Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4

The Pumpkin Fest Parade


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG DeKalb High School freshman trombone player Cody Nance, 15, is reflected in the bell of his trombone as he marches down South Main Street in Sycamore during the Pumpkin Fest Parade on Sunday.
Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore High School jayvee cheerleaders Ciara Rieke, left, and Teal Anderson, both freshmen, flip their way down Elm Street in front of the Spartan marching band on Sunday during the Pumpkin Festival Parade.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Tony DiAna, left, Jay Elliott and Denny Heins of the DeKalb County Shriners take orders, pull pork chops and wrap sandwiches at their pork chop sandwich booth near State Street on Sunday afternoon. The organization hopes to collect around $5,000 to donate to support the 19 Shiner's hospitals and three burn centers the organization operates around the country which provide free care to children and teenagers under the age of 18.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The fun of the Pumpkin Fest Parade is not limited to those who get to march. A full-blown leaf battle took place along South Main Street as the legions of bands and organizations played and waved to and for the crowd. Doug Treftz, 6, of Aurora, was a smiling participant in the melee that drew youngsters from several adjoining house parties on Sunday afternoon.

Apert's Syndrome

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Kinze Johnson, 2, works with a physical therapist from the Northwestern Illinois Association, on her balance and body movements at Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Wednesday morning in DeKalb. Kinze has had three surgeries to repair her skull and separate her fingers because she has Apert’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects one in 160,000 children and causes malformations of the head, face and limbs. “I think it makes a big difference because you have people who are supporting you,” said Kinze’s mother, Stacy Johnson.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Kinze Johnson, 2, plays with bubbles after a physical therapy session at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in DeKalb on Wednesday morning. Kinze has Apert’s syndrome, which is a craniofacial and limb disorder caused by a genetic defect, and has been in therapy since she was 1 month old. Stacy Johnson, Kinze’s mother, believes the aid her daughter has received through Illinois’ Early Intervention program has been invaluable. “Her problem-solving abilities have just gotten better over time,” agreed Phyllis Rowland, Kinze’s physical therapist. She works for the Northwestern Illinois Association, a nonprofit regional special education cooperative. The Child and Family Connections branch office in Sycamore matches families with resources such as the NIA, and the state pays for the services.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sycamore Battles Montini Catholic

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore quarterback Nick Anderson, left, hands off to running back Cody Bex in the first quarter against Montini Catholic in the IHSA Class 5A opening-round playoff game on Saturday at Lombard.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Montini Catholic running back Dex Jones looks upfield on a run in the first quarter against Sycamore. Jones had 186 yards rushing on the day and scored one touchdown for the top-ranked Broncos.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore defensive lineman Kevin Schmidt, left, celebrates his tackle of a Montini running back for a loss with teammates Kevin Sabock, center, and Jason Schepler in the third quarter of the Spartan's playoff game against the Broncos.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore wide receiver Will Strack buries his helmet in the ground after he could not come up with a catch in the end zone during the fourth quarter of the Spartan's 14-3 loss to Montini in the IHSA Class 5A opening-round playoff game on Saturday at Lombard.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore head coach Joe Ryan emphasized to his team that while he was proud of their effort, they had come to Lombard to win the football game and not simply compete. The top-ranked Montini Catholic Broncos won a hard-fought battle against the smaller Spartan's 14-3 to advance to the second round of the IHSA Class 5A playoffs.

All Eyes on Her

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG All eyes in the audience, including proud mother Sharon Fisher, left, were on Samantha Fisher, 12, of the Marlyn Majorettes, as she modeled for judges during the Pumpkinpatch Pageant at Sycamore Middle School on Saturday morning. Fisher is a member of Sycamore's Maryln Majorette's, a group that had 6 local participants in this year's competition which included presentations in modeling, baton twirling, basic marching and strutting. "She's one of our best and a really fine young lady," said Majorettes founder Marlyn Burkart.

