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Regional - page 16

Fermilab invites public to view baby buffalo

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BATAVIA—Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory welcomes the public to view its herd of American bison, commonly known as buffalo.

Five calves have been born in the past few weeks, increasing the herd size to 25. Visitors, including families with young children, can enter the Fermilab site through its Pine Street entrance in Batavia or the Batavia Road entrance in Warrenville, Ill. Admission is free, but a valid photo ID is necessary to enter the site. Summer hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Fermilab’s first director, Robert Wilson, established the bison herd in 1969 as a symbol of the history of the Midwestern prairie and the laboratory’s pioneering research at the frontiers of particle physics. The herd remains a major attraction for families and wildlife enthusiasts. Today, the Fermilab site also boasts 1,100 acres of reconstructed tall-grass prairie, as well as seven particle accelerators. The U.S. Department of Energy designated the 6,800-acre Fermilab site a National Environmental Research Park in 1989.

Visitors can learn more about nature at Fermilab by hiking the Interpretive Prairie Trail, a half-mile-long trail located near the Pine Street entrance. The Leon Lederman Science Education Center offers exhibits on the prairie and hands-on physics displays. The Lederman Center hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For up-to-date information for visitors, visit www.fnal.gov or call (630) 840-3351.

To learn more about Fermilab’s bison herd, visit www.fnal.gov/pub/about/campus/ecology/wildlife/bison.html.

The storms came rolling in

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Storms ravaged much of the Kaneland area Friday. Here, heavy clouds from the west loom over Wiltse’s Farm Produce and Greenhouse in Maple Park on Friday morning. Farmers tending their fields were able to see the storm coming for miles and head to the barn for cover. Photo Courtesy of Wiltse’s Farm Produce and Greenhouse


The storms that ripped through the area this weekend caused a variety of damage. (Above) A trampoline ended up against a fence in Batavia and seems to be destroyed.


The track team’s heavy high jump mats were nearly blown over the fence at Batavia High School during the storm on Sunday.


Trees were uprooted throughout the area, causing power outages and damage that will take weeks to clean up.

Photos Courtesy of Kimberly Kozar

Gov. Quinn signs law protecting athletes

in Regional/Sports by

CHICAGO—Governor Pat Quinn on June 27 signed a law that will help further protect children and young people from sex abuse and child abuse. House Bill 3887 requires coaches and university employees to report cases of abuse. The legislation was introduced to prevent a sex abuse scandal in Illinois similar to what occurred at Penn State University.

“Young people place their trust in coaches and university officials, and it is their responsibility to report any suspected abuse,” Governor Quinn said. “This is an important law that will help us continue to protect our children and youth.”

House Bill 3887, sponsored by Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) and Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon), required athletic personnel, university employees and early intervention providers to report suspected child sex abuse or other abuse. The legislation passed both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously.

The legislation was introduced following national media reports of widespread child sex abuse cases involving former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. Federal investigators are looking into claims the university covered up the scandal. On Friday, a jury convicted Sandusky on 45 child sex abuse counts. The new law is aimed at preventing a similar instance in Illinois.

“It was clear following the events that unfolded at Penn State that we needed to tighten up our reporting laws in Illinois to make sure nothing like that could happen here,” Rep. Kay said. “The last thing anyone would have wanted to see would be for abuses to go unreported because of a loophole in the law. I’m extremely glad we were able to get this legislation passed and close those loopholes in such a timely manner.”

“Our colleges and universities should be places of safety for our young people, and this law ensures that these new ‘mandatory reporters’ do the right thing when they suspect abuse,” said Sen. McCarter.

The law goes into effect immediately.

St. Charles July 4th celebration

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ST. CHARLES—The annual St. Charles July 4th Celebration is a time for friends and family to get together for picnics, leisure, entertainment and, most of all, to commemorate our nation’s birthday.

The fireworks extravaganza will take place on Wednesday, July 4, and is best viewed at Pottawatomie Park or Ferson Creek Park. This year, people of all ages will enjoy an outstanding pyrotechnic production—one of the largest and most industrious fireworks shows in the Fox Valley area.

This event is free, thanks to the generous support of numerous local businesses. Main sponsors include the St. Charles Park District, City of St. Charles, First State Bank and the St. Charles Breakfast Rotary.

Pottawatomie Park, which opens at 8 a.m., offers something for everyone. Picnic tables will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. It is strongly suggested that patrons bring their own tables, blankets and lawn chairs.

Settle in early to enjoy picnic-style offerings (hot dogs, bratwurst, ice cream, popcorn and soft drinks) at reasonable rates from the River View Miniature Golf concessions, which will remain open until 9:15 p.m.

Get the family together for a bit of competition at River View Miniature Golf Course, which opens at 9 a.m. This 18-hole, par 42 challenging course offers a great atmosphere of playable greens, interactive babbling brook, waterfall, sand traps, windmill, lighthouse, bridges and scenic view of the Fox River. The last tee-off is at 7 p.m. Adults (16 years of age and over) pay only $6 per 18 holes of golf. The cost for children is $5. Ages 5 and under pay $2.

Swanson Pool in Pottawatomie Park opens at noon for Park District residents and season pass holders, and at 12:30 p.m. for non-residents. The daily admission fee for residents is $7; for non-residents, it’s $10. The pool closes at 6 p.m. Only bathing suits may be worn for swimming; no cutoffs or street clothing are permitted in the pools.

The Fox Valley Concert Band will entertain park user from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the amphitheater. Local favorite Red Woody will rock the stage in the historic pavilion from 6 p.m. to dark. The band plays a variety of music including classic rock and roll, contemporary favorites and great alternative hits. With songs from Journey, Sublime, Green Day, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Goo Goo Dolls and many more, Red Woody is sure to entertain everyone.

In the event of inclement weather, the fireworks will be scheduled for the next clear evening. For more information, call the Park District at (630) 513-6200 or visit us online at www.stcparks.org.

