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Editorial/Opinion - page 3

Letter: Lessons from Lincoln

in Letters to the Editor by

This past week, the House of Representatives commemorated the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s death. References were made to the hundreds of books that have been written about this man and the lessons we can learn from his life. One lesson that is particularly important for our society and especially Illinois today comes from his death and how to handle differences of opinion.

John Wilkes Booth was no deranged gunman who shot the president for fame or some random act of violence. Booth was a successful renowned actor who came from a prominent family of actors. When it came to real-life situations and expressing his political beliefs, however, he didn’t know how to act.

Booth supported the southern way of life and strongly disagreed with the changes that President Lincoln found necessary during the Civil War. Not only did he oppose the emancipation of the slaves, Booth also disagreed with the expansion of powers by the federal government, implementation of an income tax, use of a military draft, and the occasional suspension of citizens’ legal rights.

The actor could have opposed Lincoln’s policies by voicing his opinions, enlisting as a soldier for the Confederacy or helping campaign for one of the other presidential candidates in the 1864 election. Unfortunately, many times dissent and frustration with policies are demonstrated through destructive actions such as rioting, looting and, yes, even killings.

The final lesson from Lincoln’s life for us today is that being silent, sitting on the sidelines or even violence against the president didn’t change the outcome of the war or any of the policies that Booth detested.

In the coming weeks, as we in Illinois face tough policy decisions—not unlike the ones Lincoln made—to save our state from financial ruin and provide for those most in need and preserve individual freedoms, let us take lessons from Lincoln’s presidency. Involve everyone, even the opposition, in the decisions. Listen to the people as they express their views in public meetings, letters and peaceful demonstrations. Seek what is moral, fair and right for all citizens. Avoid violence that tears us apart. Lincoln is still an excellent teacher after more than 150 years.
Bob Pritchard, State Representative

Community Corner: Portrait of a Soldier at Sugar Grove Library

in Community Corner by

by Shannon Halikias
Library director, Sugar Grove Public Library

Memorial Day is a holiday created for honor, a day for remembering the service and dedication of our armed forces currently serving as well as ones that have sacrificed in ways most of us cannot possibly imagine.

A couple of years ago, an Army friend of mine said he felt that though we had a swell of patriotism after 9/11, that wave receded and we forget that our people, our fellow Americans, are still engaged and serving—a calling for a love of country that transcends politics. Knowing these sentiments, it is with great pleasure that I invite our community and local vets to the Sugar Grove Library to view the Illinois Portrait of a Soldier exhibit. I think most of us do not forget; therefore pausing on a day of respect is important. We remember.

The library will be hosting the Portrait of a Soldier exhibit for two weeks, May 23 to June 4. We cordially invite our community, families of service members, officials and honorable veterans to a reception on Saturday, May 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you would like to be invited to speak at the reception or assist in sponsoring refreshments, call the library or email

The Portrait of a Soldier exhibit contains over 300 hand-drawn sketches of fallen Illinois soldiers serving Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Each sketch was drawn from a portrait of the soldier, with the original sent to the family and a copy archived in this collection. The moving exhibit includes service members that have given the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11—some portraits with biographical information. This exhibit is free to our library and maintained by the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs through the governor’s office.

Displays of materials on Armed Forces, as well as military fiction from our collection, will be available to our patrons. We invite you to enjoy the exhibit, moments of powerful reflection and resources from our collection to mark the occasion. The gift of service is to be celebrated, as our freedoms are indeed not free.

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.

Community Corner: ‘Is it orphaned?’

in Community Corner by

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

Among the nearly 3,000 animals the Fox Valley Wildlife Center takes in each year, the majority are the wild babies. Sometimes these new lives come to us with obvious signs of injury or trauma that necessitate human intervention. Other times, the demise of the mother is either obvious or witnessed and orphans are left needing care. What if you come across a baby, but neither scenario applies? How do you know if an animal is truly orphaned?

