Illinois unemployment rate drops to historic low, but remains above national average. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced Thursday that the unemployment rate fell -0.1 percentage point to 3.8 percent, a new historical low, while nonfarm payrolls lost -17,200 jobs in November, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The October monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report from +1,900 to +8,300 jobs.

Illinois has had its share of famous people. You can start with our four Presidents, and continue through a long list of famous entertainers, scientists, war heroes, authors, athletes, journalists, activists and other public figures. But one of the most famous Illinoisans fits into several of those categories: a mild-mannered reporter who puts on his cape and saves the day just when all seems lost.

We know him as Superman, and since January 1972 his home has been the Illinois city of Metropolis.
On January 1st, more than 200 new laws will go into effect in Illinois. Among them are laws that provide additional protections for victims of sexual assault, greater access to healthcare, expanded consumer protections, improved public safety and more benefits for veterans.

Here are 7 new state laws to know in 2020.

Fitch Ratings issues watch report on Illinois’ fiscal stability. The credit rating agency identified Illinois as one of three states that should be closely scrutinized by debt investors in calendar year 2020. Fitch identified potential “changes in credit quality” in Springfield as an element in its continuing belief that Illinois’ finances must be kept under close watch. Fitch’s report, released on Tuesday, December 10, placed Illinois in the same category as Alaska and Kentucky. All three are states with serious budgetary problems, including unfunded pension liabilities.
Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) prison in America is the now idle facility on an island in San Francisco Bay known as Alcatraz. The former U.S. Army fort became a federal prison in 1934 and housed the era’s most dangerous killers, bank robbers and gangsters, including Illinois’ own Al Capone. It was also the subject of any number of pop culture references, including numerous films starring such Hollywood luminaries as Burt Lancaster, Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery.

But by the early 1960s, “the Rock” was showing its age. Deterioration, prohibitive expenses for maintenance and a high-profile 1962 escape attempt convinced federal policymakers that a new facility was going to have to be found for the nation’s worst offenders. Considering all these factors, Attorney General Robert Kennedy signed off on the plans for a new maximum security federal prison in a quiet corner of southern Illinois just south of the city of Marion.
COGFA reports on November State tax revenues. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget-forecasting arm, constantly monitors Illinois State tax cash flows. Public reports are published monthly.

The revenue report for November 2019 reflects continued increases in Illinois incomes and the payments of income taxes to the State. Income tax payments in November 2019 were $201 million higher than they had been in November 2018, with $114 million of the increase being paid in individual income tax and $87 million in corporate income tax. Overall State general funds-related tax receipts increased by $153 million in November 2019 relative to the year-earlier month, and total revenues including transfers-in were up by $124 million in November 2019.
Tully Monster 3D model. Photo from the Illinois State Museum. 
What exactly is a Tully Monster?

“We still don’t know what he is – or was,” then-Field Museum curator Mary Carman, a leader in the effort to designate the Tully Monster as the official Illinois State Fossil, told the Chicago Tribune in 1987. “He makes a brief appearance in the fossil record and suddenly disappears. He didn’t evolve into anything, nor was anything ancestral to him, but he is a one-in-a-million fossil. That is why he would make a great state fossil for Illinois. People come here from all over the world to hunt for their own Tully.”

So, what’s a Tully Monster? And where did it come from?
Outcry against misuse of “seclusion rooms” by schools across Illinois; State takes action. Many school districts use “seclusion rooms” and “isolation rooms” as places where students whom an educator believes to be disruptive can be sent for time-outs. News reports this week suggest that some schools are misusing seclusion rooms, or using them in the wrong circumstances and on the wrong students. Some students have behavioral or emotional problems that make isolation and seclusion a cruel punishment to inflict upon them. Many parents want to believe that their schools know what they are doing when they punish a schoolchild in this way, but an investigation has found that there very few cases where a school examines and diagnoses a student’s psychological state before sending the child to an isolation room. Worse, in some cases the school should know that this act is inappropriate – and they do it anyway. Following publication of this investigative report, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued emergency rules to ban the isolation of a student in a locked quiet room. Based on the new rules, students who are assigned to “time outs” will be monitored rather than isolated.
Thanksgiving celebrations come with a healthy dose of 17th-century Pilgrim imagery. They are in recognition of what is generally considered the very first Thanksgiving in America – the feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621.

