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Thumbs up: Factory return bodes well for recovery

THUMBS UP TO… a few more steps toward normal. It seems business might be back to normal soon at the Pilkington glass factory in Naplate, which has not been fully operational since a tornado ravaged the community. Although company officials won’t go on the record about plans, dozens of cars are in the parking lot on workdays signifying a smaller-than-usual crew and workers can be seen tending to roofs around the property.

The plant accounts for about 200 jobs and was in the midst of a $38 million expansion when the storm struck. The company said the new building didn’t sustain much damage, so it appears in the big picture 2017 might just look like a bump in the road for this major employer. Still, in a week where the town’s St. Mary’s Church was demolished because of storm damage, it was uplifting to get the feeling Pilkington is on the road to recovery.

THUMBS DOWN TO… signs of the times. It’s the busiest shopping time of the year, but things aren’t looking good for the region’s longtime leading retail hub. Last week, as part of a complaint with the La Salle County Board of Review, Peru Mall owner GK Development turned in an appraisal report indicating the mall’s market value is $10.5 million. That’s a big difference from the county’s valuation of $18.2 million, and either figure is a precipitous decline from an agreed upon $30 million market price about a dozen years ago.

Without getting into a dispute over whether the developer or county are in the right, it’s safe to say there’s frustration all around that business isn’t better these days. The Peru Mall seems to be a victim of the same woes plaguing brick-and-mortar retail operations across the country, as nationwide chains announce closures that almost always seem to have a Peru connection. Perhaps there’s a recipe for turning around the mall’s fortunes, but for a good while now optimism has been hard to find.

THUMBS UP TO… moving forward with fun. The Seneca Park Board recently broke ground on phase one of Graves Family Park, a 15.69-acre space at the west end of Williams Street. Adjacent to Illinois Department of Natural Resources property, the new downtown park is within walking distance of Seneca High School and will involve a regulation soccer field, baseball and softball diamonds, a quarter mile walking path and playground.

In the long term, the board plans to consider adding a shelter, restrooms, security lighting, additional parking, field lighting, dugouts and a splash pad. It’s a bold vision for Seneca and definitely will enhance the quality of life. The park has gotten this far because the board was able to secure matching grants through an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant and ComEd Green Region Programs. Here’s hoping the full dream becomes reality — many Seneca residents will benefit from these efforts.

THUMBS DOWN TO… trying to ignore a problem. First it was Equinox, then it was Uber, but the song is the same: company executives learning of a massive data breach affecting the personal data of millions of people, but not actually saying anything to those people until word gets out elsewhere. Uber’s situation came to light late last month, when the company finally revealed hackers stole data for 57 million riders and drivers. Oh, and also that it concealed the data breach for a year after paying $100,000 in ransom for the stolen information to be destroyed.

Clearly these companies are embarrassed at the fact private data might become public, and in some cases they’re probably worried about exposing themselves to liability in civil court for failing to protect the information. But that old phrase about the coverup being worse than the crime didn’t materialize from thin air. Next time some giant firm screws up to this degree, we hope they’ve got the fortitude to at least shoot straight with the people affected.

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