The first thing to remember is that a baby’s best chance of survival is with its own mother. While we strive to provide the best care possible, constantly assessing current protocol, adjusting formulas and keeping tabs on new research, there are often elements that can not be duplicated. The best course of action is to try to reunite the family.

There is a prevalent myth circulating that if a baby animal is touched by a human, they will be rejected by the parent because of the scent. This is simply not the case. Most animals are very good parents, searching days for wayward offspring. The presence of a human, the largest predator they will see, is far more fear-inducing. With this in mind, let’s take a look at situations that frequently arise.

The nests of the eastern cotttontail are very shallow depressions in the ground, covered by dead grass and fur from the mother’s belly. Bunnies found underneath this very thin layer, with ears flattened to the head and eyes closed, are totally reliant on the parent. The locations of these nests are generally out in the open without any kind of shelter or protection. It is not unusual to have one in the center of your front or backyard. Before firing up the lawn mower for the season’s inaugural trim, take a walk around your property to prevent any accidents. Sometimes a dog or cat will unearth a nest of newborns. If there are no obvious signs of injury and the babies were merely scattered, they can be placed back in the nest and re-covered with the original material. A laundry basket, or the like, can then be placed over the area for protection from your pet.

Concern arises when a nest has been discovered and no mother appears to be visiting the babies. Many people do not realize that the cottontail mom will only come back to her young at dawn and dusk in an effort to keep predators at bay. If watching the nest for her return is not possible, flour can be spread around the nest area to capture her footprints. If you have kept watch or placed flour and there is no evidence that the babies are being cared for, then, and only then, should the babies be considered orphaned. If you spy bunnies with erect ears and open eyes traversing your yard, even though they may be only 3-to-5 inches long, they are on their own and require no assistance.

In the case of squirrels, many fall from trees during storms or are displaced by routine yard work. Trimming trees or bushes can topple young to the ground. If there is no obvious trauma and the den or nest location is known, the baby can be placed back. If the baby’s home can not be found, locate a box and place a heat source, such as a hot water bottle covered with a blanket or towel, inside. Position the baby on top and wait. The mother very often will search for and take the baby back to the den. If the baby is injured, or after waiting the mother does not retrieve it, then intervention is necessary.

Nestlings—the small, often slightly bald-looking offspring of birds—often find themselves in similar circumstances. The youngsters many times will still have their eyes closed. If the baby is not injured, simply replace in the nest, if it can be located. If home can not be found, a substitute can be fashioned from an empty margarine or whipped topping tub. Place soft tissue, rags or grass in the clean container and deposit the baby on top. Take the container with the nestling back to the location where the baby was found and leave it there. If the mother does not return, then the baby can be deemed an orphan.

Another avian frequently seen is called a fledgling. This bird will look almost like its adult counterpart, but isn’t ready to fly. The parents will be nearby as the baby hops about—making attempts to become airborne—but are still feeding him on a regular basis. This young bird requires no assistance if there is no imminent danger in the area. If necessary, he may be moved to the low branch of a tree or bush to remain out of harm’s way.

Although we do not rehabilitate adult white-tailed deer, we do accommodate the fawns. These mothers also only feed their young at dawn and dusk. The fawns wil be well-hidden during the day as the parent feeds nearby. A good method of determining if this animal needs assistance is to look at the ears. One of the first signs of dehydration is a curling in of the tips and sides. This is an indication that the mother has been absent for too long a time and probably will not return.

When wild babies are encountered, it is natural to want to help. Reuniting the young with the mother is always the best course of action, but can require significant patience. Contact the Fox Valley Wildlife Center with questions on these or any other situations regarding living with our wild neighbors. We are here to help.

