DeKALB – When U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, visited Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. in DeKalb on Tuesday, he didn’t stop by to sample whiskey or other spirits.
Instead, Kinzinger spoke of “the American spirit” and the importance of community while meeting with Whiskey Acres’ co-owners Jim Walter, Jamie Walter and Nick Nagele. Kinzinger thanked them for switching part of their facility’s production to making hand sanitizer during the pandemic.
Jamie Walter said that the reason Whiskey Acres first made hand sanitizer was to help the local community.
“That’s why we made that first batch of 175 gallons in-house and donated it all locally, because we wanted to help,” he said. Walter said that he then saw an opportunity to continue making hand sanitizer when “there was a dire need for it.”
Whiskey Acres staff filled, capped and labeled the hand sanitizer’s containers by hand. Walter described the all-female staff bottling hand sanitizer as “like a war effort.”
“They described the women of Whiskey Acres as the modern-day Rosie the Riveters, so they designed [a T-shirt] and donated the proceeds,” Walter said.
The first $1,500 of T-shirt proceeds was given to help provide food for healthcare workers during the pandemic and between $5,000 and $6,000 was donated to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
After making between 25,000 and 30,000 gallons of hand sanitizer over a six-week period, Whiskey Acres has returned to making spirits. Kinzinger praised Whiskey Acres’ efforts to help the community.
“I talk a lot about threats to the country, but truly, my biggest concern is not China, it’s not Russia, it’s not even terrorism, it’s internal division,” Kinzinger said. “Having division and having debates is good, that’s important, but I think we’ve gotten to the point where we see each other as the enemy and I think when you don’t see examples of a community coming together, and helping each other, regardless of political affiliation, that tends to be internalized. I think this just goes to show that the American spirit is still alive.”
On masks and school in the fall
Kinzinger also spoke on the topic of wearing a mask becoming a political issue, a topic that he thinks we “won’t get past until November,” when elections are held.
“I wore a mask in the war, it didn’t make me any less of a man or more oppressed or anything,” he said. “It’s just what I did. It also helped so I wasn’t inhaling a ton of dust all the time. It’s the same idea. A mask doesn’t protect you, it protects others from you.”
Kinzinger is up for re-election, and Dani Brzozowski, D-LaSalle, is his congressional opponent. Kinzinger spoke about the pandemic prohibiting him from meeting with his constituents. On Monday, Kinzinger traveled to Belvidere to visit Crusader Community Health and to Rockford to visit the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Community Market and Pride Aircraft.
He said he believes schools in the fall should be open to offering both e-learning and in-person classes.
“If we can do school in person for those that are willing to do it or want to or feel safe with it, great, because I think you’re going to see lower enrollment this year,” he said. “But if someone is physically susceptible to the virus or they don’t feel comfortable going to school, e-learning has made massive, massive leaps in the last six months, and to the extent that I think if we could have both options available, that’s good.”
He said he supports students wearing masks also.
“I think inside, around people, yes,” Kinzinger said. “Outside, if you want to, great, but I don’t think it’s required so long as you keep your distance. But follow health experts’ advice.”
Kinzinger said for parents who will also have to return to work in the fall, e-learning options will help ease the burden of childcare in a pandemic.
“In a situation like that, where there’s nobody to take care of a student, it’s probably better if they can go to school and to find a way to keep them safe.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle