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Regional - page 27

Weather Service issues Heat Advisory for Friday afternoon

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

With the thermometer expected to rise into the 90s and the humidity climbing to uncomfortably high levels Friday, the Kane County Health Department again is urging residents to take precautions as these conditions can lead to heat illness.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Kane County that will be in effect on Friday from noon until midnight. With temperatures in the 90s and high humidity, heat index values could reach the upper 90s or higher Friday afternoon.

“You’ll want to be extra careful when going outside on Friday. If you must work outside, be sure to take breaks in the shade and drink plenty of water. Or better yet, get inside an air conditioned building to cool off. We also hope you can check the welfare of neighbors and friends who may be vulnerable to the heat illness,” said Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the symptoms and treatment for heat stroke, heat exhaustion and other heat-related ailments here: www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress.

Keep cool with these tips:
· Go to a public air-conditioned environment, such as libraries malls or other public buildings.

· Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to your body.

· Drink plenty of fluids and replace salts and minerals in your body. Do not take salt tablets unless under medical supervision.

· Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella.

· Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours and in places of potential severe exposure such as beaches.

· Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area.

Do not:

· Direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°f

· Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, where temperatures can rapidly climb to fatal levels.

· Drink alcohol to try to stay cool

· Eat heavy, hot, or hard-to-digest foods

· Wear heavy, dark clothing

More information about coping with extreme heat is available by visiting the Health Department’s Web site at www.kanehealth.com/heat.htm.

Illinois teen gives back to community through participation in national scholarship program

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ALABAMA—Samantha Vazquez of Illinois worked with Habitat for Humanity in Mobile, Ala., on June 16, helping to educate children in the Mobile area about the importance of suitable housing. Vazquez is currently in Mobile participating in the 54th Distinguished Young Women National Finals, a scholarship program that will award more than $140,000 in cash scholarships to its participants on June 23, 24 and 25.

The recent Kaneland High School graduate volunteered her time as part of the “Be Your Best Self” day, sponsored by the Junior League of Mobile. She and 15 of her fellow state representatives spent the morning painting bird houses, interacting with the children and teaching them about giving back to their communities while the remaining participants volunteered at other sites around the city.

“‘Be Your Best Self’ day is an integral part of a participant’s experience while in Mobile for National Finals,” said Becky Jo Peterson, executive director of Distinguished Young Women. “Our program strives to inspire young women to go out and serve their communities in addition to bettering themselves. Through the “Be Your Best Self” program, we wish to create a generation of young women who engage in their communities through service to others.”

“Be Your Best Self” day is an extension of the “Be Your Best Self” program, the official outreach program of Distinguished Young Women aimed at inspiring young people to lead successful and productive lives. The five elements that comprise the program are to be healthy, be involved, be studious, be ambitious and be responsible.

As a participant in the 54th Distinguished Young Women National Finals, Vazquez is eligible for a $1,000 Be Your Best Self scholarship. Each of the 50 state representatives participated in “National Be Your Best Self” week in April and made a presentation to their local Boys & Girls Club or other community organization to teach young people the five elements of the “Be Your Best Self” program. The participants’ experience and connection with the program, as described in an essay, will determine the recipients of the “Be Your Best Self” award.

St. Charles Park District’s ‘Staycation Adventure’

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ST.CHARLES—Perhaps the best way to discover all the treasures and amenities the St. Charles Park District has to offer is through its interactive “Staycation Adventure” treasure hunt. Now through July 8, participants are encouraged to visit ten District parks following a map made available through the district’s website, www.stcparks.org.

There are 14 specific questions that will solve the treasure map’s puzzle. Clues to the answers can be found somewhere in each of the ten parks. So while the family is enjoying a picnic lunch at Pottawatomie Park, for instance, or spending the day splashing around Otter Cove Aquatic Park, they can also put on their sleuth’s cap and be on the lookout for solutions to the treasure map. Answers can be submitted online and correct submissions will be entered in a drawing for fun prizes. For more information, call (630) 513-6200.

STC celebrates July 4th

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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, which is held on Monday, July 4, can be 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.

The Fox Valley Concert Band performs in the amphitheater from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Local favorite Red Woody rocks 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.

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 www.stcparks.org.

A few reminders …
• Come 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.

Kane County redraws district boundaries

in Regional by

by Keith Beebe
KANE COUNTY—The Kane County recently approved new district boundaries, which will include reduction of its number of districts from 26 to 24.

The reduction is a gradual move in anticipation of when Kane County will have to reduce its number of districts to 18 once the county attains a population of 800,000, which is expected to happen sometime by 2040.

The redefined boundaries would be implemented in time for the 2012 election season. Districts are reviewed every 10 years, with the latest census having taken place in 2010.

Redistricting, by design, will take some of the load off of Kane County Board member Drew Frasz (Dist. 26—Elburn) and some other board members who oversee wide-spanning districts. Frasz currently handles Elburn, Maple Park, Kaneville, Big Rock, Blackberry Township, two-thirds of Sugar Grove Township, as well as small portions of Campton Hills and Virgil Township. The new district boundaries eliminate Sugar Grove and Big Rock from Frasz’ workload, leaving him with a somewhat smaller area to focus on.

“I am real happy (with) the way (the redistricting) turned out,” he said. “I have a nice manageable district. I enjoyed representing Big Rock and Sugar Grove, (but) I am kind of from the north end of my district, so I am maintaining the communities that I am really familiar with and have a great rapport with.”

Frasz said districts located on the western side of the county tend to be extremely large, as districts 25 (northwest corner of the county) and 26 combined cover 300 of Kane County’s 520 square miles. As a result of redrawing district boundaries, that 300 square miles will gain an extra two board members who will now handle some of the western townships.

