.

Trustee Jerry Schmidt said that with the current budget, it appears that three projects could be approved right now and without having to consider raising rates.

Village President David Anderson said the board could go ahead with the two projects suggested, and wait until January to decide to do another project if funds are available.

“I kind of like that,” he said. “I think this gives us a better perspective.”

Anderson said the board has a “fiduciary responsibility to maintain and operate the water and sewer systems.”

Trustee William Grabarek agreed, and said by deciding next January, the board would have eight more months for more careful planning.

“It would give us a better ability to look at our budget come January on these capital projects and make a decision at that time,” he said.

Nevenhoven is moving ahead on the two projects already budgeted for, and Willrett said she will reintroduce these budget concerns next fall so the board can better assign priorities and take a look at the rate structure.

Priorities, numbers needed to make a decision about water rate hike

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Discussion at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting centered on the need to have capital projects prioritized and numbers clarified in order to make a decision whether water and sewer rates should be increased.

The proposed increase would increase a current bill of $46.60 to $47.14, or 1.4 percent. The water rate per 100 cubic feet would go from $3.50 to $3.55, and the sewer from $2.60 to $2.64.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said that the estimated revenues from the rate increase in 2010 were less than anticipated.

“The total shortfall is just over $54,000 of what we estimated revenues to be. We didn’t get as much money as we thought we were going to get, but we looked at the other side (expenditures) and found ways to reduce spending,” Nevenhoven said. “We stopped the bleeding we’d been experiencing the last couple of years.”

Last year’s large rate increase came at a time when the village was losing over $20,000 each month. Prior to that increase, water rates hadn’t been raised since the 1980s and sewer rates since the 1990s.

Usage fell following the rate hike with the system pumping 4 million gallons less than prior to the increase.

“With the increased rate, people think about it when they turn on their faucets. That’s why revenues are short,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

The board discussed raising the base rate, which is currently $5 for both sewer and water. This money is used for capital improvements such as painting the water tower and replacing blowers. Additionally, a portion of the sewer revenue, approximately $1.10, is dedicated to repaying a $240,000 bond from Kane County. It will take 10 years to pay back the bond.

Trustee Jeff Walter emphasized that operational costs may not remain stable if people turn off their water to cut costs and that increasing the base charge makes sense. Bill Grabarek agreed.

“I’m hesitant to ask for a 1.4 percent increase in water bills,” he said. “I’d rather mess with the capital, not the operating money. I’d prefer to look at what it would be with the base charge (increase).”

In order to know how much money is actually needed, the board needs to know what projects have priority and what criteria is used. Also, village officials need to be able to inform the public that a rate hike is on the horizon. So, for the increase to be in effect by May 1, notification would need to be in the April 1 water bills.

“On Monday (at the village board meeting, March 21), you will see a project list and the staff-pick projects and recommendations,” Willrett said.

Aftermath of the storm

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—By 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the snow had stopped falling and the process of digging out began.

“Our main goal was to make one pass on every street,” Public Works Director John Nevenhoven said. “We wanted to make every street passable for firefighters or cops to get through.”

But the real work is a long and tedious process. With drifts as high as five feet in Blackberry Creek subdivision, the only way to move the snow is with a front-end loader.

“Scoop and dump, scoop and dump, in order to cut a path. We can’t move the snow without lifting it. We can get it off the road, but we don’t have any place to put the snow,” Nevenhoven said.

The village’s equipment is adequate for snowfalls of six to seven inches, but one of this size challenges the three large plows, four small ones, and one front-end loader.

“We have about 2,000 houses in Elburn. Imagine how long it would take to dig out every one? The snow is three feet high out to the street. We can’t move it all at one time. We have to take a piece at a time, and a piece at a time,” Nevenhoven said.

The three to four plows have been out on the streets working nine-hour days since the snow fell.

“We can’t get to everybody first. It will take longer to get to certain parts of time. We work one section at a time,” Nevenhoven said.

Above and beyond

Public service becomes priority during blizzard
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Elburn firefighters, police officers, snow plow drivers, neighbors, Good Samaritans and a guy on a snowmobile rose above and beyond the usual to help those in need during Tuesday’s blizzard. They rescued stranded travelers, responded to emergencies that may have saved lives and kept the roads passable as long as possible during Tuesday’s blizzard.

