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Diamond business

Photo: Sarah Elliott, a sixth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School, makes the catch at first during Wasco Diamonds 12U tryouts Aug. 7. Photo by Patti Wilk

Wasco softball outfit’s success tells story

WASCO—Early August at the Anderson Park fields off of Brown Road, north of Elburn, is tryout time for the Wasco Diamonds teams spanning six age groups.

It’s business as usual for the travel softball program, but their business is getting the most out of players, growing their skills and accumulating banners.

Since beginning as an outlet for area softball players in the mid-1990s, the Wasco Diamonds keep winning and keep getting exposure in local and national tournament exhibitions.

A program that has averaged six national tournament qualifications a season, taken two first places at the USSSA World Series, and sends handfuls of eligible college players to college programs every year has found a formula for success, namely coaches, staff and players performing at a high level.

With former Kaneland varsity players like Delani (Northern Illinois University) and Rilee Vest (Cornell College) and Lexi Roach (Youngstown State University), and current Lady Knights personnel like Morgan Sikon and Angie Morrow, the Diamonds have seen their share of local KHS talent.

The Diamonds are also the choice for athletes from schools like Burlington Central and Elgin.

Steve Cihlar, former coach with the Diamonds program and recently retired from Diamond dealings, feels it’s no mystery why the Wasco softball institution belongs to more than just the Route 64 area.

“The training is second to none,” Cihlar said. “We had the best training staff and coaches. Girls try to get college scholarships and be seen, but you’ve got to be able to play the game here.”

Cihlar, of St. Charles, has coached at the 16U and 18U levels and put two daughters through the Diamonds way of doing things, and always feels a sense of pride when players get signed to the next level, even when not directly coaching the player.

“I am proud of that, and that’s part of what building up the program is,” Cihlar said.

Playing anywhere from local fields to tournaments featuring 40 teams in other states under the USSSSA or ASA banner, Cihlar is just one of many Diamonds personnel who has seen the growth of the program.

“The most amazing thing to me about the Wasco Diamonds is seeing the growth firsthand. I remember going to some of these college exposure tournaments five or 10 years ago and now teams see the name and want to play us. That’s due to the people involved being incredibly dedicated,” Cihlar said.

Incoming Kaneland senior Angie Morrow has donned a Diamonds uniform through her pre-teen years, two high schools and a couple of May no-hitters, and knows the Diamonds program was instrumental in her skill elevation and signing with University of Wisconsin softball.

“It’s about the coaches and the players. We all try to play at a high level. We want to be good enough to keep playing these teams from California that never have to go inside,” Morrow said.

Morrow, who plans to once again suit up for the Wasco Diamonds at 18U competition, has seen her share of every result, but can point to one particular memory.

“When I was in 11U, we won the first World Series for the Diamonds in Missouri. To win a World Series was amazing,” Morrow said.

Taking over from Cihlar on the 18U front will be Steve’s co-coach and Angie’s father, Bill.

The elder Morrow has seen the Wasco crew become a definition of an area travel softball squad, with an eye on the future.

“We get kids from St. Charles North, St. Charles East, Batavia, Kaneland, Burlington, and even DeKalb and Jacobs. I mean, we get girls playing from all of Fox Valley. The philosophy of the Wasco Diamonds over the last five or so years has changed where we focus more on helping the kids get to college. Academically, we require a higher standard. If you’re good academically, it becomes easier for colleges to assist them financially with scholarships,” Morrow said. “This program is dedicated to helping these kids, and we go to the best tournaments in the country for recruiting. We have built a national name.”

Morrow, who has experience coaching baseball and softball, is one of many who have seen the influence of the Wasco Diamonds, and like others currently involved, continues to help it grow from just outside the chalk lines.

“Travel softball now has had a light put on it. It’s gone from an infield game with dink and dunk hits, but now there’s more power than ever before. There’s nothing like being around this and around the kids. There’s nothing better than having a kid you coached and now in college and see you and say ‘Hi.’”

Information on the Wasco Diamonds can be found at www.wascodiamonds.com.

School Board approves Schuler resignation

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 4-2 to approve Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler’s resignation.

Schuler last week accepted an offer to become superintendent for schools in the Wheaton Warrenville School District, where he will make a base salary of $225,000. His current salary at Kaneland is $194,000.

Schuler will continue working for Kaneland until he takes his new position on Sept. 2. The new Kaneland school year will begin Aug. 20.

School Board members Veronica Bruhl and Tony Valente voted against approving Schuler’s resignation. School Board President Cheryl Krauspe was absent from the meeting.

Bruhl said she has received many calls from taxpayers regarding Schuler’s move to the Wheaton Warrenville School District.

“Taxpayers are very angry,” Bruhl said.

She added that taxpayers have asked how the School Board “could let this happen.”

“People are very, very unhappy,” Bruhl said.

Schuler’s most recent contract with Kaneland was slated to run through June 2016. However, the contract was not written in a way that would hold Schuler responsible should he leave prior to the conclusion of his deal.

“We made a commitment,” Valente said. “The board made a commitment.”

Bruhl agreed with Valente.

“Where I work, you have a contract,” Bruhl said. “You hold to the contract.”

Valente suggested holding Schuler’s certificate until the Kaneland superintendent position is filled.

“I don’t think that’s anything that would be done in good faith,” Witt said, referring to such a move as “vindictive.”

Witt spoke in a choked-up voice while giving Schuler high praise. She said that she was not surprised that Schuler had been recruited and hired by a “high caliber school district.” She noted District 302’s accomplishments during Schuler’s time as superintendent, including Harter Middle School’s recognition as a “school to watch”; an attempt to further engage the Kaneland community; a balanced budget that at times required “painful cuts” to be made; and AP and Spanish classes at Harter Middle School this year.

She then spoke as a Kaneland parent.

“I am forever grateful,” Witt said. “He leaves us in a much better place.”

Village gives thumbs-up to ‘Shop Elburn First’

ELBURN—The Elburn Economic Development Commission (EDC) received a big thumbs-up from the Elburn Village Board on Monday to move forward with the “Break the Habit, Shop Elburn First” campaign. The board also committed funding to help pay for the commission’s efforts.

Elburn EDC Chair Joe Kryszak, president of JDW Institutional Paper and active Elburn Lions Club member, along with CeCe Rocha, National Bank & Trust representative and active Chamber member, attended the Village Board meeting to discuss their request.

In a letter sent to board members last week, the EDC, created by the village in November 2013, outlined its goals and described some of the activities it wanted to pursue. Among the activities is a marketing effort directed toward Elburn residents, asking them to shop in their village first, as opposed to automatically turning east to head to Randall Road.

“The hurdle that the committee is running up against is not being funded,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said. “We are requesting $5,000 this fiscal year to bring back the “Break the Habit, Shop Elburn First” campaign.”

Willrett said the money would go to pay for a logo, banners, tote bags, and other items that would raise awareness of the Economic Development Commission’s vision and market Elburn’s business community to its residents.

“No matter what you do, it’s going to cost money,” Kryszak said.

He noted that the cost for the Shop Elburn First campaign is the least of the money that they would need, although he also said that some of what the commission wants to accomplish could be done through donations from local businesses. As an example, he suggested that local businesses could potentially donate the asphalt to pave the existing parking lots.

Kryszak said that signs directing people to the parking lots would also be important.

“When people come through town, and they don’t see parking and there’s no sign to tell them where the parking is located, they won’t stop; they’ll just keep driving,” he said.

Village President Dave Anderson commended the group for the work that it has already done, noting that they have come up with some “good, sound suggestions.”

Trustee Jeff Walter threw in his support of the group and its request.

“I’ve been a proponent of economic development for some time,” he said.

Walter added that the increased business this could create would come back to the village in sales tax dollars.

“Eventually it pays for itself,” he said.

Trustee Pat Schuberg concurred that you have to invest in marketing in order to grow your businesses.

“I’m absolutely behind you guys,” she said.

The board agreed to take half of the money coming to the village from the video gaming machines in town, originally set to go toward improvement of Elburn’s parks, and make it available to the commission for this and other projects. The village currently receives an average of $1,000 per month from the gaming revenue.

Anderson asked Kryszak to come up with details for how much money they will need for the campaign, as well as specifics on where it will be spent.

“You’ve got some hoops to jump through,” Anderson said. “I appreciate the hard work you’ve done. The direction is straight ahead.”

The Economic Development Commission was created last year to assist the village in attracting new economic growth and new businesses, and retaining and revitalizing current businesses within the village.

Sugar Grove considering Route 47 name change

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday discussed the process of changing the name of the stretch of Route 47 in Sugar Grove to “Sugar Grove Parkway.”

The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Sugar Grove originally recommended renaming Route 47 to Sugar Grove Parkway for marketing purposes.

“All agencies and property owners will be notified to change all their records,” said Development Director Walter Magdziarz. “The postal service will continue to get their mail delivered to their address because it’s a state highway. The cost will be very low as well.”

The concept of change was the chief concern brought up in regard to the potential name change.

“I think it’s a burden for the people living there to have to change everything,” said Village Board trustee Rick Montalto. “I don’t think it will generate any business.”

Other members of the board brought up a different way to look at the potential name change.

“I think we were more rural in nature, so (the name change could be) more familiar,” said Village Board trustee, Mari Johnson. “I don’t think we should put (the name change) off.”

Village President Sean Michels referenced a local highway as an example of how the name change could be successful.

“People out east refer to Route 38 as Lincoln Highway,” Michels said. “I think Sugar Grove Parkway will catch on. I think now would be a better time since it would affect less people. Five years from now, I don’t think people will question it.”

The Village Board will vote on the Route 47 name change at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 20.


Schuler to leave Kaneland

Will become Wheaton-Warrenville superintendent

KANELAND—Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler last week agreed to become the new superintendent of schools for the Wheaton-Warrenville School District.

