Photo of the Day - December 12, 2020

St. Joseph-Ogden's JC Ducey dives over the Mattoon catcher Lyle Seaman in a spectacular to finish their 2-1/2 hour exhibition game on May 9, 2007. Ducey was called out on the play at home in the final play of the game at home plate. The Green Wave beat the Spartans 8-2 in their non-conference meeting at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Editorial: Let's open restaurants, here's how we get it done

Open restaurants
Hundreds of Illinois restaurant owners struggling to stay afloat around the state are willfully defying state laws and ordinances to stay in business amid pandemic mitigation guidance from Governor J.B. Pritzker. On November 4, the governor banned indoor dining and drinking, as well as put caps on the number of customers in stores and limits on gatherings to 10 or fewer people hoping to curb growing number of COVID-19 cases around the state. While customers are not allowed to enjoy a meal inside the establishment, the state did not prohibit carryout and delivery service.

For a number of businesses in the food service industry already in delicate financial straits, which could have been avoided with a coordinated nationwide mitigation plan similar to New Zealand and Australia, without indoor dining their livelihood and sweat equity may evaporate into thin air.

Some businesses, like the FoxFire Restaurant in Geneva, sought relief in the courts after they were forced to closed and its food handling licenses pulled by the local public health department. In a friendly circuit court, FoxFire was granted a temporary restraining order by Kane County Judge Kevin Busch on October 26 because, in his opinion, Governor Pritzker had violated state law exceeding his legal power to issue an emergency order for a period longer than 30 days.

Later, on November 5, the 2nd District Appellate Court overruled a Kane County judge’s decision. In the reversal, the appellate court noted "that nothing in (the Emergency Management Agency Act’s) language precludes the governor from issuing multiple disaster proclamations — each with its own 30-day grant of emergency powers — arising from one ongoing disaster." Fortunately, for restaurants the appellate court’s order was issued under Supreme Court Rule 23, which says reversal cannot be cited as precedent in other cases, except within a limited scope. The appellate court's decision only applies to this case.

It has been an either-or proposition by restaurateurs and by the state with neither side willing to go to the table and find middle ground. The state and expert epidemiologists say bars and food establishments is strong vector for the spread of the Coronavirus while business owners say their are being unfairly targeted. There is middle ground, and for small businesses to survive the pandemic both sides need to seek compromise.

The state is in a position to let bars and restaurants operate normally again. Well, almost.

We propose the General Assembly or the governor, by way of executive order, reward restaurants that follow the state's public health directives and remain closed to indoor seating with a sales tax exemption until the state or region returns to 100% occupancy. Customers will be billed a convenience fee, retained by the business, equal to what would have been the normal sales tax on the order. Any business that backslides and allows an occassional guest or party to eat in their establishment loses their exemption for 30 days.

Furthermore, restaurants want to open for indoor dining be open at 100% capacity can go right ahead. Yes, there's a pandemic going on, we know but hear this out. Here's how it would work:

The Illinois Department of Public would issue food establishments offering indoor dining would post a green dot to be posted on the door or a window near the front entrance for recoverees to easily identify. Restaurants would collect and remit an additional 5% in sales tax to supplement tax revenue from mitigation compliant owners. Customers who tested positive for Coronavirus and recovered or have received vaccine treatment would be allow to utilize dine-in services by displaying their CV19 card, which would certify they were infected, quarantined and recovered from the COVID-19 virus.

CV19 cards could be state IDs with a green or orange background issued by the Secretary of State with confirmation of infection from the hospital where they were tested and treated or a confirmation of vaccination. In Champaign County that would make just over 12 thousand people eligible to eat in participating bars and restaurants along with another 832 thousand residents from around the state. There are nearly one thousand new cases each week in Champaign County alone. Oh, no card? No indoor service.

Our plan is an obvious win-win-win-win.

Restaurants and bars that want to stay open can remain open with no restrictions other than the CV19 card, offer full service and keep employees working. As a quasi-consolation prize, individuals who were infected and since recovered can enjoy a sit-down meal at their favorite particpating restaurant or spend hours on the dance floor. The state benefits from the tax revenue during the mitigation period while businesses following public health mandates are rewarded keeping their communities just a bit safer.

Really? Was that so hard?

Six reasons to learn another language

By Clark Brooks

There are several reasons for learning a second, third or even fourth language. In Europe, with smaller nations and nearly unrestricted travel between them, it is not uncommon for residents to pick up another language or two and be able to communicate effectively. Nearly every country in Europe requires students as young as six to learn a foreign language, usually English, according to The Pew Research Center.

Generally speaking, most high schools in the America offer foreign language classes, but only 15% of our country's elementary schools do the same. Except as a college requirement, there is not national US mandate like in Europe to acquire second language ability.

Sadly, less than one percent of American adults who studied a foreign language are remotely capable of carrying a conversation in that language. It isn't because Americans are dumber - although some might dispute that after the last two presidential election cycles - or less capable, but because the educational system's approach is fundamentally flawed, which is a topic for another time.

I gutted out three years of Spanish in high school and now some 40 years later, I am admittedly not in that one-percent club. I can order a beer in Español and ask where is the nearest bathroom, mostly in that order because that's just how life works. I have always held mad respect for anyone who can speak two or more languages fluently.

While caring for a relative who was suffering Alzheimer's and assessing my own risk in the next 20 or so years, I learned research has shown that people who are bi-or multilingual experience a delay in the onset of symptoms from dementia by 4-5 years when compared with monolingual patients. Why didn't they know that information back when I was struggling in Señor Kruzan's junior-year Spanish class?

Despite incredible resistance to the endeavor and the insistence everyone within our borders speak American, there are dozens of reasons to learn to speak one or more languages. Regardless of whether you want to slow the degeneration of your cognitive ability or want to increase your upward career mobility, here are six practical reasons to learn a new language that make absolute sense.

1. Learning another language stalls the onset of Alzheimer’s & dementia.
While there is no absolute guarantee, multiple studies suggest that degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia advance at a much slower pace than those how are multilingual. In one published study researchers found a small but significant protection for people who speak more than two languages. However, no significant benefit was seen in those who were bilingual.

2. Learning another language opens opportunities in high paying careers
If you can speak and read in one or more languages in addition to English, there are endless exciting opportunities in government service sector, law enforcement and the military. A woman I know has the perfect pandemic job. She charges $40 an hour tutoring high school and college students in Spanish.

3. Speaking a second or third language comes handy when you want to have a discreet conversation
You are having a great time at Barraca, a dance club in Valencia, Spain, when you meet the next Mr. or Mrs Right - or at least Right Now - and you need to fly solo. No better way to tell them to drop back or peel off than in another language. Oh, and there is no better way to share your displeasure on your boss' latest silly workplace edict with co-workers know or studying the same language.

Friend 4. Make new friends from around the world
Learning to communicate in other languages opens the door to meeting interesting people from other parts of the world and forging future personal and business relationships. Best of all when you visiting their city or country, you'll get the inside scoop on where to go and what to do off the well-worn tourist paths for a unique, memorable trip.

5. Improve your memory & cognitive performance
Studies have shown bilingual people have better working memories, superior speed when switching between different tasks and have an easier time learning new things. Like doing bicep curls to build strength, learning a new language strengthens brain functions.

6. Learning a new language is fun
Learning to speak another language is fun, just not so much in a high school and college setting. Unfortunately, both the methodology and process used by the educational system in the US is whacked. What's fun about speaking another language? It's anything from ordering food in that language to the look on the faces of native speakers when they realize you speak their language pretty well. It's moments watching movies and TV shows when you realize you don't need subtitles.

Photo of the Day - December 11, 2020

Students from St. Joseph-Ogden High School cheer for their volleyball team during Game 1 of their championship semifinal match against Breese Mater Dei on November 15, 2019. The Spartans, who went to eventually place third, fell 25-20, 23-25, 25-22 to Knights in the program's third trip to the Illinois High School Association state tournament. Pictured left to right in the Maroon Platoon are seniors Jordan Kelly, Bailey Dowling, Payton Cain and Drew Coursey. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Photo of the Day - December 10, 2020

Blaize Cumbow, Zach Becker, Tyler Johnson, Jake Firkins

Five-peat! Spartans win Leader Classic title

Blaize Cumbow, Zach Becker, Tyler Johnson, Jake Firkins and the St. Joseph-Ogden basketball team hoist the 19th Annual Leader Classic basketball tournament championship plaque on December 23, 2007. The Spartans held on to defeat the Monticello Sages in Saturday's title game 60-54 at St. Joseph-Ogden High School. (Photo: PhotoNews/Clark Brooks)

SJO senior organizing a holiday parade for Dec. 19

After taking part in the Sidney's Parade of Lights on December 5, Audrey Short thought it would be nice to have one closer to home in St. Joseph.

Mourning the loss of her classmate Nadiriah Edwards, who died from her injuries sustained in a tragic traffic accident north of the village days earlier, the St. Joseph-Ogden senior, like many others in the community, wanted to help the Edwards family. What better way to put the fun in fundraising than to have a St. Joseph parade with decorated golf carts, floats and vehicles making its way through town. Short posed the question on a Facebook, asking for a $5 donation that would go to the Edwards.

