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  • bb crs lawsuit photo.jpg
    Rescue Squad sues Fire District 3 over ambulance service
    Oct. 23, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - The Capron Rescue Squad District (CRS) has filed a lawsuit against North Boone Fire Protection District 3, saying it violated state law by purchasing an ambulance without asking voters for approval.
    Documents on file at the Boone County Courthouse show CRS is asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction against the fire department, to stop it from providing ambulance service on the north side of the county until after the referendum is held.
    In addition, CRS is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting District 3 from "providing ambulance services that do not arise in connection with fire protection duties.
    "We want to be sure everyone is following the law," said Owen Costanza, president of the CRS district, as to the reason for the suit.
    "We've contacted our lawyer and he's working on it," said Ray Morse, president of the District 3 Board of Trustees.
    "It's all about money to them," he said of the rescue squad. "Nowhere (in the suit) was public safety or the well-being of the public mentioned. That was disappointing to me."
    Meanwhile, District 3 has assembled a crew for its new ambulance, which soon will be ready for the state inspection, he said.
    The suit alleges that District 3 is in violation of 70 ILCS 705/22, which states it must submit to referendum the question of whether to provide ambulance service other than for life-saving and rescue operations, which might arise in connection with fire protection duties of a district. 
    It states further that the CRS District "will be irreparably harmed by the operation of an un-authorized ambulance service within the district it serves due to a town-turn in revenue."
    "The providing of ambulance service is highly regulated by the Illinois Department of Public Health and if an un-authorized ambulance service is allowed to operate, the IDPH will not be able to conducting proper licensing of the paramedics and EMTs (emergency medical technicians), leading to potential harm to the citizens of Boone County," he states.
    The suit was filed by Jim Hursh, attorney for the CRS District.
    CRS has been providing ambulance service to a 144-square-mile area of northern Boone County since 1957. The district, from which tax revenue is collected for the service, covers the unincorporated area plus the villages of Capron, Caledonia, Poplar Grove and Timberlane.
    CRS currently has three ambulances with stations in downtown Capron and on Poplar Grove Road in Poplar Grove. It plans to build a third station on the south side of Candlewick Lake, off Caledonia Road.
    The Fire District 3 station is located at the corner of Illinois 173 and Hill Street in Poplar Grove.

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    Pottinger, Hearne return to the sidelines to honor Bucs football
    Oct. 22, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – Joe Glickenberger, Tyler Mason, Jerry Rowe and Doug Sims were honored during halftime at the Belvidere Bucs football game on Oct. 17. The group was inducted into the Buc football hall of fame. The group was surrounded by family and friends as they watched the Bucs decisive 46-18 victory over Rockford East.
    On hand to bestow the honors on the group were former Belvidere Buc football coaches Verne Pottinger and Mike Hearne. “These four individuals gave their heart and soul to Belvidere football over the years,” Hearne said during the halftime ceremony.
    Pottinger recalled Jerry Rowe as being “one of our best fans.”
    “There is probably not one man in this town that supported Belvidere football more than Jerry Rowe,” Hearne added. Rowe, who wore #38 on his jersey and is a member of the IOU Club, was one of the founders of Belvidere Junior Tackle program.  Hearne told the crowd that Rowe was the first to help if the team needed anything and went as far as buying shoes for athletes who needed them.
    Lifetime season ticket holders and booster club members with his wife Carol, Rowe was honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. “I was honored that they would go back that far,” Rowe said. “I didn’t think people would remember.”
    Rowe was a three year starter on the high school football team and was a three sport athlete. A graduate of the Class of 1954, Rowe won the Ed Huck award for outstanding senior male athlete while in high school. He was inducted into the National Athletic Scholarship Society and the All Millennium team.  Rowe played offensive end, defensive end, and defensive corner. “Back in those days you played wherever they needed you,” Rowe said.
    Rowe was pleased to see Sims, Mason and Glickenberger honored. “It made me feel really good because they all came up through the Belvidere Junior Tackle program,” Rowe said.
    Rowe was at the game with his former cheerleader wife Carol and their daughters Diane and Karen and many of their four grandsons and three great grandchildren.
    “Some of us were together since third grade,” Glickenberger #31 said of his teammates from the Class of 1981. “We started at the YMCA in flag football and went through the Belvidere system. We all played in it (Belvidere Junior Tackle),” Glickenberger said.
    Perhaps inspired by his days at Belvidere Junior Tackle, Glickenberger paid it forward for youths in the northern end of the county.  “He started two different junior tackle programs in North Boone with his own money and is a tribute to their football program like he had people contribute to football here at Belvidere,” Hearne said.
    A running back and a member of the 1,000 yard club with 6.9 yards per carry, Glickenberger credited his success to the strong linemen that surrounded him. “Super linemen that I was surrounded by and the blocking running backs and a really strong group,” Glickenberger said. “I was lucky to be there.”
    “This guy can turn nothing into something. That’s what he did. It was great to watch him run,” John Lamont said. “Most of the time I was blocking someone and I would see him run by me.”
    Hearne recalled a game in which Glickenberger was running towards an almost certain touchdown. “He got to the 10 yard line and it looked like he was going to score and he had one guy to beat. Instead of trying to outrun him he decided to take him on. The kid tried to take him on and tackle him,” Hearne said. “He (Glickenberger) picked him (the defender) up and carried him into the end zone.”
    “I always remember what kind of a runner he was,” Pottinger said. He ran with his knees so high that he punished people.”
    Although the Bucs won their first conference championship in 1983, they had the potential for the title in the 1980 season had they not gotten out to a rough start. “Our senior year we started off 0-3 because we kept making penalties,” Lamont recalled of Glickenberger’s senior year. “We won the last 7 games. The first three games we had over a hundred and something yards a game in penalties. It just wiped us out.”
    Glickenberger was at the game with his wife and girlfriend Maureen and their three children Kayla, Sarah and Danny and a large group of friends. After graduating from high school, Glickenberger played football for Rock Valley College before taking a job at Chrysler in their tool and die shop.
    “In 1983 we won our first conference championship,” Pottinger recalled. “We got in the second round of the playoffs.”
    A member of the 1983 team was #67, Tyler Mason who was a starter on his college team, Valparaiso University.
    “I would really like to dedicate this to  #66 class of 1962 my dad and #67 class of 1991 and my teammates and coaches,” Mason said in honoring his father Larry and his brother Tory.
    “He told me his highest honor was being voted team captain his senior year in college,” Hearne said. “That tells you what kind of player he is having that as his highest accomplishment in college.”
    After graduation from the Division 2 Valparaiso, Mason was invited to attend the 1988 NFL Scouting Combine.  Valpo’s D-2 status when he was a collegiate athlete “made it more special when I went to the Combine,” he said.
    He was invited to attend a free agent tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers before eventually playing professional football for a year with the London Olympians as an offensive guard and coach.
    Mason lives with his wife Tammi in the Milwaukee area.
    Doug Sims #40 was a 1,000 yard club for rushing in both his junior and senior years. “That is something that has only been done two times in the history of Belvidere,” Hearne said. “He is the number 13 guy in all-time rushing yards in NIC-10 history.”
    “He ran people over. Amazingly he had some very, very good linemen and offensive guards and he was a very good ball player,” Pottinger praised the 1992 graduate.
    “I used to knock people down. I enjoyed it, Sims admitted. “I wasn’t fast by any means. If I didn’t have good blocking in front of me I muscled through it anyway.”
    Sims brought a football with him today and asked the coaches, the other hall of fame athletes and others to sign the ball. He already had plans
    After graduating high school, Sims played football for Rock Valley College and later for College of St. Francis in Joliet. While still in college, Sims took a job at Chrysler. “I thought I would use their tuition assistance to get through college and I am still there 19 years later,” Sims said.
    He is married to his wife Dawn and they have two children, Madison and Parker.
    “It is a special night. I am glad these guys are having so much fun with each other,” Hearne said. “The football program has always been so special. It is nice for our school and our program. It is a nice honor for those kids and it brings back the memories.”
    “I like to come back every year to see all of the people the memories are so good,” Pottinger agreed.

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    World War I poster collection reflects an age gone by
    Oct. 21, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE - When Lonna Bentley arrived to open the Boone County Historical Museum on Wednesday morning, there was a bus filled with 30 visitors already waiting in the parking lot. Surprised, the museum’s archivist wondered why museum director Mary Hale didn’t her that a tour group was coming through that day.
    A member of the group read an Aug. 19 article in the Belvidere Daily Republican about the museum’s upcoming World War I exhibit of war posters and they patiently waited nearly two months until the exhibit’s opening day arrived. Their early arrival signaled that they were not about to wait one minute longer. They were on a mission.
    “They were here for three hours. They were ecstatic,” Bentley said. “They loved the posters and then they started to get involved in the museum.”
    “They had a ball. They were hysterical,” said Bentley who seemed to have enjoyed the group’s visit to the museum as much as they did.
    The group toured the 53 World War I political posters that were from the New Process Electro Corporation. The rare collection of James Cartoons was created as wartime propaganda and reflects the era and attitude of one hundred years ago. As an example a caricature that is dressed like Aladdin represents the Turkish Sultan Mehmed Reshad. Kaiser Wilhelm from Germany is portrayed wearing a Pickelhaube spiked hat.
    The posters also reflect a history lesson of sacrifices that were made on both the warfront as well as the home front. In a poster titled “Workless Mondays” Uncle Sam is holding a piece of paper in his hand that says “Garfield closing order” as he points to a blackboard and says “these are the ten Mondays the government is asking you to give up in order that we can catch up with the war requirement.”
    Garfield refers to Fuel Administrator Harry Garfield.
    Even prior to the war, the country experienced coal shortages and the Federal Fuel Administration was organized to ensure a steady supply of coal for the military, industry and consumers.  Americans were asked not to work each Monday from Jan 21 through Mar. 25, 1918. In the poster, a merchant is seen saying “No blue Monday for me. I’ll make mine a red white and blue Monday by cooperating with Uncle Sam.”
    Also referenced in the cartoon is Meatless Mondays.  During the war, 13 million Americans signed a pledge to aid the war effort by going meatless Monday and wheatless Wednesday. The U.S. Food administration urged families to reduce consumption of key staples because “food will win the war.”
    In a bit of humor in the cartoon, a forlorn man is seen sitting on the edge of the stage. “Gee whiz! I always did stay home on Mondays to get over the effects from Sunday. Must I now stay home on Tuesday to get over the effects of Monday,” he laments.
    A note on the bottom of the poster says “this establishment advocates that you devote your spare Mondays to doing your bit for the boys who are fighting our battles in Europe.”
    Remnants of the Fuel Administration still exist when the North America, Europe and other parts of the world spring ahead or fall back for daylight time. This year, daylight savings time will end on Nov. 2.
    The cartoons are unabashedly patriotic and do not mince words against the enemy.  “WWI propaganda posters were everywhere.  Other than newspapers, this was the only source of information and it was what the government wanted the public to know.  At that time, war information could take days and even weeks to reach our shores,” Bentley said.
     “Each poster has a different theme but all were meant to feed information on the war and entice patrons to shop at that establishment. Several in this collection focus on the sale of War Savings Stamps and Liberty Bonds,” Bentley said. “The posters are first run and not reproductions and are believed to have hung in JR Balliet's store in Belvidere, Illinois as several of them have his name on the bottom as well as a few handwritten messages.” Visitors to the museum can tour the 53 posters.  A sign next to each poster described the contents and activities of each poster.
    The posters are in remarkably good shape considering their age and storage history.  They were recently found in a tube among the museum’s archives. “There had never been a reason to open a tube we had marked WW2 Posters until I was planning the Veterans Exhibit that just concluded.  I was hopeful there was something I could use.  However, when I investigated tube and unrolled the posters, I did not have anything related to WW2, but instead discovered I had WW1 Cartoons,” Bentley said. 
    In addition to viewing the posters at the museum, they can be viewed online through the museum’s website at www.bchmuseum.org and clicking on the link for the Rare WWI James Cartoon posters.
    Among the first visitors of the exhibit was Alan Roloff from the DeKalb County Forest Preserve. Roloff, himself a veteran, was at the museum to view the log cabin on display. “We are rebuilding a cabin similar to the one in here. We came here to get a few ideas,” Roloff said. “It is in a state of semi-completion. We still need to put in the windows and doors. We just wanted to see how they did it here and to see how they did the stairway. The way they did the stairway was different than what I would have thought it was earlier.”
    The log cabin will be part of the Hoppe Heritage Homestead on Rt. 72 in DeKalb. The log cabin is significant because it was built by the father in-law of Isaac Elwood, the barbed wire baron of the United States.
    Residents will have several special reasons to visit the collection of posters before the exhibit closes on Nov. 15. The museum will hold its Trash or Treasure event on Nov. 8 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
    Visitors to the museum can bring an item to be appraised for a $6 donation. Professional appraisers from a broad range of expertise will assess the value of residents’ artifacts. The event is sponsored by financial advisors Eric Dahl and Shawn Rooney from Edward Jones.
    We are excited for the public to be able to come in and have professional appraisers for their family heirlooms,” Museum president Don Banks said.
    “We are happy with the exposure for the museum and the opportunity to allow people to have professionals look at their artifacts,” board treasurer Dick Stegemann added.
    Perhaps it is fitting that the collection of World War I James Cartoon posters is on display now as Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. The holiday was originally called Armistice Day and celebrated the end of World War I.
    The holiday celebrates and honors all veterans all veterans either living or dead.  The Veterans Day parade will step off exactly at 9:30 a.m. from Parking Lot 5 by City Hall in Belvidere and will proceed to the State Street Bridge where Gold Star Sisters will cast the wreath upon the Kishwaukee River. Bob Ryder, superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Boone County will be this year’s speaker.
    As for the first group to tour the exhibit, they left the museum to dine at the Steam Plant Restaurant. “One of the guys said that he would be back in five minutes,” Bentley said that the man added that his quick return reflected how much he enjoyed the exhibit.
    The Boone County Historical Museum is located at 314 S. State Street in Belvidere.
    Lisa Rodgers contributed to this story.

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    School district, teachers reach tentative contract agreement
    Oct. 19, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – Belvidere School District 100 and the Belvidere Education Association (BEA) reached a tentative agreement on Tuesday, Oct. 14 following a five hour negotiation session with a federal mediator. The settlement was reached after 90 hours of face-to-face negotiations since mid-June. 
    The teachers held a membership meeting at the Apollo Banquet Hall on Oct. 15 and voted to ratify the agreement. According to a status update shared on the BEA’s Facebook page, the contract was ratified with a vote of 387-62. The School Board will vote on the contract at its Oct. 20 meeting. A large crowd is expected to attend the Oct. 20 meeting as the School Board is also set to discuss the Career Academy Expo and Vocation Magnet School Recommendations.
    Before Tuesday’s negotiating meeting, the teachers held a show of unity by picketing at various locations throughout Belvidere. “Today was an entire demonstration of a show of solidarity across the district. The middle schools were before school. The high schools and grade schools demonstrated after school, some of them meeting at the state street bridge with then we all met up here (at the district office) after that,” Andy Werhane said.
    “The teachers are maybe a bit weary but we are united and strong and we feel good about supporting our negotiating team to get a fair contract.”
    On Tuesday afternoon, elementary as elementary school teachers picketed on the State Street Bridge in Belvidere, several passing motorists honked their horn in support of the teachers. At least one driver expressed a different sentiment and gave the teachers a one finger salute as he drove past.

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    Millenium Mural tells the stories of Boone County
    Oct. 16, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – The Millenium Mural got a new look on Oct. 12. The original mural was painted in oil 14 years ago by Bill Hueg and was badly fading. Hueg recreated the mural on a lightweight canvas. The new mural was made possible from a bequest from Marjorie Blietz.
    The original mural and the new mural were painted with oil pants. “It’s my favorite medium,” said St. Paul, Minn. Muralist Bill Hueg. “We knew it wouldn’t last.”
    The new mural was photographed and digitally printed on 12 aluminum composite panels by Jay Allen’s ShawCraft Sign Co. on aluminum composite panels.  This procedure will ensure that the mural may be refreshed again.
    “This is a great day in the city and a great day for the city for generations to come,” Belvidere mayor Mike Chamberlain said.
    When the Millennium Mural was originally commissioned, the direction was to select the most notable items that represented Boone County in the past 100 years. The images that were selected were the 1967 tornado, the crowning of Judi Ford Nash as Miss America, the Boone County Fair, the Chrysler plant and farming.
    The 1967 tornado is represented through the haunting image of John and Kathy Fitch, Connie Jeanblanc, Judy Hage, Linda, Donna, Paul, Ann and Harry Wennmacher huddled as a group as they leave Belvidere High School and make their way towards a waiting ambulance.
    To the right of the image of the group are the countless unidentified volunteers who helped clean up in the aftermath of the tornado.  It is appropriate that one of the volunteers is shown wearing his Belvidere Bucs letterman jacket. After the tornado struck on Apr. 21, 1967, members of the Bucs football team quickly organized themselves to use cafeteria tables as makeshift gurneys to transport many of the tornado victims.
    In the forefront of the image is the Milky Way Donut Shop which was one of the many businesses and homes that were destroyed by the tornado. Diners dove under the counter and tables for safety when the tornado struck. Reflecting the power and mercy of a tornado, the shop was destroyed and napkin dispensers remained on the counters.
    It has been said that the Beatles helped America recover from the depression of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  Judi Ford Nash is the Belvidere equivalent of the Beatles.   A 1967 graduate of Belvidere High School, her crowning as Miss America in 1969 helped Belvidere emotionally recover from the aftermath of the tornado and gave the county a new definition.
    Nash’s image in the dress she wore when she was crowned Miss America is next to the tornado image in the mural.
    To the right of Nash is an image of harness racing at the Boone County Fair when it was held at Spencer Park.
    The Chrysler Assembly Plant including images of the water tower and the 1965 Plymouth Fury are the next images depicted in the mural.
    The next image shown is the Gallano farm on Newburg Road as farming is the largest industry in Boone County. “Farming is Boone County’s largest industry,” Sherry Lindquist, from the Boone County Arts Council said. “It is the rich farmland that brought settlers here in the 1830s. It is our most valuable asset today. Remember when the KB land sold a few years ago at $8,500 acres. The early homesteaders paid 1.25 an acre. Farming and the spinoff industries dairy, Deans foods the canning industry, General Mills and now the grain farming and agribusiness is Boone County’s largest industry.”
    The final image is of Ed Dooley, Bud and John Gallano.  The image of Ed Dooley representing was also patterned after Hugh Funderburg. Funderburg worked as a supervisor at KB Farms. Through his ownership of Belvidere Bank “he virtually saved Belvidere from the Depression when all of the other banks failed,” Lindquist said.
    Many of those on the mural attended the rededication ceremony on Oct. 12.  “I was very honored 14 years ago when they wanted to put me on the Millennium Mural,” Nash said. “I am honored to be back.”
    “It is always nice to come back here and be nostalgic.”
    John Fitch, Donna, Linda and Ann Wennmacher came to participate in the rededication ceremony and recalled that fateful day in which their image was captured by the photographer.
    The tornado struck so suddenly that Fitch was unable to make it to safety. His sister Kathy Loy raced into the back of John Hage’s car with several other students. Fitch was outside of his father’s car holding on for dear life as the tornado ripped through the area.
    He and the Wennmachers were unaware that they were being photographed. His concern was on his sister who had a large gash in her leg.
    “There was way too much going on,” agreed Donna Wennmacher.
    “The first time we realized that it had been taken was when we were told it was in the world book,” Ann Wennmacher said.
    “The first time I thought it was important was when my daughter came home from the museum and said ‘mom your photo is in the museum,’” Linda Wennmacher added.
    Although when many see the image of the group, they feel the passion of the day. The Wennmachers remember the passion of the day along with other odd little personal details that are firmly etched in their memories. Donna’s paisley dress….Linda’s St. James plaid uniform….a pair of eyeglasses….the Hail Mary. Little brother Paul was wearing his favorite Army cap. Paul’s had four stars on it, but one star flew off in the tornado and young Paul was very upset about the missing star.
    Donna’s glasses were ripped off of her face during the storm and they landed safely in Elgin. Because she had attended an all-girls school in Rockford, her glasses were labelled with her name. Someone who read their names in the newspaper returned her undamaged glasses to her. Donna was grateful that her poor eyesight prevented her from fully seeing the initial carnage.
    “I remember my mom saying the Hail Mary over and over,” Linda Wennmacher recalled.
    It was through fortune that the Wennmachers were not on the bus that day.  Typically five of the children would have been on the bus.  “We were the farm kids and the St. James kids on the public school bus. So they always picked on us.” Linda recalled.  Two weeks prior to the tornado, younger brother John was picked on by some of the other children. “We took care of it.”
    Taking care of it resulted in the Wennmacher family being kicked off of the bus.
    “There would have been five of us on the bus. My dad always said one of us would have been hurt or killed if we had been on that bus,” Donna Wennmacher added.
    The Wennmachers credited the bus driver on what would have been their bus for sacrificing his own life in saving many children that day. “The bus driver who was killed had been on a medical leave and wasn’t supposed to be driving the bus that day. They called him in that day and he said ‘I’m not driving So and So is supposed to drive.’ And they told him ‘no he is sick today you have to come in.’ He lost his life,” Linda recalled. “He saved a lot of kids that day.”
    During the tornado, Donna and Linda Wennmacher ran into a house and threw themselves on the ground. When the storm ended, the house around them was gone. They saw the woman of the house and a small girl. The girl was wearing nothing but training pants and they surmised that the mom grabbed her napping daughter from her crib and raced down the stairs.
    After the Wennmacher girls were reunited with their mother, the little girl’s mother handed her daughter to Ann Wennmacher and wandered through the neighborhood in a daze.

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    SwedishAmerican celebrates five years in Boone County
    Oct. 15, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – SwedishAmerican Medical Center celebrated its fifth anniversary in Belvidere on Oct 9.
    Bill Gorski, president of SwedishAmerican Health System spoke of receiving a phone call from former Belvidere Mayor Fred Brereton. Brereton told him that Northwest Suburban Hospital was struggling financially and it looked like it would be closing its doors.  As an enticement, Brereton dangled the enticing tidbit that Northwest Suburban Hospital held a hospital license.
    Undoubtedly, it was one of many phone calls that Brereton made throughout the Chicago suburbs  and city of Rockford. As Brereton was about to give up hope of having quality health care in Belvidere, SwedishAmerican accepted the challenge.
    As Gorsky tells the story, in January of 2007, he received the phone call from Brereton expressing the need, in September 2007, the SwedishAmerican board approved the purchase of the facility, in December the purchase was completed, in July of 2008, remodeling began, and in April 2009, the emergency room opened its doors.  
    “There were many days that we didn’t think this day would ever come,” Brereton said.  “They make it sound so easy. One hospital went out. They remodeled and moved in. End of story.”
    “We went from a community that had two hospitals to one that did not have any.”
    Gorski admitted that the road took many twists and turns and thanked Brereton for acknowledging the challenges they faces to open the Belvidere facility. In turn, Brereton thanked Gorski for SwedishAmerican’s dedication to the community.
    Mayor Mike Chamberlain echoed his praise and gratitude of SwedishAmerican. “To be able to stand here seven years after someone decided that we were worth taking a chance on is very gratifying,” Chamberlain said. “When everyone else closed their doors and walked away and we had a community that did not have adequate health care, SwedishAmerican took the challenge and chance on us as a community. We are very grateful.”
    Daniels praised DawnaMenke, administrator of the medical center.  “She worked tirelessly with boundless energy to make SwedishAmerican of Belvidere what it is today,” Daniels said. “She has done a great job.”
    “The reception of the community supporting us has been overwhelming,” Menke said. “When you go out in the community and people are thanking us for being here.”
    “We try to get involved in the community.”
    “It is a pleasure to be here. We work with a bunch of people who are great, hard-working,” Dr. Ed Sloan added. “The patients are a pleasure to serve.”
    Gorski solidified his commitment to Belvidere and Boone County communities by promising to expand services and to continue to partner with the community. “At the end of the day, it has been a wild ride and it has been incredibly fun,” Gorski said.

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    Waters family receives a hand up
    Oct. 14, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – On Thanksgiving morning surrounded by moving boxes, Lisa Waters and her children woke up for the first time in their new home and cooked a turkey in their new stove. The family of four had rented for years and finally achieved their piece of the American dream of homeownership.
    Nearly a year later, Habitat for Humanity of Boone County is offering to help another family achieve the same dream. Habitat for Humanity of Boone County is accepting applications from families to be the next recipient of a Habitat for Humanity home.  Plans are for the new house to be built at 1021 W. Fifth St. in Belvidere. “It is a real nice looking lot. I like it a lot,” attorney Henry Repay from Habitat for Humanity said.
    “It is affordable housing to give families a chance to own a new home,” Tammy Zurfluh from Habitat for Humanity explained. “The family is in partnership with Habitat.”
    “It is a hands up, not a hand out,” Lisa Waters added. The single mom and Northwest Pallet employee moved into her new home with her three children last November. “I was renting for more than what my mortgage payment is now. It allowed me to put money into a home where we are living in forever.”
    Habitat for Humanity will hold two informational meetings on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 25 at the First United Methodist Church, 610 Bonus Ave. in Belvidere. Interested people can attend the sessions to program requirements and process. The group expects to break ground on the new home in April with a move in date by next October.
    “They will learn the qualifications requirements,” Zurfluh said of the informational meetings. “We will answer questions on how to fill out the application. They will get a packet to take with them where they can return all of their financial information to us. We need all of the information back by Nov. 7.”
    “I put together a letter saying how I take care of my children on my own and I included information on my work history,” Waters said of the application process.  Waters had applied in prior years for the program before finally being accepted as the recipient.
    Repay is quick to point out that it is not free housing. “There has to be a need. We are not giving someone a home. They are going to make a mortgage payment,” he said. “What makes it affordable is it is at cost of the house and at no interest.”
    “Typically when we qualify a family we estimate the payment to be $550 a month,” Zurfluh added. “When you look at market rents, that frequently is below market rents.”
    In order to qualify as a Habitat for Humanity homeowner, Waters had to demonstrate a need for adequate shelter, be willing to partner with Habitat for Humanity, meet minimum income and credit score guidelines, and have been a resident from Boone County for at least one year.
    Waters had to pay $700 towards closing and administrative costs and put in 300 hours of sweat equity into the home. The sweat equity can be split among family members. During the construction process, Waters frequently stopped by with her children Juliana, Soraya and Damian. “To complete some of my hours we would do things that the kids could help out with like sweeping up or cleaning up or carrying and moving things,” Waters explained. “They got to be a part of it too.
    A core group of five volunteers, led by Art Hyland worked several days a week building the home. On Saturdays, other volunteers, employee groups and church groups arrived to help work on the Waters’ new home. “Saturday is our primary volunteer days,” Repay explained. “Basically anyone can show up. You might have a certain employer who brings a bunch of their staff and come in. We have had Alpine Bank, State Farm, County Bar Association, and Blackhawk Bank.”
    Through the process, the family built new relationships in the community from the legions of volunteers who helped construct her home.  Waters describes them as “family” and enjoys when they come to visit. Waters and her children developed a close bond with Hyland who put in over 900 volunteer hours constructing their home. “I got to pick out the roof, the siding, and the shutters. My kids and I went with Art and his wife. We adopted him in as our grandpa,” Waters said.
    Waters was deeply affected by the various organizations and church groups that volunteered and described the frequent tears that she shed in appreciation of their efforts during construction. “At our dedication churches made blankets, and those are things that are out in our house every day. Everything reminds me of the whole process and everyone we got to meet.”
    In addition to seeking applicants for the 2015 Habitat for Humanity project, the organization needs volunteers and donations. “We are looking for more people to be involved in the organization as far as volunteering to be on committees or to work the house. We need individuals that want to come out once construction starts or if a company wants to send a team out on a Saturday,” Repay said.  “Any construction people who want to donate their time or if they have materials they want to donate or if they have surplus is appreciated.”
    “Certainly financial donations will help us get the house built.”
    For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of Boone County, visit http://www.boonecoilhfh.com or call (815) 980-6247. Applications for the new Habitat for Humanity home are due on Nov. 7.
    Since moving into their new home, the Waters family added a new family member in May. A puppy.  “That was one of the things we could never do before,” Waters said.

  • volunteer - marshall wolfe photo.jpg
    Marshall Wolfe makes history come to life
    Oct. 12, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – For Belvidere’s Marshall Wolfe, the Boone County Conservation District’s (BCCD) Autumn Pioneer Festival is much more than a weekend festival. The conservation district volunteer has already begun planning next year’s festival.
    Wolfe has been a participant in the Autumn Pioneer Festival for 26 years and has been the festival’s bourgeoisie for the past 10 years. Although the word is a French word that means the ruling upper class, for the BCCD, it means that Wolfe helps organize and run the Pioneer Festival along with Pam Stock and Mick Johnston from the BCCD. Wolfe serves as a liaison between the festival’s reenactors and the BCCD.
    Wolfe is the Belvidere Daily Republican’s Volunteer of the Month because of his dedication and service to the BCCD.
    “He is fantastic. He works year round,” Pam Stock, Public Outreach and Special Events manager, said. “
    It takes a year to plan the festival. He comes to our steering committee meetings. He works with the reenactors year round.”
    “That takes a lot of pressure off of me.”
    “I am a volunteer. I try to do as much as I can,” Wolfe added.
    Wolfe first became involved in the BCCD in the 1980s. Matt Foster was his coworker at Machine Tool. One day Wolfe noticed Foster swapping out a barrel on a rifle. “I said ‘what are you doing you are supposed to be doing your work.’ He said ‘I am swapping a barrel to make a gun,’” Wolfe recalled the conversation.
    “So I served my apprenticeship as a gun smith when I first started.”
    From that humble beginning, Wolfe began a lifelong association with the conservation district and the reenactors who bring history to life.
    Fifty years ago, Roger Gustafson founded the Boone County Conservation District. It is the first conservation district in the State of Illinois. “Bill Wolf was the first president of the board of directors for the conservation district,” Wolfe recalled. “This year he is the 50th. He has been around for50 years.”
    “Roger Gustafson is one of the reasons why I stuck around. He was a great teacher.”
    Although the Pioneer Festival is in its 33rd year, the festival’s origins go back 50 years.  “It started as the Butter Babes in 1964 when Roger first started the conservation district,” Wolfe said. The festival was originally held at Spencer Park. “It was a couple of shacks and people making buffalo stew. The original 14. Jack Engleson, Chuck and Carol, Matt and Kathy.”
    With a few exceptions, the Pioneer Festival recreates life in the region pre-1830 when the “silver spoons” arrived.  “The ladies of the prairie were here. The farmers were moving in,” Wolfe said. “We say pre-1830s because the French were very prevalent in this area for trading and trapping.”
    To recreate a pre-1830s environment, the festival utilizes buildings and trades from the era. “The Murray Cabin, the Newhouse cabin. Those cabins were found right here in Boone County,” Wolfe said of the log cabins that were encased inside of area buildings. “They kept putting siding on them and made them into a barn or a shed.”
    Mark Dawson left an endowment to the BCCD. “He said ‘I want a blacksmith shop and we need a school house.’ These buildings are time period appropriate,” Wolfe said.
    “They want to see a tin smith, they want to see the lace maker. We have so many volunteers,” Wolfe said.
    He praised the many groups that volunteer for the event including the skilled reenactors, demonstrators and exhibitors such as the blacksmiths, tin smiths, lace makers, Girl Scouts, and Coon Creek Casters.
    “The reenactors that we have are the crème de la crème. The event is the conservation district but volunteers make the event what it is,” Wolfe said.
    Wolfe praised the efforts of Mike Patterson to reach out to area youth and establish an Explorers volunteer program.
    The Explorers program will be geared towards students age 15-18 to teach them black smithing, bobbin lacemaking, chair caning, and sewing. “Do you want to make quilts? Do you want a chair cane? Do you want to make your leggings, your clothing? Do what your grandmother and grandfather did?” Wolfe asked.
    This year’s Autumn Pioneer Festival attracted between 18,000 to 20,000 people. Because the district does not charge to attend the festival, they cannot use ticket sales to determine attendance. “Where we are concerned it is a family event,” Wolfe said. “If a guy comes with his family and you charge them $5 a piece then he cannot buy the kids a root beer or a doughnut.”
    “It has always been this way since Roger did it. The Pioneer Festival is never going to die. It is always going to be a part of Belvidere history. That is what Roger would have wanted.

  • 4-h Tim Kindberg Photo.jpg
    Approaching the end of my 4-H journey
    Oct. 9, 2014
    By Tim Kindberg
    Guest contributor
     
    When I started my 4-H journey a few years back I wasn’t so sure I wanted to join. With a lot of encouragement from my family I took the dip and joined 4-H. Ten years later I’m kind of sad for my 4-H journey is coming to an end. 4-H has taught me many life skills and has opened up many opportunities I would never have had. It has been an awesome experience that I will cherish throughout my life.
    Even though I was away at college, I continued for the ninth consecutive year as a dairy project member. With the help of my parents and twin sisters I was able to continue to raise my few registered animals that I purchased over the past few years. I was born and raised on our family’s Black and White Holstein dairy farm. We never had any registered animals until I told Dad I wanted to expand my herd and buy registered animals. The first animal I bought was a registered Red and White Holstein heifer calf. She now has had two offspring that I continue to raise. I also purchased a registered Brown Swiss heifer that was bred. She had a bull calf that I am raising. I have learned many things from my animals. They have feelings just like people do. If you treat them with respect they will treat you well in return. They can get ticked off at you also. Raising animals is an awesome experience.
    My family is proud of my 4-H participation. They were all past 4-Her’s and Mom is still a leader (15 years) today. It seems each year my skills improve and get better and better and this year was no exception. I won 2 big awards this year when I showed at the fair.
    4-H has helped me with my career in many ways. When I started this journey I was quiet, shy and did not want to get involved. Since I was strongly encouraged to get up in front of people and do a talk as one of the 4-H requirements my public speaking skills have skyrocketed. I can get up in front of a large crowd and speak, play an instrument and even sing a solo on the Praise Team at our local church. I have also found out that English and Speech classes are getting easier thanks to 4-H for I have developed a lot of self-confidence when I put my public speaking skills to work.
    4-H has taught me to be a better leader for I can now teach and encourage others to try new things. I can lead small group discussions or hold an office. I have held many offices throughout my 4-H years such as Sentinel, Vice President and this past year I was club Historian. I had the privilege of construction a scrapbook of all of the projects, events and activities our club has done this past year. It makes you feel good when you can toot your own horn and show others how great 4-H can be. I have also served on many committees such as Fall Food Shower, International night poster display, Refreshments and the best one is Hometown Christmas where we sponsor a needy family. The leadership skills that I have learned in 4-H also help me be able to lead small group discussions and taking on challenges I would never have done a few years back. It has built my confidence.
     Community Service is another important skill I have developed through 4-H. Our club did many things to help others in need this past year. We sorted, packed and delivered food to the local food pantry for the Fall Food Shower. We wrote, labeled and sorted Christmas cards for the Friends of the Troops military mail. We wrapped gifts for the Angel tree for a local organization. We made valentine cards for residents at the Assisted Living facility. We promoted the dairy industry by manning a booth at the annual Dairy Breakfast where we passed out dairy literature, pencils and “Got Milk” tattoos to the children. The best community service project we do every year is Hometown Christmas. We sponsor a needy family from our local community. We buy them a Christmas tree; make ornaments for their tree, purchase lights and a tree skirt. We then go out and buy each member of the family gifts and wrap them. We put together a food basket for the family as well. Finally we have the honor of delivering all of the items to the family. What an awesome feeling you get when you see the priceless expression on the face of a child whose holiday just got better because you helped them and made a difference. Providing Community Service is one of my favorite things to do whether it is for 4-H, school, church or any organization I belong to. I, along with my family members, just can’t say no when it comes to helping others. Hoping someday those people will help me in return if I need it.
    In conclusion, over the past 10 years 4-H has helped me to become a more well-rounded individual who has developed many skills that I can use and share with others throughout my life. 4-H has been an awesome experience and I would gladly recommend all youth ages 5-18 to join this great organization.

  • homecoming photo 1_edited.JPG
    Homecoming season ended
    Oct. 8, 2014
    Homecoming season ended in Boone County when Belvidere High School held their homecoming dance on Saturday Oct. 4. For the second time in as many weeks, the Guilford Vikings came to Belvidere to face a homecoming crowd. And for the second time in as many weeks, the Vikings were defeated nearly as decisively as the Minnesota Vikings were by the Green Bay Packers.
    Belvidere High School’s homecoming week was packed with activities including the spirit days, powder puff football game, pep rally, paint the dam, parade, homecoming game, and the dance. The senior girls won the powder puff football game and the seniors won the spirit stick.
    This year’s homecoming theme was Hollywood through the ages.  A Belvidere twist on the homecoming theme took place during the halftime show at the varsity football game. The marching band added eighth grade band members from Belvidere South Middle School and 30 alumni members from the Belvidere High School Band, including one member from the class of 1967. The high school choir added students from Belvidere South Middle School as well as 40 alumni and sang Bohemian Rhapsody.
    Boone County Treasurer Curt Newport was among the alumni participating in the halftime marching band performance. A trumpet player, Newport is no stranger to marching band. He was part of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini Marching Band. He travelled with the band when the Illini faced the UCLA Bruins in the 1984 Rose Bowl. Newport advised the middle school students to continue in the band. He told them that band might not be a lot of fun in junior high, but it gets better in high school and is very enjoyable in college.
    Although the group had one opportunity to practice together, they sounded great and performed well in unison. They played Don’t stop me now, Crazy little thing called love, and the school fight song.
    On Friday, the high school held its homecoming pep rally. The gym was filled to a stentorian capacity as the students took part in a variety of competitions.
    One of the highlights of the homecoming rally was when 20 teachers dressed up in Bucs uniforms and sang the Homecoming Shuffle to the Tune of the Homecoming Shuffle. Special education teacher Eric Samuelson channeled his inner Jim McMahon to the delight of the students. As part of the Homecoming Shuffle, the teachers celebrated each of the football seniors in song.
    As much a part of the pep rally games was seeing a more casual side of their teachers. Mr. Saville, who was the Master of Ceremonies, skeeved the students with a demonstration of his double joints.  It is an image that will take a long time to be erased from this reporter’s retinas and memory.
    The pep rally included a toilet paper mummy competition.  Male students from each class wrapped a female student in a roll of toilet paper.  Tyler Lass and Mackenzie Hauser won the competition for the seniors. Tyler admitted that he had a little help from the coaches who were standing about five feet away from him. “The coaches behind me were helping me out a little bit telling me which spot to cover up,” Tyler said.
    When the senior team was declared to be the winner, the girls from the freshman, sophomore and junior teams emerged from their toilet paper cocoons. Makenzie did not immediately break out of her toilet paper dressing, to the delight of the coaches assembled behind Tyler as they encouraged him to wait in telling Makenzie. “We were seeing how long it would take her to realize that it was over,” Tyler said. At the time of the interview, he did not think that Makenzie realized that she had been part of an impromptu prank. “I was just going along with it.”
    Nik Vistina showed his baseball playing prowess during the cheese puff throwing competition. With his face completely covered in shaving cream, Nik swayed to the left and right to catch cheese puffs on his face that were thrown by his friend Amanda Taylor. “She was throwing them and I was maneuvering to catch as many cheese puffs as possible,” Nik said. “It was a little uncomfortable; my eyes were burning.”
    Nik had plans to go with a group of friends on Saturday. The group rented a party bus to take them to the homecoming dance at the high school.
    Near the end of the pep rally, the classes held a tug-of-war. The freshmen and the sophomores faced off first, with a sophomore victory. In the second competition, a close competition between the juniors and seniors gave the victory to the juniors.
    The juniors won the class competition by besting the sophomores.
    In another light moment during the pep rally, the teachers faced off against the juniors for the school tug-of-war championship. The teachers stacked the deck when several of the coaches and young male teachers took up the rope.
    When it seemed that the school championship would go to the teachers, several members of the football team stormed the gym floor to join the juniors and pull the rope in the students’ favor.
    For the homecoming game, heavy coats and blankets were the standard attire as the mercury dropped to 47 degrees as game time and a steady and sustained wind gave a wind chill factor of 36 degrees. If it were February, it might feel balmy. But since it was Oct. 3, it was miserably cold in a game.
    Before the game began, each of the homecoming king and queen candidates were escorted by their parents on the track for the coronation. Varsity quarterback Colton Bahling and Leandra Carlyle were announced as homecoming king and queen.
    “It is very special to know that a lot of people in this school like me enough to nominate me and vote for me, Leandra said. “Band members aren’t who you would typically think of as homecoming queen.”
    Colton and Leandra did not have long to receive hugs and congratulations, almost as soon as they were crowned, they had to remove their crown and sash and go to work.
    Leandra had a clarinet to play and Colton had a football game to win.

  • joey bucci photo.JPG
    Joey of Belvidere is Camelot’s Tom of Warwickshire
    Oct. 7, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – When the national touring Broadway production of Camelot takes the stage at the Coronado Theater on Oct. 16, Joey Bucci will in the cast as Tom of Warwickshire. Joey is a charismatic fourth grade student at Seth Whitman student in Belvidere.
    Joey’s acting career began last year when he was selected to be the Master of Ceremonies at Seth Whitman’s Willy Wonka night. The school participated in the “one book, one school” program in which the entire school read the same book over the course of several weeks. To celebrate the completion of reading Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the third grade class students read poems. Joey was selected to MC the event on Mike TV. He appeared on a TV screen and introduced his classmates as they read their poems.
    “As people were coming in, they kept saying ‘who is that kid. Wow, he is not shy at all!’” John Bucci recalled of the other parents’ reaction to seeing his son on Mike TV. “And Mrs. Borswell said ‘yeah, did I pick the right kid or what?’”
    “He was chatty and never skipped a beat,” Joey’s mom Amy Bucci said “Everything just flowed so easy and he did very well.”
    With his interest in acting ignited, Joey and his parents looked for acting opportunities. Joey was recently cast to play Michael Darling in the Children’s Theater Project/Youth Theater Project of Peter Pan Jr.
    “There was dancing, singing and acting,” Joey recalled of the auditions for Peter Pan Jr. “I believe I did acting first and I did good at that. Then we did singing. I did pretty good at that. Dancing….we did a (choreographed) dance.”
    Joey auditioned for the role of Hook. Bucci watched his audition and noticed that Joey kept rubbing his chin. Afterwards Joey explained to her that he was stroking his beard.  “I thought wow that was clever. The other boy he tried out with was also very animated,” Bucci recalled. “I thought it was really smart on his part.”
    Peter Pan will be performed at the JR Sullivan Theater in Rockford on Nov. 14-16.  The show has three casts and Joey will perform with the red cast on Nov. 14 and the 4 p.m. show on Nov. 15.
    When the request came from National Tour of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot for a boy between the ages of 8 – 13 years old, the call went out to local theater groups and school districts. 
    “Children’s Theater Project sent out an e-mail to all of the boys who are in Peter Pan. Because he was having so much fun we thought it might be fun for him just to try and to go to the Coronado,” Bucci explained.
    Joey had to provide a head shot and a 50 word biography for the audition. “We said he is very charismatic and loves to make people laugh and smile,” John Bucci recalled.
    “I remember his first grade teacher (Sheila Grooms) writing on his report card that his entire class loves to listen to him read, and that is as a first grader, because he is so animated.” Amy Bucci said. “He has always been giving a little extra.”
    Thirteen boys from the area tried out for the role. “I can really say that there were a lot of talented kids. Many of them have done professional roles in different roles,” Nolan O’Malley, marking coordinator for the Coronado Performing Arts Center said of the auditions for Tom of Warwickshire. “We did have some experienced kids.”
    O’Malley videotaped the boys’ auditions and selected the top five tapes to send to the casting director. “It was a combo of looking the part, having experience and looking comfortable,” O’Malley said of the decision to cast Joey in the Tony Award winning play.
    After Joey was selected for the role, he asked his parents if the all of the seats in the theater were going to be filled. “We said they could be,” John Bucci recalled him answering his son. “Are you going to be nervous? He said ‘nope!”
    “I want all of the seats packed. I want it to be sold out,” Joey exclaimed.
    Joey will appear in one scene in Camelot. His character, Tom of Warwickshire, boldly tells King Arthur that he wants to be a knight in the Round Table. “I came to fight for the Round Table. I am very good with a bow,” Joey rehearsed his lines. “I intend to be a knight of the round table.”
    Because Joey will only have the day of the production to rehearse with the cast and learn blocking, he has to have all of his lines memorized and rehearse with his parents. The family has been working with O’Malley to help him prepare for the role.”
    The day of he is going to meet the rest of the cast. They are going to get him comfortable and show him what it is like to be in a professionally run play,” O’Malley said. “They will provide some assistance and direction and make him feel comfortable.”
    On the day of the interview, John Bucci mentioned that a revised script arrived that day and it included more lines for Joey.
    “More, I have more?” Joey asked excitedly.
    “It is all yes m’lord,” Bucci replied.
    “Awwww!” Joey responded dejectedly.
    “It was very surreal the other night when the commercial came on for Camelot and to realize that this is a national play and Joey is going to be in it,” Bucci said.
    “I am excited to see him in Camelot,” Amy Bucci added “But also I’m excited just to see Camelot.”
    Joey is the second of four children in the Bucci family. He has an older sister Morgan Reis and younger siblings Andrew and Ashley. Sharing his big brother’s charisma, first grader Andrew declared his favorite subject in school to be lunch.
    When Joey isn’t on the boards or at school, he is on the mat with the Gymnastics Academy of Rockford (GAR).  He recently made GAR’s pre-team.
    Tickets for Camelot can be purchased at the Coronado box office, by visiting ticketmaster.com, or by calling (800) 745-3000.

  • dewanes mural photo.jpg
    Fate brings DeWane’s Mural to life
    Oct. 5, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE- Creative Flooring and C & H Cabinets and Remodeling is located in the former DeWane’s on Logan Ave.  When Darin Luhman did a tile job, that last thing on Luhman’s mind would be a mural. 
    “Don “Red” Elliot and my dad Richard were firefighters together.  Red collects things and I saw he had a post card of DeWane’s.  I asked him for a copy and one day he came by just gave it to me. At first I thought I would just hang it on the wall.  Then I thought we are the ‘City of Murals’ and we had this huge bare area of wall over the offices.  How cool would it be to have a mural up there?  I had no idea who to call or how to get it done,” said Darin Luhman.
    About a month after completing Elliot’s, Luhman was at the home of Kit Scheidenhelm who is a former Art Teacher at Belvidere High School.  Luhman asked “Do you know anyone who could help me put together a mural for DeWane’s?” Scheidenhelm got in contact with Belvidere North High School Art Teacher Troy Yunk and as they say “the rest is history”.
    “The mural project began with a discussion when Darin was laying a tile floor.  I contacted Troy as we have worked on many of the Belvidere Mural projects.  Darin provided photos and I also did research at the Boone County Historical Museum where I found tornado photos.  I found the photo of the two men on the wall at the Steam Plant Restraint,” said Scheidenhelm.   
    “The next step was measuring the space.  Troy and his students began putting the images together along with several stock images of cows etc. into full color sketches that were in scale to the space. The final design was projected in pieces onto white kraft paper to size. I put charcoal on the back side of the sheets which turned it into primitive tracing paper.  The designs were traced onto the space with light gray paint used over the trace lines. From that point the project became almost a ‘paint by numbers’ effort based on the color scale design,” explained Scheidenhelm.   
    “Whenever I have researched these types of projects, there have always been surprising personal stories. While looking at the photo of the two men at the Steam Plant, a man having coffee knew exactly who they were. My next door neighbor, Barb Blatchford's mother had cooked at the restaurant which Dana Farina's mother had managed.  And I may have had a personal experience traveling from my hometown up to DeWane's with my dad and a neighbor. In talking to Ray DeWane, he informed me that one of the cars in the mural was his, as well as the man pictured in the sales ring,” continued Scheidenhelm. 
    “The mural was painted in January of 2013 by me and my students from Belvidere North, Kit Scheidenhelm, and Mike LaScola Assistant Principal at Belvidere North. The goal of the mural was to recreate the way DeWane’s looked back in the 1960s when it was a popular gathering point,” said Yunk, Art Teacher at Belvidere North High School.
    “Whenever we do a mural there is a process that we typically go through. First it starts with a hand drawn image and then we enlarge it to fit the size of the mural. We transfer the image onto the wall and then we paint and paint and paint some more,” explained Yunk.
    “This project is an important reminder of the county's agricultural heritage and tradition.  The murals Troy and I have partnered on also serve as a way for students to give something back to the community as well as showcasing their artistic ability. The young people who worked on the mural were also musicians, athletes and fine academic students.  One was even a member of the DeWane family,” concluded Scheidenhelm.
    “Any time I get a chance to use students on a historical mural like this I try to involve them in the research process and teach them something about the history of Belvidere and Boone County,” added Yunk.
    “It was fun watching the kids and my own daughter got to paint on it.  We are very proud of the DeWane Mural as it keeps our local history alive,” expressed Luhman.
    The DeWane Mural may be viewed during normal business hours.  For more information please call (815) 547-8453.

  • Pioneer Festival 3.JPG
    Mission accomplished for visitors to 33rd Pioneer Festival
    Oct. 2, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - Lynn and Caroline Bullard were on a mission Saturday when they visited the 33rd annual Pioneer Festival.
    They were looking for a historic log cabin he helped move here in the late 1970s, after finding it inside a house he purchased on Rockton Road in Manchester Township.
    "I bought it (house) for the lot," Lynn Bullard recalled. "I was tearing it down when I came on the log cabin."
    They walked around some of the many exhibits making up this year's festival on the Boone County Conservation District grounds off Appleton Road.
    As they approached the Murray cabin, built in 1838, Caroline Bullard exclaimed, "That looks like it,"
    "Sure does," her husband said in agreement. "It was the living room of the house I bought. There was no roof on it so they (district officials) put one on."
    They walked inside and before long came upon a plaque with his name on it as being the one who found the cabin and had it moved here.
    After coming back outside Lynn Bullard, former Capron police chief, remembered someone talking about the discovery with Roger Gustafson, first director of the conservation district. "He was really into history," Bullard said.
    That led to the red log cabin being hoisted on a flatbed by Paul Slaybaugh "and off we went. Past the Manchester grade school to Hunter Road, Caledonia Road and (Illinois) 76. The (Boone County) sheriff's office had a car in front of it and one in back of it."
     
    A historic area
     
    Now it's part of the conservation district's collection of historic buildings that includes a second log cabin, built in 1844, and a blacksmith's shop. There's also a replica of the one-room Dawson River Road schoolhouse and a series of gardens to show what vegetables were grown by Boone County pioneers.
    Some of the exhibits at the expansive festival, such as one where applesauce donuts are made by Girl Scouts, date to the start of the event. Troop 3361 has been making the donuts and apple cider for the past 12 years and there were two other troops before that. 
    Longtime leader Elaine Spanna was "kind of coordinating it this year," she said, with help from Melanie Spanna, Stephanie Spanna Zajdel, Genevieve Spanna and others.
    Proceeds from sales on Saturday and Sunday went to various scouting projects, with some of the participants are working towards a trip to Alaska next year. 
    "It's a basic recipe; we use applesauce rather than oil," Genevieve Spanna explained. "Oil was hard to get in those days."
    The donuts, a bargain at 25 cents each, were made over an open fire, "similar to the old days," she said. In addition to helping make donuts she also made the period dresses and aprons worn by the scouts.
    Genevieve earned her Gold Project, similar to an Eagle Scout effort for a Boy Scout, by designing try-it badges for Brownies for basic sewing techniques. Melanie's Silver project was the creation of triangle scarves for cancer patients. Stephanie also completed her Silver Project, standardizing kitchen appliances for a scout camp in Pennsylvania.
    In the midst of all the hustle and bustle that's part of making and selling donuts and cider was the preparation of dinner for the participating scouts. That was part of Stephanie Zajdel's job, cutting up meat for a beef stew to be served later in the day.
    "If not, we'll have donuts for dinner," she joked.
     
    Fur trader is busy
     
    While most of the exhibits portrayed life in the 1800s, Mark Pfeiffer from Glenview showed how a fur trader plied his trade between 1700 and 1750.
    Rabbit, fox, otter, coyote, bobcat and mink skins were on the ground in front of him, with one black bear skin and under all of that a buffalo skin. But the most popular was the beaver skin, which he held in his hands, because they were used to make men's hats.
    Indians were frequent customers, sometimes trading the clothing they were wearing for knives and muskets. "They could hunt better and defend themselves better with those weapons," he said.
    In between showing visitors the vast array of animal skins he had assembled, Pfeiffer was busy tending to a kettle of French onion soup he was preparing over an open fire.
    While the festival was relatively compact and didn't require too much walking, it was quite a hike for most from parking lots to the display areas. Help for that was provided by shuttles in the form of horse-drawn wagons.
    Jeff Flippo from the Northern Illinois Vintage Tractor and Engine Association in Belvidere was behind the wheel of one of three old tractors that worked as people movers.
    "This is our first year here," he said. "But we had a lot of tractors at the Boone County Fair."

  • bel north homecoming photo.JPG
    Belvidere North students make heart-warming decisions
    Oct. 1, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE - Belvidere North students were winners even before the Blue Thunder football team took to the field for their 40-10 victory against the Guilford Vikings on Sept. 26.
    What would have been an ordinary homecoming week story about painting the dam, movie night, pep rallies, parade, powder puff  and varsity football games took a dramatic turn when Logan Blahunka was crowned as homecoming king at the high school.
    Logan is a special needs student at Belvidere North. The student body roared with thunderous cheers at the Friday pep rally when he was announced as homecoming king and the entire student body chanted his name. Logan pumped his fist and ran with pure joy. Homecoming queen and his good friend Bailey Kowalkowski beamed with pride as the varsity football players filed out of the bleachers and hugged and congratulated Logan.
    “Senior year is supposed to be a good year,” Bailey said. “This made it a lot better.”
    “I feel the same way,” Logan added and said that he felt good about the recognition from his peers.
    “It meant everything. For a special needs student to be accepted by the entire student body is beyond words,” Logan’s mom Marcie Blahunka said. Logan participates in Special Olympics and Gigi’s Playhouse.
    Logan is part of the Best Buddy program that began with the 2014-15 school year at Belvidere North high school. The program partners a special need student with a peer. The group has several activities each month. The program focuses on  inclusion of the special needs students in the high school experience.
    “This morning we decorated our Best Buddy’s lockers. We got to meet them and give them some treats,” Stephanie Vazquez explained. “They get to come with us to the games . We’re happy. They’re happy.”
    “We are planning on carving pumpkins with them in a few weeks.”
    One month into the club’s founding at Belvidere North High school, Logan was named and embraced as homecoming king. “This is the first year we have had the Best Buddies program.  What we saw at the pep rally program was just heart-warming. I am proud to be principal of Belvidere North High School,” Marc Eckmann said.  “It was very rewarding to see the respect the kids showed everybody.”
    During the homecoming pep rally, the Best Buddies members were introduced to the student body. If possible, they received louder cheers than those received by the football team. The student body learned a new cheer and thunderously chanted “B-U-D-D-I-E-S! B-U-D-D-I-E-S !Best! Best buddies!” as the special needs students danced on the floor of the gym.
    “I had never heard that before,” Blahunka said of the cheer. “It brought me to tears.”
    During the homecoming football game, many of the Best Buddy students sat with the cool students in the bleachers. Following a fourth quarter touchdown, the student body erupted in the Best Buddy cheer.
    The Best Buddy program was introduced to Belvidere North High School by Becky Fridly. Following her son Carter’s freshman year at the high school, she wanted him to be more fully integrated in the high school experience and learned about the Best Buddy program. “When Carter went to high school, I felt that he wasn’t getting the benefit of being in the clubs and being involved, or of the kids getting to know him,” Fridly explained. “We wanted him to enjoy his high school years like everybody else.”
    During the homecoming football game, Carter was in the front row center of the student section.  “There is no way to describe the feeling as a parent that you get from that,” Fridly said of seeing her son accepted by the student body. “It is like magic.”
    “We want people to know that these kids have value and they have something to offer to the community. The enrichment that they (the student body) get from these kids is going to benefit these kids in their lives as well.”
    Fridly praised the Belvidere North students for embracing the club and fully including the special needs students  as full members of the student body. “They made them a part of it,” Fridly said. “The year before, they weren’t a part of this.”
    “I liked it,” Carter added.
    “It is a really cool program. It is awesome,” varsity football player Jake Hattendorf said of Logan’s crowning as homecoming king.
    “It is a great feeling  to be able to make a change in our school.”

  • va clinic groundbreaking photo 2.jpg
    American Legionnaires serve the community in many ways
    Sept. 30, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – When Governor Pat Quinn broke ground on the $70.5 million Illinois Veterans Home on the near north side of Chicago, Terry and Tina Abdelnour and Paul Gardner from Belvidere were on hand to take part in the ceremony
    Terry Abdelnour is the American Legion commander of the Illinois 12th division which serves veterans in Grundy, Kendall, LaSalle, Winnebago and Boone counties. Gardner is the Illinois American Legion vice chairman of constitution and by-laws.
    The 200 bed facility will be the fifth veterans’ home in Illinois and the first in Chicago. The five-story home will be located near Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. The facility will include long-term care units for veterans with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The Illinois Veterans Home at Chicago will be operated by Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs (IDVA), which also supervises veterans’ homes in Anna, LaSalle, Manteno and Quincy. IDVA also operates the Prince Home, a 15-bed permanent supportive housing facility for homeless and disabled veterans at Manteno.
    “Our new veterans’ home in Chicago will provide care and support for 200 of our nation’s heroes and create hundreds of jobs for hardworking Illinois residents,” Quinn said.
    “I am a disabled vet. I understand the process that veterans go through,” Abdelnour said. “I have seen the impact that it has on a lot of people. For us to be able to give back and help is why my wife and I are heavily involved in it.”
    The American Legion has been reaching out to veterans and active duty military and their families to offer their assistance. “When they step into that uniform they involved themselves and their families into something larger than themselves. And that never changes,” Abdelnour explained. “As Legionnaires we are still involved in something larger than ourselves. “
    “All we want to do is help our veterans and active duty. We want to help them any way we can. so they can help them not go through some of the things we went through or if they are because we have experiencing in going through these situation.”
    The American Legion offers assistance to veterans, active duty military and their families. The American Legion and Auxiliary make homemade blankets that are sent to injured troops.  When a service member is injured and moves between hospital wards and the hospital, they are provided with a homemade quilt, afghan or blanket. “They get to keep this blanket with them the whole time they are there,” Abdelnour said. “It gives them comfort.”
    Providing comfort to veterans and active duty members and their families is a key component of the American Legion’s mission. “We have pillows for troops. We have a group that takes photos of families and we silk screen the image on to a pillow case for a family for the soldier,” Abdelnour said. “We also silk screen the soldier’s image to a pillow case for the family to have at home.”
    Personnel at the American Legion help veterans, active duty military and their families complete paperwork and apply for assistance in various programs. “With all of the veterans in the organization and all of the diversified training, you have millions of hours of experience in helping people processing their claims and things that they need to do. It gives them a little comfort knowing that we are there for them,” Abdelnour added.
    With the nearest base nearly two hours away, family members of deployed troops can turn to the American Legion for assistance or information. “That is why it is important to be in contact with families in our local areas because we are remote from a lot of their needs. A lot of their medical coverage is under a remote plan. Families know that if they have any needs at all to contact us.,” Abdelnour said.
    With the diverse and valuable experience of American Legion members, Abdelnour championed transforming the 12th division’s emergency response team. Rather than simply offering financial or administrative assistance to veterans following a natural disaster, the division developed a coalition of firefighters, paramedics, emergency personnel and others who can come in and help a community with their immediate needs.
    Following the Nov. 2013 tornado that struck Coal City, the American Legion handed out food, water, clothing, toys and helped homeowners put tarps on roofs. “We have a team that can help with logistics,” Abdelnour explained. “We help with the entire community for whatever it takes.”

  • dewanes photo.jpg
    DeWane’s offer a glimpse into the past
    Sept. 28, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE-On Aug. 21, a new mural depicting DeWane's Livestock Exchange and Restaurant was dedicated to the community at a ribbon cutting ceremony.  The building is now the home of Creative Flooring and C& H Cabinets and Remodeling. 
    The concept originated from a postcard dated Aug. 25, 1961.  But before writing about the mural I first needed some background on DeWane’s.  On Monday morning Sept. 22, I had the opportunity to speak with Ray DeWane.  In that conversation he graciously agreed to an interview.  I told him “Be thinking of some stories you might wish to share about DeWane’s”. 
    He humbly responded by saying, “I don’t know that anyone would be interested.” 
    My response “Well I am and I believe our readers will be also.”
    Audrey, Audie Ray’s wife, greeted me at the door that same afternoon and the three of us sat down to the kitchen table.  I saw old photographs, menus and, I thought oddly at the time, dishes.  I explained to Ray that I had been told the DeWane’s mural was a result of an old postcard.  Ray pulled out a duplicate postcard and showed it to me.  “I had to buy this off of eBay for $17.50,” he chuckled, “and it was my own business!”
    “I understand that one of the cars in the postcard is actually your vehicle,” I said. 
    “Yes.  It is the 1953 mint green Chevy.  I paid $50 and drove it all over the country as my work car.  I sold it for $100.” 
    “Do you wish you still had it?” 
    “Oh yes!”
    When did DeWane’s begin?  “My father John DeWane started in 1930 by renting from Marshall Sheep Yards on McKinley.  His business was not expected to survive as it was right in the throes of the depression.  My Dad worked very hard and he still had his farm to care for.  After chores he would drive to Chicago with a cattle delivery from one trip up to three in one night.  The most he could haul was 16 at one time as the largest truck he had was 24 footer. 
    “We were on McKinley from 1930-1935 and then moved to Biester Dr. In 1950 we built the building and auction arena on Logan Ave.  About 1951 we began the restaurant.  Sale barns as they used to be called typically had an eating establishment.  We were open 24 hours a day six days a week and had the best steaks and Friday night fish fry.  People would stand in line to get in.  It all ended on Apr. 21, 1967.  The Belvidere tornado hit and in two minutes it was all gone.  We took a direct hit!  We suffered over a million dollars in damage at that time, but despite everything we never missed an auction!  The repair men were working while the auctions continued.  After the tornado, we auctioned off what survived from the restaurant. Unfortunately we could not afford to rebuild it,” explained Ray. 
    I stated earlier there were dishes on the kitchen table.  And then the “a-ha” moment hit me.  Could it be?  As I made eye contact with Audie I asked are they your dishes? 
    With a big smile Audie said “I thought you might like to see them.  Two months ago we got a call from some dear friends asking us to come over as they had something for us.  They had been to Ray’s cousin’s estate auction.  Unknown to us until recently, Ray’s cousin and wife bought our custom restaurant dishes at our auction.  We never knew they had them.  We were in complete shock as our friends had recognized our dishes and purchased them back for us.  It was overwhelming,” expressed Audie. 
    “Forty seven years and it came full circle,” said Ray. 
    “We have seven place settings, a sugar bowl, and enamel coffee pot.  We use them all the time and have served dinner on them for guests.  They bring back so many wonderful memories,” explained Audie.
    Ray showed me that through his kitchen window he can see DeWane’s in the distance.  I asked Ray what do you miss the most?  “I miss the people.  Every Friday at 1 p.m. the bell still goes off in my head.  The auction is about to start.  I met hundreds if not thousands of people and I would not trade it.  I cherish those memories.”  DeWane's Livestock Exchange closed Dec. 18, 1987.

  • Pantry Truck 1.JPG
    Wal-Mart $25,000 grant helps food pantry buy new truck
    Sept. 25, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    CAPRON - The Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry is the new owner of a refrigerated truck, thanks to the generosity of the Wal-Mart Foundation's State Giving Program.
    The charitable arm of the retail giant has presented food pantry officials with a check $25,000, with which to purchase the truck. It is a 2009 International that will be used to pick up refrigerated and non-refrigerated items from suppliers around northern Illinois.
    "Wal-Mart has been a generous and loyal supporter of the Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry since 2006," said Linda Clark, executive director of the pantry. "We are very grateful to have their support for the growing population living in poverty in Boone County."
    Dan Ketcham, Wal-Mart's area market manager, recently presented the check to Clark at the food pantry office.
    "The Wal-Mart Foundation is very pleased to support the Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry and is committed to help those in need in the communities where we serve," he said. "Through this grant, we hope more people will not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from."
    The food pantry opened its doors in 2005. Today, it serves more than 1,000 people a month through a variety of programs.
    Food is distributed to qualified families and individuals from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday. Clothing and household appliances also are available at the same building on Fifth Avenue.
    In addition, the pantry supplies food for three community meals sites at three locations in Boone County. They are at Poplar Grove United Methodist Church, 5:30-6:30 p.m. every Thursday; St. John's United Church of Christ on Main Street in Belvidere, 5-6:30 p.m. the third Wednesday; and Apostolic Christian Church, 8675 Town Hall Road, Belvidere, 5-7 p.m. the first Friday.
    The pantry also provides snacks for qualified children at four North Boone District 200 elementary schools. And it works with the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program in providing meals for the home-bound.
    Sixty-five percent of the people served by the food pantry live in Belvidere.
    Through the State Giving Program, Wal-Mart supports organizations that create opportunities so people can live better, according to a statement about the donation. The program strives to award grants that have a long-lasting, positive impact on communities across the United States.
    During 2013, Wal-Mart and the foundation awarded more than $35.6 million in cash and in-kind donations to local organizations.
    To be considered for a grant, organizations must apply online through the foundation's State Giving Program. Applicants must have current 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. Details are available at www.walmartfoundation.org/stategiving.

  • NB Homecoming 8.JPG
    'Super Heroes' rule 2014 homecoming at North Boone
    Sept. 24, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    POPLAR GROVE - "Super Heroes Smackdown" took over at North Boone High School the week of Sept. 15 as all four classes celebrated homecoming.
    There were various activities during those days, with four competitions among the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.
    The seniors ruled with their float, lip sync team and in the powder puff football game against the juniors. The juniors put together the best hall decorations, in the view of judges, and they also boasted the best male cheerleaders.
    In the other powder puff game, the freshmen upset the sophomores.
    One of the highlights of the week was students being able to drive their family tractors to school. There were 15 vehicles in all and they were more than just a static display.
    Creative writing students from the high school toured the tractors and wrote an essay about the experience. Sixth-grade students from the nearby upper elementary school came over and participated in a relay race - using tiny tractors - around the parking lot. They also learned about the tractors from students in the Future Farmers of America organization.
    North Boone senior Brianna Brunschon was in charge of the relay races, which the sixth-graders seemed to enjoy. The eighth-graders had been there earlier.
    She said she was making the most of her final year at the high school. Post-graduation plans are for her to attend Friends University in Kansas and pursue a career as a zookeeper.
    The homecoming parade kicked off in Capron and then continued in Poplar Grove, where numerous residents lined both sides of Poplar Grove Road to see the various participants.
    Seniors Danny Eberhardt and Jackie Sosa were this year's king and queen and joined members of their court and class attendants by riding in convertibles.
    Both said they were surprised by their selection, believing others would win the honor. Jackie is a member of National Honor Society and Pit Crew, while Danny plays basketball.
    When her name was called out during the Sept. 17 pep rally, Jackie said some people thought she looked as if she was mad. But that was not the case. "I was in shock," she said.
    This year's homecoming court consisted of seniors Michael Wagner and Madison Grimm; Michael Schaedel and Brooklyn Riley; Matthew Vonderheide and Haley Drew; and Brandon Briggs and Patsy Alvarez.
    Freshman attendants were Max Zwart and Natalie Emmanuel; sophomore attendants, Marcus Protz and Morgan Dawley; and junior attendants, Cesar Hernandez and Vanessa Tellez.
    Senior Kyle Kniep portrayed Batman in the senior's float, which ultimately was declared the best of the four classes. "I love it, it's awesome," he said of his role. There was no competition for the part. "I just got selected," he said.

  • belvidere teachers photo.JPG
    Belvidere teachers file notice of intent to strike
    Sept. 23, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – The teachers in Belvidere CUSD 100 have been working without a contract this school year. Despite negotiation meetings with a district attorney, the teachers took the first step on Wednesday Sept. 17 to authorize the Belvidere Education Association (BEA) to strike.
    The BEA members voted 430 – 6 to file a notice of intent to strike. Following the vote, BEA president Mark Luthin filed the notice on Thursday afternoon at the Belvidere school district office as well as with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board.  In addition to filing the notice, the bargaining team declared an impasse in the negotiations.
    “This is a big step. Any time you file a notice of intent to strike it is a big step,” Luthin said after submitting paperwork with the district office. “We cannot go on strike until 28 days from now. We hope that we can come to an agreement on a contract.”
    Approximately 30 teachers were on hand to enter the district offices with Luthin when he filed the notice of intent to strike paperwork. “It is a lonely job and some of our members wanted to support me,” Luthin explained.
    Despite the vote, members of the negotiation team expressed optimism that a resolution would be forthcoming in the near future. “We had excellent dialog on Tuesday night (Sept. 16). We met with them for two hours and we had very good dialog. I feel like our team listened very hard to their team and what their concerns were and I hope they did the same,” Luthin said. “We made progress.”
    “We are hopeful to make progress when we meet on Tuesday (Sept. 23). It would be nice to wrap it up that night.”
    One of the frustrations expressed by BEA members is that they have been negotiating with an outside attorney who was contracted by the school administrators to handle the negotiation process. At the Sept. 18 negotiation meeting, Dr. Michael Houselog and other district personnel participated in the negotiations. “Up until then it was exclusive the attorney for the board,” Lutin explained.  “I strongly believe that dialog really opened things up.”
    “It is slow, but I do believe we are making progress,” Micki Whitacre added. “We made more progress in one evening than we did all summer.”
    According to the BEA, the major sticking points in the contract negotiations are class size, at risk students, providing more robust student services, improving services for special need students, and attracting and retaining quality educators.
    “We also want to be competitive with other districts salary wise. We want to attract and retain teachers. We have lost 92 teachers since last May that does not include the retirees. That is a lot,” Luthin said. “That is close to 20% of our teaching staff is gone.”
    “We are looking for across the board increases for all of our teachers. We want to attract younger teachers to our district and we want to keep them here.”
    BEA members are concerned that with some Illinois State Board of Education violations that occurred in the 2013-14 school year in regards to special education students. These violations included a self-contained special education class that exceeded “the maximum number of students, exceeding the 70/30 ratio of regular to special needs students in a mainstream classroom, and  self-contained special needs classrooms that exceed the allowable student age range. “We feel that contractualizing some of the state law just in case that law changes some day we can avoid having large class sizes with special education students.”
    One of the solutions that the BEA proposed is contract language that would support at risk students through additional instruction outside of the standard school day. “A lot of students in the elementary level get pulled out of either science or social studies to receive an intervention,” Whitacre said. “If we can come up with a solution which I believe we have with the before and after school opportunities then they can receive these things. They still need that help and assistance.”
    “In the middle school they tend to come out of their encore classes. It is such a hard call. You want them to receive the interventions but then they miss out on art or they miss out on Spanish or band or something that really interests them. It is really hard as a teacher to see them struggle and not have that outlet for something they are really talented at.”
    “They still need that help and assistance, Whitacre added. “We are proposing a solution that would allow both time. I think it is a win-win for students.”
    At press time, administrators from District 100 were unavailable for comment.

  • keen age photo 4.JPG
    Keen Age Center meets the needs of the community
    Sept. 21, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – With the youngest of the baby boomers turning 50 this year, the mission and services of places like the Keen Age Center is increasingly important to help mature individuals live a full life.
    Helping meet the needs of the center’s nearly 35,000 annual visitors requires fundraising efforts. “Our budget was $6,300 short as we kicked off the budget July 1,” Joe Fortmann, executive director of the Keen Age Center said. The Keen Age Center held a Fall Colors fundraiser dinner on Sept. 16 at the Moose Lodge in Belvidere. “We need to make up the shortfall and this is one of the ways we do it.”
    “The over 60 population increased over 20 percent from 2000 to 2010. With the expanding over 65 population, there are going to be many more people. Our mission is to help mature individuals live as full of a life as they possibly can. have them participate in a full and rich blend of services, supports, and community activities and be a part of the community.”
    The Keen Age Center targets its services for people age 50 and older. The Keen Age Center, located at 2141 Henry Lucklow Ln. in Belvidere offers a wide variety of services and activities. Among the activities are a woodworking class, pool tables, art classes, exercise classes, line dancing, computer lab, support groups, caregiver assistance, public transportation, pot luck luncheons, health and financial planning seminars, and referral services. Some of the activities sponsored by the Keen Age Center are offered at other locations.
    “I see the services that they provide to the elderly and the retired in the community and what they do here. I see the buses that people use to take to the bank and get around town. It is a worthwhile cause,” IOU member Don Banks said. “It is important to make our community better.”
    Linda Mullins participates in the line dance classes. “It helps keep me a little limber,” Mullins said.
    For the past two years, Mullins has attended the Painting with Donna classes after she heard about the classes from Iris Humphrey. “She said it was like her therapy. She had started it and she talked me into joining it and I have been doing it for almost 2 years now.”
    Mullins has been decorating her home and the homes of her family in Kentucky with the acrylic paintings that she has made in the classes. A novice to painting, Mullins entered her artwork in the Boone County Fair and won some blue ribbons. “I really enjoyed that!” Mullins exclaimed.
    Mullins attended the recent Illinois State Grange Convention as a representative of County Line Grange.  At the convention’s Youth Grange auction, Mullins donated a copy of one of her paintings of a blue jay wearing the Grange emblem. The piece sold for $65. “That was exciting,” Mullins said of having someone purchase her artwork.
    The Keen Age Center offers a program called Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP). The service offers free counseling provided by the Illinois Department on Aging to help answer questions about Medicare, Medicare Supplement plans, prescription drug plans and Medicare plans. “I go to the high rise at Sheffield Meadow Apartments to help them with their Medicare or insurance,” SHIP counselor Pat Cowan said.
    Cowan has been volunteering through the Keen Age Center as a SHIP counselor for nearly 15 years. “I was interested in Medicare and what it does. I thought I would try this and see what happens. And I am still there,” Cowan added.
    In the pool room at the Keen Age Center on many mornings, a lively group of seniors gather for tall tales, camaraderie and to play several rounds of pool before taking part in the numerous card games.  “We start playing two or three games of pool then we go play pinochle around 11 o’clock,” Tom Lockiger said. “On Wednesdays we have a pool tournament.” 
    “There is always something going on. I like everything. That is why I am here every day.”
    The center has a computer lab and it is staffed on Monday through Wednesday with volunteers who help participants get on and use the computer. “We answer questions if they do not know how to use the computer at all we can help them get on the computer,” computer mentor Keith McAlhaney said. “The primary interest is e-mail and Facebook.  We can help them do that.”
    McAlhaney retired two years ago as a worker’s compensation adjuster for Zurich Insurance in Schaumburg.  As the computers have the Microsoft Office programs, McAlhaney can help people use programs such as Word or Excel if they want to write down the old family recipes or create simple formulas on spreadsheets for a family budget.  As the computer mentors have varying level of computer experience, they provide levels of support that meet their expertise. “Any monitor you meet with, if that monitor cannot help you they will refer you to someone who can,” McAlhaney added.
    The Keen Age Center offers a variety of programs regarding memories. The Over 80’s Club invites seniors to share their memorable stories from their past. Participants have the opportunity to share with others who understand what it took to live in the first part of the 1900s. The Keen Age Center records the memories to share with others.
    The Keen Age Center sponsors the Memory Café at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at the Steam Plant Restaurant in Belvidere. “In the next several years, one in seven women and one in 11 men will develop memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. That is a big deal,” Fortmann said. “It may not be a cause of death, when this occurs, it does not affect just the person who has the disease it affects the entire family, the extended family and anyone who is a caregiver.”
    “That is why we started Memory Café in October of 2013. Memory café is a place where people with the disease, family, caregivers can come and talk about what they are experiencing. They can get some assistance, some advice from experts from the Alzheimer’s Association. One of our board members is a professor of psychology at Rockford University. And they can talk about themselves, they do some sharing. Sometimes it is a support group, sometimes it is heavy-duty learning. It is a number of things. It is sharing stories.”
    The Keen Age Center has planning committees looking at how the Keen Age can reach out to more people, including younger AARP-eligible individuals. “We are trying to figure out how to do that. We have not cracked that nut yet, “Fortmann said. He recognized that one issue may be the Keen Age Center’s hours. “A lot of mature folks are still working. There is a lot of literature that people will retire from a job more than once, perhaps two times. Perhaps three times. They still work and we are open at the moment 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and not on weekends.  We may have to change.”
    “I am a boomer myself. I do not view myself as old as my parents at this same age. It is a very different set of perceptions.”
    For more information on the Keen Age Center, call (815) 544-9893 or visit keenage.org.

  • Default image
    Back in the saddle By Ann Marie Cain Contributor
    Sept. 18, 2014
    Agriculture High in the Sky
     
    Last week, I enjoyed traveling with Prime Timers from the N. IL Farm Bureaus through Colorado and parts of New Mexico.  The focus of the trip was riding five of the historic trains.  Throughout the trip, agriculture was all around us.  We learned about the Pablo Indians and how they were an agricultural society raising turkeys, corn, and beans.  At Mesa Verde National Park, we learned how these cliff dwellers moved from living and farming on top of the plateaus to building their homes in the cliffs and farming the plateaus.  These Native Americans dismantled their homes above and recycled the stones to build their homes in the cliffs. 
    Traveling through the countryside from one train to the next, we saw ranches with horses and beef cattle.  While riding through Colorado and New Mexico we caught a glimpse of some of the native wildlife: mule deer, antelope, moose, and bighorn sheep. 
    While bighorn sheep are related to goats and are different than our domesticated sheep, they do have a number of things in common.
    Males are called rams.
    Females are called ewes.
    Sheep that is younger than one year of age is called a lamb.
    They have split hooves.
    Sheep eat available grass, seeds, and plants.
    They regurgitate their food to chew it as cud before swallowing it for final digestion.
    They live in social groups called herds or flocks.
    Sheep are active in fire prevention by keeping the brush controlled to reduce damage from wildfires.
    Domesticated Sheep Fun Facts:
    There are over 40 breeds of sheep in the U.S. and approximately 900 different breeds around the world.
    One pound of wool can make ten miles of yarn.
    There are 150 yards (450 feet) of wool yarn in a baseball.
    Professional sheep shearers can shear one sheep in under a minute.
    6% of the world consumes lamb and mutton (22% poultry, 32% beef, and 40% pork).
     
    Scotland & Ireland Informational Meeting- Monday, Sept. 15
     
    The Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau will be hosting an informational meeting on Monday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the office located at 1925 S. Meridian Road, Rockford, IL on our 2015 trip to Ireland and Scotland.  The Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau and neighboring Farm Bureaus have partnered with Tri-State Travel to bring to you the opportunity to see “The Best of Ireland & Scotland”- July 20-31, 2015.
    Over twelve days, you will have the opportunity to visit the palace of Holyrood, Edinburgh Castle, Scottish Highlands, Cairngorms National Park, Lock Ness, Rosslyn Chapel, and Culzean Castle before leaving Scotland.  We will say goodbye to Scotland aboard the ferry to Ireland. Stops along the way also include the new Titanic Belfast Museum, a farm tour on the way to Dublin, Trinity College, St. Stephen’s Green, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, and more.
     
    Taste of Milwaukee- Tuesday, Sept. 23
     
    On Sept. 23 we will be heading North to Milwaukee.  Our first stop will be at the Pabst Mansion where we will embark on an historical adventure.  The Pabst Mansion is an award-winning historic museum and stands as one of Milwaukee’s great architectural landmarks.  Following the mansion tour, we will head over to the brewery for more Pabst history at the Best Place.  Best Place will take you back to 1844 to tell you how the small Best & Company brewery transformed into the Pabst Brewing Company.  Don’t miss your opportunity to have your picture taken with Captain Pabst; see Blue Ribbon Hall and the King’s Courtyard; and visit the Vintage Gift Shop.
    Enjoy lunch at Buck Bradley’s, home to the largest bar East of the Mississippi and is one of the oldest buildings on Old World Third Street.  You will have a choice of their BBQ Chicken Sandwich (half lb. chicken breast charbroiled with their secret BBQ sauce), Wisconsin Grilled Cheese (Cheddar, American, Swiss and Monterey Jack with bacon, tomato on grilled sourdough bread), or the Frisco Burger (half lb. with cheddar cheese, tomato and bacon on grilled sourdough bread).  All served with fries, pickle, and your choice of soda, tea or coffee.
    Before heading home, we will stop at the Sprecher Brewery for a tour of the brew house and discover how Sprecher is reviving the Old World brewing traditions that once made Milwaukee famous.  Tour will include the brew house, aging cellar, bottling line, warehouse and conclude in their indoor beer tent.  End the day with beer tasting out of your own beer tasting glass.  Also taste their sodas to your heart’s content. 
    The bus will leave from the Farm Bureau office at 6:30 a.m. and will make a second pick up at the Cherryvale Mall overflow parking lot at 6:45 a.m.  The cost will be $62 per member and $67 which includes the deluxe coach, tours at the Pabst Mansion, the Best Place, and Sprecher’s, and lunch at Buck Bradley’s.  We plan to return home by 6 p.m.  
    Ann Marie Cain is the manager of the Winnebago-Boone County Farm Bureau.

