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Editorial/Opinion - page 37

Letter: Big Rock Library happenings

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Visit the Big Rock Library during the Plowing Match activities on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18. Check the activity board for times for storytellers and craft activities for the youngsters on the front porch.

Judie Christensen and Susie Kritzberg from The Old Barn Museum will be at the big oak dining room table with a miniature tepee to view and Indian artifacts to handle. They will be accompanied by Buffie, the mounted buffalo, for a unique photo opportunity with your family.

Hunt for treasures at the large semi-annual, gently used book sale on both days. Bargain bag prices are in effect from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

There is an ongoing remembrance of Cindy Polfer’s life and talents in the upstairs meeting room. She was a College of DuPage fashion design student, so the room is filled with the creations of a very talented knitter and creative mind.

One of the newest ventures in the village is highlighted in the informative display upstairs by Rebecca Gengler, featuring Polish pottery.

If you cross the parking lot to the Historical Society Museum, Bob Mau has an ongoing wood carving demonstration both days. He is a skilled carver who recently exhibited at the International Congress of Wood Carvers in Iowa.

You can find Big Rock Library and Historical Society Museum across the street from the Plowing Match grounds at 48W445 Hinckley Road in Big Rock. If you haven’t yet toured this library in a restored Victorian house or the museum highlighting Big Rock history, you’re in for a treat of the best kind.

Mary Hauge
Big Rock

Letter: Thank you for supporting Kaneland Sports Boosters

in Letters to the Editor by

For the past several months, the Kaneland Sports Boosters have been challenging local businesses and supporters to “Accept the Challenge” and help raise funds for the 2011 Castle Spirit Challenge. I am extremely humbled to write that over 60 companies, businesses and individuals contributed to the Challenge and helped raise over $25,000 in funds, goods and services to help support the Kaneland Sports Boosters.

The purpose of the Kaneland Sports Boosters is to provide our athletes and coaches with the extras that the school budget cannot fund. Each year, the Boosters provide tens of thousands of dollars of raised funds to enhance our sports programs at Kaneland High School and Kaneland Harter Middle School. Over the past year, we have purchased: new goal posts at Peterson Field, a new sound system in the Main high school gym, ImPact Concussion Assessment software for all high school athletes, equipment and mats for track and field, portable sound systems for outdoor sports, charter buses and accommodations for State-bound athletes and teams (high school football, high school baseball, high school track and middle school track), IESA entry fees for our middle school athletes, and many other important equipment needs. Additionally, we provide an annual $1,000 donation to Special Olympics and four $1,000 scholarships awarded to graduating seniors.

None of these funding needs would be met without the generous support of our Castle Spirit Challenge sponsors. Our 2011 Castle Spirit Challenge Sponsors are: Castle Bank, Elburn Herald, Harris Golf Cars, Kane County Chronicle, SignFX, Delnor Express Care, G-Force Labels & Printing, Ream’s Elburn Market, Advanced Realty Consultants, Brucher Machining, Delnor Health & Wellness, Fox Valley Orthopedics, Hair Directors, Leyden Electric, Mediacom, Old Second Bank, Pepsi Americas, Peterson Farms, Rich Harvest Farms, Robinson’s Auto Repair, Vital Chiropractic, Attorney Sally McClellan, Audrey Ritchey-Miche Bags, Calamity Jane’s, Engineering Enterprises, Fox River Foods, Herff Jones Class Rings, Hill’s Country Store, Hintzsche Fertilizer, Hughes Creek Golf Club, Kirhofer’s Sports, Paisano’s Pizza and Grill, Richwrap, Sugar Grove Park District, Sugar Grove Volunteer Fire Association, Windsor Pointe Community HOA, Avalon Carper and Upholstery Cleaning, Bob Jass Chevrolet, Builder’s Asphalt, FireSide Grille, Harner’s Bakery & Restaurant, Dr. Harry and Cheryl Krauspe, MicroTax, Open Range Grill, State Street Dance Studio, West Physical Therapy and the entire Kaneland Sports Booster Board of Directors.

On behalf of the Kaneland Sports Boosters and the Kaneland High School and Middle School athletes and coaches, we would like to say thank you. We could not have done this without your generous support.

Go Knights!

Ryan Delahanty
Lyle Brundige
Kaneland Sports Booster Directors
Castle Spirit Challenge Chairmen

Guest Editorial: Thank you for a successful Elburn Days Festival

in From the Editor's Desk by

by Lion Uwe Rotter, 2011 Elburn Days Chair
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the community for supporting our 82nd Elburn Days Festival, which took place Aug. 19-21, at Elburn Lions Park.

In these difficult economic times, any upswing is well noted, and I am proud to say that this event drew more attendees than last year. Thank you so much.