The response to inquiry was overwhelming enthusiastic and it didn't take long for Short's idea grow. Within hours the event planned for the December 19th had an impressive level of support from members of the Facebook group.

"The responses have been phenomenal! I love seeing how many people want to be involved in an event that has been planned with such short notice," Short said. "I’m ready for it to be December 19th! I’m so excited to see how everyone will decorate!

"I hope everyone has a good time," she added.

The parade route will start at the Middle School and entries can start lining up at 4:30pm for the 5:30 start.

"Get there early if you want to be in the front," Short said. "We will start rolling out at 5:30pm. Don’t forget your minimum entry fee of $5, there will be someone collecting it as you leave the middle school. We will also have two different vehicles collecting donations from others that are watching the parade"

The parade travel to Main Street and head north to Grand Avenue. Turning east, the procession will head to the St. Joseph Community Park. Short said she can be contacted by text or via messenger on Facebook if any one has any questions.

Organizing an event like this is a pretty impressive undertaking for a high school student. Short hopes the donations collected from participant entries and spectators along the route will help Nadiriah's family through the difficult days and months ahead.

"I didn’t know her that well but I had gone to school with her my entire life," said Short, who has committed to play softball at Spoon River College next fall. "We had multiple classes together and had been partners for various projects. She was such a sweet person to be around."

Photo of the Day - December 9, 2020

John Heap and Jeff Reese

Good buddies in blue

Officials John Heap (right), of Rantoul, and Jeff Reese, from St. Joseph, share a few comments between innings during SJO's home softball game against Rantoul in 2004. Reese, who passed away in July of 2018, was a patched IHSA football official for 49 years as well as a softball official for 30. During his career he served as president of the Champaign Officials Association. Reese worked as a softball official for two state championships (2008, 2012) and was inducted into the Illinois Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Heap, a veteran official and also a member of the ICA Hall of Fame, was a regular figure at area basketball, baseball and volleyball games in addition to softball. He worked the IHSA state softball finals (2000, 2002) and was an officer for 12 years in the Champaign Officials Association.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Commentary: Removing Madigan won't solve Illinois' problems


by Joe Tabor, Senior Policy Analyst
Illinois Policy


The feds are circling Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan in a bribery investigation involving utility giant ComEd. His allies are facing indictments. Members of his party are publicly demanding his ouster as party chair, and they have the votes to deny him another term as House speaker.

It’s tempting to think just overthrowing Madigan will clean up the mess.

But ousting Madigan won’t eliminate Illinois’ ethics problems or disperse power so the state again has representational government. Illinois leaders must throw out the corrupt system Madigan has built over decades.

Three years ago, Madigan celebrated his record as the longest-serving state House speaker in U.S. history. Today, it looks as if his grip on power is slipping. As of this writing, 19 state representatives have publicly opposed Madigan’s re-election this January. But these lawmakers won’t just be voting on Madigan: they’ll also vote to adopt the House Rules, which help determine how much control the speaker has over the legislative process. These rules, coupled with the lack of safeguards against this steady accumulation of power, have led Madigan to where he is today. Without change, a shrewd politician could simply pick up where Madigan left off.

The House Rules establish how business gets done in the legislature. These rules let the speaker decide which bills get a fair hearing and which quietly die. They allow the speaker to select which politicians receive generous stipends as committee chairs. They allow politicians to gut and replace bills to rush through legislation – such as all 1,581 pages of the $40.6 billion fiscal year 2020 budget, originally a single-sentence bill appropriating just $2.

And, contrary to the Illinois Senate, which sets term limits of the Senate president at 10 years, the House Rules do not limit the number of terms a speaker can hold. Terms as speaker should be limited to prevent another Madigan.

This January, state representatives should reject the current House Rules. They can and should be amended.

But change can’t end there. Illinois needs to reform the way it draws political maps. Every 10 years, Illinois is required to redraw voting districts to adjust for shifts in population. But redistricting in Illinois has been used to keep incumbents in power. Earlier this month, 63 candidates ran unopposed for legislative office, including a whopping 52 of the 118 seats in the Illinois House of Representatives. This result is entirely predictable: Illinois legislators are responsible for voting on the map, so of course they will do what they can to benefit themselves. And Madigan’s bid for a new term has centered on his argument that he has the power to deliver another map that keeps his people from facing opponents.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Illinois could join the 17 other states that put independent commissions or other bodies in charge of redistricting – not lawmakers. Voters should choose their elected officials, not the other way around.

