On Sunday, August 27, 2017 the first ever Kindness 5K will be held at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, IL to continue the life, love and light that Katie L. Kloess shared with the Marengo community. Katie, 29, was a victim of a fatal automobile accident on December 15, 2015 in Marengo. Katie lived her life to the fullest, emulating her favorite quote “Be the Change You Want in the World.” As friend, teacher, coach and member of Zion Lutheran Church, her light touched countless people in our community and will shine on for eternity.

American Idol winner and country music’s hottest new star Scotty McCreery will be headlining the 2017 Boone County Fair, 8847 Rt. 76, which runs from Tuesday, August 8th through Sunday, August 13th.

Scotty McCreery performs Saturday, August 12th at 8:00pm. Hear his hit songs such “Southern Belle” and Feelin’ It”. Only $25 for reserved grandstand and general admission track seating.

Marengo has been invaded! The signs of this invasion can be seen everywhere. Bright neon signs and large red flags shouting; “Video Poker”, “Video Gaming,” “Video Slots,” and “Play Here” are some of the messages that get people’s attention as they travel down the streets of our community. In the old days these invaders were referred to as one-armed bandits, but the modern version has no arm - just buttons. Marengo has survived this invasion before, and I’m sure that we’ll survive this one.

The first 100 days? How about the first 90? Things have been very busy at City Hall. Council recently approved spending money on a needed infrastructure improvement. This improvement involves replacing some 80 plus year old water mains. The current mains were failing at too rapid of a pace. We know there are many needed improvements over all but it was decided to start with our water supply.

The Marengo Indians varsity softball team (35- 6) continued a winning tradition, on their own terms. They came home as champions, carrying the 2017 IHSA Class 3A trophy, after a 1-0 semi-final win over Nazareth Academy July 9, and the closing contest, a 2-0 victory over East Peoria. The accomplishment adds the second state championship title for the softball program, and third overall, for the school. The program’s amassed hardware also includes three second- place crowns.

“They sacrificed a lot of things, missed a lot of social events, and played a lot of exciting games,” said Marengo Head Softball Coach Dwain Nance. “This is a great team, it’s basically the same core as two years ago, when we lost in the final. We’re going to miss the six graduating seniors a lot, they were a big part of this. The expectations to succeed are always the same.”

After some early season burps, the squad caught fire and tore through their inaugural regular schedule in the Kishwaukee River Conference, garnering an undisputed first place title. The post-season games ticked off consecutively with victories that featured some hair-raising finishes and come-from-behind rallies throughout the regional, sectional, and super-sectional tournaments... the path to East Peoria, and the EastSide Centre, for a shot at the state title.

Standout games included wins over nemesis Sterling, 7-1 in an Apr. 14 regular season contest, and then 2-0 in the sectional on home runs by Hannah Ritter and Lauren Aubry. In the May 27 regional title game, they tied Marian Central 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning on a home run by Mariah Dionne. In the ninth inning, with the bases loaded, Hannah Ritter hit a grand slam to win the game 5-1, only her second homer of the season.

Nance’s coaching record went to 340-94-1 at Marengo, and 431-137-1 overall in a fifteen year career. “Team first” was the focus, and individual statistics became a blur. Dionne (20-5) reached the 200-strikeout plateau in the second inning of the semi-final game. “I wasn’t aware of that,” she said. However, former Marengo Head Football Coach Matthew Lynch was well-aware of the team focus.

Invited to participate as the team’s motivational advisor, he said, “This is a good group of athletes, with a strong core and a good outlook on what needed to be done. Being selfless, and being there for each other...you couldn’t hope for more, and it was a joy being with them.”

Nance added, “We have kids that will fill in the openings in the programs; they’ll step up. It’s a matter of cycling through…so, we’re super-excited about the future.”

July 9: Semi-Final Game        MARENGO 1, NAZARETH ACADEMY 0

Nina Reed watched the pitches carefully. And Nazareth’s Devyn Zuro was just as careful, in the bottom of the seventh inning. Reed paid closer attention, drawing a walk. She was replaced by Susie Nawrot, and a fielder’s choice suddenly put a Marengo runner at second base. Grace Houghton struck out, which brought up Ritter, with two outs.

