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AMBER Alert team celebrates 10-year anniversary

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SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois AMBER (America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert Task Force recently announced the 10-year anniversary of the first AMBER Alert broadcast in Illinois.

Every year, hundreds of children are abducted in Illinois. Most are returned home safely; unfortunately, others are not. The public’s help in locating missing children is critical, and the AMBER Alert Task Force relies on tips and information to assist law enforcement’s efforts in finding missing children.

When a child is reported missing, every second counts. That is why the AMBER Alert Program’s greatest tools are the eyes and ears of the public.

The AMBER Alert System is named after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted in 1996 while playing near her home in Arlington, Texas. She was later found murdered. In response to community concern, the Texas Association of Radio Managers, with the assistance of Texas’ local area law enforcement, created the first AMBER Plan. All 50 states now have similar plans.

The Illinois AMBER Alert Notification Plan is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters and the National Weather Service (NWS) to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases. This is the same concept used during severe weather emergencies. The goal of the AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe return of the child.

The effectiveness of the system requires collaboration between law enforcement agencies, Illinois Broadcasters, the NWS, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Press Association and the public.

“While we hope for a day when we never again need an AMBER Alert, the broadcast community, as always, stands ready to voluntarily serve at moment’s notice,” said Dennis Lyle, president and CEO of the Illinois Broadcasters Association.

Since its inception, the Illinois AMBER Alert System has been used to broadcast 88 messages of abducted children, with the Alert accounting directly for 41 children returned home safely.

In 2012, Illinois has activated six AMBER Alert Broadcasts . In four of those cases, the AMBER Alert was credited with the recovery.

Since 1997, nationwide AMBER Alerts have been credited for over 590 children returned home safely.

“The proof of the effectiveness of an AMBER Alert Broadcast is in the numbers,” said Illinois AMBER Alert Coordinator Craig Burge. “This program is unlike many others because it is a public partnership. Citizens in Illinois can take pride in the fact that they can help each and every time a child is abducted by simply being aware of their surroundings and reporting what they see to law enforcement officials.”

Burge also stressed that collaboration is key. “This collaborative effort will continue to provide the basis for the success of AMBER Alerts for years to come,” he said.

For more information about AMBER Alerts, visit

Village Board discusses hiring 911 dispatch service

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by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village Board members on Nov. 20 discussed hiring the company Tricom to answer 911 calls and take care of dispatch.

Montgomery currently takes care of dispatch for Sugar Grove, while Tricom currently dispatches for St. Charles, Batavia, Geneva and Elburn.

“When a 911 call comes in, we take data from our dispatch centers and go straight to the squad cars,” said Nicole Lamela, regional vice president of Tricom. “If it’s a landline, it gives us the info of their address. If it’s a wireless call, the GPS bounces off the cell towers and shows up on our map.”

Tricom notes its consistent achievement of a 60-second response time. The company has a system whereby calls are prioritized and allocated when necessary. Board members and Tricom representatives during the meeting expressed a desire to work together.

Dog-attack wounds cited as cause in death of Big Rock woman

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BIG ROCK—The death of a Big Rock woman has been ruled the result of wounds sustained during a dog attack.

Dawn Brown, 44, of the 400 block of Jefferson Street in Big Rock, was found dead on the afternoon of Nov. 12. After completion of her autopsy by the Kane County Coroner’s Office, it was ruled that Brown died from wounds she sustained inside her home during an attack by her pet Mastiff.

Brown and her husband also owned a Boxer and Pit Bull mix breed. All three animals were taken into custody by Kane County Animal Control.

A memorial service for Brown was held on Saturday in Big Rock.

Goodbye, Cottonwood Farm; Hello, Autumn Lane

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Photo: The former Cottonwood Farms of Big Rock is now open under new ownership. Autumn Lane Equestrian has full barns and individual stalls available for boarding. The equestrian facility was recently purchased and renovated by Joe Ludwig and his daughter Gianina. Courtesy Photo

by Keith Beebe
HINCKLEY/BIG ROCK—Gianina Ludwig has lived in Hinckley and Big Rock her entire life, and at a very young age was raised around horses. So it made perfect sense when her father, Joe, purchased Cottonwood Farm in Big Rock on Oct. 1, 2011, and then immediately leased the 21-acre property to his daughter as a way to “fulfill her lifelong equine dream by transforming the property into a high-end boarding facility at an affordable price.”

Gianina reopened the farm a month later under a new name: Autumn Lane Equestrian Center.

The farm, located on Dauberman Road, was reintroduced as a horse boarding facility rather than a breeding ground, and featured one other very noticeable facelift.

