Local News

DeWitt County Board Approves Two ZBA Recommendations, Rejects Tower Height Recommendation

It is rare the DeWitt County Board goes against the Zoning Board of Appeals but that is what happened with one wind energy ordinance Thursday night at the DeWitt County Board meeting. 
 
A recommendation passed for wind farms near corporate villages or municipalities within one and a half miles must get approval from that village or municipality before being erected. 
 
A setback distance of 2000 feet also passed as did a decommissioning plan that includes an agreement between the landowner and the County that appropriate funds will be available in an escrow account and be reviewed every three years. 
 
The Board rejected the recommendation to limit the tower height to 499 feet. Terry Ferguson called out Tradewind Energy for not giving reasons for why they opposed the limitation. He felt the RPC and ZBA did their due diligence as to why the came up with their recommendation.
 
 
Melonie Tilley also believes the RPC and the ZBA did what the Board asked and also called for the support of their recommendation.
 
 
The recommendation needed seven votes to pass and anything short would fail. Here's how the vote played out Thursday night:
 
 
Board member Cole Ritter had recused himself from the action items. 

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Clinton Fire Responds To Early Friday Vacant Structure Fire

Just before 5 am Friday morning, Clinton Fire crews along with officers were dispatched for smoke in the area of Dollar General on Van Buren. 
 
Officers arrived in the area first and a deputy located a house in the 500 block of West south on fire. Crews arrived at the scene of a one-story house with smoke coming from the roof and windows on the first floor and fire from a basement window. 
 
Crews were advised that the house should be vacant. 
 
Crews began an outside attack on the fire through the basement window to know the fire down while another crew made entry and performed a primary search on the first floor.
 
 Due to conditions crews could not search the basement. 
 
Ventilation was performed to give interior crews better visibility and complete the primary search in the basement and finish knocking down the fire primary search was negative. 
 
Another crew then performed a secondary search that was negative. 
 
Crews remained on scene to extinguish hot spots and assist the state fire Marshall in the investigation. 
 
No injuries to citizens or fire personnel. 
 
Crews on scene were Clinton police, DeWitt County Sheriff's deputies, Kenney fire, Wapella fire, Maroa fire, and Red Cross officials and DeWitt County EMS were on the scene. 
 
Waynesville provided station coverage during the incident. 

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Warner Library's Bi-Annual Book Sale This Weekend

The Friends of the Library's bi-annual book sale is this weekend.
 
Warner Library Director, Bobbi Perryman, indicates they do the sale in spring and the fall and this Saturday is their first for 2018, giving the community the opportunity to support the library through purchasing books but also movies on DVD and blue-ray.
 
 
Saturday at the sale, all bags of books are one dollar. 
 
Be a part of the book sale from 9 am to 4 pm Friday and then 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday at the Library at 310 North Quincy Street. 

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Clinton Schools To Implement Early Dismissals in 2018-19 For Teacher Development

Starting next year, Clinton Schools will be implementing early dismissals for the purposes of teacher development.
 
In the three years at Clinton Schools, Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles says they haven't had early dismissals but they plan to introduce six next year.
 
 
According to Nettles, the professional development will be very personalized for each teacher to take on what they believe will make them better teachers.
 
 
Parents will receive information from their building principals and Nettles indicates they want parents to be ready for the dates to make arrangements. He also points out they plan to use early dismissals for the final day before Christmas break and spring break. 

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Community Action Discusses Struggles Finding Educators

Community Action's vast service area employs around 130 people in six counties and the biggest portion of those employees are dedicated to the Head Start program.
 
Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez indicates, like school districts, Community Action struggles to find educators for their classrooms. 
 
 
Meeting the Head Start requirements is a challenge for Community Action and Rumler-Gomez indicates it is because of a requirement that has to do with early childhood education.
 
 
To fill the need, Rumler-Gomez says a lot of the support staff they have bounced around and join the classroom to some capacity. 
 
 
For Rumler-Gomez, the challenge is meeting different requirements from the state and federal levels. She points out, they are advocating for a streamlining of those requirements.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez says they have to turn down a lot of quality and qualified candidates because of all the education components. She feels frustrated because they're so desperate to fill the need. 

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Momentum Picking Up Behind Sam McCann

The Governor’s race has another possible candidate this fall. State Senator Sam McCann from Plainview announced today that he will run as a Conservative Party candidate. 
 
 
McCann turned in his resignation from the Senate Republican Caucus today. He and his running mate still need to collect 25,000 signatures to get on the November ballot. 
The Rauner campaign issued the following statement about McCann. “Sam McCann is the worst kind of political opportunist who is only running for Governor to line his own pockets.”
 
McCann picked Veterans’ Rights Activist Aaron Merreighn (Marine) from Riverton as his running mate. 

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Job Numbers Reach 11 Year Lows

Workers are finding more jobs in Illinois. The state’s unemployment rate continues to fall. The Illinois Department of Economic Security says that joblessness now stands at four point six percent. Bob Goff with IDES says the number is significant. 
 
 
Goff says that manufacturing and financial services all picked up more jobs 
than they lost last month.

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Farm Bureau President Talks Issues That Could Impact Midwest

Illinois farmers would just like to get a crop in the ground this spring, meanwhile many national and international issues could affect Midwest agriculture. 
 
One of those is trade and the tariff talks with China. Illinois Farm Bureau president Rich Guebert says they’ve been encouraging trade resolutions instead of tariffs for long term partnerships.
 
 
The US House last week unveiled its farm bill proposal. While SNAP will be fiercely debated, Guebert says there are several initiatives he hopes will not be touched.
 
 
Guebert says there are plenty of state issues they’re tracking, including redistricting, budget talks, and several bills passed through committees that could directly impact agriculture.

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Clinton Junior High School Principal To Transition To Unit Office Role

Clinton Junior High School Principal Drew Goebel will be transitioning to a role in the unit office. 
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles indicates starting July 1, Goebel will be moving to the Unit Office as the district's Director of Business and Support Staff.
 
