It's not a stretch to say just about every school, bank, hospital, church or factory in the Fox Valley area has had plumbing and ductwork completed by an employee of Wagner Plumbing and Piping.

When a business has been active in St. Charles for 100 years, the client list is going to get quite large.

So, yes, places like Hotel Baker, the original Delnor Hospital, Burgess Norton, the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva, St. Peter's Church in Geneva, and the original Sherman Hospital in Elgin are just a few on that list.

It's been J.L. Wagner Plumbing since 1993, with Jack Wagner as president, after his father Bob Wagner operated it as R.L. Wagner and Son Plumbing since 1970.

Prior to that, Bob worked in the business with his father, Roscoe, starting in 1948. Roscoe's roots went as far back as operating Cramer and Wagner Plumbing at the corner of Second and Main streets in 1916.

By any measure, that's a lot of plumbing jobs with a Wagner stamp of approval on it. The city gave special recognition to the business for its 100 years at a council meeting last week.

But Jack Wagner had engineering on his mind in the late 1960s, going to the University of Illinois to seek a degree after spending many of his summers helping his dad at the plumbing business.

"I did OK my first semester, but it just wasn't working out," Jack said. "I came back and went to work for my dad."

Over time, Jack learned that he wasn't as big a risk-taker as his father.

"He would go for really big jobs, but I had to run the business the way I had to, and have stayed within my bounds. I did not go real large like my dad did," he said.

After he and his brother Mike split the business, with Jack sticking with plumbing and Mike taking on the sheet metal work, it's turned out to be a good move for both. With Jack's son Dan now learning the business as the likely heir apparent, some form of Wagner Plumbing figures to be around for many more years.

"A lot of people have helped us through the years, and some customers and suppliers have been working with us since my grandpa was doing this," Jack said.

While there have been thousands of incidents in which Wagner Plumbing helped in emergency situations, one stands out for Jack. He and a fellow named Les Johnson went to the Colson's Department Store building and pumped water out of its basement after firefighters had doused the place during its massive October 1975 fire.

"We were so cold and wet, but we got it all pumped out," Jack said. "The owner was really appreciative of that."

Bringing life to grotto:

When Bob McQuillan of Batavia tried to put together a community group to help clean graffiti off the grotto behind the Kane County Government Center, his call to action got a major boost from 13-year-old Sam DiNovo.

The Geneva Middle School North eighth-grader and member of Boy Scout Troop 37 was looking for an Eagle Scout project, and the need to fix what vandals had destroyed looked like the perfect fit.

After seeking donations for supplies, DiNovo worked with McQuillan in organizing a work group to clean up and repaint much of the grotto, which was a place of prayer when the Sacred Heart seminary operated on those grounds. They also cleared out brush and trash in the area, bringing it back to life.

After an initial cleaning, some vandals tried their heartless work again, but it is believed security cameras in the area are at work now and will identify and deter this recklessness in the future.

A piece of our history such as this that might be neglected for a period of time is generally a good target for vandals.

Hopefully, the efforts of DiNovo and others will serve to remind us that we should care about these things and do what is necessary to protect them.

Some big boots:

Batavia firefighters should be quite pleased with their Fill-The-Boot Foundation fundraiser to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

They raised $9,376.35 this year by asking motorists at the corner of East Wilson and Prairie Street on three consecutive Friday afternoons to donate some spare change into the firefighting boots.

It was easy to spot the fire department personnel. They wore their helmets and safety vests during the fundraiser.

Fill-The-Boot fundraising began in 1952 in Boston when Charles and Geraldine Crowley got support from firefighters to help with their two sons suffering from muscular dystrophy. From there, it eventually grew to a national event in which firefighters have participated for 63 years.

It will be Nosh time:

It's just a matter of having a few building inspections completed before the popular Nosh restaurant will reopen at its North Third Street location, right across from Gia Mia.

Nosh has been working on its move from James Street much of the past year, so a few readers have wondered when their favorite breakfast and lunch spot will open again.

Earlier this week, the city was telling me it wouldn't be long. Whether that means it could be open as you read this, I'm not sure. Building inspections take some time to schedule, complete and file results.

dheun@sbcglobal.net