Recalling some of the top 'Talk of the Town' topics in 2019

  • Josh Martin, an 8-year-old from St. Charles who has Down syndrome, was highlighted in a documentary at the Arcada Theatre about the power of horses in providing therapy to children facing physical or mental challenges.

    Josh Martin, an 8-year-old from St. Charles who has Down syndrome, was highlighted in a documentary at the Arcada Theatre about the power of horses in providing therapy to children facing physical or mental challenges. Courtesy of Kerrie Weiss

 
 
Posted1/3/2020 6:00 AM

"Talk of the Town" has made it through another year. It has again been a pleasure to bring readers in the Tri-Cities, and surrounding areas, information about their friends and neighbors and the accomplishments and challenges of our daily lives.

Though I am a writer by trade, mostly because of my terrible math skills, I have estimated that each "Talk of the Town" can have as many as 15 local names and places twice a week. Or, over a year, when leveling it off to 100 columns. That's about 1,500 names a year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In that spirit, let's do a quick recap of some that surfaced in columns during 2019 before we plunge too deeply into 2020.

Helped by horses

We were uplifted quickly in the year when hearing about Josh Martin, an 8-year-old from St. Charles, who was to be highlighted in a documentary film at the Arcada Theatre about the power of horses in providing therapy to children facing physical or mental challenges.

Josh, who has Down syndrome, was deathly afraid of horses until Medieval Times horse trainer Mario Contreras helped him learn to love them. As it turned out, it was hard for Josh's family to keep him away from riding after numerous sessions with Contreras at Equestrian Events stables in Maple Park.

Leanne Deister-Goodwin was named executive director of Lazarus House in St. Charles.
Leanne Deister-Goodwin was named executive director of Lazarus House in St. Charles.
New leader at Lazarus

Leanne Deister-Goodwin took over as executive director at the Lazarus House homeless shelter in St. Charles, replacing the retiring Liz Eakins.

Deister-Goodwin, who had previous experience with social services, first encountered Lazarus House when making a delivery from Harry & David in the last holiday season.

New in St. Charles

We waited for the opening of a new sports bar in downtown St. Charles to fill the 100 S. Riverside Ave. The location had been empty for years after the closing of Chord on Blues.

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It became Flagship on the Fox, a high-end sports bar that opened in late June. Just to the south of Flagship, the Pollyanna Brewing store set up shop.

Keeping kids off drugs

Jack Irwin, a retired Geneva schools counselor, got involved in the Operation Snowball programs in Lithuania. Irwin made several trips to the country to help establish the alcohol and drug intervention program for teens.

Hole-y problems

In what amounted to a public service, I shared information from the Kane County Audubon about thwarting woodpeckers that might be boring holes in the side of your house.

Several months later, I had to use the tips myself when a woodpecker decided the side of my house looked like a good place to try to ruin.

Resale shop closes

Shoppers who love great deals were disappointed to find out that the Hi Hat Resale Shop on Hamilton Street in Geneva was closing. For decades, the consignment store raised money to support Delnor Hospital through its volunteer auxiliary.

Northwestern Medicine had determined it was getting too difficult to keep operating the store, and that it shifted focus away from the hospital's core mission of delivery care.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Restoration of the historic Larrabee House on the St. Mark's Lutheran Church campus continues in Geneva.
  Restoration of the historic Larrabee House on the St. Mark's Lutheran Church campus continues in Geneva. - Rick West | Staff Photographer
Restoring a historic home

The historic Larrabee House at 327 S. Fourth St. in Geneva was the subject of a major renovation project by St. Mark's parishioners who sought to turn the deteriorating building into a church and community center.

William Larrabee was Geneva mayor in 1869, and his home has been an interesting structure just across the street from The Little Traveler. The church worked with city and historic preservation officials to keep this historic home in good shape well into the future.

The church had purchased the building, then known as the Blatner House, for $70,000 in 1960 as a home for its rector.

Vietnam memorial visits Batavia

The Batavia VFW Post 1197 hosted the Vietnam Moving Wall for four days in May, setting up the replica of the Washington, D.C. display on its property between the Fox River bike trail and the post property. As it has done in the nation's capital for years, the wall and its display of those who died in the war stirred plenty of emotions.

Geneva's new Christmas tree

In walking through downtown Geneva one morning, we noticed that the city's traditional Christmas tree in front of the Kane County Courthouse along Third Street was dying.

The chamber of commerce confirmed it would have to chop down that tree and obtain a new one for future holiday celebrations.

Farewell to Little Owl

After 72 years of business on State Street in Geneva, the Arbizanni family closed the Little Owl restaurant and bar and sold it to Karas Restaurant Group.

The new owners were planning a new place to open sometime this year in the spots that housed Little Owl and Flagstone.

50-year milestone

The Fox Valley Career Center on the Kaneland High School campus celebrated its 50th anniversary of teaching area high school students various trades.

Loy Williams of Geneva was the recipient of the TriCity Family Services William D. Barth Award.
Loy Williams of Geneva was the recipient of the TriCity Family Services William D. Barth Award.
Barth Award winner

Loy Williams of Geneva won TriCity Family Service's Barth Award for community volunteerism.

It was a fitting award and tribute to a man whose life message of acceptance and understanding in civil rights needs to be heard.

As a college student in Texas during the turbulent 1960s, Williams met with Martin Luther King to see what he and other students could do to help deliver the reverend's message of love.

Family battles Lyme disease

The frustration in trying to diagnose and treat Lyme disease hit the Nitkey family in St. Charles, particularly hard. The two daughters and a grandchild of Kelly and John Nitkey all suffered from the disease. Friends and neighbors offered support through a fundraiser that would help the girls go to a clinic in Germany for special treatment and also to establish a foundation to help other families dealing with Lyme disease in the future.

Keep those emails coming

Thanks to all of the "Talk of the Town" readers. You keep me energized to write about the many things happening in the Tri-Cities area. I encourage you to stay in touch and send your interesting notes about anything you feel should be mentioned in the column.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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