- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 21, 2015

Belleville News-Democrat

Wanted: Scout with keen pencil

Illinois Auditor General William Holland is retiring Dec. 31, and we - the residents of Illinois - all likely owe him a card and maybe flowers.

His job, simply stated, is to keep those in state government honest by employing integrity, a hard nose and a team of accountants.

He is the guy who took aim at the state’s workers’ compensation system after the News-Democrat’s investigation of 230 Menard Correctional Center employees, mostly guards, who got $10 million by claiming ailments including wrist ouchies from turning cell door locks.

He is the guy who audited former Gov. Pat Quinn’s use of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative and showed the money was going to questionable sources and sprinkling dollars where votes were needed. The revelations of that audit were a big part of why we now have a new governor.

This is the guy who uncovered more than $546,650 in tax dollar abuses by convicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who used the state’s purchasing system to wine, dine and pay for parking at Bulls games.

The Blagojevich audit in 2005 led to the biggest confrontation and pushback of Holland’s 23 years leading the auditor’s office. Blags called the findings illogical, but they all proved to be true.

If you judge a man by the enemies he makes, “Hot Rod” Blagojevich alone renders Holland as worthy.

So the low-key defender of your tax dollar recently called his second press conference since he took office in 1992 - the first was to defend the Blagojevich findings. At age 63, he wants to spend more time with family.

We wish him well. We offer our sincere thanks to a true servant of the public good. We hope the new person is as upright as Holland.


June 17, 2015

Sauk Valley Media

Tube goes against the grain

Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes.

And sometimes, one invention necessitates the invention of another.

Large grain bins were invented to handle the ever-increasing volume of grain that Midwestern farmers produce for use domestically and in foreign markets.

The construction of such large bins in the Sauk Valley and across the grain belt has been common.

But along with them, the danger of farmers and workers becoming entrapped in the grain has also become more common.

A spate of grain entrapment deaths, including two in Mount Carroll in 2010, prompted a grain elevator owner in Lanark to take action.

Roger Coulthard came up with an idea to invent a four-panel rescue tube that can be transported to the scene and assembled around the victim in the grain bin.

From there, with the metal sides absorbing the force of the grain outside the tube, rescuers can begin removing the grain from around the victim, within the tube, to the point that the person can be pulled to safety.

The ingenious aspect of the invention, dubbed the Great Wall of Rescue, is the way it is assembled at the rescue scene.

The sides are attached via custom-made ball-and-socket hinges, which hold the panels together to create the barrier between the victim and the rest of the grain within the bin.

The victim is relieved of some of the pressure created by the surrounding grain, which can reach 75 pounds per cubic foot — enough to leave bruises on flesh.

The victim also is less likely to sink farther into the grain.

After the Great Wall of Rescue is assembled around the victim, a rescue can be effected in as little as 15 minutes, according to a Sauk Valley Media story from last week.

The rescue tubes are manufactured by Eastland Fabrication, a subsidiary of Eastland Feed & Grain.

Demonstrations have been given to area first responders, such as fire departments, so they have a better understanding of how the rescue tube would be assembled and used.

Grain bin safety has taken an upward turn through education, training, and greater public awareness of the hazards that large storage bins pose to those who enter them.

We encourage fire departments and others to investigate whether the Great Wall of Rescue is right for them. By going against the grain, the tube could be a real lifesaver.


June 17, 2015

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register

Andre Iguodala’s success extends beyond the court

Springfield had countless reasons to be proud of 2002 Lanphier High School graduate and professional basketball player Andre Iguodala long before this week’s NBA Finals.

Word late Tuesday that the Golden State Warrior was named Finals MVP was simply icing on an already outstanding cake. Overall in the Finals, he averaged 16.3 points, four assists and 5.8 rebounds per game.

Prior to this season, he had started in 758 consecutive games; however, Warriors first-year coach Steve Kerr kept him in reserve until Game 4 of the Finals. The team had won Game 1 but lost games 2 and 3. Once Iguodala was in the starting lineup, though, the Warriors won the final three games.

For his efforts, Iguodala was named Finals MVP, beating out Cavaliers MVP contender LeBron James, whom Iguodala guarded throughout much of the series.

As far as State Journal-Register sportswriters can determine, Iguodala is the first person from Springfield to win an NBA championship and the only one to be named a Finals MVP. He also was a 2012 Olympic gold medalist in men’s basketball.

It’s easy for Springfield to root for Iguodala and to be proud of his accomplishments because, in spite of everything that comes with his level of professional success, he has never forgotten his hometown.

Of course, his mother, Linda Shanklin, still lives here. But Iguodala’s devotion to Springfield goes deeper.

He and his family started the Andre Iguodala Youth Foundation to promote athletics as a conduit to educational excellence. The organization sponsors numerous events each year that make a difference for Springfield youth and families.

For example, the foundation hosted youth basketball camps and also has distributed Thanksgiving food baskets to hundreds of people in need in Springfield, with Iguodala donating thousands of dollars of his own money to purchase the food for the baskets.

In 2006, after a tornado heavily damaged parts of Springfield, Iguodala and his parents set up a disaster relief fund. The NBA star donated $500 for every point he scored, assist he made and rebound he grabbed during a 76ers game against the New York Knicks. Within a month of the tornado, and with the help of local businesses that got on board, the fund had raised more than $35,000 for local relief efforts. Iguodala himself kicked in $19,000 based on his performance in the Knicks game, and the 76ers team joined in some additional fund raising, too.

He’s hosted celebrity hoops and softball events in Springfield. He’s happy to pose for pictures and sign autographs when he’s here. The foundation has raised money for classroom computers and for scoreboards at local high schools. It’s donated money to District 186 athletic funds. Iguodala has said he hopes one day to establish a youth sports academy in Springfield.

It would have been easy for a professional athlete of this caliber to walk away from the city of his youth and never look back. Instead, Iguodala embraced the chance to continue being a benefactor and a role model for young people here. Countless children have benefited from his generosity and his leadership, both on the court and off of it.

Congratulations to Iguodala on his latest success. Springfield is both proud and grateful.

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