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Around and About in West Chicago - 22 June 2011

Around and About

  • Moms In School

  • Rules of the Road refresher program

  • Lieutenant Mike Hamlin

  • Regulation of the hours of lawn equipment usagea

  • New City Hall

     Acknowledging and meeting a need in the community, Moms In School opened its doors 19 years ago, and, now sadly closes the doors. The not-for-profit organization was a state licensed and subsidized childcare center for teen parents. Although there have been different directors and board members, both Lana Runyan and Carol Vigsnes, residents of West Chicago, have served on the board since its inception.

     Arlyn Grimm, a DuPage County Special Education Nurse at Community High School District 94, drew attention to a need in the community. “She noticed girls dropping out of high school when pregnant, foregoing their education,” said Runyan. A meeting was set up among the churches to discuss the program. Reverend David Haley, then pastor of First United Methodist Church of West Chicago, showed much interest in providing the childcare service for children six weeks to three years. “He and the church members agreed to place it in the Methodist Church,” located at that time at 204 Church Street, she explained.

     To get everything in place, the board of directors started with the state to find what was necessary and worked with Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. “We had hoped to open the doors at the beginning of the school year, but we were not ready until October 1992. They were working right up to the deadline. Vigsnes recalled setting up the multi-special cribs the night before opening. One of the board members, Mary Fran Potts called Carol to say help was needed immediately. “Richard (Carol’s husband) walked in the door after work. I handed him a sandwich and tools and off we drove to the church.” Mary Fran and Carol opened the boxes, smashed them and took them to the alley, while Richard and Mike Potts (he is now deceased) figured out how to put these cribs together. “Everything had to be ship shape that night for the next day.”

     During its years of existence the organization did make a positive difference in many lives. The letter announcing the closing stated, “Our organization helped 175 high school students. Sixty-five percent of these parents graduated from high school. Our best benchmarking shows typically 35 to 40 percent of teen parents graduate from high school. At least 56 of our students went on to college. We believe our investment in the education of these parents is an investment in the future and well being of all their children.” Parents were charged on a sliding scale with ability to pay and based on state guidelines, explained Director Tammy Bloom.

     Runyan said, “It took hundreds of people to support this mission and we never can effectively say how important their support was to the center.” She added, “A true plus was the intimacy of the program. We got to know the parents and build up a feeling of trust. It was a wonderful, wonderful program.” Vigsnes agreed. “I have been honored to be a board member and Moms In School supporter.”

     United Voices for Children recognized Moms in School at a breakfast held June 9, 2011 during the Northern Illinois Conference of United Methodists Church. The organization received the Bishop Jesse R. Dewitt 2011 Child Advocacy Award.

     Honors Night for Moms In School is at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, June 26, 2011 at First United Methodist Church of West Chicago, 643 East Washington Street. The program gives a brief recap of the history of the organization and honors current staff and members of the board of directors.  Following is a cake and punch reception. To make a reservation, call the church office at (630) 231-3344.

      Runyan said closing the doors to Moms In School was a difficult decision. Several factors led to this, the slowdown in the economy and not having enough participants to make it financially viable. Bloom said, “There were only 10 parents involved this year. Our highest amount was 18.” The program will continue in a way through Educare of West DuPage.

     “They are using our facilities to provide childcare and education for parents until their building is completed in 2012. They will continue with the young parents already in our program. This is great as it provides the necessary consistency.”



     Avalon Quartet presents “An Evening with Beethoven” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 23, 2011 at the West Chicago Public Library District, 118 West Washington Street. The quartet is one of the country’s leading ensembles. As dedicated educators, the ensemble has taught at Interlochen Quartet Institute, Madeline Island Music Camp, Icicle Creek Music Festival, Britten-Pears School in England and Julliard School. The quartet is dedicated to outreach in various communities, including working with school districts in Chicago and Los Angeles, Center for Abused Children in Harford and Music for Youth Organization in Hartford. Their debut CD, “Dawn to Dusk,” received the 2002 Chamber Music America/WQXR Record. They have performed live on Chicago’s WFMT-FM, New York’s WQXR-FM and WYNC-FM, National Public Radio’s Performance Today, Canada’s CBC, Australia’s ABC, the Ard of Germany and France Musique. Call the Library adult services department at (630) 231-1552, Extension 4 to make reservations.

