Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nursery's exhibit features Anne F. Hanley's work

Our friends at the Wasco Nursery & Garden Center, 41W781 Route 64 in Campton Hills, will host Gallery of Nature, an exhibit featuring the work of Anne F. Hanley, through May 1. Hanley is a Batik artist and a Wheaton resident. After the long winter we just experienced, it sure is nice to savor the pleasant aspects of the outdoors, like gardening. For more information about the exhibit, call the nursery at 630-584-4424.  

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Coffee with Ogden, frugal man of the people

    I recently visited with my friend Ogden Botts at a local coffeehouse. Our visit started with small talk about the winter weather, but quickly turned to politics, typical fodder for any chat with Ogden.

    Ogden talked about Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, and his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner.

    “What a sad pair of candidates,” Ogden said. “A Democrat incumbent who thinks he’s governing under the same conditions that existed in the late 1980s and a millionaire who has never held a public office before, but has given money to Democrats and Republicans. What did we do to deserve this?”

    The negative tone of Ogden’s comment surprised me. A retired businessman, Ogden is usually optimistic in his outlook and opinions.

    “You’re a Republican,” I said. “I know you don’t agree with Quinn. He’s a Democrat, but how can you talk this way about your party’s candidate?”

    Ogden shook his head and chuckled a moment — actually, it was more a menacing laugh — but then he abruptly went silent.

    “I’m a conservative, not a Republican,” Ogden growled. “There’s a big difference, particularly here in Illinois.”

    I thanked him for the clarification, but noted he once told me he rarely, if ever, voted for Democrats.

    “Oh, I frequently vote for Republican candidates so I can see how you would assume I am Republican,” he said. “But I am not a member of the Republican Party, and I never identify myself as a Republican.

    “Of course, I would never call myself a Democrat, particularly now. That party cares about everything but the public checkbook and how to handle it responsibly,” Ogden said.

    “Hell, no. I am neither a Democrat or a Republican,” Ogden declared.

    “OK,” I said to him. “You’re an independent voter, right?” 

    Ogden shook his head, but there was no menacing laugh this time.

    “I’m beyond all those labels, and I think I am in good company,” he said. “I think there is a growing number of voters who are just fed up with party labels and the mismanagement that exists at all levels of government.”

    He paused, looked around the room and then started talking again, but at a slower pace.

    “You see, many voters, people just like you and me, realize we can’t continue to allow government to keep growing the way that it is, and we can’t allow this reckless, irresponsible spending to continue,” he said.

    “We need to drop the partisanship. We need to elect individuals who embrace living frugal,” he said.

    “That’s it,” I said. “You are a frugal voter, and you’re in search of a frugal party.”

    Ogden smiled. He sat back in his chair, took a long sip of his coffee, and looked at the ceiling for a long moment.

    “You are correct,” he said.

    “I am a frugal voter, and I intend now to set out to organize and activate other frugal voters,” Ogden said. “Are you with me?” 

    It was then my turn to take a long sip of coffee and look at the ceiling.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Albright to stage 'The Curious Savage'

    The Albright Theatre Company will present its production of “The Curious Savage” beginning May 2 and continuing on select dates through May 17.
    The play tells the story of Mrs. Savage, a recently widowed millionaire who wishes to use her wealth to help others pursue their dreams. However, her stepchildren have other plans for the money and scheme to have her committed to a sanitarium. 
    The production is directed by Jana Sanders and Heidi Swarthout.The show will be presented at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. For more information or to order tickets, call 630-406-8838. The theater is located at 100 N. Island Ave. in downtown Batavia.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

McNally's Irish Pub to present Kevin Flynn and the Avondale Ramblers March 13

McNally’s Irish Pub in St. Charles will start St. Patrick’s Day weekend Thursday, March 13 with a show featuring Kevin Flynn and the Avondale Ramblers. The Chicago performers will take the stage at 9 p.m. Flynn and the fun-loving Avondale Ramblers are known for rowdy, up-tempo numbers such as “I Love Whiskey,” and “The Road I Walk.”  I particularly enjoy the band's rendition of "The Minstrel Boy." The show is for ages 21 and older. McNally’s is located at 109 W. Main St., St. Charles.
In case you missed these items:
• Batavia aldermen voted 7-2 March 11 to recommend an electric rate package that includes a 6.5 percent electric rate increase this year and a 6.5 percent rate increase in 2015. The package also includes a $4 a month increase to customer charge and a half-cent increase to the city's home-rule sale tax in 2014. The package recommendation is set to be considered by the full Batavia City Council Monday, March 17. The proposed package was presented to help the city meet higher energy costs and expenses related to its ownership in the Prairie State Energy campus in downstate Illinois. Second Ward Alderman Marty Callahan and 3rd Ward Alderman Kyle Hohmann voted against the proposals. To read a Kane County Chronicle report about the vote, click here.
Mooseheart's boys basketball team defeated Lanark Eastland, 51-49, March 11 to earn an opportunity to play for the IHSA Class 1A state championship Friday, March 14 against Mendon Unity. The trip to the state contest is the first for the Red Ramblers' basketball program. 
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Monday, March 10, 2014

The Arcada Theatre to host Gordon Lightfoot

    The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles will welcome singer/storyteller Gordon Lightfoot for a performance at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 15. Lightfoot achieved superstar status with hits such as "If You Could Read My Mind," "Sundown," "Carefree Highway," and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Tickets start at $39. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 630-962-7000. The Arcada is located at 105 E. Main St. in downtown St. Charles. 