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: Rewarding those who do as Louise Cooper did

in From the Editor's Desk by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

in From the Editor's Desk by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter: Thank you from Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters

in Letters to the Editor by

On behalf of the Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters and the Knight of Performances Planning Committee, we want to express our gratitude to the many individuals and businesses that made our third annual Knight of Performances dinner a success. More than $5,500 was raised at this event; money that will be spent on the band, choir and theatre students at Kaneland.

The Knight of Performances could not have happened without the assistance from Harter Middle School music teachers Bradley Staker, Rachel Shershen and Dan Zielinski, who helped us with the coordination of the event.

Thank you to the more than 300 parents, family members and neighbors who attended our event; to the very talented middle and high school students who performed; to 5-Bs Catering in Waterman, Ill., for grilling the food; to The Corner Grind in Elburn for the donation of freshly-brewed coffee; to Elburn McDonald’s for the fruit beverage; to our many dedicated parent and student volunteers who donated their time and baking talents; to HMS administration and Gigi Statler, for allowing us to use their beautiful facilities, and to the custodial staff for clean-up after the event; to Jill Maras and Bryan Zwemke for their continued support of the Boosters and the arts at Kaneland; and to Aaron Puckett, Bryan Kunstman, Christina Staker and Rebecca Andersen, for their support of our organization.

In addition, Kaneland is fortunate for the generosity of the following businesses and individuals who donated items for our basket raffle: All Things Art by Erin Livermore, American Eagle, Andersen Plumbing and Heating, Austin Violin Shop, Avenue J Studios, Batavia Fine Arts Center, Blaine’s Farm and Fleet, Bogey’s Golf, Sandra Edwards, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cadence Fitness and Wellness Center, Casey’s General Store, The Cheesecake Factory, Classic Cinemas, Club Z! In-Home Tutoring, Deb Cargola, Colonial Cafe, Dr. and Mrs. Krauspe, Comedy Sportz Theatre, Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Couture Tan, Da Capo Music, Egg Harbor Cafe, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Emily Kay Salon, Fireside Grille Restaurant, Fresh Market, Fox Valley Repertory, Funway Entertainment, Genoa Pizza, Graham’s Chocolates, Great Clips, Hair Cuttery, Hampton Inn & Suites, Bessie Tockstein, Hix Brothers Music, Hollywood Palms, Jewel (Elburn and Sugar Grove locations), Kane County Cougars, Kaneland Arts Initiative, Troy Peacock, Kathy Zoppa, Kaneland High School, Lori Grant, Lou Malnati’s, McDonald’s Corporation, Meijer, Men’s Wearhouse, Millhurst Ale House, Museum of Science and Industry, Jodi Taylor, Imperial School of Music, Dylan Good, Bradley Staker; NCG Theatre, Noodles & Co., OtterCares Foundation, OutdoorScapes, Inc., Outerwall (Redbox), Paramount Theatre, Pup-a-Razzi Dog Spa, Quinlan & Fabish, Raging Waves, Ream’s Elburn Market, Chicago Rockford International Airport, Estrellita Uzagarra, Sugar Grove Fun Center, Tasting deVine, Chicago Field Museum, Walgreen’s (Elburn location) and Walt Disney World Vacations.

Last but certainly not least, we thank the parents and family members for supporting the band, choir and theatre programs at Kaneland. You understand the importance of music in your child’s life. To quote Bono, “Music can change the world because it can change people.”

Denise Blaszynski, Jacque Bridge, Heidi Kintz, Michele Guido, Michelle Klecka,
Jo Ann Krueger, Leslie Layne,
Sara Mitchinson and Robin Urich
Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters
Planning Committee

Letter: In opposition to proposed Sugar Grove TIF district

in Letters to the Editor by

I am writing in opposition to the proposed second tax increment financing (TIF) district for the village of Sugar Grove. I am a 25-year resident of this wonderful community, and it is clear to me that we do not need to give away tax dollars in order to encourage development in our area.

