Aviation museum holds a little piece of history

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor

SUGAR GROVE – Shelf after shelf of precisely positioned model airplanes sit inside enclosed glass cases at the Aurora Air Classics Museum. These painted plastic airplanes are more than just models, and nobody understands that better than the volunteers at the museum.
Each plane comes with a sad story. The museum usually acquires them after the passing of a veteran.
“We get the calls from family members who say, ‘my dad just passed away and he collected these model airplanes. If you don’t want them, we’re just going to have to throw them away,” said Hank Winkler, a retired veteran and volunteer at the museum.
Of course the museum wants them. “These are works of art, but no family member wants them,” he explained. The museum is happy to get those phone calls, but on the other hand, it comes at the expense of a dying veteran.
“We’d rather have the stuff, than have the family destroy stuff they don’t know the value of,” Winkler added.
Winkler spoke during a tour of the Air Classics Museum July 21 to a group of area veterans. For many, it was their first visit to the museum, located in Sugar Grove, on Route 30.
The museum is a small operation, but is by no means short on delivering history on local veterans as well as displaying artifacts like uniforms, pictures, military advertisements and of course, the actual planes themselves.
The three buildings on the grounds that house the museum hold decades and decades of history, with stories like Capt. William Cullerton, a P-51 fighter pilot from Chicago who was shot down and captured. Towards the end of World War II, the prisoners in Cullerton’s prison camp were shot and left for dead.
He was shot point-blank in the stomach. The bullet passed through him, hitting his kidney and liver. When found, he was alive, but barly clinging to life. He lost most of his blood through the bullet wound. He was taken to a hospital and saved by a Jewish doctor.
After returning home and re-joining civilian life, Cullerton made a career as a radio announcer with WGN Radio, hosting the Great Outdoors Show from 1979-99.
Then there was Aurora resident Richard Allen who, as a young pilot, started out flying B-17’s. Winkler remembered that during an open house event, a Batavia resident — who grew up in Germany as a child, asked if Winkler could put him in contact with a pilot who flew missions over Munich.
Winkler introduced the Batavia resident to Allen. Even though Allen was responsible for many bombing missions over Munich, the Batavia resident and he shared a friendly conversation. “He just wanted to meet and talk with Allen. That’s all. And that story is one of the fascinating aspects of volunteering at the museum,” Winkler said.
Volunteers have the best job, Winkler said. “I get to come here every weekend and talk to people from around the world who are interested in what we have to show them,” he explained.
Aside from three buildings of artifacts, outside the museum is where the aircraft collection sits in two rows. They include a TA-4J Skyhawk, Republic F-105 Thunderchief and the Bell UH-1H Huey, seen in the recent Aurora July 4 parade.
“There really is something for everybody here,” Winkler said.

Jennifer Rice’s e-mail address is Jen@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Wisconsin voters take to the polls for union rights

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

WISCONSIN — Voters in Wisconsin headed to the polls Tuesday in the first of nine recall elections, elections that are rooted by the threat earlier this year of eliminating public sector collective bargaining statewide.
The stakes are high in the badger state: If Democrats win a total of three seats, they will regain control of the state Senate. Republicans currently control a 19 to 14 majority, as well as control of the House. If the Democrats win, it will serve as a large victory toward unpopular Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Earlier this year, a Wisconsin measure passed in the state legislature with the support of Gov. Walker that effectively sidelined collective bargaining rights of many state employees. The bill was passed under the guise of shrinking the state’s $137 million budget deficit, but divided the state between union and non-union supporters. Under the law, all public workers except police and firefighters would be required to pay for more of their retirement plan and health care premiums.
The recalls in Wisconsin will continue through August with nine state senators forced to defend their seats: three Democrats and six Republicans. The six Republican state senators who are up for recall all voted for the measure, while the three Democrats voted no on it.
Tuesday, Democrat Dave Hansen defended his seat in the state senate against Republican David Vanderleest. Hansen was expected to win, with a 28-point lead in early polling done by Public Polling Policy. Up for serious contention in being ousted in later elections are incumbent Democrats Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch.
Here is the upcoming recall election schedule:
August 9: Voters will decide the fate of the six Republicans in recall elections.
August 16: Two remaining Democrats will defend their seats in recall elections.