Schuler, 42, a Plainfield resident, has worked in the Kaneland School District for eight years—the last four as superintendent. He previously served as an assistant superintendent for human resources and an associate superintendent.

Schuler said that Tuesday, Sept. 2, will be his first day at Wheaton-Warrenville. In the meantime, he will continue to serve as Kaneland superintendent.

Schuler recently had been named a finalist for the Wheaton-Warrenville job. He informed the Kaneland School Board that he would accept the invitation to become Wheaton-Warrenville’s superintendent of schools should the position be offered to him.

Schuler did not seek out the Wheaton-Warrenville position. Rather, he said that he received a call and was invited to interview with the district.

“The decision had nothing to do with Kaneland,” Schuler said. “Obviously Kaneland is a phenomenal school district and a great opportunity. Wheaton is bigger—there’s about 13,500 students, 20 schools. Candidly, it just was a really exceptional opportunity for me.”

Schuler’s salary as Kaneland superintendent is $194,000. His base salary at Wheaton-Warrenville School District will be $225,000.

Schuler reflected on what he was proud of while the Kaneland superintendent. His noted accomplishments include working to advance student achievement and expanding student opportunities at Kaneland High School. He also expressed admiration for the administration team, as well as the district’s instructional and support staff.

“Those are all things for which I’m exceptionally proud,” he said.

Kaneland School Board President Cheryl Krauspe recently weighed in on Schuler’s exit.

“I understand that it’s only natural when a young professional, as talented and recognized in the educational field as Dr. Schuler was, would be contacted by others who may wish to attract him as a candidate,” Krauspe said. “I was not surprised when I learned that he had risen to the level of finalist for the Wheaton position, because there is quite a lot that would impress the Wheaton-Warrenville community.”

The Kaneland School Board will now work to find its next district superintendent.

“The Board of Education will take these next important steps in a superintendent selection very carefully, thoroughly and thoughtfully,” Krauspe said.

Schuler expressed his confidence that the Kaneland schools are “ready to operate,” even though he will exit the district soon after its new school year begins on Wednesday, Aug. 20.

“I’m going to have the same feelings about leaving this position, whether it’s two weeks into the school year or the middle of the summer,” Schuler said. “I would feel the same way.”

Robert Ybarra of Montgomery can be seen patrolling the sidelines as Illinois High School Association football officials every Friday night.

Courtesy Photos

Upon further review: Experienced local IHSA officials take time to get it right

KANELAND—It could be that the best officiating crew in any high school sport is the one you barely notice.

That’s ironic, considering the countless officials that make up the Illinois High School Association landscape go through painstaking time and material to keep up with their particular sport.

Some of those officials can claim themselves part of the area, even though their trade takes them all over northern Illinois, and even to State finals.

IHSA football has seen the likes of Montgomery representative Robert Ybarra and former Elburn resident Ed Reier for a combined six decades of action.

Those gentleman that patrol the sidelines and keep 22 capable athletes in order on Friday nights go through offseason prep that rivals the intensity of teams like the Knights’ playbook study.

Ybarra, who has been tabbed to officiate two IHSA State football championship games, not only keeps up on the rules, but also passes on what he has learned in approved seminars and clinics.

“I was in Peoria last week and running a clinic and going to be in Forreston, Ill., on Aug. 9 to train and educate other officials. These IHSA-approved clinics give them the opportunity to learn,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra is sometimes asked to give nine different presentations at summer officiating clinics, dealing with aspects of football like the passing game, kicking game or penalties.

“When you’re asked to present to 100 people, you have to be an expert on these aspects of the game,” Ybarra said.

Being an expert goes a long way for the 23-year gridiron vet Ybarra, who earned spots in previous title games through a power rating system handed down by IHSA assessors.

“You get rated each game, and get points, and you attend rules clinics every summer which gets you points, as well,” Ybarra said.

There’s no magic to what Ybarra has been able to do leading into each season.

“You have to stay on top of the rules and communicate with your crew and the coaches and be prepared. You have to know the rules and have your philosophy and definition of penalties. There could be a game where it’s a 30-8 game, and talent and players enter into it the most, but another completely different crew could have their take on a rule and it’d end up being a different score,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra would like to see what other opportunities lay out there and work his way up one day.

“You need to join the Midwest Football Officiating Alliance, which puts you in with Division III games, and I’d like to work my way up to the Big Ten,” Ybarra said.

To appreciate Ybarra’s journey as a weekend warrior in black-and-white, just look at an early age.

“I would run around with my older brothers and I just wasn’t fast enough,” Ybarra said, “So, during football games they asked if I wanted to blow the whistle and that’s how it all began. There was an ad in the paper for an IHSA football clinic and I thought ‘why couldn’t I do that?’”

Reier, of Arlington Heights, Ill., but a recent decade-long resident of Elburn, has a little more experience and an eye for how the game has changed.

“The players are faster and stronger, and we have to keep up with them more,” Reier said. “We have to respond to that. As I age, it gets tougher.”

Reier, working for a landscaping company in Skokie, Ill., keeps going as an official like he has every year since the early 1980s.

“The thing is, these kids don’t age. We get older, and a different set of kids come in. But there are things I’ve improved at, like response time,” Reier said.

Reier’s expertise has brought him all over the northern half of the state.

“I’ve been all over. Recently, I’ve done games in Rockford, been out by Lincoln-Way, done games at Kaneland and gone all the way to Lake Forest,” Reier said.

Much like training camp that begins in under two weeks, Reier is preparing to get busy.

“We meet next week for an IHSA clinic to go over and review the rules again. There’s a lot that goes on. More and more teams are running the spread offense, and in the pre-game meeting, coaches will ask how we’ll rule a certain play,” Reier said.

Reier and his whistle-wearing brothers have goals that are similar to the kids wearing helmets: do their best every week.

“Our goal as a group is do our best week to week for the IHSA,” Reier said. “There’s nothing like a full stadium on a Friday night.”

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson has been at it for 40 years as part of the IHSA track and cross-country scene, at the front lines of the usual Kaneland staples like the Peterson Prep and Jill Holmes Invite.

“In the beginning, you didn’t have to belong to the IHSA officials group, but about 23 years ago, that became a prerequisite,” Anderson said.

Track is a sport that has more constant edges than others, but Anderson notices changes nonetheless.

“I think the safety procedures taken have really come into effect,” Anderson said. “I remember landing pits being sand or sawdust, and now they are cushioned.”

Anderson also thinks technology has impacted today’s track as much as any other sport.

“Before, it was just ear and the eye once they crossed the finish line, and now you have stop watches, chips and automatic time stop. It’s been positive,” Anderson said.

Also like other sports, Anderson and the other officials at huge meets need to keep up on the rules of the road, so to speak.

“The rulebook has definitely gotten thicker, but you have to keep up with it. The technology and the rules and structure of the meets have made things quicker, as well. That’s good for everyone, especially the fans,” Anderson said. “We go to a clinic once a year and get tested once a year.”

An official can see the best side of kids and the not-so-good side after wins and losses, but Anderson can vouch for the latest crop of kids in his field.

“The last two or three years, the kids have been great,” Anderson said. “Both the boys and girls side has been polite and respectful. It’s a constant sport and their demeanor is great when I speak to them.”

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson has been involved with Illinois High School Association track and field for 40 years, and can be found at Kaneland staples including the Peterson Prep and Jill Holmes Invite.                       File Photos
Elburn Village President Dave Anderson has been involved with Illinois High School Association track and field for 40 years, and can be found at Kaneland staples including the Peterson Prep and Jill Holmes Invite. File Photos

D302: Superintendent Schuler leaves for D200

The Kaneland School District announced the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler effective Sept. 2, 2014.

At a special meeting Monday, the Wheaton Warrenville Community Unit School District 200 voted in favor of hiring the Kaneland superintendent.

In a press release release, D302 Board President Cheryl Krauspe said the District is sad to see Schuler leave Kaneland, but recognized the reasons he was sought after as well as the professional opportunity the new position presents. “We are proud of our accomplishments under Dr. Schuler’s four years of educational leadership,” she said. “He is leaving us in a good position. We believe that the strong leadership team built by Dr. Schuler, in partnership with the Board of Education, and our strong committed staff will ensure that our strategic focus remains steadfast – to continue inspiring excellence for all students as we graduate them college, career and community ready. We will continue to move forward.”

Schuler was selected by the D200 board following an extensive interview process.

“We were very fortunate to have several highly qualified candidates apply for the position,” D200 Board President Barbara Intihar said. “Of all the candidates, Dr. Schuler’s proven ability to connect with the community, promote student learning, and build instructional leadership within the staff – all recommendations of the ENGAGE 200 initiative – stood out most clearly. Those qualities, plus his experience navigating fiscal and operational challenges in a complex unit school district, led us to choose him as our next superintendent. We welcome him to District 200, and we look forward to a long professional relationship with him.”

The Elburn Herald will have more on this story in our Thursday, Aug. 7 edition.


D302 Press Release >>

D200 Press Release >>

Video from D302:

School Board approves 2014-15 tentative budget

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday agreed to the 2014-15 school year tentative budget.

School Board trustee Tony Valente was the lone “no” vote. Kaneland School Board President Cheryl Krauspe was absent from the meeting.

Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for Business, reviewed the tentative budget during the meeting. According to the report, the tentative budget totals $66.5 million. The Education Fund has a projected deficit of $3 million.

Two funds have surpluses, including the Operations and Maintenance Fund at $115,000 and the Transportation Fund at $1.9 million.

A big chunk of the budget is funded from property taxes that were levied last December. The only two board members who consistently voted against the tax increase were Valente and Pedro Rivas.

