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Local News

Governor signs executive order to streamline the state's administrative hearing process.

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS TAKING ACTION TO STREAMLINE THE STATE’S ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING PROCESS.

 

THE GOVERNOR SIGNED AN EXECUTIVE ORDER CREATING A PILOT PROGRAM TO EASE THE BACKLOG OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS IN ILLINOIS. SADZI OLIVA, A STATE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE, SAYS THE STATE GETS ABOUT 100 THOUSAND REQUESTS FOR HEARINGS EACH YEAR.

 

 

RIGHT NOW 25 AGENCIES HAVE THEIR OWN HEARING SYSTEM. THIS PILOT PROGRAM WILL FOCUS ON CONSOLIDATING THE PROCESS AND IMPROVING TECHNOLOGY TO BETTER TRACK CASES.

 

 

25 DIFFERENT STATE AGENCIES HANDLE ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS…AND ABOUT 100 THOUSAND REQUESTS COME IN EACH YEAR. THE BURDENSOME PROCESS HAS CREATED UNREASONABLE WAIT TIMES SAYS GOVERNOR RAUNER.

 

RAUNER SIGNED AN EXECUTIVE ORDER CREATING A PILOT PROGRAM TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE. THAT WILL INCLUDE EXPLORING THE IDEA OF A CENTRAL PANEL OF ADJUDICATORS, IMPROVING TECHNOLOGY TO BETTER TRACK CASES, AND DEVELOPING UNIFORM RULES FOR THE HEARING PROCESS.

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Advocates of Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Pushing For Legislation

ADVOCATES ARE PUSHING LAWMAKERS TO APPROVE A BILL THAT THEY SAY WILL CURB PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE.

 

THE LEGISLATION REQUIRES INSURANCE COMPANIES TO COVER MEDICATIONS THAT ARE HARDER TO CRUSH OR MELT…IN HOPES OF MAKING IT TOUGHER FOR PEOPLE TO USE TO GET HIGH. KEVIN KAMINSKI OF INGLESIDE, A FORMER DRUG ABUSER, SUPPORTS THE MEASURE.

 

 

DR. MICHAEL ROSS WITH COMMUNITY FIRST MEDICAL CENTER SAYS OPIOID ABUSE IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS. HE’S BACKING A MEASURE THAT REQUIRES INSURERS TO COVER PAIN MEDS THAT ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO CRUSH OR MELT AND USE TO GET HIGH.

 

 

THE MEASURE HASN’T HAD MUCH TRACTION LATELY BUT SUPPORTERS HOPE TO REVIVE THE IDEA.

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Radio Shack Surrendering $140-Thousand in Old Rebates

ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS IS URGING RADIO SHACK SHOPPERS TO SEE IF THEY HAVE ANY OLD REBATES WAITING FOR THEM.

 

THE TREASURER’S OFFICE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR RETURNING UNCLAIMED PROPERTY…AND HAS CONVINCED RADIO SHACK TO HAND OVER 140 THOUSAND DOLLARS IN UNPAID REBATES SAYS SPOKESPERSON GREG RIVARA.

 

YOU MAY HAVE REBATE MONEY IF YOU BOUGHT SOMETHING AT RADIO SHACK BETWEEN 2002 AND 2008.

 

 

YOU CAN CHECK FOR ANY REBATES AND OTHER UNCLAIMED PROPERTY ONLINE AT ILLINOIS TREASURER DOT GOV THROUGH THE “I-CASH” PROGRAM.

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Clinton Tree Commission Celebrating National Arbor Day Saturday

The Clinton Tree Commission will recognize National Arbor Day this weekend by planting trees.

 

It's an annual tradition and Tree Commission President, John Baker, says the city arboretum is at Jefferson and Alexander Streets

 

 

Also as a part of the National Arbor Day celebrations in the Clinton School District, local youth are asked to create a poster and recently Baker presented the winners of this year's contest before the Clinton City Council.

 

The winners this year were Kieran Conaty (1st), Trinity Buggar (2nd) and Emily Burkett (3rd). 

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Local Authorities Remind Residents of Storm Safety Protocols

While severe storms have proven to come at any time of the year, this is the time year where the storms are at their peak for chances of striking.

 

With that in mind, local authorities are taking time to remind residents what to do, and not do, during severe weather. Teresa Barnett is the Director of DeWitt County's Emergency Management Agency, and says the most important thing you can do is be prepared for any circumstance.

 

 

When the chances for severe weather increase, Barnett explains a watch will be issued. She explains a watch simply means the conditions are right for a storm but a warning means a storm is near and shelter needs to be sought.

 

 

Barnett stresses when the tornado sirens go off, residents need to seek shelter immediately as a tornado has been spotted near your area or is headed towards your area.

 

 

Clinton and DeWitt County have an emergency notification system that can send immediate notifications to residents impacted by various storms that is free. Learn more about the "Code Red" alert system next week, or to get signed up, visit clintonillinois.com or dewittcountyill.com. 

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MAP Grant Dollars Flowing

State Comptroller Leslie Munger has news that should be music to the ears of anxious college students who depend on Monetary Award Program grants. Munger has revealed she received $164 million dollars worth of MAP grant vouchers from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

 

Munger says she turned around the payments immediately. 125,000 Illinois college students depend upon help from the MAP grant program to help funding their education.

 

Munger also notes the recent higher ed funding deal reached between Governor Rauner and lawmakers isn't a long term solution.

 

The MAP grant funding provided by the deal only represents half of what students were promised this year. 

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Justice Commission Says Illinois Laws Need Updating

Illinois treatment of juvenile justice records isn’t keeping up with what is needed. That’s the assessment of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.

 

A report released Thursday finds costly fees and complicated rules are barriers for young offenders from having their records expunged, haunting them for years. Retired Judge George Timberlake says that weak confidentiality laws allow schools, employers and many others opportunity to see the records and in effect punish the person twice.

 

 

Fees to expunge records also stand in the way of individuals getting their histories cleaned up. The commission says that fees should be eliminated. 

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Six Charged in Dismembering Champaign Woman Who Was Found In Clinton Lake

Six people have been charged with dismembering a missing Champaign woman whose remains were found in a central Illinois lake.

 

Authorities announced Thursday six men are accused of cutting up the body of 24-year-old Ashley Gibson in a northwest Champaign home. Her mother reported her missing April 19.

 

Charged are 26-year-old Davion Hedrick, Donte Meeks and Deundrea Weatherspoon, both 25, 28-year-old Randale Banks, 23-year-old Reginald Logan and 19-year-old Javon Tate.

 

Authorities say Hedrick is a resident of the house where the alleged dismemberment occurred.

 

No charges have been filed relating to her death. Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz says more charges could be filed later.

 

Gibson's remains were found Sunday in Clinton Lake in DeWitt County.

 

Champaign police Lt. Dave Shaffer says investigators are trying to determine a motive for the dismemberment.

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Local Lawmakers Address Legislation in Springfield To Help Clinton Power Plant

Tell your neighbors, tell your friends; tell anyone you can about the impact the Clinton Nuclear Power Station has on the area.

 

Picture Right: Sen. Rose (Left) and Rep. Bill Mitchell (Right) deliver opening statements Thursday

 

That is the message from local lawmakers as they continue to fight for the sustainability of the Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power Station. Senator Chapin Rose and Representative Bill Mitchell sat before a crowded DeWitt County Board room to discuss pending legislation re-introduced by Rep. Mitchell, who says he sits on the energy committee at the Capitol.

 

 

The lawmakers point out there are a couple of interesting pieces to power plants in every part of the state closing. Sen. Rose says this isn't a partisan issue as a lot of parties are now getting involved to save the power plant.

 

 

While the message for DeWitt County and surrounding communities is about the jobs and tax dollars, Sen. Rose says the message across the state needs to be that the amount of energy Exelon produces at the Clinton Power Station impacts half the state of Illinois.

 

 

Sen. Rose believes the message needs to be put out more effectively than it has been and both lawmakers call the legislation urgent and believe they have a lot of support behind getting it passed. 

 

Picture Right: Left to Right - Marian Brisard (Clinton Chamber Executive Director), Ruth Stauffer (DeWitt County Development Council), Sen. Rose, Rep. Mitchell, David Newberg (DeWitt County Board Chairman), Clinton Mayor Roger Cyrulik

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County Highway Department Readies For Summer Maintenance

The traditional summer maintenance work will soon be underway for the County Highway department.

 

Highway Engineer for DeWitt County, Mark Mathon indicates they have a few areas of the County that will be targeted with seal-coating.

 

 

In addition to the seal-coating, there will be some work in the various townships of DeWitt County that the Highway Department will assist on.

 

 

As it relates to future County road construction, Mathon indicates one project they continue to keep saving for is a reconstruction of Weldon Springs Road. Mathon says that portion of the County receives heavy traffic because of the springs.

 

 

As county crews get set to begin the work when the weather breaks, Mathon asks motorists be mindful of their crews, slow down and drive cautiously. 

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Head Start Looking Accepting Applications For Next Year

The Community Action Partnership of Central Illinois is seeking applicants for their program aimed at bridging the gap for kids ready to enter school.

 

The Head Start program is an early childhood education program aimed at giving kids a jump start to entering a school atmosphere. Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez explains the program is home and center based.

 

 

Tasha Mohn is the Head Start Coordinator for Community Action and indicates the DeWitt County program is a half day and in Piatt County started a full-day program just this year.

 

 

For Mohn, Head Start is a great opportunity because the program is very individual focused. She explains they focus on physical, social and mental health.

 

 

While Head Start is a child focused program for Community Action, Rumler-Gomez says getting kids into their centers or involved with the organization is a great to introduce families to their free programs aimed at ending the cycle of poverty.

 

 

The program is income based, but Rumler-Gomez says the agency can take on children with special needs.

 

To learn more about the Head Start program, contact the Lincoln Office at 217-732-2159 or visit www.capcil.info. 

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Rauner Considers Paying For Special Session

Can a state budget deal be reached this summer?

 

Governor Bruce Rauner says that he has hope that one can be completed by the end of May. And if it would take a special session that he would consider a rather unconventional way of making sure taxpayers aren’t picking up the bill.

 

RAUNERPAY  :  CUE:

 

Rauner adds that he wants to see the fiscal year budgets for both this current year and the coming FY 17 to get done at the same time.

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Governor Willing To Change Education Funding... Under Certain Conditions

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS HE’S OPEN TO CHANGING THE WAY THE STATE FUNDS EDUCATION IN ILLINOIS…BUT WANTS TO MAKE SURE SCHOOLS GET THE MONEY THEY NEED IN THE MEANTIME.

 

THE STATE’S FUNDING FORMULA HAS HAD ITS SHARE OF CRITICS OVER THE YEARS, WITH THE CRY FOR CHANGE GETTING LOUDER. GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS WHILE DISCUSSIONS ARE ONGOING, THE STATE HAD TO CONTINUE TO GET MONEY TO SCHOOLS.

 

 

GOVERNOR RAUNER WANTS TO INCREASE KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 12TH GRADE SPENDING BY 120 MILLION DOLLARS IN THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR…AND ALSO SAYS HE'S WILLING TO TACKLE THE STATE'S CURRENT COMPLICATED FUNDING FORMULA.

 

 

GOVERNOR RAUNER WANTS TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 12TH GRADE EDUCATION BY 120 MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE NEW FISCAL YEAR.

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Rauner Optimistic About Budget Deal

The talking points volleyed back and forth between Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan have been repetitive at times and have left little room for optimism.

 

But in the days after a deal was hammered out to get state funds to cash starved Illinois colleges and universities, the forgotten word of optimism has resurfaced at the Capitol and at least for the moment, the tone has changed. In a visit to Auburn High School, Governor Rauner said he not only wants a deal on what's left of the current fiscal year but the coming months as well.

 

 

Rauner says leaderless talks among lawmakers are starting to bear fruit.

 

 

If lawmakers have to go to special session, Rauner says he'll cover the 40-thousand dollar a day tab out of his own pocket.

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Graduated Tax Raising Eyebrows Nationally

The Washington, D.C.,-based Tax Foundation is raising the alarm about a proposed graduated income tax for Illinois.

 

Tax Foundation Vice President of State Projects Joseph Henchman says they don’t often hold press conferences in state capitals about their reports, but …

 

 

The report says if Illinois moves to a graduated rate, the state’s business competitiveness would go from the middle of the pack to near the bottom compared to other states.

 

Voices for Illinois Children’s Emily Miller supports the graduated tax. Miller says the proposal provides tax cuts for 99 percent of Illinoisans while at the same time will bring in $1.9 billion of more revenue.

 

 

The Tax Foundation says a graduated tax would remove Illinois’ flat rate, something they say is Illinois’ last saving grace for small business. 

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DeWitt County Development Council Hosting Informational Breakfast Friday

Networking, workforce development and expanded opportunities are just a few of the themes for an event this Friday hosted by the DeWitt County Development Council.

 

Executive Director of the DCDC Ruth Stauffer says business professionals, workforce development groups and educational leaders are invited to a breakfast Friday morning at the Clinton Country Club where they can learn more about a number of opportunities locally to help improve the community's business climate.

 

 

The Leaders Breakfast aims to provide small and medium sized area businesses with resources and opportunities they may not have time or the money to afford. Stauffer indicates it's a great opportunity for networking among employers and professionals.

 

 

The Leaders Breakfast begins at 7:30 am with breakfast at the Clinton Country Club on Route 51 in Clinton. Stauffer says they will ask for a ten-dollar donation as a part of the meeting and it should only last about an hour.

