News and stuff about Lake Forest and Lake Bluff

Opinion: Vote Yes For Lake Bluff Park District Referendum

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Gail Nielsen Gamrath (and family) of Lake Bluff. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

GazeboNews Reader Forum

Dear Lake Bluff Residents,

I have written before to local media about having the privilege of growing up in Lake Bluff. I feel so lucky to have had that experience. It was an easy choice for me and my husband, who also grew up here, to raise our own family in this wonderful village. The Park District was a large part of my childhood. Learning to swim at the pool, attending day camp and going to the beach was just the natural daily agenda for a LB kid. In 6th grade I was so proud when I received my first pay check from the Park District for being a highly skilled and assertive Tennis Court Monitor at Artesian Park for a pay rate of $1.60 per hour. Followed by ten summers working at the Pool, I gained many life skills learning the responsibility of holding a job and earning the respect of fellow residents. It was part of my young identity and to this day, I still run into other adults who I taught swim lessons to or who were on the swim team that I coached back when we had a booming 16-swimmer roster.

It is time once again to vote on a referendum to help fund the upkeep of not only the pool, but the beach and our parks. I feel this vote is different from the one which was voted down a few years back. With the help of over 600 residents, the Park District has prioritized what is really necessary to save some of our greatest resources from either shutting down or being taken away. We all know how great this town is and the Park District funds a large part of what makes it so special. Whether you are taking your grandkids to Artesian Park or needing to use the bathrooms at the beach (that currently some children are afraid to enter) these are resources that the Park District cannot fund within their current budget.

So the bottom line stands that Lake Bluff will lose some of our dearest assets if we do not look forward and act now. We cannot judge what people choose to spend their own money on but at $70 a year on a $450,000 house this seems like a no-brainer to me. It is an investment in our town. I hope you will join us in voting YES for our Pool, Parks and Beach.

Gail Nielsen Gamrath (and family)

Lake Bluff Family Loses Dog To Fatal Bacterial Infection

This story was updated Monday morning to include feedback from Dr. David McKenna of West Lake Forest Animal Hospital

By Adrienne Fawcett

At least three suburban dogs died last week after being infected with Leptospirosis, a bacteria that dogs can come in contact with by simply sniffing the urine of infected wildlife in parks, back yards or city sidewalks — anywhere a squirrel or rodent passes through.

“Lepto” is not new and it is often more prevalent in the fall, but it is noteworthy because the recent infections have been more severe, said Dr. Melissa Pales, who specializes in internal medicine at Veterinarian Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove, which treated four – possibly five — cases of Leptospirosis last week. Three of the infected dogs died on their own or were euthanized.

Mac Fletcher of Lake Bluff was one of those recent cases. On October 9, Cindy and Tom Fletcher and their son Austin noticed something was up with their big, normally exuberant Golden Retriever when he didn’t eat his dinner, which was unusual because Mac normally ate so fast that he’d empty the bowl moments after it was placed in front of him.

A few hours later he seemed lethargic, which was also unusual – but not alarming. Workers had installed a new roof on their home that day, and the family thought maybe Mac was just tired from all the pounding. He didn’t seem all that sick – just tired, said Cindy.


Mac became lethargic ... but there was no way to know how serious things were until a few days later.

Mac became lethargic … but there was no way to know how serious things were until a few days later.


But the Fletchers now wish they had been more concerned about those early, subtle changes in their dog’s behavior, because less than five days later on the afternoon of October 14, they faced a wrenching decision: euthanize their beloved pup, who was only four years old, or watch him die of organ failure due to what veterinarians suspect was an acute case of Leptospirosis infection. They chose to have him put to sleep and they’re sharing their story with GazeboNews so that other pet owners can perhaps avoid a similar fate.

“I would hate to think this would happen to another dog,” said Cindy. “If your dog seems a little lethargic – just be proactive and call your vet.”


Mac assumed that every time the door bell rang, the visitors were coming to see him, said his owner Cindy Fletcher.

Mac assumed that every time the door bell rang, visitors were coming to see him, said Cindy Fletcher.


What is Leptospirosis? Here is some basic information provided by Cathy Mordini of Veterinary Specialty Center:

Leptospirosis is caused by spiral-shaped bacteria called leptospires and is carried by cattle, rats, raccoons, skunks and other wildlife and is spread through their urine. Dogs come into contact with leptospira in infected water, soil or mud and may become infected by sniffing the urine or by wading, swimming or drinking infected water. Dog parks, nature preserves or any area where there is wildlife could present a risk. Lepto can be passed on to humans through exposure to infected urine.

