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Local News

YMCA's Strong Kids Campaign Kicking Off in April

It's the most important campaign of the year for one area agency.
 
That is how Executive Director Rennie Cluver describes the annual YMCA's Strong Kids Campaign. In mid-April, the non-profit DeWitt County agency will begin their yearly drive which helps support the programming they put on all year round.
 
 
Around $100-thousand is the annual goal for the Strong Kids Campaign at the Clinton YMCA. Cluver says last year they fell short of their goal. He feels some of the reasoning could be due to the uncertainty of the power plant, but he says they are thankful Exelon is going to remain in the community, as they are a huge supporter of the YMCA.
 
 
Cluver indicates the $100-thousand they strive for each year isn't even all of what they give back in programming scholarships. He indicates they subsidize around $135-thousand each year.
 
 
The Strong Kids Campaign is set to open April 19 and Cluver says if you have donated in the past, plan on receiving a phone call from the YMCA for their annual Strong Kids campaign. 
 
He also says they'll be reaching out to area businesses in hopes of rallying support and reaching their $100-thousand goal again.
 
To donate to this year's campaign, contact the Clinton YMCA at 217-935-8307. 

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Trump Cuts Hit Home For Area Agency

Local leaders are still trying to digest the proposed cuts made by President Donald Trump after his budget proposal hit home for on area agency.
 
Last week on Regional Radio News, we outlined what the President's proposed cuts and what they would likely mean for Community Action's most popular program LIHEAP. But Community Action Executive Director, Alison Rumler-Gomez calls the cuts to their CSBG program disheartening because that program is at the heart of their mission.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez believes other Community Action agencies don't necessarily do things the way the local agency does. She explains that could be a reason the program is on the chopping block.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez indicates the Foster Grandparents program was one program she was very surprised to see come up for cuts. Like their CSBG program, the foster grandparents program is very different from other programs in other Community Action agencies. 
 
We'll have more on that later this week on Regional Radio News. 

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Blue Ridge Schools Making Conference Switch

Blue Ridge High School will be leaving the Heart of Illinois Conference and heading to the Little Okaw Valley Conference in 2018-19.
 
The Blue Ridge Board of Education decided on the switch last week and Superintendent Susan Wilson says the Little Okaw should be a better fit as Heart of Illinois schools have seen plenty of growth in recent years.
 
 
Wilson notes they will likely end up in the northwest division for every sport but but football, where they will likely end up in the southeast divsion of the Little Okaw Valley conference. She points out travel for football will be less and travel for other sports will be comparable to what they do now. 
 
 
According to Wilson, the switch about being competitive in all sports but it is also about finding a conference with schools that are similar in size to them.
 
 
The switch to the Little Okaw Valley Conference came on very quickly for the distirct, so in order to get information out and clear up questions for the community and parents, there will be an informational meeting on April 12 at 7 pm at Blue Ridge High School. 
 
Wilson encourages anyone to attend and bring any questions or concerns they may have.

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Seaton Teen Having Big Year in Livestock Shows

A Seaton, Illinois teenager continues to rack up wins on the livestock show circuit. 
 
Dalton Line and “Wacky Wade” picked up their latest Grand Champion Steer honors this past weekend at the Western Illinois University Hoof & Horn Jackpot Show. Line started the year by winning the Illinois Beef Expo in February. 
 
 
Also this year, Line and “Wacky Wade” have Grand Champion Steer wins at the ISU Redbird Challenge and University of Illinois Spring Showdown as well as the AGR Spring Showdown and Steers and Stripes Classic in Sedalia, Missouri.

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Governor Pushing Passage of CPS Pension Reform Deal

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS URGING DEMOCRATS TO GET ON BOARD WITH A STATE AND CITY OF CHICAGO PENSION REFORM DEAL. 
 
THE PLAN OFFERS NEW PENSION OPTIONS FOR STATE, SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES, AS WELL AS LAWMAKERS. IT ALSO INCLUDES A ONE TIME PAYMENT OF 215 MILLION DOLLARS TO CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR TEACHER PENSIONS SAYS GOVERNOR RAUNER.
 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS SEVERAL HOUSE REPUBLICANS WILL SUPPORT THE PROPOSAL AND WANTS DEMOCRATS TO DO THE SAME.
 
 
SENATE DEMOCRATS AND CHICAGO LEADERS HAVE EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT THIS IS ONLY A TEMPORARILY SOLUTION FOR CHICAGO SCHOOLS. SEVERAL HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE PLEDGED TO PUT VOTES ON THE PACKAGE AND RAUNER IS URGING DEMOCRATS TO AGREE AS WELL.

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Cubs, Cardinals Rivalry Exhibit Opening At Abrahal Lincoln Presidential Library

A NEW EXHIBIT FEATURING THE LONG-STANDING RIVALRY BETWEEN THE CHICAGO CUBS AND THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS OPENED FRIDAY AT THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM IN SPRINGFIELD.
 
THE EXHIBIT INCLUDES RARE ARTIFACTS FROM BOTH TEAMS, AND HIGHLIGHTS BIG MOMENTS OVER THE YEARS. ILLINOIS STATE HISTORIAN SAM WHEELER SAYS THAT INCLUDES AN OLD CUBS LEASE DOCUMENT.
 
 
THERE’S TRIVIA, A DETAILED TIMELINE OF BOTH FRANCHISES AND SEVERAL RARE ITEMS ON DISPLAY. WHEELER SAYS THAT INCLUDES A PIECE OF HISTORY FROM “STAN THE MAN” WHEN HE RETURNED TO THE CARDS AFTER SERVING IN THE NAVY DURING WORLD WAR TWO.
 
THERE IS ALSO AN INTERACTIVE DISPLAY WHERE YOU CAN LOOK UP ANY AREA IN THE COUNTRY AND SEE WHICH TEAMS FANS ARE ROOTING FOR. THE EXHIBIT RUNS THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR.

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Health Care Vote Canceled Despite Support from Rodney Davis

In a press conference yesterday addressing the health care vote, Representative Rodney Davis expressed that he felt the GOP bill had been thoroughly negotiated and was a good replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
 
He stated that if the government does nothing, the state of Illinois will suffer financially.
 
 
Senator Dick Durbin has been critical of the bill, while Davis calls the system that Durbin supports a "collapsing" one.
 
 
Despite Davis' feelings, the bill was pulled and the vote canceled by Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, after the bill failed to garner enough support from both sides of the aisle. CBSnews.com reported, "The health care vote has now been called off, after Republican leaders and the White House tried and failed to win sufficient support for the GOP legislation to undo Obamacare."

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Boys and Girls Club Fighting For Funding

The Boys and Girls Club around Illinois say a critical program may be cut if President Donald Trump’s proposed budget moves forward. 
 
The budget item – the 21st Century Community Learning Centers – provides Illinois about $52 million a year in funding and a portion goes to the Boys and Girls Clubs sites that are located inside of schools.
 
