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Clinton Wraps Up Productive FFA Week

Last week, Chapters of Future Farmers of America across central Illinois and the nation were highlighted and locally, chapters were welcomed on the noon farm show with Farm Broadcaster Jared White on IllinoisFarmRadio.com.

 

Kevin Toohill is the Clinton FFA Chapter President, he called last week productive for the Clinton Chapter.

 

 

For Chapter Secretary Daniel Murphy, the week is a great opportunity for their group to be a focal point among the student body. He says this is their equivalent to a showcase sporting event.

 

 

Because of the snow day last Wednesday, Toohill indicates some of their members will be rolling up to school in their tractors today. 

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DeWitt County Farm Bureau Introduces FFA Chapters To Their Organization

Introducing high school students to the Farm Bureau was the goal of a recent event held in Clinton.

The DeWitt County Farm Bureau welcomed students from the Blue Ridge and Clinton FFA Chapters for Acquaintance Day to introduce them to what the Farm Bureau is all about. Manager Janel Baum-Thomas says their focus was on their young leaders program.

 

 

Baum-Thomas says they also wanted to highlight some of the activities the Farm Bureau puts on. She indicates there are a lot of things the skills the students learn in FFA that will be incorporated.

 

 

Just like the message from members of the FFA, being a part of the Farm Bureau doesn't necessarily mean you have to live on a farm or be a farmer. Baum-Thomas says that's a message they are trying to get out.

 

 

Baum-Thomas felt the students were receptive to their message. She says it's all about getting them introduced to the Farm Bureau and what they're all about.

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Red Cross Promoting CPR

The Red Cross is asking people to consider learning CPR and how to use a defibrillator for National Heart Month.

Instructor Ed Runner says it’s one thing to read about doing it or to watch someone else show how it’s done. It’s another thing to put the knowledge into practice when someone’s in trouble. He recommends taking a class to practice it on a CPR mannequin.

 

 

Runner suggests taking a class for National Heart Month. You can find out about others in the Bloomington area, Peoria, and the Chicago suburbs. Most of those classes cost about $90 and last a few hours.

 

 

There is information about classes at “www dot red cross dot org”. Those classes are about $100.

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Responsible Budget Coalition

Illinois is currently in its eighth month without a budget. Spokesman for the Responsible Budget Coalition Neal Waltmire says the idea that state lawmakers won't agree on a budget by the end of the session on May 31st is a very scary one.

 

 

Waltmire says Rauner's address didn't ease the minds of Illinois residents who are worried about the state's lack of a budget. He adds that if state lawmakers can't agree on a budget by the end of the session on May 31st, a variety of groups will hurt from the lack of funding, including college students, the elderly and the disabled.

 

 

Waltmire says the trouble doesn't end there. He adds children involved in after school programs and the disabled as groups that will pay the price if the budget impasse continues. Waltmire says Governor Rauner's recent budget address showed he only cares about getting his agenda items passed.

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Springfield State Rep wants to bring state jobs back to Springfield

State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez thinks state agencies should look into reversing the state job exodus to the Chicago region under the Blagojevich Administration. She has introduced a resolution calling on state agencies to study the feasibility of moving state jobs to Springfield...
 
 
Wojicki Jimenez notes the Downtown Springfield area has suffered because of the defection of state jobs...
 
She also believes having more Springfield based state jobs would create efficiency to government.

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Medical cannabis advocates work to separate program from hope for recreational

Advocates for Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Pilot Program are urging others to stop making the case for recreational legalization while the current medical program plays out. 
 
From blogs to Facebook groups, and even dispensary operators, advocates of medical cannabis in Illinois want to ensure the program is successful. Jay Cook with HCI Alternatives told WMAY Springfield last week it’s difficult to separate the medical program from what some hope would be recreational legalization, especially as the industry sticks to certain names for their various strains. 
 
Dr. Scott Cooper, president of the Illinois State Medical Society, says separating the two is a good stance. 
 
The ISMS is neutral on the pilot program but says they have educational materials online for doctors who are unsure about getting involved with cannabis patients.

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Documentary maker asking for World War II ship building stories from Illinois

A documentary maker’s story about two veterans could pick up some details about World War II life from Seneca. Kyle Olson says the story began with a retired LST—landing ship tank—Navy man wanting to meet someone he served with.
 
 
He’s putting together his program from the men’s reunion in Missouri. Olson also wants to hear from people in the Seneca area who can talk about LST production. And if he can raise about $9,000 to finish production, that would help too. There’s information about how to help with both at “www dot last signal movie dot com”.
 
Two long retired Navy men had a reunion seven decades after they served on the same landing ship tank in World War II. Documentary maker Kyle Olson was there and is putting the story together for a program he hopes to put on a nationwide TV channel.
 
 
Their ship, LST 218, was built in Seneca. As he puts the documentary called The Last Signal together, Olson wants to hear from people who can tell him about Seneca’s shipyard. There is contact and contribution information at “www dot last signal movie dot com”.
 

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Court View Point from Scholar

Any appointment made by President Obama to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court isn't likely to get approval from the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says they won't hold hearings or take a vote on any appointment Obama makes. Illinois State University Supreme Court Scholar Meghan Leonard says this could mean a lot of split decisions in the meantime.
 
 
Leonard says for Senate Republicans to say they won't have hearings or take votes on the matter is unprecedented. She adds it's a unique situation as usually when a justice is being replaced, it's due to a retirement.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is saying if the president makes an appointment to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, Republican senators will not take any action. That's something Illinois State University Supreme Court Scholar calls unprecedented, mainly because usually when a president is replacing a justice it's due to a retirement.
 
 
Leonard says waiting until a new president is sworn in before naming a new Supreme Court justice could mean many split decisions from the court. She adds Republicans are taking a risk and hoping a Republican president is elected, and not a Democrat.

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Clinton AM Vets Receive Grant From Exelon

Clinton AM-Vets were recently awarded a $400 grant from Exelon thanks to the efforts one of their members.

 

Bob Pakidis volunteers countless hours to the community and Veteran's events.

 

The grant from Exelon's "Dollars for Doers" program says Pakidis "has emplified Exelon's core value of social responsibility by volunteering."

 

AM-Vets thanks Pakidis and his family for the support of the organization and the community.

 

The AM-Vets call Exelon a significant contributor in their mission of helping veterans 

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Weekly Weather Summary

This weekend we will see warmer temperatures and then cooler temperatures at the beginning of the work week. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more...

 

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LICENSED PROFESSIONALS IN ILLINOIS CAN NOW FILE THEIR NECESSARY FORMS AND RENEWALS ONLINE

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION IS GOING GREEN SAYS SPOKESPERSON TERRY HORSTMAN, MAKING THE LICENSING PROCESS EASIER AND MORE COST EFFECTIVE.

 

 

IN THE PAST, PROFESSIONALS WERE MAILED A PAPER LICENSE AND RECEIVED A RENEWAL POSTCARD IN THE MAIL. THE DEPARTMENT’S WEBSITE IS: I D F P R DOT COM.

 

IT’S NOW EASIER FOR PROFESSIONALS TO GET THEIR LICENSING PAPERWORK DONE AS THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION GOES PAPERLESS SAYS SPOKESPERSON TERRY HORSTMAN.

 

 

HORSTMAN SAYS THE CHANGE WILL SAVE THE STATE NEARLY THREE MILLION DOLLARS IN POSTAGE, PAPER AND PRINTING COSTS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.

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ISMS supports provisions to enhance medical cannabis pilot program

One of the state’s medical societies supports several measures they hope will enhance Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.

 

Though they are neutral on the pilot program, Illinois State Medical Society President Dr. Scott Cooper says they support a measure to add medical cannabis to the prescription drug monitoring program, something that could help identify potential drug interactions.

 

 

Cooper says ISMS also wants more information given to patients when patients pick up their product.

 

 

Both provisions are found in Senate Bill 2378, which was introduced this month and has been assigned to the Senate Executive Committee.

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Lincoln FFA Wraps Week With Ag Olympics

As FFA Week wrapped up Friday, area chapters hope the five day period served as an opportunity to spread their message.

Lincoln FFA Sentinel Reagan Tibbs says the dress up days they picked out were designed to draw attention to the organization and be a means of engaging in dialogue with their peers at the high school.

In Lincoln, FFA Week is capped by the agriculture Olympics which Tibbs says has a lot of fun events their members participate in.

Tibbs indicates each year he's been a part of FFA, the enrollment has gone up. He says the 70 to 80 members they have is a great number for their chapter. 

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Clinton Police Chief In Midst of DARE Program at Elementary School

It's a program that a couple generations of students have taken part in and the tradition carries on in Clinton still.

Police Chief Ben Lowers now leads the DARE program in the Clinton School district after years of being led by retired-Chief Mike Reidy. Chief Lowers says they are right in the middle of the program currently.

The effectiveness of the DARE program has come under question and Chief Lowers says that has led some programs to fold. He notes that has led to a shift in the curriculum to fit the challenges kids today face.

When it comes to finding out how effective the DARE program is, Chief Lowers says if it helps one student stay off of drugs after the course, then it has served it's purpose.

Chief Lowers says there are six sixth grade classes in the district. Graduation for the DARE program is April 15.

Chief Lowers points out this is one of the many ways the Police Department is working to be more visible in the schools. 

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FFA Week Different in Mt. Pulaski

It's nationally recognized as FFA Week but one local chapter does things a little differently.

Most chapters are taking the week to schedule activities and community outreach events but Mt. Pulaski's FFA Chapter waits to celebrate FFA Week until March. Chapter President Lizzie Ford explains they started this a few years ago to utilize better weather.

Ford explains FFA Week is an opportunity to spread their message to their peers at the high school, but they also do outreach with the grade schools in the community.

For Ford, she indicates what she wants to do after high school has been shaped by her time in FFA. She feels without FFA, she may not have known what she wanted to do otherwise.

When talking with youngsters or anyone interested in FFA, she talks about the family atmosphere and the skills and lessons you'll learned. She also emphasizes there is so much more to FFA than just farming or agriculture. 

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Rauner Says Procurment Changes Could Boost College Funding

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he can address the state's funding woes for universities and college students.

In a visit to Springfield's Southeast High School, Rauner said he could boost funding for Monetary Award Program grants for struggling college students if lawmakers green light his plan to change the way the state engages in purchasing.

The Republican governor said he would also be open to current legislation that would give him the power to reallocate state spending toward education as a means to fund MAP grants.

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Fantasy Sports Sites Endorse Illinois Legislation

MAJOR FANTASY SPORTS SITES ARE ENDORSING LEGISLATION REGULATING THE INDUSTRY.

THE BILL AIMS TO DEFINE AND SET SOME RULES FOR THE GROWING INDUSTRY. PLAYERS MUST BE 18 YEARS OLD AND EMPLOYEES OF FANTASY SPORTS COMPANIES CANNOT PLAY. WHAT’S ALSO IMPORTANT SAYS STACIE STERN WITH HEAD TO HEAD SPORTS…IS THAT THE MEASURE DEFINES FANTASY SPORTS AS A GAME OF SKILL…NOT GAMBLING.

STEVE SCHOENKE (shankey), CHAIRMAN OF THE FANTASY SPORTS TRADE ASSOCIATION SAYS THEY WELCOME THE BILL AND THAT IT WILL BE GOOD FOR THE INDUSTRY.

COMPANIES WOULD ALSO HAVE TO TAKE MEASURES TO PREVENT PEOPLE FROM OVERPLAYING AND THIRD PARTY AUDITS WOULD BE REQUIRED.

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Clinton High School Principal Talks Technology in School

Clinton High School will be looking to introduce Microsoft Surface tablets to their classrooms in the next several years and their Principal says the devices are what's best for their needs.

Principal Jerry Wayne explains his staff did a lot of research in finding what technology would best fit their needs and they considered a number of factors. They also took the opinions of the staff of the high school.

Microsoft Surface technology is considered one of the top devices on the market and Wayne explains they are not going to be purchasing the latest devices, but also points out, any time you introduce technology into the classroom, it won't be a cheap process.

Wayne says the big thing for their team as they evaluated introducing technology into the classroom was value. They wanted to find what was the best value for students in the classrooms at Clinton High School but also something that would best prepare them for their futures.

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State Senator Working To Better Protect Mahomet Aquifer

State Senator Chapin Rose says issues surrounding the Mahomet Aquifer and the Clinton Landfill have made a lot of positive progress in the past year but he's hoping to do more.

Sen. Rose says landmark events like the Clinton Landfill withdrawing their permit to house PCB's at their site to the EPA declaring it a sole-source aquifer have given central Illinois a lot of momentum on this front.

Sen. Rose has introduced a bill that would require EPA testing of any landfill that is on top of the Mahomet Aquifer. He emphasizes just how big the aquifer is and it's impact on the area.

According to Sen. Rose, he wants the Illinois EPA to develop a list of where landfills. He explains says closed landfills could be as dangerous as ones that are open.

Sen. Rose wants landfills to begin posting about what types of waste they receive. He wants to see material experts and scientists get involved in the process of protecting the Mahomet Aquifer. 

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Maroa-Forsyth FFA Focusing on FFA Members

A late February blizzard didn't stop Maroa-Forsyth FFA members from talking with local farm broadcaster Jared White Wednesday afternoon as a part of National FFA Week.

Reed Jostes is the chapter's secretary and says this week was halted because of the Wednesday snow day but they have loaded week of things happening within the chapter.

FFA Week is meant to promote Future Farmers of America and Jostes indicates he definitely receives more feedback during this week as opposed to other times of the year because of everything going on.

Jostes indicates their chapter has been taking tours of agriculture based businesses like ADM in Decatur. He says it is a great opportunity for them and appreciates the business community for getting behind them and welcoming to their businesses.

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Durbin Calls For Fair Hearing on Supreme Court Nominee

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is demanding a fair hearing in the Senate for President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court.

Durbin says the Constitution doesn't leave any gray area on the issue.

Durbin says the Senate can't afford to sit on its hands for a year and leave the Supreme Court hanging in the balance...

Durbin notes major legal and constitutional questions are constantly brought before the court. Durbin is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Rep. Butler Floating Idea to Have Universities Borrow Money During Impasse

Aside from allowing the governor to sweep funds as a way to pay for higher education, a state Representative is also feeling out the idea of letting universities borrow money.

Republican Representative Tim Butler joins other Republicans and the governor in asking for approval of the Unbalanced Budget Response Act. Butler tells WMAY Springfield he understands fund sweeps are unpopular but they may be necessary to solve Illinois’ budget crisis.

Democratic Senator Daniel Biss dismissed the idea saying a better approach would be for the governor to propose a balanced budget with revenues to pay for it. Meanwhile Butler says he’s investigating letting universities borrow funds for the short term.

Butler says the borrowing authority would help universities fill the gap while the state sorts out its fiscal mess.

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Blue Ridge, Heyworth FFA Chapters Active For FFA Week

If you are anywhere near youth part of a Future Farmers of America, or FFA, Chapter this week, you likely have noticed they are extremely active this week.

FFA Week continues across the country and for Heyworth's FFA Chapter, this week is loaded with activities and Chapter President, Gavin Edwards says it gets the awareness of their program out and builds excitement within their program.

Erik Halberg is the Chapter's Treasurer and indicates they will be hosting different events in the classrooms throughout the week from a petting zoo to different games.

FFA Week is also an opportunity to highlight what goes on in FFA throughout the year. For Blue Ridge's Vanessa Mattingly, who is the Chapter's Secretary, she has been talking about her experience at different conventions and trying to put to rest a lot of stigmas that still come with their organization.

Both Chapters say they enjoy promoting their chapters and keeping their peers informed of what FFA is and what is happening in their Chapters. 

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Governor Says Broader Budget Authority Better Than Line Item Vetos

Republicans continue to push for a measure they say is needed during the budget crisis by allowing the governor to manage the state’s resources.

The Unbalanced Budget Response Act would allow the governor to make cuts and sweep funds in the upcoming fiscal year to fund higher education and tuition assistance grants. While Democrat leaders have said the governor could use his line-item veto authority, Governor Bruce Rauner said Monday that won’t solve the state’s problems.

Rauner said there are also court orders that are off limits without giving him the extra authority.

However Democratic Senator Daniel Biss said in a news release Friday a quote “better approach would be for him to propose a balanced budget of his own, with a clear spending plan and adequate revenues to pay for it.” 

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Rauner Says School Funding Formula Not His Creation

Governor Rauner's rhetoric when it comes to debt plagued Chicago Public Schools has heated up of late.

On Monday, he threatened to block CPS officials from borrowing more money to keep operating. The Governor's battle with district and Chicago officials raises a familiar issue, the state's school funding formula.

Rauner takes issue with others blaming him for inequities in the formula...

