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From the Editor’s Desk

Editorial: Embarking on something new and wonderful

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The Fourth of July holiday in many ways signifies the birth of something new; something inspired. Chief among what was created the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted: the commitment to serve and represent the public to the best of its ability. In a modest manner of speaking, we believe this inaugural Sugar Grove Herald issue was born out of a similar commitment—one we feel to our readers in Sugar Grove. We’re embarking on something new and wonderful, and we’re so excited to share this moment with a community that has long deserved its own hometown publication.

This week’s Sugar Grove Herald hopefully outlines to its readers the goals we have as a publication, as well as what said readers can expect to see in the publication each and every week.

Sugar Grove as a village and community is growing by leaps and bounds every day, and we want to be there to document anything and everything that takes place there. This week, we were fortunate to bring on two Sugar Grove residents—Denise Feltes and Julie Walker—as photographers just in time for the inaugural SG Herald edition. As a result, we were able to capture several events that recently took place in Sugar Grove, including the American Legion bean bag tournament and the Senior Center luncheon.

Outside of the scope of Sugar Grove, we received a Letters to the Editor submission two months ago from Kaneland High School student Hans Griesinger of Maple Park. Griesinger’s letter disclosed concern about the intersection of Keslinger and Dauberman roads, located near the high school, and labeled it as “extremely hazardous.” The purpose of the letter was to urge local residents to contact the Kane County Board and ask it to conduct a traffic study of the intersection.

This week, Sugar Grove Herald reporter Violet Marquardt spoke with a KHS parent and the Kane County Sheriff’s Office regarding the intersection and the reality of what it will take to get a traffic study done and a traffic light placed where Keslinger and Dauberman roads meet. We want to know what our readers think of the intersection issue, and encourage them to comment on the matter via the Elburn Herald’s Facebook page.

Last but not least, we have multiple stories this week regarding Corn Boil activities in need of participants and sponsors, namely the Chopped Cooking Contest. If you have any interest in getting involved with a Corn Boil cooking extravaganza that is an absolute blast for both participants and spectators, we encourage you to be a part of the Chopped Cooking Contest. Trust us, you won’t regret it.

We want to again thank you, our reader, for helping make the Sugar Grove Herald possible. We promise to grow with this fine community and represent it to the best of our ability. It deserves nothing less.

Editorial: Get ready to chowdown, Elburn

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The stretch of time between the Fourth of July and Labor Day is a long, hot one around these parts, but we have a solution for your mid-summer boredom: the second annual Elburn Chowdown.

This year’s Chowdown event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 12, outside of the Community Center, 525 N. Main St. Most of the scheduled events, which will appeal to families, are free. And free, especially during the summertime, is a great thing.

The meal portion of the event involves a pig roast, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meal tickets are $10 each in advance, or $15 the day of the event. If you don’t have time to eat at the Community Center, you’re in luck—carry-outs are available for $15 each.

All fun and games aside, the event is an important fundraiser for the Elburn and Countryside Community Center. All finances raised during the Chowdown will go toward the Community Center and its long list of fixer-upper projects and improvement goals. Last year’s event raised somewhere between $450 and $500, which went toward the Community Center’s window replacement campaign—providing 22 of 57 new windows needed in the building. In addition, an incredibly generous, anonymous donor gave the Community Center nine windows for its dance room.

To say that last year’s inaugural Chowdown event was a success would be an understatement, as it brought together countless local residents for an afternoon of great food, refreshing drinks, music and fun games. We expect much of the same during this year’s event, and we’re excited to be a part of it, thanks to our KPI fun photo booth, which will allow us to take pictures of kids in attendance and put them in their very own news story. Want to be the face of the kid who stopped aliens from taking over the Earth or became Major League Baseball’s youngest player to throw a perfect game? We can make it happen. Just stop by the KPI news booth and watch the magic happen.

Last but not least, the Chowdown will serve as a springboard for the Community Center’s next fundraiser event: an August golf outing. Want to get a jump start on the links? There will be a putting challenge available during the Chowdown.

Advance tickets for the pig roast are available at the Community Center, the Elburn Herald or the Elburn branch of Old Second Bank. For more information or to volunteer, contact the Elburn Community Center at (630) 365-6655 or ElburnCCC@gmail.com.

An open letter to Rep. Wheeler

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by Ryan Wells
Elburn Herald and Sugar Grove Herald

I received an alert from the Illinois Press Association recently, informing me that Gov. Rauner has a potential plan to implement a 6.25 percent sales tax rate on advertising and advertising-related services.

I understand that our Governor inherited a horrible mess and that Rep. Wheeler is similarly in a difficult situation in which fiscal responsibility and pro-growth strategies are hampered by decades of state mismanagement and a political machine that is bordering on impossible to fix.

That being said, I must strongly urge you to fight against the idea to tax advertising and advertising-related services as one of the tactics to combat the state’s fiscal challenges.

You know small businesses and how we operate. You know we have to either eat the additional costs or pass them on to our clients; and either way we also have to create expense to comply with the new regulations.

Further, you understand how small, local advertising-based businesses operate. You know that the majority of media outlets’ advertisers are themselves small businesses. Therefore, if a small newspaper like us passes along a rate increase to comply with a new tax, we will not only harm our own bottom line, we will also harm those fellow local, small businesses who suddenly have to pay more for the same service. Some will eat the cost and suffer the harm to their bottom line. Others will pull their advertising to save money, which as you know, will hurt them in the long run.

So, this idea will reduce revenue while increasing expenses.

