What is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma? Here's what you should know

by Lee Batsakis
OSF Healthcare

EVERGREEN PARK - This week, Chicago White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks announced he has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and that he would be starting chemotherapy treatments. In a social media post, Hendriks said that while hearing the word "cancer" came as a shock, he is "resolved to embrace the fight and overcome this new challenge." The news comes just a few months after actress Jane Fonda revealed her NHL diagnosis in September 2022.

According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, a lymphoma is a cancer that affects lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that travel through the blood and lymphatic system to defend the body against bacteria and viruses. There are three major categories of lymphoma. NHL is the most common, with more than 81,000 people diagnosed with NHL each year in the United States.

Deborah Oyelowo / Provided photo

Deborah Oyelowo, APRN
OSF HealthCare

"It is a blood cancer, but it affects the lymph nodes. And it is one of the cancers that can metastasize to a lot of body systems and could rapidly progress if it's not caught in time," says Deborah Oyelowo, an OSF HealthCare hematology/oncology advanced practice nurse.

As of 2016, the World Health Organization has classified at least 86 different types of NHL. Because we have lymph nodes throughout our entire body – in the neck, armpits, groin, behind the ears, and back of the head, to name a few – lymphomas can ultimately begin anywhere. Swelling of these lymph nodes can occur for a variety of reasons, however, and may not necessarily indicate cancer.

"There is a difference between having a common cold and having your lymph nodes inflamed, and having a lymph node that is swollen yet not painful, but it's there," Oyelowo explains.

You probably have had swollen lymph nodes in your throat when you have been sick. This swelling is associated with the illness and typically goes away once the illness has run its course. However, if you have a swollen lymph node that seems to have appeared out of the blue, Oyelowo advises people to take note of that and to make an appointment with a primary care provider if it does not go away.

Initially, a lymphoma may only present as a swollen lymph node with no other symptoms. The symptoms change, however, as the disease progresses.

"Because it affects the lymph nodes – and this is our immune system – we start to see fever, chills, unexplained rash, and weight loss for no reason. These are later signs that start from a lymph node that just grows and comes back, swelling and going down by itself. That is something to pay attention to earlier," advises Oyelowo.

Like with many cancers, family history, age, gender, and race are all considered when determining one's risk for NHL. Risk factors such as a weakened immune system and history of autoimmune disease tend to be more strongly associated with NHL.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), people with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren disease, celiac disease, and others have increased risk of NHL. When someone has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, it means their immune system attacks healthy cells in their body in the same way it would fight germs and infections – essentially putting their immune system in overdrive. The ACS says that this could cause lymphocytes to grow and divide more than normal, increasing the risk of them turning into lymphoma cells.

"The presenting symptoms will be much different than in a person who does not have autoimmune issues going on. If we have that kind of patient, the presenting signs and symptoms will be more aggressive. If we have a patient with no previous medical problems, but has a hormonal imbalance or swelling of lymph nodes, we would take a different approach," Oyelowo explains.

If you have a family history of lymphoma or have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Oyelowo recommends getting any swollen lymph nodes evaluated by your health care provider.

Most importantly, Oyelowo advises individuals to listen to their bodies and to make an appointment with their primary care provider if they are concerned about any abnormal lymph nodes or other symptoms that do not go away on their own. There are successful treatment options available for NHL and other lymphomas, but early detection is key.

Photo of the Day | January 14, 2023

Rockets jinx unlucky Panthers

TOLONO - Members of the Unity student cheering section react to a moment on the court during fourth-quarter action of their basketball team's home game against Paxton-Buckley-Loda. Fans from both teams watched the Rockets decimate the visiting Panthers, who mustered just six points in the first half, en route to a 58-22 victory on Friday, January 13. With the Illini Prairie Conference win, Unity boasts a 10-7 record and moves to third place in the league behind Pontiac and Prairie Central.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks


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Youth orchestra concert at Smith Music Hall

URBANA - The East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra will perform their annual Winter Concert at Smith Memorial Hall in Urbana tomorrow. The Sunday evening concert features classical pieces from both American and Russian composers.

Urbana Entertainment News "These talented students have worked long and hard to prepare this wonderful music, and we would all be gratified to see you in the audience," said Kevin Kelly, Music Director for youth orchestra.

The program includes two popular Russian pieces from Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky, as well as works from American composers Aaron Coplan, Irving Fine, Virgil Thomson, and John Philip Sousa.

Admission to the event is free to the public and begins promptly at 7 p.m. Smith Memorial Hall is located on the University of Illinois campus at 805 S. Mathews Avenue.

Health issues like depression, heart disease & anxiety are linked to toxic workplaces

by Paul Arco
OSF Healthcare

The five components of a healthy workplace include: protection from harm, connection and community, work-life harmony, mattering at work and opportunity for growth.

A new year brings about many possible changes – promises to eat better, exercise more, stop smoking, save money, and so on. Another priority for some is to improve their work situation.

If that’s you, there may be no better time than the present, especially after the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a report that links a toxic workplace culture to health issues such as heart disease, depression and anxiety.

"A toxic workplace is basically any work setting where you're dealing with any sort of psychological stress, where you're feeling nervous, you have some fear, anxiety, sadness, depression – things like that," says Victor Mendoza, a behavioral health provider with OSF HealthCare. "If you start noticing those things in your own workplace, that can be something we would call a toxic environment."

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the five components of a healthy workplace include: protection from harm, connection and community, work-life harmony, mattering at work and opportunity for growth.

Mendoza says now is the time for organizations to assess their relationship with employees – to create a sense of connection among workers, show them they are important, and support their professional needs.

"First of all, if they haven't added these five components, they should probably try to because I think that's a good foundation to what a healthy work environment should be like," says Mendoza. "You want to have a workplace where you feel comfortable, you feel heard, you feel like there is upward mobility, and that that people care for you. That you're not just a number to them but that you actually are a human, and they understand and are willing to be empathic to your situation. And if there is a concern, they're open to listen to you."