Fuchs pointed out that transferring money to the Education Fund isn’t currently necessary. However, she added that a transfer might be needed next school year. She explained that if equalized assessed value (EAV) goes up, the ability to levy is greater; if the EAV is the same or lower, that means a larger transfer is needed next year.

“This year, you’re fine,” she said to the board.

Valente called the idea of transferring funds to go into the Education Fund “backdoor-ish.”

“To me, it is not only unethical, it’s despicable,” he said.

Valente added that the law was broken from a “moral perspective.”

School Board member Peter Lopatin weighed in on the issue of transferring money from the Transportation Fund.

“I don’t believe that there’s an intentional sleight of hand here,” he said.

Fuchs said that the legislature has recognized the need to transfer money and has extended the ability to do so through 2016.

“We’re not alone,” she said.

Fuchs said that it would not be legal to have a referendum.

“We can’t go out because we’re so far out in debt,” she said, noting that the district has about $189 million in debt.

There will be a public hearing on this budget at the Sept. 8 School Board meeting. The board will take a vote on the budget.


A look to the future

In the final installment of its three-part series, the Elburn Herald takes a look at the projects set to define the future of Sugar Grove

Big-dollar infrastructure projects are the basis of the future Village President Sean Michels envisions for Sugar Grove, which he hopes will become a destination community rather than a commuter community.

The list of projects is ambitious—a full I-88 interchange at Route 47, a new data center, fiber optic cables, expansion of the park district’s facilities, new police and fire stations, and even a potential Metra station—and all are aimed at making Sugar Grove a more attractive place for businesses and residents alike.

“Hopefully, we’d see the expansion of our business park so that Sugar Grove is more of a destination community as opposed to a commuter community,” Michels said. “Just bringing in opportunities for employment, that’s really where we think the interchange will be critical, because it opens up a vast amount of property that is ideal for development, basically Route 47 east to Bliss Road. The fact that we’d have ramps in both directions, and we have a good community college that provides a good workforce, and we have the water and sewer capacity … the big result is that you have people working close to home, and it also diversifies your tax base so that residents don’t have to shoulder it all.”

Sugar Grove is seeking to capitalize on its location, Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said, which is one of the best in the far-western suburbs.

“I think the thing about Sugar Grove that is the same whether (the economy) is booming or not booming is our location. It gets back to location, location, location,” Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said. “While we certainly don’t have a Metra station (yet) and that’s a long way off, our access to I-88 is great. That’s one of the things our existing residents love about it, the access that Sugar Grove has. As soon as you get a little bit to the north or south, you start adding 15, 20 minutes before you can even get to the tollway.”

Within five years, Michels expects to see the completion of a full I-88 interchange at Route 47. Financing is already in place, he said, but the Illinois Department of Transportation has to sign off on the engineering agreement before construction can start. Phase I engineering should be done in two years or less, Michels said.

“We anticipate it will promote a variety of different developments, both residential and commercial, on the north side,” Michels said.

The interchange will cost between $20 million and $32 million to build. Sugar Grove and Kane County will contribute $3 million of that money—how to split that amount is still under discussion—and the remainder will come from the tollway and the state.

“There’s not a firm date (for completion) right now, but a reasonable time table will be around 2018,” Eichelberger said. “Obviously, we hope it moves as quick as it can, but I think that’s a fair target. It could be 2017, or if there are unforeseen circumstances, 2019.”

Michels foresees the interchange bringing more retail development and growth to Sugar Grove, and the village is working to put infrastructure in place to make it attractive to businesses, including a potential new data center and fiber optic cable line to provide high-speed Internet capacity.

A fiber optic line already goes to Harter Middle School and the Sugar Grove Public Library, and the village is working with both to extend that cable to the village hall and elementary school.

“We’re hoping to get a sizeable grant to bring that in next year, and we hope (the fiber optic cables) will bring in more businesses,” Michels said.

Fiber optics would allow businesses to move large quantities of data, Michels said. As an example, it would allow medical facilities like the new Cadence Health to send CAT scans and MRIs for remote viewing by specialists at other facilities, he said. Having that capacity is important for attracting businesses to the area.

“We hope to get a data center up by I-88, and we have redundant sources of power, so we’d have very high voltage electric,” Michels said.

Within 15 to 20 years, Police Chief Pat Rollins expects that a new Police Department building will be constructed—something that has been long delayed. Land at the northwest corner of Route 30 and Municipal Drive, across from the Fire Department, was purchased before the recession and architectural drawings created, but the plan stalled when the economy did.

Though the village is moving its administrative and finance departments to 140 S. Municipal Drive this fall to give the Police Department room to expand, that fix is temporary, Rollins said.

“Eventually, when there’s the opportunity in the village, we’ll look at the architectural drawings and see what can be done,” Rollins said.

Other village services plan future expansions, as well.

The village’s transportation plan, provided by Director of Public Works Anthony Speciale, suggests that two to four more fire stations should be built. Land for a second fire station has already been purchased by the village—a 2.5 acre plot at 650 Denny Road—but construction was put on hold by the recession. A third station would potentially be located in the southeast section of Sugar Grove.

New Sugar Grove Park District facilities are already in the works. The Park District received a $400,000 grant last year to transform open space near Harter Middle School into a community park with sports fields and a playground, and it’s also in the process of acquiring more land, including a parcel near the Aurora Airport and another on Wheeler Road in Aurora, which Sugar Grove would have to annex.

“We’re taking small strides, but we’re always trying to improve our bike trails and pedestrian trails for people. In our community surveys, that’s always an important goal of our residents, to have places to get outside. It’s a way for people to escape and put their troubles behind,” Michels said.

Within 20 years, Michels hopes to see the extension of the Burlington Northern rail line from Aurora to Sugar Grove. The village has already identified a 20-acre parcel along the Burlington Northern railway, west of the proposed Municipal Drive extension, as the ideal location for a station.

It’s an ambitious goal, and whether the line will ultimately be extended to Sugar Grove is uncertain. The project is still in the discussion phase, Michels said, and Kendall County is also lobbying the Regional Transportation Authority to have the line extended there.

“Financing, the big things, still have to take place,” Michels said. “They would have to add a third rail through downtown Aurora, and they’d have to send a second rail west. There’s a spur by the Fox Valley Park District office. We’ve been talking to our Metra rep and our RTA rep to promote this. The complicating factor is that Kendall County wants to have Metra expanded there, primarily into Oswego and Yorkville, but they aren’t part of the RTA tax.”

Many of these projects are fueled by—and hinge on—official projections that Sugar Grove’s population is going to explode. Projections from the Northern Illinois Planning Commission predict that Sugar Grove’s population will increase to 62,742 people by 2030, a nearly 600 percent increase in just 16 years.

Yet Eichelberger said he believes the pace of growth will be more moderate than that.

“We did long-term population projections, and at one point in time, there was a projection of 60,000 residents ultimately,” he said. “It really gets back into a question of time frame. If we want to talk 50 years, 100 years, those numbers seem arguably realistic. If you just look at land area and assume a kind of typical development plan, yeah, people start talking about populations of 40, 50, 60,000 or more. But in the next five to 10 years? Certainly not that. In our last census (in 2010), we were right around 9,000 people, and in 2014 those numbers haven’t changed much at all. By 2020, if we have 50 homes a year, you’re only talking another 750 people. It wouldn’t be crazy to say 1,500 people if housing starts to pick up a little.”

Four housing developments in Sugar Grove stalled following the 2008 collapse of the housing market, and building is just starting to resume, Eichelberger said. The village issued permits for 25 new homes in 2013 and projects “about the same” for 2014.

One of the stalled subdivisions, Prairie Glen, was purchased by Orleans Homes last year and has resumed building. Another, Hannaford Farms, was just recently purchased from the bank by a new developer and should resume building soon. Meadow Ridge Villas, an age-restricted housing development for those 55 years of age and older, will put up models this fall.

But the biggest of the developments, Settler’s Ridge, has been purchased from the original developer by a bond company that hasn’t completed the required public improvements. The village has been tied up in a lawsuit for three years with the bond company.

Eichelberger said that though the village is confident it will win the suit, it doesn’t expect the suit to be resolved until 2016—and then the public improvements will have to be finished before construction can resume.

“So much of it really depends on the overall economy and what that does to the housing market,” Eichelberger said. “We’re going to see some of the growth, but it’s a bigger question of how much. Maybe 200, 300 permits (for new houses) a year over time.”

The Village Board isn’t rushing development, Eichelberger said.

“The board has really held to their standards of what they wanted, residential and commercial,” Eichelberger said. “They aren’t going to do something just to get the growth.”


Parson named Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year

SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Fire Marshal Wayne Parson was honored and celebrated as the Sugar Grove 2014 Citizen of the Year during Corn Boil opening ceremonies on Friday.

Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels spoke about Parson’s reliability and work ethic during the opening ceremony of the Corn Boil. Michels also mentioned Parson’s loyalty to his job and ability to find solutions to problems.

“He’s always in his uniform,” Michels said. “He reviews plans for us. He does a world of good for the village. Wayne Parson is our fire marshal in Sugar Grove, and he is our Citizen of the Year. He has a great personality and is happy to help in any way he can. He doesn’t find problems; he finds solutions.”

Parson has worked for the Sugar Grove Fire Department for 42 years, and has called Sugar Grove home for the past 47 years. He is currently the Fire Department’s assistant chief, as well.

Parson has searched out ways to help others and dedicated his life to positively impacting other people his whole life. Sugar Grove Chamber President Steve Ekker was present at the ceremony and recanted a brief story about Parson.

“People tend to put an “s” at the end of Wayne’s last name,” Ekker said. “Wayne once told me, ‘Think of what it would be like if there were two of me!’ “I told Wayne, ‘We would be doubly blessed.’”

