Everyone wanted to help with the replacement of playground equipment, especially those youngsters that couldn’t wait.

After the submission of more than 32,000 documents, affidavits and summary resolutions from three park district boards, Marengo Parks and Recreation Superintendent Joe Vallez was cleared of any implications of wrongdoing by the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund Board of Trustees, stemming from directorial positions with four park districts, including one on a full-time basis. The Aug. 16 determination allowed Vallez to remain eligible to participate in the state-funded pension, based on meeting the minimum required hours for the positions, by law.

During their Aug. 18 session, board members have requested further investigation be conducted, with an open-ended time. The Bensenville Parks Board voted 3-2 to hire Vallez last Dec. 21, as its interim director. The part-time position generated a short-term contract for under five months, at $6,000 per month. The appointment triggered the investigation through a complaint that Vallez was not meeting IMRF standards of working at least 1,000 hours annually in their position, for pension qualification.

He also heads the North Berwyn Park District on a full-time basis, as well as part-time director slots with the Justice and Marengo park districts.


U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin walks through the UniCarrier America plant with Dale Mark (L), and Pres. James Radous (R).


In a nearly 60-minute visit, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, cheered on factory workers and executives at the UniCarriers America Corp. manufacturing plant in Marengo for their growth and positive job attributes in producing a quality product in a highly competitive global forklift industry. His Aug. 21 appearance included an address to plant employees, a guided tour, and meeting with the corporation’s executives.

“I think the product can be important for our nation…that can compete on an international scale, but it’s being produced right here… in America,” said Durbin, during his plant address. “Produced by Americans, who are up to the task, and the job of competition.”


Construction of a new main pipeline that will bring municipal water to Railroad Street, and the property at 300 West LLC, now carries a tentative Sept. 5 start date. The long-delayed project is part of a settlement with the state of Illinois Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s been on the books, and all the costs for the project will be undertaken by Arnold Magnetic Technologies, Inc. and 300 West LLC,” said Josh Blakemore, Marengo’s assistant city manager. “They were also to provide funding that will reimburse the city for engineering studies that were completed, by our own city engineers. At this point, there is an outstanding $4,700 balance on that amount.”

Thanks to a group of extremely dedicated volunteers who pulled all the details together in record time; the Marengo Strong Community Day saw an incredible turnout at Indian Oaks Park last month.

Families who live near 7th Circle are still reeling more than a month after a home exploded in the early morning hours of June 11, leveling two homes and damaging dozens more. What’s followed has been an enormous outpouring of much-needed support, and the July 22 Marengo Strong Community Day is one of the latest examples.

After a tragedy as large as the June 11 explosion, it is difficult to see any bright spots of hope, but we are seeing glimmers of hope at the MORE Center. We have met with 56 of the 90 families impacted. Many gift cards and vouchers to local businesses have been given out.

Families are settling in to their “temporary” surroundings and they are back to work, or are looking ahead to school. Insurance is starting to kick in and plans are beginning to be made for repair or rebuild. Here at the Center, we witnessed an outpouring of sympathy from a community that wanted to help. Mountains of clothing and household items have been collected. Money is still coming in and the first checks have gone to the victims amounting to $81,500. And checks will continue to go out.

Day Dream Hair held a hair cutting fund raiser on July 9, 2017. Eight hair cutting chairs stayed full most of the day. There were girls who helped shampoo, blow dry, sweep, run the desk and collect raffle tickets. Also present were two massage therpists and a face painter— a total of 24 generous ladies.

Local businesses that donated prizes for the raffle included:

Avon-Ann Stone, Brandt’s Pharmacy, Donna’s Jewelry, Day Dream Hair & More, Ethereal Confections, Flatlanders, Glo-Bowl Fun Center, Hubbs Greenhouse, It’s All About You Hair Salon, Jarosch Bakery, Kay n’ Jo’s Eats & Sweets, Marengo Emporium, Marengo Shell, Marengo Tattoo & Piercing, Mary Kay-Sarah Bauman, Miss Kitty's Saloon, Nails by Kristin, New Beginnings Hair Design & More, On the Border, Paradise RV Resort, Stonebakers, 7 Mile Cycles, Tastefully Simple-Andrea Nichols Granias, Thirty-One-Heather Kloepfer, Wild Hare Salon

The hair stylists did 78 haircuts that day! With the haircuts, massages, face painting, raffles items, 50/50 raffle AND the stylist turned their tips in to go towards the Disaster Relief Fund, we were able to raise $3036! We are so thankful for all that attended this event!

