Jim Lootens has officially retired from the third generation family-owned business Art Lootens & Son, OS551 Joliet Street. In its 81st year, the firm serves the excavating, paving, concrete and trucking needs of businesses and residents.
In 1936, Art Lootens, now deceased, bought a dump truck, mainly hauling coal, explained Jim. “He shoveled coal into the bins at residences in the area, staying with this until 1946.” At that time Henry Vanucker handed part of his excavating jobs to Art. At the same time, the late Joe Jemsek, owner of St. Andrews Golf and Country Club, urged Art to assist with the roads and excavating at the club. “He talked my dad into buying a Caterpillar.”
Adding to the manpower, Art’s brother Ed, who served in WWII joined the company in 1946. As the business grew, Art hired Charlie Wheeland. Needing more equipment for the various jobs, Art purchased a crawler crane for digging trench holes. In addition to St. Andrews, other customers included Lindsay Light & Chemical Company, Reid Murdoch Factory, Ball Seed Company and Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. Art and his employees worked long hours, from 4 a.m. until 8 or 9 p.m.
The company also is known for its steam engines. In 1969 Art bought the first one, a 1918 model, as “a form of advertisement.” The second engine is a 1922 model. The steam engines, especially popular for corn boils, are frequently seen at community events and festival. The corn boil, organized by the West Chicago Fire Protection District, was a big draw during past Railroad Days. The corn boil now is a part of the West Chicago Community High School Sports Fest held at the beginning of the school year. Other local events include the Geneva School Sports Night, Geneva Family Service fundraiser, and DeKalb Corn Fest. “At one event, we go through 25,000 ears of corn in two hours.”
Art also was involved in government, serving as Winfield Township Road Commissioner from 1967 through 1988. He was instrumental in the formation of the West Chicago Fire Protection District, “a main force in the funding. He was the first president of the district.”
Jim followed in his father’s footsteps by taking an active interest in the community, serving as a commissioner of the West Chicago Park District for 17 years. Also he served on both the DuPage County Fair Board and DuPage County Fair Authority.
The second generation started in 1973 when Jim and his wife Jan purchased the company. After working full time with the family business since 1994, their daughter Kate Lootens bought her stock in in the business in 2006. Jim remained as president, working out in the field for the company. As with all businesses, changes occur, but some things remain constant. Jim said, “The business continues its tradition of long working hours and taking pride in work and equipment. Customer satisfaction still is very important.”
AROUND AND ABOUT
The 2017 summer concert series at The Shell in Reed-Keppler Park are from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays. In June DuPage performs on June 14 and the Stingrays perform on June 28. Fun Fridays are from 11:00 to noon. Iswan & His Imaginary Band performs on June 23, 2017 and Damen Avenue Puppeteers perform June 30, 2017.
West Chicago City Museum continues its Histiography program, a non-fiction book reading group. The discussion group meets at noon, Thursday, June 15, 2017 at the Museum, 132 Main Street. Guests can bring a sack lunch; dessert and drinks are provided. Persons need not read the book to attend the discussion. Copies of the book are available at the museum and library. Call the Museum at (630) 231-3376 for further information.
“Rethink Your Drink: Infused Water” is the West Chicago Public Library District program at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15, 2017 in the program room, 118 West Washington Street. A representative from Healthy West Chicago discusses the hidden sugar in popular beverages and how they impact a person’s health. Attendees learn how to read the ingredients of food labels and identify high calorie sweeteners. They also have the opportunity to create healthy fruit-infused water alternative. To make a reservation, call the adult services department at (630) 231-1552, extension 4.
During the summer, West Chicago City Museum, 132 Main Street, hosts Fun Fridays for youths age seven and up from 10:15 to 11:45 a.m. Fridays. Registration is required and may be made by calling (630) 231-3376.
In June, there are two events in which participants take part in creative and hands-on history lessons. “Victory Garden in a Jar” takes place Friday, June 16, 2017. The youths learn about victory gardens and make one in a jar. “Patriotic Pride” is Friday, June 23, 2017. This is the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I. Attendees learn how displays of patriotism helped support the war at home and make patriotic crafts.
“Science of Steam,” a free workshop for youths ages 7 to 14, is from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The invention of the steam engine propelled the growth of the United States. The youth learn about West Chicago’s tie to this technology and work as a team to create a working model of a steam engine. Class size is limited. The class is sponsored by a grant from the Margolis family. (www.merleburl.com)
West Chicago Park District hosts the Seminole Sports baseball and softball tournament Friday, June 16 – Sunday, June 18, 2917 at Reed-Keppler Park.
For Father’s Day, June 18, 2017, check the local restaurants and businesses for the special meals or gifts.
