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It's out of here!

SJO's Kennedy Hudson crushes home run
St. Joseph-Ogden's Kennedy Hudson watches the ball she put in play fly out to left field on Saturday during the Spartans' home softball game against Salt Fork. Hudson's ball was good for a two-run homer to put SJO up 7-4 in the bottom of 6th inning. The Storm rallied back to get within one run of putting the game into extra innings before fally 7-6 in the non-conference contest. Hudson finished the game with a hit and 2 the pair of RBIs.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Tolono village-wide garage sale May 14-15

May 14 and 15
362 County Road 1200 East
Boys and girls clothes, junior clothing, Fisher Price Power Wheel Jeep, dishes, Tupperware and Hallmark ornaments.

May 14 and 15
801 E. Boone
Concrete tools, lumber and miscellaneous household items.

May 14-15
802 E. Boone
Anything you need for a BABY. Swing, sleepers, carseat covers, socks, girl 6m-12m & 7-10, womens clothing, tools, home decore and more.
May 14 & 15 starting at 8am
201 North Condit
HUGE STAMPIN UP SALE. 100+ stamp sets, dies, designer paper, ink, punches, punch boards, etc. Supplies to make Cheer Bows (or just big hair bows), fabric all kinds, Norwex and more. Sale will be at the side drive on Holden.

May 15, 8am-2pm
408 South Bourne
Many household items and decorations/ women’s, juniors and men’s name brand clothing/ women’s shoes size 7, 7.5 and 8/ children’s clothing size 3T and 4T/ Mary Kay make up and some other cosmetics/ small TV stand/ three end tables/ stained quarter round/ flooring-ceramic tiles and much more!

May 14, 7:30am to noon
504 Deerpath
Women and Boys Clothing size Medium & Large. Also lots of household items.

From the editor: This page will be continually updated with new listings as The Sentinel receive them until 2pm on Thursday, May 13. Check back for new sale locations and available items.

Prep Sports Notebook: Softball and baseball teams notch wins

Alyssa Acton hits a foul ball against Olympia

Alyssa Acton hits a foul ball during SJO home game against Olympia. Today, in the Spartans' road game at Rantoul, the sophomore had 3 hits including a home run and 4 RBIs.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
Spartans pick up 10th win of the season
Alyssa Acton put a shot over the fence in the fifth inning for a two-run homer to increase the St. Joseph-Ogden softball team's commanding lead over Rantoul, 11-4. In the next frame, Shayne Immke drilled a three-run, inside-the-park home run in the Illini Prairie Conference duel to put the Spartans up, 16-4.

Any hopes of an Eagles comeback was extinquished 1-2-3 by Acton, who was throwing heat from the circle. In her five-inning appearance, the sophomore slugger averaged just 12 pitches per frame to help the SJO pick up their 10th win of the season.

Emily Curtis, who gave up a pair of home runs and a double on 13 hits, earned the loss for the Eagles.

It was another superb outing also for Kelsey Martlage, who went 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs, Immke with 2 hits and 3 RBIs and Maggie Ward (2-for-3) with two of the team's 11 stolen bases and a pair of RBIs.

Unity shuts out IPC foe
Every Unity batter that stepped in the box in today's home game today against Pontiac booked at least one hit in win #8 for the Rockets after handing the visiting Indians a 9-0 shutout.

Pitcher Taylor Henry, now 4-0 overall for the season, struck out 14.

The Rockets enjoyed back-to-back solo home runs in the bottom of the third, first from freshman Ruby Tarr, who went 2-for-4 on the day, and then from Henry, the next batter in the lineup, on a 3-1 count.

Madeline Reed and Gracie Renfrow hit a double during one of their three trips to the plate. Reed scored twice and contributed an RBI. Renfrow's offensive contribution included a pair of runs and 2 hits. Elise Swanstrom hit a triple and put two runs over the plate.

Unity improves to 3-0 in conference play. Next up, the Rockets take on IVC at home on Saturday with the first game of the twin bill starting at noon.

Spartan baseball team rebounds
It is hard to keep a good team down.

After dropping a disappointing heartbreaker to Maroa-Forsyth one day earlier, the St. Joseph-Ogden baseball team picked up their 13th victory of the season after beating Rantoul 8-7 on the road this afternoon.

Down 7-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning, SJO rallied back scoring five runs in the last two innings of the game for the win.

The key moment came on a one-out sacrifice fly ball from Andrew Beyers's in the top of the six that allowed senior Crayton Burnett to cross the plate from third for the go-ahead run.

The Spartans relied on three pitchers to get through their toughest conference game so far this season. Connor Hale was on the bump for two innings, Griffin Roesch saw action for just over an inning and Avian Gerdes three complete innings. The trio tossed 157 pitches and combined for nine strikeouts.

Hayden Brazelton and Isaiah Immke had two hits apiece. Ty Pence, Crayton Burnett and Keaton Nolan scored two times each for SJO.

Create lasting keepsakes for Mother's Day

StatePoint Media-- In today’s world, intimacy can sometimes be sacrificed for immediacy. We often send texts or emails to family and friends rather than hand writing letters, cards or notes.

However, handwritten notes are a beautiful way to capture meaningful moments and create something tangible that goes beyond the digital. In the past, writing by hand was an integral part of daily life -- letters were written to soldiers overseas, travel journals and diaries were kept, and cards were sent to celebrate birthdays. Today, we have to be much more intentional about crafting these handmade mementos.

This year for Mother’s Day, get inspired by the art of handwritten communication and celebrate Mom with one of these lasting keepsakes:

Tap into Nostalgia: Does your mom still have your kindergarten macaroni art or hand-drawn valentines lovingly tucked away in a drawer? Take her for a sweet trip down memory lane by compiling a scrapbook or memory box of your childhood masterpieces. Make sure to include a handwritten note from the present day for a heartfelt finishing touch.

Feed Mom’s Soul: Preparing food and sharing meals is one of the most common ways families connect. If your mom has a collection of handwritten recipe cards, consider binding them into a cookbook, complete with a title page inscription from her favorite kitchen helper (you!). Not only will it make her feel like an accomplished chef, it’ll preserve these treasured treats for the next generation of kids and grandkids to enjoy.

Capture the Everyday: The first step to preserving treasured memories is to record them. Gift your mom some stunning stationery, a sturdy leather-bound journal or even high-quality card stock and encourage her to do some writing of her own. Journaling is proven to be an effective tool for relaxation and self-reflection. For moms who give so much of themselves to their families, a lovely journal might be a welcome invitation to spend some much-needed time with herself. Pair your gift with a smooth-writing, long-lasting gel ink pen, like the G2 from Pilot, to ensure Mom’s words flow as effortlessly as her love.

Give Mom the Ultimate Upgrade: Complete Mom’s gift and make sure she’s ready for any writing task with a Decimo fountain pen. The slimmer barreled cousin to Pilot’s classic Vanishing Point fountain pen features a unique, retractable design and a rhodium plated 18K gold writing nib that is as durable as it is sophisticated.

However you celebrate Mom this year, be sure to skip the e-card and handwrite something from the heart, instead.

By embracing the art of the written word, you can create lifelong memories and treasured heirlooms this Mother’s Day.

Pix & Six | 6 questions with Unity's Tyler Hensch

Unity pitcher Tyler Hensch

While the girls' softball team was wrapping up their non-conference win over visiting Westville a week ago this past Tuesday, the Sentinel caught up with three-sport Rocket athlete Tyler Hensch. The junior, who also plays football and basketball, was on the mound for his team's opening game against Hoopeston Area. He pitched five innings for Unity, giving up one hit and one run while striking out seven batters.

We fired six random questions at him and here's how he responded.

Sentinel: What is your dream job?
Hensch: A pilot for the Navy.

Sentinel: Name three people you would spend a month long vacation with?
Hensch: Mariano Rivera, Jeff Bezos, and Derek Jeter.

Sentinel: What movie or TV show best describes your life right now?
Hensch: Friends.

