Welcome, Buffalo Creek Brewing!

Members of the Long Grove Historical Society  celebrating at the Grand Opening on July 15, 2015.

Members of the Long Grove Historical Society celebrating at the Grand Opening on July 15, 2017.

It was so great to see the Stempel parking lot filled today, and not because of a festival but because so many locals showed up to welcome a new business in town. It has been nearly ten years since the former Studio of Long Grove closed their doors, and this property next to the Historical Society farmhouse has sat vacant much of that time. We are all thrilled to see Buffalo Creek Brewing up and running, and the crowds checking out this new local hot spot were in a celebratory mood at the Grand Opening today. The event featured a ribbon cutting, samples of featured craft beers brewed on site, and bands on the outdoor lawn throughout the afternoon and evening. The weather could not have been more perfect for the festivities and it was wonderful to run into so many friends and neighbors toasting to the success of this welcome addition to our historic downtown. Here’s to owner Mike Marr and his family and staff as they continue to work hard to build a new business in Long Grove and help with the revitalization of our Village–Cheers and Best Wishes!!

L to R: Dale Perrin, Director of the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce, Mike Marr, owner of Buffalo Creek Brewing, and Angie Underwood, President of the Long Grove Historical Society.

L to R: Dale Perrin, Director of the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce, Mike Marr, owner of Buffalo Creek Brewing, and Angie Underwood, President of the Long Grove Historical Society. Mike was presented with a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift of a historical print of his choice from our archives.

One Yuuuge Check

Ryan Messner, President of the Historic Downtown Business Association presents a ginormous check to Diane Trickey, Treasurer of the Long Grove Historical Society.

Ryan Messner, President of the Historic Downtown Business Association presents a ginormous check to Diane Trickey, Treasurer of the Long Grove Historical Society.

Last weekend’s Strawberry Fest featured lovely weather and a healthy attendance. The Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association generously pledged to donate a portion of the admission fees to help offset the costs of needed restoration for our Historic Covered Bridge. The happy result is pictured above, as Ryan Messner, President of the HDLGBA presents a giant check to Diane Trickey, Treasurer of the Long Grove Historical Society, during the June 27th Village Board meeting. It is exciting to see donations such as these–earmarked for covered bridge restoration–start to accumulate, and this is only the beginning. Stay tuned as efforts continue over the summer and into the fall as the residents, merchants, Historical Society, and other community groups work together in raising funds to “Save the Bridge.”

Strawberry Fest Returns

LILG-StrawberryFest-7462

The energy in Long Grove today is electric–so much enthusiasm for the weekend ahead! Not only is Strawberry Fest returning, but the weather forecast is summertime terrific. If you are looking for a fun, family event this weekend, look no further than Long Grove. Bands “7th Heaven,” “Hi Infidelity” and “The Gingers” are scheduled to perform, among others. The Kids Zone on Towner Green will be in full swing featuring the “Bubble Man” and knights from Medieval Times. The Archer parking lot will be rocking and rolling with carnival rides for the young and young at heart, and don’t forget the chocolate covered strawberries from the Long Grove Confectionery–an annual treat!

Something new this year is that the merchants have generously decided to donate 20% of the profits from the admission fees ($5 per person per day, 12 and under free) to the fund to restore and renovate our historic covered bridge. There are so many good reasons to come have fun in Long Grove this weekend!

What’s Brewing in Long Grove?

Owner Mike Marr of Buffalo Creek Brewing in front of his newly installed fermentation tanks.

Owner Mike Marr of Buffalo Creek Brewing in front of his newly installed fermentation tanks.

After taking the last month off for some travel, relaxation, and recharging, I am glad to be back home in Long Grove and starting the next chapter of my “Life In Long Grove” blog!

Just to help get back up to speed, I will use this first post to re-cap a few of the things that have happened in our Village while I was away on vacation:

Retiring Village Board members on April 25th: (L to R) George Yeager, Lori Lyman, Angie Underwood and John Marshall.

Retiring Village Board members on April 25th: (L to R) George Yeager, Lori Lyman, Angie Underwood and John Marshall.

Changes on the Village Board

Along with my retirement as Village President on April 25th, Trustees George Yeager, Lori Lyman, and John Marshall were honored for their service to Long Grove. Between the four of us, we represented a collective 33 years of volunteer experience given to the Village. On May 9th, Bill Jacob was installed as the new Village President, along with new Trustees Rita O’Connor, Bobbie O’Reilly, Anne Kritzmire, and Chuck Nora. Trustee Stanley Borys resigned his position on May 23rd. An additional new Trustee will soon be appointed to fill the remaining two years of this term.

