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Illinois Tollway Regional Mobility Survey

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 8.37.26 AMThe Illinois Tollway is offering I-PASS customers in the Kane County region an opportunity to provide input on a Kane County project to improve regional mobility through the development of the Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor improvement. The Longmeadow Parkway project is designed to alleviate traffic congestion in northern Kane County and relieve pressure on the existing bridges crossing the Fox River. While the Illinois Tollway is not directly involved in the development of the improvement, we are hoping that our I-PASS customers can provide valuable feedback regarding their travel habits and preferences.

The Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor improvement is 5.6 miles in length and includes a new four-lane Fox River Bridge crossing and four-lane roadway with a median that passes through portions of the Villages of Algonquin, Carpentersville and Barrington Hills, as well as unincorporated areas of Kane County.

For completing the survey, Kane County’s consultant is offering entry into a drawing to win a $500 check card.

Take the survey here.

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Tonight’s Board of Trustees meeting will be the first official meeting for the village’s new engineering firm, Trotter & Associates.  We look forward to seeing their approach to municipal engineering and we hope that taxpayers will benefit from lowered costs and fresh ideas.

GHAWhile researching future content for the Observer, we stumbled across some interesting correspondence regarding Barrington Hills Farm (BHFW LLC) and our village’s former engineering firm, Gewalt Hamilton.  What we found is shocking, but it certainly makes the Village’s decision last year to change engineering companies very wise indeed.

According to documents found on McHenry County’s website, in December 2015, BHFW’s Chairman J. R. Davis was applying to McHenry County to convert part of an existing wetland on the property into a recreational pond.  As a result, some mitigation of the wetlands was necessary.  The specifics of the mitigation and request for credits from the Wetland Restoration Fund are not important.

What is important is the engineering firm that BHFW had hired to create their Wetland Mitigation Plan was Gewalt Hamilton.  And not just Gewalt Hamilton, but Dan Strahan himself , who was Barrington Hills’ Village Engineer at the time, was personally involved in the project.

Strahan is cc’ed on the Gewalt Hamilton letter to McHenry County on behalf of BHFW and Strahan’s signature even appears with Davis’ signature on the Wetland Restoration Fund application as the Design Engineer.



To be clear, this was a project undertaken by a private property owner in unincorporated McHenry County immediately adjacent to the Village, and Strahan and Gewalt Hamilton were hired by that individual.  All at the same time when Strahan and Gewalt Hamilton were also employed by the Village of Barrington Hills.

We find it shocking that Gewalt Hamilton and Dan Strahan did not decline employment by BHFW & Mr. Davis in 2015, seeing as the firm had been serving Barrington Hills for decades.  Gewalt Hamilton & Strahan were well aware of the history of the Davis property, and in all likelihood would be called up by the Village to consult on the property in the future. It would be bad enough for any engineer employed by Gewalt Hamilton to have taken this job, let alone Dan Strahan.

Not surprisingly, Strahan indeed did end up personally involved in discussions on behalf of the Village regarding new driveways and dedicated easements and right-of ways for the proposed HARPS facility on BHFW property in 2016 & 2017.  It certainly gives us pause to wonder about the quality of the service the village and taxpayers received on that assignment.

Did Strahan and Gewalt ever divulge to the Village of Barrington Hills that they had been previously employed by Davis?

How could Strahan and Gewalt maintain any impartiality when they had been paid by both the Village and Davis?

Are there other projects that Gewalt has worked on for Davis and BHFW?

Did Strahan and Gewalt ever divulge this conflict of interest while they were applying for retention as the Village’s engineering firm?

Right now, we have more questions than answers.  We’ll leave it to our readers to draw their own conclusions.  We think the documents speak for themselves.

Click on the following links to  view the complete PDFs of the documents BHFarm_Gewalt_Wetland_1 and BHFarm_Gewalt_Wetland_2.

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As the Observer looks back at another year gone by, we thought we’d take the opportunity to point out some people and issues that made an impact in Barrington Hills news, whether it was good, bad or just plain phony.

