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Local Editorials

Another small school set to close its doors

In a series of mini-editorials, we say farewell to Nelson School, review Dixon’s efforts to become more friendly toward bicycle riders, and discuss the departure of Morrison’s city administrator.

The SVM Editorial Board shares random thoughts today in several mini-editorials.


Nelson School

The last days of Nelson School are upon us. An open house at the gym from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday will give current and former Nelson School families, students and staff a chance to visit the school before it closes later this month.

With 44 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, Nelson is one of the smallest public school districts in the state.

And it will be the second local school district to close its doors in 2 years.

Riverdale Elementary School shut down operations in 2012. Its students now attend the Rock Falls Elementary School District.

Financial problems are a constant challenge for small schools. When the struggling state cut back on its education and transportation funding, struggling schools began to hear a death knell.

It happened to Riverdale last year, and it will happen to Nelson this year.

Fortunately, Nelson’s pending merger with East Coloma School District and its 241 students appears to be on track. Voters in both districts gave it their OK last month. A new East Coloma-Nelson School Board has begun meeting to make preparations.

The merger is expected to strengthen the consolidated school financially and academically, bringing stability to young students’ lives.

People who gather in Nelson’s gym Sunday afternoon will have a chance to look back on the school’s history.

Then, it will be time to look ahead to better educational opportunities for the community’s sons and daughters.

Getting friendly

with bicyclists

Bike racks aren’t just for schools anymore.

The city of Dixon has installed two donated bike racks at the Herritage Crossing Riverfront Plaza in its bid to become a more friendly place for bicyclists.

Three more bike racks are said to be in the works along Hennepin Avenue in downtown Dixon.

Kudos to the Rock River Valley Bicycle Club for donating the bike racks to help the city get started with its plans to put bike racks at public attractions, businesses and industries.

To become even more bicycle friendly, the city would have to create bike lanes along certain streets, similar to what you see in university towns where many students pedal to and from campus.

That, plus local bicycle trails, would be one more reason for bicycle enthusiasts to visit a city that Mayor Jim Burke hopes will become “the most friendly biking and walking city in Illinois.”

One of those visitors Monday was Ed Barsotti, executive director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists, who helped dedicate the new bike racks.

Here’s hoping Mr. Barsotti spreads the word about Dixon among his bicycling friends across the state.

One noted Illinois bicyclist, by the way, is Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who participated Wednesday in Springfield’s “Curb Your Car, Bike to Work” event. Simon, a news release stated, often commutes by bicycle in her hometown of Carbondale.

New direction

for Morrison

Morrison residents have a new mayor, Everett Pannier, and they will be getting a new city administrator after Pannier decided not to renew the city’s contract with Jim Wise.

Wise’s contract expires May 31. His duties will be covered temporarily by Morrison’s public works director, Gary Tresenriter.

On the job for 2 years, Wise had some successes but also drew criticism for some of his decisions. In the end, Mayor Pannier decided to cut the cord and start fresh.

Morrison’s experience with its outgoing city administrator is a cautionary tale for cities such as Dixon, whose leaders might decide to hire a city administrator to bring professionalism, efficiency and accountability to the scandal-racked city government.

The lesson from Morrison is clear: The fit between a city and its administrator must be a good one.

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