“(We’ve added) an indoor riding arena, heated club room, bathrooms, bridle path, outdoor arenas and much more,” Gianina said.

The changes made to the former Cottonwood Farm weren’t purely cosmetic, either, according to Gianina.
“We have recently introduced winter layups for race horses to our previous boarding packages, stall boarding and pasture boarding,” she said.

Gianina also recently opened a tack store on the property, and offers feed sales as well. She said the fact that the equestrian center was a former breeding facility makes it a fantastic property for a boarding facility, thanks to its very large double-sized stalls, 42 pastures, solid wood fencing, open layout, and top-quality amenities throughout the facility.

An Autumn Lane Equestrian Center press release states that the Pasture Board Plus is the highlight of Gianina’s facility, offering an affordable pasture board with the luxury of using the entire facility. The Pasture Board Plus program includes “indoor shelter, use of the indoor and lighted outdoor riding arenas, use of the bridle path, wash bays, tack rooms and, of course, the clubhouse.”

Entire barns are also available for lease, including the likes of a 36-stall barn with 8,640 square feet, and a 40-stall barn with 10,368 square feet.

The facility also features over 21,000 linear feet of wood board fencing with 42 private pastures and a bridle path. Simply put, you name it, this place probably has it. And given her deep connection to horses, it’s only fitting that Gianina live on the Autumn Lane premesis, as well. She does so to ensure she oversees everything that goes on around the farm.

“(Autumn Lane is) a must-see to believe,” Gianina said.

2 Elburn residents charged with cannabis trafficking

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ELBURN—Two Elburn residents were among the five suspects recently arrested following a three-month-long investigation into cannabis trafficking that yielded a seizure of 598 pounds of cannabis.

Matthew A. Westerlin, 28, and Crystal L. Westerlin, 29, both of the 300 block of Nebraska Street in Elburn, were arrested on Nov. 13 and each charged with cannabis trafficking, a Class X felony; unlawful possession of cannabis (more than 5,000 grams) with intent to deliver, a Class X felony; and unlawful possession of cannabis (more than 5,000 grams), a Class 1 felony.

The investigation began in September after law enforcement personnel obtained information regarding a cannabis-trafficking organization, based in Kane and McHenry counties, that transported “hundreds of pounds of cannabis” from Arizona to Illinois.

Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group, North Central Narcotics Task Force, Illinois State Police, and the DuPage and Kane County state’s attorney’s offices, used surveillance to gather additional information regarding the organization, including the date of the next cannabis shipment.

During the shipment, agents followed the suspects, who traveled from Arizona to Illinois in four seperate vehicles, and performed simultaneous traffic stops in Kane County—one of which took place at the intersection of Route 47 and Jericho Road in Sugar Grove. The other stops occurred on Orchard Road in Aurora.

Agents also performed a search of the Westerlin’s home.

The five suspects appeared in Kane County Court on Nov. 14 for a bond hearing, with Matthew and Crystal’s bonds each set at $27 million.

KHS community helps aid Sandy victims

in Health & Wellness/Kaneland/Regional by

To help Allyson and Girl Scout Troop 466 with “Hats Off for Hurricane Help”
contribute to the Red Cross’ Sandy relief effort by texting “REDCROSS”
to 90999 for a $10 donation or visit

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland High School Assistant Principal Diane McFarlin considers herself a “Jersey girl” at heart. Her husband is from New Jersey, and she grew up near the eastern seaboard.

It’s these ties to the New Jersey area that inspired McFarlin to take action when Hurricane Sandy struck a large part of New York metropolitan area two weeks ago.

McFarlin asked everyone in the KHS community to donate any warm outerwear (all sizes, including coats, gloves and scarves), childrens clothes (all sizes, emphasis on baby clothes) that they have laying around. She currently has a donation box outside of her office.

“We have a lot of friends and family in New Jersey. We vacation there. We’re ocean folks, and we love the east coast,” McFarlin said. “When the hurricane hit, it affected everyone I knew out there. My friends in the northern part of New Jersey—their community was decimated. They were spared themselves, but they experienced lots and lots of damage to their homes. It was like people didn’t have anything out there.”

All donated goods were sent to McFarlin’s friend Johnna and her husband Larry, who live in Highland, New Jersey, and have been helping members of the community who have lost their home and belongings.

“Homes (there) have been destroyed, gasoline is nonexistant and the community needs help. When Johnna can find the time and the power to text and message folks, she says that she and Larry are trying to help the most needy, but it seems everyone needs something,” McFarlin said. “I told her that I work in a very giving community, and said that I would put the word out to (everyone in the community) to find it in their heart to help.”