The above is just the negative impacts this type of idea would have on Illinois small business. But let’s set those challenges aside and look at the bigger picture; I understand it may be worth it for companies like mine to be harmed if the underlying state problem is solved. I share your fiscally conservative views, and I am therefore on board with sound fiscal ideas that lead to long-term growth and financial health for the state of Illinois.

However, I believe this idea will make the problem worse in the long run. According to the IPA, Florida implemented this type of tax and it was a horrible mistake. The state saw a loss of 50,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in personal income due to lost advertising revenue. Florida also discovered that ad purchases decreased by 12 percent, going into neighboring states instead. It resulted in a net loss of $100 million in advertising revenue. And finally, the administrative costs incurred to administer the tax exceeded the tax revenue generated from it, ultimately leading to the law’s repeal six months after it was implemented.

This sounds very much like the Illinois tollway system, which, as you know, for many years cost more to collect the tolls than it actually took in. We both want a new Illinois based on sound economic policy, not a series of quick-fix increases in fees and taxes. Unfortunately, that is exactly what this idea is—a way to appear to generate additional revenue on paper, which will help budget projections and possibly even assist in political debates—all while the reality of broad-based damage to local businesses and ultimately the state economy trails behind.

This idea will leave the state in worse shape than when Gov. Rauner took office. Advertising helps generate $267 billion—17.3 percent—of economic activity in Illinois, and it helps produce over 900,000 jobs statewide. I strongly urge you to hold firm in your fiscally conservative philosophy and continue to look at the bigger picture.

The facts and impacts are clear; only the philosophy behind this idea and the respective positions of our elected officials are not.

Editorial: A new publication for a growing community

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The idea of a newspaper dedicated to Sugar Grove is something we’ve kicked around often at the Elburn Herald the past 14 years. Next week, that idea will become a reality, as we’ll launch our Sugar Grove Herald publication.

The idea of a Sugar Grove-centric newspaper first occured to Elburn Herald Publisher Ryan Wells in 2001, when he was a working as a reporter for the company. He realized that while our local communities were part of the broader Kaneland community, there was also a desire among Sugar Grove residents to have their own unique identity in the form of its own hometown newspaper.

A number of limitations through the years held off our ability to make Sugar Grove Herald a real thing, but the seed ensuring its eventual existence was planted that day 14 years ago, and it only grew stronger and more vibrant as the topic of a paper in Sugar Grove transitioned from “possible” to “feasible” to “likely” to “done deal.”

And now, here we are—on the cusp of introducing a new publication to serve Sugar Grove’s ever-expanding village. As our community grows, it’s important for us to grow with it; next week, we’ll take a step in that direction with the launch of our Sugar Grove Herald.

In case you’re wondering, no, our Elburn Herald publication will not suffer from us introducing a newspaper focused on Sugar Grove and its community. Elburn itself is poised to soon make some strides in terms of growth and population, and we intend for the Elburn Herald to stay right by its side. Ultimately, we care deeply for all of the municipalities that make up the Kaneland community, and we believe two newspapers will allow us to best serve our readers in Elburn, Sugar Grove, Maple Park, Kaneville and beyond.

Also, any and all news involving Kaneland (school and sports) will be featured in both publications, as will any large-scale stories that require the attention of everyone throughout the community.

Finally, if you are a resident of Sugar Grove, your subscription will automatically convert to the Sugar Grove Herald on July 2. If you are not a Sugar Grove resident but prefer to receive that one instead of the Elburn Herald, just call us at (630) 365-6446 and let us know.

It’s our pleasure to serve the Kaneland community to the best of our capability, and we can’t wait to introduce our new Sugar Grove Herald newspaper on July 2. We love our new publication, and we know you’ll love it, too.

Editorial: Elburn Herald with another impressive showing at IPA Awards

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We like good news here at the Elburn Herald. Because of that, we look forward to the second week of June each year, as that’s typically when the Illinois Press Association (IPA) holds its annual awards event. Well, we’re pleased to say that we had a strong showing in this year’s IPA contest, in both advertorial and editorial categories.

In the Advertorial category, we took first place in General Advertising Excellence, third and fourth place in Best Full Page Ad, second place in Best Ad Series, second place in Best Small Ad, second and fourth place in Best Full Color Ad, second place in Best Community Focus Special Section, first place in Best Classified Section, first place in Best Niche Publication (Insight), fourth place in Best Ad Designer and overall winner in Division G, all made possible by Design Director Leslie Flint.

On the Editorial side, we earned an honorable mention in the area of General Excellence, first place in Local Editorial, honorable mention in Sports News, second place in Spot News Photo (credited to former Elburn Herald photographer Patti Wilk), and first and second place in Sports Photo (both credited to photographer Marshall Farthing).

However, our biggest triumph in the IPA Editorial contest was a first-place award in the Sports Section classification, made possible by the fine work done by Leslie and Elburn Herald Sports Editor Ben Draper.

We want to thank all of our staff and writers for the outstanding work they provide us each and every year, and we look forward to submitting our next batch of IPA contest entries in February 2016. Our goal whenever we enter the IPA contest is to sweep every class, but in all honesty, it’s simply an honor just to place in any of the available categories. To compete against some of the best papers in Illinois year in and year out is an amazing privilege, and serves as a reminder that there’s always room to improve as a news publication that serves its community.

Letter from the Publisher: Announcing the launch of the Sugar Grove Herald

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The July 2 edition of the Elburn Herald will mark a significant milestone in the history of the newspaper. It will be the first edition that will include its sister paper, the Sugar Grove Herald.

The Sugar Grove Herald has been in various stages of development going all the way back to 2001.

