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Scarecrow Fest celebrates 28 years

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ST. CHARLES—A whimsical autumn tradition among Chicagoland’s Fox Valley residents and visitors alike, this year’s 28th annual Scarecrow Fest, presented for the second year running by AAA Insurance, will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11-13, in St. Charles.

Produced by the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau in conjunction with Ravenswood Event Services, this nationally-recognized festival celebrates and promotes the greater St. Charles area as a tourism destination. Famous for its unique, handcrafted scarecrows, this year’s festival will find the beloved displays located on the west side of the Fox River.

Five of the six scarecrow categories will be located in Lincoln Park, located just north of Main Street (Route 64), between Fourth and Fifth streets. A sixth category, featuring displays created to promote businesses from greater St. Charles, will be displayed at the city’s newest parking lot on the former site of the VFW, located just west of Third Street between Cedar and State streets.

For the first time in fest history, the scarecrows displayed in Lincoln Park will be illuminated by solar-powered path lights, providing attendees with a new vantage point for viewing the whimsical, traditional, children, family and mechanical entries.

Another first for the fest is that the Lincoln Park display will be laid out with the help of a professional set designer, provided by Ravenswood Event Company, chosen by the Greater St. Charles CVB to provide operational support for this year’s event.

Festival attendees will also be able to meet Ted Eynik, who will be on hand during the event to share stories of the 20 elaborate, moving displays he has created during the fest’s history.

“Due to circumstances beyond his control, Ted was not able to enter a Scarecrow in this year’s contest. But, he has become a tradition of our festival, and we know attendees who attended past fests specifically to see his creations will be eager to meet him and see examples of the techniques and elements he used to bring so much enjoyment to so many festival goers,” said Amy Egolf, executive director of the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While Lincoln Park will, once again, boast the main stage for free entertainment, three new entertainment areas—located on 1st Street between Main and Illinois; near the Municipal Center, located on Main and Riverside; and along the Riverwalk that borders the river’s east bank—will encourage foot traffic throughout the city-wide festival grounds.

Attendance at the fest has grown to as many as 150,000 in recent years. To alleviate heavy vehicular traffic congestion in the heart of downtown St. Charles and to provide ease of transportation into the fest grounds for festival goers, visitors are encouraged to use the two remote lots (Charlestowne Mall, Lot H, on the east side; and Illinois and Seventh streets on the west side) and free shuttles.

The festival’s most popular events are back this year, including Windy City Amusement Carnival, the Autumn on the Fox Arts and Crafts show in Pottawatomie Park, and Colonial Ice Cream Eating Contest.

Additionally, Make Your Own Scarecrow enables fest attendees to fashion their very own scarecrows to take home. Due to the popularity of the Make Your Own Scarecrow activity, attendees will be able to choose from two locations: one on First Street, the other in the Municipal Center parking lot—which will reduce the time participants need to stand in line.

This year, participants will not be asked for a donation, and they are encouraged to bring clothes from home if they’d like their scarecrows to have a familiar look. Clothes available at both activity areas have been provided by Savers St. Charles.

Festival food is always a highlight of outdoor events, and this year, Scarecrow Festival will host a variety of food vendors scattered throughout the festival grounds. In addition to traditional festival foods, attendees can also enjoy the many pubs and restaurants located throughout the downtown area.

Since its inaugural year in 1985, the Scarecrow Fest has proven to be a successful, award-winning event for St. Charles. In 2012, Scarecrow Fest was featured on NBC’s Today Show as one of the top fall events in the country.

Grant allows SGPD access to all KC Law Enforcement records

in Regional/Sugar Grove by

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Police Department will now have access to law enforcement records throughout all of Kane County.

The Village Board on Tuesday agreed to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the county to share the records.

The city of Elgin received a grant that would allow for the sharing of law enforcement records with other members of law enforcement. This grant covered the initial costs of the Kane County Law Enforcement Sharing interface that will benefit every agency that decides to enter into this agreement. However, there will be an annual fee totaling to $2,400 that will be split equally amongst the four agencies who participate in this agreement.

“I wasn’t surprised Elgin took the lead. They saw that a grant was available to open it up to other amenities,” Sugar Grove Police Chief Patrick Rollins said.

Tri-City Records will be the facilitator for the sharing and receiving for all agencies who participate in the agreement. The Village Board believes that the Police Department will benefit in a huge way with having access to the Kane County law enforcement records.

“It will be great for our officers. They’ll be able to look up any record they want in Kane County, including background checks. Hopefully it will be a great tool for them that will also keep them safe,” Village President Sean Michels said.