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    Fair Board gives thanks to the volunteers
    Sept. 17, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    Many people say that the Boone County Fair is the only time they see and connect with some of their friends. For the volunteers who help make the Boone County Fair a success they may not have that opportunity to get caught up with their friends as they are busy toiling at the many venues scattered throughout the Boone County Fairgrounds.
    The annual Fair Board’s annual Appreciation Dinner affords the volunteers with the opportunity to get caught up with each other and receive the Fair Board’s gratitude for a job well done. Approximately 650 guests filled Exhibit Hall #1 to nearly full capacity on Sept. 10 to attend the Appreciation Dinner.
    “Without our volunteers, the Boone County Fair would collapse overnight,” Boone County Fair president Lyle Lee said.
    “They mean a tremendous amount to me,” Jack Ratcliffe added. “They are our life blood because they help us do everything that we do here.”
    “Without the volunteers we could not survive.”
    Lee presented Boone County Sheriff Duane Wirth with a plaque of appreciation for his loyal dedication and service to the citizens of the people of Boone County and the Boone County Fair. To resounding applause, Lee also presented Wirth with a lifetime pass to the fair and hoped that Wirth would continue to attend the Boone County Fair.
    Al Henninger wrote a poem in honor of Wirth that he read in appreciation of Wirth’s service to the county. Henninger in his prose and poem spoke of the time that Wirth pulled over the Henninger’s for speeding.
    “One Sunday afternoon Darlene and I were headed to dinner and we were late.
    “We were speeding along not thinking what could be our fate.
    “We met with a car that did a U turn with lights of red white and blue.
    “We pulled over and stopped, but knew were in a great big stew.
    “Sheriff Wirth came walking over to the car with a stern look and then a smile.
    “Al you were going pretty fast, over the limit by many miles.
    “A warning he did give, and said slow this car down.
    “With a thank you and grateful hearts, off to a late dinner we were bound.”
    Lee presented Bucky Eschbach in absentia with a service award for his many years of service in managing the harness racing at the fair. In addition to the plaque, Eschbach will receive a lifetime pass to the Fair.
    Lee called Eleanor Swanson to the front of the stage and presented her with a Service Award for her 12 years of service in running the Reed Schoolhouse.  Swanson also received a lifetime pass to the fair.
    During the winter, Emmalee and Larry Culver were awarded by the Illinois State Fair Association with the Friends of the Fair Award. Lee recognized the Culver’s for this prestigious award. “This is due to a lot of years of dedicated service. An award well deserved,” Lee said.
    Tom Ratcliffe called up the staff from the Belvidere Daily Republican to present them with the Fair Board’s first Special Media Award. Ratcliffe praised the BDR’s Road to the Fair series. “”We put together a scrapbook and it is 50 pages of articles. We will have it in the administration building,” Ratcliffe said. “They covered different aspects of the fair.”
    Tricia Goecks from the Belvidere Daily Republican thanked the Fair Board for this honor and praised the staff and reporters from the Belvidere Daily Republican for their hard work and dedication.
    Goecks thanked the Fair Board and then called up the Gallano family to present them with a special recognition as Volunteer of the Month for their dedication and service to the Boone County Fair and to the Boone County community. “When you thought you were just being interviewed for an article on the fair, it wasn’t,” Goecks told the Gallanos.
    “The volunteers mean a tremendous amount to me. They are our life blood because they help us do everything that we do here. Without the volunteers we could not survive,” Jack Ratcliffe said. “As an example, Laurel and I were getting behind with some of the work. We asked Zion Lutheran Church for help and we painted Building 3 and we also tore out the floor in the judge’s stand and we repaired the steps going up in the grandstand.”
    As Lee and Ratcliffe read through the names and accomplishments of the volunteers who dedicate countless hours to the fair, it varied between a Who’s Who and a county census. Among those recognized for their service were: Jack Wolf, Dave Geske, Noah Mullins, John Gallano, Iris Humphrey, John Mulholland, Flora Grange, Sharon Geske, Robert Eschbach, Roger Miller, Mike Mundy, Steve Paulson, Butch Peters, Artie and Sue Schmidt, Ott family, Lindsey Voss, Ray Kruger, Steve Little, Dayle Paulson, Steve Munch, Dick Cruz, Chris Lee, Jim Marks, John Henninger, Jim Olson, Bob Scherer, and Arnie Pierce.
    “We can hardly thank them enough,” Fair Board treasurer Dayle Paulson said of the volunteers.  “They come every year and work really hard and work before during and after the fair. There are some who not only put in the sweat equity but who contribute monetarily because they love the fair.”
    The evening wrapped up with two musical numbers from the talent contests during the Fair as well as raffle prizes.
    More than anything, it was a night of gratitude and camaraderie among the hundreds of people who work throughout the year to make the Boone County Fair one of the best county fairs in the State of Illinois and throughout the Midwest.

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    Hope raised that popular model train show will return
    Sept. 16, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    POPLAR GROVE - The Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum at Poplar Grove Airport hosted a model train show Sept. 6-7, which featured five layouts of varying sizes.
    It reminded some visitors of the show that once filled every room at the Keen Age Center the first Saturday in December. After an absence of several years, it's possible that the show will return to Belvidere in space at the expanded, downtown Boone County Historical Museum.
    "It's going to happen," said an optimistic Pat Murphy, vice president of the Boone County Historic District. "It's just a question of scheduling."
    The Wings and Wheels Museum also is a possible site.
    But wherever it winds up, it won't be until sometime next year.
    "There's too much to get together for December," said Dave Oberholtzer, who helped organize the show when it was at the Keen Age Center.
    He, too, is optimistic about the future. It's especially nice to see the boys and girls who look wide-eyed at all the wonders that are before them, smiling, building memories, he said.
    Oberholtzer had one of the displays at the Poplar Grove event, a 10-by-13-foot spread of larger Standard Gauge trains and accessories.
    The Stateline S Gaugers 12-by-27-foot exhibit was filled with trains, track meticulously arranged so the engines didn't run into one another and a host of street scenes. There was a typical downtown, large park area, circus big top and midway including an operational Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, and an industrial complex to name a few.
    Stateline's layout included trains, track and accessories provided by some of its members, including Tom Behles.
    "My wife said it was time to get the trains out of the barn," he said. The S Gaugers' layout is taken to shows for fun and "to show kids what trains are all about," he explained. As for the contributors, he said, "We get to play with our toys. There are a lot of participants."
    As youngsters watched in awe as the trains rumbled past them Behles continued. "This is a true scale," he said. "The cars look real. It's a bridge between those who are purists to scale and the HO stuff, which is smaller. HO has taken over the hobby. It's smaller and doesn't take up much room."
    Nearby, John Mann had a 5-by-9-foot display of HO trains and accessories.
    Behles was wearing carpenter's overalls and cap, but looked very much like a train engineer. "It's show time," he said.
    Others having exhibits at the museum were Keith Mitchell with a 4-by-16-foot Lionel setup and Dick Bird with a 4-by-6-foot N Gauge display.

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    Autumn Pioneer Festival offers an excursion back in time
    Sept. 14, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE-We have all said at some point, “I wish I could go back in time.” There is a curiosity to see what it was really like in a time period we never lived in. Movies and books tend to glorify and simplify the past. The fact of the matter is that it was a day to day life struggle to survive. The pioneers did not have the options as we do today of antibiotics, running water, inside toilets, electricity or have the ability to drive to the store for a gallon of milk. If their cow died, it meant no milk or butter. If the weather did not cooperate, it might mean no grain for the winter to feed a family and nothing to feed the livestock with. And yet pioneer fever saw thousands head west in what they hoped would be a better life, and a new beginning of prosperity.
    “The hardships endured by these pioneers were severe. Food was scarce, their huts were rude and ill fitted to bear the inclemency of the winter, but the fever of adventure which possessed them kept them in steady march, the aborigines yielding step by step before them, and civilization, with slower but firmer steps, advancing in their rear,” according to www.publicbookshelf.com
    We complain that life is hard in 2014 when in fact, we have what they would have considered a life of royalty or the very wealthy. Any yet, why is it we yearn to go back with all the life’s amenities we have? What is it that draws us back? Could it be we just yearn for a life that is simple and not complicated by politics, electronics that steal our life away every day and a society that appears completely detached? On September 27 and 28, you have the opportunity to take that step back in time with a visit to the Autumn Pioneer Festival. The time period represented is the early 1800’s. Food, period clothing and delightful characters will make their annual appearance.  
    “Many of our exhibitors become the character. What is so wonderful about these folks is they are also very knowledgeable about the history of the time period and are able to educate those attending. Some of our volunteers and exhibitors have participated all 33 years. An amazing transformation of our grounds occurs when our exhibitors begin to arrive. Within hours, we are literally transformed into the 1800’s. We will also have live oxen for the first time. Rather exciting to have them on the grounds,” said Pam Stock who is the Special Events and Public Outreach Manager at the Boone County Conservation District.
    The food selections have something for everyone. You may wish to sample mini tea breads of zucchini and pumpkin, buffalo stew, a glass of homemade root beer, followed with a piece of pie and ice cream. But these are only a few of the1800 cuisine available at the festival. And this year, three new food items will be added. “Our new food vendors are offering roasted corn, fried pork skins and apple dumplings with caramel sauce on top,” explained Stock
    “This year we are very much in need of volunteers. We ask for a minimum of two hours and provide period clothing. It has become difficult for many of our older volunteers to stand for long periods of time. Age requirement is 15 years or older. Younger children may participate as long as they are with a parent,” added Stock.
    “This event is for all ages. Come try your skill at the axe throw or the cross cut saw. Visit with voyagers (fur traders), black smiths. And be sure to be ready to have the ground shake under you. If you hear “fire in the hole” our cannon is being fired off.  And I would be remiss if I did not say a huge “Thank You!” to all our volunteers and exhibitors. Without them this event would not be possible. It is just a great way to spend the day with your family,” expressed Stock.
    Boone County Conservation District is located at 603 N. Appleton Road in Belvidere. Autumn Pioneer Festival will be held Saturday, September 27 from 9a.m. to 5p.m. and Sunday, September 28 from 10a.m. to 4p.m. If interested in volunteering, please contact Pam Stock at (815) 547-8935.

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    Blue skies help make Old Farmin’ Days a success
    Sept. 11, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    CALEDONIA – For many of the visitors at the Ward View Farm in Caledonia, they were stepping back to their youth when family farms still utilized draft horses or sturdy tractors to pull or operate farming equipment.
    Every September the Ward family puts on Old Farmin’ Days at their Caledonia farm. Old Farmin’ Days got its start 15 years ago when Andy Ward purchased an antique thresher and invited friends and family for a picnic and to see it in action.
    The thresher was simply another addition to the large collection of antique farming equipment and memorabilia that the Ward family has collected over the years.  Ward built a museum on the property and converted a silo into a two story museum.
    “They have oodles of stuff,” exclaimed Vaughn Johnson from Beloit. “They are really a wonderful family.”
    Johnson and his wife Judy were at Old Farmin’ Days to demonstrate rope making. The Johnsons began making ropes 45 years ago when they purchased an antique rope maker. As they travelled to various fairs with their cattle, they killed time by making halters. Soon they attracted attention from other people at the fairs who would order halters by the dozen.
    “We don’t make and sell as many as we used to now that our daughters are grown,” Johnson said. For the 4-H students who purchase a calf at the club calf auction held at the Johnson’s farm at the beginning of November, they receive a halter with their calf. The halters are a prized possession.
    In addition to Johnson, there were demonstrations of a day gone by throughout the day. Rick Kruse brought several pieces of wood statues that were carved by using a chainsaw. Ed Mueller from Lake Somerset sold old fashioned brooms and canes. The brooms were made using broom corn. Several women were dressed in long calico dresses as they used straight pins and thread on bobbins to make bobbin lace.
    The biggest attraction of the day by far was the wide variety of antique farm implements that utilized truly green energy – horse power. On occasion, the horses had to stop for a refueling…as they bent down to eat the alfalfa they were mowing.
    Dan Champion from Roscoe and his father tilled a filed using a spring tine harrow. Champion plowed the field with his registered draft paint horses. The breed was only recently recognized as a breed. “I am glad to help Andy have a good show,” Champion said.
    Others made quick work of riding behind a pair of draft horses to mow and rake the field.
    The hay lay in the field to dry until a horse drawn hay loader gathered the hay and it was put through a threshing machine.
    In addition to the farm implements, a group of collectors brought several dozen antique engines. Bob Brown from Poplar Grove brought five engines, a water pump and a corn grinder. Among the engines that he brought was a Model Z engine that was made in 1915 by Fairbanks Morse in Beloit. Brown purchased the Model Z engine in part because of its local connection to the area and also because of the limited availability of antique engines on the market.
    Near the engines, visitors could hear the telltale sputtering engine punctuated by distinct pops when the single engines fire and coasts,  “It is very satisfying to know that I took a piece of rusting stuff and  made it run again,” Brown said. “People admire it and it makes me feel good.”
    “Brown got his start collecting and refurbishing antique engines when a friend asked him to attend a gas engine show. The pair both were bitten by the bug and left with a gas engine apiece. Brown has been showing his antique engines at Old Farmin’ Days for the past five years.
    Also on hand at the show were a large collection of antique tractors and a tractor pulling competition.
    Andy Ward was pleased by the turnout and the pleasant weather. He was nervous in the days leading up to the festival as the area was hit by several large storms. “The weather is our number one saving grace, Ward said.
    Ward praised the volunteers who helped make this year’s show a success. “There are hundreds of people who help put this together and we appreciate every one of them,” he said.

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    Gallano family shares their love of Boone County through volunteerism
    Sept. 10, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BOONE COUNTY – While many people in Boone County may be familiar with the Gallano family name from their trucking business or the family farm on Newburg Road in Belvidere, the family should be remembered for their volunteerism and devotion to Boone County.
    “They donate a lot of equipment and hours. They do a remarkable amount of stuff around here,” Boone County Fair Board president Lyle Lee said. “All of them come out and help. They do a lot to get the fairgrounds ready. You can go on and on about the things that they do.”
    For this reason, Brian, Dave, John and Steve Gallano are being recognized by the Belvidere Daily Republican as the September Volunteers of the Month.  The Belvidere Daily Republican will recognize each month volunteers in the community who help make a difference in Boone County.
    “They want a little help with this or a little help with that,” John Gallano said. “It became a ritual to set aside some time before the fair and go out and give them a hand and see what could be done. It is part of making it a better place.”
    “We are fortunate that we have the equipment,” John’s brother Steve added. “We can do extra things out there.”
    “With the connection with farming they (Steve and John) know who to reach out to get a job done,” Brian Gallano said of the many people who help them along the way to complete many of their projects.
    Steve Gallano downplayed the family’s involvement at the Boone County Fair by himself, his brother and sons Brian and Dave. “During the fair Brian helps with the infield, John does tickets. David works the sheriff’s department and I work the sheriff’s department. We are busy during the fair and we help get it ready before the fair.”
    Helping get the fairgrounds ready before the fair means resurfacing the roadway with crushed black top, hauling in many truckloads of dirt and ag lime for the infield track , prepping the infield track, installing dry wells, moving the Reed one room school house to its present location, and more.  
    “We got together and put it on a trailer. And off the road we went,” John Gallano recalled when the family helped move the Reed’s Crossing one room school house to its present location. “Back then it was simple. You didn’t have to involve anyone. You didn’t have to mess with permits.”
    “We took the roof down and put it on the trailer and away we went.”
    The group breathed a sigh of relief as they successfully crossed the Garden Prairie bridge. “It just went across the bridge,” Gallano said. “It touched on the sides as we went through.”
    “They do a lot of work to maintain it and fix it up,” Dave Gallano praised the volunteers who furnished and maintain the school house. “It is neat that they do that.”
    “We try to get better surfaces in case it does rain,” John Gallano said of the new roadway surface that covers all of the roadways on the western side of the fairgrounds.
    “We are pretty fortunate the farm is pretty diversified so we have a bit of different equipment that we are able to help out with that stuff,” Dave Gallano said. “The farm has the graders and loaders and it helps to support that. As John said we like to see the fair continue to be such a great event.”
    “It is fun to see the families partake in it and help out.”
    “There are so many people you only see once a year and that is at the fair,” John Gallano explained. “It is enjoyable to catch up on things.”
    “They (the Granges) do such great things with the proceeds from the fair. So much of it goes back to the community,” Gallano praised the Granges and the hundreds of people who volunteer their time and effort to make the Boone County Fair a success. We’re the second largest fair in the third smallest county. That tells you how much involvement everybody has,”
    “You go there a week before the fair and you see people painting stalls and painting buildings.”
    “That must be the difference with the volunteers,” Brian Gallano praised the approximately 1,500 volunteers who make the Boone County Fair a success. “You go over to Winnebago which is state funded and there is not a lot there.”
    “There are so many people that volunteer out there that it is satisfying to work with them,” Steve Gallano added. “The officers of the fair and all of the fair board members really participate in their own niches and the whole thing comes together.”
    During the fair, Steve Gallano and his son Dave are at the fairgrounds with the Boone County Sheriff’s department. Steve Gallano has been a part time member of the sheriff’s department for 37 years.  Dave Gallano has been a reserve member of the department for over 20 years. His father quickly points out, “he has been a member or a gopher for 37 years.”
    During the fair, Brian Gallano works to prepare the infield track for the tractor pull and the rodeo. “Kerry Lee and I were out there with the Ott boys and we helped Jack (Ratcliffe) with the track. We try to get the track to what the pullers want and are looking for. We get a lot of input from them and they tell us what they want done,” Gallano explained.
    For the rodeo, Gallano tills the surface to make sure that there are no big rocks in there. “We take the ag lime off and mix up the dirt and make it a little softer for the guys to land on. Then we put it all back when we’re done.”
    The Gallano’s contribution to Boone County does not end with the Boone County Fair. Steve Gallano is the president of the IOU Club.  “We (the IOU Club) put on the Halloween parade, Easter egg hunt, first grade Christmas party and we take kids shopping and pay for that.”
    During the winter months, the Gallano family helps plow the roads at the fairgrounds. “Brian has gone there and plowed snow if they need the snow plowed for an event,” Dave Gallano explained.
    “We try to help out any way we can. These guys (John and Steve) are big into the community and helping out,” Brian Gallano added. “We help in various areas wherever it can be done.”
    During the winter nights when it snows or ground blizzards create drifting snow, the sheriff’s department calls on the family for assistance. “A lot of times the townships will close at midnight so the sheriff’s department has us go out if they have any calls that they cannot get to,” Dave Gallano said. “We will lead the way.”
    “The townships will go home at midnight because they cannot manage the storm all night long.”
    The Gallano family helped during the massive five day long mulch fire at Rt. 76 and Woodstock Road in May 2012. Over 100 agencies responded to help fight the fire. The family has a six wheel drive airport fire truck that they were able to use to maneuver to drive on top of the mulch pile and reach areas that the traditional fire trucks could not reach. “We had our two tankers delivering water to the fire trucks. They set two pools up,” Brian Gallano explained. “We’d unload into the pools so the fire trucks could pull water because there were no hydrants nearby .You had to transport all of the water to the site.”
    “The Gallano family is a godsend to us,” Lyle Lee said.

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    NBHS receives grant to promote health
    Sept. 9, 2014
    By Rhonda Mix
    Reporter
     
    POPLAR GROVE - North Boone High School recently received word from the General Mills Foundation that the Belvidere Community Action Council – which makes grant recommendations to the foundation – was given $6,000 for the North Boone Teens Get Heart Smart Program.
    The grant will purchase a classroom set of Polar brand heart rate monitors, cases, webinar training for teachers, an annual license for Polargofit.com and a Bluetooth enabled iPad for North Boone High School's physical education department.
    Three P.E. teachers at NBHS will work together to share the monitors to ensure that maximum exposure is achieved through the classes.
    Erika Seivert, one of the P.E. teachers, believes the grant is important for several reasons.
    “This grant is important to the school because we promote a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “With this grant we are able to purchase the heart rate monitors, which are something North Boone High School has never had before. Our students will be able to learn how to use technology related to their personal fitness levels, and it is a lifelong skill that they will continue to use once they graduate high school,” she continued. “Being that we are a smaller high school, our students will have opportunities to use the latest in technology in the physical education field, [opportunities] that even some larger high schools do not have access to.”
    Seivert added that the NBHS physical education department is really excited about using the new equipment.
    “This is something that we have wanted our students to have access to,” she said. “I remember going to the Illinois Association for Physical Education, Recreation and Dance convention last year in St. Charles, where I attended a session on heart rate monitors and the Polar GoFit program, hoping that we could incorporate [the devices] into our classes at North Boone High School.”
    The heart rate monitors and new program will be used throughout the day in general P.E., weight training and fitness classes, which will include step aerobics, cardio kick-boxing, Zumba dancing and team sports. Students will be able to measure health progress with objective data, while also learning how to work out individual target heart rate zones. One aspect of the program will allow students to track data online, so parents have will have access to health information as well.
    With the increasing obesity rate in society, Seivert noted, it is important for students to learn the necessity of exercising and eating right at an early age in order to know how take care of their bodies throughout their entire lives.
    “There are many people at various ages who are suffering from some type of heart problem, whether it's high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a history of heart attacks,” she added. “We have a poster up in our locker room that says, 'If you don't take care of your body, where will you live?' I think this is a great statement because if our students don't take care of their bodies, their physical health, emotional health and social health will all suffer in some way....[Also], if a student is physically fit, they typically perform better in their academic classes.”

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    Giesecke takes county board campaign on the road
    Sept. 7, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BOONE COUNTY - The general election for seven seats on the Boone County Board is about two months away.
    Sherry Giesecke is one of those who didn't wait until Labor Day to start campaigning for one of two four-year terms in District 1.
    She dropped by the monthly Capron Rescue Squad District Board of Trustees in August and talked a short while about why she's running. That wasn't her first road trip as she already has visited meetings at six of the seven townships in her district. Candlewick Lake was on the list of upcoming stops. 
    "I've learned an awful lot," she said.
    Personally, her background brings plenty to the table, as a former school teacher and then banking executive for three decades.
    Once she helped how to set up a separate school district in the Elgin area after the U46 district had become the second largest in the state. Also, she was a trustee on the Bartlett Village Board for eight years.
    "Boone County is up against some things and one of them is being in Illinois," she said. "I have a lot of experience that I think will make me a good candidate."
    She and the other District 1 Republican hopeful, Raymond Larson, won their party's nominations without opposition in the March primary. That also was true of the only other candidate in that race, incumbent Democrat Bill Pysson.
     
    A matter of policy
     
    One of the things to look at is whether the county board is setting policy and whether the administrative staff is following those policies, Giesecke said.
    Among the issues are people leaving the county and it having one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.
    Rescue squad board member Barb Sager said she thought it was important for county board members to listen to their constituents. People seem to say one thing and the board votes the other way, she said, adding,  "We don't know why they voted that way."
    Giesecke, now retired, said she's "an old newcomer." Of District 1, she said, "We're in the hinterlands of the county and that's where you find the real people. I'll make decisions; I'll take the heat."
    She was asked about a sentence in Pysson's campaign literature that stated she and Larson were running as anti-wind farm candidates. Her response to that was: "If every taxing body will benefit from a wind farm, maybe we can talk."
    Among her related concerns were trucks carrying parts of wind towers being able to negotiate turns in northeastern Boone County. "Will they replace drainage tiles? Will they make everything whole?" she asked.
    In addition, she said she has read how a wind farm currently in the talking stages would bring $400 million into the county. She said she has yet to see any empirical evidence of that.
    "And lots and lots of jobs," she said. Yet she added that, across the country, the average has been four or five jobs.

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    Belvidere Township braces for increase in electric bills
    Sept. 4, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - It was nice while it lasted, here and in other northern Illinois communities. There were two years of lower monthly bills through electric aggregation.
    But that's ending in those places, one by one, and it's projected to end in Belvidere Township as well.
    Homeowners here have had a 5.229-cent rate per kilowatt hour, as negotiated by the township's consultant, First Energy. "It will be a few months before we have to decide on a new company," township Supervisor Pat Murphy said during the board's Aug. 26 meeting.
    First Energy, with which the township worked since the outset of the program, "pulled out of the business," he added. "We will start looking at new rates in mid-September."
    Commonwealth Edison's currently is offering 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour. Nearby Machesney Park recently agreed to 7.59 cents, up from the 4.68 it had for the past two years. ComEd is expected to lower that rate to 7.42 cents in October.
    "Hopefully, we will be in a little better position in December, when we have to make a decision," Murphy said.
    He said larger homes get a better rate than smaller homes. Smaller homes are part of the reason why the rate in Machesney Park is a little bit higher, according to Village Administrator Tim Savage.
    Boone County in June approved a rate of 6.415 cents through a new supplier, Integrys.
    Harlem Township, with 177 participants, negotiated rates of 6.98 for the first year, 6.92 for the second year and 6.85 for the third year.  
     
    Congratulations
     
    Also at the township board's Aug. 26 meeting Murphy offered congratulations to Richard Lee on reaching his 20th year as road commissioner.
    "That's an accomplishment these days," the supervisor said. "We couldn't ask for a better road commissioner. Our roads are among the best in Illinois ... and he has money in the bank. I want to thank you and wish you well."
    Lee, who is a man of few words, nodded and township Trustee Bill Robertson asked if he could offer a motion for adjournment "so we can eat some cake."
    Not one cake but two awaited those in attendance.

  • nathalie lyford photo.jpg
    A lifetime of leading area 4-H students
    Sept. 3, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    POPLAR GROVE – As a10 year old girl, Nathalie Lyford joined 4-H and participated in the organization’s home economic clubs for sewing and cooking. She continued in the club through high school. When she married her husband Robert, she became involved again in the 4-H as a leader.
    On Aug. 9, Lyford’s dedication to the Beaver Valley Clippers 4-H club was being recognized with her induction into the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame sponsored by the Illinois 4-H Foundation. Lyford joins her husband with this distinction. Robert won the award ten years ago in the inaugural year of the award.
    At the ceremony held on the Director of Agriculture’s Lawn on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, one volunteer from each county in Illinois was inducted into the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame.
    Lyford has been a leader with the Beaver Valley Clippers 4-H club for 31 years. Her husband became a leader in the club when he returned home from the Army 54 years ago.
    “These long-time volunteers fully embody what 4-H strives to instill in youth,” Angie Barnard, director of the Illinois 4-H Foundation said. “They are caring, dedicated, generous leaders, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation is extremely proud to be able to provide this honor to each and every one of them to thank them for their service to this wonderful organization.”
    “We are not in this to win awards. I prefer to be in the background,” Lyford said. She was very humbled by the award and reluctant to receive the attention. “This was a total surprise to me.”
    In addition to serving as leader of the Beaver Valley Clippers, Lyford serves on the Boone County 4-H Food Stand Committee, serves as a recording secretary at General Projects Day, and assists in the swine barn during the Boone County Fair. Robert Lyford is the superintendent of the swine show at the Boone County Fair. Preferring to stay in the background, on auction day, the Lyfords help manage the traffic flow between the swine barn to the auction ring at the Boone County Fair.
    “They really seemed to dedicate a lot of time to 4-H. They haven’t had kids in 4-H for a long time and they are still leaders,” Mark McConnell said in praise of Lyford. McConnell’s son Adam is a member of the Beaver Valley 4-H club.
    “Our baby is 41,” Lyford added. Her 14 year old granddaughter Meagan Waidel from Loves Park is member of the chapter.
    “I think it is very good that they are being recognized because they put a lot of time into it,” McConnell said.
    “We think it (4-H) is a very good experience for kids and it is why we keep working at it. It is a good opportunity for people to learn diff things and life skills,” Nathalie Lyford said. “They learn public speaking and we encourage them to do a talk or demonstration.”
    “One of the things that she does that I really enjoy is the pizza making party she does with her 4-H club every year,” Melissa Irwin said. Irwin is the Boone County 4-H coordinator. “The 4-H’ers plan what kind of pizza they want to make and they organize purchasing the supplies.  Then they gather at the Lyford’s home and learn to make pizza crust and complete the pizza’s with toppings.  They even prepare veggie and ice cream/dessert pizzas.”
    “Later, the parents come and they begin by having a nice supper of all the pizza’s they have made and then they follow that up with their business meetings.  The kids really enjoy this activity and it has become a club tradition.”
    “They make Hawaiian, cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and we also make fruit and vegetable pizzas. We have a good time,” Lyford explained. “It is fun to watch them. They are quite involved with what they have done.”
    “One of the kids decided he liked barbecue chicken. Sometimes it gets messy and they have to clean up.
    It is a really good time.”
    At the annual pizza party, the students provide an evening of entertainment for their parents before the 4-H business meeting. “They can do a number, read a poem, and sing a song. It is amazing what the kids do,” Lyford said. “We had one kid surprise his mom, and he juggled lemons. He said the benefit was that if you dropped it, it didn’t hurt anything and when you were finished your hands smelled good.”
    “It is funny to watch the parents be surprised at what their kids can do.”
    The Beaver Valley Clippers has 15 members. The Lyfords prefer to keep the enrollment in the club to fewer than 20 students so that they can provide greater opportunities to participate in the organization and to help them develop the skills they may need in their future careers. “All of the kids have a chance to have an office,” Lyford explained. “They have meetings every month and have to run them with Roberts Rules of Order. It gets the kids used to talking in front of others.”
    As leader of the Beaver Valley Clippers, Lyford works closely with the students on their 4-H projects. “They do a good job making sure the kids are on course and when they get done they have their paperwork done,” McConnell said. “They have worked with us quite a bit.”
    “We like to see the kids succeed. Whatever we can do to help them is fine,” Lyford explained. “Their motto is to make the best better. There is always a way to improve.”
    Many of Lyfords favorite memories are intertwined with the 4-H. In 1986, the Lyford’s four daughters went to Springfield with different projects at the Illinois State Fair. “That was the year that Ronald Reagan went to State Fair and he met the 4-H kids at the junior livestock arena It was very exciting for the kids,” Lyford explained. “You don’t get to see the president very often.”
    Similar to a school teacher, the Lyfords are now leading the children or grandchildren of their former students. ““That means a lot,” Lyford stated.

  • State of the Schools photo.jpg
    Superintendents celebrate past successes, look to the future
    Sept. 2, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - Remembering the past and the lessons it taught can be a worthwhile exercise. That goes hand in glove with the future, building on what worked and discarding what didn't meet expectations.
    Boone County's two superintendents of schools did a little of both Thursday morning during State of the Schools updates given at a monthly continental breakfast sponsored by the Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce.
    District 100 Superintendent Michael Houselog was up first and in slightly more than the scheduled 10-12 minutes, he celebrated what was right about those schools and their 8,100 students.
    Among the pluses were special education graduation rates increasing from 57 percent to 74.4 percent in four years. That compares favorably to more than 80 percent at Belvidere and Belvidere North high schools.
    The graduation rate used to be 71 percent, during what he termed "the good old days” when that was considered to be acceptable. The state average was 87 percent back then; now it has slipped to 83 percent while District 100 high schools both are over 80 percent.
    "That's worth celebrating," he said.
    Academic achievement is increasing despite the fact that 50 percent now are living in poverty, up from 23 percent 10 years ago. He attributed part of that improvement in the classroom to 58 percent of the district's budget being spent on instruction, compared with 42 percent 10 years ago. "We are putting our money where the priorities should be," he said.
    Briefly addressing the occasional criticism that District 100 should reduce the number of administrators, he said 2 percent of the budget was spent on building and district administration, compared with 4.1 percent at the state level. "We're running pretty lean," he said.
    Student attendance is increasing; chronic truancy has decreased from 7 percent to 1.3 percent.
    This is the seventh year of Running Start, a cooperative effort between District 100 and Rock Valley College. So far more than 220 seniors have graduated with both a high school diploma and two-year associate's degree.
    "Things may have gotten worse in some school districts, but not here, not in Boone County," Houselog said. "We've been a stable staple in the community - both school districts."
     
    School District 200
     
    District 200 Superintendent Steven Baule reported student use of tablets had gone from just seventh graders, in a pilot program last year, to both seventh and eighth graders this year.
    Goals were met in 2013-14 with student attendance increasing and disciplinary referrals decreasing. Even teacher attendance was up. And while he said the union didn't like to hear that, it was a fact.
    One seventh-grade teacher said he saw a high increase in student participation because of the tablets.
    District 200 graduation is more than 90 percent, Baule said, with the dropout rate at .06 percent, compared with the state's 2.1 percent. North Boone finished its first year in the Running Start program with Rock Valley College.
    The number taking advanced placement tests increased from 17 in 2010 to 114 last year. The goal, he said, is for every student to take at least one AP exam and one AP class before graduating.
    About one-third of North Boone's graduates go directly into a four-year school, with Northern Illinois University the top choice.
    Adequate Yearly Progress, under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, was dreaded by some school districts every year because of ramifications attached to test results. That now is a thing of the past.
    He said this was the year 100 percent of the students taking the state achievement test were to meet or exceed AYP standards. "Magically, we're done with that," he said.
    There will be new standards, but tied more to actual student achievement.
    Physically, District 200 improved security at its elementary, upper elementary, middle and high school buildings by going to a keyless entry system.
    Among the goals for 2014-15 are developing a long-range facilities plan and trying to get $13.1 million owed by the state for buildings constructed between 2003 and 2008.

  • both inspired to give photo.jpg
    Both inspired to give results in unexpected paths
    Aug. 31, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE-The moon and stars are not just what we view in our night sky.  They can be found in our homes, flea markets, antique shops and museums.  “Many a home has held a set of ‘Moon and Star’ canisters in its kitchen, a ‘Moon and Star candy compote on its coffee table or a beautiful ‘Moon and Star’ lamp on a bedside table. Collectors are drawn to the distinct pattern and the electric colors, ranging from ruby red, amber, green, colonial blue, amberina cobalt or the original crystal clear. For many of Americans, the memories of the ‘Moon and Star’ pieces are what make this glass one of the most popular patterns in vintage glassware collecting.
    In 1874, the Adams & Company introduce a new pattern of pressed glass they called "Palace". The glass known as “Palace” eventually earned the nickname, “Moon & Star” because of the star-like design and round depression that took on a moon shape but only gained the “Moon and Star” name once L.G. Wright began production. The early 1880’s pieces were all clear glass and came in the shape of goblets, sugar bowls, creamers, butter dishes, relish trays, shakers, spoon rests, candy compotes, and more utilitarian pieces,” according to moonandstarsglassclub.com.
    L.G. Wright a later manufacturer would initially add the color blue opalescent to what had only been clear dishes until this point.  Eventually additionally colors would be added and future producers would follow suit.
    Lyle and Mary Snyder loved attending flea markets.  In 1990, Mary began collecting pieces of the pattern “Moon and Stars”.  In the fall of 2013, the Snyder’s donated over 50 pieces of the pattern to the Boone County Historical Museum. Although currently living in Cherry Valley, Lyle grew up in Boone County and thought it appropriate to donate them locally.  “This way the public can enjoy them,” said Lyle Snyder.  When asked why she began to collect ‘Moon and Stars’, “They just caught my eye and I still have some at home that were not donated last fall.  There are so many beautiful colors,” said Mary Snyder.
    This past spring break Jim Whitcomb took his sons Jason and Jack to visit the Boone County Historical Museum.  Jason is a 7th grader at South Middle School and is the youngest of ten children Lisa and Jim Whitcomb have adopted. 
    “I like history and wanted to take my family on a tour of the museum.  While visiting last spring, Jason was impressed by all the glass and the different colors found in the display of ‘Moon and Stars’ on display at the museum,” said Jim Whitcomb.  “I liked all the colors but especially the green because I like nature.  They were bright and crystalized,” said Jason Whitcomb.
    The Whitcomb’s attend Rockford First and home schooled for many years.  Part of their children’s education was to volunteer and give back.  “I told my kids your life may have started out rough, but there are people who are much worse off than you,” said Lisa Whitcomb.  “It has been very important that we teach our children to give.” 
    Jason decided along with his neighborhood friends to put on a play this summer in the Whitcomb driveway.  Inspired by his sister Julia who is involved in theater, the 45 minute presentation was complete with costumes, wagons, and props.  The performance was titled “The Missing Kids”.  The purpose of this local youth production was a fundraiser for those less fortunate.  “It makes me sad that a lot of people do not have as good a life as I do,” said Jason.  Attended by neighbors and family, “The Missing Kids” raised $6.
    Following the production, Jim Whitcomb took his son Jason to the Salvation Army Thrift Store to make the donation.  “We had been in the store a week prior shopping for school clothes when Jason spotted the glass dish in the display case.  Jason recognized it as the ‘Moon and Stars’ pattern he had seen at the museum.  When we returned to make the donation a week later the piece was still there.  ‘Dad can you buy this?  I want to donate it to the museum.’  The Whitcomb’s purchased the glassware and made a second donation.
    Saturday Aug. 23 despite the horrific weather, the Snyder’s and Whitcomb families met for the very first time at the museum hearing of each other’s journey.  One donation inspired two.  Simply said, “Amazing!”    

  • purple and gold photo 7.JPG
    Purple and gold prepare for upcoming season
    Aug. 28, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – It was Purple and Gold night at Belvidere High School’s Funderberg stadium on Friday Aug. 22 as the members of all sports teams dressed in their uniforms for their official team photographs for the yearbook, were introduced on the field, and the girls volleyball and boys football teams played their first scrimmage game.
    “It is a dress rehearsal. We get a chance to go with officials and evaluate kids. It is a nice dry run. We will break down this film and treat it like any game,” Belvidere head coach Chuck Leonard said.  “We’ll go over it with the kids. They will get graded on it and know where they stand. We are looking to evaluate a couple of positions. This is their last chance to impress before we get going in the season. It should be a good night.”
    Quarterback Colton Bahling had his thoughts on the opening game on Aug. 29 against Belvidere North High School and the upcoming season. “We are preparing for North. It’s a big game,” Bahling said. “Overall my main goal is to make it to the playoffs.”
    “The kids have worked incredibly hard all summer long. Their work ethic has been impressive. About 75 to 80 percent of the kids have been here all summer working hard,” Leonard added. “The way they are coachable and listen, they try to improve. It is a really good group of kids and we are glad to have them.”
    Fans of girls volleyball had the opportunity to get a glimpse of the team as they played an inter-squad scrimmage in the gym. “I’m super happy with the girls,” girls volleyball head coach Jennifer Wedig praised the team. “This season we are looking forward to finishing top three in conference. The girls are working hard and they come to practice ready to work hard every day.”
    “We are looking forward to a good season.”

  • old farmin days photo 2.jpg
    Spend an old fashioned day in the country
    Aug. 26, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    CALEDONIA – It started with the purchase of an antique threshing machine 15 years ago.
    After Andy Ward of Caledonia purchased an antique threshing machine, he decided to try it out and he invited family and neighbors over for a picnic. From that family neighborhood picnic has grown into an event that attracts 2,500 to 3,000 visitors to the Ward family farm from throughout the Stateline area and beyond.
    Andy Ward, along with his wife Sarah and his parents Roger and Joanne will celebrate the fifteenth annual Old Farmin’ Days on Sept. 6 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Ward View Farm is located at 1171 Rockton Road in Caledonia.
    Simply driving to the Ward View farm on Rockton Rd. begins to prepare visitors to step back in time as Rockton Rd. as the road transforms a four lane road near the I-90 exit to a small country lane to a dirt road.
    The Wards and their friends create a good old-fashioned day in the country with good old fashioned values of cooperation and neighborliness. The cost to attend the Old Farmin’ Days is free. Although many say there is no such thing as a free lunch, it is at Old Farmin’ Days although donations are appreciated. “We don’t charge admission and we will give you a free lunch,” Roger Ward added. “Spend a day on the farm. All the cost is the gas to drive out here.”
    “We will be demonstrating several pieces of antique farm equipment being powered by either antique tractors or teams of draft horses nonstop from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.,” Andy Ward said.
    Approximately 100 antique tractors will be on display. For many of the tractor enthusiasts, the Old Farmin’ Days provides them with the rare opportunity to put their tractor back to work. “Anyone who wants to belt up to the machine and put their tractor on a threshing machine or a corn sheller, they can do that with their tractor while they are here,” Joanne Ward explained. “He likes to give them the opportunity to do it if they want to.”
    In addition to the threshing machine, visitors will have the opportunity to see in operation a corn sheller, silage filler, horse-operated grist mill, stationary baler operated by tractor, stationary baler operated by horses, hay loaders operated by horses, horse plowing. “New this year is “Haying with Horses”-a demonstration of seven pieces of hay equipment all with teams of horses,” Andy Ward added.
    Vaughn Johnson from Turtle Township in Wisconsin will make rope halters and lead straps. “He gives them to the kids for jump ropes,” Roger Ward said.
    Ed Mueller from Lake Somerset raises broom corn and will provide demonstrations of broom making. Others will demonstrate bobbin lace.
    “Back again this year is antique tractor pulls, pedal tractor pulls for the kids, and horse plowing demonstrations,” Andy Ward said. “We will also have kid’s games, a petting zoo, wagon rides, chainsaw art, blacksmithing, as well as plenty of farm antiques to see and watch. This is a great chance to step back in time and see how farming was done many years ago down on the farm.”
    For an event that honors old fashioned farming, it is fitting that among one of the greatest pleasures that the Ward family receives is an old fashioned expression of gratitude….a hand written letter. “People bring their families out. A few days later you get a thank you note in the mail from someone thanking them for the opportunity to come out,” Joanne Ward said “It is worth it.”

