Thumbs up: To the DeKalb City Council’s decision not to implement new rules on cutting or removing trees. For the past few months, DeKalb leaders have struggled with their options for protecting trees in the wake of ComEd clear-cutting trees along the Nature Trail – a 1.5-mile prairie path located between Sycamore Road and First Street. City officials do not have the authority to regulate ComEd in its easement, and DeKalb aldermen were reluctant to regulate trees on private property without a compelling safety reason. It’s great to see anyone in government decide against pursuing an issue that is beyond their authority. It’s much more common these days for government to find ways to expand their authority into any and all issues. We appreciate the restraint shown by DeKalb city officials.
Thumbs down: To another tough basketball season for the men’s and women’s teams at Northern Illinois University. Neither team reached double-digit wins and both were eliminated in the opening round of the Mid-American Conference tournaments. Obviously every year can’t bring triumphs on the level of an Orange Bowl berth, but it’s been a tough string of seasons on the men’s side. The team has lost at least 20 games in seven consecutive seasons. They’re drawing a little more than 1,000 fans to the Convocation Center on average, compared with the more than 4,000 who turned up for the DeKalb-Sycamore game this year. Some more winning could improve those attendance numbers and give Huskies fans something to look forward to during these long winters. Hopefully NIU’s next athletic director can help bring about positive change on the hardwood.
Thumbs up: To DeKalb County Judge Robbin Stuckert for her refusal to grant another delay in the trial of William “Billy” Curl. Curl, 36, of DeKalb was indicted more than two years ago on charges including rape and murder in connection with the October 2010 slaying of Northern Illinois University freshman Antinette “Toni” Keller. Stuckert rejected a request Wednesday from defense attorneys to delay the trial out of concern that prosecutors would call an expert witness only days before the scheduled trial date. Curl’s trial already has been delayed twice, and the families of both the accused and the victim are ready for some kind of resolution. Curl’s trial remains on schedule to begin April 11.
Thumbs up: To 50 years of making a difference. Opportunity House was founded in 1963 by a group of parents who bucked the convention of the time and, rather than putting their children with developmental disabilities in institutions, developed a way for them to live in and contribute to the community. Since then, the organization has helped people with a range of disabilities live independently or semi-independently; to get and keep jobs; and to have vibrant social lives. Not only do the clients benefit from such services but also the entire community benefits from those clients’ contributions.
Thumbs up: To the five recipients of the 2013 DeKalb County Excellence in Education Awards, which were handed out this week at Kishwaukee College. The awards, started in 1999, recognize teachers, administrators and support staff for their dedication to their schools, students and communities. This year’s recipients were Jennifer Parsons of North Elementary School in Sycamore, Carol Vest of Clinton Rosette Middle School in DeKalb, Thomas Sodaro of Herman E. Dummer School in Sandwich, Wendy Kuryliw of Lincoln Elementary School in DeKalb and Kara Poynter of Sycamore High School. Congratulations on a job well done.
Thumbs up: To the early results of DeKalb’s housing bureau. City Housing Coordinator Carl Leoni told DeKalb aldermen Monday that he has opened 32 cases involving people committing crimes in and around their apartment since he started the job last month. Of those 32, at least six of the cases have moved into the eviction process. One building on the 800 block of Greenbrier Road was boarded up after city officials and the landlord realized the building was home to squatters and some drug activity. Another out-of-town landlord didn’t realize his property on Lewis Street had received 13 calls since Jan. 1. This new bureau and its cases should be monitored closely, but these early results seem to indicate Leoni is targeting the types of problems leaders hope to reduce.