Sentinel: Name one thing you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
Hensch: "Work ethic is everything".

Sentinel: You just inherited a million dollars. What would you would buy first?
Hensch: I would buy a sports car - a Ford GT350.

Sentinel: Name your favorite place to eat?
Hensch: Chick-fil-A.

Above: Putting wood on leather, Tyler Hensch puts the ball in play for the Rockets during the team's first home game of the season on their new turf field. At the top: Hensch hurls a pitch against Hoopeston Area during the second inning. (Photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Celebrate Mother's Day and the memories now and in the future

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

Plan your telephone call to say hello to mom this Sunday. Better yet, if possible, make a visit with a card or even some flowers or maybe some brownies or a special treat.

Moms deserve to be treated special. Take her out to lunch or dinner if possible. It doesn’t have to be Sunday, maybe Saturday would work better. Tell mom what she means to you. Let her know that you love her and that you give thanks for all she has done for you. Let her know she was a good mother and that you are grateful for everything. Moms need to hear it and you’ll be glad for everything you do for your mother.

However, you may not be so fortunate.

My mother Eula Hinkle Mollette, passed away many years ago. My son’s mother Karen Mollette passed away in 2002.

The years go by quickly. For too many, Mother’s Day can be a sad day because mom is no longer here. All you have is your many memories and too often memories are filled with mixed emotions. You remember what was wonderful but you may start thinking about all you wish you had done or could do if you had her today. If you have your mother today then celebrate in every way you can.

Sadly over 200,000 women are in prison or jail in the United States today. Eighty percent of these women have minor children. Mother's Day is a painful day for these women and their families.

Millions of children live with parents who are addicted to alcohol or drugs or both.

These children are raised in sad environments where they have had to emotionally and often even financially help their parents. Often, these daily struggles make it difficult to celebrate the "picture perfect" day that is touted by the flower and card companies. They may go to buy a Mother's Day card but just cannot find one that really expresses how they feel.

Many children have been raised in painful, abusive environments and Mother’s Day is depressing because they can’t conjure up that many good memories of mom. Many of these children want mom to be well and healthy. They want to know that they are loved by mom. Unfortunately, there are so many adults who have mothers who could never turn their lives around. They are often exhausted from trying to make "Mom and family" work.

Mother’s Day is our opportunity to try to do the right things again. Using words like, I care, love, appreciate, thank you, and any that express your heart’s desire to be connected are worthwhile expressions. When you do the best you can do, you can at least look back and know that you tried.

When Mom and our loved ones are no longer with us then all we have are our memories. If you have any time left to work on your Mother’s Day memories you won’t regret it in the years to come.


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.


This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.


Prep Sports Notebook: Unity beats VG, Spartan softball pounds STM

Still undefeated, Rockets bounce Villa Grove
Taylor Henry and Taylor Joop tallied three hits apiece in Unity's non-conference home game against Villa Grove.

The Rockets, who are ranked #17 in Class 2A in this week's ICA softball poll, collected at least one run in five of the six innings they played to beat the Blue Devils, 6-1.

Unity will put their undefeated 7-0 record on the line in their Illini Prairie game against Pontiac at home on Thursday.

SJO demolishes STM
Sophomore slugger Maggie Ward drove in four runs to help St. Joseph-Ogden pound St. Thomas More on the road, 18-1.

Alyssa Acton picked up the pitching win after giving up just two hits and one run out of her 58 pitches. The sophomore struck out seven Sabers after coming into the game in the bottom of the first inning.

Ward along with Kelsey Martlage (3 RBI) tapped out a pair of hits for the 8-4 Spartans.

SJO baseball robs bases at will from St. Thomas More

The Spartans rolled up ten stolen bases in their road game at St. Thomas More on Tuesday.

Andrew Beyers, Coby Miller and Ty Pence stole two bases each in SJO's 11-2 domination of the Sabers. Miller crossed the plate three times.

Tyler Altenbaumer surrendered just three hits on 86 pitches and struck out seven. Ty Pence closed out the contest with 22 pitches sacrificing one hit.

Viewpoint: Lying isn't leadership

Op-Ed by Darren Bailey

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's lie about taking politics out of reapportionment and pushing "fair and independent maps" wouldn't be so shocking if he hadn't said it so often and with such conviction and sincerity.

All through his 2018 campaign for governor, Pritzker said he supported an amendment to the state Constitution to take congressional map-drawing out of the hands of state legislators and into those of an independent commission.

He went so far as to say he'd veto legislative maps, "in any way drafted or created by legislators, political party leaders and/or their staffs or allies." Instead, he said, he would hand it over to an independent panel.

This is not some new, untried experiment. Neighboring Missouri has instituted an independent map-drawing commission, and so have Michigan, Colorado, and Utah.

With Pritzker facing reelection next year, though, it appears he's willing to allow his Democratic allies in the legislature one last go at picking their voters by drawing Republicans into concentrated and ludicrously configured districts.

"We need a governor who keeps his promises."

Lying isn't leadership. And J.B. Pritzker has broken his word more often than he spends his money to buy elections.

Last week, Pritzker said he "trusted" the Democrats in the House and Senate to send him a fair map.

"I look to the Legislature for their proposal," Pritzker said. "I'll be looking to it for its fairness."

The governor might want to invest in a microscope because he's going to have to look hard.

This is Illinois, a state where corruption and cynicism compete with one another as the political class builds its power base and their special-interest handlers line their pockets.

Let me be clear. I'm a conservative Republican. But I also know that there are some things bigger than politics – things like honesty, transparency, and fair play.

I'm committed to seeing an end to the inside-dealing that has dominated our redistricting process. Voters should pick their elected officials, not the other way around. That's why, as governor, I'll use the bully pulpit to reform the system by which we draw our districts.

Illinoisans deserve better than the current, worn-out system.

We were asked, by this very governor, to expect better. And it was all a lie.

Pritzker will argue that a constitutional amendment is absolutely necessary to take politics out of partisan hands and into those of a bi-partisan, or even non-partisan, commission. He should read his state's Constitution.

While the law assigns the power to redistrict to the legislature, it does not prohibit them from assigning the work of map-drawing to a less-partisan body. The legislature's job is to enact the maps.

And remember the governor's pledge to veto any partisan plan?

The Constitution provides for a commission, appointed by the legislature, to handle the task. And if that commission deadlocks, there's even language providing for the Supreme Court to pick a ninth member – by lottery if need be – to break deadlocks.

Let's not forget that after each of the past four censuses, the legislature proved itself unable to come up with a plan for new districts. As ever, it ended up in the courts because hardline partisans showed themselves incapable of governing legislatively.

We need a commission. And we need a governor who keeps his promises.

That doesn't sound like much, and it's far from perfect. Still, it's considerably better than the unpalatable task before us now that J.B. Pritzker has broken his word and made this process about partisan politics instead of how we can best provide Illinoisans the representation they deserve.

Darren Bailey, currently the Representative from the 109th District, is a Republican candidate for the 2022 Illinois gubernatorial election.

Serious Covid cases on the rise in young adults

The CDC recommends that people wear masks in public at events and gatherings when they are around other people in settings they can not observe social distancing.
Photo: Matt Moloney/StockSnap

By Will Stone
After spending much of the past year tending to elderly patients, doctors are seeing a clear demographic shift: young and middle-aged adults make up a growing share of the patients in covid-19 hospital wards.

It's both a sign of the country's success in protecting the elderly through vaccination and an urgent reminder that younger generations will pay a heavy price if the outbreak is allowed to simmer in communities across the country.

The explosion of cases in Michigan underscores the potential fallout of loosening restrictions.

"We're now seeing people in their 30s, 40s and 50s — young people who are really sick," said Dr. Vishnu Chundi, a specialist in infectious diseases and chair of the Chicago Medical Society's covid-19 task force. "Most of them make it, but some do not. … I just lost a 32-year-old with two children, so it's heartbreaking."

