Thumbs-up: To the good apples at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sycamore. Members there have been helping children served by Safe Passage, DeKalb County’s domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and intervention agency, for more than 10 years. Members pick paper “apples” with a child’s clothing or shoe size and gender listed on it and buy an item for the child just in time for the new school year to start. The members will help 55 children this year. St. John’s certainly gets an “A” for effort.
Thumbs-down: To the looming threat of property tax hikes in DeKalb-based School District 428. Years of falling property values in the district threaten to lead to as much as a $600 increase in property tax bills to pay down debt incurred to build new schools. The repayment schedule calls for higher payments starting in 2018. At least school officials are talking about the problem years ahead, and should have plenty of time to come up with a solution that the community can support.
Thumbs-up: To remembering an inspiring bit of history. The city of Denton, Texas, named July 15 “David Barrow Day” in honor of Denton native David Barrow, who now lives in DeKalb. Barrow earned the honor through his film “When We Were All Broncos,” a documentary about the desegregation of Denton schools. “Denton’s school board was the first in Texas to voluntarily desegregate its schools, and there were other positive actions leading up to that decision that were unique for the time and place,” Barrow said. “We all know the stories of conflict and violence that accompanied the civil rights struggle, but few of us know about those instances where people came together voluntarily for the common good.”
Thumbs-up: To safety innovation. Former Northern Illinois University roommates Joe Parisi, Adam Havey and Dominick Blando developed the EDUProtect Remote, a keychain-sized device that works with a wireless mobile application on subscribers’ smartphones. Tap the button on the remote, and the subscriber’s physical description and GPS location is sent to a dispatch center in Springfield, which contacts the local authorities. Once activated, the EduProtect remote also starts recording audio and video. The service will launch in September, but people can sign up before then. For more information, visit www.edu-protect.com.
Thumbs-down: To Canadian National Railroad. The Montreal-based rail carrier is blamed by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Amtrak for causing multiple delays in rail passenger service, as well as blocking more than 5,000 at-grade rail crossings for more than 10 minutes during the first three months of the year. The railroad’s lack of interest in negotiating with state officials was blamed earlier this year for Amtrak rail service bypassing Genoa; it appears there’s a pattern of the railroad being inattentive to local problems. Durbin has asked federal regulators to investigate the situation.