“Instead of having two representatives, that (entire area) now has four, and that’s a good thing, in my opinion,” Frasz said. “I’m not complaining, but my district was extremely large—it had all, or parts, of eight different communities in it. The smaller rural communities, even though they are incorporated, tend to need a lot of assistance from the county for various services, so it’s a very busy district to represent. (Redistricting) will take some of the load off of me and (Rep.) T.R. (Smith, Dist. 25) and spread it around.”

Frasz also praised the work and research that went into the redistricting process.

“I’m really proud of the way our county handled this. We set up what’s called a Task Force, which is a smaller working group within the County Board,” he said. “If you look at what we did, as compared to how the state has done redistricting, ours was very nonpartisan and it was very fair to the incumbent board members. We used no consultants—everything was done in-house. It came out really nice.”

With the the board reducing its number of members to 24, one board member will retire, and another has chosen to not run for another term. Only two existing board members run against each other.

“It was very challenging (to figure out), and I am very glad we pulled it off, Frasz said.”

Rep. Hatcher launches new season of her “Foxy Readers” Summer Reading Club

in Kaneland/Regional by

YORKVILLE—State Representative Kay Hatcher has launched a new season of her popular “Foxy Readers” Summer Reading Club for area students who pledge to continue reading during their summer vacation.

“Not all education is formal,” Hatcher said. “I want to encourage elementary school students in our district to spend part of their summer vacation again this year exploring where good books can take them.”

Hatcher is sponsoring her “Foxy Readers” Summer Reading Club again this year in cooperation with area libraries. The club is open to all first through fifth grade students in the 50th district. Informational flyers are available by contacting Rep. Hatcher’s office or by visiting your local library.

Summer Readers will be encouraged to read at least eight books during their vacation, then list their books on the flyer and return it to Representative office by Aug. 1. Those who complete the reading will be recognized with certificates of achievement and invited to a certificate award ceremony and party in the fall.

“Foxy Readers” participating local libraries:
• Aurora Public Library
1 E. Benton St., Aurora
• Batavia Library
10 S. Batavia Ave., Batavia
• Charles Phillips Public Library
6 N. Jackson St., Newark
• Kaneville Public Library
2S101 Harter Road, Kaneville
• Maple Park Public Library District
302 Willow St., Maple Park
• Messenger Public Library
113 Oak St., North Aurora
• Oswego Public Library
32 West Jefferson St., Oswego
• Plano Public Library
15 W. North St., Plano
• Sugar Grove Public Library
54 Snow St., Sugar Grove
• Town and Country Library
320 E. North St., Elburn
• Yorkville Public Library
902 Game Farm Road, Yorkville

Forest Preserve receives upgraded AA+ bond rating

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GENEVA—The Forest Preserve District of Kane County announced that the international bond-rating firm of Standard & Poor’s has upgraded the district’s bond rating from AA to AA+/stable.

The upgrade is relative to the district’s general obligation bond debt and the proposed referendum-supported general obligation bond sale on June 13. Standard & Poor’s issued the rating for both current district general obligation bonds and the scheduled sale bonds of AA+/stable.

On April 5, voters approved the district to sell $30,000,000 in general obligation bonds. The money will go to acquire and preserve forests and natural lands, protect wildlife habitats, enhance flood control, improve hiking and biking trails, fishing and other recreational areas, provide nature education programs and improve forest preserves, wetlands and prairies.

Forest Preserve Finance Director Robert Quinlan said Standard & Poor’s attributed the improved bond rating to the district’s maintenance of a very strong general fund reserve. This strong general fund balance reflects the position taken by the Forest Preserve Commission that maintaining stability is in the overall best interest of the citizens of Kane County and the future of the Forest Preserve District.

“What this increased rating means for the citizens of Kane County is that the scheduled bond sale should benefit from lower bond interest rate bids, therefore resulting in lower property taxes levied to repay the new bond debt,” Quinlan said.

3rd-generation local farmer honored by NIU

in Featured/Regional by

by Susan O’Neill
Lily Lake—Former Lily Lake resident and third-generation family farmer Leland Strom was recently honored by Northern Illinois University when he was presented with an honorary doctorate degree at the university’s graduate school commencement ceremony earlier this year.

Lisa Freeman, vice president of Research and Graduate Studies at NIU, cited Strom’s broad influence in the agricultural industry, both nationally and internationally, as one of the university’s reasons for recognizing him in this way.

“Mr. Strom currently has national and international responsibility for protecting and managing the assets of our agricultural industry,” she said. “His work has also included consulting worldwide with developing nations in the process of establishing financing and supply strategies for sustainable agricultural systems.”

Strom is currently Chairman and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration, which oversees the Farm Credit System, the largest agricultural lender in the United States. With $230 billion in total assets, the FCS is a nationwide network of lending institutions that provides a source of credit and other services to agricultural producers and farmer-owned cooperatives.

He is serving a six-year term as one of three members of the board of the FCA, a position to which he was appointed in 2006 by former President George W. Bush. Strom also serves on the board of directors of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation (FCSIC), which is responsible for ensuring the timely payment of principal and interest on obligations issued on behalf of FCS banks.

As a regulator, Strom said he is proud of the fact that because the FCS has built such a strong capital system, it has continued to attract private investors throughout the recent financial crisis, allowing it to continue to provide a reliable source of credit to farmers nationwide.

Through his role on this board, Strom also responds to requests from countries outside of the U.S. regarding advice on lending and credit systems within their agricultural industries. His previous experience has included travel to 15 countries world-wide, conducting agricultural research and analysis and working with the countries’ governments and financial officials regarding the finances of agriculture.

