Good News Sunday: Meet the Barrington teens who formed a (basketball) league of their own

  • The Barrington Summer League basketball season features 24 teams and is run entirely by teenagers. Founders, from left, Austin Molinaro, Nick Bordenet, Ryan Chang and Christian Katris act as commissioners.

      The Barrington Summer League basketball season features 24 teams and is run entirely by teenagers. Founders, from left, Austin Molinaro, Nick Bordenet, Ryan Chang and Christian Katris act as commissioners. Burt Constable | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted6/12/2022 7:30 AM

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

Remember those good old days, when bunches of boys would get together in the summer to play basketball on an outdoor court with no adults telling them what to do?

 

That's happening now on the court at Countryside Elementary School in Barrington.

"It's just for fun," says Austin Molinaro, who founded the Barrington Summer League with Nick Bordenet, Ryan Chang and Christian Katris, all 18-year-olds who just graduated from Barrington High School. The four, who call themselves "commissioners," started the league last summer as a way to keep playing basketball when traditional adult-run programs were canceled due to pandemic restrictions.

With 24 teams and about 180 players playing a 14-game regular season and then playoffs, the league is about more than putting a ball through a hoop.

"This year, every team has an Instagram account," Katris says.

The league posts schedules, results and rankings on its barringtonsummerleague Instagram account -- along with photos and videos, compliments and a little trash-talking.

For the full story, click here.

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45 years and counting for Gail Borden Library's longest-serving staffer

Contrary to the old stereotype, Tina Birkholz doesn't remember ever putting her finger to her lips and shushing somebody in her 45 years of being a children's librarian at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin.

"We've never been real shushy in the children's area," she said. "Sometimes parents will come in and tell their kids that 'now we have to be quiet,' and I'll say to them, 'Oh, this isn't a quiet library, this is a fun library.'"

Tina Birkholz holds "Ginger Snaps," a hand puppet she used when she first started doing children's programs 45 years ago at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin. Birkholz is the longest tenured librarian there, having started in 1976.
  Tina Birkholz holds "Ginger Snaps," a hand puppet she used when she first started doing children's programs 45 years ago at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin. Birkholz is the longest tenured librarian there, having started in 1976. - Rick West | Staff Photographer

The longest-serving employee at the library, Birkholz last week helped finalize preparations for the summer reading program, which this year centers around the library's "Wizard of Oz" exhibit. The program, which predates even her time at the library, kicked off Friday with thousands of kids signed up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's gotten so much bigger than when I started, but the essentials are the same," she said. "We just want to encourage kids to read and have fun. That's what we're still doing.

"The mechanics may have changed, but not the reason."

For the full story, click here.

100-year-old grotto getting much-needed restoration

Through the years, Carolyn Lauing-Finzer lovingly groomed the grounds around the stone grotto her grandfather helped build 100 years ago at Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery in Naperville.

But even after decades of maintenance, there was only so much she could do. While occasional patchwork helped, a major restoration was necessary to help the grotto remain a viable gathering space for parishioners.

Thanks to tens of thousands of dollars in donations, work began in March and will continue this summer to clean the stones and rebuild key areas.

Carolyn Lauing-Finzer of Naperville speaks with Mario Machnicki as repair work begins on the stones of the grotto at Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Naperville. Lauing-Finzer's grandfather helped build the original 100-year-old grotto.
  Carolyn Lauing-Finzer of Naperville speaks with Mario Machnicki as repair work begins on the stones of the grotto at Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Naperville. Lauing-Finzer's grandfather helped build the original 100-year-old grotto. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

The stones on the side walls of the grotto are numbered and removed so a concrete footing can be installed at the base to prevent heaving. Then the stones will be returned in the same original pattern. The deteriorating roof will receive new stones thoughtfully chosen to match the original work and firmly affixed so they don't slide off.

Additional repair work will be done on the stairway and archway, including waterproofing and steel reinforcing.

"It's not a cookie-cutter structure," Lauing-Finzer said. "It's a one-of-a-kinder. It deserves to be restored the right way."

For the full story, click here.

Sign system to guide bikers, hikers on three Lake County trails

A wayfinding system designed to enhance the experience of bikers and hikers on three well-known trails is advancing in Lake County.

The county board's public works, planning and transportation committee has recommended appropriating $600,000 for sign posts, bases, blanks and related materials to create and install wayfinding signage along the North Shore, Robert McClory and Skokie Valley bike paths.

Matt Emde, principal engineer for the Lake County Division of Transportation, at a test wayfinding sign on the North Shore Bike Path.
Matt Emde, principal engineer for the Lake County Division of Transportation, at a test wayfinding sign on the North Shore Bike Path. - Courtesy of Lake County Division of Transportation

The financial and administrative committee will next review the plan, and an expected approval by the full county board June 14 would allow work to begin this summer.

"This is an exciting project for us," said Al Giertych, assistant county engineer. "Our system is pretty extensive now."

Wayfinding signs provide information and help coordinate trails by letting riders know their locations and directions to other trails, town centers, amenities or other attractions.

The hope is that more use the bike path network rather than drive, according to the Lake County Department of Transportation.

For the full story, click here.

• Good News Sunday will run each weekend. Please visit dailyherald.com/newsletters to sign up for our Good News Sunday newsletter.

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