In my opinion, this proposed TIF district is not in compliance with Illinois law, which restricts TIF districts to geographic areas that have some type of problem that is substantial enough that the area won’t develop without a TIF. It’s called the “but for” test— the area won’t develop “but for” the financial assistance of a TIF. The notion that there is any such troubled area anywhere near Sugar Grove is absurd. This point alone should require our trustees to vote “no” on this giveaway. In fact, in further support of this point, I note that the massive area that comprises this proposed TIF district includes a senior housing project that is already well on its way to completion.

Even if this proposed TIF were in compliance with Illinois law, this is ill-advised because the price that we will pay far, far outweighs any benefits. We are told that the TIF will encourage development, meaning that development will take place sooner with the TIF than without. Maybe or maybe not. We simply don’t know that. Similarly, we are told that this TIF will create jobs, once again, meaning more jobs sooner than without the TIF. Maybe or maybe not. And maybe some of those jobs will go to Sugar Grove residents, or maybe most or all of those will go to non-residents who are already working for the companies that will re-locate into the TIF district area.

Finally, we are told that the TIF will bring in sales tax dollars, again meaning more sales tax dollars sooner than without the TIF. Maybe or maybe not. It depends in large part on what type of businesses end up in the TIF district area, and when. The bottom line on these benefits is a lot of “maybes.”

On the other hand, the cost is anything but a “maybe”—it’s a certainty that there will be a monumental loss of real estate tax dollars for the local taxing bodies (school, park, fire and library) for a substantial period of time, potentially as much as 23 years. There are blighted areas in Illinois that could certainly be helped by a TIF district, but none of those areas are anywhere near our fine community. The certain, long-term, heavy cost to us of a TIF district is egregiously too high a price to pay for a bunch of “maybes.”

Finally, and most importantly, those of us who have been blessed to live in Sugar Grove do not want TIF districts. We recognize they’re not necessary, we recognize the outrageously high cost, and we do not understand why our elected leaders—who are good, hard-working, caring people—are not listening to us, their bosses, by considering this nonsense. I fear that this results from a paternalistic attitude on their part—the notion that they know better than we do about what is good for us. Perhaps they feel that TIF districts are difficult to understand, even for them, but village staff says these are good, so they must be.

Well, TIF districts are not at all difficult to understand in their broad overview, and that broad overview is all that we need to know. It’s a very simple matter—we pay an exorbitantly high price of certain, long-term, heavy loss of real estate taxes in return for a bunch of “maybes” in a beautiful part of the world where this is completely unnecessary. We are not a bunch of naive children who don’t know what’s good for us. This is America—a land whose greatness has occurred precisely because its citizens have been calling the shots, not the government as some separate, all-knowing entity.

With all due respect to our fine elected leaders, we know what is best for us, and we know what we want and what we don’t want. And what we don’t want is another needless TIF district.

If the village establishes this TIF district, it will be the second TIF district in Sugar Grove. We didn’t need the first one; it’s done nothing for us so far. And we don’t need the second one, which will also, in all probability, bring us no benefit that is anywhere near the price that we will have to pay. Sadly and unfortunately, all these TIF districts are going to do is take precious tax dollars out of the backpacks of our school children, and out of the badly depleted coffers of our park, fire and library districts, and put those tax dollars in the pockets of wealthy developers who would have made perfectly acceptable profits without the giveaway of a TIF.

The Sugar Grove Village Board will take this TIF district under consideration at a public hearing, which will take place on Tuesday, April 21, at 6 p.m. at Sugar Grove Village Hall. I urge all of my friends and neighbors and fellow residents of this wonderful village to show up at that meeting so that our elected officials will know how we—their bosses—feel about this issue, which is of vital importance to the welfare of our community.

Bill Durrenberger
Sugar Grove

Letter: What to do with unwanted clothes, textiles, shoes

in Letters to the Editor by

It’s nearly time to start packing up the sweaters and bringing out the sandals. With this crazy back-and-forth weather, you may have already begun digging into the spring wear. As you begin the sorting process, it is a great opportunity to pass on garments and shoes that haven’t been worn this season. Yes, even those old favorites that you used to wear every week but haven’t worn for years now. You can pass them on for someone else to love.

