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Archive for the ‘The Other Half’ Category

Labor Day

A new analysis puts Illinois near the bottom of the hardest working states in the country.

The personal finance website WalletHub looked at more than 10 indicators from average work week hours to the share of workers with multiple jobs to determine the rankings. Illinois was ranked as the 43rd hardest-working state in the nation. Alaska and North Dakota took the top two spots as the hardest working states. New Mexico came in at No. 50.

Analyst Jill Gonzalez said workers in downstate Illinois likely helped the state’s ranking.

“That is where we see a leveling of the work week,” Gonzalez said. “In Chicago, we typically are seeing a shorter work week, and places where they are heavily relying on agriculture, we see a longer work week.”

Americans put in an average of 1,767 hours per year as of 2021, according to the World Economic Forum. That is 435 hours per year more than Germans work, but 357 fewer than Mexicans do.

Alaska has the longest hours worked per week at 42, which is 14% longer than in Utah, the state with the shortest week at 37 hours.

The category that pushed Illinois down in the rankings was the lowest annual volunteer hours per resident, in which Illinois ranked 47th in the country.

Read on here.

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Sunny Hill Elementary School

When Barrington School District 220 began welcoming students back into the classroom in October, nearly 90% of children who attend Hough Street School in the heart of the village arrived for in-person instruction.

Heading west past the horse farms and rolling fields of Barrington Hills, the district’s Sunny Hill School in Carpentersville also reopened. But only about 1 in 4 families at Sunny Hill — where 90% of students are economically disadvantaged — allowed their children to return to the classroom.

This tale of two schools — less than 8 miles apart, but a world away when it comes to parents’ reactions to the coronavirus — began a rocky new chapter this week, as District 220 joined a growing list of suburban Chicago schools that are pausing in-person instruction due to the record high rate of COVID-19 cases.

Now, many parents, particularly from middle- and upper-income communities in the Chicago area, are again demanding a reopening of schools, saying their children are suffering from social isolation and academic regression they believe pose a greater danger than the virus itself.

Yet as parents in more affluent communities like Elmhurst, Lincolnshire and Libertyville organize rallies in support of open schools, fears that in-person classes will increase the risks of coronavirus exposure to students and staff — and, by extension, to their families — are only growing, especially in lower-income and more racially diverse communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

That all of this is playing out during an economic crisis and perhaps one the most polarized presidential elections in U.S. history has only escalated tensions.

Read more here.

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Accomplished and highly educated yet surprisingly shy, Megan West found her voice on the journey to becoming a first-class amateur polo player.

Megan West says people are surprised to see her shy and humble demeanor melt away on the polo field where a bold, competitive spirit takes over. The sport does attract people with a competitive nature, but for West, playing polo is where she finds personal strength. “On the field someone’s got to take charge. I’ve learned that skill in a safe environment with people who are my friends. It’s a place where I’ve learned and practiced leadership skills,” she said.

When not on the field or in a barn, West leverages her doctorate in agricultural food chemistry for Mars Wrigley where she works on long-term research projects. “It’s basically a lab-based job,” she says of pre-COVID-19 times. A chemist by training, West works on projects such as product ingredient sourcing with consideration to sustainability.

Growing up in Glencoe, Illinois, West says hers was not a “horse family”. The earliest chance to ride was at summer camp in Minocqua, Wisconsin. “My first year at Red Pine Camp, I was eight years old and just one of those kids who wanted to take riding lessons,” West said. “I love the outdoors and the appeal of horses. I just gravitated towards them.” Riding at camp was a source of fun for West and her “barn rat” friends who helped take care of the horses there.

Read the full Quintessential Barrington feature story here.

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The Canadian National Railroad will be closing the track crossing on Main Street (Lake-Cook Road) just west of Lageschulte Street from 9:00 AM Monday August 24th through Friday August 28th to complete necessary crossing repairs. This closure will impact both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. A signed detour route will be in place during this closure.

In recent months, this crossing has been the cause of many flat tires and likely some bent rims, so this will be a welcome, minor inconvenience.

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Meghen Leckey’s daughter, Vivienne, takes a nap on the family’s private jet. The Leckey family purchased the plane four weeks ago to avoid flying on commercial planes during the pandemic.

With two young children, Meghan Leckey couldn’t fathom boarding a commercial airplane for her regular trips between homes in Chicago and South Florida during the coronavirus pandemic. Waiting in lines, wearing a mask, and constantly wiping down surfaces so her family can stay safe just didn’t seem feasible for the 37-year-old restaurant owner.

So four weeks ago, Leckey and her family, who ordinarily would fly first class, bought a private jet.

“The idea that everyone was sort of dreading it was really the motivation,” she said of flying on a commercial airplane. “In April, when we were in the epicenter of the pandemic, no one wanted to make the trek and do all the restrictions that were now imposed on us.”

Leckey, a frequent traveler who routinely spends $800-$1,200 per first class seat, had been chartering planes on and off for the past 10 years. Before that, her father owned a private jet for business, but he sold it when he sold his company. After spending a few months grounded with no end in sight for the coronavirus pandemic, Leckey said everyone in the family agreed: “It was time to get back to the private plane lifestyle.”

“We’re going to be in a pandemic for at least the foreseeable future,” she said. “This isn’t going to go away.”

Read more here.

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With generous terms and at a time of unprecedented panic as the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns crippled the economy, 202,157 Illinois employers received federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans.

From Atlas Financial Holdings — incorporated in the Cayman Islands with its “principal executive offices” in Schaumburg — to the Joffrey Ballet to Kivvit, the public affairs firm, to Motor Werks of Barrington, Inc., all kinds of Illinois companies, museums, schools, religious-based organizations and nonprofits took out the loans.

There was little incentive not to apply, since the loans don’t have to be repaid if used to meet payrolls, retain workers and cover some overhead. The loan amounts were based on the number of employees. Employers had to certify on the PPP application that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”

For loans under $150,000, the top ZIP codes in Illinois include 60010, around Barrington, with $43.7 million.

Automotive: $5 million to $10 million — Patrick Schaumburg Automobiles, 130 jobs; Motor Werks of Barrington, 346 workers.

Read more from the Sun*Times here.

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Private jet operations tick up at Chicago Executive, DuPage airports

Officials at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling started observing a bump in the jet traffic Tuesday. Co-owned by Prospect Heights and Wheeling, Chicago Executive is a top reliever for O’Hare International Airport.

“It makes perfect sense that people would want to stay away from the large crowds of the commercial service airports and use an airport like this with their private aircraft,” Executive Director Jamie Abbott said. “So, we think that (COVID-19) is the contributing factor.”

Jet Linx, which flies from Chicago Executive, is appealing to what the company says are commercial air travelers seeking a private solution to help safeguard their health while wanting mobility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

President and CEO Jamie Walker said in a statement Jet Linx just started a special 90-day membership that includes guaranteed hourly rates and access for individuals and companies “searching for peace of mind if they need to travel during this national emergency.”

Read more here.

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