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Parenting Again

Free newsletter for grandparents raising grandchildren

[MARCH 24, 2001]  The number of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren is on the rise. In Illinois, about 70,000 children are raised in homes where a grandparent is the sole caregiver.

"Grandparents who have become parents again come from all walks of life and from all cultural and economic groups," explains Molly Hofer, family life educator with University of Illinois Extension. "They often feel overwhelmed and alone when they take on the parenting role."

In an effort to address concerns that grandparents face, U of I Extension is offering a free newsletter, Parenting Again. This monthly newsletter offers practical tips on issues like finding support groups and resources, helping grandchildren succeed in school, taking care of your own health, effective discipline, and unique challenges for second-time parents.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

"The newsletter also covers seasonal topics like summer activities, holiday gift-giving and school enrollment," says Hofer.

To find out more about the Parenting Again newsletter, contact the U of I Extension office in Logan County. You can subscribe by phone, (217) 732-8289; fax, (217) 735-5837; or e-mail, lock@mail.aces.uiuc.edu.

[University of Illinois Extension]


Planning the trip

Travelers get info, deals online and visit their travel agents for a personal touch

[MARCH 24, 2001]  The widespread use of the Internet for online travel arrangements may have had an impact on most local travel agenciesí business, but customers still seem to prefer a personal touch.

Travel agent Becky Grapes of World Travel in Springfield said her customers may shop around for travel deals on their personal computers, but they come back to her for booking and purchases.

"People are using the Internet, but it doesnít seem to be affecting us. They like the personal service and know that if they have a problem, they have someone to come back and talk to. On the Internet, there is no one to talk to. People are very leery of that," she said. "Customers are still going to use a travel agency in a lot of ways."

Technology has definitely changed the way people plan their vacations, with everything from electronic tickets, online price wars and an abundance of websites devoted to all aspects of the travel industry.

But despite the wealth of information now available which allows consumers to compare prices and find the best deal, local travel agents are hearing complaints from dissatisfied customers who used the Internet to make their own travel plans. Most of those former customers have returned to a brick-and-mortar travel agency after going it alone. The unique aspects that make up a wireless world of travel seem to be the same things driving consumers back to their local travel agents.

"We hear that once or twice a day ó complaints from people booking travel plans through websites, and then customers not getting what they were promised. Thereís no recourse," Grapes added.

Customers find more advantages dealing with a travel agent than through the Internet, she said.
"Itís (Internet) very restrictive. Often tickets purchased online cannot be exchanged or
returned. With us, if there is a cancellation, they still have credit. That still means a lot to people," she said. "Customers use the Internet for research and find out what they want, and then call us. They feel more comfortable by having a person to talk to and an actual ticket."

Despite the downfalls, however, shopping for travel online has proved useful not only for
customers but also for the travel industry. Grapes uses the Internet for research so she can offer her customers more information. She says it has worked to her advantage, because customers really appreciate the fact she can offer them additional information and point them to websites for virtual tours, photos and details she once had to look through brochures or make numerous phone calls to obtain.

She said most agents donít use the Internet for airline fares, which are booked through the airlines, but do utilize it to book hotels, packages and tours.

"Itís definitely helped us with research. Itís nice to be able to tell someone what the website is at the resort they are looking at. Some are very informative, with pictures and virtual tours," she added.

A survey of travel agencies conducted by Travel Weekly found about 78 percent of U.S.
agencies now can access the Internet on-site, and indications are that number will continue to grow.

Jean Martin, manager of Bergnerís Travel in White Oaks Mall, said her business has decreased about 10 percent due to people making travel plans online. Most of those customers, however, have returned to her agency after bad experiences and dissatisfaction. "They know they can come back [to us] if thereís a problem," she said, which often isnít the case when making travel plans online.

Martin said sheís noticed a decrease in the volume of business during the past few years,
with many former customers saying they now use the Internet to make travel plans.

However, many of those customers have been unhappy. "They thought they were getting one thing, and they were getting something else," she said.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

According to Forrester Research, online travel sales are predicted to reach an estimated
$7.4 billion in 2001.

One of the biggest concerns for travel agents trying to compete with this increase in online sales is the growing number of suppliers enticing travelers with offers that can be found only on Internet sites or in weekly e-mails.

Grapes acknowledges that itís hard to compete with those offers but isnít worried that the computer age will replace the hands-on art of doing business with a travel agent.

Patricia Groves, owner of Moniqueís Travel in Springfield, agrees. "At first, maybe the Internet had a negative impact [on our business]. But now what weíre seeing is that consumers do research and then come to us," she said. "The Internet is a powerful tool that sometimes makes it easier, but sometimes youíre [travel agent] just an order-taker."