 

To get more information, contact the DeWitt County Development Council at 217-935-0500. 

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Warrensburg-Latham To Display Learning of Students Tonight

Education looks vastly different than what many remember from previous generations, and has even changed a lot in the last ten years.

 

Because of that, one local school district is inviting their communities out to see what learning for today's students look like. Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle is the Superintendent of the Warrensburg-Latham School district and explains this is an opportunity for students to display various projects, learning opportuties and tools but it's also a time for the community to see this as well.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says the ways technology is utilized in the classrooms is going to be an example of the progress in classroom learning in today's learning environments.

 

 

While technology is a big piece of learning now, but Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says 21st century learning involved more in depth thinking and collaboration. She says those types of learning experiences will be on display Wednesday.

 

 

The 21st Century Learning Expo is Wednesday from 6 pm to 7 pm at Warrensburg-Latham Hig School and is open to the public. 

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Group Wants Crush Proof Pills To Curb Heroin Addictions

Heroin addiction and use continues to climb in Illinois and experts say that it cuts across all economic and social barriers. Now a group comprised of doctors, law enforcement and recovering heroin addicts is asking for a law curb addition to prescription pain pills.


Pending legislation in the Illinois House would require crush proof pills to be covered by insurance plans in Illinois. Dr. Michael Rock says that when pills produced with O.A.D.P.s, a formulation that prevents pills easily being crushed, are given to patients they can stop many addicts from using the pills to get high.



Cinda Edwards, Sangamon County Coroner says in there is a clear need to mitigate heroin and opioid overdose deaths. Edwards says those abuse deterrent properties helps to stand in the way of potential deaths.



Dr. Michael Rock says adding deterrents to the pills can impact the cycle of abuse and addiction.

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Several Gun Bills Proposed

IT WOULDN’T BE A SPRING LEGISLATIVE SESSION WITHOUT SEVERAL GUN BILLS PROPOSED.


SOME OF THE BILLS HAVE GAINED SOME TRACTION…WHERE OTHERS HAVE STALLED. SENATOR KYLE MCCARTER OF VANDALIA WANTS TO EXPAND THE LIST OF PLACES PEOPLE CAN CONCEAL CARRY AND TO LET MILITARY STATIONED IN ILLINOIS GET THEIR CONCEALED CARRY PERMITS.



ONE HIGHLY OPPOSED BY GUN RIGHTS GROUPS WOULD LET A CLOSE FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER ASK THE COURTS TO TAKE AWAY THE GUN OF THEIR LOVED ONE IF THAT PERSON IS SUICIDAL OR HAVING A MENTAL BREAKDOWN. IT’S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE KATHLEEN WILLIS OF NORTHLAKE.



SOME OF THESE IDEAS HAVE YET TO GAIN MUCH MOMENTUM IN THE LEGISLATURE.

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Legislation Gives Students Choice on College Entrance Exams

STUDENTS WOULD STILL BE ABLE TO TAKE THE A-C-T AT SCHOOL UNDER LEGISLATION THAT RECENTLY PASSED THE HOUSE.

 

STATE LAW REQUIRES SCHOOLS TO OFFER ONE COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAM TO ALL STUDENTS. TRADITIONALLY, THAT’S BEEN THE A-C-T…BUT THE STATE RECENTLY ENTERED INTO A THREE YEAR CONTRACT FOR SCHOOLS TO GIVE THE S-A-T INSTEAD. REPRESENTATIVE MIKE UNES OF EAST PEORIA IS SPONSORING LEGISLATION TO MAKE SURE STUDENTS CAN PICK EITHER EXAM.

 

 

THE BILL WILL NOW BE CONSIDERED BY THE SENATE.

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Foul Play Suspected in Clinton Lake Death

The positive identification of missing 24-year old Ashley Gibson was confirmed by the Champaign County Coroner Monday.

 

Gibson's remains were found at Clinton Lake Sunday afternoon.

 

Champaign Police believe Gibson died in Champaign County and the autopsy did not reveal any indications of fatal injuries prior to her death.

 

Gibson had been missing since April 17. 

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Children Advocacy Centers Wrapping Up Child Abuse Awareness Month

As the month of April concludes this week, one local organization hopes their efforts to raise awareness of a consistent societal problem will be carried on.


The Chidrens Advocacy Centers, or CAC, have been using the month of April to promote Child Abuse Awareness month and to bring to light the continuous cases and instances of abuse among children. Judy Brucker is the Executive Director of the CAC and indicates the organization has grown and evolved over time.



Where the process of investigating child abuse has evolved over time is that the children, who are the victims, have started to be interviewed just a single time through the offices of the CAC. Brucker indicates the initial interview they do is very important, which is why continuing training is always taking place.



Brucker indicates while that is the recommended best practice, it does not necessarily mean that is what is happening elsewhere. 

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Weekly Crop Report

ILLINOIS PRODUCERS ARE MAKING SIGNIFICANT CORN PLANTING PROGRESS.


THERE WERE ABOUT FOUR AND A HALF DAYS SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK…GIVING FARMERS SOME NICE LONG DAYS IN THE FIELDS SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.



TWO PERCENT OF SOYBEANS, ONE PERCENT OF SORGHUM AND 82 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN PLANTED. TWO PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED.



AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE STANDS AT EIGHT PERCENT SHORT…75 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 17 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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University of Illinois Spent Big To Find AD

Apparently it’s not cheap to hire an athletic director at the University of Illinois.


The U of I is expecting to pay close to $200,000 for the search that concluded more than a month ago. According to reports, the University spent $11,000 to hold offsite interviews in Indianapolis.


But a search firm, Korn Ferry Executive Search will bring in the most money – they are being paid a flat fee of $140,000 and on top of that will receive expenses.


The U of I wound up hiring a former Illini football player and alum Josh Whitman. 

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Rauner Signs Education Bill

The bill that came together late last week to fund parts of higher education is now law.

 

Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill Monday that will partially fund universities, junior colleges and MAP grants.

 

Rauner says in an email statement that the law is a “first step towards compromise”. Comptroller Leslie Munger said late last week she would have her office prioritize getting those bills paid. 

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AFSCME and Rauner in Court

An effort to get the state’s largest labor union and the Governor together on a new contract has spilled over to hearings at the Labor Relations Board.

 

ASFCME and the Governors’ staff appeared Monday during a hearing on the impasse. An administrative law judge will now issue a decision on whether or not the two parties are really at a standstill.

 

If the judge decides in favor of Rauner he will then be free to dictate the terms of the next union contract to AFSCME members. 

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Clinton Power Station Problems Part of A National Problem

The challenges facing the Clinton Nuclear Power Station to remain financially viable are an issue that is a national problem.

 

That is the message from State Sen. Chapin Rose who says the root of the issue is the national government's attempts to try to shut down the coal industry, which has backfired and impacted nuclear energy the most.

 

 

Sen. Rose says the environmentalists community's attempt to eliminate the carbon producers has put nuclear power under attack. He explains the market place has been distorted as a result.

 

 

According to Sen. Rose there are two options at this point. The first brings Exelon and nuclear power up to the standards of renewable energy but Sen. Rose points out that will raise residents rates.

 

 

Finally, Sen. Rose says the worst case scenario is to lose the power plant and electricity rates will skyrocket. He says by either scenario, electricity rates are going to rise.

 

 

Sen. Rose says there is legislation in the Illinois General Assembly that would bring nuclear power to renewable standards which would give Clinton's power station the opportunity to stay open however, Sen. Rose again points out, the national market dynamics may still keep it from being financially viable. 

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City Budget In Red, Expected By Local Leaders

The City of Clinton's fiscal year budget will end in the red but that is to be expected according to one city official.

 

Clint Licthenwalter is the Clinton City Treasurer and indicates the city ending in the red was to be expected because of one-time expenses that are normally not a part of the budget.

 

 

Communities like Clinton continue to face the possibility of the State of Illinois withholding sales tax but Lichtenwalter notes they haven't been able to get that to passed. In the meantime, city revenues have remained flat.

 

 

The biggest unknown for the City of Clinton falls in line with the biggest unknown for every other community in Illinois. Lichtenwalter says the state's fiscal mess makes things difficult and items in the Governor's proposed turnaround agenda.

 

 

Last Monday night, Lichtenwalter presented the budget before the Council. It was pointed out by Finance Commissioner Tom Edmunds, the City is making the biggest invest in the streets that he's seen in his time on the Council. 

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Social Services Still Looking For Funding

Higher education and low income students were able to breathe a little easier on Friday when the state lawmakers passed $550 billion bill to partially fund them.

 

But after nearly a year without a state budget and a mounting stack of overdue bills many in social services are wondering where their money is or when it’s coming.

 

Senator Toi (Toy) Hutchinson a Chicago Heights Democrat wants something done to help those programs that are hanging on by a string.

 

 

The House and Senate are taking another break; the two chambers won’t be back in session till May.

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Durbin Wants To Spend $70-Million on Lead in Water

Until recently many wouldn’t have spent much time wondering about the safety of their drinking water. That discussion is now happening in many homes because of recent problems in Flint Michigan.

 

US Senator Dick Durbin says the ongoing crisis in Flint pushed him and others in the Senate to find a way to improve water systems. That’s the where he says the True LEADership Act can help a $70 billion bill that he says would be $70 billion well spent. Dr. Peter Kiefer a SIU School of Medicine Pediatrician says there are 3 main ways to ingest lead – contact with contaminated soil, lead paint and water. According to him children are at the most risk for lead poisoning.

 

 

Durbin also wants a standard of testing and agreed upon levels of how much lead in one’s blood is an acceptable amount. He says the Department of Housing and Urban Development uses a standard above what the Centers for Disease Control recommends. That leaves individuals and children vulnerable.

 

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UPDATED WITH AUDIO: Police Believe Remains of Missing Woman Found in Clinton Lake

Following recent information developed in the missing person case of 24-year-old Ashley C. Gibson, Champaign Police Detectives directed an exploratory search of evidence at Clinton Lake in DeWitt, IL.

 

According to John Williamson of DNR Conservation Police, the efforts of the search led to the recovery of human remains that were extracted from the lake at approximately 1:30 PM Sunday.

 

 

An autopsy will be scheduled and forensic pathology will seek to positively identify the recovered body.  Following the discovery of the remains, Police have transitioned Gibson’s disappearance to a death investigation.

 

Williamson indicates thanks to their sonar equipment, they were able to make the discovery in a quick manner and cut down on a lot of man hours.

 

 

Additional information regarding this case will be provided as investigative findings allow.  Police continue to seek evidence into the source of Ashley Gibson’s disappearance and encourage anyone with information to please contact Champaign Police at 217-351-4545 or Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477.

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Congressman LaHood Says Continues Push For IRS Reforms

Central Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood was asked about several resolutions passed this week concerning the Internal Revenue Service.

 

Five such resolutions took place on Capitol Hill. LaHood has been an outspoken advocate of reforming the IRS, and just recently grilled its top man on cybersecurity issues.

 

 

One of the resolutions specifically focuses on prohibiting IRS employees who were fired for misconduct from being rehired by the IRS.

 

 

Another resolution would prohibit the use of funds by the IRS to target U.S. citizens for exercising any right guaranteed under the First Amendment. Another measure would stop the IRS from hiring any new employees until it can certify that no employees are delinquent on their own taxes.

 

The house also passed a resolution ending bonuses until the IRS improves its customer service record, and a fifth measure would delete the IRS slush fund and re-assert Congressional powers over fees collected by the IRS.

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Elizabethkingia Confirmed in Illinois

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS LOOKING INTO A CLUSTER OF CASES OF INFECTION WITH THE ELIZABETHKINGIA  BACTERIA.

 

10 CASES HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED IN ILLINOIS…AND SIX OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS HAVE DIED. PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NIRAV SHAH SAYS THEY ARE TRYING TO SEE HOW THEY ARE RELATED.

 

 

SHAH SAYS THEY ARE TRYING TO DETERMINE WHY CERTAIN PEOPLE ARE BEING INFECTED AND HOW THE ELIZABETHKINGIA BACTERIA IS TRANSMITTED.

 

 

THE ELIZABETHKINGIA BACTERIA IS COMMONLY FOUND IN THE ENVIRONMENT AND USUALLY DOESN’T CAUSE ANY PROBLEMS. THE MAJORITY OF THOSE WHO HAVE BECAME ILL HAVE BEEN OVER 65 WITH UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS.

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Average Weather Ahead

It appears El Nino is about to come to a close. State Climotologist Jim Angel has more.

 

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Illinois Warrior Assistance Program Introduces Campaign To Help More Than 500 Veterans

THE STATE’S WARRIOR ASSISTANCE PROGRAM IS LAUNCHING A NEW CAMPAIGN TO HELP GET IMPORTANT SERVICES TO MORE ILLINOIS VETERANS.

 

THE “FIVE-THIRTY BY FIVE-THIRTY” EFFORT AIMS TO REACH OUT TO AT LEAST 530 VETS BY MAY 30TH. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS DIRECTOR ERICA JEFFRIES SAYS THE PROGRAM CAN HELP VETERANS WITH COUNSELING, MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, FINANCIAL AND LEGAL CONSULTATION AND MORE.

 

 

JEFFRIES SAYS THEY CAN HELP VETS WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, LEGAL AND FINANCIAL CONSULTATION AND MORE…ALL WHILE ENSURING PRIVACY.

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION…VISIT: ILLINOIS WARRIOR DOT COM, OR CALL THE 24-HOUR TOLL-FREE HELPLINE AT: 1-866-554-IWAP.