There are many ways feeling stressed or miserable can manifest in an unhealthy work environment such as increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, increasing the chance of high blood pressure, weakening immune systems, causing headaches and increasing anxiety and stress. Mendoza says physical symptoms can include stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and racing heartbeat.

The report comes during an uncertain time in workplace culture due to the COVID pandemic, when employees are seeking more flexible opportunities including working remotely or a hybrid schedule. Mendoza adds that the pandemic also affected our routines, and when routines are changed it can impact our mental health.

"It's been really tough for a lot of people," says Mendoza. "When all this started with the pandemic, a lot of people were having anxiety about what was going to happen. People feared losing their jobs, and a lot of people did lose their jobs, sadly, and that was very hard for them. They had to switch careers. A lot of them were lucky they were able to keep their jobs, but they had to work from home and that that created some stress as well even though we do have good technology."

There are things, however, you can do to cope with your workplace stress. Mendoza suggests keeping track of the stressors in your job, developing healthy responses such as exercise, getting enough sleep and learning how to relax and take time to recharge by unplugging from work, and making sure to use your vacation days.

Mendoza says it’s easy for some people to feel guilty about work-related issues. The most important take home message is to first take care of yourself, and not let a stressful environment affect your health. 

"Sometimes you can only do so much and you have to advocate for yourself, and you have be aware when this happens," he adds. "So set up good boundaries with your workplace, make sure that you're taking some time off work for self-care, whatever that looks like for you, and do something you enjoy. Make sure you do some basic things like exercise, you’re eating well and you're sleeping well. That's a really good foundation to deal with a toxic work environment."

Shooting Stars | Area basketball athletes shined brightly last month

Clifton Central 46 - Hoopeston Area 41

Preston VanDeVeer and Anthony Zamora finished with nine points each in Hoopeston Area's loss at home to the Comets. Kenddrick Sigerill led the Cornjerkers (2-3) on the boards with a season-high 11 rebounds finished with eight points. Hoopeston Area's Owen Root went 3-for-6 from the field putting eight points in the book.



Oakwood's Brody Taflinger
Oakwood's Brody Taflinger shakes hands with St. Joseph-Ogden Athletic Director Justin Franzen after recieving his recognition plaque for the Toyota of Danville All-Tournament team on December 3. Taflinger's efforts lead the Comets to a runner-up finish after falling to the hosts Spartans 66-31 in the championship game on Saturday. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks


St. Joseph-Ogden 66 - Oakwood 31

Ty Pence drained 33 points in SJO's title game against Oakwood at the Toyota of Danville Classic on December 3. The senior D1 recruit scored 15 points in the first quarter to put the host Spartans on cruise control to this year's tournament title.

Junior Brody Taflinger led the Comets, who entered the fray with an impressive 8-0 record, with a 13-point effort in the team's first loss of the season.



Teutopolis 56 - Unity 40

Before boasting a four-game win streak, the Rockets suffered their second consecutive loss at the hands of the Wooden Shoes on December 3. Despite nine players contributing with two or more points, Unity fell 56-40.

The Rockets led at the halfway point by five and trailed by one, 38-37, at the end of the third quarter. Jay Saunders, who led the team in the loss with nine points, hit the team's only field goal during a fourth-quarter offensive collapse. Dalton O'Neill sank one of two free throw attempts to round out the scoring in the frame to just three points. O'Neill, Unity's second-leading scorer, finished with seven points. Henry Thomas tallied five points in the third quarter.

Joey Niebrugge, a junior, led all scorers with in the contest with 18 points.



St. Joseph-Ogden 68 - Watseka 28

Junior Logan Smith and senior Ty Pence combined effort produced 48 of SJO's 68 points in the team's romp over the Warriors at the Toyota of Danville Classic.

Pence, an 2023 Illinois State basketball recruit, drained 28 points while Smith rained down 20 more. Six other Spartans including Maddux Carter and Brock Trimble contributed to the victory.



Rochester 56 - Unity 46

Andrew and Henry Thomas sank 11 points apiece in the Rockets' second game of the season. Without home court advantage, Unity (1-1) came out of the locker room cold after the halftime break, scoring just six points to Rochester's 17.



St. Joseph-Ogden 44 - Danville 14

Addisyn Martinie dropped a game-high 16 point in the Spartans' first game during the month of December that snapped a three-game early season slide. Addison Seggebruch supplied 13 points in the non-conference victory.

SJO's improves to 2-4 heading into their next contest against Maroa-Forsyth at home.



URBANA 39 - Charleston 34

Senior Gabrielle Mboyo-Meta led the Tigers girls' basketball effort with 16 points in the team's first win of the season. Junior Jasmine McCullough also delivered a double-digit finish with 13 points. Urbana (1-3) enjoyed a team effort with six points from McKenzie Sprague and two points apiece from Savannah Blanden and Elizabeth Lange.

Trojans' Ally Logsdon all scorers with 19 points, 15 of those delivered in the fourth quarter of the non-conference game on December 1.


Are you stay true to your New Year's food related resolutions?

by Tim Ditman
OSF Healthcare

We have to make them realistic

ROCKFORD - It's that time of the year again when we turn our backs on past mistakes and pledge to do better. We're talking about News Year's resolutions.

Some people will promise to quit smoking, exercise more frequently or maybe plan to reunite with long lost friends or loved ones. But about this time every year one of the most talked-about resolutions is to improve our diets and perhaps lose weight.


Photo: Unsplash/Brooke Lark

While most people are more than ready to put 2022 in the rearview mirror, what are the best ways to go about making our food-related resolutions attainable now that 2023 is here? 

"We have to make them realistic," says Adam Schafer, a clinical dietitian with OSF HealthCare. "A lot of times people say I want to eat healthier or be healthier. There are no specifics to that. We need to make sure resolutions are very specific and that you can measure it rather than throwing something out there that has no real meaning to it."

