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Local News

Chief of Police Discusses Prom

Local authorities are wishing all high school students a pleasant and enjoyable prom season but are also taking the opportunity to provide them with some basic safety reminders.
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers is hoping youth will make good decisions during this prom season. He says saying no to alcohol and drugs and wearing a seatbelt should be top priorities.
 
 
While Chief Lowers says Prom is a great event and hopes all students have a great experience, he says it is always important to address students each year on making sure everyone arrives home for the night safely.
 
 
Earlier this week, students witnessed a re-enactment of a fatality accident at the high school. Chief Lowers says it was designed to demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving. He says following that, students were addressed about those dangers and making good choices.
 
The Chief feels the messages they are trying to get across to the students do get received and received well. 

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Clinton High School Does Well At Envirothon Competition

A group of Clinton High School students performed very well at a state competition this week, but fell just short of a championship.
 
The Illinois Envirothon (En-vi-ro-thon) took place Wednesday and Thursday at Allerton Park in Monticello.  Twenty teams from high schools across the state gathered to take part in two days of testing and presentations on a variety of environmental and conservation topics.  Sondra Baker, coordinator of the event, explains the students compete in five different categories, and the overall winner represents Illinois at a national competition.
 
 
Tennyson Kern, a member of the Clinton High School team, enjoyed the chance to compete with her team.  She says the extra work and studying was worth gaining the extra knowledge about the environment.
 
 
Tori Moreland is coach of the Clinton Envirothon team.  She's proud of the hard work put in by the students.  She feels the competition is a great way for students to "disconnect" and learn about the natural world.
 
 
The Clinton students won three of the six categories at the Envirothon, but just missed out on a top three finish.  Those being: Aquatics, Soils, and Wildlife.  A team from Chicago Lab School was the eventual state champion, and will represent Illinois at the National Envirothon in Maryland this summer.  
 
The members of the Clinton High School team are: Tennyson Kern, Anna Mills, Megan Finfrock, Dylan Earl, and Erin McGee.

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Friends in Action Spaghetti Dinner This Saturday

A local organization that helps take care of seniors is having a fundraiser this Saturday, April the 29th.
 
According to Larry Buss, the community is a huge supporter if Friends in Action especially with the donations of food for the upcoming Spaghetti Dinner from local business.
 
 
Fundraisers like the Spaghetti Dinner, are two fold. They raise money for the organization and gets their message out.
 
 
The dinner is all you can eat this Saturday from 5 to 7. You can purchase tickets at the Friendship Center or you can buy them directly from Larry Buss.

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Cleanup Day At Clinton Lake Moved Back A Week

The cleanup day at Clinton Lake being organized by the Department of Natural Resources for Saturday April 29, has been moved to May 6.
 
Due to weather concerns, officials have decided to reschedule, though, all details of the event will remain the same. 
 
We'll have more on this event next week on Regional Radio News. 

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Lincoln Celebrating The Reopening of The Mill

The Mill in Lincoln opened in 1929 on the original strip of Route 66. 
 
Director of the Route 66 Scenic Byway, Geoff Ladd says in it's history it has been a bar and restaurant but it will be a museum highlighting the history of Route 66.
 
 
The grand reopening of The Mill will feature Governor Bruce Rauner at the event and he will participate in a bike blessing happening and Ladd indicates local leaders will of course be on hand to say a few words.
 
 
Ladd indicates once The Mill is open this weekend, the museum will be open from 1 pm to 4 pm Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment. 
 
Visit Mill66.org for a full list of activities for The Mill's Grand Reopening and for more information about The Mill. 

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Rauner Adjusting To Life on Fairgrounds

Governor Bruce Rauner's transition from the Illinois Executive Mansion to the Director's Home at the Illinois State Fairgrounds may sound more like an episode of Green Acres.
 
 
Rauner's learned that the family that previously resides in the home is staying put.
 
 
Rauner will remain at the Director's Home through next summer as repairs continue at the Executive Mansion.

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Legislation Helps Domestic Violence Victims Leave Their Abuser

STATE LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING ON A BILL TO HELP VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEAVE THEIR ABUSER.
 
THE MEASURE LETS VICTIMS SEPARATE FROM THEIR ABUSER’S CELL PHONE PLAN, WHILE KEEPING THE SAME NUMBER. SENATOR STEVE STADELMAN OF ROCKFORD SAYS THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP IN GETTING OUT OF AN ABUSIVE SITUATION.
 
 
CARRIE BOYD WITH THE ILLINOIS COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SAYS THIS REMOVES ONE MORE ROADBLOCK FOR VICTIMS LOOKING TO GET OUT OF A AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP.
 
 
CURRENTLY, CELLULAR CUSTOMERS MUST HAVE PERMISSION FROM THE CONTRACT HOLDER TO LEAVE THE PLAN WITH THEIR SAME PHONE NUMBER.

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Lawmakers Pass Gun Dealers Licensing

GUN DEALERS WOULD HAVE TO BE LICENSED BY THE STATE UNDER LEGISLATION CLEARING THE ILLINOIS SENATE THURSDAY. 
 
THE IDEA HAS BEEN DEBATED FOR SEVERAL YEARS…AND HEAVILY SUPPORTED BY CHICAGO AREA LAWMAKERS LIKE SENATOR KWAME RAOUL WHO SAY THEY ARE TIRED OF THE VIOLENCE ON THEIR STREETS. HE URGED HIS COLLEAGUES TO VOTE FOR THE BILL, SAYING THEIR DISTRICTS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO CRIME.
 
 
THE CONTROVERSIAL MEASURE PASSED ON A 30 TO 21 VOTE, WITH SUPPORTERS PLEADING THEIR CASE THAT LICENSING DEALERS IS NEEDED TO HELP END GUN VIOLENCE. BUT OPPONENTS, LIKE SENATOR NEIL ANDERSON OF MOLINE WERE SKEPTICAL.
 
