Radon is common in most homes and easy to fix

StatePoint -- Radon is present at high levels in a surprisingly large number of American homes, schools and other buildings. While this naturally-occurring gas is odorless, tasteless and colorless, it’s far from harmless. Experts are raising awareness about the serious health risks associated with radon exposure and what you can do about it.

"Elevated radon in homes is more common than you may think. In fact, at least one in 15 American homes have elevated levels of radon, and this is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States," says Albert Rizzo, M.D., chief medical officer for the American Lung Association. "The good news is that it is easy to test for radon. Do-it-yourself test kits are simple to use and inexpensive."

In an effort to eliminate this preventable lung cancer risk factor, protect all communities and buildings, and save lives, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with strategic partners like the American Lung Association, have launched a new five-year National Radon Action Plan. The campaign is sharing five important things to know about radon:

1. Radon exposure is life-threatening. Radon-related lung cancers are responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths annually in the United States.

2. Smoking and radon exposure can separately increase the risk of lung cancer. If you smoke, exposure to both tobacco and radon enhances the risk of lung cancer even further.

3. The only way to detect radon in your home is to test the air. The EPA urges anyone with radon levels above 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) to take action to fix their homes. Both the EPA and the American Lung Association recommend that mitigation be considered if levels are greater than 2 pCi/L. After high levels are detected and confirmed, a radon mitigation system should be installed by a radon professional.

4. Radon testing should always be done when you buy a home and after building a new home. Many states now require radon results (if known) to be disclosed during a real estate transaction. Some states require testing in priority buildings like schools and daycares.

5. When high levels of radon are detected, professional radon mitigation should be a priority. Do‑it‑yourself radon mitigation is typically not an effective long-term solution. Some state health departments offer financial assistance or low interest loans for radon mitigation.

Learn more about radon testing and mitigation at Lung.org/Radon.

While elevated radon is common, it is a problem that is easy to address. By finding, fixing and preventing high indoor radon levels, its health impacts are preventable.

Breaking ~ Illinois to go maskless on Feb. 28

CHICAGO -- With the spread of the Coronavirus and hospitalizations numbers going downward, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today the state's indoor mask mandate will come to an end at the end of this month.

"If these trends continue, and we expect them to, then on Monday, February 28, we will lift the indoor mask requirements for the State of Illinois," Pritzker said at his 2pm press conference in Chicago. Currently, Illinois is one of nine states that still required masks inside public places.

After the 28th, masking will then be optional in grocery stores, bars and restaurants, public buildings, and non-scholastic sporting events - vaccinated or not.

There will be some indoor areas and venues where masks will still be required until further notice.

  • Schools.
  • Day cares.
  • Health care facilities.
  • Congregate care facilities.
  • Public transportation, including buses, trains and airplanes.
  • Federal buildings in areas of high of substantial risk of transmission.
  • Long-term care facilities when in communal areas.
  • In businesses that privately require mask use.
  • When in municipalities, like cities or counties, that have mask mandates.
  • Local business and places of employment

As far as metrics to end the current mask mandate that started August 30 last year, the governor announced those earlier during the day in Champaign.

"My intention is as we've seen these numbers peak at about 7,400 hospitalizations, and heading downward significantly — we're now I think under 2,500 hospitalizations, so that's almost a third of where we were at the peak and heading even further downward — to lift the mask mandate in the indoor locations by February 28," he said at morningn news conference in the downstate college town.

Gov. Pritzker also said businesses and private organizations can enforce their own indoor mitigations, which includes wearing masks.

"I want to be clear, many local jurisdictions, many business and organizations have their own mask requirements and other mitigations that must be respected. Having stricter mitigations than the state requirements is something that must be adhere to. Doing what is right for your private business or for your local communities is encouraged.

"The lifting of the state's mask mandate should not invite people not wearing mask disuade those who chose to wear masks."

Wayback Wednesday: Rockets topple Comets to advance to 3A title game

Unity linemen Logan Sehie and Tyler Crowl point the way toward Memorial Stadium in Champaign where the Rockets will be playing on November 23. The Rockets defeated the Comets at home 56-21 advancing to the Class 3A championship game. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Rockets' Mitch Negangard runs through the game banner before the start of Unity's playoff game against the Greenville Comets on November 17, 2012. The 6'-1", 205-lb hard-hitting senior led the team during the season with 59 tackles heading into the title game.

Photo: PhotoNews Media

Greenville's Cameron Walker finds running room through the Unity defense in the first quarter of their semifinal playoff game.

Photo: PhotoNews Media


Left: Rockets' Micah Johnson tries to pull away from a Greenville tackler during second-quarter action. Johnson, who averaged 5.9 yards per carry, scored 14 TDs heading into the title game. Right: Unity's Mitch Negangard heads into the Greenville secondary during a second-quarter play. After the game, Negangard's season statistics boasted an impressive 947 yards on 94 carries with 12 touchdowns. Photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

After weaving his way past Greenville's Kerry Patrich and Dalton Kuhn, Unity's Justin Deters finds plenty of open grass through the Comets' defense in the second quarter. After his team's 13th game of the seaon and 183 carries, Deter's had amassed 1,272 rushing yards for the Rockets.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Mitch Negangard dives into the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter. Negangard scored twice as the Rockets during the 2012 semifinal.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Unity defense end Jared Abrahamson blows by Brett Mueller while playing defense in the first half.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Unity head coach Scott Hamilton gets his team's postgame victory celebration going after beating Greenville at Hicks Field. The Rockets played their final game of the season just 11 miles to the north at Memoral Stadium against Aurora Christian for the Class 3A title.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

2012 Season Schedule

Date Opponent W/L Own Opp
*8/24 Macon (Meridian)    W    59     6
*8/31 Maroa (M.-Forsyth)    W     7     6
*9/7 Moweaqua (Central A & M)    L    41    47
*9/14 Argenta (A.-Oreana)    W    29    26
*9/21 Sullivan [S.-Okaw Valley Coop]    W    49    20
*9/28 Decatur (St. Teresa)    W    49    21
*10/5 Monticello    W    18    14
*10/12 Clinton    W    47    28
*10/19 Shelbyville    W    50    12
*10/27 Pana (H.S.)    W    46     8
*11/3 Pleasant Plains    W    22     7
*11/10 Williamsville    W    10     7
*11/17 Greenville    W    56    21
*11/23 Aurora Christian    L    12    42

To view more photos from this game, please follow this link to place a request to see additional photos in the PhotoNews Media Archives.

Prep Sports Notebook: SJO, Rockets add another win to their record.

Unity bounces back

With 16 points to her credit, Taylor Henry dropped points in all four quarters of the Rockets home game against Monticello on Monday. The senior was also credited with six rebounds as Unity picked up the conference win, 37-34.

Raegen Stringer delivered three assists and racked up four steals as the team's second-leading scorer with eight points.

Producing just a single free throw, Katey Moore led the Rockets' rebounding effort with seven boards to break a three-game skid.

Mboyo-Meta leads Tigers' scoring effort

Gabrielle Mboyo-Meta scored 11 points in Urbana's 64-29 loss at home to Champaign Central. The junior was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.

Destiny Barber had 8 points and Jasmine McCollough scored seven in the Big 12 Conference loss rounding out the top three scorers for the Tigers.

Spartans notch 20th win

It didn't take long for first-year St. Joseph-Ogden head coach Drew Artega to notch his first 20-win season. The Spartan girls basketball team ended the conference season with a 50-28 win at home over Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

Draining four treys for SJO, Peyton Jones turned in a 16-point game-high performance on Monday. Addison Frick, who was 2-for-3 from the charity stripe, also finished in double-digits with 10 points. Senior Ella Armstrong chipped in another six.

Lorena Arnett spearheaded the Panthers' scoring effort with 8 points. The senior converted on all four trips to the free-throw line.

SJO boys win road game

The St. Joseph-Ogden boys basketball team still have their magic touch. The Spartans toppling Bloomington Central Catholic on the road 73-61 to earn their 19th victory of the season.

Study suggests young marijuana smokers may be at greater risk of recurrent stroke

Photo courtesy American Heart Assoc.

NEW ORLEANS -- Among younger adults who had a previous stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) and were later hospitalized for any cause, recurrent stroke was far more likely among patients with cannabis use disorder, according to preliminary research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2022, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health to be held in person in New Orleans, and virtually, Feb. 8-11, 2022.

Cannabis use disorder is defined as dependent use of cannabis despite having a psychological, physical and social functioning impairment. According to the American Heart Association, stroke rates are increasing in adults between ages 18 and 45, and each year young adults account for up to 15% of strokes in the United States.

"Since marijuana use is more common among younger people and is now legal in several U.S. states, we felt it was crucial to study the various risks it may impose," said Akhil Jain, M.D., lead author of the study and a resident physician at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania. "First-time stroke risk among  cannabis users is already established, so it intrigued us to investigate whether continued marijuana dependence also predisposes younger people to develop further strokes."