Nationally, adults under 50 now account for the most hospitalized covid patients in the country — about 36% of all hospital admissions. Those ages 50 to 64 account for the second-highest number of hospitalizations, or about 31%. Meanwhile, hospitalizations among adults 65 and older have fallen significantly.

About 32% of the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated, but the vast majority are people older than 65 — a group that was prioritized in the initial phase of the vaccine rollout.

Although new infections are gradually declining nationwide, some regions have contended with a resurgence of the coronavirus in recent months — what some have called a "fourth wave" — propelled by the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, which is estimated to be somewhere between 40% and 70% more contagious.

As many states ditch pandemic precautions, this more virulent strain still has ample room to spread among the younger population, which remains broadly susceptible to the disease.

The emergence of more dangerous strains of the virus in the U.S. — including variants first discovered in South Africa and Brazil — has made the vaccination effort all the more urgent.

"We are in a whole different ballgame," said Judith Malmgren, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington.

Rising infections among young adults create a "reservoir of disease" that eventually "spills over into the rest of society" — one that has yet to reach herd immunity — and portends a broader surge in cases, she said.

Fortunately, the chance of dying of covid remains very small for people under 50, but this age group can become seriously ill or experience long-term symptoms after the initial infection. People with underlying conditions such as obesity and heart disease are also more likely to become seriously ill.

"B.1.1.7 doesn't discriminate by age, and when it comes to young people, our messaging on this is still too soft," Malmgren said.

Hospitals Filled With Younger, Sicker People

Across the country, the influx of younger patients with covid has startled clinicians who describe hospital beds filled with patients, many of whom appear sicker than what was seen during previous waves of the pandemic.

"A lot of them are requiring ICU care," said Dr. Michelle Barron, head of infection prevention and control at UCHealth, one of Colorado's large hospital systems, as compared with earlier in the pandemic.

The median age of covid patients at UCHealth hospitals has dropped by more than 10 years in the past few weeks, from 59 down to about 48 years old, Barron said.

"I think we will continue to see that, especially if there's not a lot of vaccine uptake in these groups," she said.

While most hospitals are far from the onslaught of illness seen during the winter, the explosion of cases in Michigan underscores the potential fallout of loosening restrictions when a large share of adults are not yet vaccinated.

There's strong evidence that all three vaccines being used in the U.S. provide good protection against the U.K. variant.

One study suggests that the B.1.1.7 variant doesn't lead to more severe illness, as was previously thought. However, patients infected with the variant appear more likely to have more of the virus in their bodies than those with the previously dominant strain, which may help explain why it spreads more easily.

"We think that this may be causing more of these hospitalizations in younger people," said Dr. Rachael Lee at the University of Alabama-Birmingham hospital.

"We don't yet have enough younger adults vaccinated to counteract the increased ease with which the variants spread."

Lee's hospital also has observed an uptick in younger patients. As in other Southern states, Alabama has a low rate of vaccine uptake.

But even in Washington state, where much of the population is opting to get the vaccine, hospitalizations have been rising steadily since early March, especially among young people. In the Seattle area, more people in their 20s are now being hospitalized for covid than people in their 70s, according to Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health chief officer for Seattle and King County.

"We don't yet have enough younger adults vaccinated to counteract the increased ease with which the variants spread," said Duchin at a recent press briefing.

Nationwide, about 32% of people in their 40s are fully vaccinated, compared with 27% of people in their 30s. That share drops to about 18% for 18- to 29-year-olds.

"I'm hopeful that the death curve is not going to rise as fast, but it is putting a strain on the health system," said Dr. Nathaniel Schlicher, an emergency physician and president of the Washington State Medical Association.

Schlicher, also in his late 30s, recalls with horror two of his recent patients — close to his age and previously healthy — who were admitted with new-onset heart failure caused by covid.

"I've seen that up close and that's what scares the hell out of me," he said.

"I understand young people feeling invincible, but what I would just tell them is — don't be afraid of dying, be afraid of heart failure, lung damage and not being able to do the things that you love to do."

Will Younger Adults Get Vaccinated?

Doctors and public health experts hope that the troubling spike in hospitalizations among the younger demographic will be temporary — one that vaccines will soon counteract. It was only on April 19 that all adults became eligible for a covid vaccine, although they were available in some states much sooner.

But some concerning national polls indicate a sizable portion of teens and adults in their 20s and 30s don't necessarily have plans to get vaccinated.

"We just need to make it super easy — not inconvenient in any way," said Malmgren, the Washington epidemiologist. "We have to put our minds to it and think a little differently."

Subscribe to KHN's free Morning Briefing.

Picking the right engagement ring tells your love story

NewsUSA - Engagement rings mean many things -- romance, love, commitment. Each love story is unique, each engagement ring is the start of a new love story, and each will be a witness to a lifetime of memories.

An engagement ring embodies the memories of each couple's unique courtship. The memories begin with first glance and a warm smile meeting for the first time.

Photo: Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash

If an engagement ring could talk, it might tell you a story of "boy meets girl" and how an awkward guy got up the courage to approach the girl across a crowded room. It might tell the story of fun dates to concerts, sporting events and hanging out with friends. Trips to new cities together, boating in the Ozarks, exotic vacations to destinations abroad. The story continues to meeting the parents for the first time.

An engagement ring might reflect on a couple's firsts. That first vacation together or the first long romantic walk. The ring will grow in sentimental value as memories are shared over and over of how the future bride's personality captivated their partner into popping the all-important question.

A ring might recall asking a father's permission, sneaking a sample ring from a drawer to determine the perfect size, and even providing some inspiration for a design that would bring her to tears when she said "yes."

Engagement rings are followed by wedding rings, which tell the story of a bright day full of joy as two become one in front of family and friends. In the future, these rings will experience years of holding hands, warming hearts, rubbing shoulders, holding babies, and serving as a reminder of a lifetime of love with the love of your life.

Custom diamond engagement rings from Cornelis Hollander can help you tell your unique love story with timeless beauty. Their engagement and wedding rings represent your love, energy, and commitment to each other.

The story doesn't stop with the walk down the aisle some bright day in June, it is only beginning, and their team of skilled designers are honored to help start your journey together. The Arizona-based company has four decades of awards and testimonials for its customized engagement ring designs that range from classic to modern, with stunning settings and sparkling gems.

"Your ring is the ultimate storyteller of your style and commitment," according to Cornelis Hollander's son, Walter Hollander, who inherited the company from his father in 2017. "Our diamond rings are exceptional because they are made uniquely for the wearer, making them exclusive, memorable, and personal."

For more information go to cornelishollander.com to explore their unique collection of handcrafted diamond ring designs.

Put your end of life choices in writing

Photo: Davide Ragusa/Unsplash

Public News Service - On National Healthcare Decisions Day, advocates for end-of-life options are urging people to make a formal plan for the health care they want.

One in five Americans say they weren't prepared to make critical end-of-life decisions when a family member got very sick or even died during the pandemic.

Amy Sherman, Midwest regional campaign and outreach manager with Compassion & Choices, said that making a plan is a way to reduce stress for loved ones during a challenging time, in addition to ensuring that patients have a say in how they die and what kind of health care they do or do not want.

"It's also a way to avoid conflict in your family or minimize conflict in your family," said Sherman. "Because often in these very tense situations, we have seen that family members may have different views around care."

Recent surveys show 60% of 50- to 80-year-olds have had conversations with partners, family or friends about end-of-life medical care. And just under half have an advance directive - a legal document that can help make sure a patient's end-of-life decisions are met.

Sherman said even though talking about end-of-life issues can be difficult, and putting documents in place can seem daunting, it's worth it to take the time.

"Don't wait until you're in the car on your way to the hospital to have this conversation," said Sherman. "Make sure to have the conversation in advance."

A pair of videos in English and Spanish from the group Compassion & Choices echo the importance of preparation - and the group also has developed an online toolkit in both languages that helps people write down an advance directive, name someone as a health-care proxy or delegate power of attorney.

