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Local News

New Year's Safety From Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers

New Year's is a time of celebration with friends and family and local authorities hope everyone has a safe and happy new year.
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers explains, unfortunately, sometimes, New Year's can be a time when irresponsible choices are made. He's encouraging anyone partaking in adult beverages this holiday to make arrangements for a designated driver, or to remain at the location you'll be for your celebration.
 
As Christmas celebrations begin to wrap up, Chief Lowers encourages anyone with big box items from Christmas gifts to cut down the boxes so they fit in the garbage disposal canisters. He explains leaving big screen TV boxes or appliance or electronic boxes out, visible only advertises expensive items might be in your home. 

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Top Stories of 2016: 10-6

NO 10: DCRA Celebrating First Tenant To Magil Home

 

The DeWitt County Restoration Association's efforts to restore the Magill House on Center Street to it's once prominent state has teken a positive turn.

 

For many years the DCRA has been tirelessly working to restore the home and find business to fill the space and Becky Adams indicates they are going to welcome Bryce Starkey from Edward Jones into half of the space.

 

 

Starkey says it's a great opportunity for the agency and for him and looks forward to his transition to downtown Clinton.

 

 

According to Adams, Brady Realtors in Clinton has been authorized to seek out a tenant for the rest of the lower level and work on the upper levels continues.

 

NO 9: DJWH Board Approves Hospital Name Change, Values and Mission Statement

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

NO 8: Lovie Smith Comes To Illinois

 

It was a rather unexpected weekend for the University of Illinois and their football team in early March. First the firing of Head Coach Bill Cubit and then the announcement that they would hire former Bears’ Head Coach Lovie Smith was a surprise.

 

Smith comes to the university after being fired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past offseason and he hasn’t coached in college since 1995.

 

Smith says it’s an opportunity to relish.

 

 

Smith adds he won’t commit to any one style of play on the field but that he wants to give fans a reason to show up and support the team.

 

 

Smith says that the six year contract should speak for its self and he isn’t planning on going anywhere even if the NFL comes calling. The hire, worth $2 million a year over the next two seasons, $3 million the following year, $4 million in 2019 and then $5 million in 2020 and 2021.

 

In his first season in Champaign, the Illini went 3-9 with two wins in the Big Ten.

 

Many questioned whether Lovie Smith could recruit in his return to the college game. Illinois currently ranks 41st the country in the 247sports composite recruiting rankings.

 

NO 7: Clinton Football Coach Resigns

 

Clinton High School Football Coach John Hayden resigned his position as football coach in late October this year.

 

In his seven years at Clinton High School, Hayden compiled a 20-52 record, leading the Maroons to the 4A playoffs in 2015, their first appearance in 11 years.

 

The football coach position still remains unfilled.

 

NO 6: Clinton Police Department Investigating Drive-By Shooting

 

The Clinton Police Department investigated a drive-by shooting from the evening hours of December  12, near downtown Clinton.

 

At approximately 8:15 pm, authorities were called to the 400th block of South Center Street in Clinton for a report of shots fired.

 

Investigation by the police indicate four to six shots were fired from a semi-automatic handgun at intended victims standing outside.

 

No one was injured in the incident.

 

25-year old Michael A. Herald was arrested shortly after the incident.

 

Herald was charged with the unlawful discharge of a firearm and attempted murder.

 

Herald plead not guilty to the unlawful discharge of a firearm charge and the attempted murder charge was dismissed.

 

Tune in Monday on Regional Radio News for the top 5 stories from 2016. 

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Congressman Davis Hopeful State Will Solve Budget Stalemate

There isn't much they can do about it, at least officially, but the members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation continue to track developments at the state level.

 

Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville says some people are pointing their fingers in the wrong direction with the political blame game and he remains hopeful.

 

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No Payments to Exenerated Prisoners

The state budget situation is causing more problems for individuals that already have had major issues with the state.

 

14 men who have been exonerated of crimes they were said to have committed are waiting on $2.5 million in compensation.

 

The payments were not included in a stop gap spending plan that was approved this summer. Individuals are waiting on between $5,000 and more than $200,000.

 

Now those payments are even more in doubt when the stop gap spending plan expires at the end of the year. 

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Tribune Editorial Board Calls for Ouster of Speaker Madigan

Republicans have tried to turn up the heat on House Speaker Michael Madigan, even hoping to inspire an uprising among House Democrats with the Boss Madigan website. Individual lawmakers are attacked for their support of Madigan on that webpage.

 

Now the Chicago Tribune's editorial board is offering a similar message, calling for Democrats to give Madigan the boot from the leadership post he's held for most of a generation.

 

The Trib board says if Madigan remains in the Speaker's role, the state faces two more years of “dysfunction.” The board holds Madigan largely responsible for the exodus of residents from the state as well as woes for Schools, pensions, the state’s finances and the state's backlog of unpaid bills.

 

The Illinois House will vote for its leaders January 11th. Nine Democrats would have to vote for a different leader to end Madigan's run as speaker.

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Serve Illinois Commission Pushing Volunteerism

THE “SERVE ILLINOIS” COMMISSION IS URGING FAMILIES TO MAKE VOLUNTEERING A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION.

 

THOUSANDS OF COMMUNITIES ARE IN DESPERATE NEED OF VOLUNTEERS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR SAYS SERVE ILLINOIS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SCOTT MCFARLAND. HE SAYS EVEN HELPING OUT AN HOUR AT A TIME HERE AND THERE CAN BE A BIG HELP.

 

 

MCFARLAND SAYS WHEN THEY ASK PEOPLE WHY THEY DON’T VOLUNTEER…THE ANSWER IS THAT THEY EITHER DIDN’T KNOW WHERE TO GO OR THAT NO ONE ASKED THEM TO LEND A HAND. THE AGENCY’S WEBSITE MATCHES POTENTIAL VOLUNTEERS WITH GROUPS NEEDING HELP.

 

 

TO FIND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES NEAR YOU…VISIT THE WEBSITE: SERVE DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV. GROUPS SEEKING VOLUNTEERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO POST THEIR NEEDS ON THE SITE AS WELL.

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State Police Increasing New Year's Enforcement

WITH TRAFFIC FATALITIES ON THE RISE THIS YEAR…THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE AND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ARE HOPING TO KEEP NUMBERS FROM CLIMBING ANY HIGHER OVER THE NEW YEAR’S HOLIDAY.

 

AS OF TUESDAY…ONE THOUSAND 55 PEOPLE HAVE DIED ON ILLINOIS ROADS…SURPASSING LAST YEAR’S TOTAL OF 998 FATALITIES. I-DOT’S SCOTT KRISTIANSEN SAYS THERE ARE A NUMBER OF FACTORS THAT MAY BE CONTRIBUTING TO THE INCREASE.

 

 

ADDITIONALLY…KRISTIANSEN SAYS LESS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN REGULARLY BUCKLING UP THIS YEAR COMPARED TO LAST.

 

 

STATE AND LOCAL POLICE ARE INCREASING PATROLS AND HOLDING ROADSIDE SAFETY CHECKS AND D-U-I- DETAILS THROUGH THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND.

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Sheriff's Office Makes Promotions

DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner's office recently promoted four individuals.
 
Sheriff Jered Shofner indicates deputies Tim Cohenour and Brandon Hardwick were promoted to deputy Sargeant. The Sheriff calls sargeants the 'backbone of the department'. 
 
 
Additionally, Josh McClain and Bryson Barnes were added to the force as deputies. The Sheriff says Nick Hubrick is also being promoted.
 
 
Chief Deputy Rob Spickard swore in the new deputies at the December DeWitt County Board meeting. 

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Former Commander Looking Forward to Son's of the American Legion Return

The return of a program is on the horizon for one local veterans organization in 2017.
 
The Clinton American Legion has been active within the community for many years, and are now looking for younger members for their Son's of the American Legion. Tom Reddington, former commander of the Clinton American Legion, hopes to reestablish the program in Clinton.
 
 
Reddington says they are looking for 20-60 year old men to get the organization going. He indicates they need at least 10 people to reform their squadron, and for an idea of what they will be doing, prospective participants can look at other local Son's of the American Legion.
 
 
Reddington indicates the Son's of the American Legion will be able to do service projects much like American Legion members and will have their own budget. He hopes they will eventually assist with programs like Boys and Girls State and American Legion baseball programs.
 
 
Anyone interested in being a member of the upcoming Son's of the American Legion can contact Tom Reddington at (309) 838-4072 or stop by the American Legion post in Clinton at 219 North Elizabeth Street. 

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New Facilities, Depot Facelift Highlights of 2016 for Lincoln

It was a busy year in 2016 for the community of Lincoln.
 
The Logan County seat continued the long project of renovating the Depot off the square for increased use. Mayor Marti Neitzel says it's exciting to see that project continue on and see the vision take shape.
 
 
The Streets Department was essentially evicted from their facility and the Mayor says the new facility will be state of the art once it is complete in 2017.
 
 
The City of Lincoln recently acquired a vacated school in the community that Mayor Neitzel says is going to be the future home of their police department. She says the department now is cramped in their current location.
 
 
In 2017, Mayor Neitzel is up for re-election and says if re-elected, her focus will be to draft a plan for streets improvements in the community. 

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Focus on Downtown Clinton Paying Off

The rejuvenation of downtown rural America is a challenge communities of every size are trying to solve and Clinton officials believe they are on their way to perhaps resolving.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell indicates this past year was a great year for downtown Clinton, as they welcomed up and coming country performers Lauren Alaina and Tara Thompson, to the downtown square.
 
 
It has been a few years, but a former TIF district in Clinton allowed several businesses to spruce up their storefronts with matching funds from the City of Clinton. Followell says that has been a huge boost to the look of the square.
 
 
Followell anticipates a few more development things happening in and around downtown Clinton in 2017 and says they plan to bring back the free concerts on the square as well. 

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State Climotologist Predicting Cold Winter

The second warmest autumn on record morphed into an arctic blast in December. Get used to it, says Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel.
 
 
As far as 2016, Angel says we can thank late summer rains for keeping lawns, trees, and crops green and lush.
 
 
Angel expects weather throughout the state to be pretty dull between now and the new year. He said Siberia has already experienced a polar vortex this year - and it might be our turn to do the same at some point in January.

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Sheriff Thankful for Thoughts, Prayers After Nearly Fatal Heartattack

After a nearly fatal heart attack earlier this month, DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner is thankful for the thoughts and prayers of support he's received since.
 
The Sheriff, now home resting and recovering, says the public cannot know how much that meant to him.
 
 
The Sheriff started that December 15 with early morning chest pains and ended up in the emergency room, followed by a trip to Champaign.
 
 
The Sheriff says he has begun rehab at Warner Hospital and Health Services and anticipates a full recovery. 
 
He hopes anyone with any sort of discomfort will get themselves checked as it might be a life saving visit to your health care provider. 

