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Local News

Rauner Calling For Temporary Budget

With hopes for a full state budget deal by today's deadline slipping away, Gov. Bruce Rauner is suggesting lawmakers agree to an interim budget package that would provide the funds needed for school bells to ring this fall.

 

Rauner budget chief Tim Nuding issued a memo saying an interim budget bill should keep government up and running and while protecting public health, welfare and safety. The stopgap spending plan would pay for K through 12 education.

 

Another $600 million would go to higher education. Other dollars would go to food for prisons, fuel for the state's vehicle fleet and utility payments for state buildings.

 

Rauner is meeting with the four legislative leaders this morning. House Speaker Madigan says a stopgap plan won't pass today.

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Lawmakers To Work on Temporary Fix to Bidget

NO BUDGET DEAL WILL BE REACHED BY THE MIDNIGHT DEADLINE, SO LAWMAKERS WILL WORK ON ANOTHER TEMPORARY FIX.

 

WITH THE END OF SESSION DEADLINE JUST HOURS AWAY, THE GOVERNOR OFFICE’S HAS SUGGESTED A STOPGAP SPENDING PLAN TO KEEP SCHOOLS OPEN, FUND VITAL SERVICES AND GET THE STATE THROUGH THE END OF THE CALENDAR YEAR. HOUSE SPEAKER MIKE MADIGAN SAYS THEY WILL LOOK AT THE PROPOSAL.

 

 

THE DEMOCRATS SAY THEY WILL DISCUSS THE PLAN IN WORKING GROUPS FOR AWHILE, BUT THAT ISN’T SITTING WELL WITH REPUBLICANS LIKE SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHRISTINE RADOGNO.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR’S TEMPORARY PLAN DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY OF HIS PROPOSED BUSINESS REFORMS OR ANY NEW REVENUE.

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Sen. Rose Urging Lawmakers To Keep Working on Electric Rates Cap Legislation

The hours are ticking away to the deadline set by the biggest employer in DeWitt County for legislation to help keep their doors open.

 

Tonight is the deadline for a self-imposed deadline by Exelon for the future of their nuclear power station in Clinton to receive help from the Illinois legislature, or they will be forced to announce the decommissioning of the site.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose Tuesday morning said quote - “This is a decision that has far reaching consequences over the next several decades. Losing the jobs in our area is bad enough, but industry analysts have told me that should Clinton close, the market price for power would drastically increase from this year’s price of $72/MW to as much as $225/MW. Such rate increases will be disastrous to downstate Illinois by punishing working families and small businesses.

 

“As the legislature goes into overtime session, yet again, it is time for the Senate Democrat majorities to quickly finalize negotiations and send this bill over to the House.”

It is unclear at this time how an overtime session might impact Exelon's decision. 

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Relay For Life This Weekend

An event that is growing in popularity in DeWitt County is here.

 

Relay for Life is this week and hundreds are expected at Clinton High School this Saturday. Whitney Stoolman, with the American Cancer Society, explains they have a great time during the 12-hour event that seeks to recognize survivors of cancer, those who are currently fighting the good fight and those who have passed on.

 

 

Stoolman indicates they really want to emphasize the honoring and remembering part of the event. She explains they also hope to raise awareness towards prevention.

 

 

The Relay for Life has grown in DeWitt County and Stoolman says they've seen area businesses and organizations step up to support their efforts in different ways.

 

 

It's not too late for you to get involved in this Saturday's Relay for Life. To get more information, visit relayforlife.org/dewitt. You can also contact Stoolman at 217-523-4503. 

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Monticello Schools Leader: Fund Current Formula; It Works

A school funding reform proposal in Springfield would be the epitome to lightning striking a local district district twice.

 

Monticello schools greatly benefit from funds generated through the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax, or CPPRT. Future funds from CPPRT are likely to be lower thanks to a calculation error but Superintendent of Monticello Schools, Dr. Vic Zimmerman says a proposal for funds lost to a funding reform proposal by Sen. Andy Manar would be another blow to future budgets.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman says the proposal is something he is absolutely opposed to proposal and feels the current formula works when funded.

 

 

With a budget still not in place for the upcoming fiscal year in Illinois, Dr. Zimmerman doesn't anticipate a school funding plan not being in place going into next year. He feels that would create a lot of unhappy people in Illinois.

 

 

School funding reforms continue to be a hot topic in Springfield even throughout the budget stalemate. 

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Senate Expected Vote on House Budget

The countdown is on.

 

Lawmakers in Springfield have just hours to craft and pass a state budget. Deadlines though seem to mean little in Springfield.

 

The state is still missing a state budget for the current, soon to be, last fiscal year. Senate President John Cullerton says he sees his members voting on the budget the House passed last week.

 

 

That bill is going nowhere even if it’s approved by the Senate, the Governor has promised a veto. The statehouse supposedly has a midnight.


tonight deadline to pass a budget.

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Republicans Don't Think Democrats are Vested in Working Groups

Deadlines come and go at the Statehouse and this year seems to be no different.

 

For all the talk about a grand bargain being struck by working groups of rank and file lawmaker’s the outlook isn’t so good as the clock ticks towards midnight. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin feels that House Democrats don’t have much interest in working out a compromise.

 

 

The compromise includes passing some of Governor Bruce Rauner’s turn around agenda items. Republican’s believe that those items are critical to improving the state Democrats feel that they will hurt middle class workers and damage workers rights. 

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Lawmakers Worked Through Holiday Weekend

Lawmaker were off on Saturday, but working on Sunday to find an end to the budget crisis. The last scheduled day of the session is Tuesday. State Representative Dan Brady.

 

 

Brady blamed leaders in the state for not having dedicated commitment to finding a solution.

 

 

There is no word if lawmakers will go into special session if nothing is decided Tuesday.

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Lawmakers Override Governor's Veto of Chicago Police, Fire Pension Bill

STATE LAWMAKERS OVERRODE THE GOVERNOR’S VETO ON A CHICAGO POLICE AND FIRE PENSION RELIEF BILL.

 

THE MEASURE REDUCES CITY PENSION PAYMENTS THRU 2020…WHICH SUPPORTERS SAY HELPS STAVE OFF A 300 MILLION DOLLAR PROPERTY TAX INCREASE. REP. JACK FRANKS OF WOODSTOCK SAYS IT’S A BAD SITUATION, BUT ONE THAT THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD BE ABLE TO RELATE TO.

 

 

SUPPORTERS SAY IT ALSO ALLEVIATES THE NEED FOR A LARGE PROPERTY TAX HIKE. IT WAS SUPPORTED BE REPRESENTATIVE DAVID HARRIS OF MOUNT PROSPECT.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR HAS CALLED THE LEGISLATION “TERRIBLE POLICY” AND SAYS IT WILL COST TAXPAYERS DEARLY IN THE COMING DECADES.

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Farmers Visit Chicago Race Tracks

Visitors to Arlington International Racecourse in suburban Chicago had the chance to meet Illinois farmers over the holiday weekend to talk food and farming.

 

Members of the Cook County Farm Bureau took part in State Fair Family Day to answer any and all questions visitors had about food.

 

 

Officials with the Illinois State Fair also took part at the event in suburban Chicago to promote the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fairs.

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The first signs of West Nile Virus have been spotted in Illinois

THE FIRST SIGNS OF WEST NILE VIRUS ARE BEING CONFIRMED IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE FIRST CONFIRMED CASE IS A BLUE JAY IN DOUGLAS COUNTY. THE VIRUS IS TRANSMITTED BY THE BITE OF AN INFECTED MOSQUITO AND USUALLY STARTS APPEARING AROUND NOW SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MELANEY ARNOLD.

 

 

WEST NILE IS A BIG CONCERN IN ILLINOIS. THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT YOURSELF IS WEAR INSECT REPELLANT WITH DEET, PICARIDIN OR OIL OF LEMON EUCALYPTUS.

WITH THE FIRST CASES OF WEST NILE BEING REPORTED IN DOUGLAS COUNTY, MANY ARE ASKING BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ZIKA VIRUS?

 

 

TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MOSQUITOES…ARNOLD RECOMMENDS MAKING SURE THERE IS NO STANDING WATER AROUND YOUR HOME WHERE THEY CAN BREED AND WEARING INSECT REPELLANT.

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Heyworth Schools To Use Summer To Train Teachers On Technology

Preparing for next year is the name of the game for Heyworth educators this summer.

 

Superintendent of Heyworth Schools, Dr. Ty Wolf, explains more than half of their teaching staff will be doing professional development this summer preparing for the roll out of their one-to-one initiative next year.

 

 

According to Dr. Wolf, the professional development will focus on the Google platform as the school prepares to introduce the Chromebooks. He feels the Google platform is going to make things so convenient for students and teachers.

 

 

Dr. Wolf recognizes the rollout of more technology into their classroom settings needs to be done responsibly. He explains one area they are focused on is using technology for better and more timely feedback.

 

 

Dr. Wolf is excited about the possibilities that will be in their classrooms starting next year. He indicates their staff will have a lot thrown at them this summer in preparation for the upcoming school year but feels the changes will enhance the learning of their students. 

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Eastern Illinois Food Bank Readies For Busy June

As we get set to turn our calendars to the month of June, the Eastern Illinois Food Bank has a buys month ahead.

 

According to Teresa Brown, the Food Bank's Partnership Manager, they have several distributions coming up that area residents will want to be aware of. She explains they pride themselves on providing those in need with fresh produce, not just canned goods and non-perishables.

 

 

In addition to the distributions the Food Bank has, they also provide food to local food pantries and soup kitchens. Brown says they look to cut down on food waste in central Illinois.

 

 

If you come out for a distribution, Brown indicates you will receive food for approximatly five days. She explains they do not ask for any sort of proof of income, they just ask you sign in to self-attest.

 

 

Brown says they do around 65 food distributions per-year.

 

For more information about the Eastern Illinois Food Bank, upcoming distributions, or becoming an affiliate of theirs, visit eifoodbank.org. 

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Sen. Rose Blasts Latest Proposed Change To Education Funding Formula

Just days before the end of the legislative session, a proposal to change the way the state funds public education was hastily pushed through the Illinois Senate.

 

Senator Chapin Rose voted no on the bill and spoke against the measure Friday and says it's simply a bail out for Chicago.

 

 

Sen. Rose points out there's no evidence how this effects the rest of the districts in Illinois and there's no evidence for what it does elsewhere.

 

 

The Senator says it would be malpractice for the legislature to pass the bill and it was malpractice for the leaders of the Chicago Public Schools for testifying without knowing how they were impacted. 

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DNR Focused on Safety on Waterways This Weekend

The Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends of the year for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
 
DNR Conservation Police will be out in full force this weekend looking for safe boaters on Clinton Lake and other waterways this weekend. DNR CPO John Williamson indicates they'll be making sure operators are sober and of legal age.
 
 
Additionally, Williamson says they'll be making sure life-jackets for each person on board are the proper size and checking other equipment.
 
 
Children under the age of 13 must be wearing a life jacket that is the proper size if the boat is under weigh.
 
 
Williamson indicates they will be really focused in on operators. He is hoping all groups out boating will designate someone to take control of the boat and make sure it gets operated safely. 

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Local Unemployment Figures Down

Unemployment figures in central Illiois were down in April. 
 
DeWitt County unemployment is down to 6.1% from March's 6.8-percent.
 
Logan County unemployment for April was 5.5%. In McLean County, unemployment in April was 5.4% and in April, Piatt County unemployment was 5.1%. 
 
Macon County unemploymet was 7.1% and in Champaign County, April unemployment was 5.3%.
 
State unemployment was 6.2%, well ahead of the national average of 4.7%. 

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Budget talks hit some speed bumps

WITH JUST A FEW DAYS LEFT IN THE SPRING LEGISLATIVE SESSION…BUDGET TALKS SEEM TO HAVE HIT SOME SPEED BUMPS. 
 
DEMOCRATIC SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON IS SUGGESTING THEY PASS A SHORT TERM BUDGET WHILE THEY CONTINUE TO NEGOTIATE A LARGER SPENDING PLAN. REPUBLICANS, LIKE HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JIM DURKIN, ARE DISMISSING THAT IDEA AND EXPRESSING THEIR FRUSTRATION.
 
BIPARTISAN WORKING GROUPS ARE INDICATING THEY ARE GETTING CLOSER TO REACHING A DEAL AND GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS HIS REFORMS MUST BE A PART OF THE PACKAGE. THE HOUSE DID PASS A BUDGET BUT IT’S ESTIMATED TO BE SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS OUT OF BALANCE.
 
A BUDGET DEAL REMAINS UP IN THE AIR AS SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON SUGGESTS THEY JUST PASS A SHORT TERM BUDGET FOR NOW AND HOUSE DEMOCRATS APPROVE A PLAN THAT IS SEVERELY UNDERFUNDED. BUT THE GOVERNOR AND HIS BUDGET DIRECTOR TIM NUDING REMAIN OPTIMIST THAT A BIPARTISAN WORKING GROUP THAT’S BEEN MEETING WILL BE ABLE TO AGREE TO BALANCED BUDGET AND REFORMS.
 
THE LEGISLATURE IS SCHEDULED TO ADJOURN TUESDAY. AFTER THAT DATE, IT TAKES MORE VOTES TO PASS A BUDGET OR ANY OTHER BILLS.

 

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Lawmakers pass "Gabby's Law" regarding hospital sepsis protocols

LEGISLATION DUBBED “GABBY’S LAW” IS HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR’S DESK.
 
THE BILL IS NAMED AFTER GABBY GALBO OF MONTICELLO…WHO DIED OF SEPSIS FOUR YEARS AGO AT THE AGE OF FIVE. IT REQUIRES HOSPITALS TO IMPLEMENT AND UPDATE PROCEDURES FOR THE EARLY DETECTION AND TREATMENT OF SEPSIS. THE MEASURE IS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE BILL MITCHELL WHO NOTED GABBY’S PARENTS’ HARD WORK IN PUSHING FOR THE LEGISLATION.
 
 
ACCORDING TO THE C-D-C…SEPSIS IS THE BODY’S OVERWHELMING RESPONSE TO INFECTION AND CAN LEAD TO TISSUE DAMAGE, ORGAN FAILURE AND DEATH.

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Weekly Weather Summary

This week's been a warm one and we can expect that trend over the Memorial Day weekend. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more.
 

