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Rebuilding the BenGil area – Where did our main street go?

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Where did the main street go?

Any minute now a tumbleweed will be strolling down main street, not to be disturbed by a passing car or a pedestrian walking by, slowly making its way past the vacant storefronts, empty parking lots, and tread less sidewalks. It’s not just Gillespie though. It’s happening all across the U.S. Main street USA, the 4 or 5 block stretch that gave a town its character, is disappearing. Maybe it’s because of the current economy, or maybe it’s because of the “big guys” like Wal-Mart who have made it almost impossible to compete on price, or just maybe it’s because of the internet and the explosion of e-commerce. Who knows? In all honestly, I don’t think it really matters. A multi-billion dollar corporation like Wal-Mart isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and by the looks of the projected numbers, the economy doesn’t look like it’s going to rebound within the next decade. To worry about the “why” is wasted energy. It’s not important to our future. The “how” should be our focus. How do we bring life back to main street? How do we build our local economy? How do we make people care?

I honestly don’t know. In fact, I really don’t think anyone does. I know there’s been several attempts at it. Some have been slightly successful, others not so much. I do know one thing. I will not believe there is not an answer to our problem. There are too many intelligent people, too many hard workers, and too much talent in the BenGil area not to find an answer. The only time we’ll ever fail is if we stop trying to find solutions. I say try, fail, learn, try, fail, learn, repeat, and repeat again until we eventually succeed.

Ageless wasn’t originally built as a business for profit. It was built because we wanted to exercise somewhere in town. We were tired of driving to Carlinville and Litchfield to work out. We wanted something in Gillespie. We took a quick financial look, crunched a few numbers, and plowed ahead. We could have easily invested the startup costs in 401ks, IRAs, and the likes, but really, who would have benefited from that. If the current economy has taught us anything (other than we should save more and spend less. Notice I said spend, not invest), it’s that community is more important than material possessions and bank accounts. Family, friends, stories, laughs, and smiles make the “world go round”, not fancy cars, big houses, vacations, or fancy gadgets. Ageless will never be a million-dollar company. It’ll never let me retire early. But it’s made me laugh, smile, and catch up with friends I haven’t talked to in years. Because of that, it will always be, no matter how much money I make in my other ventures, my best investment.

The BenGil Post was also a created with the same philosophical reasoning: create something we’d use. We were tired of waiting a week for our news, or getting it from our facebook feed from friends. We wanted something instant, unlimited, and community-created. So instead of waiting for someone else to create it, we did. And from its early success, it appears that we weren’t the only ones craving for instant news. But the BenGil Post is part of a much larger picture. We wanted more than just a news site. We wanted to help rebuild main street. And the BenGil Post was the beginning of our plan. It was our “try.”

The 2nd part of the series will appear next week.

 

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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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