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Local News

Clinton Schools Approve Strategic Plan

For several months now, Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles has been at work with staff and the school board to construct an update to the school's strategic plan.

 

Nettles explains the plan outlines and evaluates what is in place for education, technology and the budget and how to improve in those areas. Nettles says while the plan is approved, there is still a community piece to the plan.

 

 

As a part of that process, Nettles indicates there will be a needs assessment along with gathering input from the community. He hopes to make Clinton a true community school through this process.

 

 

Nettles explains the written document they have created is roughly a two year outline. He calls it a starting point but it is not going to sit for two years without being evaluated or adjusted.

 

 

Funding is a big part of the strategic plan and Nettle indicates there are a lot of moving parts as it relates to that because of the state budget crisis and the uncertainty of the power plant situation.

 

 

Goals of the strategic plan include a new program to improve the foundation for elementary and junior high students for career and vocational skills and a plan for facilities and more specifically, unused lots. 

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Rauner Growing Frustrated Over Budget Stalemate

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS HE’S EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED AS THE STATE HEADS INTO ITS TENTH MONTH WITHOUT A STATE BUDGET.

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS DEMOCRATS ARE PLAYING GAMES AND POINTS TO THE NEWS THAT CHICAGO STATE UNIVERSITY ONLY HAS ENOUGH CASH TO MAKE PAYROLL THROUGH THE END OF APRIL.

 

 

RAUNER SAYS HE IS VERY UPSET WITH THE CURRENT SITUATION. HE BLAMES THE DEMOCRATS NOT MOVING FORWARD WITH A BUDGET.

 

 

HOUSE SPEAKER MIKE MADIGAN HAS REPEATEDLY SAID THEY COULD PASS A STATE BUDGET IF THE GOVERNOR WOULD STOP TYING OTHER ISSUES TO THE SPENDING PLAN.

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Wind, Rain, Thunderstorms Doesn't Slow Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo

Despite heavy rains combined with sometimes strong winds, hundreds once again came out for the 2016 Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.

 

Executive Director of the Chamber, Marian Brisard, was pleased with this year's turnout despite the weather conditions and indicates she heard very few complaints.

 

 

53 business, community groups and entities were on hand to display what they offered doing various giveaways and drawings. One such entity hoping the public would aid first responders in finding their homes in emergency situations was the Wapella Fire Protection District in conjunction with the DeWitt County Sheriff's Department's booth. Wapella Fire Chief Nelson Thorpe explains their address signage is vital in finding homes both in rural areas and in DeWitt County communities.

 

 

Gene Witted was helping at the Farm Bureau Wednesday. He indicates some of the things they had on display promoted agriculture from a trivia game they had to literature for children. He says it was all about promoting agriculture and the Farm Bureau.

 

 

Hear more from Chief Thorpe later this week on Regional Radio News to learn more about the address signs they are trying to get installed across DeWitt County.

 

Also learn more about the changes the Dr. John Warner Hospital was promoting during the Expo Wednesday afternoon. 

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Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo Today

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce is inviting area residents to stop by Clinton High School today for the annual business expo.

 

Organizers are gearing up for another well attended expo and Marian Brisard, Executive Director says they have as many vendors signed up for this year as last, which totals more than 50.

 

 

The business expo is a win-win for the community and business or organizations that are a part of it. Brisard explains they encourage networking among their vendors, but also the Expo draws hundreds of local residents and is a great opportunity for them to get in front of perspective customers.

 

 

The Chamber Business Expo is a free event and is open to the public. The expo runs from 4 pm to 7 pm, again at the Clinton High School gymnasium.

 

Listen to live coverage from the Business Expo on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW from 3 pm to 5 pm then listen for updates on 95.9 FM WEZC from 5 pm to 7 pm. 

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County Locks in Energy Rates for Next 3 Years

The DeWitt County Board approved a bid for their energy provider that will set them at a fixed rate for the next three years.

 

DeWitt County Board member Terry Ferguson explains they locked in a rate with their current energy provider, MidAmerican Energy Service. According to Ferguson, their maintenance department sought out other bids and came back with the lowest from their current provider.

 

 

Ferguson indicates the County has locked in their rates for their energy costs before and this is a renewal of that. He also notes the deregulation of the energy markets has allowed for entities like the County and many others locally, to take advantage of that.

 

 

The fixed energy costs is an opportunity for the county to keep their rates on electricity low and to keep their budget steady as well. 

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Local Ag Students Awarded Scholarships From Farm Credit Illinois

More than $35,000 of scholarships were recently awarded to high school seniors throughout central and southern Illinois pursuing agriculture-related majors and future careers by Farm Credit Illinois. FCI awarded 24 high school seniors a $1,500 agriculture scholarship and two were designated as Urban Agriculture Scholars.

 

Local scholarship recipients include:

 

Sierra Day of Cerro Gordo will graduate from Cerro Gordo High School and attend Lake Land College in animal sciences. Her parents are Ronald & Cheryl Day.

 

Andrew Johnson of Champaign will graduate from Mahomet-Seymour High School and attend University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in agribusiness, markets and management. His parents are Scott & Kim Johnson.

 

Kirsten Kapraun of Maroa will graduate from Maroa-Forsyth High School and attend Southern Illinois University Carbondale in agricultural education. Her father is Benjamin Kapraun.

 

DeVonne “Zoe” Luster of Urbana will graduate from Urbana High School and attend Southern Illinois University Carbondale in agribusiness and zoology. Her mother is Denitra Luster – Urban Agriculture Scholar.

 

Genevieve VanWye of Atlanta will graduate from Olympia High School and attend Iowa State University in animal science. Her parents are Jerry & Connie VanWye.

 

This is the thirteenth year of the Farm Credit agriculture scholarship program which has awarded nearly $300,000 to 274 student since 2004. Scholarship selections are based on a combination of academic achievement, participation and leadership in school and community organizations, and the applicant’s commitment to an agricultural career.

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Clinton High School B-Honor Roll Announced For 3rd Quarter

B HONOR ROLL


SENIORS


ALEXANDER, COLLIN R.
ATTEBERRY, SIERRA N.
BATESON, KOBY D.
CASAREZ, ABIGAIL
CASTEEL, DEVIN H.
CHAPMAN, JOSEE S.
DWYER, LANEY D.
GILLMAN, MADISYN A.
GRUBB, VICTORIA C.
HAMPTON, MOLLY N.
HICKMAN, HANNA N.
HICKMAN, NOLAN A.
HOKE, MADISON N.
LAPITAN, JUSTUS G.
MAXWELL, WILLIAM C.
MILLER, MARISSA B.
MORRIS, AMANDA J.
PEACOCK, RYAN C.
PHILLIPS, RICHELLE J.
PRUSER, KALLI C.
RODAS, AUNDRAYA R.
TARBOX, ELIZABETH J.
TOOHILL, ASHLEY R.
WOOD, LOGAN W.

 

JUNIORS


COOLEY, ALEC G.
ALSUP, KEEGAN C.
BIEBER, PRESTON C.
BRUSS, MADISON M.
BURKE, TANNER M.
BUSTOS, RAQUEL G.
EDMUNDS, JORDAN L.
FIGURA, JOHNATHON T.
GLASS, MEGHAN N.
HAAS, KATHERINE L.
HARMON, LIVIA N.
HARVEY, TAYLOR N.
HENDRIEX, BLAKE L.
HUDSON, TIMOTHY P.
INIGUEZ, CRISTIAN
JOHNSON, ALEXANDRA D.
JOHNSON, CAMBRIA M.
JOHNSON, MACI K.
KINNEY, STEPHANIE K.
KOSHINSKI, PEYTON M.
LAPITAN, SAVANNAH R.
MCCUBBIN, CORWIN P.
MCKINZEY, CHELSEA E.
MCMATH, KADE M.
MURPHY-LEACH, KALEB M.
OSGOOD, JADE J.
OSGOOD, TRAVIS M.
PARAC, MICHAEL A.
PISTER, HANNAH M.
ROE, NATALIE B.
TOOHILL, KEVIN E.
WILLIAMS, MEGAN L.
WOOLRIDGE, MASON T.

 

SOPHMORES


BROWN, TILER M.
CASAREZ, BRENTON A.
CHAPMAN, SIERRA N.
CONATY, KEEGAN W.
DEFEBAUGH, TESSA K.
EARL, DYLAN G.
FOSTER, ETHAN W.
HARVEY, BAILEY A.
HAYDEN, GARRETT C.
JACOBS, GABBRIELLA R.
JOHNSON, KALEB D.
KARR, BLAKE W.
KERN, TENNYSON R.
LANE, BREANNA M.
LUKACH, ELIZABETH D.
MAXWELL, KATELYN J.
MESSENGER, RACHAEL A.
MILLER, JAYDEN J.
MORRIS, HANNAH F.
MORRIS, MICHAEL J.
MURPHY, DANIEL A.
ORNELAS, CAMERON S.
PHILLIPS, GLENN R.
POWELL, DALLAS A.
RAUCH, AUSTIN D.
REDDINGTON, NICKOLAS R.
REYNOLDS, CHASE A.
ROBINSON, RIVER K.
SANDERS, OLIVIA J.
SARTIE, JENNA R.
SCOLES, KAILEE R.
SIMS, MYCAYLA N.
SMITH, LAUREN N.
TAYLOR, ASPYN K.
WADE, JACOB A.
WALKER, CONNOR M.
WARREN, HALLE L.
WATERS, SOPHIA R.
WESTFALL, SETH S.
WILLOUGHBY, HANNAH C.
WOODS, MARCUS D.
WOOLDRIDGE, HANNAH L.

 

FRESHMEN
ADAMS, DANIEL E.
ARMSTRONG, MACKENZIE A.
BLACK, AVERY M.
BOUGHTON, GRACIE M.
BRADY, STEPHEN K.
BRODEN, LAUREN M.
COOLEY, HUNTER L.
DIAL, RAYMI L.
DUNCAN-SAVAGE, WILLIAM J.
FOSTER, MASON C.
GREEN, JACALYN D.
HACKETT, AUSTIN L.
HENSON, GILLIAN C.
HICKS, SARAH V.
HINTZ, NICHOLAS T.
HORN, TRENT A.
JENKINS, MATTHEW R. JR
KNAPP, RAVEN X.
KUNTZ, KAITLYN E.
MCGHEE, ANDREW L.
MCGHEE, ERIN T.
MCMATH, KOLTON M.
MERRIMAN, KENDALL A.
MOORE, HARRISON D.
MORSE, JACOB W.
MYERS, KILEY L.
NICHOLS, ISAIAH D.
OSORIO, AMAIRANI I.
PATTERSON, KYLE A.
REESER, NADIA E.
REYNOLDS, TREVOR E.
RICH, SAMUEL M.
SCOGIN, ASHTON P.
SESSIONS, CHASE L.
STARK, AUDREY R.
STEVENS, MADELYN J.
STURGEON, KAITLIN E.
TAYLOR, KIANA F.
THOMAS, MYA N.
THOMAS, REID J.
THOMPSON, PATRICIA J.
WERTZ, CAMERON J.
WERTZ, RUSTIN D.
WINTER, KOLBY W.

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Clinton High School A-Honor Roll Announced For 3rd Quarter

A HONOR ROLL


SENIORS


BATESON, DAMION M.
BORING, TAMARYN J.
BUTLER, KRYSTA R.
DUNCAN-SAVAGE, SCOUT
ESTES, ALEXIS R.
GAMSBY, BAILEY D.
GOERGEN, CAMERON J.
HAYDEN, KAITLIN E.
HENDERSON, MARA N.
HOSPELHORN, NICHOLAS R.
LOBANO, ALEXANDRA A.
MCMATH, ALEK K.
MITCHELL, SAMANTHA J.
MYERS, TAMSIN C.
NEAL, DAVID L.
NEWBERRY, FAYTHE R.
PRUITT, KAITLIN A.
SAMS, AARON C.
SHOBE, JOHN D. III
SILTMAN, KAITLYN A.
TOOHILL, PARKER J.
UNDERWOOD, MARANDA J.
WILLOUGHBY, BLAISE C.


JUNIORS
CANO, BRENDEN P.
CLARK, GRACE E.
CONN, WESLEY K.
DONELSON, RILEY C.
GAMSBY, AARON J.
HARROLD, JAMES L. III
HERNANDEZ, JUANA L.
HICKMAN, CHELSEY J.
HUNT, OWEN C.
IRVIN, KYLE T.
KARR, SABRYNN E.
LEE, JI HOON
MCDONALD, MAKENZIE L.
MILLER, JILLIAN E.
MOORE, TAYLOR L.
MUSSELMAN, SYDNEY A.
OBERMEYER, AMBER M.
OCAMPO, ASHLEY N.
PETERSON, ALEXIS J.
POURCHOT, JACOB T.
SHEPHERD, PAIGE N.
SMITH, PATRICIA R.
SPEED, EVA M.
THOMAS, JENA R.
VALENCIA, JAZMIN
WALL, FAITH S.
WHITLOCK, BROOKE M.
WHITTED, DALTON J.
WRIGHT, LEVI C.
WRIGHT, SHAE M.


SOPHMORES
ASH, CLARA L.
AYERS, ADDISON M.
ERVIN, EMILY A.
FATHEREE, MITCHELL D.
KANE, JONATHON J.
LEBLANC, ADREANA S.
MITCHELL, WELBY J.
RAFFETY, KARLI R.
REEVES, BRYCE L.
RUNYEN, CADE E.
SMITH, DALTON T.
STAUFFER, DYLAN R.
STEVENS, MADISON
THAYER, BREANNA N.
THRASHER, MANDY J.
TURNEY, WYNN J.
WHITE, MILLIE K.
WICKENHAUSER, SIERRA A.

 

FRESHMEN
ALSUP, CAMDYN R.
BENZ, DYLAN J.
BIERBRODT, OLIVIA G.
CASTILLO, JULIAN N.
CHAMPLEY, CALLIE R.
CLIFTON, SYDNEY M.
FRYMAN, KAYEDEN S.
HAYNES, PEYTON D.
HICKMAN, CLARA E.
HOLTMAN, LINDSEY M.
JAMES, ANNMAREE E.
KINDER, ALLISON R.
PATELSKI, KADY A.
PATTERSON, KANE J.
PETERSEN, LOGAN J.
PRUSER, RILEY M.
STONE, ABIGAIL M.
TAYLOR, EMILY N.
TOOHILL, SPENCER J.
TOOL, AMANDA R.
TORBERT, JAKE R.
WILLIAMS, HANNAH C.
WOOD, EVELYN M.
WORKMAN, CLAUDIA L.

