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From the Editor’s Desk - page 6

Editorial: Welcome to the 2013 spring election

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The Elburn Herald last Thursday ran a preview of its 2013 spring election coverage by taking a look at the Sugar Grove village president race between incumbent Sean Michels and his challenger, 14-year village trustee Kevin Geary.

This week, our election coverage is in full swing, featuring in-depth coverage of local village president, village board, township and fire protection district races, as well as the contested race for the Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees. The races featured in this week’s issue aren’t as hotly contested as the Michels/Geary showdown in Sugar Grove, but there’s plenty to learn about the candidates seeking contested local seats this spring.

For example, you’ll find in these pages an in-depth look at the Village Board race in Sugar Grove, featuring five candidates (three of which are newcomers) in the hunt for three open trustee seats. All candidates offered their views regarding topics such as the video gaming referendum, the idea of re-entering an intergovernmental agreement with the Kaneland School District, and the current state of business and growth in the village.

SG board candidate Gayle Deja-Schultz told the Elburn Herald that, due to the village’s variety of lengthy or overly complicated procedures, many businesses have found Sugar Grove “difficult to work with.” Deja-Schultz said that, if elected, she would passionately investigate these allegations and review all government processes to insure that they are streamlined as effectively as possible to provide businesses with a welcoming environment, yet still facilitating responsible growth within our community.

Elsewhere in this week’s issue is coverage of the Kaneville village president race between incumbent Rick Peck and challenger Patricia Hill. Peck has served as interim village president since the passing of former village president Bob Rodney in July 2012.

Peck told the Elburn Herald that he has begun to personally experience the importance of the leadership role while serving as interim village president.

“I have been a successful leader in my career, and know that I can accomplish the same as village president,” he said. “In the last four years as trustee and president, I have worked to successfully implement solutions to difficult tasks.”

Hill is no stranger to the Kaneville community, either, thanks to the numerous local activities in which she participates or volunteers.

“The job of village president is one that is of leadership, responsibility and for the good of the people in the town. It also involves fiscal responsibility to its citizens,” she said. “I care about the town of Kaneville and its future. I want to keep it small-town America.”

Lest we forget the race taking place in our own backyard, featuring four candidates—two incumbents, two newcomers—competing for three open seats on the Elburn Village Board. All four election entrants—Kenneth Anderson, Jeffrey Walter, Pat Schuberg and Michael Rullman—spoke to the Elburn Herald about their feelings regarding the role of trustee, as well as their thoughts on the Elburn Station development.

“At this time and in these economic times, I believe the Anderson Road bridge project is the most important thing that could happen, and it will provide an immediate benefit to the residents, emergency services and others,” Anderson said.

All of the above is, of course, just a snippet of the Elburn Herald’s 2013 General Election preview this week. We invite you to dig in and learn more about local races on the General Election ballot, as well as the candidates who want to represent the boards, townships and districts nearest you.

Happy 2013 spring election season, and don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, April 9.

Corrections:
In the “Round two for village budget” story on Page 1A of the March 28 edition of the Elburn Herald, Bill Grabarek’s quote stating that he’s never been in a gunfight was incorrectly attributed to Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith.
The Elburn Herald wants its news reports to be fair and accurate. If you know of an error, please contact:
Keith Beebe, Editor
123 N. Main St., Elburn, IL 60119
e-mail: info@elburnherald.com
phone (630) 365-6446

Editorial: Every vote counts on Election Day

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Presidential Election years consistently have a much stronger voter turnout than off-year elections.

Yet, the decisions made by local elected officials have far more of an impact on the day-to-day lives of residents.

From some perspectives, it is easy to understand why the situation is what it is. Turn the TV to any national news channel, and within a few minutes some talking head will discuss an issue and its impact on national elections and politics. Find an online general news source, and chances are the same will occur—a significant focus on national issues and politics.

It is true that the president is the leader of the free world, and therefore the issues at that level, and the elections that feed into that position, should get significant coverage. However, it is difficult to go one day of news-consumption without a reference to a presidential election years in the future, while we remain in the first year of the current presidential term.

Meanwhile, local government seats often go unopposed. In some cases—like some races in this year’s election—there are not enough candidates to fill the open seats.

If the past is any indication, voter turnout will be relatively small on Election Day, meaning a tiny fraction of the general, voting-eligible population will dictate who serves in what local capacity.

These are the people who determine what your hometowns will look like in the near- and long-term future. They pass land use plans, they approve annexation agreements, they approve whether or not impact fees will be assessed on new homes and earmarked for local schools. They create a direction for those local schools, that township, village board or library. They are responsible for determining how effective local government spends your tax dollars. In our part of Illinois, that means they spend the property taxes that almost everyone complains about being too high.

We urge every voting-eligible resident to get informed and vote on Tuesday, April 9.

But your responsibility as a local citizen doesn’t end there, in our view.

We urge you to stay informed, attend your local meetings, get to know the people who often have to the make the tough calls absent a large amount of feedback from a large-enough percentage of the voters he or she may represent.

Then, when the next local election rolls around, if you feel that those currently sitting in their seats failed to do the job at or above your expectations, then we urge you to step forward and put your name up for election.

In our opinion, every local race should be contested, and there should never be more openings than people willing to sit in those seats. This is not because we feel the people currently serving need to be replaced. Rather, it is because we desire such a level of public engagement and desire to serve our local communities that the voting public is consistently presented with a choice between two or more people, instead of many races being unopposed or even unfilled.

The races that are contested this year include areas that are in a pivotal time in their development. Elburn just passed a significant development that will vastly change the scope and size of the community. Sugar Grove is seeking a path forward to complete developments that stalled due to the economy, as well as seeking an interchange between Interstate 88 and Route 47. Maple Park and Kaneville are facing decisions about how to provide services with limited budgets while retaining their small-town amenities. The Kaneland School Board will continue to face budget issues while attempting to improve its educational outcomes.

Every community, every unit of government is facing vital decisions in an uncertain time, from a broader economic perspective.

We hope that the people who will fill the contested seats are there because a majority of a large turnout of voters informed themselves and made an educated decision.

Be one of those educated voters on Tuesday, April 9.

Guest Editorial: Women and Sunshine Week

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by Maurine Beasley, professor emerita at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park

As we celebrate Women’s History month, we should pay homage to a resolute group of women who deserve recognition during Sunshine Week, another March event. Sunshine Week calls attention to journalists who courageously brought to light information that governmental and other authorities prefer to keep hidden. Their notable ranks include women who have insisted for nearly two centuries on their right to cover the nation’s capital in spite of prejudice against their gender.

Three decades before the Civil War, Anne Royall, an impoverished widow, started her own newspaper, Paul Pry, in Washington. As the name implied, she had no hesitancy in exposing abuses of power such as unauthorized use of government horses and carriages by public officials.