The researchers examined health information from the National Inpatient Sample, a large, publicly available database that compiles data on more than 7 million hospital stays annually across the U.S. For this study, the sample included 161,390 adults between 18-44 years of age who had been hospitalized for any reason between October 2015 and 2017, and whose health records indicated a previous stroke (either clot-caused or bleeding stroke) or TIA.

Using hospital diagnosis codes, researchers identified patients within the sample who met the criteria for cannabis use disorder, excluding those with charts indicating their cannabis dependence was in remission. This divided the sample into 4,690 patients who had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder and 156,700 who had not. The median age for both groups was 37 years.

The study found that when compared with patients without cannabis use disorder, patients with the condition were:

  • More likely to be male (55.2% vs. 40.9%), Black adults (44.6% vs. 37.2%), or to smoke tobacco (73.9% vs. 39.6%).
  • More likely to be diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (21.5% vs. 19.0%), depression (20.4% vs. 16.1%) or psychosis (11.2% vs. 7.5%).
  • Significantly more likely to abuse alcohol (16.5% vs. 3.6%).
  • Less likely to have high blood pressure (53.1% vs. 55.6%), diabetes (16.3% vs. 22.7%), high cholesterol (21.6% vs. 24.1%) or obesity (12.0% vs. 19.6%).

Compared to current hospitalizations, the analysis found:

  • Among adults with cannabis use disorder, 6.9% were hospitalized for a recurrent stroke, compared to only 5.4% hospitalized without the disorder.
  • After adjusting for demographic factors and relevant pre-existing medical conditions (age at admission, sex, race, payer status, median household income, type of admission, hospital bed-size, region, location/teaching status and other medical conditions including traditional cardiovascular risk factors), patients with cannabis use disorder were 48% more likely to have been hospitalized for recurrent stroke than those without the disorder.
  • Cannabis use disorder was most prominent among males, young Black or white adults and those who lived in low-income neighborhoods or in the northeast and southern regions of the U.S. 

"Young marijuana users who have a history of stroke or TIA remain at significantly higher risk of future stroke. Therefore, it is essential to increase awareness among younger adults of the adverse impact of chronic, habitual use of marijuana, especially if they have established cardiovascular disease risk factors or previous stroke episodes," Jain said.

Possible mechanisms that have emerged from other research on cannabis use disorder include impairment of blood vessel function, changes in blood supply, an increased tendency towards blood-clotting, impaired energy production in brain cells, and an imbalance between molecules that harm healthy tissue and the antioxidant defenses that neutralize them.

Results from this study may not be generalizable to older adults (ages greater than 44), who are more likely to have a greater number of chronic health conditions and cardiovascular risk factors. The study is also limited in that all data was collected at a single point in time, rather than following participants over time. In addition, while the hospital coding identified cannabis use disorder, the data did not include information on the exact amount and duration of cannabis use or medications used.

"Our study is hypothesis-generating research for future prospective and randomized controlled studies. More research work is required to look deeply into this concerning clinical question. Most importantly, the impact of various doses, duration, forms of cannabis abuse, and the use of medicinal cannabis on the occurrence of recurrent strokes are critical questions that need to be answered," Jain said.

According to an August 2020 scientific statement from the American Heart Association, preliminary studies have found that cannabis use may negatively impact the heart and blood vessels. Although cannabis may be helpful for conditions such as spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, among others, cannabis does not appear to have any well-documented benefits for the prevention or treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Co-authors of the study include: Rupak Desai, M.B.B.S.; Terry Ricardo Went, M.B.B.S.; Waleed Sultan, M.B.B.Ch.; Dwayne Wiltshire, M.B.B.S.; Geethu Jnaneswaran, M.B.B.S.; Athul Raj Raju, M.B.B.S.; Roshna Asifali; Aamer Mohammad, M.B.B.S.; and Bisharah Rizvi, M.D.

SJO FFA to host auction fundraiser this Saturday

The annual St. Joseph-Ogden FFA Auction will be held Saturday at the high school. The event is open to the community.

Dinner and the silent auction will begin at 5 pm, with the live auction starting an hour later at 6 pm. In addition to the regular bidding, there will be a special auction for young bidders at this year's event.

Items that will be up for bid include discounts on corn or soybean seeds, tools, sporting event tickets, gift cards to local retailers, and a variety of other services.

Some of the services up for bid include a one-hour photo session with Emilee Sorenson Photography, three hours of babysitting and farm labor services by FFA members, on-site combine inspection from Birkey's Farm Store, and lawn mower repair and maintenance service from Matt Sharp.

Attendees can also bid on arc welders, impact drivers, grease gun kits, a battery-powered weed trimmer, and a 5lb ABC fire extinguisher, along with a safety escape ladder. A list of items in this year's sale can be found here.

Other items under the hammer include a solo stove firepit and two GCI rocker chairs from Gifford State Bank; a furnace clean and safety inspection or A/C check from Kelso Heating & Cooling; a truckload of firewood from Keith Ames; a private tour and tasting for ten at Riggs Beer Company; 50 pounds of ground hamburger from Aden Family Farms; and a 40-pound beef bundle from Hesterberg Beef.

All funds are earmarked for the agricultural education program and will be used by the school chapter. Proceeds from the sale are also slated for chapter scholarships, preparation, and competitions.

Recipe: Irresistible Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib Ragu

Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib
Photo provided
Family Features -- Avoid dinner reservations and unseasonably cold temperatures this Valentine's Day with a delicious, romantic date-night dining that doesn't take you any further than your own kitchen. You don't have to be an accomplished chef to set the table for a memorable romantic dinner at home. You can take inspiration from simple, quality Italian dishes anytime to celebrate the link between food and love.

As with this and two other of our favorite recipes show, a romantic meal can be ready in minutes or, like a great love story, simmered to perfection. To plan the ultimate date night at home, start by choosing one of these dreamy main dishes made with a mouthwatering sauce. Whether you make the Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib Ragu featured below, or the Italian Sausage, Spinach & Tomato Rigatoni, or the Creamy Italian Garlic Chicken, your romantic candlelit dinner will be one fondly remembered for years to come.

Flavorful sauces make a great Italian meal, but the sauce doesn't need to be made from scratch (at least, not completely). For example, Bertolli d'Italia sauces are made in Italy for authentically delicious flavor. They are crafted with tomatoes vine-ripened under the Italian sun, finely aged Italian cheeses, fresh cream, and Mediterranean olive oil. The result is a sauce that's perfect for your date-night meal.

Once you select your main course, prepare a simple salad of greens with a drizzle of Italian vinaigrette or Caesar dressing.

There is nothing better than a loaf of bakery-fresh Italian or focaccia bread warmed in the oven served with butter or olive oil for dipping. If you're so inclined, cap off the meal with a classic Italian dessert from your local bakery, like tiramisu, cannoli, or a creamy panna cotta topped with fresh fruit.

Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib Ragu

Prep time: 25 minutes / Cook time: 3 hours
2 tablespoons olive oil

4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs

salt, to taste

ground black pepper, to taste

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 small onion, chopped

8 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup red wine

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 sprigs fresh sage leaves, chopped

8 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 jar Bertolli d'Italia Marinara Sauce

2 cups beef bone broth


24 ounces pappardelle pasta or preferred pasta

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish


Heat oven to 350 F.

In 5-quart Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season short ribs with salt and ground black pepper, to taste. Place one layer of short ribs in pot. Set remaining ribs aside.

Cook ribs 3-4 minutes per side until browned. Transfer to plate and set aside. Repeat with remaining short ribs.

Add celery, carrots and onion to pot used to brown ribs. Stir and cook until vegetables are browned, about 15 minutes.

Add garlic and stir 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste. Cook 2-3 minutes.

Carefully pour red wine into pot.

Stir and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pot. Cook 3-4 minutes until wine is almost completely absorbed into vegetables.

Add rosemary, sage, thyme and bay leaves to pot. Add sauce, bone broth and browned ribs. Cover pot and place in oven 2 1/2-3 hours, or until ribs are fall-apart tender.

Remove pot from oven. Transfer ribs to plate or cutting board. Remove and discard herb stems and bay leaves. Remove bones from ribs then shred meat into bite-sized pieces using two forks or tongs. Return shredded ribs to pot with ragu. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Bring large stockpot of water to boil. Boil pappardelle pasta until al dente. Add drained pasta to pot with beef ragu and toss until combined.

Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Find more romantic dishes perfect for sharing at Bertolli.com.

Memory Monday | SJO baseball team falls to Chargers

Spartan pitcher Cody Bohlen
St. Joseph-Ogden's Cody Bohlen winds up to unload a pitch in the Spartans' away game against Champaign Centennial on March 31, 2010. The Chargers won the non-conference game, 5-3.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

SJO catcher Jared Orcutt

St. Joseph-Ogden catcher Jared Orcutt gets in front of a bad pitch pitch during the game.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Blake Hoveln plays second base

Shortstop Blake Hoveln makes a catch on second base in a pick-off attempt on Centennial baserunner Drew Alves.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Spartans' Luke Gones throws out a runner

SJO'a Lucas Gones makes a throw from the mound to throw out a baserunner. The right-hander entered the game to relieve Bohlen.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Andy Bensyl puts the ball in play for St. Joseph-Ogden. The loss to the Chargers was one 17 during the 200-2010 season. The Spartans won 13 games in what has been the last sub .500 season for the SJO program.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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Northern Ireland agency could be a model for US juvenile-justice system

    by Jonah Chester, Illinois News Connection

As lawmakers in Illinois and across the nation consider reforms to the nation's juvenile-justice system, one country across the Atlantic could serve as a model.

Northern Ireland's Youth Justice Agency places an emphasis on early diversion, community involvement and restorative justice.

Kelvin Doherty, assistant director of the Agency, said the goal is to keep kids out of police custody and prevent them from building a criminal record.

"Let's address these concerns and these issues before the police are called, and before they get into a court setting," Doherty urged.

Doherty pointed out the restorative-justice process can take one of several paths: including a simple apology, community service or mental-health treatment. According to data from the Youth Justice Agency, more than 97% of victims said they are satisfied with the restorative-justice process.

The Youth Justice Agency was established in 2002, and was born out of the Good Friday Agreement. Doherty explained the program was part of a multipronged effort to modernize Northern Ireland's justice system.

"And the modernization process said, well, for a new justice system in Northern Ireland, it has to be not just about children and reducing reoffending," Doherty explained. "But it also has to be for victims and for communities as well."

From April 2020 to April 2021, Northern Ireland's Justice Department saw a nearly 17% decline in cases where kids came into contact with the criminal-justice system.

Doherty noted early diversion and support programs, typically used when the child is between 10 and 12 years old, can help prevent kids from coming into contact with the criminal-justice system down the line.

"Problems can be resolved in the child's life before they get worse," Doherty asserted. "And it has a better outcome for agencies and service providers, because it often involves less effort and more success, the earlier you are intervening or diverting children within the justice system."

According to the Children's Defense Fund, nearly 2,000 children are arrested in America every day. While the organization noted the overall number of kids in the juvenile-justice system was halved from 2007 to 2020, severe racial disparities persist, as children of color are nearly two times more likely to be arrested than white children.

Photo Gallery | St. Joseph-Ogden girls defeat Unity at home to win IPC title

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Unity's Lauren Miller blocks a shot from St. Joseph-Ogden's Ashlyn Lannert during the first half of their Illini Prairie Conference game on Saturday. With home court advantage, the Spartans won the contest 49-27 to clinch the Illini Prairie Conference title. Miller finished the game with six points, five rebounds, and four assists for the Rockets.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Unity head coach Dave Ellars reminds his players to keep their arms up during second quarter play against the Spartans.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Keep the ball away from Unity's Erika Steinman, Addison Frick secures a loose ball for the Spartans during the first half of the game. The sophomore guard finished the game with six points.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

SJO's Ella Armstrong goes after the ball for a steal from Rockets' Addison Ray. Armstrong finished with a game-high 12 points for the Spartans. Ray, who went of 0-2 from the free throw line, contributed one field goal in Unity's loss and finished with a hard-fought five rebounds.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Katey Moore hauls in a offensive rebound for the Rockets. The senior guard chipped in six of the team's 27 points.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

St. Joseph-Ogden senior Ashlyn Lannert tries to put a shot up over Unity's Katey Moore during the fourth quarter. Lannert finished the night with two points drained back in the first quarter of the contest.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Spartans' Ella Armstrong puts up a fourth-quarter shot on Unity's Lauren Miller. Armstrong, a senior, was the only player to score in all four quarters of the game on Saturday.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Rocket's Addison Ray looks to make a pass after coming up with a loose ball in the fourth quarter. Unity dropped to 20-8 overall and 6-3 in conference play after the loss to the Spartans. Ray and the Rockets hope to correct their three-game skid against 18-10 Monticello tonight at 7pm.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Kaytlyn Baker drives past Unity's Erika Steinman into the paint. Baker came off the bench late in the final quarter contributing a free throw to the Spartan's cause. The St. Joseph-Ogden girls team is back in action tonight against the Panthers of Paxton-Buckley-Loda (11-16) in their final IPC game of the season.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
Unity senior Gracie Renfrow congratulates SJO players and staff on their win on Saturday.

