Sunday, July 31, 2005

Daily Herald has an article today on South Elgin's downtown developments.
It doesn’t take long to realize there isn’t much along the slice of riverfront that South Elgin calls downtown...South Elgin is a town without an identifiable image. It doesn’t even have a village logo.
This is one of the reasons that I think a South Elgin/Elgin merger is a good idea. South Elgin is more like an extension of Elgin rather than its own place with its own identity. It's time to rationalize things and put together what should be together. Elgin's development plans already call for it to swing south of McDonald road anyway.

Read the Daily Herald article.
There's an AP article in today's Courier about Illinois Democratic fundraising prowess.
Seven of last fall's 10 most successful fundraising organizations — including the top five — were Democratic, the board of elections found.
Elgin is one of those places where the GOP has lost what was once a very solid advantage. The party organization is probably as much responsible for it as the demographic shifts.

Read the article.
Elgin Cycling Classic now has a website designed by Lynch2.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Great article in The New York Times today about this beautiful building that's gone up in Davenport, Iowa.
For three decades, the moribund downtown of this historic Mississippi River city, where barges heaped with coal ply the water and freight trains rumble day and night, has waited for its future. That future, many here say, has finally materialized in the form of a new museum...
Here's an example of a small city (population 100K), making the right choices in selecting outstanding architects and attracting welcome national and even international attention. That's exactly what we need in Elgin. We missed the last opportunity with the Gail Borden Library, but we've got a new opportunity in the form of a new concert hall. And we ought to seize that opportunity.

It's not just about attention. Attention itself may last 15 minutes. What a building like this or like Calatrava's building in Milwaukee or like Frank Gehry's building in Bilbao does is catalyze change. It changes the way that people perceive their own city. And of course it changes the way that other people perceive it.

We all know that Elgin has an image problem. It's perceived to be, in a sense, backwards. Remember what Charles Falls of Demi & Cooper said when he asked his staff about moving to Elgin:
No one wanted to move to Elgin. After all, there was crime, no parking and poor technology. My staff's picture of Elgin was one of blue-collar with old-time manufacturing.
We can change that perception. A new building designed by a famous architect, a building that will be noticed by the New York Times, will change that perception. We owe it to posterity to make that change happen now.

Read the New York Times article. Need a password?
There's an interesting article in today's Courier about the expanding influence of the SEIU.
The union has beefed up its involvement in city politics, giving the four winners in the April city council election a total of $7,500 and making automated phone calls on their behalf worth more than $6,400...That is thought to be a record level of spending by a single organization or individual in a recent Elgin municipal election.
The article says that 250 city workers are members of the SEIU. With the union being the primary campaign contributor, it makes you wonder if the city council can be expected to do what's best for Elgin and not what's best for city hall workers. Most of the time, the interests will be aligned, but I can think of situations where the interests would diverge. The city may, for example, find that outsourcing certain functions will create a leaner and more efficient city hall organization. That's something that the citizens of Elgin would want: a more efficient local government. The SEIU on the other hand will want to protect their jobs. Will the campaign support of the SEIU affect the votes of the council members? If the SEIU didn't think so, it wouldn't have given them the money. But I trust that our council members are people of integrity, and I give them the benefit of the doubt.

Another surprising fact revealed in the article is how much money was spent in the last council election:
Gilliam and Figueroa both came close to spending $30,000, with Gilliam going through almost $29,700 and Figueroa topping $29,600, the newly released records show.
Unfortunately, the article didn't say how much Noland's campaign spent. If it was materially less than the others, it is possible that his defeat is largely attributable to the SEIU.

The union also appears to have ambitions beyond the city council. Dan Rich, said to be the SEIU candidate, was in a tight primary battle against Mike Noland for the democratic nomination in the last election for state representative. Let's see if they'll put up another candidate against him in the next election.

Read the article.
Business is not good in the downtown Dundees. Maybe they will be more amenable to merging the two villages now. I think they tried once before in 1962, and I don't know why the attempt failed, but I think it's worth considering again.

