Small businesses could end up pay more with new "fair" taxing plan


by Bryce Hill, Senior Research Analyst
Illinois Policy


COVID-19 and state-mandated restrictions already damaged Illinois small businesses, but the extra challenge of a 50.3% marginal income tax rate awaits if Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “fair tax” is added to their state and federal income tax burdens.

Despite wide-spread agreement that you should not raise taxes during an economic downturn, Pritzker insists Illinois needs his $3 billion income tax hike now more than ever. But massive job losses and stubbornly high unemployment rates mean there might not be a worse time for a tax hike. Hiking taxes during a recession, or just as the economy attempts to get back on its feet, would be a clear policy mistake. One reason is the income tax hike would hit the state’s largest job creators – small businesses – the hardest.

Small businesses are responsible for 60% of the net job creation in Illinois and are the businesses most at risk from the economic fallout of COVID-19. Changing to a progressive income tax in Illinois could mean a massive tax hike for these businesses and create marginal income tax rates in excess of 50% when all state and federal income taxes are included. Research has shown an increase in the top marginal tax rate is associated with a decrease in hiring activity of entrepreneurs and lower wages for their employees.

When considering all of the layers of income taxes Illinoisans face, small businesses – who pay taxes as individuals – could be left paying 50.3% of their top-end income in taxes. Total marginal income tax rates would range from 31.6% to 50.3% thanks to federal income tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, state income tax, and Illinois’ Personal Property Replacement Tax.

The increase in the state income tax from the current flat rate of 4.95%, to up to 7.99% under the progressive income tax, would mean that some small businesses would face a state income tax hike 5 times larger than big businesses.

Progressive income tax hike could be nearly 5 times higher for small businesses than large

While the total corporate income tax rate – including the Personal Property Replacement Tax – will be hiked by 10% (from 9.5% to 10.49% when including the replacement tax), the tax hike for pass-throughs could be up to 47% (6.45% to 9.49% when including the replacement tax).

Research from April showed fewer than half of all U.S. small businesses expected to re-open this year if the crisis lasted more than four months. For the small businesses that do manage to survive, the last thing their owners and employees need is a tax hike to crush them while they’re attempting to get back on their feet.

Small businesses such as S-corps, partnerships, LLCs, and sole proprietors make up a large majority of business establishments in Illinois, representing 71% of all private for-profit businesses, totaling more than 210,000 establishments. These small businesses also employed nearly half of Illinois’ private for-profit workforce prior to the COVID-19 downturn, or more than 2.3 million Illinoisans.

Contrary to the governor’s claims, a progressive income tax hike is the exact opposite of what Illinois lawmakers should be doing in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

Nearly 700,000 Illinoisans remain out of work as a result of the pandemic. That is after the first year on record in which Illinois lost private-sector jobs amid a national boom.

Imposing marginal tax rates exceeding 50% for Illinois’ largest job creators during the current economic crisis would be a painful mistake.


Originally published by Illinois Policy on October 8, 2020. Published by permission.

Photo of the Day - October 31, 2020


Drew Coursey's last football game

Tough exit for Spartans

Senior Drew Coursey hugs teammate Crayton Burnett after the Spartans first-round loss Williamsville on November 2, 2019. The Bullets, who went on win the IHSA Class 3A title, eliminated SJO from the postseason by away of a 54-26 season-ending loss.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

One step back, Champaign County joins the rest of the state in Coronavirus resurgence mitigation

On Friday, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced resurgence mitigations would go into effect in Region 6 - which includes Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Dewitt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Lawrence, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Richland, Shelby and Vermillion counties - starting 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 2.

The 21-county region recorded a 7-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8 percent or above for three consecutive days, which exceeds the thresholds set for establishing mitigation measures under the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan.

In order to get back to Phase 4 and back to having indoor dining, the region will need a positivity rate of less than 6.5 percent for three straight days. If that rate stays above 8 percent for 14 days, then the region will face even more restrictions.

While Champaign county, if you ignore the University of Illinois' testing efforts, boast a 7-day positivity of 5.7, six counties are flaunting double-digit numbers. Coles county is currently at 11, Effingham 11.2, Macon 13.7, Douglas 14.9, Shelby 15.9 and Cumberland 26.1.

The resurgence mitigation restrictions target bars and restaurant in order to control the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Pritzker has said there are dozens of studies and articles on outbreaks in bars and restaurants to justify reducing the services they provide.

