At this point in the winter it is tempting to think about starting seeds. For a vegetable gardener, nothing more effectively takes the mind off off the cold winter weather than seeing the first seeds sprout in the starting trays. Experience has taught us that only slow growing seeds like some herbs and perennial flowers should be started this early in the year. However, for those of you yearning for some fresh garden grown food, we have some suggestions. If usual local sources of seeds are not yet available, open those seed catalogs that have piled up or try online sources.

February in McHenry County is too early to plant seeds or seedlings outdoors. Starting cool season crops right now in containers or grow bags is a great option to put some fresh greens on the table in March. To avoid spindly seedlings, it will be necessary to provide supplemental lighting over starting trays or containers.

An almost constant supply of salad greens can be provided by planting successions of mixed baby greens. As the temperature warms containers can be moved outside into the sun and brought back inside to avoid frosty nights. Greens can be grown well into the summer until the heat causes most varieties to bolt.

Radishes are a great cool season crop to start in a container and many varieties may be ready to eat in three to four weeks. Be sure to space the seeds a couple inches apart to allow room to develop into nice sized edible roots. A window box is a good container for growing seeds in a row. Kids can handle radish seeds so involve them in this project.

Fresh garden spinach is a favorite at our house and is easy to grow in containers or trays. Check the days to maturity when purchasing spinach seeds and choose those varieties that grow quickly. Spinach is a good crop for succession planting to keep a continuous supply on your table.

Snow and sugar peas are a great spring crop that kids usually love. When selecting seeds take into consideration that peas grow either as vines or bushes. We suggest that peas be planted in starting trays so that they can be ready to go into raised beds with frost protection using row cover. Peas usually take 50 to 65 days to mature and giving them a head start indoors will get them on your plate by late May by transplanting in late March or early April.

Take away the winter blues by trying some of these ideas and involve your children or grandchildren too. Contact us with your gardening questions.

Your favorite Christian Arts Student Theater group is back for a magical adventure with Peter Pan, April 27-29, 2018 at MCHS. The turnout is incredible for this show, with 62 children participating, and 21 of them are first time actors with CAST. Kimberly Voller returns as the Senior Director and joining her will be Christo Poggas as Co-Director, Paige Lush as Music Director and Heather Tynis Choreographer. CAST had performed Peter Pan in 2010, their 4th production. Kimberly said it is such a wonderful story and allows for many children to participate, so she thought it would be fun to direct it for a second time. It was their first show with “flying” and that was just amazing to see on opening night... truly magical.

There are still many opportunities for those with a little stage-fright to be a part of the fun. Building sets, painting, decorating and not to mention the costumes (I mentioned 62 kids, right). If you are interested in spending time with an excellent group of people, contact Kimberly for a schedule and you can jump right in, as your schedule allows. There are former actors who have grown into integral members of the production team and do an amazing job.

All parts have been assigned, rehearsals are underway, and the excitement is building. As always, this show will be fantastic with all the talents of children from Marengo, as well as Huntley, Woodstock and Crystal Lake! From just a small after school activity at Zion, it is awesome to see how CAST has grown.

Being completely self-funded, one way that CAST can help off-set their costs is with a Quarter Auction that will be held at Joe’s Place on March 16th at 6:00pm. This event has become very popular and is supported through donations of gifts, services and baskets from local businesses. It is a great night for the CAST families to come out and have fun, along with the community to support this wonderful organization.

After half a century of dentistry, one thing remains constant for Dr. Jim Sweet: “When people come to visit, they aren’t like family, they ARE family.”

Sweet became a Michigan Avenue dentist immediately after graduation from Northwestern University. “Stops lights brought me to Marengo,” he said. In 1968 colleague asked him if he’d like to buy a practice in Marengo. “I’m one of those people who don’t like change,” Sweet gave the reason he stayed. “I’m married to the same woman and live in the same house since I moved to Marengo. His practice started on second floor of the old Lindsay’s Drug Store on 104 state street. It had been a dentist office for 100 years. “Lindsay’s had a real soda fountain.”

Sweet and his wife, Carol soon came to love the small town and countryside. Six years later he moved into third floor of Marengo State Bank building. He and his wife, Carol, raised a daughter and two sons in Marengo. Their daughter, Beth Peters is Dr. Sweet’s dental hygienist, and their son, Jay Sweet recently moved his Sweet Dental Lab headquarters from Barrington to Marengo. “Carol is my office supervisor, general expediter, and whip-cracker,” said Sweet. Sami Wilkening works chairside, Nancy Silverman manages the front office, and Sophie Knox and Nick Peters work in the sterilization room.