Read the article.

Friday, July 29, 2005

This map shows the glaring absence of a north-south corridor linking the Fox Valley. I think we need an Elgin to Aurora (I-90 to I-88) highway. What do you think? Posted by Picasa
There was an interesting article in the Daily Herald today about various transportation projects in the Chicagoland region that will receive funding through the Transportation Equity Act.

It also includes $70 million for a Stearns Road bridge over the Fox River near the DuPage-Kane county border and millions for reconstruction of the Route 60 bridge over the Tri-State Tollway near Mettawa.

The region’s biggest single winner is the $207 million set aside for the Prairie Parkway project, a proposed interstate linking I-88 to I-80 and running through Kane, Kendall and Grundy counties.

How important is that Stearns Road bridge? Is that going to have a big impact? A couple of things I'd like to see as far as transportation goes are 1) entrance and exit ramps on US20 and Shales Parkway and 2) a Fox Valley corridor linking I-90 and I-88.

The benefits of on and off ramps at Shales Parkway and US20 are obvious. Nowadays, so many cars traffic through there that there isn't even enough space for left-turning cars to park, which creates a dangerous situation.

The Prairie Parkway project is interesting, because the long-term plans are to eventually connect to I-90 west of Hampshire, which is too far west to do the Fox Valley any good. Look at a map and it's obvious that the Fox Valley is missing a north-south highway, which would cut commute time in half and make the region far more attractive to business and development. One of the reasons that the suburbs between the Fox Valley and Chicago do better at attracting Fortune 500 firms is that they do have major north-south arteries (I-355 and I-294).

Boston has Rte 128 to connect its high-tech firms; North Carolina's Research Triangle is connected by I-40; and Silicon Valley has two major arteries, I-280 and US101. Drive through Silicon Valley on 280 or 101 and you can really appreciate the huge impact that those arteries have on the attractiveness of the region for business. That's why I think that a north-south artery is critical to establishing the Fox Valley as the ideal place within Chicagoland for high-technology and Fortune 500 firms.

After that, the only thing missing is a major research university in the Fox Valley, a situation that can be remedied by asking the General Assembly to establish a University of Illinois at Batavia on the Fermilab campus. Then Illinois will finally have its answer to Silicon Valley.

Obviously this isn't going to be accomplished in the next 5 years. But I think its worth working towards, even it takes 20 or 30 years.

Read the article.

Also see:
Prairie Parkway website
Conservation Foundation comments & map
Silicon Valley map
Fox Valley/Chicagoland map
North by Northwest is one of my favorite movies. It's playing Saturday on the Hemmens lawn.

See the DNA blog for more info.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Apropos, Kane County Extension is hosting a program on native plants on August 11, 2005 (10:00 AM - 12:00 PM). The program is called PrairieScapes - Grow Native!

View the website for more info.
Do we have a proponent of Prairie Style landscaping on the City Council?
David Kaptain took a brief moment at Wednesday's council meeting to float the kind of idea that could become more familiar here, suggesting the city encourage developers to offer homebuyers landscaping options that focus more on native prairie plants rather than traditional lawns.
What a fine idea. Here's where they need to start: Bluff City Cemetery, Lords Park and Wing Park. The problem with these places is that non-native plants and trees have been planted. At Bluff City, it should be easy to rip out the few cypresses, etc. that litter an otherwise beautiful landscape of Burr Oaks on gentle slopes. Do it right, and it can rival Jens Jensen's best cemeteries.

Lords Park and Wing Park will be more challenging because a large number of foreign trees have been planted. They make the park ugly. It's that simple. They look out of place. Our native landscape is one of Burr Oaks and Cottonwood. They were there before the parks were established, probably before there were even people around here. I can't imagine the day when the great oaks have died in these parks and what remains are the foreign trees you can see in any city in America or the world. Welcome to Anywhere, USA. What will happen to our sense of place?

