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Trillium Sept2015
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Editorial/Opinion - page 35

Letter: Thank you for donations during fundraiser

in Letters to the Editor by

On behalf of all the members of the Kaneville Fire Department, we would like to sincerely thank everyone who donated during our photo fundraiser. The purpose of this fundraiser was to purchase new gear to replace some of the old (and well worn) gear that the firefighters are using. We have purchased five new sets of gear, and they are already in use at the department.

Thank you so much for your continued support of the Kaneville Fire Department.

David Sigmund
Fire Chief Kaneville Fire Protection District

Editorial The Kaneland communities need to work together, not compete

in From the Editor's Desk by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter: We honor our veterans on Nov. 11

in Letters to the Editor by

“With solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.”

President Woodrow Wilson used those words on Nov. 11, 1919, to explain the purpose of this country’s first Veterans Day, then called Armistice Day. Created originally to commemorate the end of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, Veterans Day no longer focuses attention just on World War I, but since 1954 has broadened its scope to commemorate not just the deaths, but the service of all our veterans in all our wars, including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through all of these conflicts, the men and women of the Armed Forces have continued to serve selflessly, to defend what we and they as Americans have always valued so highly—our country, our values, and our freedom.

As a former search-and-rescue specialist with the U.S. Coast Guard, I am proud to have been able to play a small part in this tradition of service. I was fortunate to have returned home to my family safe and sound. That was not true for many others. My service brought home to me just how much I owe to all those who have given their lives, who have been wounded or captured, who have suffered to keep us all free.

On this Nov. 11, 2011, I sent my sincerest appreciation to all of our veterans who have stood firm and valiantly to keep us safe through the life of our country. And I also continue to send my appreciation out to those who are still serving. Many things have changed since 1919, but our solemn pride remains.

“Freedom is not Free.”

Dave Richmond, Batavia
Blackberry Township Supervisor
Candidate, State Senate, District 25

Letter: Elburn Fire Department holiday food drive

in Letters to the Editor by

The Elburn Fire Department will collect food for the Elburn Food Pantry again this holiday season.

We would encourage anyone that is able to help us stock our local food pantry, to drop food at either Station No. 1 at 210 E. North St., or Station No. 2 at 39W950 Hughes Road.

Our local food pantry is in particular need of items such as macaroni and cheese, stuffing mix, canned vegetables, canned pasta meals, bar soap and things of this nature. If you are unable to stop by the station and wish to help out, give us a call and we’ll gladly drop by and pick up your donation. Thanks in advance for your help.

Matt Hanson
Elburn Fire Department

Letter: Conley Outreach and Salvation Army bring Christmas kettles to area

in Letters to the Editor by

Look for the familiar red Salvation Army kettles this December throughout the Kaneland/Big Rock area. Conley Outreach, the local Salvation Army representative, together with local scout troops, businesses, 4-H clubs, church groups and Community Care Team volunteers, will be collecting donations on Saturdays and the days just before Christmas outside various local businesses.

Every year Conley Outreach receives about $3,500 from the Salvation Army Metropolitan Division to help needy families pay for rent, heat, food, clothing or other necessities. Because of the current economic conditions, this money has been depleted. The Christmas Kettles enable Conley Outreach to raise additional money to replenish this fund. One-hundred percent of all the money donated in area kettles on Saturday will stay in our local Salvation Army fund. All local kettles have a sign stating that the money stays in the Kaneland/Big Rock area. This past year over 50 families have received assistance from this fund. Many more need help.

Please consider making a donation when you are out shopping this month. Donations can also be sent to Conley Outreach/Salvation Army Fund, PO Box 931 Elburn IL 60119. If you have a group that would like to staff the kettles one Saturday morning, contact Carol Alfrey at (630) 365-2880.

Carol Werdin Alfrey
Executive Director
Conley Outreach Community Services

Letter: KYSO wraps up fall 2011

in Letters to the Editor by

The fields are empty, the nets are down and hopefully the league players and the coaches are getting a little extra sleep these last few Saturdays now that another season is over.

Looking back over the season, I realize how hard so many families and individuals worked to make the Kaneland Youth Soccer Organization (KYSO) season happen. From the Recreational League to the Tops Program, and also our Kaneland United Soccer Club, the KYSO is an organization that makes a lot of teams possible for a wide spectrum of player ages and abilities. The only thing left to do this season is express gratitude for a season well done and send a huge shout out to everyone who made it possible.

