Stark County Farm Bureau tours Chicago district

Group interacts with staff at a Coca-Cola bottling plant, learning about the recent Cook County "sugar" tax on soft drinks has made on the business.

Stark _county _farm _bureau _tours _chicago _district _1_636422952536348000

State Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, far right, and his staff hosted Stark County Farm Bureau President Jamie Schaffer Jr., center in plaid shirt, and a delegation from the county Farm Bureau for a tour of a solar energy farm and sites in his legislative district. (Photo by Kevin Semlow)

By Kevin Semlow

Stark County Farm Bureau members took an expedition on a beautiful fall day to visit their newly adopted legislator, state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago. Slaughter represents a diverse district that encompasses numerous neighborhoods and industrial/commercial developments, which are spotted with small shops, dissected by several railroad lines, busy streets and several interstate highways.

The visit was a great opportunity for Farm Bureau members to get to know Rep. Slaughter and see the constituents he represents.

The group visited the Great Lakes Coca-Cola Bottling & Manufacturing plant in Alsip. The facility provides products to the Chicagoland area. This plant bottles/cans more than 20 Coca-Cola products, such as Coke, Sprite and Barq’s root beer. During the group’s visit, four products were being bottled in the state-of-the-art, stainless steel processing system.

The farmers also saw how high-fructose corn syrup comes into the plant and gets used for many of the products bottled. The Farm Bureau group interacted with plant staff to learn what impact the recent Cook County “sugar” tax on soft drinks has made on the business. They learned the tax has resulted in a 30 percent decrease in demand in the Chicagoland market.

The visitors also had an opportunity to see a 41-acre solar farm in the district. The solar farm generates 10 megawatts of power, which ComEd uses to supply area residents and businesses with electricity during daylight hours.

Another stop was the 95th Street Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) transportation hub. That hub is the fourth-busiest station in Chicago and provides a hub between the CTA Red Line, 40 some bus routes and a connection point for Greyhound Bus service. The facility is going through a major expansion  without disruption to any of the services being provided – and is the starting point for the southern extension of the Red Line to the most southern part of the city.  

The group’s final stop was the Lowden Home facility of the Chicago Housing Authority. By visiting the 125-unit housing unit, the group was able to view community education facilities provided to not only facility residents, but also to the neighborhood. They toured a three-bedroom unit, which was being prepared for a new family.

Rep. Slaughter and his Stark County Farm Bureau visitors interacted throughout the day and saw firsthand the productivity of his Chicago 27th District. The visit also provided the representative, his constituents and the Farm Bureau group an opportunity to find commonalities on issues that impact them all. 

Kevin Semlow serves as Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation.

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