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Rain, rain, go away …
By Amy Mack | Daily Herald Columnist

Preston Daniels, then 17 months, watched as his mom, Kristine, of St. Charles, shopped for fresh vegetables at last year's Harvest Market in downtown Elgin. The market is growing each week, organizers say.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/18/2008 12:07 AM

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Pooped from sandbagging last summer, Algonquin resident Roger Baumgartner plopped down in his lawn chair near the overflowing Fox River when a news photographer stopped by.

The resulting front page photo turned him instant celebrity for a bit.

The water receded, only to threaten again earlier this spring. Now it's back for the third flood watch in less than a year. Again, news photographers are stopping by.

And again, Roger is keeping close watch on the river he's lived near for 38 years. Like most who live near the water, he knows well the risks.

Despite the woes, he still has his sense of humor and is warning the Algonquin assessor not to raise his property values if the water comes so high it turns his home -- one house away from the Fox -- into riverfront property.

Although he's concerned about flooding, he knows it's the whims of nature.

"It's just the way this stuff goes," Roger said, sympathizing more with those hit hard by last week's storms in the Crystal Lake area when high winds took down a number of trees.

Does he wish the weather would calm a bit? Sure ... but he wouldn't mind one more blast of wind.

"I kind of wish those winds would just blow the high prices off the gas station signs," he said.

Now he's talking.

'Conserve & Preserve'

In a town with too much water right now, it might seem ironic to celebrate conservation. But we all know how quickly the tide can turn during the parched days of summer. Algonquin officials invite you and your kids to join them from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday on the Woods Creek bike path for "Conserve and Preserve -- It's What Nature Deserves." Fun, games, plenty of info and, always, a pretty setting in this "green" village will greet you. The path is between Bunker Hill Drive and Woodscreek Lane.

To market, to market

Green is the word of the week, it seems. Downtown Elgin's program coordinator, Jennifer Benson, tells me those visiting this week's Harvest Market can get a free energy-efficient light bulb Thursday after 2 p.m.

They'll have an environmental education booth joining the array of farmers and bakers, with samples from downtown shop Ravenheart Coffee's 100 percent sustainable shade-grown coffee from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- that's coffee grown under the rain forest's natural canopy vs. sun-grown coffee where the rain forest was chopped down.

You'll also find a variety of goods at the open-air market at the Civic Center parking lot on the corner of East Highland and Douglas avenues.

Jennifer asked me to let some of you newcomers know the market gets bigger throughout the summer. They'll get five additional vendors in coming days and more as produce comes in. Tomatoes, anyone?

Free flick!

Hey, are you looking for cheap family fun close to home? You'll find just that at the Dundee Township Park District 2008 Summer Concert and movie series that kicks off this Friday at Randall Oaks Park on Randall Road, just south of Binnie Road.

They'll have the Fabulous Murray Brothers -- a musical variety comedy act featuring impersonations, audience participation and laughter -- from 7 to 8:30 p.m., followed by the movie "Barnyard."

To celebrate the opening of the Randall Oaks Zoo, you can also enjoy "Dollar Days" at the petting zoo with $1 per person admission and a free bag of feed per family from 5 to 7 p.m.

'Hope'

Holly McNeill, a vocalist and stage actress known to many of you for her work at South Elgin High School, where she teaches theater and broadcasting, will perform a benefit concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at the First United Methodist Church of West Dundee, 318 W. Main St. It's also the debut of her new CD, "Hope," featuring inspirational songs from Broadway, Gospel, and contemporary Christian to Cabaret. She said those songs took on new meaning when she faced the challenge of multiple sclerosis. "They all have the same message of hope, whatever your circumstances are," Holly says. Tickets are $15 and you can learn more by calling (847) 426-3761 or at firstumcdundee.net.