Seventh Circle residents in Marengo on June 11, 2017, mourned the St. Clair family for 20 minutes when they saw the flattened house that had exploded. They could see the burned family vehicle. Mike, Dawn and the kids had been on vacation, but must have come home early.

On vacation in California, Mike was awakened at 3:15 a.m. by a call from neighbor Julie Osler. “We’re all fine,” he reassured her in answer to her frantic query.

“Mike, your house is gone. It’s just gone.”

The St. Clairs, like their Seventh Circle neighbors, had just entered a new reality.

“Unwind like it’s 1899” was the theme of the 32nd Annual Heritage Fair hosted by the McHenry County Historical Museum on Sunday, July 9. The fair’s theme is a reflection of the museum’s newest exhibit “Waterways and Getaways: Resort Life in McHenry County” which recently opened.

The car show, which always accompanies the Heritage Fair, was organized and run by TJ’s Klassics. Tony Luscalzo, owner of TJ’s Klassics, said, “There are 115 cars registered and 25 cars that didn’t register for the show. This is a premiere show. It’s like the old days where everyone parks everywhere. It’s not a parking lot show. It’s a great family show with food and activities, door prizes and everything. It’s a great downtown show.” The show offered prizes for the top 20 cars, a Best of Show trophy and a People’s Choice trophy.

The James mobile museum was on hand for visitors to explore and the Clef Hangers Barbershop Quartet wandered here and there serenading everyone within hearing distance. DJ Jose Ramos, spun oldies for the outdoor crowds and made the announcements for upcoming attractions and events at the fair, announced the door prize winners, and more.

The White Elephant Sale spilled out of its Main Street warehouse onto the sidewalks to meet up with the Plant Sales around the corner on Washington Street. Food vendors, including the Boy Scouts, sold brats, burgers, hot dogs, ice cream cones, lemonade, soda, and water for the hungry and thirsty. A wide variety of antiques was auctioned by Russ Davis who also auctioned the first place winning pie from the Pie Baking Contest.

Activities for children included a turn-of-the-century crafts area which offered creative activities such as making wooden necklaces, cornhusk dolls, and button spinners, as well as introducing kids to activities such as washing clothes by hand and shucking corn.

Puppeteer David Herzog brought an entire pirate crew of hand-crafted marionettes to the stage in a show designed to entertain young and old alike. “Dave Herzog’s Marionettes is a full time professional puppet company dedicated to preserving this uniquely American art form of the marionette variety show,” said Kurt Begalka.

Next on stage was Freddie Fredericks’ Magic Show with its comedic magical acts. Doc Morrissey and Freddie Fredericks spent time making children happy by creating balloon hats, animals, swords, and fun before the show began. Then things started to appear and disappear, change their appearance, and cause smiles to appear on every face.

Once again, the annual Heritage Fair took over the Village of Union and provided a little something to please everyone who came to visit. Further information can be found on the McHenry County Historical Museum’s website, www.gohistory. org, or on their Facebook page at McHenry County Historical Society.

Members of Hidden Path Arts competition team recently competed at the Amateur Athletic Union National competition. Many members were awarded medals and all of the athletes competed at an extremely high level. Hidden Path Arts was awarded top 20 club status by the AAU. Not pictured : Rick and Randy Cartwright, Danny Antonson, Senseis Kim and Rob Bauman. Medals: Samantha Murray kobudo silver kumite silver, Randy Cartwright kobudo gold and silver kata gold, Rick Cartwright kobudo gold kata bronze kumite bronze, Cole Younger kobudo gold kata bronze kumite gold, Jake Doyle kobudo gold kata silver kumite silver, Max Doyle kumite bronze ippon kumite bronze, Bryan Euker kumite bronze, Tyler Rife kobudo silver kata bronze

Jerry Criscione (left) and employee Mike Olson with the 1970 Cutlass 442 W30 they are restoring.

Jerry Criscione is a happy man. He’s doing what he loves—working on cars. This is what he’s enjoyed most in life ever since he was a kid tinkering with cars with his father and grandfather. He enjoyed it so much and was so good at it, that it became his life’s work. He learned the basics and got his work ethic from his grandfather and even—to this day—has some of his tools and uses them. He went on for formal training and certification to do car collision repairs and made his living doing this all his adult life.

He set up his shop at 801 W. Grant Highway in Marengo in 2011. As always, he was running a business doing collision work. But also as always, he was doing car restoration work on the side. That was where his heart always was. Restoring classic cars gets Criscione’s blood singing.


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