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

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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Monday, February 3, 2014

Remembering Buddy, Ritchie and the Big Bopper

Buddy Holly
Feb. 3. 2014 marks the 55th anniversary of the day early rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. ‘The Big Bopper’ Richardson died in a plane crash in 1959, following a performance in Clear Lake, Iowa. The event is known in rock 'n' roll history as ‘the day the music died.’ 

Ritchie Valens
I was born a couple of years after the three were killed and grew up listening to the Beatles and other rock musicians of the late 1960s. I wasn't familiar with Holly, Valens, the Big Bopper and other performers of the late 1950s and early 1960s until 1975, when I was a freshman at Arlington High School. 

I learned about rock's early years through WVVX 103.1 FM, a Highland Park radio station that back then offered an odd program schedule that featured song's from rock's early years late at night, but switched to foreign-language programs during the day. The radio station's playlist included top hits as well as some obscure titles.

I was fascinated and entertained by most of the music. I developed a serious interest in what became known as rock's formative years and listened to that music almost exclusively throughout high school.

I pause each year to remember the lives lost in that 1959 plane crash. Over the years I have pondered the impact the event had on the history of rock and roll, but mostly I just make an effort to listen to the music these artists left us. I think their music is important (and remains popular) because the lyrics speak of experiences common to generations of American teens. With all of that stated, here are a few modest observations.

I think most rock fans know Holly for ‘Peggy Sue,’ and ‘That Will be the Day,’ but 1957’s ‘Not Fade Away,’ is one of my favorite Holly songs, though not as popular as his other hits. Holly's life and short career was dramatized in the 1978 movie 'The Buddy Holly Story,' which received an Oscar nomination for actor Gary Busey's work in the leading role.

Valens (Richard Steven Valenzuela) is probably best remembered for his 1958 recording of ‘La Bamba,’ which Rolling Stone magazine included in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Times

I always enjoy listening to ‘La Bamba,’ but I prefer the melancholy ‘Donna’ and the up-tempo ‘Come On Let’s Go.’ Actor Lou Diamond Phillips portrayed Valens in the 1987 film ‘La Bamba.’

'The Big Bopper' 
The Big Bopper is remembered for ‘Chantilly Lace,’ a rollicking recording of a rockin’ phone call. I also enjoy ‘The Big Bopper’s Wedding,’ a toe-tapper about a groom getting cold feet during the wedding ceremony.

Whether you're a longtime fan of these artists or unfamiliar with their work, I hope you'll take a few minutes to listen to the songs highlighted above. I think you'll enjoy the sounds. I also hope we will continue to remember three talented musicians who made history during rock 'n' roll's early years. 

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

O' Solo Mio to host Wine and Canvas event

O’ Sole Mio Gelato Cafe, 27 N. River St. in downtown Batavia will host another Wine & Canvas session from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30. A local artist will lead participants with step-by-step instructions for creating a painting. Registration is required and can be completed at

Military fest in St. Charles
Pheasant Run Resort and Conference Center, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, will host the annual Military Fest Friday, Jan. 31 to Sunday, Feb. 2. The fest will feature workshops, demonstrations,   music and other attractions. The festival is open from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 for adults. Veterans and children ages 15 and younger are admitted free. A three-day pass is available for $30.

Church to host used book sale
Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles will conduct a used  book sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1. The church is located at 307 Cedar Ave. in downtown St. Charles. Proceeds from the sale will benefit tornado relief efforts in Illinois. For more information, call 630-584-6680.

Park District to host Super Shuffle 5K
The Geneva Park District will host the annual Super Shuffle 5K at 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 2 at Geneva Middle School South, 1415 Viking Drive, Geneva. Check-in will begin at 8:45 a.m. Awards will be presented to top male and female finishers. For more information, call 630-232-4542 or go to

Gibby’s partners with Graham’s for wine and chocolate event 
Gibby’s Wine Den in Geneva will partner with Graham’s Fine Chocolate Saturday, Feb. 1 for an event featuring wines paired with hand-dipped chocolates. The event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at Gibby’s, 1772 S. Randall Road. Tickets are $35 and must be purchased in advance. Attendees must age 21 or older. For more information, call 630-208-6424.

In case you missed these items:
• The Batavia Chamber of Commerce recently named Holly Deitchman the group’s new executive director, replacing Roger Breisch. Deitchman is the station manager at Batavia Access Television and is scheduled to start at the chamber Feb. 10. For more about the appointment, click here.

• Congratulations to John Carr of Batavia on being honored as Illinois Veteran of the Month on Jan. 22. The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs presented Carr with a plaque honoring his work on behalf of veterans through his role as superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Kane County. Carr served with the Army in Vietnam. About 75 veterans attended presentation ceremony, according to a report in the Aurora Beacon-News.

• Batavia aldermen recently approved a measure that would provide $100,000 in financial assistance to Gaetano and Wendy DiBenedetto for an Italian restaurant at 15 E. Wilson St. in downtown Batavia. The site is the former home of the The Rhino Room. The package includes a $25,000 tax increment financing district grant and a $75,000 loan. The DiBenedettos plan to open Gaetano’s Batavia later this year. The couple owns Gaetano’s in Forest Park.

• Nabisco recently announced plans to launch two new flavors of its Oreo cookie. The company will launch a marshmallow crisply cookie and a cookie dough version Feb. 3. The new flavors will be available for a limited time, according to Nabisco. I am willing to sample the new cookies when they are available. I will be happy to share my opinion of the cookies, but I probably will not share the cookies. 

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