From fourth-grade girls pushing for healthier food at school to a developer of a Lincolnshire mall heading to prison for scamming investors in a Ponzi-type scheme, there was no shortage of newsmakers in Lake County in 2010.
What follows are recaps of some of the past year's most noteworthy faces and their stories.
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Getting healthy at Avon Center School
Erica Smyth, Jade Walker and Camryn Hickle were fourth-graders at the Round Lake Beach school in April when they approached Principal M. Lynn Barkley with their concerns about what they said was unhealthy cafeteria food.
In a letter to school officials, the girls cited greasy hot dogs and hamburgers as part of the problem. They said healthy food options, such as fresh produce and whole-grain bread, should be available to the Avon children.
Jade, Erica and Camryn got the adults to listen and forced some action from Grayslake Elementary District 46 officials before the 2009-10 academic year ended. Baked chicken nuggets were promised as an alternative after the girls raised their concerns.
All three girls stopped eating Avon's food and brought homemade lunches that included fruit, whole grains, vegetables and protein. Jade, Camryn and Erica said they wanted to make things better for future Avon Center students who need to eat the cafeteria food.
Libertyville goes major league
Village of Libertyville officials turned to a man whose resume includes jobs with the Chicago Cubs and New Orleans Saints to boost the fortunes of a long-struggling recreation and sports complex.
Conrad "Connie" Kowal was officially installed in September as director of the facility at Peterson Road and Route 45. He made his mark in about a month, coming up with the idea to host a home-run derby for 12-inch softball power hitters last fall.
At least 26 contestants took part in the inaugural derby, said Scott Jenkins, recreation supervisor at Libertyville Sports Complex.
Libertyville officials said the sports facility has fallen $7 million short to cover the bonds issued to buy the land and build the facility eight years ago.
Along with the Cubs and Saints, Kowal's professional sports executive experience includes the former Chicago Sting soccer team, the folded Chicago Shamrox indoor lacrosse operation and Chicago Motor Speedway.
Finally, a superintendent
Constance Collins was hired as the first superintendent in eight years at Round Lake Area Unit District 116.
District 116's financial affairs were exclusively handled by an appointed state financial authority, and not a local superintendent, since 2002. The district was near financial collapse when the state took over eight years ago.
Collins had been superintendent of Oak Park Elementary District 97 since 2005. She started at District 116 in July.
School finance authority members in early 2010 agreed to return power to District 116's elected board, but will remain to monitor operations in the next school season. They deemed the district to be financially solid enough for local control and the hiring of a superintendent.
Developer heading to prison
Forrest David Laidley at one time was a prominent real-estate lawyer who served at the Archdiocese of Chicago and built the Village Green mall near Milwaukee Avenue and Route 22 in Lincolnshire.
Now, he's going to prison for five years for scamming investors and financial institutions through what federal prosecutors said was a Ponzi-style operation for retail and office projects. He's to report for his federal prison sentence in January.
Laidley, 66, of Libertyville, entered a blind guilty plea in February to one count each of mail and bank fraud. He was accused of fleecing the investors of more than $9 million.
He told U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning at his sentencing in October that he never set out to commit fraud. Laidley said he had problems paying investors because the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks stalled planned retail projects in Round Lake, Lincolnshire and Glenview.
Benjamin Moon's decision to enter a smoky building to warn residents of a fire in a condominium complex led to a big honor by Gurnee leaders in September.
Moon, 38, of Gurnee was presented with a lifesaving award by Fire Chief Fred Friedl, Police Chief Robert Jones and Mayor Kristina Kovarik.
"Ben, I want to say this to you: You are truly a hero," Jones told Moon, who was accompanied by his wife, daughter and mother-in-law to the presentation at village hall.
Moon and his family were headed to a gathering the evening of Aug. 20 when he spotted smoke coming from a six-story condo on Vose Drive in the HeatherRidge complex. While his wife, Michelle, called 911 from a cell phone, Moon ran into the building.
Concerns about older residents being in the smoky structure prompted Moon to immediately pull a fire alarm. He knocked on residents' doors on all the floors to get the occupants to evacuate. He also helped a woman who couldn't walk well get down the stairs and out of the building so she could be attended to by paramedics.
Rockin' the boat
The ever-controversial Lisa Stone dominated the conversation in Buffalo Grove politics throughout 2010, whether the story was her battles with former Village Manager William Brimm, her ongoing arguments with Village President Elliott Hartstein, her continual Freedom of Information Act requests, her suspicions about the Land and Lakes landfill, or her eventual recall from office.
Stone made it clear from the outset of her 18-month tenure as trustee that she would not be a member of the "old boys" network and she made village board meetings "must-see TV."
Stone's conflict with the board, however, really kicked into high gear this year, after a resident complained about odors emanating from the former Land and Lakes landfill in a newly incorporated area of Buffalo Grove. She exposed the fact it was a composting site; her efforts earned her a reprimand from the village board.
After the village board passed a recall ordinance, residents filed a petition seeking her ouster, and the measure passed in November with 70 percent of the vote.
If trustees hoped they'd seen the last of Stone, it was quickly apparent that wasn't the case. Since then, she has questioned how the OTB was allowed to change hands without receiving village approval -- a condition of its permission to operate, and she has gotten the Better Government Association to oppose allowing the village to destroy nonofficial and personal e-mails.