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Clinton High School High Honor Roll Announced For 3rd Quarter

HIGH HONOR ROLL


SENIORS


CHITWOOD, JEREMIAH A.
COOPER, MALLORY C.
ENGLAND, DOUGLAS M.
FRYMAN, KERSTEN B.
HENDRICKER, JORDAN W.
HENNENFENT, DARYN H.
HICKS, KATHRYN E.
KAHLE, RENEE C.
KLITZING, GUNNAR K.
LEBRE, TESSA J.
LOVE, JASON M.
LOVETT, BETSY J.
NEAL, ANNA M.
NEAL, ELIZABETH R.
OVERTON, JACOB C.
SCHWARTZ, WILLIAM C.
SMITH, JUSTIN M.
STEWARD, HALEY E.
THRASHER, MEGAN C.
UNDERWOOD, COLLIN T.
WAYNE, VICTORIA R.

 

JUNIORS


AUGHENBAUGH, GREGORY T.
BENTON, CLAIRE S.
CALVERT, QUINLAN S.
FABRIS, ISAAC M.
GRIFFIN, NOAH A.
INMAN, MAGGIE V.
KROEGER, JACOB B.
LINDQUIST, DEBORAH L.
NETTLES, LEVI C.
NEWMAN, BRADEN M.
OSWALD, ALLISON R.
STERR, JULIA C.
WARGEL, LANDON T.
WHITE, LUCAS J.
WILSON, VICTORIA E.
WOOD, LILLIAN M.


SOPHMORES


BURTON, JOSHUA C.
CHANEY, NICOLE S.
ETTIEN, SAVANNAH L.
FILKIN, MADISON L.
FINFROCK, MEGAN E.
HENNENFENT, DANYE L.
HENNENFENT, DAYLE L.
HICKMAN, MAC L.
OVERBEY, KATHLEEN H.
PATEL, NIRAV
PATTERSON, KYLI R.
SAULSBERY, ALYSSA M.
WERTS, MAGGIE K.
WERTZ, EMMA N.

 

FRESHMEN


BENTON, OLIVIA J.
BRODEN, KATHERINE R.
CALVERT, ZAYIN S.
COOPER, TESS E.
DUPONT-BARLOW, RYTY L.
FOUGHT, KAITLYN E.
GOERGEN, CASEY E.
LINDQUIST, CHRISTINE L.
LUX, EMMA R.
LYONS, AMELIA J.
MILLS, ANNA N.
MURPHY-LEACH, JORDAN M.
OVERTON, MATTHEW A.
POLEN, ZOIE J.
REYNOLDS, CHRISTIAN A.
ROSENBERGER, ALEXIS M.
SHAW, ALEXANDRIA F.
UNDERWOOD, SYDNEE E.
WARGEL, KINSER P.

 

 

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Clinton Rotary's Alumni Basketball Game Recap

For better than 25 years, Clinton Rotary has hosted an alumni basketball game and this year's event was last Saturday evening.

 

Each year, the Rotary takes the proceeds from the game and donates them to the DeWitt County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Bob Cox with Habitat says the game is a great benefit to the organization because it helps keep them afloat.

 

 

While the game serves as a fundraiser for the local Habitat Chapter, President of the Clinton Rotary Club, Greg Taylor says the game is also a great promoter of the organization.

 

 

A Rotarian for many years, Terry Ijams is credited with the success of the alumni basketball game as he organizes it year after year. Taylor calls Ijams' efforts "tireless".

 

 

In the 25-plus years of the alumni basketball game, the Rotary has raised over $50-thousand for Habitat for Humanity. 

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Local 4-H, FFA Chapters Benefit From Farm Credit Illinois Grants

4-H clubs and FFA chapters throughout central and southern Illinois will implement valuable improvement projects in their communities thanks to grants provided by Farm Credit Illinois.

 

The agricultural lending cooperative awarded 60 4-H clubs and FFA chapters with $250 grants to establish projects that will make their local communities better places to live, and several went to organizations in the area.  The local recipients include:

 

Clinton FFA Chapter in DeWitt County - To Build a Hydroponic System to Grow Tomatoes in the Clinton High School Greenhouse.

 

Green Machines 4-H Club in Macon County - To Purchase Shelving to Organize and Set Up the New Blue Mound Food Pantry

 

Mt. Zion Eagles 4-H Club in Macon County - To Plant Flowers and Paint a Wall Mural in Downtown Decatur

 

All School 4-H Club in Champaign County - To Plant and Maintain the Hunger Garden and Flower Project at Dodds Park in Champaign

 

Philo 4-H Friends in Champaign County - To Create First Aid Kits and Educate Philo Community Organizations on Safety

 

This is the eighth year Farm Credit Illinois has funded community improvement grants, now totaling more than $60,000. 

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Good Government Group Evaluating Campaign Expenditures

Much attention is paid to who donates to political campaigns, but good government groups say more can be done to keep an eye on how politicians are spending their campaign funds.

 

A state senator and former state representative turned auditor general both face hearings about campaign expenditures next month before the Illinois State Board of Elections. Good government groups say campaign spending should garner as much attention as campaign donations.

 

Illinois Campaign for Political Reform Executive Director Sarah Brune (brew-knee) says the group always is concerned about campaign spending.

 

 

Bob Reed with the Better Government Association tells WMAY Springfield that questionable spending should be addressed.

 

 

However, Reed says any change in the law could be difficult because it would have to go through the very legislators who are spending the money.

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Blagojevich Appeal Won't Be Heard

The Supreme Court has decided not to hear the appeal of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

 

A federal appeals court threw out five of his 18 corruption convictions in July and Blagojevich was asking the high court to consider tossing the rest. Springfield Attorney Jon Gray Noll was hopeful they would take on the issue.

 

 

Noll doesn't believe Blagojevich's resentencing will have little impact on his 14 year prison term.

 

 

Blagojevich has completed 4 years of that extended term.

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Waynesville Native Promoted To Sargeant by DeWitt County Sheriff

The Dewitt County Sheriff’s Office and the Dewitt County Board recognized Sergeant Joseph Furman with a Certificate of Appointment to sergeant, during the county board meeting last Thursday.

 

The DeWitt County Sheriff promoted correctional officer Joseph Furman to sergeant on February 22, 2016, based on his exam and interview performances.

 

The 25-year-old Waynesville native joined the DeWitt County Sheriff’s Office in June, 2013.

Furman is a 2009 graduate of Olympia High School, and a 2013 graduate of Greenville College, where he majored in Criminal Justice.

 

There will be another correctional officers hiring event in 2016. Visit http://www.dewittsheriff.com/ for further information on employment opportunities with the DeWitt County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Picture left to right: Deputy Sgt. Robert Spickard, Furman, Sheriff Jered Shofner

 

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Clinton Resident Forever Changed By Heroin Use

Community law enforcement officials along with other community leaders recently got together to begin to take steps to curb the growing problem of heroin.

 

Numerous lives have already been taken by this epidemic and one resident was a part of this discussion. Stephanie Pollock says she lost her husband not ten years ago to a heroin overdose, and says when she found out her husband was using drugs, she was in denial.

 

 

Pollock has two children who are now fatherless because of this drug and she says her story is far too common across the state and country. She indicates she has watched one of her closest friends feel the same pain she felt nearly eight years ago.

 

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner says their current way of dealing with anyone caught in possession of heroin is not acceptable. He says it's going to take some outside the box thinking to break down barriers associated with combating heroin locally.

 

 

Sheriff Shofner explains it took him a long time to understand the effects of heroin on the human brain. He indicates it rewires the human brain and could take several attempts at rehab before sobriety is reached.

 

 

Since her husband's death in 2008, Pollock has been hard at work with various groups to promote ways to curb the epidemic. She says there are couple laws she hopes to see passed by the legislature which could help.

 

 

Pollock notes bringing someone back from an overdose using Narcan, or naloxone, is extremely painful. Pollock encourages you to do your research on this issue and learn as much as you can.

 

The Sheriff indicates there are very few families that are not impacted by someone using heroin. He indicates law enforcement locally are trying to get the right people on board to address this public health issues this has become but they are also looking at reforms from a law enforcement standpoint.

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State Rep. Says Increase in Doubts As Time Passes Without Budget

The lack of clarification about campaign spending from a former state representative turned auditor general raises questions about the integrity of the office, according to a Republican state representative who signed letters sent to Frank Mautino. 
 
Before being sworn in as the state’s new auditor general, Mautino closed out the campaign fund he used while he was a Democratic state representative. Since then the media and some lawmakers have asked for information about campaign spending on vehicles, payments to a bank and more. 
 
Republican state Rep. Grant Wehrli, who sent two letters to Mautino in early February on behalf of himself and 11 other representatives, says each day that passes without clarification increases doubts Mautino can perform as auditor general. 
 
In a letter provided to Illinois Radio Network that is dated Feb. 25, Mautino tells lawmakers that he has retained a lawyer and is working diligently to clear the matter up quickly. 

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Treasurer Mike Frerichs announces a new online unclaimed property auction

ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS’ OFFICE IS LAUNCHING A NEW UNCLAIMED PROPERTY AUCTION ON MONDAY.
 
THE ITEMS UP FOR GRABS COME FROM LONG FORGOTTEN SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES…AND INCLUDE SOME REAL TREASURERS SAYS FRERICHS SPOKESPERSON GREG RIVARA.
 
 
YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE ITEMS UP FOR BID AHEAD OF TIME ONLINE AT ILLINOIS TREASURER DOT GOV. THE AUCTION RUNS THROUGH FRIDAY, APRIL FIRST.
 
MERCHANDISE UP FOR BID INCLUDES RARE COINS, VINTAGE JEWELRY AND FOOTBALL CARDS SAYS TREASURER SPOKESPERSON GREG RIVARA.
 
THE AUCTION RUNS THROUGH FRIDAY, APRIL FIRST. PREVIEW AUCTION ITEMS ONLINE NOW AT ILLINOIS TREASURER DOT GOV.

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More than 18,000 jobs were added last month in Illinois

MORE THAN 18 THOUSAND JOBS WERE ADDED LAST MONTH IN ILLINOIS…BUT GROWTH STILL LAGS BEHIND THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. 
 
THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE SLIGHTLY TO SIX POINT FOUR PERCENT IN FEBRUARY…BUT THE JOB NUMBERS WERE A BRIGHT SPOT SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ANALYST EVELINA LOESCHER.
 
 
THE LARGEST JOB GAINS WERE SEEN IN LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY, EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH SERVICES AND TRADE, TRANSPORTATION AND UTILITIES SECTORS.
 
DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ANALYST EVELINA LOESCHER SAYS THAT’S MOSTLY DUE TO AN INCREASE IN PEOPLE TRYING TO ENTER THE WORKFORCE.
 
LOESCHER SAYS MOST OF THE JOB GAINS LAST MONTH WERE SEEN IN LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY, EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH SERVICES AND TRADE, TRANSPORTATION AND UTILITIES.

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Cases of tuberculosis increase in Illinois for the first time since 2005

THE NUMBER OF CASES OF TUBERCULOSIS IN ILLINOIS ROSE LAST YEAR.
 
344 T-B INFECTIONS WERE REPORTED IN 2015…THE FIRST INCREASE IN A DECADE. STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MELANEY ARNOLD SAYS THEY WANT THE PUBLIC TO KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF T-B TO HELP SLOW THE SPREAD OF THE DISEASE.
 
ARNOLD STRESSES THE IMPORTANCE OF T-B PATIENTS STRICTLY FOLLOWING THE SIX TO 12 MONTH LONG DRUG TREATMENT REGIMEN, OR RISK THEIR INFECTION BECOMING RESISTANT TO ANTIBIOTICS.
 
GENERAL SYMPTOMS ARE FATIGUE, WEIGHT LOSS, FEVER AND NIGHT SWEATS BUT MAY ALSO INCLUDE A PERSISTENT COUGH THAT SOMETIMES PRODUCES BLOOD. STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MELANEY ARNOLD SAYS THOSE DIAGNOSED WITH T-B MUST STRICTLY ADHERE TO THEIR TREATMENT REGIMEN.
 
 
T-B IS CONTAGIOUS AND IS SPREAD THROUGH THE AIR WHEN SOMEONE SICK COUGHS OR SNEEZES.

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Attorney General Lisa Madigan's Office collected nearly $1 billion in state revenue last year

ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN’S OFFICE COLLECTED NEARLY ONE BILLION DOLLARS IN STATE REVENUE LAST YEAR.
 
MADIGAN’S OFFICE IS DOING IT’S PART TO BRING IN MORE MONEY FOR THE STATE'S COFFERS. SHE SAYS PART OF THAT COMES FROM THE HUGE TOBACCO SETTLEMENT FROM YEARS AGO AND NUMEROUS OTHER SOURCES.
 
 
MILLIONS WERE ALSO RECOUPED IN SETTLEMENTS WITH PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES FOR DECEPTIVE PRACTICES AND FROM A BIG SETTLEMENT WITH STANDARD AND POOR’S OVER ISSUES WITH MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITIES.
 
THE MONEY COMES FROM BASIC COLLECTIONS…MONEY OWED TO STATE AGENCIES FOR THINGS LIKE DAMAGE TO STATE PROPERTY, FINES AND CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT. 
 
MADIGAN SAYS THIS MONEY ALL GOES TO THE STATE AND DOES NOT INCLUDE THE MORE THAN 100 MILLION DOLLARS PAID OUT IN RESTITUTION TO CONSUMERS.

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Lottery Still Assessing Damage From Impasse

Illinois Lottery officials say they are still feeling the aftereffects from when payouts to winners were in limbo last year.

 

Before an appropriation allowed for lottery winnings to be paid out, lottery winners waited months for their checks. Illinois Lottery Acting Director B.R. Lane told a Senate appropriations committee earlier this month they have yet to fully recover from the decline in sales.

 

 

However, Lane says what’s more difficult to judge is how the Illinois Lottery brand was damaged during that time.

 

 

Meanwhile, Lane says the Lottery is still in the process of finding a new private manager to replace Northstar Lottery Group, which remains in place until a new manager takes charge. 

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Lincoln College Announces Steps To Cover MAP Grants

Lincoln College is the latest school to step up and cover the Monetary Award Program grants while the state continues to withhold the money.

 

Students attending Lincoln College this fall will have their map grants fully covered by the college after the board of trustees voted to shift resources to make that happen. College President David Gerlach says students are on edge.

 

 

Gerlach says the decision wasn't an easy slam dunk for the College Board of Trustees.

 

 

80 percent of Lincoln College students are Map Grant eligible. Those grants average $4,000. Student financial stability is crucial for Lincoln College as they continue their transition from a two year college to a four year school. 

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United Prairie Enters in New Facility With Thursday Open House

Despite the rain and wind Thursday, dozens of farmers and ag professionals turned out to check the latest agriculture based facility of central Illinois.

