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updated: 5/4/2013 9:13 PM

St. Charles, Geneva mayors started as high school PA announcers

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  • Ekwabet, by sculptor Guy Bellaver, overlooks the Fox River in downtown St. Charles.

    Ekwabet, by sculptor Guy Bellaver, overlooks the Fox River in downtown St. Charles.
    Courtesy of Greater St. Charles Education Foundati


Does working as the public address announcer at high school football games help qualify you as a future mayor of your city?

It didn't hurt St. Charles Mayor-elect Ray Rogina or Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns.

It helped spread their names and voices throughout the communities and, as it turned out, served as a tuneup for making public speeches at community events, ribbon cuttings, political debates and joyous or solemn occasions.

Then-athletic director Jim Newbill approached Burns nearly 20 years ago when he needed an announcer for various games at Geneva High School.

"I said OK, and ended up doing it for 15 years," Burns said. "I mostly did soccer games, but did a lot of sophomore games for all of the sports."

Because Kurt Wehrmeister anchored Geneva's PA slot for so many years, Burns said he was a backup for most of the varsity football games.

"I wanted to cut the wire when Kurt was announcing, so I could get the job," Burns joked.

Football coach Buck Drach asked Rogina if he could announce the Saints games, and Rogina, a longtime business teacher at St. Charles East High School, agreed to take on the task.

"I did it for about 10 years," Rogina said. "Buck Drach asked me to do it and since announcing is my 'fantasy' occupation, I did not flinch."

That commitment meant sports writers in the press box had to spend 10 years trying to stump Rogina with baseball trivia during any lulls in action. It was not an easy task. The guy knows his stuff.

So, even though those two gentlemen hold the highest public office in their communities and it might smack of something out of Mayberry, would they head back into the press box in a pinch if a football announcer were needed?

"Would I do a cameo?" Rogina asks. "Sure. It would be fun, even to do just a couple of quarters."

Burns didn't hesitate either. "I'd do it in a minute," he said.

Ekwabet at 25: How many area residents have no idea what, or who, the Indian statue along the Fox River in St. Charles represents?

The statue of Ekwabet, a Pottawatomi Indian chief, looks over the river and surrounding area that was the tribe's home hundreds of years ago.

The St. Charles Arts Council's next pop-up gallery has a theme of "Native," in part, marking 25 years since sculptor Guy Bellaver and various city donors came up with the idea and commitment to place the powerful statue in a spot where hundreds of pedestrians stroll past each year.

The council is seeking artists to participate in the gallery, which will be on display June 15 through July 13 in a retail space at 228 W. Main St., at the northeast corner of N. Third Street and Main in downtown St. Charles. Information is available at

Helping future pets: If helping to organize a gala fundraiser is up your alley, and you like dogs and cats, you might want to help the Anderson Animal Shelter plan its Nov. 2 annual Gala Dinner and Auction.

The shelter is seeking volunteers for various committees and other roles in organizing the fundraiser. Information is available at (847) 697-2880, ext. 29.

Roby earns top status: I knew this guy could whip up some delicious pastries, and he has a knack for creating crazy chocolate concoctions.

So it comes as no surprise that chef Alain Roby, founder of the All Chocolate Kitchen on Third Street in Geneva, has earned a spot in the Chicago Culinary Museum's Chefs Hall of Fame. The honor comes in conjunction with the museum's honor in naming him Pastry Chef of the Year for 2013.

I've written about chef Roby many times in the past, with the same general theme -- I am glad he chose to give up his full-time gig in Chicago to set up shop along Third Street.

Swept off feet: Maybe it was the bliss of 29 years of marriage that had me floating in the air like a cartoon character with a big smile on my face. But the meal we enjoyed at ZaZa Trattoria in St. Charles on our 29th wedding anniversary last week probably had something to do with it as well.

My wife's salmon and fire-roasted spinach, and my veal medallions and mushrooms in brandy sauce were out of this world. As if that weren't enough, I got an extra airlift from the carrot cake smothered in icing and pecans.

I was swept off my feet 29 years ago. But in a different sort of way, this carrot cake also sent me into another stratosphere.

We tend to splurge fairly well on our anniversary, and we both said this visit to ZaZa's was right up there with past decadency at Morton's Steakhouse.

Changes for the better: In helping my wife research assisted living and care centers for her mom, we ended up quite impressed with how things have changed over the years.

I remember visiting my grandparents and other relatives in nursing homes back in the early 1960s. I would ride my bike to the facility to check in on how Grandpa was doing. I was too young to differentiate between good care and neglect, but all of the patients seemed in the same boat regardless of their conditions -- just stuck in a room or a wheelchair with nothing to do.

Now, various centers have a different specialty or emphasis in care, and it appears the final stages of life for our elderly have a lot more dignity attached.

Visits to Arden Courts in Geneva, The Holmstad in Batavia, or Autumn Leaves and Delnor Glen in St. Charles illustrate this quite well.

And the folks at Pineview Care Center in St. Charles have been quite helpful in treating my mother-in-law and advising us of our next moves.

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