The keys to sticking with your food resolutions include setting specific goals, measuring those goals, and having a plan to meet those goals. Schafer recommends setting S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound). The best ways to change behaviors is to focus on small, achievable habits and activities that will help improve your health over time.

When it comes to eating habits, there are going to be good times and bad. No one is perfect. Schafer says the key is to not beat yourself up over a bad eating day here or there. If you do stumble occasionally, reflect on what you did wrong and move on without any regrets.

If one of your resolutions is to lose weight, Schafer recommends thinking about what did or didn't work in the past before setting your weight loss goal. Rather than concentrating on a certain number, think about things like your clothes fitting better, or your ability to do certain activities easier or better. These milestones will help you maintain a more positive mindset and keep you motivated to stay the course.

"Focus more than just on weight," says Schafer. "A lot of times we focus on a certain number when it comes to weight loss, but if you're exercising too you may be putting on muscle. It's not going to reflect well on the scale and you're going to assume you're not doing well and you're going to quit."

Other tips include:

  • Fill up on fruits and vegetables
  • Drink more water
  • Watch your sodium intake
  • Plan your meals
  • Keep a food log
  • And if you don't set goals early in 2023, don't sweat it. There's never a bad time to get started on making healthy lifestyle changes. Proper nutrition isn't a quick fix, Schafer says. It's a habit that we will work to develop for the rest of our lives.

    "It's never too late to get started on one," he adds. "If you feel like you missed the New Year resolution time frame, there is always time to improve on yourself, whether it's related to diet and health or anything else in life."

    Four signs you need a new roof over your head

    Communication-76/Pixabay

    SNS - A roof is one of the most important components of any home. It protects the structure and its inhabitants from harsh Illinois weather, debris, and even pests. However, over time, roofs can become damaged due to age or extreme conditions.

    Knowing when it’s time to re-roof your house can save you money in the long run, as well as protect your home’s structural integrity. In this article, we will discuss the signs to look out for that indicate when you should consider re-roofing your home. Here are four signs when you need re-roof your home or rental property.

    #1 Cracked or Missing Shingles

    Shingles are thin strips of material that form the surface of your roof. It looks like overlapping triangular tiles. If you notice that your shingles are cracked, missing, or curling up on the edges, then it’s a sign that they need to be replaced. This can happen due to age or exposure to extreme weather conditions such as hail and wind. Missing shingles can also result from poor installation or poor maintenance.

    While this can be an easy fix, you still need to consider hiring experienced roofing contractors like Mighty Dog Roofing to ensure that your shingle replacement is done correctly. If you don’t replace your missing or cracked shingles, then it can lead to more damage and cost more money in the long run.

    #2 Sagging Roof

    If you notice that your roof is sagging, it could be a sign of a structural issue with your roof decking, which supports the entire roof structure. If this is the case, it’s crucial to have a professional to inspect your roof right away, as sagging can lead to catastrophic damage and costly repairs.

    It could also be due to poor ventilation or inadequate insulation, both of which can contribute to premature wear and tear on your roof. In any case, it’s best to have a professional inspect your roof and determine the cause of the sagging so that it can be addressed promptly.

    #3 Sunlight Coming Through Your Roof

    If you notice that sunlight is coming through your roof, then it’s time to re-roof. This could mean that there are gaps or holes in your roof that need to be patched. These gaps can allow moisture and pests into your home, as well as cause energy loss due to heat escaping from the house.

    The good news is that patching these holes or gaps can usually be done relatively quickly and inexpensively. However, if there is extensive damage to the roof, then it may be time to consider re-roofing your home.

    #4 Age of Roof

    The age of your roof can also be a factor in determining whether or not you should re-roof. Most roofs are designed to last around 20 years, and after that, they can start to deteriorate due to age and weather conditions. If your roof is more than two decades old, it’s probably time to consider re-roofing your home.

    Good thing is, modern roofs are made of much more durable materials than those used in the past and can last for up to 50 years with proper maintenance. So, when it’s time to re-roof, you can be sure that your new roof will last a long time.

    How to Re-roof Your House

    The first step to re-roofing your home is to contact a roofer for an inspection. A professional roofer will be able to assess the condition of your roof and advise you on the best course of action. This could mean anything from repairing small issues to completely replacing the roof.

    If it’s determined that you need to re-roof, then the roofer will be able to recommend materials and products that are best suited for your home. It’s important to take their advice, as they have a lot of experience in this field and know what works best. Once you have decided on materials and products, the roofer will be able to provide you with an estimate for the cost of the project.

    Common Cost for Re-roofing

    The cost of re-roofing your home will largely depend on the size of your roof, the materials you choose, and any additional services like repairing existing damage. Generally speaking, re-roofing projects can range from a few thousand dollars to over $10,000 depending on the size and complexity of the job.

    Re-roofing your home is not an easy job and it is very important if there is a need. By keeping an eye out for signs of damage and taking action to address any issues, you can help ensure that your roof lasts as long as possible and protect the value of your home.

    If you suspect that your roof may need to be replaced, then don’t hesitate to contact a professional roofer for an inspection and advice. With the right materials, a good plan, and proper maintenance, you’ll be confident knowing that your new roof will protect your home for years to come.

    Photo of the Day | January 12, 2023

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Rockets fight fall short at Christie Clinic Shootout
    ST. JOSEPH - Unity's Henry Thomas drives to the paint into Normal University's Jacob Johnson in their Christie Clinic Shootout game last Saturday. After a nearly even first period of play, U-High outscored the Rockets 20-12 in the second frame and held the lead until the final buzzer. Thomas finished with a team-high 13 points, but it wasn't enough to get past the Pioneers, who won 56-48.



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    Like to travel? 4 pro tips from seasoned travelers on luggage

    Brandpoint -Travel is back big time and whether you're racking up the miles for work or planning a relaxing getaway, there's one staple that travelers must have: luggage that can keep up with the journey. The right bag and approach to packing can make your trip a breeze, while the wrong luggage and poor planning can cause unnecessary frustration.

