Celebrating Girl Scout Week

Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts helping me proclaim National Girl Scout Week in Long Grove on March 8th, 2016.

Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts helping me proclaim National Girl Scout Week in Long Grove on March 8th, 2016.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and what better way to celebrate than by inviting some of our female leaders of tomorrow to help lead the Pledge of Allegiance at our Village Board meeting. Thanks to the girls of Junior Girl Scout Troop #40465 from Country Meadows Elementary and Cadette Girl Scout Troop #41041 from Woodlawn Middle School who joined me in honoring Girl Scout Week with an official proclamation. And of course, being a former Girl Scout myself and a Girl Scout leader for many years, I had the perfect chance to dig out my old scouting sweatshirt and remember the great times spent with my daughter’s troop, symbolized by all the patches. Did you know this week marks Girl Scouts 104th anniversary of Girl Scouting in the United States? A few more tidbits from the proclamation include:

WHEREAS, Girl Scouts is a global movement that thinks big and acts locally. Programs and experiences are designed to help every girl discover her sparkle. In addition to singing, dancing, hiking, and canoeing, our local Girl Scouts use problem-solving skills to make an impact in our community and around the world; and

WHEREAS, the mission of Girl Scouts is to change lives by building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place; and

WHEREAS, more than 55,440 girls and 21,381 adults are involved locally in Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that I, Angela Underwood, past Girl Scout and Girl Scout Leader and now Village President of Long Grove do hereby recognize National Girl Scout Week, March 6th-12th, 2016, and declare the same as official Girl Scout Week in Long Grove.

FURTHER, I urge all citizens of Long Grove to join me in recognizing the achievements and leadership of our local Girl Scouts and volunteers; thank them for their valuable community service and encourage the future success of this organization.

An Excellent Evening

Britteny and Barb Gesheidle, owners of Smokin' T's BBQ and nominees for Business of the Year.

Brittney and Barb Gescheidle, owners of Smokin’ T’s BBQ and nominees for Business of the Year.

The Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce recently held their annual dinner and awards gala, an “Evening of Excellence.” Last year I attended this event for the first time, and made a promise to myself that I would nominate some Long Grove residents for awards in 2015. Smokin’ T’s is a favorite local restaurant not only for the BBQ, but because of the service they do to our local veterans in providing free meals for needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. So this was an obvious choice for my nominee as “Business of the Year.” I was also motivated to nominate one of our recently retired Village Trustees, Joseph Barry, for his three decades of service to Long Grove in many different volunteer capacities. And I am happy to announce that Joe was presented with the “Citizen of the Year” award! As luck would have it, Joe was in Hawaii last week so I had the honor of going on stage and accepting the award for him, and we will have a repeat awards presentation with Lake Zurich Chamber officials at our next Village Board meeting on February 9th. And even though Joe was having a much better time in paradise, our Long Grove table whooped it up for him in celebration of his big win. The event was attended by many local business owners, community volunteers, and government officials on the national, state, and local level. It certainly was an excellent evening of fellowship, great food, dancing, and recognition of some of the best individuals our community has to offer.

L to R Outgoing Chamber President Ken Grooms, me (doing my best Joe Barry impersonation), and State Representative Ed Sullivan. Photo credit: ANICHOLEPORTRAIT

The Last Volunteer Mayor

Speaking at a local community event this spring.

Speaking at a local community event this spring.

Last week the Village Board gave me a new title. I will be the last Village President to serve Long Grove in a voluntary capacity. The Trustees have decided that starting in 2017, when my current term expires, this position will become salaried. Granted, it’s not much at $14,400 a year. But for the first time since our Village was incorporated in 1956, our Mayor will be paid.

This change came about quickly. Personally, I was surprised that this was even being considered, especially as it conflicts with the policy set forth in our Comprehensive Plan. The rationale given is that making the position paid will encourage more candidates to run for the office in future elections.

I think it takes a special kind of person to want to step up to the responsibility and challenge of holding any elected office. One who is at heart a public servant, and who has the ability to put what is best for the community ahead of what is best for themselves. And one who is willing to pay a personal price in being vulnerable to public scrutiny without any recourse.  The best sort of individuals will do this without needing to be motivated by money or perceived power. The Village deserves to have that type of citizen in this role.

I agree with the need to have money set aside in a budget for expenses that are incurred while representing the Village. It has become increasingly necessary for our Village President to interact and serve with other local, county, and state officials on issues that encompass the entire metropolitan Chicago area. Long Grove is no longer an island amongst suburbia. However, the Trustees were clear in their desire for this compensation to be a salary or stipend, without any “strings attached” to turn in receipts for validation.

Putting my own thoughts and concerns aside, I remain a firm believer in majority opinion, and so I accept this change and will support going forth with the wishes of the Board. Time will tell us if a future Mayor just voted himself a salary.

Honoring the Heroes of 9/11

The newly dedicated Heroes of Freedom Memorial in Wauconda.