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A warning about electric shock drowning

AS FAMILIES HIT THE WATER THIS SUMMER…SAFE ELECTRICITY IS WARNING ABOUT A HIDDEN DANGER.
 
MANY PEOPLE AREN’T AWARE OF THE RISK OF ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING SAYS PROGRAM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MOLLY HALL…BUT IT DOES HAPPEN AS PEOPLE UNKNOWINGLY SWIM INTO ENERGIZED WATER.
 
 
HALL SAYS IF YOU END UP IN WATER AND FEEL A SORT OF TINGLING ON YOUR BODY OR PULSATING IN THE WATER, YOU SHOULD TRY TO SWIM AWAY FROM THE ENERGY SOURCE AND TOWARDS SHORE. ONLOOKERS SHOULDN’T ENTER THE WATER SINCE THEY COULD BE SHOCKED TOO. THEY SHOULD INSTEAD TRY TO FIND THE POWER SOURCE AND SHUT IT OFF.
 
ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING OCCURS WHEN ELECTRICITY LEAKS FROM A DOCK OR A BOAT PLUGGED INTO SHORE POWER. PROGRAM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MOLLY HALL SAYS IF YOU ARE SWIMMING NEAR A DOCK AND STARTING FEELING A TINGLING SENSATION, YOU SHOULD TRY AND SWIM AWAY FROM THE ENERGY SOURCE.
 
 
IF YOU SEE SOMEONE IN TROUBLE IN THE WATER, DON’T GO IN YOURSELF. INSTEAD TRY TO FIND THE POWER SOURCE AND SHUT IT OFF.

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Bloomington's Miller Park Zoo Shatters Attenance Record

A Bloomington/Normal entity is reporting a strong, record breaking year.

 

Last year, the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington broke their all time attendance record. Jay Tetzloff is the Park Superintendent and says it was a great year for them thanks to several factors.

 

 

One of the big tools the Miller Park Zoo leader believes has impacted their popularity is their presence on social media. Tetzloff explains social media allows them to give a small look into the fun that can be had at the Zoo.

 

 

Tetzloff says his goal is to always grow the zoo's attendance and continue to grow it's popularity. He predicts the upcoming completion of their long-awaited flamingo exhibit helping their attendance again in their next fiscal year.

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Lincoln High School Leader Says Education Needs To Be Fully Funded

The leader of a Logan County school believes while the State of Illinois figures out it's next funding formula, they need to fully fund the current formula.

 

Lincoln High School Superintendent Bob Bagby (right) feels while the State of Illinois figures out it's next funding formula, they need to be fully funding education to the requirements of the Illinois Constitution.

 

 

As the State tries to work through the funding formula, Bagby believes the current formula is just fine. He explains the Board of Education in Lincoln prepared for what is happening now and says he doesn't feel sorry for districts that didn't.

 

 

Bagby feels the latest funding reform proposal is a penalty on them because of their responsible spending and budgeting in recent years.

 

 

According to Bagby, a tax freeze bill forced the hand of the Board of Education in Lincoln to max-out their tax rate, which is what many would argue needs to be done for districts with low tax rates.

 

 

In other areas of the state, school districts receive exponentially more per student than other districts, mostly down state. Bagby believes that isn't right. He believes it should cost the same amount to educate an Illinois student regardless of their zip code.

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Rep. Mitchell Supports Measure Dealing With Universities Retirement

State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) has passed legislation out of the Illinois House dealing with the State Universities Retirement System.

 

SB1059 allows an employee who, under SURS, terminated their retirement plan with the State and then regains full time re-employment with a SURS employer, to take part in the State Health Insurance system. The legislation still bars them from participation in the pension system.

 

 

That's State Rep. Bill Mitchell. Sen. Chapin Rose sponsored the legislation. 

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LaHood Has 'Simple' Steps To Improve America

This morning at a prayer breakfast former Congressman Ray LaHood says that if American’s adhere to common principals the country will continue to thrive.

 

LaHood evoked the words of Thomas Jefferson to make the point that extraordinary people can lead exemplary lives in simple ways. And if you choose to make your community better you will keep America great.

 

 

LaHood adds common everyday actions are what’s needed to keep the country on the right path.

 

 

LaHood notes that basic values of everyday life and work are important. He says it’s time to build on traditional values of hard work, a faith in god and commitment to family. 

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Authorities Pushing Safe Travel This Weekend

Drivers this weekend will best to be heeding the speed limit. The Illinois State Police will be out in full force keeping watch over Memorial Day travel.

 

IDOT and the ISP say be ready for more traffic enforcement zones and road side safety checks. Patrols will especially be strong during the nighttime hours. IDOT’s Brian Williamson says that police will be checking to make sure everyone is buckled up.

 

 

Memorial Day weekend can be a deadly one on the roadways. Last year 13 people died in traffic crashes.

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Democrats Pass Budget

No signs of a compromise or grand bargin to be had at the capitol on Wednesday night.

 

The Illinois House, lead by a large number of Democrats, passed a nearly $40 billion state budget. The plan is the Speakers, Michael Madigan created the 500 page budget and Democrats say that they had to do something because the Governor isn’t doing anything. Needless to say the plan received no votes from Republicans but plenty of their scorn.

 

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says the plan moves forward with spending $7 billion more than state revenues and ignores all the work that rank and file lawmakers have put in.

 

 

The budget has to be passed by the Senate, but the Governor has already indicated that he will veto the measure.

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Democrats Say State Could Not Afford To Do Nothing on Budget

OVER INTENSE OBJECTIONS FROM REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS IN THE ILLINOIS HOUSE APPROVED A NEARLY 40 BILLION DOLLAR STATE BUDGET.

 

THE G-O-P IS SLAMMING THE SPENDING PLAN, SAYING IT'S SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS OUT OF WHACK. BUT DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE BARBARA FLYNN CURRIE SAYS THEY CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO TAKE ACTION.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR HAS ALREADY SAID HE WOULD VETO THE MEASURE.

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AFSCME Bill Fails Again in Override Vote

Illinois House Democrats fail again in a bid to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill that would have sent stalled labor talks with state worker unions to binding arbitration. The override vote fell short by just two votes. The Illinois Labor Relations Board will decide the issue.

 

Illinois Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is proceeding with his own budget proposal in defiance of Gov. Bruce Rauner's wish for a compromise that includes pro-business, union-weakening reforms to settle a nearly yearlong stalemate.

 

Madigan says he told the Republican governor during a meeting Wednesday that "he's not being real persuasive" in negotiations that he's established with various groups of lawmakers.

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Local Leaders, Residents Rally in Springfield for Nuclear Power

Amazing and powerful are just a few of the words used to describe a rally of over 15-hundred Exelon employees and community supporters of nuclear energy in Illinois at the State Capitol yesterday.

 

Tim Followell is City Administrator in Clinton and says Clinton and DeWitt County were well represented at yesterdays rally. He explains it was a great turnout despite the fact attendees couldn't get directly in front of a many lawmakers.

 

 

Powerful is how Communications Manager at the Clinton Exelon Nuclear Power Station described Tuesday's rally. Brett Nauman says it was great to see everyone from all corners of Illinois come together in the name of nuclear power.

 

 

Exelon provided buses for local employees and residents to get to Springfield Tuesday and Marian Brisard, Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce says it was an amazing show of support.

 

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose spoke briefly at the rally Tuesday and Wednesday says he continues to fight for the right policy for Illinois that will effect every resident in the state.

 

 

The unanimous message to lawmakers for Clinton, DeWitt County and Central Illinois continues to be the economic impact of the power station but as Sen. Rose has pointed out in the past, legislation needs to be passed that caps rate increases and keeps electric bills in Illinois to a reasonable and affordable amount. 

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Local Lawmaker Chides Attorney General Over Stance on Nuclear Power Legislation

A statement released yesterday by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called a piece of legislation supporting nuclear power in Illinois a bailout and one local lawmaker is not pleased with her stance.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose says Madigan is wrong and even if her opinion this is a bailout he says to do what she did, when she did it it was wrong.

 

 

Sen. Rose says there's a lot of people working on this issue and he feels if Madigan wants to know what's going on, she needs to get engaged.

 

 

The legislature has a deadline of May 31 to pass legislation to bring Exelon onto a level playing field with other energy sources or they will make an announcement to decommission the plant.

Legislation is stuck in committee currently. 

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Local Marine Returns Home Today

A local Marine returns from active duty today and local veterans groups are making sure he has a warm welcome home.

 

The community is invited out to the North Ridge subdivision today at approximately 2 pm to welcome home Cody Mills of Clinton.

 

Attendees are encouraged to bring an American flag. 

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Blue Ridge Schools Would Lose Under Latest Funding Formula

The Blue Ridge School district would lose funding under the latest school funding formula reform proposal in Springfield.

 

Susan Wilson is the District's Superintendent and says the current formula needs to be fully funded in order to work. The formula has come under fire in recent years and she notes that in part, is due to it being underfunded in that time.

 

 

Wilson indicates the current formula in the Illinois legislature would take money away from Blue Ridge, that on top of the fact there is a provision no district will lose money in the first year.

 

 

According to Wilson, the state of Illinois needs to do two things to fix the financial situation. She says they need to generate more revenue and refinance the state's obligation for the pension system.

 

 

Wilson believes doing funding reform for the sake of funding reform will likely not be a good thing. She hopes it is done right and done well and for the right reasons. 

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Warner Library's Summer Reading Club Underway

With school out for the year for Clinton students, a local entity is hoping local youth will participate in their annual summer program.

 

The Warner Public Library's Paula Lopatic explains they have started signing up kids for this year's Summer Reading program, which is themed Reading Rocks.

 

 

This year's reading club once again features a lot of excitement with programs, games and activities scheduled all throughout the summer. Lopatic says their goal is to make reading fun and get them excited about reading.

 

 

There's a number of bigger programs the staff at the Warner Library hosts. According to Lopatic, try to bring in different demonstrators and themes year to year to keep things fresh for the students.

 

 

While there's plenty of fun to be had at the Library this summer, Lopatic says children reading over the summer is very important to their development in the classroom. She explains a child not reading over the summer can set them back a great deal versus children who spend a little time each day in the summer months reading something.

 

 

 

To get registered for the summer reading club and to get a full list of the many activities throughout the summer, check out the Warner Library at 310 North Quincy Street. You can also visit vwarner.org for a calendar of other events and happenings.

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Sen. Brady May Turn to Non-Legislative Means To Boos State Fair Foundation

Legislation designed to create a State Fair foundation seems doomed this legislative session.

 

Sen. Bill Brady may bypass fellow lawmakers and seek an executive order from Governor Rauner.

 

He says some union forces oppose the legislation calling for millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades in Springfield and DuQuoin because it would lead to waving of state procurement requirements.

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Rauner Wants Laser Focus on Budget

Governor Rauner is offering a water cooler type conversation about the activities of lawmakers.

 

With the legislative session down to its final full week, Rauner is calling for the House and Senate to push other issues aside.

 

 

Rauner says state lawmakers must pass reforms to workers' compensation, pensions and other issues before the conversation can shift to a tax increase. 

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MAP Group Claims Victory

A group pushing for a new way to redraw district maps for state lawmakers is claiming an early victory in the effort to secure a spot on the fall ballot.

 

The Independent Map Amendment effort says the State Board of Elections reviewed the signatures and found that a minimum of 382,322 signatures are valid, law requires 290,216 valid signatures to place an amendment on the ballot.

 

Spokesman for the effort Jim Bray says that if the question is approved a big change would be coming for the 2022 state wide elections.

 

 

Bray adds now the issues of signatures is settled focus is back on a legal challenge.

 

 

The amendment is being challenged in court. Bray says the case will more than likely be headed to the State Supreme Court.

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AFL CIO Says No Thanks To Reforms Tied To Budget

A pillar of the Governors Turn Around Agenda has been reform to workers compensation. Lawmakers did that in 2011 and passed a bill.

 

For now that’s good enough according to the AFL-CIO.

 

Union President Mike Carrigan says that he and his members have no interest in tying more reform or changes to the system to a budget deal that could cause injured workers to deal with lesser benefits.

 

 

Carrigan says that if the Governor really wanted a compromise on more workers comp reforms he would have treated the process with greater care and consideration from the start.

 

 

The AFL-CIO says that costs for workers comp in Illinois have decreased faster than any other state since 2011. Critics point to a study that shows Illinois still has the 7th highest workers comp cost in the nation. 

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DeWitt County Residents Lobby at Capital to Keep Clinton Nuclear Power Station Open

Thousands of energy workers from across Illinois, many of them from the Clinton Nuclear Power Plant, descended on the State Capital Tuesday to lobby for changes in how the states' nuclear plants are treated, putting them at a level playing field with solar and wind, and more importantly for Clinton and DeWitt County, keeping the Clinton plant open.

Buses of Clinton residents made the day-long trek to Springfield, to show support for the Clinton plant.

State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) spoke at the Exelon Rally in Springfield. The workers were at the Statehouse, advocating for Senate Bill 1585, legislation that would protect consumers by capping future rate increases and give the Clinton Nuclear Power Plant a fighting chance to avoid closure.

During the rally, Rose said he will fight to keep these jobs in DeWitt County and fight to keep electric rates lower for every citizen in Illinois.  Rose added that half the state's power comes from nuclear, and if any nuclear plant closes, it means higher rates.

Stay tuned for more from local officials that attended Tuesday's lobbying effort, on Regional Radio and dewittdailynews-dot-com.

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Exelon's Refueling Outage Comes Amid Uncertain Future

It could be the last refueling outage for the Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power Station as a self-imposed deadline for help from the Illinois legislature of May 31 fast approaches.

 

Brett Nauman is the Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power Station Communications Manager and says this is a yearly shutdown where they refuel their station for the next year.

 

 

The Power Station went to an annual refueling outage a few years ago. According to Nauman, one outage would be considered a big outage with lots of extra workers, and the other would be a smaller outage.

 

 

With the uncertainty of the future of the plant, Nauman says it is possible this is the last refueling outage for the Power Station.

 

 

Nauman says their workers will be in town for another week. He says the smaller outage only lasts a couple weeks. 

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Dr. John Warner Hospital Board Approves Name Change; Revision of Mission, Vision Statements

Clinton's biggest health services provider will soon be under a new name.