Mitigation measures taking effect November 2 in Region 6 include:

Bars

• No indoor service
• All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m.
• All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside
• No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed) 
• Tables should be 6 feet apart 
• No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
• No dancing or standing indoors
• Reservations required for each party
• No seating of multiple parties at one table

Restaurants

• No indoor dining or bar service
• All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m.
• Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart
• No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
• Reservations required for each party 
• No seating of multiple parties at one table

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings

• Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity
• No party buses
• Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable

Two area restaurants, Buford's Pub in Sadorus and Apple Dumplin', just outside the Urbana city limits, informed customers via Facebook that they intend remain open despite the restrictions from the state. Both business saw overwhelming support in both comments and "Likes".

Jeff Buckler, owner of Buford’s Pub told The News-Gazette it wasn’t an easy (decision) to make.

"Let me put it that way. We went through the last one; it was supposed to last two weeks and lasted what, 120 days?" he said. "I’m fighting for every small business out there. I’m just tired of being told what to do when they’re using the bars and restaurants as scapegoats. What about the Walmarts and Targets?"

On a Facebook, a post by Buford's Pub's said, "Its not just about my business its about all small business stand up against a dictator. Bars and (sic) are getting the brunt of this and combined we are less then (sic) 9% of the whole issue."

Meanwhile two days earlier, bars and restaurants in Region 9 received similar news.

A Crystal Lake attorney on Thursday filed a 78-page lawsuit on behalf of 37 McHenry County restaurants, hoping to bring the state’s mitigation plans to a halt and allow owners to continue offering indoor service.

A day later, McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer denied the application for a temporary restraining order. The Northwest Herald reported he made his decision based on new facts and that mitigation order was not an extension the governor's executive order from last March.

"It was a difficult and unpleasant order to enter," Meyer said in the article. "But I do believe that there is a basis for the new executive order and that is how we end up where we are."

Buckler and Jim Flanigan, owner of the Apple Dumplin', have retained attorney Tom DeVore, who made headlines this summer when he represented state Representative Darren Bailey effort to null the state's mitigation order in a lawsuit and won. It was through DeVore's efforts a Clay County judge declared the Governor’s continuing use of emergency powers as an overstep of his constitutional authority.

The ruling, depending on who you speak with, is only applicable in south central Illinois county where the daily testing positivity is at 14.9 as of the time of this story and pushing a 7-day rolling average of 9.7. An appeal filed by the governor is still pending on the Clay County case.

Photo of the Day - October 30, 2020


Elyse Knudsen scores 24 against Urbana

Unity's wins on the road, Knudsen scores 24

Unity's Elyce Knudsen goes up for a shot on Urbana's Kynzee Boastick during their non-conference game on December 9, 2019. The senior finished the night with a team-high 24 points, making 10 of 12 attempts from the free throw line to help her team to a 59-49 road win over the Tigers. Later in the 2019-20 season, Knudsen would surpassed Unity's all-time scoring mark in a home game in February held by Rocket alumnus and 12-year NBA veteran Brian Cardinal, who drained a career 1,812 points during his prep career.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Northern Illinois restaurant gets TRO to remain open despite Governor's orders


by Joe Tabor, Senior Policy Analyst
Illinois Policy


FoxFire restaurant can stay open while the challenge to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s exercise of emergency powers works its way through the courts, a Kane County judge has ruled.

On Oct. 26, Judge Kevin Busch granted the Geneva, Illinois, steakhouse’s request for a temporary restraining order against Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-61, specifically as it relates to FoxFire’s ability to conduct indoor dining. The judge barred the governor, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Kane County Health Department from enforcing the order.

The order applies only to FoxFire and allows the restaurant to operate with indoor seating until the next hearing, or until the state appeals the ruling. FoxFire’s petition for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction argued that all of Pritzker’s COVID-19 subsequent disaster proclamations after the initial March 9 proclamation were invalid. That first proclamation expired on April 7.

Pritzker’s authority to issue executive orders limiting the operation of restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic comes from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act. The Act limits the exercise of emergency powers to 30 days after the governor has issued a disaster proclamation, but Pritzker has continuously issued new proclamations to extend the timespan of his emergency powers to almost 250 days so far. The Act itself is silent as to whether Pritzker can extend his emergency powers indefinitely, and the governor’s actions have met numerous legal challenges as well as criticism.

The General Assembly could resolve these questions with legislation, but has so far declined, leaving Illinois to be governed by a series of executive orders when it comes to the state’s COVID-19 response. As it stands, these challenges will work their way through the court system.

The governor is expected to appeal the ruling in favor of the Geneva restaurant, but for now, FoxFire is the only restaurant in its region legally open to indoor dining.