That was the year, as an Elburn Herald reporter, that I realized that while our local communities were part of the broader Kaneland community, there was also a desire among Sugar Grove residents to have their own unique identity in the form of its own hometown newspaper. Since then, a variety of things pushed off the launch of the Sugar Grove Herald, and now, 14 years since the first discussion of the idea, it will soon become a reality.

So what does this mean to our current readers?

For all Kaneland-area residents, it means that the connecting point between you will be represented in our interior section, commonly referred to as “Section B.” This will be the place where you will find information about the things that connect you all to each other, whether you call Maple Park home or live in Sugar Grove. Things like Kaneland sports and other broader-community coverage will appear here.

The difference will occur in Section A; in which it will cater to Elburn in the Elburn Herald and Sugar Grove in the Sugar Grove Herald. We are devoted to providing deeper coverage into each respective community; providing a true hometown paper for both Elburn and Sugar Grove with a sharper focus on each respective community.

Some of the impacts of this change have already begun to be apparent. For example, visit elburnherald.com and sugargroveherald.com and see for yourself.

If you are a resident of Sugar Grove, your subscription will automatically convert to the Sugar Grove Herald on July 2. If you are not a Sugar Grove resident but prefer to receive that one instead of the Elburn Herald, just call us at (630) 365-6446 and let us know.

All of the changes we make are based on the idea that our central, underlying mission is to help strengthen the connections within and among our Kaneland communities. Everything we do is to help serve that mission, and we hope the changes that occur July 2 and beyond put us in a position to better pursue it.

Ryan Wells, Publisher
Elburn Herald
Sugar Grove Herald

Editorial: Here comes summer reading

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Great news, kids: Local libraries this summer will offer their respective take on the summer reading program.

All four local libraries—Elburn, Sugar Grove, Maple Park and Kaneville—are in on the reading fun this summer, with programs available to all little bookworms in the Kaneland community. Regardless of where you live, summer-reading fun is always nearby.

The Sugar Grove Public Library on Saturday kicked off its “Every Hero has a Story” summer reading program for kids. The village’s summer reading extravaganza began with a “Superhero Training Camp,” in which kids had an opportunity to play games and see a Sugar Grove Library staff member’s horse as she explained how horses have been heroes throughout history.

Throughout the summer, the Sugar Grove Library will entertain a variety of activities that encompass the hero theme. These activities include a superhero sewing project, a birthday party for Harry Potter on Saturday, Aug. 1, and much more.

Per tradition, the Sugar Grove Library will host its usual events, such as Lego Club, Pokemon Club, Baby and Toddler Club and more. Every Tuesday, there will be a movie matinee, and every Saturday there will be crafts from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If kids read a certain amount of books in the allotted time and turn in a reading log, they will win coupons for local venues, as well as other special prizes. The kids are also eligible to put their name in for a grand prize.

The kids program will end with its “Day for Dogs Marionette,” on Saturday, Aug. 8. Accomplished puppeteer Captain Zork and his superhero friends will make a cameo at this event. Stasinopoulos said Captain Zork has been performing his routine for over 20 years and has appeared at many libraries.

“Read to the Rhythm” is this year’s summer reading youth program theme at the Elburn Town and Country Public Library. It began on June 1 and will continue until Saturday, Aug. 8.

The kids summer reading program will be by the minutes, as each minute brings them closer to a higher reward tier. For each 150 minutes read, the kids will get a fun prize, such as coupons and gift cards donated from local businesses such as Paisano’s Pizza and Epic Air.

Teens have to read four books and will receive a prize after each completed book. Adults have to read three, with an opportunity to win big prizes.

At the conclusion of summer reading will be Grand Finale Day on Friday, Aug. 7. At this event, there will be food, beverages, face-painting and a petting zoo.

Similar to the Town and Country Public Library, the Maple Park Library will also use the “Read to the Rhythm” theme for its youth summer program. The library’s six-week program will run from Thursday, June 15, to Friday, July 31.

Every Wednesday at 3 p.m., the library will do a craft-and-story activity centered on the musical theme, such as doing things with rhythms.

For Maple Park Library’s summer reading logs, kids, teens and adults are asked to read about 100 minutes a week to win weekly prizes and end-of-program prizes.

In addition, the library will also boast new hours this summer: Monday through Thursday, noon to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Also adopting the “Read to the Rhythm” theme is the Kaneville Public Library, which kicked off its summer program on Monday. The youth summer reading program will run for six weeks, concluding on Saturday, July 18. The main focus of the program will be the reading contests available for kids ages 7 to high school.

In addition to the large-scale prizes, smaller prizes will be awarded, such as food coupons to places like McDonald’s. As kids pass certain levels of the reading contest, they may pick a small toy from the toy chest at the library.

The library’s reading contests vary, from number of books read to the number of minutes spent reading. The library will also challenge kids to read a new book from the eight-to-10 different parts of the library.

Regardless of where you live, your local library will offer plenty of reading fun and rewards this summer. Don’t miss out—get reading already.

Editorial: Help put a local community member in the spotlight

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We make it a goal at the Elburn Herald to bring the community’s attention to local residents who help make their respective village a better place to work and live. We now want to further that original goal by highlighting local residents in a monthly feature titled “Community Spotlight.”

Similar to the Citizen of the Year Award given out each year at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil, Community Spotlight will allow us to make special note of those who volunteer their time, coordinate local efforts, help people in need and represent their village to the best of their ability.

There are countless local residents who qualify for this monthly feature; now we just need our readers to nominate them as a candidate for the Elburn Herald’s Community Spotlight. If you know someone who works tirelessly in the name of their village and/or greater Kaneland area, send a short letter of recommendation to info@elburnherald.com. The more nominations, the better, so don’t be shy about nominating someone who you believe makes a difference in their community.