Many have found it in their heart to do just that, as McFarlin has already shipped over 20 boxes to New Jersey. Kaneland Secretary Laura McPhee said KHS staff went into “full commando mode” and brought in clothing, blankets and baby supplies. McFarlin then shipped out the items at her own expense.

“Johnna and Larry traveled back and forth to give the items to people in the shelters and those that stayed in their homes,” McPhee said.

McPhee’s daughter Allyson decided she wanted to get involved with the Sandy relief effort, too, and with her mom came up with “Hats Off for Hurricane Help.” And with Diane’s blessing, the McPhees began to reach out to members of their family, as well as Allyson’s friends in Girl Scout Troop 466.

“We have been sending carloads of clothing to Jersey, and just yesterday Diane learned that Fort Monmouth (Military base) will be opened up to house-displaced New Jersey residents, as all shelters and temporary housing are used up,” McPhee said.

Allyson also asked her dad to find out if his boss would help defray the cost of shipping goods out to New Jersey. George Flolo of the The Flolo Corporation in Bensenville, Ill., agreed to send the remaining boxes to Johnna and Larry.

“Without his generous donation of shipping costs, we would be forced to take what little monetary donations that have been received and use it for shipping,” McPhee said. “I have been amazed at everyone’s continued goodwill.”

Allyson and Girl Scout Troop 466 now wants to focus on helping the Red Cross, and will post “Hats Off for Hurricane Help” flyers around Maple Park and Elburn. People interested in contributing to the Red Cross’ Sandy relief effort can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 for a $10 donation or visit

McFarlin called the generosity of the Kaneland community “overwhelming,” and said Johnna would like to thank each and every person who has contributed.

“For me, this gathering of supplies reminds me why I live in this community,” McFarlin said.

WCC names Paralympic gold medalist October Featured Alumnus

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Photo: Joe Berenyi of Oswego won three cycling medals at the recent 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and has been named WCC’s Featured Alumnus. Berenyi played baseball for the Chiefs before losing his right arm in an accident. Courtesy Photo

SUGAR GROVE—Over the last few months, Waubonsee Community College graduate Joe Berenyi, an Oswego resident, has won gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, met President Barack Obama, and been hailed as a hero at local and national appearances.

In recognition of all of these recent accomplishments, as well as the many years of dedication and strength that went into achieving them, Waubonsee is proud to name Berenyi its Featured Alumnus for October.

Growing up in Aurora, Berenyi was always an athlete. He played football and baseball at Aurora Central Catholic before playing baseball at Waubonsee in 1988 and 1989. A pitcher and outfielder, his school record of three doubles in a single game still stands.

“Joe was a quiet, tough player,” said Waubonsee baseball coach Dave Randall. “And he’s used that competitiveness to excel in what he’s doing now.”

After graduating from Waubonsee in 1989, Berenyi’s playing days were over, but his competitive fire still burned.

“I had always liked riding my bike, and I started to do it more for exercise,” he said. “But I like to compete, and so entered a few local races.”

Then, in his second year of cycling, the day before a big race, Berenyi was involved in a construction accident that resulted in a broken leg, shattered kneecap and the loss of his right arm.

Needless to say, recovery was not easy, but after a few years, Berenyi decided it was time to try out the truth of the old axiom about not being able to forget how to ride a bicycle. Prairie Path Cycles was able to modify bikes to include electronic shifting gears and brakes that work with just one lever so Berenyi can ride using only his left arm.

By 2009, Berenyi was back in local races, and in 2010 he was at the Paracycling National Championships.

“I was interested to see how I would fare there, because everyone I had raced around here had been able bodied,” Berenyi said.

Berenyi took silver in that first paracycling race and hasn’t looked back since. In this, his first year of international competition, Berenyi won medals in three of his five events at the Paralympic Games—a gold in the 3 kilometer individual pursuit, a silver in the men’s individual time trial and a bronze in the track cycling mixed sprint competition.

“It was bigger, better and more impressive than I expected,” Berenyi said of his Paralympic experience.

At 6,000 strong, the crowd at the games was large and especially loud, given that Berenyi’s competitor in the gold medal race was British.

“The decibel level was like a jet engine, but it didn’t distract me,” Berenyi said. “I knew what I had to do—just pedal.”

Pedaling is mostly all Berenyi had time for while in London. He and his family were able to take the train to Paris for a day, but otherwise, Berenyi was training, recovering and competing. And, of course, living life in the Olympic village.

“The food in the village was very good,” he said. “They have stations with food from all over the world.”

