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Featured - page 45

Kane County Fair returns July 14-18

in Featured/Regional by

Bands, bull-riding, demolition derby, carnival, pig races, 4-H and more
by Tammy Swanson
ST. CHARLES—County fairs conjure up images of costumed, racing pigs, breathtaking magic shows, bucking bulls, giant Ferris wheels, mountainous cotton candy, 4-H displays and farm animal contests. The Kane County Fair will have all these and more in 2010.

The fair will take place from Wednesday, July 14, through Sunday, July 18, at the fairgrounds on Randall Road and Route 38 in St. Charles.

The family-oriented fair offers fun for all ages, starting every day at noon. General admission is $7 and children younger than 5 are admitted free. Wednesday offers seniors free admission, and a reduced general-admission of $2. In addition, eight carnival rides cost just $10 that day.

The fair’s grandstand shows are among its highlights. The admission for all grandstand events is $10. Opening night features the U.S. Freestyle Motorcross Championship at 7:30 p.m. On Thursday, fans can see the Motor Sports International Truck Pull at 7:30 p.m. with Megasaurus as a special feature.

On Friday at 7:30 p.m., cowboys will try to stay on the raging bull at the Championship Bull Riding event. The Big Hat Rodeo returns with more exciting events and two shows on Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. The final grandstand event is the Demolition Derby, offering a unique opportunity for visitors to see cars charge at each other at high speeds and crash in a controlled environment. Demolition Derby shows will take place at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday.

Besides the grandstand events, the fair offers free, daily shows. The Swifty Swine Racing Pigs are a fair favorite to watch. A new show this year is the Great Bear Show, educational entertainment with live bears. Grandpa Cratchet provides comedic laughs this year, and features for children include the Sheer Magic Show, the Kid Buck$ Game Show and the petting zoo.

A perennial fair favorite, the 4-H displays, will be featured throughout the fairgrounds, with the sheep, horse, poultry and swine judging on Wednesday, and the dairy, rabbit and goat judging on Thursday. The beef cattle judging and Horse and Pony Fun Day will take place on Friday, and Saturday features include the horse and pony dressage judging in the horse arena and Milking Derby at 5:30 p.m.

In addition to all of these events, families may enjoy the carnival rides and games, and a wide variety of food booths.

Download flier >>

Day in the Park, fireworks are back

in Elburn/Featured by

by Paula Coughlan
ELBURN—Because of public support, the Elburn Chamber of Commerce can once again host its fireworks and Day in the Park at Lions Park, with this summer’s event taking place Sunday, July 11.

The fireworks had run continuously since 1997, but when there was not enough funding in 2009, the chamber could not hold Day in the Park.

This year, the chamber got the word out that the event would not return unless it could raise enough money for the fireworks. People responded generously, attending the chamber’s porkchop fundraisers and donating money in canisters at downtown Elburn businesses. [quote]

“The public was more aware that they wanted it (back) this year,” said Day in the Park Committee Chair Leslie Flint.

As a result, the chamber raised most of the $10,000 needed to stage the fireworks and will make up the balance through Day in the Park vendor-booth rentals and parking fees.

New at the event will be a health fair. In addition, a SummerFest sponsored by Dr. David Foss of Vital Chiropractic will feature water balloons, a bubble station, Baggos and corn toss, a magician and balloon artist, face painting, coloring, the Smoke House by the Elburn Fire Department and finger printing. By having a Fun Card stamped by each vendor, kids will receive free popcorn and snow cones and admission to the fun station with a moon jump.

Among the festival’s food vendors will be Suzie’s Fun Foods and Hill’s Country Store.

Flint said approximately 2,000 people attend the event each year, with people watching the fireworks at the park at dusk and lining the sidewalks to see the show with their neighbors.

Admission at the park is free, with a $5 parking charge.

Storms bring more animals to wildlife center

in Elburn/Featured by

Additional funding, volunteers, supplies currently needed
by Tammy Swanson
ELBURN—Have you ever wondered who helps the baby raccoons whose mother was run over by a car, the infant opossums trapped in a window well or the ducklings searching for their mother? These wild animals are given a second chance at life by the Fox Valley Wildlife Center (FVWC) in the Elburn Woods Forest Preserve.

Recently, the center has been inundated with baby birds because of the heavy rain in June. The birds include robins, cedar wax wings, sparrows, morning doves and starlings. Especially hard-hit have been mallards; the center has cared for 170 ducklings this summer.

“This year, because of all the storms, we do have lots of tiny baby birds because of the high winds,” said Andrea Krueger, FVWC vice president. “We have a huge (number) of mallards here. With the bad weather, the baby birds get separated from the mom.”