Textiles is the catch-all word for clothes, linens, curtains and blankets—basically anything made of cloth. The businesses that collect textiles generally collect clothes; shoes; accessories like purses, belts, hats and scarves; and linens, like bedding, blankets, towels and curtains. There is a list of textile recyclers and more information on the Kane County Recycles Textiles page.

According to the U.S. EPA, a whopping 85 percent of all discarded textiles—11 million tons—are sent to U.S. landfills every year. But clothes, footwear, accessories and linens are highly reusable. And if not usable, then definitely recyclable. Thrift stores will take only reusable wearable textiles. Drop boxes will take it all, even if they are worn or torn. Once you deposit your textiles into a drop box, reusable clothes and shoes are sorted for reuse; damaged or worn textiles are turned into wiping rags or insulation blankets. Beyond that, the remains are sorted for use in fiber products.

Concerning non-profit vs. for-profit, while many people want to donate clothes for a good cause, it is important to note that in all cases, the clothes are sorted, valued, distributed and sold again to market. Charitable organizations such as Salvation Army and Good Will Industries are fabulous companies, but frequently they are overwhelmed with the volume of donations and actually pass the materials on to (for-profit) textile companies for processing anyway.

USAgain (pronounced “use again”) and Credential Wholesalers provide convenient parking lot drop-boxes near you. USAgain has a great location finder for drop-boxes throughout Kane County. Credential has three drop-boxes—in Montgomery, Sugar Grove and Aurora.

Kane County will recycle clothes, footwear, accessories and linens at the June Recycling Extravaganza, along with many other items you may wish to recycle as you do your spring cleaning.

Make sure that all textiles are clean and enclosed in a tied bag for drop-off at any location. Shoes should be in pairs, and can be in any condition.

More recycling information can be found at

Jennifer Jarland
Coordinator, Kane County Recycles

Brown eggs revisited

in Columns/Janet Lagerloef by

by Janet Lagerloef
Owner, The Catering Gourmets, Sugar Grove

I was going to share my secrets for a scrumptious pot roast in this month’s column, but minutes after “Of Roosters and cream puffs” came out last month, my dad and an old friend of mine called to remind me of two old brown-eggs stories they thought I should have included in the column. Luckily, I have a new egg recipe I am quite excited about.

Dad’s egg story involved his red and white Piper airplane. For a science project in seventh grade, my sister, Karin, asked him to drop a raw egg from 1,000 feet. She put one of our brown eggs in a nylon stocking, tightly suspended the stocking in a shoe box, wrapped the box in foil, then reinforced it with gobs of duct tape. If packed correctly, the egg would survive the fall.

The students eagerly searched the sky as they stood on the baseball diamond behind Big Rock Elementary School. Captain Dad’s arrival was on time. He dropped the box, tipped the wing, flew off, and several boys ran to retrieve the box from the nearby field. When Karin finally got the box opened, the egg was unbroken.

The second egg story is about my mom. She opened “The Little Store” in Big Rock 45 years ago. It was like “The Purple Store” in Kaneville, except smaller and green. Like (Hill’s Country Store owner) Pat Hill, she kept the ice cream freezer full. She also stocked the local farmers’ favorite chew. And as my friend reminded me, my mom also sold our brown eggs there. She collected and candled them each morning before opening.

Fifteen years after closing The Little Store, mom and dad started Deer Valley Golf Course in Big Rock. I figure I got my desire to open my own business from them.

