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Ream’s through May 2015
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Regional - page 20

Kane County Sheriff offers scholarship

in Kaneland/Regional by

Kane County—Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez will award one scholarship to a Kane County resident in the amount of $500.

The scholarship is part of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association program where Illinois residents are awards college scholarships for the 2012-13 academic years. The scholarships must be applied to tuition, books or fees only, and students must be enrolled at a full-time certified institution of higher learning within Illinois.

Applications are available at the front desk of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office or on the internet at www.ilsheriff.org. The applicant must complete the application and answer the essay question. All applications must be turned in by March 12, 2012. There will be no restriction by reason of race, age, creed, color, sex or natural origin.

For more information please contact Dawn Barsanti at (630) 208-2003.

Engineering Enterprises Inc. wins ACEC-IL Award

in Regional/Sugar Grove by

Normal, ILL.—Fifty-one Illinois firms were recognized for excellence in engineering before an audience of over 300 engineers, clients and government officials at an Awards Luncheon held Feb. 3 at The Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal, Ill.

The firms were recognized for award-winning engineering projects in the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois’ 41st Annual Engineering Excellence Awards Competition. The competition recognizes outstanding projects designed by private practice engineering firms from the State of Illinois.

Engineering Enterprises, Inc. won a Merit Award for the project: “Virgil L. Gilman Trail Pedestrian Bridge,” which was completed for the Fox Valley Park District. The project goal was to eliminate the dangerous at-grade crossing of the Virgil L. Gilman Trail at Galena Boulevard in the City of Aurora. EEI worked closely with the district, permitting agencies and various sub-consultants to develop the final construction documents.

The final product was a 162-foot-long prefabricated weathering steel bridge erected on decorative abutments, a series of terraced retaining walls, extensive landscaping and other decorative site elements, including two large decorative sign panels on either side of the bridge. Merit Awards are given for projects worthy of recognition of the engineer and the owner/client for achieving engineering excellence.

Engineering Enterprises, Inc., founded in 1974, is a consulting engineering firm that provides planning, design and construction services for water, wastewater, transportation, stormwater and GIS to municipalities, counties and state agencies throughout Northern Illinois. For additional information, visit www.eeiweb.com.

Accessing deceased family member medical info now easier

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

CHICAGO—Family members who have lost a loved one will now have easier access to the deceased’s medical records under a new Illinois law. Previously, access to medical records was mostly limited to an estate administrator or executor, which many individuals often fail to designate. Under these situations, family members faced difficulty gaining access to medical records.

Through the new law, a spouse can access medical records when an executor or estate administrator has not been designated. If there isn’t a surviving spouse, parents, an adult child or adult siblings can request records. To help patients and physicians, the Illinois State Medical Society has prepared a sample legal form to make available to family members seeking a deceased’s medical records.

“We supported this law and developed a simple resource for doctors to use because we understand the hassle grieving families face when trying to obtain medical records,” said Wayne V. Polek, M.D., ISMS president. “Sometimes when a new law comes about, there is confusion over who it applies to and what is required. Given the sensitivity surrounding a loved one’s death, we want to make sure physicians are aware of the legal change, who can access medical information and provide a tool to help families requesting information.”

The release of the ISMS form comes after the late November implementation of the new medical records law (PA 97-0623). Under the law, the deceased individual’s prior written objection to the release of medical information to family will remain in force after death.

ISMS physician members can access a sample medical records release form at www.isms.org.

Geneva streets superintendent surrenders to police amidst felony charges

in Elburn/Regional by

by Keith Beebe
GENEVA—Geneva Streets Superintendent Steve LeMaire, an Elburn resident, surrendered to Geneva police on Feb. 4, after a warrant was issued for his arrest on felony charges that he used a city of Geneva credit card to make over $24,000 in unauthorized purchases.

A Grand Jury on Feb. 3 indicted LeMaire on charges of theft, a Class 1 felony that carries a possibility of four to 15 years in prison; online theft by deception, a Class 2 felony that carries a possibility of three to seven years in prison; and official misconduct, a Class 3 felony that carries a possibility of two to five years in prison.

According to a Geneva Police Department press release, the misuse of funds was first discovered on Jan. 11, when Geneva’s director of Public Works (Dan Dinges) noticed suspicious purchases made by LeMaire. Further examination revealed that LeMaire had been making unauthorized purchases as far back as 2004.

The press release states LeMaire was suspended from work on Jan. 12, pending an investigation by the Geneva Police Department “to determine the validity of the suspicions, the extent of the misuse and whether or not criminal behavior had occurred.”

Following the police department’s investigation, the case was presented to the Kane County State’s Attorney Office for review.