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Save A Lot Story of Economic Development Success

The new location of the Clinton Save A Lot is a good example of the struggles and successes of economic development in rural American.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell says Save A Lot owner Dave Jackson had a dream of renovation to his former location off Center Street, which then turned into a vision for a new storefront. Followell indicates in the close to five years of planning, there were several obstacles.
 
 
Some have been critical of the city buying up dilapidated properties and taking them on but Followell points to the former Washington Street buildings that were purchased and that area now the home for a new grocery store.
 
 
Followell recognizes most people who do not believe local government should have a hand in land acquisition and development may not ever change their minds but he points out, the city has several success stories in recent memory.
 
 
Downtown has been the focus of many positive happenings in Clinton in the last several years, continued with the introduction of a pair of up and coming country performers this summer. 
 
Followell says those concerts and more have been a focused effort to rejuvenate downtown Clinton. Tune in tomorrow on Regional Radio News for more. 

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Clinton Schools Agree to Sell Property To City With Land Swap Potential

Clinton Schools along with the City of Clinton will enter into an agreement where the City will purchase a parcel of land from the school district, and that same agreement has the potential for a land swap.
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles indicates the City will purchase the vacant land which housed Webster School.
 
 
Nettles explains, also in the agreement, the City and School could potentially swap ground that is now the FFA test plot. The swap would only happen though, if the city finds a serious developer for the land.
 
 
Nettles feels the agreement is a win-win and points out, if the city were to ever find a developer for the plot, it would be likely the FFA chapter would in fact gain acreage with the new lot. 

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Clinton Chamber Gearing Up For Fast Start to 2017

With 2016 in the books for the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, the local agency is once again planning a trio of events to ring in 2017.
 
January, February and March open each year with an event each month that always brings out a good crowd. Executive Director Marian Brisard says January opens with their annual Chamber Dinner January 28 at the Clinton Country Club. 
 
 
 
February ushers in the annual Ag Banquet the Chamber of Commerce hosts and Brisard says details are still being worked out, but it always brings out a good crowd with a great presentation.
 
 
Once the Ag Banquet wraps up, the Chamber will shift their attention to one of their bigger events, the annual Business Expo. Brisard says the event usually falls the Wednesday of the high school's spring break. 

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Early Out for Blagojevich in Asking Obama

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich is asking the President for a break on his current prison term. 
 
But it’s a little ironic that the he’s asking the guy who’s Senate Seat he was convicted of selling. Blagojevich has a request in to President Obama for a commuted sentence. 
 
That could mean an exit from prison entirely or a reduction in the time that he has left to serve.
 
If Obama doesn’t act – incoming President elect Trump could. The two worked together on the TV show the Apprentice. 

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2016 Highlighted By Exelon Legislation Passage

A positive 2016 in Clinton, Illinois was capped off by the passage of the nuclear power legislation in Illinois.
 
For two plus years, state and local leaders and residents have been watching the Exelon situation closely. Tim Followell says it was so important because of the trickle down impact the company has in the community.
 
 
Followell says even though the tension and uneasiness of Exelon leaving the community is gone, he feels entities cannot take the power plant for granted anymore.
 
 
Followell believes most of the community was legitimately concerned Exelon was going to leave and he says there was a faction of residents that always felt they would stick around and Springfield would come through.
 
He notes though, no matter how you viewed the situation, perspectives are now different throughout the community. 
 
2016 in Clinton was highlighted by the opening a new facility for Clinton's Save A Lot grocery store along with the introduction of the city's sponsored concerts on the square. 
 
Throughout the week on Regional Radio news, hear more from Followell on these big events in Clinton from 2016 and much more.

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Nancy Stokowski Remaining of School Board; Election Next Year

There will be some changes and familiar faces for the Clinton School Board next year.
Curt Nettles, Superintendent of Clinton schools, indicates that Nancy Stokowski was reappointed to the school board at the December meeting.
 
 
There is one contested race for the school board next year. Nettles says the petitions were due last Monday and the board has met with the candidates. 
 
Nettles indicates that both Dan Matthews and Marcia Cooper were both candidates for the board's potential appointment for Nancy Stokowski's seat.

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Richland Clinton Higher Education Center Has A Lot to Offer to Community

The Clinton Community Higher Education Center is not just a satellite location for Richland Community College classes.
 
Allison Shuppara with the Clinton Higher Education Center, indicates that their largest classroom is available to rent for business meetings, with a maximum occupancy of 100 people.
 
 
Rental prices for the rooms are based on hours, with extra rates for nights and weekends. Shuppara reminds community members that the Clinton Higher Education Center offers a GED program as well as non-credit courses.
 
For more information, call the Richland Community Higher Education Center at 935-6791.

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Do Homework Before You Donate

Many people want to make charity donations this time of year because of the season or to get a final shot at a year-end tax break. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants you to do your homework before making any donations. Madigan says before you donate to a new charity put some effort into seeing if the organization is reputable. 
 
 
Another tip is not to give big donations by check or credit card. It allows you to have a receipt of what you gave.
 

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State Job Trends are Modestly Better

Holiday hiring brought out better outcomes for job seekers. The state added jobs across the state. Illinois has 13 metro areas and unemployment dropped in all of them or stayed unchanged. All parts of Illinois are benefiting from hiring and Employment Security’s Bob Gough says growth finally made it to all parts of the state.
 
 
The state’s unemployment numbers still lag national numbers and trends. 

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Unemployment Down Locally in November

Unemployment is down across the area from October to November.

 

The exception to that statement is DeWitt County, where unemployment remained stagnant at 5.1% from October to November. Over the year, unemployment is down almost a full percent.

 

Unemployment in Piatt County dropped only slightly, from 4.5% in October to 4.3% in November.

 

Logan County unemployment came in at 4.8% in November, down from 5.2% in October.

 

November's 5.9% unemployment was down from 6.1% in November in Macon County.

 

McLean County unemployment was 4.5% in November, down from 4.7% in October.

 

Champaign County had a 4.5% unemployment rate for November, down from October's 4.8%.

 

Brown County had the state's lowest unemployment percentage, at 3.2 for November.

 

Pulaski County had an 8.3% November unemployment rate, the state's highest.

 

Statewide unemployment for November was 5.3 percent, lagging the national average of 4.4 percent. 

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Winter Driving Tips

Local authorities want to remind drivers to exercise caution when driving during the winter.

 

DNR conservation police officer John Williamson indicates that anywhere there is a bridge or underpass, the roads are most likely to ice over. Williamson also says to exert caution when driving on blacktop roads due to "black ice."

 

 

Clinton Police chief Ben Lowers urges drivers to carry a safety kit in their vehicles when traveling during the winter season.

 

 

Chief Lowers reminds drivers that winter does occur in Central Illinois, and driving needs to be adjusted to combat the winter driving conditions. Lowers indicates that whenever there is a first snow or freeze, that is when law officials receive the most calls about winter driving accidents.

 

 

Chief Lowers reminds that if you do not have to be out on the roadways during inclement weather, then it is better to stay inside to reduce to the risk of getting stranded. Lowers urges drivers to respect the roadways and respect the weather.

 

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Clinton High School CDL Program Update

The commercial driver's license (CDL) program going to be offered at Clinton High School is now in the final planning stages.

 

Curt Nettles, superintendent of Clinton schools, says that he has met with interested students and Richland Community College and is excited about the class.

 

 

Nettles indicates that Write Stuff for Kids will provide financing for the initial class. Students will have a few out of pocket expenses they will be required to pay for.

 

 

Nettles says that the CDL program is not a regular course and students will have to give up a portion of their personal time in order to take the class.

 

 

Nettles hopes that more people will become interested and involved in the CDL program. He thanks Richland Community College and Write Stuff For Kids for their efforts with the program.
 

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Clinton Schools Adjust Levy Amid Exelon News

Just a few months ago, Clinton school leaders were already preparing for the planned closure of the Exelon Nuclear Power Station in Clinton. With the recent news the plant is going to remain in Clinton for an additional ten years, school leaders are backtracking.
 
Picture Right: Curt Nettles (pictured left) address the Clinton Board of Education.
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles, who was the master of ceremony for the Governor's visit to Clinton, says it was a great day to be a part of and is very pleased things have worked out.
 
 
With the passage and signing of the nuclear energy legislation, the district can now plan on taking in about $200-thousand more. Nettles says that may not seem significant in a $21-million budget, but it is.
 
 
After the scare of Exelon leaving the community, Nettles says that will certainly change his perspective on the future and how the district handles the money received from power plant.
 
 
Clinton High School gym hosted Governor Rauner earlier this month to sign the nuclear legislation bill. 

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Local Lawmaker Outlines 'Down Time'

If you've ever wondered what lawmakers do when they are not in Springfield, a local legislator can verify most downstate lawmakers are still working.
 
State Senator Chapin Rose explains he'll put 40,000 to 45,000 miles on his personal vehicle during periods when lawmakers are not gathered at the capitol. He says he's got a big area to cover and plenty of people to work with.
 
 
With lawmakers moving around the area, there is some activity in Springfield. Sen. Rose explains some lawmakers will continue to meet as a part of working groups.
 
 
Sen. Rose says the attitude of a Chicago lawmaker is vastly different. He says a Chicago lawmaker can make it across their district in less than 20 minutes. Additionally, the news of Chicago is dominated by the local news, but state news falls sometimes unnoticed.
 
 
Sen. Rose points out the perception that most lawmakers are lawyers is actually inaccurate. He says of the 180-some lawmakers, only about 40 are lawyers. 
 
He also notes, much time is spent writing legislation for the upcoming year along with working with individual constituents on amending laws or getting them changed. He also points out, the communication with fellow legislators is almost constant. 

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Specialty Crop Conference Coming to Springfield

On of the biggest, and most diverse, ag conferences of the winter is coming up January 11-13th at the Crown Plaza in Springfield. 
 
IFB’s Jim Fraley says the Specialty Crop, Agritourism and Organic Crops Conference has something for everyone.
 
 
Find out more about the Specialty Crops conference at Specialtygrowers.org. 
 
The dates are January 11 through the 13 in Springfield. You can register online or through your county Farm Bureau. 

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Former State Board of Elections Official Weighs in on Russia

Ron Michaelson knows a thing or two about elections. He was the first Director of the State Board of Elections and held the post for nearly three decades before retiring in 2003. 
 
Hacking has been a concern at his old agency after someone hacked into the state voter database earlier this year. But, Michaelson says talk of more sinister hacking is off base. He doesn't entertain the possibility foreign interests directly impacted results of the Presidential election.
 
 
Michaelson is now a professor at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

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Congressman Davis Weighs in on Trump's Cabinet Selections

Congressman Rodney Davis says concerns about President Elect Donald Trump's cabinet are off base. 
 
Davis says two of the choices stand out as strong choices in his mind.
 
 
There are just a few open spots left on President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet and one of the big remaining questions is whom he will pick for Agriculture secretary. Davis believes there's a great pic among rumored candidates, not only for the post but to help his party's strength in the Senate.
 
