THUMBS UP TO… a Big Apple blessing. We join in all those celebrating the 14 members of the Streator Community Chorus who were able to join a 125-voice choir in performing Handel’s “Messiah” Sunday afternoon at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City. Event organizer Distinguished Concerts International NYC invited the entire 60-member Chorus to perform — locals believe they were noticed on YouTube — a testament to the exceptional musical talent tucked away in our tiny little corner of Illinois.
“The Streator Community Chorus received this invitation because of the quality and high level of musicianship,” said Jonathan Griffith, DCI’s artistic director and principal conductor. “It is quite an honor just to be invited to perform in New York. These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community. This is an event of extreme pride for everybody and deserving of the community’s recognition and support.”
We agree with that assessment, add our congratulations and invite people to attend the full Chorus’ “Messiah” performance at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 509 E. Broadway St., Streator.
THUMBS DOWN TO… staggering statistics. In an interview promoting increased traffic enforcement over the Thanksgiving weekend, Ottawa Police Patrol Capt. Mike Cheatham gave The Times some information that ought to be chilling to everyone who drives or rides on a car: In just the past month, OPD officers nabbed people driving while intoxicated with blood-alcohol content levels up to .295 — more than three times the legal limit of 0.08. Officers also pulled over speeders doing 90 in a 45 mph zone on West Norris Drive, 73 in a 30 on East Norris Drive and a jaw-dropping 60 on Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Illinois River, which is posted as a 30 mph zone and often can’t be driven that fast given the high vehicle volume and tight lanes.
We don’t believe this kind of reckless road behavior is unique to Ottawa, but we do thank the department for sharing the information so the rest of us can be reminded of the importance of defensive driving. When drivers are forced to share the road with people who clearly have little regard for their own personal safety, a big takeaway is how the rest of us can cooperate to help everyone get where they’re going without incident. And though the officers were doing their jobs, we take note of these dangerous drivers as a chance to thank police for everything they do to keep us all safe.
THUMBS UP TO… a seasonal service. In 2018, OSF HealthCare launched a program to help keep nonworking decorative lights out of landfills and quickly learned how valuable that opportunity was to members of the communities its hospitals serve. Steve Looney, OSF’s Western Region director of facilities operations, predicted the initial drive would result in collecting about 500 pounds of broken lights. The final collection total was slightly more than 3,000 pounds.
Eagle Recycling, in Galva, accepted the lights, which are stripped down to raw materials like plastic, glass and copper to be reused to make new products. There are five OSF hospitals in the program.
Local dropoff boxes are in the main lobbies of St. Elizabeth, 1100 Norris Drive, Ottawa, and St. Paul, 1401 E. 11th St., Mendota, and will be there through Jan. 10. We encourage folks to take advantage and counteract the estimates showing household waste increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.
THUMBS DOWN TO… doubling down on self dealing. Just last week we wrote about a gaping loophole in Springfield under which lawmakers get a full month of pay even so long as they are serving in their office for one day. When Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, resigned Nov. 1 — instead of the day in October he was arrested on federal bribery charges — he guaranteed he’d get his full November paycheck. Although state Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, introduced a bill to change the policy, the loophole remained open last Wednesday when state Sen. Martin A. Sandoval, D-Chicago, tendered his resignation effective Jan. 1.
FBI agents raided Sandoval’s Springfield and Chicago offices and home Sept. 24 seeking data on concrete and construction businesses, bribery or theft of federal funds, according to The Associated Press. In his resignation, Sandoval said his respect for his constituents and the Senate convinced him leaving office was necessary. But rather than step down in September, or even after completion of the fall veto session in November, Sandoval made sure to time his quitting such that he’d get two extra months of pay — in December, where he’s likely doing very little legislative work, and the whole of January, when he’ll be officially off the job. We urge lawmakers to address this flaw as soon as possible when session resumes in January.