    To uncover what luggage will last and still be easy to use, look to the advice of those who are always traveling for work and leisure — like Ofelia Silva and Ken Sosko, executives of Travelpro, the pilot-founded luggage brand used by airline professionals from more than 90 airlines globally.

    Photo provided

    From what to look for in quality and features, to how to effectively pack your suitcase, Silva and Sosko share their top four tips and tricks that every traveler should know.

    1. Quality over trend

    Before buying that trendy suitcase you’ve been eyeing, take the time to research the quality of the item and the brand. Look at the materials and check it has reinforced stitching, resilient zippers that stay on track and closed, and handles sturdy enough to not bend or buckle when in use.

    With its professional and clean design, Travelpro’s best-selling Platinum Elite collection is Silva’s top pick for business travelers while the new Maxlite Air collection is ideal for leisure trips with its lightweight build, allowing you to pack everything you need and more. Both collections are rigorously tested for durability, while remaining sleek and stylish.

    2. Softside vs. hardside luggage

    The debate between softside and hardside luggage is red hot among travelers, but it really boils down to packing style and personal preference. Looking for a little extra packing space? Softside luggage easily expands, allowing travelers a bit more packing flexibility. Searching for a suitcase that is incredibly sleek in its design yet ultra-resilient to damage? A hardside suitcase with its clean lines and strong polycarbonate shell is the go-to option.

    To make sure the brand’s luggage withstands the toughest travel conditions, Sosko’s testing team works hand-in-hand with airlines to go behind the scenes at airports, examining what luggage really goes through. This insight informs the brand’s 15 durability tests, including a rolling test, cold drop test and a handle strength test, which all result in luggage that is crack, scratch and moisture-resistant.

    3. The art of packing

    Even if you have lightweight luggage, overpacking is a common pitfall for travelers. Prior to each trip, take ample time to think about what you need and how you will pack everything. Think of a capsule wardrobe you can bring, meaning interchangeable clothes that complement each other. Keep in mind, shoes are often heavy and take up space, so either wear your heavy shoes on the plane or think of leaving them at home for something lighter.

    As for the act of packing itself, some travelers opt to roll clothing to save space and eliminate wrinkles, while others swear by packing cubes, allowing you to divide your suitcase into specific compartments. No matter the strategy, consider doing a practice run in the week leading up to your trip to see how everything fits.

    4. Luggage set advantages

    Since you’ll probably need both a checked bag and a carry-on suitcase at some point, why not buy both as part of a set? Not only will your luggage match, but the price is usually less than buying two single bags. This also gives you the flexibility to choose the right-sized suitcase depending on your packing needs and destination.

    travel luggage
    Photo provided

    If you’re traveling light, a carry-on suitcase will likely hold all of your items and spare you the hassle of checking a suitcase. You'll also save time if flying with a carry-on because you’ll avoid waiting at the baggage carousel, not to mention it reduces the risk of lost luggage. Just make sure you know the size and weight limits for both checked and carry-on luggage before flying to avoid overweight fees.

    CPR, it’s a critical skill for young people should learn

    by Tim Ditman
    OSF Healthcare

    URBANA - After professional football player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during a game, experts are talking about the importance of knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

    CPR is a life-saving skill. And for Jordan Meeks, a pediatric wellness specialist at OSF HealthCare, it’s a critical skill for young people to learn.

    "Most cardiac arrests happen in people 40 years and older, a lot of teachers, parents, grandparents, coaches and those that young people are spending a lot of time with," Meeks says. "And young people are getting to a point where their body is maturing, so they’re able to do those compressions with enough strength to be helpful."

    Meeks visits schools across Illinois teaching students hands-only CPR. Recently, she was in Fisher, a small, rural town where it might take first responders a little longer to get to an emergency - all the more reason to equip junior high and high school students with CPR skills.

    CPR basics

    Meeks says CPR is used when someone is unconscious and in cardiac arrest (in other words, having a serious heart problem).

    The first thing to do is call 9-1-1. If you’re by yourself, put the phone on speaker while you help the ailing person. Get over the person, interlink your fingers and press hard in the middle of the chest over and over.

    "It’s compressing the chest in half at a rate of about 100 beats per minute. Think of the song Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees,” Meeks explains. "The compressions help restore blood flow to the body and brain, which is really important to help preserve that person’s life."

    CPR may also be done alongside an automated external defibrillator (AED), a small device that’s common in schools and workplaces these days. Meeks explains that two pads are applied to the patient’s skin - one near the heart and the other on the person’s side - with wires leading to the AED box.

    "It gives you step-by-step instructions. It’s going to tell you when you need to stay clear of the patient. It will analyze the heart’s rhythm to see if it’s regular, irregular or not beating at all,” Meeks says. "Then it will provide instructions on whether to deliver a shock. You press a button to deliver a shock. Then it will tell you to start CPR."

    The AED will then continue the cycle of shocks and CPR until first responders arrive.

    Teaching hands-only CPR does not require certification, Meeks says. Someone can easily learn the tools and pass them on to others.

    Adding the skillset of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation - when you exhale into a patient’s mouth to help revive them - is a little more involved. Meeks recommends calling your local first responders (police, fire and ambulance), your local hospital or the American Red Cross to learn about those CPR training opportunities.

    Training young people

    During her stop in Fisher, Meeks watched as students performed CPR and applied AEDs to manikins. A red light on the manikin meant the compressions were too fast or too slow. A green light signaled a good pace. To Meeks’ delight, there were more green lights than red.

    CPR Manikin

    "The manikins are very much like the human body, so the students get a really good, hands-on experience with how CPR works,” Meeks says. "They also learn how to use the AED. Most students know where it is in their school, but they’ve never seen it before. They have no idea how it works."

