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updated: 3/1/2014 5:55 PM

Geneva Film Festival opens Thursday

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  • Dave Heun says Houston Street in Batavia carries its own "gateway" importance. Houston is see here looking east from Batavia Avenue.

      Dave Heun says Houston Street in Batavia carries its own "gateway" importance. Houston is see here looking east from Batavia Avenue.
    Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer, 2012


As you watch the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday, think about Geneva a bit at the same time.

One never knows, but a future Oscar winner may be in town this week when the seventh annual Geneva Film Festival opens Thursday and runs through Saturday.

A film festival is the type of event you'd think would attract only people interested in getting involved in the film industry. That's partly true, but it mostly gives residents of a community a chance to see a lot of different, interesting and well-done films. And the films give us everything we love about going to the movies: They make you think, get happy, get angry, laugh out loud, or cry like a baby.

All the movies this year will be shown at Dodson Place, at the corner of Second and Fulton streets.

Organizers are using red balloons on Dodson Place retail spaces to mark locations of film showings. This was the best approach, because planners had no way of knowing too far in advance which units might be available in early March. After all, Dodson Place owner Kent Shodeen continues to lease space to retailers.

You can see a list of the movies and a brief summary of each on the festival's website, Here's a tip: When you are looking at the schedule list of movies, click on "details" on the far right side. That will tell you what time the movie is showing.

There's quite a variety -- documentaries, narrative shorts, thrillers and animated features.

The price is right for seeing these films, as an adult can attend the entire festival for only $15, get a one-day pass for $10, or entry to a particular block of movies for $5.

Critters still around: Remember the Critters Pet Store that used to be in the Valley Shopping strip on the west side of St. Charles? It was a popular pet store in town for more than 25 years.

It was good to hear they simply relocated to the South Elgin strip complex that includes Caputo's and Ju Rin at Silver Glen and Randall roads.

Things have changed a lot at that Valley Shopping location since the days when Aldi was there, as well as the St. Charles Post Office, Events on Video, and the Grimm's medical supply store.

Its own gateway: As Batavia city officials continue to contemplate sprucing up Houston Street and smoothing its surface to become more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, let me share my opinion of this part of downtown.

Those in Tri-Cities view the main entrances into the east or west side of their downtown areas as the key gateways. For Batavia, that has to be Wilson Street and, maybe to a lesser extent, Main Street.

But Houston Street carries its own "gateway" importance. When coming down the Houston Street hill, either by car, bike or foot, you are introduced to everything that makes Batavia unique.

You can see the Depot Museum, the Fabyan Forest Preserve trail, the Riverwalk, the historic popcorn stand, the beautiful new band shell, some popular restaurants and the City Hall complex.

There's a reason so many events take place in and around this part of Batavia. It is the ultimate town square, which few cities can claim ones like it for their citizens.

To me, that makes Houston Street one of the most important in the city. Hopefully, officials will keep this project on its 2015 planning calendar.

Crazy, but uplifting: You can see some strange things when you attend a high school basketball game because, well, kids will be kids.

But this sight warmed my heart: A young high school lad walking from the parking lot into the gymnasium for a Batavia basketball game wearing a T-shirt and no coat. I told him it felt good to see such a brave act, because it made me believe that this dreadful winter may finally be subsiding -- even though it was only about 25 degrees that night. Mother Nature said no last week, though, throwing another round of subzero at us.

Mouse in a maze: Speaking of Batavia High School's gym, I still get disoriented trying to find my way around there through the new entrance off Main Street. After decades of going to cover games and entering through the Wilson Street side, it remains tricky to get my bearings in the new setup. I end up in the new field house, and then peek around a couple of corners to finally realize where the gym is.

It's a wonderful new setup for the high school, just confusing to this old bird.

Toughest fundraiser?: After working on the "Dancing With the Geneva Stars" fundraiser for several years, I learned that some events are tougher than others to organize. That was a tricky one because it wasn't as easy as it sounds to get six couples to agree to dance in front of hundreds of people.

But the other event that sounds like it would be a major undertaking in the "convincing" category is the "60 Men Who Cook" event, this year taking place at 5:30 p.m. April 11 at the Kane County Fairgrounds.

I participated in this once, and it was rough because I don't cook much of anything, which sort of helps if you are going to tout yourself as a cook.

In any case, it has to be hard to find 60 willing participants for anything, let alone actually cooking something that tastes good. It won't hurt for me to say chef spots were still available last week. If you are interested in this fundraiser for various Geneva organizations, sign up on the Geneva Chamber of Commerce website.

New body of water: Did you know the city of Geneva has its own man-made lake?

It was at the end of my driveway for weeks, with rain and melting snow trapped in place by two huge snow/ice piles that jut out into the street.

Hardly any city blocks have had clear gutters in the aftermath of this stupid winter, but we had the unfortunate problem of living on a cul-de-sac, where the snowplow folks apparently had no place to shove snow. The result was our own little lake, a couple inches deep, spreading out in front of our mailbox for all to enjoy.

When Mother Nature wins these battles, the city crews apparently know when they have been beaten. When we asked the city if there was any way a plow could push the snow dams back or get them out of here, we got the answer we kind of suspected -- nothing happened. They were probably that hard to move.

That's how thoroughly Mother Nature won that tussle.

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