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posted: 3/31/2010 12:01 AM

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  • Frank Ferguson of the James Street Homeowners Association in Geneva volunteers his time to plant a flower bed last April at the corner of James and Third Street in downtown Geneva.

      Frank Ferguson of the James Street Homeowners Association in Geneva volunteers his time to plant a flower bed last April at the corner of James and Third Street in downtown Geneva.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

I read, hear and see a lot on this job.

And sometimes, it just doesn't fit into regular news stories.

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Kind of like that dab of mashed potatoes left over after dinner - wasteful to throw away, but not enough for another meal.

So I'm going to start presenting some dabs here occasionally.

Your tax dollars at work: I love when stories fall in to my lap while I'm just living my everyday life.

Like this week, when I dropped by the utility billing office in Batavia to pay my monthly water-and-electricity tab. There, where the bowl of candy usually is, was a stack of U.S. Census T-shirts. And travel mugs. And black nylon drawstring bags.

Turns out that as an official U.S. Census partner, Batavia got swag to hand out to encourage us to fill out the forms. (Like the preview letter and the follow-up postcard we've received in the mail aren't enough.)

As I debated whether to take a T-shirt or a mug, the ladies behind the counter urged me: "Please. Take BOTH."

Batavia's not the only town around here with census items. Geneva, also an official census partner, received T-shirts, scarves, tumblers, packages of eyeglass-cleaning wipes, key chains and the like.

"I'd go out to my mailbox and there would be (another) package," said Stephanie Dawkins, assistant city administrator. "I'd think, 'Oh no, what did they send me now?'"

Some of the items have been given to Geneva High School students who participate in a mock city council program. The rest will be given away at the city's Earth Day celebration April 17.

I asked the Census Bureau how much the T-shirts and mugs cost, and how many are being given away. So far, officials have refused to answer, saying that is a "trade secret" of the vendors.

Water bill rising: Sugar Grove residents are likely to pay an extra $1 a month for water and sewer, if they don't sign up for direct-debit payments.

3,350 customers still pay in person, by mail or drop box. 750 customers use direct debit. The direct-debit customers don't need a return envelope on their bill, so that saves money, and all 750 transactions can be posted in 5 minutes. But it takes the village 1 to 2 minutes per bill to manually post the payments on the other accounts.

Trustees, looking at balancing a budget, favor charging the fee, which will start June 1.

Customers are actually going to pay more for water and sewage service - 7 percent more, come May 1.

Spring forth: Downtown Geneva will be beautified once again.

The Geneva Beautification Committee raised more than $4,200, in ticket sales and outright donations, at its "Pasta for Posies" spaghetti supper March 6, Alderman Dorothy Flanagan announced March 15.

The committee takes care of about 50 flower beds and containers, changing the plants three times a year.

Its first work session is at 8 a.m. April 10. To join the fun, meet the committee in front of the Geneva Post Office, Third and James streets. Bring a trowel, broom, rake and pruning shears.

Susan Sarkauskas covers Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Sugar Grove and Elburn. To reach her, e-mail ssarkauskas@dailyherald.com.

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