The concept of holding a special celebration to give thanks is one which appears throughout American history. Settlers in Virginia wrote of having a feast of thanksgiving as early as 1610. President George Washington called for such an occasion in 1789, shortly after his inauguration. Different states, principally in the Northeast, marked these occasions at different times throughout the year, but usually tied to the harvest season.
House Republicans call for passage of sweeping ethics reform package. In the wake of even more federal corruption investigations entangling multiple layers of Illinois government, House Republicans continued to press the case for comprehensive ethics reform. Tuesday morning, members of the House Republican caucus held a Capitol press conference to call on the General Assembly to take up a sweeping package of legislation to tackle the long overdue problem. This is the third such press conference to call for ethics reform in as many weeks.
With public corruption scandals at never-before seen levels in Illinois, lawmakers had an opportunity during the Fall Veto Session to enact meaningful ethics reforms to address glaring instances of public abuse of power. Since January, House Republicans have filed 26 different ethics reform bills. While these robust, common-sense measures languished in the House Rules Committee and were denied consideration, majority party lawmakers filed two watered-down measures in the middle of the night leading into the final day of session, and limited floor action to only these two bills.

The approved measures do nothing to prohibit lawmakers from also serving as paid lobbyists. They do nothing to prevent committee chairpersons from blocking bills his or her campaign donors don’t like. They also do not prevent committee chairpersons to lobby agencies whose budgets they control, or prohibit legislators who resign from office after being arrested on federal corruption charges, from having significant voting power over selecting his or her successor.

House Republicans stood united and voted against adjourning Veto Session, asking that lawmakers remain in Springfield until meaningful ethics reforms were approved and sent to the governor. Members of the Democratic Caucus instead voted to go home without passing anything substantive to improve ethical conduct in the legislature.
Generals gather at the Army of the Potomac Headquarters in Virginia. 
Gettysburg is the most famous battle in American history; and the largest ever fought in the western hemisphere. The small town in south-central Pennsylvania is remembered for the three-day clash of armies in July 1863, and for the November remarks of Abraham Lincoln, quite possibly the greatest Presidential speech ever delivered.

But while its aftermath, in which Illinois’ favorite son spoke of those who gave “the last full measure of devotion,” is well-known, the battle’s origin is not such common knowledge. It began with a group of six Illinois cavalrymen standing in front of an advancing army and setting in motion the events which would turn the tide of the Civil War and save our nation.
Leader Durkin, House Republicans Introduce Sweeping Ethics Reform Package in Response to Federal Investigations. Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin along with members of the House Republican caucus have announced a sweeping ethics reform package to address unacceptable practices brought forth through the ongoing federal investigations.

“These ethics reform bills are common sense, and a direct response to the wrongdoings we have learned from the current federal investigations,” Durkin said. “I am calling on the legislative leaders and the Governor to support these initiatives and begin moving them forward next week so they can become law.”
In the early years of the 20th century, reform movements swept the nation. These movements brought about many of the laws governing safety and working conditions that we take for granted today. Basic workplace safety laws, the Pure Food and Drug Act, prohibitions on child labor and the beginning of the end of the sweatshops; these all came about due to the efforts of reformers during that era.

