NASS Weekly Crop Report: Major Crop Planting Just Over Half Complete

Rain cut short some fieldwork last week, as corn and soybeans are a little over halfway planted.

There were 4.4 days suitable for field work during the week ending May 2nd. Statewide, the average temperature was 62.8 degrees, 6.1 degrees above normal. Precipitation averaged 1.03 inches, 0.09 inches above normal. Topsoil and subsoil moisture supply is about average for this time of year, landing on the wetter side of average.

In the local West Southwest District, temperature averaged 64.8 degrees, 6.6 degrees above normal. Precipitation locally averaged 95-hundredths of an inch, right on par for this time of year.

Crop statistician of the National Ag Statistics Service Steve Parn says that farmers are a little over halfway done with planting major crops: “Corn planted reached 54%, compared to 53% last year, and the five year average of 49%. Corn emerged reached 14%, compared to 8% last year, and the five year average of 13%. Soybeans planted reached 41%, compared to 29% last year, and the five year average of 14%. Soybeans emerged reached 7%, compared to 2% last year, and the five year average of 1%. Winter wheat headed reached 21%, compared to 18% last year, and the five year average of 28%. Winter wheat conditions were rated 3% very poor, 3% poor, 26% fair, 56% good, and 12% excellent. Pasture conditions were rated 1% very poor, 3% poor, 17% fair, 58% good, and 21% excellent.”

More precipitation is expected tomorrow through the weekend likely slowing down the progress of planting this week.

Major Events Returning to State

Major events are in the making for the state. Governor J.B. Pritzker joined Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot yesterday announcing the return of the annual Chicago Auto Show.

Pritzker says that the auto show will have a new look when it returns to McCormick Place from July 15 to 19th: “In this year the show will operate with a hybrid indoor and outdoor model for the first time in City history. Assuring that health and safety here at McCormick Place are our highest priority, with strong public health protocols in place, the Chicago Auto Show will be the first large convention to take place in Illinois since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Setting the stage for the safe return of big events in the months to come.”

Pritzker also said Monday that he is looking forward to the return of the state fairs: “I am very much looking forward to the Illinois State Fair. We’ve obviously been doing all the planning that’s necessary for it. Barring some highly unusual event occurring that would prevent a large gathering, this is a very large outdoor space. If you’ve not been to the State Fair, this is a very large fair ground. I think the IDPH is working with the Department of Agriculture to make sure people will be safe. I think were going to have a lot of fun this summer. It’s in August, I hope everyone will come down to Springfield to enjoy it. Then, we have a second State Fair down in DuQuoin, Illinois that also is a lot of fun – again an enormous amount of space out there. I think we’ll have a big crowd and everyone will enjoy it.”

Based on the trajectory of public health metrics, officials believe that similar conventions and fairs throughout the state will be held safely this year in line with the Illinois Department of Public Health’s guidance. The Governor’s Office says that should the metric trajectory changes, the guidelines will be modified. Pritzker said yesterday that he anticipates that state may fully reopen by July 4th.

Illinois College Students Awarded for Leadership and Service

Last Thursday six Illinois College seniors were awarded the Julian M. Sturtevant Campus Leadership and Service Award.

The announcement says earlier in the Spring each recipient was nominated for the award from all IC faculty and staff. A smaller committee met in early March to make final decisions.

The award is presented annually to outstanding Illinois College graduating seniors. The Sturtevant Awards are given to visible leaders whose leadership has made a difference on the campus and in the organizations they serve.

The 2021 recipients are Jordan Hall, Sydney Himmelman, Olivia Jordan, Alyssa Olagbegi, Sergio Pena, Allen Smith, and Asia Watson.

At the ceremony there was a faculty or staff member who gave a short speech highlighting each recipient’s accomplishments.

Some of these achievements consisted of excelling inside and outside of the classroom and various athletics such as football, basketball, and dance; as well as student-led organizations such as the Black Student Union, The Center of Student Involvement, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Brothers and Sisters In Christ. Other efforts recognized were student activism, student-faculty research and more.

SIU Medicine is Now Enrolling Alzheimer’s Patients For a New Clinical Trial

The Dale and Deborah Smith Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at SIU Medicine is enrolling patients and looking for eligible people to be studied. This research will help determine if an investigation drug is effective at treating this deteriorating condition. This will also assess safety and efficacy of donanemab, which is an antibody.

SIU Officials say Alzheimer’s disease causes significant memory loss and decline in thought processes. It involves problems with memory, thinking, language, and judgment. Recurring memory loss or difficulty finding the right words to express yourself could be signs of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

MD, professor of neurology, and principal investigator for the clinical trial Tom Ala says, “This study addresses a great research need. Participants could make an important difference in the world of our Alzheimer’s patients.” Ala says “currently, no FDA-approved medications exist to slow down Alzheimer’s disease,” But in an initial trial of a new drug, participants had shown significant slowing in measures of cognition and daily functions.

