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Kirk vs Duckworth tightens up

Senator Mark Kirk has been trailing in the fundraising game in the battle for re-election and his opponent has been running strong in polls. But, Kirk now appears to be rebounding. A recent message to supporters of his opponent, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, noted that a poll from Kirk’s super PAC showed him ahead by 2 points. Gregg Durham from We Ask America isn't offering hard numbers but he says the Kirk surge is undeniable....
 
 
The Duckworth camp told supporters in a mass email that Kirk has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on negative TV ads in recent weeks. 

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Fine not Jail for Pot Possession

Getting caught by the police with a small amount of marijuana will now land you a stiff fine but little else. The Governor today signed companion legislation from the House and Senate that will decriminalize pot possession and change how long some criminal offenders have to wait before applying for some jobs. The Senate bill sets a state wide maximum penalty of a $200 fine for possession of less than 10 grams of pot and then automatic expungement of the item from an arrest record once the fine has been paid. 
The House bill takes steps to eliminate the lifetime ban on employment and reduced time frames of prohibited hiring for a number of non-violent offenses for people that want to work in schools. The State Board of Education worked with law makers to craft the legislation. 
 

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Clinton Sales Taxes Down for June

Most months, the Clinton City tax reports are fairly steady.

 

Commissioner of Finance for the City of Clinton, Tom Edmunds, usually has does not make big proclamations for those reports but not so in July.

 

According to Edmunds, taxes were down in June though the City is ahead for the year compared to last year.

 

 

The Clinton City Council convenes again Monday evening. 

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Proposed CDL Training for Clinton HS Being Worked On

In June, a proposal for came before the Clinton Board of Education to start a CDL training course for graduating Clinton High School seniors.

 

Curt Nettles, Superintendent of Clinton High School says they have meetings scheduled with the program director at Heartland Community College about their program and a potential partnership with them.

 

 

Richland Community College has a similar program but according to Nettles, the budget impasse has left Richland at a standstill, so approaching them is on hold at this time. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

Even after a warm and wet week, there seems to be no immediate relieve in sight. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more.

 

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Local Unemployment Figures for June Released

Local unemployment figures held fairly steady for the month of June.

 

Year-to-date and over the month statistics were steady in most parts of central Illinois.

 

The year-to-date statistics for unemployment in DeWitt County were steady as June of 2016 unemployment was 5.4% (2015 - 5.3% and 5.8% for May).

 

Piatt County had a 4.9-percent unemployment rate for June of this year, compared to 4.8-percent in May and 5.1-percent for year-to-date.

 

The 6.8-percent rate in Macon County was unchanged from May and down from 7.1% at the same time last year.

 

Logan County's 5.2% percent was unchanged from May and down from last year's 5.4%.

 

Though minimal, unemployment rose in McLean County. At 5.4% for June, that is up from May's 5.2% figure and up from June of 2015 (5%).

 

As for Champaign County, unemployment went from 4.8-percent in May to 5.9-percent in June, down from last year's 5.1-percent unemployment figure.

 

Statewide, unemployment is 6-percent, off the pace of the national 5.1-percent averae. 

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Governor Rauner Signs Bill Decriminalizing Small Pot Possession

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner on Friday signed Senate Bill 2228 which in effect de-criminalizes cannabis.

The bill specifically makes cannabis possession of 10 grams or less, punishable by fines but not jail time.

The bill takes effect immediately.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, previously in Illinois, possession of up to 2-point-5 grams of marijuana was a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to 15-hundred dollars. 

Possession of 2-point-5 to 10 grams was a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to 15-hundred dollars. More than 100 Illinois communities had already removed local criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession.

Illinois is now the 21st state in the nation, in addition to the District of Columbia, to remove the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession.
 

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Brushville To Be In Clinton Saturday Evening

More food, drinks and entertainment are on the menu for the downtown Clinton square this weekend.

 

Brushville will be performing and Snappers Bar and Grill are the sponsors for their performance this Saturday evening. Joe Sartie, owner of Snappers says it should be a great night for one of central Illinois' most popular performers.

 

 

Food and beverages will be on the menu for the square. Sartie indicates he had a food truck lined up but that fell through, but they still have some local baseball teams coming out and Snappers will be helping out Big Brothers Big Sisters. He says helping the non-profits of the community is a great part of these types of events.

 

 

Sartie says this is only the second time beer has been available on the square and part of the efforts benefiting non profits. He says it's been a learning curve for everyone but it's been well received to date. 

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Clinton Fire Department To Return Piece of History to Homeplace

The City of Clinton has a piece of history from one of the most unfortunate events in American history.

 

Regarded as the worst flood of the 19th century, the City of Clinton has a piece of history for the city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

 

A catastrophic flood in 1889 devastated the community along the Conemaugh River. Johnstown, PA, about 66 miles east of Pittsburgh, was devastated to a broken dam in 1889 after torrential rains. The flood killed over 22-hundred people in the town and was considered at the time, the largest loss of civilian life. The 1900 Galveston Hurricane and September 11 terrorist attacks are the two bigger catastrophes of loss of civilian life in American history.

 

So where does Clinton fit in to all this?

 

In the aftermath of the devastation, Clinton Fire Chief David Dallas explains the community rallied to raise money to send to the Johnstown Fire Department and provide help. In return, a bell was given to the fire department and the CFD plans to return it this weekend.

 

 

Chief Dallas (pictured left) along Commissioner Dan Ballenger and a few other Clinton fire fighters will head east to return the bell and it is a big deal for the community of Johnstown.

 

 

This bell isn't the first piece of history to come back to Johnstown after the flood. According to Chief Dallas, the town has been receiving various items in recent years.

 

 

The Johnstown Flood has been the subject of many novels and other works. 

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Monticello Superintendent Calls State Funding Plan 'Relief'

A local superintendent recently called the state's passing of an education spending plan a relief.

 

Dr. Vic Zimmerman, Superintendent of Monticello Schools, calls the budget bill a relief though he never thought it would get to the start of the year and they would not have a spending plan.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman says he is optimistic the state will fully fund education. He says the state came through on promises last year and he believes that can happen again.

 

 

Many school administrators differ on where the future of education needs to go, but Dr. Zimmerman says the current formula has been made more imperfect in recent years because of the lack of funding available.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman calls it important to watch what happens after the November election as it could be a lame-duck session, as big changes could take place with taxes. 

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Durbin Dismisses Governor Talk

As democrats assembled in Philadelphia this week, those from Illinois spent plenty of time trying to figure out who might be willing to run for Governor.

 

The rumor mill has churned out the name of US Senator Dick Durbin in the past. The long serving senior Senator is fairly quick to dismiss the conversation.

 

 

For the now the potential list of Democratic challengers for Governor is just that a list of potential names. 

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Congressman Davis Questions Dems 'Togetherness'

Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is working with a campaign slogan of "We're Stronger Together".

 

Congressman Rodney Davis is questioning how together Democrats are as the Democratic National Convention approaches its conclusion.

 

 

On the unity front, Davis is one of the Congressional Republicans who has continued to stand behind GOP nominee Donald Trump. 

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Thorntons Expands Fuel Selection to E-15

Thorntons is initiating a project to expand their pumps to include E-15 as part of their fuel selection. The gasoline retailor is located across 6 states with Chicago being one of their largest markets.

Thorntons project manager Matt Nichols says it is important for the company to be innovative and stand out.

 

 

The E-15 gasoline grade burns cleaner and has a higher octane factor. Consumers will see the benefit from the price as it has a three cents discount over regular unleaded gasoline. Nichols says it is crucial to brand the gas as an opportunity for consumers.

 

 

Currently, there are 14 Thorntons in Chicago with E-15 available with 4 more opening in August. 

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Children's Advocacy Centers Hosting Special Training

It's a topic that can be easily dismissed in society today but one organization continues their aim to bring it to the forefront of conversation with a special training this fall.

 

The Children's Advocacy Centers will be hosting a special training to better inform professionals on protecting today's youth from sexual predators. Judy Brucker says topics include what interviews can teach us and what law enforcement, social workers, judges and numerous others need to know about how sexual predators think.

 

 

According to Brucker, Jensen is a highly decorated consultant. She has made it her goal to change the pattern by informing professionals about how sex offenders think.

 

 

The training, set for November 8 and 9 at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal is $70 for the two days.

 

For more information or to get registered, contact the Children's Advocacy Center at 309-888-5656. 

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Kennedy Draws High Marks From Madigan

House Speaker Michael Madigan says Chris Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, would be an "excellent candidate" after Kennedy spoke to the Illinois delegation at the Democratic National Convention.

 

Tuesday night at the convention, Kennedy attacked Gov. Bruce Rauner, blaming Rauner for the lack of a complete budget.

 

He was also critical of Rauner's efforts to curb the power of unions. However, Kennedy is not addressing speculation that he's interested in the state's top office. 

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Rauner Says They Are On Top of Legionnaire's Outbreak

Various state and local officials, including Governor Bruce Rauner, say they are on top of the latest outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.

 

Governor Rauner stopped by the state’s oldest Veterans Home Wednesday to assure the Home's residents and staff that local, state and Federal health officials were on top of the situation.

 

Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Erica Jeffries outlined some of what the Vets Home is doing to stop the spread of the disease.

 

 

As to the source of the latest outbreak, Adams County Health Department Administrator Jerrod Welch says we may never know.

 

 

Both residents who came down with the disease have been released from the hospital, and are back at the Vets Home. 

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Farmland Rental Rates Declining

When corn prices topped seven dollars a bushel a few years ago, farmland prices shot up and cash rental rates followed.

 

As a result, many farmers are finding the higher cash rental rates just don’t pencil out. U of I ag economist Gary Schnitkey told attendees at Farm Bureau Farm Income and Innovation Conference Wednesday that cash rental rates came down a bit last year, but we more declines for farmers to stay profitable in a world of three dollar corn.

 

 

U of I ag Economist Gary Schnitkey 

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Durbin Leads Potential Democratic Nominees For Governor Pending

It will be a while before Illinois voters go to the polls to pick a new Governor. That isn't stopping speculation about which Democrat will face Bruce Rauner.

 

Much of the speculation has centered around Senator Dick Durbin. We Ask America Polls™has revealed results of its statewide hybrid poll (part automated/part live interview) measuring Democratic voters’ preferences for potential candidates for Illinois governor.

 

Pollster Gregg Durham says there isn't much mystery as far as who tops the field of possible or suggested candidates.

 

 

Durham says there is plenty of time for candidates to gain traction with the voters.

 

 

US Representative Cheri Bustos of the Quad Cities and Chris Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, get about five percent support. 

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Courts Dictate Next Move on Term Limits

The Governor continues his push for term limits, choosing to stop at farms around the state to stump for the cause.

 

Rauner’s plan is for lawmakers to serve no more than 10 years and constitutional officer could serve for no more than 8 years. After calling on the Legislature to call his term limit bill for a vote he says that move is necessary because the courts suggest that amendments to change critical parts of government cannot start as a voter referendum.

 

 

Rauner says that he has the bill ready to go and could be called for a vote in the fall veto session.
 

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Blagojevich Will Appear at Sentencing Via Video

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich won't be singing Sweet Home Chicago for the moment. Judge James Zagel decided Blagojevich won't be appearing in court in Chicago for his August 9th resentencing but instead will be appearing by way of video link from federal prison in Colorado.

 

Blagojevich lawyers are seeking to reduce his prison term to five years after some of his corruption convictions were tossed but prosecutors want Blagojevich to serve his previous fourteen year term.

 

Blagojevich attorney Leonard Goodman is confident the former Governor will want to speak during the resentencing. Goodman says he is considering calling relatives to testify and the Bureau of Prisons expressed concerns about allowing Blagojevich to appear in person.

 

He says he was told it would have been a two week process to move Blagojevich from federal custody in Colorado to a Chicago courtroom. 

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HRC Announces Re-Opening of Encore Thrift Store

It's been a tough month for the DeWitt County Human Resource Center.

 

July first the agency closed their doors amid uncertainty surrounding the state budget but a bit of good news came out late Tuesday. According to Board Chair for HRC, Gary Gullone, the agency has reopened their doors for Encore Thrift Store.

 

 

Gullone says HRC's west location remains closed and the services that were there are still not available. He notes their administration continues to find alternatives in DeWitt County.

 

 

Gullone indicates there is still a lot of uncertainty going forward for HRC and the future of vital services to the community.