  • ALS Dousing 1.JPG
    ALS campaign brings ice water baths to Boone County
    Aug. 24, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - The courtyard at Belvidere North High School was a busy place Monday afternoon (Aug. 18) as four people were doused with ice water, as part of a national campaign to bring heightened awareness to Lou Gehrig's Disease.
    Belvidere School District 100 Superintendent Michael Houselog and Belvidere Education Association President Mark Luthin - on opposite sides in current teacher contract negotiations - joined hands in support of a good cause.
    They doused each other with buckets of ice water and shared a bucket that saturated Renee' Talbert, executive president of the Belvidere North student council, and Mathis Mateus, president of the school chapter of the National Honor Society.
    Amyothrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurological disorder that attacks nerve cells, which leads to muscle weakness, loss of the use of arms and legs and difficulty speaking. It was named for Lou Gehrig, professional baseball player for the New York Yankees from 1923-39, who died in 1942 at age 37.
    Houselog was the first to arrive, walking into the school with his own bucket and large bag of ice.
    While waiting for the event to start, Renee' said that was not part of her plan for the first day of school. But she was happy to participate in such a good cause.
    It was the same for Mathis, who said, "I'm up for this. Senior year. It's a good way to start the year."
    Photos of the dousing were taken by Courtney Huhta for the school's yearbook, a continuing memory of the day a national campaign stopped at Belvidere North High School.
    Before the first splash of water, Houselog called out Tom Lassandro, executive director of the Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce, to take the challenge. Those who are challenged have 24 hours to get the dousing or contribute $100 to the ALS Association.
    This campaign, which began in Boston, has been so successful that the association received $1.35 million in donationis between July 29 and Aug. 11. That compares to $22,000 for the same period in 2013.
    Pete Frakes, a former Boston College baseball player, was diagnosed with the disorder in 2012 and today is unable to speak. He posted his own ice bucket video to the tune of Vanilla Ice's Ice, Ice Baby and a social media firestorm followed.
    U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, already have accepted their challenges.
    "A small amount of discomfort to shed some light on this disease is a small price to pay to help raise awareness,"
    Syverson said in a statement. "This was a creative idea that helped raise awareness and research money for a vicious disease that robs otherwise health people of their quality of life."
    Experts claim only about half of the general public is familiar with ALS.
    More recently Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain put a video of his ice bucket experience on Facebook, and challenged Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg to do the same.

  • the first day wiggles photo.jpg
    The first day wiggles
    Aug. 21, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE- 94 kindergarten students began their education at Seth Whitman Elementary School on August 18.  Many students experienced their very first school bus ride and arrived for a new life experience.  Four classrooms each with their own theme greeted the students.  “The kindergarteners had to have an extra break today to get their wiggles out,” said Principal Nicole Difford of Seth Whitman Elementary School with laughter.  “They are just so excited!”  Wiggles, giggles and smiles were apparent on most student faces as they saw Mrs. Difford in the hallway.  Students called out to her and former teachers.  All were greeted with smiles and even a few hugs as they went from recess to lunch or to gym class. 
    Even for seasoned students, the first day of school can be rather intimidating.  However, those first day jitters were hopefully lessoned by the efforts of the staff at Seth Whitman.  “Last Thursday we held an event we call ‘The Kick Off Night’.  The entire building was open.  It offered the students and their parents the opportunity to bring in school supplies and to meet the teachers and ask questions prior to the first day of school and to pick up any needed supplies before the first day.  The PTO also provided Culver’s ice cream and everyone gets a scoop,” continued Difford.
    So what might students at Seth Whitman expect this year?  “I am really proud of our language growth program and its success.  It took easily seven years in the making to initiate this program and continues into each grade level beginning in kindergarten.  The program now is in our second grade students.  They were our very first students who started out in kindergarten.  As they reach middle school we hope to be able to offer them options.  The program offers language growth and bilingualism in reading and writing.  Students have remained in the program so it is a stable core and parents are very committed.  This year we have two kindergarten classrooms with a total of 44 students that are language based rooms.  The children are pre-screened and with parent approval enter into the program.  They are taught 50% in each language.  Mornings are Spanish and the afternoons dedicated to English,” explained Difford. 
    On the day the Belvidere Daily Republican visited Seth Whitman, Charlie Bear and a few of his friends along with Mrs. Moeller who is the school counselor were found visiting in Mrs. Norquist’s kindergarten classroom.  Now Charlie Bear is rather shy and will only speak into Mrs. Moeller’s ear, but he wants all the students to learn about respect, rules and keeping hands to themselves.  Students were attentive and well behaved as Mrs. Moeller and Charlie Bear visited with them for the very first time today.  Charlie Bear will be a regular visitor to the kindergarten classrooms the first few weeks of school.
    And no first day of school goes without that “first day school pictures” Moms and Dads require of their children.  One must wonder with the tech age if kids are now doing a “Selfie” first day pictures?  Alas, there were still plenty of “first day school pictures” inside and outside Seth Whitman taken by parents.  “We welcome parents to come a bit early to bring their students and be a part of the first day.  Some of them say their goodbyes outside, but many parents walk their students to their classrooms.  Parents take pictures out front by the sign and front doors or at the classroom door.    There were lots of smiles and a few tears in and outside the building today by Moms.  Despite the few emotional goodbyes, today went super smooth.  This is my best first day in my three years here as principal and its thanks to everyone at Seth putting forth such a great effort.” concluded Difford. 
    There was absolute excitement in the air with students all sporting their new school clothes, tennis shoes and lunch boxes and teachers doing their very best to start the school year off with a positive introduction.  There were a few students spotted with the “deer in the headlight look” as they were trying to take it all in the first day.  With the help of the staff at Seth Whitman they will quickly get into the school year routine.  By the end of the week, teachers, staff and students may all need a Friday afternoon power nap. 

  • CASA Roast photo 1.JPG
    Roast of state's attorney benefits abused, neglected children
    Aug. 20, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - Dig as they might, they couldn't find much with which to roast Boone County State's Attorney Michelle Courier Thursday night (Aug. 14).
    So they did their best to be sure the large crowd that turned out to benefit the county Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program had a few morsels to chuckle about.
    Courier is a redhead so the first to roast, County Administrator Ken Terrinoni, tried his hand at a few redhead jokes. After receiving a smattering of laughter, he said it was time to move on.
    She is a lawyer and so he took aim at that profession, a relatively easy target.
    He told the story of a lawyer who died at 30 years of age and asked St. Peter why he had been called so early? The guardian of the Pearly Gates outside Heaven had a quick answer ... they looked at his billable hours and thought he was 93.
    Why don't sharks attack lawyers? It's called professional courtesy.
    It was so cold last winter that a lawyer had his hands in his own pockets.
    Why was the lawyer skimming the Bible before he died? He was looking for loopholes.
    But all jokes aside, he said her efforts in fighting crime were appreciated by many people. "We are a better community because of you," he said.
    Longtime friend Mike Branom reminded Courier that they grew, saying, "I got out but you're still there."
    And he raised a question.
    After leaving Belvidere for Chicago, he said he moved back in 2007, when campaigning for state's attorney was under way. He saw her name on a campaign sign and wondered how someone their age could be running for that kind of office?
    "But then I thought about it and realized that if anyone could pull it off it was her," he said.
    He added that Courier really has no place in politics because she's too clean. "Still, I figured I could dig up something on her, but I could not. There are some fun stories but nothing embarrassing."
    Branom said how great it was to see what a difference she's making in the community.
    After a live auction, it was time for two more roasters: Lou Bianchi and Tawny Blatchford, to take aim at one of six female state's attorneys among Illinois' 102 counties.
    CASA's executive director, Charlotte Meier, said abuse and neglect happens right here in Belvidere. So far this year volunteer advocates have served 80 children. "Thankfully we have those advocates to be sure their voices are heard," she said.

  • wwi poster photo.jpg
    A treasure discovered in a tube
    Aug. 19, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BOONE COUNTY- Rumblings had been present prior to June 28, 1914.  On this date, the catalyst for WWI occurred when a Serbian nationalist by the name of Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire along with his wife Sophia in Sarajevo, Bosnia.  This assassination began “The war to end all wars”. 
    Referred to as cataclysmic, WWI was the first global war and involved 30 countries.  Fought in the horrific trenches of Europe (2,500 miles worth), it was estimated that there was one soldier per every four inches.  Men lived among death, mud and rats.  Bodies were buried in the walls of the trenches or lying on the ground.  Disease ran rapid and most men believed they were going to die.  By the end of the war in 1918, 65 million soldiers had been involved with nine million killed (6,000 men per day) and 21 million injured.
    “The four years of the Great War–as it was then known–saw unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction, thanks to grueling trench warfare and the introduction of modern weaponry such as machine guns, tanks and chemical weapons,” according to history.com.   
    Stateside, WWI propaganda posters were everywhere.  Other than newspapers, this was the only source of information and it was what the government wanted the public to know.  At that time, war information could take days and even weeks to reach our shores.  
    “There had never been a reason to open a tube we had marked WW2 Posters until I was planning the Veterans Exhibit that just concluded.  I was hopeful there was something I could use.  However, when I investigated tube and unrolled the posters, I did not have anything related to WW2, but instead discovered I had WW1 Cartoons.  With the aid of Steve Belonger, a volunteer, we did some research and quickly realized we had a treasure in the tube,” said Lonna Bentley Archivist at the Boone County Historical Museum.
     “This collection of James Cartoons was a series of WWI political posters from New Process Electro Corporation that were sent to businesses with the purpose of them being displayed in windows for customers to see.  Each poster has a different theme but all were meant to feed information on the war and entice patrons to shop at that establishment. Several in this collection focus on the sale of War Savings Stamps and Liberty Bonds.  Our collection contains 53 of these posters and begins in 1917.  This is a rare collection and not much information can be found on the New Process Electro Corporation whose president was Charles C. James and were sent out under a weekly subscription of $1 per week. The early ones in our collection show the corporate office as being on One Wall Street in NY and eventually they moved to 42nd at Broadway in NY,” continued Bentley.
    “The posters are first run and not reproductions and are believed to have hung in JR Balliet's store in Belvidere, Illinois as several of them have his name on the bottom as well as a few handwritten messages.  Upon further investigation, I found that the Committee of Public Information set the standards for satire and upon inspection at the bottom of one of the posters there was a message as to how effective the James Cartoons were in ‘spreading the word.” explained Bentley.
    “Duke University has 14 James Cartoons from 1920-21 and the Smithsonian has only a few posters.  We are so fortunate to have 53 of these rare posters as most were disposed of and very few have survived.  Our posters have marginal tears, original fold lines and slight patches of discoloration along the border.  Our posters are in good condition, but are fragile.  We will be having them on display beginning October 15.  In the meantime, if you wish to view them online, there is a virtual tour of the posters with complete explanations for each one.  You may visit http://www.bchmuseum.org/virtualexhibit/vex2/index.htm to view the posters.    If you are unable to attend the event and wish to view the posters after November 15, a 24 hour notice will be required.  We hope the community will take the time to stop by and view these amazing posters,” concluded Bentley.
    The museum is located at 314 South State Street, Belvidere, IL.  Hours of operation are Tuesday thru Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.  You may reach the museum at (815) 544-8391.

  • animal control photo.jpg
    County board to decide fate of new animal services building
    Aug. 17, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - The Boone County Board is expected to decide Wednesday Aug. 20 whether a new animal control services facility is built.
    The health and human services committee has done its part of the job. It recently recommended that the building, if constructed, be located on county-owned land on the east side of Illinois 76, just south of Spring Creek Road, where the highway department is located.
    Members of the finance, taxation and salaries committee are to decide the best way to pay for the $700,000 complex. But that recommendation won't come until after the full county board, including the five finance committee members, makes its decision.
    The finance committee discussed various options Tuesday night (Aug. 12) during a sometimes raucous meeting attended by more than 40 people who support a new building.
    Committee Chairman Karl Johnson several times had to call for order because of applauding, outbursts and continuous talking while the panel was discussing the matter.
    County Administrator Ken Terrinoni presented three options for financing the building.
    The first one was almost immediately eliminated because of an opinion from State's Attorney Michelle Courier. She determined the county could not obtain a bank loan for the project unless it was paid off within two years.
    Committee members discarded the possibility of taking out a series of two-year loans because of Courier's belief that such a move "would be difficult to justify" should the action be challenged in court.
     
    Payment shortfall
     
    The two other options were:
    * Alternate bonds, which the county used for the jail and courthouse projects. Voters would have the right to call for a referendum if they obtained enough valid signatures.
    * Debt certificates, which Terrinoni said would be "less complicated" and, in his opinion, the best choice. Voters would not have opportunity for a "back-door referendum" if this option was selected.
    Monthly payments would be $82,061 over 10 years, at 3 percent interest. They would be $58,536 over 15 years, also at 3 percent interest.
    The board increased dog registration fees by $5 last year, hoping the additional revenue would be sufficient to make payments on a new building. But revenue is falling short of expectations, leaving a $23,425 deficit in making the monthly payment.
    When Johnson said that amount of money "would be difficult to come up with," some in the audience laughed out loud, with one remarking, "That's ridiculous." That prompted him to once again ask for no comments from those in attendance.
    A number of people earlier spoke in favor of a new building, during the public comments portion of the meeting, and later, when the item came up on the committee's agenda.
    Committee member Cathy Ward offered several suggestions as to how the $23,000 deficit could be made up. Among them were reducing by 50 percent the donation given each year to Growth Dimensions, marketing arm of the county and city of Belvidere, or asking department heads to cut their spending by one-half percent.
     
    Help is offered
     
    "Professional fund-raisers have said they will help you," she said. "Six hundred people have signed petitions saying they will help you."
    Criticism from within came from committee member Marion Thornberry, who said, "We're sitting here tonight listening to people say why we can't do this, rather than looking for ways to do it. It's time to quit not doing our jobs and find a way to get this done."
    Side comments from the audience in support of his observations prompted another admonition from Johnson.
    When residents got a second chance to address the issue one asked about eliminating the $45,000 set aside for overtime in the public safety, sheriff's department and jail budgets.
    Johnson replied there were understandable reasons why overtime is necessary in law enforcement. A deputy can't just walk away from a case because his shift is over and he has to go to the station to punch out, the chairman said.
    But animal activist Robert Christianson, in a return trip to the podium, said, "All I hear is excuses."
    "These are facts, Mr. Christianson, not excuses," Johnson responded.
    The committee moved on to the next item on the agenda, a discussion of the current budget, which is projected to finish $189,000 in the red this year. A short time later all but a few of the animal building supporters left the room.

  • neighbors nite photo 3.jpg
    Historic Neighbor's Night Out still popular in Poplar Grove
    Aug. 14, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    POPLAR GROVE - The weather cooperated and that, along with the popularity of the annual summertime gathering, led to another large turnout for Neighbor's Night Out, held Aug. 2 at the North Boone Fire District 3 station and Lions Park.
    One of the new wrinkles this year was a series of tents set up on the property, occupied by representatives of local businesses. Poplar Grove Lions Club member Ron Quimby said that provided businesses with an opportunity to tell visitors about what they do and to fellowship with one another.
    One of the longtime staples of the event - the Lions Club pork chop sandwich lunch - went off without a hitch after being dampened by rain in recent years.
    There were plenty of activities throughout the day including a 5K run, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, all-star baseball and softball games, a car show and an evening of dancing to live music in bays usually occupied by fire trucks.
    The department's fleet of equipment was parked along the north side of the station for all to see. In addition, District 3's new advanced life support ambulance also was available for inspection.
    Capron Rescue Squad, which has been serving northern Boone County since 1957, participated with a display in the Lions Club booth. All three of its ambulances were there and it had an exhibit of its cardiac capabilities.
    Also, the Lifeline ambulance from OSF St. Anthony Hospital flew in at 12:30 p.m. and remained on the grounds for about three hours. 
    "The Lions Club is trying to return a focus to the community," said rescue squad Assistant Chief Tony Stepansky. "We plan to participate again next year."
    "I think it went very well," said Owen Costanza, new president of the Lions Club. "We will be putting together a committee and see about additional activities for next year."
    Neighbor's Night Out started in 1969 as a village-wide gathering, a throwback to Sunday school picnics and barn dances of an earlier time. It was initiated by a handful of Poplar Grove organizations and held downtown, behind Poplar Grove Elementary School.
    The carnival rides of years ago are gone, but grilled hotdogs are still part of the event.
    The Lions Club ultimately assumed responsibility for the gathering and District 3 has been part of it for the past 10 years.

  • casa photo 1.jpg
    Courier to be "roasted" Thursday night
    Aug. 13, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - Another in the series of "roasts" to benefit the Boone County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program is set for Thursday night at the downtown Belvidere Community Center, 111 N. First St.
    This year's focus of the good-natured barbs is Boone County State's Attorney Michelle Courier.
    Tickets are $35 per person.
    Community building doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the roast to follow.  Tickets may be purchased at the State Street locations of Alpine Bank; CASA office, 130 S. State St., second floor; 1988 Gateway C and the community building.
    CASA is an organization of volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children in this county and others. They work through the court system to represent the best interests of those children.
    All of the proceeds will go to CASA.
    Courier is in her second term at state's attorney. Prior to being elected here she served as the chief assistant state's attorney for McHenry County and as an attorney with a civil law practice.
    In addition to her duties as state's attorney, she also serves as attorney for the Boone County Board.
    She is a graduate of Belvidere High School and obtained her law degree from Northern Illinois University. She also has degrees from the University of Illinois and University of Regensburg in Germany.
    She is married and has two children.
    Gang activity has been severely impacted during her stint here as state's attorney.
    Dave Ernest, deputy chief of the Belvidere Police Department, was talking about the county's zero tolerance for gangs during a candidate's forum Feb. 25 at Candlewick Lake.
    Belvidere PD, which has its own gang unit, once joined Courier in filing a lawsuit against the Latin Kings gang. Now, if any of them are seen associating with other gang members, they are subject to arrest.
    "Harvard hates us because a lot of our gang members have moved over there," he said, referring to the nearby northern McHenry County city.
    Ernest, who won the primary and since has become sheriff-elect, pledged to continue that work with Courier and the police department.

  • obstacle course photo.JPG
    Cameraderie fuels obstacle course, feed race at fair
    Aug. 12, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    BDR Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – The obstacle course and feed race are a fun opportunity for equestrians who do not have show horses to participate in the Boone County Fair in a night of levity and camaraderie.
    The outside horse arena was transformed on Aug. 6 into an obstacle course in which horse and buggy drivers had three minutes to perform a variety of challenges including stop with all four feet on a bridge, going through a trash alley, make a 180 degree left turn inside a circle, collect mail from a mailbox, drive forward through a fence area and then back up, and back up through a hitch obstacles.
    In the three minute long event, drivers have to attempt each obstacle at least one time. They can attempt obstacles multiple times to accumulate additional points. Each obstacle has a specific point value based on level of difficulty.
    “We brought this idea back from the National West Stock Show in Denver 10 years ago. The Fair Board gave us $500 to run this and a page in the Fair book,” Bob Kemp said. “They said if you get 20 teams, then the state will sponsor it. We got 46 teams the first year. The second year we added the feed race and we had 86 contestants.  We have been doing it ever since.”
    “I went out there with my horses and it was fun to do so we thought it would b e a good entertainment here.”
    In the draft horse division, pint-sized Cheyenne Clevenger from Rockford competed with a pair of Percherons. Because of her age, Clevenger needed her dad, Jim, to ride in the cart with her while she took control of the reins and drove the pair throughout the obstacle course.
    The Clevenger’s got into a bit of trouble when one of the Percherons worked his bit free from the bridle. “He was being a brat,” Cheyenne Clevenger said of her horse who has figured out how to unhook his bit from the bridel. “That’s why we were going around in circles,” she said.
    The clock stopped on the race temporarily so Jim Clevenger could adjust the bit and bridle before resuming the race. Once the bit and bridle was adjusted, the girl was able to adeptly maneuver through the remaining tasks.
    This is the first year Clevenger has competed in the obstacle course with the 17.2 and 17.3 hand draft horses. In the past he competed with standard sized horses. The Cleverdons who own Chasing Dreams Percherons farm migrated to the draft horses because he was bored and have other friends who have the gentle giants.
    Elk Horn eighth grade reading and writing teacher Randy Kurth competed with a pair of Belgians. “It was the first time I ever did this,” Kurth said.
    Kurth, who usually competes in pulling competitions and has his horses fitted with special shoes that dig into the ground.
    “Lynette Miller used to judge the contest and she talked me into coming down to compete in the feed race. I thought that as long as I was down here I would try the obstacle course too,” Kurth said.
    Both Kurth and the Clevengers competed in the feed race.  “I am going to be driving,” Cheyenne Clevenger declared.
    This (the obstacle course) is more challenging for the individual,” Kemp explained.  “The feed race is more entertaining because you see two people trying to beat each other.”
    In the feed race, pairs of teams race against each other to load between two and 6 bales of hay into a sled and drop off the hay at specific checkpoints before racing towards the finish line.
    The feed race began with Clinton High School students Taylor North driving a sled pulled by her ponies with Riley Hubbard as her baler. The pair wore Clinton FFA t-shirts as they navigated the course. Before the race, Hubbard indicated that his race strategy was to save time by “grab two load it on. Grab one.”
    The pair ran their heat unopposed due. During the race, Hubbard loaded one bale at a time on to the sled. When questioned about the change in strategy, Hubbard replied “ahhhhh. We got out there and…..oh well.
    In one of the most humorous heats of the day, Todd Greenlee from Caledonia drove a team of burrows with Jackie Woolover as his baler. They raced against Jared Ellingson and Austin Brockmann who drove another pair of burrows owned by Greenlee who was wearing a long sleeved shirt that looked like an American flag. Their heat was amusing from the start as the four burrows sauntered from the starting line despite Ellingson’s and Greenlee’s best efforts to hurry them along.
    Greenlee got into trouble when one of his burrows started to feed on the bales of hay as Woolover loaded three bales of hay on to the sled.
    With the loading complete, the pair advanced another 15 feet before the burrows came to a complete stop.
    “One of my guys wanted to eat one of the bales.  However we had to divert his attention and go back out on the side,” Greenlee explained. “I pulled his bridle off accidentally and he got back into the game.  Once he got down and more relaxed, he wanted to go then.”
    “Greenlee’s burrows have two speeds. Slow and none,” called the announcer.
    “’Merica!” shouted a fan from the sidelines in reference to Greenlee’s patriotic shirt.
    In the meanwhile, Ellingson and Brockman plodded their way through the course. Although each team is supposed to come to a complete stop to load and unload bales of hay, the pair threw their second bale of hay off of the sled without stopping.
    After the race, Ellingson was jokingly accused of cheating.
    “Oh we cheated? Well these guys have a mind of their own sometimes. So it is hard to stop them,” Ellingson explained. “I pulled back and they weren’t stopping so I told him to throw the bale.”
    “’They’re not stopping throw the bale’ were his exact words,” Brockmann added.
    “It is a fun event for people who do not show,” Sandy Brockmann said.”It is a camaraderie event.”

  • poultry photo 2.jpg
    4-H Poultry Show teaches flocks of kids
    Aug. 10, 2014
    By Rhonda Mix
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - Bright and early on opening day of the Boone County Fair, a chorus of cackles and screeches could be heard echoing throughout the misty fairgrounds. The commotion came from inside the poultry building, where energy was not only running high because it was opening day of the fair, but also because it was the day of the 4-H Poultry Show.
    Most children – and some parents – who participated in the show were literally “up with the birds” as they helped set up for the main event. An excited air lingered in the building as the prized varieties of poultry, ranging from turkeys to ducks to chickens and other assorted birds, grew increasingly vocal. A good number of young people walked to and fro between the rows of cages filled with their feathered friends and checked to make sure all was well. The birds put on quite a good show and proudly puffed up their feathers and strutted around as best as they could. However, some contenders sat quietly in children's arms, as if trying to model proper show behavior to their competitors. 
    Building Superintendent Dan Tuttle was interviewed prior to judging. He said he has enjoyed managing the building and working with the fair for more than 20 years and also enjoys the opportunity to oversee both the 4-Show and the Open Junior Poultry Show. The 4-H show in particular, means a lot to him.
    “My boys grew up showing in 4-H and FFA,” he said. “I've enjoyed the Boone County Fair since I was 8, I'm 65 now. I love to work with the kids,” he added. “4-H is for learning [and this show] explains judging categories such as coloring, et cetera. It teaches kids what to look for....Today is an important day for young kids to learn about breeds as there are hundreds of bird types.”
    He also shared that in both shows, the birds are judged on characteristics such as their feathers, conditioning, eye color and overall appearance.
    As the day progressed, numerous awards were given for different categories. Children accepted the awards graciously and with maturity.
    One such young person was Poplar Grove resident, Benjamin Hooker, 14. He had the pleasure of seeing his female East Indies Duck crowned the grand champion of her category.
    “It feels really good,” he said after receiving the award. “I kinda predicted she would win – I knew she was going to do good,” he added, proudly cradling the duck in his arms. “She is good in her cage.”
    When asked why he enjoys participating in 4-H, Hooker said that one big reason he enjoys the program is because he thinks it is fun and he likes the shows. “Kids who participate will probably have a lot of fun – it is fun to be in 4-H.”
    Parents of 4-Hers seem to think so too; they also enjoy the responsibility 4-H teaches.
    “It helps [my daughter] be responsible for the care of the animal and allows interaction with other children who have the same responsibilities as well,” said Rockford resident Brad Bowyer, gesturing to his daughter Sarah Grace as she prepped her bird. “She has a lot of fun with it and understands that is also work.”
    Whatever a child's reason for joining 4-H, this year's 4-H Poultry Show was a proud and successful day for participants and poultry alike.

  • road to fair - horse photo 4.JPG
    Horse shows hearken back to an era of yesteryear
    Aug. 7, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – Throughout the summer, the horse arena complex at the Boone County Fairgrounds was host to a series of horse shows.
    Ladies and gentlemen dressed in their finest attire as they rode in carts and were pulled by horses and ponies.  “They want you to look classy,” said 4-H Driving Team coach Danielle Brotz.
    First year 4-H student Charlie Andres who competed in the in July was excited as she prepared for the Boone County Fair. She will be at the Boone County Fair with a horse named Wobbles that she received for her eighth birthday.
    While many children ask for a horse or puppy for birthdays and holidays only to be denied, Wobbles was a surprise gift for Andres. “I didn’t even want one then. I was very surprised,” Andres said.
    The Seth Whitman Elementary School student lives on a small farm that has ducks, horses and a goat named Earl. “He has his own pasture and he is a lot of fun even though he comes and rams us,” Andres said.
    Fourteen year old Elle Maculan does both cart and riding with her Welch pony named Jack.  Maculan first started competing when she was six years old. “We got to know the people who I got him from. They show drove and they asked me to drive for them,” Maculan explained. “Now I am driving my own.”
    In addition to Jack, Maculan has a blind miniature horse named Pico. “He found us,” Maculan said.
    A rescue horse, Pico was adopted by neighbors and put into a pasture with other horses. Because of his small size, Pico was able to walk through the electric fencing and escape and made his way across woods and pasture to the Maculan farm.
    By the time the Maculan family was able to locate Pico’s owners, he had become fast friends with the Maculan’s quarter horse. “He follows the quarter horse everywhere,” Maculan said.
    Although not yet being used in competitions Pico loves to pull the cart. “He drives like you wouldn’t believe,” Maculan said. “You have to hold him back.”
    Brotz will attend the Boone County Fair as the 4-H Driving Team coach.  Brotz is Andres’ coach and teaches her the fundamentals of riding and horse care with the team who range in age from 8 – 18.
    “You have to wear a helmet to protect your head when you are driving, smile, keep your arms and back straight,” Andres said. She sometimes found it difficult to smile throughout the time in the ring. “It’s hard to smile when you have to cluck to get the horse to go.”
    As each class is introduced into the ring, the horses and their drivers position themselves in the center of the track.  When the competition begins, the horses begin to circle the ring.  At varying intervals, the riders are given the commands to walk, trot and extend your trot.  An extended trot is simply a faster trot.
    “The judge looks for the horse that is the most pleasurable horse to drive. They want the horse to keep its head parallel with the ground and it needs to be low. They look during the transitions from a walk to a trot or a trot to a cantor,” Brotz explained. “They cannot raise their head. They want them to go very steady. They are looking for a little more speed driving.”
    “The judge is looking for the driver to sit tall and be looking where they are going. They should be looking straight ahead. Their arms should be straight with just a little bend in them.”
    After the field of horses completes its circuits around the ring, they line up in the center of the ring.
    “Once they call them in the center, she is looking at their back number and deciding what place she is going to put them in,” Brotz explained.  It takes a while for the judge to review his or her notes and to evaluate what mistakes were noted on the scoring sheet.  The horses and their drivers are simply waiting while the judge determines the scoring order.”
    The Boone County Fair has a strong reputation for its equestrian events. Since the horse was first built, several wings were added  to the building, additional barns were built. This year tents were brought in to accommodate all of the number of horses at the fair.

  • road to fair - year as queen photo 2.JPG
    Johnson, Wendell review their year as Boone County’s royalty
    Aug. 6, 2014
    BELVIDERE – It began with screams.
    The first words that Olivia Johnson and Tallory Wendell used to describe the moment that they realized that they would be crowned as Queen and Little Miss at the 2013 Miss Boone County pageant.
    Wendell could hear her mom, Jill Wendell, and brother Griffin screaming as she was announced as Little Miss.  “I was really excited during that moment,” Tallory Wendell said. “I was so excited and just couldn’t wait for the year to begin and find out who I was going to be with.”
    Moments later when the MC Chelsey Lee said the first few sounds of first runner-up Savanna Hansen’s name, the crowd erupted into such thunderous screams that it drowned out everything else. “I didn’t know what was coming from where. I just knew I had to go to the middle and get my crown,” Johnson said. “It was all so overwhelming.”
    In the moments after she was crowned, Johnson’s mind was racing. “I remember thinking. I was so excited. I had a bunch of thoughts going through my head. I cannot pinpoint them. I started thinking about the whole week I was going to have, or the whole year and all of the excitement. And my family - wondering where they were,” Johnson said. “At the same time I was trying to sit there still while the other Queen was pinning the crown on me.  Just in that moment I was so excited.”
    “I was really thankful, and I was thinking here is my opportunity to make a difference and talk to little girls. It was an exciting time all over.”
    After getting crowned as Boone County’s royalty at the pageant, the County’s first real view of the Queen and Little Miss is during fair week as they have a full schedule to attend many of the shows and events.  “I love the day after the pageant,” Johnson said. “Once you win, you get that first day and it was just Tallory and me. We were able to bond and get closer.”
    “It was fun being the Queen and the Princess, Wendell said. “There is the Queen and the Princess. Oh look there they go! I want a picture with you guys,” Wendell said of the crowd’s reaction to seeing her and Johnson as they moved throughout the Boone County Fairgrounds.
    “We went to a ton of animal shows. We got out hand out awards. We got a ride on a draft horse. We helped with the kids games and gave out awards and trophies. We participated in the watermelon eating contest,” Johnson recalled many of the events that she and Wendell attended during fair week. “We went to all of the shows at the grandstand. We got to drop the green flag for the derby.”
    “The egg throwing contest,” Wendell interjected.
    “We lost that right away,” Johnson laughed as Wendell smiled broadly at the memory.
    “During the fair week is when I started to see a whole other side of our community through the events I was taken to,” Johnson said.
    “I had no idea until I actually won the title. My eyes were completely opened to our community.”
    Their first Boone County public appearance after the Boone and Winnebago county fairs was the ice cream social at the Boone County Historical Society in mid-August. “I also loved that we have an ice cream social. I never knew that we had one before,” Johnson said. She and Wendell entertained the crowd by singing a duet together.
    “The pie was good,” Wendell added.
    “The pie was delicious!” Johnson exclaimed “Pie, ice cream, sing, and there are cars. It was great.”
    “Growing up I wished we had events like this. I wished our town did things like this or that.  And then I realized that we did. Now I want to go to these events more often.”
    Johnson made 35 public events during the course of the year.  During one weekend in February, she attended a Flora Grange spaghetti dinner, the Boone County Fire District #1 pancake breakfast and the Boone County Rural Fire District #3 pancake breakfast.  With a welcoming smile on her face, Johnson served meals to thousands of hungry diners.  Over the course of the weekend, the height of her heels decreased from high heels on Friday night to flats on Sunday.  “I was wearing heels for flipping pancakes. I learned how to dress for different events,” Johnson laughed.
    One of the most poignant events that Johnson attended was when she travelled with the Lutheran Emergency Response Team to Washington, Ill. after a devastating tornado. Wearing boots, jeans, a coat and her sash and crown, Johnson dug in to help separate rubble from the tornado victims’ precious belongings.
    The pair competed with Lyle Lee and Al Henninger to represent the Fair Board in the Food Cart Frenzy sponsored by Prairie Grange at Pacemakers. Johnson walked with the nine contestants for Miss Boone County 2014.
    Johnson travelled to Springfield in January to compete with 71 other contestants for the title of Miss Illinois County Fair Queen.  If Johnson thought that Boone County pageant director Sharyn Geske had strict rules for attire, she most likely appreciated Geske’s firm expectations by the time she reached the state pageant. The state pageant has strict rules regarding how low the neckline for a swimsuit or evening gown can plunge, how high of a slit can be on a contestant’s dress, and even the contestant’s cyber presence.
    “We have to be strict because the state is very strict about this.  Outfits are measured for modesty,” Geske said. “They have gown pictures and swimsuit pictures.  The gown you put on to go on stage had better be the one that goes on stage.”
    “We are portraying ladies.”
    Geske spoke of a contestant from another county who posted some questionable photos of herself on social media. A week before the state pageant, the contestant was brought before her pageant director and stripped of her title. The first runner-up assumed the post and had a week to prepare, learn the routines and be fitted for the original queen’s attire.
    Wendell traveled to Springfield to cheer on Johnson in the competition.  Megan Magee from neighboring Winnebago County was named as first runner-up of Miss Illinois State County Fair Queen. “It was really cool to see Miss Winnebago got first runner-up,” Johnson said. “I was really proud of her.”
    In May, Wendell, Johnson and Hansen participated in the Young at Hearts parade in Loves Park. The theme of the parade was America’s favorite past time – baseball.  Given the choice between dressing in their evening gowns or baseball attire, the trio decided to dress up in baseball uniforms.
    As they waited for the parade to get moving, Dave Geske’s 63 Bonneville convertible died. Rather than pulling out of the parade, the women made a last minute decision to walk the parade.
    “We heard a few remarks such as ‘Boone County doesn’t have a car,’” Geske said. Those astonished remarks quickly changed to “oh look there’s Boone County. They’re walking the parade! They’re baseball players. Isn’t that cute?”
    “It definitely made an impression we were here.”
    As their year as Queen and Little Miss, Johnson and Wendell began the process to prepare their replacements. At the Queen’s party, “I told them I did 35 events. I let them know this is a serious thing. I absolutely love it,” Johnson said. “
    “I am not ready to give up crown yet. I think whoever is going to be Miss Boone County is going to make a great Queen. But it is going to be really hard for me,” Johnson said. “I have this new love for my County and the people. It is going to be really hard to hand it over. I will still be friends with the Fair Board and the Granges, but it will not be the same. I will not see them as often and that is going to be really hard.”
    Both Johnson and Wendell looked forward to attending Boone County events in the future. “It has made me realize what goes on in our community. I am going to go to this event next year and this event because now I know about them,” Johnson said. “It definitely makes me think more about the future and if joining the Granges is what I want to do, being more aware of what is happening in our community, and seeing how many of our people in our community come together.”
    “I want to go to a bunch of events that we went to this year that I didn’t know our county had,” Wendell added.
    “They have both been excellent representatives of the county,” Geske praised Johnson and Wendell.
    As for Wendell, Boone County has not seen the last of her.  She has plans to run for Miss Boone County Fair when she is older. “Lyle said he wants me to do it too,” she said.

  • Default image
    Seven local Granges combine to form Pomona Grange
    Aug. 5, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BOONE COUNTY – In the hierarchy of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, subordinate community Granges are grouped together within a county to form a Pomona Grange. In Boone County there are seven subordinate Granges. They are Beaver Valley, Big Thunder, Capron, County Line, Flora, Leroy and Prairie.
    “We represent all of the Granges in the county. We are a place where all of the Grange members can come and network and find out what the other 6 Granges are doing,” Pomona president Tom Ratcliffe said. “We can get together on a county wide level.”
    “Members from each Grange can join Pomona Grange. All you have to do is be a member of a supporting Grange,” Jo Ellen Coleman explained. “Most people who attend Pomona are active members of their Grange.”
    There are approximately 500 Grange members of the seven subordinate Granges. Of those individuals, approximately 175 also belong to Pomona Grange.
    In Boone County, the Granges own and operate Boone County Fair. Members of the Granges serve as the officers and directors of the Boone County Fair board. Grange members work countless hours maintaining the fairgrounds and running the fair.  Of the 1,000 volunteers who work to make the Boone County Fair a success, approximately 500 of the volunteers come from the Granges.
    The Granges form an interesting dichotomy.  As public in their endeavors as Grange is in running of the Boone County Fair, they are as equally private in their community service.  “As a whole the Granges do a lot of good things for the community. We don’t brag about it we just go about and do it. We don’t care about the attention or applause,” Coleman said.
    The supporting Granges are heavily involved in community service activities. Many Granges will purchase a Christmas tree and adopt a family during Hometown Christmas, adopt sections or roadways for clean-up, donate thousands of dollars worth of food through the Food Cart Frenzy, organize Boone County’s Relay for Life, serve food at community events, donate time to the Salvation Army, host Safety Town, and help their neighbors in need.
    At every Pomona Grange meeting after the speaker has completed their presentation and the subordinate Granges have presented their reports, the question is asked if the Grange members know of anyone in the County is sick or in distress.  “A lot of times we send people or money to people in a need,” Coleman said
    Following the Jan. 2008 tornado that struck Boone County, many Grange members turned out to help tornado victims clean up and salvage many of their belongings. Other Grange members served meals and drinks to the volunteers who showed up.
    The Granges were first organized following the Civil War when President Andrew Johnson turned to Oliver Kelley to develop an organization to help rebuild the country. “Back then the United States was an agricultural society.  Agriculture played an important role in the United States economy,” Ratcliffe said.
    A member of the Masons, Kelley enlisted the assistance of William Saunders, .Francis McDowell, John Trimble, Aaron Grosh, John Thompson, William Ireland and Caroline Hall to form the first Grange in Freedonia, NY. With several Masons as members amongst their ranks, they built an organization that was similar in structure and ritual to the Masons.
    Because of its historical connection to the Masons, the Granges has degrees of membership, each with its own theme, a secret handshake and knock, and rituals.  The initiation ceremony was similar to a four act play in which the officers and members play roles.
    “When Jim and I first joined in the 1990s I thought hmmm did we get in the wrong place here or what because they had that heavy of a ritual,” Ruth Blasingame said.  She is the president-elect of the Pomona Grange and will take the helm from Ratcliffe on Sep. 3. “Over the years we figured out we could get more members if we changed it a bit.  They used to take a password. We don’t do that anymore. Anyone is welcome to attend our meetings without being a member to see what we’re about and if they want to join us. It is not like it was before.”
    The Pomona Grange holds a chili supper fundraiser on the last Sunday in February. “It is biggest team effort outside of Fair,” Ratcliffe said.
    To join any of the Boone County Granges, inquire from any Grange member.