ThumbsUpPresident Martin McLaughlin and Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan were re-elected for their second terms in April 2017. We applaud their excellent service to our village and appreciate the personal sacrifices that they have made to keep Barrington Hills the special place that it is . conicek-300x200@2x

ThumbsUpMcLaughlin continued his astounding record of financial stewardship. Having analyzed every aspect of village spending for the last five years, Marty has surgically excised waste and improved efficiencies in the village budget. Since 2013, the tax levy has been reduced by 20%, 20% more road miles have been paved per year, and cash reserves have increased by 40%.McLaughlin-300x200@2x

ThumbsUpSince McLaughlin took office, every administrative employee at Village Hall has changed. In prior years, Barrington Hills hired a new Village Attorney and Treasurer, and, due to the retirement of Chief Michael Murphy, Rich Semelsberger became Police Chief. In 2017 alone, a new Building Permit Coordinator, new Engineering Firm, Clerk and a new acting Director of Administration were hired.

ThumbsDownTwo candidates from the “Your Barrington Hills” slate narrowly won election to the Board of Trustees. Paula Jacobsen and Robert Zubak ran on a platform of unfounded and disproven complaints about village governance, and promised to do more to: 1) protect open spaces and property rights, 2)produce better results for our tax dollars, 3) restore public safety and security which they alleged had been sacrificed, and 4) improve transparency and information distribution. More than eight months have passed since the duo were sworn into office, and nary a mention has been made of any of these so-called initiatives. And, not surprisingly, neither trustee has presented their new ideas for those better results for our tax dollars.  This confirms our belief that their sole reason for running for office was to attempt to change the current commercial horse boarding protections.

Paula Jacobsen Robert ZubakJacobsen and Zubak also made campaign promises to vigorously challenge the Plum Farm land development in Hoffman Estates, falsely accusing McLaughlin and Konicek of doing nothing to oppose the project. Yet Jacobsen and Zubak have not even aired the Plum Farm issue during a board meeting.

ThumbsUp For the first time in many years, the Riding Club of Barrington Hills did not officially involve itself in the village election. Despite pressure from some of the Club’s most strident and vocal members, club president Jane Clement declined to make an political endorsement to the RCBH membership. We commend her for that. Politics and non-profit social clubs shouldn’t mix.

ThumbsUpThe 2017 hiring of Nikki Panos as part-time Building Department permit coordinator was a breath of fresh air. Panos brought competence and professionalism to the office whose previous occupant was frequently brusque and unkempt. We congratulate Panos’ promotion to Village Clerk and are confident that residents will be well served by her.


Nikki Panos, Village Clerk

ThumbsUpThe wave of change at Village Hall continued with the engagement of a new engineering firm – Trotter & Associates – replacing Gewalt Hamilton. Gewalt Hamilton had served the Village for decades, but without review or evaluation. We look forward to the fresh perspective that Trotter will provide and hope that residents will receive better service at a lower cost.

ThumbsDownIn the spring of 2017, the owners of Barrington Hills Farm (whose 600+acres is now located almost entirely OUTSIDE the borders of Barrington Hills) flouted village laws when they demolished a home, engaged in major earth-moving, cut down numerous trees without adhering to the Tree Preservation Ordinance, and failed to obtain proper permits prior to engaging in the project. When the activity on this property (formerly owned by the recently deceased Barbara MacArthur) was finally discovered by the Village, two stop work order signs were posted by the village inspector, and both signs mysteriously disappeared. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done, and all the village could do was collect the permit fees and penalties months after the fact.

ThumbsDownApparently feeling slighted by having to follow the Village Code as all other residents and property owners have to do, the Barrington Hills Farm L.L.C. ownership demanded disconnection of the property in question into unincorporated McHenry County, a request that was granted by the Board of Trustees.

jokerSpeaking of Barrington Hills Farm, whatever happened to the HARPS facility they had planned near the intersection of Church and Chapel Roads, immediately adjacent to Barrington Hills homes on Alderberry Lane? It’s been over two years since representatives of the L.L.C. presented plans to both the village and McHenry County, and after all the hullabaloo they created over necessary curb cuts for the proposed driveway entrances and the nonsense over granting easements and rights-of-way, the corner remains undeveloped. There is no new information about the facility on the HARPS website either. Strange, isn’t it?