 

 

Gullone emphasizes their administration continues to work to bring providers to Clinton. He says as the agency receives money from the state for their vendors, they will begin to pay off outstanding debts. 

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Construction Continues on New Clinton Save-A-Lot Building

The new 19-thousand square foot building that will house the Clinton Save-A-Lot continues to go up.  Owner Dave Jackson tells Regional Radio News the new structure is coming along well.

Jackson expects to have the new building open later this fall.

Local contractors have been a major part of the construction of the new Clinton Save-A-Lot store.

Jackson has been in the grocery business for over 30 years.

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Clinton Schools Superintendent In Favor of Elimination of PARCC Tests At High School

Clinton's schools leader is in favor of an unexpected change from the Illinois State Board of Education.

 

The ISBOE recently announced they would cease PARCC testing at the high school level and have them use the SAT only. Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles believes the move is a good one and says it appears the state is committed to it.

 

 

Less testing is one thing Nettles and many of his colleagues are in favor of. He explains they have a local assessment given to students to show growth in academics.

 

 

Nettles says assessments like the PARCC tests and other before it are just snap shots of what students are doing. He says local control for districts would allow them to show growth over time.

 

 

 

While high school students will exclusively take the SATs, lower grade level students will continue to take the PARCC tests. 

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools To Host Professional Development Institute

Warrensburg-Latham staff and administration are excited about an event coming up next month for area teachers.

 

The Warrensburg-Latham administration and staff are hosting a professional development seminar August 8 and 9 at the high school in Warrensburg. Superintendent Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle is inviting any teacher in any district to be a part of it.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says they'll have local speakers, a guest from the Regional Office of Education and the topics will be using technology in the classroom to grading.

 

 

Professional development is a big part of teacher's being up to date on the latest standards and best practices. That is why Dr. Kendrick-Weikle is offering the opportunity to their own staff and those in central Illinois.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle say this is an opportunity for educators to meet the requirements for their continuing professional hours.

 

The professional development institute is Monday August 8 and Tuesday August 9. Pre-registration is required so organizers can plan for lunch. To pre-register, visit the Warrensburg-Latham district website

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Fact Checkers Back Rep. Mitchell's Claims

The Pulitzer Prize-winning national fact-checking organization PolitiFact that originally challenged the assertion of State Rep. Bill Mitchell that the State of Illinois has spent $320 million on providing health insurance for illegal immigrants over the past six years has now acknowledged that the Macon County legislator’s claim is in fact accurate.

 

PolitiFact initially questioned Rep. Mitchell’s claim. However, upon examining the independent nonpartisan audit of the All Kids program conducted by the Illinois Auditor General’s Office, PolitiFact has now rated Rep. Mitchell’s statement as True.

 

Rep. Mitchell pointed out the latest All Kids audit said, over the last six years, the state of Illinois spent about $320 million on illegal immigrants.

 

 

PolitiFact.com is a project operated by the Tampa Bay Times, in which reporters and editors from the Times rate the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others in American politics. PolitiFact.com was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2009.

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Legionnaire's Disease Has Returned To Illinois VA Home

The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Tuesday said that two residents of the Home have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

 

The Department says it may never know exactly how the residents caught the disease, but in a statement, they say they're working with local and state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine where the residents acquired the Legionella bacteria.

 

Senior administration officials with the IDVA, Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency are on their way to Quincy to coordinate with veterans’ home, county and city personnel.

 

IDVA Director Erica Jeffries says that all new admissions to the home are being halted.

 

The Vets Home recently completed a nearly 5 million-dollar renovation of its plumbing system, in response to the 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. 12 residents died, and 54 residents and staff came down with the disease.  

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Former Chair of U of I Board of Trustees Not Ready to Talk About Run For Office

At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia some of the attention given the national race for President has shifted in Illinois to who the Democrats might pick to run for Governor.

 

A possibility is Chris Kennedy, the son of Robert Kennedy, is a Chicago businessman and one time Chairman of the University Of Illinois Board Of Trustees.

 

Kennedy has been moving about the state to talk to top Democrat politicians about possibly running. But in Philadelphia he wanted no part of the Governor talk, at least with the press.


Kennedy hastily left an Illinois delegation breakfast but was followed by a few members of the press. He then had this awkward and terse exchange with FOX 2 in Chicago.

 

 

Kennedy did meet with a few reporters later in day and said no one should be bullied into talking to the press.

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Community Action Seeking Volunteers For Variety of Areas

If you're seeking an opportunity to give back to your community, Community Action of Central Illinois likely has something for you.

 

Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez says they are seeking help with their food pantry in DeWitt County to Head Start reading help.

 

 

For adults with a little free time in Logan County, Rumler-Gomez indicates they are looking for volunteers to deliver meals to those who rely on home delivered meals. She indicates those people that come to their front door daily are often the only people the see or interact with.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez indicates there's something for anyone at Community Action and all it takes a phone call and a quick get-to-know you time and you can be helping out in several parts of central Illinois.

 

 

For more information about how you can get connected to Community Action, contact them at 217-732-2159. 

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Lincoln HS Superintendent Confident State Will Follow Through on Education Commitment

The State of Illinois did something they haven't done in nearly a decade: commit to fully funding education.'

 

One local superintendent is going against the predominant opinion and is optimistic they will follow through. Lincoln High School Superintendent Robert Bagby believes this because of promises that were kept last year.

 

 

According to Bagby, the state fully funding education means an additional $42-thousand. He notes though, the high school has lost over a million dollars in state funding in recent years.

 

 

In recent years, Lincoln High School's funding shift has gone from a majority reliance on state and federal funds, to now mostly being reliant on local dollars.

 

 

Despite losing money from the state and becoming more reliant on local dollars, Bagby points out in Lincoln, they've been able to keep the property tax rate at levels from the mid-90s, though they did have to raise rates this year, which calls "unfortunate."

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Sandeck Stepping Down

A top Republican lawmaker with close ties to the Rauner administration is calling it quits.

 

Ron Sandeck from Downers Grove is resigning citing worries about cyber security issues that then resulted in a revaluation of his time spent as an elected official.

 

In a statement first sent to Capitol Fax Sandeck says he is no longer willing to miss important family events. 

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Illinois First Lady Happy With Education Spending Plan

Illinois will continue to make sure state dollars go to early childhood education and now more of the funding that is earmarked for education will impact children up to the age of 3.


A law recently signed by the Governor will up block grant money from 14 percent to eventually 20 percent for birth to 3 year old education. First Lady Diana Rauner a long time supporter of social programs and education says this will lead to better outcomes for the state’s children.

 

 

The bill received bi-partisan support. 

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Calling For A Vote on Term Limits

The Governor is back pushing for term limits, he’s heading on a tour of the state giving stump style speeches.

 

Bruce Rauner started in Chicago where he said that lawmakers need to pass a constitutional amendment so voters can decide the issue in 2018.

 

 

In the stump style speech Rauner didn’t call out the Speaker by name. But Rauner’s clearly thinking of Mike Madigan’s 45 years in the legislature. He says new people are needed to create new ideas to push the state forward.

 

 

Rauner says that new faces and ideas could break up the existing power structure in Illinois and that could better the state’s economy. 

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County Approves Electric Aggregation Referendum

This weekend, we learned the DeWitt County Board has approved to take to referendum a proposal for electric aggregation for unincorporated areas of the County.

 

According to Board Chair David Newberg, this proposal failed a few years ago, however, this time around they have approved Good Energy to lead the charge to educate the community on what electric aggregation is all about.

 

 

Newberg explains this only is voted on by those in unincorporated areas of DeWitt County. He adds it also does not effect those who are with CornBelt Energy.

 

 

Newberg also points out, with the uncertainty of the Exelon Power Plant in Clinton and the effect it would have on electric rates in Illinois, this would be a way for residents to not feel that as much.

He says it would keep electric rates frozen at the agreed to price. 

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Clinton Schools Say Upcoming Budget Has Full Exelon Value

Since the announcement of the closure of the Clinton Power Station, the amount of funding in the Clinton School district budget that comes from Exelon has been highlighted maybe more than ever before.

 

With nearly half the budget for Clinton Schools made up of Exelon tax dollars, those figures are generally agreed to by both sides. The agreements in recent years have not come to fruition and therefore the amount of dollars the district gets are very fluid.


According to Superintendent Curt Nettles, those negotiations are stalled as they have been in years past.

 

 

Nettles indicates the district will receive the dollars for what the plant is worth, however there is the possibility they will have to repay money back based on several factors.

 

 

While the Exelon situation is fluid, the state situation might be more fluid than what it appears. Nettles has said he is apprehensive the state will follow through on their commitment to fully fund education, and notes for now, they are budgeting like  education will be fully funded.

 

 

Nettles says the last fiscal year ended about where they thought they would. He says this upcoming budget looks pretty good and has the district in the black. 

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Lincoln's Depot Renovations 'Coming To A Head'

Lincoln Mayor Marti Neitzel is excited about what is happening with the Lincoln Depot renovations and the progress happening.

 

It's been a couple years in the works but the renovations at the Lincoln Depot, just off the downtown square, are nearly finished. Mayor Neitzel says final construction is about underway.
 

 

According to Mayor Neitzel, the renovation has seen the removal of a couple of the rail cars removed and will take it back close to it's original form.

 

 

$120-thousand is roughly the cost of the project for the City of Lincoln. Mayor Neitzel notes around $4-million is coming from government funding.

 

 

Mayor Neitzel adds there has been street work done in the surrounding area making it a complete project. She looks forward to the completed product. 

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Federal Panel Asks For Alternative Alignments in New Rail Line

Citing an outpouring of public concern, the U-S Surface Transportation Board has asked Great Lakes Basin Transportation to explain its proposed railroad route through northern Illinois, and provide alternative alignments.

 

The S-T-B received more than 3,500 comments about the proposed rail line during the last few months. The president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, Richard Geubert (hard “G” GEE-burt) explains why his group is concerned;

 

 

Great Lakes officials say the proposed rail line that could cut through several northern Illinois counties seeks to relieve rail congestion in the Chicago area. Geubert says the group has never operated a rail line and some major railroads have stated publicly they wouldn’t use it. The Farm Bureau wants the S-T-B to conduct a full review of the proposal.

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High Court To Decide Fate of Ballot Initiative

The Illinois Supreme Court has decided to take up an appeal by a group seeking to reform how Illinois draws its legislative maps.

 

A Cook County Circuit Court declared the effort last Wednesday unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court then decided late Friday that it would expedite an appeal by the Independent Map Amendment coalition. The group’s chairman, Dennis FitsSimons (fitz-SIGH-muns) says the group wants to explain why the lower court running needs to be overturned.

 

 

The group collected more than 550-thousand voter signatures to put the redistricting reform question to voters in November. It wants the Illinois Supreme Court to rule before late August. That's a deadline the group says set by the Illinois State Board of Elections to draw up statewide ballots.

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Veterans, Active National Guard Can Get Special License

If you’re a veteran of or active duty National Guard a new program will let you get a special designation on your driver’s license.

 

The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs says that make sure you have a few documents in hand before you come to a Driver’s License Facility to receive an identification of your status on a license. IDVA Spokesman Dave MacDonna.

 

 

If you’re over 65 the designation on the license is free or if you wait till a new license is issued. Otherwise it will cost you $5 to get a new one to put in your wallet. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

The weekend heat wave has been well publicized but State Climotologist Jim Angel says it will be slightly cooler next week.

 

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John Deere To Layoff Harvest Workers

Deere & Company announcing today that approximately 120 production employees at John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline will be placed on indefinite layoff.

 

The move is effective Sept. 6.

 

The factory’s workforce currently includes approximately 1,050 production employees.

 

Deere says the company continues to adjust the size of its production workforce to market demand for products manufactured at each of its factories.

 

In previous announcements, Deere said it expects sales of agricultural equipment to decrease for the 2016 fiscal year.

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Illinois' First Lady Promotes Early Childhood Education Programs

A NEW STATE LAW SIGNED BY GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER MAKES SURE MORE MONEY GOES INTO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

 

CURRENTLY…14 PERCENT OF EARLY CHILDHOOD BLOCK GRANT MONEY GOES TO PROGRAMS FOR KIDS UP TO AGE THREE, WHICH FIRST LADY DIANA RAUNER SAYS IS VITAL TO THEIR DEVELOPMENT. THIS NEW LAW EVENTUALLY RAISES THAT AMOUNT TO 20 PERCENT.

 

 

RAUNER SAYS THIS WILL LET THE STATE EXPAND ACCESS TO EARLY LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES.