  • road to fair junior grange photo.jpg
    Junior Grange members learn a love of community
    Aug. 3, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BOONE COUNTY – The youngest Grange members can be as young as five years old. Both Flora and Prairie Granges have Junior Granges for children from ages 5 – 14. During Grange meetings, the Junior Grangers have their own meeting and they work on projects and community service activities.
    A favorite community service activity among members of Prairie Junior Grange is the Words for Thirds. Prairie Grange donates dictionaries to each third grade student in Boone County. “They really enjoy doing the dictionaries. They think that is a fantastic thing to do. Each of the kids that I have right now are older kids and they have received that dictionary from the Grange,” Prairie Junior Grange leader Kimberly Robin explained. “They think that is a cool thing that they can give that dictionary to the kids who are younger than them.”
    “They are always willing to put the labels in the front of the dictionary,” Prairie Grange president Ruth Blasingame said.
    Flora Junior Grange members hold a duck race fundraiser. Participants pay $1 for a numbered rubber duck that is floated down the creek. The fundraiser helps support the Oliver Kelly Farm in Elk River, Minn. An 1860s working farm, it is a living museum dedicated to the founder of the nation’s first Grange. The money raised helps to support the feeding of the animals during the winter months.
    “Another thing we do is the Cherry Valley kids’ parade on the Fourth of July and toss out small gifts instead of candy,” Kathee Frazer said. “We are trying to do something a little different. We have a trailer that we decorate and advertise the Boone County Fair at the parade.”
    Members of both Junior Granges participate in a wide variety of community service activities from pulling weeds at the fairgrounds, decorating and sponsoring a tree in Hometown Christmas, and collecting donations for the needy.
    “If the adults have a project that is going on that we can help out, we do. They help clean up, paint, pull weeds, set up chairs, and serve food,” Frazer said. “We try to do a lot of things together. It is a family thing.”
    “My dad is a Fair Board director so we help him. We help my grandma at the ticket office,” Rebbeca Meyers said. Her dad is Jeremy Meyers who is the diesel superintendent of the truck pull. The girl’s grandmother is Blasingame.
    “I feel that our community. service is not just helping someone out. It is participating and learning about our community,” Robin said. “It is what learning what a good patriot is supposed to be.’
    “It is a learning experience for everyone and helps them grow in the community,” Blasingame added.
    Prairie Junior Grange members participated in the Food Cart Frenzy. With their youth and boundless energy, the Prairie Junior Grange traditionally fills their shopping cart with the most number of items each year. This year they were unseated by Prairie Grange.
    “It was fun,” Rebbeca Meyers said of the Food Cart Frenzy.
    “Not really, because we did not win this year,” her twin sister Sammantha.
    Junior Grange members work on a variety of craft projects that they work on for the state convention. “We have a project that we are going to do for state session,” Rebbeca said. “We are going to build a shoe box diorama of things that that we do on a rainy day.”
    “We do a lot of arts and crafts. There is a theme that is set by the state each year,” Frazer said. “This year we made bird houses, stepping stones, wind chimes.”
    Although the parents of most of the Junior Grangers are also Grange members, Grange membership by the parents is not a requirement.
    “I always tell the kids to bring a friend. The more the merrier,” Frazer said.  “Everybody is welcome. We would love to have more kids come.”
    “It is a great opportunity for new families who move into the area to get involved in the community and see what our community is all about,” Robin added. “If they have children, I would be more than happy to take them into this Grange and teach them what this community is and how they can help this community.”
    “It has everything to do with putting back in our community,” Robin said.  “We enjoy having these kids realize that there is something out there better than a video game.” “There is something out there better than worrying about where you are going to get your next video game.”
    For anyone who is interested in joining a Grange, all they need to do is ask any Grange member.

  • throwback thursday - century of blue ribbon photo.jpg
    A century plus of family history in one blue ribbon
    July 31, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    This article is part of the Belvidere Daily Republican’s Throwback Thursday to update readers on an item that was covered by the Belvidere Daily Republican.
    BELVIDERE-Upon entering Mrs. Louise Miles home in Belvidere, a blue rectangular frame resides just as one enters.  Protected within the frame is a blue ribbon.  Upon closer examination, it is a Boone County First Premium Agricultural Society blue ribbon from 1914 earned at the Boone County Fair.  Held in high regards, it maintains its proper place of distinction as it is hung to be visible and prominent for all to see who enter.
    “My father won this blue ribbon for Poland-China Hogs in 1914 when the fair was still being held at the old fairgrounds”, said Louise Miles.  A century ago Lewis R. Hawkey (1900-1985) entered into the 1914 Boone County Fair.  His family farm had an address of Cherry Valley; however the farm was located on Grant Hwy within Boone County.
    His story and that of the Hawkey family began long before 1914.  At the age of 8 or 9, Lewis Hawkey began helping his father Robert by preparing animals for exhibit, “barely big enough to hang onto the rope” Hawkey was quoted as saying. 
    At that time, animals were transported by railroad stock cars.  Hawkey and his father traveled to Beloit, Janesville, Elkhorn, Kane and Winnebago fairs.  Showing on his own, Hawkey first entered the Boone County Fair in 1912 with poultry and later hogs.  By 1914 at the age of 14 he won a blue ribbon for Poland China Hogs.
    Upon investigation on Louise’s dining room table, there are binders full of newspaper articles related to her father in regards to either hogs or sheep.  One must wonder if this single blue ribbon from 1914 that hangs on the wall inspired a young man in his future fair and community involvement.   
    It was reported that Hawkey would continue to show hogs until 1918 when the flu epidemic occurred.   According to a Belvidere Daily Republican newspaper article published August 15, 1977, “…in the flu epidemic of 1918, the hogs were all lost. ‘and I nearly died too.’  He remembers he was laid up for a full month that year with the flu.”
    It was after the flu epidemic, Hawkey switched his interest into raising sheep. “‘I was always interested in sheep.  First I showed Shropshires, but then I showed Cheviots and have for the past 30 years.’”
    The flu is still an issue at fairs today.  Hogs are auctioned at the fair and are not permitted to return home to avoid any possible outbreak of disease for a hog farmer.  You will not find baby piglets at the “Wee Farm” for this very reason.  A century later, it is still a major concern.
    Hawkey would enlist his knowledge and enthusiasm by eventually becoming director and superintendent of the sheep department at the Boone County Fair as well as continuing as an exhibitor.  “My Grandfather Robert Hawkey was President of the Boone County Fair.  We have a long family tradition.  When my father began as superintendent, there was only 30-40 head entered.  With his leadership it expanded to about 450.  He encouraged the continued interest of young 4-H members in exhibiting sheep.  In 1982 the Dorset Flock Trophy was established and after my father’s death in 1985 I have continued it in my father’s memory and it is awarded each year at the Boone County Fair”, concluded Miles. 
    Lewis Hawkey would continue to participate in the Boone County Fair and other circuits for decades to follow.  He also would serve 30 years on the Boone County Board and was a member of the former Townline Grange.  Honors included but not limited are a silver trophy presented in 1977 for 65 years of continuous exhibiting at the Boone County Fair and too many blue ribbons to count.  He also won two first place winning plus one grand champion ribbon on his Cheviot Ram at the National Cheviot Sheep show held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, CA in 1972.  Hawkey would also receive the National Trophy for the Ram.
    The experience of the preparation and anticipation of winning and being awarded a ribbon will last lifetime. 
    So whom will we be writing about 25, 50 or in the next century?  Which young 4-H entrant will make a lifelong impact on our Boone County Fair by winning their first blue ribbon?  It could be a young man or even a young woman that could be the next great breeder following decades of tradition right here in Boone County.

  • road to fair - amusement photo 1.jpg
    Carnival business is a family affair
    July 30, 2014
    By Rhonda Anderson
    Reporter
     
    MARENGO - Have you ever wondered who manages and maintains all those amusement park-style rides at the Boone County Fair?
    Providing carnival attractions for local fairs has been part of the Skinner family for more than 100 years and five generations. DRS Skinners' Amusements Inc. originated in Crystal Lake in 1910.
    “We're what you call forty milers,” said business owner Pat Skinner, as she shared how the operation works. Skinners' Amusements will travel up to 40 miles with its carnival ensemble, but will not venture out much beyond that so the company's more than 20 employees can remain close to home.
    The business serves sponsored events and community celebration fundraisers throughout McHenry, Boone, DeKalb, Grundy, Lake, Ogle and Winnebago counties. Services offered include a complete carnival midway with customized programing, as well as resources for food concessions, games, security, tents, disposal, cleanup and portalets.
    “One advantage we have over other amusement companies is that we are a family-owned business and we all operate on location,” said Skinner. “We don't just send the rides off to be set up by other people. This enables us to be there to maintain everything.”
    New to the Boone County Fair this year will be a ride called the Cliff Hanger, as well as an automated ticket machine – which will come in handy for individuals who don't like to stand in line and wait on other people to serve them.
    “[The machine] has its definite benefits and it doesn't have to go to the bathroom” laughed Skinner.
    She added that a good majority of the fair rides are newer models that were purchased in 2012 and 2013. The rides are fully insured and are state inspected; staff members also inspect each ride daily with check sheet requirements.
    Skinner believes many fairgoers still appreciate traditional carnival rides, such as the Ferris wheel. However, she said, younger generations gravitate toward the more cosmetically appealing and “sophisticated” rides.
    “They like the colorful machines that go up and down. Rides like the merry-go-round are [now] geared toward parents and grandparents, who grew up with them. But people still love the Ferris wheel and the slide, all are pretty equal.”
    One great part of having a traveling family business, Skinner reflected, is meeting new people and making friends.
    “I love working with the different communities and fair boards,” she said. “Each location we go back to is like meeting old friends again. Boone County Fair is one of the finest, most well-run fairs in the state, and it's also one of the largest. Each day working there is as good as the next. And the Fair Board does a wonderful job providing entertainment for everybody.”
    Skinners' Amusements is affiliated with the Out Door Amusement Association, National Association of Ride Safety, Showmen's League of America, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Association of Agricultural Faris, IISA and the Mental Health Resource League Board of McHenry County.
    For more information, visit skinneramusements.com.

  • garden prairie chicken broast photo 3.jpg
    Garden Prairie chicken broasts attracts a loyal following
    July 29, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    GARDEN PRAIRIE – For anyone who missed the Garden Prairie chicken broast on July 20, you still have a second opportunity this summer for delicious chicken, corn, cucumber and tomato salad, and old fashioned country fun.
    The Garden Prairie Prairie Improvement Association (GPIA) held the first of its two chicken broasts on July 20. The next chicken broast will be on Aug. 24 at the Garden Prairie Park.
    In its 60th year since the GPIA took over the property when the town’s small grade school was shuttered and a new school was built, the GPIA has held annual fundraisers to make property improvements, pay for maintenance of the property and pay the property taxes.
    Originally, the group held a carnival on the site. Skinner Amusements from Marengo brought in amusement park rides which they set up on the adjacent softball field. Skinner Amusements runs the Midway at the Boone County Fair. After an initial rental fee, the GPIA received a percentage of the proceeds from the amusement park rides. 
    “We had a couple of years where it rained for two or three days, and it almost cost us more than we made,” longtime Garden Prairie resident Ruth Ross explained the chicken broast’s history. “Ed Green used to have Patterson Lumber Yard. He said ‘why don’t we have a chicken broast.’ So we quit doing the carnivals and went to the chicken broasts.”
    “At the beginning they had a charcoal pit where they were cooking their chicken over. They have made it easier over a period of years.”
    Curt Holz and Keith Nevel fired up the charcoal on the brick grill at 7:30 in the morning and cooked 350 chickens for the over 600 customers and workers. With the confidence of a pair who were not in their first rodeo, they put on the grill an additional 30 dinners on the grill late in the afternoon and received an additional shipment of fresh sweet corn.  Amid concerns that they would have leftover cooked chicken and corn, the pair was confident that the chicken which would not complete cooking until the fundraiser’s last half hour, Holz and Nevel worked to make sure that everyone who wanted a chicken was able to purchase one.
    “We have to cook more chicken. People kept coming,” Nevel explained of the decision to cook the chickens that would not be ready until the last half hour of the fundraiser.
    “We had to go get some more corn. You have to have what the customer wants,” Cathy Curtis added.
    One customer arrived shortly before 5 p.m. and was relieved that some chickens were still available for purchase. “I was coming from Mendota and I had some riders. My wife called and said ‘get me some chicken’. I said ‘I cannot stop like that.’ I dropped them off and I came back,” the Marengo man explained.
    Although the Garden Prairie chicken broasts are popular among people in the area, it is beginning to develop a following from far beyond the area.  “I was selling tickets and a family came through who last year came through for the first time. They told me they planned their vacation this year around making sure they could make it to our chicken broast,” Kathy McKnight. The out-of-state family took a detour on Rt. 20 to avoid the ever-present Tollway construction and happened upon the Garden Prairie chicken broast.
    Former residents and extended family members come from throughout the region to attend the chicken broasts. “It is a good old fashioned time in the park with friends and family,” Mary Brubach said. “We have people who used to live on the Prairie who come back for it. You feel like you have known someone your whole life.”
    Ross’ homemade pies were a huge success at the chicken broast. She put her grandchildren to work in the kitchen to make a variety of pies for the fundraiser.  Besides the high volume of pies needed for the chicken broast, it is not the first time that Ross has enlisted the assistance from her grandchildren.
    “If they want to earn money for one of their trips, they come and make a deal with me. I purchase the ingredients, but have to get the orders and make the pies,” Ross explained. 
    Grandson Patrick McKnight took an entrepreneur class at Beloit College. “He had to take the $20 and try to make money on it. So he started making pies,” Ross said. “Now he still keeps getting pie orders and he comes and bakes pies for people. He loves doing it. He is quite the baker.”
    When not baking her pies for the Garden Prairie chicken broasts, Ross makes pies that are sold at Steam Plant Restaurant and Uncle John’s Restaurant in Garden Prairie.
    The chicken broast was the first time the community was able to see the improvements to the playground from Eagle Scout candidate Jesse Shambo and Boy Scout Troop 141.  Shortly before the July chicken broast, an army of volunteers organized by Shambo to install playground mulch around the playground equipment.
    Shambo plans to give the playground equipment a facelift before the August fundraiser by adding a fresh coat of paint.  The group will have a ceremony to celebrate Shambo’s efforts at the next chicken broast.
    “It is important to our town. It is worth coming down here to have the chicken,” Holtz said. “It is a worthwhile thing.”

  • fair prep photo 1.JPG
    What’s in a Grange?
    July 27, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – Upon entering the Boone County Fairgrounds, visitors will take note that the Boone County Fair is owned and operated by the Granges.
    Throughout the United States, there are 200,000 Grange members. There are 200,000 local Grange organizations in 30 states. Boone County has seven granges and approximately 1,000 Grange members volunteer their time to make the Boone County Fair a success.
    The organization is a perfect example of a grass-roots, bottom-up group. The backbone of the Grange is the more than 3,000 local "subordinate" Granges which are located in more than 30 states. These Granges offer a wide range of locally-oriented programs and activities for children, youth and adults. Each holds regular meetings where issues of community concern are often discussed. There are social events, contests and community service projects sponsored by the Granges.
     On the county or regional level these local Granges band together into units known as Pomona Granges, primarily for discussion of concerns which affect a larger territory. On the statewide level Granges cooperate by supporting a State Grange organization which oversees the activities of all subordinate Granges as well as conducts lobbying and other activities on behalf of all members in the state.
    The National Grange supports legislative efforts that are important to agriculture and rural communities.
    In Boone County, the supporting Granges that combine to form the Boone County Pomona Grange are
    Beaver Valley, Big Thunder, Capron, County Line, Flora, LeRoy, Prairie and Pomona. Members of each Grange serve on the Boone County Fair Association.
    Although the Granges are officially known as The Order of Patrons of Husbandry and has its historic roots in agriculture, the Granges in Boone County are integral organizations of volunteerism and neighbors helping neighbors. Many civic and business leaders belong to a Grange. Grange members volunteer their time throughout the county. Other members belong to volunteer fire departments, are active in their churches, donate their time to the Salvation Army, donate Christmas presents to veterans, adopt highways, serve meals at community events, and help struggling families in the county.
    “We are groups of people that help and try to do good for our town,” Linda Mullins said. Mullins is a member of both County Line Grange and Boone County Pomona Grange.
    Flora Grange hosts Safety Town day camp each June. “We host this for kids ages five to eight years old,” said Tom Ratcliffe, president of the Boone County Pomona Grange and Flora Grange. “Every day we hold different safety workshops.”
    Prairie Grange sponsors an annual Food Cart Frenzy in which members of each of the seven Granges and the Fair Board race through Packemaker’s grocery store to fill shopping carts with food. The teams have two minutes to fill a shopping cart.  Bragging rights goes to the team that fill their cart with the greatest number and highest dollar value of groceries. The food is donated to local food pantries.
    When a tornado hit the northern part of the County, Grange members came out in droves to volunteer their efforts. Some Grange members helped to sort debris so those affected by the tornado could find some of their belongings. Other Grange members made meals and hot drinks to nourish the other volunteers.
    Although the granges got their start in the farming community and still support agricultural initiatives, grange members do not need to have a farming background.
    “As a whole the granges do a lot of good things for the community. We don’t brag about it. We just go about and do it,” Jo Ellen Coleman explained.
    “Grangers are some of the best people,” Mullins added.

  • river clean up photo.jpg
    Area canoeists gather to clean Kishwaukee River
    July 24, 2014
    BELVIDERE – Area canoeists are uniquely positioned to help clean up the Kishwaukee River by participating in the Boone County Conservation District’s (BCCD) Kishwaukee River Clean up on July 26 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. They will be able to spend a pleasant day on the river and help the environment.
    The event is sponsored by a $500 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Streambank Clean Up and Lakeshore Enhancement Program.
    The BCCD has organized the annual clean-up for nearly 15 years. Canoeists will gather at Hickory Bills Island on Appleton Road near the Belvidere Park at 9 a.m. The group will make their way down the river to the Distillery.  During the journey, volunteers will pick up trash from the river and its banks.
    Because of the limited parking near Hickory Bills Island, many canoeists will drop off their canoe near the starting point before parking their car at neighboring Belvidere Park. BCCD will shuttle drivers from the take out point at the Distillery back to their vehicles at Hickory Bills Island.
    “We have been doing this for about 14 years,” Dan Kane, executive director of BCCD explained.  “We will only go if the river level is at an acceptable level and there are good weather conditions.”
    In case of inclement weather during the week, volunteers will be at the put in site before 9 a.m. on Saturday morning to alert volunteers if the event has been canceled. For additional information on the clean-up or to register, call (815) 547-7935.

  • PG Wheels Festival 2.JPG
    Wheels Festival brings a little bit of everything to airport
    July 23, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    POPLAR GROVE - About the only thing missing from the annual Wheels Festival at Poplar Grove Airport was a smattering of carnival rides.
    There was plenty of most everything else, from a piece of history tied to an event that shocked Americans, to an airplane once flown by Charles Lindberg to tractors briefly trading work in the field for dragging sleds.
    Oldies music played in the background July 19 and there were two concerts that night.
    The event, sponsored by the Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum at the airport, was a fund-raiser for the museum and scholarship program.
    A steady stream of visitors checked out Rescue 4 from the New York Fire Department, which is being restored as a permanent reminder of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.
    Rockford firefighter Rory Blanchard was with the truck and explained what happened that fateful day. New York City has five rescue trucks, covering the five boroughs. Their firefighters are trained in dives, extrications and other specialties.
    Trucks 1 and 2 responded immediately to the World Trade Center that morning. Rescue 3 was next, then Rescues 4 and 5. Trucks 1 and 2 were stationed near the Twin Towers and were crushed, he said. Trucks 3 and 5 were damaged while Rescue 4 was the least affected. "It was parked three blocks away," he said.
    Remembrance Rescue Project is based in Schaumburg; most of the firefighters who acquired Rescue 4 are from the Chicagoland area.
    "This is a mobile memorial," Blanchard explained. "Education (about 9-11) is lacking so that's the big push now. The goal is to keep it (Rescue 4) on the road as long as possible. The day will come when that can't be done any more. We're not discussing where it will go, should that day arrive."
    So far, he said Rescue 4 has appeared in more than 30 states and has been seen by 7-to-10 million people. Donations and sales of T-shirts are helping fund the project.
     
    Regulars at tractor pull
     
    There was another nice turnout for the annual tractor pull among a variety of farm vehicles, of varying weights, which pull a sled for distance.
    There was a North Boone School District 200 connection on one of the tractors, a 1959, 5,500-pound Oliver 770. Recent graduate Josh Herrmann was in the driver's seat while In back, operating the sled, was Don Ward, president of the District 200 school board and himself a driver in several of the events.
    Josh had finished fifth in the 5,000-pound and had his Oliver in the 5,500-pound competition as well. He was first up and dragged the sled just over 200 feet. "I'm happy to be there," he said of the pull.
    The next competitor reached 156 feet so there only were five more to go. But four of them also exceeded feet, with Brad Morelock winning by reaching 286 feet. That meant another fifth-place finish for Josh. Cash prizes go to the first three place winners in each category.
    Josh will be attending Bradley University, with classes starting Aug. 29. An athlete during his four years at North Boone, he plans to be in the running and baseball clubs at Bradley, so he can stay close to cross country and baseball.
     
    Car show, rebuilt plane
     
    A car show as situated near a static display of airplanes.
    In between was a display of seven tow trucks, fashioned by Denny's in Belvidere. Nearby two convertibles sat side-by-side, a 1982 Excalibur and a 1922 Model T Ford.
    The row of airplanes included the original square-tailed Model 4 Speedmail, one of 40 made, a single prop plane used to promote the Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen radio show in the 1930s. He was billed as "a high-flying, crime-solving international air racing 16-year-old ready to embark on any adventure" individual. 
    Lake Geneva, Wis., resident Sarah Wilson, who stores the plane at Poplar Grove Airport, said she was flying it on Friday.
    "It took two years to restore," she said. "It had been just a box of parts."
    Richfield Oil, sponsor of Allen's radio show, originally bought the plane and Allen flew it around the country to promote his show. But the show eventually went off the air and she the plane was used as a crop duster in the 1940s.
    Wilson said she was informed by Lindberg's historian that the pilot had flown that plane on April 2, 1930, which would have been after the trans-Atlantic flight. Richfield Oil was one of his sponsors so he may have used it for a promotional flight of some kind.

  • remnant church photo.jpg
    “Remnant Church” Declares First Presbyterian Church of Belvidere
    July 22, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE: Approved by its 12 elders unanimously and enthusiastically to become a “Remnant Church”, the following approved statement was read on June 22 at both services of the First Presbyterian Church of Belvidere. 
    “You've probably heard disturbing news in recent days from Detroit about our denomination. Our elders remain steadfast in declaring, 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.' While our denomination increasingly drifts from Jesus by the book, we will, depending upon God's grace, order our life and ministry on the corner of Lincoln and Main with prayer, proclamation, and passion for Jesus by the book. While confessing our sins against our Lord and each other, we will not affirm, condone, or cooperate with any actions of our denomination that insult God's holiness as personified by Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture. When we are wrong about Jesus by the book, we will confess and repent. When we are right about Jesus by the book, we will remain steadfast. Please join us in praying for the knowledge, wisdom, strength, and courage to look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Jesus alone as above all others.”
    First Presbyterian Church is the first in the denomination to declare itself a ‘Remnant Church’ within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or PCUSA.  The response is a direct result of the 221st General Assembly of the PCUSA that was held from June 14 to 21 at the COBO Center in downtown Detroit, Michigan. The biennial meeting gathers together commissioners and advisory delegates from all 172 presbyteries, as well as other delegates and observers from around the world.  The declaration during June 22 worship services was an encouragement to sister churches and judicatories within the PCUSA who are called to remain in the denomination and faithfully serve Jesus Christ.
     The congregation is led by the Rev. Dr. Robert Kopp who has served as Senior Pastor for over ten years.  “A ‘Remnant Church’ is what is left in the denomination of believers in ‘Jesus by the Bible’ or ‘Jesus by the Book.’  It means we do not twist scripture or makeup theology to suit our own personal agenda. ‘The agenda for the church is to discover what was originally meant before it was covered with the dust and debris of 2000 years of church history and tradition.’ is a quote from Hans Küng who is a Swiss Theologian, Priest and author.  ‘Jesus by the Book’ is the simplest form of worship and obedience,” Kopp said.  “It is not forsaking its roots.  One just needs to read and for a crash course just read a Bible with the red letters.” 
    “We are the first to declare ourselves ‘remnant’.  It’s been a tough time for all of us, and these issues date back a long time.  From my perspective, the seeds were planted back in 1979 at the General Assembly in San Diego, CA.   In my 35 years of ministry I have watched the subtle changes occur,” Kopp continued. “I am already getting emails and phones calls from other churches across the nation inquiring for further information.  On so many levels, churches are embarrassed in their own denomination.  Our congregation is not seeking to evoke change in the PCUSA but is trying to witness to the saints who remain in a denomination irretrievably apostate under its current management. ”
     “Paul wrote in Romans 11:5 (NIV Translation) ‘So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.’  Paul was encouraging Christians back then and now to remember God always elects/chooses/calls a remnant to remain faithful to Him.  Simply, God's people, often a remnant in times of increasing national and ecclesiastical apostasy, will catch a lot of hell on the way to heaven; yet triumph in the end because the remnant is cut from the King of kings' cloth and ‘every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord’ in the end,” concluded Kopp.
    For additional information, contact Pastor Kopp at www.belvpresbyterian.org or call (815) 544-6402.

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    Rauner meets with area leaders at Ag breakfast
    July 20, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – Approximately 400 people attended a community Ag breakfast at the Boone County Fairgrounds on July 15 to meet Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner and his running mate Evelyn Sanguinetti.
    Rauner started the day in Boone County and met with many of the area’s leaders including State Senator Dave Syverson, State Representative Joe Sosnowski, County Board Chairman Bob Walberg, Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain, Chief of Police Jan Noble, Sheriff-elect Dave Ernest, Gary and Ann Turner, and Tom Ratcliffe.  Jim Turner introduced Rauner the crowd before the pancake breakfast.
    Rauner and Sanguinetti spent Tuesday and Wednesday in the stateline area and met with area residents and business leaders. After the Ag Breakfast at the Boone County Fairgrounds, Rauner toured Central Grain Company before moving up to Rockford to attend a luncheon with Rockford-area women before touring Ingersoll Machine Tools in Rockford.
    “Our message is more jobs, lower taxes, better schools, term limits,” Rauner said. “Unfortunately we have lost our way as a state. Our governor is failing on jobs, unemployment, rising taxes, deteriorating schools, social services being shredded.”
    At Ingersoll Machine Tools, Rauner cited the need to improve technical and vocational training for high school students in Illinois. “We do not have technical training in our public high schools. As a result, great employers are frustrated and have to recruit people from Iowa and Wisconsin. We have taken vocational and technical training out of our high schools and expect all of our young people to go to four year colleges,” Rauner said. “Many of the best jobs do not require four year college. They require some technical training. One of the things that Evelyn and I want to do is bring vocational and technical training back to the high school.”
    Rauner spoke of the state of Illinois’ unemployment rate. “We have lost 23000 in Illinois jobs just this year. Our unemployment rate has risen so it is the highest in the entire Midwest and one of the worst in America,” Rauner said.
    According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for Illinois is 7.5% as of May 2014. Illinois has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the United States. The average unemployment rate for the United States is 6.3%.  According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Boone County is 7.9%. The unemployment rate in neighboring DeKalb, Ogle and Winnebago counties are 6.4%, 8.3% and 9.1% respectively.
    “Our tax burden is too high. We have become anti-business. Our number one priority for Illinois has to be economic growth and job creation. Nothing else is more important,” Rauner said. “We need to become a growth state and pro job creation. We have to turn that around.”
    “The key to long term economic growth is to have freedom for companies to grow and run their businesses as they see fit. If Illinois provides a competitive environment where we have reduced regulations, reduced taxation, and we have an education system that is equipping the young people to fill the jobs that are available and giving them technical training, then companies will relocate to Illinois where they will grow and thrive.”
     The general election is Nov.4.

  • ellingson girls photo.jpg
    Organizing 4-H events at county fair takes time, patience
    July 17, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - There are many 4-H events before and during the Boone County Fair, being held Aug. 5-10 this year.
    When the fair is under way the first few days are especially busy, with 13 shows held at differing venues around the fairgrounds. Then, at 5 p.m. Aug. 8, comes the livestock auction, what many young 4-Hers have been looking forward to for a long time.
    Organizing all of that takes a lot of time and patience for those involved in the planning and execution. And the same goes for 4-H club members, some as young as 8 years of age, who participate in the pre-fair general projects competition and the shows during fair week.
    Time management is the key ingredient for all of them.
    Planning for next year's fair comes right after the current fair is over, explained Melissa Irwin, 4-H program director for the University of Illinois Extension Office in Belvidere. Step No. 1 is evaluating the fair that just ended, looking at what went right and what went wrong.
    Shows are pretty much the same from year to year but the judges change, she said. Working with the various event superintendents starts right away to line up judges for the coming year.
    "We like ours to be different than those doing the open and junior shows," she said, referring to the events sponsored by the fair association board. "It's important to have them secured early."
    Judge selection can be a balancing act. 4-H officials don't want them to be too close, so they know most everyone in the shows, or too far away, when there can be traveling issues.
    "We look for people who interact well with the kids," Irwin said. But even when they're all lined up a cancellation can occur, as just happened, she said.
    Putting together the 4-H book, full of rules and regulations, is a massive undertaking during the winter months.
    Weigh-ins for beef and dairy cattle are in February, with sheep and goats in May. They're re-weighed at the fair, with awards going to those that gained the most weight. "That goes to level of care," she said of how the animals fare.
    There's coordinating who's participating in which shows, with involves both the adults and kids. In all, there are 28 volunteers for the general projects event, which was held July 12, and close to 50 for the fair itself.
    Office staff consists of Irwin, Kelli Morrow and Johanna Jennings.
    They work with fair officials on participant passes along with parking passes for families. "There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work," Irwin said.
    Then there's the shows themselves, making sure the schedule is followed. "If they're not on time, we can't wait for them," she said of participants. "Some go on about the same time so there is a real balancing act. There is continuing coordination between us and the kids."
     
    The Ellingson girls
     
    Organizing their time is a constant for Genna and Ella Ellingson, who participate in both the general projects and fair competitions.
    Genna is 12, an incoming eighth grader at North Boone Middle School, and the list of projects she entered in the July 12 general projects event was as long as her arm.
    The list included cooking, sewing, art, clay, photography, leadership, photo editing, digital art, animation, promotional video and water color. She will work with horses at the fair and prefers driving over riding. For that, she likely will use wagons, carts and carriages.
    She also has done public speaking through 4-H and has appeared at the state fair. When it comes to ribbons, she has won lots of them.
    The family has Haflinger horses, native to the Austrian mountains. While they are a bit smaller than what normally is seen on a farm, they are more versatile. She has been driving since she was 5 and when it comes to the fair, her goal is to do better every year.
    Genna is very busy, especially during the spring when she has to balance school, athletics, chores around the form, general projects and the fair itself. "The trick is knowing what you have to do and being accountable for that," she said. Having a list also is important. But with all that planning she acknowledged "it can be hard to manage my time."
    Still, by the week of July 7 all of her general projects were in shape to be shown and discussed during the interviews on July 12.
    Nine-year-old Ella, in fourth grade at Manchester Elementary School, is enjoying her brief experience with 4-H. But she's familiar with the county fair, having competed there since she was 3 or 4.
    Her general projects this year were clay, photography, photo editing, leadership and art.
    "Their grandmother is an artist," said their mom, Toni Ellingson.
    When thinking about all her projects, Ella observed, "I think that's enough for this year." And on top of that she's a candidate in the Little Miss pageant, using her given name of Eleanor. That event is at 7 p.m. Aug. 5, opening night of the fair.
    4-H is a family activity for the Ellingsons with the girls' dad, John, accompanying them to the general projects event on July 12.
    Elly isn't concerned about all she will be doing in the coming weeks. She follows her list, saying, "It's not that hard. These are things I like to do."
    She also will be working with horses during the fair but divide her time between riding and driving. 

  • pg - wings and wheels Chopper lift off half size photo.jpg
    FDNY Rescue 4 to be special guest at Wheels Festival
    July 16, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    POPLAR GROVE - FDNY Rescue 4, one of the first vehicles to respond to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, will be at the Vintage Wheels and Wings Museum on Saturday July 19 for the annual Wheels Festival.
    The truck was damaged while at the scene of the terrorist attack on America and now is being restored and preserved, along with Rescue 5, as an educational project.
    Primary focus of the Remembrance Rescue Project is on children who were too young to actually understand the events of that day, as well as what it meant to members of the fire service and the country as a whole.
    Steve Terry is coordinating this year's fund-raiser for the museum and scholarship program. He said he was elated to be able to have Rescue 4, the sixth or seventh truck to respond to the twin towers, in town for the festival. Trucks 4 and 5 were purchased by a group of firemen in New York for the project.
    There also will be photographs showing Rescue 4, and other New York Fire Department vehicles, in action on Sept. 11.
    Gates for the festival will open at 9 a.m. and activities will continue to 11 p.m., with live entertainment starting at 4 p.m. Admission is $5 per person; children under 11 are free; the concerts together cost another $10 per person. .
    A 105-mile Scholarship Fund Run will leave the starting point, Prairie Street Brewery, 200 Prairie St. in Rockford, at 11 a.m. Continental breakfast will be served from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at a cost of $5.
    Stops will be at Historic Auto Attractions Museum in Roscoe and the Volo Auto Museum in Volo. The run will end at the site of the festival, 5151 Orth Road in Poplar Grove.
     
    Cars and more cars
     
    The 36,000-square-foot Roscoe attraction, owned by Wayne Lensing of Poplar Grove, houses a large collection of vehicles that carried presidents of the United States along with European dictators. Three vehicles are closely tied to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, while others were owned by famous entertainers or appeared in motion pictures and television series.
    The Volo museum has many classic cars on display, most of which are for sale, along with vehicles from movies and TV series.
    Motorcycles, motorcycle enthusiasts, hotrods and antique cars are welcome to participate in the run. Admission is a $35 donation. Direct questions to Pete at (815) 218-2419.
    Scholarships are awarded each year to area high school graduates by the Poplar Grove Aviation Education Association and the museum. Recently, $8,000 in scholarships were given to eight grads looking to pursue careers in aviation, three of them from Boone County.
    Daytime activities at the airport include a tractor pull and car show, static displays of airplanes, antique fire trucks, motorcycles, new fire trucks and tractors. Bi-plane rides will be available for a fee, sponsored by biplaneridesofamerica.com.
    A petting zoo for children will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    Two musical groups will appear in concert, with a $10 admission charge and gates opening at 3 p.m. Jamie Campbell and his Redneck Romeos will perform at 4 p.m.; Miles Neilson & the Rusted Hearts appear at 8 p.m.
    Judi Zangs, general manager of the museum, said hot air balloon launches may occur about 7 p.m., between the two performances, weather permitting.

  • road to fair - art show photo.jpg
    Calling all artists
    July 15, 2014
    By Rhonda Mix
    Reporter
     
    BOONE COUNTY - Do you find yourself wiling away the hours painting, drawing, taking pictures, sewing, working with flowers or sculpting?
    Are you ready to show off your creative talents to the world?
    If you have recently created a piece of artwork you are proud of, you might want to consider entering your project into the arts exhibit at the Boone County Fair. The fair will run from Tuesday, August 5, through Saturday, August 10.
    People interested in showing off their creative works and potentially receiving awards for their pieces can enter projects that encompass a wide variety of art areas, including painting, textiles, drawing, scrapbooking, jewelry, ceramics, mixed media and more.
    Categories are available for adults and children between the ages of 5 and 18.
    Entries are submitted and placed in several different departments. Each entry will then be reviewed by a panel of judges and awards will follow.
    Though many people come to the Boone County Fair to take a look at animals, eat tasty treats and enjoy the rides, there are a number of fair-goers who also enjoy taking strolls around the arts exhibit and checking out local talent.
    Jan July, a Belvidere resident who said she has entered artwork in the fair for several years, took Best of Show for her painting “The Tree on Newburg Road,”  during last year's fair.
    She entered the painting she captured of a dead tree into the Dept M-1 Adult Paintings and Drawings category.
    “I was thrilled,” she said, reflecting on her win last year. “I've gotten ribbons of all different colors before, but this was a big purple one.
    “I think the fair offers a great opportunity for amateur artists to display their work,” she added. “It not only gives amateur artists a place to show [it off], but [the arts exhibit] enhances the fair and gives people additional nice things to look at. I always enjoy looking around at all the entries.”
    July encouraged people to enter their work, but cautioned that entrants should be sure to follow directions when submitting pieces. If not submitted properly, people risk not having their work displayed. Specific rules and entry fees apply to each category.
    For more information, visit boonecountyfair.com and click on the link “81-100” under the 2014 fair book heading.
    Walk-in entries can be dropped off until Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20, at the Boone County Fair Administrative Office, located on the fair grounds.

  • road to fair - home ec deadlines photo.jpg
    Deadlines approach for Boone County Fair Home Economic entries
    July 13, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE -The Boone County Fair is less than a month away.  The dates are August 5-10.  Owned and operated by the Granges of Boone County since 1963, this year marks their 51th Anniversary at the Rt. 76 location.  In the course of this time, many queens have been crowned, fair food consumed, animals judged, and ribbons/premium money distributed.  The “Queen’s Pageant” is all you have to say to those who grew up in Boone County.  Without missing a beat many will tell you that in 1969 Judy Ford-Nash won Boone County Fair Queen and went on to become Miss America.  Her crown and gown can be seen at the Boone County Historical Museum. 
    However, as important an event and tradition the “Queen Pageant’ is to the fair, there is so much more to see and to participate in.  Participants may have a year invested in an animal to be judged or an afternoon of baking or sewing.  But for those who enter, it is an investment in time and commitment.  Many are already planning for 2015.  The Boone County Fair is serious business and those ribbons mean a great deal.  The Boone County Fair is not just about livestock, pageants or tractor pulls, and you do not need to be a farmer to participate.  City folks (Urbanites) can enter the fair just like the farmers do.  And they can win ribbons and prize money too.  The Boone County Fair is about community and so much more. 
    The good news is you do not need make a huge financial investment to enter into the Boone County Fair.  There are entry selections to choose from for all ages; especially in the Home Economics Building.  $0.25 Cents will enter you into a Jr. Bakery Category and then be eligible for an Exhibitor Ticket to the Boone County Fair at a cost of $14. A season ticket purchased in advance runs $18 so by entering you already saved a few dollars.  Should you be the winner of such a category there is enough premium money to spend elsewhere at the fair.  
    In the Home Economic Building, four ribbons are awarded per category.  1st place is a Blue Ribbon and a $5 premium paid.  2nd Place is a Red Ribbon and a $3 premium, 3rd Place is a White Ribbon and a $2 premium and 4th Place is a Pink Ribbon and a $1 premium paid to each winner. 
    If baking is not up your alley there is sewing, photography, gardening, flowers and a host of other entries.  There is something for everyone to enter at the fair as the Home Economic Building houses nearly 6,000 entries.  However, the deadline for entries is quickly approaching.  The mailed entry deadline has passed so if you are a procrastinator and still desire to enter, you may enter in person at the Administration Bldg. on the fairgrounds.  The building will be open on Saturday July 19th, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday July 20th, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. only.   Please use the forms included in the fair catalog to enter.    Exhibitor tickets must be purchased at the time entries are made.
    See you at the 2014 Boone County Fair.
    For more information call 815-544-2900 or visit www.boonecountyfair.com

  • fire and iron photo 1.jpg
    Motorcycle clubs join forces for fallen heroes
    July 10, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – With the deafening roar of a Lifeline helicopter hovering over the Boone County Fairgrounds and the engines of approximately 200 motorcycles, the second annual Guns –N- Axes Benefit Ride headed north to the Rockton Fire Station on July 5.
    As the 200 bikers and their riders left the Boone County Fairgrounds, they were escorted out of town by Sheriff Duane Wirth and a city of Belvidere fire truck.  Riders and their passengers reached up to touch the enormous American flag that was suspended over the parking lot entrance.
    As the group left Boone County and made its way into Winnebago County, the escort transferred from Wirth to members of the Winnebago Sheriff’s Department.  In addition to being escorted by the police and fire departments throughout the Stateline area, many of the riders were law enforcement officers and fire fighters in the fundraiser to support the families of fallen police and fire heroes.
    The ride was sponsored by Fire & Iron Station 53, Blue Iron Illinois and Public Guardians motorcycle clubs. Fire & Iron is a motorcycle club comprised of firefighters. Blue Iron and Public Guardians are law enforcement motorcycle clubs.
    “The purpose of the ride money goes to fallen firefighter or law enforcement families,” retired Rockford firefighter and director of Fire & Iron Lanny Wong explained.  “This is a small way of helping the families of a fallen firefighter or law enforcement.”
    Within 24 – 48 hours of a north central Illinois firefighter or law enforcement member dying in the line of duty or during a call, the motorcycle clubs will give the family a check to get past the initial expenses.
    “There is no way to truly take away the shock and loss. But there is a way to at least support the families with guidance and help them out,” Rochelle patrol officer and president of the Public Guardians Motorcycle Club Jason Bergeron said.
    Fire fighters and law enforcement personnel put their lives on the line each day they report for duty. They can be killed while responding to a domestic violence call. While directing traffic around an accident on an icy stretch of road, a passing vehicle can lose control and hit them. A roof can collapse while they are responding to a house fire.  “When I was working I never thought about dying in the line of duty because I thought it would prevent me from doing my job,” Wong said.
    “It is about supporting the people who support us,”   the father of four Bergeron added.  “Families, significant others, relatives worry about us on a daily basis. Something could possibly happen to us in the line of duty.”
    “It is a tight brotherhood that is unique in itself,” Wong explained. “We do and see things that the general public will never see and do not want to see.”
    As a result of their duty, the law enforcement and fire fighters rely on their families for support. “It means everything. You get frustrated at work it is good to have some people to absorb some of that and help get through it,” the former Belvidere resident Bergeron said. “You go home your family is there and waiting for you. They look forward to seeing you when you get home. And it helps buffer some of the stuff you deal with.”
    “It is a great spirit of cooperation,” Bergeron said of the camaraderie between the law enforcement personnel and fire fighters. “That is what I really appreciate about the whole event.”
    “We have a great cooperation. This also helps to show if something happens disaster-wise everyone would work together well to help the public to get everything back on track as quickly as possible.”
    Although the Guns –N- Axes Benefit Ride raised funds to support the families of fallen law enforcement and fire fighters, the clubs also take part and sponsor other benefit rides throughout the summer months. Fire & Iron is sponsoring burn benefit rides on July 19 and Aug. 23.  “The money goes to I Am Me burn camp and also to the burn unit at OSF,” Wong explained.
    Through the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, the group helps children who experienced significant burn injuries by sending them to the YMCA’s Camp Duncan in Ingleside, Ill. The weeklong camp helps the children to experience camp in a non-judgmental atmosphere as they participate in camp activities and share their survivor stories.
    “It is very humbling feeling. I saw one child who lost both legs and was disfigured and my inside was tearing up. Here was this young guy but you could see that he was so traumatized,” Wong recalled. “You want to do more for this kid. Hopefully the money we generate helps them to some extent.”
    In addition to supporting Camp I Am Me, Fire & Iron motorcycle club raises funds for the OSF burn unit. “We felt we should do something more local,” Wong explained. “Not to minimize that the kids deserve more support, but the burn ward at OSF works with this year-round.”
    Members of the Public Guardian and Blue Iron will participate in numerous benefit rides throughout the summer. “These same guys and girls support other causes. We appreciate their support in this cause. We are people who want to work with the public and help out wherever we can,” Bergeron said.