But sadly, many of these reforms didn’t happen just because of the hard work of those seeking to create a better life for Americans. They were helped along by some of the worst disasters in American history. One of the most notorious is the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York in which more than a hundred workers were killed when fire broke out in a locked sweatshop. Other early-20th century disasters as varied as the Iroquois Theater fire, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the sinking of the Titanic led to dramatic reforms of safety laws throughout the nation and the world. One such disaster which changed Illinois and federal law was the 1909 fire in a coal mine near the small town of Cherry.
Bipartisan Group of Legislators Call for Ethics Reform. Amidst ongoing public corruption investigations entangling multiple layers of Illinois government, Assistant House Minority Leader Grant Wehrli and a group of lawmakers is renewing the call for comprehensive ethics reform. At a Capitol press conference last Monday, the lawmakers said the General Assembly must take swift action to not only enhance Illinois’ current public ethics laws, but also called for the creation of a new task force.
More than 160 years later, the prophetic words of the most famous speech Abraham Lincoln delivered in Illinois remain well known.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln told his audience on June 16, 1858. “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
Fall veto session set to begin in Springfield. The lawmakers of the Illinois House will gather on Monday, October 28, to consider new business and take action on the vetoes signed by the Governor. The members of the Illinois General Assembly are mandated by the Constitution to meet for two three-day annual veto sessions every year. The first veto session will be in the final week of October, and the second week of veto session will be in the second full week of November.
When Major League Baseball held its first World Series in 1903, the league was made up of 16 teams all concentrated in the northeastern quarter of the nation. Five cities were home to multiple teams, and over the years some of the greatest World Series moments came from cross-town series: the hapless St. Louis Browns’ one taste of success, winning the American League pennant in 1944 (before being swept by the Cardinals in the Series), the Brooklyn Dodgers finally breaking through and winning a title in 1955, Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees the following year.

But MLB’s very first crosstown series happened right here in Illinois in 1906, when the White Sox bested the Cubs in six games.

Illinois unemployment rate down. A net 4,800 new Illinois payroll jobs were created in September 2019. The jobless rate fell from 4.0% in August to 3.9% in September, signaling so-called “full employment.” These numbers are statewide numbers that do not take account of pockets of higher unemployment in specific regions within Illinois. 

No matter how hard he tried, the lanky young man could not get the small wooden boat unstuck. Finally conceding that there was no way to get his loaded barge any further down the river, Abraham Lincoln decided to offload his supplies and maybe lighten the load enough to get past the obstruction. Perhaps by asking one of the gathering crowd of spectators where he had become stuck, he would have learned that the settlement’s name was New Salem.

Just after he turned 21, Lincoln found himself alone. He had moved to central Illinois with his family, but after the brutal winter of 1830; which came to be known as the “Winter of the Deep Snow;” his parents had decided to abandon their new home near present-day Decatur and head back to Indiana. Abraham had no desire to go back to the Hoosier State, so he stayed behind.

Lawmakers join Governor to celebrate bipartisan work to attract data center construction to Illinois. A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers joined Governor Pritzker in Chicago on Monday to discuss how new data center incentives will help bring new jobs to Illinois and grow the state economy. The ceremony, held at the Digital Reality Data Center near McCormick Place, was also attended by business leaders, labor leaders, trade groups and existing data center business representatives.

President Kennedy, Congressman Yates, and Governor Kerner
sit in the back of a convertible, Springfield, Illinois, 1962.
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.
In October 1962, an American U-2 reconnaissance plane photographed a series of Soviet missile bases being built in Cuba. Alerted to this serious threat, President John F. Kennedy and his defense and foreign policy advisers launched an effort to remove the missiles, either through diplomacy or by force. Global tensions soared to a point where any spark might have ignited World War III.

Four days into the crisis, that spark nearly happened; not in Cuba or Berlin or any other Cold War flashpoint, but in Springfield, Illinois.

Sterigenics to permanently shut down troubled Willowbrook plant. The plant, located in Chicago’s suburbs near Interstate 55, emitted ethylene oxide, a poisonous chemical used to sterilize medical equipment and other devices. The Willowbrook plant was in operation until 2018, during which time Sterigenics assured neighbors that the plant was “safe” – that it operated a sealed cycle that did not release the ethylene oxide as poisonous vapor into the Chicago-area atmosphere.
Manufacturing is one of Illinois’ largest economic engines, providing more than 592,000 jobs across the state and accounting for twelve percent of the Gross State Product.

This year, House Republicans led the charge to modernize and make permanent the Manufacturer’s Purchase Credit (MPC) to save Illinois manufacturers more than $40 million and help them thrive in the Land of Lincoln. Under the new law, manufacturers will not pay state or local sales tax on consumables used or consumed in the manufacturing process. These include things like fuel, solvents, coolants, oils, adhesives, hand tools, protective apparel, and fire and safety equipment.
In September of 1982 a series of random murders in Illinois shocked and horrified the nation. Over the course of two days, seven people in Cook and DuPage counties died after taking Tylenol capsules which had been tampered with and laced with cyanide. The crime led to a massive investigation, one of the largest product recalls in American history and drastic changes to the safety features on medicine bottles and other containers on store shelves across the country.

