Crash Near Union Takes One Life

A 27-year old Rockford woman was killed and a 24-year old Marengo man was injured in a traffic crash involving two vehicles in unincorporated Union in the 17000 block of Route 176. Members of the Marengo-Union Fire Protection District, and the McHenry County Sheriff ’s Office responded at 10:03 p.m. to the scene of a crash.

According to a sheriff ’s department statement, “The preliminary investigation indicated that a 2005 Honda Civic was traveling westbound on Route 176, and veered…into the oncoming lane of traffic, where it collided with an eastbound 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The female driver of the Honda was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:46 p.m., while the male driver of the Jeep was transported by the Marengo Rescue to Centegra Huntley Hospital. He was later transported to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he remain(ed) in critical but stable condition.”

McHenry County Coroner, Dr. Anne Majewski said, “The deceased is identified to be Sarah E. Wells, of Rockford. An autopsy performed Jan. 19 revealed that she died from blunt trauma to the head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis. The crash remains under investigation by the McHenry County Sheriff ’s Department Accident Investigation Unit. The condition of the drivers of other vehicle is not known by my office.”

Marengo district battalion chief John Kimmel said, “No toxicology results have been returned, and at this point, there is no known cause for the accident. They had mentioned possible cell phone use, but the accident is still under investigation.”

Settlement Discussions Continue On Fraternite Order Lawsuit

A Jan. 17 hearing before a magistrate judge presiding over the lawsuit filed by the Fraternite Order of Notre Dame against the McHenry County Board has resulted in the negotiations toward a settlement being continued. The Order had filed a petition for a special use permit to build a winery, brewery, assisted living and nursing facility, a boarding school, and several other endeavors.

Several hearings before the county’s Zoning and Planning Appeals Committee were controversial and ended with no recommendation in forwarding the matter to the full county board for a determination. The county board voted to deny the special use permit, and subsequently, the Order entered litigation citing an aberration of its constitutional rights, and similar businesses in the proximal vicinity.

“The bakery is already on the property and has been operating throughout this time, from the initial filing,” said James C. Geoly, the Order’s representing attorney. “The sisters have not commenced construction on any of the requested projects, since their request for a permit was denied, thereby resulting in the pending lawsuit.”

 City Council Hears Presentations For Treatment Plant Engineering Services

The Marengo City Council will audit presentations, during a Jan. 29 special meeting, from firms that have submitted their qualifications for potentially being selected for engineering services at the municipality’s Wastewater Treatment Facility.

“We received qualification submissions from thirteen firms, and we will be interviewing four of them,” said Marengo city Manager Josh Blakemore. “The selection will be providing engineering services, and an early priority is focusing on the capital improvement plan for the plant and the collection system.”

Blakemore said the four firms that will be considered are: St. Charles-based Trotter and Associates, Madison, WIbased Strand and Associates, Machesney Park-based McMahon and Associates, and Rockford-based Fehr Graham Engineering and Environmental.

The council had formally authorized a $12,149 emergency expenditure, during its Jan. 22 session, for a new centrifuge rotating assembly, and bearing replacement, at the plant. The Kenoshabased firm of Centrisys Centrifuge Systems, Inc. made an on-site inspection after excessive vibrations were detected from the rotating scroll, which was subsequently taken out of operation and delivered to the company.

This year’s Toys for Tots toys were collected by several volunteers. Three pickup trucks and two SUV loads of toys were delivered to Colleen Helfers farm in Marengo before they were sorted and delivered to the MORE Center. Left to right: Tom Anderson, Larry Dochterman, Marine Colleen Helfers, Gene Boxleitner, and Marine Pete Steiger.

Students in the Riley School runners group participated in the 5K Dasher Dash race in Rockford on Saturday, November 25th.

Tristan Allen, Leila Becovic, EB Becovic, Jayna Biewer, Alexis Boorsma, Mia Brackmann, Elayna Goode, Julian Grimaldo, Rachel Grismer, Ryan Grismer, Katie Hanson, Maggie Hanson, Alexia Hasselman, Pablo Herrera, Andrew Johnson, Alex Johnson, Megan Kaczkos, Hannah Langton, Adele Kane, Brady Kentgen, Dane Kowalski, Hope Kowalski, Perla Lopez, Ava Maniates, Evan Maniates, Jr., Yvonne Maniates, Coach Connie Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Parker Weadge, Charlotte Mears, Andrew Millard, Braden Minard, Drew Palanos, Brooke Pribyl, Arianna Rodriquez, Emily Gomez, Karen Schnable, Autumn Schueler, Lauren Snelgrove, Jonathan Snelgrove, Ashley Spilotro, Garbriela Tierney, Lillith Townshend, Sam Tucker, Anthony Muscolino

“I never thought I’d be anything but a teacher,” said Pat Lawlor, founder of HyperStitch. “I was a junior high school teacher for 21 years, 14 of them in Huntley. One day my red pen ran dry and I knew it was time for a change.”

