Days seem suddenly shorter and thoughts turn to fall gardening work. The last tomatoes are being harvested, garden clean-up is underway, and those mounds of leaves must be raked. Whatever the size of your yard, collecting all those leaves is a big job so don’t waste all that hard work by throwing them out. Why not consider making some gardener’s gold otherwise known as leaf mold?

What is leaf mold? It is basically composted leaves. However, it is far superior to compost as a soil conditioner. The process of making leaf mold takes a minimum six to twelve months. Leaf mold is dark brown in color and has an earthy aroma with a crumbly texture.

Leaf mold is a valuable commodity that has many uses. It is great for improving soil structure and creating wonderful habitat for worms and beneficial bacteria. There is evidence that leaf mold increases water retention in soils by over 50%.

Most leaves can be used for making leaf mold, one exception being leaves from walnut trees as they release chemicals that may stunt plant growth. Leaf collection may be done by raking or using a leaf blower to create piles that can be picked up. The process of creating leaf mold can be accelerated by using the lawn mower to chop the leaves into smaller pieces. If possible, collect the small pieces in a leaf bag as you mow.

Create a leaf cage from chicken wire or mesh to allow air circulation around the chopped leaves. Place the leaves into the cage and thoroughly dampen the pile. Periodically check the moisture level and add water if necessary. Covering the pile with a tarp helps to retain moisture. It is helpful to use a garden fork to turn the pile every few weeks to incorporate air which speeds decomposition.

When your leaf mold is ready, spread it on the soil surface and work it in with a fork. Over time it will become incorporated into the soil. Any soil type can benefit from an application of leaf mold. Drainage in heavy clay can be improved and water retention can be improved in sandy soil. It can be used to mulch flower beds and vegetable gardens. Its water retaining abilities make it a wonderful addition to containers.

Contact us with your questions and suggestions at

Union Fire Chief Brian Heimsoth
thanking scout Sam Thede for his work
in making the fire hydrants in Union
look presentable. Photo by Anne Eickstadt

“We saw the hydrants were in pretty bad repair,” said scout Sam Thede of the fire plugs in Union. “We contacted Mayor Wagner and he agreed that we could paint them. The mayor and city council supplied the paint and the new marker whips.”

“Sam asked if there was any project in town that needed to be done,” said Mayor Wagner. “I said, ‘yes, the hydrants need to be painted.’ He got the project approved, I signed the paperwork, and made sure he had the paint and the whips. They did about 20 fire hydrants around Main Street. One weekend they scraped off the old paint. The next weekend one cleaned the hydrants, one painted, and one attached the whip. They had a good system going.

“They look fantastic. The scouts did a good job,” Mayor Wagner praised.

This was Sam’s Life Scout project. [‘Life’ is the second-highest rank attainable, above ‘Star’ and below ‘Eagle’. ‘Life’ is awarded when the Scout serves actively in the troop, team, or crew, serves in a position of responsibility for six months, and performs six hours of community service.] It will be evaluated as his audition project to become an Eagle Scout. It has to be deemed ‘Eagle worthy’ by the district council.

“I was the project manager,” Thede said. “I had to put together a team, organize, and supervise the project. I had issues not helping do the work. It came out better than I ever expected. It’s so bright.”

Fire Chief Brian Heimsoth is very pleased with the freshly painted hydrants. “Sam is the fourth Boy Scout to do an Eagle project here in Union,” he said.

Snow? Snow!

Snow days are just ahead and that’s good news for the Marengo Snowgoers. This snowmobile club, dedicated to family snowmobiling, was founded in 1974 and has been going strong ever since!

Now is the time to consider joining this group, to get ready for the coming season of fun in the snow. The club meets at Glo-Bowl fun center in Marengo the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7pm. The October 17 meeting is the kickoff for their annual membership drive with the club furnishing pizza for all that come out to join the club.

November 12 is the club’s annual fundraiser known as “The Brat Fry”, located in the upstairs banquet hall at Joe’s Place starting at 1:00pm until 6:00pm. Club President Gary Zickuhr says: “Come enjoy one of the best Brats you’ll find and try your luck on the meat raffles (aka feather party). We will have the football game on the big screen for your enjoyment too. Maybe you’ll be the lucky person winning the 1,000 Dollar Grand Prize.”

Zickuhr says trial marking throughout the Marengo and Union area will take place on Thanksgiving weekend, with the trails officially opening on December 1st. This is providing there is snow cover, so Zickuhr says, “Start doing that snow dance early! I have a good feeling about this coming year.”