 

Monday night at the Dr. John Warner Hospital Board meeting, the board approved a new name for the city-owned facility. CEO Paul Skowron (right) explains the name Warner Hospital and Health Services will be its new title.

 

 

Skowron indicates he was very careful in how he approached the topic of a change to the name of the Dr. John Warner hospital. He explains he approached John Warner IV and got his approval.

 

 

Skowron believes a change in the name of the hospital will provide a fresh perspective for those outside the community on what the facility is all about and also believes it will help in the recruitment of providers.

 

 

Additionally Monday night, Skowron presented the Board with a new vision and mission statement. Skowron's proposal focuses on the customer experience and building off that.

 

 

The values of the hospital will be an acronym around the word "patient" and for Skowron, it starts with professionalism. He says everything in their values is has the patient at the heart of everything.

 

 

This was a process that started at the Board level in February and Skowron says this was a process they took very seriously. He feels this is going to lay the foundation for the future of the hospital for many years to come.

 

 

Board President Aaron Kammeyer (right) indicates there's a saying among some staffers at the hospital, "it's a new day at Dr. J" and backed the proposals. He believes it will bring new life into the facility.

 

The Clinton City Council will have to approve the name change for the Board to move forward with it. Along with the name change, leadership plans to roll a new website with a new URL. 

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DeWitt County Board Chair Says Power Plant Has Trickle Down Effect on County

The head of the DeWitt County Board says what the Exelon Nuclear Power Station means to the County is far more than tax dollars.

 

David Newberg indicates a closure of the power plant would trickle down to other areas of the County, like a decrease in property values, loss of services and revenues that cannot be replaced.

 

 

It was almost two weeks ago leaders from DeWitt County met with Governor Rauner and Newberg says that meeting was very productive and appreciates the support the Governor has shown to the area. While the Governor backs the legislation, Newberg notes there isn't much Rauner can do until legislation gets to his desk.

 

 

Entering the final full week of the legislative session, a Senate committee considering a bill that would give Exelon the ability to remain viable in Clinton, has recessed their discussions with no firm timetable of when that legislation could hit the Senate floor.

 

It was speculated last week the legislation could get there early this week and if the session goes to overtime, which as of right now, appears very likely, there's no indication if that will impact the deadline for Exelon's announcement of decommissioning the plant. 

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Clinton Schools Would Lose Over $1.5-Million In Latest School Funding Proposal

Clinton Schools stand to lose over $1.5-million over a two year period in the lastest funding reform proposal out of Springfield.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles indicates while there is a prevision for no loss of revenue in the first year, that's still a devastating number compounded by a potential loss of revenue from the power plant.

 

 

The current funding formula has come under fire in recent years and many school leaders attribute that to the fact the state hasn't fully funded it in almost a decade. Nettles believes it is time for reform.

 

 

The State will be conducting a study on how much it takes to educate kids and Nettles feels the state needs to seriously look at that. He also hopes they consider giving schools more local control.

 

 

Nettles indicates the study is part of the Vision 2020 model that was introduced a few year ago. 

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Governor Opposes Retirement Tax

A number of plans for new taxes or revenue are coming to the surface at the Capitol. One of them is starting to tax retirement income.

 

Once that idea started gaining attention the push back was strong from groups like AARP. Governor Bruce Rauner says he has been open to potential new revenue sources but a retirement tax would not be one.

 

 

More than half of the states tax some form of retirement income. But Illinois has no tax on income from pensions or social security.
 

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Governor Urging Lawmakers To Come Together for Budget Compromise

WITH JUST NINE DAYS LEFT IN THE SPRING LEGISLATIVE SESSION…GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS URGING LAWMAKERS TO COME TOGETHER AND PASS A BALANCED BUDGET ALONG WITH SOME OF HIS PROPOSALS.

 

GOVERNOR RAUNER IS REITERATING HIS CALL FOR THINGS LIKE WORKER’S COMPENSATION REFORM AND A PROPERTY TAX FREEZE WHICH HE SAYS ARE VITAL TO IMPROVING THE STATE’S ECONOMY.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE’S ALREADY MADE SIGNIFICANT COMPROMISES AND WHITTLED DOWN HIS DEMANDS. HE ASKS LAWMAKERS TO DO THE SAME. BUT WHAT’S HIS BIGGEST PRIORITY?

 

 

THE STATE HAS BEEN WITHOUT A BUDGET FOR MORE THAN 10 MONTHS NOW. THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS MAY 31ST. AFTER THAT DATE…IT REQUIRES MORE VOTES TO PASS BILLS…MAKING THE PROCESS EVEN MORE DIFFICULT.

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Republicans Vote To Stay With Traditional Marriage

This weekend the Republican party of Illinois votes to stay the course of defining marriage between one man and one woman.

 

The decision was met with spirited debate at the Republican's annual convention in Peoria. Both sides of the argument were heard during debate of delegates.

 

Those who encouraged a change to “non-traditional families are worthy of the same respect and legal protections as traditional families” were treated to boos and a shout to “go home”.

 

Supporters of traditional-marriage said that rank and file Republican’s supported holding to the message. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

What started off as a chilly week is expected to become a warm weekend. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more

 

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Illinois State Fair grandstand concert tickets go on sale today

ILLINOIS STATE FAIR GRANDSTAND CONCERT TICKETS GO ON SALE THIS SATURDAY.

 

ONLINE SALES BEGIN SATURDAY AT 10 A.M. AT TICKETMASTER DOT COM FOR CONCERTS LIKE PAT BENATAR, MEGHAN TRAINOR, JAKE OWEN, DIERKS BENTLEY, KISS AND ZZ TOP. FAIR SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK SAYS YOU CAN ALSO UPGRADE YOUR CONCERT TICKETS TO THE POPULAR STAGE SIDE PARTY FOR JUST 30 BUCKS.

 

 

THE FAIR IS ONCE AGAIN OFFERING A COUNTRY BLOWOUT PACKAGE, FEATURING THE FOUR COUNTRY ACTS FOR 114 DOLLARS. THAT’S A 20 PERCENT SAVINGS OFF OF REGULAR PRICES TICKETS. YOU CAN BUY THE PACKAGE AT THE EMMERSON BUILDING ON THE STATE FAIRGROUNDS STARTING MONDAY.

 

 

YOU CAN ALSO ADD THE STAGE SIDE PARTY TICKET FOR JUST 30 BUCKS, WHICH GETS YOU A BUFFET, BEER AND WINE FOR PURCHASE, ENTERTAINMENT AND EARLY ENTRY INTO THE CONCERT. MORE DETAILS AT ILLINOIS DOT GOV SLASH STATE FAIR.

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Secretary of State Jesse White unveils new driver's license process

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE IS UNVEILING A NEW DRIVER’S LICENSE PROCESS.

 

THE CHANGES ARE DESIGNED TO BOOST SECURITY, PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT AND MEET FEDERAL REAL I-D REQUIREMENTS. UNDER THE NEW SYSTEM…SECRETARY WHITE SAYS ANYONE RENEWING THEIR LICENSE WILL NOT BE HANDED AN UPDATED CARD RIGHT AWAY.

 

 

THE U-S DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY HAS SAID THE TEMPORARY PAPER LICENSES CAN BE USED FOR AIR TRAVEL. THE NEW PROCESS WILL BE ESTABLISHED STATEWIDE BY THE END OF JULY.

 

INSTEAD OF GETTING A NEW CARD RIGHT AWAY WHEN YOU GO TO RENEW YOUR LICENSE OR I-D…YOU’LL GET A TEMPORARY PAPER LICENSE WHICH IS VALID FOR 45 DAYS. YOUR INFORMATION WILL BE RUN THROUGH A FRAUD CHECK, AND A NEW CARD MAILED TO YOU. SECRETARY OF STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL JIM BURNS SAYS THE NEW SYSTEM IS NEEDED TO IMPROVE SECURITY AND MEET FEDERAL REAL I-D REQUIREMENTS.

 

BURNS SAYS THE NEW PROCESS SHOULD BE AVAILABLE IN ALL DRIVER’S LICENSE FACILITIES BY THE END OF JULY.

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Senate passes automatic voter registration bill.

AN EFFORT TO SET UP AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION IN ILLINOIS IS MAKING SOME PROGRESS IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE.

 

THE BILL PASSED BY THE SENATE SIGNS PEOPLE UP TO VOTE WHEN THEY VISIT STATE FACILITIES SUCH AS THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE, ALTHOUGH YOU’D HAVE THE OPTION OF OPTING OUT OF THE AUTOMATIC REGISTRATION. SENATOR ANDY MANAR OF BUNKER HILL SAYS THIS STREAMLINES THE NOW DUPLICATIVE PROCESS, SAVES THE STATE MONEY, AND GETS MORE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE ELECTORAL PROCESS.

 

 

SUPPORTERS SAYS AUTOMATICALLY SIGNING PEOPLE UP TO VOTE WOULD SAVE THE STATE AND COUNTY ELECTION CLERKS MONEY, STREAMLINE VOTER REGISTRATION AND GET MORE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE ELECTION PROCESS. THE MEASURE PASSED THE SENATE AND IF IT PASSES THE HOUSE…GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS HE WILL CONSIDER THE PROPOSAL.

 

 

OPPONENTS WORRY ABOUT VOTER FRAUD. THE BILL NOW HEADS TO THE HOUSE FOR A VOTE.
 

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Long Lines at TSA Draw Attention From Durbin

If you’ve traveled by air lately you may have been caught in long lines passing through security. If you haven’t been in the air yet but a summertime trip is coming up you may be surprised how long the lines can get. Those lengthy waits have even been fodder for social media. The lines are receiving attention from elected officials. US Senator Dick Durbin says that he recently spoke to the Secretary of Homeland Security and was told more help is on the way to airports in Chicago.

 

 

Durbin is going to meet again with security and airline officials this week to see if there is more that can be done to address long waits at security before the summer travel season really heats up.

 

Durbin says that he thinks the airlines can help in the situation too. If they make it easier for people to decide to check bags rather than carry them on.

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Clinton Man Found Guilty of Dumping Methamphetamine Manufacturing Waste

A Clinton man was found guilty Thursday on one count of the disposal of Methemphetamine Manufacturing Waste and another of sexual predator in a public park.

 

45-year old Timothy Hannah of Clinton was found guilty of charges stemming from a March 8 incident at Weldon Springs State Park.

 

The charge of disposal of methemphetamine waste is a Class 2 Felony and the charge of sexual predator in a public park is a Class A misdemeanor.

 

Sentencing will be July 25. 

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WATCH President Found Guilty of Assault Charge

The President of the local group WATCH Clinton Landfill has been found guilty of aggrevated battery charges.

 

60-year-old William Spencer of Kenney was found guilty in a jury trial Thursday evening of aggrevated assault charges stemming from an incident in September of 2014.

 

Following a DeWitt County Board meeting, Spencer was in an altercation with Dustin Peterson, who is the President of the DeWitt County Republican Party.

 

Peterson did not retaliate and did not press charges but the incident happened at the DeWitt County Building, which resulted in the charge of assault in a public place, a Class 3 felony.

 

Tom Brown of Pontiac prosecuted the case as a special attorney.

 

Sentencing for Spencer is July 11. 

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Sen. Rose Expects Power Plant Legislation To Be Considered Next Week

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have a lot to consider right now as the spring legislative session begins to wind down, yet heat up at the same time.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose says the nuclear energy bill has his full attention as the deadline of May 24 nears for the Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power Station's self-imposed timeline for decommissioning their facility.

 

 

A public hearing was held yesterday and Sen. Rose indicates that is the next step in the legislation moving forward. The Senator says amendments continue to be made and notes early next week, we could see the legislation on the Senate floor.

 

 

The question becomes what will the Speaker of the House do as Sen. Rose hopes there might be a way to extend the May 31 deadline.

 

 

Sen. Rose says there was a panic among lawmakers in recent months to start to get something done with the budget, and that energy and focus towards the budget has taken away from the negotiations for the nuclear energy bill in Illinois.

 

 

Sen. Rose indicates there's a number of issues the Clinton Power Plant faces, however, there's only one that the State of Illinois can address, and that would be the bringing the plant in line as a renewable energy and clean energy source rather than just carbon-free.

 

There is another rally scheduled in Springfield scheduled for next week. Tuesday, May 31, buses will leave Clinton High School at 9:30 am and will return at 2 pm from Springfield.

 

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

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Officials Ready for May Days Weekend

It's one of the biggest events of the year for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce.

 

Clinton May Days celebration opened last night on the downtown Clinton Square and things get going again tonight with a full weekend in store. Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber, Marian Brisard indicates there's something for everyone; food, live entertainment, carnival rides and plenty of activities.

 

 

A new act on Saturday will be Kevin Semberger's Mighty Crush Team. Brisard says there will be entertainment on the square to cap off the day. Sunday Dance Extreme will perform.

 

 

The May Days festivities will force several street closures in the downtown area as authorities remind residents in that area to be mindful.

 

For more information on all the May Days activities, visit the Chamber website at clintonilchamber.com or call 935-3364. 

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Sen. Rose Says No Money For Central Illinois Colleges in MAP Grant Funding

With the Senate’s action on Thursday, the Illinois General Assembly approved legislation to provide more than $220 million for higher education MAP grants, but there’s a problem: There’s no money to pay for it. Ray Watt has the story:

 

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MAP Grant Bill Sent To Governor

A BILL FULLY FUNDING COLLEGE MAP GRANTS IS HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR’S DESK.

 

THE MEASURE APPROPRIATES 227 MILLION DOLLARS TO THE GRANT PROGRAM FOR LOW INCOME STUDENTS. THESE GRANTS HAVE GONE UNFUNDED DURING THE BUDGET IMPASSE, LEAVING SOME STUDENTS WORRIED THEY MAY HAVE TO DROP OUT SAYS SENATOR DONNE TROTTER.

 

 

OPPONENTS ARGUE THAT THE LEGISLATION PROVIDES NO FUNDING SOURCE FOR THE MAP GRANTS, RENDERING THE EFFORT MEANINGLESS. A FEW WEEKS AGO THE GOVERNOR APPROVED PARTIAL FUNDING OF MAP GRANTS USING SPECIAL STATE FUNDS.

 

MAP GRANTS WERE AWARDED LAST YEAR, BUT STUDENTS AND THE SCHOOLS THEY ATTENDED NEVER RECEIVED THE MONEY DUE TO THE BUDGET STALEMATE.

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Investigators Clear Rutherford

An investigator's review of sexual harassment claims against former Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford finds those claims from a former employee to be unfounded.

 

Rutherford hired Ron Braver and Associates to investigate claims of sexual harassment by former employee Edmund Michalowski.

 

In 2014, he filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was the victim of harassment and then missed out on promotions and raises because he rejected Rutherford's alleged advances.

 

The lawsuit led to Rutherford plunging in the polls in the Governor's race. 

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IDES Monthly Employment Report

APRIL WAS ANOTHER MONTH OF SLOW JOB GROWTH IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE SLIGHTLY TO SIX POINT SIX PERCENT LAST MONTH…BUT 54-HUNDRED JOBS WERE ADDED SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ANALYST EVELINA LOESCHER.

 

 

LOESCHER SAYS MORE THAN HALF OF THE APRIL JOB GROWTH WAS EXPERIENCED IN TEMPORARY JOBS OR EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES.

 

 

THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CAME IN AT FIVE PERCENT FOR APRIL.

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EIU Still in Trouble

Eastern Illinois University says recent stopgap funding from lawmakers won't be sufficient to get the Charleston school through the summer semester.

 

EIU received $12.5 million from the state but President David Glassman says the school will still struggle to make payroll as soon as late July.

 

Layoffs may be needed in the weeks to come. EIU's bloodletting has included the loss of 413 employees in the past year.

 

A hiring freeze is in place, construction projects are on hold and travel and purchases are subject to deep restrictions.

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Governor Discuss Decriminalization of Marijuana Bill

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS HE’D PROBABLY BE O-K WITH A BILL DECRIMINALIZING SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA.

 

LAWMAKERS APPROVED THE LEGISLATION THAT SLAPS FINES OF 100 TO 200 DOLLARS ON SOMEONE CAUGHT WITH 10 GRAMS OF POT OR LESS. OFFENDERS WOULD NOT FACE JAIL TIME. A SIMILAR BILL WAS PASSED LAST YEAR BUT GOVERNOR RAUNER ASKED FOR SOME CHANGES TO THE MEASURE. SO WILL HE SIGN THIS NEW VERSION?

 

 

ANYONE BUSTED UNDER THE NEW RULES WOULD NOT HAVE IT ON THEIR RECORD. THE IDEA IS TO FREE UP THE JUSTICE SYSTEM TO DEAL WITH MORE SERIOUS CRIMES.

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UPDATED: New Coffee Shop Opens in Clinton Today

It's a busy week for the Cedar Square storefronts in Clinton.

 

Pictured Right: Owner Kylie Alexander. 

 

Dollar Tree opened on one side the building and on the very other end, a new coffee shop opens today.

 

Kylie Alexander and her sister, Brynn Girdler are opening Coffee Corner at the west end of Cedar Square behind the Mobil gas station. Alexander says this is something they have aspired towards for some time.

 

 

Alexander says their coffee shop, which is located at the old Sav Mor Pharmacy location, will be very similar to The Loft, in fact she says former owner of the The Loft, Amanda Ferguson, has been extremely helpful in getting them started.

 

 

There's a couple unique blends of coffee the Coffee Corner will offer. According to Alexander, she's really excited about their white expresso.

 

 

Alexander is very pleased with their location because of the outlets of traffic near them.

Starting out, Alexander indicates they won't start serving food until Monday. Their hours will be Monday through Friday, from 6 am to 3 pm then again Saturdays 8 am to noon.

 

They plan to extend their hours during the winter months. 

 

Pictured Right: Coffee Corner Staff

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DeWitt County Museum, Farm Bureau Hosting Ag Day

Clinton elementary school students will be attending Ag Day at the DeWitt County Museum, which is put on by the DeWitt County Farm Bureau.

 

According to Director of the Museum, Joey Woolridge, the day is designed to give area youth an idea of how agriculture equipment has changed over the decades.

 

 

The ag equipment from the Homestead barns and the Museum are all things that are on display during Apple and Pork Festival in the fall. Woolridge indicates they appreciate all their partners and volunteers that help make the event a success for the youth.

 

 

The various implement dealers will bring equipment out for the kids to explore as well as area farmers.

 

The event brings out all the fourth grade students in the school district. 

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Governor Says Shouting and Yelling Won't Solve Problem

As thousands marched in Springfield to rally for AFSCME the Governor toured business in southern Illinois.

 

Gov. Bruce Rauner was fresh off vetoing a union arbitration bill that would have bypassed his authority to potentially finalize union contracts. Rauner took note of the rally in Springfield.

 

 

Rauner maintains that he is optimistic that that a grand bargain a the State House can get done by the end of May.

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Unions March In Springfield

Downtown Springfield had the pedestrian version of bumper to bumper traffic this afternoon as thousands of union supporters marched past the Executive Mansion then rallied outside the State Capitol to protest Gov. Rauner's push to change collective bargaining practices.

 

AFSCME's Anders Lindall says the status quo from the Governors office isn't working.

 

 

Lindall summed up the message of the crowd.

 

 

The march comes on the heels of Rauner's veto of an arbitration bill that would let an arbitrator set state wages and working conditions if talks between the Governor's office and union negotiators failed. Rauner maintains an arbitrator would be union friendly and would cost him his power to represent taxpayers.

 

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce has responded with a statement:

 

“To solve this problem, we need pro-growth reforms to bolster the Illinois economy, which will be good for workers, companies, state government, and the organizations that state government funds. Otherwise, we will be in an increasingly precarious situation with each coming year. Time is running out. Let’s solve this problem now.”

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Senate Passes Smoking Age Bill

After falling a few votes short last week the Senate has passed legislation that would raise the legal smoking age to 21.

 

Supporters of the bill say that it makes it more likely that fewer people will start smoking. Senator Dan McConchie, a Lake Zurich Republican thinks this is just another step at limiting freedom of choice.

 

 

The bill passed 32-22, it still needs to be approved in the House. 

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Labor Overtime Law Upsets LaHood

Central Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood is expressing concern about a new Department of Labor rule regarding overtime.

 

The rule, which is being reviewed by the White House this week, says anyone who is salaried earning up to $50,440 annually is eligible for overtime pay, although that number could change. The current threshold is $23,660.

 

LaHood says he’s getting complaints from many small and medium-sized businesses.

 

 

LaHood says businesses in Illinois are under enough stress with the fiscal climate of the state as it is.

 

 

LaHood adds the rule will affect non-profit groups.

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Clinton Mayor Addresses Meeting with Governor on Power Plant

Last week, around a dozen local leaders were in Springfield to meet with the Governor and Clinton Mayor Roger Cyrulik updated the Clinton City Council on that visit.

 

The Mayor says the meeting was very productive and credits the Governor with his knowledge of the situation and his support for DeWitt County.

 

 

The Mayor disputes the perception the legislation is a bailout for Exelon and says it is about bringing Exelon and nuclear power in line with other energy producers.

 

 

Exelon has put a firm date of May 31 in place for legislation to be passed or they will begin to decommission the plant.

 

Clinton Nuclear Power Station this month has begun their annual refueling outage, which could be their last. 

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Community Readies For May Days

The downtown will be buzzing with activity starting Thursday night as the Clinton Chamber of Commerce again hosts May Days.

 

Marian Brisard it the Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber and says things kick off Thursday evening and run through Sunday. Everything takes place on the square.

 

 

Like in years past, the festival will open with an opening ceremony and local veterans groups do a flag raising ceremony and local minister, Cody Monkman will say a prayer to kick things off.

 

 

Thursday will feature karaoke and race cars on the square. Brisard is excited about this because it will be a promotion of the cars you might see at the Farmer City Raceway.

 

 

There will be several street closures starting Thursday night and Friday night and throughout the weekend on the downtown Clinton Square.

 

For a full list of activities or for a list of locations to purchase pre-sale carnival ride tickets, visit clintonilchamber.com. 

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Leadership Agrees to Form Another Committee

A sit down between the Governor and legislative leaders provided only clarity on who will be looking for common ground on the turnaround agenda.


The get together lasted about 30 minutes today and resulted in forming a group of rank and file lawmakers that will try and find compromise on issues including workers compensation, collective bargaining and pensions.


House Speaker Mike Madigan said afterwards that he will place members in the group but maintains that the Governor’s proposals will hurt the middle class.

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Another Union Agrees to Labor Deal

Another union has agreed to a contract with the Rauner administration. The Illinois Federation of Teachers has committed to a four year labor agreement.


The teachers work at the Illinois School for the Deaf. It’s a contract that follows what the administration has brokered with 17 other unions that cover 5,000 employees. In it teachers agree to a four year wage freeze, changes in health care selections and premiums and an incentive based bonus for teachers.


Even with this win for the administration the state’s largest union, AFSCME, has not agreed to a new deal. AFSCME and the Governor have been talking for nearly a year and recently took their negations to the labor relations board. 

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Clinton Represented at Latest Honor Flight

The community of Clinton is once again represented on the Honor Flight, which takes veterans of past wars, free of charge, to the various sights of Washington, D.C.

 

Often on Regional Radio News, you're able to hear about the Honor Flight while veterans are away, or from them once they've returned, but today we feature a Veteran while he is in Washington, D.C.

 

Bob Thomas served during the Korean War and was in the nation's capitol Tuesday for the Honor Flight. He says seeing all the sights and memorials has left him humbled.

 

 

Thomas is Steve Wilson's father-in-law and says it is humbling to be able to be with him on the Honor Flight and says it's humbling to be among so many that served this country.

 

 

The veterans on the Honor Flight will be welcomed home tonight by local authorities. To be a part of the welcome home, go to the new Dollar Tree parking lot between 9:30 and 10 pm tonight as they are escorted back to town.

 

If you, or someone you know, might be interested in being a part of future flights to Washington, D.C. as a part of the Honor Flight, contact Wilson through the Clinton Rotary Club.

 

You can also contact Jeff Morlock, at 217-853-2530.

 

Veterans make the trip free of charge. Veterans from World War II and the Vietnam War have first priority to make sure as many of them are able to make the trip as possible because of many aging out. 

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City Council Discusses, Approves Fireworks Display Funds

An annual donation the City of Clinton makes to the fireworks display for the Fourth of July was up for discussion and approval Monday night.

 

In years past, Brady Realtors has been at the front of the fundraising effort for the annual 4th of July fireworks display in Clinton and the Clinton City Council has made a donation that has gradually increased over time.

 

This summer, the Celebrate Clinton Association is now the fundraiser leader. The City Council proposed a donation of $5,000 this year, however, members of the Clinton City Council felt that was just a little too much.

 

Commissioner Nan Crang, who also works for Brady Realtors, recognizes it was usually tough to always reach their goal but would like to know what the Celebrate Clinton Association is working with for funding already.

 

 

Commissioners John Wise and Dan Ballenger both point out other departments are making cuts in other places and also feel the $5,000 was a little too much at this time.

 

 

The Council ultimately decided to donate $37-hundred. 

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Rep. Mitchell Says Next Two Weeks Critical For Clinton Power Station

State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) said yesterday the next two weeks are extremely important for the future of the Clinton nuclear power facility. 

 

Exelon has threatened to shut down the facility because it isn't profitable, a move that would be devastating for the local economy. Lawmakers met with Gov. Bruce Rauner last week to discuss efforts to preserve the plant's future.

 

 

Company officials have said the facility is one of two that may close as early as next year if legislation is not enacted by the state by the end of the current legislative session on May 31, 2016. 

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Senior Group Seeking Meal Delivery Volunteers

A program in DeWitt County that aims to provide senior citizens with meals is in need of volunteer help.

 

The Peace Meal program delivers meals to shut in senior citizens across the community on a daily basis and Sissy Leggett, Executive Director of the DeWitt County Friendship Center, indicates they need drivers to deliver those meals to seniors.

 

 

Leggett says the seniors you'd be helping out, often times have more face time with their delivery drivers than their family and friends and in other cases, it could be the only person they see during the course of the day.

 

 

Peace Meal is a daily meal provided at the DeWitt County Friendship Center on Main Street in Clinton. They also provide meals to seniors at home and Leggett says if you can help at all, you can contact the Friendship Center at 217-935-9411. 

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Weekly Crop Report

IT WAS ANOTHER WET WEEK THAT KEPT PRODUCERS OUT OF THE FIELD AS WE HEAR IN THE LATEST ILLINOIS CROP REPORT.

 

ONLY ABOUT ONE DAY WAS SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK ON AVERAGE THIS PAST WEEK…SLOWING PLANTING PROGRESS IN SOME AREAS SAYS STATE CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.

 

 

29 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS HAVE NOW BEEN PLANTED AND 10 PERCENT HAS EMERGED.

 

 

FOUR PERCENT OF SORGHUM AND 93 PERCENT OF OAT ACRES HAVE NOW BEEN PLANTED.

 

THE FIRST CUTTING OF ALFALFA HAY IS NOW 10 PERCENT COMPLETE.

 

AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE NOW STANDS AT TWO PERCENT SHORT…67 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 31 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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State Fair Grandstand Tickets To Go on Sale

Illinois State Fair grandstand tickets will go on sale soon, but if you want first dibs, you'll have to point and click or use your smartphone.

 

Illinois Agriculture spokeswoman Rebecca Clark says tickets will be available online this weekend before opening up to the walkup crowd next week.

 

 

The online ticket sales will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday.

 

This year's grandstand lineup features big names like Kiss, Little Big Town, Meghan Trainor, Dierks Bentley and Jake Owen. 

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Governor Vetoes Union Arbitration Bill

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS AGAIN VETOING A CONTROVERSIAL UNION NEGOTIATION BILL.

 

THE LEGISLATION IS HEAVILY FAVORED BY AFSCME, THE LARGEST UNION OF STATE WORKERS…WHO HAVE BEEN WITHOUT A CONTRACT SINCE LAST JULY. IT SENDS STALLED CONTRACT TALKS TO AN ARBITRATOR FOR A FINAL DECISION. LAST WEEK RAUNER MADE IT CLEAR HOW HE FELT ABOUT THE BILL.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR VETOED A SIMILAR MEASURE LAST YEAR. IN HIS LATEST VETO MESSAGE…RAUNER SAYS AFSCME IS MAKING UNREASONABLE DEMANDS. HE HAS ASKED THE STATE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD TO DETERMINE IF NEGOTIATIONS ARE AT AN IMPASSE.

