Who Switched The Price Tags?

January 14, 2015

by Sarah Hudson Pierce
Guest Columnist

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

Giving to Our Communities

Bullock, Josh2013 FINALJanuary 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

Understanding Illinois: Why Democrats are Losing Ground

NowlanJanuary 7, 2015

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

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

Growing up in Sullivan: School Field Trips

GintherJanuary 7, 2015

by Jerry Ginther
NP Columnist

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

Understanding Illinois: Rauner and Education in New Year

NowlanDecember 31, 2014

by Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has pledged to roll back income tax increases and boost funding for education. I have suggested in this space that to do both this coming year would take greater prestidigitation than the great Harry Houdini displayed when thrown into a freezing river in a strait jacket and chains (Houdini survived, by the way).
So, what should the incoming governor do for education? If anyone asks my opinion (no one has), here are some thoughts.
Most schools hold school longer each year than we do, and for 6½-7 hours each day rather than our six. I found an old United Nations survey of school going. Of the 50 nations that responded, 42 went for more than 180 days (we are at about 175-180) and 20 held school for between 210-239 days per year. Read More

Grown and Sewn in the US

Bill Bailey, WIUDecember 31, 2014

by William C Bailey
Professor, Western Illinois University

There is growing consumer preference in the US for local foods. Defining local foods is a little elusive, but the key concept seems to be a desire to bring farmers and consumers closer together. In the process, the importance of food manufacturers, shippers, and retailers is reduced. This concept was addressed here five years ago when I mentioned the disinterest of major food processors, such as Bear Naked Cereal, to interact with consumers. In contrast, Kewanee based Country Morning Coffee, says, on its website, “We love to hear from you”. Read More

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

December 24, 2014

It's been 117 years since Virginia O'Hanlon sought the truth about Santa from the New York Sun.

In over a century, the lives of children — and their parents—have increased in complexity by a factor of ten.

Man landed on the moon, communism rose and fell, countries changed names and borders, Elvis begat Jagger, who in turn led to "gangsta rap". The kidnap and murder of children, which made world headlines for the Lindbergh family, now touches the lives of hundreds of families annually. Children begin learning at ages two and three about "stranger danger," AIDS and sexual abuse.

The age of innocence is gone.

But that doesn't mean that Virginia O'Hanlon's innocent question to an anonymous editor is irrelevant in today's world. Far from it.

Today, more than ever, we all need to be reminded of the good that dwells in even the meanest spirit, of the hope that fires our most ambitious dreams. That, yes, there is a Santa Claus, and he lives in all our hearts.

So here, as a Christmas gift to us all, is Francis Pharcellus Church's editorial response to Virginia, first printed in The New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897. Merry Christmas.

"We take pleasure in an-swering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

'Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, 'If you see it in The Sun, it's so.' Read More

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