 
Nettles indicates Goebel received his specialist degree which will allow him to be a superintendent but it also gives him the tools necessary to take on other unit office work.
 
 
Goebel's principal job has been posted and Nettles anticipates that process picking up over the next month. 

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Central Illinois Groups Celebrating Earth Day This Weekend

The celebration of Earth Day is a big deal for local conservation groups and several will have special events this weekend.
 
Richie Wolf is part of the Rock Springs Nature Center part of the Macon County Conservation District. He indicates they have an annual event they will host Saturday for Earth Day and will have the Raptor Center, canoeing, wagon and pony rides.
 
 
Wolf notes there's plenty more and it's a free event from noon until 4 pm. There are small fees for the canoeing and the pony rides. He says Earth Day is also an opportunity to promote conservation and in the morning that day, they will be organizing a clean up of the Sangamon River that runs through the conservation area.
 
 
On Sunday, the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington celebrates Earth Day with their Party for the Planet event. Superintendent Jay Tetzloff says they have plenty for kids and it's part of a huge Earth Day celebration across the country.
 
 
Tetzloff indicates they use the day to promote ways to help conservation and highlighting the animals in their collection.
 
 
Saturday at the Scovill Zoo in Decatur, they will be recognizing National Penguin Day and observe Earth Day with a keeper chat on their Humboldt penguins and discussions about conservation. Their event runs from noon to 4 pm. 

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Macon County Museum Hosting Special Event About Local Baseball

Central Illinois baseball enthusiasts will not want to miss out on a program at the Macon County Museum this weekend.
 
Macon County Museum Director Nathan Pierce explains they are welcoming Millikin Professor Dr. Bob Sampson will talk about the origins of baseball in Illinois.
 
 
Dr. Sampson will talk about how early baseball would see hazards in the field of play, the game originally was spelled as two words, and in Decatur, the game was played near the busiest railroad junction. 
 
The program starts at 1:30 pm at the Macon County Museum located at 5580 North Fork Road on the far east side of Decatur. 

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Southern Illinois Lawmaker Believes New QVH Should Be In Upcoming Bduget

State Senator Andy Manar continues to raise concerns about the Quincy Veterans Home. 
 
He believes the best way to deal with the Legionairre's Disease concerns there would be to start from scratch and he believes finding the money for it should be a priority.
 
 
The Bunker Hill Democrat is seeking a bipartisan solution.
 
 
Last month, Manar called for a formal audit of the Rauner Administration's handling of the Legionnaire's crisis at the Quincy Veterans Home.

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Redistricting Reforms Push On Again In Springfield

PROPONENTS OF REDISTRICTING REFORM ARE PLEADING THEIR CASE AT THE STATE CAPITOL THIS WEEK.
 
THE CLOCK IS TICKING TO GET A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON THE NOVEMBER ELECTION BALLOT…ASKING VOTERS TO HAVE AN INDEPENDENT BOARD DRAW LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT MAPS…NOT CURRENT LAWMAKERS. HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER JIM DURKIN SAYS IT’S TIME TO GET THIS PASSED.
 
 
SENATOR JULIE MORRISON OF DEERFIELD IS SPONSORING A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT INSTITUTING A NEW SYSTEM.
 
 
CRITICS OF THE CURRENT PROCESS SAYS IT’S TIME TO END GERRYMANDERING…WHERE MAPS ARE DRAWN TO GIVE INCUMBENTS THE BEST CHANCE OF STAYING IN OFFICE.

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Legislation Headed To Senate To Allow Parents To Give Students Medical Marijuana At School

PARENTS COULD GIVE THEIR SICK KIDS A DOSE OF PRESCRIBED MEDICAL MARIJUANA AT SCHOOL UNDER A BILL PASSED BY HOUSE LAWMAKERS.
 
THE MEASURE HAS BEEN DUBBED “ASHLEY’S LAW” AFTER AN 11-YEAR OLD GIRL WHO WASN’T ALLOWED TO TAKE MEDICAL CANNABIS FOR HER SEIZURES AT SCHOOL. HER FAMILY LATER SUED THE SCHAUMBURG SCHOOL DISTRICT OVER THE ISSUE. 
 
THE LEGISLATION MAKES SURE PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS CAN ADMINISTER THE MEDICATION ON SCHOOL GROUNDS OR A SCHOOL BUS AND IS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE LOU LANG OF SKOKIE.
 
 
THE LEGISLATION STILL NEEDS TO BE APPROVED BY THE SENATE AND THE GOVERNOR.

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Durbin Concerned Over Potential Guard Use At Border

Senator Dick Durbin used his role as Vice Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to deliver some pointed questions about the President's call for sending National Guard resources to the nation's southwest border. 
 
Dubin expressed concerns about the strain of the potential deployments to General Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard.
 
 
Durbin also maintained the White House doesn't have its legal ducks in a row with the border security plan.
 
 
Durbin said he's concerned the Trump Administration is diverting limited Department of Defense resources to the border to carry out a deportation agenda. 

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Bill Would Bring State Jobs Back To Springfield

A BILL THAT AIMS TO BRING MORE STATE GOVERNMENT JOBS BACK TO SPRINGFIELD PASSED THE ILLINOIS HOUSE WEDNESDAY. 
 
THE LEGISLATION MAKES SANGAMON COUNTY THE DEFAULT LOCATION FOR STATE JOBS, UNLESS THERE IS A SPECIFIC REASON FOR THE POSITION TO BE LOCATED SOMEWHERE ELSE. IT’S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE SARA WOJCICKI-JIMENEZ (woe-jisky-him-en-ez).
 
 
THE MEASURE REQUIRES POSITIONS TO BE SET NEAR THE STATE CAPITOL UNLESS THERE IS A SPECIFIC REASON TO BE LOCATED SOMEWHERE ELSE…LIKE AT A STATE PRISON.
 