It is also a case that was never solved. 
Spain named House Republican Conference Chairman. State Representative Ryan Spain was appointed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin to the post of House Republican Conference Chairman, joining Durkin’s leadership team.

“I welcome Ryan to the Leadership team with great enthusiasm. Ryan is a young, thoughtful member whose vision strongly reflects the values of our caucus,” said Leader Durkin regarding the appointment.  
If someone wrote a book about the fifth Governor of Illinois and you went to the library to check it out, they would let you keep the book almost as long as William Lee Davidson Ewing kept the governorship.

Ewing never sought either of the state’s top two offices, but attained them both in the space of less than two years. His stay in the governor’s office in Vandalia was the shortest of any Illinois chief executive: just sixteen days.

Amazon agrees to buy 100,000 electric vans from Rivian Automotive. Although Rivian is a startup firm, its Central Illinois plant is experienced at motor vehicle assembly. The Normal plant used to make Diamond-Star cars for Mitsubishi Motors before shutting down in November 2015. The electric delivery vans will be operated under the firm’s Amazon Prime identity trademark, and will carry goods from Amazon warehouses for home delivery. The first vans will go into operation in 2021, and the current goal is to operate 100,000 Rivian-made vans under the Amazon Prime name by 2024.
Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings perform Folsom Prison Blues
at Farm Aid 1985 / Video still from Farm Aid on YouTube
The early 1980s were a rough time for farmers in the United States and Canada. Years of record crops had combined with international geopolitical developments to drive down commodities prices and the value of farmland. Debt soared and foreclosures skyrocketed. It was the worst farm crisis to strike the United States since the dust bowl of the 1930s. As a leading agricultural state, Illinois was among the hardest hit.

Barely a year after statehood, Illinois’ new state government abandoned its original riverfront capital city of Kaskaskia and moved northeast to higher ground in Vandalia. It proved to be a wise choice: within a few decades, the Mississippi had changed course, and much of the original seat of government lay at the bottom of the river.

Less than 20 years later, Illinois was once again looking for a new capital city. The efforts of a freshman state legislator and eight of his colleagues would help shift it farther north.

9/11 memorial events to be held throughout Illinois. The events will honor the lives of those lost on 9/11/01 and the firefighters, police officers, and other first responders who courageously served on that tragic day. A web-based list of events throughout Illinois can be found here.

Summary of August 2019 revenue numbers. The nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) has reported on Illinois revenue numbers for the month of August 2019.
Pro football fans in Illinois are probably familiar with that catchy fight song, “Bear Down, Chicago Bears.” The 1941 song about the “pride and joy of Illinois,” marching to victory on the gridiron was inspired by one of the most dominant professional football teams to ever take the field. The “Monsters of the Midway” were the reigning NFL champions, having smashed their way to a 73-0 victory in the NFL championship game, the team’s fourth league title in just 20 years.

The song is particularly fun because of its play on the term “bear down;” meaning to focus and concentrate; and of course the team’s name. It would have sounded a lot different had it been written about a team called the Staleys.
Honoring Illinois State Police Trooper Nicholas Hopkins. Trooper Nicholas J. Hopkins was shot and killed while serving a search warrant at a home in East St. Louis on Friday, August 23.

Hopkins and other members of the Emergency Response Team were making entry into the home at 5:30 am when he was shot by an occupant during an exchange of gunfire. Hopkins became the fourth ISP trooper to die in the line of duty in 2019.

Trooper Hopkins had served with the Illinois State Police for 10 years. He is survived by his wife, three children, and brother. The family released a statement saying he had a "lasting impact on the lives of everyone who knew him."
In the early years of American independence, the Mississippi River marked the western border of the United States. With the completion of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, that boundary was moved hundreds of miles to the west. So by the time Illinois became a state in 1818, we were an interior state; that is, we had no international boundaries.

But for a few weeks in the early 1970s that (sort of) changed with the creation of the Republic of Forgottonia in the region between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.
99th District State Representative Mike Murphy is a Sangamon County native who made a name for himself in the restaurant industry before getting in to politics.

