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The coronavirus, which continues to spread around the world, is or soon will be the biggest problem that many people have ever had to deal with. Area residents have had to overcome job losses, being separated from friends and neighbors, and schools and churches being closed.

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Remember when it was socially acceptable to shake hands with others? I am looking forward to that day again. There is so much revealed in that brief physical encounter. Traditionally it has been one of the first impressions that we make on others and they on us. Texture, strength, confidence…

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As I walked a country road near my rural town this past week, a local slowed his pickup alongside me. “We’re moving to Florida, Jim.” He paused, then: “Illinois is not well managed, you know.” Three weeks ago, a hugely successful commodities trader friend, who lives in splendor on a big swat…

  • 0

I can’t recall the last time I wrote or received a handwritten letter — but it’s time to send such letters again.

  • 0

“The only constant in life is change,” said Greek philosopher Heraclitus. And those words are so true, especially in the 21st century, and most notably in the year 2020.

  • 0

I’m getting a whole-house attic fan installed this week — just like the one my father had installed in my childhood home — and I cannot wait to cool my house using his old-time methods.

  • 0

Over the last few years we have heard many people talking about what needs to be done with statues that may give glory to the Confederacy. In the last few weeks the issue has become a hotbed of argument, with no real decisions on how the statues and monuments should be handled.

  • 0

Living in a rural central Illinois town (Toulon, pop. 1,400), I am alert to any forces that might spur relocation to hinterland communities, which are often struggling to maintain population and vitality. Are the pandemic and recent urban, sometimes violent protests such prompts? I conclude …

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As the current school year ends in districts across our state, school staff, from teachers and principals to bus drivers and school nurses, have shown to be true heroes for our students and families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 0

In a recent column, I averred that the George Floyd death and protests-in-reaction represented a classic case of the powerful “us versus them” syndrome that is baked into the human brain.

  • 0

On Facebook someone recently stated that Metropolis needs to be known for something other than Superman. Maybe it is time to breakout Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz. Well, not really. Here is a column I wrote about the Birdman when a new book was released.

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This essay is not about who should be elected president in November, but about something arguably as important: How to avoid a sloppy election count, which could throw the nation into chaos.

  • Updated
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Last month, the General Assembly returned to session for the first time since early March for an abbreviated special session designed to take up a few items related to the budget and the state government’s response to COVID-19. While the end of May is typically a busy time for the legislatur…

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During the first 65 years of my life, skunks never gave me much trouble. It seems like I have smelled a million of them from where they got squashed on the road, but a horrible smell usually only lasted a short time, and was then forgotten.

  • 0

Since I live in a small out-of-the way county that has had one reported case of COVID-19, a second recently rumored, I have been hesitant to write about the big disruption in our lives. I am obviously not sharing the valiant struggles of nurses and their associates, at the side of infected p…

  • 0

The only major, contested issue on the ballot this fall in our Blue State will be whether to enact Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow graduated income tax rates. I think the Pritzker approach — not the concept — is wrong-headed. I try to explain here.

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Most of the rural counties in central and southern Illinois have been extremely lucky in that there have been few cases of the coronavirus. Massac County has had six reported cases, Johnson County has had seven, and Pope County has had only one. That is not to say that there have not been, n…

  • 0

In the midst of a global health crisis, the agri-food sector is pressing forward determined to do what it does best—feed the world. After all, empty grocery store shelves don’t simply restock themselves.

  • 0

Since I was a boy growing up in rural Illinois post-World War II, American agriculture has achieved momentous productivity increases, from about 45 bushels an acre of corn back then to an average of 180 today, with farmers in my area sometimes getting 300 bushels per.

  • 0

Looking at the horrible situation the United States is in today, southernmost Illinois is probably in much better shape than the rest of the country.

  • 0

After careful consideration and prayer, my wife and I decided against homeschooling our three daughters when they reached school age, mainly because we recognize our pedagogical limitations — and we value our mental health.

  • Updated
  • 0

Many years ago Paul Harvey was a very popular newscaster on nationwide radio. And his son wrote stories under the heading of “The Rest of the Story.” Those stories gave background and follow-up information so people could better understand what was happening, or had occurred.

