Thumbs up Hedberg’s story times. Youth services at Janesville’s Hedberg Public Library are crucial to helping children start and develop reading habits that can last lifetimes. Story time programs are critical given that it’s too easy for parents to let young kids sit mindlessly in front of that electronic baby sitter known as the TV. As Steven Long, Marquette University associate professor of speech pathology and audiology, told reporter Nick Crow in last Monday’s Gazette, reading books and pointing out images helps toddlers develop vocabulary and pronunciation skills. “They aren’t learning to read at that point but learning speech at a very young age,” he said. Sarah Acker has three children ages 1-5 and says Hedberg’s story times are “pure enjoyment” for them. Staffers, she says, engage and keep them involved in age-appropriate ways. Given that reading is at the root of all other learning, these programs deserve support.

Thumbs up to Operation Click. Evansville High School senior Heather Messling won a 2010 Chevy Cobalt on April 21, and East Troy senior Katrina Santos won a 2012 Ford Focus a day later. Orfordville’s Burtness Chevrolet and Delavan’s Kunes Country Auto Group donated the cars. We applaud these and other supporters of Operation Click, sponsored by AAA. In the campaign, formed in 1998 in Crystal Lake, Illinois, students pledge to practice safe driving habits, such as wearing seat belts and not texting while driving. “I think it’s really important for students to stay safe,” Messling told The Gazette right after she learned she had the winning key to the Cobalt. “People think they’re invincible, or they think they can multitask.” That’s also true of adult drivers. We hope the Operation Click lessons the students are learning last their entire lives and that project publicity “clicks” with motorists of all ages.

Thumbs up to recycling in roadwork. Each year, the state Department of Transportation incorporates more than 1.5 million tons of recycled materials into highway and bridge improvements. Rock County residents should applaud that as expansion of Interstate 90/39 kicks into high gear. We celebrated Earth Day on April 22, and that week, the state DOT noted that its recycling saves time, money and natural resources. While preserving landfill space and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling of materials cuts the need for virgin materials and saved about $14.3 million in the state’s last fiscal year. “In Wisconsin, virtually all old pavements are recycled in some way,” Steven Krebs, DOT Bureau of Technical Services director, said in a news release. “Concrete is crushed and re-used as highway shoulder material or as base course under a roadway. Asphalt pavements can be reheated and re-used as part of new pavement. Also, steel from bridge and pavement demolition is recycled.” The DOT also permits some waste materials, including asphalt shingles, fly ash from power plants and foundry sand, to be used in pavement mixes.

Thumbs up to Produce for Pantries. The program through Cornerstone of Hope, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, is providing 100 free garden beds in both Rock and Jefferson counties. Each household, business, church or club can request up to two kits. These include 2-by-8-foot wooden beds, soil, seeds for beans and greens, tomato plants and growing information. Recipients are asked only to share extra produce with food pantries, senior centers and homeless shelters to help feed needy local people. Last year, the program produced 13,000 pounds of healthy excess food. Each bed costs about $100, and grants and donations fund the $20,000 project, Cornerstone of Hope Executive Director Dave Thomas said in Thursday’s Gazette. The program started in 2013 after the charity learned that one in six Rock County residents go to bed hungry. Some beds remained available last week as we enter the planting season. For information, call 608-754-1228 or visit the charity’s office at 320 E. Milwaukee St., Suite 110, Janesville. does not condone or review every comment. Read more in our Commenter Policy Agreement

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