Stephenson Scenes 2017 Photo Contest

bruce-johnsonComing down the election home stretch
It’s just a matter of days until the most contentious presidential election in recent memory comes to a head, and it remains to be seen what voter turnout will be. The number of voters who are solidly behind one of the candidates may be rivaled by the undecided or utterly frustrated voters who still aren’t sure what to think. I hope that people will exercise their cherished right as an American citizen to get out and vote, as there are many other races and issues on the ballot that deserve your consideration as well.

One of those is the referendum question for Freeport voters regarding a proposed move to a city manager/part-time mayor/council form of municipal government. A town hall meeting on October 25 at the Freeport library brought in six outstanding municipal leaders from various backgrounds who spoke about their experiences with managerial government. On the panel were Liandro Arellano Jr., Mayor of Dixon; John Phillips, Senior Advisor for the Illinois City/County Management Association and former 25-year city manager for Rock Island; Mike VanMilligan, City Manager for Dubuque, Iowa; Scott Shumard, City Manager for Sterling, Illinois; David Plyman, City Manager of Rochelle, Illinois; and Aaron Deslatte, Ph.D. Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration within the School of Public and Global Affairs at Northern Illinois University. I continue to be optimistic that the referendum will be approved and we can move forward into a new era of efficient and visionary government for Freeport. Be sure to get to the polls on November 8!

“Stephenson Scenes” is back!
After a one-year hiatus, we’re pleased to bring back our “Stephenson Scenes” photo contest for 2017! The rules are still the same – amateur photographers can send us up to ten (10) entries depicting life in Stephenson County, preferably in electronic format as a .jpg or .gif file or we will also accept an 8×10 print. Entries must be received at the Farm Bureau office by 4:30 p.m. on Friday June 9 and will be assessed by a panel of judges to determine the 30 finalists. The finalists will be on display for public voting at the Ag Breakfast on June 24, at our “Farm Fun Zone” tent at the Stephenson County Fair on July 6-9, and in the Farm Bureau office during the interim time between those events. Winners will be announced on July 11 and prizes awarded – check out the details at or call (815) 232-3186 for more information.

Cubs fever
By the time you read this, the World Series could be close to being decided and either the Chicago Cubs or the Cleveland Indians will put an end to a miserably long drought of winning the October classic. As I write this, game one went to the Indians 6-0 on Tuesday night but we know not to be overly concerned about the Cubs’ resiliency. The incredibly far-reaching army of Cubs fans were thrilled to learn that slugger Kyle Schwarber would return from his early April knee surgery and step into the lineup as the designated hitter for the games in Cleveland (the DH role is only utilized in the American League). I’m excited to see this intense battle play out in the days ahead, and you can’t help but be excited for the future as a Cubs fan.
That having been said, we’re already taking names for our two Cubs/Brewers ball games at Miller Park in Milwaukee, even though we can’t order tickets until late January. We’re looking at either April 7 or 8 for our first game and July 28 or 29 for our second outing (Friday or Saturday night games), so give us a call to hold your spot if you want to join us. As I stated earlier, Miller Park is doing major upgrades in their food vending options, and it’s always a great place to see a game.

Polaris discount expiring
We were sorry to learn that Polaris is discontinuing their special member discount for Illinois Farm Bureau members effective January 1, 2017, so I encourage anyone who has been considering a Polaris purchase to move quickly to take advantage of savings up to $1000 on selected Polaris vehicles. We have had several members utilize this discount, so don’t delay if you are looking to make a purchase. Just visit and click on the Polaris link.

Pollinator program
The Stateline Beekeepers Association meeting on November 5 at 6 p.m. at the Farm Bureau will feature a discussion of how to develop a pollinator habitat to help address the dwindling pollinator population. There are specific plans and strategies for planting various plants of varying growth cycles to optimize pollinator activity, and there are even some grant funds available to assist with some efforts. This is a critical issue with which Farm Bureau is getting actively involved, and I hope to be offering similar opportunities in the near future to help people play a role in pollinator restoration and growth. For more info, visit

I’m ready to stop mowing!
As much as I enjoy mowing our yard as part of my sometimes erratic exercise regimen, I think I’m ready to be able to put the mower away for the winter. I can’t remember my yard staying so lush this late in the year, as it seems like we usually get a hot spell in late August and it goes downhill from there. I know I shouldn’t complain as winter will be upon us far too soon, and I’m hearing numerous predictions of prolific snowfall and bitter cold. Regardless, the snow blower goes in the spot where the mower currently sits, so the big switch is going to have to happen soon.

Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau

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