Rauner is calling for increased K-12 spending in his budget blueprint. 

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DeWitt County Sheriff: Stay In

Don't travel today.

 

That is the message from DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner who joined us on the WHOW Morning Show.

 

 

A winter weather advisory is in effect until 9 pm tonight. Keep it to WHOW/WEZC and dewittdailynews.com for the latest.

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Eastern Illinois Looking At Up To Six Inches of Snow Wednesday

We have winter storm moving into Illinois Wednesday.

Jim Angel, State Climatologist at the state water survey says this has been a tricky one to predict, but right now we will likely up to six inches of snow east of a line from St Louis though Champaign and into northwest Indiana.

West of the line from St Louis to Champaign look for an inch or two of snow.
Meanwhile, with March arriving next week, Angel’s spring forecast calls for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect from 6 am Wednesday morning to 6 am Thursday morning.

Keep it to dewittdailynews.com and Regional Radio for the latest in school closings, cancelations and delays. 

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Monticello FFA Celebrating National FFA Week

Future Farmers of America Chapters across the United States are using this week to highlight their chapters and the FFA program in general.

One such program is Monticello High School where their group that includes a couple hundred students will be doing some celebrations with their own company but also celebrating their supporters. Chapter Vice President Mikayla Busby indicates Monticello will be doing a staple of FFA Week, which is drive your tractor to school day.

FFA Week also offers programs the chance to highlight what has gone on in their chapters through the year. Monticello FFA Reporter, Becca Peterson indicates their chapter has done different outreach events so far this year.

Busby says the week attracts a lot of attention to the FFA Chapter in Monticello, which she feels is one of her favorite parts of the week. 

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Farmers Can Help Rural Schools

Farmers are being invited to nominate rural schools for grants in the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Fund.

Community Outreach Manager Heather Wolfe says after the April 1 deadline, the schools that were nominated will have two more weeks to apply for grants of $10,000 and $25,000.

Wolfe says the school districts that are ultimately chosen can decide what to spend the money on.

The Monsanto Fund has supported the program for more than $9 million worth of grants nationwide since 2011. Farmers who want to nominate a school can find out how at www.growruraleducation.com”.

The school districts that are chosen will get the awards in August. Wolfe says greenhouses, robotics programs, and lab equipment for math and science classrooms have been funded before.

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Durbin Says Illinois Congressional Delegation Can't Fix Budget Crisis

Illinois' ongoing budget impasse is a growing source of frustration for members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation.

Senator Dick Durbin says right now, Illinois leaders working in Washington aren't a factor in solving the stalemate.

Durbin isn't happy with the fallout...

The concept of locking in lawmakers was also shared across the aisle as Congressman Darin LaHood has offered similar words. 

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COGFA Says There's Looming Threats To Illinois' Economy

There are some looming threats on the horizon for Illinois’ economy, according to the latest report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

COGFA Executive Director Dan Long says the economic forecast they commissioned Moody’s to produce indicates several risks for Illinois, including the continued budget problems. When it comes to other threats, Long says people moving out of the state can impact several sectors from state and local governments to the consumer laden industries.

Long says because of the state’s shaky finances it may take longer for population and jobs to rebound. The Moody’s report says even with Illinois’ advantages, uncertainty stemming from the ongoing financial crisis threatens to discourage firms from locating or remaining in the state.

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COGFA Says Illinois Threats Include Uncertainty

While the U.S. and Midwest are seeing decreasing unemployment rates, Illinois’ seems to be headed the other way, and that’s just one of the threats the state’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability sees in a new report.

Continued uncertainty was one of the threats outlined in a Moody’s economic forecast about Illinois commissioned by COGFA. Dan Long, executive director of COGFA, says Illinois’ unemployment rate is increasing while other areas of the U.S. and the nation as a whole have decreasing unemployment rates. Long says companies don’t like the Land of Lincoln’s uncertainty.

The Moody’s report says manufacturing and transportation businesses could be weary of coming to Illinois because it’s unclear if their taxes will increase to help pay off Illinois’ growing deficit.

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DeWitt County Leader: No Opposition To Animal Shelter Project

It's a rare thing in society today, no one has a bad word to say about something, but that is exactly what the leader of one DeWitt County project has said he's heard.

Chris Rogers heads the DeWitt County Board's Public Safety Committee and he indicates he has heard no opposition to the County's efforts to give Animal Control a new facility. He goes as far to say he's heard no opposition to the happenings of the County Board as a whole.

The cost of the completed animal shelter will not even reach $400-thousand. Rogers explains the renovation of the former Black's Heating and Air Condition building is not all falling on the taxpayers either.

County Board Chair David Newberg gives a lot of credit to Rogers for seamlessly carrying on the work started by former-Board Member Dan Ballenger. Newberg says between the two, they have made this project much less expensive than it could have been.

For Rogers, he hopes to begin the move in process before the end of March. He explains they will have a host of volunteers to help move from the current facility to their new location off Route 10.

Rogers and Newberg indicate DeWitt County will have a state of the art facility once everything is completed. 

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Political Expert Predicts Elections Playing Large Part in Budget Process

It has been speculated the budget stalemate in Springfield will resolve itself once the March primaries are concluded.

With less than a month to go before those elections, the likelihood of that happening seems to increase with each passing day and political expert, Dr. Kent Redfield at the University of Illinois-Springfield says there are some interesting races going on in Illinois.

Redfield points to a central Illinois race, where Sen. Sam McCann is being challenged. Redfield says his opponent is being funded heavily by a group aligned with Governor Rauner. He believes that race has it's own message.

Redfield points out, that won't change the fact you need 60 votes in the House and 30 votes in the Senate on a bill the Governor will sign in order to get anything done. 

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Warm, Dry Spring Predicted

THE LATEST LONG TERM FORECAST SHOWS ILLINOIS MIGHT BE IN FOR A WARM, DRY SPRING.

THE LATEST NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MODEL SHOWS INCREASED CHANCES FOR ABOVE AVERAGE TEMPERATURES AND BELOW AVERAGE RAINFALL FROM MARCH THROUGH MAY. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL SAYS THERE ARE NO DROUGHT WORRIES YET.

THE SUMMER FORECAST IS CALLING FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPS AND AVERAGE PRECIPITATION.

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Republicans Pushing For Unfunded Mandate Relief

Legislation to eliminate restrictions on school districts contracting with third parties would free up millions of dollars to invest back in the classroom, according to Illinois’ governor.

Governor Bruce Rauner says the goal is to allow for flexibility and get more funds into the the classroom by giving school districts the ability to contract with third parties. Republican State Senator Jason Barickman says the legislation would allow local districts to make the best choices on where to spend limited resources for various services.

In a statement Democratic Senator Don Harmon said school districts may contract with third-party providers already, but the vendors need to demonstrate they will achieve savings through better business practices, and quote “not just by cutting the bus drivers’ wages or taking health insurance away from the lunch ladies.”

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Rep. Brady on Budget

Governor Bruce Rauner told Illinois lawmakers they can have a budget with compromise, spending cuts, and new taxes. -- Or the state will get a budget with billions in budget cuts alone.

State Rep Dan Brady says Governor Rauner will offer Democrats in Springfield some new taxes, but only in exchange for pieces of his turn-around agenda.

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ISU Concerned Over Budget

There wasn't much talk of higher education during the governor's budget address this past week, but there was some afterwards with the State Board of Higher Education.

Illinois State University’s Director of State Government Affairs Jonathan Lackland says Education Secretary Beth Purvis held a briefing after Bruce Rauner's budget speech Wednesday.

That's for next year's budget, though. ISU President Larry Dietz (DEE-tz) is wondering where this year's budget is.

Dietz says the university has already planned a budget around a ten percent cut and it's prepared for any number of funding scenarios.

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Congressman LaHood Comments on Supreme Court Situation

18th District Congressman Darin LaHood offers his thoughts on the replacement process for recently-deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. LaHood said his thoughts and prayers go to the family of Justice Scalia, and added he leaves a tremendous void with the Court.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, just hours after Scalia’s passing over the weekend, was reported as saying the Senate should not confirm a replacement for Supreme Court until after a new president is elected.

McConnell, along with every other Republican senator in a Democratically-controlled Senate, voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in Ronald Reagan’s final year of presidency.

Barrack Obama is in his final year of presidency and has gotten two other justices to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

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Warm, Dry Spring Predicted

THE LATEST LONG TERM FORECAST SHOWS ILLINOIS MIGHT BE IN FOR A WARM, DRY SPRING.

 

THE LATEST NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MODEL SHOWS INCREASED CHANCES FOR ABOVE AVERAGE TEMPERATURES AND BELOW AVERAGE RAINFALL FROM MARCH THROUGH MAY. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL SAYS THERE ARE NO DROUGHT WORRIES YET.

 

 

THE SUMMER FORECAST IS CALLING FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPS AND AVERAGE PRECIPITATION.

 

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Mild, Sunny Weekend Expected

It was a very windy introduction to the weekend Friday but Saturday and Sunday are expected to be unseasonably warm. State Climotologist Jim Angel has the latest.
 

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Chamber Calls For Small Business Investment Tax

Illinois economy is set to take a hit, according to the most recent state report on mass layoffs, and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce says there must be tax reforms, among other changes, to help stem the bleeding. 
 
The latest Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act report has a dozen businesses reporting more than 1,100 layoffs combined in the coming months. Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Todd Maisch (MY-shh) says every business has their reasons for shutting down, relocating or cutting their workforce, but there are things lawmakers can do to help small businesses out, like having pro-investment tax policies. 
 
When asked about tax policy Wednesday, Speaker Michael Madigan said he’s hoping to reform taxes to bring about an extra tax on millionaires, but didn’t address any other possible tax reforms. Meanwhile, Maisch says there needs to be reforms to workers’ compensation to ensure only people hurt on the job get the benefit. 

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Push For Local Control in Schools

Schools for years have been complaining about the state passing rules and regulations for them without backing it up with funding to implement them. 
 
One state senator - Jason Barickman from Bloomington is trying to do something about that. He’s the chief sponsor of a Senate Bill that would remove three mandates from schools: eliminate or ease the restrictions of third party contracting, the requirement to offer drivers ed and physical education. Barickman says this relief will give local control back to schools.
 
 
Barickman says that this won’t automatically lead to schools dropping programs like PE but allows for locals to choose where they want to spend money.
 
 
The Governor’s office today in a press release estimates the savings of the proposed bill at $200 million a year. 

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Sen. Manar Says Holes in Governor's Education Plan

After taking a closer look at the Governor's proposal to increase spending for K-12 students, State Senator Andy Manar says Governor Rauner still needs to make further changes to the school funding formula. 
 
Manar says schools with greater need will lose out to schools with higher enrollments and the Governor's plan could have some schools fall between the cracks of his plan to boost K through 12 funding.
 
 
Manar called for greater accountability for the Governor's school funding plan...
 
 
 
Manar is still crediting the Governor with boosting funding for schools overall. 

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Clinton Chamber's Haunted House Undergoing Minor Renovation

The Clinton Chamber's Haunted house is undergoing a small renovation that may not be noticeable when thousands of visitors show up in October.
 
Executive Director Marian Brisard indicates they are having the house's roof replaced. She says this was a much a needed fix. 
 
 
Brisard says the updated roof is just the latest of the improvements the Chamber has invested in for an attraction that draws thousands of visitors year after year.

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County Approves $48-Hundred Dollars in Work At New Animal Shelter

As DeWitt County gets as close as it has been to a new animal shelter, some minor work at the site has come up.

According to Chair of the Public Safety Committee, Chris Rogers, a door to be installed on the west side of the facility was completely overlooked, and now they are having to go back and install one.

Additionally, to complete some work on the inside of the facility, courtesy of the non-profit group Second Chance for Pets of DeWitt County, Rogers indicates an overhead door will be installed.

Rogers indicates cages for the inside of the building will be in next week, and they will receive the certificate of occupation next week and at that point, the shelter will be move in ready.

Wilson-Schleder Construction was approved for the entryways work at a total cost of $48-hundred.

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Okaw Valley, Corn Belt Conferences Tentatively Agree To Merge

The Okaw Valley Conference is once again going through a change.

The conference has tentatively agreed to merge with the Corn Belt Conference. Superintendent of Monticello Schools, Dr. Vic Zimmerman says the two conferences have agreed to merge, though the deal will be finalized once all the boards of the ten schools give the approval.

The Okaw Valley has been through a lot of change in recent years and Dr. Zimmerman says they hope this is the start of some stability for Monticello schools as it relates to their conference affiliation.

When discussing a conference merger, there are more considerations than just athletics. Dr. Zimmerman explains the merger with the Corn Belt is going to offer their students extracurricular opportunities along with opportunities for their teachers.

If approved by all schools, the two conferences will merge for the 2017-18 school year. Dr. Zimmerman says a new conference name is not decided but indicates they may let the Principals of the various schools collaborate to allow students to have input on the name in some capacity.

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Local Zoo Offering Free Admissions in February

There's still a few more opportunities for families to check out the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington at no cost.

The zoo is offering free admissions on Fridays in February. Jay Tetzloff is the Superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo and says the zoo started this a couple years ago and it's their way of offering families and groups an opportunity they may not otherwise be able to afford.

For the Miller Park Zoo, the timing of the free Fridays serves a couple purposes. Tetzloff explains February is generally a slower month for them, so this is a way to still get people into the zoo. But also, he notes, because of the city's financial situation, he feels doing a free day in the summer is not something they can afford to do.

With temperatures Friday expected to be in the 60s, Tetzloff anticipates a big crowd. 

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Survey Says Slight Improvement in Bankers' View of Rural Economy

A new survey suggests there's been a little improvement in some bankers' views of the rural economy in their 10 Western and Plains states.

A report released Thursday says February's Rural Mainstreet Index rose to 37.0 from 34.8 in January. Survey officials say any score below 50 on any of the survey's indexes suggests that factor will decline.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the monthly survey, and he says it's the sixth straight month that the index has registered below growth neutral.

The report says 8.7 percent of bank CEOs who responded say their local economy was expanding while 36.9 percent say their local economy was in a recession.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Rauner Waiting on Next Budget Move

One day after his budget address, Governor Rauner says he hears hopeful signs for progress toward a budget from rank and file lawmakers but he says the ball is in the court of his political rival House Speaker Mike Madigan.

The House is scheduled to return to session March 1st.

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Rauner Develops Cabinet For Education, Young People

Gov. Bruce Rauner has launched a special cabinet to streamline education and issues regarding young people across Illinois.

Rauner visited Riverton Middle School, near Springfield, to sign an executive order to create the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Youth. He says the current efforts of state government are disjointed at best.

Rauner says the special cabinet won't bring added bureaucracy...

Rauner will serve as chair of the special cabinet. The cabinet has nearly 20 members, including the chiefs of state agencies like the Department of Children and Family Services and Department of Juvenile Justice.

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Rank and File Members React To Governor's Budget

Democrats think the governor’s budget address was lacking while Republicans thought the governor knocked it out of the park.

Democratic Senator Toi Hutchinson says Governor Bruce Rauner’s second budget address had a more positive tone and she’s hopeful there will be true negotiations, but says there were some things lacking from the speech.

Hutchinson also says there are some fundamental philosophical differences Democrats must iron out with Rauner and the Republicans. However, Republican Senator Kyle McCarter says the governor provided the best approach to fixing Illinois’s budget problems by reforming the state’s business climate.

McCarter echoed the governor’s call for reforms to workers’ comp, tort law, and less regulations as a way to increase the tax base through economic growth. 

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Lawmakers Differ on Direction of State

As you’d expect, there’s differing opinion among Democrats and Republicans on the quality of Governor Bruce Rauner’s second budget address.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans says after hearing the governor’s speech, she’s unclear what direction lawmakers should go.

However, Republican Senator Jim Oberweis says the governor laid out the path forward, and the answer out of the budget mess is economic growth.

Oberweis echoed the governor’s call for economic reforms Republicans say are needed to increase the shrinking tax base. Governor Rauner gave his second budget address more than seven and a half months into the fiscal year without a full budget in place.

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Group of Lawmakers Want To Bump Smoking Age to 21

Some lawmakers want to move the smoking age back to the same mark as the drinking age.

State Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) believes the legislation would do much more than make young people wait to buy their first legal cigarette, it might just prevent that day entirely.

Mulroe says Illinois families, especially young ones, struggle with the rising cost of cigarettes as well. 

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Woman Arrested After DUI Accident of Stolen Vehicle on Interstate-57

One person has been arrested on multiple charges following a two-vehicle crash involving a stolen vehicle on Interstate 57 Thursday afternoon.

According to the Illinois State Police, the crash on I-57 Southbound in Champaign County near mile post 236 involved a stolen a 2005 GMC Envoy and 2004 GMC garbage truck that were traveling southbound on I-57 in the left lane. 