Bliss Road bridge deck repairs to begin next week

in Regional/Sugar Grove by

SUGAR GROVE—Kane County has informed the village of Sugar Grove that bridge deck repairs on Bliss Road over the I-88 bridge will begin Monday, Sept. 23. These repairs are anticipated to be complete by Friday, Sept. 27, weather permitting. This work will involve expansion joint replacement and concrete deck repairs, and will require Bliss Road to be reduced to one lane of traffic during construction utilizing temporary traffic signalization.

DeKalb Firefighters Local 1236 Wounded Warrior

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DEKALB—In conjunction with the AFFI (Association of Firefighters of Illinois), the DeKalb Firefighters Local 1236 is currently selling Wounded Warrior shirts, with all proceeds going toward the purchase of a car for a local wounded vet. The new car will be awarded during the upcoming NIU football game vs. Ball State on Nov. 13.

The DeKalb Firefighters Union Local 1236 has come up with a custom T-shirt to show its support of local wounded veterans, with a goal of raising $30,000. T-shirts are $15 each, and can be ordered at IAFF1236.blogspot.com. Sizes are small, medium and large for kids, and small, medium, large, X-large and XX-large for adults. Make checks payable to DeKalb Firefighters Local 1236.

Bat found in Batavia yard tests positive for rabies

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

BATAVIA—A bat recently found in a Batavia yard tested positive for rabies. There was no human exposure.

This is the first rabies-positive bat seen this year. One rabid bat was discovered last year, and one in 2011.

Bats are the most common carrier of rabies in Illinois. Rabies affects the brain and will cause unnatural behavior in mammals. Children especially should be reminded to avoid contact with wild animals that are acting unusual, such as a bat that is outside in the daytime or one that cannot fly. It is important to keep all pets—dogs, cats, ferrets, etc.—up to date with their rabies vaccinations. Not only does the vaccine protect the pet, it also serves as barrier of protection for people. Even indoor pets should be vaccinated, as illustrated by the fact that some of the bat cases are found indoors. The last human case of rabies in Illinois was reported in 1954

Information about exclusion—keeping bats from entering your home—can be found by logging on to the Illinois Department of Public Health website, www.idph.state.il.us/env health/pcbats.htm.

For information about a referral for capturing bats or for submitting specimens for testing, call Kane County Animal Control at (630) 232-3555.

Raging Waves provides hundreds of jobs in Kendall County during summer season

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YORKVILLE—Raging Waves, Illinois’ largest waterpark, provided employment to approximately 525 people this summer, making the theme park one of the biggest employers in the Kendall County area.

The privately owned entertainment park in Yorkville opened for business in June 2008 with the intent to bring hundreds of new seasonal jobs to the area. Over the past six years, the 45-acre family-friendly park has given the local economy a boost by creating jobs that support over 300,000 visitors at the regional entertainment attraction each summer.

“As one of the largest employers in the area, we’re proud to play a significant role for economic development in Kendall County,” said Daniel Mulka, marketing manager at Raging Waves. “We’re also committed to making Raging Waves a great place to work.”

He said Raging Waves offers a fantastic employment opportunity for anyone who wants to work with the public in a fun, family-oriented environment. As an outdoor waterpark that’s only open during the summer, it’s the perfect place for students and teachers to work while school is out. It’s also the ideal first job for a young person getting their feet wet in the workforce.

Raging Waves averages about 190 employees on duty per day during the summer season and has expanded its employment numbers each year. For more information, visit the Raging Waves website at www.ragingwaves.com or call (630) 882-6575.

Elburn couple enjoy fruits (and vegetables) of labor

in Elburn/Regional by
1.Tyler Strom & Jacalyn Tarr from Strom Family Farm

ELBURN—Carol Clulow has a spot she aims to frequent once a week to get fresh produce to take home.
Clulow, an Elburn resident, goes to the Strom Family Farm veggie stand in Elburn.

“It’s organic, for one,” Clulow said of the veggie stand. “And it’s local. I am interested in supporting local farmers.”

Tyler Strom, principal owner and manager of the stand, and his girlfriend, Jacalyn Tarr, manager of marketing and communications, are partners and co-owners of Strom Family Farm in Elgin, Ill.

The Elburn couple are also farmers and tend to about an acre and a half of land. They bring their picked produce, which is pesticide-free, to Elburn to sell.

Strom, 27, is a fourth-generation farmer while Tarr, 29, has roots that are more of the suburban variety. Although they both have full-time jobs, farming is their part-time work. Yet, they both discovered that farming has full-time hours.

“Work still needs to be done,” Tarr said. “Even if you’re tired and don’t want to do it, it doesn’t mean the plants stop growing.”

Every Saturday and Sunday, Tarr and Strom set up shop on the front lawn of Elburn and Countryside Community Center on 525 N. Main St. They’ll be there until mid-October.

Last Saturday, the couple stood side by side, wearing baseball caps under a blue tent with lots of shiny produce on display. Plenty of tomatoes were there, as well as some cantaloupes. Mostly, the produce is veggies, including garden salsa peppers, bell peppers, zucchini, onions, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and huge blue containers filled with green husks covering sweet corn.

