Monthly Matters
Posted on October 30, 2023 6:00 AM by Wayne Helgeson
Lessons pertaining to the Arbor Grove HOA:
1.  First and foremost, let’s never have a fire!
2.  Have in-depth knowledge as to how your unit was originally built (specifically, which options were taken).                 These are necessary to ensure the unit is built back to its original design. Some examples:
a.     Was there a walk-up attic?
b.     Did the unit have a fireplace, and if so, what type?
c.      Was there a patio, and if so, how big, and what amenities (fence)?
d.     What additional options were taken pertaining to the actual building (additional electrical outlets,                fireplace hearth, modifications to walls, etc.?
3.  We were fortunate to have several extremely knowledgeable craftsmen and industry professionals here in Arbor Grove who were instrumental in assuring the building was rebuilt according to prevailing regulations and codes.  Those who provided technical oversight were Rich Allers, Rick Balthazar, Barry Gadbois, and Mike Magruder.  We owe them a debt of gratitude for their efforts and expertise. In the future, we will need to have someone closely monitor the General Contractor and subs to ensure the building is rebuilt according to Arbor Grove requirements.  Experience is a great teacher. Arbor Grove HOA is responsible for a rebuild.  General Contractor questions must be directed only to whomever the Board decides will oversee the project.
4.  We (Arbor Grove HOA) will need to be more proactive on issues resulting from the fire. For example, we made arrangements with Logan (our snow removal contractor) to clear debris from the driveways ourselves and charged it directly to the insurance company.  If the General Contractor had handled this transaction, there would have been an additional 20% mark-up to the cost!
5. When the electrical wiring for the unit was completed, the wires were not connected to anything, and there was no way to test them to ensure that they were correctly installed.  The General Contractor said that they didn’t put the circuit breakers in and connect the wires as that would have left “live” wires that were not terminated at the user end (no appliances or electrical devices were installed, as that is the unit owner's responsibility).  In this instance, we should have required them to terminate the wires to the circuit breakers and not connect the live feeds.  This would have meant the circuit panel could have been labeled, and the wiring could have been tested. Again, experience is a great teacher.  
Lessons pertaining to the residents:
1.    Fire Safety is Critical! Our common goal is to never, ever have a fire!
2.     Our requirement that each resident have at least $500 thousand dollars in liability insurance is probably not enough!  In this example, the fire started in one unit, but all four units were damaged.  If the insurance companies, when finalizing the claim, assess the cost of damages to one unit only, a claim will most likely exceed $500,000.  Then, you are potentially looking at personal responsibility above and beyond your insurance coverage. The board is well aware of what has been spent thus far, and $500,000 will most likely not be adequate. Residents should consider reviewing the amount of liability insurance they have to ensure they are covered for such catastrophic events.
3.     “Loss of Use” on residential insurance policies should be reviewed with your insurance agent to determine whether you have sufficient funding to afford accommodations while out of your unit.  In this case, one unit was not occupied for at least three months.  It was a bit of a shock to see how long it took for smoke mitigation on the adjoining units.  One unit had minimal exposure as it was furthest from the fire.  One unit had considerable smoke exposure that required a lengthy time to mitigate.  The third unit had additional issues as the fire spread to the roof of this unit.  There was significant water damage to the master bedroom, resulting in what essentially is a complete remodel of the room as well as all the smoke mitigation issues.
4.     “Loss Assessment”.  The amount you have on your insurance policy for Loss Assessment essentially applies only to insured instances.  An example would be if we were hit with a tornado and had to replace the roofs on all or most of the buildings; if our insurance coverage were not sufficient to cover it all, we would have to apply an assessment to all residents and your loss assessment would come into play.  It would also apply when you have a fire, and we had to rebuild your unit.  While we have sufficient insurance to cover the event, we have a deductible of $2500.00, which we would assess to you (not everyone).  Again, you could recover this from your loss assessment if you have enough.  To clarify, if the HOA decided that we wanted a larger swimming pool and decided to go ahead and build it by assessing each unit (this would require a vote of all residents, with 67% being in favor), your loss assessment would not cover such an event.
