Treasurer race could spark recount; Kirk seeks probe

SPRINGFIELD — The race for state treasurer remains undecided nearly two weeks after Election Day, with both campaigns agreeing fewer than 400 votes now separate the candidates in what could be the closest statewide race in Illinois in at least a century. It also may lead to the first recount request in three decades.

Here’s a link to the story.

Benton man arrested on outstanding warrant

A 46-year-old Benton man was arrested after failing to appear in Franklin County court.

Thomas Wright was arrested Monday on an active Franklin County warrant after he missed a court date.

Wright was taken to the Franklin County Jail for processing.



Free cardiac risk screening from Prairie Heart Institute

Space still available for Prairie Power Check at University Mall

(CARBONDALE, IL) Appointments are still available for the fourth and final Prairie Power Check of 2014 at SIH The Place at University Mall. The Prairie Power Check involves a series of free screenings and cardiac risk assessments for residents of southern Illinois. The last Prairie Power Check for the year is scheduled for Saturday, November 22 from 8:00 am until noon at SIH The Place at University Mall.

Prairie Heart Institute Southern Illinois Healthcare encourages women over the age of 45 and men over the age of 35 to be screened for cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose. Participants can also register for an individualized cardiac risk assessment and walk through the mall with leading cardiologists for personal insights on heart health. Those with a family history of heart disease are especially encouraged to attend.
“Your genes, lifestyle and what you eat all play a role in your cardiac health, but there is a comprehensive way to assess your risk for heart disease. While heredity and age are large contributors to heart disease, there are other risk factors that you have the power to change to improve your heart health, and we all could use answers,” said Firas al-Badarin, MD, a cardiologist with Prairie Cardiovascular in Carbondale.
For accurate results, some of the screenings require a fasting period of nine to 12 hours prior to screening.
To register, please call the SIH Call Center at 866-744-2468.

West Frankfort to start assessing fines on landlords in violation of city ordinance

Making good on a promise he made prior to Election Day, Mayor Tom Jordan said Wednesday night that the City of West Frankfort will be taking action against landlords who do not comply with the city’s Non-Owner Occupied Housing Ordinance in the new year.

Former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne dies at age 81

Former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne died Friday morning at the age of 81.

Here’s a link to the story in the Chicago Tribune.

Franklin County Farm Bureau News

Gay Bowlin, Manager

Temperatures have reached the lowest of the season and the National Weather Service states that these cold temps will be the norm for most of the winter months.

Gay Bowlin

Gay Bowlin

We should not expect anything much warmer than the low 40s through midweek next week.

The fruit prices were incorrect in last week’s article – here are the correct prices listed below
We are taking orders for fruit again this year – the prices are as follows
Grapefruit – 4/5 bushel – $25    2/5 bushel – $15

Oranges – 4/5 bushel – $26       2/5 bushel – $16

Tangelos – 4/5 bushel – $25      2/5 bushel – $15The fruit orders must be received no later than November 24 and will be delivered the week of December 15.

Pecans sell for $9.00 1 lb bag and chocolate covered pecans are $8.00 for 12 oz – they will be available for pick up before Thanksgiving and we are taking orders.  Call the office at 435-3616.

Attention all Franklin County Farm Bureau Members – take the time to mark your calendars for Monday December 1 and to call the office to make your reservations for our County Annual Meeting.  The meeting will be at the Benton Civic Center with food served at 6:15 p.m. There will be a Silent Auction and this year we are pleased to announce that Magician Chris Egelston will be this year’s entertainment.  Call the office at 435-3616 by November 21 to make your reservations.

Drive through rural parts of Illinois and you’ll see them everywhere … on farms and at grain elevators. Piles of corn. Lots of them. Huge piles. Never before has this much corn been harvested in the U.S. In fact, the 2014 growing season was so successful that state officials have approved temporary storage for 107 million bushels of grain (hence the corn piles) because of the likelihood that storage silos will be full both on farms and at grain elevators.

Those piles of corn are symbolic of many things.

They symbolize farmers’ resilience. Just two short years ago, much of the nation’s corn crop burned up in the field as the country’s midsection experienced a punishing drought.

They symbolize farmers’ productivity. This year’s U.S. harvest will set a new record – in excess of 14 billion bushels of corn. For years there has been a trend away from making goods and toward service-industry jobs in this country. Yet farmers have never stopped delivering a tangible product.