Since opening The Catering Gourmets 10 years ago, I’ve had requests for egg casseroles. I typically decline, because I just haven’t found a recipe I am tickled with. But that changed a few months ago when I began testing egg frittata recipes and quickly landed on a fabulous one. As a matter of fact, we are going to unveil our first egg frittata at a brunch next Saturday for a lovely bride from Sugar Grove. I can hardly wait, and I am so happy to share this—particularly since it also helps me make good on those final (I promise) two brown-egg stories.

Egg Frittata
Serves 8-10

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

18 large eggs, beaten with a fork
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into .5-inch cubes
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 pound pork sausage crumbled, cooked and drained
Several grape tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with kosher salt
and roasted in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
4 cups chopped fresh kale
1 large onion chopped
1 can pitted large black olives
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, heat four tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and kale for two minutes. Add the eggs, cream cheese, feta cheese, sausage, cherry tomatoes and whole black olives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue cooking over medium heat for one minute while gently pulling the eggs from the sides of the pan with a spatula. Do not stir. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until eggs are set.

You can substitute or add any ingredients you would like, such as crispy bacon, sauteed asparagus, sauteed mushrooms, green olives, Italian sausage, pineapple or Canadian bacon. It’s a lot like making a pizza.

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

in From the Editor's Desk by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy voting.

Letter: In support of Valente, Lopatin, Pavlak and Witt

in Letters to the Editor by

I write to endorse the following candidates for the Kaneland School Board election on April 7: Mr. Tony Valente, Mr. Peter Lopatin, Mrs. Gale Pavlak, and Mrs. Teresa Witt. I urge you to vote on April 7, or before, for these candidates, because sometimes change is a bad idea.

I was honored to moderate the candidate forum at Harter Middle School on Feb. 19. The forum was limited to candidates running for seats on the Kaneland School Board. We asked some tough questions; we got some answers.

We asked the candidates about whether the Board was “dysfunctional,” and most candidates agreed, regardless of any spin, that something was dysfunctional about the board. The idea that grown adults act out in a public body when their charge is to do what is best for the students, teachers, administrators and taxpayers of this district should anger all of us. If we are not angry, we certainly should be disappointed. To be a board member and to have this as your legacy should be insulting to you and your family. Why isn’t it?

Witt, during the forum, added when board members “lose (their) cool, (they) don’t get the work done.” She said the public doesn’t get to see board members at their best, which she said was in closed session, when reporters are not there.

“We are not always dysfunctional,” she said.

I think it is sad for any board member to admit that their best work is not visible to the public. Why would that be? Is the dysfunction all for show? Is it not real? Then stop it. Pretend you are always in closed session. Pretend the audience is loaded with your children, your families, your parents, and do what you are supposed to do. Debate the issues? Sure. Disagree? OK. Be mature and disagree like adults. Give me reasonable, practical, and cost effective solutions to the many problems facing this district. We do not need the drama. We don’t have the time. What do you want your legacy to be?

The Illinois School Board Association indicates that the best board members are characterized by the following, in relevant part: 1) The ability to work as a member of a team, including an open mind and an ability to engage in give-and-take and to arrive at a group consensus; 2) The respect for needs and feelings of other people and a well-developed sense of fair play; and 3) The recognition that the school district is probably the largest business in town and that the board is responsible for seeing that the business is run by highly skilled professionals. We do not have that yet. I think we can get there.

Considering this “dysfunction” makes it hard to endorse this board; however, sometimes change is a bad idea.

Immediately after the forum, I clearly knew who had earned my vote. The challengers, although well-intentioned, are certainly not ready to sit on a school board.

These are serious times. These times warrant experience. These times deserve the best we have to offer—warts and all. As we negotiate our next teacher contract, as we develop our next strategic plan, as we continue to be challenged by Springfield, we need a board that is able to make the best and the most informed choices, together, after full and fair debate.

I am not voting for the status quo. I am voting for the candidates whom I believe offer all of us the best chance at success.