The Big One & The Little One

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore Lions Club members, from left, Rick Poe, Ed Kuhn, Don Stump and Jerome Perez roll the winner of the largest pumpkin contest, a 451-pound specimen from Heidi Edwards of South Beloit, back onto its resting place after weighing it on Saturday morning at the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Though it weighed but a 1/2 pound, entry #3229 from Kenzie Mathey of Sycamore got a fair share at the scale in the largest pumpkin contest at the 46th annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival on Saturday. The eventual winner, entry #3015 from Heidi Edwards of South Beloit, weighed in at 451 pounds.

G-K Romps

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Genoa-Kingston quarterback Chris Wilkins scrambles for yardage as Herscher defenders Zack Mitchell, left, and Steve O'Conner close in during first quarter action on Friday night at the opening game of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs at Genoa.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Genoa-Kingston fans celebrate a Cogs touchdown in the first half against the Herscher Tigers in the opening round of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Genoa-Kingston defenders Ben Demings, left, and Kevin Billington grab hold of Herscher running back Brian Daverin in the third quarter.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Herscher wide receiver Steve O'Conner slumps on the ground after missing a pass in the final minutes of the Tiger's last game of the season, a 39-34 loss to Genoa-Kingston in the opening round of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs at Genoa on Friday night.
Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The Genoa-Kingston Cogs celebrate their 39-34 opening-round IHSA Class 4A state football playoff victory over the Herscher Tigers on Friday night at Genoa. Before Friday night, Genoa-Kingston had not appeared in a postseason game since 1993. They face the Coal City Coalers on Saturday at Coal City.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Magnetics in the Field

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University senior Steve Zownoresa, 21, left, watches as his classmate David Drapa adjusts an Earth's Field NMR field and gradient coil on the university campus on Wednesday afternoon. The two students in the experimental physics class were calibrating the machine, which is essentially a low-power Magnetic Resonance Imager, so that they could induce a magnetic field that would cancel out the magnetic field of the earth in order to measure the magnetic fields of different samples such as water and salts. The pair set up their oscilloscope in the middle of a "living labyrinth" so as to be as far away from any metal as possible. Once the machine is correctly pointed toward due north, they will be ready to measure. "The earth's magnetic field is so low it will cause interference here. You have to be precise to cancel that out," said Zownorega.

Release the Hounds

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG On Tuesday afternoon, Ashley Saville, 21, of DeKalb rubs Mega-Tek Coat Rebuilder on Betsy, a bulldog she is hoping to adopt, at the hangar at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport where dogs seized from the property of Barbara Munroe of Rochelle are being held. Saville spends an hour each day rubbing lotion on Betsy’s ears, eyelids and wrinkles in addition to giving her an oatmeal bath every other day. “It was instant love,” Saville said.

Saville is one step closer to bringing Betsy home after Munroe, 65, voluntarily signed custody over to the TAILS Humane Society during a hearing at the Lee County Courthouse, Lee County Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Bollman said during a phone interview with the Daily Chronicle Tuesday night.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Old Packard, Made New

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG A freshly washed 1951 Packard hearse sits Monday in the driveway of Beverage Family Funeral Home in Sandwich. The automobile’s owner, Jeff Beverage, who bought the limousine-style, three-way hearse in 1990, said it may be the only vehicle of its kind in the world.

Soft spot for a classic

SANDWICH - It takes a while to get 50-some years of dirt out of upholstery.

A full day, in fact, for Jeff Beverage, owner of Beverage Family Funeral Home, and Lynn Hoffman, a funeral home employee.

The pair spent much of Monday morning on Terry Street near downtown Sandwich with a vacuum cleaner, a brush and some carpet soap as they went to work cleaning the interior of a converted 1951 Packard limousine-style, three-way hearse. A limousine-style vehicle has glass around the entire exterior. In a three-way hearse, the casket can come out both side doors and the rear.

The 8,000-pound vehicle came back with a shine Monday morning from a custom paint job from Black Magic Customs in Sandwich - the second coat of paint the car reportedly had ever received.

The limousine was painted with single-stage paint, just as it was the first time around.

“All the shine is from buffing,” Beverage said. “It's not clear-coat.”

