Don't know what it is about this time of year, but I've become stuck with this tradition of a "spring cleaning" column, in which I deal with some of the stuff that's piled up on my desk in recent weeks. Maybe, in Illinois, March is a good time for letting things pile up, since it's not good for much else. And local communities' "spring cleanups" do indeed begin next week. Anyway, here goes:
No one has asked yet, but I wanted to explain what happened with an article we planned to run, but didn't. As part of our pre-election coverage, we were going to solicit comments from readers and local decision-makers on how they assessed Gov. Rod Blagojevich's first term in office. We ended up not getting enough responses by Election Day to compose a meaningful story, and we didn't want to publish a story after the primary because of the partisan implications.
There were a few comments submitted, before and after the election, via Daily News Online, and those are now visible when you click the "Your Turn: Governor" link at robdailynews.com. They will remain posted for a week or so.
We probably should have started seeking responses earlier, but I was still surprised by how few we received. It seems everywhere you go, someone has something to say about the governor - around here, it's not usually very positive - but evidently those people didn't want to commit anything to print. No problem.
One of the responses I received - at least I think it was a response - was different, anyway. It was an envelope with no return address but with an Oblong postmark that was stuffed with clippings, mainly from the Springfield State Journal-Register, about various Blagojevich-related issues.
Credit where credit is due: Daily News readers will remember that about a month ago, Robinson Chamber of Commerce gave out its annual community awards. Marsha Peters was one of the winners, nominated for her work with the Operation Crawford County organization that was formed to support local military personnel and their families. Marsha wanted to point out that one of the initiatives cited in her nomination - the "Signs for Soldiers" posted along Main Street in Robinson - was actually the brainchild of Debbie Tedford. "She continues to raise the money and order the signs that you see on the poles on Main Street," Marsha says, "and Bill Calvert and the street department have been a godsend in placing and removing signs as the need arises."
Both Signs for Soldiers and the broader OPCC effort still need plenty of local support, she says, "until they are all home safely."
It's difficult to pick one person to honor when you're looking at efforts as cooperative as OPCC and its associated initiatives. But drawing attention to one person can help draw attention, and support, to what's really important - and everybody's a winner when that happens.
School news: We kind of look at Nuttall Middle School's "Tom and Becky Day," coming up next Tuesday, as the kickoff of the busy spring school-news season at the newspaper. This surprises many people, but end-of-year events and activities always make May our busiest month in the newsroom, with April not far behind.
While we try to keep up with school calendars, some events are bound to fall through the cracks. If you have something going on at your school that you think merits photo coverage in the Daily News, call Michelle Wagoner at 544-2101, ext. 110 to talk about getting it on our photo schedule. While we obviously can't make every event, we try to staff as many as we can, in all four of the county's school districts.
If we do have a schedule conflict, or if you're going to be at an event with a camera anyway, you can certainly submit a photo. Save digital photos as JPEG files in the highest resolution and/or largest size possible, and e-mail them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can mail or drop by conventional photos. Be sure to include information for a caption, including first and last names of people identifiable in the photo, and a name and daytime phone number of someone we can call if we have questions.
Because of limited space, you may have to wait a while to see your photo in the paper, and we can't publish all the photos we receive. But most of them make it in, and it's certainly worth a shot.
And we're not just interested in photos. If you have a school-related idea that you think might make a good Daily News story, get in touch with one of our reporters: Randy Harrison, who covers Robinson Unit 2 schools, is at ext. 113; Josh Brown, who covers Palestine Unit 3 schools, is at ext. 116; Tom Compton, who covers Hutsonville Unit 1 schools, is at ext. 117; and Tom Osborne, who covers Oblong Unit 4 schools, is at ext. 126.