Browsing News Entries

A Little Garden History

It has become a tradition for our December column to offer up gift ideas for gardeners. Books make the very best gifts! This year ease the holiday shopping challenge by giving gardeners on your list a book. There many fantastic books available. Following are some of our favorite recommendations.

One of our first and most useful gardening books is Edward C. Smith’s, The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible. For someone new to food gardening, this is a great place to start. Smith’s advice is practical and helpful. He covers each crop in detail, with planting schedules and tips, growing information, and pest and disease management. This book is valuable to the novice or the veteran gardener.

Craig LeHoullier’s Epic Tomatoes, the result of decades of experience cultivating and breeding tomatoes, guides readers through all aspects of growing tomatoes. From staking to disease prevention to fertilizing, as well as collecting and saving seeds, this book covers it comprehensively. Epic Tomatoes features over 200 of the best tomato varieties for the home garden. While it is beautiful enough to sit on the coffee table this work will be a much-used resource.

The ideal book for small-space and container gardeners, Container Gardening Complete by Jessica Walliser provides practical advice on cultivation, plant selection, drainage, irrigation, watering concerns and managing common pests and diseases, to inspiring projects and design. This is a great guide for all kinds of growing in containers.

Another great book is Rhonda Massingham Hart’s Vertical Vegetables and Fruit. This book will guide those short on gardening space by introducing the advantage of vertical acreage. Hart offers the how-to of making food grow up in many creative ways. Growing vertically is also helpful for those who have physical challenges that limit mobility.

Companion Planting for the Kitchen Gardener by Allison Greer explains the principles of companion planting, how plants interact, and how you can use that information to your garden’s benefit. There is an entire chapter devoted to each of the fifteen most popular vegetables, with charts, diagrams, and descriptions. The book is complemented with photography by Tim Greer.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and great gardening new year.

American Legion Christmas party wraps up the year

Marengo American Legion Post 192 held
their Christmas party at Indian Oaks Park on
Thursday, Nov. 29. Commander Larry Dochterman
thanked everyone for their efforts
throughout the year. He recognized Dan Bickel
for his work organizing fundraisers, and
presented the Women’s Auxiliary with a check
for $777.13 as their portion of the recent meat
raffle fundraiser. Women’s Auxiliary president
Connie Boxleitner presented Scott Fricke of
Boy Scout Troop 163 with covers for their flags
and called for volunteers to help pack Christmas
boxes for overseas troops. Dochterman
thanked Tom Anderson for supplying the
meat for the dinner, Joe Sakowski for performing
the music for the event, and started off the
games for the evening. Prizes were awarded
and everyone professed to have had fun.

BSA Troop 530 Eagle Scout Award

Saturday November 3rd Alex Sekulic, 15, of BSA Troop 530 was awarded the prestigious Eagle Scout Award at Victory Rock Fellowship Church in Marengo. He was fortunate to have his father, Doug Sekulic, Asst. Scout Master along with the other troop leaders, fellow scouts and Life Scout Mike Grant participate in his ceremony. Alex, achieved this milestone through the completion of merit badges, community service and his Eagle Project. He constructed a very nice stone firepit located at his church VRF, where the youth group can enjoy bonfires throughout the summer and fall months. He successfully raised money through donations and contributions to purchase the materials, but most importantly gathered volunteers to help complete his project. The goal of an Eagle Project is to utilize project management skills and resourcefulness to complete a valued project such as this. Alex looks forward to continuing with Troop 530 as a mentor and leader to younger scouts.