    You can count Paige Ferguson and Kira Becker, both juniors at Fisher High School, among the adolescents who think the training is valuable.

    "You just had to stay at a consistent pace, which was difficult [to start]. But once you got that pace going, it was pretty easy to stay with it," Ferguson says, describing the training.

    "It’s important to know this so you can help friends and teachers in your daily life. You can help save a person’s life,” Becker says.

    One of those teachers is Doug Ingold, the health and physical education instructor who asked OSF to train the whole student body.

    "It’s great to have hands-on experience. It’s different than just watching a video,” Ingold says. "Having OSF come in and give the students actual practical experience really gives them a good idea of what it takes to do CPR."

    Five ways to increase the value of your home in today's competitive real estate market

    Make your home beautiful to command a higher price
    Photo: Binyamin Mellish/PEXELS
    SNS - There are many ways to increase the value of your home without making any significant changes, regardless of whether you want to sell or rent. If your property is in good overall condition and has been well-maintained, you should be able to get by with just a few quick changes. For instance, a fresh coat of paint and some yard upkeep are the usual things home do. Furthermore, these home improvements won't just make your house more appealing to potential buyers. These improvements will probably also raise its value, putting extra money in your pocket when selling.

    So whether you want to sell now or later, these improvements can be a wise investment in your future. And while every home is different, there are simple ideas to increase the value of your home that can apply to any property. Moreover, they are also simple to make and won’t cost you a fortune.

    Repair and replace

    The little flaws in your home that you may have become accustomed to will be evident to buyers viewing it. Therefore, if you're considering selling your property in the future, look over it thoroughly and develop a list of all the little improvements you want to make before putting it on the market. It is not unusual for your home to have tiny issues in some parts, but you can quickly remedy them.

    For instance, if there are broken lightbulbs, be sure to change them. If a faucet is leaking, replace it. It could be necessary to refinish hardwood floors, touch up moldings or door frames, or even replace them entirely. Making a good first impression on potential buyers requires little effort. So ensure to test the functionality of the smoke detectors, windows, drawers, and toilets. You will thank yourself later for doing so.

    Repaint and refresh

    A new coat of paint is one of the fastest ways to transform and refresh a house. One or two coats of paint will quickly revive the appearance of your property's interior or exterior walls if they start to seem dull, enhancing the impression your home gives. Of course, repainting the outside can be costly. However, this is typically a wise investment because potential buyers would use an exterior that needs work as a significant negotiating point. Also, when choosing the paint, stick to neutral hues. Bright paint or patterned wallpaper may be to your liking, but it might be a significant turnoff if it doesn't appeal to your potential buyers.

    At the same time, when repainting yourself, focus on one room at a time. Pick a warm, dry day and relocate your furniture to a storage facility or your new home. It might be a challenge, but you can easily find the help you need with moving professionals in Chicago and in other major cities if you are planning to move to or from Urbana-Champaign. With the help of experts, your task will become a piece of cake. And as soon as you have the furniture out of the way, you can repaint and refresh your home freely.

    Declutter and depersonalize

    To determine the value of a property, buyers must view the space they will get. They want to examine the walls and floors, which can be challenging if most of them are covered with your possessions. You are selling a way of life and a dream when you put your home on the market. Therefore, buyers need to visualize the rooms and see themselves living there. As a result, eliminate all the clutter crowding the area and blocking the view. Go from room to room and make an inventory of your belongings. Then, sort the items in piles for keeping, donating, or throwing away.

    At the same time, since no two people have the same taste in design and, as we mentioned, buyers need to be able to see themselves living in your home, you might want to take down very personal items. It doesn't always happen for something to increase the value of your home just because you like it or it defines you. So be very careful with what you leave in sight.

    Improve the curb appeal

    Buyers appreciate a nicely groomed yard; if you have one, it doesn't cost much to update yours. A home's yard is a good indicator of the overall level of work put into the property. Debris, unkept gardens, or messy yards can quickly turn buyers away. But you can improve your yard by adding plants, rocks, bushes, ground cover, trees, and mulch. That will make it seem attractive and new. A nice yard will encourage buyers to see themselves relaxing outside throughout the year, which will aid in the sale of the property.

    On the other hand, because some buyers will only have the time to visit at night, pay attention to yard illumination. You can give your yard a modern and elegant look using outdoor illumination, such as solar lamps, path lights, wall lanterns, and fairy lights. Make smart investments

    Our homes are growing smarter as the planet embraces the digital revolution. According to recent studies, almost all homes currently have at least one smart gadget. Smart doorbells, thermostats, locks, and lightbulbs are a few examples of such devices that you can operate using your phone or even your voice. Therefore, if you currently don't have any smart technology in your home, try investing in some, as it can offer a great return on investment. And since these gadgets are becoming inexpensive, you don’t even have to break the bank, but they can help you increase the value of your property. Additionally, you'll get to use your smart technology before selling your home.

    Final words

    There are many more ways to increase the value of your home. However, the ones we mentioned are popular, cheap, and require little effort. So if you plan on selling your home now or in the future, use these great ideas to make your sale successful and rewarding. Your buyers will be happy and satisfied with the property they bought, and you will have more money in your pocket.

    Guest Commentary | America is being invaded

    by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

    Recently, in a Mexican restaurant in Houston, Texas, a patron shot and killed a man who was robbing other patrons. The robber was masked and brandishing what appeared to be a pistol. If the man who shot the robber is charged with murder for protecting himself and others from a potentially lethal threat, then we have a serious problem. 

    We have another problem. Millions of undocumented people have crossed our border from El Paso to San Diego and in between.  America is being invaded. We do not have enough free housing, welfare and food stamps to support all these people. 

    Biden wants to mobilize 85,000 IRS agents who will find every dollar they can to support the millions of undocumented people roaming our nation. How many more dollars can the IRS squeeze out of your pocket? Do you have property that they can seize and sell for a few dollars?  85,000 agents will need to find something to do and most likely they will be checking up on everyone. 

