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posted: 1/4/2014 5:00 AM

The Soapbox

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Extra, extra:

It's not exactly news, but it is good to see that educators can finally show evidence that extracurriculars help students in the classroom. And state education officials are making it easier for parents to assess nonclassroom activities as well. For this, we give them an A.

A very needed update:

Standard for Naperville police have been flip phones, handwritten draft reports and cars without video cameras -- until now. The department is upgrading its technology, and the use of smartphones and an integrated computer system is long overdue, judging by what other suburbs have been doing.

Is this how it'll be?

A pretty cold and snowy December, and January starting off with up to a foot and a half of snow in many suburbs. Then a high temperature that's below zero on Monday. That's starting winter with a frigid bang. Cross your fingers that predicted highs in the 30s and 40s next week will actually happen.

Take it easy:

Shoveling snow could be a regular activity in the coming weeks. We know it's probably something you don't want to spend too much of your time doing, but keep in mind the potential health risks of trying to do too much too fast. Know your limitations.

Too fast for conditions:

That goes for driving, too. Sitting high up in an all-wheel-drive vehicle doesn't give anyone license to be rude on snowy roadways. Please show some courtesy to fellow drivers who are just trying to get to their destination in one piece. Is it really necessary to fly past others just because you can?

Dig out the hydrants:

It's not as grand as adopting a highway, perhaps, but local programs such as "adopt a hydrant" enacted this week in Algonquin are a great chance not only to show community spirit but maybe to save lives. By agreeing to clear away snow, you can save firefighters up to six crucial minutes in a crisis. Unfortunately, only a handful of hydrants in the area have been adopted so far.

Illinois needs this like a toothache:

Dr. Leslie Heffez, the retired head of the oral surgery program at the University of Illinois at Chicago with the state's highest annual pension, is expected to be given at least $13.8 million in retirement pay though he contributed only $768,611 to the pension fund. You don't have to be a surgeon to see a problem there.

A helping glove:

The latest dust-up between the Barrington Fire Department and Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District over whether 19 employees who were transferred to Barrington Countryside could take their safety gear with them leaves a sour taste, regardless of who is right on the issues. Kudos to the Fox River Grove Fire Protection District for its spirit of generosity in lending the needed gear.

Coroner's symbolic gesture:

Kane County Coroner Rob Russell had a new logo designed for his office, complete with a knight kneeling before a gravestone. He passionately cites the history of coroners and the need to convey the office's mission. Well, OK, but in the end it'll be the office's actions the people will look at.

Out of this world:

If voters for the Heisman Award in college football could also pick a postgraduate winner, Michael Hopkins would get our vote. On Christmas Eve, Hopkins spent hours making repairs to the International Space Station -- a physically demanding task. Sally Jenkins' story on the former Illini football captain was a great reminder that remarkable feats can happen on and off the field.

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