A new disc golf course need not consume a city park
Many St. Charles residents living near, or using, Timber Trails Park voiced enough opposition to the park district's idea of building a disc golf course on the site, that the district is pulling that idea off the table.
Obviously, different circumstances affect various park settings, and you want those near the parks to voice opinions on matters that would change those parks.
But let me share our experience with a park we have walked in nearly every week for the past 20-plus years, one that suddenly included a disc golf course over most of it.
Wheeler Park in Geneva has always been a favorite spot for every dog we've owned, so our number of miles notched in that park on Geneva's north side along Route 31 has to be impressive.
Eight years ago, it added The Links at Wheeler Park, a Midwest Disc Golf-designed 18-hole layout for all ages and levels of skill.
Our initial reaction was the disc golfers "took over our park," as if we were the only ones who deserved to be on the property. Over time, and continuing our walks amid flying discs, we came to realize a few things that hadn't dawned on us initially.
First, the disc golfers don't get in the way of the walking trail or the areas we generally spent time in. If we decided to walk through a part in which players were flinging discs, the players always wait, or we wait until the discs are thrown.
A disc has never come close to hitting us, or anyone else walking or riding a bike when we have been out there.
Second, our interactions with the kids or adults playing have always been pleasant. It's mostly young men playing, with an occasional woman also playing or just walking along with a pet or toddler for the exercise.
And that's the third point. These people are out moving around and playing a highly popular game, instead of sitting and staring at a screen playing video games, or binge-watching TV shows or combing social media channels that don't always deliver meaningful interactions or comments.
Maybe Timber Trails Park, along Stonehedge Road north of Main Street, wasn't the right place because it is closer to a lot of homes than possibly Wheeler Park is. But the St. Charles Park District should keep looking for another location because disc golf is popular and not going away. Plus, the course is not a place in which park users have to dodge flying discs or deal with rowdy players constantly.
Creating the next leaders
One fifth-grader from Western Avenue School in Geneva said she became a student council leader because she someday wants to be president of the United States.
That's all you really need to know to understand the positive vibes and emphasis on achievement that Geneva students shared with community leaders this week at the annual Community Leadership Breakfast at Geneva High School.
One of the highlights of the event is always the Geneva Academic Foundation's annual donation, with this year's total being $21,629 to help the schools obtain needed supplies. It fitted that these donations are now made to honor the late Mary Bencini, a longtime teacher at Western Avenue School and a key member of the foundation when she had retired.
But the event is about the students and community members talking to each other in small groups, as each school had a display of information to share about their projects to help their schools or community organizations.
It represents an outstanding communications tool, one that schools Superintendent Kent Mutchler said helps "bring classrooms into people's lives." A goal for all students is to understand that happiness is something to strive for and that "nice matters" in how you treat others, Mutchler emphasized.
The school district has hosted this event for more than 20 years as part of American Education Week.
Needing family sponsors
TriCity Family Services began a holiday tradition more than 20 years ago when Judy Burgess organized a Friends group to support the agency. That group started the Christmas Adopt-a-Family Program to provide gifts and food during the holidays to client families.
Last year, that program served 67 families. This year, that number could go as high as 80 families.
As such, the agency needs individuals or businesses to sponsor families. "This will be the biggest year ever," said Mary Kay Dowling, who oversees the project for TriCity Family Services.
Dowling estimated earlier this week that the program needs at least 10 more sponsors, and about 20 food baskets, as well as gift cards for groceries and gas stations.
"Many of our clients are struggling to afford the basic necessities and are so grateful that we can offer this program to them," Dowling said.
Those interested in helping can email to email@example.com or call (630) 232-1070.
A Pheasant Run redo
News that Pheasant Run in St. Charles was laying off the lion's share of its employees as owners contemplate the resort's future exposed a reality that the city's tourist attraction must face.
While it has added some amenities over time, the resort has not undergone a real renovation. Or, put another way, it's likely in need of a considerable update. City officials know this, and they are likely to do whatever they can to help keep Pheasant Run in operation or make that entire east gateway more appealing. After all, not many towns the size of St. Charles can boast of a resort that, on paper, has it all. It's got restaurants, a comedy club, a beautiful theater, large ballrooms, and smaller meeting rooms, an entertaining Bourbon Street themed area, shops, a golf course and pro shop, and a conference exhibit hall that can double as a venue for big shows.
In addition to entertaining resort patrons, it has also been an excellent choice for area residents.
I started worrying a bit about Pheasant Run about six years ago when covering a conference there related to retail payments and e-commerce technology. That conference drew executives and software developers from across the country and worldwide.
I asked a few visitors how they liked visiting our city and, I assumed, Chicago while they were here. A few said they were surprised how far the city was from the resort, but a few of the visitors' wives said they were disappointed that the nearby mall, that being Charlestowne, was "pretty much empty."
Conference planners take that sort of information into account when considering locations for big annual events.
We may not think about that aspect too much, but the demise of the Charlestowne Mall did no favors to the city or Pheasant Run over time.