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Editorial/Opinion - page 2

Letter: A thank you from Elburn Food Pantry

in Letters to the Editor by

The Elburn Countryside Food Pantry sincerely thanks Elburn area residents for their food donations, and the letter carriers for their work in collecting the food for the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. Eighteen-hundred pounds of food was collected by the carriers.

We would also like to thank Boy Scout Troop 7 for its help in transporting, sorting and shelving the food at the pantry.

Thanks to everyone involved for their generosity and support of the Elburnand Countryside Food Pantry.

Rita Burnham
Elburn Countryside Food Pantry

Letter: Worker’s comp laws shouldn’t discourage business

in Letters to the Editor by

Worker’s compensation, a system that arose in the early 1900s as a compromise between business and labor, is a form of insurance providing partial wage replacement and medical benefits to employees who are injured on the job. In exchange for this compensation, employees forego their right to sue their employer for damages.

The Worker’s Compensation Act in Illinois has grown over the years into one of the most expensive in the nation, and high insurance rates for companies are forcing many businesses to leave the state. A reform law was passed in 2011 that made a number of changes expected to lower insurance premiums. Workers had to prove the injury occurred on the job, limitations were placed on selection of doctors, medical fees were lowered and a national standard for permanent partial disability benefits was adopted.

In the resulting four years, premiums in Illinois have dropped from third highest in the nation to seventh. However, businesses had expected greater savings from the reforms and still report that worker’s compensation is the No. 1 barrier to doing business in Illinois. Governor Rauner has responded to this issue and included further worker’s compensation reform as a part of his Turnaround Illinois agenda.

House Speaker Madigan quickly convened a rare Committee of the Whole meeting last week, where all members were present to hear testimony on worker’s compensation. It was obvious from the secrecy about who would testify that the house speaker was not trying to open the discussion to workable solutions, but rather prove the necessity of worker’s compensation for injuries.

There were nearly 20 witnesses who gave testimony and answered questions for well over seven hours. It was grueling for both those who testified—some coming from Indiana and Oklahoma—as well as for the listener.

Many were there to tell lawmakers not to lower injured worker’s benefits as has been done in other states. Greg Baise, president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, testified that business groups do not want us to model ourselves after states that have lowered benefits. I agree with Baise that instead, we in Illinois should focus on the litigation process and examine why it takes some workers years to get their settlements. Our focus should also be on reducing fraud, cutting the fees paid to some medical providers, getting mediators more involved to resolve differences and fully adopting the national standards for injury compensation.

Legitimately injured workers need our protection, and they can benefit from more streamlined procedures. Our laws, however, should not make it harder to do business in Illinois.

Bob Pritchard
State Representative, 70th District

Letter: Support the Sugar Grove Farmer’s Market

in Letters to the Editor by

The Sugar Grove Farmer’s Market will begin on Saturday, June 7, 8 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of Sugar Grove Village Hall, Route 30 and Municipal Drive. The market operates rain or shine, and will take place every Saturday, June through September.

Veggies, fruits, beef, chicken, lamb, honey, artisan baked breads, organic treats, cupcakes, cheese, salmon, eggs, native plants and more await those who attend the Farmer’s Market.

We thank the village of Sugar Grove for hosting the market in the Village Hall parking lot, and we also thank the Sugar Grove Fire Department for allowing additional parking in their lot.

For more information on the market or how to become a vendor, contact Pat Graceffa at Also visit the Sugar Grove Farmer’s Market Facebook page, and make sure you “like” our page so you get our weekly updates. Market applications can be found on the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce website,

We need the community’s support to keep your Sugar Grove Farmers Market in operation.

Pat Graceffa
Sugar Grove

Letter: Thank you from Friends of T&C Library

in Letters to the Editor by

Thank you to everyone who supported the Friends of the Town & Country Public Library’s 12th annual Flower and Plant sale May 8-9. The event was held inside the library, 320 E. North St., Elburn.

We appreciate the support of our community making this flower and plant sale even more successful than last year’s event. Varieties of flowers and plants of the 149 dozen sold included geraniums, Gerbera daisies, tuberous begonias, petunias, ivy, coleus, spikes and sweet potatoes. For the first time, 10-inch mixed combo hanging baskets were offered, and we sold over 50 of them.