Christina and Mike Basich of South Elgin, Ill., rolled up on the side of the road on a motorcycle. This was their first time visiting this veggie stand.

“We come to get the meat for the grill for the barbecue,” Christina said. “And then we saw this place and I said, ‘Let’s stop.’ Just on a whim.”

So what did they purchase? Christina selected some cantaloupe, cucumbers, garlic and tomatoes.

“Well, I like organic fruits and vegetables,” Christina said. “So, for me, that’s kind of why I wanted to stop. And because I like to support the local—”

“Farmer,” Mike said.

Jenni Petty, St. Charles resident, also came to town to get some meat from the local market.

“I was coming through to go back home and I saw this,” she said. “And I wanted fresh corn. And I thought, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah. I’m stopping for fresh corn.’”

Petty thought aloud that Strom picked the sweet corn that same Saturday morning.
“That’s right,” Strom laughed. “We did.”

Petty said she knows what makes sweet corn so good.

“It’s always good when it’s picked right that day,” she said, “because it doesn’t sit and it doesn’t have to get ripe.”

Petty calls that fresh sweet corn taste “heaven.”

Another happy customer was Sugar Grove resident Denise VanVliet. She checked out the spaghetti squash selection because she can’t eat gluten in noodles. And she knows what makes those sweet and super juicy cherry tomatoes in the green containers so tasty.

“The explosion of flavor,” VanVliet said. “It’s delightful.”

Meanwhile, St. Charles resident John Matthews, found a two-pound Heirloom Brandywine tomato cluster that had three of the tomatoes connected in the shape of a heart.

“Bigger is better,” Matthews said.

Perhaps. And Strom’s veggie stand is successful because fresh is best.

Photo: Tyler Strom and Jacalyn Tarr. Photo by Lynn Logan

Mosquitoes found in Elgin trap test positive for WNV

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department recently reported that a batch of mosquitoes collected in a trap in Elgin, Ill., tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the second time this summer a trap in northern Kane County yielded evidence of the disease. The first, a trap set in July near Algonquin, Ill., administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health, was found to contain mosquitoes that tested positive for the disease.

The Health Department monitors for WNV activity in the area. Also, as part of its West Nile program, the Health Department is collecting dead birds to be sent to the state lab for testing. Call (630) 444-3040 to report the presence of freshly-dead birds (such as crows or blue jays) to determine if WNV testing is recommended. The birds must not show any signs of decay or trauma.

You can view more detailed monitoring results from this and previous years by visiting http://kanehealth.com/west_nile.htm.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three-to-14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

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

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Kane County Health Department’s website, www.kanehealth.com/west_nile.htm, and the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website, www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm. Also available is the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Courage abroad

in Elburn/Regional by
Cory_Lipsett_Courtesy

NIU student visits Tanzania, rides Elburn Days Parade float
ELBURN—Cory Lipsett’s first trip abroad was startling in two ways: he went to Tanzania, one of the world’s poorest countries, and he went without Ragin, the guide dog he’s taken everywhere since the Elburn Lions’ Leo Club donated the dog to him three years ago.

Lipsett, a senior at Northern Illinois University and a Batavia resident, is legally blind. That didn’t stop him from spending a month in Tanzania taking a study abroad class, Experiential Learning with NGOs in Tanzania, taught by NIU professor Kurt Thurmaier.

Though the university offers study abroad experiences to many European countries, Lipsett picked Tanzania because it was a challenging destination for him to reach.

“I thought about some of the more obvious places—France, England—and then I decided, these are places I could go on my own,” Lipsett said. “I wanted to go somewhere I could possibly never go on my own. So the professor who was running the trip spoke to me, and at the time, I didn’t know where Tanzania was on a map, and that certainly fit my criteria of somewhere I had never been before.”

The country, which is located on the east coast of Africa, is perhaps best known as a destination for climbers seeking to scale Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as vacationers on safari. But it’s also a place where a third of the population lives on less than $1 a day, few roads are paved, and millions live without running water or electricity.

Thurmaier has been taking students to Tanzania for several years, but Lipsett was the first visually impaired student who had gone.

“I found it very courageous that this guy, who’d never been out of the United States before and anticipated there would be significant challenges in a country like this, that he would go,” Thurmaier said. “He’s so courageous to just get on a plane and go.”

Lipsett originally planned to have Ragin, a German Shepherd trained by Leader Dogs for the Blind, accompany him, but quarantine regulations made bringing the dog difficult.

“He was without his dog for the first time in years,” said Bill Smar, publicity chairperson for the Elburn Lions. “He was there for 30 days, and the dog had to be quarantined for 30 days going there and then 30 days coming back, so he didn’t take it.”