For more information about the club or the upcoming raffle contact President Gary Zickuhr at 815-970-1732

Victor Mortensen of Marengo, was one of the Korean War Veterans honored recently by Honor Flight Chicago. Victor was inducted into the Army as a Private First Class on October 1, 1951. After 21 months and 15 days of active duty, he was separated from active duty on July 15, 1953 as a Staff Sergeant.

Mortensen spent all but 8 of those months on a gun crew in Korea. As an operator of the largest weapon in use, he was in close proximity to the weapon. He explains: “As the number one man, the only protection for the ears was to put the muscle of your right arm over your right ear and reach over the top of your head and put your middle finger in your left ear. The noise and the back blast and concussion were terrific. . . .We were always warned to keep our mouths open to help prevent concussion. I did my best, but I still suffered hearing loss in both of my ears that plagues me to this day.”

Mortensen’s service and sacrifice have not gone unnoticed. On September 13, 2017 Honor Flight Chicago, the local branch of Honor Flight, hosted a daylong all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for World War II and Korean War Veterans. From their arrival at O’Hare Airport at 4:00 a.m. until their return at 8:30 p.m. the day was packed with experiences these heroes will never forget. Both groups were honored with a special ceremony at the World War II Veterans Memorial and also spent time at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. They were thanked, feted and fed. They told stories, reminisced, spent time reflecting on those long ago wartimes and the years since.

It was a day Victor Mortensen will never forget, as his service will never be forgotten. We join Honor Flight Chicago in thanking him for his service to our country.

A quilt created by Arlen Mary Bird, of Union, has won a top award in the quilt contest at the 2017 Quilt Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

A record-breaking number of quilt lovers – nearly 21,000 – attended the 13th annual Quilt Expo, which took place Sept. 7-9 at the Alliant Energy Center. Quilt Expo is presented by Wisconsin Public Television with Nancy Zieman, host of public television’s “Sewing With Nancy.”

Bird’s quilt “My Valentine” won third place, with a prize of $200, in Category 2 (Hand Quilted Bed Size - Appliquéd, Mixed or Other Type). Bird writes, “Old prints from my cupboard, new batiks from the store, pattern by Elly Sienkiewicz, and stitches galore. The quilt was begun in 1998 and completed in 2014. It celebrates the marriage of Allen and Arlen Mary Bird on February 14, 1960.”

In 2017, quilters from 29 states and provinces submitted their best work for judging in this year’s Quilt Expo quilt contest. All quilts on exhibit made it through a juried selection process before going on display. The 277 quilts accepted in either the contest or the Winter Games Quilt Challenge were judged on visual impact and stitching technique.

Following the event, selected quilts from the Winter Games Quilt Challenge will travel throughout the United States, representing the spirit of Quilt Expo.

Eric Mackey, 2017 graduate of MCHS, and star quarterback for the Marengo Indians, is now a freshman at Rockford University and playing quarterback for the Rockford Regents. He’s taken his winning ways with him! As of this writing, in his first three college games he’s already passed an average of 36.5 yards per game, completed 10 of 22 passing attempts and scored one touchdown. The Regents can already tell they have a valuable new player.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows this young man who began playing football at age five! Someone asked Mackey for his thoughts on the game, and he replied: “My thoughts are quite simple— football means the world to me and to be successful in the game you have to put a lot of work in.”

As a Sports Management major at Rockford University, he hopes to steer his talents and love of football into a career. Right now, he’s enjoying the challenge of moving from high school football into the university scene. He writes, “The first few weeks of college football were a little strange because you’re playing with an entirely new group of guys, but spending so much time with them there is something really special about how everyone can get so close in a matter of weeks.”

It’s good to know this Marengo grad is finding a place and making his mark with his new team.

An artist’s depiction of the proposed retail shopping mall
at 20009 E. Grant’s Highway (Route 20). Photo Courtesy of City of Marengo


The City Council approved a redevelopment agreement with considerations for tax-increment financing assistance that will create a new retail center at 200009 E. Grant Highway, during its Sept. 25 session. The agreement with site owners S & V Property LLC also provides for TIF monies up to $550,000 on the estimated $1.7 million cost of the proposed project.

The agreement is an update from the Sept. 11 negotiation, where the developer, the Marengo-based Corey Brackmann Construction Co., will obtain a loan from the Prairie Community Bank and assume the liability. The city will pledge a portion of the available TIF funds for the project, and commonly referred to as a “pay as you go” arrangement with an approximate 8.37 per cent return on the investment. The TIF district was established for the siting area in 2011.

