Thumbs-down: To a dreary, wet spring. Above-average rainfall has left millions of acres unseeded in the Midwest, and the below-average temperatures – high temperatures this week have been about 10 degrees below the normal high of 80 degrees– have made traditional activities a no-go for many people. Events such as the Music at the Mansion at the Ellwood House have seen their past two weeks’ performances cancelled because of the elements. Luckily, the act scheduled to perform Wednesday has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday. Stretches like these, where it feels as if there’s no relief at all – are part of what causes people to start thinking about life in other parts of the country. The forecast does call for some seasonal temperatures in the days ahead – they can’t get here soon enough.
Thumbs-down: To the loss of journalism training facilities at Northern Illinois University. University officials have said they plan to close the traditional home of the Northern Television Center at 123 Stadium Drive, and move the program into another space at Watson Hall. They also plan not to renew the contract for NTC general manager Beni Enas. Alumni have said the work they did at the NTC site on Stadium Drive was critical to their personal growth and later professional success. However, university officials said the enrollment in classes that use the NTC space has fallen to 17 students, down from 88 in 2015. NIU officials said the money saved will be directed toward hiring new faculty and other journalism course offerings. We hope there will be continued commitment to teaching journalism at NIU, but understand alumni’s dismay at the loss of a space that has trained so many TV journalists over the years.
Thumbs-up: To the Egyptian Theatre going national. This week, country artist Scotty McCreery released a video for his newest song, “In Between”, with the Egyptian appearing in the video 12 times. McCreery, winner of the 10th season of “American Idol,” performed for a sold-out audience April 19 at the Egyptian. Clearly our historic local theater made a good impression – the video includes shots of the backstage area, dressing room, crowd and McCreery performing on stage here in DeKalb. It debuted Wednesday on CBS-TV’s “The Today Show.” It’s yet another example of how, although it may be familiar to many people, to those who never have seen it, the Egyptian is truly a unique place to attend or perform.
Thumbs-up: To more money for Illinois nursing homes. State and federal grants will provide a combined $240 million more for state nursing homes to hire staff, maintain buildings and take care for people in need in the year ahead. Nursing home administrators and others said that the extra funds are needed to help recruit qualified staff members, who have been hard to find in this tight labor market, as well as help cover everyday costs. Although more than 20 skilled- and intermediate-care facilities have closed statewide in the past five years, there remains a significant population of who need the help of skilled-care staff in day-to-day life. We are glad state lawmakers decided to address an important need.