We also want to thank Kaneland Krier staff and KHS Class of 2015 graduate Emma Wallace for the great work they did in collecting the senior advice quotes featured in last week’s graduation issue. Your time and effort is very much appreciated, and we’re honored that you agreed to help us with the project.

Editorial: Congratulations to this year’s Louise Cooper Community Service Award winners

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We wrote last month about the Louise Cooper Community Service Award scholarship, which is awarded each year to a Kaneland High School senior or a graduate enrolled in college undergrad programs. This year, the group of applicants was so strong, we had no choice but to award two Louise Cooper scholarships. The recipients, seniors McKayla Helm of Maple Park and Samantha Payton of Sugar Grove, received the scholarships during Kaneland Senior Honors Night on May 21 at Kaneland High School.

Due to a last-second scheduling conflict, we were unable to attend Senior Honors Night and present the Louise Cooper Community Service Award scholarships to McKayla and Samantha. Therefore, we’d like to congratulate them for their exceptional scholarship applications. Both students, as well as every other applicant considered for the two awards, demonstrated remarkable maturity, dedication and ambition in their resume and essay question responses, and really let us in on how they planned to grow and develop as a professional and as a human being. Frankly, every applicant was more than worthy of winning the Louise Cooper scholarship, but we ultimately awarded to the two students who we thought best fit the scholarship’s criteria: demonstration of a desire to serve the community with integrity, compassion and courage.

We want to again congratulate McKayla and Samantha on winning the Louise Cooper Community Service Award scholarship, and we also want to thank everyone who applied for this year’s award. Your presence and hard work makes our community a much better place.

Editorial: Honor our fallen this Memorial Day

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Memorial Day 2015 will take place on Monday, May 25, and there are a number of local opportunities for local residents to honor those who have served and given the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America and its citizens.

Elburn’s annual Memorial Day parade, hosted by American Legion Post 630, will kick off at 10 a.m. at Elburn Lions Park, 500 Filmore St., and conclude at Blackberry Township Cemetery. There will be a brief service at the cemetery, and then parade attendees may return to Lions Park to enjoy food and social events.

Sugar Grove’s Memorial Day service will begin at 9 a.m. at the Sugar Grove Cemetery. The village’s annual program is an excellent way to honor those who have fallen while serving and protecting their country.

Last but not least, Kaneville’s 120th annual Memorial Day program will take place at 10 a.m. at the Werdin Community Center, Harter and Main Street roads, Kaneville. The event will feature a guest speaker familiar to most of us: State Rep. Bob Pritchard.

We’d also like to call attention to the fact that May 17-23 is officially National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week. To commemorate this very special week, we spoke with local paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in an attempt to bring attention to the incredible work they do on a daily basis. You can find the story on page 12A of this week’s issue.

To the Kaneland community, its nearby friends and everyone in general, we wish you a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. Be sure to set aside some time this weekend to honor our soldiers who have perished as a result of war or other military action—it’s the least we can do to acknowledge those who risked and gave everything to make possible the freedoms we enjoy each and every day.

Guest Editorial: Why strengthening the Freedom of Information Act is so important

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by Caroline H. Little
President and CEO, Newspaper Association of America

President Barack Obama has routinely promised greater transparency within the federal government. Now, Congress is making strides towards achieving this critical goal.

The House of Representatives and Senate are currently considering nearly identical bills to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which provides the general public, including journalists, with access to federal government records.

This legislation has received broad support across media organizations, including the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of which the Newspaper Association of America is a member. And here’s why: openness instead of secrecy would be the “default” key within the government.

The legislation would require agencies to release documents under a “presumption of openness,” reaffirming the principle that information should never be kept confidential to protect government interests at the expense of the public. Agencies would need to prove specific harm that could result from disclosures before withholding documents. While this policy has been in place since 2009, the legislation would ensure future administrations honor this objective for openness.

The process of obtaining FOIA records would be much more efficient.

Citizens and journalists would receive requested information in a more timely fashion and would be updated on the status of their request or reason for denial. Federal agencies would be allowed to withhold information on policy deliberations for only 25 years—currently, there is no limit.

More records would be available.

The legislation would require agencies to post frequently requested information online. This will give citizens and journalists more timely access to key information and a deeper understanding of what the government is doing—or not doing.

Why is this important?

The Freedom of Information Act remains a powerful, though currently inefficient, tool to obtain public information. Last year, several key stories were brought to light as a result of reporters’ FOIA record requests.

The Associated Press was able to show that people accused of Nazi war crimes had continued receiving Social Security payments after leaving our country. In another instance, a reporter reviewing military ballistics tests found that the Marine Corps had issued armored vests that failed to protect against bullets—and 5,277 vests were quickly recalled, perhaps saving lives. Likewise, records obtained through FOIA revealed that some firefighter safety equipment failed to work properly when exposed to heat or moisture, rendering it ineffective in crisis situations.

Without these records and journalists’ diligent research, none of this would have been brought to public attention. Our armed forces and firefighters may have been directly harmed as a result.

The Freedom of Information Act was enacted in 1966. It remains critical for creating and preserving an open and accountable government. However, it must be updated to keep up with changing technology and a persistent mindset within federal agencies that information belongs to the government, not the general public.

Congress came very close to passing FOIA reform legislation last year before the end of the 113th Congress. Now, members in both the Senate and House are working in a bi-partisan fashion to move these bills forward in the new Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved its FOIA reform bill, S. 337, which is sponsored by Senators John Cornyn, Patrick Leahy, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley. The House bill (H.R. 653), which is sponsored by Representatives Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings, was reported out of committee last week.

