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2017 Kane County Chronicle Best of the Fox

Batavia couple honored, reveal riverwalk campaign

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Frank Vaisvilas –
Batavia Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roger Breisch (left) presents the 2012 Batavia Citizens of the Year award to Britta and Steve McKenna.

BATAVIA – Britta and Steve McKenna continue to find ways to help Batavia. While they were honored Saturday as the Batavia Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Batavia Citizens of the Year, Britta McKenna announced a campaign to raise funds for the renovation of the boardwalk at the Batavia Riverwalk.

“It is only through our collaborative hands that we can shape Batavia’s future,” Britta McKenna, former executive director of the Batavia MainStreet program, said in announcing the “Purchase a Plank” campaign and accepting the award.

The McKennas have been giving back to Batavia since moving to the city in 1991. One of the first activities Britta McKenna became involved in was the Batavia Riverwalk Committee, which oversaw the construction of the riverwalk.

She became a volunteer board member of the committee and served as its marketing director. A couple of years later, Steve McKenna joined the riverwalk committee as a board member and treasurer.

In 2000, the pair also served as founding board members of the Friends of the Riverwalk. Britta McKenna also spearheaded an effort in 2008 to add a permanent band shell to the Peg Bond Center on the riverwalk.

“I get my energy from the good people I surround myself with,” Britta McKenna said.

Steve McKenna served as one of the founders of Holy Cross Cub Scout Pack 121 in 1992. More recently, he helped lead 2011’s Bulldogs Unleashed fundraising project.

Colorfully painted bulldog statues were on display in downtown Batavia as part of a fundraiser for the Batavia Public Library Foundation, the Batavia Parks Foundation and the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence.

“We came to Batavia 21 years ago not to win awards but participate in the community,” Steve McKenna said. “For me, it’s been easy to be involved in this community.”

For the couple, giving back to Batavia is a team effort.

“This is a team,” Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said. “They are almost interchangeable.”

He also took note of the couple’s parenting skills in raising their two sons, Kyle and Owen.

“If we can credit them for anything, they have done an extraordinary job in parenting,” Schielke said.

Batavia Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roger Breisch also recognized the couple’s contributions.

“Whenever Britta plans something, it always includes Steve,” he said. “These are truly two extraordinary individuals. It was hard to keep up with Britta’s ideas. It was sometimes intimidating.”

The Batavia Citizen of the Year award is selected by a committee of previous recipients and is based on nominations from the community. The award is given for extraordinary contributions to the community.

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