Top news stories of 2018 in DuPage County

  • Neuqua Valley High School students participate in a 45-minute walkout to stand in solidarity with the students of Marjory Stoneman Davis High School in Parkland, Florida, and to draw attention to the issue of gun violence.

    Neuqua Valley High School students participate in a 45-minute walkout to stand in solidarity with the students of Marjory Stoneman Davis High School in Parkland, Florida, and to draw attention to the issue of gun violence. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Posted1/3/2019 6:00 AM

A look back at some of the biggest news stories of the year in DuPage County ...



Push to rename post office:

A renewed effort to rename the Warrenville post office after an Army medic killed in Iraq begins to gain steam. High school classmates of Jeffrey Williams revive a request originally made by his mother to designate the post office in honor of the 20-year-old who was mortally wounded by an improvised explosive device in September 2005 in northwestern Iraq. By year's end, the request become a reality.

Sam's Club closes:

Sam's Club stores announce plans to close across the suburbs, including in Naperville, sparking a rush on the store and concerns about how shoppers can get refunds on their memberships.

Elmhurst performing arts:

The not-for-profit Elmhurst Centre for the Performing Arts releases a study suggesting Elmhurst and the surrounding area can support a 50,000-square-foot performing arts and conference center with an estimated $25 million price tag. The group is considering a downtown building that could house two theaters.

Glen Ellyn Metra station:

Glen Ellyn trustees agree to study a major reconstruction of the downtown Metra station site that would replace the 1960s-era depot, build a pedestrian bridge and create new drop-off and pickup areas for commuters.

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Chicago Women's March:

Women from across the suburbs join roughly 300,000 others for the second annual Women's March in Chicago, this time with an eye toward supporting more women candidates -- mostly Democrats -- in the November election. Three Naperville women -- Anne Stava-Murray, Valerie Montgomery and Lauren Underwood -- later are featured with dozens of others on the cover of Time magazine under the heading, "The Avengers."

Addison fire kills two:

An early morning fire kills an Addison couple in their home on the 700 block of Ellsworth Avenue. Investigators spend more than a week trying to determine what sparked the blaze. The victims are identified as Richard Sebring and Janice Barnstable, both 76. Barnstable was a pioneer of a global classroom initiative that connected teachers all over the world.

Honoring Joe Newton:

A crowd of nearly 1,000 gathers at Elmhurst's York High School for a memorial service honoring legendary cross-country coach Joe Newton, who died at age 88 in December 2017. Newton had retired at the end of the 2016 season after 61 years of coaching -- and 29 state titles.

Recycling site up for sale:

The owner of a Carol Stream property containing a shuttered recycling plant announces plans to sell or lease the 11-acre property. The DuPage County Recycling Center operated in the village for more than 25 years until Waste Management closed it in December 2017.


What stresses your teens?

A survey by Naperville-based KidsMatter of nearly 4,700 suburban seventh- and 10th-graders indicates the top three sources of stress are school, competition and peers. Perhaps most troubling: many teens say they have no one to talk to about their stress.


Library eyes renovations:

Carol Stream Public Library officials announce plans for a $5.4 million reconstruction project, the first major remodel of the building since it opened in 1977. Officials say they're hoping to create a more "welcoming environment."

Hearts ring true:

The Glenbard West High School Class of 1966 alumni raises enough money to restore a 350-pound victory bell atop a hill that overlooks Duchon Field and Lake Ellyn.

West Chicago averts strike:

After roughly two years of talks, negotiators for West Chicago High School District 94 and the teachers union reach a tentative agreement on a four-year contract that averts a strike at the eleventh hour and keeps near 2,100 students in classes. The union representing 141 teachers had planned to walk out after declaring an impasse.

Aurora opens fire station:

Aurora opens a $4 million fire station just west of an outdated 1950s-era station across from Abraham Lincoln Park. Officials say they expect to get at least 75 years out of the Station 7.

