THUMBS UP! To the Demirjian family of Decatur. Their generosity to the University of Illinois seems to know no bounds. This week, they delivered one of the largest gifts in University of Illinois athletics history, $7 million. The donation will fund Demirjian Park, a facility for women’s soccer and men’s and women’s track and field. The project will be executed in phases and is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2021. In 2004, the family provided the lead gift for construction of the J. Gerald Demirjian Indoor Golf Practice Facility that benefits men’s and women’s golf teams. 

THUMBS UP! To the ongoing success of the stock market. The Dow Jones industrial average crossed 24,000 last week for the first time. In addition to that success, the economy is growing at its fastest pace in three years. The Commerce Department also reported that the U.S. economy grew at a 3.3 percent annual pace from July through September, the fastest in three years. Surveys show American consumers are in their sunniest mood since 2000, and unemployment is at 4.1 percent, a 17-year-low. 

THUMBS UP! To Decatur police. Their cautions about home package delivery are well-timed and useful. We're shopping online and having merchandise delivered to our homes more than ever. That's invited an amount of thievery, although Decatur police say it's not a huge problem here thanks to being proactive. Among the ways home shoppers can lower their risks are having packages delivered to the UPS store or a secure location, choosing to have a signature required for delivery of the package, or track the package online to know the time it is to be delivered. Thanks for the useful tips and reminder.

THUMBS DOWN! To the Google vs. Amazon debate. The companies' unwillingness to work out issues could end up with some users on some devices being unable to access YouTube at the start of 2018. Amazon doesn't want to sell Google-centric hardware, and Google has rules about YouTube use that are being dodged by Amazon. But ultimately, it's users who pay the price. Will you be able to access certain apps and sites with that new device you get over the holidays? Maybe, maybe not. What kind is it? It's ugly and silly When billion-dollar companies make decisions like they're drawing lines in a VHS-Betamax debate. (If you don't understand that reference, ask someone considerably older to explain it.) 

THUMBS UP! To free tattoos, those who receive them and those who give them. At the third Toys for Tats, hundreds of participants were given a free tattoo (normally a value of about $150) in exchange for a new, unwrapped child’s toy with a value of $25. Toys for Tats gives people a chance to contribute in a number of ways – they give gifts, they receive art, and artists are able to create their work for charity. The event's excellent reputation is justifiably growing. 

THUMBS UP! To the completion of renovations of the Lincoln Depot. The depot was built in 1911, and the $4.04 million remodeling project was funded largely by a federal grant administered by IDOT to introduce better performance and higher speeds on the Union Pacific Railroad between Chicago and St. Louis. The depot has significance for hundreds. Talk to someone who grew up in Lincoln, and they will give you a charming personal detail about the site. Besides being a historic attraction, it serves as an Amtrak depot, helping keep Central Illinois connected to the world.