Groves said about 85 percent of people who do research on the Internet then call her office to buy tickets, if she can match the prices. "More people are doing that. A lot of tour companies and vacation-package companies offer information on the Internet. Then customers ask me about what theyíve seen and come in and book with us," she said.

"I think itís confusing. Recently, an elderly woman purchased a ticket on the Internet.
When she got the ticket ó a non-refundable ó her sister in Florida who she was going to visit passed away. She came in and asked me to fix it," she said. "Itís the personal touch people are wanting. If they run into a problem, sometimes the Internet company is hard to get a hold of.

 "Every time new technology comes out, doomsayers say travel agencies are going to be
out of business. But we adapted to the computer in the early í80s when computer airline
registrations came out. Now weíve adapted to the Internet," she said.

Indeed, most local travel agents feel that information alone is not enough to sell travel.
National statistics support their theory that consumers feel the Internet simply canít match the range of personalized services a professional can offer.

 

 

According to a study by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) ó the world's largest and most influential travel trade association ó many consumers feel the Internet canít give them many things a travel agent can: firsthand experience; personalized service; expert advice; professional assistance with problems such as flight cancellations and missed connections; convenient one-stop shopping; follow-up service; ability to reissue, void or change tickets; human interaction; and special requests like wheelchairs, pet care and dietary needs.

Complaints mentioned by consumers in the study who made their own travel plans included not understanding the restrictions, being unable to get advertised fair or quoted prices, concerns about reputation of a company, paying more than necessary, and feeling the process was time-consuming and confusing. Booking the wrong date or time, having their credit card denied but not being notified, and having no assistance with changes in their tickets were also common complaints.

Groves said her agency charges a service fee, to make up for a 50 percent commission cut
made five years ago by the airline industry, but feels itís justified because "we do feel like we do a service. We do research, obtain seats for customers, help with problems or changes. We feel we bring a value to what we do, but the service fee has nothing to do with decreased business due to Internet competition," she said. "Thereís too many things that are complicated about travel. People still need us."

[Penny Zimmerman-Wills]

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Animals for Adoption

These animals and more are available to good homes from the Logan County Animal Control at 1515 N. Kickapoo, phone 735-3232.

Fees for animal adoption: dogs, $60/male, $65/female; cats, $35/male, $44/female. The fees include neutering and spaying.

Logan County Animal Control's hours of operation:

Sunday  Ė  closed

Monday  Ė  8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Tuesday  Ė  8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Wednesday  Ė  8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Thursday  Ė  8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Friday  Ė  8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Saturday  Ė  closed

Warden: Sheila Farmer
Assistant:  Michelle Mote
In-house veterinarian:  Dr. Lester Thompson

DOGS
Big to little, most these dogs will make wonderful lifelong companions when you take them home and provide solid, steady training, grooming and general care. Get educated about what you choose. If you give them the time and care they need, you will be rewarded with much more than you gave them. They are entertaining, fun, comforting, and will lift you up for days on end.

Be prepared to take the necessary time when you bring home a puppy, kitten, dog, cat or any other pet, and you will be blessed.

[Logan County Animal Control is thankful for pet supplies donated by individuals and Wal-Mart.]  

Molly, a very loving pit bull mix puppy,
is 3 months old.

There are three of these adorable puppies:  two brown and one black.  They are about 3 months old, very sweet and would make good farm dogs.

This female border collie is about 1 year old.
 
She is very sweet and would be a good farm dog.

This friendly black mix is 1 or 2 years old, with a
good disposition.  He would make a good farm dog.

Ten reasons to adopt a shelter dog

 1.  I'll bring out your playful side!

 2.  I'll lend an ear to your troubles.

 3.   I'll keep you fit and trim.

 4.   We'll look out for each other.

 5.   We'll sniff out fun together!

 6.   I'll keep you right on schedule.

 7.   I'll love you with all my heart.

 8.   We'll have a tail-waggin' good time!

 9.   We'll snuggle on a quiet evening.

10.   We'll be best friends always.

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CATS

[Logan County Animal Control is thankful for pet supplies donated by individuals and Wal-Mart.]  

In the cat section there are a number of wonderful cats to choose from. There are a variety of colors and sizes.

Purdy is a 1-year-old male Siamese-Himalayan mix, light orange and white. He is neutered, housebroken and good with kids.

Baby is a female, long-haired, gray calico.
 
She is 1 year old.