 
Fortune Magainze reports other possible candidates include former Texas Ag Commission Susan Combs, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, Nebraska cattleman Charles Herbster, Texas’s current Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, and Idaho Governor Butch Otter.

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Blagojevich Seeks Appeal For Third Time

Just before Christmas, imprisoned former Governor Rod Blagojevich is asking for another appeal. Blago’s lawyers filed it late Tuesday. 
 
The request is to nullify his 14 year prison term along with seeking another sentencing hearing. Blagojevich has already been through one resentencing but Federal Judge James Zagel didn’t alter the number of years that the politician would stay behind bars. 
 
This time his lawyers argue that the ex governors good behavior should be taken into account when considering a new sentence. 

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Pair of Clinton Stores Stung in Alcohol Sales Detail

Illinois State Police conducted surveillance of alcohol sales in Piatt and DeWitt Counties.
 
The Tuesday evening Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement (ACE) surveyed 22 businesses between the two counties to determine which businesses may be selling alcohol to minors. 
 
State police found three non-compliant businesses.
 
In Clinton, Clinton Walmart and Clinton IGA were non-compliant. 
 
Shopko in Monticello was also non-compliant.
 
State Police could not be reached for comment for further detail.
 
The project is funded through the Illinois Department of Transportation. 

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Sprinkler Issue Forces Closure of Part of First National Bank in Clinton

Officials at First National Bank indicate a burst sprinkler in their location of Route 54 in Clinton has forced part of the closure of their facility.
 
The sprinkler burst this morning and officials indicate the walk-up area is open currently. By this afternoon they hope to have the drive-thru and walk-in area back up and operating.
 
Currently the drive-thru and walk-in areas are shut down.

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State Biggest Loser in Population Game

The state has suffered though a fairly rough year – and now the Census Bureau is piling on. 
 
Official numbers show the state lost more people from July 2015 to July 2016 than any other state. More than 37,000 people moved out. 
 
Illinois joins 8 other states that lost population over that time, New York and Pennsylvania are also on the list. 
 
The states that grew include Utah, Nevada and Washington. 

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State Police Increasing Enforcement For Holidays

MORE POLICE ARE OUT ON THE ROADS AS TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS ARE BEEFED UP FOR THE HOLIDAYS. 
 
THE “CLICK IT OR TICKET” AND “DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER” CAMPAIGNS WILL AGAIN TARGET DRIVERS NOT BUCKLED UP OR DRIVING DRUNK. ILLINOIS STATE POLICE CAPTAIN DAVID BYRD SAYS IT’S ALL HANDS ON DECK TO HELP PREVENT TRAFFIC FATALITIES THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR.
 
 
BYRD SAYS THEY ARE BOOSTING MANPOWER FOR ALL SHIFTS.
 
 
ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS INCLUDE ROADSIDE SAFETY CHECKS…SEAT-BELT ENFORCEMENT ZONES AND SPECIAL SPEED AND D-U-I DETAILS.

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Illinois Prison Population Down Since Rauner Took Office

THE NUMBER OF INMATES IN ILLINOIS PRISONS HAS DROPPED BY NINE PERCENT SINCE GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER TOOK OFFICE NEARLY TWO YEARS AGO. 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SET A GOAL OF REDUCING THE PRISON POPULATION BY 25 PERCENT BY THE YEAR 2025. A NICE DENT HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE…WITH 43 THOUSAND 807 INMATES NOW HOUSED BY THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THEY’VE REALLY TRIED TO FOCUS ON REHABILITATING OFFENDERS.
 
 
EFFORTS TO REHABILITATE INMATES INCLUDE MAKING SURE THEY HAVE A STATE I-D CARD AS THEY ARE RELEASED FROM PRISON AND IDENTIFYING OFFENDERS WHO MIGHT BENEFIT MORE FROM SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT THAN SITTING IN JAIL.
 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS THEY WANT TO TREAT THOSE UNDERLYING ISSUES AND ARE ALSO TRYING TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR INMATES TO FIND A JOB ONCE THEY ARE RELEASED.

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Five Retailers Ending 'On-Call' Shifts

ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN’S OFFICE SAYS SIX RETAILERS HAVE PLEDGED TO STOP THE PRACTICE OF ON-CALL SHIFTS FOR EMPLOYEES. 
 
THE CHANGE IS PART OF AN AGREEMENT WITH STORES LIKE CARTER’S, DISNEY AND PAC SUN. ATTORNEY GENERAL SPOKESPERSON EILEEN BOYCE SAYS THE ON-CALL SHIFT POLICY WAS MAKING IT HARD FOR WORKERS TO EARN A STEADY PAYCHECK.
 
 
BOYCE SAYS THEY ARE TALKING TO OTHER RETAILERS ABOUT STOPPING THE USE OF ON-CALL SHIFTS AS WELL.
 
 
THE RETAILERS WHO HAVE AGREED TO STOP USING ON-CALL SHIFTS INCLUDE CARTER’S, DAVID’S TEA, DISNEY AND PAC SUN.

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1700 Children Placed in Homes For Holidays

MORE THAN 17-HUNDRED CHILDREN HAVE BEEN PLACED IN PERMANENT HOMES AS PART OF THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICE’S “HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS” CAMPAIGN. 
 
THE KIDS ARE GOING TO THEIR PARENT…ADOPTIVE PARENT OR GUARDIAN, JUST IN TIME TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS. D-C-F-S SPOKESPERSON VERONICA RESA SAYS THEY ARE THRILLED THAT THEY SURPASSED THEIR GOAL OF ONE THOUSAND CHILDREN THIS YEAR.
 
 
RESA SAYS THEY HAVE BEEN PLACED WITH A PARENT, ADOPTIVE PARENT OR GUARDIAN.
 
 
D-C-F-S CURRENTLY HAS ABOUT 16 THOUSAND KIDS IN THE STATE’S CARE.

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Clinton High School Students To Take Finals After Holiday Break

Clinton High School students will be among several districts that will have their students take finals after the upcoming holiday break.
 
Picture Right: Superintendent Curt Nettles (Left) addresses Board
 
With Wednesday set to be the final day of the semester, a couple of school cancellations due to weather has postponed finals until after the upcoming holiday break. Principal Jerry Wayne says it isn't ideal, but Wednesday's planned school day will be a prep day for students.
 
 
According to Wayne, the second semester of the school year will start January 9, though, he does not know yet how the two days off will effect the end of the school year schedule.
 
 
Other news from the Tuesday night Clinton Board of Education meeting:
 
>>Board member Nancy Stokowski will remain on the Board of Education and serve on an interim basis until the April election.
 
>>The Board approved an adjustment of the 2017 levy thanks to the news the Exelon Nuclear Power Station will remain open.
 
>>The Board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Clinton for land considerations.

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Weather Delays Maroa-Forsyth Finals

Maroa-Forsyth students will have to wait to finish semester finals until after the holiday break thanks to the frigid cold temperatures and ice across the area.
 
Superintendent Mike Williams says it certainly puts the students in a tough spot for the students. He adds they called off school Monday more as a safety precaution, which will force the last day of finals to after the holiday break.
 
 
When deciding whether to cancel school, Williams explains there is a lot that goes into the decision. He notes he will survey rural roads and have discussions with the school leaders in neighboring districts.
 
 
Williams indicates the start of the second semester will be pushed back to Monday, January 9. 
 
He also notes the end of the school year calendar likely will not be approved until March, or even April. He says they could see a lot more weather related cancellations between now and then. 

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Local Youth Project Ready To Forge Ahead

'The Vault' project in Clinton is ready to take the next steps in what project leader Michelle Witzke calls momentum in the community.
 
'The Vault' is a proposed youth center in downtown Clinton, targeted for the former 'Indecent X-posure' location. After a series of community meetings and pledged support from different local leaders, Witzke wants to keep the momentum moving forward.
 
 
Witzke says the goal is to raise enough money to get the building purchased and then work to get the inside renovated.
 
 
A big step forward for the future of the project would be for them to acquire their non-profit and incorporated designations. Witzke anticipates an uptick in support and pledges once they receive those.
 
 
 
Witzke feels the project would be a benefit to the youth of the community and help the community as a whole. She hopes to give youth a safe place to come and bring positive lessons to their lives. 
 
She calls it a big risk but the worst thing to do is nothing and believes it is worth the risk. 

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Local Group Helping Displaced Workers Locally

Providing displaced workers with new job skills while providing them with new job opportunities is the goal of a local non-profit.
 
Workforce Investment Solutions is a non for profit group located in Decatur that seeks to give area employees who may have been laid off or the casualty of a reduction in force, new opportunities. Special Projects Consultant Larry Peterson explains they can provide unemployed or underemployed residents with a number of opportunities.
 
 
Workforce Investment Solutions works closely with a number of employers in the Decatur area and Peterson says along with knowing what employers need, they can help bridge the gap with what some potential employees can offer.
 
 
The training isn't necessarily open to just unemployed or underemployed workers. Peterson encourages anyone to come in and utilize their services.
 
 
Workforce Investment Solutions also offers specific times for training in areas like manufactering, trucking and now healthcare. 
 
To learn more about any of the opportunities offered through Workforce Investment Solutions, contact their Decatur office by calling 217-875-8751. 

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State Representative Pushing For Safer School Buses

State Representative Lou Lang has seen enough. 
 
After watching a number of students lose their lives in a Chatanooga, Tennessee bus crash, he wants to make seat belts on school buses mandatory. 
 
Lang wants new buses to include so called three point seat belts. Six other states have similar requirements. It would cost between 5 and 10 thousand dollars to add the seat belts.

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IDOT Has Road Conditions on Internet

Most of us will be doing some traveling over the next couple of weeks, and with the wintery weather, road conditions can be a concern. 
 
The Illinois Department of Transportation has a website, www.gettingaroundillinois.com, that is updated 24/7 with current road conditions of interstates and major state routes in Illinois. 
 
Brian Williamson of IDOT, says salt and plow truck drivers call in conditions with information that gets quickly posted to the site’s map.
 
 
In addition to weather related road conditions, the site updates traffic delays, repair work and road closures year around.
 
That website again is www.gettingaroundillinois.com and is available on your computer or mobile device. 

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Treasurer Talks Stopgap Budget

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs isn't sugarcoating the potential impact of the end of a stopgap budget cycle New Year's Day. He also says there's plenty of blame to go around.
 
 
Frerichs has a number of concerns including the future of higher education.
 
 
Frerichs recently noted the state missed out on $5.5 million in investment income due to the budget impasse.

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Illinois Electoral College Backs Clinton As Expected

There wasn't much suspense and there were no national ramifications of today's meeting of the Illinois Electoral College. 
 
All 20 electors cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton for president after she won the state vote November 8th. 
 
State law bound the slate of electors, chosen last August, to choose the same winning candidate as voters.