So Lipsett decided to leave Ragin at home and navigate Tanzania on his own.

“I did not want to worry about quarantine procedures or having to get him food, and also, I talked to a visually impaired lawyer (in Tanzania), and guide dogs are not protected there. Here, the dog has rights and is permitted everywhere, but there, it’s not the same,” Lipsett said. “It was weird. Leaving the dog at my house was certainly the weirdest part, because he comes with me everywhere. I’m certainly used to having him and used to having him help me avoid, say, 3-foot-wide drainage ditches.”

Those drainage ditches proved to be one of the major obstacles that tripped Lipsett up during the trip. The day after he arrived, Lipsett fell into a drainage ditch—one of the many that line the roads to help manage flooding in a country that has a rainy season but no sewer system—and broke one of the four white canes he’d brought to help him locate potential obstacles.

“There’s 3-to-5 foot ditches along the side of every road, and there are no markings, so I fell into one. Somebody said, ‘There’s a hole coming up,’ and I didn’t understand it was a giant drainage ditch,” Lipsett said. “It’s the dry season now, so there wasn’t anything in it, but from that point on I had to be extremely careful even when walking on the sidewalk, because these huge ditches are there, and there’s no standard distance from the road, no standard depth.”

Crossing the street in a country with few crosswalks and no traffic lights was also a challenge, Lipsett said.

“You’re always on your toes when you’re walking around. There is no leisurely stroll. You just have to wait until there are less cars. There’s never no cars, just less. It was a hazard constantly,” he said. “It was stressful.”

Yet despite the challenges, Lipsett said the trip was worth it because it gave him a profound appreciation for the advantages he has received in the United States.

Cultivating that understanding in students was one of the goals of the trip, Thurmaier said.

“The main purpose for me of students going on this study abroad was to give them an opportunity to see how the bottom billion poorest people in the world live, because Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and we work in one of the poorest districts,” Thurmaier said.

Though Thurmaier took the 10 students to see some of the major tourist attractions in the country—Dar es Salaam, the capital city; Zanzibar, an island in the Indian Ocean; and the Serengeti, the famed safari destination—the majority of the trip was spent in far humbler places.

The group spent three weeks in and around Musoma, a city of about 100,000 people on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, near the border with Kenya. There, students took Kiswahili classes; volunteered to help build a library; attended seminars on the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in development; interviewed local officials; and visited a Catholic mission, some local schools and several NGOs working in the area, including microfinance groups, advocates for AIDS patients, a group providing drinking water, and a school that taught orphaned girls trade skills like sewing.

“It’s a huge challenge to the students,” Thurmaier said. “Students come away from (the islands near Lake Victoria) having really, for the first time, having seen abject poverty. People can go to the south side of Chicago and see poverty, but they haven’t seen this level of poverty. It’s a real sobering experience, and they have a hard time working out how they can live such comfortable lives. It changes their worldview.”

Studying the resources available to visually impaired people in Tanzania was the focus of Lipsett’s research project, so he visited Musoma Primary School, where one teacher and one assistant teach 70 students, 28 of whom are completely blind.

“It’s the only school in the entire region for the visually impaired, so obviously, there are people throughout the region who are not getting any help whatsoever,” Lipsett said. “A big problem is lack of materials, a lack of white canes and braille paper, and unfortunately it gets worse, because there are no secondary programs for the visually impaired in the entire country. It just isn’t there. And that of course is a big issue, because if a student can’t get accommodations, there’s no way they even have a chance of succeeding.”

He also visited the Lake Victoria Disability Centre, a charity that teaches vocational skills such as woodwork, metalwork and dressmaking to Tanzanians with a wide range of disabilities, as well as life skills like sign language.

“The purpose is so that students who finish primary school and can’t go to secondary school due to a lack of accommodations can learn some skills and get a job,” Lipsett said. “If they can’t get an education, they can’t get a job, and they can’t be independent if they can’t work. They have to try something.”

Witnessing the lack of opportunity in Tanzania gave Lipsett a profound appreciation for the opportunities he has had.

“The biggest thing I took away from it is that we live good lives here in the United States,” he said. “We can drink water from the tap without a second thought; we have a light in every room. I’ve realized how valuable my education as I’ve been growing up is. That is something I certainly will not take for granted, my education, coming from an American high school and an American university. Also, just our government—we have a government we can rely on. When there’s a problem with water, electricity, a bad road, you can usually count on it being fixed. That’s not the case over there. You can read about a place, but until you’re really there, you don’t know what it’s like.”

Thurmaier said that it was also valuable for the Tanzanians they met in Musoma to meet Lipsett and see his capabilities.

