WBEZ | peoria http://www.wbez.org/tags/peoria Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A spooky tale in time for Halloween: weather cuts pumpkin crop http://www.wbez.org/news/spooky-tale-time-halloween-weather-cuts-pumpkin-crop-113284 <p><div><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pumpkins10115_patch_wide-b56fbd3bd58f81bf828910bbbde10254b959d1d1-s800-c85.jpg" title="The pumpkin patch at Waldoch Farm in Lino Lakes, Minn. (Kaomi Goetz/NPR)" /></div><div><p>It&#39;s pumpkin-selling season, and crowds are flocking to farms to pick out their own jack-o-lanterns. But this year, challenging weather conditions have cut the supply of pumpkins &mdash; both for carving and canning.</p><p>Heavy summer rains in parts of the Midwest and elsewhere have left many farmers short on pumpkins. And in California, drought has squeezed the crop.</p><p>All of that is also affecting canned puree makers, who consume about half of all pumpkins. Among those affected is Libby&#39;s, the largest U.S. producer of canned pumpkins. Libby&#39;s fills its cans with pumpkins that come mostly from Illinois, America&#39;s leading pumpkin producer.</p><p>Roz O&#39;Hearn, a spokesperson for Libby&#39;s parent company, Nestle USA, says that rainy weather in Illinois cut the crop by half compared with 2014.</p><p>&quot;We think there&#39;s enough pumpkin to carry us through Thanksgiving,&quot; O&#39;Hearn says. &quot;But we generally plant enough pumpkin so we have a cushion to carry us into the next year. And it doesn&#39;t look like that cushion is going to be there this year.&quot;</p><p>O&#39;Hearn says she doesn&#39;t expect that lack of a cushion to affect prices this fall.</p><p>Pumpkins are a $145 million industry, according to statistics from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. That&#39;s a small amount compared to other produce. But demand for pumpkins is rising &mdash; production is up nearly 30 percent over five years.</p><p>O&#39;Hearn says there should be enough supply to fill our pumpkin pies through Thanksgiving &mdash; but after that, she says, there&#39;s going to be a shortage until the next harvest.</p><div id="res447240537" previewtitle="Kevin Coppinger took his nearly 3-year-old daughter, Mae, to choose a pumpkin at Waldoch Farm. The farm added a corn maze about five years ago. Owner Doug Joyer says adding such attractions has allowed him to live solely off income from the farm."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Kevin Coppinger took his nearly 3-year-old daughter, Mae, to choose a pumpkin at Waldoch Farm. The farm added a corn maze about five years ago. Owner Doug Joyer says adding such attractions has allowed him to live solely off income from the farm." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/09/pumpkins10115_coppinger2_custom-b96b6ff65934b9520270cfbad752d772568affe0-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 445px; width: 600px;" title="Kevin Coppinger took his nearly 3-year-old daughter, Mae, to choose a pumpkin at Waldoch Farm. The farm added a corn maze about five years ago. Owner Doug Joyer says adding such attractions has allowed him to live solely off income from the farm. (Kaomi Goetz/NPR)" /></div><div><p>Increasingly, some pumpkin growers are navigating shortages by selling not just pumpkins but family fun &mdash; with attractions like corn mazes and petting zoos.</p></div></div><p>For instance, at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.waldochfarm.com/html/waldoch_history.php">Waldoch Farm</a>, a Minnesota farm just north of the Twin Cities, admission starts at $10. Add a hot cider and a hot dog, and a family of four could end up dropping $50 or more.</p><p>Doug Joyer of Waldoch Farm is a fourth-generation farmer, but the first in his family to rely solely on the farm for income. He says he added a corn maze five years ago by popular request.</p><p>&quot;People called us asking if we did a corn maze,&quot; Joyer says. &quot;They kind of assumed we had a corn maze if we had a pumpkin patch.&quot;</p><p>Joyer&#39;s farm sells decorative and small-pie pumpkins, which are also experiencing a shortage &mdash; though it&#39;s not as severe as the one facing pumpkins used for processing.</p><p><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulhugunin">Paul Hugunin</a>, a marketing manager with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, has watched farm culture for the past 27 years. He says this addition of entertainment is how a lot of pumpkin farms are staying profitable even when the harvest is light.</p><p>&quot;The biggest change we see with pumpkins is not so much the number of farms growing them or the number of pumpkins they&#39;re raising,&quot; Hugunin says. &quot;It&#39;s what goes along with that.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/12/447200324/a-spooky-tale-in-time-for-halloween-weather-cuts-into-pumpkin-crop?ft=nprml&amp;f=447200324" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 10:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/spooky-tale-time-halloween-weather-cuts-pumpkin-crop-113284 As commodity prices slide, layoffs and restructuring follow http://www.wbez.org/news/commodity-prices-slide-layoffs-and-restructuring-follow-113159 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_880892989250.