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updated: 1/18/2014 5:26 PM

Hey, teens! Batavia Park District wants your feedback

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  • The Batavia Park District is seeking input from teens about what to offer at its Teen Center at 27 N. Prairie St.

      The Batavia Park District is seeking input from teens about what to offer at its Teen Center at 27 N. Prairie St.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


The evolution of teen centers makes for an interesting case study.

In the mid- to late-1960s, teens were fairly satisfied with pool tables, Ping-Pong tables, board games and dances featuring local garage bands.

It was rare for any of that stuff to be available at our homes.

Teen centers got a little more complex as time went on with the air hockey games and Foosball tables and maybe a few other attractions. Then computer games and other electronic stuff started showing up.

But what about now?

Kaneland kids in fourth through eighth grade now have Friday Knightlife at the Elburn Community Center for floor hockey, basketball, air hockey and more.

But how about high school kids?

Batavia Park District is seeking input from teens about what to offer at the Batavia Teen Center, 27 N. Prairie St.

It's not an easy task, considering most teens have smartphones and tablets to entertain them in their spare time, plus numerous school clubs and sports.

"Back when teen centers first started, there were not as many activities offered at the schools," said Kristin Bykowski, Batavia Park District's recreation supervisor. "That's not the case anymore, and we don't want to duplicate what the schools are offering."

The rugged winter weather created low turnouts at park district meetings last week designed to get teen input. The park district is encouraging feedback on the teen center Facebook page, Bykowski said, and teens can stop by the park district office to pick up a 10-question feedback form. The district may also have an information table available at schools during lunch hours.

"There are tons of clubs for kids to participate in these days, and we want to know what we can offer that they aren't getting anywhere else," Bykowski said.

By today's digital age standards, that's a tough nut to crack for any teen center.

Look out below: It's danger time for your car. The potholes will be ridiculous this time around, considering we've already had deep freezes more suited to the North Pole. And isn't this week, on average, supposed to be the coldest of the year in these parts?

My car has already found a couple of nasty potholes on Fabyan Parkway, Route 31 going into Batavia and on State Street in Geneva. Many more are likely to reveal themselves in the coming weeks.

Not just the cold: Anyone who takes Metra's Union Pacific West Line from Geneva into Chicago knows that the recent polar cold snap isn't the only thing that wreaks havoc on the system.

In the past three years of taking that train line, I've had countless delays or snafus related to "switching problems" or "heavy freight train traffic."

Obviously, sitting in the train an extra 20 minutes or so is a far better option than flying off a track because the rails didn't switch, or slamming into a freight train on your track. Still, one has to categorize our train system here as rather unreliable.

No trivial matter: Our brilliant trivia team, Charge of the Trivia Brigade, is hard at work in preparing the questions for the next TriCity Family Services Trivia Night event Feb. 8 at the Batavia Moose Lodge.

The team that wins the trivia contest is in charge of the next event, which is at least partly why we didn't mind finishing second three times in the past.

But who makes a goal of finishing second? Not this brave brigade. So we won the last event and have taken on the task of preparing this one.

In any case, sign up your team by calling (630) 232-1070 or registering at

It's the only way to find out if we can stump you.

Some more sushi: If you like Japanese or Chinese food, a place that offers both might be just what you need.

JC Sake has opened on the east side of St. Charles at 3843 E. Main St., in the strip mall area near Chipotle and Jimmy John's.

Those who enjoy sushi now have another local option, but my preference at these types of places is pretty simple. I rarely venture beyond sweet and sour chicken, with the occasional moo goo gai pan to mix things up a bit.

Won't be same: Those in the newspaper business will be glad to know that my mother-in-law, Elsie Risch, tried to read her newspapers until her last days with us. At 86, she remained loyal to the print media to the very end.

We had to say our goodbyes to Elsie this week because she couldn't recover from a broken hip and the surgery that followed.

Many of us say our parents and in-laws who grew up in the 1930s and experienced World War II as young adults were "one of a kind."

It's because they were. In turn, it makes us believe that they don't make them like Elsie any longer.

She had traits that many others have -- a strong and stubborn will and an unconditional love for her family and her hometown of St. Charles, where she spent her entire life until her last months at Arden Courts of Geneva.

Becoming a widow at a young age, and then watching most of her friends pass away over the years, made her connection to her family grow even stronger.

We may not miss cleaning the gutters on her house or lugging 50-pound bags of salt down to her water softener, but we'll sure miss the numerous "one of a kind" traits that defined what she was all about.

Send your ideas: Based on my request for ideas last week, readers have sent a few interesting thoughts about what type of businesses could go in the numerous empty storefronts and buildings we have in the Tri-Cities.

Keep sending ideas to the email below, and I will share them soon.

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