Berenyi will have plenty of chances to sample more international cuisine as he continues to paracycle on the world stage over the next few years. While he hasn’t ruled out competing in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, right now he’s trying to enjoy being home and adjusting to his newfound celebrity.

After receiving a hero’s welcome when he returned home to Oswego on Sept. 10, he was off to the White House on Sept. 13, where he and a group of 400 other Paralympians and Olympians got a chance to meet the Obamas and Vice President Biden.

“I don’t know how it happened, but I was chosen to stand in the front row right behind the president,” Berenyi said. “I was right next to [Olympic sprinter] Tyson Gay and two down from [Olympic swimmer] Michael Phelps. I think that photo might end up being the family Christmas card this year.”

Rabies registration for unaltered pets to increase Dec. 1

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department is sending a reminder that fees for rabies registration for pets that are not spayed or neutered will increase on Saturday, Dec. 1. The County Board adopted the new fees at its Sept. 11 meeting.

The cost of the annual rabies registration for unaltered pets will increase to $25, up from $10. The cost of a three-year registration for unaltered pets will increase to $62.50, up from $25.

Registration for pets that have been spayed or neutered will remain at $10 for the annual registration and $25 for a three-year rabies registration.

County pet owners who are age 65 or older are exempt from the new fees.

Report of suspicious incident near Maple Park

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KANE COUNTY—Kane County Sheriff’s Deputies on Tuesday afternoon were dispatched to the 46W400 block of Beith Road near Maple Park on a report of a suspicious vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle pulled into a driveway and asked an 8-year-old boy if he wanted a ride. The boy ran into his house. His mother, who heard the vehicle stop, looked outside and saw the vehicle, described as a maroon 1990s model four-door—possibly a hatchback—with a loud muffler. The driver was described as an older male with white hair, glasses and a “wrinkly” face.

Sheriff’s Deputies checked the area but were unable to locate the vehicle. There were no additional reports of this nature in the area.

Martinez endorses Lauzen for Kane County Board Chairman

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AURORA—At the Western Township Republican Organization meeting in Blackberry Township on Oct. 18, Tao Martinez, Democrat nominee for Coroner, announced his public support and endorsement of Chris Lauzen, Republican nominee for Kane County Board Chairman.

“I have been saying from the beginning of the campaign that there is not a Republican way, or Democrat way, to run the Coroner’s office. Just the professional way. I see Senator Lauzen as a man with a great background to be Chairman of the County Board. He has 20 years of legislative experience,” Martinez said. “But even more important than that, he has many years of accomplishments in business and accounting in the private sector. Voters should look for the most qualified candidate in every race, and I believe that Senator Lauzen is the best person for the job. Mrs. Klinkhamer is a nice lady, and I mean no disrespect for her or her background. I just see the combined public and private sector experience of her opponent as a better option.”

Fire Prevention Week

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SPRINGFIELD—The Office of Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM), in cooperation with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is marking National Fire Safety Week to educate families on the importance of fire protection. This year’s theme, “Have Two Ways Out,” aims to educate families on how to establish a fire escape plan that includes two ways out of every room in the home.

“Having a fire escape plan should be a priority for every family. The plan should include two ways out of every room in the house,” State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis said. “Everyone in the household should be trained on how to escape the home within the first three minutes after the sound of a smoke alarm.”

A “two ways out” plan should also include overnight guests and visiting friends or family members. Families should assign an outside meeting place during a fire emergency and instruct members not to go back inside the house.

Special attention should be paid to infants and toddlers as they cannot help themselves during an emergency. An adult family member should be assigned to immediately assist infants and children under the age of 5 at the sound of a smoke alarm.

During a fire emergency, children should be taught to never hide in closets, under the bed or a table. School-age children should be encouraged by parents to participate in fire drills in their schools and share with family members what they learned from the experience.

According to the (NFPA), fire departments respond to a house fire in the United States every 80 seconds. In 2011, fire departments in United States responded to 1,389,500 fires. The most recent statistics reflect 369,000 house fires, resulting in more than 3,005 civilian deaths. Of those, 2,520 fatalities were reported in homes. Fire injuries to civilians during the same year totaled 17,500. Nearly 14,000 of those cases occurred in home fires.

