Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cougars to welcome Santa

The Kane County Cougars will host an opportunity for children to visit with Santa Dec. 13 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Children can meet Santa and Ozzie Cougar, the team’s mascot, from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. The event also will include a variety of children’s activities. Admission is free, but there is a $5 fee for those participating in the ornament and cooking decorating activities. Visitors are encouraged to bring gently-used winter coats and clothing for donation to local families in need. For more information about the event, call the Cougars at 630-232-8811.

Redbirds to play in FCS quarterfinals Dec. 13
The Illinois State University Redbirds will play Eastern Washington University Dec. 13 in  the FCS quarterfinals. The game will begin at 3 p.m. CT and will be aired on ESPN3. the football team finished the 2014 regular season 11-1 overall, 7-1 in conference play. Coach Brock Spack’s Redbirds defeated Northern Iowa, 41-21, Dec. 6 in the NCAA Division I FSC playoffs to advance to the quarterfinals. The Redbirds and Northern Illinois University, which will play Marshall in the Boca Raton Bowl Dec. 22, provided football fans in Illinois something to cheer about during the 2014 season. We can't say as much about the NFL team that plays in Chicago.

Train show to stop at DuPage County Fairgrounds
The Great Midwest Train Show will be conducted Dec. 14 at the DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. The show be open 9:30 a.m. to 3 pm. and will feature more than 100 vendors. The show includes train displays and attractions for all ages. Admission is $7 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted free. Parking is free. 
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

A few final moments with November

November is one of my favorite months, and I regret seeing the 2014 edition reach its end.

It’s not just November that I enjoy. The calendar’s final quarter — October, November and December — is my favorite time of the year. It’s just that November typically fires in me an intense sense of reflection and gratitude.

The gratitude part I try to express throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving Day. November in northern Illinois typically includes the end of the fall harvest. There’s much to be grateful for during the annual process, and I deeply appreciate our nation's farmers.

We also typically experience consistently colder temperatures in November in northern Illinois, and we take seriously the change of seasons. Early October can present some warm days here, which I do value, but November’s temperatures help us develop an appreciation for sturdy boots and heavy sweatshirts.

I enjoy walking, both for exercise and relaxation. I particularly enjoy walking during the early evening hours throughout the year. I walk through residential neighborhoods and many of neighbors make frequent use of their indoor fireplaces beginning in November. I always enjoy the fragrant smell of burning wood while completing my walks.

October and December are busy months for Lori and me. We celebrate several birthdays in those months, observe a wedding anniversary in October and joyously mark the birth of Jesus Christ in December.

November is a comparatively quiet month for us, with the notable exception of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. November provides us a fine opportunity to recover from October’s schedule and prepare, physically and mentally, for December’s hectic pace.

I suppose I value November so much because it provides me 30 days to reflect and refresh before I rush through December, celebrate Christmas and welcome a new year.

While I hesitate to release November, I realize none of us can slow time’s relentless march. In a few hours November will give way to December and 2014’s few remaining days.

I will pause later tonight to offer a final thank you to November, and then I will prepare to embrace December as we move forward, ever forward.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Peaceful Parlour owner has sense for marketing

    Shari Ralish, owner of Peaceful Parlour in Geneva, talks tea with a guest at the Geneva Public Library.                                                                                              Kevin Botterman photo

     Shari Ralish is a retailer with a keen sense for community-oriented marketing.
     Ralish owns Peaceful Parlour, 212 S. Third St. in downtown Geneva, an “eco-chic  boutique” she opened five years ago, during the early days of the Great Recession.
     Ralish partnered with the Geneva Public Library to provide tea service during a Civil War history presentation Nov. 8 at the library.
     During a program intermission, Ralish poured a variety of teas for audience members, explained characteristics of each offering and managed to share information about her business.
     “It’s a nice opportunity to meet people and tell them about my business,” Ralish said during a lull in the tea service.
     The tea proved popular with the audience. Several guests returned to the service table for refills or to sample another tea. Most asked questions about the teas and inquired about the business hours at Ralish’s shop.
     “It’s all very informal, and everyone seems comfortable asking questions,” Ralish said. “They learn about my products, and find a one or two they really enjoy.”
     Ralish said it is important for business owners to identify ways to build relationships with new customers while reinforcing existing ties, particularly during a weak economy.

     During the summer months, Ralish offers a series of musical programs on the grounds outside her shop and frequently hosts special events inside the store.
     The Civil War program was Ralish's second opportunity to share tea and product information at the library. She presented a program last January devoted to tea.
     “Attendance exceeded our expectations. We shared a lot of information and started some good relationships. It was wonderful” Ralish said.
     Kimberly Gotches, a public relations and outreach coordinator at the library, said Ralish’s program last January was so popular it serves as a model for the type of programming the library seeks to present in partnership with local businesses.
     The library encourages local businesses to submit program proposals, said Gotches. A popular program can offer benefits for everyone involved, she said.

     To learn more about Peaceful Parlour, call Ralish at 630-232-6300. For more information about the library's outreach efforts, call 630-232-0780.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Museum, St. Charles Singers offer holiday programs

Submitted photo
Ellwood House offers holiday mansion tour
     Our friends at the Ellwood House Museum in DeKalb say they are ready for the museum’s annual holiday mansion tours beginning Nov. 15 and continuing through Nov. 30 on select dates. 
     The tours are a holiday tradition for many area residents, and the museum is one of our favorites. Visitors can enjoy a room-by-room tour of all four floors in the mansion. Each room is decorated for the holidays. The museum also will host a holiday open house weekend beginning Dec. 5 to Dec. 7. 
     The museum is operated by the DeKalb Park District and reflects the key role Isaac Ellwood played in the development of the barbed wire industry in the United States. The tours offer a glimpse of local history and are a wonderful way start the holiday season. For more information call 815-756-4609.

