Two Cents Worth – Ring in 2018 with the Weekly Staff’s New Year’s Resolutions

Each year I like to ask everyone at the Weekly to give me a New Year’s Resolution they’d like to share with our readers. It’s not mandatory or anything, as some people just don’t do any resolutions, but I find it to be fascinating.

So we’ll start with the Weekly staff and then we’ll circle back to me. 

 


Kimberly Bennett – Digital Content Manager

I have more phobias than you can shake a stick at, and I’m slowly discovering how limiting they are on my life. While some of my fears are fairly common and not as debilitating (like the fear of spiders and expired food products), some of them prevent me from living my life. Some of them were founded through different experiences, but others have developed because I don’t like being uncomfortable. I don’t like change, and because I don’t like change, I’ve ended up fearing it instead of welcoming it. By the end of 2018, I hope to see growth in myself.  I want to see growth in myself. I want to stop subsisting and start living.

I’m 25 years old; it’s time to get it together.


Rebecca Bugger – Reporter

I resolve to find happiness in stress.

To breathe and enjoy each day no matter the situation, person I’m dealing with, or cost.

 

 

 


Sam Scinta – Sports Reporter

Being a Chicago Cubs fan my entire life, I had to find a balance between eternal optimism and realistic pessimism. It’s a strange, inescapable paradox that invades almost all aspects of life, even outside that of the remote sports observer.

Well, now that all that waiting and curse nonsense is long gone, the mindset has stayed, and I suppose that is what I am trying to change.

No longer do I have a need to temper enthusiasm and excitement with cynicism, yet that seems to be the default for me when reacting to even the best news.

So as the calendar flips to 2018, I resolve to look on the brighter side of everything, no matter how hard that may be.

Happy New Years everybody!


Angela Simmons – Reporter

Every year, I write out resolutions with the hope of carrying them out, and then a few weeks or months into the year, they go by the wayside. This year, I’m going to do things a little different. I’m going to have a word to live by, and this year is “More.” I want to do more of what makes me happy, attend more book club meetings, put in more hard work to get the things that I want, remember more often to actually switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer, etc.

No matter what your resolution or your goal for the new year, I hope you all have a Happy New Year, and I look forward to seeing you at events around town.


Colten Steele – Sports Reporter

I really wanted to try and come up with something that everyone doesn’t hear every single year. Last year, my resolution was to fold my clothes whenever they were done in the dryer, but did I accomplish that? No.

So, this year I will be saying what we all hear from everyone every year: I’m making a serious commitment back to the gym, and my diet will be very boring, but filled with protein and veggies! Working out is something that I always heavily involved in, but then I found fast food during college. We all know how that goes. The plan is to begin the diet and the workout regimen on the first of January!

The real question is: Will it last one week or one month? We’ll see!


Well! Everyone got pretty serious and introspective this year versus last year. Why so serious guys?

Resolutions fascinate me because, theoretically, if you’re self-aware enough to know you have something about you that you wish to change, what does it matter if you start on January 1 or August 24? I guess its the idea that the new year represents a clean slate and that we can start fresh.

So keeping with the theme of the column, I’ll let you all in on what I want to work on in 2018.

First, and its going to be totally cliche, but I plan on taking off some weight. Unfortunately, both sides of my family have the easy potential to put on weight, and I’ve allowed my love of carbs and sugars to dominate for too long. So starting this week actually, I won’t be any fun to go grab lunch with. Fair warning.

Next, I want to try and regain some structure to my life. It feels like I have, for the most part, all the pieces I need to make everything work, but they’re not all working as I need them to. I plan on taking the first month or two of 2018 and figuring out what needs to be restructured in order to get things running smoothly so I can start to work smarter and not harder. That was a bit cryptic but you don’t want to know the nuts and bolts of what it takes to bring you a paper each week anymore than I want to begin to get into them.

Third, I don’t read as much as I would like, which seems ironic coming from a guy preaching the importance of reading. I go to the bookstore all the time and find things that sound fascinating, but they just become decorations on my shelves. So I’d like to carve out some time to read more. Realistically if I could get through 26 books in 2018, one every two weeks, I’d be happy. We’ll see.