The following is a list of fire prevention recommendations:
• Create an escape route—A two-ways-out escape plan that includes every room in the house could be disguised as a fun activity through role playing. Parents should stress helping those who are most vulnerable, including seniors and the disabled.
• Smoke alarms—Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including bedrooms and hallways, and replace its battery twice a year.
• Prevent electrical fires—Avoid overloading circuits or extension cords. Cords and wires should never be placed under rugs or in high traffic areas.
• Keep plugs safe—Unplug all appliances when not in use. Follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions and use all five senses to spot any potential disasters.
• Alternate heaters—Make sure there is ample space around any portable heating unit. Anything that could catch fire should be at least three feet away. Inspect your home’s chimney annually and use fire screens to help keep any fires in the fireplace.
• Position appliances carefully—Try to keep TV sets, kitchen and other appliances away from windows with curtains. If there is a wiring problem, curtains can spread a fire quickly.
• Clean dryer vents—Clothes dryers often start fires in residential areas. Clean the lint filter every time after every drying load, and clean the exhaust duct to prevent blockage behind the dryer at least twice a year.
• Keep matches and lighters in a safe place—Children should never be allowed to use matches or lighters. Inspect children’s bedrooms for any matches or candles being used without adult consent.

For more information about fire safety prevention and other useful information, visit

National Family Partnership, DEA join forces for 2012 Red Ribbon Week

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ILLINOIS—The National Family Partnership (NFP) recently announced the national contest for its 27th annual Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31.

Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. After the murder of a DEA agent in 1985, parents, youth and teachers in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the destruction caused by drugs. This year, families can get involved by entering a contest to promote awareness in their neighborhoods and win a drug prevention grant for their schools.

Families can enter Red Ribbon Week’s contest to win a $1,000 grant for their school and a new iPad for their home. To participate in the contest, families and students will decorate the front of their homes with this year’s message, “The best me is drug free.” Studies show that substance abuse risks lessen when parents talk to their children about the dangers of drugs, and that is the goal of this year’s contest: to encourage families to talk about prevention.

To win $1,000 for their K-12 school and a new iPad, students bring the Red Ribbon Week message home by working alongside their parents to decorate their front door, mailbox, fence, etc., with the “The best me is drug free” theme. Take a photo with the family and their Red Ribbon Week decoration, then upload to or by Friday, Nov. 2 (must be parents or over the age of 18 to upload photos).

Ask family and friends to vote for your entry at between Nov. 2 and Nov. 16. Ten lucky winners from regions across the U.S. will win. Winners will be announced at events at their winning schools in December.

“Students will once again take Red Ribbon Week’s message of prevention home to their neighborhoods with this national contest,” said NFP Volunteer President Peggy Sapp. “By decorating their homes together with this year’s Red Ribbon theme, families carry the message to their communities.”

DEA Administrator Michele M Leonhart said the agency is excited to partner with the National Family Partnership on a contest that empowers communities to come together to talk about the drug problem.

“Red Ribbon Week is also when we honor DEA Special Agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena, who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe,” she said.

4 West Nile cases bring the total in Kane County to 9

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department recently reported four more cases of West Nile Virus, bringing the total so far this season to nine.

The most recent cases are a 67-year-old man and 61-year-old man, both from Elgin; a 50-year-old St. Charles man and a 59-year-old Geneva man. The Health Department will report new cases once a week on Wednesdays until the end of the West Nile season, which ends with the first hard frost of the year.

Other cases this year include a 71-year-old man from Aurora, a 61-year-old Geneva woman, a 70-year-old Aurora man, 16-year-old Batavia girl, and a 64-year-old Elgin man, who died in August.

This summer was hot and dry—the perfect combination for the Culex mosquito, the species that is known to carry the virus. West Nile Virus will likely continue to see activity until the season is over. The Health Department monitors for WNV activity in your area and throughout the county. You can visit to view a map of the trap locations throughout the county, as well as other surveillance activities. Surveillance updates are posted once a week.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

Only about two people out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis, meningitis and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
• Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish. Cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Kane County Health Department’s website, west_nile.htm, or the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website, envhealth/wnv.htm. People also can call the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Funkey included on list of Chicago’s Top Rated Lawyers

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AURORA—Attorney Michael C. Funkey of Aurora was included in the recently published Chicago’s Top Rated Lawyers, distributed with the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal.

Funkey, whose offices are in Aurora, grew up in the Elburn and Sugar Grove area, graduated from Kaneland Junior High School and Marmion Military Academy in Aurora. He graduated from Loyola University of the South in New Orleans, La., earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1967 and a Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University’s College of Law in 1970.

He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1970, and was employed by Chicago Title Insurance Company as a title examiner. In 1971, Funkey entered the general practice of law as an associate, and on Jan. 1, 1977, became a partner in the Aurora Law Firm of Alschuler, Putnam, McWethy, Funkey & Grometer. Since 1996, he has been the principal and owner of The Funkey Law Offices in Aurora.

