This unprecedented time is challenging and there are those around us who have risen to the challenge the coronavirus pandemic has imposed, whether it is a health care worker or a neighbor. That is why the Effingham Daily News is seeking “Heroes Among Us,” a recognition given to people doing extraordinary things during the pandemic. In 700 words or less, tell us why the person is a Hero Among Us and submit it to news@effinghamdailynews.com. You may include a high-resolution jpg photo of the person in the environment in which they are going above and beyond or just a headshot. Include your name, phone number, as well as the phone number of the person you are submitting and please notify that person. The deadline for submissions if Friday, Sept. 11.

Capitol News Illinois reported this roseworthy news: “The American Lung Association on Wednesday announced a “comprehensive” plan to tackle electronic tobacco use by the nation’s high schoolers. Education, community advocacy and research are the main pillars of the association’s strategy and are methods used by tobacco opponents to curb traditional cigarette use among the age group. ‘As the school year resumes, more students may experience social pressure to vape, while others may begin to vape in response to stress, including stress related to COVID-19,’ Kristina Hamilton, the American Lung Association’s advocacy director, said in a written statement. ‘We’re already facing what the surgeon general refers to as a youth vaping epidemic.” A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found half of youth in the U.S. used an e-cigarette, vape pen or hookah in 2019. That trend of increasing electronic tobacco use is on par with Illinois high school student usage.

Thorns to the state of Illinois for being one of the last states to apply and be approved for a federal program providing an additional $300 in unemployment assistance per week to qualifying residents. According to Capitol News Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday he instructed the Illinois Department of Employment Security to submit an application “despite serious concerns about the unfairness” of the program. The Federal Emergency Management Agency certified that request on Tuesday. Funding for the Lost Wage Assistance Program was redirected by President Donald Trump from the agency’s disaster relief fund. That money is typically used to finance the federal government’s response to major domestic disasters, such as assisting hurricane survivors. Trump issued the order in July shortly after a measure creating $600 in added weekly benefits through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, Or CARES, Act expired. Up to $44 billion is available to states through Dec. 27, or until the funding runs out. Benefits can be retroactively paid to eligible Illinoisans, starting with the week ending Aug. 1.

Roses for a a Dieterich native who will be working a little closer to home as members of the Effingham City Council appointed him city engineer. EDN reporter Charles MIlls reported that Effingham’s new city engineer, Luke Thoele, grew up just north of Dieterich and graduated from Dieterich High School in 2004. Thoele said his father, Tony Thoele, and family are from the Teutopolis area and his mother, Sue Thoele, and family are from the Newton area. “First and foremost this is a family move,” Thoele said. Thoele went to Lake Land College for two years before getting his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois. After he graduated in 2008, he starting working for Strand Associates of Indiana before accepting a position with the Farnsworth Group in their Bloomington office from 2010 to 2016. Thoele started his public sector engineering career in 2016 for the City of Bloomington as assistant city engineer. Thoele said with the COVID-19 pandemic he was able to work remotely in the Effingham area. “Seeing the kids play with their cousins rekindled the idea of moving back,” Thoele said. Thoele will be moving back to the area with his wife, Julia, and four children, with one on the way, in October.

Effingham Daily News Editor Jeff Long can be reached at jeff.long@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 129.

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Editor

Graduated with a degree in journalism from UW-Madison in 1987. Reporter at a newspaper outside London, England. Then a reporter at papers in Pennsylvania and Virginia. For 13 years, a reporter and editor at the Chicago Tribune. Named EDN editor in 2014.