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Over 15-Thousand Turkeys Harvested During Spring Season

HUNTERS TOOK MORE THAN 15 THOUSAND TURKEYS DURING THE SPRING HARVEST SEASON IN ILLINOIS.

 

AT 15 THOUSAND 484 BIRDS…THIS WAS THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW FOR IMPROVED HARVEST NUMBERS IN ILLINOIS SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON TIM SCHWEIZER

 

 

THE TURKEY POPULATION HAD BEEN DECLINING DUE TO POOR REPRODUCTION BUT THEIR NUMBERS HAVE BEEN INCREASING IN RECENT YEARS.

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Governor and Leaders To Meet Today

For a group of people that all work in the same building they don’t often wind up in the same room, but it’s happening today.

 

Governor Bruce Rauner along with the four legislative leaders will meet for just the second time all year. That means that Rauner will sit with House Speaker Michael Madigan, Minority leader Jim Durkin, Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

 

Details on the meeting are scarce but the sit down has been confirmed by the Governor’s staff.

 

The state is closing in on a full year without a budget and the deadline to approve one without a super majority is the end of the month. 

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CHS Fishing Squad Qualifies For State Tournament

The Clinton High School fishing team is headed to the State Tournament this weekend.

 

Fishing Coach Jay Peterson explains the team took home the Sectional title and have qualified themselves to move on to the tournament at Carlisle Lake. He says it's been a pretty good year so far.

 

 

Peterson indicates each school is represented by up to two teams, and qualifying fish for weight have to be at least 12 inches. The team with the most weight in fish is the winner.

 

 

Peterson says it has been nice for the team to have some success and is looking forward to the state tournament this weekend.

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CPPRT Error Hits Local District Hard

A calculation error in the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax, or CPPRT, has forced the State of Illinois to cut back on moneys owed to local entities, and that error could greatly impact one local school district.

 

Dr. Vic Zimmerman, Superintendent of Monticello Schools, says the news came down just a few weeks ago that there was a miscalculation in the funds distributed for CPPRT, and entities received too much money. Now they want it back.

 

 

CPPRT is a revenue source from the 70s that captures the taxes from corporations that taxed both property and equipment. Zimmerman says CPPRT has become a steady source of income for several entities in Piatt County.

 

 

The unexpected announcement and the news that there was an overpayment was very much suspicious but Dr. Zimmerman says he had several questions answered and now believes the overpayment was an honest mistake.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman points out CPPRT cycles up and down in five to seven year cycles. He says they are viewing this as a downturn in that cycle and they will put into motion what they planned on for many years, and utilizing reserves for when CPPRT is not always on an upswing. 

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Suspect in Mahomet Police Officer Shooting Found Dead

The search for a man suspected of shooting a police officer came to an end with a shootout near the Shawnee National Forest.

 

Illinois State Police say that Clint Pendleton was shot and killed in an abandoned house. Pendleton was wanted in connection with a shooting of an officer in Mahomet.

 

An FBI agent was wounded in the second gun fight Sunday.

 

Pendleton had been on the run for over a week, his manhunt is also to blame for a fatal wreck when a responding ISP officer and 26 year old woman collided.

 

The Decatur woman was killed in the accident. 

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Teen Smokers Can Continue to Buy Tobacco

Teen smokers will still be able to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products in Illinois. Lawmakers failed to get the votes to push the legal age to purchase those products to 21.

 

But the bill was crafted in such a way to only prohibit the sale of products to individuals under 21, not possession. Bill sponsors didn’t want the new law to adversely impact newly underage smokers with burdensome fines.

 

Senator John Mulroe, a Chicago Democrat, says the bill was a way to keep more teenagers from smoking.

 

 

Senator Dan McConchie, a Lake Zurich Republican, thinks this is a step too far in governmental control of personal decisions.

 

 

The votes to support the bill weren’t there, so it was pulled and put on hold. Paving a path towards it possibily coming around for another vote.

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Illinois State Police warns of phone scam circulating the state

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS WARNING ABOUT A PHONE SCAM THAT’S BEEN CIRCULATING THE STATE.

 

REPORTS HAVE BEEN COMING IN FROM ALL OVER ILLINOIS ABOUT A CALLER CLAIMING TO BE THE STATE POLICE AND ASKING FOR MONEY SAYS SERGEANT MIKE LINK.

 

 

LINK SAYS THE STATE POLICE DOES NOT SOLICIT PEOPLE FOR MONEY OR CALL FOR PAYMENT OVER AN ARREST WARRANT. HE URGES ANYONE WHO MAY BE THE VICTIM OF A PHONE SCAM TO REPORT IT TO THE ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE.

 

IN THE SCAM, THE CALLER ASKS FOR A DONATION…OR SAYS YOU NEED TO PAY UP BECAUSE THERE IS A WARRANT OUT FOR YOUR ARREST. BOTH ARE BOGUS SAYS STATE POLICE SERGEANT MIKE LINK.

 

 

LINK RECOMMENDS REPORTING SUCH CALLS TO THE ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE.

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Organ and tissue donor registry hits six million

SIX MILLION PEOPLE HAVE NOW SIGNED UP FOR THE STATE’S ORGAN AND TISSUE DONOR REGISTRY.

 

IT’S A MILESTONE THAT SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE IS THRILLED TO HAVE REACHED SAYS SPOKESPERSON DAVE DRUKER.

 

 

STILL…300 PEOPLE DIE WAITING FOR A TRANSPLANT EACH YEAR IN ILLINOIS, SO THOSE WHO HAVEN'T REGISTERED YET ARE ENCOURAGED TO DO SO.

 

WHITE SAYS HE IS DELIGHTED TO HAVE HIT THE SIX MILLION MARK, SINCE JUST ONE PERSON CAN SAVE OR IMPROVE THE LIVES OF UP TO 25 OTHERS THROUGH ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION. SPOKESPERSON DAVE DRUKER SAYS THEY’VE WORKED HARD TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT THE ISSUE.

 

 

DRUKER ENCOURAGES THOSE WHO HAVEN’T REGISTERED TO GO AHEAD AND DO SO ONLINE AT LIFE GOES ON DOT COM.

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Congressman Davis Calls on Illinois Lawmakers To Pass Pro-Nuclear Energy Bill

It's a race against time in Springfield and a federal lawmaker is throwing his support behind an effort that effects DeWitt County and numerous other communities in Illinois.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis is calling on Illinois lawmakers to pass legislation that would bring nuclear power in line with other energy-producing industries, and would also allow the Clinton Nuclear Power Plant, and others statewide, to remain viable.

 

 

Congressman Davis understand the impacts the power plant has on the community and knows first hand, the challenges the nuclear industry faces as he "battles" the Obama administrations attacks on the coal industry, which has had a direct impact on nuclear power.

 

 

Congressman Davis, like others, is calling on central Illinois residents to reach out to Illinois lawmakers and make their voices heard.

 

Exelon Clinton Nuclear power station has given a deadline of May 31 for legislation to be passed otherwise, the company plans to decommission the plant because of profitability concerns. 

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Rainy Weather Delaying Clinton Save-A-Lot Construction

Construction has been hampered this past week at the new location of the Clinton Save-A-Lot at Washington and Monroe Streets.  General contractor Dave Waters tells Regional Radio News that the rains have slowed progress on the new building, which is slated to open this fall.  The new building will replace the existing building on North Center Street.

 

 

 

 

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Local Leaders Meet With Governor To Convey Message of Clinton Nuclear Power Plant

Local leaders met with the Governor earlier this week to continue to spread the message of the Clinton Power Plant and it's impact on our community.

 

Local leaders along with State Senator Chapin Rose and Representative Bill Mitchell were granted time with the Governor and Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell indicates they told the Governor what the power plant means to the community.

 

 

According to Followell, the Governor seemed very understanding of the challenges the Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power plant and others face.

 

 

Followell continues to encourage contacting not just lawmakers locally, but reach out to lawmakers in every part of the state to spread this message.

 

Followell says local lawmakers have been extremely pleased with the grassroots efforts to get the message out and they all say that needs to continue. 

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Heyworth Hey Days This Weekend

Food, entertainment, arts and crafts. It's all happening this weekend at Heyworth's Hey Days festival.

 

Jeff Dodds is the Heyworth City Manager says their annual Hey Days festival has something for everyone.

 

Central Illinois is invited to join Heyworth this weekend because Dodds calls this an opportunity to promote their community.

 

 

Heyworth Hey Days kicks off last night in downtown Heyworth.

 

Hear live coverage from Hey Days Friday evening on 95.9 FM WEZC from 5 pm to 6 pm.

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Local Superintendent Says Latest Funding Proposal Won't Work

A local Superintendent says a recent school funding reform proposal that has passed the Senate, and now heads to the House, is not going to work.

 

Mike Williams is the Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools and says the latest funding proposal that has passed the Illinois Senate is essentially a redistribution of wealth among Illinois schools. He says the bill doesn't really address the underlying issue.

 

 

Under the proposal, the Maroa-Forsyth district would stand to lose almost a third of their state funding. Williams feels the state is not considering the local tax rates and revenues district to district.

 

 

Williams says the proposal isn't going to work and doesn't see how it will pass in it's current form.

 

 

For local superintendents, the frustration of all the reform proposals boils down to the fact the current formula hasn't been fully funded in almost 10 years, and Williams says before all the prorations started, no one was complaining about the funding formula.

 

 

Williams says Maroa-Forsyth spends just short of $10-thousand for each student in the district, however, he says schools in the Chicago suburbs are spending twice that much, and some more.

 

He doesn't have a perfect answer and feels the way the current proposal plays out, it stacks districts against each other and doesn't put the students first.  

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Senate Votes To Give Healthcare Workers A Raise

HOME HEALTH CARE WORKERS WOULD GET A RAISE UNDER LEGISLATION APPROVED BY THE SENATE THIS WEEK.

 

THE BILL BOOSTS PAY FOR THOSE WHO TAKE CARE OF THE DISABLED AND ELDERLY UP TO 15 DOLLARS AN HOUR. THAT’S ABOUT A TWO DOLLAR RAISE. SENATOR MIKE HASTINGS OF TINLEY PARK SAYS THE INCREASE IS NEEDED TO KEEP WORKERS IN THE INDUSTRY.

 

 

SENATOR DALE RIGHTER OF MATTOON SAYS THE STATE JUST CAN’T AFFORD IT.

 

 

OPPONENTS SAY THE STATE CAN’T AFFORD THE RAISE, BUT HASTINGS ARGUES THAT MONEY IS SAVED IN THE LONG RUN BY KEEPING PEOPLE IN THEIR HOMES. THE BILL NOW MOVES TO THE HOUSE.

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Rauner Examining Budget Proposals

A new budget proposal has been submitted at the state house. Negotiators, a group that does not include the leaders or Governor has been meeting for months and they now have something to show for it.

 

The balanced budget contains cuts and tax increases, but increases in revenue outpace cuts by about 2 to 1. Governor Bruce Rauner says that he wants to take a long look at it before saying if it’s the right thing to do.

 

 

Governor Bruce Rauner says time is running out for lawmakers to carve an easier path to passing what he’s sees as a potential grand bargain.

 

 

The bill would borrow $5 billion to pay down a backlog of bills, with the borrowing set to be paid down over 5 years. In total the revenue hike is $5.4 billion to go along with $2.4 billion in cuts.

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Rauner Calls Manar Plan Unworkable

Governor Bruce Rauner isn't attacking House Speaker Mike Madigan by name these days but in the debate over school funding reform, he's taking the direct approach in his critique of State Senator Andy Manar's vision on the issue.

 

 

Speaking at New Berlin High School near Springfield, Rauner notes it's not exactly an issue that can be solved with soundbites.

 

 

Rauner is pitching a school funding plan that he says will fully fund schools for the first time in seven years.

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Mitsubishi Plant Has Buyer in Bloomington-Normal

Even though the Mitsubishi plant in Normal has a new buyer, the future is still uncertain.

 

President of Maynards Industries of Detroit Taso Safokitis (Toss-oh Saw-fo-Kite-us) says there are too many variables to know what a strategic buyer would want out of the plant. He tells us, the size of the plant is much larger than what many manufacturers are looking for.

 

 

Safokitis (Toss-oh Saw-fo-Kite-us) says there are too many variables to know exactly what will happen to the former Mitsubishi Plant, but hopes they can find a strategic buyer.

 

 

The building is 28 years old. Safokitis (Saw-fo-Kite-us) says if they do find a buyer, the public may not know until it's a done deal.

 

Maynards takes over June 1st when the final Mitsubishi employees walk off the job site.

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House Passes Social Services Spending

The House has passed nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in funding for human services.

 

The $700 million will in part fund services haven’t been receiving money as part of court ordered consent decrees.

 

Again funding for the bill relies on sweeps of money from set aside funds to pay for the services.

Programs would less than 50 percent funded if the bill becomes law.

 

The Governor continues to push for a comprehensive budget bill. 

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Durbin Continues Push for President Obama Funding Request for Zika

The US Senate seems to agree something significant needs to be done about the mosquito delivered Zika virus.

 

One thing that continues to separate them is the pricetag. Senator Dick Durbin continues to call for the President's request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding and he says time is of the essence.

 

Republican leaders Illinois is among the states that can be reached by the mosquitos that carry Zika. 

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Governor Critical of Senate Education Bill

After speaking to students at New Berlin High School in Sangamon County this morning, Governor Bruce Rauner criticized Democratic State Senator Andy Manar’s Senate Bill 231, which is his latest school funding proposal, a day after it passed in the Senate.

 

 

New Berlin Superintendent Adam Ehrman stressed that Manar’s funding reform bill would negatively impact his school district.

 

 

The bill now moves to the Illinois House.

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Congressman Davis Discusses Opioid Addictions

Congressman Rodney Davis wouldn't settle for mere statistics in studying the issue of opioid addiction. He took his research to the streets with ridealongs with the K9 unit for the McClean County Sheriff's office.

 

That department has seen an increase in opioid overdose deaths and 70 percent increase in controlled substance arrests. Davis says it's part of a downstate trend.