Funkey is presently engaged in the general practice of law in Aurora, with primary emphasis on civil litigation and criminal defense. His experience covers many different types of cases, including insurance defense, plaintiff’s personal injury, extensive experience in family law cases, commercial and business litigation, eminent domain and other types of litigation.

He served as village attorney for the village of Elburn for 12 years, township attorney for Aurora Township for eight years, and served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Northern Illinois University’s College of Law from 1996 until 2008.

He is active in the Illinois State Bar Association, was a member of the Civil Practice and Procedure Section Council from 1992 to 2005, served as Chairman from 2003 to 2004 and was a member of the Tort Section Counsel of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Funkey is a member of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Aurora and resides in Aurora with his wife, Sandra H. Funkey. They have four children and five grandchildren.

Open Hands Preschool still accepting enrollments

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WATERMAN, ILL.—Open Hands Preschool (OHP) in Waterman, Ill., is still accepting enrollments. Classes for 4-5 year olds are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and cost $100 per month. Classes for 3 year olds are Tuesdays and Thursdays and cost $70 per month.

OHP accepts children throughout the year when they turn 3 years of age. There is a one-time registration fee of $25. For more information or to register, call Lenora Gochee at (815) 264-3991.

Illinois Judges to Deliver 225 classroom presentations in celebration of 225th anniversary of U.S. Constitution

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CHICAGO—To celebrate the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the Illinois Judges Association (IJA) will kick off “Project 225,” a special program starting the week of Sept. 17, whereby scores of state judges will deliver 225 classroom presentations at high school civics classes statewide, emphasizing the Constitution’s history and contemporary relevance. The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787.

A kickoff was held at the Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield on Sept. 12. Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, other Supreme Court justices, government officials, and bar leaders joined IJA President, Judge Rita M. Novak, of Chicago, and members of the association, in a ceremony to explain the program and its objectives.

The judges, who have been trained to deliver the IJA’s “Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom” presentation, will present an updated version to high school juniors and seniors beginning this week and continuing through the end of the month.

Launched in Spring 2011 by IJA Immediate Past President, Illinois Appellate Court Justice Carol Pope and the association’s Courtroom in the Classroom Committee, the “Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom” presentation includes an overview of the three branches of government, followed by an interactive discussion on an actual U.S. Supreme Court case, New Jersey v. T.L.O. The case involves a female student caught smoking in the school bathroom. The principal searched her purse and found marijuana, paraphernalia and money, implicating the student in dealing the drug. The student claimed the search violated her Fourth Amendment rights.

A judge uses a PowerPoint presentation to explain how the case moved through the court system, then engages students in a discussion about the competing factors in the case: the need for safety and security versus the protection of personal privacy.

Illinois Transportation Secretary encourages public to ‘Embrace the Orange’

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SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider recently announced a new website to help promote the department’s latest work zone safety campaign entitled “Embrace the Orange.” As a part of the campaign, the motoring public is encouraged to sign the Work Zone Safety Pledge featured on the new site. The campaign goals are to reduce work zone crashes and fatalities on Illinois roadways.

“We are trying new and creative ways to help make zero fatalities a reality in Illinois,” said Secretary Schneider. “We have seen a dramatic increase in fatalities this year, and we want to remind all motorists to obey posted speed limits, stop texting and driving, and always remember that talking on cell phones or using any hand-held devices while driving through a work zone is illegal.”

On the new website, visitors will find detailed information about how to be safe in work zones, work zone standards and policies, information about photo speed enforcement and work zone crash statistics. Visitors to the website are also encouraged to do their part to help save lives and sign the Work Zone Safety Pledge. The pledge asks motorists not to text and drive or talk on the phone in work zones. It also encourages motorists to be safe in work zones by obeying the posted speed limits at all times, pay attention to changing conditions and be courteous to other motorists.

On average, there are over 7,000 work zone motor vehicle crashes in Illinois every year. In 2011, 24 people died in work zones, 21 of those deaths were the drivers or passengers of vehicles, one was a pedestrian and two were construction workers.

In June 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation kicked off the work zone safety campaign and partnered with Comcast Cable to create “Seymour Signs,” a bold, animated character, to help educate motorists on the dangers of reckless driving in work zones. The commercial can be viewed on the new website.

To access the new website or take the pledge, visit the Embrace the Orange website at

Local band celebrates completion, release of new album

in Featured/Regional by

Photo: The band Train Company recently released their third CD, “The Remains of an Effort.” Photo courtesy of Train Company

by Amanda Niemi
ST.CHARLES—After four years of finding their eclectic sound, local quintet Train Company has made it on the major music scene with the release of their album “The Remains of an Effort.”

