For this undertaking, Bernardoni anything but scary

Brian Bernardoni (left) as Svengoolie

Most IAR members will know Government Affairs Director Brian Bernardoni (Chicago Association of REALTORS®) from the serious work he does with local government officials on real estate issues. But when it comes to Halloween, at his home in the village of Justice, it’s all about fun, family and friends.

“The politicians who follow me on Facebook often ask ‘How’s Halloween coming along?’” says Bernardoni. “This year I can tell them it’s coming along very well. We won first prize in the village’s Halloween House Decorating Contest!” Those who have learned about Bernardoni’s passions – the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, old horror movies – were probably not surprised to see him take a serious interest in decorating his home for Halloween four years ago. Bernardoni started by discussing the idea with his neighbors, “just to see how crazy we all were.”

In their first attempt, they garnered a third place in the village contest. The following two years they earned two second-place finishes before this year’s triumph. And he is very quick to explain that he couldn’t do so well without the creativity, cooperation and muscle of his neighbors.

This year, his garage is divided into four rooms: an executioner’s chamber; a Dr. Frankenstein Laboratory with a Frankenstein monster; a tribute to Chicagoland television icon, Svengoolie; and a “Don’t wake the baby” room, made up of a variety of mysterious, sometimes grotesque, toy baby dolls. The front yard looks like an old cemetery with a mausoleum, fog and large spider webs. The side yard has numerous places for people in costumes to hide, with several skeletons hung in different places. The back yard has an outdoor movie theater theme with a large canvas hung over a swingset and hay bales for seating. Inside his home, he’s set up a real coffin, with the room decorated for an old-fashioned wake. He also has a rocking chair that he obtained from the Lizzy Borden estate. With four daughters (ages 16, 7, 5 and 3), Bernardoni says he resists the idea of making his haunted house scary for children who visit. In fact, his three youngest daughters will escort visitors through the yards and inside their home. “They aren’t scared of anything we have,” Bernardoni said. “In fact, they’re at the point where they ask ‘What kind of dumb things will Dad come up with next?’” Over the years, their decorations have drawn the attention from WGN television and Univision (Spanish television). One of his favorite anecdotes is the closing comment from the Univision reporter who said, “That guy’s wife is a saint.” Neighbors also appreciate how quickly all the decorations are dismantled every year. This year, they will gone by Monday.

In memoriam: Former Rockford AE Terrie Hall dies

Terrie Hall, who led the Rockford Area REALTORS® as association executive for nearly a decade, died Thursday, the association told members in an email today.

Terrie Hall, former CEO of Rockford REALTORS®

Hall joined the Rockford association in 1983 where she worked as an IT specialist. She was named association executive in 1998 and retired in 2007.

“Terrie’s desire to help REALTORS® become successful in their day-to-day operations, her maternal personality, and her vivacious humor will be remembered by all,” according to a statement issued by the association Thursday afternoon.

She had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

After Hall found out she had ALS, she worked to create a support group for those stricken with the disease in the Rockford area.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.


Clayton, Myers named to panel charting future of area near IAR HQ

A block which includes the former Springfield YWCA building (in foreground) is targeted for development. Two with IAR ties are on a panel that will come up with recommendations for what could go on the block which is adjacent to IAR's headquarters on South Fifth Street. Photo/Jon Broadbooks

A common question asked by visitors to IAR’s headquarters in Springfield is what is the big, abandoned ugly brick building across the street?

It’s a former YWCA that closed and has sat vacant for years. It’s taken a beating, even getting struck by a lightning bolt that blasted off part of a cornice two years ago. It stands out even more because it is north of the Executive mansion, which has beautiful landscaping, and just northwest of IAR’s sleek HQ.

While the building is no architectural gem, the land on which it sits has development potential. The city recently purchased the entire block, and is looking for a large scale project to place there.

The city of Springfield has formed the North Mansion Block Advisory Committee to develop a recommended framework for development. Springfield Mayor Michael Houston appointed IAR CEO Gary Clayton and REALTOR® Steve Myers to the panel.

It’s not clear whether the hulking YWCA building would be razed. Published reports indicate a mixed-use development might be a good fit for the property.

Seven days left to use your REALTOR® voice

With a week to decide who you’ll vote for in the Illinois General Election Nov. 4, the IAR encourages you to make your voice heard on the local, state and national levels!

However, if circumstances prevent you from going to your polling place next Tuesday, the Illinois State Board of Elections can provide you with information that may help. Check out these approaching deadlines:

  • Thursday (Oct. 30) – the last day the election authority may receive absentee applications by mail from registered voters still in the United States.
  • Nov. 2 – the last day for early voting at permanent election authority locations.
  • Nov. 3 – the last day registered voters can apply in person for an absentee ballot.
  • Nov. 4 – the last day for grace period registration and for voting in general elections.

If you need contact information for state elected officials, the Illinois State Board of Elections provides an online tool for your computer or mobile device. Also, the Illinois REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) provides direct contributions to pro-REALTOR® candidates and asks IAR members to vote for candidates in “Opportunity Races.”

Typically, 75 percent of Illinois REALTORS® vote in elections. Please join us!

Springfield family moves into REALTOR®-built Habitat home

2014 IAR President Phil Chiles discusses the completion of a Habitat for Humanity home in Springfield. Chiles made the construction of three Habitat homes a focus of his presidency. (Image:

Illinois REALTORS® spearheaded an effort this summer to build a Habitat for Humanity home in Springfield.

On Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, the new owner took possession of the home located on East Enterprise Street. Rachel Creighton and her four children were the beneficiaries of the dwelling built as part of a project by Illinois REALTORS® to construct three Habitat homes in the state this year. (WICS story here)

A similar project in Murphysboro was completed over the summer. A third build is finishing up in Aurora.

IAR 2014 President Phil Chiles was the driving force behind the project. Chiles, a Springfield REALTOR® and builder, has had a long association with Habitat for Humanity projects, and serves on the board of Habitat for Humanity for Sangamon County.