Finally, when I originally went into the journalism program at SIUC it was with the lofty goal of one day being a movie critic. I thought guys like Siskel and Ebert had the best job going. They got paid to watch a movie and talk about it! I quickly learned that it was difficult to make a living critiquing film and so I left that idea in the past. But now I own my own paper and can do what I want! So who wants to go catch a flick next year?

Two Cents Worth – October 11, 2017

Two Cents Column

I belong to an organization called the Southern Illinois Editorial Association. Its a group made up of different newspapers in the southern half or third of the state.

The Board of Directors, of which I am a part, met recently. Mind you, I’m only on the board because I’m fresh meat. That’s what happens in most (arguably) struggling organizations when a new guy joins. They immediately give that person some authority to get them invested in the future of the club. What typically happens though is they burn them out and the new blood hits the bricks, but I digress.

At our meeting we discussed a handful of things, but one topic fascinated me. How do we inform our communities of the importance of local news and journalism? Obviously, if you are reading this, you have purchased a subscription or have bought a copy off of the newsstand, of which I am deeply thankful for both. So you’re not who I need to talk to.

No, I need to talk to the many thousands of people who live in O’Fallon and Shiloh and don’t read my paper and see why they aren’t. I need to find out what we aren’t offering that is making them uninterested in what we are offering.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

 

Two Cents Worth – Let’s talk off the record

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is both a public service announcement and a one-time warning. From here on out, no one can say they weren’t given a clear picture of our policy regarding “the record.”

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It is generally human nature to want to talk and interact with other human beings. Additionally, its human nature that when we know something potentially interesting or salacious, we want to tell everyone we know so we appear to be in the loop. So needless to say, my reporters and I tend to have a lot of people wanting to talk to us about a variety of different things.

But then they say THAT phrase. “This is off the record.” <shudder>

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Two Cents Worth – A few quick questions

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We have been experimenting with new things at the Weekly and we have a question for our readers.

Do you listen to podcasts and, if so, what podcasts do you listen to?

What platforms do you listen to podcasts on? Apple iTunes? SoundCloud?

Please just drop me a line at Nick@OFallonWeekly.com and let me now!

Two Cents Worth – Bring Amazon to St. Clair County

Two Cents Column

Amazon is looking for a second home. The online shopping giant has put out word that areas should submit proposals as to why they would be a good location for their second headquarters.

St. Louis plans to submit a proposal. So does Chicago, along with quite a few other midwestern cities. And as I am writing this, I have learned O’Fallon plans to be among them.

Honestly, the point of this column originally was why Amazon should consider locating in St. Clair County. It should be a familiar tune to those of you who paid attention during our efforts to become the home for the NGA headquarters.

We have prime real estate off of a major highway that connects to many other major highways. We also just completed building a new exit (Exit 19) that could be utilized by all of those smiling Amazon trucks. Additionally, there is an airport sitting very close to the site I’m talking about that we’d be more than happy to let Amazon have free reign to use.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Two Cents Worth – We can’t do it without you

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Last week we received a note here at Weekly HQ inquiring why we weren’t covering a specific sports team at OTHS. It ended up that we actually had a story about that team in that week’s paper, but I use this as an example because this is a common occurrence.

Sports parents understandably want to see their favorite team featured in the paper. That has been the case since the first school team took to their respective field. We get that and try our best to cover sports at OTHS, and when possible at other area schools. Unfortunately, because I have yet to perfect cloning technology, we just don’t have the manpower or resources to fully cover everything in a manner that makes everyone happy.

Which brings me to the point of the column this week… we need your help, sports parents. Whenever I attend a game – be it soccer, volleyball, cross country, etc – I see parents on the sidelines taking photos with nicer cameras than mine. Next time, consider firing off an email my way with a few of your better shots with a description of the photo, naming the players within it, and let me know your name so I can give proper attribution, and I’ll print it. This way you help us cover all of the sports in O’Fallon, giving us a well rounded newspaper, and you can guarantee that your kid’s team makes the paper.