At the West Chicago Park District Turtle Splash Water Park, 129 West National Street, dad’s have an afternoon of fun on Father’s Day, June 18, 2017. Dad’s admission is free with one paying child.
Wayne/Winfield Area Youth/Family Services offers hour-long computer classes for senior citizens at
Wayne Township, 27W031 North Avenue. Not only do seniors learn basic skills, but also have the opportunity to socialize. The fee is $2. Reservations are required and may be made by calling (630) 231-7166.
“Introduction to Facebook” class is at 1:00 p.m. Monday, June 19, 2017. For classes that involve a technology device, persons need to bring their personal items with them.
Trinity Lutheran Church, 338 George Street, holds its Vacation Bible School from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Monday, June 19 – Friday, June 23, 2017. It is open to children preschool through sixth grade for the 2017-2018 school year. The theme is “In Jesus the Victory is Won.” Dinner is provided. Cost is $10 for first child, $5 for second child with a maximum of $20 per family. After the 10:00 a.m. worship service Sunday, June 25, 2017 the children will share the songs they learned. To register, call the church at (630) 231-1175.)
West Chicago Public Library District holds a two-hour computer class at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, 2017 in Study Room 3, 118 West Washington Street. Microsoft Excel teaches the basic skills of setting up spreadsheets, adding/deleting columns and rows, simple calculations and terminology. Persons must have basic computer skills. To make a reservation, call the adult services department at (630) 231-1552, extension 4.
The West Chicago Park District holds an Italic Calligraphy class from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays, starting June 21 – July 26, 2017 at the ARC, 201 West National Street in Reed-Keppler Park. Students learn to draw Italic letterforms with inks and chisel-edged pen. Topics are the creation of keepsake works of art and making an accordion-folded book using special papers. The teacher is Lauren Davies from the Community School of Arts in Wheaton. Supplies are included in the cost of $12 for residents and $15 for non-residents. To register, stop in at the ARC or online at www.we-goparks.org.
The Brush for Art classes are made possible through a grant from the JCS Fund of the DuPage Community Foundation. It is for individuals 55 years and older and allows the district to offer different art programs at a reduced rate.
The West Chicago Garden Club meeting is Thursday, June 22, 2017 in the gardens at the Kruse House Museum, 527Main Street. Social time is 6:45 p.m., short business meeting at 7:00 p.m., followed by the program at 7:15 p.m.
Friends of West Chicago Parks Foundation annual Golf Outing is Friday, June 23, 2017 at Prairie Landing Golf Course, 2325 Longest Drive, Check in is at 7:30 a.m., golf play begins at 8:30 a.m., and lunch and awards is at 1:00 p.m. The charge is $160 per person, $620 for a foursome, and $30 for lunch only. Proceeds benefit the Friends of West Chicago Parks Foundation Scholarship Program to provide recreational opportunities to low-income qualifying families in the West Chicago Park District community. To make a reservation, visit the park district’s website www.we-goparks.org.
Late Night Swim takes place from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 23, 2017 at Turtle Splash Water Park, 129 West National Street. Pre-registration is required no later than Friday, June 16. The pre-registration charge is $5 for residents and $8 for non-residents. The charge is $10 at the door.
Art in the Garden, hosted by West Chicago Historical Society, People Made Visible and Gallery 200, takes place from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, June 24, 2017 at the Kruse House Museum, 527 Main Street. The ticket price is $12, $20 per couple Tor reserve tickets call the City Museum at (630) 231-3376, email email@example.com, or in person at the Museum, 132 Main Street, or the Gallery, 103 West Washington Street.
Maggie Capettini, education director at West Chicago City Museum, does en plein air painting of the Kruse House gardens and the 100-year-old Kruse House and Sharon Malec gives a fiber art demonstration. Silent auction items include artwork by Gallery 200 artists such as Marge Hall and Earl Weber. Refreshments include cheese, desserts and wine. Providing the musical entertainment is ZAZZ, an innovative jazz group that puts a new twist to jazz standards, popular tunes, original music and Broadway songs. Members are Deb Zelman, clarinet and vocals; Ken O’Neil, tenor sax and flute; Gail Sonkin, piano and composer; Michelle Akin, bass; Julian Webb, bass; and Greg Zaboriniak, drums.
St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 155 North Prince Crossing Road, hosts its Vacation Bible School from 6:15 to 8:00 p.m. Monday, June 26 – Friday, June 30, 2017. The theme is “Hero Central: Discover Your Strength in God.” Activities include Bible learning, songs, games, crafts and snacks. The charge is $5 per child, Maximum of $10 per family. To register, call the church office at (630) 231-3787,
First United Methodist Church of West Chicago, 643 East Washington Street, hosts its Vacation Bible School from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Monday, June 25, through Friday, June 20, 2017. It is geared for children from preschool through fifth grade. The theme is “Let’s Build an Ark,” featuring some live animals. To make a reservation call the church at (630) 231-3344 or on line at www.firstumcucc.org.
