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updated: 3/23/2013 5:53 PM

Historical markers abound in Tri-Cities area

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  • A new historic marker sits in downtown St. Charles in front of the municipal center.

      A new historic marker sits in downtown St. Charles in front of the municipal center.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


Take me to a museum or zoo, and you're in for a long day. I'm the guy who tends to read all of the educational or historic markers when making my way past a display.

That includes all of the markers throughout the Tri-Cities area, including the most recent display in front of the St. Charles Municipal Center. That marker, with interesting notes about the 1836 saw mill in that location and a Main Street train accident in 1915, is the first of three that the Downtown St. Charles Partnership plans for residents and visitors.

The St. Charles markers join a host of others throughout the region, including the Batavia Riverwalk, Peck Farm, Fabyan Forest Preserve and Norris Woods, among others.

It's quite likely I've read them all, from information in Batavia about the windmill factories, to the quirky architecture around the Fabyan Villa. Go through Norris Woods, on Route 25 in St. Charles, and you'll learn the "Tale of the Trees" about the different species. It's possible you'll learn for the first time about "duckweed," that green stuff that grows on top of a pond.

Of course, with St. Charles having the most recent marker, it can also boast of the latest technology. The marker includes a quick-read -- QR -- code to scan with your smartphone to learn even more history.

Other than the obvious reason that the municipal center, built in 1940, houses the city government, planners of the historic marker project placed it at that site because the building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Friendly to arts: This event clearly represents how friendly the Tri-Cities is toward the arts.

The Geneva Film Festival unfolds again Thursday through Saturday at State Street Dance Studio, bringing films from directors around the world that most of us would never otherwise get a chance to enjoy. Get the details hereto see if anything piques your interest.

With the various arts councils, fine arts shows, exhibits, galleries, plays, concerts and films taking place on a regular basis around here, one would be hard pressed to find an area more in tune with the joy of the arts.

You have to include the work of the St. Charles Arts Council, Geneva Cultural Arts Commission, the Batavia's Water Street Studios and various other art shops and, of course, Ron Onesti and his Arcada Theatre operation in downtown St. Charles, to get the full picture.

Throw in events at Fermilab, Elgin Community College, Fox Valley Repertory, the Paramount Theater and Hemmens Auditorium, not to mention the work at area high schools, including Batavia High School's new fine arts theater, and you realize how lucky we are.

Walmart's large shadow: Batavia's Walmart continues to undergo its transformation into a superstore, the common tag when these places add a full-service grocery store. Or, it's an easy way to say the store is expanding from nearly 36,000 square feet to somewhere close to 190,000.

When the work is completed sometime in late summer or early fall, the store is surely going to cast a large shadow over nearby Dominick's on Randall Road.

Residents ponder the fate of other stores any time a Walmart opens in a city. Years ago, Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said that prices at competing stores generally get lower when a Walmart rears its powerful head.

Quite likely, that Dominick's savings card in your wallet may pack a little more punch in the near future if the managers of the Geneva store are authorized to adjust prices locally in light of more powerful competition.

Grocery store Oscar: So, with an expanded Walmart in Batavia on the horizon, what would that do to grocery competition in our household? With the nominees being Walmart, Woodman's, Butera, Dominick's, Jewel and Aldi, who wins for Best Grocery Store in a Leading Role at the Heun Household?

Envelope, please. And the winner is Aldi. That's where we shop the most often.

Seniors who volunteer: Know a senior citizen who donates time and talent to the local schools, hospitals and other organizations?

They might qualify as the Illinois Outstanding Senior Volunteer.

The Home Instead Senior Care organization sponsors the Salute to Senior Service program, which annually honors senior volunteers.

They'll accept nominations through March 31 for the honor, which results in a $500 for state winners and $5,000 for one national winner to donate to the winners' charities of choice.

To nominate a volunteer or get more information, check out the website.

Solid emergency crew: A special thanks to the St. Charles Fire Department paramedics who responded when my mother-in-law was going into heart failure late on a Friday night. They had things under control quickly in a highly professional manner and likely saved her life.

And they also got a dose of my mother-in-law. She may be the only person they've ever encountered who could hardly breathe, yet decided she had to go to the bathroom just before getting strapped onto the ambulance bed.

One paramedic who was outside came into the house and asked, "Where did she go?" When one of his fellow paramedics said she went to the bathroom, his response was, "Oh, geez."

My sentiments exactly.

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