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Local News

Medical Cannabis Consulting Company Coming To Clinton

You'll soon be able to consult with healthcare professionals about medical cannabis in Clinton.
 
That's because Medical Cannabis Outreach is coming to the square in the former DCDC office. Owner and CEO Eric Sweatt explains they will sit down and pre-screen someone interested in getting into the Illinois medical cannabis program. He says they have a high rate of success because they know the Illinois laws.
 
 
The Medical Cannabis Outreach office in Clinton is the latest location in central Illinois. Sweatt explains they recommend patience see their doctors before they come to them. They want doctors to be on board.
 
 
Sweatt emphasizes they are not selling medical cannabis in Clinton. He says it simply a way for someone to get additional assistance getting on the Illinois program.
 
 
The first appointment date for Medical Cannabis Outreach in Clinton is set for Thursday, July 27.
 
To make an appointment and get more information, contact them by phone at 309-338-8900 or visit medicalcannabisoutreach.com. 

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Habitat For Humanity Target For Building Trades Partnership in Clinton

If a new program at Clinton High School is going to get off the ground, it seems a partnership with a local construction group is likely. 
 
Habitat For Humanity of DeWitt County could be instrumental in getting a building trades program going at Clinton High School. Superintendent Curt Nettles says it appears there is the makings for a great relationship between the two.
 
 
One thing that makes the two great partners is the fact Clinton High School has plots available and Habitat is in need of space to build. Given the fact Habitat is a natural fit for what the program hopes to accomplish, he sees great things ahead for the two. 
 
 
Early on, the program would be small but it would build up as the partnership grows. Nettles says there is still a lot of planning to be done but things seem to be very promising.
 
 
Nettles notes there are lots of great building trade programs in the area to model after but he comes back most often to the program at Lincoln High School. 

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Allerton Park's Summer Concert Series Gaining Traction Entering 2017

The Summer Concert Series at Allerton Park in Monticello has been a huge success and continues to gain traction as they enter their 2017 season.
 
Derek Peterson says the lineup for this year is another good one with plenty of food and drinks to go along with their variety of genres. The Friday concerts get going in June. 
 
 
Peterson explains they have really committed to the first Fridays of each month for the concerts and says because of that, people block those out on their schedule so they can attend. He attributes that to a large portion of the success they've had.
 
 
Looking ahead, Peterson sees the park being able to balance continuing to have local flavors but then adding a national act or two at different points during the year.
 
 
For a full list of concerts and activities happening at Allerton Park, visit allerton.illinois.edu or visit them on Facebook and Twitter or call 217-333-3287. If you are at the park, stop in to their visitors center and pick up a hard copy of their schedule. 

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Senate Democrats Pass Budget, Rauner To Veto

Senate President John Cullerton appears to have given up for his quest for a Grand Bargain budget deal with Republicans. 
 
Democrats went their own way, approving a $37.3 billion spending plan that features a $5.4 billion tax increase. The additional revenue would come from boosting the personal income tax to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate to 7 percent. Sales tax would be added to a number of services. 
 
Governor Rauner says he'll fight the budget plan because it lacks a long term property tax freeze.
 
 
No Republicans voted for the budget bills Tuesday. 

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Sen. Rose Blasts Democrats Passage of Budget Bills

State Senator Chapin Rose is blasting his coleagues in the Senate for pushing bills through before they were ready.
 
The Senator anticipated good faith talks Tuesday and then came to Springfield to find bills with plenty of mistakes.
 
 
Senator Rose also blasted the tax hike that passed the Senate Chambers yesterday.
 
 
Rose was critical of his coleagues for not addressing workers compensation. He says the implication it has nothing to do with the budget is false. 

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Sen. Weaver Speaks Out On Income Tax Hike

A downstate lawmaker speaking out against legislation that raises the state income tax. 
 
The State Senate approved Senate Bill 9 on Tuesday by a 32 to 26 vote. State Senator Chuck Weaver of Peoria opposed. 
 
 
Senate Bill 9 increases the individual income tax rate to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent and the corporate income tax rate will increase to 7-percent from 5.25 percent. 
 
The legislation also imposes a 6.25-percent tax on tattooing and body piercing and new taxes of 6-percent on satellite and streaming services. 
 

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Illinois Crop Protection Industry Heard in Washington

Illinois’ crop protection industry has a voice in Washington. 
 
It’s through the group CropLife America where Missouri native Kelly Bray serves as senior director of governmental affairs.
 
 
Bray says the organization has just launched a new campaign—called “Give a Crop”.
 
 
You can learn more about the campaign at “giveacrop.org” Bray says the site also features a popular section called myth vs. fact--comparing conventionally grown food to organically grown food. 

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Durbin Weighs in On FBI Choice

Senator Dick Durbin isn't looking for a political bedfellow to head up the FBI after the firing of James Comey. 
 
Durbin isn't offering names or endorsements, but he is looking for a true independent streak.
 
 
Durbin was a guest on MSNBC.

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Corn Crop Lags in Health Ratings

The state’s farmers are making progress on planting corn and soybeans. 
 
The United States Department of Agriculture says that 89 percent of the corn crop is planted and 48 percent of the soybean crop is in. Those numbers are close to average. Overall the health of the corn crop isn’t good as last year. USDA’s Mark Schleusener…
 
 
Cool and wet weather is blamed for lagging crop health. 

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County Looking At Comprehensive Plan

It's something that has been needed in DeWitt County for almost a quarter-century, and it is finally getting addressed.
 
The comprehensive plan for the County is long over due and while there's been a few attempts at an update, DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg says it time to the County direction.
 
 
Newberg explains a comprehensive plan can be a very important resource for an entity. He says it gives potential businesses an idea of what a community has planned and a lot changes in 25 years.
 
 
For Newberg, things like schools, businesses, and services need to be addressed in the comprehensive plan. He indicates the Land Use committee will oversee the assembly of the plan.
 
 
There will be public input opportunities as a part of the planning sessions. Newberg indicates those will be announced as the process moves along but emphasizes the Board is very serious about getting this put together. 

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Clinton Schools To Investigate More Teachers

Clinton school leaders will investigate the possibility of more teachers in classrooms but their leaders says Clinton Schools are already in good shape and it may cost  them financially.
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles says Clinton Schools are in a very good position with the number of students in a classroom, however, he will assemble his administration team and look into it.
 
 
Nettles warns against the suggestion of dipping into reserves. He says when you dip into reserves too much, your reserves aren't reserves anymore. He also cautions getting too wrapped up in the fact the power plant will continue to be an asset in the community.
 