In addition to storms, another type of event brings baby mallards to the center in the summer—fireworks.

“On the Fourth of July with the fireworks on the river, the mom is there with her babies,” Krueger said. “She’ll fly away often and the babies are left there. She’ll come back, but maybe she won’t be able to find the babies. It’s a very sad thing.”

Once the baby birds are at the center, they need constant feeding. Some babies need to be fed water and formula with a syringe as often as every 10 minutes to keep them alive.

The center’s goal is to raise the babies until they are able to be released into the wild.

“(With) the birds, we do a gentle release. When they are able to fly and find their own food, we just open the door and they leave when they are comfortable,” Krueger said.

The center also must make sure that mallard ducklings have sufficient waterproofing before the center releases them into a river, which takes time.

“That could go into late summer or fall before they are all waterproof,” Krueger said. “Waterfowl have a gland at the base of their tail that secretes oil. You’ll see them rubbing their neck up against their glands and they rub it all around their whole body and that waterproofs them.”

Since opening its doors in 2001, the FVWC has helped heal and release thousands of animals back into the wild. The nonprofit organization relies entirely on fundraisers, donations, memberships and grants to cover the cost of its services.
FVWC is in great need of more funding this year because of so many animals in need.

“We do get a lot of donations, but we still have a lot of expenses,” Krueger said. “We were at Swedish Days (in Geneva) and we were expecting to do really good, and we didn’t, so we are in dire need now.”

For just one raccoon, the cost to rehabilitate it is $50. The center feeds the raccoon formula for five weeks, and vaccinates it against rabies, distemper and parvovirus. The animal stays at the center three to four months. For one duckling, the cost for care is $30. Each duckling is fed greens and waterfowl chow, and also stays at the center three to four months. To care for a fawn for three months costs about $40.

Aside from monetary donations, the center always needs more animal food and supplies. Its wish list includes fresh produce such as spinach, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. The center can also use live bugs like meal worms and wax worms, and welcomes donations of office supplies, medical supplies, blankets, pet dishes and household goods.

In addition, volunteers for a variety of tasks are always in great demand.

“They can do animal handling. They can do laundry, dishes, preparing food and taking care of the educational animals,” said Krueger.

For more information about making donations, volunteering, membership or helping wild animals and birds, please contact the FVWC at Elburn Woods Forest Preserve, 45W061 Route 38, Elburn, IL 60119, (630) 365-3800 or www.FoxValleyWildlife.org.

Benefit Night
Zanies Comedy Club
at Pheasant Run Resort
in St. Charles

Thursday, Aug. 5.
8 p.m.
Comedy Central performer
Butch Bradley

Tickets cost $25 per person
and 100 percent of the ticket sales will benefit the
Fox Valley Wildlife Center

Photo: Fox Valley Wildlife Center volunteer Mike Beck feeds a rescued bird at the Elburn facility. Photo by Tammy Swanson

‘The Music Man’

in Featured/Kaneland by

Kaneland arts festival’s first summer show
by Paula Coughlan
KANELAND—Kaneland will turn into River City when the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival presents “The Music Man.”

“The Music Man” will be the first summer-stock musical for the festival, which has presented adult and youth art shows and individual performers since 1998.

Performances will take place Friday through Sunday, July 16, 17, and 18, at the Kaneland High School auditorium.

The show’s director, Diane McFarlin, Kaneland High School assistant principal, has enjoyed live theater—acting and directing—locally and in New York for 30 years.

“I love to work with actors and character development,” she said.

Led by Kaneland alumnus Matt Scharlau as “The Music Man” character Harold Hill. The performance features actors aged 8 through 77.

The actors rehearsed last week for their “trouble” and “train” scenes, with McFarlin drumming her hand on the table to set the cadence for Harold Hill’s oration. Meanwhile, technicians tested backdrops, and choreographer Maggie McCord moved dancers through their paces for a library scene.

Linda Miller, who plays Mrs. Paroo in the show, sings a solo in the production. She became involved in theater when her son started acting at the community college level, she said.

Maria Dripps-Paulson, director of the Fine Arts Festival, has worked with McFarlin before, when they both taught in the Kaneland district.

“This is our first collaboration in several years,” Dripps-Paulson said, “and we’re really hoping it’ll be a success.”

McFarlin said she is grateful to the Kaneland School District for providing a venue for the production. She added that the sound system in the auditorium is top-notch.

For a list of cast and crew members (more volunteers are needed), visit www.kaneland-artsfestival.org.

Show times and tickets

7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, July 16 and 17;
and at 2 p.m.
Sunday, July 18.