Strom began his farming education in the 1970s at Kishwaukee Junior College, where he studied agricultural business. He intended to go on to attend the University of Illinois to complete his education, but when his father’s health began to decline, Strom decided to stay close to home to help out with the family farm.

He was 20 years old when he began farming, while attending night classes at NIU in business administration. His family’s farm operation grew rapidly and soon became a full-time venture. At its largest point, his operation included about 1,600 acres in corn and soybeans.

During that time, Strom took on leadership roles in a number of agricultural organizations in the area.

He served as a director of the Kane County Farm Bureau Board and president of the Kane County Livestock Feeders Association, as well as several positions with the Illinois Farm Bureau, where he was a member of the State Young Farmer Committee from 1981 to 1985. He received an Outstanding Young Farmer Award for his overall involvement in agriculture.

He was also a member of former Rep. Dennis Hastert’s agricultural advisory committee for the 14th District.

“I became very aware of how both federal and state government policies and laws passed affect the agricultural industry,” he said.

Strom married, and together with his wife, Twyla, raised three children, two boys and a girl. Twyla, a native of Elburn, owned and operated a pre-school there for 15 years. His community involvement included a term as vice president of the local school district, chairman of the family’s church council, a 4-H parent leader, and coach of both boys’ and girls’ sports teams.

During the early 1980s, he was on the board of Northern F/S, a farm service and supply cooperative serving farmers in northern Illinois. He also served on the board of 1st Farm Credit Services, an Illinois institution responsible for $4 billion in loans to farming operations in the northern half of Illinois.

Although Strom’s leadership with the Kane County Farm Bureau predates his experience, current Farm Bureau Executive Director Steve Arnold said he likes to refer to Strom in advising young people starting out in agriculture.

“Through taking advantage of the leadership opportunities within the industry, he is an example of what can be achieved,” Arnold said. “He’s become a great recruitment tool for us.”

When Kane County initiated its Farmland Protection Program in 2001, Strom played a role in the creation of the program, offering his advice and recommendations.

“He spoke very strongly in favor of farmland preservation,” Kane County Farmland Protection Program Director Janice Hill said. “I certainly appreciated his leadership and his insights into the benefits of the program for the county.”

Not only did Strom speak in favor of the program, he was among its earliest applicants, Hill said. His farm was one of the first to be dedicated to permanent agricultural use under the program.

Although he and his wife currently reside in the Washington, D.C. area, their local farm continues to produce corn and soybeans.

Their youngest son, Tyler, a research assistant for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, currently lives in the family home, and their daughter, Amber, after a five-year stint in Wyoming and Colorado as a wildlife research specialist with the Department of Wildlife, recently moved back to the area. The couple’s oldest son, 31-year-old Derek, is a high-energy particle physicist at Cern, Switzerland’s version of Fermilab in Geneva.

“I am deeply honored that NIU has found me worthy of this recognition,” Strom said.

Strom is in good company among other recipients of honorary degrees from NIU, which include U.S. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, historian Arthur Schlesinger, U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and astronomer Carl Sagan.

IEMA, NWS observe Lightning Safety Awareness Week

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SPRINGFIELD—“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” is the slogan used by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) to remind people to take cover when a thunderstorm approaches. But for one lightning-strike survivor, the phrase is important advice that everyone should heed.

During Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 19-25, Jim Ciulla of Lexington is working with IEMA and the NWS to spread the word about the life-changing effects of being struck by lightning.

On July 6, 2010, Ciulla was working as a flagger for a road construction crew on Route 89 in Woodford County when he was struck by lightning. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Peoria and then airlifted to the burn center in Springfield, where he was treated for first- and second-degree burns.

Ciulla says he is lucky to have survived the lightning strike, but the event has left lasting physical problems and severe pain that make it impossible for him to return to work or enjoy many of the activities he did prior to his injury. While he has made some progress nearly a year after the lightning strike, his feet are completely numb, it’s difficult for him to do any physical activity for an extended period of time and scars from his burns are a constant reminder of that life-altering day in July 2010.

“Being struck by lightning has completely changed my life,” Ciulla said. “I hope by telling my story, others will get to safety when thunderstorms are near. No sporting event, no outdoor job, nothing is worth the risk of getting struck by lightning.”

According to the National Weather Service, about 55 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured by lightning strikes in the U.S. each year. On average, two thirds of those fatalities and injuries occur outdoors at recreation events and near trees.

With prompt medical treatment, most lightning strike victims can survive. However, the long-term effects can include memory loss, personality changes, difficulty performing more than one task at a time, fatigue, irreparable nerve damage, chronic pain and headaches, difficulty sleeping and dizziness.

“In a split-second, your life could be changed forever by lightning,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “Whether at work or play, you should always be aware of changing weather conditions and be prepared to take cover as soon as you hear the first rumble of thunder.”

As the “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” slogan suggests, people should move to shelter as soon as thunder is heard, even if the thunderstorm isn’t directly overhead. Lightning can strike from as far away as 10 miles.

The best shelter from lightning is inside a substantial building with the windows and doors closed. If no substantial shelter is available, seek refuge in a hard-topped vehicle with the windows closed. Once inside, stay there for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before resuming outdoor activities.

“If you are close enough to the storm to hear the thunder, you are close enough to be struck by the next bolt of lightning,” said Heather Stanley, meteorologist with the NWS in Lincoln. “Being aware of the forecast, whether by listening to NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards or another media outlet, is the first step in keeping yourself and your family safe from the dangers of lightning. However, just being aware of the forecast is not where personal responsibility ends. If thunderstorms are threatening, act on it—don’t wait for the rain.”

