LTE: 4.22.15

Concern About Proposed Zoo

I no longer live in Moultrie County, however I do own farm land and am concerned about the proposed zoo in Moultrie County. I came to Sullivan on April 9 to attend the county board meeting as they were voting to change the zoning to allow a zoo in Moultrie County. Read More

Farm Bureau Update: Spring Ushers in Busy Times

HarveyApril 15, 2015

By Tyler Harvey
Mo-Do Farm Bureau Manager

With spring right around the corner, it has been a busy time for both the Moultrie and Douglas County Farm Bureaus. The Moultrie County Farm Bureau attended their District 11 meeting March 12 in Decatur. Rae Payne, Senior Director of Business and Regulatory Affairs for the Illinois Farm Bureau, was the guest speaker for the evening. The meeting was well attended by all the counties that comprise District 11 which include Moultrie, Macon, Piatt, Dewitt, Christian, and Shelby counties. Members from the Douglas County Farm Bureau attended their District 12 meeting Monday, March 16 in Arthur. Guest speakers for the program included Lauren Lurkins, Director of Natural and Environmental Resources for the Illinois Farm Bureau, Jennifer Tirey, Executive Director for the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (CBMP), Dr. Howard Brown, Director of Nutrient Management and Environmental Stewardship for GROWMARK, and Dan Schaefer, Director of Nutrient Stewardship, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. This meeting was also well attended by all the counties that comprise District 12 which include Douglas, Edgar, Vermilion, and Champaign counties. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Body Cameras Put All On Best Behavior

NowlanApril 15, 2015

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Recent high-profile police shootings have put local law enforcement across the country under scrutiny. Will body cameras on police provide, as some experts think, a high-tech tool to improve behavior by both police and suspects, and thus de-escalate tensions over time?
The Economist, a highly respected United Kingdom weekly, offers trenchant analysis of American society by thoughtful outsiders. In December, the magazine excoriated U.S. policing for excessive use of force.
The publication noted that police in the U.S. shot and killed at least 458 people last year. In contrast, English “bobbies” felled no one in the period.
The Economist admitted that many American police operate in a violent world. Forty-six policemen were shot dead in the past year, and 52,000 were assaulted.
Policing has changed dramatically since I was a youngster in the 1950s.
In my rural county of Stark, for example, we then had simply a sheriff and his deputy; the deputy lived in the jail, and his wife cooked for the inmates. Read More

Growing Up in Sullivan: Textbook Characters

GintherApril 8, 2015

by Jerry Ginther
NP Columnist

We had a special, fictional character in one of our science textbooks in the Sullivan grade schools. I’m not sure now in which grade that particular textbook was used, but the character’s name was Cowboy Hal. Hal taught us the graduation in degrees on the Fahrenheit thermometer and the temperature at which water would boil at sea level. He introduced us to the power of the steam created when water was boiled and how it was used to power steam engines on ships and train locomotives. Other lessons included the polarization of magnets; how like poles resisted while opposite poles attracted. Cowboy Hal knew the names of all the constellations and where to look for them in the night sky; what a guy! I can still find the Big and Little Dippers, and the North Star. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Rural Folks Sing the Blues in Illinois

NowlanApril 8, 2015

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Almost three out of four small town and rural residents across Illinois (73 percent) think overall economic prospects for families in the state will be worse in the next five years. This is according to a poll reported on recently by a rural research unit at Western Illinois University.
The same poll of 1,450 respondents found that almost half (49.5 percent) consider Illinois a poor place to live, versus only 26 percent who think it a good place.
And almost half (47 percent) think their quality of life has become worse in the past five years, with only 11 percent feeling it has become better.
Talk about singing the blues. Read More