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Icy Weekend Turns Streets, Parking Lots Into Skating Rinks

This weekend's precipitation with ice, snow and below zero temperatures, turned streets, parking lots and driveways, into skating rinks, into Monday morning.

 

Gibson Ace Hardware sold out of salt Monday morning; they sold their last bags of sand as well.

 

That sand is what ended up on the driveway at the Big Red Barn in the above picture Monday morning.   WHOW WEZC staff members had to park in the grass because the concrete parking lot was a glaze of ice.

 

Also as of Monday morning, Save-A-Lot and Clinton IGA still had ice melt.

 

Temperatures are to moderate as the week progresses.

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Likely Repeal of Obama Care Supported By Local Hospital Administrator

The likely repeal of Obama Care is being supported by a local administrator.
 
CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, Paul Skowron says there are certain aspects of Obama Care that need to be fixed and allow more choices for the public and a lesser deductible. 
 
 
Skowron calls the original form of Obama Care an experiment and says now there are identified good parts and bad parts and he hopes the Trump administration will bring out the best of the program.
 
 
For Warner Hospital, Skowron indicates the Obama administration had proposed eliminating critical access hospitals. He says the rural vote for Trump could go a long ways in how he handles critical access hospitals. 
 
 
Skowron indicates patients would be facing deductibles of $1000 to $5000 and the hospital would utilize collection agencies for unpaid bills. He says that is not the type of relationship they want with their patients so getting lower deductibles and more appropriate selections for insurance coverage would go a long ways for everyone. 

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Clinton AmVets To Visit Danville VA Hospital

It's a yearly effort the Veterans of DeWitt County take on, when they go visit their peers at the Danville Veterans Affairs Hospital.
 
Communications Coordinator for the Clinton AmVets Post 14, Darrell Tucker, indicates the post sets aside approximately $1000 yearly to provide funding for veterans of the hospital and their yearly trip is today.
 
 
According to Tucker, the AmVets try to make a couple visits to the VA Hospital and Post Commander, Jesse Owens indicates they have some community backing with this trip as well.
 
 
For Tucker, the visits to the VA hospital in Danville means veterans are taken care of. He calls it an emotional time for him.
 
 
The efforts by the AmVets at the Power Station last week yielded $1400 more for the trip over to the VA Hospital.
 
Additionally, the AmVets will be taking donations for toiletries from the community as well as clothes that were donated. 

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National Weather Service Continues Winter Weather Advisory, Adds Wind Chill Advisory for Weekend

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has continued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Regional Radio listening area, thru 6 o'clock Sunday morning.

They have also issued a Wind Chill Advisory for the listening area, from midnight until noon on Sunday.

As warmer air tries to work northward ahead of an approaching storm system, the Weather Service says precipitation will change to drizzle or light rain along and south of a Danville to Taylorville line Saturday afternoon.

Temperatures will rapidly drop behind the departing system, causing precipitation to change to snow across the entire area by late Saturday afternoon into tonight.

A light accumulation of snow will likely cause continued hazardous driving conditions through Sunday night.

The Weather Service says many area roads and overpasses will be slick tonight into Saturday morning. Motorists are advised to drive with caution and plan on extra time to arrive at their destinations.

Stay tuned to Regional Radio and this web site, for the latest weather information.  You can find the latest cancellations by clicking the "Closings and Cancellation" icon.

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Christmas Break Nears, But Planning For Next Year Now For School Leaders

The Christmas break is right around the corner for Clinton Schools students but administrators and school staff will begin soon preparing for the next school year.
 
Clinton High School Principal Jerry Wayne explains once students return from their Christmas break in early January, he and his staff will begin preparations for the next school year in full force.
 
 
Wayne indicates while student schedule making is the biggest challenge going into a new school year, administrators must also make sure that staff will be able to meet students' needs during the next school year. 
 
 
Wayne says once the puzzle of schedules and everything else gets worked out for the next school year, administrators will begin to focus on work that needs to take place in the building for the summer months. 

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East Peoria Festival of Lights Celebrates 32 Years

Many Illinoisans look forward each holiday season to the annual East Peoria Festival of Lights.
 
Jill Peterson, public relations coordinator for the City of East Peoria, indicates that the festival was created to raise holiday cheer during an economic downtime. Organizers of the original festival did not expect the festival to become what it has become today. 
 
 
Peterson explains that many of the original displays from the first festival are still in use today. Peterson estimates the drive through display has two million lights in it which is divided into themed sections.
 
 
The Festival of Lights made the switched to all LED lights five years ago and Peterson notes the switch has cut the electricity bill down to approximately five thousand dollars.
 
 
Peterson explains visitors have two routes to get to the Festival of Lights. Depending on which day, the festival prefers one route over the other.
 
 
For more information on the Festival of Lights go to www.folepi.org, the East Peoria Festival of Lights facebook page. Admission is $10 per vehicle.
 
You can view the Festival of Lights until December 31. 

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Illinois Unemployment Steady

THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HELD STEADY AT FIVE POINT SIX PERCENT LAST MONTH. 
 
NOVEMBER WAS PRETTY STAGNANT SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH (goff). HE SAYS JUST 17-HUNDRED JOBS WERE ADDED.
 
 
GOUGH SAYS GROWTH IS MOSTLY IN THE PROFESSIONAL BUSINESSES SECTOR AND THAT MANUFACTURING JOBS ARE STILL DOWN. 
 
 
THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR NOVEMBER CAME IN AT FOUR POINT SIX PERCENT.

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New FDA Rules on Antibiotic Use in Livestock Feed

Livestock producers should be aware that the FDA’s new Veterinary Feed Directive rule kicks in January first. In order to get better control of the use of antibiotics in livestock, the FDA will require a prescription, or Veterinarian Feed Directive, for a producer to obtain and add antibiotics to livestock feed.
 
Dr Bob Ebbesmeyer, from Stephenson County, is incoming president of the Il State Veterinary Medical Assoc.
 
 
In order to obtain that prescription from a Veterinarian, a livestock producer must have a ‘working relationship’ with the vet. The new rules will be hard to avoid. Dr Ebbesmeyer says the FDA will likely enforce the new rules vigorously.
 
 
For more on the new Veterinary Feed Directive rules, contact your veterinarian and make sure you have a working relationship with your vet.

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Fewer Students To Get MAP Gratns in New Year

Colleges and university leaders are facing a familiar issue. 
 
They are again deciding whether they can provide state grant money up front to low-income students while the state shows no sign of having a budget anytime soon. 
 
An Illinois Student Assistance Commission survey of 96 Illinois schools indicates some cash strapped schools that covered grants in the fall won't be able to duplicate that feat in the spring semester. 
 
The number of schools that will guarantee money this spring will fall from 60 percent for the fall semester to 53 percent.

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Rauner Says Property Tax Freeze About Giving Voters Control

For anyone who follows Illinois dysfunctional political saga, they likely know where the battle lines are drawn in budget talks between Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan. 
 
In recent weeks, Rauner has maintained he won't consider a stopgap budget unless lawmakers agree to term limits and property tax freeze legislation. Rauner says the tax freeze legislation is all about shifting power to voters.
 
 
Madigan has rejected Rauner’s reforms and says the Governor and legislative leaders need to work exclusively on a budget. 

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Warner Hospital CEO Discusses Exelon Impact

The ripple effect of the Exelon Nuclear Power Station remaining a part of the community is providing excitement beyond local governments, non-profits and retailers, but now health care officials are weighing in on what the plant's employees mean to them.
 
Warner Hospital and Health Services CEO Paul Skowron says the power station and it's hundreds of employees remaining in the community means there is will continue to be patients for the facility, but also patients with good insurance coverage.
 
 
Skowron also notes, Exelon has been a great partner in many areas the hospital has a hand in in the community like the drug coalition. He feels they are a terrific partner to this community in numerous aspects.
 
 
Skowron says he was most concerned about the projections of the hospital in the long term more than the short term, in the event the power station was to leave the community. He calls the future more secure. 

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Caterpillar Announces More Layoffs

One of the state’s premier companies is announcing layoffs just a week before Christmas. 
 
Caterpillar in Peoria will be making an undisclosed number of layoffs across the company. In a statement the company says that displaced employees will try to move workers into open positions in the company. 
 
The layoffs seem to build on extensive cost cutting plans that started in 2015 with the elimination of 10,000 positions; the company added even more cuts in 2016 and now finishes the year increasing them again. 
 
The heavy equipment builder blames a slowing world economy on cuts. 

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Cold Weather Should Be Catalyst for Increase in Water Fowl Hunting

While most people are going to be trying to find ways to stay inside for the upcoming cold weather, local natural resource officials say this could be an increase in activity for them.
 
Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officer John Williamson indicates the cold and snow up north will start to drive some of the water fowl down to central Illinois, giving hunters plenty of opportunity.
 
 
Williamson says most hunters don't need the reminder to dress for the weather but has come across hunters who dress for the weather but then it quickly changes and they aren't prepared for that change.
 
 
Williamson says around Clinton lake, most all water fowl hunting is done on the lake because of the warm water thanks to the Clinton Power Plant. He says a good day for water fowl on the lake will yield 20 to 30 boats with almost 30 to 40 others in fields and areas surrounding the lake. 

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IDOT Testing Drones

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS TESTING DRONE TECHNOLOGY FOR SEVERAL USES AND TO IMPROVE SAFETY. 
 
I-DOT PURCHASED TWO DRONES TO EXPLORE NEW WAYS OF MANAGING THE STATE’S TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE SAYS SECRETARY RANDY BLANKENHORN.
 
 
BLANKENHORN SAYS THEY WOULD ALSO LIKE TO USE THE DRONES TO HELP WORKERS AVOID GETTING TOO CLOSE TO TRAFFIC. THE DRONES HAVE A HI-TECH CAMERA THAT IS CAPABLE OF LIVE STREAMING AND I-DOT EXPECTS TO PURCHASE MORE IN THE FUTURE.
 
 
BLANKENHORN ADDS THEY WILL CONTINUE TO EXPLORE WHAT THE DRONES CAN DO AND PROBABLY PURCHASE MORE IN THE FUTURE.

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DOC Training To Better Deal With Mental Illnesses

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS IS TRAINING STAFF TO BETTER DEAL WITH MENTALLY ILL INMATES.
 
ACCORDING TO THE DEPARTMENT, ABOUT 27 PERCENT OF INMATES ARE ON THEIR MENTAL HEALTH CASELOAD…BUT MANY MORE JUST HAVEN’T BEEN DIAGNOSED. SO FAR THIS YEAR…13 THOUSAND CORRECTIONS STAFF HAVE GONE THROUGH A TWO DAY SESSION ON MENTAL ILLNESS, WHICH GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS WILL HELP GUARDS BETTER COMMUNICATE WITH PRISONERS AND RECOGNIZE THE SYMPTOMS.
 