 
THE HOUSE WILL NOW CONSIDER THE LEGISLATION.

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ISU Students Bring Home National Awards

Some Illinois State University students want to be marketing wizards, and tested out what they've learned at a national competition in Dallas to market food and other agricultural products. 
 
Illinois State's student chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association, or NAMA (nah-MUH), brought home four awards, including student chapter of the year. The I-S-U group beat out the NAMA student group at the University of Illinois and 30 other ag programs at colleges and universities nationwide. Joey Keller is a junior from Waverly and competed on team I-S-U;
 
 
Amanda Diesburg (DEEZ-burg) of Paxton serves as the I-S-U agri-marketing student chapter's president;
 
 
The Illinois State group spent nearly a year planning and practicing for the competition. They pitched "Mulligan's milk-fed pork," or hogs marketed to high-end restaurants, for what the group says is 'nose-to-tail cooking.' Their peers at other schools also voted the I-S-U NAMA chapter as the "team we'd call...if we landed in jail."

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Illinois Republicans Float Idea of Taxpayer Bargain Budget Plan

There’s a new budget plan being floated at the state capitol. It’s called the Taxpayer Bargain Budget Plan, which includes 18 different legislative measures. One of the co-sponsors is Republican State Senator Kyle McCarter of Decatur.
 
 
The other co-sponsor is Republican State Senator Dan McConchie of Lake Zurich.
 
 
A property tax freeze is part of the plan, but hearings have yet to be scheduled on the proposal. 

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Energy Prices In Good Spot For Producers

Agriculture producers have some opportunities with energy prices this spring. And if you need to fill up tanks on the farm, now may be the perfect time to do it says Growmark’s energy expert Harry Cooney. 
 
 
And crude oil is now trading under $50 a barrel.
 
 
Cooney says some charts have suggested that the energy market can fall even more.

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Efforts Raise $2 Million to Help Wildfire Victims

Drovers Magazine, a Farm Journal Media franchise, and the Farm Journal  Foundation recently announced the acceptance of a historic challenge by global philanthropist and American farmer-rancher Howard G. Buffet to raise at least $2 million to help ranching victims of the devastating wildfires that burned 1.6 million acres in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado last month. 
 
All monetary donations to the New Drovers/Farm Journal Million Dollar Wildfire Relief Challenge will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, up to $1 million. Drovers Magazine Editorial Director Greg Henderson explains how it came about...
 
                           
 
While the ag community rallied to deliver hay and other in-kind contributions, the long-term job of rebuilding is really just beginning. Henderson says there are several ways to make donations.
 
 
The money collected thru this drive will go toward fencing.
 
                   
 
All donations will be administered through the Working Ranch Cowboys Association, a respected national nonprofit dedicated to assisting working ranch cowboys and their families in times of need. To Learn More, visit www.WildFireReliefFund.org special website to help you track wildfire relief efforts and keep up to date on the ranchers’ continuing story.

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AFBF WELCOMES CONFIRMATION OF USDA SECRETARY PERDUE

The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes the confirmation and swearing in of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. AFBF public policy executive director Dale Moore says with the confirmation and swearing in of Perdue, agriculture now has a voice in the new administration.
 
             
 
Moore says one of the first things for Agriculture Secretary Perdue is meeting with President Donald Trump and a group of farmers at the White House, including AFBF President Zippy Duvall.
 
                      
 
Perdue told USDA employees Tuesday that trade will be a top priority of the department. Moore says this echoes the priorities of AFBF.
 
 
That’s AFBF’s Dale Moore.

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State of Illinois Owes Blue Ridge Schools $600,000

The Blue Ridge Board of Education meeting last week was highlighted by budget talks as the third quarter of the school's fiscal year winds down.
 
Superintendent Susan Wilson indicates the State of Illinois now owes them $600-thousand and things are delayed and things don't seem to be getting any better.
 
 
The lack of funding from the State forced Blue Ridge Schools to move $200-thousand from their savings to the tranpsortation fund. Wilson calls it an actual hardship on the district.
 
 
According to Wilson, projecting finances is very difficult but as of right now, it looks as though the district might have to dip into their reserves. She explains there is a couple of initiatives in Springfield that could impact their reserves even further.
 
 
Wilson continues to be frustrated the state touts fully funding education but not adjusting the cost of educating students in almost a decade. She also notes when categorical payments are behind and only one will be received in 2017, it is very frustrating. 

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Miller Park Zoo Ready To Close Books On Another Record Breaking Year

A Bloomington/Normal entity is getting ready to close the books on another record breaking year.
 
Administrators at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington have continued to be pleasantly surprised by the continued record turnout for the Zoo after they set an attendance record last year. Superintendent Jay Tetzloff says they could end the year with over 120,000.
 
 
According to Tetzloff, the record breaking year of 2016 was great, but he wondered if even adding flamingos would be enough for the zoo to rebound and meet the five-percent attendance spike they anticipated in their master plan.
 
 
Tetzloff also serves as the Bloomington Parks Director and says most of the areas of their parks system is up in attendance and participation. 

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LaHood, Trump Differ on Trade

Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood and President Trump are not on the same page when it comes to trade. LaHood says NAFTA should be tweaked, but not scrapped.
 
 
And the Dunlap Republican believes the Trans-Pacific Partnership could have worked.
 
 
LaHood serves on both the US-China and US-Cuba working groups. 

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LaHood Ready For Tax Reform

Central Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood is ready for comprehensive tax reform and that includes doing away with the “death tax”.
 
 
And LaHood says the Republican led House plan also calls for reducing the corporate tax rate from 35-percent to 20-percent.
 
 
On the personal side, the plan would reduce seven tax brackets down to three. The Trump administration wants to cut the corporate tax rate to 15-percent. 

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Durbin Weighs in On Trump Tax Code Changes

Senator Dick Durbin is weighing in on President Trump's tax ‘proposal’. 
 
For starters, in a statement the word proposal is placed in quotation marks. 
Durbin's statement called for sunlight on Trump's financial life.
 