 
IF THIS BECOMES LAW…IT WILL NOT APPLY TO CURRENT EMPLOYEES. THE MEASURE, WHICH NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE, ONLY ADDRESSES NEW POSITIONS AND VACANCIES.

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New Casey's General Store Coming To Clinton

A new Casey's General Store is coming to Clinton.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell indicates the former Three Star Restaurant will be demolished and that will become the location for the new gas station.
 
 
According to Followell, the ongoing Ameren project will not interfere with anything. It will just be more construction in a smaller area.
 
 
There's no word on the future of the current Casey's General Store on the east side of the community. 
 

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Ford Giveaway Winner Receives Car in Clinton

Mike Haller from Pekin was the winner of a giveaway from Ford and Tuesday morning received his customized Ford Mustang at Anderson Ford in Clinton.
 
Haller says he is a Ford guy with a fleet of Fords in his family.
 
 
John Chlor, Communications Manager with Ford Performance, says the giveaway targeted their dedicated owners. He says the Ford Mustang Haller won is one of a kind and almost entirely customized.
 
 
Owner of Anderson Ford, Randy Anderson feels giving away the Mustang in Clinton is in line with their passion for the vehicle.
 
 
Tuesday was also National Mustang Day. Chlor explains in 1964 the brand new Mustang was first rolled out at the World's Fair in Flushing, New York. 
 
 
 

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TSB Non Profit Talks Financial Literacy

Next week is Money Smart Week and local financial institutions non-profit arm is promoting what they're doing in Clinton to help people learn how to properly manage money.
 
Connie Unruh leads the TS Institute Financial Literacy program in central Illinois and indicates they've reached out a lot to youth.
 
 
The goal of the Financial Literacy program is to help people become smarter with their money. She says it's all about bettering the communities they serve.
 
 
TS Institute is going to be instrumental in the CEO program at Clinton High School. 
 
Unruh indicates there will be special learning opportunities next Saturday at the Warner Library and they will be holding dedicated learning camps in the community in June aimed at junior high and high school students. 

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Sen. Rose Reacts To Graduated Tax Proposal

Enough with the higher taxes already. 
 
That’s the reaction of one central Illinois lawmaker to proposals to change the way the state levies income taxes. Ray Watt has the story....
 

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Republicans Working To Increase Penalties For Attacking DCFS Workers

Efforts continue to increase the penalties for assaulting DCFS workers. 
 
One attempt has already been made to do just that but it failed. So the bill’s sponsor is renewing her call to make assaulting a DCFS worker in the line of duty the same as attacking a police officer. Republican Representative Tony McCobmie of Savanna is behind the bill.
 
 
Committee Democrats didn’t support the bill because it was a mandatory increase to a prison sentence. But McCobmie has support from both sides of the isle. 

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Patti Blagojevich Makes Appeal To President

Now that legal channels seem to be closed for former Governor Rod Blagojevich to appeal his corruption conviction, his wife took to Fox News to make a direct case for President Trump’s help on a pardon or commutation of his sentence. 
 
Patti Blagojevich told Tucker Carlson this week that her husband is in jail for asking for campaign contributions. Trump knows Blagojevich through an appearance on his reality TV show, Celebrity Apprentice.
 
 
The President could either end Blagojevich’s time in prison or grant a full pardon and wipe the former Governor’s record clean.

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Lt. Governor Continues To Press Case That Trust Act Isn't Sanctuary State

In the bitter GOP primary campaign, Governor Bruce Rauner was accused of making Illinois a sanctuary state when he signed the Trust Act. It limits local and state police cooperation with federal immigration authorities. 
 
Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti continues efforts to stress what she says is the true nature of the Trust Act.
 
 
The Trust Act prevents police from searching, arresting or detaining someone solely strictly because of their immigration status.

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City Budget Projects Small Deficit

Despite the projection for a deficit budget in the upcoming fiscal year, the Treasurer for the City of Clinton does not believe that is how the year will end.
 
Clint Lichtenwalter says the projected deficit for the upcoming fiscal year is much less than the previous two years and notes while those projected deficits were greater, the City ended up in the black each time.
 
 
An approximate million dollar project that is coming this year is the water meter replacement project. Lichtenwalter indicates this will come from the Water Department budget and then will get broken down from a couple contributors from there.
 
 
Revenues are projected to be the same. Lichtenwalter indicates despite threats of cutbacks from the State, those never seem to happen. He indicates reserves are also projecting to be stronger in the upcoming fiscal year.
 
 
Finally, the self-funded health insurance is very strong and Lichtenwalter points out the pensions are looking very strong, especially in comparison to other municipalities across the state.
 
 
The Council approved the budget for the City and Warner Hospital and Health Services.
 
The Council also approved the purchase of portable and base radios for the fire department at a cost of just over $16-thousand. The purchase is thanks to a grant the fire department received. 

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Community Action's Annual Cheeseburger in Paradise Fundraiser This Weekend

A hot ticket in Lincoln is admission to the annual Cheeseburger in Paradise fundraiser hosted by Community Action.
 
The fundraiser this Saturday is again sold out but Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez says community members can still support their efforts this weekend through a raffle they are doing.
 
 
Cheeseburger in Paradise is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Community Action and Rumler-Gomez indicates the night is about bringing the community of support together and they have started highlighting the success stories from their programs.
 
 
According to Rumler-Gomez, the funds raised from the Cheeseburger in Paradise can be as much as $25-thousand. The funds do not have any restrictions and can go to any which way to help the agency.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez looks forward to the event and thanks the community for their continued support through Cheeseburger in Paradise.

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Wrigley Field, Dana Thoma House Among Illinois' Top Buildings

VOTERS ARE CHOOSING THEIR FAVORITE BUILDINGS AS PART OF THE ILLINOIS TOP 200 PROJECT…AND WRIGLEY FIELD IS LEADING THE LIST. 
 