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="Tractors and equipment made by Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc. are seen in Clinton, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)" /></div><p>In recent days, we&#39;ve seen these headlines:</p><ul><li>Caterpillar is planning to cut up to 10,000 jobs.</li><li>After standing for 127 years as an industrial giant, Alcoa will be splitting into two smaller companies.</li><li>Glencore, a global mining giant, is seeing its stock price crumble amid insolvency rumors.</li></ul><p>The three events may seem unrelated, but in fact, all are part of one big story: the commodities-price collapse.</p><p>All over the world, producers of raw materials sold in bulk, such as oil, copper, aluminum and zinc, have been tumbling in value. For most of us, these price changes may have seemed unimportant, or maybe even good. Cheap commodities have helped hold down consumer price inflation this past year.</p><p>But now, the reverberations from the commodities plunge are being felt by more and more Americans. This is no longer a story about miner layoffs in remote parts of South Africa or Australia. Now it&#39;s about middle-class jobs disappearing from Peoria as sales of mining equipment dry up.</p><p>Last week,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/24/us-caterpillar-layoffs-idUSKCN0RO1I820150924">Caterpillar said</a>&nbsp;it plans to lay off up to 10,000 workers, with a &quot;significant&quot; number of those cuts coming in Illinois. The company says that with equipment orders evaporating, 2016 will &quot;mark the first time in Caterpillar&#39;s 90-year history that sales and revenues have decreased four years in a row.&quot;</p><p>And at Alcoa &mdash; short for the Aluminum Company of America &mdash; a divorce is coming. The company,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/about_alcoa/history/home.asp">founded in 1888</a>&nbsp;in Pittsburgh, announced it will split into two separate businesses next year.</p><p>The old part of Alcoa will chug along with its traditional bauxite-mining, alumina-refining and aluminum-production businesses. The other part will escape the commodity end of the industry to become a &quot;value added&quot; maker of engineered products.</p><p>And then there&#39;s Glencore. The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.glencore.com/">Swiss company</a>&nbsp;has a huge trading division that buys and sells commodities, and another arm that mines those materials, such as copper, zinc and coal. And the company, which has about $30 billion in debt, has lost roughly three-quarters of its stock value this year.</p><p>Perhaps more than any other company, Glencore provides a disturbing look at what happens when soaring expectations combine with low-interest loans to create high risks.</p><p>Five years ago, Glencore could see China buying up commodities at a torrid pace. China needed raw materials for construction of office buildings, roads, manufacturing plants and more. So it wanted to buy lots of zinc.</p><p>Zinc is a silvery-white metal used to coat iron and steel to block rust. It&#39;s also used to make brass, rubber and semiconductors. In fact, it&#39;s the world&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://geology.com/usgs/uses-of-zinc">fourth-most-consumed metal</a>&nbsp;&mdash; after iron, aluminum and copper.</p><p>So Glencore&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mining.com/glencore-xstrata-mcarthur-river-mine-expansion-plan-approved-39488">mined zinc</a>&nbsp;feverishly and bet heavily on its rising value. And it borrowed a lot for expansions.</p><p>At the time, that all made perfect sense. Zinc prices were up, and interest rates were down at rock bottom. Expanding the business seemed like a brilliant idea.</p><p>But now that China&#39;s growth is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/08/27/435113583/china-s-economic-slowdown-further-hurts-depressed-commodity-prices">dramatically cooling</a>, so is demand for zinc. Prices have fallen about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/18/zinc-glencore-inventories-idUSL5N11O1AV20150918">30 percent</a>&nbsp;just since May. Investors wonder how Glencore is going to repay all of its debt now that revenues are falling.</p><p>This Glencore saga explains why the Federal Reserve&#39;s decisions on interest rates are so important. The central bank had slashed interest rates during the Great Recession to encourage companies to borrow for expansions. And it worked.</p><p>But for commodity companies, it worked too well; many borrowed heavily to splurge on dramatic expansions. Now they are faced with the consequences of this exuberance.</p><p>So critics can say that the Fed helped create this mess by keeping rates too low for too long.</p><p>But at this point, raising rates could make it even tougher for producers of commodities &mdash; whether miners, drillers or farmers &mdash; to refinance their debts, making it all the more difficult for them to hang on.</p><p>This is why investors and analysts, zinc miners and wheat farmers, hang on every word from the Fed.