Congratulations to the Zion Lutheran Varsity Boys’ Basketball team for taking 4th place in the nation at the Lutheran Basketball Association of America’s Nationals! Zion was one of 32 teams across the country invited to participate in this prestigious national competition as a result of their great achievements (an undefeated regular season, conference champions, and a 3rd place finish at state). Nationals were held at Valparaiso University March 22-25th. Led by head coach, Dave Wascher, and assistant coaches, Scott Shepard and Hunter Simonini, the boys worked hard and won 3 out of 5 games, losing only to the pre-tournament #1 seed and the eventual national champions. In addition, the boys broke the Zion school record with their 4th place finish and Matthew Volkening made the All-Tournament team for Nationals. On Monday, April 9th, the team was recognized by the Marengo City Council. The boys were presented with certificates of achievement. Congratulations, again, to the Zion Panthers!

Troy Umland admits he’s a “walking talking advertisement” for Umland’s Crunchy Cheese Bites wherever he goes. Remember the name of this delicious snack, because it will show up in local stores very soon. And you will know the Marengo connection.

Troy and his wife Barb have lived in Marengo since 1998. They have four kids—12-year-old Julio and 8-year-old triplets, Grace, Faith and Hope. Troy didn’t plan to become part owner of a company making snacks, but when he had the chance to partner with his brother Greg, Greg’s wife Louanne and their son, Taylor, of Carlock, IL, he signed on and brought his 30 plus years of experience in the consumer goods industry to the enterprise.

Greg Umland discovered a new technology for drying food that is energy efficient, faster and produces a more flavorful product. He used the technology to produce “Umland’s Pure Dry 100% Natural Cheese.” Troy joined his brother and family in 2017 and helped rebrand the product. It is totally cheese, not a “cracker type product posing as cheese,” Umland explains, so they named the snack Umland’s Crunchy Cheese Bites. This name truly describes these delicious bites of cheese that come in three flavors: Gouda, Cheddar and Pepper Jack.

Umland entered the product in a contest sponsored by Peapod, searching for the next best new foods. There were 100 entrants. The Cheese Bites made it to the top 18, making them part of an episode of ABC7’s “Windy City Live” show. On that show a panel selected a homemade pasta as the winner. The runner up: Umland’s Crunchy Cheese Bites! Peapod likes them so much they are interested in carrying them.

Greg Umland and his family continue producing the snack in Carlock. Troy Umland of Marengo pursues possible markets for the product in the Midwest, while continuing his full-time job and his life as a husband and father. “Balancing work and life is the challenge,” Umland states. If he can succeed in bringing this very healthy, incredibly delicious snack to local store shelves we will all benefit from his challenge. Watch for it and remember the Marengo connection.

Baggage car 1236 was built in Chicago by Pullman 110 years ago Union, IL – You may know someone whose basement is full of trains, or at least someone who has a few items of train paraphernalia around the house. But the ultimate prize for any train lover is an actual train. This spring the Illinois Railway Museum (“IRM”) in Union, McHenry County, Illinois is making that a real possibility. The museum is making one of the railway cars in its collection available to a good home. The railway car in question won’t fit in your basement – in fact, it may not even fit in your driveway. It is a wooden baggage car from the Chicago & North Western Railway numbered 1236. It was built in Chicago by the Pullman Company in 1908 and is roughly 70’ long, weighing in at about 99,000 lbs. The historic car, which is built mostly of wood, was once used on Chicago & North Western passenger trains to carry passengers’ luggage and small express freight shipments. It was acquired by IRM in 1964 and for a time was used to store spare parts for other trains at the museum. More recently it was employed as a storeroom for the museum’s gift shop. The railway car is mechanically complete but the interior is partly removed – perfect for someone looking to create a unique shop, club room, or getaway. Another identical baggage car owned by the museum is being retained and is currently on public display as an historic artifact. “This car may be surplus to our needs, but it has stuck around for 110 years so far and we are hoping that someone can provide it a good future so that it’s still around in another century,” stated Paul Cronin, IRM General Manager for Collections. Baggage car number 1236 is being offered as-is, where-is at the museum’s property. Serious inquiries can be directed to Paul Cronin, IRM General Manager, and the baggage car is available for inspection to any museum visitor. IRM is open daily until September 16th and weekends through the end of October.

