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From the Editor’s Desk - page 9

Editorial: Elburn Herald scholarship applications due March 1

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Students that choose to pursue higher education after graduating high school are faced with a tough challenge: to achieve the goal of graduating college, they will have to potentially take on massive debt.

The Elburn Herald offers two scholarship opportunities for Kaneland seniors (or graduates) to earn $1,000 toward offsetting the cost of higher education.

The Louise Cooper Community Service Award is in memory of Louise Cooper, who nurtured the Kaneland area for over three decades as the owner, publisher 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 a community focus. Louise 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. One $1,000 scholarship is available to a Kaneland High School senior or Kaneland graduate enrolled in a college undergraduate program. The scholarship is designed to support students who display a desire to serve their communities with integrity, compassion and courage.

The Elburn Herald Donald L. Watson Scribe Award is a journalism-specific award in honor of Watson’s development of sports coverage for the Elburn Herald. As the scribes of early journalism recorded the events of their day, Don Watson recorded the accomplishments of Kaneland High School athletes. Unable to find results of Kaneland teams in the area newsprint, Don approached The Elburn Herald in 1974 about providing such information. In December of that year, he turned in his first Kaneland sports story “Shucked in Korn Tournament,” which covered the Sycamore boy’s basketball King Korn Tournament. In his endeavor to inform Kaneland fans, he wrote about the Kaneland move into Class A and the demise of the historic Little Seven Conference. His “Knights to Kings” story recorded Kaneland High School’s first State Championship by the 1975 boys track team. In appreciation of Don’s contribution to The Elburn Herald through his sports coverage, Kaneland Publications has established this award to encourage Kaneland students to become journalistic scribes, especially in the field of sports.

If you are interested in either Elburn Herald scholarship, applications are due March 1, and should be turned into the Student Services Office at Kaneland High School.

The Herald isn’t the only local entity offering scholarships to Kaneland students. There are many local organizations that offer scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,000.

For more information on either Elburn Herald scholarships, or other local scholarships, contact Maria Mecic at the KHS Student Services Office at (630) 365-5100,ext. 213, or visit www.Kaneland.org/KHS/Guidance.

Guest Editorial: Happy birthday, Mr. President; we can still learn from you

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One year ago, our state celebrated the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan, a true Illinoisan, to recognize his accomplishments and celebrate the prosperity he brought to America.

As we now reflect on what would have been President Reagan’s 101st birthday this past Monday, it’s an ideal time to highlight his signature economic philosophies that our state could emulate as we attempt to navigate our way out of our own financial calamity. Ronald Reagan demonstrated the courage it takes to be an effective public servant.

I first met candidate Reagan soon out of college at Illinois State University, when he asked me to lead his Illinois campaign. My passion for politics and my understanding of his message of lower taxes and less government spending made my answer an easy “yes.” As the Illinois state director for then-Governor Reagan’s first presidential campaign in 1980, his wife Nancy and I traveled to many parts of Illinois in a station wagon with a California State Trooper to campaign.

America’s financial turnaround overseen by President Reagan after some very dismal years in the 1970s can help illuminate a way forward for our state leaders to avoid further financial problems in Illinois. Ronald Reagan governed from the perspective that economies flourish and jobs are created when taxes are lowered, regulations on job creators are lessened and government spending is reduced. He often left room for compromise to avoid gridlock, but he always stayed true to his fiscal beliefs. For the state to recover from its financial situation, leaders in Illinois should follow Reagan’s lead and adopt these same principles.

President Reagan was the only U.S. president born and raised in Illinois. He was born in Tampico, spent his formative years in Dixon and attended college in Eureka. The character he developed in Illinois would eventually position him as the most influential leader of the free world.

Happy birthday, Mr. President. Thank you for the life lessons. We in Illinois can learn from you.

Dan Rutherford
Illinois State Treasurer

Guest Editorial: We need to integrate people with disabilities into our communities

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by Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois

I commended Governor Quinn on his plans to close state institutions in Tinley Park and Jacksonville. While this move is expected to save taxpayers $20 million annually, that pales in comparison to opportunities this will open for people with disabilities.

This historic change in public policy embraces freedom, independence and choice. Our current system is antiquated. Only two states warehouse more people in institutions than Illinois, and 14 states have closed all public institutions. More than 30 national studies show that community living provides the most safe and effective care. Yet Illinois ranks last in the nation in the number of available community settings.

Community living offers around-the-clock care, and unlike institutions, it allows people with disabilities a personalized care plan where they can live close to family and friends and be part of a community. This is about making sure people with disabilities enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities as everyone else.

Four state institutions will remain open, warehousing 1,400 citizens. This is the first phase in transitioning people with disabilities out of institutionalization and into community care and one in which we have experience.

About half of those currently living in a community setting came from an institution or nursing home. They are proud, happy and productive members of their communities and proof that it can be done. We are committed to making sure every person makes a safe, organized and enjoyable transition into community living. Working with our partner agencies, we have dedicated staff on the ground already working with families.

We applaud Governor Quinn for including stakeholder groups like The Arc in determining a responsible blueprint to move this obsolete system into one that supports people based upon their individual needs. This is a well-thought-out plan and a victory for people with disabilities and their families.

The Arc of Illinois represents more than 220,000 people with disabilities and their families. The Arc is committed to empowering persons with disabilities to achieve full participation in community life through informed choices.

Letter: Perfect timing

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Thursday evening, while reading the guest editorial of Kyla Kruse of the Energy Education Council, I read and took a mental note of the program guidelines before a storm, and I was personally pleased to realize that I passed probably 98.5 percent of the suggestions. I hope other Elburn Herald readers did also.