The release says participants in the clinical trial will receive a monthly infusion over a period of 17 months. Half of those enrolled will receive the study drug; the other half receives a placebo. At the conclusion of the study, those who received the placebo may be eligible to receive donanemab. The study will also require a blood test to determine the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.

To be eligible to participate, patients must be 60 to 85 years old and have memory loss that has worsened over time. They must also have a partner or caregiver who spends at least 10 hours per week with the patient and is willing to attend the appointments. All qualified participants will receive study-related medical exams and the study drug at no cost. There may also be a time and travel compensation.

For more information about the study and enrollment, contact Chaille Karl at 217-545-2261 or

Illinois College Team brings back a National Championship Title

The IC Dance Team competed at the Dance Team Union College Classic National Invitational held at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Florida April 10th and 11th.

The team competed in the Open division of Hip-Hop with their money themed routine.

They were against six teams in the NCAA Division I, II, III,and NAIA placing 4th overall in the nation. This is the second time in Illinois College History that the team has been to a national competition, the first was in 2019 when the team competed at NDA College Nationals.

The team is Coached by Spirit Program Director, Samantha Laster. Who says she is very proud of the team despite the challenges they have run into this season. She says getting to Nationals was the driving force during an unusual season.

“I feel very successful. Our work has paid off that we’ve done this entire semester. Everyone has worked extremely hard. I felt like we did what we were supposed to do. We came out on top, we are the top four in the nation, so that is huge considering this is our second year competing. Overall that is huge and our competition that we went against was very tough. The fact that we even placed that high says a lot about our routine, the work ethic, and all of the handwork that we put into it.”

Many times throughout the season the team was unsure if they would have this chance to dance at games or compete in person. The dance team’s season started during the summer and was a mix of in-person and zoom practices.

“Practices were intense going towards nationals. We practiced for like two weeks, five days each week. We had to workout a bunch of kinks. There was a broken arm at the last minuet, we had to change basically the entire routine two weeks before nationals. They overcame that, you know little tweaks along the way. It was pretty intense. Especially we had some quarantine days where we missed out on practices where we had to be on zoom, zoom practices are not fun. We had a couple of setbacks but we pushed through it.”

Laster says she appreciates the support from the IC community that the team received while at nationals. IC Athletic Director, Mike Synder showed his support and got people excited by coordinating watch parties and updating the campus as he received reports on how the competition was going.

“ As we got closer to nationals, I felt like we had a lot of support from the school. Them organizing our watch party and people being supportive. I’ve gotten nothing but congratulations, when I see people on campus and it is surprising student athletes know who I am and have said congratulations. I had the president send me a personal email about it. My boss has been really supportive, texting and calling me while we were down there just to check in and making sure we had everything. We really fought to go to nationals because a lot of schools didn’t even go. Process and decision making, at the end of the day everyone wanted us to go. I pushed for it mainly, but we were there. I feel like we got a lot of support as it got closer to nationals, especially the week of. Coming back I’m still getting texts and congratulations and things like that.”

Other than being proud of the team Laster says she is ready for the next season and has big plans for the team and program. Two of those goals are enhancing skills, technique, and placing top three at nationals.

The States Top Secretary is Emphasizing Organ and Tissue Donation this Month

April is National Donate Life Month, this is to encourage eligible Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors and to honor those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.

White started a new ad campaign that will run in English and Spanish featuring White Sox relief pitcher Ed “Farmio” Farmer, who died last year. By partnering with Ed on organ and tissue donation campaigns he saw the commitment he had to this lifesaving program.

According to the announcement, during the month of April, White will participate in initiatives that celebrate reaching milestones of having more than 7 million registrants in Illinois. White says “We encourage all Illinoisans to join the organ and tissue donor registry”.

If you would like more information or would like to become a donor Illinoisans can register with the Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Registry at, 800-210-2106 or by visiting your local Driver Services facility

The Illinois College nursing program is receiving a financial shot in the arm due to grant funding.

According to an announcement made by the college today the grant will support 1,000 nursing professionals into future jobs by upgrading training equipment available to registered nurses, certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses. The $237,750 grant is funded by The U.S. Economic Development Administration through the CARES act, which addresses the tremendous need for nurses at all levels, a need that has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Illinois College’s newest addition of a four-year clinical nursing degree program in April 2020 has already shown great potential. The program enrollment has surpassed more than 100 nursing majors and pre-nursing students, and is expected to continue growing as students recognize the value of the program.

This grant will fund a nursing lab on IC’s campus that will allow nurses in the region to get hands-on critical training for years to come. The funds will help purchase innovative equipment and life-like simulators for nurses to gain experience with providing patient care, assisting with births, administering injections and more.

For more information about nursing at Illinois College, including the online RN to BSN program, visit

Students with U.S. Service Academy aspirations in Illinois can now submit applications thanks to an Illinois Senator

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced today that her office is now accepting applications through her website from high school students seeking a Congressional nomination to a United States Military Service Academy.

