It was, in many ways, a difficult and troubling year in DuPage County. There were too many senseless acts of violence. Not one, but two of our mayors died in office. Normally quiet communities like Glen Ellyn found themselves emersed in long and bitter political battles over lights at Glenbard West and growth at College of DuPage. Officials in Naperville, who over the past few decades watched their downtown emerge as a shining suburban jewel, were confronted with growing concerns about increasing violence there and fears for public safety.
In an era of supposed government transparency, we once again saw too many high-ranking public officials leave their posts amid clouds of secrecy. We argued over whether we should eat at a chicken restaurant. There were scandals in the county's forest preserve district and in its housing authority. The summer weather was endlessly hot and dry and, when it finally did rain, huge storms swept through the area leaving serious damage and long power outages in their wake. Another Wheaton soldier died while serving our country overseas.
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Happily, there still were moments that could give us hope. The Healing Field of Honor touched hearts in Naperville. Glenbard West and Montini won state football championships. Towns like Wood Dale, West Chicago and Oak Brook made plans for new schools and rec centers and downtowns. We could still get excited about movie stars coming to town and marvel at the excellence of our Olympic athletes. And, oh my, the Ryder Cup at Medinah proved to be a spectacular event.
This year, like all years, ends on a note of both sadness and hope. Sadness for the mistakes we made, for the friends we lost, for the opportunities we squandered. Hope that in 2013, we can all do better.
Housing authority troubles: The troubled DuPage Housing Authority continued its overhaul in early January by hiring David Hoicka as executive director. A veteran administrator who worked for similar agencies in El Paso, New Orleans and Hawaii, he was brought on board to right an agency that spent much of 2010 mired in scandal when three audits suggested the agency mismanaged more than $10 million. But by late August, Hoicka himself was sent packing when the authority fired him "without cause."
Life of hard knocks: A difficult life marked by homelessness and a lengthy criminal history came to a violent end in early January for 51-year-old Lionel Lane of Wheaton who police said was shot between the eyes in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood. His death came nearly 17 years after he sat hopelessly in a prison cell, facing a 60-year sentence for the murder of a 76-year-old widow near Aurora that he didn't commit. He was exonerated when two other men confessed to the crime.
Naperville family killed: A Naperville family of four was killed in a car accident while on vacation in India. Iqbal Habib, 45, his wife Zeenat, 39, their daughter Fareeza, 10 and son Ashaz, 6, were traveling in the northern city of Agra when the driver of their car lost control of the vehicle. The family, which was very active in the Chicago-area Muslim community, lived in south Naperville for about a decade.
Four killed in Villa Park: Four members of the same family were shot to death inside a home near Villa Park in early January and the man who killed them committed suicide a short time later. Authorities said Cedric Anderson apparently shot his girlfriend, her two sons and her niece and then set their ranch home ablaze. He later took his own life in his father's home. Killed in the grisly event were Ursula Nailor, 37; Darnell Holt, 16; Daniel Nailor, 13; and Dominique Robinson of Bolingbrook.
'I didn't stop until she was dead': Rob Lyons, a 39-year-old Carol Stream man, stood before a DuPage County judge in January and repeatedly confessed to murdering his mother. "I stabbed her. I hit her with a cognac bottle. I poured chemicals on her," he said. "I completely lost control and I didn't stop until she was dead." She shared the blame, he said, largely because she "seriously provoked me with her verbal abuse" and partly, prosecutors said, because she refused to ask a friend for skybox tickets to see pop singer Avril Lavigne. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Let there be light: It took 11 plan commission meetings and two village board meetings before Glen Ellyn village trustees voted unanimously in January to approve plans to install lights at a Glenbard West High School practice field. Glenbard High School District 87 installed four 70-foot-tall and two 60-foot-tall light poles.
Naperville teacher slain: Authorities said a "nonsensical argument" about drinking beer out of a wineglass triggered a stabbing that killed a Naperville teacher and left two others wounded in early February. Police said Daniel Olaska of Naperville took offense to the teasing during the early morning hours of a Saturday at Frankie's Blue Room, took out a 5- to 6-inch knife and stabbed Shaun Wild, Willie Hayes and a club bouncer. Wild, a second-grade teacher at Spring Brook Elementary School, was killed. Hayes, a member of the North Central College football team, was hospitalized.