THE HOME OF THE CUBS SINCE 1916 IS TAKING THE NUMBER ONE SPOT SAYS ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM SPOKESPERSON CHRIS WILLS.
 
 
OTHER FAVORITE ILLINOIS BUILDINGS INCLUDE THE BAHA’I HOUSE OF WORSHIP IN WILMETTE, WILLIS TOWER, TRIBUNE TOWER AND THE FARNSWORTH HOUSE IN PLANO. VOTE FOR THE NEXT CATEGORY, HISTORIC SITES, ONLINE AT: ILLINOIS TOP 200 DOT COM.

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Weekly Crop Report

PRODUCERS WERE KEPT OUT OF THE FIELDS ONCE AGAIN AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT.
 
THERE WAS ON AVERAGE LESS THAN TWO DAYS SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER HAS AN UPDATE ON WINTER WHEAT.
 
 
THERE WERE A FEW REPORTS OF CORN PLANTING. 
 
 
USUALLY ABOUT FIVE PERCENT OF CORN HAS BEEN PLANTED BY NOW. 
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE IS RATED AT ONE PERCENT VERY SHORT, TWO PERCENT SHORT, 65 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 32 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Durbin With President On Airstrikes, Against Tweets

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is on board with President Trump's military action in Syria but he's not too fond of what the Commander in Chief is doing with 140 characters or less. 
 
Durbin says he supported the decision to launch air strikes in Syria, especially since he got help from the United Kingdom and France. But he was critical of Trump tweets that discussed military tactics in advance. 
 
 
Durbin acknowledges that this is a new era in politics and there is no sign the President will stop or even slow down his tweeting.

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Bustos Says Democrats Being Left Out of Farm Bill Process

Western Illinois Congressman Cheri Bustos says Democrats are being squeezed out of Farm Bill talks. She serves on the House Ag Committee.
 
 
The current Farm Bill expires in September. 

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Another Defeat In Court Blagojevich

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich has not seen his lucky change in the courtroom, including with the nation's most famous court. 
 
For the second time, Supreme Court Justices have refused to hear an appeal by Blagojevich of his corruption convictions. 
 
There were no comments released with Monday's decision, which keeps Blagojevich's 14 year prison term intact. He is scheduled to be released in 2024. 
 
Blagojevich's lawyers had wanted the high court to take up his case to make clear what constitutes illegal political fundraising. 
 
Blagojevich was accused and later convicted of illegal "horse trading" in seeking possible successor to former President Obama in the U.S. Senate.

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April is Invasive Plant Pest, Disease Awareness Month

Having a frank discussion about invasive species. 
 
That’s what Samantha Simon likes to do. She’s the Invasive Species Coordinator for the United States Department of Agriculture. 
 
 
April is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month and the USDA is promoting its Hungry Pests initiative with information available at "hungrypests.com." 
 
Two of the more common invasive species in Illinois are the emerald ash borer and European gypsy moth. 

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Warner Hospital And Health Services CEO Pleased With Upcoming Budget

At tonight's Clinton City Council meeting, the Warner Hospital and Health Services budget will be presented for approval.
 
CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, Paul Skowron, says he is very pleased with this year's budget as they anticipate a surplus budget.
 
 
Skowron says the positive budget outlook is allowing them to embark on cosmetic updates on the facility. He explains they plan to resurface the concrete in front of their the emergency room and the Family Medicine facility.
 
 
This will be the fourth budget Skowron presents to the City Council and he says things have come to a long way and indicates his vision continues to be a new hospital facility in the community. 
 
 
The Council tonight will also be approving a line of credit for the City-owned facility. Skowron indicates in the three-and-a-half years he's been in Clinton, they have never had to dip into that line of credit but they ask for it year after year. 

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DARE Program To Wrap Up in Clinton Schools This Week

A 13-week curriculum for youth in Clinton Schools will wrap up this week.
 
The DARE program is led by Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers and he indicates the program finishes off this week. He indicates, last week, his grade school students got to talk to some junior high school and high school role models.
 
 
The DARE curriculum has changed a lot in recent years. Chief Lowers says the early focus was on abuse of drugs and alcohol but now the challenges facing youth are different from when the program first started.
 
 
For the Chief, the effectiveness of the program are tough to measure, he feels if they can have an impact on even one child, the program has served its purpose.
 
 
The DARE program is not only a great opportunity to teach youth but Chief Lowers says it can be a great opportunity for a positive interaction with local law enforcement officials.
 
 
Chief Lowers says being proactive in the schools is what he is all about and making positive interactions in the schools and hopes all the students have a different approach to law enforcement because of their experiences with them in Clinton schools. 

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Lawmakers Looking To Make Breastfeeding More Accessible in Public

STATE LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING ON BILLS TO EXPAND BREASTFEEDING OPTIONS FOR WOMEN.
 
ONE MEASURE REQUIRES COURTHOUSES TO SET UP AT LEAST ONE LACTATION ROOM, SEPARATE FROM THE RESTROOM, THAT HAS A CHAIR, TABLE, ELECTRICAL OUTLET AND A SINK. IT’S SUPPORTED BY KELLY CASSIDY OF CHICAGO.
 
 
ANOTHER BILL SETS THE SAME REQUIREMENTS FOR BUILDINGS IN THE STATE CAPITOL COMPLEX IN SPRINGFIELD.
 
 
THAT MEASURE HAS PASSED THE SENATE AND NOW MOVES TO THE HOUSE.

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Largest Dry Mill Ethanol PLant in Illinois

Illinois is home to the largest dry mill ethanol plant in the U.S. It’s Marquis Energy located in Hennepin in Putnam County. They now produce 360-million gallons per year. 
 
Company CEO Mark Marquis says Illinois River access has been key to their success.
 