We applaud the bills’ sponsors and the congressional leadership for turning their attention to this good government legislation. We hope that this momentum bodes well for bipartisan, bicameral action early in the new Congress.

Editorial: Remembering Bob

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We were saddened to learn of Sugar Grove village trustee Bob Bohler’s passing on Sunday morning. Bohler, 64, brought a lifetime of hard work, respect and dignity to the village—as a resident, community and public servant—and there is no doubt that Sugar Grove is a better place because of him.

Elected to the Village Board in 1997, Bohler was instrumental in the formation of the village’s Economic Development Corporation, serving as chairman of the board committee that preceded the corporation.

Employed in the life safety business, providing fire and security alarms for commercial buildings, Bohler was also a driving force behind the village’s emergency management plan.

“He has a real passion for the community at large,” Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels said in December 2014. “It’s hard to find anyone as passionate about Sugar Grove. Seventeen years is a long time to have an influence on a community.”

Bohler’s influence was felt outside of village government, too. He was the main force behind the youth soccer league that preceded the Park District. And as a member of the Sugar Grove Lions Club, he found the funds to implement fireworks during the Sugar Grove Corn Boil, and kept them going despite the failing economy.

Several of the Elburn Herald’s reporters had the privilege of speaking with Bohler during his time on the Village Board, and not one of them have a bad thing to say about him—he was always courteous, informative and helpful, and he remained that way even after he revealed that he was battling cancer.

It’s with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Mr. Bohler, but we promise to always honor and remember his achievements as a citizen and board trustee, and most importantly as a human being. He was one of the best.

Editorial: Rewarding those who do as Louise Cooper did

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We annually award the Louise Cooper Community Service Award scholarship to a Kaneland High School senior or a graduate enrolled in college undergrad programs. This year, the group of applicants was so strong, we had no choice but to award two Louise Cooper scholarships. The recipients will be named during Kaneland Senior Honors Night on Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m. in the KHS auditorium.

With a belief that a strong, independent newspaper is vital to a community’s health, Louise nurtured the Kaneland area for over three decades as owner and editor of the Elburn Herald. She lived the ideals of journalism, focusing on serving her readers by providing fair, balanced and responsible reporting with community focus.

Louise truly cared about her readers (a practice we strive to continue), and it showed itself in the work she produced. In turn, her readers cared about her and her work, forging a bond that turned into decades of loyal readership (a relationship we strive to achieve and maintain).

She could best be described as a woman of integrity; a positive influence on others. She was intelligent, patient and kind; gracious, sincere and caring; respectful and respected; often ahead of the times, but above all, trusted in the community.

Louise truly served as one of the bonds that held the Kaneland community together during her years here at the Elburn Herald. And in appreciation of her love of serving this community, as well as the standards of journalistic excellence she set, the Elburn Herald established this award to encourage Kaneland students to promote and preserve the ideals of integrity, positivity and respect that Louise demonstrated during her lifetime.

The Louise Cooper Community Service Award is a $1,000 scholarship designed to support students who display a desire to serve their communities with integrity, compassion and courage. We can say with certainty that every applicant this year demonstrated all of the above characteristics, and demonstrated them well. While we are sad that we can only award two scholarships to such a deserving group of Kaneland students and graduates, we want to offer congratulations to the two Louise Cooper Community Service Award winners. Louise would’ve undoubtedly approved of your achievements and ambitions.

Editorial: Clarifications regarding Letter to the Editor, Blackberry Township road tax rate

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We often use this editorial space to explain and clarify our policies and decisions whenever they are called into question, whether by a reader, the general public or a public official. We’re currently in an election week, so now sounds like a good time to revisit a couple of policies and practices on our end, as well as a story we published last month.

Our Letters to the Editor section plays an important part in our goal to give our readers, inside and outside the Kaneland community, a voice. We do our best to feature each and every letter that comes across our desk, be it an email or a handwritten note. However, there are times where our Letters to the Editor inbox is filled to the point that we simply cannot run every submission in the Elburn Herald. This most often happens during election season, which is a shame, as we know local residents have their opinions about local candidates and referenda, and several of them want to voice their approval or displeasure of said candidates and items via our Letters to the Editor. In the rare instance where this happens, we run the held letter on our website so we can at least make the submission available to our online readers. It’s not a perfect solution, but sometimes it’s the best we can do when we’ve received a large number of letters (some far more lengthy than others).

We encountered such a situation last week, publishing 13 letters of the 15 we received. One of the held submissions was in opposition to the Blackberry Township road tax referendum, which appeared on the April 7 Consolidated Election ballot.

Further, the letter’s author also took issue with comments made by Elburn Village President Dave Anderson on March 16 regarding Blackberry Township having “the lowest road rate in Kane County,” and that there has been no increase in Blackberry Township’s rate since the 1970s.

Per the Letters to the Editor submission in question: “In looking at the Kane County Clerk’s page, where last year’s tax rates are listed, Blackberry Township Road District is eighth out of the 16 townships. The actual lowest rate is Geneva Township, with a rate of 2.5 cents per $100 EAV—far lower than our 18.5 cents per $100 EAV. There are six other township road districts with lower rates than Blackberry.

“From the same article, it was stated ‘With the tax rate for township roads at the same rate for the past 36 years.’ I looked at my 2009 tax bill, and the Road District rate was 0.135368, or 13.5 cents per $100 EAV. The tax rate for township roads has not been the same rate for 36 years. It has increased 37 percent over the last five years.”

We spoke with Anderson earlier this week, and he provided clarification regarding the comments he made during the March 16 Village Board meeting.