 

United Prairie opened their latest facility in Emery. Eric Briggs, agronomist with United Prairie says the facility is complete with offices, a chemical bay and a shop.

 

 

Along with learning more about United Prairie, producers who attended could have a ten dollar donation made to their local FFA Chapters. According Josh Rund, Assistance Operations Manager at the Emery location, indicates they are trying to partner with agriculture by helping local and state FFA chapters.

 

 

Todd Shunk is sales manager at United Prairie. He feels they have a great opportunity in coming to central Illinois.

 

 

The open house lasted until 1 pm, just in time for most of the rain to leave the area and temperatures to dip into the 40s.

 

Hickory River provided a free lunch for attendees. 

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WHOW To Broadcast This Weekend's Alumni Basketball Game

A spring time tradition that spans better than 25 years in Clinton is set for this weekend.

 

The annual Clinton Rotary Alumni basketball game is set for this Saturday with a men's and women's game. Terry Ijams has been the coordinator of the event for the entirety of the event's existence and says each year, they do this to benefit DeWitt County Habitat For Humanity.

 

 

The alumni game has largely been consistent over many years but Ijams notes they added a women's game a number of years ago which increased participation and turnout. He also notes they have changed the requirements for alumni to participate.

 

 

Ijams indicates this years rosters for the men's and women's games include recent graduates of Clinton High School and athletes from memorable teams in the school's history.

 

 

This year's alumni basketball game is set for Saturday March 26 with the tip for the first game of 6:30 pm and the second game to follow, following some entertainment provided by youth at the Clinton YMCA.

 

Listen to live coverage from the games on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Kenney Fire Department's Blood Drive Friday

Blood donors are invited to be a part of a blood drive Friday hosted by the Kenney Fire Department.

 

Fritz Robinson with the Fire Department says this is something he and a few other firefighters in Kenney thought would be a good way to do some good. He says this is something they are bringing back after several years.

 

 

Kenney Fire Department's Troy Lashbrook says if you haven't given blood before, or it has been a while, the Red Cross has a way to speed up your process of getting in to donate.

 

 

For further information, contact Robinson at 217-620-5407 or Lashbrook at 563-321-0416.

Again the blood drive is Friday at the Kenney Fire Department from 1 pm to 6 pm.

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Community Action 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' Open To Public in 2016

A Lincoln group's biggest event is right around the corner and there are some changes this year that should allow for more participation from the community.

 

Community Action's Cheeseburgers in Paradise fundraiser has shifted from an event geared towards community businesses to an event open to the public. Breanne Titus and Katie Alexander with Community explains the event features all you cheeseburgers, a silent and live auction and live entertainment.

 

 

For Community Action, the Cheeseburgers in Paradise event is their biggest event of the year. Alexander says all the money the raise goes back into their programming, which is aimed to end the cycle of poverty.

 

 

Titus notes the event in year's past has been almost exclusive to the business community but this year Community Action has decided to open it up to the public in an effort to grow.

 

 

The event is April 16 at the Lincoln Banquet Center in Lincoln starting at 6 pm. For ticket information, visit capcil.info. Tickets are available and updates are made daily to the Cheeseburgers in Paradise event page on Facebook. 

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Schools Facing Challenges in Scheduling For 2016-17

Area school districts are looking ahead to the 2016-17 school year already and as they do so, the challenges continue to mount as the state continues through yet another month with no budget and nothing imminent in sight.

 

For Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools, Mike Williams, the challenges of preparing for the next school year are proving challenging already. He explains they are trying to align their class schedules with teacher availabilities, which has enough challenges on its own.

 

 

Another challenge in the whole process is the state budget being a big question. Williams indicates because they don't have any figures at all at this point, it makes staffing decisions very difficult, and those are going to have to be made very soon.

 

 

Williams predicts if a budget for the current fiscal year isn't put together and a budget for the upcoming fiscal year isn't figured out soon, schools are going to have to do a lot of short term borrowing to get by.

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Cooler Weather Predicted For Short Period, Then Back To Warmth

We have had above average temperatures every month since last fall, and as that trend continues we could be in the fields early this spring. But, state climatologist Jim Angel says we have a couple of weeks of cooler weather ahead that may slow things down a bit.

 

 

After the next couple of weeks, Angel expects a return to warmer than normal weather into the summer months, but is a little skeptical of reports of a possible hot and dry growing season.

 

 

State climatologist Jim Angel.

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Congressman Rodney Davis believes honor for POW/MIAs sends a strong message

If you pay a visit to the U.S. Capitol building in the future, you may spot an empty chair in honor of military personnel held captive by the enemy and those who never returned.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville, also believes lessons from the sacrifices of the past show how troops serving on the battlefield should be treated in the future.

 


Commemorative POW/MIA chairs were recently purchased with privately raised funds, and they will remain perpetually unoccupied as a solemn reminder of 91,000 American POW/MIAs.

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Ag Education Cuts Don't Look Like Cuts To Governor

On windswept state fairgrounds today while pushing for a private path forward to improve the Illinois State Fairgrounds Governor Bruce Rauner shook hands with and chatted for just a moment with 4 members of the State FFA. The same FFA that benefits from the ag education line item that in his proposed FY 17 budget is zeroed out.

 

Rauner says that his goal is more funding for education – but he wants to get past specific line items, granting more control to local schools.

 

 

So Rauner’s budget zero’s out the line item for the second straight year, eliminating a source of funding for ag education, funding was restored to a baseline of just over $1.8 million in FY 16. 

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Spring Time Safety Information From Local Law Enforcement

There's been plenty of opportunity for local residents to get outside and begin spring clean up efforts or just enjoy the unseasonably nice weather this March in central Illinois.

 

With this nice weather and the desire to break out of the house and spend time outside comes many challenges for local law enforcement. Police Chief Ben Lowers says as you begin to spend time outside, be respectful of your neighbors. Noise complaints may be one of the most common they receive as residents seek to spend more time together and outside.

 

 

With school districts on spring break or heading to spring break soon, Chief Lowers says the warmer weather is most certainly going to attract youth outside and he encourages motorists to be mindful of that as they travel through residential neighborhoods.

 

 

Bikers have most likely pulled the motorcycles out for the season and Chief Lowers encourages very cautious driving when around them. He notes it is rare when you get into an accident with a biker that it is their fault.

 

 

Along with families getting out and increase in foot traffic on community streets, Chief Lowers notes more dogs are with those pedestrians. He encourages keeping dogs on a leash at all times.

 

 

The Chief encourages when driving at all times to put the cell phones and electronic devices away, but especially in residential areas where there may be children playing.

 

He also continues to warn car owners to lock their vehicles that are parked on community streets as they anticipate a spike in vehicle burglaries this time of year.

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Clinton HS Gets Technology Approval

Clinton High School students will have improved technology in their classrooms starting next year thanks to an initiative approved last week by the Clinton Board of Education.

 

Principal Jerry Wayne (right) indicates the Board approved their request for Microsoft Surface Tablets. He believes it is all about preparing students for the next stages of their lives.

 

 

For Wayne, the Microsoft Surface offers students "phenomenal possibilities". He explains they went through a needs assessment and decided what the device could for flexibility with different platforms they wanted to produce work on was most appealing.

 

 

While the lump-sum payment which will be just short of $400-thousand seems large, Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles says that payment will put a device in each high school student's hands and bring nearly the entire district up to 1-to-1.

 

 

Nettles indicates they are considering the possibility of allowing graduating seniors the option of purchasing their devices at a discounted price.

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Social Media Use Varies From Official To Official

When it comes to a social media presence for the leading state senators and representatives, it’s hit or miss.

 

Caucuses from both parties in both chambers of the General Assembly have social media platforms, but neither the Senate president nor the House speaker are on social media. Carl Palmer, associate professor of politics and government at Illinois State University, says for someone like House Speaker Michael Madigan, the platforms aren’t necessary.

 

 

Palmer also notes that some older politicians may not see the importance of social media at all.

 

 

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says he hasn’t examined the issue of social media and didn’t want to comment. Vicki Crawford, spokeswoman for leading Republican Rep. Jim Durkin, says the House GOP caucus makes vibrant use of various social media platforms.

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Secretary of State hopes for no more facility closures

Don’t expect any more drivers service facility closures beyond one reported this month, at least that’s the hope of the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.

 

Henry Haupt, deputy press secretary for Secretary of State Jesse White, says the office used some of a recent $10 million appropriation to pay landlords for rent from July to December, some utilities for the various facilities, and vendors who maintain the office’s cyber security.

 

 

Haupt also says of the $10 million appropriation, the office has set aside $4 million for critical needs like continued payments on leases, utilities and unexpected emergencies.

 

 

But despite the office having a top priority of keeping drivers facilities open, Haupt says one landlord in Wheaton did decide to discontinue a lease. That facility is closing March 24.
 

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Secretary of State continues belt tightening

Though there’s still no full budget for the current fiscal year, the Secretary of State’s office continues to spend -- sparingly.

 

Before the end of 2015, lawmakers passed a bill containing $10 million for the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. Deputy Press Secretary Henry Haupt says some of that money was used to pay rent and utilities for drivers service facilities and vendors who maintain the office’s cyber security operations. Outside of the highly publicized suspension of mailing out license plate renewal notices, Haupt says the office is taking other belt-tightening steps to save money during the impasse.

 

 

Meanwhile Haupt says the security company Garda resumed services last month to pick up and deliver cash from drivers services facilities after having ended a previous agreement earlier this year because of lack of payment. 

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Rauner asks for one-on-one meeting with Speaker Madigan

Now that the Illinois primaries are over, could there be more meetings to try to resolve the budget impasse?

 

Gov. Rauner said at a news conference Monday he reached out to get a one-on-one meeting with House Speaker Michael Madigan to talk about a path out of the nearly 9-month-old budget impasse.

 

 

Madigan Spokesman Steve Brown said he is working to confirm whether the governor called and will provide an update soon. Meanwhile, Rauner said he’s apprehensive to call for meetings with all four legislative leaders because attempts last summer and fall produced zero results.

 

The governor said bipartisan measures on procurement reform and pension reform could help provide savings to pay for things like higher education and social services, but legislators need to bring the bills out of committee and vote on them. 

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Gov. Rauner: Budget impasse being extended for political message

Now that the primaries are over, Gov. Bruce Rauner says lawmakers need to get back to work. However, the governor says politics may still be getting in the way.

 

During a news conference in Chicago Monday, Rauner said the characterization that he’s frustrated at the nearly 9-month-old budget impasse is putting it mildly.

 

 

Responding to the governor’s comments, Senate President John Cullerton’s spokesman John Patterson said, “The governor created this impasse back in June.” That’s when the governor vetoed most of the spending bills Democrats sent, saying they were unbalanced.

 

Patterson said Cullerton continues to hope that both sides can work toward productive solutions that, quote, “give the governor the ability to honor his administration's commitments and turn our state around with a common-sense budget agreement." 

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DHS owes 820 agencies $168 million

More than 820 agencies and providers are waiting on a total of $168 million in payments from the state’s Department of Human Services.

 

When proposing a budget of more than $4 billion for the coming fiscal year, acting DHS Secretary James Dimas told a Senate committee that the department has more than 1,000 community service agreement contracts with 826 agencies and providers. Democratic state Sen. Daniel Biss questioned the fairness of the agreements.

 

 

Dimas said the agreements include an upfront understanding vendors won’t get paid until a budget for the current fiscal year is passed.

 

 

Dimas said he hopes lawmakers will help him keep his promise to make the agencies whole by passing a budget for the current fiscal year. 

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DeWitt County Human Resource Center Nearing Breaking Point

A local non-profit almost daily is impacted by the budget crisis in Illinois and their leaders says things are as bad as they have been.

 

Executive Director of the DeWitt County Human Resource Center, Lynn Scovill, says while some areas that receive state funding are starting to be impacted now, HRC was negatively impacted from the start.

 

 

Tough choices have become the norm for agencies like HRC but Scovill says the longer the stalemate in Springfield drags on the more tough choices HRC is making. Scovill says they have cut several direct service staffers.

 

 

Scovill indicates the waiting period for certain services has reached three months. She explains they have been up and down options to cut costs but still provide services.

 

 

The news has not all been doom and gloom though for HRC. Scovill explains individuals, businesses and groups have stepped up to support them during this time and she says any amounts, large or small are gratefully accepted and very much appreciated.

 

 

Scovill indicates while there is not a specific date where they will have to shut their doors, she says the struggle becomes more and more intense with each passing week. She says the seriousness of their situation is very real.

 

 

Scovill indicates they are keeping the public updated on their situations as much as possible via their Facebook pages. She thanks those in the community have stepped up to provide financial assistance and for those that are advocating on their behalf in any way. 

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Clinton To Recognize Bring Home Vietnam Veterans Day

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day will be March 29 of this year and the local Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR, are making sure local residents are aware.

 

A resolution was brought forward by DAR and was presented by Clinton Mayor Roger Cyrulik Monday night.

 

 

The resolution outlines the organizations that got involved in the war in some way and those across the country that served in some capacity.

 

 

In addition to the Vietnam War Veterans Proclamation, the Mayor also made a proclamation for National Service Day.

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2016 Business Expo March 30 at Clinton High School

The 2016 Business Expo, hosted by the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, is set for Wednesday March 30 at Clinton High School.

 

 

The Chamber Business Expo always falls during spring break for the school district so the Chamber can have access to the gym. Marian Brisard, Executive Director says they have as many vendors signed up for this year as last, which totals more than 50.

 

 

Brisard explains they encourage networking among the vendors, but also the Expo draws hundreds of local residents and she say it's a great opportunity for them to get in front of perspective customers.

 

 

The Chamber Business Expo is a free event and is open to the public. This year's event is Wednesday, March 30 from 4 pm to 7 pm, again at the Clinton High School gymnasium.

 

Listen to live coverage from the Business Expo on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW from 3 pm to 5 pm then listen for updates on 95.9 FM WEZC from 5 pm to 7 pm. 

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CAPCIL's LIHEAP Program Winding Down

With the warmer weather upon, the opportunity to take advantage of a home energy assistance program through a local non-profit is beginning to dwindle.

 

Alison Rumler-Gomez is the Executive Director of Community Action Partnership of Central Illinois, and indicates their energy assistance program, LIHEAP, is seeing the available funds begin to decrease as we approach the spring months.

 

 

This winter has been one to remember because of a lack of precipitation and mild temperatures. Rumler-Gomez indicates that has impacted the payouts they have made but has not impacted the number of requests they've received.

 

 

The funds for the LIHEAP program are made available through a federal and state grant and Rumler-Gomez indicates those funds were not available for a while from the State because of the budget impasse in Springfield.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez says they don't know how many more clients they could help, so she encourages anyone who might need financial assistance paying for their energy bill or assistance in energy efficient projects who may be eligible based on income to contact their Lincoln office at 217-732-2159. 