It is always wonderful to see how the community comes together for this event. May it be for the parade, the rides, the food, the music, the community stage performances, the 4-H display, the Boy Scout breakfast, the 5-K run, the tractor pull, the R/C racing car and truck demonstrations, the mud volley ball, or the beer garden.

The Elburn Lions have something for everyone during Elburn Days and we Lions aim to please.

A thank you goes out to all of our wonderful sponsors: A-1 Concrete Leveling & Foundation Repair, American Bank & Trust Co., Bob Jass Chevrolet, Collision Centers of America, Computer Network Management, LLC., Country Automotive, Inc., Daily Herald, Delnor Hospital, Dr. Harry Krauspe, DDS, Drs .Horton & Vranas, DDS, Elburn Cooperative Co., Elburn Chamber of Commerce, Elburn Herald, Elburn Market, Inc., Elburn Radiator & Repair, Eyes on Elburn, Ltd., Fifth Third Bank, Fleck & Uhlich, Ltd., G. Snow & Sons, Gaffney’s PMI, Hobby Town USA, Hodges Westside Truck Center Inc., Hogan Walker, LLC., Hughes Creek Golf Club, Inboden’s Meats, Ltd., J & R Herra Plumbing & Heating, Jet Black Comedy, Joe Dieter & Sons, Inc., Kane County Chronicle, Knucklehead’s Tavern, LaFarge North America, Leyden Electric, Inc., M & M Dance, Mediacom Communications Corp., Midwest Window & Supply, M.T. Kelley Electric, LLC., Old Second Bank, Paisano’s Pizza & Grill, Photocraft, Inc., Rempe-Sharpe & Assoc., Inc., S & K Masonry, Inc., S & P Builders, Inc., Schenk Custom Builders, Schmidt’s Towne Tap, SH & D General Trucking, Inc., Site Utility, Inc., Skinner Amusements, Inc., St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club, The Morse Group, Tri County Coins & Collectibles, U.S. Specialty Packaging, Unilock Chicago, Inc., United Visual, Inc., Valley West Sandblasting & Painting, Inc., Vermeer Midwest, and WSPY FM 107.1. Thank you all for your support.

As with any event production, many hands assist behind the scenes, and I want to pay tribute to them. They are the many Lions Club chair persons and volunteers that made the 82nd annual Elburn Days so successful. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication.

Finally, I wish to thank the many Elburn Boy Scouts, the Elburn Chamber of Commerce, the Village of Elburn and Blackberry Township for their help and involvement.

See you next year at the 83rd annual Elburn Days.

Letter: Thank you for the honor

in Letters to the Editor by

I am writing to thank the Elburn Lions Club and others for selecting Carole and myself as the Grand Marshals of the 2011 Elburn Days Parade. It is an honor that we will treasure for the rest of our lives.

As many of you know, I retired in October 2009 to be more attentive to Carole, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in October 2004. Since then, she has gradually declined, but is “still Carole,” with a great outgoing personality and sense of life, who lives in the present, not in the past or in the future. The 40-minute ride in the parade was a great pick-me-up for both of us.

We have been blessed, as many of us have been, by living and/or working in and around Elburn and the greater Kaneland community, where we are accepted for who we are, and not for what we have. We have worked together, as others in the past, to make our community better. And, there is no better example of this than the Elburn Lions Club.

My dad, who was very active in the Aurora Noon Lions Club, was not a person given to slogans, etc. But when he died in 1964, we found a card in his wallet with the following written on it that embodies Lionism and has become our family creed, as follows: “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again”.

Jim Michels

Letter: Sugar Grove Blood Drive scheduled for Sept. 12

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Your blood donation is urgently needed by someone. Please mark your calendars for Monday, Sept. 12. Every blood type is in short supply and much appreciated.

The Sugar Grove Firefighters Auxiliary, along with the Sugar Grove Fire Department, will hold a blood drive at the Sugar Grove Fire Department, located at 25 Municipal Drive. The donation hours are from 3 to 7 p.m.

Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. Call Joy at (630) 466-7190 or Kathy at (630) 466-4634 for more information or to make an appointment.

We thank you for your much needed donation, and for sharing the “gift of life.”

Joy Rubo
Blood Drive Coordinator,
Sugar Grove Firefighters Auxiliary

Letter: Tollway drivers should stand together

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For over 50 years, we have had opportunities to get rid of having to pay a toll/tax to use Illinois highways, but we didn’t take action.

Now that the toll/tax is going up by as much as 85 percent in January, you have gotten mad. The question is, are you mad enough? You might think that it’s too late, but it’s not. If you can get a few fighting tollway drivers together, there are thousands of us that will join you.

Gov. Pat Quinn and our elected state senators and representatives all understand the power of numbers (votes). Now is the time for tollway drivers to stand together and be counted.

Russell Johnson
Sugar Grove

Letter: Kaneland Foundation wants golfers

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The Kaneland Foundation is a non-profit organization that has contributed for decades to the educational needs of the students of Kaneland District #302. Our mission is to support academic excellence through innovation.