Patrick J. Crimmins, Elburn

Letter: Compelled to provide corrections regarding Elliott letter

in Letters to the Editor by

Last week’s Letter to the Editor section had a headline, “In support of Kaneland taxpayers on April 7.” All elected officials represent taxpayers, so it is not clear how Jerry Elliott would differentiate himself from other candidates in the Kaneland election. I do know that he presents, yet again, an erroneous, inflammatory message, and I feel compelled to try to correct just some of his misleading remarks. As much as I admire the force he uses when spewing his misinformed opinions,strength of conviction does not equate to, nor replace, sound judgment based on factual information.

Teacher/pupil ratio
Does Jerry actually believe that our teacher to pupil ratio is 9.0? According to the State Report Card, Kaneland’s 2014 teacher/pupil ratio is 16.7, with the state average being 18.6. In 2013, Kaneland’s ratio was 18.2, with the state average being 18.9. The board made a deliberate decision to reduce the class size at the middle school level from 2013 to 2014 to improve the district’s ratio. This decision did not add 73 new teachers to the staffing plan. Also, the 2014 average class size is 25, with the state’s average of 21. Additional facts about Kaneland may be found at or the IIRC site at Please take a look.

The district’s annual extension has been the CPI, a cost of living increase each year. In 2013, the increase was 2.14 percent, and in 2014, the increase will be approximately 2.0 percent. The increase includes the CPI, plus growth from new properties in the district. The money is used for salaries, programs, services, and operating costs to educate Kaneland students. Kaneland’s instructional expenditure rate per student was $6,034 in 2012-13; the state average was $7,094. There simply is no extravagant spending.
Education Fund

Most unit districts in the area are struggling with balancing the Education Fund. The struggle is due to the significant decrease in the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of homes during the past several years. Fortunately, Kaneland has been able to weather the storm in the Education Fund. At this time, there have not been any transfers made from the Transportation Fund to the Education Fund.

Teacher salary increase
The total 2014-15 salary increase for teachers was 3.99 percent, not the 6.1 percent claimed by Mr. Elliott. The raise was negotiated through collective bargaining and took into account that the teacher’s had two pay freezes within the past five years. Teresa Witt did not serve as chief negotiator for the board, as she was not on the board’s negotiating team.

The list could go on.

Jerry Elliott makes outrageous distortions when misquoting school hirings, employee insurance benefits, competitive bidding and student achievement. I fail to understand his intent in misinforming voters. I believe that his suggested concoction of conspiracy theories are not helpful to school board governance, and that Kaneland taxpayers need board members who are informed, ethical, honest and balanced representatives.

Cheryl Krauspe
Kaneland School Board president

Letter: In opposition of certain School Board candidates

in Letters to the Editor by

I’ve been following the Elburn Herald letters section prior to the Kaneland School Board election, and have really appreciated, in particular, comments made by Laura Furco of Sugar Grove and Dennis Ryan of Elburn regarding Tony Valente, a current Kaneland School Board member and candidate for re-election.

Ms. Furco pointed out that board member Tony Valente has a “long history of disrespecting other board members and the Kaneland School District administration and staff.” She quoted the resignation letter of Dr. Ken Sorrick in which he, after a very brief working situation with Valente, noted that Mr. Valente disrespected the superintendent, the assistant superintendent, the School Board president and the union representation. In my long association with Kaneland as a parent (18 years), as a teacher (34 years) and as a taxpayer and voter (38 years), I wholeheartedly agree. While seeing himself as a champion of those who disagree, in fact, Tony Valente is a champion of those who disrespect.

Sadly, he is not alone in this regard. His followers, Jerry Elliott and Dan Nagel, also School Board candidates and representing Sugar Grove Township, are likewise squeaky wheels. And one thing I know for sure: nothing good comes from such negative mindsets. Instead, such negativity does not allow for the growth of positive ideas, and only impedes progress.