Ritter had come through in the clutch twice before, and people wondered, if it would happen again. It did. Ritter slapped a rocket grounder, past third base, as Nawrot slid over home plate, ahead of the throw. “It felt good, coming through in the clutch,” Nawrot said. “We’d hoped Hannah (Ritter) would put it into play, and she did.”

Ritter was relieved. “I go up there with the mentality that ‘I can hit this ball,’ and thinking that. But to execute it…it’s another thing altogether.”xxxxxxxxxx The game was a scoreless pitcher’s duel up to that point, with Dionne racking up 10 strikeouts, walking one, and allowing two hits. Zuro gave up four hits, walked two, and struck out seven Indian batters. Both pitchers tossed for the entire game.

 July 10: Final Game, State Championship      MARENGO 2, EAST PEORIA 0

The site is East Peoria’s home field, and the uniforms were the same maroon color as Marengo. It was billed as a pitcher’s day with noted strikeout artists, Dionne and the Raider’s Alyssa Graves, on the mound. The first few innings proved an adjustment period for both competitors: Dionne having difficulty locating a strike zone, due to the Raiders’ height, and Graves incurring the same problem, as the Indians were not as tall.

By the fourth inning, it changed. Graves gave up a single to Leah Secor, but struck out Riley Connell and Anna Walsweer. Dionne promptly responded by striking out the side. East Peoria threatened in the bottom of the fifth, as Caitlin Mc Whirter singled and stole second- base. She took third on a bunt single by Peyton Dearing that handcuffed Dani Hartmann.

Marengo broke through in the sixth inning, with a single by Ritter. She moved to second on a sacrifice by Connell. Secor struck out, and then, Dionne walked. Lillie Simons replaced her, as a runner. A throwing error by East Peoria’s shortstop, Ashley Emert, scored Ritter for the first run. Megan Anthony followed with single to right field, scoring Simons. Nawrot hit a grounder to shortstop for the third out.

The tension ratcheted up, when Dionne walked Kaitlyn Smith to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. She advanced to second base on a Mc Whirter single, after a pop foul out. Both runners then advanced on a grounder to Dionne, for the second out.

Emert and Dionne engaged in the perfect atbat to close a game. The count ran to 0-2, and the battle stretched out with five consecutive foul balls, drawing “oohs and ahhs” from the crowd on each attempt. Emert then swatted a ground ball to Secor, where it was scooped up and thrown to Anthony at first base for the final out.

Shortly after the game ended, the awards ceremony took place on a side field. Nina Reed was smiling. She downplayed that her walk, in the semi-final game, led to the team’s win. “I’m glad we did.”

******* For Marengo fans interested in seeing the semi-final and final games, visit the website (www.nfhsnetwork. com). DVD copies of the contests, professionally- made, with original broadcast play-by-play audio, go to the website (http://www.nfhsnetwork. com/dvds).

Is there anything I can do to prevent septoria on my tomatoes?

Septoria leaf spot is a fungal disease that appears on the lower leaves of the plant usually after fruit set. Characterized by dark spots surrounded by yellow haloes, eventually infected leaves turn brown and drop leaving the tomatoes vulnerable to sun scald. To control or prevent the spread of the disease mulch around plants creating a barrier that prevents spores from splashing onto the plant. If there are infected leaves, prune them off at the first sign and do not dispose of them in the compost pile. Avoid moving around the plants when foliage is wet. Keep plants adequately fertilized and water early in the day. Avoid wetting the leaves. A more aggressive strategy would be spraying a fungicide on a 7-10 day schedule.

Is it too late to put in a garden?

There are many plants and seeds that can go into the garden at this time of year. Select varieties that will mature in 50 to 75 days from planting. Check garden centers for transplants. Among crops that can go in at this time include carrots, beans, beets, chard, zucchini, peas, and brassicas like kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kohlrabi. Salad greens, radishes and herbs do well into the fall.xxxxxxxxx My plants have stopped growing. The leaves and branches are wilted and turning yellow and brown.