Over the course of Parson’s time in Sugar Grove, he has been involved with Sugar Grove baseball organizations, the Historical Society, the American Legion, the Lions Club, the Corn Boil, the Boy Scouts and many other groups.

Woodworking is a big hobby for Parson.

“I have a woodshop where I do a lot of woodworking in my free time,” Parson said. “I make shelves, cabinets and all kinds of things, including yard art for decorations and for Christmas.”

Parson helps with Corn Boil every year, too.

“Wayne helps me every year with the bike parade, along with the Fire Department,” said Karen McCannon, who is also known as Sugar Grove’s JoJo the Clown.

People from all over the community embraced Parson and congratulated him on being named the Citizen of the Year. He received many congratulations and kind words Friday night, and explained that he was honored to receive the award.

“It’s quite an honor,” Parson said. “If you look at the list of people who have won this award, it’s quite an elite group of people here in Sugar Grove.”


Campaign encourages residents to ‘Shop Elburn First’

ELBURN—The Elburn Economic Development Commission is working on a “Shop Elburn First” campaign to encourage residents to spend their money in town and “break the habit” of heading to Randall Road to shop.

Commission members, made up of business owners and representatives, said they want to appeal to citizens’ civic pride to support the existing businesses in town.

“If you want all these things in your town, you’ve got to use them,” said Patrick Leach, president of Control Plus, Inc., at the commission’s meeting on Monday.

The commission would use banners, window decals, newspaper ads, shopping bags and more to create public awareness of the goods and services offered in Elburn.

“When they’re pulling out of their driveway, we want them to think about going to Elburn instead of driving east,” Leach said.

Elburn Chamber of Commerce member Ben Westfall, who attended the meeting at the commission’s request, pointed out some problems he saw with the Shop Elburn First campaign.

He shared with the group lists he had come up with of items people could find in Elburn, as well as those they would not.

The list of things they could not find in Elburn was longer than the list of what they could.

“People are already shopping in Elburn,” he said. “There’s just not that much available.”

The commission, created by the village in November 2013, has the mission to “assist in the attraction, retention, maintenance and revitalization of economic and community growth within the village.”

The group’s short-term goals, in addition to the Shop Elburn First idea, are to attract businesses to the empty spaces in town, such as a florist, specialty food stores and others; form a group of volunteers to help with clean-up, landscaping, painting and basic repair of the downtown area; and bring back a farmers market.

Longer-term goals include downtown beautification and pushing for better parking in the downtown area.

In order to accomplish these and other goals, members said they would need a budget, something the group currently does not have.

“If you don’t have a budget, you’re not going to go anywhere,” said Joe Kryszak, president of JDW Institutional Paper and an active member of the Elburn Lions Club.

The group discussed ways of raising money, including asking the village for a small budget, as well as approaching the chamber, the Lions Club and local businesses for assistance.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said that because the village has a limited budget, the board must “pick and choose” what it is able to do.

“I can’t tell you we have money to spend; we don’t,” Willrett said.

One of the ways the group discussed saving money on the Shop Elburn First campaign, as well as to generate interest, is to hold a contest to create a logo for the campaign.
The group plans to attend the Aug. 4 Village Board meeting to ask for the village’s financial support.

Kaneland High School 2014-15 information

KANELAND—The following information is in regard to Kaneland High School’s upcoming 2014-15 school year.

School fees: School fees must be paid or postmarked by Wednesday, Aug. 20. Office hours on Aug. 20 are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Checks should be made payable to Kaneland District 302. Call the school office at (630) 365-5100, ext. 206, if you need to arrange a payment plan.

Freshman orientation: Orientation is Tuesday, Aug. 12, from 1 to 4 p.m. You will have an opportunity to find lockers and run through a practice schedule.

Start of school: Kaneland High School will begin a full day of classes on Wednesday, Aug. 20. The school day will begin at 7:35 a.m. Students should have paper and pen/pencils with them on the first day of school. Teachers will instruct students what the school supply requirements will be for that particular class. Hot lunch and a la carte lunch items will be served.

Student parking: Parking fees for the 2014-15 school year will be $180; daily parking will be $4. Seniors may reserve parking spots by coming to the High School office between Monday, Aug. 11, and Friday, Aug. 15, between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Junior may reserve parking spots by coming to the High School office anytime between Aug. 14 and Aug. 15, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Parking tags will not be sold prior to Aug. 11. The Parking Hang Tag Request form is available on the Kaneland High School webpage under “Documents—School Documents.”

Schedules: Students schedules will be available online by Aug. 11. The student’s locker number and combination will also be available on Konnect. Counselor assignments for the 2014-15 school year are Special Services—Ms. Beck, A-D—Ms. Shore, E-K—Ms. Lamica, L-RI—Mr. Franklin, RJ-Z—Ms. Mecic.

Bus routes: Transportation information will be posted for all K-12 students in Konnect after Aug. 14 regarding pick-up and drop-off times. The transportation information is updated twice daily. At the start of the school year, you will want to view it the night before school starts to ensure there have not been any changes to your child’s route.

Lunch accounts: The school has a computerized “debit” payment system that allows it to accomplish several important things that are of benefit to you and the students. Time in line at lunch is reduced, and all purchases are logged so parents can inquire what food items their child has purchased. Students may give a check (payable to Kaneland High School) or cash to the cashier. A check for multiple students must be given to the receptionist in the High School Office, with the memo line indicating how much should be credited to each student’s account. You may also visit the webstore at www.kaneland.org to pay with credit card. Students need to have their ID to purchase lunch.

Picture days: Picture days for underclassmen will take place Aug. 26-27 at the High School. Look for picture forms to be coming home in the mail from HR Imaging. Seniors will be photographed for their ID cards. Senior should call Root Studios at (800) 433-1766 if they have not yet scheduled their senior portrait sitting for the yearbook.

Open House: The faculty and staff of Kaneland High School invite all parents to attend the Parent Open House program on Wednesday, Sept. 3. The purpose of this program is to provide parents with the opportunity to meet their child’s first-semester teachers and become familiar with the curriculum by following an abbreviated version of their child’s schedule. The program will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m., with a general welcome meeting in the auditorium.

Voter registration: All parents and residents of the Kaneland District are encouraged to register to vote. You can register at any of the schools in the district on school days between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Newsletter: Kaneland High School publishes a bi-monthly parent newsletter that is posted and available on the High School website. If you do not have Internet access and would like to receive the newsletter by U.S. Mail, call (630) 365-5100, ext. 204.


Young entrepreneur Carlson takes on odd jobs

ELBURN—Got a job that needs doing but you don’t have the time, the energy or the right tools? It’s a good bet that Cole’s Odd Jobs has all of the above to complete that job.

Recent Kaneland High School graduate Cole Carlson said he started his Cole’s Odd Jobs business as a high school sophomore, but kicked it into high gear this summer. He has a number of friends ready, willing and able to help him get jobs, big or small, done in a timely manner.

“This summer, my mom helped me start a Facebook page, but our best advertising is word-of-mouth and referrals,” Carlson said. “I always give a client five or six business cards and ask them to tell their friends about us.”

One client who does just that is Teresa Keenan of Stone Tower Properties in Geneva. Not only does Keenan employ Carlson’s crew for work around her own home, she has them working at properties she has listed for sale.

“Initially, they moved some heavy furniture for me; nothing got scratched, broken or damaged in any way,” Keenan said. “Since then, they’ve cut grass, done edging and weeding, cleaned up vacant properties.

“They are super-responsible and reasonably priced,” she said. “We rave about them. I give them a checklist and they let me know when it’s done.”

Campton Hills resident Tom Gancer echoed Keenan’s sentiments.

“They did a bunch of landscaping for us,” Gancer said. “They work hard, and you definitely get your money’s worth.”

Keenan said she likes the fact that a young businessman is learning valuable skills like time management and budgeting.

A high school football player, Carlson is planning to attend the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to play collegiately and study civil engineering. His clients needn’t worry, though—Carlson said his younger brother, Chase, will continue in his footsteps. Along with his brother, Cole has recruited several friends to help with his business, including Tyler Slamans, Drew David, Jaumaureo Phillips, Kevin Dawrant and Brady Feece.

For more information, find Cole’s Odd Jobs on Facebook, or call him at (630) 258-4144.

New look for NIB-12

Streamlined look
triggers after
year of preparation

KANELAND—Beginning with the upcoming 2014-15 school year, Kaneland’s home of the Northern Illinois Big XII will have officially outlasted its previous stop of the Western Sun Conference.

In year five, the conference is putting some remodeling into effect, after a year of planning.

Due to factors like decreasing enrollment, the conference’s West Division lost both Dixon to the Big Northern Conference and Streator to the Interstate Eight Conference.

“Dixon and Streator thought they had to do what they had to do, and you respect that,” said Kaneland athletic director Peter Goff. “I’ve been to one AD meeting, and there is no serious talk about adding anybody else. Maybe there will be some talk later.”

The move, after a meeting of conference principals in March 2013, left an imbalance of the East and West divisions. Rochelle moving to the West provides balance for the ensuing school years. The conference athletic directors had previously met earlier that month.

The East now consists of DeKalb, Kaneland, Morris, Sycamore and Yorkville, while the West is comprised of Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Rochelle and Sterling.

“When I was in the NCIC with Sterling, we lost Rochelle,” Goff said. “People leave and you make adjustments. We got them back here. I think it’s a very solid conference, both East and West.”

While affecting the football scene fiercely, with schools like Kaneland beginning the 2014 football campaign with three non-conference games and ending with two crossover games, the moves affect other sports to varying degrees.

Second-year volleyball coach Kerri McCastland won’t see her crew’s routine changed much, as Dixon and Streator were not scheduled as two of the West crossover matches anyway. Regular conference tussles still take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Last year, we had Rochelle, and we had L-P. That was great to face a State qualifier. This year, we have Sterling and Ottawa. This will be great to go to a different way. Sterling comes here, and it’ll be a great awareness for them to check us out. But, it doesn’t matter to me,” McCastland said.