This female calico is good cat.
She is 1 year old and friendly.

Callie is a friendly, gray calico.
 
She is about 1 year old.

This gray and white cat is friendly
and would made a good farm cat.


Part 2

A taste of New England just off Route 66

It's maple sirup time at Funks Grove

By Penny Zimmerman-Wills

[MARCH 20, 2001]  Tucked amid a grove of towering timber just off a quiet stretch of old Route 66 near Bloomington sits a slice of New England. At the end of a curved dirt lane is a modest shingled home, a low-slung brown sap house spouting large clouds of steam, and rows and rows of trees with aluminum buckets attached to their trunks. Ancient gnarled oaks, slender saplings and majestic maples give the place an almost mystical feeling. A small red building with simple, black painted letters spelling out Funks Grove is nestled among the virgin timber and provides a wonderful burst of color in what is otherwise a sea of gray bark.

[click here for Part 1]

"Funks Grove is actually a township. There once was a town with a post office and a few businesses, but as Bloomington grew, the town dried up. Funks Grove now is a church, cemetery and a Sugar Grove Nature Center, which gives visitors a chance to see how the land once looked when settlers arrived," Mike Funk said.

The area once supported six syrup camps, but only his family has managed to stay in the business, Funk said.

The cold weather crop season only lasts four to six weeks, beginning in February and March, and during that time the Funks gather between 40,000 and 60,000 gallons of maple sugar from the stand of trees, which yields between 800 and 1,200 gallons of syrup.

The shop sells bottles and bottles of the stuff until they run out, which is usually about the
beginning of August.

The brown sap house is where the action takes place and where the watery substance
collected from the trees is turned into syrup. Customers flow in and out of the adjoining
gift shop, which offers light syrup and dark syrup, in jars and jugs and log-cabin cans. You can buy maple candy and maple cream or Funks Grove Honey. There are also nature books, cookbooks, T-shirts ("Just naturally sweet") and plenty of Route 66 memorabilia, plus the romance and children's novels written by Funk's sister.

Funk, who also has a part-time job and farms, said he usually takes a vacation from his other jobs during this time of year to manage the business.

 

Mother Nature can actually be given the credit for knowing when itís time to start the process. In the early spring, a freezing and thawing cycle is required to generate the flow of sap, according to Funk. A tree must be 40 years old and 10 inches in diameter to support one tap. Holes up to 2 inches deep are drilled into the trees with a power drill. Metal spouts are hammered into the trees and metal buckets are hung on the majority
of the 4,000 taps drilled annually. The rest are connected to a more modern pipeline tubing system. When warm thawing temperatures follow a hard freeze, the sap begins to run. Under ideal conditions, a 150-quart sap bucket can fill in 10 hours.

 

[to top of second column in this section]

Each crew member totes two five-gallon gathering pails and moves from tree to tree, pouring the sap from their buckets into the pails. When the pails are full, they are poured into a tank pulled through the woods by a tractor. The collected sap is stored in an underground cistern to keep it from getting too cold or warm.

The process of evaporation makes 50 gallons of sap become one gallon of syrup. The liquid is pumped from the cistern into the evaporation tank, which is a series of connected metal pans. As the level of sap in the pans decreases through the evaporation, more sap is metered into the pans by a flat device, and the temperature must be raised six degrees. After being drawn off the evaporation tank, the liquid is finished in the gas-fired finishing pan, where the liquid is raised another degree, pressure-filtered and then bottled while itís hot. The entire process from cistern to bottling tank can be done in less than three hours, according to Funk.

After dealing with sticky fingers several months of the year, how does Funk actually use the stuff? "Mostly in the traditional way, on pancakes and waffles, hot cereals or biscuits. Itís also good on ice cream," he said. And most customers donít hesitate to indulge despite a trend toward healthier, light eating these days.

"Itís a natural sugar, itís not processed sugar. You can use it in baking as a sugar replacement. We say thereís no fat, just all calories," Funk said with a smile.

When the buds on the maples begin to swell, it signals the end of the season. Buckets and
bags come down, spouts are pulled off and the camp receives a good spring cleaning. But
even after the sign at the end of the road says "Closed for the Season," customers still
wind their way up the wooded lane looking for a taste of New England.