Beverage bought the Packard in 1990 from a Tonica junkyard when he was in the ambulance business. He has put more than $15,000 into the car, including a complete overhaul of the engine, tires and exterior. The car runs on unleaded gasoline with a few knocks here or there and has only 24,000 miles on it.

The funeral home already has a hearse, a contemporary Cadillac, but Beverage has always had a soft spot for the oldies. As he was growing up, his uncle, also an ambulance operator, owned around 15 hearses.

Beverage recalls thinking, “How cool would it be to go around in this?” whenever he saw those hulking automobiles.

The hearse sitting on his property is a relic, but it rides like glass, Beverage said. He believes it is the only one of its kind in the world. The limousine-style and three-way features on the vehicle are what set it apart.

He has found two other Packard conversions on the Internet, but one was enclosed and the other had only a rear-loading capacity.

Now that he has the car cleaned out, it is ready for business.

“We never used it before, but now that we've got it where it's roadworthy, we'd have absolutely no problem using it again,” Beverage said.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The rear window of a hearse parked in Sandwich, but not owned by Beverage Family Funeral Home, advertises an optimistic take on end-of-life services.

'Tis the Season

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Tanner Saban (left) and Jim Young of the DeKalb Streets Division clean up piles from Arrowhead Lane on Monday morning, when the city began its leaf pickup. Some of the leaves they picked up on DeKalb’s north side Monday were left there against ordinances, which state that piles must be on the pathways next to the road to help expedite decomposition.

Kathy Kelly

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Chicago-based peace activist Kathy Kelly speaks to a group of about 40 people Sunday evening at First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeKalb. “Our president and his supporters waged a war of choice,” Kelly said.

Peace activist Brings Message to DeKalb

Kathy Kelly believes that the United States' current strategy in the Middle East is doing more harm than good to the people of those nations and to ourselves.

“We are pouring fuel on the fire of an arms race,” she said. “The United States is just another militia in the battle to control Iraq. If we support one faction over another, we are creating an inherently unpredictable situation.”

Kelly, 54, the Chicago-based co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, addressed about 40 people Sunday at First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeKalb. Kelly is a longtime activist for people displaced and harmed by the violence of war, and has been arrested and fined many times while demonstrating against war. She was arrested in 2004 for attempting to close a military combat training school at Fort Benning, Ga., and spent three months in the federal correctional institution in Pekin.

Her overarching message to the group gathered Sunday was that we all must bear witness to the human cost of war.

Kelly shared how she worked in Jordan this summer with Sonia, a 12-year-old Muslim peace activist from the United Kingdom who founded Children Against War five years ago to demonstrate the impact the war in Iraq is having on people of her generation. Kelly said she was helping Sonia create a documentary on the lives of young Iraqi refugees living in Jordan after being displaced by the war.

According to Kelly, one of the documentary's subjects had been forced to live with her family of 17 in a tool-shed-like structure after their Baghdad home had been destroyed by a bomb.

“The United States is uniquely unequipped to solve problems in Iraq,” she later said in her nearly hourlong address. She urged attendees to listen to what people who are in the margins are saying and then go fill in those margins with actions.

Drew Feltes, 22, of DeKalb was one of a few younger listeners in the audience. He thought Kelly's message was very important for the safety and security of the United States' future.

“The children that are lost in the sand over there, it's really sad it's happening at the hands of people who are wearing the American flag,” Feltes said.

Dan Kenney, the co-coordinator of the DeKalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice, the organization that helped to sponsor Kelly's talk, said he took away the message that “the Iraqi people are being hurt by this war and the best way to help the Iraqi people is to get our troops home.”

While Kelly's presentation was largely concerned with the Iraq war's cost in human lives, her message also addressed the potential for another crisis if the U.S. becomes engaged in a war with regional power Iran.

Kelly quoted former Secretary of State James Baker: “We will not wring our hands over memories of what may or may not have been done in Iraq in the past.” For Kelly, this attitude is an attempt to erase the impact the actions of the U.S. have on innocent people.