“This was originally discussed in early Mar., and was in the development process,” said Marengo’s acting city manager Josh Blakemore. “They still have to present their plans to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission for approval, possibly at a Nov. meeting. We’re not limiting commercial development to one area, we want to bring development to the west side of town, where the Ace Hardware and Wisted’s Foods used to be.

The plan calls for the Marengo Pharmacy to re-locate to the new mall, from its downtown place of business at 308 State Street, along with a Dunkin’ Donuts and a liquor store. A fourth unit may be also be put into the mix.

The TIF funding will be used by Brackmann Constr. Co. to complete needed sewer and water line infrastructure at the site, as well as building a left turn lane on Grant’s Highway, which would necessitate approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation, as it is a state thoroughfare.


The Marengo Police Department announced that two individuals had been apprehended Sept. 20 in the downtown burglaries where cash, computers, and jewelry were taken. A window to one business was broken to gain entry during the Sept. 19-20 incidents. The businesses, located between 100-200 S. State Street were the Flatlander Market, Donna’s Jewelry Box, Three Stars Salon, Wholesome Petz, and the Empower Your Life Source Center, and a one-room residence.

“Arrests were made fairly quickly with witness identification, and the use of surveillance footage,” said Marengo Police Chief Rich Solarz. “Another factor was that some of the items and proceeds from the burglaries turned up in the community.”

Police came upon the broken window to the one store Sept. 19, and were alerted Sept. 20.

The suspects were identified as Nichole R. DePew, 38, and Robert Charping, 56, and both lived in the 1200 block of North State Street. Charping was charged with five counts of burglary, four counts of theft, and five counts of damage to property. DePew was charged with one count of burglary, one count of possession of stolen property, and one count of criminal trespass.


Durelle J. Hall, 26, was sentenced to 14 years in prison by Mc Henry County Circuit Court Judge Sharon Prather in the heroin-induced death of Marengo resident, Chelsie Kumm. The Sept. 8 action followed Hall’s July guilty verdict rendered by a jury for supplying the illegal opioids to Hall through a purchase.

Hall was due to appear in court Sept. 14 to face additional felony counts of drug-dealing and drug possession. Prosecutors outlined that Kumm had attempted to reach Hall several times, with messages on her cell phone, before making the purchase. Forensic pathologists indicated that the heroin was laced with fentanyl.

She was found dead by her boyfriend’s mother in a basement room with an array containing baggies of heroin with heroin residue, drug paraphernalia, syringe needles, prescription pills, and cooking tools for the illegal drug left around the room.

It is the most wonderful time of the year…Marengo Settler’s Days October 5th-8th. The theme this year celebrates the Farm Life, and all that it means: hardworking farmers, beautiful farmland and the heritage in our community of friends and family. All your favorite events from the Prince and Princess Contest, to Bingo at the Firehouse, Petting Zoo, Pet Parade and the Skinner’s Carnival are ready to go (Friday night wristbands are on sale now). A few new events, Methodist Church will host a flea market and a family kickball fundraiser (advance registration required) for Zion’s Comfort Dog Ministry will both be held Saturday. Still have energy, well don’t miss the party on Mainstreet Saturday night. Featured bands are Jim & Justin, Pirate Radio and 7th Heaven. Last, but not least, the biggest and best parade in the county steps off at 2:00pm which includes area marching bands that will go on to compete in the Band Field Show Competition 4:00 at MCHS. Honored Grand Marshalls of the parade will be Harold and Laura Heinberg, life-long Marengo residents, who have not only built a beautiful farm life, but have contributed to the community in many ways. Hope everyone has a wonderful time this year, visiting new attractions and your good old favorites. For more information, sign up or view the schedule of events visit

Thank you to the Settler’s Days Committee for all their hard work, planning and organizing everyone’s favorite weekend in Marengo!


119 E Washington St. 10/7/17 10am- 5pm Settlers’ Days $40.00 10x10 for outside spot via paypalor send check to the Marengo United Methodist Church. Venders sold a lot last year!!


Trucks – Customs – Hot Rods – Imports – Bikes – Classics – Lowriders – Military

Saturday, October 7 at Calvin Spencer Park beginning at 10:00 a.m. There will be music, food, and 50/50 Raffles. $10 vehicle entry fee. Proceeds benefit MCHS Auto classes.