Zion Lutheran Church Celebrates Pastor Borhart’s 28 Years of Service

On December 16, Zion Lutheran Church’s congregation will gather for one final service led by their Senior Pastor of 28 years , Dr. Glen Borhart. Pastor Borhart had dedicated his life to ministry and education beginning with his own Christian education at Trinity Lutheran Church in Huntley, where he was raised. The 6th of 8 children with a faithful upbringing in a farming family, he didn’t decide on a pastoral career until his Freshman year in college. Pastor Borhart would complete a degree in Education at Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, IL. After graduation, he would marry his high school sweetheart, Dale Ann Nevel and move to Springfield so he could attend Concordia Theological Seminary, which would then relocate them to Fort Wayne, IN. They would welcome their first child, Jason, while there. The next move would take them to Clearwater FL for his vicarage year. An opportunity to learn sign language and working with the deaf at Rogate Lutheran Church would be skills he would use until this day. The last year of seminary training, a move back to Fort Wayne, IN would complete his ministry training and be called to serve at Rogate and be ordained on July 1, 1979. This service at Rogate would provide exceptional opportunities, as mentored by Pastor Frank Wagenknecht while supporting two churches, one traditional and one for the deaf. In September 1981 Pastor Borhart would baptize his second child, a daughter named Jessica (Jessi). Before departing Rogate an artist had been commissioned to create stained glass windows for the church depicting stories from the Bible. In one was Jesus on the cross, viewed from behind and above. Pastor would be the live model for the artist during design.

With young children and aging parents, the desire to move closer to “home” would make accepting the call at Zion Lutheran Church in Marengo that much easier. On December 9, 1990 would mark the first day of 28 years of service. Jason would begin Zion in 8th grade and Jessi in 4th grade. In reflection, Pastor Borhart has been blessed to have baptized 875 babies, children and adults. He would prepare and welcome 741 8th grade and 409 adult confirmands to the congregation, join 294 couples in Christian union (his granddaughter Ashley being the last November 17). Lay to rest 400 as they join their Lord and Savior in heaven.

Pastor Borhart is the longest serving pastor at Zion Lutheran Church. He has nurtured and supported his congregations with a kindness, patience and dedication that has touched so many and will endure for years to come.

Serving both a church and school has provided him a wide spectrum of functions to not only preach, but to teach. His experience in sign language has been a blessing for the children and congregation, as he has always found unique ways to share this method of communication. One of his favorite attributes of Zion has been the special services, including the Boar’s Head Festival.

Retirement will be a big change for Pastor Borhart, but the congregation is in great hands. Pastor Jonathon Ripke has been mentored by a great servant and will assume all pastoral duties. Looking forward to slowing down a little by working on his golf game, gardening and tending to his koi pond. Pastor will continue as a supportive member of the congregation, helping with his “Holy Scrap” project and other activities that support neighboring congregations. On behalf of the Zion congregation, past and present…thank you for lifting us up with your words, comforting us with your prayers and leading us with an unwavering commitment in faith.

Pastor Borhart’s final service will be held at 9:00 (only one service that day) December 16 with a reception following at 10:00 to celebrate a remarkable servant in ministry. For more information or to send a note, please contact Zion Lutheran Church of Marengo 815- 568-6564, 412 E. Jackson St.

Pondering the Past, Tales Lost in Time : Far From Home for Christmas


To most soldiers coming home for the holidays is impossible. Great distances, and the call to duty separate the warrior from his and her home and family. Yet, no matter what the situation is, Christmas never fails to come.

This month I had hoped to share the Christmas experiences of local soldiers serving in the various wars that the United States was involved in, but unfortunately my research failed to locate too many examples; with one exception - the Civil War. A typical Christmas for a soldier fighting in the Civil War may have been spent in camp, marching on the too often muddy roads, or in a prisoner of war camp. The following are some examples of how soldiers from McHenry County spent their Christmases away from home.

In November of 1862, General US Grant’s army pushed south into Mississippi with the hopes of capturing Vicksburg. Alphonso Whipple, a private in the 15th Illinois, was part of the invading force. On December 20th, rebel General Earl Van Dorn sacked Grant’s supply depot at Holly Springs, Mississippi. This unforeseen event sent the bluecoats marching back north. On Christmas day the 15th made a relatively short march of two miles, and went into camp on the Tallahatchie River. Whipple closed his diary entry for that day describing his Christmas feast. “I took a Christmas supper of hardtack and raw pickled pork. Oh, how good it tasted! I wish our folks had some.”