“If we don't tell the truth about what we're doing with this war, we are liable to do it again one country over,” Kelly said.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Golden Goal

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Hononegah's Brett Macy, left, and DeKalb's Keith Hendley battle for the ball in the second half of the DeKalb regional championship held Saturday at DeKalb High School.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Hononegah's Nic Haab, left, shoots the ball at close range into the arms of DeKalb goalie Tucker Smith as Nikko Tsiagalis, left, and Adam Curran, right look on in the second half.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG DeKalb's Ryan Black sprints toward his teammates after he clinched the DeKalb regional championship for the Barbs by scoring the game-winning goal with 30 seconds remaining in overtime against the Hononegah Indians on Saturday at DeKalb High School.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG DeKalb's Hellah Sidibe leads the Barbs off of the field toward their fans while holding aloft their DeKalb regional championship trophy after their 1-0 victory quadruple-overtime victory over the Hononegah Indians on Saturday.

1,000 Pounds of Eating Machines

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG As fireman Dan Marcinkowski (center) and Police Chief Don Thomas look on, Adam Honoites, the anchor eater on the Sycamore Fire Department squad, puts down his third of four ButterBurgers during a hamburger-eating contest between the Sycamore police and fire departments held at Culver’s on Saturday morning to benefit charity. The fire department won this year’s contest by slightly more than one burger during a 16-burger competition which were eaten among two teams of four officers.

Sycamore Fire Department out-eats police force

SYCAMORE - “I've got ten bucks on the fire department,” 11-year-old McKenna Marcinkowski said Saturday morning.

Her dad, Sycamore firefighter Dan Marcinkowski, sat just feet away as he limbered up his jaw with the rest of the combined 1,000 pounds of eating machine from the Sycamore Fire Department - Adam Honiotes, Mike Hardesty and Dustin Ruby - before the start of the second-ever hamburger eating contest between the Sycamore police and fire departments Saturday morning at Culver's.

“He's been practicing every day,” said the junior Marcinkowski.

If there was betting going on, the smart line would have been on the fire department. Sycamore Chief of Police Don Thomas was less than optimistic at his charge's chances.

“It looks to me that the fire department is in constant training for this contest,” Thomas said.

The contest was a fundraiser for the charities of choice for both organizations. The fire department planned to use their winnings of $1,000 to help buy new chairs for educational programs and the police department was to use their cut of $500 to fund a scholarship through the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 133.

Vicki Simon, manager of the Culver's on DeKalb Avenue, said they wanted to bring the competition back because they had such a good time the first year. Plus, she added, “It's a fun way of having them get some money.”'

The rules were simple: Two teams of four eaters eat four burgers each. The eating rotation would go clockwise around a table and all condiments were legal. History was on the side of the fire department - winners by a half of a burger when the contest was held two years ago.

Dustin Ruby was on that team too. His technique then, as it was this year, was to smash the burgers as flat as possible so he could get the whole thing in his mouth.

The police department fielded a team consisting of Marshall Flynn, George Maness, Joe Meeks and Rudi Ziegler. Flynn was a member of the police department squad that came up short in the previous bout.

“It was a good competition,” he recalled of that year's contest. “There was word of foul play, but I was eating so I didn't see.”

At first, the policeman, who led off with patrol officer Maness, above, seemed to struggle to match the speed and jaw power of the four firefighters.

But as the competition entered its later rounds, the wit and guile of the police department seemed to indicate an upset. But with a final push by Marcinkowski, the fire department put the contest away by just over a full burger.

Despite the outcome, Flynn was proud of his police department mates.

“For a team of rookies, they definitely came alive toward the end,” he said.

But, he noted, the tables may have been stacked.

“They (the fireman) are known to eat until they're tired and sleep until they're hungry,” he joked.

The Season: Playoffs!