A few reminders …
• Arrive early. Spectators are strongly encouraged to park downtown and walk to Pottawatomie Park.
• Do not activate your car alarm, because they have a tendency to go off during the fireworks.
• Spectators are asked to leave the grounds after the fireworks display has ended. Vehicle headlights are distracting to other viewers.
• Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on park property at all times.
• Fireworks, including sparklers, are prohibited in the park.
• There will be no canoe or pedal-boat rentals on July 4 at River View Miniature Golf.
• Boy Scout Island boat launch will be closed on July 4.
• For emergency assistance, go to the Main Gate or Swanson Pool during the day and the main entrance of River View Miniature Golf Course during the evening.

Relay for Life

in Featured/Regional by

“Relay for Life,” an overnight fundraiser, was held at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva on Friday to benefit the American Cancer Society. Teams and individuals, with financial pledges, walked laps around the music-filled field and participated in fun contests and activities throughout the night. During breaks from walking there was plenty to eat and drink. Kelsey Lancaster (right), Riley Hannula, Rachel Kintz and Kendall Krawczyk, students at Kaneland High School, represented Alex’s Army.

A larger group (below) coming around
the back of the outfield lined with
illuminated candle bags.

Photos by Patti Wilk

Business owners help each other

in Elburn/Featured/Regional by

Photo: Cynthia Pirok (right) of Pirok Design and President of B.A.N.G. (Business Alliance Networking Group) speaks to fellow members during the June 22 meeting in Elburn. Photo by Ellen Huxtable

by Susan O’Neill
FOX VALLEY—Pirok Design owners Kevin and Cynthia Pirok are in the business of helping other businesses establish themselves. They work with business owners to build their identity through developing a logo and designing signage, a website and other supportive graphics. This coordinated package creates a well-branded presence within the marketplace.

Early on in the development of their business, the Piroks worked with Small Business Development Center manager Harriet Parker to create marketing strategies to promote their business.

Since then, they have referred other businesses to Parker for her assistance.

“The Piroks have a propensity to connect other people they know with the assistance they need,” Parker said. “They refer other businesses to the SBDC, and they help connect entrepreneurs and small businesses with each other.”

The nature of the Piroks’ business is to help other entrepreneurs. However, they take this one step further, Parker said. They belong to several business networking groups in the area, and Cynthia is the current president of the group in Elburn.

Elburn’s Business Alliance Networking Group (B.A.N.G.) is a group of approximately 20 business people who get together on the second and fourth Friday of the month. The purpose of the group is to help and support each other in the growth of their businesses, whether it is providing information, identifying resources or suggesting leads for potential new customers.

“A person might bring up an issue or a problem, and someone else will know how to solve it. It’s a neat group,” Cynthia said.

With what Pirok calls a good cross-section of businesses, the group is industry exclusive so that no two members compete for the same clientele.

Some of the businesses are “power partners,” which means that although two businesses don’t provide the same product or service, they have the same potential clients. Sometimes it’s just a matter of remembering to mention the people you value in your group while talking to an individual who could use what they do, Cynthia said.

“We all seem to be able to benefit from what someone else has been through or through sharing helpful information about an industry,” she said. “These people become your friends. That’s what businesses need to be doing with each other.”

Topinka: Developmentally disabled will be prioritized

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka on Tuesday announced that she has directed her staff to prioritize payments for day programs, child group homes, community living facilities and other programs serving the developmentally disabled.

The direction from the state Fiscal Officer comes after the Department of Human Services notified service providers of payment delays caused by an insufficient appropriation in the fiscal year 2012 budget. The department noted that payments would not be processed until after July 1, and then be subject to ongoing state payment delays.

“Those serving the developmentally disabled should know that we will make their payments as soon as the information reaches our door,” Topinka said, noting her policy of prioritizing payment for the state’s most vulnerable residents. “People literally rely on these programs for survival, and they will take priority.”

Topinka noted that, while services for the developmentally disabled will be prioritized, her office today has more than 164,000 unpaid bills totaling $4.4 billion to businesses, schools, hospitals and service agencies throughout the state.

County preserves ‘Rustic Roads’

in Elburn/Regional by

Program retains area’s agricultural roots
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Take a turn down Pouley Road, between Keslinger and Hughes roads, and you’ll get a sense of rural Elburn before the train and the subdivisions arrived in town. Canopies of trees drape the still-gravel road; wooded areas with wild flowers flourish; and views of Johnson’s Mound and the Blackberry watershed are unobstructed. Both the historic Pouley estate and Blackberry Creek Farm speak to the area’s agricultural roots.

The rural character of this road could change on a dime if it weren’t for Kane County’s Rustic Roads Program.

Rustic Roads is a program of the Kane County Development Department and the Kane County Division of Transportation. Its purpose is to preserve rural roads and scenic vistas from residential and commercial uses and therefore protect natural and historic resources in these corridors. “Rustic” refers to both natural and built features that would be lost if not preserved and protected. Views, vegetation, farmsteads, unusual land forms and historical markers are just some of the features the program seeks to protect.

Both the County’s 2020 Transportation Plan and its 2020 Land Resource Management Plan identified the need to preserve and maintain the natural beauty of Kane County. The Rustic Roads program was established in 2000. It has since designated Brundige Road, between Keslinger and Route 38, and Ka De Ka Road in Sugar Grove as Rustic Roads.

Inclusion in the program is optional for property owners. For those who do opt into the program, certain restrictions apply.

“They must pull a permit to do (certain things),” Preservation Planner and Project Manager Julia Thavong said. “It protects structures from demolition or changes to the exterior that would compromise the historical significance.”

Thavong said that the process, however, is usually at the request of the residents. They take an interest and come forward to ask the county to look into the designation.

Kane County Forest Preserve has property on the east of Pouley and intends to keep the view of Johnson’s Mound unobstructed. It has plans to sync a trail from Blackberry Creek subdivision on the west, along the creek to Johnson’s Mound.

