Thumbs-up: To the Class of 2019. McHenry County’s high schools have conferred degrees to thousands of students who will move on to their next step in life. Whether it’s off to a university, taking classes at McHenry County College, joining the armed forces or entering the workforce, we wish all of them the best of luck. We are hopeful that these young adults will go on to make their mark on our communities, as well as those in other places they eventually find homes, and we hope the time they spent as students here will remain with them as a fond memory. Congratulations to all the new grads.
Thumbs-down: To a wet summer adding to farmers’ woes. Local farmers already had put much of last year’s crop in local grain elevators as they waited for prices to rebound, and they’re facing an added difficulty this year: the seemingly incessant rain. With some fields still underwater, planting has been impossible. In the nation’s biggest farming states, including Illinois, planting is behind schedule – only a little more than half of seeds are in the ground, when usually 90% of the fields are planted by now. There’s nothing but dirt where the green shoots – and in some years, knee-high cornstalks – should be. Farmers must decide by Wednesday whether to risk a low yield by planting now or lose a little of their crop insurance coverage every day. It’s a squeeze, and we hope those affected will be able to figure out the right path.
Thumbs-down: To Major League Baseball for not requiring teams to install protective netting from foul pole to foul pole. Before the 2018 season, the league recommended that teams expand netting to at least the far ends of dugouts. The league did not go far enough, as demonstrated Wednesday night in Houston, when a young fan sitting past the third base dugout was struck by a foul ball off the bat of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. Almora was visibly shaken after the incident. It’s unreasonable to ask fans of any age to remain alert for the entirety of three-plus-hour games.
Thumbs-down: To a business backlog in Springfield. Although the state Legislature often is taking some items down to the wire, they went too far this year. On Friday, with House lawmakers immersed in what would be a more than three-hour debate on a proposal to legalize marijuana, legislation on important issues only was beginning to emerge, including a 1,581-page state budget plan, a proposal for a sweeping gambling expansion that includes sports betting, six new casinos and proposals to raise money for a capital plan.
With all of this still undecided and less than 12 hours to go, leaders decided to keep the Legislature in session through the weekend, when fewer people will be watching and most of the members likely are eager to go home.