The group volunteered to help an NGO construct a library in Nyegina, a village near Lake Victoria, which will eventually serve the elementary and secondary students there. Construction equipment is scarce—there are no bulldozers or cement trucks in Nyegina—so students worked to help lay part of the library’s foundation, transporting the building materials by hand. Lipsett spent his volunteer workdays shoveling wet concrete into buckets so that the mafundi, skilled Tanzanian workers who mix cement and lay bricks, could pour it into the library’s foundation.

“(Cory) really redefined for the people working with him what someone who was visually impaired could do,” Thurmaier said. “The fact that he could participate, doing a needed task as part of a team—these guys, I think they were generally awed. They were struck by his capacity, and I think hopefully they will think again when they have a fellow Tanzanian who’s impaired, ‘Maybe they can contribute.’”

Lipsett broke two of his white canes on the trip, but he gave away the other two when he saw the need. One he gave to the teacher’s assistant at the school for the blind, who was also visually impaired and needed one. The other went to a nun he met who was working with students with disabilities.

“She just said, ‘There are a couple of people who could use one,’ and I said, ‘Take this one and put it in somebody’s hands,” Lipsett said.

Though it was his last one, Lipsett said there was only a week left in the trip. He “just buddied up with the other students” and relied on them to help guide him, he said.

He’s been back in the United States for almost three weeks and said his reunion with Ragin was exciting for both of them.

“It feels really good to see him again,” Lipsett said. “One of my instructors (for using a guide dog) said, ‘A cane is an object finder, and a dog is an object avoider.’ It didn’t really occur to me what she meant until I got a dog and was away from him for a month. It wasn’t until I left him for a whole month that I realized how much he does for me. I don’t even notice what he’s avoiding because he’s doing his job.”

The trip has made Lipsett more grateful than ever for Elburn’s Leo Club, a branch of the Lions Club for children aged 12 to 18 that raised the $36,000 to purchase Ragin three years ago. Guide dogs are expensive because of the extended training they undergo, but the Leo Club has helped purchase dogs for three area residents as part of the Lions Club’s mission to assist the blind and visually impaired.

That’s why Lipsett and Ragin rode out on the Elburn Lions Club float during Friday’s Elburn Days parade, as well as volunteered to sell raffle tickets during the festival. It was his way of getting the word out about the good the Lions Club does for the visually impaired in the community, Lipsett said.

He said he encouraged people to come up to him and ask questions about the Lions Club’s charity work and about his dog during Elburn Days because it was the best way to get the message out.

“It’s better advertising if they can see the dog and talk to me,” he said. “You have these conversations: ‘Would you like to buy a raffle ticket?’ And someone asks, ‘What does it benefit?’ Well, it’s this dog right here. The biggest thing that the Lions Club provides is funding to (Leader Dogs for the Blind) who provide, not even a tool, but an assistant to the blind and visually impaired that makes it significantly easier for them to live independently.”

For more information on Tanzania Development Support and the study abroad program, including information on how to contribute to the Nyegina Library Build, visit tdsnfp.org. For information on how to contribute to the Elburn Lions Club, call (630) 365-6315.

Car raffle to support Feed My Starving Children and local organizations

in Regional by

SYCAMORE—With over 6,200 children under the age of 5 dying every day due to starvation, it’s time to take action. Over the last four years, the Sycamore community has come to the aid of starving children through supporting a local mobile pack event in Sycamore named “Make A Difference DKC.” Feed My Starving Children is a not-for-profit organization that distributes meals to starving children in 70 countries across the world.

The meals were developed by scientists, specially formulated to reverse and prevent malnutrition. The meals are sent to selected missions and humanitarian agencies worldwide who use them to supply orphanages, schools, health care facilities, community feeding programs and other institutions intervening in severe poverty.

This year’s goal is to raise $165,000 to purchase the food to pack 750,000 meals with the help of 4,000 local volunteers on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov 14-17. Each meal costs just $.22.

In order to raise funds, Make A Difference DKC will host a Car Raffle sponsored by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC, who donated a vehicle for the event.

The raffle will not only address starvation prevention, but it provides a means for local organizations to raise funds for their own needs. Not-for-profit organizations, clubs and groups are welcome to participate in the Make A Difference DKC Car Raffle by selling tickets. For each ticket sold, $12 will go towards food for the Make A Difference DKC Mobile Pack event, and $8 will go back to the local organization/club. Local organizations and/or clubs are encouraged to participate in this car raffle to generate funds for their own group, and save children’s lives at the same time.

For more information, contact Heidi Wright at The Suter Company, (815) 895-9186 or email hwright@suterco.com. Tickets for the Make A Difference DKC Car Raffle are just $20, which is enough to feed 90 children. The winner will get their choice of one of three brand new vehicles donated by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC: a Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Volt or Chevrolet Equinox. Illinois sales tax, title and license fees will be paid for the winner, too.