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IDOT Promoting Motorcycle Safety, Training

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS URGING MOTORCYCLISTS TO “GEAR UP AND RIDE SMART” AS THEY GET OUT AND ENJOY THE WARM WEATHER.

 

THIS YEAR’S CAMPAIGN FOCUSES ON THREE AREAS TO ADDRESS BEFORE YOU STARTING RIDING SAYS I-DOT SPOKESPERSON GIANNA URGO.

 

 

URGO REMINDS MOTORCYCLISTS NOT TO DRINK AND RIDE…AND SAYS ALCOHOL IS A FACTOR IN ABOUT 40 PERCENT OF MOTORCYCLE FATALITIES. LAST YEAR 145 RIDERS DIED ON ILLINOIS ROADS.

 

 

ILLINOIS IS ONE OF ONLY TWO STATES THAT OFFERS FREE MOTORCYCLE TRAINING COURSES…FOR BOTH BEGINNERS AND EXPERIENCED RIDERS. FOR MORE INFORMATION AND OTHER TIPS…VISIT THE WEBSITE: START SEEING MOTORCYCLES DOT ORG.

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New Lottery Game Introduced

THE ILLINOIS LOTTERY IS LAUNCHING A NEW INSTANT GAME BASED OFF THE POPULAR “LOTERIA” CARD GAME.

 

LOTERIA IS OFTEN REFERRED TO AS MEXICAN BINGO…FEATURING CHARACTERS AND OBJECTS SIGNIFICANT TO MEXICAN CULTURE. THE INSTANT TICKET WILL WORK SIMILARLY SAYS ILLINOIS LOTTERY BOARD MEMBER ELBA ARANDA.

 

 

ARANDA SAYS THE INSTANT TICKET OFFERS A TOP PRIZE OF 50 THOUSAND DOLLARS.

 

 

THE LOTERIA GAME COSTS THREE DOLLARS TO PLAY.

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Local Authorities Seek Information in Vandalism Case

Vandalism at the Texas Township Cemetary has local residents and authorities asking for the publics help in solving this case.

 

 

In early April, the vandalsim is suspected to have taken place between April 5 and April 9 and according to Leslie Cyrulik, caretaker of the Cemetary, there were headstones knocked over and turned over.

 
                                                                                                        

Any tips can be directed to the DeWitt County Sheriff's office by calling 217-935-3196 or through Crimestoppers at 217-935-3333.

Crimestoppers phone line does not utilize caller identification and calls can be made anonymously. 

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DeWitt County Animal Control to Showcase New Facility Saturday

Come out Saturday and check out the newest addition to the DeWitt County fleet of buildings.

 

Animal control is excited to display to the public for the first time their new facility that will double the size of their current location. Cris Rogers heads the Public Safety committee on the DeWitt County Board and says the new facility is state of the art.

 

 

The cost for the shelter is going to run right around $300-thousand and Rogers indicates there have been both public and private dollars to help pay for what is inside.

 

 

A challenge animal control faces often is people dropping off animals when no one is at the shelter. Rogers explains at the very front entrance, there will be a spot for anyone in a dire scenario to be able to do so in a humane manner.

 

 

Rogers says he is most proud of the fact they finally have a building up to call home that will be very functional. He feels taxpayers should feel very proud of the facility that they have.

 

There will be an open house for the public to come and attend Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm. The new facility is off Weldon Springs Road at the former Black's Heating and Cooling facility next to the new EMS location off Route 10. 

 

 

 

 

 

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DeWitt County Board Decides To Adjust Salaries of Officials

The perfect storm is weathering itself in DeWitt County and in an effort to prepare for it, the County Board Thursday night began what will likely be a series of salary adjustments for their officials.

 

Chair of the Finance Committee, Camille Redman explains they have adjusted the salaries for the Circuit Clerk and the County Coroner starting December 1. Redman says each will receive a raise over a four year period.

 

 

According to Redman, the factors for the salary reviews include the state's fiscal mess in addition to the uncertainty of the future of the power station. She says it is the County's obligation to be responsible with their funds and they have found the salaries will keep DeWitt County competitive with like-sized counties.

 

 

Redman indicates the salaries of all elected officials will be reviewed as they continue to come up. She also notes salaries for the State's Attorney are not set by the County Board, but all other elected offices are. 

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Miller Park Zoo Hosting Earth Day Celebration

Earth Day is Saturday and a local zoo is embracing the opportunity to promote their special animals and conservation.

 

Miller Park Zoo Superintendent Jay Tetzloff explains they are joining in the worldwide "Party for the Planet" this Saturday with special things going on throughout the zoo.

 

 

Much of the day will be a promotion of conservation practices but Tetzloff says they will also talk about good practices when buying fresh food like fish.

 

 

The message of conservation is something the zoo always tries to convey, however, that message will be at the front of their opportunity this weekend. Tetzloff says it's often simple things that can save the general public money that they promote.

 

 

The Party for the Planet at Miller Park Zoo goes from 1 pm to 3 pm Saturday.

 

For more details check out millerparkzoo.org. 

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Tampon Bill Advances

Lawmakers took a step on Thursday to eliminate the state sales tax on what one legislator calls “unavoidable necessities” for women.

 

The Tampon Tax bill advanced in the Senate. It will cut sales tax on tampons, sanitary napkins and adult diapers. State Senator Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat says that the items are medical necessities and should not be taxed at a rate the luxury items are.

 

 

The House also approved a birth control bill that would allow women to avoid a complicated waiver process to get access to contraceptives that aren’t offered by their insurance. 

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Lt. Governor Position To Stay, For Now

A job once deemed so boring an elected official once quit less than halfway through his term is still important enough to lawmakers that they voted to keep it around.

 

Thursday the Senate voted down a proposal to send a question the fall ballot if the Lieutenant Governor’s Office should be abolished. The savings is seen at $1.6 million a year. Senator Tom Cullerton a Villa Park Democrat hears from all sides about the office.

 

 

Senator Matt Murphy a Palatine Republican supports the measure but he wants a change to the suggested line of succession. The current bill would place the Attorney General next in line, regardless of party.

 

 

Who would step up to fill the role of Governor if something should happen to that individual while in office? The current proposal suggested that the Attorney General be next in line.

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Higher Education Funding Falls Apart Thursday

One thing was for sure, a compromise on funding for higher education wouldn’t be easy to come by and that being proven true at the Illinois Capitol. Lawmakers and allies of education seemed optimistic on Thursday as the House appeared to agree on $600 million of funding for universities, junior colleges and MAP grants. But as things can in the Illinois House, the Speaker stepped in and appeared to squash any vote till today (Friday).

 

The House seemingly pulled the bill to add more state spending to the measure as an effort to put Governor Bruce Rauner on the spot to approve or veto critical spending on higher ed. There is a chance at a new bill or a vote before the weekend. Governor Bruce Rauner said via email statement late Thursday that he applauded members of both sides of the isle who are coming together to deliver emergency assistance to our universities, community colleges and low-income students.

 

By the numbers state universities would divvy up $356 million, community colleges $74 million, Chicago State receives $20 million on its own and MAP grants pick up $170 million. The spending is far below what schools were expecting or had received in the past. 

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Ameren Bill To Be Updated

Your next Ameren electric bill may look a little different. Ameren Spokeswoman Marcelyn Love says several changes are being implemented.

 

 

Love adds several changes are being implemented and they've already received a positive review.

 

 

Love says customers will have a better understanding of the components of the bill and why certain charges are calculated. 

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Alaina Concert Realization of Dream for Community

There's palpable buzz around the community and surrounding area for the June 11 concert featuring Lauren Alaina on the downtown Mr. Lincoln Square.

 

The dream started back in the late 80s of what the downtown Clinton Square looks like today and the announcement of the concert American Idol Season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina is the culmination that dream.

 

Tim Followell, Administrator for the City of Clinton says when the plans for the downtown square first were introduced in the late 80s, this is what they had envisioned, a big name coming to Clinton to provide good entertainment for the people of central Illinois.

 

 

For Followell, the vision of what the renovations to the Mr. Lincoln could do for the community were first presented at the Easton Corbin and Brushville concerts. While the Corbin concert was for a select audience and came together on short notice, he felt it was a glimpse of what could be.

 

 

While it is not cheap to book a performer of the caliber of Alaina, the City has "reshuffled" their budget to make room in the budget for their two concerts this summer and fall. He notes not all of that is in an effort to afford these concerts.

 

 

While the City of Clinton will be hosting another concert later in the summer, Followell recognizes this is a trial and error for them. He hopes everything goes smoothly but he fully anticipates this being a learning experience for everyone.

 

Followell indicates the City is planning for around 800 to be in Clinton for the activities. 

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Local Authorities Make Child Abuse Cases Priority

Earlier this week we outlined the local relevance to child abuse and how Clinton stacks up to the rest of the country.

 

Clinton police say the local statistics are pretty well in line with the national statistics and when they get a call it is something they make a priority. Clinton Police Detective Todd Ummell says when the initial call comes in he wants the initial interview to be very basic until they can bring together several different entities.

 

 

Once the initial call comes in of abuse, Det. Ummell will coordinate with the various groups and try to get the child in as soon as possible. He says it can happen within a couple of days.

 

 

According to Det. Ummell, the goal is to interview the child once and then that becomes the entire case. The interviewer, provided through the Childrens Advocacy Center, is a trained professional who will not lead the child with any of their questions.

 

 

Det. Ummell says often times, one interview is enough to make a case, and the child does not have to do any more interviews. He points it is their goal to eliminate stress on the child and to make sure only one interview is enough.

 

He also notes they often times get enough of a case for prosecution. 

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Rep. Mitchell Calls All Kids Health Insurance Act 'Height of Irresponsibility'

The Illinois House Tuesday voted in favor of legislation which amends the covering ALL KIDS Health Insurance Act. HB 5736 changes the repeal date from July 1, 2016 to October 1, 2019. 

 

State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) was one of those who stood on the House floor and encouraged his colleagues to vote no on the bill. He says this is another example of the State of Illinois becoming more dysfunctional.

 

 

Rep. Mitchell calls the bill the height of irresponsibility. He explains this bill spends $320-million for illegal immigrants.

 

 

The legislation was approved on a vote of 77-38.

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Millionaire Tax Going Nowhere

In the last state wide election voters supported by a wide margin a tax on incomes of a million dollars or more in Illinois but Wednesday the Illinois House voted bill down that would give voters a chance to vote again.

 

Speaker Mike Madigan helped place an that advisory question on the 2014 ballot and today before his chamber voted on putting a binding constitutional question on the fall ballot he says that education funding must come before wishes of the top earners in the state.

 

 

Republican’s feel that the tax will drive the state’s highest earners out of Illinois. Rep. David Harris a Republican from Mount Prospect says that its about more than the 1 percent.

 

 

The bill failed by three votes. It would have created a surtax on the portion of income above $1 million. Madigan wanted the new tax proceeds to go education and be doled out on a per-pupil basis. Madigan says that it would generate about a billion dollars or $530 per pupil per year.

 

Republicans contend the move would push high earners out of the state and generate less money than expected. 

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Meghan Trainor Coming To Illinois State Fair

This will be music to the ears of teen girls and young women.

 

The latest act added to the Illinois State Fair grandstand lineup is pop star Meghan Trainor. The 20-year-old singer is known for hits like "All About that Bass" and "Lips are Movin'". Ag Spokeswoman Rebecca Clark says that she is the right act at the right price.

 

 

Clark notes she brings more than hit songs, there is some beneficial substance in addition to her style.

 

 

Tickets are expected to go on sale in mid May.

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MAP and University Funding May Move Forward

Colleges and universities in the state continue to wait for money owed to them since the start of the school year and some are on life support. But a few plans to address the lack of state funding for schools and MAP grants are starting to come out of the legislature. One plan has full funding going to WIU, EIU, Chicago State and Northeastern along with five percent of funding going to SIU-C.

 

But Rep. Mike Fortner a West Chicago Republican wants to send all nine public universities a third of their promised funding. In all is more that $550 million in spending. Fortner says right now schools won’t make it till fall.

 

 

Fortner acknowledges that this is a far from perfect plan but one that should be able to get schools through the rest of this year and let them be able to open their doors in August.

 

 

Statewide Eastern and Chicago State are seen as in the worst shape. Fortner also included a plan that would fund one semester of MAP grants to low income students. That’s not in the plan from Rep. Rita Mayfield. Fortner wants the money to pay for this swept from the Education Assistance Fund. 

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Fantasy Sports Bill Advances

Fantasy sports may be made up of make believe teams but the money won and lost on them is real and state lawmakers are working to find a path to legalization.

 

A panel of House lawmakers approved legislation to legalize online daily fantasy sports wagering. The bill would have the Illinois Gaming Board oversee the contests and the businesses that run them.

 

The state is also seeking to charge the operators a licensing fee based on revenue.

The new regulations would forbid employees of daily fantasy sports teams from playing in the games and would bar anyone under 21 from playing.

 

Now that the bill is out of committee it needs to advance on to another vote in the House. 

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Remaining Okaw Valley Schools Join New Conference

Officials from the Corn Belt and Okaw Valley Conferences announced the approval of their merger to form the Illini Prairie Conference.

 

The new conference begins play during the 2017-18 school year and brings together the following high schools: Central Catholic (Bloomington), Illinois Valley Central (Chillicothe), Olympia (Stanford), Pontiac, and Prairie Central (Fairbury) from the Corn Belt Conference and The High School of St. Thomas More (Champaign), Monticello, Rantoul, St. Joseph-Ogden (St. Joseph), and Unity (Tolono) from the Okaw Valley Conference.

