This meeting occurred in the home of Mr. Bert Emerson director of Marengo Civil Defense in the 1955.Left to right are Bert Emerson, Harold Hyde, US Air Force Sgt. Thompson, and John Gatenby. The men were discussing recruiting volunteers for Marengo’s Ground Observation Corps. Some of the best history resides inside of peoples’ heads. It’s the experiences and memories that we have, but don’t write down.V

An emergency 911 call was made at 10:51 a.m. Nov. 14, from the owner of a barn located at 25208 River Road in rural Marengo, alerting authorities to a fire in the structure. Personnel and equipment from the Marengo Fire Protection District were dispatched to the site, along with requests for resource assistance by other departments through the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System. Fire crews eventually left at approximately 12:40 p.m., with only salvaged lumber and the foundation stones remaining.. Records indicate the barn was built in 1897 by R. B. Willard, and although partially collapsed in the middle, it was the oldest remaining example of “round-style barn” construction extant left in the state of Illinois. Historic barn and storage structures are part of the agricultural legacy in McHenry County, along with having the distinction of being the first silo ever built in the United States. “It was a round barn, collapsed already in the center,” said Fire Chief Robert Bradbury, of the Marengo Fire Protection District. “It was going to be torn down. The gentleman reclaiming the wood had a little fire going, to burn excess wood. That was what caught the barn on fire. Winds changed on him, and no investigation is taking place, based on his statement.” "There were several fire protection districts that responded including us, the Union Fire Protection District, Harvard…Capron came with an ambulance, but there were no injuries. The Woodstock Fire and Rescue District came out too, but they turned around,” he said. “All that’s left there is the stone foundation of the barn.” The collapse allegedly occurred in 2008, under the weight of a winter snowfall. Scheduled to be torn down, the individual on-site, Rick Rath, had been given permission to gather the barn wood. According to reports, several posts had been reclaimed when the wind shifted on the fire and caught onto the barn. The property owner was in another field harvesting crop, at the time, and not in the immediate area. "Back in the day, I wrote a story about that barn…even poked my head up into the loft, although the floor was already getting bad, twenty years ago,” said Kurt Begalka, the Mc Henry County Historical Society’s administrator. “The cupolas on the roof had fallen off and were so cockeyed that water was getting in. That is the beginning of the end for barns. However, as I wrote about in the column, there are ways to nip this in the bud…provided you don’t let it go too far. “Metal roofs can be placed directly over the shingles. I’ve seen it done,” he said. “It saddens me because these barns are a piece of history, most from an era when it was more important to have electric lights in the milking parlor than in the living room.” The barn’s story was told in the “Mc Henry County Self-Guided Barn Tour,” a celebration of “The Year of the Barn,” distributed by the Union-based historical society in 1997. “The round barn…stands in stark contrast to its gable and gambrel-roof counterparts along this tour. A 1901 Marengo newspaper article extols its virtues as ‘the most convenient barn in northern Illinois because it contains more room for the lumber consumed and the money expended than any barn ever constructed in this part of the country.’ This tri-level barn is 240’ in circumference and sits atop a 2’ fieldstone foundation. The lower level was designed to house horses and cattle. “It offered iron racks for hay, iron feed boxes, and iron boxes for salt. The second level was designed for milking 64 dairy cows. There was a circular granary in the center of the barn, loft space (on the third floor) for 200 tons of hay, and a permanent corn crib for 3,000 bushels of corn. The whole barn was ventilated with a 2-foot square air shaft which extended 80 feet from the lower level to the cupola on the roof. Milk was stored in milk cans in a cement vat and cooled with water from the well. “Following the Civil War, such things as louvers, ventilators, silos, sliding doors, manure carriers, hayfork tracks, and lightning rods (all designed to increase safety, sanitation, and air circulation) were added to barns. Although extolled during its time, the round barn was not easy to construct, clean, or fill with hay. Very few round barns were built in this county, and very few remain.”XXXX The cryptic last sentence also extends to a forgotten piece of history…the former Hatch Farm, now on inaccessible private property. The 1997 guidebook said, “The first upright silo built in the United States was located on the outskirts of Spring Grove in Burton Township. Erected inside a barn, it was built by Fred Hatch, and his father, Lewis. Lasting until 1980, portions of the rock and mortar foundation are the only existing traces.” Over the decades, even those foundation traces have disappeared, broken down by the elements or buried. What does remain are outbuildings and an octagonal (eight-sided) barn that Hatch built in the 1840s enclosing a feed mill and grain stalls where hay and grain were stored above. The Lyle Thomas Park and Landing, along Nippersink Creek at the Blivin Street Bridge, west of Main Street in Spring Grove, has a small square. A bronze plaque and pillar depicting the Hatch Silo was placed there by the county historical society as a landmark site, and recounts the silo’s unique tale of construction. Such history now lives only in books and dogeared photographs. “A few years back, the village of Marengo tore down a pristine, rainbow-truss (open span) barn to make room for a salt storage facility,” said Begalka. “They are not building any more historic barns. Ironically, their future may hinge on the use of modern roofing materials and the willingness of preservationists and pragmatists to compromise. That way, history retains a rightful place at the table.”

