Saturday, November 16, 2013


By Adam Ruble

            Large crowds of activists, including a contingent from Warren County,  marched at the state capital in Springfield in October in support of marriage equality.  Included in the Warren County group were 20 Monmouth college students who made the trip to the capitol on a cold and rainy day.   According to organizers, the march  at the capitol on October 22nd will go down in Illinois history as the largest event, in terms of attendees, to ever gather in support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender  (LGBT community in Illinois.  An estimated 5,000 supporters of Senate Bill 10 took part in the March.

            Anne Begley, one of the Monmouth students who went to the event was overjoyed at the sight of all of the supporters. Later she commented, “It is wonderful to see all of this support and passion for this cause. I couldn't imagine not being able to marry a person that I love and I wouldn't want anyone to be deprived of that right.” She also said, “So many people are in support of same-sex marriage but it is amazing to see a group of students who are actually doing something about it.” In talking to Begley after the bill was passed, it was obvious how happy she was that she had been a part of the momentous day. She simply said, “One of the speakers started a chant as we began marching, 'Pass the damn bill!' and that is just what happened.” That speaker was Bishop Carlton Pearson and he was the keynote speaker for the March on Springfield.

            After all of the organizing for the event and with the huge number of people that were in attendance, not to mention the years of work prior to bring equality to the LGBT community, there was still doubt that the bill would pass or that it would even come to a vote during this three week session of legislation. Governor Pat Quinn expressed a feeling of urgency when he spoke at the march stating, “This is our hour. This is our moment.”

            The bill was easily passed in the senate more than five months before but, even though it was called to a vote during legislation in May in the Illinois General Assembly, it was never called to the floor. The vote was called up last minute on Tuesday and won with a vote of 61 to 54. It has long been known that Quinn supported this bill and would sign it when it passed. It is now confirmed that he will be signing the bill later this month at the University of Illinois.  In a statement, Quinn said, "Marriage equality is coming to Illinois. I look forward to signing this landmark legislation on November 20 and celebrating a big step forward with the people of Illinois."


Sunday, November 10, 2013


By Elisha French

           In a close vote, Galesburg’s controversial dog ordinance was altered through amendments last week.  The amendments focused on tethering dogs on private property and lengthened the leash required on public property.  The ordinance which had been in final reading has been tabled until the new amendments have been added to the ordinance. 

            Action on the ordinance was dominated by 3rd Ward Alderman Russell Fleming.  Fleming proposed three amendments to the ordinance.  The first was to remove the requirement that a dog be at all times on a leash or tethered when outside in a private yard.  The second amendment gave the council affirmation power over the animal control officer position.  Finally the third amendment moved the leash length from 6 feet to 8 feet.

            The first amendment would now state that an owner of sound body and mind has to be present with the dog when outside on private property.  2nd Ward Alderman Wayne Dennis brought up issues presented by the ordinance of being able to enjoy the dog even on public sites like Lake Story.  Even former proponent, 1st Ward Alderman Ken Goad spoke that the rules on private property restraint were excessive. 

            7th Ward Alderman Jeremy Karlin spoke for ordinance as written stating that the issues of personal property and public safety have to be weighed and that in his estimation public safety should win.  Karlin chaired the committee responsible for the ordinance.  When asked later if the amendments would hurt the effectiveness, Karlin replied, “To some extent they weaken the ordinance but not fatally so.” 

            While this was going on Galesburg resident Dolly Sprinkle was sitting in the front row with a letter in her hand.  She was visibly upset at the proposed amendments.  When asked why she stated, “It started with a tragedy but so many things have come forward because of this… I saw that (forward progress) happening with these ordinances.  They weren’t perfect but they were better.  To take a step back and say no now.”  The tragedy referred to was the death of seven year old Ryan Maxwell in March due to a dog attack. 

            Sprinkle tried to speak right before the vote but Mayor John Pritchard told her that it was no longer time to have a public discussion.  When asked what she wanted to speak about, she said, “I had a letter from my ten year old son who was friends with Ryan and has been following this closely.  I just wanted to read his letter because that is what I told him I would do.”

            The vote took place and the first new amendment took an initial 4-3 affirmative vote before 4th Ward Alderman Corine Anderson changed her vote to yes.   The rest of the amendments flew through with relative easy.  The ordinance was then tabled until all changes could be put into writing.  When asked about possibility that the ordinance could now die, Fleming responded, “I don’t think that is going to happen.  I think there is too much support for some of the changes.”

Sprinkle is hopefully for other changes.  “Hopefully someone will come back, maybe Jeremy Karlin, and will try and make the in your yard thing more substantial,” stated Sprinkle.  The ordinance will be back on the table at the City Council meeting on November 18th at 6:30pm.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


At least one function of the Affordable Health Care website appears to be running smoothly.   The software designed to verify the identity of applicants passed several tests conducted by journalism students at Monmouth College.  Each student assumed a fictitious name and social security number to determine if the web site would allow the student to proceed with registration using the fictitious name.  The software in the web site succeeded in blocking the entry of students who could not be verified.   The attempts to test the system are described in the following reports..

·         In my first attempt at using a fictitious identity, I was able to create an account and proceed until the social security check kicked me out.  Apparently the Social Security numbers are being checked through Experian.  Experian is a credit checking bureau.  Then, I tried again with my personal information but was unable to create an account due an error in the system.  I was instructed by the site to try again .  Elisha French


·         The first time I tried creating a Marketplace Account, I used an alias name and a nonexistent email address to see how far I could get into the system. After clicking submit, I was told that my account could not be created at this time. I tried again using another false identity, but this time a real email address. I was able to get a little bit further this time and actually create a Marketplace Account. I was then asked to verify my identity. I gave a fictitious social security number, address, and telephone number. After clicking submit again, I was told that my account could not be created because my identity could not be verified. According to the website, I needed to review my information and try submitting my application again. Christiana Durante


·         To see how far I could get through the website, I created a fictitious person who would be applying for the health care insurance.  I also made an email account using that fictitious person’s name.  My attempt at applying for health care seemed positive at first.  The site asked to create an account with the health care site to have my own profile.  I filled out the boxes asking for the state I am from and the year I was born, and since I am posing as a nonexistent human being, I am a 33 year old from Kansas.  A link was sent to the email to verify the email account.  Upon clicking the link, a page came up that said the request was being processed and it may take a few moments.  It took more than a few moments.  Sitting patiently at the computer, I waited roughly 5 minutes before the email account was verified.  My profile page appeared once the system verified the email address.  This is when problems started to occur.  An error symbol popped up and the site told me that my identity was not verified.  I clicked on the link that said ‘please verify identity.’  Once I clicked that link, a page was brought indicating that the page did not exist.  The text read, “Sorry, we can’t find that page on”  There were no other options to go through and it seemed I had hit the end of the applying process with my fictitious person.  Reality struck, and with that my fictitious person was no longer going to be able to apply for heal insurance.  Gavin Bogan


·         I made two attempts to create an account on the healthcare website; both met with failure. For my first attempt I created a fictitious account with fictitious information. I was able to create an account but once I tried to log in the website did not allow me. I click on the option to send my email my username but an email was never sent. On my second attempt when I put my real information I didn’t even get as far as my fictitious account. Once I finished with creating the account I was shown this message “Important: Your account couldn’t be created at the time. The system is un Darnell McKissack



·         On my first attempt I used a fictitious name and false social security number and the website blocked me. On the second attempt I used my real name, birth date, address, and social security number and the page said error, “You must be 18 years of age to continue.” I put my birthdate which I was born in the year of 1992, so it shouldn’t have been an error for me being under age. To take the error away I put the year ending in 1991 and it went to the next page. Then on the very next page it asks me four questions to verify my identity and one of them asked me what year I was born in with 1992 being an option. It was confusing because when I tried to proceed to the next page using 1992 it gave me the error, but on the next page it asked me what year I was born with 1992 being an option. available” and I was given the option to “try again.”   Jose Aranda


