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Welcome to my website and blogs- 

Love this website that lets me honor my writing that began as a high school sports reporter and continues today as I weave poetry, stories and a novel.

 

Photo by Mike Zarnek
Irvana Keagy Wilks

As  a writer and Mayor, I shared my love of poems by composing for them for Mount Prospect schools who hosted Arbor Day tree plantings.

On an Sister Cities exchange trip to France we visited the American Cemetery in Normandy. I wrote a poem for WWII’s fallen soldiers buried at Normandy.  For a 9/11 ceremony I honored those lost with:  9/11 Ceremony.

I value communities of  writers.  I belong to workshops and attending conferences. I belong to Off Campus Writers Workshop  and served as manuscript chair for the Barrington Writers Workshop.  At my retirement from being Mayor of the Village of Mount Prospect Illinois, I was given a week at a Writer’s Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Glen West Workshop is hosted by “Image Literary Journal on Art and Faith.”

Irvana’s Blogs

Book News

Book Club for CCAH will read “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead.  Zoom meeting will be at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, November 20. The Christian Church of Arlington Heights is open for Book Club discussion, using Zoom technology. We also have worship and other other “On-line” activities. Contact our minister, Rev. Allison Lundblad with her …

Condo

We own a beautiful Florida Condo.  In deciding to remain in Mount Prospect we are offering it for sale.  It is at Casa Bonita Royale, 25901 Hickory Blvd., Unit 506, Bonita Springs, Florida.  We post these photos to make it easier to view the interior. A realtor, Michael Vincent with Berkshire Hathaway, is representing us …

Sister City Commission

Citizen Ambassadors

Mount Prospect and Sèvres, France established a Sister City friendship in 2000 and renewed exchanges periodically.  Mount Prospect’s then Mayor Gerald “Skip” Farley and his wife Janice visited Sèvres, France.  They met then Mayor François Kosciusko-Morizet and his wife Bénédicte, staying in each others homes.

Each visit began and ended with a reception at Sevres City Hall
Sévres City Hall – In French – Hôtel de Ville

Papers were signed, making the relationships official.  Mount Prospect passed an ordinance establishing a Sister Cities Commission to be responsible for official delegate exchanges.

Mount Prospect set a policy that Delegates would pay their own way to Sèvres, which is a suburb of Paris.  It meant no tax dollars paid for Mayors, their spouses, or Commissioners’ trips.   Delegation exchanges require hosting French delegates in our homes.  We also must stay in the homes of our counterparts in France.

Irvana Wilks greets Sister Cities officials supporters during dinner celebration, including former Chair Dorothy Kucera and Martha Atherton, Illinois Sister City Chair.

Sister City organizations were established in the 1950s by President Dwight Eisenhower as part of the United States State Department. It is considered a part of having U.S Citizen Ambassadors. It was patterned after Europe’s “Twinning” efforts to try to heal the wounds of WWII. President Eisenhower had witnessed terrible war, but believed peace might prevail if we visited in each others homes.

Visits are scheduled every two years – either the French come to Mount Prospect, or Mount Prospect goes to Sevres.  That means we save money to go every four years to France, or host delegates from France in our homes. It is a wonderful commitment made for the exchanges.  Not like a vacation, delegates must walk most places, visiting factories, schools, museums, tourist attractions.  Since we stay in people’s homes, we take gifts for French-host families, and official gift exchanges between towns.  Those are usually done at special dinners.

Mount Prospects visits to Sevres occurred in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Sevres visits to Mount Prospect were 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2019.   

Irvana with -Franch-Marie Chauvelot a fellow writer. Stands at famous Shakespeare Book Store across from Notre Dame

In 2007 both delegations visited the World War II Cemetery in Normandy, France.  More of visit on Normandy site.  Before taking a train to Normandy, we toured Paris, Chateau of Versailles (very near Sevres) and had dinner on the Seine River.  I was matched to a fellow writer, Franch-Marie Chauvelot, and elected official and we talked when we could. Above is a wonderful picture of us at a famous bookstore frequented by Hemingway.

