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CHEERS to Augustana College’s 22,000-square-foot expansion of the Hanson Hall of Science. Opened just in time for fall classes, the new center is everything Augustana leaders had promised. The addition was needed to make room for the increase in student enrollment in medical and science programs, including environmental studies, physics and neuroscience.

Wendy Hilton-Morrow, provost and vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college, said the expansion also was “truly designed with learning in mind.” It’s set up to serve recent high school graduates who are used to learning in “dynamic” and modern environments. Augustana President Steve Bahls called it “most likely the nicest teaching space on campus.”

For those viewing the structure from the outside in, the four-story circular addition affords another arresting view on a campus crowded with them. Though modern in style, it fits neatly into a well-planned, inviting campus that is a major asset to Rock Island and the Quad-Cities.

The project is just the latest on a campus that has been aggressively fundraising and building for several years. It’s truly remarkable that the building boom has only enhanced the campus’s charm. Kudos to all who made it happen, including Bahls, staff, the Augustana board and the generous alumni and other donors, who make such projects possible. It’s not hard to see why institutions like Black Hawk College consider Augie’s facilities a gold standard in higher ed.

JEERS to the chair of the Democratic National Committee for killing the changes the Iowa Democratic Party proposed to increase participation in our neighboring state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Tom Perez and his DNC cohorts also killed similar plans in early-voting Nevada. We were among those who cheered when Hawkeye State Democrats agreed to allow absentee voting by phone on six different days through “virtual caucuses.”

Perez blamed security issues raised by DNC experts for rejecting the“tele-caucus system.” We find it hard to believe, however, that a secure system that would ensure an accurate and fair tele-caucus doesn’t already exist, if the DNC were truly interested in finding one. We also can't help but wonder whether the bigger concern is over who these new voters might turn out to be.

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Why should Illinois voters care how Iowans pick their presidential preferences? If history is any guide, our neighbors’ votes will influence who is left in the field when Illinoisans make their choices much later in the primary calendar. Beside, odds are that at least some of the folks who are traditionally excluded by an in-person system have views that are a lot like your own.

CHEERS to the silver anniversary of the Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix sponsored by Mediacom. Crowds thronged to downtown Rock Island yet again Labor Day weekend to enjoy the legendary race.

“The Rock,” which is billed as the “world's largest, most prestigious street karting race,” is also an essential feature on the Q-C’s summer/fall landscape.

“I think in the karting world it means a lot,” says Roger Ruthhart, president of the Rock Island Grand Prix, “I think there's only one other that’s even ever gone on longer than that,” he said of the event he helped create more than a quarter century ago.

The race is also one of the oldest stops on the Quad-Cities major events calendar. So this silver anniversary is “a real testament to our organization, the city and all the sponsors and other people that support us to be able to do this that long," Ruthhart said.

Kudos to them all for keeping it going. We’re marking our calendars for Grand Prix No.  26 on Labor Day 2020.

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