Upon his arrest, LeMaire was processed and then released on $2,500 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, March 7.

Dinges said LeMaire is no longer employed by the city of Geneva.

Geneva Police Chief Steve Mexin said no additional information will be provided beyond the press release

Tax credits, breaks available for Illinois guardsmen, employers

in Regional by

SPRINGFIELD—As service members start to receive their W2’s in the mail, now is the time to prepare to file your 2011 tax returns and learn what opportunities are available for military members.

“There are many programs at the state and federal levels providing tax credits for members of our military in recognition of their sacrifices for the nation,” said Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, deputy of human resources for the Illinois Army National Guard. “It is important that our troops are aware of these benefits and not leave any money on the table when those dollars can be helpful to our families and employers.”

If a service member is eligible under the Military OneSource program, he/she can complete, save and file their 2011 federal taxes and up to three state tax returns online for free with the H&R Block At Home® tool. To access this free service, use the Military OneSource H&R Block At Home® link. The first step is to log in to Military OneSource (new users will need to create a Military OneSource account). From there, users will be directed to a page with additional information on tax preparation, including a link to the Military OneSource H&R Block At Home® service.

In addition to filing taxes for free, service members can get support from trained tax consultants through Military OneSource. Service members and families can call 1-800-342-9647 and ask to speak with a Military OneSource tax consultant seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Federal tax benefits for hiring many veterans are available to business owners in any state. The federal benefits are available under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) Program. There is up to a $2,400 credit if there is:

• a veteran who is a member of a family that has received food stamps for at least three consecutive months in the 15 months prior to the date of hire.

• a person with disability who is participating in a vocational rehabilitation program through U.S. Veteran’s Administration.

There is also a WOTC credit of up to $4,800 for veterans entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability who:

• were hired within one year of having been discharged, or released from activity duty

• has been unemployed for any six of the last 12 months

Employers hiring multiple WOTC qualified employees can make a significant dent in their federal income taxes. These benefits are explained and claimed on IRS Form 5884.

Currently, 26 states offer partial or total exclusions, from state-level taxes for combat and/or other military compensation paid to service members. There are five states offering outright tax exemption for military pay, including Illinois.

Combat pay received by members of the military serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and other combat zone localities is usually exempt from tax. But under a special rule, service members can choose to count all of this income when he/she figures the Earned Income Tax Credit. In many cases, making this choice will enable the service member to claim the credit, or if you are already eligible, claim a larger credit.

NPHIC honored for excellence in public health communication

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ILLINOIS—The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) announced that the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium has been recognized in a national competition honoring excellence in public health communication.

The Consortium won a bronze award in the category Websites and New Media for the development of IllinoisPandemicFlu.org, a robust repository of information on public health crisis communications, working with the media and public during a flu pandemic, incorporating social media into communication plans and helping at-risk populations during a health emergency.

“We are extremely proud that the premier nationwide voice of public health communication has recognized our work,” said Maureen McHugh, consortium president and DuPage County Health Department executive director. “After all, public health is about preventing illness and injury, and that means educating people to help them understand and reduce their individual health risks.”

The site was originally created for public information officers, medical professionals and others who regularly communicate with the public during a public health emergency such as pandemic flu. However, the resource provides valuable health information for the public at-large, including important information about seasonal flu and flu prevention, as well as hundreds of resources from trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization.

Illinois Pandemic Flu was developed through a grant provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Illinois Pandemic Flu can be accessed at www.illinoispandemicflu.org or ilpanflu.org.

“As a recipient of a NPHIC award, your organization has been designated by an independent panel of judges as among the year’s best in public health communication,” stated NPHIC President William Gerrish. “Congratulations on helping NPHIC pursue our mission to ‘make public health public.’”

IEMA sampling results show no measurable radiation increases near Byron Nuclear Power Plant

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SPRINGFIELD—Laboratory analysis of environmental sampling conducted by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) earlier this week showed no measurable increases of radiation in the environment as a result of a steam release from the Byron Nuclear Power Plant. The release occurred during an unusual event incident at the plant on Monday, following a loss of off-site power.

“Our laboratory results confirm that the steam release at the Byron Nuclear Power Plant on Monday presented no health hazard for people who live and work in the area,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.

An IEMA environmental monitoring team on Tuesday collected water and vegetation samples that were analyzed for tritium in the agency’s radiochemistry laboratory in Springfield. The testing included water samples from four locations where routine samples were taken on Jan. 11. Results from the samples collected this week were statistically the same for three of the samples.

