Comfy & Cozy on a Cold Winter’s Night

Chatterbox owner Steve Besbeas welcomes me at the door.

Chatterbox owner Steve Besbeas welcomes me at the door.

Faced with another night of sub-zero temps, my husband and I set out to find some comfort food and companionship this evening in Long Grove. Our first stop was the Chatterbox, where we discovered that not only was the parking lot packed, but the restaurant was doing a capacity business. Not a problem, as we continued on down the street to the Village Tavern to snag one of their last remaining tables. We had the added benefit of being entertained with music while we warmed ourselves with good food and atmosphere. On the way back to the car, we stopped by the Chatterbox for the ultimate comfort food on a cold night–the warm and gooey skillet cookie! An extra bonus was running into two couples from Neighbors and Newcomers club who were also out for a night in our hometown to escape the cold. I can’t tell you how great it was to see our restaurants in town doing a healthy business in the dead of winter. Chatterbox owner Steve Besbeas and I talked tonight about the possibility of another Long Grove location opening soon where locals can come together and socialize in our historic downtown. I know that it is hard to be patient, but the tide is turning in our Village. I share the vision of many other residents that we will see a real revitalization in the next few years in our hometown. In the midst of this cold, bitter weather, I see the sparks of hope growing steadily. The next time you are in the mood to socialize, look no further than our own Long Grove establishments. Help us keep the fires burning!

Standing Strong


L to R: Dr. Cristina Cortesi, me, and Jamie Epstein of the Stand Strong Coalition

One nice side-benefit of being Village President is also being an honorary member of the Long Grove, Kildeer & Hawthorn Woods Rotary club. Being married to a Rotarian makes it even sweeter! While I don’t have time to make it to most of the weekly breakfast meetings, I did make it a priority to attend the meeting this morning. Our speakers were Jamie Epstein and Dr. Cristina Cortesi of the Stand Strong Coalition, of which I am also a member.

Formed just this past summer, Stand Strong is a community coalition dedicated to preventing underage drinking and drug abuse among youth in our Stevenson High School community. The group serves to help educate parents and teens on the health risks associated with alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drug abuse in young adults, without being judgmental. The purpose of the coalition is to begin to change cultural norms by getting the community engaged in strategies for change. Members of Stand Strong include concerned parents, SHS coaches, counselors, staff and administrators, police officers, elected officials, healthcare professionals, religious leaders, business professionals, representatives from social service agencies, experts in the area of teen addiction and substance abuse, and more.

As one of the founders of the group, Jamie gave an informative talk on some of the successes so far, such as the “Not My Kid” event held at Stevenson this past September. Social hosting laws in our communities have been highlighted and strengthened, and work is underway to make prescription lock boxes more available and disposal of prescription medicines easier. Cristina, who serves as a Prevention Counselor at SHS helped us understand the effects of alcohol abuse and binge drinking on young adults, and the dangerous and permanent changes that can occur to adolescent brains when exposed to marijuana. Upcoming events include an 8th Grade Parent Talk on April 15th at Noah’s of Lincolnshire, and a drug and alcohol free Post-Prom celebration at Great America on May 16th. Local law enforcement officers will be working side-by-side with student volunteers this spring on a “Your Actions Matter” campaign in our area liquor stores and drinking establishments.

I am proud to support this new organization and have been impressed with the enthusiasm it has generated among the members. As the Stand Strong Coalition gains momentum, I feel that it has the potential to provide a tremendous asset to all the families in our community. Best wishes for continued success!

Small Plates of the Small Town Mayor

One of the less embarrassing shots... taken in Ronda , Spain

One of the less embarrassing shots… taken in Ronda , Spain

Those of us who are parents know that our children’s attitude towards us changes as they go through the stages of growing up.  As small children, their love for us is unrestrained.  In the elementary years they depend on us, and as middle school approaches we embarrass them.  We are ignored when they reach high school, and suddenly intelligent once college is over and they are living on their own.

Then, they mock us.

I have recently found out that this new blog I’ve started is not my first.  Apparently, one of my children (who shall remain nameless) created a blog some time ago featuring me.  You see, my husband Aaron and I like to travel, and are “foodies” so we eat at some interesting places.  My husband has been known to take pictures of especially memorable dishes, of which I sometimes show up in, and these get emailed to our “foodie” child.  Who has secretly created a blog entitled, “Small Plates of the Small Town Mayor.”   Yes, I know you are intrigued to see this, but I will NOT be providing a link as most of the pictures are, shall we say, not flattering.  I could be annoyed at my husband for forwarding all those photos unbeknownst to me; I could be angry at my children for making fun of me.  Luckily I grew up with two younger brothers who teased me relentlessly so I have a pretty good sense of humor.  And let me just close with this thought…I am in possession of some pretty embarrassing photos of naked babes in the bathtub and awkward middle school fashion statements.  And I now have my own blog.

