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updated: 8/30/2014 5:55 PM

Heun: History rules in Tri-Cities

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  • Terry Emma is executive director of the Geneva History Museum which has a new permanent exhibit called "Geneva's Story."

      Terry Emma is executive director of the Geneva History Museum which has a new permanent exhibit called "Geneva's Story."
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer


No one can say we don't care about our history in the Tri-Cities.

Each of the local history museums or centers has made significant improvements over the years, adding much to the stories of our past.

The Batavia Depot Museum and the city's first bank, Coffin Bank, right next to it, provide interesting trips down memory lane. The exhibits at the St. Charles Heritage Center have great stories to tell, all in a location where attendants at McCornack Oil Co. once pumped gas.

The Geneva History Museum hasn't been at its Third Street location as long, but it's been 10 years since it came over from Wheeler Park, which is hard to believe. It turned out to be an excellent move for history lovers.

The museum celebrated last weekend with a grand reopening and its new permanent exhibit, "Geneva's Story."

"It tells the history of Geneva chapter by chapter in a playful and engaging way with four iPads," Executive Director Terry Emma said.

Those iPads include oral histories, videos and a closer look at the artifacts, she said.

A replica of the original Fargo Theater marquee has a 6-foot screen on which visitors can watch five different videos about Geneva history.

The gallery is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays for $2 per person. It includes admission into the main "Sweet Home Chicago" exhibit.

As with any project of this nature, the museum can only go as far as community support allows. An $87,000 grant from the Robinson Foundation, the Fabyan Foundation, the Geneva Lions Club and more than 70 individual donors made the first phase of "Geneva's Story" possible.

The museum is marketing the second phase of the project, and donors have already shown a lot of interest.

This is the kind of support that makes local history stand out, and we really are lucky to have a lot of it going on in all of our communities.

Maybe later?

It's clear elected officials in the Tri-Cities draw a line in the sand when it comes to anything that would potentially tarnish a community's image. You would expect nothing less, really.

Our schools and cities always rate well on state and national barometers as good places to work, raise families and educate kids. As such, it is not surprising the thought of allowing video gambling devices in taverns or social gathering places, like Moose Lodges, might not sit well.

Batavia was the latest to shoot down the notion, leaving those who enjoy playing video poker on occasion to go to communities that allow it, such as North Aurora, Sugar Grove or Elburn. Or, of course, the casinos in Elgin or Aurora can always scratch that itch.

I enjoy playing these machines on the rare occasion I am around one. If any of our communities allowed the devices, I wouldn't rush out to throw my money at one. In short, it doesn't matter to me how a city council votes on this matter.

However, I do not fear the type of harm to people or a community that detractors point out about video gambling. Worse things are readily available, such as those stupid state lottery tickets on sale just about anywhere.

At some point, we'll notice that towns allowing gambling devices and the revenue they can produce have not turned into seedy sin cities. Someone will take the time to determine if the revenue far outweighs any problems video gambling might have caused. If the numbers work, it would be hard to keep hiding from a boogeyman that might not exist.

Some good chips:

Count on me to check out a new Blizzard flavor at Dairy Queen. The latest? Chips Ahoy Blizzard. If you like those chocolate chip cookies -- and who doesn't -- you're really going to enjoy this treat.

Summer meat fest:

With school in session and our local high school football teams back in action, it can only mean our summer days are waning.

That means we took a ride out to one of the greatest places on earth to grab some summer barbecue fare, mostly hamburgers and hot dogs. That place would be Ream's Elburn Market.

A historic bargain:

At $5 for a car full of people, a visit to Cantigny in Winfield is still one of the great educational and entertainment bargains you can encounter.

Our most recent visit proved once again that Col. Robert McCormick put the money from his newspaper empire to good use in leaving behind his mansion, beautiful grounds and the First Division military museum for generations to enjoy.

Thinking of going? There will be a Revolutionary War re-enactment Sept. 13-14 and a Civil War re-enactment Oct. 4-5.

My classy ride:

I knew it when I saw it, even from a distance, at the Concours d'Elegance car show in Geneva last weekend.

It was a bright red 1967 Ford Mustang fastback, the very type in which I learned how to drive with my learner's permit in 1969 or so.

My father loved that car, so I rarely got to drive it once I got my actual license.

The license plates on the car at the Geneva show read "Go Wild."

And that's exactly what my dad was afraid of, if he had turned those keys over to me.

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