Major problem for Minor:

A candidate for state representative from Winfield, Burt Minor, stirs controversy when a Republican candidate for attorney general, Erika Harold, accuses him of repeatedly using the N-word and a crude term to ask her about her sexuality. Some GOP leaders urge Minor to drop out of the race, but he refuses.

Arts commission in Elmhurst?

A group of Elmhurst residents announces a push to create a public arts commission to promote and support outdoor public art throughout the city. Organizers say a public push to support the arts would help attract more visitors.


Lower cost court officers:

DuPage clears a major hurdle to find a cheaper way to provide security at the Wheaton courthouse when it approves a contract with the union representing 180 sheriff's deputies that allows for hiring "court security officers." The county previously used sworn deputies for almost every courthouse security position at a higher price.

Remembering Billy Graham:

Wheaton College remembers its most famous alum, Rev. Billy Graham, during a special service to celebrate the evangelist who preached to millions around the world before his passing at age 99.

Fostering arts in Aurora:

Aurora holds a preview event for an arts education center in downtown that officials hope will lead a revival of downtown. The $35 million project includes a restaurant. rehearsal space for the Paramount Theatre and a school to teach performing arts to students of all ages.

Gone fishing:

A 92-year-old World War II veteran from Carol Stream, Dominic Errichiello, opens up about his war experiences, and his love of fishing, during an appearance on the Discovery Channel's "Operation Fishing Freedom." The show is created after producers spend more than five years taking vets fishing through a nonprofit group. Errichiello fought both on D-Day and during the Battle of the Bulge.

Students walk out of schools:

Students from schools across the suburbs join the national walkout against gun violence one month after 17 are killed in a shooting in Parkland, Florida. Some schools support the walkout, others threaten -- and then follow through -- on punishments for teens who leave classes.

Election night chaos:

It's another chaotic election night in DuPage County when the election commission fails to test so-called "ender cards" that are needed to close down voting machines. The result: It takes nearly three hours for the first results to come in and nearly eight for all of the votes to be tabulated -- leaving residents and even some candidates uncertain about who won nominations in the Republican and Democratic primaries.

March For Our Lives:

Thousands of suburban residents take to the streets in places that include Glen Ellyn and Downers Grove to call for stricter gun control standards as part of March For Our Lives protests across the country. The marches come a month after 17 students and faculty members are shot and killed in their Parkland, Florida, school.

Sign of a Blue Wave:

Voting statistics from the March 20 primary show a startling change in DuPage, a traditional GOP stronghold, where nearly as many Democrats as Republicans pulled ballots.


New look for Wheaton:

Wheaton breaks ground on a $30 million, multiyear project to improve its downtown streetscape and overhaul public spaces in its central business district. Architects say they want to turn downtown into a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly destination with rebuilt streets, wider sidewalks, reconfigured parking, and new landscaping.

Happy 111th birthday:

Merle Phillips of Carol Stream marks her 111th birthday with a bus tour of her old haunts around Wheaton and Carol Stream and then a party at the Belmont Village retirement community.

Luck be a lady:

The luck of the Irish was certainly with Woodridge resident Carol Vymetal when she purchased her winning St. Patrick's Day Millionaire Raffle ticket at Leo's Wines & Spirits in Woodridge.
The luck of the Irish was certainly with Woodridge resident Carol Vymetal when she purchased her winning St. Patrick's Day Millionaire Raffle ticket at Leo's Wines & Spirits in Woodridge. - Daniel White | Staff Photographer

A Woodridge woman, Carol Vymetal, who won $1,500 in the first lottery draw in 1974 proves lucky again when she wins $1 million in the St. Patrick's Day Millionaire Raffle. "I'm pretty lucky when it comes to winning stuff," she says.

5-year contract in Bensenville:

Bensenville Elementary District 2 and its teachers union agree to a five-year contract, ending roughly 18 months of talks. The pact gives teachers raises of 5 percent, 5.5 percent and 5.25 percent in the first three years and raises of 3 percent to 5 percent in the last two depending on the rate of inflation.