Please consider joining us at the Kaneland Foundation Annual Golf Outing on Thursday, Sept. 15, at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove.

Feel free to contact Beth Sterkel at (630) 365-8295 with questions you may have about the Kaneland Foundation or to have a registration form mailed or e-mailed to you.

Jeff Schuler, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Letter: Thank you for supporting ‘Ellen’s Excellent Sale’

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I cannot believe the eighth and final “Ellen’s Excellent Sale” has already come and gone. I stand amazed that together we raised $10,200 for Lazarus House. The support from the community these past eight years has been overwhelming.

I love to see everyone get excited about serving others and the Lord. Over 80 volunteers worked extremely hard and had a little (OK, a lot) of fun. We blocked off the street again this year, and the sale was complete with raffle items, lemonade shake-ups, face painting and 60 pans of brownies.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for being so amazing. When my dad named the sale “ Ellen’s Excellent Sale,” we just thought it was a clever title, but I now realize I was selfish in taking the credit. All I do at the sale is talk and play cashier. The community is really what makes our sale happen.

All the volunteers are incredible. They work tirelessly, (even when I’m tired). I am so privileged to have such amazing people in my life. To those of you who came to the sale to support Lazarus House, I can’t thank you enough.

Without customers, well, we wouldn’t make any money. Even if you don’t buy anything, it makes us so happy when someone just comes up and says,”Job well done,” or “ Way to go!” We love that. That’s what I think the sale is all about—people getting excited to serve. Sure, the money is great, but awareness is better.

As the “Ellen’s Excellent Sale” saga comes to a close, I cannot believe what an awesome adventure it has been. Although the opportunity to be involved with the sale may be over, why not get involved at Lazarus House? The St. Charles shelter is open 24/7. You could help your neighbors in need by volunteering your time and/ or resources.

So reach out and get involved. It could change your life … I know it changed mine.

Ellen Wildman

Letter: Help find a cure

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In the last few years I have been involved with the Jason’s Hogfan Party. Jason’s Hogfan Party is really a fundraiser for leukemia and lymphoma. Jason Gould was a teacher and a huge fan of the University of Arkansas teams. Fans like this are called Hogfans.

Jason was diagnosed with acute leukemia in May of 2003. He responded well to chemotherapy and went into remission. He was told that in 80 percent of cases this type of leukemia will not come back. Unfortunately, he was in the unlucky 20 percent. But he enjoyed over a year of remission before it returned. He was told that his best chance for survival was a transplant. Jason had the baby cord stem cell transplant in May of 2005. He had some pretty scary infections, but was doing great and told he could resume his life. Unfortunately, he had developed a rare viral complication that was treated too late. Jason’s adventure in this life was over.

I only had the pleasure to meet Jason one time, when I went to a fundraiser with Tracy and met him through his mother, Sandy. But, when the first Hogfan party was initiated, Tracy and I were there. While there, sitting in the crowd with many others, something came over me, watching, wondering why I wasn’t doing more than just sitting there.

What did I do? I got up and started emceeing the event. I wanted to do something and not knowing Jason personally, I thought this was the best I could do. I know it is hard to ask people for money, no matter what the cause. I have the gift of gab and have no problem asking for money, especially for a cause such as this.

Maybe there was a reason for me doing this, maybe someone more powerful than you or I had me do this. I say this because just this year, two very special people that mean a lot to me have been diagnosed with lymphoma. One is a young man who has become very close to Tracy and me; we consider him as part of our family. The other is an old high school friend. You know that friend, the one that you were very close to in school, but drift apart through age and time. But when you see them, it is like time has never passed. For this, I personally dedicate this year’s Hogfan party to them and pray they both heal quickly.

I have no doubt that you have someone in your life that is affected with some type of cancer. I hope you will help support me any way you can. Please join Tracy and me Saturday, Sept. 10, between 4 and 10 p.m. Adults cost $25, children cost $10, and children under 7 are free. All proceeds of Jason’s Hogfan Party will go to Ohio State University’s Cancer Research Center. Visit www.friendsofjasongould.com.

Kevin Williams

Editorial: Second chance to make a good impression

in From the Editor's Desk by

The village of Sugar Grove held what turned into part one of at least a two-part public hearing regarding a proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District on Aug. 16.

The public hearing drew so much interest from residents and government officials from the area that the meeting had to be moved to a larger venue to hold the 150 to 175 people in attendance. Not only was the turnout significant, but so was the overwhelming negative response to the proposed TIF District that would span 1,800 acres for 23 years. A TIF District is an economic tool that seeks to stimulate economic development by taking the incremental tax the village receives for improving a projected area. Those dollars are then used to fund the development costs.