"President Trump should release his own tax returns if he wants to have any credibility in a debate about America’s tax code. Let’s be clear, his ‘plan’ would add dramatically to the national deficit to fund a massive tax giveaway to corporations and millionaires."

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Duckworth Addresses Senate

Illinois Junior Senator Tammy Duckworth has delivered her first speech on the Senate Floor. Duckworth told her colleagues America’s Prosperity & Strength Depend On Our Values. One of the values she focused on was infrastructure.
 
 
While some of the themes are common with familiar complaints of President Trump, Duckworth begs to differ with Trump on other issues.
 
 
Duckworth told fellow Senators “The calls for bigger walls and closed doors… run counter to our society’s shared value for inclusion over exclusion.”

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Chicago Treasurer Summers Won't Run For Governor, Endorses Pritzker

Serving as Chicago Treasurer, Kurt Summers knows a thing or two about big amounts of money. 
 
With indications next year's race for Governor will be the most expensive ever, Summers has opted not to enter the race. 
 
Summers instead is endorsing Billionaire JB Pritzker for Governor. 
 
Four Chicago aldermen also turned out for a press event to announce their support for Pritzker.

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Clinton Board of Education Reshuffles

The Clinton Board of Education welcomed three new Board members Tuesday night at their monthly meeting, bringing with it new leadership.
Following the early April election, Cole Ritter, Chris Hammer and Dan Matthews were sworn in as new Board members. 
 
Mike Walker was appointed and confirmed as the new School Board President. Rodney Rodgers is the new Board Vice President and Matthews the new Board treasurer.
 
The Board discussed the committee assignments and Walker proposed forming an athletic committee that would include members from the Board and athletic director Barry Gurvey. Superintendent Curt Nettles encouraged the Board to understand the purpose of any committee they may form. 
 
 
The Board put off making committee assignments until the May meeting. 
 
Also at the Tuesday night meeting:
 
>>The Board put on file the amendments made to the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

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Camp Osage Gets a New Camp Director

With summer fast approaching, finding your children something to do during the day is becoming a priority. The YMCA has a possible solution in the form of Camp Osage.
 
Mike Lovett was introduced at the Rotary Meeting on Tuesday as the new Camp Director for Camp Osage and he's full of ideas for summer activities.
 
 
If your child doesn't appreciate the great outdoors or is more interested in indoor activities, those will also be offered.
 
 
Rennie Cluver added that you are able to pick and choose which weeks or days you would like to participate and there are scholarships and discounts available for eligible parties.
 
 
It is a day camp starting at 8:30 AM and going until 4 PM. If you need to drop your child off earlier or pick them up later, there is pre- and after care.

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Senator Rose Versus the Government Machine

Senator Chapin Rose condemned Democrats, Obama Care and Socialism for squashing the middle class and creating an entire class of people who depend on government aid to live last week after the special joint hearing between the Senate and House Appropriations committees.
 
Dependency on the government and politicians seems to catch most of the senator's contempt, claiming that it destroys creativity, innovation and problem solving.
 
 
Rose calls this dependency perpetuated by the government an "evil philosophy." And while welfare is not inherently bad certain parts of it enable some members of society.
 
 
The government machine is designed to protect itself in perpetuity and therefore represents the very enemy of liberty, personal freedom and individual responsibility.
 
 
 
He claims that the continued talks of the legalization of marijuana bolsters the Democratic party and maintains the political machine.

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Reverend Jackson Hopes for Summit on Budget

During Tuesday's women's march on Springfield, Reverend Jesse Jackson tackled a number of issues during his time at the podium at the State Capitol steps.
 
On the biggest issue plaguing the state, the lack of a budget for two years, Jackson wants to bring the key players together.
 
 
Rauner was out of town during the rally. Senate President John Cullerton said the Governor needs to get off of the campaign trail and return to Springfield to get budget talks moving forward. 

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Plenty of Rain Coming to Central Illinois

Rain gauges throughout Illinois will be getting a good workout over the next several days. 
 
A system will be moving through the state Wednesday with another one behind it for the weekend says State Climatologist Jim Angel. 
 
 
As far as temperatures are concerned, Angel says Illinois is about five-and-half degrees above normal for the month of April. 

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Illinois Gets $16-Million Grant To Fight Opioid Crisis

THE STATE IS RECEIVING 16 MILLION DOLLARS IN FEDERAL FUNDING TO HELP FIGHT THE OPIOID CRISIS. 
 
ILLINOIS HAS SEEN A NOTABLE INCREASE IN DRUG OVERDOSE DEATHS IN RECENT YEARS…PARTICULARLY WITH OPIOIDS LIKE HEROIN AND OXYCONTIN. STATE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES SPOKESPERSON MEREDITH KRANTZ SAYS THE MONEY WILL BE USED TO COMBAT THE PROBLEM FROM SEVERAL ANGLES INCLUDING...
 
 
THE MONEY WILL BE USED TO SUPPORT NEW TREATMENT AND RECOVERY SERVICES AND TO SET UP A NEW OPIOID CRISIS HOTLINE
 
 
THE FUNDING COMES FROM THE 21ST CENTURY CURES ACT WHICH INCLUDES ABOUT A BILLION DOLLARS FOR STATES OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS TO BATTLE OPIOID ABUSE.
 
FUNDS WILL ALSO GO TOWARDS MORE TRAINING FOR FIRST RESPONDERS IN DEALING WITH OPIOID OVERDOSES…AND ESTABLISHING A NEW OPIOID CRISIS HOTLINE.

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Illinois Democrats Apply Pressure Over Abortion Rights

Democrats in the Illinois House are putting pressure on the Governor after they passed an abortion rights bill. 
 
The near party line vote takes the steps to keep access to abortions if roe-v-wade is ever overturned. State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz says the bill grants the option of choice to women no matter who provides them insurance or if they are on Medicaid. 
 
