THUMBS UP … to Dave Elsesser of Omaha, Neb., former NewsTribune sports editor and Mendota High School graduate, for providing a story, pro bono (free) to us as a tribute to longtime MHS principal Robert Cooper.
Elsesser, who labored for years in Springfield, Ill., Wichita, Kan., and Omaha, is close with Cooper’s sons, his good friends Mark and Mike (Ottawa High school coaches) would feel comfortable talking with him at ease about their father. Elsesser also grieves the death of the highly respected Mr. Cooper, and delivered his eulogy.
Also, we wish to recognize the calm, capable leadership of Bob Cooper for Mendota High School and the North Central Illinois Conference and his guidance and assistance for area schools, educators and educational leaders.
Fittingly, Robert Cooper had a building named for him at Mendota High in 1995, but way back in the early 2000s, it was torn down.
If always felt odd to us that Robert Cooper Gymnasium was demolished without a building or room or anything being named after him when the new building opened in 2002. We figured if the school board thought Cooper deserved to have the gymnasium at the old school named after him on Feb. 17, 1995, then he remains one of the most important and quietly influential people in the history of the school.
However, a school official told us today that Cooper quietly came to two school officials and calmly said he did not want anything at the new school named for him, that he never worked in the new school and there would be plenty of people who worked at the school and did great things there in the future.
Naming portions of schools or entire schools for local educators and coaches certainly is not unprecedented. There’s Howard Fellows Stadium at La Salle-Peru, King Field and Kingman Gym at Ottawa, Bryant Field at Princeton, and many more.
Geneseo stripped the name J.D. Darnall off of the high school in 2005, when school leaders learned that college recruiters and scholarship committees were confused as to what or where Darnall was. He was, by the way, superintendent at the school until 1957 and had the school named after him in 1964. Though memories of Darnall’s contribution to the school and community faded, a committee was formed to find a different way to memorialize Darnall in some way.
In addition to his service to students and faculty at Mendota, Cooper remained, after retirement, an involved community member in numerous causes and organizations.
Still, Cooper’s name appearing somewhere at the high school would not be inappropriate.
THUMBS UP … to readers who send us photos. We love to publish them, and they help us better tell the story.
Now, many times, we would prefer a phone call or some other sort of notification when something is happening that will last for a while or when something’s scheduled of which we might not be aware. Our professional photographers often have lenses to better capture far-away subjects, and they have the skills to deal with difficult lighting or low-light situations.
While we’d like to receive a call — and callers can enter a weekly Newstip drawing for a cash prize — there are certain situations where a reader photo will work better than notifying us. Some of those range from a car or truck fire (they don’t last long) to a sighting of unusual wildlife in your yard. Chances are, the spectacular blaze won’t last long. Likewise, a bird or a herd of deer likely won’t stay in your yard for the 10 to 20 minutes it would take for our photographer to drive there.
Recent examples of helpful reader photos include three pictures sent in of unusual vehicles or oversized loads heading through town. Bill Bowers of La Salle sent us a couple of photos of trucks on Route 351 with unusual cargo in the past month, for example, that we probably would not have caught while still in La Salle.
For readers who wish to submit photos, here are a few tips: Try not to shoot into the sun. Let the sun provide the lighting for you. We appreciate photos of “real people doing real things,” and captions that identify, basically, who’s doing what, where and when.
THUMBS DOWN … to people who think it’s a good idea to keep information secret when asked for it by the media. We’re asking the questions for the benefit of people of the community, and sometimes we ask for information because people specifically asked us to find out what’s going on. Such was the case with readers, mostly senior citizens, who loved their big group of up to 100 who participated in a tai chi class and thought it was being discontinued, no longer to take place at Peru Mall.
We’ve already delved into those details. Let’s move on from that. The tai chi group’s relieved to learn that it’s moving soon to the Illinois Valley YMCA.
However, a comedy of misunderstanding can ensue when questions aren’t answered.
Letting sun shine on the truth is good not only for governments, but also for organizations and businesses.