The snow started falling Tuesday around 2 p.m., and by 9:30 or 10 p.m., the roads were too dangerous even for the snowplows. But Metra was still running, and a late train was due to arrive.

“We knew we had to keep the roads open as long as possible,” Public Works Director John Nevenhoven said. “We stayed out longer than the county and the state because we knew people were coming home from work.”

When the plow tried to keep the Metra access road open, it itself got stuck with cars backed up behind.

“It became a bit of an ordeal. We couldn’t let people onto the access road, so what do you do with the people getting off the train? We opened up the emergency access off Kansas and escorted them to the warming station at the Fire Department,” Nevenhoven said.

He drove carefully up the hill at 10 mph, keeping from going off the embankment by the streetlights that shone through the winds and snow.

According to Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan, about 15 to 20 people took shelter at the station in town, and five to six people at Station 2. Many spent the night. One man was not able to leave until Wednesday afternoon, when his road was finally opened up. Jewel donated food to the warming station.

“I was one of a group of ‘refugees’ that were stranded after arriving late at the Metra or were simply forced to abandon their vehicles,” Sycamore resident Dennis O’Sullivan shared with the Elburn Herald via e-mail. “All of the firemen were extremely welcoming and helpful during the storm that required their full attention. I can only hope they know our appreciation for the use of their fire house, the food and the gallons of coffee.”

The firefighters not only warmed stranded travelers, one, with the help of a member of a local snowmobile club, rescued a couple in their home in the middle of the blizzard. Nick Webb and his fiance Courtney were awakened in the middle of the night by their Golden Retriever, Dusty, and discovered their house was filled with carbon monoxide gas. They quickly opened all the windows and called the Fire Department.

“I thought for sure we would never see the Fire Department, or at least not for a few hours or the next day. It was between three and four o’clock in the morning with windows open and the snow blowing through the screens into our home,” Webb said. “Then in less than half an hour an Elburn fireman named Joe-I believe a 24-year old on call-and a member of the Elburn snowmobilers club came racing down the middle of the street.”

The couple was told to leave the house because the levels of carbon monoxide were three times the acceptable level.

“We are so fortunate, and so grateful to the firefighter and the snowmobiler that came out immediately. Thanks again to everyone involved. I can’t say enough,” Webb said.

Another woman is grateful for the snowplow driver, Andrew Stratton, who came to her rescue when she fell down outside her home on Conley Drive as it was getting dark on Wednesday.

“He (Stratton) saw an elderly lady lying at the end of her drive and stopped the plow to come to her assistance,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “He put his jacket on her, got her into her house, called the paramedics and waited until they arrived. He may have saved that lady’s life. Their job is to drive the trucks and plow snow. That shows the character of our employees.”

Eventually that night, even the rescuers needed to be rescued when one of the fire trucks got stuck.

“People helped get us out. One guy plowed a path to get us back to the station,” Callaghan said.

Anderson attributes the efforts to the small-town values that Elburn is known for.

“The cooperation of the Fire Department, the Police Department, the village employees, those who ran the plows and those who didn’t was awesome. That’s the small-town feel. You can have a small town even in a large city. Small town is an attitude,” Anderson said.

Water, sewer rate increases benefit village

Elburn—The water and sewer rate increases implemented May 1, 2010, have paid off. Superintendent of Public Works John Nevenhoven said that the increase is keeping the village out of the red.

“It looks like we’re covering our costs. That was the goal, so that we’re not bleeding out,” Nevenhoven said.

Village President Dave Anderson estimated that the village was losing $20,000 each month at the former rate. The village raised the rates from $2.00 per 100 cubic feet to a $5.00 base plus $2.60 per cf for sewer and from $2.69 for water to a $5.00 base plus $3.50. The effect was to double the bills of many residents but bring the village back from the red.

The rate increase has brought in $10,000 on the water and sewer side every month, allowing the village to add $120,000 to its capital fund. Many of the older sections of town are in need of upgrades to systems that have been in place since the 1950s and may have lead in the lines.

