THUMBS UP! To IDOT's Rebuild Illinois plan. The $23 billion plan to improve Illinois roads and bridges by 2025 includes funding for a stretch of U.S. 51 in Decatur. Anyone who's driven around the state understands the weak condition of many roads and bridges, so seeing the U.S. 51 stretch improved along with other areas will be a relief. Do we grow weary of construction delays when driving? You bet. We also know how great some of these roads will be once the work is completed. Let's take the bridge work on Mound Road as an example. We can see the improvements daily, even as we slow down through the construction.
THUMBS DOWN! To flu season. Doctors are bracing for the worst, fearing a season similar to two years ago. Vaccinations are strongly recommended, especially for the most vulnerable – the young, the elderly, those with other health issues. Though it's never too late to get a shot, earlier is better, and getting the shot before the end of October is best.
THUMBS UP! To Lovie Smith and the University of Illinois football team. In the brightest spot of his time in Champaign, Smith's troops went into their homecoming game against Wisconsin as a 31-point underdog. After a last-second field goal, Illinois won 24-23. We're hopeful this is a building block for the future.
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THUMBS UP! To even more murals. Eric Weatherford is working on another, this one at 531 N. Water St., across from the former Speakeasy Records and Oddities. Michelle Stephens and Amy Rankin have finished their “Unstoppable,” depicting vintage trains wheels in a 3-D illusion, on the exterior wall of Millikin University's wrestling facility at 151 W. Wood St.
THUMBS DOWN! To blatant disregard for rules. In a story that gets more unbelievable the deeper we delve in, the St. Louis Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School football team has forfeited its season and released all coaches. A player was supposed to serve a one-game suspension, but played wearing a different uniform number and a different name, only to have the ruse spoiled because of identifiable tattoos on the arm of “both” players. Not only did the coaching staff conspire to get the suspended player on the field, the player continued the fraud in an interview the following week, saying it had been difficult to watch the team without contributing.
THUMBS UP! To the eradication of the glass ceiling in space walking. The first all-female spacewalking team in the 50 years of space travel replaced a broken part of the power grid on the International Space Station. The voyage made us think of the scene in “Avengers: Endgame” when the female heroes had their group shot moment. Only this time, the heroes were real.
THUMBS UP! To Master Gardeners and volunteers. The group continues to battle Amur honeysuckle, the invasive plant species that terrorizes Fairview Park. The effort has been taking place several times a year for the last four years, and is making a difference, which means improvement for the park. The work isn't joyous labor, but it is satisfying and worthwhile.
THUMBS DOWN! To even more infantile behavior. In a move that shocked anyone with elementary civics knowledge, Republicans forced their way into a closed-door deposition, bringing their electronic devices into a secure area. How would the average citizen have been treated in the same situation? They'd be dragged out, which we've seen often enough. These legislators ordered fast food.