County Watch—Osceola election; Looney/Spivey; Forgottonia; 2018

By Jim Nowlan
[email protected]

The local election this April 4, reported on last week, also includes a contest for road commissioner in Osceola Township (Bradford and environs) between James D. Young, Republican, and Kevin Logsdon, Independent. Additionally, in Penn Township, there are four openings and five candidates running for Penn Township Trustee. Those candidates are J. Thomas Howes, Terry Fritz, David Klumpp, Weston Stahl, and Jamie Lindley, all running as Independents.

The News encourages candidates to submit a statement of candidacy of 300 words or less, which we will publish. Deadline for submission would be March 31. Email to [email protected] or mail to PO Box 240, Toulon, IL 61483.
There is another important race to elect two trustees to the Black Hawk College Board. I am backing East Campus graduates Steve Spivey, cattleman from New Windsor, and Jon Looney, IT specialist from Kewanee.

East Campus has jump-started the successful careers of hundreds of Stark County young people. The campus has offered excellent general education and career training programs as well as agricultural programs known widely as among the absolute best in the country. Students come to the program from across the nation.

I worry that actions taken the past couple of years at college headquarters in Moline are insensitive, to say the least, to the needs and vitality of the East Campus.

Please take time to vote April 4 for Steve Spivey and Jon Looney, two really outstanding candidates who have the endorsement of the Stark County Farm Bureau and area leaders like Doug Parrott, Mike Bigger, John Leezer and others.

When I was a young politician in the early 1970s, folks in western Illinois felt ignored by our political leaders. Among other illustrations of neglect, it was indeed almost impossible, as some of you will recall, to get to western Illinois. The roads were few, winding, and in bad shape.

So, an enterprising young fellow named Neal Gamm took the lead in proposing a new American state of Forgottonia, which theoretically would comprise the 16 western counties of our state, not quite coming up to Stark County, though we felt ignored too.

The “new state” was headquartered in Macomb, as Viet Nam Conflict veteran Gamm was a student at WIU.

Young Gamm and the Macomb Chamber of Commerce had great fun with this venture, which is chronicled in this month’s Illinois Heritage, a publication of the state historical society.

The first act of Forgottonia was to procliam its sovereignty, declare war on the United States, immediately surrender, and then apply for reconstruction funds!

Forgottonia received all sorts of national publicity. Gamm was an amateur actor who loved the role, wearing a tux and holding press conferences all over the state.

Gamm called his university “Forgottonia University,” and had sweatshirts printed up, emblazoning the initials of his new university across the front.

I was then running for lieutenant governor. I recall my Democratic opponent Neil Hartigan, a good guy, was asked to be lieutenant governor of Forgottonia, “because lieutenant governor is already a forgotten office.”

Who knows if such gambits pay off. I do know you can get to western Illinois more easily today on a couple of four-lane roads, one from Springfield and another from Galesburg.

Illinois celebrates its bicentennial next year, 2018, which is just around the corner. Unfortunately, the state hasn’t done any planning for the milestone, whereas Indiana, celebrating its 200th this year, spent seven years planning events.

So, we have to do this locally, which is fine. I would like to challenge our libraries, local governments and historical, genealogical and civic groups to start thinking and planning possible events to acknowledge what a great place our county has been in which to grow up, live and prosper, all thanks to those who came before us. We need to provide our young people a sense of their heritage.

We have great resources in local historians Don Schmidt, Floyd Ham, the Genie Society and others. The News will do its part, though we don’t yet have a plan.

The Roman philosopher Seneca said that, “All that’s past is prologue,” or “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”

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