Thumbs-up: To plans to replace the Keslinger Road bridge moving forward. County officials said this week that construction on a new bridge should begin by fall and be complete by the end of 2014. The replacement will be paid mostly out of a $900,000 settlement with Enbridge Energy, whose trucks were crossing the bridge while exceeding its weight limit during construction of a pipeline in 2008. Loss of the bridge has inconvenienced soybean farmers and others, who have been detoured around the area for almost six years now. It is time this gap in the local transportation network was repaired.
Thumbs-down: To rising incidents of child abuse in DeKalb County and statewide. The Illinois Kids Count survey released by the advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children this year showed a 22 percent year-over-year increase in documented incidents of child abuse in DeKalb County. There were 177 verified incidents in 2013, the survey shows. Statewide, instances of child abuse increased 4.5 percent in 2013, to 27,888. One case of child abuse is too many, and it is something we should strive to prevent. It is good to see representatives of local agencies such as Children’s Home + Aid and Children’s Advocacy Center are speaking out and trying to raise awareness during April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Thumbs-up: To moving forward with Evergreen Village Mobile Home Park relocation. On the eve of the DeKalb County Board’s deadline, Evergreen Village Mobile Home Park owner Frank Santoro said he had decided to accept the county’s offer to buy the park and nearby property for $1.47 million. He previously had rejected the offer and presented an appraisal for $2.6 million, but told the Daily Chronicle this week he changed his mind after considering what few options he had after county leaders stood firm in their offer. Now, county leaders plan to offer relocation help to residents there and restore the park, which experiences frequent flooding, to open space. Years of planning have gone into pursuing federal grants for this project, so we’re happy it’s going to move forward after all.
Thumbs-up: To another successful NIU Cares Day. More than 1,000 Northern Illinois University students were sent to area schools, libraries, animal shelters and community agencies April 12 to lend a hand with whatever was needed. They spent the day planting, painting, cleaning, sorting and assisting with events at more than 20 sites around the area. It’s great to see so many students giving back to the community.
Thumbs-down: To keeping secrets in Springfield. After an investigation that found House Speaker Michael Madigan had the de facto ability to award public jobs at Metra to his cronies, the Illinois General Assembly is calling for rules to add transparency in Springfield. Inspector General Tom Homer asked this week for laws that could require public agencies to track and make available to the public lawmakers’ recommendations for job candidates. He also called for making public the inspector general’s findings of wrongdoing by lawmakers.