$10 each, $8 for students
and senior citizens (age 65-plus),
$23 for a family ticket (household).
Reservations are required.
Purchase online at

Photo: Cast members practice a song for the upcoming performance of “The Music Man,” set to premier Friday, July 16. Photo by Paula Coughlan

State focuses on heat safety in July

in Featured/Health & Wellness/Regional by

Illinois—Temperatures in June were hot, but the hottest part of the summer likely is yet to come. In fact, most extreme high temperature records in Illinois have been set during July, including the state’s hottest month ever recorded in July 1936.

Extreme temperatures aren’t just uncomfortable—they are also responsible for more weather-related deaths than all other weather phenomena combined.

That’s why the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will focus on heat safety throughout the month of July as part of its 12-Month Preparedness Campaign.

“It’s no secret that summers in Illinois are hot, but sometimes people fail to recognize how dangerous extreme heat can be,” said IEMA Interim Director Joe Klinger. “When temperatures creep up into the 90s and 100s, conditions can become hazardous, particularly for children, seniors, those with special needs and pets. During July, we’ll be working to remind people of the steps they can take to stay safe.”

According to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Lincoln, Ill., more than 970 heat-related deaths have occurred in Illinois since 1995. That number is more than five times the combined number of deaths from tornadoes (25), lightning (15), floods (23), snow and ice storms (20) and extreme cold temperatures (95).

“When the effects of warm temperatures are combined with high levels of humidity, heat-related illnesses can develop even quicker,” said Chris Miller, Warning Coordinator Meteorologist with the NWS in Lincoln. “Keep in mind that temperatures are measured in the shade, so if you are in direct sunlight it can feel 15 degrees hotter.”

Heat-related illnesses range from heat cramps to the potentially life-threatening heat stroke. It’s important for people to recognize the symptoms of these maladies and know what actions to take if they or someone near them becomes ill. Symptoms and recommended treatment actions include:
• Heat cramps: Twitching or painful spasms, usually in muscles of legs or abdomen during or after heavy physical activity, as well as heavy sweating and thirst. Treatment includes stopping activity and resting in a cool place. Lightly stretch or gently massage muscles to relieve spasms, and give sips of cool water or electrolyte drink to sufferer.
• Heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating, with cool, pale and clammy skin. Pulse is fast and weak and breathing is fast and shallow. Victim will have normal temperature or a low-grade fever. Fainting, vomiting, dizziness, nausea and headache are common. Treatment includes having the victim lie down in a cool place. Apply cool, wet cloths and give sips of cool water or electrolyte drink. Contact doctor if symptoms worsen or do not improve within 30 minutes.
• Heat stroke: High body temperature of 103 to 106 degrees. Victim will have hot, red, dry skin, and sweating may be heavy or have stopped. Breathing is fast and shallow, and other symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness and confusion, with possible unconsciousness or seizure. Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical situation requiring emergency medical treatment.

Tips on how to protect yourself and others from heat-related illnesses are available on the state’s Ready Illinois website (www.Ready.Illinois.gov). Some of those tips include:
• Avoid overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities during extreme heat.
• Consume plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
• Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.
• Keep lights in your home low or off, keep shades drawn and avoid using the oven.
• Closely monitor children, the elderly and those who require special care during periods of intense summer heat.
• Do not leave children or pets in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes. On a hot day, temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140 degrees.

For other tips on staying cool and reducing cooling costs during the summer, visit the state of Illinois’ Keep Cool Illinois website at www.keepcool.illinois.gov.

Sweatt dealt to Maple Leafs in Versteeg trade

in Elburn/Featured/Miscellaneous by

For those hoping that one day they would see Elburn-bred Bill Sweatt putting on the Indian head sweater of the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, commence disappointment.

However, there now exists an opportunity for the Colorado College graduate to make inroads to the National Hockey League another way: through Toronto.

The Blackhawks, in an ongoing attempt to navigate out of salary cap difficulties, included the 2007 second-round draft pick’s rights in a trade that sent playoff asset Kris Versteeg to the Maple Leafs for Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis.

Sweatt, who scored 15 goals and 33 points in 39 contests for the Tigers in his senior season, was an economics major.

Sweatt participated in the Blackhawks prospect camp in 2008 at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, Ill. and in 2009 at Johnny’s Ice House in Chicago.

The 21-year old was selected 38th overall in 2007, just 37 picks behind Stanley Cup hero Patrick Kane.

In other Sweatt news, Bill’s older brother Lee will compete for a spot with the Vancouver Canucks after signing in May. Lee spent the 2009-10 season in Europe.

