Tag Archives: Sugar Grove Police Department

Police promote Alive at 25 driving program for teens

by Keith Beebe

The rate of fatal car crashes in Kane County involving people under the age of 25 is alarmingly high, and while no one seems to have any answers as to why this is, the Sugar Grove Police Department believes they have the solution: education.

The Alive at 25 safety program is a class intended to educate teens who are in drivers education, plus people who have received traffic tickets, about the great responsibility a person has when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle. The program also brings the horror of a car crash to the classroom, graphically emphasizing the consequences of driving recklessly, intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

Initially adopted in Colorado, the Alive at 25 program was placed in drivers education programs, leading to a 20 percent decrease in car-related fatalities among teen drivers.

“Although it’s called Alive at 25, most of the classes we do (are with) students (ages) 16 to about 20,” said John Sizer, investigator for the Sugar Grove Police Department. “In that age group, you’re at highest risk. If anybody that age is going to die, it’s typically going to be in a car crash. So we’ve tried to separate those people from the rest of the drivers in the Drivers Safety program. I’ve been training for National Safety Council for about eight years, and it’s mostly adults.”

The program has been well received by Kaneland High School students, perhaps due in part to a little parking permit incentive.

“We worked with Kaneland High School for this first year to initially make it voluntary,” Sizer said. “If they (students) wanted a discount on their parking permit, they could take the Alive at 25 program and get a $50 discount. It’s a $40 class that they are getting for free, plus the $50 discount. Not too bad of a deal. So we offered it to them on a voluntary basis and to date, we’ve trained about 150 Kaneland students. It’s worked really well.”

The Alive at 25 program was first recommended to the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce by a representative from Waubonsee Community College. The village showed immediate interest in the safety program, because, at the time, Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger and Village President Sean Michels both had kids who would be driving soon.

“What Alive at 25 does is deal with issues like maturity, lack of experience, accepting responsibility, finding out what the consequences are for what they’re doing,” Sizer said. “And when we talk with these kids, a lot of them will admit that they’re relatively new to driving; they’ve never been given this level of responsibility. It’s an adult responsibility; they’re going to be treated like adults, and the consequences are very adult.”

Those consequences are made painfully clear to those enrolled in the Alive at 25 class, with crash scene photographs.

“I use a lot of pictures as examples,” Sizer said. “A picture’s worth a thousand words, so when I am trying to get a point across about speeding and what the consequences are, I’ll show them photographs—these are local, recent, cases that they’ve probably read about in the paper, with people that they may have known who were involved. I’ll show them pictures of what the consequences are if you’re doing 100 miles an hour. Pictures of what the consequences are if you start drinking or doing drugs and decide you’re going to drive.”

Sizer is concise when asked why Kane County needs the Alive at 25 program.

“In the month of October, we went to four fatal crashes in the south end of Kane County. Three out of the four involved alcohol; three out of the four victims were under the age of 25, and with three out of the four, speed was involved.”

Police contract approved by village

by Susan O’Neill

Sugar Grove police officers are working with a union contract since the village and the Metropolitan Alliance of Police came to terms in December.

According to Sugar Grove Finance Director Justin VanVooren, the four-year contract covers the 12 patrol officers, beginning with initial salary increases averaging 3.95 percent and effective retroactively back to Aug. 1, 2007.

In addition, cost-of-living (COL) increases of 3.25 percent were implemented effective as of May 1, 2008. The COL increases will take effect each May 1 for the length of the contract.

The officer’s salary range was increased as of May 1, as well, going from $43,355 – $62,783 up to $44,764 -$64,823. The range will be increased again in 2009 and 2010. Officers receive step increases based on their length of time in the job. The number of steps within the range was reduced from nine to eight, making each step increase larger and allowing the officers to reach the top of the range quicker.

Officers received step increases on Aug. 1, 2008, and they will receive a step increase each Aug. 1.

Both COL and step increases are predicated on the officer receiving a satisfactory performance evaluation, VanVooren said.

VanVooren said the last salary survey the village conducted looking at all village staff salaries in other communities was completed on May 1, 2006.

“We made an adjustment then, so we felt we were competitive,” he said.

When village staff began reviewing salary requirements for the contract, another survey was conducted, using police department contracts in 10 other communities.

Other terms of the contract include grievance procedures, work hours, overtime, holidays, sick and personal days, vacation time and insurance. The uniform allowance was formalized and special duty pay was implemented for officers in charge in lieu of a supervisor and for officers conducting field-training.