Have you traveled? I've lived in other cities, other countries; I've hit the pavement and traveled coast to coast, and I can say this: Nowhere did I see a landscape anything like what we have: majestic gnarled burr oaks and quivering cottonwoods in fields and on kames with grasses gold and blue, grasses so tall you have sit on top of a horse to see over them. Walk out into the prairie and you see plants like Rattlesnake Master, Compass Plant and Prairie Dock--all unique, beautiful and native to our land. Our land is a fundamental part of our identity; it's who we are. As strongly as we embrace diversity, we must protect our sense of place. The landscape binds us together. We call this place home.

Read the Courier article.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

On the subject of mergers, I think the Dundees should merge together, and I think South Elgin should merge with Elgin.

Some of the benefits to S. Elgin:
  • more diversified tax base
  • access to Elgin water and sewer lines
  • purchasing economies of scale
  • other economies from consolidating government
  • municipal creditworthiness
  • sharing of casino revenues
  • access to Elgin's golf courses, rec center, etc.
You can think of others, I'm sure. Many of these benefits would be shared by Elgin. With a merger, Elgin's borders would extend to St. Charles. The new Elgin would be bigger and better, with a higher profile and enhanced ability to attract Fortune 500 firms. We don't have to worry about competing with South Elgin for businesses or great developments. We could have a unified strategy for growth.

This idea of a merger may sound far-fetched, but there is precedent in Illinois, as well as in other states. According to this article:
Prior to 1946, 35 consolidations occurred in Illinois. Since 1946 there have been at least 12 attempts at consolidation, 6 of which have been successful.
The Courier has an article on E. Dundee's efforts to boost growth.
Some grandiose ideas were kicked around this week as trustees brainstormed on ways to spur economic growth within the village.
I think a regional approach is smart. Another thing they ought to consider is merging with W. Dundee. It's confusing (W. Dundee, E. Dundee, Dundee).

Read the article.
Think big...That is the message from Mark Bagherpour, Kane County's consultant on the Stearns Road Bridge corridor project, the regional Fox River bridge in South Elgin.
Are they serious?

If they're ready to think big, how about a... Calatrava bridge What a sight that would be. What a positive statement it would make about the Fox Valley.

Read the article

Monday, July 25, 2005

The recently-finished $13K mural at the Hemmens.
There are only 5 townhomes left in the Phase I portion of River Park Place (see website).
It's unfortunate that there's a huge piece of kitsch shaped as a frozen American flag marring the landscape of Walton Islands. What's the point? If they wanted a flag on the island, why didn't they put up a real flag? It would have looked 100x better than the current monstrosity.
Walton Islands have transformed over the last dozen years from a run-down, flooded spot known as a haven for the homeless and vagrants to a premier place along the city's riverfront.
Read the article.
Maybe it's time to outsource the Centre's management.
Since it opened in November 2002, the $40 million venture has yet to break even as politicians and city staffers promised.
Read the article.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Klein's (see map) manages to deliver fresh local-grown (Burlington) sweet corn despite the drought.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

East Dundee has hired a consultant to work on their downtown.
Vandewalle will create an inventory of the 400 businesses in the village, devise a marketing plan and determine what kind of development should go where...“This can be one of the coolest little hidden gems of the Fox Valley,” he said.
This is great news for the Fox Valley. And what's good for the Fox Valley is good for Elgin. In fact, I think it would be helpful if all the Fox Valley towns and cities from Elgin to Aurora got together and created a unified marketing strategy in order to promote the Fox Valley as a whole as a place to live, work or visit. If we can promote a positive image of the Fox Valley, then it will be easier to promote a positive image of Elgin as the most significant city and cultural center of the Fox Valley.

We need to work together with the other Fox Valley towns to draw technology companies a little further west, away from Naperville, Schaumburg, etc. Even if we get only 1 or 2 major technology companies, it will have a big impact on the perception of the attractiveness of the Fox Valley for business. And the time is ripe for this, because so many office workers are moving further west. It makes perfect sense that their employers will at least consider the benefits of moving west with their employees. Whether these businesses initially move into Elgin or not, Elgin will benefit in many ways. I will blog more about this in the future.