 
The bill is expected to past the Senate but is going to be vetoed by the Governor. Supporters then would need to find enough votes to override Bruce Rauner’s veto pen. 

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High School Fishing Teams Increasing in Illinois

There are now 271 high school bass fishing teams in Illinois and the IHSA will crown its ninth state champion in the sport next month.
 
 
The IHSA’s Kurt Gibson says the first state tournament series in bass fishing was offered in 2009 with 199 member schools participating.
 
 
Sectionals take place throughout the state on May 5th with the state bass fishing championship decided on May 20th at Carlyle Lake. 

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Durbin: No Wall, Fund Healthcare

A Friday deadline is looming in Washington D.C. to keep funds flowing to government agencies. 
 
US Senator Dick Durbin says that the message from Democrats is clear, stay away from funding a boarder wall and make sure Americans keep their health care funding.
 
 
The President has appeared to back away from finding funding for the board wall in the current government spending plan.

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Ameren Promoting Small Business Incentive Programs

Ameren Illinois reminding small businesses to take advantage of the utility’s energy efficiency incentive programs. 
 
Businesses spend on average each year 30-percent of their total expenses on energy says Ameren’s Michelle Hibbard—and there are savings to be had.
 
 
She says an easy way to pick up initial savings is through lighting.
 
 
More information on energy efficiency incentives for both business and residential customers is available at “actonenergy.com”. 

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DeWitt County Animal Shelter Needs New HVAC Units, To Get Paved Parking Lot

The DeWitt County Animal Shelter needs new heating and air conditioning units and will be surveyed soon for a new parking lot.
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg explains after nearly a year in the new facility, administrators for DeWitt County Animal control say the units are not working properly so they are getting replaced at no cost.
 
 
The determination is the facility would best be served by rooftop units, however, there is no way to mount the units on the roof, so they will sit outside the building. Newberg explains this is where the concrete work for the facility starts to come into play.
 
 
When the contractor surveys the land for the air conditioning units, they will also survey for a parking lot for the animal shelter and the adjacent EMS facility. Newberg says both need parking lots.
 
 
There was some contention at last Thursday's DeWitt County Board meeting over the cost of the project. There were no estimates on the work to be done so the Board decided on $5000 to dedicate to getting things at least started. 

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Cerro Gordo Schools Ready For Next Step in Facilities Upgrades

A Piatt County School district is wrapping up the celebration stage and is on to the next step after the community approved a huge project for their facilities.
 
Cerro Gordo Schools had a referendum approved for roughly an $8-million upgrade to their campus. Superintendent Brett Robinson says the project will be a connecting addition to their buildings.
 
 
Robinson indicates a lot of work went into the plans for the additions they have planned. He explains they are combining the work with some health life safety improvements they need to make.
 
 
Cerro Gordo schools are able to tap into the one-cent sales tax funds, but Robinson indicates that money will likely not be a part of this project. He explains they will continue to use it for their smaller projects and to lessen the tax burden on their landowners.
 
 
Robinson indicates they still need to meet with their architects to map out a timeline of when things will get started but they had hoped to go out for bid in early 2018 with ground breaking to begin in spring of 2018. 

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Weekly Crop Report

PRODUCERS HAVE MADE SOME NICE HEADWAY PLANTING CORN OVER THE PAST WEEK.
 
THERE WAS AN AVERAGE OF NEARLY FIVE DAYS AVAILABLE FOR FIELDWORK LAST WEEK…AND RAINFALL WAS BELOW NORMAL. CORN PLANTING SURGED AHEAD LAST WEEK…AND IS NOW 34 PERCENT COMPLETE SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
FOUR PERCENT OF SOYBEANS AND ONE PERCENT OF SORGHUM HAS BEEN PLANTED. 
 
 
28 PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP HAS HEADED. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE DECLINED TO SIX PERCENT SHORT…86 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND EIGHT PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Momentum Building For Evidenced Based School Funding Approach

Momentum building for an evidence based school funding formula. 
 
First year State Representative Tony McCombie of Savanna is supporting the cause. She held a joint press conference with superintendents from the northwest Illinois area on Thursday. 
 
 
The approach is being pushed by State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington and is the result of the Governor’s Education Funding Task Force. The group completed its work earlier this year. 
 
McCombie says the evidence based system determines a funding target for each district, and then takes into account funding inadequacies. She adds the state would then fund the difference between the targeted funding and the local capacity. 

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LaHood Feels Trump Foreign Policy on Right Page

Congressman Darin LaHood is on board with the Trump Administration's handling of crises in two trouble spots, North Korea and Syria. 
 
Lahood credits Trump with assembling the right team at the right time on military matters.
 
 
LaHood directs his praise at Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

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Governor Says Lawmakers Close on Another Budget

Lawmakers in Springfield are back to work this week. 
 
If this was a typical time around the Capitol the final touches would be put on the state budget. But this is anything by normal as the state pushes towards a third year without a comprehensive spending plan. Governor Bruce Rauner says that he hears the Senate is getting close to another balanced budget.
 
 
Many place the blame right at Rauner for blowing up the Senate’s last attempt at a grand bargain budget earlier this year. 

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Farmers Should Have Conversations About Crop Still in Bin

As farmers push forward with spring planting, what should they be doing about crop still in the bin? 
 
That’s one of the questions producers should be thinking about while on the planter.
 
 
And Jeff Adkisson with the Grain & Feed Association of Illinois says now is a good time as any to have those discussions with the merchandiser at the local elevator.
 
 
Corn is already starting to emerge in areas south of Springfield. 

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Careful Stewardship Needed

Illinois farmers have some new tools to protect crops from pesky, herbicide-resistant weeds this year. 
 
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has given a two-year window for some farmers to use soybean seed resistant to the herbicide known as dicamba. That means farmers can use it to kill weeds while the soybeans keep growing. 
 
