Thumbs up: To teaching young people about their rights and justice. DeKalb County Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert talked with Indian Creek High School students this week about their Fourth Amendment rights through a program organized by the Illinois Judges Association. She is among 115 judges trained to deliver the “Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom” materials, which review the three branches of government, federal and state courts and present a skit based on an U.S. Supreme Court case. It’s nice to see a powerful local official take the time to reach out to area teens, and we hope this program will continue and grow at area high schools.
Thumbs down: To too many crashes. The newsroom scanner has been busy this week, and far too many times it’s been because one or more vehicles crashed. Often, the occupants of the vehicles have been OK. A couple of times, they have not. Some of the crashes have been because of driver error and some because of icy or slick road conditions. There’s still a lot of winter weather ahead of us. You can expect less-than-ideal driving conditions for a while. We all need to slow down, leave space and pay attention to the other vehicles around us.
Thumbs up: To local schools putting technology in the hands of its students. Sycamore, Hinckley-Big Rock and Sandwich school districts were among 22 districts across the state that were approved for the School Technology Revolving Loan Program. Sycamore was approved to for the largest loan of $402,700. Each district will use the money differently. Sycamore will replace computers and infrastructure, Sandwich will upgrade operating systems and Hinckley-Big Rock will purchase mobile technology such as laptops or tablets. Schools need to keep their students up to speed on technology and this seems like a good way to do that.
Thumbs down: To mystery gas. It was bad enough that the Cortland Elementary School day was interrupted Tuesday by the intrusion of a foul odor from the nearby DeKalb County Landfill that led about 70 people to seek medical treatment. But days after the event, officials aren’t sure what exactly it was that made people sick other than a bad smell. Of course, bad smells are the result of landfill gases reaching the school, but so far, all we’ve heard is what the gases probably were not. Yes, its good to know that air quality monitors at the school did not detect the presence of gases such as hydrogen sulfide. Waste Management said it was not methane. No doubt the people who fell ill would like to know what chemicals made them sick that day. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said it will try to obtain a sample of the gas and analyze it and will share results of their analysis with the public. We’ll be waiting.
Thumbs up: To Congress. Really. Lawmakers on Thursday came up with a compromise heavy $1.1 trillion spending plan that will fund federal agencies through the rest of the year, ending (for now) the seemingly continual parade of funding crises that led to a government shutdown last year and automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration.” Although the bill has more than 1,500 pages and by no means perfect, at least it will allow for several months of spending stability.