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Local Editorials

THUMBS UP: Commercial open house shows a cooperating community

THUMBS UP TO… open season. Anyone who has bought or sold a home understands the concept of an open house as a means of showing off a property and attracting potential buyers. It’s a less common tactic in the world of commercial real estate, but folks in Streator are going to give it a go — and we think that’s a fine idea. Re/Max Country and the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Starved Rock Country Alliance are jointly sponsoring the Commercial Property Open House Day starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Streator Incubator, with advice from START Streator.

A similar event last year didn’t generate a ton of interest, but the organizers believe they’ve learned from that experience and are better prepared to deliver an effective event. They’re taking a look at retail leakage data, showing the types of things Streatorites leave town to buy, and have lined up guest speakers to talk about things like facade improvement grants, economic development incentive programs and the benefits of using an incubator to get a new business off the ground. There’s no guarantees an event like this will move the economy, but it’s beyond commendable to see this much cooperation and effort into growing the central business district.

THUMBS DOWN TO… a sign of the times. Last week in Batavia, someone called authorities after seeing a man entering the high school around 6:30 a.m. carrying what the caller believed to be a rifle. It turned out to be a student with a baseball bat in a sports bag, just the sort of thing that happens at all sorts of high schools this time of year. However, that determination wasn’t made until police and other first responders, including a K-9 unit, descended on the building, evacuating anyone in the building and diverting incoming traffic and putting everyone on edge, fearing the worst.

We don’t fault the caller. We certainly don’t fault the responders. Taking threats seriously is far better than the alternative, and well-intentioned folks have headed off tragedies with a single 911 call. But it’s a sad sign of our modern times that so many of us have to be on edge for imminent danger, especially at a place where our young people should be made to feel safe. If there is any upside, it is seeing the swift response and knowing how many people stand ready to act should their efforts truly be needed. But we hope that never comes to pass, in Batavia or anywhere else.

THUMBS UP TO… reaching across generations. Last week, state Sens. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, and Sue Rezin, R-Morris, convened their annual Youth Advisory Council gatherings, allowing dozens of high school students to spend a day at the Statehouse learning how our government works. In a press release, Barickman said the programs involve a fall meeting where participants learn about government, propose new legislation and vote to advance one mock bill. Then in the spring, while the General Assembly is in session, they can visit the Senate floor, meet with lawmakers, legislative staff, lobbyists and reporters before conducting a mock committee hearing on their legislation.

Both lawmakers talked about how the experience helps get young people engaged in the representative government, and we’re certain it turns some of them into regular voters as soon as they get the chance. Regardless of political affiliation, affording this kind of opportunity goes a long way toward reinforcing the notion that government works for the people — and that the folks voters send to Springfield are just regular Illinoisans who want the best for the state’s future. We encourage current high schoolers with any potential interest in next year’s program to reach out to their elected officials about how to get involved.

THUMBS DOWN TO… an absence of caution. We very much agree with state Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, who says people convicted of crimes who have satisfied their obligations through the justice system and want to go to college deserve a second chance to become productive members of society. However, we’re not all the way on board with Flowers’ Criminal History in College Applications Act, which would ban colleges from asking applicants about their criminal history, according to The Associated Press.

Don’t take our word for it — listen to the police chiefs at several Illinois universities who are concerned the law would limit their ability to foster safe environments for students, faculty and staff members. It would be wrong to deny someone admission simply because they committed a crime, but it doesn’t seem right to limit a college’s ability to fully vet the people they invite to live, work and study on campus. Hopefully there is some middle ground to be reached, because a college education remains a vital component of lifelong success for many Illinoisans, and so is the ability to earn that degree in a safe environment.

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