After the U.S Army garrison at Ft. Sumter surrendered to Confederate attackers on April 13, 1861, a wave of patriotic fervor swept across the United States. Men everywhere scrambled to get their names on enlistment rolls and to pitch in to save the Union. In McHenry County meetings were held in most communities and military companies were organized. The first of these units that were accepted from our county came from Algonquin, Woodstock, and the Marengo – Union area, and were eventually formed into the 15th Illinois Infantry Regiment with other companies recruited in Illinois’ First Congressional District.

In the early months of the war people felt compelled to act and didn’t give too much thought to the consequences of their actions. For example, when these military companies were formed under the state’s authority there was no concrete time of service defined. Some men thought that they were enlisting for 30 days; others thought that their obligation was for three months, while others believed that they were enlisting for the duration of the war. Yet, they enlisted and were surprised later. Another consequence that wasn’t fully grasped is the fact that some soldiers would never return home. This consequence became apparent to the citizens of the Marengo very early in the war.

During a recent trip to Panama we visited Boquete, a major agricultural region of the country. Most of Panama’s vegetables and all the coffee is grown around the Boquete region. Thirty microclimates and year-round temperatures between 60 degrees and the low 80’s makes it feels like spring every day.

We were drawn to the local Tuesday Farmer’s market which featured a bounty of vegetables, coffee, local honey and other treasures. It was there that we met the owner of Finca (farm) Feliz, Lynne Van de Kar, and received an invitation to visit.

For sixteen years, Logan Vallee waited for a heart transplant. Born with what is often referred to as half a heart, Vallee was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The left side of his heart simply did not develop. Before he was two years old, Vallee braved three surgeries, a stroke, respiratory distress, and renal failure and a stroke. Recovery was slow and medications, including Coumadin became part of his daily routine. With the help of home health nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, Vallee gained ground, but aneurisms developed and grew. By the time he was five years old, Vallee faced his fourth surgery. During this surgery, the neo-aorta was replaced. This surgery had only been done eight times in the world, with only three children surviving. Months later, doctors installed a pacemaker. Valley underwent another surgery at eight years, followed by repeated open heart surgeries, revision to his pacemaker, and cardiac catheterizations. Complications like seizures and embolic strokes required an average of five hospitalizations each year.

On March 14, after four weeks of hospitalization at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Vallee received a heart transplant. Four days later, doctors had him walking, and sitting in a chair. He expects to be in the hospital for six to eight weeks.

The Vallee family have lived in Marengo for the past twenty years. Friends, business, and community organizations rallied around the family, creating fundraisers and lending physical and emotional support for the family. Stacy Skow, one of the family friends, organized a fundraiser through www., where the sale of #Team- Logan T-shirts “help with all heart transplant related costs.” Donations to Vallee can be made at https://cota. COTAfor- TeamLoganV/. Many fundraisers organized by friends, business, and other people who care are registered at this site.

In June of 2012 John and Dana Vavalle founded "Cesco's Heart.” In honor of their son, Francesco, who died from complications due to hypoplastic left heart syndrome. They are a non-for profit organization, and 100% of our proceeds go to Advocate Children's Hospital in Oaklawn, IL. The funds go specifically to support the research and advanced treatments for pediatric cardiology. Cesco’s Heart is an official philanthropic organization for Advocate Children's Hospital as well as members of their President's Society. The Vallee family is a part of Cesco’s Heart’s "heart family/" The two families met when both boys were being treated at Advocate Children's Hospital. Donation to Cesco’s Heart will help offset the costs associated with Vallee’s transplant. Go to for more information. According to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association donor page, the anticipated transplant-related costs are $100,000.

After leaving the Lurie, Vallee will be at Ronald Mc- Donald House for follow-up care and to monitor the surgery for signs of rejection.


The American Legion Post in Marengo honored long-standing members for their years of service during their March meeting on Monday, March 20. Frank Nickels and August Noce are the most senior members with 70 years of service.