 

In February, principals and athletic directors from all ten schools voted unanimously to explore the creation of a new conference. The proposal was then taken back to each school's Superintendent and Board of Education for consideration at the schools’ March Board meetings where unanimous approval was again secured leading to today’s announcement.

 

The current presidents of the Corn Belt and Okaw Valley conferences are excited about both the academic and athletic aspects of the Illini Prairie Conference. Sean Foster, Principal of Central Catholic High School and President of the Corn Belt Conference says, “The new conference is exciting not only from an athletic standpoint, but also from an academic standpoint. Both conferences bring an appreciation of Fine Arts and professional development for our teachers.”

 

Ryan Bustle, Principal of The High School of St. Thomas More and President of the Okaw Valley Conference adds, “The Illini Prairie Conference offers opportunities for all of our students to excel. It was formed with the goals of strong competition and sportsmanship on the field and strong cooperation and teamwork inside the classroom.”

 

The conference was named after the student bodies of all participating schools chose their favorite conference names and submitted them for consideration by the principals. Illini Prairie was the unanimous choice.

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Wrestling Programs Among Recognitions From Clinton BOE Meeting

The Clinton Junior and Senior High School wrestling programs were among the highlights of a plethora of recognitions before the Clinton Board of Education Tuesday night.

 

The Clinton Junior High School sent two wrestlers to the IESA state meet. Head Coach Bob Hill says 8th graders Micah Downs and Keagan Dyer had terrific seasons to cap their junior high school careers.

 

 

At the high school, freshman Christian Reynolds made the state tournament and head coach Matt Cooper says that is quite an accomplishment, and looks forward to big things as Reynolds continues to move through the system.

 

 

Clinton Elementary teacher Mr. Jarred Leeper leads the Contig program (Right) at the elementary school and presented a group of students that will be at a math strategy competition. The students had the opportunity to present the game to the Board of Education and demonstrate how it is played.

 

Additionally, Clinton High School envirothon team was recognized for their qualification to the state tournament in Monticello. 

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Springfield Restaurant Owner Doesn't Trust Lawmakers With More Money

A Springfield restaurant owner says the state should live within its means instead of proposing a progressive income tax.

 

Charlie Parker’s Diner Owner/Operator Mike Murphy says he understands the state needs money but wants to ensure any tax increase goes to fix Illinois’ mounting problems, not fund new programs.

 

 

Murphy says he doesn’t trust lawmakers to do the right thing. Murphy also says there would be no incentive to grow in Illinois if the state’s Constitution is changed to allow for progressive tax rates to be determined by law year to year.

 

 

Murphy has been in business since 1992. He employs 23 people in Springfield. 

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Illinois Chamber of Commerce Says Progressive Tax Punishes Success

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says a progressive income tax punishes success.

 

Northeastern Illinois Democratic state Sen. Don Harmon says that’s just angry rhetoric. Harmon says the pending proposal to tax income of up to $100,000 at 3.5 percent would be a tax cut for most small businesses.

 

 

Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch (MY-shh) says that kind of thinking takes away the incentive for success and job creation.

 

 

The tax is expected to generate $1.9 billion in new revenue. It would tax anyone in Illinois making more than $500,000 a year at 8.75 percent. That includes businesses that file as individuals. The current individual tax rate is 3.75 percent.
 

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Group Seeking Animal Adoptions Post Animal Testing

The Beagle Freedom Project is seeking a way to get a home to animals used in medical testing procedures. Right now some of those dogs, generally beagles, are put up for adoption.

 

But a broader effort is underway to get the Research Animal Protection Bill, passed that would compel local labs to reach out to a local shelter to see if a dog or cat could be put up for adoption. Kevin Chase says there are a few informal adoption programs around the state and they’d like to see a more formal process set up.

 

 

Chase says that shelters are ready to take the dogs or cats in and they can make great pets once they are done.
 

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Entry Fees Increasing At State Fair

Chances are you will be paying more to get into this year’s Illinois State Fair. The Illinois Department of Agriculture is raising the price of admission to $10 most days for adults, that’s up from $7. But kids 12 and under are now going to be free – last year they were $3 to get in.

 

A few other changes are coming. The unofficial first day of the fair, the Thursday of the Twilight Parade will no longer be free and now seen as an official day of the fair. Adults will pay $5 to enter that day along with the final Sunday of the fair. Seniors pay $2 on each of those days.

 

The Department of Ag has also bumped up the price to park on the grounds; weekend parking - Friday’s and Saturday’s will be $10 and the rest of the time it will be $5. The IDOA says they looked at surrounding fairs and found they were on the low end of admissions and given the state’s current budget situation they wanted to be more cost efficient with running the fair. 

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COGFA Wants New Capital Plan

The Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability says it’s time for a new public works plan – and new tax dollars to pay for it.

 

COGFA Executive Director Dan Long says a 2010 capital program has run out of resources.

CAPITAL PLAN 1a   :08   CUE: “of that nature”

 

Long says new revenue would help pay for bond debt to fund projects.

 

CATO Institute Economist Chris Edwards says governments should steer clear of selling bonds.

 

 

Edwards says states with high amounts of debt such as Illinois should cut other areas of the budget to pay for infrastructure improvements. 

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Active Week For Legislation on Future of Lt. Governor

Legislation giving voters a chance to decide if the Lt Governor's office should stay or go could take big leaps forward this week. State Senator Tom Cullerton expects a floor vote on Thursday, paving the way for a Constitutional amendment that would turn up on the November ballot.

 

Eliminating the office would save 1.6 million dollars. While it wouldn't exactly solve the state budget crisis, Cullerton says it's not hard to add up the benefits.

 

 

The Lt. Governor's office took the fast track to irrelevance when the state constitution was updated in 1970. That stripped the Lt. Governor of the role of President of the Senate.

 

The low water mark came when Lt. Governor Dave O'Neal cited boredom as his reason for leaving office during the Thompson Administration.

There was one noteworthy moment in recent years as Lt. Governor Pat Quinn succeeded Rod Blagojevich after his impeachment. 

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Eastern Illinois Food Bank To Be In Clinton Wednesday

The Eastern Illinois Food Bank is an organization aimed at finding those in need in east-central Illinois and providing them with healthy meals.

 

Their mobile food pantry will be making a stop in Clinton Wednesday as a part of several other stops over the next several weeks. Kristen Boesch is the Food Bank's Vice President and explains their mobile food pantry provides families with meals for seven days.

 

Cut 1: mobilefood1  :66  CUE: the food

 

Wednesday's distribution at the Nazarene Church will be from 3 pm to 4:30 pm. Boesch explains it is not all canned goods they are distributing, as they get a majority of their food from retailers.

 

Cut 2: mobilefood2  :52  CUE: distribution

 

Along with Wednesday's distribution, there will be other distributions coming up April 30 at First Christian Church in Clinton as well as May at the American Legion.

 

For more information about the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, the pantries they distribute to or any drives happening near you, visit their website at www.eifoodbank.org where there is an interactive map of all the food banks near you. You can also call 217-328-3663 for further information. 

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Clinton Veteran Attending Honor Flight Today

The Honor Flight is an organization that has locally worked to find veterans to visit the many sites of Washington, D.C. that honors veterans of several United State's wars.

 

Several Clinton residents have been fortunate enough to go on the trip and today, one Clinton resident is on it. Local advocate for the Honor Flight, Jeff Morlock explains the trip is all in a day for veterans.

 

 

Morlock will be the guardian for Dennis Davenport of Clinton today. Morelock explains he's made this trip before and simply wants to give veterans the chance at this opportunity. Like many trips in the past, Morelock has arranged for a special welcome once they return to Springfield.

 

 

Morlock encourages anyone who knows a veteran who has not yet made this trip to reach out to them and encourage them to make the trip. He indicates if there are veterans and their families that cannot afford the trip, he will find a means for the trip to be paid for.

 

To learn more about the Honor Flight program, you can contact Morlock locally at 217-853-2530. You can also visit landoflincolnhonorflight.com or find them in Springfield by contacting John Dust at 309-339-0227. 

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Clinton Power Station Passes Capacity Test; Future Still Uncertain

The Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power station passed a recent test to ensure enough power generation resources are available to meet demand in the region.

 

According to Brett Nauman, Communications Manager at the Power Plant, MISO is essentially a non-profit distributor of the power for Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power Station, along with hundreds of station's like Clinton's across the country.

 

 

While the power plant passed the results, Nauman indicates it does not change much in the future outlook of the power plant. He explains the plant continues to be unprofitable and without urgent action, the plant will have to be shut down.

 

 

Little movement is being made in Springfield. Nauman encourages sharing the message of the power station and it's impacts on the community with your neighbors AND your legislators. He feels the message is not resonating with those in Springfield.

 

Last week, Representative Bill Mitchell equated the 600 jobs at the plant to 15-thousand jobs in Chicago and called on Speaker Mike Madigan and the legislature to come together and pass legislation to keep Exelon in central Illinois. 

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Weekly Crop Report

CORN PLANTING IS ON TRACK IN ILLINOIS…THANKS TO A WARM AND DRY WEEK.

 

LAST WEEK WAS PRETTY MILD…GIVING PRODUCERS TIME TO WORK IN THE FIELDS SAYS STATE CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.

 

 

67 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN PLANTED AND 1 ONE PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP HAS NOW HEADED.

 

 

66 PERCENT OF THE WHEAT CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE DECLINED AND NOW STANDS AT ONE PERCENT VERY SHORT…NINE PERCENT SHORT…74 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 16 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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American Idol Runner-Up Coming To Clinton

The American Idol Season 10 runner-up is coming to Clinton this June.

 

Lauren Alaina will be in Clinton on June 11 for the first of three concerts on the square as announced by Clinton Commissioner Nan Crang Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting.

 

 

In an effort to benefit groups and businesses of the community, food and beverages will be a part of the event on the square. Crang explains there will be alcohol served but there will strict measures taken because the event is free.

 

 

The opening act will be Green Diamond Express with Alaina to perform at 8 pm.

 

Again the Summer Concert Series: Music on Main and Center will be June 11. There will be two additional concerts in July then again in September. Acts for those have not yet been announced.

 

Hear from Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell on the concerts on Regional Radio News on Tuesday morning at 9:30 am.

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Local Authorities Discuss Child Abuse

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and recently local authorities spoke with Regional Radio News about the issue from a national perspective and how they deal with it locally.

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates the City of Clinton falls pretty close to in line with the national statistics when it comes to abuse of children. He says when a case of abuse comes in, it is something they take very seriously.

 

 

Detective Todd Ummell says when it comes to abuse in DeWitt County, it is mostly targeted at children and it is of a sexual nature.

 

 

Detective Ummell points out, the perpetrators in cases like these are often known. He explains they often don't have seek out suspects and learn the identities, however, he says that also comes with a difficulty to get information from perpetrators, which makes them hard cases to prove.

 

 

There is a very delicate process to go through to get as much information out of the child, who is the alleged victim in these cases. Detective Ummell says they have a great relationship with the Children's Advocacy Center, who has a satellite office in Clinton.

 

Later this week on Regional Radio News, learn about that process and the careful steps law enforcement and other entities go through during the investigative process. 

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Social Security Encourages Those Needing New Cards to Come Directly to Them

The issuing of social security cards can often be confusing for a consumer to the point some believe they need to pay for a service to get them a replacement card.

 

According to Jack Myers, with Social Security, the issuance of a replacement card is absolutely free through any office. He explains, far too often they are finding people are paying for a service that is free through any office you can get access to.

 

 

Social Security encourages keeping your Social Security card in a secure location as anyone's access to that could lead to identity theft. With that in mind, Myers indicates they have put restrictions on how many you can request per year and in a lifetime.

 

 

Myers indicates the services offering to replace your social security cards are not actually a scam because most will inform you they are not affiliated with Social Security, but he calls it an unnecessary expense if that is something you choose to pay for.

 

For more information on Social Security cards and replacements, visit socialsecurity.gov. 

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Wanted Hammond, IN Man Pulled Dies of Self-Inflicted Gun Shot Wound

Saturday, an Illinois State Police Trooper was southbound on Interstate 55 and identified a gold Chevrolet Impala driven by a male suspect wanted in a Hammond, Indiana homicide case. 

 

The Trooper followed the Chevrolet and attempted a traffic stop near the Market Street exit in Bloomington, Illinois.  The Chevrolet stopped but the lone male occupant refused to exit the car.  A shot was fired from within the Chevrolet and the occupant was found deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  No officers fired their weapons. 

 

Illinois State Police Zone 5, Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services, and the McLean County Coroner’s Office are investigating. 

McLean County Coroner Dr. Kathy Davis is releasing the following information with regard to the above incident.

An autopsy was conducted yesterday.

The name of the decedent is being withheld at this time pending further notification of family.

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Slightly Cooler Week Expected After Monday

You don't get a much better weekend than we saw in central Illinois. Today we can expect that trend to continue, but State Climotologist Jim Angel says we're in for a slight cool down after today.

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Lawmakers To Wait For Pay

The state owes billions and billions in unpaid bills and now those waiting for overdue checks will include legislators.

 

On Sunday Comptroller Leslie Munger announced that she would start treating paying salaries for the General Assembly and Constitutional officers the same as other governmental payments. That means they will be delayed. Munger says that the line is a long one to wait in and the salaries of 177 individuals isn’t a huge amount of money, $1.3 million a month, but it’s a sign that everyone is in the budget stalemate together.