Then, the next day—Friday—we were able to “test” some of these guidelines, either in our homes or in our cars with the 5 inches of snow, all within a 8 hour time frame.

Thus, a big thank you to Kyla Kruse of the Energy Education Council and the Elburn Herald, for printing these guidelines as the Guest Editorial.

Bill Wulff
Sugar Grove

Guest editorial: Stay safe and warm during winter storms

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by Kyla Kruse
Energy Education Council

Extreme winter winds, unpredictable amounts of snow and rain, and fluctuating temperatures can result in severe freezing rain, sleet and ice storms. Heavy accumulations of ice can bring down utility poles, trees and limbs—potentially resulting in power outages and property damage. In addition to shutting down power, snow and ice can make transportation dangerous, if not impossible.

All these factors make it difficult to cope with a winter storm once it hits, so preparation is essential. To prepare, the Energy Education Council’s Safe Electricity program recommends that you have the following items on hand before a storm hits:

• Flashlights with fresh batteries
• Matches for lighting candles and gas stoves or clean burning heaters
• Wood for a properly ventilated fireplace
• Prescription medicines and baby supplies
• Food that can be kept in coolers and a manual can opener
• A non-cordless telephone and/or fully charged cellular phone
• Bottled drinking water
• Battery-powered emergency lights and radio
• A home generator can also be helpful as long as you are familiar with safe operating procedures

“To be truly prepared, you need more than supplies. You need to know what to do when a storm strikes,” advised Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. “Winter storms can cause severe damage to power lines, which creates safety risks. After a storm, avoid going outside if possible.”

Downed power lines could be submerged in snow and ice, making them difficult to identify. When outside, treat all downed and hanging lines as if they are energized. Stay away, warn others to stay away, and immediately contact your utility company. Remember that downed power lines do not have to be arcing, sparking, or moving to be “live”—and deadly.

When the power is out during a winter storm, Safe Electricity suggests these tips to stay safe:
• Stay inside, and dress in warm, layered clothing.
• Close off unneeded rooms.
• When using an alternative heat source, follow operating instructions, use fire safeguards, and be sure to properly ventilate. Always keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby, and know how to use it.
• Stuff towels and rags underneath doors to keep the heat in.
• Cover windows at night.
• Keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants and people over the age of 65 are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends or relatives or go to a shelter if you can’t keep your home warm.

Winter storms can create hazardous and stressful conditions, but with the proper knowledge and preparation, you can stay safe and warm. For more information on winter outages, generator safety and more, visit SafeElectricity.org.

For further information and videos on electrical safety, visit www.SafeElectricity.org. Safe Electricity is a program of the Energy Education Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety and energy efficiency, and supported by a coalition of hundreds of organizations, including electric utilities, educators and other entities committed to promoting safe use of electricity.

Editorial: Staffing changes allows us to offer more

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Two weeks ago, we used this space to recap this past year at the Elburn Herald, as well as to introduce new Assistant Editor Keith Beebe.

This week, we would like to announce the change in position of former Assistant Editor and new Web Editor, Ben Draper.

Draper has been with the company for a number of years, joining the team in May 2005. He quickly emerged as a leader and has been highly valuable member of the team, splitting his efforts on photography, helping lead the editorial staff, and redeveloping our award-winning website, ElburnHerald.com.

In late 2008, we found ourselves wanting more flexibility and affordability than our former website developer could provide, we made the decision to stop paying someone else for something we could do ourselves. The problem was, we weren’t sure we actually could do it ourselves. That is when Draper stepped up and said he would figure out a way, and that is exactly what he did.

Our new site went live in January 2009, and since then we have won industry awards while seeing our online viewership increase dramatically. We are excited to unveil our new ElburnHerald.com site in the short future. We think our new site will be an even bigger step forward for us.

In fact, Draper has become so talented at developing and designing websites that we recently began offering those services to other businesses and organizations that also want the same combination of flexibility and affordability we desired when we decided to do it ourselves just a few years ago.

We obtained our first client even before we officially decided to offer those services to others when the then-new Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference hired us to create and design NIBig12.org.

Now, with our staffing adjustments complete, Draper will be able to fully dive into his new role developing websites both for the Elburn Herald and other local organizations.

Guest Editorial: Department on Aging offers tips to help seniors prepare for winter

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With winter temperatures finally arriving, Illinois Department on Aging Director John K. Holton, Ph.D., reminded older adults and their families to get ready for the cold weather.

Some to-do items include things to protect their homes and their health like having the furnace checked and getting a flu shot.

“The mercury is already dropping, but it’s not too late to get ready,” Holton said. “The flu season runs through April, so a flu shot is strongly recommended for people ages 50 years and older, who are considered to be at risk for influenza. And there are some practical tips for older adults, their families and caregivers who care for them to help prepare in anticipation of the cold weather ahead.”

Seniors should make sure they set their thermostats above 65 degrees. Older persons are more susceptible to fall ill during the cold winter months. People who lower the thermostat to reduce heating bills risk developing hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition in which the body temperature drops dangerously low. Also at an increased risk are older people who take certain medications, drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition and who have conditions such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

It’s important to have the furnace checked to be sure that it is in good shape and heating ducts are properly ventilated. Proper ventilation is also a concern when using alternative heat from a fireplace, wood stove or space heater. If you use heating oil, be sure that you have enough of it.