Settlers’ Days, Inc. has waived all fees on all non-food booths for Saturday Night on Main Street, Saturday, October 7, 2017. This is a great way for clubs, organizations and businesses to connect with the community. If you would like to participate please visit: www.settlersdays. com and download your form. Vendors will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.


Marengo’s got talent contest will be held on Saturday, October 7 starting at 7 PM during the annual Saturday night on main street hosted by settlers days! We are currently looking for participants! Cost to register for this event is $10 and there will be a cash prize awarded to the first, second, and third place winners! Send an email with your name, age, phone number, song choice and a link to any songs that may need to be played by our DJ to Marengosgottalent@ by September 30! Any questions please contact Dessica at 815–790–6054!

The Indians (0-1 Overall) got the ball back 1:12 to play in the game, but could not convert the possession into a touchdown and twopoint conversion, coming up short 30-22 in their season opener at home. They had spotted the Winnebago Indians (1- 0) a 12-0 lead, entering the second quarter, on a Jared Roberts 4-yard run, and 54-yard pass reception by Kenzell Jones, before a barrage by Marengo.

Oliver Muradian broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown run, with an Aaron Shepard one pointer, and Shepard’s own 89-yard broken field TD run on a kickoff return, with quarterback rushing for a two-point conversion. A 20-yard scoring toss from Bryce Bryden to Jones was sandwiched between the two Marengo scores, leaving an 18-15 deficit for the home squad.

Both teams fought to a scoreless standstill in the third quarter, before Tanner Inglima took a five-yard TD pass from Bryden with 0:90 seconds gone in the fourth quarter, pushing Winnebago’s lead to 24- 15. Marengo worked the ball downfield, capped by a five yard TD play on a Muradian run, two minutes later, making it 24-22.

Jones grabbed a 40- yard pass for a TD, at the 6:30 mark, for the last scoring on the night. The 30-22 Winnebago lead held up, as Marengo shut down them down to gain their last possession in the waning minute.


Marengo’s defense held Winnebago off on four extra point conversion tries, and one failed kick; the team gained 154 yards on the ground with Muradian (15 rushes-85 yards), Knaack (12-50), and Finnigan Schirmer (3-25); Knaack passed for 152 yards completing 13 passes out of 22, with 1 interception; Schirmer caught five passes for 63 yards, Tyler Anderson went 4-57, Nikolas San Miguel was 1-21, and Muradian 3-11.

Marengo plays at Elmwood Park Sept. 1, and at Woodstock Sept. 8, at Woodstock North Sept. 15, before coming home to face Harvard Sept. 22.


Winnebago (1-0) grabbed two straight sets from the Indians for a 2-1 non-conference win. The Aug.22 home tilt saw Marengo (0-1) take the first round 25- 15, before dropping two consecutive hard-fought sets 25-19, and 25-23. Lillie Simons had 5 kills and 6 blocks, Katelyn Jeschke had 15 digs, and Emma Euker added 9 kills with 6 blocks.

The team at Richmond-Burton Sept. 7, Burlington Central at home Sept. 12, and Wauconda at home Sept. 26.


The Indians played Mc Henry, at the Mc Henry Country Club, with the Warriors taking a 173-226 match win. The Indians’ Brady Cannon shot a 46, Matt Fischer ended with a 62 scorecard, and Aidan Kirchner tabbed a 65.

The team plays Johnsburg at home Sept. 5, at Harvard Sept. 7, at the Roger Alm Invite in Antioch Sept. 9, at home against Woodstock North and the Woodstock Coop Sept. 13, Rockford Lutheran High School at home Sept. 19, at Richmond-Burton Sept. 21, at the Genoa Invite Sept. 23, at Belvidere Sept. 25, and at Sycamore Sept. 28. The schedule is subject to change.


Pondering the Past, Tales Lost in Time

Pondering the Past, Tales Lost in Time

This past March 8th was International Women’s Day, and the print, broadcast, and social media highlighted numerous examples of women who have...

Read more
Cowboy Anthony Diller’s Auto Repair

Cowboy Anthony Diller’s Auto Repair

Anthony (Tony) Diller, 32, approaches his fledgling business the way he approaches life, with what he calls a Warrior’s Ethos. “I will...

Read more
Grow Potatoes in a Container

Grow Potatoes in a Container

You cannot beat the taste of freshly dug potatoes from your own garden. If you do not have the space or believe...

Read more