There needs to be more transparency and accountability in Springfield. Sitting lawmakers should not be able to lobby local governments or state executive agencies, and they should have a “cooling off” period after leaving the General Assembly before they lobby their former peers, as is the case in most other states. Lawmakers need to provide more detailed financial disclosures and should have to recuse themselves from voting on legislation in which they have a conflict of interest. Finally, the legislative inspector general needs the authority to open investigations and publish findings of wrongdoing without obtaining permission from lawmakers on the Legislative Ethics Commission, who have a propensity to cover for their own.

Madigan may be down, but he’s not out. Whether he can win back enough votes to get a 19th term as speaker remains to be seen, but Illinoisans deserve ethics reform no matter what. Changing the House Rules, adopting fair maps and instituting ethics reforms would begin unraveling Madigan’s web of corruption.


Joe Tabor is a senior policy analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization that promotes responsible government and free market principles.

Ogden business offers new diagnostic service for trucks

Ogden Business News Rick Tractor Services
Rick's Tractor Services, located at 407 S. Market in Ogden, now offers vehicle diagnosis services for pickup trucks and semis.

"We have purchased the latest computer diagnosis program. We now have the ability to read the vehicle ECM and troubleshoot," says owner Rick Buckley, who started the business in 2000, in a recent announcement on Facebook. "We can also change parameters, such as speed, cruise control settings, and more."

ECMs, or electronic control modules, are miniature computers with dozens of sensors units installed in late model cars and trucks that control and report on essential engine functions such as electrical systems, emissions, ignition timing and fuel economy.

The new service is a welcomed addition to the business which also repairs brakes, offers oil change and lube services and battery replacement.

Open 8am to 4:30pm, Tuesday through Saturday, call 217-202-0715 for more information or to schedule an appointment.


Photo of the Day - December 8, 2020

Unity defense yields win over SJO

Unity's Ana Deters [right] and Dani Gooch trap St. Joseph-Ogden's Brittani Master at the half court line during their non-confernce basketball game on December 2, 2008. The Rockets defeated St. Joseph-Ogden at home, 44-38. [Photo: PhotoNews/Clark Brooks]

On the fence about getting vaccinated? You might not have a choice

With at least two Coronavirus vaccines available on the near horizon, many Americans may face a new dilemma in the way of a mandated Coronavirus vaccination.

Just as in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, General Chang asks, "To be or not to be? That is the question which preoccupies our people...", to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is the question that will occupy the minds of millions of Americans, especially those who feel the process to create and supply the COVID-19 to the population was too hurried or those who feel their personal liberty will be infringed upon if mandated by the government to take it.

Unlike Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam, all countries that have successfully lowered their Coronavirus positivity rates without the need of a pharmaceutical solution, the United States and European nations are banking on vaccinating most of the population in order to attain herd immunity. According to experts, the U.S. will need about 70% of the population vaccinated in order to effectively put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Gallup poll completed between October 19 and November 1, 58% of Americans who responded said they would be vaccinated before Moderna and Pfizer released their preliminary results. The survey suggested that about four in 10 respondents to the most recent survey said they would not.

The Gallup results were nearly identical to The Sentinel's online poll where 38% of the respondents said would not be vaccinated as well. Polls completed by PEW also reflect the same level enthusiasm.

Fortunately for politicians, they will not have to create and vote on legislation that could endanger their political careers. Instead, the government can get the job done by proxy through the workforce.

In most cases, employers can, and most likely will in the months ahead, legally require employees to vaccinated as a condition of employment. Spearheaded by brick-and-mortar business and educational institutions, who desperately want to return to pre-pandemic profitability, an immunized workforce is paramount to make up for losses over the past nine months, to protect employees' and customers' health, reduce the likelihood of transmission on the job and a return to normalcy.

There might be a little wiggle room for those adamant about not getting a shot or two according to Michael LeRoy, an expert in labor law and labor relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

"This area holds some possibilities for vaccine objectors," he told the University of Illinois News Bureau. "However, it’s not as simple as saying, “I won’t vaccinate because of my religion.” The burden of proof is on the employee to show how their religious belief is violated."

The conundrum ahead is similar to that of Hamlet, who at the beginning of Act 3 of the Shakespearean play, contemplated death while lamenting over the suffering and unfairness of life.

"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep;"

Could being unvaccinated be a far more unpleasant choice?

