Thumbs-up: To McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks’ efforts to refund $15 million from Valley Hi Nursing Home reserves. The county-operated nursing home in Woodstock has more than two years of reserve funding, Franks said, adding that the surplus is a result of overtaxation. We agree that qualifying residents – ones who took the homestead exemption in the 2017 tax year and have paid their taxes on time – should get a refund. As long as the nursing home is able to operate smoothly and have enough saved up for emergencies, there’s no reason why the taxpayers of McHenry County shouldn’t get their money back. It’s simply good government to not take more in taxes than is needed each year.
Thumbs-down: To inaccessible information. Last week the new acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture addressed the major issues facing one of our most vital industries, and although we’re well into the 21st century, the top item on the list was shoddy access to adequate internet. Former state Sen. John Sullivan, whose family farms in west central Illinois, said that in his personal experience and talking to farmers and others around Illinois, “broadband out in the rural areas of the state was just an issue that came up over and over and over again. … Trying to get high-speed internet is very frustrating out in the rural areas of the state, and it is absolutely a hindrance to trying to do business.”
Those of us who stick close to population centers might not think twice about how hard it can be to compete in a modern economy while waiting for an email or download to come through, and the nonfarmers of the world perhaps don’t realize how much the modern ag industry relies on detailed, real-time data in order to remain competitive. One of Sullivan’s other concerns, increasing ag education opportunities, also relies on viable online access. Here’s hoping that naming the problem leads to solutions, but we know farmers already have been beating this drum loudly for years to no avail.
Thumbs-up: To Johnsburg senior Zach Toussaint, who became the area’s all-time leading scorer in boys basketball Wednesday with his 31-point effort against Marengo. Now with 2,038 points for his career, Toussaint passed 1981 Crown graduate Gary Gliesmann (2,011 points) for the area’s all-time lead. The feat is even more impressive considering Toussaint scored only 56 points as a freshman. We’re excited to see what West Texas A&M has in store for Toussaint next year.
Thumbs-up: To the work done by Sage YMCA Executive Director Robyn Ostrem and Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce President Mary Margaret Maule, both of whom announced this week that they are leaving their posts. Each had an impact that spread much larger than their organizations. Ostrem, who is moving to Florida with her family, was agency director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County before taking on the role at Sage in 2013. Maule, who is with the Chamber until March, will be staying involved in the community while moving into her new role at Exemplar Financial on Route 176. Both are assets to the community, and both deserve our gratitude for their work here.