  • 0

In 1995 the Planet was completing a four-year series on Massac Countians in World War II. This personal column was written near the 50th anniversary of American forces taking the island of Iwo Jima. It was needed for an airport for planes bombing Japan.

  • Updated
  • 0

A million years ago, we were worried about who was going to win the Iowa Caucuses, and then Super Tuesday, and then when Bernie Sanders was finally going to pack it in.

  • 0

It seems like everyone I talk with is having a hard time grasping everything that has happened over the span of three weeks time. Back in December, all the talk was about the coronavirus over in China and now, here we are with restaurants and bars closed, sporting events, concerts and movie …

  • 0

So far, deep southernmost Illinois has avoided the coronavirus or COVID-19. Being the eternal optimist, I am hoping we can stay that way. But I am probably wrong.

  • Updated
  • 0

The evening of March 2 I wrote the hardest letter I’ve ever had to write — my resignation from my job here at the Planet. And as I write this column, I’m finding it to be the second hardest thing I’ve had to write.

  • 0

At a recent dinner party, it was wondered why our society appears to be pulling apart. I observed that sometimes unfortunate consequences flow from otherwise benign changes. I illustrated with a “tale of two families,” both known to me in my rural central Illinois setting.

  • 0

“Where are you from? Russia?” the middle-aged woman asked matter-of-factly, as she walked toward her polling place in Seaside, California, on Super Tuesday. She had been approached by a man wearing a Cossack Ushanka hat with a hammer and sickle pin, offering to buy her vote.

  • Updated
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Massac Unit One school board members have been talking about the future of the school district for quite some time now. Word came last year the state’s Capital Development Board (CDB) may launch new school construction grants, and Unit One began taking the needed steps in order to apply for …

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.

  • 0

As I walked a country road near my rural town this past week, a local slowed his pickup alongside me. “We’re moving to Florida, Jim.” He paused, then: “Illinois is not well managed, you know.” Three weeks ago, a hugely successful commodities trader friend, who lives in splendor on a big swat…

  • 0

I can’t recall the last time I wrote or received a handwritten letter — but it’s time to send such letters again.

  • 0

“The only constant in life is change,” said Greek philosopher Heraclitus. And those words are so true, especially in the 21st century, and most notably in the year 2020.

  • 0

I’m getting a whole-house attic fan installed this week — just like the one my father had installed in my childhood home — and I cannot wait to cool my house using his old-time methods.

  • 0

Over the last few years we have heard many people talking about what needs to be done with statues that may give glory to the Confederacy. In the last few weeks the issue has become a hotbed of argument, with no real decisions on how the statues and monuments should be handled.

  • 0

Living in a rural central Illinois town (Toulon, pop. 1,400), I am alert to any forces that might spur relocation to hinterland communities, which are often struggling to maintain population and vitality. Are the pandemic and recent urban, sometimes violent protests such prompts? I conclude …

  • 0

As the current school year ends in districts across our state, school staff, from teachers and principals to bus drivers and school nurses, have shown to be true heroes for our students and families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 0

In a recent column, I averred that the George Floyd death and protests-in-reaction represented a classic case of the powerful “us versus them” syndrome that is baked into the human brain.

  • 0

On Facebook someone recently stated that Metropolis needs to be known for something other than Superman. Maybe it is time to breakout Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz. Well, not really. Here is a column I wrote about the Birdman when a new book was released.

  • 0

This essay is not about who should be elected president in November, but about something arguably as important: How to avoid a sloppy election count, which could throw the nation into chaos.

  • Updated
  • 0

Last month, the General Assembly returned to session for the first time since early March for an abbreviated special session designed to take up a few items related to the budget and the state government’s response to COVID-19. While the end of May is typically a busy time for the legislatur…

  • 0

During the first 65 years of my life, skunks never gave me much trouble. It seems like I have smelled a million of them from where they got squashed on the road, but a horrible smell usually only lasted a short time, and was then forgotten.

  • 0

Since I live in a small out-of-the way county that has had one reported case of COVID-19, a second recently rumored, I have been hesitant to write about the big disruption in our lives. I am obviously not sharing the valiant struggles of nurses and their associates, at the side of infected p…

  • 0

The only major, contested issue on the ballot this fall in our Blue State will be whether to enact Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow graduated income tax rates. I think the Pritzker approach — not the concept — is wrong-headed. I try to explain here.