 

 

ILLINOIS WAS THE FIRST STATE IN THE COUNTRY TO ENSURE A PORTION OF THE EARLY CHILDHOOD BLOCK GRANT WENT TOWARDS PROGRAMS FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS.

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Climate Change Impacts Illinois Air Quality

A new study from the Univ of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Policy says that a warming climate will likely lead to declining air quality.

 

Julian Reif (Rife) says the major issue is ground level ozone which forms in the presence of auto and power generation facilities in presence of increased temperatures. The good news is downstate Illinois will likely not be impacted.

 

 

A google search for the Illinois Institute of Government and Public Policy will take you to a host of University studies on economic and environmental issues facing Illinois.

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2016 DeWitt County 4H Fair Results Available

The 2016 DeWitt County 4H Fair has concluded for another year, and you can now view the entire results right here on DeWittDailyNews.com.  Just click on the WHOW Fair Tour button at the top of the page, and then follow the links to the results.  Or you can click HERE to be taken directly to the page.

 

We will also be posting pictures from the 4H Fair Awards night program in the coming days, so keep checking back!

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DeWitt County To Try For Electric Aggregation Again

The DeWitt County Board Thursday night approved a measure to go to referendum for the aggregation of electricity in unincorporated areas of the County.

 

Board Chair David Newberg explains this was tried a few years ago, however, failed. He says this time around they've approved a company to work with, and it will cost the taxpayers nothing.

 

 

The referendum will be on the ballot for the November election. Newberg indicates the City of Clinton along with numerous other entities across the state have had this in place for many years.

Learn more about the proposal Monday on Regional Radio News. 

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Senior Services Provider For DeWitt County Makes Rockstar Like Return

Rebecca Wheat has proven you don't have to have super powers to be a super hero.

 

The former outreach worker for PATH Senior Services at the DeWitt County Friendship Center has been through the ringer since the end of June.

 

In a matter of less than two weeks, Wheat saw the job she had disappear, literally overnight, because the company could sustain it's services thanks to the state budget mess. Then found a new company for the same position in about two weeks. Wheat says the whirlwind started well before that though, thanks to the budget stalemate.

 

 

Wheat's return has had the feel of Michael Jordan coming out of retirement to rejoin the Chicago Bulls. Executive Director Sissy Leggett says her return has been very exciting.

 

 

Wheat will be at the DeWitt Friendship Center and also in Farmer City.

 

Now with Community Care Systems Senior Information Services, Wheat is availabel for appointments on issues from Medicare to drivers license fee help to Social Security. Contact the DeWitt County Friendship Center at 217-935-9411 for more information. 

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Blue Ridge Schools To Support Own Football Program

Blue Ridge High School has gotten the 'thumbs up' from the Board of Education to once again support their own football program.

 

Superintendent Susan Wilson indicates the Board of Education gave the approval at their most recent board meeting this week. She says they have a coach and a commitment from around 25 students.

 

 

Blue Ridge co-oped for football prior to this year and has decided they will take the football program under their expense. Wilson says it is not cheap to have your own program.

 

 

Wilson is proud of the hard work so many community members and administrators have put into bringing football back to Blue Ridge.

 

 

Blue Ridge heard from the IHSA Thursday and their extension to provide final paperwork for their co-op with DeLand-Weldon has been approved for August 10. Wilson says this allows them to meet with the Heart of Illinois for the conference to vote on the proposal. 

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Bloomington Zoo To Host Special Pokemon Go Event

The young, the old, the fast and slow have all gotten into Pokemon Go.

 

Pokemon Go takes gamers all over their community and others collecting Pokemon characters with other games along the way. One Bloomington/Normal entity is catering to those gamers next week as they will host a special event to allow users to collect the characters available in the zoo.

 

Jay Tetzloff is the Superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo and say their facility is home to at least a couple characters at all times, so Tuesday night (July 26) they are opening the zoo up to the Pokemon Go gamers to collect the characters.

 

 

Tetzloff hopes to give gamers access to the pieces to their game, but at the same time, maybe get a few interested in the zoo and coming back again for more.

 

 

Tetzloff also serves as Parks Director in Bloomington and indicates the parks are getting utilized a lot more since the introduction Pokemon Go.

 

 

Again the event is Tuesday, July 26 from 5 pm to 7 pm. Admission is $5. 

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Unemployment Drops, Jobs Still Lost

THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPPED SLIGHTLY LAST MONTH.

 

THE JOBLESS RATE FELL FROM SIX POINT FOUR PERCENT IN MAY TO SIX POINT TWO PERCENT IN JUNE, REFLECTING A DECLINE IN THE LABOR FORCE SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ANALYST RON PAYNE. HE SAYS ABOUT 22-HUNDRED JOBS WERE LOST LAST MONTH.

 

 

 

THERE WAS ALSO A LOSS OF 22 HUNDRED JOBS LAST MONTH…WITH MOST COMING FROM THE EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH SERVICES SECTOR.

 

 

 

GAINS WERE MADE IN PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES AND IN FINANCIAL ACTIVITIES. THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR JUNE CAME IN A FOUR POINT NINE PERCENT.

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State Board of Elections Hacked

Illinois State Board of Elections officials are investigating a hacking incident targeting state's online voter registration system last week.

 

That system was shut off after the July 13th cyberattack. State Board general counsel, Ken Menzel, says it's not clear who the culprit is, but there are signs of international activity.

 

 

Menzel says cybersecurity is a priority for the board.

 

 

Menzel is confident no voter information was altered.

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Davis Applauds Legislation Fighting Opioid Addiction

The US Senate this month passed a bipartisan measure to help fight the growing wave of prescription drug abuse and the heroin epidemic. The House previously gave its ok to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

 

Among the backers is Congressman Rodney Davis.

 

 

Davis believes in shifting the focus from prison time to treatment for offenders and maybe reducing mandatory minimum sentences of the past and present.

 

 

The legislation is now headed to President Obama's desk.

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Congressman Davis Calls GMO Labeling Bill 'Good First Start'

Last week, Congress passed a bill for GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling across the country.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis says the bill is a good first step as it is voluntary and would give consumers more access to important information.

 

 

Congressman Davis sees future issues with the bill as it is currently constructed.

 

 

Davis says most people aren't aware or fully informed of what GMOs are. He says science is completely behind the use of GMOs. 

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Community Action Hoping New Technology Introductions Will Make Receiving Help Easier

Those that rely on Community Action for assistance with their energy assistance program or food pantry and other services likely noticed a shift in the way they received help.

 

According to Executive Director, Alison Rumler-Gomez, the shift came as the agency sought to better serve the community. She says local offices saw a change in the staffing of their offices.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez says the change was difficult for their communities and she understands why. She explains there's a lot of need and a lot of money to be distributed at the same time.

 

 

New technology will be introduced at various offices for Community Action later this year and Rumler-Gomez hopes that will make things easier for their clients.

 

 

Community Action serves DeWitt, Piatt, Logan, Menard, Mason and Fulton Counties.

To get more information, visit capcil.info or call 217-732-2159. 

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Staying Safe During Excessive Heat

HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY IS EXPECTED ACROSS ILLINOIS OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS…AND THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS REMINDING THAT THESE CONDITIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS.

 

IT CAN BE HARD TO KEEP YOUR BODY COOL WHEN IT’S THIS HOT OUT SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MELANEY ARNOLD. SHE SAYS YOU NEED TO WATCH OUT FOR SIGNS OF HEAT RELATED ILLNESS SUCH AS HEAT EXHAUSTION.

 

 

HEAT STROKE IS EVEN MORE SERIOUS WITH A BODY TEMPERATURE ABOVE 103 DEGREES, A RAPID PULSE AND HOT AND RED SKIN.

 

 

ARNOLD SAYS IN THIS CASE, YOU SHOULD CALL 9-1-1- IMMEDIATELY AND DO NOT GIVE THE PERSON ANY FLUIDS.

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Elderly Need To Be Especially Cautious During Heat Wave

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT ON AGING IS WARNING THAT SENIORS ARE ESPECIALLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO HOT AND HUMID WEATHER.

 

MAKING SURE SENIORS HAVE ACCESS TO SOMEPLACE WITH AIR CONDITIONING IS ESSENTIAL WHEN IT’S THIS HOT OUTSIDE SAYS DEPARTMENT ON AGING SPOKESPERSON VERONICA VERA.

 

 

VERA ALSO RECOMMENDS SENIORS AVOID USING THE OVEN AT HOME TO KEEP THE PLACE COOL AND DRINKING LOTS OF WATER.

 

 

VERA SAYS SENIORS NEED TO TAKE THE HEAT SERIOUSLY AND NOT IGNORE DANGER SIGNS LIKE NAUSEA, DIZZINESS AND FATIGUE.

 

SHE URGES THE PUBLIC TO CHECK ON ELDERLY NEIGHBORS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE DOING OKAY.

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Redistricting Proposal Booted From November Ballot

Opponents of a voter referendum that would change the way Illinois builds its political boundaries win a round on the ongoing tug of war.

 

Cook County Judge Diane Larsen ruled the November referendum is unconstitutional and booted it from the ballot. The Independent Map Amendment is expected to appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.

 

The Independent Map Amendment has called for creation of an 11-member commission to oversee drawing of political boundaries. Governor Rauner expressed his disappointment in a statement:

 

“Today's ruling is a harsh reminder that the political system in Illinois is in need of major reforms. I hope the decision to deny voters the chance to consider the Independent Map redistricting referendum is appealed and reversed.

 

“Independent redistricting is badly needed in our state. A stunning two-thirds of incumbents will be running unopposed in November. That’s certainly not because the politicians in charge are doing such a good job in Springfield. It means the system is broken.

 

“Legislators in power could have placed the Independent Maps referendum directly on the ballot and avoided this court decision. Instead, they chose to play politics in an effort to protect their own power.

 

“That is wrong.

 

“We have it backwards in Illinois. Voters should be able to choose their elected officials through an independently-drawn map that ensures competitive elections. Instead, we have politicians choosing their voters, putting politics ahead of people.

 

“Independent Maps has strong support from both Democrats and Republicans. It has strong support from non-partisan good government groups. So this ruling is a definitely a setback for the people of Illinois.

 

“If this decision remains in place, it will prove that we need to put political reform at the top of our legislative agenda. We need to fix our broken political system to ensure taxpayers win instead of the insiders.”

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Fight Not Over in Map Drawing Question

The referendum was going to ask voters if an independent commission should draw the state’s political dividing lines.

 

Dave Mellett is the Campaign Manager for the Independent Map Amendment and says they were prepared for a long fight to add this question to the ballot.

 

 

Mellett feels if the ruling stands that it will harm not only their effort but any future ones to adjust the power of lawmakers.

 

 

The maps now are drawn by the political party in power, altering district lines that often ensure safe passage in general elections.

 

The Supreme Court needs to decide the ruling by the tail end of August in order for the question to be finalized on the November ballot. 

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DeWitt County Recipient of Illinois EMA Grant

DeWitt County's Emergency Management Agency, EMA, were among recipients for grants totaling $4 million awarded across the state by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

 

The grants aim to help city and county emergency management agencies throughout Illinois support local disaster preparedness and response efforts.

 

EMA Director Teresa Barnett tells Regional Radio News the grants supports a variety of local operations and preparedness activities. She calls it a great resource to DeWitt County and Clinton EMA.

 

DeWitt County received just over $17,500 while Piatt County received just over $17,600.

Logan County received over $20-thousand.

 

Macon County received over $36-thousand and Champaign County received just short of $54-thousand dollars.

 

Elsewhere in central Illinois, McLean County received $47,500.

 

The Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) are funded through a grant IEMA receives from FEMA.  

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Congressman Davis Pleased With Trump's Running Mate Selection

Donald Trump's selection of Mike Pence as his running in the upcoming Presidential race is being praised by central Illinois' congressional representative.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis says Pence is the type of person Trump should surround himself with as he seeks to become the President of the United States.

 

 

Congressman Davis says he attended the National Republican Convention in Cleveland because it is more than just where Republicans receive the nominations for President.

 

 

Davis adds he supported Marco Rubio in the primaries, but The Donald has been nominated by the voters. 

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New Slogan For Illinois Tourism

The state is running a new slogan out there when it comes to trying to attract people to the state.

 

The Illinois Office of Tourism is spending part of their $65 million on a new campaign called Illinois Made, it’s designed to highlight products crafted in Illinois. 

