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Featured - page 12

Jorgensen named 2012 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year

in Featured/Sugar Grove by

Photo: This year’s Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year is 48-year resident Helen Jorgensen. Village President Sean Michels presented her with the award on Friday at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

by Cheryl Borrowdale
SUGAR GROVE—Helen Jorgensen is a bit embarrassed by all the attention she’s received ever since Village President Sean Michels named her Sugar Grove’s Citizen of the Year during the Corn Boil opening ceremonies last Friday.

Jorgensen, who has lived in Sugar Grove for 48 years, said that she preferred to stay in the background.

“It’s an honor, it’s an honor, but I really don’t think I deserve it,” she said. “What I did, I did because I wanted to. It wasn’t ‘oh, look at me, look what I did for the village.’ I like to be in the background, instead of out front, getting all this celebrity crap.”

Yet Jorgensen’s many friends insist that she should be recognized for all of her contributions to the Sugar Grove community—contributions so numerous that it was a challenge for the many who wrote letters in support of her nomination to even list them all.

Among them? Jorgensen founded the Sugar Grove newspaper, a hand-typed publication that she ran with a friend, Norma Anderson, from 1969 to 1992; was among the first female volunteer firefighters in Sugar Grove; drove a Kaneland school bus; carried mail on a rural route in Sugar Grove; and volunteered through the Sugar Grove Community Club, the Sugar Grove Methodist Church, the Kaneland PTA and the Kaneland Sports Boosters, among others.

She was a crossing guard and election judge, worked at elementary school fun fairs and American Legion fish frys, donated “gallons” of blood to the local blood bank and supported the food pantry.

She even organized garage sales in the 1970s to raise money for the village to buy playground equipment for Strubler Park.

“I’m not going to attempt to list all the committees, funeral brunches, baking, vacation Bible schools and many more activities in the years she has been a member since she moved to Sugar Grove,” wrote Lucy Cerny, a resident of Sugar Grove who nominated Jorgensen. “Small wonder she is known by so many people.”

Cerny said that she thought it was about time Jorgensen, who is 82, was recognized.

“She has always been in Sugar Grove and always promoted Sugar Grove, and she has sent in some of the previous nominees,” Cerny said. “I just thought it was her turn. She’s just always there when somebody needs help. It wasn’t just one thing; it’s the conglomeration of them all.”

After Cerny nominated her, she set about encouraging more than a dozen others to write letters of support, and the letters poured in.

“Her residence and career in Sugar Grove has always been one of caring and giving to her neighbors and the entire community. She is one of the unsung heroes that make Sugar Grove a good place to live in,” Stanley Anderson wrote in his nomination letter.

“(I) can’t remember when Helen turned down an opportunity to volunteer for something in Sugar Grove,” wrote Yorkville resident Ann Beckley.

Jorgensen said that the letters, which she received a copy of at the ceremony, were overwhelming, and that she hadn’t expected to be named Citizen of the Year.

“I was surprised,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t know I did all that stuff and that I was such a good person. I think they spread it on a little thick. I don’t like to be in the limelight; I’m a background person.”

But she knew something was up when she went to the Corn Boil on Friday and saw that all the members of her Bunco group were there, as well as her son and his wife, who rarely come to the Corn Boil.

“I kind of surmised what was about to happen,” Jorgensen said. “But I didn’t really know until Sean (Michels) got up and said, ‘the lady that got the award has sat on bleachers for years.’ Then I knew.”

Jorgensen, who moved to the village in 1964 with her husband and three young sons, Mike, Bob and Doug, has been a long-time supporter of Kaneland sports. Mike was a state champion wrestler in 1975 and 1976, as well as a football and track star, and her two younger sons and six grandchildren have all been involved in sports, as well. She missed just one football game last season, coming out to watch her grandson, Shane Jorgensen, play varsity football.

“I love sports, and I love my kids,” she said.

Originally from Pemberville, Ohio, she moved to Michigan with her husband, who was an air traffic controller. He was transferred to an air traffic control facility in Aurora a few years later, so the family moved to Naperville in 1963 and then to Sugar Grove in 1964, when her oldest son, Mike, was just in kindergarten.

The moves were what inspired Jorgensen to get involved.

“I was tired of not knowing anybody, so when we got here, I joined the PTA,” she said. “I’m happy to talk to everybody. I don’t ever meet a stranger; if I see someone, I go out and talk to them. It used to be that I knew everybody in town, but it’s grown so fast that sometimes now I go into the post office and don’t see anyone I know.”

Darr Lynn Klomhaus, who lived in Sugar Grove for many years before retiring to Arizona, said she had spent more than 40 years working with Jorgensen through the Kaneland PTA and the Sugar Grove Methodist Church.

“Every church activity that came up, Helen would help,” Klomhaus said. “If there was a funeral dinner, Helen would be helping out. Helen was the one person who would jump in and give 110 percent no matter what was asked of her. I was really happy (she was named Citizen of the Year). I think it was long overdue.”

SG Corn Boil 5K sees exceptional times (with photo gallery)

in Community Sports/Featured by

SUGAR GROVE—A sunny day brought out the best in area runners for the annual Sugar Grove Corn Boil 5K trek.

The Saturday race also brought in excess of 300 competitors.

Saturday’s overall race champion was Yorkville resident Patrick Austin, who finished first in his group with a time of 16 minutes, 11.2 seconds, equivalent to a 5:13 pace.

Hinckley’s Jake Austin was close behind with a time of 16:26, good for a 5:18 pace.

Knight cross country and track standout Kyle Carter, an incoming junior at KHS, finished third with a time of 16:44.9.

Oswego resident Ashley Golembeski was 11th overall and top female with a time of 19:56.7. Next on the female side was Sugar Grove’s Dorcey Bartholemew in 45th place with a time of 23:44.6.

Lisle’s Michael Lucchesi won the 2011 version of the race, with a time of 16:06.4.

Former KHS volleyball standout Katy Dudzinski finished 64th with a time of 25:01.2

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Jo-Jo the Clown to miss Corn Boil

in Featured/Sugar Grove by

Photo: Jo-Jo the Clown (Karen McCannon), a beloved figure in Sugar Grove, recently underwent triple-bypass surgery. Her heart ”needed more plugs to love everyone a little bit more,” according to Jo-Jo’s sidekick Punky. File Photo

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—This summer will be one of the few times that Jo-Jo the Clown (aka Sugar Grove resident Karen McCannon) has missed the Sugar Grove Corn Boil. In most previous years, when she was not riding around on her decorated golf cart, the “Clown Victoria”, she could be found at the Sugar Grove Between Friends Food Pantry tent, painting children’s faces and collecting rolls of toilet paper for the pantry.

It was Jo-Jo who began reminding people to donate items such as toilet paper, which people need, as well.

This year, McCannon is at The Tillers rehabilitation center in Oswego, Ill., recuperating from triple-bypass heart surgery. According to Jo-Jo’s friend and sidekick Punky, also known as Yvonne Needham, Jo-Jo’s heart needed more plugs to love everyone a little bit more.

Many people, especially the children, don’t even know McCannon’s name, but they know Jo-Jo. Like the pied-piper, riding the Clown Victoria, Jo-Jo leads the children through town every year for the Independence Day Parade.

Jo-Jo revived the tradition of a Fourth of July parade for the children—something that had fallen by the wayside for some time.

According to McCannon, her grandchildren had asked Jo-Jo to make a parade, and her response was, “How can you say no to that?”