The state has a website that offers information about how to battle winter in Illinois and about available resources so seniors aren’t left to make difficult decisions, like whether to pay their heating bills or take their prescription medications this winter. For more information on how to keep warm, call 1-877-411-WARM or log on to www.keepwarm.illinois.gov.

In preparation for cold weather, the following are some tips that seniors are encouraged to do:
• Dress in layers, both indoors and outdoors.
• Keep active. Make a list of exercises and activities to do indoors when you can’t get out.
• Eat well and drink 10 glasses of water daily; stock up on non-perishable food supplies, just in case.
• Keep extra medications in the house. If this is not possible, make arrangements now to have your medications delivered.
• Have your house winterized. Be sure that walls and attics are insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. Insulate pipes near outer walls, in crawl spaces and attics that are susceptible to freezing.
• Make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water supply in case pipes burst.
• Prepare your vehicle for winter. Check wipers, tires, lights and fluid levels regularly. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal. Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season. Plan long trips carefully and travel by daylight with at least one other person.
• Protect against fire. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, buy one. Make sure space heaters are at least three feet from anything flammable. Do not overload extension cords.
• Do not shovel snow or walk in deep snow. Plan now for someone else to shovel the snow. The strain from the cold and hard labor could cause a heart attack; sweating can lead to a chill and even hypothermia.

A few more tips to keep you safe
and self-reliant in case of power failure

• If you have a gas stove and it has an electronic ignition, check to see if you can light the top burners should your power go out. (If you have an older stove, you may even be able to use your oven).
• DO NOT under any circumstances use your oven to heat your home. Carbon monoxide can build up and kill you and everyone in your home. If you have an electric stove, make sure you have food that can be prepared without cooking.
• For telephone use, always have a corded phone available. Cordless phones do not work without power.
• Have a battery operated radio (weather radio is best) so you can listen to updates on weather conditions or receive instructions on what to do to keep safe, or if necessary receive information on evacuating.

For more information about programs and services to assist older adults in Illinois and their caregivers, call the Department on Aging Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966. For TTY (hearing impaired use only), call 1-888-206-1327.

Editorial: A thank you and an introduction

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I entered 2011 with a sense that it was going to be a life-changing year for me, one way or another. I had been discussing the idea of buying Kaneland Publications Inc.—and thereby the Elburn Herald—off and on for years, and the discussions had essentially ran their course. It became clear to me that 2011 was going to either be the year that it happened, or it was going to be the year I had to move on and pursue other endeavors.

As the year and those discussions progressed, the difficult economy continued to place pressures on the paper. Like most media companies, we are understaffed; and like most independent small businesses, we have limited resources. That means the small staff we have do not receive the compensation or benefits as they might otherwise receive if they worked at one of the larger, corporate-owned media entities in our area.

Yet, for the most part, the staff remained loyal to the community and each other, and the community remained loyal to the paper. Very few staffers left the company, and our circulation and ad revenue numbers stabilized after shrinking significantly when the local economy went over its cliff a couple of years previously.

While everything did stabilize, the struggles continued and a thought began to grow in the back of my mind that maybe these difficulties were a sign that I should move on. Yet, while I struggled with that thought internally, I continued the pursuit of purchasing the company.

It seemed like every time I prepared to move on, something would occur to remind me of why we do what we do, strengthening my desire to put down roots here. I would connect with a reader about a story we wrote, or disagree with a government official about an editorial that we published, or see a reporter get captivated by a story or a photographer capture a moment perfectly.

For an individual, buying a hometown newspaper is more than a mere business investment, it is a public commitment that says that the paper and those who work so hard to put it together each week will continue to serve our communities for the years and decades to come.

It is not an asset acquisition based on a corporate financial decision made in a boardroom miles away, and our readers and advertisers are not merely numbers in a spreadsheet.

You are all real people with real lives pursuing your real hopes and dreams and overcoming your real challenges. Our focus is to live and/or work among you, sharing in your stories, reveling in your successes and supporting you in your challenges.

It was these realizations that kept me here through our challenges, and on Sept. 2, I was fortunate enough to purchase the company and put down those lifelong roots in the community.

I haven’t second-guessed that decision once, because I know I get to work with a great staff serving wonderful communities of people each day for the rest of my career. For that sense of peace, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to each member of the community and each member of the Elburn Herald staff.

One member of the staff deserves a special mention this week—Keith Beebe. He joined the staff a few years ago as an unpaid intern, desiring to practice the craft of journalism while strengthening his connection to the communities in which he lived.

After putting in his time as an unpaid intern, he left for a “paid gig” elsewhere. We were happy to have him return as a paid staffer last November, and he was happy to rejoin us.

Since then, he has steadily taken on new and more responsibilities. He has covered both the village of Sugar Grove and the Kaneland School District consistently, including the Sugar Grove Library District’s personnel issues that occurred at the same time as the village’s TIF District issues. He juggled both ongoing stories while also pursuing the stories about the people that make up our communities, and really showed what it means to care about the communities we cover and the coverage we provide our readers.

He spent this entire year emerging as a leader, and we are proud to say he has taken on a new role as the Elburn Herald’s Assistant Editor.

2011 was a crossroads year, and now that we’ve picked our path, we’re excited to grow and develop with you in 2012 and beyond.

Ryan Wells
Editor

Change of course demonstrates effective governing

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See the story: Home rule referendum tabled—for now

The Elburn Village Board changed course this week when it decided to postpone a move to place a home rule referendum before the voters during this spring’s election.