By Christmas of 1863 Union forces had wrestled the control of Vicksburg out of the hands of the Confederates, and on the 25th of December the 95th Illinois found itself in camp at the hill city. Onley Andrus, a sergeant in the regiment, took time out of his New Year’s Day to pen a letter to his wife Molly. Andrus wrote, “I suppose Christmas was quite a day with you…” He then lamented, “If I was at home perhaps I too might have a little fun.” To Andrus, “Christmas came and went without remark,” and would have passed unnoticed if it hadn’t been for the regiment’s colonel who treated his soldier to “15 gall[on] s of [r]otgut whiskey.” Andrus described the inebriated bluecoats as some happy and some pugilistic, which resulted in a few having black eyes.

One year later, Private Will B. Smith of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Illinois Veteran Battalion awoke in the Andersonville prisoner of war camp to a grisly sight. Smith had been a guest of the Confederate government since October of 1864, when he was captured by the troops of General John Bell Hood. Smith was not from McHenry County, but a number of soldiers who were captured with him were from the Marengo-Union area. The prisoners had been afforded very little shelter, and only a blanket protected them from the Christmas Eve sleet

In 1892, Smith recorded the details of the misery he suffered twenty-eight years earlier. He wrote, “During this awful night of woe death reaped a rich harvest, and Christmas morning, which should have been the brightest and happiest of all the year, revealed the stiffened forms of those who perished during the night…”

During the day the thoughts and conversations of the starving Yankees turned to “the dear ones at home, filled stockings, rich presents, roasted turkeys, minced pies, and fruit-cakes…” In the afternoon the Confederates served the Union prisoners their Christmas feast which consisted of “three or four ounces of cold boiled beef and a chunk of coarse unsalted corn bread about two inches thick and some four inches square.”

These three stories provide only a small glimpse of the misery, hardship, loneliness, or sadness that soldiers away from home can experience not only on Christmas, but also every day. Many of us attach a special feeling and expectation to Christmas, and any psychological pain or discomfort that is experienced during the holidays can be significantly enhanced. This holiday season when you’re celebrating Christmas and the New Year with your family and friends, take a few minutes to think about the many American women and men who are separated from their families serving not only in the war zones, but also on the many military bases in the United States and around the world.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, or if you prefer - Happy Holidays!


The Marengo Chapter of Juniorettes Club is at the Marengo Community High School. The Juniorettes is an organization fostering volunteering and leadership in young women. They sold pink bracelets at Valley For A Cure and donated all of the funds to the event.
Pictured above are Brooke A, Maddie F, Katlyn S, Alexa T, and Sierra M who worked this event. They have also sold ice cream at lunch to raise money which they would like to purchase, prepare and serve a meal at PADS center in March 2019. They are looking for fundraising ideas to ensure they have the funds to provide a hearty meal. The members also colored drawings to include in meals from the Basket Brigade. On December 7th the Juniorettes will be sending holiday cards to area Veterans.

Marengo Union Chamber of Commerce, WXMR Hosts Dinner with a Vet, November 5th

(Left to right) Paul Turnbaugh, WildHeartland
Art, Colleen Helfers, Executive Director
Marengo Union Chamber of Commerce
and John Penny

