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Around and About in West Chicago - 19 July 2012

Around and About
              It is amazing to see that in just a little over two weeks, most of the heavy duty-clean up from the severe storm on Sunday, July 1, 2012 is completed. Chain saws and wood chippers still are heard and trucks loaded with branches continue to travel the streets. Joe Kramer, president of Kramer Tree Specialists said, “Our crews worked from early morning to almost dusk. KTS has the contract for the city’s monthly brush pick up and was one of the tree companies the city hired for assistance.”

              Kramer said, “Within two hours our crews were at the police station,” which was the City’s storm command center or “Treeage” Center, as Kramer referred to it. “The police were able to direct us to the important arterial roads which needed to be cleared first.” With all the downed electrical wires, the company also was in frequent contact with ComEd. “We needed to make certain which ones were dead and make certain, they would remain that way.”

              Scheduling Manager Doug Kraft said, “We have 45 persons in field production.” These include crane crew, bucket crew, climbing crew and loading crew.  “It is a multi-step process.” Kramer added, “It is team work. We need to work together in harmony.” All receive extensive training, which is an on-going education. “There always are new techniques and products,” said Kramer.

              Safety is always of the utmost concern. “Broken trees are unstable and unpredictable,” said Kramer.  “They can weigh 6,000 to 8,000 pounds. Much care is needed when trimming branches. “The rootball is heavier than the branches. It can roll over or spring back up as you trim the branches.”

              Kramer said, “The men wear either ballistic chaps or pants for protection.” Kraft explained, “If the chainsaw hits the pants or chaps, the chainsaw automatically stops working.” Kramer added, “A chainsaw can be as lethal as a gun,” stressing one has to be careful when using and obey the safety rules.

              Although there still is work to be done, as of Friday, July 13, 2012, the company collected 18,000 yards of branches, “12,000 of which is from West Chicago,” said Tim Peters, Manager of Mulch Operations. “We also were working in other communities.” The complete total collected is unknown as there were other tree companies, plus landscapers involved in the clean up process. The next step is the creation of mulch with the wood chipper.

              “In the tree business, you have the tree care side and the mulch side, working favorably together. We are constantly monitoring it, keeping the price concept in mind,” said Kramer. Because of the storm, this area is going to be flooded with mulch, added Peters. One can see the large mounds of mulch at the business location. A company “has to transport it within a certain area or lose money,” which includes “ the consideration of trucking costs…four to five miles on a gallon of gas, which adds up quickly.” Not only do other tree companies have too much mulch, so do homeowners. Looking on Facebook or driving by some homes, one sees advertisements for “free mulch here.”

              As Kramer said, “There still is work to be done.” He suggested, “If your trees suffered some loss, it probably would be a good idea to have an arborist check for further damage, get an assessment.”

              West Chicago Public Works Director Rob Flatter said, Phil Graf of Graf Tree Care “did an assessment of trees at Glen Oaks Cemetery. “There are 60 trees there. Some were felled in the storm. After assessing the damage  to the other trees, we will lose 20 of the trees.” Staff is still “addressing the loss of trees on City properties and parkways. It looks like the number will be around 400.” Before all work related to the storm, which includes stump removal and tree replacement, it “will be at least a year.”  And what about cost? As of Sunday, July 15, 2012, City Administrator Michael Guttman said, “Based upon what we know to date, the City of West Chicago will spend $500,000 directly for the cost to the storm.”

              West Chicago Park District Director Gary Major said, “The cost of the storm is $150,000 for Reed-Keppler Park, and another $150,000 for buildings and other parks in the district.” District Superintendent of Parks Jesse Felix said, “ I do not have the exact number of trees lost. I can better determine the count after I look at the tree inventory Phil (Graf) did and we continue to assess the damaged trees.”  He added, “We were fortunate to receive help from other park district crews and the assistance from Graf.”

              The total loss of trees in the area is unknown. Kramer said,  “I think it is more than a thousand as we have no actual count of the number of trees residents in this area lost on their properties.” As far as residents replacing trees, it probably would be best not to rush into this right away. He said, “Even if you know you will faithfully water your tree, you do not know how well the nursery had been watering the roots.”  As I look around and consider how many trees were lost, I notice how many trees still grace our community.

              There still is time to have fun at the West Chicago Public Library lawn parties. The remaining ones take place from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Wednesdays, July 18 and 25, 2012 on the Library lawn, 118 West Washington Street. Games include Frisbee, bocce ball, badminton, beanbags and horseshoes. Reservations are not necessary; just drop by.