Ridiculed as unwomanly and argumentative, Royall eked out a meager living as a Washington journalist for nearly a quarter-century, ending her career in 1854 with a prayer that “the union of these states may be eternal.” She had only $.54 when she died at the age of 85.

Her successors also encountered hostility on grounds they had no place in the man’s world of political reporting. In 1850, Jane G. Swisshelm, the first woman journalist to insist on sitting beside men in the Capitol press galleries, had to give up her seat because she dared publish unseemly details of the private life of Daniel Webster, one of the most famous senators of his day.

Women did not actually find a place in the press galleries until the suffrage campaign that culminated in women getting the vote in 1920, but even then they were not always welcome.

Although women replaced men in Washington journalism during World War II, when it ended, editors resumed hiring practices that relegated many women journalists to social reporting.

Relatively few women had access to news that told the public about the activities of its officials. In the 1950s, however, Maxine Cheshire, a social reporter for The Washington Post, investigated Mamie Eisenhower’s acceptance of gifts from foreign governments. Cheshire was among 10 Washington women journalists profiled in a 1972 Cosmopolitan article headlined “The Witches of Washington,” which pictured its subjects as competitive and unfeminine in their pursuit of news. Women were refused membership in the prestigious National Press Club until 1971, and allowed to cover speeches of officials there only by sitting in a hot, crowded balcony, while men reporters took notes and dined in comfort below.

When federal equal employment legislation took effect in the 1960s and 1970s, women journalists got new opportunities to cover the same assignments as men. But they still encountered barriers, including sexual harassment. Eileen Shanahan, an economics writer for the New York Times from 1966 to 1977, described flagrant examples of harassment on Capitol Hill in an oral history interview.

Today, women are estimated to represent about half of the Washington press corps and have proved themselves capable of carrying on the highest traditions of journalism. For example, Dana Priest of the Washington Post is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Along with Anne Hull, she exposed the degraded living conditions for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center, which led to the resignation of top officials and improvements in health care for veterans.

She previously uncovered secret overseas prisons that the Central Intelligence Agency used for interrogation of suspected terrorists.

Somewhat akin to Anne Royall nearly two centuries earlier, Priest is motivated to bring an abuse to light as a way of ensuring that democracy continues. In a television interview on secret prisons, Priest said, “We tried to figure out a way to get as (much) information to the public as we could without damaging national security.”

Women have fought hard and responsibly for the opportunity to report significant news from Washington.

Editorial: Maple Park, Sugar Grove introduce candidates to the public

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Maple Park on March 6 hosted a Meet the Candidates event at the Maple Park Community Center as a way to introduce its Village Board candidates to residents. Public turnout for the event wasn’t what Village President Kathy Curtis and staff had hoped for (less than 10 residents were in attendance), but that didn’t stop the candidates from discussing their individual platforms and vision for the village.

Brian Kinane, who is running for a four-year seat on the Village Board, told the Elburn Herald that he thought all of the candidates were sincere in their statements regarding the village of Maple Park. Curtis said that it was exciting to have seven people vying for five open seats on the board.

Despite the lackluster attendance number, we applaud Maple Park for putting forth the effort to give residents a chance to meet and interact with the candidates who could very well represent the village after next month’s election. It is our hope that more residents will attend future Meet the Candidates events in Maple Park and embrace the opportunity to see and hear village candidates as they define their platform and explain how it can benefit the village. When it comes to elections, the more information on the table, the better. That’s why any village’s Meet the Candidates event is so important, and that’s why Maple Park should absolutely continue to host such an event.

Sugar Grove held its Meet the Candidates event on Tuesday evening at the Sugar Grove Community House, and offered the opportunity for residents to hear from candidates running for seats on the Fire Protection District, Park District, Library Board, Kaneland School Board, Community House, Waubonsee Community College Board, Township and Village Board. Village president Sean Michels and his challenger, village trustee Kevin Geary, were also on hand to introduce themselves to the public in attendance and offer their thoughts on topics such as re-entering an intergovernmental agreement with the Kaneland School District and their overall vision for the village.

“We have to keep moving forward, and I think we have that vision in place. We have our long-range plan that shows where we want retail development, business development, our train stations, things like that,” Michels said during the event. “We need to continue to bring in businesses and rooftops so that we can see this vision grow.”

The event also provided residents with a look at the candidates running for township supervisor (Harry Davis, Scott Jesseman, Curt Karas and Tom Rowe), and Village Board trustee (Robert Bohler, Gayle Deja-Schultz, Sean Herron, Stephanie Landorf and Rick Montalto).

“People want to see growth within the community. I personally don’t only want growth, but I want to see responsible growth in the community,” Deja-Schultz said during the Q & A portion of the event. “That means businesses that come (to the village) are good for our community.”

The Elburn Herald had the privilege of co-sponsoring the Meet the Candidates event with the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and would like to thank the chamber and Sugar Grove residents for making Meet the Candidates night a success.

We also want to say congratulations to both Maple Park and Sugar Grove for choosing to give its residents a chance to learn more about the candidates whose names will appear on the ballot next month. When a village makes the effort to educate the public about its candidates, everyone wins.

Guest Editorial: Sunshine Week 2013 to launch with new website, renewed partnerships

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by David Porter, director of Communications and Marketing, Illinois Press Association

Sunshine Week is set for March 10-16, and already there are plans across the country for events spotlighting open government, for special news reporting and for the release of freedom of information studies.

The Illinois Press Association has renewed its partnership with the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to promote awareness of open government efforts in Illinois. ASNE and the RCFP oversee the national coordination of resources and provide support for participants. Sunshine Week 2013 is made possible by a continuing endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has funded Sunshine Week since its 2005 launch, and by a 2013 donation from Bloomberg LP.

“The Reporters Committee is pleased to again be a co-sponsor of Sunshine Week. Our ongoing mission is to ensure that government at all levels remains transparent for the public and for reporters in all platforms. This is a great opportunity to engage many different partners in open government education and discussions,” said Reporters Committee Chairman Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for The National Law Journal.

Since the nationwide Sunshine Week was launched by ASNE, participants have included print, broadcast and digital media outlets; government officials at all levels; schools and universities; non-profit and civic organizations; libraries and archivists; and interested individuals. Everyone is welcome to participate and may use the resources provided on the website to mark their open-government efforts that week. The Reporters Committee has been a national co-sponsor since 2012.

“Of course open government is important to journalists. But even more, open government is really at the heart of democracy by giving citizens the information we all need,” said ASNE President Susan Goldberg, executive editor of Bloomberg News in Washington. “ASNE is proud of the work our members have done in creating and launching Sunshine Week over the years. It’s among the most important work we do.”

Editorial: Think like an optimist

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by Mark Underwood, neuroscience researcher, president and co-founder, Quincy Bioscience
Have you ever wondered how some people manage to be in a good mood all the time? What is it that they know that you don’t about seeing the glass as “half full” instead of “half empty?”