People who work outdoors in open spaces, on or near tall objects, with explosives or with metal have a high risk of being struck by lightning. Farmers, utility workers, construction workers, heavy equipment operators and plumbers are among the occupations with the most risk for being struck by lightning. Safety tips for these workers include:

• Pay attention to the daily forecast and stay alert for early signs of thunderstorms
• When the forecast calls for severe weather, don’t start anything that can’t be stopped quickly
• Know your employer’s safety guidelines, which should include a lightning warning policy that ensures warnings can be issued to workers in time for everyone to get to a safe location, and that workers have access to a safe location
• If severe weather is approaching, avoid anything tall or high, such as roofs, ladders, utility poles or trees; large equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes and tractors, materials or surfaces that conduct electricity, like metal tools or equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes and plumbing; and leave areas where explosives or munitions are located.

IEMA and the NWS developed a Lightning Safety Awareness Guide that contains additional information about how to stay safe during thunderstorms. The guide, as well as information about disaster preparedness, is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

Two laptops stolen from Board of Education contractor

in Kaneland/Regional by

ILLINOIS—Two laptops were stolen from an Illinois State Board of Education contractor on June 7. The laptops contained personal information for 10,000 students and employees who are involved in special education services in 42 school districts, including Kaneland and West Aurora.

Affected families and staff may have recently received a letter from the Illinois State Board of Education on behalf of Harrisburg Project. Harrisburg Project is an external contractor for the Illinois State Board of Education that assists with the collection of student and personnel data for purposes of special education reporting and reimbursement.

According to the State Board of Education, the following information was on the laptops:

• For the personnel records: name, demographics (optional field), Social Security number and/or teacher certification number (one of these is a required field), and work assignment.
• For student records: resident school district, serving school district, serving school, fund code, birth date, name (last, first, middle), student identification number and/or social security number, gender, race/ethnicity, student’s identified disability, grade level, limited English proficiency identification (if applicable), language spoken, bilingual special education (degree of severity, if applicable), related services eligible to receive, educational environment, percent of time receiving services within the general education environment, room and board payer (if applicable), beginning and end dates, and reason for exit.

The information on the computers was password protected. However, if you are among those notified, the State Board of Education recommends that you protect yourself from the possibility of identity theft. The Illinois Attorney General’s Identity Theft Hotline, 1-866-999-5630, has resources to assist you.

The State Board of Education also recommends that you contact credit-reporting agencies to initiate a fraud-alert process. You can contact anyone of the three agencies below and that agency will alert the other two. You may also want to notify your bank in the event that anyone tries to access your accounts.

• Equifax: 1-800-525-6285, www.equifax.com
• Experian: 1-888-397-3742, www.experian.com
• TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289, www.transunion.com

Hultgren accepts applications for fall interns

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Geneva—U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14) announced he is now accepting applications for fall semester internships in both his Washington, D.C. and Geneva offices. The position is unpaid and would run approximately Aug. 15 through Dec. 15, 2011. Full-time students or applicants with Illinois ties are preferred. Academic credit is available.

Interns in the Washington office will be responsible for greeting visitors, answering phones, giving tours of the U.S. Capitol and assisting staff with policy-related projects. Interns in the Geneva office may be asked to help with administrative functions, conduct casework on behalf of constituents and assist with special projects.

Interested applicants should submit a resume, writing sample, and exact dates of availability to hultgrenresumes@gmail.com. Applicants should also indicate whether they are applying for Washington, D.C. or Geneva. Applicants may include names and phone numbers for personal and/or professional references. Applications must be received by July 15. For more information, please call (202) 225-2976.

Garfield Farm Museum visitors take a step back in time

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Photo: Joseph Coleman demonstrates his blacksmith skills during 1840’s Days at Garfield Farm. A photo gallery is located below. Photo by John DiDonna

by Susan O’Neill
CAMPTON HILLS—St. Charles residents Pat Wiedenman and Dona and Rebekah Eggar discovered the meaning of “sleep tight” on a tour of the 1840’s Garfield Farm Tavern and Inn last weekend. Garfield Heritage Society president and tour guide Sue Morton Lloyd pulled back the straw-filled mattress on a bed in the guest bedroom upstairs to reveal the sagging rope foundation. Using a special wooden tool called a rope bed key, Lloyd demonstrated how the ropes could be tightened to make the bed more sturdy and comfortable.

The bedroom, where the higher-paying customers would have spent the night, could sleep more than a dozen in close quarters. It offered no privacy, and people would often sleep not only in the same room, but in the same bed with fellow travelers and strangers.

Wiedenman and her daughter and granddaughter represented three generations of women who had come together to Garfield Farm for its 1840’s Days event.

“When you see it hands on, it brings it to light what people went through to establish our country,” Dona Eggar said.

Timothy and Harriet Garfield and their eight surviving children had come to this area in the 1840s by wagon from Pennsylvania to settle the 440-acre farm in what is now known as Campton Hills. Trained as a brick maker in Pennsylvania, Garfield made the 80,000 bricks that were used to build the tavern and inn.

“It gives you a sense of heritage and an appreciation for the entire United States and the people who went before you,” Wiedenman said. “How industrious this couple was. These are good role models for us and future generations.”

The inn, originally built by Garfield in 1846, includes a kitchen, a ladies parlor, a taproom or tavern, a ballroom and a customers’ bedroom. One of 41 inns between this area and Chicago at the time, the inn served as a stopping place for farmers making the three-day trip to Chicago with their grain.

The guests would be offered a meal, drinks and a place to spend the night, but the opportunity to meet with fellow farmers to share information about the current price of grain and other news was the most valuable commodity they received.