“It’s a positive for the entire area,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

For more information, contact the Kane County Development Department or visit www.countyofkane.org.

KC Sheriff’s Office receives report of ‘suspicious incident’ in Prestbury

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KANE COUNTY—On June 25, at approximately 4:50 p.m., a 9-year-old girl who lives in the Prestbury subdivision, located in unincorporated Sugar Grove Township, reported that a pickup truck drove near her while she was skateboarding. A male subject told her to get into the truck. She immediately went home and told her parents, who called the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies checked the area but could not locate any vehicles matching the description. The Sheriff’s Office received no additional calls of this nature.

The vehicle was a midsized white pickup truck with a silver tool box in the bed of the truck. The truck had black letters on the side and tailgate. The last letter on the Illinois license plate may have been an “S.”

The driver of the truck appeared to be alone. The girl was not able to give a description of the driver.

The Sheriff’s Office warns parents to talk to their children about stranger danger issues and, more importantly, know where their children are at all times.

Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to contact the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

Audit Hotline

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KANE COUNTY—Kane County Auditor Bill Keck on June 6 announced the implementation of the Kane County Fraud and Compliance Hotline, also known as the “Audit Hotline.”

“Our goal is become more pro-active in stopping the misuse of taxpayer dollars” Keck said.

The Audit Hotline can be used by citizens, vendors and employees to identify and report financially fraudulent, wasteful or abusive practices within the Kane County Government. These reports can be phoned in to the Audit Hotline (630) 23-AUDIT (630-232-8348), emailed to auditor@co.kane.il.us, online at www.countyofkane.org/Pages/Auditor, faxed to (630) 208-3838, in
person or by mail to Kane County Audit Hotline 719 S. Batavia Ave., Room 100, Geneva, IL 60134.

“The Audit Hotline is another tool for increased transparency and accountability in our county government,” Keck said. “Its success will depend on the willingness of employees, vendors, and citizens to report credible information about fraud, waste and abuse in Kane County.”

The Audit Hotline is used only for reporting fraud, waste and abuse within Kane County Government. It should not be used to file complaints about a neighbor, private business or any other non-government issues.

Callers can remain anonymous, as caller ID has been removed from the Audit Hotline and no personal information is required on any form of reporting.

“We would like to see callers identify themselves so if more information is required to start or complete an investigation, we can follow-up with the caller” Keck said.

If callers decide to identify themselves, their information will be protected and kept confidential unless required to be disclosed by the law.

Examples of what should be reported:
• Theft of county resources
• Misuse of county equipment or property
• Improper activities by County officials, employees and contractors
• Payroll and expense claim fraud
• Wasteful, excessive, unnecessary or inappropriate purchases or expenditures
• Fictitious vendors/supplies or false invoicing
• Embezzlement

For more information contact the Kane County Auditor’s office at (630) 232-5915 or visit their website at www.countyofkane.org/Pages/Auditor.

Delnor Health and Wellness Center offers hot stone massage

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

GENEVA—Delnor Health and Wellness Center is offering hot stone massage therapy.

Hot stone massage is a specialty massage in which the therapist uses smooth, heated stones on key points of the body. This type of massage uses traditional massage strokes while incorporating the healing effects of the warm stones.

Hot stone massage may help with:
• Alleviation of stress
• Release of toxins
• Improved circulation
• Calming of the mind and nervous system
• Deep tissue and muscle relaxation
• Treatment of tight muscles due to overexertion

Hot stone massage is available to both members and nonmembers of Delnor Health and Wellness Center. Member pricing is $110 for a 70-minute massage. Non-member pricing is $120 for a 70-minute massage.

Delnor Health and Wellness Center massage therapists are certified and trained in hot stone massage.

For more information about hot stone massage or to schedule an appointment, contact Delnor Health & Wellness Center at (630) 208-3933. TTY for the hearing impaired, (630) 208-4399.

Center brings entrepreneurs, experts together

in Featured/Regional/Sugar Grove by

Guests networking during the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center event at Waterstreet Studios Art Gallery in Batavia. At the FVEC event in Batavia, (below, left to right) Dr. Christina Krause from IHAP, Harriet Parker from Small Business Development Center and FVEC Organizing Committe and Maria Kuhn from IHAP.

Courtesy Photos

Harriet Parker
Illinois Small Business
Development Center
Waubonsee Community College
18 S. River St., Room 268
Aurora, IL 60506
(630) 906-4143
www.waubonsee.edu/sbdc

Ernie Mahaffey
Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center
630-406-5321
www.fvec.org

by Susan O’Neill
FOX VALLEY—Steve Gaspardo, a manufacturing engineer with 15 years of experience in the field, founded Gaspardo & Associates in 1996.

The company is a full-service 3-D metrology laboratory in Batavia.

Gaspardo, who has a number of degrees, including one in computer-assisted manufacturing, is one of about 25 Fox Valley entrepreneurs who have worked with experts with the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center (FVEC) to take their businesses to the next level.

Gaspardo patented an automated robotic scanner, ComScan, in 2011, but he needed the capital to move it forward. The FVEC team assisted Gaspardo in preparing financial statements and projections that helped him obtain the financing necessary to take ComScan to market and exhibit at the Quality Show in Chicago.

“Financial statements read like a novel,” Wessex 504 Corporation President Karen Lennon said. “It took three seconds to retell the story.”

Lennon went on to introduce Gaspardo to her favorite bankers, and he was on his way.

Gaspardo is proud of the fact that his equipment is 100 percent built-in-America, and most of it done within the Fox Valley area.

The Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center was founded about a year ago, in partnership with the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Waubonsee Community College. The Small Business Development Center, under the leadership of Harriet Parker, an entrepreneur in her own right, has provided assistance to small businesses in the area for a number of years.

An average of 400 clients per year—mainly life-style businesses, such as hair salons, coffee shops, landscapers and retail stores—take advantage of the center’s services. Parker links them up with resources with the expertise they need to get their businesses off the ground.