Many people work at getting physically fit, but not everyone practices “mental fitness.” Many don’t consciously know how to keep a positive attitude going in spite of problems we all come up against.

So what are these happy thinkers doing that many people are not? Let’s start with lifestyle. No matter where you live or what chapter of your life you’re in, it’s easy to get the doldrums from time to time. In some parts of the country winter blahs are blamed while others lead an overly scheduled lifestyle which brings on daily challenges.

Research has found that the difference between people who remain cheery when faced with challenges that life doles out and those who can’t switch off negative thoughts, is the difference in mindsets.

David Snowdon, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, has said that when optimists face problems they are able to “switch off” negative thoughts and “switch on” a happy state of mind.

Health benefits for optimists
Optimism is good for you health; pessimism is not. Stress can be harmful, yet it is nearly impossible to avoid. As we age, the effects of stress take a greater toll on our health, from increasing cholesterol to disrupting sleep.

Individuals that turn a difficult situation into a workable solution may actually be protecting themselves from the harmful effects of stress and other health problems.

A 2011 Harvard School of Public Health study found a significant increase of risk for various health problems including heart disease in people with negative outlooks.

Studies have also shown that people who can see humor in difficult situations where others see only anxiety and failure benefit from keeping a light-hearted outlook.

Living life like the way you want
There are various degrees and forms of negative thinking, but results are often the same. It can destroy motivation and energy, concentration skills, and feelings of self-worth. For some people, they’ve lived for years with a constant lack of positive thoughts. Instead, they have replaced them with continual negativity.

Living like this is difficult especially if you do so every day of the week. Negative thoughts may make you want to avoid deadlines and responsibilities. You put off daily tasks like cooking and cleaning and feel like not going to school and work.

Tips for ramping up positive thinking
It’s one thing to say to say you want a positive attitude, but it’s another thing to practice optimistic thinking when times are tough. How do you go from complaining to having a sunny disposition?

Like most things, the more you practice the better at it you get. Open the door to being more enthusiastic about life. The more you consciously put positive thoughts in your head, the more intuitive it will get.

Positivity may be easier than you think because you can practice it anywhere, anytime without any special equipment or training.

Use these tips to start being a new you.
• Listen for negativity. Find one place in your daily routine where you often run into negativity. Listen for your internal voice emerging that is looking at troubling news as failure. Ignore it. Change the channel and find a new internal voice that says, “I will get through this and in the meantime, I’m grateful for what I have.” Do this daily.

• Learn to laugh. Laugher is one of the most enjoyable ways to let the day’s stressors melt away. Humor has been studied extensively for its major effect on our well-being. As social beings we thrive with positive contact with others. Make sure you have people in your life that make you laugh and can help you lighten the day. Positive people are contagious.

• Do something nice (and unexpected) for someone. Research studies have found that five good deeds a day can make you happier. Look for ways to go out of your way to be kind to someone. It could be something simple like opening a door for a shopper whose hands are full or signing up to be a volunteer at a local organization that gives back to the community.

• Exercise for mind and body. If you feel fit and healthy, you’re much more likely to want to feel up beat less and less likely to wallow in everyday problems. Exercise has a profound effect on our ability to cope with stress. Exercise elevates our moods and helps fuel positive thinking.

Positive thinking is about placing your mind in readiness to find the good and upbeat in negative situations. It is not just window dressing for a problem—it is a technique as well as a lifestyle that can potentially change your life for the better.

Editorial: Elburn Herald hosts SG village presidential debate

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The Elburn Herald on Feb. 13 hosted a Sugar Grove village presidential debate between the incumbent, Sean Michels, and his challenger, village trustee Kevin Geary.

Both participants met at the Herald’s new location, 525 N. Main St., in Elburn, and proceeded to spend the next 40 minutes debating topics such as government transparency, village growth and business, video gambling, the Mallard Point/Rolling Oaks drainage issue, and the possibility of re-entering an intergovernmental agreement with the Kaneland School District.

The Herald hosted the debate as a way to kick off it’s role as co-sponsers in this year’s Sugar Grove Meet the Candidates Night, which will take place on Tuesday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sugar Grove Community House, 141 Main St.

The debate between Michels and Geary was video recorded as a way to provide Sugar Grove residents with a fair and quality look at the two village president candidates in action. The entire video will be available on our website, ElburnHerald.com, beginning Friday.

Michels during the debate stated that the village has done a number of things to reinforce open and honest government, including posting Village Board meeting agendas and minutes online, as well as the distribution of a village newsletter and email blasts directed at village residents.

“A number of board members are involved in local activities, such as (Kaneland) Sports Boosters, Chamber of Commerce, the church (and) Lion’s Club,” he said. “Our board gets out and socializes a lot with the residents to get a feel of what’s going on.”

Asked about the element of transparency on the Village Board, Geary stated that the board has a responsibility to explain to the public “why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

“The village is not mine. The village belongs to all the citizens of Sugar Grove. Everything the village does should be done in plain view,” he said. “The law does provide for things—absolute lawsuit conditions allows for the (Village Board) to go into closed sessions; it also allows for employee issues (that) go into closed sessions. I think that this is an area that is used quite a bit … almost, maybe, (in) excess.”

On the topic of video gambling in the village,
Geary said he is neither for not against it.

“In the law that the state crafted, they left the decision up to its citizens as to whether they wanted to allow gambling within the community or not … I am for the people,” he said. “My position has always been (to) let the residents decide what they want (and) how they want to decide this issue.”

Michels said he doesn’t condone video gaming, but thinks it should be allowed to put Sugar Grove village businesses on the same playing field as other businesses in the area.

“It was disclosed today that at (the former) Blackberry Inn, they’re seeing revenue generated about $20,000 a month off of the (video gambling) machines that they have,” he said. “To the restaurant bar, they get about a 35 percent cut, which is about $7,000. Right now, that’s a significant amount of money.”

Michels has served as village president since 1999, the same year Geary first took office as village trustee.

Editorial: The joy of Valentine’s Day

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It’s here again—the holiday that combines the anxiety of a job interview, the gift-giving doubt associated with Christmas, and the meal indecision (and follow-up guilt) experienced by most Buffalo Wild Wings patrons.

Of course we’re talking about Valentine’s Day. Twenty-four hours of chocolate, flowers, steak and lobster, and Redbox movies (rom-com’s only, naturally). Get this day right and you’ll be nominated for Significant Other of the Year. Get it wrong and, well, let’s just say it will lead to an unpleasant outcome. Our advice is that you get it right.

For such a simple, Hallmark-manufactured holiday, Valentine’s Day is easily the most nerve-wracking day of the year for any respectable male interested in keeping his girlfriend, fiance or wife. The requirements of this day seem easy enough: flowers and chocolate, a nice card (typically one that would absolutely get you de-friended on Facebook if it fell into the hands of your close buddies), a thoughtful gift (preferably one not associated with sports or super heroes), a semi-fancy dinner (pizza and drive-thru need not apply) and perhaps even a movie.