A truck-tractor double trailer was driving in the right lane in the same location, and slowed down to allow the garbage truck to pass when the Envoy moved into the gap between both trucks, then sped up and attempted to pass the garbage truck on the right side, cutting in front of the truck and colliding with the truck's front passenger side. 

According to a release by State Police, the garbage truck lost control, flipped onto the driver's side while blocking both lanes of traffic, while the Envoy came to rest in the grass median.

Both drivers were taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries, and I-57 southbound lanes were blocked and reduced for several hours. The Envoy was a reported stolen vehicle, and the driver of the Envoy was identified as 31-year old Kim Willis who was subsequently arrested on preliminary charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, driving under the influence of drugs, driving while license is revoked for DUI, no insurance, reckless driving, and improper lane usage. 

The garbage truck will remain on the southbound shoulder until tomorrow morning.

All lanes have been reopened.

The investigation into this crash is ongoing.

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Clinton Chamber Readies For Agri-Business Banquet

The Clinton Chamber's ninth agri-business banquet is right around the corner.

Clinton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Marian Brisard hopes ag professionals and farmers will join them at the Clinton Country Club February 27. She says they have always had a great deal of support from the business community to host this event.

Those that attend won't just leave with a great meal, the Chamber always coordinates for a guest speaker to discuss issues facing farmers and agriculture professionals. Brisard indicates this year's speaker is Mark Gold of Top Third Marketing.

Free tickets can be acquired from Baum Chevrolet Buick, Cross Brothers Implements, DeWitt County Farm Bureau, Douglas Dodge, First National Bank, Maroa Ag and Beason Ag Centers, Monsanto Company, Moore and Warner Farm Management, Peterson Insurance and State Bank of Lincoln. 

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Sen. Rose Echoes Gov. Rauner's Message of 'Time To Act'

State Senator Chapin Rose took a few minutes Wednesday afternoon to react to Governor Bruce Rauner's Budget Address.

He says the Governor isn't sugarcoating the issues. He echoed the Governor's message, which is, it is time to act.

Governor Rauner also sent a message of a lack of economic growth in Illinois, and that being the result of a poor business climate. Sen. Rose pointed outs if Illinois brings itself in line with the rest of America, there would be more jobs and revenues.

The Governor touched on topics from K-12 education to urging lawmakers to pass Sen. President Cullerton's pension reform bill. 

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Rep. Mitchell Says Governor's Request is Reasonable

Citing "an emergency on our hands," Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday implored the General Assembly to help him break a partisan logjam that has left the state without an operating budget for the past eight months or else give him the authority to unilaterally cut spending to address a shortfall of more than $4 billion.

Following the message, State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) said the state can’t spend money that it doesn’t have and he agrees with Rauner’s attempt to break the gridlock. 

The Governor touched on topics from K-12 education to urging lawmakers to pass Sen. President Cullerton's pension reform bill. 

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Rep. Brady Says Governor's Address Encouraging

Encouraging is the way one lawmaker described Wednesday's budget address by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Following Governor Rauner’s Budget Address in Springfield Wednesday, State Representative Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) said it’s clear the Governor is committed to reaching a reasonable solution to the devastating 8-month long budget stalemate.

The Governor touched on topics from K-12 education to urging lawmakers to pass Sen. President Cullerton's pension reform bill. 

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Madigan Says Governor's Address 'Light on Facts'

House Speaker Mike Madigan says it was clear the number one problem in Illinois is the budget deficit.

He says that we can’t cut our way out of the current situation. He wants to see reforms but also increases in revenues. But the budget message that Bruce Rauner delivered was lacking on many facts.

The Governor wants full funding restored to K-12 education and a $75 million increase in early childhood. But then after reading the budget he is proposing a 25 percent cut to higher education funding. Madigan says the Governor was light on specifics but that was his choice.

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Madigan Differs on Governor's Budget Take

If Democrat lawmakers won’t go along with the governor’s proposed reforms in exchange for GOP support for tax increases, the governor provided another choice to give him broader budget authority to manage the state’s limited resources. Leaders from both parties are reacting.

Speaker Michael Madigan said giving the governor broader authority to make cuts or shift funds to fill budget holes differs from his constitutional power through line item veto.

Governor Rauner said lawmakers must make the choice between the two options without delay.

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Legislative Leaders React To Governor's Budget Speech

REACTION TO GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER’S BUDGET ADDRESS WAS MIXED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.

REPUBLICANS, LIKE SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHRISTINE RADOGNO SAY THE GOVERNOR EXPRESSED HIS WILLINGNESS TO WORK WITH LEGISLATORS, AND CLEARLY LAID OUT THEIR OPTIONS. THAT INCLUDES PASSING HIS REFORMS TO HELP IMPROVE THE STATE ECONOMY OR GIVING HIM THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE SPENDING CUTS.

DEMOCRATS, LIKE SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON CONTINUE TO ARGUE THAT THE REFORMS THE GOVERNOR IS LOOKING FOR WILL HURT WORKING PEOPLE, AND SHOULDN’T BE TIED TO THE STATE BUDGET.

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Governor Talks Spending Cuts, Education in Budget Address

Dedicated discussion towards cuts and reforms and education spending were the highlights to Governor Bruce Rauner's budget address Wednesday afternoon.

Governor Bruce Rauner called on lawmakers to stop passing spending bills that are dead on arrival and to start negotiating.

The Governor says the true solution to fixing the budget is growing the state's economy.

If reforms are not passed, the Governor says big cuts are going to have to be made.

Governor Rauner proposes fulling funding General State Aid foundation level for K-12 education for the first time in seven years.

The Governor says he genuinely wants to work with lawmakers to begin turning Illinois around. He says they must take action now.

Governor Rauner is calling on the legislature to either negotiate or to give the executive branch the authority to cut spending. He says this is something that has happened in Illinois before.

Governor Rauner also called for increases in early childhood education funding and for the Senate to pass President John Cullerton's pension reform bill.

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Clinton Board of Education Discusses Special Group For Sales Tax Initiative

With almost exactly a month to the March primaries in Illinois, DeWitt County voters are going to be asked to make a decision that will effect the Clinton School District.

A one-cent sales tax proposal will be placed before DeWitt County voters. Superintendent Curt Nettles explains he is hoping advocates of the tax will step forward and head a group to inform the public.

Facilities and technology are the two main purposes of the sales tax and Nettles indicates you can also abate taxes, which would be a great benefit for the district with debt from the new elementary school.

Among other targeted items within the district, Nettles points to outdoor facility upgrades along with additional storage.

School Board President John Blythe understands the stigma that comes with a tax proposal but says the streams of revenue the district has are in jeopardy. He says this will be a source of income from things not a part of day to day living expenses.

According to Nettles, there is a chance this opportunity for Illinois communities could go away. He was informed of legislation that would sunset the tax after a certain amount of time.

For Nettles, the possibility is there could be other taxes the district might be able to drop because of having the one-cent sales tax in place. He emphasizes this tax will not be applied to things like groceries or bigger ticket items like cars, boats or agriculture equipment or medicine.

Nettles indicates his door is always open to talk with individuals or small groups about this. He hopes to get in front of a number of community groups in the coming weeks to discuss the tax.

The referendum will appear on the March 15 primary. 

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Lincoln Ready To Move Ahead With New Streets Dept. Facility

The community of Lincoln has been in the process of finding a new home for the streets department after it came to light their current facility was standing on contaminated ground.

According to Mayor Marty Neitzel, the city is getting close to having their new facility as they prepare to take it out for bid. She says things continue to come together to get that process going.

Mayor Neitzel indicates not only is the current facility sitting on contaminated ground, but it is also a very small structure. She explains it will be an ideal location and will be big enough to house all the equipment they have.

Because of the contaminated ground, the new facility will be paid for in part by the gas company. Mayor Neitzel says that is a great bargain for the City of Lincoln.

The Mayor says the new streets department facility is one of just many facility discussions that are going on. She points to the police station that is becoming too small for their needs and says all facility needs are up for discussion at this point, but cautions they won't go so quickly they get the city into financial problems. 

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Mild Extended Forecast Through March

While it’s still over a month until the official arrival of spring, the forecast is starting to show some sign it’s on the way.

Eric Schmidt of Newton, IL based EJS weather says it will feel a little spring like by the end of the week.

Next week is expected to be a little above normal as well, and Schmidt says the longer range forecast calls March to have above average temperatures.

Eric Schmidt of EJS weather.

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Political Expert Says Lack of Urgency in Springfield 'Distressing'

While the State of Illinois has been operating without a budget for about eight months, the State is to a degree, operating like there is a budget in place.

Representative Bill Mitchell recently called the state on "autopilot" and political expert Dr. Kent Redfield says the lack of urgency in Springfield is "distressing". He calls it "a big game of chicken" between lawmakers.

Redfield says this is going to collapse at some point. He points out the state is spending money they don't have, putting the state farther in a hole and predicts serious financial problems.

The trickle down effect has reached proportions where universities face shutdowns. He says it could take a serious scenario like a university shutting down or even someone dying from a lack of services for lawmakers to come together.

Redfield says once a budget is passed, the State will have lost a year of revenue and predicts a tax increase of some sort and major budget cuts. He calls it much more difficult because of spending while not bringing in as much revenue as the state should. 

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Sen. Durbin Weighs in on Supreme Court

Senator Dick Durbin is seeing red over protests from some Congressional Republicans for President Obama to let the next President to pick the successor to Supreme Court Antonin Scalia.

Durbin doesn't subscribe to the thought that Obama is a lame duck when it comes to choosing new members of the Supreme Court.

Durbin describes Justice Scalia as very bright, very funny, very social and credits him with devoting more than three decades of his life to public service.

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City Council Looking To Bring Major Country Performers To Clinton

The utilization of the new stage and seating area on the square is the aim of the latest proposal from the Clinton City Council.

Monday night, Commissioner Nan Crang proposed to the Council a measure that would bring two major acts to the downtown Clinton Mr. Lincoln Square. Crang says the goal is have either up and coming performing artists or new to the scene performers arrive in Clinton.

Crang hopes the event can be a piggyback for non-profit groups in town. She feels this would be a great opportunity for the community.

The City is looking at a budget of $30-thousand to host a pair of concerts in early summer and early fall. 

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DeWitt County Sheriff's Office Looking To Future

Looking to the future is the name of the game in the DeWitt County Sheriff's office lately.

Sheriff Jered Shofner explains they are in the midst of updating their strategic plan, which will lay out a vision for their department for the next five years.

According to Sheriff Shofner, they hope to attack three areas. He says community engagement, community partnerships and continued professionalism.

Community involvement is a top priority for the Sheriff and he feels coming up with a plan to engage different demographics. He feels they get so caught up in dealing with criminals they forget to engage with the law abiding citizens.

The Sheriff's office will approach technology in their strategic plan update. The Sheriff says they have to be careful when it comes to social media and their presence online.

Sheriff Shofner points out, what people often don't realize is the law enforcement officials of the community are involved in other aspects, and he hopes to highlight those things and get their officers more involved and active.

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No Wall of Honor Inductees At Clinton High School in 2016

There will be no one inducted into the Wall of Honor at Clinton High School in 2016.

Principal Jerry Wayne, who sits on a committee charged with deciding who is inducted, says the committee this year did not feel there was anyone who was appropriate of being nominated.

Wayne notes the nominations they receive are considered each year for five years, however, he says applications for those candidates can always be modified or renewed after the five years.

Wayne indicates they want to keep the Wall of Honor as being a special recognition of graduates of Clinton High School. 

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Springfield Looking To Future To Celebrate Obama's Past

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder is teaming up with state officials and the local chapter of the NAACP to commemmorate key spots in President Obama's journey from the Illinois Senate to the US upper chamber to becoming the first African American in the White House.

Additional information about the committee and its planning will be available in the coming months.

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New School Funding Formula One of Two Things

Republican Ron Sandack says the push for a new school funding task force in Springfield is one of two things.

Either, he says, the move by Speaker Madigan is another delaying tactic. Or it’s an opportunity to change how Illinois pays for education by saving Chicago’s public schools.

Sandack says downstate and suburban schools are going to demand freedom, choice, or a roll-back of state mandates for classrooms. Like the four year mandate for p.e. in high school.

Sandack says downstate and suburban schools won’t agree to give-up money to bail-out Chicago without getting something substantial in return. 

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LaHood Among Recipients For Order of Lincoln

On Abraham Lincoln's 207th birthday, Governor Bruce Rauner has announced honors for one of a kind leaders from Illinois.

Former Secretary of Transportation and longtime Peoria based Congressman Ray LaHood leads a list of Order of Lincoln winners that includes some household names. LaHood says his time in the Obama Cabinet was a one of a kind experience.

In a time of increased talk of term limits, the end of LaHood's Congressional career was self imposed.

The Order of Lincoln is the state’s highest honor for professional achievement and public service. In addition to LaHood, honorees include another Peoria native Nancy Goodman Brinker. She founded the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity, which leads the fight against breast cancer.

Robert Gilmore Industrial leader and philanthropist.

Also honored is Chicago Mercantile Exchange Chairman Leo Melamed, Scott Simon Host of NPR's 'Weekend Edition Saturday" and Bradley University professor and state poet laureate Kevin Stein.

The Order of Lincoln will be presented at the 52nd Annual Convocation and Investiture of Laureates in Peoria on May 7. 

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Winter Weather Advisory in Effect for Listening Area

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for all of the Regional Radio listening area thru Sunday night.

The Weather Service says snow will spread over the listening area on Sunday as a storm system pushes across the Midwest. Current indications suggest snowfall totals will range from 2 to 4 inches, with the heavier totals along and northwest of the Illinois River.

Most of the snow should taper off to flurries during Sunday evening as the storm system shifts away from Illinois with a warming trend pushing into the region early next week.  There is also a chance of freezing drizzle Sunday night into Monday according to the Weather Service.

Daytime highs on Monday will range from 35 to 40, with the thaw continuing on Tuesday as afternoon temperatures rise into the upper 30s to lower 40s.

Stay tuned to Regional Radio and our on-line daily newspaper for the latest weather information.

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Lincoln Heritage Committee Hosting "The Humerous Mr. Lincoln"

DeWitt County's Lincoln Heritage Committee will be hosting a special program next week that falls in line with the recognition of Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

 

Friday, the country took time to recognize the birthday of one of America's great leaders and this Thursday, the Lincoln Heritage Committee will host a program titled "The Humorous Mr. Lincoln" with guest speaker Kim Bauer.

 

The program is at 6:30 pm at the Warner Public Library in Clinton.

 

The program is free.

 

For further details contact 217-935-3364.

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Precision Conservation Program Receives National Grant

A precision conservation program geared to get more farmers engaged in best management practices that protect water quality and prevent nutrient loss has been awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 
The Precision Conservation Management (PCM) program was submitted by the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) to the USDA for consideration for funding under the agency's Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

 

The PCM program is designed to achieve 4 main priorities.

 

The first is to promote adoption of conservation practices by providing farmers with an informed assessment of financial risks and benefits resulting from adoption of new practices.

 

It encourages participation in conservation programs by providing data entry and paperwork submission services, data management, and report generation serviced to meet the requirements of Natural Resources Conservation Service and Field to Market.

 

It hopes to track, analyze, and demonstrate changes in farmer practices by providing aggregated and anonymized data for analysis of conservation practices from agronomic and economic perspectives, including analysis at a watershed or millshed scale.

 

And finally, to achieve natural resource benefits on the farm and over a large-scale, regional basis that improve crop productivity, water quality, soil health, and help avoid the need for regulatory requirements.

 

More information about the PCM program can be found on the IL Corn website at www.ilcorn.org/pcm.

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Weekly Weather Summary

There was some light snow in a couple parts of this week and State Climotologist Jim Angel says we will see a continued cold spell and even snow this weekend.

 

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Truck Limits an Economic Issue in Illinois

Transportation is key to economic growth, especially here in Illinois where we are a major shipping center for the nation, but truck length regulations, which vary within the state, tend to inhibit the ability to efficiently move goods.

 

For example, on major highways trucks are allowed to observe nation standard for truck length, but get off the state roads and interstate highways to length limit drops to 55 feet. Don Shaeffer of the Midwest Truckers Assoc explains the problem.

 

 

For farmers, most livestock and grain trailer are designed to national standards… meaning the exceed the 55 foot limit. Shaeffer says it will take a legislative change in Springfield to make all areas of the state accessible to legal length trucks.

 

 

Trucks often have to stop, and switch loads from longer trucks to shorter legal trucks to gain access to off highway businesses, raising the cost of shipping and delaying delivery. 