On his first day of dental school, Dean George Toscher, said “your academic half-life is about 8 years, after that it will half and half and half during your career.” Sweet agrees that technology changes dentistry and continuing education is an imperative. “Nowadays there’s so much information that students must absorb, they can’t get it all in four years of dental school, he said. “Now they have to have an additional year in a preceptorship or internship.”

For Dr. Sweet, an interesting aspect of running a dental practice is how dentists charge for their services. “A lot of dentists at the beginning of my practice said not to charge more than $10 for any filling,” he explained. So instead of filling, for example, three tooth surfaces that needed filling, a dentist would fill one surface for $10, followed by scheduling two additional visits. “In most places a three-surface filling was around $15,” Dr. Sweet explained, “In Marengo people expected cheap dental appointments, so dentists scheduled more than one sitting. I charged more per sitting, but got it all done in one visit.

In his early years of practice, people didn’t want their teeth cleaned. Didn’t understand the importance of periodontal maintenance. “People were not aware of gum disease. They thought cleaning teeth was a waste of money,” said Sweet. “Actually, we lose a little bit of money.” Good periodontal care costs less than restorative care.

Sweet became very active in the Dental Society of McHenry County and served on the Illinois State Health Society communication committee. Sweet became instrumental in identifying why people avoided the dentist. “It was a melding of fear, embarrassment, and shame,” He explained. “Patients are often ashamed because they let their mouth get into a bad condition.” With Sweet, the Dental Society created a program that was a counter-barrier program, based on patience confidence in modern dentistry and that ensured the patient would be treated with respect, be in control of his care, and most of all, the program would help confidence. “The campaign focused on how the patent would feel when treatment was complete.”

Sweet loves his home town and shows it by his community involvement. He was the Zoning Chairman for 20 years. He helped rewrite ordinances and make a new zoning map, which laid the groundwork for an historic preservation ordinance and eliminated “spot zoning.” According to Sweet, Marengo had lost in court a suit where a judge found zoning to be arbitrary and capricious. The zoning must be consistent with 5th amendment rights to property. While on the zoning board Sweet worked closely with several mayors. He said that Dorothy Otis, and Don Hubbs should both be in the Marengo Hall of Fame for their community contribution. The same can be said of Dr. Jim Sweet.

The cold weather might be keeping everyone cooped up indoors a little more than usual, but that’s not stopping us from enjoying tons of fun indoor activities this winter. We’re thrilled to be offering art and dance classes, as well as sports and fitness activities for all ages all winter long.

Dance - Our brand new dance classes just began in early February, but the eightweek program goes through the end of March so it’s not too late to sign up if you missed out. The classes are on Saturdays and include Adult Zumba; Baby Ballerinas and Tiny Tappers for ages 3 to 4; Fairytale Ballet and Fairytale Tap for ages 5 to 7; and Hip Hop classes for pre-teens and teens.

Painting - Two eight-week painting classes kicked off on Jan. 30, as well – one for kids and one for adults. Kids are learning the artistic stylings of “The Masters,” while an adult beginner class teaches the fundamentals of paint - ing beginning with a snowscape. All painting supplies are provided for our art programs, which will continue this spring.

Basketball - The second installment of the Lil Indians Basketball Program has been in full swing since Jan. 13. Following the Fundamental Skills program, the Basket - ball Program helps kids ages 6 to 14 get more comfortable playing the game through drills and scrimmages. If you missed this round of Lil Indians Basketball, you can catch the Team Play program in March, where players par - ticipate in games with a run - ning clock.

Fitness – Our fitness center is open year-round, but it’s a great way to stay active indoors this winter. Our fitness center has elliptical machines, treadmills, circuit workout equipment, free weights and much, much more. It’s the full fitness experience, and non-members can drop in any time for just $5. We’ll thaw out soon enough, but until then, we hope you can get involved and stay involved as we continue to roll out programs through 2018. And if you missed out on these class - es and programs, be sure to watch for information about our spring programs either online at www.marengo -, at facebook. com/MarengoParkDistrict or by calling us at 815-568- 5126.

Spend some time at the Marengo Union Library when you get a chance. Check out some books, sure; or return the ones that are due. But sit down for a while and just watch the comings and the goings. Perhaps you’ve come for a special presentation of interest to you. You might be bringing your child for a club meeting, an art project, to play chess or Lego. Look around and see who else is at the library.