Valentine’s Day rarely goes that smoothly, however, and it seems like men experience the same problems year after year: flowers that die almost immediately, poor choice of chocolate (learn to distinguish between peanut and peanut butter M&M’s, guys), cards that are more jokey than sentimental, the purchase of a gift at the 11th hour (she will know if you put off buying her gift until the last minute, trust us), lame choice of restaurant and even more lame choice of movie.

Yes, for such a simple holiday, Valentine’s Day is even simpler to screw up.

If only we could go back to the days when Valentine’s Day was a simple, straightforward affair. As long as you had enough Valentines for your entire elementary school class, you were golden. No flowers, no real gifts, just little paper cards with friendly greetings and pictures of Care Bears (people still give out Care Bears valentines, right?).

Valentine’s Day sure is hard work in these times, but amidst all of the flowers, sugar and dinner reservations is the fact that this holiday is about man operating in his most selfless form. That’s why he’s willing to buy overpriced flowers and cheesy cards, and why he smiles relentlessly while footing a dinner bill that literally blasts his wallet to bits.

After all, Valentine’s Day is about the woman in his life, and she’s absolutely worth the money he spends and the minor embarrassment he suffers on this holiday built on love, commitment and “I Choo-Choo-Choose You” valentine cards.

So embrace this holiday, guys. Life is much simpler when you’ve been nominated for Significant Other of the Year.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

Editorial: Healing with horses

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We’ve all heard about therapeutic horseback riding and how it can work wonders for adults and children with disabilities. However, you can’t really appreciate the miracle-like benefits of therapy riding until you hear a parent give a testamonial to the way in which equine therapy has improved their child’s condition, outlook and overall quality of life.

At that point, you understand.

That’s what happened on Saturday during Blazing Prairie Stars’ Mardi Gras fundraiser, held at Riverside Receptions in Geneva. Several volunteers and parents of clients spoke during the event—one volunteer stated that she got involved with the organization as a way to continue the work her best friend had done with disabled children prior to losing her life in a car accident last year; several parents told stories about how much their children have developed mentally and physically during their time with Blazing Prairie Stars. And every speaker echoed the same sentiment: Blazing Prairie Stars does extraordinary things for extraordinary adults and children alike.

Blazing Prairie Stars and fellow Maple Park-based equine therapy organization HorsePower Therapeutic Riding seek to help disabled adults and children rehabiliate and develop physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially through the experience of therapeutic horseback riding. Both organizations’ equine-assisted therapy has helped ease the condition of those who suffer from autism, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, bipolar and anxiety disorders, cerebral palsy, brain trauma, sensory integrative dysfunction, etc.

The results, as evidenced during Blazing Prairie Stars’ gala on Saturday, and HorsePower’s fundraiser at St. Charles Bowl on Jan. 19, are nothing short of astounding. These horses and trainers are really helping kids and adults with disabilities—every day, and in our own backyard, no less.

In addition to the occupational, physical, and speech and language therapies offered by both local equine therapy barns, participating kids and teens can also further develop by socially interacting in groups with peers and horses who are the same age.

The service and goodwill doesn’t stop there, either. HorsePower co-founder Carrie Capes last June said her highest goal is to provide therapeutic riding to people with disabilities, regardless of their ability to pay.

“Our dream is to have a sliding scale,” she said at the time. “This community is helping to make that happen.”

And just when you thought you’d seen everything.

Editorial: Three-part effort needed to solve parking lot problem

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Last week, we used this space to clarify the difference between editorial writing (which includes our opinion) and news writing (which does not).

We also shared our opinion on the closure of one of Elburn’s downtown businesses, and alluded to our opinion on what we feel is the primary cause for that closure: the downtown Elburn parking lot issue.

It would be easy to point the finger at one person or entity and say that he, she, or they are the reason downtown Elburn faces an additional struggle, beyond the general economic climate, due to the lack of adequate parking.

It would be easy to lay the blame solely at the Community Congregational Church’s (CCC) feet for closing the lot they privately own. It would be just as easy to point the finger at the village of Elburn for declining to purchase the lot and keep it open for downtown parking. It is also easy to blame the downtown businesses themselves for not being able to provide their own parking.

In fact, in the Jan. 10 edition of the Elburn Herald, Village President Dave Anderson expressed that point of view.

“If you’re going to open a business, it’s your responsibility to provide parking for that business. That’s not just Elburn, it’s everywhere,” he said. “In downtown Geneva, basically, the only lots that they have that the city owns are the ones by the train station. They have the on-street parking obviously, but everything else downtown are privately owned lots.”

As the former longtime owner of The Grocery Store in downtown Elburn, he should have a more realistic opinion of the situation, in our view. He knows well that the buildings in downtown Elburn, on the east side of Main Street, were not built with adequate parking behind them. In Geneva, the lots behind the downtown business exist because there was space to include them. In that part of downtown Elburn, there is no space to provide additional parking.

Besides the municipal lot located a block off Main Street, and the private lot owned by one downtown business, the east side of downtown has enough room for about six parking spaces. To enter the downtown businesses from those spaces, a customer would have to either enter through the back of the business, walk through the closed parking lot, or walk around the block to get back to the front of the downtown businesses.

Given that, even if, theoretically, downtown businesses should be responsible for providing their own parking, it is not physically possible to do so.

If the businesses themselves cannot add parking possibilities at their respective locations, then the following questions must be answered:

1) If the situation remains unchanged, is there adequate parking in downtown Elburn?
Obviously, if the answer to this is “yes,” then there is no issue and everyone is happy.
We know the answer to this question is not “yes,” because if you ask the downtown businesses (as we did), you will find overwhelmingly that those businesses need more parking in downtown Elburn.

2) Who is responsible for providing the additional parking?

The answer to this remains unclear. Even though CCC owns the currently vacant parking lot in downtown Elburn, it should be obvious that they have no legitimate responsibility to provide the downtown with parking.

All that is left, then, is either the village or the downtown businesses.

Our view is that the answer to that question is “both.”

We think the village should be supportive of all of its communities, and that includes its downtown business district. This is both a sound philosophy in general, as well as having a purely financial element.

Financially, the more successful Elburn businesses are, the less tax pressure is felt by the village’s residents.

Similarly, the downtown businesses should be engaged in the situation and willing to help the process along (and we know they are, having been one of them for years up until our recent move to the Elburn and Countryside Community Center).

This means that both entities have a role to play.

Like just about everyone, the village continues to face a budget crunch as the economy continues to struggle. It is unfair to expect the village to simply purchase the lot in order for it to remain open for the downtown business’ benefit. This would, in effect, require every Elburn taxpayer to subsidize the downtown business district.

In a time where every dollar counts, this alternative does not seem feasible.

What does seem feasible is a group effort in which the village provides the structure and administration, the downtown businesses provide the funding, and the church provides the openness to an alternative that may not be a simple outright sale of the property.