5.     Fire extinguisher.  Each unit should consider acquiring at least one fire extinguisher and keep it where it can be easily accessed.  Should a fire break out in your unit, a proper fire extinguisher is essential, and using just water to extinguish a fire where electric devices are located can result in disastrous issues.  Check out online what happens if you throw water on a candle fire. It’s crazy. Our most recent fire may have been an instance of electricity and water.
6.     If you have a fire, call 911 and let them know you’ve had a fire. Ask them to come and check things out. The firefighters are happy to come to your home and make a safety determination. They would much rather do that than come back to fight an active fire.
7.     Open windows will create drafts that feed a fire if you have a fire in your unit and can safely take time to close doors and windows – again, stressing if it is safe only.  If you have an active fire and need to escape, your life is most important! When you are away and travel, close your interior doors; again, it helps as far as containing a fire.
8.     Knox boxes.  While this was not an issue in this fire, everyone should consider having a Knox box installed by the Bourbonnais Fire Protection District.  This applies especially if you live alone or are away from your unit for any time.  Unfortunately, we have had a recent experience where Bourbonnais Police and Fire had to break into a unit with no Knox box for a well check. Installing a Knox box is a safe means of ensuring the fire department can access your unit in an emergency.  If you are interested in obtaining a Knox Box, you can contact the Bourbonnais Fire Department at 815/935-9670.
In summary, every resident is encouraged to speak with their insurance agent to determine if their insurance is sufficient.  Be aware that if your unit has any catastrophe, whether a fire, water pipe bursts or even an infestation of rodents or other critters, you can be held liable if it spreads to the other units.
Posted on September 25, 2023 6:00 AM by Jan Krizik-Schmidt
Note to Readers:  This article is lengthy, but for a great reason.  If we can prevent ourselves or one of our neighbors from being scammed, it’s worth the time to read thoroughly.  We hope you agree.
On Tuesday, September 12th, Nikki Tobenski and Ashley Ward of Iroquois Federal gave an informational presentation on scams, what they are, why they work, the different types of scams, warning signs to watch for, and how to build your defenses.
First, they defined a scam as a “trick” a con artist plays on an unsuspecting victim. Why? Well, of course to extort money! Con artists are very good at what they do, often offering a plausible, quite convincing story coupled with a tempting offer to persuade people to make choices leading to the con artist getting the victim’s money and/or identity.
One might ask, how do they find victims? There are a variety of ways.  Maybe your contact information was purchased, or they prowled your social media accounts, or quite sometimes, by infiltrating groups you belong to. They even have the nerve to go door-to-door, hoping to find a victim.
Scammers are highly skilled at their trade. They will appeal to emotions such as sympathy, fear, or loneliness. These scammers try to never take “no” for an answer. Most often, they insist on secrecy. The last thing they want you to do is check with your family members or your bank for advice or to confirm their story. They also count on vulnerable victims.
So, how do you protect yourself? It is important to know a scam when you see or hear one. Some of the more popular scams today fall in these categories.
Giveaways: winning a prize or lottery. These letters, emails, or calls often announce you’re a winner! It will require an immediate response and sometimes request payment upfront so that they can send your winnings. Another is a free vacation, but your free trip requires a monetary payment to make your reservation.
Sweetheart: I cannot tell you how many widowed surgeons who “love” my profile photo or post that they want to meet me on social media! They will often ask you to ‘friend” them because, for some reason, they cannot “friend” you. They target a population of those grateful for the attention. Make sure you have your social media accounts set up as “private!” If you don’t know how ask for help.  We have all asked for help here and there when it comes to computer technology.
Family Imposter: Someone will call and say, “Grandma” or “Grandpa,” “I need your help!” Personally, my family has a code word, which might be forgotten in a real emergency, but ask questions only your family will know. Remember, they’re very good at this. Call your family to check the validity of the call before acting. These callers never seem to want the police involved. That is a red flag! They’ll try to convince you it has to be your secret!
Government Imposter: This can be fake stories about a failure to show up for jury duty, back taxes, a Social Security or Medicare suspension pending your personal information verification. DO NOT use the number provided to make a call to check on this status. Look up the number yourself and make the call. They will often give you a 24-hour deadline to “make your payment,” often by purchasing gift cards, wire transfer, bankers check, or even cryptocurrency! Both Nikki and Ashley stated when you withdraw large sums of money from their bank, they will ask you what it is for…They are not trying to be nosey.  They want to be sure you are safe and not being taken advantage of by a scammer.  This practice alone has prevented scams from happening.  