              The Last Blast Tournament, organized by West Chicago Travel Wildcats baseball organization, is from Thursday, July 19, through Sunday, July 22, 2012 in Reed-Keppler Park. Twenty-four teams are participating.

              The West Chicago Public Library District hosts “Storytime at Cantigny” from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, July 19, 2012 in Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road. The event includes the reading of favorite stories and activities. Persons must pick up tickets prior to the event in the youth services department, 118 West Washington Street. This entitles the registrant to free parking for the day. For further information, call the Library at (630) 231-1552, extension 3.

              The West Chicago Public Library “Cooking Around the World” program is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19, 2012 in the meeting room, 118 West Washington Street. Chef Daniel Hersovic demonstrates Latin American cuisine with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and authentic flavors. To make a reservation, call the adult services department at (630) 231-1552, extension 4.

              Wayne/Winfield Area Youth/Family Services intergenerational social is at 1:00 p.m. Friday, July 20, 2012 at the Wayne Township building, 27W031 North Avenue. Senior citizens and youths in WAYS summer camp play card games, board games and other games, teaching each other the games popular with their generations.  Light refreshments are served. For further information, call WAYS at (630) 231-7166.

              Local Music Night is at 7:00 p.m. Friday, July 20, 2012 at Gallery 200/STUDIO, 203 Turner Court. Entertainers are Roger Kotecki, Cassandra Vohs-Demann and Wacky Keys.

              Kotecki is a vocalist and guitar player, whose performance includes an eclectic mix of music.

              Vohs-Demann builds her music on the tradition of Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow, but is uniquely her own. Her songs focus on love, loss, self-reflection, healing and dreams.

              Wacky Keys is a three-piece Hawaiian band, but also plays a variety of other exotic music. They were part of the entertainment during Blooming Fest 2012.

              Open mic is at 8:30 p.m. Refreshments are served. There is no charge, but donations are welcome.

              St. Mary’s Parish hosts a blood drive for Heartland Blood Centers from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday, July 21, 2012 in a mobile unit in front of the church, 140 North Oakwood Avenue. To be a blood donor, individuals must be at least 17 years old or 16 with parental permission, weigh at least 110 pounds, symptom free of cold, flu and allergies, and in general good health. Donors must provide a photo ID.  All donors receive a certificate for a quart of Oberweis ice cream. Reservations are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome. Call the church at (630) 231-0013 to make a reservation.

              St. Mary’s Parish hosts the 2012 webcast series of Reverend Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, who is internationally renowned as an inspirational speaker and writer. The second webcast is at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, July 21, 2012 at in the parish center, 147 North Oakwood Avenue. The topic is “Lineage: Fr. Richard’s Seven Spiritual Themes.” The cost is $5 per person, which includes a continental breakfast. To make a reservation, call (630) 231-0805.

              An encore performance of “Godspell,” the musical production performed at First United Methodist Church June 9, 2012 is Saturday, July 21, 2012 at Faith Community Church, 910 Main Street.  A barbeque is at 6:00 p.m. followed by the performance at 7:00 p.m. Members of the Methodist Church and the community are performers in the production.

              Soloists in “Godspell” are Shannon Thompson, Jerry Juzwiak, Gary Chezem, Christy Scott, Todd Zorn, and Christina Howard and Louie Boers, Community High School District 94 graduate and recipient of the National Choral Award for 2012. Singing the trio are Christy Scott, Christine Moore, and Lana Runyan. In the chorus there are 28 people, who are from West Chicago, Winfield, Wheaton, Aurora and Lombard. Band members are pianist Patty Nelson, guitarist Alan Garcia, electric bass player T. J. Hahs and drummer/percussionist Luke Smith. Ron Benner is the director. Thompson also is the choreographer. Catherine Chezem manages the overhead and sound projection.

              “Godspell” is a musical by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak. It is based on the series of parables in the Gospel of Matthew. These are interspersed with a variety of modern music, which includes pop, folk, rock, gospel and vaudeville. “Godspell” opened off Broadway May 17, 1971. The first Broadway production was June 22, 1976 at the Broadhurst Theater. The new Broadway Revival began in 2011 and the production is in an open-ended run.

              The charge is a good will donation. Reservations are not required. This is a fund-raising event for Ron and Margie Sanford who are in leadership with To Every Tribe. Ron previously was the pastor at Faith Community Church. To Every Tribe’s mission is to plant churches for the unreached people groups within the interior regions of Papua New Guinea and Mexico.