Each of the three entities—the church, the village and the group of downtown businesses—will have to be willing to come to the negotiating table with something to offer.

The church needs to offer a willingness to work out a solution that may not mean they get to sell the property outright, or at least not sell it at the value currently listed.

The village needs to offer a willingness to be engaged in the process in a real way—which means beyond the village president saying the village is not interested in helping find a solution, and beyond having a representative organize a couple of meetings (one of which a village representative did not ultimately attend, which forced members of the Elburn Herald to attend in their place, asking for and ultimately obtaining a delay in the parking lot closure).

If the village president continues to hold firm to the view that the village has provided adequate effort to secure enough parking for downtown, and that whatever else is needed is solely the responsibility of the businesses themselves, then it is time to bypass the village president and attempt to work directly with the members of the village board to find a solution. If a workable solution is available, enough votes on the Village Board makes the village president’s opinion irrelevant.

If the other two of the three parties bring their respective pieces of the puzzle to the table, then the downtown businesses need to be willing to come with money in hand.

How much money and paid over what length of time would need to be determined, but the only way forward is for downtown businesses to be willing to pay for that lot.

Maybe the village can create a TIF District or some other funding vehicle, but no matter the structure of a deal (the village’s part in the process), the acceptable terms of a deal (the church’s part in the process), the downtown businesses are going to have to be willing to pay for the deal (their part in the process).

Anything short of that, and the amount of progress made in the past several months will continue to be the amount of progress made in the future—none.

When the Elburn Herald was among the group of downtown businesses, we offered to contribute to the group effort. We know for a fact that others did, as well. More recently, Randy Ream of the Elburn Market put in a bid on the property outright, which met the church’s approval. All that remained was jumping through the hoops presented by the village’s codes and requirements, which proved to be insurmountable. Because of that, Ream pulled out of the deal, and the situation remains the same as it has since the beginning.

That dynamic will need to change if any progress is to be made.

Editorial: Editorial writing vs news writing, and our view on what is ‘progress’

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(file photo)
At the beginning of this year, we wrote a story in which we talked to various Elburn village officials to find out their views and thoughts on the upcoming year (see “Elburn looks ahead to the new year” in the Jan. 3 edition of the Elburn Herald, or find it online at www.elburnherald.com).

In that story, they talked about the potential Elburn Station development, the potential Anderson Road bridge project and the village’s overall financial struggles.

In addition, they shared their views of the general business climate in the village.

Village President Dave Anderson pointed to a number of things that made him feel as if there were signs that the local economy is beginning to turn around. He listed a handful of examples that led him to that perception: expansion at Schmidt’s Towne Tap and Bob Jass, the pending opening of a pancake house, and the pending sale and change of the Northside Pub.

“These are all positives for the village,” Anderson was quoted as saying in our story. “Businesses have indicated they like it here, and they believe Elburn is headed in the right direction. They’re an integral part of it.”

Those two paragraphs sparked a piece of feedback that we feel warrants a clarification. The feedback (viewable on our website), states that the Elburn Herald should be ashamed to say that the closure and sale of a local business is “progress.”

We want to make two things clear: we did not state the opinion that we view the business’ closure as “progress,” and at no point did we state our opinion in that story. The simple reason is: that was a news story, and in news stories, we report the facts and opinions held by others, and keep our opinions to ourselves. We do not inject our opinions into our news coverage; we do not allow any staff member’s view to influence what stories are written, nor how those stories are written.

We simply try to seek facts and report what we find out. If someone else shares their opinion, we will report what they tell us.

Our printed opinion is reserved for this space—the editorial (and in the occasional column when it is clearly labeled as such). Anything we write in the paper outside of the editorial and occasional column is us reporting on the views, statements and facts that we find as our team finds them.

So, to be clear: we do not view the closure of the Northside Pub as an example of “progress” in the village. Incidentally, we don’t believe that was what Village President Dave Anderson was trying to say, either, but that is beside the point.

Our view on the issue is that we feel the Northside Pub owners and staff are the victims of the unresolved parking lot issue that has been going on for months in downtown Elburn (see “Church parking lot issue remains unresolved” in the Jan. 10 edition, or find it online).

As former neighbors of the Northside Pub, we know well how much harm the parking lot closure caused. We saw the initial worry turn to actual fear, then turn into tears.

This is not progress, nor a positive for the village.

Anytime a small business closes its doors for good, it is a loss for the entire community. It represents jobs lost, opportunity taken away. It means someone’s, or a group of someones’, livelihood is gone, and their lives forever changed.

We are sad at the news that the Northside Pub will soon be gone, and our sadness is nearly matched by our frustration that this turn of events did not have to happen.

See next week’s editorial for our take on the downtown parking lot situation.

Guest Editorial: Savvy entrepreneurs play by different rules in uncertain times

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by Ginny Grimsley
National Print Campaign Manager, News and Experts

As we pass the five-year anniversary of the start of the economic recession in December 2007, many observers focus on what was lost:

• 8 million jobs
• 146,000 employer businesses
• 17.5 percent average individual earnings

But the businesses that survived the “Great Recession” and are thriving today didn’t focus on losses then, and they aren’t now, said Donna Every, a financial expert who has published three non-fiction business books and recently released her first novel, “The Merger Mogul.”

“The entrepreneurs who are successful during times of uncertainty are so because they don’t rely on the standard approaches they’d use in predictable times, and they look for opportunities—the positives—in situations that would have been considered negatives five years ago,” Every said. “It’s similar to how we deal with the weather. In places where it’s sunny most of the summer, we wouldn’t leave our house each morning packing coats and umbrellas just in case. The weather’s predictable. But in the winter and other seasons when the weather can quickly change, we head out with a different mindset.”

For businesses, switching gears to deal with inclement economic conditions involves adopting new perspectives and practices, she said.
What are some of those strategies?

• Build on what you have, not toward what you want. Instead of setting goals and then seeking out the resources you’ll need to meet them, assess what you have available and decide what you can achieve with that. This not only saves you the time and expense of pulling together resources you may not have, it also gives you the advantage of working from your business’ individual and unique strengths.

• Follow the “Las Vegas rule.” Tourists planning a weekend in Las Vegas will often set aside the amount of money they’re willing to gamble—and lose—on cards or the slots. That way, they won’t lose more than they can afford. During an uncertain economy, entrepreneurs should calculate their risks the same way. Rather than going for the biggest opportunities as you would in prosperous times, look for the opportunities that won’t require as much of your resources. Calculate how much you can afford to lose, and always consider the worst-case scenario.

• Join hands and hearts. Competition is fine when things are going well, but when times are tough, you need allies. Explore forming partnerships with other entrepreneurs so you can strategize to create opportunities together. With what your partners bring to the table, you’ll have more strength and new options to work with.