There will be an Old Fashioned, “base ball” match at Village Hall Park off Barreville and Ames roads in Prairie Grove on June 10 at 2 p.m. Civil War-era game pits the McHenry County “Independants” against the Grayslake Athletics. Elmhurst History Museum Director Dave Oberg will umpire and emcee, explaining the rules and teaching the audience to cheer and jeer in proper 19th -century fashion. Free.

The Marengo Indians opened the defense of their Class 3A Illinois High School Association state title with two straight wins, before dropping an Apr. 2 game to Sterling. They are currently own a 9-2 record, following an Apr. 24 non-conference loss to Harlem, 3-0. These tune-ups on the way to the post-season will help later this this month, and in June.

“We are trying to get a lot of live, and front-toss, pitching in practice,” said Indians head coach Dwain Nance. “That way, our kids are seeing a lot of pitches and learn to recognize their best and worst pitch... being disciplined at the plate is very important. We schedule some very difficult games for a reason. It prepares us for the post-season. In softball, everyone makes the post-season, so it’s good to challenge yourself.”

The 2017 team finished with a 35-6 record including a trip to East Peoria, IL for the championship rounds. The Indians pulled out a 1-0 late-inning win June 9 against Nazareth Academy in the semi-final game, and a 2-0 victory in a similar fashion against the East Peoria Red Raiders June 10, for the title. It was the second top-slot finish in the program’s history, complementing other regional and sectional titles, all under Nance.

“Obviously, winning the state championship (last year) was a huge highlight,” he said. “But one thing I noticed was that team played together, and got along with each other. They built long lasting relationships with each other…that team was close. It’s fun to watch that happen.”

The celebration was somewhat abbreviated, hours after the team got home from Peoria, as a June 11 gas explosion, during the early morning hours, left four homes destroyed, damaged nineteen others, and rendered more than fifty other residences inhabitable, on and around, the 7th Circle neighborhood. Families were left homeless, and some residences are still under repair.

Nance recalled hearing the explosion, and driving there. He said there was relief that the injuries were not more severe and felt badly for the families whose homes were ruined. Team member Anna Walsweer, and others, helped out at the Marengo (Area) Out Reach Enterprises (MORE Center), a non-profit organization providing emergency assistance for needy individuals and families in the Marengo and Union area.

The community pulled together. A benefit wrestling tournament was held later in the month for Indians coach Tim Keefer and his family, who were left homeless by the blast. Nance said, “The Marengo community is a great one,” Nance said. “It does a great job of supporting each other, and it’s a great place to coach and teach at.”

Providing a sports outlet for girls, especially mentoring the game of softball, is important to the fabric of the community, in addition to supplying the Indians teams with potential players when they pass through high school.

 “Our assistant coaches, Rob Jasinski and Wayne Montgomery, and myself, are on the Marengo-Union Girls Softball Board, and Wayne (Montgomery) is the president,” he said. “The high school and MUGS have a great working relationship, and everyone is on the same page. It is a wonderful situation for our program, being in the position we are in. A lot of the softball parents are also on the board, such as Wendy Aubry, Aimee Ritter, John Turn, and Todd Christopher.”

The Indians play in the Kishwaukee River Conference, founded in 2016, on the heels of Woodstock and Woodstock North’s joint 2013 announcement of leaving the Fox Valley Conference to form a new one. Teams from the Big Northern Conference, including Marengo, also joined the aggregation. The powerhouse teams representing all the athletic programs at the various schools translates into one tough schedule.

“For softball, Burlington Central always plays us tough, and the conference championship has been won, either by them or us, for the past 12-15 years,” said Nance. “However, the KRC will be rough this year. All the teams are improved, and bring back some quality players. There’s a lot of good pitching in the conference, and it reminds me a little of when I first got to Marengo…the Big Northern Conference was a tough softball conference.”

In 2017, Marengo was the last team standing in the Class 3A division, from Mc Henry County and in the state. By the end of May, the team will be starting its trek into the post-season, and a possible repeat.