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore's Marckie Hayes roars into the endzone past a diving Jake Glocker of Glenbard South in the third quarter of the Spartan's 20-14 victory over the Raiders on Friday night at Sycamore High School.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore Spartan defensive lineman Jason Schepler screams after tackling a Glenbard South runner in the second half.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Glenbard South quarterback Kevin Marshall runs into a wall of Sycamore defenders during the third quarter.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore ballboy Trenton Scott, 8, sprints off of the field during the second half of the Spartan's game on Friday night.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore seniors David Salvatore, left, and Jason Schepler race toward head coach Joe Ryan with a Gatorade cooler after the Spartan's victory qualified them for the postseason.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The Sycamore Spartans celebrate their 20-14 victory over Glenbard South on Friday night which set them up for an opening-round playoff game next Saturday against Lombard Montini.


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Subversive art on an exterior wall of Jack Arends Hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University

A Quiet Afternoon of Printmaking

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Assistant professor for Lithography at Northern Illinois University Ashley Nason, 38, examines a freshly rolled lithographic print in a studio in Jack Arends Hall on campus on Friday afternoon. Lithography is a "Very broad but complex and versatile medium," said Nason, who has been teaching the craft of printmaking at Northern Illinois for three years.

From prep to plate to press

Lithography still a practiced art form at NIU

By Eric Sumberg - Staff Writer

Ashley Nason worked efficiently on a Takach-Garfield Press on Friday in a back corner of the lithograph studio in Jack Arends Hall at Northern Illinois University.

Nason, 38, listened to National Public Radio as she methodically moved from prep to plate to press. Nason, an assistant professor of lithography at NIU, was making a lithographic print for a portfolio titled “I Want Your Skull.” She is making 37 detailed copies of a baby skeleton with a christening gown and holding a skeleton rosary.

“It's a democratic medium,” said Nason, a native of Chevy Chase, Md., who has been working at NIU for three years. “You can get the prints to so many places.”

Lithography is a relatively young medium. It was invented by Bavarian author Alois Senefelder in 1796 as a printing process that uses chemical processes to create an image. Lithography was a popular way to reproduce texts and artwork for commercial and fine art purposes for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

But lithography fell victim to the never-ceasing march of progress.

“Essentially, photography killed printmaking,” said Nason. “It no longer served a purpose for the public in terms of disseminating information.”

What students in classes taught by Nason and fellow instructor Michael Barnes do at NIU falls for the most part in the family of fine art lithography. While some may ask how a single print produced multiple times can be considered art, Nason said, “it's fine art because of the imagery. It's just another form of art. You can make additions. They're each individual original prints.”

The process Nason uses to create her prints is twofold. While traditional lithography is done on Bavarian limestone, the initial drawing Nason created with a greasy crayon was etched onto a plate using an acid emulsified with gum arabic, a natural gum derived from the acacia tree.

When this material was washed away, a skeleton of the original drawing was left on the plate which is kept wet with water. At this point, “All the wet areas resist the ink and then when you roll across it, it attracts the ink,” Nason said.

Nason estimated she'll work more than 20 hours to produce the 37 prints. The process of printmaking is laborious and the attention to detail requires a meticulous artist. Nason has been working on prints for 15 years since she made her first piece as an undergraduate student.

“The most important thing to know is that (printmaking) is a very viable and alive medium within fine arts,” Nason said. “They (people) see it and don't realize what they're seeing. It's a very broad but complex and versatile medium.”

The room was still as she cleaned off the glass plate which held the oil-based lithographic printing ink that she used to roll her plates, save for her practiced movements.

“In a lot of ways, it is like cooking,” she said. “There's a lot of steps and you have to do everything the right way or things will go wrong.”
Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Three untitled prints that lithographic artist Ashley Nason created for a portfolio entitled "I Want Your Skull."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Operation Rescue

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Teresa Lowrance of Belvidere cleans behind the cages at the back edge of the hangar being used to house the over 260 dogs and cats which were confiscated from the property of Barbara Munroe of Rochelle over the weekend. "It's a very sad situation for both the dogs and the owner," said Lowrance, adding that she came because "It's just the right thing to do."