Sweet victory for Rockets

Unable to contain her emotions, Unity pitcher Taylor Henry jumps with joy after watching teammate Allyson England catch a pop-up from Central Catholic's Isabelle Campbell in the top of the seventh inning signaling the last out of the game. The Illini Prairie Conference contest was knotted at four-all until Rockets' Ruby Tarr doubled on a 0-1 count allowing Taylor Joop to fly around the bases, from first to home, for the go-ahead run and the 5-4 victory. Henry pitched a complete game recording 13 strikeouts after 104 pitches tossed for the Class 2A state-ranked Rockets who improved to 5-0 on the season after the thrilling victory.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

IPC names volleyball First Team

Payton Vallee lines up a kill during St. Joseph-Ogden's Class 2A third place game against Rockford Lutheran. Vallee and six other Sentinel area volleyball players earned all-conference recognition for their efforts during the shortened 2020-21 season. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
Last week, the best volleyball players this season in the Illini Prairie Conference were announced late last week. Kennedi Burnett and Payton Vallee from St. Joseph-Ogden High School join Unity's Emma Bleecher were awarded First Team All-Conference honors by the Illini Prairie Conference last week.

Rockets' Emma Flesman and the Spartans' Hannah Fox were two of ten players who earned Second Team honors from the conference coaches.

Three-sport athlete Taylor Henry and teammate Macie Knudsen, both from Unity, received Honorable Mentions.

Below is a complete list of this season's honorees.

2020-21 IPC All-Conference Volleyball Team

First Team

Kenna Wollard, Illinois Valley Central
Kaitlin Dean, Olympia
Caroline Kerr, Saint Thomas More
Renni Fultz, Monticello
Kennedi Burnett, Saint Joseph-Ogden
Payton Vallee, Saint Joseph-Ogden
Colleen Hege, Saint Thomas More
Emma Bleecher, Unity

Second Team

Mairen Mannon, Illinois Valley Central
Amaya Webb, Illinois Valley Central
Allie Carr, Monticello
Brooke Fox, Pontiac
Jenni Slagel, Prairie Central
Bella Shields, Rantoul
Hannah Fox, Saint Joseph-Ogden
Mallory Monahan, Saint Thomas More
Maci Walters, Saint Thomas More
Emma Felsman, Unity

Honorable Mention

Abby Cox, Central Catholic
Steph Hebel, Central Catholic
Mia Brady, Pontiac
Addison Masching, Pontiac
Natalie Graf, Prairie Central
Briley Hoffman, Prairie Central
Ashlee Freeman, Rantoul
Taylor Henry, Unity
Macie Knudsen, Unity

Prep Sports Notebook: Unity softball wins 2, SJO baseball rebounds for a conference win

Unity's Joop and Jones earn All-Conference accolades
Unity's Taylor Joop and Logan Jones learned last week that they are All-Conference Scholar Athletes for the 2020-21 academic year by the Illini Prairie Conference. Both received recognition at luncheon held at Illinois State University on April 29.

Rockets' Taylor Joop puts the ball in play during her team's home game against Central Catholic. Joop, who plans to continue her academic and athletic career at Heartland College, scored the game-winning run in Unity's 5-4 win on Saturday. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Knott sets new school record in the shot
St. Joseph-Ogden senior Hayden Knott raised the bar in the shot put setting a new school record with a throw of 17.14 meters on Saturday at the Rantoul Invite. The toss was also good enough to secure a first place finish in the event with throwers from Hersher, Danville and Pleasant Plains among the field of 17 competitors.

Knott also placed first in the discus throw beating his nearest competition by nearly 2 meters. His winning throw went 53.70 meters.

Miller, Altenbaumer pile on RBIs
Together, St. Joseph-Ogden's Coby Miller and Tyler Altenbaumer tallied nine RBIs, four and five respectively, in the Spartans' 17-9 win over Monticello on Saturday.

Miller was 3-for-3 and Andrew Beyers (3 RBI) added a 3-for-5 performance from the batter's box.

Zach Martinie picked up the win for the Spartans while Monticello's Cole Dasher suffered the loss after the conference pairing.

SJO improves to 10-1 on the season following their 3-run loss to Mahomet-Seymour at home on Friday.

Unity softball picks up second conference win
Unity Taylor Joop scored the winning, go-ahead run on a fly ball from Ruby Tarr in the bottom of the 6th innning in the Unity softball team's conference game against Central Catholic on Saturday.

Pitcher Taylor Henry had 3 hits and on RBI. Hailey Flesch secured one hit in four trips to the plate and delivered a pair of RBI.

Facing 29 batters, Henry gave up 9 hits and 4 runs after 104 pitches.

Good Graces win for the Rockets
Grace Frye earned a pitching win after seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits, striking out five and walking one in a 6-2 softball decision over Newton.

Meanwhile, Gracie Renfrow was 3-for-3 and pushed 2 runs across the plate for the Rockets. She collected a triple on a fly ball to center on her third pitch in the bottom of the 3rd inning allowing Erica Steinman to score and homered two innings later on a solo shot to right field.

The win keeps Unity season untarnished at 6-0. Frye and Renfrow host Villa Grove on Monday at 4pm and have a game 2 rematch against Central Catholic on the road on Tuesday.

Spartan track team win Invite title
The St. Joseph-Ogden boys track team tallied 178 points to win this year's Rantoul Invite title.

Monticello finished in second place with 162 points and host Rantoul collected 106 points for a third place finish. Unity finished 6th (77 points) in the 12-team field.

SJO's Brady Buss took second in the 200-meter dash, Brandon Mattsey clocked a 4:53.12 in the 1600-meter run for the meet title and Hayden Knott won both throwing event to lift the Spartans on Saturday.

Unity baseball team drops first loss
After a dominating 2-0 start, the Rockets' baseball team fell 7-4 on the road to Illinois Valley Central (7-1) on Saturday.

Damian Knoll took the loss after a two-inning appearance scattering 4 hits and 3 walks.

Knoll (1 RBI) along with Blake Kimball scored one run apiece. Tyler Hensch, 1-for-3 from the plate, also had one RBI and double.

3 Spartan homers crush Sages
Sandwiched between two home runs by Shayne Immke, St. Joseph-Ogden's Kaylee Ward went deep in the seventh inning for one of her own. Immke put the first of two homers out of the park in the 1st inning and repeated her effort with another in the fifth.

The hot bats, which helped SJO to improve to a 7-4 season, allowed the Spartans to easily win, 12-6.

Scoring in five of their seven innings, St. Joseph-Ogden tacked on a pair of runs in each of the last three innings of the game to pull away on the scoreboard.

Pitching duties were shared with Alyssa Acton, who earned the win after five innings, and Sophia Martlage closed out the game with 20 pitches in the last 2 innings.

Four area soccer players earn all-conference recognition

SJO's Logan Ingram dribbles the ball
St. Joseph-Ogden forward Logan Ingram dribbles the ball down the field during the Spartans' home soccer match against St. Thomas More on April 13. Ingram and three other are seniors earned all-conference recognition from the Illini Prairie Conference. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Four area seniors earned all-conference soccer team recognition from the Illini Prairie Conference coaches last week.

Logan Ingram and Mason Behrens from St. Joseph-Ogden along with Unity's Zach Ohlsson were named to the conference's 2nd team selections.

Unity midfielder Andrew Miller earned an Honorable Mention for his performance this season.

Below is a complete list of this season's honorees.