  • 0

Most of the rural counties in central and southern Illinois have been extremely lucky in that there have been few cases of the coronavirus. Massac County has had six reported cases, Johnson County has had seven, and Pope County has had only one. That is not to say that there have not been, n…

  • 0

In the midst of a global health crisis, the agri-food sector is pressing forward determined to do what it does best—feed the world. After all, empty grocery store shelves don’t simply restock themselves.

  • 0

Since I was a boy growing up in rural Illinois post-World War II, American agriculture has achieved momentous productivity increases, from about 45 bushels an acre of corn back then to an average of 180 today, with farmers in my area sometimes getting 300 bushels per.

  • 0

Looking at the horrible situation the United States is in today, southernmost Illinois is probably in much better shape than the rest of the country.

  • 0

After careful consideration and prayer, my wife and I decided against homeschooling our three daughters when they reached school age, mainly because we recognize our pedagogical limitations — and we value our mental health.

  • Updated
  • 0

Many years ago Paul Harvey was a very popular newscaster on nationwide radio. And his son wrote stories under the heading of “The Rest of the Story.” Those stories gave background and follow-up information so people could better understand what was happening, or had occurred.

  • 0

In 1995 the Planet was completing a four-year series on Massac Countians in World War II. This personal column was written near the 50th anniversary of American forces taking the island of Iwo Jima. It was needed for an airport for planes bombing Japan.

  • Updated
  • 0

A million years ago, we were worried about who was going to win the Iowa Caucuses, and then Super Tuesday, and then when Bernie Sanders was finally going to pack it in.

  • 0

It seems like everyone I talk with is having a hard time grasping everything that has happened over the span of three weeks time. Back in December, all the talk was about the coronavirus over in China and now, here we are with restaurants and bars closed, sporting events, concerts and movie …

  • 0

So far, deep southernmost Illinois has avoided the coronavirus or COVID-19. Being the eternal optimist, I am hoping we can stay that way. But I am probably wrong.

  • Updated
  • 0

The evening of March 2 I wrote the hardest letter I’ve ever had to write — my resignation from my job here at the Planet. And as I write this column, I’m finding it to be the second hardest thing I’ve had to write.

  • 0

At a recent dinner party, it was wondered why our society appears to be pulling apart. I observed that sometimes unfortunate consequences flow from otherwise benign changes. I illustrated with a “tale of two families,” both known to me in my rural central Illinois setting.

  • 0

“Where are you from? Russia?” the middle-aged woman asked matter-of-factly, as she walked toward her polling place in Seaside, California, on Super Tuesday. She had been approached by a man wearing a Cossack Ushanka hat with a hammer and sickle pin, offering to buy her vote.

  • Updated
  • 0

Massac Unit One school board members have been talking about the future of the school district for quite some time now. Word came last year the state’s Capital Development Board (CDB) may launch new school construction grants, and Unit One began taking the needed steps in order to apply for …

  • Updated
  • 0

Last month, Gov. JB Pritzker delivered his annual budget address where he outlined his priorities for state spending in the fiscal year 2021, which begins in July.

  • Updated
  • 0

The rise of billionaires running for office is dampening the democratic impulse, that is, they threaten to take “by the people” out of government. The threat from those who swirl big money around in campaigns drives others to the sidelines of democracy, unwilling to waste their time in a con…

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Jim Nowlan and I go back a long way, and I can't think of anyone I know who I respect more. That being said, I have a much less dystopian view of the future of newspapers, and particularly community journalism, than the one Jim shared in his piece "Stop the hand-wringing over decline of news…

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The day my Mother and Father met, he was arguing with some high school friends about whether a slice of lemon would corrode the coating on a porcelain sink.

  • Updated
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Illinois will never have fair maps for its legislative districts under the present Illinois Supreme Court. There is an opportunity in November to change the court, yet I fear the contest will not be engaging, even though it's long past time for a change.

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According to a late 2019 piece in the New York Times, one in five newspapers in America has been shuttered over the past 15 years, and journalist numbers cut in half. This bodes ill for the vibrancy of communities, for which newspapers have been the essential glue, prod and town crier.