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Gov. Rauner Calls Out Legislature

At least one lawmaker wants Illinois’ governor to call both chambers back for a special session to work on a budget but the governor says they should just do their job.

 

In the final moments of a short session Thursday Democratic Representative Jack Franks said Governor Bruce Rauner should order lawmakers back for a special session.

 

 

However, Governor Rauner said earlier this week that forcing lawmakers to come back won’t work, noting lawmakers haven’t taken up any of his proposed reform ideas like term limits, redistricting, workers’ comp or a property tax freeze with local cost controls.

 

 

Rauner said attempts at special sessions, or even four leaders meetings, by past governors didn’t work. 

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Lawmakers Ressurect Voter Bill

SOME ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE RESURRECTING A UNION NEGOTIATION BILL.

 

THE BILL IS BACKED BY AFSCME, THE LARGEST STATE EMPLOYEE UNION REPRESENTING ABOUT 38 THOUSAND WORKERS. IT SENDS CONTRACT TALKS TO BINDING ARBITRATION IF AN AGREEMENT CAN’T BE REACHED AND IS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS WELCH OF WESTCHESTER.

 

 

BUT OPPONENTS, LIKE REPRESENTATIVE DWIGHT KAY OF EDWARDSVILLE SAY THIS IS TAKING AWAY THE STATE’S POWER TO NEGOTIATE.

 

 

A SIMILAR BILL PASSED BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE LAST YEAR BUT WAS VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR. AFSCME WORKERS HAVE BEEN WITHOUT A CONTRACT SINCE JULY FIRST.

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State Rep. Calls For Governor To Call For Special Work Session

Taxpayers could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars if the governor calls for a special session to pass a budget, as one lawmaker has requested.

 

Just before adjourning from a short session Thursday Democratic Representative Jack Franks said the governor should call a special session for next week.

 

 

When asked earlier this week why he doesn’t call a special session to put together a budget, Governor Bruce Rauner said forcing members to Springfield doesn’t work.

 

 

 

If the governor calls a special session for each of the 177 legislators, each would get their per diem and travel reimbursement at an estimated cost to taxpayers of over $45,000 each day. 

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Children Advocacy Centers Applying For K-9 Unit

Abused children in central Illinois who seek help through the Children's Advocacy Centers could be greeted and assisted through the process by a dog.

The Children's Advocacy Centers serve DeWitt, McLean and Livingston Counties, and their Executive Director, Judy Brucker, explains they have applied to have a dog join their staff as a way for their kids to find relief.

By the time an agency like the Children's Advocacy Centers acquire the dogs, they are two years old and have gone through extensive training. Brucker also notes the dogs handler has to go through extensive training as well.

The Child Protection Network, the fundraising arm of the CAC, has approved the agency to send a staff member to go through a two week process to train with the dog. Brucker indicates there will be a couple caregivers for their potential dog.

Brucker indicates the application process was very extensive. She says not only was the agency's end of things extensive, but they had to designate a person in their office to handle the dog, who then had to go through a very extensive background check.

According to Brucker, the Child Protection Network has also agreed to provide things like food and vet care for a year but she hope to find private funds at the same time.

Brucker hopes they could get the dog this year however, the push for these types of dogs in offices across the state are very popular.

She notes, currenlty, only dog is in service in Illinois. 

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State Rep. Says Bigger Universities Have Money For Over A Year

Illinois' bigger state universities, the U of I and Illinois State, can wait a bit longer for state government to get its act together.

State Rep Dan Brady says the bigger schools are not like Chicago State, or Eastern and Western Illinois Universities which he says are teetering on the brink.

Brady says phony votes, like one last week on MAP Grants doesn't help the schools or the students.

State Rep Dan Brady says some Illinois universities, Eastern and Western included, need a financial solution from the state now.

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Rep. Butler Says Fairgrounds Foundation is "No Brainer"

Illinois’ agricultural businesses could take some of the burden off taxpayers when it comes to maintaining the state’s fairgrounds with a measure to create a fairgrounds foundation.

Chief sponsor of the measure, Republican Representative Tim Butler, says for him it’s a no-brainer.

Meanwhile Butler says there’s millions of dollars in deferred maintenance at the state’s fairgrounds, something Illinois’ agribusiness may want to assist with as a way make the property better and possibly bring new programs.

Democratic Representative Jerry Costello said in a statement he supports the bill, but said private partnerships should maintain the quote “integrity of prevailing wage.” Illinois law requires work done on state owned property to follow local prevailing wage rates regardless if it’s funded wholly or in part by public dollars. 

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Lawmakers Propose Fairground Foundation

With the state in financial dire straits, a bipartisan group of lawmakers are pushing for a measure to create a foundation to generate private donations for the state’s fairgrounds.

Republican Representative Tim Butler says the state’s red ink continues to grow and having the private sector invest in the fairgrounds makes sense.

Butler says he didn’t have an exact figure but was certain there is millions of dollars in deferred maintenance costs taxpayers can’t afford. In a statement about House Bill 4990 Democratic Representative Jerry Costello says he looks forward to working with both sides to create the foundation while also working toward bipartisan solutions to strengthen the state’s fiscal situation. 

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Clinton Community Educational Foundation Hands Out Teacher Grants

Surprised teachers and curious students were greeted Thursday morning by members of the Clinton Community Educational Foundation's board as they received teacher grants they applied for at the beginning of the year.

Barbara Gullone and Nancy Stokowski along with administrators of the various school buildings interrupted class time briefly for eight classrooms across the Clinton School District to award them with their grants. Gullone indicates around $7-thousand was awarded this year.

According to Gullone, they try to award between $8 and $10-thousand a year. She says the grants allow teachers to enhance their education.

Mary Diener is the Principal of Clinton Elementary School where $39-hundred was awarded in grants across four classrooms. She says the grants allow greater opportunities for students while not straining the school's budget.

Several of the grant awards went towards technology and Dawn Timmerman, Assistant Principal of Clinton Elementary School, says the technology piece of their curriculum continues to grow.

Diener says the CCEF has been so supportive of the district and her school specifically. She points out their contributions go far beyond just the classroom grants, but also several assemblies they have been able to put on thanks to their efforts.

Clinton Elementary Classroom Grants went to:

>>Mrs. Peterson's fifth grade students for DARE shirts and their annual celebration. The grant was for $1000.

>>Mrs. Coffman and Mrs. Samp for their reading class good for $1000 in new books.

>>Mrs. Moliotoris and Mrs. Kessinger received $1000 for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) 3D printer.

>>Mrs. Bostic's third grade class received a $900 grant for gingerbread communities.

>>At Clinton High School, Mr. Baldwin's class received a $920 grant for a one-to-one data collection.

>>Mrs. Werts' high school physical education class received $975 for their self-defense curriculum in conjunction with the Clinton Police Department.

>>Mrs. Torbert's classroom at Lincoln Elementary School received $160 for books with CDs for their listening center. 

>>Mrs. Maurer's junior high school classroom received a $1000 grant. (Mrs. Maurer was gone at the time of the grant award)

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President Obama's Springfield Address Highlights Unity, Progress, Future

President Barack Obama's speech before the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday afternoon was one of positive reflection, negative reflection, joking and a perspective on what is wrong with American politics.

President Obama's roughly one hour speech started with humbling stories of his start in Springfield as an Illinois lawmaker but he indicates his start in Illinois taught him a great deal as he paved a way towards the Presidency.

President Obama also noted a vision he had to bring unity to Washington DC, but has been unable to do so. The President believes despite the gridlock, a lot has been accomplished in the past seven years.

The President outlined the point that American politics are relatively the same as they have been through the course of history.

President Obama also hopes to dismiss the notion American politics is broken because of lobbyists. He explains their roles cannot be ignored but compared to previous administrations, the checks and balances in place are far stronger today.

President Obama wants to see there be a better politics. He says politics is not broken and the challenges we face are not insurmountable. He says people simply need to come together and work together.

The President wants to see Congress to take new steps adjust the way Congressional district maps are drawn. He also wants to see more people vote. He notes there is pending legislation in Illinois to increase voter registration by signing individuals up when they get a driver’s license.

President Obama noted it’s partly due to political parties becoming more alike within their own walls and with it, comes the lack of any path towards working together.

President Obama says the problem is with out and easy fix and if it was so easy to accomplish then he would have been able to fix it already. 

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Law Enforcement, Pet Advocates Touting Animal Safety This Week

Frigid temperatures have settle in to central Illinois for the first time this year and local law enforcement officials and pet advocates are reminding residents of a new law to protect your animals.

When the temperatures fall below freezing and weather advisories are issued, it is now the law you provide your pets with proper shelter. Heather Wantland with Second Chance for Pets in DeWitt County says the law is not very specific for enforcement, but she says it now against the law to allow your pets to suffer in the extreme cold.

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says owning an animal requires the responsibility of the owners to take care of them and provide their care. He says it is now the law to make arrangements for them to have adequate shelter during these cold spells.

According to Wantland, the Illinois Humane Act requires pet owners who have their pets outside to provide them with a least a ten foot leash along with a some sort of shelter, food and water.

The law reads quote-"No owner of a companion animal may expose a dog or cat in a manner that place the dog or cat in a life-threatening situation for a prolonged period of time in extreme heat or cold."

The violation of this law is a Class A misdemeanor.

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State Representative Hears Concerns of Local Residents

State Representative Bill Mitchell stopped by Clinton's Snappers Bar and Grill Tuesday morning to hear from local residents.

Much of the concern voiced by local residents was about the budget impasse and concerns over a lack of movement in Springfield. Rep. Mitchell says what Illinois is dealing with is unprecedented.

According to Rep. Mitchell, the government of Illinois is asked to do more than it ever has. He says democrats want more free programs than can be paid for and it's putting the State in the mess it's in.

There are a couple reforms in the works in Illinois to potentially turn the state around and one of those is term limits. Rep. Mitchell says he will support term limits but he doesn't believe that will fix the problem.

Rep. Mitchell feels the way the budget is playing out is a disaster for both political parties. He says he will continue hold public forums in his district and continue to send the messages he's receiving to Springfield. 

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Miller Park's Animal Enrichment Day This Weekend

The Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington will hold on of their two animal enrichment days this weekend.

Jay Tetzloff is the Miller Park Zoo Superintendent and he explains this was something he began six years ago when he arrived at the zoo. He indicates the idea is to engage the animals in their natural behaviors.

The Zoo's winter enrichment day traditionally falls close to their sun bear's birthday. Tetzloff says their bear, named Candy, is the second oldest sun bear in the world.

The Zoo also hopes to be more interactive with kids who come this weekend and give them an idea of what it is like for animals to build habitat or find food.

The event is Saturday afternoon from 1 pm to 3 pm. 

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Rauner Says Financial Transaction Tax Would Be Disaster

The sponsor of a bill to tax certain financial exchanges says it would help Chicago Public Schools, but the governor is adamantly against the proposal.

Amid Chicago Public Schools taking out more than $700 million in bond debt to get through the rest of the school year and calls for nearly half a billion dollars from the state to shore up its finances, Democratic Representative Mary Flowers said her financial transaction tax bill would solve the problems.

Governor Bruce Rauner says the tax would have negative consequences on businesses such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and others.

Rauner says CPS has two options -- either increase taxes, something the Republican governor opposes, or go through reorganization as part of a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which would require a change to state law.
 

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President Carter's Speech Touched on Themes Similar To Today's Speech

Much like today, taxes, the plight of urban areas and even labor issues were among the themes nearly 40 years ago when a U.S. president addressed the Illinois General Assembly.

President Jimmy Carter addressed the Illinois General Assembly in May 1978. After his address, Carter took questions from members of the Legislature. Two questions focused on the Labor Law Reform Act, a measure to set up a framework for unionizing employees across the country. One member who supported the bill noted the loss of manufacturing jobs to southern states with non-union wages, while another member said the measure would be a quote “disastrous piece of legislation for our free enterprise system,” and noted how companies not complying would be quote “blacklisted” from getting federal contracts. Carter said there has to be some threat of punishment.

Despite Carter’s support, the measure ultimately failed, but labor
issues are still being debated in the legislature as part of the governor’s
“turnaround agenda.” President Barack Obama will be the first President in
nearly 40 years to address the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday.

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Independent Colleges Being Hurt By MAP Shutdown

The University of Illinois will survive without MAP grants this semester, but the head of the coalition for independent universities in the state says schools like Augustana and Knox College will have to make some changes.

Dave Tretter with the schools says private, non-profit schools may soon turn down students who need MAP grants.

Tretter says independent schools are suffering because of lawmakers' fight with state universities over pensions and spending.
Additional audio:

Dave Tretter president of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities says private schools in Illinois are suffering as much, if not more, than the big universities. 

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Illinois Second To Last in Residents' Income Recovering Since Beginning of Recession

The rebound of Illinoisans’ income since the recession is second-to-last in the country, but taxpayers have paid more in taxes than most of the country during the same time period. That’s according to Pew Charitable Trusts’ latest Fiscal 50 data.

Pew Research Director Barb Rosewicz (row-SHAY-vitz) gathered data of all 50 states from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and found that since the start of the recession in 2007, personal income in Illinois has done poorly compared to other states.

However, the amount taxpayers have given Illinois in revenue has bounced back in the past eight years.

Rosewicz says Illinois’ growth over the past eight years was only half a percent, beating Nevada’s one-tenth of a percent growth. Meanwhile, Pew’s data shows since the beginning of the recession Illinois’ neighboring states either doubled or tripled the growth of the Land of Lincoln.

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Illinois Ranks 30th in Income Growth Over Last Year

Illinois is just below the middle of the pack when it comes to economic growth over the past four quarters. That’s according to the latest data from Pew Charitable Trusts’ Fiscal 50 project.

Illinois is second-to-last in the country for personal income recovering, only growing half a percent, since the beginning of the recession in 2007. However, in the past four quarters Pew’s Research Director Barb Rosewicz (row-SHAY-vitz) says Illinois landed at No. 30 for personal income growth.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability says Illinois is experiencing the slowest growth since the end of World War II and in a recent report asked if a recession lies near. Both COGFA’s Dan Long and Pew’s Rosewicz note Illinois’ loss of population over the past couple of years. 

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Financial Tax Transaction Remains in Committee For Nearly A Year

An idea for a financial transaction tax on various financial exchanges as a way to shore up more taxes doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Democratic Representative Mary Flowers says her idea of a financial transaction tax could generate billions of dollars a year, something she says would help fix Chicago Public Schools and other issues where state funds aren’t available.

Governor Bruce Rauner said such a tax would force the affected exchanges out of Illinois. Rauner says there are a couple of options Chicago has for their public school system.

Flowers’ House Bill 106 was introduced over a year ago and remains in the Rules Committee with the Chicago Democrat as the only sponsor.

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St. John's Catholic Church Fish Fries Start Friday

With the Lent season upon us, Clinton's St. John's Catholic Church fish fries benefiting the ADK teacher sorority and St. John's Church begin this Friday.

Starting at 5 pm each Friday evening, stop by the church for fish, a pair of sides, dessert and drink for $8.

Children 12 and under eat for $4.

Dinner is served from 5 pm to 7 pm Fridays until March 18. 

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Rep. Mitchell Hopes President Obama Attempts To Be Peacemaker

As the President of the United States gets set to speak before the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday afternoon, one local lawmaker is outlining his hope for the President's address.

State Representative Bill Mitchell says animosity between Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan is as high as it has been at any point yet and Rep. Mitchell is hoping the President's message is one of peacemaking.

Rep. Mitchell points out the last time a President spoke in Illinois before the legislature was in 1978. While the President and Rep. Mitchell have differences in opinions, he says it will be special to have him in Springfield Wednesday.

The President will speak before the General Assembly at 1:30 pm Wednesday afternoon. Hear his speech in its entirety on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Enrollment Going on For Medicare Part B

Yesterday on Regional Radio News, we outlined the four parts of the Medicare system and what the differences are between each one.

Social Security can help in several aspects of the Social Security enrollment periods and according to Jack Myers, enrollment is going on for Medicare Part B. He says while some may already be enrolled, if you are not, now is a good time to do so.

If you've qualified for Medicare Part B but skipped out on the opportunity for a general enrollment period, to be a part of it, there is going to be a penaly. According to Myers, every year after you turn 65 and you sign up, your monthly premiums will go up.

If you are approaching age 65 and are on disability benefits or are getting a retirement check, a survivors or spouse's check, you are automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B.

For further information or questions on the various aspects and how Social Security plays into the Medicare system, visit www.socialsecurity.gov. 

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Healthcare Analyst Says Decades of 'Lavish' Plans Resulting in Large Bill Backlog

With more than seven months into the fiscal year without a balanced budget from lawmakers, bills continue to stack up -- especially bills for state employees’ high-end health care plans.

