Area COVID-19 Dashboard for January 8, 2022

In today's Covid news:

The total number of county residents in isolation dropped by 579 is now at 6,090.

In the past 8 days, Champaign County has had 7,082 positive Covid-19 test.

There are currently just 22 out of 150 ICU beds available in Region 6. The region includes Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Dewitt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Lawrence, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Richland, Shelby and Vermillion counties. Ventilator usage is under 50% with 179 of 298 in the region unused at this time.


Active Champaign County Cases:

6,090

Net change in the county: -579



Current local cases 1/8/22
Number in parenthesis indicates new cases since 1/7/22

Ogden • 37 (1)
Royal • 3 (0)
St. Joseph • 190 (15)
Urbana • 2139 (222)
Sidney • 48 (5)
Philo • 59 (5)
Tolono • 140 (10)
Sadorus • 14 (1)
Pesotum • 24 (3)


Total Active Local Cases:

2,654

Net change in local cases: -265



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 16,899

New cases: 262


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and the Illinois Department of Public Health at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

Small fish swimming with the sharks, SJO grad finding success in real estate business


NASHVILLE, TN - 2016 St. Joseph-Ogden graduate Jake Pence hasn't let the pandemic slow him or entrepreneurial pursuits down. The real estate business he founded two years ago is now based in Music City. Kaski, formerly known as Blue Chip Real Estate, is a real estate investment firm "focused on luxury short-term rentals in Nashville and value-add multifamily properties in Central Illinois and Middle Tennessee."

This is a short-term rental in Nashville that Pence purchased and has since renovated. See more photos on his Instagram page where he describes his acquisitions experience. Photo courtesy Jake Pence

Pence's fledgling business has grown from managing four units valued at $250K to 83 worth $7.5 million. He also raised $2.15 million in equity from 23 investors who believe in his vision.

After graduating from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois in 2019, Pence had a choice to join the corporate world or hop on the sometimes turbulent, unpredictable path of entrepreneurship. He chose the latter.

The first year-and-a-half was a little rocky, but Pence made some strategic moves that have paid off.

"For the first year & a half, it seemed like I had placed a bad bet," Pence wrote in a Facebook post. "However, thanks to the help of numerous people, especially Jared Blaudow, Kendra Pence, & Todd Pence, Kaski finally started to gain traction in the summer of 2021 & was able to close out the year strong."

He also found time and the opportunity to start a new subsidiary business called Stay Music City. The operation is a short-term stay property management company offering luxury single-family homes to an estimated 16.2 million visitors a year to not only the home of country music but also fans looking for a place to stay attending collegiate and professional sporting events, conferences or work-related trips.

Kaski is also set to close on a deal for two apartment complexes this quarter that will more than double the number of residences in their rental portfolio.

"We're still a very small fish in a very large pond, but I'm excited to see what we can accomplish in 2022 & beyond," he said, who earned varsity letters in three sports at SJO.

When asked what advice he would give aspiring entrepreneurs and real estate developers, he offered sound advice.

"Be impatient with action, yet patient with results," he said. "Don’t take yourself too seriously or get too caught up in the highs and lows, just take consistent action over a long time period and you will start to see results."

Photo-of-the-Day: January 8, 2022

Zach Martinie tries to tag out runner at third
Safe at third
St. Joseph-Ogden senior Zach Martinie tries to snag a throw to third to tag out a Charleston baserunner during the SJO's home game on April 29, 2021. The runner was called safe on the play. The Spartans went on to win the non-conference game, 3-0. See more photos from this game.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks


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Five ways to make Valentine’s Day awesome

Photo: Sarah Pflug/Burst
StatePoint -- Valentine’s Day is no longer just for the happy couples. Whether you’re married, dating or content being single, there are ways for everyone to celebrate love of all kinds, including romance in 2022, regardless of relationship status.

1. Custom Cards. SmashUps from American Greetings can help prioritize love and romance any day of the year. There are SmashUps specifically for Valentine’s Day, with romantic messages from celebrities like Michael Bolton and Smokey Robinson. However, these ecards aren’t just for couples on Valentine’s Day. There are plenty of options for love and friendship, like hilarious videos of talking dogs, cats and koalas. The customizable ecards let you send personalized messages to your boo, your bestie and your brother for a variety of holidays and occasions.

2. FaceTime. Couples who are separated by distance might have to settle for a candlelit FaceTime instead of the in-person dinner they had in mind. Luckily, romance in 2022 means technology can keep us connected, even when we’re apart. If you’re celebrating from a distance this Valentine’s Day, consider shipping gifts to your significant other or gal pals and opening them together while you’re on a video call, or make the same recipe and eat it together on FaceTime.

3. Swipe Left. Many modern-day love stories start with a simple swipe to the left on a dating app. If you’re hoping to meet new people but aren’t sure where to begin, consider having some fun with online dating apps like Bumble, Hinge and Tinder. They’re not just for those looking for love. Many have friendship features, like Bumble BFF, which works the same way, but connects you with others looking for friendships too. This can be particularly useful for those who are moving to new cities, seeking roommates, or looking to network with others who are around the same age or share similar interests.

4. Did Someone Say Galentine’s Day? Originally created by fictional character Leslie Knope in the television series “Parks and Recreation,” Galentine’s Day is all about female friendships and the laughter, joy and support they bring to our lives.

Galentine’s Day can be spent as simply or elaborately as you please. Some gals might get together to exchange gifts of candles and fuzzy socks for the occasion, while others might have a glass of wine and gossip over a charcuterie board. For some, the holiday may just be a reason to call your friends and check in on them. Single or taken, Galentine’s Day is a reminder to glorify your girl gang.

5. Self-Care. Being alone on Valentine’s Day can feel a little lonely, but the day doesn’t have to be painful. If you’re spending it on your own, plan a day at the spa, take a group workout class or cook yourself your favorite meal. Self-care is the perfect way to honor the strong and independent person you are.

Romance in 2022 can be dinners for two with flowers and chocolate, but it can also be celebrating the mystery and magic of an ordinary day with a custom ecard, dinner with gal pals, or spending time doing things you enjoy on our own.


Tell us about your most memorable
Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and The Sentinel would like share your story of your most romantic Valentine's Day ever. Send us your story in 1,500 words or less for consideration in our daily upcoming V-Day vignettes starting February 7. We don't want Cupid's little tushy to blush so keep the stories PG and family friendly.

Send your submission to editor@oursentinel.com by February 4, 2022, for consideration.

Photo-of-the-Day: January 7, 2022

Unity sophomore Addison Ray
Looking for a win
Unity's Addison Ray looks for a path to the paint in her team's home game against Clinton in November. The Rockets dropped the home game 38-20 to the Maroons. Up next, Unity hosts the Tuscola Warriors tomorrow afternoon at 12:30p, hits the road to Champaign to take on St. Thomas More on Monday, and will back at home on Thursday against Rantoul. See more photos from this game.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks


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Area COVID-19 Dashboard for January 7, 2022

Two additional Covid-19 deaths were reported on the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District website today. The total number of deaths this month blamed on the Coronavirus moves up to seven. Thus far, the county has lost five male and two female residents, all over the age of 50, to the respiratory disease.

Departing from the previous 10-day isolation protocol, the CDC recommends if you test positive for Covid-19 to stay home for five days in isolation. If you have no symptoms or your symptoms have decrease after five days, you can leave isolation but continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days to prevent spreading the virus to others in the community. If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever goes away.

"The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society. CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses," said Dr. Rochelle Walenskym, Director of the CDC, in a statement released earlier this week. "These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather."


Active Champaign County Cases:

6,669

Net change in the county: +503



Current local cases 1/7/22
Number in parenthesis indicates new cases since 1/6/22

Ogden • 42 (3)
Royal • 4 (0)
St. Joseph • 210 (23)
Urbana • 2329 (225)
Sidney • 57 (10)
Philo • 67 (6)
Tolono • 170 (10)
Sadorus • 17 (2)
Pesotum • 23 (1)


Total Active Local Cases:

2,919

Net change in local cases: 194



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 16,637

New cases: +280


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

Henry and Moore perfect from the line at home game

TOLONO - The Unity girls basketball team return to action in 2022 posting a home win over Paxton-Buckley-Loda, 37-25.

Taylor Henry takes a shot

Taylor Henry takes shot in the Rockets' home game against Clinton in November. The senior just missed a double-double on Thursday night scoring 10 points and hauling in eight rebounds against visiting PBL.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
With the score at the intermission 12-11 in favor of the Rockets, both teams struggled to score in the first half. While the Panthers took the floor and continued to struggle, the Unity girls found their stride and outscored their opponent 25- 11.

Katey Moore walked away from the Illini Prairie Conference game with four blocks and nine rebounds for the Rockets. Draining all four of her free-throw attempts against the Panthers, the sophomore finished the night with 10 points.

She shared game-high scoring honors with senior Taylor Henry, who was 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. Henry was also credited with 2 steals along with eight boards in her 10-point finish.

Despite finishing with just four points, junior Lauren Miller tallied five steals and five rebounds for the Rockets.

Emily Robidoux and Lorena Arnett finished with five points apiece for Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

Box Score

Final: Unity 37 - Paxton-Buckley-Loda 25

  1 2 3 4 F
Unity 3 9 10 15 0
PBL 3 8 9 5 0

Unity --
Miller 2-2-4, Steinman 2-0-2, Stringer 4-0-8, Reed 3-0-3, Henry 4-6-10, Moore 6-4-10

Paxton-Buckley-Loda --
M. Johnson 2-0-2, T. Johnson 0-3-3, Arnett 3-2-5, Bruns 2-0-2, Frichtl 2-2-4, Rubidoux 5-0-5, Ecker 4-0-4


Wells has big night in SJO road victory

PONTIAC - Taylor Wells scored 12 of St. Joseph-Ogden's 39 first-half points in the Spartans' 57-23 conference basketball victory at Pontiac. The Mount Mercy University signee started the new year out with a game-high 14 points.

After a quiet first quarter, Truman State University recruit Ella Armstrong sprang into action contributing 12 points during the next three quarters of play for SJO.

Payton Jacob rounded out the Spartans' top three scorers with nine points.

Pontiac's scoring effort was led by Bailey Masching's 14 points.

Box Score

Final: St. Joseph-Ogden 47 - Pontiac 23

  1 2 3 4 F
SJO 19 20 9 9 57
Pontiac 9 8 4 2 23

St. Joseph-Ogden --
Lannert 8-0-8, Frick 0-2-2, Jacob 9-0-9, Wells 12-2-14, Jones 6-0-6, Hamilton 6-0-6, Armstrong 11-1-12

Pontiac --
Daily 2-1-3, Fisher 2-0-2, Masching 4-10-14, Pickett 4-0-4


Area COVID-19 Dashboard for January 6, 2022


Active Champaign County Cases:

6,166

Net change in the county: +429



Current local cases 1/6/22
Number in parenthesis indicates new cases since 1/5/22

Ogden • 40 (2)
Royal • 4 (0)
St. Joseph • 193 (22)
Urbana • 2179 (206)
Sidney • 48 (8)
Philo • 62 (8)
Tolono • 162 (20)
Sadorus • 15 (2)
Pesotum • 22 (1)


Total Active Local Cases:

2,725

Net change in local cases: 183



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 16,357

New cases: +269


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

Photo-of-the-Day: January 6, 2022

Andrew Beyers makes a diving catch for SJO
Got it!
Andrew Beyers makes a diving catching in St. Joseph-Ogden's baseball game against Charleston on April 29. The Spartans won the non-conference home contest, 3-0. The high school 2021-22 season officially starts on February 28 this year. See more photos from this game.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks


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Six Urbana high school students to receive MLK scholarship award

Ziniera Edwards

Urbana senior Ziniera Edwards take a shot for the Tigers from the free throw line during the Turkey Tournament in St. Joseph last November. She and five other Urbana seniors were named King Scholars this week.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
Urbana students Kiana Amindavar, Jamaica Dyer, Ziniera Edwards, Rema Salem, Jonathan Sanchez-Huanca and alternate Kevin Alvarado were named named recipients of the 37th Annual MLK Jr. "Living the Dream" Scholarships.

The six students and along with seniors from the Champaign and Rantoul Township, also known as King Scholars, will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to use at the college of their choice.

Scholarship winners are chosen based on their scholarship application, financial need, and a personal essay. Recipients can renew the award through four academic years as they pursue their undergraduate degrees.

The winners will be honored at The 21st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Countywide Celebration, a free event open to the general public, on January 16 starting at 5pm at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to enter the Krannert Center.

The scholarship fund is underwritten through tax-deductible donations from individuals, churches, synagogues, and businesses who want to transform young lives through education and public service.

Jamaica Dyer was also this year's Willie Summerville Memorial Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Bringing a little heat, delicious Jalapeño-Bacon popcorn

Photo: Popcorn Board

Ingredients

8 cups popped popcorn, hot

4 slices bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat skillet over medium-low heat; cook bacon for 5 to 8 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Wipe pan with paper towel.
  2. Add butter, jalapeños and salt to pan; cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 inutes or until jalapeños are very tender.
  3. In large bowl, toss together hot popped popcorn, bacon, jalapeños, and Parmesan, if using.

Tips:

  1. Substitute butter with olive oil or a small amount of the bacon fat
  2. Omit 1 jalapeño pepper for less spice.

Deadline to apply for the Illinois Rental Payment Program this Sunday

The application portal for The Illinois Rental Payment Program will close this Sunday, January 9, 2022 at 11:59pm. Applicants are eligible to up to $25,000 in emergency funding. Renters may also receive 18 months of emergency rental payments.

The progam is limited and the IHDA plans to distribute available funds to households who have been unemployed for more than 90 days and individuals earning less than 50% of their area median income. If you have experienced a financial hardship during or due, directly or indirectly, to the pandemic, you may be eligible for relief. Both renters and landlords may apply for available funds.

"Additional application periods may be announced in 2022," according to the IDHS website. "Please check IllinoisHousingHelp.org for future program announcements."