The 374-acre Garfield Farm Museum today is a historically intact prairie homestead and inn that serves as a living history of farm life as it was in the 1840’s. The Museum’s 1840’s Days, held on Saturday and Sunday, featured guided tours and period demonstrations by historical interpreters dressed in the costume of the day.

In addition to the tour of the inn, the two-day event offered visitors the opportunity to walk through the museum’s historic barns, including the oldest one built in 1842, and an 1849 horse barn, originally built for the horses belonging to customers staying at the inn.

“These 1840’s barns are all the original buildings. That’s what sets Garfield Farm apart,” Garfield volunteer Chuck Bauer said.

Bauer’s job for the weekend was to demonstrate for visitors how the farm’s two working oxen might have been used to plow the fields during Timothy Garfield’s day. The two oxen, 1,200-pound Duke and 1,600-pound Doc, are Devons, a breed that most likely had come from Devonshire, England, he said.

Despite their size, Duke and Doc are quite tame and friendly, having been handled and trained since their arrival at the farm more than eight years ago. Hitched together with a yoke, they walked forward, turned and backed up in response to Bauer’s verbal commands.

John and Judy Bierman, a couple from Elgin attending the event, said they enjoyed learning about the background of all the animals used on farms during the 1840’s. The farm is home to rare heritage breeds of chickens and turkeys, sheep and hogs, as well as the oxen.

The Biermans were also excited to be able to poke around the old barns on the property. Both of John’s grandparents had farms during the same time period in Schaumburg Township, and his father had been in the farm implement business.

“The barns are full of implements,” John said.

In addition to the building tours and the animals, a number of historical interpreters, dressed in the clothing of the period, demonstrated various aspects of what life would have been like in the mid-19th century.

Joseph Coleman, the resident blacksmith, stoked a coal fire of up to several thousand degrees as he demonstrated his craft. Coleman explained that, while his blacksmithing skills would have been in great demand in his day, typically he would not be paid in money for his services.

For example, a butcher in need of knives and cleavers would likely not have the skills needed to make his tools. The butcher and the blacksmith would work out a barter, through which the butcher would obtain his tools and the blacksmith would find his shed fully stocked with meat for the winter.

Dundee resident Peggy Hernandez and her friend Jenny Barber from Carpentersville watched Coleman with interest as he formed a tent post from a stick of iron. The two friends had each brought their two children with them.

“We’ve been teasing the kids about the hard work they’d be doing (if they had lived in the 1840’s),” Hernandez said. “There would be no need to go to the gym to work out.”

The answer to the question, “What child could resist digging in the dirt?” was the archaeological dig currently underway near the site of the original log cabin built in 1836. The dig provided a hands-on opportunity for adults and children alike to sift the uncovered earth through a screen in the hopes of finding an artifact.

“I found a piece of china,” 5-year-old Miles Gaber said.

Miles’ mom, St. Charles resident Julie Gaber, had brought him and his sister and their friend to the farm for the afternoon.

“It’s neat for the kids to get an idea of what archaeology is all about,” Julie said.

Miles, his sister Maddy and their friend Joey Serewicz, also had a chance to learn from homestead interpreters Gail and Joe Klein how to play some old-fashioned children’s games.

The toys and games from that era were typically made with items found around the homestead, Gail said. One such game included darts made with turkey feathers stuck into corn cobs that would be thrown through a wagon hoop held by another child.

“It’s a far cry from video games,” Gail said with a laugh.

Elburn resident Steve Thiel said he considers himself an armchair historian. He said he and his wife Jennifer have been to Garfield Farm multiple times.

“It’s nice to have something historical right here in the area,” Jennifer said.

Their 4-year old daughter had her own favorite of the day.

“I like the pigs,” Alexandra said.

Photos by John DiDonna

Elburn resident claims assault by off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy

in Elburn/Regional by

by Ryan Wells
Elburn—An Elburn resident said he was assaulted Friday by an off-duty Kane County Sheriff’s Deputy, sparking an internal investigation by the department’s Office of Professional Standards.

Michael Kowalczyk, 37, of Elburn, said he had just exited his vehicle around 6:30 p.m. on Friday following a minor two-car accident when a man, uninvolved in the accident, reached under his pant leg and withdrew a gun. The man, dressed in street clothes, began to yell at Kowalczyk to not move.

“I never made it to the other car,” Kowalczyk said.

The man continued to yell as he approached.

Kowalczyk, saying he was going to shoot. Kowalczyk said he remained still, and when the man drew to within three to five feet away, he pointed the gun at Kowalczyk’s head, saying he was going to put a bullet in his head.

“I actually contemplated where I was going to get shot, and how it would feel; that’s how serious this guy was,” Kowalczyk said.

Someone must have called the police, Kowalczyk said, because soon a Kane County Sheriff’s Department squad car arrived on the scene. A deputy exited the vehicle, pulled out his weapon, and yelled to the two men, “Who has the weapon?”

According to Kowalczyk, the man in street clothes identified himself as a deputy and claimed that Kowalczyk had a weapon. Kowalczyk was then handcuffed and placed in a squad car.

“I was told, ‘You’re not being arrested, this is for your own safety,'” he said.

Kowalczyk was interviewed by a deputy while in the vehicle, during which time the man in street clothes left the scene of the incident.

Following the interview, Kowalczyk was issued two citations in relation to the accident: one for improper lane usage and another for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. He said he was also told that the incident report would be available Monday.

Kowalczyk went to the Kane County Courthouse Monday to obtain the incident report, as well as attempt to obtain an order of protection and press charges against the individual. While Kowalczyk was able to obtain the report from the accident, he was unable to obtain the incident report documenting what occurred with the off-duty deputy. In addition, he was unsuccessful in obtaining an order of protection or pressing charges. He said he was told to obtain a lawyer, adding that he is currently in the process of obtaining legal counsel.

