Enthusiastic travelers enjoy Washington D.C. trips
Over 100 area residents participated in back-to-back bus trips to Washington D.C. recently, hosted by area Farm Bureaus and Tri-State Travel. The first trip had 51 passengers traveling March 30-April 5, while two coaches carrying a combined 60 travelers made the trip on April 6-12 with one bus originating from the Quad Cities and the other from Galena. While the cherry blossoms had unfortunately faded by the time we arrived, the trip was filled with lots of sightseeing and educational opportunities. My wife Andrea and I helped host the Galena bus which included 23 Stephenson County passengers, and we took advantage of the opportunity to spend a few days with our son and daughter-in-law Dave and Andrea and our precious granddaughter Sofia in Arlington Virginia while there. We enjoyed a little sightseeing, some great meals, and lots of entertaining play time. Sofia is being immersed in the Armenian language as they prepare for their departure to Armenia in early November for Dave’s first two-year stint in the Foreign Service, and she now clearly calls us Tatik and Papik (Armenian for “grandma” and “grandpa”).
While we were away from the group for much of the DC touring, we really enjoyed the tour of Arlington National Cemetery, the guided tour of the Gettysburg battlefield (our guide was amazing), and a stop at the new Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania honoring the memory of those lives lost in that piece of the September 11, 2001 tragedies. There are many more phases of the Flight 93 site being developed, and it is well worth the trip as it is a very moving and inspirational display. Andrea and I are considering a return trip to Gettysburg next year as they have a half marathon that runs through the battlefield in October, and there is a lot more to see there that we didn’t have time to enjoy.
Our trip unfortunately experienced some adversity as our bus had mechanical issues just one hour from our first-night hotel in the Cleveland area; fortunately the other bus had already arrived and unloaded, and he doubled back to pick us up and get us to the hotel about 3 hours after our scheduled arrival. Our fabulous driver Bob Wand from Galena then took the crippled bus back 40 miles to the west, stuck in third gear, and spent the night at a motel before meeting another TST driver with a new coach at 5 a.m. We were right back on schedule after that, but then a stomach virus started making its way through the group with about ten passengers from our bus and four from the other coach getting sick from day three through the final day. In spite of these challenges, the group had a great time and returned home safe and sound.
Money Smart Week
Money Smart Week is April 23-30, 2016 with the kick-off press conference on Saturday April 23 at 9:30 a.m. at the Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas St. Free educational seminars begin at 10 a.m. at the library with additional sessions held throughout the week at several locations in Stephenson and Jo Daviess Counties. Money Smart Week is a national public awareness campaign coordinated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to help individuals and families better manage their personal finances. All events are free and open to the public. It was launched in 2002 as a one-city program in Chicago and has grown to all 50 states, with more than 4,800 events and 184,000 participants annually.
Hosting free educational events across the country are hundreds of partner organizations including financial institutions, libraries, government agencies, schools, media and nonprofit organizations. National partners are the American Library Association, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Financial Planning Association, and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Cooperative Extension. More than 4,000 free Money Smart Week events will be hosted throughout the country on topics ranging from saving for college, preparing for retirement, buying a home, using credit wisely, protecting yourself from identity theft, managing day-to-day on a shoestring budget, plus learning many other financial techniques, including money management and activity events designed for kids.
Locally there are approximately 50 educational events scheduled, each lasting one hour. The local co-chairs this year are Diane Reinhold from University of Illinois Extension (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Julie Smith from Cornerstone Credit Union (email@example.com ). They have been working for more than six months with a group of volunteer professionals to create a well-rounded and informative experience for attendees. Event information is searchable by state, county, zip code, topic or keyword at www.moneysmartweek.org or http://web.extension.illinois.edu/jsw/.
Spring fieldwork progress
The wheels are slowly starting to turn throughout the state as planting season is upon us. Though there were reports of some very early planted corn downstate, the April 11 Illinois Crop Progress Report showed just 2% of the corn planted statewide, slightly behind the 5-year average of 6%. The variable temperatures and occasional precipitation has kept area farmers from getting too excited, but as I write this the forecast is calling for mostly sunny and warmer temps for the next ten days or more. Please be on the lookout for increasing agricultural traffic on our roadways in the coming weeks and months, and be sure to slow down and allow a little extra room as you encounter such equipment. Let’s make it a safe spring!
Door County vacancies
We have three spots available on this year’s Door County Adventure VII on August 1-4, so give us a call if you’d like to join us on one of our most popular trips. The details can be found at www.stephensoncfb.org or by calling (815) 232-3186.
Signup continues for our June 9-10 Hawkeye Ag Tour, so check out the details on the website and get on board for this fun and educational trip!
Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau