Candidates Forum Planned For February 9 Among The Topics In This Week’s Farm Bureau News & Views

bruce-johnsonWashington D.C. trips nearing capacity
Interest is high for the “Washington D.C. in the Springtime” trips sponsored by area Farm Bureaus and Tri-State Travel, with our March 30-April 5 trip now full and less than 10 seats remaining on the April 6-12 outing. Details are posted at and are also available at the Farm Bureau office, so don’t delay if you’re interested in going on this excellent excursion as registration deadline is February 1.

We had a nice crowd for our preview program on January 19, and interest is building for our “Railroads of New England Fall Explorer” trips. We are also offering two options for this trip on September 23-October 2 and October 1-10, with most of the interest leaning towards the earlier date thus far. Travelers also have the option of shortening the bus trip to 8 days by flying home out of Boston if schedules warrant, but we’ve had no takers yet on that option and don’t anticipate it being widely used. Details are online and in our office, and you can call us at (815) 232-3186 for more info on these trips.

Speaking of trips…
We now have details in place for two more summer trips, including our Hawkeye Ag Tour to Iowa on June 9-10. We had to play with dates to fit all of the various tours and other details together, but we have a great program in place. Day one begins with a 10 a.m. tour of Lely Manufacturing in Pella, where they manufacture robotic dairy equipment and other livestock related items. After lunch we’ll tour Vermeer Manufacturing’s facilities producing haying and specialty equipment. We’ll travel to Des Moines for our overnight stay at the new Holiday Inn Express downtown (just opening January 27), and guests will have the option of attending an Iowa Cubs baseball game at nearby Principal Park or spending the evening at Prairie Meadows Casino & Horse Racing. Day two includes a visit to the Monsanto Learning Center at Huxley, a tour of the John Deere Des Moines Works (producing sprayers, cotton pickers, tillage equipment and grain drills), a stop at Maytag Dairy Farms and their cheese store, and a stop at the Kinze Innovations Center in Williamsburg (we won’t be taking the plant tour as they are closed on Fridays).

Saturday August 20 will be our next trek to the fabulous Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana, where we’ll experience the Dairy Adventure, Pig Adventure and the new Crop Adventure at the Midwest’s top “agri-tainment” destination. We’ll leave Freeport at 5:30 a.m. and return in the evening after a supper stop at Portillo’s in Downers Grove. Details on both trips are available at or in the FB office. We should have confirmation on our Cubs/Brewers game in Milwaukee in early February, and our March 23 Deere trip is now full with a waiting list.

Beef banquet scheduled for March 17
You’re invited to attend the Stephenson County Beef Association’s annual banquet on Thursday March 17 at the Farm Bureau. The evening will begin with our famous prime rib dinner at 6:30 p.m. catered by Heilman’s Catering, followed by a brief business meeting. Our featured speaker will be Emily Mottaz Webel from Farmington Illinois, whose “Confessions of a Farm Wife” Internet blog has amassed a large following and provides a humorous and enlightening perspective on our world from the viewpoint of a young mother of six children. Emily’s dad Ted is a farmer and retired ag teacher who is actively involved in many agricultural endeavors, and her mother Janet is a retired teacher who was my first chorus teacher at Knoxville High School in 1974. Emily’s husband Joe Webel is the Farmington ag teacher and also helps in the Mottaz farming operation. You can contact the Farm Bureau office to purchase tickets for this enjoyable evening!

Candidates Forum planned for February 9
The public is invited to a Candidates Forum on Tuesday February 9 at 6:30 p.m., where the candidates from the eight contested county board races along with the state’s attorney and judge races will address issues through targeted questions. The event is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Highland Leadership Institute, and the Stephenson County Farm Bureau, and refreshments will be provided. Join us for an informative evening as we strive for educated voters!

Defensive Driving class scheduled
We’ve scheduled another Defensive Driving class with popular veteran instructor Doug Sommer on March 29-30 at the Farm Bureau. The course will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with lunch provided, and those completing the course may be eligible for discounts on their auto insurance premiums. Call the FB office at (815) 232-3186 to sign up!

Loss of a legend
In the wake of a number of notable deaths in the music industry including Natalie Cole and David Bowie, the one that really touched me was the passing of the rock band Eagles’ co-founder Glenn Frey on January 18 at the age of 67 following a variety of health issues. The Eagles provided a soundtrack for my youth in the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, and their music captured the hearts of a wide range of people. One of my favorites, “Already Gone”, is a key part of some of my running mixes and will continue to keep the Eagles’ legacy alive for me. Rest in peace, Glenn!

Bruce Johnson provides his weekly News & Views column and is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau

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