Thumbs up: To supporting the home team – the Northern Illinois Huskies. For the second straight home football game, Huskie Stadium has been sold out. Tickets for today’s Homecoming game were sold out by Wednesday. The last time the stadium was sold out was 10 years ago. It’s great to see such support for the Cardinal and Black. Go Huskies – beat the Zips!
Thumbs down: To unreachable politicians. It turns out that the government shutdown is affecting the staffing at elected officials’ offices as well. This week, the offices of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Randy Hultgren were answering calls with recorded messages; Hultgren’s office noted they were operating with a “skeleton crew,” and Durbin’s office was closed. As though people weren’t frustrated enough with the goings-on in Washington, their representatives being unavailable only adds to the frustration.
Thumbs up: To the Sycamore City Council for voting Monday to contribute $5,000 to the effort to stage the IHSA state football championships at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb the weekend after Thanksgiving. Although the figure is less than the donation given by DeKalb, Sycamore probably doesn’t stand to reap quite as much benefit as its larger neighbor. The funds come from Sycamore’s tax on hotel stays, and the event likely will put more lodgers into the same hotels. The football games are expected to generate as much as $1 million for the local economy, and it is worth Sycamore’s investment to bring a statewide attraction to the area. City officials can evaluate how much benefit Sycamore derives from the event when evaluating whether to contribute again when the state championships return in 2015.
Thumbs down: To the continuing government shutdown impeding the progress of scientific research. This week, Northern Illinois University climate change researchers learned that the National Science Foundation was suspending all field research not essential to safeguarding lives and property at its three Antarctic research stations. Unless funding is restored by Monday, the research season could be cancelled and an NIU research team will have to cancel its academic mission. Scientific study is essential to our advancement as a country and as a people, and its stoppage is another way that the manufactured crisis in Washington is impeding progress.
Thumbs up: To getting public input without slowing down progress. The Sycamore Park District is in the midst of developing a five-year plan to make wide-ranging changes to its services, parks and facilities. Phase one involved sending out community surveys and creating a community wide strategic planning team. The park board has developed a draft of guiding principles, and now it will ask the public again what it thinks. The community can comment on the draft at meetings in October and November, and the plan will be updated accordingly, with a final draft expected by January.
Thumbs up: To the Opportunity House for supporting Special Olympics programs for youth and adults. The programs serve more than 100 local athletes with disabilities, with the volleyball team preparing for the Special Olympics’ statewide competition at the end of the month. Opportunity House has offered the adult program for 17 years; they partnered with Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association to create a youth program about 10 years ago. These types of programs offer so much more than athletic training, and we’re proud to see local organizations supporting them.