Secondary Feature

Questions and answers about your social security

By Becky Whitlow, Social Security District Manager, Springfield The answers to many of your social security questions may be only a mouse click away. Go to to learn how to replace a card, find a retirement ­calculator, apply for benefits, change your address or set up direct deposit for your benefits. Here are a […]

Mapping out a unique retirement mission

Grandma’s jigsaw puzzle of the United States – one that identified every state of the union – apparently made quite an impression on little Gene Alexander. He fondly recalls working his grandmother’s puzzle even as a child of four or five. “I loved to put that thing together,” he remembers. “I knew all of my […]

Ten vegetables with the best payback

If you’re going to take a shot at growing your own dinner this year, a good place to start is by picking the crops that offer the best return on your investment. Experienced gardeners quickly learn that some types of home-grown vegetables work out better than others. Choices such as onions and peppers, for example, […]

2016 Sweet Wedding Cake Trends

It’s no secret wedding cake traditions have changed over time. In the 1950s, wedding cakes typically had three to four stacked tiers connected by columns or pillars for extra height. During that era, cakes were often displayed under a floral decorative arch. Forget the thought of using the smooth, polished appearance of fondant. Instead, mountainous piles of intricate […]

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner toured the Abbott Power Plant in November to learn about the carbon capture research underway at the University of Illinois. Foreground L-R: Barbara Wilson, U of I Interim Chancellor; Kevin O’Brien, Director, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center; and Governor Rauner.

Cutting carbon from coal plants

The difficulty the world’s nations displayed recently in Paris in making firm commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions underlined the fact that there will not be one solution to global warming. There will be as many as we can think of. At the December COP21 Summit in Paris, promises to reduce carbon dioxide releases from […]

Prairie State Power Plant

Setting high expectations

Thanksgiving week marked my first anniversary as Chief Executive Officer of the Prairie State Energy Campus. My personal philosophy and the philosophy I use to lead the Prairie State team is simple: I want the place where I live, work and worship to be better tomorrow than it is today. Success in my job is […]

Co-op leaders discuss rural broadband and solar energy with Congressman Shimkus

U.S. Congressman John Shimkus (R-15th, Collinsville) discussed rural broadband and energy issues with electric co-op leaders on November 20. He also toured one of two recently opened 500 kW solar farms owned by Prairie Power, Inc. (PPI), a ­generation and transmission ­cooperative serving 10 electric ­distribution cooperatives. Before touring the solar farm, the co-op leaders […]

Q & A about your social security

By Becky Whitlow, Social Security District Manager, Springfield Before standing in line at your local Social Security office, you may find that the answers to your questions are only a click away on your computer. At you can learn about disability ­coverage, review your online earnings statement, and get a ­personalized estimate of your […]

Six innovative small business models in small towns

Small towns in Illinois don’t have to settle for business as usual. And entrepreneurship is the best way to support small towns. When local people start their own businesses and prosper, they help their towns to prosper, too. Rural entrepreneurs are exploring new shapes, new ­locations and new ways of doing ­business. Here are six innovative […]

Holland plant

Natural gas catching up with coal as an electricity fuel

Energy made history last April when more electricity in the U.S. was generated with natural gas than with coal. It lasted only a month, but it signals huge changes that are making the landscape of power production a lot more complicated. In April, natural gas fueled 32 percent of the electricity in the U.S., compared […]