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Groundbreaking ushers in new green era for Aurora

RiverEdge groundbreaking
Pat Barcas photo
The first shovels of dirt symbolize the start of construction on the RiverEdge Park Music Garden. The park is expected to create construction jobs and draw private sector and non-retail jobs to Aurora.

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

Construction on the nearly $13 million RiverEdge Park Music Garden is underway, a project that is projected to bring 150 construction jobs and between 450 to 600 private sector and non-retail jobs to Aurora.
The July 15 groundbreaking of the Music Garden is merely the first phase of a ten-year grand plan for the city that involves a renewed focus on the environment and revitalizing the downtown.
“The most important part of this project is the spurring of economic development for the area, which is badly needed for the trades in our community,” said Mayor Tom Weisner to the crowd of 100 at the groundbreaking event. “This is a marvelous collaboration over many, many years, and that’s how we get things done. It’s going to bring with it a great gathering place. This is changing our riverfront from brown to green, and within a year, we’ll be out here for a ribbon cutting instead of a groundbreaking.”
RiverEdge Park will be located along the Fox River between New York Street and Illinois Avenue in downtown Aurora. The Music Garden will hold 9,500 people and serve as a cultural events hub, hosting the Blues on the Fox and Downtown Alive! concert series.
Funding comes from $15 million in grant money including $8 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity River Edge Redevelopment Zone Program, $3 million from the Fox Valley Park District, $2 million from the Kane County Forest Preserve District, and $2 million from the Dunham Fund.
“We’re very pleased to put local talent to work here,” said first ward alderman Abby Schuler. “We’re very excited the plan has finally been executed.”
Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity director Warren Ribley was optimistic about the economic growth the project will bring.
“Through the River Edge program, we’re investing in the future of our river communities by supporting those efforts that are fostering economic growth, attracting investment and creating jobs,” said Ribley. “This project is the first step in what we hope will be a brighter and more prosperous future for the people of Aurora.”

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Moveon.org meeting brings about political discussion

Moveon.org house meeting
Pat Barcas photo
Local residents gather in Lisle July 16 for a moveon.org American Dream House Meeting. The grassroots political meeting are aimed at coming up with a mission statement on what citizens want changed in America.

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

LISLE — They talked about unemployment. They talked about health care. They talked about taxes, government, local politics and illegal immigration. But most of all, they talked about what’s wrong with America, and what can be done to fix it.
The discussion went on at a moveon.org American Dream House Meeting in Lisle last weekend, one of more than 1,500 hosted throughout the country. Grassroots politics at its finest, the meetings aimed to let American voices be heard via the moveon web site about what needs to change.
According to moveon.org, the American dream is under siege — tens of millions of willing workers can’t find jobs, millions of homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure and millions more are underwater. The movement to counteract this was born from the protests in Wisconsin, as Americans stand up to attacks on the middle class.
Meeting organizer Aileen Eilert said she has been involved with moveon.org since her nephew was killed in Iraq in 2006 while serving in the Army.
“It was really sad that he ended up dying, and for what? I wanted a way to end this war, so I started volunteering with moveon. The more attention I paid, the worse it seemed to get,” she said.
Eilert said she believes Medicare must be provided for everyone in the future if the country is expected to thrive. She herself has been struggling with health insurance bills since she developed arthritis in her hands while on the job.
“One thing that has to happen is Medicare must be provided for all. There will be too many people who need it that can’t afford it in the future. If everyone has health insurance, companies will be willing to hire people more, and people can work for themselves as well,” she said.
Judy Bloom of Woodridge said she’s worried about her and her family’s employment future. She was laid off from her nursing home job three weeks after her husband recently lost his job and is concerned about retirement. Her son also lost his carpentry job after his company downsized from 250 carpenters down to only five.
“It really changes your whole view about retirement. You have all these plans about what to do with your time and money, and losing your job just shifts priorities for you,” said Bloom.
Eilert said the main message she wants to get out is that people need to know where their vote is going.
“The message I want to deliver is, votes are still more important than money in politics. It’s important to know exactly where the campaign money is coming from,” she said.