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Sen. Manar Applauds Bath Salts Ban

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation designed to go after Illinois retailers that sell so-called bath salts, chemicals that produce similar effects to narcotics like cocaine.

 

Democratic State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill helped craft the bipartisan legislation. He says the target audience of bath salts is one of the most disturbing aspects of the issue.

 

 

Manar likes that the legislation makes it suddenly unprofitable to sell bath salts.

 

 

The law taking effect Jan. 1 makes selling bath salts a felony punishable with a fine of up to $150,000.

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New Images of Clinton Bank Robber Released

New images and information about the suspect in the bank robbery at DeWitt Savings Bank in Clinton have been released.

 

Images place the suspect in Carlock, IL just hours prior to the bank robbery in Clinton at DeWitt Savings Bank on the afternoon of Friday, July 1.

 

Clinton Police released the images late Tuesday via social media.

 

The suspect description remains the same and anyone with information can contact Clinton Crime Stoppers at 217-935-3333. A reward of $2500 has been offered for information leading to an arrest.

The suspect is described as a tall, slender black male, mid to late 20's or 30's wearing dark jeans, a dark long sleeved shirt, aviator style sunglasses and a black, grey and white camouflage bucket hat bearing a Chicago Bulls logo.

 

The suspect vehicle is believed to be a white, late 90's model Olsmobile Cutlass or Buick Century/Regal 4-door with a sunroof and bearing a partial license plate of "V10".

 

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Heat Wave Has Authorities on Alert

The warmest temperatures of the summer are in store for this week and into the weekend in central Illinois.

 

DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency Director Teresa Barnett says heat index values will be in the triple digits through the weekend.

 

 

The elderly, children and pets need to be watched closely during this time. Barnett encourages those who live near an elderly person to frequently check on them and to keep a close eye on children and pets.

 

 

Cooling centers will be opened up for this stretch of weather. Barnett says the DeWitt County Friendship Center (Thursday and Friday) and the Warner Library (Thursday through Saturday) will be opened starting Thursday.

 

 

Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-90s all the way into the weekend with heat index values consistently in the triple-digits. 

 

An excessive heat watch has been issued until Saturday evening. 

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City Prepares for Next Concert of Summer

 

The downtown Clinton Square is going to busy with activities in the next few months.

 

Snappers Bar and Grill will be welcoming Brushville back to the square, there will another Chamber hosted concert and the City of Clinton will host their second concert of their inaugural season of concerts for the summer.

 

City Administrator Tim Followell (right) indicates the second concert on the square hosted by the City will be one they hope to be as successful, if not more so, than the first.

 

 

According to Followell, as all these concerts begin to come together with a vision of happening regularly, the City of Clinton and the Chamber of Commerce along with Snappers, who hosts Brushville, are going to begin promoting these events under the name "Music on Main and Center."

 

 

Followell says they continue to work on officially booking their next concert. He indicates they hope to have an announcement ready in the next week, though that is subject to change. 

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Congressman Davis: Change Starts At Home

Congressman Rodney Davis is at the Republican National Convention this week, but took a few minutes to react to the shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, LA.

 

Congressman Davis says these kinds of actions are those who want to wreak havoc and anarchy on America. He says America needs to come together and respect every life.

 

 

Congressman Davis adds he doesn't think America is becoming divided over these instances because of the unity that is being shown.

 

 

Congressman Davis believes this isn't an issue that needs to be fixed by Washington, but rather by each individual American.

 

 

Congressman Davis also addressed a recent GMO labeling law passed by the House last week, and also the upcoming Republican National Convention.

 

Hear more from Congressman Davis this week on Regional Radio News. 

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Weekly Crop Report

A PRETTY GOOD WEEK OF WEATHER MADE FOR SOME NICE GROWING PROGRESS AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT.

 

THERE WERE A FEW REPORTS OF WIND DAMAGE TO CORN BECAUSE OF SOME SEVERE WEATHER MIDWEEK…BUT FOR THE MOST PART CROPS ARE FARING WELL SAYS STATE CROP STATISTICIAN BRAD SUMMA.

 

 

60 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE BLOOMING AND 15 PERCENT ARE SETTING PODS.

 

 

AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE NOW STANDS AT ONE PERCENT VERY SHORT…NINE PERCENT SHORT…80 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 10 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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New Law Bans Use of Illegal Bath Salts

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS SIGNING LEGISLATION BANNING THE SALE OF ADDICTIVE BATH SALTS.

 

THE USE OF BATH SALTS, OR CATHINONES, HAS BEEN ON THE RISE OVER THE LAST DECADE. THEY ARE CHEMICALLY SIMILAR TO COCAINE AND ARE OFTEN DISGUISED AS LEGIT PRODUCTS SAYS GOVERNOR RAUNER.

 

 

THEY ARE SOLD UNDER THE GUISE OF EVERYDAY PRODUCTS, BUT ARE ACTUALLY A HIGHLY ADDICTIVE AND DANGEROUS DRUG SAYS BILL SPONSOR SENATOR ANDY MANAR OF BUNKER HILL.

 

 

THE OFFENSE WILL BE A CLASS THREE FELONY AND CARRY FINES UP TO 150 THOUSAND DOLLARS. RETAILERS CAUGHT SELLING BATH SALTS COULD ALSO LOSE THEIR BUSINESS LICENSE.

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4-H Strong and Growing As DeWitt, Piatt, Macon County Wraps Up Another Year

Another DeWitt County 4-H Fair is in the books and it was another year of great participation in DeWitt County.

 

Kim Gibbons with the University of Illinois Extension office explains this was the third year Macon and Piatt 4-H participants have been a part of the show in DeWitt County. She says it's bringing people together.

 

 

Because of the combining of the shows with Piatt and Macon Counties at the 4-H fairgrounds, the need arose for more space for the livestock. DeWitt County Fair Board President Dan Enos says they completed a new barn on the grounds just in time for the fair this year.

 

 

A growing interest in 4-H locally is the robotics. A brother-sister team at the 4-H Fair in DeWitt County were Jake and Maddie Franklin from LeRoy. They explain the robotics club has provided them with opportunities and lessons they hope to carry to the future.

 

 

Some 4-H members will shift their focus to this coming weekends fair in Farmer City, others will prepare for the Illinois State Fair next month.

 

 

 

 

 

Check dewittdailynews.com for all results and more pictures of this year's fair winners. 

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Community, Employees Rallying For Clinton Exelon Nuclear Power Plant

Brothers. Partners. Family. Neighbors.

 

These are just a few of the terms used at a Friday press conference to describe the relationship between the Clinton Exelon Power station, their employees and the community.

 

Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell says while the jobs and revenue they create are wonderful for the communities in DeWitt County and surrounding areas, he says he wants to simply keep his neighbors.

 

 

DeWitt County Board member Terry Ferguson has heard the message from non-profits in recent weeks and says the Exelon impact goes beyond the municipal level. While he did not mention it in his comments, Exelon taxes make up 90-percent of the dollars of the Harp Township.

 

 

Christian Small (right) is an employee at the Exelon plant in Clinton. He says right now there's a lot of uncertainty among his peers and co-workers at the plant and they are trying to remain optimistic while Exelon continues to keep them updated.

 

 

Small says being a part of the community with their participation with the local non-profit groups is a very big bonus to working with the plant in Clinton. He says it feels good to know they are making a difference.

 

 

Exelon leaders and various interested parties across the state are hoping to meet this week in continued efforts to bring forward legislation to allow nuclear power to remain viable in Illinois.

Lawmakers continue to push home the message that this is not a partisan issue, but rather an issue of good paying Illinois jobs and an economic impact on families across the state.

 

Lawmakers are optimistic as no parties have left negotiations and everyone continues to talk, although, progress has been called incremental. 

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Nature Walk To Honor Carol Thompson This Weekend

It'll be a first time event for a national organization in the midwest, and it honors a crown jewel of the DeWitt County and central Illinois community.

 

It'll be a first time event for the National Brain Tumor Association in the midwest. Lauren Thompson explains their Nature Walk at Weldon Springs this Saturday was just a way to honor her mother, Carol Thompson but has turned into something bigger than she anticipated.

 

 

The Nature Walk will be a full day of fun with food and entertainment for kids and adults alike. Thompson says they have a wide-range of thinks to do.

 

 

If you plan to attend, Thompson ask you register so they know how many are attending.

To register, visit Facebook and find the event by searching National Brain Tumor Society Nature Walk.

 

Due to the amount of support from the community, organizers are asking for a $5 donation per person or $10 donation per family. 

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Lawmakers Still Waiting For Pay

Will State Lawmakers’ be getting their paychecks in a more timely fashion? For now the simple answer is no.

 

Comptroller Leslie Munger says that hospitals, social services agencies and others are all waiting and for her the decision to make elected officials wait for pay is a simple one.

 

 

The decision by Munger has certainly been felt. Since deciding to put lawmaker pay in the same backlog as many other bills, paychecks from April were just recently received. 

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Progress Incremental in Nuclear Energy Negotiations

Progress is slow and incremental in the negotiations to save nuclear energy in Illinois.
That's the message from Representative Bill Mitchell, who was in Clinton Friday with House minority leader Jim Durkin and Representative Dan Brady. The trio were stationed across from Clinton Lake from the Exelon Power station with around 150 employees from the Clinton facility.
 
 
Representative Brady says it's around 125 jobs in his legislative area that work at the Clinton Power Station. He says the positive part of what is happening is everyone is continuing to talk.
 
Minority leader Durkin pointed out nobody has walked away from negotiations and that is also a good thing.
 
While progress is slow, Representative Mitchell feels they are at a better place than they were at the start of June when Exelon announced their plans for closure. 

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Rauner reacts to latest terror attack in France at American Legion Convention

Governor Bruce Rauner saluted veterans at the Illinois American Legion Convention in Springfield. He didn't just think of the achievements of yesteryear on his mind. This week's horrific events in France were very much on his mind....
 
 
Rauner isn't taking Illinois safety for granted....
 
 

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Court decision on Independent Map Amendment expected Thursday

Despite efforts by opponents to get it thrown off Illinois ballots in November, supporters of a statewide referendum on an amendment to the Illinois constitution that will reform redistricting have moved ahead with a voter education blitz;
 
 
That’s a section of a new TV ad from the Independent Map coalition, which wants to put the constitutional amendment question to Illinois voters this fall. Altona (AL-tone-ah) farmer David Erickson serves on the Independent Map board of directors;
 
 
Opponents claim the idea of creating an independent, non-partisan commission to create legislative districts is unconstitutional. The Independent Map group collected nearly 600-thousand signatures to put the question to Illinois voters. Erickson, who also serves as vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, expects a court decision by this Thursday (July 21).

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Rauner Signs Law Expanding Driver's License Veteran Designation

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS SIGNING A NEW LAW EXPANDING THE STATE’S DRIVER’S LICENSE DESIGNATION FOR VETERANS
 
SINCE LAST YEAR…VETS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GET A SPECIAL IDENTIFIER ON THEIR LICENSE SIGNALING THEIR STATUS AS A VETERAN. THE PROGRAM DIDN’T INCLUDE NATIONAL GUARD MEMBERS OR RESERVISTS, WHICH IS AN OVERSIGHT THAT’S CORRECT WITH THIS NEW LAW SAYS GOVERNOR RAUNER.
 
 
THE NEW LAW CORRECTS AN OVERSIGHT IN THE CURRENT LAW TO MAKE SURE ALL SERVICE MEMBERS ARE REPRESENTED SAYS GOVERNOR RAUNER.
 
 
VETS CAN HAVE THE DESIGNATION ADDED FOR FREE WHEN THEY RENEW THEIR DRIVER’S LICENSE. IF THEY WANT TO DO THAT BEFORE THEIR LICENSE IS UP FOR RENEWAL, IT WILL COST FIVE BUCKS.
 

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Weekly Weather Summary

The weekend will start out cool, but expect it to warm up later on during the week. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more...
 

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Progress Incremental in Nuclear Energy Negotiations

Progress is slow and incremental in the negotiations to save nuclear energy in Illinois.

 

That's the message from Representative Bill Mitchell (pictured center), who was in Clinton Friday with House minority leader Jim Durkin (pictured left) and Representative Dan Brady (pictured right). The trio were stationed across from Clinton Lake from the Exelon Power station with around 150 employees from the Clinton facility.

 

 

Representative Brady says it's around 125 jobs in his legislative area that work at the Clinton Power Station. He says the positive part of what is happening is everyone is continuing to talk.