Loving Government, Hating Politics

Earlier this month I participated in a meeting with a group of inspiring women, and it put me in a good mood for the entire rest of the day. I’m a new member of WINGS, a bipartisan network of empowerment for women of Lake County, Illinois who have been elected to, appointed to, or are interested in government at any level. Because let’s face it, we all know that our country needs more women leaders in higher office. And those of us in public office need regular support to counteract the negative. There is nothing like spending time with the brave ladies who blazed the trail for us many years ago, to remind me of the many good reasons for doing this job. Our speaker, a former mayor of Leon Valley, Texas, shared with us her wisdom and wit regarding “Loving Government, Hating Politics.” Women bring so many valuable qualities to elected positions; our ability to listen, put egos aside, and work with others towards a compromise for starters. But the politics of putting yourself out there for public scrutiny can be daunting. We have an election on April 7th here in Long Grove, and we will get to select three Trustees out of the six men running for office. I am hopeful that the two amazing women that I’ve just appointed to Village commissions will be inspired to one day step up to serve on the Board, or other elected positions in public service. Ladies, we just need to look to each other for the strength. The high school orator who gave a moving speech on “The Importance of Voting,” told me that she aspires to be a Village President someday, like me. Okay, fuel tank properly filled again!

BACC Economic Summit

Barrington Economic Summit
I had the opportunity to speak last week at an event sponsored by the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce. Mayors and Village Presidents representing 8 different towns in the area participated in a breakfast panel to discuss economic development in each of our communities. It is always great when I get to interact with my peers, and even better when I get to hear what they are doing in their municipalities. Since the start of 2015, Long Grove has initiated two additional ways to help our local business community. We have hired a Chicago-area expert in the field of economic development to consult with the Village on an ongoing monthly basis, to work on targeting locations within our borders for new business development. She will also head up an Economic Development Task Force, made up of representatives of the Village Board, Plan Commission, property owners, business owners, residents, and the downtown LGBCP. This committee will meet monthly to brainstorm and share ideas and connections that can help attract and retain the types of businesses, restaurants, and entertainment that will enhance our community. Many of the old buildings on Fountain Square are in the process of being updated, and we at the Village are looking forward to working with the new property owners to get businesses up and running in the renovated spaces.

Our Village Valentines

Long Grove Village Tea

The Village staff ladies (Margerita, Sherry, and Julie) enjoy a spot of tea with the Village Board ladies (Angie, Lori, and Heidi)

I have always enjoyed St. Valentine’s Day, as it is a good excuse to tell those special people in our lives how much we appreciate them. One group of “sweethearts” to those of us living in Long Grove would be the members of our Village Staff. We are small but mighty here in our community, with only four full-time staff members and one part-time employee to manage our Village of 8,000-plus residents. But what we lack in numbers can be more than made up for by the friendly smiles that will greet you on a visit to Village Hall.

Our small staff means that they sometimes have to be “jack of all trades” and flexible enough to fill in however needed. How many of you could: sell a used truck, fix a furnace on a 150 year old building, help a resident find garage space for a new garbage can, draft a zoning change, approve a building permit, smooth over a merchant’s ruffled feathers, and cheerfully mediate a neighborly dispute over a dead deer, all in a day’s work?

So, on behalf of all Long Grove residents, here’s a Valentine poem for Julie, Sherry, Margerita, Jim and Dave:hearts

In a leafy, green ‘burb of Chicago,
Toils a crack Village Staff; and we all know,
To be pleasant and kind,
And not lose your mind,
Is a skill, and to you we say “Bravo!”

And the next time you’re tempted to call,
A complaint in to our Village Hall,
Be sweet and genteel,
And in turn, you will deal,
With our lovable staff, one and all.

We Are The Champions

Angie Underwood and State Champions

At Tuesday night’s Village Board meeting I had the pleasure of issuing a proclamation. It read, in part:

WHEREAS, the hard work, dedication, sportsmanship, talent and exceptional team chemistry of the 2014 Adlai E. Stevenson High School Patriots football team has enabled these student athletes to earn a State Championship title; and

WHEREAS, winning the 2014 Class 8A Illinois High School Association State Championship brought honor to Adlai E. Stevenson High School and the Village of Long Grove on the local, state and national level;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Angela Underwood, Village President of Long Grove do hereby recognize and heartily congratulate Adlai E. Stevenson High School and the 2014 State Championship Football Team on its outstanding accomplishment in this 50th year of the school’s history, and

FURTHER, I urge all citizens of Long Grove to join me in recognizing and celebrating the team’s achievement and wish the members of the team continued success.

Nineteen residents of Long Grove are part of this Patriot varsity team.  How wonderful it was to have most of these students in attendance at our Board meeting, along with their parents.  It was an honor to recognize these boys for their hard work and achievements!

To read more about what happened at this Village Board meeting and what is happening in our historic downtown, check out the Daily Herald article and video:


Infinite Beauty

Long Grove Coyote

This magnificent image of a coyote was taken two winters ago in my backyard.  It illustrates one of my favorite quotes:

“Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty”–John Ruskin.

I wonder if she is still hunting mice in my conservancy; if she was part of the howling and yipping pack that we heard Sunday night in the blizzard.  Earlier this winter, I had a resident phone me to complain that a deer had died in the open space near his neighborhood, and it needed to be removed because it was attracting coyotes.  My response involved some version of the “circle of life” explaining that the coyotes are residents of Long Grove too, and don’t we live here because we value the abundance of nature?  I’m not sure he agreed with me, and as it turned out, the deer was on private property so the Village couldn’t remove it had we wanted to.  Even though I wish the ground hog had predicted a quicker end to our current season, I am choosing to appreciate the beauty of this winter.  The trees in my backyard vista look so much more graceful with snow outlining the delicate branches.  One of the joys of living in our Village is the opportunity to observe the wild things up close and personal.  The challenge is allowing ourselves the chance to really see it.