Bill Sweatt
Left wing
Born: Sept. 21, 1988
Selected 38th overall by Blackhawks in 2007

Photo: Elburn native Bill Sweatt, shown here at a previous Blackhawks prospect camp, was dealt June 30 to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with Kris Versteeg in the continued restructuring of the Stanley Cup Champions’ roster. File Photo

Editorial: Community works together to bring back Day in the Park

in Featured/From the Editor's Desk by

Residents and businesses in the village of Elburn responded, and now the community is preparing for the return of Elburn’s Day in the Park festivities, set for Saturday, July 11.

From 1997 to 2008, the Day in the Park was a way for area residents and members of the community to gather and have fun during the day, culminating with a fireworks display at night.

Due to financial difficulties, the host of the event, the Elburn Chamber of Commerce, had to cancel the Day in the Park in 2009.
[quote] This year, the public responded, and in a big way; and their response allows the chamber to move forward with this year’s event.

According to reporter Paula Coughlan, who spoke with Day in the Park Committee Chair Leslie Flint (who is also an employee of the Elburn Herald), the community has already raised most of the $10,000 needed to put on the one-day festival and fireworks display. The remaining funds needed will be obtained from festival-day fees and vendor-booth rentals.

The community should be proud of their collective efforts to bring the event back. Through their individual support of directly dropping off donations to the chamber, to their collective support of taking part in the various fundraisers held this year, to the businesses that offered their funds and efforts to help the Day in the Park return, everyone pulled together to help make sure the event continues.

The day begins at 11 a.m. and continues through the fireworks display that starts at 9:30 p.m. In between those two times, there is more than enough to occupy residents of all ages. See Coughlan’s story for a full line-up and schedule of events.

We hope to see you there.

Elburn woman indicted in 2009 fatal crash

in Elburn/Featured by

Updated July 3, 2010 at 12:27 p.m.

An Elburn woman has been indicted in a March 2009 crash that killed a McHenry County man.

Linda L. Knotts, 45, of the 300 block of Dempsey Street, Elburn, was indicted June 29, 2010, by a Kane County grand jury, on one count of reckless homicide, a Class 3 felony, one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a Class 4 felony, one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, a Class 2 felony, and one count of driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor.

After the indictment, Associate Judge James C. Hallock signed a warrant for Knotts’ arrest and set her bail at $500,000.

Knotts surrendered at about 2 p.m. Friday at the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the indictment, on March 20, 2009, Knotts was driving south on Illinois Route 47 in Kane County with cocaine in her system and was in possession of less than 15 grams of cocaine. Knotts exceeded the posted maximum speed limit and failed to decrease speed to avoid an accident while maneuvering a curve and approaching a hill crest, attempted to pass vehicles in a no-passing zone, created a hazard for other drivers, passed vehicles in a no-passing zone and struck a vehicle driven by 54-year-old William McKenzie of Marengo, Ill., causing McKenzie’s death.

If convicted of the most serious charge, Knotts could be sentenced to probation or between three and seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The charges against Knotts are not proof of guilt. Knotts is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Related: Marengo man dies in 2-car crash near SG March 26, 2009

And the colors are …

in Featured/Weddings by

You got engaged recently, and everyone is clamoring to know what kind of wedding you’re going to have. Home or destination? Large or small? Formal or informal? These are just some of the issues you may find yourself wrangling with over the next few months. Another issue you will have to decide on is your wedding colors.

There are hundreds of colors beyond the basics found in every eight-count crayon box, any of which may serve as your wedding colors. For some brides, the decision is easy. They have a favorite color or have imagined their wedding being such and such color, and there is no other choice. For other brides, it’s a struggle. If you find yourself in this category, don’t despair. Here are some tips to help you get over the hump.

First, sit down and make a list of your favorite colors, keeping in mind that the more specific you are, the better. Don’t just write down “blue” when everyone knows that you love cornflower blue. Cornflower blue looks a whole lot different than baby blue, navy blue and royal blue. Be specific in your color favorites.

Review your list and cross off any that you know for certain will not work for your wedding. Neon green and yellow, for example, may not be the best choices for a wedding, unless of course, you are going for that glow-in-the-dark look. Even then, you will probably have trouble finding apparel and accessories for your wedding in those colors.

Once you have narrowed your color favorites, do some research and find out what kind of tones they set. Silver, for example, often invokes an air of sophistication, whereas pale pink invokes a sense of playfulness. Cross off any colors from your list that conflict with the tone you hope to set for your wedding.

Consider the time and venue of your wedding as well. An evening wedding at a swanky hotel during the winter may call for a different color palette than an afternoon wedding poolside in the dead of summer. You might choose darker, richer colors for the former, and brighter, lighter colors for the latter.

Theme, too, can dictate your color choices. Hot pink and lime green might work well for a tropical-inspired summer wedding, but not so much for a serene spring garden-themed wedding. For that, you might want to go with a paler shade of pink and green.

