John Kopecky (seated) introduces Historical Society President Aaron Underwood to Fannie, pictured outside of John’s store The Country House.
It seems we have a lady-about-town causing quite a sensation. Meet Fannie Farmer, the newest addition to our Historic Downtown Long Grove Association. Born in 1942, Fannie is a vintage McCormick Farmall tractor in a flashy shade of red, fully restored and operational. Downtown merchants John Kopecky and Matt Potempa recently acquired Fannie from a farm sale up in Woodstock, Illinois and introduced her to to her new home in Long Grove where she will strut her stuff during the various festivals. Fannie’s inaugural debut will be escorting visitors around town on wagon rides during our upcoming Vintage Days Festival, August 20th and 21st.
New this year, Vintage Days will feature music, shopping, and assorted vendors with a flavor of the past. The Long Grove Community Church is offering an old fashioned ice cream social and outdoor services near the Sunset Gazebo on Fountain Square. The Historical Society is participating with a family oriented Penny Carnival on the grounds of the Farmhouse, and historical wagon tours of the downtown (here is where Fannie gets in on the action!) Come check it out–Vintage Days is a free local festival that will appeal to all ages.
Adam Ullrich of the Village Tavern helped prepare for the annual Veterans Pig Roast held on Sunday, July 24, 2016.
As an elected official, there are times when I feel like a pig on a spit–slowly raked over the coals primarily for the enjoyment of others; because they can, because they’re bored, because it boosts their ego. Hey, I get the dynamic–why else would I read the celebrity gossip in People magazine? But in local politics this type of harassment, while entertaining, comes with a cumulative downside. The flaming controversy over a raffle held at the Village Tavern’s Veterans Pig Roast this past weekend is a perfect example.
Chip and Mary Ann Ullrich, owners of the Tavern, have generously hosted this event every summer for the past seven years as a way to publicly honor and thank our military veterans. Chip himself is a veteran from the Vietnam era. Widely promoted and well attended, this celebration is seen as a positive reflection on our community. The pig roast and entertainment are free for our veterans, and the festivities also feature a raffle with the proceeds to benefit local VFW Post 5151 and Midwest Veterans Closet charity organization. This raffle required an application for permission of the Village Board, which was unanimously granted. The Village is supportive of the intentions behind this event, as are the many residents who volunteer annually to make it a success. A win-win for all concerned.
However, a local woman has caused a stink this past week in her attempts to get the raffle invalidated on the grounds that it is illegal gambling. She has made numerous calls to village hall, resulting in a FOIA request for staff to comply with, as well as time from our village attorney, village employees, the Ullrichs and myself. All of this to get notoriety for herself and publicity for her cause. Long Grove seems to be an attractive place for those who like to seek attention by agitating over an emotional issue.
In today’s turbulent times we have no shortage of serious issues to become worked up about. But a raffle to benefit legitimate local veterans organizations is not one of them. This week, staff time (taxpayer funded) and volunteer time (a precious resource) has been used once again to satisfy the demands of community activists looking for recognition in the name of their cause. In my term as Village President I have seen this dynamic over and again with various local issues. When the dust settles, little is ever accomplished aside from the fact that the battle serves to chip away at our limited finances and morale just a tiny bit more. Why is this tolerated? Is it serving the greater good and righting injustice? Maybe not…..but perhaps somebody, somewhere, is enjoying the entertainment?
Lake County Board Representative Craig Taylor (on the right) shows off his vintage car to Aaron Underwood.
Earlier this month I was pleasantly surprised by an event in our historic downtown that I attended by happenstance. On Sunday, July 10th a group of volunteers gathered at the Historical Society farmhouse to do some needed painting, and over the course of the morning as we worked, we watched the Stempel parking lot slowly fill with nearly 100 antique and vintage cars. As it turned out, downtown business Neumann’s Cigars and More had partnered with the Village of Kildeer Police Department to host a car show and fundraiser that attracted an estimated 1,000 people enjoying the beautiful summer day. Besides checking out all the cool cars, the event featured music, food, raffles, awards, and a demonstration by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit.
With so many interesting and unique cars on display, we could not help ourselves from wandering over to investigate. My husband was like a kid in a candy store! The “Cars and Cigars” fundraiser collected over $15,000 to benefit Illinois Special Olympics, and while Aaron was ogling the sweet rides of the past, I had a chance to chat with the organizer of the event. Kildeer police Chief Steve Balinski launched the fundraiser five years ago while working with the Buffalo Grove police department, and continued the tradition when he made the move to Kildeer. I love the teamwork of volunteers from two of our neighboring villages coming together with a Long Grove business to host such a fun and successful afternoon, all to benefit a worthy cause. I’m so glad we were in the perfect place to see this real-life “hot wheels” collection come to life!
(L to R) New Village Clerk Amy Gayton, Village President Angie Underwood, retiring Village Clerk Heidi Locker-Scheer.
At the Village Board meeting on July 12th we celebrated the retirement of Village Clerk Heidi Locker-Scheer, and welcomed the newest member of our team with the swearing in of Amy Gayton as our incoming Village Clerk. The transition went smoothly and while it was bittersweet to say farewell to such a valued member of the Board, Heidi is moving on to a new position at work and we are happy for her career success. The Village is lucky to have Amy step forward to volunteer at this time; she has previously coordinated the Archer School program for the Historical Society and donates many hours assisting with the festivals and activities of the Historic Downtown Business Association. Amy will serve as clerk for the remainder of the current term, which expires in April of 2017. Welcome, Amy!