First, I would like to thank the players and their families who signed up to play in the league. Without our players, we would not be a successful league. Without our parents who coach, assistant coach and come out two times a week to practices and games, our teams would not be complete. And what would we do without our biggest fans every week? The parents, siblings, grandparents, etc., sitting on the sidelines each week and cheering the players on is what makes our games so much fun. Rain or shine, hot or cold, they come out each week with their lawn chairs, blankets, umbrellas and often wearing mittens and hats. Our spectators make the kids feel special and watch the players grow as individuals and as teams throughout the season.

Our parents go above and beyond in regards to our established volunteer program. Our parent volunteers help each week moving goals and nets, manning tables, picking up trash and assisting our busy coaches. The refs also need to be acknowledged—they come out each week to call the shots and keep the games moving along.

I can’t forget to thank Hill’s Country Store, who faithfully offered our players and fans a great assortment of treats and drinks. A final thank you goes out to KYSO Board members who work diligently all year long meeting, planning and making improvements to the league so that each season is better for our players and families. Thank you all and we look forward to doing it again this spring.

Michelle Moser
Publicity chair
Kaneland Youth Soccer Organization

Letter: An open letter to the Elburn village president

in Letters to the Editor by

I have a question in regards to Elburn’s 25 percent tax levy increase: are you out of your minds?

Raise taxes to pay for pensions. Where the heck is all the money going now? You are going to make enemies with this one; and not just a couple.

Did I get a raise at work? Heck no. Not in five years. I wonder why; we are barely making ends meet here. But then again, who has received a raise? Yes, I know it’s tough all over, but it does not make it any easier raising taxes with high fuel costs, high food prices and no jobs. Everybody has their hand in my wallet, and I am sick and tired of this mess.

Did I pay into my 401K? No, I can’t afford to pay in because I live in Elburn and get nothing in return. Streets suck. Water sucks. Schools suck; kids learn nothing. Did my taxes go up again last year? Yes, that’s all they do, and escrow falls short again. Oh, shucks!

What’s my house worth? Not much, but my taxes would make you think it was worth a heck of a lot more than it is. What I am saying is you pay and get nothing for it, and this is the wrong time to keep shoving all this up our noses. Have you looked around and seen all the houses for sale? Good God, there are tons of them, and all the people who use to have good jobs now either have a job with no pay increase in years and an increase in medical and dental every year with $5,000 deductibles, or have nothing at all.

Do we need this increase? The answer’s simple: no.

Let the cops pay for their own pensions just like the rest of us have to. It sucks, but it is what they need to do until time is once again on our side, and I do not see that happening any time soon. Get rid of the police union. With the money saved from union dues, you can then apply it towards a 401K. Unions do nothing but take, take, take.

Don’t do this, Dave. This is not good at all.

It’s hard enough living in this town. The gas stations gouging us every chance they get, and the grocery store is so darn high, as is everything else in this town—water, sewer and so on. They should rename this town “Taxville”—population unknown, due to high taxes. People are leaving. Can’t get a correct count.

You should be trying to bring business in here and not scaring them away. I can’t count all the empty store fronts we have in town. You would think the landlords would want to fill them; have someone pay the rent.

We need a hardware store and some other form of business other than fast food. By God, if I want pizza, no problem. We have many to choose from.

We need business. We need help with this debt. We need to create jobs. The town cannot survive on bars and fast food alone. Do you see all the kids wandering the streets with nothing to do? There is no hope when you have too much idle time on your hands. With idle time and no jobs, there is crime. Bring in some businesses that are useful to our town. Has anyone ever approached you on this, Dave?

This town is a mess. This country’s a mess. We don’t need to pay any more taxes. People are going to leave. I don’t know about you, Dave, but I am not getting any richer. Are you? I can’t afford to pay attention.

This tax increase is a bad, bad, bad idea; come up with something else. You have bled us way too long. We are a sinking ship and going down fast. Let’s try to stay afloat as long as possible, but you’re not making this easy at all by weighing us down with more taxes.

See you at the meeting … if there’s any room for all of us in town who want to fight this nasty tax.

Joseph P. Gallagher
Elburn

Editorial: Time to engage

in From the Editor's Desk by

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter: A letter from Kaneland boys cross country coach Chad Clarey

in Letters to the Editor by

It was fitting that our 15th state team qualifier for boys finished in the top 15 this year. Losing great seniors a year ago, we may have surprised some people by earning our third team berth in the last four years.

Sophomore Kyle Carter (53rd overall, 15:45) led our charge again this week. He put himself out in the mix of top 40 runners and raced very well for his first time in the state finals. He will go down as the fastest Kaneland sophomore to ever run at state, and just 20 seconds from our school’s best time, set by Trevor Holm a year ago.

