Another year of "Talk of the Town" enters the history books, and it was another year in which literally hundreds of local names and places made their way into the column.
Here's a sampling of the topics that surfaced in 2012.
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Use abandoned rail:
Reader Phil Kessler proposed that the abandoned Union Pacific rail line crossing the Fox River near Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles could be converted into a linear park for area residents to enjoy.
Turns out, St. Charles city and park officials have already been exploring such an option and plan to continue talks with Union Pacific and the county regarding land parcels and other issues that would have to be negotiated to make such a project unfold.
Linear parks have become popular spots in various large cities when abandoned rail lines become lined with plants and benches to create a scenic walkway.
Corral opening date:
Area residents, especially Batavians, participated in a frustrating guessing game about when the Golden Corral restaurant on Randall Road and Main Street might actually open. After years of speculation, franchise owner Sam Gibson finally opened the place in the fall.
Are you OK?:
Readers kept asking me if I was OK, mainly because they noticed my Wednesday column was no longer appearing. While I continued to write my Sunday column, and some sports stories for the Daily Herald as a freelancer, the second column in the week became a little more than my schedule would allow. My full-time job calls for a daily commute to Chicago, which makes for long days.
Genevans' star dance
Former 1980s Geneva football standout Derek Swanson and his dance partner, Laura Rush of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, teamed up to garner the most votes in the annual Dancing with the Geneva Stars competition. They did it with a lot of fan support prior to the event, but also with a good showing on the dance floor that night.
Hideaway no more:
Readers were plenty sad to see the Hideaway in St. Charles Township close. The restaurant held the claim to infamy of being the spot Al Capone used as a moonshine hideout when the heat was on in Chicago.
All that jazz:
Geneva High School senior James Bartusek won first place in a jazz competition at Buddy Guy's in Chicago. He was competing with his alto saxophone in the 18 to 22 age group for the first time.
So long, Davy:
Local Monkees fans, especially Arcada Theatre owner Ron Onesti, were saddened by the death of frontman Davy Jones, who had performed numerous times in the area.
Keeping barber ties:
Teri DeBates became the new owner of Wes's Barbershop on Main Street in St. Charles, but kept Glen Cunningham on as one of the barbers. It was a good move, as the popular Cunningham kept longtime customers comfortable in knowing they'd still recognize the place.
TriCity Family Services said goodbye to retiring clinical director Tom Dewese after 28 years of service for the agency and countless hours of helping adults and young people face their challenges.
Geneva Book Club: The ladies of the Geneva Book Club marked their 40th anniversary of reading books, drinking wine and taking part in lively discussions. The club didn't provide statistics on which of those things they spent the most time.
Rain Man in repair:
Those who spend time near the Metra Station in downtown Geneva may have noticed that the nearby Rain Man statue no longer had an umbrella. Rain Man was a victim of vandals during the summer, and the city removed the statue weeks ago to fix it.
Main Street work:
Commuters on the east side of St. Charles during rush hour, or any hour really, were counting the minutes until roadwork along Main Street was completed. The south side was finally finished a few weeks ago, but the reality is the north side of Main Street is a mess and has to be worked on at some point as well. The Red Gate Road bridge, opened a few weeks ago, didn't come a moment too soon.
Family cancer battle:
Judy Sarvas of St. Charles shared her story about her family's unfortunate and fatal battles with pancreatic cancer, a disease that eventually attacked her as well.
She has devoted her life to raising awareness of this deadly disease so that more people can be screened, and such awareness could lead to more funding for a cure.
An Elburn favorite:
There is hope going into 2013 that the historic Fishermen's Inn restaurant in Elburn could make a comeback and reopen before summer. Mark and Patricia Southern of Hinckley purchased the restaurant, which has been closed since 2009, in an attempt to bring it back to its past glories and honor Patricia's great uncle, Ralph Schleifer, who operated the place for years.
Angel tree drive:
And even though the national news was troubling most of the time, we ended the local year on a good note with stuff like this: The St. Charles East Student Council supported the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Drive by purchasing Christmas gifts for 100 children.
Keep in touch:
Have a great 2013 and keep sending your ideas and thoughts for this column to my email address. That's the best way to keep the local names and places flowing freely in "Talk of the Town."