In August, the McHenry City Council rejected a controversial plan to annex a proposed gravel mine to the city.

On Thursday, the same business owner who submitted that proposal, Jack Pease, joined McHenry County officials for a tour of gravel pits.

There is no connection between the two events, said Ron Raupp, co-chairman of the McHenry County Gravel Advisory Council.

“It was planned before Jack got denied by McHenry,” Raupp said at the end of the four-hour tour.

A packed charter bus brought McHenry County Board members, along with township and village officials, from the McHenry County Administration Building in Woodstock to gravel mines and an asphalt recycling plant on Route 23 near Marengo, and back through Algonquin and Cary to former mines now reclaimed for housing and recreation.

Raupp, emcee of the tour, is the aggregates division manager at Thelen Materials, which operates gravel mines in McHenry County. Other mining officials – all with a presence in the county – included Pease, Randi Wille of Holcim and Dan Polte of Polte Construction/Beverly Materials.

As the bus rolled on, Jason Thomason of the Illinois State Geological Survey spoke about why the county has much to offer in sand and gravel deposits.

“The landscape here has been studied for 60 years,” Thomason said.

When glaciers advanced into Illinois during the last ice age, and then receded 20,000 years ago, the ice left behind sand and gravel deposits in the county.

From Woodstock to the West, “you can see the results of the glacial history of the county,” Thomason said.

He pointed out the moraines – the spots where the glaciers stopped – and how the melting glacier formed the Kishwaukee River, leaving behind stone, gravel and sand deposits.

Now, Polte said, that aggregate is used for everything from sand for sand boxes to making bricks for houses.

“We are here to educate you, to recognize what we are doing, that we care” about the communities, Polte said. “We are not the bogeyman.”

The gravel advisory council, which sponsored the tour, was formed in 2003 as “a forum designed to focus on conflict resolution,” according to its website.

Some of that housing-boom-era conflict may have returned.

On Aug. 7, in front of a crowd of 300 mostly anti-gravel pit residents, the McHenry City Council did not reach the super-majority vote needed to approve annexation of 110 acres to McHenry at Route 120 and Chapel Hill Road.

Pease, owner of Super Aggregates, also sought a special-use permit to allow a wet dredge sand and gravel mine.

Pease will now take that request to McHenry County, along with two others.

Pease has purchased property for a potential mine at Main Street and Wilmot Road, between Fox Lake and Spring Grove. That purchase spurred the creation of Stop the Pit, a Facebook page dedicated to opposing mining there.

Pease also has been talking with Woodstock officials about expanding Super Aggregates’ Lily Pond facility on Lily Pond Road north of Route 14. All three proposals could go to the McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals in “a month or so,” Pease said.

After learning about how Pease, Holcim and Polte excavate and separate the various sand and gravel, those on the tour also heard about how one company recycles concrete and asphalt from Illinois roads.

The final portion of the tour drove through the Algonquin Lakes subdivision off Route 62. That subdivision was built on the site of a former quarry in the early 2000s, Wille said.

The adjacent Silverstone Lake subdivision in Carpentersville began construction at about the same time and also was the site of a former gravel mine.

The last stop was Cary’s Rotary Park – another former mine now reclaimed for recreation.

Those former massive gravel mines that no longer are producing represent an example of why his company is looking for new sites to mine, Pease said.

“You can’t find 800 acres on top of sand and gravel” for the large mines once common in past years, Pease said.

He and the other gravel executives talked during the tour about how gravel is needed for both housing and road construction, and the added cost if that gravel comes from sites farther away.

As the bus turned onto a particularly bumpy backroad on the way back to the McHenry County Administration Center, Woodstock Economic Development Director Garrett Anderson said roads are the “No. 1 complaint” residents make.

“If we have to get our aggregate from further away, that means more money, and we will build less miles of roads,” Anderson said.

Although neighbors may not want a new gravel pit near them, “every problem is next to somebody,” Anderson said.