Trustee Brian Cecola continued his excellent management of the Village’s Roads and Bridges.  He is completely engaged in his position, interfacing well with residents, village engineering firm and his fellow board members.  Miles of road paving per year are up, and Cecola is looking to increase that benchmark in the coming years.  Congratulations for a job well done!


Trustee Brian Cecola

ThumbsUp 2017 brought the long-overdue retirement of Village Administrator Bob Kosin. His 35 years of service to Barrington Hills is much appreciated, but Kosin had long since ceased serving the residents efficiently, and was increasingly difficult to work with. His convoluted explanations and arcane knowledge of village history may have been interesting in the past, but residents and commission members no longer found his digressions amusing or beneficial.


We are hopeful about the appointment of Anna Paul (previously Village Clerk) as acting Administrator. While the search for a permanent administrator may continue, the Observer has been pleased to watch Paul’s progression through the ranks of village administration. She offers a familiarity with VBH operations that no outside candidate with years of lead experience can match. Her organization and communication skills are outstanding, and despite her relative youth, she is steady, impartial and poised in any situation. We wish Anna Paul well in her new assignment.

jokerThe Observer usually doesn’t comment on state or federal races, but we feel compelled to comment on the unlikely candidacy of resident Kelly Mazeski in the Democratic Congressional primary in IL-06. Mazeski, whose recent civic resume consists of only of membership on the village’s Plan Commission, previously ran unsuccessfully for Village Board in 2013, and unsuccessfully for State Senate in 2016. Her campaign’s PR machine has been busy at work, trying to repackage her from the “financial expert” she called herself in 2016, now calling herself “mom/scientist/cancer survivor”. What’s next – butcher/baker/candlestick maker?

jokerSpeaking of Kelly Mazeski, it seems as though she’s been grasping for endorsements, trotting out support from “environmentalists” Karen Rosene and Karen Selman, as well as a big thumbs up from former trustee Mikey Harrington. Now that’s a lot to be proud of, isn’t it?

jokerAlthough he opted not to run for re-election as trustee, the specter of Fritz Gohl continues to loom over the village. Gohl, now receiving financial compensation as a Barrington Township trustee, still can claim his title of village buffoon. His frequent public comments during Board of Trustees meetings are no more logical or coherent now than they were during his tenure on the board.

ThumbsDownChuck Stewart, Village Arborist, is the last of the Kosin-era hold-overs. In appearances in front of village commissions and the BOT, Stewart communicates poorly and comes across as disorganized. The Observer is also concerned about the questionable judgment he demonstrated in enforcing the Tree Preservation Ordinance both in the Hasan case and in the aforementioned Barrington Hills Farm matter. Those faults, combined with an undisclosed potential conflict of interest (Stewart rents office space in a building owned by one of the members of the board of Barrington Hills Farm), makes him a poor choice to continue in the role of Village Arborist. The Village needs a tree expert who can communicate clearly with residents and builders, as well as with Village administration.

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From a Kane County Department of Transportation press release:

longmeadow-pkwy-2016-tree-removal-e-of-il-25-to-il-62-loc-mapThe next stage of right-of-way work for the Longmeadow Parkway Corridor will take place in Barrington Hills, starting next week.

On Jan. 22, 2018, weather permitting, right-of-way preparation and tree removal will begin along the Longmeadow Parkway Corridor from east of IL Route 25 to IL Route 62 and along IL Route 62 in the village of Barrington Hills.

During the work, there may be temporary single-lane closures with flaggers directing traffic. Construction work hours will be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The work is anticipated to take two weeks to complete.

Right-of-way preparation is being done in advance of the roadway improvements that will start in spring 2018.

The above-mentioned roads will remain open during treatment, but may be reduced to one lane of travel using temporary daily lane closures.

Motorists need to be prepared to reduce their speed, exercise caution and be extra alert. Watch for and obey flaggers and other traffic control devices within the work zone.

Drivers should expect delays while traveling through the work areas. You may want to add additional time to your commute and consider the use of alternate routes while this work is being completed.