The concerns from the hearing ranged from issues relating to the size of the proposed district, to the length of time the district would exist. Additional concerns were raised regarding the process undertaken so far, as well as the potential negative impacts on other taxing bodies in the area.

Regardless of the concern, all of the opinions shared during the public hearing expressed a negative view of the current plan. Most of the people expressing those opinions were given the freedom to speak without being interrupted by village officials—most, except for Big Rock Township Supervisor Sandy Carr. When Carr reiterated a question she said she has fielded in the past—raising the issue of a potential conflict of interest on the part of Village President Sean Michels—she was interrupted by the village president, and a shouting match ensued between multiple members of the Village Board and individuals in attendance. Thankfully, Carr was allowed to finish her prepared statement, but the underlying tension in the meeting had boiled over, and the tone for future interactions had been set.

We strongly urge individuals on both sides of the debate to keep their tempers in check. Carr certainly had the right to raise the question of a potential conflict of interest—during a public hearing—and she had the right to do so without being interrupted and nearly shouted down by village officials.

Michels, as village president, needs to demonstrate a measure of leadership and professionalism that were sadly absent for at least a portion of the public hearing. As a public figure who has run for office at both the local and state levels, he should be no stranger to differences of opinions, tension-filled meetings, or questions that he may disagree with. Given that, it was surprising for him to be the one to interrupt the proceedings and have to be told by members of the public—repeatedly and loudly—that he did not hold the floor.

The TIF District issue is contentious. There are a large amount of negative views about it. At the same time, there is a large amount of interest in a TIF District as a concept.

To bridge the gap between interest in the concept and opposition to this specific plan, a leader who has a cool head and a desire to really connect with those who both share and oppose his or her views needs to stand up. Michels, due to his position as village president, is that person by default. However, if he is unable or unwilling to do so, we hope someone else on the Village Board will fill that leadership role; a role that will be vital if Sugar Grove actually wants to create a TIF District that isn’t met with significant negativity.

If Michels still has an eye on the seat representing the 25th District in the Illinois State Senate—a seat he previously ran for and lost—then he needs to demonstrate an ability to hear questions he may object to without reacting in an inappropriate, emotional manner.

Part two of the public hearing will be held Tuesday, Sept. 6. Michels and the rest of the Village Board hava a second chance to demonstrate their willingness to be open to opposing viewpoints. Not everyone gets second chances like this, so we hope they take advantage of this one.

Letter: ComEd sends letters about power supply changes

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You may have recently received a letter from ComEd informing you that your electric power supplier had been changed and that if you did not authorize this change you should contact them or Direct Energy.

This notice is mandatory for your protection so that you are not “slammed.”

As a reminder, at the April 5, 2011 election, a referendum was passed giving the village of Sugar Grove the authority to negotiate for electric rates (power) on behalf of residents and small businesses. The village then bid for electrical energy supply and was able to obtain a lower rate, which is an approximate 23 percent reduction in electricity supply costs.

Direct Energy was the lowest bidder. All residents and small businesses should have received direct notification of the village’s successful electric aggregation program from Direct Energy in July 2011.

As a result of the village’s actions, the typical resident is expected to save $15 per month beginning with the October 2011 bill. The actual start of receiving energy from Direct Energy begins in early September 2011.

Please note that you will continue to receive your electricity through the ComEd delivery system (power lines). Customers will also continue to receive customer service, outage response, and outage notifications through ComEd. Everyone has the option to “opt out” of the program.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Cynthia L. Galbreath
Village Clerk/Administrative Assistant
Sugar Grove

Letter: Big Rock Cowhands 4-H finishes another successful year

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Many of the members entered their 4-H projects at the Kane County Fair in July. The kids chose projects such as woodworking, photography, vegetables, cooking, welding, visual arts, aerospace, woodworking, horticulture, interior design, dogs, cats, swine, horses, beef, poultry, rabbits and small pets. The projects are judged and the kids receive a blue, red or white ribbon based on the quality and knowledge of their project.

This year’s members are Bret Bastian, Kelsey Bastian, Courtney Biery, Jacob Biery, Nathan Biery, Kassey Blair, Kory Blair, Chase Bornemann, Carson Day, Erik Dunteman, Jessica Dunteman, Lauren Dunteman, Rebecca Dunteman, Elizabeth Elliott, Julia Hanacek, Bridget Hankes, Michael Long, Robbie McKenzie, Lauren Ott and Tyler Ott. The leaders are Darrin and Linda Ott. The club officers for the year were: President—Erik Dunteman, Vice President—Bret Bastian, Treasurer—Lauren Dunteman, Secretary—Lauren Ott.

Our club meets at the Big Rock Town Hall on the third Sunday of every month at 6:30 p.m. New members are always welcome. Anyone interested in joining can call Darrin or Linda Ott at (630) 556-3085.