2021 IPC All-Conference Soccer Teams

First Team

Jake Edmonson, Monticello (unanimous)
Justin Siebert, Olympia (unanimous)
Jonah Bergman, IVC

Blake Staab, St. Thomas More (unanimous)
Dylan Ginalick, Monticello (unanimous)
Alexandro Gonzalez, Rantoul (unanimous)

Biniam Lienhart, Monticello (unanimous)
Martin Mondala, St. Thomas More (unanimous)
Jaylen Bischoff, Central Catholic

Jacob Jongky, Central Catholic
Gavin Young, Central Catholic
Joe Carter, Central Catholic

Second Team

David Broadbear, Central Catholic
Ethan Brakke, Monticello
Mason Behrens, St. Joseph-Ogden
Logan Ingram, St. Joseph-Ogden
Zach Ohlsson, Unity
Cole Smith, Monticello
Noah While, Olympia

Malachi Manuel, Monticello
Tristan Baker, IVC

Dane Taylor, St. Thomas More
Cabott Craft, St. Thomas More
Eliud Echeverria, Rantoul

Boyden Chaon, Central Catholic

Honorable Mention

Joshua Jongky, Central Catholic
Payton Carroll, Olympia
Jake Mitchell, Olympia
Dylan Smith, Olympia
Johan Guerrero, Rantoul
Andrew Miller, Unity

Austin Koch, Central Catholic
Jarrett Wieduwilt, Central Catholic
Ben Williamson, Monticello Gannon Wille, Olympia
Cooper Hannagan, St. Thomas More
Anthony Hoffman, St. Thomas More
Adam Price, St. Thomas More

Jack Tanner, Monticello
Warren Tomczak, Central Catholic

Yet to tackle big problems in the state, Illinois House passes bill to regulate balloons

by Brad Weisenstein, Editor
Illinois Policy

It was 1984 when a German pop group made "99 Red Balloons" the No. 2 song on the Billboard charts, but by 2022 they might face a fine for releasing so many balloons in Illinois.

The Illinois House on April 21 voted to make it illegal to release 50 or more balloons in Illinois. Do it once, get a warning. Twice, a $500 fine. A third time, a $1,000 fine.

And that's for each group of 50 balloons: "The release of more than 50 balloons shall constitute a separate violation for every 50 balloons," according to House Bill 418, which passed the Illinois House 90-23. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2022, if it passes the Illinois Senate and is signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, said balloons are an environmental threat and recently caused a power outage for over 1,000 customers in Champaign. After released balloons come down, they create problems for farmers and wildlife.

Interestingly, government agencies and universities are exempt from these rules, according to the bill.

Illinoisans face the highest state and local tax burden in the nation and the No. 2 property taxes. There’s a $317 billion public pension deficit eating away at state finances.

Springfield has yet to tackle those big problems. But at least Illinoisans will be safe from too many balloons, if HB 418 becomes law.

Welcome home, Flesch delivers two-run magic

Hailey Flesch receives welcome at home plate after hitting a home run
Members of the Unity softball team prepare to smoother Hailey Flesch after she steps on home plate in yesterday's home game against Westville. Flesch crushed the ball for a two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning to give the Rockets a 2-0 advantage. Unity piled on an additional four runs, two in the fifth and a pair in the sixth, to beat the visiting Tigers, 6-0. The Rockets face Bloomington Central Catholic today at 10am for their second Illini Prairie Conference game of the season.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Prep Sports Notebook: Henry records shutout for Unity, SJO gets no-hitter

Rockets light up new scoreboard with 11-1 win over Bombers
The Unity baseball team improved to 2-0 on the season after rolling to another mercy win on Thursday. With Blake Kimball on the mound, the Rockets hammered visiting Argenta-Oreana, 11-1.

Kimball earned his first win after giving up 3 hits and an earned run. The junior hurler didn't walk a batter and struck out five Bombers in the five-inning affair.

Unity put five runs on the board in the second inning breaking a 1-all tie. Thanks to a solid defensive outing by the Rockets, A-O was denied every opportunity to score the remainder of the non-conference contest.

Meanwhile, in their second game on their home turf, Unity christened their new scoreboard by putting runs on in every inning of play, including a 4-run rally in the bottom of the fourth to go up 11-1.

Tyler Hench went 2-for-2 and led the team with 3 RBI. Kimball finished 2-for-4 and chipped in a pair of RBI for the Rockets.

Thomas Cler was 1-for-2 with a triple on the day.

Martinie, Altenbaumer team up for Charleston shutout
SJO's Zach Martinie and Tyler Altenbaumer combined efforts for a 3-0 shutout victory over visiting Charleston on Thursday.

The Spartans scored four runs on four hits from Keaton Nolan, Isaiah Immke, Ty Pence and Altenbaumer.

Hayden Brazelton and Andrew Beyers padded their season stats with one RBI apiece.

Altenbaumer earned the win after tossing 95 pitches and striking out 11 Trojan batters. Martinie closed out the game with 16 pitches, nine of them strikes.

Unity softball picks up conference road win
Taylor Joop led her team's offense effort going 3-for-3, including a double on a pop fly to left field in the top of the second, in the Rockets' conference road game at Rantoul.

Taylor Henry, who struckout 13 batters, went the distance from the circle in Unity's 11-0 shutout over the Eagles. She gave up just three hits, including a triple to Eagles' Bella Shields.

Up 6-0 at the top of 6th inning, Unity manufactured a 5-run rally starting with a line drive to right field from Henry scoring Joop from second and Ruby Tarr at first.

Grace Frye stepped up to the plate next and crushed the second pitch she saw from Rantoul's Emily Curtis over the fence for a two-run homer.

Despite striking out nine batters from the Rockets, Curtis surrendered 11 runs on 10 hits.

The Rockets, now 3-0, face Paris this afternoon at home and Bloomington Central Catholic in an Illini Prairie Conference showdown on Saturday.

House bill passes allowing Blockchain financial services

by Patrick Andriesen, Communications Intern
Illinois Policy
The Illinois House unanimously passed a bill to allow financial service companies that operate using cryptocurrency to apply for a charter in Illinois. If the bill becomes law, Illinois will be the second state to allow the practice.

"Our state has the opportunity to lead the way on blockchain technology and cryptoassets, which could make Illinois a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship for future generations – and all the jobs that come with it," said the bill’s chief sponsor, state Rep. Margaret Croke, D-Chicago.

House Bill 3968 has the support of the Illinois Bankers Association, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and other banking organizations that signed on in support of the bill. It is now before the Illinois Senate.

Illinois would be the second state in the nation to allow special trusts to hold digital assets after Wyoming, which drew digital asset bank Avanti and cryptocurrency exchange Kraken to the state with a similar measure in 2019.

The digital asset industry has grown steadily in recent years with the skyrocketing value of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin.

An Illinois Blockchain Business Development report produced by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation in December stated worldwide investment in blockchain technology startups jumped from just $1 million in 2012 to $4.15 billion dollars in 2018, enticing thousands more to enter the market. The market value of all cryptocurrencies stands at about $758 billion, according to Statista.

But many digital asset companies have found banking with traditional institutions difficult given the significant cost to startups.

HB 3968 would lend stability to the industry by allowing financial technology companies to offer the same financial products as existing trusts, such as banking and payment services, in addition to other digital asset services, sponsors said.

Traditional financial institutions in Illinois have also voiced support for the bill, stating consumers will benefit and that boosting fintech and cryptocurrencies will drive positive economic growth.

"Illinois has every right to win in blockchain, given that we are a unique intersection of financial hub and real-economy hub (manufacturing, logistics, agriculture, etc.)," Outlier Ventures partner Rumi Morales told Payments Dive. "If we connect digital payments innovation to those sectors, the potential is huge."

Patrick is a communications intern with the Illinois Policy Institute. In this role, he focuses on creating and analyzing content to support our published research and experts in the media. Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization that promotes responsible government and free market principles. This story was originally published on March 9, 2021.

St. Joseph village board meeting agenda updated

Three additional items were added to tonight's St. Joseph village board meeting for discussion and possible approval by trustees.

In addition to discussing the new village administrator position and taking care of routine budget duties, the board will also listen to a presentation from Roch's on outdoor dining and discuss moving lighting to accommodate potential out dining space.

The board will also discuss and approve the final draft of a new, long-awaited food truck ordinance.

The third addition to the agenda is a discussion on the county's upcoming redistricting options. An informational webpage at http://www.co.champaign.il.us/countyexecutive/redistrictingadvisory.php offers five possible plans under consideration. The mapping application compares redistricting proposals created by or submitted to the Champaign County Redistricting Advisory Group.