  • motorcycle run photo.jpg
    Motorcycle run raises funds for Wounded Warriors, local Veterans
    July 9, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – James Gosnell of Belvidere wanted nothing more than to be a Marine.  Concerned that he would be short some classes to graduate high school, he took night courses and correspondence courses to ensure keep him on track. The 1998 Belvidere High School graduate convinced his mother Linda Lieber to sign the paperwork so that he could enlist in the Marines when he was 17 years old.
    “I had to sign the paperwork when he was 17. He was absolutely adamant that he was going to be a Marine. He wanted to be the first one in if there was a war. The Marines were the toughest and that is what he wanted to be. The best of the best,” Lieber explained. “He graduated in June and went to basic training in July,”
    The deeply patriotic Gosnell joined the Marines and served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of Special Forces. “9/11 made him furious. He instantly wanted to go. When they caught Saddam Hussein he was happy they caught him but he was upset that he was not there to help,” Lieber said.
    After leaving the military, Gosnell was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a traumatic brain injury as a result of repeated concussions. “He had good days and bad days,” Lieber said.
    The weeks around the fourth of July were difficult for Gosnell and he would dive under the table when neighbors lit fireworks. “You would not believe how it affects them,” Lieber explained. “To the veterans, it is the same sound as a bomb.”
    A carpenter by trade, Gosnell struggled to find employment after he left the military. He received assistance from the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). The WWP helped Gosnell and his wife Jaclin to meet their financial obligations so they could keep their Poplar Grove home.
    The WWP helps veterans and service members who have incurred a physical or mental injury or illness. In addition to financial assistance, the WWP offers a wide variety of activities to help wounded warriors to rehabilitate and transition into daily activities and life so they can maintain meaningful relationships with family and friends. The WWP offers outdoor retreats, peer support and professional services. “They are absolutely a wonderful organization,” Lieber said.
    Gosnell was inspired by the help that he received from the WWP. “Our son was going to Rock Valley College. His goal was to be a counselor to help people coming back with problems,” Walter Lieber said. “He was doing very well.”
    On April 28, 2012, he and a fellow veteran traveled to Schaumburg to help another veteran who was struggling with PTSD. Gosnell was stabbed and was killed. “When they are overseas you expect it,” Linda Lieber said of the tragedy. “When they come home, you think they will be relatively safe.”
    In addition to his parents and wife, Gosnell left behind his seven year old daughter Devan.
    “He was very proud to be a Marine until the day he died,” Lieber said.
    Out of the tragedy of Gosnell’s death, the Liebers decided to hold a motorcycle benefit ride to honor his memory and to raise funds for the Veterans Assistance Commission of Boone County and the WWP.  “We want to show support to the vets who are coming back and (extend) a thank you for the help they (WWP) gave my son,” Walter Lieber explained. “He was very proud to be a Boone County vet.”
    The second annual run for the vets will be held Sunday July 13. Sign up is at 9 a.m. and the first bike out is at 10 a.m. from the American Legion Post at 900 W. Chrysler in Belvidere. The ride is open to all vehicles and will traverse 100 miles through the region. After its last stop, the group will return with a police escort to the American Legion by 4 p.m. for food, music and a bucket raffle. Raffle prizes have been donated by Ice Hawks, Aviators, Culvers, Doc’s Upholstery, Farm and Fleet, Jack Wolf, and Harley-Davidson.
    “I don’t think we could do enough for our veterans,” Linda Lieber added. “We would not be the same country without them.”
    Linda Lieber cried last year when she saw the support that they received from the motorcycle community in their first annual ride. “Motorcycle riders are the most giving people in the world. If there is a good cause, they are right there,” she said.
    They (the American Legion) have been absolutely wonderful to us,” Lieber said. “God bless you.”
    For additional information call (815) 505-2730 or (815) 543-6727.

  • road to the fair flora grange photo.jpg
    Flora Grange in 2nd century of service to community
    July 8, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BOONE COUNTY - Flora Grange is in the fourth year of a new century of community service. But it actually had three beginnings: in 1873, 1893 and 1910.
    They initially met in a schoolhouse but soon outgrew it and built a new, larger hall for $729. The lower level was used by horses while their owners met upstairs. This probably was one of the first Grange halls in Illinois.
    But Flora Grange 526 disbanded in 1889 for nonpayment of dues to the state office.
    It reorganized in 1893, using the original Grange hall, just south of the current building, on Stone Quarry Road. It disbanded again, this time in 1906, again for nonpayment of dues.
    The third and final new beginning occurred in 1910 when Flora Grange 1726 was created. The original hall continued to be used until about 1948, when it was agreed to build a new one. Fifty pancake breakfasts, held almost every week, helped pay for the new hall that was dedicated in 1950, a little bit north of the site of the original building.
    During those breakfasts it was estimated that 78,000 pancakes were served to some 8,000 visitors, along with 6 1/2 tons of sausage, many gallons of syrup, and a good-sized lake of coffee.
    That hall lasted until 1978, when it burned down, a victim of arsonists. The current hall was built on the same location and dedicated in the spring of 1980. Steady rental income helped add air conditioning, new furnaces and improvements to the kitchen. Most recently a new, blue metal roof was added, making the hall hard to miss.
     
    National recognition
     
    Flora Grange has been noticed nationally for a long time.
    In 1973, Jack Ratcliffe and his wife, Laurel, were runner-up in the National Grange Young Couple of the Year competition. One year later Flora Junior Grange took first place in in the nation in community service, with Emalee Hegge named Junior Matron of the Nation.
    More recently, in 2011, Flora Grange once again won first place nationally in community service.
    Flora Grange has grown over the years and currently has about 170 members. Big Thunder and Prairie are about as large; Leroy Grange has about 40 members; Beaver Valley and County Line have about 50 each and Capron has 25.
    The annual Boone County Fair is owned and operated by Pomona Grange, overseer of the seven Granges with four representatives from each organization on its board of directors.
    Each Grange has chores it must tend to at the far, this year to be held Aug. 5-10 at the fairgrounds off Illinois 76, just north of Bypass 20.
    Members of Flora Grange work Gate No. 6, off McKinley Avenue, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Thursday is Tractor Pull day, meaning a busy time at that gate because it is the primary access point to the track where the event is held.
    Also on Thursday, Flora Grange members prepare and serve more than 300 baked ham dinners at the dining pavilion.
     
    Dedicate Memorial Park
     
    Two years ago Flora Grange Memorial Park was dedicated in front of Exhibit Hall No. 3. That was a $7,000 project including benches, trees and signage.
    The organization also helped install a new fire suppression system in the dining pavilion. And it helped improve buildings in the track infield, such as the judges stand, track operations center, while maintaining the infield, flag pole and stage area.
    This year Flora Grange will be painting picnic tables in the dining pavilion while effecting needed repairs. It also will be involved with general cleanup and maintenance of the two dining pavilion kitchens.
    "It's definitely a labor of love for the fair by the Flora Grange members," organization President Tom Ratcliffe said. "Several of us have been involved since 1967. Some are the next generation or two carrying on the tradition of helping make the Boone County Fair one of the best, if not the best, county fair possible."
    On the heels of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the Flora Grange in 2001 started planning the first local version of the national Safety Town summer program for children 5-8 years of age.
    The 13th four-day event was just held at the fairgrounds with 75 children attending. They learned about safety on a variety of fronts from professionals in those areas.

  • 4-h projects photo 2.jpg
    General 4-H projects to be judged, displayed July 12
    July 6, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - Last-minute preparations for this year's Boone County Fair continue to go on behind the scenes.
    But those who want to see an early collection of the works of 4-H members 8-18 years of age may come to the downtown community building, 111 W. First St., between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. July 12. Admission is free.
    There they will see a wide range of "non-livestock" projects in such categories as cooking, sewing, electronics, welding, robotics, horticulture, health, leadership, photography, tractors, visual arts and veterinary science.
    A few members of the local 4-H robotics clubs, Flaming Monkeys (high school) and Atomic Chimps (ages 9-13), are expected to have entries in that category.
    Creators first will meet one-on-one that morning with judges and talk about what about their project, how they put it together and what they learned.
    "It's not an interrogation," explained Melissa Irwin, 4-H program coordinator. "It's more of an easy going, fact-finding session.
    That interview and the project itself will determine who wins a ribbon. There will be the usual three - blue, red and white - but this competition is different than others because there may be more than one blue ribbon in a category.
    Entries don't compete against one another, she explained. Judging is based on whether the projects have met the requirements of each category.
    Judges also will decide who continues on to compete in the state fair, which starts Aug. 11, the day after the Boone County Fair. To be eligible, one must be at least 10 years of age and win a state fair ribbon.
    The process will be the same in Springfield, with an interview and judging based on meeting category requirements.
    Irwin encouraged people who are interested in 4-H to take advantage of the opportunity to see so many non-livestock projects under one roof.
    It is a great time to see some of what 4-H is all about, she said. "There is this whole other side of 4-H, the non-livestock side," she said.
    Some members find the time to compete in both disciplines, raising animals while coming up with project ideas and then seeing them to completion.
    This year's fair will run from Aug. 5-10 at the fairgrounds off Illinois 76, just north of the Route 20 bypass.
    4-H competition actually begins before the traditional flag raising ceremony, which is at noon Aug. 5. There will be a poultry show at 7:30 a.m., in the poultry building, and a horse show at 8:30 a.m. in the outdoor horse arena.
    In all there will be 13 4-H livestock shows along with the big event of fair week, the livestock auction, at 5 p.m. Aug. 7 in the livestock arena.

  • throwback thursday - july 5  belvideres hero photo.jpg
    “Belvidere’s Hero” a comedic silent movie returns for local screening
    July 3, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    This article is part of an ongoing series of Throwback Thursday articles. This series will cover items from the Belvidere Daily Republican’s archives and provide an update.
     
    BELVIDERE – On Saturday, March 20, 1926 the Belvidere Daily Republican published an article titled “Republican To Offer Local Girl Chance To Star In Comedy”.  The article stated, “Moving pictures producers coming to Belvidere to film for the Daily Republican a two-reel comedy called ‘Belvidere’s Hero’-Belvidere girl wanted for leading role-studio equipment being brought here…
    …By special arrangements there has been obtained the services of a well known picture company from Hollywood, California, the home of the great picture industry…
    Supervised and directed by Don O. Newland, a director of national repute.  Considerable equipment is being brought to Belvidere including studio sets and a battery of powerful studio lights, capable of developing 250,000 candle power…”
    Ida Public Library Local History Room invites the community to attend their continuing summer Local History Lecture series with a showing of the silent movie “Belvidere’s Hero”  that was filmed right here in Belvidere in 1926.  The program to be held on Thursday, July 17 at 6:30 p.m. will feature discussion of the history of the movie beforehand, including details about the actors, where the movie scenes were shot, and how Belvidere reacted to the filming and release of the movie.  Admission is free and popcorn will be provided.
    “Back in the early days of movies, many film companies went around the country filming in small towns with standard boilerplate scripts that would be adapted to fit the town it was filmed in,” local history and genealogy librarian at Ida Public Library Jillian Fuller said. “One newspaper article says they wanted the Hollywood motion picture company to film a movie here in order to show the people of Belvidere how movies were made, since many were not familiar with it.”
    “Belvidere’s Hero” is a comedy about a misunderstanding between a husband and wife that goes slightly awry. It involves a lost baby, several car chases, and new romance. The movie runs about 25 minutes.  It’s silly and funny and is accompanied by some great music. All of the actors in the movie were Belvidere residents.
     “The film was shot in various locations around Belvidere, as well as onstage at the Apollo Theater for the indoor scenes,” Fuller added. “Residents were invited to sit in the audience to watch the filming. The cast of characters were: Fred L. Gilman, Charlotte Allason, Darlene Brainard, Gene Hawk, Bob Goodrich, and Ilo Emmerson played the main roles. There were hundreds of extras as well as Belvidere residents. The choosing of the lead female was of special interest. There were newspaper accounts every day leading up to the decision about who would represent Belvidere and show off the ‘charm of Belvidere women’.”
    “Our idea behind this program was that we wanted to give residents the chance to see this movie first hand.  Last summer, we converted the movie from a VHS tape to DVD so that it can be shown to modern audiences. It’s one of the only ways for people to be able to see what Belvidere looked like almost 100 years ago such as the buildings, fashions, and cars,” Fuller stated enthusiastically. “It’s exciting to be able to share this piece of our past in such a fun way. The program is as an old-fashioned movie night, complete with popcorn! We hope everyone enjoys the show and also learns a bit from it too.”
    For more information contact Jillian Fuller at (815) 544-3838 or localhistory@idapubliclibrary.org.  Ida Public Library is located at 320 N. State St. in Belvidere.

  • heritage days photo 2.jpg
    Go-karts, art show bring variety to Belvidere Heritage Days
    July 2, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - More than 100 racing fans were kept on the edge of their seats Saturday as go-kart racing made its inaugural appearance on a State Street parking lot.
    Contrast that with the more docile scene a few blocks away, where more than two dozen artists had set up booths for The Brick Art Show.
    In between, covering four-plus city blocks, more than 65 cars and trucks of all ages and styles were on display for many hundreds of visitors.
    And the Hometown Market also was open, for its second weekend of the summer.
    Add those together and you have the wide variety of entertainment that brought many people to downtown Belvidere for the opening day of city's annual Heritage Days.
    The parking lot in front of the Salvation Army Thrift Store had been transformed into a racing oval with an infield consisting of pits and tents. And the racers didn't disappoint, competing in three different categories for trophies and cash money.
    Adding go-karts to the two-day festival was encouraged by Police Chief Jan Noble and he was there, watching the action with everyone else. He couldn't have been happier with the way things turned out.
    Already there is talk about there being a second year of racing and the possibility of moving the competition to the streets of Belvidere. A possible course could begin on State Street at the railroad tracks, make a U-turn at State and First Street and return.
    "I am very pleased by the turnout," Chief Noble said. "That's an indication that there is interest. This was a very good start."
    Belvidere was represented directly and indirectly in the racing.
    Skyler Morrall's No. 16 car in the Senior competition for those 16 and older was sponsored by Jack Wolf's Chrysler, Dodge & Jeep. Skyler's grandparents live in Belvidere with his grandfather, Mike, working in the parts department at the dealership. Mike Morrall was the crew chief with Skyler's dad part of the pit crew.
    Skyler, who lives in Cambridge, Wis., won the trophy race and took third in the final 30-lap race of the day - for money.
    He has been racing for a long time and, as grandmother Mary Obligato put it, "We've spent a lot of weekends at the track.
    Max Kahler, 13, of Belvidere, competed in the 12-16 class and finished fourth in his race. 
     
    Blue-ribbon winner
     
    Belvidere resident Bob Coleman won the blue ribbon for his wood carvings at The Brick Art Show. The self-taught artist has been hand-carving wood creations for the past five years.
    At the Heritage Days show he unveiled his latest work - carvings in old dictionaries and student handbooks that he acquired from the Ida Public Library in Belvidere.
    He also shows at two other Belvidere celebrations - Harvest Fest and Pioneer Day later in the season.
    In addition, Jack Hantsch was the second-place winner with Katie Ollmann receiving the People's Choice award.
    One of the more unusual artistic offerings at the vast collection of booths outside The Brick was a number of creative gourds fashioned by Barb Taylor of Belvidere.
    "They're for all occasions," she said. Among the hand-made creation was a canoe, bouquet of flowers and birdhouse.
    She said she retired about six years ago and while in Texas, visited a garden store. She was intrigued by the gourds and brought some back to Illinois. "That's how I got started," she said.
    She's no stranger to growing things as she is both a master gardener and master naturalist through the University of Illinois. While she and her husband farm outside of Belvidere, she said she worked off the farm for her entire career.
    Watching the gourds grow was exciting, she said, because each one has a different shape. Gourds have an interesting history, she said, having been used for storage for many centuries.

  • emerald ash borer photo 2.jpg
    City, county begin to remove diseased ash trees
    July 1, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – In June 2002, the first emerald ash borer was found in Michigan. The nickel-sized shiny green bug that resembles a small cricket most likely hitched a ride on a wooden crate or pallet on a journey that brought it from Asia to Michigan.
    From that pair of interlopers, began a wave of destruction that has quickly decimated the ash tree population throughout much of the Midwest and threatens to wipe out the trees entirely.
    The emerald ash borer is as devastating to the ash trees as Dutch elm disease was to the elm trees in the 1970s.
    The first emerald ash borers in Illinois were discovered in June 2006 in Kane County.  Since that time, they have come and gone from Boone County, and killed nearly every ash tree in the county.
    “There are hundreds of ash trees in Belvidere that have been infected,” Belvidere public works superintendent Danny Anderson said. “It has already been through here.”
    “I think they have already infected every ash tree that I’ve seen. They were infected some time ago.”
    Although the mature emerald ash borer gently nibbles on leaves, it lays its eggs on the bark of ash trees.  When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore through the bark to the cambium layer of the tree which is where the devastation occurs. The larvae feeds on the layer of the tree through which the tree receives nutrients.  Each female emerald ash borer can lay as many as 100 eggs. The cumulative effect of thousands of larvae feeding on this layer robs the tree of nutrients and strangles it.
    In addition to the telltale D-shaped exit holes in the bark, the dead branches are a telltale sign that the tree succumbed to the emerald ash borer.  “The damage is done. The only course of action is removal as they deteriorate,” Anderson stated. “They are going to start rotting and shed branches.”
    Last year Anderson graded many of the trees in the public right of way and slated them for removal for the next few years.
    The city of Belvidere and Boone County have begun to remove the dead or dying trees. On June 23 workers removed six trees from Big Thunder Park in Belvidere as well as several trees on Main St. and State St.

  • road to fair - Planning a Fair photo 1.jpg
    Planning county fair a year-round job - and then some
    June 29, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    This article is part of a continuing series leading up to the Boone County Fair on Aug. 5 – 10.
     
    BELVIDERE - Jack Ratcliffe and his wife, Laurel, were in Florida last winter to briefly enjoy some warmer, snow-free weather.
    But the trip wasn't strictly R&R. Entertainment for this year's Boone County Fair had pretty well been lined up. So while they were visiting attractions in Orlando and the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, they were on the lookout for acts that would fit in at the county fair - for 2015.
    "You never stop thinking about it," Jack Ratcliffe, vice president of the fair board, said of the fair. Get an idea "and you write it down." That's because the goal always has been to bring top-caliber entertainment to the various stages at varying times of the day.
    "All of our events are state fair-quality events," he said. "They come from all over the country."
    "We look for variety, for something different," said Tom Ratcliffe, a member of the fair board and president of both the overseeing Pomona Grange and Flora Grange.
    Among the new acts this year is American English, a Beatles tribute band that will play at 7 p.m. Aug. 6, second night of the fair. Tickets are $8 each. Last year there were tributes to the 1970s and '80s of Rock 'n Roll. . 
    While most fairs don't open until late in the afternoon, the Boone County Fair is raring to go at noon each day. And the entertainment starts right then, this year leading off with Dueling Pianos Music & Comedy.
    The Magic and Illusion of Lance Gifford follows at 1 p.m., Mama's Wranglers Family Country Band at 2 p.m. Those acts repeat until 6 p.m.
    There is a change Aug. 8-9, when the Lance Gifford Hypnosis Show plays at 8 p.m. each night.
    Then they'll be returning on Aug. 10, the final day, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    There will be more free entertainment starting at noon each day in the Entertainment Pavilion, next to Exhibit Hall No. 1, and featuring a variety of bands. Groups include Dale Rhode and the Crossroads Band, Kevin Burns Good Vibrations Beachside Music Show, Looking for Treble, Silver Creek Band and Missing Links Band.
    On Aug. 10 Rockin' Horse Band will wrap up things at 6 p.m.
    Beyond all of the music there will be a talent show for amateurs ages 21 and younger on Aug. 9, also in the Entertainment Pavilion. Registration is free starting at 9:30 a.m. Age categories are 14 and younger and those 15-21. Contests will begin at 10:30 a.m. 
    This year's headliner, Easton Corbin, will appear at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Grandstand. Tickets are $15 or $18 each.
     
    A volunteer fair
     
    Putting together the six-day county fair is a massive job involving many people. And they're mostly volunteers.
    The fair typically ends the second Sunday in August. There's a brief break before the volunteer appreciation luncheon in September. Then they're back at it again, even though the next fair is more than 10 months away.
    This is a $1-million-plus, non-profit operation and attention to detail - because there so many, many details - is a must. Entertainment, from acts to the many carnival rides on the Midway, costs money. So does security. Maintaining the grounds, streets, buildings and infrastructure is a major expense. And don't forget about prize money for the many, many competitions that take place during the week.
    Revenue comes from admissions, booth rentals, entry fees and tickets to rides and activities on the Midway. The fair is a 501(c)(3) so donations are potentially tax-deductible.
    The Boone County Fair is known for continuing to remember its agricultural roots. It's a showplace for boys and girls, for young men and women, and the animals they've been raising for the last year or longer.
    Animals are on display the entire week in a series of open-air buildings on the south side of the fairgrounds.
    Prize money was increased substantial in the fair-ending demolition derby to be held at 1 and 6 p.m. Aug. 10. The problem was the federal cars for clunkers program of a few years ago eliminated a lot of cars for that competition, making it more expensive for someone to enter the event.
    Again this year the top Boone County finishers in each of the derbies will receive $1,000, instead of the $500 they got up until 2013. Feature winners at 1 and 6 will receive $2,000 apiece with runners-up getting $1,000 each and $500 going to those finishing third, fourth and fifth respectively.
    Other details are available at www.derbyicons.com.
    In all, this fair hands out $175,000 in prize money to the various competitions.
    Some examples are $37,000 for harness racing, $26,000 for draft horses, $31,000 for dairy cattle, $31,000 for beef cattle and $12,000 for sheep.
    ATV racing will be free to spectators this year, being held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 8. Anyone with an ATV who would like to race should go to www.kickabuda.com for details and rules.
    A complete schedule for this year's fair, running from Aug. 5-10, is at www.boonecountyfair.com.

  • henninger farm photo 1.JPG
    Henningers celebrate a century of family farming
    June 26, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    GARDEN PRAIRIE – When John and Lena Henninger downsized his farming operations from Beloit Rd. and moved to a 40 acre farm on Lawrenceville Rd. in 1909, he most likely never imagined that his family would still own the farm more than 100 years later.  It is even more unlikely that he imagined that the Turner family would still be the neighbors of their great-great grandchildren.
    On June 9 the Illinois Department of Agriculture recently designated the Henninger Homestead as a centennial farm.  The property is one of approximately 9,400 farms that have been recognized through the Centennial Farm program. “I am pleased to recognize the Henninger family,” said Agriculture director Robert Flider. “The Centennial Farm programs help to reinforce that family farming remains a viable entity in Illinois agriculture."I think it is an honor to agriculture that people try to stay with their agriculture background and do the things that I think are going to be important in the future,” agreed Henninger’s grandson Al Henninger who owns the farm with his wife Darlene. Their son and daughter in-law John and Pat and their children currently live on the farm.
    Henninger has seen a watched a major transformation in farming in his lifetime.  As a boy, he lived on the farm with his grandparents.  The combines and tractors of today were not yet invented.  “When I was a boy we used to do things with horses. We planted corn with horses,” Henninger said.
    On the 40 acre farm, Henninger’s father and grandfather raised dairy “milch cows,” corn, hay and oats.  With modern farming machinery, the smaller farms are becoming more scarce. “You cannot farm on 40 acres any more. You need hundreds of acres to make it work,” Henninger said.
    “This designation honors them today and their ancestors of yesterday who labored through prosperity and adversity to maintain their family farm.”
    The Henninger Homestead has seen its share of adversity and challenges.  The family struggled to maintain the farm during the Great Depression.  Between 1930 and 1935, 750,000 farms were lost to bankruptcy and foreclosure. “We didn’t know we were poor. I guess we didn’t know any different. We had a good family life,” Henninger said. “A lot of times we had to have a lot of pancakes and eggs because we had that on the farm.”
    The worst day on the farm was April 21, 1967 when the tornado struck the farm and destroyed the house, barn and all of the outbuildings.  Henninger’s father Irving was home at the time of the tornado. “It took all of the antiques out of the attic including his mother’s high chair,” Darlene Henninger said. “They never found it.”
    Al Henninger grew up with Jim and Gary Turner who also live on neighboring century farms. They were classmates together, along with Bob Mickey, at the one room Lawrenceville School. Between 25-30 students attended class with a teacher who taught all eight grades. Lilian Hall and Hazel Wesson were their teachers.
    “When Lilian Hall was the teacher, Al and Jim Turner had a thing for jumping over the back of their seat to sit down instead of walking over to sit in their seats,” Darlene recalled. “So Lilian Hall, the teacher, made them stay after school one night and jump over the backs of the seats.”
    “That broke us of jumping over the seats,” Al Henninger laughed. “She made us do 100 of them. Or it seemed that way.”
    The Henningers have long supported farming and agriculture in Boone County. Henninger’s name is synonymous with the Boone County Fair. Originally, the Boone County Fair was held at Spencer Park and the Granges ran the food stand.  In 1957, Frieda Spencer asked the Pomona Grange to take over the administration of the county fair.
    “We took it over in 1957, and I was one of the original directors. I was vice president for 8 years and president for 20 years, and I have been a regular director for 16 years,” Henninger said. “I have been an honorary director for 4 years.”
    Darlene Henninger was the concession manager for 22 years.

  • midnight flea photo 1.JPG
    Rain doesn't dampen spirits at Midnight Flea Market
    June 25, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - Plenty of vendors were still on the outdoor midway at 9 o'clock Saturday June 21 hawking their wares during the seventh Midnight Flea Market at the Boone County Fairgrounds.
    There were quite a few visitors around, too, looking for bargains. And judging from the noise in the distance, the tractor pull was still in full swing.
    The rain that fell at 4 p.m. that day, right about the time the flea market opened, didn't scare them away from this rain or shine event.
    "Just like last year," said Bob Rogus, who was helping Evelyn Aikman at her spread of collectibles along the midway. "But it's a nice night."
    The Elgin residents arrived early that day and by 11 a.m. were partially set up. "It's a way of life," Rogus said. "Evelyn has been doing this for 36 years. E-bay ruined her business, but she still does it. It keeps her going."
    He gathered some of the memorabilia through his part-time job of removing a wide variety of items from houses that are being sold or that have become part of an estate. He stores a lot of the stuff at his farm. 
    "Garage sales don't do it anymore," Aikman said.
    The biggest challenge, Rogus said, is knowing what to bring to an event such as this. "Every year it's a different crowd," he said.
     
    Show expands
    Shawno, Wis. resident Bob Zurko also was there early, as one would expect, because this is his business and has been for many years. He pointed out it had expanded this year, with vendors now setting up inside three of the Boone County Fair's exhibit halls.
    Booths inside those halls were pretty regular except for one. That was occupied by Deadgar Winter, taking on the appearance of a colorful vampire, and his two associates, Victoria Bathory and Sorceress Celeste, the resident witch.
    The table in front of them was filled with items of the macabre, including skulls and copies of classic horror motion pictures.
    They're television personalities with a two-hour show, Darkman's Dark Coffin Classics, on two Milwaukee stations. They show mostly classic horror movies though they throw in a modern-day film every once in a while. And they break up the somber atmosphere with some comedy routines.
    "It's family-oriented, but there is some tasteful adult humor," he said. "We ad-lib a lot."
    You also can find them on You Tube. And in the not-too-distant future, they're hoping to land a spot on an independent Chicago television station.
    He's been the host for the past four years, fulfilling a childhood dream of "growing up to be just like Sven Goolie. So here I am."
    The three enjoyed their time at the Midnight Flea Market, talking with fans of the supernatural and signing autographs. "It's been a blast," he said. "We have enjoyed the people."
     
    Lots of old toys
    Antiques are one of the staples of this flea market and Gary Anderson from Marengo had a spot filled with toys from the 1960s and '60s. There also were old cars, pennants, games, tools, old posters, comics, and a recognizable Shoney's
    Big Boy doll.
    One item that seemed out of place was a 1735 Book of Sermons, which had a secret compartment in the back. He said he bought it at an old schoolhouse in Antioch, during an antique show.
    Anderson has been in the business for about 15 years and just keeps adding to his collection that's steeped in the past. He does a show every couple of months; this was his second year at the Midnight Flea Market.
    On the way out was one of the new additions to the Zurko Promotions' family - Perfect Pop Kettle Corn. Jim Zei, wife Aileen and son Johnny, all from Woodstock, were in a perfect location to appeal to those who couldn't do without a bag of kettle corn to take home.
    He even had a new offering, with a hint of cinnamon.
    "I think we'll follow him to Wheaton," Jim Zei said, referring to Zurko who will have his 38th All-Nighter from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. Aug. 16 at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. It will feature Ernie Hudson, one of the stars from the popular 1984 motion picture, "Ghostbusters," and 1989 sequel.
    Also appearing will be Jon Provost, who portrayed Timmy in the 1950s television series, "Lassie." The jeans and checkered shirt Provost wore hang in the Smithsonian next to Archie Bunker's chair.

  • fire department promotions photo.jpg
    Hyser, Wilcox receive promotions with fire department
    June 24, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – Family, friends, officials and members of the Belvidere Fire Department gathered at Belvidere City Hall to attend the promotion ceremony of Lt. Al Hyser to captain and the promotion of firefighter Craig Wilcox to lieutenant on June 16.
    “I am very honored and excited to have them as part of the officer rank,” Fire Chief Dave Worrell said at the swearing in ceremony.
    “I see our firefighters who have come up through the department like Al and Craig and that is what Belvidere fire is all about. We are happy for your promotions,” Belvidere mayor Mike Chamberlain said. “We appreciate all of the service of all the years. We appreciate their families standing behind them.”
    City clerk Shauna Arco swore in Hyser to the position of captain in the fire department. Hyser replaces Captain Jeff Schulte who retired on June 15 after 33 years of service to the Belvidere Fire Department.
    Schulte was in charge of fire investigations, fire prevention and emergency medical operations.
    “He (Schulte) would analyze the situation and come up with a solution to the problem at hand, whether at an emergency scene or in the firehouse,” Worrell said. “Jeff had a calming presence at an emergency that helped everyone to remain focused on the task at hand.”
     Following the taking of his oath to the rank of captain, Hyser’s wife Lisa pinned his new badge on his Class A uniform jacket. Hyser’s mother Linda Daluga and mother in-law Fern Schumaker pinned the double bugle lapel pin on his jacket. In addition to his wife, Daluga and Schumaker, Hyser was joined by his son Garrett, and his brother Jeff Hyser and sister in-law Rhonda Hyser.
    “It is awesome to be here in the public safety field,” said the 20 year veteran of the fire department. “It is a wonderful opportunity to work with this department.”
    With Hyser’s promotion to captain, it left a vacancy in the lieutenant’s rank which was immediately filled by Wilcox. Arco swore in Wilcox.  Wilcox’s wife Cindy pinned his new badge on his uniform. His children Erin and Zak pinned the single bugle lapel pin on his uniform. He was also joined by his mom, brother, sister in-law and nephew. Wilcox’ brother Mark is a member of the DeKalb fire department.
    Wilcox first joined the Belvidere Fire Department 25 years ago as a fire fighter.  He has served on the department’s inspection bureau for the last 20 years.
    “It was exhilarating that my whole family and everybody could be here with me,” Wilcox said. “It was a big thing.”
    “It is a long time coming and I worked hard at it for many years. I worked diligently throughout my entire career and kept focus .It finally came around.”
     “I am excited for both of them. I’ve worked with both of them for many years and to come up through the ranks and worked really hard to prepare themselves for this day,” Worrell said. “They have done a wonderful job and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
    “Congratulations to the new lieutenant in the department,” Hyser added.
    Both Hyser and Wilcox expressed interest in advancing the fire department. “I approach every day since I have been on the fire department to make the fire department advance further,” Hyser said.  “Every day is an opportunity for me to make us better”
    “I am looking to take the department to the next level and move forward,” Wilcox added.
    “Nothing makes me happier than days like today,” Chamberlain said. “I look and see families in this community that have helped to build this into a strong community.”

  • Default image
    Go-kart races to make an appearance at Heritage Days
    June 22, 2014
     By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - For the first time, Belvidere's Heritage Days will have some go-kart races.
    They will take from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 28, a Saturday, in the Salvation Army parking lot on Main Street. Registration starts at 8 a.m. for the various categories of racing on a tri-oval track.
    The entry fee will depend on the class but generally it will be $25. Prizes will be awarded to the top finishers. Age groupings will be 8-12-years old, 12-15 and 15 and up, with no age cap.
    "We're hoping to see 40 or more karts," said the coordinator, Lance Anderson. Not long ago 67 entered races held at Durand.
    Locally, there are a handful of racers. More so they come from Machesney Park, Loves Park, Rockford, Mineral Point, Wis. and the Chicago area.  "They are aware of the various events and go to them," he explained.
    There probably are half-a-dozen such races in the area, he said.
    A Rockford resident, Anderson said he had organized kart races before. He previously did indoor races in Sharon, Wis., in 1998 and 2000. He co-produced races in Durand and how he's in charge of them in that village.
    The idea for having kart races during Heritage Days came from Belvidere Police Chief Jan Noble.
    He said the village of Cherry Valley was looking for events for its Cherry Valley Days while he the police chief. He checked to see what other area municipalities did and found go-kart races in downtowns at such places as Beloit Township, Fort Atkinson, Wis., Durand and Sharon, Wis.
    Cherry Valley had such races for two consecutive years and attracted thousands of visitors, he said. "So I thought, why not try it here," he said.
    Also June 28 Heritage Days will have an art show at The Brick Restaurant from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and a car show next to the Boone County Historic Museum, also from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be music all day at the Dari-Ripple.
    A cruise from 5 p.m. to dusk will wrap up the first day.
    On June 29, there will be bed races at 2 p.m. on the State Street Bridge followed by a parade at 4 p.m., music at 7 p.m. at the Boone County Fairgrounds and event-concluding fireworks at dark, also at the fairgrounds.

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    Heritage Days is sure to be an action packed weekend
    June 19, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – Heritage Days will return to historic downtown Belvidere on June 28 and 29. This year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever. Heritage Days will include an art show, go cart races, car show, cruise night, music, bed races. And of course, the parade and fireworks.
    Activities will begin on Friday night when Aaron Wilson, of Aaron and Andy fame on Channel 23 visits Belvidere to do a series of live remotes to describe the weekend’s activities. The Salvation Army parking lot will begin to be transformed into a go cart track for a new addition to Heritage Days.
    “There will be a lot of stuff going on,” Mayor Mike Chamberlain said.
    On Saturday, June 28, the fifth annual art show will be held from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  Thirty exhibitors will display their crafts and participate in the art show held outside of the Brick Restaurant at 615 S. State Street.  In addition to exhibitors, the show will include music and face painting.
    For visitors who are looking for fresh produce, baked goods or crafts, the Farmers Market will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Dodge Lanes, 1940 N. State St. or at The Hometown Market from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Hub Plaza.
    Go cart races will take place between 9:30 and 3:30 at the Salvation Army Parking lot. At the same time, a car show will be held next to the Boone County Historic Museum. The car show will celebrate 50 years of the Mustang and will include a 1964 ½ Mustang. The car show will also include music provided by the disc jockey Car Tunes.
    The Boone County Historical Museum will hold a Veterans Appreciation Day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Veterans will be on hand to share their stories and receive appreciation from visitors to the museum. In addition to the sharing of stories by area veterans, a special program is planned for attendees.  Veterans are encouraged to attend the event and share their stories and memories.
    All day long, there will be music outside of the Dairy Ripple.
    “This year there will be a cruise night on Saturday night and they will just cruise,” Chamberlain said of the return of cruise night to downtown Belvidere.  The cruise night will be held from 5 p.m. until dusk.
    Activities on Sunday will include the city’s first annual bed races at 2 p.m. The Kishwaukee Kup participants will race across the Kishwaukee River with beds of their own creation or one provided by the City. Prizes will be awarded based on creativity and best time. Entrants are being sought for the races.
    According to Danny Anderson, the rules for the bed design are similar to NASCAR, as they are guidelines rather than hard and fast rules.  Anderson said that one of the teams is planning a cup design for its entry.  With no limit on wheel size on the beds, it is up to each team’s imagination and creativity.
    At 4 p.m., the parade will begin at Logan Avenue and proceed down State Street to Harrison Street.  At press time, there are 52 entries for the parade. The parade’s marshals will be the six SwedishAmerican Belvidere employees who won the Pillar of Excellence Award. The parade marshals were recognized for their commitment of concern, respect and professionalism. They will ride in Mustang convertibles provided by Manley Motor Sales. The bed racers can participate in the parade and push or pull their entry in the race.
    On Sunday evening, the Heritage Days activities will move to the Boone County Fairgrounds.  The fairground gates will open up at 6:30 p.m. Visitors can listen to Silver Creek Band at the fairgrounds at 7 p.m. as they stake out their favorite firework watching spot. 
    The Silver Creek Band is a family band whose style ranges from traditional and current country to bluegrass, southern rock and alternative country music.
    The fireworks show will begin at dusk. According to the Belvidere Heritage Days’ Facebook page, the fireworks show will be shot off from the grandstand and viewers can sit in carnival area of the fairgrounds.
    Jack Wolf Auto Group and SwedishAmerican Hospital are festival sponsors.
    For additional information on Heritage Days or to register for the bed races, visit their Facebook page at Belvidere Heritage Days.