·         I attempted to sign up for health care under a fictitious name to access the health care website. The first time I attempted to sign up for an account, there were errors on the page that prevented me from being able to fill out the registration form. I had to re-open the web page a few additional times until the errors finally disappeared. I was then able to make an account, along with a fictitious e-mail for the account fairly simply. After I made an account for the website, I began to fill out the application itself. I entered additional fictitious information including an address, a social security number, and a phone number. Once I filled out these components of the application, I was unable to go any further with the registration. I was told that I could not fully register for health insurance until my identity was verified. There was an option to return back to my application, or to call the Experian help desk to confirm my identity. I chose to return back to my application. I was unable to submit my application because I did not verify my identity. Kalin McKean


·         Although still in its infancy, the Obamacare website has plenty of glitches to work out. I tried to sign up for a fictitious account but didn't get far, as I entered a fictitious social security identification number. The website recognized the fictitious number and wouldn't allow me to sign up for the actual thing. To my dismay, I noticed early on that none of the information I typed in was saved in the beginning, when I was putting down my first and last name, state, and email address whenever I advanced and then clicked the back button to go back and correct something. This means that I had to re-type all the information again each time I went back and then retype the information in on the page I just went back from. So it was a process of constant typing. I contacted the online Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat for help, and told them about my problem, asking if the fact that the website didn't save the form data was "normal" for the site. The response I received was that the website was "experiencing some glitches due to high traffic." This may not be the actual case, as the person I was speaking to then said that "may be" the problem. I was then advised to try again in later during an off-peak hour. Heidi Niemann


·         After creating a fictitious name and email, I was allowed to start applying for health care. Although my identity was not verified, I was still allowed to fill out the application. Even after giving a fictitious social security number, I was never blocked from the website.  After filling out the application and submitting, I was returned to the verify my identity page.  Since I was unable to confirm my fictitious identity, I was no longer able to continue the process. Anthony Occhipinti


·         My first attempt to apply for health insurance online was unsuccessful. I created a fictitious name, but I created a real e-mail address to use. Upon logging in, the system said my username and/or password was incorrect. I thought that this was an error on my part, so I started over from the beginning, using a different alias, and a different real e-mail address. This attempt proved to be successful, and I got a little bit farther in the application process. In order to apply, the site wanted to verify my identity but having me put in my date of birth, social security number, address, zip code, and phone number. My information did not check out in the system, and the website suggested that I recheck my information and try again. I changed my date of birth around, and plugged in a different social security number, however the site would still not verify my information. It gave me numbers that I could call to assess the situation, or an address I could e-mail for help. Miranda Olander


·         For my first attempt I used a fictitious name and email address I was then asked to set up an account. After I tried to submit my username and password I was directed to a page that said “Your account couldn’t be created at this time. I tried this three other times also using a fictitious identity and I always got blocked at the same place as before. The system is unavailable.” For my second attempt I used my real name and email address and was blocked once again from going any further than my attempts before. Kali Nordeen


·         Applying for healthcare online is easier said than done. After several attempts to enter and navigate through The Health Insurance Marketplace (, I came to a dead end. My first attempt I tried creating an account under the name ‘Jessica Thompson’. I got as far as the site being able to send an email to my imaginary email account. That turned out to not be very beneficial because the email address wasn’t authentic. With my second attempt, I tried using the same name but under my actual email address and was blocked. The notice that appeared on the screen was indicating that the site was temporarily unavailable. I tried a third time and was hit with the same notice. After a fourth attempt with my actual name and email address I was able to log into the site. However, after being able to log into the site with my real information I decided not go any further in order to protect my identity and the health plan that I currently have.   Jaleesa Walker


