Column: Looking back at an interesting 2010

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Dec. 31, 2010

A lot happened in 2010, but some stories resonated more than others. The Kane County Chronicle’s top 10 stories of the year cover a range of subjects, from business news to court news to municipal news.

It was an interesting year, to say the least.

We had our business story of the year in the Delnor–Central DuPage Hospital planned merger.

We had plenty of stories involving the courts, as St. Charles alderman David Richards pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct before stepping down from office, Coroner Chuck West continues to fight the official misconduct charges levied against him and Circuit Clerk Deborah Seyller takes on the county board on how county offices are funded.

And in politics, our stories of the year were those that we heard the most about – the ascendancy of Randy Hultgren to Congress and the Batavia Park District referendum that had the city abuzz.

We also had a fatal plane crash, an earthquake that caused little to no damage, an unprecedented amount of liquor violations during Geneva’s Festival of the Vine and a potentially huge commercial/residential project on the west side of St. Charles that the council voted down.

It’s not easy choosing the top 10 stories of the year, but we feel we chose the 10 stories that best encapsulated 2010. Now, we sit back, relax – just for a moment – and prepare to tackle the stories that will pop up in 2011.

• • •

Then there are those stories that didn’t quite make the cut:

• Recent Geneva High School graduate Lexie Tomchek appeared on “America’s Next Top Model” in the fall before being eliminated close to the halfway mark.

• The St. Charles Countryside Fire Protection District decided to break ties with the city of St. Charles and to contract with a service provider to open two stations – one east and one west of the Fox River. It has received three proposals – from the St. Charles Fire Department, Metro Paramedic Services Inc. and AES American Emergency Services – and it plans on picking one by Feb. 1. This is a developing story, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it lands on our top 10 stories of 2011 list.

• An independent movie “Munger Road” filmed in downtown St. Charles in the summer, shutting down some of the streets.

• Viking Office Supply in Geneva closed, as did the Dominick’s in St. Charles, while many new businesses – especially restaurants – opened in the Tri-Cities.

• The St. Charles library referendum was voted down; the Geneva Library Board voted to spend $2 million to buy the former Cetron building as the site for a new library; Charlestowne Mall got a new owner; “Straight Pride” caused an uproar at St. Charles North High School; Comcast outages outraged subscribers; and former Catholic priest Alejandro Flores, who was accused of sexually abusing two teenage boys in St. Charles, pleaded guilty to a count of criminal sexual assault.

• • •

A look at our web numbers shows which stories brought in the most amount of online readers. The following are the five stories that received the highest number of web views this year:

1. “Girl, 5, left off D303 bus – alone”: On Aug. 25, 5-year-old Aaliyah Humme was found by her mother wandering on Third Street nearly an hour after the District 303 bus had let her off on the first day of school. The school district took corrective action to ensure it wouldn’t happen again with a student.

2. “Batavia residents shoot down rec center proposal again”: One of our top 10 stories of the year.

3. ” ’06 East High School grad killed in car crash”: On Jan. 13, 22-year-old Corey McIlvaine, a 2006 St. Charles East High School graduate, tragically died after his car crossed the center line on Illinois Route 25 and collided with another vehicle, Wayne police said.

4. “Death threats probed at Fox Mill”: In May, Campton Hills police passed on to the FBI allegations of electronic death threats made in March against the children and pets of members of the Fox Mill homeowners association board. No charges came out of the allegations.

5. “Geneva principal ticketed for driving 103 mph”: On Oct. 16, Geneva Middle School North principal Lawrence Bidlack was charged with driving 103 mph in a 45-mph zone. He later pleaded guilty on Dec. 7, paid a $300 fine and was granted court supervision until March 1, 2011.

• • •

This also was a year for loss in the community as some of the cornerstones of our communities passed away.

We lost longtime Batavia alderman Linnea Miller; Geneva building commissioner Chuck Lencioni, who was this year’s grand marshal in the Swedish Days parade; Bruce Conley, the owner of Conley Funeral Home and the founder of Conley Outreach Community Services; St. Charles Plan Commission member and architect Jim Spear; longtime Elburn trustee Frances James; Warren Swenson of Swenson Heating and Air Conditioning; Harold Warren, a charter member of the Exchange Club of the Tri-Cities; Roger Ness of City Barbershop; volunteers Mildred Bailey and Marilyn Robinson of Batavia; any many others who tragically passed this year, including my great-grandmother.

They all will be missed dearly.

Joe Grace is the editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at jgrace@kcchronicle.com or call him at 630-845-5368.

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