Thumbs up: To former Northern Illinois University safety Jimmie Ward, who on Thursday was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the NFL Draft. Other Huskies, including quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch, are expected to have professional futures as well, but being selected with the 30th overall pick is a testament to Ward’s talent, as well as great exposure for the NIU program. Best of luck to Ward, Lynch, and all the NIU football players who wind up at NFL training camps in the summer.
Thumbs up: To a week of good news for DeKalb County Community Gardens. The community garden group broke ground on a “communiversity” community vegetable garden on the NIU campus, one of the more than 60 partnerships founder Dan Kenney credits for the group’s other good news, its selection for a $20,000 grant from Seeds of Change. Seeds of Change, a national organic seed company, awarded grants to just two out of more than 600 applicants. In addition to educating people about where their food comes from and the health and community benefits of gardening, DCCG raised more than 16,000 pounds of food last year, which it donated to local food pantries and people in need.
Thumbs down: To more money, same problems. The state of Illinois will collect about $1.2 billion more than it projected in the fiscal year that ends June 30. Yet, predictably, that means little to the people in charge in Springfield, who say that of course we can’t assume that could ever happen in the year ahead and that it does little to fix the state’s financial problems. How sorry things have become when an extra $1.2 billion – mostly because people in the state are making more money than expected and being taxed on it – just doesn’t change anyone’s outlook. Of course, the people making the gloomy predictions are the same ones with a vested interest in keeping the tax rates and tax collections at record levels.
Thumbs up: To Kishwaukee College’s new wing. The community college in Malta debuted its new health careers wing at an open house Tuesday. The 25,850-square-foot wing was paid in part with a $52.6 million bond issue voters approved in November 2010. The health wing includes three nursing labs, one nursing practice lab, two massage therapy labs, an X-ray room, five classrooms and a new health clinic. The wing is named after former Kishwaukee College biology instructor Terry Martin and his wife, Sherrie.
Thumbs down: To MLB’s scheduling of this year’s Crosstown Classic. The Cubs-White Sox series should be played on warm summer weekends, not cold spring weeknights. It’s a summer tradition. It’s a time to celebrate the rivalry and the great city of Chicago. This year’s scheduling made it difficult for families, or anyone for that matter, to attend. And if they did, they were pretty miserable. Not that either team is much good this year, but there’s still nothing like a summer day at the ballpark.