“My comment was based on the fact that Blackberry Township Road District is the lowest road tax rate in the rural western portion of Kane County, and has been for some time,” he said. “To compare Blackberry Township to the eastern, northern and southern Kane County townships is an ‘apples and oranges’ comparison. East, north and south of us, the townships are covered by municipal street departments and do not have the 56 miles of road that Blackberry does. Therefore, their road tax rates are much lower.”

As for the “no increase in Blackberry Township’s rate since the 1970s” comment, Anderson said the small increases in the rate are a result of the CPI and the growth of subdivisions—more street miles—in the township.

“The question has been on the ballot before, but has been turned down by the voters,” Anderson said. “There has been no voter approved increase, in my memory.”

In addition to Anderson’s explanation, Blackberry Township Road Commissioner Rod Feece said Kane County’s eastern townships—Aurora, Geneva, Batavia, Elgin, St. Charles and Dundee, Ill.—have the ability to capture commercial and industrial taxes, providing them with a lower rate. Meanwhile, Blackberry Township has limited access to commercial and industrial-type real estate.

At this point, we want to remind the public that we’re an objective news source. We received numerous emails last week questioning whether we supported the Blackberry Township road tax referendum. Of course not. We didn’t oppose it, either. As a news publication, it’s not our place to tell local residents how they should think, feel or vote. All we can do is report all of the facts we can gather and allow our readers to make up their own mind. If those facts are somehow misreported, we’ll issue an immediate correction. If those facts require further clarification, we’ll use this editorial space to communicate an explanation. We have no bias at the Elburn Herald. If we did, we would do a great disservice to everyone who reads our newspaper and online publication.

Thank you again for reading the Elburn Herald. We hope we served the Kaneland community well during its most recent election season, and we want to offer congratulations to every candidate on the 2015 Consolidated Election ballot.

Editorial: Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, April 7

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If you’ve read our pages the past two weeks, you’re aware of the fact that the Kaneland community is in the thick of several contested races, including Elburn and Kaneville village boards, Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District Board, Waubonsee Community College (WCC) Board, and last but not least, Kaneland School Board.

We’ve spent the past couple issues attempting to bring local residents up to speed on the candidates who will appear on the Tuesday, April 7 Consolidated Election ballot. And with our WCC and Kaneland candidate profiles in this week’s issue, we officially leave the fate of the candidates in these five races up to you, the voter and taxpayer.

It is our hope that our 2015 candidate profiles have provided local residents with enough information to A) understand the campaign platform of each candidate, and B) know whom they will vote for at the polls in early voting or on Election Day, April 7.

We have no horse in any race when it comes to local elections; rather, our only mission come election season is to provide our readers with facts they can use to make informed decisions at the polls. If we achieve that goal, we’re happy as clams. If we don’t, we want to hear from our readers what we can do better next time around.

It’s probably redundant for us to write an editorial about Election Day and then finish it up with a reminder to get out and vote, so we’ll go further than that: everyone in the Kaneland community should get out and vote on Tuesday, April 7, but we also encourage local residents to consider serving on a governing board, regardless of how big or small it is. Never again do we want to see local races go uncontested, or in some cases, devoid of candidates altogether.

Sugar Grove resident Mike Fagel submitted a Letter to the Editor this week, and in it is a quote that immediately caught our attention:

Every two years the public can help by making sure that there are effective candidate’s for each office, and they can choose the best public service candidates who would best serve their needs.Mike Fagel, Sugar Grove resident

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. So if you have any interest in serving your village, township, park district or library, do some research regarding the candidacy process. By becoming a public servant, you might just make your community a better place. And that’s what makes Election Day such a great event.

Happy voting.

Guest Editorial: Can I recycle styrofoam?

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by Jennifer Jarland
Coordinator, Kane County Recycles
Can you recycle styrofoam? The answer is yes. But first things first—Styrofoam is a brand name for polystyrene foam, much like Kleenex is a brand name for tissues.

What we are really talking about is No. 6 polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic foam. This kind of foam is generally found in block form in electronics or appliance boxes; as plates, bowls, cups and clamshell containers; and as packing peanuts (or as my dear aunty calls them, “ghost poop”). These shapes of No. 6 polystyrene are recyclable, but not in your curbside recycling bin, please.

It is important to note that the bendy kinds of foam blocks are not recyclable at all. The No. 6 foam blocks are generally identifiable by the way they would snap if you were to try to bend them.

I have heard that some people believe that polystyrene foam can go in the blue recycling bin at the curb, but this is not the case. The material recovery facilities do not separate this material, as it is often soiled or broken up by the time it reaches them, so it ends up as a discard at the end of the sorting process and is ultimately landfilled.

The No. 6 block foam and rinsed-clean food service items can be recycled at Dart Container Corp at 310 Evergreen Drive in North Aurora. The drop-off is open 24/7. Contact them at www.dart.biz or (630) 896-4631. The foam is not made into new foam products, but is marketed by a third-party agent to remanufacturers who make polymer-based products such as CD jewel cases, plastic screens for remote controls, and even picture frames.

Shipping and packing stores will reuse clean, bagged and unmixed foam packing peanuts. Call your local UPS or FedEx store. Or contact the Peanut Hotline at www.epspackaging.org or 800-828-2214 to find your closest location.

Also, save the date, as Kane County will include these materials in the annual Recycling Extravaganza on Saturday, June 13. We will collect clean bubble wrap, too.

As a final note, please consider avoiding the use of polystyrene, and instead use readily recyclable paper packing products and reusable washable food service items. Much of this material makes its way to the landfill or becomes a principal component of urban litter or marine debris. Polystyrene is very slow to biodegrade and can take up to hundreds of years to deteriorate in the environment or landfill.

More recycling information is available at www.countyofkane.org/recycling.