No no for Nunu: Nunu Sung, a Burmese refugee, was stripped of her remaining parental rights to the son she abandoned at birth in Wheaton more than two years ago. A DuPage judge said in February the child is better off with the foster parents who have raised him since he was 10 days old. Sung delivered the boy behind her cousin's Wheaton apartment in June 2009 and left him in a neighbor's yard.
COD, Glen Ellyn agree at last: A long-running dispute between the College of DuPage and Glen Ellyn ended in early February when the two sides reached an agreement over jurisdictional matters on the 273-acre campus. The five-year pact will keep COD incorporated within the village limits but under the jurisdiction of the county. The college had sought to deannex from Glen Ellyn, citing overbearing control from village-led building inspections.
Hit-and-run driver comes forward four years later: David McCarthy IV, 27, of Naperville, came forward in late February to confess to driving a vehicle that struck and killed 20-year-old of Melissa Lech of Joliet in 2008 as she walked home from a sports bar. McCarthy showed up unannounced at the home of the dead woman's sister to clear his conscience. Police, working from a description of the man and his vehicle, arrested him a short time later.
Jury out less than 2 hours: A DuPage County jury deliberated for less than two hours in February before convicting Jerry Hudson, 51, of first-degree murder for shooting his ex-wife to death outside an Oak Brook hotel. Hudson shot Melissa Bridgewater six times in the hotel parking lot on New Year's Day 2010 after she spent the holiday with her boyfriend. Hudson claimed he was acting in self-defense. The jury didn't buy it.
Prof faces child porn charges: A professor of Christian education at Wheaton College was charged with aggravated pornography and possession of two handguns and ammunition without a firearm owners identification card in March. Donald Ratcliff, 60, of Carol Stream, had been at the college since 2006 and focused his academic research on education. He was fired.
Alleged hacker's defiance: It appears Jeremy Hammond has been trying to stick it to "The Man" for quite a while. The 27-year-old Glendale Heights man was one of five people arrested in early March on federal charges of hacking into computers of major corporations and government agencies. The 2003 Glenbard East High School graduate was known for his anti-establishment views even while a student.
Fans scream for Peeta: More than 2,000 screaming fans -- mostly girls -- packed Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora in mid-March to welcome actor Josh Hutcherson, who portrayed Peeta in "The Hunger Games." Two of his co-stars, Isabelle Fuhrman and Jacqueline Emerson also were on hand.
No horsing around: The DuPage County Forest Preserve District launched an internal investigation in mid-March in response to claims of horse abuse and neglect from more than 30 volunteers at Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton. The probe included an assessment from an independent vet, who said the horses needed more exercise but didn't seem to be abused. Danada also received a rare site accreditation from the Certified Horsemanship Association.
Wrecking ball at work: The Aldrin Community Center in Carol Stream fell before the wrecking ball in mid-March. Opened 41 years ago, the building became outdated and was removed to make way for a $5 million county stormwater management project aimed at providing flood relief for the neighborhood.
Man dies in police custody: An Aurora man, Jersey K. Green, died in mid-March while in police custody after being struck in the upper thigh and side with a Taser gun. Police said they found Green on top of a parked SUV, but he fled and then jumped on the hood of a marked squad car. When Green moved toward an officer, another cop Tasered him. Later in the year a forensics pathologist ruled Green's death resulted not from the Taser but from the huge amounts of cocaine in his system: more than 2.8 times the average amount in 37 cocaine fatalities.
Determined to heal: A Naperville woman was partially paralyzed in a repelling accident in March in southern Utah, but pledged she would walk again. Brittany Fisher, a 21-year-old Utah State University student, lost control while on an early morning repelling trip and fell 50 to 60 feet.
D203 superintendent resigns: Naperville Unit District 203 Superintendent Mark Mitrovich announced his resignation in late March after less than three years with the district. His base pay was increased 12 percent to $228,000 in July 2011, but the district had struggled in the months leading to his departure with boundary changes and adopting an all-day kindergarten program. He was replaced by Dan Bridges, who had been serving as assistant superintendent.
Winfield trustees take gamble: After hearing from local church leaders, business owners and community members, Winfield trustees voted 4-2 in March to repeal a local ban on video gambling machines as a way to generate money for much-needed road projects. But voters overruled the decision by approving a November ballot question that reinstated the ban.
Naperville fertility clinic: Plans for a doctor to expand his fertility clinic near downtown Naperville triggered some unexpected opposition, but the city council eventually approved the proposal in early April. Dr. Randy Morris came under fire from residents raising concerns about when life truly begins.