The newly dedicated Heroes of Freedom Memorial in Wauconda.

This morning I had the honor of attending a dedication ceremony for the new Heroes of Freedom Memorial in our neighboring community of Wauconda. Frank Bart, Mayor of Wauconda extended a personal invitation to me to attend, and I am so grateful that I took the opportunity. This memorial has been years in the making, and is a tribute to those who sacrificed so much on September 11, 2001 and for those who have served in the years since in Afghanistan and Iraq in the Global War on Terrorism. The impressive memorial features a 19 foot tall beam from the World Trade Center North Tower, set on a Pentagon base, surrounded by four benches representing each of the four hijacked planes that crashed that morning.  The memorial was constructed entirely with donated items, labor, services, and funds from Wauconda and the greater community.

Mayor Bart, himself a veteran, opened the ceremony which featured patriotic music from local bands and choirs, along with remarks from dignitaries. Three members of the NYFD traveled to Illinois to attend this service and speak of their experiences that day. Kirk Morris, a Gold Star father of Marine PFC Geoffrey Morris, spoke on behalf of all families who have lost loved ones to this cause. The Morris family has contributed greatly in the creation of this memorial. Dylan Morris took on the management, design and installation of the landscaping as his Eagle Scout project, and as a tribute to his fallen brother. He traveled to Shanksville, PA with his father to bring back soil from the crash site to be used in the raised flower beds.

I was most moved by hearing the words of Lt. Colonel Ryan Yantis, who is a 9/11 Pentagon Survivor. His personal story and remembrances, along with his encouragement to all of us to “continue to do what is right, to do what you can in your own life to serve our country,” was touching and inspiring. Today’s ceremony was an expression of honor, love, and support and I am humbled to have been able to participate.

Golden Girl

Girl Scout Erin McDermott in the butterfly garden she has created at Reed Turner.

Girl Scout Erin McDermott in the butterfly garden she has created at Reed Turner.

One of the more enjoyable things that I get to do as Village President is to recognize students for their achievements. Today I was honored to meet Erin McDermott, who is completing her Gold Award project for Girl Scouts here in Long Grove at Reed Turner Woodland and Nature Center. Many of us are familiar with the Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouting. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest honor that can be achieved, and 2016 marks it’s 100th anniversary.

For Erin’s project, she chose to restore a prairie and install a butterfly garden and sitting area at the Woodland. This afternoon she held a ribbon cutting ceremony, education session, and open house to unveil the restored garden to the public. I was lucky enough to get a personal tour by Erin, and see the beautiful wildflowers and benches she has created on which to sit and contemplate nature. It is a great enhancement to an already wonderful community treasure.

In today’s world, our kids have so many choices about how they want to spend their time. I want to thank Erin for giving of her time to make our community a little bit better. I was happy today to congratulate her for sharing what she has learned, and for her recent accomplishments.  And, I will be making some trips back in the months ahead to check for more butterflies!


Congratulations, Madame President!

Congratulating Sarah Knight on her installation as President of the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer, and Hawthorn Woods.

Congratulating Sara Knight on her installation as President of the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer, and Hawthorn Woods.

Those people who know me also know that I believe in the value of women as leaders. I think that our country could benefit by having more women in the male-dominated field of politics. I am fortunate to have many like-minded voters in our area of Lake County to support this view, as our two closest neighbors, Kildeer and Buffalo Grove also have female mayors. Last month, I was honored to attend the installation ceremony of the new President of the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer, and Hawthorn Woods. It was as recently as 1989 that Rotary International voted to first allow women to join this community service group. Sara Knight is now serving her second term as our local club president. No stranger to leading groups of men, Sara is the owner and President of her own Engineering firm. On top of working full-time and making a major volunteer commitment to Rotary, Sara and her husband are also busy raising two elementary-age children.

Last week the Chicago Tribune had an article on the front of the business section titled “trails yet to be blazed by women.” The NFL has just hired its first female coach, Jen Welter of the Arizona Cardinals. But also listed were some top jobs that a woman has never occupied:  CEO of a top U.S. bank (as measured by assets), Librarian of Congress, U.N. Secretary-General, Chief Justice of the United States, Director of the CIA, Director of the FBI, Vice President and President of the United States.

So it seems that despite our local success, there is still some progress to be made nationally. I am confident that with women like Sara leading the way, our daughters have an even brighter future of opportunities awaiting them.

Old Glory in Barnwood

Artist Marie Roth poses with Aaron and I on Flag Day, 2014.

Artist Marie Roth poses with Aaron and I on Flag Day, 2014.