Those interested in purchasing a ticket can stop by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC located on Mercantile Drive, next to Menards, in Sycamore.

The winning ticket will be drawn on Nov. 17. The winner need not be present to win. Individuals must be 18 years old to buy, sell or own a ticket. For complete official rules, visit www.makeadifferencedkc.com/rules.

KC opens new campground in Big Rock

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DSC_0906

Photo: The Kane County Forest Preserve District recently opened the Big Rock Campground on Granart Road in Big Rock. A ribbon cutting will take place Saturday, Aug. 17, with free hot dogs and other food, giveaways and guided nature hikes. Photo by Susan O’Neill

BIG ROCK—The Kane County Forest Preserve District opened a new campground last weekend in Big Rock, within the Big Rock Forest Preserve.

The campground contains 105 camp sites including 96 improved slots, vehicle campsites with 50-amp electrical service, water access, parking pads and fire rings, and nine primitive, tent-only sites without electric access.

Four equestrian camp sites will be open in the spring of 2014. Among the sites are eight ADA-accessible slots.

Other campground amenities include a picnic shelter, restrooms, and miles of trails in the surrounding forest preserve.

The facility opened for camping on Friday, Aug. 2, and the Forest Preserve District will hold a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, to celebrate its opening. The public is invited to participate in the festivities, and will be treated to free hot dogs and other picnic fare, giveaways and guided nature hikes.

Camping will also be free for that night, as sites are available. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and vouchers will be given out for a future date, if all the sites are taken.

“Our hope is to fill the campground,” said Laurie Metanchuk, Community Affairs director for the Forest Preserve District.

Daily fees for the improved sites are $15 for Kane County residents and $25 for non-residents. Primitive/non-electric camp sites are $10 per day for residents, $15 for non-residents.

According to the Forest Preserve District website, the Big Rock Forest Preserve is an 842-acre preserve, with mature woodlands, high quality marshes, tallgrass prairie, clear-running creeks and 65-foot-deep Siegler Lake.

Formerly a limestone quarry, Siegler Lake was formed when floodwaters breached the banks of Big Rock and Welch Creeks in 1996, flooding the quarry. The result was a 32-acre lake, which currently supports a diversity of fish and aquatic wildlife. The lake is also stocked, and fishing is allowed on a catch and release basis. Swimming is not allowed.

Kane County residents have long asked for another campground, especially since the Bliss Woods Forest Preserve in Sugar Grove no longer allows camping.

The Big Rock campground was paid for with funds provided through the district’s most recent referendum in 2011, as well as $600,000 in federal and state funding administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Metanchuk said.

Big Rock Campground is located at 46W499 Granart Road, Big Rock. The district’s other campsite is the Paul Wolff Campground, located within the Burnidge Forest Preserve in Elgin, Ill.

For more information about camp site availability and conditions, call the Forest Preserve District’s camping hotline at (630) 444-1200.

Scammers try to make Obamacare confusion an opportunity for identity theft

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

CHICAGO—With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly labeled “Obamacare,” on the horizon, scammers are finding it to be the latest opportunity to steal people’s identities.

“Scammers are calling consumers claiming they are eligible for health insurance cards in exchange for personal information,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Consumers should ignore these calls because providing information puts you at risk for identity theft.”

Bernas explained the scams work like this: You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the federal government. The scammer says that you have been selected to be part of a group of Americans to receive insurance cards. But before the card can be mailed, your bank account and social security numbers are required. Once they get this information, they can sell it or use it to access your accounts.

“Affordable Care Act scammers are able to easily make consumers think that their calls are legit, especially with such a hot topic like Obamacare,” Bernas said. “Consumers need to realize that the government rarely calls individuals. If you receive this type of call, hang up.”

The BBB offers the following tips to people who experience the affordable healthcare scams:
• Hang up the phone. If you get one of these calls, just hang up. You may be tempted to call back, but this will only give the scammer another opportunity to steal your information. Also, be sure not to press any buttons that the scammer instructs.
• Never give out personal information. Never give out your bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card number or social security number.
• Don’t rely on caller ID. Some scammers are able to display a company’s name or phone number on the caller ID screen. Don’t trust that the information you see is true.
• The government rarely communicates via phone calls. Most of the time, the government uses traditional snail mail to communicate to consumers. The government rarely calls, emails or texts, so don’t give your information to these types of government messages.

For more tips and information about affordable healthcare scams, visit www.BBBit.org.

Car raffle to support Feed My Starving Children and local organizations

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SYCAMORE, ILL.—With over 6,200 children under the age of 5 dying every day due to starvation, it’s time to take action. Over the last four years, the Sycamore community has come to the aid of starving children through supporting a local mobile pack event in Sycamore named “Make A Difference DKC.” Feed My Starving Children is a not-for-profit organization that distributes meals to starving children in 70 countries across the world.