 
Nettles also points outs classroom sizes in Clinton are very favorable. When area schools could have classroom sizes regularly in the 30s, he indicates he feels fortunate to have classroom sizes that average 20 students. 
 
 
Nettles cautioned the board last Wednesday, getting so close to the start of a new school year, it would be difficult implement any findings. 

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DeWitt County TRIAD Talks Scams

Tax day may be in the rear view mirror but that doesn't mean scams are as a local group aimed at protecting the community's seniors tells us.
 
Pam Schwartz with the DeWitt County TRIAD says the IRS scam continues to be the top scam they hear about through their fraud abuse hotline.
 
 
The most common scam, and perhaps one of the most well known, is called 'the grandchild scam'. Schwartz indicates the person on the other end of the line will deliver bad news about a grandchild, or even pose like the grandchild, to a senior and will gradually get more and more information from the senior voluntarily.
 
 
The other popular scam right now is the Publisher's Clearing House scam. Schwartz indicates Publisher's Clearing House never calls, they only show up at your door by surprise. 
 
 
Schwartz says the best way to deal with scam calls is to just hang up. 
 
If you do find yourself in a sticky situation, contact the DeWitt County Sheriff's office at 217-935-9507. You'll talk with Schwartz and she will get the information and get you in touch with a detective who will help you through it. 

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Weekly Crop Report

DESPITE ALL THE RECENT RAIN, CORN PLANTING IN ILLINOIS IS ABOUT ON PACE WITH PREVIOUS YEARS. 
 
FOUR DAYS WERE SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK…AND SOME PRODUCERS HAD TO REPLANT FLOODED FIELDS SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
48 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS HAVE BEEN PLANTED AND 18 PERCENT HAVE EMERGED. 
 
 
23 PERCENT OF SORGHUM HAS BEEN PLANTED AND 94 PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP HAS HEADED. 44 PERCENT OF THE WHEAT CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE NOW STANDS AT ONE PERCENT SHORT…64 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 35 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Purple Heart Returned To Family

A long lost war medal has been returned to a family that didn’t know their father left it behind. It’s the work of the Illinois Treasure’s unclaimed property division. 
 
The story begins with an abandoned safety deposit box and a purple heart inside. It belonged to a Peoria area decorated war veteran Edward Dunn, but it was a medal that Constance Barr said never knew he father had been awarded for his service in World War II. 
 
So needless to say she was taken aback once she believed that the person she was talking to on the phone was really from the Treasurer’s office.
 
 
Barr says that she knew her late father had served but he didn’t offer up the whole story to his family and now she wishes she could talk to him about it. 
 
 
The medal had been unclaimed since 1993. Barr says that everyone should check the I Cash website and see if anything is destined to be returned. The office currently has more than 100 unclaimed medals. 

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Blagojevhich Turns To Appeals Court

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich makes another bid for early release. 
 
His attorneys are seeking another hearing before the same three-judge panel that chose to keep his 14-year prison term intact last month. 
 
The three judge panel overturned five of Blagojevich's original 18 criminal convictions two years ago but Judge James Zagel refused to reduce his prison term. 
 
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to hear Blagojevich's case. 
Blagojevich's last hope could be his former boss, as in television boss, former Apprentice Host, President Donald Trump.

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Governor Appoints New Leader For Intersect Illinois Agency

The state’s non-profit job creation group, Intersect Illinois has a new leader. 
 
Governor Bruce Rauner announced Mark Peterson as the CEO. Peterson worked in job development and recruitment in Rochester New York. The Governor says that Intersect has helped secure 11,000 new jobs to be created in the state. 
 
Peterson says focus will be placed on finding employers of all sizes but cultivating start up culture and helping small businesses grow is among the most important thing they can do. 
 
 
The former CEO of Intersect Illinois Jim Schultz will be staying on as a board member of the organization. 

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Ag Policy Expert Receives Input on New Farm Bill

What’s working in the current Farm Bill and what’s needed in the new one? 
 
Those questions being answered by University of Illinois ag policy expert Jonathan Coppess.
 
 
Coppess has been receiving input on the issue from farmers across the state and met with the Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors last week in Bloomington. 
 
 
And Coppess says low commodity prices have also been a dominant part of the discussion. The deadline for ushering in a new Farm Bill is September 2018. 

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Slight Changes Possible To CHS CEO Program

The foundation is still laid for a business course with great potential to come to Clinton schools, however, the details of such a program could be adjusted soon.
 
Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles says he still believes in the program but he and his coleague, Dr. Vic Zimmerman at Monticello, are going to reach out to other potential districts in the DeWitt and Piatt County areas and see who else might be interested in the opportunity.
 
 
Nettles indicates this could delay the implementation of the program but feels it needs to be done right rather than rushed.
 
 
According to Nettles, the program still remains very much on the table for Clinton schools, but geography of the partnerships created will play a big role in what it looks like moving forward. 

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Homestead Awarded Grant to Preserve Photos

The CH Moore Homestead was recently awarded a grant from the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation.
 
The $2,000 will be used for a photograph preservation project that Joey Woolridge says they've wanted to impliment for quite a while.
 
 
She adds that the Bloomington based foundation is there to help non-profit organizations like the Homestead with funding such as the grant they received.
 
 
This money will help stabilize photographs of DeWitt County history so that the generations to come can view and enjoy these snapshots of the past.
 
 
Woolridge hopes to have the preservation project up and running by the end of the summer.

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Warner Library Summer Reading Clubs Bound to Entertain

The Warner Library's Summer Reading Club is about to start up for this year. There will be three different clubs divided up by age. The youngest for 3-5 year olds called The Bee Team, the K through Junior High reading club and the Teen and Adult club.
 
Wonderful Wednesday will bring different programs for children to participate in according to Paula Lopatic. 
 
 
Professional entertainers will are also on deck including Rockin' Rob, Silly Safari's, a ventriloquist, and Mermaid Chelsea.
 
 
Registration begins today and goes through the summer. If you'd like to register you can visit, call 935-5174, or check out their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Southeast Illinois Farmer Says Industry Needs To Speak Up

A south-eastern Illinois farmer hopes key decision makers are hearing from his industry. 
 
Dennis Green farms outside of Lawrenceville—near the Indiana border. He says it’s important for his colleagues to speak up, especially to state and federal lawmakers.
 
 
And Green says farmers also need to listen and learn from other farmers on various practices, like no-till. Steve Stallman of Chester knows about that. 
 