A fourth sample showed a lower level of tritium in the Jan. 31 sample than the Jan. 11 sample, which had an activity concentration of 519 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Monken said that level isn’t cause for concern as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) maximum contaminant level for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 pCi/L. Therefore, the measured activity concentration (519 pCi/L) is almost 39 times less than the USEPA maximum contaminant level for tritium in drinking water.

In addition, vegetation samples were collected from four areas. IEMA identified Potassium-40, a naturally occurring radionuclide, in the samples. Potassium-40 levels detected ranged from 3.26 picocuries per gram (pCi/g) to 6.37 pCi/g. Because it is naturally occurring, Potassium-40 can be found in many other items, including bananas. Bananas average approximately 3.5 pCi/g of Potassium-40.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of the element hydrogen that is naturally occurring. It is also produced during the operation of nuclear power plants.

Results from the Jan. 31 sampling near the Byron Nuclear Power Plant and a fact sheet about tritium are available on the IEMA website at www.iema.illinois.gov.

Fleck departs NIU OC position after one day

in Football/Kaneland/Regional by

by Mike Slodki
DEKALB—Former Kaneland High athletic standout P.J. Fleck’s return to the pastures of Northern Illinois University football was the very definition of short-lived.

After the introduction of Fleck on Thursday as the Huskies’ new offensive coordinator, the Sugar Grove native resigned the position, according to a statement released by NIU football and head coach Dave Doeren on Friday.

“P.J. called today and said he does not feel he’s ready to be an offensive coordinator. It’s unfortunate, but what’s best for our program is to move in a different direction and that’s what I’m going to do,” Doeren said.

According to the release, Doeren said he has already spoken to several candidates and is confident he will have a replacement in place soon for Fleck.

“Everything happens for a reason and the result of this will make NIU Football even better,” Doeren said.

Fleck was originally hired as a replacement for former OC Matt Canada, who left to take the same job for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Fleck joined Rutgers in 2010 after coaching wide recievers at NIU from 2007-2009 under coaches Joe Novak and Jerry Kill.

Rutgers did not disclose when Fleck’s last day for the football program took place.

Fleck’s head coach on the Rutgers University staff, Greg Schiano, was introduced as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new head coach on Jan. 27.

Fleck starred for a 10-win Huskies team in 2003, and played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2004.

His “Live Your Dream” football camp took place at KHS.

P.J. Fleck also served as graduate assistant for an Ohio State squad that played in the 2007 BCS Championship game

Photos of Illinois Vietnam War heroes still needed

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Washington, D.C.—The people of the state of Illinois suffered among the greatest number of losses in the Vietnam War, sacrificing 2,938 service-men and women in combat. The Vietnam Memorial Fund’s (VVMF) mission to honor these heroes continues with the National Call for Photos, a movement to collect photos of the more than 58,000 service-members inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) in Washington, D.C. When collected, all photos will be displayed for generations to come at The Education Center at The Wall, a place on the National Mall where military heroes’ stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

With the support of schools, volunteers, friends, and family from around the country, VVMF has collected more than 25,000 pictures to date, but only 894 from the state of Illinois.

The task is far from complete. Generous support from volunteers, fellow service-members, family and friends is still needed in order to gather the remaining 2,044 photos necessary to honor our heroes from Illinois for display at The Education Center.

With a groundbreaking planned for November 2012, The Education Center at The Wall is a multi-million dollar, state-of- the-art visitor’s center and learning facility to be built on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans and the Lincoln Memorials. Visitors will better understand the profound impact the Vietnam War had their friends and family members, their home towns, and the Nation. The Education Center will feature the faces and stories of the 58,272 men and women on “The Wall,” honoring those who fell in Vietnam, those who fought and returned, as well as the friends and families of all who served. For more information, visit www.buildthecenter.org.

“Illinois suffered some of the highest casualty rates of any state in the Vietnam War,” said Jan C. Scruggs, Founder and President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). “The Education Center at The Wall will allow Americans to put faces with the names of brave men and women who lost their lives, fostering their appreciation and respect for generations to come.”

VVMF urges the citizens of Illinois to assist the National Call for Photos by submitting photographs of fallen service-members and generously supporting the Education Center, ensuring that the sacrifices of our military heroes are never forgotten.

All about AYP

in Featured/Kaneland/Regional by

In part 1 of an ongoing series relating to the 10-year-old No Child Left Behind Act, reporter Keith Beebe
takes a closer look at the primary measurement tool, Adequate Yearly Progress

Photo: Students concentrate on their computer work in the Learning Resource Center at Blackberry Creek Elementary School in Elburn. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), instituted in 2003 as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, is a measurement tool meant to ensure that every state school improve its standardized test scores in reading and mathematics each year through 2014.

