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Thumbs up, thumbs down: Free meals on Thanksgiving a blessing to all

Thumbs up: To the churches and organizations that offered community Thanksgiving meals. While the free meals, to be sure, help out the less fortunate, they’re also a blessing to those who are far away from family and friends, or perhaps estranged from their families, as well as to those who are intimidated by the prospect of putting together a big holiday spread. The fellowship is as important as the food in making the holiday meaningful.

Thumbs down: To thieves who took the Huskies on Parade statue “Grace” from in front of We Care Pregnancy Clinic at 403 N. Fifth St. in DeKalb last week. Clinic Executive Director Katie Mehne noticed the statue was missing Nov. 16. The statue, one of many Huskies around the area, was created by Northern Illinois University student Lauren Meranda, who covered it with broken pieces of pottery and china as part of 2008’s Huskies on Parade. The public art project benefited a scholarship fund in honor of the five students who died in the Feb. 14, 2008, shooting at NIU. “Grace” is a beautiful statue and should be returned by whoever took it. Anyone with information about the theft can call CrimeStoppers at 815-895-3272 to leave an anonymous tip, or call DeKalb Police at 815-748-8400.

Thumbs up: To Jill Farris and her Be Thankful Workouts on Thanksgiving morning at Haish Gym & Sports and Recreation Center. The annual event featured three workouts and raised money and canned goods for charity. One participant reported the morning exercise made him feel good all day and exude the good mood to everyone he saw. We think it’s a great way to kick off a holiday meal and the holiday season.

Thumbs down: To DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, who remains in the camp of those trying to throw cold water on efforts to allow cameras inside Illinois’ courtrooms. On Wednesday, video and still cameras were inside the courtroom documenting the proceedings at the DuPage County Courthouse, where a suburban Chicago woman pleaded not guilty to killing two children. Afterward, Berlin said that he didn’t notice the cameras during the hearing, but that they could be a distraction and “What happens in a courtroom is serious business, not entertainment.” We agree. But the fact remains it is serious public business, and the public should be able to view the proceedings, as they do in many other states. Given that the latest experiments with cameras in courtrooms have not caused problems, Illinois should be next.

Thumbs up: To the new 43-acre Prairie Oaks Forest Preserve located at 7535 Cherry Valley Road northwest of Kingston. The park, which opened late in October, features one of the rarest ecosystems in the Midwest and multiple habitats. It has hiking trails and picnic areas and is great for birdwatching, nature photography and environmental educational studies, according to DeKalb County Forest Preserve superintendent Terry Hannan. The park land was purchased with the help of a state grant and county tax revenue. The park will be open year-round. Go check it out.

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