Scoreboard

(Apr. 25) Girls Soccer: The Indians lost 6-0 to the Johnsburg Skyhawks. (Apr. 24) Baseball: The Indians (4-9 Overall, 2-5 KRC) dropped a 9-4 game to the Johnsburg Skyhawks. Jake LaSota went 2-3, and Matt Merande picked up 2 RBI. (Apr. 24) Softball: The Indians lost 3-0 to Harlem, with Haley Minogue pitching all 7 innings. Hannah Secor and Grace Houghton each went 2-3.

There’s a new store in town, replacing a loved old store. Andy’s Paint and Paper has been at 21714 W. Grant Highway in Marengo for 27 years, until owner Andy Nowakowski retired and sold the business. Brian and Gemma McGivney, long-time customers at Andy’s decided to buy the store and tweak it a bit. They reopened as Gemma’s Paint With Color at the same location on April 2.

“This opportunity fell into our laps, and we decided to take it,” says Gemma McGivney with enthusiasm. She is a trained color consultant and interior decorator. Her husband Brian is an “IT guy” who will manage the business end of things. The two are parents of three grown kids and have lived in Marengo for 14 years.

The store will remain a Benjamin Moore supplier. You will see familiar items as and a lot of new ones. “We are carrying many more painting supplies and sundries,” Gemma explains. They will also offer custom window treatments.

More surprising is the store’s expansion into a whole new line of products for swimming pools and spas—chemicals and maintenance supplies. They have even installed a sophisticated water tester for use by their regular customers.

The McGivneys are offering competitive prices and personal service. They hope you will remember the value of shopping locally.

Kim Bauman is justifiably proud and excited. Her business, Hidden Path Arts has been named a winner of the 2018 American Small Business Championship by SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. The Championship sponsored by SCORE awarded this title to 102 entrepreneurs for their dedication to the success of their small businesses, awarding them an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event in Reno, NV in April, SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year, and a chance to win one of three $15,000 grand prizes, made possible with the support of Sam’s Club.

Hidden Path Arts earned the title of American Small Business Champion by submitting an online application describing what makes their business one of the best small businesses in their community, and how they plan to use the prizes to grow their business. Nominations that garnered at least 100 votes were then presented to a judging panel of small business experts that determined 102 winners including Hidden Path Arts. Criteria for winning included:

a. Response to the Judged Question (40%): Answer the Judged Question in a compelling fashion.

b. Public Relations and SCORE Benefit (25%): Clearly indicates how the business will utilize the public relations and SCORE benefits accruing from winning the Championship.

c. Successful Business (20%): Information presented conveys that the business organization is successful by the manner in which it helps the community or through specific business successes (such as people employed, revenue growth, customers served, etc.).

d. Public Support (15%): Number of Votes received for Entry during Public Support Phase. The final number of votes for each entry (up to a maximum of 5000) will be rewarded in the Public Support judging criterion.

The business is located at 821 East Grant Hwy in Marengo, has committed to bringing sport karate to their community since 2003, and has supplied athletes to the AAU international team. Owner Kim Bauman has touched the lives of many people, young and old, helping them to tap into their inner strength. She stated,” I am so grateful to receive this recognition on behalf of Hidden Path Arts! We are committed to our community and they have shown us enormous support. We share this success with our studio members and our community!”

Bauman added, “I can’t say enough good things about SCORE. They provide free mentorship and these competitive opportunities. I am grateful to be an Illinois Champion and I believe the training in Reno will be invaluable.

At a time when most young people are all about new beginnings, high school senior Rio Ottolino is already bringing an important phase of her life to a close. Because of her planned new beginnings as a college student in the Fall, this talented young entrepreneur will be closing her Goin’ Solo Dance Studio on May 20.

 The Studio brought many dancing experiences and successes to many area children. Over the past three years, Rio has choreographed winning routines for the group, who have competed in Midwest Starz Dance competitions. Last year they took second place in the national competition. So far this year, they have placed first in a mid-season competition in February. Rio has taught these girls to dance and also to give back to their community. The troupe has volunteered to dance at a nursing home, to work with Brownie Scouts who want to earn a scouting dance badge and to participated in Settlers’ Days.

