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Happy New Year: Hollandy

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Happy New Year

By: Sarah Aarssen

“It’s not all Holland, it’s not all Illinois, it’s just a little Holland-y”

It’s only natural that my first instinct when writing my January “Hollandy” would be to first wish you all a very happy New Year and best of luck for 2012 (albeit slightly late) and then proceed to share with you about the cultural differences between how we would celebrate New Year’s in central Illinois versus the city of Amsterdam. I’m a “go with your gut” girl so I’ll do just that.

It’s been a long time since I’ve rung in the New Year back in Illinois but it’s safe to say I can remember the traditions well enough. I’d get together with my usual group of awesome, fun friends. We’d decide if we should stay in or go out. We’d discuss the dangers of driving and risk of getting in an accident or being pulled over (from no fault of our own, mind you). Then we’d drink, dance, do the countdown, kiss our loved ones at the stroke of midnight (or kiss random strangers because, well, you saw the part about the drinking didn’t you?). Eventually the night would wind down and you’d spend the next day nursing a slight hang over and eating Bagna Cauda with your family.

My first experience of New Year’s Eve (2004 – 2005) Amsterdam style was somewhat similar to Illinois in that there was a countdown. That’s where the similarity pretty much ended.

Still in the “new love” phase Marco and I didn’t make plans with anybody and decided to spend our first New Years together just with one another. We walked through the streets of the city and I was blown away by the size of it all. On every big “square” there were huge deejay booths and stages set up with gigantic speakers and music blaring. The entire city was in party mode. We decided that Dam Square, where the palace is, (did I tell you the Dutch have royalty? Well now you know) would be the best place to spend our very first New Years together. Rather than a small club full of people, there where thousands and thousands of people gathered around, drinking, dancing and listening to the deejay rock some techno-dance music while videos were shown on a massive screen.

I remember the excitement that I felt being there. I was living the things that I had only seen on TV. Me, a girl from mapdot Illinois , I was really standing there on Dam Square, in front of a palace, amongst this sea of people that I didn’t know, who didn’t know me and I was loving it. The music was pumping. People were partying. The energy was fantastic. It was a dream. As cheesy as it may sound, it was seriously a dream for me. I don’t know if it will make sense to anybody else but I felt tiny. I felt so small and little and my world seemed to be super-sized. No, it wasn’t the space cakes. It was just the city doing its thing.

Television stations happened to be taping the square to show the celebration on TV so at about two minutes to midnight they had us all do a “practice” countdown to show on the air. We did the countdown, everything went fine. It was what I expected. Awesome.

Then the real countdown began. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! We kissed. (I didn’t kiss any random strangers that year, if you were wondering). The crowds erupted in shouting and celebration.

Then the most bizarre thing happened. All smiles around just soaking it all in and suddenly I felt a little, yet firm, push and turned around to see what was happening. Seconds later Marco yelled “get back” throwing a heroic arm in front of me sending me stumbling a bit. There was a group of young guys creating a small clearing, probably three feet in diameter. What in the world? Seconds later a gigantic firework exploded into the air spraying it colors across the crowd. Scared me to death! Not three seconds later it happened again. A little push. Somebody would yell “look out” (or kijk uit in Dutch) and BOOM!

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I’m not talking about bottle rockets here. These were big, glorious, professional fireworks, think Fourth of July…only in the hands of every single drunken tween, teen and young adult on the square filled with thousands of people. I’d love to pause here and say it was gorgeous but I’d be lying. It was terrifying. It took the magical “I’m in love with the city” feeling down a notch or two and I was now feeling more “you crazy Dutch, have you lost your minds?!?!?”. -ish It was absolute mayhem! No “Auld Lang Syne” sung here but more like “Ode to Anxiety”.

That was my first and very last experience of New Years in the grand old city. We now ring in the new year from the comfort of our living room, watching those crazy-firework-loving-Dutch light up the sky from the safety of our double glazed windows.

Happy New Year’s everybody!

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Domestic violence is prevalent in Macoupin County

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Dear Editor,

Domestic Violence within Macoupin County is prevalent. It is destructive and can be both physical and psychological. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. It may include behaviors meant to scare, physically harm, or control a partner. While every relationship is different – domestic violence generally involves an unequal power dynamic in which one partner tries to assert control over the other in a variety of ways. The following statistics are all according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

We can see domestic violence inside the home: through the use and control of household pets. In one study, 85% of survivors who experienced co-occurring animal abuse reported that the behavior of their pets had changed. An even higher percentage of survivors who reported partners had harmed or killed their pet, have also reported their partner for domestic violence. We can also see an increase usage of firearms within the intimate partner violence home. A survey of contacts by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found (of those with access to firearms):  

  • 10% said their abusers had fired a gun during an argument.  
  • 67% believed their abusers were capable of killing them. 

