With their previous agreement having effectively expired with the Aug. 13 start of the 2018-19 academic year, both the Riley Consolidated District 18 School Board and the Riley Teachers Association have been meeting regularly and working toward the completion of a new contract. However, a major problem unfolding an accord involves the “lane change” pay increases for advanced education which have not been applied.

The Nov. 19 school board meeting was attended by an estimated 35 people with an overall atmosphere of support for the concerns of the teachers including out-of-pocket expenses incurred with supplies for the classroom, as well as the pay increases being a hindrance to the “family environment” between teachers, students, and community. At issue are several teachers that pursued advanced education and not been given pay upgrades, as allowed through the previous contracts. Although the lack of a new contract has temporarily reverted binding understandings to the previous stipulations, the continued education and its benefits are a source of contention.

“This is the third time, since Aug., I have asked for the lane change, with no response,” said teacher Carole Mortimer, during the meeting’s public comment section. “The option is open (for litigation). I’m giving a good faith effort for the board to make the right decision. I will fight for what I’m due and will file when I feel the time is right.” Mortimer is seeking the increase, after earning a Master’s degree, while Gretchen Mallegna, another teacher who also earned a Master’s degree, eventually settled with the board. Close to retirement, Teresa Wistead and Cathi Kunde have both taught for nearly 26 years, and earned nine credit hours through Master’s level course work to qualify for the “lane change.”

Six other audience members spoke at the meeting, all in support of the teachers. “I’m retired, after teaching for thirty years, and in my opinion, this is about integrity,” said Carol Kallal. “They’ve earned the (degrees) and are entitled to what they should be earning. This is shameful. This is my life, and teachers are my family.”

Following the meeting, District Superintendent Christine Conklin spoke about the efforts on both sides in working toward mutual goals. “As a board, they believe in the process and they don’t want to do anything to hinder either side from dealing in good faith,” she said. “It’s a process.” Board member Don Coffman, noted, “We started negotiations back in March, to get out ahead of this process and the negotiations. They made a counter-proposal Nov. 8, and we, in turn, made another proposal to the union. The school board held a special meeting Nov. 12 to discuss it. We met with the teachers Nov. 14. At this point, the ball is in their court to do this.”

The association’s Co-President, Richelle Lagerstrom, also a member of the negotiating team, confirmed the Nov. 8 proposal made to the board, and indicated that in some areas, the wording of the old contract negatively impacted the ability for the “lane change.” “The understanding was that if you received a Masters, or other course work, you moved into lanes for another pay scale,” she said. “We’re currently bargaining mid-stream, with no contract…both sides are engaging in their due diligence. We both want to finalize this contract and walk away holding up our heads knowing that they accomplished most of their goals.” Lagerstrom said that the need for re-organizing was evident with the recent changes in Teacher’s Retirement System, a state-monitored agency overseeing an “off-the-top” set percentage, from educators’ paychecks, toward their pensions Enacted by the state legislature, the pension code now mandates the TRS to offer all retiring Tier 1 members a onetime irrevocable change in the automatic annual increase to their TRS pensions, as well as an accelerated pension benefit payment. Additionally, the “threshold” for employee contributions on year-to-year salary increases was reduced from 6 percent to 3 percent, should pay increases affect the member’s initial pension. It has been intimated that questions were raised by the teacher’s association as to how contract sticking points, individual pay scale changes through advanced education, and the newly-augmented TRS guidelines would enter into negotiations.

Riley Consolidated District 18 is a union school serving 298 students with a teacher- to-student ratio of 13:1, significantly below the state average of 16:1. “Teachers and staff haven’t been getting the support they deserve,” said Mallegna. “Most of the teachers have been here for twenty years, there is a great rapport between everyone, like family. This situation hurts everyone.”

Marengo-Union Junior Tackle Football Club (MUJTFC) would like to Thank Chad Miller for his many years of Commitment to the league. Chad retired in November from MUJTFC after 24 years with the program. Chad joined MUJTFC prior to having any children of his own and lead his three sons(Bailey,Cameron, and Logan) through the program. Chad’s wife, Dyan, also dedicated her time to the league. The Miller’s spent their weekends on the football field mentoring young children. Chad coaching and Dyan overseeing concessions. Both helped to build the program to what it is today. Thank you, Millers, for all the time, hard work, commitment, and dedication you gave to our Marengo youth. Many Thanks from Your Friends & Family at MUJTFC

The Marengo Indians (9-3) played toeto- toe with IC Catholic Prep for most of the first half until IC Catholic Prep scored with less than a minute left to pull ahead en route to a 49-27 win in the IHSA Class 4A quarterfinal playoff at the Elmhurst school’s home field. The Nov. 10 contest brought the curtain down on a stellar 2018 season, which saw Marengo capture the Kishwaukee River Conference title.

