This past Tuesday a tragedy occurred in Fox Lake, a neighboring community in the northern part of Lake County. An on-duty police officer, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, was shot and killed while pursuing three suspects, who still remain at-large. The fallen officer was a married father of four sons, was well-known and respected in the community for his dedication to working with local youth in the police Explorers program, and was affectionately nicknamed “G.I. Joe.” He was a 30-year law enforcement veteran who was set to retire as soon as this month, according to Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit. As a fellow mayor, I have had the honor of getting to know Donny, and my heart goes out to everyone who is touched by this shocking loss. Mayor Schmit has the difficult challenge of helping his entire community heal from this sudden event, one that made the headlines of national newscasts.
A sudden event happened in Long Grove in April of last year, one that also made the national news. Without warning, a house in Royal Melborne subdivision exploded, leaving nothing but a fiery crater and scattering debris for miles. But for the grace of God, no one was seriously injured. However, eight additional families needed to be evacuated from their homes, and many more in the immediate area sustained moderate to minor damage. Visiting the disaster site the next morning was sobering and felt like something out of a movie set. That weekend, many community members and groups reached out to me and to the Village to offer assistance and support to the families affected by this shock. One year later, everyone seems to be back on their feet with repairs underway if not already completed. But to this day, I am still giving thanks that I did not have to help my community endure the loss of life that could have so easily happened.
The job title of Mayor includes many duties, some obvious and many unforeseen. Comforting a community in the wake of a tragedy is one role that we all hope to never have to assume. Mayor Schmit will be spending the holiday weekend paying his respects and helping his residents cope with the aftermath of this past week’s sad events. I know that his inherent kindness and compassion will serve him well in this regard. The people of Fox Lake will lean on one another and join together to honor Lt. Gliniewicz.