“I consider myself a matchmaker,” Parker said.

Although Parker said she has been able to help many local small businesses, she found that there were entrepreneurs in the area who needed more than she could provide.

Last year, the SBDC received a $100,000 grant from the Small Business Association through the Small Business Jobs Act. The guidelines for the grant required that the funding be used for consulting services to entrepreneurs and it emphasized collaboration.

At the same time, a group of retired and semi-retired business people from Geneva, Batavia, and other Fox Valley communities approached Parker with the desire to provide mentoring to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

According to Parker, there are two things that are critical to the success of a new business: timing and a support network.

“When the stars align like this, you know it’s going to be good,” she said.

Parker, together with a number of entrepreneurs in the Fox Valley area, used the funding to form the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center, a virtual organization set up to bring advisors and mentors together to help entrepreneurs launch new products, expand into different markets, and implement other forms of innovations.

The FVEC celebrated its partnership with the SBDC last Thursday at an event that showcased a number of entrepreneurs who have been able to benefit from the wealth of expertise available through the center.

“The goal of collaboration between the Waubonsee Small Business Development Center and the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center is to be the ultimate dot connector,” Parker said. “We are working hard to create a network of resources that supports growing entrepreneurial businesses in meaningful ways.

HorsePower riding program helps build skills, confidence

in Featured/Health & Wellness/Maple Park/Regional by

Photo: Carrie Capes (far right) helps four-year-old Emma of Sycamore ride Tonka, a 15-year-old Belgian Cross. Helping are trainers Veronica and Karol. The program began in March. Photo by John DiDonna

by Susan O’Neill
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park resident Carrie Capes said she learned very early on with Max, her 11-year-old son with multiple disabilities, that “a child with a disability really and truly needs a village.”

“I love doing that with others,” she said.

Capes recently began providing therapeutic horseback riding lessons to children and adults with disabilities at the Fox Chase Farms horse stable in Maple Park.

The riding program is known as HorsePower.

Capes had been able to use her degree in recreational therapy while working with Max, teaching him to ride, as well as other skills that translate to his daily life. She calls what she does at the stable with Max a “work/study program” in which she gives him riding lessons twice a week. He also does barn chores, such as cleaning stalls, grooming and feeding the horses, and sweeping the stable aisles.

“He feels useful and needed and a sense of pride here,” she said. “While Max needs a service dog to navigate a trip into the grocery store, he has freedom at the barn and he is successful with his behavior. This is his happy place.”

Capes said Fox Chase Farms owner Jenise Koerner saw her working with Max, and experienced first-hand the power of horses. When Capes left another therapeutic riding job, Koerner called her to see if she would like to do her work at her barn.

“I’m new to this, but I’m a full supporter,” Koerner said.

Capes is currently working with a dozen children and adults with disabilities, using the riding to help teach her students hand-eye coordination, balance and strength, keeping their focus and other skills.

In addition to the skills the students learn, therapeutic riding helps to build their self-esteem, something that people with disabilities often have in short supply.

“It’s very empowering to lead a 1,600 pound animal to do what you want him to do,” Capes said. “It’s a great confidence builder.”

Capes recently started to work with 4-year-old Trevin, one of Sycamore resident Kalie Kuhl’s triplets. Trevin has high muscle tone in his legs, which makes walking and other activities, such as climbing up onto a couch or a chair, difficult.

Trevin’s occupational and physical therapists recommended therapeutic riding for him as a way to supplement the therapy they were doing.

“For a full hour, he is straddling the horse, which is pretty effective at stretching out the muscles in his legs,” Kuhl said. “I wouldn’t be able to replicate that at home.”

Kuhl said that, because Trevin is so young, the hardest thing is keeping him engaged in his therapy. However, with all of the external distractions involving the horse and the games Capes plays with Trevin, Kuhl said she has his full attention for a solid hour.

Because Capes uses toys, pom-poms, balls, bubbles and other non-traditional items to keep things interesting, the horses need to be well-trained and desensitized to these props.

The volunteers help with training the horses, as well as walking alongside and in front of the horse during the student’s lesson, to make sure he or she is securely on the horse and paying attention to Capes. They also pitch in with barn chores.

Marmion cadet Kyle Urbanik, a 15-year-old who has been riding horses since he was about 6 years old, is one of HorsePower’s volunteers. In the two months that he has been a side-walker, he said he has already seen the students grow and make improvements.

Many of the children have never been on a horse before, so the first challenge is to help them get over their fears, Urbanik said. One child in particular has a problem with depth perception, which made him very fearful at first. Urbanik thought it would take him months to feel comfortable, but the child was safely trotting by the third week.

“His (physical) therapists said he has made a lot of progress at school, too,” Urbanik said.

Although Urbanik’s initial goal was to obtain the service hours his school required of him, he has become passionate about what he does at Fox Chase Farms.

“I hope to change a lot of kids’ lives,” he said.

Capes said that her highest goal is to provide therapeutic riding to people with disabilities, regardless of their ability to pay.

“Our dream is to have a sliding scale,” she said. “This community is helping to make that happen.”

Capes said that area businesses and residents have been very generous in their support. Paisano’s Pizza in Elburn is helping to raise money for scholarships by giving half of every $10 ticket, redeemable for a one-item pizza, purchased between now and June 15. Their goal is to use the money to help pay for lessons for children whose families can’t afford them, Capes said. There is currently a waiting list for scholarships.

SH&D Trucking has donated $1,000 for a limestone/sand mixture to blanket the arena where the students ride. Christ Community Church has donated more than $600 for materials to build two special mounting blocks to help students get onto the horse safely. About 20 of the church’s members have committed to a work day on Wednesday, June 6, when they will help build the blocks and other tasks.

“Mounting the horse is one of the most difficult things for a person with a disability,” Capes said. “These blocks are a huge blessing. I have felt so supported by the Kaneland community.”