About that later point: At a time when the Ebola virus is making headlines around the world, how worried about Lepto should humans be?

Dr. David McKenna of Animal Hospital of West Lake Forest said Leptospirosis is zoonotic, meaning it can spread to humans. “Common carriers in our area are raccoons, deer, rats and rodents, and skunks.  Transmission can occur via direct host to host contact, or indirectly through urine in a contaminated environment.  Due to increasing wildlife populations there is greater risk of exposure,” he said. “An important note is that infected dogs can spread the disease to their owners through exposure to their urine.  It is important to be very careful to wash hands well after cleaning up a urine accident.”

For the Fletchers, this meant having to wear masks and gloves when they said their final goodbyes to Mac before he was put to sleep. “We were told not to kiss him, not to touch his face,” said Cindy.

Dr. Pales said that like dogs, humans can be infected with “Lepto” if they come in contact with the urine of an infected animal. And that in humans, as with dogs, “Lepto” infection can cause flu-like symptoms and is treated with an antibiotic. “So if a person starts to exhibit flu-like symptoms, they need to let their doctor know if they may have been exposed to Leptospirosis from an animal,” she said.  (She also said cats can get Leptospirosis and that they may become carriers, but they don’t get sick the way dogs do.)

Treatment for Leptospirosis — for both humans and canines — is through supportive care and antibiotics.  The most common effective antibiotic is Doxycycline or Minocycline, said Dr. McKenna. 

What are the symptoms?

Dogs with the disease usually present with kidney or liver related symptoms, said Dr. McKenna., including increased thirst and urination, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The Veterinary Care Center fact sheet on Leptospirosis described the canine symptoms as follows:

Lepto primarily affects the kidneys and/or liver. Dogs generally start showing symptoms 4 to 14 days after exposure with a fever sometimes present in the early stages. Along with sudden fever and illness, other symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy and muscle pain. A dog’s gums or whites of his or her eyes may also become yellow. Kidney failure and or liver failure may occur in severe cases.

Diagnosis & Treatment
Lepto is treatable with antibiotics if it’s diagnosed and treated quickly. If lepto is suspected, dog owners should contact their veterinarian or bring their dog to an emergency veterinarian for testing and treatment. The recommended diagnostic test for leptospirosis remains serology with the microscopic agglutination test (MAT). Urine/blood PCR is also recommended concurrently with MAT testing in order to obtain an early diagnosis, as PCR is a highly sensitive test.

But as the Fletchers found, the symptoms can easily be misunderstood. For example, Mac turned down dinner on Thursday night but ate breakfast the following morning, perhaps with less gusto than usual, but he ate it nonetheless. He was lethargic over the weekend but still went on walks with Tom to Mawman Park across the street from their home. As usual, he slept in Austin’s room on Saturday night.

But by Sunday night, he seemed to be having trouble urinating, and overnight he started vomiting bile.

They took him first thing Monday to Animal Hospital of West Lake Forest, which conducted numerous tests, gave him penicillin and tried to rehydrate him so that he would produce urine. But by late afternoon on Monday, it appeared Mac’s kidneys were shutting down. The office referred Mac to Veterinary Specialty Center, and the Fletchers told their daughter Abby to come home from Augustana College in Rock Island, where she is a freshman. Mac’s condition worsened and by 10 p.m. on Monday, the VCC veterinarians informed the Fletchers that his kidneys were indeed shutting down, and his liver was damaged as well.

“They brought up Leptospirosis, but there was not a clean test to say what it was,” said Cindy. “And we were really puzzled, because he doesn’t leave the yard. There’s no standing water, and he has an invisible fence, and he won’t cross it.”

Another puzzling thing: Mac had been vaccinated for Lepto last November.

Dr. Pales on October 19 told GazeboNews that the vaccine for Leptospirosis doesn’t provide 100% protection. She explained there are several strains of the bacteria and that the vaccine protects against four of them. “It’s like the flu vaccine in people; it’s not 100%. But if dogs do get Lepto, the symptoms are usually not as severe if they have been vaccinated. Unfortunately that was not the case for Mac.”

Is there anyway to prevent Leptospirosis?