The same group of people, acting as the Elburn Committee of the Whole, had recommended approving the referendum question the week prior.

According to our story on page 1A in this week’s edition, the change was based a few factors—1) public response that demonstrated no support for a home rule measure; 2) a lack of information as to the specific potential impacts caused by becoming a home rule community; and 3) a recognition of the viewpoint that there are more significant priorities the village must face first.

The public response
There is always a fine line between an elected official pandering to public opinion and taking the public’s viewpoints into account.

On the one hand, you don’t want officials who make decisions based simply on what is the most popular option. On the other, you do want officials who take their constituents’ opinions into account when considering a decision.

In this instance, the fact that Village President Dave Anderson said he received zero feedback that the home rule referendum was a good idea—while at the same time receiving plenty of feedback that it was a bad one—makes it clear that Elburn officials are responding to public opinion without pandering to it.

It is important to note that every resident is not going to agree with every decision made by an official, but knowing that opposing viewpoints will be legitimately considered should go a long way to building a measure of trust between a governmental body and its constituents.

Lack of information
If the village had pursued the home rule referendum and it passed on election day, the village would have more taxing authority, as well as zoning authority. But what does that specifically mean to Elburn officials and residents?

Are there protective measures that the village government could take to ensure that the existing or future boards refrain from taking their newfound powers to the extreme?

At Monday’s Village Board meeting, Elburn resident Gene Taylor summed up this point perfectly: “We’re being taxed to death,” he said. “What scares me is the tax (powers). Everybody knows that once any governmental body gets the power to tax, tax, tax, it becomes abused. It’s getting to the point where enough is enough.”

One of the biggest unknowns has to do with the future: even if today’s board would act in a responsible manner with its newfound authority, how can anyone be sure what future boards would do?

Other priorities
During the meeting, Village Board member Ken Anderson pointed out that the village should focus on resolving its police pension and financial issues first, and the home rule issue could be revisited later.

With the choice that either residents will have to pass a referendum raising their taxes in a down economy or the village will have to begin figuring out how to limit the negative impacts to its essential services provided, it seems clear that village residents and their local government clearly have issues to address that will have significant impacts in the very near future.

Changing to home rule and the financial issues facing the village both would likely fundamentally change how the village government operates, and how it raises revenue to pay for it all. It makes sense to address one issue first, before tackling the other.

We’re glad to see the village take a step back and reassess if this is the right time to put the question before voters. There are many things facing both local voters and local governmental bodies.

A group of officials who recognize that more thought is needed before reacting to those challenges is a group we should be happy are in office.

Guest Editorial: A good day to celebrate freedom

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Courtesy of Ken Paulson
Ken Paulson is the president of the First Amendment Center and a founder of 1 for All.

It’s the holiday that got away.

Today is the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, a critical turning point in the history of this country and one that transformed this nation forever. Still, you won’t find any Bill of Rights greeting cards in local stores.

It’s not that Americans are short on patriotism. In fact, we celebrate Veterans Day, Constitution Day, Flag Day, Memorial Day, Washington’s Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Independence Day.

Contrast that with Dec. 15. Has anyone ever wished you a Happy Bill of Rights Day? Have your children ever participated in a Bill of Rights pageant? Not likely. As a nation, we’ve completely lost sight of Bill of Rights Day.

There was certainly a lot of enthusiasm for it in 1941 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed it a federal holiday. There was a huge celebration in New York City, with actress Helen Hayes reading the Bill of Rights and opera star Rise Stevens singing the National Anthem. All of this was capped off with a gala event at the Waldorf Astoria.

Roosevelt saw the celebration of the Bill of Rights as a weapon in America’s war against totalitarianism, describing these freedoms as a threat to the Nazis.

“To Hitler, the freedom of men to think as they please and speak as they please and worship as they please is, of all things imaginable, most hateful and most desperately to be feared,” Roosevelt said.

This nation does an outstanding job of celebrating Independence Day, but too often loses sight of how the Bill of Rights guarantees our collective freedom.

In fact, the first generation of Americans refused to ratify the Constitution until they received an assurance that there would be a set of guarantees—to be embodied in the Bill of Rights—that would protect them from a strong central government. Without the Bill of Rights, there would be no Constitution. Without the Constitution, this would be a dramatically different country.

The Bill of Rights consists of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution:
The First Amendment protects our freedom of speech, press, religion, and the rights of assembly and petition.
The Second Amendment protects our right to bear arms.
The Third Amendment is a bit dated, but bars the government from quartering troops in our homes.
The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable search and seizure.
The Fifth Amendment guarantees due process, protects us against self-incrimination and prevents the taking of our land without appropriate compensation.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to legal counsel in criminal proceedings.
The Seventh Amendment gives us the right to trial by jury in civil matters.
The Eighth Amendment protects us from cruel and unusual punishment and excessive bail.
The Ninth Amendment says that even though some rights are spelled out in the Constitution, it doesn’t mean that other rights don’t also belong to the people.
The Tenth Amendment says that any powers not granted to the United States by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the public.

It’s a remarkable list that has held up well over more than two centuries. Together, these amendments preserve personal freedom and protect us against tyranny. We need to appreciate—and celebrate—these freedoms.

To that end, a coalition of educators, artists, authors, journalists and librarians a little more than a year ago launched 1 for All, a national campaign to build understanding of the First Amendment and its role in a free society.

The nonpartisan campaign (http://1forall.us) offers teachers lesson plans, provides grants to colleges so they can hold First Amendment festivals and symposia and encourages all Americans to learn more about these fundamental freedoms.