The proceeds from this event make it possible for the library to continue to provide excellent programs and services for all ages, including the summer reading program, “Read to the Rhythm,” beginning June 1 and ending Aug. 8. We look forward to next year’s flower and plant sale on Friday and Saturday, May 6-7, 2016.

Joan Hansen

Letter: Help us protect our investment

in Letters to the Editor by

I attended a Sugar Grove Village Board meeting in April with many of my neighbors. The meeting was held to gauge public support for a proposed tax increment financing (TIF) district that would surround the Windsor West community.

Everyone, including representatives from the Fire District and the Sugar Grove Public Library, was opposed to the TIF. We in the community feel a factory or a base building in front of our home would destroy the value of the property.

On May 5, the Village Board voted on and passed the TIF. The reason they gave to justify the vote was that the corn fields that surround our community are a blighted area. The reason why they describe it as a blighted area is because there are some delapidated barns about a mile or so from Windsor West.

Something is really wrong. If you read the Sugar Grove community newsletter, you know Triumph Construction already had plans for a business park before the Village Board took the vote. This is the second time the board tried to pass a TIF district. Why? It is my understanding that some of the land is held in a blind trust. The only people that will benefit from this are the developers and the land owners. Can anyone find out if some or all of the Village Board are involved in the blind trust? If they are, wouldn’t that be a conflict of interest?

I am not against developing the land for business. We need jobs in our village, and we cannot live in fear of how badly we will be loved by the job creators in the future.

The village president (Sean Michels) said the land was always zoned for industry, and so it should be—it’s beside an airport. So why was Windsor West allowed to be built? The investment my neighbors and I have made in this village should and will be protected.

The idea of a factory in front of my house has lowered its value. When the building is built, my house will lose value. Depending on the type of business that moves in, my house could lose more value. This will happen to all of Windsor West. If it becomes known that there is a slum in Sugar Grove, who will want to move here and buy your home?

The solution is simple: do not put the TIF district against Windsor West. The extension of Galena Boulevard and Municipal Drive are new roads, so why can’t there be a commercial strip on each side of the road—with the industrial zone on one side and Windsor West on the other side—allowing the industrial area to develop naturally.

You might think, “What difference would that make?” I am just trying to minimize the damage while not getting in the way of progress.

Please help us. Call the Village Board and go to the meetings, held the first and third Tuesday of every month, and let them know your thoughts.

From what I have seen, these people do not have a plan for the village. There was a gun range that had to close because a residential area was allowed to grow around it. A large apartment building is being built in the landing zone of the airport, and Windsor West was built where industry should be—beside an airport. Meanwhile, two miles away, there is an industrial zone on Heartland Drive.

Is there anyone willing to run in the next election? Yes, it’s too early to think about that, but when is a good time to protect the value of your home—now, or when it’s too late?

Please register to vote, and please help us protect the value of our investment in this village. Elections have consequences.

James McDonagh
Sugar Grove

Guest Editorial: Local government units trying to become less accountable, less transparent taxpayers

in Editorial/Opinion by

by Dennis DeRossett
Executive director, Illinois Press Association

As state government scurries to fill a projected $8 billion deficit in the 2016 fiscal year budget, it would seem to make sense to move beyond successful compromises and proven solutions already in place and instead focus on issues that truly have a significant impact on the state’s finances.

At least you would think so given the seriousness of the fiscal crisis.
But that’s not the case with some elected officials and local government lobbyists that represent the more than 7,000 taxpayer funded units of government in Illinois. Behind-the-scenes efforts are currently taking place that would reduce their obligation of accountability and transparency to taxpayers, all under the guise of the state’s financial crisis. It’s a “smoke-and-mirrors” attempt by local governments at a time of fiscal crisis where Illinois taxpayers would end up on the losing end.

One successful compromise and proven solution that is now in its fifth year of operation is the PublicNoticeIllinois (PNI) website, or PNI is a centralized, aggregated website for all public notices from the state of Illinois, units of local government, and the Illinois court system. It’s a free-access website that is updated daily. It’s an example of a proven, successful public-private partnership that is already saving taxpayers money and should be supported by elected officials at all levels of government.