Elmhurst Metra station grants:

Elmhurst secures a $2.4 million grant from the Illinois Commerce Commission for the reconstruction of its downtown Metra station, just months after receiving a $10 million federal grant for the same project. The city also receives $2 million from the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference. Estimated cost of the project: $18 million.

Racist notes in Glen Ellyn:

A group of Glen Ellyn residents calls on the village board to denounce racist and derogatory notes that were left on two school campuses. But village officials decline, saying they don't comment on ongoing investigations.

Jeb Bush keeps commitment:

One day after his mother dies, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush keeps a speaking engagement sponsored by Elmhurst College. Bush recalls his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, as the family enforcer who would have told him to keep his commitment.

Protesting gun violence:

Students in more than two dozen suburban high schools walk out of classes again to call for tougher gun laws in the wake of a series of school shootings. One of the biggest demonstrations this time around is at Naperville Central.

Library apologizes for poem:

Aurora Public Library officials apologize after a poetry exhibit draws harsh criticism that it included an Islamophobic display encouraging violence against Muslim women. Library officials are quick to remove the display, apologize and promise to give all exhibits more careful consideration.

No more tackle:

Faced with growing concerns about concussions and a declining number of players, middle schools in both Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204 announce they will replace their tackle football programs with flag football.


Tollway helps restore creek:

The state tollway authority agrees to contribute up to $11.18 million to restore up to 2.5 miles of Spring Brook Creek through the Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville.

How should rec campus grow?

Butterfield Park District between Glen Ellyn and Lombard seeks input on plans to extend the district's recreation campus with the redevelopment of two sites.

New school in Lisle:

Lisle Unit District 202 breaks ground on a $39 million project to build an elementary school to replace the aging Tate Woods and Schiesher elementaries. The two-story, 100,000-square-foot facility will serve up to 770 prekindergarten through fifth-garde students when it opens in fall 2019.

WONC celebrates 50 years:

Student Jared Roberts works with John Madormo at WONC, the North Central College radio station that celebrated 50 years in Naperville.
Student Jared Roberts works with John Madormo at WONC, the North Central College radio station that celebrated 50 years in Naperville. - Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

North Central College radio station WONC celebrates its 50th anniversary and the retirement of General Manager John Madormo after 38 years at the station's helm.

Heat scuttles parade:

Record heat over the holiday weekend leads Naperville to cancel its Memorial Day parade when some high school bands decline to participate because of health concerns.


Celebrating Asian heritage:

Naper Settlement opens an exhibit celebrating the contributions of the Chinese and Indian communities in Naperville. The "ME=WE" exhibit features portraits of Asian Naperville residents by artist Wing Young Huie.

Golf course handles the rain:

When the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County redesigned its 18-hole The Preserve at Oak Meadows golf course in Addison, it did so with two goals in mind: to increase the site's capacity for holding stormwater while still keeping the playing surface high and dry. After one of the wettest springs in history, the results are positive on both fronts.

Tablets for inmates:

DuPage County announces plans to provide five tablets for every 16 jail inmates to be used for everything from communicating with jail staff to registering for classes to playing games. Eventually, officials say, every inmate will have his or her own tablet.

Indoor pool for Naperville?

Naperville Park District says a resident survey shows support for an indoor swimming pool at the new Southwest Community Park, but officials don't think that's the right location. The district promises to examine possible pool plans elsewhere in the district.

'We cannot sit back':

Students from Chicago, Downers Grove and Parkland, Florida, come together in Naperville in front of hundreds to advocate for better gun controls and an end to gun violence on the second day of the nationwide Road to Change tour.

Aurora's pride parade:

Aurora's inaugural Gay Pride Parade was the first event of its kind in the Western suburbs.
Aurora's inaugural Gay Pride Parade was the first event of its kind in the Western suburbs. - Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Aurora plays host to its inaugural Pride Parade -- the first of its kind in the Western suburbs. On a steamy Father's Day, the parade draws thousands of participants and onlookers and organizers pledge to turn it into an annual event.