While some of us who have made our living in the news business are particularly partial to the First Amendment, it’s important that we honor and protect the entire Bill of Rights. Weakening any one amendment weakens them all.

Today is a good day to spend a few minutes talking to children about why the Bill of Rights sets this nation apart from all others. All Americans should be proud of this singular achievement.

Roosevelt had it exactly right that day in 1941 when he said, “No date in the long history of freedom means more to liberty-loving men in all liberty-loving countries than the 15th day of December, 1791.”

“On that day 150 years ago, a new nation, through an elected Congress, adopted a declaration of human rights which has influenced the thinking of all mankind from one end of the world to the other.”

Now that’s something worth celebrating.

Guest Editorial: Fit Kids 2020 grants aim to fight childhood obesity epidemic

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Tom Schlueter
Public Information Officer
Kane County Health Department

The Making Kane County Fit for Kids Funders Consortium is pleased to announce the award of 11 grants to local agencies and community groups. The grants, ranging in amount from $1,200 to $10,000, will be used to reverse the rising tide of childhood obesity in our county through a variety of programs designed to promote active lifestyles and increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Grant recipients were chosen by the Consortium based on their proposals to implement strategies that are contained in the Fit Kids 2020 Plan. This is the second time this year that the Consortium has distributed the grants.

“Once again we are proud to support these worthy projects and we strive to end childhood obesity and reach our vision of ensuring that Kane County residents are the healthiest in Illinois by 2030,” said County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay. “The strategies identified in the Fit Kids 2020 Plan offer a solid structure that will allow us to take specific actions and provide a healthier future for our children.”

Like the grants awarded in April, the grants announced today are focused on promoting changes in community conditions that will foster active lifestyles and increase access to healthy food.

For example, the Healthy Living Council of Aurora will be focusing on Employee Wellness. Northern Illinois Food Bank will be working with local pantries and schools to expand their refrigeration capacity so that more fresh produce and dairy products can be distributed to local residents. The City of Batavia and the Batavia Public Schools will be working together to install school walking routes signage.

A grant to the Downtown Elgin Harvest Market will expand the number of Farmers Markets in the County that accept Link. Anyone approved to receive cash assistance or SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits is issued an Illinois Link card. Not only does this initiative allow lower income residents greater opportunity to purchase healthy foods, it also provides an economic boost to the local growers of the area by increasing their customer base.

A complete list of the funded projects is available.

The Fit Kids 2020 Plan was developed by parents, physicians, engineers, educators, planners, public health professionals, transportation experts, faith leaders, local policy makers and many, many more. They all dedicated their time to contribute to this important initiative because they see the value in multiple sectors working together to make substantial change. Kane County Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert states, “The Fit Kids 2020 Plan provides the framework to make the systems, environmental and policy changes needed to accomplish the goal by 2020.”

The volunteers collaborated in nine sector-specific workgroups: Built and Natural Environment, Economic Strength, Faith Community, Family, Culture and Community, Food Policy, Healthcare and Medicine, Mobility, Recreation and Lifestyle, and Schools and Recreation. Each workgroup developed strategies that: develop land use, planning and other public policies that foster and support physical activity for all in our community; support a culture of wellness and health promotion in our workplaces, schools and other institutions; assure that fresh fruits and vegetables are affordable and accessible to all families in our community; and provide parents and children with reliable, up-to-date information in multiple settings regarding healthy physical activity and eating habits.

To access a copy of the Fit Kids 2020 Plan, please visit: www.makingkanefitforkids.org/ site/data/FFK_2020_Plan.pdf. The Funders Consortium’s members are: the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, the United Way of Elgin, the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, the Kane County Regional Office of Education and the Kane County Departments of Health, Development and Transportation.

We hope to see you at the Stroll

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For so many, the Christmas holiday season begins not long after the dishes are cleaned from the Thanksgiving feast. In fact, for some, the season starts sometime that night as the rush to maximize savings begins with its annual Black Friday ritual.

For those of us at the Elburn Herald, the season starts a little bit later, when we turn our office into a life-sized Kandyland game, loosely based on the children’s Candyland board game.

The transformation begins during the week of the annual Elburn Christmas Stroll. This year, it’s set for Friday, Dec. 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. throughout the village.

Anyone who has stopped in our office this week has seen the supplies begin to build, the materials spreading out, and some—who are unfamiliar with our tradition—likely wondered, “Just what is going on over there?”

Each year since 1997 (not including the one year in which everyone was snowed in their homes and we were unable to finish the transformation), Design Director Leslie Flint has spearheaded an effort to create a magical experience for the hundreds of children who go through our little storefront at 123 N. Main St. in the center of downtown Elburn.

Whether it’s the peppermint forest, the pathway past the various Christmas trees, monster Hershey Kisses and candy bars or any of the other numerous life-sized items, we know the season has officially started when we see the children’s eyes light up as they make their way along the colored pathway.

There are plenty of other activities throughout town during the Stroll, and while all the stops in town are worth your time, we look forward to playing a game of Kandyland with you—it is designed for children of all ages, after all.

Editorial The Kaneland communities need to work together, not compete

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From a square-mileage perspective, the Kaneland School District is among the largest in the state of Illinois. Included in its boundaries are all or parts of eight different municipalities, and each have their own, unique set of circumstances and challenges.

For example, Maple Park is seeking a way to provide additional water treatment capacity. Elburn is seeking a way to fill out its partially empty commercial districts. Kaneville is seeking a way to protect its rural nature from potential future growth. Sugar Grove is seeking new commercial and industrial growth to strengthen its economic tax base that is largely reliant on residential property taxes.