Lawmakers throughout the state and country each have the chance to nominate outstanding students to attend West Point, the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy or the Merchant Marine Academy. Each United States Senator and United States Representative may have no more than five people attending each service academy at any given time. Most members of Congress allocate at least one open vacancy each year.

Duckworth says “It takes a special kind of young person to succeed at a U.S. Military Service Academy.” She is encouraging all interested Illinois students to apply for a nomination through my website, and I applaud their desire to serve our country.

According to the announcement students who attend these academies are given the chance to serve their country and receive a full four-year scholarship. Upon acceptance of an appointment into an Academy, a student commits to five years of active duty service after graduation. U.S. citizens between the ages of 17 and 23 may receive appointment from one of the four service academies.

In order to be considered, a student must get a formal nomination from their Member of Congress, Senator or the Vice President. Students must apply directly to the Military Service Academy and elected official of their choice in order to be considered. A nomination does not guarantee an offer of appointment.

To be eligible for a nomination from Duckworth’s office must meet the following eligibility requirements as of July 1 of the year of admission to an academy:

  • Must be at least 17 years old, but have not passed their 23rd birthday (25 for the Merchant Marine Academy).
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen and a permanent resident of Illinois.
  • Must be unmarried, not pregnant and have no legal obligation to support children or other dependents.

Students interested are encouraged to apply early to all service academies for which you have a sincere interest. You may apply online at the respective service academy web site. If you meet the minimum eligibility and entrance requirements, the academy will forward a formal application package. You should return all requested materials as directed by the academy as quickly as possible. If you are considered an “official” candidate by the academy, you will be scheduled for a medical examination by the Department of Defense Medical Review Board.

For more information you can go to Senator Duckworth’s official web page.

Make sure to read all the instructions and verify that you have completed and submitted the online form, as well as mailed all required additional materials.

Completed service academy nomination applications must be submitted by October 2nd, 2021.


Virginia Receives Write-In Bid for Mayor

The mayoral race in Virginia is now up to three with a recent write-in announcement.

The race was between an incumbent mayor and a challenger but now includes long-time Public Works Director, Randy McClure.

The Star-Gazette says this last year Virginia businessman Steve Clark and incumbent Mayor Reg Brunk announced they are both seeking candidacy. McClure said he received a lot of encouragement in regards to running for mayor. He says “His 47 years of experience as a public works employee gives him a good perspective on the things that need to be done in Virginia and the priority order in which they should be handled.”

McClure sees the need of updating some of the city’s infrastructure. He says “There is a lot of hard work ahead, and it is my hope and desire that we can work together to bring Virginia back to what is was, a city we can be proud of.” One of the ways to do that McClure said was completing a series of repairs around the city to be addressed.

The Star-Gazette points to McClure working for seven different mayors and keeping true to a philosophy from former Mayor Schaeffer if you treat everybody equally, no one has a right to complain and if you give respect, you get respect in return. McClure is wanting to hold true to that philosophy if voted for mayor. McClure says “I’m hoping the citizens of Virginia will look at my experience as the public works director and will write in my name for mayor.”

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra to Perform a Virtual Concert

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra is hosting a concert Saturday, February 20th, at 3:00 pm. Music director and conductor, Garrett Allman had hoped to host their annual youth concert in person but a virtual one worked out better, due to Covid restrictions.

This is a family concert geared towards the youth of the community, featuring kid-friendly and fun music. Allman speaks of featured soloist, storyteller, and actor, Bobby Norfolk who has made other appearances with the Symphony.

“He sent a video of him doing a wonderful original piece of his called Anansi and the Dancing Granny. It is based on a story from Ghana, West Africa when he visited there in the summer of 1993. The climax of the concert is the last piece. The rest of the concert is members of the orchestra in solos, duets, and trios doing music that is appropriate for a youth concert which I’m sure parents will enjoy too.”

Also highlighted within the program is Jacksonville native and Illinois College drum-line Director, Tyler Carpenter who did one of the arrangements for the concert. Allman says he is pleased with the talented work Carpenter has been able to bring to this performance.

“For this, he plays at least five different instruments. They’re all on five different squares which you’ll see five Tylers on the screen playing. One of him is playing bongos, a marimba on another, steel drums, drum set, and electric guitar.”

Despite the challenges, Allman is excited and pleased with what has come out of this process. He says multiple people have had to work together so this performance could come to life.

“They do their own videos then send them to us electronically. Steve Varble has been working with us and doing some of his magic to get it all together and put it on the air for us. I just saw the preview of it last night and it looks really good.”

For more information, you can go to Since the event is virtual, anyone can broadcast it free of charge. The video will be posted on their page the day of and even on their YouTube channel Jacksonville Symphony Society. The video will be accessible for a week on demand.