Editorial: Thank you to Meet the Candidates participants, attendees

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We used this space last week to preview and add some additional context to Sugar Grove’s Meet the Candidates 2015 event. One week later, we want to take a moment to thank everyone who helped make Meet the Candidates a fun, informative and exciting event.

First off, we cannot credit enough the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the work it does with Meet the Candidates each year. This was the 22nd installment in which the chamber has put together a candidate forum for the local community, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

We felt honored to co-sponsor the event with the chamber (our second go-around in that capacity, after the 2013 event), and we enjoyed meeting with several candidates prior to the event. Yes, some of this year’s races are uncontested, while others are teeming with candidates (Kaneland School Board and Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees, namely), but every race features candidates who care deeply about the local community and its residents.

To expand on that previous point, to have so many community-minded people in a position to serve on an education board or as a village official in this area is a luxury that shouldn’t be lost on us. Even a brief glimpse at today’s news reveals a countless amount of communities (in and out of the state of Illinois) that would give anything to feature the public servants found in the Kaneland community. The Route 47 corridor must have some sort of magnetic pull in that regard.

We also want to thank the candidates and members of the public in attendance for Meet the Candidates. And if you were someone who submitted a question for the event’s Q & A portion, we owe you thanks, as well. After all, your question might’ve be on the mind of several local residents; the answer to that question could help voters identify the candidates they’ll vote for come Election Day. Look at you and your public service.

We also want to thank our own Albert “Bo” Smith for handling the aforementioned Q & A session. Bo worked closely with the chamber and the public to help ensure an entertaining and informational Meet the Candidates 2015 event, and we’re glad to say that their time and effort paid off.

Last, we want to bring attention to this week’s Letter to the Editor section and its numerous candidate endorsements. We welcome any and all endorsement letters from the public, so if you want to speak your mind regarding the April 7 election, submit a letter via email, info@elburnherald.com, or drop it off at the Elburn Herald office inside the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, 525 N. Main St. Suite 2, Elburn. We can’t wait to read what you have to say.

Guest Editorial: The importance of enrichment

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by Donna Tate
Director of Education Programs, Fox Valley Wildlife Center

Man for centuries has enjoyed viewing wild animals in captivity. The first major example of exotic animals housed in a zoo-type setting occurred around 3000 B.C. The Egyptians maintained these collections because many of the animals had religious significance. Additionally, possessing them was viewed as a symbol of status. This mindset continued until around 1800, perpetuated by rich and royal families across Europe.

Early in the 1800s, man finally became interested in animals for scientific reasons. For the first 20 years, zoos were only open to scientists. When the public finally was granted access to the London Zoo, the local newspapers became flooded with complaints regarding the living conditions and high death rates of the animals. It was then that enclosures became more thoughtfully constructed and issues of cleanliness were finally addressed.

But animals need more. It wasn’t until the 1960s that it became clear captive creatures required more than basic sustenance. Primates housed in barren, sparse cages with only concrete floors began to exhibit odd behaviors. One anomaly was a condition called “floating arm syndrome.” One of the animal’s arms would be extended in the air, the creature apparently unaware. In vain he would then try to use the other arm to bring the wayward appendage under control. Systematically, researchers began making modifications to the animals’ environment in an attempt to find the cause. Prior to this discovery, reactions were only measured by the removal of elements such as social contact and light. These investigations marked the beginning of our knowledge of enrichment.

Many of the animals in our care reside with us just long enough to regain their previously healthy status. Most, however come in as orphans and, as in the case of raccoons, stay with us for three to four months. This is the same amount of time as the animal would have remained under the care of their parent. As these creatures grow to independence, we consistently provide enrichment to keep them healthy and happy. We use the the same approach with our permanent education ambassadors.

Enrichment can take many forms. Changing the configuration of the enclosure an animal is housed in, such as adding branches, plants or brush, will give new opportunities for climbing and privacy. We can present their normal diet in a new way, such as portions placed in a recycled egg carton or tucked into a hollow toy or paper towel tube. Success is measured by the behavior of the animals—if they exhibit conduct that is natural to their species, we know we are on the right track.

For the wildlife ambassadors in permanent residence, one-on-one time with staff is also a form of enrichment. I have had the privilege of spending many happy hours getting to know our newest ambassador, Talulah, the turkey. She is not quite yet ready for her public debut, but has been adapting well to her new normal. How do I know? One cold, sunny afternoon, Talulah stood in front of the window of our main room and began to sing—as happy wild turkeys will—and so did my heart.

Editorial: John Stewart Elementary students honor our greatest presidents

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It’s easy to associate the month of February with presidential birthdays.

Yes, we know February isn’t the month with the most presidential births (that honor goes to October, with six), but it’s unquestionably the birth month of some of the most popular executor-in-chiefs in United States history, namely George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (whose respective birthdays were combined in order to create a federal holiday), as well as William Henry Harrison (the country’s ninth president) and, last but not least, Illinois’ own, Ronald Reagan

In honor of the lofty names on the list of February presidential births (as well as the 40 presidents not on the list), we thought it would be a good idea to ask Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School students to name their favorite president, knowing full well that the answers would be interesting, surprising, insightful and, above all else, funny. We also expected their answers to be informed by what they read in history books and on the Internet, as well as what they hear from their parents. And we were in no way disappointed with the content they provided. History and politics weren’t lost on any of the kids who submitted an answer, and that’s pretty amazing.

We hope you’ll enjoy this week’s special presidential section, intended to send off the greatest presidential month of all (sorry, October) while allowing local students to show off their grasp of history. Perhaps one day we’ll add one of their names to the list of those who have served as president of the United States of America.

