BATAVIA – A recently approved resolution honoring the late Phil Elfstrom of Batavia was sponsored by a lawmaker who once was one of his passionate opponents.
Elfstrom, who served as chairman of both the Kane County Board and Kane County Forest Preserve District, was a political powerhouse who knew how to get things done. He will be remembered best for his work to create the Fox River Trail bike path system, as well as the baseball stadium for the Kane County Cougars, which once bore his name.
The resolution honoring him was sponsored by state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, whose 33rd District includes a portion of Batavia. Elfstrom was partly responsible for the start of McConnaughay’s political career – not as a mentor, but as an opponent.
When the county under Elfstrom's leadership attempted to use the power of eminent domain to extend the bike trail system north into unincorporated St. Charles Township, Elfstrom was met with opposition from a group calling itself STOP (for Stop Taking Our Property). McConnaughay was one of STOP’s leaders.
The plan ultimately was thwarted by STOP, and it was a bitter political defeat for Elfstrom. Later, as Elfstrom retired from county politics, McConnaughay’s star was on the rise, and she, like Elfstrom, became chairman of the county board.
Once in the job, McConnaughay appears to have gained a better appreciation for Elfstrom’s work and his legacy, while Elfstrom approved of the way McConnaughay was handling public service.
Mayor Jeff Schielke took note of this political rapprochement during the Batavia City Council meeting Jan. 2, as a legislative aide from McConnaughay’s office presented the state’s resolution honoring Elfstrom.
Mutual admiration had grown enough that the two former adversaries had gotten together with Schielke for lunch one day, and Elfstrom revealed to McConnaughay that he had voted for her.
“It’s one of the classic political stories of Kane County,” Schielke said.
Two new police join force
Two new patrol officers bring solid law enforcement experience to the Batavia Police Department.
Nick Burdett and William Konovsky were sworn in by Mayor Jeff Schielke at the Jan. 2 Batavia City Council meeting.
Burdett comes to Batavia with service as a corrections officer at Crest Hill's Stateville Correctional Center.
Konovsky has been an officer with the Normal Police Department. A member of the Illinois Army National Guard, Konovsky serves as a military police officer and recently returned from a month-long humanitarian deployment to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
Burdett received a degree in law enforcement and justice studies from Western Illinois University in Macomb, and while there was a volunteer scuba diver with the McDonough County Sheriff’s Department. He is a recent graduate of the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy at the College of DuPage.
Konovsky earned a degree in criminal justice at Illinois State University in Normal, and received his law enforcement training at the Illinois State Police Academy in Springfield in 2013.
Batavia police Chief Dan Eul said both new officers temporarily are assigned to the day shift as they undergo field training and evaluation.
Thomle building for sale
The city owns the Thomle building at 2 E. Wilson St. and has put the historic limestone structure up for sale for $160,000. A broker is marketing the building, and there has been interest.
Mayor Jeff Schielke told the Batavia City Council on Jan. 2 that he wants the city to ensure the building is redeveloped in a way that benefits the downtown business district.
Schielke said he wants redevelopment to occur quickly, and does not want to sell to a buyer who will just let the property sit.
“I’m just wary that we get into a long-term, do-nothing moment,” Schielke told aldermen at a recent meeting.
The mayor repeatedly has suggested that the riverfront building, with an addition, would make a “dynamite” location for a restaurant.
Seventh Ward Alderman Dave Brown said the city would closely scrutinize any redevelopment proposal.