I’m also open to folks who want to volunteer to write some short articles about their child’s team and their activities during the season. Both of my sports writers are college interns who put in a ton of work for us just so they can get some experience and because they love sports, no matter the level. If you would like to help out, I’m sure they would appreciate it.

So, please, let’s all work together to showcase every team and their accomplishments.

Two Cents Worth – Should city revenue be used for Homecoming?

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Recently there has been talk about the city of O’Fallon possibly bringing back a city-sponsored Homecoming festival. The Mayor held a meeting on August 10 where 25 people, including the City Clerk and an alderman, attended. While the Mayor indicates there was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea and gives anecdotal evidence from his time campaigning for office as a reason to pursue the idea, we have concerns.

Our main concern is the potential use of tax dollars to pay for all or a portion of the festival. In his weekly column, the Mayor wrote, “I have stated that the City will look to have some of the funds from the revenue received from the electronic gambling machines placed into next year’s budget to help with getting the event started.” While he did go on to say that the city would also be looking for local businesses and organizations to assist in the effort, he clearly states he wishes to use city revenue to pay for a festival.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Two Cents Worth – A great example of how school should be

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With two weeks to plan, teachers and administrators at District 90 organized a field trip for nearly 800 students to Freeburg High School to watch the solar eclipse in totality. I tagged along on the trip so that I could cover the event with a local tie.

What I saw was a perfect learning environment. From the moment the students arrived, they began documenting the stages of the eclipse. Then at the moment of totality, the sheer excitement of those students to watch a wonder of the cosmos was almost more impressive than the eclipse itself.

District 90 should be commended for making the effort to take these kids to see the eclipse how it needed to be seen. They found a way to take an event and make it into a learning experience the kids won’t forget.

And maybe, instead of having the government force standardized test after standardized test onto school districts, perhaps districts should be encouraged to do things like Monday’s trip more often.

Just my two cents worth…

Two Cents Worth – Take time to soak in the memories

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At first it was so quick, we barely noticed it. Then it happened more frequently and it became impossible to miss. The distances began to get larger and you could tell the bravery was building.

This past weekend my son, Maxwell, took his first unaided steps. He started by crossing our living room from the coffee table to the tv stand. Then after doing that a while, he decided he’d cross from the tv stand to the couch, which is about twice as far a length than what he had previously attempted.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Two Cents Worth – What a weekend… Or “I hate moving”

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I really hate moving. I truly, truly hate it.

I moved a lot in a brief period of time while in college and just after I got out of college. Only within the last seven years or so have I settled into one spot.

So when it quickly came together for us to move offices this past weekend, I was hit with multiple emotions. I was thrilled to be moving to a larger space so we could spread out and have a bigger office. On the other hand, I hate moving.

I’ll admit that the move threw me off pretty bad this week. I pushed off a lot of things I should’ve done over the weekend. So if I caused you a delay, I apologize.

More on the new space next week.

Two Cents Worth – What happened to common sense?

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Sometimes the inspiration for this column comes to me at the last minute when I need it the most.

As I was surfing around online, I came across a Washington Post article detailing how there is a a large group of viewers who were upset that Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps didn’t really get into a pool and race a real Great White Shark, as they thought was being advertised for a Discovery Channel special for Shark Week.

Yes, there are people in America who believed that a very successful Olympic swimmer was going to get into a pool with a real life, potentially man-eating shark and race it.

What is wrong with us, people? Have we lost the ability to use common sense?

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Two Cents Worth – Rep. Greenwood, your constituents would like a word with you…

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O’Fallon has three different state representatives. One of them is LaToya Greenwood from East St. Louis. She also happens to be my state rep.

Needless to say I was extremely disappointed, but not surprised, when she voted to approve the 32 percent tax increase the General Assembly shoved down our throats. However, what has taken me back is how she has gone out of her way to avoid hearing from her constituents who wish to vent about her vote. Or at least me.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Two Cents Worth – The cavalry has arrived!

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I feel like I’ve been given a new lease on life.

About three weeks ago we brought on a guy to help me with page layout. He had previously worked for a paper in southern Illinois that had been bought by a conglomerate out of Chicago. They ended up laying him off because they consolidated his job to one person up north. Their loss has been my gain though.