    Arizona has been patching holes in their border with containers which has been working. Biden ordered that the containers be removed. Over one million undocumented people have crossed into America through Arizona during Biden’s Presidency. 

    Can you imagine being a farmer or just living on the Southern Border? This is 24-hour a day nightmare for these landowners. Do you think anyone wants to buy their property? These same people are coming to your community. They are looking for jobs and housing. They need money and food. Do you have plenty of affordable housing in your community? Do you have big free food banks to feed these people? If you need a reasonably priced apartment, I would suggest you snatch it fast because people are coming who need that apartment and they may have more help from the government than you do to underwrite the costs. 

    McCarthy, Biden, and Congress must bring back every job we have outsourced to China. We can no longer do business with China. The people who have been living in America the last few years need jobs and millions of new undocumented workers need jobs. By the way, do you remember when the United States Census was a once every ten-year job?  Now, Census workers have to work year-round chasing down people who will not complete U.S. Government Census information. How many full-time census workers will it take to chase down all of these undocumented people? 

    If Biden, McCarthy, and Congress do not protect Social Security your town will probably have to close up. Over 70 million Americans count on Social Security income. Social Security is all or over half of all this number receives each month. As the buying power of the retired population suffers, each community suffers. The government collects social security taxes from people to subsidize us in our old age.  Americans will be back into abject poverty if they don’t keep Social Security strong. 

    Affordable housing, medical insurance and jobs that pay over $15 an hour must also be McCarthy and Biden commitments. We must be able to buy health insurance across state lines. State governments need to make it easier for working poor to have health insurance. We need real people to answer the telephones in the state and local governments. Websites need to be simple and seamless. Working poor Americans feel like their local states aren’t that interested in helping them. 

    Making medical care more affordable will solve problems for everyone including the insurance companies. Publicly listing the cost of services and surgeries was a good idea that most medical providers don’t seem to be following. Making pharmacy purchases from Canada easier is imperative for struggling Americans. 

    We have some problems in America. Biden, McCarthy and Congress have a lot to do. Name calling, and aggressive behavior in the House only makes for a few seconds of television stupidity. America has some problems.  We need for McCarthy and Biden and Congress to step up and help us solve them. 


    -----------------------------------------------------------

    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.


    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Invest in Kids Act expires at the end of the year, lawmakers can change that

    Dylan Sharkey


    by Dylan Sharkey, Assistant Editor
    Illinois Policy
    As lawmakers return to Springfield, the clock is ticking to expand the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program which helps more than 9,000 low-income students find the school that best fits their needs.

    Bose Clodfelter and her family rely on the program as the only way to afford a private school where her children have found a better cultural and academic environment.

    "It’s very important that politicians allow this tax credit to continue so my family can have the opportunity to be a part of a school system where our children and my family as a unit thrives," Clodfelter said.

    The Invest in Kids Act is set to expire at the end of 2023. Families such as the Clodfelters who have benefited from the scholarships are asking lawmakers to make the program permanent to give them and their kids a choice about their schooling.

    "I think that it’s very important for people to have the ability to donate to the tax credit scholarship program because they care about the educational needs of the community and that people have the choice and a right to get the education that they want for their children," she said.

    Tax credit scholarships are funded by donations, with a $75 million cap. Donors then receive an income tax credit equal to 75% of their donation.

    Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently changed his stance and now supports the program.

    State lawmakers are in their lame duck session and have a chance to improve the program by getting rid of the 2023 sunset provision and making the program permanent. While that may be unlikely with gun control and abortion and other issues clouding the short agenda, it would be a great way for parting lawmakers to strengthen their legacy from the 102nd Illinois General Assembly.

    If they do not act, state lawmakers of the 103rd General Assembly will have a new chance starting Jan. 11.



    Dylan Sharkey is an Assistant Editor at Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization that promotes responsible government and free market principles. This story was originally published on January 6, 2023.

    Editorial | A step in the right direction

    The Sentinel editorial today Illinois House Representatives passed legislation banning high-powered weapons and large-capacity magazines last week. It is a step in the right direction. What if it is not enough?

    The bill that passed through the House also created a prohibition and criminal penalties for devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into fully-automatic guns. It now heads to the Senate for approval.

    The 77-page bill still on the Senate table as of this moment, aims to ban the sale of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines with more than 12 rounds in the state.

    Also, anyone possessing hi-cap mags would have 90 days to convert, dispose or sell them.

    Weapon owners who currently own an assault-style weapon would be grandfathered in and get to keep the guns they already legally own. Owners have 300 days after the proposal takes effect to submit the serial numbers of all weapons covered in the legislation to Illinois' state FOID system.



    Of course, there are some who believe gun control doesn't work and that criminals will commit violent crimes regardless of whatever laws are in place. They are correct, in my opinion. Logically speaking, there is no argument against that line of thought.

    However, one could reasonably argue with significantly fewer weapons available to the population over time, the probability of hardened criminals obtaining them to do dirty with them would be significantly lower.

    If the bill doesn't work, if we can't reduce the number of firearms available to the population, we can lean on the wisdom of former GOP governor challenger Darren Bailey and "move on."

    Photo of the Day | January 9, 2023

    McGwire Atwood plays hard-nosed basketball
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Atwood and the Spartans slide by last year's state champs
    ST. JOSEPH - McGwire Atwood slides across the floor on his backwhile going for a loose ball in front of Newton's bench during first-half action in St. Joseph-Ogden's Christie Clinic Shootout game on Saturday. Improving to 12-2 on the season, SJO rolled over the Eagles, last year's Class 2A state champions, 59-35 on their home court.



    Search the PhotoNews Media archives for more photos:

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    Illinois Supreme Court put Safe-T Act on hold until March

    Patrick Andriesen


    by Patrick Andriesen
    Illinois Policy
    The Illinois Supreme Court stayed the controversial no-cash bail provisions of the SAFE-T Act Dec. 31, halting the elimination of cash bail statewide while the lower court’s decision is heard on appeal.