A common garden problem during the summer is providing adequate and appropriate amounts of water. Over watering is easy to do if rainfall amounts are not considered. Most garden crops require one inch per week. If the problem persists you may need to improve drainage by adding sand or organic material. The other end of the spectrum is too little water with leaves appearing curled, burnt, crispy or brittle. Leaves can be yellow or brown in color and soil in the garden bed looks cracked. Consider adding mulch, a small irrigation system or shade cloth.

My tomatoes have developed light tan water-soaked lesions on the blossom end of the fruit. Some have turned black and leathery.

Blossom-end rot is not a disease, but, a physiologic condition. Fluctuating soil moisture supply during dry periods and low fruit calcium levels are the major causal factors. It is usually a calcium uptake problem, not inadequate soil calcium. Adequate and even moisture applied with deep watering, not frequent shallow watering along with proper mulching will help prevent blossom-end rot. Over cultivation damaging roots may also be a cause.

Contact us at sdeberg@marengo-uniontimes. com.

Kim Holesha is Programming Coordinator at the Marengo-Union Library district. She began working at the desk in the Library 10 years ago, and came into her present position 2 years ago, when her predecessor Susan Parker retired. “It’s my goal to someday be as good as Susan was,” Kim states.

Kim is the person behind many of the programs that take place at the Library all year long. From the monthly adult book club to the many stand-alone events, Holesha has planned and brought them to reality. She “dreams up” some of the programs, take suggestions from the public, and learns about successful programs when she attends regional and state library conferences and conventions. She even admits to getting some ideas—especially those for the current Mad Science Program—from Pinterest.

Holesha is energetic and enthusiastic. Her eyes sparkle as she describes the recent successful Mad Scientist bottle rocket launch, or the upcoming program “Pinched Paintings.” The latter will take place July 22 when a speaker from the Art Institute of Chicago comes to discuss famous stolen art work.

“I want people to know all our library has to offer,” Holesha comments. “We will always have books, of course, but we have so much more. We are here to catch people’s interests, to enrich their lives and to provide a safe place for everyone to come and learn and have fun.”

The email to the Marengo-Union Times told us there was a “man who fed dinner to the homeless families every night for a week.” Curt Shaklee, the email said. This I wanted to investigate.

“I didn’t do that,” Curt said. “You should talk to my wife, Jennifer.”

Is she the one who fed all those people every night for a week? “Not at all!” Jennifer laughed. “Curt and I just happen to live in the right place and we both wanted to do whatever we could to help our neighbors. Someone asked us to do one simple thing and it just grew from there.”

Their very near neighbors were victims of the gas explosion on 7th Circle in Marengo on June 11, 2017. In fact, the Shaklee home is so near, that it sustained some minor damage. However, their home has a garage and driveway facing the scene of the leveled and badly damaged houses. On Monday morning, the day after the explosion, Marengo Convenient Mart wanted to donate water and soft drinks but needed a place to put them. Could they use the Shaklee garage?

Jennifer went on social media to enlist help from friends and family to get the garage cleared out. Now the word was out! Lots of people wanted to help, but didn’t know where. Lots of places wanted to help with food, but how could they get it to the affected families?

Many families also lost their cars. All had to stay with their property as they waited for inspectors and insurance adjustors. They had no place to wait and couldn’t go far from their damaged homes.

Well, the water was coming to the Shaklee garage, why not everything else? And why just the garage? Why not the driveway, the yard and the house?

The complexity of losing so many homes with so many different needs became more and more evident. However, the number and variety of companies and individuals who wanted to help grew too. Ripple effect.

The many small children in affected families were swept into the Zion Lutheran summer day camp program—a safe place to have fun and a God send to all those parents. Think of all those home freezers with food spoiling! Joe’s Place offered freezer space. Volunteers went house to house and emptied freezers and trucked everything down there. Local grocery stores and restaurants provided fresh food. It all arrived at the Shaklee home. Jennifer and the ever-growing ring of volunteers made stacks of sandwiches and cut up bowls of fruit.