 
The first truckload of corn was delivered to Marquis Energy in April of 2008. Most of their corn comes from a 70-mile radius. 

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IDOT Promoting Safe Motorcycle Season

AS THE WEATHER FINALLY BEGINS TO WARM UP, THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS URGING MOTORCYCLISTS TO BE CAREFUL AND “RIDE SMART.” 
 
RIDERS ARE ANXIOUS TO GET OUT ON THE OPEN ROAD…BUT ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET INTO AN ACCIDENT SAYS I-DOT SPOKESPERSON KELSEA GURSKI.
 
 
GURSKI SAYS RIDERS SHOULD MAKE SURE THEY WEAR HIGH-VISIBILITY CLOTHING, A HELMET AND EYE PROTECTION AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF I-DOT’S FREE MOTORCYCLE TRAINING PROGRAMS. 
 
 
MORE DETAILS ARE ONLINE AT: START SEEING MOTORCYCLES DOT ORG.

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Governor Wants Look At German Education System

The Governor’s trade mission to eastern Europe is underway. 
 
Rauner is stopping in Germany and Poland to woo new companies to Illinois and create business partnerships. He is also going to learn more about how Germany’s school system works getting teenagers on a career track for hands on technical jobs that don’t always need a college education, or college debt.
 
 
It’s expected that Rauner will announce a few business ventures between Illinois and those European countries this week.

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Department of Public Health Warns Of E. coli Outbreak

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS WARNING ABOUT A MULTI-STATE OUTBREAK OF E. COLI INFECTIONS LINKED TO CHOPPED ROMAINE LETTUCE. 
 
PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON DIVYA MOHAN-LITTLE SAYS UNTIL THEY IDENTIFY THE SUPPLIER, DISTRIBUTOR AND BRAND AFFECTED…YOU SHOULD NOT EAT ROMAINE AND WATCH OUT FOR THESE SIGNS OF ILLNESS.
 
 
ALL OFFICIALS KNOW SO FAR IS THAT THE LETTUCE CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE YUMA, ARIZONA AREA.
 
 
THERE ‘S JUST BEEN ONE CONFIRMED CASE IN ILLINOIS SO FAR…BUT MORE THAN 30 OTHER CASES HAVE BEEN REPORTED IN 11 STATES. 22 PEOPLE HAD TO BE HOSPITALIZED. 

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Storm Season Upon Us

Strong storms are anticipated throughout parts of this weekend in central Illinois and this time of the year is storm season in Illinois.
 
The National Weather Service is reminding residents of the various terminology when storms pop up. Chris Miller with the NWS in Lincoln talks about what the various terms mean and what you should be doing when you hear them.
 
 
With the recent rain and snow falls, Miller reminds residents flash flooding has killed more people in Illinois in recent years than any other weather phenomenon. 

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Don't Let Your Guard Down Against The Flu

We are not out of the woods yet when it comes to the flu bug.
 
That is the message from Dr. Kent Redcross who indicates the flu is just as aggressive now as it was at its height in January, February and March.
 
 
It is not too late to get the flu shot but Dr. Redcross says now is the time get it before the flu season passes.
 
 
Dr. Redcross says always wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when you a cough. He says it's all about containment of the germs. 

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Manar Proposes Minimum Teacher Salary

NEW TEACHERS WOULD BE GUARANTEED A STARTING SALARY OF AT LEAST 40 THOUSAND DOLLARS UNDER LEGISLATION PENDING IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE.
 
THE CURRENT MINIMUM OF NINE TO 11 THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR FULL-TIME TEACHERS WAS SET BACK IN 1980. BILL SPONSOR, SENATOR ANDY MANAR OF BUNKER HILL, SAYS IT’S TIME FOR THAT TO BE UPDATED.
 
 
MANAR SAYS THIS WOULD ALSO ATTRACT MORE YOUNG PEOPLE TO THE PROFESSION. THE MEASURE PASSED A LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE AND AWAITS A VOTE BEFORE THE FULL SENATE.

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IEMA Highlighting Importance of Volunteers During Disasters

THE ILLINOIS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY SAYS VOLUNTEERS PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE WHENEVER DISASTER STRIKES. 
 
VOLUNTEERS CAN HELP WITH ANYTHING FROM SANDBAGGING BEFORE A FLOOD TO ASSISTING DISASTER VICTIMS AT A LOCAL SHELTER. I-EMA SPOKESPERSON PATTI THOMPSON SAYS IF YOU’RE REALLY INTERESTED IN PITCHING IN…IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET INVOLVED BEFOREHAND.
 
 
THOMPSON SAYS MANY GROUPS OFTEN PUT VOLUNTEERS THROUGH TRAINING BEFORE THEY CAN HELP OUT IN THE FIELD. GET MORE DETAILS ONLINE AT: READY DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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ASA President Testifies to Congress Regarding Trade Tariffs

The American Soybean Association President says retaliation by China against U.S. tariffs would undercut prices received by soybean farmers, and further hurt a depressed farm economy. 
 
Testifying to lawmakers Thursday, ASA President John Heisdorffer asked members of Congress to help soybean farmers “be part of the solution,” rather than “collateral damage.” Heisdorffer, an Iowa farmer, highlighted the importance of maintaining China as a robust market for U.S. soybean exports, and the lasting effects implemented tariffs and a trade war would have on soybean farmers. 
 
Farm income has fallen by 40 percent since 2013, and Heisdorffer says “farmers cannot absorb additional hits to the farm economy.” 
 
In 2017, China imported 1.4 billion bushels of U.S. soybeans, 62 percent of total U.S. exports and nearly one-third of U.S. annual soy production. 
 
According to a study conducted by Purdue University, soybean exports to China could drop dramatically if China chooses to impose a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans.

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Trump Announces E15 Waiver Support to Farm State Lawmakers

The Trump Administration is apparently planning to allow E15 sales year-round. 
 