Chocolate Fest

The cold and rain kept the crowds at bay on Friday and Saturday last weekend, but Sunday the weather cooperated and the attendance was robust! Chocolate in many delicious forms was enjoyed by all and the event featured the introduction of another candy company opening up in town later this year, Morkes Chocolates. Along with the expansion of the Long Grove Confectionery going on near Towner Green, residents and visitors will soon have many more chocolate options to choose from in Long Grove. Lucky us–the more chocolate, the better!

Craft Beer and Dancing Coming Soon

Great progress has been made on renovations to the new Fred Astaire Dance Studio (in the former Red Oaks building) and Buffalo Creek Brewing (in the former Studio of Long Grove property). Brewery owner Mike Marr was kind enough to give me a personal tour of the renovations, which feature a beautiful bar and tasting room area, large outside deck & gazebo, special event space, and production areas for fermenting, bottling, and cold storage. Opening day is scheduled for July 15th and I know that I am only one of many, many residents who are eagerly awaiting both of these new additions to our downtown business district.

New and exciting changes abound in our Village this summer. Strawberry Fest is just around the corner June 23rd-25th, followed by Vintage Days on August 19th and 20th. There is so much to look forward to in the months ahead–hope to see you in Long Grove this season!

Brewing equipment and beer storage tanks ready for installation this week at Buffalo Creek Brewery.

Brewing equipment and beer storage tanks ready for installation this week at Buffalo Creek Brewery.

Say Hello to Pub 83!

Jimmy, the General Manager of Pub 83 welcomed me to the newly reopened restaurant last night.

Jimmy, the General Manager of Pub 83 welcomed me to the newly reopened restaurant last night.

For many years now the former Gridley Grill restaurant on the corner of Rt. 83 and Gilmer road has remained closed, despite the addition of a new entrance and expansion of the parking lot. That is, until this past Monday, when the doors opened once again to the new Pub 83. The current management has reinvigorated the space to cater to contemporary casual dining, featuring pizza, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads. The dining room is family friendly, and the bar has additional large screen T.V.’s for a sports-pub atmosphere. My husband and I enjoyed our recent dinner there, and with only five days in business so far, they were full on a Friday night. Based on all the inquiries I have received over the past few years, I know that we are one of many families who were eagerly awaiting the reopening of this Long Grove dining spot.

However, seeing Pub 83 finally back in business is bittersweet for me since it is the result of the most recent tie that I had to break on the Village Board. On August 23, 2016 owner George Calis came to our meeting to ask the trustees for a class V liquor and video gaming license, which our Board had established by ordinance earlier in the year. He stated that knowing he could have video gaming was the incentive he needed to reopen the long-shuttered establishment. Three of the trustees voted against allowing George his liquor and gaming license, and the remaining three trustees (who will all be leaving the board this month) voted to grant his request. While trying to be responsible for what is ultimately best for the village as a whole, I cast my tie-breaking vote to once again fill the vacant restaurant.

This week, it was great to enjoy a meal again at “Gridleys” surrounded by other residents socializing and having a good time in our village. I am glad to have played a small part to help empower this to happen, and I wish the all best for Pub 83. Stop by and give it a try!

Meals On Wheels

Attending the 2017 Lake County "Champions for Meals" event on Monday, March 20th with (L) Millie Hall, MOW Volunteer from Lake Forest, Angie Underwood, Long Grove Village President, and (R)   Diana O'Kelly, Fremont Township Supervisor.

Attending the 2017 Lake County “Champions for Meals” event on Monday, March 20th with (L) Millie Hall, Meals On Wheels volunteer from Lake Forest, Angie Underwood, Long Grove Village President, and (R) Diana O’Kelly, Fremont Township Supervisor.

I have a long-standing relationship with Meals on Wheels. Early in my career in Nutrition & Dietetics, I worked as a menu planner for a company that produced the meals for a senior delivery program in Cook County. Later as a young mom in 1988, I fastened my baby daughter in her car seat so she could go along for the ride as I delivered meals to home-bound senior citizens in Winfield, Wheaton, and West Chicago in DuPage County. Ten years down the road when we moved to Long Grove I volunteered in Lake County on the routes serving Wauconda, Lake Zurich, and Island Lake. As my kids got older I would schedule my delivery days on school holidays so that they could help physically deliver the meals, and this always earned extra smiles from the recipients. When my three children were student drivers, I made them do the driving on the route with me for extra practice backing up and parking. I reluctantly had to give up volunteering as a driver when I became Village President because of the need to make some room in my schedule for the demands of the Village. But all together I spent a little over 20 years doing my small part in helping needy seniors receive a hot lunch and a friendly check-in.