Dan Long, executive director of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, says the bills are $2.5 billion and growing. There may have been a willingness from vendors to wait for payments, as they’ve waited in the past, but Long said patience could wear thin.

Goldwater Institute’s Director of Health Care Policy, Naomi Lopez-Bauman, says this is a result of decades of overspending on quote “lavish” health care policies.

The State Journal-Register reports Springfield’s largest hospital systems are owed $76 million dollars for the health care costs of state workers, retirees and their dependents.

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Franks Says Change Formula, But Not On Taxpayers' Backs

Lawmakers from both sides are gearing up to discuss how state tax dollars for primary education are distributed in Illinois.

Republican Representative Grant Wehrli says he’s excited to start crunching numbers and find the best value for all public school pupils.

Democratic Representative Jack Franks says the state needs to address the funding levels of education but not by increasing the tax burden.

A task force announced by Speaker Michael Madigan plans to hold hearings throughout the spring to help draft legislation addressing the funding formula. 

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Richland Community College Names Interim President

The Richland Community College Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Charles Novak as Interim President following the retirement of Dr. Gayle Saunders on February 29, 2016.  The Board of Trustees is engaged in a national search process with the Association of Community College Trustees to select a new President for the College.

“We have great confidence in Dr. Novak, President Emeritus of Richland Community College serving thirteen years as president until his retirement in 2001, to lead the College for this short interim time until we select a new president.”

Charles R. Novak has served twenty three years as a community college president and a number of other years as a continuing education officer, a chief financial officer and chief academic officer.  Although retired, Novak has returned to work on many occasions to help Illinois community colleges including several interim roles as president.

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Clinton United Methodist Men Announce Posters For Pancake Breakfast

The United Methodist Men held a poster contest to help publicize their upcoming Pancake breakfast to be held Saturday, February 27, from 7:00 to 12:30 in Great Hall at the United Methodist Church.

 

Tickets are still available from any United Methodist Man, or Church office. There will also be a silent auction to benefit the camping program.

 

Winners and men are pictured below. Back row: Amerie Hemphill, Don Prather, Alyssa Hart, and Max Stites. Front row: Carson Dillon, Amelia Bundy, Abby VanZee, and Lucy Fisher.

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Clinton Streets Department To Purchase New Dump Truck

Clinton's Public Works department is planning on purchasing a new dump truck.

Public Works Director Steve Lobb explained Monday night to the Clinton City Council they received two bids for the truck and there was roughly a ten thousand dollar difference between the two bids.

Lobb has reservations about one of the bids they received. He says the lower bid from Landmark Ford ($67,479) is hard to ignore but cautioned the Council.

According to Lobb, the purchase will replace a late 90's model the city has. Lobb says they try to keep their purchases to every 15 years but this purchase has surpassed that threshold.

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Political Expert Expects President To Address Bipartisanship

When the President of the United States pays a visit to the State Capital this week, one political expert predicts the President will continue to tout a message from his recent State of the Union.

President Barack Obama will be in Springfield this week to address the Illinois General Assembly and political science expert Dr. Kent Redfield anticipates the President will continue his message of bipartisanship.

As for issues facing the State of Illinois, it is Redfield's belief the President will steer clear of those topics but he speculates redistricting reform and even term limits may come up.

For Redfield, what Obama does after his second term expires could be hinted at with his visit. He explains each President has their own course after they've left office and he says we might get an idea of what that will be for President Obama.

Redfield feels Illinois residents should recognize the President's visit for what is, something historic and special.

Hear the President's speech in it's entirety on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com. Details for the address are still being worked out. 

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Social Security Reminders on Medicare Enrollment

It's enrollment time for Medicare Part A, B, C and D and Social Security is reminding those who need enroll, they can do so through Social Security.

Jack Myers with Social Security explains there are lots of moving parts with this time of year. He says all the parts have different purposes.

Part A and B enrollment is done through Social Security and Myers they also offer financial assistance for Medicare Part D.

There are a couple ways to become eligible for Medicare. There are a few medical conditions individuals can become eligible with but Myers says the most common way people are eligible, is when they turn 65.

There are a lot of things to consider and be aware of with each part of Medicare. Stay with us all week as we continue to provide details about each one.

For further information about financial assistance or enrollment into Medicare through Social Security, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

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Some Consolidation Efforts Have Bipartisan Support

Several measures supporters say will drive value for taxpayers by addressing some consolidation recommendations has bipartisan support.

Among the four measures introduced Friday includes a bill to allow for voter referendum to consolidate governments while another would allow for easier township consolidations. Republican Senator Michael Connelly says businesses do what they can to find cost savings every year, something they hope to replicate in government.

Democratic Representative Jack Franks says lawmakers may not agree on all of the proposals, but there are things they can find common ground on because the current system of 7,000 units of government in Illinois is too bloated and unaccountable.

Franks says consolidating governments can also help keep property taxes low.

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Consolidation Could Happen This Year

Supporters of four measures to help spur on local government consolidations say it will save taxpayers money.

Democratic Representative Jack Franks says there’s a reason property taxes are so high in Illinois.

Franks says there won’t be agreement on all the measures, but he’s confident lawmakers will find common ground on some and move those forward to save taxpayers money. Republican Representative Mark Batinick agrees this is the year to bring about consolidation reforms because it will free up needed resources to spend on things everyone agrees must be funded, like education and various social services.

Governor Bruce Rauner says the four introduced measures will address 8 of 27 recommendations generated by his Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Taskforce.

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Weekly Weather Summary

January weather included wild temperature swings. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more...

 

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Lincoln Presidential Museum Plans Activities to Celebrate Lincoln's Birthday

SEVERAL ACTIVITIES ARE PLANNED THIS MONTH TO CELEBRATE ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY AT THE LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM IN SPRINGFIELD.

 

THE CELEBRATION KICKS OFF ON LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH WITH FREE ADMISSION SAYS MUSEUM SPOKESPERSON CHRIS WILLS.

 

 

THE SPRINGFIELD BALLET COMPANY WILL BE AT THE MUSEUM ON FEBRUARY 16TH TO DEMONSTRATE THE MANY STYLES OF DANCE THAT WERE POPULAR DURING LINCOLN’S TIME. FEBRUARY ALSO MARKS THE LAST MONTH TO SEE THE “UNDYING WORDS” EXHIBIT, EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF SOME OF LINCOLN’S MOST FAMOUS WORDS AND SPEECHES.

 

VISITORS WILL ENJOY FREE ADMISSION ON LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH. THAT DAY WILL FEATURE A BAND PLAYING CIVIL WAR ERA MUSIC…AND SPECIAL AREAS WHERE KIDS CAN LEARN ABOUT THE DIFFERENT JOBS LINCOLN HELD BEFORE BECOMING PRESIDENT SAYS MUSEUM SPOKESPERSON CHRIS WILLS.

 

 

DANCERS WILL BE AT THE MUSEUM ON FEBRUARY 16TH TO DEMONSTRATE POPULAR DANCES FROM LINCOLN’S TIME AND THE “UNDYING WORDS” EXHIBIT EXAMINING THE IMPACT OF SOME OF LINCOLN’S MOST FAMOUS QUOTES WRAPS UP ON THE 28TH.

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Attorney General Urges Taxpayers to Avoid Refund Anticipation Loans

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN IS URGING TAXPAYERS TO AVOID REFUND ANTICIPATION LOANS.

 

EVERYONE WANTS THEIR RETURN BACK QUICKLY…BUT ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN SAYS THESE KINDS OF LOANS ARE NOT THE ANSWER.

 

 

CURRENT LAW LIMITS THE AMOUNT OF INTEREST LENDERS CAN CHARGES AND REQUIRES THEM TO DISCLOSE ANY ASSOCIATED FEES. MADIGAN REMINDS IF YOU NEED HELP FILING YOUR TAXES, THE CENTER FOR ECONOMIC PROGRESS HAS SEVERAL SITES AROUND THE STATE OFFERING FREE ASSISTANCE. VISIT ECONOMIC PROGRESS DOT ORG TO FIND A SITE IN YOUR AREA.

 

IF YOU’RE IN A BIG HURRY TO GET YOUR TAX REFUND, ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN ADVISES AGAINST THESE TYPES OF LOANS.

 

 

ILLINOIS LAW LIMITS HOW MUCH INTEREST REFUND ANTICIPATION LENDERS CAN CHARGE…BUT MADIGAN SAYS THE SAFEST WAY TO GET YOUR RETURN BACK QUICKLY IS TO FILE YOUR TAXES ELECTRONICALLY AND HAVE THE MONEY DIRECT DEPOSITED.

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First Christian Church Hosting Wild Game Dinner

Fellowship and harvested food is the name of an event at a Clinton church next week.
 
First Christian Church of Clinton is hosting their first ever wild game dinner Monday night starting at 6:30 pm. 
 
Attendees are asked to bring their favorite wild game dish to share or a side or dessert dish.
 
The event is free and open to the public. 

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Exelon Makes Contribution to DeWitt Count 4-H

Exelon Clinton Power Station recently made a $1000 contribution to DeWitt County 4-H. 
 
The funds will be used to improve the 4-H fairgrounds in Clinton as the site is the location for the sister counties (Macon and Piatt) for horses, beef, sheep, swine and goats during the yearly 4-H Fair and an expansion of the facilities is necessary. 
 
To date, windows in the Home Ec building have been replaced and a new building for livestock will be added this year. 
 
Exelon's donation will help 4-H expand as interest in livestock continues to grow in the area.

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COGFA: Does a recession lie near?

Is Illinois on the verge of a recession? Not quite yet, but economic growth has definitely slowed. That’s according to the latest monthly report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. 
 
Dan Long, executive director of COGFA, says Illinois’ growth is the slowest it’s been in more than 70 years. 
 
 
In the last quarter of 2015, Long says the state only grew seven-tenths of one percent. If that drops off anymore, Long says the state could go into recession, but truly defining when is difficult. 
 

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COGFA: Consumer spending weakens

Consumers saving their money rather than spending is just one indicator that Illinois could be on the verge of a recession, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. 
 
The initial focus of January’s COGFA report for Illinois asks if a recession lies ahead. Dan Long, executive director of COGFA, says they’re not declaring a recession quite yet. 
 
 
Long says Illinois consumers aren’t spending the money they’re saving from lower gas prices and a further drop off in consumer spending could have a deeper impact on economic growth. 

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Poll: Voters from all political persuasions support criminal justice reform

There’s overwhelming bipartisan support among Illinois voters for criminal justice reforms being promoted by Illinois’ Republican governor, according to a new poll released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. 
 
Benjamin Ruddell, the ACLU of Illinois’ criminal justice policy attorney, says their poll of 800 voters from across the state, and from all political persuasions, produced several results, including nearly three-quarters of those polled agreeing the state’s criminal justice system isn’t working.
 
 
Ruddell says there was also significant support for relaxing penalties for nonviolent drug crimes and other nonviolent offenses. A commission prompted by Governor Bruce Rauner advanced 14 recommendations they hope will help achieve the governor’s goal of reducing the state’s prison population by 25 percent in the next decade.

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Thrift Store Opening Saturday on Clinton's East Side

A new business is coming to Clinton's east side.

The former location for Monicals in Clinton now has a new purpose. Connie Lovett, part founder of a new thrift store, Love It Once More, says they have re-purposed the former restaurant into a thrift store.

Like a typical thrift store, Lovett explains they sell everything from men's, women's, and kids close to home decor and kitchen products.

In their efforts to be a non-profit business, Lovett hopes part of their mission becomes helping families in need. She explains they've already been able to accomplish that and hope their partners in the non-profit community will keep them in mind when they encounter anyone who is going through a tough time.

The grand opening of Love It Once More is Saturday morning at 10 am. Lovett indicates their hours are going to be Monday through Friday 10 am to 5 pm and then Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm. 

 

 

 

 

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Clinton Community Educational Foundation Reveals Scholarship Information

The Clinton Community Educational Foundation has a variety of scholarships available to Clinton High School students this spring.

 

A scholarship the Foundation has been known for for many years is the Vincent Beggs Scholarship. According to Eileen Carter with the Foundation, a student can receive a yearly, $1250 scholarship if they are a full time student.

There is also a Vincent Beggs Memorial Scholarship for students looking to go into technical training. Carter says this is a one time scholarship for $25-hundred.

Exelon Corporation has a one time scholarship of $1000 the CCEF administers for them. According to Carter, this scholarship is a one time award for students either going to a trade school or a four year college.

The Foundation this year is unveiling a new scholarship aimed at students who want to go into education. Carter explains a former Clinton High School teacher has the scholarship named after him.

Applications are available in the Clinton High School guidance office and are due by March 18. Carter says the scholarships have special instructions so she encourages careful reading when filling them out and submitting them. 

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Local Entrepreneurs Sought For Program

If you've been thinking about starting up a business or you have the ball rolling and don't know what to do next, an inexpensive program could be a huge benefit.

A non-profit group titled SCORE, or Service Corps of Retired Executives, has ten week program to help you as you try to take on opening your own business. Bob Luther with the Decatur Score Chapter indicates later this month they will be starting their next ten week session.

Luther says the ten week course is a great opportunity for a potential business owner to get an idea of what their business will need to do to get off the ground with guest speakers. He says one of the most important discussions they have is about finances.

The cost of the ten week session is $275. Luther says not all of that has to be paid up front, but he feels if a potential business owner goes the course, doesn't feel they are ready to start up a business, it is better than that person or group starting something and failing and being out exponentially more money.

Luther feels the ten week course is a great opportunity for networking opportunity but as a part of the cost of the course, there is a free one year membership to the Micro Business Network. Luther explains this group is essentially a support network of small business who host various events aimed at better small businesses.

February 10 is the first class and Luther encourages anyone interested to contact SCORE in Decatur at 217-424-6296 for more information or more details.

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Slow Production of Medical Cannabis Jeopardizing Dispensaries

A research firm says Illinois’ medical cannabis pilot program has been plagued with setbacks, a lack of licensed growers and slow patient registration.

Arcview Market Research’s report this week says Illinois’ slow rollout jeopardizes dispensary businesses. Just last week the Illinois Department of Public Health denied adding 8 additional conditions to the program with Governor Bruce Rauner saying the state is assessing the performance so far and they’ll determine expanding the program further in the future.

Christ Stone, CEO of medical cannabis dispensary HCI Alternatives in Springfield and Collinsville, says the state could help the program be a success by educating people, especially doctors.

Meanwhile IDPH announced this week the number of approved patients for the program now is approximately 4,400. 

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Relevance of Presidential Primary This Year

We are in the midst of the Presidential Primary season. This week in Iowa we saw some surprises with Ted Cruz winning the Iowa caucus on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders gaining a lot of ground to end up in a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton for the Democrats.

David Yepsen, who heads up the Paul Simon public policy institute at Southern Il University says we may see a lot more surprises in New Hampshire and beyond as both political parties seem to be redefining themselves.

The Illinois primary is in mid-March, and Yepsen says it may be very relevant this year as both parties may be in the midst of a battle for delegates when we get to the Illinois Primary. He suggests voters find out as much as possible about the candidate’s positions on Ag and rural issues so as to make an informed vote.

David Yepsen… Dir of the Paul Simon policy institute. To date, there has been no real polling of the presidential races in Illinois, but Yepsen says that will start after we the results in New Hampshire next Tuesday.

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Medical Pot Dispensary CEO Says Doctors Need To Be Educated

Education, education, education … that’s what the CEO of a medical cannabis dispensary preparing to open in the capital city says is needed in order for the program to be a success.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced this week the addition of more approved patients, bringing the total to approximately 4,400 statewide. However, last week IDPH denied adding more conditions to the pilot program. Governor Bruce Rauner says the state is still studying the program.

Chris Stone, CEO of medical cannabis dispensary HCI Alternatives, says for the program to be a success the state must do its part in educating residents, and especially doctors, about the program.

Meanwhile Arcview Market Research says Illinois’ denial of additional conditions will keep patient levels low for the foreseeable future. 

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Gaming Revenues Up in Illinois

Gaming revenue in Illinois is up, but video gaming terminals in your neighborhood bar are taking away from the state’s riverboats, according to the latest monthly report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

One of the largest sections of the January report from COGFA focuses on gaming revenue for Illinois. Dan Long, executive director of COGFA, says the state is nearing full implementation of video gaming and gaming revenues are up, but there’s a twist.

Long says riverboats can have 1,200 gaming positions but when adding 22,000 extra positions through other video gaming it impacts boat operations in places like Alton, Peoria and elsewhere. Regardless, COGFA says the added gaming positions has increased gaming revenue over $64 million from 2014 to 2015.