 

 

The payment vouchers will go in each month but now they will follow in line with other payments to social service agencies, businesses and other vendors waiting for payment. Lawmakers get paid once and month at the end of the month. As the state’s backlog currently state payments are delayed a minimum of 2 months.

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Local Groups Teaming Up For 2nd Annual Bike Blessing

The second annual Bike Blessing will take place on the downtown Clinton Square Sunday morning.

 

President of Guardians of the Children bike group, Dan Moore, the event is essentially and outreach opportunity and a way for bikers to get the biking season off on the right foot.

 

 

The event kicks off at 11 am and runs to 2 pm with the blessing to begin at 1 pm.

 

The event is free and is hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Clinton. There will also be live music. 

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IDOT Launches New Campaign

IT’S WORK ZONE SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK AND STATE POLICE AND TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS ARE HOPING FOR A FATALITY-FREE CONSTRUCTION SEASON.

 

THE THEME THIS YEAR IS “DON’T BE THAT DRIVER”…THE DRIVER THAT PUTS THEIR OWN LIVES AND THE LIVES OF HIGHWAY WORKERS AT RISK. STATE POLICE MASTER SERGEANT MATT BOERWINKLE SAYS DISTRACTED DRIVING IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS.

 

 

SERGEANT BOERWINKLE SAYS THEY'RE USING THEIR RESOURCES TO HELP KEEP PEOPLE SAFE.

 

 

EXPERTS SAYS USING YOUR CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING DECREASES BRAKE TIME BY 18 PERCENT AND CAUSES A 25 PERCENT INCREASE IN ERRATIC DRIVING.

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Bill Requires Lawyer To Be Present When Interrogating Teens in Murder Investigations

LEGISLATION PENDING IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE AIMS TO PROTECT TEENS WHO ARE BEING INTERROGATED BY POLICE.

 

CURRENT STATE LAW MANDATES THAT CHILDREN 12 AND YOUNGER BEING QUESTIONED IN A MURDER INVESTIGATION HAVE A LAWYER PRESENT. SENATOR PATRICIA VAN PELT OF CHICAGO WANTS TO EXPAND THE LAW, SAYING TEENAGE SUSPECTS NEED THE SAME GUIDANCE AND PROTECTIONS.

 

 

THE MEASURE SUPPORTED BY SENATOR MATTIE HUNTER OF CHICAGO WOULD MAKE SURE THAT APPLIES TO TEENAGERS AS WELL.

 

 

VAN PELT HOPES THE FULL SENATE WILL PASS HER BILL SOMETIME NEXT WEEK.

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STDs On Rise in Illinois

SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES ARE ON THE RISE IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WITH CHLAMYDIA AND SYPHILIS INCREASED IN 2014..AND STATE PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MELANEY ARNOLD SAYS SOME SEGMENTS OF THE POPULATION WERE AFFECTED MORE THAN OTHERS.

 

 

ARNOLD HAS THESE PREVENTION TIPS...

 

 

CASES OF GONORRHEA WERE DOWN IN 2014. ARNOLD SAYS THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT YOURSELF IS TO REDUCE YOUR NUMBER OF PARTNERS AND USE CONDOMS. YOU CAN ALSO BE VACCINATED AGAINST TWO OTHER SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES…HEPATITIS B AND H-P-V.

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30 Recognized at 2016 Governor's Volunteer Service Awards

30 INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES ARE BEING RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER EFFORTS IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE WINNERS OF THE 2016 GOVERNOR’S VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARDS INCLUDE A 91 YEAR OLD WOMAN WHO WORKS WITH DISADVANTAGED YOUTH AND A SEVEN YEAR OLD BOY WHO COLLECTED THOUSANDS OF SOCKS FOR THE HOMELESS. GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS THIS IS THE KIND OF INITIATIVE WE NEED.

 

 

SCOTT MCFARLAND, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SERVE ILLINOIS COMMISSION, SAYS ILLINOIS IS HOME TO TWO POINT FIVE MILLION VOLUNTEERS.

 

 

TO FIND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES NEAR YOU…VISIT THE WEBSITE: serve.illinois.gov

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Clinton Lake Hosting Collegiate Regatta Tournament

Clinton Lake will be the host to a collegiate regatta tournament this Saturday.

 

The University of Illinois Regatta Club, or rowing team, is hosting a dozen different midwest college teams this weekend at Clinton Lake. President of the Club, Elizabeth Diamond indicates they have been in existence at the U of I for four years and have tried to grow their community of teams in that time.

 

 

The season is a lot like a cross-country or track season. Diamond explains they have a brief fall season, a winter season, and their main season is in the spring. She indicates this weekend's meet is one last tuneup before a national competitions.

 

 

12 teams will converge on Clinton Lake at the Parnell Access area. Diamond indicates schools include University of Chicago, Missouri, Cleveland State, St. Thomas, St. Louis University, Xavier, Margquette, Kansas State, Northwestern, North Park, and Wheaton.

 

Diamond says around 400 athletes will be there and they are expecting a good turn out. 

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Rep. Mitchell Calls on Speaker To Address Clinton Power Station

If it was 600 jobs on the line in Chicago, you can bet Speaker Mike Madigan would be on the ball making sure those jobs stayed put.

 

That's what State Representative Bill Mitchell equates the Clinton Nuclear Power plant to. He says the Speaker needs to address keeping the station open as it nears a deadline for closure.

 

 

The 600 jobs in DeWitt County at the power plant not only make it the largest employer in the County, but Rep. Mitchell says it is vital to the economy of central Illinois.

 

 

Rep. Mitchell also points out if the power plant were to close down, electric bills across the area "would go sky high".

 

 

Dozens of DeWitt County residents rallied in Springfield last summer in an effort to keep not only Exelon's plant in Clinton open, but those across the state.

 

Little movement has been made in Springfield in an effort to bring nuclear power in line with the rest of the industry. 

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Madigan Takes Gloves Off in Budget Scrap With Rauner

At times he's been robotic and has continued to use a hushed tone in driving home familiar themes about seeking moderation and avoiding the extreme in the budget process. House Speaker Michael Madigan took the gloves off in his long running feud with Governor Bruce Rauner.

 

Madigan told lawmakers this week that he has a long running record of compromise with Governors of both parties. An animated Madigan blamed Rauner for the budget impasse and he said the political playbook was years in the making.

 

 

Madigan cited remarks that referenced a pivotal moment in government/union relations, former President Reagan's decision to fire more than 11,000 striking air traffic controllers.

 

 

This week's meeting of Rauner, Madigan and the remaining legislative leaders offered no sign of progress toward a budget deal.

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Jobs Added in March But Unemployment Rate Climbs

STATE UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS ARE IN AND MARCH PRESENTED A GOOD NEWS-BAD NEWS SCENARIO.

 

THE BAD NEWS IS THAT THE ILLINOIS JOBLESS RATE INCHED UP TO SIX POINT FIVE PERCENT LAST MONTH. THE NATIONAL AVERAGE WAS FIVE PERCENT. ON THE FLIPSIDE, STATE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ANALYST EVELINA LOESCHER SAYS ILLINOIS DID SEE AN INCREASE OF 14 THOUSAND 700 JOBS.

 

 

SO WHAT’S WITH THE NUMBERS?

 

 

JOB GAINS IN MARCH WERE SEEN IN LEISURE AND HOSPITAL AND CONSTRUCTION. THE BIGGEST JOB LOSSES WERE IN THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY.

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House Votes To Suspend License Plate Fees

The Illinois House wants to give drivers used to expiring license plate reminder notices a break.

 

The House has passed a measure to suspend fines for drivers whose license plate stickers are out of date until the state resumes mailing out reminder notices.

 

The legislation passed unanimously and will now head to the Illinois Senate.

 

The state has collected more than $5 million in fines since the beginning of the year, nearly double what was collected at the same time last year.

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Clinton Save-A-Lot Construction Begins

 

About a month after the formal ground breaking, the backhoe began digging the footings this week for what will be the new Clinton Save-A-Lot store at the corner of Monroe and Washington Streets.

Store owner Dave Jackson told Regional Radio News that construction began on Wednesday of this week.

Jackson added that footings have been dug.

The new 18-thousand square foot store is expected to be open late this fall. 

Photos by Dave Jackson.  Below is Chuck Nelson, owner of Nelson Excavating running the backhoe.

 

 

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DeWitt County Group Hosting Local Musical Talents

A local group has put together a special program this weekend showcasing the musical talents of local residents.

 

As a part of a free event, Friends in Action of DeWitt County is hosting a fundraising concert. Myra Stroud is president of the Friends in Action Board and explains this is something she's wanted to do for a long time.

 

 

Friends in Action is a volunteer based not-for-profit group helping residents 60 and older maintain independence through a variety of means. Stroud explains they do this through in-home visits to car rides to the doctor or pharmacy.

 

 

One way Friends in Action is most visible is the construction of ramps for the disabled in the community. If you drive past a home with a ramp at the front porch, it was likely constructed by Friends in Action.

 

 

The concert for Friends in Action is Sunday afternoon at 3 pm at the Nazarene Church on Kleemann Drive.

 

An offering will be taken to benefit Friends in Action and their mission of serving those in need in Clinton and DeWitt County.

 

For more information on Friends in Action, contact their office in the DeWitt County Friendship Center at 217-855-6036. 

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Crimestoppers Seeks Information in Residential Burglary

The Clinton Police Department is seeking your help and information in solving a residential burglary and Criminal Damage to Property.  

 

On or around April 12 2016, the Clinton Police Department responded to a report of a residential burglary that occurred on the 100 block of the East Side of Mr. Lincoln’s Square.

    

During this burglary suspect or suspects forcibly made entry to an upper floor residence that was in the final stages of restoration and remodeling.  Once inside, suspects proceeded to commit an extensive amount of damage to the property by smashing holes in most of the drywall, breaking windows, damaging bathroom fixtures and destroying PVC plumbing.  

     

Crimestoppers will pay a cash reward of up to $1000.00 when a felony arrest is made as a result of information that you have provided.  Anyone with any information regarding this Criminal Damage to Property or any other crimes or wanted fugitives is asked to contact the Clinton Area Crime stoppers at 217-935-3333.

 

Remember as always; our phone line is not recorded and does not utilize caller identification.

We don’t want your name, just your information.

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WHOW/WEZC/DeWittDailyNews.com Representatives Tour Clinton Power Plant

Representatives from Regional Radio News and DeWittDailyNews.com took a brief tour of the Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power Station Monday afternoon.

 

Led by Communications Manager Brett Nauman, the tour included emergency diesel generators, the fuel pool, and the spent fuel used at Clinton Power Station. Nauman notes, the spent fuel pool is not very big indicating just how efficient the plant is.

 

 

The appeal of nuclear energy is the efficiency of the production and Nauman says the pool they store their used fuel is roughly 20-feet by 20-feet. He indicates that is one of the cleanest ways to produce energy, and it's been that way for nearly 30-years.

 

 

For security reasons, pictures of the inside of the plant could not be taken. The tour took roughly one hour.

 

Plant officials discussed the inner-workings of the plant that happen throughout the day and the many contingencies in place in the event of emergencies or natural disasters. 

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Warner Library Hosting Big Weekend

The Warner Public Library's Friends of the Library is hosting their semi-annual book sale this weekend but it will be coinciding with a spring event they have as well.

 

Janet Ward with the Warner Library explains the book sale kicks off Friday and concludes Saturday afternoon. She says this is also a good time to learn more about the fundraising arm of the library.

 

 

Last year, organizers introduced a first ever seed library and librarian Paula Lopatic says they are bringing this back this weekend. She explains there 300 variety of seeds from vegetables to herbs to flowers and patrons can "check out" packets and there is a process to return them.

 

 

The seed library is a free service and will be on the main floor of the library.

Lopatic indicates the Friends are huge supporters of their summer reading club and much of the money they use to suppor the program comes from their book sales which happen twice a year.

 

Library staff are anticipating a busy weekend at 310 North Quincy Street. 

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State Rep. Calls Funding Bill "Cruel Hoax"

A local representative Tuesday called the latest funding bill proposed by House Speaker Mike Madigan "a cruel hoax on the people of Illinois".

 

State Representative Dan Brady asked the Speaker how he planned to pay for a spending bill that totaled $3.89-billion. He pled for everyone to come together to do the budget process properly.

 

 

Many on the Republican side of the aisle said what took place was not compromise or fiscal responsibility but rather just another partisan spending bill filled with empty promises for students, universities, community colleges, social service providers and our most vulnerable citizens.

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Congressman Davis Says Rural Families Would Subsidize Urban Transportation if Charged Per Mile

Charging drivers a tax per mile would force rural families to subsidize urban transportation, a central Illinois congressman said.

 

Illinois Senate Bill 3279 would give Illinois drivers three options to pay road taxes beginning July 2025: Pay a flat rate based on 30,000 miles a year, report miles by reading an odometer or use an electronic location device to track miles.


Republican Congressman Rodney Davis says taxing miles driven rather than a per-gallon gas tax would affect families in his district more than families in urban areas.

 

 

However, Davis said ultimately it’s up to state governments.

 

Democratic Congressman Bill Foster of Naperville said in an email, "This type of legislation would be unnecessary if the federal government altered the unfair funding formulas … that return $89 per Illinoisan each year when each Alaskan gets $609." 

