Long Grove merchants and residents worked together to create this display of hand carved jack-o-lanterns welcoming those brave enough to experience Red Riding Hood’s haunted trail.
Reading the title of this post might cause you to ask, “What do these three things have to do with Long Grove?” On the Historical Society’s October 28th Ghost Walk, not only could you find zombies, wolves, and an evil doll residing in our village, but the Ghost of Cuba Road materialized as well to scare the nearly 300 children and parents who participated. The Halloween fun kicked off Friday afternoon with Trick-or-Treating in the historic downtown shops. It was delightful to see so many cutely costumed kiddos as I was purchasing embellishments to add to my own witch getup for later that evening.
Serving as a tour guide, it was my job to safely navigate families of willing “victims” through our haunted historic district. The route took us past the line of scarecrows on Towner Green, some of which were not quite dead. The zombie dancers at In-Motion returned again this year to entertain, as did crazy Jake Eisler and his stick of dynamite. Good thing Jake was a die-hard Cubs fan, coming back from the grave to listen to the world series game and give us updates on the score! The Long Grove Community Church welcomed us in for a tour of their 1800’s cemetery, featuring the real-life tombstone of one past Long Grovian named Fredriche Krueger. Yes, “Freddy Krueger” was indeed lurking about, as well as many other spirits of the past. A trip back to the safety of the village involved crossing our haunted covered bridge, and a journey through Red Riding Hood’s spooky, wolf infested woods. The tour concluded this year with perhaps the most spine-tingling story of the evening, as Mike Dvorack used sound and light effects to tell the tale of “Arabella” the seemingly sweet yet secretly sinister doll. One father of a 5 year old confided in me that his daughter would probably now be sleeping in Mom & Dad’s bed for the next night or two! Having fun scaring the children….accomplished.
Here’s hoping that your Halloween is equally thrilling and chilling!
Attending the 2016 Ghost Walk are Long Grove residents (L to R): Doug and Jane Primack, Ellie, Jennifer and Collin Russell, Angie Underwood and Georgia Cawley.
Resident Marie Borg (left) receives a free prescription drug lock box from Stand Strong Coalition Coordinator Jamie Epstein (right) at the October 22nd Drug Take Back Day.
In a joint project between the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Village of Long Grove, and the Long Grove Fire Protection District, a prescription drug collection event was held this past weekend at the firehouse on Old McHenry Road. Residents could safely dispose of unwanted or expired prescription medicines and unwanted sharps. In addition, pharmacy students from Rosalind Franklin University were on hand to assist, answer questions, and provide free blood pressure readings.
It was great to see so many residents doing the right thing by keeping these medicines out of the ground water stream and environment. It is also important to dispose of unneeded medications properly to combat the real and growing problem of prescription drug abuse. As Village President, I am a member of Stand Strong Coalition, a group based out of Stevenson High School dedicated to working together as a community to help prevent underage drinking, marijuana use, and prescription drug abuse in our youth. I was happy to be a part of this drug collection event and worked along with Stand Strong Founder and Coordinator Jamie Epstein to hand out free prescription drug lock boxes to interested community members. These boxes are easy to use and allow you to keep your prescription medicines at home safe and secure from theft.
If you missed this opportunity and would like to dispose of unwanted drugs, they can be dropped off at the police stations in our neighboring communities of Lincolnshire, Buffalo Grove, and Mundelein during regular business hours. In addition, Walgreens is offering collection sites at selected locations in Lake County. The closest location to Long Grove is near Lake Cook Road, at 15 N. Buffalo Grove Road.
Volunteering at the event: Detective David Tomasello of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (4th from right), Stand Strong members Angie Underwood and Jamie Epstein (in blue), and pharmacy students from Rosalind Franklin University.
Getting our backyard prairie certified with Mary Fortmann of Conserve Lake County (on the right). Shown here is a “very happy” Rattlesnake Master plant!
Recently, my husband Aaron and I made good on a promise. In April of this year, I made a public pledge to work towards getting our 9 acres of property in Long Grove certified for eco-friendly practices and land stewardship (see my prior post, Accepting the Conservation Challenge). Last week, I am happy to say, we passed the inspection and are now the proud owners of a “Conserve@Home” yard sign!
We were lucky to enjoy a particularly beautiful October day for our visit from Conserve Lake County consultant, Mary Fortmann. While showing her around our yard, gardens, prairie and woodlands, we chatted about all the things we have done so far to help preserve the many native treasures. Mary had a wealth of knowledge about things growing in our yard that we weren’t sure of, in particular a prairie plant that we had never seen before and hadn’t identified yet. Turns out it is a huge rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) plant–the tallest one Mary had ever seen! Aaron and I learned so much from our consultation, particularly about species that we didn’t know we had (like Japanese barberry) and didn’t know were invasive (like burning bush). We received lots of tips and suggestions on lawn care and mulching that we will use now and next season. Mary identified many baby oak and hickory trees growing in the native woodland area of our property. I love her suggestion to transplant some of these seedlings to our more “suburban” area of the yard–why hadn’t that thought ever occurred to me? Brilliant! We now have several goals for next year including continuing our efforts at controlling the many invasive species starting to creep in such as teasel and reed canary grass. It will be an ongoing battle, but one worth fighting.