The Senior Director of Commodities with Illinois Farm Bureau, Tamara Nelsen, says the new products provide benefits, but also require careful stewardship;
 
 
A murder took place in Arkansas last year over alleged illegal use of an old formulation of the herbicide that wafted into a neighbors field. Nelsen is not expecting that to happen here;
 
 
The Farm Bureau has what it calls a one-stop-online-shop with more information. You can find it at www.ilfb.org/steward.

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Animal Feed Subject To Food Modernization Act Requirements

Agri-business interests are gathering in St. Louis this week to discuss the Food Safety Modernization Act. 
 
Not only does the 2011 law impact human food, but animal feed as well says Jeff Adkisson with the Grain & Feed Association of Illinois.
 
 
The Grain & Feed Association of Illinois is partnering with the Missouri Agribusiness Association and the Missouri Department of Agriculture to offer training to meet PCQI requirement this week at the Marriott St. Louis West. 

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Clinton Chief of Police Discusses National Distracted Driving Week

Distracted driving has taken many forms over the decades and in today's world, distracted driving can range from fixing your hair to sending a picture of your latest dew to your friends on your phone.
 
That's why on this inaugural Distracted Driving Week in Illinois, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says it is important everyone make a conscious effort to start putting the cell phones away while we're behind the wheel.
 
 
While many accidents are caused from distracted driving, there's many more close calls because of distracted driving. He is pushing for parents to set good examples for their children while driving.
 
 
Chief Lowers encourages smart phone users to explore settings on your messaging app or find an app that will automatically respond to messages incoming. He says the brain power and focus significantly decline when you have your phone out while driving.
 
 
Taking your pets on trips, short and long, makes the ride more enjoyable but Chief Lowers says your pet could become a distraction. He also notes there are laws in place to keep young drivers from the distractions of driving early on behind the wheel.
 
 
When taking off on a trip where you'll need to use a GPS unit or the GPS app on your phone, Chief Lowers encourages becoming familiar with the route of travel before you leave, especially if you're driving alone. He says continuously checking that GPS unit or your phone is a distraction.
 
If on a trip with family or friends, have the person in the passenger seat check on your messages and take any phone calls that may be incoming if you keep the phone on. 

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County Board To Further Investigate Potential Energy Upgrades at County Building

The County Board last Thursday night heard from representatives from Smart Watt, a company specializing in helping businesses and entities be more energy efficient.
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg indicates the idea sounds good, and the County could save quite a bit of money over the life of the improvements, it would be something they need to explore and learn more about.
 
 
Newberg wants to know how this would impact the budget. He explains while there might be several projects targeted, the County Board could decide to only tackle one or two at a time until they get the money for the rest.
 
 
According to Newberg, this project is not a necessity nor is it urgent. He feels this needs a close look because there are some parts of the County Building that have been updated in recent years.
 
 
Newberg says the company has not yet done any inspections of the building to this point and when they do, would be at no cost to the County. 
 
The County Board could decide the future of any partnership with Smart Watt at their meeting next month. 

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Joint Hearing Over the Legalization of Marijuana Fires Up Local Lawmaker

A special joint hearing between the Senate and House Appropriations committees was held last Wednesday in Chicago to discuss the legalization of marijuana in the state of Illinois.
 
In an interview heard on our WHOW Morning Show on 4/20, a day recognized around the world as a celebration of the most notorious cannabinoid, Senator Chapin Rose made his feelings known about prioritizing the highly debated legalization of marijuana over the need to hammer out a budget for the state.
 
 
The House did come up with a life-line budget which would fund some services for a few months, but Rose was not impressed.
 
 
The senator had three welfare reform bills, for which he was called "mean spirited," killed in subcommittee. Two of these bills were drug related.
 
 
No voting took place at the joint hearing.

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DNR To Investigate Abandoned DeWitt County Railway Route For Potential Trail

An abandoned rail line in the Farmer City area of northeast DeWitt County is the subject of a study to be done by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to see if a possible walking/hiking/biking trail is possible.
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg indicates the line connects between McLean County and Piatt County and could be the target of a multi purpose path for recreation.
 
Other efforts like this have recently cropped up in DeWitt County in recent years. The City Council has done preliminary work on a path out to Weldon Springs that could turn into something that would run through Clinton. 

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National Social Security Month

April is National Social Security Month and now is the perfect time to get started managing your social security.
 
Jack Myers is reaching out to spread awareness and encourages young people to think about how social security figures into their futures. Social Security is not exclusively there for retirement purposes, but can benefit you when times are tough.
 
 
There are five steps that he recommends you go through to secure today and tomorrow for you and your loved ones. From understanding your social security to managing your benefits.
 
 
To learn more or create a my Social Security account go to socialsecurity.gov or give them a call at 800-772-1213.

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U.S. Ag Secretary Position Just One Of Hundreds Of USDA Vacancies

The Trump Administration could finally have a Secretary of Agriculture in place as early as next week, however one commodity group suggests that's just the beginning of work to be done.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster, Jared White, has more....
 

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AFBF LAUNCHES MARKET INTEL WEBPAGE

The American Farm Bureau Federation this month launched a Market Intel webpage, featuring market analysis and information. AFBF market intelligence director John Newton says the analysis pieces will help farmers and ranchers make key decisions for their businesses.
 
                  
 
Newton says the reports will cover a variety of topics important to farmers and ranchers.
 
 
Newton says AFBF expert economists will contribute regularly to the Market Intel section.
 
 
You can find the AFBF market intel reports online at www.fb.org/marketintel.

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Unemployment Down in March But Losing Jobs

THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FELL BELOW FIVE PERCENT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A DECADE LAST MONTH. 
 
THE MARCH JOBLESS RATE CAME IN AT FOUR POINT NINE PERCENT, DOWN A HALF A POINT FROM THE PREVIOUS MONTH. BUT STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH SAYS THERE WERE ALSO 89-HUNDRED JOBS LOST IN MARCH.
 
 
THE BIGGEST JOB LOSSES LAST MONTH WERE SEEN IN CONSTRUCTION…AND THE PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES INDUSTRY.
 
