December 31, 2023
The year 2023 is going out on a mild winter day as forecasters are expecting a drier and warmer winter for the area. Here is what happened in Minonk during this past year.
In January David Johnson was hired to become the new Fieldcrest Superintendent. In April, Bob Hakes, Heather McKay and Joan Glowacki were elected to the Fieldcrest Board of Education. Also in April Fieldcrest's basketball star Ashlyn May was named to the Pantagraph All Area first team. The Fieldcrest girls basketball team ended up with a 32-4 record and advanced all the way to the Super Sectional.
In April Tom Barth was elected to the Minonk City Council along with incumbents Trent Ruestman and Jonathan Stears. In December Teresa Arndt was appointed to the city council replacing Trent Ruestman who resigned. In June the city renewed its contract with the Woodford County Sheriff's Department to patrol Minonk.
The Minonk July 4th festivities and the Parade of Lights in December proved to be successful again.
D & S Antique Store opened for business in the former Dollar General building at Oak and Fifth streets and Hill's Beekeeping Supplies remodeled the former Sanitary Bakery building to house its new business. Minonk, however, lost the Heritage Manor Nursing Home which declared bankruptcy and closed its doors in July.
Even though our area was largely unaffected, the weather extremes in other parts of the country indicate that global warming is for real. Nevertheless, the Minonk area was covered with smoke from the Canadian forest wild fires in June. The area had a dry June but then received over 15 inches of rain in July, including 6 inches in one day, to break the drought suggesting that extreme rainfall due to global warming seems to be here to stay.
Farmers had a good yield in crops this year but the bountiful harvest also resulted in lower grain prices with the price of corn falling from over $7 a bushel in 2022 to around $4.70 this month.
Nation wide the COVID-19 pandemic has waned with hospitalization cases down considerably. Few people are wearing masks but the CDC says the virus is still with us and people are urged to get the latest vaccination to prevent the spread of the virus. However, only 20% of the country has received the latest vaccination.
Inflation has come down considerably and is currently at 3.1% down from a high of 6.5% earlier this year but still short of the Federal Reserve's target rate of 2%. While gas prices are lower, down to $2.95, some food prices are still higher than what they were 3 years ago but that can be due to normal increases over time. Even in low inflation, prices rise.
Wages have increased by 4.6% this year and in the stock market the S&P 500 bench market has increased by 24% and the Nasdaq by 43%. The unemployment rate is at a historical low of 3.7%.
It appears the economy has recovered nicely and looks likely to have a soft landing instead of a recession which was forecasted by some. However, many surveys indicate people feel the economy is not doing well in spite of the statistics. Some experts explain this paradox is partly due to the pessimism and hangover from the COVID pandemic and also partly due to media distortion of facts or cherry picking of facts to fit a political agenda.
Looking forward to 2024 one should be optimistic but there are still areas of concern. The Russian-Ukraine war, while still raging, appears to be in a stalemate and the Hamas-Israeli war has no end in sight. The bigger concern for Americans is the upcoming election which appears to be another bitter struggle between the two political parties. The name-calling and lies being disseminated not only adds fury to the political participants but also to the average citizen which results in a highly polarized country.
It is no exaggeration to say that democracy in America is on the line with the upcoming November election. The likely Republican candidate for President has been hit with over 90 indictments and looks forward to retribution by going after his political opponents if elected and has indicated other dictatorial aspirations.
Until the Republican party can overcome its obsession with grievances and payback instead of serving the nation, its future as a political party will be one more like a fascist state if elected.
Here is hoping the American people are wiser and more mature than the politicians that are supposed to serve them when it comes election time. Let's us hope for a saner and better new year.