The meals were developed by scientists, specially formulated to reverse and prevent malnutrition. The meals are sent to selected missions and humanitarian agencies worldwide who use them to supply orphanages, schools, health care facilities, community feeding programs and other institutions intervening in severe poverty.

This year’s goal is to raise $165,000 to purchase the food to pack 750,000 meals with the help of 4,000 local volunteers on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov 14-17. Each meal costs just $.22.

In order to raise funds, Make A Difference DKC will host a Car Raffle sponsored by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC, who donated a vehicle for the event.

The raffle will not only address starvation prevention, but it provides a means for local organizations to raise funds for their own needs. Not-for-profit organizations, clubs and groups are welcome to participate in the Make A Difference DKC Car Raffle by selling tickets. For each ticket sold, $12 will go towards food for the Make A Difference DKC Mobile Pack event, and $8 will go back to the local organization/club. Local organizations and/or clubs are encouraged to participate in this car raffle to generate funds for their own group, and save children’s lives at the same time.

For more information, contact Heidi Wright at The Suter Company, (815) 895-9186 or email hwright@suterco.com. Tickets for the Make A Difference DKC Car Raffle are just $20, which is enough to feed 90 children. The winner will get their choice of one of three brand new vehicles donated by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC: a Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Volt or Chevrolet Equinox. Illinois sales tax, title and license fees will be paid for the winner, too.

Those interested in purchasing a ticket can stop by DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet Cadillac GMC located on Mercantile Drive, next to Menards, in Sycamore.

The winning ticket will be drawn on Nov. 17. The winner need not be present to win. Individuals must be 18 years old to buy, sell or own a ticket. For complete official rules, visit www.makeadifferencedkc.com/rules.

KC Health Department celebrates National Immunization Awareness Month

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KANE COUNTY—To celebrate the importance of immunizations throughout life—and to help remind young adults that they need vaccines, too—the Kane County Health Department will participate in National Immunization Awareness Month. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure young adults are protected against diseases like flu, whooping cough, tetanus and HPV.

The month-long promotion is structured to highlight the importance of immunizations for a different population each week of the month:
• Week one: “Off to College” (young adults age 19-26)
• Week two: “Back to School” (children, pre-teens and teens to age18)
• Week three: “Not Just for Kids” (adults age 26+)
• Week four: A Healthy Start (babies from birth to age 2 and pregnant women)
The specific vaccines adults need are determined by factors such as age, lifestyle, risk conditions, locations of travel, and previous vaccines. All adults should talk to their health care providers about what vaccines are right for them.

Immunizations are not just for children. Even healthy young adults need protection against vaccine-preventable diseases. Throughout the month of August, the Health Department will highlight the importance of immunizations for children, students and adults. Follow the Health Department on Twitter (@KaneCoHealth) and Facebook for all the latest information.

To find out which vaccines might be right for you and where you can get vaccinated, call (866) 233-9493 or visit www.kanehealth.com/immunizations.htm.

July in Illinois: cool, dry

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CHAMPAIGN, ILL.—The statewide average temperature for July in Illinois was 73.3 degrees, 2 degrees below the 1981-2010 average. It currently ranks as the 19th coolest July on record, dating back to 1895, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, at the Illinois State Water Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.

In comparison, last year’s average temperature in July was 81.8 degrees. Illinois was experiencing a heat wave and drought at that time.

The statewide average precipitation for this July was 2.74 inches, 1.31 inches below the 1981-2010 average. It currently ranks as the 29th driest July on record.

Despite the dry July, the statewide total precipitation for 2013 stands at 31.4 inches at the end of July and 7.61 inches above the 1981-2010 average. It is the second wettest January-July. The wettest January-July was set just a few years ago: 2008, with 32.52 inches.

The rainfall in July was unevenly distributed across the state. Much of central and northern Illinois were 1 to 3 inches below average, while southern Illinois was several inches above average.

Mt. Vernon reported the highest monthly total precipitation in the state with 9.42 inches, followed closely by Olney with 9.15 inches. On the dry side, Joliet, Ill., reported one of the lowest monthly totals with .63 inches along with .72 inches in Pontiac, Ill., and .77 inches in Kankakee, Ill.

The wet spring and cool July have both helped to reduce the impacts of the dry weather so far in July but conditions will be watched closely in August.

West Nile virus activity reported in KC

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KANE COUNTY—The first evidence of West Nile virus activity in Kane County has been found.

A batch of mosquitoes collected in a trap administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health near Algonquin, Ill., has tested positive for the disease.

First evidence of West Nile typically occurs in July or August. Although this is the first evidence in Kane County, 17 Illinois counties have seen either birds and/or mosquitoes test positive so far this year.

The Health Department monitors for WNV activity in your area. Anyone can visit www.kanehealth.com/wnv_surveillance.htm to view a map of the Health Department’s trap locations throughout the county.

