Last month I spoke about area volunteers and had many people say thanks for that article. In that article I alluded to a new addition to the Union Fire Protection District fleet. The new apparatus is a 2016 UTV Polaris ranger 6x6, now identified as Union 1595. You may have seen 1595 around town or in recent parades. Several 100 man hours have been logged by LT Brandon Camp over several months modifying and outfitting 1595 to be the ultimate Fire Fighting search and rescue apparatus for the community! FF Ron Moritz provided many hours of his expertise in the finite details of running wires and honing in on the water propulsion of this very capable machine. Together these two equipped and outfitted 1595 with a 100- gallon water reservoir, pump and the necessary firefighting tools. This labor was at very little to no cost to the tax payers, as they volunteered much of their time to this task.

Even before 1595 was completed it had proven its capabilities in an early Spring grass fire that required driving thru a marsh of 6-12 inch water and mud. 1595 performed flawlessly without any hesitation - nothing stopped 1595 from rising to the task! This work horse can be used year round, in all weather conditions, on and off road, to enhance search and rescue efforts as well as firefighting operations. We will be able to provide services to DNR, on the bike trail, and to the many open fields and land in and around Union where our grass rigs simply cannot go. Parked on a trailer, 1595 can be ready in a moment’s notice to be used to assist neighboring communities. Hats off to Lt Brandon Camp and FF Ron Moritz for your dedication!

I would like to do a shout out to a recent addition to our dedicated staff of Fire Fighters – recently Mike Paige, a retired fire chief joined our ranks as a volunteer. Since joining the department Mike has helped us to navigate the certification process with the state, and Union Fire now has 4 members certified as Advanced Fire Fighters, and 6 certified Vehicle Machinery operations technicians! With his help we will gain further experience providing more value to the District. I am excited about Mike’s dedication to the betterment of the Union Fire Dept! Thanks again to all of our volunteers!

Since we are now approaching the fall – please be on the lookout for farm equipment, and let’s share the road! Enjoy your Fall!

An Illinois Department of Transportation resurfacing project inadvertently contributed to numerous traffic accidents and a truck roll- over that occurred Aug. 16 and Aug. 21, along Route 176 and its northern intersection with Route 47. A primer liquid placed on the road, ahead of the actual re- surfacing, resulted in a wet top and a loss of traction after several rainstorms dotted the area.

Vehicles attempting to stop at the traffic signal instead found themselves in an uncontrollable slide. More than one dozen vehicles were pulled onto the shoulder, and on the adjacent frontage of Pleasant Valley Road, along with a jack-knifed truck that had rolled into a culvert Aug. 16. The Lakewood Police Department and the Mc Henry County Sheriff ’s Department responded to the service calls. Emergency Medical Technicians also transported some individuals to a nearby hospital via ambulance.

“There was a type of oil on the surface of the roadway, they were in the process of paving, and with the rain, it was not a good mix,” said Lakewood Police Chief Mike Roth. “We received calls about 6:39 p.m., and responded to about three accidents. People were trying to apply their brakes and there was no traction. There was a jack-knifed truck, outside of our jurisdiction, in the county area, there was a passenger car rollover… however, there were no significant injuries.

“We had it happen again, a few days later, on Aug. 21, where there were three accidents in a row,” he said. “Our village administrator (Jeannine Smith) met with IDOT officials Aug. 23, and the situation was corrected.” The resurfacing project encompassing Route 176, from terminus points at Route 23 in Marengo to Route 47, began last July. An IDOT press release, issued July 11, stated, “The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced that a resurfacing project will take place on Illinois 176 between Illinois 23 and Illinois 47, in Marengo, be- ginning, weather permitting, the week of July 9.

"In order to complete the work, intermittent daytime lane closures will take place on Illinois 176, with flaggers to direct motorists through the work zone. Nighttime lane closures also will be necessary at times. The project is expected to be completed in Fall 2018. Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. Drivers are urged to pay close attention to flaggers and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits and be on the alert for workers and equipment.”

IDOT District 1 Communications Officer Guy Tridgell said, “What happened (Aug. 16-21) was a step, just prior to resurfacing. The material, a primer, became slick during the rain. There were also some additional signs that we placed in the area, when this occurred. Also, on some of the more traveled areas, there was sand placed on the surface. Going forward, we’re planning to sand all the intersections just to provide more traction, just in case.”

The Rondout-based firm of Peter Baker and Son was named contractor for the project, out of the jobletting bid process, awarded the job order on a bid of $2.4 million.

The primer coat applied to the roadway normally takes up to 4 hours to cure and settle, based on humidity and weather conditions.