Public notices, or legal notices as they are often referred to, are a fundamental component in the foundation of our democracy and of our legal system. For more than 200 years, newspapers have been paid to print public notices and to serve as the critically important independent third-party between units of local government and taxpayers, and have functioned as the official notification system of our court system. Notice of publication in newspapers provides the proven and necessary verification, certification and archiving solution that ensure individuals’ and taxpayers’ rights are protected and preserved.

Frankly, it’s a process that has worked so well and for so long that those wanting to eliminate it or change to another process rarely consider the chaos and disruption to government bodies and to the court system that would take place without this proper verification, certification and archiving of public notices and notices of the courts.

PNI was created by state law in 2011 and was approved unanimously by both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly. Yes, unanimously. Key components of the law called for the creation of a centralized website for public notices that would be managed by Illinois newspapers. It requires newspapers to upload all notices to PNI after the notices appear in print. All of this is done at no additional cost to government. No taxpayer money goes towards supporting or managing the public notice website.

With each new session of the Illinois General Assembly, local government lobbyists—whose paychecks are funded largely by your tax dollars—repeatedly push bills to eliminate public notices or remove them from newspapers and PNI in favor of their own individual websites. These bills rarely make it out of committee because, frankly, state lawmakers understand that forcing citizens to attempt to locate notices across 7,000 websites doesn’t make sense (actually, it would be about 4,000 websites, as many units of local government do not yet have a website).

Such legislation was introduced and failed again earlier this session. However, local government groups are now using behind-the-scenes tactics to remove public notices from print and from PNI and, instead, have the notices placed on their individual websites. But, this time they have a new twist: They are claiming that having to be accountable and transparent through the current public notice process is an “unfunded mandate” and they want to do away with it. The simple fact is this issue is not about money, it’s about reducing transparency and accountability to the taxpayers.

Every year, Illinois citizens dutifully fulfill their obligation of paying many types and amounts of taxes to support these thousands of local government units throughout the state. Each of these units has an annual operating budget that ranges from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars. Taxpayer dollars, that is.

It’s not at all about “saving the taxpayers money,” because that has already been done successfully through the 2011 legislation and PNI. Local governments will still try to sell it that way, however. Local government officials should focus on the big-impact issues, allow the proven public notice solution in our state to keep on working, and not spend so much time and taxpayer dollars on how to be less accountable and less transparent.

Letter: Concerned about Keslinger, Dauberman Road intersection

in Letters to the Editor by

I am writing to express concern about an intersection near my house and the high school: Keslinger and Dauberman roads.

Each school day, many students and residents of Kaneland pass through this intersection. In addition to being a main route to Kaneland High School, this intersection is along the main route out to I-88. Before and after school, the intersection of Keslinger and Dauberman Road is extremely hazardous.

I would like to ask the citizens of the Kaneland area to please contact the Kane County Board to request that it conduct a traffic study of this intersection. If you go to, you can find the County Board member for your district (click on the left where it says find your district). Please take the time to write and ask that a traffic study be conducted on the intersection of Keslinger and Dauberman Road.

This intersection is very busy and dangerous before and after school. It impacts not just high school students, but everyone who drives down these roads. Even if you are not a student in Kaneland or live in Kane County you may very well be impacted by the danger of this intersection if you or a relative travel this way.

If you are not in Kane County but are affected by this intersection, you can still help by writing to the Transportation Committee Chairman of the Kane County Board. His name is Drew Frasz, and you can write to him at

Please write and ask for a study of this intersection. The life you save may be your own or someone near and dear to you.

