Understanding Illinois: Four-Year Degrees From Two-Year Colleges?

NowlanJuly 30, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

For the past decade, College of DuPage (COD) president Bob Breuder has been pushing state lawmakers to allow two-year community colleges to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees in technology-oriented fields.

Breuder makes a good case. Expect another push in the next session of the state legislature.

Since Joliet (IL) Junior College became the first such college in the nation in 1901, Illinois has been a leader in the community college movement.

When I was a legislator in the late 1960s, public two-year colleges had dotted the mushrooming suburbs and major downstate cities, covering the whole state.

Today there are 39 community college districts and 48 campuses, enrolling 42 percent of all higher education students in the state.

The two-year colleges have advantages over the older, more traditional colleges and universities. First, many located in population-dense markets, while small colleges often constructed their “Old Main” a century earlier in frontier towns that never blossomed. Read More

Retirement, A Big Decision

July 23, 2014

By Gerald Tilley
Social Security Dist. Manager Decatur

If you believe in going all the way or not going at all, there’s a day to celebrate your extreme ways. July 26 is All or Nothing Day. Not a day for the undecided, All or Nothing Day is dedicated to the idea of making decisions and plunging in. Whether it’s overcoming an agonizing fear, trying something you’ve always wanted to try, or making a big decision and seeing it through, All or Nothing Day is your chance to make it happen.

Read More

Understanding Illinois: Lincoln Embroiled in Ill. Politics, Again

NowlanJuly 16, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) is a popular tourist attraction in Springfield, with nearly four million visitors going through the turnstiles since its opening less than a decade ago.

The Trip Advisor website notes that nearly 1,300 of 1,400 reviews of the attraction give it the top, “excellent” rating, which is a resounding testimonial. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Ill. Leans Democratic but Still Competitive

July 9, 2014

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

“Illinois is still a competitive state that leans Democratic in statewide elections,” declares John Jackson, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University, based on a statewide survey he conducted recently.

Jackson says the national perception that Illinois is a deep blue (strongly Democratic) state is belied by the fact that Republicans hold a U.S. Senate seat and two statewide offices (treasurer and comptroller). Read More

What’s The Market Doing?

Bill Bailey, WIUJuly 9, 2014

by William C. Bailey

School of Agriculture
Western Illinois University

If you are around people involved in agriculture, the question “What’s the market doing?” will eventually come up. While there may be variations – “How’s the market?” or “Anything going on in the markets?” the question is really about is price. Prices for corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, and other commodities of interest to the questioner- and the question is about what those prices are doing. For people involved in agriculture, markets mean price and price is central to agriculture.

Let’s take a look at two markets – soybeans and cattle to answer the question “What’s the market doing?” First, soybeans. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Tea Party Percolates in Princeton

NowlanJuly 2, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

In the wake of the recent stunning defeat of U.S. House leader Eric Cantor by an anti-Establishment conservative, interest in the Tea Party has been revived.

I report here on my recent visit with a small, amiable yet determined group of Tea Party activists in Princeton, Illinois, one of about 70 such local groups in the state. I promised to let them define themselves, without my editorial observations. Read More

Seeing the Fruits of Labor Pay off in July

KimForColumnJuly 2, 2014

by Kim Ridel
Master Gardner Columnist

I spent a week back west with my family this past week and it was a wonderful get-a-way. On my first day there, we visited a public garden in downtown Las Vegas and within minutes I could feel my fingers, hands, and arms swelling. I couldn’t believe what my body was doing to me—I just kept thinking, “I’m a gardener, I can’t be allergic to this place!” I never did find out what my body was reacting to, though the swelling went down within a few hours after leaving the garden. Maybe it wasn’t the plants…perhaps I’m just allergic to Vegas.

I have enjoyed this past month with lots of strawberries, and I am now picking lots of raspberries and blackberries.  Read More

Understanding Illinois: Eliminate Pensions for Elected Officials

NowlanJune 25, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

A recent Gallup poll found that a smaller percentage of Illinois residents have trust in their state government than in any other state.

Only 28 percent of Illinois residents evinced “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in their state government. Rhode Island was next lowest at 40 percent and in several states such as North Dakota and Wyoming three quarters of responded had trust in their governments.

Gallup cited corruption in the state as a factor in this lack of trust. Read More

It’s Just Golden…Peer Pressure: A Human Quandary

Golden Column PhotoJune 25, 2014

by John Golden
NP Columnist

I can remember back when I was a young student in school, the teachers would often warn us of how dangerous and powerful peer pressure could be. I also remember how we were told that one day our friends would possibly try and push us into situations while repeating cliché phrases like “everybody is doing it” or “don’t be lame”. In every explanation, we were told that it would inevitably be another misguided sole pushing us down rocky paths.

There is no doubt that there have been certain moments scattered throughout my lifetime when I felt undeniable pressure to do something I knew was not smart or safe. But now, when I think back and reevaluate those same moments, I wonder how much of the pressure had come from other people and how much had actually come from the voice inside my own head.  Read More