 
THE BIGGEST JOB GAINS IN MARCH WERE SEEN IN THE LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY SECTOR.

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State, Federal Lawmakers Fighting For Route 66

Congressmen Rodney Davis, Darin LaHood and State Representative Tim Butler toured Route 66 communities in Central Illinois Wednesday. 
 
Davis talks about federal legislation preparing for the 100th Anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.
 
 
Davis referred to State Representative Avery Bourne who joined Davis earlier in the week for another Route 66 tour. Butler introduced legislation establishing a state Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission.

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Mendoza Attacks Rauner on Balanced Budget Claims

The odds of Comptroller Susana Mendoza making the cut on the Rauner family greeting card list shrink by the day. 
 
Mendoza continues to call for Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to reach a budget agreement before the state gets hit with additional credit downgrades. She continues to make hay out of analysis from a political website on Rauner's claims he he has delivered a balanced budget proposal.
 
 
Some analysts maintain the Governor provided a budget that would be balanced if certain conditions were met.

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Farmers Shouldn't Worry Too Much Yet

Farmers have been a bit worried about getting into the field because of rains throughout the Midwest. It looks like those will clear out for the week, mostly, and even if they don't, there isn't much to worry about, yet.
 
Farmers have been itching to go to the field. They want to plant corn in the Midwest. There's also some rumblings about delayed planting. That's a little hard to swallow in mid-April says University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs…tape
 
        
 
Hubbs is an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois. He's looked at the stats and the historical record. He says it is pretty concise…tape
 
          
 
It's a correlation that won't happen for about a month if it happens at all…tape
 
             
 
That’s University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs.

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Davis Supporting Trump Over Foreign Policy Moves

It's a jittery time in America with talk of growing nuclear capability for North Korea. 
 
Congressman Rodney Davis says President Trump is on target with recent moves involving the world's two biggest hot spots of the moment.
 
 
Davis says swift action by President Trump and the military after Syria's chemical attack on civilians sent a clear message to the world that America will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. 

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Animal Rights Groups Want Dead Animal Payments Stopped

The Humane Farming Association is once again attempting to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop payments to livestock farmers when their animals are unsheltered and die as a result of bad weather. 
 
Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says the group has sent a petition to Sonny Perdue ahead of his confirmation as Ag Secretary. Severe storms and heat have hit poultry and livestock hard in recent years. 
 
As an example, winter storm Goliath killed roughly 40,000 dairy cows in Texas and New Mexico in 2015 and 2016. The Livestock Indemnity Program paid out more than $134 million to cover the deaths of 2.5 million poultry and 200,000 livestock from 2013-2015. 
 
The group thinks the USDA is giving out the money to compensate producers without requiring them to provide shelter and shade for their animals. The HFA says in its petition, “It’s a disincentive to farmers and ranchers to take necessary steps to provide their livestock with adequate means of protection from bad weather.” 
 
The group filed a similar petition in May of last year that didn’t get the response they were hoping for.

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Possible Energy Saving Plan for DeWitt County

A plan to save energy and money is in the works for DeWitt County.
 
Orry Cummings from Smart Watt made a case for the energy optimizing company at the County Board Meeting Thursday evening. It offers energy solutions from commercial and industrial enterprises to budget conscious small businesses.
 
 
No project is too small for Smart Watt to take on, but the cost benefits are substantial.
 
The initial feasibility assessment done by the company would save the county 1.2 million dollars over a 20 year period.
 
 
The County Board will vote on whether or not to participate in Smart Watt next month.

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DeWitt County TRIAD Focusing on Seniors With Alzheimer's

A local group who's aim is to help seniors remain safe through the challenges they face has recently begun to focus on those with Alzheimer's Disease.
 
DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner and his office has been instrumental in the group's viability in DeWitt County and indicates the Alzheimer's Association has recently come forward as new partner in their effort.
 
 
The two entities are stepping up to help families with a loved one that might wander off, to have a GPS unit on them and they can be found and minimize the worry and fear.
 
 
 A local partner has also emerged for TRIAD and that would be Warner Hospital and Health Services. Shofner indicates their group is all about partnerships because none of their funding comes from tax-payer dollars.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner says the best way to get more information about the TRIAD program and the things they have going on is to contact his office at 217-935-9507. They are also on Facebook.

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Maroa-Forsyth Schools in Midst of PARCC Testing

Area schools are in the midst of the standardized tesing season for their students and schools and the state seem to be hitting their stride with the latest standardized tests that around three years old.
 
Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools, Mike Williams says the challenges of the first few years of the common core curriculum and it's PARCC standardized testing seem to be in the rear view mirror.
 
 
The first year of the testing, the window to administer the tests was more open than it is now. He says the State of Illinois essentially gives schools a window of the month of April to get the tests done.
 
 
While standardized testing is a part of the educational process and evaluation of schools from a State level, many school leaders contend it takes away too much time from the classroom and some material in the assessments may not have been covered yet in ther curriculum.
 
 
While things continue to get better, Williams believes there still room to improve. 

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One Injury After Fire At Lincoln Auto Body Shop

A Lincoln man is injured after Treu Body Works in Lincoln caught fire yesterday morning.
 
The employee of Treu Body Works on North Kickapoo Street in Lincoln was the only employee in the building at the time of the fire and was transported to a Springfield burn unit by Logan County Paramedics. 
 
The identity of the man has not been released. 
 
Lincoln Fire, Lincoln Rural Fire Protection District and Atlanta Fire Departments were on scene. A firefighter was sent to the hospital for precautionary reasons. 
 
An investigation of the incident is underway. 

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Peoria Lawmaker Forms Ag Advisory Committee

A Peoria area state lawmaker has formed an Agriculture Advisory Committee. State Senator Chuck Weaver’s 37th District includes ten counties—and each county has one representative on the committee.
 
 
Livestock farmer Becky King represents Knox County on the committee….
 
