Thumbs-up: To a tribute to Diesel, the Siberian husky mascot who patrolled the sidelines at every Northern Illinois football game from 2005 to 2013. The statue, which was unveiled Thursday at Huskie Stadium before the Huskies’ 30-27 overtime win against Eastern Michigan, depicts Diesel giving a high-five after a Huskies’ score in 2013, in a moment that was captured on ESPN. The statue was sculpted by Renee Bemis and commissioned with the help of a fundraising campaign. The Diesel Memorial Project is still accepting donations for the $25,000 cost of the bronze statue through GoFundMe.com. Although Diesel died in 2015, his memory will live on, and it’s good to see NIU football commemorating moments and figures – even canine figures – in its history.
Thumbs-down: To super-expensive elections. The 2018 Illinois governor’s race could be the most expensive contest in U.S. history, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. With multimillionaire Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner announcing his plan to run for re-election, and Democrat J.B. Pritzker, one of the world’s richest people, among the front-runners for the Democrats, the race could eclipse the $280 million spent on the 2010 race for governor of California. That’s a tremendous amount of money, which undoubtedly could be spent to greater benefit. What’s more, it only underscores the tremendous influence that money has on politics around the country, and raises the disturbing possibility that tremendous wealth will be a prerequisite for any of our future leaders.
Thumbs-up: To helping high-schoolers learn to navigate the adult world. At the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural First Impressions Count workshop at DeKalb High School on Tuesday, students had the opportunity to meet with adult community leaders in an attempt to work on “soft skills.” These social nuances include handshakes, an elevator speech, and other techniques that help people in business-related social situations, whether it’s applying for a job, as a candidate for admission to a school, or networking at business events. All of these are behaviors have to be learned, but people often are left to try to figure them out alone. We’re glad to see local businesspeople helping to teach these skills to young people, as well as Northern Illinois University’s Career Services department, which later had a representative follow up with the students.
Thumbs-up: To the 56th annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival, which kicked off Wednesday and concludes with the big parade Sunday. Already, the pumpkin-decorating contest has attracted more than 1,100 entries with the theme “Pumpkins Across the Decades.” This year’s Pick of the Patch went to Keegan Palm, who built a big brown monster out of three pumpkins. The weather is going to be fall-like this weekend, with high temperatures in the 40s, but we doubt that will get in the way of people having some family fun – or warming up with the 10K Pumpkin Run on Sunday morning. This tradition, which offers lots of opportunities for people and DeKalb County service clubs and nonprofits, is one that truly makes our area special. Thanks to all who volunteer to make it happen each year.