Wood Dale treatment plant: Wood Dale broke ground in April on a $23 million project to rebuild and upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. Officials said the work will be done in two phases ending in late summer 2013 and is needed to serve a growing population and meet new EPA guidelines.
No charges for cop in shooting: An off-duty West Chicago police officer who shot at a car full of young people and wounded a 17-year-old did not face criminal charges. DuPage State's Attorney Bob Berlin declined to file charges because there were indications the officer followed proper protocol and believed his life was in danger when he shot at the car Feb. 18 following a hit-and-run accident that resulted in a chase that ended in Fermilab.
West Chicago mayor dies: He was remembered at a special ceremony in late April as a loving husband, a devoted friend, and a driven and passionate public servant. Michael Kwasman, the West Chicago mayor who died in April a few days after suffering a heart attack, was remembered for those qualities and more.
Outsourcing 911: The Bloomingdale Police Department consolidated its dispatch services with the Addison Police Department in late April in an effort to cut costs. Village residents protested the move, despite officials' stance that services would remain the same and could even improve. But ultimately, leaders approved the change that required laying off a handful of workers but is slated to save more than $231,000.
New police chiefs take charge: A former Woodridge police chief, Steven Herron, took over in April as Roselle's top cop after serving more than four months as its interim chief. The next day, Naperville named a former police officer and Assistant City Manager Bob Marshall as its police chief to replace the retiring David Dial.
Wood Dale's downtown vision: When Wood Dale went looking for a consultant to help prepare a vision for its downtown, officials didn't think small. Instead they approved a $26,000 contract with Uhlir Consulting LLC, which is led by Edward Uhlir, who served as the project design director and prepared the master plan for Chicago's $470 million Millennium Park. The group is focusing on the area near Wood Dale and Irving Park roads with an eye toward attracting business and people.
West Chicago's new mayor: Ruben Pineda was only a baby when his migrant-worker parents arrived in West Chicago. Pineda, now 52, never left the city and in May officially was named acting mayor -- the first Hispanic to serve as mayor in the city's history. An alderman, Pineda was selected to replace Michael Kwasman, who died about a month earlier.
Judge loses 60 days of work: Nearly two years after fleeing the scene of a traffic accident, DuPage County Judge Kenneth Popejoy in May was suspended for 60 days without pay. The ruling was handed down by the Illinois Courts Commission, which said Popejoy showed a "willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons and property" after striking an unattended parked car and then driving his 2003 Jeep Liberty at a high rate of speed for about three miles, disobeying several stop signs and nearly striking a 13-year-old girl who was out jogging.
Forgotten by the taxman: The Carol Stream Park District board voted in May to pursue plans to annex the Fountains at Town Center subdivision -- six years after the residential and commercial development was built. During that time the folks who lived in the 145 townhouses or owned stores in the three commercial buildings never paid a single penny in property taxes to the district, which apparently bungled the original annexation paperwork back in 1995.
Wheaton soldier dies: U.S. Army Spc. Samuel Watts died in May, roughly a month after being injured by an explosive device while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in Kandahar province. The 20-year-old Wheaton North High School graduate long wanted to join the military and serve his country. He became the fifth Wheaton native to be killed while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Forest chief steps down: Brent Manning, the executive director of the DuPage Forest Preserve District for more than eight years, stepped down in mid-June citing personal health and family issues. Manning was quick to deflect credit for the district's successes, which he identified as maintaining a Triple A bond rating, continuing its long-range financial plan, creating an education department and acquiring open space.
COD, faculty reach deal: It took more than 15 months, and a final negotiating session that lasted a total of 25 hours, but College of DuPage and its faculty came to a contract agreement in late May just days before a contract imposed by the board of trustees was set to take effect.
Three teens die in crash: Three former Plainfield North High School students were killed in early June when the car in which they were riding was struck by a truck at an intersection in an unincorporated portion of Kendall County. Authorities said it appeared the teens pulled in front of the oncoming truck. No citations were issued. Killed in the accident were Alexis Banuelos, 18, of Naperville and two 19-year-olds from Plainfield, Brian Herrera and Tyler Montgomery.
Mom ruled insane: Marci Webber, who was accused of killing her 4-year-old daughter in Bloomingdale, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in June after a psychologist testified she suffered grim paranoid delusions. Webber, 45, was acquitted of first-degree murder in the Nov. 3, 2010, knife slaying of her daughter Maggie.