Hans Griesinger
Maple Park

Letter: A thank you from Kaneland Sports Boosters

in Letters to the Editor by

On behalf of the Kaneland Knights Sports Boosters Board of Directors, I would like to thank everyone who was able to come out and enjoy our 2015 “Knight to Remember” spring fundraiser. The night included a Red Woody concert, silent auction, a number of raffles and selection of this year’s Draw Down winners. This year, over 50 individuals, families, sponsors, donors, and corporations were generous enough to donate their time, energy and effort to help the Sports Boosters raise over $11,000 to support Kaneland athletic programs

The purpose of the Kaneland Knights Sports Boosters is to provide our athletes and coaches with the “extras” that the school budget cannot fund. Each year, the Sports Boosters provide tens of thousands of dollars of raised funds to enhance our sports programs at Kaneland High School and Harter Middle School.

None of these funding needs would be met without the generous support of our “Knight to Remember” sponsors. We would like to thank the following for their contributions and help: SignFx, Mill Creek Golf Club, Mark and Emma Ebbert, the Calabrese family, Tracy Healy, Anne Shaw, Thomas Huels, Peter Goff, Kaneland High School coaching staffs, It’s Raining Cats & Dogs Pet Resort, Bob’s Septic, The Walter & Connie Payton Foundation, Matt Suhey, John Attard/Medinah Golf Course, Wiltse Family Farm, Cadence Fitness & Health Center, Laurie Hannula Photography, Heather Espe, Roxanne Sowell, the Thielk family, The Vaughan Center, Nannette’s Giving Boutique, Renew Salon, Julie Jones, the McCaffrey family, Emily Kay Salon, Ziza Nail Salon, JT Nails, Jimmy Johns/Sugar Grove, Couture Tan, Vera Bradley Corporation, Open Range Grill, Cherie Provenzano, the Guerra family, Fireside Grille, Texas Roadhouse, Mardi Gras Lanes, Mychelle Prichard, Kristy Sreenan, HD Backhoe, Robin Redman, Mike and Barb Pollastrini, Jay and Norma Strang, John and Judy VanBogaert, Doug and Renee Kiefer, Todd and Shanne Kuipers, Dianne Olson and Christine Noel.

For all of us, including the Kaneland Knights Sports Boosters, Kaneland High School athletes/coaches and Harter Middle School athletes/coaches, we would like to say thank you. We could not have done this without your generous support.

The following is a list of winners from the draw down: $25 winners, Lisa Thielk, Vicki Preston, Louis and Mike Krahl, M. Heidecke, Corey Douglas, Yvonne Keifer, Bryan Williams and Denise Habbe; $50 winners, Perry Clark, Brian Johnson, Jeremy Angarola and Scott Hollenbeck; $100 winners, Heather LaCost, Dawn Kuefler, and Robert and Dee Davidson; $3,000 final award (split four ways), Scott Preston, Karen Gagne, Tom Gould and Kevin Geary

Special thanks goes to Lisa Thielk and Kevin Geary for generously donating their winnings back to the Sports Boosters.

Joel Redman
President, Kaneland Sports Boosters

Margo can make a lovely pot roast

in Columns/Janet Lagerloef by
And I can (almost) play ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’
by Janet Lagerloef
Owner, The Catering Gourmets, Sugar Grove

For 50 years, I’ve wanted to learn to play the piano. And last fall I vowed I wasn’t going to let another year go by. So I told my husband I wanted a keyboard for Christmas. It arrived under the tree with a little bench and everything. Suddenly I wondered what I’d gotten myself into.

A bit bashfully, I called Margo Herrmann, a retired Kaneland second-grade teacher and a well-known piano instructor, and told her, “I’m almost 60 years old! I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. But I love piano music and I really do want to learn.”

We scheduled our first lesson for the next day. Margo showed up with a big smile and several books for beginners. She put me right at ease. Slowly, I’ve learned the scales. Reading notes is becoming easier for me. My wrists are no longer sore. I’ve tackled and mastered songs like “Camptown Races,” “Skip to My Lou,” and at long last, “Alouetta.” Now, I’m working on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I love that song. I am certainly not a natural, but I am determined and practice nearly every morning before I leave for my catering kitchen.

At the end of our lesson a few weeks ago, the savory bouquet of the pot roast, potatoes, and carrots I had roasting in the oven began to frolic throughout my house. “What in the world are you making?” Margo asked me. I took the roast out of the oven to show her, and when I lifted the lid, Margo’s eyes opened wide. I took a fork and easily pulled off a chunk of meat for her to try.

