Thumbs-up: To trying to bring back the bees. DeKalb County beekeepers suffered a devastating loss of 70 percent of their bees over the winter – a figure nearly twice their usual losses – which most attribute to the unusually harsh winter. But instead of retiring the hives, the beekeepers have purchased new young bees and are trying to bring their population back up. The work honeybees do as pollinators is vital. About 30 percent of the food we eat comes from crops pollinated by creatures like bees and butterflies, and the struggle of honeybee colonies to survive in recent years should concern us all. The public can do their part by being careful about using pesticides.
Thumbs-up: To foster parents who ultimately adopt children in need. According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, more than 15,000 children are in foster care across the state every year. This week, we featured Rebeccah Cies, who fostered more than 50 children over 20 years, but has given up her foster care license to focus on her three adopted children, while also continuing to support her three biological children. We tip our hats to her and all the other dedicated foster parents who decide to make the temporary situation permanent.
Thumbs-up: To efforts to restore Sycamore’s first motorized vehicle – a 1923 Stutz fire engine. The truck needs some sanding, repainting and minor work to get it running. Sycamore Fire Preservation Company, a nonprofit organization made up of former and current members of the Sycamore Fire Department, is trying to raise $25,000 to restore the vehicle. “If we don’t do something with it, then it’s gone,” said Marc Doty, Sycamore Fire Department’s assistant fire chief. “History is important to a lot of people.” To make a donation, call Doty at 815-895-4514.
Thumbs-down: To another elected official in Illinois being convicted of a crime. This time, Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith was convicted of bribery and attempted extortion for taking $7,000 from a purported day care operator seeking a state grant. In a week-long trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of the 50-year-old Smith, a Chicago Democrat, accepting 70 $100 bills – which he referred to as “cheddar” on tape – in exchange for a letter supporting a $50,000 state grant. The day care turned out to be fictitious and part of an FBI sting. Smith lost his 2014 primary battle in March but was supposed to finish out his term. Instead, Smith will lose his seat once the verdicts are formally entered.
Thumbs-up: To another opportunity to eat locally grown food. DeKalb County Community Gardens is partnering with the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in DeKalb for a neighborhood farmer’s market later this month. Although locally grown organic produce often is a little more expensive, the Thrive neighborhood market and community garden will provide organically grown vegetables at pay-what-you-can prices, and shoppers are encouraged to bring their own produce as well. In a county where more than 90 percent of the land is used for agriculture, we should have access to more locally grown food. This new market, which opens at 11 a.m. June 28 and continues the last Saturday of each month, is another step to providing access to locally grown produce.