Five things I’ve learned about saving energy

It wasn’t long ago we were in the throes of below zero weather. While your heating bills this winter probably weren’t as bad as the ones we all experienced a few years back when fuel prices spiked, it is ALWAYS a good thing to plan a bit ahead and consider improving your home’s energy efficiency. Weather sealing and insulation might ...Read More

Down to earth answer for EPA rule

Climate change is a hot-button issue worldwide, as nations wrangle with ways to cut carbon emissions that are warming the planet. The Obama Administration has voiced its commitment to the cause, and through executive order has directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to come up with solutions. Last June (2014), EPA proposed a rulemaking for new regulations under the ...Read More


A tribute to Grandma

This column is in memory of my grandmother, Ruth Harlan, who passed away August 8 at the age of 97. The farm. While I did not grow up on a farm or a ranch, I did grow up visiting my mom’s family farm in Illinois every year, and sometimes more often. We went to the farm to see my aunts, ...Read More

Townships the oldest form of government

Township government is not as high profile or as ­politically ­oriented as other forms of ­government. Most township ­officials are just ­average folks who want to have a leadership role in their ­community and make a difference. And most of the services they ­provide aren’t headline ­grabbers — just ­fundamental services like road maintenance and human service ­programs that help ...Read More


Promotion of education

One of my favorite bumper ­stickers is, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” The importance of education was drilled into me by my parents and grandmother from my earliest memories around the age of four. It is no accident that we educate children from a very early age while their young minds are still dry sponges willing to ...Read More


Ditch the rule on ditches

The Illinois Farm Bureau® (IFB) has carefully analyzed the proposal to change the Clean Water Act that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published in the Federal Register on April 21. In doing so, we have concluded that it broadly expands federal jurisdiction, threatens local land-use and zoning authority and is ...Read More

Mapping out a path from school to career

The idea that all college students are the same, or that there is only one way to prepare for a productive work life, is harmfully wrong. High school to college to career works for some. High school to work to ­college — or high school to trade to retirement no college — also works. Universities diminish opportunity and effectiveness while ...Read More

EPA rules have consequences for consumers

Today’s political environment for Illinois coal producers is ­hauntingly similar to that of the 1990s as an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty prevail. While the cause of it might not be the same, the threats and consequences today are much graver for the industry, the U.S. ­consumer and those in poverty-stricken countries.Back then an amendment to the Clean Air Act ...Read More

Let’s change how we make state budgets

The state budget is in a terrible mess. According to the Fiscal Futures Project, Illinois has a ­growing gap between sustainable revenues and projected spending levels and the largest unfunded pension liability in the nation. However, tax increases, spending cuts and aggressive pension changes alone are not enough to fix Illinois’ problems permanently.In May 2014, the General Assembly was in ...Read More

Help keep rates affordable

On June 2, the U.S. Environ­mental Protection Agency (EPA) released an ­approximately 1600 page series of ­documents, including a new 645-page proposed rule, aimed at regulating carbon emissions at ­existing power plants. While Illinois’ electric cooperatives care very much about a clean environment, we are respectfully very concerned about the dramatic effect the new rule, if adopted, could likely have ...Read More