Curt even set up a “station” of iPhone and android chargers for people to use. Home owners and renters, insurance adjustors, fire inspectors and police all came to the Shaklee house for a cold drink, a sandwich, a few minutes in air conditioning, a charge for their phones. Food arrived every morning for breakfasts for many who had to be there early. Lunches and dinners were always served. Every day from Tuesday until Sunday.

People talked. People cried; they got a chance to laugh and think about other things than their houses. People who wanted to help found the people who needed help. Everything was and is channeled through the MORE food Pantry, but for those critical days when homeowners couldn’t easily go to get help, help came to them. Friendship also came to them and to everyone.

The June 17 birthday party for Jennifer Shaklee’s brother, Airman First Class Aaron Stratton of the U.S. Airforce was bigger than planned. She was still able to surprise her parents with Aaron’s visit, but he arrived on a Firetruck escorted by members of the Marengo Fire and Rescue Squad. It was the last day of a week that no one in Marengo will ever forget. A week of tragedy with ripples of goodness.

In late June of 1950, after an unusually sweltering day 3 inches of rain fell on Marengo overnight.
The next day these two boys found a make-shift swimming hole in the Syndicate section (the avenues north of Rt. 176)
and jumped in for a swim. (Photo from Marengo Republican News)

In the past when the dog days of summer rolled in and the thick warm humid air shrouded one’s skin like a heavy wet blanket people headed to the local swimming hole for a refreshing dip in a cool pool of water. A swimming hole could be any natural body of water; a creek, a river, a farm pond, or a quarry filled with water that was of sufficient depth for a person to swim in. Although it seems like swimming holes are less popular these days; they’re still around. A quick internet search will yield links to articles about the best swimming holes near Chicago, in the United States, and even in North America.

Over the years Marengoans had their favorite swimming holes. Long-time Marengo historian Rudy Husfeldt in his writings mentioned the locations of two swimming holes in the Kishwaukee River that were popular in the 1920’s. One was referred to as the Dutch Hole and it was located about one mile northeast of town; the second was the Augustus Swager “pool” located about one and one-half miles northwest of Marengo. Another swimming hole on the Kishwaukee River was identified by E.J. Cady.

Cady wrote about this swimming hole in a letter to the Marengo Republican News that was published in the newspaper on May 7, 1931. This swimming hole was popular in the mid-1890’s, and according to Cady it was located one quarter mile west of the bridge on the Dr. Green farm. An 1892 map of Marengo Township shows that the J.W. Green farm was located on the west side of State St. where it crosses over the Kishwaukee River. In the letter Cady provided readers with a glimpse of the “happenings that occurred” at this particular swimming hole.” He recalled times of finding his “duds so full of knots” that he feared he would have to walk home in his bathing suit which consisted of “only [his] bare skin.”


in 1955 the Marengo area saw a significant upgrade to its old swimming holes. Bathers were no longer limited to the murky waters of the Kishwaukee River, some creek, or a farm pond. The May 26, 1955, edition of the Marengo Republican News announced the opening of a new attraction – Griebel’s Beach! Griebel’s Beach was located in a Riley Township gravel quarry on Route 23 about three miles south of Marengo. The article reported that Mr. and Mrs. Joe Welch obtained a long term lease on the swimming portion of the quarry and that the attraction would operate as Griebel’s Beach. The new facility boasted a bath house, showers, and a concession stand. Extensive landscape work was done to provide for a large sand beach, and a parking lot was installed. The adult swimming area was roped off as was an area of shallow water which was used as a wading and splashing pool by children nine years old and under.

The new beach provided a higher level of safety over the old swimming holes because there were always lifeguards on duty, and a set of rules was established that prohibited horse-play, rough-housing, intoxicating beverages, and visiting with the lifeguards.

One disadvantage of the new beach was that there was a cost associated with using it. One lure of the old swimming holes was that it was free whenever one wanted to take a dip. Over the years Griebel’s Beach prices varied. In 1965 a family pass cost $25.00 per season; by 1979 the cost for a family pass increased to $80.00 dollars per season. In 1973 daily admission cost $1.00, and 75 cents for children 9 and under, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays you could a great deal - after 6:00 p.m. the cost dropped to 60 cents.