They symbolize ingenuity and resourcefulness. Those kernels of corn will become food ingredients both here and abroad. They’ll feed livestock, ultimately nourishing populations around the world that are becoming more prosperous and desiring higher-quality protein. They’ll be converted into fuel in the form of ethanol, which provides jobs for American workers, is better for our environment and moves the U.S. closer to energy independence.

In this crop is food, feed, fuel and fiber. Produced humbly and quietly by farmers who, for generations, have done the same. Benjamin Franklin said, “Then plough deep while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep.” All these years later, his words are true at a magnitude he surely never imagined.

With more corn in the U.S. this does not necessarily mean that farmers are making more money – the price of corn per bushel has fallen from over $7 per bushel in 2012 to just over $3 per bushel today. The price to grow corn has not fallen just the selling price. Farmers are not making more money just because they are growing more corn.

American consumers are putting together more meals at home — though not necessarily cooked meals — and eating fewer meals out, according to an a new study by the research firm NPD Group.

This makes for one of the biggest changes in eating patterns of Americans over the past five years, concludes the comprehensive study of more than 7,000 consumers, the 29th Annual Eating Patterns in America Report.

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Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.

How much did a vote cost in Illinois gubernatorial race

Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner shattered campaign spending records on the 2014 governor’s race. We crunched the numbers to figure out what each candidate paid per vote. Money well spent?

Here’s a link to the story in Reboot Illinois.

Study shows RLC makes huge economic impact on the region

INA, Ill. – Odds are you or someone you know has been affected by Rend Lake College’s economic impact in the last decade, whether that be directly from graduating with a degree or certificate and a subsequent increase in wages, or indirectly through a number of capital projects.

A new “Economic Impact of Rend Lake College” (EIS) report investigated the many economic contributions RLC makes in the region, in what the study calls “the least measured and understood” strength of the college. The report was prepared by the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in partnership with the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

The source of community college student employment and earnings data is the Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage record data reported by Illinois employers for each of their employees. UI data are collected on a quarterly basis by the IDES. Using these data, the EIS examined student enrollment and completion data over a 12-year period and matched earnings data with students who graduated or otherwise left the college for two, full, consecutive semesters.

Of RLC’s strengths, the EIS states that the college, “adds skills for the local workforce; boosts the competitiveness of area businesses; graduates individuals who generate millions of dollars in local, state, and federal tax revenues; and increases earnings for workers who have graduated.”

RLC President Terry Wilkerson knows the importance of the college to the local communities and sees the positive effects it has on a day-to-day basis.

“The faculty and the staff at Rend Lake College know the significance of being a community college that continues to have a huge impact on local people and businesses,” said Wilkerson. “We know that we can go to almost any business in the area and find an RLC grad or someone who has attended to improve their existing skills. We’re training our friends and neighbors here, and this Economic Impact Study is affirmation that we’re doing something right for them.”

Among the biggest benefits of RLC are the opportunities it opens for students who attend and graduate. The EIS states that a 25-year-old program graduate of RLC can expect a total lifetime earnings gain of $602,000 – a 46 percent increase over those not completing a community college program.

Additionally, students who completed their education at RLC in 2011 have seen a $5,644 increase in earnings over their pre-enrollment wages.

“It’s proven that a community college education is both an investment and a savings for those who take advantage of our services,” said Wilkerson. “By setting aside time to complete a program or certificate at RLC, students are foregoing earnings, but the rate of return on that investment is well worth it.”

In the year following completion, 81 percent of students who graduated in 2011 were employed in Illinois, which is slightly higher than the statewide average of 77 percent. Looking further back, 92 percent of students who graduated in 2005 were employed in Illinois within five years after completion.

RLC students also make up a large portion of taxpayers in the district. Both enrollees and completers from 2003 have paid an estimated $80 million in state taxes and $268 million in federal taxes combined through 2012.

The college is among the largest employers in the district and continues to generate additional economic benefits for local communities through expenditures and employment impacts. In 2012, almost 420 faculty and staff members lived in the district, with a total payroll of almost $13.2 million.

The college also purchases goods and services from local communities, in addition to income earned and then spent by employees, to further boost the local economy. In 2012, RLC reported $10.6 million in operating and capital expenditures. As these expenditures mixed into the local economy, RLC’s direct and indirect expenditures approached a total of $19.5 million in value and 500 jobs, according to the study.