Central Illinois Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Bill Legee says if those locations go away student performance will suffer.
 
 
The sites, located often located in schools, focus on having certified tutors to help students with afterschool homework, they provide a snack for the kids and a safe environment for them to be in while they often wait for a parent to come home from work. 

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Clinton Student Among Recipients for Farm Credit Ag Scholarship

The recipients of nearly $50,000 of scholarships to high school seniors throughout central and southern Illinois pursuing agriculture-related majors and future careers were announced last week by Farm Credit Illinois. FCI awarded 24 high school seniors a $2,000 agriculture scholarship; two are designated as Urban Agriculture Scholars.
 
Clinton High School Senior Riley Donelson will graduate and attend Illinois Central College to study agricultural communications to work in communications for the livestock industry. 
 
Her parents are Phil and Tanya Donelson.
 
Sara Edgar of Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School in Ford County will graduate and attend Colorado State University to study agricultural business. She plans to work as an agricultural lawyer specializing in trade and policy. 
 
Her parents are Scott Edgar of Gibson City and Stacy Deaton of St. Louis, Mo.
 
Maddie Fugate of Mahomet-Seymour High School will graduate and attend Lake Land College to study agricultural communications and animal sciences. 
 
She plans to be a lobbyist on Capitol Hill before running for political office. 
 
Her parents are Eric and Julie Fugate.
 
Samy Mackey will graduate from Centennial High School and attend Parkland College to study agricultural and biological engineering with plans to improve world-wide food production systems. 
 
His parents are Andre Kabeya Mackey and Patricia Museba Mackey. 
 
Mackey is an Urban Agriculture Scholar.
 
This is the fourteenth year of the Farm Credit agriculture scholarship program which has awarded more than $340,000 to 299 students since 2004. Scholarship selections are based on a combination of academic achievement, participation and leadership in school and community organizations, and the applicant’s commitment to an agricultural career.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a cold, wet week but a warm wet weekend is in store. State Climotologist Jim Angel has the details.
 

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Legendary Kentucky Coach Has Illinois Ties

One of college basketball’s most legendary coaches has Illinois roots. Adolph Rupp coached for over 40 years at the University of Kentucky. 
 
His job before that—teacher and coach at a small high school in Stephenson County in Northern Illinois says Sports Director Brian Reusch at WCCI radio in in Savanna, Illinois.
 
 
Rupp, a Kansas native, heard about the Kentucky opening through the University of Illinois basketball coach, who spoke at the Freeport basketball banquet in 1930. 
 
Before Freeport, Rupp coached wrestling at small town Marshalltown, Iowa. 

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National Kidney Month

MARCH IS NATIONAL KIDNEY MONTH AND AN EXPERT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION HAS SOME TIPS FOR PREVENTING KIDNEY STONES.
 
KIDNEY STONES ARE PEBBLE-LIKE MINERAL DEPOSITS THAT CAN CAUSE QUITE A BIT OF PAIN UNTIL THEY PASS. THE BIGGEST RISK FACTOR FOR DEVELOPING THEM IS BEING DEHYDRATED SAYS U OF I EXTENSION NUTRITION AND WELLNESS EDUCATOR LISA PETERSON. SHE RECOMMENDS DRINKING 12 TO 16 CUPS OF FLUIDS A DAY…PREFERABLY WATER.
 
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PETERSON SAYS REDUCING YOUR SALT INTAKE CAN ALSO HELP…AND RECOMMENDS NOT EATING TOO MUCH OF FOODS WITH HIGH LEVELS OF OXALATES. THAT INCLUDES PEANUTS, RHUBARB, SWEET POTATOES, CHOCOLATE AND SOY PRODUCTS.
 
PETERSON SAYS TOO MUCH SODIUM IN YOUR DIET CAN ALSO LEAD TO KIDNEY STONES.

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Clinton Legion Women's Auxilary Hosting Chili Fundraiser For Veterans Group

The Clinton Legion Womens Auxiliary will be hosting a special fundraiser this weekend for a group aimed at helping veterans.
 
Hooah Deer Hunt for Heroes is a group that aims to help veterans transition back into civilian life once they return home from active duty. Jeff Gaither with the group explains veterans return home and just need a support network and they try to help them with that.
 
 
Gaither indicates without the massive support of volunteers and donors, the effort and expansion of the group would not be possible. He says they have found a lot of backing for what they are trying to do.
 
 
This Saturday, the Legion Womens Auxiliary is hosting a chili soup and sandwich and fundraiser for the Hooah Deer Hunt For Heroes. Jean Rogers says it will be at the American Legion Hall from 5 pm to 8 pm.
 
 
To learn more about Hooah Deer Hunt For Heroes, visit hooahdeerhuntforheroes.com and find them on Facebook. 

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New Otter Pups at the Miller Park Zoo

There are some new additions at the Miller Park Zoo. 
 
Two female North American River Otter pups were born at the zoo on February 25th. According to Superintendent Jay Tetzloff, the otter pups can be viewed on camera at the zoo. It'll be around another month before the pups go on exhibit.
 
 
The pups will be at the zoo for about a year before they are moved to a different breeding program in North America, but before that can happen, they have to be taught how to swim.
 
 
This is the third litter in the past 4 years for the Miller Park Zoo. 

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Illinois Unemployment Down in February

THE ILLINOIS UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPPED SLIGHTLY LAST MONTH. 
 
THE STATE JOBLESS RATE FOR FEBRUARY WAS FIVE POINT FOUR PERCENT…DOWN FROM FIVE POINT SEVEN IN JANUARY. THERE WAS ALSO SOME NICE JOB GROWTH SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH.
 
 
GOUGH (goff) SAYS MORE THAN 25 THOUSAND JOBS WERE ADDED LAST MONTH, BRINGING EMPLOYMENT LEVELS TO THE HIGHEST SEEN SINCE 2000.
 
 
AREAS WITH THE MOST JOB GROWTH LAST MONTH WERE CONSTRUCTION AND THE EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH SERVICES SECTOR.
 
THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR FEBRUARY CAME IN AT FOUR POINT SEVEN PERCENT.

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Illinois Hospitals Get Victory in Supreme Court

A sigh of relief for a number of Illinois hospitals. 
 
The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld a 2012 state law helping not-for-profit hospitals to maintain millions of dollars' worth of property tax exemptions. 
 
The High Court overturned a lower court ruling from last year that declared the law unconstitutional. 
 
With the unanimous vote, the seven justices did not rule on the constitutionality of the law but simply said the 4th District Appellate Court.

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Durbin Blasts Trump's Cuts To Medical Research

Senator Dick Durbin continues to be an advocate for medical research. 
 
In that regard, he went on the warpath with President Trump's proposed cut to biomedical research.
 
 
Durbin says short term cuts have long term consequences.
 