Sugar Grove resident Pat Graceffa said that in about eight years, the parade has grown from a small group of children to hundreds of people. In addition to the many children who show up (with their parents) with red-white-and-blue-decorated bikes, strollers, wagons and scooters, the Sugar Grove fire and police departments participate in their fire engines and police cars.

As the parade winds through the streets of Sugar Grove, sirens blowing, residents sit outside their houses to watch, throwing candy to the children in the parade.

“It’s always fun,” Graceffa said.

McCannon has had her share of heartache and difficulties in her life. Her husband, Mick, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 1999 and passed away in 2002. At the time, McCannon said she learned something from her husband.

“You’ve got two choices (when something like this happens to you),” she said. “You can sit in a corner and cry, or you can fight.”

McCannon spends very little time sitting in the corner, crying. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself, and often puts the feelings of others before her own.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year after her husband died, she had been in clown school for about a month. She said she never thought about quitting her training to become a Christian Clown.

She had surgery in February 2003 and continued her classes in clown ministry while she underwent chemotherapy. She said she always felt better once she was in costume.

Together with her clown friends, Calico Rose, Tiny T and Mr. Mumbles, Jo-Jo formed Humor Opens Possibilities Everywhere (HOPE).

In addition to her clown ministry at the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church, Graceffa said Jo-Jo comes to the Farmer’s Market the first Saturday of every month for face-painting with the children, no matter how hot it is.

Jo-Jo volunteers at the Between Friends Food Pantry, sorting and distributing the food, as well as sending thank-you notes to people who have donated food and money.

“She’s energetic and always tries to focus on the positive,” Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels said. “She never really dwells on it (her problems); she keeps moving forward and works hard to bring happiness to the community.”

McCannon was honored as Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year in 2008, and Michels presented her with the award. Highlighting her service to the community, he described her contributions to Sugar Grove over the years.

McCannon had helped her husband and others build what is now called the Prairie Building in Volunteer Park. While her two children were in school, she volunteered for many school activities, was a Den Mother for the scouts, and coached girls baseball and high school softball.

Contributing to her community has become a way of life for McCannon, as well as for Jo-Jo.

“A lot of people associate Jo-Jo with Sugar Grove,” Michels said. “She is always at a lot of Sugar Grove events, and promotes Sugar Grove in a real positive way.”

McCannon found herself at the Tillers Rehab Center in the fall of 2009 with a broken tibia after a fall. She had just undergone surgery in July to replace both her hips, as well as one knee. It was a tough setback.

However, when Halloween came, McCannon got out of bed, dressed up, and Jo-Jo handed out candy to about 500 children who visited the center.

Punky sent out an email to people concerned about Jo-Jo and her recent stay at The Tillers, giving them an update on her condition.

“(She) Is in great spirits and working hard as ever,” Punky wrote. “… She’s still her old self; determined, sassy and fun.”

Punky said that Jo-Jo would love to hear from people, but she doesn’t want any sad get-well cards. Punky said she knows Jo-Jo would appreciate joke cards.
“Jo-Jo is all about having fun,” Punky said.

She has also asked that no one send any plants or flowers, due to health reasons.

All cards may be sent to: Jo-Jo the Clown, c/o Karen McCannon, The Tillers Rehab Center, Route 71, Oswego IL 60543.

Ministry of presence

in Elburn/Featured by

Father Seigel welcomed to St. Gall
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—The Rev. Timothy Seigel says that a church at its very core is all about presence. Through a ministry of presence, the church can put into the practice Christ’s admonition to love each other as He loves us. With many years of pastoral experience doing just that, Father Seigel hopes to bring that presence to his work at St. Gall.

“My goal now is to grow the community before we build a facility. We can do that by providing good service and making good decisions, by visiting nursing homes and hospitals, being present to the sick and dying and to the kids and youth ministries,” Seigel said. “As I study the Gospels and gain experience from ministry, I understand my greatest skill is to relate to people and be present. It’s something I’m good at and look forward to doing here.”

Seigel began his career in Iowa, graduating from high school in Cedar Rapids and attending college in Dubuque at Loras College, where he majored in sociology.

“I was working in the direction of the priesthood, and I took an intro course in sociology. I thought that since it was the study of cultures and people that maybe a priest would want to know that kind of stuff,” he said.

After completing a Masters of Theological Studies at St. Meinrad in southern Indiana, Seigel left the seminary because he still wasn’t completely sure he wanted to become a priest. He didn’t go far, however. He moved to Oregon, Ill., where he worked as a lay parish coordinator at St. Mary Parish. He had the opportunity to do the kind of work needed in the life of a church and really liked it, he said.

Also at that time, he worked at a residential facility for the mentally disabled and found the residents there, whom he cared for and socialized with “all love.”

He soon joined the Rockford Diocese and attended the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wis., receiving a Masters of Divinity. He was ordained a priest on May 18, 1991.

His first assignment was at St. Patrick Parish in St. Charles. Seigel went on to serve in Rockford and Crystal Lake before being named sole pastor at St. John the Baptist in Savanna, Ill.

“It was a great experience. Because it was a smaller parish, I got to know people and get home skills. You realize that you’re not going to please everyone, but you do the best for the common good,” Seigel said. “I’ve always been a bit impulsive, a bit unorganized, a bit impatient. Those years in Savanna taught me well how to listen. I learned to make decisions by listening rather than making them unilaterally.”

In 2001, he moved on to St. Mary Parish in East Dubuque, where the lesson of listening continued to serve him well. He also had some memorable experiences.

“One thing that proved to be my saving grace is my pastoral skills. I’m a pretty good homilist. I work on what I’m going to say, how I’m going to say it. I get passionate and try to touch people with my words,” he said.

He found that he was good with grieving people, particularly when he faced the death of a 7-year-old boy with a horrible disease.

“I was working with the school—he was a first-grader and had a twin brother—and going to University of Iowa (for the boy’s treatment) and being present with the family the evening he died. I helped to put the funeral service together. It was probably one of the highlights of my time there,” he said.

Before coming to St. Gall Parish, Seigel spent seven years at St. Catherine Parish in Genoa, Ill.—his longest assignment.

“I got to know a lot of people and got to know them better than any other parish. Our relationships just got stronger and stronger,” he said. “The biggest challenge of leaving is that I’m not there.”

St. Gall’s is about 100 members bigger than St. Catherine’s and has a more suburban feel. Seigel is confident that with a little bit of the work the parish will grow.

In his spare time, Father Seigel enjoys cooking, reading and writing journals and poetry. He stays in shape by walking the Elburn Forest Preserve Trail and working out at Snap Fitness.

And as a Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings fan, he’s of the belief that football season is just too short.

New name, New owners

in Elburn/Featured by

Photo: The restaurant at the corner of Route 47 and Main Street Road in Elburn has new owners. Dennis and Pam Moutray and another couple have bought the business and renamed it Blackberry Bar and Grill. Photo by John DiDonna

Blackberry Inn reopens as Blackberry Bar & Grill
by Cheryl Borrowdale
ELBURN—Pam Moutray thought her first day at the Blackberry Bar and Grill, which opened on June 18, would be a quiet introduction to the restaurant business.

“We hadn’t done any advertising,” she said. “I thought we would just slide under the radar.”

But word had spread that the old Blackberry Inn, which had closed in December 2011 after over two decades in Elburn, was back and under new ownership.

“We were slammed,” she said. “People had heard through the grapevine and were coming in. Those first couple days, I was just a zombie.”