Currently, only two of the six schools in the Kaneland District—Blackberry Creek and John Shields Elementary—meet AYP standards, and it could be just a matter of time before those schools also fall below an AYP requirement that will boast a meets-and-exceeds requirement of 100 percent two years from now.

AYP, based on Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) for grades 3-8 and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) for grade 11, mandates that a specific percentage of students at those grade levels in every state school meet or exceed the reading and mathematics requirement in place for the year. According to the Illinois Interactive Report Card website, the AYP target was set at 40 percent for 2003 and 2004, 47.5 percent for 2005 and 2006, 55 percent for 2007, 62.5 percent for 2008, 70 percent for 2009, 77.5 percent for 2010 and 88.5 percent for 2011. The AYP target number for 2012 and 2013 is 92.5 percent.

Every school must have a student participation rate of 95 percent to validate its meets-and-exceeds percentage for the year. If a school does not meet the minimum participation rate, its numbers can still be considered valid if the school’s participation rate the current year and previous year (or two previous years) averages out to at least 95 percent.

Attendance and graduation rate requirements, which are also part of AYP, have gradually increased since 2003. Attendance and graduation requirements in 2012 are set at 91 percent and 84 percent, respectively.

AYP requires 77.5 percent of every subgroup to meet and exceed reading and mathematics requirements. Subgroups are defined by racial demographics, limited English proficiency (LEP), special needs students involved in individualized educational program (IEP), and low income.

“The reality is that the requirements have risen to a point that there are very few school districts that are able to meet them, especially when you look at all buildings and all the subgroups that are required for reporting,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “As with any assessment that you use, if the target for performance is not realistic, then the data that you get is probably not going to be very informative.”

Kaneland High School hasn’t met the AYP requirement since 2006 (KHS achieved a rate of 62 percent that year), but the state PSAE average hasn’t exceeded 56 percent since the implementation of AYP nine years ago.

As a result of scoring below the AYP requirement four consecutive years, Kaneland High School is on Academic Watch Status and eligible for state sanctions.

Kaneland Harter Middle School, despite notching a meets-and-exceeds rate of 91 percent in 2011, is also currently below AYP requirements.

Erika Schlichter, Kaneland director of educational services 6-12, said her concern with AYP isn’t that it has set the academic bar extremely high, but that the requirement is based on only one score or data point and does not paint a true picture.

“The other concern I have with AYP is that it does not allow us to measure growth of student cohorts or the progress made by specific groups of students, but instead judges based on comparisons of this year’s class to last year’s class, so student growth is not factored in,” she said. “In addition, the way the current AYP standards are applied, they are very punitive to schools, which have made it difficult for many schools to have the flexibility to utilize different improvement measures.”

In 2011, Blackberry Creek and John Shields elementary schools achieved a meets-and-exceeds testing rate of 91 percent and 89 percent, respectively. In fact, both schools have scored at least 89 percent every year since 2006. Those consistent high scores, however, won’t be good enough to satisfy an increased AYP requirement of 92.5 percent in 2012. Nevertheless, the scores of Blackberry Creek and John Shields are far superior to the state average, which resided at 82 percent last year.

John Stewart and McDole elementary schools in 2011 had a meets-and-exceeds rate of 87 percent and 86 percent, respectively. Both schools tallied a rate of 90 percent in 2010.

“I am never against raising the bar and expectations in education; I am opposed to reporting and looking at only one score to check progress,” said Dr. Sarah Mumm, director of educational services K-5. “We have over 20 data points that tell the whole story, not just this one piece of data.”

Schuler said he was proud of the results at each of the district’s elementary schools.

“Each of (our) principals have carefully looked at the results with their school improvement teams to look for areas where we can improve,” he said. “As schools identify individual skill areas that can be improved, they reflect on those areas in our curriculum and make adjustments to help our students. The results this year are not inconsistent with the results of previous years.”

According to Schuler, some relief from AYP requirements could be in store for the state of Illinois.

“I am not sure that when the (No Child Left Behind) law was passed that many people believed it would make it to 2014 without some type of revision. It now appears that is more likely as we get closer to that date and the number of school districts not making yearly progress is increasing,” he said. “There is some discussion now at the national level about a waiver process that will allow states to get some relief from the requirements, but I am not sure what that will look like for Illinois.”

Ripple effect

in Featured/Regional/Sugar Grove by

Photo: Gayle Deja-Schultz meets with the sophomore class to answer questions about the bill writing process.
Courtesy Photo

One person can make a difference
by Lynn Meredith
Sugar Grove—In the fall of 2010, 17 students in NIU Professor Jack King’s Sociology 392: Organizing for Social Change class sat brain-storming ideas for a class project. The assignment was to find a social cause and recommend ways to make improvements. Gayle Deja-Schultz from Sugar Grove, a returning adult student in that class, made that project into more than a classroom exercise. She turned the project into House Bill 180, a new law that will affect countless people in Illinois, and she is inspiring students at other schools to do the same.