Read the article.
Yep, drought or no drought, we still have plenty of water.
An Elgin Water Department study also concluded that even with all of the projected growth — most notably about 15,000 rooftops coming to the far west side — the city’s current system can accommodate a maximum of 42 million gallons daily through 2035.
Don't be a water hog though...Lest we suck up all the water before it gets to Aurora. I know, I know, you wish it were Naperville.

Read the article.
I wish we could hear about this happening in Elgin.
Representatives of Cambridge Homes...pitched an idea in April to build the $18 million "community learning center" for about 1,000 elementary and middle school pupils...the school would be constructed from prefabricated building units and employ teachers from a private company.
But it appears there's not a single charter school in Elgin.

Read the article.

See the list of Illinois charter schools.
Read about the Prairie Crossing Charter School.
Glad they realized Kjellander isn't governor or running for governor.
"Steve was not going to run for governor focused on removing Bob Kjellander as committeeman," Proft said. "The campaign is so much bigger ... than Bob Kjellander. We didn't want to get bogged down."
Rauschie has a decent chance and it would be nice to have an Elginite in the governor's mansion, but the GOP's best hope is Jim Edgar.

Read the Courier article.
Rauschie is right about vouchers. Elgin especially needs a voucher program. The lack of school choice is keeping responsible parents out of some areas of the city that could really benefit from their presence in the community.
Though short on specifics, Rauschenberger said schools need structural change: longer hours, more consolidation of elementary and high school districts, a voucher program for low-income areas, uniform teacher contracts statewide, and a long-term "vision" for improving education.
Read the Courier article.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Looks like community schools are working.
Improved scores on state assessment tests taken in the spring bumped two elementary schools off the state’s warning list, initial results show.
Now all we need are more choices for students and parents. In other words, charter schools and vouchers.

Read the Herald article.
There is talk of a veterans memorial, which is a great idea. We really do need a monument to honor our hometown heroes.
A representative from Hitchcock Design Group explained to the newly formed Veterans Memorial Park committee that the 40-foot by 80-foot site along the riverfront will be a high-traffic area with good public access.
They don't like the site behind GBL and want a site north of GBL (Gail Borden) but that would be too far from the downtown. A memorial is sufficient. We don't need a new park to contain it. Can't a site be found in the downtown. One great site that comes to mind would be the park in front of the original Gail Borden Library. It's a central location and there's plenty of space for Memorial Day services, etc.

I hope that Hitchcock Design Group is participating only in the site selection for this memorial. Here's a great opportunity to hold a design competition for an architecturally outstanding memorial. Let's not waste it. We should build a memorial in the tradition of Maya Lin's Vietnam War Memorial. In other words, it should be modern and striking.

Read the article.
Elgin isn't one of the best places to live in America according to CNN/Money Magazine (boohoo!). But at least its a contender. And apparently it has very good air. The average score for the best places is on the right and Elgin's score is on the left column. 100 is the national average; the lower the score the better:

Air pollution index
55 90
Personal crime risk
72 69
Property crime risk
52 78

Elgin scores better than the best places average for property crime, and trails the best places average for personal crime only slightly. That's pretty good considering the size of the city (look at Rockford and Peoria's crime numbers--worse than Elgin's by orders of magnitude). Also interesting is that Elgin's student to teacher ratio is better than Naperville, which was ranked as the 3rd best place to live in America.

See for yourself how Elgin stacks up:
St. Charles

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Is the city going too far?
Last year, the city council passed an ordinance requiring all free-standing billboards to be removed within seven years. In addition, the city has prohibited the construction of new billboards.
Read the article about changes in city signage laws.
This is turning out to be the summer of brown grass but I think Elgin is faring better than most places.
Hansen said the problem is regional because the village shares the same water source with its neighbors from Elgin to Joliet...He said Aurora has put an extra strain on the aquifer because the amount of Fox River water the city can use has been diminished by the low water level in the river. Aurora can draw over 50 percent of its water from the river, but when levels are low it uses more water from wells, he said.