 
Stallman has received almost a foot of rain in his area of the state, but still has 85-percent of his corn planting complete. 

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Freshman Lawmaker Blasts Agency Over Costly Memberships

A Quad City area state lawmaker criticizing costly memberships within the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology. 
 
State Representative Mike Halpin says the agency’s consulting memberships have already cost taxpayers $208,000. He says the Governor needs to take a stand as well. 
 
 
Halpin says in April, the memberships made headlines when $71 million was transferred by then Comptroller Leslie Munger out of the General Revenue Fund and deposited into various other funds, some of which went to pay for the agency’s memberships. Halpin was just elected last November. 

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Commodity Markets Concern Illinois Farmers

Shaky commodity markets continue to be on the minds of some Illinois farmers as spring planting marches on in many parts of the state. The weak markets concern McHenry County farmer Michelle Aavang (AY-vayng – end rhymes with fang). 
 
 
The northern Illinois farmer has been watching new farm bill discussions and debate closely. But, she says there’s still a long way to go in developing what could serve as a farm safety net for her and other farmers beyond next year. 
 
 
Aavang represents DeKalb, Kane, Lake and McHenry Counties on the Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors. She, her husband and son raise crops and livestock near the northern Illinois town of Woodstock.

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Ag Groups Concerned About NAFTA Renegotiations

The Trump administration has officially notified Congress it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. 
 
Agriculture groups have reacted to the news with caution. The National Pork Producers Council is urging the president to make sure that tariffs remain at zero for pork traded throughout North America. Tariff-free access to Canada and Mexico last year were worth $799 million and $1.4 billion respectively. “Canada and Mexico are our top export markets,” says NPPC President Ken Maschoff, “and we absolutely must not have any trade disruptions.” U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers are also hoping for caution in the upcoming negotiations. 
 
While the groups welcome the chance to improve the agreement, they oppose changes that would limit benefits to wheat growers, especially in the Mexican food processing industries. American wheat imports began surging in Mexico after NAFTA, and Mexico is now the largest buyer of American wheat. “I cannot emphasize how important our Mexican customers are to U.S. wheat farmers,” says Jason Scott, USW chair. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is also urging the administration not to jeopardize gains made in NAFTA. The National Farmers Union says the negotiations are a chance to make NAFTA work better for family farmers and ranchers across the country.

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Ag Sect. Perdue Talks Locks Funding

Uncertainty remains on long-awaiting funding for locks modernization on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, reflected in testimony this week by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. Perdue hedged this week on whether he’d press for funding for new 12-hundred foot locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, key for Midwest grain producers.
 
The Secretary’s comments added new uncertainty to the fate of seven new locks on the rivers, authorized 10-years ago in the 2007 WRRDA bill, dashing optimism raised early in the Trump Administration that a leaked unofficial list may have included inland waterways projects.  Illinois Democrat Cheri Bustos at this week’s Perdue hearing…tape
 
Which the Obama Administration didn’t do and which Bustos is now asking Perdue to press for in any Trump infrastructure plan. But the Secretary would not commit…tape
 
 
Apparently referring to the timing and planning of construction. But Midwest lawmakers have been pursuing new locks for decades and Bustos reminded Perdue the locks in her northwestern Illinois district were built in the 1930s. She invited Perdue to come to her district and look for himself, at the ancient locks. Perdue visited a grain barge loading facility last week in Ohio.

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Clinton School District Sees Lunch Prices Increase

The Clinton Community Unit School District 15 will raise their breakfast and lunch prices next school year in accordance with federal guidelines.
 
Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles explains the decision to increase lunch and breakfast prices were to meet federal guidelines. Approximately half of the students in the district qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. The federal government wants school districts to use their own funds and then they will reimburse the districts for their lunch program.
 
Lunches will increase from $1.75 to $2.00 for kindergarten through eighth grade, $2.00 to $2.25 for high school, and breakfast will increase from $1.25 to $1.50.

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Heroes vs. Villains the Theme of VWPL Adult Summer Reading Club

The Warner Library has three different Summer Reading Clubs that you can register for starting Monday the 22nd.
 
The theme of the Adult Summer Reading Club is Heroes vs. Villains according to Bobbi Perryman. As you read, you'll choose a side and vote for your favorite heroes or villains from literature.
 
 
Every book, e-book, or audio book you read counts toward getting your name into the drawing for an as yet unannounced grand prize.
 
Though registration starts on Monday the 22nd, you can sign up until the program ends.

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Richland Hosting Summer College Readiness Math Program

Richland Community College is hosting a summer college readiness math program in partnership with Workforce Investment Solutions and the Education Coalition of Macon County.
 
Karen Lockhart with the Richland Math Enrichment Center indicates that the College Readiness Math Plus program is designed to help students with math courses in college. Students also have an opportunity to earn an internship at the end of the program.
 
During the five week program, students can expect to learn about career readiness as well as getting help with their math skills. Lockhart says the students will explore the Richland campus and will learn about the different degree options available at Richland.
 
Richland works with area school guidance offices who can refer students to the program. Interested students or parents of interested students can contact Karen Lockhart at 217-875-7211 ext. 6383 or visit www.richland.edu for more information.
 

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U of I Extension Offering Jr Master Gardener Summer Program

The University of Illinois Extension is offering a Junior Master Gardener Summer program for students 8 years and above.
 
DeWitt County Extension Master Gardener Candace Miller indicates that the program begins June 6 and will feature a multitude of gardening topics to get kids interested in gardening.
 
The program will focus on vegetable garden aspect. Students will be able to plant vegetables in a garden and will learn how to harvest the crop. Miller says students involved in the program will also learn recipes to use their produce that they grew. 
 
 
The program will start June 6 and run every other week from 10am to noon. Students can register online on the DeWitt County University of Illinois Extension office website. The cost to attend is three dollars per session.

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DeWitt County Officials Skeptical of Energy Efficiency Proposal

For almost two months, the DeWitt County Board has heard from a company to come in and make energy improvements to the County's facilities. 
 
After Thursday night's DeWitt County Board meeting, it is apparent there are more unanswered questions than answered questions. Lance Reece, who is a part of the Property Committee, says a presentation from Smart Watt left him with more questions than answers.
 
 
County Board Chair David Newberg says they've been considering the partnership with the company for six weeks but he does not feel rushed to make a decision. He says he wants to make the right decisions.
 
 
Board members questioned how the payments to Smart Watt would work. Ferguson explains this company would allow the County Board to borrow money from them to pay for the work. Reece says the company then makes money through marking up the bidders quotes.
 