              “Christmas in July” is the theme Saturday, July 22, 2012 at Turtle Splash Water Park. Activities taking place among the holiday decorations are games, snowman designing contest, photographs and other surprises.

              The West Chicago Park District Community Theater 2012 summer production is “Honk.” Performances are at 7:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 26 and 27, and at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, July 28, 2012 in the Fine Arts building at Wheaton Academy, 900 Prince Crossing Road. Based on the children’s story “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Anderson, this family musical tells the story of the little duckling that is not quite like the others. On the journey to find himself, he discovers it is not what is on the outside that counts, but that every ugly duckling can grow up to be a beautiful swan.  The book and lyrics are by Anthony Drewe. The music is by George Stile. “Honk” was the winner of the 2000 Olivier Award for Best Musical, which is the British equivalent of the Tony Award.

              The producer is Chelsea McKone and the director is Jamee Kenney. Music director is Megan Green and the choreographer is Corinne Reggio. Stage manager is Caitlin Kiel.

              Tickets purchased in advance cost $7 and are available at the Park District office, 157 West Washington Street. Tickets purchased at the door cost $10. For further information call the Park District at (630) 231-9474.

              The Garden Conservancy Open Garden Day is from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday, July 29, 2012 at the Gardens at Ball Horticultural Company, 622 Town Road. The gardens are usually reserved for the company’s wholesale customers. Thousands of annual, perennial and shrub varieties are showcased in the main gardens along with flowers and vegetables in the All-America Selections evaluation trials. Additional native plantings are in the wetlands and woodlands restoration areas. Guides are available. Persons should plan to spend at least two hours to view the extensive gardens. All in all, there are more than 10 acres to view. The charge is $5 per person and is payable at the main garden entrance.

              The West Chicago Park District plans to put the question of building a community center on the ballot in the General Election Tuesday, November 6, 2012. However, there are some changes from the original question on the March 20, 2012 ballot. The vote in that election was 1,995 yes votes and 2,274 no votes

              New plan! New location! New price! Park District Director Gary Major explained the board of commissioners listened closely to the comments of voters. “Based on the comments, we were able to change the plans and decrease the size, which cuts the cost from $19 million to $15 million.” This reduces the tax increase from $85 to $65 for the owner of a $250,000 home. The new location is Reed-Keppler Park, “near Reed’s Place,” which is the old maintenance building. Reed-Keppler is the premier park and “embraces the spirit of West Chicago.”

              The board of commissioners makes the final decision regarding the referendum at the August 14, 2012 meeting.

              Sincere sympathy is expressed to the family of Dorothy M. Britton, who at the age of 85 recently passed away.

              Deepest sympathy is extended to the family of Linda J. Hughes, who at the age of 71 passed away Wednesday, July 12, 2012.

              Sincere sympathy is expressed to the family of Ted Risch, who at the age of 88 died Friday, July 13, 2012.

              As extremely hot weather continues, I want to remind you there are two West Chicago dedicated cooling center sites available during their regular business hours. These are the West Chicago Public Library District building, 118 West Washington Street, and the Wayne Township senior center in the township building, 27W031 North Avenue.

              Reed-Keppler Park lost many trees, especially red oaks, in the severe storm Sunday, July 1, 2012. The Friends of West Chicago Parks Foundation is spearheading a grass roots effort to replace the trees. Funds raised are for the purchase of oak trees. Park Director Gary Major said the cost of each oak tree is $500. Donations of any amount of money are welcome. The West Chicago Lions Club recently donated $1,000. Forms are available at the Park District office, 157 West Washington Street or on line at For further information call Major at (630) 231-9474, extension 107 or email

              The West Chicago Rotary Club held its Installation Dinner Wednesday, June 27, 2012. New officers are Melody Coleman, president, Mary Ann Manna, vice president, Maggie Burnitz, secretary and Wayne Kuntze, treasurer. Dr. Richard Smith received past president plaque. Receiving a plaque honoring him for his 40 years as a Rotary Club member was Welton (Jake) Warkentin. During this time period, he had perfect attendance. He served as secretary since 1987, a total of 25 years.

              The West Chicago Sharks made the news on WGEM-TV in Quincy Saturday, July 7, 2012. The news segment highlighted the Sharks participation all 18 years of the Titan Firecracker Classic. This meet is the team’s only outdoor meet of the summer.