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Proposed Budget For Illinois Gaming Board Includes Full Staffing

Despite a proposed budget that’s nearly $7 million less than the current fiscal year proposed budget, the Illinois Gaming Board expects to be fully staffed in fiscal 2017.

 

The Illinois Gaming Board is responsible for reviewing casino, riverboat and video gaming licenses, investigating wrongdoing and issuing disciplinary action to gambling outlets.

Administrator Mark Ostrowski said last week that the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year is about $154 million, a decrease of nearly $7 million — or 4.3 percent down — from the request levels for FY15. Ostrowski said with 10 casinos that operate around the clock and more than 5,300 video gaming locations, it’s crucial to be fully staffed.

 

 

Ostrowski said the proposed budget allows for full staffing.

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Gaming Board Says Saturation Close

Illinois may be getting close to gambling saturation, according to the administrator for the Illinois Gaming Board.

 

During testimony last week on the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget for the Illinois Gaming Board, Administrator Mark Ostrowski said that in addition to the 10 licensed casinos, there are more than 5,320 locations operating 22,620 video gaming terminals. Ostrowski said all the video gaming terminals combined make Illinois the largest video gaming jurisdiction in the world.

 

 

Meanwhile Ostrowski said with the equivalent of 29 casinos operating in Illinois, the state is getting closer to a saturation point.

 

 

Recent analysis from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability showed an overall increase of video gaming revenue from the previous year with video gaming machines eating into riverboat activity.

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Department of Revenue Pushing For Legislative Proposals

The Illinois Department of Revenue is looking at two legislative measures it hopes will assist the department and taxpayers in the coming year.

 

When delivering the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, Director Connie Beard offered two legislative measures she hopes will be approved. The first, Beard said, would allow the Department of Revenue to charge local governments a 2 percent administrative fee for 11 different local taxes they administer.

 

 

Beard also said the department hopes to create a sales and excise tax refund pool to deposit less than two-tenths of a percent of tax receipts to pay sales and excise tax overpayments.

 

 

Beard said the fund would be limited to hardship cases while other, less severe cases would be given credits for overpayments.

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Changing FOIA Could Be Difficult

Illinois’ Attorney General says the Public Access Bureau is making progress on processing concerns about open records laws while a government watchdog group says one area needing focus is legislative leader transparency.

 

A report released Wednesday by Attorney General Lisa Madigan details more than 4,700 government open records disputes the public filed with the AG’s Public Access Bureau in 2015. The report says the bureau has cleared 85 percent of cases since 2010.

 

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that the state’s legislative leaders claim exemption from open records requests. The Better Government Association’s Andy Shaw tells WMAY Springfield this is just one area of the Freedom of Information Act that needs tweaking, either by statute or by the courts. But, he says, it will be difficult.

 

 

This week is Sunshine Week, a time the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sets aside to promote government transparency.

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Weekly Weather Summary

While the rainfall may be nominal for this time of year, you can expect much cooler temperatures and some rain this weekend. State Climatotologist Jim Angel has more
 

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Unemployment rates increased in most metro areas in January

THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE IN MOST ILLINOIS METRO AREAS IN JANUARY.
 
OVER THE YEAR INCREASES WERE SEEN IN 13 OF THE 14 METRO AREAS SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ANALYST RON PAYNE.
 
THE BIGGEST JUMPS FROM JANUARY 2015 TO JANUARY 2016 WERE SEEN IN PEORIA, DANVILLE, BLOOMINGTON, CARBONDALE AND MARION.
 
 
PAYNE SAYS MUCH OF THE INCREASE IS DUE TO MORE PEOPLE LOOKING FOR JOBS BUT NOT HAVING MUCH LUCK.

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State's Bills Stacking Up Higher and Higher

March elections are over and the state still remains in a miserable budget situation. Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says that things are only getting worse and now the state is going have $10 billion in unpaid debts by the end of the summer. 
 
The difference is partly because not all unpaid bills are counted the same. She says today before a Senate appropriations committee that the state owes $7.6 billion in bills the state is required to pay by court order. There is another $1.25 billion that’s owed to vendors under contract – but the state isn’t under a mandate to pay them right now. 
 
 
Munger says her and her office staff deal with daily request for the state to pay what it owes.
 
 
The state is closing in nearly a year without a budget. The next fiscal year is set to begin July 1. 

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Senate Republicans call on colleagues to pass the Governor's education budget

SENATE REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS ARE URGING THEIR COLLEAGUES TO PASS THE GOVERNOR’S EDUCATION FUNDING PLAN.
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER HAS CALLED FOR AN INCREASE IN EDUCATION SPENDING IN THE NEXT BUDGET, FULLY FUNDING THE STATE’S SCHOOL AID FORMULA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SEVEN YEARS. SENATOR JASON BARICKMAN OF BLOOMINGTON SUPPORTS THE PLAN AND SAYS IT NEEDS TO BE PASSED QUICKLY.
 
 
DEMOCRATS SAY THEY WANT TO SEE MORE DETAILS REGARDING HOW MUCH MONEY THAT MEANS FOR EACH SCHOOL DISTRICT AND SAY THE ENTIRE FUNDING SYSTEM NEEDS AN OVERHAUL.
 
THE GOVERNOR IS CALLING FOR AN INCREASE IN SPENDING ON KINDERGARTEN THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION AND WANTS IT PASSED QUICKLY. SENATOR KAREN MCCONNAUGHAY OF WEST DUNDEE AGREES…AND SAYS ONCE THAT’S DONE, THEY CAN DISCUSS A BETTER WAY TO FUND SCHOOLS IN ILLINOIS.
 
 
THE G-O-P LAWMAKERS ALSO SAY THEY DON’T WANT PASSING AN EDUCATION BUDGET TO BE HELD UP BY ANY DEALS TO BAIL OUT STRUGGLING CHICAGO SCHOOLS.

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Senate passes $3.8 billion spending bill

THE ILLINOIS SENATE APPROVED A THREE POINT EIGHT BILLION DOLLAR SPENDING PLAN THURSDAY.
THE LEGISLATION INCLUDES MONEY FOR COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITIES, MAP GRANTS, HUMAN SERVICE PROGRAMS, LIBRARY GRANTS, THE STATE’S POISON CENTER AND MORE. SENATOR HEATHER STEANS (stains) OF CHICAGO SAYS IT’S NEEDED TO KEEP THESE ENTITIES AND SERVICES OPEN.
 
 
OPPONENTS POINT OUT THAT THE BILL DOESN’T SPELL OUT A WAY TO PAY FOR IT, AND THAT THE HOUSE WON’T BE BACK UNTIL APRIL TO CONSIDER THE LEGISLATION.
 
 BUT SENATOR CHAPIN ROSE OF CHAMPAIGN REMINDED HIS COLLEAGUES THAT THE BILL DOESN’T IDENTIFY A FUNDING SOURCE.
 
 
THE MEASURE WILL NEXT GO TO THE HOUSE NEXT, WHICH HAS ALREADY PASSED A SIMILAR VERSION. BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE AREN’T DUE BACK INTO SESSION UNTIL EARLY APRIL.

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Liberty Village Hosting Easter Egg Hunt

Early Easter Fun is the name of the game for one DeWitt County business.

 

Liberty Village of Clinton is inviting youth to their facility off Illini Drive for an early Easter Egg Hunt Saturday.

 

Allison Skelton with Liberty Village says they will have egg hunts for different age groups with plenty of prizes, including gift baskets and even bicycles.

 

 

The egg hunt is Saturday, March 19 at 1pm at Liberty Village and is open to kids 12 years old and under.

 

A rain date of Saturday March 26 has been set.

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IEMA Holding Weather Radio Contest

Nearly 50 weather warnings were issued Tuesday evening across the northern half of Illinois, including 19 tornado warnings. Several tornado touchdowns were reported, resulting in damage to dozens of structures. Fortunately, it appears no serious injuries or deaths resulted from the storms.

 

James K. Joseph, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), said the severe weather outbreak serves as a vivid reminder that people need to have a way to receive severe weather warnings any time of the day or night, such as with a weather alert radio. Joseph added that Illinois residents currently have an opportunity to win one of 100 weather alert radios to be awarded through an online contest.

 

The ‘Weather Alert Radios Save Lives’ contest, sponsored by IEMA and the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA), is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov. Participants will be registered for a random drawing for the radios after reading information about weather alert radios and successfully completing a five-question quiz.

 

The contest runs through March 31. Winners will be announced in April. The radios were purchased by IESMA as part of an effort to increase the use of the devices in communities throughout Illinois.
 

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Commodity Board Seats Up For Election

Election season isn't over locally.

 

Farmers who would like to run for a three-year-term on the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) or the Illinois Sheep and Wool Marketing Board (ISWMB) can now start circulating nomination petitions.

 

Petitions are available at county Extension offices and the Illinois Department of Agriculture in Springfield.  The deadline to complete and return these petitions is May 15th for the Corn Marketing Board candidates and May 31st for the Sheep and Wool Marketing Board candidates. 

 

To be eligible, each candidate must be at least 18 years old, have produced and marketed the pertinent commodity, reside in the district to be represented, and have submitted a valid petition by the filing deadline.

 

District Six of the ICMB has openings, which includes Champaign, Ford, Iriquois and Vermilion Counties.

 

District Six of the ISWMB has openings as well. Those counties include Christian, DeWitt, Logan, Macon, Mason, McLean, Menard, Montgomery, Moultrie, Sangamon and Shelby counties.

 

District Three has openings and those counties include Fulton and Knox Counties.

 

Elections for both boards will be held on July 7, 2016.  For more information, call the Illinois Department of Agriculture at (217) 524-9130 or visit our website at www.agr.state.il.us.

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MS Talk Inc. Hosting Weekend Seminar

A group of advocates for residents who battle multiple sclerosis are hosting an event this weekend on health and wellness.

 

Paula Nelson is the President of the local group, MS Talks, and explains this weekend's event is their way of giving back to the community. She explains they will be hosting Karlie Lamar with the Dr. John Warner Hospital at the Warner Public Library.

 

 

The seminar is Saturday in the Warner Public Library's second floor beginning at 10:30 am.

 

Nelson indicates the event is open to the public and free of charge. For more information, contact Nelson at 217-519-4332. 

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Clinton Rotary's Annual Alumni Game Set For End of the Month

A spring time tradition that spans better than 25 years in Clinton is set for the end of the month.

 

The annual Clinton Rotary Alumni basketball game is set for Saturday, March 26 with a men's and women's game. Terry Ijams has been the coordinator of the event for the entirety of the event and says each year, they do this to benefit DeWitt County Habitat For Humanity.

 

 

The alumni game has largely been consistent over many years but Ijams notes they added a women's game a number of years ago which increased participation and turnout. He also notes they have changed the requirements for alumni to participate.

 

Ijams indicates this years rosters for the men's and women's games include recent graduates of Clinton High School and athletes from memorable teams in the school's history.

 

 

This year's alumni basketball game is set for Saturday March 26 with the tip for the first game of 6:30 pm and the second game to follow, following some entertainment provided by youth at the Clinton YMCA.

 

For more information or tickets on the alumni game, contact any Rotarian.

 

If you can't be at the game at the end of the month, listen to live coverage from the games on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Five Tornadoes Confirmed From Tuesday Storms

Storms that moved across western and central Illinois earlier this week spawned at least five tornadoes.
 
The National Weather Service says its damage surveys show tornadoes touched down Tuesday evening near Curran, Good Hope, Kickapoo and Trivoli, Moline and Peoria. The storms passed through the state around the time that polls were closing in the Illinois primary election.
 
Weather service forecasters say hail was common and they had nearly 60 reports of quarter-size hail or larger. The tornadoes brought wind speeds of up to 130 mph in some areas.
 
Authorities in Rock Island County say the tornado there sent ten people to hospitals but none had life-threatening injuries. About 40 homes were damaged.
 
In the Springfield area a couple and their 1-year-old son escaped when a tornado destroyed their home.

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Local MS Group Now Incorporated

After 15 years of community minded existence, a local group recently received their incorporate accreditation.
 
President of the group MS Talk, INC, Paula Nelson explains they started out as a small group to help individuals with multiple sclerosis, or MS, and thanks to success of their efforts, they recently took care of everything to be considered incorporated.
 
According to Nelson, the goal of their group is to help better the lives of those who have MS. She says they do this through providing gas cards for travel or by providing canes or wheelchairs.
 
 
For a small town, there seems to be a lot of people who have MS and Nelson says she can't pinpoint a reason for that. She also believes there are a lot more people in Clinton and DeWitt County that have MS but don't come out for their events and aren't a part of their group.
 
Nelson indicates they'd like to do more outreach for the community on healthy dieting and eating. This Saturday at the Warner Public Library, MS Talk, Inc. will be hosting a discussion with Karlie Lamar.
 
We'll have more on the event Friday on Regional Radio News. 

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Authorities Beefing Up Patrols For St. Patrick's Day

STATE AND LOCAL POLICE ARE GEARING UP FOR THEIR ANNUAL ST. PATRICK’S DAY TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CAMPAIGN.
 
ST. PATRICK’S DAY FESTIVITIES OFTEN INCLUDE ALL DAY DRINKING EVENTS, PARADES AND PARTIES…SO COPS ARE BEEFING UP PATROLS AND HOLDING ROADSIDE SAFETY CHECKS SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SPOKESPERSON GIANNA URGO.
 
THE ST. PATRICK’S ENFORCEMENT RUNS THROUGH THE WEEKEND AFTER MARCH 17TH.
 
NINE PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES IN ST. PATRICK’S DAY CAR CRASHES OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE ACCIDENTS IN THE DAYS LEADING UP TO MARCH 17TH.

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Congressman Davis Wins; Touts Trump Push For Voter Turnout

Congressman Rodney Davis easily won the Republican primary in the 13th congressional district for the second time. 
 
Davis says you can thank the Presidential race for much higher than normal voter turnout in this March primary. He calls Donald Trump the clear front runner for the nomination but he can’t find the so called republican establishment that some think could otherwise control the primary process. 
 
Davis adds Trump has clearly tapped into vote dissent.
 
 
Last night Davis spent his first election night in Washington D.C. Congress is in session this week.

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Some Good, Some Bad in Illinois Job Growth

REVISED STATISTICS FROM THE U-S BUREAU OF LABOR INCLUDE SOME GOOD NEWS AND SOME BAD NEWS FOR ILLINOIS. 
 
ON THE DOWNSIDE SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ANALYST EVELINA LOESCHER…JOB GROWTH WAS SLUGGISH.
 