 
STAFF WILL BE LEARNING ABOUT CONDITIONS SUCH AS BI-POLAR DISORDER, THE EFFECTS OF PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATIONS AND TIPS FOR BETTER COMMUNICATING WITH INMATES.
 
 
IT’S ESTIMATED NATIONALLY…THAT 78 PERCENT OF ATTACKS ON CORRECTIONS STAFF ARE COMMITTED BY INMATES WITH BEHAVIORAL HEALTH OR MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS.

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DeWitt County Sheriff Sheds Light Into Law Enforcement Hiring Process

Under the microscope of the public eye and continued scrutiny of nearly every move, law enforcement officials across the country face tons of pressure, more than perhaps ever before.
 
While sometimes the narrative that law enforcement officers and officials need more and better training, one local officials says the training and education of today's police is advanced as it has ever been. DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner indicates today's police officer is well educated and well trained.
 
 
According to the Sheriff, the process itself of selecting an officer to interview and hire is very strenuous for those applicants.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner calls the process in depth and says is about a calendar year before they are on the streets by themselves.
 
 
 
The Sheriff says that applicants must undergo many physical and mental tests before they can move on with the training process.
 
 
After the tests, the candidates then move on to a background test, a psychological examination, and another physical test all before they are sworn in.
 
 
The police recruits are then sent to a 12 week police academy and have a twelve week ride along training program with another officer before they spend a day alone on the streets of the community. 

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Cerro Gordo Schools Analyzing Future of Facilities

The future of the facilities for Cerro Gordo schools will be the topic of discussion at a community forum tonight.
 
Superintendent Brett Robinson says the process of analyzing the current state of the facilities and looking to the future started not long ago. He explains their facilities do have some age on them but they also have potential.
 
 
Over the year's the district has added some features and Robinson says the goal of the planning is bringing everything together for security and convenience.
 
 
When discussing the issue of older buildings, Cerro Gordo schools are also considering how to incorporate 21st century learning opportunities into the district. Robinson says that will also be component of the planning.
 
 
The one-cent sales tax dollars from Piatt and Macon Counties will be a huge resource for this project. Robinson says those funds will likely have to be paired with a tax proposal of some sort.
 
 
Tonight, the district invites the community out for a presentational meeting for feedback. That is tonight from 6 pm to 8 pm at the junior high school gymnasium. 

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Congressman Davis Says Efforts To Repeal, Replace Obamacare Moving Forward

Congressman Rodney Davis says efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are moving forward. Davis says coming up with a streamlined, unified plan is the key.
 
 
Davis says some aspects of Obamacare could be salvaged like protection for pre-existing conditions and a ban on yearly or lifetime dollar limits.

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Illinois Land Sale Brings In Over $50-Million

More than 85-hundred acres of land in northwest Illinois sold Monday for a little over $55-million dollars. 
 
The late Maurice Wilder owned the land, and the sale drew so much attention it took place at Western Illinois University in Macomb. R-D Schrader coordinated the sale;
 
 
Schrader, who runs his auction company out of Indiana, said they had 64 bidders. That dropped to just a few that wanted all of the land up for sale in Fulton and Mercer counties. The final sale went to an undisclosed buyer.
 
 
The large tracts of Illinois land brought about $65-hundred dollars an acre. 

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Former Congressman Schock Pleads Not Guilty

Former Congressman Aaron Schock enters a not guilty plea in his federal corruption case in Springfield. 
 
He faces a 24 count indictment claiming he misused government and campaign funds for personal use. 
 
U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough set a trial date for February 7th but that could be pushed back.

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Winter Weather Expected To Be Variable

After a very mild month of November, December is turning out to be a little more wintery. Dan Hicks of Freese/Notis weather says the cold will hang around for a week or so.
 
 
After nearly a year where every month has brought above normal temperatures, December could end up at or below normal, but that doesn’t mean we are in for an overall cold winter.
 
 
Dan Hicks of Freese/Notis weather.

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CHS Names 2016-17 Wall of Honor Inductee

The 2016-17 Wall of Honor Inductee at Clinton High School is Ginny Carter.
 
Principal Jerry Wayne indicates the selection committee chose Carter this year as their process wrapped up and says Carter has done so much for the school, the students and the community.
 
 
Wayne says Carter takes on numerous roles within the school and works with the Clinton Area Youth Initiative as well as 'Project Grad' each year around graduation time. 
 
 
Wayne says this was the first time Carter was considered and indicates the committee, which is closed, felt Carter represented the exceptional things Clinton High School graduates have done.
 
 
This year's Wall of Honor Ceremony will take place January 20th at 6 pm at Clinton High School with a special ceremony to take place prior to the boys basketball game against Tuscola. 

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Frigid Cold Temparatures Coming to Central Illinois

The coldest series of days this winter season are on their way for later this week.
 
DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency Director, Teresa Barnett, explains the cold weather should arrive Wednesday and last to Friday. 
 
 
Barnett says it's best practice for residents to take extra precautions, especially if you work outside. She says when traveling, be sure to have some water, food and extra clothes or a blanket in the vehicle in the event you get stuck.
 
 
Wind chills at times during the overnight and early morning hours are predicted for below zero at times. Barnett says make sure anyone outside is dressed warm.
 
 
By the weekend, temperatures are expected to reach 40-degrees again. Barnett says everyone needs to continue to be in tune with the weather forecast as the cold weather season is certainly upon us.

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Instant Lotter Prizes Not So Instant

If you thought there was a lack of grand prize winners in Illinois Lottery instant games in recent years, you may be on to something. 
 
A Chicago Tribune report shows the lottery collected hundreds of millions of dollars in instant ticket sales from 2011 to 2015, but 23 grand prizes were never awarded. 
 
During the four year period, Northstar Lottery Group was managing the lottery.

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Rauner Working Through Clemency Backlog

The Governor is plowing through clemency requests that he inherited from past administrations. 
 
Bruce Rauner has now eliminated more than 2,000 requests but he’s less lenient than Pat Quinn was. Rauner’s review of 2,300 applications since 2015 have resulted in a pardon about 3 percent of the time and he’s granted three commutations. 
 
Previously Governor Pat Quinn acted on more than 4,000 cases and Quinn granted pardons more than 25 percent of the time. 
 
A pardon will can be sought after a person has finished serving a sentence and with a granted pardon the offender can go to court to have a conviction removed from a criminal record. 
 
A commutation will reduce or eliminate a current prison sentence. 

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UPDATED: Clinton Police Investigating Monday Drive-By Shooting in Clinton

The Clinton Police Department is investigating a drive-by shooting from late Monday night near downtown Clinton.
 
At approximately 8:15 pm Monday, authorities were called to the 400th block of South Center Street in Clinton for a report of shots fired.
 
Investigation by the police indicate four to six shots were fired from a semi-automatic handgun at intended victims standing outside.
 
No one was injured in the incident.
 
Police indicate they are seeking the whereabouts of 21-year old Shannon N. Shephard and 25-year old Michael A. Herald.
 
Police also indicate the vehicle was a maroon passenger car with dark tinted windows and a loud muffler. 
 
Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact authorities at 217-935-9441 or Clinton Crimestoppers at 217-935-3333.
 
Crimestoppers phone line does not utilize caller identification and Crimestoppers does not want your name, just your information. 
 
The DeWitt County Sheriff's Department and Illinois State Police Crime Scene Unit are assisting in the investigation. 
 
UPDATED AT 9:45 AM:
 
Early Tuesday morning, Clinton Police arrested 25-year old Michael A. Herald on an aggrevated discharge of a firearm and attempted first degree murder. 
 
A second person of interest was taken into custody and released without charges.
 
Herald along with 21-year old Shannon N. Shephard were sought for firing a semi-automatic handgun near bystandards in the 400th block of South Center Street in Clinton at approximately 8:15 pm.
 
The investigation is ongoing. 

 

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CCEF Provides Funding for Dual Credit Classes

The Clinton school district has a unique circumstance when it comes to providing dual credit classes to students
 
Eileen Carter from the Clinton Community Educational Foundation (CCEF), indicates the dual credit classes offered through Richland Community College to Clinton high school students are the only school in the area that has a foundation cover the tuition.
 
 
The CCEF is in its second year of funding dual credit classes. Carter explains the foundation has had excellent student participation in the dual credit classes, due to the funding provided by the foundation.
 
 
Many of the students enrolled in dual credit classes are enrolled in all of the course offerings. The students graduate from high school with twelve college credit hours. Carter explains the foundation's endowments are where the funding for dual credit classes come from.
 
 
Students interested in dual credit classes can sign up for them when they sign up for their senior year courses. Students must pass the Richland entrance exam or receive a certain score on the ACT in order to be enrolled in the courses.

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Monticello Brewery Coming in 2017

Monticello is getting a new business after the new year. 
 
Monarch Brewing Company is remodeling, what used to be, the Methodist church on Independence Street just off the East side of the square. Matt Miller and his partner Rob Whitt, are currently in the process of converting the 2nd floor of the church to accommodate a full bar, live entertainment and even an eventual lunch and dinner crowd. Miller says the church holds an ambiance that you cannot find in a brand new or differnet type of building.
 
 
Miller, a Teutopolis native chose the name of the brewery based on something significant to the state of Illinois. 
 
 
Miller and Whitt both have experience in home brewing that they will use to bring a new taste and take on craft beer to the area.
 
 
Monarch Brewing Company is targeting late February of 2017 for their grand opening. 

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Keep Those Christmas Trees Watered

Christmas trees are still being sold and a number of real ones are already in homes. Now you want to keep that tree in as good of condition as you can for as long as possible. 
 
Illinois Extension Service Horticulturist Ron Wolford says once it’s in your home keep it simple – plain water with no other additives in the tree stand.
 
 
Check the water level often and keep it above the bottom of the trunk to avoid a sap seal developing on the bottom that will make it harder for the tree to take up water.
 
If you still need to buy one give it a shake and see how many needles fall off and if you want the freshest tree go to a tree farm and cut your down. 

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Check Road Conditions Before You Travel

WITH SOME POTENTIAL BAD WEATHER IN THE FORECAST THIS WEEKEND…THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS REMINDING MOTORISTS TO CHECK ROAD CONDITIONS BEFORE THEY TRAVEL. 
 
I-DOT’S “GETTING AROUND ILLINOIS” WEBSITE HAS UP TO DATE INFORMATION ON WHETHER THE ROADS ARE CLEAR…OR COVERED IN ICE AND SNOW SAYS SPOKESPERSON BRIAN WILLIAMSEN.
 
 
THE WINTER ROAD CONDITION WEBSITE IS AT: GETTING AROUND ILLINOIS DOT COM.

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Christmas and Dieting Tips

Being health conscious during the holidays can be a challenge and local health experts are hoping a few tips can help you maintain a healthy diet during this time of the year.
 
Caitlin Huth is a Health and Wellness Educator with the University of Illinois Extension office. She explains when attending parties or family gatherings, sometimes bringing a dish you'll enjoy can be a good way to keep a healthy mix in your meals.
 