 
Durbin says groundbreaking medical research gives hope to patients with long term health battles.

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Duckworth Attacks Trump Over Veteran Healthcare Claims

Senator Tammy Duckworth, a combat veteran herself, took on President Trump Thursday, claiming he was trying to impose what amounts to a tax hike on millions of Veterans’ healthcare. 
 
Duckworth says an eleventh hour amendment made to the Republican healthcare repeal plan would make Veterans ineligible for health care tax credits that could help them afford private health insurance. Duckworth believes the President is breaking a promise to vets on the healthcare front.
 
 
Duckworth says the change could make health care more expensive, or even out of reach, for millions of Veterans who are either ineligible for coverage in the VA Health Care system.

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Department of Ag, Farm Bureau Discuss Closing of Galesburg Lab

Illinois Department of Agriculture officials discussed the Galesburg Animal Disease Laboratory closing this week with board members of Illinois Farm Bureau. The lab will stop accepting samples this Wednesday.
 
Illinois Farm Bureau President Rich Guebert says the Galesburg facility was fairly unique in its location.
 
 
Guebert added that there are already a limited number of scientists nationally who are qualified for such work.
 
Some of the equipment will be transferred to the University of Illinois. U of I Vet Med staff has been accredited for some testing and is working toward further approvals. Guebert says this closing, which follows the closing of the similar Centralia facility in 2012, is concerning.
 
 
Illinois Ag Director Raymond Poe told Farm Bureau board members that the Galesburg lab closing was not on account of the state’s budget crisis.
 

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Archery State Competition This Weekend

Over 1,000 youth from 38 Illinois schools will be going for a state title in archery this weekend. 
 
The competition is called the National Archery in the Schools Program Illinois State Tournament. Students compete in three divisions—Elementary, Middle School and High School says Ed Cross with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
 
 
The state competition is this Friday and Saturday at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield. 
 
The winners move on to the national competition in Louisville in May. 
 
The archery state tournament was first offered in 2012 with 400 participants. The event now features 1,120 competitors this year. 

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Local Business Leaders Hear About Planned Entrepeneurship Program

Local leaders gathered at the Clinton Country Club Thursday morning to hear about a planned program to get youth in the high school in business.
 
The DeWitt County Development Council hosted Cheryl Mitchell (right) from the Midland Institute CEO Program. The program, Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, started in Effingham and is in 28 communities. Mitchell stresses it is a rural based program.
 
 
Mitchell explains there is an exodus of youth in rural America because of the lack of opportunity. She says the CEO program is doing things the right way to help our communities to continue to evolve.
 
 
According to Mitchell, the CEO program introduces youth to businesses and the opportunities in them. It also brings communities together.
 
 
To make the program work, the program calls upon the community to take on students and work with them. There will be a Board of nine to 11 people that would be a working board in what are all a part of what she calls 'stakeholders'.
 
 
Mitchell encouraged local leaders to visit classrooms and trade shows schools are hosting. 
 
She adds they create students who are learners, owners, they give them experiences, teach them communication skills and about networking. She says if the community does not start this process now, it could be 2019 before the program could be up and running, though the hope is to get it going for the 2018 school year.
 
If you're a business owner and would like to learn more about becoming involved, contact Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles for more details at 217-935-8321. 

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YMCA's Camp Osage Registration Starting Later This Year

While the summer months for area students seems like still a while away, registration for a local non-profit's summer programming is not.
 
Clinton YMCA's Camp Osage is a huge hit among youth in DeWitt County and for parents and registration is right around the corner. Executive Director of the Clinton Y, Rennie Cluver indicates he's already fielding questions about Camp Osage registration.
 
 
According to Cluver, Camp Osage is a full day experience for their youth. He indicates they try to take kids to Weldon Springs for activities and this year they hope to add field trips and trips to community parks.
 
 
In recent years, Cluver has tried to add to camp for kids with an artistic side or for kids who want to spend some time reading. He indicates they have done a lot to get youth involved in those things.
 
 
Cluver indicates if you visit their website, clintoncommymca.org, and are in search of information, you likely won't find it yet. He indicates they will be sending out Camp Osage information with youth in school. 

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National Brain Tumor Society Nature Walk

The 2nd Annual National Brain Tumor Society Nature Walk is coming up on July 15th at Weldon Springs.
 
In honor of her mother, Lauren Johnson was determined to raise awareness through this event and formally brought the society to the Midwest.
 
 
Despite the intense heat last year, people from all over the Midwest attended the walk at Weldon Springs, banning together to fight all types of brain cancer.
 
 
Planning for this year's walk is well underway, as is fund raising for the event.
 
 
To get more information about the walk, visit their page on Facebook, 2nd Annual National Brain Tumor Society Nature Walk or to learn more about brain tumors, got to braintumor.org.

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Local Beef Association Sends Hay To West For Wildfires

Wild fires across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas have devastated thousands of acres of ranch land recently, and a local group has joined the nationwide relief effort.
 
NAFB Farm Broadcaster, Jared White, has more....
 

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Western Illinois School of Ag Hosting Open House This Weekend

The Western Illinois University School of Agriculture hosting an open house for prospective students this week. 
 
The Director--Dr. Andrew Baker says the school offers a strong pathway to many different ag careers. 
 
 
The open house is this Friday starting at 9 a.m. You can register on-line at wiu.edu and typing “School of Agriculture” in the search box. 
 
Two $250 scholarships will be awarded at the event. 

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Rauner Quiet on Health Care Stance

A number of Republican governors have come out against the new plan for federal healthcare up for a vote in Congress. But don’t count Bruce Rauner among them. 
 
Changes that D.C. Republicans want include block granting Medicaid. Rauner’s withholding strong public criticism for now, instead saying he’s having a number of private conversations about the change and the impact to Illinois.
 
 
Rauner says any transition to the new system needs to be done carefully to avoid hurting people’s lives if they will be losing Medicaid coverage. 

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Dunlap Republican Defends Gov. Rauner's Education Task Force

State Senator Chuck Weaver applauds the work of Governor Bruce Rauner’s Education Funding Task Force. 
 
Although critics say the group stopped short of reaching a clear-cut solution, the Dunlap Republican says the task force’s report provides a great starting point for lawmakers.
 
 
Weaver believes a bill can be passed as a result of the task force’s work. 

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FFA Proficiency Awards This Weekend

FFA members throughout Illinois will be participating in this weekend’s FFA State Proficiency Awards competition. 
 
Nathan Flickinger of Rockridge High School was a District FFA winner earlier this month in the Fiber/Oil Crops category and hopes to win the statewide honor.
 
 
The competition is Saturday at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. 

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Bustos Opposes New Health Care Plan

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos expressing her opposition to the GOP replacement for Obamacare. 
 
She spoke on the House Floor yesterday.
 
 
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expected to vote either today or tonight on the plan. 
 
