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Partnership News
March 14, 2014
Our Mission:
Rural Partners is a member-driven forum that links individuals, businesses, organizations and communities with public and private resources to maximize the potential of rural Illinois.

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Elected to the Rural Partners Board of Directors
March 5, 2014
Karen Bersche
Director of Towanda Library

Brenda Matherly
Illinois Farm Bureau

Chris Merrett
Western Illinois University

Bryan Smith
Township Officials of Illinois

Matt Johnson
Illinois Telecommunications Association

Christina Rogers
Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Bill Steichmann
East Central Illinois Development Corporation
Elected as Officers:
Chris Merrett
Western Illinois University

Executive Vice-Chair:
Blanche Shoup
Workforce Investment Office of Western Illinois

Jerry Townsend
Retired, USDA Rural Development

Assistant Treasurer:
Carol Jo Fritts
First Neighbor Bank, N.A.

Karen Bersche
Director of Towanda Library

Assistant Secretary:
Anne H. Silvis
University of Illinois Extension

Ex Officio Chair:
Matt Johnson
Illinois Telecommunications Association
USDA Research in Peoria Yields New Uses for Grain

Here's the scoop: A U.S. Department of Agriculture research team has shown that cat litter made with spent grains left over from ethanol production might offer a more environmentally friendly product than non-biodegradable litters. USDA plant physiologist Steven F. Vaughn and colleagues in the department's Agricultural Research Service in Peoria tested dried distiller's grains, or DDGs, to create a litter that's nearly 100 percent biodegradable. The grains they used were left over from production of corn ethanol; such grains currently are marketed for use as cattle feed. The research team treated the grains with glycerol to minimize dust when the litter is poured or pawed, guar gum to promote clumping when the litter gets wet, and a small amount of copper sulfate for odor control.
High Housing Costs

When low-income households pay high rent, there’s not much left to spend on food, health care and other necessities each month. Steep housing costs pose a major burden in some areas, with expenses consuming more than half of what households take in. The National Housing Conference (NHC) published a report examining the nation’s housing affordability, finding that 18.1 million households in 2012 were “severely cost-burdened,” meaning more than half of their income went toward housing expenses. The report offers a bit of positive news: After years of steady growth, the share of working households considered severely cost-burdened dipped slightly from 23.7% in 2011 to 22.1% in 2012. (The report considers “working households” to be those where residents work at least 20 hours a week and income does not exceed 120% of area median income.) In Illinois, there are 1,901,771working households, of which 418,366 are spending more than half of household income on housing. In 2012 in Illinois, 22% of working households spent more than half of household income on housing costs; a decrease from the 2009 level of 23.5%.
Wolves Changed the River
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. The wolves have affected not just the surrounding living ecosystems, but the physical geography of the land itself. George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.

Household Water Use

What common household fixture sucks up the most water – the shower, the toilet, or the washing machine? If you're having trouble with this question, don't worry, you're in good company. Most Americans are ignorant of the true water needs of their household activities. At least that's the conclusion of Indiana University researcher Shahzeen Attari, who recently asked more than a thousand people to estimate how many gallons of water it takes to sprinkle the lawn, flush the toilet, fill the bathtub, and other common at-home water uses. Throughout the experiment, Americans showed a tendency to undervalue water consumption, on average guessing low by a full factor of two.

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Statements of opinion in this newsletter are not necessarily endorsed by Rural Partners.