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Gov. Rauner Calls Running the State 'Hand to Hand Combat'

As rank and file lawmakers quietly join each other in meetings to work on the budget stalemate, Governor Bruce Rauner isn’t letting go of his campaign’s Turn Around Agenda.

 

Gov. Rauner in front of a large group of business owners and leaders in Springfield says it’s the Democrats trying to hold funding for schools and social services hostage to further their agenda of a tax hike with no reforms to promote growth.

 

 

Rauner says his Turn Around Agenda will push Illinois to the front of the nation in economic growth. And growth will allow Illinois to overcome current budgetary problems.

 

 

Rauner followed up those comments with a closed door meeting between himself and the four legislative leaders. 

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Madigan Spokesman Says Time is of Essence on College Funding

The end of the spring semester is a little festive than usual at Illinois public colleges and universities. While this time of year is known for commencement speakers and caps and gowns, many state schools are like a driver trying to reach the next gas station on fumes.

 

The spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan, Steve Brown, says college funding needs to get rolling again soon and not just for the good of the colleges and universities themselves.

 

 

Chicago State University in particular is concerned about its ability to keep students and even stay open as higher education continues to feel some of the worst pain of the ten month old budget impasse.

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Lawmakers Discuss Taxes During Forum

Just what kind of new taxes could be in Illinois taxpayers’ future? Several state lawmakers outlined their ideas for tax increases during a forum Monday.

 

Democratic state Senator Heather Steans said Illinois needs a progressive income tax similar to how the federal government taxes income. She also said the state needs spending cuts alongside more revenue.

 

 

Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison said Illinois should steer clear of taxing a specific group of people.

 

 

Morrison said if increasing taxes alone were the fix, it would have been done already. He insisted on economic reforms the governor has said would help grow the economy and the tax base.

 

The forum was sponsored by Truth In Accounting and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

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Tax Ideas Range From Progressive Tax To Lower Burden Altogether

Some Democratic state lawmakers think part of the budget solution is a progressive income tax while some Republicans believe economic growth is the key.

 

During a forum Monday featuring eight state lawmakers, Democratic state Rep. Greg Harris proposed ending corporate tax loopholes, broadening sales taxes to include financial transactions, and taking money from special funds, among others proposals to increase revenue.

 

 

Democratic Sen. Heather Steans also said she supports a progressive tax increase.

However, Republican state Rep. Patti Bellock said increasing taxes on a shrinking tax base is the wrong way to go, especially with high property taxes in the mix.

 

 

Republican Senator Matt Murphy said he doesn’t like the idea of tax increases but said Republicans, including the governor, will support them if they are part of a good deal on economic reforms to grow the economy. 

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State Rep. Questions Supreme Court Justices Pay

Are Illinois Supreme Court justices overpaid? That’s the question one state senator had for a court representative during a committee hearing last week.

 

North Aurora Republican state Senator Jim Oberweis said a recent report from The National Center for State Courts indicates Illinois’ Supreme Court justices, at nearly $221,000 a year, are the second highest paid in the country.

 

 

Michael Tardy, director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, said because Illinois is the fifth most populous state, he believes compensation levels for justices are appropriate.

 

 

Oberweis asked Tardy whether justices, as state employees, have a conflict of interest when they rule on issues regarding state employee pay and benefits. Tardy said he wasn’t qualified to comment on that matter. 

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Local Business Receives Company Awards

A local business received a number of awards given out to outstanding agencies within their company.

 

The Peterson Insurance Agency in Clinton received four awards recently and owner Jay Peterson says it's a the second year in a row they've swept the awards but it is rare to receive all four awards in the same year.

 

 

Peterson credits his staff for their dedication to their clients and customers and also feels the partnership with Pekin Insurance is a huge asset to their company.

 

 

Peterson Insurance is celebrating their 50th year in business in 2016 and Peterson adds it speaks to the longevity of the company and the work they've done.

 

 

Peterson Insurance Agency in Clinton is located at 117 West Main Street in downtown Clinton. 

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Budget Impacts For DNR Becoming 'Ridiculous'

The budget impasse in Springfield is starting to take its toll on many, many agencies and entities that rely on state funding.

 

Some are becoming so severe they are forcing major cuts and even some face shutdowns. DNR Conservation Police Officer John Williamson says the budget impasse is leaving their offices facing "ridiculous" alternatives to basic tasks.

 

 

Williamson notes, tightening their belts and making the most of every dollar is nothing new for the Department of Natural Resources, but this is something they've never experienced before.

 

 

Williamson says a lack of enforcement from a Department of Natural Resources presence means no boats on Clinton Lake or anyother body of water. He says that means when accidents happen, fire protection districts or County sheriff's deputies taking care of those calls.

He hopes it does not come to that, but wouldn't say it is not a possibility at this point. 

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Weekly Crop Report

THE BELOW NORMAL APRIL TEMPERATURES ARE DELAYING PLANTING A BIT IN ILLINOIS.

 

MANY FARMERS ARE WAITING UNTIL THE SOIL WARMS TO BEGIN PLANTING IN EARNEST SAYS STATE CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.

 

 

SCHLEUSENER SAYS TWO PERCENT OF CORN AND 32 PERCENT OF OATS ARE IN THE GROUND. AS FOR OTHER CROPS.

 

 

AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE CAME IN AT TWO PERCENT SHORT…74 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 24 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Independent Maps Coalition Plans Next Steps

The group that wants to change the way the State of Illinois draws legislative districts says they’re close to having 600-thousand voter signatures in an effort to put the question on the November ballot.

 

The Independent Maps Coalition says it now has more a half million voter signatures to do so. Dave Mellet (MEL-it) serves as the campaign manager for the coalition and explains the group’s next step.

 

 

Mellet adds poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University showed 64 percent of respondents favor the effort to overhaul the way state legislative districts are drawn and talks about the message the Independent Maps coalition plans to use with Illinois voters.

 

 

If it achieves 60-percent voter approval, the Independent Map Amendment to the Illinois Constitution would establish a non-partisan, independent commission to draw legislative districts.

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Clinton Public Works Department To Take on Extra Tasks This Summer

The Clinton City Public Works Department will soon be in full swing on their summer maintenance work and the leader of the streets department indicates the city is set to take on more work this summer.

 

Twice as much street surface area is about how much more work the city will take on according to Public Works Director Steve Lobb. He notes the city is in a position they can take on more work.

 

 

Lobb indicates once the weather breaks, on top of the work they have planned not a part of the summer maintenance, they will get to work because there is a lot to do.

 

 

Funds are generally made available for summer maintenance work, which totals around $100-thousand. Lobb says the Motor Fuel Tax funds are already earmarked, but there is an infrastructure fund that has allowed the city to expand their budget.

 

 

Lobb says most of the summer maintenance work will be oil and chip as in years past, but they are going to have more areas of the community to be able to work on.

Regional Radio News will have more on this as the time nears for the work to begin. 

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DNR Officials Asking for Hunters To Be Safe This Week

An overlap in a couple of hunting seasons that open this week have DNR officials asking those who will be active to be cautious as they are out at Clinton Lake.

 

John Williamson is a DNR Conservation Police Officer and indicates turkey season opens today and coinciding with that is mushroom hunting season. Because of that, the times for harvesting are different during the day at Clinton Lake.

 

 

Where officials run into issues is when mushroom hunters are out before the the time slot to mushroom hunt, and they have run-ins with turkey hunters. Williamson indicates, it is the safest practice to come out and mushroom only during the times designated.

 

 

In addition to the hunters that might be out at Clinton Lake sites, Williamson also notes they have frequent issues with those walking in the North Fork area of Clinton Lake. He says the walking and bike trail in that part of the County shuts down during the morning hours of turkey season, which is much to the disappointment of the regulars out there.

 

 

Williamson says mushroom hunting at Clinton Lake is extremely popular. He also notes if you want to turkey hunt at Clinton Lake, you need a Clinton Lake turkey permit.

 

He indicates turkey hunting isn't the biggest season at Clinton Lake but there is enough interest to make it a safety hazard.

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April Starting Out Cold, Wet

APRIL HAS BEEN OFF TO A COLD, WET START IN ILLINOIS.

 

AFTER THE 10TH WARMEST MARCH ON RECORD…APRIL HAS BEEN A DISAPPOINTMENT SO FAR SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL.

 

 

ANGEL SAYS NEXT WEEK SHOULD BE A LITTLE WARMER, BUT THERE IS STILL A CHANCE OF FROST ON TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY.

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Durbin Presses For Garland Hearing

Late last week President Barack Obama took to a room at the University of Chicago Law School to meet with students and plead the case for his Supreme Court nominee to get a hearing in front of the US Senate.

 

US Senator Dick Durbin say that it’s the wrong for the Republicans to be standing in the way of Merrick Garland; he says in 1988 the Senate Democrats gave the Republicans much more consideration when an opening happened during a lame duck year for then President Ronald Regan.

 

 

Durbin believes Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is wrong for standing in the way of a Supreme Court nominee. According to Durbin, the President is still very much within his right to have his choice reviewed for the Supreme Court.

 

 

Durbin says if a hearing isn’t held and a justice isn’t nominated until after the elections this will be the longest the court will be without a full bench since the Civil War.

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Weekly Weather Summary

April started out with a cold and raining start, but this week is shaping up to be much warmer. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more.

 

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Bill bans the sale of bobcat pelts and trapping bobcats in Illinois.

YOU CAN HUNT BOBCATS…BUT YOU CAN’T SELL THEIR FUR UNDER LEGISLATION PENDING IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE.

 

BOBCAT HUNTING WAS RECENTLY LEGALIZED IN ILLINOIS…AND THIS LEGISLATION PROHIBITS THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF THEIR PELTS. MIKE STEVENS WITH THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SAYS THEY ARE AGAINST THE BAN.

 

 

THE RETURN OF BOBCAT HUNTING HAS PROMPTED THE BILL FROM SENATOR DON HARMON OF OAK PARK. IT MAKES IT ILLEGAL TO SELL OR BUY BOBCAT PELTS IN ILLINOIS…AND ALSO BANS THE USE OF TRAPS TO CATCH THE ANIMAL.

 

 

THE MEASURE PASSED A LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE AND WILL BE HEARD NEXT BEFORE THE FULL SENATE.

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DCFS Reminds that Child Abuse Comes in Many Forms

APRIL IS CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH AND THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS REMINDING THAT ABUSE COMES IN MANY FORMS.

 

CHILD ABUSE INCLUDES PHYSICAL, SEXUAL AND EMOTIONAL ABUSE, AS WELL AS NEGLECT. IN FACT…THE MAJORITY OF CHILD DEATHS ARE THE RESULT OF A PARENT BEING CARELESS SAYS D-C-F-S DIRECTOR GEORGE SHELDON.

 

 

SHELDON SAYS IF YOU SUSPECT A CHILD IS BEING NEGLECTED OR ABUSED…DON’T HESITATE TO CONTACT D-C-F-S

 

 

PREVENTION EFFORTS MAY INCLUDE PARENTING CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS, SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT AND COUNSELING. TO REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE, CALL THE D-C-F-S HOTLINE AT 1-800-25 ABUSE.

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Republican leaders introduce plan to fund human service programs.

ILLINOIS REPUBLICAN LEADERS ARE ANNOUNCING A PLAN TO FUND HUMAN SERVICE PROGRAMS.

 

THE ONE POINT THREE BILLION DOLLAR SPENDING BILL WOULD HELP FUND PROGRAMS FOR SENIORS, VETERANS, THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED AND MENTALLY ILL. IT ALSO SUPPORTS RAPE CRISIS CENTERS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT. SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHRISTINE RADOGNO SAYS THESE SERVICES HAVE TAKEN A BIG HIT DUE TO THE CURRENT BUDGET SITUATION.

 

 

RADOGNO SAYS THE PLAN DEPENDS ON PASSAGE OF OTHER LEGISLATION DESIGNED TO REDUCE PENSION COSTS IN THE SHORT AND LONG TERM.

 

THE LEGISLATION APPROPRIATES MONEY FOR THINGS LIKE COMMUNITY CARE PROGRAMS FOR SENIORS…HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION…AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT. IT’S TIED TO OTHER BILLS TO MAKE SURE THERE IS A WAY TO PAY FOR THE PROGRAMS SAYS HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JIM DURKIN.

 

 

SPECIFICALLY, REPUBLICANS ARE LOOKING AT PENSION REFORMS TO HELP CUT COSTS NOW AND OVER THE LONG TERM. THEY SAY THEY ARE ALSO OPEN TO OTHER IDEAS SUCH AS PROCUREMENT REFORMS AND UTILIZING EXCESS SPECIAL FUNDS TO PAY FOR VITAL PROGRAMS.

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Transportation funding issues growing.

Illinois has a transportation based economy. Roads, bridges, rail, water and air transportation infrastructure are all essential to our economy. Unfortunately the budget problems in the state for years have prevented adequate funds from being allocated to transportation infrastructure and our roads and bridges are crumbling. Don Schaeffer, Exec Vice President of the Midwest Truckers assoc says a planning group out of Chicago has proposed a massive funding proposal.

 

 

The CMAP plan, according to Schaeffer, calls for huge hikes in the motor fuel tax and other fees that look too aggressive, but it is a starting point for discussion. It also calls ofr a an amendment to the state constitution to prohibit Springfield from moving funds from motor fuel taxes to pay other bills, as has been the case recently.


Meanwhile, the Midwest Truckers Assoc is working with other group to come up with their own funding proposals.