I've never heard anything about a water shortage in Elgin.
Am I wrong?

Read the article.
Being on stage for the Ninth may make an audition worthwhile...
On March 3-5, the Choral Union will be featured in the Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Read the Daily Herald article about auditions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A thunderous opening for the Kane County Fair today. It'll run through Sunday, July 24th at the Kane County Fairgrounds on Randall Road in St. Charles. See more pictures.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Judson laid the cornerstone for their new $25M building (more info) by Alan Short, a Cambridge professor and expert on "green" building design. It's nice having a speaker for representative...

Such uniqueness paved the way for $7.25 million in federal funds drawn from the energy and water appropriations bill with the help of U.S. Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Plano Republican.

Read the Daily Herald article.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The New Invaders (view their website), a tribute band, will play a free concert Tuesday 7pm at Wing Park.

The ESO Brass Ensemble played Sunday at Lords Park Pavilion as part of the summer-time Concert in the Park series.
• Now that the Crocker Theater is gone, I'm glad. It was an old, unsightly building and had no use. It just reminded me of how old Elgin was and how long we waited for growth and revitalization. Good riddance.
• I hope we annex all the property in Campton Township. I hope we annex Elburn, Maple Park and Wasco. I hope we annex every piece of property we can find. Grow or die.
Mike Baily let's it all out. Read his Courier column.
Unincorporated areas, like Campton Township, primarily get their water through scores of private wells. But Campton residents have long complained the water levels in their wells have been decreasing —some wells having even gone dry.
You'd think all of these people would be clamoring for Elgin annexation. Read the Daily Herald article.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Hemmens mural is done (read the article).

The city’s cultural arts commission, along with local businesses, paid for the $13,000 project titled “Fei Fei’s Dream.” Powers derived the inspiration for the mural from a Chinese playwright who asked him to put her in the mural.

“It was my imagining of how a girl now teaching English in the provinces of China would imagine a parade in Elgin.”

Sounds nice. Maybe I'll check it out this afternoon when I swing by the library. I'll snap a few pics and share them if I do.

Hawthorne Hills is open. Here's the map. Don't miss the last two paragraphs of the article (read the article).

New blogspot: Elgin trivia on a range of topics from the United Way's September Day of Caring to room layouts in the new Fountain Square development in downtown Elgin is featured on a new blogspot called the "The Elginite." The blogspot, located at is an online forum. Visitors can use the site to comment on and reply to other writers.

"The Elginite" is one of several new blogspots with Elgin news, including the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin's blog at

They make a great point about comments. You don't need to register or have an account to comment, so please do so. Let's get a lively community forum going here. Thank you for the write-up, Daily Herald!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The city will air a segment on local businesses each month.
The city has a $70,000 annual budget to produce “Elgin Today” and “Elgin Up-Close.” But nobody tracks how many people watch the shows, so it is not known how many viewers the segments reach, Olafson said.
Read the article.

Friday, July 15, 2005

This is from an article ( read the article) that appeared last month in the Tribune. It shows how one architecturally-significant building can change a city.
...Milwaukee Art Museum was just an art museum. Now it's become the Sydney Opera House of the Midwest—a building greater than its function—and symbol of the New Milwaukee.

"I don't think what was anticipated was the extent the museum would be loved—by not just the city but by the whole of Wisconsin," said David Gordon... "It's raised people's expectations of what can be done in the city.

"When Mark Attanasio, the new owner [since January, officially] of the Brewers, came on his first visit to Milwaukee, he was brought to the building—and he said, publicly, 'The city that's capable of doing this is a city that's going places.' It had a profound influence on his decision to buy the Brewers.

Makes you think... What could a new concert hall do for Elgin?

Read the article.

There were a couple of interesting articles in the Courier today. One is about the Gifford Park Association (read the article) and the other is about entryway improvements (read the article).