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

City's proposed electricity rate hike in the spotlight

Batavia city officials will conduct a public meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday Feb. 24 to discuss a proposed electric rate increase and a possible half-cent hike in the city’s sales tax to cover electricity costs and related obligations incurred through the city’s involvement in the Northern Illinois Municipal Power Agency (NIMPA) and Prairie State Energy Campus in downstate Illinois. 

The meeting should be a good opportunity for Batavia residents and business owners (more on this group below) to learn why the city’s has increased electric rates four times since 2006 and why rates need to be increased in 2014. I think Batavia officials can do much more to share information with the public (the city's website is overdue for an overhaul), but this public meeting is a step in the right direction. 

Proposed sales-tax hike concerns business owners
Friends in the Batavia business community tell me many business owners oppose a possible half-cent increase in the city’s sale tax, as discussed above. I spoke with several business owners during the past — each asked that I not identify them here  — and they shared some common concerns.

The business owners believe a hike in sales tax will make it tougher for them to compete with businesses in other communities. That’s a practical concern.  They fear a tax increase tied to electricity costs will never be rescinded and might be increased in the future. They also think a tax hike, combined with the city’s high electric rates, will make Batavia less attractive to new businesses or businesses looking to relocate to Batavia. They told me they have shared these concerns with city staff and aldermen.

City officials argue a hike in the sales tax would allow them to limit the increase in the electricity rate to 10 percent. Without the hike in the sales tax, the rate increase would be 16 percent, according to city officials. Business owners said combining a tax hike with a rate increase only confuses matters and keeps ratepayers from understanding the true cost of Batavia's electricity. They have a point.

What I found particularly interesting about the concerns the business owners shared with me is how their take on all of this contrasts with the version some Batavia aldermen shared with me in recent days. Aldermen I spoke with told me they have heard few objection about the proposed tax increase from the business community. Makes me wonder why their is such disparity between the two versions.

Research group issues report about Batavia’s energy costs
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis recently released Overpriced Energy: Why Batavia is Paying so Much for Electricity, an eight-page analysis of Batavia’s contract with the Prairie State Energy Campus. The report offers interesting information and some grim conclusions. I encourage Batavia ratepayers to read the report. 


Restaurant Week returns to St. Charles
More than 30 restaurants are set to take part in the annual St. Charles Restaurant Week, starting Monday, Feb. 24 and continuing through Friday, Feb. 28. Diners can receive a 25 percent discount on dine-in meal purchases by presenting a special coupon for the event. For more information, including a list of participating restaurants go to 

Kane County Chronicle launches Election Central

The Kane County Chronicle recently launched Election Central 2014, a web page containing information about the candidates in the March 18 primary elections and the questions that will appear on local ballots. The Chronicle does a fine job covering state and local races, so be sure to visit Election Central. Get yourself informed about the candidates and the issues they’re talking about during this election cycle. 

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Orchids, 'Peter Pan' and animal tracks

The Batavia Orchid Society will host its annual Chicago Suburban Orchid Show and Sale Saturday, Feb. 15 and Sunday, Feb. 16 at the DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. The event will include thousands of orchids, demonstrations, displays and more. Shoppers will find plants, books, supplies and other merchandise for sale. Admission and parking are free. The show will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. 

Theater group to stage 'Peter Pan'
Spotlight Youth Theater will present its production of “Peter Pan’ beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 and continuing on select dates through Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre, 1201 W. Main St., Batavia. The production features performers ages 5 to 18. For ticket information and show times, call 847-516-2298, or go to www.spotlight.org.

Church to host Taize worship service
Our friends at the Congregational Church of Batavia will conduct a Taize worship service at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14. All are welcome. The church is located at 21 S. Batavia Ave. in downtown Batavia. For more information, call 630-879-1999.

Corron Farm to offer Animal Tracks program
Campton Township will offer Animal Tracks, a family wildlife program Saturday, Feb. 15 at Corron Farm 7N761 Corron Road in Campton Hills. Guest naturalist Brock Moran will share information about local animals and lead participants on a hike through the farm. Admission is free. The program will be offered in two sessions. The first session will begin at 8 a.m. and is designed for children ages 10 and older. The second session will begin at 10 a.m. and is for children ages 9 and younger. Reservations are encouraged. For more information or to register for the program, call 630-387-1016.

Forest preserve district sets program at Pioneer Sholes School
Our friends at the Forest Preserve District of Kane County sent word of their Winter Open House from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 and Sunday, Feb 16 at the Pioneer Sholes School, an 1872 one-room school, in the LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, 37W700 Dean St., St. Charles. The event will include educational displays, songs, and crafts. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. The Durant House Museum, located near the schoolhouse, also will be open for tours. For more information, call 630-762-9746

Bethany Lutheran to host movie night
Bethany Lutheran Church in Batavia will screen a movie at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16. All are welcome. Snacks will be provided but visitors may bring some to share. For more information about the event, call 630-879-3444. The church is located at 8 S. Lincoln St., Batavia.

Rauner to speak at Batavia event
Bruce Rauner, a Republican candidate for governor in the March 18 primary elections, will speak at an open house Saturday, Feb. 15 at Water Street Studios, 160 S. Water St. in downtown Batavia. The open house is set for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free and light refreshments will be served.

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