Kyle has been a busy young man, not taking a single weekend off of racing since Labor Day. That’s a long grind for any runner. He never complained; just laced up his spikes and gave it his all.

The best of friends, John Meisenger and Conor Johnson, finished in a near-dead heat, with Conor outleaning John for 79th and 80th overall places, respectively. Very nice to see Conor back up in a scoring role, he helped us with for much of the season. His smile at the end may have been one of the highlights on the boy’s side of the Kaneland day. Meisenger passed plenty through the final two miles, using his surges very well. His consistency and toughness are key ingredients to what we will bring next fall.

Junior Brandon Huber (108th, 16:16) has been a special “find” this year. He found out early on that he could compete with Johnson and Meisenger. He hangs in there so well and gives us a consistent punch with the top four. He was brilliant on a weekly basis, and we look forward to what he’ll do as a senior.

Our fifth scoring runner, Miroljub Marin (159th, 16:40) completed our tally with a strong finishing kick. In his first year out for the team, he learned a great deal and helped give us the chance to compete at finals. He cares a lot about his teammates, and he is a very dedicated athlete. His leadership was always present, and we are fortunate to have had him.

Runner No. 6 Luis Acosta, a sophomore, gained very valuable experience today. He used his great speed at the end to close on Marin in the end, and pushing the score up on six other teams. We hope he has turned a corner on his thoughts about running these distances. He’s a super 800 runner and young, but this is his second state meet, and the experience will pay huge dividends later in his career.

Senior Clayton Brundige (190th, 17:04) was a rock-solid veteran leader who has been to this meet before. A two-time alternate, he gleaned a great deal of understanding about leadership from the Valles, Markusons and Reusches of his early years. To cap his cross country career with his entire family in tow was special. Clayton is as nice a young man as you can meet—sincere, yet a heck of a runner. I hope he has a huge track season and goes out in style at state.

We return five of seven runners next fall. Experience was a big factor for us in today’s race. We got it. They are motivated by it. To do more, we’ll have to give more in training and all the other sacrifices a great team makes. There’s no question we were blessed this year, and losing our senior class, including Nate Rehkopf and others, will be a blow. But this team has a hunger now, which will only be satisfied by making a return trip to Detweiler.

Well done, Knights. You’ve made our program shine once again.

Chad Clarey
KHS cross country coach

Letter: The 2011 Boy Scout Camperall

in Letters to the Editor by

On the weekend of Oct. 14-16, the Boy Scouts of Sugar Grove Troop 41 and other Scouts from Three Fires Council all came together for the 2011 Boy Scout Camperall at the Sandwich fairgrounds. There is only a camperall every three years.

On Friday, Oct. 14, the Boy Scouts gathered at the Sandwich fairgrounds. On Saturday, the Scouts woke up and made breakfast. At 9 a.m., all the Scouts gathered at the grandstands for the opening ceremony. There were many activities for the Boy Scouts to have fun at, like several bounce houses, a radio demonstration, an Order of the Arrow village, a disability awareness center and many other events. Then at sundown, the Scouts again gathered at the grandstands for the closing ceremony and a really cool fireworks show. Then in the morning, the Boy Scouts packed up and left.

For information on joining Boy Scouts, please contact Scoutmaster Dave Seraphin at (630) 466-4913.

Mark Wojak
Sugar Grove

Letter: People-watching cities

in Letters to the Editor by

The village of Sugar Grove has become fun to watch, coming in second to “Dancing with the Stars.” As the stars are dancing on TV, the local officials are devising their next move to compete for top billing.

One day it is the Library Board’s reckless firing of their administrator, and the next day it is the Village Board doing a great big Tax Increment Financing deal. It certainly seems in the best interest of local citizens to be involved with local administrators at this time, although it is aggravating to tear one’s self away from the “Dancing.”

The new Sugar Grove Library building is something to make a person proud. The present Library Board designed and spared no cost in the construction of this beautiful facility—large parking lots, too many trees to count, bronze statutes, 11 chandelier light fixtures at $11,000 each … and failed to provide funds for book inventories. Taxpayers must have realized the real library purpose was overlooked, as noted by their continuous tax referendum rejections to increase operating revenue.

Now, the Library Board has again behaved outside the realm of good judgment. The interim director they have hired has prudently realized the library’s financial dilemma, thus voluntarily reducing her own $72 per hour salary to $50. Unfortunately, the reduced salary will not be enough with legal costs and the board’s inability to efficiently operate the library.