Anita Novicki
Big Rock

Letter: Tractor raffle

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The Maple Park American Legion Post 312 is sponsoring a Tractor Raffle to benefit Maple Park Fun Fest. The drawing will take place on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 8 p.m. on stage on Main Street in Maple Park. Tickets are $20; only 500 tickets will be sold.

First prize will be a Cub Cadet Tractor, model SLTX 1054 OR $2,000 cash. The second, third and fourth prizes will be $500, $300 and $200 cash, respectively.

Tickets are available for purchase at Poc’s Music in Dekalb, A&P Grains in Maple Park or by contacting mapleparkfunfest@yahoo.com.

Beth Miller
Maple Park

Guest Editorial: Local youth make a difference while enjoying Elburn Days

in From the Editor's Desk by

The Elburn Leo Club is a youth group of boys and girls ranging in age from 8 years to 18 years old who identify needs within the community and work together to fulfill those needs.

The Elburn Leos have continually gone above and beyond to meet the needs of their community, help others in need and support local charities. They host events ranging from Breakfast with Santa to a Wii Tournament, all in hopes of raising funds for charities.

Their sponsor, the Elburn Lions Club, has led by example for 82 years. The Elburn Leos have had the opportunity to work side by side with the Elburn Lions and they have learned early on how their efforts can make a difference. They have learned that working hard at fundraising events is rewarding and fun. Their success gives the Elburn Leos the opportunity to help others by supporting local organizations and the community.

In December 2010, The Elburn Leo Club hosted a food drive. Upon delivery of the items to the Elburn Food Pantry, volunteer Rita Burnham explained that the food pantry historically has a greater need for items when summer comes to an end. Over the past few months, the Elburn Leo members decided that hosting a food drive at the annual three-day festival, Elburn Days, would be the best way to reach the community and support the local food pantry.

The Elburn Leo Club is inviting all community residents to participate in the food drive during Elburn Days from Friday, Aug. 19, through Sunday, Aug. 21. Non-perishable food items, paper and/or personal hygiene products will be accepted at the Leo Club Ice Cream Concession Stand throughout the weekend. The Leo Club Ice Cream Concession Stand is located at Elburn Lions Park, 500 Filmore St., Elburn, in the main pavilion.

Individuals that make a donation of non-perishable food items, paper and/or personal hygiene products on Friday evening, Aug. 19, will be entered in a raffle. Raffle prizes will be drawn throughout the Elburn Days weekend. The Elburn Leos are up for the challenge of restocking the shelves at the local food pantry and ask that everyone attending Elburn Days help them succeed in their goals.

The Elburn Leos’ motto is “Making a Difference,“ and by sponsoring a food drive, they are making a difference by helping feed residents in their community.

Pam Hall
Elburn Leo Club

Letter: Thank you to friends and neighbors in Sugar Grove

in Letters to the Editor by

My deep appreciation to the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and all those who nominated me to receive the 2011 Citizen of the Year award. What a wonderful surprise.

I am very grateful for the many calls, cards and gifts that I have received. I am proud to be a member of the Sugar Grove community.

Lil Adams
Sugar Grove

Letter: A thank you to those who helped with Meredith Road fire

in Letters to the Editor by

On a behalf of the Maple Park and Countryside Fire Protection District, I would like to thank everyone who helped with the fire at 4N859 Meredith Road on Aug. 1.

We not only had two structures that day that were burning, but also an estimated 8,000 bales of hay. Without the help of all our neighboring departments, which we can always count on, we could not have handled the task that was long before us that day. With the temperatures reaching into the 90s that day, along with the humidity and the 11 hours on scene, it took all that were there to get the job done.

We would also like to thank the many private or community businesses that helped that day by supplying everyone with food, drinking water, cooling bus and fuel.

Following is a list of what it took that day to accomplish our task:

• 23 fire departments, of which nine tankers hauled over 200,000 gallons of water
• 125 fire and EMS personnel
• Kane County Red Cross—food and water
• Casey’s Gas Station—food and water
• Elburn McDonald’s—food
• Elliot & Wood Excavating—backhoe
• Frank and Adam Kozkowski—skid steer
• DeKalb County Trans-Vac—cooling bus
• Hintzsche Oil—fuel
• Kaneland School District—water supply

On a personal note, I cannot begin to thank everyone for how hard and well they worked together that day—from the chiefs who made my job easier, to those that helped in rehab; and, of course, the firefighters. Thank you.

Kevin Peterson
Maple Park and Countryside
Fire Protection District

Letter: Library director firing explained

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At its July 14, 2011 meeting, the Sugar Grove Public Library Board of Trustees, by a 4 to 2 vote, terminated the employment of Director Beverly Holmes Hughes. I was one of the two trustees voting against this termination. I have refrained from commenting out of respect for my fellow trustees, but with the expectation that an explanation would be provided.