     The West Chicago Garden Club meeting is Thursday, June 23, 2011 at Faith Community Church, 910 Main Street. Share and social time is at 6:45 p.m., short business meeting at 7:15 p.m. and program at 7:30 p.m. The speaker, Dave Wanniger, discusses hydrangeas.  He is the new director of horticulture at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee. Previously, he was head horticulturist at Beaver Creek Nursery. Also, Wanniger is an instructor in horticulture and landscaping at Blackhawk Technical College in Jamesville, Wisconsin. The meeting is open to the public.

     West Chicago Park District holds “Inflatables in the Park” from 10:00 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 25, 2011 at Reed-Keppler Park. Children must wear socks and be accompanied by a parent. Reservations are not required for this free program.

     West Chicago Sister Cities hosts its second annual Mayfest dinner Saturday, June 25, 2011 at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6791, 431 North Neltnor Boulevard. Social hour begins at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:00 p.m. The menu is garden salad, bratwurst with grilled onions, autumn chicken breast, boiled potatoes, red cabbage, rolls and dessert. Entertainment is provided by Schuhplattler Verein “Edelweiss,” a dance group performing traditional Bavarian folk dances. The group, founded in 1914, is the oldest club (Verein) of this type in North America.

     Ticket price is $15 in advance, $18 at door, $7.50 for children ages three to 12, and free for children age two and under.  Proceeds directly support the 27 guests from sister city Taufkirchen (Vils), Germany, visiting West Chicago from Friday, September 2, through Sunday, September 11, 2011. To reserve tickets, call Melissa Birch at (630) 231-0128 or e-mail

     “Rakow Arts: Works from the Family Room” is the exhibit during the month of July at Gallery 200, 200 Main Street. The display features the diverse, mixed media artwork of John and Mandy Rakow and John’s parents, Jim and Christine. The artists’ reception, which includes light refreshments and musical entertainment, is from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Friday, July 1, 2011.

     Through the West Chicago Park District, the Rules of the Road refresher program is from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at Easton Park, 840 East Washington Street. The office of Illinois Secretary of State sponsors the program. The instructor is Major Wells. Reservations for the free class are due by Tuesday June 28, 2011 and may be made by calling the Park District office at (630) 231-9474.

     The West Chicago Railroad Days Parade steps off at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, July 10, 2011. Due to the construction on Washington Street, the route is changed. It begins on Ann Street by Community High School District 94, north to Conde Street, east on Conde to Wilson Street, over the bridge and west on Main Street, north to McConnell Avenue, east on McConnell to Arbor Avenue and north on Arbor to Reed-Keppler Park.

     To celebrate how many sacrifices our armed services have made to preserve the freedoms we enjoy, the theme is Honor and Sacrifice. The theme fits well with the Community Memorial Service for 9/11 and the DuPage 4 Honor Flight Luncheon Saturday, October 1, 2011 at DuPage Airport. The parade Grand Marshall is Chuck Scheckel, World War II vet and currently chaplain for both American Legion Post 300 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6791.

     For applications and more information, visit website or call the Chamber office at (630) 231-3003.

     Sincere sympathy is expressed to the family of Steve Kimball, who at the age of 63 passed away Sunday, June 12, 2011.

     Deepest condolences are expressed to the family of Albert L. Garbacz, who at the age of 60 passed away Sunday, June 19, 2011.

     The demolition of the old water works facility including all piping and the below ground water storage tank at 128 McConnell Street started Tuesday, June 21, 2011 and is scheduled to be completed in approximately one week. City Council approved the $37,000 cost with Albrecht Enterprises, Inc. at the meeting Monday, April 18, 2011.

     Sally DeFauw, West Chicago City Museum Curator, explained the origins of the building. “The brick building was the pumping station built in 1896. A standpipe and reservoir also were part of this first water system for the Village of West Chicago. The system with five miles of water mains was to be completed July 1, 1896 and tested July 4. However, the standpipe was still under construction in mid-July. Finally by August 21, 1896 the water works were now completed and tested according to the “Wheaton Illinoisan.”

     Again in the attempt to dispel rumors, the demolition is not for the Water Tower on Fremont Street and there are NO plans for this. The city purchased property on Geneva Road and Prince Crossing Road and in Manville Oaks Park, now Kress Creek Farms, to construct two new water towers to meet state requirements and the needs of the community. Construction on the towers will not take place for three to four years.

     On Wednesday, June 15, 2011 a reception was held for Lieutenant Mike Hamlin who is retiring from the West Chicago Fire Protection District, effective June 30, 2011. He has 40 years of service with the district, starting full time March 1, 1976. Hamlin was promoted to the position of Lieutenant in 1980. His father, the late Jim Hamlin, served as first fire chief of the district. As a full time firefighter, Hamlin’s son Scott is the third generation involved in the district. Mike said, “I do not have any definite retirement plans. I just will wait to see what happens and enjoy it for awhile.”