·         In my attempt to create a fictitious account to access the healthcare website, I was blocked out after creating my account. I was told my login information was not valid. The healthcare company had emailed a confirmation of my account to the fictitious email I created. As I tried to access the fictitious Hotmail account I was blocked out, siting that the password had been entered incorrectly too many times. I then tried to login into my account on the healthcare website, which is when my login information was not valid. I then entered a live chat with an assistant named Charlotte. I told her I had just created a new account and asked her why I couldn’t log in. She said there are many people trying to access their website which causes glitches, and too be patient and keep trying. Knowing I wasn’t going to be allowed access anyway, I continued by asking her where else I could go to try and log into my account. She said I could call the toll free marketplace number, call in by phone to set up the insurance, or download the paper application. She then sent me the paper application and the toll free number. I thanked her for her time and signed out.  Cody Whiteside

Friday, October 11, 2013


By Cody Whiteside
With shooting tragedies happening at schools throughout the U.S., security cameras are becoming more essential in schools. This was the theme at this month’s Monmouth-Roseville school board meeting. The District 238 board proposed and approved motions to add security cameras to all six schools in the district. Those schools include the high school, junior high, Central, Harding, Lincoln, and Willits schools. District Superintendent, Ed Fletcher, explained that the schools currently have monitors to allow people to be let inside, but no camera to ensure the person entering the building comes into the office, rather than somewhere else in the building. The cameras will help ensure student safety.
When asked about the cameras being a pressing issue, Fletcher responded by saying, “We are always looking to improve the safety for our students and staff, the tragedies just sped up the process”. He was also asked if there would be any issues regarding student privacy with the new cameras. He ensured there has been no student privacy issues have been brought up “as the cameras will only be installed in main entryways”. He noted that it would be a different story had cameras been installed in classrooms, but that is not in the plan.

Other news throughout the rather quiet board meeting included small repairs to stair treads and safety procedures to secure the shaky basketball hoops at the highs school. It was also approved to replace the MRHS gymnasium roof in the near future.

A couple proposals including the re-wiring of the football field lights and connecting the fire alarm system to the new Ag building were tabled for further discussion. This was solely due to the fact that Superintendent Fletcher wanted to secure more accurate price numbers before suggesting it for discussion.


Saturday, May 25, 2013


The Warren County Newswire will be on hiatus until September when our student reporters and editors return to campus.  Thank you for your interest in our publication.   See you in September.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


By Nick Raes 
       “The Midwest is going through an identity crisis,” suggests Natasha Loder, Midwest correspondent for the British publication The Economist, “the lack of distinct identity and livability within the region is preventing it from attracting business.”

            Loder, who has received several honors including an Outstanding Journalism Award from the Consultative Group on International Consultative Research, told a Monmmouth College Citizenship class this week that one reason behind the Midwest’s struggling economy was the region’s lack of branding and unique identity. She said that compared to other states, the Midwest lacked a “distinct identity” that can attract investors who could build infrastructure and boost the economy.   States such as California, New York, and Hawaii have advertised themselves in a way that emphasizes their positive qualities that attracts business. Loder suggested that the Midwest needed to follow these states’  in order to begin revitalizing its economy.

            Another way that the Midwest could improve its economy and infrastructure, Loder said, was by focusing on attracting outside investors instead of feuding over existing businesses within the region. She said that if the region could attract enough businesses, they would not need to argue over the few businesses that still remain within the region. Instead of spending money on billboards with statements like, “Are you Illinoyed by Taxes? Visit”   Loder argued that Indiana could have better used that money on projects that would have attracted international investors.
            Loder also said that cities within the region needed to fund projects that would make the cities “more livable.” She argued that attracting investors isn’t enough. States and cities also need to be able to retain them in order to progress economically. Loder cited the city of Carmel, Indiana as an example of what she suggests should be done within the region. According to her, Carmel is in the process of funding community improvement projects such as building cycling paths and improving the appearance and maintenance of public parks and recreational areas. Loder suggests that these projects are building its infrastructure and giving the residents and businesses “a reason to stay in the area.” She reasoned that If more states were to make areas more “livable”, then people and businesses would be less likely to leave the region.
Loder lives in Chicago.  She is a native of London, England and will return there when her three year tour in the U.S. is over.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Monmouth Teachers Using ‘Revolutionary’ Teaching Strategy

By Libby Meyer
Two grade school teachers at Harding Elementary School have caught the attention of parents, teachers, and school board members by introducing their students to a “revolutionary” learning program.  