• Capitalize on the unexpected. Surprises can have positive outcomes if you handle them nimbly by finding ways to use them to your advantage. Instead of planning damage control for the next unexpected contingency, look at it as an opportunity. Get creative as you look for the positives it presents.

• When life is unpredictable, don’t try to forecast: Focus on what you can do and create now rather than what you can expect based on what happened in the past. In good times, that information can be a helpful and reliable way to make predictions, but savvy entrepreneurs don’t count on that in uncertain times.

“While the U.S. economy certainly is improving, there’s still too much uncertainty both here and abroad to go back to the old ways of doing business just yet,” Every said. “If you’ve survived the past five years, you’ve probably been relying on many of these strategies, maybe without even realizing it. Don’t abandon them yet. And if there are some here you aren’t using, work toward incorporating them, too.”

Editorial: Local municipalities look to build on 2012 achievements in new year

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What do Elburn Station, Internet over fiber and TIF District activity have in common?

All three are projects that could very well determine whether 2013 is a successful year for the villages of Elburn, Sugar Grove and Maple Park, respectively.

In Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill’s 2013 preview for Elburn, village trustee Jeff Walter states that he and other board members have suggestions that can improve the Elburn Station plan, which could lead to the board eventually approving the item. Village President Dave Anderson added that the village should do everything possible to get the Anderson Road bridge completed.

In Sugar Grove, high-speed Internet is the holy grail, and the village is hoping to bring in an Internet over fiber connection that would put lightning-fast connection speeds at the fingertips of village residents. In Elburn Herald reporter Chris Paulus’ 2013 village preview, Sugar Grove board member Dave Paluch states the faster data speeds would help the village attract bigger businesses.

“It would also be great for our residents to take advantage of the fastest data speeds available,” Paluch said.

In Maple Park, a successful 2012 could give way to an even more fulfilling 2013 if the village sees some activity in its newly implemented TIF District. Village President Kathy Curtis cited the TIF District as an achievement for Maple Park, but said she was disappointed in the lack of activity within the TIF District.

“It is unfortunate that the TIF District has not had projects. We implemented the district with hope of generating new revenue streams to be re-invested in our infrastructure,” she said.

That inactivity could of course change in 2013. Still, Curtis said the state of the economy means that the village should move forward cautiously with the TIF District.

As for Kaneville, interim Village President Rick Peck was unavailable as of press time. A 2012 retrospective and 2013 preview for the village is currently in the works.

Here’s to a happy and successful 2013 for the villages of Elburn, Sugar Grove, Maple Park and Kaneville. We’ll be here to document their progress every step of the way.

Top 10 of 2012: The most-viewed stories on ElburnHerald.com in the past year

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As web editor, I get the unique opportunity to see just how folks like you view ElburnHerald.com. We use Google Analytics to anonymously track how our visitors use our site, and in turn, we get to see what stories and articles were the most popular. It’s been immensely helpful as I tackle the project of redesigning ElburnHerald.com going into 2013.

Our top 10 most-viewed stories from 2012 touched it all: local hot-button issues, police-related articles, community groups linking to articles about them, and what I can only call the “power of Google.”

10: ‘Miracle’ Meagan turns 3 (Nov. 15, 2012)

The 1,696-member Meagan Seals Miracle Baby Facebook Group linked to our article in November, leading to this story cracking the top 10.

9: Church moves forward with lot closure (April 13, 2012)

An early-year local issue that caused a stir in Downtown Elburn. The lot remains closed.

8: Comcast Sportsnet Chicago to air ‘IHSA Playoff Pairing Release Show’ Oct. 20 (Oct. 20, 2012)

Google search traffic helped boost this press release into our Top 10. People were looking for information—specifically what channel to to tune into if they had Comcast, DirecTV, etc.

7: Aurora woman gets prison term for fatal crash on Route 47, Smith Road (Feb. 17, 2012)

Alia Bernard was sentenced to 7 years for causing a crash that killed Wade and Denise Thomas. Bernard filed a motion to reduce her sentence in March, and the Chicago Tribune reported in August her sentence was in fact reduced to 6 years. A cautionary tale that distracted driving is extraordinarily dangerous.

6: Obituary: Brett Richard Brubaker (June 14, 2012)

Overall, obituaries are our most-viewed content on ElburnHerald.com. Brubaker was a 1980 Kaneland graduate was very well-connected in the community.

5: Elburn Station project Chugs along (April 13, 2012)

To call this issue hot button would be an understatement. In fact, even after the issue was tabled in October, a trustee recently proposed opening up discussions in early 2013.

4: Body found on side of Meredith Road identified (July 19, 2012)

Learn more about Joyce David here.

3: Darden Restaurants grants $1,000 to Lazarus House (Aug. 12, 2012)

Turns out there are two organizations called “Lazarus House” in Jersey City, NJ., and San Francisco. People from those two locations viewed this story a lot.

2: Barefoot collgians (April 28, 2012)

It looks like the keywords “barefoot” and “library” have brought users from all over the world to what was a press release from Aurora University we published since it featured a Sugar Grove resident.

1: 2 Elburn Residents charged with cannabis trafficking (Nov. 21, 2012)

It was interesting that our top story is also the most recently-posted of the 10. A lot of search traffic led to many visitors for this regional story.

Guest Editorial: Memory and Holiday Overspending

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by Mark Underwood
President and co-founder of Quincy Bioscience

In the 1971 hit song, “Sunshine,” one of the lyrics asks, “How much does it cost? I’ll buy it.” A quick sale like that is a good sale for advertisers, but may not be for your wallet.

Do you have problems resisting the lure of great sales? Do you go shopping with the intent of browsing but come home with an abundance of goods that put you in debt more than you bargained for?

The temptation to give in to greatly slashed prices, one-day-only sales, “early bird” deep discounts, free items with purchases over $100, and other such ploys to get you to buy more is prevalent and tempting over the holidays.

What can you do to enjoy the holidays but keep your spending in check?

For many people, the pattern of overspending is how they’ve been shopping all their lives. If they see something they want, they buy it regardless of the financial outcome. Until they get the credit card bills in January and wonder what got into them in December?

You can call it a lot of things—lack of wisdom, lack of planning or a lack of understanding of their family’s financial situation.

But most importantly, you should call it poor “executive function,” a term well known by scientists who refer to an ability to multi-task, make good decisions, plan ahead, prioritize your needs (versus your “wants,” as in overspending), and carefully weigh options.

A series of new research from Aberdeen, Scotland, has shown that if you have problems sticking to a plan like a holiday budget, don’t blame perpetual sales gimmicks that pop up everywhere you look. Instead of blaming the power of advertising, you could blame your lack of willpower on what’s going on with your memory.

Take control of your brain power
Wouldn’t it be great if you had more control over your finances especially during the holidays?

Research has found that poor executive function is the reason why it is difficult for some people to resist temptation and keep on track with a plan compared to people who have excellent executive function.