  • poplar grove little free library photo.jpg
    Free mini library opens in Poplar Grove
    June 19, 2014
    By Rhonda Mix
    Reporter
     
    POPLAR GROVE - Poplar Grove children can now experience the joys of checking out a library book any time, without a library card.
    The community's first Little Free Library opened May 31 in the Oak Lawn Mobile Home Park.
    The Little Free Library is an important addition to the community since the only public library in the area, which is located in Belvidere, requires people living outside the city to pay a fee for use.
    Dozens of parents and children turned up for the grand-opening of the miniature library.
    Jill Grove, Reading Specialist at Poplar Grove Elementary School, initiated the project after she came across an article about the Little Free Library concept in a magazine. She said she was eager to bring the free library to the Poplar Grove community and the project was just what she had been looking for.
    In addition to bringing an easily accessible library to the children of the village, Grove also wanted to encourage reading growth in children over the summer and help prevent the “summer slide.” Statistics show that children who do not read over the summer lose valuable skills that must be relearned in the new school year. The library will help keep kids reading all summer long and will potentially improve reading skills.
    Grove recruited Jim Peplos, an aspiring Eagle Scout from Boy Scout Troop 57, to build the mini library, which came complete with a cedar bench. She also enlisted retired Poplar Grove Elementary School art teacher Arlene Cook to paint the tiny building.
    “She did a wonderful job,” Grove said. “She made it so incredibly enticing and inviting. It draws kids to it because of her beautiful artwork. I'm thrilled she decided to do that and she's been a great, great asset.”
    Grove also gave accolades and credit to Meg Hodge from the Andy's Books For Kids ... Sounds Like A Plan! program. Hodge donated 165 new children's books geared toward kids in kindergarten through sixth grade.
    “The kids can get [the books] on their own schedule,” Grove said. “We have three levels of bookshelves mounted low. The kindergarten books are on the lowest level. This gives kids free access to books any time of day and any time of year.”
    There are no rules as to how many books a child may check out, but Grove suggests no more than three at a time so kids can keep track of what they have. There are also no due dates and usage is completely based on an honor system. Hodge has plans to revisit the library on a regular basis to add new books. Both she and Grove said that another goal of the program is to encourage children to donate their own books as contributions.
    Some measures have been taken to prevent theft – such as the labeling of 'Little Free Library' in every book to prevent people from attempting to steal them and sell them at bookstores. Another goal, Grove said, is to make children proud of and responsible for the library.
    “We try to instill a sense of 'this is your library, you have to protect and respect it,'” Grove said. “We want them to say 'hey, we deserve this,' and encourage each other to be appropriate.”
    Hodge agreed that responsibility is an important aspect of the project.
     “By making the kids feel like they have ownership over their Little Free Library and its contents, they develop a sense of responsibility by remembering to return the books they have borrowed and by treating the borrowed books with respect,” she said.
    She added that she has enjoyed being part of the project and opening day was exciting.
    “Within minutes, all the kids were swarming around the library, picking out 'their books' and then sitting down on a blanket,” she said. “I hope their excitement carries them beyond the summer and they visit the library often, exchanging the books they have read for new ones.”
    The idea for the first official Little Free Library originated in Wisconsin in 2009. The concept quickly took off, and states around the nation – as well as countries around the world – began participating. By January of 2014, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries across the globe was estimated to be close to 15,000 and growing.
    For information, visit littlefreelibrary.org.
     

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    Search for great-grandfather ends at Belvidere Cemetery
    June 18, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - John Fritz's search for his great-great- grandfather started about two years ago after the death of his father.
    In going through his dad's things he discovered a box with Genealogy Information written on it. Among the contents was a lengthy obituary for a Christopher Charles Fritz, who died July 4, 1903. Much of the obituary was about the man he deduced to be his great-great-grandfather's service in the Civil War.
    That piqued his interest and sent him on a journey that started at home, near Phoenix, Ariz., continued to Atlanta, Ga. and ended, for the time being, anyway, on Saturday June 14 at Belvidere Cemetery.
    The obituary stated Christopher Fritz was buried in Belvidere, so that part of the search was relatively easy. John Fritz called the cemetery and talked with the sexton, Sam Larson.
    There was a bit of a glitch, however, when he learned there were three Charles Fritzes buried there. On top of that, his great-great-grandfather's name was Christopher Charles Fritz. But the birth and death dates of Christopher Charles Fritz were the same as one of the Charles Fritzes, so that part of the mystery was solved.
    One of the two remaining Charles Fritzes, who was buried next to Christopher Charles, must have been a son.
    John Fritz then asked for a photograph of his great great grandfather's headstone and learned there wasn't one. Larson believes there once was a wooden marker, but that it disintegrated over time.
     
    Takes a year
    Still, Fritz said the lack of a headstone "was shocking to me." So he ordered one through the Veterans Affairs department. The process took a year to complete and Larson said the stone arrived last winter.
    Two Rockford-area veterans organizations participated in a ceremony Saturday morning.
    Moments before it began John Fritz, dressed in the uniform of a Union private, saw his great great grandfather's final resting place for the first time.
    "There was a feeling inside my heart - it's hard to explain," he said afterward. "It had been a long journey. Now I was there, where he ended up physically."
    He came to know his great great grandfather through researching the battles he had fought in and tracing what he did after the war.
    In researching documents he discovered Christopher Fritz should have not been in the Army to begin with. He lied on his application stating he was born in 1839, not 1829, so he wouldn't be declared too old to serve.
    After training at Camp Douglas in Chicago, Pvt. Fritz was assigned to the 105th Illinois Regiment and wound up in Georgia, in the middle of some of the most intense battles of the war.
    He fought at Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek and in the Seige of Atlanta. He continued on to Savannah, on the Left Wing of Gen. William T. Sherman's Army, and from there moved into North Carolina, for the major engagement at Bentonville.
    Pvt. Fritz was there at the end, too, near Durham Station, N.C., where Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston surrendered to Sherman on April 26, 1865. That was two weeks after the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.
    This lengthy sojourn through time was a family affair, with help provided by son Michael, 26, who did a lot of research at Arizona State University; along with son Andrew, 19, and wife, Kandi. Andrew and Kandi accompanied John to the June 14 ceremony.
    But the journey isn't over.
    Christopher Charles Fritz lived in Belvidere after the war and worked as a carpenter. Since he comes from a big family, John Fritz believes he has relatives in this area and hopes to contact them.
    Anyone who thinks they may share the same ancestry may contact John Fritz at fritzs5@yahoo.com.

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    Eagle Scout continues project to honor Civil War Soldiers
    June 17, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    CALEDONIA-Fate happened February 2012 when a tall white headstone peered from winter’s grip.  “My mom and I were leaving our subdivision when I saw it on the top of a bank, behind a fence. I asked my mom what was in there.  She replied, “An old cemetery.”  Stopping on our return trip home we discovered it was in terrible condition.” said Andrew Geyer who is now an Assistant Jr. Scoutmaster for Troop 141 St. James, Belvidere.  Andrew will be at junior at Belvidere North High School in the fall.
    “Fences were cut, 4-Wheelers cutting through; alcohol bottles everywhere, headstones knocked over, broken and displayed graffiti.  People were buried there and no respect. I told my mom ‘This cemetery is what I want to do for my Eagle Badge Project.”  As warmer weather arrived “There was a heavy, depressing feeling when in the cemetery at that time.” continued Geyer.   
    Drake Cemetery resides on Dawson Lake Road in Caledonia Township with the embankment being in the Village of Timberlane.  With approval, Geyer began the removal of forest infestation.  The cemetery is approximately a football field in length.  Geyer’s hope was to keep people out who didn't visit for respectful reasons.  
    Boone County Historical Museum, Ida Public Library Local History Room, Boone County Clerk’s Office, Boone County Coroner's Office along with research provided details of 20 buried and included three were Civil War Veterans.  “I love history and it made me want to do it even more,” Geyer explained.  “I wanted to make Drake Cemetery a place worthy of these soldiers as well as for the others buried there.  Some were families that pretty much helped start our county.  They held various positions in our community and they deserved to have a peaceful, respectful resting place. Almost all of the names in the cemetery can be found in our county today.  Sadly, there are only a few headstones left.”
    The completed project included upkeep of the grounds, installation of an Information Kiosk, replacement of roadside and repair of existing fencing, installation of a walk-thru gate, and new sign identifying Drake Cemetery was installed.  Geyer raised money to buy memorial markers with names of the identified buried. 
    On November 27, 2012 Andrew Geyer was awarded his Eagle Scout Badge.  But the story does not end here.  “It’s the project that keeps going.” Geyer said. 
    Upon completion, Geyer began the process of replacement headstones from the Veterans Administration.  However, permission from descendants was required and Geyer’s initial applications were denied.  Enlisting the help of fellow troop member Paul Zeien. Zeien is a genealogy merit badge counselor at Boy Scouts of America Blackhawk Council and a member of Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War John Logan Camp 26. Zeien was able to locate a Great-Great Niece of the two Veterans who were brothers.  “Headstones for Private Alanson T. Knox, 95th Illinois US Infantry, Grand Army of the Republic Company K and Private Oscar O. Knox, 153rd Illinois US Infantry, Company A has been approved.  We expect arrival sometime in July with installation shortly after.  The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, John Logan Camp 26 and I will then plan a ceremony/dedication this fall.” 
    “We are still searching for descendants of Private Nelson P. Rice 18th Cavalry, 163rd Regiment, Company B, Pennsylvania Volunteers,” Geyer said.  “I am hoping to find his descendants.  Even though my project itself has been completed I keep on looking.  Then my mission will be complete.”
     

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    Olympic torch passes through Belvidere
    June 15, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – On June 9 the Special Olympic torch run passed through Belvidere.  Approximately 30 runners, two squad cars and a fire engine and several support vehicles accompanied the Special Olympic torch as it stepped off from Jack Wolf Auto Group and proceeded down State Street on its way to the track at Belvidere High School.
    Once the group arrived at Belvidere High School, they were met by area Special Olympians and their families, comfort dogs Bekah, Lily and Kye, and other supporters.
    Patrol Officer Rob Kozlowski approached Carter Fridly and asked him if he would like to carry the torch.  Fridly readily agreed and the group ran the quarter mile lap around the football field. Fridly carried the torch high in the air as he and Kozlowski led the pack.
    Fridley wore a Special Olympic t-shirt that said “courage without fear, respect without opposition, acceptance without limits” that described the event.
    “As a parent I was very proud to see all of our kids run and come out and support the torch run,” Carter’s mom, Becky Fridly said. “Our other kids play sports. You cannot explain the feeling to see your child and all of those other children finally competing and winning and getting the medal and being so proud of their accomplishment.”
    After completing the lap and stopping for photographs, the runners made their way up Main Street and State Street back towards Jack Wolf Auto Group.
    “You cannot help but smile when you watch it as a parent or law enforcement officer,” remarked former Hoffman Estates police officer Denny Jones. He organized the torch run through Hoffman Estates and neighboring northwest suburbs for over 20 years.
    The Illinois Special Olympics is held this weekend in Bloomington, IL. The event is expected to bring over 4,000 athletes from around the state in addition to their families, coaches and supporters. The event is largely supported through fundraising efforts by police and sheriff departments throughout the state.
    “The police officers are amazing,” Pam Spurgeon said. Her daughter Hailey will be competing in the Special Olympics in running, throwing and relay events with a team from NASR Belvidere Park District. “They make tons of money for Special Olympics. When we go to Special Olympics pretty much everything is paid for.”
    “We tried to get as many donations as we could. All of the money goes to the Special Olympics,” Koslowski explained. “The donations pay for the events, food and hotel and local events that lead up to the games.”
    A marathon runner, Koslowski has organized the torch run for the Belvidere Police Department and Boone County Sheriff’s Department for the past three years. Kozlowski was joined on the six mile run through the streets of Belvidere with fellow police officers and sheriff deputies as well as fire fighters and members of the high school track teams and their families.
    When Koslowski took the reins from Detective Dave Dammon in organizing the torch run and fundraising efforts for the Special Olympics, he travelled to Bloomington to attend the games. He contacted Jamie Beutsch who coaches a group of Special Olympians from the Belvidere area. “I wanted to make sure I saw the Belvidere participants. I hung out with them for Friday and Saturday,” Koslowski said. “I wanted to make sure that people who were from Belvidere saw me in my Belvidere uniform.”
    “I took a new squad car down there and parked it in the midway. My squad car was brand new and only had 100 miles on it,” Koslowski explained. Everyone was taking photos in my squad car and around my squad car, taking photos with me. They were taking photos of themselves as if they were driving it. They had a good time.”
    The experience at the Special Olympic games was a refreshing change for Koslowski from his daily routine. “Although I’ve run though burning buildings and assisted in horrible car accidents, people don’t remember that,” Koslowski related. “They identify me as the person who arrested them or their parents.”
    At the games, “parents were telling their kids that police are good people.”
    Fundraising efforts from area law enforcement is continuing for the Special Olympics. The police and sheriff deputies are selling raffle tickets for a drawing that will be held on Oct. 17 including a 2014 Harley Davidson motorcycle and other prizes including 5 big screen TVs.
    Contact Koslowski at kozlowski@belviderepolice.com or (815) 547-6444 to donate to the Special Olympics or to purchase a raffle ticket.

  • farmers Market photo 1.JPG
    Farmers Market returns for another season at Dodge Lanes
    June 12, 2104
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - The Belvidere Farmers Market is back for another summer in the parking lot at Dodge Lanes, 1940 N. State St. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from now until Oct. 25.
    It's a place of variety, with friendly folks ready to sell some produce or homemade wares, discuss planting flowers and produce, or talk about most any subject.
    A Master Gardener is here twice a month as a community outreach and to answer questions related to tilling the soil. Barbara Johnston was first up for this summer and she had a wealth of information about upcoming programs.
    How about the correct way to raise chickens in your back yard? Assuming that's allowed in your neighborhood. A program on that subject will be held from 6-8 p.m. July 2 at the University of Illinois, Boone County Extension office, 205 Cadillac Court, Suite 5. Cost is $5 per person, payable in advance. Direct questions to the extension office at (815) 547-3710.
    Want to know "The Truth About Carbs?" The Keen Age Center, 2141 Henry Lucklow Lane, will have that program from 1-2 p.m. July 18. Cost is $5 per person and registration is encouraged either in person or by phone at 815-544-9893.
    There's a three-part series on healthy living coming up July 21, Aug. 4 and Aug. 18 at Ida Public Library, 320 N. State St. Each program is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free but registration is needed to be certain there are enough materials for participants. More details are available at the extension office phone number.
    And a Seed Saving & Seed Exchange workshop is on tap for 4-5:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at the extension office on Cadillac Court. Cost is $5 per person.
    The horticulture help desk is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the extension office, where you can "ask a Master Gardener" for advice or information.
    That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to information that's available at this table. There's plenty of material for kids, too.
    A special visitor to the table on opening day was Martha Dague, who recently turned 90 years of age. The market is one of her favorite places to visit, she said, and she tries to make it every Saturday.
    "I like the things they have," she said of the various vendors. And she likes the proprietors, too.
    She was given her choice of items among the fruits, vegetables and plants at the booth next door, and chose a container of strawberries.
     
    Plenty of produce
    While it's early in the growing season (no corn on the cob yet), the vendors at the market had a variety of produce from which to select.
    The Orchard from the Roscoe section that's in Boone County had bags of dried beans - pinto and kidney - this particular Saturday.
    That's a family business said the current owner, Roger Peucker, started by his dad in 1937. Apples, pears, cherries and grapes - plenty of grapes - are grown there, he said.
    Susie's Garden Patch in Garden Prairie had a table, under the watchful eye of Mary Brubach, with a variety of vegetables. Strawberries are expected on Saturday June 14.
    Not every booth had things to eat.
    Esther the Quilt Lady from Poplar Grove displayed a vast array of quilts, baby clothes, doll dresses and pillows. All homemade, something she's been doing for 25 years.
    Across the way was the Gnome Lady, a nickname given Lorrie Vargas by her customers at Wal-Mart. While she preferred another name Gnome Lady stuck, to which she said, "I'll take it."
    I make 'em, bake 'em and paint 'em, all by hand," she said of her craft, which largely consists of colorful sports gnomes. "They're weatherized so they can be outside. My yard is full of them." That outdoor collection includes a fairy, which has been in her yard for 15 years "and still looks good," she said.
    Of her craft, she said it was "a hobby that became a business."
    Don Long's table is nearby, featuring lawn furniture and garden accessories. The economy mandated that he expand and now his repertoire includes birdhouses. Everything is handmade.
    "I always made it but didn't really get into it until I retired in 2010," he said.
    The number of vendors at the market is expected to increase as the month goes by. 

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    Pancakes, free airplane rides bring Sunday crowd to airport
    June 11, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    POPLAR GROVE - Ron Johnson has traveled to plenty of fly-in breakfasts over the years, but not to this one. That's because all he has to do was taxi across the grass infield to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) hangar at Poplar Grove Airport, for a bite to eat.
    The occasion was the monthly Sunday morning pancake breakfast fly-in, drive-in, and free airplane rides for kids sponsored by EAA Chapter 1414, which is based at the airport.
    Johnson did wind up in the air shortly after eating, taking another Rockford resident, Larry Ackerman, for a spin in his open cockpit, two-seat 1941 Ryan PT.
    The plane, situated among lots of others at the fly-in, drew quite a bit of attention. Youngsters in particular seemed to like the open cockpit with a seat in front for the passenger.
    "It was a primary trainer during World War II," Johnson explained. It was based in California, built to prepare flyers for the type of plane they would be commanding during the war. "I've been told they had a very easy transition to the other planes," he said.
    He's been flying this historic craft, which he acquired in 1978, quite a bit. A favorite location is Oshkosh, Wis., every year, for the big EAA Fly-In that draws hundreds of planes from throughout the country. Having flown there for 36 consecutive summers he said his goal is to reach 50. "I'll be 84 that year," he said.
    Some 300 breakfasts were served June 8, with proceeds going to benefit the EAA chapter's myriad of programs.
    A big mission is to acquaint people, especially young people, with aviation. That's the reason for the free rides for youngsters 8-17 years of age during every breakfast.
    Chuck Pazdzioch, a member of Chapter 1414, said there can be as many as 45 riders. "Several have gone on to become pilots and now they're giving rides themselves," he said.
    The free rides are provided courtesy of the pilots, who supply the plane, fuel and their time. "No obligation," Pazdzioch was quick to add. "We're one leg of the (national) Young Eagle's program."
    Since the inception of the program, more than 1.8 million flights have been taken.
    Young Eagles' flights are available from 7 to 11:30 a.m., the same time as breakfast, on the second Sunday of each month from now through October.
    One of the more identifiable officials of the national EAA organization is Jeff Skiles. He was second officer on the U.S. Airways flight, which was forced to land in the Hudson River after encountering a flock of birds upon takeoff Jan. 15, 2009.
    The brief flight became known as the "Miracle on the Hudson" because all passengers and crew survived. Skiles was here in May 2013 for the dedication of the new EAA hangar at the airport. He remains with the national organization as vice president of chapters and youth education.

  • veterans exhibit photo.jpg
    Museum’s veteran exhibit elicits many thank yous, stories
    June 10, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – When the Boone County Historical Museum created the Boone County Veterans Remembered exhibit, an unusual scene began to routinely unfold that surprised and touched museum staff. 
    As veterans visit the exhibit and wear the military baseball caps that they frequently wear, other museum guests of all ages will stop to thank them for their service and they will start talking to each other.
    “It made me feel proud that people were taking the time to thank these veterans because sometimes they do not get thanked enough,” Lonna Bentley, Boone County Historical Society’s archivist, said. “Someone thanked a Vietnam vet and he immediately welled up with tears and said ‘you don’t know how much that means to me.’ A thank you to them means so much. It gave me goose bumps.”
    The community will have the opportunity to thank veterans on June 28 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Boone County Historical Museum. “This is the last big event to close out our Boone County Veterans Remembered exhibit,” Bentley explained. “What we are going to do is have the local veterans. People can come in and thank them and hear some of their stories.”
    Veterans are also invited to attend the museum to share their stories. “Some of them have funny stories. Bob Lear has a hysterical story about when he was transferred and had to go to another base,” Bentley laughed. “It is hard to get veterans to talk about their service. They like to tell stories. There is so much to learn from a veteran.”
    The exhibit has received positive attention since it opened on May 24. “The response has been phenomenal. It is going to be sad to take it down,” Bentley said. The exhibit will close on July 5.
    “We have seen lots of tears. A lot of it is the response when people read what Harold Hammond went through,” Bentley said. “People who didn’t even know him; it chokes them up when they read what he went through.”
    The Belvidere native served during the Korean War was captured and held as a POW twice. He suffered numerous atrocities including being buried alive for three weeks. After being held in a POW camp for two and a half years, he was included in a prisoner exchange. At the time of his July 27, 1953 release, he was 6 foot tall and weighed 89 pounds. Hammond was awarded 14 Bronze Stars, 3 Silver Medals and 2 Purple hearts.
    In 1995, Hammond began to collect flags of the United States and NATO nations. Prior to his 2009 death, Hammond shared his collection and love of flags with veteran groups, schools, Boy Scouts, and others.
    The Hammond Flag display includes several United States flags as well as a walking path with the flags of all 50 states.
    “It has been so much fun to watch kids come in here especially with the flags as they try to guess which state. I have had parents try to quiz the kids,” Bentley said. “I can hear the parents say ‘which is this one.’”
    The exhibit includes items from the Civil War through the Iraqi War.  In addition to military memorabilia, the exhibit includes the veterans’ post-military community service. “We have individual uniforms with stories that go along with them. One of them is Rueben Hernandez who left a big legacy in Boone County,” Bentley said. “He was the first Hispanic alderman to be elected in the county and he was elected to the school board. He is the founder of Alerta.”
    The exhibit includes a display of German “souvenirs” that were brought home with the veterans. “And they call them ‘souvenirs,’” Bentley added.
    Among the souvenirs is a German officer’s helmet, a Nazi flag, patches removed from soldiers’ uniforms and rifles.
    The younger visitors to the exhibit are attracted to the civil defense table. “They can turn the siren on and off,” Bentley explained. “The interaction between the parents and the kids is great to see. It is amazing to watch the parents answer the questions that the kids have.”
    The Boone County Historical Museum is located at 314 S. State St. in Belvidere. Their phone number is (815) 544-2580.
    The Veterans Appreciation Day will be held on June 28 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

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    Pool opening kicks off the start of summer
    June 8, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – The end of the school season signals the opening of the William Grady Pool at Belvidere Park on May 28.
    “We are excited to be open after a long winter,” Josiah Buss, special events and guest services coordinator said. “It is great to see all of the faces out here.”
    “It is always fun to see the kids and families out here to make memories,”
    There is quite a buzz,” Angelyn Hyland, Recreation supervisor, said. “We always have certain kids who are waiting to be the first ones in for the day. They are excited to be at the pool again.
    “We try to come for a little bit every day to get out of the house,” Jana Leafboro said.  She was at the pool with her five year old daughter Emmaline. “I grew up here at the pool. I couldn’t imagine not coming to the pool.”
    The pool has 350 to 1,000 guests each day. The sound of happy voices filled the air as children and adults played and swam in the pool. At the deep end of the pool, lines formed at the three diving boards as patrons jumped in, dove or perfected their cannon ball technique under the watchful eye of the lifeguards.
    In anticipation of the pool opening, more than 45 life guards spent nine hours training with all three shifts of the Belvidere Fire Department. The training took place at both the fire station and the pool.
    “I am always amazed at how well they know their jobs,” Lt. Al Hyser from the Belvidere Fire Department said. “It is amazing to watch them work. They are right on and very efficient.”
    The life guards worked with the fire department on their Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and learned how to use an AED (automated extended defibrillator) and perform CPR.
    “During the EAP training we run through different drills and scenarios, Hyland said. “It is a very in depth training program. They are prepared for anything to happen. They practice real life situations. The staff will simulate an emergency.”
     “We do this every year with fire department. It helps build that trust and the team mentality with the fire department. It gives them the opportunity to practice if an emergency should occur.”
    As part of the lifeguard training, the lifeguards learn their roles during an emergency and the hand off process between pool personnel and the fire department “We know what they’re doing; they know what we’re doing and then the transition,” Hyser explained. “They are in good hands.”
    To minimize the incidence or severity of emergency situations, the life guards follow a 10/20 protection rule. “We have 10 seconds to recognize a guest in distress and an additional 20 seconds to start rendering aid,” Hyland explained. “Typically someone in distress will start to have issues in the water after the 30 seconds. We want to get to them within those 30 seconds.”
    “Essentially they are doing a bottom scan every 10 seconds. Every minute have six bottom scans that you will achieve. They have to look through their entire zone of protection.”
    “We have a lot of fun things planned,” Buss said of the pool season.
    “This year park district is celebrating 95. We are offering three days that are 95 cent days” Hyland. “June 15, July 18 and Aug. 8.”
    On June 28 and July 26, the pool will open after hours and provide inner tubes for Flick n’ Float family movie night. The movies this year are Finding Nemo and Dispicable Me 2
    “We have an inflatable movie screen and it is angled so people can watch from the pool,” Hyland explained.
    “I want to try to come this year,” Leafboro said.
    On July 12, patrons’ boat making skills will be put to the test. Teams of four will make boats made out of cardboard and duct tape and race across the pool and back.
    The William Grady Pool will have four special event theme days. Patrons will have the opportunity to play theme-related games and win prizes. The theme related games are Minute to win it on June 16, R.O.C.K. in the USA on July 4, Jingle Bell Rock on July 21 and Double Dar on Aug. 4.
    The pool will be open after hours on June 21 and July 19 for Noodle nights. The park district will provide the noodles for guests to use during a late night swim.
    The William Grady Pool, located at Belvidere Park at 916 W Lincoln Avenue is open 12 p.m. -6 p.m. Sunday through Friday. On Saturday, the pool remains open until 8 p.m.

  • ida public library photo 1.JPG
    Ida Public Library kicks off summer reading program
    June 5, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – The Ida Public Library kicked off a successful start to their summer reading program on May 31. The library held their Paws to Read party in the library parking lot with a bounce house, juggler, community tables, and games. Approximately 300 people signed up to participate in the summer reading program.
    The kickoff party included a bounce house, community tables with Immanuel Lutheran comfort dogs, Winnebago-Boone County Farm Bureau, University of Illinois Extension 4-H, Belvidere Fire Department, Mayor Mike Chamberlain, and a comedic juggling show by Truly Remarkable Loon.
    “The turnout was great,” Deborah Bloom, director of the Ida Public Library said. “The goal was to get as many people here to experience the library and have fun.”
    “We have age appropriate programs for every level,” Emily Klonicki, Assistant director and head of youth services, said. The reading program has categories from babies through adults. The pre-reader program is for ages 0 – 5 and logs are submitted for the amount of time spent reading with an adult. Children ages 5 – 12 can participate in the readers program. Participants turn in a log that lists the books they read. The library offers a teen program that is a point based system in which teens earn points for reading books as well as familiarizing themselves with library services such as checking out e-books or attending library programs. Teens can earn prizes as they reach milestones. The library offers a summer reading program for adults. For each reading log that adults turn in, they are entered into a drawing for prizes.
    “The summer reading program has been around for forever. A few years ago we changed the way we do the program. We have had a good response to it,” Klonicki said. “We have had a lot more people sign up for it and complete the program.”
    “We have a pool party at the end of the summer at the William Grady pool for those who do the reading log and reach their reading goals for the summer,” Klonicki added.
    Third grade Washington Academy student Ruby Herrera attended the kick-off party with her family and signed up for the summer reading program. “They like the reading program,” Araceli Herrera, Ruby’s mom, explained. “They like the prizes and the pool party.”
    The summer reading program is open to all Boone County residents. Participants do not need to have a library card to participate in the programs.
    “We hope everyone signs up,” Klonicki added.

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    “Faces Never Forgotten” project remembers Vietnam casualties
    June 4, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE- On May 22, the Illinois Press Association sent out a press release stating, “Illinois newspapers’ support asked in locating missing Vietnam soldiers’ photos… Newspapers and newspaper associations across the country are being asked for help in locating missing photos.” 
     
    Upon investigation by the Belvidere Daily Republican discovery was made no photos of our two Boone County’s Vietnam Veterans who had died as a result of the war had been submitted.  The paper reached out to Boone County Historical Museum Archivist Lonna Bentley and Ida Public Library Local History & Genealogy Librarian Jillian Fuller and family members.
     
    Marine Pfc. Jeffery Earl Smith (Belvidere) and Marine Cpl. Walter L. McIntosh Jr. (Poplar Grove) were brave men and casualties of the Vietnam War. With combined efforts from Boone County Historical Museum Archivist Lonna Bentley and Ida Public Library Local History & Genealogy Librarian Jillian Fuller and family members, the photos of Pfc. Smith and Cpl. McIntosh have been forwarded to the Illinois Press Association for submission to the “Faces Never Forgotten” project.
     
    “A few months ago, the Vietnam Vet Memorial Fund issued a news release about their efforts to locate the photo of all 58,286 soldiers listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. They are building a new Education Center right near the existing memorial wall on the National Mall,” Barry Locher, director of Illinois Press Foundation said. “Construction for the facility is planned to start in 2016 and be completed for a grand opening in 2019. The new building will include an electronic “Wall of Faces” corresponding to the names on the wall.”
     
    “So far, the VVMF has collected 34,000 of the photos and still needs to find approximately 24,000 photos of soldiers listed on the wall. Soldiers since 9/11 will also be honored in the new center.”
     
    Fuller utilized the newly digitized Belvidere newspapers (1851-1977) on www.newspapers.com to locate the obituary for Cpl. McIntosh Jr. and used findagrave.com that provided his military photo.  Bentley provided contact information for the families based on records retained at the museum.  
     
    Every attempt to contact family members was made in regards to this article. Jim McIntosh is two of four brothers’ still living from a military family.  “My Dad served in the Navy and we moved around.  All my brothers, including myself also served in the military.”  McIntosh explained.
     
    When McIntosh was contacted and asked if he had a brother Walter there was a pause and then “yes”.   He was told his brothers’ photo would be submitted on his behalf.  “Thank you for not forgetting my brother Walter.  It has been so long ago.  Nearly 47 years.” McIntosh said.  He was grateful for the efforts from everyone involved and that there would be a permanent photo of his brother Walter for the “Wall of Faces” project.
     
    Cpl. Walter L. McIntosh Jr. served for a year and a half prior to his death.  Injured in Vietnam, he was flown home to Great Lakes Naval hospital where he was kept in isolation for about two months prior to his death.  He died on July 25, 1967 from a rare blood disease contracted in Vietnam and not from his injuries.  Cpl. McIntosh won the Honorman Award, a set of blues which were given to him in San Diego and was made a Private first class and leader of a squad.
     
    Cpl. McIntosh was a graduate of North Boone High School class of 1965.  According to his high school yearbook photo, he had a desire to go into law enforcement.
     
    Pfc. Smith enlisted in the Marines in April 1967 in Chicago, IL, completed boot camp at Camp Pendleton and was then sent to Quang Tri, Vietnam on November 18, 1967.  He served in Fox Company 2nd Battalion 4th Marines/3rd Marine Division.  Pfc. Smith was killed in action in Vietnam March 7, 1968.  Pfc. Smith was a graduate of Belvidere High School class of 1966.    Currently a remembrance display to Pfc. Jeffery Earl Smith is on display until July 5 at the Boone County Historical Museum during the “Remembering Boone County Veterans” exhibit. 
     
    “Member newspapers of the Illinois Press Association have already responded, and photographs of our soldiers who were killed and whose photographs are missing are beginning to come in.”  Locher stated.  “We are pleased to play a small role in honoring these soldiers who gave their lives when their country called.”
     
    “You may view the gallery in progress at http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/,” Locher added.

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    Friendly goats welcome visitors to farm breakfast
    June 3, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    BDR Editor
     
    POPLAR GROVE – The site of the 17th Annual Boone County Farm Bureau Foundation Farm Breakfast is appropriately named. The dairy goats at the Friendly Franseen Acres are very friendly. During a recent visit to the Friendly Franseen Acres, the goats rushed to the front of their pens to be petted much to the delight of the children.
    The Boone County Farm Bureau Foundation Farm Breakfast will be held on June 14 from 6:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. at 22799 Hwy 76, Poplar Grove, IL.  Visitors may want to arrive early as milking demonstrations will run from 6 a.m. until 8 a.m. The Franseens milk 130 dairy goats which each produce approximately eight pounds of milk a day. The farm has a total of 220 goats. Some of the goats will be as young as three weeks old at the time of the farm breakfast. “We have a few stragglers,” Jeremy Franseen said.
    The 240 acre farm has been in the Franseen family for three generations. Ken Franseen purchased the farm in 1949. Since then the land has been worked by his son Rick and now his grandsons Jeremy and Josh Franseen.
    After selling the dairy cows in 1997, Jeremy and his father, Rick, converted their dairy operation over to dairy goats.  They sell their milk commercially to a cheese plant.  Jeremy and his wife, Kristen, also make and sell goat milk soap and lotion.  Josh produces corn and beans on the land.
    “Our goal is to educate students and consumers about the importance of agriculture. As more consumers are further removed from the farm, it is important for them to know how their food is raised and where it comes from,” Ann Marie Cain, manager of the Boone County Farm Bureau Foundation said. “The farm breakfast provides consumers with the opportunity to see first-hand a local farm operation.”
    “It is a great opportunity for families to visit a farm, to see the different animals and experience a little bit of farm life.”
    This year’s activities include a craft show featuring some of the area’s most-talented crafters and venders; goat milking demonstrations (6-8 a.m.); horse drawn wagon rides provided by local team drivers; educational activities provided by Winnebago-Boone Agriculture in the Classroom; cheese tasting;  children's games; a petting zoo; Cow Pie Bingo; antique tractor, farm equipment,  and Model T car displays, and more.
    “They will be able to climb up the combines and see what goes into a farm,” Franseen said.
    The menu consists of all-you-can-eat pancakes, whole hog sausage, applesauce, ice cream, milk and coffee. Prices are $6 for adults, $3 children ages 6-10, and children 5 and under are free.
    All proceeds of the Breakfast and the Cow Pie Bingo will go to the Boone County Farm Bureau Foundation.  The Foundation was established for the purpose of providing scholarships and increasing agriculture awareness through educational means, such as Agriculture in the Classroom and Summer Ag Institute. The foundation will award a total of $4,000 in scholarships to five students in June to graduating and collegiate students who are majoring in agriculture.
    The Friendly Franseen Acres is one of only two dairy farms in Boone County. “We are hoping that since it is on a goat farm, other goat farmers will come to see our farm.”
    The Franseens hope that they set the record for the number of visitors at the Boone County Farm Bureau Foundation sponsored event.  “Weather permitting, I hope to set the record,” Jeremy Franseen said. He hoped that people from Boone, Winnebago and McHenry counties would attend as well as others from Clinton, Wisconsin as well as from outlying areas.
    For more information, call the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau office at (815) 962-0653 or www.winnebagoboonefarmbureau.org
    If the opinion of a four year old girl has any merit, Jahzara Goecks loved seeing the farm and interacting with the goats at the Friendly Franseen Acres. She was all giggles during her visit and was reluctant to leave.
     

  • Default image
    Ida Public Library puts vintage area newspapers online
    June 1, 2014
    By Lisa Rodgers
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE -The Ida Public Library Local History Room announced that complete issues from 1851-1977 from the library's collectionof Belvidere newspapers are now online and searchable on www.Newspapers.com.  Papers included are the Belvidere Standard (1851-1899), the Boone County Republican (1901-1903), the Republican-Northwestern (1903-1947), and the Belvidere Daily Republican (1900-1977). 
     “Getting the newspapers digitized was a goal of mine since I started working at Ida Public Library.  I first contacted Newspapers.com last September to see if they would be interested in digitizing the papers we had here. I got an immediate response informing me they were definitely interested in adding the Belvidere papers to their collection,” localhistory andgenealogy librarian at Ida Public Library Jillian Fuller said.“The entire process took about six months. We sent the microfilm to them this past April and it took only about two months to get the papers digitized.”
    “Digitization allows the library to offer better access to these amazing historic resources both in and outside of our community; it also equals longer life for the newspapers,” Fuller explained. “With technology changing so rapidly, this is a huge issue.”
    “There are many benefits to the community, to genealogists all over the country, and to the library. Over 1,000 visitors came to the Local History Room last year. Many of those visitors are people looking for information on their families, their homes, or local businesses or events.”
    “The most popular resource here is our collection of Belvidere newspapers. Until now, our collection of historic Belvidere newspapers was only available at the library on microfilm. The microfilm can be hard to read, difficult to print, and you have to scroll page after page to try to find what you want,” Fuller added. “Now the newspapers are available online, which means people can access them better here at the library and in their own homes. The papers are clearer to read and print.  You may search by name or keyword, just like a Google search.  And, Ida Public Library will have copies of all of the digital files, so if something happens to Newspapers.comsomeday, the library will still have all of the digitized papers.”
    One of the features of the website is its ease of use. “It is very easy to use and it's also really interesting to see what you'll find. I tested it by putting in my mother's maiden name and found an article from 1903 discussing my great-great-grandfather's dairy farm,” Fuller added. “I would probably never have found that if I hadn't been able to search the name on the database.”“Newspapers.com is a subscription website, but for those who don't have a subscription, the library offers free access from any library computer which will be available the first part of June. It is also available in the Local History Room for people from out-of-town who do not have library cards.You can also contact me at the library with research requests, if needed.”
    “We are very excited to be able to offer theseresources.  I encourage people to come to the library to check out the digital newspapers for themselves.  You never know what you can discover in an old newspaper.We hope this opportunity proves beneficial for all those researching their Belvidere and Boone County history.”
    For more information please contact Jillian Fuller at (815) 544-3838 or localhistory@idapubliclibrary.org.

  • memorial day photo 3.JPG
    Belvidere honors Memorial Day with parade, ceremony
    May 29, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – The country paused on May 26 to remember the ultimate sacrifice that over a million men and women made since the Civil War to fight for America’s freedom.
    Belvidere remembered and celebrated Memorial Day with a parade and ceremony at Big Thunder Park. The parade kicked off from City Hall and made its way down State Street. The parade was led by police chief Jan Noble, Boone County sheriff Duane Wirth and fire chief Dave Worrell. They were followed by members of VFW Post 1461.  The veterans received applause and salutes throughout their journey.
    The parade paused at the bridge for a brief ceremony. VFW Commander Greg Kelm read the poem It is the Soldier. Kelm also introduced gold star sister Ann Castro. As a young girl, Castro was handed a telegram and told to hurry straight home and deliver the telegram to her parents. The telegram contained the news that her brother Jesse Hernandez was killed in the Battle of the Rhine on February 25, 1945, a scant 2 ½ months before V-E Day. Castro cast a wreath into the Kishwaukee River to symbolize the over 1,200,000 men and women who gave their lives.
    As the parade neared Big Thunder Park, a light rain began to fall as if symbolizing the tears that the parents, siblings and others shed for their loved ones who were killed in battle. Pastor Alan Buss from Immanuel Lutheran Church spoke at the ceremony at Big Thunder Park. He told the tale of a young boy who learned that his grandfather participated in the D Day invasion. The boy asked his grandfather if he were a hero.  The grandfather told the boy he was not a hero, but he served in the company of heroes.
    “Remember heroes who made great sacrifices. Our heroes are the men and women we honor today,” Buss said. “They made sacrifices for a cause greater than themselves.”

  • extrication photo 2.jpg
    Area fire fighters participate in extrication competition
    May 28, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks, Editor
     Nic Thornton, Guest Contributor
     
    CHERRY VALLEY – The Cherry Valley Fire Department hosted a field of nine teams of firefighters in the 22nd Annual Midwest Regional Extrication Competition on May 17.
    The competition 
    is an opportunity for area departments to try out new tools and 
    techniques that they can take back and use in their area. Cherry Valley, 
    North Park and Kirkland are among many local teams that came out to 
    compete.
    Southern Kane County Training Association came in first place overall, as well as winning the limited pit competition. Southern Kane
    The teams drew numbers the evening before that determined the extrication set up that they would receive. Members of the team were sequestered immediately preceding their competition while members of the Cherry Valley fire department prepared the vehicles. Each team had 20 minutes to compete.
    The teams competed in limited pit, which involved the use of hand tools. Southern Kane County Training Academy came in first place, followed by Byron and North Park. In the unlimited pit completion, which involved the use of hand tools, Aurora team 1 came in first. They were followed by Aurora team 2 and Kirkland. Aurora team 1 came in second place in the overall team competition, and Byron came in third place overall.
    The event is more than a way for fire districts to compete against each other. “It is a learning symposium,” Wilt said. “If a team that knows a particular way that is unique to them, other teams are watching and take it back to their departments.”
    Southern Kane will have a chance to compete 
    in the National competition later this year.

