A solitary figure wanders the dark road. A ghostly hand writes “help me” over and over on the blood stained pavement, desperate to reach out to the living. The wind whispers of unspeakable crimes through the rusted trestles of a rural bridge. These are the roads less traveled.
Join author Michael Kleen as he takes you on a visual tour of some of the most mysterious roads in Illinois and tells their tales. This special multimedia presentation will feature stories, pictures, and video from haunted roads all over the state: from Cuba Road in Barrington, to southwest suburban Archer Avenue, to Lebanon Road’s “Gates to Hell” and the phantom lady of Kennedy Hill Road and beyond.
This presentation will be held on Saturday, December 7th from 7-9:00 pm at White Trash Gallery (139 Gooding St.) in LaSalle, Illinois. LaSalle is conveniently located right off Interstate 39, just south of I-80, near Starved Rock State Park.
Entrance to this event is $10 and you can pay at the door. Paying attendees will receive a 16% discount (-$3.00) off signed copies of Michael Kleen’s new book Legends and Lore of Illinois: The Definitive Collection (retails for $18.95). There will also be a free reception and book signing after the presentation.
RSVP on Facebook, and don’t forget to invite your friends!
My regular biweekly column in the Rock River Times (affectionately called “Keepin’ it Kleen”) is on hiatus for the foreseeable future. In case there are rumors about why I took a break from writing – this is a decision that I, and I alone, made. This wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but it’s one I’ve been contemplating for a while. Although events keep occurring that I feel compelled to write about (there are no shortage of scandals and governmental absurdity here in Rockford), I feel a need to recharge my batteries and focus on other areas.
I realize this means that one of the only voices of opposition in the local Rockford media will be gone, and that’s not something I take lightly. It’s been a privilege to have been that voice, off and on, for the past couple of years. With that in mind, I’ll probably still write every now and then, when the mood strikes.
I’ve been writing opinion columns ever since October 2006, when my biweekly column began in Eastern Illinois University’s newspaper, the Daily Eastern News. Since then, I’ve written and published around 116 op-eds for a variety of newspapers and websites. These included the Daily Eastern News, Rock River Times, Rockford Register Star, Strike-the-root.com, C4SS.org, Disclosure, WND.com, and others.
I began writing under “Keepin’ it Kleen” for southern Illinois’ Disclosure monthly news magazine in 2011. Around that same time, I started an hour long weekly radio show on BNNS Radio in Belvidere that lasted for about a year. The subject of my columns gradually changed to have a much more local focus, first Illinois in general, then the Rockford area specifically. I took a break from October 2012 to April 2013 while I ran for Mayor of Rockford.
Since April, I’ve tackled a lot of heavy subjects in my adopted hometown. I’ve spent hours, sometimes days, researching, writing, and editing these columns – making sure they were factually accurate and had an important but easy to understand point. I did all of this without any compensation except the occasional compliment from a reader. Not that I didn’t have help – of course I had many folks provide insights and steer me in the right direction. I can’t count how many hours my friend Dave Willis spent making sure everything was correct down to the smallest grammatical rule.
As appreciative as I am for all my readers, fans, and friends who offered encouragement, I’m looking forward to taking a much needed break.
By Michael Kleen ~ Published November 13, 2013 at the Rock River Times
In April 2013, Vernon Hilton (D) won a narrow victory over Pamela Connell (R) to become alderman of Rockford’s 6th Ward. Less than six months later, Mr. Hilton resigned and moved to Texas for a job opportunity. Before leaving, he recommended that his friend Marcus Hill be appointed to fill the vacancy. After interviewing five applicants and reviewing their résumés, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) chose to appoint Marcus Hill.
The appointment made the front page of the Rockford Register Star. Their sub headline read, “Mayor says Safer Foundation rep Marcus Hill is best of 5 candidates for 6th Ward.” Given the information presented in the article, we are led to believe that yes, this was a wonderful decision. The Register Star, however, did not report the full story. A more complete view of the facts about the candidates will show that this was far from the best decision the mayor could have made.
Let me make one thing clear; my purpose is not to denigrate or disparage the appointee. I’m sure Mr. Hill is an upstanding man and might make a perfectly fine alderman. My purpose is 1) to point out that Mayor Morrissey’s argument in favor of his decision is either questionable, disingenuous, or both, and 2) to point out the Register Star’s omission of certain important facts from their coverage of that decision.
Looking for something to do in Coles County this Halloween? Unless you’re handing out candy, there’s never an excuse to stay inside. Spooky adventures await you around every corner. So check out these ideas for getting the most out of October 31st. Have a fun and safe Halloween! Brought to you by Tales of Coles County, Illinois by Michael Kleen. Read the rest of this entry
By Michael Kleen ~ Published October 30, 2013 at the Rock River Times
Ever since Rockford’s stimulus funds scandal erupted over the summer, media coverage has focused on a peripheral issue: the fate of Rockford’s Head Start program. This has effectively distracted the public from the costly and embarrassing mistakes made by senior Human Services Department officials that led to the scandal. Rather than focusing on the lack of oversight and accountability, the public’s outrage has been misdirected toward a phony issue involving Head Start. Here is how it happened.
In July of this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General released the results of a partial audit of Federal stimulus funds given by the State of Illinois to Rockford in 2009. The Inspector General found $205,296 was used for “unallowable” reasons under the terms of the Recovery Act award. A further $141,796 was deemed “potentially unallowable.”
After conducting a review of the audit, the City of Rockford released a memo outlining its findings. City Administrator James (Jim) Ryan recommended that Rockford “return” $298,671.84, establish a Grant Program Compliance section within the Rockford Finance Department, and restructure the Rockford Human Services (HS) Department. The $298,671.84 would come from “recaptured loan funds” and Rockford’s Redevelopment Fund.
Thank you everyone who came out to my “legends and lore of Coles County” presentation at Eastern Illinois University last night! The event was a huge success – we actually had to move to another room to accommodate the crowd. Thanks to Becky and Lesley for helping out, and again to Morgan and Diane and the rest of the EIU Creative Writing Club exec board, As a bonus, my presentation made the front page of the Daily Eastern News today. Here’s a snippet:
Coles County Full of Hauntings
By Ashley Holstrom/Staff Reporter
The legend of the ghost of Pemberton Hall is the most well known in the area, but Michael Kleen, author of “The Tales of Coles County,” has many more to share. And he did, to an audience of about 50 students and community members at an event hosted by the Eastern’s Creative Writing Club Thursday.
Most people in the audience raised their hands when asked if they believe in ghosts, and Kleen said he was surprised that the few who did not would come to such an event. “Maybe we’ll make believers out of you,” he said.
He grew up reading ghost stories, went to Eastern, and realized not much had been written about the legends percolating around the area. So he did it himself.
This is the best quote:
The story of the ghost of Pemberton Hall hits closest to home — literally, for a few members of the audience. “Have a good night tonight,” he said, laughing, to the few women who said they live there.
My next presentation in Coles County will be at Lakeland Community College in February.