 

 

Davis stresses the face of opioid addiction has changed considerably.

 

 

The House has passed legislation aimed at curbin opioid addiciton, but it had no funding attached. A proposal to help the cause through millions in grants is now under consideration. 

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Community Garden Takes Off in Clinton

An idea that essentially flopped a few years ago has unexpectedly found success this spring.

 

In the spring of 2014, the City of Clinton attempted a community garden concept which would allow community members who did not have access to or wanted a hobby, to be able to grow plants in the summer months. The idea never materialized according to City Administrator Tim Followell.

 

 

Followell indicates he is not exactly sure why, a few years later, the community garden concept has taken off but he indicates it has and the few plots they have available at the Jefferson Street flood plain, is full.

 

 

Followell indicates because there is only one water source available at the plot site, they cannot expand towards the west, or towards Alexander Street. 

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Warner Library Promoting Gardening Through Second Year Program

If you haven't started your garden at home yet, a community group is hoping you'll take advantage of a free program they have that encourages gardening.

 

The Warner Library's Seed Library is underway for the second year and Bobbi Perryman, Librarian at the Clinton Library says they have all sorts of varieties of seeds available for your garden.

 

 

To check out the varieties of seeds available, visit the Warner Library at 310 North Quincy Street. 

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FBI After Man Wanted in Mahomet Police Officer Shooting

A reward is on the table for information leading towards finding a man wanted for shooting a police officer in the east central Illinois town of Mahomet.

 

The FBI is offering $10,000 to help find Clint Pendleton of Bellflower.

 

Reports have Pendleton spotted around Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois.

 

Pendleton is considered armed and dangerous. 

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House Passes Bill For Human Service Programs

HOUSE LAWMAKERS ARE LOOKING AT A PLAN TO STEER 700 MILLION DOLLARS TO STRUGGLING HUMAN SERVICE PROGRAMS.

 

THE MONEY COMES FROM A HUMAN SERVICES FUND AND OTHER SPECIAL FUNDS…AND IS MEANT TO HELP SOCIAL SERVICE PROVIDES GET BY UNTIL A FULL BUDGET IS PASSED SAYS REPRESENTATIVE GREG HARRIS OF CHICAGO.

 

 

THE MONEY WILL FUND SERVICES LIKE HOMELESS PREVENTION AND ADDICTION TREATMENT…AND COMES FROM SOME UNUSED SPECIAL STATE FUNDS. REP. HARRIS ADDS THEY HOPE THIS GIVES SERVICE PROVIDERS SOME RELIEF WHILE THEY WAIT FOR A FULL STATE BUDGET TO BE PASSED.

 

 

LAWMAKERS APPROVED A SIMILAR MEASURE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION. THE HUMAN SERVICES BILL PASSED COMMITTEE AND NOW WILL BE HEARD ON THE HOUSE FLOOR.

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Downstate Lawmaker Fights For Coal

A group of downstate lawmakers is rallying around the state's beleaguered coal industry.

The group, including Republican State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeier of Jacksonville want to make sure Illinois coal is a part of the energy discussion.

 

 

Legislation would get coal in the discussion by creating an incentive program within the Illinois Commerce Commission to put scrubbers on the existing coal fired facilities the state already has, many of which are in jeopardy of closing.

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Senate Republicans Shy Away from Education Reform

Education funding reform passed the Illinois Senate this week. It’s been a two year push by Andy Manar, a Democrat from Blue Mound. But the bill came up with just one Republican vote, Sam McCann.

 

The partisan nature of the debate bothered Manar; he says that failing to do anything to change the system will cause it to further erode. And simply moving ahead with the Governor’s plan of restoring foundation level spending continues to make sure poorer district stay that way.

 

 

Opponents to the bill note that some districts will lose out on funding. Manar says some of those districts already have huge cash reserves and in a few years when those schools do see less state funding they will be able to adjust.

 

 

Governor Rauner's plan will spend $55 million more but opponents to it say it will send it more cash into a broken system where the wealthiest districts continue to start even further ahead of the poorest. 

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Illinois River Quality Being Measured

Results of a study show the Illinois River is getting cleaner.

 

Scientists at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois say the reduction in the amount of nitrogen released into the river from Chicago and runoff from some farm fields represents a new milestone.

 

Greg McIsaac (MICK-eye-sick) serves as one of two U-of-I researchers measuring progress on a statewide effort to improve water quality;

 

 

Illinois adopted a statewide Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy last year. Its ultimate goal is to help reduce the so-called dead-zone in the Gulf of Mexico caused by wastewater, excess fertilizer and other chemicals.

 

 

McIsaac describes the role of rural Illinois and the study’s results.

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Clinton Man Gets Car Stuck in Rural DeWitt County; No Injuries Reported

A Clinton man is safe after his car was swept away by the current of a small DeWitt County creek.

 

At approximately 3:55 pm, CENCOM was notified 55-year old Marvin Long of Clinton was stuck in a creek off Paintball Road in rural DeWitt County.

 

The creek that runs along Paintball Road had flooded over a graveled path after the rain of Monday night. During an attempt to drive through the flooded area, Long's vehicle was swept into the creek by the current, and Long was deemed stuck.

 

A crane provided by Dan Ballenger was able to bring Long to safety and then remove his vehicle from the water.

 

Crews from Clinton and Kenney Fire Departments were on scene along with the DeWitt County EMS. 

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Trails For Illinois Heading Rebuilding of Weldon Springs

A non-profit group has targeted DeWitt County's Weldon Springs as the focus of their efforts this summer.

 

In July and August, Trails for Illinois will lead a group of volunteers aiming to rebuild and improve the trails at Weldon Springs. Steve Buchtel (pictured right) is the Executive Director for Trails for Illinois, and explains they team with several other groups to improve the trails in Illinois parks.

 

 

According to Buchtel, Weldon Springs has a lot of work to be done but not the manpower to get it done. He says Weldon Springs has a lot of potential.

 

 

The goal of Trails for Illinois is to help communities take funds that are leaving the state through federal taxes, and bring those back to Illinois to make an impact where they came from.

 

 

Buchtel indicates, when the time comes for the Springs to be worked on, they will need community support. To learn about how you can get involved in that effort, visit trailsforillinois.org/iltrailcorps. 

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Clinton YMCA Focused on Intentional Impact

As the Clinton YMCA continues through their current Strong Kids campaign, their leader is hopeful their projections for this year are part of a trend that meets a goal.

 

The YMCA's $100-thousand goal for their Strong Kids fundraiser is going to continue to supplement money put back into the the community through scholarships and financial aid. Rennie Cluver is the YMCA Executive Director and says while they maintain their goal for the annual fundraiser, they are projecting a smaller amount of dependence on scholarships and financial aid for the community.

 

 

According to Cluver, he and his staff are analyzing every program they have. He explains their goals for each program will be looked at and if they are seeing positive trends, they want to know why.

 

 

Cluver indicates his staff has looked internally on ways to be intentional and as they continue on, his hope is their members will be open to talking to YMCA staffers about how the YMCA has impacted their lives.

 

 

Cluver will be reaching out to various community groups in hopes of rallying support through their Strong Kids campaign. In the coming years, he hopes efforts through the intentional impact focus will allow them to show more substantial results. 

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Revamped School Aid Formula Passed

THE ILLINOIS SENATE APPROVED LEGISLATION TUESDAY CREATING A NEW METHOD FOR DETERMINING HOW MUCH STATE AID LOCAL SCHOOLS RECEIVE.

 

THE SPONSOR OF THE MEASURE, SENATOR ANDY MANAR OF BUNKER HILL SAYS THE PLAN MAKES SURE STATE MONEY IS DISTRIBUTED BASED ON NEED, NOT ZIP CODE.

 

 

SENATOR MATT MURPHY OF PALATINE SAYS THE WHOLE PROPOSAL IS DESIGNED TO HELP CHICAGO.

 

 

MANAR’S PLAN WHICH WOULD BE PHASED IN OVER A COUPLE OF YEARS AND WOULD MEAN LESS MONEY FOR SOME SCHOOLS…AND MORE FOR OTHERS.

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Impact of Local Universities Studied

A recent study released by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs indicates that Western Illinois University’s economic impact within a 16-county region in west central Illinois is approximately $473 million.

 

During Fiscal Year 2015, the University's employment and operations, capital improvement expenditures and student expenditures created or supported 3,904 full- and part-time employment positions, generating nearly $225.5 million in labor income. Counties included are Adams, Brown, Carroll, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jo Davies, Knox, Mason, McDonough, Mercer, Rock Island, Schuyler, Warren and Whiteside.

 

The total annual economic impact of WIU is determined by several components including $89.6 million in operational expenditures; $172.3 million in employment compensation; $40.8 million in student expenditures; and $8.2 million in capital improvement and construction expenditures. 

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Department of Agriculture Plans To Address Gyspy Moth

You’ve heard of the emerald ash borer, but there’s another invasive insect causing problems in the area that you might not know about.

 

Scott Schirmer, Plant and Pesticide Specialist Supervisor with the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture, says that gypsy moths are a big threat to trees, especially oaks.

 

 

Schirmer adds the flakes are not like the regular pesticides that are sometimes sprayed on crops – they’re about the size of cupcake sprinkles.

 

 

So, the dept. will be applying pheromone flakes to about 25,000 acres of land in LaSalle and Putnam counties to help prevent an increase in the population of these pests.

 

The flakes are not harmful to humans, animals, plants, or other insects, and merely prevent the adult male moths from seeking out females to breed with. The flakes will be applied aerially on June 25th and 27th, depending on weather conditions.

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Clinton Community Education Foundation To Help Host Annual Awards Banquet

In an effort to make the academic achievements and recognitions of local students more special, one community organization is stepping up again to make that happen.

 

Eileen Carter, with the Clinton Community Education Foundation, explains they are stepping up again this year to provide local students with a more than just another awards ceremony through their annual Gold Star Banquet.

 

 

The banquet is by invitation only, and those have gone out for the year. As a part of the event, to make it more affordable, Carter indicates the CCEF has helped pick up the tab for this year's dinner.

 

 

At the Gold Star Banquet, students will find out what scholarships they have received and Carter adds, they will award a new scholarship in addition to all the others.

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Social Security Encourages Medicare Recipients To Look Into Financial Assistance

If you receive Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and you aren't getting financial assistance from Extra Help, Social Security is encouraging you to at least look into it.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security explains because there are costs involved in Medicare Part D, the Extra Help assistance program is a great way for those who qualify to reduce the burden on their budget.

 

 

There are limits for the program because it is a needs based program. Myers indicates these include income and asset limits for single and married people.

 

 

Myers indicates there is a lot to consider for the program but he says it can make a big difference. It could save you up to $4-thousand a year.

 

 

To learn more about Extra help, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call 800-772-1213. 

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Weekly Crop Report

THE COOL, WET WEATHER THIS PAST WEEK SLOWED CORN AND SOYBEAN PLANTING FOR SOME PRODUCERS AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT.

 

ON AVERAGE, THERE WERE LESS THAN THREE DAYS SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK SAYS STATE CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.

 

 

19 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS HAVE NOW BEEN PLANTED, AND ONE PERCENT HAS EMERGED. 91 PERCENT OF OATS AND THREE PERCENT OF SORGHUM HAS BEEN PLANTED AND 65 PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED.

 

 

THE FIRST CUTTING OF ALFALFA HAY IS NOW FIVE PERCENT COMPLETE.


AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE REMAINED VIRTUALLY UNCHANGED AT TWO PERCENT SHORT, 72 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 26 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Governor's Breakfast Put Off Due To Budget

An annual event since the early 1960’s is being called off because of the lack of a state budget.

 

The Governor’s Prayer Breakfast started in 1963 and survived wars, recessions and impeached governors but this year it’s struggling to get a toehold. The event is not state funded but generally attracts the Governor and other elected officials each year.

 

But the volunteer’s that run the event say Bruce Rauner and others have bigger issues and that’s made it difficult to find speakers.

 

The event is generally in the spring but the group is looking at this as a postponement and hoping to find a spot to bring it back next year. 

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Governor Urging Lawmakers To Pass Clean Education Funding Bill

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS URGING LAWMAKERS TO QUICKLY PASS AN EDUCATION FUNDING BILL TO MAKE SURE SCHOOLS CAN OPEN IN THE FALL.

 

GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD BUILD ON THE RECENT SPIRIT OF BIPARTISANSHIP AT THE CAPITOL AND ENSURE “K” THROUGH 12 EDUCATION IS PROPERLY FUNDED.

 

 

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JIM DURKIN ECHOED THAT SENTIMENT.

 

 

RAUNER IS CALLING FOR AN INCREASE IN EDUCATION SPENDING, SO THAT THE SCHOOL STATE AID FORMULA IS FULLY FUNDED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SEVEN YEARS.

 

RAUNER SAYS HE WELCOMES IDEAS ON HOW TO MORE FAIRLY FUND SCHOOLS IN ILLINOIS…BUT SAYS IN THE MEANTIME, LAWMAKERS NEED TO APPROVE THE INCREASE IN EDUCATION SPENDING HE IS PROPOSING.

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Overpayments Causing Frustration

For once the state over paid a bill but now they want that extra money back.

 

Peoria State Senator Chuck Weaver expressing frustration at an Illinois Department of Revenue mistake that is impacting local governments. IDR wrongly sent $168-million in overpayments last month to 6,500 governments throughout the state.

 

 

The state says it’s going to work with local taxing bodies on a repayment plan that’ll spread the payments out over an extended period of time. 

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Clinton YMCA's Strong Kids Campaign In Full Swing

A non-profit Clinton organization is in the midst of their biggest fundraiser of the year.

 

The Strong Kids Campaign is annual effort by the Clinton YMCA that helps them subsidize financial opportunities for the kids that participate in their programs. CEO Rennie Cluver explains they will ask for pledges from businesses, community groups and individuals as a part of this process.

 

 

The goal for the Strong Kids Campaign in 2016 is $100-thousand. Cluver indicates they subsidize that entire amount, and then some, back into financial scholarships for the community.

 

 

Cluver explains the funds donated are very visible. The programs they offer are often times able to be put on thanks to the Strong Kids campaign, without that subsidy, some programs might have to go away.