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Fewer Jobs, Outbound Migrations Impacting Revenue Projections

Less jobs and a smaller population in Illinois are compounding the loss of tax revenue for the state. That’s according to the executive director of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

COGFA’s Dan Long says Illinois saw revenues dropped more than $250 million in January from the year before. Some of that drop was from the decrease in the individual and corporate income tax rates, but Long also says fewer jobs and outbound migration plays a role.

Meanwhile Long says sales taxes had been doing well, but even that has started to level out in recent reports. Long says COGFA expects upwards to $5 billion in revenue declines from the previous fiscal year.

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New Store Opening on Clinton Square

The Shoppe on the Square will have a grand opening Saturday morning and owner Kim Nimmo says the store will consist of craft items along with new and used furniture.

There will be a number of local vendors who will be selling things from soaps, lotions and bath salts to quilts and homemade pillows. Nimmo says they will have a lot of homemade items.

From 9 am to 4 pm Saturday there will be refreshments and giveaways at the Shoppe on the Square as a part of their grand opening. Nimmo indicates the store will be open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.

The location is 502 South Side Square. 

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DJWH Reports Positive Financial 2015

As the Dr. John Warner Hospital looks ahead to 2016 and the things to come, their Board President says 2015 was a very good year financially.

Aaron Kammeyer leads the Hospital Board and says the hospital finished the year with a positive bottom line thanks to new programs and a rejuvenated effort to manage costs.

Kammeyer indicates their focus will focus to expand their services. He explains they don't want to just focus on expanding services but focusing on bringing in services the community is in need of.

For Kammeyer, they will always be looking at the budget and trying to find ways to improve.

In 2015, the DJWH renamed their Rural Health 'Family Medicine' and made some small, inexpensive cosmetic upgrades inside the hospital. Kammeyer indicates the Board will be gathering for a one day retreat later this month to discuss long term goals. 

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Rauner Has Plan To Create Jobs

A new privately run and funded economic development agency is being formed in Illinois to help create jobs and market the state where the existing Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity comes up short.

Yesterday, Governor Bruce Rauner says that the new agency will be better able to market the state and help create jobs. By executive order Rauner creates the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation. The non-profit will be working with DCEO but won’t be sealing deals. That’s still up to the state. Rauner says that critics shouldn’t worry about transparency.

The group will be funded with private donations. Rauner had tried to work through lawmakers to do a similar thing. But Democrats had sought a 3 year review of the new agency.

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Munger Calls On Lawmakers To Stop Blaming Each Other

Imagine you have $100 in the checkbook and then realizing you have $7,000 in bills. Now multiply that by one million. That’s how the comptroller explained Illinois’ cash crunch now seven full months into the fiscal year without a budget.

Comptroller Leslie Munger says because of court orders and consent decrees the state is on pace to dig more than $6 billion in debt outside of the growing backlog of bills which is more than $7 billion. Munger says if a tax increase was the only fix, the income tax would have to be double -- putting it close to 8 percent for individuals, something not many people would tolerate.

Munger says there needs to be efficiencies found in every corner of government and lawmakers need to get together, stop blaming each other and find solutions.

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Discussion About Whether To Keep ERO Could Come Up

Should schools offer up an option for teachers to retire early? That’s a discussion legislators must have with their school districts.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability issued a recommendation from an actuary that drops the contribution rate for both teachers seeking early retirement and their school district employers. Republican Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer says the state could go with the proposed rates or not have the retirement option altogether.

However, Democratic Representative Elaine Nekrtiz says schools in her district like the option.

The actuary suggested the member contribution be lowered from 14.4 percent to 10.8 percent and the employer contribution from 29.3 percent to 22 percent.

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Actuary Recommends Decrease of Teachers', Districts' ERO Rate

The recommended percentage of salary both schools and teachers need to contribute for teachers taking early retirement has decreased, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

An Actuarial Review of Early Retirement Option for Teachers’ Retirement System from COGFA recommends contributions from members seeking to retire early be lowered from 14.4 percent to 10.8 percent and the employer contribution from 29.3 percent to 22 percent. Democratic Representative Elaine says it’s a message for school districts.

Nekritz says the recommendations should mean nothing for the pension system. Republican Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer says it’s an effort to counteract early retirement.

Meanwhile the most recent Auditor General report for the Teachers’ Retirement System has the fund at 41.5 percent funded for fiscal year 2015, down 1.5 percent from the year before.
 

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Clinton Fire Department To Begin Yearly Door-To-Door Campaign

If you get a knock at your door in the next few weeks and a firefighter is standing on your porch, don't be alarmed, your house probably isn't on fire.
 
The Clinton Fire Department will be out starting this week to begin their yearly collection for funds to raise money for needed equipment. Assistant Fire Chief Jason Karr indicates at some point, each firefighter will be hitting community streets for their annual effort.
 
 
The fire department this year is raising funds for a thermo-imaging camera. Karr indicates they come in very useful in the past and allow them to see through smoke during fires and he feels it doesn't take long for one of them to pay for themselves.
 
 
Karr indicates their drive bridges the gap between an ever tightening city budget and their financial position to purchase necessary equipment.
 
 
Karr says the purpose of going door-to-door is not only to seek out money for their department, but he hopes his crews will be engaging with residents about topics like smoke detectors and fire safety plans. He explains if a family or homeowner indicates they do not have a smoke detector, they will get one to them that night.
 
The collections will start this Thursday. Karr indicates they will be out between 6 pm and 8 pm over the next several weeks between Tuesday and Thursday. 

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Medical Marijuana Off To Good Start in Metro-East

Collinsville's medical marijuana dispensary is hosting its first customers. HCI Alternatives opened that facility last week and HCI Education and Community Outreach Director Jay Cook says customers embracing the business.
 
 
Effingham based HCI is set to open another dispensary February 15th in Springfield. 

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Local Lawmakers Touting Procurement Reforms

Local lawmakers are touting a plan by Governor Bruce Rauner and say it is gaining support. 
 
State Senator Chapin Rose and Representative Dan Brady say procurement is gaining steam. Sen. Rose has been talk of reforms in procurement for months. Ray Watt has more....
 
 
Meanwhile, Rep. Brady indicates around $2.8-billion are spent in higher education procurements. He says they feel they can reform that number down by $159-million.
 
 
After a year of working through and carefully evaluating Illinois’ onerous procurement process, a comprehensive reform package developed collaboratively by the Rauner administration, agency heads, legislative leaders and major stakeholders has emerged that has the potential to realize significant savings for Illinois taxpayers. 

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Governor Says Senate President Playing Politics with 'Dead Piece of Legislation'

The Senate President is playing politics with a bill that appears doomed on arrival. That’s according to Governor Bruce Rauner’s office in response to Senate President John Cullerton calling for a cooling-off period before sending over a tuition assistance bill.
 
Senate Bill 2043, which Democrat majorities say will fund MAP grants for eligible students, passed the legislature last week despite minority Republicans pointing out the governor intends to veto the bill because it’s not tied to any funding stream. 
 
Senate President John Cullerton’s office issued a news release Monday saying he’s waiting until February 16th to send the bill to the governor so the governor will quote “rethink his veto announcement.”
 
Governor Rauner’s office responded saying quote “rather than playing politics with a dead piece of legislation, we urge the Senate to focus on finding real solutions and vote next week on legislation that would fund MAP grants with a fiscally responsible way to pay for them.”
 
During debate last week Republicans said there’s a plan that would fund MAP grants, community colleges and higher education tied to another measure to give the governor broader authority in managing the state’s resources. 

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Governor Looking Forward To President's Visit

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS HE’S LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT WEEK’S VISIT BY PRESIDENT OBAMA.
 
THE PRESIDENT IS SCHEDULED TO SPEAK BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE ON WEDNESDAY THE 10TH. GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO HEAR WHAT HE HAS TO SAY.
 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS HOPES THE PRESIDENT WILL TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE TOPICS THEY AGREE ON…LIKE EDUCATION REFORM, TERM LIMITS AND REDISTRICTING REFORM. HE’D ALSO LIKE TO SEE OBAMA BRING UP THE CURRENT BUDGET STALEMATE IN SPRINGFIELD.
 
 
FEBRUARY 10TH MARKS THE NINE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF OBAMA’S 2007 ANNOUNCEMENT THAT HE WAS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.

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Flint, MI Water Problems Creating Concerns Over Water Quality

The problems with contaminated water supplies in Flint, Michigan have caused many people to wonder about their own water supplies. If you are on a community water system, the Illinois EPA does regular testing, and your local water department should have updated test results. 
 
But, like many people, if you are on a private well it might be a good idea to check out your water quality. Dan Webb is with the Illinois State Water Survey.
 
 
That number is 217-300-7420. The Water survey will send you a test kit, you collect water samples and send them in. 
 
 
There are three main ways a well can be contaminated. 
 
First from surface water getting into the well. That’s a common cause of bacterial contamination. 
 
Second, problems can come from naturally occurring contaminants in the ground water, like arsenic. And then issues can come in the plumbing bringing water into the home. For houses built before WW2, lead pipes were common and can lead to lead contamination. 
 
If your water hasn’t been tested recently, the tests are cheap and easy.

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Flash Index Shows Growth for Illinois

Illinois’ economy isn’t getting worse, but it’s barely going. That’s the message from the latest Flash Index from the University of Illinois.
 
Fred Giertz (gurtz), professor of economics at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at U of I, says the monthly report for January shows the index decreased slightly. 
 
 
As to the reason for slow growth, Giertz says the world economy is slowing and there are concerns about uncertainty in the financial markets, but that’s not all. 
 
 
Meanwhile recent employment numbers from the Illinois Department of Employment Security indicate Illinois ended 2015 with 3,000 fewer jobs than it started the year with.

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Backlog of Bills Growing

The state of Illinois is already in deep debt and has a stack of unpaid bills now Illinois’ top bill payer says it’s only going to get worse. 
 
Comptroller Leslie Munger laid out the continuing crumbling situation that the state is in, Illinois will be $6.2 billion more in debt by the end of the year, that’s on top of the $7 billion the state has in unpaid bills.
 
 
Munger says the shortfall can be seen as $5 billion in lower revenues and $1.2 billion in increased state spending. 

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Miller Media Group Switches Web Providers; Updates Web Sites

The Miller Media Group has a new company providing its web site services, and newly designed web sites, as of late Tuesday afternoon.

Riverbender.com of Alton, Illinois, has provided the company's 2 web sites—taylorvilledailynews.com in the Taylorville market and dewittdailynews.com in the Clinton market—since the summer of 2011.

Those web sites are now being provided by Envisionwise Networks of Westville, Illinois.  The newly designed sites allow users to see the same content and advertising no matter what the platform—desktop, laptop, tablet, I-phone or smartphone.

Here's a reminder to mobile users:  If you had previously bookmarked one of our sites, you'll need to delete that bookmark, then type in the web site name in your browser, then save the newly designed version, otherwise you'll get an error message of a page missing.

The updated sites also provide lots more information in an easier-to-read format, including on mobile devices.

We hope you'll like our newly designed presentation of our 2 on-line daily newspapers.

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Clinton Chamber's Annual Dinner Draws Over 80

Over 80 people attended this last Saturday's Clinton Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner.
 
Prior to the night's activities getting going, President of the Clinton Chamber Board, Ryan Utterback conducted a short meeting. He reports the Chamber's 2015 events like the Chamber Dinner and the Haunted House among others were very successful.
 
 
The Chamber's events continue to grow and Utterback says that is thanks to their avenues of promotion but also thanks to the community support they receive.
 
 
Charissa West of West Innovations and Kevin Meyers of Chastain and Associates were recognized as outgoing members of the Clinton Chamber Board. 
 
Highlights of the evening were the annual auction, hosted by Lance Schmid of Clinton Auto Auction and a trivia game. The evening was catered by Hilltop Catering of Mt. Pulaski. Organizers indicate the aution pulled in over $3000. 

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City Approves Upgrades To Community Park

The first steps of improvements to community parks was approved Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell indicates older playground equipment at Rotary Park will be replaced. According to Followell, the Rotary will be fronted the money but will pay the City back.
 
 
The total cost is not to exceed $32,566. 
 
Other business from the Monday City Council meeting:
 
>>The Council approved an additional panel for the Christmas Tree on the square for just over $31-hundred.

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools Preparing For No Standardized Tests

The State's switch from the ACT to the SAT has left some school administrators scrambling to provide their students with opportunities for the tests that often are a measuring stick for universities. 
 
For Warrensburg-Latham Schools Superintendent, Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle,  a standardized test not being available this year looks like a real possibility. She explains they have tried to do as much as they can to get their students to a test if they need it.
 
 
While many schools would like to be in a position to help their students pay for the ACT testing, Dr. Kendrick-Weikle indicates Warrensburg-Latham is among many who simply cannot afford to do so.
 
 
As far as the switch itself, Dr. Kendrick-Weikle feels the tests are very different. She explains what each tests measures is very different.
 
 
Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says when it comes to the assessments going out for bid and getting awarded to the lowest bidder, she is disappointed school leaders and higher education officials weren't more involved. 

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Madigan Critical of P3s

A new private, non-profit business development corporation announced by the governor will focus on job creation, but the leading House Democrat is skeptical. 
 
Last week Governor Bruce Rauner said he’s preparing to sign an executive order that partners the private, non-profit Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation to the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity. Rauner said last year there was an attempt to create a similar pairing but it stalled. 
 
 
Speaker Michael Madigan said he worked with the governor on last year’s attempt but there was one thing that made the deal fall apart. 
 
 
The governor’s office said DCEO will have final authority and oversight of all state grants and incentives negotiated by the ILBEDC. 

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Lawmakers Prepare For House Floor Debate

One lawmaker says he’s ready to camp out and get the job of managing taxpayer’s dollars done while another decried political leaders for guiding followers away from compromise in a sign that elected officials are growing disillusioned with how they’re handling the taxpayers’ money. 
 
During floor debate Thursday Democratic Representative Ken Dunkin presented a sleeping bag and a lunch box, putting out a challenge to other lawmakers to stay in Springfield and get the job of a balanced budget done. 
 
 
Meanwhile Republican Representative David Harris said the state’s priorities are out of whack.
 
 
It’s been a full seven months of the fiscal year and there’s still no budget in place. 

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Lawmakers Frustrated Over Lack of Action in General Assembly

Several of Illinois’ lawmakers from both sides of the aisle seem to be growing more disillusioned with how the state is handling the taxpayer’s business. 
 
Just after the governor gave his State of the State speech Wednesday Republican Representative John Cabello questioned why lawmakers didn’t stay and finish the people’s work.
 
 
Meanwhile during floor debate Thursday Democratic Representative Scott Drury said he’s not convinced there’s a will to get anything done. 
 
 
Without a balanced budget, the state has been funding programs through court orders and consent decrees and is on pace to spend billions more than it’s expected to bring in.

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Lawmakers Frustrated Over Lack of Action in General Assembly

Several of Illinois’ lawmakers from both sides of the aisle seem to be growing more disillusioned with how the state is handling the taxpayer’s business.

Just after the governor gave his State of the State speech Wednesday Republican Representative John Cabello questioned why lawmakers didn’t stay and finish the people’s work.

[audio:2021681729-DISILLUSIONED1a.mp3] [/audio]

Meanwhile during floor debate Thursday Democratic Representative Scott Drury said he’s not convinced there’s a will to get anything done.

[audio:2021681730-DISILLUSIONED1b.mp3] [/audio]

Without a balanced budget, the state has been funding programs through court orders and consent decrees and is on pace to spend billions more than it’s expected to bring in.

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Lawmakers Prepare For House Floor Debate

One lawmaker says he’s ready to camp out and get the job of managing taxpayer’s dollars done while another decried political leaders for guiding followers away from compromise in a sign that elected officials are growing disillusioned with how they’re handling the taxpayers’ money.

During floor debate Thursday Democratic Representative Ken Dunkin presented a sleeping bag and a lunch box, putting out a challenge to other lawmakers to stay in Springfield and get the job of a balanced budget done.

[audio:2021681731-DISILLUSIONED2a.mp3] [/audio]

Meanwhile Republican Representative David Harris said the state’s priorities are out of whack.

[audio:2021681733-DISILLUSIONED2b.mp3] [/audio]

It’s been a full seven months of the fiscal year and there’s still no budget in place.

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Madigan Critical of P3s

A new private, non-profit business development corporation announced by the governor will focus on job creation, but the leading House Democrat is skeptical.

Last week Governor Bruce Rauner said he’s preparing to sign an executive order that partners the private, non-profit Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation to the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity. Rauner said last year there was an attempt to create a similar pairing but it stalled.

[audio:2021681734-ILBEDC2a.mp3] [/audio]

Speaker Michael Madigan said he worked with the governor on last year’s attempt but there was one thing that made the deal fall apart.