"We think that whatever issues were experienced should be mitigated now that they’ve begun placing the final surface material and paving until the project is complete,” said Tridgell. “As mentioned…there was a primer placed on the road surface in anticipation of the resurfacing beginning shortly, based on expected weather conditions at the time. When the department became aware of the slick conditions, additional signs were put in place and sand was applied to improve traction.

“Based on feedback received from local law enforcement, excessive speeds contributed to some of the incidents,” he said. “We would like to remind the public to be especially careful traveling near, and through, work zones. Equipment can be present and conditions can change, requiring slower speeds and the full attention of drivers. The intersection is being paved beginning Aug. 23, with a new surface.”

A section on the IDOT website offers instructions on the claims process: http://www.idot.illinois. gov/travel-information/report-a-problem/claims/index

IDOT District 1 Construction Manager John Schumacher had no comment on the issue, at this time. The Mc Henry County Sheriff ’s Department communications officer was also not available for comment.

Each spring as plants and seeds go into the soil, there is much anticipation of the bounty that will arise from the fertile earth. First harvests begin in a piecemeal pattern with more variety arriving later in the summer. Eating seasonally, eating locally and eating organically is easier than ever with our home gardens and farmers’ markets.

Although the weather has delayed fruit set and growth in many gardens this year, produce is beginning to ripen and offer up delicious options for the summer table. Zucchini and cucumbers are beginning to overwhelm the kitchen. The family cook is challenged to discover new recipes to use up the abundance. Those long-awaited tomatoes are beginning to arrive along with beautiful eggplants, peppers, beans, sweet corn and early potatoes.

On a recent trip to the farmers’ market we could not resist the purple cauliflower and purple cabbage that looked so pristine and inviting.

It doesn’t get much better than this! In August the garden is full of variety and tantalizing tastes. For us gardening chefs the objective is to consume or preserve everything that our efforts have yielded. Summer barbeques feature a luscious rainbow of heirloom tomatoes with fragrant basil and succulent sweet corn. Meals might include colorful stir-fries of peppers, onions, broccoli and beans, whatever has come in from the garden that afternoon. A chilled smooth gazpacho combines tomatoes, onion, peppers and cucumbers.

Many gardeners can or freeze extra produce. Cucumbers transform into bread and butter pickles or quick refrigerator pickles. Tomatoes can be frozen whole or made into pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or salsa. Local farmers’ markets are a wonderful source of produce to preserve for later use.

Neighbors and friends without gardens will always welcome fresh offerings from your garden and even a jar of pickles. Do not forget your local food pantry if the garden harvest exceeds what you are able to use. Check with the food pantry first to learn what days of the week they can accept your donation. August is a month of garden abundance. Take advantage of it!

Robert Lopez has qualified for the Motocross Nationals.

“Would you like to cover this?” the Marengo-Union Times editor asked. We’d gotten an e-mail from a Mom about her son. He was going to be in a bike race, and he’d been racing since he was 4. “This is a big deal for motocross racers,” she wrote.

I went to meet the little boy. I was wrong. This is no little boy. Robert Lopez, son of Robert and Suellen Lopez of Union, started motocross racing at age 4 because his Dad is a motocross racer. He is now 17 and is racing at the championship level. His younger brother, Mario, also started racing at a young age and continues to compete. Both boys are part of the American Motocross Association which sponsors local and regional races all over the country. Robert, a junior at Marengo Community High School, and Mario, a freshman, have between them, nearly filled a room with the trophies they have won.

Robert’s Mom was right. This is a big deal! For the first time in his career, Robert has qualified to race in the Loretta Lynn Amateur Motocross National Challenge at Hurricane Mills, TN. This event will be held July 28-August 4, 2018. Over the week there will be competitions at many age levels and bike sizes. Robert will be racing in the 250 C Junior Race. He is also an alternate for the 125 C Junior event.

Motocross racing involves travelling and camping for the whole Lopez family, which consists of five boys ranging in age from 7 to 17 and their parents. Dad, Robert has been a motocross enthusiast all his life. He has even built a motocross track complete with jumps, on their property in Union. Mom, Suellen, who is principal of Locust School in Marengo, shares interest in the sport and the enjoyment of family camping.

“We’ve travelled all over the country for races,” explained Robert. He mentioned Texas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio and Arkansas. Of course, the biggest attraction is the race in Tennessee. “We’ll get there early,” Robert remarked, “so we can scope out the track.”

What keeps a boy interested in a sport that he started when he was 4? Robert’s face lights up as he talks about motocross racing. “I love the adrenaline rush and the speed, and of course, winning.” People are important to Robert as well. He enjoys meeting all the kids in the races. He also spoke about how important his dad, and his dad’s friend Bob Behrins are to him. “Bob is my mechanic, and he still races himself. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him and my dad.”