During the White House agriculture roundtable Thursday, President Trump announced his support for E15 sales year-round without a cap on RIN prices, according to attendee, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. 
 
Ethanol groups have argued that allowing year-round sales of 15 percent ethanol blended fuels would be a “win-win” for agriculture and refiners, who have alleged that RIN prices are overburdensome. 
 
President Trump told the group “We’re going to raise it up to 15 percent,” adding the move “makes a lot of people happy.” Growth Energy applauded the comments from Trump, calling the move a “common-sense fix.” 
 
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says a waiver lifting the Reid Vapor Pressure limits on summer-time E15 sales “allows retailers to offer better options alongside traditional blends all year long." 
 
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson applauded the move as well, but says “more can and should be done for higher blends of ethanol.” 
 
NFU called on the dministration to eliminate similar barriers to expanded use of higher blends of ethanol, such as E30. 

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DeWitt County Care Systems Outreach Worker Expanding Role in Farmer City

Diane Cusey works with seniors all over DeWitt County with Medicare cover and she'll now be in Farmer City more.
 
Cusey says the demand for her help in Farmer City has increased and so now she will be spending an extra day a month in the eastern DeWitt County community.
 
 
Cusey reminds DeWitt County seniors who may be homebound she is available at various points in the month to do in-home visits.
 
 
To get an in-home visit with Cusey scheduled or to meet with her when she's in your community, contact her at the DeWitt County Friendship Center at 217-935-4560. 

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Cerro Gordo Schools Break Ground on Facilities Expansion

Last Friday, Cerro Gordo schools broke ground on an expansion and renovation of the junior/senior high campus.
 
Superintendent of Cerro Gordo Schools Brett Robinson indicates this is the culmination of several meetings and a great deal of work by the community to rally support.
 
 
There are a lot of different components to the updates and additions. According to Robinson, there will be a connecting addition to bring the high school and gymnasium together.
 
 
Robinson indicates they are going to have new offices, a STEAM lab, and they plan upgrades to the other parts of the facilities.
 
 
Despite the age of the facilities, the districts are going to be able to renovate several areas of the current buildings but Robinson points out, they wanted to make sure student safety was the top priority.
 
 
With last week's groundbreaking, dirt is now moving and the project will be working around the school day for the rest of this year and Robinson indicates the additional work will begin this summer and estimates a completion date of late summer next year.

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Social Security Discusses Retirement, Medicare

During this Social Security month, officials are clearing up how retirement benefits and Medicare coverage works.
 
Jack Myers with Social Security points out, they are not affiliated with Medicare but they can help folks get into those programs. He says that is often confusing for some ready to retire.
 
 
Myers explains if you are receiving Social Security benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. He talks about what to do if you are not already taking Social Security.
 
 
According to Myers, something to consider when deciding if you want to join Medicare is your coverage through your work. He also notes there is an initial enrollment period but you can qualify for a special enrollment period later.
 
 
There is a lot to consider when enrolling in Medicare. For any questions or more information, visit the Social Security website at socialsecurity.gov. 

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Rauner Says Yes To Sending Guard Troopers To Border

President Trump has indicated he'll send National Guard troops to secure the nation's southern border. 
 
Some Governors are balking at the request, others are enthusiastic. Governor Bruce Rauner says there's a precedent for such requests.
 
 
The Illinois Senate is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to reject a presidential call to send National Guard troops to help secure the U.S.-Mexican border. 
 
The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 33-22 to urge Rauner not to comply if President Donald Trump makes a request. 

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Rauner Leading Another Trade Mission

The Governor is on the move this coming week. 
 
Republican Bruce Rauner is taking another trade mission and says that he will have announcements about German and Polish companies coming to Illinois. 
 
 
Rauner has ventured out on trade missions before; traveling to Japan, China and Israel. 

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Democrats Cry Foul Over Republicans Willingness To Spend Tax Increase

As the budget making process begins. 
 
Democrats are pointing out that Republicans may have complained about the income tax increased that passed last year – but they are happy to spend it this year. 
 
The Governor and four legislative leaders met this week to start work on the spending plan and Senate President John Cullerton says because Bruce Rauner is fine including all the extra revenue from the tax hike in the upcoming budget revenue forecast, he should stop telling everyone that his plan is to make a small rollback of the increase.
 
 
Both Democrats and Republicans agreed to name budgeteers to lead the negotiations. 

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Budget Making Process To Begin Soon

The budget process is getting its unofficial start this week at the state capitol. 
 
Republican Governor Bruce Rauner called a meeting with the four legislative leaders to set the table for a 12 month fully funded budget. Rauner and Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, wanted and got, Democrats to agree to finding out just how much revenue they will have to spend this year. 
 
 
The revenue estimate will include all of the additional money raised by the income tax increase. Republicans say they need to include the additional money in the projections but don’t have to spend every last dollar.

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One Teen Hurt, Another Apprehended in Dispute in Farmer City

A 17-year old teen was arrested after shooting another 17-year old in Farmer City Wednesday afternoon.
 
The dispute took place just before 3 pm Wednesday afternoon in the 300 block of West Green Street. 
 
The suspect was taken into police custody while the other teen was treated for injuries at Carle Hospital in Urbana.
 
Farmer City Police, the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office, and Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services are investigating the incident.
 
They are seeking public information on the shooting. You can contact the Farmer City Police Department with any information by calling 309-928-2111. 

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Clinton YMCA Exploring Opening Branch in Monticello

Clinton YMCA Monticello Branch could be a reality in the next few years.
 
Executive Director of the Clinton YMCA, Rennie Cluver says this has been something talked about between the two communities over the last year and the reality of it happening is starting to gain some momentum.
 
 
According to Cluver, this was not something the Clinton YMCA was pursuing, in fact, the Y was content with where they were. However, it makes a lot of sense for a YMCA presence in Monticello.
 