The Village Board approved the contract on Dec. 16, 2008, and raises were paid out on Dec. 19. The contract runs through April 30, 2011.

This is the Sugar Grove Police Department’s first union contract, and the discussions have taken place over the past two years. Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said that although that sounds like a long time, it is actually fairly typical for an initial contract.

“You are starting from scratch, and you’re discussing every issue,” he said.

He said the relationship remained positive throughout the discussions and there were not any major issues that interfered with day-to-day operations. He said he believes it is a fair contract, as evidenced by both sides reaching a voluntary agreement.

Village officials will soon begin negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police for a similar contract for its four sergeants.

Police contract by the numbers
Covers 12 officers
3.95% average first salary increase retro back to Aug. 1, 2007
3.25% cost of living increases May 1, 2008, 2009 and 2010
Step increases on Aug. 1, 2008, 2009 and 2010
Vacation time earned increases to 4 weeks at 14 years, down from 16 years
Contract runs from Aug. 1, 2007 to April 30, 2011

Right place, right time

by Susan O’Neill

Sugar Grove police arrived at the scene of an accident at 10:55 a.m. on Tuesday involving the rollover of a horse trailer. They found a horse tangled up and thrashing around inside the trailer.

“We were afraid he was going to hurt himself,” Sugar Grove investigator John Sizer said.

However, some help had already arrived. A woman sitting next to the horse told police she was an equine specialist, and had just taken a class in dealing with equine emergencies.

The police were trying to figure out how to get the horse out of the trailer safely when another woman approached them and said, “I’m a vet; can I help?”

She was able to sedate the horse, an 11-year-old male named Delaney. Two additional people, who identified themselves as equine dentists, arrived in time to help Sugar Grove firefighters extricate the horse trapped inside the trailer.

Once the sedative wore off, the horse was loaded onto another trailer and taken from the scene. He suffered minor cuts and bruises.

The horse was being transported by Karen Marie Le Sueur, 53, of Champaign, Ill., in a 2002 Toyota truck. She was driving northbound on Route 47 north of Jericho Road when she hit an icy patch and lost control of the truck. She slid off onto the west side of Route 47.

The trailer rolled over on its side and slid to a stop. Le Sueur was not injured.

Sizer said he was taken aback by all of the trained help that showed up at just the right time. These people had been driving by on Route 47.

“Marni McClennan was the first angel,” LeSueur said. “She knew just what to do. I feel so blessed for all the peope who showed up. The whole community was so wonderful.”

Sizer said that with all of the good Samaritans, they pretty well took care of the situation.

“I don’t know what we would have done if they hadn’t showed up,” he said. “Obviously, it was not this horse’s turn to die.”

Police ID additional potential victims of Baby Fest fraud

by Susan O’Neill

Additional potential victims of Baby Fest promoter Joanie M. Bellas have come forward since the Sugar Grove police released information about her possible scam. Police have also identified more people through a review of Bellas’ business records.

“We may end up with 15 to 20,” Sugar Grove investigator John Sizer said.

Vendors representing baby products and services who thought they paid to participate in a trade show for expectant mothers may have been victims of a scam conducted by Bellas, an Aurora resident.

“Most of the victims are small business owners that go to trade shows,” Sizer said.

Bellas signed a contract with the Vaughan Athletic Center for a space for Oct. 18 and 19 to hold the trade show advertised on her website as Baby Fest. She began collecting the money from potential vendors through a post office box in Geneva.

The Vaughan Center cancelled the event when it did not receive Bella’s deposit or the references it requested. Sizer said it was not clear whether Bellas ever intended to hold the event, but she continued to take applications and money for months after she knew it had been cancelled.

Officers from the Sugar Grove Police Department and the U.S. Postal Service arrested Bellas at her residence in the 900 block of Lindenwood Drive in Aurora Township at 8 a.m. Dec. 18. Bellas, 38, was arrested on charges of theft by deception and computer fraud.

Bellas was taken into custody to the Sugar Grove Police Department, where she was booked and posted $1,000 cash bond. The police also seized her computer and business records. She was released with a court date of Thursday, Jan. 8.

Sizer said that in addition to the victims from Wisconsin and Missouri, it looks as though there may be one from Michigan. He said that the charges could include federal mail fraud if the amount of money is large enough.

“I’m not sure how we will handle it,” Sizer said. “It’s unusual that I would have so many victims outside my jurisdiction.”

Sizer said that anyone who has any information or who feels they are a victim of this scam should call the Sugar Grove police at (630) 466-4526, ext. 37.