This last week, I was invited to Sugar Grove Village Hall for a meeting with the village administrator. The subject of the meeting was the announcement of a new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program. The village president made a short visit to express the need for taxing district cooperation within the community. I wasn’t clear on the cooperation request other than the last Aug. 16, 2011, $128 million, 1,824-acre TIF proposal to the community, rejected by taxing districts and local citizens in a vocal display worth your TV watch time. In that meeting, the village administration and trustees took a public accusation of a conscious conflict-of-interest $9 million relationship with a local engineering firm with family ties to the village president. Cooperation and trust by all were damaged a little at this point.

The village, now two calendar months later, is presenting a new No. 2 TIF program to the local citizens. The No. 2 program will be two separate projects: the first one is called Area No. 1, and is 324 acres located along Route 30, southwest of the Aurora Airport; the second project, to be enacted immediately following Area No. 1, is Area No.2, which 643 acres located west of Route 47, to the north and south of Wheeler Road. Both of these TIF projects are scheduled to be board approved this year for (I am guessing) about $68 million in total. No matter the exact million here or million there, the local Sugar Grove property tax owner is allowing the village to self-authorize the issuance of municipal obligations up to $68 million against your ability to pay property tax for the next 23 years. The financial power that is being asserted by the village administration to its taxpayers is too big to imagine.

Again, the Sugar Grove taxpayer is being asked to cooperate by providing more money. One can only hope by trusting our present “trustees” that the community will receive the best of care and avoid any additional embarrassing historical events tied to a political group’s embellished and empirical actions. Our community is our home and our chosen safe-haven for reasonable government and taxation.

As my mother-in-law says, “If you could take some people’s brain out and put it in a grasshopper, it would soon be jumping backwards.” She wouldn’t clarify if she meant the Sugar Grove taxpayers or their politicians.

Jerry Elliott
Sugar Grove

Editorial: It is time to go

in From the Editor's Desk by

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

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

Except on the Sugar Grove Public Library Board.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter: KHS students displeased with STEP

in Letters to the Editor by

Most students’ favorite parts of the day are when they get social time, and STEP has become the opposite. Instead, it’s a time when they’re supposed to be getting work done quietly if they don’t need help with anything. Some teachers are lenient with what the students can do within their class, but others have stricter rules; sitting quietly or not being able to travel to anywhere that does not involve educational help.

This change in STEN has even stopped some of the clubs from gaining new members, because students have other priorities after school. I think it’s just as important to be active within the school as it is to get good grades. I also think that if the students in STEP don’t need any immediate help, then they should be allowed to join clubs that should be allowed to run during that period of the day.

“STEP was changed so the students will have more academic time during the day,” M&M Coordinator Beth Trafton said.

The problem with STEP is that most students seem to be bored. They finish their homework and are left wondering who in the room is interesting to talk to.

“I honestly think STEP is like a waste of time and we come here to do nothing,” junior Alyssa Nahley said.

STEP is definitely a big help to all the students who would like their grades raised, but other students who are OK with their grades would rather be spending a little time with their friends. I think that’s why most Kaneland teens dislike STEP.

But the student population still has lunch and time in the hallways to talk to their friends. I feel we all can spare a little of our free time for the better of the student population.

Some freshmen need the time in the morning to study and get their bearings. It’s a new year and a new school, and STEP is like a study hall—something they’re all familiar with, and something they ‘took with them’ from last year.

Looks like everyone will have to adapt to STEP and do what they’re supposed to do. As much as I prefer social time over schoolwork, there are other students that need help more than anything and it’s important to keep our grades high so we can have a bright and enjoyable future.

McKayla Helm
KHS freshman

Letter: St. Gall’s dinner/dance raises money for new church

in Letters to the Editor by

St. Gall recently held its annual Gala Dinner Dance, Silent Auction and Live Auction. This was an extra-special celebration this year, as our parish is celebrating its Centennial Anniversary or 100 years as a parish in the Rockford Diocese. The Gala is the largest fundraiser the parish and the capital campaign funds are for a new church, which will be located on the corner of Hughes Road and Route 47 in Elburn. Without all the generosity of local businesses, events like this would not be possible! Thank you to each and every person who donated items or services for our Gala Dinner Dance. God Bless You.

Rev. Karl Ganss, Pastor, St. Gall Church

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

in From the Editor's Desk by

by Vicki Wright, CEO
Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter: Civic Committee’s match questioned

in Letters to the Editor by

For years now, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a small but very wealthy group, has been railing against public pensions. Last spring, they tried to pass a plan that would cut the pension benefits for teachers, firefighters and other public employees on the promise the plan would save taxpayer dollars.