For more information on the Illinois Rental Payment Program, email ILRPP@IHDA.ORG or call (866) 454-3571.


Urbana H.S. makes temporary spectator policy change for basketball games

The Urbana High School Athletic Department announced on Wednesday restricted fan capacity for the next two home boys basketball games due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Champaign County.

This Friday's game against Peoria Notre Dame and next Tuesday's contest against Normal West, tickets will not be available to the general public.

Urbana athletes and players from visiting teams will be able to invite four guests according a post made on the #116 Twitter feed.

Both varsity games, as well as JV and freshman contests, are schedule for broadcast on the NFHS Network.

14-team Christie Clinic Shootout this Saturday at SJO

This Saturday, St. Joseph-Ogden High School will host the Christie Clinic Shootout at the high school. Admission to the event is just $5.00.

"We are really excited about this event," says St. Joseph-Ogden Athletic Director Justin Franzen. "This will be a great day to watch basketball at St. Joseph-Ogden High School."

There will be seven varsity basketball games in the Main Gym at the high school and seven junior varsity contests in the school's practice gym starting at 11am.

The final varsity contest of the day will pit SJO vs Tuscola. Prep basketball fans will have a chance to see the Spartans' heavily recruited junior Ty Pence and Tuscola point guard and Loyola commit Jalen Quinn, who has more than 1,600 career points with the Warriors. Pence cleared the 1K mark last month at the State Farm Classic where the Spartan basketball team finished in 4th place.

Below are the schedule and times for Saturday games.

2022 Christie Clinic Shootout


Varsity Schedule

11:00 AM: Greenville vs. PBL
12:30 PM: Eastland Lanark vs. BHRA
2:00 PM: Streator vs. Mahomet-Seymour
3:30 PM: Washington vs. Champaign Centennial
5:00 PM: Manteno vs. Monticello
6:30 PM: Oak Lawn vs. Normal Community
8:00 PM: Tuscola vs. St. Joseph-Ogden


Junior Varsity Schedule

9:00 AM: St. Joseph-Ogden vs. PBL
10:30 AM: Eastland Lanark vs. BHRA
12:00 PM: Streator vs. Mahomet-Seymour
1:30 PM: Washington vs. Champaign Centennial
3:00 PM: Manteno vs. Monticello
4:30 PM: Oak Lawn vs. Normal Community
6:00 PM: Tuscola vs. St. Joseph-Ogden


Unity Junior High 2nd quarter Honor Roll


Yesterday, Unity Junior High School announced the names of students who achieved honor roll and high honor roll status during the second quarter. Congratulations to the students who earned the requisite grade point average to celebrate the honor.


6th Grade Honor Roll

Joseph William Willard Baird
Beckam Krystopher-Wayde Brown
Brayden Michael Burke
Madison Grace Castor
Garrisan Martin Cler
Shamya Merari Davis
Andrew Patrick Donovan
Kinzey Nicole Duitsman
Dillon Michael Ellars
Nolan Myles Elliott
Haley Elizabeth Ennis
Shae Lin Fournier
Peyton Leanne Goyne
Hallie Lynn Handal
McKenzie Kathryn Heiple
Brooke Raelynn Henson
Eve Oksana Isberg
Karleigh Grace Jamison
Jax Hunter Logsdon
Tysen Mac McConaha
Clint Michael McCormick
Larissa Marie Parr
Kandace Lachelle Reed
Mia Lynn Reifsteck
Journee Lynn Ring
Lillian Yvonne Ring
Riley May Schendel
Caleb Joshua Siegwald
Bradley Scott Jr Smith
Kole David VanSickle
Gavin James Warren
Sawyer Allen Franks Weller
Adilynn Michelle Wilson


6th Grade High Honor Roll

Cameron Barnes
Patrick Benjamin Baxley
Cooper Charles Beckett
Brilynn Creola Cain
Sadie Jo Carpenter
Jackson Christopher Cheely
Skyler Andrew Chilton
Soren Lovell Davis
Kaylee Grace Estes
Carson David Fairbanks
Reagan Elizabeth Lisle Fisher
Mackinzee Brooke Gumm
Jordan Stephen Harmon
Roman James Hastings
Tessa Lynn Horn
Lincoln Banner Johnson
Joseph Brooks Kamradt
Tatum Anne Kirby
Bryan Michael Kleiss
Nolan Mark Tempel Meharry
Dalton Robert Moose
Rhianna Olivia Ocasio
Khison Able Reifsteck
Caleb Arthur Saxon
Carter Charles Schmid
Sophia Grace Seidlitz
Lillie Jean Vanderpool
John William White
Austin James Wiersema
Olivia Ann Williams
Reece Earl Winfrey
Olivia Ruth Witheft


7th Grade Honor Roll

Andrew David Berkey
Wyatt Leon Blanchard
Paige Nicole Bradley
Maddix Jacob David Briggs
Aelyas Brito
Braedyn Lucas Dalton
Addison Tyler Davis
Austin Michael Drewes
Ava Nicole Grace
Olivia Ashlyn Hall
Dustin Rose Harris
Ava Fay Jones
Rush Matthew Little
Carson Wesley McCune
Audrey Claire McDaniel
Sadie Jane Polonus
Evan Alexander Puckett
Malakai Roth
Alyssa Renae Shields
Gabrielle Marie Spanglo
Madison Amanda Spohn
Jacob Michael Ward
Maggie Jean Weckle
Tayleigh Sue Wilson
Addison Danielle Wyatt


7th Grade High Honor Roll

Grace Michele Bickers
Alex Martin Bromley
Clare Faustina Bryant
Brody Ray Butler
Ronin Carman
Cadence Marie Chandler
Berkley Jane Cloud
Caleb Benjamin Coy
Hudson Lee DeHart
Danika Ann Eisenmenger
Allison Renee Fenter
Reese Bella Frye
Journey Maddison Gabbard
Bailee Mae Gadeken
Walker Dale Hall
Colton Ray Harmon
Broderick Wayne Irwin
Avery Nicole Kamradt
Kathryn Clara Knoll
Cash Cohen McCann
Landrey Michelle Mohr
Brooklyn Marie Mumm
Nicole Elizabeth Paeth
Adam Lucas Reedy
Max Warren Rossi
Ethan Daniel Schaefer
Lane Edward Sexton
Allyson Lynn Shaw
Isaac Benjamin Siegwald
Evalyn Alexandra Skibbe
Piper Estelle Staley
Grace Lynne Tempel
Leah Marianne Watson
Elizabeth Johnna Wayne
Grace Ann Wherley
Rylan Kade Wolf
Kendal Lea Zerrusen