She and a fellow student, both with husbands who were veterans, heard that Westboro Baptist Church was going to protest at the funeral of a fallen soldier returning home to Plainfield, Ill. from Afghanistan. They hit on the idea to make changes to the existing legislation that required protestors to keep a 200-foot distance for a half an hour before and after a funeral.

Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas had made national headlines and prompted states, including Illinois, to create laws to curtail protests at funerals. The group traveled across the country to protest about social issues unrelated to the person being laid to rest.

“They spend nearly $1 million a year; they are really well-funded,” Deja-Schultz said. “They are not out there protesting that soldier. They are strictly doing it for shock value.”

The class ended shortly after the project was due, but Deja-Schultz decided to keep the idea in motion. She talked with Representative Kay Hatcher, for whom she had interned, about making the bill more strict than the one passed in 2006.

She researched Illinois state law, as well as laws in other states. She found that Illinois had the lowest distance requirement to stay back from a funeral. She wrote the bill and asked Hatcher to take it to Springfield.

“I was delighted to take their good idea to the legislature,” Hatcher said. “We vetted it from several angles. If you can craft a bill that appeals to someone from (urban areas, rural areas, downstate, Chicago), it has to be a good piece of legislation.”

The new law was filed in January 2011, and became House Bill 180. It required protestors to stay back 1,000 feet from the funeral for one hour before and after the services.

Two weeks after the filing, an event happened that gave the bill the push it needed: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot and the Westboro church was planning to protest at the funeral of the 7-year-old girl who was also shot that day. When Arizona, in one day, wrote a law to stop the protest, Illinois was not far behind.

Before going to the House, Bill 180 had to go through committee. Deja-Schultz spoke to the legislative committee in February 2011. It passed that day. Then the bill unanimously passed the House.

“I believe everybody has the right to mourn in peace without protesters out there. Even if it was a criminal that was being buried, it’s not the family’s fault, and in particular for our military and a 7-year old girl,” she told the Rules Committee.

With 30 state representatives, 15 senators, the Illinois Association of Funeral Directors, and the Illinois Association of Police behind it, the law went on to the Senate. It encountered opposition from cemetery unions who said it would impede their right to strike at their workplace. The parties worked out a compromise that added 100 feet further distance, or 300 feet back from the funeral for an hour before and after services. That was a long way from the 1,000 feet the bill originally called for.

Bill 180 was signed into law Aug. 14, 2011, but its ripple effect continues. The Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA), partially inspired by the work of Deja-Schultz, launched the EnACT program for its sophomore class where students create and potentially pass a bill on a topic of their choice.

Deja-Schultz, along with Hatcher and King, were asked to speak to 250 IMSA sophomores last week. They led round-table discussions about the bill-writing process and gave students feedback on ideas for new laws.

“When all their ideas are gelled into something, I will analyze their ideas,” Hatcher said. “I want them to learn that any single person in this state can change this state, and as young people to understand the ripple effect of any piece of legislation. I have real respect for what IMSA’s doing with this project. They are creating leaders of tomorrow.”

Deja-Schultz said that it has been fun to watch her idea grow and evolve and to have interactions with senators and others in the legislature. She is proud of her achievement.

“I actually wrote a law that impacts every person in the state of Illinois,” she said.

IEMA environmental personnel collect samples near Byron nuclear power plant

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

Agency continues to monitor plant conditions through remote monitoring system
SPRINGFIELD—Environmental monitoring personnel from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) are collecting samples around the Byron Nuclear Power Plant today to confirm that a steam release Jan. 30 (deemed an unusual event by the agency) poses no hazard to the public. While IEMA officials do not expect to find hazardous levels of radioactive tritium, the sampling will allow the agency to verify if tritium is present in the environment and, if present, at what levels.

“While we don’t expect to find harmful levels of tritium from the steam release at Byron, I believe it’s prudent to collect these samples and verify what levels are present,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “We have no reason to believe that harmful levels were released, but we have a duty to the public to ensure what, if any, tritium from the steam release is in the environment around the plant.”

IEMA personnel are collecting water and vegetation samples. Some of the samples will be in the same locations as routine sampling conducted by IEMA within the past month. The samples will be taken to the agency’s laboratory in Springfield for analysis. Results should be available within a few days.

