February 4, 2015
by Professor William C. Bailey
School of Agriculture, Western Illinois University
Agriculture has always embraced technology, and there is a new technology, or at least a new approach to the use of a technology, that may provide significant changes to American farming. And it comes from the sky.
As a former military pilot, I have long monitored the use of airplanes in agriculture – exporting livestock by air, crop dusting, herding livestock by helicopter in Australia or simply flying over a farm to see crops and livestock from a different perspective than a truck. Following the airborne thought, I know creative people see new opportunities for technology in agriculture, in this case the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). I used the term ‘drone” once when first discussing this technology with an expert and was quickly corrected that the proper name is UAV. So, we will use UAV rather than drones for this column.
UAVs have been used in agriculture for a while, but as the military has increased their use of UVAs, they have become more powerful and more sophisticated. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued the first permit for the agricultural use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Among the FAA requirements are that UAV operations include a ground pilot that has a private pilot certificate, has a medical certificate and that the UAV remain in sight at all times. The significant factor is the FAA has recognized the growing interest in using UAVs in agriculture. Read More
January 28, 2015
by Jerry Ginther
On one of my bicycling tours of the town when I was 12 or 13 years old, I came upon a man plowing a garden near the intersection of Seymour and Strain streets. That, in and of itself, was not unusual, but the fact that he was plowing the garden with a horse caught my attention right away. Even in the late 50’s this was somewhat of a novelty to see someone plowing in town with a horse. Truthfully, there was something else about this scene that made it even more appealing to a curious boy looking for something interesting to do. That something else, to which I’m alluding, was the sight of several kids riding on the plow horse. I wasted no time abandoning my two-wheeled transportation for a closer look. Kids were lined up on the horse’s back from the hames to his rump, and others were waiting their turn. If you think I got in line, you are thinking correctly. What more could an adventurous, young lad hope to find on a Saturday morning than a chance for a horseback ride. Even if it was a plow horse, it was a horse, and a big horse at that. At that age, it didn’t matter; it made the day, and I would join in the fun! Read More
January 28, 2015
by Jim Nowlan
Politics is largely about who gets what and is a game of debits and credits amassed over the years by political power players.
In the 1950s, U.S. Senate minority leader Everett Dirksen of Pekin would on many a late afternoon saunter over to the hideaway Capitol office of legendary Senate majority leader Lyndon Baines Johnson. Over a bourbon-and-branch water, or two, these political powerhouses would shape the national policy agenda for the coming week and beyond – while taking care of home state priorities.
In the 1990s, Speaker of the U.S. House Dennis Hastert (R-Yorkville in northeast Illinois) watched closely over the interests of the Prairie State.
Those days are gone. Today, according to Roll Call magazine, a tip sheet for Washington DC insiders, Illinois has slipped from 4th to 17th in recent years in its “clout ranking” among the states, even though we are 5thin population..
This is important because, as I have said in this space, Illinois receives only about 56 cents back for every tax dollar we send to Washington, while all of our neighboring states harvest much more than a dollar for every dollar sent to the federal coffers. Read More
Apologize for Quote
In regards to the article in the News Progress two weeks ago about Paul Craig, I want to apologize for the stupid saying I made — “I remember when Il. Route 121 was a dirt road”. Read More
January 21, 2015
By Tyler Harvey
Mo-Do Farm Bureau Manager
The New Year is off and running, and the Farm Bureau on a county, state, and national level is staying very active. On a national level, The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is in the middle of their Annual Meeting which is held from January 11-14. Just like the Illinois Farm Bureau, the AFBF meets once a year to look and decide on policies and resolutions that make up the organization. The AFBF is made up of all the state Farm Bureaus in the United States. The Board of Directors for AFBF are comprised of 27 directors from across the nation. The United States itself in broken into four different regions with a certain amount of directors coming from each region. Bob Stallman from Texas is the current AFBF President. This is the same position our very own Charles Shuman held from 1954-1970. President Shuman was the President of the Illinois Farm Bureau before his tenure as AFBF President. Read More
January 21, 2015
by Jim Nowlan
Gov. Bruce Rauner promises to renovate the leaky Illinois Executive Mansion with his seemingly limitless wealth—and to live there as well.
Better to utilize the mansion extensively for social events for the political class, especially when the lawmakers are in town, but continue to live in Chicago, where the action is.
The undistinguished Italianate, brick, 16-room mansion was built in 1855 during the governorship of Joel Matteson (who apparently tampered with a jury to avoid prison for cashing in $300,000 in state script that had already earlier been redeemed).
Entry into the building is from under a low-ceilinged portico, which darkens the entry way. A spiral staircase leads up to airy, sunny public rooms that are furnished tastefully in 19th Century style of the era of its construction.
There is a large, long dining room that can serve 30 or so, I am recalling, for formal dinners but is used more frequently as a buffet table. Beyond the dining room is a modest ballroom with small stage that would be perfect for musicales, but is rarely used in that way. Read More
January 14, 2015
by Sarah Hudson Pierce
As we stand at the gate of a new year we need to ask ourselves if we have lost our sense of priorities. Have we switched the price tags in our lives? Is it possible to go back once we’ve crossed the picket line?
There was a book written by Tony Campolo titled “Who Switched the Price Tags?” The story was told of some pranksters slipping into a department store right at closing time and playing a joke that caused great alarm the next day. Read More
January 14, 2015
By Josh Bullock
President of Lake Land College
The beginning of a new year provides the perfect opportunity for us to reflect on our many blessings, contemplate the opportunities that lie ahead and consider ways to give back to our communities. As your community college, Lake Land College takes pride in partnering with area organizations to assist our neighbors in need. During the course of the year, Lake Land students and employees focus on ways to give back to the communities in which we live and work. Read More
January 7, 2015
By Jim Nowlan
As a self-proclaimed moderate, I try to look both Left and Right objectively. I have often mused about why the Democrats, the party of “the little guy,” do not dominate Republicans, the party of “the big guy,” as there are so many more of the former.
Recently my tennis buddies Tom and Flora gave me some clues. Tom worked his way up at Caterpillar, from the line, where he became a union steward, to foreman. Flora is a barber (and the best tennis player in our group). Both are quite thoughtful and hardworking, and longtime Democrats; at least they have been.
Over beers a couple of weeks ago, Tom expressed exasperation with the slackers in his world, the men and women who will grab at any opportunity not to work, such as abusing family leave days off work to care for family members. And about the guy who successfully claimed federal disability benefits and is now busy on top of his house putting on a new roof.
Then Flora chimed in. She told of the white guys she knows who get together to discuss how they can game the food stamp program and other social welfare benefits. Read More
January 7, 2015
by Jerry Ginther
Mostly what I remember, and liked, about school field trips is that they got us out of the classroom for part of the day, and they were always interesting. On one such trip we walked to Wyman Park from Powers School to observe a mother opossum with young in a hollow tree. The mother must not have known we were coming to visit because she remained at home. Had she known that there would be two or three classrooms of children peering into her privacy she would more than likely have departed to the safety of a taller tree.
Some of our excursions were walking trips, and some were bus trips. A special outing I recall also included a train ride. At that time the C&EI Railroad still operated its last passenger train through Sullivan. The name of that train was the Meadowlark, and the carrier discontinued its operation around 1961-62. Not only was this their last passenger train, but also, it was a very short train. It consisted of one motorized, (self propelled) car. That was of no consequence to us; it was large enough to accommodate our class as there were only a few other passengers on board. Read More