An avid bicycle rider, he participates in an annual trek across the state of Iowa.

We’ve all seen the statistics. Every year, cell phone use behind the wheel causes far too many accidents injuries and deaths. In fact, according to the National Safety Council it accounts for as many as 1.6 million crashes every year, injuring close to 400,000 people. One of those distracted driving accidents, which occurred in western Illinois, led to legislation in the spring session of the General Assembly to enact tougher penalties for accidents caused by distracted driving.
School bus safety law helps protect Illinois students. The nation was horrified last fall by the story of a girl and her younger twin brothers who were struck and killed on the side of a highway while attempting to board a school bus in Rochester, Indiana. The heartbreaking story was made even worse by the knowledge that it was not the only such incident in the United States in the recent past. That same week there were fatal bus stop accidents in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, and another crash in Florida in which three students were seriously injured.
Elias Kent Kane. Photo from the
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.
August 26 is the birthday of the first Illinois state Constitution. It marks the date in 1818 on which delegates to the first Illinois Constitutional Convention adopted the state’s founding document. It was this brief document which set in motion the creation of a government for the nation’s 21st state.

Our first Constitution was largely drafted by Elias Kent Kane, a Yale graduate and a lawyer from New York. Illinois’ first Constitution was heavily influenced by the founding document of Kane’s home state, as well as those of Ohio and Kentucky. When the Constitutional convention met at Bennett’s Tavern in the territorial capital of Kaskaskia, Kane was among the 33 delegates from 15 counties, with Judge Jesse Thomas serving as presiding officer. Delegates drafted, debated and approved the first Constitution in the space of three weeks. It was not submitted to the people for approval. Its adoption was celebrated with speeches in the capital city and the firing of 20 cannon rounds.

The nation was horrified last fall by the story of a girl and her younger twin brothers who were struck and killed on the side of a highway while attempting to board a school bus in Rochester, Indiana. The heartbreaking story was made even worse by the knowledge that it was not the only such incident in the United States in the recent past. That same week there were fatal bus stop accidents in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, and another crash in Florida in which three students were seriously injured.
Governor signs Davidsmeyer bill to create Pediatric Cancer License Plate that funds cancer research. Senate Bill 946, sponsored by Senator Steve McClure and Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, was signed into law Thursday by Governor Pritzker in honor of Jerseyville resident Jonny Wade, who passed away from cancer at age eight. The legislation authorizes universal special license plates and license plate decals to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer treatment and research.
Ella Park Lawrence with the Illinois State Flag.
Ella Louise Park Lawrence was a great patriot. Her ancestors came to America in 1639, and eight members of her family fought in the Revolutionary War. Her father, George, moved to Illinois when he was young, but eventually settled in Missouri. In the years before the Civil War he ran an abolitionist newspaper – an act of extreme courage in a sharply divided state like Missouri. As the nation split over the issue of slavery and then descended into civil war, George Park taught his children, including his three-year-old daughter Ella to love and respect the flag of the nation so many were fighting to save.

Young Ella never forgot that lesson, and as she grew up she was known to present stars-and-stripes flags to her school and her classmates. She returned to Illinois in 1874 to attend Knox College. There she met her future husband, George Lawrence, and they and their family lived in Galesburg, where they had five children, four of whom tragically died while still young.

Lauryn Russell is a 13-year-old student from Mercer County in northwestern Illinois who has faced a medical challenge made even more difficult by the laws of her home state. When she was 7 years old, Lauryn contracted Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness that is characterized by headaches, fevers, rashes, joint pain and fatigue. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 30,000 Lyme disease cases in the United States each year, but also says that reported cases are likely only a fraction of the true number of cases, which could be as high as 300,000.

COGFA publishes annual Budget Summary. The report published on August 1 covers the State budget passed for FY20, the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2019. Like the State’s monthly budget summaries (see below), the annual Budget Summary is published by the nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA). Unlike the monthly reports, however, the annual Summary is an overview of the entire State budget, including the public-sector operations for which the various budget line items have been appropriated. It is an anticipatory document for the Annual Report on FY20 to be published by the Office of the Illinois Comptroller after the fiscal year comes to an end.