[audio:2021681735-ILBEDC2b.mp3] [/audio]

The governor’s office said DCEO will have final authority and oversight of all state grants and incentives negotiated by the ILBEDC.

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools Preparing For No Standardized Tests

The State's switch from the ACT to the SAT has left some school administrators scrambling to provide their students with opportunities for the tests that often are a measuring stick for universities.

For Warrensburg-Latham Schools Superintendent, Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle, a standardized test not being available this year looks like a real possibility. She explains they have tried to do as much as they can to get their students to a test if they need it.

[audio:2021681721-2216wlact1.mp3] [/audio]

While many schools would like to be in a position to help their students pay for the ACT testing, Dr. Kendrick-Weikle indicates Warrensburg-Latham is among many who simply cannot afford to do so.

[audio:2021681727-2216wlact2.mp3] [/audio]

As far as the switch itself, Dr. Kendrick-Weikle feels the tests are very different. She explains what each tests measures is very different.

[audio:2021681712-2216chamberdinner3.mp3] [/audio]

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says when it comes to the assessments going out for bid and getting awarded to the lowest bidder, she is disappointed school leaders and higher education officials weren't more involved.

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City Approves Upgrades To Community Park

 width=The first steps of improvements to community parks was approved Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting.

City Administrator Tim Followell (right) indicates older playground equipment at Rotary Park will be replaced. According to Followell, the Rotary will be fronted the money but will pay the City back.

[audio:2021681716-2216rotarypark1.mp3] [/audio]

The total cost is not to exceed $32,566.

Other business from the Monday City Council meeting:

>>The Council approved an additional panel for the Christmas Tree on the square for just over $31-hundred.

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Clinton Chamber's Annual Dinner Draws Over 80

Over 80 people attended this last Saturday's Clinton Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner.

Prior to the night's activities getting going, President of the Clinton Chamber Board, Ryan Utterback conducted a short meeting. He reports the Chamber's 2015 events like the Chamber Dinner and the Haunted House among others were very successful.

[audio:2021681701-2216chamberdinner1.mp3] [/audio]

The Chamber's events continue to grow and Utterback says that is thanks to their avenues of promotion but also thanks to the community support they receive.

[audio:2021681704-2216chamberdinner2.mp3] [/audio]

Charissa West of West Innovations and Kevin Meyers of Chastain and Associates were recognized as outgoing members of the Clinton Chamber Board.

Highlights of the evening were the annual auction, hosted by Lance Schmid of Clinton Auto Auction and a trivia game. The evening was catered by Hilltop Catering of Mt. Pulaski. Organizers indicate the auction pulled in over $3000.

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Snedeker Holds On For Win At Suspended Farmers Insurance Open

 width=Brandt Snedeker has now won two Farmers Insurance Opens in the past five years. It took him nearly 24 hours from the time he finished his final round at Torrey Pines to secure the hardware (more on that in a minute), but Snedeker outlasted Jimmy Walker and K.J. Choi to win by one stroke on Monday afternoon. And he didn't hit a single shot.

Snedeker shot his crazy final-round 69 that was nearly 10 shots better than the field average) on Sunday. He was one of the few golfers to finish up and narrowly trailed the leaders still out on the course.

The others came back out on Monday after play was suspended on Sunday because of weather while Snedeker watched from the range for two hours wondering if there would be a playoff. The wind actually gusted into the players' faces on Monday, so scores rose even higher. And then, 24 hours after holing his last putt, Snedeker hoisted the trophy. He didn't so much as hit a shot on the final day of play.

Only one player was under par in the final round from Torrey Pines.

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Duke Out of AP Top 25 Poll


Monday's release of the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll for men's basketball does not include the Duke Blue Devils. Mike Krzyzewski's team had just one game last week -- an 80-69 loss at Miami -- and so for the first time since 2007, Coach K's program is not a top-25 team.

 width=

The last time this occurred came after the 2006-07 season, when Duke lost as a No. 6 seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 11 VCU. Duke's streak of 167 consecutive week's in the AP poll is the fifth longest in history. If you're wonder, Duke did receive votes for the poll -- accruing six points -- meaning it finished 33rd in the voting this week.

Elsewhere, Oklahoma firmly held on to its top spot, marking the third straight week the Sooners have been atop the AP poll. Maryland, which knocked off No. 3 Iowa last week, moved from the 8 spot to No. 4. Iowa fell to fifth.

The biggest mover this week? Oregon, which swept the Arizona schools on the road in the past few days. That moved the Ducks from 23rd to 16th.

>>UNC Still No. 1 in Coaches Poll

North Carolina remained the No. 1 team in the country this week in the coaches poll, following a stretch of five straight weeks where the No. 1 position changed hands. Oklahoma also stayed at No. 2 following its win over LSU on Saturday.

Behind them, Maryland rose to No. 3, and a pair of Big East teams jumped up to Nos. 4 and 5. Vilanova and Xavier round out the top-five after a pair of strong weeks.

Beyond those five, Kansas, Iowa, Texas A&M, Virginia and Michigan State round out the top-10. Villanova's opponent on Saturday, Providence, is currently sitting at No. 11.

The poll is also notable due to the absence of Duke. The last time Duke was not ranked in the poll was in February 2007, marking a near-nine-year run in the poll. Duke's women's team is also currently unranked for the first time in around 16 years, following its departure on Jan. 18. Pittsburgh also fell from the group of ranked teams.

Replacing the Blue Devils and Panthers were Dayton and the surprising Saint Mary's Gaels. Dayton is now 18-3 and avenged its sole Atlantic 10 loss of the season to La Salle this weekend. Saint Mary's is 18-2 and has a tough road trip going to BYU this week followed by a game at San Diego.

>>Louisville Upends No. 2 North Carolina

Damion Lee scored 24 points, including two free throws with 8.3 seconds remaining, to help No. 19 Louisville beat No. 2 North Carolina 71-65 on Monday night ending the Tar Heels' 12-game winning streak.

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After scoring just six points in Saturday's loss to then-No. 11 Virginia, Lee lifted the Cardinals to a hard-fought victory over the first-place Tar Heels by making 8 of 12 shots, including consecutive 3-pointers that helped provide a 55-50 lead with 9:35 remaining.

Chinanu Onuaku and Trey Lewis then combined for Louisville's next eight points, with Onuaku's three-point play making it 63-55 with 5:15 left and giving Louisville some needed breathing room with the Tar Heels hanging tough. Ray Spalding scored and Lewis followed with a big layup and then two free throws with 26 seconds left for a four-point lead.

The Tar Heels missed three shots before Onuaku came up with a rebound and Lee was fouled. The graduate transfer sealed the win by making two more at the free throw line as Louisville (18-4, 7-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) handed the Tar Heels (19-3, 8-1) their first conference loss.

Onuaku had 12 points and 10 rebounds - his eighth double-double this season - and Donovan Mitchell added 10 points. Lewis had nine for the Cardinals, who shot 53 percent in the second half and 43 percent overall.

Justin Jackson scored 16 points and Brice Johnson had 15 for North Carolina, which shot just 35 percent from the field and committed 16 turnovers.

Louisville controlled the paint 36-28 and edged the Tar Heels 41-39 on the boards, with Onuaku's late grab looming large in a game where every possession was critical.

Johnson led the Tar Heels with 11 rebounds.

>>Texas Beats No. 15 Baylor on Road

Connor Lammert and the Texas Longhorns aren't backing down in the Big 12.

Not against No. 15 Baylor or Rico Gathers, the Bears' big man who was being watched by a scout from the NFL's Buffalo Bills on Monday night.

Texas got its sixth win in seven games, never giving up the lead in a physical and sometimes chippy second half on way to a 67-58 victory.

 width=

Lammert had 15 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the final minute, as the Longhorns (15-7, 6-3) moved within a half-game of No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 14 West Virginia for the conference lead. It was the 6-foot-10 forward's third 3 in the game.

Baylor (17-5, 6-3) had been part of a three-way tie, matching the latest ever in a season to be first in the Big 12.

Taurean Prince had 18 points for the Bears, while Lester Medford added 10.

Gathers, who had 20 points and eight rebounds, fouled out with 1:27 left, and Kerwin Roach hit the second of two free throws. After Prince had a turnover, Lammert's 3 from the right wing with 44 seconds left put the Longhorns up 62-56.

Baylor tied the game three times in the second half but could never get the lead again. The Bears led for less than 2 minutes, all in the game's opening stretch.

Isaiah Taylor had 12 points and nine assists for the Longhorns, who finished with assists on all 21 of their field goals.

After consecutive double-doubles, Prince Ibeh was held to nine points and six rebounds.

The Longhorns are 4-2 against Top 25 teams this season.

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Nation's Top Football Prospect Down To Two Schools

The nation's No. 1 recruit has reportedly narrowed his choices down to two schools. According to Scout.com, defensive tackle Rashan Gary (Paramus, N.J.) will be choosing between Michigan and Clemson on Wednesday when he makes his announcement.

 width=Those two teams emerging as Gary's choices doesn't come as too much of a surprise, as he visited both schools in the last two weeks. Gary went an official visit to Clemson this past weekend and made an unofficial visit to Michigan on Jan. 22.

Michigan has long been considered the frontrunner for Gary, as he has taken more unofficial visits there than any other school and the Wolverines already have two of his closest friends committed for 2016. However, Clemson has made a strong push for Gary late and his mother told Scout that they were very impressed by the Tigers.

Whichever team lands Gary is going to be getting a player that can make an immediate impact on the defensive line. Gary is a monster in the middle at 6-foot-5, 293 pounds and has tremendous athleticism, as noted by his 4.74 time in the 40-yard dash. He was also the most valuable player at this year's Under Armour All-American game.

USC, Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss were all also thought to be in the running for Gary prior to him narrowing down his decision to Clemson and Michigan.

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Blues, Blackhawks Return to Ice Following All-Star Break

 width=Following the new format to the NHL All-Star game this weekend, the rest of the league will return to action tonight.

The Blues head to the place where all this weekend's activities took place, Nashville, in search of health which should lead to more consistency.

The Blues enter play third in the Central Division of the Western Conference at 28-16-8 overall but have had a roller coaster first half of the season.

The Blues finished the first half losers of two on a three game road trip. They finish the four game road trip in Nashville before they get three straight at home.

As for the Blackhawks, because of his abense from the All-Star game, Jonathan Teows will miss tonight's second half opener in Colorado. Per league rules, because Teows made the decision to miss this weekend's All-Star game because of illness, he will be suspended tonight.

 width=The Blackhawks have been one of the league's top teams all season and sit in first place in the central division at 33-16-4 as Patrick Kane has been in top form despite an offseason of turmoil.

The Blackhawks will spend the first three games following the break on a west coast swing visiting Colorado tonight, Arizona Thursday and finishing with Dallas Saturday night.

Chicago returns home for four straight home games.

The Blackhawks ended the break losing three of four, all three losses were on the road.

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Packers Want Lacy To Lose 30 Pounds This Summer

Despite the excessive proliferation of jokes about Eddie Lacy's weight, it's become clear the Packers really do prefer that their star running back loses some weight. Mike McCarthy said as much following the season.

 width=But the amount of weight is pretty stunning. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Packers want Lacy to lose 30 pounds.

According to Rapoport, Lacy is cool with the request. (He's already getting offers from P90x this offseason to lose weight.)

After a strong finish to 2014, many people projected a huge season for the former Alabama standout. But 2015 was not that -- Lacy rushed for just 758 yards and was benched for James Starks at one point during the season.

What's weird is that Lacy hasn't technically gained weight, according to the Internet.

Lacy weighs 234 pounds per the Packers' website and, per the NFL's combine page, he weighed 231 when he came into the NFL.

>>Justin Tuck Retires

After spending 11 seasons crushing quarterbacks, defensive lineman Justin Tuck is retiring from the NFL. Tuck, who played for the Giants and Raiders, revealed his decision with a Facebook post, writing that he's leaving the game "with very few regrets."

In Tuck's career, he recorded 66.5 sacks and 510 combined tackles. Most importantly, Tuck played an instrumental role in the Giants' past two Super Bowl wins, harassing Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady in both of those games.

But, at the age of 32, he's stepping away. Here's how Tuck explained his decision:

"After months of praying and careful consideration, I have decided to retire from the game of football. I've had 11 great years and honestly I leave with very few regrets."

"It's been like a tug of war, and finally the rope broke," Tuck told Fox Sports, "and where I fell was retirement."

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Jazz Beat Bulls in Overtime

 width=

Gordon Hayward had 27 points and 12 rebounds, Rodney Hood added 19 points and the Utah Jazz beat the Chicago Bulls 105-96 in overtime on Monday night.

Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 12 rebounds to help Utah win its third straight.

Jimmy Butler scored 26 points and Pau Gasol added 19 points and eight rebounds to lead Chicago. Derrick Rose chipped in 14 for the Bulls, who lost for the third time in four games.

Chicago and Utah traded baskets throughout the fourth quarter. Rose's 3-pointer with 18.5 seconds left put Chicago ahead 93-90.

Hayward made 1 of 2 free throws, but the Jazz grabbed the rebound and Hayward drove for the tying layup with 4.8 seconds left in regulation.

In the extra period, Hayward made back-to-back pull-up jumpers and followed with a dunk to give Utah the lead for good at 102-95 with 59.9 seconds remaining.

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DeWitt County Sheriff's Weekend Report

Jail Population: 28

Paper Services: 12

Warrants: 1

Wyatt Hosier, 18, Clinton was Arrested and Charged with Consumption of Liquor/ Minor and Possess Drug Paraphernalia. Hosier posted the necessary bond remains lodged in the DeWitt County Jail.

Garett Hosier, 32, Lane was Arrested and Charged with Possess Cannabis <2.5 Grams, Contributing Delinquency Minor and Possess Drug Paraphernalia. Hosier posted the necessary bond and was released.

Ashley Scott, 21, Wapella was Arrested and Charged with Give/Sell Liquor to Minor. Scott posted the necessary bond and was released.

Elijah Logue, 19, Clinton was Arrested and Charged with Possess Drug Paraphernalia and Possess Cannabis 2.5-10 Grams. Logue posted the necessary bond and was released.

 

 

ALL SUSPECTS ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL FOUND GUILTY IN A COURT OF LAW.

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DeWitt County Sheriff's Report for Feb. 2

Jail Population: 27

Paper Services: 5

Warrants: 0

Tiffany Akers, 19, Clinton was issued a Citation for Operating Uninsured Vehicle. Akers was issued a Notice to Appear and was released.

ALL SUSPECTS ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL FOUND GUILTY IN A COURT OF LAW.

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Children's Advocacy Centers Making Changes in 2016 To Fundraising Efforts

If you've been looking for information on the annual fundraising event held by the Children's Advocacy Centers, or CAC, you can end your search as things have changed for 2016.
 
Each year, the CAC for many years has had a big fundraiser in Bloomington to benefit their organization. According to Executive Director Judy Brucker, that event will be replaced in 2016 by an online giving campaign that kicks off today.
 

 
For the CAC's fundraising arm, the Child Protection Network, they are trying some new things in 2016. Brucker says details on those things are not available yet but she indicates their hope is to get more people involved in this year's campaign.
 
 
The funds from this campaign will go towards the overall mission of the Children's Advocacy Centers. Brucker explains of the nearly $600-thousand in programming they offer, the fundraising accounts for around $100-thousand of that.
 

 

Information about the upcoming campaign is available online at mcleancpn.org. If you were an attendee of the Blue Kids Benefit in years past, you will receive information about the campaign this week. Brucker says you can also contact her at their Bloomington office at 309-888-5656.

 

 

 

 

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Monticello Schools Making Progress on Information For Upcoming School Referendum

 

As the Monticello School District gets ever closer to a referendum they are seeking to build a new high school, more and more details about what they hope to build are unfolding.
 
The school board has approved a land swap with the City of Monticello in the event the referendum passes. Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman (right) indicates the city had an interest in the facility, and the plans are a win-win for the community.
 
 
A site for the new high school has been chosen. Dr. Zimmerman indicates they plan to build next to their current middle-school.
 
 
According to Dr. Zimmerman, the high school would build all new sports fields and complexes. He explains their current fields would get turned over to the city for their use.
 
 
Dr. Zimmerman says the cost is large but he believes from what they have researched has found the new high school is the best option for their students. He applauds the Board of Education's work in this process.
 
Dr. Zimmerman hopes the community will seek out factual information as they prepare to vote. He feels the Board of Education has put a lot of work in to get the referendum prepared and to do what is best for the students of their school district. 

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Zika Virus Concern For Department of Health

The Illinois Department of Public Health has sent a warning to residents about the potential for contracting the Zika (zee-kuh) virus while traveling outside the U.S. The warning comes after two pregnant women tested positive for the virus after traveling to Honduras and Haiti. 
 