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

HFC fundraiser has a new home in Yorkville


HFC fundraiser
Jennifer Rice photo
Current and retired union members pose with the Legacy Girls and include, from left, Nicholas Bauler, retired 501 member; Scott Roscoe, president of the Fox Valley Building Trades and assistant business director of 501; Kevin Kuhn, current 501 member; Kent Catich, retired 461 member; Dick Kuhn, who hires 501 members and Herschel Luckinbill, retired 501 member.


By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor

YORKVILLE – Last Friday’s Honor Flight Chicago (HFC) fundraiser had wonderful guest speakers like 2011 Miss Illinois and Connie Payton, wife of the late Walter Payton — but the real stars of the night were our American veterans.
With more than 1,500 World War II veterans on the HFC waiting list, every fundraiser brings the organization one step closer to flying our WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial built in their honor.
“This is just an amazing night,” said HFC President Mary Pettinato, who came for the festivities July 15 at the Kendall County Fairgrounds, the new home for HFC’s fundraisers.
The Kendall County Salute to Veterans Committee sponsored the event, feeding every veteran and active duty military who attended, a free steak dinner. There were entertained by the Legacy Girls.
Last year, the event fed 193 veterans and raised more than $24,000. This year’s event is on track to beat those numbers. “I know we fed well over 200 veterans this year,” said Herschel Luckinbill, member of the Kendall County Salute to Veterans Committee.
“It was just a great night all around,” he added.
Luckinbill tried to thank everyone who donated to the cause. “It doesn’t matter if it’s just $2 that you reached down into your pocket to get. It means just as much as the big corporate dollars. Every dollar means the world to us,” he explained.
Commander of the Roosevelt-American American Legion Post 84, Norris “Doc” Erickson present Luckinbill with a $1,000 donation. Post 84 was the same veteran organization that kept Aurora’s 4th of July parade a reality. It took over responsibility of raising funds for the parade after the city dropped it from its budget. Arnie Bitterman, with the Kendall Kane County 40/8 Voyager 592 also donated $1,000.
During dinner, 2011 Miss Illinois winner Hannah Smith of Huntley spoke to the veterans, their families and guests, expressing what an honor it was for her to spend an evening with true, American heroes.
“It’s wonderful that through events like this, our WWII veterans are able to travel to Washington, D.C.,” Smith said.
HFC is a non-profit organization that flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Memorial. For many veterans, ailing health, cost and limited mobility make it impossible to fly and visit the memorial.
HFC covers the cost of the trip and accommodates every need a veteran has. On average, it costs $500 per veteran, per trip. That is the reason HFC fundraisers are so important.
Special guest Connie Payton, wife of the late Walter Payton, said every veteran in the room epitomizes the meaning of ‘courage to succeed.’
“We owe all of you a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. You embody the saying, ‘Tough times don’t last, tough men do,’ by executing the true meaning of teamwork,” she added.
Though she said she would not pretend to understand what any veteran has endured, she knows that through their unselfish commitment as young boys sent to defend our country, they were modeled into American soldiers and men overnight.
“Those we are honoring tonight are those that have gone beyond us, and they are considered role models,” Payton explained.
She couldn not begin to understand the heart-wrenching decision to separate yourself from your family. “It has to be hard to leave your home and family in a time of war. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t know,” she said, as she looked over the crowd of seated veterans.
“You all know, better than anyone.”
Currently, it costs about $55,000 for one Honor Flight, which brings about 95 veterans to Washington, D.C. You can help reach as many Chicagoland veterans as possible with a donation to HFC. One hundred percent of donations goes directly to fund its operation and all staff is volunteers.

