Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hog inventories climb in Illinois

Hog inventories climb in Illinois

Hog inventories climb in Illinois, Metamora Herald

Illinois News Network

The hog industry is booming, and Illinois' economy is benefiting through the addition of thousands of jobs.

The U.S. hog inventory has gone up 2 percent since this time last year, and Illinois has experienced about the same rate of growth over that time.

Jennifer Tirey, executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association, said the growth can be attributed to five new processing plants in Iowa, Missouri, Michigan and Minnesota.

The increase in facilities equals an increase in pork output.

“In 2016, we had 2.4 million roughly for capacity," Tirey said. "Now, our capacity in 2017 is up to almost 2.6 million."

The pork industry is one of the few in Illinois that still operates in the black, according to Tirey. It employs more than 10,000 people.

“Within our industry there are no minimum wage jobs," Tirey said. "Most of the jobs are in the high teens for starting out if not higher, and a lot of the employees that work at these farms see a lot of internal movement."

Tirey said the increase has an impact beyond the farm.

“It’s about raising the animals and sending that animal to market, and then we’re processing it, and so it’s such a large chain for our industry in Illinois,” Tirey said.

Hog inventory growth affects the global market. As hog numbers continue to grow, Tirey said it’s important to maintain free trade agreements.

“Twenty-seven percent of all of our product is exported overseas, so that is something that we are pushing to continue,” Tirey said.

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Young laborers needed for skilled trades in Illinois

Young laborers needed for skilled trades in Illinois

Young laborers needed for skilled trades in Illinois, Metamora Herald

It’s a far too common theme. The average age of farmers is rising, as is the average age of aviation mechanics. And laborers in other skilled trades agree, there aren’t enough young people stepping in to fill looming retirements.

A roundtable in Decatur Monday featured representatives from high schools and community colleges talking with private sector unions on how they can collaborate more to increase awareness and younger participants.

The event was organized by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s state director, Bill Houlihan, also was on hand.

Riki Dial, an organizing coordinator with the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, said part of the problem is the mindset of the past few decades to get kids to focus only on college.

“There are other options out there,” Dial said. “A lot of the students and a lot of their parents don’t understand that and don’t push their kids into that skilled trade.”

Al Scheider, a guidance counselor at MaCarthur High School in Decatur, attends an annual guidance counselor conference and said the trends are changing.

“I would talk to people that just would totally act like that was horrible to support a kid going into a technical career,” Scheider said. “In the last couple of years, I’ve seen a big change in that.”

Scheider said guidance counselors should guide students to all opportunities, not just college. He also suggested not using terminology like “college and career ready,” but instead “post secondary education ready” because learning a skilled trade after high school is valuable.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 146 Business Manager Josh Sapp said more outreach needs to happen.

“If there’s one thing that everybody needs to work on, it’s to expose their kids to the idea that they can get a career without going to college,” Sapp said.

Dial said explaining the economics should be enough of a selling point.

“Mostly the students, but even some of the teachers were astonished listening to the wages we make and the benefit packages we have,” Dial said.

Dial and others said workers don’t have to go into debt to get a college degree to make a good living in skilled trades.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in Illinois the average salary for a carpenter is more than $62,000.

BLS reports the average salary for secondary school teachers in Illinois is more than $70,000, but that may come with student loan debt.

The average student loan debt in Illinois is nearly $30,000, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

Various community college representatives said more can be done to collaborate and coordinate with all stakeholders to get more interest in the trades. There was also an emphasis on getting vocational training back in high schools.

Davis said the issue isn’t about more government money.

“We need all hands on deck,” Davis said. “I know a lot of companies are willing to invest to get good training programs to be able to get workers that are going to be ready to hit the ground as soon as they’re hired on Day 1.”

Davis said he wants to circle back in six months with the education and labor officials to follow up on the conversation and see what kinds of things the federal government can do.

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Illinois to drivers: Don't swerve, hit the deer

Illinois to drivers: Don't swerve, hit the deer

Illinois to drivers: Don't swerve, hit the deer, Metamora Herald

Over the next few weeks, drivers in Illinois will see a lot more deer out and about. And the state is offering some advice for if a deer runs into the road: Hit the deer.

