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

Understanding Illinois: Rauner’s Budget Dilemma

NowlanNovember 19, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

In less than three months, governor-elect Bruce Rauner has to present a budget that is balanced—and do so with $4 billion less available revenue than is in the present $35 billion general funds budget, because of the automatic January 1 rollback of much of the 2011 income tax increases.

It will be a difficult task. Indeed, I think it will be nigh impossible. I wish it were otherwise as a lower tax burden would make our state more competitive.

Some background: State government has already been trimming operating expenses. For example, state government employment fell from 87,000 in 2002 to about 64,000 this past year, more than a quarter of the workforce. Read More

Broken Record

Bill Bailey, WIUNovember 19, 2014

by William C Bailey
School of Agriculture Western Illinois University

The Urban Dictionary writes that, when someone is referred to as a ‘broken record’, it means “One who continually repeats the same statement with little variation, if any.” Well, I think I might fit the description since I am going to discuss, again, Chinese food safety. And the problems with Chinese food safety have the potential to become our food problems.

In 2006, I wrote about a curious US Department of Agriculture (USDA) ruling that permitted US chickens to be sent to China where they could be processed, repackaged, returned to the sender and sold as a US product. The ruling stated that China was approved to export processed chicken to the US as long as that chicken was not raised or slaughtered in China. At the time, more knowledgeable market watchers said this was the sound of the first shoe hitting the floor. And that second shoe, permission for Chinese grown and slaughtered chicken to be imported and sold in the US, was going to eventually hit the floor. Just wait. Read More

Farm Bureau Update: Farm Safety for Kids

HarveyNovember 12, 2014

By Tyler Harvey
Mo-Do Farm Bureau Manager

It seems long ago since the last time I wrote to you by the change in landscape around the area.

In the last month farmers have been tirelessly working in the fields and taking their crops from the field to elevators and storage bins. It is always amazing to see the harvest unwind every year and always a blessing when the rain stays away to let farmers finish the task before them. This has been a good year for crops around the area as many of you could tell if you passed nearby elevators and saw corn placed outside a storage bin. At the same time, I tip my hat to all the workers who logistically were able to make this 2014 crop move. When you think of the process it takes to get the crop from the field, combine, auger cart, truck, elevator, and to other destinations, it takes a committed group of people to make this all possible. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Gambling Preys on Poor for “Success”

NowlanNovember 12, 2014

by Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

A state agency recently reported that gambling revenues in Illinois were up more than seven percent in the past year. This gives me the opportunity for my annual rant about how the state almost shoves gambling down our throats. The big losers are the poor, as I show below.

The state generates more than $2 billion in annual revenue (which are actually taxpayer losses) from seven forms of gambling. And still gambling proponents want more. Read More

Letters to the Editor: 11.5.14

Glad Sullivan Has Kept Halloween Tradition

I was so excited to see in the October 22 paper, which I just got in Oregon, that Sullivan still allows more than one day for trick or treating.

In the 1940’s and ‘50’s we always went out more than one night, and then there was also the parade. Halloween was a very big deal in those days. Read More