8th Grade Honor Roll

Andrew Kenneth Bryan
Maddix Buchanan
Cameryn Dayle Cobb
Chloe Noelle Cousins
Taylor Renee Daly
Annaliese Birtukan DeNeal
Crewe William Gene Eckstein
Olivia Breann Egelston
Tanner Elizabeth Gallivan
Samantha Nicole Gumbel
Kenley Jo Harris
Joshua Todd Heath
Brayden Jonathon Henry
Tyler Jason Henry
William Robert Hoggard
Lucas Alexander Hood
Tyler Reed Huntington
Cameron Elise Kaiser
Anna Maeve Kuhns
Coleton James Langendorf
Johanna Ilene Langley
Isabelle Joy Levingston
Sade Jean Lybarger
Maxwell Cort McCabe
Travis Lane McCarter
Coleson Thomas Miller
Phoenix Sky Molina
Leah Jolynn Nickle
Brody Michael Osterbur
Dallas Jordan Porter
Kyla Lanae Reed
Theda Marva Roether
Connor Charles Sheppard
Lauren Patricia Stratton
Heath Edward Stringer
Tyler Jackson Styan
Maddix Douglas Sutherland
Ian John Taber
Olivia Danielle Tempel
Sophia Louise Jean Toney
Anna Vasey
Evan Eugene Vlahovich
Desmond Mychel Winfrey


8th Grade High Honor Roll

Anna Carolyn Amias
Aria Eve Battaglia
Mylie Lynn Castle
Kaylee Marie Cooke
Eli Samson Crowe
Chason Robert Daly
Ella Jean Darnall
Dane Robert Eisenmenger
Callie Marie Ellars
Camden Michael Fairbanks
Margaret Rose Garcier
Collin William Graven
Isabel Grace Grob
Brooke Autumn Hartman
Caden Maddox Hensch
Logan Phillip Jeurissen
Miles Kennedy Johnson
Faith Lyn Lampe
Kallista Jean Lancaster
Mylie Emily Margaret Loftsgaard
Claire Lynn Meharry
Ethan Lee Mohr
Deakin Frederick Moore
Isaac Julian Neverman
Mason Robert ONeill
Harry Matthew Polonus
Mackenzie Rose Pound
Ty Steven Rodems
Katie Marie Ruggieri
Jillian Brooke Schlittler
Vanna Lee Schriefer
Liana Grace Sheets
Hunter JamesShike
Shelby Lynn Smith
Caden Alexander Stierwalt
Ginna Mae Stierwalt
Madelyn Rose Stierwalt
Emma Marie Swisher
Bailey Nicole Tompkins
Alexander Lane Wells
Paula Louise Wilson
Claire Morgan Zorns

Editorial: Illinois two-year foreign language requirement in high school is too late

Almost a year ago, the Illinois General Assembly passed an education bill sponsored by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus during the Lame Duck session that includes three new course requirements needed for graduation from Illinois high schools. The area of studies in House Bill 2170, Amendment 3, which was introduced by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, includes two years of foreign language classes and two in laboratory science course work.

The new law gives schools until the 2024-2025 school year to offer the required science lab classes and gives districts until the 2028-2029 school year to begin their foreign language instructions. Both laboratory science and a foreign language will be required for high school graduation. There was some discussion that dates for the language requirement could be pushed forward as early as 2024.

The seemingly popular rationale for the change was the University of Illinois requires two years of a foreign language for admission. That's all well and good, but the bulk of in-state college-bound students won't be going to the U of I.

Checking around the state, students don't need a language class to get into other state schools.

Illinois State University gives applicants a choice of two years of one foreign language or two years of fine arts classes. High school foreign language is not a requirement for admissions at Western Illinois University. Students can have two years of art, film, music, speech, theatre, journalism, religion, philosophy, and vocational education on their transcript instead. Southern Illinois University mirrors WIU's requirements with art, music, or vocational education. If a foreign language is taken, both WIU and SIU say applicants must complete two semesters of the same language.

Some members of the Illinois State Board of Education pushed back against the new requirements, as they should have, particularly the one on foreign language.

If the law and policymakers really wanted more students to attend Illinois' flagship university, they should pass a bill abolishing it as an entrance requirement. The University's entrance requirement could simply match those of the other state-funded higher education institutions.

Then again, the lack of foreign language education could make most Illinois students undesirable in several career fields.

Instead, the ISBE and state lawmakers need to require language learning at a much earlier in the educational cycle where research shows when language acquisition is much easier.

"What's the best time to teach a foreign language? It is not high school," Board member Christine Benson told NPR. "What’s the second worst time to teach a foreign language? It’s junior high. [Lawmakers] did no research on this, they just added it on."

She is right: High school or junior high is not the best time to learn a foreign language. The only reason to require students to take two years of foreign language in high school is to inflict unnecessary academic torture. For many students around the state, their first exposure to another language other than English is in their first high school language class.

In Russia, Norway and Japan, learning a second language, usually English, is mandatory in the 5th grade. The same is true in Germany and Japan. In Switzerland, after starting German or French two years earlier in the 3rd grade, 5th grade students also start learning the English language.

The U.S. with Illinois leading the way should match the educational standards in other industrialized nations. Studying a second or third language earlier in their academic career will enable them as adults to meet the challenges in international business, national defense, and world politics to make America great again.

Area COVID-19 Dashboard for January 5, 2022

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District announced four deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two males and two females, all over the age of 40, are the latest victims. Two of the deceased were from Urbana, one from Mahomet and one from St. Joseph.

There are now 5,737 individuals required to isolate under the CDC's current guidance that began on December 26. ** Under the previous 10-day rule, there would be 6,935 residents required to stay at home.


Active Champaign County Cases:

5,737

Net change in the county: 602

**Total that should be insolated: 6,935



Current local cases 1/5/22
Number in parenthesis indicates new cases since 1/4/22

Ogden • 40 (5)
Royal • 4 (1)
St. Joseph • 178 (48)
Urbana • 2,040 (323)
Sidney • 43 (4)
Philo • 57 (15)
Tolono • 145 (12)
Sadorus • 13 (3)
Pesotum • 22 (6)


Total Active Local Cases:

2,542

Net change in local cases: 286



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 16,088

New cases: 417


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

** "Total that should be insolated" is our best estimate of the number of people who would be in isolation under the CDC's 10-day isolation requirement in place prior to December 26. Current CDC policy states that anyone testing positive is required to isolate for just five days.

** Publisher's Note / January 6: After careful consideration of the data used to determine these figures appear to be inaccurate. The Sentinel is modifying the methodology used to determine the number of individuals that would be in isolation under the CDC guidelines prior to December 27, 2021.

ViewPoint | When removing the president is not enough

Congress can remove a president, though it has never done so, it cannot remove the administration that a cognitively impaired president installed.

Less than a year into the Biden presidency the electorate’s remorse is palpable. The president’s approval rating has fallen from 57% to 38%, the largest decline for a first-year president since World War II. The vice-president fares even worse with a historically low approval rating of 28%. Seventy-one percent of the American people now believe the country is on the wrong track. Mr. Biden’s oft-repeated campaign promise of serving as a moderate president was dead on arrival. It is clear that he is neither physically nor intellectually capable of holding the line against the progressives that have seized control of his administration.

That the president’s judgement is suspect is not a debatable proposition. His "open-borders" policy is hugely unpopular and presumptively unconstitutional under Article IV, Section 4 that protects the states "against invasion." The administration has effectively ceded control of the southern border to the Mexican cartels.

