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Thumbs up to the California-based technology company Ripple for funding more than 35,000 teacher projects through donorschoose.org. Ten of the projects will benefit Southern Illinois schools. Not all of the projects are grandiose, Brian Chaney, a middle school math, science and social studies teacher at New Simpson Hill School in Tunnel Hill requested $454 to attend a three-day training program on 3-D printing — done. There were requests for books for a visiting author event at Elverado Middle School and a request for an iPad for a kindergarten teacher at Murphysboro's Gen. John A. Logan Elementary — done. The generosity of Ripple will certainly benefit Southern Illinois students.

Thumbs down to the continuing tension on the SIU Carbondale campus regarding Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s restructuring program. A recent vote saw 75 percent of faculty members vote against Montemagno’s plan. At this point, egos need to be set aside. The financial and enrollment problems being faced by the university are not going to magically disappear with the passage of time. There are changes that need to be made for the good of the university, and by extension, the entire region. Montemagno and the faculty need to come to a consensus to make things work.

Thumbs up to Southern Illinois Healthcare for its donation of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to faith-based organizations throughout the region. One of the donations this week was to Carbondale’s Good Samaritan Ministries, an organization that serves a population with limited access to healthcare. SIH oversees a programs that helps faith-based organizations prepared for emergencies. Upon completion of the program, the organization receives an AED.

Thumbs up to Dr. Doug Gates and his 7,000 deliveries of babies over the course of his career as an OB-GYN doctor. Gates, of New Horizons in Carbondale, delivered his 7,000th baby on March 14 to Allison and Colton Woolsey, of Hurst. “There are always mile markers. Like the first time you delivered a baby for a woman whom you also delivered, but the ones that standout with greatest clarity are those that required a great deal of effort and emotion to work through — the sad ones like when there is a stillbirth and we work with the parents through the emotions of that,” Gates said in a story last week. Gates, 58, has been working since 1995, and says he averages about 300 births each year, but doesn’t expect to hit 10,000. “I would have to do another 10 years and I don’t know if I can keep up this pace,” he said.

Thumbs up to baseball’s opening day. We’re not sure why it isn’t, but it should be a national holiday — at least an unofficial one. Yeah, the weather outside my still be chilly and damp, but the sound of bat meeting ball and the pop of the mitt means winter is on its last legs and the glorious balmy days of spring are just around the corner. The start of the baseball season signals a rebirth, at least for sports fans. To many of us, it is the day we have been waiting for since the last out of the World Series was recorded in November. Play ball!

Thumbs down to all the rain drowning Southern Illinois right now. Can we please just get a couple days free of rain so things can dry out right now? Is that too much to ask for? It’s creating a lot of problems for high school sports right now, as none of the teams can get out and play their games. It’s going to make for a very interesting — and busy — end of the season. Plus, springtime is supposed tease us of what is supposed to come, not be damp and dreary every day.

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