Prep Sports Notebook: Unity baseball wins opener, softball coach gets 100 wins

Knoll RBI forces 11-1, 5 inning decision
Damian Knoll went 2-2 and drove in the game-winning run sealing Unity's 11-1 opening day win over visiting Hoopeston Area. The junior right-hander notched 3 RBIs in the Rockets' first game since 2019.

Tyler Hensch pitched 5 innings for Unity, giving up one hit and one run while striking out seven batters.

Dillon Rutledge, who scored the runs, along with Dylan Moore and Thomas Cler were also 2-for-2 for the Rockets.

Unity coach gets 100th win
Head coach Aimee Davis picked up career win 100 after her Rockets beat visiting Mt. Zion on Saturday in their season opener, 13-3. The milestone happened a year later than anticipated thanks to COVID and the resulting gameless season last year. Davis, now in her sixth season at the helm, and the Unity softball team started the season with a #7 Class 2A preseason ranking by the Illinois Coaches Association.

SJO softball holds off Fisher's 7th innning rally
SJO pitcher Maggie Ward
Maggie Ward earned yesterday's win after the St. Joseph-Ogden softball team held off a seventh inning momentum shift from the Fisher Bunnies to win 5-3. The pitcher surrendered three runs on nine hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking zero. Ward allowed three runs on nine hits while going the distance in the circle.

Striking out six batters and allowing not a single walk in the non-conference road game for SJO, Ward recorded 79 strikes out of the 118 pitches she put across the plate.

The Spartans put 11 hits in the book. Kennedy Hudson, Peyton Jones, Shayne Immke, Kelsey Martlage, and Audrey Short had two apiece and Alyssa Acton rounded out the offense with one of her own.

SJO improves to 5-3 on the season and faces Villa Grove at home on Wednesday.

Knott wins two of four firsts for Spartans
Last Thursday, field event specialist Hayden Knott won both throwing events in dual meet competition against Eureka.

Knott won the discus throw by just over 10 meters throwing the platter 47.93 meters further than runner-up Brock Trimble. The senior won the shot put competition with his best throw at 16.56 meters.

The Spartans also received first place performances from Brandon Mattsey in the 1600-meter run and Logan Wolfersberger in the 800.

Mattsey completed his four laps in 4 minutes and 43.62 seconds, moving closer to achieving the all-elusive sub-four-minute mile. Teammate Carson Maroon finished behind him second at 4:48.94.

Wolfersberger set a new personal record in the 800, finishing the two loops around the track in 2 minutes and 8.65 seconds.

When it comes to your health ask questions

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

You don’t have to stay in the nursing home if you don’t want to. If you can manage to get out and have a place to go then it’s your life. Even if you want to spend your remaining days crawling in the floor to the kitchen or the bathroom then it’s your God given right to live out your days in such a way.

Too often people feel as if they do not have choices. Some nurse or social worker says, "Oh, you can’t leave here."

Really? If you are mentally and physically able then you can show them by getting up, putting on your clothes, if you are able, and walking or crawling out the door.

A few years back, an acquaintance went to the emergency room. After 30 minutes of feeling like she was being treated very poorly, she got up and left.

An attending nurse called for her to stop saying, "Wait, you can’t leave!"

The acquaintance said, "Watch me."

"You have to see the doctor!" the nurse responded.

The acquaintance retorted, "No, I don’t."

"You can’t leave without signing this paper!" the nurse demanded.

"I’m not signing anything," my acquaintance said as she walked out the door.

Most of the time we are submissively obedient to everything the medical community says to do.

Many years ago, when Magic Johnson was diagnosed with HIV, many of us believed he would die very soon. That was in 1992 and he is still alive today. Johnson once said, "I do what my doctor tells me to do."

It only makes sense to pay attention to our doctors. Most of the time, they know more than we do. If your cardiologist says to take statins or high blood pressure medicine then it would be wise to do so until you can get your numbers under control.

A friend of ours was advised by her doctor that she needed a hysterectomy. The doctor scheduled the procedure. Days before the procedure our friend called to say she had some unresolved questions. The doctor never called her back so our friend called and emailed the doctor’s office to cancel.

The morning of the scheduled surgery, the doctor called the woman from the surgical room infuriated because our friend did not show up.

Our friend said, "Doctor, I never received a return call to answer my questions, so I cancelled the surgery."

The doctor replied, "I can answer those questions here, you need to come on now."

"No, I won’t be there," our friend said. "I have questions about this procedure that I need to have resolved."

The doctor verbally berated her and forbid her to cancel. Our friend did not have the surgery. Months later she got a second opinion and learned she didn’t need the hysterectomy. There was a much less invasive procedure that would remedy her problem.

She had the less invasive procedure and has been fine for several years.

We are entitled to ask questions and get answers when it comes to our healthcare, surgery or any medication. If your doctor will not answer your questions then find a doctor who will.

We also have the right to be informed about all medical costs instead of being blind-sided later and pushed into bankruptcy.

We are thankful for our good doctors and all who help us with our medical needs. It’s important for us to listen to what they say, ask our questions and then determine the right thing to do.

The right thing to do, is to ask questions, get answers, and make informed decisions.


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.


This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.


6 reason to consider a career in home healthcare

Pexels photo
Photo:RODNAE Productions/Pexels

(StatePoint Media) -- Over the past 13 months unemployment rates nearly doubled their pre-pandemic levels reported in February 2020, the prospect of starting a new career after age 50 may seem unrealistic. However, industry experts say that it’s actually a great time for those in this age bracket to consider making the leap.

"Whether you’re inspired by the healthcare heroes helping patients on the COVID-19 frontlines or you’re looking to take control over your career and future, the recession-proof home healthcare industry may be right for you," says Jennifer Sheets, president and chief executive officer of Interim HealthCare Inc., which is actively recruiting caregivers nationwide.

Here are six reasons to consider home healthcare at this point in your career:

1. To boost happiness
The pandemic has created new sources of stress and unhappiness for many people. Your career is one area of your life where you can take back some control. And the right career can actually make you happier. Research from The University of Chicago shows that jobs that help and serve others are linked to the most satisfaction.

2. To stay sharp
Brains are like muscles -- they have to be used to stay fit. A change in career flexes your brain “muscles” by encouraging you to learn new things, step out of your comfort zone and stay challenged. Medical experts also believe that staying cognitively active may even reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. With a home healthcare career, every day is different, offering a diverse array of experiences that use every facet of your skillset.

3. To make extra money
In uncertain economic times, earning extra money can make a big difference for nearly every family, and home care careers often allow you to bring in extra income in a way that aligns with your schedule and priorities.

4. To meet new people
Loneliness is tied to depression and anxiety, and it can even have negative impacts on heart health. Unfortunately, the pandemic has exacerbated this issue for many people. A new career that requires getting out and interacting with new people can alleviate some of this.

5. To make a difference
With headlines touting healthcare heroes, you may be feeling the pull toward a career that allows you to give back. Helping individuals who can’t (or shouldn’t) go out due to a high risk of COVID-19 complications is a valuable way to make a difference in your community.

6. To mix things up
There are job opportunities in home healthcare available for people of all backgrounds. However, for those already working in healthcare, this is a path offering an opportunity to get back to the heart of caregiving by providing personalized care to patients, with all the flexibility and autonomy that go with it.

To learn more about the industry and explore job opportunities available through Interim HealthCare, which has been connecting individuals to rewarding opportunities that advance their career for more than 50 years, visit ihcmadeforthis.com.

Time for the next chapter in your career? Consider whether home healthcare is the right step for you.

Knoll's 5th inning triple seals Rocket opening win

Damian Knoll slides into second
Unity's Damian Knoll is tagged out on a play at second base by a Hoopeston Area player during the Rockets' first game of the season. Later, the junior smacked a 3-RBI triple in the bottom of the 5th innning to make the score 11-1 and secured his team's first victory of the season. Next up, the Rockets host Argenta-Oreana on their new turf diamond on Thursday. The first pitch is scheduled for 4pm.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Are you ready for when your power goes out?