Above all, Rio is a star in her own right. In March she won her 4th National Championship at Team Champion Spirit Group (C.S.G.) National Dance Competition with her open solo entitled, "Sound of Silence". Rio has won the last three National Championships using her own choreography.

Rio has also held a 6-week Summer Dance Workshop for local children over the past three summers and has had the children perform for their parents at a recital held at the high school each summer. At Marengo Community High School she led the school dance unit for the past two years and choreographed routines for varsity cheerleaders.

Rio hopes to go to law school in the future, and perhaps run a dance studio as a hobby. Whatever she decides to do, be assured she will do it with enthusiasm and energy! We wish her well.

The history of the Lindsay family and their passion for cars dates back to 1949 when Faith-Lindsay Co. opened. Warren and Pat Lindsay eventually opened both a gas station and auto parts store in Marengo. In 1957 they moved to Arizona, but found their way back to Marengo by 1963 and opened Lindsay Service Station, with the parts store officially opening in 1971. Being a highly successful business, by 1992 the current location was built, but in 2001 and addition was needed, doubling the space. Mary and Casey now feel it is their time to “change gears.” Deciding to retire was easy, and luckily finding the next owner was too. As of May 1st Joe Hansberry, owner of MPEC, will add the Marengo NAPA store to his lineup. The Rockford-based company has locations in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. By having a strong network within the NAPA community, the Lindsay’s were assured that the store would be in wonderful hands, with similar commitment to their employees, customers and the community, who they know will welcome Joe and his staff in May.

Having businesses that have been in Marengo for almost 70 years, not only spans many generations, the community becomes a part of your extended family. Over the years it has been a gift to see little ones in dad’s arms, then in the blink of an eye, coming in themselves to get parts for their own vehicles. From the candy bowl being raided after school to the puzzles on the marquee, oil filter sales to specialized clinics for the customers, so many memories are wrapped up in these walls. Can’t forget the annual Customer Appreciation Lunch. A simple notion became the event of the year for our hardworking customers, friends and family. I believe it was almost pre-printed in the local bank calendars.

Finally the staff…the people who made the difference! Chris Courier, Calvin Downey, Rachel Ortega, Carlos Cervantes, Christian Resenbeck, Joe Buck and Bill Guth. This is the group that kept the business running smoothly as the front line, always stepping up, helping farmers, mechanics, hobbyists and the average Joe with whatever they needed and always ready to learn. They are the reason Lindsay Auto Parts was an 11 time- NAPA 5 Star Achieving location!

On behalf of the community, THANKYOU to the Lindsay family for your hospitality, service and proprietorship in our little town. We hope to see Mary and Casey out on the town and enjoying their retirement. Cheers!

Raised beds are a good solution where available soil is compacted, heavy clay or sand, or contaminated. A raised bed can provide maximum control over the quality of the soil in which you grow your vegetables. When setting up your raised bed garden there are several important issues to consider.

Locate beds on a level area that receives a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. Avoid areas where water stands after a heavy rain. Gardening close to the house makes it easier to be in the garden each day and to monitor for pests and disease. Having the bed close to a water source is imperative to providing even and adequate moisture for the plants.

Typically, beds are 4 feet by 8 feet or 4 feet by 12 feet, but they could be any length desired. The height of the bed should be at least 12 inches to 18 inches to provide adequate space for the plant feeder roots. With adequate support, beds could be elevated even higher to afford access for those who would not be able to work at a lower level.

Many garden centers and catalogs offer kits that provide precut materials and all the hardware required for assembly. If you purchase your own lumber do not use pressure treated products or railroad ties that may leach chemicals into the soil. Cedar, cypress and redwood are long-lasting woods that will provide many years of service. Another alternative to keep the budget down is to check websites like Freecycle. org or Craigslist.org for materials that could be repurposed.

Fill beds with a quality soil mix. For a 4’ by 8’ bed use 2 cubic feet of topsoil, 6 cubic feet of peat moss, and 4 to 6 cubic feet of good organic compost. Add horticultural vermiculite to enhance drainage. Coco coir is a substitute for peat.

Go to YouTube for video demonstrations on how to build a raised bed. This is a good time to build a raised bed to put into use by the end of May, the ideal time to plant vegetables in the Marengo area

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