The album takes styles from Chicago blues, bluegrass, jazz and rock, and incorporates backup artists and a string quartet to create the band’s “most ambitious project” to date.

This is Train Company’s first major album release since their debut EP. It took one day for the band to record those three initial songs; “The Remains of an Effort,” aptly titled, took over two years to complete.

“It finally feels like the real thing,” band frontman said John Zozarro said.

The self-described “rotating group of musicians” consists of a core group that includes Johnny Zozarro (lead vocals, guitar), Mark Alletag (saxophone, guitar, woodwinds), Mike DeWitte (bass, backing vocals), Rob Lejman (drums), and, most recently Sam Wyatt (piano, keyboards, and key-tar).

“We’ve evolved not only stylistically, but we grew up together, too,” Zozarro said. “We started (Train Company) when we were just 21; you can hear how we’ve grown in our song composition and styles. We’re putting out the best we can do right now.”

The band made a decided choice to “keep it local” and give back to their fans as over 500 people came to “The Remains of an Effort” album release at St. Charles’ historic Arcada Theatre on Aug. 17.

“We have such a strong backbone in St. Charles and wanted to bring the show to them,” Zozarro said. “The Arcada is historic and beautiful; it worked out perfectly.”

The record release at the Arcada was Train Company’s biggest production to date, including back-up singers, strings and horns.

“At one time there were 17 of us on stage,” Zozarro said.

Fans were vocal about the CD release on the band’s Facebook page, posting pictures, well-wishes and positive reviews.

“I can’t stop listening to this CD; repeat for days. It’s beautiful,” said one fan from St. Charles.

“Sooooo I just heard your entire new album like (two) days ago, and I gotta ask … did you intentionally make me not want to listen to anything else?” said a fan from Chicago.

Zozarro seemed humbled by the bands supporters, new and old.

“We’ve had nothing but positive remarks all around from fans, blogs, magazines and news (organizations). We released something we were 100 percent satisfied with.”

Their recent tour included some impressive music venues, including Chicago’s Double Door, House of Blues, Metro, and South By South West (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. The band has also been an opening act for major acts like Counting Crows, Blind Melon and Blues Traveler.

Though the band chose to stay local for their first major release, Zozarro said they’re looking toward bigger things for the future.

“Over the last six months, we really wanted to release the album in the right way,” he said. “We’ve been fairly concerned in this area. We did the weekend warrior shows in the past, but this was our first big tour.”

Even though it’s been only a year and a half since the band ventured out of local venues, they’re confident they won’t have to play bars anymore.”

Train Company’s next performance will take place at Martyrs in Chicago on Friday, Sept. 7, at 9 p.m.

For more information on “The Remains of an Effort,” tour dates, or to contact the band, visit or email

Prairie Parkway funding pulled

in Elburn/Kaneville/Maple Park/Regional/Sugar Grove by

Money diverted to widen Route 47
by Susan O’Neill
ILLINOIS—Citizens Against the Sprawlway members recently gathered at their 11th annual picnic and rally, this time to celebrate the demise of the Prairie Parkway.

For the past 10 years, the group opposing the proposed Prairie Parkway has held the event on the last Sunday in August at Big Rock resident Marvel Davis’ farm. This year, after 11 years of waging their fight against the proposed highway, the grassroots organization said they were finally able to declare victory.

The Federal Highway Administration on Aug. 22 rescinded its 2008 decision to approve and fund the Prairie Parkway, a proposed 37-mile expressway that was to connect Interstate 80 with Interstate 88. Funding earmarked for the highway has been diverted to pay for widening and other improvements to Illinois Route 47, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) spokesperson Josh Kauffman said.

According to IDOT District III engineer Dave Brobiak, the stretch of Route 47 beginning .6 miles north of I-80 in Morris and ending at Cross Street in Sugar Grove is in some stage of construction or study to widen and improve it.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Jan Strasma, Chairman of Citizens Against the Sprawlway. Strasma and his group, in conjunction with a number of other organizations, had continued to voice their opposition to the highway. They told IDOT that, rather than build a new road, the money should instead be spent on improving the current roads, especially Route 47. Then-U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert in 2001 had reintroduced the idea of the north-south highway between I-80 and I-88. He said that the highway would relieve congestion on local and state roads, as well as absorb the additional future traffic he said was inevitable due to an anticipated increase in growth in western Kane County, as well as Kendall and Grundy counties.

But Strasma and other opponents said that the outer belt expressway would act as a stimulant for rapid growth, eating up acres of precious farmland in the process.