“In this case, it’ll be better for how much land we have to try to cover for a conference match. I think it probably frees up your ability to play other schools for non-conference. You get a different flavor somewhere else,” McCastland said.

On the other side of the NIB-12 wall, outgoing conference president Greg King, of Sterling, has had time to sit with the decision and is comfortable.

“The only challenge will be looking for other teams who would like to join,” King said. “This is an excellent conference.”

King, who vacated the rotating president’s chair to Ottawa’s Mike Cooper, likes the stability of 10 teams, but would like the conference to expand eventually.

“This is a great football conference, more playoff teams in the East, but it’d be tough looking for wins, and right now, that’s the challenge,” King said.

Sports like boys cross country will have a different look, even though the sport competes in a unified meet come October’s conference championship.

“We lose three all-conference spots; Dixon filled three of them. You have to finish in the top 18. We lose a lot of quality people from those two schools. I’ve liked my dealings with them,” Clarey said.

Clarey said he feels that despite the loss of perennial contender Dixon from the ranks, there will be an air of normalcy during most of the season.

“I would never guess how the other sports are affected. We only see the other side once out at the conference meet. Dixon was a perennial tough opponent, and Streator was a program in flux. It’s definitely a hit to the talent, but there are still good programs here,” Clarey said.

In the 10-team enrollment picture, DeKalb sits as the largest school at 1,638 students, while Geneseo replaces Dixon as the smallest school at 832.

Rev. Perfecto Vasquez

Maple Park church welcomes Rev. Vasquez

MAPLE PARK—St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Maple Park has a new spiritual leader in the Rev. Perfecto Vasquez.

Vasquez took the helm on July 1, and was installed formally on Wednesday by Bishop David J. Malloy. He also pastors SS. Peter and Paul in Virgil.

Vasquez replaces the Rev. Dennis Morrissy, who has moved to St. Mary in Elizabeth, Ill., and St. John the Evangelist in Hanover, Ill.

Vasquez emigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1969, and joined the Rockford Diocese in 1998.

Coming to the priesthood after earning a master’s degree in transportation engineering and working in transportation for the city of Chicago, Vasquez said he believed he could better serve his fellow man in the church.

“I realized there is a need to work in the church to help people,” Vasquez said. “I thought I could better serve the community by being a minister. Instead of doing transportation planning here on Earth, I thought I could help transport people to God’s kingdom.”

At the Maple Park church just shy of three years, Morrissy said there was an urgent need prompting his move.

“It just depends on the needs of the church at any given time,” Morrissy said. “The issue is, we need more priests. If we had more, we wouldn’t need to move as often.”

Morrissy said the communities of Elizabeth and Hanover are about eight miles apart, and combined have about the same number of families as the Maple Park church.

For more information about St. Mary of the Assumption, at 123 S. County Line Road in Maple Park, visit www.stmarymaplepark.org.


Sugar Grove ‘on the cusp’ for growth

In part two of its three-part series, the Elburn Herald takes a look at the current state of Sugar Grove, and the individuals set to lead the village into the future

SUGAR GROVE—When Sugar Grove Village Board member Mari Johnson and her husband Kevin came to Sugar Grove in 1987, the population was less than 3,000. There were regular community events, salad luncheons through the Methodist Church, the Fire Department’s annual pancake supper, as well as the Sugar Grove Corn Boil.

“It was everything you would expect in a small town,” she said.

Mari and Kevin liked what they saw. There were opportunities to volunteer, and ways to get involved as much or as little as you wanted. Many of the people they met during that time were also new to the community.

“You literally knew almost everyone in town,” she said. “We knew it was a place we could stay, a place where you could make a difference.”

SG_5K She and her husband jumped in with both feet. They started attending the Sugar Grove Community Club meetings, and soon were helping out with the Corn Boil for the coming year.

Through their children’s involvement in sports, they got involved with the Sugar Grove Baseball Association. Kevin started coaching with the T-ball team, and began helping out with the annual 5k run. Eventually he would serve on the Park District Board.

Mari was elected to the Village Board, where she will soon celebrate 20 years as a village trustee.

“I love it here,” she said. “I’m so glad we came to Sugar Grove.”

Sugar Grove recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the village’s incorporation. The “old timers” scheduled their reunion to coincide with the celebration, and Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels addressed the group.

“This is a great attendance,” Michels said. “If I can just say two words, ‘Thank you.’”

Michels told the group that the decisions they had made 50 or more years ago set the tone for the ones that are made today. He said it made him proud to represent the village of Sugar Grove. He added that he and others are trying to do things today that will make the residents proud 50 years from today.

“It’s a testament that a number of kids that I graduated with have moved back here,” he said.

Michels, a Village Board trustee in 1997, was elected to the position of village president in 2001. He lives in Sugar Grove with his wife Valerie and their four children.

Sugar Grove has seen significant growth since the turn of the century. In just the 10 years between 2000 (census 3,936) and 2010 (census 8,997), the village has more than doubled.

Although growth came to a standstill after the economy took a nosedive in 2008, things are beginning to move again.

According to Michels, Sugar Grove is once again poised for growth.

“Sugar Grove is right on the cusp, to transition from a small town to a medium-sized community,” Michels said.

Johnson’s questions, similar to those many Sugar Grove residents are asking, is “How much growth is good?” and “How big can the village get, and yet retain that close-knit feeling?”

“It gets harder and harder to do,” she said. “The village is more spread out, there are more people, there’s more going on. It’s kind of a balancing act.”

Johnson said that there have been a number of positive additions to the town in the past 10 years or so. Jewel-Osco and Aldi coming to town has been “huge,” she said.

“Now people spend most of their food dollars here in town,” she said. “That’s really important.”

McDonald’s coming to town was also a big deal, especially to the younger residents.

Michels likes to tell the story that when he would teach Junior Achievement at the Kaneland John Shields Elementary School, the most-asked question he got from the students was, “When are we going to get a McDonald’s?”

“We tried for years (to get McDonald’s to come to Sugar Grove),” Johnson said.

She said that McDonald’s had looked at four different sites over the span of 15 years before they finally decided to build in Sugar Grove.

“Demographics are so important,” she said. “It’s all a numbers game. Now the owners tell me it’s the busiest place they have.”

Residential growth is also beginning to move forward again. Construction in the Prairie Glen subdivision across Route 30 from the airport, which had come to a halt during the downturn, is once again seeing new homes go up. There are also plans in the works for senior and assisted living apartments, so that as people get older, they can stay in the community.

Sugar Grove will soon have its own Ace Hardware store, also a huge milestone for the town.

Johnson said she is proud of the way the village has managed development, making the improvements to the infrastructure, including water quality and the sewer system, that are necessary to support growth.

Village officials also created architectural requirements for development, so they could hold developers to high standards for buildings.

“We wanted to make sure that what was built was something the village could be proud of, something that would stand the test of time,” she said. “It’s a good feeling.”

Millie Molitor, who moved to town in 2002, said Sugar Grove still feels like a small town to her. She knows a lot of people in her neighborhood of Windsor Pointe, and she feels there is a sense of community there.

In addition, she said she has met many great people through her pet-sitting business.

“It’s a great community,” she said. “I’ve met some incredibly wonderful people. It seems that when there is someone who needs something, so many people rally together. It’s quite amazing.”

In the time since she and her husband have been here, she said she has seen a lot of changes for the good. The road improvements, such as Galena Boulevard and Municipal Drive, have been a positive thing for business growth, and she said that the village is looking at other ways to bring more businesses to town.

Residents do feel that they have a stake in the game, and are not afraid to make their opinions known. Several years ago, when Raging Waves was considering locating its water park in Sugar Grove, the Windsor Pointe community came out in force. After 13 hours of public comment, mostly against the water park locating across the street from the subdivision, Raging Waves decided to set up shop in Yorkville instead.

Molitor feels that Sugar Grove is growing at a good pace without overdoing it.

“Everybody wants the tax relief, but nobody wants to be another Randall Road,” she said.

Community involvement continues to be a hallmark of everyday life in Sugar Grove.

Sugar Grove resident Mary Ochsenschlager, after a lifetime of advocating for environmentally sensitive growth through her position on the Kane County Plan Commission and educating the general public through her work with the St. Charles Park District as its first naturalist, is focusing her talents and energy closer to home.

Ochsenschlager leads monthly workdays in Bliss Woods, where she and other volunteers work to clear out invasive plant species such as buckthorn and garlic mustard that are threatening to crowd out the area’s native wildflowers and woodland grasses.

According to Ochsenschlager, Bliss Woods is one of the finest remaining remnants of Kane County’s natural forests.

“This ecosystem serves as the home to native birds, butterflies and other mammals, many of which people never see and do not even know that they should care about them,” Ochsenschlager said. “It’s a living museum.”

She said the workdays are an opportunity for rigorous exercise, a chance to meet others who share the love of nature, while she and others are helping to maintain an area with an interesting natural, cultural and geological history.

She has also joined the Sugar Grove Park District Board, where she contributes her time and talents.

Karen McCannon, who moved to Sugar Grove to join her husband many years ago, said that she had to learn about volunteerism from her husband’s family.

McCannon, along with many other ways of contributing to her community, was one of the women who created and distributed a local newspaper beginning in the 1970s.

McCannon as "JoJo" (in yellow)
McCannon as “JoJo” (in yellow)
More recently, McCannon has taken her volunteering in a particularly joyous direction: she went to clown school and became a clown. Jo-Jo, as she calls herself, has brought her clown ministry to her work with the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church, as well as spending many Saturday mornings making children laugh and painting their faces at the Sugar Grove Farmer’s Market.