It’s been nearly nonstop for Pam and her husband, Dennis, who bought the Blackberry Inn in March, along with co-owners Mark and Sandy Plante, ever since. The Moutrays take care of the day-to-day operations, while the Plantes provide financial backing, Pam said.

For the first month, Pam and Dennis were there seven days a week, working until the midnight or 2 a.m. close most nights, and then back again the next morning by 10 a.m., polishing floors, checking over the night’s receipts, supervising employees and getting ready for another day.

“It’s just like that movie, “Groundhog Day,” Dennis said. “The same thing over and over.

When Dennis first proposed buying the Blackberry from the previous owners, Chuck and Michelle Reese, who had retired and moved to Florida, Pam initially said no. Between her real estate business—she is self-employed as a RE/MAX realtor—and Dennis’ Super Suds car wash in Hinckley, the couple already had their hands full, she said.

But Pam said she eventually came around to the idea because it was too good a deal to pass up. The Moutrays, who live in Maple Park, had experience running previous businesses, including the BP in Sugar Grove and a convenience store, both of which they eventually sold; the Plantes, who live in North Aurora, own the Superior Car Wash in Sugar Grove. Though they’d never run a restaurant before, they thought they could do it.

“So far it’s been fun, Pam said. “We’ve always been people people, and I enjoy talking to our customers. We had to buy it. We just couldn t believe it was going to be empty.”

Neither could her customers, it seems.

“Most of the comments I’ve heard are, ‘We’re so glad you’re back open.’ Everybody always says, ‘We live just up the road,’ and then they point just over there,” Pam said. “It’s a nice, close option without having to go up into downtown Elburn or go over to Randall.”

Regulars have been pleased to see that many of the old Blackberry Inn classics, from the reuben sandwich to the Wednesday night fried chicken, are still on the menu. The Moutrays hired back both the former chef and manager, which helped keep some of the most popular menu items the same, Pam said.

“We had some new ideas, but people kept asking us, ‘Are you still going to have the reuben? The fried chicken?’ And we realized, why reinvent the wheel? These were kind of the big thing here, and people wanted them back. We’re doing four big briskets a day. I can’t believe the people that flock in here to get the chicken,” Pam said. “We had people in here the other night from Rochelle who came just for the chicken.”

Yet the menu has been tweaked to add fan-tailed shrimp, sweet potato puffs and smaller-size burgers to suit smaller appetites, in addition to the half-pound burger that has long been on the menu. It also now includes a few healthy items, she said, including an entree-sized chef’s salad, a Caesar salad with chicken, and a veggie platter appetizer that comes with ranch dressing.

“I didn’t want everything on the menu to be fried,” she said.

A kid’s menu has also been added, and the Moutrays hope to make the Blackberry more family friendly—partly because they have their own grandchildren, who live in Sugar Grove, in mind.

The interior of the Blackberry Bar & Grill has been spruced up with a fresh coat of paint and a thorough cleaning job, but they didn’t put the old beer signs back up in the dining area, which is partially separated from the bar area. Instead, they bought a couple of high chairs and cleaned up the patio, too, opening the fence. The Moultrays plan to decorate the area with Kaneland sports materials.

“We want families to feel comfortable here,” Pam said. “Chase, my little grandson, likes to come to play the toy machine that gives a ball every time you play it.”

While the bar and dining room otherwise look much the same, behind the scenes, the kitchen has been gutted and completely renovated to bring it up to code, electrical work has been done, lighting has been improved, the basement has been cleaned and organized, broken windows have been replaced and sealed, and a leaky bathroom has been repaired.

“People come in and say it doesn’t look a whole lot different, but we’ve overhauled a lot,” Pam said. “It needed updating, and one thing led to another.”

Sprucing up the place and getting it running has been a family affair.

Eric, the Moutrays’ youngest son, took it upon himself to come over and clean up the landscaping.

“He just pitched in and did it without being asked,” Pam said. “He helped get things ready to open, cutting down trees and cleaning up the outside.”

Their daughter, Michelle, who lives in Sugar Grove with her husband and two children, has come in to help out with the cleaning, and they have a niece who’s working as a part-time bartender.

Dennis said they have plans to expand further and add more entertainment options. By this fall, they hope to have slot machines available in the bar area, under a new Illinois law that allows gaming in authorized locations, rather than just the riverboats. Since the Blackberry Bar and Grill is located in unincorporated Kane County, even though Elburn has opted to ban such gaming, the restaurant is able to participate.

“We think it will be a big draw,” Pam said.

Dennis cautioned that the plan depends on state approval.

“It’s not a given yet,” he said. “We hope to have them, but until they come in here and give us approval, you never know.”

Other tentative plans include the installation of outdoor volleyball courts—which local volleyball leagues could rent—or perhaps renting a smaller building on the property to another restaurant.

“We’re hoping in the near future to put volleyball courts in,” Dennis said. “Maybe put a pizza place at the top of the hill, or maybe a breakfast place. We were thinking about running it ourselves at first, but now we’re thinking about leasing it.”

More definite plans include hosting a grand opening celebration sometime in August, with drink specials to celebrate the new business, and a rib-off to pick a new rib recipe.

“I think I have a great rib recipe, and our chef says he has a great one, and so do a couple of others,” Pam said. “So we think we’ll make all the different ones and have a rib-off to let the customers decide which ones they like best.”

A month into the business, Pam said she was happy to have found some balance, taking Tuesdays off to watch her grandchildren, which was one of the things she missed most about her old life.

“I wasn’t happy being away from them, so I’m happier now that we ve gotten things running here and I can spend some time with them again,” she said.

She and Dennis still spend the majority of their time at the bar and grill, though, she said.

“We hope to make it a good place, make some money and have fun doing it,” she said.

Drought’s effect on corn not yet known

in Elburn/Featured/Regional by

Photo: The corn in this field at route 38 and 47 in Elburn looks more like a pineapple crop. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—With this season’s lack of rainfall, lawns aren’t the only plant life that is being stressed. One look at the surrounding corn fields, and you will see stalks that are significantly shorter than usual and displaying spikey leaves that look like pineapple plants. But the effect of the drought on corn production itself is not yet known.

“The corn has no business looking as good as it does,” said Maple Park resident Warren Grever. “The corn is made in July. The big question with corn is how much is pollinated.”

Grever pulled out four ears of corn from his field and carefully pulled off the leaves. He then gently shook off the silk to see how much remained on the ear. He explained that each strand of corn silk corresponds to one kernel of corn.

“If the silks stick on the ear, then it’s not pollinated,” Grever said.

A couple of the ears were fully filled out, while the other two were undersized with gaps on the tips and in the middle. If the kernels are not pollinated fully and the ear doesn’t fill out, then yields will be low.

Normally, Grever says he will get 190-200 bushels of corn to the acre. A bushel is a measure of volume that equals 56 pounds of corn. He compares the normal yields to the ones he got in 1988, the last big drought farmers can remember. In that year, he got 100 bushels to the acre.

Ryan Klassy, information director at the Kane County Farm Bureau, said that farmers at the Kane County Fair were talking about what is going to happen to this year’s corn crop. Some fields, they said, are looking great, and others are not doing as well. The variation has to do with soil type and type of hybrid.

“It depends on soil type. Good black soil—of course it needs rain and is stressed—could do okay. Sandier soil is not doing that well,” Klassy said. “The variety of seed corn also matters. Different hybrids have different traits.”

Klassy said that how the corn does will depend on how much moisture we get from here on in. When Grever was asked what he thought was going to be the outcome, he laughed.