Wrongful conviction settled: Marcus Lyons received a $5 million settlement from Woodridge in June as the result of a wrongful rape conviction more than two decades ago. Lyons, who was cleared by DNA evidence, has spent the past 25 years trying to clear his name.
Rough weather hits DuPage: In late June, temperatures rose into the high 90s and tickled triple figures, as the DuPage area dealt with drought conditions. Then, in early July, a vicious storm ripped through most the area knocking out power to more than 300,000 residents, downing thousands of trees and damaging many buildings. Hardest hit areas were Lombard, Wheaton, Elmhurst and Addison.
Retired and rehired: In an effort to keep longtime Addison police Chief Timothy Hayden in place, the village board allowed him to retire as chief but continue as the village's director of police, a newly created civilian position. While Hayden lost most of his official policing powers, the move allowed him to gain more than $100,00 a year in pension benefits.
Murder charge in fire: A 23-year-old Villa Park man was charged in July with the first-degree murder of a Lombard woman who died in an arson fire the day before her 25th birthday. The suspect, Todd Mandoline, also faces charges of arson and aggravated arson in the fire that killed 24-year-old Paula Morgan. The woman's 6-year-old son escaped unharmed.
Chick-fil-A controversy: Chick-fil-A restaurants in Lombard and Wheaton got caught in the crossfire of a cultural battle in early August after the firm's president, Dan Cathy, went public with his opposition to gay marriage. When the mayors of Chicago and Boston told the chain its stores weren't wanted, conservatives rallied to support the restaurant with a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" on Aug. 1 that drew long lines to stores across the country. A short time later gay rights activists held a less successful "kiss-in" outside some of the restaurants to express their dissatisfaction.
Homemade bomb goes off: A homemade bomb detonated outside Lombard's College Preparatory School of America during a Ramadan prayer service in August. No one was injured, but about 50 worshippers, including children, were at the scene. It was the second attack in three days on a suburban Muslim organization.
Wheaton native murdered: Wheaton native and star volleyball player Megan Boken was killed by a gunman in August in St. Louis. Police speculated the 23-year-old, who helped lead St. Francis High School to two state volleyball titles, was the victim of a robbery gone bad. Police said witnesses saw a man fire twice into Boken's parked Volkswagen in broad daylight. Boken was in town to take part in an alumni volleyball game at St. Louis University.
Lombard president dies: William Mueller, the longest-serving village president in Lombard history, died in August of complications from West Nile virus while battling cancer. The 76-year-old Mueller was known for his optimistic leadership and his love for his community. His license plate read simply "LOMBARD."
COD uncovers financial scam: College of DuPage revealed in August that 44 students and two organizers of a financial aid fraud ring used student aid for their personal use after dropping out of online classes they enrolled in last spring. The students participated in just enough online interaction to allow the federal aid to be distributed, but soon after withdrew from the classes and received refund checks. Most of the money ended up in the hands of two ringleaders.
Two new beginnings: Students in Bensenville Elementary District 2 moved into their two digs in August at Tioga and Johnson schools. The district built major additions at both facilities as part of a program to merge students from four schools into two.
Forest employees charged: Two former DuPage County Forest Preserve District employees were charged in September with stealing more than $100,000 from the district over a six-year period, capping a months-long probe that involved the assistance of the FBI. The DuPage County state's attorney's office charged the former director of the information technology department, Mark McDonald, and the department manager, David Tepper. A third man, 37-year-old Arif Mahmood of Glendale Heights, who worked as a contractor with the district, was accused of being involved in one of the schemes. Two days after charges were announced, the forest preserve district also filed a civil suit seeking to recover the lost funds.
Medinah shines: Team USA squandered a huge lead to lose the Ryder Cup 14½ to 13½ to Team Europe in late September, but Medinah Country Club dazzled the world as the tournament's host. Better still, the tourney attracted huge crowds and generated extra money for local businesses, DuPage County and the Chicago area.
NTSB rules on crash: Two years after a private plane crashed into a Naperville health club, federal officials said the pilot could have averted the crash by aborting his takeoff. The pilot, Lloyd McKee, who was 66 at the time, and his wife were taking off from the runway of the Aero Estates subdivision when their single-engine Piper Lance ripped into the decorative corner facade of the fitness facility a few hundred feet away. No one in the facility was injured.
