Thumbs up: To 4-H. No longer a club just for farm kids, today’s 4-H’ers are as likely to come from the city as a farm, and they work on more than 170 types of projects, including robotics, computers and visual arts. Anyone who attended the local 4-H project show this week can appreciate the variety and quality of projects on display, but more importantly, the organization teaches kids to pursue knowledge on their own, to work independently toward a goal and to hone their speaking and communication skills. Those skills and habits will serve them well throughout their lives.
Thumbs down: To one of the gloomiest employment pictures in the country. Illinois’ unemployment rate for this month is 9.2 percent, with only tourism-dependent Nevada worse off. It’s no mystery why our state is trailing the rest of America in job creation – employers don’t want to expand their businesses in a state that can’t get its financial act together. The longer our lawmakers take to address the state’s pension crisis, the longer we should expect these doldrums to persist. How long will it be before we are dead last?
Thumbs down: To what could be the final failing of Detroit – the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. The city, under state-mandated control of emergency manager Kevyn Orr, filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday, citing more than $20 billion in debts and liabilities to more than 100,000 creditors. Pensioners and others are fighting the bankruptcy in court for fear their benefits will be reduced. The case could take years to resolve, but it might help the city to re-emerge after years of neglect and corruption. If ever Illinois needed a cautionary tale, could there be a better example?
Thumbs up: To Dee and Don Anderson, who have been delivering meals to the elderly in DeKalb and Sycamore for nearly 20 years as part of the Meals on Wheels program run by the Voluntary Action Center. Sometimes, the program and its volunteers provide more than meals. The Andersons once helped a woman who was lying on the floor in her home and couldn’t get up. They also provide human contact, casual conversation and a way to check in on the area’s elderly. The community is lucky to have the Andersons and the many other Meals on Wheels volunteers.