These are just some of the factors that might influence your color choices. Keep in mind that availability may have a bearing on your decision as well. You might have your heart set on a ruby-red and gray wedding until you discover that the style of bridesmaid dresses you want doesn’t come in either of those colors. Rather than search for new dresses, you might find it easier to change your color palette.

Be flexible. You might start out with a silver and white palette and end up with a silvery-white and dark purple palette after spying the purplish flowers of your dreams at the florist’s.
by Tresa Erickson, MultiAd Builder

As green as possible

in Featured/Weddings by

You just got engaged, and much to your delight, your fiance has suggested you keep the wedding close to home and make it as green as possible. Like you, he supports many environmental causes and believes everyone should do their part, even when they are getting married.

You have already made the first good green decision, keeping the wedding at home. The closer the wedding is to your guests, the shorter of a commute they will have to make and the less fuel they will consume. For guests that are willing, you can set up carpools to transport them to and from your wedding to save even more fuel. For guests that are out of town, try finding bus or train routes they can take and encourage them to use those modes of transportation to save fuel.

The next step is finding an eco-friendly venue. Obviously, having your wedding outdoors is the easiest way to save energy, but if you’re getting married in the early spring, late fall or winter, that option may not work for you. Eco-friendly venues are out there; you just have to find them. Many hotels and resorts now offer eco-friendly wedding packages. You might also go an alternative route and get married at an organic farm or orchard. If you can’t find an eco-friendly venue, don’t despair. You can go green in many other ways.

When shopping for apparel, keep the three Rs—reduce, reuse, recycle—in mind. Buy vintage gowns and tuxedos and turn them into something else afterward, or rent or borrow gowns and tuxedos. If you must have new apparel, look for pieces you can wear again or shop at eco-friendly suppliers. Many designers now make wedding dresses and other formalwear out of hemp and other sustainable materials.

You should use the same principles when shopping for wedding rings. Consider buying vintage or used rings and having a local jeweler turn them into pieces you’ll cherish forever. If you prefer new rings, look for ones made with recycled metals and stones.

Tree-free or 100 percent recycled paper is the way to go with invitations. Of course, if you really want to reduce waste, consider sending electronic invites. Mail tangible invitations to guests who rarely use the computer and electronic invites to those who use their computer for everything.

As for the food, flowers and favors, you can definitely make green choices in these areas. Local is the key word here. Find an eco-minded caterer and work with them to create a menu made from foods grown locally. Rent your linens and tableware, or look into biodegradable or recycled disposable options. Donate your leftover food afterward instead of throwing it out. Select an eco-minded florist to create arrangements using locally grown flowers or make the arrangements yourself using flowers from your own garden or a friend’s. Throw the flowers into the compost bin afterward. Finally, look for eco-friendly favors that will make your guests more aware of the environment and the importance of making good choices.

When selecting decorations for your ceremony and reception, again keep the three Rs in mind. Borrow or rent as many items as you can. Then look for items that you can reuse or recycle. Add bows to the pews and turn them into throw pillows afterward. Place your wedding cards in various places around the room and recycle them afterward. Strew flower petals on the tables and toss them into the compost pile afterward.

You can even go green with the music. Skip the band or DJ. Hire an instrumentalist or vocalist instead and ask them to leave all of their electronic equipment at home. Whether acoustic or sung a cappella, the music will be beautiful.

Continue your efforts to go green with your wedding gifts. Set up a registry of eco-friendly gifts. If you are combining houses and don’t really need anything, request your guests contribute to one of your favorite environmental causes in lieu of buying you a wedding gift.

Contrary to popular belief, going green at your wedding doesn’t mean you have to settle for less. You can still have the wedding of your dreams; you just have to be willing to take the time to explore your options. If it seems overwhelming, consider hiring an eco-minded wedding planner. They will know all of the ins and outs of having a green wedding and have access to people and places that you don’t.

by Tresa Erickson, MultiAd Builder

Summer doldrums cure

in Elburn/Featured by

Keslinger Road Day Camp offers faith-based fun
by Paula Coughlan
ELBURN—Are your children already saying they’re bored this summer? Relief is in sight at the Keslinger Road Day Camp.

The camp will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, July 26-30, at Faith Assembly Church on Keslinger Road in Elburn, one-half mile west of Route 47.

Camp leader Adam Hammond has held similar programs at the Crossroads Christian Youth Center for eight years, with up to 150 children in attendance. This is the first year the day camp will take place in Elburn.

“We felt it was time to offer day camp to the Kaneland area,” he said.

The deadline for registration is Monday, July 5. Attendance is capped at 80 children.