“It’s a happy place to be,” states Denise Hotchkiss, the Library’s Patron Services Coordinator. Because every library staffer wears several hats, Hotchkiss is also the library’s Cataloguer. Which brings up the question— what exactly is a Library catalogue these days?

Hotchkiss remembers seeing others enter book information onto cards that were filed in long thin drawers. Some of our older readers will remember these card catalogues. “People still refer to the card catalog,” she laughs. “But there aren’t any cards in drawers anymore. Everything is stored on computers, of course.” Hotchkiss spends a good amount of time with data entry and management. Each new book is catalogued in the computer, physically marked with a sticker to indicate it is new and placed in a special section of the library. After six months, she changes the book’s data to remove it from the list of new books. Its tag is removed and it gets a place in the regular library stacks.

Hotchkiss also enters all requests for new purchases in a computer spreadsheet where she can track the number of requests and verify when a book has been purchased.

So our library has views like the one in the photo above—a bank of computers flanked by shelves of books. “Libraries are evolving,” Hotchkiss remarks. While there are those who wonder if libraries are relevant anymore, she is a strong proponent of the idea of a bricks and mortar library. She insists, “We will always need libraries! At the library we can provide so much that people need—a place to work, technology, information, help, and most of all, contact with other people.”

Looking back to the 1970’s it seemed like there were a lot more dairy farms in the Marengo-Union area than there are today. The pastures were speckled with cows lazily grazing on green grassy hills. It was a tranquil scene, and occasionally the tranquility was broken for brief moments by the rumbling of trucks with shiny silver tanks shuttling fresh milk from the farms to the processing plants. Little-by little these farms disappeared. According to the book Lost Farms of McHenry County, in the early 1990’s McHenry County dairy farms numbered at around 140, and by 2009 that number dwindled to approximately 32.

The Marengo-Union area has a rich agricultural and dairy farming history, but unfortunately it wasn’t always tranquil and peaceful. During the early part of the 20th Century McHenry County was considered part of the Chicago Milk Shed or Milk District. As early as the 1880’s milk produced in McHenry County quenched the thirst of Chicagoans; and as one observer put it; “a river of milk was flowing down the railroad tracks to Chicago everyday…” The price of milk was negotiated by an organization that represented the farmers--the Milk Producers Association-- and the large Chicago milk companies like Bowman, Borden, Wieland, Wagner, Mix and Natoma-Huntley. These companies were often referred to as the “dealers,” and they would try to secure the lowest price. The perception that the dealers’ goal was to break the Milk Producers Association was widely held by the farmers. During the 1920’s and 1930’s the struggles between the milk producers and the milk dealers often resulted in milk strikes. This month I’m going to write about a particularly rough and violent year in our areas milk production history – 1924.

The last issue of the Marengo Republican News for the year 1923 reported ongoing negotiations between the dealers and the producers. Area farmers were asking for a six month contract price of $2.75 per hundred pounds. The milk dealers countered with a three month contract, but offered no price. As the negotiations continued the producers modified their request to $2.75 for a six month contract, or $2.85 for a three month contract. The smaller milk dealers were willing to accept these terms, but the large milk dealers offered $2.60 on a three month contract. The two sides were far apart, and on January 1, 1924, the farmers went on strike. The January 3, 1924, edition of the Marengo Republican News announced “Milk Strike is Declared, Big Dealers Refuse to Meet Demands of Producers, Strike is Ordered, Local Borden Plant Closed Yesterday.” This was not only a local strike limited to McHenry County; approximately 6,000 farmers participated from Northern Illinois, Southern Wisconsin, and Indiana.

The news of the strike didn’t reach all local farmers immediately. In Marengo some farmers made their deliveries to the Borden Plant on Tuesday the second day of the strike, but by the third day the news sufficiently spread and no deliveries were made resulting in a complete closure of the plant. Marengo area farmers were skimming their milk and feeding the skim to pigs. One by-one almost all of the 20 milk plants in McHenry County closed – the one exception was the plant in Union.

This did not sit well with the milk producers, and hundreds of picketers gathered in Union to block milk deliveries to the plant. The Union farmers turned to the Village government for help, and special officers were put in place to counter the picketers. Union farmers continued their milk deliveries, and no stories of violence or destruction of property were reported in the newspapers.