“I really don’t know. If I get two-thirds of a crop, I’d be happy,” he said.

The Farm Bureau compares this year’s drought to the one in 1988. During both years, none of the corn was rated excellent. While in 1988, 78 percent of the corn was rated either good or fair, this year 66 percent of the crop is rated poor or very poor.

The price of corn on the market is at a record high, up to $8 a bushel for corn and $16 a bushel for soybeans. The effect will trickle into other areas.

“The one that’s really going to feel it is the livestock feeder,” Grever said.

Many farmers have crop insurance that protects against yield or quality losses from natural disasters, including drought, excess moisture, cold and frost, wildlife and disease and insects. It guarantees that the farmer will get a portion of their usual yield.

“How can you not ( have insurance)?” Grever asked. “With the market variability, you can sell 70 percent ahead, and you know you’re going to get paid.”

As to whether or not this drought is indicative of a future pattern, Grever said that there are cycles that occur, and that this area of the country has been relatively stable.

“Our climate has been amazingly consistent and reliable since the 1960s,” he said.

Comparison of corn
and soybean conditions,
1988 vs 2012

‘88 Corn ‘12Corn
Excellent 0% 0%
Good 18% 7%
Fair 60% 27%
Poor 20% 30%
Very Poor 2% 36%

‘88 Beans ‘12 Beans
Excellent 0% 1%
Good 15% 12%
Fair 39% 38%
Poor 14% 25%
Very Poor 2% 24%
(source: IL Weather &Crops, published by IL Dept. of Agriculture USDA-NASS IL Field Office)

2012 Sugar Grove Corn Boil Schedule and Information

in Featured/Sugar Grove by

July 27-29

The Sugar Grove Corn Boil is held in Volunteer Park, west of Route 47, just off Main Street in downtown Sugar Grove, behind the Kaneland John Shields Elementary School.

For information on cancelations and event changes, visit these official Corn Boil pages:


Twitter Feed: @SGCornBoil


Friday, July 27

Corn Boil is open 4 to 11 p.m.

4 p.m.
Arts and crafts
Business Booths
Food vendors
Beer tent
5 p.m.
Bingo, hosted by the Sugar
Grove Fire Fighters Auxillary

5:30 p.m.
Opening parade
Ceremony celebrating
community spirit
6 p.m.
Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew
7 p.m.
Dot Dot Dot on the main stage
9:30 p.m.
Hi Infidelity on the main stage

Saturday, July 28

Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

7:30 a.m.
5K Run/Walk, hosted by the
Sugar Grove Park District

9 a.m.
American Legion Car Show

10 a.m.
Cooking Challenge entrants
may begin putting
out their entries

11 a.m.
Arts and crafts
Business booths
Bingo, hosted by
Kaneland Peer
Kids Zone—
Animal for

11:45 a.m.
Cooking Challenge
entrants must stop
putting out their
judging begins

Carnival/ Food vendors
Dance Ignition Demo

12:30 p.m.
Kids Zone—Ronald McDonald

1 p.m.
Jazzercise Fitness Demo

1:30 p.m.
Kids Zone—
Water Balloon Toss Contest

2 p.m.
Kids Zone—
Those Funny Little People
M&M Dance Demo

3 p.m.
Rocky’s Dojo Demo

4:30 p.m.
Kids Zone—Kane County
S.W.A.T. demonstration

6 p.m.
Shagadelics on main stage

8:30 p.m.
Hairbangers Ball on main stage

Dark (approximately 9:30 p.m.)

Sunday, July 29

Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

11 a.m.
Kids Zone—
Fascinating Faces by Laurie
Bingo—hosted by the
Children’s Tumor Foundation,
“NF Cole’s Crew”
Kids Zone—Traveling World
of Reptiles Show
1 p.m.
Kids Zone—Diaper Derby
Baby Crawl Race
Firefighter Water Fights

1:30 p.m.
Kids Zone—Kyle’s Duct Tape
Wallet Demonstration
2 p.m.
Kids Zone—
Rockasaurus Rex Show
4 p.m.
Josh Wilson on the main stage
Kids Zone—Encore performance
of the Rockasaurus Rex Show
4:45 p.m.
Kids Zone—Corn Boil
500 Big Wheel Race

Light years ahead

in Featured/Sugar Grove by

Photo: Waubonsee Community College’s first Photovoltaic Systems class has completed its certification requirements. Brian Rozel (back, left to right), Jeff Armesy, Wade Wessels, Matt Grant, Chris Johnson, John O’Connell, Joe Smith, Mark Labedz, Alex Valerio and Jose L. Tovar. Richard Andrzejewski (front, left to right), Ken Darby, Andy Steimel and Instuctor Gregg Erickson. Courtesy Photo

WCC graduates first solar energy technologies class
by Lynn Meredith
SUGAR GROVE—With fuel costs rising, it’s comforting to know that the cost of one form of energy is actually going down.

Photovoltaic systems, or solar panels, have dropped in price from $15 per watt to $4 per watt. According to Waubonsee Community College’s Renewable Energy Technologies Instructor Gregg Erickson, the cost could soon get down to $1-$2 per watt.

That’s just one of the reasons 13 people ranging in age from 20 to 60 enrolled in WCC’s first Photovoltaic Systems class.

“WCC was attuned to the growing need for renewable energy. This became one good option to get the work force exposed and trained. It’s a versatile program. Some students are individuals looking to get to know and understand, so they can install their own panels, or there are those that this is a new avenue of career,“ Erickson said. “Within the program, the focus for most students was installation, but there’s quite a market to design or sell the systems.”

Elburn resident Rich Andrzejewski was drawn to the class from an article he read in the Elburn Herald. As a former media developer, he was looking for a new career. Andrzejewski found the three classes leading toward the certificate to be challenging, but necessary for the future.

“Personally, I feel that it’s the way we should go. We’re going to run out of oil. We’re going to run out of gas,” he said. “The one thing I discovered in the class is that it required me to use all my knowledge from my past schooling: electricity, astronomy, algebra, geometry. It’s a combination of all those when you’re setting up a solar panel.”

The students study how to site the panels and how change of season affects productivity. They need to be aware of how the sun rotates on its axis and how ambient temperatures affect the force of the sun.

“As far as the Midwest, our location is ideal for solar panels. Snow and solar panels are great because of the brightness of the snow and for keeping the cables cool. A sunny place like Texas is actually too hot,” Andrzejewski said.

WCC installed solar panels in 2010, a wind turbine last April, and an underground geothermal system, all at the college’s Sugar Grove campus. In addition to photovoltaic systems, the college offers small wind technology and geothermal (heating and air conditioning) certificate programs.

“We use the systems on campus as examples for the training and exposure to show season changes. We can gather information and keep records to see what the production is,” Erickson said.

The HVAC lab on campus is cooled and heated by the geothermal tubing. Erickson is available to give tours of the lab to anyone who is interested.

Erickson worked as an electrician for 40 years, and took training in photovoltaic systems, which he went on to teach to journeymen.

He is enthusiastic about the renewable energy programs and the benefits for the future. He says new panels are being developed that are made of a film that goes over glass, making them an integral part of the structure.

“You don’t have to look very far to see the benefits of renewable energy. Just look at Europe. They have incentives and a commitment to solar power. They are way ahead of us in the use in homes. Germany, Italy, the U.K. are very much ahead of us having systems in their homes. Jimmy Carter, when he was president, realized that oil is too valuable to burn, yet today most of our power comes from coal. And they are still making money off drilling,” Erickson said.