The public is entitled to the explanation that they have demanded. This is not a minor personnel issue; what the board has done is equivalent to the nuns kicking Mother Teresa out of the convent. An explanation is also required to protect a good person’s reputation.

I have heard comments concerning the reasons for the board’s actions, many of which are vicious, ugly rumors. I can no longer sit idly by while my friend is hurt by these absurd remarks. I feel forced at this time to provide the explanation that the four trustees should be providing, as I have promised the community I would do.

It is my understanding that my four fellow trustees had reasons that fall into three general categories. First of all, these trustees would like different/additional programming that Mrs. Hughes was not providing despite their suggestions that she do so. For example, Board President Joan Roth has stated at several meetings that she would like to see more reading programs for first- through sixth-grade children. I have been told that on one occasion a volunteer wanted to initiate a particular program at the library, which program the trustees wanted but Mrs. Hughes would not allow.

Second, it is my understanding that the four trustees felt that they had had difficulty in the past getting Mrs. Hughes to provide them with certain financial and other information that they were requesting, in a timely manner or in the form requested by the trustees.

Third, the four trustees apparently feel that on an occasion or two, Mrs. Hughes made substantial expenditures or transfers of library funds without adequately informing the board in advance or properly explaining the matter to the board after the fact. If I am understanding my fellow trustees correctly, they are not saying that Mrs. Hughes’s actions were illegal or improper in any way; their complaint is that Mrs. Hughes did not fully explain or discuss the matter with them.

There are, of course, two sides to every story. In the three preceding paragraphs I am telling only one side—the side of the four trustees voting for termination—because that is my primary reason for making this statement—to speak for them because they refuse to speak for themselves. I am not going to go beyond that at this point in time, because to do so would make this statement unduly lengthy.

I have tried very hard in this statement to accurately state the reasons that I believe caused my four fellow trustees to terminate the employment of Mrs. Hughes. Of course, anytime one person speaks for another, there is a good possibility that something will not be complete or accurate. In this situation, to the extent that any of my four fellow trustees objects to anything in this statement, they have absolutely no reason to do so. They could have—and should have—spoken for themselves by now and if they had done so, then I would not be issuing this statement.

I want to make one point very clear: nothing in this statement should be interpreted as suggesting that the board has done anything illegal in terminating the employment of Mrs. Hughes. I certainly don’t believe that to be the case. Mrs. Hughes was an “at will” employee, and the board had the right to terminate her for any reason or for no reason at all. I understand that that is the law. And I also understand that these decisions are made by majority vote and that the number 4 is higher than the number 2.

But as my friend Jerry Murphy so wisely stated in his public comment at our July 28 board meeting, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should. In terminating the employment of Beverly Holmes Hughes the Sugar Grove Public Library Board of Trustees has, in my opinion, made a monumental mistake. Mrs. Hughes ran this library like a well-oiled, finely-tuned piece of precision machinery, and now she is gone.

We will see what the future holds, but at present, particularly in light of developments at the last night’s board meeting (Aug. 11, 2011), things do not look rosy.

Bill Durrenberger
Sugar Grove Public Library District

Letter: Library director firing ‘explained’ but not justified

in Letters to the Editor by

As tax-paying citizens of Sugar Grove and library patrons, we’d like to thank Trustee Bill Durrenberger for finally providing some explanation for the Sugar Grove Public Library Board of Trustees’ (SGPLBT) July 14 firing of long-time Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes. Mr. Durrenberger’s letter is no doubt well intentioned and provides some sorely needed “inside” perspective for the board’s actions, but it provides no inkling of the “new direction” that the board reportedly has envisioned. And while Mr. Durrenberger’s letter may be an accurate look at the apparent reasons four trustees engineered Mrs. Hughes’ firing, the reasons he cites don’t accurately reflect reality as captured for the public record in the minutes of the board meetings during the last year.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, we are writing a long letter here because we don’t have time to write a short one. So, please bear with us as we examine the facts.

So, if the board trustees’ who ousted Mrs. Hughes “rationale” doesn’t wash with the facts, what’s the reality?

The March 24, 2011 SGPLBT meeting minutes show that President Roth did indeed discuss more first- through sixth-grade children’s programming during the school year. However, Director Hughes clearly cited several reasons for not scheduling such programming: today’s staff and funding limitations; overlap with Park District programming; poor past participation in such programs due to conflicts with busy after-school and extra-curricular schedules of school children today. In fact, the library does offer extensive programming for primary and secondary school children during school breaks and in the summer.

The point here is that President Roth did not at any time propose a formal motion for board vote to require Director Hughes to develop such programming, nor has President Roth formally proposed any actions to provide staffing and funding for such programming. Understandably, without clear board direction, Director Hughes did not pursue additional programming and continued to provide the programming that she knew worked for our community’s children.