Walking out of school after your last final before Christmas break is a great feeling, but for Brighton Martin, it was really awesome; his big brother was there to surprise him. Easton Martin had been away since August for Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. On a short holiday leave, his first stop was to see his best friend. In his 6-year commitment to the Army National Gaurd, Easton will graduate Basic Combat Training, then move on to his MOS (military occupation specialty) training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for 12N Horizontal Construction Engineering. As he fulfills his duties to the National Guard he plans to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering

Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the mail, ThHe catalogs started arriving, on schedule, without fail… Nothing takes away the chill of January days like paging through glossy, colorful seed catalogs full of the promise of spring. Now is the ideal time to begin planning for the spring and summer garden. Following a few guidelines for catalog seed shopping will net good results and save money (unless you get carried away). Create a realistic plan for your needs. Inventory the seeds that you have. You may want to perform a germination test on any seeds that you have had more than three to four years. Unless you want to grow something different or try a new variety will the seeds you have be appropriate for your needs? XXXXXPlant your grocery list. Plant things that you eat all the time throughout the summer or that you’ll store for winter—tomatoes, herbs (which can be pricey at the supermarket), peas, carrots, peppers, lettuce, potatoes, beets, etc. Plant flowers for pollinators and bouquets. Not only do certain blooms act as natural pest control, they also attract valuable pollinators to the garden that will help boost your edible yield. Bees and hummingbirds love them. Buy with consideration for the appropriate conditions. What growing zone and soil is required. (Marengo is in zone 5b). Do the plants require full sun or partial shade? Do plants have resistance to common diseases and pests. Consider days to maturity. Seed packages have information about days to maturity, meaning how long the seed will take to grow into a fully mature plant. Make selections of varieties with different days to maturity to provide harvests through the season. Be mindful of shipping costs. Companies can vary a great deal for shipping charges. Know the whole cost, not just the price of the seeds. Concentrate on ordering from fewer catalogs to save money. Finally, order early. To ensure that you get the seeds you want, don’t wait to order. Some seed catalogs alert customers that new varieties tend to sell out quickly.


Marengo Cheerleaders placed 2nd at the Warren Township Winter Wonderland Competition on December 16, 2018. In January, the cheerleaders will be competing at multiple competitions! Come and cheer them on next at the KRC conference competition on Wednesday, January 16th at 7 pm at Johnsburg High School. They will also be at Huntley High School on January 20th at 11 a.m. and at the IHSA Regional Competition on January 26th at Grayslake North High School

KELLY CAMP LEADERSHIP AWARD Coach Kelly Camp served as the Head Football Coach at Marengo High School from 1980 - 1998. Coach Camp finished his career at Marengo with 98 wins, which included seven quarterfinal appearances. The Indian Football Program finished second in state in 1992. Coach Camp enriched the lives of a countless number of students at MCHS. The 2018 Kelly Camp Award was awarded to Colton Ervin. Throughout the year, Colton proved he was a valuable, dedicated, and responsible member of our school and athletic programs. Colton suffered a knee injury, which cost him most of the season. He was able to get back in the lineup during the Indians playoff run, and proved to be an excellent long snapper. During his time at Marengo Community High School, Colton has asserted himself as an academic as well an athletic leader. This award reflects his willingness to serve others, do what’s best for the team, and inspire our program with enthusiasm. Colton Ervin has earned the respect of our football team, and served as an exemplary role model for future Indian football players for years to come.

With their previous agreement having effectively expired with the Aug. 13 start of the 2018-19 academic year, both the Riley Consolidated District 18 School Board and the Riley Teachers Association have been meeting regularly and working toward the completion of a new contract. However, a major problem unfolding an accord involves the “lane change” pay increases for advanced education which have not been applied.

The Nov. 19 school board meeting was attended by an estimated 35 people with an overall atmosphere of support for the concerns of the teachers including out-of-pocket expenses incurred with supplies for the classroom, as well as the pay increases being a hindrance to the “family environment” between teachers, students, and community. At issue are several teachers that pursued advanced education and not been given pay upgrades, as allowed through the previous contracts. Although the lack of a new contract has temporarily reverted binding understandings to the previous stipulations, the continued education and its benefits are a source of contention.