“Trying to get any justice out of this situation has been a nightmare,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Department declined to provide the incident report to the Elburn Herald as well, citing the pending investigation.

Lt. Chris Collins, of the Office of Professional Standards in the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, said Kowalczyk’s complaint was made Friday night following the incident, and his office began their investigation when they received the initial report Monday. The officer in question remains on regular, active duty as of press time; although that is subject to change depending on what the preliminary investigation determines.

“If there is a perception that there is a threat to the general public, we would take immediate action to safeguard the public,” Collins said. “Public safety is paramount.”

Collins said it would be unusual for an officer to be pulled from regular duty at the point where a complaint exists.

“Each case has to be looked at individually. Each has its own set of facts, and each requires its own determination,” he said.

The Office of Professional Standards is responsible for gathering the written reports, interviewing everyone involved and anyone who witnessed an incident, and then determining the outcome, which falls within a set of categories:
• Sustained—the allegations against the officer prove true
• Not sustained—a final determination of the validity of the allegations cannot be made one way or the other
• Exonerated—the officer did perform the action being alleged, but the action is both legal and justified
• Unfounded—the allegation is untrue
• Policy failure—the officer performed an action, and the situation is either not covered under existing policy, the policy is unclear, or there are other circumstances that will require the department policy itself to be re-examined

Once that determination has been made, the entire file goes to the department’s chief deputy and sheriff, who then makes the final decision in terms of potential disciplinary action against the officer.

Collins said internal investigations into alleged misconduct are evaluated based on what he called “the reasonableness standard.”

“Basically, it’s what makes sense to most people,” he said. “As individuals, you might believe one thing is reasonable and I might think another thing is reasonable, but where they overlap there is usually a large area where most people would understand what is reasonable.”

Collins said that due to the complaint and the statements from some of the witnesses to the incident, the investigation will focus on the reasonableness of the off-duty’s officers actions.

“There were a number of people there, they said what happened,” Collins said. “This is more of a case study as to what were the perceptions of the individuals at the time the incident occurred.”

He said in these types of cases, his office considers the officer’s perception of the situation at the time of the incident and their decision-making process. They then apply the reasonableness standard and compare that to department policy. If the officer acted against policy, they then determine if it is a pattern of behavior and/or if the officer is a threat.

Collins said that while his department is part of the broader Kane County Sheriff’s Department, it is treated as a largely separate entity.

“We take what we do seriously, and we are professional in what we do,” Collins said. “In my four or five years doing what I do, I have never had political or undue influence placed on my findings. It is important to me that the process is authentic; and the process works.”

Kowalczyk said that based on his experience, the off-duty cop should be pulled from the field and removed from the department.

“If he’s a threat to people, he should not be allowed to be a cop. You don’t get paid with people’s tax dollars to go around and threatening to blow people’s brains out,” Kowalczyk said. “I want his gun removed, his badge taken away, and him to lose his job. No one with that type of power should be able to walk around and abuse it like that.”

WWII plane makes emergency landing in Oswego

in Regional/Sugar Grove by

by Keith Beebe
OSWEGO—The Sugar Grove Fire Protection District on Monday morning was initially dispatched to the Aurora Airport after receiving a report that a B17 airplane was coming in on fire.

The World War II plane departed from the airport sometime around 9:30 a.m. and was forced to land in a field five miles southeast after reporting that one of the plane’s engines was on fire.

“We started to respond to the airport, and we were then notified via the FAA tower that the plane had to land in a field because of the fire,” Sugar Grove Fire Chief Marty Kunkel said. “We didn’t know where (the field) was at, so I told our dispatch center to advise Bristol-Kendall and Oswego that (the plane) could possibly be in their district.”

Kunkel was notified by Oswego that the plane was indeed in its district, as it had landed near Minkler Road and Route 71. The matter was then turned over to Oswego, though the district did request the aid of two SGFD units to help extinguish the fire.

All seven of the passengers on the aircraft escaped unharmed, but Kunkel said the plane itself could not be saved, as wet field conditions made it difficult to get near the plane and extinguish the fire in time.

“It was very difficult to get to the plane because of the field conditions, (as well as) the location of the fire on the plane,” he said.

Comptroller orders Old Second to raise its capital ratio

in Regional by

by Keith Beebe
KANE COUNTY—It was less than a month ago when Old Second Bank was ordered by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of Currency to raise its capital ratio to 8.75 percent by Sept. 30, but Old Second Bancorp President and CEO Bill Skoglund thinks things are already looking better for the largest bank in Kane County.

“They’re asking us to raise our regulatory capital ratio. As of March 31, our total capital was at 11.97 percent, and our leverage ratio was at 8.64 percent, after being at 8.1 percent at the end of (last) year, so we’re almost at the (8.97) ratio, and we think we can get to that in a very short time,” he said. “I think we’ll be there before Sept. 30.”

A capital ratio of 8.75 is what federal regulators want to see, and Skoglund said the bank was first notified about its capital ratio in December 2009.

“We, as a public company, made a public announcement of it in June 2010, when we were looking to get some capital,” he said.

The FDIC website defines any total risk-based capital ratio equal to or greater than 8 percent as “adequately capitalized.” According to the website, the standing of “well capitalized” is reserved for any total risk-based capital ratio equal to or greater than 10 percent.

Despite Old Second’s slightly sub-par capital ratio, Skoglund maintains that their leverage ratio is far better than the ratios found in banks that are forced to close.

“They don’t close banks with these kinds of ratios. Banks that get closed, they have ratios of 2 percent or less,” he said. “We’re a long way from that, but this is an agreement that they want us to raise these ratios.