Pat and her husband Patrick Lawlor kicked around ideas for a second career option, investigating certain franchise opportunities, and other options. After a year (1995-96) of researching and planning, they bought their first embroidery machine, and Pat went to work in her family room.

After three years in the Lawlor home, HyperStitch moved into the lower level of Prairie St, adding screen-printing in 2000, as well as more employees. Vinyl and sublimation are other added techniques, and by the summer of 2005, HyperStitch expanded into the entire building at their current location.

“One day Sarah White came in to buy a t-shirt for her husband,” Lawlor said. “I was on the sales floor that day and we ended up talking for 20 minutes. We had already decided to sell HyperStitch but had not found anyone. Sarah’s kids are all in school now and she needed a job. She was working as a teacher at MCC.

“Three days later I woke up and thought, ‘Wouldn’t that lady be perfect?’ Since she had ordered a t-shirt, I had her phone number. An hour later, we had an agreement. It’s perfect because she is from Marengo. She is buying the business but not the building so she is not limited to that location. We will be signing the papers on Jan. 5 at Prairie Bank. It turns out we use the same bank. Marengo is a small town. When she expands, she will probably stay in Marengo.

“”We have had over 90 employees in the last 20 years. Everything we do is custom ordered. It takes all those hands to get it right. We help each other out. If we see embroidery being done, we can say, ‘That’s the wrong shade of blue’ and quickly get it corrected. Those employees are very special to me, all together we make it work. I still have customers come and say, ‘I remember when you worked out of your family room.’

“We belong to six Chambers of Commerce. We concentrate on businesses. They make up 65% of our business but we also do a lot of non-profits such as churches, schools, scouts, charities, and sports leagues.”

“I will be spending my time volunteering for causes close to my heart that I haven’t had time for such as the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County. I also have a kayak which I am looking forward to using more often.” “My husband coaches softball and I was a customer of HyperStitch,” said Sara White. “I came in to buy a t-shirt for my husband and Pat and I started talking. It was just good timing. Three days later she called and asked if I wanted to buy the business.

“I have been teaching at McHenry County College for 10 years. I have an MBA in management. I have been teaching other people how to run a business although I, myself, have never run one. Pat thought it was a good fit. She was also a teacher. Plus, I’m about the same age she was when she started HyperStitch.

“For the first year, I plan to hold steady. I have a one-year lease on the building. I cannot do any more with the current space. There is no place to even put in another screen-printing machine. I’d like more space for display. We could expand on our offerings if we had the space. I’m looking to move to another location in Marengo with better exposure, more foot traffic, and room to expand.

“We have been in Marengo for eight years. I am excited to become more active within a community that’s been good to me

Whenever a new year rolls around, the sense of rebirth and a clean slate is always palpable in leaving behind the past to move forward. The 2017 calendar had enough memories for all, although the chain of events during the month of June in the city of Marengo was the stuff of mass impact for the community. And the coming July floods weren’t even in the mix.

The Marengo Fire Protection District was dispatched to fight two major blazes at commercial and residential sites; the county state’s attorney’s office announced charges against a 16-year old that threatened a city officer with a firearm; an armed robbery occurred at the Marengo Community Pharmacy; and the high school girls’ softball team took first place in the June 10 IHSA Class 3A state championships.

On June 11, at approximately 4:50 a.m., the 500 block of 7th Circle was convulsed by an explosion, traced to a gas leak, which destroyed two homes, set four others afire, rendered nineteen residences uninhabitable, and damaged more than fifty homes in the area. Neighbors braved the resulting chaos and helped save two people that were later treated for burns and minor injuries. The scene created the effect of a largescale disaster area in appearance and homelessness.

The devastation had reached a Level 3 on the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS), a consortium of fire, emergency response and medical personnel, as well as specialized equipment teams that are coordinated through southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Mayor John Koziol spent that night and the following evening, with staff, at the City Hall. Two days later, the fire protection district’s Chief Robert Bradbury was leading insurance adjusters through homes for inspection, and wondering when power would be restored by Commonwealth Edison.

With the Dec. weather settling in, the entrance to the circle at the 7th Avenue and N. East Street intersection now has the quiet look brought with a bit of normalcy returned to daily life, cars and kids. There seems an uneasy balance countered by the sound of construction, as houses are still being repaired, and dumpsters are visible in driveways.

