Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, March 24, 2014

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thumbs up to teaching kindness at Harrison Elementary School. The Janesville school’s recent Kindness Week was a way to instill lessons in life that could get left behind amid the focus on standardized testing. “I think equal weight to learning academics is people skills,” fifth-grade teacher Tami Burke told The Gazette. Amen. Book smarts will only take someone so far. Without character education that teaches kids how to relate to others and treat them with kindness, even the most intelligent students might fail at life. We expect parents to teach their children about respect, kindness and the satisfaction that comes from paying these forward. That education, however, won’t happen in every household. These school lessons are a worthwhile complement to anti-bullying campaigns, and Harrison’s focus was designed to include family involvement. It’s worth noting that Kindness Week was introduced by Lara Pensy and her daughter Ariana Pensy, a Harrison fourth-grader who in 2013 was one of eight children nationwide to receive the Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Award in Newtown, Conn.

Thumbs down to ignoring that terrace trash. Those piles of plowed snow are melting rapidly along streets in our communities, and as they vanish, they expose a winter’s worth of litterbug activity. We’re talking months of aluminum cans, plastic drink bottles, food waste and other debris. Emerge from your hibernation, get outdoors and clean it up. You might argue, “Why should I take responsibility when I didn’t toss it there?” Take a little more pride rather than let it reflect poorly on your property, neighborhood and community. Clean it up, and check the gutters, too. While you’re at it, clear that storm sewer of trash, leaves and other yard waste lest rainwater floods your yard during this spring’s first big thunderstorm.

Thumbs up to the Southern WI Professional Women’s Group. Credit Dominique Boston, a program adviser at Blackhawk Technical College, with organizing this social network. It started Feb. 8 and already has several dozen members with diverse backgrounds from area communities. Besides regular gatherings that will feature speakers, the women hope to learn about local activities and amenities and to give back through volunteerism. A similar organization, the Rock County Young Professionals Group, caters to men and women. There’s nothing wrong with having another option so young professional women bond and feel more vested in the communities where they live and work. After all, a steady supply of young talent is crucial to help businesses survive and grow. The next women’s meeting is at 5:15 p.m. Friday, April 11, at El Jardin, 2533 Center Ave., Janesville. For details on future meetings, visit meetup.com.

Thumbs up to Rock County Communications Center tweets. The county’s 911 dispatch center plans to do more than simply send law enforcement or rescue squads when emergencies occur. It will also use Twitter to quickly inform the public about accident-related traffic snarls, flooded roads or other hazards. Once a closed road reopens, another tweet will alert the public. With so many people using hand-held electronics and relying on Twitter to get the latest information, this new service will prove valuable. It could save people time and money and might even save lives. The service will begin sometime in April, after dispatchers get training. If the county figures a way to add storm alerts to its bag of tweets, that would be great. When the service is ready, hook up at twitter.com/rockcounty911.

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