Mystery, death, election results and property taxes — cynics might say those four ride together like horsemen of the apocalypse.
They are also ingredients of some of the most-read Kane County Connects articles of 2018.
In past years, we’ve run this countdown as a series of articles over a period of days during the Christmas-New Year’s week.
This year, we simply ran short of time, so we’re packing 10 articles into one: a recap of the “most read,” with a little explanation of the when and why.
Here’s the countdown, starting with …
Kane County Connects re-posts news releases from local police and fire departments, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and the Kane County Coroner’s Office.
This article garnered much attention, as much for its confirmation of the goodness of people and first responders as its tragic nature.
Eighteen-year-old Consuelo Pina of Elgin died July 29, after her car was struck by a semi-trailer truck at the intersection of Randall Road and Hopps Road. Described as “hardworking, responsible and family-oriented,” her death was mourned by the Elgin community.
More than 40 people responded to the Elgin Police Department’s Facebook post.
“This was truly one of the most awful things I have ever seen,” one witness said. “I hope that the family of the young woman knows that at least a dozen people got out of their cars and ran through the field to try and help. Thank you to the EPD and all of the other first responders that were at the scene.”
The article had 7,190 page views.
I’m very proud that this article made the Top 10 list, because I think it’s indicative of the outreach service Kane County Connects provides you.
This year, Kane County created a state-of-the-art, property-tax information website that gives Kane County residents tons of valuable information and lets you pay your property taxes online. How cool is that?
This article not only introduced taxpayers to the site but offered step-by-step instruction on how to get the most use from it.
So far, there are 7,684 page views for this one … and counting.
I’m also super-proud of this story series, for so many reasons.
One is that it was authored by our Kane County Connects summer intern, Allison Arguezo.
Another is that it was the product of the Kane County Jobs Committee‘s efforts to promote tourism in Kane County during the warm-weather months of June, July and August.
We updated the article weekly, and people clearly liked this reference to the festivals, events and things to do and see in our neck of the woods.
In all, it gathered 7,805 page views.
No. 7: March 20 Primary Results
One of the services Kane County Connects provides is reporting local election results from the Kane County Clerk’s Office website.
The March primary was hotly contested this year, with Republican Don Kramer and Democrat Ron Hain each winning their party’s nomination for sheriff and Tom Hartwell winning a super-close race over Elizabeth Flood for the Republican nomination for the 16th Circuit Court judge.
In the November General Election, Hain went on to win the sheriff’s race and Hartwell lost a close contest to Democrat Michael J. Noland.
The primary also saw two Kane County Board incumbents unseated — which is rare. Anita Marie Lewis defeated incumbent Donald Ishmael by just a few votes in the District 3 Democratic contest, and Steve Weber defeated incumbent Philip Lewis for the Republican nomination in District 13.
This “primary” article received 7,101 page views, but another article on this topic — Where To Find March 20 Primary Results For Kane County, Aurora, IL — got 8,574 page views and would have been No. 4 by its ownself.
So I’ve more or less randomly decided to place it at No. 7 on this countdown.
No. 6: Election 2018 Referendums
Nov. 6, 2018, was a good day for three referendums seeking approval in Kane County: the Kaneville Township recycling referendum, the Batavia Library District limiting rate increase and the Hampshire Fire Protection District tax rate increase.
It was not so good for real estate tax increases or fire district bonds. Voters said “no” to ending home rule in Batavia — which means, of course, that they said “yes” to keeping home rule, if you want to put a more-positive spin on it.
This article tallied 7,226 page views, but it actually might have been the No. 1 story of the year, because the preview story — 9 Referendums on Nov. 6 Ballot in Kane County — was by itself the No. 6 most-read article of the year, with 8,326 page views.
I’m leaving it as No. 6, just to keep the conversation lively.
Here’s another story that’s a wee bit complicated, countdown-wise.
The strange story of prepaying property taxes in Kane County was the most-read story of 2017 — but didn’t make last year’s top 10 list. How can that be? Read on.
Basically, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, was the last day to prepay your property taxes in Kane County. This became a huge (try to imagine President Trump saying that word as you read this) deal, because late-in-the-year tax reform laws made it suddenly advantageous to pay early.
Here in Kane County, and across the U.S., the result was like the run-on-the-bank scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
This story (which earned 7,990 page views) was a follow-up to the initial article, which had gained more than 15,000 page views by Dec. 31. By that time, I had already completed all but the final installment of the 2017 end-of-the-year countdown series.
So I just left it off last year’s list, with a “note to self” to make sure it landed in the 2018 countdown.
One last personal note: I’m (again, sorry) incredibly proud of this article because it shows Kane County Connects’ value for delivering important information that citizens really, really want and need in a timely way.
It’s an outreach service Kane County government could not have provided so effectively prior to KCC’s invention.
This “roundup” article is a perennial favorite of Kane County Connects readers.
We research and publish the trick-or-treat hours for every community in Kane County — which for some odd reason, seem to change every year. Along with links to local websites, we add news release information as well as Halloween safety advice from local police departments.
Apparently, you folks love this strange brew. The article got 8,832 page views this year.
All Kane County public school districts closed Monday, Nov. 26, due to a rare November blizzard.
During the first big snow storm of the year, parents and students want to know whether or not there’s going to be a snow day.
This article contains links to everything you want to know if there’s a weather emergency and your offspring goes to a public school in Kane County. We update this article regularly, by the way, so you might want to consider bookmarking it for the next big weather event.
In addition to links to local school districts’ websites and Facebook pages, we published links to blizzard-related KCC articles on trash pickup delays, snowfall totals, what’s closed/open and the revised Chicago winter weather outlook.
The article received 9,532 page views.
No. 2: Kane Sex Offenders List 2018
Each year, as part of our trick-or-treat hours story, we publish links to national, state and local government websites that post sex-offender addresses, so that parents and kids can make smart decisions about where they go door-to-door.
This year, we did a search on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, and found there were 501 offenders with addresses in Kane County communities.
As a service to readers, we organized the content by community and posted the addresses as well as links for more information.
The result was an article that garnered 9,888 page views.
It should be noted that almost all of the top 10 articles were updated several times, because investigations were ongoing or data came in over a period of time or information was added from more than one official source.
This article was updated several times, and was viewed often, perhaps, because it read like a story out of a murder mystery.
It started with a news release announcement that a couple had been found dead in their Elburn home, after officers were called to do a well-being check.
There was no sign of a gas leak, and police were investigating. At that point, police felt it was important to get the word out quickly, because there was a potential danger to the community.
The article was later updated to include the names of the couple — Herman Beyer, 78, and Elaine Beyer, 74 —as well as confirmation that there was not a carbon monoxide problem or persons of interest at large.
Finally, following investigations by the Elburn Police Department, Kane County Major Crimes Task Force, the Kane County Coroner’s Office and the Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District, it was determined that the Beyers died of natural causes.
The full story, of course, remains a mystery of sorts. One Daily Herald article noted that both had histories of heart and liver disease, but there were no follow-up stories that explained why each had died so closely together.