 
ON THE POSITIVE SIDE…THE NEW DATA SHOWS ILLINOIS GAINED NEARLY 53 THOUSAND JOBS LAST YEAR. THAT’S UP FROM THE LOSS OF THREE THOUSAND JOBS LOST REPORTED PREVIOUSLY. 
 
38 OTHER STATES EXPERIENCED FASTER JOB GROWTH THAN ILLINOIS.

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U of I Springfield To Add Student Union

University of Illinois trustees have approved a plan to build the first student union at the school's Springfield campus.
 
Trustees on Wednesday awarded a contract to a Peoria company that will be the general contractor on the $21.7 million project.
 
The planned two-story, 50,000 square-foot union is expected to be completed in January 2018. Construction is expected to start in May.
 
The University of Illinois-Springfield has raised more than $5.3 million in donations for the project and plans to raise another $1.7 million. The remaining $13.7 million will be covered by campus funds and a student fee.

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Monticello Schools To Take A Pause After Second Failed Schools Referendum

A second referendum in Monticello failed Tuesday night, this time the question proposed funds for a new high school facility.

 

Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman explains while the decision from the community is disappointing, he feels the community still supports the school system.

 

 

The voter turnout was much bigger for this vote compared to the last referendum. Dr. Zimmerman feels there was not much more that could have been done to inform the public.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman says the next board meeting for the Monticello Board of Education is March 30 and he doesn't anticipate much discussion on a facilities plan moving forward.

 

He says because of this being in the spotlight for the last four years, he anticipates a time of rest from the topic.

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Clinton Schools Leader Reacts to Tax Refendum Failure

The Tuesday night tax referendum for county schools failed for a second time in DeWitt County.

 

Wednesday, the leader of the Clinton School District, Curt Nettles says the voters spoke and that is the way it should work. He points out the vote margin was nearly identical to the last vote.

 

 

It was late last year the School Board approved the referendum for the March primary and Nettles feels everyone likely voted the same as two years ago. He felt the material and message was still fresh in the public's mind.

 

 

The sales tax referendum in other counties in Illinois has taken up to three tries by a school board before it has passed and Nettles says that is encouraging from his perspective but notes the school board has not discussed if they will pursue the tax again.

 

 

Nettles spoke with several community groups leading up to the election. He indicates while he did not receive a lot of negative feedback on the topic, there were those that did say they did not support it. He felt most everyone voted this time around as they did the last time, with evidence in the vote tallies. 

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Lincoln Group Offering Safe Rides for St. Patrick's Day Celebrators

For St. Patrick's Day 2016, a Lincoln group is providing those who will be out on the town an opportunity to get home safely.

 

For St. Patrick's  March 17, free rides home will be available to those who need it through Healthy Communities Partnership’s Safe Ride program. Safe Ride is a free ride home from Lincoln drinking establishments and is sponsored by the Healthy Communities Partnership.

 

Director Angela Stoltzenburg says their hope is that the community will remember the service is available and that bartenders will suggest it when necessary.

 

To get a safe ride home, participants just request a Safe Ride ticket from the bartender and receive a free ride home and the bartenders will call the cab company.

 

For more information check out the Healthy Communities Partnership on Facebook, follow them on Twitter by searching the handle, @HealthyCP. You can also visit www.healthycommunitiespartnership.com or call 217-605-5008.

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Mild Weather To Continue

As we pass the midpoint of March, relatively mild weather is continuing. January and February both set records, worldwide, as the warmest January and February on record.

 

While we didn’t set many records in Illinois, the past winter has been on the mild side, and that trend has continued into March.

 

Eric Schmidt of EJS weather in Newton, Il says the mild temperatures will continue. Even better, with soils fairly saturated with moisture, Schmidt expects normal to below normal rainfall for the next few weeks leading up to planting season.

 

 

Schmidt says we can thank the persistent El Nino for the mild weather.

 

 

Eric Schmidt of EJS Weather.

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DeWitt County Schools, Wapella Tax Referendums Fail; Van Valey Wins Circuit Clerk

Two tax refendums failed and a new Circuit Clerk was voted on Tuesday night to run in the general election in November, as a part of the local races in the Illinois primary.

 

Michelle Van Valey is the winner of the DeWitt County Circuit Clerks race, defeating incumbent Pam Barnes, 19-12 to 1769.

 

Van Valey appreciates all the support she received from voters and those who helped her campaign.

 

 

Van Valey says her first order of business is to provide stability to the office. She indicates she'd like to keep the employees of the office on when she takes over.

 

 

Currently working in the State's Attorney's office, Van Valey explains the role of the Circuit Clerk is to work together with almost every office in the County Building.

 

 

The DeWitt County Schools sales tax referendum failed on a preliminary vote of 2753 to 2304, or 54% to 46%.

 

The Village of Wapella's tax proposal failed 87-53.

 

The Farmer City Fire Protection District's tax proposal overwhelmingly passed, 794-173, or 82% to 18%.

 

Additionally, the turnout for this year's election was well above average. County Clerk Dana Smith indicates the 43% turnout far exceeded what she thought they would reach. She indicates whenever there is a presidential race involved in the vote, the turnout usually increases.

 

She also indicates the vote tallies are not official yet because there are absentee ballots to be counted, and those will become final in two weeks.

 

In non-contested races from Tuesday's primary:

 

The State's Attorney's office had one filing, and that was incumbent Republican Dan Markwell.

 

County Treasurer, Gloria Wills was the only candidate as a Republican.

 

Coroner Randy Rice will be unopposed in the November general election as a Republican.

 

In County Board District A, the November ballot will include incumbent Republican Cole Ritter, Democrat incumbent Camille Redman, and Democrat Lance Reece.

 

In County Board District C, the November ballot will include incumbent Republican David Newberg, who is the board chair, along with Republican Jay Wickenhauser and Democrat Scott Nimmo.

 

Karle Koritz will be the Republican candidate for Sixth Circuit Judge. 

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Authorities Reminding Residents To Lock Vehicles This Spring

It's a warning local authorities issue every single year, and still it goes unheard too often.

Locking your vehicles at night.

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says it never fails, when the spring arrives, and it appears to have arrived in central Illinois, the amount of foot traffic directly correlates to the amount of vehicle burglaries they experience.

 

 

If you do not have a garage or somewhere secure to park your vehicle, Chief Lowers encourages parking in a well lit area if possible. He says doing simple things can keep yourself from becoming victim to a crime that is very preventable.

 

 

According to Chief Lowers, often times they receive a call from those that have fallen victim to car burglaries, however, they often do not hear from victims because they believe nothing was removed from their cars. The Chief says in that scenario, they still want to hear from you.

 

 

Chief Lowers explains in some scenarios, they are able to recover valuables stolen out of cars and get them returned.

 

He also notes it is very infrequent a burglar will harm a vehicle to get in, rather, they stroll the streets looking for unlocked cars.

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Bloomington Grave Sites Need Repaired After Trump Rally

Dozens of volunteers, led by off-duty firefighters, spent several hours on Sunday repairing headstones and the grounds at East Lawn Cemetery in Bloomington which were damaged by the overflow parking for a Donald Trump rally.

 

President of the Bloomington firefighters union John Meckley says he's not sure how people couldn't have seen they were parking in a cemetery even though the gravestones are all ground level.

 

 

Meckely estimates at least a dozen of the headstones were damaged. Parking on Central Illinois Regional Airport property had become full before the rally even started. 

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Voters Face Tax Questions

Illinois voters will see more than a hundred different tax hike proposals on the ballot.

Andrew Nelms with Americans for Prosperity in Illinois says dozens of school districts, cities, and smaller governments are asking voters to approve tax hikes.

 

 

Nelms adds voters will once against be asked to create or expand taxes at the local level.

 

 

Nelms says Illinois' taxpayers now pay more for local property taxes than they pay for state income taxes. And he says many of the questions next week aren't getting much attention. 

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Clinton Save-A-Lot Holds Ground Breaking At New Location

 

The ground was turned this morning at the new location of Clinton Save-A-Lot at Washington and Monroe Streets in Clinton.  Participating in the ground breaking ceremony was, from the left:  Justin Fentress, Vice President, DeWitt Savings Bank; Steve Klobe, district manager, Save-A-Lot; Dave Waters, owner, Waters Construction and general contractor for the project; Clinton Save-A-Lot owner Dave Jackson; Clinton mayor Roger Cyrulik; Clinton city administrator Tim Followell;  and Lance White, commercial loan officer at the State Bank of Lincoln in Clinton.

Photo courtesy EMC Photography.

 

Ground breaking took place this morning at the corner of Washington and Monroe Streets in Clinton, for the new location of the Clinton Save-A-Lot.

 

Owner Dave Jackson has operated the local Save-A-Lot from its present location on North Center street just north of the square, for the past 17 years.

 

Jackson told Regional Radio News it's been a grueling process to get to this point.

 

 

Jackson says the new building will be 60-percent larger than their present location.

 

 

Jackson says the project will be using a local general contractor, and the majority of the sub-contractors will also be local.

 

 

The new Clinton Save-A-Lot is being financed by 2 local banks.

 

 

Lance White, a commercial loan officer at the State Bank of Lincoln in Clinton, told Regional Radio News they were pleased to be a part of the financing of the new Clinton Save-A-Lot.

 

 

Justin Fentress, Vice President at DeWitt Savings Bank in Clinton, said their bank is also happy to be a part of financing the local Save-A-Lot project.

 

 

The Jackson family have had various businesses in the Clinton community, for many decades. 

Dave's father Don was honored by being one of those participating in the Monday ground breaking at the new Save-A-Lot location.  Jackson also had many of his Save-A-Lot staff be a part of the ceremony.

Photo by EMC Photography.

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DeWitt County Circuit Clerks Race Heating Up

The war of words between various parties involved in the DeWitt County Circuit Clerk's race for tomorrow has heated up as various sides have taken to DeWittDailyNews.com's Letter to the Editor.

 

Incumbent Pam Barnes feels she has done a lot of good things for the County in recent years. She points to recovering money for the County and switching their collection agency from an out of state firm to a firm in Illinois.

 

 

For Barnes, a lot of the criticism she is getting on social media and at dewittdailynews.com is not a reflection of the good things she's done in her office.

 

 

Michelle Van Valey is challenging Barnes in Tuesday's election and says she won't address what has been posted to social media or DeWittDailyNews.com, but says there is a consistency in the concerns raised by her supporters, and she is vowing to bring consistency to the office.

 

 

Van Valey feels she is qualified for the office of Circuit Clerk. She vowes to bring professionalism and respect to the office.

 

 

Barnes calls the next four years very important for the Circuit Clerks office. She explains there is mandate from Springfield to convert the entire filing system to electronic records.

 

 

Van Valey says if she is elected, she would seek out training for herself.

 

Barnes says if re-elected, she would continue to seek out unpaid citations, which currently is at around $3-million.

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National Weather Service Calls Soil Conditions Favorable

March has arrived and area farmers and producers are looking ahead to spring planting season.

Chris Miller is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln and he says after some significant winter precipitation--soil conditions in the Prairie State are looking good.

 

 

But Miller says we aren't out of the woods just yet: extended forecast models show the possibility of lower than normal precipitation once planting time arrives this spring.

 

 

Chris Miller with the National Weather Service. 

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Trump Central Illinois Rallies Peaceful

Police escorted protestors out of Donald Trump's Bloomington rally six times yesterday, but even with the disruptions the fly-in to the twin cities went smoothly.

 

Trump brought out supporters from across central Illinois, including Laura Neil from Peoria.

 

 

Trump rallied the faithful with his talk of building a wall, bringing back jobs, and once again 'winning.' Police are not reporting any arrests or incidents.
 

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Spring Break Travelers Need To Be Aware of Zika Virus

YOU DON’T NEED TO CANCEL YOUR PLANS, BUT THOSE TRAVELING OVER SPRING BRING SHOULD BE AWARE OF THE ZIKA VIRUS.

 

THE ZIKA VIRUS IS TRANSMITTED THROUGH THE BITE OF AN INFECTED MOSQUITO. SYMPTOMS ARE USUALLY MILD IF THEY SHOW UP AT ALL AND INCLUDE A FEVER, RASH AND JOINT PAIN. THE VIRUS IS DANGEROUS FOR PREGNANT WOMEN, SINCE IT CAN CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NIRAV SHAH.

 

 

SHAH ADDS THOSE NOT IN THAT SITUATION NEED TO TAKE STEPS TO PREVENT INFECTION.

 

 

SO FAR…THERE HAVE BEEN SEVEN CONFIRMED CASES OF THE ZIKA VIRUS IN ILLINOIS. ALL THE PATIENTS HAD TRAVELED TO AREAS WHERE THE VIRUS IS PREVALENT.

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OCHI Helps Patients Navigate Through Mental Health Coverage

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE IS REMINDING THERE IS HELP AVAILABLE FOR PATIENTS NEEDING MENTAL HEALTH CARE.

 

THE AGENCY’S OFFICE OF CONSUMER HEALTH INSURANCE, OR “OCHI” IS A GREAT RESOURCE FOR PATIENTS WINDING THEIR WAY THROUGH THE OFTEN COMPLEX INSURANCE SYSTEM SAYS DIRECTOR ANNE DOWLING.

 

 

DOWLING SAYS THE AGENCY’S OFFICE OF CONSUMER HEALTH AND INSURANCE, OR “OCHI” HAS TRAINED STAFF TO GUIDE PATIENTS THROUGH THEIR COVERAGE OPTIONS, AND HELP ASSIST WITH APPEALS AND COMPLAINTS.

 

 

DOWLING SAYS FINDING MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE COVERAGE CAN BE ESPECIALLY CONFUSING. SHE SUGGESTS CALLING THE OFFICE FOR EXPLANATIONS ON COVERAGE AND TO HELP FILE APPEALS OR COMPLAINTS. THE OCHI TOLL FREE NUMBER IS 1-877-527-9431.

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Legislation Would Eliminate Tax on Feminine Products

LEGISLATION PENDING IN THE STATE SENATE LIFTS THE SALES TAX ON FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY SENATOR MELINDA BUSH OF GRAYSLAKE, AND REMOVES THE SIX AND A QUARTER PERCENT STATE SALES TAX ON THESE ITEMS.

 

 

BUSH ADDS THIS WILL ALSO HELP SENIORS BY EXEMPTING INCONTINENCE PRODUCTS AS WELL.

 

 

THE BILL PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE, ALTHOUGH LAWMAKERS ARE LOOKING INTO THE CHANGE CAN BE MADE VIA RULE INSTEAD OF PASSING A NEW STATE LAW.

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Daylight Saving Begins Sunday Morning

Daylight Savings is here once again which means it's time to spring those clocks forward Sunday morning at 2 am.

 

While that means one less hour of potential sleep on Saturday night, we're also in line to see an extra hour of sunlight at night.