Some Thoughts as You Begin the Gardening Season

KimForColumnApril 1, 2015

by Kim Riedel
NP Columnist

It seems as if winter has dragged on and on this year while I have been anxiously waiting for spring to arrive. Over the last couple of months, I have spent time outside pruning back fruit trees, berries, and grape vines hoping for a great harvest this coming year! I have gone through all sorts of seed catalogues dreaming of the different varieties of produce to try out in my garden, and after much thought, I came up with over 50 different varieties of tomatoes to test and over 30 different varieties of peppers (from sweet peppers to scorching hot).
I have been trying over the years to incorporate color throughout my garden in all seasons. This past month I have been so excited as I see some of the signs of spring—yellow, purple, and striped crocuses, my oxalis blooming, and buds of leaves starting along the fence, in the raised beds, and in all corners of my garden. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Is High School Football Worth the Risk?

NowlanApril 1, 2015

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Talented linebacker Chris Borland called it quits this past week after just one year in the NFL. “I don’t think it’s worth the risk,” Borland told ESPN, referring to multiple concussions he has sustained. Several other NFL players have also retired this past year for similar reasons.
In Illinois, a class action law firm in Chicago has filed suit this year against the Illinois High School Association. The suit contends that the IHSA has failed in its responsibilities to provide adequate safety oversight for the 557 member high schools and their 47,000 football players.
The IHSA responds that if the suit is successful in requiring more and expensive medical oversight during practices and games, the death knell will probably be sounded for many small high school football programs. Read More

Understanding Illinois: The Opportunity Costs of Health Care

NowlanMarch 25, 2015

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

When I was a boy in the 1950s, health care was simple. If you got sick, you went to the family doctor. If you were really sick, you went to the local hospital and stayed until you got better or died. If you could afford it, you might go to Mayo’s for the latest in care. Most costs came out of a family’s pocketbook.
Today, especially as one ages, health care involves a cavalcade of trips to specialists, hands full of daily pills and robotic-driven surgeries to exorcise diseased growths. As relatively little of the costs now come directly out of our pockets, we insist on the latest and best care and technologies, and right away.
As a result, health care costs have gone through the roof and are expected to keep climbing.
According to the Center for American Progress, health care spending in the U.S., adjusted for inflation, increased by 818 percent between 1960 and 2010 while wages were going up just 16 percent. Per capita spending on health care is about $8,000 per year.
Economist William Baumol contends that we can afford the high costs of health care because of productivity increases elsewhere that bring the costs of other goods and services down. Read More

The Romance of Railroading: Folklore Continued

GintherMarch 25, 2015

by Jerry Ginther
NP Columnist

As stated in my first article, the conductor is the boss.
Every member of the train and engine crew is subordinate to him, and the engine crew is under the direction of the brakemen/trainmen. The engineer is strictly a power operator and moves the train only when instructed to do so by a trainman or the conductor. The fireman, when they were used, was under the supervision of the engineman. Post steam engine era the fireman’s position was used to train future engineers or fulfill a union contract.
When the train picked up or set out cars at stations along the line, the conductor handled the business end of each transaction with the station agent. This business mostly amounted to the exchange of the waybills for cars left and those added to his train. A waybill contains a description of the car’s lading, weight, and destination and one must accompany each car in the train’s consist. It also contains the name of the shipper, point of origin, and the consignee. The conductor is responsible to know the total number of cars, whether they are loaded or empty and the total tonnage of his train. This information had to be provided by the conductor to agents or telegraph operators at predetermined stations along the line. Those operators would telegraph that information to the train dispatcher. Without this knowledge, the dispatcher would be unable to plan meeting places between opposing trains. At sidings used for the meeting and passing of trains, one of them would have to fit between the switches of the siding. Read More

LTE: 3.18.15

Enjoying “Romance of Railroading”

I’m pleased to see Jerry Ginther has written an additional article about the railroad (per his facebook post). Until his first article I wasn’t aware of the “ins and outs” of railroading. However, I did find the information quite interesting. How many of us just sit and watch those huge trains go by in a blur? Now, I find myself reflecting on some of the information I learned by reading the first of Mr. Ginther’s accounting of his railroad career. Read More