For more information, visit and Renewable Energy Technologies.

Local author’s grandchildren are her inspiration

in Elburn/Featured by

Photo: Hatcher McMichael, 2, from Elburn likes something in Linda Brodine‘s book, “Gramma, Tell Me A Story!” Author and quilter, Linda participated in a book signing at the Elburn Town and Country Public Library on July 11. Photo by John DiDonna

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Linda Brodine began telling stories as a way to entertain her grandchildren.

“They would ask me, ‘Grandma, tell me a story,’” she said. “It turned out to be a wonderful gift I didn’t know I had.”

Brodine’s stories are mainly inspired by the adventures and interests of her nine grandchildren. “Dinosaurs in the Caveman Graveyard” is the result of a request from one of her grandsons for a story about dinosaurs and zombies. The inspiration for “The Amazing Campout,” an adventure story set in Africa, began with her granddaughter’s love of zoo animals.

Brodine said that she begins with an idea, and then the story takes on a life of its own.

“It presents itself to me, and I just have to sit down and write it,” she said.

That doesn’t mean Brodine doesn’t do her research. So far, she has written three stories about Africa, and in addition to doing her own research, she asked a neighbor—also a teacher—to check the accuracy of what she wrote. She said she feels that she had better have her facts straight, even though the story itself might not be true.

Brodine’s mother, Blanch Labedz, did the illustrations for her initial stories. Blanch was living with her at the time, and Brodine said it was a wonderful process for both of them.

While she was writing the stories, Brodine was also quilting. She said she had an “A-ha” moment one day, and decided to make a quilt for each of her stories. She copied her mom’s illustrations onto fabric, and they became part of each quilt.

After her mom passed away, Brodine decided to self-publish a collection of her first eight stories. The book is titled, “Gramma, Please Tell Us A Story!”

Brodine has been getting the word out about her book in a variety of venues. During the school year, she visited a couple of classes at Ferson Creek Elementary School in St. Charles. During the art class, she introduced the children to the craft of quilting. The students made their own design and used pieces of fabric she had pre-cut to make their own quilts.

Brodine introduced her book to students in the English class and had them write their own story, as well as draw pictures to go with it. She said she loves to show children that you’re never too young to write a story.

“Kids need to stretch their imagination, and they need to have the confidence that they can actually create something,” she said.

She likes to surprise children with her stories, creating unpredictable scenarios and leaving them wide-eyed. However, there is one thing about which she is adamant.

“All my stories have a happy ending,” she said. “Kids need to know there is joy in the world and that there is hope in the world.”

Brodine, a resident within the Elburn Town and Country Library District, participated in a Blackberry Creek Elementary School event at the library on July 11. She shared her book with many children and their parents.

Elburn resident Shawn Friede, who moved to the area two months ago, brought her three children to the event. Brodine’s exhibit included copies of her book, as well as several quilts that went along with the stories.

Friede bought a copy of the book for her mom, who lives in Michigan.

“I’m not a quilter, but my mom is,” Friede said. “That’s how we spell ‘gramma,’ too.”

Brodine will participate in the Batavia Quilt & Textile Show, sponsored by Prairie Shop Quilts in Batavia, the weekend of July 20-22. The event will take place at the Eastside Community Center, 14 N. Van Buren St. in Batavia.

Children’s book author and Sugar Grove
resident Jeannette C. Kielp (left) talks about her book,
“Bigger Than The Boogie Man,” to 8-
year-old Teagan Andrews.
Photos by John DiDonna

Kindness of strangers and friends saves a little girl’s sight

in Featured/Maple Park by

Photo: Maple Park resident Bri Erickson, diagnosed with infantile glaucoma soon after birth, underwent surgery on June 4 to help improve her condition. The procedure was made possible by donations from
the community and strangers who donated through Courtesy Photo

MP family receives support for infant daughter’s eye surgery
by Susan O’Neill
Maple Park—Katie Sexton noticed some things about her daughter Bridget (or Bri) just a few days after she was born, but it would take her four months to convince her family doctor that there was something wrong.

Katie, a Maple Park resident, said that Bri never babbled or smiled like other babies. She wouldn’t make eye contact, and she was very sensitive to light.

“She was so quiet,” Katie said.

When she brought her concerns to her doctor, he told her that it was too early to tell if something was wrong. It was the nurse practitioner who finally observed that Bridget’s eyes were very large.

They were referred to an opthamologist, who did an eye exam with Bri under anesthesia. The opthamologist told Katie her daughter needed surgery right away. Her diagnosis was infantile glaucoma, which means a build-up of fluid behind her eyes.

The surgery relieved a lot of the pressure from the fluid, but there was already some damage to her cornea. Normal pressure in the eyes from fluid is in the single digits, and Bridget’s was over 40. In addition to the painful pressure on the eyes, the opthamologist told her that infantile glaucoma can cause major damage to the eyes, and could lead to blindness.

The doctor wasn’t sure what had caused the glaucoma, and Bri also had some developmental delays. She was referred to a geneticist and a neurologist, and began physical and vision therapy.

Within two weeks, she started rolling over, Katie said.

However, treating infantile glaucoma is much more difficult than it is in adults, Sexton said. Infants’ eyes heal differently. The incisions made in the eyes to relieve the pressure heal quickly and the pressure begins to build again.

She can’t tell them when she is hurting, and crying makes the pressure rise.

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, her doctor told Katie that there was a specific surgery that held a lot of promise for improvement. However, he did not have the skills to do the surgery, nor did any other doctor in the state of Illinois.

They found a doctor in Pittsburgh that could do the surgery, but their insurance company would not cover the procedure because it was an out-of-state provider. The surgery would cost a total of $15,000 to $20,000 out of pocket. They would also have to provide a down payment of $9,000 by the hospital’s deadline or they would take Bri off the surgical list.

“I just didn’t know how to live in a world where my daughter was blind,” Katie said.

Katie knew she had to find the money to pay for Bri’s surgery.

Katie’s family has held two fundraisers so far. They received donations for raffle drawings, including trees from a landscaper and mountain bikes from a bike shop. During the first event, they raised $1,400 in four hours.

Katie and her husband emptied their savings account, and Katie found a website called for online fundraisers.

Through Facebook, word of mouth, newspaper articles and family telling friends, people came forward in a major way, Katie said. They received more than 100 donations from the website, with a large percentage coming from people the Sextons did not know. People gave their money and their words of support and prayer.

“We were in tears almost every single day, watching the donations come in on the website,” she said. “It’s great to know that all of these people have helped and have opened their hearts to us, and especially to Bri.”

They raised enough for the hospital’s down payment, and Bri had the surgery on June 4. Since then, she has made major strides. She crawls, she feeds herself, and she is developing her fine motor skills.

“She’s almost where she should be for her age,” Katie said. “She’s very, very brave, and she definitely works very hard. She’s come so, so far.”

Bri turned one year old on July 1, and the family is having a combination birthday and thank-you party on Sunday, July 22, for the family and friends who have done so much to help. They decided to wait so that Sexton’s two sisters from out of town could be here.

“Without everyone who donated, we would not have been able to have the surgery,” Katie said.

With the surgery behind them, they are back in fundraising mode, as the remaining bills have started to arrive from the hospital. They are planning to hold additional fundraisers, and they hope to pay off the rest of the hospital bills by the end of the year.

In the meantime, Bri will get glasses in a couple of weeks, and for now is wearing an eye patch. She’s getting additional vision therapy and speech therapy and will continue to have pressure tests every six weeks. Their hope is that she won’t need additional surgery.

