A special Sunday Soapbox

Posted1/31/2016 6:00 AM

Sunday Soapbox, not necessarily briefly stated commentary from one Daily Herald editor, and shamelessly stolen from the Saturday feature with almost the same name.

Challenger disaster:


It's one of those stories in which you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when tragedy struck. I was an assistant city editor slaving over the handwritten log of stories I was tasked to keep track of when I heard the commotion at the end of the newsroom where our lone black-and-white TV sat. I moved my work to a spot near the TV and watched the endless loop of replays of the space shuttle blowing up 73 seconds into its flight. That footage is a vivid memory for June Scobee Rodgers, too. She was widowed that day; her husband Dick Scobee was the Challenger's mission's commander. The first civilian teacher intended to participate in a space mission, Crista McAuliffe, also died, as inestimable scores of schoolchildren were tuned in to watch what was sure to be a historic lesson. But Scobee shared with staff writer Lauren Rohr in the editions of Thursday -- the 30th anniversary of the Challenger explosion -- that she wanted to ensure people wouldn't just remember how the astronauts died. "We thought it was such a fantastic mission. We wanted to continue that mission for them," she said. That manifested itself in more than 40 Challenger Centers for Space Science Education worldwide, providing schoolkids with hands-on real-world experience in science and technology. One such center opened in Woodstock in 2001. Scobee Rodgers, who attended that opening, said the educational mission of the Challenger "has survived beautifully these 30 years"

Gliniewicz drama continues:

The same day we reported on the Challenger anniversary, we covered an even closer-to-home story: The indictment of Melodie Gliniewicz. She's accused of being a party to the thefts from the Fox Lake Explorer post that investigators say her late husband, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz perpetrated. Joe staged his own death as authorities were closing in on him as a suspect. The embezzled money, authorities say, was used for a trip to Hawaii, coffee shop purchases and more than 400 restaurant charges. But Melodie Gliniewicz's lawyer said she is "a victim of her husband's secret actions and looks forward to her day in court to show the world her innocence." The story on the indictment was broken by staff writer Lee Filas, who has covered it since Joe Gliniewicz died, setting off what initially was a massive manhunt for his killers.

Most inspiring:

Perhaps our most inspiring story of the week was Madhu Krishnamurthy's profile of 33-year-old Kelly Schultz of Crystal Lake, who on Saturday earned her black belt in karate at a gym in Lake in the Hills. What makes the story especially poignant is that Schultz -- who was born with spina bifada and uses a wheelchair -- hates the idea of being tabbed as a "disabled" athlete, so she passed the test in the able-bodied division.

She admits to some self-consciousness about her condition outside her dojo, but inside it, "There's stuff that I never thought I would do that I can do now. This has completely changed the way I think about myself ... about what I can and can't do."

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Most sobering:

Countless words have been written about the state's 8-month-old budget impasse, the vast majority on the endless futility between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his Democratic foes who control the General Assembly to reach some common ground. Staff writer Melissa Silverberg put a human face -- several faces, in fact -- on the story with her Friday package on Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the largest statewide provider of social services that is cutting 30 programs that serve 4,700 people. Silverberg's story opens with a caregiver identifying for 89-year-old Andy Kyriazes his wife of 58 years. Without their caregiver provided by the agency's Legacy Corps, the couple may not be able to continue to live in their Palatine home.

Columnist Kerry Lester characterized the story quite well when she shared it on Facebook: "So often, those in both politics (and yes, the media, too) have a tendency to reduce budget problems to numbers. Here's a real, heart-wrenching look at how lives are impacted, and where the buck stops with the state's nearly eight-month impasse."


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