Carrie Capes has launched her new program, HorsePower Therapeutic Riding, at Fox Chase Farm in Maple Park. The program will teach students balance, confidence, coordination and strength. Here she helps Emma give Tonka a treat after their ride on May 14. Photo by John DiDonna

Entrepreneurs plus mentors equal success

in Regional by

by Susan O’Neill
FOX VALLEY—Position-Tech, a sports equipment manufacturing company created by four former Northern Illinois University students, was one of several companies featured last Thursday at an event celebrating the successes of entrepreneurs from the Fox Valley area.

The featured companies were only a small sample of the more than 25 start-ups that received business advice and mentoring through the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center and the Illinois Small Business Development Center in the past year.

Former Northern Illinois University football players Erek Benz and Dan Nicholson were still in school five years ago when they found themselves slipping around on the field. They did a little research and found that, although many improvements had been made to other types of football equipment, football cleats had not significantly changed since the 1920s.

After graduation, Benz decided to do something about that. He and Nicholson, together with college buddies Christian Anderson and David Pickard, developed a football cleat system that was proven to increase traction on the field by 20 percent.

The cleats are also customizable, depending on the position of the player and whether the desired advantage is agility, power, balance or speed. They patented the technology, founded the company Position-Tech, LLC, and with financing from family and friends, hit the road to sell the product.

Their cleats received high marks from NCAA and professional football players, who immediately saw the potential for a legal advantage over the competition. Their product won endorsements from some well-known players, including Chicago Bears’ wide receiver Earl Bennett, who became Position-Tech’s first company spokesperson.

The young men were also able to persuade Dick’s Sporting Goods to place the cleats on its website. After the cleats made eight times the revenue that Dick’s had projected, the sporting goods company rolled them out to 216 of its stores. Position-Tech’s current problem is obtaining the financial backing needed to keep up with the demand.

This is where serial entrepreneur Andrew Parker comes in. Parker is one of a number of successful entrepreneurs who provide mentoring and guidance to companies like Position-Tech through a partnership between the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center and the Illinois Small Business Development Center.

Parker and other entrepreneurs with various areas of expertise work with the founders of these start-ups, who otherwise might not be able to afford their services, to help them take their companies to the next level.

Parker said he considered it a real opportunity to work with the four former college friends.

“With early starters, it’s not about the product, it’s about the people,” he said.

The two things that attracted Parker about Position-Tech were the “cool technology” and “a CEO who listens.”

Parker said the first thing he does with his clients is a half-day strategy session to evaluate their business and determine their needs. Those needs could be to increase revenue, fix the marketing plan or work on some specific operational issues.

Parker has helped the young men rebuild their financial model from scratch. He determined that in order for their company to continue to grow, they needed an additional $1.5 million in financing. After working with them on their business pitch to investors, he went with them to their first pitch meeting. They came away from that first meeting with $250,000.

With additional advice and assistance, Benz and his team also launched an online cleat configurator web site and created a marketing strategy to penetrate the high school football market. They are positioned to expand into the Lacrosse and Rugby markets in 2014.

Another company that received critical business advice from Fox Valley entrepreneurs who have “been there,” is Benefit Performance Associates, LLC. Owners Maria Kuhn and Dr. Christina Krause had an award-winning Integrated Health Advocacy Program (IHAP) to address the health care needs of patients with multiple chronic illnesses, while significantly reducing the health care costs of employers. What they didn’t have was a clear identity and branding strategy, a dynamic sales pitch or realistic pricing that would allow them to grow.

After working with consultants from FVEC to improve their sales presentation and create a viable marketing strategy, Kuhn said they are 30 days away from signing a contract with a large benefits company in Indiana that will bring in $300,000 worth of revenue.

Illinois Small Business Development Center’s Harriet Parker could not be happier with the success of the partnership her organization has forged with the Fox Valley Entrepreneurial Center.

“There’s so much expertise out there, and the entrepreneur doesn’t have a good way to tap into that,” she said. “Our goal is to be the ultimate dot connector.”

Parker said that the mentors that sign on to the project are not in it for the money. She said many times they will work at a reduced rate or will donate their time to mentor a business.

James Brannen, who became an entrepreneur when he retired from a 25-year career in the banking business, said he is excited about the potential that exists in the Fox Valley.

“We’re trying to create a sustainable environment for businesses to grow and develop in the Fox Valley,” he said.

NIU offers residential global leadership, philanthropy camp

in Regional by

DEKALB—NIU is looking for dedicated and motivated students interested in having fun and learning about global leadership and philanthropy this summer. A brand-new opportunity this year, the Global Leadership and Philanthropy Camp will provide a quality college learning experience to a select group of students. Because of the camp’s very limited enrollment, parents and students should apply now before the June 1 “early bird” deadline.

The University Honors Program and the Division of International Programs have provided funding that will allow students to attend this camp for a fraction of the regular residential summer camp fee. Applications fees are $175.

“Today’s high school students are passionate and active in their schools and communities,” said Julie Ann Read, Global Leadership and Philanthropy Camp director. “The Global Leadership and Philanthropy Camp will give them the skills and experience to make a difference. Plus, they’ll have fun collaborating with other like-minded students while spending the week on NIU’s beautiful campus.”

In addition to learning from business and community leaders, campers will have a day of service during which they will visit Feed my Starving Children, the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Feed’em Soup.

The Global Leadership and Philanthropy Camp is sponsored by the University Honors Program, the Division of International Program, NGOLD: Center for NGO Leadership and Development, the Center for Southeast Asian Students, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences External Programming.

NIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences External Programming is offering 11 residential and day camps for students. Camp topics include film, speech, writing, journalism, science, and leadership.

Full application packets for all camps, including the Global Leadership and Philanthropy Camp, are available for download at www.niu.edu/clasep under the Summer Academic Camps link.