While executive function includes such things as planning and carefully considering options, it also includes having a prospective memory. That is defined as having a sharp recall ability to remember to do things or say “no” to other things like buying things you don’t need.

People who have poor prospective memory often don’t have sharp concentration and recall skills and that may factor in to forgetting or foregoing their budget when they go shopping.

The message is that when you take care of your brain health you will have better willpower. Cognitive performance, memory and willpower go hand-in-hand.

Put yourself on a ‘sales diet’
Holidays present challenging times for shoppers regardless of what your budget may be. It’s hard to resist pre- and post-holiday sales, many of which are fraught with urgency.

How do you exercise willpower when so many sales opportunities are offered on almost anything, any day of the week? Shoppers are constantly presented with opportunities to get deep discounts by mail, email and media advertising.

How do you take charge of your willpower so you don’t get stuck with huge credit card bills after the holidays are long gone?

Go on a spending diet and do it sooner rather than later. Here are some tips for making this holiday season a success.

With improved executive function, you will make better choices like these:

Ask yourself if you would buy a specific item if it were full price? If the answer is no, you may be reacting to a sales push instead of making a good buying decision.

Delete unsolicited sales emails or big discount offers that come in the mail. Unless you’re planning to make a specific purchase and you find out it is on sale, carefully weigh the consequences of unplanned purchases.

Make lists. Go shopping at the mall, online or to holiday events with a list of what your total budget is that day.

Jot down a maximum price that you’ll pay for holiday gifts. Keep looking at the list then stick to the plan.

Work on willpower. You can do that with healthy lifestyle habits like eating nutritious meals, cutting back on holiday sugar, exercising and getting enough quality rest.

Even the best laid plans can crumble when you feel exhausted and stressed and aren’t getting a good night’s sleep. When you have better executive function, you’ll make better lifestyle choices, and then you’re on your way to resisting temptations.

Editorial: Holiday hope serves as light during our darkest hour

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Throughout the history of the United States, there have been too many examples of horrific, senseless violence resulting in the deaths of innocent people. These are the kinds of acts that shock people in this country to their very core and force them to reconsider everything they think they know about the world around them.

Many of us remember the anguish and horror we felt when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed on April 19, 1995. Many of us—students and parents alike—were forever scarred by the murderous events that transpired at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., on April 20, 1999. Many of us felt time stand still when the Twin Towers and Pentagon were attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Many of us gasped in horror when Virginia Tech University experienced a mass-shooting tragedy on April 16, 2007, and were reduced to tears when Northern Illinois University—an institution right in our own backyard—experienced a similar tragedy 10 months later.

Those same feelings crept up again last summer when a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., transformed into a mass-shooting nightmare. And then those feelings came slamming back without warning last Friday when Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., became the setting for a horrific and simply unspeakable shooting spree that took 26 innocents lives—20 of whom were children no older than 7 years of age.

The Sandy Hook tragedy occurred at a time when this country is typically readying itself for Christmas and the holiday season as a whole. In the wake of such a heartbreaking event, many of us are no longer thinking about Christmas and New Year’s, presents and party hats, pie in front of the fireplace and champagne at midnight. How does one celebrate the holidays when they know there are families in Colorado and Connecticut who are now dealing with the reality of life without their child or loved one? How could we celebrate anything—much less a time of year built on cheer and goodwill—under these circumstances?

On the contrary, we believe that this country needs the holiday season now more than ever as an opportunity to begin the healing process by way of spreading both holiday hope and genuine kindness. This is a time when we should all stop and take a moment to appreciate everyone—family, friends, neighbors, even enemies—in our respective lives. At a time of year when the shopping is hectic and tempers are toxic, we must forgo the angry and petty behavior and instead strive to be the person who can help get others through a dark time such as this. At a time when finances can run slim, we need to take a step back and realize how fortunate we are to have our loved ones either within arm’s length or just a phone call away. There are people in this country who, as of last Friday, can no longer enjoy such a seemingly simple pleasure.

We’ll certainly see several debates come about as a result of the Sandy Hook tragedy—debates regarding gun control and practices concerning mental disorders. Those debates are bound to be hot-button issues. However, they shouldn’t prevent us from being decent to each other. In fact, nothing at this point should prevent us from being decent to each other.

At a time like this, the relationships we keep shouldn’t just be the most important thing—they should be the only thing. And that’s why it’s so important to use this holiday season as a time to heal, regroup and get in back in touch with the things that really matter in life.

Here’s to a happier 2013.

Editorial: A thank you to residents for making Kandyland 2012 a success

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The Elburn Herald would like to say thank you to everyone who participated in the Kandyland event during the Elburn Christmas Stroll on Friday evening. This was our first Kandyland at our new location in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, and we were unsure of how local residents would respond to a world of life-sized candy and wonder in the Community Center’s dance studio.

That sense of uncertainty proved unnecessary, as public turnout for the event was phenomenal, making it one of the most successful Kandylands in recent memory.

The change in venue actually turned out to be an excellent perk, as many residents were able to attend the Holiday Bazaar in the Community Center gymnasium, and then scoot over to play Kandyland next door. Location wasn’t the only change made to Kandyland this year, either. New wrinkles in the Kandyland experience, including a green “instant win” piece and a white “wild card” piece, made the game a little fresher and more fun. These changes were clearly popular with the kids who participated, as the expression on their face was as joyous as ever.

Those expressions are absolutely the reason we continue to host Kandyland each year. To know that we’ve helped make the Elburn Christmas Stroll a little more fun for local residents—children and adults alike—gives us a feeling of warmth, appreciation and purpose that lives on long after the Christmas Stroll ends and our Kandyland trees and props are put away for the year.

We would like to give a special thank you to the Elburn and Countryside Community Center for helping us continue on the Kandyland tradition within our new digs. The staff here was incredibly helpful and supportive from set-up to tear-down, and we couldn’t have done it without them.

A very special thank you goes to Elburn Herald Design Director Leslie Flint, who always strives to put together the best Kandyland yet. Flint puts countless, grueling hours into coordinating and staging Kandyland each year, and she is absolutely the heart and soul of the event. We shudder to imagine what Kandyland would look like without Flint’s input and design know-how.

As the Elburn Christmas Stroll gives way to the rest of the holiday season, we prepare ourselves for Christmas and New Year’s while also keeping an eye on December 2013. Needless to say, we can’t wait for the next installment of Kandyland.

Guest editorial: Celebrating the First Amendment

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by Ken Paulson, president and CEO of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University

The hardest line to sing in the “Star-Spangled Banner” is also the most important. “O’er the land of the free …” with its character-building high note, has been the bane of even professional singers.

That’s probably appropriate. Becoming “the land of the free” wasn’t all that easy, either.

On Dec. 15, America will commemorate the 221st birthday of the Bill of Rights, the most extraordinary and influential guarantee of individual freedoms in world history.