 
According to Reece, there could maintenance that would not be covered by the contract. He indicates new units such as air conditioning may not be covered under what Smart Watt does.
 
 
The Board ultimately decided to send the proposal back to the Property Committee for further investigation. 

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Clinton Board of Education Establishes Athletic Committee

It's not the teachers. It's the Board. It's not the students. It's the sports.
 
That is what several School Board members say they hear about the most when they encounter community members and that is why they approved a new athletics committee Wednesday night at the Board of Education meeting.
 
Board President Mike Walker says the committee would work with the Superintendent, administrators and athletic director and would correspond with the athletic booster club.
 
 
Walker feels this would be a good committee to have in place. He explains there is not a lot of communication between the board of education and the athletic booster board. 
 
 
Board member Dan Matthews says the committee would also be in place to set good hiring and evaluation practices and not do something different each time a position opens up.
 
 
Matthews emphasizes the committee would not be involved in making the coaching decisions. He notes it would be in place to set the policy for those actions. 
 
Matthews and Walker will be on the committee. 

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Clinton Youth Initiative Summer Garden Work Already

The Clinton Youth Initiative's program's annual summer garden at Alexander and Jefferson Streets has been planted.
 
It's part of the yearly work of the program which gives Clinton High School students work opportunities and then a chance at a college education. Susan Cooper indicates the students get a salary and work around 30 hours per week.
 
 
The Clinton Youth Initiative garden is probably the most visible sign of the program. Cooper says they just recently got their plants in the ground and says the students will periodically work at the site during the summer months.
 
 
There have been isolated instances of the public stealing from the garden and Ginny Carter asks the community to be respectful of the work that is done by the students. 
 
 
The program employs about a dozen students and the leaders indicate they try to keep a balance of equal freshman to seniors so when the seniors graduate they do not have a big void to fill.
 
To get more information, high schoolers can find Carter at the high school or parents can inquire to the high school guidance office. 

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Champaign area start-up aims to keep top ag talent in Illinois

The ag industry remains focused on hiring and retaining top talent. That’s the mission of Champaign based Agrible, Inc. They’re home to agronomists, scientists and developers—who work for the grower in the field says the company’s Cynthia Bruno.
 
 
Luke Zwilling has been with the start-up since the beginning and says their location provides a great advantage.
 
The company opened in 2012 and now features a staff of 53 employees.
 

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CHS 2017 Gold Star Winners

Freshmen
 
Laura Benton
Ty Brennan
Tori Burke
Cody Burton
Krayton Carter
Theodore Cox Jr.
Braden Cross Mariah Crutchfield
Jackson Dempsey
Olivia Earl
Raven Ettien
Sarah Fabris
Kayla Friesland
Darcy Green
Ian Hale
Briauna Hemphill
Mason Holt
Bethany Hospelhorn
Corrie Ijams
McKayla Kaufman
Ella Korneman
Trevor Lang
Elizabeth Maier
Claire Maxwell
Haley McKinsey
Jodi Michael
Kara Montgomery
Alec Newman
Sarah Ocampo
Michael Oswald
Jacob Phillips
Joseph Polen
Brett Reeves
Natalie Rhodes
Jaydlynn Rich
Hayleigh Robbins
Destiny Schlesinger
Aryn Scott
Max Stauffer
Kayla Sterr
Sean Svendsen
Loni Taylor
Alexis Trimble
Jasmyne Trummel
Payne Turney
Emily Wade
Dominick Walker
Garrett Wayne
Koleton Weiss
Clayton Welch
Skyler Williamson
Jacob Wolfe
Delaney Woodbury
 
Sophomores
 
Camdyn Alsup 2
Olivia Benton 2
Dylan Benz 2
Olivia Bierbrodt 2
Gracie Boughton 2
Katherine Broden 2
Lauren Broden 2
Zayin Calvert 2
Callie Champley 2
Sydney Clifton 2
Tess Cooper 2
Ryty Dupont-Barlow 2
Mason Foster 2
Kaitlyn Fought 2
Kayeden Fryman 2
Casey Goergen 2
Jacalyn Green 
Peyton Haynes 2
Gillian Henson 2
Clara Hickman 2
Sarah Hicks 2
Lindsey Holtman 2
Annmaree James 2
Allison Kinder 2
Christine Lindquist 2
Brandon Long 2
Derek Long 
Emma Lux 2
Amelia Lyons 2
Erin McGhee
Andrew McGhee
Anna Mills 2
Jordan Murphy-Leach 2
Matthew Overton 2
Kady Patelski 2
Kane Patterson 2
Logan Petersen 2
Zoie Polen 2
Savanah Polen 2
Riley Pruser 2
Christian Reynolds 2
Alexandria Shaw 2
Abigail Stone 2
Kaitlin Sturgeon
Emily Taylor 2
Mya Thomas 
Spencer Toohill 2
Amanda Tool 2
Jake Torbert 2
Sydnee Underwood 2
Kinser Wargel 2
David Watkins 
Hannah Williams 2
Evelyn Wood 2
Claudia Workman 2
 
Juniors
 
Addison Ayers 3
Joshua Burton 3
Nicole Chaney 3
Emily Ervin 3
Savannah Ettien 3
Madison Filkin 3
Megan Finfrock 3
Danye Hennenfent 3
Dayle Hennenfent 3
Mac Hickman 3
Jonathon Kane 3
Blake Karr *
Breanna Lane 3
Adreana Leblanc 3
Katelyn Maxwell 3
Kathleen Overbey 3
Kyli Patterson 3
Glenn Phillips *
Austin Rauch 3
Bryce Reeves 3
Chase Reynolds 2
Alyssa Saulsbery 3
Breanna Thayer 3
Sophia Waters 3
Maggie Werts 3
Emma Wertz 3
Seth Westfall 3
Millie White 3
 
Seniors
 
Gregory Aughenbaugh 4
Jackie Bateson 
Claire Benton **
Quinlan Calvert 4
Grace Clark *
Wesley Conn 4
Riley Donelson 4
Isaac Fabris 4
Aaron Gamsby 4
Meghan Glass **
Noah Griffin 4
Livia Harmon **
James Harrold III 4
Juana Hernandez 4
Chelsey Hickman 4
Maggie Inman 4
Alexandra Johnson **
Sabrynn Karr 3
Jacob Kroeger 4
Deborah Lindquist 4
Makenzie McDonald 4
Taylor Moore 4
Sydney Musselman 4
Levi Nettles 2
Braden Newman 4
Amber Obermeyer 3
Allison Oswald 4
Alexis Peterson 4
Julia Sterr 4
Jena Thomas 4
Jazmin Valencia **
Landon Wargel 4
Lucas White 4
Victoria Wilson 4
Lillian Wood 4

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Clinton Board of Education Discusses Class Size Reforms

A Clinton Board of Education member says Clinton Schools need smaller class sizes.
 