All the president’s men
ELBURN—Last week this country celebrated the birthdays of two of the greatest men to ever serve as president of the United States of America: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. But while those two men are undoubtedly at or near the top of every “most respected U.S. presidents” list, they’re not quite unanimous selections (although Lincoln is pretty close, as you’ll see below). The truth is, plenty of other presidents are just as beloved as the first and 16th presidents in United States history. And to get an idea of who those other presidents are, the Elburn Herald asked Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School students to submit letters noting their favorite president and the reason for their selection. Here are their responses.

“My favorite president is Abraham Lincoln because he loved kids and was smart.”
Cassidy R.

“My favorite president is Abe Lincoln because he helped end slavery.” Sean M.

“My favorite is Abraham Lincoln. I like him because he was the one who helped us.”
Jace M.

“My favorite president is Abraham Lincoln because he stopped slavery.”
Nicholas T.

“My favorite president is Abraham Lincoln because he led us out of slavery.”
Allie R.

“My favorite president is Abraham Lincoln because he liked to write poems.”
Kendall Z.

“My favorite president is Barack Obama because he won the presidency twice.”
Parker V.

“I think George Washington was the best president because he was the first president, and he led the war.” Tanis G.

“My favorite president is Abe Lincoln because he helped stop slavery.” Sedona T.

“My favorite president is Abe Lincoln because he loved reading and liked kids.”
Cody E.

“Abraham Lincoln. He freed slaves, and he also brought the United States together.”
Alexa S.

“My favorite president is George Washington because he was our first president.”
Nicklas S.

“I think George Washington is the best president because he led us through a war and taught us so much. One of the things he taught us is to keep fighting, because he did.”
Alexis S

“My favorite president is Abraham Lincoln. He treated our country respectfully and nicely.”
Lauren A.

“I think George H. W. Bush was a good president. He was nice and the 41st president. He has a good personality.”
Samantha D.

“Abraham Lincoln, because Abe was a good citizen, he believed in many things and he freed many people. He was a very honest man.”
Samantha D.

“I think George Washington is the most important president because he is the one who sailed across the Delaware River, and he was a part of how we won. That’s why he is my favorite president of all time.”
Matthew Falk
(Matthew included a ratings chart with his submission, with George Washington at 100 percent, Gerald Ford at 90 percent, Abraham Lincoln at 85 percent and Barack Obama at 25 percent)

“My favorite president is Teddy Roosevelt because he was on a motorcycle team.”

“In my opinion, I like Abraham Lincoln. That reason is because he tried to stop slavery. I hope everyone in the world thinks something special about Abraham Lincoln.”

“I think Theodore Roosevelt was the best president . He helped to save nature by helping to make the National Park Service. I think that was a very good thing to do.”

“I think Barack Obama, because he’s making this world a better place.”

“I think the best president is Barack Obama because he is the first black president and that makes him the best and special!”
Aidan S.

“I chose Abraham Lincoln because he stopped slavery, and because he was shot. He was a hero!”

“I think Abraham Lincoln, because he freed most of the slaves, and he was brave. I don’t think he should’ve been shot. He was very brave, and that’s why I like him.”
Rosie K.

“George Washington was the first president of the United States. He was a hero who was famous for his record. George Washington was a commander-in-chief of the continental army during the Revolutionary War, and one of the founding fathers of the United States community. He was born Feb. 22, 1731, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, and died Dec. 14, 1799, in Mount Virginia.”
Camber W.

“Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. I think Abraham Lincoln is the best president because he stopped slavery. Slavery is very bad, but Abraham Lincoln was brave enough to stop it. But in 1865 he was shot in the head by John Wilkes Booth. Abraham Lincoln was said to have never lied in his lifetime. Some people call him Honest Abe.”
Ali Leon

“George Washington was the best president of the United States of America, in my opinion. He bounded America and got all the states together. Also, he was an officer in the Revolutionary War.”
Thomas W.

“I think Abraham Lincoln was the best president. He ended slavery because he felt keeping slaves was not fair. He ended up ending slavery because of his smart brain and his kind personality. The tall-hatted president is on the $5 bill and the American penny. Abraham Lincoln was truly the best president.”
Paige W.

Editorial: A clarification and a reminder

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Those of you who plan to attend the Kaneland Arts Initiative’s (KAI) sixth annual Fine Arts Feast, take note: the event will take place Saturday, Feb. 21, at Open Range Southwest Grill, Golf View Road, Sugar Grove. The date of the event was previously disclosed as Friday, Feb. 20.

Regarding this year’s fine arts festivities, the event’s cash bar will open at 5:30 p.m., with dinner, program and entertainment getting underway at 6:30 p.m.

KAI Executive Director Maria Dripps-Paulson told the Elburn Herald earlier this month that the Fine Arts Feast is an opportunity to tell people about the Kaneland Fine Arts Festival. We likely aren’t revealing much to our readers by stating that the Fine Arts Festival is always a big draw for the Kaneland community and beyond. What we can tell everyone, however, is this year’s installment is set to take place Sunday, April 12, at Kaneland High School.

Feast goers should also know that this year’s event will charge for tickets (a first in the Fine Arts Feast’s six years). Tickets are $10 per person for the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet and the other activities scheduled to take place over the course of the evening. Seating at past events was limited, but families this year are encouraged to attend the feast and get a glimpse of what KAI is all about.

Attendees will also be the first to receive announcement of KAI’s summer show.
Tickets for the sixth Fine Arts Feast event are available at www.kanelandartsinitiative.org.

Arts-minded or not, we encourage everyone to attend the feast and see firsthand how hard the KAI works to make the arts and creative activity an integral part of the Kaneland community. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed in anything that comes out of Saturday’s event.

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