From the entryway story:
Also at Wednesday night's meeting, council members moved ahead with the purchase of 279 North Spring St. for $172,000...Originally built as a single-family home, the property contains four apartments and stands just north of Kimball Street and across from 272 N. Spring St., which the city also owns, having purchased it for $135,000 approximately six months ago.
From the GPA story:
Though the association purchases these distressed homes at low-ball prices and resells them at market value, the project is not a money-maker for the GPA..."We don't expect to come out ahead," Segel said. "That's not the goal. (It's) more of a way to give back to the neighborhood a dwelling that is a source of pride."
I thought it was interesting that these articles appeared at the same time. I don't know how much the city and the GPA works together, but it looks like there's considerable room for synergy. They could even involve other nonprofits and enlist at-risk youths to help paint and rehabilitate the homes. The work would be simple, but the youths would 1) earn money 2) learn good work habits, like showing up on time 3) develop a preservation ethic, which they can carry into their communities. It makes sense to me, but tell me if I'm wrong.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Managed to snap a few pics before 7/4 decorations were taken down.
The city council voted unanimously to fund a study of the proposed concert hall.

Read the Herald article or the Courier article.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

This article on Lao food appeared in today's New York Times. It may be that Lao food is finally getting the attention it deserves.
If 3 Nagas were transported to New York, the lines would stretch out the door...Nothing we tasted reminded us of Thailand or of Vietnam.
There are few Lao restaurants in the United States. In fact, even New York City has no Lao restaurant. But Elgin has at least two restaurants that serve Lao dishes: White Pearl on Mclean, and Akina's downtown. Give it a try.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Suggest a project for the United Way's Day of Caring:
United Way will match projects with willing volunteers. Visit the Web site to submit your project suggestions, or call the United Way of Elgin office at (847) 741-2259.
Read the article.
The Courier has an article (read the article) on the new concert hall under discussion. I was glad to see that the Seigle property east of the library is one of the sites being considered.

"I think that you combine a concert hall ... the library, the recreational facility, the Hemmens, all into one big cultural campus, (then) you drive across Kimball (Street) and you see a real city," Pastreich said. "What Elgin has that nobody else around here, or almost nobody else around here has, is a real downtown. What Elgin has that nobody else has is the state's second-largest orchestra."

He added, "If it can happen, I'm now convinced that it would change this community more than anything else that I've seen in the last 10 years. The question is, Is it practical?"

Should Rauschie's DUI record take him out of the running? You decide:

Rauschenberger pleaded guilty to DUI in 1994, after being arrested by police in suburban Hanover Park on his way home from a campaign fundraiser. He registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.12, slightly above the legal limit at the time, which was 0.10.

Rauschie is hitting back at Kjellander for earning fees from Bear Stearns. But Kjellander is a lobbyist. What's wrong with him earning a fee for his work?

Kjellander has not been accused of a crime, but some Republicans have been sharply critical of the deal, saying that GOP leaders shouldn't be feeding at the trough of a Democratic administration.

That sounds awful; as though it were acceptable to "feed at the trough" of a Republican administration. It reeks of corruption. Read the Courier article.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Fountain Square has posted their floor plans. Check it out.
The Spiess building won't come down until September, according to an article that appeared today in the Courier.

Development of the Spiess building site is the first phase of the RSC project. The second phase includes another 92 units just to the north. Those are expected to be built in 2007. Fountain Square will bring 11,000 square feet of new retail space as part of the second phase.

"The whole face of South Grove between Chicago and Prairie streets will change dramatically," said Ray Moller, Elgin's director of economic development.

Read the article.

Spent some time Sunday afternoon at Town & Country's Providence development, one of the new subdivisions on the not-that-far-west side. It's on Route 20 just past Randall Road.

Everyone's having fun at the 27th annual Greek Fest presented by St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Elgin. Read the Daily Herald article.

What can you expect if you go? Here is a quick look at the festival by the numbers:

•10,000: The number of people expected to show up for this year’s festival, Savas said.