Ron Conner, a former administrator at Clinton High School, says he is not impressed with some of the class sizes. He says it is something he has wanted changed for better than 20 years and feels it's time he start doing something about it.
 
 
Conner says the students most impressionable ages for learning are between kindergarten and about fifth grade. He questions how students are supposed to learn and teachers are supposed to teach when there is better than 20 students in a classroom.
 
 
Working with the Board of Education on this is the goal for Conner. He believes kids in classrooms need more help and attention.
 
 
Getting more teachers in classrooms is going to cost the district. That was pointed out by John Blythe who calls it a great idea but wonders where the money is going to come from.
 
 
Other board members supported the idea. Chris Hammer says there's good teachers to be had that are not employed. He says he's willing to work with the administrators of the various buildings to get them in.
 
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles says he will work with his administrative team to find ways to get help in classrooms but cautioned, starting the process so close to a new school year would be difficult to get things done in time for the next year. 

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Authorities Remind Residents No Pets, No Bikes at May Days

For the safety of everyone attending this weekend's May Days Festival in Clinton, local authorities are reminding attendees of some things to keep in mind for the weekend.
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates the square will close briefly Thursday night for the festival, and then come Friday afternoon, it will completely close down as vendors move in for the weekend.
 
 
With large crowds expected on the square, Chief Lowers says they are asking attendees to keep the pets at home. He also asks folks to not bring their bikes to the square as well.
 
 
May Days opens tonight on the downtown Clinton Square and runs through Sunday. It is a fundraiser for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce.
 
For more information about the festival. Check out the Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

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Maroa Library's Summer Reading Program to Combat Brain Drain

Maroa Public Library's annual Summer Reading Program is coming up within the next few weeks.
 
The theme of this year's program is "Read by Design" according to Sara Gentle and will include activities for the children to participate in through the week.
 
 
There will be several guest speakers, each speaking on a different design theme, such as industrial and graphic design, to encourage a creative spark among participants.
 
 
The program's goal is to combat the "brain drain" that tends to happen between the end of the school year and the start of a new one with the intention of keeping those skills sharp.
 
 
Registration for the Maroa Public Library Summer Reading Program is on Thursday, June 1st between 10am-5pm and Friday, June 2nd from 10am-3pm.

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Sen. Rose Criticizes Vote on School Funding Reform

The Illinois Senate spent several hours in debate Wednesday afternoon and voted on a number of bills that are part of a broader legislative package that could become Illinois’ next state budget. Not all of the bills were approved. 
 
Sen. Chapin Rose was asked during a Wednesday evening press conference why, after months of negotiations, Republicans insist more time is needed before they consider the legislation.
 
 
Senate Republicans argued the bills they didn’t support needed more work.

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Sen. Bill Brady Addresses Budget Update

Senator Bill Brady, who has been involved in state budget talks for weeks, took part in a Capitol press conference Wednesday to provide an update about the progress of the negotiations.
 
 
Sen. BradyBrady was asked if time is running out to reach an agreement before the May 31 deadline.
 
                         
Sen. Brady was asked whether there is agreement on an income tax increase.
 
                              
Sen. Brady was also asked about proposals to increase sales taxes.
 
                     
Brady responds to a reporter’s question about the ongoing budget talks and how soon can those talks conclude with an agreement.
 
 
The General Assembly faces a May 31 deadline for a state budget. 

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Rauner Offers Pro-Senate, Anti-House Message

Governor Bruce Rauner has good things to say about one chamber of the Illinois General Assembly, the other not so much. 
 
On one hand, he says he's cheering on the Senate as the chamber continues to consider the Grand Bargain series of bills.
 
 
The temperature in the room cools a little when Rauner offers his opinions on the Illinois House.
 
 
The Senate is expected to renew voting on bills tied to the Grand Bargain.

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Over 11-Hundred Farmers Respond To Action Request

A request to support reform the federal government's process to create and enforce environmental regulations stirred some 11-hundred farmers into action. 
Illinois Farm Bureau asked farmers to actively support a so-called "back to basics” effort by new federal Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt. I-F-B President Rich Guebert explains what it's about.
 
 
And as for Springfield, Guebert says farmers await action on a state budget just like many other interests throughout Illinois.
 
 
Guebert farms in Ellis Grove in Randolph County. 

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Bustos Awaiting Infrastructure Plan From Trump

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos looking for a defined infrastructure plan from President Trump, but says his administration remains too riddled with questions concerning ties to Russia.
 
 
Bustos made her remarks on the House Floor Wednesday. 

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Wind Advisory Again Extended to 4am Thursday; Many Roads Still Closed

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has again extended their wind advisory for Central Illinois, until 4 o'clock Thursday morning, after continued high winds blowing dust, caused almost zero visibility, closed several highways, and caused numerous accidents.

As of 9:15 Wednesday night, gettingaroundillinois-dot-com reported that Interstate 72 was closed from just east of Jacksonville to Springfield, and from Buffalo to Illiopolis.

The Weather Service reported that a dust storm at 5 o'clock 2 miles east of Tuscola on Route 36 in Douglas County, caused an accident with a semi and 6 cards due to zero visibility and blowing dust.

The Weather Service said that dangerous winds would continue through the overnight hours, due to the strong winds blowing dust and lowering visibilities to less than one quarter mile.

Loose, lightweight objects may be blown around. Minor tree or property damage is possible. Driving may be difficult especially in high profile vehicles and on east- west roads.

The Regional Radio listening area is also in the "marginal" category for possible severe weather on Thursday.  Stay tuned to this Regional Radio station and dewittdailynews.com for the latest in weather information.
 

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Wind Advisory Extended til 9pm Wednesday; Many Roads Closed Due to Blowing Dust

The National Weather Service in Lincoln extended their wind advisory for Central Illinois, until 9 o'clock Wednesday night, after continued high windsblowing dust, caused almost zero visibility, closed several highways, and caused numerous accidents.

The Illinois Department of Transportation closed Interstate 72 between the Sangamon-Morgan County line and Springfield, during the 5 o'clock hour Wednesday afternoon, due to the limited visibility.  The eastbound lane of Illinois Route 104 between Auburn and Interstate 55, was also closed at 4:57.

