Exploring the Lake County newsmakers for 2013
A college student who made the finals of a national potato chip flavor contest and two former police chiefs who took other jobs in the same agency were among Lake County's 2013 newsmakers.
Following are nuggets about the five noteworthy faces and their stories:
Grayslake Elementary District 46 officials said a viral YouTube video posted by a local activist unfairly portrayed administrator Amanda August as being unconcerned if a student gives an incorrect math answer during her presentation to parents about common core state standards.
The current academic season barely started when the video clip, which attracted national attention, featured comments August made in late July when she spoke to some parents in her role as curriculum coordinator.
Illinois school districts were required to tailor curriculum to common core standards starting with the current academic year. The standards are clear benchmarks for what pupils should learn in each grade -- from prekindergarten through senior year of high school -- in mathematics and English language arts.
August said many negative emails, social media postings and telephone messages resulted after the YouTube clip ran on Fox News Channel and other national outlets. She said she appreciated the support of top district administrators, school board members and teachers in the wake of the personal attacks.
"I thought I was just going to be educating the parents on some of the changes coming down the pipe for common core," she said.
At issue was the 43-second clip posted by district resident Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt of Round Lake Beach for Champion NewsOnline, which District 46 officials said was an unfair portrayal of August's 30-minute presentation.
August offered an example as part of her response to a parent question about the math curriculum shift for fifth through eighth grades. Under common core, August said, instructors now will be more concerned about how a student arrives at an answer.
"But even under the new common core, even if they said three times four was 11, if they were able to explain their reasoning, and explained how they came up with their answer really in words and in oral explanations and they showed it in the pictures and they just got the final number wrong? We're really more focusing on the how and the why," August said during the town hall forum at Frederick School in Grayslake.
The woman who posed the original question followed up by asking if students with the wrong math answer would be corrected. "Oh, absolutely. Absolutely," August said. "We want our students to compute correctly, but the emphasis is really moving more toward the explanation and the how and the why and can I really talk through the procedures that I went through to get this answer and not just knowing that it's 12, but why is it 12. How do I know that?"
Jarratt contended August implied the wrong math answer would be accepted in her response to the parent's follow-up question.
Raymond J. Rose and Douglas Larsson
Both men wound up leaving their police chief jobs for different reasons, but each landed new gigs at the Lake County sheriff's office.
Larsson, 62, had served as Wauconda's chief for nearly four years, but was forced from the post during a public clash with Mayor Frank Bart. Larsson previously had been chief in Round Lake Beach for six years, a stint that was preceded by a 30-year Rolling Meadows Police Department career.
In November, Sheriff Mark Curran named Larsson as a deputy chief in the corrections division, which includes the jail and related programs. "It allows me to continue my career, (which) I value highly, and serve the county," Larsson told the Daily Herald. "I like working for law enforcement in Lake County." Rose retired in January after 20 years as Mundelein police chief. Curran appointed Rose as undersheriff in September.
As undersheriff, the 66-year-old Rose has reported to Curran while handling day-to-day operations of the office, which has 600 full- and part-time employees. He said the jobs is similar to being police chief. "I think it will work out well, not only for the organization but for the county at large," Rose said.
While the Lake Zurich college student fell short in his quest to have sriracha become the next big Lay's potato chip flavor, Raineri collected a good chunk of change from the nationwide contest that concluded in May.
Raineri's sriracha chip was one of three finalists in the derby that attracted 3.8 million submissions for new Lay's flavors. Cheesy garlic bread bested the sriracha and chicken and waffles. Winner Karen Weber-Mendham of Land O' Lakes, Wis., will receive $1 million or 1 percent of her chip's net sales at the conclusion of this year. Raineri and the other runner-up, Christina Abu-Judom of Phoenix, each bagged $50,000.
Raineri said inspiration for the sriracha chip came from his grandmother. She sprinkled the Asian-style hot sauce on homemade potato chips.
"It was a great experience," he said, "and everyone we worked with made the experience even more unbelievable. I'm hoping to create opportunities from this and I plan on using the money to finish school and invest most of the money."
Mike Allison announced in September that it's time to step away from his 15 years as Vernon Hills village manager. Elected officials didn't have to go beyond village hall for a replacement.
John Kalmar, who has been with the village 14 years as assistant village manager and director of community development, will replace Allison, who is retiring Jan. 31.
Allison, 63, said living and working in Vernon Hills has been his best professional experience and there was no particular reason for retiring. "It's just a feeling," he said. "I think it's doing something in your life for 38 years -- it's certainly nothing that has happened here."
Kalmar has been the point man for several major projects, sales tax agreements and other developments in the community, and his appointment is expected to provide a smooth transition and level of continuity.