Each have a unique challenge, and each are exploring unique ways to meet them.

One thing they hold in common is the Kaneland School District. As far as the district is concerned, it does not matter in which community a student resides. It costs the same to educate him or her. That is why the School District has, for years, worked with each municipality to create an across-the-board schedule of impact and land-cash fees for new development. The set of fees is based on the cost of educating an estimated number of students that would reside in each type of new home.

These fees, which can only be assessed and collected by a municipality and then turned over to the district, are designed to help off-set the financial gap that exists between when a new resident moves in to a newly constructed home and when their full-scale property taxes make it through the system.

The district has long held the belief that having a pre-determined set of fees throughout the entire district would prevent those fees from being used as bargaining chips between the municipalities and potential developers. The fear has been that a potential developer could play one municipality against another to obtain the most lucrative enticement for their development—with a reduction in impact fees being among those enticements.

The across-the-board schedule of fees has existed in the form of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the School District and each of the municipalities, with the idea that if one party pulls out, the entire agreement falls apart.

The most recent version of the IGA is set to expire Jan. 1, 2012, and Sugar Grove recently informed the School District that it would not agree to extend the agreement any further. This decision means that for all intents and purposes, the IGA is dead.

This move opens to the door to competitive bidding among the municipalities to draw in developers. The impact of this change may not be seen in the immediate future, since the economy remains fragile and development is expected to remain stagnant for at least the short-term future. However, there will come a time when the economic uncertainty lifts and developers begin to explore opportunities, and that is when each municipality in the Kaneland School District will have the ability to use the district’s finances as a bargaining chip.

Each municipality, facing its own set of circumstances and challenges, will be free to dangle impact fee reductions as a way to increase the attention from developers, in the hopes that the development plan will help solve their respective challenges.

While that may result in a “win” for an individual municipality, it will result in a direct “loss” for the School District, as well as indirect losses for all the municipalities. The direct loss would be in the form of an even more challenging financial picture for the School District, and the indirect losses would be in the form of each municipality being faced with a financially struggling school district on top of their already-existing challenges.

Add to that a general breakdown in the collaborative spirit necessary to successfully navigate through these challenging times together, and it becomes clear that Sugar Grove’s decision to end the IGA will likely create significant and long-term damage to the broader Kaneland community.

Maybe the fee schedule needs to be adjusted, and maybe there are other elements in the agreement that should be reconsidered. That being said, the worst of all outcomes is to have no agreement at all.

We urge the leaders in Sugar Grove, Kaneland and the rest of the School District municipalities to change course and find a solution that will take School District finances off the table as a bargaining chip for developers.

Editorial: Time to engage

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It has long been said that the time for citizens to impact their government is on election day, when they get to go to the polls and cast their vote, choosing who will represent them and their interests for the upcoming term.

However, there are more opportunities for the public to get involved in their government. One such opportunity is to take advantage of the opportunities to provide feedback when it is solicited.

There is such an opportunity in the next couple of weeks in Kane County, when its Quality of Kane campaign hosts a pair of open houses to solicit citizen input on the variety of studies and long-term plans the county has been working on for the past several years.

The Quality of Kane campaign, according to the campaign website www.countyofkane.org, “reflects our continuous mission to maintain and enhance an exceptional Kane County with healthy people, healthy living and healthy communities.”

The campaign covers a variety of studies and long-term plans that deal with three broad topics: Community Health and Reinvestment, Transportation, and Land Use.

We urge local citizens to get active and take part in helping shape our communities. Here are the dates, locations and times of the upcoming open houses:
• Thursday, Nov. 10, Batavia Public Library, noon to 7 p.m.
• Tuesday, Nov. 15, The Centre of Elgin, noon to 7 p.m.

Editorial: It is time to go

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Serving on local government boards is often a thankless “job.” Maybe there is a small stipend that helps cover a tiny percentage of the time spent helping serve the community—and maybe not—but even in the best of circumstances, the role is considered voluntary.

So, when citizens offer their time, we should offer our thanks in response. These are the people who work together to help strengthen our communities. Even if local government officials are disagreeable at times, even if they make decisions that some or most members of the public disagree with, the overwhelming majority of the time those officials are doing the best they can to make our communities better places in which to live and work.

Except on the Sugar Grove Public Library Board.

It is amazing to see the amount of incompetence and arrogance on a board whose primary functions should be to serve as good stewards for district taxpayers’ money and to help select and guide the leaders of the district who will help promote the library as an educational and cultural center of the community.

And yet, the Sugar Grove Public Library Board has turned itself into a disgrace, into a group in which personal grievances are what influences official decision making. The board could replace its “leadership,” President Joan Roth and Vice President Art Morrical, with a pair of 12-year-old children and one could expect an immediate increase in the maturity on the part of the board.

Essentially, the board, with no explanation at the time, fired long-time library director and community servant Beverly Holmes Hughes in July. After weeks of delay, the board gave vague, pointless reasons as to their decision, and wasted both time and money overpaying for a pair of interim directors. Finally, demonstrating a minimum ability to understand the desires of its constituents, the board recently decided to enter into mediation with Hughes, opening the door to her return, or at least a way forward.

That tiny amount of positive progress came to a screeching halt last week when the board voted 4-3 to change course and not pursue mediation. Voting to end any possible positive outcome for the library were Morrical, Roth and trustees Bob Bergman and Julie Wilson—Wilson had been the deciding vote in favor of mediation just two weeks prior.