Puppy mill ordinance rejected:

Despite urging from animal welfare activists, the Naperville City Council stops short of approving ordinances that would require a four-year warranty on the health of dogs and cats sold at area pet stores and that would have allowed the city to begin local enforcement of a state law about the sourcing of animals for sale.

Troll Hunt opens:

Joe the Guardian looks over I-88 as part of the Troll Hunt by artist Thomas Dambo at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
Joe the Guardian looks over I-88 as part of the Troll Hunt by artist Thomas Dambo at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. - Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

The Morton Arboretum opens its Troll Hunt exhibit, which features six giant trolls made largely of junk wood by Danish artist Thomas Dambo. Spread across the 1,700-acre outdoor museum, the display is a smash hit.

White Pines and Bensenville?

After 15 years without a Bensenville address, White Pines Golf Club soon may be brought back into the village. Park district commissions vote unanimously to pursue reconnecting the 257-acre golf course with the village.

New Lombard landmark:

Lombard trustees designate a home built in 1875 at 134 W. St. Charles Road as a local landmark. The owners, Tom and Cynthia Masterson, submitted an application to the village's historic preservation commission in April.


COD sues former president:

The long-running legal battle between College of DuPage and former President Robert Breuder takes another twist when the board of trustees files a counterclaim in federal court seeking $25 million. The move comes in response to Breuder's federal suit filed more than two years ago claiming he was wrongfully terminated.

Family rallies:

Thousands of suburban residents join Families Belong Together rallies across the area, including Downers Grove, to protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Practicing drone flight:

Naperville Park District designates a little-used portion of Brush Hill Park between an industrial park and a car dealership as a site for drone enthusiasts to practice flight.

New 911 call center:

DU-COMM, the agency that provides emergency communications services for dozens of DuPage police and fire departments, shows off its new $15.8 million facility on the county campus in Winfield. The new headquarters, which opens in August, replaces a site in Glendale Heights.

New gardens for Cantigny:

Wheaton's Cantigny Park reopens its display gardens after months of renovations that are part of the facility's $25 million Operation New Leaf project.

Senior Women's Open:

Laura Davies of England is the runaway winner at the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton. The club, which normally shies from any kind of spotlight, was the first 18-hole course in North America and has a long history of allowing women golfers.

Golf course clubhouse:

DuPage Forest Preserve commissioners vote 6-1 to proceed with plans to build an 18,000-square-foot clubhouse at The Preserve at Oak Meadows golf course in Addison. The district already has spent $16.8 million to improve the course, including restoring a stretch of Salt Creek that flows through the property.

County election panel:

Gov. Bruce Rauner comes to Wheaton to sign legislation allowing the county to disband its election commission and merge it with the county clerk's office beginning in January 2019. The action comes after the commission bungles vote counts in three successive elections.

White Pines water woes:

Bensenville officials tell residents of the unincorporated White Pines subdivision that the village must and will fix their failing water system. Residents are given two choices: Annex to the village and pay for the improvements through property taxes or remain independent and pay for the work through vastly higher water bills.

New Naperville park:

Naperville Park District announces plans to borrow roughly $11 million to develop former farmland in the area of the city where home construction is booming. Plans call for the 33-acre Southwest Community Park at 3252 Wolf's Crossing Road to feature trails, a challenge course, a sand volleyball court, a playground, a sled hill and other amenities.


Cops now can use EpiPens:

Gov. Bruce Rauner signs an amendment to the Annie LeGere Law that clears the way for police officers across the state to use EpiPens during allergy-related emergencies. The original law -- named after an Elmhurst girl who died of an allergic reaction at a sleepover -- contained one flaw: it didn't specifically waive liability for the doctors who write prescriptions for the devices. The new law fixes that loophole.

Naperville's population climbs:

Naperville's official population count climbs by 5,988 to 147,841 as a result of a special census conducted in high-growth areas of the city. The only special census in the state this year cements the city's place as the fourth-largest city in the state but, more importantly, makes it eligible to receive $2.38 million more from three state taxes by 2021.