President Trump strongly supports the bill, which is facing opposition from some moderate and conservative Republicans. 

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Clinton School Board To Investigate Building Trades Program

The Clinton School Board's attempts to sell the former Washington Elementary School property were recently unsuccessful, and so now it could become the site of a program for students to learn building trades.
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles informed the Board of Education at their monthly meeting Tuesday night they did not receive any bids in their attempts to sell the property. 
 
Board of Education member Rodney Rodgers says the site is a perfect spot for about four lots to build houses, and created a program for students of the district.
 
 
Nettles indicates there are several avenues that could be pursued as a part of something like this. He explains the district does send students to the Bloomington Area Career Center for a similar program.
 
 
According to Nettles, the district could sell the homes they build and use the money for furthering the program, though there will be some restrictions on it.
 
He does note, this will be a new venture for him in his experience in education.
 
Also at the Tuesday night Board of Education meeting:
 
>>The Board approved district compensation and contracts for the upcoming school year. A couple board members voted against the contracts siting poor timing.
 
>>The District approved an endowment of $200-thousand to the district to be handed over to the Clinton Community Educational Foundation for scholarships. 

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Trump Budget Cuts Could Hurt LIHEAP Program

President Donald Trump's proposed budget reductions could have huge ramifications for an area non-profit.
 
Last week, President Trump released his budget for the nation and it will have local impacts. Executive Director of Community Action, Alison Rumler-Gomez indicates their energy assistance program, LIHEAP, could be in jeopardy if the Trump administration has their way.
 
 
According to Rumler-Gomez, it is likely the budget will see some changes going forward, but she does see the vision President Trump has even though it would cost people in her agency their jobs.
 
 
With energy prices continuing to drop and a likely de-regulation coming, Rumler-Gomez says the need for help in paying for energy is likely to decrease as well.
 
 
President Trump's budget proposal could also negatively impact the agency's CSGB program, which is the core of what Community Action is - fighting anti-poverty. It would also great impact their foster grandparents program. 
 
Rumler-Gomez calls the CSGB cuts very disheartening. 
 
We'll have more on the cuts to those programs next week on Regional Radio News. 

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Mendoza Offers Comedic Take on Feud With Rauner

Comptroller Susana Mendoza's war of words with Governor Bruce Rauner took a new turn as she addressed the City Club of Chicago. She turned to comedy to deliver her first jab.
 
 
But Mendoza says the latest numbers racked up last week on the state's bill backlog are no laughing matter....
 
 
Mendoza maintained Rauner is prepared for the state to collapse financially if he doesn't get his way on the budget and has begun squirreling away hundreds of millions of dollars in 'special funds' to protect his political back. 
 
Rauner's office says Mendoza has been cutting spending on programs for the elderly since she took office in December.

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Local Service Providers Hurting From Budget Stalemate

Local service providers feeling the sting of the ongoing state budget stalemate. Downstate’s Mercer County Family Crisis Center has a limited budget, but is currently owed more than $100,000 from the state says the agency’s Marla Reynolds.
 
 
The center offers services to child abuse and domestic violence victims. Last week, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced the state’s bill backlog hit a record high of $12.8 billion. 

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Legislation Would Excempt Sales Tax on Farm Machinery Repairs

A state lawmaker wants to amend Illinois’ sales tax act as it relates replacement parts for farm machinery—already exempt from the state sales tax. 
 
State Representative Norine Hammond of Macomb says her legislation involves “goodwill repairs”.
 
 
House Bill 505 has been introduced in the House Revenue and Finance Committee. 

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Illinois Good Place For Wine Industry

Illinois continues to be a good location for the wine industry. John Mital (mee-tall) has a family operation just south of Quad Cities, called Creekside Vineyards & Winery.
 
 
Mital adds they travel to farmers markets during spring and summer. 
 
 
Creekside’s Preemption location has been in operation for three years.

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Durbin Questions Gorsuch on Company Provided Health Care

The Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch endured hours of grilling by members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee today. 
 
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin grilled Gorsuch on a decision that protected companies, including Hobby Lobby, who didn’t want to make birth control part of their employee health plan. 
 
 
Gorsuch is up for 3 more days of questioning and testimony about his qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice. 

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Governor Announces New State Cybersecurity Plan

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS UNVEILING A NEW CYBERSECURITY PLAN FOR THE STATE OF ILLINOIS. 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS THE STATE IS BEHIND THE TIMES WHEN IT COMES TO TECHNOLOGY AND SECURITY, AND NOTES THAT ONE OF THE BIGGEST RISKS RIGHT NOW IS CYBER ATTACKS.
 
 
THE PLAN INCLUDES MODERNIZING THE STATE’S COMPUTER INFRASTRUCTURE, AND DEFENDING AGAINST THE VERY REAL THREAT OF CYBER ATTACKS SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY’S KIRK LONBOM.
 
 
LONBOM SAYS THEY WILL BE WORKING TO PREVENT ATTACKS AND RAISE AWARENESS AMONG END USERS ON WHAT THEY CAN DO TO KEEP INFORMATION SECURE.
 
COMPTROLLER SUSANA MENDOZA IS CRITICIZING STATE MONEY BEING SPENT ON THIS WHEN OTHER BILLS AREN'T BEING PAID, BUT GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS CYBERSECURITY NEEDS TO BE A PRIORITY EVEN IN TOUGH FISCAL TIMES.

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DNR Continues To Offer Hunter Education Safety Courses

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources continues to offer hunter education safety courses throughout the state. 
 
Allen Henshaw of Keithsburg has served as a certified IDNR instructor for 40 years.
 
 
A 1996 state law requires that all hunters born on or after January 1, 1980 successfully complete the course before they can receive their first hunting license. 
 
You can find the location of a hunter safety education course near you by checking the IDNR website.
 

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Local Leaders, Businesses Celebrate Ag Day

Tuesday was Ag Day and local leaders took the opportunity to promote agriculture in the community through different avenues during a WHOW live broadcast.
 
President of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau, Tom Hieronymous says agriculture has changed greatly since he started farming with his father over 40 years ago. He believes technology has helped make farming more efficient.
 
 
Manager of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau, Janel Baum-Thomas, says Ag Day was a great opportunity to promote what the Farm Bureau is all about. She explains Farm Bureau is something different to everyone, but at the root of their efforts, they are a grass-roots organization.
 
 
According to Baum-Thomas, the issues at a local level are taken up and then advocated for at a state and even federal level to help maintain the interests of the farmer.
 
 
Memberships to the Farm Bureau are open to anyone, whether you are involved in agriculture directly or not. Country Financial Representative Stephan York explains you have to have a Farm Bureau Membership to get Country insurance.
 
 
Evergreen FS took Ag Day to promote their sustainability programs where they are partnering with local FFA Chapters. Travis Deppe with Evergreen FS indicates they are reaching out helping youth understand what it is to be an agronomist.
 