Alan and Mayor Wilks stand on Omaha Beach at Normandy
Alan and Mayor Irvana Wilks stand on a German bunker left after WWII.
Sculpture on Normandy Beach honoring the dead
Normandy Beach Sculpture honoring those who drowned

Visits brought delegates to our homes but also met “American” events – traditional Thanksgiving dinner, cookouts, ballgames, square dancing and fancy dinners.  Exchanges allowed Mount Prospect organizations to interact with the French. Some visited over lunch, or some at the French Market held by the Lion’s Club every fall.  Below is a 2013 visit to Mount Prospect with the park district hosting a cookout.

Janice and former Mayor Gerald ‘Skip” Farley eat lunch during Sevres delegation visit

In 2013 the delegation visit also held a dinner to which the community was invited.

Mount Prospect honors Sevres with dinner

Most Visits exchanged both elected and non – elected residents who are interested in the exchanges.

Francois and Benedicte Kosciusko-Morizet pose with Sevres vice mayor and wife, all delegates attending celebration dinner with Mount Prospect supporters.

Special thanks goes to “Citizen Ambassadors” – non – elected who both hosted parties and went on trips.  Some photos honor their commitment to Sister Cities and to peace.

On May 29 to June 5, 2011, during an Exchange visit to Sévres, we extended the trip of the Chateaus of Loire Valley –  Planned were castles and chateaus of the Kings, Queens, and aristocracy.  Included in the trip of the Loire (River) Valley was the Chateau de Villandry and it’s Gardens.  Those gardens were Ornamental (with different plants and flowers symbolizing different kinds of love); Water (plants around a pond); Sun (with its oranges and yellows); the Maze (symbolizes a man’s path on earth); Herb and Vegetable Gardens that supplied the residents of the Chateau.

Paula and Gary Randant hosted delegates and dinners at their home. Here they are next to a moat in 2011.  Paula was president of the Illinois Sister Cities Organization. Gary was always by her side. 

As the 2011 visit approached, I thought exchanges between business people would be another chapter. I was honored to have owner of Mount Prospect Child Care to join the delegation – Michael and his daughter, Ashleen Davey.

Trip to the Gardens in the Loire Valley made beautiful memories and photos
Michael and Ashleen Davey during 2011 visit – plus extend trip to the Loire Valley with its castles and gardens –

Following a 2013 visit to Mount Prospect, we were saddened to learn that Sevres Mayor François Kosciusko-Morizet had a stroke and passed away a few months later.

We are blessed that Bénédicte continues to visit Mount Prospect.

Arbor Days

As Mayor I shared my love of poetry by writing poems for schools which hosted Arbor Day Tree Plantings each April to coincide with national Arbor Day ceremonies.  Students also wrote and recited poems.  I’ve learned I am the only Mayor in the United States to write Arbor Day poems.

Arborist Clark and Mayor hug at Arbor Day Ceremony after presenting Leaf Pin gift

Thanks to Forester Sandy Clark for departing her love of trees to countless students.  Ms. Clark and her crews in the Mount Prospect Public Works Department worked countless hours on each Arbor Day event.

Arbor Day Tree Planting
Mayor Wilks encourages youth – her grandson Tommy –  to toss dirt on tree ball.

Village Trustees also attended the ceremonies and helped with planting.  Since Arbor Days are important to Mount Prospect, Trustees gave up work days to participate.  The Mount Prospect Garden Club co-sponsored the event and gave away rooted twigs for the students to plant at home.

Arbor Day 2013 – Lions Park Elementary School. Forester Sandy Clark and I greet the students who take part in the program.

I teamed up with Trustees to give the Garden Clubs’ bagged plantings to the youth.  

Trustee Steve Polit and I present students with trees to plant – gifts of the Garden Club –

Family Joined for Arbor Day Ceremony – 

Arbor Day
Mayor Wilks with grandson, Tommy, brother-in-law Larry Wilks, daughter, Jolin McElroy and son-in-law Tom McElroy

Mayor Wilks wrote Arbor Day poems to present to Mount Prospect schools, both public and private.

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Magazine for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources – April 2009 featured the Mount Prospect Arbor Day Celebration and the poems I wrote for the schools as Mayor.  I’ve scanned in the three pages from the magazine, “Outdoor Illinois”.