I’ve never been a swimming hole type of a guy – I don’t care too much to step on who knows what at the bottom of a muddy river, nor do I care for seaweed wrapping around my leg in a farm pond, but I do have great memories of swimming at Griebel’s Beach. The water was fairly clear and always cold – even in the dog days of July and August. In the 1970’s it was a hopping place. We’d get dropped off for an afternoon on a hot and sweltering day and drink gallons of cold Cocoa Cola and eat pounds of frozen Snickers bars while the Night Chicago Died or Bad, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown blared over the speakers. Between dips in the cold water we’d lie on the hot sand and pass the day away. It was a great way to spend many days of summer vacation, and a great time to live in Marengo.

A week before the National Skills USA competition, MCHS senior, Bradaigh O’Brien, got the call that he was in the competition. He had one week to prepare to compete in Louisville, Kentucky. The school year had ended, O’Brien looked forward to his graduation party, and his Autos II teacher, Mr. Long left for a vacation. “Bradaigh’s a wonderful student; a really good kid,” said Mr. Long. “He’s so talented in so many different directions. He’ll have a hard time choosing what he wants to specialize in.” Mr. Long went on to say that when he needs welding done, he gives the job to O’Brien.

Skills USA is a national organization that supports building trade skills by partnering with teachers, industry experts, and students. Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” is the Skills USA spokesperson. According to the website, by 2020 there will be 10 million unfilled skills jobs waiting to be filled. By 2024 that number will grow to 16 million. There’s a skill-gap in America, and Skills USA hopes to help fill that gap. Says Rowe, “Skills don’t get celebrated the way college degrees do.”

Skills USA focuses on three main categories of development: personal (for example integrity and work ethic;) technical skills grounded in academics; and workplace skills (like leadership and management.) The skills competition begins with a written test. Fifty qualifiers compete at the State level. The top scorer advances to the National Competition. If the top scorer does not go to Nationals, the second place at the State level qualifies to advance. Bradaigh missed 1st place by a half a point. The Illinois State winner, from Johnsburg took the apprenticeship that John Deere offered, precluding him from attending the National Competition. That’s when Mr. Schirmer, O’Brien’s shop teacher stepped into the picture to coach him through the competition where he placed 15th out of all the State qualifies.

Skills USA competitions involve over 100 different trade-skills: cosmetology, HVAC repair, Practical Nursing, Commercial Banking, Robotics, Culinary Science, Welding, Crime Scene Investigation, and Firefighting are among the varied categories.

O’Brien competed in Diesel Equipment Technology. In Auto Mechanics II, under skilled guidance, a team of six students learn, among other things, how to maintain the school busses. According to O’Brien, Skills USA competition included Precision measurement, electrical, diagnostic, transmission technology, chassis, and a job interview. When asked what he considered a standard interview question, what has been your greatest achievement, O’Brien replied, “Our team of six, did a wheel pull in five minutes, which broke the record of 8 minutes 3 seconds. That involves lifting the buss, taking the wheels off, taking the hardware and brakes off the front and back axels.” He concedes that his size and strength helped cut minutes off the chore, “Most have to use a cart. I just pulled it off the spindle.”

O’Brien is quick to give genetics, growing up around mechanics, and great teachers as contributing factors to his success. “My father is a mechanic and my step-father is always working on cars,” he said. “I’ve always liked building things.” Mr. Schirmer explained that some of the school’s program involves on-line learning. “They can teach themselves, while the instructors verify the students understand what they learn.” He went on to explain that what there is to learn keeps changing. “We must give students an arsenal of workplace skills, so they can continue to succeed.” Because of his success at Skills USA, Wyotech offered O’Brien a scholarship. His focus at Wyotech will six monts of core Diesel Repair, and 3 months each of the specialties, Chassis Fabrication and Applied Service Management. He hopes to eventually open his own business as a field technician. His advice to other kids with similar interest is “Don’t take the other classes for granted. Math, science, and English are subjects that help open doors.”


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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