Our View: Thumbs up, thumbs down: Early voting makes it easy to vote

Thumbs up: To making it easy to cast a ballot. Early voting began this week and runs through March 15 for the March 18 primary. Too busy to cast a vote on Election Day? Vote early; hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, and locations are set up in DeKalb, Sycamore, Kirkland and Sandwich.

Primaries typically have dismal voter turnout, but this election will decide who the candidates are for statewide races like governor. With options multiplying, it’s getting harder and harder to find an excuse not to exercise your right to vote.

Thumbs down: To redevelopment falling through. This week, a Chicago developer announced it was abandoning plans to rehab the building at 145 Fisk Ave. for use as apartments. The building once housed St. Mary’s Hospital and later the District 428 administrative offices.

Adding apartments to the area just a few blocks from downtown would have been in keeping with city plans, but the developer said this week that further review there was “too much risk” in the deal. The 18,000-square-foot building is once again on the market, listed for almost $700,000 – but the price is negotiable.

Thumbs up: To spelling all the words. On Feb. 22 at the DeKalb County Spelling Bee, after all the other contestants had missed words, Somonauk Middle School student Keith Mokry and Sycamore Middle School’s Matthew Rogers went word-for-word for 66 rounds, until they had spelled all the words on the list. Their epic spell-off has attracted regional and national attention. The spelling bee will resume on March 8, with the winner receiving an all-expenses-paid trip to National Harbor, Md., to represent DeKalb County in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, courtesy of the Daily Chronicle.

Thumbs up: To Ella Follman, a fourth-grader at North Grove Elementary School in Sycamore, who won a contest to name a new park in Sycamore. Her suggestion was Dr. John Ovitz Park, named for the lifelong resident and physician. The park in the Sycamore Creek Subdivision will be dedicated this fall. In her nomination, Ella wrote, “I feel the park should be named Ovitz Park. I believe it would be an honor for Sycamore to have one of its parks named after Dr. John Ovitz. He was an outstanding citizen and lifelong member of Sycamore.” Well said Ella.

Thumbs up: To long-term efforts to make Northern Illinois University more connected to DeKalb. As part of its master plan thesis, NIU students and leaders have discussed identifying a campus spine or center, beautifying and accentuating campus waterways, adding bus lanes on Lucinda Avenue, upgrading sidewalks and lighting along College Avenue to designate it as a connection to downtown DeKalb, hosting concerts at the East Lagoon and demolishing old dormitories. As early as this fall, leaders could add an electronic tram service that would use both sidewalks and streets to take students around campus. NIU plays such a large role in supporting the area’s economy and culture that we applaud any effort that ultimately strengthens it.