 Second grade teacher Melinda Fry and third grade teacher Laura Anton  have implemented features of the Kagan Cooperative Learning Program in their classes.  Both teachers were introduced to the Kagan program at a three-day conference in Chicago.

According to Kagan’s website, its mission is to “develop and share revolutionary instructional strategies proven to boost engagement and achievement.”

By implementing some of the “Kagan Structures” into their daily routines,  the teachers have seen a positive impact on their students.  At different points throughout the day students are split up into groups of four, intermixing students of various academic abilities.

“In their teams they play a much more active role in the learning process,” Fry said. “I also think the students enjoy taking on a leadership role in helping their peers learn. They all have strengths in different areas and they love to share their strengths with others who may need the assistance.”

Working in small groups allows the students to improve their social skills and engage more actively in their own learning. “They truly work as a team to complete group assignments and assist/coach each other when needed,” she said.

After a presentation to the Monmouth-Roseville school board, complete with a video documenting the Kagan Structures in action, Superintendent Edward Fletcher was equally impressed.

“Instead of the teacher standing in front of the class presenting all of the lessons, these Structures allow the students to interact with each other and learn through active participation,” Fletcher said. He added that he would like to see Kagan expanded to other grade levels and more junior/senior high school classes.

The Packinghouse Returns to Galesburg

By Elisha French
After three decades, the last year has been difficult for the locally iconic Packinghouse restaurant.  In March of 2012, the Packinghouse was closed for renovations and a menu overhaul.  The motivation for the move was to help the Packinghouse continue after the retirement of owners Jay and Mary Matson.  This effort was led by Chef Mick Hug.

That restart only lasted a matter of days as Hug left and Todd Erling stepped in.  The restaurant changed their hours and some of their philosophy of food.  Erling made changes more than just interior or menu but completely rebranded the restaurant in June.  The restaurant went from being the Packinghouse to Todd Erling’s Chop House.  In this process, he removed the salad bar and the notable cinnamon rolls.  This however, didn’t last as the Chop House closed on Jan. 1.  The Matsons expressed this was due to Erling having health issues.  Today Todd Erling is head chef at Big Al’s in Peoria.

Kevin Cerar, owner of the Barnstormer and Petey’s in Monmouth, told the Courier that after he heard about the Chop House closing, he began to inquire about the building.  He thought about what would work there and wasn’t concerned about the previous year’s events.
“Sometimes you have to change things up and do something new,” Cerar said, “but with the Packinghouse’s history in the area, going back to what worked is in the best interest of the area.”  Cerar called the Matsons and worked out an agreement to obtain the rights to the menu, recipes, the use of the name and to lease the building.

Moving forward, Cerar believes he will employ 45 full time and part time employees.  As far as the menu, locals will find many classic favorites have returned.
“The cinnamon rolls, salad bar, and slow roasted prime rib will all be there along with some other personal touches.”

