Thumbs up: To Northern Illinois University head football coach Rod Carey’s new addition to the NIU football team schedule: The Huskie Bowl. Carey, who took over for Dave Doeren as head coach before the Huskies played in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, wants to add a little more fun and competition to the end of spring practice season with the new game. Two coaches will draft teams, the offensive and defensive coordinators will work with both sides, Carey will watch. Although much of the country is enthralled by March Madness, it’s not too soon to start thinking about football in Huskie Country, and anything that adds some excitement to the spring practice routine is welcome.
Thumbs down: To Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s decision to drop an assault weapons ban from a gun-control measure being introduced in the Senate. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, decided to drop the ban on assault weapons because he thought it would jeopardize the chances of passing any gun control legislation.
To some that’s pragmatic, but after all the talk about gun control, our representatives should at least have an up-or-down vote on an assault weapons ban and be accountable to voters afterward. Too often, elected officials take the easy way out on controversial issues, rather than take a stand and risk alienating constituents. But if we’re going to have a serious debate on how guns should be regulated in America, we should not deal in half-measures.
Thumbs up: To the NIU Board of Trustees for promoting Bill Nicklas to vice president for public safety and community relations. Nicklas has served the university in multiple roles since joining the team in October 2011, most recently as acting director of public safety. He was city manager of DeKalb from 1992 to 1997 and held the same position in Sycamore from 1998 to 2011. In his new role, Nicklas will continue to oversee the public safety department and use his municipal experience to work with leaders in DeKalb and Sycamore to strengthen relationships. Nicklas is well respected by leaders across DeKalb County, and is uniquely qualified to build stronger ties between the university and its neighbors.
Thumbs up: To the DeKalb Public Library for a dose of realism. Library officials announced this week they are dropping $4 million in planned renovations to the existing library from the cost of their expansion plan, making the new cost for the project $20 million. The restrictions attached to an $8.5 million state grant the library plans to use for the project prevented officials from changing the expansion plan itself, but officials decided that planned renovations to the existing building could be put off. The library still needs to raise $2 million in donations, but that goal is much more realistic than the $6 million in the original plan.
Thumbs up: To four local volunteers who were recently honored with awards from the Kishwaukee United Way. Volunteer Rodney McQueen and Nicole Safford of Opportunity House received the Spirit of Caring Award, which recognizes human-service agency staff members and community volunteers for their dedication and service. The 3M corporation and and Kishwaukee College’s Kate Noreiko were honored with the Leo Olson Award, which was established in 1989 to honor board member Leo Olson for his commitment to United Way and his spirit of volunteerism. Congratulations to these four honorable community members.