Congratulations to John Penny, a Veteran
from the National Guard who won the Dinner
with a Veteran’s American Eagle/Flag print
donated by WildHeartland Art – Paul Turnbaugh.
A HUGE thank you to ALL the Volunteers
especially Gretchen & Grace Sebastian,
who served our Veterans with dignity and
honor. A MASSIVE thank you to our main
sponsor Thrivent Financial - and all our table
sponsors: George Regas, Your Supply Depot,
Marengo Insurance Agency, Glo-Bowl Fun
Center/Trio Grille, The Resenbeck Family, The
Law Office of William Pulak, RedLine Livery,
Victory Rock Fellowship, Prairie Community
Bank, Huntington Appliance Service, Jay
Pace Construction. Thank you to all the staff
at StoneBakers Pizza for allowing and helping
us to transform the restaurant into a fellowship
event, Thank you to McHenry County
Marine Corps League Auxiliary Unit #419 for
their support and Thank you to WXMR 94.3
Marengo Community Radio. Most importantly
- Thank you to all our Veterans

Swim Meet Champs


Allie Mateja, Maggie
Simons, and Nicole Fitch
represented MCHS and
competed in the Girls
Swim Sectional at St.
Charles East High School
on November 10, 2018.
The girls each swam
two events and all did
a great job. A big thank
you to Mrs. Urbanek for
spending her Saturday at
St. Charles East with the


Fire Claims Historic Marengo Round Barn

Although collapsed in the middle, the state’s oldest remaining example of “round-style barn” construction was lost to fire Nov. 24, when the wind changed direction on a small fire nearby and caught the structure with sparks, according to statements. At the time, the barn’s wood was being reclaimed and several posts had been saved, when the fire started.

A 911 call was received at 10:51 a.m., from the barn’s owner, who was notified of the blaze, and firefighters were dispatched from several districts to the site location at 25208 River Road. The individual on-site, Rick Rath, had started a small fire to burn unusable lumbered parts, when the wind caught it. He had been given permission to remove wood from the barn, which had buckled under the weight from a heavy snowstorm in 2008.

“It was a round barn, collapsed already in the center,” said Fire Chief Robert Bradbury, of the Marengo Fire Protection District. “It was going to be torn down. The gentleman reclaiming the wood had a little fire going, to burn excess wood. That was what caught the barn on fire. Winds changed on him, and no investigation is taking place, based on his statement.”

“There were several fire protection districts that responded including us, the Union Fire Protection District, Harvard…Capron came with an ambulance, but there were no injuries. The Woodstock Fire and Rescue District came out too, but they turned around,” he said. “All that’s left there is the stone foundation of the barn.”

The barn’s owner was in a field harvesting seed corn, and not in the immediate area, at the time of the fire. Fire Crews left at approximately 12:40 p.m. that same day.

Records indicate the barn was built in 1897, and although partially collapsed, it was the oldest remaining round barn example in the state of Illinois. Historic barn and storage structures are part of the agricultural legacy in Mc Henry County

The first upright silo built in the United States was located on the outskirts of Spring Grove at 801 Main Street, in Burton Township. Erected inside a barn, it was built by Fred Hatch, and his father, Lewis. Lasting until 1980, portions of the rock and mortar foundation are the only existing traces. It was recognized with a plaque as a landmark site by the Mc Henry County Historical Society, based in Union.

Another major fire involving a barn occurred on property located at 18000-block of Church Road, nearly one year ago. The barn and a garage were consumed by flames, also killing some livestock and chickens. The owner unsuccessfully attempted to extinguish the fire with a hose, before going to a neighbor’s house to call 911. Several fire protection districts responded, and Bradbury later said the cause was undetermined, due to the complete loss of the buildings and their contents.


Marengo News Briefs


The Marengo Park District sought input from residents on the re-opening of the Starfish Water swimming pool at Indians Oaks Park through a non-binding advisory referendum question on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. The two part query asked if residents wanted the pool’s re-opening to be researched and supporting a property tax increase not to exceed $150,000.\

The county clerk’s office posted unofficial results that did not favor the proposal with 1,184 “No” votes cast, and 672 “Yes” votes, a disapproval margin of 72.9 percent to 27.1 per cent.

Shuttered since 2014, the operational and maintenance costs that had originally forced its closure are still a factor in trying to revive it. The park district has faced financial troubles for nearly a decade resulting from the 2008 recession, receding home values, and a decline in anticipated property tax revenues. Marengo Parks and Recreation Superintendent Joe Vallez had cited problems of potential damage from inactivity at the site as being an unknown factor.