 
When meal planning, Huth says incorporating fruits and vegetables into appetizers can be a way to draw the health-conscious eater in your family or circle of friends.
 
 
If you are stuck and need ideas for you holiday party, Huth explains the U of I Extension has started some video blogs at their website for tips and recipes on healthy holiday eating.
 
 
To find the video blogs and other helpful holiday dieting tips, just do a simple Google search for "University of Illinois Extension" and find the DeWitt, Macon and Piatt County page.

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Local Youth Athletes Teaming Up To Benefit Community Groups

Basketball and non-profit organizations will be the theme of an event next week for area youth.
 
The fourth through sixth boys and girls travel basketball squads will be playing basketball, and proceeds from the game will go towards the DeWitt County Angel Tree. Sherry Young indicates food donations can be brought and those will go to the First Christian Church food pantry for the event December 17.
 
 
Young explains each age group's boys will take on the same age group's girls squads. 
 
 
Next week's event starts at 6 pm at Clinton Junior High School. 

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What Happens if No Budget is Passed By End of the Month

On New Year's Eve, Illinois leaders could drop the ball in a way far different than the folks at Times Square in New York. 
 
The stopgap budget runs out December 31st and Governor Bruce Rauner had few answers with what happens come New Years Day if no deal is reached.
 
 
This week, Rauner announced he would not take part in further meetings with legislative leaders until Democrats produced a budget proposal.
 

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Federal Infrastructure Plan Would Be Boost for Illinois

The incoming Trump administration campaigned on a major infrastructure program that would include funding for roads, bridges, waterways, rail, airports and more. 
 
Don Schaefer, Exec VP of the Midwest Truckers Assocation says gridlock in congress has prevented a lot of infrastructure work and is hopeful that we will finally see a major bill passed.
 
 
A trillion dollars over ten years could provide a huge boost to spending in Illinois.
 
An infrastructure program would boost the economy with immediate job creation for construction, and the benefits of improved and expanded road, rail, water and air transportation would have big economic benefits for decades. 
 
The big question yet to be answered is the mechanism to raise the funds for infrastructure. 

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Attorney General Warns of Latest Scam Trends

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN AND THE I-R-S ARE WARNING CONSUMERS ABOUT PHONE AND TAX SCAMS THAT ARE CURRENTLY CIRCULATING. 
 
ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN SAYS THE I-R-S PHONE SCAM IS BECOMING MORE PREVALENT. THAT’S WHERE A CON ARTIST TRIES TO GET YOU TO REVEAL PRIVATE INFORMATION BY SAYING YOU OWN MONEY OR ARE DUE A REFUND FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
 
 
ADDITIONALLY…THE I-R-S HAS SEEN CASES WHERE YOU’RE SENT A FAKE TAX BILL VIA EMAIL OR LETTER SAYING YOU OWE MONEY RELATED TO THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.
 
 
THE I-R-S IS ALSO WARNING ABOUT FAKE TAX BILLS BEING SENT,  LIKE EMAILS SENT TO HUMAN RESOURCE OFFICERS SEEKING PERSONAL EMPLOYEE INFORMATION.

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Weekly Weather Summary

December starting to feel more seasonable. State Climotologist Jim Angel has a look back at this past week and what we can expect this upcoming week.

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USDA Rural Development in Illinois Will See New Leader

With a new administration coming to Washington next month, Colleen Callahan will be ending her term as head of Illinois Rural Development for USDA. Callahan says since 2009, USDA rural development has provided nearly five billion dollars in needed infrastructure capital to rural Illinois. 
 
 
The money isn’t just government money flowing in, but mainly low interest loans and loan guarantees that helps rural communities raise capital for projects they could not otherwise afford, like water and sewage plants, broadband internet, medical facilities, affordable housing and a host of other projects that low interest guaranteed loans make affordable.
 
 
Lincoln realized the economic importance of rural America and created USDA and established land grant colleges to help promote economic development, a program that continues today.

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Durbin Salutes Biden

Senator Dick Durbin saluted his former Senate Colleague, Vice President Joe Biden on Capitol Hill Thursday. 
 
Durbin recalled telling then Presidential candidate Barack Obama of the virtues of Biden.
 
 
Durbin noted a number of Biden's legislative achievements before becoming a part of the Presidential ticket, including the impact of Biden's Violent Against Women act, which he credits with cutting violence against intimate partners by 67 percent between 1993 and 2010.

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AFSCME Wins in Court

St. Clair County judge Robert LeChien issues a temporary order blocking the Rauner Administration from imposing contract terms on state workers represented by AFSCME. 
 
Judge LeChien also ordered that any contract provisions that had been recently implemented should be rescinded. LeChien weighed in after the Illinois Labor Relations Board issued a written ruling that talks between Governor Rauner and the union reached an impasse. 
 
AFSCME has filed a "petition for review" of the labor board decision with a Cook County based appeals court.

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DeWitt County Angel Tree Wraps Up 2016 Season

The DeWitt County Angel Tree today, will disperse the hundreds of gifts that have come in for the 2016 holiday season, culminating in another year for the local non-profit.
 
Director Sue Calvert says the operation, which originates at the Clinton Elks Club, will give the parents of youth in this year's Angel Tree program, time to pick up their gifts throughout the day today. Calvert notes the program had over 400 youth on their list again this year.
 
 
According to Calvert, the community has always been very supportive of the Angel Tree program and making sure youth have gifts they will enjoy.
 
 
For Calvert, she is very thankful for the support of the community throughout the many years of the program. What always impresses her is children that were a part of the program as youth, come back and give back as adults.
 
 
Earlier this week, Angel Tree and the Clinton Police Department and DeWitt County Sheriff's Department teamed up for the annual Shop With a Cop. Later this month, Angel Tree will partner with the Clinton Fire Department for Shop with a Fireman. Both events are funded through a grant through the Walmart Foundation. 

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Social Security Website A Great Tool For Retirees

With the first of the year approaching, many people in consideration for retirement need to pay a visit to their local Social Security office.
 
Jack Myers with Social Security has many tips for people deciding to file for Social Security. Myers indicates you can file for Social Security online and avoid the long lines.
 
 
Myers reminds that individuals can file for retirement, your spouse's retirement, Medicare, and disability benefits and use the retirement calculator on the Social Security website. You can also appeal for disability denial online.
 
 
Social Security offers financial assistance to those who cannot afford their prescription drugs. Myers says applying for extra help with the costs associated with the Medicare Prescription Drug Program can be done online.
 
 
Myers contends that everyone should visit Social Security online to create a my Social Security account. My Social Security can be a great resource for those who are doing short or long term financial planning.
 
 
According to Myers, the My Social Security feature is continuing to evolve. He says it will soon allow you to replace social security cards or replacement medicare cards. 
 
 
For more information or to create a my Social Security account visit Social Security online at www.socialsecurity.gov, or call toll free at 1(800) 772-1213.

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Tips For Choosing a Christmas Tree

IF YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE YET…A HORTICULTURE SPECIALIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION HAS SOME TIPS TO HELP WITH YOUR SELECTION PROCESS.
 
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO FIND A FRESH TREE. THE ONES SOLD ON RETAIL LOTS MAY HAVE BEEN CUT WEEKS AGO SO IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO ASK WHEN THEY WERE DELIVERED. THE EXTENSION’S RON WOLFORD SAYS YOUR BEST BET IS GETTING ONE CUT FRESH AT A CHRISTMAS TREE FARM. WHICHEVER ROUTE YOU GO, HE SAYS YOU SHOULD TEST THE TREE FOR FRESHNESS.
 
 
IF THE TREE IS ALREADY CUT…YOU CAN ALSO TAP THE STUMP ON THE GROUND TO SEE IF A BUNCH OF NEEDLES FALL OUT. HE ALSO RECOMMENDS MAKING SURE YOUR TREE STAND WILL FIT THE TREE BEFORE BRINGING IT INTO THE HOUSE.
 
 
WOLFORD SAYS IF YOU BUY YOUR TREE FROM A RETAIL LOT…YOU SHOULD ASK THE STAFF HOW OFTEN THEY GET DELIVERIES, SINCE SOME OF THOSE TREES MAY HAVE ALREADY BEEN SITTING THERE FOR WEEKS.

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Deer Hunters Harvest Over 79-Thousand

ILLINOIS HUNTERS HARVESTED MORE THAN 79 THOUSAND DEER DURING THE FIREARM DEER SEASON.
 
HUNTERS TOOK OVER 54 THOUSAND DURING THE FIRST WEEKEND OF THE FIREARM SEASON…AND THEN ANOTHER 25 THOUSAND LAST WEEKEND SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON TIM SCHWEIZER.
 
 
SCHWEIZER SAYS THEIR WILDLIFE EXPERTS LOOK OVER THE NUMBERS EACH YEAR TO SEE IF ANY TWEAKS NEED TO BE MADE IN THE NUMBER OF PERMITS THEY ISSUE OR IF THEY SHOULD TAKE COUNTIES OF THE LATE WINTER HUNT. 
 
 
UPCOMING DEER HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES INCLUDE THIS WEEKEND’S MUZZLELOADER-ONLY SEASON.

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Schock Case Staying Put

Former Congressman Aaron Schock's corruption trial is staying put in the Capital City. 
 
US District Judge Sue Myerscough rejected Schock's request to move his trial to his hometown of Peoria. Myerscough noted strong local vote totals for Schock in 2012 and 2014 in counties served by the Springfield federal court district. 
 
She believes that shows the area has no bias against the former GOP rising star. 

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Local Leaders, Lawmakers Ecstatic Over Legislation Signing Wednesday

Local leaders and lawmakers in attendance of Wednesday ceremony for the signing of the nuclear energy legislation in Illinois were ecstatic.
 
 
For lawmakers, they are happy for the DeWitt County community and for local leaders, they are relieved the Exelon Nuclear Power Station will remain a part of the community for another ten years.
 
Communications Manager at the Clinton Power Staiton, Brett Nauman, calls it a great day for DeWitt County and was very pleased with the turnout of the community.
 
 
Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, Marian Brisard calls this the best day for DeWitt County. She says this is the start of the work ahead to continue bring jobs to DeWitt County.
 
 
DeWitt County Board Chair said the ceremony was awesome. He calls it a start of a new future.
 
 
State Sen. Chapin Rose (above) says the bills passage has everything to do with the local leaders and citizens spurring this on and the Governor stepping in to get it to the finish line.
 
 
Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles (above) says the Governor stepped up and kept his word in a meeting several months ago where he told local leaders he was committed to keeping the power plant open and the jobs in the community.
 
 
 
Wednesday's ceremony marked the culmination of almost two years of work in getting the legislation passed and was attended by several hundred community members, leaders, Clinton High School students and Exelon employees. 