 
If you missed WHOW's Ag Day broadcast, hear the highlights on the morning and noon farm show in the coming weeks.

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'Read Across Clinton' Program Expanding

A program aimed at ensuring at-risk Clinton youth have the opportunity to read over the summer continues to be more successful than organizers ever imagined.
 
"Read Across Clinton" is entering its third year of existence.  Mary Diener, Principal of Clinton Elementary School, explains the program was the idea of Reading Specialists at CES.  She says the initial goal was to provide a few books each summer to Clinton students that were identified as "at-risk."
 
 
According to Diener, "Read Across Clinton" has been so well-received that students enrolled in the program will now get to choose numerous books to take home for the summer.  Several grants, as well as funding from the Clinton Community Education Foundation, has allowed the program to grow exponentially.  Diener says giving these students a chance to read material they're interested in over the summer months has a major impact in their education.
 
 
Barbara Gullone, President of CCEF, says their group immediately saw the benefits of "Read Across Clinton."  She notes they initially supported it via their teacher grants, however this year the Foundation has taken it on as a special project to increase community support.
 
 
Organizers of "Read Across Clinton" are always looking for new or gently used elementary level books to be distributed in the program.  To make a donation, or learn more, contact Clinton Elementary School.

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Illinois Lotto Introduces New MS Ticket

THE ILLINOIS LOTTERY IS LAUNCHING A NEW VERSION OF THE POPULAR M-S PROJECT INSTANT TICKET. 
 
IT COSTS JUST THREE BUCKS TO PLAY AND HAS A TOP PRIZE OF 50 THOUSAND DOLLARS. BUT THE BEST PART SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NIRAV SHAH, IS THAT ALL THE PROCEEDS GO TOWARDS RESEARCHING THE DISEASE.
 
 
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR EVELYN SANGUINETTI HAS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AND SAYS SINCE TAKING OFFICE, SHE CONSIDERS HERSELF AN M-S WARRIOR.
 
 
THE M-S PROJECT TICKET HAS RAISED MORE THAN EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS SINCE 2008.

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Federal Judge Dismisses Iowa Water Lawsuit

A federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit from Des Moines Water Works, which was seeking damages from drainage districts in northern counties for nitrate loads in the Raccoon River. The federal judge upheld an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that the matter should be resolved through its state legislature.
 
While the ruling is viewed as a victory for farmers in and beyond Iowa, nitrate loads and water quality will continue to be points of discussion. Lauren Lurkins is director of environmental and natural resources for Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
Jean Payne, president of Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, echoes those remarks, saying farmers must continue to keep their nutrients for the crops and prevent them from leaving their fields.
 
 
Groups like the Illinois Nutrient Research Education Council are conducting research to provide farmers practical ways to make environmental improvements without losing production and incurring significant costs.

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Durbin Lays Groundwork For Questions in Gorsuch Hearings

Senator Dick Durbin plans to ask Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch about his independence from the White House if his nomination is confirmed.
 
 
Durbin says being in lockstep with Trump would be bad for the high court....
 
 
Durbin is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

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Biss in For Run For Governor

Another Democrat is up for running for Governor. 
 
State Senator Daniel Biss announced today that he’s a candidate, calling his campaign one “for the rest of us.” Biss made the announcement on Facebook Live and then took questions. He says that the state needs to break free from the way it’s been run for years.
 
 
The Biss diss could be seen as referencing not only Governor Bruce Rauner and Speaker Mike Madigan but also wealthy Democrat candidate Chris Kennedy and JB Pritzker who’s thinking about running for Governor. 
 
The Republican party wasted no time in calling Biss the North Shore branch of the Madigan Machine.

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City Council Plans Discussion With Area Homeowners Over Apple n' Pork Trash Costs

If you are a resident in the Center Street area of Clinton, the cost of trash for vendors on your lot is the topic of discussion for an upcoming meeting you'll be invited to attend.
 
At the last Clinton City Council meeting, Streets and Public Improvements Commissioner Nan Crang brought forth the discussion of what to do about the cost of trash cleanup for vendors along Center Street during the two day Apple n' Pork Festival.
 
The Council put that discussion off until Monday night when the consensus among Council members seemed to be the cost should fall on the homeowners with vendors on their property.
 
 
Several non-profit groups and local youth take the opportunity to set up and sell basic items that don't generate big amounts of garbage. Commissioner John Wise says those groups aren't the issue. He wants to see something done about the vendors using hot oils and big cardboard boxes.
 
 
Commissioner Crang wants to see the homeowner take on the cost because of their relationship with the vendor on their property. Mayor Roger Cyrulik sees that as an opportunity for the homeowner to want to use receptacles available but Crang just wants the streets to look the way they were before the event starts.
 
 
City Administrator Tim Followell explains this is something the homeowners in the area should already be aware of and the cost already should fall on them for the cleanup of the trash for vendors on their property, but the rules are not getting followed.
 
 
According Followell, the City attempted to contract with HRC in recent years to take the cardboard that seems to be the overwhelming problem, however, no one would take it. He is not sure there is a business that would be willing to come and take the cardboard for recycling either.
 
Contrary to Followell's opinion, Crang does not believe it is getting too late to inform the homeowners of Center Street of potential changes. She directed Followell and his staff to send out letters to the appropriate residents with an invitation for the next City Council meeting, April 3, to discuss the issue at hand. 

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UPDATED: Pedestrian Killed in Accident in Clinton Monday Morning

An accident early Monday morning claimed the life of a Clinton man.
 
At approximately 6:40 a.m. Monday morning, Clinton Police & Fire Departments, Dewitt County Sheriff’s Department and Dewitt County EMS were dispatched to the intersection of Illinois Rt 54 at East Washington Street for the report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. 
 
Responding units later confirmed that a pedestrian was walking westbound across Illinois Rt 54 at the intersection of East Washington Street when he was struck by a Westbound Illinois Rt 54 traveling car. 
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers identified the pedestrian as 85-year old William H. Towns of Clinton. He was transported to Warner Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. 
 
 
The accident investigation has been turned over to the Illinois State Police and the Dewitt County Coroner's Office.
 
No other information was released. 

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CSI DeWitt County Coming To Warner Library This Week

Have you ever wondered just how realistic those CSI dramas are on TV?  Well if so, then a program later this week at Clinton's Warner Library is right up your alley.
 
Illinois State Police trooper, Tim LeMasters, is presenting "CSI: DeWitt County" Thursday at the library.  Adult Services Librarian Bobbi Perryman says the program will give those in attendance a better idea of what really goes into the investigation of crime scenes.
 
 
As with all programs hosted by the Warner Library, it is free to attend.  "CSI: DeWitt County" takes place Thursday evening from 6 to 7:30 at the library.  To learn more, call 935-5174.

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Senator Rose Honors Clinton Students

Several Clinton students were honored last week at the Illinois Capitol.
 