Robert expects to keep racing all his life, following in his Dad’s footsteps. Will he start his kids racing at a young age? “Oh yeah,” he replied. “I hope they like it as much as I do.”

O’Neil Swanson was awarded this year’s scholarship from Marengo Youth Wrestling Club. Pictured are Brian Wroble (president of MYWC), O’Neil Swanson and Chad Miller (head coach).

Calling Gayle Voss a Chicago Phenomenon is no exaggeration. Since 2010 she’s been a mainstay at several Chicago and suburban Farmers’ Markets, selling varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches. In 2016 she opened her shop in the Block 37 pedway on State Street. There are judges, politicians and entertainers among her regular customers. Travelers from as far away as Dubai and Shanghai report that they wouldn’t make a business trip to Chicago without stopping at Gayle V’s for some grilled cheese.

“When I was first in business, I was using 10 loaves of bread per week,” Voss reports. “Now I use 50 to 60 loaves per day!”

Did this enterprising woman always dream of selling grilled cheese sandwiches? Not at all! Voss had a home business doing accounting for small businesses. One of her clients was veterinarian Brian Gerloff, who became interested in promoting working dairy farms. He hooked up with farmers Todd and Brenda Aves of Belvidere to start Prairie Pure Cheese, which was sold at area farmers’ markets. Voss began to help selling cheese.

At the popular Green City Market her booth was next to the Bennington Bread of Evanston booth. Nordic Creamery from Westby, WI was selling fresh butter at its booth. “Let’s make some grilled cheese sandwiches,” Voss proposed. The small offering of what is now The Classic sandwich offered at her booth and in her shop, was snapped up in a few minutes. Soon those sandwiches were so popular at the Green City Market that lines would form and Voss needed more and more help making the sandwiches on the spot.

From that small beginning, an amazing network of support of local businesses has grown. “Cheese sandwiches with a mission” laughs Voss. The ingredients for the eight to ten different grilled cheese sandwiches offered at any given time, are all locally sourced. Gayle V’s supports 24 small businesses from this region. If an ingredient isn’t local, she won’t use it. “Customers sometimes ask for avocados,” Gayle remarks. “They aren’t grown in the Midwest, so they can’t be on my sandwiches.”

Voss brings her sandwiches to four different farmers’ markets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. She spends Fridays at her store. She has 19 employees that help her run her operation like an incredibly well-oiled machine. But it’s clear that this dynamo of a little woman bears the bulk of the labor load. Her husband Gary is her most important behind-the- scenes worker, but he has a full-time job of his own at O’Hare Airport. So Gayle drives out of Union at 4:00 a.m. every morning. “I work so hard,” Voss exclaims, “But I don’t care. I love every minute!”

Voss has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and Northwest Herald. She’s appeared on WGN TV several times. We can all see her in action making her new “Breakfast Club” sandwiches, on WGN’s show “Chicago’s Best” on Sunday evening August 12 at 10 p.m. 

The Marengo Community Farmers Market has been going strong this year and we’ve added many new vendors and farms to our weekly lineup. The support from our community and neighboring communities has been great and shows no signs of slowing down. Once a month we host a special themed market to keep things fresh and exciting. We are very excited to announce that on August 25, 2018 we will be having our “Picnic in the Park” themed market, which will include many fun activities. Chief Solarz and Sergeant Fritz, with the Marengo Police Department, have agreed to be in the dunk tank at this market to help raise money for the farmers market! For those unaware, the Marengo Community Farmers Market is not run by the City of Marengo, or the Marengo/Union Chamber of Commerce, but rather by a private group of citizens, who created a 501(c)3, Community First Project, Inc, with the goal of restoring Marengo and making it a better place! This year, the farmers market brought back the hanging flower baskets to the downtown area for the first time in 10 years! The flowers were bought and paid for, by the market and donated to the city. 3 members of the market committee also volunteered their time to plant all 28 baskets, so the city workers could hang them. In addition, the watering of those baskets is done by members of the farmers market committee. In 2017 we were able to raise $1,100 for Marengo FFA at our “Fall Fest” market. Week after week, these volunteers, work to make this a great thing for both the City as a whole as well as the people who live here. As always, we appreciate your support and hope to see you on August 25th!