 
The community of Monticello is very excited about this idea and while the Clinton Y is behind the idea as well, Cluver indicates they need to do their due-diligence to make sure it is a feasible possibility.
 
 
Cluver says the YMCA will have a partnership with Monticello regardless of if a new facility is part of the plan or not. He says there is enough momentum and resources to start programming without a dedicated facility. 

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CCEF Fundraiser To Support Junior High Trips Field Trips

Earlier this spring, Clinton Junior High School students made a trip to the Heartland College Space Learning Center thanks to contributions from the Clinton Community Education Foundation.
 
Clinton Junior High School principal Drew Goebel raved about the trip and Christina Soberalski says it was a two-fold trip for the youth.
 
 
The money raised from the upcoming Derby Day fundraiser for the CCEF will be going to the trip next year and Soberalski says, it also fits well into the curriculum for the students.
 
 
CCEF leaders say they plan to sponsor this field trip every year for junior high school students.
 
This year's Derby Day Fundraiser is May 5 at the Clinton Country Club. Get details about tickets by visiting clintonedfoundation.org and get tickets by stopping into DeWitt Savings Bank. 

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Congressman Davis Looking To Streamline Opioid Medication Information

Limiting the opportunities for individuals to get opioid prescriptions is the goal for Congressman Rodney Davis.
 
He's proposing pharmacists to take information from someone picking up an opioid prescription and then put that information into the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
 
 
Davis indicates this idea was that stemmed from officials in Normal, IL and he hopes it eliminates something those officials saw where individuals were filling a prescription at local pharmacies.
 
 
Davis also recently discussed the K2 synthetic marijuana epidemic that is claiming lives in Illinois. He says parents need to talk to their kids about the drug and also wants to see a better effort in monitoring synthetic drugs that come in from overseas and work with the postal service and law enforcement to find out where they are coming from and stopping them from getting into the hands of individuals. 

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Equal Rights Amendment Gets Approval in Senate

It’s been a long drawn out process but lawmakers in Illinois voted this week to ratify an amendment to the US Constitution. 
 
The Senate voted 43 – 12 to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment. 
 
Illinois failed to ratify it years ago when it first came to a vote and the 1982 deadline for approval came and went. But in the era of Me Too, bill sponsor Senator Heather Steans says, women are being heard more than ever.
 
 
If the House votes to ratify, Illinois could be the 37th state to approve it. 38 states are needed but Congress would need to approve an extension to the deadline that expired in 1982.

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Durbin Talks Privacy With Zuckerberg

It's day two of Senate questioning of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on privacy concerns tied to questions about the use and alleged abuse of data. 
 
(On Tuesday) Yesterday, Senator Dick Durbin tried to make the issue of privacy relateable for Zuckerberg.
 
 
Zuckerberg also addressed the issue of the right to privacy.
 
Durbin Talks Privacy With Zuckerberg
 
Durbin believes the privacy question, basically, comes down to what information Facebook is collecting, who they’re sending it to, and whether they ever asked me in advance my permission to do that.”

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Bustos Worried About Consequences from China Trade Dispute

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos worried about the 'devastating' consequences resulting from a trade dispute with China.
 
 
Bustos serves on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee and is also waiting for resolution on North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations, but she says that issue also remains cloudy. 
 
The Rock Island Democrat says there is also little to report on new Farm Bill talks. 

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Brief Warm Up This Week, Cold Air To Return

A brief warm up for Illinois this week. Temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s through Friday, but then cooler temperatures are back for the weekend and even a chance of snow again on Sunday says meteorologist Dan Hicks with Freese-Notis Weather. 
 
 
Hicks says statistics show most of the Midwest experienced the coolest first seven or eight days of April on record or at least the top five coolest. 

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Attorney General Office Made Almost $1 Billion Dollars

The Illinois Attorney General says her office is a money-making proposition for the state of Illinois. 
 
Lisa Madigan reports that the AG’s office brought in almost $900 million in settlements from lawsuits, tracked down past fines and other sources of revenue. She adds the state makes out pretty good on the funding they give her to run the office.
 
 
19 million came from a settlement with Moody’s Investors Services.

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Mach 1 Gas Station Starting To Take Shape

The progress of the Mach 1 gas station on Van Buren Street has picked up since mid-March as the weather starts to turn.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell indicates motorists have likely noticed crews have parts of Van Buren Street and Business 51/Grant Street closed down at this time is to get entrances built for the complex.
 
 
Followell says things remind behind schedule still because of the winter weather but believes lost time could get made up as the weather turns and is also hopeful the partial closure of the streets near the construction is short lived.

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Clinton Farmer's Market Readying for 2018

Spring or summer vibes have been in short supply so far this year but that isn't stopping local organizers from the Clinton Farmer's Market who are well underway readying for this summer.
 
Elizabeth Burns with the Clinton Area Farmers and Artisans Market says if you are thinking of seed starting to get on the square this summer, now is the time to get those started.
 
 
The market will start on May 5 and Burnes indicates they are again giving away trees this year. She also notes they working on having things for kids and families to do and are reaching out to local non-profits to join them on Saturday mornings.
 
 
For producers interested in being a part of this year's markets, Burnes says they've lowered their rates for producers. She also points, if you have spare produce from your own garden, you can simply bring it by the market and they will sell it for you and give you the funds after the day is done.
 
 
For more information, contact Burnes at 217-722-2496 or you can find the Clinton Farmers Market on Facebook. 

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Scovill Zoo Highlights History On Opening Week

It's the baby animal season and central Illinois zoos are highlighting the new, cute faces at their facilities.
 
Scovill Zoo in Decatur has several new animals including baby goats in their petting zoo and Director Ken Frye indicates one aspect of their history that is sometimes forgotten is Scovill Zoo was originally a farm before their expansion.
 
 
Frye indicates they are still anticipating more baby goats and the miracle of life for goats is not something the zoo keeps from patrons so a baby goat birth could take place while you are visiting this spring.
 
