Amidst downbeat political news, here's a shining spot.

Newly elected Rock Island Alderman Dylan Parker is donating his entire first year's salary, about $6,000, to various organizations benefitting Rock Island.

Receiving $204 earlier this month was the Friends of Hauberg Civic Center Foundation. Representatives say they plan to use the money to buy white pine trees, shown in drawings by original landscape architect Jens Jensen for the forest behind the Hauberg mansion.

Parker, 28, said in a news release that while his contribution "will be a negligible amount" when compared to needs, he recognizes the obligation for people to step forward, participate in the public arena and commit personally to building a stronger and healthier community.

Parker also has given $100 to the Rock Island County Historical Society for the restoration of the Rock Island County Soldiers Monument and $100 to the Rock Island NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Freedom Fund Banquet.

STEPHANIE'S GROWING QUILT BUSINESS: A scant four months ago I reported that Stephanie DePasquale Soebbing, who previously wrote a "Home Rookies" column for the Times, had quit her day job to focus on her growing quilt business.

Now that business has grown to the point that her husband, Quad-City Times sports editor Adam Soebbing, also is leaving his day job.

Adam has announced he will work with Stephanie full-time on the business that includes a shop in Rock Island, the designing of original patterns that are marketed to quilt shops by major distributors, partnerships with fabric companies and a book deal.

What an adventure!

ALDO'S INFLUENCE: As a fan of Aldo Leopold, the Burlington, Iowa, native who was an early conservationist, I am happy to see that his influence is being felt in Turkey.

Ufuk Ozdag, a university professor, translated Leopold's "A Sand County Almanac" into Turkish in 2013, and founded and now directs a Land Ethic Research Center in that country.

"A Sand County Almanac" sets out a land ethic which holds that people are members of a community of interdependent parts that includes soils, waters, plants and animals. It concludes with a stirring call to treat the natural world with love and respect.

SICKLY SYCAMORES: Driving around the Quad-Cities, I've noticed several sycamore trees that were slow to leaf out this year, or whose first leaves dropped. This is due to anthracnose, a common fungal disease that is most severe in years with cool, wet spring weather.

While anthracnose may cause extensive defoliation, brown blotches on the leaves, and the death of young buds and shoots, it does not cause serious harm. The trees re-leaf, and most should have a good canopy of leaves by the end of the month.

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