Search the PhotoNews Media archives for more photos:

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New Federal aid could help lead pipeline removal in Illinois

    by Jonah Chester, Illinois News Connection

Illinois has more lead pipelines than any other state in the nation, but a new plan from the Biden-Harris administration could boost the state's lead-line removal efforts.

The Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan calls for $15 billion over the next decade to replace all the country's lead pipelines.

Angela Guyadeen, director of the Safe Water Initiative for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said financing lead-line removal projects is a major barrier for most communities.

"What's really important to know is that money coming down from the state and also the feds is going to make this process a lot easier," Guyadeen explained. "Many states and communities across the country have said, 'Yeah, well, you know, we really want to replace lead service lines, but it's a really expensive project and there's a lot of other priorities we have to be thinking about.' "

The NRDC estimated as of last June, Illinois had between 700,000 and 1.4 million lead lines. Last summer, the Illinois General Assembly passed a separate measure to begin replacing the state's lead lines. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Illinois will receive $288 million to support the efforts via the federal plan.

The Metropolitan Planning Council noted lead lines are a serious issue in communities of color; 65% of the state's Black and Latin residents live in communities containing 94% of the state's known lead pipelines.

Guyadeen argued the state should ensure the funding to replace the pipelines is equitably distributed. She pointed out the state's current method for distributing such funds, the State Revolving Fund, can be difficult for smaller communities to navigate.

"If you are a mayor or a small-town mayor of a community, and you don't have a lot of resources or consultants, that can be a barrier to accessing these funds," Guyadeen contended.

A separate Metropolitan Planning Council report found replacing all the state's lead pipelines could generate up to 250,000 jobs and $23 billion in new economic activity.

Vice President Kamala Harris, visiting Wisconsin last week, touted the benefits the plan could have for organized labor.

"These investments will result in improved public health, the creation of more jobs, the infusion of support for important apprenticeship programs, and it's just simply the right thing to do," Harris stated.

Exposure to lead can cause several adverse health effects, including anemia, kidney and brain damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it also can damage the nervous systems of unborn children.

Guest Commentary: Masked or not, at least say 'Howdy'

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

"Howdy," was a common everyday word where I grew up. Raised on old Stidham, now known as Milo road in rural Appalachia, I spent a lot of time at my Grandpa and Grandma Hinkle’s store. People came and went buying gasoline, sandwich meat, snacks or groceries for the week. There were cane bottom chairs in the store. Often people would sit and chat for a while.

Regardless of how many times during the week I walked down the road to that store, the opening salutation was typically, "howdy."

People were in and out of the Hinkle store doing business. A family member was often coming or going because my grandparents had raised ten children and there were many grandchildren who frequented the Hinkle business. Often, family members were buying a soda pop or just stopping in to say “howdy.”

We grew up on Milo speaking to most everyone who came and went. When a car drove by, we usually waved even though we didn’t always know them. At family or church gatherings we typically talked to everyone for a minute or two and shook hands or hugged a few people.

The only time I can remember our family being speechless was when fifteen or twenty of us were sitting on the porch and a man from New York City pulled up in an older car.

My grandpa had received an advertisement in the mail about a great used car he could buy for $500. He ordered the car to surprise my grandma and we were all really surprised when this man pulled in front of the store in an old beat up looking car. He had driven the car from New York City, which was a long drive on those roads back then.

After being drop jaw stunned silent for a few minutes, everyone loosened up and eventually started talking to the man who was just doing a job but now had to get back to New York. By this time, some of us were chuckling just a little. A couple of the family members took the guy over to Kermit, West Virginia to catch a Greyhound bus to begin his long journey back home.

A part of American culture has been hand shaking and embracing those we know. A part of most American religious gatherings has been shaking hands. One church I attended insisted on everybody hugging each other.

Covid-19 has impacted our world with death, sickness and business failures. The distancing for many of us continues to be tough. We wear our masks and seldom know who else is in the grocery store.

We’re fearful of going to the funeral home to honor and respect the deceased. Shaking hands or embracing anyone anywhere is typically totally unwelcome. Many holiday parties of large gatherings were fewer over the past holidays. People don’t want to be sick and so the distancing continues.

We do have the telephone, social media and email which helps us at least stay connected.

However, please keep in mind, when you do recognize someone at the grocery or any public place you may not feel comfortable embracing or shaking hands, but you can still convey a greeting and kindness by at least saying, "howdy."


Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of Grandpa's Store, American Issues, 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.


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