  • Whitcomb in Drowsy Chaperone.jpg
    BNHS student heads to Broadway, gives thanks
    May 27, 2104
    By Rhonda Mix
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - On April 25, Belvidere North High School senior Julia Lindsey Whitcomb received the Illinois High School Musical Theater Award, which will give her a chance to perform on Broadway in New York this summer.
    Whitcomb received the award at the end of a “Broadway In Chicago” event at the Water Tower Palace Broadway Playhouse. Twenty-four students from around the state attended a full day of workshops with theater professionals in Chicago. The day ended with students auditioning in front of a panel of casting agents and theater professionals, who handed out the final two awards.
    On June 30, Whitcomb, as the sole female winner, will head to New York to represent Illinois in the National High School Musical Theater Awards – otherwise known as The Jimmy Awards. She will receive an all-expense paid trip. Weeklong activities will include group rehearsals and individual vocal and acting coaching by Broadway industry professionals, visits from special guests, discussions with working actors, a night out in Times Square for dinner and a Broadway show and session with casting agency, Telsey & Co.
    At the end of the session, a panel of judges will select two students for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress.
    “I feel so honored,” Whitcomb said. “I've wanted to apply for this award since my sophomore year, so even being able to apply was a blessing in and of itself. It also feels too good to be true. Broadway has been my dream and goal since I was nine, and I've worked so incredibly hard for so long, that I've made this so out of reach in my mind,” she added. “I just can't believe that it's actually happening. It still hasn't sunk in yet....I will be making my Broadway debut at the end of the week. [It will be] a very stressful, rewarding and unforgettable week.”
    Music has always been a part of Whitcomb’s life. She said she began singing at the age of 4.
    “I used to secretly sing in my garage, so the first time my parents knew I could sing, I was 9,” she said.
    During her four years at BNHS she has been deeply involved in choir, and she said the choir room is her “home away from home.”  She has held a number of roles in stage productions and also performs in the top concert choir, A Cappella, and show choir, Choraliers.
    In November she played the leading role of 'Drowsy' in the BNHS production of "The Drowsy Chaperone." The role opened up the opportunity for her to participate in the Broadway In Chicago event.
    Phillip Vermillion, director of choral activities and vocal music education at BNHS, has worked with Whitcomb since her freshman year.
    “Julia is dedicated to her craft,” he said. “She eats, sleeps and breathes musical theater.”
    He shared his thoughts on the importance of music in the classroom.
    “Music theater is the culmination of all of the arts,” he said. “In addition to drama, vocal music, instrumental music, dance, visual arts – costumes and sets – it incorporates architecture, history and literature, just to name a few. In a high-stakes testing, media-driven society that trains our students to be apathetic – or anesthetic – the arts are crucial to help students as humans be able to feel, to express, to live and to be human. Without the aesthetic experiences, the creative human element will be lost, and our innovative spirit will suffer. Arts education is crucial.”
    For Whitcomb, music is her passion. She is not afraid to share how deeply and personally the musical arts have impacted her own life, and said she believes music education is still important for young people.
    “Keeping music in high schools and in schools in general is crucial,” she said. “When things were really hard for me and I wanted to give up, the lyrics 'The sun will come out tomorrow,' were sung to me from the musical “Annie,” and it completely changed my attitude. I can honestly say that I would not be alive without [music]. Music is a last resort for so many people because it's so powerful. It breaks my heart to know that music programs have been taken out of schools. I've witnessed it completely change people's lives for the better,” she continued. “My choir class was the only reason and my only motivation to get out of bed a majority of the four years I've spent at North. The youth and the world need music. I will speak on this till the day I die.”
    Whitcomb also said she wanted to thank other people for helping contribute to her success.
    “Dr. Phillip Vermillion has been so generous to me of opportunities, his time, attention, support and his belief,” she said. “I will forever be grateful to him. There's no way I would have gotten this award without him. I would just like to add how grateful I am to those that believed in me,” she continued.
    “My parents have always been supportive and have helped me pursue theatrical opportunities however they could. They have made so many sacrifices and I fully intend to make them proud. My friends have stood by my side and rejoiced when I rejoiced, and cried when I cried. They have been so true,” she said. “My teacher and mentor Ellen Mahan of Gateway Performing arts Studio, located in Rockford –  who I highly recommend - who consistently gave me chance after chance and opportunity after opportunity. She just always believed in me. And God for his unconditional love and for the Arts in general; I certainly haven't gotten where I am by myself.”

  • vac_memorial day photo.JPG
    Take time to remember our fallen veterans this Memorial Day
    May 25, 2014
    By Ashley C. “Dave” Davis
    Superintendent, Veterans Assistance Commission of Boone County
    Guest Contributor
     
    Three cemeteries . . .  three carefully folded flags . . . three times Taps plays . . . three times the rifles “crack” . . . And, three times someone says “On behalf of ….”
    Great-Aunt Elizabeth was an Army Nurse serving overseas during World War II.  She helped hundreds of wounded Soldiers recover so they could return to their loved ones back in the United States.  She also had young warriors die in her arms at the quickly-erected Field Hospital on that island in the Pacific.  …Twenty-three to be exact….  Great-Aunt Betty saw all twenty three faces every night for almost sixty-years as the Soldiers gasped their last breaths in her loving arms.  At least now Great-Aunt Betty won’t wake up sobbing at 2:00 a.m. in the morning….  Every morning.   …Rest in Peace Great-Aunt Betty.
    …A bugle softly echoes Taps in the distance as an aging Veteran from the local American Legion hands Betty’s Great-Niece Elizabeth a carefully folded flag and says… “On behalf of the President of the United States of America, the United States Army and…”
    Grand-Papa George was a Sailor off the coast of Korea in 1953 and again off the coast of Vietnam from 1966 through 1968.  His ship delivered much-needed supplies, food and medications to the brave souls fighting on shore.  He was extremely proud of his twenty-seven years of U.S Navy service to his Nation.  He would tell stories to his three children and his five grand-children about his multiple trips around the world.  (Most of them were even true).  Grand-Papa George lived a long life and died peacefully in his sleep at his home near the ocean …Rest in Peace Grand-Papa George.
    …A bugle softly echoes Taps in the distance as a young Naval Officer from the nearby Naval Base hands George Jr. a carefully folded flag and says… “On behalf of the President of the United States of America, the United States Navy and a grateful Nation, please accept…”
    Terrance was a twenty year old Marine Infantryman Killed-in-Action while on his second tour in Afghanistan.  He last saw the United States while on leave in April of last year.  His mother, father, three sisters and one very lonely nineteen year old young lady, who would now “never” be a member of their family, sobbed helplessly as the flag draping Terry’s coffin in Arlington National Cemetery was carefully folded.  Taps starts echoing eerily in the distance as a tall, erect young Marine in his Dress Uniform solemnly hands Terry’s mother, Jean, the recently folded flag… Rest in Peace Terrance.
    …The young Marine, through tears of his own, says… “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Marine Corp, and a grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”
    Hundreds of thousands of deceased Veterans.  Thousands of Cemeteries in thousands of villages, towns, cities, and even overseas.  Thousands of times the lonely, soulful playing of Taps.  Thousands of times the “crack” of rifles firing.  Thousands of carefully folded flags to thousands of grieving family members…
    Please pause at least once this Memorial Day Weekend and silently thank our deceased Service Members and Veterans for their “honorable and faithful service” to our Great Nation…. May you all Rest in Peace.

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    Memorial Day observed at Lawrenceville Cemetery
    May 22, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - For more than 50 years Garden Prairie Grasshoppers/Sweet Clover 4-H Club has put on a Memorial Day service at Lawrenceville Cemetery.
    It's always early and that tradition was continued Sunday, May 18 with more than 30 people turning out on a picture-perfect spring afternoon.
    As everyone got settled members of the 4-H club walked along the various rows of the historic cemetery, placing flowers and a small American flag at each veteran's gravesite.
    Longtime 4-H leader and emcee Gary Turner made the introductions and asked for a moment of silence for Bob Mickey, a member of the cemetery association who died last year and is buried there.
    The history of Memorial Day was presented by 4-H club member Garrett Hulstedt, who read Gen. Logan's Orders. They were issued May 5, 1868, by Gen. John Logan and proclaimed that Americans set aside one day a year to remember those who served, or who were serving, in the military. By 1890, all the northern states were observing Memorial Day.
    Logan was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and fought with the Union Army during the Civil War. He also served in Congress.
    Traditional Memorial Day continues to be May 30. But Congress in 1968 passed the Uniform Holidays Bill that designated the last Monday in May as the federal Memorial Day. This year that falls on May 26.
    Lee Gardner followed by strumming his guitar and singing "America the Beautiful."
     
    Gettysburg Address
     
    Then another 4-H club member, Sam Knaup, read President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Turner recalled that Lincoln didn't think much of what he said that day, yet "we still talk about it today."
    Lincoln gave the address Nov. 19, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pa., after one of the most decisive battles of the Civl War.
    The Rev. Amy Poust, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Belvidere, was the guest speaker. She called Memorial Day "a day of remembrance" while looking on memory "as a tricky thing."
    There are some things we should never forget, she said, among them the sacrifice made by others on our behalf and loved ones who no longer are with us.
    Memorial Day is not obvious as one of our major holidays, she said, but we need to remember. In addition to those who served, and continue to serve, she said it's important to remember the followers of Jesus Christ, who died in a battle between light and dark. And people must remember "the Lamb himself," she said, who died for us.
    Gardner returned with another tune, "Someday," which he said was not a traditional patriotic song but in keeping with the pastor's message.
    Poust closed with a prayer and the benediction, before Rick Mansala could be heard sounding Taps from a distant corner of the cemetery.
    Lawrence Cemetery was established in 1869 and named for John Lawrence (1788-1876), who settled in this area with his family in the early 1800s. He fought in the American Revolution and also was a member of Congress.
    He and his family are buried in this cemetery as are four who fought in the Civil War: Albert Slafter (1810-83), his son, Albert (1841-1903), Daniel Newton Clark, who died Sept. 23, 1863, and Charles Woods, who died Oct. 3, 1864. 

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    A friend in crisis: Vickers retires from fire department
    May 22, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – When Ted Vickers retired from the Belvidere Fire Department on after 28 years on May 12, the city of Belvidere lost more than a fire fighter. Belvidere lost a friend to many who was a comfort in their time of need.
    “The residents of Belvidere were fortunate to have him as a part of their fire department for nearly three decades. I wish him well in the next phase of his life, and thank him for his service,” fire chief Dave Worrell said.
    As a fire and arson investigator, Vickers remained at the home or business after the other fighters returned to the station. I think I helped a lot of people. It is not always arson. In the end, after the fire if I was on duty I did the fire investigations, Vickers said.
    “I got to the point where I figured out it was more crisis intervention. People’s houses just burn up or their bedroom. I felt like I got really good at helping people after fires,” Vickers added. “I got to know which ones were good to people after a fire and which ones treat you poorly. It really helps if you have a local agent instead of having a 1-800 number.”
    “If they wanted a priest or a pastor, I had all of those connections where I could get those people to help them.”
    As union president for six years and a member of the union’s executive committee, Vickers was responsible for giving $100 on behalf of the fire fighters to people who just had a fire in their home. “You need money right away after a fire just for the little things. So I always made sure I had $100 cash on me.” 
    Vickers began a fire starters program in Belvidere. The program works with youths throughout the County who set fires or play with matches. Parents would bring their children to talk to him.
    Vickers saw many improvements to fire and vehicle safety since he first joined the fire department. When Vickers first joined the fire service, the firefighters had to share air masks between the crew. Because of the state of the equipment; there were many fires at which the fire fighters could not enter because of the poisonous gases and heat. “Nowadays we have better equipment where you don’t get hurt from the heat or smoke or gases that could give you cancer later down the road,” Vickers said.
    Vickers praised improvements to extrication equipment and changes that the auto industry made to reduce the rate and severity of injuries.” We used to go to so many bad car accidents where you would call in the helicopter and people would be bleeding and have broken femurs and bones out their skin,” Vickers recalled. “Now that the cars are changed, they crumple so the people don’t get hurt.”
    “It all evolves. It was good timing where I was at because I could watch it. People say ‘they don’t build them like they used to,’ and I say good because people are standing there and they are fine.”
    Vickers was selected to be part of a team of fire fighters that traveled to New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As fire fighters and their equipment made their way south to New Orleans, they became a convoy of over 500 fire trucks to help extinguish the fires that were breaking out throughout the city and to provide backup assistance. Some images of the dead in the streets of New Orleans continue to haunt Vickers.
    As a member of the Belvidere fire department, Vickers specialized in automobile extrications and roof ventilations.
    “Each and every firefighter has special talents, special traits that can’t be duplicated or taught. Ted was never one to back down from a challenge,” said fire chief Dave Worrell. “Ted specialized in fire investigations and enjoyed teaching extrication. He organized and led many extrication teams for local competitions.”
    For nine years, Vickers led a team from the Belvidere Fire Department to compete in the Midwest Regional Extrication Competition in Cherry Valley.
    On his last official day as a fire fighter, Vickers spent part of the day in auto extrication training. “I like doing it. I figured might as well go for it,” Vickers said. “If we would have had a house to practice training on, I probably would have picked roof ventilation.”
    For every ambulance call, the fire department responds with a truck. Every member of the Belvidere fire department is a paramedic or EMT. At times, the fire department arrives before the ambulance. Vickers delivered five babies during his tenure at the fire department.
    He spent the first day of his retirement building a community garden for Christ The Rock, Lutheran church in Rockford. “We just started a garden 50 x 70. We pick tomatoes and green beans. The group gives 80 percent of their bounty to Rockford rescue mission and the rest to the Salvation Army.”
    He also volunteers several times each month driving a van from Rockford to the VA hospital in Madison. Vickers sought a way to help veterans after the care that his Korean War veteran father received at the VA Hospital in La Salle.
    “They were so nice to him at the VA Home in LaSalle. I spent a lot of time visiting my dad and then he was gone,” Vickers said. “How can I help the Veterans Administration? Then I saw the van.”
    For a man who spent his career helping his community, it seems natural that he spends his retirement helping his community.
    A retirement party for Ted Vickers will be held July 12 at the Moose Lodge in Belvidere.

  • Default image
    Political Briefs Democrats have candidates for Boone County Board seats
    May 21, 2014
    Bob Balgemann

    Reporter

     

    BOONE COUNTY - The Boone County Democratic Party is busy lining up candidates for upcoming vacancies in three county board districts.

    Chairman Mike Guthrie said he's 99 percent sure he has candidates for the two four-year seats in District 2. Republicans currently in that race are incumbent Karl Johnson and newcomer Jeffrey Carlisle.

    So far there is one Democratic candidate for certain in District 3, where two four-year terms have drawn Republican newcomers Sherry Branson and Brad Stark.

    Democrats are hoping to land a running mate in District 1 for incumbent Bill Pysson. Republicans in that competition are newcomers Sherry Giesecke and Raymond Larson. Incumbent Republican Brad Fidder chose not to seek re-election.

    So far there are no Democratic candidates for the two-year seat in county board District 3, which now only has incumbent Republican Kenny Freeman in the running. Nor is there a Democrat candidate for sheriff (Republican newcomer Dave Ernest), county clerk (incumbent Republican Mary Steurer) or county treasurer (incumbent Republican Curt Newport).

    Guthrie said the party would be caucusing soon so it can file the list of candidates by the June 2 deadline.

    Independent candidates are able to circulate petitions now and must file from June 16-23.

     

    Constitutional changes may be on Nov. ballot

     

    BOONE COUNTY - Two petition drives that obtained more than the minimum 500,000 signatures may lead to constitutional amendments being placed on the Nov. 4 general election ballot in Illinois.

    One would limit terms in elected state office to eight years.

    The other would require redistricting maps to be drawn by an independent commission, rather than by the political party that happens to be in control of Illinois at that particular time. Boundaries must be redrawn after each census, now conducted every 10 years, to reflect population changes.

    Both are being challenged in the court system, with the main scrutiny focusing on the validity of signatures, according to state Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Sycamore.

    The term limits drive was led by gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, a Republican. This issue also would change from three-fifths to two-thirds the number of House and Senate votes that would be required to override a governor's veto.

    Further it would reduce the number of state senators from 59 to 41 and the overall General Assembly would decrease from 177 members to 164.

    "Yes for Independent Maps" filed the petitions to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians. The commission


  • pheasants forever photo.jpg
    Pheasants Forever assists landowners, farmers in creating habititats.
    May 20, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    POPLAR GROVE – Area hunters, landowners, farmers and conservationists gathered at Edwards Conservation Park in Poplar Grove on May 3 to take part in annual seed giveaway program designed to increase food plots and coverage for pheasants and other wildlife. The seed giveaway was sponsored by the Kishwaukee chapter of Pheasants Forever and is held the first Saturday of May each year.
    The Kishwaukee chapter of Pheasants Forever has about 240 members. “Our chapter is truly a conservation and habitat organization,” habitat chairman Jan Noble said. “More time, money and energy is spent on conservation issues and improving habitat than on the sporting side.”
    “I am a charter member back from 1985 when landowners and farmers realized there was a declining pheasant population,” Noble added.
    He remembers from his childhood when pheasants were plentiful throughout the area and wanted to help protect the pheasant population. “We realized that pheasants and all wildlife could be preserved through this,” Noble stated.
    Approximately two dozen farmers and landowners from Boone, McHenry, and Rock counties received 50 to 200 pounds of seed corn, soybean, winter wheat, sorghum, and pasture mixes. Some of the seed recipients wanted to plant food plots while others wished to plant grassy areas for nesting. “It is amazing how much habitat can be held in a 10 food wide fence row. A one acre field can a supply a lot of food for wildlife,” Noble said. “Fence rows with tall grasses left in place leave an ideal area for nesting and cover during severe snow storms.”
    “During the coldest winter months it is amazing how much food value that can be left by landowners if they do not harvest an outside row of crops or to plant a food plot and let it stand through the winter,” Noble added.  The ground cover helps the pheasants stay warm to survive the winter. In addition, in the spring, it helps protect the nests from predators such as coyotes and hawks or other raptors.
    The seed was donated by the DeLong Company in Clinton and Conserv FS in Caledonia. “We try to support local organizations that deal with agriculture and the environment,” Steve Quade, seed manager at the DeLong Company, said.  “Every year we get some seed left over that we have from test plots or other areas. We cannot use it. It works out well for them to use it as habitat for a wildlife plot.”
    “We have a unique situation where our company can benefit an organization like Pheasants Forever. We have a nice synergy with them when we have excess seed,” Quade added. “It is good for the environment and the habitat.”
    The DeLong Company sells wildlife mixes specifically to attract deer, wildlife turkey. The company began to carry the mix based on customer demand as farmers began to create habitats on their land.
    In addition to the seed giveaway, the Kishwaukee Chapter of Pheasants Forever has a Tye no till drill available for landowners to utilize in the planting of food plots and habitat area.
    For further information on Pheasants Forever or the seed giveaway or, contact local habitat chairman Jan Noble (815) 765-2070.

  • cte photo 1.JPG
    Belvidere North honors career-minded students
    May 18, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – Nearly 250 students at Belvidere North High School were invited to the school’s first annual Career and Technical Education Banquet. In addition to being the honorees, the students helped plan and organize the awards ceremony and banquet.
    Students from BPA, DECA, Engine Team, FFA clubs as well as students from career-track courses such as accounting, business, child development, clothing, computer operations, interior design, and teaching were honored.
    “This started as a way for us to work together for all of our career and technical education classes,” Business education teacher Candy Bloome said.  “It was a way to honor students who have taken a series of courses so they can be proud of themselves.”
    “This is a chance to showcase what they’ve done well and we’re proud of them.”
    “It is the biggest student recognition event we have had at Belvidere North High School, and we are really excited about it,” Belvidere North principal Marc Eckmann said.
    “I think it is amazing that we got recognized along with the other students,” FFA chapter president Chelsey Huntington said. “It meant a lot to some of the students that we did get recognized.”
    “We were shocked that we were invited because we have never been involved with anything like this before.”
    “They really are doing some amazing things. We have students in national competitions and they are just doing incredibly awesome things. It is nice to have this opportunity to give them this recognition,” Marjorie Hartfiel assistant director from Career Education Associates of North Central Illinois (CEANCI) said
    Members of the Engine Team were at the awards ceremony in force and wore their team t-shirts. The group brought the trophy that they won at the Race and Performance Expo state competition in late February. The group took first and third place at the state competition. In teams of five members, the students took apart and rebuilt a Chevy 350 V8 engine in 23:11 for the first place team and 29:56 for the third place team.
    FFA members wore their distinctive blue corduroy jackets to the awards night. “We are given opportunity to obtain knowledge through classroom material and compete in career development events,” said Huntington who participates in as many of the FFA career development experiences that she can. “What we learn in the classroom helps with the competitions”
    Huntington added that she feels more confident and outgoing when she is at FFA events and wearing the blue jacket. “We are more upbeat because we know what expectations are for us.”
    “We know that from labor market information that 20 percent of the occupations actually require a bachelor’s degree. There is an 80 percent club that we have to prepare for,” Hartfiel said. “I believe schools are the opportunity to serve the community with the labor force that we need.”
    Students from the school’s food and culinary arts programs spent a week planning and preparing the banquet. “It is a really good feeling that a lot of people enjoyed it,” Josh Gracia said. “It is pretty exciting.”
    Through the planning and execution of such a large banquet, Gracia said that he and his fellow students developed an appreciation for the lunchroom staff who prepare hundreds of meals every day. Although he plans to go to Rock Valley College and UW-Madison to study business, he encouraged other students to consider taking the culinary courses.
    Ashlyi Tucker, a freshman who takes computer application courses at Belvidere North, enjoyed learning
    PowerPoint and Excel this year. “I thought it was pretty cool because I will be working with technology.  It helps you to use the computer and learn what apps you would use,” Tucker said.
    “It is nice to see what we have set forth in our vision for the school district to prepare students for careers and the job market, Belvidere CUSD100 school board member Jason Colson observed. “It is nice to see it come to fruition and see how well they put this together on their own.”
    “I think it is a great opportunity to find people who are already trained to put them in technical fields.”
    “Everyone is in love with it.,” Huntington summed up the students’ sentiments of the Career and Technical Education Banquet. ‘I hope next year we can have more of our students who get recognized through it.”

  • academy expo photo.jpg
    Belvidere joins Rockford students with career expo
    May 15, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – Community and school leaders from Rockford and Belvidere met at the Boone County Community Building to announce a joint initiative to sponsor an Academy Expo at BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford this fall.
    In 2011, a pilot program began at Jefferson High School in Rockford to redesign the school into academies. First year students are enrolled in the freshman academy. Beginning in the students’ sophomore year, they are enrolled in one of four career academies. The career academies are organized around a specific interest.  Electives that sophomores, juniors and seniors take allows the students to earn college credit or career certification and makes them immediately marketable or employable in that area.
    The program was subsequently rolled out to all Rockford high schools.
    Before rolling out the program, the Rockford Public School District surveyed seventh and eighth grade students on their career and workplace knowledge.  From that survey, 75 percent of students indicated that they knew about 100 percent of the available jobs and marketplace.  Subsequent discussion and classroom activities revealed the students’ overconfidence.
    The decision was made to support and engage students and provide them with more experience.  From that, Academy Expos were organized at BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford so that freshman students could learn about career paths and make a more informed decision. The 2013 Academy Expo for Rockford freshmen included 150 employers and 750 community volunteers.
    Area employers staff booths with career professionals who demonstrate what they do, how they got where they are, what they like about their job, what they do not like about their job,” explained Dave Carsons, executive director of college and career readiness at the Rockford Public Schools.
    “It is great to connect their learning in a contextual way,” Rockford Public School superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett added.
    Belvidere freshmen will have the opportunity to attend the 2014 Career Expo on Sept. 16.
    “We are focused on a tiered rollout of regional collaborators. We really think this will be better if we can make this a regional endeavor,” Jarrett said. “Employers do not look to hire students from one specific school district. They look to our region for high quality work force. Belvidere is where we wanted to go next.”
    The participation by Belvidere students in Align Rockford and the Academy Expo is in line with a greater vision for the school district. “Our board has challenged us to come up with 5 magnet schools by 2017,” Belvidere Community Unit School District superintendent Michael Houselog said. “One of the things that we are talking about is a career vocational high school. The capstone activity for us would be graduating from high school with certificates for employment.”
    “We see a lot of things on the horizon and we see this as the first step.”
    The specifics of a career vocational high school are still being decided. “We have space in our high school. At the same time, there is manufacturing space in our community because of the downturn in the economy.”
     “Technology and automation have brought about the huge change in the economic marketplace today,” George Mutert, president of Franklin Wire said. “Manufacturing jobs are so much different than what they were 35 years ago.”
    Currently 42 percent of working adults in Illinois hold a 2 or 4 year degree.  “By 2018, the Center on Workforce and Education from Georgetown University estimates that 64 percent of job vacancies will require post-secondary credentials,” Kelly Galluzzo, executive director of Growth Dimensions said.
    The time is ready for the schools and business communities to work together to prepare students for the workplace demands.
    “How can we help? What is it that you need from us?” Mutert asked. “We are very happy to get involved.”

  • dyslexia photo.jpg
    Difrent and compleatly happy!
    May 14, 2014
    By Stephanie Hyzer
    Reporter
     
    Dyslexia… an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read and write and for some to spell. Ever since I was in third grade I have known that I have a form of dyslexia.
    For me reading and spelling are the things that affect me the most. I read at a low reading level for my age, and I am a terrible speller. My journey through school has been very different from most. I have been in special education classes as long as I can remember.
    For most kids when a reading assignment is assigned in class, it is no big deal; they read what was assigned and answer the questions. But for me, it is more like a job than an assignment. I often leave class to find a teacher that can sit down and read the assignment to me. If I were to try and do the assignment on my own, I would probably not even attempt to read it. I would just sit and stare at the words hoping that when it came to answering the questions I would somehow answer them correctly.
    When I read something I don’t comprehend it and, many times, I will read it three or four times to make sure I know what it said. When it comes to writing things, like this article for instance, I write it all down on paper first and then give it to my mom and she will sit down and try to decipher my spelling and type it up for me. She has done this for me my entire school career. My disability is something I don’t talk about because I feel like people are going to judge me.
    If you know me well enough, you know I can’t spell. My close friends have learned to just accept it, but there are a few people in my life that could not accept that I am different and have made fun of me.
    I have been cyber-bullied regarding my spelling on social media. The person that said things did not know about my disability, but I am a prime example of how you should not judge someone when you don’t know what they are dealing with. Up until my junior year, I tried not to let it bother me, but, in this specific case, the thing that bothered me the most was that this person has no clue all the things I have had to go through to get to where I am today.
    For years I have worried about how I am going to get through my whole life with my disability. I have worried about if I would ever find someone to be with that could accept me for me (thankfully I have). What happens when I have kids and they want me to read to them and teach them how to read and write? Even before kids, will I find a job that I am comfortable in that does not overwhelm me?
    All these things are things I have been dealing with for as long as I can remember and will have to deal with for the rest of my life. But at the end of the day, I know this is the way God made me and this is how I am meant to be.
    I have learned to accept it. Can you?

  • belvidere Historic photo 2.JPG
    Historic Preservation Commission honors achievement
    May 13, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - The Belvidere Historic Preservation Commission has presented its annual achievement awards to property owners who through building renovations have paid tribute to the city's past with an eye on the future.
    In addition, the second Priem Award was handed out while the downtown Boone County Historical Museum was recognized for its recent $1-million-plus expansion.
    Members of the Belvidere Historic Preservation Commission board presented the awards May 8 during a gathering at the museum, 314 S. State St.
    Mayor Mike Chamberlain welcomed those who turned out for the special occasion. Of the award recipients, he said, "Kudos to you for preserving the past for future generations."
    And of the historic preservation commission itself, he said it was tapping people's imaginations when it came to the various restoration projects.
    Renovations to the building at 419 S. State were recognized. Ed Winter's father purchased it in the 1950s during a time when it housed a Walgreen's, complete with a soda foundation.
    Offices on the second floor have been renovated and the building now is being sold to Tom Lewis.
    Attorney Nathan Noble is moving his law office into the building at 504 N. State, which once served as a gas station as evidenced by 25-cent gas tickets that were found. More recently it housed Globetrotter Travel. He was cited for keeping his building in concert with the historic integrity of the neighborhood 
    The project became an instant hit when he said he would accept suggestions from the commission as to the ultimate design.
    A historic, 104-year-old home at 505 N. State is being renovated by Donald and Cheryl Van Abbema. Of improving the 3 bedroom, 2,600-square-foot residence, co-owner Donald Van Abbema said it was the most work and money he'd ever put into a house.
     
    Saved from demolition
    John Ahrens saved a picturesque three-story house at 809 S. State St. from demolition and now is renovating it. He thanked Ed Marx for providing the opportunity to do the improvements. "Without him it wouldn't have happened," he said.
    The Millie Priem award was given out for the second year after initially going to its namesake, who now is 97 years of age and wasn't able to be at the presentations;. This year's award went to George Williams, who fits the description as one who is dedicated to preservation of the community.
    Interim City-County Planning Director Kathy Miller said he was known for his knowledge of home construction and love for historic preservation. He has lived in Belvidere since 1944, she said, and has a wealth of knowledge about the city.
    Williams was there and said it was "a real honor" to receive the award bearing Millie Priem's name. He said he had worked with her on many committees over the years.
    A plaque with the name of each year's recipient will hang in the museum.
    The Boone County Historic Museum itself was honored for being a focal point of the downtown and for its recently completed expansion, linking the museum with the adjacent research center.
    And the Boone County Journal received the Organizational Recognition award for its weekly series of historic feature stories that run on the front page of the newspaper.

  • rm-mothers day Steve Anderson-Debbie Anderson-Jennifer Anderson.jpg
    Area mothers and their children reflect on motherhood
    May 11, 2014
    By Rhonda Mix
    Reporter
     
    BELVIDERE - There is a passage in the book “For One More Day,” by Mitch Albom, that reads:
    “But there's a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begin.”
    While we may not remember exactly when our first cries rang out and the first pages of our stories were written, our mothers are indeed continually present with us. Whether physically or in spirit, over the course of our entire lives, our mothers are often in some way imprinted on our hearts and personalities.
    Our mothers shape us and we also shape them.
    In honor of Mother's Day, I  recently interviewed a couple of local mothers to see what they had to say about motherhood. I  also interviewed their grown-up children to see what they had to say about how their mothers have helped make them into the people they are today.
    Here's what they shared.
    Phylis and Brad Morelock are Boone County residents who run a dairy farm. They have three children, Chad Morelock, 34; Christa Morelock Morris, 40; and Brian Morelock, 38.
    “I think one really rewarding thing about motherhood has been watching your kids grow up and become their own person – having individuality,” Phylis said. “It has been challenging watching them grow up and biting your tongue, letting them learn their own lessons from their mistakes.”
    But, she added, every moment of motherhood has been memorable and she said she has been lucky to have her children living in such close proximity to her.
    “I couldn't live much better than that,” she said.
    She also shared some words of wisdom for new mothers and mothers-to-be.
    “Watch your children and don't let them just be gone,” she said. “You want them to have family time where they can learn your values. Try to teach them by example.”
    Chad admires the fact his mom has been a hard worker throughout his life and said she has set a great example.
    “You always know where you can find her. She has been a good role model – being a dairy farmer is a big commitment and a lot of work,” he said. “I grew up watching that.”
    His mom's dedication also has had an effect on the way he lives his life.
    “When I was three or four, we'd play ball,” he said. “She was getting me to swing a bat at a ball and would always say 'keep your eye on the ball. Just keep your eye on the ball.'”
    Christa and Brian share their younger brother's sentiments.
    “All moms are special, but there's something extraordinary about mine. She is the hardest working person I know,” said Christa. “Being a farmer is hard work. And raising three children is hard work. But she has managed to do both amazingly without ever falling short for any of us kids …. My mom has taught me to be a fair, open-minded, and selfless person [and] has always put others' needs before hers,” she continued. “That's just what mothers do.  And you can't fully appreciate and understand that sacrifice until you become a mother yourself. Then it all makes sense.”
    “I admire her dedication to her work and her family,” added Brian. “No matter what, she has and will always be there for her family. She is a wonderful mother and grandmother and her children and grandchild love her very much.”
    Boone County resident Debbie Anderson and her two children also shared some thoughts. Debbie Anderson said that one of the most rewarding aspects of motherhood has been having the privilege of watching her two children, Steve Anderson, 35, and Jennifer Anderson, 39, grow into caring people who love God.
    “And also sharing in their happiness together as a family, [with my husband, Nils]  –  it has been a joy,” she said. “There have been some challenges watching them struggle, while being able to have the discernment to step back and let them learn, and to learn not to do everything for them. Part of growing up is having those struggles and learning from them,” she reflected. “As a mom, it is your responsibility to let your children go through the challenges and be there for support. One of the biggest lessons was that I had to accept that it was 'OK'  when things don't go absolutely perfect in your child's life.”
    Her words of advice for new mothers?
    “We will have challenges no matter how old we are. Realize it is part of growing and help your children become the people they are meant to be.”
    Steve and Jennifer have been appreciative of all their mother has done in their lives.
    “She's taught me a lot,” Steve said. “She's kind-hearted and has always been there for me. She taught me to work hard at whatever I do and not give up. She taught me to treat others how I'd want to be treated and to be there for my friends.”
    Jennifer Anderson said she admires Debbie for “living what she believes.”
    “She also possesses qualities anyone would want in a mother,” she said. “She's there no matter what, and loves you no matter what. She supports me in whatever I do and is not afraid to tell me when I'm wrong. She is compassionate, intelligent, has integrity and leads by example. I can't imagine my life without my mom.”
    When it comes to my own mother, I am privileged to have enjoyed and continue to enjoy many happy times with her. Even during the years when we weren't physically present together – when thousands of miles existed between us when I lived on the opposite side of the planet – she was, and always is, with me. I've carried the lessons she taught me as a child, the love she shared and the faith she instilled, through all the chapters in my life story so far. I've been very blessed and I hope I have been a blessing to her as well.
    How has your mother shared in your own story?
    Now may be the perfect time to tell her.
    Happy Mother's Day!

  • pantry parking lot photo 1.jpg
    Parking lot for food pantry patrons becomes a reality
    May 7, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    CAPRON - Spring finally has returned and with it has come a new parking lot to serve patrons of the Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry.
    Heavy equipment was at work the morning of Saturday May 3, clearing the land for the anticipated coat of ground-up asphalt. There should be room for 30-40 vehicles.
    Linda Clark, executive director of the pantry, thanked everyone who helped make the project happen.
    N-Track Group in Loves Park provided the equipment that was on the scene Saturday morning.
    Company officials included Brooke Anderson, chief operating officer of the company and Danielle Schlichting, chief administrative officer. Assistance also came from Ronald Schlichting, Gary Wright, Kyle Markhardt and Noah Schlichting.
    In addition, help with the project was provided by Riley View Transport in Marengo, Penny Berschet, owner-operator; Brad Watson & Son Excavation in Capron; Ayre Excavating in Clinton, Wis., Prain Ayre, third-generation owner and driver, Randy Taylor; and Rhodes Ray Excavating & Landscaping in Rockford, drivers Keith and Lora Lee. 
    Having this new place for pantry clients to park while they are across the street getting food and other assistance removes the possibility that their vehicles will be issued a ticket for parking on the streets of Capron.
    "It seems that Capron has an ordinance that states you are not allowed to park on streets that do not have curbs," Clark said. "Even though there are only two blocks in the whole village that have curbs, they (village officials) are standing behind this ordinance.”
    "Giving our clients tickets for parking on the streets when they come to the pantry to get food for themselves and their families just seems a bit above and beyond cruel and unusual punishment. Our clients are going through enough heartaches without being ticketed for parking on the streets of Capron."
     
    Deadline is given
    The pantry was given until spring to show progress was being made toward construction of the new parking lot.
    Clark said the portion being worked on May 3 represented about three-fourths of the entire project, which has an estimated cost is $65,000-$68,000. The rest will be completed "when we have more money," she said.
    "So we are thanking Woodward Governor and the Boone County Foundation for donating to this parking lot project," she said.
    The food pantry opened in 2005 and does much more than provide food and other assistance to qualified families.
    One of its newest services is supplying the food for community meals that now are being served every Thursday at Poplar Grove United Methodist Church and the third Wednesday of each month at St. John's United Church of Christ in Belvidere.
    Starting in June, the Apostolic Church on Town Hall Road also will be providing a meal once a month.
    The pantry also provides snacks for children in elementary schools in North Boone Community Unit School District 200.
    In addition to weekly food distribution Tuesday mornings at the pantry, 200 Fifth Ave. in Capron, qualified clients are able to choose non-food items such as personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and vitamins, plus much more.
    Clients may shop for clothing and household items as well as furniture and appliances, which Clark said "go very fast." The pantry also is an established Kibble Korner for those with pets.
    Volunteers are important at the pantry. Last year 203 worked 19,661 hours there. They came from RSVP, the probation department, local schools, churches and scout groups.
    Beyond that, the pantry has five full-time staff and three part-time workers.
    The pantry only receives government assistance from Poplar Grove Township. As of March 2014, the unemployment rate in all of Boone County was 12.3 percent and is the highest unemployment rate in the state of Illinois. In July 2013, the rate was 10.9 percent.
    Reports show more than half of the people served are from Belvidere Township.

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    Candlewick Lake manages geese population with addling program
    May 6, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    POPLAR GROVE – If you ask many people what is their least favorite Canadian import, the answer is likely to be geese.  As the Canadian geese population has increased to excessively large numbers around suburban lakes and ponds, steps have been taken to keep the population in check.
    Candlewick Lake Association has implemented several programs to manage the geese population in the subdivision.  For six weeks every spring, volunteers participate in an addling program. The group also herds geese for humane slaughter. Buffer zones around the lake discourage geese from using the lake. In addition, solar lights have been installed near the beach and marina.
    For 6 consecutive weekends in April and May, 5 to 12 volunteers search for nests and coat the eggs with cooking oil. The oil seals the pores on the eggs and prevents the embryos from developing and hatching. The eggs are left in the nest until the end of the mating season. After that time, the eggs are removed from the nests and buried. If the eggs were removed from the nest too soon, the goose may lay additional eggs.”
    The addling program, in its seventh year at Candlewick Lake subdivision, operates under a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The volunteers keep track of where the nests are located and check on them throughout the mating season and attempt to identify any nests that were missed on previous outings. “The first week there might only be one egg,” Jim Brefeld explained. “She might lay five or six eggs.”
     “You might find broken eggs from around the area where some animal got in and at them. If it is early enough in the season, she might lay more eggs.”
    “Since we started this program since 7 years; decreased 50-75 percent,” Brefeld said.
    Each year the group finds an average of 25 nests. After the first weekend, the group found 50 eggs. The number of eggs in each nest varies from one to seven eggs. Despite the group’s best efforts to identify all nests in the area the group misses a few nests each year. “In the end of May someone will call and say there are 5 babies or 6 babies,” Brefeld said. “You do the best you can.”
    This year, Candlewick Lake will also attempt a herding program under an IDNR permit. “For a certain period of time there is a molting season when the birds cannot fly,” Brefeld said. “What they do is they herd them into a channel with boats and they collect them.”
    The geese are humanely slaughtered and given to the needy.
    Candlewick Lake residents should contact Theresa Balk at (815) 765 2827 x208 to report any nests on their property.

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    RAMP Wheel-a-thon raises money, awareness
    May 4, 2014
     By Tricia Goecks
    Editor
     
    BELVIDERE – When Boone County RAMP held their ninth annual Wheel-a-thon on April 26, the event was more about raising money to support their mission.
     
    “The purpose of it is so that able-bodied people can get an experience what it is like to have a disability as they try to navigate through town and see the challenges that people with wheelchairs face,” Kim Johnson, Boone County RAMP manager, said. “We bring in wheelchairs and we encourage our participants who do not currently use a wheelchair to pick a wheelchair and travel through our route.”
     
    Participants walked a two mile course through Belvidere that began and ended at the Boone County Community Building. Many returned from the course and said that they didn’t realize how difficult it would be to push a wheelchair through the city. Others were surprised by the difficulty they faced crossing streets or pushing the wheelchair up inclines on the sidewalks. “Hopefully it makes them more aware of people with disabilities and the challenges they go through,” Johnson said.
     
    “It is to show what these barriers are like so working together we can help remove these barriers for equal access.”
     
    The Boone County State’s Attorney’s office was among the teams that participated in the Wheel-a-thon.
     
    “We really enjoyed it. The weather was beautiful,” State’s Attorney Michelle Courier said. “It was a great event for a great cause.”“The money earned at the event stays within Boone County to provide services and advocacy here.”
     
    In addition to promoting accessibility for the disabled, RAMP offers a variety of programs to assist the disabled. “We are more than out there building ramps. We are helping people build their independent life,” Johnson said. “Whatever that means to them.”
     
    “We serve anyone with a disability no matter what their age or what their disability is,” Johnson said. “We have programs such as independent living skills whether that be finding an apartment and living on their own. I will help them with that. We also have an employment network for people who want to go back to work or even start employment. We also have youth education advocacy where we help parents in school through the IEP special education process.”
     
    RAMP counselors offers a course called Teens in Transition for Belvidere and Belvidere North High School special education sophomores and juniors. The program helps the students develop a plan as they transition from high school to adulthood.
     
    “We look at post-secondary education, and help them with resumes, mock interviews. We provide that feedback for them. They find it really helpful,” Johnson said. “We move on to what housing is going to look like for them. We are trying to give them a heads up on these expectations for when they hit adulthood.
     
    RAMP counselors help their consumers find employment and affordable accessible housing. Matthew Sherman was one of their consumers. Sherman was living at home and had mental health issues. Through RAMP, he was able to find full-time employment at Walgreens. He has since found his own apartment, purchased a car and got married. “He has come a long way. I am very proud of him,” Johnson said.