Peace Corps volunteer from St. Charles leaving Ukraine
A few weeks ago I was wondering if Mike Dixon of St. Charles was trying to get out of Ukraine safely as demonstrations and riots were unfolding in protests against the government.
Dixon, a well-known architect in the Tri-Cities, has been serving with the Peace Corps in Ukraine for about three years. His emails the past several months made one start to wonder about his safety. Since country leaders voted to align the nation more closely with Russia, the uproar has been heard around the world.
A few days ago, Dixon said via email he was ordered by the Peace Corps to move to an undisclosed site and evacuate the country.
Before this latest correspondence, Dixon was steadfast in his conviction to stay and continue his mission.
"While it is an interesting time to be here to witness the history of a nation, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I did not buy into this turmoil and struggle," he wrote. "So, why am I still here? The Peace Corps came to Ukraine to share friendship and peace. … To leave now, while the Ukrainian people cannot leave, would distort the purpose of our mission."
Dixon had said he would stay "to finish my commitment to the Ukrainian people, the people I have come to love and support in their quest for a respect for human rights."
Now, facing the reality of a situation gone bonkers, he is saying, "I am so sad to not be able to say goodbye to my Ukrainian friends who have become family and dear friends to me."
He tells his friends in St. Charles not to worry about him, that he is confident he will remain safe. But he also was certain he was going to be unable to correspond for a period of time.
Through all of the recent chaos, Dixon chose not to say anything about the violence and atrocities he has witnessed there, saying only the violence has blown up "beyond belief."
The experience has made him "truly feel blessed to be an American," he said.
No goodbye Goody's yet: It's been more than a month since word was going around that Goody's Fast Food in St. Charles might be shutting down after a 15-year run at 2057 Lincoln Hwy.
But the Alba brothers, owners of Goody's, told me last week nothing concrete has happened with plans to sell the building, which might convert to a Dunkin' Donuts with a drive-through.
Nothing against the doughnut giant, but it seems Goody's has been a favorite location of a fair number of folks, many of whom also enjoy the car shows that take place there during the summer.
Goody's has quite a menu for its guests, but it's likely that the place has suffered a bit since other nearby restaurants, such as Burger King and Colonial, fled that area for different locations. It meant that people dining in those spots weren't driving by Goody's and thinking, "We should try that sometime, too," if they hadn't done so already.
For the time being, Goody's owners plan to keep serving breakfast, lunch and dinner menus featuring sandwiches, gyros, soup and other items.
If Goody's closes, maybe it could resurface in another area of the Tri-Cities. It sits in a location once occupied by a Hardee's restaurant.
After all these years, Hardee's has turned up again at the Houston Street location in Batavia that housed a Burger King for nearly 30 years.
Good work, Baltes: Hats off to Alexa Baltes of St. Charles for being named to the 2014 Allstate WBCA Good Works Team, an honor that goes to a college basketball student-athlete for community service and charity work.
A guard at Illinois Wesleyan University, Baltes earned the honor from working with students at elementary schools and in mentoring programs in Bloomington. She also traveled to Nicaragua on a charitable mission that included bringing supplies and helping with construction projects.
Baltes was among 10 chosen from a list of 84 nominees. She will be among those attending the 2014 NCAA Women's Final Four in Nashville, Tenn., where she will participate in a community project during her time there.
Another change: The restaurant location at 3755 E. Main St., St. Charles, that has been home to a couple of Greek restaurants, the most recent being Odyssey, will now convert to a steak joint.
North Avenue Charhouse Restaurant is now calling that location its home. Restaurant manager Chris Lambropoulos has to be banking on the same hope others in that spot have in the past -- that The Quad (formerly Charlestowne Mall) can make a comeback on the city's east side.
His restaurant is across the street from the mall.
Likes his salsa: Reader Jim Chesko of St. Charles put in the first rave review for Salsa Verde, mentioned in this column a few weeks ago. The family restaurant now operates out of the former Popeye's and Two Brothers location along Lincoln Highway in St. Charles.
Chesko says he often eats at the Salsa Verde location in Yorkville, so he was happy to see one open here and "had an exceptional meal" the week it opened.
Finding a home: We like our pets around the Fox Valley. Anderson Animal Shelter says 622 pets found new homes during 2013 through families or individuals wanting to help these animals limit their stay at the shelter.
Go out to eat: You've probably seen ads in the paper regarding St. Charles Restaurant Week, which starts Monday. It's a good time to take friends to your favorite spot or check out something new. You have to show the newspaper ad or a postcard you might have received in the mail in order to get the promoted discount.