Skoglund said some of Old Second Bank’s losses were due to construction and development loans.

“We’re through that now,” he said. “The economy’s seeming to get a little bit better. We’re starting to see some businesses start to make money now, and they’re starting to hire people. We’re starting to see commercial real estate value stabilize, which is big for us.”

FP District receives $400,000 grant to build campground

in Regional by

Kane County—The Forest Preserve District of Kane County was awarded a $400,000 development grant from the state’s Open Space Land Acquisition & Development (OSLAD) program on May 26.

The grant was part of $11.7 million in grants announced by Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The Forest Preserve District will use the grant money to help build a campground at Big Rock Forest Preserve, in the southern part of the county. The district currently operates Paul Wolff Campground within Burnidge Forest Preserve in Elgin.

The Big Rock facility will include 105 improved camp sites with electric and water hook-ups, 20 primitive or tent camping sites, an entry road and parking, picnic shelter, camp restrooms, trails and a well. Additionally, there will be five equestrian camp sites, where campers may stay with their horses.

“We’re excited that we can continue completing projects that have been prioritized in our five-year master plan,” said Executive Director Monica Meyers. “The addition of a southern campground will be a wonderful amenity for Kane County,” she said.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2012 with completion in fall 2012. The campground is expected to open in spring 2013.

The majority of the campground will be built north of Granart Road on a recently acquired addition to Big Rock Forest Preserve. The preserve is located at 46W524 Jericho Road, Big Rock.

Additionally, IDNR awarded a $400,000 OSLAD grant to the city of Elgin to develop the first phase of the Jack E. Cook Park & Forest Preserve (formerly named the Elgin Regional Park), on Plank Road in western Elgin. The city and the Forest Preserve District combined resources to acquire the property. The district’s portion will be an open, natural area while the active recreation side of the park will include a tennis court, basketball court, two soccer fields, playground, shelter, pathway, entryway and parking lot.

“Our grant application program has been extremely successful,” added Meyers. “Any time we can obtain grants to help acquire land or develop preserve amenities, it really helps maximize what we can accomplish,” she said.

Visit www.kaneforest.com for more information about the Forest Preserve District of Kane County.

Temperatures, high humidity combine to create dangerous conditions

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

The Kane County Health Department is urging residents to take precautions as temperature and humidity levels climb Tuesday to create conditions where heat illness is possible. The National Weather Service is predicting that temperatures could climb to the upper 90s on Tuesday. When combined with dew points in the mid- to upper 60s, heat indices could climb over 100. Little relief is expected over night, and temperature and humidity levels could climb to dangerous levels again on Wednesday, when a cooler weather is expected to arrive Wednesday night and into Thursday.

“The effects of extreme heat conditions on the human body are cumulative and can lead to variety of health complications, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” Paul Kuehnert, Executive Director of the Health Department, said. “We are urging people to display caution as the temperatures rise and to follow a few simple tips to protect themselves.”

Keep cool with these tips:
· Go to a public air-conditioned environment, such as libraries malls or other public buildings.

· Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to your body.

· Drink plenty of fluids and replace salts and minerals in your body. Do not take salt tablets unless under medical supervision.

· Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella.

· Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours and in places of potential severe exposure such as beaches.

· Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area.

Do not:

· Direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°f

· Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, where temperatures can rapidly climb to fatal levels.

· Drink alcohol to try to stay cool

· Eat heavy, hot, or hard-to-digest foods

· Wear heavy, dark clothing

More information about coping with extreme heat is available by visiting the Health Department’s Web site at www.kanehealth.com/heat.htm.

Making fitness the best part of the day

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Photo: Kim Justice (left), owner of Take Action Fitness in Lily Lake, coaches Elburn Herald reporter Lynn Meredith on how to use the “battling ropes” on Thursday. Take Action has been open since April of this year. They have programs to help people get healthy, improve appearance and work on nutrition. Photo by John DiDonna

by Lynn Meredith
LILY LAKE—When somebody tells me I can not only look better, but get healthier at the same time, they have my attention. When Take Action Fitness in Lily Lake opened its doors with the promise of better and faster results, I couldn’t resist checking it out.

I was greeted with an engaging smile and a warm handshake by owner Kim Justice. I could tell immediately that she cared about the people who came through the door, and I soon found out she also knew what she was talking about.

As I looked around the gym, I could see right away that this was not your typical gym. It looked like a playground with all sorts of toys to try. Instead of rows of weight machines and treadmills, I saw ropes and rollers, kettle bells and straps hanging from the wall. A long green strip ran down the center.

“I want to change the way fitness is done. Most gyms don’t get you the results you want. I want to fill the void of 80 percent of the people who aren’t going to gyms. I want them to feel cared for and that they are getting results,” Justice said. “My number-one priority is for this to be the best part of their day, that they feel welcome and that it’s a regular part of their day—just like Starbucks.”

Justice has had the idea of owning her own club since she was 16. She spent much of her high school and college years running track and field and playing lacrosse.

“I’ve done a lot of training for sports, and I know what it’s like—being in that spot that you have to work hard and have goals,” she said.

I started my workout by rolling on the floor on top of a cylindrical foam roller. The roller helped to unknot tight muscles, or “hot spots” through what Justice called “self-massage” or “myofascial release.”

We then moved on to the flexibility and dynamic warm-up portion. As I lunge-walked down the long green strip, Justice adjusted my form and alignment, so that I could get the most benefit from the exercise.

“It’s basically stretching while moving,” she said. “We do a dynamic warm-up along the length of the green strip. You also do corrective work to prevent injury.”

As I got farther into the gym, I noticed that there was only one treadmill.

“We are a functionally-based facility. You notice we only have one treadmill. And it just sits there. You don’t need to (get) on a treadmill to get the results you want,” Justice said.