 

Only Arizona and Hawaii do not practice daylight savings time, however, a dozen states are considering joining them.

 

Regardless, Illinois still observes daylight savings and again, this Sunday morning, we spring those clocks forward one hour.

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DeWitt County Friendship Center's Ham n' Bean Supper Huge Success

Just over $8-thousand is the final tally from a fundraiser last weekend in DeWitt County for a group aimed at providing a safe haven for seniors.

 

The DeWitt County Friendship Center's Ham and Bean Supper raised just over $8-thousand last weekend and Executive Director Sissy Leggett says it was a packed house Saturday night at their facility on Main Street.

 

 

Because the fundraiser was so succesful this year, Leggett indicates they will likely target some projects within the center that need to be addressed.

 

 

Leggett thanks Lance Schmid of Schmid Auctions for donating his time and services. She also appreciates those that donated baked goods for their auction and those that came out last Saturday to support their efforts in the community. 

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Weekly Weather Update

Expect a weekend with above average temperatures. State Climotologist Jim Angel says expect the same for next week, along with chances for severe weather.

 

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Central Illinois McDonald's Raise Record Amount During 'Give a Little Love' Campaign

Central Illinois McDonald’s restaurants raised a record amount this year during their annual “Give a Little Love” campaign.

 

From February 2nd through the 25th, the Central Illinois McDonald’s raised over $245,000 to help Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois (RMHCCI) continue their mission of keeping families close thanks to customers and owners.

 

The effort benefits the local charity which provides a home away from home for families of critically ill children receiving treatment at Springfield-area medical facilities.


Local McDonald's owner Jack Mill Millan said quote-“Thank you to all of our wonderful customers for supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois. We are so excited that we were able to have another record setting year, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible community support. It is essential to keep the house running smoothly for all of these families.”

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Congressman Davis Disappointed With FEMA Decision

Congressman Rodney Davis is blasting the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to reject disaster aid for 21 Illinois counties impacted by winter flooding.

 

 

The legislation Davis is referring to, the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act, passed the House unanimously last week.

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[Updated] Clinton Man Shot Dead By Police

On March 11, 2016 Clinton Police Officers responded to 101 E Benton Street in Clinton, IL. after a despondent 46 year old man called authorities to report that he was suicidal and armed. Officers arrived to find a lone male in front of the residence armed with a large butcher knife and a club.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff’s Deputies and Clinton Police Officers attempted to de-escalate the situation for several minutes. The subject told officers that he had taken measures to ensure that non-lethal force would not be effective, and that he would make officers shoot him.


While attempting to de-escalate the situation and the despite pleas from officers, the subject advanced on them while raising the large butcher knife. Two Clinton Police Officers and one DeWitt County Sheriff’s Deputy fired their weapons simultaneously to stop the armed subject. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


Pursuant to established protocol, the incident is being investigated by the Illinois State Police and the DeWitt County Coroners Office.

 

Dewitt Couty Coroner Randy J. Rice and Illinois State Police have identified the 46 year old male as Jack Goodman of Clinton, Illinois. An autopsy will be scheduled

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Congressman Davis Imploring Farmers To Be Educators on GMO Issue

Congressman Rodney Davis is calling on Illinois farmers to be a voice of education when it comes to informing the public about Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs.

 

 

The Congressman says this is an issue not a lot of people are well informed on and credits Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack for his diligence in educating national lawmakers.

 

 

Congressman Davis is calling on farmers to be educators of the public when it comes to GMO labeling and explaining if it weren't for GMOs, the amount of food that is produced would be significantly less.

 

 

Congressman Davis says GMO labeling is just one of many issues facing Illinois farmers he talks with. He indicates their biggest concern right now is the regulations in place by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

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Illinois Manufacturers Want Tax Certainty

Illinois' manufacturers want some certainty. Mark Denzler with the IMA says big companies are looking for a set of rules that don't change with the wind, which is why the group is pushing four tax exemptions at the Capitol.

Denzler says the biggest, the research and development grant, is worth big money to companies in the state but has expired four times over the past 13 years.

The IMA is also asking for certainty on exemptions for graphic arts and coal mining. 

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Universities Give Bleak Outlooks

It was stark conversation on Thursday at the Illinois Capitol from University Presidents from around Illinois.

 

Top level administration staff presented to a Senate Appropriations committee about the year they have spent without state dollars and the prospects of a FY 17 budget that shows more and deeper cuts.

 

David Glassman the President of Eastern Illinois blankly wondered what the end-game was for the state and budget when cutting higher ed funding. As EIU faces another proposed cut of $40 million Glassman says it’s not a trivial amount of money but a small sum that is well spent.

 

 

Southern Illinois University is warning of more than 300 layoffs around its 3 campuses if budgets aren’t filled again with state dollars. Their President Randy Dunn says that they are confident the school isn’t going anywhere but he notes perspective students and parents aren’t so sure.

 

 

Glassman says that without a clear path for funding he spends time everyday answering questions from parents and current and prospective students about concerns about the viability of the university and certain programs moving forward.

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Sen. Rose, EPA Come To Agreements on Area Landfills Over Mahomet Aquifer

Just a few short weeks ago, State Sen. Chapin Rose discussed bills he is introducing to have the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency take control in the effort to protect the Mahomet Aquifer.

 

Today (Thursday), Sen. Rose announced several agreements by the EPA. The first calls for regular testing of landfills that are on top of the Mahomet Aquifer.

 

 

The other agreement addresses old dumps that are either closed or were put up before modern design standards were introduced. Sen. Rose says this agreement puts together a list of those and gives residents information on those old landfills.

 

 

Sen. Rose credits the Illinois EPA for coming to him and building on the efforts he was making. He credits the change in administration in Springfield and the Governor for a change from the EPA.

 

 

Sen. Rose feels the legislation and agreement is going to bring more science to the discussion and less emotion be a part of the process.

 

 

Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett said quote -“Illinois is pleased to work with Senator Rose to demonstrate the benefits of cooperation for a common goal. Performing enhanced monitoring and sharing of the data will ensure the long-term protection and health of this important sole source aquifer.”

 

As a part of the agreement, the samples will be collected at least four times a year for three years starting this year, 2016 and last until 2018. The findings will also be published to the Illinois EPA website.

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Lincoln Superintendent Reacts To State's New Pension Proposal

A proposal in the Illinois legislature would drastically change the pension payouts to retirees.

 

The plan essentially gives retirees the option of taking a lump sum payment upon retirement. According to Superintendent of Lincoln High School, Robert Bagby, it is interesting to him the people who created the pension mess are now the ones making this proposal.

 

 

For Bagby, the option could be a benefit for someone who handles their finances really well. For him, he feels it would take a lot of hard thought.

 

 

Bagby also points out, later this year, the early retirement option for teachers expires in the Illinois legislature. He believes the state might have to renew it because it will cost the state too much money not to.

 

 

Bagby believes this proposal won't have a big impact on Lincoln High School but predicts eventually the state shifting the cost of the teacher retirement system to local taxpayers. 

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EPA Regulations Hot Topic At Recent Toolshed Meetings

Over regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency was the hot topic at a recent gathering of central Illinois farmers in Oreana.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis came out for one of three tool shed meetings in Oreana earlier this week and says what he heard most was farmers concerns about the overbearing nature of the EPA.

 

 

Congressman Davis explains they have been unable to stop President Obama's approach with the EPA but indicates they've taken a couple measures to cut down on the overreach they're seeing.

 

 

While it has been difficult to find common ground with the President and the EPA over ag policy, Congressman Davis credits Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack for being a voice of reason.

 

 

Davis indicates there are still toolshed meetings set for Christian County and Jersey County before he goes back to Washington, DC next week. 

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Palpable Buzz Around Lovie Smith Hire

It's been a while since Illini football has generated this much buzz but the hire of former Bears Super Bowl coach Love Smith as head football coach has led to more phone ringing at the ticket office.

Illini basketball legend and Assistant to the Athletic Director Dee Brown said Lovie made quite a splash on campus.

 

 

The Illini have reported a spike in ticket sales for this year's football squad.

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Fantasy Leagues Say Regulations Will Help Growth

Fantasy sports leagues says new regulations, like the ones being proposed in Springfield, will actually help.

 

Peter Schoenke [[ SHANK-ee ]] with the Fantasy Sports Trades Association says while cynics look at Illinois' regulations as a cash-grab, he hopes the legal frame work will bring-in more players.

 

 

Schoenke says people should be too cynical about Illinois' new regulations.

 

 

The proposed rules include a minimum age of 18, and a new requirement for responsible gaming warnings.

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Second Year of PARCC Tests Underway

THE SECOND YEAR OF PARCC TESTING IS NOW UNDERWAY IN ILLINOIS SCHOOLS.

 

MANY SCHOOLS ARE KICKING OFF THE TESTING PERIOD FOR THE CONTROVERSIAL EXAM. IT TESTS KIDS IN ENGLISH, LANGUAGE ARTS AND MATH…AND IS DESIGNED TO SEE HOW WELL KIDS ARE PROGRESSING. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION SPOKESPERSON LAINE (lane) EVANS SAYS THEY’VE MADE SOME CHANGES BASED ON FEEDBACK, LIKE HAVING JUST ONE WINDOW FROM NOW UNTIL JUNE 10TH FOR SCHOOLS TO GET THE TEST DONE.

 

 

LAINE (lane) EVANS SAYS THEY HAVE MADE SOME OTHER CHANGES.

 

 

ABOUT 85 PERCENT OF THIRD THROUGH EIGHTH GRADERS AND SOME HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE EXPECTED TO TAKE THE PARCC TEST ONLINE. LAST YEAR 75 PERCENT COMPLETED THE EXAM ONLINE.

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After Five Years Without Death Penalty, Lawmakers Still Question Decision

WEDNESDAY MARKED THE FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE PUSH TO END CAPITAL PUNISHMENT WAS LED IN PART BY SENATOR KWAME RAOUL OF CHICAGO, WHO SAID THE CHANCE OF EXECUTING SOMEONE INNOCENT WAS TOO GREAT. SPEAKIGN NOW, HE SAYS THE DEATH PENALTY DID LITTLE TO CURB BRUTAL CRIMES IN ILLINOIS.

 

 

ENATOR BILL HAINE OF ALTON SAYS THERE STILL CRIMES BEING COMMITTED THAT DESERVE THE SENTENCE OF DEATH.

 

 

ILLINOIS IS AMONG 19 STATES THAT DO NOT HAVE THE DEATH PENALTY.

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Crowne Realty Opens Satellite Office in Clinton

A Bloomington real estate company has expanded into DeWitt County.  Crowne Realty has opened a satellite office in the former Sandy Thayer Real Estate office on the east side of the Clinton square.

Tammy Carcasson is co-owner of Crowne Realty and told Regional Radio News that the firm wanted to expand into a broader area outside of McLean County.

Carcasson added that their company's slogan is “I'm Local, I'm Global.”

Chad Evans of Clinton joined the Crowne Realty sales team last November, after 3 years at another Clinton real estate firm.  He'll be manning the Clinton office and told Regional Radio News that he was impressed with Crowne's increased use of technology and training in the real estate industry.

Crowne Realty in Clinton has scheduled a Grand Opening for April First from 4 til 7 in the afternoon, at their new location on the east side of Mister Lincoln's Square.

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Community Group Seeks City Assistance For 4th of July

It's still seven months away, but the community based organization that hosts events downtown on the 4th of July will be taking on organizing the fireworks display this year.

 

That is why representatives from the Celebrate Clinton Association, CCA, were in search of assistance from the City of Clinton. Sissy Leggett with CCA says they host a long list of events on the square, and now they are taking on putting on the fireworks display for the Fourth of July night.

 

 

Helen Michaelassi with CCA says the group is hoping for some financial assistance from the City Council, as the two spoke before the Council Monday night. She  explains they are hoping the Council could provide financial support, but also helping them coordinate and host the Fourth of July celebration.

 

 

Michaelassi says the Fourth of July is an inexpensive opportunity for the community to have a good time.

 

The Council was non-committal to agreeing to a specific amount of money for the CCA, however, as the budgeting process begins to wind down for the City, they have a portion of their budget for promotions, which in the past has been used to donate to the fireworks fund.

 

Michaelassi notes, they came to the Council because raising several thousands of dollars is going to be quite the challenge for the organization. 

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New Social Security Feature To Help You Find Information Quicker

If you're online searching for the answer to a question but having trouble, a new feature might just help you get the answer quicker.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security says they've revamped their website once again to include a "dynamic help" feature. Myers explains this feature will display information that is similar to the page you're on.

 

 

Myers also indicates if you can't find what you're looking for, there is now a feature that will pop up at the Social Security website, and it will ask if you'd like to speak to a Social Security representative. They will call you within 30 minutes.

 

 

People between 60 and 69 make up the largest percentage of the My Social Security customers online. Myers says while that is not surprising, he feels it disproves the myth that only millennials use online for their information.

 

 

The Social Security website is www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

Myers stresses to make sure you use dot-gov in your URL and not dot-com. 

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Rauner Blasts Legislators For Not Meeting in March

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS URGING THE ILLINOIS HOUSE TO RETURN TO SPRINGFIELD AND CONTINUE NEGOTIATING.

 

THE HOUSE ADJOURNED LAST WEEK AND ISN’T SCHEDULED TO BE BACK IN SESSION UNTIL THE BEGINNING OF APRIL. GOVERNOR RAUNER CALLS THAT MONTH LONG BREAK “OUTRAGEOUS.”

 

 

GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS THAT'S A DERELICTION OF DUTY.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR IS ALSO CALLING ON THE SENATE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH PENSION REFORM AND EDUCATION FUNDING LEGISLATION.

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Maroon Madness Event One of the Biggest

It was close to a record event for the annual Maroon Madness event this year.

 

The event benefits the Clinton athletic programs. Brian Ennis, President of the Clinton Athletic Boosters, who hosts the event, says they earmark the money to be designated for the athletic programs in the entire district.

 

 

Ennis indicates this will likely be the second most attended Maroon Madness event they've held. Because of the that, he expects their net proceeds to be towards the top of what they have grossed.

 

 

The event is basically a reverse raffle. Ennis says they provide food and drinks for those in attendance and they will give away money and prizes throughout the night.

 

 

Ennis thanks everyone that came out to support the student athletes of the Clinton School district.

The athletic booster club supports the sports programs all across the district, not just the high school.

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Blue Ridge Schools Leader Discusses Upcoming Sales Tax Referendum

With a week to the primary election in DeWitt County, one school district that would benefit from a referendum item says their communities are pretty well aware of what it is all about.