     Beginning and second-year students in English as a Second Language classes at Community High School District 94 studied bullying and ways to stop it. Then they worked in teams to write and illustrate six different and original coloring books with an anti-bullying/tolerance message. Each book featured language and characters appropriate for students in kindergarten through third grade and were written and illustrated in Spanish, Arabic and English. The elementary school students received a coloring book in English and one in their native language. The books were distributed to students in Westwood, River Woods and Main Park apartments and to West Chicago Police Department Resource Centers.  Teachers were Allison Baxter and Mark Poulterer.

     Wayne Lofton Jr. now is Vice President of Marketing and Technology for Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce.

     Members of the City Council passed numerous ordinances and resolutions at the City Council meeting Monday, June 20, 2011.

     One ordinance amended the regulation of the hours of lawn equipment usage. The approved hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Exemptions are lawn maintenance operations on golf courses or publicly owned property, and situations deemed necessary by the city administrator in the event of emergencies. Lawn maintenance equipment, such as leaf blowers, even when used to remove snow, must follow regulation hours for lawn equipment usage.

     Another ordinance involved naming the Purple Coneflower, with formal name of Echinacea purpurea, the official flower of the City of West Chicago. Beginning in March 2011, residents submitted nominations of flowers with a brief statement supporting their choice. From these the chosen selections were peony, daffodil, purple coneflower, petunia and daylily. During Blooming Fest Saturday, May 21, 2011, residents voted for their favorite. The nomination of the coneflower was related to its connection with the West Chicago Prairie.

     One resolution involved a parking enforcement agreement with the City and West Chicago Jules LLC and SEB Palatine II, LLC, owners of a portion of Oliver Square on the northeast corner of Route 59 and Route 64. This allows the West Chicago Police Department to enforce traffic and parking rules within the parking lot.

     Another resolution included an agreement with URS Corporation for Professional Planning Services associated with the West Washington Street area, including a new city hall. Council had budgeted $100,000 for preparation of a conceptual redevelopment plan, which includes a new city hall, park district building, public space and retail development. The project includes soliciting ideas from the City Council, Park District, the residents and other stakeholders. Brad Winick of URS Corporation is familiar with the community and prepared the Grandlake Boulevard Development plan several years ago.

     Another ordinance was the addition of a crime free multi-housing component to the rental-licensing program. There are more than 350 rental properties, ranging from single-family homes to large apartment complexes. This component benefits all rental properties throughout the city, teaming the City with property managers/owners and rental property residents. The on-going program has a three-phase process: manager/owner training, crime prevention through environmental design, and a safety social. Although it is mandatory for properties with 100 or more rental units, the program is open to all rental property owners and managers. One aspect includes the requirement of a crime free lease addendum to the rental contract.  This specifies that the commission of a crime on the property may result in immediate termination of the lease, permitting the property owner to remove problem tenants.

     One of City Council’s priorities was updating the City Code to eliminate ambiguities, antiquated language, correct errors, limit the amount of unnecessary language and address any deficiencies observed. The ordinance passed involves Chapters 1 and 2, which impact nearly all of the standing committees and mostly are minor in nature.  Thus far, the Council has considered modifications to Chapters 3, 4 and 9, and the appendices, plus created an appendix for all of the fees contained within the code.

     Recently elected officers of American Legion Post 300 Auxiliary are Susan Decker, president; Patti Kozlowski, vice president; Melissa Birch, secretary/treasurer; Karen Warkentin, chaplain; and Barb Hensel, membership chairman.

     St. Mary’s Catholic parish received a $12,000 grant from the Retirement Research Foundation for the purpose of helping to fund a nurse working with the elderly poor of West Chicago.  The nurse serves persons attending Feeding Northwest DuPage food pantry and also home visits by the St. Vincent DePaul Society at the parish.

     Former Ward 4 Alderman Gene Wind and his daughter Sandy Hicks recently were in town visiting friends and relatives. Wind continues to show his interest in city government as he attended Coffee with the Mayor, Saturday, June 18, 2011 and the City Council meeting June 20, 2011. A historic moment occurred at the coffee with attendees not only including Wind, but former Mayors Paul Netzel and A. Eugene Rennels and City Treasurer Don Earley, who all were involved in the city politics of yore. Yet although they sometimes disagreed, they all had the goal of improving West Chicago. At the Council meeting Mayor Mike Kwasman invited Wind to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.


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