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Kaneland Connection: Fighting the ash borer in Elburn

Elburn Public Works Department employee Jenna Cook has played a key role in helping to fight the emerald ash borer in the village
Elburn Public Works Department employee Jenna Cook has played a key role in helping to fight the emerald ash borer in the village

ELBURN – Jenna Cook began her time with the Elburn Public Works Department more than eight years ago. She said she was part of the summer help, doing “regular public works stuff” and learning all about the job.

She just happened to be in a position to attend a 2006 meeting at the Morton Arboretum held after there were early sightings of the emerald ash borer in nearby areas. She noted a recent sighting had been made in Lily Lake.

“I raised my hand and said, ‘I am three miles south of Lily Lake. What do I do?’ ” she said, adding that she was told to talk with those running the meeting afterward. Soon after the Lily Lake ash borer sighting, the ash borer was found in Elburn.

Since then, Cook has learned a lot about the emerald ash borer and has played a key role in the village’s efforts to identify and remove infested trees.

“I was available to go,” she said. “And that was it.”

Cook, 28, was lauded last week at an Elburn Village Board meeting after the village’s efforts were noted by the Chicago-based Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. A letter from the caucus indicated that Elburn’s plan was among “good examples of plans from communities of all sizes in all regions of the quarantine area.”

At the meeting, John Nevenhoven, the village’s superintendent of public works, mentioned the work Cook has done over the last few years.

Village President Dave Anderson said Cook “has worked very, very hard” on the project, and he read the letter Cook received.

The plan is simple and straightforward, breaking down the number of ash trees in the village and the cost for replacement and removal of the trees. Cook said the simplicity likely is the best part of it. The plan lets residents know who to contact, how the village will pick up infested trees and also that the village won’t reimburse homeowners who wish to treat their parkway trees.

“We made the important stuff stand out,” Cook said

Cook said – at one point – there were about 800 total ash trees in Elburn. Now, she said there are about 60. At some point, they’ll all be gone, she said.

“It’ll be quite a few years before we see a white or green ash tree,” she said.

The whole thing has provided Cook with a big opportunity. She was no expert in the ash borer before attending the meeting at the arboretum, but now she knows a lot about trees. She hopes to work toward getting a forester license, and then she aims to become an arborist.

“It would be a benefit to have an arborist on staff,” she said.

Kindness Campaign
at the Fun Fest

Leigh Ann Reusche of the Kindness Campaign sent a note that the group will be part of the parade at the Maple Park Fun Fest. The parade will be at 6 p.m. Saturday on Main Street in Maple Park. The group will have a booth at the Maple Park Police Department, which is at 306 Willow St., Maple Park.

• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at

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