Monken said reactor and environmental analysts at IEMA have been closely monitoring data on conditions at the plant since the Byron Unit 2 reactor tripped Monday morning due to a loss of off-site power. The data is received through the agency’s state-of-the-art remote monitoring system, which continuously relays information about conditions within the reactor as well as analyzes releases through the plant’s stacks and from detectors located in a two-mile radius around the plant.

The agency’s Resident Inspector for the Byron plant has been providing IEMA analysts with additional information about plant conditions and utility actions and is monitoring the utility’s recovery activities.

School bus crash on Granart Road in Big Rock Township

in Regional by

HINCKLEY-BIG ROCK—On Jan. 27 at approximately 8:10 a.m., Kane County Sheriff’s Deputies, Sugar Grove Police, Big Rock Fire Department and Sugar Grove Fire Department responded to a report of a school bus crash on Granart Road, between Rhodes and Dugan roads in unincorporated Big Rock Township.

The initial investigation shows that a 2006 International School Bus was traveling east on Granart Road near the intersection of Camp Dean Road, when for an unknown reason, the bus left the roadway on the south side of Granart Road. When the bus went off the road, it went into a small ditch and then rolled onto its side. The speed limit on the stretch of roadway where the crash occurred is 55 mph.

The bus driver and three students were transported to Mercy Centre Hospital in Aurora by ambulance. All of their injuries were minor. Six other students and an adult monitor, who was also on the bus, were transported by another school bus to Delnor Hospital in Geneva. None of the injuries will require an overnight stay in the hospital, and several of the kids went to school after leaving the hospital.

There were a total of 11 people on the bus. Six of the students were special-needs students. The bus was on its way to Krejci Academy in Naperville. The bus is owned by Illinois Central School Bus Company. Most of the students were from the Sandwich area. All of the students were seat belted at the time of the crash.

The crash remains under investigation and no citations have been issued. At this time the Sheriff’s Office is not releasing the identities of the parties involved in the crash.

Illinois DNR/ USFWS clarify status of gray wolves in Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remind the public that the service’s recent action removing federal Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves in portions of the Midwest has changed the status of wolves in Illinois north of Interstate 80.

While wolves dispersing from northern states into Illinois are rare, any gray wolves in Illinois found north of I-80 are listed as threatened under state law, while those south of the interstate remain federally endangered. The change became effective Jan. 27.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed ESA protection for the gray wolf in portions of the western Great Lakes because wolves in the core recovery states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin have exceeded recovery goals and no longer need the protection of the act to survive. In areas where wolves were delisted, which includes parts of adjoining states like Northern Illinois, where wolves may possibly disperse, states and tribes are now responsible for wolf management. The service will oversee wolf population monitoring efforts for at least five years to ensure wolves continue to thrive.

Despite the Federal Status change of wolves within the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (including all counties north of I-80 in Illinois), wolves remain a protected species throughout the entire state of Illinois.

Gray wolves continue to be listed as state-threatened throughout Illinois (by law, specimens listed as state-threatened receive the full protection of the State of Illinois’ Endangered Species Protection Act), which means it is unlawful for hunters or others to take or possess wolves anywhere in the state. In addition, wolves shall remain protected as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act in Illinois south of I-80 (outside of the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment) for the foreseeable future. See www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf for further details on the status of gray wolves in Illinois and other areas in the Midwest.

In the past 10 years, Illinois hunters and others have encountered wolves in the state on various occasions, including a wolf struck by a car in McHenry County near Chain O’Lakes State Park in 2005. The potential for range expansion will continue as long as habitat and food sources are available.

While it is unlikely that Illinois citizens will encounter a wolf in the wild, they are encouraged to contact the Illinois DNR at (217) 782-6302 if they suspect they have seen one.

Wolves resemble coyotes but are taller, heavier, and have other characteristics that set
them apart. Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes were once nearly gone, with wolves surviving only in Minnesota. Under ESA protection and recovery programs, gray wolves have expanded into Michigan and Wisconsin, and the region’s population has rebounded. There are an estimated 2,921 wolves in Minnesota, 782 in Wisconsin, and 687 in Michigan. Wolves occasionally disperse into adjoining states but no packs have been established in the Midwest outside the core recovery states.

During the time wolves in the western Great Lakes were delisted (from March 12, 2007, to Sept. 29, 2008, and from May 4, to July 1, 2009) the wolf population remained stable under state management; illegal killing of wolves dropped in Wisconsin and remained the same in Michigan.

For more information on gray wolves in the Midwest, go to www.fws.gov/midwest/ wolf. For information on Illinois’ state and threatened wildlife, go to http://dnr.state.il.us/espb.