IDOT in 2002 moved forward with plans for the highway, and identified a corridor through which it could be built. IDOT marked the deeds of landowners along the corridor, which meant that if owners wished to make an improvement to their property, they had to notify the state first. The state would then have the option to purchase the property.

Opposition to the parkway became more widespread as farmers and other landowners realized the impact the road would have on their property. Davis, whose farm helped people visualize what would be lost in building the highway, said her property would be divided in two by the proposed road.

Big Rock and Kaneville residents voted overwhelmingly against the parkway in non-binding referendums.

Not everyone was opposed to the highway, however. Village officials interested in growth, such as Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels, said they saw the highway as a stimulus for commercial and other development in their towns and beyond. Michels did not see the choice as either the parkway or the improvements to local roads. Sugar Grove officials supported both the highway and the widening of Route 47.

Meanwhile, Hastert hastened progress on the Parkway when he obtained a $207 million earmark for the highway in the federal government’s 2005 transportation bill.

The Federal Highway Administration issued its record of decision approving the Prairie Parkway project and the final environmental impact statement in 2008, making the project eligible for federal funding. Hastert resigned from Congress later that year.

Citizens Against the Sprawlway, in conjunction with Friends of the Fox River, filed a lawsuit in 2009 against the FHWA, stating that IDOT had preselected the route prior to conducting the environmental study of its impacts. Attorneys from the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), a Chicago public interest group, represented the group.

With the flagging economy and a slowdown of development, as well as the state of Illinois’ financial woes, funding for the highway stalled. Beginning in 2010, IDOT cut the Prairie Parkway from its six-year Highway Improvement Program and continued to omit it from subsequent annual updates.

In addition, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning did not give the Parkway a high funding priority in its “Go to 2040” land use and transportation plan for the seven-county area.

This paved the way for the FHWA’s action to rescind its record of decision for the highway. Staff attorney Andrew Armstrong said that, when the state rescinded its record of decision, his organization filed to dismiss the lawsuit.

According to the Citizens Against the Sprawlway website, about $70 million in federal and state funds has been spent so far on the Prairie Parkway on studies of the need for the highway, environment and engineering, including $21.5 million for the acquisition of about 300 acres of land along the corridor. No actual construction has taken place.

Although the federal action effectively cancels plans for the Prairie Parkway, Kaneville Planning Commission Chair and IDOT Prairie Parkway Citizens Advisory Committee member Joe White emphasized that it doesn’t really change anything unless the state decides to lift the marks off of people’s deeds.

IDOT continues to protect the 400-foot-wide corridor between the two interstates. The corridor protection, filed in 2007, restricts affected property owners from making improvements to their property without state review and approval.
White said he doesn’t believe it was public opinion that put the brakes on the parkway. He believes that if IDOT had an open checkbook, the parkway would still be on the table.

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson would agree with that. He said that with the center line already designated, he believes that plans for the highway will resume if funding comes back. He supports the highway and said it is important in alleviating traffic on Route 47 and diverting north-bound truck traffic. He thinks it should be built, not just from I-80 to I-88, but all the way to I-90.

In the meantime, he said he supports keeping the funding local, and that Route 47 can use the improvements. He said he also supports a full interchange at Route 47 and I-88, something that Sugar Grove officials have been pushing for some time.

Michels said that he has already been in touch with Rep. Randy Hultgren to ensure that the funding stays local and remains focused on Route 47.

“We need to move fast and we need to be vocal,” Michels said. “I’m afraid things could be re-allocated.”

Geological survey work to be done at Freeman-Kame

in Regional by

GENEVA—If you see drilling at the end of August at Freeman-Kame Forest Preserve, the Forest Preserve District wants the public to know it’s merely an approved project by the Illinois State Geologic Survey (ISGS).

The Forest Preserve District of Kane County has granted permission to ISGS to a take soil sample at the Gilberts preserve. Sampling work is scheduled to be performed through Friday, Aug. 31. The project will not affect regular preserve hours (sunrise to sunset).

ISGS staff will use an auger drill rig to remove soil cores (about 1.75 inches in diameter). The soil will then be taken to the ISGS labs in Champaign, Ill., where they’ll be made part of the statewide core library.

Drilling will occur in the grass adjacent to the Freeman Road parking lot. A six-inch hole will be made by the drilling process, using standard mud rotary techniques. Afterward, the hold will be plugged with bentonite chips (a swelling clay), a common well-sealing procedure. The procedures are the same that the ISGS has used for more than 30 years.

The public is asked to be mindful of the soil sampling project, and to steer clear of any machinery in the grass area, adjacent to the parking lot. Any questions are to be directed to the Natural Resources department at (630) 232-5980.

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