2012 Residential Camps:
Sci-Camp Engineering Amusement: Roller Coasters to Cotton Candy, June 17 – 22, for students entering grades 5-8 (Includes a day at Great America).
Creative Writing Camp, June 17 – 22, for students entering grades 9-12.
Film Camp, June 24 – 29, for students entering grades 9-12.
Speech Camp, June 24 – 29, for students entering grades 9-12.
Sci-Camp Environment and Sustainability, June 24 – 29, for students entering grades 9-12
Sci-Camp Exploring Science through Art, July 8 – 13, for students entering grades 7-9.
Sci-Camp Exploring Nature: Habitats and Environment, July 8 – 13, for students entering grades 7-9.
Sci-Camp STEM Career Investigations Camp, July 15 – 20, for students entering grades 9-12.
Global Leadership & Philanthropy Camp, July 15 – 20, for students entering grades 9-12.
Broadcast Journalism Camp, July 15 – 20, for students entering grades 9-12.

2012 Day Camp:
Creative Writing Day Camp, July 15 – 20, for students entering grades 6-8.

For more camp details please contact Mark Pietrowski, Associate Director, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences External Programming at 815-753-1456, pietrowski@niu.edu or visit www.niu.edu/clasep.

Illinois residents urged to help combat invasive species

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SPRINGFIELD—Invasive plant and animal species are threatening Illinois’ agricultural and natural lands and waterways, consequently posing a threat to the state’s economy. Governor Pat Quinn has issued a proclamation declaring May to be “Invasive Species Awareness Month” to encourage Illinois residents to learn about ways in which they can help combat the introduction and spread of invasive plants and animals in the state.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Natural Heritage reports that animals and plants not native to Illinois at the time of European settlement are considered exotic species. Many species of exotic plants are harmless and very useful in windbreaks, landscaping, and in preventing erosion. However, some exotic species do have the potential to invade natural communities and displace highly desirable native plants. Such plants are invasive species. Some invading plants have become so well established in many areas throughout Illinois that they may be thought of as native species.

“Employees of local, county, state and federal gencies and hundreds of volunteers throughout Illinois spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours every year in attempts to eradicate, manage or control invasive plants and animals on the ground and in our waterways. The Governor and conservation agencies and organizations are working to make all Illinoisans aware of the impacts of invasive species to Illinois’ diverse landscape—and the environmental and economic costs we face if we lose the battle to control them,” said IDNR Marc Miller.

Wildlife managers spend more time carefully manipulating the physical and chemical environment of plants than in direct management of game animals since plants are the major component of both the habitats and the health of animal populations dependent upon them. The invasion by exotic plant species can turn high-quality habitat into degraded and undesirable habitat for wildlife.

Management tools including biological controls, prescribed burning, mowing, spraying and physically removing the plants by hand are available, but can be costly.

Increasing public awareness of invasive species is an essential goal because prevention and early intervention are the most effective and cost efficient approaches to address the economic and ecological impacts of exotic invasive species.

For more information on Illinois invasive species awareness and management efforts, go online to the IDNR website at http://www.dnr.state.il.us/orc/invasive_species.htm.

Invasive species often invade and replace the native flora in a variety of ways and will sometimes out-compete the native species to the extent the native plants totally disappear from an area.

Garlic mustard and the exotic buckthorns block needed sunlight, making it impossible for many of the needed native species to survive and reproduce. Such degraded habitats can quickly become a monoculture of only garlic mustard or buckthorn, meaning no food or shelter for native fish and game. Chemical toxins inhibiting growth of all other plants nearby are produced by garlic mustard and tree of heaven; these toxins are released from their roots into the surrounding soil, thereby eliminating competition for space, water, nutrients, etc. from other plants.The eliminated native species, in some cases, are very important food plants for native game animals. Because of the extirpation of many of native plants, a number of wild areas that once supported healthy populations of deer, elk, and other wildlife are no longer prime habitat for the species in question.

Bush honeysuckles not only shade out most native plants, but they also form such thick stands of growth that hunters and anglers cannot walk through the area or see game from a blind or tree stand. Multiflora rose, with its strong thorns and tangled growth habit, forms thickets even deer and turkeys find inhospitable for protection. Such tangled growths of honeysuckle, multiflora rose and other similar invasive plants often destroy the attractiveness of what was once prime habitat for hunting, fishing, birding and mushrooming.

Chinese bittersweet and porcelain berry grow to the tops of the tallest trees in the forest, creating dense, smothering foliage – and the weight of the vines will eventually pull the trees down.

Many undesirable invasive species will compete more successfully than native flora for water, minerals, and other necessary nutrients, leading to very poor growth of the native plants. Replacement of the native flora with invasive species reduces the biodiversity of the area since invasion by only one species often results in the loss of several native species. This loss of biodiversity is of major concern to ecologists both locally and globally.

Exotic plants are introduced into new areas in a myriad of ways. The seeds of some plants pass through the digestive systems of many animals, including some birds, without being damaged. Some seeds are widely scattered by wind before germinating in habitat suitable for their growth and reproduction. Many of the smaller seeds, such as garlic mustard, are so small they are carried in the fur of raccoons, dogs, deer, horses and other animals, only to drop off as the animals move into new habitat. Others, such as leafy spurge and teasel seeds, collect on roadside mowers only to fall off farther down the road accounting for the linear distribution of some exotic plants along our roads and railroad rights-of-way.

Oftentimes, people trim plants growing in their yards and gardens without thinking about proper disposal of the still-living cuttings which are then dumped into an area where they take root. Cuttings, stem pieces, and rhizome fragments can be blown about or carried downhill in runoff after a heavy rain before finding a new place to grow. Kudzu, honeysuckles, periwinkle, English ivy and Chinese Yam are just a few examples of plants that have invaded new areas in this manner.