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Nuclear Energy Legislation Signed Into Law in Clinton

The community showed up in full support of legislation that will allow the Exelon Nuclear Power Station in Clinton to remain open and viable.
 
Over a half-dozen speakers addressed a crowd of several hundred made up of community members and Exelon employees and officials. Exelon CEO Chris Crane (right) says the issues for the company started a couple years ago and calls it landmark legislation.
 
 
Vice President of Clinton Power Station, Ted Stoner (bottom right), says it was amazing to watch the General Assembly work to get the legislation passed. He thanks Representative Bill Mitchell and Senator Chapin Rose for their leadership in getting the bill through.
 
 
Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council, Jen Walling says the bill is not what some have called a bailout. She calls it the most significant piece of climate and energy policy in the State's history. 
 
 
Governor Bruce Rauner says this bill received mass opposition but they were able to get it passed. He says it was about protecting good paying jobs in the state of Illinois.
 
 
The Governor also adds, this bill will allow businesses to grow and thrive in Illinois, something his administration is committed to.
 
 
The Citizens Utility Board spoke in favor of the legislation along with lawmakers Jim Durkin, Chapin Rose, Bill Mitchell and Bob Rita.
 

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Newberg Reappointed County Board Chair, New Members Sworn In

The DeWitt County Board re-organized earlier this week following the November election.
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg was re-appointed the Board's leader and Vice-Chair Camille Redman keeps her post as well. Newberg says they also swore in three new members.
 
 
Newberg indicates at the reorganization meeting, they made committee assignments. He calls this a very experienced board.
 
 
Newberg notes the Board also approved a resolution to begin County Board meetings at 6 pm rather than 7 pm. He indicates this will allow County employees already in the building a little more flexibility with their meeting nights.

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DCDC Still in Fundraising Mode

A local organization aimed at community development has until the end of the month to rally enough support to get a grant through State Farm.
 
David Torbert with the DeWitt County Development Council indicates their efforts to raise $25-thousand, which would be matched by State Farm, are still ongoing and they are just a few thousand dollars short of their goal.
 
 
As leaders of the DCDC get out into the community rallying support, Torbert says the big theme they hear is they want to see results from the DCDC. 
 
 
For Torbert, he and others within DCDC envision the organization working alongside businesses in the community to help meet their needs.
 
 
Torbert indicates the deadline to meet the $25-thousand challenge through State Farm is the end of the month. He hopes business owners that might be interested in participating in the challenge and becoming involved in DCDC further will visit their website, www.dcdc-illinois.org. 

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Lincoln High School Schools Leader Pleased With Annual Report Card

Lincoln High School's school leaders are analyzing the annual school report card data and overall are pleased.
 
Superintendent Robert Bagby says data analysis can often times tell any story someone wants but is pleased with some of findings in this year's report. He says the school's ACT scores stand out to him.
 
 
Bagby indicates he'd like to see an improvement in the daily attendance. He explains it is low in comparison to the state average and cannot pinpoint a reason for it.
 
 
He also indicates the school's graduation rate is low but he points out, that doesn't take into account the alternative education program they've created within the school has allowed students recover credits and still graduate.
 
 
Bagby says the comparisons between schools is something he doesn't put a lot of stock in. He explains his perspective is he knows how hard the teachers and students work each day and he's pleased with the education at Lincoln High School. 

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Farmers Feeling More Confident About Farm Economy

Each month Purdue University, in cooperation with the CME group, issues the Ag Barometer. It’s a little like the government’s survey of consumer confidence, but the barometer surveys farmers views of the ag economy.
 
Jim Mintert, Ag Economist at Purdue, compiles the survey data each month, and says the November report, issued this week, shows a sharp uptick in farmer economic confidence in November
 
 
The November election of Donald Trump may have encouraged hopes for tax and regulatory reform, as well as concern over trade relationships, says Mintert, but the real driver of the rise in confidence was due to stronger commodity prices and record or near record yields.
 
 
To read the full Ag Barometer report, google Purdue Ag Barometer.

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Selective Service System Looking To Fill Local Boards

The Selective Service System needs a little help. While there are no signs of a military draft on the horizon, they not only need to have potential military candidates on file, but they also need volunteers who serve on what could become local draft boards. 
 
Tony Libri (Lee-Bree) with the Illinois Selective Service program says there's no shortage of openings.
 
 
If anyone is interested in serving on their local Selective Service Board, call Libri at 217-836-7669.

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Governor To Sign Exelon Legislation at Clinton High School Today

The community is welcome out to Clinton High School today to watch the Governor of Illinois sign legislation that will be 'monumental' for the DeWitt County community.
 
A special ceremony this afternoon is scheduled for 2 pm at Clinton High School.
The Governor's arrival will be welcomed by Exelon employees and the Clinton High School band performing. 
 
Speakers at today's rally in the gymnasium of Clinton High School will include Clinton High School student Kevin Toohill, Dave Kolata of the Citizens Utility Board, Vice President of Exelon's Clinton Site, Ted Stoner, as well as Representative Bill Mitchell, State Senator Chapin Rose and other legislators. 
 
Also speaking will be Chris Crane, CEO of Exelon and Governor Bruce Rauner will speak last followed by the signing of the legislation. 
 
Officials at Clinton High School indicate admittance to the ceremony will not begin until 1:30 pm this afternoon and all attendees are asked to use the High School's main entrance on the north side of the building.
 
That is contrary to a report yesterday from officials with the City of Clinton. 
 
Those attending today are asked to park at the Clintonia Eagle Theater parking lot, and will escorted across Route 54 by police. 
 
Others can also park at the First Christian Church parking lot in downtown Clinton and will be shuttled to the high school. 
 
Hear today's ceremony on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com starting just after 2 pm. 

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Last Day For Medicare Open Enrollment

Time is quickly running out for seniors to review their coverage or enroll in Medicare for the open enrollment period. 
 
DeWitt County seniors are encouraged to visit Rebecca Wheat at the DeWitt County Friendship Center if they have not already. Executive Director of the Friendship Center, Sissy Leggett says Wednesday marks the end of the open enrollment period.
 
 
Leggett also reminds seniors, this is the time of year when they can become a huge target for scams because of the holidays and the open enrollment period. She hopes seniors will be very cautious when taking phone calls or emails.
 
 
The DeWitt County Sheriff's Fraud Prevention Hotline number is 217-935-7867. 
 
To contact the Friendship Center, call 217-935-9411.
 
The open enrollment period ends Wednesday. 

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Rauner Draws Line on State Budget

Governor Bruce Rauner addressed Illinois farmers Monday, saying he will not agree to any proposed state budget without property tax relief and term limits for state lawmakers. The chief executive addressed members of the Illinois Farm Bureau meeting in Chicago;
 
 
Rauner says Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan won’t meet regularly to solve the budget stalemate and just wants to raise the Illinois income tax rate to five percent as a solution;
 
 
The Governor also blasted a group of state lawmakers who filed suit late last week to restore their pay. Rauner told the group of farmers that the General Assembly should be at the bottom of the budget priority list until they enact a state budget.

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Mendoza Sworn in as Comptroller

The Susana Mendoza era is underway in the Illinois Comptroller's office. 
 
Mendoza will continue the policy of putting lawmakers in the back of the line for overdue payments.
 
 
Mendoza accused her predecessor Leslie Munger of making the delayed payments to lawmakers a move for political reasons. A handful of lawmakers sued Munger for overdue paychecks. 
 
She said the decision should have come months earlier. 
 
Meanwhile, Mendoza, who was dressed in a red suit belonging to Judy Baar Topinka, promised the continued bipartisanship and independence Topinka brought to the office.
 
 
Mendoza also said she and staffers were denied access to the Comptroller's office prior to the swearing in.

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Governor Calls Lawmakers Lawsuit 'Insulting'

A group of Illinois lawmakers filed suit late last week to restore their pay. Former Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger earlier this year put state lawmaker pay in a waiting line with everyone else waiting to be paid by the state. 
 
Governor Bruce Rauner Monday blasted the lawsuit and urged newly-elected state Comptroller Susana Mendoza to keep lawmaker pay on the state's waiting list;
 
 
Rauner talks about why he wants new Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza to hire an attorney to keep lawmakers in line to receive their pay with other state creditors.
 
 
Rauner told the Illinois Farm Bureau meeting in Chicago that Mendoza should hire her own attorney to fight the lawsuit rather than having Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan take up the case.

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Farmers Limit Nutrient Runoff Into Waterways

The Illinois office of the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) released a survey Monday on farmer progress and attitudes toward the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. 
 
The survey of Illinois farmers and landowners looked at progress since the base year of 20-11, through the end of the 20-15 crop year on improving management practices to reduce loss of nitrogen and phosphorus from fields. 
 
Mark Schleusener, Illinois State Statistician with NASS says the survey shows real progress with nitrogen management on corn.
 
 
The survey will help the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council, or N-REC, target future education and outreach information. 
 
Julie Armstrong, exec director of N-REC says the progress made so far will help convince the E-P-A and other regulatory bodies that Illinois farmers can reduce runoff into our waterways voluntarily, avoiding future mandatory regulations.
 
 
Details of the extensive survey, covering implementation of a variety of management practices, can be found at NASS-dot-.U-S-D-A-dot-GOV-slash-pressreleases.

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Congressman Davis Staying Put on White House Ag Committee

U-S Representative Rodney Davis says he plans to keep his seat on the U-S House Agriculture Committee. The Taylorville Republican addressed Illinois farmers participating in the Illinois Farm Bureau's annual meeting taking place in Chicago;
 
 
Davis told farmers he's "excited" about having one political party in control of the White House, the U-S House and Senate. 
 
He told farmers if a balanced budget depended on bargaining congressional office and committee moves underway, it would actually happen. 
 
In his words, "everyone's angling for something" as part of the transition from the current administration and Congress to the new ones that will officially take place in January.

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Governor Rauner To Sign Exelon Legislation at CHS Wednesday; WHOW To Broadcast the Event

It will be a monumental day in Clinton Wednesday when Governor Bruce Rauner signs the much anticipated nuclear energy legislation at Clinton High School.
 
For nearly two years, Clinton residents, Exelon employees and officials have been waiting on the Illinois legislature to answer the calls of the nuclear energy provider to bring them on par with other renewable energy sources and late last week, that call was answered.
 
Wednesday, the Governor of Illinois will sign the bill at Clinton High School and City Administrator, Tim Followell anticipates a huge crowd.
 
 
Those attending are asked to use the athletic entrance to the high school and use the parking lots most western entrance. There will also be shuttles from downtown Clinton and if possible, others are asked to park at the movie theater.
 
 
The presentation starts at 2 pm and will feature several speakers with the Governor to address the community last. 
 
The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and dewittdailynews.com will broadcast the signing of the legislation live at 2 pm Wednesday afternoon.

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New Outlook in DeWitt County Thanks To Nuclear Legislation Passage

The late-Thursday passage of the nuclear energy legislation in Illinois has local leaders ready to harnass a new outlook on the future of the community.
 