Photo of the Day - December 7, 2020

Growing into greatness

Champaign Dream's Kohlten Johnson, of St. Joseph, winds up for a pitch at the First Pitch Father's Day Hardball Tournament Saturday on June 14 in 2008. He and the 9-and-Under traveling baseball team went down swinging losing to Steffen Heating and Air Conditioning, 19-2. Eight years later, Johnson grew into a 6-foot-1, 170-pound, right-handed Spartan hitter that help the program to its first IHSA Baseball State Finals in 2016. He was also a member the St. Joseph-Ogden basketball team that brought home a Class 2A state title months earlier in March.

[Photo: PhotoNews/Clark Brooks]

Guest Commentary: The best part of Christmas is everyone coming together

By Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


Christmas has different beginning times for most everyone.

For some it's when you put up the Christmas tree and decorations. For others it's when you wrap some presents and put them under the tree. While for others it's about the Christmas music. When they first start hearing Christmas songs on the radio then Christmas has begun for them.

Christmas may begin for you when your family arrives home to share in your celebration. Or your Christmas celebration may really begin when your family finally leaves.

When I was a child Christmas started for me when everything came together. The big fresh tree was hewn down from the hillside. Once it was decorated, I started watching for Santa. But it still was 't Christmas until I came up with a big package of firecrackers, cherry bombs and other noisy fireworks. I always loved putting firecrackers and cherry bombs under cans to see how far they would fly through the air.

My mother would make cookies, cakes and pies. My dad would always buy a big box of apples and oranges. It seems like they lasted a week.

Christmas really began when family came home. When we all got together that's when it seemed Christmas really started. The excitement came by us all being together. Sharing gifts was fun and provided moments of laughter. Eating my mother's delicious meal was always a stable holiday treat we always enjoyed.

The best past part was everyone being together for a couple of days. With social distancing, this may be one element of Christmas that many will not get to enjoy in 2020.

So many thousands of people have died from Covid-19 and they will be missed at the Christmas table. If this is you please cling to the hope of life beyond this world and that you will see your loved one again.

I believe throughout our planet that seeing our sick friends get well would make Christmas for all of us.

Christmas is different this year. We must enter Christmas this year with hope. You have to have hope to live. Life without hope is like a car with no fuel. A vaccine for Covid-19 is coming. We are praying this will spare lives in 2021. We have hope that by next Christmas we can all get together and celebrate.

Keep in mind there has never been anything normal about Christmas. Mary and Joseph and the baby spent their first Christmas in a barn which was like a cave for animals. The baby was laid in a cow's trough for a bed. Christmas always has the potential of being very different.

Remember Christmas is in your heart and that's where your main celebration and hope lie. May hope and Christmas be bright and rekindled anew and afresh.

May you within your spirit hear the bells on Christmas day. And, may you hear the angels sing, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to all men on whom his favor rests."

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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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St. Joseph resident creates fund to help front-line, essential workers

A St. Joseph resident is on a mission to help others. Kelly Miller-Skinner, owner of Soul Care Urban Retreat Center in Urbana, has created a Pay It Forward Grant campaign on GoFundMe. Her goal is to raise at least $2,500 that will allow front line workers to spend to spend an hour in quiet rest or attend programs about spiritual wellness practices.

"I don't know about you, but during these last nine months, there have been numerous people who have helped me and my family and made sure that we have managed through this challenging time," Miller wrote in a post on Facebook. "All these folks pouring out of themselves day after day without hesitation. But they also have loads of extra stress and anxiety. And they don’t always have the money to do something to take care of themselves. They always put others first."

So far, donors have contributed $205 toward Miller-Skinner fundraising effort that will benefit educators, first responders, healthcare workers, civil servants, pastors and ministers, social workers, counselors and mental health providers, retail and restaurant workers.

"All these people are pouring out of themselves day after day without hesitation," she said. "Won’t you pay it forward by making a contribution?"

For more information contact Miller-Skinner at Soul Care Urban Retreat Center by phone at (217) 996-1752 or by email at info@soulcareexperience.com. Donations can be made online with GoFundMe at Pay It Forward Grants.

Photo of the Day - December 6, 2020

Matt Foreman, Mitchell Blair and Ryan Barnes hold championship plaque

Spartans win Leader Classic Title

St. Joseph-Ogden seniors Matt Foreman, Mitch Blair and Ryan Barnes hold the 2005 Leader Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament team award in 2005. The Spartans posted its third consecutive title after defeating Monticello at the annual basketball tournament sponsored by the weekly print newspaper published and owned by St. Joseph resident Scott Hunter. The name of the tournament changed after The News-Gazette, who purchased The Leader from Hunter, shuttered at the end of August in 2018. Not wanting to see the tournament's run end, Toyota of Danville stepped up to become the title sponsor. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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