If she does, however, Dr. Wingard, who was trained by the doctor who did Bri’s surgery in Pittsburgh, will soon be in practice at their opthamologist’s office in Wheaton, Ill. This time, if she does need surgery, the family’s insurance will cover it.

For more information or to make a donation and offer your support, visit the website at

Wielding the hammer: Dyer goes National

in Boys Track/Featured by

Photo: Kaneland junior Nate Dyer brandishes the medals from recent competition under the USA Track and Field banner. Dyer is bringing talent in four events to the National Junior Olympics in Baltimore. Courtesy Photo

State and Regional totals pay off for junior Olympic-bound athlete
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—One would think that a summer full of footballs and pads would be enough for an ordinary student.

With incoming KHS junior Nate Dyer, there are qualifying factors, however.

Dyer is also dealing in hammers, javelins, shots and discs, and he’s putting up an effort that is extraordinary.

Dyer, who as an impressive aside, qualified for the IHSA Class 2A Track and Field meet in shot and discus, is set to compete at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics at Hughes Stadium on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md.

The week-long fest occurs from Tuesday, July 23, through Monday, July 29.

Dyer’s showing at Franklin University’s Regional Junior Olympics in Franklin, Ind., (July 7-8), that included first places in both the hammer throw and shot put, and second places in the discus and javelin, allowed him to make plans to travel with his family to the athletic showcase on the east coast.

Dyer won’t be intimidated.

“Once you get there, it’s more doing what you’re comfortable with,” Dyer said. “You don’t want to try and change up stuff.”

Dyer, who first qualified for the National stage in 2010, made headway in the State Junior Olympics held in Kankakee, Ill., back on June 22-24.

All he did there was take first in the javelin and shot put, plus set the state record in the hammer throw by 19 feet.

That high trajectory of performance is not just sheer talent, as Dyer knows the value of taking mentors advice to heart.

“I listen to all the coaches in every sport and what they tell me,” Dyer said. “A big influence is usually my dad, and he researches a lot. He never played, what I played but he’s organized and looks into details, and that helps. I never have to worry.”

Dyer’s numbers in regionals took place against other elite athletes from Illinois and Indiana in Region 7. He was sponsored by DeKalb Huskies track.

The Knight athlete can expect big things against competitors from the other 49 states if he can duplicate a similar outcome in an event like the shot put, which saw him ace the grouping by three-and-a-half feet.

“There is kind of a lot of pressure. The first year that I did this, I didn’t really know much about it, but I ended up throwing almost 160 with the little disc and placed third two years ago, and we have expectations,” Dyer said.

Next year’s USATF elite national gathering is set for Greensboro, NC, on the campus of North Carolina A&T University, but Dyer elects to attack what’s in front of him at the moment.

For now, that’s javelin marks, followed by Northern Illinois Big XII ball-carriers.

“Once I get through State and Regionals, there’s more competition,” Dyer said. “I just try to qualify and get the job done.”

Conley Farm: a perfect spot for a wedding

in Featured/Kaneville by

Photo: The reception hall at Conley Outreach in Kaneville illuminates during an autumn reception. Courtesy Photo

Conley Farm
47W085 Main Street Road,
Kaneville Township
(corner of Main Street and Dauberman roads)
(630) 365-2880

by Susan O’Neill
KANEVILLE—Hidden in the middle of farm fields is an idyllic outdoor setting in western Kane County for wedding ceremonies and/or receptions. Mostly known as a tranquil place for area residents to work through their troubles, the Conley Farm is also becoming a joyful place for families to begin.

The gardens, owned by the Conley family and leased to Conley Outreach Services, are open from dawn to dusk to anyone who seeks a quiet place to remember a lost loved one. The property also serves as a site for a children’s grief camp, typically held the last week of June.

Recently, the idyllic spot has been the setting for a more joyful occasion: the property has hosted seven weddings and/or receptions during the past three years.

The Conley Farm, located on Main Street Road, about three miles west of Route 47, is a 10-acre historic homestead surrounded by corn fields and pastures. The Welch Creek runs through the property, and a series of gardens dot the land along the creek. A children’s garden, informal paths and benches offer a peaceful environment for someone seeking respite.

According to Tigger Kainz, who has become the de facto wedding coordinator for Conley Farms, most brides come away from seeing the property for the first time saying, “This is exactly what I’ve been looking for.”

Kainz said that most couples hold their ceremony in the prayer garden. A converted horse barn becomes a rustic three-season pavilion to accommodate a reception. The building features a built-in serving counter, kitchen and bathrooms, with a pergola alongside the building for additional seating.

“The last wedding was 190 people,” Kainz said.

The concrete floor behind the barn is perfect for dancing, and as long as someone in the party has a liquor license, the family can bring their own alcohol, as well as their own caterer.

Because of its location and the availability of plenty of space, the wedding party can include activities that might not be possible somewhere else, Kainz said. For example, Maple Park resident and pyrotechnic expert Roger Kahl is available to perform a small fireworks display.

Family and children-oriented activities are also possible, such as hula hoops, bubbles, bean bag and horseshoe tournaments. Bonfires are always a favorite, complete with s’mores. Some families have rented bounce houses for the children to let off steam.

The tastes of the bride and groom vary, and all manner of utensils have been used, from rented china to plastic plates and silverware.

“It really is an amazing place,” Conley Outreach Director Carol Alfrey said. “It’s a beautiful setting for pictures. Cartographers and videographers go crazy.”

Alfrey said people also really like the idea that their rental fee goes to support the Conley Outreach Community Services, a 501 (C) (3) not-for-profit organization that offers free grief and bereavement, referral and other community support services.

Newlyweds unite by taking plunge at Illinois’ largest waterpark

in Featured/Regional by

Raging Waves
(630) 882-6575
4000 N. Bridge St., Yorkville

YORKVILLE—Raging Waves, Illinois’ largest water park, is now a wedding venue, as the park hosted its first marriage ceremony last month.

A local couple wed on June 16 on the observation deck of the Yorkville park’s biggest ride, in front of friends, family and their combined six children. Getting married at the family-friendly water park seemed like a great idea to Andy Lee and Samantha Kolar, both of Plano. Sidestepping the financial stress, logistical planning, and formality of a traditional ceremony, this bride and groom tied the knot in a way that was fun for everybody.

Raging Waves piped wedding music through the sprawling park as the bride strolled over to The Boomerang to meet her groom at the “altar” on the ride’s observation deck. The couple’s three girls and three boys were appropriately dressed for the summertime historic wedding, wearing white sundresses and Hawaiian shirts.

After exchanging vows, the newlyweds revealed swimsuits underneath their wedding attire and promptly celebrated by taking a thrilling plunge on the popular Boomerang water ride. Wedding guests snapped photos from the viewing deck, capturing the excitement and adventure of this couple—indeed, still kids at heart.

“We were thrilled they wanted to have their wedding at Raging Waves and combine their families here, where our mission is to bring families together for memorable experiences,” said Sandy Martinez, marketing director at Raging Waves. “It was a perfect event for two people who wanted to make sure everyone had a wholehearted good time.”

Health care business benefits from Fox Valley entrepreneurs

in Elections/Featured/Regional by

Photo: FVEC Organizing Committee member Joe Abraham speaks at the FVEC event in Batavia. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn resident Maria Kuhn and her partner Dr. Christina Krause launched their award-winning Integrated Health Advocacy Program (IHAP) over a decade ago. Through their business, Benefit Performance Associates, LLC, Kuhn and Krause have used IHAP to address the health care needs of individuals with multiple chronic illnesses, while reducing the health care costs of the employers who provide health care benefits for these individuals.