Restrictions were reimposed Oct. 28 on the Metro East region and will be imposed Oct. 30 in Chicago, leading to a public debate between Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot over the need to again close bars and restaurants to indoor operations.

Half of the counties in Illinois are at a warning level for COVID-19 positivity, with the statewide 7-day average at 6.7% on Oct. 28. Of the 11 regions designated for COVID-19 restrictions, six have a positive test rate of at least 8%.

As many as 21,700 Illinois restaurants and food establishments could permanently be shuttered as a result of the pandemic and repeated closure orders.

The Illinois Restaurant Association is also looking at legal remedies, President and CEO Sam Toia told Crain’s Chicago Business. He said many in the industry feel they are being unfairly singled out, and that the restrictions used at the pandemic’s start are no longer helpful or effective.

"The science surrounding COVID-19 has evolved," Toia said. "So must the metrics for mitigation."


Originally published by Illinois Policy on October 28, 2020. Published by permission.

Area COVID cases climb, positives triple in less than a week

Sentinel Coronavirus Update
When it came COVID mitigation, The Sentinel area was looking really good last week. The number of area cases steadily declined in each village to impressive number unlike other rural areas of the state. Last Saturday, there were just 13 active cases total in the six communities that The Sentinel actively covers.

Today, a mere six days later, that number has vaulted to 45 according to the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District data.

County-wide there were an additional 433 new cases confirmed by health officials. Out of the 790,767 test performed Champaign County residents, 6,330 came back positive. As of today there are 506 active cases and 1,540 individuals who have been in contact with an infected individual now in quarantine to avoid the additional spread of infections.

One week increase in COVID-19

The rise in positive cases reflects the overall statewide trajectory occurring statewide and in surrounding neighboring states.

In Governor JB Pritzker's coronavirus briefing yesterday, he said the state is saw a new high in cases with 6,363 reported on Thursday. Records show that the state set a new seven-day average high of 5,043 new cases per day.

"The two highest seven-day average number of cases we reached in one day in the spring was 2,565 in early May. That came down to about 590 in mid-June,” he said. "Today, we are at a new high, a seven-day average of 5,043 new cases per day – closing in on twice what we saw in May."

Yesterday, the seven-day positivity rate for the East Central Illinois region Champaign County is included in the state’s mitigation map (Region 6) increased from 7.9 to 8.1 percent. If the region remains above 8.0 for more than three consecutive days, the area would see increased mitigation requirements from the state. Nearly three-quarters of the state is or will be subject to additional restrictions by Sunday.

Bars 

  • No indoor service 
  • All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m. 
  • All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside 
  • No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)  
  • Tables should be 6 feet apart  
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting 
  • No dancing or standing indoors 
  • Reservations required for each party 
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table 

Restaurants 

  • No indoor dining or bar service 
  • All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m. 
  • Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart 
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting 
  • Reservations required for each party  
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table 

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings 

  • Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity 
  • No party buses 
  • Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable 

These mitigations do not currently apply to schools.

Compared to Rantoul, with a population of 12,691 and has recorded 511 positive cases as of today, there have been only 312 cases confirmed among the 11,108 residents that live in six zip codes covered by The Sentinel.

Photo of the Day - October 29, 2020


SJO celebrates regional title victory

SJO girls regional champs!

Senior Anna Wentzloff and sophomore Alison Kearney celebrate with teammates while waiting for the awards presentation after the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team's regional title win over Villa Grove. With home court advantage, the Spartans prevailed in a 50-34 decision over the Blue Devils on February 13.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

On again, off again: When will they play basketball?

Payton Vallee rebounds for SJO
Payton Vallee pulls down a rebound for the Spartans in her team's regional title game against Villa Grove earlier this year. Vallee, who will be a senior this season, and thousands of high school basketball players around the state remain hopeful they will have a season. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
Once again, the Governor of Illinois caught the IHSA off-guard with another preemptive announcement.

Earlier today, Governor JB Pritzker told Illinoisans that all prep winter sports, including basketball would be "moved into spring" season. The announcement is the third chapter in this week's drama concerning the fate of high school sports. Meanwhile, as the state's Coronavirus positivity creeps even higher, the Illinois High School Association's decision to follow through with starting girls and boys basketball on November 16.

The IHSA's move on the COVID chess board yesterday was check, putting the actual decision of whether or not to suit up squarely in the lap of bishops tasked with running local school districts.