August Noce will be 100 in August. He became a sergeant in the army and served in the motor pool while he was stationed in England during World War II. Trucks were shipped to England in boxes and assembled there. Five days after D-Day, the motor pool from England accompanied the assembled trucks off the ship delivering them to France to support the D-Day troops.

April, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the tornado that struck Belvidere, IL. At that time, Marengo resident Dorothy Johnson whose family owned and operated the Tastee Freez wrote this amazing memoir we are printing here:

Well, it really started out like a normal week in Marengo.

We opened the Tastee Freez on a Wednesday afternoon, April 19th, at about 2 P.M. Business was real good. It seemed quite normal, being back to work. Thursday was a pretty normal day, too, and it was sorta good seeing all the school kids again. Then came Friday and all pretense of normal was shot!

Alfonso Graceffa 1918—2017

Alfonso "Al Grace" Graceffa, 98 of Rockford, passed away on Monday, April 3, 2017. Born December 4, 1918 in Aragona, Sicily, the son of Louis & Rosalia Graceffa. He lived most of his life in Rockford, coming here from Sicily. Al married Marie Kronaizl in Rockford on September 28, 1947. She predeceased him in 2004. He owned Al Grace Appliance since 1962. He was a veteran of WWII serving in the United States Army. He was first stationed at Camp Grant, where he did basic training and played the bugle. He then transferred to Ft. Louis Washington, where he was the leader of the USO Medical Division – entertaining the troops returning from the Pacific. Al was a member of Holy Family Church. He was leader of Al Grace and his Orchestra, playing before and after the war, until 1960. He played high school dances and weddings, among other events. Special thanks to Transitions Hospice and East Bank Rehabilitation Center for their loving care. Survivors include: children Lou (Joan) Graceffa, Sue (Brad) Born, Randy Graceffa; grandchildren Erica (Jason) Butz, Aaron, Graceffa, Casey (Matt) Lepley, Derek (Sheri) Born; and 7 great-grandchildren. - See more at: http:// rrstar/obituary.aspx?n=alfonso- graceffa&pid=184820105&fhid= 24711#sthash.iUDldfgO. dpuf

10. Kéanu’s Moon is the first original play that Christian Arts Student Theater (CAST) has ever performed. It was written by the director and myself in the summer of 2016 and can not wait to share it with our community…then the world!!! Hamilton who, is what they will be saying on Broadway! LOL 9. Kéanu is a young sea turtle living in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii. She has an eclectic group of friends from twin Sea Lions to a Sting Ray. Each character is vividly written and played by equally amazing local children ages 5-18. Some are long term veterans, some this is their first show! 8. There are two original songs that were created for the show: Aloha Lullaby and Beautiful Moonbeam, with music written by Suzie Schwartz, local musician. It will be so magical to hear a Hawaiian Lullaby played by and sung by the soon to be famous Raina/Raina duet from Marengo. 7. There is an emphasis on sharing some of the environmental issues in the ocean and the effects it can cause. This play wants to make the audience not only enjoy a trip to the deep blue, but bring awareness in how you can help protect this treasured ecosystem. 6. Ever hear of the Night Marchers or Pele’ the Goddess of Fire? The Great Honu has for sure. A VERY old and wise turtle spends his time teaching the younger generations about Hawaiian legends…in his own unique way. He is kind of a legend himself. 5. Have you ever wanted to go to really fun beach party? This is your chance. Come to the Bizarre Sandbar and quench your thirst with a coconut smoothie and shake your tail feather…yes tail feather!! Kéanu has friends who live on the land too, and they are quite a bunch of party animals. 4. Fun in the sun, underwater adventures, could there be more? Danger and drama finds its way into this story where Domino the biggest and meanest Killer Whale joins the show. He hasn’t been in such a great mood, but maybe he will win some cash at the Big Races and ease up on his mean streak. 3. Surfing, did you think we could be in the Pacific Ocean without surfing? Kawai and Neville live and breathe to catch the wave that makes them the best of the best. They have hearts of gold, but once they catch that salt water fever, it is hang 10 or nothing. 2. Have you ever been the “new kid in school?” Sheldon is the new kid and lucky for him he gets to sit next to Kéanu on his first day…he will never be the same and witness friendship can really mean. 1. Mrs. Chubbe’ (Choo-bae) a teacher who’s 10 years’ overdue for retirement. Call her Mrs. Chubby on accident and your headed to see Mr. Thomas, the principal. Mr. Thomas is also new to the school and still learning the ropes of how to balance his old days as class clown into a strict principal. Lucky for all of us, these two have a love/hate relationship and eventually find a way to run the school smoothly…don’t kid yourself, it takes a while to work out the kinks. Come see for yourself!