The litany of disastrous policy decisions by this administration defies comprehension.

These include an ill-fated retreat from Afghanistan that left hundreds of Americans stranded and thirteen military service personnel dead, a proposal to eliminate cash bail to promote gender-equity, shutting down domestic pipelines while pleading with OPEC to increase oil supplies, propagating the highest inflation in almost four decades, and consideration of reparations payments of up to $450,000 per family member separated upon illegally crossing the southern border.

By comparison, the families of U.S. military service personnel killed in action receive only $100,000. The president ordered vaccine mandates that have effectively ended the careers of military personnel while placing the livelihoods of countless Americans in jeopardy. The courts may be the only hope for restoring rationality.

We have lost credibility on the world stage. Our allies no longer trust us and our adversaries no longer fear us. This is what an existential threat looks like.

The president can be removed from office upon impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate under Article I, Sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution. In Federalist 65, Alexander Hamilton admonished that the problem with impeachment is that it is more political than judicious. "[T]here will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt." Mr. Hamilton was prescient. History confirms that an act by the president may be impeachable when the other political party controls both houses of Congress, but not otherwise.

The problem is that while the Congress can remove a president, though it has never done so, it cannot remove the administration that a cognitively impaired president installed. An implicit assumption in the Constitution is that the president is sufficiently competent to choose a vice-president and cabinet secretaries capable of governing in his absence. If this is not the case, the removal of the president would fall short of restoring competent governance to the executive branch.

An alternative that merits serious consideration is a constitutional amendment (or supplement to the 25th amendment) that would collectively remove the president, the vice-president and the cabinet with a vote of no confidence. The process is similar to that in a parliamentary system except that it would be decided by the electorate rather than legislators. A stipulated percentage of eligible voters would sign a petition in support of the vote of no confidence. The threshold number of signatures would be set at a high level out of deference to the office and recognition that this option should be reserved for only the most egregious cases of administration ineptitude. Once the threshold is reached and the signatures authenticated a new election would be held.

Lest this proposal be dismissed as too extreme, that removing the president would suffice, we need only consider the country’s prospects over the next 3 years under the leadership of President Kamala Harris.

Quod Erat Demonstradum.


Dr. Weisman is Professor of Economics Emeritus at Kansas State University. He has been published in Yale Journal on Regulation Bulletin, The Electricity Journal, International Review of Economics Education, and Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. His research has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Viewpoint: The most effective and powerful scientific theory is an enigma

What keeps you busy when you are bored of your everyday school curriculum? Maybe video games, books, some fun hobbies; great! One such thing that I find to be very fascinating is Theoretical physics, not the calculations as they are far beyond my scope, but the theories and speculations about everything: from the tiniest ‘quark’ to the most massive ‘universe and beyond’.

I’ve always been curious about the origin and the end of everything around me and beyond. Where did the universe come from? Will it come to an end? Are the fundamental particles, constituting matter, further divisible?

These questions would keep me captivated for hours on end. I decided to dig deep inside this world of mind-boggling possibilities, so I bought a few books by some bestselling authors of theoretical physics which include Michio Kaku, Stephen Hawking, Sean Carroll, and Carlo Rovelli. Those books made me wonder if I’d, one day, be able to find out what physicists now are trying to find: a Theory of Everything.

Well, a Theory of Everything is a theory, several inches long, which would probably describe the origin and fate of everything. Quantum mechanics and Relativity are probably the two giants of theoretical physics most common in debate among physicists.

Quantum physics is the prevalent theory of the microscopic world, which describes the atoms and molecules, the fundamental forces, and the subatomic realm. Whereas, relativity on the other hand begins to answer the questions such as: Is there a beginning and end of time? Where is the farthest point in the universe? What happened at the creation? Etc.

Now, to achieve a theory of everything would mean to merge these two supreme yet opposite theories. Is it a huge task? Yes, it is. Why?

Einstein in his theory of general relativity described gravity, not as a force at all but the bending of space-time caused by the presence of matter-energy. His theory of special relativity states that light always moves at the same speed regardless of perspective or reference frame. If this is the case, then it means that the speed of light in the presence of gravity will be the same as its speed in space. Since space-time is bent by gravity, the distance between two points in the presence of gravity would be a curve.

For light to travel with the same speed, as it will do in space, time itself will slow down, distorting time.

Despite that relativity describes how gravity works so perfectly, it is still incomplete. It predicts regions of space where space-time can get so distorted that nothing can escape including light: a black hole. Within the black hole lies a mass concentrated to an infinitely small point with infinite density, called a singularity. Here, even the laws of general relativity break down. To figure out what happens in such infinitely small regions we need the study of the very small: Quantum mechanics.

But Alas! The equations of quantum mechanics make no sense in terms of singularity or general relativity. At the microscopic level, the force of gravity is so weak that it barely has any effect on any single subatomic particle. Also, physicists find it difficult to incorporate general relativity into the microscopic world. But loopholes are not acceptable in a theory of everything.

As of now, the search for a unified theory of everything is still on.

I write this as a premature aspirant of physics, all these being based on only what I now know. You might think what led me to write all this. Science, as we all know, is subtle and complex. The fact that anyone and everyone can very precisely understand it is unbelievable.

People are often afraid of the complexities. But as we look into this abyss, we find a very beautiful interior decorated with some astounding achievements. We ought to complete what they had left for us to complete. Do you know what describes us as children? Curiosity.

Our curiosity to know things, determination to stick to a thing until achieved and our imagination are the qualities that make all of us scientists. We children are the future. If we are interested, then we can surely achieve it!


Prinistha Borah is 9th grade student at Kristo Jyoti High School in Bokakhat, Assam. Her dream is to attend college at MIT, Oxford University or the University of California Los Angles. "I want to be a theoretical physicist in future and I want to know the secrets of the physical world around me."

Area COVID-19 Dashboard for January 4, 2022

Today, the Champaign County Public Health District list 5,135 individuals who are, or should be, in isolation for five days after testing positive for Covid-19. ** Under the 10-day rule before last week's new CDC guidelines, that number would be 975 higher to include those who tested positive between 6-10 days ago. For readers who want to stay informed with a more accurate assessment of the positivity in the county, we've added another data point that indicates the number that should be insolation.


Active Champaign County Cases:

5,135

Net change in the county: 181

** Total that should be isolated: 6,110



Current local cases 1/4/22
Number in parenthesis indicates new cases since 1/3/22

Ogden • 38 (8)
Royal • 3 (1)
St. Joseph • 147 (12)
Urbana • 1,814 (239)
Sidney • 40 (2)
Philo • 45 (4)
Tolono • 142 (17)
Sadorus • 11 (0)
Pesotum • 16 (3)


Total Active Local Cases:

2,256

Net change in local cases: 103



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 15,671

New cases: 286


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

** Publisher's Note / January 6: After careful consideration of the data used to determine these figures appear to be inaccurate. The Sentinel is modifying the methodology used to determine the number of individuals that would be in isolation under the CDC guidelines prior to December 27, 2021.

