Opining in print can be a touchy business. First and foremost, I want to be fair to people, even those with whom I disagree. And I have disagreed with the powers that be on several important issues that Riverside has faced within the last several years?”largely unchecked residential redevelopment and the seeming apathy shown for neighbors’ rights before, during and after construction, for starters.

And I found it reprehensible that former Hauser Junior High Principal Joel Benton paid student informants, even though he apparently had support from District 96 leadership.

But life in Riverside is pretty darn rosy when compared to many other places. So, let’s share the love, even though it’s only May and far from the holiday-induced public accountings of gratitude that flow freely late each year.

In that vein, I would like to publicly express my appreciation to the following folks:

 Village Manager Kathleen Rush for her impressive leadership on the water tower restoration project. Her decision to seek public funds, thereby avoiding a referendum at a time when a tax increase for road repairs and District 96 were on the ballot, was masterful.

And the results have been fabulous, so let’s give a nod to Public Works Director Michael Hullihan, too. OK, not all bricks on the water tower have absorbed last year’s stain job and a few touchups are needed, but I still get chills sometimes driving past the tower. It really is that beautiful.

 Ms. Rush deserves another round of applause for her recent introduction of e-mail news alerts. Available to all residents electronically, subscribers can pick and choose what kind of information that interests them, including recreation, downtown construction and trustee activity updates.

It’s an efficient, low-cost way for the village to disseminate information to those who wish to receive it. Just think: You never have to miss another public meeting again because you didn’t know about it in advance. Who knows? Maybe public attendance at board and commission meetings will even increase. Sign up at www.riverside.il.us.

 Kudos to Village Forester Mike Collins for quietly improving Riverside’s appearance. His workers and their newly purchased mowing equipment are out in full force and, frankly, I think the village has never looked better at this time of year.

The weeds are mostly being held at bay, mulching is going well and innumerable thickets have finally been thinned. With all the rain we’ve had, the grass is growing vigorously, so the crews can’t quite keep up. But they’re coming pretty close.

And I hear terrific things about Collins’ responsiveness to residents’ ideas and concerns. For example, he has worked with residents at their request to maintain specific triangle parks and trimmed shrubbery to maximize visibility for traffic.

 Resident Ingrid Lulich deserves thanks for spearheading the drive to convince the village board to save the pedestrian tunnel under the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks. When the board announced they were inclined to close the tunnel to avoid footing the bill for the extensive repairs that would be required, she swung into action, collecting more than 200 signatures and making an impressive presentation to the board.

Lulich, a former neighbor of mine and an attorney by trade, argued convincingly that the tunnel, rather than being seen as a problem to be solved, should be viewed as a community asset.

Indeed, area railroad towns that don’t already have tunnels are viewing them as amenities and paying large sums to add them. No decision has been made yet regarding the tunnel’s future, but in any event, we all owe Lulich our appreciation for drawing attention to this important issue.

 Finally, it bears repeating: The high school advisory committee is performing a valuable public service by advising the District 208 school board on the finer points of school construction and contract management.

A major milestone has been reached with the selection of a general contractor, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We are all fortunate that group members are willing to share their expertise and that board members are willing to listen.

What about you?”who do you think is providing exemplary service to the Village of Riverside? Anyone you’d care to thank publicly?