Justice explained that the gym is designed around the flow of the workout. Next we moved over to the kettle bells and weights for rows and goblet squats. Justice emphasized that these exercises work the total body. They engage not just the big muscles but the front and back of the body along with the core. To get to the core, I hit the mat and held a forearm plank for short intervals over many repetitions.

Another exercise I tried was holding the ends of thick ropes attached to the wall. I alternately swung the ropes and had to dig deep to stay balalnced. I could feel my heartbeat accelerate and felt it in my arms, core and legs. As I looked around what to try next, I couldn’t resist using straps attached to the wall that allowed me to lean as low as I could go and lift my body weight.

We ended the workout with what Justice calls the “Finisher.” I opted to try the “Prowler,” a heavy contraption that slides along the green strip. I ran and pushed it in one direction, and then got lower and ran and pushed it back. I was finished …

“It’s basically whatever energy you have left at the end of the workout, we’re going to annihilate it,” Justice said. “It’s really going to set your metabolism, so it’s going to have to go into overdrive after the workout.”

At the end I felt that I had gotten what Take Action offers: an experience that leads to results by people who are passionate about what they do. And best of all, I had fun doing it.

Information
Take Action Fitness is a locally-owned center located one-half mile east of Route 47 on Route 64.
Memberships include fitness coaching in a semi-private setting that allows members to get all the benefits of one-on-one training in a group setting of two to three people.
Individualized programs change every four weeks in order to prevent the body from adapting to the same workout. The program also includes nutritional coaching and weekly accountability.
A one-month trial membership is available that allows clients to try the facility with all the benefits of full membership with no contract.
“Come in and workout for 30 days and by the end of the 30 days you won’t want to leave. Our sole focus is not on membership numbers—but on membership results,” owner Kim Justice said.
For more information, call (630) 365-9630 to schedule a tour or visit take-actionfitness.com.

Two Women, For Women close up shop

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Kane County—Almost 12 years to the day, the free mammogram fund Two Women, For Women officially ceased operations Wednesday.

“This is actually very, very good news,” said president Kay Catlin of St. Charles, who co-founded the organization in 1999 with friend Sharon Lough of Campton Hills. “When we started, free mammograms for uninsured and underinsured women were all but non-existent. Now there’s a viable state program—the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program—which, much to our joy, makes our program unnecessary.”

Over time, Two Women, For Women grew from a modest Tri-City program providing free mammograms to women in need to encompass a variety of additional programs, including free pap tests and gynecological exams to well women/menopause consultations for qualified women residing throughout Kane County.

The idea for the fund grew out of Catlin’s own battle with breast cancer that began in 1998 when doctors discovered a small tumor during a routine annual mammogram. Following subsequent surgery, radiation and hormone therapy, Catlin became and remains cancer-free.

“I owe my life to early detection and wanted to pass along the benefits without regard to any barrier whatsoever—including money,” she said. “Fortunately, Sharon agreed to join me in establishing and running the new program.”

During the past 12 years, the women have subsequently provided funding for more than 1,300 free mammograms and breast exams, follow-up extra views and ultrasounds, as well as pap tests, pelvic exams and well-women consultations. Along the way, numerous early-stage cancers were discovered and successfully treated.

“Of course, none of this would have been possible without the cooperation and support of our service providers—Randallwood Radiology, Delnor Hospital, Fox Valley Family Physicians, Provena St. Joseph Hospital, Provena Health Center for Diagnostic Imaging, and Fox Valley VNA. We’d also like to thank the doctors who helped us out when it was necessary: Dr. Ceasar Co, Dr. Charlotte Schuhart and, most recently, Dr. Susan Acuna,” they said.

Kane and Kendall County women, ages 35 to 64, currently in need of breast and cervical cancer screening options are encouraged to contact the local lead agency for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program:
Fox Valley VNA
400 N. Highland Avenue
Aurora, IL 60506
(630) 892-4355, ext. 8535

Additional program information is also available from the Office of Women’s Health—Illinois Department of Public Health in Springfield at 1-888-522-1282.

McConnaughay assigns Metra task force

in Regional by

by Lynn Meredith
KANE COUNTY—Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay announced the formation of a task force to recommend a replacement for the Kane County appointee on the Metra Board. McConnaughay asked Carol Van Overeirie to step down in the wake of financial improprieties by the former and now deceased Metra Executive Director that left the board, in McConnaughay’s words, “embattled and entrenched.” She also advocates for the resignation of the entire Metra Board.

“I believe that we must take proactive steps to reassess our Kane County representation on the Metra Board, not only during this time of crisis but for the future viability of the Metra system,” McConnaughay wrote in a letter to Kane County Board members.

The task force is made up of County Board members who serve on the transportation committee and represent communities with Metra rail lines. County Board member Drew Frasz will represent Elburn in the task force. With the new redistricting that will go into effect in November 2012, Frasz’s district will represent Blackberry and Kaneville townships, as well as parts of Campton and Virgil townships, roughly half the former size of the current structure.

The task force met on Tuesday to review the responsibilities of the Metra Board of Directors and develop criteria for consideration of appointment.

“The task force will look over what the position entails and the demands on the new appointee. Our goals are to learn the responsibilities of the job and define the position,” Frasz said.

The appointment is open to any Kane County resident that will begin Friday, May 27. Applicants should send a resume and cover letter that details what relevant qualifications they have to serve.

“They should be well-versed in transportation issues and have experience working on boards and committees,” Frasz said.

The task force will accept applications, interview and recommend the best qualified individual to represent Kane County’s interests on the Metra Board.

McConnaughay will appoint the individual with the advice and consent of the County Board.

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