It sounds counter-intuitive or even cruel, Ed Cross, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said. But it is much safer to hit the deer than to swerve and try to avoid it, he added.

"If you go in one direction, you run the risk of going into a ditch. Possibly rolling your car, hitting a tree, hitting a pole," Cross said. "Or, if you decide to avoid the deer, you may go into the other lane of traffic and hit a car."

It is breeding season, and deer will be most active at dusk and dawn.

"Early morning, when the sun first starts breaking, that is a high traffic time for deer," Cross said. "Same thing for the drive home. When deer are heading back into cover."

Cook County had the most deer vs. car accidents last year, according to Illinois' numbers, mainly because it has the most drivers. But all but two of the top 10 counties for deer accidents are downstate.

Cross said people who live in the state can claim a deer that they hit. They simply have to notify DNR within 24 hours.

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Editorial: Crosswalk at 116 & Davenport

Editorial: Crosswalk at 116 & Davenport

Editorial: Crosswalk at 116 & Davenport, Metamora Herald

 Most folks in Metamora and the surrounding burgs have traveled on Illinois Route 116 past the square here in Metamora. Unfortunately, not everyone stops at the crosswalk on Davenport when pedestrians are present. There are laws and ordinances in place that govern this crosswalk, but many drivers just continue right by. There are no lights here, just some signs that inform drivers of their responsibility to stop.
Please be sure to do the right thing and stop when  pedestrians are attempting to cross this busy thoroughfare.

Friday, October 20, 2017

October 24th, World Polio Day

October 24th, World Polio Day

photo courtesy of Rotary Clubs International

 Rotary clubs throughout East Central Illinois are planning a multi-media, public awareness campaign for World Polio Day, Oct. 24.  They will be using billboards, newspapers and public service announcements in at least 40 locations. This 5th annual World Polio Day celebrates the birthday of Dr. Jonas Salk, creator of the first vaccine against polio in 1955. District 6490 Governor Larry J. Howell of the Arcola Rotary Club said: "the goal is to increase public awareness of Rotary’s goal of eradicating polio."

 According to the CDC:

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. It is caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body). Most people who get infected with poliovirus (about 72 out of 100) will not have any visible symptoms. About 1 out of 4 people with poliovirus infection will have flu-like symptoms that may include: Sore throat, Fever, Tiredness, Nausea, Headache, Stomach pain. These symptoms usually last 2 to 5 days then go away on their own.
A smaller proportion of people with poliovirus infection will develop other more serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord:
Paresthesia (feeling of pins and needles in the legs)
Meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain) occurs in about 1 out of 25 people with poliovirus infection
Paralysis (can’t move parts of the body) or weakness in the arms, legs, or both, occurs in about 1 out of 200 people with poliovirus infection
Paralysis is the most severe symptom associated with polio because it can lead to permanent disability and death. Between 2 and 10 out of 100 people who have paralysis from poliovirus infection die because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe.
Even children who seem to fully recover can develop new muscle pain, weakness, or paralysis as adults, 15 to 40 years later. This is called post-polio syndrome.

In 1985, Rotary introduced PolioPlus, a pledge to immunize every child in the world with the polio vaccine and to raise $120 million for the effort. Within three years, Rotary raised more than $287 million to end polio and led the cause to involve the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF.

Ten years ago, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined with Rotary in the fight against polio, agreeing to match every dollar raised by Rotarians with $2.  Four years later, the world thought the last case was reported in India and polio was virtually eliminated.  However, the wild poliovirus came back in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.  So, in June, Rotary agreed to raise $50 million a year for three consecutive years to combat polio, and the Gates Foundation decided to continue its 2-for-1 match.

In an effort spearheaded by Fred Heilich, chair of the District 6490 Polio Eradication Committee and a member of the Tuscola Rotary Club, billboards will be popping up throughout East Central Illinois proclaiming World Polio Day. Also, some District 6490 clubs will be collecting money at busy street corners.  There are Pennies for Polio collections planned in some schools.

If you are interested in participating in this fantastic cause and helping out or donating contact our local Rotary club This event is so crucial to the entire world, and eradicating this terrible disease in our lifetime would be an incredible achievement. Shortly, I will be writing an article on some of the other beautiful ways Rotary Clubs are helping locally and globally.