However, the math of the Civic Committee’s plan is flawed, and the committee knows it. SB512 would have cost taxpayers more than $34 billion in additional money over the next 15 years. And it would have killed the state’s pension systems, leaving hundreds of thousands of teachers and retired teachers in a lurch.

Teachers don’t earn social security. For most, their pension is their life savings. And, they’ve paid for it—9.4 percent of every one of their paychecks has gone toward their retirement plan, a plan they believe is guaranteed by the state’s constitution.

As much as the Civic Committee, a group of Chicago-area millionaires, wants to blame the problems the pension systems are facing on public employees, the committee is wrong.

No, it wasn’t the employees who siphoned money from the pension system. It was lawmakers. In their zeal to end the pension system, has the Civic Committee thought about the future? If the pension system is killed off, what will happen to the hundreds of thousands of teachers who do now or will rely on it for retirement income? They have no social security to fall back on.

Then what? Then what will the Civic Committee do? They act as if public employees are the enemy of this state. We are not. We are representatives of the majority of working people in Illinois. We are the middle class.

We are in every community working diligently to improve our schools and to help our students. We care about the future of our students and their families, and taking away our earned retirement security sets a wrong example. We should all be working to build up the economic status of families, not tear it down.

We are not the enemy. We are Illinois.

Cinda Klickna
President
Illinois Education Association

Letter: Kane transportation department commended for Bliss Road work

in Letters to the Editor by

Thank you to Kane County’s Division of Transportation’s John Guddendorf, and the many different crews working with John, for the excellent road work done on Bliss Road starting just south of Interstate 88 and extending past Bliss Woods Forest Preserve.

John kept the community informed throughout the entire project and listened to what each resident had to say about the job. The crews all worked hard in some pretty hot weather, kept delays to a minimum, and kept a safe and clean roadway at all times.

Thank you to John and to all involved in this project for proving that local government can get the job done quickly, efficiently and leave us with a beautiful roadway.

Mr. and Mrs. Dan Graceffa
Sugar Grove

Letter: The last, best chance for the Sugar Grove Library

in Letters to the Editor by

Finally, after four months of community outrage, the Sugar Grove Library Board has taken a turn toward restoring sanity to the precarious financial situation and acknowledging the possibility they made a mistake.

With the library on the verge of bankruptcy, the board has just voted to engage in mediation with the former director, Beverly Holmes Hughes.

The board, specifically Joan Roth, Art Morrical, Bob Bergman and Julie Wilson, terminated Holmes Hughes in a surprise coup last June—despite her 20 years of service, being named the 2010 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year and the high regard of the whole Illinois library world. This action resulted in three consequences:

First, the community outrage was immediate, grew and has continued at every board meeting since. Second, as an immediate result, the board began spending funds that not only were not budgeted for, but will not be available unless drastic service cuts are made. Interim directors were paid at twice Holmes Hughes’ rate. Lawyers racked up huge fees. Consultants and search firms are on the hook. Third, the board action caused the disbanding of the essential financial support group, the Friends of the Library.

There now exists the very real possibility the library will not continue to exist this year as we have known it. Something has to give—this board has tried to overspend their way out of their mistake. Programs may be reduced or eliminated, hours (or days) may be cut, staff may be laid off.

At the last board meeting, the three trustees who have been trying to bring fiscal responsibility to the library—Bill Durrenberger, Dan Herkes and Anthony Oliver—were joined, in an act of community selflessness and some courage, by Julie Wilson to begin a mediation process with Holmes Hughes.

Mediation will not necessarily result in rehiring Holmes Hughes, but will force the cabal that terminated her to defend their actions and bring out into the open their questionable excuses.

Of course, a professional and competent board would have attempted mediation before Holmes Hughes was terminated. But that was not on the agenda of Roth, Morrical or Bergman. Given their public statements of reasoning and intentions, it is likely these three will make every effort to sabotage mediation. In the past four months, in addition to turning deaf ears to their community, they have engaged in questionable ethics, conflicts of interest and manipulation of facts. It is to be expected they will bring excruciating pressure on Julie Wilson for her turn toward common sense and respecting her community.

For everyone who is concerned about how this board has wasted taxpayer funds, who is concerned about the financial health of the library, who is concerned about the very existence of their library—please make your views known. This might well be the last chance to stop the bleeding, restore the community reputation and begin mitigating this obvious mistake.

Voice your support for the efforts of Trustees Durrenberger, Herkes, Oliver and Wilson. Attend the next Library Board meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 27.

Douglas Hartman
Past president
Sugar Grove Library Board

Editorial: What communities do

in From the Editor's Desk by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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