Dividing mayor's job in half: It took weeks of fighting and debate, but Lombard village trustees in October finally were able to agree on a plan to replace Village President William Mueller, who died earlier in the year. Split into two equal factions, the trustees agreed to have Peter Breen serve as acting president for 3½ months and Bill Ware serve for the next 3½ leading to the April general election. Trustees had been gridlocked on the decision for more than a month.
Aurora teen dies in crash: A budding football and track star at Metea Valley High School, 15-year-old Devin Meadows of Aurora, was killed in October when the car in which he was riding with three other young teens jumped a curb around 2 a.m. and struck a house. The other youths escaped without injury but Devin, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle. The 15-year-old driver, Logan Krogman of Aurora, was charged as an adult with reckless homicide.
Itasca meeting a fire hazard: The fire marshal told Itasca officials to postpone a public hearing in October, after more than 400 people showed up to oppose a controversial plan for a new church. The building could safely only hold 276 people. But the next meeting never happened because the leaders of Fourth Avenue Gospel Church withdrew their petition to locate in Itasca.
Aurora bird hoarder: Aurora authorities obtained a court order in October to enter and clean the townhouse of 57-year-old Dave Skeberdis after officials discovered it was filled with birds and mounds of garbage. A contractor wound up removing 325 live birds and roughly 120 dead ones from the house, where mold counts has risen up to 15 times higher than normal. Skeberdis, who never married and has no children, said he came home only once every week or so and had started living in an extended stay hotel in Lisle. "It got out of control. I realize that now," he said.
Biggest meth bust in county: Cops stopped a car being driven by Jesus Rubio because he was tailgating, texting and had a cracked windshield. What they discovered, authorities said, was Rubio and his passenger, Edgardo Rodriguez-Sanchez, both of Des Moines, Iowa, were transporting 19 one-pound bundles of methamphetamine tucked under a pile of roofing shingles. Officials said it was the biggest meth bust in DuPage history.
Naperville mom charged: A Naperville mom, Elzbieta Plackowska, was charged in October with murder in the slayings of her 7-year-old son, Justin Packowski, and 5-year-old Olivia Dworakowski, who she was baby-sitting for. Plackowska told police she was angry at her husband and took it out on the two children, forcing them on their knees to pray and then stabbing the boy about 100 times and the girl about 50 times.
Healing Field of Honor: Volunteers created a Healing Field of Honor by placing 2,012 American flags on Rotary Hill in downtown Naperville to observe Veterans Day. The display, which attracted thousands of visitors, returned to the city for the first time since its inaugural appearance in 2009. In addition to serving as a moving tribute to our vets, the event also raised money for traumatic brain injury research.
Mayor suspends liquor license: Naperville Mayor and Liquor Commissioner George Pradel suspended the late-night alcohol license at BlackFinn American Saloon in November in response to several violent fights and an increasing number of police calls to the bar. The original suspension was for seven days, but Pradel lessened it to three after the bar's management proved responsive. The suspension came against a backdrop of increasing concerns about safety in downtown Naperville after dark -- particularly on weekends.
Gloomy day for DuPage GOP: Election Day was gloomy for many DuPage Republicans who saw the county's reputation as a bastion of GOP politics take another beating at the polls. Redrawn district boundaries contributed to the problem, but longtime Congresswoman Judy Biggert was crushed even in DuPage by Democrat Bill Foster and longtime state Sen. Carole Pankau lost in DuPage and her district to challenger Tom Cullerton. Even President Obama outpolled Mitt Romney in DuPage.
District 53 talks new school: The Butler Elementary District 53 school board decided in November to move ahead with plans to ultimately replace its two existing buildings with a $40 million K-8 facility at the village's Sports Core. Officials say the move would create a more vibrant Sports Core, serve as an anchor for the center of town, boost property values and, most importantly, create a state-of-the-art school to replace two aging facilities.
Winfield cops to remain: A controversial plan to have the DuPage County sheriff's office take over police protection in Winfield was scrapped in November when the sheriff informed officials he wasn't interested in participating in the outsourcing proposal. Village officials considered the idea as a way to save money to repair the village's deteriorating streets.
West Chicago OKs rec center: Voters in West Chicago Park District supported a plan to borrow $15.5 million to build a 65,000-square-foot recreation center in Reed-Keppler Park. Park officials downsized an earlier plan to build the center downtown that was defeated by voters. It will cost the typical homeowner about $60 more a year.