As for Mr. Ryan’s excellent summary of what he’s read in the newspaper about these candidates—Tony Valente’s absenteeism and rude behavior at public meetings, Jerry Elliott’s lack of research prior to making public statements, and all three candidates’ lack of familiarity with the candidate petition process—I find substantial reasons for me to oppose their candidacy.

Most importantly, none of these individuals seems to demonstrate the critical thinking skills that are necessary in a good school board member. Contrary to what they would have you believe, Kaneland has a proven track record of excellence in educational opportunities provided to the district students and the community.

For these reasons, from what I have read and know, I support the following candidates: current board members Gale Pavlak (Blackberry Township), Peter Lopatin and Teresa Witt (Sugar Grove Township), as well as Pam Voorhees (Pierce Township/Maple Park). Because Pam Voorhees is a new face, it’s important to know that her strengths include educational background and experience in school finance, an understanding of the problems with Illinois education funding, and an appreciation for open and honest communication.

I hope you’ll all join me in supporting these fine candidates. See you all at the polls this coming Tuesday, April 7.

Pam Ferdinand, Maple Park

Letter: The real meaning of public service

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Is it public service or politics that bring people to run for office to serve their community?

When a person takes office, for whatever slot, it should always be to serve the public,not have the public serve them. As we look at the numerous offices that are being selected in this April’s elections next week, it seems very sad that numerous offices are uncontested, and that the public has no real choice in their selection.

I am not taking anything away from those who run, but it would seem that those who are elected from a slate with no choices, that merely getting a petition signed guarantees the office.

The public (who is our customer) deserves choices in those who will serve the public’s needs. The lack of choices in many offices is a sad statement that the public can fix by getting involved in their government. It won’t help this election, but every two years the public can help by making sure that there are effective candidate’s for each office, and they can choose the best public service candidates who would best serve their needs.

The choice is yours. Exercise your ability to choose. Run for office, serve your community honorably and selflessly.

Mike Fagel, Sugar Grove

Letter: In support of Grabarek, Krukoff on April 7

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It has been a pleasure to serve alongside Bill Grabarek for many years. I find Bill to have a steady viewpoint—he does not carry nor bring forward a personal agenda.

Bill has a heartfelt care and concern about the welfare of Elburn and our residents. It is my opinion his experience and background as a lawyer brings an ability to see all sides—to weigh and evaluate all possible outcomes.

Elburn has many changes on the horizon. Since we do not have the ability to see clearly into the future, we need a Village Board with experience in maximizing our resource.

John Krukoff has served on the Elburn Planning Commission for five years. To this role he has brought a strong background in public administration and a passion for our village to be the best it can be. On important issues impacting Elburn’s future, I have observed John analyze and diligently research additional and necessary information.

Please join me in voting for Bill Grabarek and John Krukoff for village trustee on April 7.

Pat Schuberg
Elburn Village Board trustee

Letter: In support of Thomas Reynolds

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I served with Thomas Reynolds as trustee on the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District (ECFPD) Board. Tom is a good listener and he takes everyone into consideration as we work together to plan for the future needs of our fire and ambulance services.

Tom understands how precious the tax dollars are that support the ECFPD. The good planning for the future of the ECFPD has shown to be very positive.

We can all be very proud of the men and women who operate and serve on a daily schedule to keep our No. 1 service in motion.

I am grateful and very proud to have been a part of the ECFPD for 37 years. I know Tom will serve it well.

Jim Feece, Elburn

Letter: Re-elect Bill Grabarek

in Letters to the Editor by

Bill Grabarek is one of the incumbents running for one of three seats on the Elburn Village Board April 7. I’ve known Bill over 15 years. He continues to be passionate about Elburn in his efforts to preserve the past, provide for our present needs, services and plans for the future.

We continue to face economic challenges that require tough decisions.

Bill’s experience in village government since 1993 does matter. Bill listens to Elburn residents and sees the big picture of possibilities for Elburn’s future. Bill has been an excellent trustee and should be re-elected.
Joan Hansen, Elburn

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