“We can go through that $120,000 pretty quickly,” Anderson said.

Public works budget laid out for review

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Public Works, like the other village of Elburn departments, presented to the board on Monday its proposals for spending in the coming year.

“We’re not voting. We’re just discussing at this point,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said. “These are John (Nevenhoven)’s plans. We need to know if we’re on track or not, so we can find creative solutions.”

Many items were up for discussion as parts of $312,500 requested for water treatment upgrades. According to Nevenhoven, the most important project is to repair a well in the water system.

“Number one on my list to do for next year is for Well 3 to be pulled out, inspected and repaired,” Nevenhoven said. “It should be pulled out every six to seven years. It’s been nine years.”

The well is losing capacity where the water has worn it down, and sand and stone has clogged it. The cost for the project would run $65,000.

Also, the north water tower needs to be cleaned inside the stem and bulb at a cost of $121,500. The north tower and the First Street tower need to be repainted at a cost of $126,000.

“This is not a cheap item to do, but it’s part of the maintenance of the tower,” Nevenhoven said. “Does it need to be done this year? No, but it needs to stay on the radar. Otherwise, we’ve got a beautiful water tower that doesn’t function.”

Elburn—Elburn joins municipalities all over the nation in trying to find money to pay for a federally mandated initiative to change all street signs in favor of greater reflectivity. That means every stop sign, speed sign, warning sign and street name sign will have to be replaced to meet the new standards by 2015—at a cost to the village.

In January 2008 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) implemented new standards in sign reflectivity to promote safety on the nation’s streets and highways. Municipalities are on their own in funding this monumental change.

“We’ve spent $5,000 and have replaced 15 to 20 percent of the signs,” said John Nevenhoven, superintendent of public works. “We do a few each year, but the (Elburn) Lions have been generous in helping replace the signs.”

Village will repair leaking pump

ELBURN—The village of Elburn will hire Gaskill-Walton to repair a leaking pump at the Williams Ridge Lift Station in Blackberry Creek subdivision, for an amount not to exceed $9,980.

The connection between the pump and the force main has started to lose its water-tight seal, Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

The Elburn Public Works Committee on Monday approved the project, which Nevenhoven recommended.

The project will require removing sewage from the well and isolating the well from incoming sewage.

Bid unnecessary for recent sewer repairs

ELBURN—Stormwater sewer repairs related to a five-foot sinkhole in a backyard in the 500 block of Cambridge Street in Elburn will cost the village $20,000.

On Tuesday, the Elburn Finance Committee reviewed a report from Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven. He said the repairs were to portions of the storm sewer that had collapsed or were susceptible to the return invasion of tree roots.

The contractor that Nevenhoven hired to complete the repairs, Gerry Snow, provided a verbal quote for the repairs on July 28. The village did not need to seek bids from other contractors because of the emergency nature of the repairs and because the expense did not exceed $20,000.

Loan sought for emergency generator at plant

Village concerned outages could cause sewer crisis
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The village of Elburn this week applied for a $539,000 government loan to pay for an emergency generator for the wastewater treatment plant, to prevent residential sewer backups during power outages.

The village is seeking the low-interest loan from Kane County’s $16 million Recovery Zone Bond Program financed by the federal government.

The emergency generator has been on the village’s wish list for more than a year. In January 2009, Village engineer Bill Gain told the Village Board, “It is imperative that Elburn install a power generator at its wastewater treatment plant to prevent residential sewage backups during a power outage.”

He said then that if there were a power outage, the plant would be without power for its lift stations, possibly for 12 hours or more.

Gain’s prediction proved correct. On June 18, a severe storm led to electrical outages in Elburn and throughout northern Illinois. The village’s wastewater treatment plant on Thrysilius Drive had no electricity for 13 hours starting at 3:30 p.m.

Reporting on the incident to the Village Board Monday, Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said public works personnel reacted quickly and set up gas-powered pumps to move the influent into the oxidation ditches at the plant. They also borrowed an additional pump from the city of Geneva.

“That put us over the top and prevented us from flooding out,” Nevenhoven said.

Nevenhoven said the village received no reports of sewage backing up into basements.

