Tag Archives: Ken Wiesner

Building a better Sugar Grove

Sugar Grove group seeks to inform, organize community
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Public Library’s ongoing saga this past summer brought out anger, resentment and frustration from many residents, but it also brought to light how important it is to inform and organize the community about everything that goes on in the village.

The recently formed Citizens for a Better Sugar Grove group will seek to do just that.

“Our mission is to help inform residents of local issues and promote democracy at the local level by encouraging residents to become informed and active within the community,” founder Ken Wiesner said. “It was originally created out of the need for community organization with the recent issues at the Sugar Grove Public Library, but our intent is to broaden the scope and become a central hub for all things Sugar Grove. We believe that, as our community continues to grow, it is the responsibility of every resident to help shape the future of our village.”

Four members of the Library Board—President Joan Roth, Vice President Art Morrical, and trustees Bill Bergman and Julie Wilson—voted in favor of the termination of long-time Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes on July 14. Since that date, the public comment section of every board meeting has been extensive, with countless residents requesting that the four board members to resign.

Wiesner is a former member of the Sugar Grove Library Friends—a group that dissolved in early August to protest Hughes’ termination—and the creator of the group’s website, www.citizensforsugargrove.org, which features breaking news, a listing of upcoming community events and action alerts.

Wiesner and the Citizens for a Better Sugar Grove group notified several village residents after learning that Linda J. (L.J.) Gleysteen, a former West Aurora School District employee who was Roth’s choice to fill the library’s FOIA officer position, had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery after a February incident in which the then-Jefferson Middle School teacher squirted a seventh-grade student in the eyes with a solution used to clean whiteboards.

The Library Board at its meeting on Aug. 25 voted 4-1 to terminate its relationship with Gleysteen.

“The main focus over the past few months has been the issues surrounding the Sugar Grove Public Library. Our main objective has been to inform residents of the issues, present the facts, and encourage them to attend meetings and voice their opinions,” Wiesner said.

The Citizens for a Better Sugar Grove consists of Wiesner, former Sugar Grove Library Friends President Pat Graceffa, past Library Board President Doug Hartman, and residents Mari Johnson and Louise Coffman. The group uses social media and e-mail broadcasts to get its message out to the community, but will also use more traditional forms of advocacy: sending letters to newspapers, distributing mass flyers, etc. Currently, the Citizens for a Better Sugar Grove group has 435 people on its mailing list.

Wiesner encourages residents to visit the group’s website, where they can sign up for action alert e-mails, links to blogs and local newspaper coverage of Sugar Grove issues.

“It is clear that our efforts have paid off, as we have seen new people in attendance at recent Library Board meetings ask questions and voice their concerns,” he said. “I am proud of my neighbors who have stepped up to be informed active residents, and hope that they will continue to do so, especially in the next election cycle.”

Library Board approves appointment of Oliver as board trustee

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Library Board at its meeting on Sept. 8 voted 6-0 to approve the appointment of Anthony Oliver as board trustee.

Oliver, 66, is the vice president of Capaul-Oliver Services, a company specializing in the design and construction of library, school and healthcare projects. He had been consistently vocal during the public comment sections of Library Board meetings ever since the board approved the termination of former Director Beverly Holmes Hughes in mid-July. His appointment will fill the board seat vacated by former trustee Sabrina Malano last June.

Library Board Vice President Art Morrical, during the discussion period prior to the vote to appoint Oliver, said that Anthony was the best candidate the Library Board had.

“He has tremendous experience with buildings, with libraries. He’s our best choice,” he said.

Board Secretary Bill Durrenberger then responded that, with due respect to Oliver, he believed there was no one on the face of the planet who is more qualified or deserving of a position on the board than former Sugar Grove Library Friends President Pat Graceffa. Graceffa was one of nine applicants for the board position.

“As far as I am concerned, if Pat wants a seat on this board, she should be given that seat by acclamation,” Durrenberger said. “But that’s not going to happen with the board as it’s presently constituted.”

Durrenberger was also complimentary of Oliver.

“Anthony, I’ve read your application, and certainly you’ve got a great background in libraries, and you’ve been coming down here and sitting with us during this troubled time for the Sugar Grove (Library), so you certainly appear to be qualified to me, and that being the case, I intend to support your nomination tonight,” he said.

Oliver was also sworn in during the meeting.

“It is with deep pleasure that I accept the honor of being appointed to the office of trustee of Sugar Grove Public Library District. (It’s) my desire that I also have the trust and support of the taxpayers and the patrons of this library,” Oliver said. “I will do my very best to represent you in an open and wonderful way. This library family is in disarray and very angry at each other for various reasons, including the firing of our director of over 20 years, Beverly Holmes Hughes. I do not know all the reasons why the board considered it so important to dismiss Mrs. Holmes Hughes at this time, but I do know … I don’t think there’s gonna be any resignations anytime soon.”

Oliver then said it was time to hire the very best library director to lead the Sugar Grove Library into the future. He called for a compensation package to be offered to Hughes to properly thank her for all the years of leadership she offered the library, and also thanked the Friends of the Library for their devotion and hard work over the years, asking them to stay in the community.

“Your organization is so very much needed and appreciated,” he said.

The unanimous vote to approve Oliver’s appointment drew applause from members of the public in attendance—a group that has not had much to cheer for since Hughes’ termination two months ago.

“Anthony’s background in library services makes him the ideal person to fill the vacancy,” said former Sugar Grove Library Friends member Ken Wiesner, who is the founder of the Citizens for a Better Sugar Grove political action group. “I am very pleased Trustee Morrical nominated an outspoken critic of the board. Hopefully this is an indication that he is finally starting to listen to the Library District residents.”