The two sides continued to meet in Chicago and attempt to negotiate agreeable terms, and after nearly fifteen days a compromise was made. In a marathon negotiations session that started at 8:15 p.m. on January 13, and lasted into the early morning hours of January 14, the farmer’s finally accepted $2.67 ½ per hundred pounds for the next three months; the two sides split the difference between the producers request of $2.75, and the dealers offer of $2.60. The dealers also agreed to an eight cent freight differential bonus for deliveries made within a fifty mile radius of Chicago.

Soon after the deal was reached Bowman Dairy decided to renege on the 8 cent bonus, tempers flared, and a threat to renew the strike was made. The City of Chicago and the milk dealers were under pressure from consumers whose anger was fueled by rumors that during the strike the big milk dealers were purchasing and distributing uninspected milk. Bowman Dairy finally caved in and the strike was finally settled.

As I mentioned earlier in this story 1924 was a rough and violent year for the region’s milk industry. As soon as the January strike was settled the participants were looking ahead three months into the future, and the farmers not completely satisfied with the settlement were threatening a spring milk strike. Next month I’ll continue on this topic and tell the readers how another 1924 milk strike eventually turned deadly in neighboring Garden Prairie.

Marengo Woman’s Club will be offering one $1,500.00 scholarship for 2018 graduating seniors in High School District 154 (Includes Marengo Community High School, Marian Central Catholic High School, Faith Lutheran High School and Homeschooled students). Application forms are now available at the high schools’ guidance offices. Application deadline is Friday, April 13, 2018.

Any questions regarding this scholarship application, please contact Cynthia Tomczyk, Marengo Woman’s Club Scholarship Chair at 815-568-1775.

Hard to believe it is February already, and after that bitterly cold spell- I am ready for Spring! One sign of Spring is the annual Union Fire Fighter's fund raiser. This year's event will be a meat raffle, held Saturday Feb 17, from 2 to 6 PM at Clasen’s in Union - and YES the big drawing will also take place! Please look for signs around town and info thru social media! Proceeds go to purchasing of small tools and items for the Union Fire Fighters, as well as to the community in donations and scholarships. Thank you in advance for your continued support!

I want to say good job to everyone in the community as we have had less cold weather related emergency calls this year, with fewer Carbon monoxide (CO) calls, and no fires to report - great job everyone! We all still need to remain vigilant until Winter is over, so let’s all work together to keep yourself, your family and pets safe.

I am sure you have noticed that the weather has been unpredictably ‘unpredictable’. As the area begins to warm up, please be cautious of the roads, as many of the back roads are uneven, have large pot holes and the shoulders are unstable muddy traps. There has also been some dense fog - so please be safe and keep alert, especially in the morning fog as there are kids getting on buses.

Everyone enjoy your February, hope to see you at our fund raising event and don’t forget your Valentine!

Over the past few months, the Marengo Fire/Rescue District has seen an increase for emergency services We have responded to several fires, motor vehicle accidents, and EMS calls. Chimney fires are one of the most common types of fires we see during the winter months. Homeowners should have their chimneys cleaned and inspected on a yearly basis to ensure creosote build up is removed from the chimney walls. Wood burners and fire places should never be left unattended while in use. Another common cause of fires during the winter months is the use of space heaters. While using space heaters, homeowners should keep them clear of any combustibles including near walls and furniture. One of the common failures with space heaters is the electrical cord. Homeowners should only utilize space heaters for short time use and never leave them unattended. At the last city council meeting, the Marengo Fire/Rescue Districts had the pleasure of awarding three life safety awards to members of the Marengo Police Department. Sgts. Paul Fritz, Adam Boyce, and Ofc. Andy Scheldgren responded to a fire at the corner of Rt. 20 and Locust. When they arrived, they were informed that a male resident was possibly inside the burning structure. The officers forced entry into the residence where they found the victim lying on the floor suffering from smoke inhalation and several burns. The officers removed the victim from the residence where they rendered care until emergency personnel arrived on scene. The actions of these three officers not only saved the life of the victim but are an example of the professionalism and dedication of the Marengo Police Department. We want to congratulate and thank these members for their service to our community. The Marengo Fire/Rescue Districts in February will also be starting are 13th Fire Academy. There are a few openings left in this year’s academy. Anyone interested in attending should apply by filling out an application and returning it to the station at 120 E. Prairie St. by February 10th. Any questions please contact us at 815-568-8912.

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.


Marengo Area News Briefs

Marengo Area News Briefs

MARENGO MAN KILLS WOMAN IN VEHICLE CRASH Brett Herold, 26, of Marengo, was charged with failure to reduce speed (Misdemeanor) and fleeing the...

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Voter Forum for Local Candidates Monday Oct 22

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