Jennifer Rice’s e-mail address is Jen@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Iaccino remembered as a great man

John Brining
Pat Barcas photo
John Brining, executive director of CISCO, tees off at the first hole of Bloomingdale Golf Club July 15. About 150 labor leaders gathered for the DuPage County Building and Construction Trades Council’s 53rd annual golf outing. This year it was dedicated to George Iaccino, who passed away in December 2010. Golfers got their pictures taken by a life-size cutout of Iaccino before teeing off.

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

BLOOMINGDALE — By watching the people amble up to the first tee at Bloomingdale Golf Club July 15, you got the idea that George Iaccino was the type of guy that loved to laugh, and the type of guy that everyone loved to laugh with.
There was a cardboard cutout of Iaccino placed by the tee, and everyone greeted it as if their old friend was there in spirit: “Georgie, good to see you. Georgie, how ya been, Georgie? You look taller than usual,” were all heard.
Iaccino died in December 2010 after battling pancreatic cancer. This year, the DuPage County Building and Construction Trades Council held their 53rd annual golf outing in his honor. Iaccino served as an election judge and an organizer for the council, organizing the Old Timers Dinner, Christmas Poinsettias to the Widows, and the Heartland Blood Drives.
Frank Furco, financial secretary/treasurer for the DCBCT, organized the golf outing, which attracted 144 golfers. All proceeds from the fundraiser went to the People’s Resource Center in Wheaton.
Furco worked with Iaccino for more than a decade.
“George was the epitome of what you would call a business agent. He just kept that jarhead mentality,” said Furco. “On the other side of it, he was a great friend. I couldn’t tell you all the nice things about him. I am what I am today because of him, and a lot of the success in the labor movement today is due to him.”
Iaccino lived in Wheaton and served in the United States Marine Corps from 1962 to 1966. He attained the rank of Sergeant E5. He was a journeyman wireman and member of IBEW local 701 starting in 1971, where he eventually served as Assistant Business Manager.
Gary Czyz succeeded Iaccino as Assistant Business Manager at IBEW local 701.
“George took me under his wing and trained me. He was a great guy, and when it came to business, he didn’t fool around,” he said. “He was well liked, not just in Local 701, but all the other trades. He was the main driving force in getting all the other trades together. He was a great problem solver.”
Iacinno became the chairman of the golf committee over the years. This was the first year that he did not attend the outing since he was chairman.
Gary Niederkorn, president of IBEW Local 134, said he misses Iacinno for his sense of humor.
“He was just a wonderful human being, and a kind person. He was the funniest guy I’ve ever met, and there was not a time I was with him that I didn’t laugh. It’s great that they are dedicating the outing this year to him,” he said.

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Triathalons = wimpy: Tough Mudders are for beasts

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor

I don’t sport a barbed wire tattoo or eat raw eggs for breakfast, but this weekend, I’ll pretend I do.
I’m competing, along with my fiance, in the Tough Mudder, a 10-mile obstacle course set on a ski hill in Wisconsin, known as the toughest event on the planet. You start at the bottom of the ski hill, work your way up, across, then down. It’s an extreme endurance race that will push every participant to the limit, you’re race number is written on your forehead in black Magic Marker.
There are 20-25 obstacles that are either natural or man-made. There is smoke and flames, open water, high-voltage wires hanging over a puddle of water, constrictor tubes to crawl through, monkey bars and 12-foot high walls to scale. And mud. Lots and lots of mud.
I first heard of the Tough Mudder this spring and though it may sound like a crappy way to spend a Saturday, we can’t wait to compete. To appreciate the full effect of the Tough Mudder, we’re dressing up in costumes — as Native Americans.
There is no major award at the end. Instead, you get free beer and a neon-orange sweatband, straight out of an Olivia Newton-John “Physical” video. It’s mandatory to sport the sweatband at work on Monday. You know, to let every one know what a Tough Mudder you really are.
The event is not timed. Instead, it’s a course all about teamwork, true grit and mental determination. On most obstacles, you need help from fellow mudders.
What I also like about the Tough Mudder is it’s partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps wounded servicemen and women. To date, Tough Mudder participants have raised more than $1.3 million.
Wounded vets also compete in this race. Pictures on Tough Mudder’s website show vets with missing legs or arms, still competing, still giving it all they have and not giving up. They may be physically challenged but they embody the Tough Mudder spirit, which is: To understand this is not a race but a challenge; to put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time; do not whine – kids whine; help my fellow Mudders complete the course and overcome all fears.
I’ve been glued to the TV set for the Discovery Channel’s “Surviving the Cut,” which takes viewers into the intense world of military elite forces training. This show has become part of my CliffsNotes training for the Tough Mudder. For me, this is how I envision the Tough Mudder will be. Deep down, I know they are nothing alike. Elite military training is far more extreme than a Tough Mudder, but it’s all I’ve got.
Our Tough Mudder training consists of three days a week at boot camp, running and weight training. At a local grade school I found monkey bars to practice on. I got across 12 of them before I felt a blister break on my left palm. I opted for no gloves because the ones I was going to use kept slipping. For the past week I’ve been trying to get my hand to heal.
I’ve competed in other mud runs, some with obstacles, some without. I’ve run through mud at night, completed a marathon, played five games of softball in a row and walked 60 miles in three days.
But I don’t think anything will prepare me for what awaits me this weekend at the Tough Mudder. But that’s what I’m looking forward to, and I can’t wait.

