Thumbs-up: To saving public funds with renewable energy. Huntley School District 158 said this week it plans a March activation for the first parts of a series of solar panel arrays that will save taxpayers more than $4 million in energy costs over 20 years. The district has installed solar panels at its Reed Road and Square Barn Road campuses, which are home to six of the district’s schools. Others at the Harmony Road campus will be installed later.
The solar arrays are being built and maintained by a private company called ForeFront Power, which estimates they will offset 12.3 million pounds of carbon emissions in the first year. This is a forward-thinking investment that not only will save taxpayers money on energy costs but also is good environmental stewardship. Other school districts should examine whether this model can work for them, and if so, follow the same course.
Thumbs-down: To the global spread of a scary virus. On Friday, health officials announced that a woman in Chicago had been diagnosed with a new strain of coronavirus that has led to the quarantine of entire cities in China. The woman in her 60s returned from Wuhan, China, on Jan. 13 and went to see a doctor days later because she was feeling sick. The woman is the second person in the U.S. to have shown symptoms of the virus, which has killed more than 25 people in China and led to a travel ban across much of the country. Health officials caution that the Chicago-area woman likely will not be the last person to be diagnosed with this virus, which has not been seen before and has a two-week incubation period. There’s no need for panic, but vigilance is critical.
Thumbs-up: To supporting area seniors. Every other Monday, a group of volunteers with the Senior Care Volunteer Network gather donated flowers from local florists and deliver them to local seniors who have birthdays during the month. Photographer Matthew Apgar went on one such delivery with volunteer Paula Polash and her 13-year-old son, Charlie, this week. It’s clear from the images captured what a nice surprise it can be. Elderly people can sometimes be left feeling lonely and isolated. Those who help let elders know they are not forgotten – be it through delivering flowers, participating in Meals on Wheels or stopping in to check on a neighbor once in a while – are truly doing a good service.
Thumbs-up: To outstanding public works projects. Two efforts in Cary – the village’s handsome new brick Metra station and an ultraviolet disinfection system at the village’s wastewater treatment plant – were named projects of the year by the American Public Works Association’s Fox Valley branch this week in the under $5 million category. Whether it’s the water we drink or the station where we board a train, infrastructure is the backbone of our communities, and when public projects are done well and within budget, it should be a point of pride.