State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) honored the Clinton M-Squad at the Capitol on March 15th on the Senate Floor. After Rose’s announcement in the Senate Chamber, Rose and the 1A Varsity Dance State Champions from Clinton H.S. and the Clinton Junior High State Champion Dance Team took pictures inside the rotunda area. 
 
In addition, Senator Rose hosted students from Clinton H.S. and Clinton Jr. High School at the Statehouse on March 16th. Rose introduced the students on the Senate floor and to other Senators, and he also showed them around the capitol. 
 

 

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Lincoln Landmark Set Reopen This Spring

A landmark in Lincoln is set to open up once again this spring, this time as a museum thanks to a grant opportunity. 
 
Geoff Ladd is the Director of Route 66 Scenic Byway organization and explains thanks to a number of different organizations, The Mill in Lincoln is going to be able to open back up this spring. He notes it will be a museum with the theme of Route 66 history.
 
 
According to Ladd, The Mill has a rich history with some names that have a lot of national recognition.
 
 
Recently, Congress announced the establishment of a Route 66 100th Anniversary Commission and additionally, established Route 66 as a National Historic Trail. 
 
Congressmen Darin LaHood and Rodney Davis were instrumental in the two pieces of legislation passing. 

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Mother Nature Impacting Spring Events Already

When a spring sport or event for a school district gets postponed, many might think rescheduling should not be that much effort.
 
That's actually not the case as an early spring snow fell on central Illinois last week forcing the postponement of almost an entire week of spring activities across the area, most notably the first week of the baseball and softball seasons in Illinois. Mike Williams, Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools indicates when scheduled activities like that have to get made up, it can become a challenge for their transportation staff.
 
 
Williams indicates the weather patterns to start this spring sports season were unique. He explains they saw warm days in February and then the season's are set to open and there was snow on the ground.
 
 
Another challenge a district like Maroa-Forsyth faces is coordinating with students in other districts that are part of their co-op.
 
He credits the transportation staff in the district and feels other area districts understand the challenge at the same time. 

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U Of I Aims To Keep Kids In State

THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS IS PROPOSING A FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE DESIGNED TO KEEP STUDENTS AT ILLINOIS SCHOOLS. 
 
THE U OF I’S “INVEST IN ILLINOISANS” PLAN WOULD PROVIDE 170 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR IN AID TO UNDERGRADS AND HOPEFULLY STEM THE TIDE OF KIDS HEADING TO OTHER STATES. U OF I PRESIDENT TIM KILLEEN SAYS IN 2015…45 PERCENT OF HIGH SCHOOL GRADS PLANNED TO GO TO AN OUT OF STATE SCHOOL.
 
 
THE "TRIPLE I" PROPOSAL IS A FIVE YEAR, 850 MILLION DOLLAR FINANCIAL AID PROGRAM. IT’S SUPPORTED BY REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ZALEWSKI OF RIVERSIDE WHO SAYS WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE KIDS TO STAY IN-STATE.
 
 
THE PLAN IS PART OF A LARGER PROPOSAL PENDING IN THE LEGISLATURE THAT GUARANTEES UNIVERSITY FUNDING IF CERTAIN PERFORMANCE STANDARDS ARE MET AT THE U OF I.

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NOMINATING PETITIONS AVAILABLE FOR ILLINOIS COMMODITY BOARD SEATS

Farmers who would like to run for a three-year-term on the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB), the Illinois Soybean Program Operating Board (ISPOB), or the Illinois Sheep and Wool Marketing Board (ISWMB) can now start circulating nomination petitions.
 
Petitions are available through the commodity organizations and at the Illinois Department of Agriculture in Springfield.  The deadline to complete and return these petitions is May 15th for the Corn Marketing Board and Soybean Program Operating Board candidates, and May 31st for the Sheep and Wool Marketing Board candidates.
 
The local seats up for election include:  District 7 on the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, which includes Woodford, McLean, Dewitt, Macon, Piatt, and Moultrie counties; and District 9 on the Illinois Soybean Program Operating Board, which includes Mason, Logan, Cass, Menard, Morgan, and Sangamon counties.
 
To be eligible, each candidate must be at least 18 years old, have produced and marketed the
pertinent commodity, reside in the district to be represented, and have submitted a valid petition by the filing deadline.
 
Elections for both boards will be held on July 6, 2017. Ballots can be cast at your local county extension office. 
 
For more information, visit www.agr.state.il.us.

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Nominations Open For Farm Mom of the Year

Nominations for the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year are now open. By nominating your favorite farm mom, she could win money for the farm and the community. 
 
The five regional winners will receive $3,000 for personal use, and $2,000 to donate to their favorite local charity. A panel of judges from American Agri-Women will review nominations and help Monsanto select five regional winners. The public will vote for the national farm mom of the year who will receive an additional $2,000 to donate to their local charity. This is the eighth year for the program. Monsanto’s Tracy Mueller says it’s all about celebrating amazing women in agriculture...
 
 
Mueller says the nomination forms can be found online…
 
                 
 
Mueller says if you have nominated you farm mom before, keep trying…
 
                           
Nominations must be submitted before March 31st, 2017. To make a nomination, visit AmericasFarmers.com and submit an entry online.

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Unemployment Up In Metro Areas

THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE IN MOST ILLINOIS METRO AREAS OVER THE PAST YEAR. 
 
MORE THAN HALF OF ILLINOIS METRO AREAS SAW AN INCREASE IN THE JOBLESS RATE FROM JANUARY OF 2016 TO JANUARY OF 2017. STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH (goff) SAYS THE REMAINING AREAS SAW SLIGHT DROPS.
 
 
NINE METRO AREAS INCLUDING SPRINGFIELD, DANVILLE, ELGIN AND BLOOMINGTON SAW JOBLESS RATES INCREASE FROM JANUARY 2016 TO JANUARY OF 2017 SAYS GOUGH (goff).
 
 
ROCKFORD SUFFERED THE BIGGEST JUMP…TO MORE THAN 11 PERCENT IN JANUARY, ALTHOUGH GOUGH ATTRIBUTES THAT TO THE SHUT DOWN OF THE FIAT CHRYSLER PLANT. 
 
THE CHICAGO AREA, ELGIN AND NAPERVILLE FARED THE BEST…WITH A POINT SEVEN PERCENT DROP IN UNEMPLOYMENT. JUST FIVE OF THE 14 METRO AREAS SAW OVER THE YEAR JOB GROWTH.

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i-74 Work Starting in April in DeWitt County

Interstate 74 in DeWitt County is slated for some work next moth.
 
The Illinois Department of Transportation announces that work is scheduled to begin Monday, April 3 on Interstate 74 from the Farmer City interchange to the DeWitt / Piatt County line (mile markers 156-160.)
 
The work will include bridge deck repairs and new bridge deck overlays on two structures in DeWitt County, and is expected to be completed by the end of July, weather permitting.
 