Government officials are often tasked with the difficult responsibility to make decisions they feel are best for the communities in which they serve. Sometimes those decisions are popular, and sometimes they are not. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made that many people disagree with, and the ones who make the tough call—despite the backlash—because they honestly believe their unpopular view is correct should be applauded for their political courage.

However, for Morrical, Roth, Bergman and Wilson—the four who voted to fire Hughes and voted last week to change course and not pursue mediation—their unpopular decisions have not been examples of political courage under fire. Rather, their decisions are examples of pettiness, arrogance and incompetence.

Their incompetence has led to the very real possibility that the library will have to close for a portion of the current fiscal year, due to lack of funds. Their arrogance damaged the library’s relationship with other community organizations, ultimately leading the Library Friends group to disband. Their pettiness has damaged the fragile trust citizens have in their government officials.

There is a way for the Library Board to begin to recover what it damaged, but we do not see a way for that recovery to occur as long as those four individuals remain on the board. It is time for Morrical, Roth, Bergman and Wilson to put the community’s interests before their own, and realize that the best thing they can do for the library, and the district as a whole, is to no longer be affiliated with either.

We urge them to step down, as soon as possible.

Even if we disagree with decisions made by officials, as long as those officials are making their decisions with the community interests at heart, we can agree to disagree. We do not believe those four are making decisions with the district’s interests at heart, and the moment that is no longer the driving force behind your volunteerism is the moment it is time to resign.

Guest Editorial: What do our children see, and how do they perceive it?

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by Vicki Wright, CEO
Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois

What did we see today? And more importantly, what did our children see today?

Kids today spend upwards of 10 hours a day engaged in recreational media, and with the advent of laptops, smart phones, tablet computers and online learning, there is a growing, urgent need to examine what they think about what they see. And that’s exactly what Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois has partnered with the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) to do.

Reality TV has become staple entertainment for young people and adults alike. According to Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV, a national survey recently released by GSRI, the vast majority of girls think reality shows “often pit girls against each other to make the shows more exciting” (86 percent). In a survey of more than 1,100 girls around the country, GSRI found that the most popular genres of reality TV are competition (“American Idol,” “Project Runway,” etc.) and real life (“Jersey Shore,” “The Hills,” etc.). Many girls think these programs reflect reality, with 75 percent saying that competition shows and 50 percent saying that real-life shows are “mainly real and unscripted.”

While many in society might view reality TV as a relatively benign phenomenon, GSRI’s research shows significant differences between those girls who consume reality TV on a regular basis and those who do not. Of girls surveyed, regular reality TV viewers differ dramatically from their non-viewing peers in their expectations of peer relationships, their overall self-image, and their understanding of how the world works. GSRI’s findings also suggest that reality TV can function in the lives of girls as a learning tool and as inspiration for getting involved in social causes.

Girl Scouting uses this research to impact programming and advocacy efforts. For example, Girl Scouts addresses media literacy through the new leadership journey series, It’s Your Story—Tell It! by encouraging girls to examine the images they see and reminding them that “Healthy MEdia” begins with ME. And Girl Scouts has crafted the “Healthy Media for Youth Act” to encourage policy makers to support media literacy efforts.

For 100 years, Girl Scouts of the USA has been leading the charge to serve girls across the world. As our girls, and our world, have changed, so too has our organization, tackling complex issues that impact girls’ healthy growth and development. Today, our girls’ lives are increasingly lived in tandem with a robust media presence.

By encouraging our girls to understand the media images they see, we can assist them in understanding and building relationships with their peers, have high self-esteem, learn about health and safety, have fun and discover the world around them.

Editorial: What communities do

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Kaneville is a small community; the type of community in which the local church keeps its doors open to continue that sense of being open and inviting to those who seek a spiritual connection.

Earlier this month, someone took advantage of that sense of openness and robbed the Kaneville United Methodist Church.

Each year, the church holds an annual supper and bazaar, and members of the church put together themed baskets to be raffled off. The proceeds from the event, including the raffle, would go to help support the church.

Those baskets went missing early in October, and with less than two weeks before their annual event, the community did what close-knit communities do: they came together.

Through word of mouth, as well as on Facebook, news of the theft spread through the community and beyond, and church member Sandy Gould told Elburn Herald reporter Keith Beebe (see story) that within five days, new baskets began showing up at the church.

By the time the community was done supporting the local church, 32 new themed baskets, plus a separate $200 donation from a member of the general public (who was not a member of the church), had come through the door.

This type of action is what communities do—they come together and support each other when something negative happens. The flip side to that coin is that they are also there to share in the joys when something positive happens; and many times, like with the Kaneville United Methodist Church, it is those community members who take a negative, come together and turn it into a positive.

This is an example of those “small-town values” that are often referred to and difficult to define. For those who do not live or work in a close-knit community, it is something that is hard to understand.

Therefore, it is important to point it out when it happens. It is important to shed light on the community acts of kindness that occur so often, and nearly as often go unrecognized. To those who are part of close-knit communities, “small-town values” do not need defining—they are just the way people live.

Guest Editorial: I need your advice

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by State Sen. Chris Lauzen
25th District

Sorry to have to ask, but I need your help. I voted “No” on SB1652, the Electrical Energy Infrastructure Improvement Program. Although I agreed with its objectives of strengthening reliability, reducing outages, and stabilizing rate-setting procedures, I thought that the initial proposal’s cost was too expensive. SB1652 passed the Senate and House over my objection in close votes. Governor Quinn vetoed the bill, and I anticipate that we will vote on a “veto override” motion in the Senate within the next month.