Tech Support: These scams also come in many forms. Some begin with pop-up warnings with a fake message and a number to call. DO NOT call the number provided. If you think you have an issue, look up the number yourself to verify. It was recommended to shut down your computer ASAP if you suspect this scam to protect your accounts. Other scams of this nature begin with a phone call from Google, Apple, or Microsoft to get you to allow them remote access to your computer to “fix the problem.” DO NOT give remote access to your computer.
Again, shut down your computer quickly to protect your accounts. Their goal is to get your money and access your personal information.
Charities: While we all try to be generous to those in need, scammers use that compassion to get you to donate to their cause. Be mindful of who you donate to. Google the company make an informed decision. If the request is on social media, make sure it is not a fake request from a legit charity. If the Facebook page doesn’t have a lot of followers, pictures, etc., it may just be a ghost site mirroring a great charity. Remember, scammers will play on your sympathies to provide immediate support (financially) to myriad causes. Sometimes, they will ask on behalf of an actual charity; however, the money will never reach the intended cause.
Investment tips or deals: Let’s always remember. “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!” If these investments are touted as “risk-free” or “above average return,” that should send up a red flag. We have many ways to invest locally. Find someone you trust and forego anything that seems tempting. Ask friends for referrals to a licensed broker or registered investment adviser.
Contractor: These people will often solicit a job by pointing out an “urgent” problem. They will ask for up-front payment in cash. They may need money to buy the materials needed for your project. They might begin the job but claim it’s much more serious than initially thought; then of course, they will demand more money. Often, they disappear after the initial payment is made, or they will do a partial job, then disappear. These scams all have warning signs, immediate action, money up front, and insist on secrecy, such as, I‘m giving you a deal, but please don’t tell anyone else; I can’t do this for everyone. Keep in mind the Village of Bourbonnais requires contractors to be licensed and registered with the village.
Why Target Senior Citizens?  Senior citizens seem to be a target because we have a regular income, a lifetime of savings, a tendency to be more trusting and willing to listen to their spiel, and we are often eager to help one in need. So, be cautious or even rude if confronted with someone who communicates with you and wants personal information or your money. Make sure you say no or hang up if you begin to feel those red flags starting to go up.  
What Are Some Basic Protections?  Register your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry ( to limit calls; Limit junk mail by visiting; use anti-virus software on our computers; don’t answer surveys on social media that ask for information which may expose personal information a scammer can use to trick you; and be very, very careful when you click on a link, or open emails/directed messages.  Again, check your privacy settings on social media accounts and limit the information you provide.
One other suggestion made was to consider turning off your credit report with Transunion, Equifax, and Experian.  All three credit bureaus allow you to create an account and freeze your credit.  If someone pretends to borrow money as you, a credit report cannot be pulled, and you will be notified.  You can turn it back on if you ever need to. If you don’t want to do that, you can get your free credit report once a year.  This way, you can see if there are any accounts in your name you are unaware of. Just visit to request your report.
If you act quickly enough, you can divert the scam before you lose money. Call your bank and the police. If either is unaware of a new scam, it’s more difficult for them to help others prevent more victims from falling prey.
Know that if you are a victim of a scam, please don’t be embarrassed. Very smart, capable, and savvy people have been scammed. Maybe your story, if shared, can help someone else learn enough not to be taken.
Have you been scammed?  
Posted on August 28, 2023 6:00 AM by Sally Dorn
Our local firefighters were recently replacing batteries in our smoke alarms; we appreciate that! However, many of us discovered that our smoke alarm units are expiring, not just the battery. Soon, your ten-year-old smoke detector will begin that annoying chirp at 2 a.m. despite the brand new $4.49 Eveready. 