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG TAILS Humane Society volunteer Olivia Miller, 8, of DeKalb, giggles as a trio of dachsunds squirm to give her kisses on Monday afternoon in the hangar at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport where dogs confiscated from the property of Barbara Munroe of Rochelle are being held.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Patrick Pierre

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Patrick Pierre, 27, of DeKalb cruises down the sidewalk alongside Hillcrest Drive on his in-line skates Monday afternoon. Pierre has been riding to work, to shopping and to go out for about two weeks after deciding he wanted to be in shape and that he didn’t want to take the bus to work any longer. “I’ve always done the difficult things in life,” he said.

Alternative Transportation

DeKalb man skates his way around town

DeKALB - Maybe you've seen him.

There aren't too many others who look like he does doing what he is doing. He's the 5-foot-10-inch, muscle-bound, 27-year-old man who has been in-line skating across Peace Road and through downtown DeKalb in the afternoon during the past few weeks.

That's Patrick Pierre. Give him a wave the next time you see him. He'll wave back.

“I try my best to be a nice guy in this world,” Pierre said. “I'm a very positive character.”

Pierre was born in the Bahamas and moved to Miami, Fla., at age 8. He came to the Midwest on a wrestling scholarship at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove and then transferred to Kishwaukee College. He eventually landed at Northern Illinois University.

While he didn't finish his degree, he has remained in DeKalb since 2000 to be near his children.

Pierre is a man on the move. When he leaves his job at the Commercial Vehicle Group near DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, he straps on his shock absorber skates and dons his backpack of supplies - water, a burger, a sweater and shoes - and starts hot-footing it down through DeKalb to destinations near and far.

“I ride to see my kids, I ride to work, I ride to go shopping,” he said. “I figure gas is getting expensive, kind of, and this is doing me some good. Plus it's fun. Real fun.”

Beyond his contributions to the local environment, Pierre said he is, at heart, a thespian. On open-mic nights at The House Cafe in the downtown, Pierre, who is black, performs pantomime based on slavery.

“You know what the Blue Man Group does? That's what I do, but it's black,” he said.

Pierre plans to take up cross-country skiing if he can find affordable skis in the winter. His ultimate goal, however, is to escape the Midwest and move to California.

“I consider myself to be California-minded,” he said. “If I could skate there, I would.”

Life seems relatively simple for a man like Patrick Pierre.

“I accept my flaws,” he said as he brushed himself off from a spill he took, the first in two weeks, he claimed. “I'm a father, I work, and I try to work out with the time I have as much as I can,” he said.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Animal Disaster in Rochelle

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG TAILS Humane Society employee Jon Koffenberger tries to corner a Siberian huskie in a pen outside of the home of Barbara Munroe while fellow staff member Sheron Turska keeps watch for other dogs on Sunday afternoon outside of Rochelle. The approximately 250 living dogs, cats and birds that were discovered over the weekend on the property are now being cared for by TAILS in a hangar in DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport.

260-plus pets seized from Rochelle home

Described ‘animal lover’ charged with animal cruelty

ROCHELLE — A Lee County woman was arrested Friday on multiple charges of animal cruelty after authorities found more than 300 living and dead dogs, cats and birds on property she lives on south of Rochelle.

The animals are being cared for by TAILS Humane Society in DeKalb. Lee County Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Bollman said more than 230 dogs, cats and birds have been rescued from the home. He estimated another 100 dead animals, mostly cats, have been recovered, a number he said was “a conservative estimate.” He did not deny reports that some of the carcasses were in storage containers or freezers.

TAILS had catalogued 263 rescued animals as of Monday morning, Executive Director Beth Drake said.

Barbara Munroe, 65, of 1912 Melugins Grove Road was arrested Friday and is being held in the Lee County Jail on $35,000 bond.

Authorities were alerted to the situation early Thursday after Lee County Animal Control Warden Jack Nicklaus saw three bulldogs inside Munroe’s home.

Nicklaus and Animal Control administrative assistant Nancy Cullen had been visiting the property since early last week to feed dozens of purebred dogs that lived in maintained kennels outside Munroe’s home, after a tearful Munroe called the agency Tuesday for help.

“For all these years, these are the only dogs we knew about,” Cullen said. “In the past, she’s had hired employees to help feed, water and take care of the animals. They quit in the last two months, and she is physically unable to take care of the dogs.”