Photo-of-the-Day: January 4, 2022

Unity's Taylor Joop at bat
Putting the ball in play
Senior Taylor Joop takes a swing at a Westville pitch during Unity's home game on April 27, 2021. The Rockets, who would later finished the season in fourth-place at Class 2A state finals, shutout the Tigers, 6-0. See more photos from this game.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks


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Area COVID-19 Dashboard for January 3, 2022


Active Champaign County Cases:

4,954

Net change in the county: -49



Current local cases 1/3/22
Number in parenthesis indicates change over previous report on 1/2/21

Ogden • 30 (4)
Royal • 3 (1)
St. Joseph • 145 (7)
Urbana • 1,728 (101)
Sidney • 39 (4)
Philo • 43 (1)
Tolono • 137 (2)
Sadorus • 15 (1)
Pesotum • 13 (0)


Total Active Local Cases:

2,153

Net change in local cases: -14



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 15,385

New cases: 121


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

K-Tels, Mango Pods along with Sean Kutzko & Friends play at the Rose Bowl this week

The Rose Bowl Tavern is the quintessential and longest-running entertainment hotspot in downtown Urbana. Open since 1946 and under new ownership since 2019, the bar now offers live shows across several genres. While you may catch a country or Bluegrass performance a couple of times a week, the Rose Bowl now offers regular jazz shows, jam sessions and a comedy open mike night. Located at 106 N Race Street, there's plenty of free parking after 5pm in the city lot just outside the side entrance on the north side of the building.

Here's this week's live entertainment line-up:

For more information on upcoming shows, special hours and promotions, visit their website at www.rosebowltavern.com and on Facebook at @RoseBowlTavern.

Listening is important, Coping with the stress of social and academic struggles

The first semester of school brought its share of challenges as students and educators readjusted to in-person learning environments. As classes began, it became clear that two interrupted years left many youth falling behind in academics and social learning skills.

A lack of face-to-face interaction and an increased dependence on less-personal virtual learning hindered the development of social skills critical for these formative years. In addition, the stress of changing learning environments made it more difficult for young students to learn or retain as much information. High school students focused on college preparation may have felt added stress of not meeting personal academic expectations or scoring as high on the SAT as the would have liked.

Beyond the classroom, developing adolescent minds may have struggled to process the constant stream of harsh political conversations and news headlines that flooded social media feeds.

"All kids are behind to some extent because they all have experienced the pandemic’s impact in some way," said Rosecrance Central Illinois Director of Substance Use Treatment Carol Bradford. "They need to be reminded that we are all going through this together, including their teachers. Knowing they are not alone will help them, and really all of us, put life in a healthy perspective to face whatever each day brings."

As the spring semester kicks off, adults who are concerned about youth in their lives are encouraged to watch for irritability. That is one of the most common symptoms of struggling youth because they may not have developed the language to effectively articulate feelings and thoughts. Adults also can watch for isolating behaviors, lack of enthusiasm for usual things in life, and excessive acting out or arguing at home or school.

Listening also is important. When youth feel they are heard by a safe adult, they will be more likely to share what they are going through.

Also, recognize resilience. When a teen handles a difficult situation well or bounces back from a disappointment, let them know you saw the success.

Then, begin this semester with healthy structure and routine. Proper rest, nutrition, and exercise will equip the teen with foundational supports for success the rest of the year.

Last, if you sense your child needs help, contact a school counselor, social worker, or teacher. They are as concerned for the child’s wellbeing as you, and they have resources to help. Rosecrance works with schools in the Champaign area to provide assessment and intervention services, as well as a full continuum of care.

Guest Commentary: Develop a plan for 2022

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


Proverbs 29.18 "Where there is no vision the people perish. "Everyone needs a strategy. You may be 25 or 85 years in age. Who cares? Probably the only one who cares about your age is you. Your age either tells you that you are too young or too old. Remember, age is only a number. We have to put numbers aside and go with our hearts. If God is in it then don't worry about the number.

What do you want to do? One of the ways to know the will of God is to determine what we believe we would enjoy doing. The will of God is what we would determine to do if we just had enough sense. We will never rise above what we do not want to do. If we want to do something our chances of success are greater.

What is stopping you? Consider your life and where you want to be and determine the blockades. Sometimes the greatest blockade is the decision to move forward. Until we make that decision we aren't going anywhere. Once we know then we can assemble what is required to reach our destination.

Learn from the past and put it behind you. Past failures often eliminate us from life participation. We remember when we failed. A life that is fearful usually accomplishes far less than the life that has faith and confidence. Fear freezes us in our tracks.

Who are you today? Who you are and the direction you are going is far more important than where you have been. You can't change the past but you can steer your life in a new direction.

Develop a life action plan. Why not plan a strategy for the next six months and even the next year? You and God can determine where you will be. Start today!


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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 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.


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Spend the evening with Mexican Gothic author Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Urbana Free Library will host "An Evening with Silvia Moreno-Garcia" on Wednesday, January 26. Moreno-Garcia, who is a columnist for The Washington Post, is the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow. The book won the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic and Ignyte Award.

She also won several awards, including Locus Award, British Fantasy Award, Pacific Northwest Book Award, Aurora Award, and the Goodreads Award, for her gothic horror story about a woman whose cousin believes her husband is trying to kill her. Set in the 1950s, Mexican Gothic the lead character navigates family obligations, secrets, and greed.

Velvet Was the Night, her newest release, was published in August of last year.

Also in the Zoom meeting with Moreno-Garcia will be Gus Moreno, author of This Thing Between Us. The online talk and discussion begin at 7pm. For more information and a zoom invite contact the Urbana Free Library at (217) 367-4057.

Photo-of-the-Day: January 3, 2022

Shayne Immke and Rachel Divan go up for a block
SJO volleyball season ends at sectionals
Spartans' Shayne Immke and Rachel Divan try to block a kill attempt by Pleasant Plain's Lauren Buxton during their sectional semifinal at Monticello High School on November 1. St. Joseph-Ogden (23-5) won the first set 25-17 but dropped the last two to the eventual state runner-up Cardinals (34-6), 25-20 and 25-21. The 2-1 loss ended SJO's 2021 run for the program's third state final four appearance. See more photos from this game.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks


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Amazon lures low-wage workers from nursing home industry with prime packages

Matthew Henry/Burst

The sleek corporate offices of one of Amazon’s air freight contractors looms over Villaspring of Erlanger, a stately nursing home perched on a hillside in this Cincinnati suburb. Amazon Prime Air cargo planes departing from a recently opened Amazon Air Hub roar overhead. Its Prime semi-trucks speed along the highway, rumbling the nursing home’s windows.

This is daily life in the shadow of Amazon.

“We haven’t even seen the worst of it yet,” said John Muller, chief operating officer of Carespring, Villaspring’s operator. “They are still finishing the Air Hub.”

Amazon’s ambitious expansion plans in northern Kentucky, including the $1.5 billion, 600-acre site that will serve as a nerve center for Amazon’s domestic air cargo operations, have stoked anxieties among nursing home administrators in a region where the unemployment rate is just 3%. Already buckling from an exodus of pandemic-weary health care workers, nursing homes are losing entry-level nurses, dietary aides and housekeepers drawn to better-paying jobs at Amazon.