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/30/444531514/as-commodity-prices-slide-layoffs-and-restructurings-follow?ft=nprml&amp;f=444531514" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/commodity-prices-slide-layoffs-and-restructuring-follow-113159 Where was Rep. Aaron Schock at 25? http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rep-aaron-schock-25-107295 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP080205045166.jpg" style="float: right; height: 278px; width: 350px;" title="Rep. Aaron Schock in 2008. (AP/File)" />At 31, (soon-to-turn 32 in late May), Congressman Aaron Schock is the youngest participant of the Year 25 series.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a designation he&rsquo;s pretty used to. He was once the youngest Illinois state representative and school board president&mdash;at the same time.</p><p>At 25, Schock lived in an old house that was supposed to be condemned by the city of Peoria, Illinois.</p><p>But Schock bought it and flipped it himself when he finished college.</p><p>He was also a few years into his stint as an Illinois state rep, but that was only a part-time gig. Most of his days were spent in the private sector, working in real estate.</p><p>Schock says he had no idea as a 25-year-old that he&rsquo;d live most of his days in Washington as a federal lawmaker. But as he told WBEZ&rsquo;s Lauren Chooljian, he&rsquo;s pleased with how things have turned out so far.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is&rsquo; WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p><p><strong>More from this series</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25-0/year-25-dan-savage-105358" target="_blank">Dan Savage</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-senator-dick-durbin-25-107104" target="_blank">Sen. Dick Durbin</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rick-bayless-25-106967" target="_blank">Rick Bayless</a></p></p> Tue, 21 May 2013 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rep-aaron-schock-25-107295 GOP Rep. Aaron Schock considering run for governor http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-rep-aaron-schock-considering-run-governor-105128 <p><p>Republican Congressman Aaron Schock of Peoria says he&#39;s considering a run for Illinois governor.</p><p>Schock <a href="http://bit.ly/11UjNmZ" target="_blank">tells</a> WMAQ-TV in Chicago that he hopes other GOP hopefuls will step aside. Schock says &quot;the less bloodletting, the better.&quot;</p><p>The 31-year-old Peoria congressman and former state representative says he knows he can&#39;t &quot;tell them not to run.&quot; But Schock says other candidates from his party who have run before are wasting their time.</p><p>He says his age won&#39;t be a factor in whether he runs for governor.</p><p>Schock was first elected to Congress in 2009.</p><p>Other Republican candidates who have shown interest in the Illinois governor&#39;s race include state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard.</p><p>The next general election for Illinois governor is in November 2014.</p></p> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 14:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-rep-aaron-schock-considering-run-governor-105128 Former Peoria mayor, Jim Maloof, dies at 93 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-peoria-mayor-jim-maloof-dies-93-105044 <p><p><a href="http://bit.ly/SqMdB3">Jim Maloof, the former mayor of Peoria, Ill. died Sunday, the Peoria Journal-Star reports</a>.&nbsp;A family friend who answered the phone at the family&#39;s home confirmed the former mayor&#39;s death to The Associated Press.</p><p>Maloof served as Peoria&#39;s mayor from 1985 to 1997. A Peoria native, he&#39;s remembered as a business leader and chairman of the board of St. Jude Children&#39;s Research Hospital Midwest Affiliate, Methodist Medical Center.</p><p>Maloof biographer Doug Love says meeting entertainer Danny Thomas was a pivotal moment in Maloof&#39;s life. Thomas founded St. Jude&#39;s Children&#39;s Research Hospital.</p><p>Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce President Roberta Parks says Maloof was often called &quot;the cheerleading mayor&quot; because of his efforts to boost Peoria&#39;s economy and bring back a sense of pride among its residents.</p></p> Mon, 21 Jan 2013 11:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-peoria-mayor-jim-maloof-dies-93-105044 Unemployment in Illinois metro areas fell in September http://www.wbez.org/story/decatur/unemployment-illinois-metro-areas-fell-september <p><p>Unemployment numbers in Illinois metropolitan areas fell in September according to a report from the state's department of employment security.<br /><br />Unemployment fell in every metro area in the state for the first time since 2007. Greg Rivara is the spokesman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security. &quot;Certainly each individual will decide when recovery is going to actually be felt in their household. But when we look at the numbers, the numbers show us that were better off than we were one year ago, we're better off than we were two years ago,&quot;&nbsp;Rivara said.</p><p>The metro areas with the largest declines in unemployment include Peoria, Decatur and Metro East.</p></p> Thu, 28 Oct 2010 21:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/decatur/unemployment-illinois-metro-areas-fell-september