Many of today’s exotic invasive species, such as burning bush, wintercreeper, periwinkle, Callery pear, and the ornamental figs, were grown for years before they exploded into the natural landscape and became problems. Landscapers used more than 60 species of imported ornamental figs in Florida for several decades without any problems until the

For boaters and anglers, a reminder that invasive fish, snails, plants, disease, and viruses can be transmitted by dumping bait or even just the water from bait buckets, bilges, live wells, trailers, and equipment used on the water. Administrative rules in Illinois prohibit the removal of natural water from waterways of the state via bait bucket, livewell, bait well, bilges or any other method. Regulations also prohibit removal of any watercraft, boat, boat trailer or other equipment from waters of the state without emptying and draining any bait bucket, ivewell, baitwell, bilge any other compartment capable of holding natural waters. Regulations also prohibit using wild-trapped fishes as bait within Illinois, other than in the waters where they were legally taken. To protect Illinois waters, inspect your boats and trailers for visible contamination of plants, mud, or water in bilges.

By removing, cleaning, or draining the equipment, you help eliminate invasive species from establishing in Illinois waters.

An invasive species of significant concern in Illinois is Asian carp. Unfortunately all four species of Asian carp – bighead, silver, grass and black carp – have been found in Illinois waters, likely escaping aquaculture facilities of the southern U.S. Bighead and silver carp are the focus of state, local, and federal efforts to reduce the populations and to keep this invasion from expanding into other watersheds, such as the Great Lakes.

Check the website at http://asiancarp.us for updates of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee actions.

A Group Remembrance

in Elburn/Regional by

Photo (right): The annual Memorial Day parade took place on Monday. It started at Lions Park and ended at Blackberry cemetery with a service and then folks returned to Lions Park for food and social events. Participating were American Legion Post 630, Boy Scout Troop 7 and Cub Scout Pack 107. Photo by Mary Herra

On May 24, Boy Scout Troop 7 placed over 250 flags on the graves of veterans at Blackberry Cemetery in preparation for the Memorial Day Ceremony in Elburn on Monday. Grant Wilk (above, left to right), Matt Richtman, Ryan Nevenhoven, Billy Osborne, Mike Potvin, Nick Wielgos and Mike Aderman were on hand to help. Photo by Patti Wilk
Taps are played during the placement of the memorial wreath at Blackberry Cemetery in Elburn on Monday. Photo by Patti Wilk
There was also a Memorial Day ceremony at the Government Center in Geneva (below) which honored two area soldiers who died in Afghanistan. The empty chairs represent the soldiers. Photo by Hope K. Zegiel

Kuehnert accepts position with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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KANE COUNTY—Paul Kuehnert, executive director for of the Kane County Health Department, accepted a position with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy focused exclusively on health and health care, as Senior Program Officer and Team Director of their Public Health Team. His last day with Kane County will be Friday, June 1.

Paul began working for the Health Department in June 2006, and was appointed by the board to serve as executive director beginning in June 2007. Since then he has provided executive leadership to three county departments: Health, Animal Control and the Office of Emergency Management. From the spring of 2010 on, he has also had responsibility for the Office of Community Reinvestment.

“Paul’s passion for public service and improving the health and well-being of our residents is limitless,” County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay said. “Throughout his time with us he has focused on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of governmental services, increasing both governmental and community partnerships and demonstrating the impact of public policy and systems changes on the health and quality of life of Kane residents.”

During Paul’s tenure, the Health Department responded to a number of a public health emergencies, such as the TB outbreak among the homeless population (which recently was featured in the CDC’s weekly MMWR); the H1N1 pandemic; and hepatitis A, which resulted in more than 2,000 gamma globulin shots given to a restaurant’s patrons. Further, the department was able to secure $500,000 in grants from private foundations; and the department has integrated master planning with the Development and Transportation departments.

“Paul has made a tremendous contribution to Kane County residents and Kane County government. I am pleased that he will have the opportunity to share his wealth of community health knowledge and expertise on a national level through this opportunity with the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” McConnaughay said.

Effective June 2, Barbara Jeffers will become the interim executive director for the Health Department. Jeffers, assistant director for administration, has been with the Health Department for seven years. She is responsible for high-level administrative functions, including budgeting, human resources, labor relations and facilities management. Prior to county government, Jeffers was employed by the state of Illinois for 14 years—her last appointment being the director of training and development for the Department of Human Services. She has a Masters of Public Health degree from the Northern Illinois University and a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“Barb possesses a unique set of skills and attributes that will be an asset to the Health Department during this transitional period,” McConnaughay said.

Waubonsee Interpreting Program recognized

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Photo: As Waubonsee Community College Assistant Professor of Interpreter Training/Sign Language Cassie Moore (standing) works one-on-one with a student, other members of the class continue practicing their signing and interpreting skills. The interpreting lab at the Aurora Campus includes video cameras that capture students’ performances for later review and feedback. Courtesy Photo

SUGAR GROVE—When it was established in 1976, Waubonsee Community College’s Interpreter Training Program (ITP) was the first of its kind in the state. A pioneer in the field of interpreting for the deaf, the program produced hundreds of alumni, many of whom have gone on to great professional accomplishments.

For its continuing quality and contributions to the community, Waubonsee is proud to honor ITP as part of its “Placing Learning First: Faculty and Program Recognition.”

The ITP has its roots in the Waubonsee Hearing Impaired Program, which served deaf and hearing-impaired students from community college districts across the state. With so many interpreters and teachers needed for that program, it made sense for the college to train people for the profession. An Associate in Applied Science (AAS) Degree and Certificate of Achievement in the discipline were both approved by the Illinois Community College Board in 1976.

Thirty-six years later, the program has expanded to include a 72-semester-hour AAS degree, a 33-semester-hour Certificate of Achievement and a 24-semester-hour Sign Language Certificate of Achievement. Students in the degree program must complete two semesters worth of sign language courses before moving on to the interpreter training courses, and completion of the sign language certificate is required for entry into the interpreter training certificate program.

This rigor continues once students enter the program, with a cumulative 3.0 grade point average required to stay in the program. Plus, they must finish all interpreter training courses with a “C” or better within a three-year timeframe to complete a degree or certificate.

