Political Dysfunction, European River Cruise, Scholarship Opportunity And More This Week

Welcoming a new wave of member discounts!
bruce-johnsonOur summer intern Miranda Grisham had a very productive week of reaching out to local businesses in an effort to recruit more partners in our Membership Value Program. As of submission time for this column, she’s already signed up 14 new partners with more expected in the days ahead. Freeport businesses now offering discounts to our Stephenson County Farm Bureau members are Quizno’s, Papa Murphy’s, Computer Pros, Freeport Bicycle Company, PHK Bicycles, One More Time Antiques, Vogue Boutique, Gemorifics and Royal Oaks Antiques & Collectibles. We’re also pleased to welcome these great Lena partners: Brenden’s Hardware, The Sugar Bowl, Subway, Lena Milling Company, and Café 217 Espresso and Bakery Shoppe. We have updated our brochure and these new discounts are also included on our complete website listing at www.stephensoncfb.org under the “Membership” tab. We thank these outstanding local businesses for offering these valuable discounts to our members, and we hope to announce more soon. Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities to add value to Farm Bureau membership!

Independent map amendment moving forward
After nearly 570,000 signatures were gathered statewide, the validation process is complete and the proposal to change the way our legislative districts are determined will be put on the November ballot as a referendum question for the voters to decide. It appears that at least 73% of the signatures are genuine and appropriate, and the issue will be put forth for the public to determine whether an independent commission should have the task of drawing the district lines, as opposed to previous years where the majority party coordinated the process. This is a great victory for meaningful legislative reform by eliminating the ability for legislators to develop districts based on weighted voter concentrations and power pockets.

Scholarship opportunity
The R. C. Miller Agriculture Scholarship Fund is seeking individuals interested in applying for a scholarship for the 2016-2017 academic year.  Funds are given to help college and university students who are, or will be, studying agriculture, natural resources or related programs with an emphasis in conservation. Those chosen to receive the award will be awarded a $1000 scholarship. To be eligible to apply, individuals must be residents of Stephenson County and be enrolled in an agriculture or related degree program with an emphasis in conservation. Applicants must be accepted at their chosen college or university and be a full-time student carrying a minimum of 12 hours per semester.

The R.C. Miller Scholarship was established by Miller, a life time Stephenson County resident and ardent supporter of agriculture, natural resources and conservation.  Miller, who died in 2007, left a legacy in the community for his support of a variety of programs and efforts, especially youth and conservation causes. To receive an application, please call the U of I Extension-Stephenson County at (815) 235-4125.  Completed applications are due by June 24, 2016 to the U of I Extension Office-Stephenson County, 2998 W. Pearl City Road, Freeport.  If requested, the application can be emailed to applicants for completion. The Stephenson County 4-H and Extension Foundation Board is responsible for selecting the scholarship winners.  Past recipients may re-apply for consideration each year.

European river cruise preview program
We have scheduled a preview program on Tuesday June 21 at 7 p.m. at the Farm Bureau to share the details of our European River Cruise with Lindstrom Travel. The cruise is planned for September 21-October 1, 2017 with a fabulous itinerary planned, and the flyer is posted on our website at www.stephensoncfb.org. Join us on June 21 to see and hear the plans for this fabulous excursion!

Political dysfunction
We continue to wade through the mire of political disrepair on both the state and national level, and the frustration reaches a new level with each passing week. The stalemate continues in Springfield where legislators are shackled by the juvenile, irresponsible actions of party leadership who refuse to move forward on any efforts to develop not one but two delinquent state budgets, while schools, social service agencies, and many other agencies and entities watch their futures hang in limbo. I read last week that my alma mater, Knoxville High School, is one of the five districts in their area (out of nine) that won’t have enough reserves to finish the 2016-17 school year if a budget isn’t passed soon. I can’t begin to understand the motivation for inactivity by the Senate and House leadership, as they seem content to point fingers of blame and watch things crumble in ruin around them. We’re reaching a point of no return in many cases, and I hope that something changes soon to stop the bleeding.
On the national front, I’ve never been more disappointed in our choices for president, and I wait anxiously to see if some miraculous developments will change the landscape at the respective conventions this summer. It’s a surreal and troubling scenario right now as we watch the bizarre campaign continue to be a spectacle more suited for TV than real life.

Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau.

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