It’s the Christmas season, and one prompt is in front of the Sanchez family home: a newly-planted fir tree. Covered in ornaments, lights, a translucent star on the top, wrapped gifts and stuffed animals surrounding the base, the tree brings joy to Jim Sanchez, his wife, three children, and anyone else. This is a live Christmas tree that has its own story.

“I was thinking about digging it up and putting it out in the backyard, but no…it’s going to stay right where it is,” said Jim Sanchez. “I like it. My wife, Laura, goes all out for Christmas with decorations and she complained to some of the neighbors that we wouldn’t be able to have a Christmas tree this year.

“So, I started checking on live trees, rather than the cut ones.” He called Marengo- based Walnut Creek Nursery, Inc., and spoke to owner Paul Hackett.

“I went there, and he started showing me these massive trees,” said Sanchez. “Right away, I thought about the pocketbook and going broke. I explained what was going on, and he told me ‘don’t worry about it.’”

Hackett charged Sanchez $100, then picked out a tall, sturdy fir, and brought it to Sanchez’s house. They also planted it. The decorating was done by Sanchez’s daughter, and his wife was beyond surprised, as were the neighbors that watched the proceedings.

“It’ll be there next year, and the year after,” he said.

As repair work continues inside their home, and throughout the neighborhood, there’s always a reason for hope. Especially, when starting off a new year.

Recently someone asked me which Indians tribes lived in the Marengo area. I quickly answered that it was the Potawatomi in the Marengo area, and to the west in the Rockford area it was the Winnebago, and farther west in the vicinity of Rock Island the Sac and Fox made their home. After briefly thinking on the answer I corrected myself, and added the qualifier that these were the Native American nations that were in the area in the 1830’s when the first settlers arrived.

Prior to that no one is really certain; I know people who have found artifacts (stone tools) in the Marengo area that were declared by experts to have been manufactured several centuries before the first white settlers arrived. It is possible that the people who are referred to as Moundbuilders trod the land that today is McHenry County. The idea is not far-fetched if you consider that these people left behind the feature that is known as the Turtle Mound which located in what today is known as Beattie Park in Rockford. It is estimated that this mound was constructed sometime around 700 A.D. to 1100 A.D.

Illinois’ written history dates back to 1673, when Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette explored the Mississippi River – a major Indian trading route. Near the mouth of the Des Moines River the expedition encountered people who called themselves the Illini, and were a confederation composed of five tribes; the Tamaroa, Michigamie, Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and the Peoria. This confederation claimed as their hunting ground a majority portion of the modern State of Illinois. There were other tribes present; mostly north of the Illini hunting ground. These were the Kickapoo in far northwestern part of the state, and the Miami in modern day Lake and Cook Counties. At this time the Potawatomi were still living in present day Wisconsin.

From 1650 to about 1700 the Illini experienced hostilities from Iroquois war parties that came from the east. In 1680 a savage attack on the Illini town south of modern day Ottawa, Illinois, took its toll on the Illini. The confederation tribes were driven west to the Mississippi River, and its warrior ranks were decimated. With the confederation weakened the tribes from the north put additional pressure on the Illini and took possession of their hunting grounds. The Kickapoo moved south of the Rock River, and the Sac and Fox moved into northwestern Illinois; to the east the Winnebago and the Potawatomi filled the void. This was the alignment of tribes west to east in 1835 when the first white settlers came to McHenry County.

Two years prior, in September of 1833, a treaty was signed in Chicago that ceded most of the remaining lands east of the Mississippi River to the US Government. The Indians had until August of 1836 to remove themselves to a reservation in Missouri, and the treaty prohibited settlers from moving into the area prior to 1836.

There was a handful of zealous pioneers who disregarded the treaty and moved into the Marengo area in 1835, and crossed paths with the Potawatomi inhabitants. William Hamilton of Ohio moved into Coral Township in November of 1835. He built his shelter near the present day location of Coral village. Located just to the west of his home was an Indian village that consisted of a group of bark wigwams. Amongst this collection of dwellings stood a large conical structure that was used as a council house. Hamilton and some of his fellow settlers believed that this Indian town was abandoned, and they pulled the bark off the wigwams to use in the construction of their own shelters. Hamilton also procured some copper pots that he found.

In the spring of 1836 the Potawatomi returned to Coral and discovered that their village had been raided. The Indians had wintered at another location and came back to their ceded land to plant a final crop. One of the first tasks that they performed was to open a pit that contained the seed corn from the previous year’s harvest. Another task was a visit to Hamilton’s shelter to re-procure their copper pots. The Indians went about their lives in Coral alongside their new neighbors. Eventually they yielded to the swarm of pioneers that moved into the Marengo-Union area. Their departure is not documented, but one thing is for certain, and that is that Hamilton didn’t see them leave. He died that spring in 1836 from an injury that he sustained the previous fall from a falling timber while helping Calvin Spencer, the founder of Marengo, build a log structure. The Illinois Potawatomi were removed to Nebraska, and today the various bands live in several states; Kansas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.


The Marengo Fire Protection District responded to four fires within a three week period, during Dec., resulting in property damage and some livestock loss. Two service calls, one at the intersection of Coon Creek Road and Route 23, and another at the corner of Maple Road and Route 20, added to the total.

A Dec. 14 fire on Church Road left no damage to the residence, but burned a 40-foot by 50-foot garage-shop, and a two-story chicken coop. “They lost some livestock, and haven’t determined the cause or origin, although it may have been an electric heater,” said Robert Bradbury, the fire protection district’s chief. “The owner lost his phone, and couldn’t put it out by himself. He had to go to three neighbors, far apart, before he found one. Fortunately, he’s doing okay.

“The insurance investigators are reviewing the preliminary data, which we had given them. They lost some chickens, but the sheep made it,” he said. “I remember the site, because it had an original building that stood at Route 47 and Algonquin road in Huntley…the old roadhouse, ‘Little America.’ It was an old bolt-together structure, and was moved there years ago.”

A Dec. 12 fire at the Standish property, on the corner of Route 176 and Dunham Road, in Seneca Township, consumed a large barn leading to the loss of some livestock. “The cause is still undetermined, but the origin was probably the south side of the barn. We responded to a fire there about five years ago, the same barn, and it was caused by a heater.”


The Illinois Tollway Authority issued a construction update on the Route 23/ I-90 Interchange, under its jurisdiction. The project will open the only access to I-90 in Mc Henry County is part of a $14 billion, 15-year, capital improvement program called, “Move On,” along with local road upgrade listed as “approximately 500 feet of Illinois Route 23 reconstructed on either side of the bridge, and 200 feet of reconstructed pavement on Grossen Road” to accommodate the increased traffic flow.

In noting improvements, the ITA said, “The Route 23 Bridge was lengthened due to the new (and) wider I-90 roadway, completed in 2014, and widened to provide space for turn lanes to access future interchange ramps. The new bridge provides full shoulders and one lane in both directions and room for a future turn lane to access new ramps, should a new interchange be constructed. The new concrete bridge structure includes 24 beams supported by a center median pier on I-90 and concrete abutments on either side of the roadway.”

In related news, a truck stop is still planned for a 10-acre parcel at the intersection of Route 23 and Harmony Road. Hampshire-based Lazar Brothers Enterprises, Inc. completed a 34.8-acre purchase of property last Aug., with contingencies to begin construction in two years.


 As part of a consent agenda, during its Dec. 18 meeting, the Marengo City Council approved an ordinance to abate taxes on certain properties that were annexed into the municipal fold, over the past few years. The agreements were tendered from 2007-13, with corresponding PIN numbers on Marengo’s western portion, and along south Route 23.

The ordinance language that abates property taxes on properties annexed into the city cites that the action was part of the annexation agreement. Those properties listed are: Marengo Lakes LLC, AR Land Co, Rev. Eugene and Bertha Meyer Trust, Richard Marilyn Vogelman Trust, S.W. Mijanovich Trust (2), Marengo Farms LLC, West Bank Development Co., andChicago Columbia National Bank (3).

“My great-grandfather bought the land in 1894. I am fourth generation and still dairying,” Ken Bauman said. “We have expanded over the last hundred years and have been selling to Dean’s since Dean Foods began. Dean’s has plants in Huntley and Chemung. They pasteurize the raw milk there.”

 “Our farm is Mar-Wood Ridge Registered Holsteins. The Bauman family has been here over 100 years,” said Beth Bauman. “The farm has been given a historical plaque. We raise over 100 head on the farm. We raise cattle from calf to milking age and beyond. We milk over 50 head of cows, twice a day.X

“Ken and I now run the farm with our kids. Renee and Randall are fifth generation dairy farmers. We raise our own hay and corn silage to feed the cattle. We go as natural as we can. We have shipped milk to Dean’s for over 50 years.

“We have red and white, and black and white Holsteins. Cows have a nine month gestation period. We do not have a bull on the farm, we breed our cows. In the winter, we let them out to stretch and exercise so we can clean the barn and put down fresh bedding.”

“It’s a challenging business which is why I think you see fewer dairy operations,” Ken added. “Another challenge is finding outside help. 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. seven days a week doesn’t fit everyone’s schedule.