“Any dog who goes outside is susceptible because Lepto can be carried by so many different wildlife. Even little dogs who live in high rise apartments and only walk on sidewalks can be exposed to it,” said Dr. Pales. “You’d have to live in a bubble to prevent all the diseases that dogs can get just by stepping outside.”

So how do we protect our dogs?

“Just be vigilant for symptoms,” she said. “If they are lethargic, not eating, vomiting, experiencing diarrhea —anything abnormal, just get them checked out. Even if it’s not Leptospirosis, they might have something else that needs treatemtent.”

The Fletchers wish they had taken Mac to the vet earlier, but Dr. Pales said they did everything they could have done for Mac: “Mac’s family brought him in in the appropriate length of time, but his disease progressed really quickly. Some dogs, we can put them on dialysis. But that wasn’t possible with Mac, he just had all the bad things happen and there was nothing that could be done for him. It wasn’t in any way their fault.”

Music Lovers Have Many Events to Enjoy at LFHS In Coming Weeks

Submitted by a Lake Forest High School Applause Member


Whatever style of music you prefer, the talented Music Department students at Lake Forest High School have upcoming concerts and events to suit all tastes, so please join us for any and all of these exciting performances, most of which are held at LFHS, 1285 N. McKinley Road in Lake Forest. PS: RMA stands for Raymond Moore Auditorium.

Tuesday, October 21 7:30 p.m. RMA Choral Concert

Thursday, October 23 7:00 p.m. RMA Orchestra Festival

Tuesday, October 28 7:00 p.m. RMA Choral Festival, including students from Lake Bluff & Deerpath Middle Schools

Thursday, October 30 7:00 p.m. RMA Band Festival

Saturday, November 1 7:30 p.m. RMA Symphony for Survival

Tuesday, November 11 Various Lake Bluff Village Veterans’ Day Band Performances at the Village Green & LFHS

Friday, November 28 – Time TBD — Market Choral Performance at the Tree Lighting in Lake Forest’s Market Square

Sunday, December 14 Holiday Concerts and Spaghetti Dinner

  • 3:00 p.m. RMA — Instrumental Concert
  • 4:45 – 6:30 pm — Cafeteria/Commons — Spaghetti Dinner
  • 7:00 p.m. RMA Choral Concert

In addition to these events, we’re waiting for you – members of the community — to join us at Glee Club every Tuesday morning in the Chorus Room (Room 83) from 7:00-7:50 AM. All students, parents, community members and faculty are welcome. Come join Mr. Haskett and 40 of your neighbors for a lively morning of song, music, coffee, and donuts. If a mix of Beatles, Queen, Handel and show tunes are your thing, you belong here! Our first performance will be on October 21 at the Choral Concert.

Meanwhile, show your School Spirit by learning the LFHS Fight Song!Thanks to the Band and Choir for creating the music!

Turn up your speakers and play it while you sing along:

Cheer, cheer for Lake Forest High
The school whose spirit never dies!
Cheer for the team that has made it famous in the years gone by
And we will cheer for the blue and the gold, the colors ever wave on high.
So let’s add to the score and win here once more,
Come on and fight, Lake Forest High!

For more information on any of the Music Department’s events, please see the Applause newsletter 

Applause is the booster organization for the musical arts at Lake Forest High School, an organization of parents, alumni, faculty, and friends that provides support and communication for all band, choral, orchestral, and other music activities.

Last year, thanks to memberships and the Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser, Applause was able to contribute about $25,000 to the High School music program helping to fund scholarships, lessons, the spring trip abroad, grants to the music department, and student recognition. We’re hoping this year that even more local families will participate.

Join Applause at any level of support, starting at $25, online at or contact Membership Chairman Lorraine Condic, 35 W. Old Mill Rd, Lake Forest, IL 60045, Thank you!

Service Dogs Meet Post 510 Sponsors

Submitted by Lake Bluff American Legion Post 510


Recruit PSTD Service Dog Joseph Ellis Bohon, service dog trainer Pam Barnett and PSTD trained Service Dog Harold Koal visit American Legion Lake Bluff Post 510.

Recruit PSTD Service Dog Joseph Ellis Bohon, service dog trainer Pam Barnett and PSTD trained Service Dog Harold Koal visit American Legion Lake Bluff Post 510.

