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Thumbs up, thumbs down Nov. 18

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THUMBS UP! To the legacy left by Dwayne Andreas, who died this week at age 98. The former CEO of Archer Daniels Midland Co. brought world leaders to Decatur to see the advances being made here, and he and his wife Inez (who died in 2012) left their mark on the city via numerous generous contributions. The goal Andreas continually pursued was feeding the world. That remains a challenge, but the word is closer to a solution than it was before Andreas began chipping away at it.

THUMBS DOWN! To the same old story from Illinois lawmakers. Gathered back in Springfield, we hear the same old stories of lack of compromises or solutions. Their ability to pass an Exelon bill in an effort to rescue the Clinton Power Station is commendable. But – and we've all been pointing this out for what feels like forever – the state still needs a budget. We're again looking at the possibility of no funds or limited funds to public universities, social services and more.

THUMBS UP! To Lutheran School Association students for Share the Gift, their ongoing efforts to collect Christmas presents for foster children. The drive will double to 40 the number of children it serves compared with last year's drive. It's an exemplary project.

THUMBS UP! To the continuing development of Overlook Adventure Park at Nelson Park. A playground has been approved by the Decatur Park District. And best of all, a grant from GameTime, a playground equipment manufacturer, allows for a better buy for the money.

THUMBS UP! To city of Decatur, the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce, the Decatur Arts Council and downtown merchants for their plans for Decatur's downtown this holiday season. Lights, music and Saturday's Christmas parade are all designed to encourage us more into the holiday spirit.

THUMBS UP! To those who participated in Box City at Millikin. The event, in an attempt to show people what the homeless face on a daily basis, spent 18 hours in the cold in a session that went overnight. The addition of forcing those participating to earn their shelter is an additional eye-opening idea that both gives us pause and may inspire even more real-life adjustments in future simulations.

THUMBS UP! To the University of Illinois' men's basketball team. The season has just begun, but the team carries a 3-0 record into tonight's games. The wins have proven to be a welcome distraction from many depressing world events, not the least of which being the (again) poor performance by the Illinois football team. Here's hoping for good health for the team, and a return to post-season play.

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