Clarissa Vargas, a junior at West Chicago Community High School, is the Female Athlete of the Season for Spring. Vargas played both badminton and tennis for three years and earned All-Conference honors. She was on the state-bound badminton team last year, and placed in both singles and doubles competitions. She served as a Student Ambassador, is involved in Interact Club and WeGo Drama, and currently is president of French Club. After high school, Vargas plans to attend a college or university to major in civil engineering or architecture. (www.merleburl.com)
Ross Behr, a senior at West Chicago Community High School, is the Male Athlete of the Season for Spring. He played basketball freshman year, golf freshman through junior year, and volleyball all four years. He earned All-Conference and Academic All-Conference honors in volleyball, was on the all-tournament team and placed second at the Boys Junior National Championship. Behr was on Honor Roll or High Honor Roll every semester. He is an Illinois State Scholar and earned the Outstanding Performance in Math award. He recently was nominated for the Chicago Tribune scholar athlete award. Behr is a member of Future Business Leaders of America the Math Team, the Economics Team, and was a member of the Personal Finance Challenge Team that placed first in the State of Illinois and second nationally. Behr plans to study Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana and play club volleyball. (www.merleburl.com)
Jenna Palka, a senior at West Chicago Community High School, is the Student of the Month for May 2017. She was selected for her outstanding achievements academically and in extracurricular activities.
Palka was on High Honor Roll every semester and has a cumulative weighted GPA of 5.537. She is a member of National Honor Society and the Foreign Language Honor Society, is an Illinois State Scholar, and has received a National Merit Scholarship Certificate of Merit. Palka received the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Award, was named the Outstanding Senior in Science, and received the John Philip Sousa Band Award.
Palka is in band, serving as drum major for marching band, is a member of jazz band, and played in the pit orchestra for two musicals. She serves as a Student Ambassador and ROAR mentor and is a member of Interact Club. Palka participated in Scholastic Bowl, is a member of Math Team, and was a member of the Personal Finance Challenge Team that placed first in the State of Illinois and second nationally. Palka played volleyball, soccer, and ran cross-country.
Palka plans to attend Purdue Honors College to pursue a degree in Engineering. (www.merleburl.com)
At the Monday, June 5, 2017 City Council meeting, Gloria Trejo, principal of Pioneer School, was the recipient of a proclamation from the City of West Chicago. It was in recognition of her being the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendent’s 2017 Latino Administrator of the Year. Trejo said, “It was truly an honor, especially representing West Chicago…The families and students are very special to me.”
At the meeting, City council approved a contract for 2017 Meadow Woods Subdivision resurfacing project for the amount of $361,175.70 to Brothers Asphalt Paving, Inc. in Addison. The project consists of approximately 1.10 miles of streets. The work includes pavement milling, hot-mix asphalt resurfacing, full in-depth pavement patching, intermittent concrete sidewalk, curb ramps, and combination concrete curb and gutter removal and replacement, utility structure adjustments, installation of area reflective and strip reflective crack control treatment, parkway restoration and Thermoplastic pavement markings.
Also approved was a contract for the amount of $295,123 for professional services related to the necessary repairs of well assembly at the City’s Well Station #9 to Layne Christensen Company.
Council approved the purchase of up to 2,600 tons of rock salt at the price of $51.49 per ton delivered from Detroit Salt Company LLC of Detroit, Michigan.
Also approved was contract for the amount of $39,000 for professional engineering design services related to the 2017 City hall Main Entrance Modifications project to Strand Associates, Inc. The item study reports, “At the recommendation of City police personnel and after one too many improper customer interactions at the front counter, funds were included in the 2017 Budget to address a number of security and safety concerns at City Hall. Security improvements include adding a door behind the dais in City Council Chambers, moving the front desk of the Department of Administrative Services perpendicular to its current location, adding security cameras for both desks at City Hall, widening both counters and relocating the current entrance to the east wall, with the current entrance to serve as an emergency exit.
In the June 2017 issue of “West Suburban Living” magazine, West Chicago is the Town Focus. The five page article, “West Chicago: A Village on Track to a Vibrant Future” relates the railroad history, the new growth, parks, recreation and art in the community.
Named to the Daily Herald’s All-Star Soccer team was Madison Ebeling from Wheaton Academy. The Honorable Mention was Meghan Gagliano from WA. Named to the Daily Herald All-Area Boys Volleyball team was Ross Behr from West Chicago Community High School. Honorable Mention was Elijah Pinkevich from WCCHS. Named to the Daily Herald All-Area Girls Soccer team were Emmerson Fuller and Gretchen Pearson from WA. Honorable Mention was Barbie Castellanos from WCCHS.
