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updated: 11/23/2013 7:48 PM

Count on Von Maur for holiday cheerfulness

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  • Even though Charlestowne Mall has changed its name and owners, visitors can count on Von Maur to entertain people during the holidays.

    Even though Charlestowne Mall has changed its name and owners, visitors can count on Von Maur to entertain people during the holidays.
    Daily Herald Photo, 2005

  • It might still be a few years before new bicycle lanes are added to Route 31 in Geneva, similar to this one on Bent Tree Drive.

      It might still be a few years before new bicycle lanes are added to Route 31 in Geneva, similar to this one on Bent Tree Drive.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2007


Under any name, The Quad in St. Charles should have some appeal to visitors at this time of year.

After all, even under the old name of Charlestowne Mall, the city's beleaguered east side shopping center always put on its best face during the holidays.

With most of the stores empty now, a visitor can still catch the holiday spirit with the mall's eye-catching centerpiece at this time of year -- a festive, decorative place for kids to chat with Santa Claus.

In addition, you'd be hard-pressed to find a store that gets you in the holiday mood better than Von Maur. I may not be able to afford buying clothes there on a regular basis, but I could enjoy the holiday atmosphere and listen to the piano player in the store for long periods of time.

A shopping area can't live on the holiday season alone, though it definitely is the most important time of the year. The proof for new owners of The Quad will come during the rest of the year. Will people come?

Based on the concept they are envisioning, and the fact that the movie theater remains a solid draw, I'm thinking they have a great shot at making something work there.

And more people can check out the terrific holiday decorations in the process.

Active councils: After student council members from all Geneva schools explained the projects they have tackled to make their school, community and other parts of the world better places to live, this thought crossed my mind: These kids accomplish far more than their adult counterparts in the state and federal government.

The students talked Wednesday during Geneva's annual community leadership breakfast at the high school.

It was great to hear Geneva High School senior Angelo Gelfuso tell other students that he has spent 40 percent of his life at his schools, participating in student council activities since elementary school at Heartland. He encouraged those already on councils, and others, to continue to make a difference.

That's a powerful message for students of any age. And the student council activities, from supplying local food pantries to sending candy to military personnel or supplies to regions suffering from tragic weather events, indicate they understand and embrace that power.

Some extra money: Another highlight of the community leadership event at Geneva High School is the annual unveiling of the Geneva Academic Foundation's donation for the year.

Foundation leaders Laura Zuzuly and Paul Wessel handed over a $32,051 check for the various grants sought by the district's schools. Those grants, by the way, are now called the Bencini Memorial Grants in honor of the late Mary Bencini, a longtime teacher and school district advocate.

Strange, but true: Not sure how this happened, but our trivia team, "Charge of the Trivia Brigade," actually took the stop spot at TriCity Family Service's recent Trivia Night fundraiser.

We had finished second in this event a couple of times, so maybe it was our time to break through. It means we have to put together the next trivia event, so that one should be a doozy.

We won on a tiebreaker trivia question, so virtually every point we earned was vital. And we had a few of those last-second guesses that every team scores on at some point. As they were taking my score sheet away for tallying during one round, I scribbled "Love Me Tender" as Elvis Presley's first movie, because the answer popped into my head just at that moment. And it was correct. My teammates did the same on a few other occasions, and it added up to a victory.

A bit tight for both?: Do we really want the state to cut down Route 31 to two lanes in Geneva, with two bicycle lanes added?

It seems like it would create tight quarters, but if bikers are going to be on the road anyway, maybe this is a safer approach.

But my opinion doesn't hold much water. My travels don't take me down that stretch of Route 31 too often. But I know it funnels quite a bit of traffic at certain times of the day.

I also don't ride a bike. If I did, you'd never catch me on a state highway in which cars were flying by.

For those who are concerned with how this will play out, rest assured the state doesn't do anything quickly with regard to stretches of highway that run through our towns. It's going to take a few years before we see any changes taking place.

The lost trees: Golfers surely were taking advantage of any warm days that slipped onto the November calendar. They love extending their season as deep into the year as possible.

For those making their last loops at Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles before the snow flies, it's been quite noticeable that quite a few ash trees and willow trees have come down on the course.

For those who haven't seen what's been going on, here's what you'll see when you hit the course in the spring:

Nearly all of the trees along the river behind the pump house on hole No. 3 are gone. Those trees have saved a few of my errant shots from going into the river in the past. However, decent players who may not have hit the type of drive they like on that hole might have a clearer look to the green across the pond.

Golfers tell me the big trees bordering the third and fourth green, as well as the seventh tee box, and those in the rough between holes No. 5 and 6 are no longer there.

Groundskeeper extraordinaire Denise Gillett-Parchert surely has plans in place for replacement trees over time.

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