Law enforcement also reported to the Weather Service, that a dust storm at 5:20 Wednesday afternoon caused lane closures on Interstate 55 near McLean due to poor visibility from blowing dust.

The Weather Service reported that a dust storm at 5 o'clock 2 miles east of Tuscola on Route 36 in Douglas County, caused an accident with a semi and 6 cards due to zero visibility and blowing dust.

Blowing dust from the strong winds was lowering visibilities on some east west roads to less than one quarter mile, adding that numerous car accidents have been reported.

Motorists were urged to use caution when driving Wednesday evening, especially on east-west roads due to the strong south wind.
 

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City Watching Legislation That Would Cut Funding

14% of the general revenue to the community could on the line if a piece of legislation passes in Springfield.
 
City Commissioner of Finances, Tom Edmunds, informed the City Council that 14-percent could be around a half-million dollars the state would withhold. 
 
 
The Senate's revenue committee will consider the bill. Edmunds says that is something the City will watch very carefully. 

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May Days Festival Offering Live Music Throughout Weekend

While you're out enjoying all the carnival rides and food available during the May Days Festival, be sure to stop by the Mr. Lincoln Square stage for what is happening with the live music.
 
Marian Brisard, Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce says Friday night 'Always Jammin' DJ' will set the mood. Saturday on the square, Protege will perform. 
 
 
With the festival winding down on Sunday, Brisard says they are welcoming back a group of ucelele players who were a big hit last year.
 
 
The May Days Festival opens tomorrow night (Thursday) and runs throughout the weekend. For more information about all things May Days, visit the Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. 

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Utilities The Hold Up For Planned Gas Station

The utility company dealing with power is the hold up for what will eventually be a new gas station in Clinton.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell says the owners of the MachOne gas station planned at the block bordered by Van Buren, Grant, White and Jackson Streets are waiting on Ameren to get things situated for construction to start. 
 
 
In early April, area fire crews used the block as a training site but since there has been little movement. 

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No Injuries When Train Goes Off Tracks in Logan County

Authorities say there could be passenger train delays in central Illinois after a late night freight train derailment.
 
Union Pacific spokeswoman Calli Hite says no one was injured and no hazardous materials were involved. Eighteen of 77 cars carrying automobiles and other materials derailed near Elkhart around 10:30 p.m. Monday. The train was traveling from East St. Louis to Proviso, which is outside Chicago.
 
Amtrak officials say some passenger trains could be delayed Tuesday and buses will be used to transport passengers where needed. Amtrak didn't specify which services would be affected.
 
The Logan County Sheriff's Department says some area roads are closed and crews have been called to assist with cleanup.
 
Hite says the derailment's cause is under investigation.
 
Elkhart is about 20 miles northeast of Springfield, Illinois.

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Hospitals Cutting Sports Trainers Because of State Budget

Springfield's Memorial Medical Center and HSHS St. John's Hospital will stop providing athletic trainers for area high schools by this summer because of the state budget holdup.
 
Reports indicate the hospitals will end the 30-year tradition because the state is $130 million behind in paying bills for the state's group health insurance program.
 
Dr. Charles Lucore is St. John's chief executive officer. He says the budget crisis "is causing all of us to make difficult decisions."
 
The decision affects eight area high schools and their major sports programs - including football.
 
The Illinois High School Association doesn't require trainers to be at games or practices. But high schools have come to count on them.

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Northern Illinois Farmer Pushes Back Against Railroad Project

A northern Illinois farmer pushing back against a proposed railroad project. 
 
If approved, the Great Lakes Basin line would run within ten feet within Tammy Wakeley’s free stall barn in Winnebago County.
 
 
Wakeley says she’s frustrated because it could take the Surface Transportation Board several years to make a final decision. She also would have liked to see more time for public input on the issue.
 
 
The farm Wakeley’s own dates back to 1884. 

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House Democrats Seeking Common Ground With Rauner

The team of four Illinois House Democrats tabbed by Speaker Michael Madigan to work with Governor Rauner on ways to end the budget stalemate is getting down to business. 
 
State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie says they are taking his demand for business friendly reforms head on.
 
 
Democrats are seeking reforms that would prohibit insurance companies in Illinois from eliminating an insurance policy due to a pre-existing condition and would also create an Insurance Rate Review Board to prevent insurance companies from unfairly gouging consumers. 
 
The House negotiators also plan to ask Rauner to join them and help close corporate loopholes that allow large businesses to pay nothing in taxes. 
 
They're concerned that impacts revenue and makes it harder for small and medium businesses to survive.

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Evidence Based Education Plan Takes Hit

Progress on an evidence based education funding formula has taken a hit. 
 
State Representative Norine Hammond of Macomb says an amendment was offered Tuesday in Springfield that throws a wrench into things.
 
 
Hammond believes the amendment is being motivated by Chicago special interests.
 
 
The Governor’s Education Funding Reform Commission offered a report to the state legislature earlier this year. 

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Durbin Weighs in On Trump Sharing Intelligence With Russia

President Trump's sharing of classified information with Russian officials is getting response from one of his most outspoken critics, Senator Dick Durbin. 
 
Durbin is expressing fears the developments will hurt the battle against terror threats like ISIS.
 
 
Durbin once again turned back the clock to the early 70s and made comparisons to Watergate.
 
 
Durbin also renewed his call for a special prosecutor and independent commission to investigate possible ties between the President’s inner circle and Russia. 

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18-Year-Old Honored For Egg Business

An 18 year old from western Illinois getting some impressive recognition for building his own egg business. Jim Taylor reports.
 

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Plenty of Fun on Tap For 2017 May Days Festival

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce's May Days Festival will have plenty to offer the community. 
 
From the carnival to food to entertainment, the May Days festival has something to offer everyone when things kick off Thursday. Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Marian Brisard indicates their traditional flag raising ceremony and blessing will be done on Friday even though the festival starts Thursday.
 
 
The Chamber this year is bringing back their Pokemon Go event. Brisard says this was a big hit last year and feels Pokemon Go is still popular enough to do it again.
 
 
According to Brisard, First Christian Church will host their '5K to Raise 5K' to kick the day off Saturday. Like last year, there will be an Abraham Lincoln impersonator at the Race as well.
 
 
The American Legion will have a pork chop sandwich fundraiser on Saturday night and Brisard says it goes to a great group for a great cause.
 
 
There will be even more stage entertainment throughout the weekend as well.
 