“Like me, many of our faculty and staff are Rend Lake graduates themselves who see the value in a post-secondary education and are driven by the need to pass their knowledge on to others,” said Wilkerson. “While our employees are a big factor in the local economy, we also work with other businesses for projects, like the recent Pathway to Success or renovations to the art classrooms, and those businesses employ their own people who in turn continue to pump money back out. It’s one big cycle that I’m proud to say RLC is a vital part of.”

The EIS report also delved into the characteristics of students and program enrollment at RLC to better understand the economic impact. These students attended RLC between 2000 and 2012.

Overall, there has been an increase of about 3,100 enrollments at RLC in credit courses, going from 11,344 in 2000 to 14,469 in 2012. The rate of increase in program completers has also increased, according to the study, from 518 in 2000 to 877 in 2012, a 69.3 percent increase.

The study also found more students enrolling immediately after high school with the declining age of enrollees. The average age of students enrolling in 2000 was 37.3, and the number decreased to 34.7 in 2012. In fact, the percentage of enrollees aged 24 or less increased from 25.3 to 35.2 during those same years. Likewise, the average age of completers also decreased from 27.4 to 26.6 years.

Veteran enrollment has also increased at RLC, with a total of 790 veterans making up 5.5 percent of the total enrollment at RLC in 2012. They were 3.8 percent of the completers in 2012 as well. That same year, RLC was awarded its first of three consecutive Military Friendly School recognitions by veteran-owned business Victory Media. The credit was the result of a survey of approximately 8,000 schools based on their support of military students.

Of all the enrollees, the largest percentage of students (51.5 percent in 2012) indicate that improving skills for a current job as their purpose for attending RLC. Other large groups have been personal interest, followed by those preparing for a future job. Students pursuing an associate degree made up the majority of completers every year from 2000 to 2012.

Three programs represented 80 percent of all enrollments: vocational skills, baccalaureate instruction, and transfer instruction. Of those, four broad instructional programs stand out with 88 percent of enrollments in 2012, including health professions and related sciences; liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities; engineering-related technologies; and multi- or interdisciplinary sciences.

Health professions improved the most from 11 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2012. The same programs also had the largest percent of completers in 2012 at 35 percent, followed by liberal arts and sciences at 24 percent.

Kim Robert, RLC Dean of Allied Health, said the increase in enrollment into the health care programs and certificates is largely due to the growth in options for students and the bigger need in the community to care for an aging population.

“Since 2007, we’ve added two new Allied Health degrees in the Certified Medical Assistant, which is also a certificate, and the Radiologic Technology programs. We also have seven certificates for more specified instruction,” said Robert. “In our district alone, there is a growing need for people in the health care industry that can’t be filled quickly enough, resulting in more of our students getting jobs immediately following graduation. It’s wonderful to see the huge growth in attendees and graduates who are getting back out into the workforce.”

Modeled after a statewide economic impact analysis of Illinois Community Colleges, the EIS for RLC was com­missioned to better understand the return from investing in the college. About 15 individuals from NIU, the ICCB, and the IDES contributed to developing the report.

RLC is one of 39 community colleges in the state that play a vital role in the educational and workforce preparation of the individuals and communities they serve. RLC provides high-quality, accessible, and cost-effective educational opportunities for residents in an eight-county area in Southern Illinois that includes portions of Franklin, Hamilton, Jef­ferson, Perry, Washington, Wayne, White, and Williamson counties.

Founded in 1955 as Mt. Vernon Community College, RLC offers academic and career technical instruction through associate degree, transfer, or certificate programs of study as well as adult and continuing education programs that serve as a gateway to higher education for many com­munity residents, employers, and K-12 students. Courses are offered on the RLC main campus in Ina, at satellite campuses in Pinckneyville and Mt. Vernon, and through online instruction.

Benton man arrested for driving on a suspended license

Staff Report

A 30-year-old Benton man was arrested by Benton police following a routine traffic stop.

According to the police report Matthew S. Rush was stopped at the intersection of Washington Street and North Du Quoin Street.  After an investigation Rush was arrested for driving on a suspended license.  Rush was charged and transported to the Franklin County Jail.


State treasurer’s race still too close to call

A clear winner has yet to emerge in the race for Illinois state treasurer, and the margin is so close that the candidates are already preparing for a possible recount.

Here’s the link in the Arlington Daily Herald.