Urgent need for O Negative blood donors

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

AURORA—Heartland Blood Centers, a nonprofit medical organization servicing 38 area hospitals, is struggling to meet the needs of patients with O Negative blood type in area hospitals.

Cancelled blood drives, low donor appointments, and donors reporting illnesses, which prevent them from donating blood, has resulted in declined O Negative blood inventories. Blood donors are needed now to help offset this shortage.

“We are appealing to all O Negative blood donors to visit one of our centers or community blood drives immediately so that others may get the treatment they need. If you have never given blood, or have not done so in the past few months, please consider giving blood now for those in your community who need your help,” said Ann McKanna, vice president of marketing and new business development. “We also need blood donors of all blood types to continue to donate to maintain adequate levels of all blood types.”

Patients in Heartland’s member hospitals rely solely on volunteer blood donors for life-saving transfusions. Every day, nearly 600 pints of blood are transfused to patients in the 12 counties supplied by Heartland Blood Centers.

Blood donors can schedule a time to give by calling 1-800-7 TO GIVE. Donors can also visit www.heartlandbc.org for listings of blood drives in the community and listings of 17 center locations.

To be a blood donor, individuals must be at least 17 years old or 16 with written parental permission; weigh at least 110 pounds; be symptom free of cold, flu and allergies; and be in general good health. Donors who have traveled outside the United States within the past 12 months should contact Heartland to determine eligibility.

Kane County State’s Attorney Office, Police plan Super Bowl Sunday ‘No Refusal’ operation

in Regional by

KANE COUNTY—Super Bowl Sunday is a celebration of football; a popular day to gather and party with family and friends.

It also is a day that involves an increase in alcohol-related driving fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This Super Bowl Sunday, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office will collaborate with Kane County police departments as part of an ongoing effort to make the county’s roads the safest in Illinois. The eighth “No Refusal” operation conducted in Kane County will be the first on Super Bowl Sunday.

The No Refusal operation, which will involve enhanced DUI patrols, will begin the evening of Feb. 5. The operation will be conducted in multiple Kane County jurisdictions.

“People should be able to have fun with friends and family without having to worry about being harmed by a drunken driver on the way home,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said. “Historically, people tend to ramp up the partying on Super Bowl Sunday, often with deadly consequences. If people plan ahead and make responsible decisions, we can avoid unnecessary tragedies.”

According to 2008 data from NHTSA, the more than 11,000 alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities accounted for 32 percent of that year’s total motor vehicle fatalities nationally. But on Super Bowl Sunday, 49 percent of all traffic fatalities national involved a driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

Further, according to the consumer research group, The Nielsen Company, Super Bowl Sunday ranks eighth among the highest beer-selling occasions annually. Nielsen data shows that nearly 52 million cases of beer are sold the week prior to the big game and on Super Bowl Sunday.

“We want people to have fun, to watch the Super Bowl, to rate the commercials, and to enjoy the camaraderie of family and friends,” McMahon said. “But when the game is over, safety and responsibility are in order. Impaired driving is not an option. It is our belief that this enhanced enforcement will prompt partiers to plan for a safe ride home, and will continue to keep Kane County’s roads safe.”

“This office has a responsibility to prosecute DUI offenders, and to educate the public not to drive when they drink. With that in mind, I am only announcing when we will have the No-Refusal operation. I will not say which municipalities will participate.”

The initiative is designed to thwart suspected drunken drivers who refuse to submit to a breath test after a DUI arrest. Through the No Refusal strategy, police officers are able to expedite the DUI booking process. With guidance from an assistant state’s attorney, police officers can quickly obtain a search warrant to compel a DUI suspect to submit to a lawfully requested blood or breath test as required by Illinois’ Implied Consent statute.

Illinois courts have consistently held that there is no right to refuse chemical testing when probable cause exists. Anyone who fails to submit to chemical testing after a search warrant has been obtained could face additional sanctions.

“Our goal is to make Kane County’s roads safer. We believe in past No-Refusal operations, publicity prior to the event has helped to reduce the number of drunken drivers on the road, and we expect that trend to continue,” McMahon said.

Support for those who have lost loved ones

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

GENEVA—Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice, a nonprofit organization offering support for those with life-threatening illnesses and the bereaved, is offering a series of programs in February for those who have experienced the death of a family member or other loved one. All are held at FVVH offices, 200 Whitfield Dr., Geneva. The programs are open to everyone in the community and are offered free of charge, but registration is required at (630) 232-2233 or info@fvvh.org.