Shortly thereafter the IHSA response, the Governor made it clear it would be detrimental for schools to attempt to engage in interscholastic competition with the full intention of leveraging the weight of the Illinois State Board of Education — which controls funding to public schools — to ensure compliance from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The anticipation of getting back on the hardwood to compete by coaches and players in a little more than two weeks lasted only hours when a letter from ISBE superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala reiterated the state's position with veiled, but poignant threat to school districts considering defying the governor's original proclamation on Tuesday postponing the winter sports season.

"Public health experts have determined that basketball poses a high risk of COVID-19 transmission and is not currently safe to play," Ayala wrote. "Defying the state's public health guidance opens schools up to liability and other ramifications that may negatively impact school communities."

The IHSA literally had no words after Governor Pritzker's press conference today.

"The IHSA has not received additional outreach from the Governor’s office or IDPH since Tuesday, and as a result, are not comfortable commenting," Matt Troha, Assistant Executive Director for the IHSA, wrote in an emailed to The Sentinel.

The on again, off again shift every 24 hours has school district scrambling for legal advice, coaches and AD looking at schedule options yet again and players wondering if they'll actually be able to play before a home crowd.

"It has been absolutely nuts and to be honest, the back and forth is getting exhausting," SJO boys basketball head coach Kiel Duval admitted. "Like I said today, we talk about in our program all the time about working together, teamwork, putting aside our personal agendas and doing what is best for the team. It would be nice if the people making these big decisions would take that same approach."

However, according to a story in the Lincoln Courier posted just after supper, IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said he didn't believe that the Governor would actually allow basketball to be played in the spring. At least for the moment - who knows what new plot twist will be tossed into the mix on All-Hallows Eve - Anderson plans for the show to go on as planned next month.

"All the things that are in place with COVID right now that are preventing us from playing medium and high-risk category sports could still be in place in the spring," Anderson said. "Nothing has changed. We’re still playing. We aren’t playing basketball in the spring or summer. We’ve approved basketball to be played in the winter, and that’s what we are moving ahead with."

In an email to the Chicago Sun-Times, Jordan Abudayyeh, Governor Pritzker’s press secretary, said, "The goal has never been to cancel seasons, but to rather postpone the seasons with the hope that by the spring there will be a vaccine or effective treatment that will allow more students to report to in school in person and participate in extracurricular activities.

"There are currently 1.8 million students in the state who are in remote learning right now and as the Governor has said, he is focused on bringing down positivity rates in communities across the state so local school boards feel comfortable enough to bring students back into the classroom."

Duval said the situation, a new power struggle between Bloomington and Springfield now taking shape, is "taking a toll on a lot of student athletes" as it continues to intensify.

"Yesterday was a day that our guys enjoyed. It was good to see some of their faces (under their masks of course) and the feeling as if there were brighter days ahead. Then it switched, then it switched back," Duval said. "What I told them today was worry about what we can control. We can control where our head is at when things get started again. We will be locked in, ready to go."

Like thousands of high school players around the state, the Spartans are ready to make a name for themselves this season.

"Our guys want to be on the court so bad right now, we just talked about how the road to that may not be a smooth one. Can't get too up, or too down. Stay positive and hope for the best," Duval said. "I really hope our guys get a chance to play. They absolutely deserve this."

To the editor: Winter Wassail is seeking your help

Friends of St Joseph,

The Holidays are approaching, and the Church of Christ (SJCOC) needs some of your help for our 1st Annual "Winter Wassail Festival" on Friday December 4th. We're going to need to utilize some of the community parking that is a few blocks away from the Church located on Sherman Street.

We've tossed around the idea of using some of our community golf carts to help shuttle folks, especially the elderly, to and from those parking areas. The carts would need to first of all, be equipped with and licensed in compliance with the Village's rules. Also, they would need to be wiped down between uses (COVID safe) and it would be especially fun if they were decorated in a Christmas type theme with judging for the best "ride".

Right now, we are simply curious if anybody would be interested in volunteering for something like this.

The Festival will run from 4-9 pm, but you would not need to be asked to cover that entire time! We'd take whatever time you'd be available. And, obviously you would get free tickets to attend the event as well.

So, please reply if this is something you'd be interested in doing, and thanks! REPLY here, or PM me, or e-mail me at gordongilly1@gmail.com

Gordon Gilly
St. Joseph

Photo of the Day - October 28, 2020


St. Joseph-Ogden basketball players

SJO unloads on the Bullets

St. Joseph-Ogden basketball players (left to right) Jordan Kelly, Payton Cain, Chance Izard, Payton Grimsley and Braydon Rupert, are all smiles while riding the pine in the fourth quarter during their team's home game against Williamsville on January 7, 2020. After building a 43-14 third quarter lead, behind Izard's game-high 21 point performance, the seniors chilled after helping SJO cruised to a 50-22 win over the Bullets.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

It's on! Looks like prep basketball is finally a go in Illinois!