•3,000: That’s how many pieces of baklava parishioners made for this year’s festival, and for good reason. Baklava, a dessert with flaky layers, nuts, honey, spices and syrup, is the festival’s top-selling pastry, said Chrysoula Zannis, one of the bakers.

The festival continues today from noon until 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 10 p.m. It also includes traditional Greek music, a clown, rides, live Greek dance performances and a Greek marketplace.

I was there yesterday. It was great to see a lively Greek community in Elgin. The festival ends Sunday night. Don't forget to order louks. They're very tasty, doughnut-like things.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Onion set this funny story in Elgin.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The ESO may finally be getting a new concert hall:
So far, preliminary estimates put the cost of a new concert hall at about $60 million. And four possible locations in downtown are being considered, said Michael Pastreich, executive director of the ESO. He would not reveal the potential sites.

I like the site across from the library, where the Siegel warehouse is standing...The important thing here is that we go for something really oustanding. Another ho-hum design isn't going to cut it. We need a masterpiece by an internationally-recognized architect that will put Elgin on the map, in the same way Santiago Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum addition put that city on the map.

I'm reminded of the great story that is Columbus, Indiana, where one wise philanthropic organization's decision to pay architecture fees for public buildings, made the otherwise average city a destination. From the city's website:
Cummins Engine Foundation offered to pay the architect’s fee for any new school that was designed by an architect selected from a list supplied by the Foundation. Later, they expanded the program to include a variety of public buildings. Other companies and church congregations also decided to seek architects who would add to the community’s quality of design. Names like Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, Richard Meier, and I.M. Pei led the American Institute of Architects to rank Columbus sixth in a list that included Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington DC for architectural innovation and design.
And from the city's Wikipedia entry:
Columbus is famous for its architectural designs. Public buildings and statues, designed by such individuals as Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and others, are found throughout the city. Six of its buildings, built between 1942 and 1965, are National Historic Landmarks, and 60 other buildings sustain the Bartholomew County capital seat's reputation as a showcase of modern architecture.
Let's be the Columbus of Illinois, starting with this new concert hall. If we're going to put $60M into it, it's worth it to spend a little more on the architecture fees. The resulting building can become an icon of our city and transform the way that people--both residents and visitors--view Elgin. This is a major opportunity to brand Elgin as a forward-looking place, the nexus of the Fox Valley and Illinois's second city.

This is news to follow. Read the article.
Rauschie wants to refer local eminent domain to the General Assembly.
Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, R-Elgin, will introduce a bill this fall that would require the Illinois General Assembly and governor to approve eminent domain cases for private development.

Most development of blighted area is private development. How about a compromise instead: No eminent domain affecting owner-occupied housing without General Assembly approval?

Read the article.
The Courier had an article on Elgin's farmers market:

Miess estimated that roughly 200 to 300 people visit the market every Thursday — most arrive during lunchtime and after work.

"There are slow times, good times and fast times," Rankin said about the market. "Elgin is probably one of the smallest markets, but it's consistent.

I think it's small because nobody knows about it. Even I discovered it only by accident when going to the post office one Thursday.
$800K vs. $15M

Rauschenberger said he already has raised more than $800,000 — nearly matching the $974,000 he spent on his entire U.S. Senate race...Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his estimated $15 million-and-growing campaign fund presumably awaits.

Read the article.
This article was in yesterday's Courier News:
Rauschenberger, however, said Topinka "does not inspire the confidence" of the Republican base and is too closely associated with indicted former Gov. George Ryan. Topinka also is linked to the Republicans' choice to nominate ultraconservative firebrand Alan Keyes as a replacement for Jack Ryan in the Senate race, after Ryan's infamous sex scandal derailed his candidacy.

"She's still wounded from that," Rauschenberger said.
I was surprised that Rauschenberger said that. Most newspapers during the senate election reported that he and Dave Syverson were the ones pushing for an Alan Keyes nomination. What's the real story?