With people still working, learning and shopping from home, everyone must prepare earlier for outages that accompany severe weather.

(NAPS) -- More Americans suffered extended power outages in 2020 than any year since Superstorm Sandy struck the New York area in 2012, according to Generac, owners of Power Outage Central, a real-time outage tracking service that monitors outages throughout the United States.

Earlier this month, there were three areas in Champaign-Urbana without electrical service thanks to a set of Mylar birthday balloons that came in contact with power lines.

Photo: Artem Podrez/Pexels

Mylar balloons are metallic and conduct electricity, resulting in surges and shorts that can create power outages, start fires, and cause significant damage to the electric grid. Approximately 1,200 Ameren customers were without power for three hours.

Back in November of last year, power was out for about three hours in the south part of Champaign and another area covering Campustown. In eastern Urbana, about 180 customers were without power at the same time. Over 1,500 customers were without power during the incident.

"In 2020, more than one out of three Americans experienced a power outage, and the U.S. power grid suffered more outage hours than it has in years," said Russ Minick, chief marketing officer for Wisconsin-based Generac. "With people still working, learning and shopping from home, everyone must prepare earlier for outages that accompany severe weather."

Outages are statistically much more common than many other threats to the home, according to Generac’s data. In fact, while about 12% of homes are at risk of flooding according to the First Street Foundation’s flood database1, every home is at risk of losing power. Unlike with floods, however, there are multiple ways to safeguard against loss of electrical power.

"There are three key paths to protecting power supply, said Simon Allen, president of Allied Energy, a backup power solution provider in San Diego, Calif. "These include portable generators, which are a short-term solution; home standby generators; and solar energy storage systems. Solar energy storage systems and home standby generators are permanently installed and can provide secure sources of power for longer periods."

Each system requires advance planning, including local permitting and installation, said Allen, but secure power is worth it.

"Life gets very primitive and dangerous when the power is out. With outages lasting longer and occurring more often, all against the backdrop of people working and learning from home, our customers are turning to Generac home standby generators and PWRcell battery storage systems. Effectively, they’re making their homes a sanctuary against Mother Nature’s threats."

Picking the correct solution varies for every homeowner, said Stephen Cruise of Generator Supercenter, a Texas-based provider of power solutions. "A generator will run nearly indefinitely on propane or natural gas," he said. "With correct power management, a solar energy storage system can also power the whole home for extended periods. It comes down to preference, local codes and budget. The best place to start is finding a great local installer who can help make the decision easy."

"Authorized dealers and installers know local codes and are factory trained," said Minick. "They’re experts in local needs and can provide a one-stop solution for every homeowner."

All the resources needed to acquire and install backup power are available at www.generac.com. Prices fit most budgets and vary depending on factors such as the size of home, the electricity needed for backup and preference for solar or generator-based options.

Baker sets hurdles PR, SJO girls snag 9 first at home meet

The St. Joseph-Ogden girls track team took first place in nine events in a home dual meet against Eureka last Thursday.

Haleigh Maddock turned in a 31.10 in the 200m Dash. She was followed over the finish line by teammates Yamilka Casanova (32.32) and Jayci Hayes (32.48) to secure the top three spots on the podium.

SJO's Malorie Sarnecki won the 400m Dash with at time of 1:07:53. The performance was prep personal record for the junior middle distance runner.

In the hurdles, Kaytlyn Baker set a new PR finishing the 100m hurdles at 18.10. In her first meet of the Spring 2021 season against Clinton, the sophomore turned in 18.51 in the event.

Baker also placed second the 300m Hurdles following Ashlyn Lannert over the line at 54.47. Lannert, a junior, won the event with a time of 53.47, just a little under her personal best in the race at 51.53.

The Spartans enjoyed first place finishes in two of the four relay events at the meet.

The Womens 4x100m relay quartet of Atleigh Hamilton, Payton Carter, Raegan Crippen and Macy Reed-Thompson finished more than two second ahead of the Hornets contingent at 52.18 to take first.

The same four Spartans joined forces for another first place finish, this time in the 4x200m relay. The foursome's combined efforts yielded a time of 1:53.13.

Reed-Thompson also earned another gold medal worthy finish taking the top honor in the High Jump. The freshman tallied first place points after her best attempt at 1.49m.

Also earning field event points for SJO, Carter cleared 2.9 meters in the Women Pole Vault for another first place Spartan finish.

Finally, it comes as no surprise that the winner of the Women's Long Jump was 2x Class 1A state champion was Atleigh Hamilton.

The senior cleared 5.23 meters, or 17 feet and 1.91 inches, of sand in her home pit to win the pit. Her best mark in the event, set at the 2019 state championships, is 5.68m (18' 7.75").

The Spartans will host their third meet of the season in a quad event featuring Shelbyville, Judah Christian and St. Teresa tomorrow at the Glenn Fisher Athletic Complex starting at 4pm.

Joining the tech workforce is easier than you might think

(StatePoint Media) -- More than 12 million people are currently employed in tech-related occupations in the U.S., either as information technology (IT) professionals or employees of technology companies. Yet employer demand for tech workers is still strong in many markets and industries, including technology, financial services, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, government and education.

Tech jobs in Champaign County are plentiful at the moment. Technology Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is currently accepting applications for three positions on their Managed IT Services teams. Four days ago, Revature was seeking software developers and Niemann Foods advertised an opening for a Network Administrator with a starting pay at $40K annually.

Most people assume that tech jobs require the ability to write computer or application code. Companies are looking for employees who can solve problems creatively as well as help businesses operate more efficiently and profitably.

The County of Champaign Forest Preserve in Mahomet posted an opening for an part-time IT Technician on April 1. Jeld-Wen in Rantoul recently had an opening for a Senior IT Business Operations Specialist who would support training, data and other technical needs for the company and its business partners.

Unfortunately, misperceptions about tech occupations persist. People assume that in such jobs, you’re relegated to working alone writing software code or that you need to be a math genius or have an advanced academic degree to even get your foot in the door. These misperceptions can discourage qualified candidates from exploring career options in the IT field.

"Today’s IT professional plays a leading role in virtually every business and industry, identifying innovation and technologies that can determine the future of an organization," says John McGlinchey, executive vice president for global certification with CompTIA, a nonprofit association for the IT industry. "Companies are eager to hire people who communicate effectively, are comfortable working as part of a team and are creative in identifying how to use technology to make a business more efficient and profitable."

If you don’t believe technology is a viable career choice, consider all of the things you’ve done today that are made possible by technology

In fact, 62% of executives surveyed for CompTIA’s "Workforce and Learning Trends 2020" report ranked soft skills such as relationship building, persuasion, integrity and confidence with equal importance to hard technical skills when it came to hiring for their tech workforce.

For anyone thinking about a career in tech, the best first step is to learn more about the technologies of today and tomorrow, and the occupations associated with these innovations. Many free resources are available. Here are three examples:

The Future of Tech (www.futureoftech.org) is a growing library of resources on what’s new and what’s next in the world of technology. Topics such as artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, big data and the internet of things are highlighted on the site, which is designed for anyone interested in learning more about technologies that are shaping the way we live and work.

The IT Career Roadmap (www.comptia.org/content/it-careers-path-roadmap) offers insights into a variety of career paths, including tech support, networking, cybersecurity, data and software and web development.

The IT Salary Calculator (https://www.comptia.org/content/it-salary-calculator) allows you to explore salary estimates for different tech occupations at different levels of expertise. The calculator includes salary data from 400 different metropolitan areas covering 85% of the U.S. population, from an IT support specialist in Portland, Maine ($52,750) to a cybersecurity analyst in Portland, Ore. ($101,530).

"If you don’t believe technology is a viable career choice, consider all of the things you’ve done today that are made possible by technology -- from the car you drive and the streaming entertainment channels you enjoy to a telehealth visit with your doctor and the ease and efficiency of online banking," says McGlinchey.