I would like to encourage all residents of Long Grove to schedule a consultation and learn more about how you can enhance your landscape in a sustainable way. The amount of personalized information we received was well worth the $50. charge. In addition, if you schedule a visit for 2017 before the end of this year, the Village of Long Grove will refund half the cost of your consultation ($25) as a way of encouragement. I was so delighted to get my own property certified, that I posted the picture above on Facebook, bragging about the giant specimen. My neighbor Claire threw down a challenge for next year–she is going to grow the biggest rattlesnake master in the neighborhood. Game on!
Proudly displaying our new yard sign showing that our property is certified!
The expansion of our municipal water system has enabled two new things to come to our downtown–water hydrants and Buffalo Creek Brewing!
In July of 2015 I wrote a blog post about the expansion of our Long Grove water system, entitled Tapping into the Future. Fifteen months after our Village Board approved the preliminary engineering contract, we now have fire hydrants in the historic downtown! The construction crews have been busy working all summer and fall to extend access to public water, and the new infrastructure is now in place. In the next 30 days the system is expected to be pressurized.
Bringing quality water from the deep well at Sunset Foods into the downtown has been a long-term goal and priority of many individuals who have served on the Village Board. The Trustees who came before me had the initial vision, and through the years numerous Boards have been diligently working towards opportunities to make this a reality. The sale earlier this year of the four lots on Archer Road and the development of the Harbor Chase assisted living community at Routes 53 and 83 have helped fund this capital project, with tap in fees and future water usage charges to fund the system going forward. The additional water supply will now provide better fire safety for our historic buildings, and help retain and attract new businesses to Long Grove.
And we are already starting to see some results! The former Red Oaks property is under new ownership and being converted into a Fred Astaire dance studio and grand ballroom. Just behind on Historical Lane, in the home of the former Studio of Long Grove art gallery, Buffalo Creek Brewing is finalizing plans for a craft brewing operation, taproom, beer garden, and eventual banquet facility. The Village Board recently approved zoning, special use permits, and liquor licenses to put this in motion. The brewery will obviously be a heavy water consumer, and both new businesses have made a financial commitment to connect to the new water system.
Doing large scale infrastructure improvements in Long Grove is a particular challenge; we levy no municipal property tax so borrowing money to fund the improvements up front is difficult. But now that the downtown revitalization ball has started to roll, I have every expectation that it will gain more and more momentum in the months and years ahead. We are continuing to make progress towards the future, and by “tapping” into our resources….who knows how many more opportunities will start to flow?
Randy Towner helps carry on his father’s business, Mel’s Marathon Mini Mart, at the crossroads in downtown Long Grove.
Every small town has a “hub” from which all real information flows. In my central Illinois hometown, circa 1970’s, it was the local diner, Kathy’s Kitchen. The grain elevator was another hotspot for local news, and I got to witness this firsthand during the summers when I worked for my Dad, who managed the elevator, and my cousin Rita, who managed the office help. Farmers would come in every day to “check the grain prices” but I suspected another reason they stayed and visited with each other so long was the desire to “check the latest chatter” going on around town.
In Long Grove, the undisputed central source of information is Mel’s, our crossroads gas station. Originally owned by long-time residents Mel and Dee Towner, the station is built on family property that dates back to the 1920’s and includes the open area now known as Towner Green. The station is currently managed by Mel’s sons Randy and Wendall, who run a mini mart in addition to the traditional gas pumps. Nothing much happens in Long Grove that Randy has not caught wind of almost immediately. When I truly want to find out what is going on in town, I go fill the car up, or better yet…send my husband to find out the latest report. Aaron loves to come home and inform the Village President what information hasn’t yet made it to Village Hall. And if I ever feel the need to verify the advance intelligence, it always checks out.
It helps that Mel’s also provides a tow truck for use in emergencies, so communications with the Lake County Sheriff officers are frequent. Case in point: recently a local youth drove a car into a neighborhood pond, and one of my Trustees happened by the scene as the rescue was in process and phoned me. I felt like I had some breaking-news information to tell my husband as he walked in the door, only to have him fill me in with even more details gleaned as he was getting gas for the lawnmower.
The Towner family has long held a role in helping our community prosper. Mel Towner served 44 years as a volunteer fire fighter, and Dee Towner’s father donated the land to build our first fire department. The gas station today is a touchstone to our roots as a rural community. If a business in the historic downtown is closing, or a new store opening up, 9 times out of 10 I will hear the news from Randy first. I think it is great that we have a hometown merchant who provides a place to check in and take the pulse of the community; a place where you can experience both a friendly greeting and some local flavor. Mel’s is located at the heart of our crossroads and is in a variety of ways the center of what keeps many of us in Long Grove connected.