The average starting pay for an entry-level position at Amazon warehouses and cargo hubs is more than $18 an hour, with the possibility of as much as $22.50 an hour and a $3,000 signing bonus, depending on location and shift. Full-time jobs with the company come with health benefits, 401(k)s and parental leave. By contrast, even with many states providing a temporary covid-19 bonus for workers at long-term care facilities, lower-skilled nursing home positions typically pay closer to $15 an hour, often with minimal sick leave or benefits.

Nursing home administrators contend they are unable to match Amazon’s hourly wage scales because they rely on modest reimbursement rates set by Medicaid, the government program that pays for long-term care.

Across the region, nursing home administrators have shut down wings and refused new residents, irking families and making it more difficult for hospitals to discharge patients into long-term care. Modest pay raises have yet to rival Amazon’s rich benefits package or counter skepticism about the benefits of a nursing career for a younger generation.

“Amazon pays $25 an hour,” said Danielle Geoghegan, business manager at Green Meadows Health Care Center in Mount Washington, Kentucky, a nursing home that has lost workers to the Amazon facility in Shepherdsville. The alternative? “They come here and deal with people’s bodily fluids.”

The nursing home industry has long employed high school graduates to feed, bathe, toilet and tend to dependent and disabled seniors. But facilities that sit near Amazon’s colossal distribution centers are outgunned in the bidding war.

“Chick-fil-A can raise their prices,” said Betsy Johnson, president of the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities. “We can’t pass the costs on to our customer. The payer of the service is the government, and the government sets the rates.”

And while gripes about fast-food restaurants having to close indoor dining because of a worker shortage have ricocheted around Kentucky, Johnson said nursing homes must remain open every day, every hour of the year.

“We can’t say, ‘This row of residents won’t get any services today,’” she said.

Reaching Upstream

Nationwide, long-term care facilities are down 221,000 jobs since March 2020, according to a recent report from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, an organization that represents 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities caring for 5 million people. While many hospitals and physicians’ offices have managed to replenish staffing levels, the report says long-term care facilities are suffering a labor crisis worse “than any other health care sector.” Industry surveys show 58% of nursing homes have limited new admissions, citing a dearth of employees.

Kentucky and other states are relying on free or low-cost government-sponsored training programs to fill the pipeline with new talent. Luring recruits falls to teachers like Jimmy Gilvin, a nurse’s aide instructor at Gateway Community and Technical College in Covington, Kentucky, one of the distressed River Cities tucked along the Ohio River.

On a recent morning, Gilvin stood over a medical dummy tucked into a hospital bed, surrounded by teenagers and young adults, each toting a “Long-Term Care Nursing Assistance” textbook. Gilvin held a toothbrush and toothpaste, demonstrating how to clean a patient’s dentures — “If someone feels clean, they feel better,” he said — and how to roll unconscious patients onto their side.

The curriculum covers the practical aspects of working in a nursing home: bed-making, catheter care, using a bedpan and transferring residents from a wheelchair to a bed.

“It takes a very special person to be a certified nursing assistant,” Gilvin said. “It’s a hard job, but it’s a needed job.”

Over the past five years, Gilvin has noticed sharp attrition: “Most of them are not even finishing, they’re going to a different field.” In response, nursing schools are reaching further upstream, recruiting high school students who can attend classes and graduate from high school with a nurse’s aide certificate.

“We’re getting them at a younger age to spark interest in the health care pathways,” said Reva Stroud, coordinator of the health science technology and nurse’s aide programs at Gateway.

Stroud has watched, with optimism, the hourly rate for nurse’s aides rise from $9 an hour to around $15. But over the years that she’s directed the program, she said, fewer students are choosing to begin their careers as aides, a position vital to nursing home operations. Instead, they are choosing to work at Walmart, McDonald’s or Amazon.

“There is a lot of competition for less stress,” Stroud said. A staunch believer in the virtue of nursing, she is disheartened by the responses from students: “‘Well, I could go pack boxes and not have to worry about someone dying and make more money.’”

Even for those who want a career in nursing, becoming a picker and packer at Amazon carries strong appeal. The company covers 100% of tuition for nursing school, among other fields, and has contracted with community colleges to provide the schooling.

Amazon is putting Kayla Dennis, 30, through nursing school. She attended a nursing assistant class at Gateway but decided against a career as a nurse’s aide or certified nursing assistant. Instead, she works at the Amazon fulfillment center in Hebron, Kentucky, for $20.85 an hour with health insurance and retirement benefits while attending school to become a registered nurse, a position requiring far more training with high earning potential.

“Amazon is paying 100% of my school tuition and books,” Dennis said. “On top of that, they work around my school schedule.”

Waiting for a Rising Tide

The nursing home workforce shortages are not a top concern for the state and local economic development agencies that feverishly pursue deals with Amazon. Cities nationwide have offered billions of dollars in tax breaks, infrastructure upgrades and other incentives to score a site, and the spoils abound: Amazon has opened at least 250 warehouses this year alone.

Amazon has been a prominent force in northern Kentucky, resurfacing the landscape with titanic warehouses and prompting pay bumps at Walmart, fast-food franchises and other warehouse companies. The company has “made significant investments in our community,” said Lee Crume, chief executive officer of Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. “I’m hard-pressed to say something negative.”

Amazon representatives did not respond to interview requests for this story.

Some labor experts said Amazon’s “spillover effect” — the bidding up of wages near its hubs — suggests companies can afford to compensate workers at a higher rate without going out of business.

Clemens Noelke, a research scientist at Brandeis University, said that is true — to a point. Because Amazon draws workers indiscriminately from across the low-wage sector, rather than tapping into a specific skill profile, it is hitting sectors with wildly different abilities to adapt. Industries like nursing homes, home health care agencies and even public schools that rely on government funding and are hampered in raising wages are likely to lose out.

“There are some employers who are at the margin, and they will be pushed out of business,” Noelke said.

A survey conducted in November by the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities found 3 in 5 skilled nursing facilities, assisted living communities and care homes were concerned about closing given the number of job vacancies.

The solutions proffered by state legislators rely largely on nurse training programs already offered by community colleges like Gateway. Republican Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser, a registered nurse who chairs the state’s Health and Family Services Committee, said that while legislators must value health care jobs, “we have a finite number of dollars. If we increase salaries for one sector of the health care population, what are we going to cut?”

Moser said Kentucky’s bet on Amazon will pay off, eventually. “The more we inject into our economy, the more our Medicaid budget will grow,” she said.

That confidence in a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats approach frustrates Johnson, president of the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities. Lawmakers have difficulty grasping the complexity of financing a nursing home, she said, noting that Kentucky’s Medicaid reimbursement rates stagnated at a one-tenth of 1% increase for five years, before receiving a larger increase to offset inflation the past two years.

The Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act, still before Congress, would infuse billions of dollars into in-home care and community-based services for seniors, largely through federal Medicaid payments. It includes funding aimed at stimulating recruitment and training. But the measure is focused largely on expanding in-home care, and it’s not clear yet how it might affect nursing home pay rates.