The IT field is no longer a world of pocket protectors and motherboards. With more people using more devices than ever before to stay connected to one another, industry experts say that today’s IT workforce is open for business for anyone with great curiosity, creativity, personality and versatility.

Backed by plenty of public and private cash, Rapid Covid Tests will be in stores soon

by Hannah Norman

Scientists and lawmakers agree that over-the-counter covid tests could allow desk workers to settle back into their cubicles and make it easier to reopen schools and travel.

But even as entrepreneurs race their products to market, armed with millions of dollars in venture capital and government investment, the demand for covid testing has waned. Manufacturing and bureaucratic delays have also kept rapid tests from hitting store shelves in large numbers, though the industry was energized by the Food and Drug Administration’s greenlighting of two more over-the-counter tests Wednesday.

Corporate giants and startups alike plan to offer a dizzying array of test options, most costing between $10 and $110. Their screening accuracy varies, as does the way consumers get results: collection kits mailed back to a lab, devices synced with artificial intelligence-enabled apps on a smartphone that spit out results within 15 minutes, and credit card-sized tests with strips of paper that must be dipped into a chemical substance.

"At-home tests are one of the key steps to getting back to normal life," said Andy Slavitt, a member of the White House COVID-19 Response Team, during a February briefing.

The Biden administration announced in March it will allocate $10 billion from the recently passed stimulus package for covid testing to expedite school reopenings, and earlier said it would invoke the Defense Production Act to manufacture more at-home tests. Separately, the federal government has already sent millions of Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNOW rapid tests to states, and California, for instance, is giving 3 million of them to its most disadvantaged school districts for free.

Large employers, like Google, sports leagues and the federal government, have already shelled out millions to regularly test their workers. Amazon just received emergency use authorization from the FDA for its own covid test and home collection kit, which it intends to use for its employee screening program.

In February, the Biden administration cut a $232 million deal with Ellume, whose rapid antigen test was authorized by the FDA in December. Paired with an app, the test takes 15 minutes to analyze after a nose swab.

Individuals who want to buy over-the-counter tests can bill their health insurance plans, which are required by the federal government in most cases to fully cover covid tests that have been authorized by the FDA.

Everlywell, based in Austin, Texas, is an at-home diagnostic company that already sells its collection kit to consumers through its website and Walgreens, and will soon offer same-day delivery via DoorDash in a dozen cities. Dr. Marisa Cruz, Everlywell’s executive vice president of regulatory and clinical affairs, said buyers can seek reimbursement from their insurance plans for the kit’s $109 cost. The tests are also eligible for purchase with pretax dollars from health savings or flexible spending accounts, she said.

Even with vaccines, epidemiologists say, rapid tests are desperately needed because more testing, along with mask-wearing and physical distancing, will get people back in offices and classrooms and help catch cases that go undetected. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, of people with active infections, 44% reported no symptoms.

But the market for over-the-counter tests is risky. Demand for testing has plunged dramatically since the height of the winter surge and may not rebound as more people are vaccinated.

'You clearly are at risk of missing the market,' said Michael Greeley, co-founder and general partner at Flare Capital Partners, a venture capital firm focused on health care technology.

But Douglas Bryant, president and CEO of Quidel Corp., remains unfazed, even after the diagnostics manufacturer’s testing demand dropped by about one-third in the past two months.

"The level of testing for people with symptoms and the 'worried well,' who see others getting tested and think they should, too, is subsiding," Bryant said. "But once we start to get more people vaccinated, the government will move from campaigning to get people vaccinated to saying, 'Please test yourself regularly so we can get back to work.'"

Quidel, headquartered in San Diego, recently unveiled its latest test, the QuickVue At-Home COVID-19 Test, which takes 10 minutes to detect the coronavirus by homing in on specific proteins, called antigens. The FDA authorized the test for over-the-counter use Wednesday, and Quidel plans to announce retail partners in the coming weeks.

The FDA said in mid-March it would speed the pipeline for “screening testing,” including at-home covid tests that don’t require consumers to have symptoms or a prescription.

In February, the Biden administration cut a $232 million deal with Ellume, whose rapid antigen test was authorized by the FDA in December. Paired with an app, the test takes 15 minutes to analyze after a nose swab.

The Australian company currently ships hundreds of thousands of test kits a week to the U.S. from its factory in Brisbane to large companies and the Department of Defense. It plans to be on the shelves of multiple pharmacies by the second half of the year and in one major retailer in April, said Dr. Sean Parsons, the company’s founder and CEO.

"We are going as fast as we can possibly go," he said.

The main holdup for Ellume has been getting enough swabs for its production line. The company is building a factory in the U.S. to reduce international shipping costs and increase production.

Abbott, which dominates the rapid-test market, said in January it expects to sell 120 million BinaxNOW antigen tests to consumers in the first half of the year. People who take the test now must do so under observation by telemedicine platform eMed. But Abbott received authorization from the FDA this week for an over-the-counter version that won’t require remote observation or a prescription. The test will be available in U.S. stores in the coming weeks, the company said.

Throughout the pandemic, the government has depended heavily on medical device behemoth Abbott’s testing options. The company’s rapid-diagnostics arm alone has snared $673 million in federal contracts to combat the coronavirus, according to a ProPublica database. This includes bulk purchases made by the Defense Department, the national prison system, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the State Department and former President Donald Trump's office.

But antigen tests sometimes report false negatives, particularly among people without symptoms, noted Dr. Jac Dinnes, who co-authored a review of 64 covid test studies. By comparison, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests — generally employed by commercial labs — are more sensitive. PCR tests search for the virus’s genetic material over multiple testing cycles, which magnifies what’s in the swab sample, requiring a much smaller viral load for detection.

Antigen tests are the basis for most at-home screening, but the FDA has also authorized two at-home options — made by Lucira Health and Cue Health — that use molecular processes similar to a PCR test.

"I always like to tell people that it is as easy to use as toothpaste."

Still, many experts support the widespread distribution of cheap, rapid tests, even if they aren’t as sensitive as lab-run alternatives, and see a demand. In Germany, the supermarket chain Aldi began selling rapid tests in early March, roughly $30 for a five-pack, and sold out within hours. One recent study found that if a pack of tests was mailed to every household in the U.S. — even assuming that up to 75% would go into the garbage — they would save thousands of lives and avert millions of infections.

"Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good," said study co-author and Yale University professor A. David Paltiel. "This doesn’t have to work perfectly to make a huge difference."

Some companies are working on rapid-testing options that more precisely read samples, such as Gauss.

The Menlo Park, California, health tech company, which before the pandemic created an artificial intelligence-based app to measure surgical blood loss in real time, aims to harness its expertise to improve on the basic antigen test. It took about a week for CEO Siddarth Satish to raise $30 million of venture capital last October.

Its covid-testing app uses facial recognition software to confirm that test-takers correctly swab their noses. The app provides step-by-step instructions and timers. After 15 minutes, an algorithm based on thousands of sample tests interprets the result — which displays as a colored line, as with a pregnancy test — using the phone’s camera.

Gauss and Cellex, which manufactures the Gauss tests, await FDA authorization. In the meantime, they have produced more than 1.5 million kits and struck deals with supermarket chain Kroger and e-pharmacy site Truepill to sell them for about $30.

"A huge part of the accuracy issue with rapid tests is that you have to visually interpret them," Satish said. "Sometimes you get really faint lines, just like with a pregnancy strip, and there’s some guesswork."

Lucira Health, based in Emeryville, California, uses something called loop-mediated isothermal amplification technology, which is similar to PCR tests in precision. In February, the company went public, raising $153 million largely to fund the manufacturing of its all-in-one testing kit, currently prescribed by doctors across the country. The kit comes with a nose swab and a vial of chemicals analyzed by a hand-held device — taking up to 30 minutes for results.

Kelly Lewis Brezoczky, Lucira’s executive vice president, envisions the test kit on the shelf in local pharmacies, perched next to the NyQuil. "I always like to tell people that it is as easy to use as toothpaste," she said.

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