Experienced PTSD Service Dog Harold Koal, his apprentice PTSD recruit Service Dog Joseph Ellis Bohon and Pack Leader Academy trainer Pam Barnett paid a visit to a recent meeting of their sponsoring organization Lake Bluff’s American Legion Post 510.

“Taking care of veterans is one of the objectives of Lake Bluff‘s American Legion Post 510. Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Blast Injury presented Post 510 with a challenge. Service dogs were suggested and Post 510 turned to the community for help meeting the need,” according to Post 510 Commander David Cimarrusti.

The Knights of Columbus Lake Forest Council #1268 at St. Mary’s Church was looking for a veteran project to underwrite. Commander Cimarrusti and Post Vice Commander Jim Graham saw a match with the Post mission to care for veterans. A relationship was formed. The search was on to identify a suitable canine source.

Pam Barnett, president of “Paws Assisting Wounded Warriors” (PAWWS), a recognized regional non-profit PTSD dog-training subsidiary of Pack Leader Academy in Palos Heights was contacted by Post Commander Cimarrusti. Barnett agreed to take on the challenge to find a suitable dog, do the appropriate training and match dog and veteran.

The Post 510, Knights of Columbus, PAWWS service dog team has been functioning since 2012. During that time two veterans have visited Post 510 with their Post 510 PTSD Service dogs. Three dogs have been or are being prepared to act as service dogs; trained dog Black Lab Harold Koal, trainee dog Black Lab Joseph Ellis Bohon and the newest potential service dog Standard Poodle Jimmie Dobbins.

Of note, the dogs are named after either veterans or donors. Service dog Jimmie Dobbins represents long time Post 510 veteran Bill Dobbins.

For additional information on Post 510 or its PTSD service dog project contact Post Commander David Cimarrusti at 847-234-5261 or email


Lake Forester Reese Marcusson Joins LFHS Board

From Lake Forest School District 115:

Lake Forest High School Board President Dick Block welcomes newcomer Reese Marcussen to the board

Lake Forest High School Board President Dick Block, left, welcomes newcomer Reese Marcusson to the board

The Lake Forest High School District 115 Board of Education is pleased to announce the appointment of Reese Marcusson. Mr. Marcusson was sworn in at the October 14 Board of Education meeting and will fill the board vacancy that resulted from the resignation of Todd Burgener.

Board of Education President Dick Block said: “We are fortunate to have so many interested residents volunteer to serve our school community. After reviewing 14 applications, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Reese Marcusson. Mr. Marcusson currently serves on our education committee and for many years has been Executive VP & CFO of Window to the World Communications, Inc. (WTTW/WFMT). He has also served on the Boards of the Lake Forest Library, Gorton Community Center, and the Lake County Boys & Girls Club, as well as Guerin Prep. We look forward to Reese contributing his extensive experience in financial matters and educational programming to our board and district.”

Mr. Marcusson said: “I love this community and we are blessed to have a great high school. I am humbled to be appointed to the District 115 board and excited to work with everyone – fellow board members, administrators and teachers – to keep our schools great.”

Mr. Marcusson and his wife are 16-year residents of Lake Forest and have two children.

Fall Rain … Fall

How much rain so far this week? If you’re wondering for a precise measurement you’ve come to the right place — 2.28 inches in Lake Forest over the past three days, based on Carl Noble’s calculations in his Lake Forest back yard for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.


Ravine at Moffett and Withwood Lane in Lake Bluff on Oct. 14, 2014; photo by Adrienne Fawcett

Ravine at Moffett and Withwood Lane in Lake Bluff on Oct. 14, 2014; photo by Adrienne Fawcett

Introducing: Your North Shore Halloween Itinerary

By Sam Eichner

Halloween is fast approaching, and with so many festivities on the North Shore it can be hard to know where to start. Which is why we’ve created a comprehensive itinerary, highlighting the dates, times, and activities at the best (and spookiest) events the area has to offer.

Be sure to click the links for each event for more information, and to check the corresponding map below to see where each is located. If you have an event that you’d like to add, just email it to

1. 5th Annual Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival, sponsored by The Autism Society of Illinois and the City of Highwood, Oct. 17th (4-9pm), Oct. 18th (11am-9pm), and Oct. 19th (11am-8pm). Come out and support a great cause as downtown Highwood once again transforms into Pumpkin Fest HQ, featuring a pet costume contest, the Light Up the Night Parade, a 5k Pumpkin Run, onsite carving, pumpkin beer tasting, carnival rides and much more.