“This is the third time, since Aug., I have asked for the lane change, with no response,” said teacher Carole Mortimer, during the meeting’s public comment section. “The option is open (for litigation). I’m giving a good faith effort for the board to make the right decision. I will fight for what I’m due and will file when I feel the time is right.” Mortimer is seeking the increase, after earning a Master’s degree, while Gretchen Mallegna, another teacher who also earned a Master’s degree, eventually settled with the board. Close to retirement, Teresa Wistead and Cathi Kunde have both taught for nearly 26 years, and earned nine credit hours through Master’s level course work to qualify for the “lane change.”

Six other audience members spoke at the meeting, all in support of the teachers. “I’m retired, after teaching for thirty years, and in my opinion, this is about integrity,” said Carol Kallal. “They’ve earned the (degrees) and are entitled to what they should be earning. This is shameful. This is my life, and teachers are my family.”

Following the meeting, District Superintendent Christine Conklin spoke about the efforts on both sides in working toward mutual goals. “As a board, they believe in the process and they don’t want to do anything to hinder either side from dealing in good faith,” she said. “It’s a process.” Board member Don Coffman, noted, “We started negotiations back in March, to get out ahead of this process and the negotiations. They made a counter-proposal Nov. 8, and we, in turn, made another proposal to the union. The school board held a special meeting Nov. 12 to discuss it. We met with the teachers Nov. 14. At this point, the ball is in their court to do this.”

The association’s Co-President, Richelle Lagerstrom, also a member of the negotiating team, confirmed the Nov. 8 proposal made to the board, and indicated that in some areas, the wording of the old contract negatively impacted the ability for the “lane change.” “The understanding was that if you received a Masters, or other course work, you moved into lanes for another pay scale,” she said. “We’re currently bargaining mid-stream, with no contract…both sides are engaging in their due diligence. We both want to finalize this contract and walk away holding up our heads knowing that they accomplished most of their goals.” Lagerstrom said that the need for re-organizing was evident with the recent changes in Teacher’s Retirement System, a state-monitored agency overseeing an “off-the-top” set percentage, from educators’ paychecks, toward their pensions Enacted by the state legislature, the pension code now mandates the TRS to offer all retiring Tier 1 members a onetime irrevocable change in the automatic annual increase to their TRS pensions, as well as an accelerated pension benefit payment. Additionally, the “threshold” for employee contributions on year-to-year salary increases was reduced from 6 percent to 3 percent, should pay increases affect the member’s initial pension. It has been intimated that questions were raised by the teacher’s association as to how contract sticking points, individual pay scale changes through advanced education, and the newly-augmented TRS guidelines would enter into negotiations.

Riley Consolidated District 18 is a union school serving 298 students with a teacher- to-student ratio of 13:1, significantly below the state average of 16:1. “Teachers and staff haven’t been getting the support they deserve,” said Mallegna. “Most of the teachers have been here for twenty years, there is a great rapport between everyone, like family. This situation hurts everyone.”

Marengo-Union Junior Tackle Football Club (MUJTFC) would like to Thank Chad Miller for his many years of Commitment to the league. Chad retired in November from MUJTFC after 24 years with the program. Chad joined MUJTFC prior to having any children of his own and lead his three sons(Bailey,Cameron, and Logan) through the program. Chad’s wife, Dyan, also dedicated her time to the league. The Miller’s spent their weekends on the football field mentoring young children. Chad coaching and Dyan overseeing concessions. Both helped to build the program to what it is today. Thank you, Millers, for all the time, hard work, commitment, and dedication you gave to our Marengo youth. Many Thanks from Your Friends & Family at MUJTFC

The Marengo Indians (9-3) played toeto- toe with IC Catholic Prep for most of the first half until IC Catholic Prep scored with less than a minute left to pull ahead en route to a 49-27 win in the IHSA Class 4A quarterfinal playoff at the Elmhurst school’s home field. The Nov. 10 contest brought the curtain down on a stellar 2018 season, which saw Marengo capture the Kishwaukee River Conference title.

The Knights (14-0) had won two straight IHSA Class 3A championships, and eventually took the Class 4A in their first year of competition at that level, with a Nov. 24 win, 31-20 over Bishop Mc Namara. The Indians held their own and more in the first quarter with Finn Schirmer (27 rushes, 172 yards, 2 TDs) grabbing a 77-yard pass from quarterback Travis Knaak (12 passes, 149 yards, 2 TDs) at just under the two-minute mark, and the defense blocking a punt for a TD score to negate ICC’s 15-0 lead.

ICC’s Kyle Franklin (27-312, 6 TDs), scored his second TD at the 8-minute mark of the second quarter, followed by Knaak and the offense working the ball downfield that finished with his 3-yard TD run at 2:52, putting the score at 22-20 for ICC. Franklin snuck into the end zone from 4 yards out, with less than a minute remaining in the half, for a 29-20 ICC lead. The third quarter found the Marengo offense virtually shut down with 8 yards, while grudgingly allowing only a 57-yard TD run by Franklin as the only points allowed. The Indians played hard, with Franklin scoring twice more to put the game out of reach in the final quarter. Schirmer added a 4-yard TD run at 5:31 to close out the scoring.