“We wanted to put the question in the hands of the voters, as it should be,” he said.

The park district’s Board of Trustees met Nov. 15, with an agenda item of issuing approximately $24,00 in taxable general obligation limited tax park bonds, and $115,295 in taxable general obligation tax park bonds “for the payment of certain outstanding obligations,” with the levy of the direct annual tax paying for the principal and interest.XXXX The board approved the bond issue, and both were purchased by Oak Brookbased Republic Bank, with a branch in Addison. The purchase was fostered through prior relationships between the financial institution and Vallez, resulting in a “great rate nearly 2 points less than any Mc Henry-area bank.”

Regarding the pool, Vallez said it is not anticipated that the question will come up again via a referendum route. “We are now formulating plans on what we can do,” he said. “We’re looking at possibly demolishing it, and putting up a zero-depth pool which is a spray park with little animals. The water is on a recycle system, it’s gathered in a tank, re-chlorinated, and returned to the pool.”




Gary Reiher booking photo.

Photo courtesy of Lake County sheriff ’s deptartment


 The early morning Nov. 16 snowfall resulted in numerous traffic accidents in the vicinity of routes 23 and 176, due to icy road conditions. The Marengo Fire Protection District responded to several assistance calls including one with injuries at the Route 23 Bridge.

“There were quite a few in our district…we had four service calls, Union had two, and Woodstock had several calls,” said the fire protection district’s Lt. Noel Gaines. “What I can tell you is that the bridges were solid ice, and Illinois Department of Transportation trucks couldn’t get out to the area in time to salt the roads.”

The areas where the accidents occurred were mostly under state jurisdiction, although the fire protection district and Marengo personnel monitored the areas until roads and bridges could be serviced. Motorists are urged to exercise caution during winter driving, especially on bridges as the roadbeds are the first parts to freeze due to its elevations.


Marengo resident Gary Reiher, 33, was ordered to be held in the Lake County Jail after being charged with home invasion, domestic battery, and violating an order of protection for the Nov. 3 early morning break-in of his ex-girlfriend’s home in Round Lake Park. 19th Circuit Court Judge Paul Novak set bail at $300,000 with conditions that potential release cannot be effectuated until a Nov. 15 domestic assault risk assessment hearing.

 Reiher, of the 500-block on Eisenhower Street, allegedly broke into the home of his ex-girlfriend at 4:00 a.m. Nov. 3, dragged her through the premises by the hair and arm, beat and choked her, poked the woman in the stomach with a knife, and hit her 4-year old son. He destroyed her cellphone, but she managed to use an old unit to call 911 at 10:45 a.m., to call authorities.

After police arrived, authorities said Reiher was found hiding under a patio deck, 25 yards from the residence, by a Lake County Sheriff ’s Department K-9.XXX Court records show he had attacked her previously, and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of battery. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation, with a contingency order to have no contact with her.


The Riley Community Consolidated School District 18 unanimously approved a motion for the estimated aggregate tax levy extension for 2018 property tax assessments, during its Nov. 19 meeting. The action also included with the final adoption of the Certificate of Tax Levy, Tax Levy Resolution, and Certificate of Compliance with certain provisions of the Truth In Taxation Law. No public hearing was scheduled, as the amount was below the tax levy cap set by state law.

The total levy amount is $4,239,210 and includes fire prevention, safety, energy conservation, disabled accessibility, school security, and specified repair purposes. Itemized in the total levy amounts are: $3,132, 210 for educational costs; $627,000 for operations and maintenance; $250,000 for special education; $103,000 for municipal retirement; $52,000 for social security; $45,000 for tort immunity; $22,000 for working cash; and $8,000 for transportation.

The Certificate of Tax Levy was filed Nov. 20, with the Mc Henry County Clerk’s Office.