Earlier today the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors agreed to go forward with the 2020-21 basketball season. It will be up to each individual school to allow their basketball teams to participate as long as the programs following the guidelines developed by the IHSA Sport Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) the 120 year-old organization announced after a special meeting.

SJO head basketball coach Kiel Duval
Head coach Kiel Duval watches his squad in the Spartans home game against Williamsville earlier this year on January 7. The IHSA said it would go ahead with the winter basketball season despite the Illinois governor's statement yesterday nixing the season, at least putting it on hold until the infection level in the state is more manageable. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
"After diligent discussion, the Board has made the decision today to follow the recommendation of the IHSA SMAC as it relates to basketball," the IHSA said in a combined statement by board members. "The Board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally. On the contrary, the IHSA has been looking to bordering states who have sponsored both medium risk and high risk sports in the fall that have noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread."

Using the guidance provided by the SMAC, the Board will allow Boys and Girls Basketball to begin practices on November 16.

Both boys and girls teams can begin competitive play on November 30th within each of the designated Illinois Department of Public Health's COVID Regions or between member schools of a conference. Teams will be limited to just 31 games this season.

"I was pretty excited when I heard it," said returning varsity starter Ty Pence. The St. Joseph-Ogden sophomore received his first official college offer from Western Illinois University on Saturday. "I am ready to go out and see what my squad and I can do this season."

The 2019-20 Spartan basketball roster was bulging with ten seniors. It will be interesting to see how much the contingent matures this season.

"I think it is a great opportunity for us as a squad," Pence said. "We have a lot of young guys who have to prove themselves."

SJO head basketball coach Kiel Duval is also excited about the upcoming season, now that it looks like there will be one.

"We have a lot of young guys we need to see grow. You can see it taking place gradually now, but after practice and games there could be huge strides," he said. "High School is not a fun time for students right now. There are no athletic events to attend. No homecoming. Not seeing your friends everyday or in the capacity you usually do. This would be huge news for their spirits."

The move forward by the IHSA in the face of rising infections across the state and Governor JB Pritzker's declaration almost 24 hours earlier that put winter sports on an indefinite hold and moved basketball from a medium-risk sport to a higher-risk sport within the IDPH guidelines. Despite the rise in positive cases both locally and statewide in the past weekm and with their finances in jeopardy without the revenue from football and volleyball state finals this fall, the IHSA put its cards on the table hoping for the high hand.

"This would be great news for our kids if it actually happens. Our guys have put a lot into this," Duval said. "It has given them something to look forward to."

After the IHSA released their intentions, Governor Pritzker countered with a wildcard, looking at a possible flush, in enforcing his mandate.

"The school districts know what the rules are," he replied when queried about the plans to pursue winter competition. "It is unfortunate, but I think they would probably be taking on legal liability if they went ahead beyond what the state has set as the mitigation standard."

Photo of the Day - October 27, 2020

Kennedi Burnett & Jenna Albrecht

All in all, just another block for the wall

SJO seniors Jenna Albrecht and Kennedi Burnett form a defensive wall above the net during their team's home match against Hoopeston Area on September 16. The Spartans, who later finished third in the state at the Illinois Class 2A state finals, easily swept the Cornjerkers 25-5 in both sets.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


Illinoisians can expect to pay more in taxes next year

Illinois families can expect to pay more in state and local taxes next year according to an analysis by Illinois Policy Institute.

The expected $244 hike in state and local taxes does not even account for Illinois’ $150 increase in gas taxes and vehicle registration fees enacted by Pritzker last year.

"So long as state lawmakers refuse to consider constitutional pension and other spending reforms, Illinoisans will continuously be asked to pay more," Bryce Hill, Research Analyst for Illinois Policy, said. "The progressive tax is not about reducing taxes for the middle class; it’s about eliminating taxpayer protections from the state constitution and opening the door for a litany of new taxes."

The median Illinois family, earning about $87,771 annually, could expect to pay $106 more in state and local sales and excise taxes, plus $183 more in local property taxes – already the second-highest in the nation. The increase in state and local taxes would likely push the combined state and local tax burden above $10,600 for the median Illinois family.

With just one week until Election Day, new Illinois Policy Institute analysis shows any promised savings from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s progressive tax would be offset by the state’s increasing property and sales taxes. Experts found the typical Illinois family can expect to pay more in state and local taxes next year even with his "fair tax." The tax relief promised by Pritzker under the progressive tax would only reduce state income taxes by $45.

