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Big Rock electric solicitations unassociated with county aggregation

in Big Rock by

BIG ROCK TWP.—Residents in Big Rock Township have recently experienced door-to-door solicitations from energy companies, leading to questions as to whether or not one of these companies is the provider that was contracted by Kane County for the electrical power aggregation program.

Kane County has not yet selected an electrical supplier for residents and small businesses in the unincorporated area, and any door-to-door solicitation by any electrical supplier is not associated with the Kane County electrical power aggregation program.

Kane County is currently in the process of hiring Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative (NIMEC) as the utility consultant to lead the county in seeking a lower electric rate for residents. It will be a minimum of two to three months before NIMEC will initiate the bidding process for electric rates, and Kane County will still have the option at that time to not move forward with the aggregation program if NIMEC is unable to secure an electric rate lower than ComEd’s current rate.

If a lower electric rate is secured, all eligible residents and small businesses in unincorporated Kane County will receive information in the mail identifying the electric supplier. No representative from the Kane County electrical power aggregation program will contact residents at their doors. Residents should also be aware that the county, and any supplier the county may select, will never ask residents for their ComEd account number and residents should never give their ComEd account number to any solicitor.

If you want to avoid solicitations from electric providers, place a “No Solicitors” sign by your front door. If you have a sign posted and the solicitor persists, you may call the Kane County Sheriff non-emergency line, (630) 232-6840.

We are the (culinary) champions

in Big Rock/Regional/Sugar Grove by
The fourth stage of the Culinary Champions competition was held Jan. 14 at the Sugar Grove American Legion. Lauren Robin (center) of the Illinois Restaurant Association presents a carmel apple burger to the panel of judges, including Sandwich Mayor Rick Olson (left to right), Executive Chef Steve Langlois of the Hyatt Lodge on the McDonald Campus in Oak Brook, Ill., Big Rock Village President Dean Hummell and guest judge Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels. 
Photo retrieved from Aurora Area Convention Center and Visitor’s Bureau Facebook page
The fourth stage of the Culinary Champions competition was held Jan. 14 at the Sugar Grove American Legion. Lauren Robin (center) of the Illinois Restaurant Association presents a carmel apple burger to the panel of judges, including Sandwich Mayor Rick Olson (left to right), Executive Chef Steve Langlois of the Hyatt Lodge on the McDonald Campus in Oak Brook, Ill., Big Rock Village President Dean Hummell and guest judge Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels.  Photo retrieved from Aurora Area Convention Center and Visitor’s Bureau Facebook page
The fourth stage of the Culinary Champions competition was held Jan. 14 at the Sugar Grove American Legion. Lauren Robin (center) of the Illinois Restaurant Association presents a carmel apple burger to the panel of judges, including Sandwich Mayor Rick Olson (left to right), Executive Chef Steve Langlois of the Hyatt Lodge on the McDonald Campus in Oak Brook, Ill., Big Rock Village President Dean Hummell and guest judge Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels.
Photo retrieved from Aurora Area Convention Center and Visitor’s Bureau Facebook page

Local restaurants vie to win 10-stage food competition
SUGAR GROVE—Working together to bring more tourism to the Aurora greater area, the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has been hard at work with its latest idea: the ‘Culinary Champions’ competition.

Consisting of 10 restaurants from the cities of Aurora, Batavia, Big Rock, Hinckley, Montgomery, North Aurora, Plano, Sandwich, Sugar Grove and Yorkville, the competition boasts a lot of competitors and just as many challenges. From seafood to desserts, the championship consists of 10 contests total.

The most recent competition was held Jan. 14 at the Sugar Grove American Legion.

“We mentioned at one of the meetings that something that brings people to travel is food, so we decided to have a monthly culinary competition in each city,” Sugar Grove trustee Rick Montalto said. “So for 10 months there will be a food competition. The first month was in Hinckley and was steaks. This last one—the fourth one—was in Sugar Grove, and (involved) burgers.”

As with any competition, there are rules. All participants must be a sit-down restaurant located in one of the 10 cites that make up the greater Aurora area. The food presented at the competition must be an item that can be order at anytime. Nothing is made special for the competition.

Also, the competition cannot be held at any of the restaurants involved, giving each competitor the same chance for victory.

The judges for each event rotate between the presidents of each town or village, and include a guest judge, as well.

“Last (week), our judges were the Sugar Grove President (Sean Michels), the president of Big Rock (Dean Hummell) and the mayor of Sandwich (Rick Olson)” Montalto said.

At the dessert competition in March, there will also be a guest judge in the form of chef Gale Gand.

Also involved in these competitions is the Illinois Restaurant Association, which determines portion sizes for each competitor, creates judging criteria and tabulates the voting.

“There are different ratings for food: presentation, taste and several others,” Montalto said.

After a blind taste test and some voting by the judges, the Illinois Restaurant Association announces the winner. So far, Raimondo’s Pizza and Pub of North Aurora is in the lead, winning both best pizza and best ethnic food.

“Not only does (this competition) drum up business, but it gives each restaurant bragging rights,” Montalto said.

In addition to bragging rights, the overall winning restaurant will also have the distinction of $3,000 of free advertisement. The advertisement will come in the form of ads in the Illinois Restaurant Association’s monthly magazine and other various news sources.

“It’s a great way to bring the communities together,” Montalto said of the event.

Volunteers prepare for Halloween Fest’s 25th year

in Big Rock by
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BIG ROCK—The haunted house that started in one room in Sugar Grove has grown to include two haunted houses, a haunted trail, games, entertainment and food for the whole family at Plowman’s Park in Big Rock. And this year, Halloween Fest will celebrate 25 years of scary fun.

The event is set for 5 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25.

“This is our give-back to the community,” Colleen Franks said.

Colleen and her husband, Gene, started the event in a school classroom when he served on the parks committee in Sugar Grove.

“Everyone else was involved with sports, so Gene suggested a haunted house,” Colleen said. “The walls were made out of cardboard and plastic.”
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After outgrowing several locations, the event moved to Plowman’s Park in 2001. Construction of the haunted house—and less scary kiddie haunted house added in 2006—takes place during the weekends between the Big Rock Plowing Match and Halloween for the one-day festival.

“The intent of the haunted house is to scare by surprise, and there are many opportunities for surprise,” said Charlene, the Franks’ daughter-in-law. “This is a unique event that’s not put on by an organization. It’s run strictly by volunteers, with donations for everything, so the event is free. It’s a fun place for parents to take their kids.”
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Colleen said donations are accepted, but any funds collected are used to pay for the food and the party.

The organizers estimate the fest brings in about 3,000 people each year. Many return year after year, and that’s because the haunted house is different every year.

“My husband and I provide the theme. We design both haunted houses and provide props and costumes and sound effects,” Colleen said.
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“It’s a lot of work for just one day,” Charlene admitted, but more than a hundred volunteers return each year, too. “Some parts of it, we work on all year long, but the actual building can’t start until after the plowing match.”

Four generations of the Franks family have worked on the festival.

“Mom is 85, so she won’t be out there this year,” Colleen said. “We have six children and eight grandchildren, and they’ve all been involved at one time or another.”
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She said Charlene was just dating their oldest son the first year of the festival; they eventually married, and she’s still part of the volunteer crew.

Colleen said this may be the last year for the haunted house, because she and Gene are retiring from the event.

“There won’t be a haunted house unless someone steps up to volunteer,” Colleen said.
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For more information on how to donate, volunteer or just join in the fun, visit www.halloween-fest.com.

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