Kuhn said that employers spend 80 percent of their health care dollars on 20 percent of their employee population—people with anywhere from five to 15 health problems. According to Kuhn, within the first year of using their program, employers make back a dollar for every dollar they spend on the program. Over the following years, employers save from $3 to $8 for every dollar they spend.

However, the focus is not strictly on saving money, she said. Their goal is to help these very sick individuals make better health decisions, feel better, and attain their best state of health.

“It’s a win-win for the participants, the employers and the clinicians who work with them,” Krause said.

Although the company was experiencing much success with their program, their business model for providing this service was not structured in a way that allowed the company to grow. This is where the Waubonsee Community College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) came in.

SBDC Director Harriet Parker saw the potential this business had for larger- scale success, and she introduced Kuhn and Krause to several of the business consultants with the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center.

The pair began their work with Joe Abraham, Founder and CEO of BOSI, and author of the book, Entrepreneurial DNA. They took Abraham’s assessment to help them to understand their approach to business (Builder, Opportunist, Specialist, Innovator), what their business strengths were, and how they could leverage them in their own business.

Abraham spent a couple of sessions with the partners, helping them to flesh out their business strategy and modify their business model. They changed their direct sales model to one that relied on partnering with their larger customers to distribute their program more widely.

Parker and Bob Mann, attorney and health care benefits expert, helped them to refine their sales presentation and come up with a more concise message. They also addressed several sales concerns and how the partnerships could be structured, helped them develop a realistic pricing structure and identify negotiating points for various scenarios with potential customers.

Kuhn and Krause are currently in discussions with their first customer under the new model, a large health care broker in Indiana. This new contract has the potential to bring them $300,000 worth of revenue.

They are also in their next phase of work with the FVEC, in which they are working with systems guru Andy Parker to streamline their data collection and create more efficient systems.

“We feel excited and energized,” Kuhn said. “The questions (the consultants asked us) were practical. We learned so much. There’s so many people in the Fox Valley who are committed to making small businesses grow.”

Summary background of the FVEC
The Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center (FVEC) was created in 2010 through a partnership between the Waubonsee Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Center for Business Education Innovation and Development (CBEID).

Funded in part through a grant from the U.S. SBA Small Business Jobs Act, the FVEC is made up of entrepreneurs and business leaders from the Fox Valley area who work with entrepreneurs identified through the SBDC. These small businesses might be in start-up mode, launching a new product, expanding into different markets or innovating and doing new things.

The mission of the FVEC is to help small businesses enhance their success and stimulate economic growth in the Fox Valley.

Successful entrepreneurs provide small businesses with CEO training and mentoring, strategic introductions, and assist in areas such as increasing revenue, improving marketing strategies, business planning and any number of operational issues.

According to SMDC Director
Harriet Parker, FVEC has:
• Helped more than
30 companies
• Raised more than $1.9 million
in debt and equity financing
• Created 50 new jobs

KHS kids show ‘singlet’-minded focus

in Featured/Wrestling by

Photo: Kaneland wrestlers did their part in spring yard cleanups for senior citizens in Sugar Grove in the effort to raise funds for a trip to Wisconsin for a wrestling camp. Over 280 hours were spent volunteering. Courtesy Photo

Wrestlers’ week at camp fueled by helping community
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How do 28 Kaneland middle school and high school wrestlers spend four days in the Wisconsin Dells area?

By competing against fellow wrestlers from states like Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin in a team wrestling camp.

An involved week at the Malecek Wrestling Camp from June 25-28 was the final piece of a puzzle that had various levels of the Kaneland wrestling program doing good in the area as a fundraiser to send team members to the elite camp.

The wrestling staff brainstormed some ideas and the plan was announced at the winter Wrestling Banquet in March after setting a goal to send kids to a well-known camp.

According to KHS wrestling coach Monty Jahns, the team volunteered 281.25 hours to the community, with an additional 111.75 hours donated by coaches and parents.

The camp featured 60 high school teams and over 900 wrestlers, but the matches, dual meets and round-robin tournaments were only part of the overall package.

In order to raise funds for the camp goal, donations for volunteer work was decided upon after the brain trust wanted to go a non-traditional route—away from discount cards and popcorn.

Area institutions like the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva, the Sugar Grove Senior Center, Sugar Grove Historical Society, John Shields Elementary School, Conley Farm and Delnor Hospital received volunteer hours.

Beginning the spearheading of the project in the winter, Jahns believes it couldn’t have worked out better.

“It was great that they were able to do this, and we helped people,” Jahns said. “It taught them responsibility and got them out in the community.”

The final total of 17 wrestlers making it to the camp was the result of the very definition of a group effort. The size and scale of the volunteer effort was a new experience for volunteer coach and Knights Wrestling Club coach Bob McCaffrey.

“I have volunteered for larger organizations and have been part of other ‘traditional’ fundraisers for local sports teams,” McCaffrey said. “The most impressive thing was seeing the boys learning and understanding the impact that volunteering has on the people they were helping.”

McCaffrey also made mention of incoming senior Eddie Rodriguez, the Student Administrative Assistant of the program.

The man-hours paved the way for actual mat time featuring duals and round-robins, making for an experience well worth it.

“The competition is a measuring stick for where they boys are at and what they need to prepare for the upcoming season. By being together in the off-season they grow and learn as a team,” McCaffrey said.

Successful wrestling contingents often are only as good as their team effort. An effort on the scale of the past four months seems to bode well for the Kaneland crew.

“This was due to an outstanding effort and constant communication. It was awesome,” Jahns said.

Summer league allows Knight baseball to take stock

in Community Sports/Featured by

Photo: John Hopkins fires toward the plate during Tuesday’s summer league twinbill at Batavia High School. The Knights recovered from a 3-1 loss in the first contest to take an 8-2 win. Photo by Mike Slodki

IHSA Summer Regional begins Monday, July 16
by Mike Slodki
BATAVIA—It’s the season for local baseball players to embody the “Boys of Summer” tag.

Kaneland’s baseball program saw its season end abruptly in the Class 3A regional opener against DeKalb in late May. But beginning on June 12, Knight players expected to contribute heavily in 2013 suited up to play in summer gear.

It’s not the hard-charging atmosphere where you treat every at-bat like your last, but it is important.

The summer season consists of 26 games over a month’s time, and has a modified routine.

Games against opponents like Sycamore, DeKalb, West Aurora and Streator litter the slate, with details like amount of games and innings hammered out well beforehand.

“It’s really important in the summer for these guys who are trying to make the team,” KHS assistant coach Alex Beckmann said. “We have a really big team and it’s important for guys to get at-bats and get some innings in.”

The situation on Tuesday in Batavia had the Knights and Bulldogs clashing in a doubleheader of five innings each, and the Knights came back with an 8-2 win in game two after losing 3-1 in the opener.

Pitching assignments have anything but an aim of a complete game, but are placed to give valuable arms work. In game two, Nick Stahl worked the first inning, John Hopkins took care of the second and third, and Tom VanBogaert finished the final two frames.

Tyler Carlson, an incoming junior, blasted a two-run double in the third inning to propel the Knights over the Bulldog lineup and put the game out of reach.

“I was looking for my pitch,” Carlson said. “I found it, fortunately. The guys got on base and I got to bring them in.”