 
Scovill Zoo in Decatur opened this past weekend. For the latest on Scovill Zoo, visit scovillzoo.com or find them on Facebook. 

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Tuesday Was Equal Pay Day in Illinois

Equal pay day was Tuesday in Illinois.  April 10 was day that women need to work too in order to have made as much money as a man in the same job made just last year. 
 
Democrat State Senator Toi Hutchinson says minority women have to work even longer into the new year to find wage equivalency. 
 
 
The day was set aside to gain attention to the wage gap between men and women in the workplace.

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National Work Zone Awareness Week

It’s not quite the summer road work season but projects are starting to pop up on area roadways and interstates and the Illinois Department of Transportation is calling attention safety to the workers who fix our roads. 
 
IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn wants drivers to slow down and be alert when driving in construction zones. He says 29 people were killed in work zones in 2018 and drivers can do their share to lower those numbers.
 
 
This is National Work Zone Awareness Week. Along with being safe in a construction zone, authorities are also reminding drivers that fines for speeding in those areas begin at $375.

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Madigan's Office RSVPs To Leader's Meeting

House Speaker Mike Madigan's office confirms he will be on hand for Thursday's "Leaders meeting" called by Governor Bruce Rauner. 
 
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown.....
 
 
Rauner wants to begin discussions on a new budget and is emphasizing his demand for a full fiscal year budget.

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Durbin Appealing To GOP Leaders to Support Dream Act

Senator Dick Durbin is focusing his energy on trying to prevent deportation of young people in the DACA program on his colleagues on Capitol.Hill.
 
Durbin is appealing to GOP leaders to support the Dream Act, that he is sponsoring along with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham after some disappointing results from the White House.
 
 
Undocumented immigrants in the DACA program face the prospect of losing their work permits and being deported to countries Durbin says they barely remember. 
 
Many dreamers remain in the country after a federal court issued an order blocking President Trump’s repeal of DACA, Dreamers that have DACA can continue to apply to renew their status for now.

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Department of Public Health Launches New Opioid Data Dashboard

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS LAUNCHING A NEW INTERACTIVE WEBSITE FEATURING STATISTICS AND TRENDS IN THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC. 
 
THE “OPIOID DATA DASHBOARD” OFFERS SEVERAL DETAILS ABOUT HOW THE DRUGS ARE AFFECTING PEOPLE IN DIFFERENT AREAS OF THE STATE SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MELANEY ARNOLD. IT CAN BE BENEFICIAL TO LAW ENFORCEMENT, HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS, LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS.
 
 
IT ALSO INCLUDES INFORMATION ON THE RATE THAT OPIOIDS ARE BEING PRESCRIBED.
 
 
ARNOLD SAYS THEY HOPE VISITORS TO THE SITE CAN USE THE INFORMATION TO COME UP WITH SOLUTIONS FOR COMBATING THE OPIOID CRISIS IN THEIR AREA.

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Attorney General Sues Electric Provider

The state is suing an electric company for aggressive and deceptive tactics.
 
Attorney General Lisa Madigan says that Major Energy Electric Services has been making confusing claims to new customers.
 
 
Madgian’s suit says the customers in Com-Ed regions are the one’s affected. And she says in almost every instance the bills for people who signed up with Major Energy were higher than they would have been if they would have stayed with Com-Ed.
 

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April is Social Security Month

April is Social Security Month.
 
Jack Myers with Social Security says they are really pushing their 'My Social Security' portal is a great tool they are hoping everyone will check out. He explains it's a great resource for workers that are young or old.
 
 
According to Myers, a lot of questions center around when benefits will be paid. He explains those go out a month after application and this applies to most benefits across the board.
 
 
Social Security is also discussing the basics Medicare Parts A and B and what folks should know about disability benefits.

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Time To Start Thinking Grain Bin Safety

Not a lot of field work is being done in Illinois as winter weather has creeped into spring for much of the state. But now is a good time for farmers to pause and think about grain bin safety says Eric Vanasdale, Senior Loss Control Representative with Country Financial. 
 
 
Nobody has died in an Illinois commercial grain storage facility since 2013, according to the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois, which conducts several training sessions every year.

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Senator Duckworth Becomes First Sitting Senator To Give Birth

The family of US Senator Tammy Duckworth has expanded again, as she becomes the first sitting Senator to give birth while in office.
 
Duckworth and her husband Bryan Bowlsbey welcomed Maile (My-lee) Pearl Bowlsbey into the world today. 
 
Duckworth had her first child while serving as a US Congresswoman. 
 
In all 10 women have given birth while serving in Congress but none, until now, did so while a Senator. 

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School Funding Reform Champion Pleased With Downstate Schools Funding

State Senator Andy Manar pleasantly surprised with the impact of the new school funding reform bill, specifically on downstate districts. 
 
The final new state money numbers were announced by the Illinois State Board of Education late last week. 
 
 
Manar says the funding formula may be set, but lawmakers must continue to protect the formula going forward.
 
 
The bill also requires this year’s state funding level to be the baseline for how much money each district will receive next year.

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Rauner Calls For Meeting With Legislative Leaders

The Governor is laying out a spring legislative agenda that he says is full of bipartisan legislation. 
 
The plan looks and sounds much like it has for the past three years; term limits, pension reform and a balanced budget. Rauner says that he will call on leaders from both sides for a budget meeting.
 
 
Rauner says the first task will be for all sides to agree on what tax revenues will look like this year. 
 
Once the revenue side is taken care of Rauner says they can begin the conversation on spending. 

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Governor Not Budging On Tax Hikes

Soon, budget discussions will heat up at the Capitol. Governor Bruce Rauner is continuing to talk about a rollback of the recent income tax hike, with one condition.
 
 
Gov. Bruce Rauner says he has called a meeting for Thursday with legislative leaders to discuss the final weeks of the spring session.

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