 

 

 

Beginning in 2006, I wrote poems – one on this page –   

Arbor Day Tree
Littleleaf Linden Spring Flowers

Written by Irvana K. Wilks, Mayor Village of Mount Prospect
For St. Paul Lutheran School, April 29, 2006 Arbor Day

Greenspire Littleleaf Linden
(Tilia cordata – Greenspire)

In the time-honored tradition marking Arbor Day, we plant a tree, a Greenspire  Littleleaf Linden, covering its roots with rich, brown Illinois soil.

Our words of dedication echo across a nation, and join with the choruses of millions of others honoring this same April day.

One imagines that this sapling stands like a small sentry – a guard – next to this school built by faith.  It is we, however, who are the sentries, promising to care and to protect it.

The sun and rain will nourish this linden.  As it grows, stretching its branches into the vast sky, it will shade children who pass beneath laughing, learning. Generations of students will inherit this Parkway Tree.

In summer the perfume of its flowers B delicate white clusters B will beckon us. We will pause within the canopy of the fragrance and for an instant – pretend to be on a tropical island.

So it will be, the life of this linden and our lives, locked together – grownups, youth and the tree, because today we take shovels and cover its roots with rich, brown Illinois soil.  And then we make a promise.

©2006 Irvana Keagy Wilks

Littleleaf Linden’s Fall Show ….

Autumn color of Linden –

July 4th – Veterans Days – 9/11 Ceremony

Memorial Days – Veterans are much loved by Mount Prospect.  Below are photos including ones taken during a visit by Sevres delegates. Their Mayor’s father was in the French resistance. Mayor François Kosciusko-Morizet carried a special message to those at the Memorial Day program.

Mayor Wilks marches with former Mayor Skip Farley and Mayor François Kosciusko-Morizet
Veterans march to Memorial Band Shell at Lions Park
Prospect High School Band marched with vets
Thank you signs are everywhere
Mount Prospect Bandshell hosts Memorial Day Events
Helmet on gun marks death of soldier

July 4th in Mount Prospect loves the July 4th parades and Lions festival with its fireworks.  On this page are an assortment of parade pictures taken by generous Mount Prospect parade goers.  This page features fireworks display taken by Alan Wilks who is a wonderful spirit on this journey.

Mayor Wilks and daughter, Jolin Wilks McElroy

 

Irvana rides in convertible with Niece Kirsten Cochran, Alan Wilks and driver Fred Steinmiller
Alan and I are joined with Alan’s Brother Larry Wilks

Remembering 9/11 Attack

Ten Years RememberingOn the Tenth Anniversary of the 9/11 Terror Attack, as Mayor I wrote and read a tribute of remembering which is in a link of Ten Years Remembering.

Mount Prospect Veterans bring flags to open 9/11 ceremony –

Since the 9/11 Terror Attack the Village of Mount Prospect has held a ceremony to remember the fallen.  Upon learning of the attack in 2001, Mount Prospect gathered for a candlelight prayer service at the Memorial Band Shell.  In subsequent years commemorations were held with Fire Fighters, Police, clergy, elected officials and citizens coming together for fire-fighter-bell ringing at the times the towers fell.

Downtown Fire Station hosted Bell Ringing service
As Mayor, I thanked those serving as firemen and police
Fire Chief Michael Figolah made remarks
Deputy Police Chief Bob Rzepecki spoke of police deaths
Ceremony open to public who joined in Pledge of Allegiance 
Policemen and Firemen mark solemn time wearing black

Veterans Day – November 11

Veterans Day honors all veterans who served and serve our nation.  It is celebration of the military services who protect our precious freedoms.

DSC_3396-1
Irvana Wilks sits with veterans during Veterans Day Ceremony

Veterans organizations provide the program with inspirational speakers, music and prayers.  Also moving is the 21-gun salute and the playing of taps to honor The Fallen and those veterans who have passed away.

Mount Prospect students are always at the program.

The children bring hand-colored notes to give to all of the veterans.  One of my favorite sights is veterans being besieged by students, and their pockets stuffed with thank-you cards.

If you are unable to attend a Veterans Day Ceremony on November 11, say a prayer of thanks, raise your flag, or tell a veteran how their service has touched your life.