    The order targeting the pretrial provision of the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equality-Today Act came just hours before the omnibus bill was set to take effect Jan. 1. Illinois would have been the first state to end cash bail as a way for defendants to go free until trial, considered as unfair to low-income resident who are often held in jail as wealthier defendants go free.

    The high court’s temporary order was made after a Kankakee County judge ruled against the pretrial release portion of the act for 65 Illinois counties Dec. 28 on the grounds it violated the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights and separation of powers sections of the Illinois Constitution.

    The justices ordered the stay to "maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois" counties while they consider the state’s appeal to the Kankakee County ruling.

    No hearing date has been set but justices announced plans for an "expedited process" to review the appeal on the merits. All other provisions of the criminal justice reform bill went into effect as anticipated Jan. 1. The act phases in police body cameras by 2025, regulates police training and discipline, among other things.

    In his ruling, Circuit Judge Thomas Cunnington sided with 65 of Illinois’ 102 state’s attorneys, citing the importance of the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches. Cunnington said, "The appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat."

    But Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul disagreed. He appealed the lower court decision on behalf of the state, arguing "a judge’s discretion with regards to pretrial detention is expanded" under the new reform.

    Despite the disagreement, legal experts on both sides lauded the Illinois Supreme Court for moving to pause the reforms and prevent unequal enforcement of the new law across Illinois.

    "We are very pleased with the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision," wrote the DuPage and Kane County state’s attorneys in a joint statement. "The equal administration of justice is paramount to the successful and fair administration of our criminal justice system."



    Patrick covers Criminal Justice the Illinois Policy Institute. In this role, he focuses on creating and analyzing content to support our published research and experts in the media. Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization that promotes responsible government and free market principles. This story was originally published on January 2, 2023.

    Illinois tennis program invites fans for a fun-filled kickoff weekend on January 30

    URBANA - The Urbana-Champaign tennis community is invited to the Fighting Illini Tennis 2023 Season Kickoff on Monday, January 30, at Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana.

    The event, scheduled from 5:30 - 7:30pm, will offer the opportunity to meet current men and women student-athletes on the University of Illinois tennis teams. The event features a silent auction, drinks and appetizers, and a sale in the tennis facility's pro shop (see flyer below).

    Illini Tennis Kickoff on January 30. Click for larger view
    "There will be opportunities to bid on cool silent auction items and join Advantage Illinois," said Teri Scaggs, the organizer for the upcoming event. Advantage Illinois is a booster club for the Division 1 program that provides resources and support to Fighting Illini athletes.

    Scaggs added: "This is a promotional event to help bring enthusiasm to support the teams."

    The two-hour event is free and open to the general public. Attendees can RSVP via email to advantageillinois@gmail.com or by calling the Atkins Tennis Center's front desk at (217) 244-8562.

    On Saturday, prior to the kickoff event, the Illinois men's team opens at home with a grueling three-match homestand. The team will play a twin bill on their home indoor courts against Butler University at 10am and return to the hardcourts at 6pm to face in-state Rival Illinois State.

    No rest for the greatest the Illini are back at it on Sunday against Drake University. Illinois owns the series 3-0 against Bulldogs.

    The women's program host their first home meet of the season on Friday, February 3, with a non-conference clash against Georgia Tech. Two days later, the team will take on Notre Dame at Atkins Tennis Center.

    At #53, the Illini will face 12 ITA-ranked college teams this season. The teams, in schedule order, include #72 Kentucky, #6 NC State, #26 Vanderbilt OR #39 Furman, #32 Georgia Tech, #48 Notre Dame, #41 Northwestern, #47 Arizona, #18 Michigan, #64 Maryland, #45 Wisconsin, #57 Minnesota and #59 Nebraska.

    "Our philosophy has always been and will continue to be to play one of the most competitive out of conference schedules in the country," Illini head coach Evan Clark said back in December when the schedule was announced. "I know our team is excited for the tests that comes with it."

    House sneaks in late-night $11.6K raise for Illinois lawmakers, Senate still needs to pass measure


    by Brad Weisenstein, Managing Editor
    Illinois Policy
    SPRINGFIELD - Illinois House members gave themselves a nearly 16% raise during a late-night vote Jan. 6 after many had left for the weekend.

    The move still needs Illinois Senate approval and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature.

    In a lame-duck session that included a scramble to pass bills on abortion and gun control, state representatives put through a bill for mid-year spending adjustments that included the pay raises. They added $11,655 per lawmaker, raising the base to $85,000 annually for a legislature that is technically part-time and as of 2019 was the fourth-highest paid in the nation.

    In reality, many state representatives will get more than $85,000 if the bill becomes law because of salary bonuses for committee responsibilities and leadership positions ranging from $10,000 to $16,000.

    The bill passed the Illinois House 63-35, with about 20 members not voting, some of them already gone for the weekend.

    The raise in base pay is in addition to 2.4% annual cost-of-living increases lawmakers gave themselves in 2019 during another secretive move. Those increases have lawmakers making about $73,345 and hit every July 1.

    “Wages aren’t keeping up with inflation, but we’ve locked in inflation bumps each July, and now, late at night, with no one here, we’ve ensured our pay goes up well beyond what the private sector sees,” state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, told The Associated Press. Batinick is retiring when the 103rd Illinois General Assembly is sworn in Jan. 11.

    Statewide elected leaders got raises in base pay, ranging from $205,700 for the governor to $160,900 for lieutenant governor. Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, has not taken his salary since taking office. The bill created a position of Illinois House speaker pro tempore and gives the Senate another leadership position for attaining a supermajority, which adds a five-figure bump to those two $85,000 lawmaker salaries.

    Illinoisans who object to the 16% pay bumps as inflation rages and threatens another recession should contact Pritzker and urge a veto of Senate Bill 1720.