The nondenominational, faith-based camp will feature creek-walking, cook-outs, skits, water wars, craft, games, playground, sports, Bible stories, competitions with prizes, and swimming at both the Crossroads Christian Youth Center on Route 30 in Big Rock and at Splash Country in Aurora.

Photo: Camp leader Adam Hammond tries to catch up to Jordan Boyd during a flag football game. Courtesy photo

Editorial: Have fun and stay safe this weekend

in Featured/From the Editor's Desk by

During the summer months, alcohol is involved in approximately 60 percent of fatal car accidents that occur between midnight and 6 a.m.

With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police, as well as local law enforcement agencies, will conduct extensive anti-drinking-and-driving activities during the holiday weekend.

In addition to the impact alcohol plays in accidents during late-night hours, the situation is compounded by the research that shows motorists use seatbelts less frequently late at night.

“July 4th is a great time of celebration for our country, but too often, those celebrations can turn deadly because of impaired driving and a failure to buckle up,” said IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig in a statement released this week. “That is why IDOT is working with Illinois law enforcement to remind motorists to designate a sober driver before celebrating. If you don’t and you choose to drink and drive, you will be arrested.”

For those who plan to celebrate on the water, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) said that alcohol is one of the leading factors in fatal boating accidents throughout the nation.

“Our Conservation Police Officers work very hard to make sure Illinois public waters are safe for everyone to enjoy,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “We certainly want people to have a good time on the water, but we have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence.”

IDOT recommends that motorists should always designate a sober driver and should also restrict friends and family members from driving impaired. These two recommendations are just two of several simple steps to avoid a tragic crash or an impaired driving arrest this July 4th.

Other important tips include:
• Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
• If you are impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
• Promptly report impaired drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement by pulling over and dialing 911.
• Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears their safety belt. It is your best defense against an impaired driver.

The You Drink & Drive. You Lose crackdown began June 18 and runs through July 4. It is supported by nearly $1 million in federal safety funds being made available by IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety. For more information about impaired driving in Illinois, please visit www.drivesoberillinois.org.

Coffee, confection, connection

in Elburn/Featured by

Downtown Elburn cafe has a new identity
by Paula Coughlan
ELBURN—The Mad Hatter Cafe’s grand opening on Sunday offered children a chance to decorate their own cupcakes, which drew many families to the event at Party Animals, 118 N. Main St., Elburn.

The Mad Hatter Cafe offers customers a place to sip an espresso and connect with WiFi service on their laptops at the colorfully painted tables in front of the shop, and it even provides deluxe coffee service to your car.

The cafe originally opened as part of the Party Animals themed party store in 2008, but many people did not realize it was there.

“People knew us for the parties and supplies we offered, but didn’t realize that we also have a coffee cafe at the front of the store,” said Cindy Thul, shop owner. “So we’re giving the cafe its own identity.”

Besides expresso, the newly named Mad Hatter Cafe offers several flavors of Italian coffee, fruit smoothies made with fresh ingredients, teas, muffins, cakes, biscotti and cupcakes. Customers with a sweet tooth also may enjoy Thul’s homemade chocolates and fudge, or pick from the 1950s-style penny candies farther back in the store. In addition, Thul is adding donuts to the menu. All of her desserts are made fresh, using recipes passed down from her grandmother and great-grandmother.

Realizing that many people want coffee and dessert on their way to work or the Elburn Metra station, Thul will take orders out to customers’ cars if they call ahead. Besides on-street parking, there is a large lot behind the store where patrons can enter through the cafe’s back door, or pull up in their cars to pick up their orders.

Also in the Mad Hatter Cafe are coffee cups to purchase along with tea pots and other serving dishes. Patrons may buy placemats for restless children to color. While there, families can browse through Party Animal’s large selection of merchandise—dolls and accessories, puppets, games, puzzles, pinatas, stuffed animals and helium balloons.

Party Animals offers 19 different themed parties in a colorfully decorated room with a velvet-lined throne for the person of honor.

Mad Hatter Cafe
inside Party Animals
118 N. Main St., Elburn
Parking available on Main Street or
in the lot in back of the café.