Jennifer Rice’s e-mail address is Jen@foxvalleylabornews.com.

The Stars and Stripes will forever burn on


Flag burning ceremony
Jennifer Rice photo
Veterans, from left, Al Cinto, Amos Nicholson, Don Thompson and Rick Williams together lay the blue and stars section of the American flag onto the flames.


By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor

MONTGOMERY – Several area veterans participated in a flag-burning ceremony after a bi-monthly veteran’s breakfast. For most veterans, this was the first flag-burning ceremony they had seen or participated in.
Members of the Fox Valley Veteran’s Breakfast Club meet July 7 at Grandma’s Table in Montgomery for breakfast and friendship and then afterwards, breakfast club organizer, Herschel Luckinbill arranged the flag-burning ceremony.
“It just makes my heart sing to see all the veterans here today,” Luckinbill said prior to the ceremony. “For several weeks, we’ve been gathering tattered, worn or faded American flags for the ceremony,” he explained.
There were enough American flags for every veteran to retire a flag.
Also present for the ceremony was Aurora’s Third Ward Alderman Stephanie Kifowit and State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, as well as representatives from Alden of Waterford.
As the veterans and guests took their seats in the lot behind Grandma’s Table, members of the Fox Valley Marine Detachment #1233 and Yorkville American Legion, as well as veteran volunteers presented colors.
Luckinbill presided over the ceremony. “I put the ceremony together with information I gathered from Internet searches, American Legion searches and then, just things I liked,” he explained.
The ceremony was inspiring as much as it was educational.
The blue section with stars was first cut from the American flag, and then each 13 red and white stripes were cut, with help from veterans who held the flag. Luckinbill asked different veterans to take a strip and place it on the fire. Every red and white stripe represents the original 13 colonies.
As each one burned separately, historical information of each colony was read, starting with Virginia and ending with Georgia.
Retired Navy veteran Don Thompson said he’d never seen a flag-burning ceremony. “It’s quite impressive,” he said.
The red stripes symbolize the blood spilled in defense of the glorious nation while the white stripes symbolize the purity that is in all our hearts and the honor deep inside our soul. The blue and stars symbolize valor and courage that binds our fifty states together.
With the large number of American flags that needed to be discarded, veterans were able to retire multiple flags, which were dedicated to lost comrades. Retired Army veteran Elmer Fick dedicated such a flag to the friends that did not return home from the Korean War.
The ashes were later scattered on veteran graves at Lincoln Memorial Park in Aurora.