Even if Illinois families are able to take advantage of expanded child and property tax credits, the increased cost of owning a vehicle in Illinois plus the state and local tax hike could ultimately raise taxes by $314 for the average family.

"While the governor claims the progressive tax amendment is the ‘fair’ option for Illinois families to provide relief, Illinois’ structural spending reveals the major flaws in his argument. Even if Pritzker’s progressive tax provides some income tax savings to the typical Illinois family, that relief will be more than offset by the state’s increasing sales and property taxes."

Basketball recategorized by IDPH to high risk

Unity's Zebo Zebe
Unity's Zebo Zebe starts a spin move against an Orion defender during their game on January 5, 2008. The junior had a career night setting a new shoot-out single game scoring record with his game-high of 35 points. Zebe and the host Rockets fell in overtime to the Chargers 73-68 at the 2008 Unity Boys' Basketball Shoot-Out. Unfortunately, the 2020-21 basketball season will be on hold thanks to rising numbers of positive cases of the Coronavirus throughout the state. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Earlier today, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced that basketball has been moved into the high-risk category. The change in category puts into question the start of the already modified schedule of IHSA basketball this season.

"About 15 minutes prior to Governor Pritzker’s press conference today, we were alerted that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has elevated the sport of basketball from a medium risk level to a high risk level," said Craig Anderson, IHSA Executive Director in a statement forwarded to the media. "We remain considerate of the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases in our state. However, in our meeting with IDPH on Friday (October 23), we felt that we presented multiple options that would allow for basketball to be conducted safely by IHSA schools this winter, many of which are being utilized in neighboring states who plan to play high school basketball."

Anderson followed the news with perhaps good news for other IHSA sports.

"Despite that setback, there is some positive news, as IDPH accepted the IHSA’s mitigations related to other sports, including cheerleading and dance, allowing them to move from a medium risk level to a low risk level," he added. "We will hold our special Board of Directors meeting on October 28 as scheduled, where our Board will provide direction on the other winter sports, as well as discuss the IHSA sports schedule for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year."

The fate of basketball, along with wrestling, will be announced tomorrow.

Even if the season started on November 16 as planned, with the positivity rate nears or soars above Governor JB Pritzker's mitigation thresholds throughout the state, the season would likely be canceled in the face a second wave of COVID-19 infections around mid-December.

As the saying goes, "Heavy is the head that wears the crown."

During his press conference the Governor stated that his decision would not make people happy.

"We know that this virus is of most concern when people are indoors with high contact, especially in vigorous situations that bring about heavy breathing like in wrestling, hockey and basketball," Pritzker said. "Sports played at a distance like tennis can be played and sports that can be modified to have virtual elements, like dance for example, offer more leeway in this moment and the IDPH guidance reflects that."

The heart will take you places

By Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


Typically, the heart leads us and keeps us in various places throughout life.

Most of the time people marry because at that moment that's where their hearts have led them to be. For better or worse many people stay in marriages most of their lives because they have given their heart to their spouse.

We sometimes pursue careers because we have a heart for the vocation. There is something about the vocation that inspires and motivates us. Because our heart is in the work, we stay with the occupation. Success is more likely to occur where the heart is centered.

We become very competent with our hobbies because we love them so much. We enjoy musical instruments, baking, sewing, wood work, painting, fishing, sports and whatever your hobby might be. People are often ready to retire from their jobs because they have hobbies, they love more.


We love our freedom in America. Freedom to try. Freedom to fail. Freedom to try again.


The major emphasis of the greatest commandment is to love God with our hearts. Jesus knew no one would have any commitment to God without the full commitment of the heart.

The heart will take you places and keep you places where the mind would never consider. Too often what the mind will not consider the heart will not give up or waver from.

We often forget about the mind. Jesus told us to love God with our minds. Reason, commonsense, inquiry, thinking and education are all important. Sometimes the heart may cause us to be blind. We may love blindly. Stay with negative relationships that are destructive. Hang on to a job or career pursuit that ends up being negative, a dead end and a waste of time.

We have to involve our minds in our lives. Life cannot be lived merely by the heart. Heart will keep you someplace a long time. However, your mind will help you to decipher whether it's the right thing to do.

Americans are at the polls voting. Love for the country, ideas, political parties and candidates have Americans voting in masses.

While you may love the Democratic party or the Republican party or either candidate hopefully you are considering all the reasons why you are voting.

What do you want for America? Good paying jobs? More Government involvement in your life? The removal of guns from society? The freedom to have guns? Less police security? More police security?