(630) 365-2898
(call ahead for car deliveries)

Tuesday-Friday 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
closed Mondays

photo by Ben Draper

Justin’s just Grand

in Featured/Swimming by

2007 Kaneland High School graduate Justin Patterman is making a name for himself in swimming circles. A student at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, Patterman earned six All-American honors at the 2010 NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships in Canton, Ohio. in March thanks to top-8 finishes in the 200 IM, 100 Fly, 200 Fly and 200 Medley Relay. Courtesy Photo

Maple Park Outlaws

in Community Sports/Featured by

The Maple Park Outlaws 12U Travel team placed second in the DC Lightning Travel tournament on the weekend of June 12 in Cortland. (Front, left to right): Coach Andy Franklin, Justin Peterson, Zach Hurst, Adam Mish, Will Ring, Jack Coyle, Nick Mish and Drew Franklin. (Back) Coach Jim VanHorn, Jacob Violett, Jason Edwards, Coach Jeff Violett, Joe Laudont, Tanner VanHorn, Coach Tom O’Shea and Sean O’Shea. Courtesy Photo

Batter up

in Community Sports/Featured by

The Pythons’ Patrick Milton takes his swings during Saturday morning’s Instructional League Championship against the Shamrocks at the Elburn Community Center fields. The teams consisted of 7-8 year olds, with the Shamrocks claiming the crown after a 12-8 win. Photo by Mike Slodki

Storm chaser

in Elburn/Featured by

Thrill and goodwill are motivators for Elburn man’s hobby
by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—Brad Hruza was fascinated by clouds and storms while growing up in Iowa. And his interest in inclement weather only grew stronger when he was exposed to an abundance of lightning and tornadoes after moving to Illinois in 1985.

“I’ve always loved bad weather, and I spent a lot of time in my youth following the rain,” he said.

Hruza’s fondness for stormy weather eventually led him to his ultimate labor of love—storm chasing, which he has done for the last 15 years. While most people will try to find shelter below ground during a severe storm, Hruza prefers to get dangerously close to storm clouds and tornadoes to take pictures of them.

Hruza also became a National Weather Service-certified storm spotter last spring.

Not everyone understands his unusual hobby.

“People ask why I (chase storms) and what the point is,” Hruza said. “My only response is, if I can save just one life by helping to get a 10-second-earlier warning to them, then that makes every second I have ever chased worth it. I do it to help save lives and property.”

One thing Hruza doesn’t chase storms for is money. He volunteers, without pay, to get up close and personal with disastrous weather for the Skywarn Spotter Network. And he currently has plenty of time to spot and chase storms, having a disability since January 2009 when a 616-pound entertainment center fell on his foot while he was helping a friend move.

Hruza originally wanted to become a meteorologist but managed to sit through only one class at Northern Illinois University before deciding meteorology wasn’t going to work out for him. Hruza wanted to see storms and twisters in-person, not just on radar.

Hruza, now 34, moved to Elburn in 2005. Living in the area has given him the opportunity to chase some formidable storms, one of which was a tornado that swept through Dwight and Streator, Ill. two weeks ago.

“I traveled down there to see the devastation. I actually walked around taking photos right in the middle of the destruction,” he said. “It was heartbreaking. People just didn’t know what to do.”

“My first thought in Dwight was that their situation was horrible,” Hruza said. “Not only did (the tornado) hit a populated area, but it was dark out. No one could see it coming. Thankfully, no one died.”

Hruza also found a particular memento in Dwight that perfectly embodied how a dangerous storm can change everything in a few moments.

“I looked down at my feet and there was a ripped-in-half picture of a newborn baby. My first thought was how people always say there are things that can never be replaced, and this is what they meant by that,” he said. “I took the picture, telling myself that this is one memory someone lost that I could not let be lost forever.”

While there is plenty of goodwill in Hruza’s storm-chasing motives, he admits he really enjoys the scary, thrilling aspect of the work, too.

“It’s a definite rush, and it’s really hard for me to explain exactly what it feels like,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing, though.”

Piacere! at Acquaviva

in Featured/Maple Park by

Established vineyard now offers Italian bistro, wine tastings, deli, gift shop
by Paula Coughlan
MAPLE PARK—Piacere is an Italian greeting that asks you to enjoy yourself and also is the name of one of the wines at the Acquaviva Winery in Maple Park, owned by the Vito Brandonicios family.

Visitors to the winery, which opened to the public in May, become part of the family and are virtually transported to the Italian town of Aquaviva dela fonti, located at the heel of the boot-shaped Italy, where Brandonicios’ grandfather had vineyards.

The winery features a bistro, a wine-tasting bar, and a delicatessan and gift shop with a variety of sausages, cheeses, olive oil, Italian brands of flour and noodles, sauces, canned tomatoes, wine glasses and utensils, plus a selection of eight family wines and gift baskets.

In the bistro, the casually elegant atmosphere encourages the Italian tradition of lingering to enjoy friends, food and family. Small meals, called assaggini in Italian, are tied directly to the taste of a certain wine.

Wines are listed on the menu with the meals that go best with them. Selections include thin Italian pizzas with fresh ingredients, antipastos, pastas, chicken, filets and shrimp, along with salads, breads and dipping sauce. Among the desserts, made on site, are tiramisu, cannolis, lemon ices and spumoni. Additional seating is available on the patio.