Cost of maintaining public art:

Naperville officials wrestle with the cost of preserving and maintaining dozens of pieces of public art that have gone up in the city over the past two decades. In 2016, the city started to set aside $50,000 for such maintenance, but that could increase significantly in coming years.

New Elmhurst police station?

Elmhurst begins discussing expanding or replacing its police station at 125 E. First St. Officials say the department already has outgrown the 28-year-old building that already is outdated and lacks many modern amenities.

Building cements legacy:

A new kindergarten building opens at St. Walter School in Roselle and retiring principal Mary Lloyd attends the dedication that she helped bring to fruition.


COD athletics punished:

All 17 College of DuPage athletic teams are deemed ineligible for postseason play after the National Junior College Athletic Association places the program on probation following the college's self-reporting of numerous administrative violations dating to 2013. An internal audit discovered the violations, college President Ann Rondeau says.

Flood control project done:

DuPage County celebrates the completion of a $4.6 million project to protect an area in Hinsdale from flooding from nearby Salt Creek.

Glen Ellyn taxes food:

Glen Ellyn trustees impose a 1.5 percent food and beverage tax to boost revenues for downtown infrastructure projects. The tax is expected to raise between $825,000 and $1.2 million annually that would be aimed for capital projects in the central business district and along the Roosevelt Road corridor.

Woodman's at Stratford:

Bloomingdale approves plans for a new Woodman's Food Market to open at Stratford Square Mall. Plans call for the company to demolish the former Macy's to make room for the stand-alone grocery store. Once completed, the site also will feature a car wash, two gas stations and a convenience center.

2,000th set of multiples:

Edward Hospital in Naperville celebrates its 2,000 multiple birth since it gained the capacity to care for the tiniest and neediest premature newborns in 1996. Happy parents Sarah Esche-Lange and Erik Lange welcome Madison and Dylan to their family.


Adult business closes:

An adult business near Roselle, Bella One Spa along Lake Street, closes -- apparently for good -- after one of its security guards is fatally shot in a confrontation with a customer.

Businesses come to center:

After years of setbacks, the DuPage Business Center in West Chicago gets several new tenants that officials say will bring jobs and economic development to the area.

Accident claims boy's life:

A 7-year-old second-grader from St. Petronille Catholic School in Glen Ellyn dies two days after apparently falling off a ride called "space flight" at the My Gym play center in Wheaton. The owner of the chain closes down the ride at all its facilities.

Students claim censorship:

Two student journalists at Metea Valley High School in Aurora say their work was censored when administrators prevented them from airing a broadcast story about a restaurant because of footage showing alcohol. But the student reporters for "The Mane," a show that airs every two weeks, say they've made their case and it's time to move on.

COD boss to leave:

Ann Rondeau, the retired Navy vice admiral who presided over a turnaround at the College of DuPage during the most tumultuous time in the school's history, announces she will leave the Glen Ellyn school at the end of December to become president of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Rondeau says the Secretary of the Navy personally asked her to take the new post. Brian Caputo, vice president of administrative affairs and treasurer, is named to replace her.

Rally for superintendent:

Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 teachers and parents rally to push for a contract extension for Superintendent Paul Gordon and to protest the school board's public silence on his fate. Gordon has less than a year remaining on his contract.

Plan to replace Columbus Day:

The executive director of Indivisible Aurora, Chuck Adams, begins pushing Aurora officials to eliminate any Columbus Day observances and instead celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day.

Making a power move:

Four firefighter/paramedics in Naperville begin working eight-hour shifts as part of a staffing plan designed to get more people on duty when they're needed most. The four are working 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays -- a vast difference from most firefighters who work 24 hours on and 48 hours off.

Sonny Acres for sale:

The owners of Sonny Acres, an iconic farm near West Chicago known for its wildly popular Fall Festival, announce the property is up for sale for $5 million. They say they hope the new buyer will maintain the site as a farm -- but there are no guarantees.

Facelift for Wheaton park:

Wheaton Park District prepares for a $5 million redevelopment project aimed at preserving Memorial Park's character while adding modern amenities -- including a new band shell. Purchased from the Gary family in 1921, it's the district's oldest park.

