Thumbs up: To listening to constituents. When the Illinois Department of Transportation proposed widening Route 34 to five lanes between Sandwich and Plano – at a potential loss of eight homes, 15 businesses and dozens of on-street parking spaces – local residents responded in force to express their displeasure with the idea. IDOT held several town-hall style meetings with residents and local officials and extended the written comment period to allow more people to express their concerns. Then, last week, the state bowed to community concern and announced that the proposal is off the table. The next time an issue in your community comes up for a public hearing or public discussion, take note and make your voice heard.
Thumbs down: To the propane gas shortage that is squeezing homes and businesses that rely on propane for heating. A national shortage of propane, owing to a pipeline shutdown and a wet fall that saw increased use of the fuel in drying crops, coupled with higher demand this frigid winter, has sent propane prices into the $5 a gallon range. Hundreds of customers in DeKalb County have seen the cost to heat their homes and businesses skyrocket, with bills in the thousands of dollars. Some people are wondering how they will pay for their next shipment of the fuel, and are keeping their homes chilly in an attempt to conserve. The situation has prompted Gov. Pat Quinn to declare a supply emergency, and we hope consumers will see some relief from the situation soon.
Thumbs up: To Robert Boey and his dedication to the community. He received the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce’s Clifford Danielson Outstanding Citizen Award this week. A successful businessman at American Bare Conductor Inc. and the Sycamore Industrial Park Corp., Boey has served on the boards of trustees for Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College and was one of the founders of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp. He also has served on the boards of Kishwaukee Hospital, the NIU Foundation, the DeKalb Planning Commission and Castle Bank.
Thumbs down: To threats of terrorism clouding the Winter Olympics. With the games set to begin Friday, much attention has been devoted to the threat of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks. The Russian city of Sochi will be occupied by about 100,000 police, security agents and army troops who will try to keep the venues secure. As an Associated Press story this week noted, “the array of high-tech gear deployed makes Sochi look like it’s preparing for an enemy invasion from both air and sea.” It is disheartening that the quadrennial event meant to celebrate the uniting power of sport and competition must take place in a virtual police state, and that so many athletes and spectators must be so fearful for their safety.
Thumbs up: To thinking outside the box. Kirkland village leaders bought the former Kirkland Super Market intending the renovate it and either sell or lease it to another operator, but now Dan Kenney, executive director of DeKalb County Community Gardens, is suggesting opening a community-owned grocery store there. He plans to pitch the idea, which could be structured in a variety of ways, to village trustees in March. We’ll be interested to hear what he – and village leaders and residents – have to say.