IDPH Director Nirav Shah says this disease is "generally mild."
 
 
Shah says the mosquitos which carry the virus are not found in Illinois.
 
 
Shah says IDPH sent the warning after two pregnant women came down with the virus while traveling. He says pregnant women should be especially careful as there is a possible link between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects.

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30 Illinois National Guard Solders Deployed To Iraq

30 MILITARY POLICE OFFICERS WITH THE ILLINOIS NATIONAL GUARD ARE BEING DEPLOYED TO AFGHANISTAN. 
 
THE 233RD COMPANY WILL BE A PART OF OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINEL. SERGEANT MICHAEL JOHNSON, ORIGINALLY FROM THE QUAD CITIES AND NOW LIVING IN SPRINGFIELD IS THE COMPANY’S TEAM MEDIC. HE SAYS THEY WILL BE RUNNING SECURITY MISSIONS.
 
 
ILLINOIS NATIONAL GUARD DIRECTOR OF THE JOINT STAFF COLONEL MICHAEL GLISSON OFFERED THIS ADVICE.
 
 
JOHNSON HAS BEEN DEPLOYED ONCE BEFORE, TO EGYPT ON A PEACE KEEPING MISSION. THE SOLDIERS WILL TRAIN FOR A BIT AT FORT BLISS, TEXAS AND WILL THEN HEAD TO AFGHANISTAN FOR ABOUT 10 MONTHS.

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Blue Ridge Schools Leader Not Thrilled About Standardized Test Change

The leader of a DeWitt County school district says she isn't thrilled about the change in the standardized test for college bound students.
 
The State of Illinois went away from the ACT tests for their students and have moved to the SAT. Susan Wilson is the Superintendent of the Blue Ridge school district and she feels the timing of the switch is less than ideal.
 
 
The significance of the ACT was being able to track how their students were doing year to year, and Wilson says resetting all those statistics will not give them a point of reference.
 
 
Blue Ridge is one of the testing sites for the state and according to Wilson, this was something they were hearing was going to happen early on. For Wilson and their guidance counselor, they notified students that were eligible for the test to get registered to take it. She s indicates those steps have paid off.
 
 
Wilson is in her sixth year as the Superintendent of Blue Ridge, and she feels continued changes like the ACT switch and the budget and all the issues that come with the State of Illinois are just the norm for. She says other Superintendents say this isn't the norm. She says it is very frustrating to always be dealing with something that is not funded or something that is changing. 

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Scams Continue To Be Chronic Problem Locally

If you receive a phone call from a number you don't know, there's a good chance it's from a scam artist.
 
The DeWitt County Sheriff's office unveiled a scam hotline recently and Sheriff Jered Shofner says it has been a heavily utilized tool. He explains scam artists continue to target local residents with incessant persistence.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner says the number one rule with scams is if it is too good to be true, it probably isn't. He also says if you question the legitimacy of a phone call, you should disconnect right away.
 
 
The latest scam trend local authorities are seeing involves the social network site, Facebook. Sheriff Shofner says scam artists will lure people in with a simple post on Facebook with a catchy headline or post.
 
 
Even though scams may only be successful a small percentage of the time, they continue to crop up because of that small success rate. According to Sheriff Shofner, it is often unlikely when a person becomes a victim the money they transfer or send is unlikely to be recovered. 
 
 
Sheriff Shofner says for many that fall victim to a scam, the feeling of embarrassment comes right to the top. He says for those in care of an older person, who is often the target of scam artists, the best defense is education.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner is convinced once you either become a victim of a scam or you play along with that person on the other line for "the fun of it", the likelihood you will be targeted again greatly increases. 
 
The phone number for the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office Scam hotine is 217-985-7867. 

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Weekly Weather Report

A mild weekend is ahead in central Illinois, followed by a wet, cool start to the new work week. State Climotologist Jim Angel has more.

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Final 2015 Unemployment Reports Mixed in Area Figures

2015 ended on a mixed notes across central Illinois when it comes to employment statistics. 
 
DeWitt County's unemployment finished the year at 6.2%, a slight increase from November.
 
For Piatt County, unemployment was down slightly for December, finishing the year at 5.3.
 
Unemployment dropped slightly in December for Logan County as well. They finished 2015 with a 5.7% unemployment rate.
 
In larger areas like McLean County, unemployment was unchanged from November to December, and finished the year out at 5.3%.
 
Macon County's unemployment continued a downward trend on the year, finishing the 2015 year at 7.4%.
 
Champaign County finished 2015 with a 5.4% unemployment rate, down from November. 
 
The State's unemployment rate was 5.9%, well behind the national average of 4.8%.

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President To Return To Springfield

The President is returning to the building that started him down the political path to that has lead to the White House. 
 
Barack Obama is scheduled to address the Illinois General Assembly at the State Capitol on February 10th, 9 years to the day of Obama announcing his bid for the White House on the steps of the Old State Capitol. 
 
The President will focus his speech on “what we can do, together, to build a better politics - one that reflects our better selves. “ 
 
The President served in the Illinois House from 1997 to 2004. 
 
The Governor has released a statement that says he and the President “share a passion for improving education, especially for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.” 

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Clinton Man Arrested in Connection with 2015 Death of Clinton Woman

A 32-year old Clinton man has been arrested after investigators concluded an investigation into the death of Christina Godinet of Clinton.

Joshua S. Dubson was arrested in Peoria by the US Marshals Service on charges of Drug Induced homicide for the illegal delivery a controlled substance.

Godinet was found unresponsive in her home and was subsequently pronounced dead by the DeWitt County Coroner on October 30.

Dubson faces 30-years in prison and is being held on $250-thousand bond.

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers could not comment on the arrest.

The Illinois State Police, Task Force 6, and the DeWitt County Sheriff's office along with the DeWitt County Coroner's office aided in the investigation.

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Monticello Schools Making Progress on Information For Upcoming School Referendum

 width=As the Monticello School District gets ever closer to a referendum they are seeking to build a new high school, more and more details about what they hope to build are unfolding.

The school board has approved a land swap with the City of Monticello in the event the referendum passes. Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman indicates the city had an interest in the facility, and the plans are a win-win for the community.

[audio:2011694405-2116referendum1.mp3] [/audio]

A site for the new high school has been chosen. Dr. Zimmerman indicates they plan to build next to their current middle-school.

[audio:2011694408-2116referendum2.mp3] [/audio]

According to Dr. Zimmerman, the high school would build all new sports fields and complexes. He explains their current fields would get turned over to the city for their use.

[audio:2011694412-2116referendum3.mp3] [/audio]

Dr. Zimmerman says the cost is large but he believes from what they have researched has found the new high school is the best option for their students. He applauds the Board of Education's work in this process.

[audio:2011694416-2116referendum4.mp3] [/audio]

Dr. Zimmerman hopes the community will seek out factual information as they prepare to vote. He feels the Board of Education has put a lot of work in to get the referendum prepared and to do what is best for the students of their school district.

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Children's Advocacy Centers Trying New Fundraiser

If you've been looking for information on the annual fundraising event held by the Children's Advocacy Centers, or CAC, you can end your search as things have changed for 2016.

Each year, the CAC for many years has had a big fundraiser in Bloomington to benefit their organization. According to Executive Director Judy Brucker, that event will be replaced in 2016 by an online giving campaign that kicks off today.

[audio:2011694359-2116cacevent1.mp3] [/audio]

For the CAC's fundraising arm, the Child Protection Network, they are trying some new things in 2016. Brucker says details on those things are not available yet but she indicates their hope is to get more people involved in this year's campaign.

[audio:2011694402-2116cacevent2.mp3] [/audio]

The funds from this campaign will go towards the overall mission of the Children's Advocacy Centers. Brucker explains of the nearly $600-thousand in programming they offer, the fundraising accounts for around $100-thousand of that.

[audio:2011694357-2116caceven3.mp3] [/audio]

Information about the upcoming campaign is available online at mcleancpn.org. If you were an attendee of the Blue Kids Benefit in years past, you will receive information about the campaign this week. Brucker says you can also contact her at their Bloomington office at 309-888-5656.

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Farmers Insurance Open Play Suspended Due To Weather

The final round of the Farmers Insurance Open has been suspended due to weather conditions and will resume on Monday morning at 11 a.m. ET.

At the time of suspension, Jimmy Walker (7 under) holds a one shot over Brandt Snedeker (6 under), who is the current leader in the clubhouse, and K.J. Choi (6 under). Walker, playing with Choi and Scott Brown (3 under), has played 10 holes in his final round.

 width=The weather conditions at Torrey Pines forced multiple suspensions of play on Sunday as wind and rain howled around the South Course. The average completed round on Sunday was a 78.48, nearly 6.5 strokes over par, and there were as many rounds in the 80s (11) as there were rounds in the 70s.

The lone under par round of the day was by Snedeker, whose 3-under 69 was an impossibly low performance considering the conditions. Snedeker went 4 under on his back nine, including a run of three straight birdies from 12 to 14.

Had Walker and the rest of the field been asked to return to the course in the huge wind gusts, Snedeker would have had a great shot at winning with his 6 under score. Now, he'll have to wait to see if Walker can hang on during Monday morning's conclusion in what Walker will hope is better weather conditions.

>>Spieth Finishes in Second in Singapore

Jordan Spieth was five back of the lead heading into the final round of the SMBC Singapore Open, but the world's No. 1 player fired a 66 to finish in second place (11 under), one back of winner Song Young-han (12 under).

Song, ranked No. 204 in the Official World Golf Rankings, shot a 70 in the final round to hang on for the one stroke victory.

Spieth had six birdies and just one bogey on Sunday, including a birdie on the 18th, as he finally figured out the greens with only 26 putts on his rounds-- he had 30 or more putts in each of the first three rounds.

Spieth will take a week off before returning to the PGA Tour for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and then the Northern Trust Open the following week as he continues to play one of the most packed schedules of any top player.

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Fan Favorite Scott Wins MVP at NHL All Star Game

No matter what happens throughout the rest of his career, John Scott will forever be known as an NHL All-Star Game MVP.

 width=With his two goals during the league's first ever 3-on-3 tournament on Sunday and all-around great performance throughout the All-Star weekend, Scott was voted by fans as the MVP of the game after his Pacific Division picked up a 1-0 win in the tournament's championship game over the Atlantic Division.

Scott, an enforcer that has only scored five goals in his NHL career, was in the game because won the NHL's fan vote to be captain of the Pacific Division team. Even though the entire saga had its share of critics and there was some doubt that he wouldn't even be eligible due to a trade two weeks before the game, and even though he isn't your traditional "All-Star" kind of player, Scott was most certainly the star of the weekend.

After the final game came to a close Scott's teammates lifted him up on their shoulders at center ice.

As MVP of the game Scott won a 2016 Honda Pilot, while he also takes home $90,000 in cash for being a part of the winning team.

The Pacific Division took home the All-Star crown in the first-ever 3-on-3 tournament.

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Team Irvin Blows Away Team Rice in NFL All Star Game; Megatron To Retire

Russell Wilson threw three first-half touchdown passes to lead Team Irvin to a 49-27 victory over Team Rice on Sunday and earn offensive MVP honors at Aloha Stadium. Seattle teammate Michael Bennett was the defensive MVP after having the game's only sack and deflecting a pass.

The Seahawks quarterback, who was the first player picked in the all-star game's draft, went 8 of 12 for 164 yards. He led scoring drives on three of Team Irvin's first four possessions.

Wilson threw touchdown passes of 14 and 2 yards to Atlanta Falcons teammates Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, respectively, in the opening quarter. Early in the second quarter, Wilson connected with Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley for a 10-yard score.

 width=Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater and Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston each added two TD passes for Team Irvin. Jacksonville's Allen Robinson, Tennessee's Delanie Walker, Philadelphia's Darren Sproles and Houston's DeAndre Hopkins had scoring receptions.

Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce caught two scoring passes for Team Rice. Miami's Jarvis Landry also had a TD catch, and Tampa Bay's Doug Martin ran for a score.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie of the New York Giants had two of Team Irvin's six interceptions.

>>Report Indicates Calvin Johnson Tells Lions He's Retiring

Calvin Johnson informed the Lions he plans to retire according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Earlier this month Johnson indicated he might walk away from football, but the idea felt far-fetched -- after an offseason of mulling it over, surely Johnson would come back to a game he's dominated for so long.

It doesn't appear to be the case, with a source close to Johnson telling Schefter "He's pretty content with his decision."

"Like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating options for my future," Johnson said in a statement earlier in January. "I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future."

According to Schefter, Lions coach Jim Caldwell told him to take his time and not "rush" his decision.

The 30-year-old (he would be 31 when the 2016 NFL season begins) is 43rd all time in catches, 27th all time in receiving yards and 22nd all time in touchdown catches.

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Clippers Blow Out Bulls

 width=Jamal Crawford scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, leading a dominant bench effort for the second straight game, and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Chicago Bulls 120-93 on Sunday for their fourth consecutive victory.

J.J. Redick added 21 points and DeAndre Jordan had 17 points and 20 rebounds for the Clippers, who improved to 15-3 without Blake Griffin. Their four-game streak has coincided with Griffin being out at least a month after breaking his right hand while punching the team's assistant equipment manager.

Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, Derrick Rose added 20 and Pau Gasol had 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls. They've lost four of six and dropped to 10-11 on the road.

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Drake Beats Bradley For First MVC Win

 width=Graham Woodward hit four 3-pointers and scored 23 points and Drake beat Bradley 80-70 on Saturday for its first Missouri Valley Conference victory of the season.

Kale Abrahamson's 4-point play midway through the second half started Drake's 11-0 run for a 65-49 lead. Bradley battled back to get within six points with 1:04 left, but Reed Timmer answered with two free throws as Drake closed by making 6 of 8 from the stripe.

Timmer finished with 19 points for Drake (6-16, 1-9), which ended a nine-game losing streak. Abrahamson had 13 points.

Drake has won nine of the last 12 meetings since the 2011-12 season.

Antoine Pittman scored 17 points for Bradley (3-20, 1-9), which has lost five in a row and 11 of 12. Luuk van Bree added 13 points, Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye had 12 and Donte Thomas 11.

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Missouri State Upends Illinois State in OT

 width=Jarred Dixon scored the last seven points of overtime to lift Missouri State past Illinois State 84-81 on Saturday.

Illinois State took a four-point lead on a pair of Paris Lee free throws with 2:03 to go. Dixon then took over. His 3-pointer cut the deficit to 81-80 before he drew a charge against a driving Deontae Hawkins. Dixon hit a jumper on the next possession to put the Bears up by one.

After the Redbirds' DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell left his layup short with four seconds left, Dixon gathered the rebound, was fouled, and made both free throws for the final margin. Dixon finished with 14 points.

Dequon Miller led Missouri State (9-13, 5-5 Missouri Valley) with 22 points, shooting 6 for 10 from 3-point range. His final 3 came when he launched the ball past NBA range to tie it at 72 with two seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

Akoon-Purcell led Illinois State (12-11, 6-4) with 18 points.

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Wisconsin Survives Late Illinois Comeback

 width=Nigel Hayes scored 17 points, Bronson Koenig added 11 and Wisconsin beat Illinois 63-55 on Sunday night for the Badgers' fourth straight victory.

Wisconsin (13-9, 5-4 Big Ten) fell behind the Illini (10-12, 2-7) early but took its first lead at 23-22 on a dunk by Khalil Iverson with 4:56 left in the first half and never trailed again. Iverson finished with a career-high 10 points.

The Illini closed to within 55-50 with 1:02 to play on a 3-pointer by Kendrick Nunn. But Hayes hit six free throws in the last minute to ice the game.

Malcolm Hill led Illinois with 22 points.

Starting Illini forward Michael Finke left the game with an apparent knee injury in the second half after a collision with Hayes.

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Clinton Maroons Fall to Tuscola in CIC Action

As heard on 92.3 FM WHOW, the Clinton Maroons fell to the Tuscola Warriors by a score of 52-39 on Monday night. The Maroons were led by Sr. Jacob Overton with 16 points, and Jr. Peyton McCubbin also chipped in with 11 points.

 

The Warriors were led by Nick Bates with 25 points and Caleb Williams added 6 points. 

 

Tune in Wednesday, Feb. 3rd at 6p as the Maroons play in the CIC tournament. You can hear the game live on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Sullivan Redskins Defeat the Raiders in CIC Tourney

As heard on 95.9 FM WEZC, the Sullivan Redskins defeated the Central A&M Raiders by a score 62-59 on Monday night. 

 

Sullivan will play its next game in the Conference on Wednesday, Feb 2 at 7:30p and Central A&M will also play again on Wednesday at 6p. You can hear all of the games of the CIC boys basketball tournament live on WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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