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posted: 4/21/2013 5:43 AM

Downtown construction means changes for RiverFest

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  • Ted Siebert sculpts a monument to the Pride of the Fox's 30th annual RiverFest last year.

    Ted Siebert sculpts a monument to the Pride of the Fox's 30th annual RiverFest last year.
    Daily Herald File Photo


Because there will be some construction work around the St. Charles Municipal Center starting in late spring, the popular sand sculpture exhibit during the RiverFest event, June 7-10, will have to move.

Visitors who enjoy seeing the sand sculpture take shape during the festival will have to watch in the Szechwan Restaurant parking lot on the south side of Main Street and east side of Second Street.

In addition, the festival's main stage and music acts have a new home. The music venue moves to the grassy area just east of the First Street Plaza garage.

A few weeks ago, I tossed out the idea that a new city park with a band shell would look quite good in that location, considering original plans for more retail and office space seem unlikely.

Having music take center stage in that area will give us a good sense of whether that idea holds water.

Plus, a band shell in that spot eliminates the work of building a main stage for community festivals each summer.

One other interesting note about this change may require someone with more scientific knowledge to weigh in. One of the festival organizers said if the main stage were built to direct music out toward the river, it would cut down on noise in the downtown area.

Probably true, but it seems to me that a river somehow makes sound travel farther. So will St. Charles' noise somehow become Geneva's?

Club's nice honor: As a member of the Tri-Cities Exchange Club for more than 20 years, I learned it was fairly common for those outside of the club to not have a clue as to what our organization was about.

I left the club, which meets at 7 a.m. Tuesdays at the Colonial Restaurant on Randall Road in St. Charles, two years ago because of a job change that takes me to downtown Chicago daily.

But that didn't tarnish my pride last night when TriCity Family Services honored the club with one of its Golden Heart awards during TriCity's annual benefit at the Lincoln Inn in Batavia.

The award goes to individuals or organizations who have helped support TriCity Family Services for several years.

The Exchange Club has long had a mission of helping families with child-abuse prevention initiatives and recognition of students overcoming major obstacles in life. The club also helps communities beam with patriotic pride when members hand out American flags during parades or build Freedom Shrine displays in various public places.

Plus, the Golden Heart recognition helps educate a few more people -- including potential supporters -- about the club's missions.

Helping wounded veterans: If Lauren Hoepper made any comments as the St. Charles East valedictorian in 2009 about wanting to help those in need in the future, she's certainly living up to it.

Hoepper, who will graduate from Georgetown University next month, has landed a job as public affairs director of a new nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans.

Hoepper raised money to help wounded veterans with the Maryland-based 185 for Heroes for a few years prior to landing the director post.

"It all really started when I joined the Georgetown University Running Club," Hoepper said. "The organization was started by two siblings who were in the Navy who wanted to take on an endurance challenge to raise money for wounded veterans."

The running club was asked to host a finish line ceremony for the endurance challenge on campus, since the trail they run ends right at the base of Georgetown. Hoepper got to learn more about the organization aiding wounded veterans, mostly by running the final two miles with the contestants.

"It was truly inspirational to hear them talk so passionately about helping wounded veterans, and I knew immediately that this was an organization in which I wanted to get involved," she said.

The endurance run eventually became an annual event, and Hoepper got more involved in the fundraising cause.

"For the past eight months, I have worked as an outreach intern at a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C., and I was excited to be able to apply those skills I had learned to helping a cause that has become such an important part of my life," Hoepper says.

Food for health: As we enter the stretch run for the school year, let's give another snippet of recognition to the Geneva High School students who have helped make the Fox Valley Food For Health project a success.

Daily Herald columnist Sammi King first wrote late last year about this program, in which students and volunteers cook healthy meals for the sick, mostly cancer patients.

Since then, word has spread fairly quickly that registered dietitian Mary Fremgen and co-director Susan Leigh have created something that sets an excellent example of a community rallying around a cause.

The Roquette Innovation Center kitchen on the east side of Geneva serves as the center of activity for the volunteers who work with Fremgen and Leigh, who received her culinary training in Ireland.

Local businesses and Cadence Health have helped support the project, which spends about $400 to $500 on food a week. The main goal is providing food rich in nutrients, a key for those battling tough illnesses.

Volunteers tell me the project can always use manpower and financial aid. For details, email

The upside of an arch: It's understandable some Batavians might be riled up about the city spending $117,00 for an arch at the entrance of the renovated North River Street area.

But aldermen shouldn't be told that everything about this idea was horrible. Why? Because there's something to be said for anything that makes a community unique. Nearly everyone knows Dixon has a huge arch greeting visitors to its city. And Harvard has its famous Harmilda the Cow statue, while Hebron has its famous basketball water tower.

It could be that people might one day say, "Oh, I've been to Batavia. That's the nice town with that arch that looks like a halo in its downtown and the windmill structures on its riverwalk."

But, yes, there is a price to pay for being unique and having others talk about you.

A canoe race?: A bitterly cold April does something other than totally annoy you. It makes reminders about warm-weather events seem to pop up out of nowhere. Has the Mid-America Canoe Race crossed anybody's mind?

Well, registration has started for the June 2 event on the Fox River.

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