 
The committee also includes representatives from Henry, Mercer, Bureau, Marshall, Stark, Peoria, LaSalle, Woodford and Lee Counties. 

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Hopes For Budget Compromise Remain Slim

State lawmakers have a little over a month to put together a budget deal. But the prospects for a compromise aren’t too promising says Kevin Semlow—Director of State Legislation for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
And Semlow says the debate continues to be “make cuts” or “raise taxes”.
 
 
State lawmakers return from a two-week break next Monday and will be in session through the end of May. 

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Governor Moving

Governor Bruce Rauner is moving. 
 
The move is connected to the repair and renovation of the Governor’s mansion in Springfield. So that has Rauner shifting residences to the state fairgrounds where he will now live in the house that’s for the state’s director of Agriculture. 
 
 
The work on the Governor’s mansion is expected to last about year and cost about $15 million. The repairs are being funded by private donations. 

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30,000 Gallon LP Tank Struck By Lightning in Western Illinois

A 30,000 gallon LP tank hit by lightning in western Illinois. It happened Wednesday morning as a storm rolled through the Gold Star FS plant—east of Aledo. Aledo Fire Chief Dennis Litwiler says thankfully, there were no injuries or major damage.
 
 
A portion of Illinois Route 17 was shut down for two hours as emergency responders handled the situation. The lightning strike caused a pressure relief valve to release and Litwiler says there’s no way to shut that off without emptying the tank. 

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Illinois Hears From Colorado Official on Legalized Pot

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE GETTING ADVICE ON LEGALIZING RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA FROM A COLORADO OFFICIAL. 
 
COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BARBARA BROHL SAYS THEIR STATE HAS COLLECTED NEARLY 402 MILLION DOLLARS IN TAX REVENUE FROM RECREATIONAL POT.
 
 
TAX REVENUE ALSO PAYS FOR YOUTH PREVENTION PROGRAMS, SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT AND SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION. BROHL ALSO DISCUSSED SETTING STANDARDS FOR HOW MUCH MARIJUANA CAN BE IN YOUR SYSTEM WHILE DRIVING, AND EDUCATING THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF CANNABIS AND HOW THEY AFFECT THE BODY.
 
 
BROHL SAYS COLORADO HAS COLLECTED NEARLY 402 MILLION DOLLARS IN TAX REVENUE FROM RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA.

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Midland Institute Promotes CEO Program At Latest Rotary Program

The Midland Institute is scouring the Clinton community with their message about their hope to bring their CEO program to the community.
 
Cheryl Mitchell with the Institute presented Wednesday to the Clinton Rotary Club. The group hopes to begin a program in Clinton Schools, and possibly coordinated with other districts, to introduce high school students to the business community. Mitchell says it brings school and business together in a way no other program does. 
 
 
Mitchell explains, the Midland Institute helps communities put together the program so they can get it started and then sustain it. She emphasizes it is not a school-funded program, but rather, an investment from the community.
 
 
The students who participate in the CEO program will meet for 90 minutes a day at various business locations across the community. Mitchell explains the students start their own businesses, a for-profit business.
 
 
According to Mitchell, the point of the program is to open up the world of opportunity for students in their own community and to give them a reason to stay in their hometown and build a business. 
 
To learn more about becoming an investor in the program or how you can help out, contact Curt Nettles at Clinton Schools by calling 217-935-8321. 

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Monticello Schools Revisiting Facilities Future

After two failed referendums and no resolution on the future of their facilities, a local school district has begun to revisit what they will do moving forward. 
 
Monticello Schools are facing dealing with school buildings that are either 100 years old or close to it. With that in mind, Dr. Vic Zimmerman, Superintendent of Monticello Schools says they are investigating what they need to do to bring their current facilities up to 21st century learning standards with a new committee.
 
 
Dr. Zimmerman says their aging buildings have many challenges when discussing educating students in 2017. He explains the rooms are small and the infrastructure is not at the level they need.
 
 
Dr. Zimmerman believes the community wants improved facilities, but is not sure they've presented the right plan yet.
 
 
A new facility isn't 100-percent out of the question in the future for Monticello Schools but the Superintendent indicates it is something he feels the Board of Education might be hesitant to try out again. 

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Experts Urge Safe Rural Travel This Spring

Although the 2017 planting season has gotten off to a slow start in Illinois, it won't be long before farmers will be hitting it hard and heavy.  That of course means big machinery on rural roadways.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more on what you should be on the lookout for this spring:

 

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Warm Up Then Cool Down in Illinois

Some warm temperatures for much of Illinois in the middle portion of this week with readings in the 70’s and 80’, but that will change moving toward the weekend. 
 
Meteorologist Eric Schmidt is with EJS Weather in Newton.
 
 
Schmidt also discusses the late April, early May weather predictions right now.
 
 
Schmidt anticipates more wet weather for Saturday for much of central and southern Illinois.

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Blagojevich Seeking Resentencing

Attorneys for former Governor Rod Blagojevich are once again seeking to cut his fourteen year prison term. 
 
Blagojevich's attorneys argued today (Tuesday) before the Chicago based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Democrat's record of good behavior since entering prison five years ago calls for a shortened sentence. 
 
Prosecutors object to the request, noting Blagojevich has never admitted committing major crimes.
 
The three-judge panel will rule in the coming months.

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Pritzker Talks Impacts of Lack of Budget

Democratic gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker visited with representatives of the Illinois Coalition for Community Services at Springfield's Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church to discuss the impact of a lack of a state budget. 
 
Pritzker said Governor Rauner's turnaround agenda isn't turning around the state's fortunes.
 
 
While House Speaker Mike Madigan is absorbing much of the blame, Pritzker says Madigan has a track record of getting budgets done when the Governor isn't with the same party.
 
 
Illinois Coalition for Community Services provides programs for youth in need at the church. 

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Action on Livestock Management Faciltiies Act on Hold

Action on amending the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act is on hold for now. 
 
