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River Town Chronicles: Oh, how people love to ‘Sound Off’

Ten. I counted. More than on any other subject that I can recall.

That’s the number of phone calls to the Kane County Chronicle’s “Sound Off” line last week opining whether a woman should “be angry” that a Geneva police officer issued her a verbal warning for the quick use of a handicapped parking space when dropping off her husband at the train station.

Yes, it takes a lot to engage our community; let someone receive merely a reprimand for possibly breaking the law, and folks erupt with concern.

Some callers demanded the equivalent of the officer’s head on a platter, while pitying the angst-ridden wife. Others applauded the law enforcer, while scolding the arrogant, ne’er-do-well drop-off queen.

No doubt these callers (all anonymous) withheld their valuable opinions until finding something worthy enough for their vociferous voices. Why waste energy on something inconsequential, like trying to convince the Geneva School District 304 Board not to go through with its planned hike to property taxes that will add about $300 per household?

Perhaps, too, these callers didn’t consider it important enough to contact their aldermen urging them to stand up to a mayor who argued anyone holding a liquor license be denied running for alderman, meaning longtime Geneva citizen, businessman and tavern owner Mike Olesen was effectively blocked from sitting on the City Council.

Moreover, these callers may have thought it ridiculous to read newspapers or attend debates focused on local elections, much less take time to vote, as a dismal voter turnout would indicate.

Finally, one wonders if they found it germane to question District 304 Superintendent Kent Mutchler’s five-year salary package, which included a 2.5 percent raise ($203,720), 30 sick days, 25 vacation days and an $800 a month travel allowance.

These issues might sound profound, but I didn’t see any outpouring of frustration like the one that followed news of a citizen being upbraided for using a handicapped space. Therefore, I propose some Pied Piper solutions to rid our community of this rat-heinous evil to help everyone chillax during the fun, celebratory family time between Turkey Day and Christmas.

• Eliminate handicapped parking. This would prevent the temptation of using one for the few seconds it takes to kiss your husband and get him out of the car.

• Eliminate police officers. This would make it possible to park in a handicapped space (if my first solution were ignored) without being hassled, at least not by the law. You may, however, get an earful from people like me with back pain issues.

• Eliminate train stations. Like in the popular YA dystopian novel “Divergent,” people could leap aboard a moving train at a spot nearest their home.

• Eliminate husbands and wives. Although at first this might sound extreme, isn’t it better than being plagued with the urge to call a newspaper when horrific parking lot injustices get reported?

Well, if common sense prevents my ideas from being incorporated, you’ll just have to try your best to have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

• Rick Holinger lives in the Fox Valley where he’s taught high school since 1979. His poetry, fiction, essays and book reviews have appeared in several literary journals. He founded and facilitates the St. Charles Writers Group and has a Ph.D. in creative writing from UIC. Contact him at

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