We can see domestic violence inside our schools: as partner violence is not exclusive to the home. There are many instances of violence between dating partners that begin in high school. Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year. Within those relationships, 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.  

We can see domestic violence inside our community: Macoupin County provides a specific set of needs for those victims and survivors of domestic violence. There are several complex concerns within a violent relationship that come to light once action has been taken. Safe Families sees a few main re-occurring concerns within the county:  

  • Survivors have fewer financial resources, making them more financially dependent on an abusive partner.  
  • The lack of rental units or other affordable housing options makes it more difficult for survivors to leave spouses or co-habiting abusers.  

The Macoupin County Safe Families program provides support for residents as they journey the emotional endeavors to leave behind domestic violence. As a contributor to that experience, we will be hosting a Domestic Violence Awareness Walk on October 7th on the Carlinville Square. An event shirt will be included with a ticket sale. The online tickets will close 09/29 at 5pm. Tickets will be sold at 9am day-of event at the Safe Families booth. More information about the Awareness Walk can be found on our website at mcphd@mcphd.net. We urge Macoupin County residents to join us and rally against domestic violence together.  

Juliet Wooldridge and Lilly Booth

Domestic Violence Advocate Coordinators
Community Health Worker
Macoupin County Safe Families

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: National Health Center Week is week of August 6

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Dear Editor,

Community Health Centers are the backbone of our nation’s primary health care system. We design innovative, integrated primary care based on what services communities need most — ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare for over 30 million people. In addition to creating jobs and saving lives, collectively we save American taxpayers $24 billion a year in health care costs by preventing and managing chronic diseases.

Community Health Centers are not ordinary medical clinics; we are also problem-solvers who reach beyond the exam room to care for the whole person by providing access to necessities like food, transportation, and housing. Community Health Centers care for everyone, regardless of insurance status. Nationwide during hurricanes, floods, and fires, and locally during the pandemic, Community Health Centers are first on the scene and are vital to keeping America healthy.

The 2023 theme of National Health Center Week is ‘The Roadmap to a Stronger America.’ Community Health Centers serve as the beacon of strength, service, and care in their communities. In moments of pain and loss, we offer support and love. In moments of triumph, we offer hope and a vision for the future. This year’s National Health Center Week theme takes us on a virtual road trip across America, highlighting the achievements and amazing work being done at Community Health Centers in every state and territory. Celebrate the uniqueness of our community and get to know others as we journey across the U.S. together!

Each day of National Health Center Week is dedicated to a particular focus area. We will be working with community partners to recognize and celebrate each of the following focus groups in our community.

As part of National Health Center Week 2023, we invite you to support Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc. to celebrate our mission and accomplishments.

Christy Blank
CEO/Public Health Administrator
Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc.
Macoupin County Public Health Department

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Drobney family thanks the community

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To the great people of Macoupin County.

Although several months have past, the family of Bridget Drobney would like to extend their deepest gratitude for the overwhelming love and support that we received during the recent attempt to secure the release of one of Bridget’s rapist/murderers. We are truly grateful for the numerous letters that were written and sent to the Governor of our state, the Illinois Prison Review Board, and the personal outreach to our family; all of which demonstrated your unwavering love and support. Your efforts were instrumental in persuading the Governor and members of the Prison Review Board to deny clemency for Bridget’s murderer.

While it remains a possibility for the individuals involved in Bridget’s kidnapping, rape and murder to annually petition for clemency, The Drobney family takes solace in knowing that the exceptional people of Macoupin County will steadfastly oppose any such requests and stand ready to fight should the matter of clemency arise again. We are particularly grateful to retired Macoupin County State’s Attorney, Vincent Moreth, as well as the current members of the Macoupin County State’s Attorney’s Office, under the leadership of State Attorney, Jordan Garrison. Their unwavering dedication and support was evident as they traveled to Chicago to represent Bridget and the Drobney family during the clemency hearing.

Once again, we express our sincerest appreciation for your profound support and unwavering commitment to justice. Your solidarity has been a source of strength for us during these difficult years. We will keep you in our prayers and will be forever grateful to the people of Macoupin County.

Sincerely,
The Drobney Family

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