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Local Editorials

OUR VIEW: Cool under pressure, teens set fine example

THUMBS UP TO … preteen superheroes. Last week the Ottawa police and fire departments went out of their way to honor two children who recently displayed grace under pressure while placing 911 calls, each resulting in people getting emergency help. At last week’s City Council meeting, the agencies presented a framed 911 Superhero Award to 12-year-old Alexia Innis, a Central Intermediate School sixth-grader. The police department went to Central Wednesday to likewise recognize sixth-grader Lela Hernandez.

Alexia called 911 March 10, reporting her mother needed an ambulance. Lela called the next day after her family was involved in a car accident. Emergency dispatchers praised both girls for showing bravery and remaining calm in stressful situations. Ottawa Dispatch Center lead telecommunicator Stacey Fuentes, who spoke at both events, noted even adults have difficulty displaying such composure. Celebrating these girls for their actions is a fine way to encourage their peers to deliver if ever faced with a similar situation.

THUMBS DOWN TO … consistent combustion. A pile of logs smoldering west of Ottawa has been occupying firefighters and troubling nearby residents for two weeks. The blaze involves a 150-foot long pile of logs on the south side of the Illinois River at Route 71 and 4-H Road. It first ignited the night of April 23 — officials say it was an accident — and has drawn response from as many as seven local departments.

Now the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is involved, a welcome development for people who live on both sides of the river and say the smoke is negatively affecting their daily life, even inside with the windows shut, at precisely the time of year when most folks are finally able to open up after a harsh winter. There’s no one to blame here or a solution to propose, but the lingering conditions are a cause for concern and we hope for a speedy resolution.

THUMBS UP TO … dignified appreciation. The mood was respectfully somber at Marseilles City Hall Wednesday night when representatives from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5506 presented Marseilles Police Department detective Jake Callahan a public safety award on behalf of the national VFW. Callahan had been with the department full time for more than nine years when he was made a detective last year, and within a week was called to begin an investigation in a horrible killing that only recently was resolved through the legal process.

We’re not going to revisit the details of the case here, but will acknowledge Police Chief Jim Hovious praised Callahan’s dedication, focus and ingenuity, and thank him and the VFW for honoring Callahan publicly. There is nothing here to celebrate, other than a good man doing his job well, but the public acknowledgement is a significant step toward bringing closure to a community tragedy.

THUMBS DOWN TO … a legal loophole. On April 26, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board voted 8-4 to parole Carl Reimann. Now 77, Reimann was 31 when he fatally shot five people during a 1972 restaurant holdup in Yorkville. Police say he also would’ve murdered a family who were present, but ran out of ammunition. At the time of his crime, the death penalty was illegal in Illinois, as was life without parole. Capital punishment was later restored and ultimately repealed, but life sentences remain an option, even those without possibility of parole.

Reimann has expressed remorse, and though the review board denied him parole 19 other times, this time the majority voters apparently put stock in a religious conversion and his work in hospice care in Dixon. Yet even if Reimann is fully sincere in those positions, they alone do not balance out the lives he senselessly took. Further, if Reimann truly is doing good through hospice work, denying parole would have no ill effect on his ability to positively contribute to society.

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