 

 

As Executive Director, one Cluver's goals is to gradually decrease the community's reliance on the financial aid. He indicates there is an initiative they have started internally to begin to analyze their programs and how what the Y is doing can help in that process.

 

Learn more about that effort later this week on Regional Radio News. 

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atur Woman Killed in Crash Related Officer Shooting in Mahomet

A police officer is recovering after being shot in eastern Illinois town of Mahomet and a manhunt is underway for the shooter. At the same time a woman is dead after colliding with an Illinois State Police car that was joining the pursuit of the suspected gunman.

 

Police say during a traffic stop, Dracy Pendleton of Bellflower shot Officer Jeremy Scharlow in the arm. Scharlow is recovering and is out of the hospital. Police believe Pendleton was also shot during the incident; he is being sought on charges of attempted murder of a police officer.

 

The story has another tragic twist. State Police say that an officer responding to the incident stuck a minivan in an intersection in Decatur and the driver of the van was killed. ISP says the trooper’s lights and sirens were activated.

 

The search remains underway for Pendleton. Authorities say he fled in a white pickup truck and is armed with an AK-47. 

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Scams Continue To Be An Issue Locally

It's an issue that may never go away and continues to be a problem locally.

 

Scam attempts continue to bombard the local population, especially senior citizens. DeWitt County Friendship Center Executive Director, Sissy Leggett explains they have an upcoming program about protecting yourself from identity theft and scams.

 

 

While the program later this month will talk about some of these things, Leggett reminds residents organizations like the IRS or Social Security never contact you over the phone. She also encourages never giving out personal information over the phone either.

 

 

That program with the East Central Illinois Agency on Aging is May 25. 

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School Choice Being Swayed By State Budget

Illinois school officials say the college choices for high school students in the state may be getting swayed by the state budget impasse.

 

President of the Illinois School Counseling Association Sherri McLaughlin says as students statewide face a deadline in several weeks to pick a school, they’re picking outside the Land of Lincoln for a variety of reasons.

 

McLaughlin says a number of high school seniors are choosing schools with the best financial aid packet.

 

 

McLaughlin says states that are, in particular, working to attract Illinois students with a better financial aid packet include Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri.

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Map Effort Drops Off Half Million Signatures

What lawmakers couldn’t accomplish a group is hoping that more than 550,000 people can.

 

The leaders of the Independent Map coalition delivered more than half a million signatures Friday to the State Board of Elections. The effort’s behind adding a question to the fall ballot for voters to approve a change to the way legislative maps are drawn.

 

A previous effort was blocked in the courts.

 

The signatures need to be verified and the group needs 290,216 approved signatures.

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State Prohibits Insurance Companies Using Credit Scores To Determine Rates

LEGISLATION PENDING IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE PROHIBITS AUTO INSURERS FROM BASING RATES ON YOUR CREDIT RATING.
 
PREMIUM RATES OFTEN FACTOR IN A DRIVER’S CREDIT SCORE…WHICH SENATOR JACQUELINE COLLINS OF CHICAGO SAYS DOESN’T REALLY MAKE SENSE.
 
 
SHE SAYS IT’S AN UNFAIR PRACTICE.
 
 
COLLINS SAYS THIS IS ESPECIALLY A PROBLEM IN LOW INCOME MINORITY COMMUNITIES WHERE DRIVERS MAY BE MORE APT TO HAVE A LOWER CREDIT SCORE. THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY STRONGLY OPPOSES THE BILL.

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Scovill Zoo Offering Moms Free Admissions This Weekend

Moms are getting in free at a local attraction this weekend.

 

Moms can take advantage of free admission at the Scovill Zoo in Decatur this weekend. Director Ken Frye says if you've got a child that qualifies for admission, mom gets her admittance on the zoo.

 

 

While you're at the zoo this weekend, check out their new cheetahs. Frye explains the new two and a half year old cheetahs are still adjusting to their 14-year old males. Frye says the two new cheetahs are having a good time.

 

 

The Zoo opens at 9:30 am and remains open until 5 pm with last admissions at 4 pm. 

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Democrat on Ballot in 18th District

It’s a two way race now in the Illinois 18th Congressional District. After winning a seat a special election and then going through a primary a short time later, Congressman Darin LaHood now has an opponent.

 

Democrats in the 18th have selected Junius Rodriguez to fill out the other side of the ballot. Rodriguez is a history professor at Eureka College.

 

The district, which has been held by a republican for more than five decades, spreads over parts of Quincy, Bloomington, Peoria and Springfield. 

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Hal Halbrook To Address Lincoln College Graduates

He's a legend for portraying Mark Twain, but many forget that actor Hal Holbrook previously mastered an even more important historical figure, one Abraham Lincoln. He portrayed Lincoln in a 1974 NBC miniseries.

 

Holbrook never lost his love or fascination with Lincoln, so he's visiting the college that was named after Lincoln while he was still alive, Logan County's Lincoln College.

 

School President Dr. David Gerlach is thrilled to have a Hollywood icon with substance address his students.

 

 

Dr. Gerlach says Holbrook wouldn't do a commencement address for just anyone.

 

 

Holbrook will deliver the commencement address Saturday at 2pm and is also hosting an event similar to Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio with students.

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Illinois Among 4 States To Receive Federal Funds To Combat Drug-Impaired Drivers

ILLINOIS IS ONE OF JUST FOUR STATES RECEIVING FEDERAL MONEY TO COMBAT DRUG-IMPAIRED DRIVERS.

 

THE 20 THOUSAND DOLLARS FROM THE FEDS WILL BE USED TO HOLD 10 POLICE CLASSES AROUND THE STATE SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SPOKESPERSON GIANNA URGO.

 

 

URGO SAYS THE STATE WILL SPEND THE 20 THOUSAND DOLLAR GRANT ON TEACHING POLICE OFFICERS HOW TO BETTER SPOT DRIVERS WHO MAY BE HIGH.

 

 

SINCE 2009…NEARLY 900 LOCAL POLICE IN ILLINOIS HAVE RECEIVED THIS KIND OF TRAINING.

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Former WHOW Announcer Inducted Into Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame

A former WHOW sports announcer was recently inducted into the Illinois High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

Larry Duling of Clinton was one of six Media members to be inducted into the Illinois High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center, Saturday April 30th.

Duling was recognized for his 37 years of play-by-play coverage of High School Sports at Radio Stations WLBH in Mattoon, WHOW in Clinton and most recently, WJBC in Bloomington.  He called Clinton Maroons games on both Radio and Clinton cable TV for 24 years and announced Maroa-Forsyth's dual State Championships in Football and Basketball in 2006-07.

Duling and his Wife Susan have resided in Clinton since 1983. Their two sons are graduates of CCHS. Bryan in 2004 now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Colin, class of 2009 is on the football coaching staff of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. 

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Exelon Announces Hard Date of May 31 for Legislation

If legislation isn't passed by May 31, the Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power Station will be decommissioned, as has been expected for a while now.

 

Today (Friday), Exelon announced a firm date of May 31, which is the end of the spring legislative season, for lawmakers to bring Exelon onto a level playing field with renewable energy sources, or, according to Communications Manager Brett Nauman, they will have to decommission the plant.

 

 

New legislation was introduced yesterday that creates a new emissions standards. Nauman says if passed, this legislation would allow Clinton Power Station to remain open and viable.

 

 

Nauman says there is support for saving the plants on both sides of the aisle, however, the budget issue has taken center stage in recent weeks as momentum begins to build on that front. He is hopeful an agreement can be reached despite the focus on the budget. 

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Truck Overturns Friday On U.S. 51

An overturned semi caused traffic on U.S. 51 south of Clinton to slow down Friday morning.
 
Around 7 o'clock Friday morning, a semi hauling garbage overturned as it was attempting to turn from U.S. 51 into the Clinton Landfill.  The crash was being investigated by the Illinois State Police, however it appears the semi attempted the turn too quick causing it to overturn.  
 
 
Clinton Fire and DeWitt County EMS were called to the scene, however no injuries were immediately reported in the accident.  The DeWitt County Sheriff's Department was also on scene to direct traffic.
 
A crane and other heavy equipment was called in to right the semi.  Cleanup of the trash littering the roadside also took place.

 

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Barn Quilts, Lincoln Wayside Exhibits Among Draws for Tourism in DeWitt County

With Tourism Week in Illinois about to wrap up, and history is a recurring theme in Clinton and DeWitt County.

 

Clinton Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director, Marian Brisard explains their Barn Quilts are a way to highlight that history and the agriculture community of DeWitt County.

 

 

Growing up and practicing law in central Illinois, many communities promote their ties to the great President Abra in some way or another. Joey Woolridge helped organize and put together DeWitt County's Looking For Lincoln Wayside Exhibits which are scattered across the community.

 

 

Woolridge indicates, CH Moore was a very good friend of Abraham Lincoln all the way up to his death, and countless examples of that friendship are at the CH Moore Homestead.

 

To learn more about tourism in DeWitt County, visit clintonilchamber.com and to learn more about the CH Moore Homestead, visit chmoorehomestead.org. 

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Heyworth Revamping Jr. High Technology Program

A local school district is making a concerted effort next year to revamp their technology curriculum at the junior high level.

 

Dr. Ty Wolf is the Superintendent of Heyworth schools and explains they have hired a new technology teacher at the junior high school and they hope to revamp the curriculum to give their students the latest when it comes to technology.

 

 

The eighth grade technology class will become year long starting next year. According to Dr. Wolf, their staff will be learning the ins-and-outs of 3-D printers so they can be used in the classroom.

 

 

Part of the reason for revamping the curriculum is because there are so many opportunities in the world of technology, especially as it relates to jobs. Dr. Wolf explains they hope to just begin to introduce the possibilities to their students.

 

 

Thanks to a $50-thousand grant from the Heyworth Education Foundation, Dr. Wolf explains they will be able to continue their efforts for a piece of technology at each students desk.

 

 

Dr. Wolf says they are aiming to inspire passion for learning, especially when it comes to technology, in their students. He recognizes a career working with technology won't be for every student but technology will be a part of almost every field. 

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Stopgap Funding Proof Lawmakers Can Work Together

The Illinois Senate agrees to give the states’ colleges and universities more money as another day drags by without a state budget. A $454 million stopgap was approved by near unanimous consent and moved to the House.

 

The bill is a far cry from perfect legislation; once again it raids other funds with money in them to pay for something else. But higher ed supporters have been clamoring for funding for months and Chicago State has laid off 300 people. Senator Dale Righter a Republican from Mattoon says this legislation is evidence lawmakers can work together.

 

 

Including the $600 million approved and appropriated from the last education rescue plan passed in April, the total amount would get schools to just 60 percent of what they were counting on at the start of the FY 16 budget year.

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Lawmakers Send Bill To November Ballot

So much for a ballot chocked full of constitutional amendments this fall, Thursday the Senate approved just one.

 

All lawmakers could agree upon was asking voters if revenue’s from the Road Fund should be held in a “lock box” and away from the power of fund sweeps. In the past, lawmakers or the Governor would take money out of the the road fund or any fund to pay for other state services or bills.

 

All the amendment talk proved much ado about nothing. No one’s legislative map proposals went very far, the press for a graduated income tax evaporated and House Speaker Michael Madigan never got a vote on his proposal to made education a “fundmental right”.

 

All amendments needed to be voted and passed this week by both chambers.

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Sen. Rose Pleased with Progress in Budget Movement

While Illinois’ budget impasse is at 10-months and counting, one local lawmaker says there is some bipartisan achievements to build on as the Legislature nears its May 31st scheduled deadline… Ray Watt has more from Springfield.

 

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Jesse White Calls For End To Statue of Limitations in Child Sex Abuse

Secretary of State Jesse White is adding his voice to the push to end the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes.

 

In the wake of the scandal surrounding former US House Speaker Dennis Hastert, he is applauding Attorney General Lisa Madigan's efforts on that front.


White released a statement saying "As a former school teacher and administrator in the Chicago public school system for 33 years, and as the founder of the Jesse White Tumbling Team in 1959, I know firsthand the importance of establishing trust in a mentoring relationship with children.

 

"To violate that trust in such a despicable and depraved manner is against all laws of human decency. An offender should not be able to get away with such a heinous crime just because a certain amount of time has passed."

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National Park May Be Coming To Western Illinois

The National Park Service wants your input on whether it should recommend to Congress that a historic section of land in western Illinois be added to the national park system. Frank McWhorter (mick-WART-or), an enslaved man from Kentucky, bought his freedom in the 1830s, ventured to Illinois, and established New Philadelphia in Pike County.

 

The N-P-S says it’s the first town known to be platted and officially registered by an African American – before the Civil War. Griggsville farmer Philip Bradshaw serves as president of the local New Philadelphia Association that has been working to preserve the site;

 

 

Jon Amakawa (AH-mah-cow-ah) of Boston designed the augmented reality mobile app and helped launch the guideposts for visitors.

 

 

Not far off of Interstate 72 near the town of Barry, the historic site surrounded by farmland now has augmented reality guideposts. Visitors can download a free, custom smartphone or tablet app that helps bring New Philadelphia back to life. The Pike County Farm Bureau in Pittsfield hosts the Park Service open house next Wednesday, May 11th, from six-to-eight in the evening.

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Anonymous Donor Pays Electric Bill For Two Closed State Parks

An anonymous donor couldn't stand the thought of two lakes and state parks being closed because of unpaid trash and electric bills. They picked up the state's unpaid tab for Ramsey Lake State Recreation Area in Fayette County and Horseshoe Lake State Park in Madison County.

 

That paved the way for both parks to reopen.

 

Claude Willis is Mayor of Ramsey, He says the lake and state park are a key economic engine for his town of just over a thousand.

 

 

Willis also knows it's no time to relax.

 

 

The parks were closed for about two weeks due to the budget impasse. 

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Illinois State Senate Passes Additional College Funding

The Illinois Senate this afternoon passed legislation that would direct more critical funding to universities, community colleges, and students who receive MAP grants during the state’s ongoing budget impasse.

This legislation, Senate Bill 2048, is in addition to Senate Bill 2059, which provided some funding for higher education and was signed by Governor Rauner April 25th.

Senate Bill 2048 would fund in the Regional Radio listening area:

$90.6 million for Community Colleges
$159.4 million for the University of Illinois
$11.7 million for Eastern Illinois University
$19.6 million for Illinois State University
and $46 million for MAP grants

The legislation now goes to the Illinois House.