Many invitations show up in my inbox to attend charity events these days, and as much as I would like to I can’t attend them all. I try to pick the ones that will have the best impact for the Village, and the ones that are the most personally meaningful to me. Meals on Wheels is certainly personal. This past Monday, March 20th I had the opportunity to come together with other elected and government officials in Lake County to be a “Champion for Meals” and help deliver meals to seniors to bring awareness to this worthy program. I was paired with Millie Hall, a volunteer driver from Lake Forest, who helped me remember the joy of serving our fellow senior residents in this way.

The Meals on Wheels “more than just a meal” model addresses three of the biggest threats of aging:  isolation, hunger, and loss of independence. Nationally, 1 in 6 seniors struggle with hunger, and programs such as this deliver the support that keeps seniors in their own homes, where they want to be. This in turn reduces the early need for nursing home and hospital care, saving billions in healthcare costs. In 2016, over 122,400 home delivered meals were provided locally in our county. I was honored last week to help join with others to spotlight this needed program. In Lake County, Meals on Wheels is administered through Catholic Charities and you can find out more by visiting www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.

Delivering lunch to a Meals on Wheels senior citizen in Lake Zurich.

Delivering lunch to a Meals on Wheels senior citizen in Lake Zurich.

League of Extraordinary Mayors

Celebrating at the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Gala on January 27, 2017 with Joe Mancino, Mayor of Hawthorn Woods on my left, and Mandi Florip, Executive Director of the Lake County Municipal League.

Celebrating at the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Gala on January 27, 2017 with Joe Mancino, Mayor of Hawthorn Woods (on the left), and Mandi Florip, Executive Director of the Lake County Municipal League (on the right).

Serving as Village President has presented me with many opportunities, one of the best of which has been the chance to work alongside and get to know my counterparts in Lake County. I consider it a real privilege to have collaborated with and learned from some truly dedicated public servants, several of which I now consider friends. Cultivating and maintaining relationships of trust and mutual respect between our neighboring communities is a key role that I have made one of my priorities these last four years. It takes an investment of time, but one that can reap benefits for the Village both now, and into the future.

Long Grove is a member of several inter-governmental groups, most notably the Illinois Municipal League, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and Lake County Municipal League. I also have opportunities each month to represent Long Grove and interact with my fellow Mayors at County-wide meetings, events, summits, task forces, and open houses. We even have an informal “mayors lunch bunch” that convenes from time to time when the need for mutual support arises.

As we enter into the last month of election season leading up to the April 4th voting day, I want to send my best wishes to all my mayoral colleagues running again for another term. I am grateful for the experience of having served alongside some of the best citizens I will ever come to know.

Celebrating Small Business

Award nominees at the Lake Zurich Chamber of Commerce "Evening of Excellence" (L to R): John Kopecky of Country House of Long Grove, Jenny Wierzchen, Sarah Simon, and Rich Wierzchen of Primrose School of Long Grove.

Award nominees at the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce “Evening of Excellence” (L to R): John Kopecky of Country House of Long Grove, Jenny Wierzchen, Sarah Simon, and Rich Wierzchen of Primrose School of Long Grove.

I feel it is important in my role as Village President, and also as a member of my community, to do what I can to recognize, promote, and shop at our locally owned small businesses. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to put those words into action in a couple of different ways.

The Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors an annual “Evening of Excellence” awards dinner, in which individuals and businesses are honored for their successes and contributions to the community. I sponsored a table of Long Grove business owners to attend, especially to cheer for our home town nominees: Primrose School of Long Grove for the New Business of the Year award and owner John Kopecky of The Country House of Long Grove for Citizen of the Year. Even though our Long Grove honorees were not chosen as the overall winners this year, we all enjoyed celebrating many other excellent small businesses in the area. In fact, our group capped off the evening by sampling the food and beverages at Consume of Lake Zurich, the newly-minted best new business. When we mutually support one another, everyone wins!