Jo-Jo’s legacy also includes, together with her grandchildren, leading a bicycle parade for the Fourth of July. Her “Clown Victoria,” a golf cart decked out in red, white and blue, has become a staple for the Fourth of July in Sugar Grove. Her granddaughters, Alyssa and Sammi, whose idea it was for the parade in the first place, are accepting the baton to carry on as Jo-Jo’s health concerns make it difficult for her to continue.

Together with McCannon, her grandchildren are also regulars at the Between Friends Food Pantry, created by Melisa Taylor, another Sugar Grove leader and volunteer.

Taylor’s children, Madison and Danielle, are also at the forefront of her work with the food pantry. They came up with the idea for the food pantry after some very successful food and clothing drives in several Sugar Grove neighborhoods. The food pantry has taken off since its inception in 2009, with many neighborhood people, as well as businesses, volunteering and making contributions.

Although Sugar Grove has grown, it’s clear that volunteerism is not only alive and well, but is also being carried on by the children.

“Volunteerism is what builds community,” Oschenschlager said. “People who volunteer are invested in their community.”


Kaneland grad publishes first novel

CRYSTAL LAKE, ILL.—Peter Gallanis, a 1980 Kaneland High School graduate, remembers the moment he knew he wanted to become a writer.

It happened while he was sitting in then-KHS teacher Laurie Erdmann’s journalism class.

Gallanis went on to take classes at Waubonsee Community College, the Loop College and Northern Illinois University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. After finishing his education, Gallanis worked for various newspapers in the Chicago area, including the Chicago Tribune.

“I have great memories of my high school years at Kaneland,” said Gallanis, who served as editorial page editor of the KHS newspaper during his senior year and was involved in school plays, cross country, track and wrestling.

In terms of writing inspiration, Gallanis said he became fascinated with the 1993 Brown’s Chicken Massacre, in which seven people were killed during a robbery at the Palatine, Ill., store location.

After a series of calendar-related coincidences, fascination turned to obsession and eventually led to the publication of Gallanis’ first novel, “The Reporter: Part 1—Rise and Fall.”

A fictionalized account of the Brown’s Chicken case and some of the people surrounding it, Gallanis’ tale is one of unrequited love, murder and betrayal that threaten to undo an ambitious, young reporter covering the story that could make his career.

“I had the distinct feeling someone was trying to tell me something,” Gallanis said of the process that went into writing the book. “I believe it’s God’s will that I tell this story.”

Weaving his story around the facts of the Brown’s case, Gallanis created characters based on people he’s known, including the real-life sister of one of the victims.

Gallanis saw the sister of one of the Brown’s Chicken Massacre victims in a TV interview and was impressed with her composure in the face of the horrific crime. Not long after that, he met the young woman—she happened to be a friend of the woman who is now his wife.

“My story, in part, is about a young woman who would volunteer to ‘throw the switch’ (enact the death penalty), and then comes back to ask for mercy for her brother’s murderer,” Gallanis said. “I was moved by her compassion.”

Originally conceived as one novel, Gallanis said it got too long so he split the story into two books. He said he is putting the final touches on book two.

Gallanis said many of his characters are based on people he knows. While his protagonist, Nic, shares some of his own background, Gallanis said the primary similarity is their Greek heritage.

“Nic is a combination of James Dean, Bob Woodward, Michael Corleone and Hawkeye Pierce,” he said. “He’s a figment of my imagination, but I wanted to pay homage to my Greek culture more than insert my own personality.”

Published by Abuzz Press in Bradenton, Fla., “The Reporter: Part 1 – Rise and Fall” is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions. Gallanis can be found on Facebook, where he also has created a page for the fictional Palatine Star newspaper.

photo 2

Zero Edge, PetSmart donate tank to Delnor

ELBURN—A 180-gallon aquarium from Zero Edge Aquariums in Elburn is now easing the anxieties of sick children at the Lurie Children’s Outpatient Center, part of Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva.

“For pediatric patients, for the kids who come in, it’s often a traumatic situation, so in a lot of ways an aquarium is a distraction,” said Christopher King, spokesperson for Cadence Health. “It’s something comforting, and it just kind of eases the anxiety of being at a hospital.”

The tank, which was installed in the outpatient center’s waiting room on June 21, was presented to Delnor by PetSmart, as part of the PetSmart Gives Back program.

Brian Travilla, PetSmart’s district manager for the region, said that each district does one project a year to give back to the community.

“We have a very strong belief at PetSmart that pets inspire us and make us better people,” Travilla said. “I think big corporations should really work to enrich people’s lives locally, and it’s a wonderful feeling as a district manager to do something to help kids.”

The project was the brainchild of Nathan Brooks, the manager of PetSmart’s Bloomingdale, Ill., store. Brooks suggested the idea and did all the groundwork with Zero Edge and Delnor, Travilla said.

“We feel strongly that when kids go in for treatment and can interact with fish, it calms them down,” Travilla said. “We were fortunate enough to work with Zero Edge to give them a great fish tank. The walks in the children’s wing are decorated with an aquatic theme, with waves and sea turtles painted on the walls. So the tank was a perfect fit.”

PetSmart chose Elburn-based Zero Edge Aquariums to create the aquarium because of a belief in supporting local businesses, Travilla said.

Zero Edge is known for producing high-end rimless, overflowing aquariums that have been purchased by celebrities such as Pitbull, a Miami-based rapper, and even Queen Sirikit of Thailand. But the company also produces a variety of standard aquariums and custom aquariums. Delnor representatives chose the kind of aquarium they wanted, said Aaron Sinclair, director of sales and marketing at Zero Edge, and selected a 180-gallon rectangular aquarium, as well as white cabinetry to house the aquarium.

The aquarium was formally presented to Delnor Hospital at a ceremony on June 25, Sinclair said, and a check for $5,000 was given to the president of the hospital. Several physicians from the pediatric unit attended to thank PetSmart and Zero Edge for the aquarium.

The $5,000 donation covered the cost of the aquarium, the cabinetry, a filtration system, and the tropical fish now living in it, Travilla said.

“It’s a great donation, and I think it’s one that shows the importance of working with the community and the importance of giving back,” King said. “Most importantly, the kids will be able to experience it. That’s the real value—the warm environment that the tank creates.”

Zero Edge Aquariums is located at 810 E. North St. in Elburn. For more information, visit zeroedgeaquarium.com.

Electricity rates increase, but less than with Com Ed

ELBURN—Elburn residents will see an increase in their electric bill in September, but those in the village’s aggregate program will still pay less than if their contract was with Commonwealth Edison.

According to a press release from Village Administrator Erin Willrett, increased prices from energy suppliers is due to a large increase in capacity charges, which all suppliers must pay to ensure they can meet demand, a rise in cost for the actual power, due to the winter’s “polar vortex,” as well as a huge drawdown of the nation’s natural gas supplies, a large component of electric generation.

Through a municipal electric aggregation savings program established by the village in 2011, Elburn recently sought competitive bids and contracted with the lowest bidder, FirstEnergy Solutions, at a rate of $.0732 per kWh to begin in September. That rate will be good for a three-year term ending September 2017. The current rate for those in the program is $.0476 per kWh.

First Energy’s new rate of $.0732 per kWh compares favorably with Com Ed’s rate of $.07596 per kWh, effective on June 1, plus or minus a floating “Purchased Electricity Adjustment” that varies monthly. According to Willrett, Com Ed’s current rate, including the adjustment, is $.0788 per kWh.

Through the aggregate savings program, approved by the public in a referendum three years ago, the village has been able to save the average participating household $561, resulting in a cumulative village-wide savings of $1,015,000 since 2011.

According to Willrett, eligible resident and small commercial accounts will receive an “opt out” notice from the village, informing them of program details. No action is needed if they wish to be enrolled in the program, as that will happen automatically.

Residents in the program would automatically be switched to ComEd if their rate were to go lower, Willrett said.

Residents enrolled with other suppliers will not automatically be enrolled, but may join the program by calling FirstEnergy Solutions at 1-888-651-5200 and asking for the Elburn program and rate of $.0732. They should check to see if they are subject to an early termination fee.

Residents with questions about the program may call FirstEnergy or the village’s electric aggregation consultant, NIMEC, at 1-800-727-3820. When calling NIMEC, leave your phone number and you will be contacted within 24 hours.

Story edited at 7:15 a.m. July 26, 2013.

Village reaches agreement on Blackberry Creek sign

ELBURN—With building in Blackberry Creek Subdivision gaining momentum, village trustees on Monday agreed to a sign outside the subdivision to market lots and homes to potential buyers.

The agreement, reached by village trustees in response to a request for the sign by Orleans Homes, calls for the sign’s message to highlight Blackberry Creek as a “good place to live,” that would direct potential buyers to a website with links to sellers.

Orleans Homes’ initial request to the village was for a 20-foot-by-10-foot double-faced sign along the road outside the subdivision to advertise lots for sale that would list the names of four to eight builders, including Orleans Homes. Orleans Homes currently owns 45 lots within Blackberry Creek.

At the board’s July 8 Committee of the Whole meeting, Village Administrator Erin Willrett told the board that village staff was in opposition to granting this request.

She said that the intent of the original annexation agreement was that B&B Enterprises, Inc., the original developer of Blackberry Creek, would be in charge of the sign. B&B has since pulled out of the area, leaving the development a little more than halfway built out.

Willrett said Village Attorney Bob Britz was concerned that granting the request could lead to many signs along Hughes and Keslinger Road, as other builders would come forward with the same request.

While village trustees were in favor of promoting the subdivision, they were also concerned that other builders and owners, including current residents, might also want to market their homes.

“What happens if a homeowner wants to sell their house, and they want to put up a sign?” trustee Bill Grabarek asked on Monday.