More taxes? Less taxes? More jobs coming back to America? More jobs going back to China? Health care that pays for nothing? A better health care for every American? What about our freedom? Freedom of speech?

We love our freedom in America. Freedom to try. Freedom to fail. Freedom to try again. Freedom to succeed. Freedom to pursue owning a house, car and living an independent life. Maybe, you feel that every American should have the same, be the same and that the Government should take care of all us equally?

This election, think about it. Think about what you want for you and your grandchildren. Let your heart drive you to vote but put your mind into your voting.

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Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.

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This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of PhotoNews Media. We welcome comments and views from our readers.


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Photo of the Day - October 26, 2020


Dick Duval and SJO football advances to state title game

Next stop, Huskie Stadium

While players celebrate up and down the sideline, St. Joseph-Ogden head coach Dick Duval and his coaching staff - including now head coach Shawn Skinner, son Kiel Duval and Marshall Schacht - head midfield to shake the hands with the Greenville coaching staff after their Class 3A semifinal football game. The Spartans advanced to the division's title game after defeating the Comets 44-21 November 23 ,2013. Heading into the showdown with Stillman Valley, the high-powered SJO offense and hard-nosed defensive squad rolled forward with an eight-game wins streak behind them. Duval and the Spartans would go on to bring home the program's 5th state runner-up trophy after an epic, controversial battle and a heartbreaking 43-41 overtime loss to the Cardinals.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Third installment of holiday 5K held in St. Joseph goes virtual

While the Coronavirus pandemic has put the kibosh on a lot of events, it is not stopping Brenda Hixson from raising money for the St. Joseph Food Bank. The St. Joe Santa 5K will run on - online that is.

Proceeds from the race in past years was given to help support the local St. Joseph food bank pantry managed by the St. Joseph Methodist Church in partnership with the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

The race was originally started as collaboration of efforts between Hixson and fellow runner Max Painter to host a local holiday race and raise money for local charities. The event this year will benefit the St. Joe Feed the Need program, which is managed by the First United Methodist Church through the Eastern Illinois Food Bank. Feed the Need provides free food each month to anyone in the community.


Runners start out on the St. Joe Santa 5K course
Runners start their run during the Ho Ho Ho 5k, now called the St. Joe VIRTUAL Santa 5k Run/Walk Race, in 2018. As with thousands of established running events around the country, this year's race will be hosted virtually. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

A virtual race may not be ideal without spectators to cheer you on and fellow runners to push you to a better time, but there is one big advantage to running a virtual race in central Illinois.

This year's race directors point out the big draw to participating this year is that you can run when you want the whole month of December. "You can wait for a day when the weather is favorable!" which makes this option awesome so ensure you are not running on what could be the coldest day of the month.

The directors also hope runners will "get your family or group of friends together and have a fun run with photos along the way!"

The best part is racers will still receive the best holiday race swag of the season. This year's swag bag includes a Santa hat, Santa neck gaiter, a red long-sleeve Santa shirt and a race medal.

Runners can choose their route and take to the streets in their neighborhood, at their favorite park, or at any safe location of their choosing to run/walk/jog to start and finish their course during the month of December.

"You can chose to run anywhere!" said Hixson, who is once again one of the race directors. "Run in Mahomet; on a trail at Allerton or Meadowbrook; in Champaign; in St. Joe or wherever you chose. We want to see [runners in] every town in their Santa race swag all month long!"

She added: "Post your pictures!"

Race registration is now open online at St. Joe Santa 5K. Once registered, race swag can picked up in person or ordered via mail.

If you are interested in being a sponsor for the event and want to help support a wonderful program in the community, business owners or individuals are asked to contact the race directors at 5ksantarun@gmail.com.


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Holiday kick-off at Mercantile Antiques & Trading this weekend

Mercantile Antiques & Trading Co. and Debbie Calvo will host a Holiday Kick-off this Friday and Saturday at 302 Northgate Dr. in St. Joseph to give area shoppers a "jumpstart" on their holiday shopping.

"The shop will be bursting with holiday cheer and needful things," says the announcement on Facebook. "We will have pop up shops, live music, slushie tastings and fresh baked goods in addition to our already fabulous in house booth dealers."

There will be live music Friday evening from 5-7p and again on mid-afternoon on Saturday for visitors while they browse various booths filled with collectables and antiques.

Shoppers can pre-order baked goods the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday from the Central Illinois Bakehouse at the store. The Holiday Kick-off will have Harvest Bread, Cranberry Walnut Bread, Brownies, Scones and Almond Croissants on-hand to take home.