When I took office as Village President one of my first duties was to appoint a Village Clerk as no one had run for the open seat in the election. Let’s face it, the clerk job is not terribly glamorous as it can be time consuming and precise, is a non-voting role, and of course lacks a paycheck. I hesitated to ask Heidi to volunteer as she works full-time in downtown Chicago, but knew her civic interest and leadership skills would be a perfect fit. Heidi has done an excellent job over the past three years keeping track of the meeting minutes and carrying out her election duties, leaving behind the legacy of a valuable contribution to our Village. Her faithful support and calm professionalism will be greatly missed by staff and board members alike, and we are thankful for her service over the years to the residents of Long Grove. Best wishes, Heidi!
Some of the local youths I caught today playing Pokemon Go near the Mill Pond in Long Grove.
Yesterday I became aware of the wildly popular mobile adventure game Pokemon Go, thanks in part to one of my blog readers. Resident Carolyn Osuyos tipped me off that her sons have been having lots of fun lately in our historic downtown “capturing” characters, collecting supplies, and engaging in Pokemon battles on their cell phones. Long Grove seems to be a popular place to hunt for “Pokestops” and I have it on good authority that action can be had near the Village Tavern, Buffalo Creek Park gazebo, the fountain in Fountain Square, and next to Village Pizza (pictured above). I had the chance to talk to some high school students from Lake Zurich this afternoon who are enthusiastic about this new app, and enjoying the nostalgia of the card game of their younger days.
Whatever the reason, I am delighted to see lots of young adults in our downtown. While they are spending some carefree summer time in our Village, I hope they stop in for a cold drink or slice of pizza, or come back later with friends. I talked to a couple of merchants who are happy to see the activity in and around their stores. Anything that gets our kids socializing and helping each other face-to-face in the outdoors gets a thumbs-up from me. And even better when it gets them to do it in Long Grove!
The White Fringed Prairie Orchid
It is a testament to our ecological stewardship in Long Grove that we still have many varieties of native wildflowers that bloom in public and private woodlands and open spaces. In fact, we even have one variety that is a federally protected endangered species. I have never seen the white fringed prairie orchid, but State officials assure us it is here and have kept the site location confidential. Just one more way in which our Village is rare and special.
This flower has been recently under attack in our boardroom, as the private property owners try to rally Village support against the State’s attempts to further protect this endangered species. Do we side with the residents or the flower? Should the Village be involved at all? Some on the Board are critical of the State and dismissive of the ecological concerns. Emotions are high and accusations have been made. It has gotten so ridiculous that at the recent Village Board meeting one Trustee suggested that if it were his property, he might just take care of the problem with the use of some “agent orange.” Seriously?
I am in solidarity with the environmentalists, and spoke up in defense of the flower. After all, isn’t it a resident too? This species has been blooming in Long Grove for more years than I have, and has been protected by the State at this location for decades. The experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Illinois Nature Preserve Agency have studied the situation for many years and determined the best course of action for the collective greater good. The owners of the piece of property where the orchid lives beg to differ.
There are other factors at play in this; for brevity and confidentiality I have simplified the issue. But in the end, it all comes down to money. And if that doesn’t work, well, the State has something as a last resort called eminent domain. Never underestimate the power of a flower.
Back Row: Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor. Front Row: Long Grove residents Angie Underwood, Vicki Juster, Heidi Locker-Scheer, and Rick Juster.
What’s the 4th of July without a parade, and what’s a parade without a few politicians? Several Long Grove residents helped me ring in our 2016 Independence Day by participating in the annual Vernon Hills parade earlier this morning. We had fun supporting our Lake County Board Chairman while getting in our daily 10,000 steps.
Here’s to the red, white & blue, and a safe and happy holiday everyone!
Caught at Village Hall by our Lake County Sheriff Deputy, Kevin McHugh.
Most residents of Long Grove are familiar with the fact that we do not have a municipal police department, but instead contract for police services through the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. This has been a long-standing and beneficial arrangement for the Village, and we have been fortunate to have many deputies over the years providing excellent service to our community. One current familiar face to all of us in Long Grove is Deputy Sheriff Kevin McHugh.
From time to time, I have heard Long Grove warmly referred to as “Mayberry,” in a comparison to the fictional hometown that was the setting for T.V.’s The Andy Griffith Show. In that same spirit then, Deputy Sheriff McHugh is our Sheriff Andy Taylor. Officer McHugh has been serving our Village since May of 2005, and is by now so familiar with our community that he knows many of our citizens by name. I’m not the only resident who takes comfort in being greeted by Kevin’s friendly smile in the downtown, out on patrol of our streets, or at my doorstep when the security system is accidentally triggered (again!) When the Food Network needed an amicable and outgoing public figure to emcee the cooking competition during the Long Grove filming of their show Eating America during Strawberry Fest, Kevin was the man.
But make no mistake, Officer McHugh is a highly skilled professional and takes law enforcement in our Village very seriously. He graduated from University of Louisville, KY as a Crime Prevention Specialist and began his career with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in 1987, being elected Deputy Sheriff of the Year in both 1999 and 2000. In August of 2013, just a few months after taking office, I was honored to present Officer McHugh with a special outstanding service award from the Village of Long Grove.
Yesterday, on June 30, 2016, Kevin retired after serving 29 years with the Lake County Sheriff. A cookout was held at the fire station so that we could offer our deep appreciation for the many contributions he has made to make our Village a safer place to live. Everyone in Long Grove wishes Kevin well in his new endeavors, and we hope to see him back in town from time to time.