 

 

One idea worth investigating, says Schaeffer, is going from a per gallon fuel tax to a mileage tax. The technology is there to do that, but it would have to be a national system and there is little interest in Washington right now to pursue that option.

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Clinton Rotary Hosting Chicken Dinner Take Out Next Week

A group that continuously steps up and provides aid to non-profit groups and various community organizations throughout the year is asking the community to be a part of their efforts next week.

 

The Clinton Rotary Club is one of the most consistent groups in the community, among many, at stepping up time and time again to support area groups. President of the Clinton Rotary Club, Greg Taylor, explains the annual Nelson's Chicken Dinner they do goes back to the local food pantries.

 

 

The Nelson's Chicken Dinner is just one of many ways the Rotary brings in money. He says their member dues help in that effort but they have a tent set up at the annual Apple and Pork Festival, among many other efforts.

 

 

The Nelson's Chicken Dinner is Wednesday, April 13 from 4:30 pm to 6 pm at Clinton Junior High School. Those tickets can be purchased from any Rotarian or by contacting Taylor at First Christian Church in Clinton, at 217-935-3139. 

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National My Social Security Week

A government agency is promoting the individual accounts on their website that can help you in future planning.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security indicates this is "My Social Security" week where the agency is promoting their My Social Security accounts. He explains it is the individualized account for anyone that is free to set up and has a variety of features.

 

 

While it is helpful for those who have yet to receive Social Security benefits of some kind, it is also very useful for those who do. Myers explains a My Social Security can give a beneficiary the means to change any information they need.

 

 

While the My Social Security accounty seems like it would be most utilized by those approaching retirment, Myers indicates younger people should take note of it as well. He says it is never too early to start planning for retirement and Social Security is a big part of that.

 

 

Myers says another aspect of a My Social Security would be to track survivor benefits or disability protection. Myers says essentially these are insurances that are going to be paid for through your taxes. This can be very important for families at almost any stage.

 

 

For younger users, Myers recommends checking things like earnings records and social security statements on an annually basis. He says there is not much need to do so any more often than that.

 

For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

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Local Senator Discusses Spring Session

Sen. Bill Brady predicts the Illinois General Assembly to be headed in the same direction as years past.

 

Sen. Brady says Democrats in the Illinois legislature continue to push for an unbalanced budget and says the Governor will be forced to deal with that.

 

 

Irresponsible is how Sen. Brady describes the super-majority's actions during this time. He says if Democrats want to pass a tax increase to supplement their spending, then Republicans can work with that but he wants a balanced budget.

 

 

Sen. Brady is optimistic a budget can get a budget together in the next two months and that all sides can come together to get something done. As for reforms, the Senator says those things might have to wait but they just want a balance in the priorities. 

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State Fair To Go On Despite No Budget

Despite the budget problems in Springfield, this year’s State Fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin will go on as usual. Kevin Gordon, who manages both fairs for the IDOA says fair vendors, despite not getting fully paid for last year’s work, understand the problem and plan to return this year.

 

 

Meanwhile the proposed State Fair Foundation will not be raising money for operational costs of the two fairs, but will try and raise private funds to maintain and improve infrastructure at the DuQuoin and Springfield grounds.

 

 

Meanwhile, several grandstand acts were announced last Friday, and details of more events, including premium books will be announced fairly soon. 

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Bill Would Keep Police K-9s With Owners After Retirement

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING ON LEGISLATION TO KEEP POLICE DOGS WITH THEIR HANDLERS AFTER RETIREMENT.

 

REPRESENTATIVE SUE SCHERER OF DECATUR IS SPONSORING THE MEASURE…SAYING K-9 COPS SHOULD STAY WITH THEIR HUMAN PARTNER, EVEN AFTER THEY ARE DOING SERVING.

 

 

A SIMILAR BILL IS PENDING IN THE SENATE. BOTH AWAIT VOTES BEFORE THE FULL CHAMBER.

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Durbin Continues To Push For Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing

Senator Dick Durbin met with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland Wednesday.

 

He walked away saying he is only more convinced that Garland is good fit for the nation's high court and deserves a confirmation hearing before the Senate.

 

 

Garland previously met with Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who also says the Senate should hold hearings.

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Clinton Public Works Department To Be Busy This Summer

The theme of the summer in Clinton for the Public Works Department will be street improvements.

 

Public Works Director Steve Lobb indicates there are a number of projects they are going to be taking on this summer, starting with better drainage on Jefferson Street. He says this stems from issues former drainage areas being filled in to compensate for more parking.

 

 

According Lobb, Elm Street from White Street to Main Street will be worked on. He indicates handicap ramps will be added at each corner and they are planning to resurface the road.

 

 

Lobb indicates, he hopes to get these projects going in the next months, though some of it will have to wait until school is out for the summer.

 

 

Lobb says the City is fortunate to be in a position to be able to take on several projects at once this summer.

 

He also indicates thanks to some freed up tax dollars, the Public Works Department will be taking on more summer maintenance work. We'll have more on this next week on Regional Radio News.

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Teen Smokers May Be Considered Underage Soon

Would be teen smokers might have to wait to legally buy cigarettes if a proposed bill keeps working its way through the Illinois Capitol.

 

A senate committee has approved a bill that would make 21 the age to buy smokes. The bill raises the age but it also removes any penalty for underage smokers from possession of tobacco.

 

Supporters of the bill say the later teens choose to start smoking then the less likely they are to begin. 

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Heyworth Schools Prep For 2016-17 With Limited Budget Details

As area school leaders begin their preparations for the next school year, one school district leader says the theme over the past several years has been efficiency.

 

Dr. Ty Wolf is the Superintendent of the Heyworth school district, and he feels they have been very good at become more efficient. He points out they are spending less-per-student than eight years ago while keeping many good programs in place.

 

 

Looking ahead, Dr. Wolf says there is no indication next year the district will be getting any money as the stalemate in Springfield continues to carry on. He says despite many different proposals and formulas, things are not looking good.

 

 

If money isn't coming in from the state, tough decisions are ahead. That is the prediction from Dr. Wolf, he feels Heyworth schools are in good shape as it relates to their reserves, but he is not sure what the prognosis would be for their neighbors around the area.

 

 

Dr. Wolf says this is a big concern for him. According to reports he's gotten, over half the districts in Illinois are deficit spending, which is causing Heyworth and other districts, to do things that are not popular, but they feel it keeps them from eliminating programs. 

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New Proposal for Old School Funding Formula

School funding formulas are undergoing another round of proposed changes. State Senator Andy Manar is pushing out another round of legislation to alter the way schools are funded.

 

The biggest change from Manar’s early attempts and this proposed bill is that no district will lose any money during the first year of changes. Manar says that schools can spend $30,000 or $7,000 a year on student education but be held to the same student achievement standards. He wants funding that reflects how much a local district has to spend and then allow state aid to flow to a school based on need.

 

 

The new funding formulations and the corresponding dollars that would either increase or decrease along with them would be phased in over 4 years. Giving schools time to adjust funding and spending. A proposition that didn’t make earlier bills. 

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Gun Owners Oppose Extra Taxes on Guns, Ammunition

Illinois gun owners are expected to oppose extra taxes on firearms and ammunition when they lobby lawmakers in Springfield this week.

 

Among the many things expected to be addressed by attendees at this week’s Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day, or I-GOLD, are extra taxes on firearms and ammunition. Valinda Rowe, an organizer for I-GOLD, tells WMAY Springfield that Cook County has already passed an extra tax on firearms and ammunition and there’s legislation she supports to reverse that while also prohibiting the tax elsewhere throughout the state.

 

 

Cook County has a $25 tax for every firearm purchased. Beginning June 1 each cartridge purchased in the county will have an extra tax ranging from a penny to a nickel per cartridge, which would increase a standard case of 50 rounds by up to $2.50. 

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Governor Says Moral Imperative in Saving Health Care

A new task force created by the governor’s executive order is intended to root out fraud and waste in state taxpayer-funded health care.

 

Gov. Bruce Rauner says the Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force will work over the next year and a half to investigate where taxpayer savings can be found. Rauner says the state has a moral obligation to find savings while keeping health care quality high, drive better value for taxpayers and free up money for other vital needs.

 

 

The governor says the 12-member task force, composed of administration members, will study and utilize best practices of state agency fraud-prevention units, federal government and other state governments’ efforts, and measures used in the private sector to root out fraud, waste and abuse. 

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Gun Owners Lobby Lawmakers in Springfield

Illinois gun owners plan to take to the streets in Springfield Wednesday, arguing for more places to carry concealed firearms.

 

Valinda Rowe, an organizer for the annual Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day, or I-GOLD, says even though Illinois gun owners won the right through the courts and through legislation to carry concealed firearms with a permit, there are still nearly two dozen areas where they cannot carry legally permitted weapons. Of those places includes public transportation, something Rowesays hurts the economically disadvantaged the most.

 

 

Another area Rowe says should allow concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms are government-run rest stops along highways. Gun owners plan to meet at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield at noon Wednesday where they will then march to the capitol to lobby lawmakers.
 

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FBI Turns Up Heat in Search of Suspect in Springfield Murder

The FBI is turning up the heat on the suspect accused of masterminding the ambush murder of a Springfield area native killed near Downtown Dallas. Brenda Delgado has been added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted fugitives list in connection with the September slaying of Kendra Hatcher.

 

Delgado allegedly sought a hit man to kill the children's dentist because she was dating Delgado's ex-boyfriend. In a new FBI video, Hatcher's mother, Bonnie Jameson-Cawley of Springfield, makes an emotional request for help tracking down Delgado.

 

 

Authorities believe Delgado may be in hiding in Mexico. 

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Durkin Focused on Stopping Gun Trafficking

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin wants to curtail illegal movement of guns across Illinois. The Western Springs Republican is sponsoring legislation to create the offense of firearms trafficking.

Durkin discussed gun violence statistics for the City of Chicago before the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee.

 

 

Citing statistics for Chicago alone, Durkin said the General Assembly needs to do its part in fighting the violence.

 

 

The measure was approved in committee and now moves on to the full House for their consideration. 

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Charter Schools Network Voices Concerns Over Unionization

While a charter school in Chicago looks to form a union, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools wants to ensure other unions don’t impose.

 

Illinois law does not force a charter school to create a union, but does allow for the option among members. The Illinois Federation of Teachers touts the recent vote approving a union for the Passages Charter School in the city’s West Edgewater neighborhood. Workers voted to join the Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff Local 4343. However, Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, has some concerns. Broy says there could be problems if the Chicago Teachers Union takes an interest in bargaining on behalf of charter school unions.

 

 

Broy says of the charter schools in Chicago, most have chosen to remain independent of creating a union and only two of the 15 charters outside of Chicago have a union. 

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CJHS Dance Team Visits Local Lawmakers

The Clinton Jr. High School Dance team made a visit to the State Capitol Tuesday afternoon to visit with local lawmakers Chapin Rose (Sen - Mahomet) and Bill Mitchell (Rep. - Forsyth). The girls were recognized for their achievement of winning the 2016 Illinoid Drill Team Association (IDTA) Lyrical Division State Championship.

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Workforce Investment Solutions Holding More Special Trainings

Thanks to a grant, a local group aimed at finding work for the underemployed or unemployed has yet another opportunity.

 

Workforce Investment Solutions, or WIS, was recently the recipient of a grant that is going to allow them to train and find work for those interested in driving a truck. Larry Peterson is a consultant for WIS and says their program offerings continue to expand.

 

 

Like the manufacturing and logistical training through WIS, the truck driving training is accelerated to get people through the program and into the workforce. Peterson says the program is free to those qualify.

 

 

Peterson indicates the opportunities for job placement after the training are booming in the Decatur area. He indicates there are several factors contributing to the need.

 

 

According to Peterson, there a number of requirements to get into the program. He says applicants have to pass a drug test and there are some educational areas to meet. He encourages anyone who is unsure of those to inquire because there are opportunities WIS can provide to make sure those get met and a person can take advantage of the program.

 

 

There are several opportunities to learn more about the CDL training program that is mandatory. Peterson indicates in Clinton, Tuesday April 12th, there will be an informational meeting at the Richland Center on Sunrise Court behind the high school at 10 am.

 

Additionally, mandatory informational meetings will be held in Decatur at the WorkNet Center on West Pershing Road (757 West Pershing Road) at 9 am or 1 pm. Those meetings are scheduled for Monday, April 11th.

 

The final opportunity to be a part of one of the mandatory informational meetings is Thursday, April 14 at 9 am or 1 pm at the Richland Community College Schilling Center in Room SC01.

 

Peterson can be reached by phone to answer any questions at 217-820-0577 or Workforce Investment Solutions' number is 217-875-8753. 

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Weekly Crop Report

THERE HAVEN’T BEEN A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR FIELDWORK RECENTLY AS WE HEAR IN THE FIRST WEEKLY CROP REPORT OF THE SEASON.

 

A WET, WINDY WEEK LEFT ONLY ABOUT TWO DAYS SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK SAYS STATE CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.

 

 

13 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN PLANTED, AND 67 PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION.

 

 

AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE STANDS AT FOUR PERCENT SHORT…74 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 22 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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New Law Allows Pharmacists To Dispense Heroin Antidote

A NEW TRAINING PROGRAM WILL MAKE SURE PHARMACISTS CAN DISPENSE AN ANTIDOTE FOR HEROIN OVERDOSES.

 

WITH HEROIN OVERDOSES ON THE RISE…THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION IS TOUTING THE TRAINING AS A WAY TO SAVE MORE LIVES SAYS AGENCY SPOKESPERSON TERRY HORSTMAN.