In addition to links to builders, the website would include a “for sale by owner” link to individual homeowners, for which they could pay a monthly fee.

“We do not wish to leave anybody out,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said she also wanted to make sure that all the current residents were in agreement with the sign, and suggested that they obtain a statement to that effect from the homeowners associations.

Orleans Homes Director of Acquisition Rick Zirk, who brought the initial request to the board during the previous Committee of the Whole meeting, said he thought this was a good solution.

“I like this idea,” agreed trustee Ken Anderson. “We’ve got stuff going on, and I’d like to get something out there to let people know.”


Turning up the heat

Hottest time of year the best time to teach v-ball fundamentals to area athletes

MAPLE PARK—Nearly 100 athletes were able to enjoy snow cones from a machine in the Kaneland High School East Gym on Tuesday.

That was only after perspiring in the morning hours going through the paces of volleyball camps for aspects like setting, basics and fundamentals of the court game.

Athletes from kindergarten through eighth grade were put through the paces by second-year head coach Kerri McCastland and assistant Cyndi Violett, Breanne Kahl and Kelsey Flanagan.

“Fundamentals is where we pick one specific one, and then break it down. We add it into what it looks like in game play, so it’s progression,” McCastland said.

Examining the specific fundamental and using it in a controlled setting for the prospective athletes is nothing new for McCastland, herself an experienced coach and official. However, this is the first camp she’s able to run after being appointed coach last summer with the departure of eight-season coach Todd Weimer.

“It’s fun,” McCastland said. “Even though I’ve been a head coach for a really long time, I can say it’s not my first kids camp. But this is the first time I can come in and teach my own thing. It’s fun to see the kids excited about learning.”

The camps were organized and made full use of the gym space with the amount of girls.

“Each court space had their own age group, and my girls broke down the fundamentals to smaller groups. It was a full staff effort,” McCastland said.

McCastland was encouraged by not just the effort of the girls, but the commitment of the staff during a hot July week.

“That’s kudos, and that all goes back to the staff. I offered it as optional for them and they all chose to come on their own. I think that’s a great tell-tale,” McCastland said.

Also coming through the late July exercise is a chance for Kaneland volleyball to show kids how the program is run.

“It’s an added benefit,” McCastland said. “Any time you can bring awareness to your high school program is a good thing. We’ll figure out in the fall how to take it a step further.”

Photos by Patti Wilk


Painting the town purple for epilepsy awareness

Photo: Alexa Hill of Hill’s Country Store is hoping to raise funds for epilepsy awareness with a fundraiser for the Anita Kaufmann Foundation. Hill is selling purple lollipops for $1 each, as well as a gift basket full of purple goodies.
Photo by Lynn Logan

KANEVILLE—Along with Hill’s Country Store in Kaneville, Alexa Hill hopes to turn the rest of the town purple in support of epilepsy awareness.

To do that, the store has a fundraiser underway to benefit the Anita Kaufmann Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to educate the public about epilepsy and eliminate the fear of it.

The fundraiser started at the store on Sunday, National Lollipop Day, with the sale of purple lollipops and raffle tickets for a gift basket filled with purple goodies.

Along with the whole purple connection—the color of the store and the color adopted for epilepsy awareness—Hill said she lost a cousin to epilepsy.

“My cousin Jimmy died of epilepsy a few years ago,” she said. “He knew he had it, but he wasn’t taking the right medicine. He was in his dorm room at college and no one was around to help him.”

Other purple items for sale at the store include purple wristbands and two different purple shades of OPI nail polish. Lollipops and wristbands are $1 each; the nail polish is $4 per bottle, and raffle tickets are $1 each or six for $5.

Although the fundraiser continues through Sunday, July 27, Hill said a free movie night is planned at the store on Friday, July 25. Cartoons start at 7:30 p.m., and “Rio 2” will be shown at 8 p.m. Everyone attending can enjoy free pizza and popcorn, $1 slushies and ice cream cones, and free raffles for the kids.

All kids who attend will receive a free purple lollipop, which they will be asked to hold up for a group picture. Hill said one of the goals of the foundation is to get pictures of people from all over the world holding purple lollipops. Additional lollipops will be available for $1 each.

“Come out and enjoy movie night and have fun spreading awareness about epilepsy,” Hill said. “And don’t forget to wear purple, too.”


Sugar Grove Corn Boil set July 25-27

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Corn Boil website >>

SUGAR GROVE—Admission is free to the 2014 Sugar Grove Corn Boil, which will open on Friday, July 25, at 4 p.m. The volunteer community event is family friendly and offers entertainment that will appeal to everyone. In addition to the Wilson Family Show carnival, craft fair, Bingo and children’s games, the Corn Boil offers three days of top notch bands, fine food, and fireworks on Saturday night. New this year, the carnival will be open on Thursday, July 24, from 5 to 10 p.m.

The Sugar Grove Corn Boil is located in Volunteer Park, west of Route 47 and just off Main Street in downtown Sugar Grove, behind the Kaneland John Shields Elementary School.

Plenty of free parking is available on marked streets in the community, and a free shuttle will run during the day from the Sugar Grove Village Hall and Sugar Grove Public Library parking areas to a park entrance. For the Corn Boil schedule and/or directions on how to get to the Corn Boil, visit www.sugargrovecornboil.org.

Presale wristbands at $20, to be redeemed for unlimited carnival rides, are on sale at American Heartland Bank and Trust, Castle Bank and Old Second National Bank in Sugar Grove while supplies last. Sales end at 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 24. Limited quantities are available.

Unlimited wristbands will also be available at the carnival ticket booth for $25 during normal carnival hours. Each wristband will be good for the day for which it is purchased. Wristbands will not be replaced, exchanged or refunded. All sales are final. Unlimited ride times are Thursday, July 24, 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday, July 25, 5 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, July 26, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, July 27, noon to 5 p.m. However, carnival hours are Friday, 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Corn, hot dogs and ice cold water can be purchased at the Prairie Building. However, many vendors, offering a variety of foods, are also available on the food court.

Beer sales are located and must remain in the area reserved for music enthusiasts. On Friday, July 25, the Duke Band will perform at 6 p.m., followed by Red Woody at 7:30 p.m. and Libido Funk Circus at 9:30 p.m. On Saturday, July 26, Generations will perform at 3:30 p.m., followed by Humphrey & McKeown at 5 p.m., Rockstar Rodeo at 6:30 p.m. and Lounge Puppets at 8:30 p.m. On Sunday, July 27, 4th Point will perform at 1:30 p.m., followed by Citizen Way at 3 p.m. and Mikeschair at 4 p.m.

The Sugar Grove Corn Boil Crafters & Business Expo offers unique crafts and gifts, as well as information about local businesses.

Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Corn Boil is a 501(c)(3) organization and the exclusive corn vendor at Sugar Grove Corn Boil. The proceeds from sweet corn sales help to meet Corn Boil expenses, are reinvested to planning the next year’s Corn Boil and are distributed among several local organizations assisting in the preparation and sale of the food and clean up.

The Corn Boil is still accepting sponsorships and donations for fireworks. The amount is tax deductible, and no amount is too small. All donations are appreciated. For more information, visit www.sugargrovecornboil.org and click on sponsorships.


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.

Corn Boil to offer fabulous band lineup

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Corn Boil Committee recently announced the bands that will be play during the Corn Boil, Friday through Sunday, July 25-27.

On Friday, July 25, at 6 p.m., the Duke Band, truly local and truly classic, will keep the classic-rock flame burning by performing the songs everyone knows and loves at 6 pm. The Duke Band, originally formed in the ‘80s, has transformed into a seasoned blend of musicians with a harmonious guitar trio. Their music is a mix of blues-based classics, danceable hits and today’s chart leaders. The audience will experience homage to the original artists, with the intricate guitar work of the Duke Band arrangements.

Red Woody will perform at 7:30 p.m. Since its inception in 1999, Red Woody has worked to redefine what a cover band is all about. Some of the artists Red Woody covers include Journey, Matchbox 20, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Goo Goo Dolls, AC/DC, R.E.O. Speedwagon, Poison, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Petty, Queen and Keith Urban. Red Woody embraces diversity and performs so that every show is a party. View the band’s website, www.redwoody.com, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/redwoodyband.

Corn Boil attendees can hear Friday’s headliner band Libido Funk Circus at 9:30 p.m. Originally formed as an over-the-top tribute to the Disco music of the ‘70s, Libido Funk Circus has been relentlessly entertaining a wide range of audiences since its inception in 1996. While they continue to play your favorite disco hits, the addition of hundreds of dance and rock songs spanning from the ‘60s through today, has quite literally turned LFC into a human jukebox. From the hits of the good ol’ Motown days to the bass-thumping beats of today’s dance music; from the always danceable disco grooves to the new wave rock of the ‘80s, LFC has it “covered.”

While their legendary catalog has certainly become the band’s trademark, LFC’s non-stop energy, showmanship and exquisite musicality is what truly sets them apart. With top-notch, professional musicians (including both male and female lead vocalists) and hundreds of songs under its collective belt, Libido Funk Circus has all the tools to make festival-goers move all night long! View their website at www.lfcentertainment.com.

On Saturday, July 26, Generations, “The ‘60s Experience Show” will perform at 3:30 p.m. Generations takes the audience on a musical, sight and sound flashback to the ‘60s, performing hits from the 1964 British Invasion, to the American male and female ‘60s artists, including the horn bands, and on through the birth of early ‘70s arena rock. View their website at www.generationsixties.com.

Humphrey & McKeown will perform at 5 p.m., featuring their fusion of some very dissimilar styles that work seamlessly. Humphrey-McKeown started off on a summer day in 2006 when singer/songwriter/producer Tom McKeown asked a group of musician friends if any had an interest in creating original music together. In the crowd that day was singer/songwriter/poet Heather Humphrey who saw this as an opportunity to take her fledgling songwriting to a new level. The two set out at once in combining Heather’s words with Tom’s music to create something neither had done in the past. View their website at www.hm-music.com.