Jennifer Rice’s e-mail address is Jen@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Illinois State Supreme Court upholds Capital Bill

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

Business as usual will continue for Illinois state workers, as the Illinois State Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold the $31B Illinois Jobs Now! Capital Bill.
The 2009 construction bill, made to create jobs and end the statewide recession, was under fire by Chicago Blackhawks owner and liquor distributor Rocky Wirtz, who said the bill was unconstitutional because it didn’t have one single subject in a single piece of legislation. An appelate court ruled in January that the bill violated a clause of the state Constitution that requires legislation be “confined to one subject.”
But all seven justices of the State Supreme Court ruled that all parts of the law do involve only the construction program, either by funding it or using parts of it. The other parts of the bill raised liquor and candy taxes, raised vehicle weight limits, and legalized video gambling.
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court brings a sigh of relief for working men and women in Illinois. The possibility of a work interruption has been hanging like a black cloud over the families who are depending on these jobs, so this is very good news,” said International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 President-Business Manager James M. Sweeney. “This job-creating program is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands in Illinois, and its importance is further signified by the bipartisan support it received when it was passed.”
Justice Anne Burke wrote that “capital projects” are a “legitimate single subject.” She wrote in her decision that the rest of the bill’s provisions have a “natural and logical connection to that subject.”
The increase in liquor tax breakdown is as follows: an extra 2.6 cents on a six-pack of beer, 13 cents on a bottle of wine and 81 cents on a fifth of hard liquor.

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

AFSCME rallies against freeze of pay increase

AFSCME rallies in Aurora
Pat Barcas photo
Upset and disappointed by Gov. Quinn’s recent announcement to deny 2 percent raises to AFSCME members, union members take to the streets to protest.

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) organized protests throughout the state Tuesday voicing their disapproval of a July 1 decision by Gov. Pat Quinn that aims to cancel raises for state employees.
The governor’s office notified 14 state agencies and employee unions that the 2 percent pay increase, as stipulated in the contract, will not be fulfilled this year because there is not enough money in the state budget.
“We just want to be clear: We are very angry, and very disappointed. We thought he had more regard for organized labor,” said Ruby Robinson, president of AFSCME Local 2833. Robinson led the protest of about 50 people at the corner of Lake Street and Indian Trail Road in Aurora. “We are angry at the way he’s going about this. Political leaders need to know, their constituents aren’t stupid. We just want it to be fair, we’re making concessions, it’s time for concessions to come from their end, including Gov. Quinn and his workers.”
According to Quinn’s office, cancelling the raises would affect about 30,000 state workers and shave $75 million off the state budget.
Ade Alagbala represents AFSCME Council 31 and calls these actions by Quinn illegal.
“The way we see it, what he’s doing is simply union busting, and that’s illegal. We are out here telling the governor, we hope you do the right thing and raise the pay. Step up to the plate, we’ve done our part, deferring pay raises and taking furlough days, if the governor can’t do this, it means his word doesn’t mean anything,” said Alagbala.
According to Quinn’s office, the agencies that can’t pay the raises are Human Services, Natural Resources, Corrections, and Public Health.
John Laesch has been a carpenter since 2005 and belong to Carpenters Local 195. He heard about the Aurora protest last minute and came out to stand up for workers’ rights.
“Time and again, the middle class is taking it on the chin, and the rich get richer,” he said. “There’s a disconnect between what happens in Springfield and what happens here. I just feel like any contract negotiation goes to the rich, whether it be health care, or paying for gas. That’s not fair.”
Matt Carl of Aurora saw the picket line as he was driving by and decided to stop and join in.
“I was driving by, and I saw some people doing what needs to be done. People need to be paying attention all the time, not just two weeks before and election,” he said. “If we don’t get active, it’s going to get worse.”
Carl said he’s disgusted at the way corporations are getting rich while the middle class languishes.
“The whole bottom line is, corporations make their money off the backs of the middle class, and they don’t want to give anything back,” he said.
AFSCME has filed a federal lawsuit against Quinn and the state of Illinois as a result of the pay freeze affecting some 30,000 workers. The union has also begun arbitration proceedings to get the contractual pay raises paid out. Briefs for the proceedings are due to the arbitrator on July 18.

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.