This event also motivated me to do a little bit of last minute shopping in downtown Long Grove on Saturday afternoon. As I was mentally reviewing what I planned to wear that evening, I realized I did not have an appropriate evening purse to match my gown and shoes. Lynne Jankovec of Olivia’s Past was very helpful with stylish tips but did not have exactly what I needed on hand (however I did end up with a cute new blouse!) and suggested I check out fellow merchant Cleo Jewelry and Accessories. And there I found a beautiful cocktail purse that perfectly coordinated and was reasonably priced! That evening, I received several compliments on my new purse and I made sure to spread the word about the great local store where I found it.

We all have the ability to help our home town economies rebuild and thrive. Think outside of the (big) box and endless online options available. Sometimes, what you really need is right in your own backyard.

Congratulating my friend Lisa Warren of Kildeer (on the left), winner of the Citizen of the Year award.  Lisa and I go way back--volunteering together on the board of the Neighbors and Newcomers Club of Long Grove & Kildeer, almost 20 years ago!

Congratulating my friend Lisa Warren of Kildeer (on the left), winner of the Citizen of the Year award. Lisa and I go way back–volunteering together on the board of the Neighbors and Newcomers Club of Long Grove & Kildeer, almost 20 years ago. Way to go Lisa!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Decorated Christmas trees are popping up all over our historic downtown!

Decorated Christmas trees are popping up all over our historic downtown.

If you need some inspiration to get in the holiday mood, look no further than downtown Long Grove! The elves have been busy decorating 80 fresh evergreen trees scattered throughout our historic crossroads. Jump-start your Christmas cheer at two special events tonight only–both of which are FREE! Santa himself will be making a visit to Beans & Leaves coffee shop from 3-5, and he will be taking gift requests from both the naughty and the nice. Enjoy the beautiful lights and decorations as you shop till 7:00 this evening as the stores have extended hours. As a special holiday treat, from 5:00 till 7:00 the merchants are sponsoring free lighted wagon rides of our downtown, pulled by a vintage tractor. Top the night off with dinner or drinks at one of our Long Grove restaurants or gathering spots. Even the Grinch could not resist this much seasonal spirit!

Long Grove is charming any day of the year, but at Christmastime it really shines. For the next three weekends strolling carolers and complimentary carriage rides are available from 1 to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Happy Holidays!

 A festive holiday scene awaits in Long Grove!

A festive holiday scene awaits in Long Grove.

Woodlawn Blue Ribbon Celebration

Celebrating Woodlawn Middle School's recent Blue Ribbon Recognition with Principal Greg Grana.

Celebrating Woodlawn Middle School’s recent Blue Ribbon Recognition with Principal Greg Grana.

I had so much fun today visiting Woodlawn Middle School–nothing beats the energy of a gym full of 6th, 7th and 8th Graders on the verge of a holiday vacation! I was asked to participate in an assembly celebrating their recent recognition of a prestigious national award. Below is the text of my speech:

Speaking today at the Woodlawn assembly.

Speaking today at the Woodlawn assembly.

“Good afternoon! One of the best parts of my job as Village President is getting to recognize others for their successes; by giving out awards, congratulations, or praise. Today I couldn’t be more pleased and proud to be a part of the Woodlawn Middle School community, here to celebrate the distinction of earning the 2016 National Blue Ribbon Recognition from the U.S. Secretary of Education. Congratulations!

Having top-notch schools is an attribute that is highly valued by the residents of Long Grove. I know this for a fact. One year ago, in a village-wide survey we asked our residents to rate various aspects of our quality of life. Being “a place for high quality education” was ranked number one, with 93% responding that our schools are excellent or good. Clearly, having high-performing schools is important to our community.

I also know through first-hand experience that excellent schools matter, and that Woodlawn is terrific, because I am the parent of three Woodlawn graduates. I remember being here the first day Woodlawn opened to welcome students back in 1999, as my daughter was in the very first class of 6th Graders. I’ve logged in many hours over the years volunteering for special lunch, dessert day, lighted schoolhouse, school store…you name it…in addition to attending countless parent-teacher conferences. What I have seen, over and over, is the diligent, committed, and caring way the administration, faculty, and staff dedicate themselves to making sure all of our children are given the tools to succeed, not only here at Woodlawn, but later, in life.

As a representative of the citizens of the Village of Long Grove, it is with great honor that I celebrate with you today as you receive this award. Thank you for making your community proud!”

District #96 School Board President Marc Tepper joined me outside Woodlawn before the celebration.

District #96 School Board President Marc Tepper joined me outside Woodlawn before the celebration.