Lee County Animal Control officials have been working with Munroe for 12 years, but had seen only the dogs kept in kennels and pens outside the home, Nicklaus said. They knew there were cats inside the house, but did not have probable cause to go inside because cats do not require vaccination, he said.

The situation changed when he saw the dogs in the home late last week.

Additionally, Munroe did not let visitors inside the house and would exit through the back door and walk around to the front whenever greeting visitors, Nicklaus said.

There is no state law limiting the number of pets a person can have in Illinois, Bollman said, as long as the animals are cared for. Bollman said Munroe had at least 80 dogs living outside her ranch-style home and another 50 living inside. There were also at least 100 indoor cats found, and officials are still trying to capture and count all of the outdoor cats. In addition, Munroe had between seven and 10 birds in the house, he said.

“The dogs were in varying conditions,” Bollman said. “Many were dehydrated and malnourished and had skin, eye or ear infections. Some had very serious conditions. ... We also found a number of cats in the basement who were literally minutes from death.”

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG TAILS Humane Society president-elect Regina Harris is overcome with emotion after returning to the property of Barbara Munroe south of Rochelle at which over 300 dogs, cats and birds in various states of health were discovered this past weekend. The animal care organization is housing the pets in a hangar at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport until further legal action. "We're hoping for donations," said Harris. "It's been emotional."

Munroe is being described as an “animal lover” by Lee County Animal Control officials, who may have thought she was rescuing or helping the pets she had at her home. Drake estimated Munroe had nearly $200,000 worth of animals, shelter and medical equipment at her residence.

“She hates to ask for help,” Nicklaus said. “She meant good, but as she lost her help, she didn’t have anyone to feed the dogs.”

Officials became suspicious that there were issues with the animals after Munroe repeatedly rescheduled appointments with veterinarians to vaccinate around 30 of her dogs in June.

Lee County Animal Control obtained a search warrant from Lee County State’s Attorney Paul Whitcombe on Thursday. The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare contacted TAILS Humane Society on Thursday to request its assistance.

Drake said the initial shock of seeing the home was overwhelming.

“The smell in there is very overpowering, your eyes burn immediately,” she said. “It’s beyond filthy, there is really no way to describe it.”

Volunteers with TAILS describe a home in which every room is covered with cages, pens, medical waste or piles — up to 14 inches high in some places — of fecal matter, urine and hair. The house is unlivable, Bollman said, and is expected to be condemned Monday.

“I went home and I was just numb,” said TAILS Humane Society senior obedience trainer Amanda Weidis. “No one can ever imagine that.”

Whitcombe has brought against Munroe eight counts of animal cruelty and two counts of neglect of owner’s duties to companion animals. She was scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Monday at the Lee County Courthouse.

“She’s concerned about the welfare of the animals,” Whitcombe said.

Sharon Farley, a co-founder of TAILS, had sympathy for Munroe.

“It’s an act of compassion and it just gets out of hand,” she said. “After a while you have so many animals you don’t know up from down.”

The animals are now being housed at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport in a hangar donated by Ed Kling of Steffens & Kling appraisers. The animals currently still belong to Munroe, although TAILS is in charge of their safety and will in all likelihood receive custody, Drake and Whitcombe said.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG On Sunday, TAILS Humane Society and Lee County Animal Control returned to the property of Barbara Munroe, 65, outside of Rochelle to attempt to capture the last remaining dogs of the nearly 300 dogs, cats, and birds that she kept in her house and in pens. "Every one of these dogs meant the world to her," said Nancy Cullen, administrative assistant for the Lee County Animal Control.

The Local Impact

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Carolyn Stahl, a volunteer with the TAILS Humane Society, holds a bassett hound after taking it for a walk at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport on Sunday. TAILS executive director Beth Drake, right, said that the organization has doubled its volume of animals overnight. "It's a big strain to find the people to care for these animals," said Drake.

Plane hangar turned into makeshift shelter

By Eric Sumberg - Staff Writer

DeKALB - A local humane society is in a state of crisis after the discovery of a home south of Rochelle that held more than 300 dogs, cats and birds.

The Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare alerted TAILS Humane Society on Thursday evening to the animals, TAILS Executive Director Beth Drake said.

One of Drake's first calls was to TAILS supporter Steven Milner of Milner & Associates Commercial Real Estate in DeKalb. Milner secured space for the animals in a hangar, owned by Ed Kling of Steffens & Kling appraisers, at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport. Volunteers from TAILS worked throughout the weekend at the site to clean, groom and walk the 157 cats and 106 dogs.

“We pretty much doubled our volume of animals overnight,” Drake said. “It's been a huge financial drain as well.”

TAILS has temporary custody of the animals because they still belong to owner Barbara Munroe, Drake said. Munroe, 65, who lives at 1912 Melugins Grove Road south of Rochelle, was arrested Friday on eight charges of animal cruelty and two counts of neglect of a companion animal, and is being held in Lee County Jail on $35,000 bond.

Local pet stores sprang into action once they were alerted of the crisis on Saturday. PetSmart district service manager Chuck Grimes solicited help from stores in DeKalb, Aurora, South Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Rockford and Geneva, and it came in the form of hundreds of pounds of food, cages and cat box filler.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG

Five employees of area Petco stores volunteered their time during the weekend to help groom the animals. One of those groomers, Joselyn Ambrose, above, of the Petco in Geneva, was at the hangar until 10:30 p.m. Saturday and was back at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

“We're just trying to get everybody so they're comfortable,” she said. “They're really friendly and well-behaved for being in the situation they're in. Most of them look pretty healthy.”

The dogs are being held in the large hangar space while the cats are being kept in the site's office.

“It's way more than I ever thought it would be,” said Kling, a professed dog-lover who has taken in a few strays over the years. “I didn't expect the cats.”

“It's for a good cause,” he said. “I've got my eye on a couple of dachshunds.”

But, he added with a laugh, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

About 30 to 40 volunteers walked from crate to crate Sunday afternoon checking water levels, changing newspapers and taking the animals for walks. DeKalb's Zach Nailor, 11, came Saturday and Sunday to carry cat and dog cages, said his mother, Katie Nailor.

“I just thought it was really sad how neglected the cats and dogs were,” Zach Nailor said.

Jenni Johnson, TAILS shelter supervisor, said it's been a hard few days for employees.

“But we've seen the support from our volunteers,” she said. “People are coming out of the woodwork.”

Staff members will do double-duty, fulfilling their regular shelter responsibilities and then working with the rest of the animals, she said. Those interested in helping should call TAILS and find out where help is needed, she said.

Drake believes it will not be difficult to find people or organizations to take the purebred dogs. But it will be tougher to adopt out the cats, most of which are purebred as well, she said.

“We want to thank the TAILS Humane Society,” Lee County State's Attorney Paul Whitcombe said. “If they hadn't been here, we really would have been in trouble.”

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Volunteers for the TAILS Humane Society have been helping to process and groom over 250 dogs and cats which have been brought to a hangar at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport throughout the weekend. TAILS is facing a crisis as it has received in two days more animals than it currently houses in its facility in DeKalb. "It's a mini-Katrina," said TAILS founding President Kathy Stelford.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

NIU falls to Western Michigan

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University fans partied with aplomb before the Huskies took on Western Michigan on Saturday. The song of choice for these fans: Michael Jackson's "Thriller".

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois Huskies players celebrate after D.J. Pirkle, not pictured, recovered a fumble from Western Michigan running back Brandon West on the opening drive of the game.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Western Michigan defenders Zach Davidson (90) and Boston McCornell (43) drive Northern Illinois wide receiver Matt Simon (85) backwards during the second quarter.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois Huskies wide receiver Matt Simon is all alone as he sprints to the end zone on a halfback option pass thrown by Marcus Perez in the first quarter against Western Michigan.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois defenders Cory Hanson, left, and Chase Carter put the squeeze on Western Michigan wide receiver Jamarko Simmons in the second quarter of the Huskies' 17-13 loss.