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

    Four wins and three forfeits fall short for SJO wrestling squad

    ROBINSON -- Four St. Joseph-Ogden wrestlers picked wins in the squad's match against Lawerenceville at the Robinson High School Duals on Saturday.

    SJO won bouts at the first weight classes starting with Gary Page, who pinned Lawrenceville's Drew Seitsinger in their 106-pound match. Then, Emmitt Holt dominated the Indian's Daniel Kiser on his way to a 15-0 technical fall at 113.

    Sophomore Landen Butts held his own against Lawrenceville's Trevor Loy. Going the distance, Butts padded his stats with a 10-7 decision over Loy in their 138-pound match.

    Later, Davin Alverez delivered a quick-six at 145 pounds to the Spartan cause besting Robert Delaure with a 21-second pin.

    Holden Brazelton (132), Owen Birt (220), and Kyle Miccoli (285) won their weight classes by way of forfeits.


    Box Score

    106 Page, Gary (St. Joseph-Ogden) over Seitsinger, Drew (Lawrenceville):: Fall 3:53

    113 Holt, Emmitt (St. Joseph-Ogden) over Kiser, Daniel (Lawrenceville):: Tech Fall 15-0

    120 Foster, Issac (Lawrenceville) over Walsh, Jackson (St. Joseph-Ogden):: Fall 1:45 11-6

    126 Seitsinger, Cale (Lawrenceville) over Goodwin, Brandon (St. Joseph-Ogden):: Decision 9-4

    132 Brazelton, Holden (St. Joseph-Ogden) over (Lawrenceville):: Forfeit

    138 Butts, Landen (St. Joseph-Ogden) over Loy, Trevor (Lawrenceville):: Decision 10-7

    145 Alverez, Davin (St. Joseph-Ogden) over Delaure, Robert (Lawrenceville):: Fall 0:21

    152 Oaks, Casen (Lawrenceville) over Hayes, Coy (St. Joseph-Ogden):: Fall 3:13

    160 Seed, Brian (Lawrenceville) over Swisher, Devan (St. Joseph-Ogden):: Fall 0:45

    170 Lucas, Tyson (Lawrenceville) over Sarnecki, Carlson (St. Joseph-Ogden):: Fall 1:44

    182 Williams, Maliyke (Lawrenceville) over Mata, Gabe (St. Joseph-Ogden):: Fall 0:38

    195 Blackwell, Nathen (Lawrenceville) over Sarver, Peyton (St. Joseph-Ogden):: Fall 5:17

    220 Birt, Owen (St. Joseph-Ogden) over Forfeit (Lawrenceville):: Forfeit

    285 Miccoli, Kyle (St. Joseph-Ogden) over Forfeit (Lawrenceville):: Forfeit

    Running down the Christie Clinic Shootout, our Sunday morning recap

    Kankakee's Larenz Walters goes up for a shot in the fourth quarter in this team's Christie Clinic Shootout game against Peoria Notre Dame. The Kays, who led much of the first three quarters, fell to the Irish 51-46 on Saturday. Walters tallied a game-high 24 points in the loss.


    Peoria Notre Dame 51 - Kankakee 46
    A lackluster third-quarter performance by Kankakee erased a nine-point halftime lead over Notre Dame. The Irish outscored the Kays 13-3 in the period on the way to a 51-46 win in the final game of the day at the Christie Clinic Shootout.

    Larenz Walters drained a game-high 24 points for the Kays and was the only player from his bench to score in the third quarter. Jahiem Porter finished with eight points, and Kennarious Chandler chipped in six more in the loss.

    The Irish were paced by Cooper Koch's 23 points. Missing just one of his 12 free throw attempts, the junior unleashed a 13-point fourth-quarter eruption to keep the chance for victory out of the Kays' reach. Teammate Eoin Dillon was the only other player finishing in double-digits with 12 points.


    St. Joseph-Ogden 59 - Nashville 35 The Spartans beat last year's Class 2A state champions with ease. SJO's starting five put the game on cruise control in the third quarter.


    Normal U-High 56 - Unity 48
    Henry Thomas, who finished with a team-high 13 points, was solid in the paint for the Rockets while senior Will Cowan tossed in four treys for 12 points in a hard-fought battle against the Pioneers. Jay Saunders and Dalton O'Neill contributed seven points apiece in the loss.

    Down by one at the break, U-High's Ty Blake lept into action delivering nine of this team's 13 points in the third frame. Blake finished with 23 points and a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. Mason Funk piled on another 13 points over four quarters in the win for the Pioneers.


    Mount Zion 70 - Bloomington 49
    The Braves (17-2) had a foursome finish in double-figures on their way to knocking off the Raiders in the midday game at the Shootout. Carson Cuddy led all scorers from both sides of the scorer's table with 22 points, 13 tallied in the third quarter.

    JC Anderson drained 12 points across his first three quarters in the fray and finished with 14 points. Lyncoln Koester and Grant Mcatee each chipped in 12 points for the Apollo Conference frontrunners.

    Bloomington (3-11) trailed at the half 51-46 and mustered just 23 points the remainder of the contest.

    Niko Newsome paced BHS with 21 points and Adam Beasley put up 16 to lead their team.


    Centennial 39 - Addison Trail 34
    Picking up their fifth win of the season, the Chargers (5-7) worked their way out of a 12-point deficit to slide past the Blazers in the lowest-scoring game of the day at the shootout. Silent during the first half, Preston Sledge collected all of his game-high 14 points in the second half.

    Addison Trail's Charles Little, Jr., led his squad with 11 points. Joey Morales put in four field goals in the second quarter and one in the third to finish the day with 10 points.


    Beecher 64 - Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin 48
    The Bobcats (17-1) handed senior Brett Meidel and the Blue Devils their fourth loss of the season. BHRA travels to Armstrong on Tuesday to face the Trojans in conference play.



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