“Our Grief Journey,” a program for adults who have experienced the death of a parent, any age child, sibling, friend or loved one, covers topics such as understanding the grief process, coping with grief, spirituality, and embracing change and growth. The group meets Thursdays, Feb. 2 to March 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

“Pathways” addresses the issues faced by those who are grieving the death of a spouse or life partner. Emotional support is offered, as well as assistance with accepting the death and dealing with grief. There are two sessions offered: the evening session will meet on Mondays, Feb. 13 to March 26, from 7 to 8: 30 p.m.; the daytime session meets Wednesdays, Feb. 15 to March 28, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

“Light Finders,” a support group for survivors of suicide loss, will begin Feb. 23. This group provides a safe environment to talk openly, and is a place to share experiences with others who understand this loss. Light Finders meets Thursdays for six weeks, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

“Next Step,” a drop-in support group for those who have lost a spouse or significant other, will meet on Feb. 9, and the second Thursday of each month. Participants will develop skills that will assist them in adapting to the life changes they are experiencing. February’s topic is “Creating a Home Maintenance Schedule”; see www.fvvh.org for all 2012 topics. Meets at 6:30 p.m.

For men who’ve experienced the loss of loved one, “M.A.L.E.S.” (Men After Loss Expressing Themselves Safely), will meet Feb. 11 and the second Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. M.A.L.E.S. provides an opportunity for men to freely express their thoughts and feelings with other men. Coffee and donuts provided.

In addition to adult and children’s grief support groups, Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice offers support for those with life-threatening illnesses, medical equipment loans, community education on end-of-life care and grief, and a community-lending library. All services are provided free of charge, and Spanish interpretation is available for all programs. The agency supports all of Kane and Kendall counties, and parts of DuPage, Cook and McHenry counties.

Hansen-Furnas Foundation scholarships deadline approaches

in Kaneland/Regional by

Batavia—The Hansen-Furnas Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit, charitable organization, announces the scholarship applications for the 2012-13 school year are now available. The application deadline for college and university undergraduate scholarships is March 1 of each year. Prospective students living within a 12-mile radius of Batavia are eligible to apply.

Criteria for granting scholarship awards are based primarily on financial need and academic scholarship. Character references, the quality of the applicant’s letter of intent, and work experience are also considered to ensure successful selections. The general undergraduate scholarships offer payment toward tuition and fees for students pursuing studies at any accredited college or university. The William Carlyle Furnas Scholarship, Leto M. Furnas Scholarship, Robert Buckner Scholarship and Doris L. Nary Nursing Scholarship are granted to one individual each year. All applications must be United States citizens and students must re-apply for a scholarship each year.

Hansen-Furnas Foundation Inc.
General Undergraduate Scholarships

These scholarships are awarded to individuals planning to enroll, or enrolled, as undergraduate students. These awards offer a maximum of $3,000 per year.

William Carlyle Furnas
Undergraduate Scholarship

This full-tuition scholarship is awarded to a student planning to enroll, or enrolled at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Leto M. Furnas Graduate
Scholarship for Women

This scholarship is awarded to a woman planning to enroll, or currently enrolled in, a post-graduate degree. This tuition award is a maximum of $5,000 per grant.

Doris L. Nary RN to BSN
Completion Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to an RN attending college to complete a BSN. Applicants must also be currently employed at Delnor, Mercy or Copley hospitals. The amount of this award is $5,000 per grant.

William Carlyle Furnas and Hansen-Furnas Foundation Scholarship applications are now available in your local area high school guidance counselor’s office. In addition, all scholarship applications (new, renewal, graduate, nursing) are available outside the foundation office at 28 S. Water St., Suite 310, Batavia. If you have any questions, please call (630) 761-1390. Deadline for receipt of all applications is March 1.

Arnold and Mildred Erickson Scholarship deadline nears

in Kaneland/Regional by

Sycamore—The Arnold and Mildred Erickson Charitable Foundation, Inc., administered by The National Bank and Trust Company of Sycamore, is now accepting applications for the 2012-13 academic year. The foundation provides scholarships for individuals attending Waubonsee Community College and also for those attending a four-year college or university.

The Arnold and Mildred Erickson Undergraduate Scholarship is available to graduates of Kaneland High School or Burlington Central High School who are enrolled or accepted for enrollment at a duly accredited four-year college or university.

The foundation was created by Mildred Erickson in order to further her charitable interest in Elburn and the surrounding area. Since the foundation’s inception in 1997, a total of $959,400 in scholarships has been awarded.

Further information regarding scholarship eligibility and application forms are available through the high school guidance office at Kaneland and Central high schools, the Financial Aid Office at Waubonsee Community College. Applications and information are also available at the banks’ website, www.nabatco.com under Trust/Wealth Management/Scholarship Applications.

All application materials must reach The National Bank and Trust Company of Sycamore no later than March 1 prior to the academic year in which aid is being requested.

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