McHenry County’s history ground zero is November 18, 1834 – that’s the date when the first permanent settler, Samuel Gillilan, came from Virginia and settled on the west side of the Fox River in Algonquin Township. The Gillilan party consisted of Samuel, his wife Margaret, their nine children, and several others. Gillilan himself didn’t participate too long in shaping our county’s history because he passed away a few years later on September 6, 1837. Soon after Gillilan’s arrival more settlers followed = first setting up their farms, then various institutions such as schools, churches, businesses, and communities. As is the habit of man to keep records; it was their written personal experiences and institutional records that formed the foundation of our history.

We know that the Potawatomie roamed these lands before the Gillilan’s arrival. Early settlers in Coral Township discovered what they thought to be an abandoned Indian village, and to their surprise in the spring of the following year the inhabitants returned. For a very short time the settlers and their Potawatomie neighbors coexisted. But, what about before the Potawatomie; before written history – who lived in McHenry County? The answer to that question can be found in a small pamphlet published by the McHenry County Conservation District in 1976 titled An Archaeological Survey of McHenry County. The pamphlet reports on the archaeological survey conducted in the county in 1973 and 1974. Archaeology of McHenry County, a more detailed work, was published in July of 2006, and for those interested it can be found on the internet.

The earliest evidence of human presence in McHenry County dates back approximately 12,000 years to the Paleoindian period. The Paleoindians were nomadic hunters and gatherers and roamed the area as the last glacier retreated into Wisconsin. According to the US National Park service the Paleoindian people hunted megafauna such mastodon, mammoth, great bison, giant beaver, and saber-toothed-tiger. Very little evidence of megafauna slaughter has been found east of the Mississippi River, but the large beasts did roam McHenry County. People of the Paleoindian period produced stone tools, such as knives, spear points, and scrapers. Artifacts believed to be from this era have been located at two sites in McHenry County.

The next classification of culture that had a presence in McHenry County is from the Archaic period (8,000 BC to 1,000 BC). It is not known from where these people came, and one source states that they possibly could be the descendants of Paleo Indian people. During this period the hunters and gatherers were less mobile, and it’s possible that they seasonally subsisted on deer and small game from the county’s oak forests, and fish from its waterways. Abundant artifacts from this period have been found in the county to include spear points, flint knives, and axe heads. Additionally, more interesting finds are a bannerstone and birdstone, and both are believed to symbolize rank.

The Woodland period spanned from 500 BC to AD 800, and the mid 1970’s survey revealed nine sites in McHenry County. The people of this period tended to settle near rivers and made first attempts at gardening – not farming. Additional food sources were deer, fish, small mammals, birds, nuts, and seeds. The Woodland people also produced pottery in addition to tools associated with the previous cultures. Another feature of the Woodland culture is the effigy mounds; examples of these mounds can be found in Rockford, Illinois, and southern Wisconsin.

In the Mississippian period which spanned from AD 800 to 1650 populations of people declined in the McHenry County area. One reason given is that in the 1400’s herds of bison migrated into western Illinois, and the people became dependent on this resource. The mid 1970’s survey found six sites of Mississippian cultures in McHenry County. An additional feature of the Mississippian culture was the cultivation of plant foods such as maize, squash and beans.

An area southeast of Marengo was home to people of the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian cultures. The story of these cultures is much more complex than can be presented here in a few hundred words. I encourage interested readers to conduct more research on this fascinating topic.

While exploring this topic I uncovered a few tidbits about life in McHenry County before the arrival of the Paleoindian people. In 1989 mastodon teeth and bone fragments were uncovered west of Woodstock. A male mastodon could grow up to ten feet, and could weigh over ten tons. Another interesting discovery occurred in 2004. A McHenry County Conservation District worker uncovered a giant beaver tooth in a field near Marengo. This giant beast is officially known as Castoroides Ohioensis and it became extinct approximately 13,400 years ago. The giant beaver could grow to about eight feet in length and weigh over 200 pounds. Imagine running into this creature on a leisurely walk through Marengo Ridge or Coral Woods!

Our Park District is pleased to provide programs for Dance, Soccer, Performance Arts, Volleyball, and Basketball for kids, as well as Seniors Activities and the Fitness Center. The green space of our 4 park facilities is welcoming to those looking to walk, picnic, jog, disc golf or even just relax in the shade. Our community can be proud of these successes.

The future of the portion of the Indian Oaks Park facility that includes the in-ground pool can best be determined by discovering the needs and opinions of the residents of the district. Residents have been more than willing to express their thoughts about the pool situation. There will be an opportunity for the residents to answer a question on the November election ballot in the form of a non-binding referendum. This type of referendum is designed to gather information from the residents. No commitment is made by the residents in answering this question.