Over the years, Waubonsee has awarded 276 degrees in the field, along with 283 certificates. Many of these students have gone on to tremendous professional accomplishments; in fact, Waubonsee alumni have served as presidents of both the National and Illinois Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf.

As a member of the deaf community herself, Assistant Professor of Interpreter Training/Sign Language Katie Thomas often sees graduates in professional settings.

“I often get my former students as my interpreters, so I want to be able to understand the interpreted lecture/conversations well,” Thomas said. “Also, I have an obligation to the deaf community who will be using the same interpreters that I teach. Overall, I am proud of how Waubonsee teaches students professionalism, dignity and good public relations with deaf people outside the college.”

Waubonsee students get the chance to work with members of the deaf community in both controlled classroom and actual interpreting settings. Given the interpreting program’s strong history and reputation in the community, faculty are able to bring in deaf consumers to role play with students and offer honest feedback about their interpreting skills and performance. The capstone class of both the interpreting degree and certificate is ITP 290—”The Interpreter as Practitioner,” a practicum course that allows students to apply and refine their skills in a workplace environment and also provide volunteer interpreting services at community events.

In addition to the feedback they receive from deaf consumers and professional colleagues, Waubonsee students are also able to receive specific feedback from teachers and even themselves, thanks to the CommuniCoach system. In this system, which was developed by Waubonsee communications faculty, students are videotaped during their signing performances so that instructors can pinpoint exactly where and how they can improve.

While the interpreting program offers state-of-the-art instructional methods, a variety of networking opportunities and a great pay-off, it does require a certain amount of sacrifice on the part of the students. For example, the ITP courses must be completed as a full-time day program, so students must schedule accordingly. This is something that is not lost on the ITP instructors.

“I know how much our students sacrifice to be here, and (I) see how hard they work,” said Professor of Interpreter Training/Sign Language Dr. Lynn Clark. “It inspires me to give my all.”

Clark has been giving her all to Waubonsee’s ITP since she became a full-time instructor in 1980. She will retire at the end of the academic year with 32 years of teaching memories.

Clark holds a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in counseling from Michigan State University. She earned her doctorate in psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 1989. She holds national certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and is licensed at the general-master level by the State of Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission.

Also holding national certification from the RID and licensed at the advanced level by the State of Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission is Assistant Professor of Interpreter Training/Sign Language Cassie Moore. Moore also holds a national education K-12 certification from RID. She joined Waubonsee as a part-time interpreter in 1989, taught part-time from 1990 to 2008, and spent eight years as a part-time counselor at the college, as well, before being hired as a full-time instructor four years ago. Moore earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communicative disorders from Northern Illinois University.

Thomas also spent time as a part-time interpreter at the college before becoming an instructor in 1995. Holding a bachelor’s degree in special education from Northern Illinois University, Thomas has been working to develop interpreting standards for the Illinois court system. She also holds national certification from RID, is licensed at the master level by the State of Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission, and is a member of the American Sign Language Teachers Association.

Kane launches 2nd-chance program for drug offenders

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Kane County—Some low-level felony drug offenders in Kane County will have the opportunity to avoid a permanent conviction on their record, and in some cases prison, if they agree to treatment under a new program of the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The office next week will launch the Second Chance Felony Drug Program for certain offenders who face a Class 4 felony charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance—up to five grams—and/or a Class 4 felony charge of unlawful possession of cannabis—up to 100 grams.

The program, which involves drug testing and treatment, would reduce court volume and keep some low-level offenders out of the prison system. By receiving counseling and treatment instead of prison, offenders would have a better chance to become clean from drugs, reducing the likelihood that they re-offend or become perpetual offenders, repeatedly returning to court and prison at great expense to the public.

“Second Chance Felony Drug Program participants will be able to focus on treatment, accountability and recidivism prevention, as well as modify their behavior, while staying out of jail or prison,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said. “The program will allow our office to focus our limited resources where they can do the most good for offenders and for society. It also will allow the lawyers in our office to concentrate on more serious cases. Offenders who face these charges annually account for a large percentage of our case load.”

“This program will not solve the drug problem in Kane County. But it will allow us to reach certain low-level drug users and get them the help they need to live drug-free and more productive lives. I have spoken with Kane County police chiefs and members of the judiciary about this program, and they agree that it has many potential benefits. They are eager for it to get started,” McMahon said.

“Our office’s Second Chance program for misdemeanor drug offenses has been tremendously successful in helping to end drug use among its participants. We are confident that this program for low-level felony drug offenders will have similar results. And we believe that the benefits to our community will be immeasurable.”

Eligibility requirements
• No prior arrest or conviction for unlawful possession of a controlled substance or cannabis (with the exception of one prior successful completion of supervision for misdemeanor possession of cannabis, alcohol or drug paraphernalia)
• No prior participant in the statutory TASC (Treatment Alternative Specialty Court)
• Did not commit the offense while free on bond in another case
• Cannot be active gang member, registered sex offender, or on probation or parole

Program application process
• Eligible defendants must apply for entry
• Offer to apply would be extended and application must be filed within 90 days of the first court date
• Application is screened by assistant state’s attorney and interview is conducted by Second Chance case manager
• Applications must be approved by the arresting agency and by the State’s Attorney
• If approved, applicant must enter into formal agreement with the office and make a videotaped statement as to the facts of the case

How the program works
• Fully funded by participants—$500 drug fine, $335 in court costs, $50 application fee, $25 drug test administration fee and $1,225 in program fees for total of $2,135. This could be adjusted or waived for indigent defendants.
• Participation lasts 12 months
• Participants must complete six hours of a drug education program at own expense
• Participants must submit to random drug testing (no fewer than four tests in 12 months) at own expense
• Participants who abide by all program terms will have case dismissed and may petition court to have charge expunged if they meet eligibility requirements
• Participants who do not successfully complete program terms or commit new offense will be negatively terminated and case will be returned to court for criminal prosecution

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