Thumbs up: To the many volunteers who are coming to the aid of Illinois tornado victims. Some residents are traveling to the areas on their own to help and others are donating to drives here. The DeKalb and Sycamore police departments are collecting donations for the American Red Cross and will deliver them to Washington on Tuesday. Residents can drop off donations from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and Sunday at the DeKalb Police Department, 200 S. Fourth St. The Sycamore Police Department, 535 DeKalb Ave., will accept gift cards between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday.
Thumbs down: To backpedaling on open access to Illinois courts. This week, two DuPage County judges said they thought the use of cameras in courts was harmful to defendants, with one, Judge Kathryn Creswell, saying she would issue a blanket denial of media coverage in her courtroom going forward. No doubt other judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys would love to return to the status quo of keeping people from seeing them conduct the public’s business, but they fail to acknowledge it is exactly that. The justice system conducts its business in the people’s name, and its activities can and should be publicized in an open manner. At least the Illinois Supreme Court is not backing off its pilot program, which has allowed media access to courtrooms in 30 counties, including DeKalb and Kane counties. It should become standing practice throughout the state.
Thumbs up: To blood donors. Denise Norris organized a blood drive from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Genoa Fire Station in honor of her toddler, Beau, who has already had three heart surgeries in his 18 months of life and will need more as he continues to grow. “Beau needs blood every time he has surgery,” Norris said. “The blood collected at the drive doesn’t go directly to Beau; this is just my way of giving back.” For those who are eligible, giving blood is a free, simple way to provide lifesaving help – to people injured in disasters like typhoons and tornadoes, to those hurt in episodes like car accidents, and to those like Beau, with health conditions. You can find blood drives by visiting www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood or heartlandbc.org/drives.html, or contact the Heartland Blood Center in DeKalb to give any time.
Thumbs down: To declining fitness across generations. A study released this week showed that fitness among children has declined in the United States and worldwide over the past 30 years. The study, an analysis of children’s ability to run compared with that of their parents, found that heart-related fitness has declined 5 percent in each decade since the 1970s. People who are unhealthy as children face an even tougher battle to be fit as adults. The many implications for individuals and society at large of having out-of-shape citizens dictates that we should continue efforts to encourage activity among young people – and their parents.
Thumbs up: To creative uses for old one-room schoolhouses. The last one-room schoolhouse in DeKalb County closed in 1957, but several of the buildings live on as private homes and historic sites. The former Latimer School on Rich Road northwest of DeKalb is a 2,525-square-foot private home presently for sale, and the former Quilhot School is a community room at the Resource Bank branch at 102 S. Indian Road in Shabbona. The Quilhot School most recently had been used as a family shed, but it undoubtedly will serve many visitors and community groups in its new role. Education has changed so much in the past five decades that today’s students likely cannot imagine life in a one-room schoolhouse, but it’s nice to see residents and businesses finding good uses for these interesting buildings.