The Paper Shredding event, sponsored by the West Chicago Environmental Commission Saturday, June 3, 2017, was quite successful. Tim Wilcox, Assistant Director of Public Works, said, “It went well, not as crazy as last year.” One hundred eighty nine vehicles went through. Accurate Document Destruction Inc. reported that 11,389 pounds or 5.69 tons of paper were shredded. Also nine rain barrels were sold through the City’s website.
In the West Chicago Community High School graduation Friday, June 3, 2017, there were 444 graduates. The student speaker was Maxwell Smith. The faculty speaker, selected by the students was Kris Hasty, physical education teacher and Varsity Boys Volleyball team. She retired at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Pauline Sulit and Tracy Le presented the senior gift, two new eco-friendly benches to be placed at Entrance A. (www.merleburl.com)
Jennifer Stein is a new staff member at Wayne/Winfield Area Youth/Family Services. She works with individuals and groups in anger management, parenting classes, senior computer classes and Summer Day Camp. She has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wheaton College. Stein currently is pursuing her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health at Wheaton College.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6791 officers for 2016-2017 are Steve Bennier, commander; William Bridgeforth, senior vice commander; Andy Zenisek, junior vice commander; Paul Sticksel, adjutant; Chuck Scheckel, chaplain; Christine Seagrave, quartermaster; and Bob Gustafson, guard and Voice of Democracy. Others are Rich Mastaler, service officer; Don Smith, officer of the day and trustee; John Johnston, trustee; and Andy Escobedo, trustee.
VFW Auxiliary officers are Terry Adams, president; Pam Brugoto, senior vice president; Cynthia Paris, junior vice president; Patty Lisenmeyer, secretary; Terry Escobedo, treasurer; and Ethel Moorhouse, chaplain. Others are Feliz Sanchez, conductress; Rose Lawless, Barb Yurick and Pat Scheckel, trustees; and Nancy Smith, patriotic instructor and Voice of Democracy.
At the end of the school year, WeGo Together for Kids of West Chicago Elementary School District 33 presented the highlights and updates since August 2016. At the WeGo Together Community Market in partnership with Neighborhood Food Pantries and Northern Illinois Food Bank, 310 households were served, 1,535 individuals were served and 136,359 pounds of food were distributed. After School programming, 142 students participated in the Puento del Pueblo program at Indian Knoll and Wegner schools, 217 students participated in the DREAM program at Currier, Gary, Pioneer and Leman Middle schools, and 49 students participated in the before and after West Chicago Park District program. In partnership with the Community Organizing & Family Issues, Literacy DuPage, College of DuPage, Benedictine University, Northern Illinois Food Bank and West Chicago Park District, the Parent and Family Education program had 27 fitness and nutrition classes at the WeGo Together Community School, 70 parents enrolled in the English as a Second Language classes and 12 Birth to Five parents graduated from the second cohort of parent Leadership Training in May.
GardenWorks Project exceeded its goal of building 70 vegetable gardens at homes of families that rely on food pantries. Eighty-two gardens were built. Plans are to welcome at least 10 families for late season balcony gardens.
For the fifth year, West Chicago Community High School Language Arts teachers Amanda Cardenas, Jamie Culen, Tara DeLeon, Patrice Dobry and Kyle Etheridge challenged Sophomore English 2 students to make an impact that would change the future for people in the community and make important strides towards Social Justice. Students researched an important social issue that was of personal value of such topics as homelessness, hunger, poverty, animal cruelty, immigration, human trafficking, discrimination and bullying prevention.
The Challenge took place Thursday, June 1, 2017, which included the attendance of 350 sophomore students who presented their service and attendance of more than 400 parents, family and friends who came to watch and support. Students collectively gained about 4,000 views on Snapchat, YouTube and Twitter to help raise awareness for their causes, collectively fundraised and donated more than $2,500 to organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and UNICEF, collectively gave more 500 hours of service to local organizations such as the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Feed My Starving Children
New officers of West Chicago Lions Club are president, Lori Chassee; second vice president, Don Voelz; treasurer, Lori Chassee; secretary, John Dusza/Lori Chassee; LCIF coordinator, Jesse Felix; members director, Marvin Boorsma; tail twister, John Catalano; and lion tamer, Jerry Morelli and Omar Espinosa. Others are chaplains, John Klingberg and Nancy Rethford; corporation coordinator, John Klingberg; one-year director, John Catalano; two-year director, Jerry Morelli; and three-year director, Sterling Price.
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