After Marengo missed the playoff in 2017, this season’s mark of a KRC title and deep playoff run brought success and accomplishment, with an eye toward next year.


The Marengo Indians varsity girls basketball team took two games in the annual Burlington Central Thanksgiving Tournament beating Belvidere North 60-45, and Woodstock 65-41.

In the Nov. 16 contest against the Blue Streaks, Marissa Knobloch (25 points) had 2 treys and 15 points in the first quarter.

The three-point basket parade continued with Jennifer Heinberg (16) sinking four 3’s. Hannah Ritter (8), and Jordan Parker (7) were the other high scorers.

The Indians (3-2) also defeated Prairie Ridge 54-48, overcoming a 15-6 first quarter deficit.

The squad opened the 2018 campaign with losses to Mc Henry 58-43, and Geneva 61-49. Varsity coach Nick Rode was asked about the team and the season, so far: “We are a very athletic group capable of both defending and scoring well, that’s what has me most excited about our potential. Playing top-notch competition brings out what we need to work on. That includes making contact on screens, and getting physical when boxing out to create rebounding space.”

Regarding the conference schedule, Rode is confident in the team’s abilities. “Getting more bruises on our arms and legs, that will be a direct correlation to our record. I think we can play with anyone in the conference. Last season, we had wins against the two projected top teams in Burlington Central and Johnsburg. We return seven experienced players from last season and have high expectations…I think a surprise team could be Richmond- Burton.”

Rode also believes practice strategies and game preparation are two important components to a successful team. “We have drill clusters that we do that all have the purpose of teaching principles…we practice these quite often. From there, we try to have very competitive segments for rebounding and defensive closeouts. Our process to prepare for opponents involves finding willing coaches on our schedule to trade films. We generally like to watch film of an opponent a week in advance, and it allows us to work on the things we will need to do well, during practices leading up to the games.”


Boys Varsity Basketball: (Nov. 23) Dean Riley Thanksgiving Tournament Oak Forrest wins over Marengo 52-50; Marengo beats Streator Township 53-50. Boys Varsity Wrestling: (Nov. 20) Loss At Winnebago High School 37-36 Indian wins…Danny Chicoine (220), Logan Reed/pin (120), Jake Doyle/pin (145), Stan Dawiec/pin (160), Sebastian Palka/ pin (170), Michael Macias/pin (182). Boys Varsity Bowling: (Nov. 15) Marengo Win against Belvidere 3,039-3,075 (Game 1) Marengo 953,Belvidere 1,020; (Game 2) Marengo 1,071,Belvidere 945; (Game 3) Marengo 1,051,Belvidere 1,074. Jim Faber bowls 251 in third game; Josh Streu and J Mortimer each bowl 574 series. Girls Varsity Bowling: (Nov. 26) De Kalb High School away (no score at press time)

It has become a tradition for our December column to offer up gift ideas for gardeners. Books make the very best gifts! This year ease the holiday shopping challenge by giving gardeners on your list a book. There many fantastic books available. Following are some of our favorite recommendations.

One of our first and most useful gardening books is Edward C. Smith’s, The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible. For someone new to food gardening, this is a great place to start. Smith’s advice is practical and helpful. He covers each crop in detail, with planting schedules and tips, growing information, and pest and disease management. This book is valuable to the novice or the veteran gardener.

Craig LeHoullier’s Epic Tomatoes, the result of decades of experience cultivating and breeding tomatoes, guides readers through all aspects of growing tomatoes. From staking to disease prevention to fertilizing, as well as collecting and saving seeds, this book covers it comprehensively. Epic Tomatoes features over 200 of the best tomato varieties for the home garden. While it is beautiful enough to sit on the coffee table this work will be a much-used resource.

The ideal book for small-space and container gardeners, Container Gardening Complete by Jessica Walliser provides practical advice on cultivation, plant selection, drainage, irrigation, watering concerns and managing common pests and diseases, to inspiring projects and design. This is a great guide for all kinds of growing in containers.

Another great book is Rhonda Massingham Hart’s Vertical Vegetables and Fruit. This book will guide those short on gardening space by introducing the advantage of vertical acreage. Hart offers the how-to of making food grow up in many creative ways. Growing vertically is also helpful for those who have physical challenges that limit mobility.

Companion Planting for the Kitchen Gardener by Allison Greer explains the principles of companion planting, how plants interact, and how you can use that information to your garden’s benefit. There is an entire chapter devoted to each of the fifteen most popular vegetables, with charts, diagrams, and descriptions. The book is complemented with photography by Tim Greer.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and great gardening new year.




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