“It’s very rewarding. You get life and death situations, frustration and happiness in one day. Agriculture may seem monotonous, but it is different every day.”

With Thanksgiving over and Christmas just ahead kitchens are filled with fragrances of favorite foods and of memories past. For us, herbs always play a major part in our food preparation. Sage, rosemary and thyme star in many dishes, including desserts. As we think about the gardeners and foodies on our Christmas list, gifts of potted herbs or herb seeds are under consideration. Many local grocery stores have lovely potted herbs that could be gifted in a decorative pot.

For gardeners who enjoy starting seeds, we like the high domed starting systems. Some have air vents in the dome. These systems act almost like a mini greenhouse providing an ideal environment to grow healthy seedlings. Include some seeds and soilless potting mix and you will make someone look forward to spring with excitement.

Garden related books make a great gift for avid readers. Barbara Pleasant’s new book, Home Garden Pantry, will interest a gardener who also enjoys building a pantry of resources from the surplus harvest. Pleasant provides useful information on planning, planting, harvesting, and preserving produce from the garden to satisfy the beginner as well as the experienced home gardener. 101 Organic Gardening Hacks: Eco-friendlySolutions to Improve Any Garden by Shawna Coronado is filled with useful ideas, tricks, and tips that inspire every gardener.

Various sizes of baskets created from waterproof materials are handy for collecting, washing and storing herbs and produce from the garden. To generate happy smiles, fill a basket with gardening related gifts.

To make planting seedlings and bulbs a little easier, give a dibble. If you are a woodworker or know of one, you could have one made. The dibble helps create holes at the right depth. Another related tool is a bulb planting auger. These are handy for planting a large number of bulbs or seedlings.

Christmas will be here soon. We hope these suggestions and ideas will lighten your shopping chores during this busy month. From our house to yours we wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We are already looking forward to the 2018 gardening season.

Pastor Tanya Muzzarelli has been involved with Marengo’s First Presbyterian Church under a pastoral support agreement with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rockford for a little over a year. She officially contracted with the church in September to become their pastor.

 “A couple of pastors at Westminster were coming here to preach but the position ended up being offered to me,” said Pastor Tanya.

 “Everyone here liked Tanya and she seemed to like us,” said Steve Kannaka. “So we offered her the position.”

 Muzzarelli trained at Dubuque Seminary. Since she began with Marengo’s First Presbyterian Church, the church is showing evidence of growth and new energy. “It takes time,” she said. “We want to maintain the Presbyterian Church for the community.”

 “We enjoy it very much here,” said Pastor Tanya of herself and her husband. “The people here are wonderful and down to earth. New people are joining. It’s exciting. We have made a home here. We are here and committed. It’s up to God now.”

 The Presbyterian Church offers their Stone Soup program on Tuesdays from noon to 6 p.m. This free meal offers at least two types of homemade soup and the donated breads, rolls, sandwiches, cookies, and more vary each week.

In this way, the church provides a place for the community, family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers to gather, spend time together, discuss neighborhood, work, or family topics, and enjoy each other’s company. It is also a time when those in need of a hot meal can enjoy one at no cost. After school, kids can stop in for a snack or a meal. “It’s an outreach into the community and a ministry,” Pastor Tanya said.

“We have an after school program where the kids make crafts. Michelle Gallant teaches clay pottery for three weeks and then there is a break. Lately, we have made clay bust self-portraits and Christmas ornaments. The program is offered throughout the school year. Please call for information at 815-568-7441.xxxxxxxxxxxxxx “The church also runs the Presbyterian Thrift Shop, 119 S State St. which is open six days a week.

“We are also about to open a Sharing Center. People can call to make an appointment to receive food items. It will be similar to the M.O.R.E. Center, but less rigorous. It is planned as another outreach and ministry into the community.”

“We just want people to know that our doors are open and we are serving the community,” she said. “On Christmas Eve we will hold our Candlelight Service at 10:30 in the morning. The church is located at 203 W. Washington St.

“The First Presbyterian Church invites you to come. We have a place for you here.”


Marengo Area News Briefs

Marengo Area News Briefs

Crash Near Union Takes One Life A 27-year old Rockford woman was killed and a 24-year old Marengo man was injured in a...

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A World-Wide Charity Finds a Home in Marengo

A World-Wide Charity Finds a Home in Marengo

Sacred Heart Parish in Marengo is launching a new local Conference of a Society that is 185 years old. Founded in France...

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Pondering the Past, Tales Lost in Time

Looking back to the 1970’s it seemed like there were a lot more dairy farms in the Marengo-Union area than there are...

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