There are a few possible scenarios for the future of the park space that currently houses the pool. It could be restored to a functioning in-ground pool. This will require assessment, repair, replacement and upgrade of equipment. It could be removed and returned to green space. It could be removed, in part, and turned into another type of water feature. It could be removed and turned into a facility for another type of activity. All this would require breakup and removal of tons of concrete. Whichever of these scenarios is determined to be the best for the park's and resident's communal future, there will be costs involved to achieve it. Payment for these expenses could come from many sources including sponsorship, grants, fundraising, tax levy dollars, or programming income.

The current financial situation of the park district does not include funds to cover any of these scenarios fully. So, the staff is researching possible options. To even begin to assess the pool's function, maintenance needs to occur to start up the filters. Then, an architectural engineer would evaluate the body of the pool and the water filtration system. If the pool was to be removed and replaced, there will be costs incurred in removing the body of the pool and refilling with dirt and grass and other equipment.

• The future of the pool site is up for discussion and the residents of Marengo are welcome to share their thoughts. The next monthly Marengo Park District Board Meeting will occur at 6:00 PM on August 16th, 2018


Jordan Hill                                  Tesfaye cooper


The last two defendants have pleaded guilty in a kidnapping and assault case deemed a hate crime by prosecutors against a Crystal Lake teen that was video-streamed live on Facebook Jan. 2, 2017. The incident involving the special needs teen drew national attention, and condemnation from thenPres. Barack Obama, as four individuals terrorized the youth at an apartment shared by two sisters over the New Year’s 2016-17 weekend.

Jordan Hill, 20, pleaded guilty to a hate crime and one count of aggravated kidnapping July 5, and Tesfaye Cooper, 20, pleaded guilty to the same charges July 12, both within the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago. Tanishia Covington, 25, earlier pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison but is now free on parole, due to time served. Her sister, Brittany Covington, 20, was sentenced to four years of probation but is now jailed and awaiting an Aug. 7 hearing for violating conditions stipulated in her verdict.

The original charges filed against the four assailants included aggravated kidnapping, a hate crime, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and unlawful restraint. Prosecutors indicated that Hill was the instigator for the attack.

Several police reports, culled from several jurisdictions, showed Hill was involved in a crime spree beginning Dec. 30, when a Marengo man lent his mother’s 2009 red Chevrolet Impala to Hill and two others, whom he had met on social media. He was dropped off at the Hampshire Mc Donald’s for his job, and picked up in a white Nissan Sentra, following the shift. They went to a Rolling Meadows BP Fuel Station, and the Marengo man was told to look for marijuana in the restroom. According to a Hampshire police report, the others drove off and took his iPhone.

Carpentersville police contacted the Nissan owner at 1:05 a.m. Dec. 31, who said that “Jordan” may have taken the phone and also borrowed the Impala, from the Marengo man. At 8:33 p.m., Hill was pulled over in the Impala by Streamwood police, at a Burger King parking lot. The passenger was ticketed for open liquor, and Hill, with no driver’s license, was not arrested. The police did take the vehicle keys, for return to the owner.

One hour later, at a Schaumburg McDonald’s, the Crystal Lake special needs teen informed his mother that he would be staying with a friend. On Jan. 2, at 9:45 p.m., a video camera from Streamwood’s MDZ Welding Co., depicts a van being stolen from their lot. The teen was picked up in the van, and taken to an apartment in Chicago where he was beaten, assaulted, and tortured. Hill also called the teen’s family and allegedly ordered them to pay a $300 ransom.

Three videos were streamed showing physical abuse against the teen, making him drink from a toilet bowl, and Cooper threatening the teen with a knife. Hair was cut from his head leaving a scar. Laughing, drug use, and racist taunts were also displayed on the videos. The victim was later found walking the streets outside the apartment shirtless.

A victim impact statement was read at Cooper’s hearing and highlighted that the teen suffers from depression, and post-traumatic stress.

Hill received an eight year sentence in exchange for his guilty plea, after previously rejecting the terms. Cooper will be sentenced July 26, before Circuit Court Judge William H. Hooks. Last Apr., Tanishia Covington pleaded guilty to intimidation, aggravated battery, and a hate crime in receiving a three-year sentence. Last. Dec., Brittany Covington pleaded guilty to aggravated battery with intent to disseminate on video and a hate crime. Her plea deal included four years of probation, completion of her general equivalency degree, and 200 hours of community service.

The Marengo man also had contact with the Hampshire police, and the report varied from the Rolling Meadows report in that he was picked up after work by a white man, with three black passengers. The man’s identity is not being released, due to privacy requests.

The original charges filed against the four assailants included aggravated kidnapping, a hate crime, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and unlawful restraint. Prosecutors indicated that Hill was the instigator for the attack.




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