Wine is available by the glass or bottle. At the wine-tasting bar, patrons may sample different varieties.

Vito Brandonicios arrived in Chicago from Italy at age nine. As an adult, he moved his family to Maple Park in 1984 where he began recreating his beloved grandfather’s vineyards. When they constructed the winery building, at first the family was not sure how they wanted to use it.

“We began to design it bit by bit, starting with the ceilings,” Vito’s son, Joey said. “Then we put in the deli, and decided to have a wine tasting bar.”

Then they hired Russian artist Andre Zabella to create a vast domed ceiling of Italian winery paintings at the entrance, a work which took four months to complete.

“We couldn’t do any other construction while the artist was working because the dust would have gotten into the paint,” Joey said.

Acquaviva Winery began posting “open” signs along Route 38 in mid May and the response from the public was immediately positive, the Brandonicios said. As a result, the business will add more parking.

Future plans for the winery also include a downstairs meeting room and possibly a cigar room and space for special events such as weddings. The family also hopes to expand the outside seating area, and offer entertainment and winery tours.

From the vine
Acquaviva Winery produces several different varietals of wine in its Maple Park vineyards, which it must maintain on a daily basis, especially when a lot of rain has fallen, said Joey Brandonicio, of the family-owned business.

“Our vines do well in the Midwest region, but grapes will start to absorb too much water and if they do they can start to split open,” he said. “That is when pests and disease will find them. We inspect the vines regularly as lack of vigilance could loose an entire crop.”

The family was pleased when their first entry into wine competitions at Fingerlakes, New York, resulted in all of their wines winning silver and bronze medals. They have also won gold medals in Illinois competitions.

The winery
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday;
11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday;
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday;
noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
47W614 Rt. 38, Meredith Road, Maple Park
(630) 365-0333

Photo: A tasting bar at Acquaviva is just one of the features at the winery, which opened to the public in May. The winery also features a bistro, delicatessen, gift shop, outdoor patio and its own vineyard. Courtesy Photo

Guest editorial: Happy Father’s Day

in Featured/From the Editor's Desk by

Guest editorial
by Martha Randolph Carr
Courtesy of caglecartoons.com

Here’s to all of the dads who understand that the key ingredient to being a great dad is showing up, no matter what. It seems like such a simple and obvious task. Just be there when your child needs someone to talk to or when there’s a flute concert or when there’s a football practice and they asked the parents to be there.

But, if you’ve shown up at any of these events you know from the empty seats how often it doesn’t happen. There are so many great and worthwhile excuses like having work to get done or at least sending your spouse or maybe even a nice day and 18 holes. The average person would nod their head in agreement with each one of them and say, well, you tried.

However, parenting is not about you.

Most people get that in a general sense because, particularly when the child is small, they obviously need us to focus. At first, everything about being a new parent is exhausting and makes the head spin because it’s all so new, it’s necessary and there’s really no choice if the job is to be done even halfway right.

I remember when my son, Louie, was brand-new and I drove by a restaurant where my friends were sitting outside, laughing and chatting. I wanted to stop and join them but Louie needed my attention and that came first. That was the moment I knew things had changed forever and I just needed to give in and do it.

But here’s an added twist.

In order to achieve greatness we have to be willing to show up and believe it’ll all work out. We get that belief in doses every time a parent shows up for us. That goes double when we know they had to put something else aside in order to be there, in that seat.

All of us want our children to reach beyond what seems possible or easy and go for what challenges them, what brings out their talents and then tests the boundaries at least a little. We’ve learned by now that that’s where the real rewards are waiting but if you can’t risk it and show up, your chances of finding it go way down.

That’s the exact spot where it comes in handy if you had a dad who went beyond what seemed easy or convenient and just showed up without wondering what was in it for them. They were there fitting in to the small desk or at the dinner table or standing on the sidelines and they were cheering for your success.

We may not know what rewards await us for trying every day, but we’ve been given this wonderful example that going first is a big part of the process. It’s like going to the gym every day in the early morning hours because being fit matters and then waiting months to see the results.

You wade out again into the choices and believe in the possibilities of what might be there because you have a great dad who showed up and believed in you even though you were blowing the wrong note during the flute concert or were distracted by fireflies during the soccer game.

Dads are great at being open to the idea that your greatness is still evolving and chasing fireflies might be a part of the bigger picture.

When our children are grown it’s even about showing up to say nothing at all and encouraging our children to need us less because we know they now have all the tools that they need to build their own dreams. To all of us, like me, whose great dad has passed away, may we live our lives in a way that honors their humor, their passion and their beliefs in us. Happy Father’s Day.

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