St. Charles Singers set annual Christmas performance
     Our friends at the St. Charles Singers tell us they will present the 31st annual Candlelight Carols Christmas program at 3 p.m. Dec. 7 at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave. in downtown St. Charles. 

     The program will include 18 songs from the Renaissance era to today. Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for senior ages 65 and older and $10 for students.

Fall weekends mean football

Here are some of the football games we’ll be following this weekend. Hope you enjoy the contests:

Youngstown State at Illinois State

Iowa at Minnesota
Michigan at Northwestern
Ohio State at Michigan St.
Penn State at Indiana
TCU at Kansas State
Auburn at Texas A&M
Notre Dame at Arizona State
Baylor at Oklahoma

Chicago at Green Bay
St. Louis at Arizona

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Program to feature Kane County history

 Historical society to present The History of Medicine in Kane County
The Aurora Historical Society will host the History of Medicine in Kane County, featuring Dr. Wayne Polek of the Kane County Medical Society. Polek will discuss developments in medicine since the Civil War. The program will be presented at 2 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Place, Aurora. Admission is $5. For more information, call 630-906-0650.

Albright to stage 'The Memory of Water'
The Albright Theatre Company in Batavia will present “The Memory of Water” starting Nov. 1 and continuing on select dates through Nov. 15. The production is directed by Veronica Krystal and features Antonia Arellano, Shelly Rolf, Cara Schuster, Michelle Bennett, Michael Yoder and Richard Holloman. The Albright Theater is located at 100 Island Ave. in downtown Batavia. For more information, call 630-406-8838.

Library to host Civil War presentation 

The Geneva Public Library, 127 James St., Geneva, will a host a presentation Nov. 8 about the role Illinois soldiers played in the battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson during the Civil War. Local historian Bill Lax will deliver the presentation at noon. Lax is a member of the Northern Illinois Civil War Round Table. The program will include music of the Civil War, and Shari Ralish, owner of Peaceful Parlour in Geneva, will serve tea. Admission is free, but registration is encouraged. For more information, call the library at 630-232-0780. 

Some of the football games we’ll be following this weekend: 
Nov. 1
Illinois State at Northern Iowa
Northwestern at Iowa
Maryland at Penn State
Indiana at Michigan
Oregon at Stanford

Nov. 2
Denver at New England
Arizona at Dallas

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Friday, October 24, 2014

K.Hollis to welcome Congressman Hultgren

K.Hollis to welcome Congressman Hultgren
Our friends at K.Hollis Jewelers will host a gathering with Congressman Randy Hultgren at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 30. The event is open to the public, and light refreshments will be served. K.Hollis Jewelers is located at 147 S. Randall Road, Batavia. For more information, call 630-879-8003.

Cantigny Park to host Veterans Day 5K run, pancake breakfast
Cantigny Park will conduct its annual Veterans Day 5K Run/Walk at 9 a.m. Nov. 1. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Wheaton. In conjunction with the event, American Legion Cantigny Post 556 will host a pancake breakfast from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park’s visitors center. The breakfast will include eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy. For more information, call 630-260-8167.

Football we'll be following
Here are some of the football games we’ll be following this weekend. Enjoy the fun.

Oct. 25:
Minnesota at Illinois
Rutgers at Nebraska
NIU at Eastern Michigan
Missouri State at Illinois State

Oct. 26
Bears at Patriots
Green Bay at New Orleans

Oct. 27
Washington at Dallas

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Redbirds' success worthy of more attention

Brock Spack, Illinois State University football coach.

Illinois State University’s football team is 6-0 (3-0) as of Oct. 18, but many in Illinois, including many football fans, are not aware of the Redbirds’ success.

That’s too bad. Success should be applauded and studied, I think, and Brock Spack, ISU’s head coach, has the school’s football program on a winning path. Spack, a Rockford native, took over the ISU program in 2009. In 2012, Spack’s Redbirds posted a 9-4 record and their fourth consecutive winning season. ISU stumbled in 2013, finishing 5-6 overall. However, 2014 sees the Redbirds back to their winning ways.

ISU is ranked No. 9 in the nation in the FCS Coaches’ Poll and is tied with undefeated North Dakota State at the top of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. 

The Redbirds’ stats are impressive. The team posts points in every quarter of every game, and has outscored opponents 253 total points to 83. The Redbirds have a red-zone scoring average of 86% (61% touchdowns). ISU averages 42.2 points per game, mostly through rushing. 

I think it’s important to note Spack also recruits heavily in the state. Illinois residents make up nearly half of the team's player roster. Fox Valley residents might be interested to know the ISU team includes Barry Brannon of St. Charles, Christian Gibbs and Scott Kuehn of Aurora, Bryce Holm of Oswego, and Matt Biegalski of Winfield.

The Redbirds will host Missouri State, 4-3 (1-2) at 6 p.m. Oct. 25. It’s one of the games we will be following this weekend. Win or lose Saturday, we plan to follow the Redbirds through the remainder of the season.

We hope Spack and his Redbirds keep posting wins, and we hope the team receives the support and attention it deserves.

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