“It came close,” Nevenhoven said.

Nevenhoven said the village will find out in September or October whether the loan for the emergency generator is approved.

The village would have 10 years to pay off the loan, at 3 percent interest, and the federal government would reimburse the village 45 percent of the interest it paid, Nevenhoven said.

Trustee believes village staff is top-heavy

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The village of Elburn had three top staffers—an administrator, a police chief and a public works superintendent until 2008, when it created another position—community development director, a job that later was renamed assistant village administrator.

Two years ago, village trustee Gordon Dierschow was hesitant to create the position, but he decided the village should give it a try. He voted with other trustees in favor of it because of the many development proposals the village had at that time.

On Wednesday, he said that if the economic downturn and slowed housing market that happened since then continues, the village should consider reductions in higher-paid administrative staff, whether in hours, wages or positions.

“We’re a little heavy on the administration side,” he said. “I think we are overstaffed at this time.”

The Village Board on Monday renewed the annual appointments of Village Administrator Erin Willrett, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven and Police Chief Steve Smith. Village President Dave Anderson made the appointments with the consent of the Village Board.

Assistant Village Administrator Dave Morrison’s position does not require an annual appointment. After taking office in May 2009, Anderson named Morrison community development director, and two weeks later changed his title to assistant village administrator. Anderson said the title more accurately reflected the position, which included administrative and committee duties as well as economic development.

Also in May 2009, Anderson named Willrett village administrator. She had been community development director for 16 months before landing the village’s top job, which Morrison had held for more than a decade.

When Anderson reversed the roles of Willrett and Morrison in 2009, he raised Willrett’s salary by nearly $20,000 and lowered Morrison’s salary by about the same amount. However, as assistant administrator, Morrison’s new salary was $93,343 compared to Willrett’s former salary of $79,000.

“We felt that because of the experience he had, he merited a higher salary,” Anderson said Wednesday. “We would not offer a starting (administrative position) salary that high.”

2010-11 top staff salaries
Village Administrator $97,788.58
Asst. Village Administrator $93,343.64
Public Works Superintendent $78,500
Police Chief $80,817

Fire hydrant flushing next week

The Village and the Elburn Fire Department are scheduled to start flushing fire hydrants next week. The main purpose behind flushing is to exercise the hydrants to make sure they are in good working order.

Public Works crews typically start flushing hydrant on the north end town near the water towers, and work their way outwards.They will post signs in the neighborhoods to alert people of the flushing, which is expected to be finished in one week.

When the hydrants are flushed, some rust may be present in the system, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said. He urged to let their water run for a few minutes after the hydrant flushing to clear any rust from their service lines.

“Using a faucet or spigot nearest their water meter will help to prevent rust from entering the plumbing system,” Nevenhoven said.

Tree removal, replacement will continue this spring

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The Arbor Day Foundation has designated Elburn as a Tree City USA for more than a decade, a recognition the village has earned, in part, by diligently maintaining its parkway trees.

This spring, the village is continuing a project started last year to remove 116 dead and dying trees on parkways in the village. In addition, a few replacement trees will be planted soon and the village will install more thereafter as it can afford them, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

“It’s all driven by budget,” Nevenhoven said.

Trees that were removed first will be replaced first, and priority will be given to replacement trees that property owners helped the village pay for through the 50-50 program, Nevenhoven said.

The village in 2009 created a list of the trees that needed removal, most having been infected by the emerald ash borer and primarily located in the Blackberry Creek and Prairie Valley subdivisions.

A village-hired contractor last year removed the larger trees, and its Public Works Department began pulling out the smaller affected trees last fall. The department soon will start removing the remaining ones, Nevenhoven said.

Replacement trees include linden, locust, various maples and others.

The reason most of the trees that were diseased by the emerald ash borer were in the village’s newer subdivisions was because younger trees are more vulnerable to the insect, which bore into the trunks, Nevenhoven said.

Arbor Day celebration
will highlight its
achievement as a
Tree City USA
during its annual
Arbor Day Celebration
Saturday morning, April 24.
Village officials have not decided
on a location yet, but possibly will hold the event at Liberty Park
and plant a tree there.