The Knights (14-0) had won two straight IHSA Class 3A championships, and eventually took the Class 4A in their first year of competition at that level, with a Nov. 24 win, 31-20 over Bishop Mc Namara. The Indians held their own and more in the first quarter with Finn Schirmer (27 rushes, 172 yards, 2 TDs) grabbing a 77-yard pass from quarterback Travis Knaak (12 passes, 149 yards, 2 TDs) at just under the two-minute mark, and the defense blocking a punt for a TD score to negate ICC’s 15-0 lead.

ICC’s Kyle Franklin (27-312, 6 TDs), scored his second TD at the 8-minute mark of the second quarter, followed by Knaak and the offense working the ball downfield that finished with his 3-yard TD run at 2:52, putting the score at 22-20 for ICC. Franklin snuck into the end zone from 4 yards out, with less than a minute remaining in the half, for a 29-20 ICC lead. The third quarter found the Marengo offense virtually shut down with 8 yards, while grudgingly allowing only a 57-yard TD run by Franklin as the only points allowed. The Indians played hard, with Franklin scoring twice more to put the game out of reach in the final quarter. Schirmer added a 4-yard TD run at 5:31 to close out the scoring.

After Marengo missed the playoff in 2017, this season’s mark of a KRC title and deep playoff run brought success and accomplishment, with an eye toward next year.


The Marengo Indians varsity girls basketball team took two games in the annual Burlington Central Thanksgiving Tournament beating Belvidere North 60-45, and Woodstock 65-41.

In the Nov. 16 contest against the Blue Streaks, Marissa Knobloch (25 points) had 2 treys and 15 points in the first quarter.

The three-point basket parade continued with Jennifer Heinberg (16) sinking four 3’s. Hannah Ritter (8), and Jordan Parker (7) were the other high scorers.

The Indians (3-2) also defeated Prairie Ridge 54-48, overcoming a 15-6 first quarter deficit.

The squad opened the 2018 campaign with losses to Mc Henry 58-43, and Geneva 61-49. Varsity coach Nick Rode was asked about the team and the season, so far: “We are a very athletic group capable of both defending and scoring well, that’s what has me most excited about our potential. Playing top-notch competition brings out what we need to work on. That includes making contact on screens, and getting physical when boxing out to create rebounding space.”

Regarding the conference schedule, Rode is confident in the team’s abilities. “Getting more bruises on our arms and legs, that will be a direct correlation to our record. I think we can play with anyone in the conference. Last season, we had wins against the two projected top teams in Burlington Central and Johnsburg. We return seven experienced players from last season and have high expectations…I think a surprise team could be Richmond- Burton.”

Rode also believes practice strategies and game preparation are two important components to a successful team. “We have drill clusters that we do that all have the purpose of teaching principles…we practice these quite often. From there, we try to have very competitive segments for rebounding and defensive closeouts. Our process to prepare for opponents involves finding willing coaches on our schedule to trade films. We generally like to watch film of an opponent a week in advance, and it allows us to work on the things we will need to do well, during practices leading up to the games.”


Boys Varsity Basketball: (Nov. 23) Dean Riley Thanksgiving Tournament Oak Forrest wins over Marengo 52-50; Marengo beats Streator Township 53-50. Boys Varsity Wrestling: (Nov. 20) Loss At Winnebago High School 37-36 Indian wins…Danny Chicoine (220), Logan Reed/pin (120), Jake Doyle/pin (145), Stan Dawiec/pin (160), Sebastian Palka/ pin (170), Michael Macias/pin (182). Boys Varsity Bowling: (Nov. 15) Marengo Win against Belvidere 3,039-3,075 (Game 1) Marengo 953,Belvidere 1,020; (Game 2) Marengo 1,071,Belvidere 945; (Game 3) Marengo 1,051,Belvidere 1,074. Jim Faber bowls 251 in third game; Josh Streu and J Mortimer each bowl 574 series. Girls Varsity Bowling: (Nov. 26) De Kalb High School away (no score at press time)

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

(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


Riley School Board And Teachers Still Without Contract

Riley School Board And Teachers Still Without Contract

With their previous agreement having effectively expired with the Aug. 13 start of the 2018-19 academic year, both the Riley Consolidated District...

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

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 ,...

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Chad Miller Retires

Chad Miller Retires

Marengo-Union Junior Tackle Football Club (MUJTFC) would like to Thank Chad Miller for his many years of Commitment to the league. Chad...

Read more