The recession of the past several years certainly left its mark on the Tri-Cities.
But suppose you had the chance to rub a magic lamp and a genie said you could have one wish "to fix something that the recession really hit hard" in our area.
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What would you fix if you had the power to do it with a snap of your fingers?
Would it be the ghost town known as Charlestowne Mall on the east side of St. Charles?
Or how about the former St. Charles Mall site on the open west side property that city officials are contemplating for residential or retail, depending on what they can do with zoning?
Or maybe the empty Mill Race Inn property along the Fox River in Geneva?
Would it be the string of empty storefronts along various streets in our downtowns? Or would you want the First Street plaza project in St. Charles completely finished and flourishing?
Or would it be a return of a favorite restaurant, such as The Hideaway or Rex's Cork 'n Fork in St. Charles? Or how about Avenue Chevrolet in Batavia?
Or would it be something completely different from those potential choices?
Give it some thought and drop me a note at my email address listed at the bottom of the column. This is your chance to, well, at least contemplate what would qualify as most important if you could fix something in our cities. We'll share some answers soon.
Something to celebrate: Melvin Peterson calls it "a big item in the history of the Baker Community Center." If the 92-year-old St. Charles resident says that about the center, he knows what he's talking about. He's been a board member of the center for more than seven decades.
The big item? Apparently the board intends to "celebrate" the fact that Peterson and board attorneys have received the OK from the state that the Baker Memorial Trust money will be earmarked only for use on the center and its operations. That celebrating will take place at the 4 p.m. meeting Thursday at the center.
Peterson said there was some confusion about the original intent of the trust, and it was believed by some that the money could go to any number of community organizations.
"I was around when Col. Baker established that trust and the board members then knew what the trust was for," Peterson said.
The ruling, from the state's attorney general and approved by Judge David Akemann, means the Baker board doesn't have to "beg" for money from the trust, Peterson said.
"We provide the center free to various organizations, so the community still benefits," he added. "But the Baker board needed some form of funding we could rely on."
No smooth ride: When mentioning a couple of weeks ago that it was good for St. Charles and resident Cliff McIlvaine to agree that city workers would complete the work on his decades-old house project off Prairie Street, I had originally written a line that I didn't expect any kind of harmony to unfold.
But I took that line out, thinking there was no need to throw more fuel on a situation that hasn't been the least bit pleasant to begin with.
So what happens a week or so later? McIlvaine is back in court saying the city is doing shoddy work on his roof because it was leaking.
The city says a tarp that was in place on the roof somehow didn't keep the rain water out.
As much as any other project the city has ever undertaken, this is one that needs to go off without a hitch. Because "hitch" is the only way to describe what has taken place for decades. So it's possible someone on the project needs a swift kick in the pants. Or maybe it was something as simple as a strong wind blowing off the tarp? If anyone should understand how a construction project may face setbacks, McIlvaine certainly should.
I resisted coming right out and saying the city was crazy to try to approach this matter with common sense, because there hasn't been much on display the past 30-plus years. So I will roll my eyes, and leave it at that.
A great start: When going to visit my mother-in-law at Arden Courts in Geneva, I was followed by a young couple, carrying some beautiful flowers.
I figured they were probably bringing flowers to a grandmother.
Then I heard them say, "We got married last night and wanted to bring these for the residents here."
This was a wonderful gesture. But it also signals a great way for those newlyweds to start their lives together -- already thinking about someone else the morning after the greatest night of their lives.
That was fast: It took all of 25 minutes for the Fox Valley Wildlife Center to have its plea for an air-conditioner help answered.
The center sent out an email Wednesday asking if anyone could find someone who could fix an air-conditioner.
Apparently, the temperature inside the Elburn center was at 105 degrees. That's not good for humans or animals.
In less than a half-hour, the email was answered by someone who could get a repairman over there, and also was willing to pay for it.