Tomorrow on Regional Radio News, Brisard will tell us more about what to expect on the Mr. Lincoln Square Stage during the four-day May Days festival in Clinton. 
 
For more information about May Days, visit the Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. 

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CCEF Sponsoring CHS Gold Star Banquet

The Clinton Community Education Foundation (CCEF) is once again sponsoring the Clinton High School scholarships and awards banquet. 
 
Ruth Lowers with CCEF, indicates that the Foundation is sponsoring the Gold Star Banquet for a third year. The banquet is run by the high school guidance office and the Foundation takes the expenses away from the high school and the students.
 
 
Lowers says the Foundation felt compelled to sponsor the banquet so that recognized students could attend with their parents regardless of their financial situation. CCEF fundraisers help the Foundation sponsor the Gold Star Banquet.
 
 
The Gold Star Banquet is open to invited students and their parents. Students must maintain a 3.51 GPA or receive a scholarship to attend. 
 
 
Freshman through seniors will be recognized for their academic achievement along with seniors awarded scholarships.

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House Trying To Nudge Senate

A bipartisan group of more than 30 Illinois House members are tired of sitting on the sidelines when it comes to the budget process. 
 
With the Grand Bargain seemingly stuck in neutral in the Senate, State Representative Tim Butler and others want to see the Senate craft the best compromise they can so the House can go to work.
 
 
Butler says the bipartisan group will have more to say if there isn't progress toward a budget.
 
 
Lawmakers face a May 31 deadline to pass budget bills with simple majority votes.

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U of I Tax Expert: Trump Tax Reforms Leave Unanswered Questions

A University of Illinois tax policy expert says too many questions remain unanswered with the Trump administration tax reform plan. 
 
Don Fullerton isn’t calling the plan good or bad. He says it’s just basically a one-page list of bullet points.
 
 
The last significant tax reform occurred in 1986, and although it intended to simplify the tax code, Fullerton says special interests got in the way.
 
 
Fullerton says just like lawmakers, he’s awaiting analysis on the Trump reform plan from the Congressional Budget Office and Treasury Department. 

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City Announces Electronic Recycling Days in for June

Get out those old printers and computers and VHS players because you officially have a place to take them to get recycled legally.
 
The Clinton City Council Monday night announced a pair of free recycling days coming to Clinton June 9 and 10. City Administrator Tim Followell doesn't need to remind the public this is a huge need. You can even dispose of your televisions of any size for just ten-dollars. 
 
 
Clinton, like numerous other communities across the state, have been in search of a viable option for electronic recycling, especially once HRC East ceased to offer it. Followell says the company from northern Illinois approached the City about having this come to Clinton. 
 
 
There will be no residency requirements for participation in the electronic recycling days.
 
Again the dates are June 9 and 10 at the Clinton High School parking lot. 
 
Also at the Monday night City Council meeting...
 
>>The Council approved a donation of $5000 to the Celebrate Clinton Association for their fireworks display.
 
>>The Council approved a new vehicle for the police department at a cost of just over $38-thousand.
 
>>The Council also approved the motor fuel tax summer maintenance bids through Illiana Construction Company for just short of $176-thousand. 

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Clinton Power Station Outage Underway

The annual outage at the Exelon Nuclear Power Station is underway.
 
The outage is annual refueling of the power plant. According to Brett Nauman, Communications Manager, the outage brings hundreds of additional workers for maintenance that can only be done with the plant is offline.
 
 
In addition to providing maintenance to the power plant, Nauman says the 1500 additional workers are staying in local hotels and eating at restaurants. He says it's a huge economic boom to the area.
 
 
Had it not been for the efforts of local lawmakers, an outage right now may not be happening. Nauman says the workers and other employees are still grateful for the Clean Energy legislation that was passed in Springfield.
 
 
Nauman says the outage should last another few weeks. He says contractors are from local unions and total over 1500 additional workers. 

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Chamber of Commerce Gearing Up For May Days Festival

The annual May Days Festival is here.
 
By Tuesday you'll start to see the rides for the carnival setting up on the square. Executive Director Marian Brisard says they have their usual carnival returning for 2017 along with plenty more entertainment options for everyone.
 
 
The Chamber makes money on the weekend through the carnival ride ticket sales. Brisard explains purchasing tickets early not only saves money for attendees but it also provides a bigger return to the Chamber of Commerce. Brisard notes the pre-sale tickets are available at several local businesses.
 
 
The Festival kicks off on Thursday and runs until Sunday, all on the downtown Clinton Square. 
 
For more information on the Festival and all the activities, find the Chamber of Commerce on Facebook. 

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Annual "Quilted Keepsakes" Show Back at the Homestead

The DeWitt County Museum Association's annual "Quilted Keepsakes" quilt show will take place starting June 1st through June 30th at the C.H. Moore Homestead DeWitt County Museum.
 
Several contemporary loaned pieces from private collections will be displayed for your viewing pleasure. According to Joey Woolridge, there is at least one "crazy quilt," a design that was popular in the 1870s and 80s.
 
 
This particular quilt has souvenir ribbons that tie it to DeWitt County.
 
 
The quilts can be viewed Tuesday through Saturday 10am-5pm and 1pm-5pm on Sundays. If you'd like to arrange a large group tour, contact the museum at 217-935-6066 or send them an email at chmoore.homestead@gmail.com. 
 

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Rotary Club Hosting Chicken Dinner

The Clinton Rotary Club is hosting their annual chicken dinner drive thru this Tuesday at Clinton Junior High School.
 
Greg Taylor with Clinton Rotary says this is a fundraiser they do to benefit local food pantries.
 
The meals are $9 apiece and includes a half a chicken and two sides. Rotary will also throw in free chocolate chip cookies. You can purchase tickets from any Rotarian. 

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Reward Offered For Suspects Who Robbed, Left Western Illinois Farmer For Dead

A retired Western Illinois farmer robbed and left for dead in his home, days later his friends raise $13,000 in reward money to find those responsible for the crime. Jim Taylor reports.
 

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Sen. Rose Says Progress Stalling

State Senator Chapin Rose says any progress towards a balanced budget was undone earlier this week.
He feels a lot of progress has been made in the last few weeks but was undone earlier in the week when party leaders held dueling press conferences. Sen. Rose says he is not interested in any half measures.
 
 
Sen. Rose called out Senate Democrats for running bills that were unbalanced. He called that the catalyst for the dueling press conferences and feels it setback any progress and made moving forward more difficult. 