Rockstar Rodeo will perform at 6:30 p.m. for country music fans. Take the best from Austin, the fun from Nashville, the boogie from the South and the best of times in the Midwest. Add the hottest modern, pop country hits and top rock hits and the audience will be kickin’ its night into one wild “Rodeo.” This isn’t your daddy’s band. Covering artists like Brantley Gilbert, Miranda Lambert and Jason Aldean, Rockstar Rodeo brings country to life in a dancing, drinking, sing-along, having ‘the time of your life’ event with a high energy delivery never seen before. “Just ’cause we ain’t in the south don’t mean we ain’t country.” The big sound of Rockstar Rodeo and high-energy stage performance will have the audience dancing all night long. View their website at www.rockstarrodeo live.com.

Lounge Puppets will headline Corn Boil Saturday night. This rock powerhouse is a force to be reckoned with. By performing all of the top hair band and classic rock hits, with unparalleled accuracy and energy, they have been propelled to one of the top bands in the Chicagoland area. View their website at www.loungepuppets.com.

On Sunday, July 27, at 1:30 p.m., 4th Point, a contemporary Christian rock band from West Chicago will entertain. Known for upbeat music and energetic, passionate performances, 4th Point strives to make an impact on people’s lives. The 4th Point goal is music that inspires people, providing them with continued passion and new beginnings.

4th Point was named the state champion of the 2013 Illinois Battle of the Bands, defeating more than 100 talented bands. Also in 2013, 4th Point placed in the top four of a nationwide competition to open for a nationally recognized three-day Christian music festival, Spirit Song Fest in Ohio. In 2012 4th Point began working with Pumpkin Studios and Grammy-nominated recording engineer Gary Loizzo, who engineered, recorded, and mastered its debut full-length album, “The Search and the Find,” released in February 2013. The 12 original songs on the album represent a journey of discovery. Visit their website at www.4thpoint.net.

Citizen Way, a true band of brothers in the literal sense, will perform at 3 p.m. This infectious rock four-piece is comprised of two sets of siblings with strong ministry backgrounds and a mutual passion for music that began long before the band officially formed in 2004. Band members Josh and Ben Calhoun and David and Ben Blascoe share a camaraderie that is undeniable and results in a unique, unparalleled connection for a band that has plenty to say.

All four band members grew up in strong ministry families. Josh and Ben Calhoun, the group’s primary songwriters, were heavily influenced by their mom’s musical gift and the Calhouns were on stage singing at church from an early age. The Blascoe brothers had a more urban upbringing than their bandmates and while their parents weren’t musical, they were music lovers, exposing the boys to live shows by early Christian acts like Petra. View their website at citizenwaymusic.com.

Mikeschair is the Sunday headliner. According to Mike Grayson, frontman, “We want to effectively communicate the message we feel we have been given.”

The band’s latest Curb Records album is “All or Nothing.” Visit their website at mikeschair.com.

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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.

School District discusses ethnicity report

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board recently had an ethnicity and employee report as an information item on its regular meeting agenda.

The employee and ethnicity report, prepared by Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business at Kaneland, shows a breakdown of ethnicities relating to Kaneland staff and students.

The June 2014 report shows that there are 96 percent white employees, 4 percent minority employees and 18 percent minority students
There are a total of 832 Kaneland employees.

Latinos account for 13 working in the district, or 1.56 percent, with 11 percent students; American Indian or Alaska Native is 1 in the district, or 0.12 percent, with no students with this background; Asian accounts for 4 in district, or 0.48 percent, with 2 percent students; African American includes 3 workers, or 0.36 percent, with 2 percent students; Caucasian represents 802, or 96.4 percent, with a student population of 82 percent; Two or more races is 1, or 0.12 percent, with students at 3 percent; and unknown is 8 in district, or 0.96 percent with no unknown students.

There was discussion about ethnicity, or the lack of minorities working in the Kaneland School District, at multiple School Board meetings this past school year. Board member Tony Valente advocated for qualified minorities to work in the Kaneland School District.

“I think we need to do a better job to at least interview minority candidates,” Valente said at the Feb. 10 School Board meeting. “At least show role models to our kids.”

Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler this week responded to the question on if there is a plan to have more minorities working for the Kaneland School District.

“I think there is a desire always, in most organizations—most school district organizations—to look at how your staff demographic matches a little bit closer to your student demographic,” he said.

Schuler anticipates that there will be a bigger pool of teacher retirees in the next three school years, which means open positions. He added that there could be more minorities working in the district through university partnerships, like with Northern Illinois University.

“We’ve got a pipeline with (Northern Illinois) University where we have an opportunity to work with teaching candidates before they’re actually at the point where they’re looking for a job,” Schuler said. “So I think that partnership opens up a pipeline into the School District.”

A job fair is another avenue Schuler anticipates getting more minority staff in the district.

Dr. Sarah Mumm, director of Educational Services K-5, had said in a meeting last school year that there were 1,000-1,500 applicants for one elementary classroom teaching job.

“Our practice in the district has been to hire what we believe is the strongest candidate for our position,” Schuler said.

Community comes together to learn, begin to heal

MAPLE PARK—Parents and young people from Maple Park came together on July 9 at the local Civic Center for an informational session on train safety. Many in the community have been impacted by the recent death of Parker Wolfsmith, a Maple Park teen who was killed by a train on May 31.

Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta scheduled the presentation by Union Pacific officials to provide community members with information that he hopes will prevent another young person’s life from being taken by a train.

Wolfsmith, a 14-year-old Harter Middle School student, was struck by a train traveling through Maple Park while he was engaging in a practice called “breezing,” in which the individual tries to get close to a passing train to feel the wind and the power from the train.

“Trains can’t swerve, and they can’t stop,” Union Pacific special agent Jim Mangner told the group gathered for the meeting. “But the good news is that they can’t hurt you unless you’re on or near the tracks.”

Manger said that it takes the length of three football fields (300 yards, or 900 feet) for a train to stop. He added that the heavier and the longer the train, the longer it takes it to stop.

“The inability for people to perceive just how fast a train is traveling is probably the most dangerous thing,” he said.

He explained that when people see a train approaching from a distance, it can seem like it will take a long time for it to get to the crossing, and that you might have time to cross before it gets there.

“They go a lot faster than you think—60 or 70 miles an hour—that’s more than a mile a minute.”

He said that videos on the Internet of people trying out risky actions near trains don’t take into account differences between trains in the U.S. and those in Europe. He described one in which a train rolled over a person laying on the tracks without touching him, and noted that European trains are higher off the tracks than ours.

He also explained that stunts in movies don’t portray how dangerous trains can be.

“A lot of things you see in the media only happen in the media,” he said.

At the end of the presentation, Acosta said that he hoped everyone who came that night would go out and spread the message.

“Stay away from the train and the tracks,” he said. “If you hear somebody talking about it, let an adult know. Your parents want to see you reach old age.”

After the meeting, Maple Park police officer Tony Ayala said he thought the Union Pacific people “did a great job,” and that there were “great questions” from the people in the community.

“They were really focused on the right things,” he said.

Acosta said that when police officers such as Ayala have to deal with the death of a young person, it affects them.

“If we can save one kid from being hurt, then we’ve done our job,” Acosta said.

Several friends of Wolfsmith’s said they were glad to see so many people from the community at the session.

“I was kinda glad that kids of all ages came, because it could happen to anyone,” 13-year-old Max Bohm said. “I never thought anyone would get hurt.”

Chaz Garcia, 14, said it was a lesson that everyone should learn.

“Trains are really dangerous,” he said. “The teachers tried to tell us. We should’ve listened.”

Wolfsmith’s mother, Amy Opfer, and his sister, Summer, both of whom live in McHenry, were among those at the meeting.

“It was good for the community; good for the kids and Parker’s mother,” Acosta said. “She needs to heal, too.”

Acosta said that after the meeting, Parker’s mother sat down and talked with some of his friends. They talked about that night, and about some of the friendships that Parker had in town.

“It opened her up to some friends Parker had that she wasn’t aware of,” he said. “It was a good, healing time for all of them.”

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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

Village Board views presentation on industrial park concept

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday viewed a presentation from Jeff Dublo, executive vice president for Triumph Construction Services Corporation in Elgin, regarding potential plans to build a light industrial park.

The industrial park concept would be on a 112-acre parcel located off of Route 47 on the corner of Galena Boulevard and Municipal Drive, and across the street from Route 30. Dublo during the presentation mentioned the range of sizes of the industrial park.

“Our buildings range from 20 feet to 40 feet in height and 15,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet in this size lot,” he said. “It depends on the client. We believe this can be a successful property.”

Concerns were voiced in regard to noise and the hours of the industrial park. Dublo addressed those concerns.

“We’re bringing in an industrial/manufacturing building where employees would have typical hours Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It would be quiet on the weekends and friendly towards families,” Dublo said.

According to Dublow, the businesses that own these buildings range greatly, including internet sale businesses, businesses that distribute utensils and small pots and pans, and small-part manufacturers.

Concern regarding truck noise and backup noise was mentioned by board trustees. Dublo explained how noise wouldn’t be a factor within the industrial park.

“We’ve never had complaints about noise from our buildings,” he said. “You don’t see much traffic coming out by our buildings. Our trucks face away from the roads when they are by the docks.”

Employment and more traffic during retail hours are highlights of the potentially new industrial building. Dublo mentioned that the new industrial building could provide 1,500 to 2,000 new jobs.

“This would generate employment and daytime traffic for retail,” Village President Sean Michels said. “I think there is some great opportunity here.”


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.”