Carlson is glad for the opportunity to man groundballs at second and get his cuts in at the plate in an environment that’s relaxed, but still focus-worthy.

“Facing these pitchers, it’s a good experience for me,” Carlson said.

The summer crew hosts Batavia in a seven-inning affair on Thursday, July 12. IHSA summer regionals begin on Monday, July 16.

Sugar Grove business is ‘fairy’ original

in Featured/Sugar Grove by

Photo: Tree Star Hollow is located within Spring Bluff Nursery in Sugar Grove. It offers fairy gardening, supplies and workshops. Linda Haas is the owner and has been fairy gardening for over 12 years. She is a professional landscape designer and artist. She is a former Master Gardener and has been part of the garden volunteers at Chicago’s Lurie Garden for the past 5 years. An outdoor fairy garden (left) with a house made from a stump. Photos by Patti Wilk

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—When it comes to her job description, Sugar Grove resident Linda Haas has the perfect line on tap.

“I am an artist. I make fairy furniture and fairy houses,” she said.

Indeed, Haas builds one-of-a-kind fairy houses and accessories at Tree Star Hollow, a boutique garden and artist studio she opened last March in a small, empty building at Spring Bluff Nursery, 41W130 Norris Road in Sugar Grove.

“I have met so many wonderful people since (last March). I have also made many new friends, and we even have a few regulars (at Tree Star Hollow),” Haas said. “At one of my workshops, I met a woman who showed me some fairy furniture her sister made almost 20 years ago. It inspired me to take on the challenge of making tiny fairy furniture from twigs and branches. It has been very successful. The furniture sells quicker than I can make it. I even started holding fairy furniture workshops.”

To make the houses, Haas spends hours searching for bark and other items from fallen and dead trees. She said the bark is best collected during the winter months to avoid ants and other insects living in it. She also looks for lichens and wild vines to embellish the houses. Back in her workshop, she can spend anywhere from two to four hours on a single house.

“When I make the fairy furniture I use branches from a supply I continuously collect and let age. The branches shrink a little as they age, so I avoid using fresh cuttings,” Haas said. “Due to the size of these pieces, I use tweezers to glue the branches together. It can take 1-2 hours to complete a piece of furniture.”

A self-proclaimed gardener for as long as she can remember, Haas’ earliest memories consist of dissecting weeds and searching high and low for bugs. The daughter of an artist, every home Haas lived in as a child had a studio overflowing with art supplies.

“It always smelled of oil paint; I was fortunate to be encouraged to also express my creative side at a young age,” she said.

Embracement of creativity is a gift Haas believes she passed down to her children.

“I encouraged them to play outside and use their imaginations. One of our daughters would make up stories about a Pixie Hollow that was in my garden,” Haas said. “She once took tiny pancakes out to the garden for the fairies. We then started to create small miniature gardens inside the landscape.”

Haas then started a new fairy garden under a very large Ash tree at Spring Bluff, where she was employed as a landscape designer at the time. The Ash tree is long gone now as a result of Emerald Ash Borers, but the stump remains, as does the fairy garden.

Haas soon stepped away from her landscape designer position in order to devote more time to crafting houses for her fairy garden. When her son moved away, she combined two rooms in her home to form an art studio.

“Having my own studio really opened the flood gates of creativity. I was out of control. I purchased my own tools and (built) fairy houses,” she said. “I was constantly dragging part of trees and shrubs into the studio (in the house). I was starting to hold workshops in my home to share this newly found creative outlet.”

It was last fall when Haas realized she was growing out of her studio space, and that’s how the empty building at Spring Bluff Nursery became home to her business. Haas said word of mouth in the community has been extremely helpful to Tree Star Hollow. Her business has even attracted some attention from those who live “across the pond.”

“We have a website ( We get many requests for online purchasing, but each piece is handmade and one of a kind. It is not easy to sell online if you cannot mass produce your items,” she said. Last week, we had a request from as far away as London, England. A production company was looking for twig fairy furniture for a future jewelry ad.”

Tree Star Hollow is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Additionally, Tree Star Hollow will host a three-day “Fairy Festival” the weekend of July 27-29 at the store. A complete list of dates and times is listed on the Tree Star Hollow website. Haas said most of the festival’s activities are for children.

Workshops dates and times are listed on the Tree Star Hollow website. The studio is also available for walk-in and private small-group workshops.

For Haas, Tree Star Hollow is more than just a business—it’s a labor of love.

“The best part of my day is (when) I make people smile. Everyone who walks into the shop notices the large fairy garden outside our door and I can hear, “how cute is that!?” We have people of all ages at the workshops. The kids have a great time and are always extremely excited to build houses for the fairies.”

Family fun in Maple Park

in Featured/Maple Park by

Maple Park held its Family Fun Night on June 27 in the Maple Park and Countryside Fire Department parking lot. Don and Shirley Twarog (below) have been married 57 years and still enjoy dancing at the Maple Park Family Night. The event included a concert by The Hometown Band (right), food from the Methodist Church, a 50/50 raffle and free rides on the kiddie fire truck. Photos by John DiDonna

Public buildings to serve as cooling centers

in Featured/Health & Wellness by

KANE COUNTY—On the heels of the powerful storms over the weekend that knocked out power to numerous homes, and with the outlook of hot weather for the rest of the week, the Kane County Health Department is urging residents to be especially cautious in dealing with the oppressive heat.

If your home still is without power, a list of cooling centers can be found at The county is urging residents to check on the well-being of their neighbors, especially those who are elderly, have special needs or are otherwise unable to access this information. Also take special care to see that your pets have plenty of water and shade.

The health effects of extreme heat are cumulative, which is why it is important to follow the tips below to ensure you avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

• Always wear light-weight clothing that has plenty of ventilation—the fabric should “breathe.” Stay well hydrated; always ensure you consume an abundance of liquids in the summer.

• Exercise or schedule other strenuous activities when the heat and humidity are lowest, usually early morning and late evenings.

• Rest in cool, shady places frequently. If you’re hot, go cool down—get indoors, drink cool liquids, enjoy the air conditioning for a few minutes, or take a cold shower.

• Eat light, heart-healthy foods to replace minerals and nutrients that may be lost. Give your heart a little extra break during the summer months with a healthy diet.

• Watch out for those at greatest risk, such as very young children, the elderly, persons who may have health conditions. Certain medications may put you at greater risk of heat-related illnesses, so be aware of how medications may interact with the heat.

Be on the lookout for these potential risk factors when spending any time outside during periods of extreme heat and humidity:

• Dehydration— ehydration occurs when more water leaves the body that you put back in. Stay well hydrated throughout the day, and drink extra fluids when exercising or simply being outdoors on hot days.

• Heat exhaustion— ymptoms may include headaches, weak pulse, rapid pulse, excessive sweating, dizziness, and in some instances, fainting, clammy skin, chills, cold, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps or very fast or very shallow breathing. If you suspect you have heat exhaustion, take action immediately to cool down. If possible, immerse yourself in cool water.

• Heat stroke—Unlike heat exhaustion, victims of heat stroke have warm skin that is dry to the touch because they’ve sweated out all their extra water, leaving the body’s natural cooling system without a key cool-down mechanism. High fever, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and a strong, rapid pulse all accompany heat stroke. Victims may become confused and can lose consciousness. Heat stroke is a very serious condition. Cool the victim and seek immediate medical assistance.

More information about the effects of heat on your health is available by visiting the heat page on the Health Department website.

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