“When I make a pot roast, my husband, Vern, has to get out the electric knife,” Margo said. “Oh, please, teach me how to make one as juicy and tender as this. Vern would be the happiest man alive!”

Well, it’s as easy as playing “Chopsticks.” I just wish learning to play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was as effortless for me as making a lovely pot roast was for Margo. She is quite pleased. And I got the nicest text from Vern.

Fork-tender Pot Roast
1. Always use a chuck roast; don’t bother with any other cut for a pot roast.

2. Season both sides generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

3. Sear both sides well: heat the pot in which you plan to cook it on medium high on the stove until hot. Don’t add oil or anything. Let each side sear for a couple of minutes. Remove from the stove.

4. Pour in enough beef broth to completely cover the roast (this is the main secret to a tender pot roast, and you will have a lot of au jus).

5. Put on the lid and cook in a preheated 325-degree oven for three hours.

6. After three hours, add quartered potatoes (no need to peel) and peeled, cut-up carrots and cook, covered, for one more hour.

7. Instead of serving on dinner plates, my husband and I enjoy ours out of pasta or soup bowls so we can ladle on lots of glorious au jus.

This is a perfect recipe for a Sunday supper. But you can also serve it on a weeknight. Before leaving for work, simply season and sear the meat, put it in a crock pot, completely cover with beef broth, add potatoes and carrots, and cook on low for 10 hours.

Letter: Further outrage regarding Jordan dismissal

in Letters to the Editor by

I feel I must add my voice to the growing crowd of unhappy local customers outraged over Old Second Bank’s poor decision to terminate longtime local branch manager Margie Jordan. Me thinks maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye, what with the laughably improbable benchmark of signing up 20 new accounts per month in a hamlet of only 400 residents (the word “greed” comes to mind). If this is the actual basis for her dismissal, it would appear that her immediate supervisor is sorely lacking in basic math skills. This is not a good omen for a bank! Management surely ought to rethink that person’s decision-making skills at the very least.

Twenty-two years ago, I moved to the Kaneville area with my small business, and during that time, I’ve had innumerable dealings with Ms. Jordan, frequently on a weekly basis. Having several employees of my own, I often observed the skill with which Margie labored to project a culture of competent professionalism in her Kaneville branch. She carefully combined just the right “down home” touch with an efficient manner that promoted a caring and friendly atmosphere—the exact atmosphere that banks spend millions of dollars to advertise, while usually failing miserably to deliver.

I have found Margie Jordan to be a model banker and administrator. I have even called her direct from Japan for help with international financial transactions. As a matter of fact, no matter what problems I presented her, nothing was beyond her capability. All business was transacted promptly, error-free, efficiently and with a smile, to boot. This hands-on leadership trickled down throughout her staff, as well. After all, Kaneville is a mighty small burg, and any substandard banking experience would surely make the rounds posthaste. Margie knew that, of course; she also knew she didn’t have any big city anonymity to hide behind, unlike her upper management.

It is glaringly obvious that Old Second Bank’s management chain appears to have one or two weak links who could surely benefit by adopting Ms. Jordan’s approach to hands-on administration. A good place to start would be to give her back her job, with apologies, and a raise thrown in for good measure.

Gloria E. Stewart
President, Halogen Lighting
Products Corporation

Letter: The importance of secondary education in Illinois

in Letters to the Editor by

Graduation ceremonies will occur over the next month, with one of the first being at Northern Illinois University this coming weekend. Congratulations to all the graduates and their families. I am proud to represent NIU, our community colleges and educational interests in Springfield. Whether from high school or college, graduation marks a significant accomplishment that according to statistics will return huge financial dividends and societal benefits.

This is the fifth graduation class since Illinois adopted its Public Agenda for College and Career Success, so it’s time to review the progress we have made toward our goal of 60 percent of the citizens with some education beyond high school. Several studies and President Obama point to the need for continued education to be prepared for the types of good paying jobs that will be available in the next decade. Currently, only about 43 percent of Illinois citizens have a certificate or education degree beyond high school.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education recently completed its assessment of our education progress, and while finding that Illinois has made improvements, we remain far behind best performing states. Illinois is closing the high school diploma gap between caucasians and minorities, especially in Chicago. The gap between the races is widening, however, when it comes to education beyond high school, according to the report.

