Thumbs-up: To a new coach for Northern Illinois University. Thomas Hammock is not only the first alumni of NIU to be its head coach in years, the 23rd head coach in school history is also the first African-American to occupy the post. Hammock, who comes to DeKalb after being running backs coach for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, said at an introductory news conference Friday that he long had wanted to be the Huskies’ coach. His opportunity has arrived, and we hope that NIU football will not only continue, but advance it’s winning tradition under Hammock’s leadership. Good luck, coach.
Thumbs-down: To Waterman’s water billing problems. This week, the Village Board heard from a former resident who said she received a bill for $128 from the village – four years after she’d moved away. The problem may have arisen from a previous employee failing to cash people’s checks, or ineffective meter-reading. Village President Darryl Beach said problems inherited from previous officials have been a recurring theme in the village of about 1,000 people, and one of the problems is that utility use was not properly metered and some residents have not received water bills for years. A planned audit should help tell the story a little better. After they receive the results, Village Board members will have to decide how much and how far back they plan to bill people. The statute of limitations on many debts in Illinois is five years, and good luck explaining to people who moved out of town years ago that, oh, yes, you definitely owe us $150 or more for water service.
Thumbs-up: To the “Dolores-saurus” that lives just off Tilton Park Drive in DeKalb. As we learned this week, the 8-foot-tall statue of a pointy-headed dinosaur called a “Parasaurolophus” belongs to Dolores Graves, who lives on the street. If you’ve driven down Tilton Park recently, you’ve certainly seen it. Graves says she grew up in a family of fossil-hunters, and her father actually donated many of their finds to Chicago’s Field Museum. The dinosaur is a quirky and fun feature of the neighborhood, a good reminder that DeKalb is a unique place to live. “If you can’t have fun in life, why live it?” Graves said this week.
Thumbs-down: To the coming arctic blast that will bring snow and frigid temperatures. We can’t complain too much – it’s been a mild winter thus far and this is January – but the wind and snow will pose travel hazards. We hope that everyone will be careful traveling and thank those who will be working to clear our roadways.