Constable: Two couples make a quorum on Hainesville village board
Proud of its heritage as "Lake County's oldest village," the sleepy hamlet of Hainesville doesn't make news very often. But a Daily Herald investigation has learned that two-thirds of the Hainesville village board -- four of its six members -- are sleeping with a fellow board member.
"And the village is OK with that," says Jack Chynoweth, a village trustee who saw his wife, Kristine Chynoweth, sworn in this week to join him on the board as one of those village trustees. The married Chynoweths join longtime trustee Georgeann Duberstein and her trustee husband, George E. Duberstein, on the board.
Having two married couples on the board is perfectly legal, but it does create an unusual guideline. If the Chynoweths and Dubersteins meet at Hainesville's Bento Cafe to share a Giant Godzilla Special Roll of sushi, get together for a friendly game of euchre, or just chill in the gazebo at The Gathering Place next to village hall, they risk being in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act. As four members of a six-member board, the couples create a quorum whenever they are together. A quorum, even in social settings, breaks the law if anyone discusses anything germane to the village of Hainesville.
That isn't likely. The Dubersteins are both 81 years old and retired. Jack Chynoweth, 58, is an Air Force veteran who works as construction superintendent for Pacific Construction Services. Kristine Chynoweth, 51, works as a program specialist at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center. The Chynoweths and Dubersteins are friendly to each other at board meetings but don't socialize outside of that.
Even if two married couples on a board isn't news, the town of 3,600 residents is happy to get some attention.
"Prior to 1990, there were more cows in town than people," says Gerry Daley, 70, a retired school administrator now in his second term as the mayor of Hainesville. Daley, whose wife of 44 years, Mary, does not hold public office in Hainesville, says he's comfortable with married couples serving on the village board.
"In the case of Georgeann and George, they've frequently had different votes and different ideas," Daley says. During the May monthly meeting, Daley glances at a committee report on the agenda and calls on the wrong Duberstein. "Nope," he says, quickly correcting himself. "The other one."
The low-key meetings, which generally draw a crowd of one or two residents, are cordial.
"It's never been a political battle," Daley says, noting the village has a balanced budget, has no debt or overly divisive issues, doesn't have a crime problem and doesn't even have a bar in town. Trustees get a stipend of $325 a month. Voter turnout in the last election was low. While Daley was the big winner with 180 votes, Kristine Chynoweth won her seat with 106 votes to oust incumbent John Derenoski, who had 98 votes. Georgeann Duberstein was the leading trustee vote-getter with 135 votes.
Political ambition takes second place to the desire to be a public servant, Daley says. "Let's see what we need to do to keep Hainesville the good solid community it is," Daley says.
Now in her third term, Georgeann Duberstein has been an active member of the community since the couple moved into Hainesville nearly 19 years ago. A retired physician assistant who also taught school and sold computers, Georgeann Duberstein started the town's Great Age Club for seniors before she became a trustee. She organized the villagewide garage sale, which now is an annual event. An avid environmentalist, she wrote the five-year plan to restore the federally protected woodlands surrounding Cranberry Lake.
The view from the Dubersteins' backyard of the restored Cranberry Lake is the reason they moved into town, says her husband, who enjoyed mountain views during his years in Colorado. George Duberstein is a retired Army officer and decorated Vietnam War veteran who started the popular Civil War re-enactment in Hainesville.
Married for 37 years, the pair met at a singles party where everyone wore name tags.
"Doesn't Georgeann have to say hi to George?" Georgeann Duberstein says. They ended up ditching the gathering to go dancing.
"It was like we'd been dancing together forever," George Duberstein says. "We were married two months later."
The Chynoweths share the Dubersteins' love of Hainesville. They moved into the village in 2013 and instantly felt at home, they say.
"Hainesville is a beautiful community with a wholesome history, and Kristine and I are truly blessed to have ended up here," Jack Chynoweth writes in his village trustee profile at hainesville.org.
"I wanted to make the community more involved," Kristine Chynoweth says of her reason to run for trustee and join her husband on the board. "Everywhere I went, people would say, 'Hey, tell Jack ...' and I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring and see if I can get more neighbors involved."
Incorporated in 1847, the town took its name from teacher Elijah M. Haines, who surveyed and platted Hainesville. He met Abraham Lincoln in 1847 and the pair became friends. The future president is said to have spent a few nights in Hainesville, and Haines went on to be a state representative and speaker of the Illinois House. Since then, well, not a whole lot of news has been made in Hainesville.
The trustees and the mayor politely chuckle at this strained effort to make married trustees into a news story.
"Hainesville in the news? That's nice, but I like low-key," Daley says. "If people aren't complaining, I'm happy. Overall, it's a nice, calm place."