As to the program suggested by a “volunteer”: Kaelynn Wilson-Bennet, Trustee Julie Wilson’s daughter, proposed the program in question. According to the minutes for the March 11, 2011 SGPLBT meeting, Director Hughes stated that such a program “would be complementary and embellish any current programs for the youth.” Following this comment, Trustee Sabrina Malano made a motion to support the program and “appropriate internal funding of $150.” Although this was the only program ever to be proposed directly to the SGPLBT—effectively circumventing standard procedure of proposing such programming to Youth Services Manager Sarah Barbel—Director Hughes certainly “allowed” Mrs. Wilson-Bennet to develop the program. In fact, it could be argued that Trustee Julie Wilson’s family relationship with Kaelynn Wilson-Bennet constitutes a conflict of interest and inappropriately added to friction between some trustees and Director Hughes.

Now let’s follow the money:

Trustee Durrenberger writes that the board felt they had trouble getting financial reporting from Director Hughes in a “timely manner or in the form requested.” Although there certainly had been problems and disagreements about accounting software and report formatting over the years, the recent dispute about financial reporting came about because Director Hughes combined several months of financial reports into a single document in her attempt to satisfy the board’s requirements despite her part-time work schedule while recovering from a six-week medical leave of absence due to a serious illness. As Trustee Durrenberger himself stated at the May 12, 2011, meeting in question: “I am saying that the woman has been seriously ill and everything else falls behind that. I’m not saying (the reports) are not important. She is our library lirector and we need to work around it. It’s that simple.” For those who have either been on the board over the years or have attended board meetings, trustees Roth and Morrical’s ability to actually read the financial reports seems to be a more serious problem.

Finally, Trustee Durrenberger says that the four trustees felt that Director Hughes made expenditures or fund transfers without “adequately informing the board in advance or explaining the matter after the fact.” This claim seems to most recently refer to a discussion at the June 2011 board meeting about expenditures and transfers of funds—and the meeting minutes clearly state: “Several Board members had various requests for explanations of several items in the financial report, which explanations were satisfactorily provide by Beverly (Director Hughes).” Following Director Hughes’ explanations, the board voted unanimously to “approve the financial report.” Clearly, the board has the power to not approve a financial report if there are serious questions about the reporting, but again, the board did not act or provide new direction.

If you’re still with us here, the more important point is one that Trustee Durrenberger’s letter does not address: the board’s undefined “new direction.” As taxpayers, we still are owed a detailed description of that new direction and a well-reasoned, business-like rationale for why that new direction could not include our director of over 20 years.

As Trustee Durrenberger himself concludes: the SGPLBT has “made a monumental mistake” in firing Director Hughes. As of this writing, the board is scrambling to cope with the latest fallout of this debacle: the resignation after less than a month of the new interim director.

And we taxpayers are still left worrying … about where the money will come from to replace the recently disbanded (in protest) Friends of the Library support—nearly $100,000.00 per year … about paying an Interim Director $80 per hour—reportedly twice Director Hughes’ hourly rate … about how we’ll pay for the board’s mounting legal fees at $180 per hour … about how we’ll pay for a search firm at over $10,000 … about the future of our library—a future that four Trustees have put in serious jeopardy without a single word of explanation that makes sense.

Jim Quinlivan
Sugar Grove

Editorial: Sugar Grove needs to rethink its TIF District proposal

in From the Editor's Desk by

For the past month or so, various taxing bodies from the area have been considering the implications of a proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District in Sugar Grove.

A TIF District is designed to spur economic development by drawing a boundary, and the additional tax revenue generated from within the boundary remains inside that boundary, earmarked to help continue the economic boundary.

So while it may be good for the village of Sugar Grove to build momentum for economic development, the flip side to that coin is that other taxing bodies—which also rely on the tax revenue from economic development within various village boundaries—would be frozen out of receiving any benefits from the development for a period of time. In the case of the TIF District currently proposed by Sugar Grove, that would be for 23 years.

This means that taxing bodies like the Kaneland School District, Sugar Grove Fire Protection District and others would receive no benefit from development within the TIF boundary for the life of the district, which in this case is proposed to be 23 years. In addition, the size of the currently proposed TIF District is massive, comprising approximately 1,800 acres.

It is not surprising that during various meetings over the past month, multiple representatives from multiple taxing bodies that would be impacted—the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District, Sugar Grove Township, Kaneland School District—have expressed their concerns with either the size of the district or the length of time.

According to Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler, who discussed the issue at the School Board meeting on Monday, the opposition to the scale and scope of the TIF District also includes the Kane County Board and approximately 20 percent of the properties in the Hinckley-Big Rock School District.

He said the district intends to speak out against the proposal at the Sugar Grove Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16, and suggested that both district staff and School Board members also attend the meeting.

We support the district’s position, which is that while there is merit to trying to spur economic development by using a TIF District as a tool, the current proposal includes too large of an area for too long of a time to be beneficial to the broader community.