 

 

Minority leader Durkin pointed out nobody has walked away from negotiations and that is also a good thing.

 

While progress is slow, Representative Mitchell feels they are at a better place than they were at the start of June when Exelon announced their plans for closure. 

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Sheriff: FBI Academy Most Phenomenal Learning Experience

If you follow DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner on any social media platform, you probably figured out earlier this spring he was doing something a little out of the ordinary.

 

A test of body and mind is how DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner describes an intense 10-week training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The Sheriff says it was a great experience that helped him sharpen his skills, coming away with new and exciting ideas.

 

 

The Academy featured 200-plus law enforcement adminstrators together along with over 25 countries represented. The Sheriff calls it the most 'phenomenal learning experience' of his professional career.

 

 

The Sheriff explains two of the bigger takeaways from the training was the focus on taking care of themselves as leaders and community servants, but also make sure they are doing things to take care of their families. He says that was one thing he did not expect. Sheriff Shofner also says they discussed taking care of a community's law enforcement officers.

 

 

There was a physical portion of the training as well. According to the Sheriff, he had to pass a physical test to get there, he had to pass that same test when he got there, and then pass 10 physical challenges while he was there. Sheriff Shofner credits the Clinton YMCA for helping keep him in shape.

 

Picture Right: DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner with the Yellow Brick he earned through physical training portion of FBI Academy.

 

 

Service to the community is the start of what the Sheriff wants to do coming home from the academy. Sheriff Shofner says this is a challenging time for law enforcement officials and he says they are going to look at taking better care of law enforcement officers and first responders.

 

 

The Sheriff says most of the leaders he talked with and befriended are facing similar challenges to DeWitt County. 

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Maroa-Forsyth Prepares To Enter New Conference in 2016-17

The summer sports seasons are winding down and attention is starting to turn towards the fall sports season.

 

For one area school, that will mean another shift to a new conference. According to Mike Williams, Superintendent of Moroa-Forsyth school, the high school will transition to the Sangamo Conference in the Springfield area this fall.

 

 

Williams says it's disappointing Maroa-Forsyth is ending their affiliation with the Okaw Valley conference, who will join with a new conference in 2017-18. He says the travel in the new conference is a wash even though there's twice as many teams than the Okaw.

 

 

Members of the current Central Illinois Conference once made up a majority of the Okaw Valley Conference, and Williams predicts there being opportunities for a Maroa-Forsyth return to the CIC.

 

 

Williams says he's very familiar with the administrators of the Sangamo and looks forward to working with them in the coming years.

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Unemployed Should Prepare Resumes

If you’re jobless you now have a few more things to take care of before you can claim and receive unemployment benefits.

 

The state’s Department of Employment Security is rolling out a new requirement to get your check every week.

 

If you’re seeking benefits you will now have to complete a registration for employment services and add a resume to the state’s employment website. IDES Director Jeff Mays says they need to know peoples work history so they can better get people back to work.

 

 

The new regulation takes effect on Sunday. 

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Munger Says Not All Well Despite Stopgap Budget

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger says the recent stopgap budget deal is not stalling the growth of the state's debt.

 

Munger explains the state's bill backlog will continue to expand in the fall months and by the end of the year, the state will have about $10 billion in unpaid invoices. Munger is making a point of making paying state lawmakers and state constitutional officers, including herself, a low priority.

 

 

Munger calculates the state is on track to outspend revenue by 2.5 billion dollars in the next six months.

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COGFA Estimating Bigger Budget Hole

The legislative commission on government forecasting and accountability estimates the state of Illinois will likely reach $8 billion budget hole.

 

That's the fallout of the stopgap budget deal between Governor Rauner and lawmakers, which calls for more spending than revenue.

 

The report was requested by one of four lawmakers to vote against the budget deal, State Rep. David McSweeney.

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Durbin Calling For Criminal Justice Reforms

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Republican colleagues Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Lee of Utah probably can't agree on what to have for lunch, much less legislation.

 

But the trio, along with New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker, are speaking with one voice in the call for criminal justice reform.

 

They say the recent wave of violence and protests after police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana and the shootings of five Dallas Police officers has added to the urgency.

 

Durbin addressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging him to schedule a vote on the Senate’s bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.

 

 

Durbin believes the legislation could serve as a source of reconciliation at a time when America needs it most.

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Rain Fall Totals Varied Across Central Illinois

Two rounds of thunderstorms dumped a good amount of rain on central Illinois Wednesday. 

 

Just short of two inches of rain was reported between the two storms at the Big Red Barn that houses WHOW The Big 1520 AM and 92.3 FM, WEZC 95.9 FM, and the online publication DeWittDailyNews.com.

 

In northern DeWitt County Wednesday, just over one inch (1.10 inches) was reported and near Farmer City, just off Route 54, nearly two inches (1.95) fell.

 

In Piatt County, there were several reports. Northern Piatt County near Route 10, a report of 1.23 and 1.35 inches were reports. Near Monticello, 0.86-inches were recorded and southwest parts of the County had a report of .82 inches.

 

In McLean County, Bloomington Normal had reports ranging from 0.93-inches to 1.62 inches. Off of Interstate-55 in northern McLean County, there was a report of .91 inches of rain and western McLean County had a report of 1.35.

 

Between Heyworth and LeRoy, there were two reports, one of 0.76 and another of one-inch.

 

In Lincoln in Logan County, reports ranged from 0.62 inches to 0.98 inches. Far northern Logan County had a report of 0.22 and far western Logan County had a report of 0.70. Rural portions of Logan County east and south of Lincoln, there was report of 1.71 inches and 1.19 inches.

Reports of rainfall were widely varied in Champaign County.

 

In Champaign, reports primarily ranged between 0.75 and 0.82 inches.

 

Rural Champaign County on the western edge near Piatt County had reports of an inch and just over an inch (1.10).

 

In Urbana, reports were right around 0.65 inches.

 

Near Savoy and Tolono, reports varied between 0.50 and 0.68 inches.

 

Southeastern Champaign County had reports between 1.90 inches and 2.19 inches.

The reports are from cocorahs.org. 

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DNR Officials Remind Boaters to be Safe

The boating season is in full swing and it's been a busy year so far at Clinton Lake.

 

Sgt. John Williamson with the DNR Conservation Police Force says they have been focused on a new law that went into effect a few years ago that has tubers and skiers with a bright orange flag on their watercraft.

 

 

Williamson says he likes the law as it can be a huge safety hazzard and is a good warning system for other boaters.

 

 

Even though the weather hasn't catered to boaters all that often this summer, Williamson says the fisherman have been out in full force almost all year. He reminds them to check out a fishing digest and it will have all the regulations for each body of water you might be going to.

 

 

Williamson says for all DNR inquiries about boating, fishing, hunting courses that will be starting soon, visit dnr.illinois.gov. 

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Social Security Much More Than A Retirement Fund

For many Americans, Social Security is something that rarely crosses their minds because it is often viewed as a benefit to retirement.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security says while that is the case, many view Social Security as their retirement fund. He says that can be a dangerous perception as it was never intended for that purpose.

 

 

Myers reminds Americans Social Security has many other benefits. And he explains while over 60-percent of social security recipients are retired Americans, the reality is 20-percent of 20-year olds today will become disabled.

 

 

Myers says social security should not the primary source of revenue for Americans in their retirement years. He says it's never too early to start planning for retirement and encourages a visit to socialsecurity.gov for helpful resources in that process started.

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Rauner Signs Executive Order for State Contracts

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS SIGNING AN EXECUTIVE ORDER TO ENSURE ALL BUSINESSES HAVE AN EQUAL SHOT AT GETTING A STATE CONTRACT.

 

THE ORDER FOCUSES ON BUSINESSES OWNED BY MINORITIES, WOMEN AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. IT DIRECTS THE STATE’S PURCHASING AGENCY TO IMPLEMENT REFORMS FROM LAST YEAR’S DISPARITY STUDY LIKE MENTORING PROGRAMS AND GUIDING THESE BUSINESSES THROUGH THE PROCUREMENT PROCESS.

 

 

GOVERNOR RAUNER IS ASKING THE STATE’S PURCHASING AGENCY TO IMPLEMENT SOME OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE STUDY…TO HELP EVEN THE PLAYING FIELD FOR UNDERREPRESENTED BUSINESSES.

 

 

THE STATE WILL ALSO LOOK AT THE USE OF SHELTERED MARKETS WHERE SOME CONTRACTS ARE SET ASIDE FOR UNDERREPRESENTED BUSINESSES.

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Mixed State Budget for Conservation Programs

The passing of the Illinois state budget brought mixed feelings for natural resource programs around the state.

 

Some state cost sharing programs, like Soil and Water Conservation district offices, were funded in the temporary budget agreement.

 

 

On the other hand some programs such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) did not collect full funding. Funded through the state, the enhancement section of CREP did not receive support.

 

 

Dozier says Illinois conservation programs will continue to build a strong relationship with other each other throughout the state despite the budget. 

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Hillary Visits Springfield

With talk of racial unrest dominating the national news, Hillary Clinton returned to the Old State Capitol to make connections between discussions on race in Abraham Lincoln's time and today.

 

The apparent Democratic nominee for President called for the nation to address gun violence, criminal justice reform after the recent series of high profile fatal police involved shootings, while also finding ways to support police departments. In the home of Lincoln's House Divided speech, Clinton called her opponent, Republican Donald Trump the ultimate divider.

 

 

Clinton calls Trump a divider based on his stances on Muslims, Hispanics and women.

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Sheriff Shofner on Dallas Shootings: My Reaction is Anger, Gutwrenching Heartbreak

Coming up on a week of the shooting of police officers at a rally in Dallas, DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner is reacting to the incident.

 

Sheriff Shofner says the news of five slain police officers in Dallas brought anger and heartbreak for the officers that were killed at what was a peaceful protest.

 

 

Sheriff Shofner says it's becoming too common, the public hearing about incidents, not having all the facts, and jumping to conclusions. He explains some of that is on the media, but some of it is also on law enforcement agencies.

 

 

 

The Sheriff recently attended and graduated from a 10-week training at the national FBI academy where over 40-hours were dedicated to dealing with the media and how to properly and effectively get information out.

 

We'll have more on Sheriff Shofner's training at the FBI academy in the coming days on Regional Radio News. 

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Clintonia Eagle Theater, Second Chance for Pets Teaming Up This Weekend

Whether you've seen the latest kids hit movie this summer or not, the Clintonia Eagle Theater and Second Chance for Pets of DeWitt County are hoping you'll stop by for a special showing of "The Secret Life of Pets".

 

Byron Conner is general manager of the Clintonia Eagle Theater and says the showing is at 10 am this Saturday morning with ten-percent of the proceeds from the showing going to Second Chance for Pets of DeWitt County. Conner says this is a cause that hits home for him.

 

 

The Secret Life of Pets is about a terrier named Max's quiet life is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes. Rated PG, the animated film features the voices of Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, and Dana Carvey. 

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Governor Forms New School Funding Commission

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS ANNOUNCING THE FORMATION OF A NEW, BIPARTISAN COMMISSION TO STUDY EDUCATION FUNDING REFORM.

 

HOW THE STATE DOLES OUT MONEY TO SCHOOLS HAS BEEN DEBATED FOR MANY YEARS. GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS THIS COMMISSION WILL ADDRESS THE OVERRELIANCE ON PROPERTY TAXES AND HOW TO MAKE SURE EACH STUDENT GETS A GOOD EDUCATION, REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY LIVE.

 

 

A REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION WILL BE DUE FEBRUARY FIRST, WITH THE INTENT OF DRAFTING LEGISLATION FROM THE GROUP’S RECOMMENDATIONS.

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Congressman Davis Hopes Mental Health Legislation Helps Locally

A major bipartisan accomplishment is how central Illinois' representation in Congress described recent mental health legislation.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis says action last week in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. will begin to reform the mental health system by giving local authorities the ability to intervene before a major crisis happens.

 

 

According to the Congressman, mental health professionals won't necessarily be able to stop some of these tragedies, but he says it gives them the opportunity to recognize something before a situation gets out of hand.

 

 

Davis says things like the San Bernadino shooting or the Dallas night club massacre likely won't be preventable with this legislation, he does hope domestic terror will be addressed soon.

 

 

Congressman Davis points out the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults is suicide. He calls the system broken and failing the people who need it. 

