THUMBS UP! To the Decatur School Board and the district's employees. There's discomfort in having to acknowledge a miscommunication and to realize you need to stop and measure where you are and re-calibrate your ideas. But that's what the board followed through with Tuesday when Superintendent Paul Fregeau told them a miscommunication meant the estimates to renovate Stephen Decatur Middle School were incorrect. Acknowledging that “it’s on us that we weren’t clear,” Fregeau said that the $500,000 board members previously approved to renovate Stephen Decatur had not included the cost of internal labor. With that taken into account, the cost was closer to $800,000, officials said. Board members wisely declined to make a decision about whether to approve spending additional money, saying they needed more answers about the cost of the district’s facilities plan as a whole. Board newcomers Andrew Taylor and Regan Lewis had taxpayers and district image in mind. Taylor said, "If (the cost) is not $55 million, we've got to stop saying $55 million," and Lewis said she knows "everybody's watching this project and we need to be successful." Pumping the brakes to get more information is not failure. It's a win for the district and for taxpayers.
THUMBS UP! To the St. Louis Blues. Underdog stories are easy to appreciate, and they don't get much closer to true underdog than the Blues this season. In November, they fired their head coach. In January, they had the worst record in the league. But they rescued what might have been a lost season. Bringing the Stanley Cup to St. Louis for the first time is a wonder for the city and the region.
THUMBS DOWN! To the imbroglio surrounding WICS meteorologist Joe Crain. No doubt everyone loves their favorite television station's weather forecaster. And good for them for standing up for him. Crain even got his own Twitter hashtag. A clip of him complaining on-air about a corporate edict about branding its storm alerts went viral, and he was fired. We can understand Crain's complaint. A corporate edict to brand storm alerts as “Code Red” is an unnecessary prompt to panic. As Crain said, "Not all storms are created equal." Crain and his co-workers undoubtedly grew weary of complaints winding their way from emails, letters to the editor, talk radio and social media. And even Springfield resident Sen. Dick Durbin spoke up in Crain's defense. But you can't talk about the boss with impunity — although some of the corporation's justification was waylaid when they announced plans to change the name of the alert from “Code Red” to “Weather Warn.”
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THUMBS UP! To volunteers on Lake Shelbyville. The lake's Fish Habitat Alliance has been enlisting volunteers to battle lake issues with the dwindling numbers of fish habitats. At least two dozen people regularly show up for alliance “build days,” and will keep the 11,000-acre lake in its role as an important recreational and economic entity for the community.
THUMBS UP! To Ameren Illinois and Decatur Macon County Opportunities Corp. Ameren donated 75 window air conditioner units to the agency. Distribution of the units began this week. The partnership has been ongoing since 2013. Those wanting to apply for an air conditioner should contact DMCOC at (217) 428-0155.