Faithful view saint's relics:

Hundreds of faithful file through Naperville's Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church to view the relics of Saint Padre Pio, an Italian priest who died in 1968. Several miracles have been attributed to Padre Pio and church leaders say he had the ability to be in two places at once.

Coming to Superman's aid:

Glen Ellyn residents raise money to help Jonathan Charbonneau, who gained local fame for wearing his Superman costume in every July 4 parade since 1992. Charbonneau, 52, who has Asperger's syndrome, was unable to pay his increased rent until neighbors rallied to help him. They originally hoped to raise $4,500 but wound up collecting more than $36,000 in little over a week.


O, Christmas tree:

Deborah Orth and her Elmhurst family donate a 60-foor Norway spruce to serve as Chicago's official Christmas tree. Crews remove the 8,000-pound tree from her front yard and transport it to Millennium Park.

Bensenville chief retires:

Bensenville police Chief Frank Kosman retires after 34 years of service, the last 16 as chief. Kosman is credited with helping the department cover from some scandals in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Blue wave sweeps DuPage:

A blue wave sweeps DuPage County as Democrats win an unprecedented number of seats in the Nov. 6 election. Seven Democrats are elected to the 18-member county board, the most in recent memory, and Democrats also claim the forest preserve district presidency and a circuit court judge's seat. Several GOP state legislators, including Chris Nybo, David Olsen, John Curran and Christine Winger lose their seats. And the area's only two Republican congressmen, Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren, are unseated by Democrats Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood.

Post office honors veterans:

Just in time for Veterans Day, the Bloomingdale post office is renamed in honor of the men and women who have served our country. The facility along Schick Road is now called the Bloomingdale Veterans Memorial Post Office Building.

Frida Kahlo exhibit at COD:

The College of DuPage announces plans for an exhibition of the largest private collection of works by cultural icon and famed Mexican artist Frieda Kahlo in the summer of 2020. The 26-piece collection will be on loan from Mexico's Museo Dolores Olmededo and features sketches and paintings spanning Kahlo's career.

New plan for Indian Lakes:

A developer makes a new push to build hundreds of houses for empty-nesters on the former Indian Lakes golf course property in Bloomingdale. This time, K. Hovnanian Homes presents a planned unit development that also includes restaurants, retail spaces and offices.

Glen Ellyn borrows:

Glen Ellyn officials announce plans to borrow nearly $10 million to help fund construction of a parking garage behind the Civic Center along with downtown streetscape renovations and other big-ticket projects.

Fire sweeps through Warrenville-area barn:

A huge fire sweeps through a Galusha Farm barn containing roughly 30,000 bales of hay near Warrenville. No injuries are reported, but firefighters say the damage is so extensive that it will be impossible to determine what sparked the blaze.

Snowstorm socks the suburbs:

The calendar still says fall, but a major winter storm blasts through the area dumping as much as a foot of heavy, wet snow in some areas and knocking out power to tens of thousands of suburban residents.


Halt county prayers?:

Several new Democrats on the DuPage County Board call on the panel to stop its decadeslong tradition of inviting religious leaders to conduct invocations before regular board meetings.

Sex abuse summit:

Wheaton College holds a one-day summit that attracts some of the most high-profile leaders in evangelicalism to address sexual abuse and harassment within the church.

Bomb threats a scam:

Bomb scares in several communities, including Elmhurst and Aurora, apparently are part of a nationwide spate of threats made as part of a scam.

Ribfest moving:

The organizers of Naperville's long-running Ribfest announce they will have to move out of Knoch Park after the 2019 party -- and possibly out of Naperville Park District officials say they need Knoch for their own programming, leaving Ribfest to search for a site that's both large enough and has enough parking to handle the July 4 celebration.

Lombard Library on hold:

More than two years after Lombard voters approved a tax increase for a new Helen M. Plum Memorial Library, the project remains in limbo because of unresolved issues with the park district. The debate shows no signs of easing as the new year approaches.

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