 

 

HORSTMAN ADDS PHARMACISTS CAN TAKE THE ONLINE TRAINING COURSE AND HELP SAVE LIVES.

 

 

NALOXONE HAS PROVEN TO COUNTER THE EFFECTS OF OVERDOSE FROM DRUGS LIKE HEROIN AND MORPHINE. PHARMACISTS CAN REGISTER FOR THE TRAINING PROGRAM ONLINE AT: IPHA DOT ORG.

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House Republicans Call on Democrats To Move Budget Talks Forward

Lawmakers are back in full force in Springfield this week. The House and Senate are both working after a break – the work may or may not focus on a state budget but Republican leaders say that Democrats need to budge.

 

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says that its’ the Democrats that need to make a move to get past the 9 months the state has operated without a spending plan.

 

 

Durkin says that there is still room for a compromise budget but that Democrats need to start the process.

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Governor Acts By Order To Find Health Care Fraud

The Governor is acting by executive order to assign a task force to find a way to eliminate health care fraud in Illinois.

 

Bruce Rauner says the state spends over 19 billion in Medicaid and group health care spending. And he says you can keep health care services strong and still save money by removing fraud from the system. However, Rauner can’t quite pin down a number on the amount of fraud or just how much the state is losing.

 

 

Rauner’s task force will be made up of top level staffers inside of Rauner’s administration. He adds that he will also strive to bring in outside experts to help the state save money on fraud. 

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Family of Carol Thompson Plans Memorial Nature Walk

The family of the late Carol Thompson are hoping nature enthusiasts or those who were impacted by Thompson's love for nature will take part in an event benefit the Brain Tumor Society.

 

The National Brain Tumor Society Nature walk is scheduled for July 23 this summer, and organizer Lauren Thompson says the day is all about raising awareness and funds for the organization in memory of her mother.

 

 

The event at Weldon Springs State Park will allow anyone interested to come and go as they please between 9 am and 4 pm. Thompson says they will have walks catered to young kids along with raffles and refreshments and giveaways.

 

 

Thompson indicates 83-cents of every dollar donated goes to research.

 

For more information, check out their Facebook event page.

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Water Rate Increase Among City Council Business

It was a light workload for the Clinton City Council Monday night as the highlight of a brief meeting was an increase in the City water rates.

 

Commissioner John Wise says rates will increase three-percent across the board as they City tries to gradually keep up with increasing costs on equipment and maintenance.

 

The Council also approved a summer concert series on the downtown Clinton Square. The first concert is set for June 11, though details are minimal at this time as the City awaits contract approval with targeted artists.

 

The Council approved a contracted for City trees with Jason's Lawn Service for just over $45-hundred.

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Local Church Looking To Partner With Community Members

Community members in need are the focus of youth at a local church this summer.

 

An initiative this summer by First Christian Church and their early-teen youth hope to build on a program in place. Cody Monkman is youth minister at First Christian Church in Clinton and indicates they are hoping to adjust their summer junior high program.

 

 

For Monkman and the junior highers who are a part of their summer program, Project Facelift looks to help residents in need to restore, improve or beautify the homes of anyone in need in Clinton.

 

 

Project Facelift is open to any junior high student this June. Monkman says parents can pick up a registration form at the church.

 

Anyone with projects they would like the Church to consider can also contact First Christian Church.

 

To reach them, dial 217-935-3139 or visit their office Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm at 100 North Jackson Street. 

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Richland's Career Fair This Week

Richland Community College is giving job seekers the opportunity to be in front of prospective employers this week.

 

According to Richland's John Oliver, the Decatur-based community college's career fair, formerly the "jobs fair", is Thursday morning from 11 am to 3 pm and gives those seeking new employment opportunities, a chance to get in front of employers that are in need of workers.

 

 

Some of the larger employers in the area are going to be at the Career Fair. Oliver indicates, some of those include ADM, Exelon and Decatur Memorial Hospital and several other industries that will be on hand looking for workers.

 

 

Oliver explains they offered employers an interview space for this year's event. He notes there will be at least one employer at the fair that will be conducting interviews on scene, which is why he encourages anyone attending to dress professionally.

 

 

Oliver says they changed the name of the event from the "Job Fair" to the "Career Fair" because he hopes to see job seekers acquire a career from any contacts they make at the event.

 

Again it is Thursday from 11 am to 3 pm on the campus of Richland Community College at the Schilling Student Center.

 

Click here for more information.

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Fatal Train, Vehicle Crash in Springfield

Springfield authorities are investigating a fatal collision between a train and a motorist late Sunday night. Springfield Deputy Police Chief Dan Mounce has the details.

The identity of the 65-year-old woman killed has not been released.

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April Is Child Abuse Awareness Month

If you make your way around the downtown Clinton Square and you notice pinwheels spinning, that is a reminder of what April is all about for a local non-profit aimed at helping abused children.

 

April is Child Abuse Awareness month and the Children's Advocacy Centers are forming pinwheel gardens in their respective service areas as a visual reminder. According to Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Center, Judy Brucker, they will have one up in downtown Clinton.

 

 

Brucker hopes the pinwheel gardens will bring about awareness of a problem that has local relevance, but also international relevance as well.

 

 

The pinwheel gardens along with the "We Exist" campaign stems from a project taken up in the Chicago area. Brucker indicates she thought it was a great idea and wanted to piggy-back the idea.

 

 

The pinwheel gardens will remain up throughout the month of April.

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Bridge Work in Eastern DeWitt County to Begin This Week

The Illinois Department of Transportation has announced work will begin on Interstate 74 from the McLean County line to one mile east of the Farmer City interchange on Tuesday.

 

The work will include bridge deck repairs and new bridge deck overlays on 10 structures in DeWitt County. During construction, one lane of traffic will be maintained on all routes involved.

 

There is a posted width restriction of 11 feet and 9 inches on this project from mile marker 156-160.

 

The overall project has an estimated completion date of July 28, 2017, weather permitting.

 

The contractor for the $4,500,548 project is Sangamo Construction Company.

 

IDOT and State Police ask drivers to please slow down and use extreme caution while driving through all work zones.

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Little Movement in Local Unemployment Figures

January to February unemployment figures in central Illinois held steady with the rest of the state.

 

DeWitt County saw minimal gains in unemployment from January to February, as unemployment held steady at 7.5-percent in February from 7.6-percent in January.

 

Piatt County unemployment for February was 6.4-percent down from 6.8-percent in January.

 

In Logan County, unemployment came in at 6.9-percent, down from 7.1-percent in January.

 

McLean County unemployment was at 6.2-percent in February, from 6.5-percent in January.

 

Unemployment dropped from 8.7-percent in January to 8.2-percent in February for Macon County.

 

Unemployment in Champaign County was at 6.1-percent for February.

 

That state unemployment rate barely budged, going from 7.1-percent in January to 7-percent in February.

 

The national unemployment average is 5.2-percent. 

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Drivers Should Check Stickers on their Plates

Drivers are forgetting to renew their license plates and its showing – the late fees are piling up at the Secretary of States Office.

 

Car owners paid almost $2 million in March on late fees after forgetting to get their new sticker. The late fees are spiking after the state has stopped mailing renewal notices in order to save money.

 

The amount from the first quarter of the year is more double from the year before, when $2.2 million was collected between January and March. 

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Decatur's Scovill Zoo Opens For Season

The Scovill Zoo in Decatur opens this weekend for the season.

 

Director of the Decatur Zoo, Ken Frye, says the weekend opening and the first few months, the hours will be limited but he anticipates that not slowing the crowds, especially if the weather is good.

 

 

Frye indicates they have a lot of new animals at the zoo this year including some babies they're expecting in the coming weeks and a few more that should be on display as the season moves along.

 

 

The zoo is also expected to put on display howler monkeys this summer along with a new snake. 

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Spring Trout Season Opens This Weekend

HE SPRING TROUT SEASON OPENS THIS WEEKEND IN ILLINOIS.

 

ANGLERS CAN START FISHING FOR TROUT SATURDAY AT FIVE A-M SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON TIM SCHWEIZER.

 

 

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES HAS STOCKED 50 BODIES OF WATER WITH 80 THOUSAND RAINBOW TROUT IN ANTICIPATION OF OPENING DAY SATURDAY.

 

 

D-N-R STOCKS THE BODIES OF WATER WHERE TROUT FISHING IS ALLOWED WITH 80 THOUSAND RAINBOW TROUT EACH YEAR.

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Rare Lincoln Artifact To Be Unveiled This Month

A NEW EXHIBIT OF RARE LINCOLN ARTIFACTS OPENS APRIL 15TH AT THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM IN SPRINGFIELD.

 

THE EXHIBIT, "UNFINISHED WORK," INCLUDES SEVERAL NEAT DOCUMENTS AND OTHER FINDINGS FROM THE IMMENSE TAPER COLLECTION. MUSEUM SPOKESPERSON CHRIS WILLS DETAILS ONE OF THE ITEMS ON DISPLAY.

 

 

THE EXHIBIT INCLUDES THINGS LIKE A 337 DOLLAR I-O-U WHICH LINCOLN SIGNED FOR A STORE HE BOUGHT IN NEW SALEM.

 

 

THE UNFINISHED WORK EXHIBIT RUNS THROUGH MAY 15TH. MORE DETAILS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: PRESIDENT LINCOLN DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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Tax Returns Due Soon

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE IS REMINDING THERE ARE JUST A FEW WEEKS LEFT TO FILE YOUR INCOME TAX RETURN.

 

TAXES NEED TO BE FILED BY APRIL 18...SO REVENUE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON TERRY HORSTMAN SAYS IT'S TIME TO FILE...AND GET YOUR MONEY.

 

 

HORSTMAN SAYS THE EASIEST AND QUICKEST WAY TO FILE AND GET YOUR REFUND IS TO DO IT ELECTRONICALLY.

 

 

LAST YEAR, 85 PERCENT OF TAXPAYERS FILED ELECTRONICALLY AND HORSTMAN SAYS IT’S ABOUT THE SAME THIS YEAR. FOR HELP FILING YOUR TAXES OR TO CHECK THE STATUS OF YOUR REFUND, VISIT THE WEBSITE: TAX DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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Mild Weather Expected This Weekend

A mild weekend is expected with a cooler week ahead. State Climotologist Jim Angel has more...

 

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Well Testing Available

If you get your water from your own well, you are kind of on your own to make sure the water is safe. Contamination can come from bacteria, or even chemicals in the groundwater.

 

Many wells in Illinois have arsenic from groundwater.

 

According to Steve Wilson with the Illinois State Water Survey, you can have a well assessment done to identify any possible issues.

 

 

Beyond that, the water survey offers a free online course in private well management.

 

 

For well testing, contact the Illinois State Water Survey for groundwater chemistry, and to test for potential bacterial contamination contact you County Health Department.

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Dr. John Warner Hospital Touts Changes

The Dr. John Warner Hospital has a lot of changes happening and at Wednesday's Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, those changes were the talking points of their staff.

 

According to CEO Paul Skowron, the expanded hours at Family Medicine were just one of the talking points of their staff on hand. Skowron says the expanded hours have already been a great benefit to the community.

 

 

To better serve the community through their expanded hours, Skowron indicates they are bringing on another doctor.

 

 

Finally, the hospital is going to be renovating their entryway to the hospital. According to Skowron, the Board recently approved what he calls an investment into a renovation to their front entrance.

 

 

Hospital administrators say it's all about improving the experience of those they serve.

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First Responding Groups Pushing Updated Signage for DeWitt County Residents

Whether you live in rural areas of DeWitt County of one of the communities, first responding agencies are hoping residents will update the addressing signs of their homes.

 

According to Wapella Fire Chief, Nelson Thorpe, the County's first responders can, in many cases, have trouble identifying where they are going because of issues not only with GPS but with the current addressing system.

 

 

According to DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner, emergency officials want to make sure everyone has a sign up at their home so they are offering senior citizens help in covering the fee of $15 and getting the sign up.

 

 

Chief Thorpe notes they also want to make sure homes match up with the address. He says this is still a challenge they see in DeWitt County.

 

 

Chief Thorpe says the best to get accurate information is to contact him directly at 217-620-0460. 

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Durkin Hoping End of Primaries Will Open Door for Budget Deal

The millions upon millions have been spent on the recent Illinois Primary.

 

As the Illinois House prepares to return to work, Minority Leader Jim Durkin is hopeful all sides can find common ground and finally hammer out a budget with a new fiscal year just three months away.

 

 

The House will reconvene on Monday.

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Suspicious Bag Shuts Down Peoria Airport, Then Reopens

Life is returning to normal at Peoria's Airport after a suspicious bag triggered an evacuation around 7 a.m. (Thursday). Peoria County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Joseph Needham.

 

 

In a clear case of fact being stranger than fiction, Needham says the device was meant to look suspicious.

 

 

The all-clear signal was given around 9:30 a.m. 

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State Moving Forward With Tech Plans

The state is moving forward with plans to form the Department of Innovation and Technology.

 

The impacts are described as a transformation journey from computer technology dating to the 1970’s. A first step has been at the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The IDPFR is now transferring the state licensing process to an online environment.

 

IDPFR Secretary Bryan Schneider says that license renewals for accountants to cosmetologist are now handled electronically. They have also made those certificates now available on-line. Schneider says it’s better for all.

 

 

Other officials at the Department of Corrections and Transportation say similar transformations are happening in their offices too. 

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