Although the legislation was announced earlier this year, movement has stalled at this time says Bill Bodine the associate director of state legislation for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
Bodine says the legislation is not dead it’s just likely being fine-tuned by Koehler before being brought back to committee. 
 
The Illinois General Assembly returns to session next week. 

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City Budgets Looking Good

The Fiscal Year 2018 budgets for the City of Clinton and it's Warner Hospital and Health Services look strong, though each face some unknowns.
 
According to CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, Paul Skowron, the Hospital expects a year end revenue in the black at around $250-thousand. 
 
 
Skowron indicates expenses total around $17.5-million with over half that coming from salary and benefits. He notes the rise includes the expansion at the Family Medicine facility.
 
 
Skowron also notes they are adding 3D mammography this year thanks largely to donations. They are adding additional generator power and roof repairs in their capital budget.
 
 
Despite the woes from the State of Illinois, the State's payments to the City have been on time. City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter indicates they are keeping an eye on the property freeze legislation.
 
 
Lichtenwalter is reporting only small revenue growth and small sales tax growth.
 
 
The City Council approved the Fiscal Year 2018 budget Monday night at the regular City Council meeting. 

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Weekly Crop Report

CORN PLANTING PICKED UP A BIT AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT. 
 
WITH UNDER THREE DAYS ON AVERAGE AVAILABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK…PRODUCERS ARE A LITTLE BEHIND LAST YEAR’S PLANTING SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
SCHLEUSENER SAYS 57 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN PLANTED AND THREE PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED.
 
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE FELL A BIT…AND NOW STANDS AT FOUR PERCENT SHORT…77 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 19 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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State Fair Announces More Grandstand Acts

The Illinois State Fair is expanding its grandstand lineup. 
 
State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon says a longtime country legend is joining the mix with the help of some friends.
 
 
Popular acappella group Pentatonix has also been added August 12th. Classic rockers Foghat will play a free concert on the opening night of the fiar August 10th. 
 
There will be a hush all over the fairgrounds august 14th as former Herman Hermits frontman Peter Noone will perform a free show. 
 
On August 18th, Montgomery Gentry will team up with The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and the Outlaws for the Southern Uprising Tour. 
 
August 15th is the lone remaning open date. Tickets for all shows will go on sale April 29th through www.ticketmaster.com.

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Springfield Native's Company Scores Big on Shark Tank

A Springfield native swims with the sharks on ABC and walks away with a boost to his company. 
 
Springfield High Grad Adam Havey's company was successful in getting an investment from Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank to help boost his Guard Llama personal security app and device. It allows a user to contact police without having to call 911. 
 
Havey and his co-founder partner were hoping to get 100-thousand dollars in exchange for a 5 percent stake in the company, but Corcoran gave Guard Llama a 100-thousand dollar loan in exchange for an 18 percent stake in the company. 
 
Havey did not appear on the episode. 
 
Corcoran saw potential in the product with her work in real estate, an area where workers often are concerned about personal safety. Havey explains that the mass shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008 and a brutal kidnapping, rape and murder of a woman near campus two years later during his time at NIU inspired his invention.
 
 
Havey says the fledgling company is taking in about 500-thousand dollars a year in revenue and selling about 100 units a week. 

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Solar Energy Companies Seeking Willing Landowners

Farmers throughout Illinois continue to receive letters from solar companies offering cash in exchange for use of their land. And the interest continues to grow, especially during a period of low commodity prices.
 
Garrett Thalgott (THAL guht), an Illinois Farm Bureau attorney, said the number of solar companies looking for land in Illinois has increased in the last year. The number of farmers receiving offer letters has also increased.
 
IFB has held informational meetings in 12 counties throughout the state to explain solar agreements. He says landowners should consult their own attorney to handle details of a lease agreement.
 
 
A landowner may have a less productive area in mind for a solar panel, but Thalgott says solar contracts have some similarities to windmill land use.
 
 
Farmers should also contact the Farm Services Agency if the land is included in a government farm program.

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UPDATED: Mike Walker To Run For Sheriff

The upcoming DeWitt County Sheriff's race has it's first candidate.
 
Former Chief Deputy under Sheriff Jered Shofner, Mike Walker, will be seeking the Republican nomination for DeWitt County Sheriff in March of next year.
 
Walker has been in law enforcement in DeWitt County for 27 years, serving in posts from patrol deputy to most recently as the Chief Deputy to Sheriff Shofner. He says it seems to have been a natural progression to his professional career to run for Sheriff. 
 
 
In a release Monday morning, Walker vows to use tax payer dollars wisely and use his 27-year career in DeWitt County to continue to provide professional law enforcement to the citizen of DeWitt County.
 
 
According to Walker, the top issue facing the Sheriff's office at this point is the heroin problem that has hit close to home in the last few years. He hopes to carry on some efforts started by Sheriff Shofner. 
 
 
Walker says he will continue to work to maintain the professionalism in the Sheriff's Office. He will work hard to continue to finding good people to work in their office. 

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Sheriff Shofner Educating Public on Traffic Stops

One local law enforcement official is encouraging people to watch a viral video about traffic stops.
 
"Lights in the Mirror" is a video produced by the Illinois Sheriffs' Association in conjunction with the FBI, and the Chief of Police Association about what to do in a traffic stop. DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner indicates while the video is directed towards teen drivers, it is beneficial for all drivers to review.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner says the best thing to do during a traffic stop is to have a positive attitude. Law enforcement officials try to correct adult driving behavior with traffic stops. A person's attitude during a stop could determine whether or not a citation is issued.
 
 
The video also covers how to properly take up a grievance with an officer. Sheriff Shofner explains grievances should be directed towards the police department.
 
 
It is important to keep your hands on the steering wheel during a traffic stop and the Sheriff notes if you get pulled over, turn on your dome light as the officer approaches your vehicle.
 
 
To view "Lights in the Mirror" visit the DeWitt County Sheriff website or Facebook page, illinoissheriffs.org, or YouTube.

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