Community leaders alike say they have a second chance now the power plant will be a part of the community for another ten years.
 
Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles, believes the scare that was the closure of the power station should give everyone a new perspective. He says this will keep the district from implementing major cutbacks. 
 
 
Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell calls this a win for Clinton and the Quad Cities. He also feels this benefits the entire state.
 
 
Followell also feels there is a new outlook on how entities plan knowing the power plant will not be around forever.
 
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg believes while the life expectancy of the power plant could expire at any time, the County Board has prepared for that scenario through conservative budgeting in recent years.
 
 
Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, Marian Brisard calls Exelon the cornerstone of the employment in DeWitt County and says it is great to keep the over 600 jobs in the area.
 
 
Each leader thanked Governor Bruce Rauner for being the catalyst to the legislation picking up steam in the middle of the week last week and thanked the tireless efforts of Representative Bill Mitchell and State Sen. Chapin Rose. 

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How The Nuclear Power Legislation Nearly Didn't Happen

A local lawmaker who was on the front lines of the nuclear energy legislation passing in Illinois last week says the days and hours leading up to the vote on the bill was the wildest thing he'd ever seen in Springfield.
 
State Senator Chapin Rose says the early portion of the week things did not look good and then Wednesday is when the craziness began. He explains once Governor Rauner threw his support Wednesday, the overnight hours produced what looked like the ultimate conclusion of the bills fate.
 
 
Once the legislation was amended, support for the bill faded quickly as lawmakers were not happy and then began to question the validity of the bill. Sen. Rose it took all they had to get support back for the bill once the amendments were removed.
 
 
That was only the start of the chaos though. Sen. Rose explains, upon hearing of the support dwindling on the bill, lawmakers were headed to the airport and getting in cars and getting out of dodge, only to be called back.
 
 
The Senator says it was the wildest scene he's ever witnessed in Springfield.
 
 
Once lawmakers were back and in the building, Sen. Rose says things continued to be unexpected as he was the one that presented the bill on the Senate floor.
 
 
Sen. Rose says there is a lot of back story to the passage of the bill and how things become law in Illinois. He calls it complete madness.

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Exelon Employees Ecstatic; Former Employees Will Be Invited Back

Excitement and elation is the feeling of the employees at the Exelon Power station after the Illinois legislature passed the nuclear energy bill that will keep nuclear power plants in Illinois online and open for another decade.
 
Communications Manager at Clinton Power Station, Brett Nauman says the personnel at Exelon are grateful that the legislature passed the bill and that everyone at the plant will keep their jobs.
 
 
Nauman indicates the folks that had to leave will be allowed the opportunity to get their jobs back at the plant.
 
 
Non-essential personnel at the plant were allowed to leave Friday after they met with officials on the results of the legislation from Thursday. 

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DeWitt County Leaders Relieved By Nuclear Legislation Passage

Local leaders are breathing a sigh of relief as lawmakers in Springfield passed the nuclear power legislation that will allow for Clinton's Exelon Power Station to remain open for another ten years.
 
Clinton schools stood to lose out the most by the closure of the Exelon power station and Superintendent Curt Nettles feels much better than he did just a few weeks ago.
 
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg calls it a great day for DeWitt County and sends huge thanks to State Representative Bill Mitchell and Senator Chapin Rose for their tireless efforts on the legislation.
 
 
Monday on Regional Radio News we'll have more from local leaders and lawmakers on the passage of the legislation. 

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Meetings Set Up for Community To Hear About Potential Youth Center

The vision of a local woman to have a spot for youth to hang out will take another step forward this weekend and early next week.
 
Michelle Witzke is hoping the community will come out to hear about the what her plans are for the future of the former 'Indecent Xposure' location downtown Clinton. Witzke says they have meetings set up for Sunday and Monday and encourages anyone with questions or suggestions to come out.
 
 
For Witzke, The Vault, will be what they hope to is a safe environment with lots of fun activities for youth to be able to take part in.
 
 
The meetings are this Sunday at 2 pm and then Monday at 7 pm at Clinton High School. 
 
Witzke says the support for her vision has been well received across the community. 

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Miller Park Zoo's Wild Lights Event This Weekend

An event that continues to be a big hit amongst attendees is this weekend at the Miller Park Zoo.
 
2016 marks the sixth year for the Miller Park Zoo's Wild Lights event and Superintendent Jay Tetzloff explains luminaries will fill the park giving it a different feel starting at 5 pm tonight.
 
 
Tetzloff says the event continues to grow in attendance. With that in mind in recent years, officials have expanded the times it will run.
 
 
Wild Lights at Miller Park Zoo kicks off tonight and runs from 5 pm to 8 pm with the same hours for Saturday. 

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U of I Economist Lays Out Path To Balanced Budget

The state legislature wrapped up the fall veto session without a new budget. Lack of a budget slows economic growth in the state, due to uncertainty over future tax policy and funding levels for businesses that depend on state business. 
 
Dr David Merriman, economist at the U of I, Chicago, and part of the U of I’s Institute of Govt and Public Affairs, says the road map to a long term balanced budget is clear, involving a combination of budget cuts and tax increases.
 
 
Merriman says every day without action on spending cuts and taxes means the long debt keeps growing. Meanwhile, lack of a budget in the short term hurts the most vulnerable citizens the hardest.
 
 
The legislature will take up the budget issue again in January.

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Rauner Lays Out Terms for Stopgap Budget

After a big money campaign effort to reduce the Democratic majority in the Illinois House and Senate, Governor Bruce Rauner is turning to social media to weigh in on the budget. 
 
While House Speaker Madigan continues to push for another stopgap budget, Rauner has demands.
 
 
Madigan is accusing Rauner of planning a tax hike in the lame duck legislative session in January. 
 
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin maintains Madigan is the only one who has brought up a tax hike. 

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Madigan Official Weighs in on Term Limits

Term limits have been in Governor Rauner's playbook from the day he entered the political arena. 
 
The movement hasn't gained traction despite strong support in polling numbers from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan, Steve Brown, maintains term limits brings its a new set of concerns.
 
 
Brown says while many people may not like lawmakers as a collective group, they tend to like their own representative.

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Durbin Salutes Kirk on Senate Floor

Senator Dick Durbin offered a sendoff to his Junior Senator Republican colleague Thursday. 
 
Durbin recapped six years of frequent cooperation with Senator Mark Kirk. He also saluted him on his recovery from a massive stroke four years ago.
 
 
Durbin says Kirk's service to the state and nation started long before he reached Capitol Hill's upper chamber.
 
 
Durbin says Kirk's successor Tammy Duckworth will work with him on Kirk's outgoing request that Durbin works to protect Lake Michigan.

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Exelon Energy Bill Passes General Assembly

Thousands of jobs were saved in central Illinois late Thursday when the Illinois General Assembly passed the nuclear energy bill.
 
Local lawmakers are celebrating the passage of the bill. State Representative Bill Mitchell calls this week tough and says the bill just passed. He's very pleased the bill passed.
 
 
Senator Chapin Rose says this protects lots of jobs now and protects rate payers down the road.
 
 
Bloomington Representative Dan Brady was encouraged by the caps and gaurantees. He says it is not perfect but does protects jobs in his district. 
 
 
The House voted 63-38 Thursday, the final day of the General Assembly’s fall veto session, in favor of a massive package that will create ratepayer subsidies for nuclear power plants and increase investment in renewable power and energy efficiency. 
 
The Senate then passed the measure on a 32-18 vote.

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End is Near for Mild Weather

December has arrived, and when the totals are calculated for November is will continue the trend of well above normal temperatures for most of 2016. But, DTN chief meteorologist Bryce Anderson says the above normal trend is about to end.
 
 
And along with more seasonal temperatures in the week ahead, look for the first measurable snow as well.
 
 
As far as the winter forecast, Anderson looks for near normal temperatures and precipitation in December and January, then moderation in February with a return to somewhat above normal temperatures.

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Legislative Leaders Meeting, No Budget Deal Yet

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER AND THE FOUR LEGISLATIVE LEADERS CONTINUE TO MEET BUT A DEAL ON THE STATE BUDGET OR REFORMS REMAINS ELUSIVE.
 
THE BUDGET DID COME UP IN THE LATEST MEETING…WITH HOUSE SPEAKER MIKE MADIGAN AGAIN SUGGESTING THAT WORKING GROUPS SHOULD TACKLE THE ISSUE AND COME UP WITH A PLAN. HE ADDRESS G-O-P CRITICS WHO SAYS HE’S JUST TRYING TO DRAG OUT THE PROCESS.
 
 
REPUBLICANS WANT REFORMS TO GO ALONG WITH ANY DEAL SAYS HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JIM DURKIN.
 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS WORKER’S COMPENSATION AND EDUCATION FUNDING REFORM, AS WELL A PROPERTY TAX FREEZE AND TERM LIMITS ARE VITAL TO STABILIZING THE STATE ECONOMY AND BUDGET.

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Republicans Chiding Madigan

Republican’s at the Statehouse are not backing of the campaign mode of blaming House Speaker Mike Madigan for nearly everything that is going wrong in Illinois. 
 
The state party recently launched a Boss Madigan website and they were quick to blame him for missing one of the leaders meetings on Tuesday. Madigan notes he was ready to meet when the Governor was in Rome. Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno says there should be no issue or hurt feelings with taking a hard stance on the Speaker. 
 
 
Madigan is indicating that he wants a stand-alone budget to be voted on. Holding off a vote or making separate any demands by Republicans on turn around agenda items. 

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Lawmakers Pushing To Get Rauner Back With AFSCME

Lawmakers are standing with the state’s largest employee union and asking the Governor to get back to bargaining table. 
 
The Governor and ASFCME have been determined to be at an impasse and that allows Rauner to impose his own contract terms to the union. State Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat says that the two sides should still be meeting.
 
 
Republican Senator Sam McCann says that the issues at hand are not partisan and not about anyone part of the state. 
 
 
Nearly 3 dozen lawmakers came together to address the issue and Republicans and Democrats say that this is a nonpartisan issue. 

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Lame Duck Tax Increase Legislation Passes

THE ILLINOIS HOUSE PASSED A RESOLUTION WEDNESDAY OPPOSING ANY EFFORTS TO PASS AN INCOME TAX INCREASE DURING THE LAME DUCK LEGISLATIVE SESSION. 
 
THE MEASURE IS MEANT TO SEND A MESSAGE AND TAKE A ROLL CALL SAYS SPONSOR…REPRESENTATIVE DAVID MCSWEENEY OF CARY.
 
 
REPRESENTATIVE BARBARA FLYNN CURRIE OF CHICAGO VOTED AGAINST THE MEASURE.
 
 
THE RESOLUTION PASSED ON A 87 TO 12 VOTE BUT ISN’T BINDING. ANOTHER BILL AIMS TO CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION TO PREVENT TAX HIKES DURING THE LAME DUCK PERIOD.

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