However, Cerar will not be incorporating menu items from his other two restaurants onto the menu.
“If we do something then it will be new and not like the Barnstormer or Petey’s.  [The Packinghouse] will have its own personality.  That is a key for survival of all three restaurants.”
While Cerar will be putting in time at the Packinghouse, he expressed that he still has to be concerned about the Monmouth restaurants as well.  The Packinghouse will have a limited reopening on Easter weekend and will begin operation from there.
Elisha French
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Mike OlszewskI
A new branding campaign for struggling local businesses in Monmouth is on the back burner and waiting to be launched. Within the next year residents will begin to see major renovations to the downtown area. One change will include a new brand name for Monmouth’s downtown businesses, “The Shops of Monmouth.” Monmouth’s City Council hopes that this new branding campaign will serve as a creative way to bring more businesses and families to the downtown area.
“You can’t just throw up a small shop in a small town like this, it has to be more of a destination, there has to be a reason to come here,” said Paul Schuytema, Director of Community Development. Schuytema added, “The whole idea of branding is to find something everyone can get behind. We have met the challenge of rehabbing all the buildings in the downtown area, the next step is figuring out what businesses will fit.”

 The new branding campaign, sponsored by Midwest Bank, hopes to attract new businesses to boost Monmouth’s economy.  “The Shops of Monmouth” will become the town’s way of publicly advertising to large franchises and businesses.

 “If we have a really vibrant retail and cultural base in our downtown everyone wins, businesses, Monmouth, Monmouth College, and even the students. We are tending the garden and getting the soil ready right now,” said Schuytema. He hopes that by creating an attractive brand name for downtown Monmouth, they can reduce the “leakage factor” and bring business back, “The money is being spent, we just have to market it right”.

 As of now, Monmouth’s City Council’s goal is to keep building its residential market to attract more businesses. If you are looking to become part of the campaign or would like your business in downtown Monmouth, visit for more information.


By Sarah Mabley
Mayor Rod Davies presented the city's plan for the new development of the downtown district in Monmouth, Illinois this week.  Along with the mayor, City Administrator John Cratty and Director of City Development Paul Schuytema each spoke of  the opportunity to ¨strike while the iron is hot¨ in the downtown district. 

According to Davies, City Hall sees new growth opportunities for downtown in retail, dining, and cultural activities in the heart of our community¨.  He said that his administration sees very real ways to leverage the limited TIF income and continue development. He also said that there is clearly a benefit to all of the downtown residential population. There is an opportunity for downtown to grow into a real destination for retail, dining, and cultural activities.

¨There are a lot of moving places but the upside to our community is huge. It´s a challenge we can face head on if we can see the destination of a vibrant, thriving town. It´s where we live, it´s Monmouth¨ Davies said.    His comments were made to about 40 members of the Monmouth Rotary Club who attended the weekly meeting.

Another speaker at the Monmouth weekly meeting of the Monmouth Rotary Club was Paul Schuytema who discussed real prospects for the new development to the downtown district.  The vision for downtown Monmouth is of an exciting and vibrant retail district in the same vein as Seminary Street in Galesburg, Illinois, Schuytema said. ¨We are trying to re-imagine our downtown as something that will work in our small, rural community¨.  He pointed out that targeted businesses are one way to bring business downtown. Loft apartments, cultural activities, and retail businesses will be major pull factors set for another generation, according to Schuytema.¨If we had talked about 2 years ago, renovating 12 buildings in this economy in the state of Illinois we would have been run out of town on a rail¨, Schuytema continued. He said that City Hall is thinking beyond into the real future. 

¨What we are trying to do is map a course so we are always playing a couple of chess moves ahead. Plans are being made down the road. Yes it´s kinda scary but we´d rather have the problem to find the people to occupy the retail stores than find the 5 to 10 million dollars that it is going to take to get these building up to code¨, he summarized.

John Cratty was last to take the podium  talked about why new development makes long term sense for the communit. He said a major goal is to get the old buildings up to code, and to spur future economic growth. He addressed the challenges because of the slow economy in the state of Illinois. However, according to Cratty new development is an investment in the future because it prevents major costs. When old buildings are left to themselves, they suffer costs to the community of Monmouth. For example, a small building fire could cost the city millions of city dollars, Cratty explained. Cratty used to be the fire chief in Galesburg, Illinois. ¨No matter how bad the state is doing, we still have to serve and protect the people of Monmouth¨