Americans cross the Siegfried Line, 1945.
In May 1940, the German Army stormed into the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Having crushed Poland the year before, and invaded and conquered Denmark and Norway just a few weeks earlier, the Germans now turned their attention to the west, and the small nations on the North Sea coast were the first on their list.

Employing a new form of warfare; known as “blitzkrieg,” or “lightning war;” the Germans swept into Dutch and Belgian territory, overwhelming or driving back all who tried to resist. In Belgium, King Leopold III recognized the hopelessness of his country’s situation, and opted to surrender just weeks after the invasion.

While many monarchs and elected leaders of occupied nations (including much of Belgium’s civil government) fled to create governments-in-exile, Leopold stayed behind and surrendered with his army. He was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner for five years, eventually ending up in a house near Strobl, Austria.

It was there on May 7, 1945, that the King was liberated by soldiers of a unit comprised largely of men from the Illinois National Guard.

Every year in America it is estimated that 50,000 people die from epilepsy-related causes. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the nation; behind migraines, strokes and Alzheimer’s. The condition affects more than 65 million people worldwide and 200,000 people of all ages in Illinois, including schoolchildren. One in three of these individuals lives with uncontrollable seizures due to epilepsy.

The thought of a child being struck with a seizure while at school is an issue of major concern to parents throughout Illinois, and it is one which Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) had in mind when she introduced legislation this spring to better prepare schools to assist a student having an epileptic seizure.

Fitch Ratings calls Illinois’ outlook “stable.” The unenthusiastic description from credit rating firm Fitch Ratings maintains Illinois’ credit rating as one notch above “junk bond” status. So-called “junk debt” is viewed, by a wide variety of investors and investment vehicles, as unsuitable material for prudent savings. Issuers of “junk debt” typically have to pay much higher interest rates, and must work with a much shorter list of bond underwriters and potential bond buyers. 
Governor Shelby Moore Cullom.
In the 2nd floor portrait gallery of the Illinois state Capitol known as the Hall of Governors, a casual observer might do a double take looking at a portrait of a subject who looks an awful lot like Abraham Lincoln. His dark suit, thin face and beard certainly do bear a strong resemblance to the Great Emancipator. The lanky, distinguished 17th Governor of Illinois, Shelby Moore Cullom, had noticed the resemblance himself, and he took it as a point of pride that he looked so much like the man who had been friends with his father and who had guided his study of the law.

By the time he died in 1914 at the age of 84, Shelby Cullom had been a force in Illinois and national government for half a century, a political career spanning from the days just before the Civil War to the eve of World War I, and one which had put him in the orbit of almost every American President from Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson.
In February 2018, after floodwaters caused destruction in Watseka, Illinois, for the third time in as many years, State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) knew something more needed to be done.

“Flooding is unlike any other natural disaster we have in Illinois,” Bennett said. “There are lots of things an individual can do to prepare for an ice storm or even a tornado. You can stock up on canned food, you can buy a generator, you can have a safe room in your house. Floods are different: they require entire communities or entire regions to work together to take action.”

Name added to State Police Memorial Wall. In a ceremony held in Springfield on July 20, the family of Trooper Brooke Jones-Story unveiled the addition of her name to the list of state police officers inscribed at the Illinois State Police Memorial Park. The ceremony followed the death of Trooper Jones-Story on March 28, 2019 on U.S. Highway 20 near Freeport, Illinois. The police officer had been conducting a traffic stop, and was hit by a heavy truck driver who had failed to observe the “Move Over” law. This law requires drivers to move over, or sharply slow down, in order to avoid endangering a first responder who is on or next to a working highway.
Employees drill holes in watch plates at the National
Watch Company factory in Elgin, Illinois, 1917.
“Does anybody really know what time it is?”

So asked the Illinois-based rock band Chicago on their 1969 debut album. It’s a good question; one that had plagued travelers throughout the United States during the 19th century, and one which was finally answered after a conference in the band’s namesake city of Chicago.

Before we all had smartphones in our pockets to tell us the time down to the millisecond, before wristwatches, pocket watches and even clocks on the wall, people told the approximate time by the position of the sun. Decorative sundials are not an uncommon sight today, but two centuries ago they were the only method for telling time to any degree of accuracy.