Illinois is making strides in increasing the postsecondary education of its young adults. For older adults and especially low income students, the improvement remains behind the national average and most other states. We must do better if we are to achieve the goal of economic growth and improved family incomes in our state.

If citizens in Illinois are to be prepared for jobs of the future, we must re-double our efforts toward lifelong education and achieving the public agenda (which can be found at More of us—at all ages—must be enrolled and graduating from a postsecondary education program.

Bob Pritchard
State Representative, 70th district

Letter: In defense of first responders

in Letters to the Editor by

Forty-six years ago I returned to Illinois from my active duty service, which included Vietnam, only to be met by jeers and accusations such as “baby killer” when I wore my uniform.

Today, some American citizens are treating our police force even worse, and we should all find that intolerable. Our police, and I would include fire and paramedics, are on the front lines of keeping all of us protected and safe.

Think of their ultimate sacrifice in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks. Think of the many who die or are maimed in the line of duty. These men and women have life-threatening jobs and carry them out with dignity and professionalism.

Our media has been pointing out the Ferguson’s and Baltimore’s and New York’s, and many citizens have found police guilty by accusation, and then require them to prove their innocence. This is not justice. It is mob mentality.

Let me ask you this: have you heard of the Kendall County Sheriff Deputies who found a disabled man on a sidewalk in an electric wheelchair with a dead battery, and manually pushed him home more than a mile? Have you heard of my friend who dropped dead in Bristol, but due to the heroic and speedy effort of a policeman rendering CPR—and paramedics giving him two big jolts from a defibrillator—was brought back to life? Both these events happened in only the last few weeks.

Let us all join together, and whenever we see a first responder, tell them thank you for their service. Let those of us who have small children teach them to respect our police and first responders, and to do as instructed by them.

All my experiences with law enforcement have been positive, even when I received a few traffic tickets. Just as our country has turned around with attitudes toward military personnel since Vietnam, we should start a movement around this country to do the same with law enforcement and first responders.

Leonard R Wass
Captain, USN (Ret)

Community Corner: A place where seniors make friends and grow

in Community Corner by

by Susan Oppenborn
Administrative assistant, Elderday Center

William Shakespeare once said, “A friend is one that knows you as you are and understands where you have been, accepts what you have become and still gently allows you to grow.“ At Elderday Center, we promote the idea that everyone has something important to contribute to the world. And through connecting with others, being active and making new friends, we stay vibrant and young at heart. By accepting who we are and what we have become, we can live fuller and more rewarding lives at home and in the world at large.

Celebrating 25 years this year, Elderday Center specializes in dementia and age-related illness care. Our program is unique because our specialized day program promotes cognitive stimulation and socialization, which can help slow the progression of dementia, minimize depression, and increase the overall quality of life. As the only community-based not-for-profit adult day program in the Tri-Cities, Elderday Center uses evidenced-based techniques to engage senior citizens affected with these diagnoses.

From the moment our seniors walk through the Elderday Center door, every activity has a therapeutic value. Each activity is selected with care to keep bodies, brains and spirits healthy and actively engaged. Year after year, our program has been shown to slow the progression of cognitive and bodily decline so our clients’ lives are enriched and they can remain in their homes with their families longer.

The Elderday Center program offers a wide variety of services and activities in which our clients can participate: daily exercise, seated yoga, field trips, intergenerational activities, games, crafts, special entertainment, lively discussions of current events, music and pet therapy, a hot lunch and two nutritious snacks, daily nurse monitoring, professional case management and much, much more. We are committed to providing the highest quality of care for each and every senior in our program. It is our intention every day to make a direct and meaningful impact on the quality of life for both our clients and their caregivers.

If you know a senior citizen suffering from dementia, alzheimers, depression, or isolation and think Elderday Center might be a good fit, or you’d like to learn more about our programming, call us at (630) 761-9750 or visit us online at We are located at 328 W. Wilson St., Batavia. We always welcome tours and guests.