 

For Blue Ridge schools, their district spans three counties and for Superintendent of Blue Ridge Schools, Susan Wilson, the district has been through this process several times and they've maintained their goals as they prepare for it.

 

 

The measure has passed in Piatt County, which is one of the three counties Blue Ridge's district falls under. Wilson indicates they hope to provide their tax payers with relief from their annual levies.

 

 

Wilson has done a number of speaking engagements this week but feels the community is well aware of the sales tax and what it is all about. Because of that, they have done a limited amount of campaigning on the issue. 

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House Out Until April

If you're looking for your Illinois State Representative don't look in Springfield. Illinois State Senator Bill Brady says the house won't return to the state capitol until after April. The session ends May 31st.

 

Brady says we are no closer to a state budget than we were a year ago and that's causing pain across the state.

 

 

Brady says his colleagues in the house will not be back until after April.

 

 

Brady is advocating for a property tax freeze, but municipalities will have to find money somewhere. Brady thinks the long break is irresponsible.

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House Ag Committee Chair Stumps For Candidates

The chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the U-S House of Representatives spent time traveling across the state Monday stumping for some congressional candidates ahead of next week’s Illinois Primary.

 

Texas Representative Mike Conaway has some Illinoisans he’d like to see returned to the Congress, he’s reserving any endorsement on which Republican should be his party’s candidate for the White House.

 

 

While not indicating a presidential preference at this time, Conaway did say he will support the Republican Party’s nominee once that’s determined at the party’s convention next summer in Cleveland.

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Local Resident Honored for Heroism

An act of bravery by a Clinton man was recognized Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting.

 

Picture: (Left to Right) Police Chief Ben Lowers, Jake Monkman, Sgt. Jerry Causer, Fire Chief David Dallas

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers presented Clinton's Jake Monkman with their Citizens Service Award for his actions on the morning of Sunday, February 28.

 

 

Commissioner Danny Ballenger was in attendance of the fire and says Monkman's actions were the difference in that circumstance.

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DeWitt County Sheriff: Heroin Epidemic Growing Locally

The use of heroin is beginning to make its way from the larger areas of the country and are starting to impacting communities like Clinton.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner indicates the epidemic is as bad as he's seen in his time in DeWitt County.

 

 

The Sheriff indicates the issue presented with heroin is that it is becoming more potent and at the same time it is becoming more inexpensive.

 

 

The drug is taking it's toll on the community. Sheriff Shofner indicates one day a person may get a batch that won't kill them but that doesn't mean the next one won't.

 

 

According to Sheriff Shofner, an individual's need for heroin most often stems from their use of other stimulants that they have lost access to, so they are turning to heroin.

 

 

The Sheriff's message is still up today at dewittdailynews.com. He outlines further information about the epidemic in the County and what can be done to help those who may be struggling with this.

 

The Sheriff implores the public who knows anyone who is addicted or dealing or is involved in anyone to take action immediately.

 

Sheriff Shofner will join the WHOW morning show Thursday at 9 am to talk further about this problem locally. 

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DeWitt County High School Students Credited With Growth of Local Non Profit

The growth and increase in participation of a local non profit is due in part to the adolescent students of DeWitt County.

 

Big Brothers Big Sisters reports almost a doubling of the volunteers thanks in their organization, mainly in their school based program. Brie Weaver with Big Brothers Big Sisters says this is in large part due to the increased participation of high school students in the three main schools of the DeWitt County.

 

 

"Bigs", as they're referred to in the organization, are not discouraged from contacting a student's teacher to find out if their "little" needs academic help, but Weaver indicates sometimes just the "bigs" presence helps to keep a student in class and engaged.

 

 

Weaver explains they are most established in the Clinton Schools but now that they are in the Blue Ridge school district, their school based matches continue to rise.

 

 

Weaver says they ask the students to commit to a year of volunteering. She indicates they usually look towards to freshman and sophomore students.

 

For students that would like to get involved, there is someone in each district's building that takes care of coordinating volunteers. Weaver encourages students in each district to talk with the principals to get more information. 

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools To Start PARCC Testing This Week

One area school district will begin this year's round of the recently installed PARCC tests.

 

Warrensburg-Latham schools are going to be taking large chunks of time this week for their students to begin the yearly assessments. Superintendent Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle says the preparation for the tests starts well before they're administered.

 

 

Last year was the first year of PARCC testing and Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says even after a year of introduction, there are still some adjustments to make. She explains tests are very time consuming even before the test dates.

 

 

This year there were some adjustments to the tests. Dr. Kendrick-Weikle explains while the state reduced the test times from two sessions to one, however, they have increased the amount of time invested in the tests.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle calls the PARCC assessments an improvement over tests 10 years ago but says they are still not accurate to what students will do when they enter the workforce and how they could be applying the things they learned. 

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Sen. Brady Says Illinois Can't Afford More Empty Promises

Bill Brady says just because the state of Illinois has checks in the checkbook, it doesn't mean there's money in the bank.

 

The Republican Senator says it's unwise for Illinois to authorize MAP grants when the state doesn't have the money to pay for the scholarships.

 

 

Brady adds he understands a lack of MA grant money is painful for students and schools, but he says Illinois can't afford to lie to students either.

 

 

Brady says state government has to start doing the right thing some time. 

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Congressman Davis Reacts To FEMA Provision

It could soon be easier for smaller communities in Illinois like Kincaid to qualify for federal disaster relief after provisions to the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act unanimously passed through the U.S House of Representatives Monday.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis (R-13) sponsored the proposal that would require FEMA to give higher consideration to the local impact of natural disasters like the holiday floods that devastated the Kincaid community, rather than on a statewide level as is currently the case. Davis says the current formula has been, “flawed for years.”

 

 

The bill now heads to the Senate with bipartisan approval. 

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Criminal Justice Reforms Announced

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER AND A GROUP OF BIPARTISAN LAWMAKERS ARE PROPOSING LEGISLATION TO HELP REFORM THE STATE’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.
 
THE THREE BILLS AIM TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF OFFENDERS WHO END UP BACK IN JAIL AFTER RELEASE. GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS THE STATE NEEDS TO FOCUS ON REHABILITATION AND GETTING FORMER INMATES BACK ON TRACK AFTER THEY ARE RELEASED.
 
 
ONE IS SPONSORED BY SENATOR MICHAEL CONNELLY OF WHEATON AND REQUIRES JUDGES TO EXPLAIN WHY THEY ARE SENTENCING SOMEONE WITH NO PRIOR CONVICTIONS TO PRISON.
 
THE OTHER BILLS EXPAND THE USE OF ELECTRONIC MONITORING FOR PAROLEES AND PROVIDES STATE I-D CARDS TO HELP OFFENDERS GET A GOOD START UPON RELEASE.

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Weekend Looking Mild in Central Illinois

A mild weekend is on tap in Central Illinois. That's the message from State Climotologist Jim Angel, who says we could see an inch or two of rain next week.
 
Cut: wx 1:32 CUE: state climotologist

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Severe Weather Preparedness Week Highlighted By Radio Giveaway

IT’S SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS WEEK IN ILLINOIS AND THE STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY IS OFFERING A CHANCE TO WIN A WEATHER RADIO. 
 
ILLINOIS WEATHER CAN BE UNPREDICTABLE, SO YOU NEED TO BE READY FOR ANYTHING SAYS IEMA SPOKESPERSON PATTI THOMPSON. THAT INCLUDES PUTTING TOGETHER A DISASTER KIT AND A PLAN FOR YOUR FAMILY SHOULD BAD WEATHER HIT.
 
IEMA IS REALLY FOCUSING ON THE DANGERS OF FLOODING THIS YEAR, SINCE 14 PEOPLE IN ILLINOIS DIED IN FLOOD RELATED ACCIDENTS IN 2015. SPOKESPERSON PATTI THOMPSON SAYS THEY ARE ALSO STRESSING THE IMPORTANCE OF A HAVING A WEATHER RADIO AND ARE HOSTING A RADIO GIVEAWAY.
 
 
THE CONTEST RUNS THROUGH THE END OF MARCH. THAT WEBSITE AGAIN IS READY DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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Illinois Receives High Marks For Students Advance Placement Scores

ILLINOIS IS GETTING HIGH MARKS FOR THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS EARNING TOP SCORES ON ADVANCED PLACEMENT EXAMS. 
 
THE STATE IS RANKED 11TH IN THE NATION FOR THE PERCENTAGE OF HIGH SCHOOLERS EARNING A THREE OUT OF FIVE OR HIGHER ON THE TEST SAYS ILLINOIS BOARD OF EDUCATION SPOKESPERSON LAINE  EVANS.
 
 
MORE AND MORE ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOLERS ARE TAKING A-P EXAMS AND DOING WELL ON THEM.
 
 
A NEW STATE LAW REQUIRES ILLINOIS COLLEGES TO OFFER COLLEGE CREDIT TO STUDENTS EARNING AT LEAST A THREE ON THE EXAM. THE MOST POPULAR A-P EXAMS ARE ENGLISH, U-S HISTORY AND PSYCHOLOGY.

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Illinois Products Expo This Weekend

THE ILLINOIS PRODUCTS EXPO IS BEING HELD IN SPRINGFIELD THIS WEEKEND…SHOWCASING MORE THAN 70 FOOD COMPANIES FROM AROUND THE STATE. 
 
THE EXPO IS WAY TO HIGHLIGHT THE GROWING FOOD PRODUCTION INDUSTRY IN ILLINOIS SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK.
 
 
CLARK SAYS IT’S A GREAT WAY TO SHOW THE PUBLIC THE MANY FOOD PRODUCTS MADE RIGHT HERE IN ILLINOIS.
 
 
THE ILLINOIS PRODUCTS EXPO WILL BE OPEN SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AT THE ORR BUILDING ON THE STATE FAIRGROUNDS. ADMISSION IS FIVE DOLLARS PER PERSON AND KIDS 10 AND YOUNGER ARE FREE. FOOD SAMPLING IS FREE AND THERE IS A SMALL FEE TO TRY OUT ILLINOIS BEERS AND WINES.

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Farm Bureau Encouraging To Be Informed For Primary Election

The Illinois primary election is coming up on/next Tuesday, March 15. 
 
You probably know which party you will choose, and what candidate for president you will support when you go to the polls. But, in addition to president, you will need to select candidates for Senate, US house, state legislature and a host of judges, also county, and even township offices. 
 
It’s easy to be surprised by all the races on the ballot. Kevin Semlow, Director of State Legislation at Illinois Farm Bureau says you can start to inform yourself prior to voting by getting a sample ballot.
 
 
Once you have that ballot from the county clerk’s office, how do you determine the positions of all the candidates?
 
 
Again the Illinois Primary is March 15th. Be sure to vote…and be armed with information when casting your ballot.

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Sheriff Shofner: DeWitt County in Midst of Public Health Crisis

DeWitt County is the midst of a public health crisis that is destroying lives and devastating families.  Drug abuse, and particularly heroin, claims one life at a time.  We must realize that in order to turn the tide in this battle, our community must mobilize to save one life at a time.


You may be reading this and thinking that drug abuse has no chance of affecting you. You are wrong.  Heroin represents an evil force that threatens you and your family.  Many victims first become addicted in a place we all feel safe, with our own doctor.  Even though the medical need for opiates fades, the human desire does not.  Unable to renew prescriptions, opiate users will beg, borrow, and steal to satisfy the craving.


My 27 years of experience in local law enforcement, including 10 years as a full time narcotics officer, has taught me that the addict has almost zero chance of recovery if we simply arrest them and warehouse them in jail.   Law Enforcement certainly has a role curbing the supply, but true progress can only be made in the treatment centers, the living rooms, and the churches of our communities.  No government program will solve this.


Narcotics addiction is very hard to understand unless you have lived it.   I can honestly say it took me over a decade working with drug users to learn this simple truth:  Drugs like heroin re-wire the human brain.  A drug user does irrational things because their brain is no longer “normal”.


The hope lies in the fact that god gave our brains the ability to heal.  With prolonged recovery, the brain can restore itself.  They key is to get users into treatment before their addiction kills them, and to be fanatical about saving them.  Expect them to relapse.  It will happen time and time again.  This process will be maddening to those hoping for change.  This is a fight against evil forces.  It will not be quick or easy.


What can you do?  First of all, if you know someone battling addiction, do anything you can to get them into treatment.  You can either join the fight for their life, or prepare for their death.  As a community member, call local law enforcement if you have information about a drug dealer in your area.  Clinton Crimestoppers is 217-935-3333 and you do not have to give your name.  Local law enforcement wants to stop the supply, but we need community involvement to get that done.


This Wednesday morning,  I requested an emergency meeting with several county leaders to develop a strategy against  heroin.  My staff was joined by County Coroner Randy Rice,  State’s Attorney Dan Markwell, the Illinois State Police Task Force 6 Commander, , Clinton Police Chief Lowers,and  County Drug Court Probation Officers.  First Chirstian Church Minister Greg Taylor also joined the discussion.


We all heard direct testimony from a young widow that had lost her husband to drug abuse.  We were all moved by her story and left more determined than ever to continue this fight.
Just like you, we realize that we are fighting for one life at a time.


Sheriff Jered Shofner


  #notonemore

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Kenney Fire Department Hosting Blood Drive

Blood donors are invited to be a part of a first time blood drive hosted by the Kenney Fire Department.

 

Fritz Robinson with the Fire Department says this is something he and a few other firefighters in Kenney thought would be a good way to do some good. He says this is something they are bringing back after several years.

 

 

The blood drive is set for Good Friday, March 25 at the Kenney Fire Department. Troy Lashbrook says they are currently taking early bookings and if you haven't given blood before, or it has been a while, the Red Cross has a way to speed up your process of getting in to donate.

 

 

For further information or to sign up for a time slot to donate blood, contact Robinson at 217-620-5407 or Lashbrook at 563-321-0416.

 

Again the blood drive is March 25 at the Kenney Fire Department from 1 pm to 6 pm.

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DeWitt County Maintenance Crews Drawing Praise From Leaders

DeWitt County leaders are praising the work of the new DeWitt County maintenance director and his staff.

 

County Board member Cris Rogers says the work of Kevin Kemp and his staff in the maintenance department has saved the tax payers money. He points to recent work at Clinton Lake Marina the maintenance department has taken on that they didn't have to.

 

 

Additionally, smaller projects, like a leak in one of the walls of the County Building, are now being taken care of by the staff as well. Rogers says he has been really pleased with the things they are doing.

 

County Board Chair David Newberg says the reinstatement of the Committee system has stabilized the County Maintenance Department. Rogers credits the Board Chair does a great job of delegating the work needed to be done.

 

 

The Clinton Lake Marina continues to be a major focal point of the County Board, even after a recent effort to bring the Marina up to compliance with the American Disabilities act.

