Understanding Illinois: Prison Not for Everyone

NowlanDecember 17, 2014

by Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

In the 1990s, I once co-taught a college course in history at the Henry Hill prison in Galesburg. I vividly recall that after class the first evening, a young, slender blonde fellow came up to me with a desperate look in his eyes.

“Are you a lawyer? (No) Well, anyway, please help me get out of here!” the young man pleaded. There was nothing I could do.

At the time, Illinois prisons were basically run by the gangs. That is no longer the case, I am told, but if you squeeze 49,000 Illinois inmates into space for 32,000, as the state does, there is a lot more opportunity for the bad guys to teach the new guys the wrong ways to live life.

Not much good goes on in prison, and education programs have been cut way back because of state budget problems. Read More

Farm Bureau Update: Awards Aplenty

HarveyDecember 17, 2014

By Tyler Harvey
Mo-Do Farm Bureau Manager

In the last month farmers have still been tirelessly working in the fields and trying to accomplish as much fall field work they can get done before the weather changes. In the past month numerous tractors, chisels, tool bars, and anhydrous ammonia tanks have been rolling around the area. With this I ask all of you to be cautious when coming up on the machinery. Even with a good amount of this machinery being smaller than planters and combines, caution needs to always be used. With the end of harvest and winter fast approaching, many farmers are working on cleaning and preparing their equipment for winter. With winter also comes informational meetings that farmers may take advantage of to learn about new seed, equipment, and other inputs that they use on a yearly basis. Winter time is also a time for farmers to start planning for the new year- even though machinery may not be running in the fields, farmers stay very busy with other aspects of farming. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Justice to the Highest Bidder?

NowlanDecember 10, 2014

by Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Serious political money has begun to infect judicial elections in Illinois (and across the nation). What should be done about it, if anything? Will we do it?
I am still rankled by the election for the Illinois Supreme Court more than a decade ago. At the last minute Democratic Speaker of the House Mike Madigan poured about a million dollars into a campaign for unknown Thomas Kilbride of Rock Island to defeat a highly qualified candidate in Carl Hawkinson of Galesburg (Harvard Law; distinguished service as chair of the state senate judiciary committee).
(By the way, Mr. Kilbride may have developed into a fine justice; I just don’t know. And that is the problem: you and I just don’t know.)
I think that election was the start of it. Then in 2004, business, health care and trial lawyer interests spent almost $10 million in a state Supreme Court race in southern Illinois won by Republican Lloyd Karmeier. Read More

Leaving a Legacy of Our Lives

December 10, 2014

by Sarah Hudson Pierce
Guest Columnist

One of the best gifts we can give to our children is to write our stories down so that so that future generations will know where they came from.
Storytelling has become mostly a lost art. Before the days of television the family sat around and told stories while the children prepared to go to sleep.
I find few things more fascinating than researching my family history because I knew so little having grown up in an orphanage. I’ve located more living, long-lost relatives than anyone I know.
And within those family groups, I’ve received a few copies of stories written by my second cousin Mildred Pettis-Leighton who mentioned with fondness my mother’s visit with them one Christmas, shortly after my 25-year-old grandmother died in an underground sod house, in Woods County, Oklahoma, when my mother was only two. Read More

LTE: 12.10.14

The Star Atop

The happiest of anniversaries is here again. In the jubilation of family gatherings and the exchange of gifts let us not forget the bigger thoughts and blessings which Christmas should bring.
Here on the banks of the Marrowbone in the Valley of the West Okaw our spirits and thoughts are lifted as we view the myriad displays of lights and decorations that proclaim the birth of the Son of God. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Can Civics Make a Difference?

NowlanDecember 3, 2014

by Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

There is a push by a small but dedicated band (I am on the fringe of the group) that advocates for civics to be a required course in Illinois schools.

Could civics education cure, over time, what ails us when it comes to corruption, low voter turnout and a possibly declining sense of civic virtue? I think so, but it will take years.

The problem is that civics advocates are among a long list of boosters trying to claw back some time, respectively, for arts, music, geography, physical education, character education, and more. Read More

Growing up in Sullivan: Some Memories of Christmases Past

GintherDecember 3, 2014

by Jerry Ginther
NP Columnist

Many of my generation will remember the fragrance of a fresh douglas fir or spruce Christmas tree. Some may remember actually harvesting a tree from a wooded area where you could pick your tree and cut it yourself. There were grower/vendors in some areas that allowed cutting your own. During the ‘40s and ‘50s, my childhood years, most families would purchase a new, live tree each year to display the colorful ornaments and lights in their homes. Today, most of the trees are artificial, flame-retardant and serviceable for many years. However, it seems to me that these holidays are coming around more frequently, and I’m putting our tree together and taking it apart more often than I used to in years past. Read More

If We Aren’t Thankful What Else is There?

November 26, 2014

by Sarah Hudson Pierce
Guest Columnist

If we aren’t thankful for what we possess what else is there? What good does it do to have the best of everything if we are discontented?
Having been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, along with my sister Alice, due to having grown up in an orphanage, perhaps we are a little more grateful than some of our peers.
Maybe it takes emotional storms, of having the rugs jerked out from under our feet, to truly understand the trauma of hurting. Having stood on the edge of homelessness as a child and an adult, God has always stepped out of the woodwork to help me. Read More

Understanding Illinois: State Gets Raw Deal From Feds

NowlanNovember 26, 2014

by Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

I was struck to read the other day that Illinois receives back from the federal government only 56 cents of every dollar it sends to Washington in taxes, which ranks us 49th on this indicator. I have known for decades that Illinois has been on the short end of the stick, but I did not know it was so bad.
So I decided to dig a little deeper to see if it could be true. I found that, yes, it probably is correct.
The state of Illinois should mount a major effort in the new Rauner Administration to begin to claw back some of our money. Read More

Growing up in Sullivan: Over the River and Through the Woods

GintherNovember 19, 2014

by Jerry Ginther
NP Columnist

That is how one of the old Thanksgiving Day songs begins, followed by “To Grandmother’s house we go.” We all learned that song as kids, sang it before the holiday in grade school, and identified with the fun of going to Grandma’s house for the day or weekend. Usually, aunts, uncles and cousins we had not seen often throughout the year would be present for the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Most would arrive early, and the ladies would all get busy in the kitchen to help with last minute preparations. The spirit and conversations were cheerful as everyone exchanged pleasant greetings and started to catch up on family happenings since they were last together. Read More