KDOT officials remind drivers that it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving through a highway construction work zone.

Questions and concerns may be directed to Patrick VerHalen at 630-208-3138. For all Kane County traffic advisories, see the KDOT Traffic Alerts page on the KDOT website.

SOURCE: KDOT news release

The entire press release can be read on the Kane County website here.

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AnnaPaulAnna Paul has stepped into the top administrative post at Barrington Hills village hall as a result of a longtime official’s retirement.

Paul, who had been village clerk and communications chief, is working as acting director of administration. Her appointment became official Jan. 1.

Robert Kosin, whose retirement became effective Jan. 1, was lauded by the village board for 35 years of service to Barrington Hills. He started as planning and zoning coordinator in 1982 and was named to the top position of director of administration in 1986.

…Paul, who will be paid at the rate of $88,000 a year as acting director of administration, said she’s knowledgeable about Barrington Hills’ internal workings and worked closely with Kosin.

“During this time, I gained the understanding and insight of the administrator’s role in running the village,” she said. “I enjoy working with residents and elected (and) appointed officials to better the community. I am excited to be able to continue serving the village and for the opportunity to have a greater role moving forward.”

Paul said she plans to continue making village operations more efficient while helping elected officials reduce the budget.

“My first goal is to reduce redundancies and continue modernizing operations,” she said.

Nikki Panos was appointed to replace Paul as village clerk. Panos will receive a $35,000 annual salary.

You can read the full story in the Daily Herald here.

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We are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2017 Shining Star Award — Barrington Hills Police Chief Richard Semelsberger. Chief Semelsberger epitomizes the very best in a public safety professional, and the residents of our village are very fortunate to have such a dedicated individual at the helm of our Police Department.


Chief Semelsberger is well-known to many in the community, having started as a patrolman in 1989, and rising through the ranks over the last 28 years.  Having worked under four of the nine previous village chiefs of police, Rich became Deputy Chief in 2011, eventually becoming Chief of Police in March 2015, after the retirement of Chief Michael Murphy.

He is respected and well-liked by officers in his department, and works easily with our elected officials, village hall staff, and attorneys.  A familiar face to many, Rich is in attendance at each annual Hills Are Alive Heritage Fest, where he can be seen engaged in friendly conversation with village residents.

Over the years, Semelsberger has continually impressed us with his vast knowledge of the department’s operating budget during Board of Trustee meetings, always having the appropriate facts and figures when questioned by board members.  But what has been the most striking recently has been his active participation in many other discussions during Board Meetings.  Whether the topic was the somewhat controversial outsourcing of our 911 Dispatch services to QuadCom, or the purchase of a new phone system for the Village Hall, it was obvious that Semelsberger had studied the issues very carefully and had an intimate understanding of all of the pros and cons.

The Chief’s low-key yet highly effective style was most notably on display in early 2017 when he set the record straight on the many of facts surrounding the village’s CTY alert system, police staffing levels, and the false accusations of discontinuation of the police non-emergency number.  These issues had been raised during the months leading up to the April 2017 Election by the “Your Barrington Hills” slate and their supporters.  Despite the highly political atmosphere that had been created, Semelsberger calmly and clearly refuted the unfounded allegations one-by-one in a decidedly nonpartisan and straightforward manner that left little doubt what the facts were.  See these Observer articles for more detail: All the world’s a stageApril 24th Board meeting recordings released, and Regime revived?

Our village is indeed lucky to have such a fine man as Richard Semelsberger fully committed to serving and protecting our homes and families.  We commend the Chief for his leadership of our award-winning Police Department, and for making our community safe each and every day.  Thank you from the residents and from all of us at the Observer!

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Kosin After 30 years, Robert Kosin is retiring as the village administrator for Barrington Hills.

Before overseeing the day-to-day operations at Barrington Hills Village Hall, Kosin spent five years as the village’s planning and zoning coordinator. His last day at Barrington Hills is Dec. 31.

Kosin recently talked with Pioneer Press about his career as a public official in local government.

The entire Barrington Courier Review article can be read here.

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