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Rep. Mitchell Fed Up With State Spending After Passage of Latest Bill

Speaker Madigan and his supermajority called two bills (SB 2990 and HB 648) Thursday afternoon which purported to be a compromise measure funding higher education and other services in Illinois.

 

The House voted 70-43 to approve the spending bill of $3.7 and 61-52 on a companion measure that would cancel a requirement that the state repay $454 million borrowed from special funds to plug holes in last year’s budget. During floor debate, State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) said residents of Illinois are tired of the dysfunction under the dome.

 

 

House Republicans argue that the measures will just add to the state’s ballooning backlog of unpaid bills.

 

Following the vote on these two bills, House Republicans made a motion for a vote to return to work on Friday in an attempt to negotiate on the state budget, but Democrat leadership ruled the motion out of order.  The Speaker then moved to adjourn until April 4th, a full month from today.

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House Joines Senate in Passing Union Arbitration Bill

THE ILLINOIS SENATE IS JOINING THE HOUSE IN PASSAGE OF A HOTLY DISPUTED UNION ARBITRATION BILL.

 

THE LEGISLATION SENDS STALLED CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS TO BINDING ARBITRATION AND IS HEAVILY BACKED BY THE STATE’S LARGEST EMPLOYEE UNION, AFSCME. AFSCME WORKERS HAVE BEEN WITHOUT A CONTRACT SINCE JULY FIRST. SENATOR DON HARMON OF OAK PARK IS SPONSORING THE LATEST ATTEMPT, EVEN THOUGH HE KNOWS IT MIGHT BE FUTILE.

 

 

SENATOR MATT MURPHY OF PALATINE SAYS THIS TAKES AWAY THE GOVERNOR’S POWER TO NEGOTIATE A FAIR DEAL LIKE HE HAS WITH OTHER GROUPS.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR HAS ALREADY VETOED AN IDENTICAL BILL AND HAS EXPRESSED HIS OPPOSITION TO THIS LATEST VERSION.

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Effort To Keep Lawmakers in Springfield Fails

Lawmakers have left the building. The Illinois House decided to head home after Thursday's session. That's despite a House GOP push to to return to work i a bid to move negotiations on the state budget forward.

 

State Rep. Tim Butler of Springfield was among those hoping to keep lawmakers on the job.

 

 

However, Speaker Michael Madigan moved to adjourn until April 4th.

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WEZC 95.9 Expanding Morning Show Starting April 1

The Miller Media Group's Kaskaskia Broadcasting, Incorporated, owners of Clinton radio stations WEZC and WHOW, today announced that it will be expanding the WEZC 95.9 FM Morning Show with host Jared White, starting April First.

Station president Randal J. Miller said that since K-B-I acquired the 2 stations in the fall of 2007, WEZC 95-point-9 has simulcast WHOW's agriculture and local news programming weekday mornings from 6 til 7:30.

In 2009, WHOW signed on its own FM signal covering DeWitt County at 92-point-3.

Miller said the company decided to bring WEZC listeners more music in the morning, so starting April First from 6 til 7:30 weekday mornings, WEZC will expanded its own Morning Show with “Your Easy Favorites” from the 50's thru the 80's.  SRN News and Local News will continue to be heard every hour and local weather twice an hour.

If listeners are tuned to 95-point-9 weekday mornings, and like hearing WHOW's agriculture and local news programming, they can turn their radio to the BIG 1520 AM or 92-point-3 FM, WHOW.

Miller invites WEZC listeners to either stay with 95.9 for great easy hits' music come April First from 6 til 7:30, or tune to THE BIG 1520 AM or 92-point-3 FM WHOW for agriculture and local news programming weekday mornings. 
 

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Clinton Sav-Mor Pharmacy Closes

Regional Radio News has learned that a local Clinton pharmacy has closed.  Signs were posted this week in the window of the Clinton Sav-Mor Pharmacy, informing residents that the location has closed.  Sav-Mor was the only locally owned pharmacy in Clinton. 

Sav-Mor opened their Clinton location in November of 2012.  It continues to own and operate eleven pharmacies in communities across Central Illinois.

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Clinton Superintendent Discusses Upcoming Sales Tax Referendum

In less than two weeks, voters of DeWitt County will not only be asked about what Presidential candidates they would like to see on the ballots come November, but they will also be asked about a referendum to implement a 1-percent sales tax for DeWitt County schools.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles believes the tax will be a win-win for the district. He feels the funds generated will allow them to continue to maintain their facilities at a high level and eventually could lead to a reduction in the levy for the district.

 

 

The biggest question associated with the sales tax is what purchases will it impact? Nettles indicates things like vehicle sales, agriculture equipment and unprepared foods are not going to be taxed.

 

 

New facilities and additional state of the art technology in classrooms are all part of areas where the sales tax could go and the Clinton district has a lot of both. Nettles does not want to send the message this is the district's way of paying for those things.

 

 

Nettles does not shy away from addressing how things in central Illinois and the state could effect things within Clinton Schools. He feels Clinton Schools are in excellent shape, but if things come to pass that would hinder those opportunities for students, some serious questions would have to be asked.

 

 

One thing Nettles points out is the sales tax also taps in to visitors to the community. He says when the schools host basketball tournaments, like the girls sectionals here last week, or summer basketball tournaments, the community would benefit from the dollars spent by those visitors.

 

The Illinois primary is March 15.

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DeWitt County Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl For Kids Around the Corner

Bowling to benefit DeWitt County youth is the name of an upcoming event for a local non-profit.

 

DeWitt County's Big Brothers Big Sisters will hold their annual Bowl for Kids Sake event next weekend and organizers say there's still time and room left for more participation. Brie Weaver with BBBS says they receive a lot of community support for the event at Logan Lanes in Lincoln this year.

 

 

Weaver says the DeWitt County program has doubled in the last year and she says with that growth, there are costs associated with it.

 

 

Next weekend's event is at Logan Lane's at 6 pm and will last until 8 pm.

 

For further information or to register a team for Bowl for Kids Sake, contact Big Brothers Big Sisters in DeWitt County by calling 217-935-1234.

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Rep. Mitchell Weighs in on House's Failed Override of MAP Grant Funding

The Illinois House failed to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of funding for college MAP grants and two-year schools Wednesday afternoon.  The House debated restoring the funding of money that the Governor and House Republicans have argued the state doesn’t have.

 

State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) said the state is broke but yet those in control in the General Assembly want to continue spending money that it doesn’t have.

 

 

The Democrat majority needed 71 votes to override the Governor’s veto, but the measure failed on a vote of 69 to 48.  Due to the absence of one of their members, Democrat leaders knew they didn’t have the votes going into the balloting but called for the vote anyway.

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Rep. Dan Brady There's Other Ways For MAP Grants to Be Funded

The Illinois House failed to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of funding for college MAP grants and two-year schools Wednesday afternoon.  The House debated restoring the funding of money that the Governor and House Republicans have argued the state doesn’t have.

 

State Representative Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) urged his colleagues to vote no on the measure which he said mislead Illinois’ college students.

 

 

Rep. Brady says the state is throwing out a lifeline with no material.

 

 

The Democrat majority needed 71 votes to override the Governor’s veto, but the measure failed on a vote of 69 to 48.  Due to the absence of one of their members, Democrat leaders knew they didn’t have the votes going into the balloting but called for the vote anyway. 

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Clinton Lake Marina Target of Improvements

The DeWitt County Board's Marina Committee was tasked with the daunting regulation to take on a lot of work to bring the facility up to compliance with the American Disability Act, or ADA.

 

According to DeWitt County Board Member Cris Rogers, those goals have been met and now they are looking make some other improvements in an effort to make things more appealing.

 

 

In an effort to restore the depreciation fund that the ADA project funds came from, County Board Chair David Newberg says the Board is committing to repaying $40-thousand a year to that fund. 

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Sen. Rose Proposing Bills For Better Emergency Response on Illinois Waterways

Better and faster response to emergencies on Illinois waterways is the focus legislation filed by a local lawmaker.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose explains his legislation is aimed to give the revolving loan grants for area firefighters the ability to go towards dive teams. Sen. Rose points out dive teams require a high amount of training and money.

 

 

Sen. Rose would also like to see more emergency room services in the rural areas of his district. He points out trauma care is crucial until a patient can get to a bigger hospital with more resources.

 

 

Sen. Rose believes even though State is locked in a budget crisis, he does not feel that should hurt the chances of these bills moving forward and even passing. He explains even though everyone is concerned about the budget, he still is charged with doing what is best for the people he represents and deliver a better level of care and feels the bills he is proposing do just that.

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Dairy Can Help Boost Metabolism, Energy Levels

Sunset is getting later and later with each passing week, bringing vibes that spring and longer days are just around the corner.

 

But that doesn't mean those winter blues have gone away. A local representative of the dairy industry points out dairy can help you boost your energy levels to get you through the day. Monica Nyman with the St. Louis District Dairy Council indicates the nutrition in dairy is a big a boost.

 

 

Nyman also points dairy can do something a lot of other "energy products" cannot, and this is help sustain energy levels. Nyman says the biggest thing is starting out your day with a good breakfast.

 

Eating smaller meals throughout the day can also be a way to find yourself with more energy. Nyman explains skipping meals is not a good idea and encourages using the my plate model for your meals.

 

 

Nyman encourages asking the question, "are you getting a lot of nutrition for the amount of calories you're consuming?" She notes getting a good start to the day with breakfast may be something that has to be prepared ahead of time.

 

For more tips on how how dairy can help improve your energy levels, visit stldairycouncil.org. 

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Spring Weather on the Way

March has arrived, and for most of us, March signals the start of spring.

 

Bryce Anderson is chief meteorologist with DTN says he agrees. Some spring like weather is on the way for most of the month of March.

 

 

Anderson says Midwest weather patterns in recent decades have trended toward warmer, wetter springs and dryer summers. And that is exactly what he is expecting this year.

 

 

The good news is that wetter springs tend to build up up soil moisture supplies, helping thirsty crops get though any short dry spells in the midst of the growing season.

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Pharmacists Assocation Says Program Investigations To Focus on More Important Cases

A newly created pilot program the state says will streamline compliance investigations at pharmacies throughout the state will allow investigators to focus more attention on larger issues.

 

The Pharmacy Citation System Pilot Program that began earlier this month won’t affect pharmacy clients, according to Illinois Pharmacist Association Executive Director Garth Reynolds, but it will help the state’s investigators cover more important ground.

 

PHARMPILOT2a  :08   CUE: “a timely fashion”

 

Reynolds equates the minor violation citations to minor traffic tickets, a characterization IDFPR spokesman Terry Horstman agreed with.

 

PHARMPILOT2b  :07   CUE: “public at large”

 

Horstman says the true cost savings for taxpayers won’t be known until after the state reviews the program in August.

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Madigan Tabs Panel To Exam Public/Private Partnerships

House Speaker Michael Madigan is launching a bi-partisan special House committee to review ventures like Governor Rauner's plan to have a private company work with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

 

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the panel will work to ensure integrity within any public-private partnership, while making sure that all ethical and transparency requirements are met.

 

 

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan for a DCEO public/private partnership calls for a private company to work with the agency and make decisions on allocations of state money and tax breaks to corporations. The corporation would be funded with private donations. 

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Beverage Association Says Soda Tax Would Kill Jobs

If a state senator gets her way, you’ll be paying an additional 12 cents tax -- on top of the existing sales tax -- for a can of soda, something the Illinois Beverage Association says would hit working Illinois families the hardest.

 

Democratic state Senator Mattie Hunter will hold a press conference Wednesday at which she’s expected to push for a penny per ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks. Most of the revenue generated would go into the Illinois Wellness Fund and be used to expand obesity prevention programs. The Illinois Beverage Association’s Executive Director Jim Soreng says the tax won’t combat obesity.

 

 

Soreng also says the tax would actually be a jobs killer.

 

 

Soreng says it makes no sense to increase taxes to fund new programs while the state is hurting financially. Hunter’s legislation, Senate Bill 1584, remains within the Senate Assignments Committee, where it’s been since February of last year.

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Boaters Reminded To Renew Registration

Depending on the day in central Illinois, it has been nice enough to get out and fish.

 

The Department of Natural Resources are reminding fishermen the end of the month, their hunting and fishing licenses will expire. John Williamson is a DNR Conservation Police Officer and adds boat registrations expire later this summer.

 

 

As the spring approaches, Williamson anticipates more people getting to areas like Clinton Lake or Weldon Springs to fish. He explains the regulations for limits of what you can keep are almost always different and encourages a quick check of the DNR website.

 

 

Williamson says a hunting and fishing license can be renewed online at illinois.dnr.gov or at any sporting goods stores. You can also renew your license over the phone by calling 888-673-7648.

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Miller Park Zoo Hosting Annual 5K Run/Walk

The start of March is traditionally the start of the running event season and one local entity has for many years been tapping into this time of year.

 

The Miller Park Zoo's annual 5K Stampede kicks off the event runs for area runners. Zoo Superintendent Jay Tetzloff says the event this year will, for the first time, take part of the course through the zoo.

 

 

Tetzloff indicates he and the staff are excited about the prospects of having the course take runners and walkers through the zoo.

 

 

The race benefits the Miller Park Zoo's Zoological Society, the fundraising arm of the city-owned facility. Tetzloff says the flamingo exhibit that is to come later this year, was in part, privately funded by the Zoological Society.

 

 

The race is set for this Saturday, March 5. They are planning to keep the zoo closed down until the race has concluded. If you are participating, you get into the zoo for free on Saturday. The race gets underway at 10 am.

 

For further information on this weekend's event, check out millerparkzoo.org.

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Lawmakers Discuss Lump Sum Payout For Retirees

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE DISCUSSING NEW PENSION PLANS, OFFERING RETIREES A LUMP SUM PAYOUT OF THEIR PENSION BENEFITS.

 

NEW LEGISLATION WOULD GIVE WORKERS THE OPTION OF TAKING THEIR PENSION AS A CASH PAYOUT INSTEAD OF BENEFITS BEING DISPERSED OVER TIME. REPRESENTATIVE MARK BATNICK OF PLAINFIELD SAYS RETIREES COULD THEN DO WHAT THEY PLEASE WITH THE MONEY.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE FORTNER OF WEST CHICAGO SAYS THE MONEY COULD THEN BE ROLLED INTO AN I-R-A.

 

 

SUPPORTERS SAYS THIS WOULD SAVE THE STATE MONEY OVER TIME BUT CRITICS QUESTION WHETHER THERE WOULD REALLY BE ANY IMPACT ON THE STATE’S 11 BILLION DOLLAR UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY.

CRITICS QUESTION HOW MUCH THIS WILL REALLY EASE THE STATE’S 11 BILLION DOLLAR PENSION DEBT.

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