Cameras capture trial: Cameras rolled inside a Chicago-area trial court for the first time in November when a Naperville mother accused of murdering her son and another child pleaded not guilty before a DuPage County judge. Elzbieta Plackowska was arraigned on 10 counts of first-degree murder, The proceedings were the first in the metro area to be televised since the Illinois Supreme Court in January agreed to open trial courts to cameras on an experimental basis.
Cardamone pleads guilty: After a decade of denying accusations, Michael Cardamone pleaded guilty in November to inappropriately touching 14 young students at his family's Aurora gymnastics studio -- but insisted his actions weren't sexually motivated. Cardamone, 35, pleaded guilty to seven counts each of aggravated battery and unlawful restraint as well as one count of perjury. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which amounts to time served, and two years of probation. While he was freed, he must register as a violent offender against youths for 10 years.
DuPage's football royalty: Three DuPage high school football teams played for state championships in November and two of them, Glenbard West and Montini, won their respective crowns. The Hilltoppers captured the state's Class 7A title and the Broncos won the Class 5A crown. Glenbard North was turned away in its quest for the Class 8A championship.
Lawyer at core of scandal: He's one of Naperville's most prominent attorneys, and one of its more charitable givers. But late in the year Bill Brestal was accused of fraud. The 71-year-old zoning lawyer was hit with a $1 million lawsuit alleging years of financial fraud at his former law practice -- Dommermuth, Brtestal, Cobine and West. He's accused of pocketing unauthorized bonuses, using company credit cards to gamble and take cruises, and lying to stakeholders about the firm's finances. Brestal generally denies the accusations.
Library director fired -- twice: Following a two-hour closed door meeting July 18, the Carol Stream Library board voted 3-1 to fire Library Director Ann Kennedy. But the morning after, trustees learned from the library attorney they didn't have enough votes to dismiss Kennedy, according to library bylaws. So a week later, the board voted again -- this time with more trustees present, -- to officially dismiss Kennedy. The firing was the apparent result of divergent views between Kennedy and a new board majority led by President Mike Wade.
Election commission overhaul: The chairman of the DuPage Board of Election Commissioners resigned and two other members of the panel were replaced after the release of a report critical of the commission. In the report, an accounting firm concluded improvements must be made to the bipartisan election commission's credit card, ethics and procurement policies. New members were appointed to the three-person election board to implement the changes and make the agency more transparent and accountable.
Mosque rejection lawsuit: An Islamic group filed a federal lawsuit against DuPage County after the county board rejected its request to transform a house near West Chicago into a mosque. The lawsuit claims the county board discriminated against Islamic Center of Western Suburbs on May 8 when it voted 15-3 to reject the group's request to use the home at 28W774 Army Trail Road as a religious institution. The lawsuit says there "was no rational basis" for the group's application to be denied.
Lisle's Meijer saga ends: Eight years after Meijer abandoned its legal fight to bring a store to Lisle, the retail giant agreed to sell the property so houses can be built there. Meijer originally acquired the 60-acre site along Maple Avenue near Benedictine University to construct a 215,000-square-foot store. But in 1999, residents sued Lisle to invalidate the village's annexation and rezoning of the property to make way for the store. Three years later, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld lower-court decisions voiding Lisle's actions. Now K. Hovnanian Homes plans to build 162 houses on the property.
No dual office holders: DuPage State's Attorney Robert Berlin in January issued a legal opinion stating any mayor, village president, alderman, councilman, trustee or other officeholder seeking election or appointment to the DuPage County Board must resign from their post if they become a county board member. At the time, two county board candidates -- Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni and Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso -- said they weren't convinced Berlin's conclusion was correct. And for months, both of said they were planning to become dual office holders. But by the time they took office as county board members in December, DiCianni and Grasso had resigned their municipal positions.
Second life for youth home: A nonprofit school serving the needs of young people with severe behavioral, emotional and learning disabilities in Cook and Lake counties expanded into DuPage County by renting space at the county's former youth home. In the fall, Joseph Academy opened its newest school in the former DuPage County Juvenile Detention Center. The Wheaton facility was closed at the end of January when DuPage started sending its youth detainees to Kane County.
Overpass project advances: The long-awaited goal of separating trains from car traffic at a railroad crossing near the border of Kane and DuPage counties soon will become a reality. In October, state and local officials announced plans to construct an overpass at Route 38 and Kautz Road in West Chicago. When the nearly $26 million project is finished in 2014, vehicles on Route 38 will be able to pass over the Union Pacific tracks.