For those with a holiday sweet tooth, locally made peanut brittle and carmels from Miss Ellie’s Caramels will also be on sale.

Woodard leads Rockets to regional cross country title, SJO 4th

Unity's Erica Woodard crossed the finish line at the St. Teresa regional at 18:21 good for fourth place overall in a field of 89 runners. The Rockets' rising star was followed in by five teammates all finishing in top 15 places to secure the postseason title at Hickory Point Golf Course on Saturday.

Just 27 seconds over her best time in her short prep career on Saturday, Woodard turned in the best time of her prep career back on September 19 at Darcy Trails for the Shelbyville-Marshall-Unity triangle meet.

Caelyn Kleparski, Taylor Joop and Olivia Shike clocked in within a 16 second period 8-9-10, respectively, for 24 points. Malia Fairbanks rounded out the top five Rocket runners 13th overall at 19:33.9. Unity finished with a meet best of 40 points.

Unity along with St. Joseph-Ogden, who finished in fourth place with 104 points, advance to next Saturday's sectional meet to run on the same course.

The Spartans were led by junior Ava Knap and her season best time of 19.33.3.

Crusing in behind Knap for the Spartans was Helene Jones. A freshman, Jones went out for cross country when the fall volleyball season was put on-hold due to restrictions by the state in the effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Setting a new PR of 19:36.0, the first-time harrier shaved nearly three minutes off her initial three-mile time of 22:14.

Later, 22 minutes and 37 seconds after her race started Chloe Burkhalter was followed in by teammates Malorie Sarnecki and Ashlyn Lannert to pick up needed points to extend the Spartans' running season one more week.

Regional Results:
4. Erica Woodard (Unity) 18:21.0
8. Caelyn Kleparski (Unity) 19:13.8
9. Taylor Joop (Unity) 19:15.3
10. Olivia Shike (Unity) 19:29.4
12. Ava Knap (SJO) 19:33.3
13. Malia Fairbanks (Unity) 19:33.9
14. Helene Jones (SJO) 19:36.0
15. Elizabeth Hulick (Unity) 19:43.0
18. Caroline Bachert (Unity) 20:03.8
25. Chloe Burkhalter (SJO) 20:37.6
28. Malorie Sarnecki (SJO) 20:52.3
30. Ashlyn Lannert (SJO) 20:57.5
34. Kailyn Ingram (SJO) 21:02.6
38. Addie Allen (SJO) 21:16.9

Photo of the Day - October 25, 2020

SJO quarterback Eli Oltean

Oltean on target

St. Joseph-Ogden quarterback Eli Oltean tosses a quick pass to a receiver during his team's home game against Monmouth-Roseville on September 12. Oltean, who threw three TD passes in 18 attempts on 28, 26 and 1-yard plays, finished the day with 109 passing yards in SJO's 42-8 non-conference win. He would go on to lead the Spartans to undefeated regular season and 12-1 record in 2015.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

 


Area runners qualify for boys cross country sectional

Sixteen area high school runners qualified to compete at the IHSA St. Teresa cross country section next Saturday.

With no state meet this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, eight members from both Unity and St. Joseph-Ogden will run for a chance to bring home this year's highest award in cross county next week.

Representing the Rockets, who finished in fouth place at the regional meet, are seniors Jarrett Cox, Ben Gavel and Connor O'Donnell along with juniors Nolan Miller, Clayton Jamison and Thomas Cler. The upperclassmen are supported by sophomore Brendan Graven and freshman Bryson Denny.

Finishing above Unity in the final team standings, the St. Joseph-Ogden boys squad was just 7 points away from bringing home the regional title. Helping SJO to a second place finish and advance were Ethan Blackburn, Charlie Mabry, Carson Maroon Brandon Mattsey, Elijah Mock, Luke Stegall, Spencer Wilson and Logan Wolfersberger.

Regional Results:
5. Brandon Mattsey (SJO) 16:00.6
8. Charlie Mabry (SJO) 16:11.6
10. Carson Maroon (SJO) 16:19.9
11. Elijah Mock (SJO) 16:37.6
14. Connor O'Donnell (Unity) 16:39.7
16. Logan Wolfersberger (SJO) 16:40.6
17. Ben Gavel (Unity) 16:44.0
19. Jarrett Cox (Unity) 16:45.8
24. Luke Stegall (SJO) 17:06.0
27. Clayton Jamison (Unity) 17:14.3
29. Spencer Wilson (SJO) 17:19.7
30. Thomas Cler (Unity) 17:21.0
39. Bryson Denny (Unity) 17:54.6
40. Brendan Graven (Unity) 17:58.9


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