In honor of Flag Day this past weekend, and Father’s Day this coming weekend, I thought it would be fitting to post the story behind this picture. It was taken on June 14, 2014, and Father’s Day fell on the following day. Local artist Marie Roth had given a program in downtown Long Grove’s Fountain Square, entitled “Old Glory in Barnwood.” Among her many artistic endeavors, Marie crafts replicas of historical American flags out of wood recycled from old barns, many of them right here in Lake County. After her presentation, members of the Long Grove Historical Society gave tours of our restored 1850’s farmhouse, and walking tours of the historic downtown. That explains my husband Aaron’s unusual costume in the photo above. Marie is a member of our local Art Guild, which is a part of the Long Grove Arts and Music Council. At the time, the Art Guild had a gallery space and many of Marie’s flags were on display. We were so taken with her art that we were motivated to purchase the flag shown above for my Dad, Bill Killian, as his Father’s Day gift last year. He loved it, and it is now hanging in his home office, where he enjoys seeing it every day. So for those of you interested in American history, here are a few facts about this flag:

This 21 star flag of the United States became the official flag on July 4, 1819, recognizing the admission of Illinois to the union on December 3, 1818. It was with the admission of Illinois that Congress declared that a new national flag would be unfurled for the first time on the July 4th following the admission of each new state. This flag is painted on flooring from a barn built on Molidor Road in Grant Township, Lake County, Illinois circa 1867. In the German style of barns, it was built to house dairy herds on the first floor. The second floor of the barn was accessed by a dirt ramp, and was where the family lived and worked and where supplies were kept.

Lions Club Reaches a Milestone

Downtown Long Grove Merchants Ryan Messner (L) and John Kopecky(R) preview a Lion's fundraising idea.

Downtown Long Grove Merchants Ryan Messner (L) and John Kopecky(R) preview a Lions fundraising idea.

Congratulations are in order to the Lions Club of Long Grove for recently reaching a significant milestone. Since they were first organized in 1983, the club has donated a cumulative total of over $800,000 to local and international charitable causes. That’s fantastic! During a recent chat with local Lion John Kopecky, who is a Past-President of the club, I learned that the organization was started in 1913 by Helen Keller. She is the inspiration behind the Lions long-standing support of charitable causes benefitting sight and sound. As far as local charities, the Long Grove club supports many area food pantries including those in Waukegan, Lake Zurich, Buffalo Grove, and Vernon Township. They are an annual contributor to the Long Grove Arts & Music Council, helping bring free local concerts to our community. Other agencies they have helped include: Omni House, Center on Deafness, Misericordia, and many, many other worthy causes. The Lions Club does all this with the help of 47 members, headed up this past year by Jeff Taylor as President, and Craig Cosik taking the lead as the new incoming President. To do all these good works, the Lions must continually raise funds, and they have done this in the past by sponsoring the “Lion’s Den” concession tent near the covered bridge at the Long Grove festivals. Candy Days in September and the annual Golf Outing in October help bring in needed funds as well. New this coming year is a plan to sell Long Grove T-shirts. I am very impressed by the generosity this group has shown both to our community, and the international community at large. Well done, Lions Club of Long Grove, and best wishes as you work to reach your next charitable goal!

Oath of Office

Congratulating Village Clerk Heidi Locker-Scheer on her new term of office.

Congratulating Village Clerk Heidi Locker-Scheer on her new term of office.

Many smiles were in evidence at our Village Board meeting this week as we welcomed some new and returning elected officials. Continuing for another term are Village Clerk Heidi Locker-Scheer and Trustee Stan Borys. Trustees taking the Oath of Office for the first time were Bill Jacob and Michael Sarlitto. Swearing in ceremonies are by nature joyful and optimistic events, and this one was no exception. Our first meeting with the new team in place went smoothly and we tackled some important issues such as adoption of the updated fire code, revisions of the upcoming resident survey, and a presentation of financing options for infrastructure repairs and expansion. Plenty of work lies ahead for our new Board as we meet the challenges of revitalizing our downtown and our infrastructure, while continuing a high quality of life for our residents in Long Grove. The Village Board is at the beginning of the next leg of our journey, and so far, we are off to a great start!

With Sincere Thanks


Tuesday night’s Village Board meeting marked the retirement of yet another long-standing volunteer, Trustee Charlie Wachs.  Having grown up in Long Grove, Charlie can tell stories of riding a pony to Kildeer school, and remembers our Village when it only had 500 residents and everyone knew each other.  He has raised his family here, and been a supporter of many community activities including serving on the Board of Trustees for eight years, from 2007-2015.  Charlie has put in countless hours as the head of our Infrastructure and Public Works committees.  He has also been a long-term member of the Pathways committee, which is where I first became acquainted with Charlie.  Scouting out potential path connections, no trail or mud-filled underpass could be too rough for Charlie!  He has been instrumental in many of the positive changes in recent years that have set the stage for the revitalization of our downtown and our infrastructure.  Under his  guidance our TIF district was established, along with Sunset Grove, the renovated Archer parking lot and building pads, the Village water plant, and many other improvements.  With gratitude, Charlie was thanked for his gift of time, expertise, and caring, to make his hometown a better place for us all.