              Governor Pat Quinn signed a measure into law Senate Bill 2837, sponsored by State representative Mike Fortner (R-95), that places a special designation on Illinois drivers’ licenses identifying veterans status. Fortner said, “Veterans are eligible for many vital services through local, state and federal government. Typically discharge papers are used to prove veteran status” Rather than having to carry their papers, veterans can show their license to prove eligibility for services. The law becomes effective July 1, 2015.

              Hunting for a unique railroad-related gift for a special occasion? The Friends of the West Chicago City Museum 2011 historic ornament featuring the West Chicago Roundhouse is available at the City Museum, 132 Main Street. It depicts the Chicago & North Western Railroad roundhouse built in 1869. Steam locomotives were placed on the revolving 70-foot round steel turntable and backed into one of the 13 engine stalls. It was one large complex of buildings assembled for the repair and refueling of trains. In 1953, a fire destroyed the structure. The cost for the ornament is $8. For further information, call the Museum at (630) 231-3376.

              Persons who had storm related damage to their homes or businesses may be eligible for a program offered through the state treasurer’s office. The program offers disaster recovery loans that have a maximum interest rate of three percent and can be repaid in a period up to five years.  The disaster recovery loans can help pay for repairs not covered by insurance or help handle immediate costs until insurance payments are received.

              The treasurer’s office deposits funds into eligible banks to bring down the interest rates and keep the loans affordable. To apply for the loan use the online application at or call the recovery hotline at (866) 523-0641. Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he wanted every victim of this storm, referring to the one on Sunday, July 1, 2012, to know what help is available.

              Members of First United Methodist Church of West Chicago have collected 743 new and used pairs of shoes towards their goal of 5,000 for the Shoeman Project. They hope to meet this goal by May 2013, a year from the start of the campaign. The project has two parts.

              The shoes are sold to exporters, who in turn, sell them at discounted rates to help create micro-businesses in communities where no trade exists. These businesses then sell the shoes to persons who need foot protection from diseases and parasites.

              With the money from the exporters, the Shoeman Water Project buys drilling rigs and water purification systems for poor countries such as Haiti and Kenya.

              Persons with shoes to donate can put them in the Groot garbage bins at the front entrances of the church. This is a great way to dispose of shoes unsold at garage sales. For further information, call the church office at (630) 231-3144.

              The results are finalized for the fourth annual Wellness Walk in West Chicago Elementary School District 33, sponsored by WeGo Together for Kids. The goal was 24,901 miles, a virtual walk around the world. At the end of the day, April 27, 2012, the miles tallied were 24,472. Through physical activity logs in May, the accrued miles totaled 24,659, “just short of our goal,” said Marjory Lewe-Brady, WeGo Together for Kids Director for Wellness, Safety and Achievement.  “We had 684 student earn a family one-day pass to Turtle Splash Water Park.” Students had to complete the May activity log to earn a pass.

              Even with the cancellation of the fireworks show, Railroad Days 2012 remained on the fast track. Carnival rides provided the thrills and the car show, magic and a wide genre of music delivered entertainment on a large scale.

              Saturday there were 77 participants in the Railroad Days 5K Run/Walk, organized by the West Chicago Park District. Athletic Supervisor Joe Urban said, “This is the most participants we have had in four years. A very nice small town event.” Overall winner was West Chicago resident Francesco Arato. Although most of the entrants were from West Chicago, there was one from Danville, Kentucky.

              The hot, muggy weather did not deter the enthusiasm of either the parade participants or the spectators. Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Dave Sabathne said, “We always give water to the parade participants. This year we used 14 cases.”

              Winning the Grand Marshall Award was the Friends of the West Chicago City Museum for its float best depicting the theme of the parade, “Pearls of Our Community.” Highlighting the West Chicago City Museum, West Chicago Public Library district and the West Chicago Historical Society Kruse House Museum, the “float displayed three exceptional entities in the true spirit of West Chicago and its diversity,” commented the judges.

              The West Chicago Lions Club won the Turner Award, which is for the business or organization depicting its purpose or service. “With members all wearing vests, they presented a united and community front. Also they went out of their way to be upbeat and cheerful.”

              Winning the Heritage Award for the youth groups displaying its purpose, enthusiasm and spirit was the Community High School District 94 Pom Pom Squad.  “They all were smiling and full of youthful energy.” The judges agreed all the youth groups displayed enthusiasm.

              The fireworks show most likely will be rescheduled, but there is no date at this time.

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