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WATCH President Sentenced on Charges of Battery

Local activist Bill Spencer has been sentenced to 12 months probation and 25 hours of community service following sentencing for a 2014 incident at the DeWitt County building, which lead to charges of aggravated battery.

 

Monday, Judge Roger Webber sentenced the 61-year old president of WATCH Clinton Landfill in connection to an incident that followed a September 2014 DeWitt County Board meeting.

 

Spencer was accused of shoving DeWitt County Republican Party President Dustin Peterson after a County Board meeting. Peterson did not retaliate and did not press charges, but because the incident was on county property, Spencer was eventually charged and convicted in a jury trial in May.

 

Spencer was also fined $500. 

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New Substance Abuse Coalition Hopes To Address Major Concern

A recently formed group in DeWitt County is hoping to tackle a national issue head on that has started to hit home.

 

The recently formed DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition seeks to deal with the continuing issue of heroin and substance abuse in the community. According to Sgt. Rob Spickard with the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office, the group is comprised of several community groups and entities.

 

 

The ultimate goal is educating the community on signs of substance abuse and Sgt. Spickard hopes to give the community the knowledge of how to help those in that battle.

 

 

Sgt. Spickard indicates not only is the coalition's goal to become a source of education and help, but they are also seeking to get out in front of the issue.

 

 

If you or your group might have something to offer to the substance abuse coalition, you have questions on substance abuse for yourself or a friend or loved one, you can contact Sgt. Spickard at the DeWitt County Sheriff's office at 217-935-9507. 

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Warner Library's Summer Reading Club Going Strong

It's still not too late to join the Warner Library's Summer Reading Club.

 

The summer reading club encourages a summer that includes short stints in a good book or story for kids to teens to adults. Librarian Paula Lopatic says the summer months are a very important time in the academic devleopment of a child.

 

 

Lopatic says reading doesn't always mean sitting on the couch or on a bed with a book in front of them. She's explains there's several different environments reading can take place.

 

 

The summer reading club at the Warner Library encourages students to read around 15 minutes per day and when students read, they can enter for several prizes to be given away throughout the summer.

 

 

Lopatic says research is starting to show student's math skills stay elevated when students continue to read during the summer.

 

Getting registered for the summer reading club is very simple. Students will need to come to the library and know what grade they have completed along with a phone number for parents.

The library is located at 310 North Quincy Street. Visit vwarner.org for more information. 

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Weekly Crop Report

WIDESPREAD RAIN GAVE ILLINOIS CROPS A BOOST AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT.

 

AVERAGE STATEWIDE RAINFALL WAS MORE THAN AN INCH ABOVE NORMAL LAST WEEK, AND MUCH NEEDED IN SOME AREAS. STATE CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER GIVES AN UPDATE ON CROP PROGRESS.

 

 

39 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE BLOOMING AND SEVEN PERCENT ARE SETTING PODS. 74 PERCENT OF THE SOYBEAN CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION.

 

 

95 PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT AND 17 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN HARVESTED. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE INCREASED TO TWO PERCENT VERY SHORT…NINE PERCENT SHORT…79 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 10 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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SAT To Replace PARCC Testing

ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOLERS WILL NO LONGER HAVE TO TAKE THE PARCC EXAM TO MEASURE HOW READY THEY ARE FOR COLLEGE.

 

ISBE’S JASON HELFER SAYS BUDGET CONCERNS ARE PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHANGE, AS WELL AS CONCERNS THAT STUDENTS SHOULD BE FOCUSING ON COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS.

 

 

HELFER SAYS THE CHANGE IS PARTLY DUE TO BUDGETARY ISSUES…AS WELL AS MAKING SURE STUDENTS HAVE ACCESS TO TESTS THEY NEED TO GET INTO COLLEGE.

 

 

SCHOOLS PREVIOUSLY ADMINISTERED THE A-C-T…BUT SWITCHED THIS YEAR TO THE S-A-T. THIRD THROUGH EIGHTH GRADERS WILL STILL HAVE TO TAKE THE PARCC EXAM.

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New Director Named for Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

A new director has been chosen for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

 

Veteran historian and activist Alan Lowe has landed the post after most recently serving as the first director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.

 

Lowe oversaw development, design and construction of the library, which opened in 2013. He also spent time as an archivist at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, and spent more than a decade in the National Archives’ central Office of Presidential Libraries in Washington, D.C.

 

He later served as acting director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

 

The 52-year-old Kentucky native even has a dog named Lincoln, as well as Theodore Rex, a tribute to Teddy Roosevelt.

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LaHood Salutes Passage of Mental Health Reforms

The House last week voted to overhaul the nation's mental healthcare system. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 received overwhelming bipartisan support.

 

Congressman Darin LaHood co-sponsored the legislation. The Peoria Republican says he personally saw the need for a focus on treatment instead of confinement in the courtroom.

 

 

LaHood says one key reform is the linking of pediatricians and primary care doctors to psychiatrists and psychologists in rural areas where patients do not have access to care.

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Durbin Looking for Zika Funding

Congress is headed on a month’s long break at the end of the week but one US Senator says a nasty pest won’t be taking the summer off. 

 

US Senator Dick Durbin says that the Senate has done their part, passing a billion dollar bill but the House of Representatives loaded that bill up with additional amendments that sunk its chances of passage. He says this week is the last chance to help fight the problem before the summer winds down.

 

 

Durbin says that even if the mosquitoes never make it to Illinois people travel all over the globe now and they can be vulnerable when abroad.

 

 

Misquotes carrying Zika are spreading around the tropics and the federal government wants money to help combat the spread of the biting flying insects that carry and spread the disease.

According to Durbin more than 3600 people in the US have contracted Zika and five months ago the call went out for $1.9 billion in funding and nothing was done in Congress. 

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UPDATED: Decatur Man in Serious Condition After Police Shooting

All of the national tension tied to police shootings moves closer to home. A Decatur man is in serious condition after a Decatur police officer who believed he had a gun, shot the suspect in the chest this morning.

 

Interim Police Chief Jim Getz describes the weapons carried by Lonnie Mitchell II.

 

 

Get says the handling of the incident is a study in police restraint and going the extra mile for care of the suspect.

 

 

The officer is a five year veteran of the Decatur department.

 

The investigation has been turned over to the Illinois State Police. 

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Global Leadership Summit Coming to Decatur First Church of the Nazarene August 11-12

Decatur First Church of the Nazarene is again a satellite site for the upcoming Global Leadership Summit August 11th and 12th.

The 2-day live event will be transmitted from Willow Creek Church in suburban Chicago, to over 450 locations around the world, including Decatur First Nazarene.

Whether at church, school, business or home, leaders are leading people and projects every day. Leading in a culture that is constantly changing and redefining itself.

Leaders thru-out Central Illinois are invited to gather with thousands of leaders across North America for The Global Leadership Summit. Last year, Decatur First Nazarene had over 40 area leaders participate.

This year's speakers include Willow Creek founding pastor Bill Hybels, Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation, Alan Mulally who is president and C-E-O of Ford Motor Company, Bishop T-D Jacks of the Potter's House Church, and Horst Schulze who is founding president of the Ritz-Carlton Group.

Registration is just $209, and can be done on-line by clicking the "2016 Leadership Summit" icon at d1naz.com.
 

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Big Brothers Big Sisters Seeking Community Based Volunteers

Thanks to the generosity of Clinton Exelon Power Station over the last few years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of DeWitt County has almost doubled in size.

 

According to Lauren Hutton with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the biggest need they see in their program right now is the need for community based matches. She explains this is where a 'big' and 'little' will interact in a community based setting, as opposed to their school based setting.

 

 

Hutton explains there are benefits to being a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters. She indicates they've partnered with area businesses to provide their matches with benefits as something to do when they are together.

 

 

For Hutton, one of the best experiences about monitoring the matches is hearing the different sides to how things are going. She says a 'big' may sometimes wonder if they're really making an impact but what she hears from the 'littles' are the mentors are having a great impact.

 

 

As the new school year approaches, Hutton indicates she'll be reaching out to the schools in DeWitt County seeking high school students to be mentors for younger students.

 

To learn more about the community or school based programs with Big Brothers Big Sisters of DeWitt County, contact Hutton in Clinton at 217-935-1234 or email her at lhutton@bbbscil.org. 

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Maroa-Forsyth School Leader Says Illinois Fully Funding Education is Misleading

While he's thankful the State of Illinois has agreed to fully fund education, a local school leader says it is a little misleading.

 

Mike Williams is the Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth schools and says the frustration for him comes from the legislature taking the easy way out and passing a budget to the next election.

 

 

While education is being fully funded in the proposal, Williams says that is a little misleading because the funding levels are from 2008 and so much of their costs are greater in fiscal year '17 than they were almost a decade ago.

 

 

Williams also notes he is a little apprehensive the state will actually fully fund education for the entire year. He says if in a year from the now the checks are all in and the money is all there, that is when he'll believe they have fully funded education.

 

 

Williams says Maroa-Forsyth Schools rely heavily on local tax dollars, and he indicates that keeps the money they receive regularly on time. He says he would much rather receive local dollars than state dollars because local dollars are far more reliable. 

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Durbing Pushing for More Dialogue on Police, Racism

The country has been left trying to understand the violence surrounding police officers shooting suspects the assassination of five officers in Dallas.

 

US Senator Dick Durbin urges a continued dialogue between police and communities to find a way beyond fatal violence that is plaguing areas of the United States.

 

 

Durbin says that we all need to be thankful that police are working everyday to keep communities safe.

 

 

Durbin says the shooter having a used an AR-15 assault rifle and having a stash of guns and bomb making material at home should give anyone pause when talking about gun control.

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Weekly Weather Summary

Expect seasonably cool temperatures but to warm up next week. State Climotologist Jim Angel has more.

 

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Strong Reaction From Local NAACP

Totally reprehensible.

 

That is the response of Bloomington-Normal N-Double-A-C-P President Quincy Cummings to two black men who were killed by white police officers this week.

 

 

Cummings says the problem of black men being killed by white police officers is a problem that is growing like a cancer.

 

 

Cummins says black Americans remain distrustful of the police.


He adds 99-percent of police have the best interest of the public in mind, but the one percent of police that have personal vendettas need to be rooted out.

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Road Construction Funding Update

Just prior to the Fourth of July weekend, the state legislature passed six month budget extension to keep the state operating.

 

Don Schaeffer of the Midwest Truckers Association says the good news is that road and bridge construction and repair projects were funded for the full year, through nest June.

 

 

In addition, Schaeffer says the legislature has approved a constitutional amendment for the ballot this November that would halt the practice of sweeping transportation funds for general fund use.

 

 

And the loss of that six billion over the past decade is major reason why Illinois roads and bridges have fallen into disrepair.

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Crime Stoppers Offering Reward in Bank Robbery Case

Clinton Area Crime Stoppers has offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect responsible for the July 1, 2016 robbery of the Dewitt Savings Bank in Clinton.

 

At approximately 3:51 P.M. on July 1, 2016 a lone black male entered the Dewitt Savings Bank, approached a teller station and presented a handwritten note demanding money. The bank employee complied with the suspect's demands and the suspect left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash.

 

No weapons were displayed during the robbery and no one was injured.

 

The suspect is described as a tall, slender black male, mid to late 20's or early 30's wearing dark jeans, a dark long sleeved shirt, aviator style sunglasses and a black, grey and white camouflage bucket hat bearing a Chicago Bulls logo.

 

The suspect fled the bank on foot to a vehicle parked in the alley behind the 200 block of West Main Street, fled south on Quincy Street and then west on Jefferson Street, nearly striking a northbound walking pedestrian at the intersection of Jefferson and Grant Streets.

 

The suspect vehicle is described as an older model white 4-door passenger car with a partial license plate of "V10".

 

Clinton Police are being assisted in the investigation by the Dewitt County Sheriff's Department, Illinois State Police Zone 5 Investigations and Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services.


Anyone with information is asked to call the Clinton Police Department at 217-935-9441 or Clinton Area Crime Stoppers at 217-935-3333. 

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Maroon Pride Night To Highlight Track and Field

A first of it's kind event is set for Clinton High School early next week aimed at promoting the benefits and fun of track and field.

 

Maroon Pride Night seeks to introduce and teach the basics of track and field to youngsters in the community. The event, Monday night at Clinton High School's track faciltiy, is according to Rachel Lyons, a great opportunity for young people in the community.

 

 

Many sports have seasons most times of the year. For Lyons, she hopes to begin to instill a passion for track and field early in the lives of the youth of the community.