Every school kid knows that this nation was founded on freedom, but sometimes we lose sight of the details. Building a nation from scratch, promising a democracy and ensuring certain inalienable rights were all both ambitious and unprecedented. And though we declared our liberty in 1776, it wasn’t until the ratification of the Constitution in 1789 and the commitment to specific individual freedoms in the Bill of Rights in 1791 that we were truly on our way to a more perfect union.

Over time, the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, press, religion, petition and assembly helped abolish slavery, secure the vote for women and establish equal protection for all. Yet surveys show that only 4 percent of Americans can identify all of these core freedoms. A majority, when asked, can come up with only freedom of speech. That is particularly disappointing when you realize how rare these guarantees are globally.

In recent weeks:

• In China, a tweeted joke about a popular horror-movie series and an upcoming Communist Party Congress led to an arrest on charges of supporting terrorism.

• In India, the Information Technology Act criminalizes the posting of “any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character.” The restriction was applied last month to two women for a post and “Like” on Facebook.

Repression, censorship and attacks on minority faiths are commonplace worldwide. Even nations that regard themselves as free and open societies often fail to protect controversial ideas and viewpoints.

In the U.S., our guarantees are so vibrant and effective that we tend to take them for granted. Unfortunately, complacency isn’t good for a democracy.

In an effort to build greater appreciation for First Amendment freedoms, a coalition of educators, journalists, artists and others have come together to form “1 for All,” an educational campaign. The First Amendment Center, Knight Foundation, American Society of News Editors, McCormick Foundation and the Newseum have teamed up to help a new generation of citizens more fully appreciate these freedoms.

Part of that effort is a scholarship competition which began on Saturday and will continue through Saturday, Dec. 15 (the First Amendment’s birthday). Students are encouraged to tweet about their favorite of the five freedoms, becoming eligible to compete for a $5,000 scholarship. Details can be found at 1forall.us.

The next time you hear the national anthem wind down to that final line, and before you restore your cap and pick up the beer cup, you might want to say a quiet thanks for the many who made “land of the free” more than a hard line to sing.

Whether fighting on our front lines or taking a stand for equality and justice, whether carrying a rifle on a foreign shore or a protest sign on Main Street, millions have made this land of freedom possible through their sacrifices and commitment.

Now that’s something worth singing about.

The right way to ring in the Christmas season

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Of all the great debate topics in this country (Pepsi or Coke, Bears or Packers, G.I. Joe or Transformers, etc.), perhaps the most underrated is the question of when the Christmas season should officially commence.

Some people believe Christmas becomes a priority the moment they begin putting away Halloween decorations; others wait until the day after Thanksgiving to tee off on all things Christmastime. Neither date is technically wrong (though it’s certifiably weird to hear Christmas music in McDonald’s on Nov. 1). However, we believe November should belong to turkeys and autumn colors, not snowmen and mistletoe.

And that means the Christmas season should officially dawn in early December, which just so happens to be the time when Elburn and Sugar Grove host their Christmas Stroll and Holiday in the Grove festivities, respectively.

Holiday in the Grove will kick off on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 8 a.m., and offer plenty of family-friendly activities at the Sugar Grove Community House and John Shields Elementary School.

Santa will be on hand at the Community House to have breakfast with children and adults alike at 8, 9, 10 and 11 a.m. Games and crafts will also be available. Kaneland John Shields Elementary School, meanwhile, will feature fun crafts and a Holiday Shoppe where kids can stealthily get their Christmas shopping done.

The Sugar Grove Public Library will get in on the holiday action at 9 a.m. with teen-approved crafts, face-painting, pizza and holiday movies, a chance to read to therapy dogs, and afternoon performances by Western Lights and Kaneland Madrigals.

Six days after Holiday in the Grove, Elburn will get a chance to spread some holiday cheer with its annual Christmas Stroll on Friday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. throughout downtown Elburn.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will appear at the Town and Country Public Library and have their picture taken with children in attendance. Elburn Fire Protection District will offer a safety house and tree-burning demonstrations. Conley’s annual “Blessing of the Manger” dedication will take place at Route 47 and Pierce Street. Elburn Hill Church will present a Christmas Cafe, and the Citizen Emergency Response Team Trailer will be on the Main Street in front of American Bank & Trust, offering up balloon creations. Participants can also head over to the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, where Jewel-Osco employees will be on-hand to enjoy some cookie and wreath decorating for the kids.

Plenty of fun will be had at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, with a Holiday Craft Bazaar presented by the Elburn Chamber of Commerce, as well as our own life-sized Kandyland game for children, adults and everyone in between. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to travel to dwell in Kandyland and feel dwarfed by giant-size decorative candy bars, this is absolutely the game for you. Best part: every participant is a winner.

A visit to either (or both) of these village events should be enough to convince anyone that December is the right month to commence dreams of a winter wonderland. And with the turkey and Black Friday super-doorbuster deals in the rear view mirror, it’s officially time to focus on ringing in the Christmas season.

Editorial: Many reasons to give thanks on Thanksgiving

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It’s funny how one’s perception of Thanksgiving will develop during their life.

For many children, the Thanksgiving holiday represents a nice, long break from school, as well as the opportunity to consume some pretty tasty food in honor of the pilgrims who dined in Plymouth almost 400 years ago. Maybe these kids will get a chance to see a movie and do some shopping with their parents on Black Friday; maybe they’re excited to see the holiday parades that typically take place the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

For teens and young adults, Thanksgiving can take on an entirely different life. There’s still a mighty long break from school, but with the great food comes the opportunity to watch a Detroit Lions loss (in horrific fashion, typically; sometimes to the extent that their players have no choice but to repeatedly stomp on players from the opposing team), and a flavor-of-the-week act performance during halftime of the Dallas Cowboys game. If these teens and young adults are hardcore football fans, they’ll resist post-dinner sleepiness just enough to watch the third game of the day. Otherwise, they’re either off with friends for the night or planning out an unbeatable Black Friday shopping strategy with family members.

At some point, however, a person will realize that, while it’s nice to spend Thanksgiving overdosing on football, turkey and ‘80s film marathons (no truth to the rumor that TBS is legally obligated to air “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Adventures in Babysitting” on the fourth Tuesday in November each year), the true meaning of Thanksgiving lay in the company we keep on that day.

Thanksgiving, stripped to its core, is about more than simply giving thanks for what we have; rather, it’s about giving thanks for those who we have in our lives—the people who help us keep perspective and understand that friendship is indeed the richest currency in existence. This was what the pilgrims celebrated when they dined on that fateful day in 1621, and it’s an example that still carries validity centuries later.

Friends and family make it possible to endure a heavily edited airing of “The Breakfast Club.” Most important, they make it OK to overeat and then overeat some more.

This Thanksgiving, take a moment to appreciate the most important people in your life, and revel in the fact that your loved ones appreciate your presence in their life, as well.

After all, your friends and family aren’t coming over to watch the Detroit Lions lose, they’re coming over to spend the holiday with you.

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