The warmer weather is approaching; the grass will soon start to turn green, the trees will start to bud and the sounds of birds will be heard throughout the neighborhood. The warmer weather also brings with it some unpleasantness, burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles. There are several things that can be done in order to help prevent you from becoming a victim of one of these crimes.

Burglary to motor vehicles is a crime of opportunity that mainly takes place late in the evening or early in the morning. The typical burglar doesn’t like to work hard if they don’t have to, they seek easy targets. One, being unlocked motor vehicles and two, being vehicles with the windows partially down or the sun roof open. The typical items that burglars like to take from vehicles are:

1. Loose change

2. Cigarettes

3. Mobile phones

4. Tools

5. Compact Disk

6. Purses, Wallets

7. Laptops

8. GPS Devices

9. Radar Detectors

10. Brief Cases

There are several things you can do to help yourself from becoming a victim to one of these types of crimes.

1. Lock your vehicle

2. Park in the garage if you have one

3. Make sure your windows are all the way up

4. Close your sun roof

5. Install an alarm system

6. Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle

7. Leave your outside lights on at night

Keeping your outside lights on or having a motion sensor on your lights can help prevent would be criminals from breaking into your vehicle. If you use a GPS device that needs a suction cup that mounts on the window, make sure you wipe down the area on the window when you remove your device. Burglars look for the marks left on the window to determine if you may have one of these devices. Even if they don’t see the device itself, they know there is a possibility it could be in your vehicle. Never ever leave your spare set of keys in the car. In the past, we have had several vehicles stolen after the burglar found keys inside the vehicle. Once in a while we get what is called a smash and grab. A smash and grab is when the burglar finds the vehicle doors locked, sees something of value in the vehicle and breaks the window in order to get to what they want; so again if there is nothing for them to see, they won’t waste there time breaking the window and will look for an easier target.

No one likes to be a victim of a crime, but if you should become one, notify the police as soon as possible. If the crime is not in progress call the non-emergency number, if the crime is in progress call 911. Don’t go out and confront the burglar, this could put you in a position of danger. Most burglary to motor vehicles are reported when people wake up and are heading to work, if you hear or see anything suspicious in the late evening or early morning hours, please give us a call and we will come and check it out. Don’t touch your vehicle as potential evidence can be lost. After the police process the vehicle, go through it and provide the police with a list of everything that was taken from the vehicle.

On a lighter note, Marengo is in the top twenty safest cities to live in America for a population of its size.

This is Tornado season - which means you will be hearing the area sirens being tested on Tuesday mornings at 10 AM. Now is a good time to have the family discussion on what to do in the event of severe weather. It is important that everyone is aware of the weather and that everyone has an action plan, including contact info and where to go in the event you are affected.

Thunderstorms or tornadoes - which are nature’s most violent storms - can happen at any time of the day, can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds - so please be prepared - you can find guidelines for an action plan on the McHenry County web site - and there will be links to this info on site as well!

A Tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 200 plus miles per hour. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds hide others. Tornadoes may develop rapidly, so that little, if any, advance warning is possible - the fastest way to alert an area is thru the sirens. - A problem that is becoming more frequent is that smart phone apps will provide alerts that cover a much broader area. Unfortunately many times this alert covers areas far from our area. This causes confusion and unnecessary anxiety on social media, as well as phone calls to 911. Misleading weather alerts also cause people to ignore real alerts as false or misleading, and can be a grave mistake during a real storm.

Please take alerts seriously. If your smart phone sends a severe weather alert - look for further information, or look at the weather - always listen for the sirens - if the sirens do sound, it is because it has been determined that a real threat is in our area.

I want to thank everyone that came out to support the Union Lions Club pancake breakfasts, held this past month. These were well attended and will support area scholarships, and provide support for the Caskey family of Marengo. The Union Fire Dept received many compliments from the community on providing such a great location for these breakfasts. The Lions Club plans on scheduling more pancake breakfasts in the future!

Union Fire Department is happy to announce that Tim Camp has been promoted from Lieutenant to Assistant Chief of Union Fire Dept. Tim Camp has operated his business, Frontier Ponds in Union since 1997, and has been a member of the Union Fire Department since 2009. Tim has and continues to train members of our Department. He will be involved with training as well as acting as liaison with other neighboring Fire Departments. Please congratulate Tim Camp on his achievements. We are all so proud of him!

As always the Union Fire Fighters will be out training on Tuesday nights, feel free to watch us in action, and we are always available to answer questions!

Stay Safe!

Spring has Sprung and there are a lot of exciting things happening at the Marengo Fire/ Rescue Districts. Chief Bradbury and I were fortunate to be invited to speak with the Women’s club about home and fire safety. After speaking with them, they were kind enough to present us with a check to use towards purchasing an automatic CPR machine. These machines are very expensive and we greatly appreciate the donation. Donations of these types assist us in making purchases that would not be possible through our current budget.

We are also happy to announce that the two ambulances we purchased have been delivered and are now in service. The 911 ambulance was the third purchased over the past several years and completes the transition of updating our fleet. This transition ensures that the paramedics and the citizens are getting the quality equipment and service they deserve. These ambulances are outfitted with the most up to date equipment and supplies. The second ambulance was purchased to be utilized in our non-emergency transport program. This program provides citizens with a means of transport to doctors’ visits, surgery, dialysis appointments, and other medical visits. If you or someone you know is in need of this kind of service, please contact us to receive information on how to qualify for this service.

We are also expecting the delivery of our new engine purchase by the fire district this month. The new engine will be replacing our current reserve engine that was purchased used from the Long Grove fire department in the early 2000’s. The current front line engine will be moved into Marengo Fire & Rescue By John Kimmel reserve status after 17 years of service. The new engine should be in service by the middle of May.

Our current fire academy is going well. All the new apprentices are very enthusiastic and learning a lot. We are always looking for new and potential members. If you are interested in what it takes to become a member we recommend stopping by the station to speak with one of our members. We also offer a program from ages 14-21 as ride-along. This program was designed to allow potential members to ride with us as observers in order gain experience and decide if this is the appropriate career choice prior to beginning classes. If you have student that is looking at emergency services or know someone who is please contact us and we will be happy provide you with the information needed about the ride along program.


Pondering the Past, Tales Lost in Time: Death of a Civil War Soldier

Pondering the Past, Tales Lost in Time: Death of a…

After the U.S Army garrison at Ft. Sumter surrendered to Confederate attackers on April 13, 1861, a wave of patriotic fervor swept...

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A Gardening Experience in Panama

A Gardening Experience in Panama

During a recent trip to Panama we visited Boquete, a major agricultural region of the country. Most of Panama’s vegetables and all...

Read more

Marengo teen receives a new heart

For sixteen years, Logan Vallee waited for a heart transplant. Born with what is often referred to as half a heart, Vallee...

Read more