And for those who would like to support our efforts, we will hold a fundraising event on June 9, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Panera Bread location on Wilson Street in Batavia. Just visit our website and print out the Panera coupon, and up to 20 percent of the day’s proceeds will be donated to Elderday Center. Just have breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner at Panera and support our seniors through your purchase. We will also host an open house at Elderday on Tuesday, Aug. 11, from 4 to 7 p.m. for anyone interested in learning more about us and touring our facilities.

Editor’s note
The above community-submitted column is one part of our broader mission to help our readers connect with their communities. If you or your organization would like to be part of our Community Corner initiative, please contact Editor Keith Beebe at Please note that no for-profit or elected officials are eligible to be part of the Community Corner.

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

in From the Editor's Desk by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More records would be available.

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

Why is this important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So much to do at the Elburn Community Center

in Community Corner by

by Ryan Wells, Elburn and Countryside Community Center Board member
The Elburn and Countryside Community Center has a ton of things going on this spring and summer, and we want to let the community know how to get involved.

First, it is important to point out that the center receives no tax funding, so everything is paid for by the rent of the building tenants, any money generated from the various events at the center, and the generous donations of various members of the community.

The next upcoming event at the center is the Class in a Glass Wine Tasting from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 2. Tickets are a $15 donation if paid in advance, or $20 at the door. The tasting will consist of a variety of wine vendors from Geneva Wine Cellars and food provided by Costco. Tickets are available at the center or in the Elburn Herald office. This is the second time the center has hosted this event, and this year’s event promises to be significantly larger.

Following that, a group of local residents will come together to put on the semi-annual Swap Shop on Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16. The Swap Shop is a way for families of all sizes and experiencing any need to come in and shop for free. Over the years, many families who were once on the receiving end of the Swap Shop have since made sure to help on the giving, whether it be by donating items back to the event or volunteering their time. It is a wonderful opportunity to pay it forward. If you are in a position to help others, or take advantage of a variety of clothing and other household items if you find yourself facing a budget crunch. Items can be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, and shoppers are welcome to browse and go home with anything they need from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The center installed two sand volleyball courts on the grounds last year, and this year’s sand volleyball league is ready to kick off on Monday, May 4. Contact Leslie Flint at for more information. It’s a great way to get together, have some fun, and work on your skills to prepare for the Elburn Herald’s annual Mud Volleyball tournament during Elburn Days.

Later in the summer, the center’s annual Chow Down picnic will take place on the afternoon of Sunday, July 12. More details will be available as the event draws closer, but it is a great day to come out, enjoy a picnic lunch provided by the center, and take advantage of the variety of activities and amenities available at the center.

Inside the building, there are a number of ongoing improvement projects that will continue throughout the spring and summer. Last year’s window fundraiser will lead to the replacement and improvement of a large number of the aging windows throughout the building. Flooring will be replaced and improved in a number of places in the building, and upgrades and maintenance will continue to occur throughout the building, including the bathrooms and dance studio.

Outside, you will notice some improvements to the ballfields. The center has partnered up with the Kaneland Youth Softball League this season, and their volunteers have put in a lot of time to get the fields into playing shape.

And as always, there will be a variety of additional and ongoing events and activities at the center as well, from men’s basketball leagues to Jazzercise and yoga classes.

We are always looking for more help, more volunteers, more tenants and donations of any size. With no park district in Elburn, we would love to continue to modernize the center and its grounds to help fill that hole as long as the community wants to use it.

For information about anything at the community center, feel free to call the center’s office at (630) 365-6655 or the Elburn Herald’s office at (630) 365-6446.

Editor’s note
The above community-submitted column is one part of our broader mission to help our readers connect with their communities. If you or your organization would like to be part of our Community Corner initiative, please contact Editor Keith Beebe at Please note that no for-profit or elected officials are eligible to be part of the Community Corner.

Editorial: Remembering Bob

in From the Editor's Desk by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter: Frustration with Jordan’s dismissal

in Letters to the Editor by

I am writing this letter to express my frustration with Old Second Bank (O2). Recently Margie Jordan, the branch manager at Kaneville O2, was terminated after 22 years of service. The reason she was given was “non-performance.” This was the result of her not meeting the required quota of 20 new accounts per month. The population of Kaneville is approximately 400 people. How someone can be expected to open 240 accounts per year in a town our size is a mystery to me.