Things to know: All of our alarms are hard-wired, in sequence, to our homes per Code. Why? When one goes off, they ALL go off, meaning if the one in your garage goes off in the middle of the night, you may not hear it, but you most certainly will notice the one directly above your bed. The lesson: Do not be tempted to replace your Hard-Wired detector with a less expensive ‘Battery Only’ device. Very important: The fire chief has informed us that code now requires a 10-year Sealed battery in all household smoke detectors. They will not install a Non-Sealed, read your packaging. A couple of other things: Carbon monoxide detectors are required within 15 feet of every sleeping area, namely your bed; a combination Smoke/CO2 unit is a good option here. Of note: Wireless models are available; however, our local fire chief does NOT recommend them, as they have not been perfected; when there is an interruption in internet service, it may cause all your alarms to go off. (Not Comcast, surely!). 
Thanks for the information; now, how about some shopping tips for all the thrifty folk here in our Grove.
A little comparison shows Lowe's website listing The BRK First Alert-SC9120LBL Hard Wired Smoke & CO2 Alarm -10-year Sealed battery for $64.98, Ace for $49.99; Amazon has the same model for $44.75; further research discovered the exact same model at – that lists this model for $39.99 each. The 10-year battery backup Smoke ‘only’ unit retails for about $22.00 at both Lowes and
Of course, our local Girard Ace and Big Box stores carry similar detectors, and various brands are available. It has been discovered that many of these devices may be hard to find locally, but there are plenty available to order online, delivered to your door, or to your favorite local retailer. 
This article is intended only for comparison and to bring awareness to the age of our smoke-detecting devices and the variety of choices when considering replacement. And YES, indeed! Those cute Firemen will gladly do the
 installation at no charge.
FYI, these great folks will be having a Community Day on October 28th. The Bourbonnais Fire Protection District is celebrating 75 Years of serving the greater Bourbonnais area. They are planning a pancake breakfast, food trucks for lunch, demonstrations, trunk or treat for the kids, face painting, vendors, and more. 
Posted on March 27, 2023 6:00 AM by Lois Ware and Diedra Richards
Keepin’ it Real – Real Green That Is
From almost the exact moment Arbor Grove Homeowner’s Association was formed, neighbors stepped up to volunteer to help ensure our 22-acre community and the land surrounding our buildings are well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing.  The goal is healthy lawns, plants, shrubs, and trees – resulting in good curb appeal.
The original Landscaping Chairpersons were Sandy Davis and Lois Ware.  These two Master Gardeners rolled up their sleeves, pulled out their shovels, and wheelbarrows, and did an amazing job with a variety of neighbors volunteering here and there, including Wayne Tholen, who offered sage advice.
Over the years, our subdivision was completely built out with so much more to take care of and address. As we did grow, more and more neighbors jumped on board to become a part of this active community, which to this very day, invites all members of our community to join in helping to keep our community in tip-top shape.  Just recently, the committee welcomed Lana Berns, who supplied her own green wagon!
Lois, and Co-Chair Diedra Richards, also a Master Gardener, lead this committee.  Members are:
                                                                    Cathy Allers
                                                                    Alice Argyelan
                                                                    Larry Beeman
                                                                    Lana Berns
                                                                    Gary Denoyer
                                                                    Sandi Frenzke
                                                                    Linda Randazzo
As we began the month of March, the committee held a meeting to discuss and assess what needs to be done in the upcoming Spring-Summer-Fall seasons.  Some of the activities will include:
  • Spring survey of all trees and shrubbery, late March/early April, to note any winter damage, dead bushes, and declining shrubbery.
  • The landscape vendor will be on site for Spring cleanup again in late March/early April.
  • Mowing will begin in mid-April.
  • The irrigation system will be opened at the beginning of May, with the repair of the junction box by the clubhouse done at that time.
Of special note, this team is still investigating options for a final solution to the water problem at 724C. We’ll get there!
Every homeowner and resident of Arbor Grove needs to be familiar with our Community Policies, especially regarding landscaping.  If you haven’t read them in a while, just click here: Community Guidelines and Amenities, and make whatever effort you can to help keep our greenspace looking great!
We all live in this community, so we all have a responsibility to help keep it up.
Please remember, if you have a landscape issue, please fill out a landscape request form to make your issue known to the committee.  Not only does this help us address your concerns, but it also creates a historical notation for future reference. Landscape Committee Request Form
Wishing all a Sunny Spring Season and Blue Skies ahead!