For now, the feeding frenzy continues. Just off Interstate 65 in Shepherdsville, Wendy’s, White Castle and Frisch’s Big Boy dangle offers of “work today, get paid tomorrow.” FedEx signs along the grassy medians that once advertised $17 an hour are stickered over with a higher offer of $23. The colossal Amazon warehouse bustles with workers in yellow safety vests.

And in nearby Mount Washington, Sherrie Wathen, administrator of the Green Meadows nursing home, strains to fill a dozen vacancies, knowing she can’t match Amazon’s package for her entry-level slots. Instead, Wathen, who began her own nursing career at 18, tells prospective employees to consider life at a factory: “You’re going to have the same day over and over.”

At the nursing home, she said, “I am the only family this lady has. I get to make an impact rather than packing an item in a box.”

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Photo-of-the-Day: January 2, 2022

Nate Michael
Dribbling in his father footsteps
St. Joseph-Ogden's Nate Michael brings the ball down the court on the same floor that his father once did as a member of the Illinois basketball team at the State Farm Center on Saturday, December 7, 2013. The Spartans, who placed fourth in last year's state tournament in Class 2A, defeated the Sages 70-53 in the Centennial Shootout at the University of Illinois' State Farm Center. SJO improved to 3-0 on the season while Michael finished the game with 13 points and five steals. See more photos from this game.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks


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Who doesn't love Tiramisu? An 'easy' dip to take dessert to a new level

(Culinary.net) -- Do you know that moment when something sweet hits your taste buds and a smile instantly spreads across your face? It's almost magic to some. To others it's just simply bliss. After all, who doesn't love Tiramasu?

This week, try this simple, yet sophisticated dessert for an easy way to ensure smiles all around with hot chocolate for the kids, movie night with friends, or for light snack with a nightcap.



Photo provided by Culinary.net

Try this Easy Tiramisu Dip because whether you're relaxing at home, having a small get-together with friends or joining your annual family gathering virtually, this dip is sure to spread culinary cheer.

The recipe starts with "easy," and it holds true to its name. With a short list of ingredients and only a handful of instructions, this is something you can whip up (literally) in just a few moments. Also, using minimal tools in the kitchen is always a plus for at-home chefs. The only appliance needed to make this recipe is a mixer.

The outcome is fluffy, rich and sweet with a hint of espresso. It's not overpowering, however, so little ones or non-coffee lovers can still enjoy this delicious dip.

This is also a unique dessert because it can be served cool or chilled. If you are planning to take a sweet treat to a party this holiday season, this is nearly perfect. No oven time needed and simple to serve to kids and adults alike.

Serve with ladyfingers or fruit to bring that sweetness to a whole new level, and it's topped with a final sprinkle of cocoa powder to give it that extra appeal. You do eat with your eyes first after all.

Give this one a try and see the faces of your loved ones light up with joy this season. This creamy, tasty dip is sure to impress.

For more easy dessert recipes, visit Culinary.net.


Easy Tiramisu Dip
Servings: 4

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon espresso powder
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
wafers or fruit, for dipping

In medium bowl, whisk heavy whipping cream and espresso powder until blended.

In large bowl, use hand mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Add Mascarpone cheese and beat until combined. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating after each addition. Add vanilla extract; beat mixture. Add espresso mixture; beat until soft peaks form.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Spoon mixture into serving bowl. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. Serve with wafers or fruit.

Reach your 2022 goals with an ‘anti’ resolution list

Photo: Brodie Vissers/Burst
(NAPSI) —- As the world celebrates the new year, many will make an annual list of resolutions and goals, which often include improving overall health and fitness.

As we continue to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, improving overall health is front and center, more so than usual. However, according to the U.S. New Year’s Resolutions 2020 study conducted by YouGov, over half of those who set New Year’s resolutions can’t follow through. 

Luckily, exercise physiologist and Bowflex fitness advisor Tom Holland has a new approach to setting and reaching your health and fitness goals this year.

Focus on Anti-Resolutions 

Holland recommends turning the typical New Year’s resolutions list on its head by creating “anti-resolutions” to focus on what you’re not going to do. For example, instead of saying “I’m going to work out every day” or “eat only healthy foods,” resolve to not make excuses. This can take the focus off the broader goal and onto in-the-moment actions. The next time you plan to go the gym or cook a healthy meal, and you start to come up with reasons today’s not the day, you can remember your resolution to not make excuses. If you set unrealistic resolutions to transform your entire lifestyle all at once, it’s more difficult to take the necessary steps to get there. 

Most people have made excuses for not making a workout or sticking to a routine. This anti-resolution approach changes the focus from overly ambitious goals to a more subtle mindset shift.

To help you continue or take those first steps on your fitness journey, Holland also recommends connected fitness services and apps, such as the JRNY digital fitness platform. With the JRNY app, you can easily fit exercise into your schedule with a wide range of personalized, trainer-led workouts. JRNY is integrated with Bowflex cardio equipment, including stationary bikes and treadmills, and features off-product workouts such as HIIT, strength, yoga, stretch and Pilates, which can be accessed from a mobile device or tablet via the JRNY app. So many options means no more excuses. No matter your fitness level, goals or lifestyle, JRNY has exercise programs to help you stay motivated and active so you can make exercise a habit in your life. 

Determine What Works Best for You

Often people struggle to get started working out because they think they need to go to the gym all the time or sacrifice privacy, comfort and entertainment to see results. Holland notes that it’s important to not let trends, other people’s opinions or even your own preconceived notions get in the way. 

It’s easier than ever before to find a workout routine that aligns with your lifestyle. If going to the gym isn’t your speed, you could pick up a versatile fitness product such as a set of Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells or download the JRNY mobile app for access to hundreds of video workouts that can be done from the comfort of your own home—no expensive gym membership or commute required. 

If you find your motivation is dwindling, the Bowflex Max Total 16 is a great option that lets you do high-intensity, interval workouts at home while streaming your entertainment subscriptions including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Disney+. 

This new year, try a different approach to health and fitness resolutions by kicking the overly ambitious goals of the past to the side in favor of setting anti-resolutions instead. At the same time, take advantage of what today’s fitness technology has to offer to improve your odds of success and make this your year. 

Area COVID-19 Dashboard for January 2, 2022


Active Champaign County Cases:

5,003

Net change in the county: -157



Current local cases 1/2/22
Number in parenthesis indicates change over previous report on 1/1/21

Ogden • 28 (0)
Royal • 2 (0)
St. Joseph • 151 (6)
Urbana • 1739 (75)
Sidney • 38 (3)
Philo • 43 (4)
Tolono • 139 (13)
Sadorus • 14 (0)
Pesotum • 13 (1)


Total Active Local Cases:

2,167

Net change in local cases: -51



Total Local Confirmed Cases: 15,264

New cases: 102


The information on this page is compiled from the latest figures provide by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District at the time of publishing. Active cases are the number of confirmed cases reported currently in isolation. Local is defined as cases within the nine communities The Sentinel covers.

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