Also as part of its West Nile program, the Health Department is collecting dead birds to be sent to the state lab for testing. Call (630) 444-3040 to report the presence of freshly-dead birds (such as crows or blue jays) to determine if West Nile Virus testing is recommended. The birds must not show any signs of decay or trauma.

Last year, an especially hot and dry summer, Kane County had 13 human cases of the illness. View more detailed monitoring results from previous years by visiting www.kanehealth.com/west_nile.htm.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three-to-14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis, meningitis and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

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

Illinois continues to make strides in reducing flood risks

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AURORA—Flooding accounts for more than 90 percent of declared disasters in Illinois. And it is no wonder—Illinois has one of the largest inland systems of rivers, lakes and streams in the United States with nearly 15 percent of its total land area flood prone.

To protect its residents, most counties and communities have adopted and enforce floodplain management ordinances that prevent new development from increasing flood heights and take actions that reduce the risk of future flooding.

“In Illinois, 82 counties and 770 communities have adopted floodplain ordinances,” said W. Michael Moore, FEMA federal coordinating officer. “While much of the attention for flood insurance is focused on Gulf and Atlantic coast states, state officials here have made a tremendous effort and we applaud them. But, more needs to be done to help residents understand the risks they face.”

Moore, along with state officials, is assisting in the recovery effort from the most recent disaster that occurred this spring affecting 47 counties in the state.

Floods are an inevitable force of nature. But development in those vulnerable areas that doesn’t take into account the potential for floods is a prescription for property damage and even loss of life.

To aid local communities, FEMA and state officials periodically identify areas vulnerable to flooding. Maps are reviewed by local officials and residents.

When vulnerable areas are first identified, local governments must take action by adopting floodplain ordinances within one year. They must also enforce the regulations that set standards for building or repairing structures in the floodplain.

In exchange, communities become eligible to join the National Flood Insurance Program, which enables home and business owners as well as renters to purchase flood insurance. To date, more than 3,500 NFIP flood insurance claims have been filed for the April 16 to May 5 flooding event.

Residents also are eligible for disaster aid, which so far amounts to $129.8 million, and communities are eligible for mitigation grants.

Communities that develop more stringent floodplain ordinances can become eligible for discounted flood insurance premiums. Forty-five Illinois communities are eligible for these reduced rates.

Communities where the floodplains have been mapped but take no action, failed to comply with their floodplain ordinances or dropped out of the program are called sanctioned. In addition to being ineligible for flood insurance and certain federal grants or loans, other consequences will apply.

Federal mortgage insurance or guarantees for loans from, for example, the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veteran affairs may not be provided in identified flood hazard areas. Also, banks, credit unions and other federally-insured financial institutions may refrain from making home loans for similarly situated houses in sanctioned communities.

Sanctioned communities can be reinstated—the first step is to adopt the floodplain ordinance.

The state of Illinois estimates that more than 250,000 structures are located in floodplain areas. Since 1993, nearly half of these structures have been mitigated, saving taxpayers millions of dollars every year. FEMA and the state are dedicated to continue these efforts that will save lives and property.

To find out more about the National Flood Insurance Program go to www.floodsmart.gov.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Photos: Cole’s Crew takes to the streets

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Julie and Dan Rutter of Sugar Grove organized, and then facilitated this year’s Chicago NF (neurofibromatosis) Walk, which was held at Gunnar Anderson Forest Preserve in Geneva this past Saturday. They partnered with The Children’s Tumor Foundation, the
leading non-profit funding source of NF research in the world. Julie and Dan’s son Cole, a Freshman at Kaneland High School this fall, has the disease. The event included a 5k run/walk, gift basket raffle, games, face painting and food donated by Paisano’s Pizza and Grill of Elburn, The Hot Dog Lady (Michelle Pritchard) of Sugar Grove, and several other suppliers in the Fox Valley area.

Unincorporated St. Charles man killed in vehicle crash

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BLACKBERRY TWP.—The Kane County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating a single-vehicle fatal traffic crash that occurred on June 26 near the intersection of Route 47 and Rowe Road in unincorporated Blackberry Township.

The initial investigation indicates that a 2002 Chevrolet Suburban was traveling south on Route 47 at a high rate of speed. For reasons unknown, the vehicle crossed the center line of the road and went off onto the northbound shoulder of the roadway and the back onto the roadway. The vehicle then began to roll and the driver was ejected from the vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle, Mark Detoni, 54, of the 39W700 block of Gunpowder Lane in unincorporated St. Charles, was transported to Delnor Hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

Route 47 was closed between Rowe Road and Kenmar Drive for approximately two hours while the crash was investigated. Investigators have not determined if drugs or alcohol played a role in this crash. It does not appear that Detoni was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

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