For the past few weeks we have been working to get him our content in a  timely and organized fashion. There have been a few bumps in the road, but I think (and I hope he agrees) things have gone pretty well.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Two Cents Worth – The hits just keep on coming – It’s time to say enough is enough on taxes

Evidently the Illinois General Assembly believes that the financial quagmire they find themselves in can only be solved by raising your taxes. On Sunday, the House voted to approve a permanent 32 percent income tax increase, taking the tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. The Senate followed suit, ironically, on July 4.

Additionally, they increased the business rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent.

Under this plan, if you are a family of four, with a combined household income of $100,000, you would now pay an additional $1,095 in income taxes. If you are a small business owner, you also have the business tax increase to contend with.

Some folks might say that’s not that big of an increase when you take into account how bad the state’s situation is and that they can live with it. However, I would counter saying it wouldn’t be that bad, if that was all that was asked of me. But it’s not.

The state not only takes high income taxes and business taxes, both of which apply to me as the owner of a small business, but also charge high fees on a variety of services. When was the last time you went to go to the DMV for something? Do you remember when you didn’t need to take out a personal loan to get a new plate sticker or license renewal? Obviously I’m being snarky, but prices have skyrocketed over the years to take pay for the General Assembly’s financial mismanagement.

But its not just the state robbing from your wallet. It’s even your local governments.

Back in April the St. Clair County Board voted to approve a property tax increase that results in a $40 annual increase on a $100,000 home. Only Dave Tiedemann and I voted against that proposal. The county blamed the state saying it had to take more because the state wasn’t paying what it owed to us.

Cities and school districts have, for the most part, all levied higher property taxes, in many cases due in large part to the state not getting them the money they are supposed to receive.

Additionally, both the county and the school districts in St. Clair County recently asked you all for additional sales tax revenue. The county wanted it for public safety and the schools as a way to shift construction related debt and costs onto a different area of their financial plate. You all voted both of them down by fairly overwhelming majorities in the April election.

Let’s not forget though that the county had previously asked you in 2014 to consider a sales tax increase to help pay for improvements to the jail. That tax also went down in flames by a margin of three to one.

You have spoken loud and clear that you are overtaxed and overburdened, yet the lawmakers continue to take more and more. You are asked time and again to open your wallets and do a little more because the situation is dire. There’s a murderers row of politicians telling you how the tax increase proposal was the lesser of two evils, the other being the state reduced to junk bond status.

And they may be right. But where is the sacrifice on their end? We are constantly being asked to give and sacrifice. We haven’t done anything wrong to deserve this. Our only crime has been electing these people time and again, and for that, shame on us.

As of press time for the Weekly, Governor Bruce Rauner had vetoed the budget package, which included the tax increase. The Senate did vote to override his veto but the House had not yet, There were some wondering if there were enough votes to do so in the House. But even if the tax increase goes nowhere, we need to remember. We need to remember who voted to kick us when we were already down for the count and voted to raise our taxes again.

I have a few men that I consider friends that voted yes for that tax increase on Sunday. I’d be happy to go have a beer with them and talk life. But I’m also not afraid to tell them both they deserve primary opposition for selling us out and that I’m very disappointed in them.

Two Cents Worth – Place the blame at the right feet

Two Cents Column

Hard times are facing the state these days. The General Assembly was called back for a special session last week to consider a budget plan, which includes increased taxes. There are big implications if the lawmakers can’t come to some sort of an agreement. A government shut down would impact road construction, nursing homes, services for the poor and helpless, and, obviously, local schools.

At their board meeting last week, the District 90 Board of Education was essentially forced to transfer funds from its Working Cash fund into the Transportation fund to make up a significant shortfall. That shortfall only exists because the money was supposed to come from the State of Illinois. Superintendent Carrie Hruby told me that its hard for them to make any real cuts to the transportation expenses because they can’t reasonably cut routes and the kids have to get to school. The one area where the district has little control over their expenses happens to be the area where the state impacts them the worst, right now at least.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.