The village of Sugar Grove does not exist in an island, and the circumstances that exist today will not be frozen in place for a full generation to come.

Each taxing body and each neighboring community is impacted by the decisions of each other, and to ignore the negative impacts created for everyone else in order benefit oneself seems to fly in the face of a true community spirit.

In addition, what may be a sound decision given today’s economic environment could create significant problems just a few years from now, let alone 23. For evidence, look at the economy 23 years ago, or 10 years ago, or even five years ago. Now imagine that today’s communities are bound by economic decisions made by a group of people taking actions based on the specific situations at those times.

If you think that one generation making economic decisions that a future generation will be bound by is a good idea, there is a United States Congress facing its lowest approval numbers ever that might shed light on how wise that type of thinking actually is.

We are glad to see our communities looking at ways to spur local economic growth, and we hope that they succeed in bringing new business and industry to the area. However, we hope that can occur without taking away potentially significant amounts of tax revenue for the various other districts for decades to come.

We have said it before, and we will continue to repeat the message every time it is relevant to the situation: We are a community of communities, and we must communicate effectively and work together so that all will benefit; and avoid situations where one entity is played off another, or one benefits at the expense of another.

We hope the village of Sugar Grove takes the concerns raised by the various other taxing bodies seriously and rethinks their current proposal, because while the overall concept is sound, the specific details leave much to be desired.

Letter: A Legacy of shame

in Letters to the Editor by

Four members of the Sugar Grove Library Board of Trustees—Art Morrical, Joan Roth, Julie Wilson and Bob Bergman (with a dishonorable mention to Sabrina Malano, who resigned before the action, but not before helping reappoint two of these, thus enabling the intention and ensuring the outcome)—have made a lasting impact on the community that will forever be their legacy of shame.

As many of you are aware, on July 14, the board summarily and without explanation fired the library director of 21 years, Beverly Holmes Hughes. Despite being an integral part of the community—2010 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year, a founding member of the Chamber of Commerce, continual volunteer and support to countless civic activities—Beverly was brutally instructed to vacate her office that very night.

What egregious or unlawful act had she committed to deserve or demand this contemptible treatment? No one knows, because the board refuses to offer an explanation. It certainly was not so heinous or of immediate urgency that it was obvious to all trustees—the vote was 4 to 2. In fact, at the July 28 board meeting, Trustee Bill Durrenberger stated he saw no reason.

Beverly was informed the board wanted to go in another direction. After being instrumental in creating the new library building, after making the library a centerpiece of the community, after ensuring the library would fully function and serve the public despite dwindling funds, in what incorrect direction exactly was Beverly going? And in what direction is this board taking our precious public asset? What vision is guiding them that necessitated this abrupt and painful act?

The only comment from any of the cabal of four, by Trustee Bob Bergman, was the almost comical, “We haven’t defined ‘new direction’ for ourselves, so I can’t define it for you.”

This board is more interested in vendettas and personal ego than fulfilling their public duty. This board failed to define expectations, with measurable metrics, for the director. Instead of their mission of general oversight, this board habitually meddles in personnel, program and acquisition decisions. Instead of following their elected responsibilities, they would rather act as amateur librarians.

This board has overseen countless failed referendums, thus failing to ensure the future health of their charge. This board has made numerous financial mis-steps that have made a challenging situation dire. Now add to the strain of limited taxpayer funding the unnecessary cost of hiring a consultant to find a new director. Now add unnecessary attorney fees being incurred to protect the board from the taxpayers. Now add the reality that the library’s strongest supporters likely will not work for future referendums. Now add the alienation of the Friends of the Library group, which funds programs and acquisitions.

This board has chosen to make the respected and highly regarded director the scapegoat for their ineptitude. At the July 28 public board meeting, despite widespread calls from the community they are accountable to, the board again refused to justify their actions. Over 75 members of the community—including the head of the Friends of the Library, trustees of the Village Board, a library professional consultant, and many regular library users—demanded for this action to be reversed. Twenty-one spoke against the board with no one in favor. The calls for board members responsible to resign were unending (listen to it at http://cl.ly/3B0B064 70l260d1T1I3A).

This issue is not going away, despite indifference of the board to those they are supposed to serve, as the Aug. 2 poll in this newspaper demonstrated when only 20 percent of over 130 respondents favored the board. Why? As this paper stated Aug. 4: “Whenever the community needed her, she has not only been there, but has been a leader.”

The next public board meeting is Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. Make your voice heard. It is past time this board cease to ignore those that elected them, cease to put their egos ahead of the public and cease the incredible harm they have done. Their neighbors have spoken. It is past time this board act mature, adult and admit a mistake or forever be tarred in the community. There are two courses available to salvage their legacy and reputations: either re-instate Beverly or resign.

Douglas Hartman
Past president
Sugar Grove Public Library
Board of Trustees

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