It’s been a rough year at train crossings in and around Riverside and Brookfield. Three people have been killed and another miraculously escaped serious injury when her car was rammed by a commuter train in January.

All of the deaths left terrible voids in their families and all were accidental, meaning all could have been prevented.

Riverside safety personnel are beginning a rail crossing awareness campaign this week in response to the recent incidents in that village. That’s a fine thing. But, please, people?”be careful out there.

And while it may be unpopular, we also encourage local police to redouble their enforcement activities at grade crossings. Yes, the fines are stiff?”and rightly so. But if that’s what it takes to get the message across?”and keep people safe?”so be it.

So long, Dave …

The past year could not have been especially pleasant for Brookfield Village Manager Dave Owen. Wedged between an administration and a village president who styled himself as a dealmaker/power broker and a candidate for village president who promised to boot him upon arrival, Owen’s position as village manager was unenviable.

Many people have been critical of Owen?”including this newspaper?”since he was hired as Brookfield’s manager in 2002. In truth, Owen was never intended as Brookfield’s long-term manager and likely would have been happy to serve as mayor of South Chicago Heights and have Brookfield leave him in peace.

But after Brookfield’s botch job in hiring Mark Isackson, Owen ended up as the default candidate for the village manager job. Apart from his role as mayor of a small town?”where he did not conduct day-to-day operations?”Owen had little experience in village management.

Throughout the time he was manager, Owen had his toes stepped on by elected officials who either distrusted him or wanted to run things themselves. In that respect, he was in a no-win situation.

While he could have walked away at any time if he was unhappy, he would have left behind a sweet severance package. It’s understandable why he didn’t.

Despite this newspaper’s run-ins with Owen, we wish him well as he leaves Brookfield at the end of this week. Owen weathered criticism with professionalism and tried to do his best walking through the village’s political minefield.

…Welcome, Rick

Does the hiring of Riccardo Ginex as Brookfield’s new village manager mark a new era of stability in Brookfield village hall? Residents of the village can only hope that it does. While politics seems to infuse Brookfield at all levels, we hope that elected officials will stand by their word and maintain a respectful distance between them and the village manager.

Politicians of all stripes claim they want nothing but progress for Brookfield. We can find no better way to achieve that than to set reasonable, responsible policies to encourage growth and then allow a professional village manager to carry out those policies.

Will Ginex be successful? There’s no way of knowing that for sure. What we know won’t work is for Ginex to be ensnared in Brookfield’s political process and be forced to choose sides. That will only lead to a continued fracturing of village government and little sustained growth.

Here’s hoping Brookfield politicians are up to the challenge.