THUMBS UP TO ... a grand opening. Seneca Shipyard Days always is a summer highlight for the little river town, but especially so this year with the formal dedication of the new Seneca Area Heritage Museum. The plan has been in the works since the Seneca Historical Guild formed in 2009, and all these years later the museum has become a reality, taking up residence in the old depot building that once served the Rock Island train line.

The Seneca Port Authority bought the century-old depot and moved it in 2013 to the west side of North Main Street. Extensive renovations included a vintage. brown-and-yellow exterior paint scheme that replicates the colors on the depot in the 1940s. A railroad flatcar from yesteryear sits alongside the depot on a short stretch of tracks, completing the retro look. All that’s before considering the many treasures on the inside, some of which predate the Civil War.

The museum is open during the summer, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. The facility, at 431 N. Main St., also will be opened by appointment. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

THUMBS DOWN TO ... irresponsibility with fireworks. As Independence Day nears, random booms and crackles of fireworks will go off in neighborhoods as amateurs try their hand at pyrotechnics.

We like to note a big chunk of the booming stuff is illegal in Illinois, and best left in the hands of the professionals. With that said, we hope those that try their hand at fireworks follow general guidelines of safety. Don't throw fireworks at anyone, keep safe distances when watching, don't light fireworks near structures or in dry conditions, etc.

Additionally, we ask those with fireworks to pay special attention to any former veterans who may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. The noise can be stressful, and as we honor our great country, we should keep those in mind who have fought for it.

THUMBS UP TO ... joining the fold. Ottawa arts lovers must be overjoyed to see the sustained success of WilleyWorld Community Productions and its annual summer stage show, a tradition now approaching its eight year with the late July/early August presentation of the classic courtroom drama “Inherit The Wind.”

 

After seven years somewhat on the fringe, this year’s play officially is art of the city’s Riverfest activities. Those who have never missed a show might not notice the distinction, but still it’s an important benchmark for something that might well have been a one-and-done affair, if not for the dedicated people who keep these plays coming.

“The 807 Building Performance Space gives us an opportunity to do our shows in a very intimate, environmental way; to put the audience right in the action,” said company founder and namesake Walt Willey. “In 'Inherit The Wind,' you will be in the courtroom, at the rally. Cast members, many of whom will be seated in the audience, will interact with audience members, encouraging our guests to be part of the show. This is a very unique and fun experience.”

The curtain isn’t even up on this year’s show and we’re already excited for the potential of 2017 and years to come. Summer truly is special in Ottawa.

THUMBS DOWN TO ... lip service. Remember back at the beginning of the month when the General Assembly ended its regular spring session? The House and Senate couldn’t agree on a budget, so work just kind of stopped and everyone went their separate ways. Back then, House Speaker Michael Madigan vowed his chamber would remain in “continuous session” and said Representatives would back in Springfield each Wednesday.

Well, three Wednesdays have passed since that proclamation, and Madigan canceled those session days each time. Now it appears both the House and Senate will be back in action this week, news that broke, per the Chicago Tribune’s Kim Geiger, “shortly after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner made comments suggesting Democrats were prepared to send him a short-term spending plan for state agencies that would be tied to helping Chicago Public Schools dig out of its financial hole.”

We’d like to believe things will get moving in a few days — but we’ve learned to live with disappointment.