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Olson: Who’s that rattling the windows?

Ashley Bell took this photo of a Navy F/A-18 Hornet over DeKalb last weekend. Bell said this was the aircraft near DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport people heard overhead last weekend. The jet is part of squadron VFA-83.
Ashley Bell took this photo of a Navy F/A-18 Hornet over DeKalb last weekend. Bell said this was the aircraft near DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport people heard overhead last weekend. The jet is part of squadron VFA-83.

The windows were rattling in the kitchen of our house in Sycamore on Sunday afternoon and we weren’t quite sure why.

Something in the sky overhead was making a racket. I thought maybe a commercial jetliner was flying too low over the area. My wife thought it was a missile attack. (She has a habit of going worst-case scenario.)

We were both wrong. Turns out it was a Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet flying out of DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport.

At least, that’s what Ashley Bell, who works as a line service technician at the airport, told me this week.

“It was like a training mission kind of thing,” Bell said. “[The pilot] came out here to visit his family and then went back to base.”

Bell said the pilot was a Navy lieutenant who flew the jet from his base in Norfolk, Va. He landed in DeKalb late in the afternoon Jan. 26, then took off again Sunday around noon. The flight time from here to Virginia is about an hour when you’ve got afterburners, he said.

Bell sent me a photo of the plane airborne over DeKalb.

Apparently for some who grew up when the Cold War was at its height, it wasn’t uncommon to hear fighter jets overhead and sometimes, sonic booms when they passed the speed of sound overhead.

As a child of the ’80s, the only jets I commonly heard were the passenger planes flying into O’Hare Airport. So I get a little alarmed when the windows rattle.

At least now, I can tell the wife that Kim Jong-un definitively was not firing at us. Good info to have.

• • •

Corn Fest returns: People have asked me multiple times since I arrived here – when will they move Corn Fest back downtown?

I thought the answer was never. The setup at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport was contained in an isolated area that was easy to park cars and to police.

But it’s obvious that a lot of people really missed the community feel that Corn Fest had when it was in downtown DeKalb.

As we first reported online Friday morning, the festival could return to downtown just as this summer comes to a close. Hopefully, the City Council approves the plan later this month and moving it back a week to Labor Day weekend won’t take a bite out of the attendance numbers.

The early public reaction to the plan seems overwhelmingly positive. A lot of people liked the feel of the festival in the downtown area, and some local businesses benefited from having so many potential customers nearby.

Last year was my first Corn Fest, so I’m curious to see how different it is when the backdrop is downtown rather than the airport. Looks like festival chairwoman Lisa Angel and company have some work ahead of them. Good luck.

• • •

DeKalb Chamber: It’s that time of year for annual meetings of local chambers of commerce, and this week it was the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s turn to take the stage at Altgeld Hall at Northern Illinois University.

It’s always interesting to see who receives recognition. As the chamber’s inductees into its Business Leaders Hall of Fame were introduced, I found myself wondering “where do they find the time?”

The first new hall of famer was Frank Roberts, the president of Re:New DeKalb. He was introduced by Jennifer Groce, who nominated him and who also happens to be one of this year’s candidates for mayor of DeKalb.

Groce read off the various activities in which Roberts has had his hand, including the Kishwaukee College Foundation, the DeKalb County Community Foundation, the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp., and the Jacob Haish Foundation. Roberts also is a member of the Finance and Facilities Advisory Committee for School District 428.

“At the end of the day, if you can say you learned something new and met some great people and tried to move the needle forward, it’s a great day,” Roberts told the crowd.

Dan Templin was next to the lectern to introduce his nominee for the hall of fame: Jerry Smith.

Smith, who came to DeKalb in 1961 as an NIU freshman, spent 30 years at Castle-PrinTech – including as the editor of the old DeKalb County Journal. He was executive director of the DeKalb County Community Foundation for nine years before he retired in December 2008.

He’s been president of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp., the DeKalb chamber, DeKalb United Way, and Kishwaukee Kiwanis, and he’s officially been recognized as a “Huskie Legend” by the NIU Athletic Department.

He’s also on the hospitality committee for IHSA Destination DeKalb, the group working to prepare for the state football championships’ arrival in the city in November. (There are only about 300 days left.)

There’s a lot more to his bio, but you get the picture.

“This community has provided my family and me so very much,” Smith said. “This honor means so very much to me.”

In the case of both Smith and Roberts, the recognition they’ve received seems the least we can do for all they’ve done to try to make the community a better place.

• • •

Women in combat: I didn’t really bat an eye when the military announced this week that women would be allowed to serve – and die – in combat.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said it right when he told reporters that women already are on the front lines overseas despite an official ban on combat, “and the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.”

Women have been dying in combat without permission for centuries, anyway. My own sister-in-law, Jennifer, spent nine months deployed in Afghanistan with the Air Force a couple of years ago.

Her life was in danger whether or not she had official permission to serve in combat. She says she can’t tell me what she was doing over there, apparently because its classified, although she might just enjoy not telling a journalist.

I could probably win an arm-wrestling match against Jen, but if a war broke out tomorrow, you’d probably rather have her with you than me in combat. (I’m not much of a shot, and I’ve never had any training.)

If there are women who want and can handle an infantry role in the military, train them and let them do it. So many women already serve – and many have died – for our country in battle. Their sacrifice and bravery is just as valuable as those of men.

• • •

Huskies fans invited: Sycamore’s Mayor Ken Mundy wants to get some folks wearing red and black at the City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at 308 W. State St.

The city plans to recognize the Northern Illinois University football team for a great season in which they won their second consecutive Mid-American Conference title and earned a berth the Orange Bowl in Miami.

This year’s roster included two Sycamore High grads, 2010 alum cornerback Marckie Hayes and 2008 alum tight end Jason Schepler. The council plans to read a proclamation and make some remarks early in the meeting and is hoping for a good crowd. So if you can, show them some hometown support Monday night.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, or email

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