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Action on Truck/Trailer Length Legislation Expected this Spring in Springfield

A key rural transportation item dots the legislative agenda in Springfield as the spring session winds down. Don Schaefer represents the Midwest Truckers Association and he expects action on legislation impacting the length of truck/trailer combinations.
 
 
Schaefer hopes for movement on the bill next week in the senate. He says increasing the length limit will result in greater efficiencies for farmers when hauling products like grain. The spring session wraps up May 31st. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a slightly cooler week across central Illinois. State Climotolgist Jim Angel lets us know what to expect this weekend and into next week.
 

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Congressman Davis Stops By DeWitt County HRC

The Encore Thrift Store at the DeWitt County Human Resource Center's East location was gifted by a visit from Congressman Rodney Davis Thursday morning.
 
He fielded questions from their clients about baseball to Washington D.C. and how democracy works. Congressman Davis says there was a lot of concern about the sacrifices that are being made to take care of their clients.
 
 
When it comes to funding for HRC, Davis says he needs the community's help in getting the message of the positive things happening to lawmakers. He says there are some great programs in place and those need to continue.
 
 
Davis explains the staff at HRC reached out to his office and invited him to see their operation. He got to see the Encore Thrift Store and the day training that is happening.
 
He thanked the staff for a warm welcome and allowing him to interact with their clients. 
 
Davis is touring central Illinois with a week home from Washington, D.C. 

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Pet Event in Logan County Saturday

Walk your pets in Lincoln Saturday for a good cause.
 
That's the mission of a trio of central Illinois animal clinics hosting the second annual "Bark for Life" at Kickapoo Park in Lincoln Saturday afternoon. Dr. Jason Wrage says they're inviting residents to come out and support animal shelters in central Illinois while enjoying giveaways and games.
 
 
The shelters the event benefits are in Sangamon, Tazewell and Logan Counties. Dr. Wrage says Kickapoo Park is a great spot for some walks and hopes plenty of pet owners and animal enthusiasts will come out from those areas.
 
 
Dr. Wrage says the goal is to educate their audience on pet care and the benefits of adoptions. He explains the shelters in their areas do so much to find pets permanent homes.
 
 
"Bark for Life" is Saturday at Kickapoo Park in Lincoln from 1 pm to 4 pm. 
 
To learn more about pet adoptions in your community, the best way to start is a simple google search or to reach out to your neighborhood veterinarian office and talk to them. 

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Sen. McCann Wants Ag Director Voted In, Not Appointed

A downstate lawmaker believes the state ag director position should be decided by voters and not a gubernatorial appointment. 
 
State Senator Sam McCann of Plainview presented the constitutional amendment Thursday in Springfield.
 
 
McCann says twelve other states elect ag directors, including Illinois neighbors Kentucky and Iowa. 

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Monarch Butterflies Being Watched By Government Agencies

Government agencies keeping a close eye on the Monarch butterfly population. If it becomes an endangered or threatened species that action could have a significant impact on farming practices says Lyndsey Ramsey--Associate Director of Natural and Environmental Resources for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
Ramsey says farmers can improve Monarch butterfly habitats simply by planting pollinator gardens or leaving milkweed in non-crop areas—like around farm buildings and along roads and ditches. 

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Farmers Worried About Yellow Corn

Farmers are worried about their corn crop across the Midwest. Some of it most certainly will need to be replanted because of standing water, but some whole fields have turned yellow.
 
Farmers don't worry too much about a few very young yellow corn plants in their fields. They do get concerned when every plant is yellow. The problem, in this case, isn't the wet weather says University of Illinois Agronomist Emerson Nafziger…
 
 
 It's the night time temps that are mostly causing the problems. When those overnight lows are in the 30's, and 40's, it damages the leaf...
 
 
The corn should green up once air temperatures return to normal. However, it may be only the new growth that is green says Nafziger. He's not sure if there will be long-term consequences…
 
 
The good news, though it is cold comfort says Nafziger, is that any replants that must be done in these yellow fields won't be so very far behind because the standing plants haven't really been growing much.

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Cullerton Frustrated By No Budget Deal

Yet another failed attempt at passing a budget this week at the Illinois State House has raised the ire of the President of the Senate. 
 
Democrat John Cullerton was frustrated after not being able to pass initial bills with little to no Republican support. Cullerton pointed the blame for the lack of votes at Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. 
 
 
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno says that she remains committed to the grand bargain processes. But she was unwilling to allow for votes this week on more contentious issues surrounding the package of bills, including a property tax freeze and changes to workers compensation. Cullerton’s point was there has to be compromise on all proposals to find 30 votes to pass the Senate and maybe Rauner isn’t used to working that way. 
 
 
Both sides say they are willing to keep meeting.

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Ag Groups Urging Trump to Keep KORUS

The U.S. pork industry is urging President Donald Trump to renegotiate rather than withdraw from the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, KORUS.  The push follows on the heels of similar comments made by the President regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement.
 
Farm groups are treating KORUS like NAFTA, arguing for renegotiation versus withdrawal.  They succeeded in bending the president’s ear on NAFTA, and now hope to do the same on the 2011 KORUS that sharply reduced or ended tariffs on key farm products.
 
National Pork Producers’ spokesman Dave Warner explains...
 
  
 
Pork products would face huge tariffs without KORUS, as would U.S. beef and other ag exports to South Korea.
 
Warner says a key player in defending free trade agreements for agriculture is new USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, who helped convince the president to stay in NAFTA last month.
 
          
 
Warner says his industry sells more pork to the 20-nations with which the U.S. has free trade agreements, than it does to the rest of the world, combined.  He argues it’s only by negotiating new deals that U.S. agriculture’s able to reduce foreign tariffs, and the U.S. can reduce its overall trade deficit.

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UPDATED: Lady Maroons Track Program Brings Home Conference Title, Off To Sectionals

The Clinton Lady Maroons track team brought home their first ever conference track title last Friday in Tuscola at the Central Illinois Conference meet, now it's off to Sectionals.
 
Coach Rachel Lyons says the goal from the start of the year was to get that conference title and start filling up the banner in the high school gym.
 
 
In Tuscola, Lyons says at the conference meet there were several personal bests and everyone took to heart that each finish meant something.
 
 
The Lady Maroons competed at Sectionals at Mattoon Thursday afternoon. Lyons indicates the top two or qualifying time advances to the State meet. She notes there is no team advancements at the Sectional, only individuals. 
 
Sophomore Claudia Workman finished second in the shot put and freshman Payne Turney finished second in the 800-meter run. 
 
The Lady Maroons finished 8th at the Mattoon Sectional with a team score of 29. 
 

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