The general impact of the legislation is good, but the initial interpretation of how the utility rates and increases would be set was incorrect. That original impression was that utility rates and the ensuing increases would be automatic, which is very bad, in my view. However … the utility rate review process would become a stable and methodical annual process rather than one that leads to spikes and troughs. We want reliability and stability, but we don’t want to overpay.

Unfortunately, the cost issue boils down to facts about definitions of complicated financial measurements of return on investment. When I first learned that the “return on equity” for the infrastructure improvements would be 600 basis point (6 percent) over the 30-year government bond interest rate (currently, approximately 4 percent), I said, “Whoa Nellie, no one gets 10 percent on their investments these days!” Therefore, I voted “No.”

However, after deeper study of what statistics I ought to be using to make an accurate assessment, I have learned that there is a substantial difference between “return on equity” and “shareholder return.” Knowing that these statistics can be as different as watermelon and oranges, that knowledge doesn’t make it too much easier for me to understand. I asked one expert, “If it’s this hard for me to distinguish after a lifetime in finance and accounting, how are my constituents … who are busy with raising families, running small businesses, and fighting hard to just make ends meet … going to assess the fairness of this proposed legislation?”

One way of better understanding what something like “return on equity” is, is to understand what it is not. Return on equity is not the interest rate that Commonwealth Edison pays to its bondholders. This statistic is currently approximately 6.2 percent for all maturities and going down as new bonds at lower rates are issued in an environment of declining long-term interest rates.

Return on equity is not a “shareholders return”. Shareholders return is dividends paid and appreciation of stock price divided by a company’s average share price in any year calculated.

Return on equity is a financial statistic that divides net income by a company’s book value. Ugh!

Sometimes it is easier to understand something by comparing size relative to similar things. For example, if I take a basket of all the Illinois Standard and Poor Companies (i.e. Boeing, Baxters, Abbott, Walgreens, Illinois Tool Works, Motorola, Tellabs, etc.), ComEd’s regulated-rate return on equity is one-sixth to one-half as much as the average. Its profit margin is also one-third to one-half what the average of these Illinois S&P companies is … so lower.

Then I looked at 315 return-on-equity utility rate-making decisions over the past 10 years in the United States and found that the mean average was 10.55 percent, the statistical median (just as many decision are lower than higher) was 10.5 percent, and only 40 were less than 10 percent. Looking at 59 utility rate-making decisions in Illinois only, the average was 10.35 percent, the statistical median was 10.26 percent, and 75 percent of the cases in 2010 allowed returns on equity of more than 10 percent.

One more consideration that makes this even more complicated is that the 30-year government bond interest rate could change. With the depressed condition of economic activity and low employment, the rate could stay the same or go down. But at the rate that the U.S. federal government is printing money and depreciating our currency, rates could go up. Also, predicting which way interest rates will go over the eight to 10 years that this legislation is in effect, we need to analyze the impact of European, Asian, and other markets’ currency and interest rate trends. No wonder they call predicting interest rates a “fool’s errand”.

If your eyes haven’t glazed over or if you haven’t flipped past this article to the sports or comics, would you do me a favor and call/e-mail me at (630) 264-2334 or chrislauzen@lauzen.com in order to share your thoughts before I am required to vote on your behalf?

Guest Editorial: Democracy depends on responsible news consumption

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by David Porter
David Porter is the Director of Communications for the Illinois Press Association, which represents more than 480 newspapers in Illinois.

You alone are responsible for the news you consume. If I have only a few moments of your time, that’s the message I want to drive home.

You can talk about bias in the media, shortcomings among news staffs, fragmentation of audience, conspiracy theories and the boogey man, but at the end of the day, it’s nobody else’s responsibility to decide for you what is true, what is propaganda and what is opinion. You alone are responsible for the news you consume.

There’s an old saying that applies across many different platforms: Garbage in, garbage out. How are you going to make informed decisions on whom to vote for, what stocks to invest in, what foods to eat, what gasoline to buy, when to buy a house, what school your kids should attend or which horse to bet on if you only rely on snippets of information—often bias-based— that make their way to your ears and eyes?

That’s the world we live in today. A few years ago, a college student was anonymously quoted as saying, “If the news is that important, it will find me.” But as Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can travel halfway ’round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” That was before the Internet. Now the Internet includes this quote facetiously attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “Most Internet quotes are not accurate.”

It’s hard to know what the truth is sometimes. A manufacturer with a vested interest in a product may tout its benefits that run contrary to a scientific study. On the other hand, some studies have been shown to use improper methods or to draw unfair conclusions. Whose job is it to decide what is true? It’s your job. You alone are responsible for the news you consume.

So a political candidate says something bad about another candidate. The other candidate fights back with allegations of her own. Whose job is it to decide what the truth is? You alone are responsible for the news you consume.

There is help, though, and you’re holding it in your hands. It’s not the newspaper’s job to decide for you what is true, but newspapers, more than any other medium, strive to use reliable, accurate sources and to fairly provide all sides to any given story. It’s still up to you to decide what the truth is. Frankly, I think if you’re going to participate in the democratic process, you have an obligation to decide what the truth is. Otherwise, democracy becomes a dangerous game of Russian roulette.

Oct. 2-8 is National Newspaper Week. What a perfect time to take a new look at your local newspaper and to include it as part of your personal arsenal against misinformation. Don’t take chances with your news diet; add a little newspaper fiber. After all, you alone are responsible for the news you consume.

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