During construction, one lane of traffic will be maintained on all routes involved. There is a posted lane width restriction of 11 feet, 9 inches.
The contractor for the $4,500,548 project is Sangamo Construction Company.
 
Officials remind motorists to please slow down and use extreme caution while driving through all work zones.

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GOP Pushing for Rediscrticting

State Representative Tim Butler is among a chorus of House Republicans seeking to change the way Illinois political maps are drawn. 
 
He is co-sponsoring a House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment to create an Independent Redistricting Commission. 
 
 
The proposal calls for the selection of Commissioners and establishes the authority of a Special Commissioner to design a redistricting plan in the event that the Commission fails to properly adopt and file a redistricting plan. 
 
The measure would be effective beginning with redistricting in 2021 and applies to members elected in 2022 and thereafter.

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IL Gets Good News On Credit Rating

Illinois has good news when it comes to its credit rating. S&P Global Ratings has issued The Illinois Funds investment pool a AAA-m credit rating, the highest mark available. State Treasurer Michael Frerichs says the rating reflects his office's approach to investing taxpayer dollars. Frerichs said “The rating shows our success at balancing the access and availability of funds while receiving a strong return on investment for this type of product.” The Illinois Funds is a local government investment pool that invests dollars from local units of government such as counties, municipalities, and school districts. Investing together generates rates of return typically not available if participants invested alone.

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Cops On The Lookout This Weekend

The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations started last week and will continue this weekend. Local police are taking notice. 
 
The Illinois Department of Transportation says that enforcement efforts surrounding drunken driving will be ramped up again this weekend. 
 
 
Last year 4 deaths statewide were connected to drinking and driving around St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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Rauner Urges Action On Pension Reform

Governor Rauner is urging lawmakers to take swift action on pension reform legislation. 
 
State Senators Jill Tracy and Michael Connelly have moved to separate the issue from previous Grand Bargain discussions, where pension reform was debated along with multiple budget bills. Rauner released a video message via Facebook that also called for lawmakers to approve $215 million dollars to help Chicago Public Schools with teacher pension costs. The pension proposal recently came within four votes of passage.

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Illinois House Considering Transgender Bill

 
THE ILLINOIS HOUSE IS CONSIDERING A BILL TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR TRANSGENDER RESIDENTS TO UPDATE THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATES.  
 
THE MEASURE WOULD HELP PEOPLE LIKE MAYA ZIMMERMAN, A TRANSGENDER WOMAN WHO SAYS SHE CAN’T AFFORD REASSIGNMENT SURGERY.
 
CURRENTLY…IF A PERSON HAS GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY, THEY CAN OFFICIALLY CHANGE THEIR SEX ON THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATE. THIS LEGISLATION ALLOWS THOSE WHO ARE TRANSGENDER DO THE SAME. REPRESENTATIVE GREG HARRIS OF CHICAGO SAYS THIS IS AN IMPORTANT UPDATE.
 
 
CRITICS CALL THE CHANGE GOVERNMENT FRAUD.

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Next Weldon Springs Foundation Meeting Set

The Weldon Springs Foundation will hold its spring meeting on Friday April 7th, 2017, in the parlor of the Clinton United Methodist Church.  The social will begin at 6:00 p.m., and the meeting at 6:30.  Please bring a plate of finger food to share.  
 
  The purpose of the Foundation is to support Weldon Springs State Park and the public is cordially invited to join the meeting.  Come hear what is happening at the park and how you can contribute.
 
Again, that meeting is set for Friday, April 7th, at 6pm at the Clinton United Methodist Church.

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AT&T Backing Bills in General Assembly

AT&T is backing two bills in the Illinois General Assembly that the Citizen's Utility Board is against. 
 
Senate Bill 1381 and House Bill 2691 would kill traditional home phone service in Illinois, according to a spokesman with the utility watchdog, who says AT&T wants to force customers to use computer-based or wireless substitutes. Jim Chilsen, of the Citizens Utility Board, says there are millions of both residential and business landline customers across the state.
 
 
Chilsen adds this proposal comes back to lawmakers in Illinois every couple of years.
 
 
People who live in rural areas with spotty cell phone coverage could be affected, with their landline service made either unavailable, or the price going up. The phone industry says there are many options now, including landline service from the unregulated cable TV providers. 
 

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Senator Biss Ponders Governor Run

State Senator Daniel Biss is one of the most talked about names among potential Democratic candidates for Governor, but Biss isn't doing much of the talking. Despite a recent poll that put him well ahead of potential contenders to face Bruce Rauner next year, Biss doesn't sound ready to jump in just yet....
 
 
 
 
The Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association online straw poll saw 25 percent of respondents surveyed supporting Biss. The closest potential competitor was Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, who received 15 percent of the poll votes 

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Congressman Poses National Pi Day

An Illinois scientist-turned-congressman wants to designate March 14 as National Pi Day. That's "Pi,' as in the number - not the dessert.
 
Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville introduced a resolution Wednesday in the U.S. House to make the date - which some people recognize by eating a slice of pie - more official.
 
The former physicist says "Pi Day is more than just a good excuse to eat pie."
 
Foster's resolution encourages educators to observe Pi Day by engaging students in "fun activities that explore the exciting side to math" and science. He says it may get students interested in becoming the next generation of physicists, engineers and mathematicians.
 
The number Pi - which starts with 3.14 - is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

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Lincoln New Salem Looking for Volunteers

PETERSBURG, Ill. – Lincoln’s New Salem is offering everyone a chance to help bring the Abraham Lincoln story to life by volunteering, whether it’s wearing period clothing, staffing the Visitor Center or helping with special events.
 
Several opportunities to find out more about becoming a volunteer at the historic site are coming up soon. Potential volunteers can attend any one of the sessions.
 
They’ll be held in Springfield at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s main office (313 South Sixth Street) on March 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. and again on April 2 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
 
Sessions will also be held at the site itself on March 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. and on April 1 from 1:30 to 3:30pm.
 
The information sessions will explore volunteer opportunities at the site as well as expectations and benefits. Registration is encouraged, but not required.
 
Anyone who wants to proceed with becoming a volunteer will be required to attend a training series in April at the site. Volunteers can choose between attending three Thursday evenings (April 6, 13 and 20 from 6 to 9 p.m.) or two Saturdays (April 8 and 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
 
For more information, visit www.lincolnsnewsalem.com and look for the “volunteering” tab.
 

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Urbana Woman Sentenced To 15 Years

An Urbana woman is being put behind bars for 15 years after she was sentenced to prison.
 
Reports indicate that 44-year-old Aretha L. Baughman was arrested this week in Champaign County after a probation officer learned she was wanted on a 2002 warrant.
 
Baughman had been arrested on drug charges in 2000 and placed on probation as part of a plea bargain. After she violated her probation she was ordered to return to court for resentencing in October 2002. When she didn't show up, a judge sentenced her to six years in prison and issued a warrant for her arrest.
 