[Penny Zimmerman-Wills]

 

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Part 1

A taste of New England just off Route 66

It's maple sirup time at Funks Grove

By Penny Zimmerman-Wills

[MARCH 19, 2001]  Tucked amid a grove of towering timber just off a quiet stretch of old Route 66 near Bloomington sits a slice of New England. At the end of a curved dirt lane is a modest shingled home, a low-slung brown sap house spouting large clouds of steam, and rows and rows of trees with aluminum buckets attached to their trunks. Ancient gnarled oaks, slender saplings and majestic maples give the place an almost mystical feeling. A small red building with simple, black painted letters spelling out Funks Grove is nestled among the virgin timber and provides a wonderful burst of color in what is otherwise a sea of gray bark.

The scene could easily be found in the eastern region of the country, but itís here at Funks Grove Sirup Camp ("sirup" with an "i" is the preferred spelling at Funks Grove). This tiny spot in central Illinois is where the Funk family has been making the sweet liquid since the early 1920s. On a recent sunny winter day, three bus loads of senior citizens and school children toured the site, and all seemed fascinated with how maple syrup is made. Young and old alike squealed with delight as they tested samples and eagerly purchased more to take home.

Mike and Debby Funk, who now operate the business, took turns giving tours of the operation and explaining the process from the beginning stages in the woods to the end result, which appears in glass bottles in the gift shop. Pure maple syrup is produced commercially at only a handful of places in the Midwest, which explains part of the appeal of the place. The other reason is that because of its location on a historic road itís often found by visitors who might not otherwise know about it.

"We get a lot of visitors from Route 66," Debby Funk said. "During the summer months we get groups on motorcycles or antique cars, doing the Route 66 trip from Chicago to California. Itís fun."

 

In fact, there are so many visitors from so many places, she keeps a world map in the gift shop and has customers mark the country or city where theyíre from. Some people, from as far away as Brazil, Australia, Africa, Japan and Germany, have drawn their home on the back of the map.

The business, which is listed on the Route 66 Hall of Fame and was designated a Registered Natural Landmark by the National Park Service, has become a common stop for many repeat customers who canít get enough of the sweet, sticky stuff.

"We start getting phone calls in January and people say they are running out of syrup and need more," Mike Funk said. "We still get people who remember we were here and always wanted to stop by. Once the nostalgia associated with Route 66 hit, people started traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles, and they stopped in out of curiosity."

I must admit, I was one of those people who had always noted the large billboard advertising Funks Grove while traveling north on I-55 but had never bothered to stop. Iím so glad I finally did, because the hospitality of the Funk family is as welcoming and soothing on a crisp winter day as the warm syrup they produce.

 

 

[to top of second column in this section]

The timber where the camp is located is actually owned by the trust fund of Hazel Funk Holmes, a nature-loving relative who intended a walk though the camp to be an educational experience. By the terms of her will, her woodlands will be preserved and maple syrup will continue to be produced at Funks Grove as long as its feasible, Funk said.

It all started when great-grandfather Isaac Funk, the pioneer founder of what was later known as Funks Grove, settled in 1824 in an area rich in maple trees and discovered the art of making maple syrup and maple sugar, which during that time was the only way to get readily available sweetener. Isaacís grandson Arthur opened the first commercial syrup camp at Funks Grove in 1891, selling the sweet stuff for $1 a gallon as a luxury item. Arthurís brother Lawrence later ran the operation and passed it on to his son, who is Mike Funkís father.

Mikeís father, Stephen, 76, and his mother, Glaida, 74, took over the camp in 1948. Although they officially retired about 12 years ago, theyíre still on hand most days, helping out at the business. Itís hard to get away, not only because they enjoy it but also because they live in the shingled house just yards away from the sap house and the center of activity. "Itís a part of their life, it always will be," Funk said.

 

Indeed, Funk has passed the family tradition on to his three children. His two daughters and son grew up helping out in the familyís seasonal business, and his daughters liked to make maple candy sold in the gift shop as a way to earn extra spending money.

It was made possible by Isaacís granddaughter Hazel, whose trust provides the forest and capital needed for producing syrup. She was also was the person who insisted "sirup" was the preferred spelling. Noting that the U.S. Agriculture Department uses the spelling, the Funks decided to stick with it out of respect for Holmes.

"Hazel Funk Holmes had 160 acres of timber that we operate on and also some farm ground. We also rent trees from other trusts, so there are probably 500 or 600 acres altogether," Funk said.

(To be continued)

 

[Penny Zimmerman-Wills]

[click here for Part 2]

It's Tax Time

Come see the tax professionals at

Meier Accounting

and Tax Service

Dale Meier, Enrolled Agent

519 Pulaski, Lincoln

217-735-2030

Tell a friend about

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111 S. Sangamon
217-735-1743

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Open for Dinner  Tues.-Sat.

Click here to view our
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Back to top


 

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