 

 

 

Lyons indicates the event is a fundraiser for the girl's track and field team. She says the Clinton Athletic Booster Club is a great supporter of their team and they appreciate everything they do, and they hope to ease the reliance on them for things like uniforms and other equipment.

 

 

The event is Monday with registration at 5:30 pm. Running events include the 100-meter dash, a toddler 20-meter run, the mile run, hurdles, and a 4x100 relay.

 

Clinic events include shot put, long jump and hurdles.

 

For more information on the event, visit the CHS girls track and field Facebook page or find them on Twitter at the handle, @cchsgirlstrack. 

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Congressman Davis Not Surprised By FBI Recommendation for Clinton

The FBI's recommendation to not indict Hilary Clinton over her handling of private servers with classified information is not a surprise to south central Illinois' representative in the US House.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis believes this is a political play and doesn't think it was coincidental because of some of the events that happened leading up to the decision that was announced earlier this week.

 

 

Congressman Davis says it looks like FBI Director James Comey was hamstrung and says it looks bad.

 

 

In front of Congress Thursday, Comey defended his decision saying quote - "No reasonable prosecutor would bring this case ... Nobody would. Nobody did."

 

He called the FBI probe "apolitical," "competent, honest and independent."

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Shimkus Expresses Continued Concern Over EPA Emissions Standards

Congressman John Shimkus says EPA plans to toughen emissions standards for coal fired power plants will pull the plug on a number of jobs.

 

 

Shimkus maintains new EPA regulations would exponentially raise costs for employers and consumers alike.

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Labor Board Sides With AFSCME

The impasse between the Governor and AFSCME will not come to a quick end.

 

The state’s largest employee union and the administration have been without a contract for more than a year. The state’s labor board denied a request by the Rauner administration to bypass an administrative judge and instead have the board rule on if negotiations are stalled out or not.

 

AFSCME had been worried about the board’s decision, the members are appointed by the Governor, but they ruled in unanimous consent.

 

The move continues the process of the negotiations and will result in an administrative law judge’s ruling on the matter later this year. 

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GMO Food Bill Heads TO House After Senate Approval

The US Senate passed a compromise bill last night that might change the way you look at a label on your food.

 

The Senate approved a new label, a QR code in fact, that would be on food products that you would scan and then a website would tell you if that item contained corn, soybeans or beets that had been genetically modified. Congressman Darin LaHood says the other approach to let each individual state set label laws is unworkable and it could hurt the state’s economy.

 

 

LaHood says the other approach to let each individual state set label laws is unworkable, but he thinks the House did the best job on how to label foods.

 

 

LaHood says he prefers the House bill but will give the Senate bill a chance.

 

Republican Mark Kirk voted in favor of the bill, Democrat Dick Durbin voted no.

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Durbin Applauds Cuba Travel Proposal

Senator Dick Durbin is applauding the latest news when it comes to improved relations between the US and Cuba. He backs a proposal by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to select eight U.S. airlines to begin scheduled flights between ten cities in the United States and Cuba.

 

Durbin says those flights would do more than bring a few tourist dollars to the financially troubled island nation. He also believes the flights would open up Cuba "to new ideas, new values, and improved human rights that our 50 year old policy of isolation could not achieve.”

 

Durbin is hopeful Chicago will be among the cities chosen for direct flights to Cuba. Last year, Durbin introduced the bipartisan Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, which would end restrictions on travel by American citizens and legal residents to Cuba.

 

The bill would also end restrictions on transactions related to travel, such as banking transactions.

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Senior Services To Return To DeWitt County

Seniors in DeWitt County didn't have to wait long for someone to swoop in and provide them with services that could have devastated them and left them without help until October.

 

It was announced Thursday Community Care Systems, INC will take over the services once provided by PATH in Clinton and DeWitt County. Marsha Johnson with Community Care says DeWitt County seniors should see a seamless transition starting July 18.

 

 

Executive Director of the DeWitt County Friendship Center, Sissy Leggett says it's going to be a great day on Monday July 18 when they get Rebecca Wheat back in their office.

 

 

Leggett says it's going to be a big boost to seniors to have Wheat back in the office because it will bring back the stability for the seniors of the community.

 

 

For more information, contact the DeWitt County Friendship at 217-935-9411. 

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Friendship Center Seeking Alternatives for Senior Services Provider

Right before the State of Illinois passed a stopgap budget for the current fiscal year, it was announced PATH senior services in parts of central Illinois would be going away because of the state budget crisis.

 

Despite the passage of the budget, PATH still shut down and the senior services provider in DeWitt County remains a need. According to Sissy Leggett, Executive Director of the DeWitt County Friendship Center, their staff continues to try to find alternatives for seniors of the community.

 

 

Leggett emphasizes the Friendship is not closing. She says many in the community have been worried about this unsure of what exactly is happening and indicates they are not directly impacted by the state budget crisis.

 

 

Leggett says the loss of the services at the Friendship Center is a big loss because their outreach worker was always busy with seniors with questions and helping them sort out information they were getting.

 

 

Leggett says there are a lot areas seniors in DeWitt County received assistance from the outreach worker at the Friendship Center, and now without that position, there's not a lot of good options for community seniors.

 

 

A real struggle for a lot of seniors in DeWitt County and across the country is the fact a lot of services have gone to strictly an online format or automated system, and Leggett says that is just not something that can be adjusted to overnight for many seniors.

 

 

Leggett does not have a time frame for when they will be able to get something back at the center or what that will like from a funding perspective.

 

For the time being, Leggett encourages seniors with any questions to either stop in and speak with her or to call the center and they can direct you to appropriate numbers for information.

The Friendship Center can be reached at 935-9411. 

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Big Brothers/Big Sisters Would Be Impacted By Exelon Closure

The trickle down effect of the Clinton Power Station closure seems almost endless in DeWitt County.

 

Between government entities and non-profits locally, it is hard to find a faction of the community that would not be impacted by the loss of Exelon.

 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of DeWitt County would stand lose volunteers, events and funding if Exelon were to leave the community. Brie Weaver with BBBS says Exelon has become a big supporter of their organization in recent years.

 

 

According to Weaver, the interactions with Exelon employees with the kids in their organization has been one of the areas they have contributed as well. She says it would be sad to see that partnership disappear.

 

 

Weaver says having Exelon has allowed to them to serve as many kids that have come into their group. She says if Exelon leaves the community and they cannot supplement the funds they lose from their absence, it is possible they would have to cap their program.

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LaHood Sounds Off on FBI Decision in Clinton Email Case

Congressman Darin LaHood is expressing disappointment in Tuesday's announcement from FBI Director James Comey that the bureau wouldn't recommend charges against former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over use of personal email to handle classified information.

 

 

LaHood believes Clinton may have benefited from a political double standard.

 

 

The Peoria Republican says Clinton may not be headed to court but he says she already faces added scrutiny in the court of public opinion.

 

LaHood calls Clinton's actions as Secretary of State "disingenuous and – even worse — unethical." 

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Union Members Quesioned About Being Ready for Strike

The state’s largest employee union has briefed members about what would happen if the union went on strike.

 

AFSCME is also reaching out to some members and polling them on if they are willing to strike. The action comes as contract talks between AFSCME and the Governor’s office are stalled.

 

The union says they do not want a strike but have to have members prepared for anything.

Overall there are about 38,000 state workers that are members of AFSCME.

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Sen. Durbin Honors Mikva on Senate Floor

Senator Dick Durbin offered a tribute to a fixture in Illinois and national politics, Abner Mikva, who passed away Monday at the age of 90.

 

Durbin called the former Congressman, judge and White House legal counsel a major influence on his career.

 

 

Mikva worked for liberal causes until the very end, most recently pushing for the U.S. Senate to consider the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

 

He served five terms in the Illinois General Assembly, five terms in Congress, became a judge for 15 years for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and then served as White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton.

 

President Barack Obama awarded Mikva the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. 

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Diesel Spill Hits Mississippi

There's bad news for barge traffic in the region. Mississippi River Lock and Dam 25, just north of St. Louis is closed after a diesel spill.

 

A towboat spilled more than 2,000 gallons of diesel while passing through the lock near Winfield, Missouri.

 

Investigators are looking for a cause of the spill, about 50 miles north of St. Louis.

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Progress Continues At Clinton Save A Lot

 

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Video Released of Friday Bank Robbery in Clinton

The Clinton Police Department and DeWitt County Sheriff's Office have released video footage of the bank robbery from Friday at DeWitt Savings Bank.

 

Authorities continue to search for a suspect described as a tall, slender black male, mid to late 20's or early 30's and has a square postage stamp style tattoo on his right hand.

 

The suspect vehicle is described as an older model white passenger car, possibly a Mercury Grand Marquis or Ford Crown Victoria with a partial license plate of "V10".

 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Clinton Police Department at 217-935-9441 or Clinton Area Crime Stoppers at 217-935-3333.

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MISO Auction Proves Need To Keep Nuclear Power in Illinois

A recent survey by the Carmel, Indiana based Midcontinent Independent System Operator, MISO, shows the grid with a major shortage of power come mid-2018.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose says this is something he's been saying since it was first announced Exelon would be closing two plants in Illinois starting next year.

 

 

According to Sen. Rose, there is the possibility MISO could order Exelon to remain open, but he isn't going to hold out hope that will happen. He says time continues to run short.

 

 

Sen. Rose says there is still opposition to the legislation and says this remains a statewide issue, not just a relief bill for DeWitt County and the Quad Cities. 

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Urbana Man Who Burned American Flag Won't Face Charges

A Champaign County prosecutor announces she won't pursue charges against an Urbana man who was arrested Monday for a flag burning protest on Facebook.

 

State's Attorney Julia Rietz cites flag burning as protected free speech in her decision not to pursue the case of Bryton Mellott.

 

Mellott was taken into protective custody because of threats against him.

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Weekend Weather Hits Grain Prices

A change in the weather patterns over the holiday weekend pressured grain prices when trade reopened on Tuesday, as corn slid about 20 cents and beans were off 60 cents.

 

DTN meteorologist Bryce Anderson said one big factor was weekend rains along the dry interstate 70 corridor.

 

 

Anderson says the improving weather outlook removes most concerns over any widespread dryness through July and August..

 

 

Bryce Anderson of DTN.

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Rep. Franks Did Not Support Budget Plan

Last week's stopgap budget deal featured unusual bipartisan compliments as only four members of the Illinois General Assembly voted against a plan to open schools on time and provide funding for six months of state services.

 

Maverick Democratic Representative Jack Franks was one of those four. He says the short term band aid will cost taxpayers sooner rather than later.

 

 

Franks says problems will only expand because of the stopgap budget.

 

 

Franks is leaving the legislature and seeking to become President of the McHenry County Board. 

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Information To Be Released Soon on Clinton Bank Robbery

A robbery at DeWitt Savings Bank in Clinton Friday has turned up several leads for local authorities.

 

That's according to Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers. The Chief says they are actively pursuing several leads acquired over the holiday weekend and hope to have more for the public in the coming days.

 

 

The suspect is described as a tall, slender black male, mid to late 20's or early 30's and has a square postage stamp style tattoo on his right hand.

 

The suspect vehicle is described as an older model white passenger car, possibly a Mercury Grand Marquis or Ford Crown Victoria with a partial license plate of "V10".

 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Clinton Police Department at 217-935-9441 or Clinton Area Crime Stoppers at 217-935-3333.

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Warner Library Introduces Services Survey

In an effort to better serve the community, the Warner Public Library has introduced a survey for their patrons and community members.

 

The survey seeks to find out what services are most needed by the community along with what hours are most beneficial. Paula Lopatic indicates the survey can be taken online or at the library's Quincy Street location.

 

 

The survey comes as Library officials continue with their strategic planning, which will coincide with the loss of the resources as Exelon plans their closure in Clinton.

 

To take the survey, again, visit vwarner.org or stop in at the Library at 310 North Quincy Street. 

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Rep. Mitchell: Pass Legislation To Help Clinton

At the conclusion of the budget session last Thursday, where the Illinois General Assembly approved a stopgap budget for social services and a year long budget for education, a local lawmaker called on the House of Representatives to address the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants.

 

Speaking on the House Floor, Representative Bill Mitchell says there's 700 good paying jobs at stake in DeWitt County and even more for contracted workers.

 

 

Rep. Mitchell says it's time for Illinois to stop talking about jobs in Illinois and actually do something about it.