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Local Tourism Leaders Touting DeWitt County Destinations

It's tourism week in Illinois and a couple of local leaders are touting various hot spots in DeWitt County for you to check out.

 

Marian Brisard is the Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce and explains there are a couple of unique businesses locally that tend to be very popular among those from outside of DeWitt County. She points to the La Tea Da Tea Room and the Sunset Inn and Suites as destinations you just don't see in a lot of places.

 

 

The DeWitt County Museum is likely the landmark DeWitt County is most recognized aside from Clinton Lake. Joey Woolridge is the Director of the Homestead, which now serves as the DeWitt County Museum and she says the collection of publications and artifacts by CH Moore has given the community a lot to hold on to from a historical perspective.

 

 

Clinton Lake and the Looking For Lincoln Wayside Exhibits are also very popular in Clinton and DeWitt County along with the Barn Quilts tours.

 

Tune in tomorrow on Regional Radio News to learn more about those.

 

To learn more about the tourism of DeWitt County, visit clintonilchamber.com or to learn more about the CH Moore Homestead/DeWitt County Museum, visit chmoorehomestead.org. 

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DeWitt County Seeks Election Judges

Local officials are anticipating a huge turnout for the November elections and a large amount of help will be needed.

 

DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg explains the 23 precincts across the County are in need of election judges. He says anyone who can dedicate almost an entire day will get paid for their time.

 

 

The $125 for the day of work cannot be adjusted for this coming election because the budget is in place but Newberg indicates as they look ahead, there will be consideration to increase that amount.

 

 

To learn more about becoming an election judge, you can contact DeWitt County Republican Party President Dustin Peterson, DeWitt County Democratic Party President Terry Redman, or Dana Smith at the DeWitt County Clerk's office. 

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Lincoln High School Leader Skeptical of CPPRT Funds Going Away

A local school leader says the threat of another source of revenue for his district wasn't told to him personally, rather, he learned about it in the news.

 

Superintendent Robert Bagby says the alleged overpayment of Corporate Personal Property Replacement Taxes, or CPPRT, was not something he learned about from his local leadership, but rather through the news cycle.

 

 

Bagby indicates that totals over $68-thousand for Lincoln High School. He also explains a cut in CPPRT funds would mean there would have to be an increase in general state aid. He's skeptical of the proposal.

 

 

Bagby says while it is up in the air, he is under the impression the State will want the money back in one lump-sum, which is a lot to ask of any taxing body. 

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Social Service Agencies Suing Gov. Rauner Over No Payments

Dozens of social service agencies are suing Governor Bruce Rauner because they have worked without pay for nearly a year because of the budget impasse.

 

64 social service agencies have teamed up to form Pay Now Illinois. The group has filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court, seeking 100 million dollars for work that has been performed since July first.

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Income Tax Plan Scrapped

The push for Illinois to join 33 other states with a graduated income tax rate died midweek at the Illinois Capitol.

 

The bill’s sponsor in the House, Rep. Christian Mitchell decided not to call the bill for a vote. Citing a lack of votes needed to pass it, just days after claiming that the idea had bipartisan support. Rep. Mitchell claims the Governor got involved. And Rep. Lou Lang a supporter of the bill says that this shouldn’t be tied up over debates about spending plans.

 

 

The bill would have gone on the ballot as a constitutional amendment and needed a three fifths vote to pass.

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DeWitt County EMA To Be At Walgreens Thursday Helping With Weather Radios

Weather radios can be a great resource for anyone in the midst of severe weather and if you'll want to pay a visit to Walgreens in Clinton Thursday if you need a new radio or want one for your home.

 

Teresa Barnett is the Emergency Management Agency Director for DeWitt County and explains they will be at Walgreens in Clinton Thursday afternoon helping set up purchased weather radios.

 

 

Barnett explains storms usually take on a progression and while some storms pop up unannounced, Barnett says the weather radios are a great way to keep yourself informed of what is happening throughout the day or night.

 

 

EMA officials will be at Walgreens Thursday from 3:30 pm to 7 pm. 

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Star Wars Day Celebration At Miller Park Zoo This Weekend

For some of us, it's May 4. For others, it's Star Wars Day.

 

May the 4th, (be with you) is a day of great anticipation for one area organization who hosts a big event with a Star Wars theme. Jay Tetzloff is the Superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, and explains this time of year brings a lot of excitement because they welcome in a group that helps them celebrate Star Wars Day.

 

Cut 1: starwarsday1  :50  CUE: fun fun day

 

Tetzloff says the group that dresses up as the Storm Troopers are great with their guests and are very interactive. He says it always draws a big crowd as well.

Star Wars Day at the Miller Park Zoo is Saturday from 1 pm to 3 pm. 

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Map Makers Might Be More Independent

A move by the Illinois House makes a proposal for a new way to draw legislative maps closer to being on the November ballot.

 

The House voted overwhelmingly to advance a constitutional amendment to alter the path districts take across towns, neighborhoods and farmland.

 

The House approved an independent commission draw those boundary lines.


The bill now must pass the Senate. Before, the Senate voted to support a method that kept lawmakers as a critical part of the map making process.


Governor Bruce Rauner has touted “fair maps” as part of his turnaround agenda. 

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Durbin Not Pleased Senate Goes To Recess Without Zika Funding Deal

Members of Congress are mostly back in their districts without a funding deal to battle the Zika virus threat.

 

Senator Dick Durbin was among those making impassioned pleas before adjournment for President Obama's emergency funding request.

 

 

Lawmakers remain divided on the best approach for funding the fight against the mosquito-borne virus, which has become a growing concern for expectant mothers across the globe. 

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Budget Talks Taking on New Tone

Typically rank and file lawmakers are bystanders in the budget process.

 

Now it appears they are quietly in control as Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan appear to be in an unannounced cease fire. Rauner continued to offer an optimistic tone on the budget front.

 

 

 

Rauner isn't offering a timetable for a possible budget deal. For the moment he says that's in the hands of lawmakers meeting in low profile discussions.

 

 

Rauner visited the Old State Capitol to spread the message of motorcycle safety.
 

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Rain Can't Wash Away Plans for Arbor Day

The rain from the weekend wasn't going to stop Arbor Day plans for area leaders and students.

 

Picture Right; Steve Lobb with kids Saturday (Picture Courtesy of Darren Moser)

 

Steve Lobb is Clinton's arborist and explains had the weather cooperated, there would have been a tree planting on Saturday morning. Instead, they took those involved to the indoors.

 

 

 

Once indoors, Lobb and the students discussed trees and their importance to a community and society. According to Lobb, one of the trees that will be planted this year will be in memory of the late Carol Thompson.

 

 

 

In talking with the students, Lobb explains he was impressed with the knowledge the kids had about trees. He credits the school system and the continued impact Thompson's passion has had on the students.

 

 

 

The trees will be planted this week as central Illinois braces for more rain. Recently, the winners of the annual Arbor Day poster contest were awarded and recognized locally.

 

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

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Clinton Community Education Foundation Hosting 'Derby Day'

The Kentucky Derby and local education will go hand in hand this Saturday for a first time event for one DeWitt County group.

 

The Clinton Community Educational Foundation, CCEF, will host a first of its kind event locally, and they're calling Derby Day. Eileen Carter with the CCEF explains they are welcoming the community out for a day of fun, food and the excitement of the Kentucky Derby at the Clinton Country Club.

 

 

 

Along with a silent and live auction, Carter indicates you'll also be able to pick three horses that are in the race, and the winners will share a pot of money.

 

 

 

Carter says the Derby Day fundraiser is a change of pace for the CCEF as they seek new ways to generate revenue and help out students and faculty of the Clinton School district.

 

 

For further information on Derby Day at the Clinton Country Club Saturday, you can contact Carter at 217-935-3892 or Ruth Lowers at 217-935-8192.

 

Tickets are $75 a person, or a couple is $125. 

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Medical Marijuana List May Expand

It’s another recommendation to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, but will it be another effort snuffed out by the Governor’s administration.

 

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board on Monday added two recommended illness or conditions to a previous list of 10 conditions that should make a patient eligible for a medical marijuana card.

This week the panel acted by adding type 1 diabetes and panic disorder. That’s in addition to the previous recommendations including post traumatic stress disorder and autism.

 

The board and others aren’t hopeful any changes will come to the pilot program – the board’s suggestions are routinely turned down in the final approval process.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health has the final say so over what conditions are added. Right now the program recognizes fewer than 40 ailments.

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DeWitt County Relay For Life Teams Being Assembled

It's an annual event in Clinton and DeWitt County that draws dozens of advocates working for a common cause.

 

The Relay For Life in DeWitt County at Clinton High School is what American Cancer Society Representative Whitney Stoolman calls "something that can only be experienced". She says the 12 straight hour event is symbolic of the fact cancer never sleeps, so neither do their participants.

 

 

The first lap honors cancer survivors. The luminary ceremony honors someone who has battled cancer and Stoolman says the fight back portion brings to light the various aspects of cancer and advocacy among many other things.

 

 

Relay For Life teams for the June 4 event are being formed. Teams can take on a number of ways to fundraise and Stoolman indicates they get several teams in the area that participate.

For more information about forming a team, visit www.relayforlife.org/dewittil. 

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Home Health Care Overtime Ban Now In Effect

On Sunday, Governor Rauner's administration's ban on most overtime for home health care workers took effect.

 

Illinois social service advocates and the Service Employees International Union have been expressing their concerns. The SEIU's Robert Taylor joined protesting home health care workers outside the Department of Human Services headquarters in Springfield. He says bringing in different workers during what would previously be overtime hours will be a shock to the system.

 

 

While the Rauner administration says the state can't afford to pay overtime under a federal government ruling, Taylor counters that home health care workers provide a big cost savings for the state.

 

 

Home health care workers say they'll struggle to find backups to work for 13 dollars an hour. 

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Governor Continues Call For Business Friendly Environment

IT’S NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK AND GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS ILLINOIS MUST BE A WELCOMING PLACE FOR THESE COMPANIES.

 

GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS SMALL BUSINESSES ARE THE BACKBONE OF THE STATE ECONOMY…WITH THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS EITHER OWNING A SMALL BUSINESS OR WORKING FOR ONE. HE SAYS THAT’S WHY ILLINOIS MUST BE MORE BUSINESS FRIENDLY AND MAKE SOME CHANGES…SUCH AS WORKER’S COMPENSATION REFORM.

 

 

RAUNER SAYS ILLINOIS ALSO NEEDS PROPERTY TAX RELIEF TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE.

 

 

THERE ARE ABOUT ONE POINT TWO MILLION SMALL BUSINESSES IN ILLINOIS…EMPLOYING MORE THAN TWO POINT FOUR MILLION PEOPLE.

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Despite Budget Woes, Illinois Tourism Still Going Strong

It's National Travel and Tourism Week and that means a whirlwind tour of the state for Illinois Tourism Chief Cory Jobe.

 

Despite cash flow issues tied to the budget stalemate, Jobe says Illinois remains a strong tourism destination.

 

 

Local tourism organizations across Illinois have even pitched in to help the state tourism department put out key publications.

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Clinton Police Report Over 400-Pounds of Prescription Drugs Turned Over To DEA

On a semi-annual basis, law enforcement agencies across the country make an effort to collect unused prescription drugs in their respective communities.

 

This past weekend was one such effort across central Illinois and according to Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers, the Clinton Police Department turned over 416 pounds of unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

 

 

In other news from the Clinton City Council meeting, the Clinton City Council approved a number of appointments.

 

The Council approved the reappointments of Fire Chief David Dallas, Assistant Chief Raymond James and Assistant Chief Jason Karr.

 

Steve Myers was reappointed City Attorney.

 

Cheryl Van Valey was reappointed as City Clerk.

 

Clint Lichtenwalter was reappointed as City Treasurer.

 

Tom Edmunds was reappointed as Budget Officer.

 

Steve Lobb was reappointed Public Works Director.

 

Tim Followell was reappointed Public Health Officer and Sexton of the cemetary.

 

All appointments were for a period of one year.

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Work To Begin Today on Route 48 in DeWitt County

The Illinois Department of Transportation announces that weather permitting; work is scheduled to begin May 2, 2016 for the removal and replacement of the structure carrying IL 48 over a drainage ditch 1.3 miles north of IL 10 at Weldon and a structure south of Weldon.

 

This project will include complete removal and replacement of the existing box culverts, associated earthwork and pavement replacement. IL 48 will be down to one lane at these locations while construction is ongoing and will be restricted to 10 feet 6 inches in width.

 

The contractor for this $300,000 project is Stark Excavating. The estimated completion date is June 30, 2016.

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Code Red Free Tool For DeWitt County Residents To Be Informed

With the severe weather season upon us, it is vital for residents to keep themselves informed of the latest happenings.

 

A free tool offered by DeWitt County and the City of Clinton is the Code Red Alert system. CENCOM Coordinator for DeWitt County, Tony Harris explains the Code Red system informs residents on weather alerts to boil orders in your neighborhood.

 

 

The notifications can come through a number of ways. Harris explains you can get the notification via phone call to a cell phone or land line. You can also have it emailed or have a text sent to your cell phone.

 

 

Once you register an email address or phone number, you can customize what notifications you want to receive. Harris also notes, if a warning comes for an area where you are not registered, you won't receive the notification.

 

 

Again, to get registered for the notifications, visit clintonillinois.com or dewittcountyill.com.

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CPPRT Funds Threatened By Springfield

Yet another source of revenue for Illinois school districts is being threatened by Springfield.

 

The Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax, CPPRT, is the latest source of revenue to be in jeopardy for area schools. According to Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle, the CPPRT funds had an alleged oversight in recent years and too much money was administered, because of that, the state is talking about cutting back the amount of money administered to qualifying districts.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle indicates there is a complication in getting a cut in CPPRT funds. She explains the amount of CPPRT funds you receive impacts the dollars a district receives in general state aid.

 

 

For Warrensburg-Latham schools, it means around an $18-thousand impact in their funding and Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says it should be interesting to hear from the various parties what this will mean moving forward.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says details at this point are minimal and says it feels like another blow to the mission of schools.

 

While the news can sometimes feel like it never is good, Dr. Kendrick-Weikle tries to keep her focus on the students of the district and the learning taking place, since that is the purpose of the school system. 

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