I have found doing business with Old Second difficult for some time. Several years ago my wife and I tried to get a loan to buy “The Purple Store” in Kaneville. Much to my surprise, O2 made it much more difficult than it needed to be. We tried very hard to make it work, but to no avail. It really seemed like a perfect match for everyone involved—the local kid buying the local store with the local bank’s help. In the end, we completed the purchase with another area bank that jumped at the chance to loan to a young couple buying a local business.

In the post mortem of the store loan, I told one of Old Second’s senior managers that the only thing keeping my other accounts at their bank was Margie Jordan. For a small town like Kaneville, to have a bank is a necessity, and having Margie as the manager has been a tremendous benefit for the entire community, whether it banks there or not. Margie is involved with just about everything in town—she is treasurer for the village, and is an integral part of Kaneville Fest, as well as the Memorial Day program, just to name a few.

I understand that Old Second is a publicly traded company and their balance sheet is very important to them. However, the way Margie was dismissed seems thinly veiled. Someone with the dedication to her customers and years of service should have been offered a modest severance package at the very least. But why bother when you can just save some money by terminating her for not signing up more than half of the town’s population in new accounts each year.

Recently, I have learned what a profitable location the Kaneville branch is—very low overhead and a loyal customer base that includes many local farms and businesses. I now realize that Old Second is not doing the town a favor by having a small branch there. If O2 packed up and left tomorrow, any local bank with a focus on customers and community would thrive in our small village.

The real tragedy here is that Margie isn’t the only one. Old Second has dismissed many other employees recently with decades of service to their bank. I know from talking with neighbors that there are many people frustrated with how Margie was treated. In no way am I trying to speak to what action they will take as a result of her being fired. I can only speak on behalf of me and my family, and we are changing banks.

Steve Gramley

Letter: ‘Seeing the light’ regarding proposed second TIF district

in Letters to the Editor by

I am writing in opposition to my earlier letter to the editor, which was in opposition to the proposed second TIF district in Sugar Grove.

I have now seen the light—these TIF districts are actually a good thing. In fact, the only problem I now have with the proposed second TIF district in Sugar Grove is that the massive area included in the proposed TIF district is not big enough. It needs to be expanded by approximately 5,000 square feet, being my backyard.

You see, I have an old shed that hasn’t been painted in several years. The white paint on the trim is peeling, and you can see the wood showing through in many places. One of the doors needs repairs, and one of the shingles on the roof is torn in half and missing.

Now, I understand that historically homeowners have been responsible for maintaining their property, just as developers have been primarily responsible for installing roads, sewers, and other infrastructure when developing land on which they will make a nice profit. But I now realize that if I can get the school and library and park and fire districts to give up some future tax dollars, then I can use those tax dollars to repair my shed. After all, what self-respecting developer is going to want to sit and party with me in my backyard, looking at a beat-up, old shed? Developers just aren’t going to do that.

I also now understand that if the TIF district is successful, there could be enough tax dollars that would otherwise be going to the school and other taxing bodies to pay for not only the paint and other materials for my shed, but also the fees that a contractor would charge to actually do this work so that I don’t have to.

And this is not something that will only benefit me personally. By improving my shed with this TIF money, that’s going to increase the value of my home, and thus increase the amount of real estate taxes that I will pay in the future. After the 23-year TIF district time period runs its course, the school and other taxing bodies are going to reap the benefit of adding my backyard to the TIF district by receiving their portion of the higher taxes that I will then be paying. It’s brilliant.

Yes, it’s now clear to me. I could go out and buy paint and other materials, and fix up my shed myself, just as developers used to take care of roads and other infrastructure, but that’s apparently no longer the Sugar Grove way. I’m going to have my backyard added to this proposed TIF district and let the School District and the other taxing bodies pay to improve my shed for the next 23 years. That’s the Sugar Grove way.

Bill Durrenberger
Sugar Grove

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