 

 

The legislature continues to work on legislation to bring nuclear power in line with other energy sources in Illinois. Rep. Mitchell recently called that progress 'incremental.' 

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Clinton Schools Leader Apprehensive State Will Fully Fund Education

Reactions from the budget bill past last week continue to roll in.

 

Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles says he is pleased with the budget getting passed, as it takes a huge weight off his shoulders and definitely is pleased education will be fully funded in Illinois.

 

 

According to Nettles, he says there is some apprehension on his part because the state has a spending problem in addition a revenue problem. He is skeptical education in Illinois could be fully funded the entire year.

 

 

Education being fully funded is a good thing for Clinton schools because of the likely de-valuing of the Clinton Power Station. Nettles indicates as the decreasing and eventual loss of revenue from the power station looms, they continue to monitor the budget very closely.

 

 

Nettles says another benefit to the state passing a budget for education is they will now be able to access the federal dollars they receive, which totals close to a million dollars. 

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Strip Till Day To Be Held Next Week

Farmers interested in learning more about strip tilling are encouraged to attend a special event next week.

 

According to Kent Bonhoff, District Conservationist with Macon County NRC office, explains they are bringing experienced farmers to discuss and demonstrate strip till practices.

 

 

Bonhoff says the event will allow producers the opportunity to hear from those who have been doing this for a long time and those who are relatively new to the process.

 

 

The strip till event is Thursday, July 14 and an RSVP date is this Thursday, July 7.

 

To get registered, contact the Macon County NRC office at 217-877-5670, extension 3. 

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Celebrate Clinton Aims To Make Clinton Fireworks Show One Worth Traveling For

Bigger and better is the goal of a Clinton group for a tradition that takes place in communities across the country.
 
The annual fireworks display in Clinton has, for many years, been funded through the efforts by Brady Realtors in Clinton but this year, the Celebrate Clinton Association has taken over that effort says President of the group, Patrick Peterson.
 
 
Like efforts in the past, Celebrate Clinton battled find enough revenue for this year's show. Peterson says the City of Clinton made a contribution to not only the fireworks display, but also their activities on the square. Additionally, they called on area businesses and individual donors.
 
 
This year's fireworks display will  be on the west side of Clinton at dusk. In the event of rain, a rain date has been set for Saturday night, July 9. 

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Gov. Rauner Wants Grand Bargain, Speaker Says Not With Budget

NOW THAT ILLINOIS HAS A PLAN TO GET THROUGH THE END OF THE CALENDAR YEAR…GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS THE NEXT STEP IS TO NEGOTIATE A GRAND COMPROMISE BETWEEN NOVEMBER AND JANUARY. 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS AFTER THE NOVEMBER EIGHTH ELECTION…IT’S TIME TO WORK OUT A DEAL FOR A FULL, BALANCED BUDGET AND SOME OF HIS PROPOSED REFORMS.
 
 
HOUSE SPEAKER MIKE MADIGAN IS REITERATING HIS VIEW THAT THE GOVERNOR’S REFORMS SHOULDN’T BE TIED TO PASSAGE OF A STATE BUDGET.
 
 
RAUNER SAYS HE IS STICKING BY HIS PREVIOUS REQUIREMENTS…THAT HE WILL NOT SIGN A BUDGET THAT IS OUT OF BALANCE…AND WON’T APPROVE A TAX INCREASE WITHOUT PASSAGE OF THINGS LIKE WORKER’S COMPENSATION AND OTHER BUSINESS REFORMS.

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Weekly Weather Outlook

The fourth of July expects to be wet to start, drying up for the holiday. That's according to state climotologist, Jim Angel.

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Consumers Urged To Check Second-Hand Products For Recalls

IN LIGHT OF THE HUGE IKEA DRESSER RECALL…ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN IS URGING CONSUMERS TO MAKE SURE THEIR SECOND HAND PURCHASES ARE SAFE.
 
IKEA RECALLED 29 MILLION DRESSERS AND CHESTS AFTER SIX TODDLERS DIED WHEN THE FURNITURE TIPPED OVER AND FELL ON THEM. BUT MANY OF THE DRESSERS ARE STILL IN USE…WITH THE OWNERS UNAWARE OF THE PROBLEM.
 
 
MADIGAN SAYS IF YOU’RE BUYING A USED CHILDREN’S PRODUCT…LIKE A CAR SEAT, HIGH CHAIR OR FURNITURE…IT’S IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE THERE HAVEN’T BEEN ANY RECALLS ISSUED FOR THAT ITEM.
 
 
YOU CAN CHECK THE LATEST RECALLS BY VISITING THE CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION’S WEBSITE AT: CPSC DOT GOV.

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UPDATED: Celebrate Clinton Hosting Numerous Activities on Square

Celebrate Clinton's annual Fourth of July Celebration is set for this Monday with activities on the downtown Clinton Square all throughout the day.
 
Patrick Peterson, President of Celebrate Clinton says things kick off bright and early at 8 am with breakfast on the square served by local first responders and goes all the way up to 5 pm and everything is free. 
 
 
Musical groups on the square will perform throughout the day. Peterson says things kick off with the Central Illinois Uke Crazies and they're excited to welcome Grammy Award winner, Ron Stockert.
 
 A full list of activities can be found at the Celebrate Clinton Association Facebook page.
 
 
According to Peterson, one of the biggest highlights of the entire day is the dunk tank. He explains this brings out local leaders for a good time seeing them fall into the pool of water. 
 
 
There's numerous kids activities on the square as well. Peterson says those include a bike, trike and wagon decorating contest, the watermelon eating contest and the kids pedal tractor pull.
 
 
The Day concludes with the annual fireworks display out on the west side of the Clinton. Peterson says those will begin at dusk.
 
In the event of rain on Monday, the activities will shift to Clinton High School.
 
In the event of rain for the fireworks display, those will happen Saturday, July 9. 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 

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Local Authorities Talk Fireworks Safety

The fourth of July holiday is one for barbecues, get togethers and the enjoyment of entertainment in the form of pyrotechnics.

 

Clinton Fire Chief David Dallas says while it is illegal in Illinois to have fireworks, they recognize that is not going to stop some people from crossing state lines and bringing them back. He says it's best practice to carefully read the warning labels.

 

 

Clinton city ordinances fall in line with the state laws.

 

Chief Dallas also notes the fire department has a busy 4th of July scheduled. They will be taking part in some of the activities on the downtown sqaure and then will be out helping at the fireworks display on Clinton's west side. 

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Local Fruits, Vegetables To Become Popular

It’s that time of year when locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs are ready for picking.

 

If you are looking for farmers markets, roadside stands or agri-tourism locations, Diane Handley , manager of the Illinois Specialty Growers Assoc., says if we grow it in Illinois, you can find it at SpecialtyGrowers.org.

 

 

Again, for all the locations where specialty producers are marketing their produce near you, go to SpecialtyGrowers.org and click on the Prairie Bounty tab.

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June Was Warm, Dry

IT WAS A WARM, DRY JUNE FOR ILLINOIS, BUT THAT COULD CHANGE FOR SOME PARTS OF THE STATE.

 

JUNE WRAPPED UP WITH AN AVERAGE TEMPERATURE OF NEARLY 75 DEGREES SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL.

 

 

ANGEL SAYS IT WAS ALSO FAIRLY DRY, WITH STATEWIDE AVERAGE RAINFALL AT THREE INCHES.

 

THE U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR LISTS SOME PARTS OF WESTERN AND SOUTHEASTERN ILLINOIS AS “ABNORMALLY DRY.” HEAVY RAINS ARE EXPECTED THIS WEEKEND ACROSS MUCH OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ILLINOIS.

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State Service To Help Find Lost Life Insurance Money

A NEW STATE SERVICE AIMS TO HELP CONSUMERS FIND ANY LOST LIFE INSURANCE MONEY.

 

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE IS OFFERING A NEW TOOL FOR FAMILIES TO SEARCH FOR A LIFE INSURANCE POLICY OR ANNUITY CONTRACT LEFT BY A DECEASED LOVED ONE SAYS ACTING DIRECTOR ANNE MELISSA DOWLING.

 

 

DOWLING SAYS YOU CAN SUBMIT THE CERTIFICATE OF DEATH…AND LET THE AGENCY DO THE LEGWORK.

 

 

DOWLING SAYS THE ONLINE LIFE POLICY LOCATOR SERVICE IS EASY TO USE AND TAKES THE HASSLE OF A LOT OF PAPERWORK AND PHONE CALLS OUT OF THE PROCESS. TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SERVICE, VISIT: INSURANCE DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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More Details Emerge on Clinton Bank Robbery

More details have emerged about the bank robbery in Clinton Friday afternoon.

 

At approximately 3:56 P.M. Clinton Police responded to the report of a robbery at the DeWitt Savings Bank located at 302 West Main Street, Clinton.

 

Picture Right: Authorities block off portions of the community near the bank. 

Arriving officers learned that at approximately 3:50 P.M. a lone black male entered the bank, approached a teller station and presented a handwritten note demanding money. After a brief exchange, the bank employee complied with the suspect's demands and the suspect left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash.

 

No weapons were displayed during the robbery and no one was injured.

 

The suspect is described as a tall, slender black male, mid to late 20's or early 30's wearing dark jeans, a dark long sleeved shirt, mirrored aviator style sunglasses and a multi-colored or camouflage bucket hat bearing a Chicago Bulls logo.

 

The suspect has a square postage stamp style tattoo on his right hand.

 

The suspect fled the bank on foot to a vehicle parked nearby. The suspect vehicle is described as an older model white passenger car, possibly a Mercury Grand Marquis or Ford Crown Victoria with a partial license plate of "V10".

 

The suspect fled west at a high rate of speed through residential neighborhoods.

 

Clinton Police are being assisted in the investigation by the Dewitt County Sheriff's Department, Illinois State Police Zone 5 Investigations, Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Clinton Police Department at 217-935-9441 or Clinton Area Crime Stoppers at 217-935-3333.

 

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.  
           

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State Museum To Reopen

There was a grand reopening celebration at the Illinois State Museum in Downtown Springfield. Lawmakers and staffers turned out at the museum, nine months after Governor Rauner ordered it and satellite facilities closed.

 

Illinois State Museum Interim Director Michael Wiant....

 

 

The museum will reopen to the public at 8:30 AM Saturday with an admission charge for the first time. Legislation allowed for the reopening of the museum and some satellite facilities.

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Stopgap Budget Finalized

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS HAVE AGREED TO A SIX MONTH BUDGET AND EDUCATION FUNDING JUST IN TIME FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW FISCAL YEAR.

 

THE STOPGAP BUDGET IS DESIGNED TO KEEP THE STATE RUNNING THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR…AND ENSURES SCHOOLS OPEN IN THE FALL. HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JIM DURKIN SAID THIS DEAL HAD TO GET DONE NOW.

 

 

SENATOR JOHN SULLIVAN OF QUINCY REMINDS THIS IS JUST A SHORT-TERM FIX.

 

 

THE PLAN INCREASES EDUCATION FUNDING AND ALLOCATES EXTRA MONEY TO SCHOOLS, LIKE CHICAGO, WITH MOSTLY LOW INCOME STUDENTS. IT ALSO HELPS CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS WITH ITS STRUGGLING TEACHER PENSION SYSTEM.

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Speaker Wants To Focus on Budget

Any goodwill created by two sides coming together for near unanimous support for the stop gap spending plan will evaporate quickly in the contentious General Assembly.

 

It might have already happened.

 

Once all the votes were counted Speaker of the House Mike Madigan says that it’s the budget and only the budget that should be focus of lawmakers.

 

 

Madigan was clearly sending the message that he still isn’t willing to consider the Governor’s turn around agenda items. Election Day is 130 days away.

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Rauner Says Budget Deal Opens Door To Turnaround Agenda

House Speaker Michael Madigan said a stopgap budget deal became a reality because Governor Rauner dropped demands for business friendly reforms as part of his "Turnaround Agenda".

Rauner says the deal, opens the door to reform, and doesn't close it.

 

 

Rauner is happy to have schools open on time with what he calls an affordable amount of more money. 

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Rauner Will Press for Reforms

The state has a budget but it hasn’t lost the partisan politics that went into leaving Illinois as the only state in the nation to go more than a full year without one.

 

Governor Bruce Rauner says he wants to build on the consensus that was found in the General Assembly.

 

 

Election Day in November will clearly stand in the way of progress on the budget or any other of Rauner’s turn around agenda items. The real work and any more flashes of real compromise will more than likely wait until then.

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