2. Spooky Pooch at Chicago Botanic Gardens, Oct. 18th (11am-1pm). Dress your dog in its spookiest Halloween costume for a parade through the Botanic Gardens. And by spookiest, we mean most ridiculously adorable.

3. Boo Bash, at Takiff Center, Oct. 23rd (5:30-7pm). Enjoy an evening of family fun filled with crafts, carnival games, treats, entertainment, and pizza. Trick-or-Treat bag/pillowcase is highly recommended.

4. Halloween Happening at Wilmette Park District Community Center, Oct. 24th (6-9pm). Bring the kids to a family-friendly event featuring carnival games, a fortune teller, a moonwalk, pony rides, and thrilling performances from the Theater of Terror and the Traveling World of Reptiles.

5. Halloween Hoopla, at Jewett Park in Deerfield, October 24-25th (7-9pm). Make the trip to the Jewett Community Center for a limited-time Haunted House, a family-fun movie in the park, and a Halloween bonfire. Kids of all ages will enjoy the event, which also features fun inflatables, a haywagon ride around the park, costumed characters, and much more.

6. HallowFest, A Garden of Good…And Evil, at Chicago Botanic Gardens, October 25th (5:30-9pm) and October 26th (4-7:30pm). Return to the Botanic Gardens for a live pumpkin carving, fortune telling, face-painting, and spooky train ride around the grounds on the Howlin’ Express.

7. Lake Bluff’s Ghost Walk, at the Lake Bluff History Museum, October 25th and 26th (5-8pm). On Halloween, nothing’s as it seems. Which is why the Village President enlisted the Men in Black to assist with this year’s Ghost Walk. Follow them as they seek to uncover the mysteries behind a series of strange (and spooky) events in Lake Bluff’s history.

8. Lake Bluff’s Pumpkin Fest and Pumpkin Chase: The Lake Bluff PTO Pumpkin Chase 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run is on October 18 but festivities begin Friday (Oct. 17th) evening (5PM-8PM) at the Lake Bluff Middle School Gym where you can pick up your race packet and get a pre-race dinner for a nominal amount. Don’t forget to bring the kids as there will be games and the ever popular Haunted Forest across the street in Artesian Park. The next morning is the 5K at 8 am and the Fun Run @ 9:15 am. Stick around for the Pumpkin Fest ,which begins right after the Fun Run at the Middle School adjacent to the start/finish line.

9. Trick-or-Treat in Downtown Highland Park, October 30th (4-6pm). Give your kids a head start on the big day with an afternoon of trick-or-treating at the stores in downtown HP.

10. Trick-or-Treat in Downtown Lake Forest, October 31st (2pm-close). Bring your kids and pets in costume to collect treats from all the stores with a Trick-or-Treat sign in their window.

And now…Let this map be your guide:

Viral ‘First Kiss’ Video Has Lake Forest Roots

Click on the photo to watch the video on YouTube.

Click on the photo to watch the video on YouTube.

By Adrienne Fawcett

Nearly 92 million people have watched “First Kiss” a YouTube video that shows strangers kissing — actually it shows models and actresses who are strangers kissing. It was launched March 2014, spread on Facebook, and is the work of a clothing designer from Lake Forest. Her name is Melissa Coker and the clothing label is Wren.

GazeboNews learned of her when Forest Bluff Montessori School, her alma mater, posted this on its Facebook newsfeed:

“Melissa Coker was in Forest Bluff’s first elementary class, back in 1983. Today she’s making international headlines for her fashion line, Wren, and its viral videos. (Chances are you’ve seen the one called “First Kiss.”) The link below is to her Spring ’15 collection… and you can check out the story behind the First Kiss video”

Strange Happenings In Lake Bluff



There’s a side to Lake Bluff that no one ever talks about; it’s too scary. But a group of village stalwarts insists on bringing the issues to light. GazeboNews is too frightened to say another word. Click here if you’re brave enough to learn more …

Opinion: Shorter Election Season Will Yield Better Candidates

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by A.J. Goldsmith of Lake Forest. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.


GazeboNews Reader Forum


By A.J. Goldsmith

The Election season is much too long. Good people are being kept from running for public office by the expenses inherent in distressingly long campaigns.

My solution is that the General Election should be held no more than 30 days after the primary. This means that primaries for General Elections must be held just 30 days before the General Election. This change would require amending the Illinois Constitution.