A probation officer who accompanied sheriff's deputies on a call to Baughman's home for a possible domestic dispute discovered there was a warrant for Baughman's arrest.

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New Lincoln Police Department Moving Forward

Plans are moving forward for a new police facility in Lincoln.
 
Discussion about the need for a new police facility in Lincoln has been ongoing.  Mayor Marti Neitzel indicates preliminary work continues as the city plans to re-purpose the old Jefferson school building on 5th Street on the city's southwest side.  She says the building is in relatively good shape, and architects are currently formulating plans on how to best utilize the structure for the police department. 
 
 
Mayor Neitzel sees the project as a win-win.  She notes the police department will get a basically new building with some much needed extra space, while the cost of re-purposing the old school will be half of what a new building would cost.
 
 
Currently, the Lincoln Police Department is housed in the same building as the Logan County Sheriff's Department.  Neitzel points out that this new department will provide city officers with nearly ten times the space, and at the same time free up space for the Sheriff's Department.
 
 
The total price tag for the new Lincoln Police Department is expected to be between 2.5 and 3-million dollars, but again it has not yet been put out to bid.  Officials hope the project can be completed in 2018.

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Clinton Fire Fighters Hosting Open House Saturday

If you've ever wondered what the inside of a fire station looks like or wanted an up close look at a firefighters equipment, Saturday in Clinton is your opportunity.
 
Clinton Fire officials will be hosting an open house Saturday with chili and safety demonstrations and information.
 
 
That was Jeff Hoke and Jason Karr with the Clinton Fire Department. They indicate it's been several years since they've welcomed the community into their facility.  They feel this is just another way for the Department to continue to be interactive with the public they serve.
 
Again the open house is Saturday, March 18 at the Clinton Fire Station from 11 am to 3 pm. 

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Special Meeting Scheduled for Leaders Interested in Mentoring Future Clinton Business Leaders

The next generation of business leaders are in need of mentors and a local business development group is looking to you to help in that effort.
 
If you own your own business or would be interested in mentoring the next generation with an entrepreneurial spirit, the DeWitt County Development Council is hoping you'll attend a special meeting about how you can do just that. Marian Brisard, Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, explains there will be a buffet breakfast the morning of March 23 at the Clinton Country Club.
 
 
Brisard indicates seating is limited so reserve your place at the event by contacting the Chamber at 217-935-3364.
 
Check in is at 7:15 am with the speaker to address the group at 7:30 am. 

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RCC To Host Campus Visit Nights Next Week

Students interested in pursuing an education at Richland Community College in Decatur are invited to attend some special events on campus next week.
 
Rob Kerr is the Registrar and Director of Advising & Registration Services at RCC.  He explains that they are hosting a series of special tours three nights next week, with each night dedicated to specific programs.  The first event is Monday night.  Kerr says it's aimed at those prospective students interested in pursuing a career in the Health Professions programs offered at Richland.
 
 
On Tuesday night, RCC will host a Career Programs Night.  Kerr notes those programs would include everything from horticulture to mechanics, and a host of other programs.
 
 
Finally, on Thursday night, Richland will host a Transfer Programs Night.  Kerr says it will give those students planning to move on to a four year university a wide range of knowledge on how RCC can prepare you for that transition.
 
 
Each of the programs begins at 5:30 on their respective night.  To find out more about next week's events at Richland Community College, visit richland.edu/visit.  Registration for the summer and fall 2017 semesters at RCC opens on April 3rd for returning students, and on April 10th for new students.

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U of I Aid Plan In Springfield

The University of Illinois says a proposal will be introduced in the state Legislature that would provide at least $170 million in financial aid.
 
University of Illinois President Tim Killeen announced the Invest in Illinois, or Triple I, proposal on Wednesday. He says it would provide the money over five years with the goal of keeping Illinois high school graduates in state for college and stem a growing loss of students to out-of-state schools.
 
The university says the measure will be introduced as an amendment to a measure already pending in Springfield that involves university funding.
 
The university says that in 2015, 45 percent of high school students who graduated in Illinois and were bound for college went to schools out of state. That number was 29 percent in 2002.

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Garth Extends Champaign Stay

You may have heard that country music star Garth Brooks is coming to Central Illinois.  Well, now he's coming for an extended stay.
 
Garth Brooks retired for years to raise his daughters, and he has struggled to chart new hits this century, but no country act can touch his power as a concert draw. 
 
The country superstar has added two shows to his stay at Champaign's State Farm Center. He crossed the 50-thousand mark in tickets sold for the fourt concerts that will kick off Friday, April 28th. Shows were added Saturday April 29th at 3pm and Sunday, April 30th at 7:30 PM.

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Caterpillar Hires Former Attorney General

Caterpillar says it is hiring a former U.S. attorney general to help it sort out matters that sparked a federal raid on its Peoria headquarters.
 
William P. Barr will serve as outside counsel to the large equipment manufacturer. He'll help Caterpillar review and address issues relating to its use of a parts subsidiary based in Switzerland and tax-saving practices.
 
Issues with Caterpillar SARL have dogged the company for eight years, sparking a Senate investigation, shareholder lawsuits, and proposed taxes and penalties totaling $2 billion.
 
CEO Jim Umpleby said in a news release Thursday he's committed to maintaining ethical standards in conducting business. He added Barr's counsel will help the company achieve that.
 
Barr served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. He currently works at Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis.

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Prosecutor: Blago Sentence Appropriate

Prosecutors say an appeals court shouldn't grant former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich a third sentencing hearing.
 
Their filing Thursday comes on the day the Illinois Democrat started his sixth year in prison for corruption, including trying to trade an appointment to ex-President Barack Obama's old Senate seat for campaign cash.
 
The one-time "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant with President Donald Trump asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December for another sentencing. Among other things, he argued a lower court didn't consider Blagojevich's good behavior in prison at an August resentencing in reimposing the original 14-year sentence.
 
The 7th Circuit ordered the resentencing after tossing five of Blagojevich's 18 convictions.
 
Prosecutors' 47-page filing offers few new arguments for why Blagojevich's sentence is appropriate. It notes he's never acknowledged seriously wrongdoing. Oral arguments are on April 18.

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IL House Republicans Pushing Redistricting Legislation

House Republicans in Springfield are sponsoring a House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment which will create the Independent Redistricting Commission to adopt and file with the Secretary of State a redistricting plan for Legislative and Representative Districts.
 
HJRCA17 provides for the selection of Commissioners and establishes the authority of a Special Commissioner to design a redistricting plan in the event that the Commission fails to properly adopt and file a redistricting plan. 
 
During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said he believes redistricting reform is one of the most important issues facing the General Assembly.
 
 
The measure would be effective beginning with redistricting in 2021 and applies to members elected in 2022 and thereafter.

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