The amount of phone calls local fire authorities respond to increase this time of year for a variety of reasons.
The common denominator generally is because residents are trying to find ways to keep their homes or apartments warm. Assistant Fire Chief with the Clinton Fire Department, Raymond James warns of the dangers of overloading electric outlets or using the wrong methods to plug in space heaters and various furnaces.
James adds it is never a good idea to use your stove or oven to heat your home. He says you run the risk of CO filling your home if you have a gas stove or oven.
Often times, the smoke alarms are pushed but James indicates the CO alarms can be just a important. He explains many people don't have a CO alarm in their home because it's notifications can be confusing.
Officials say watch the overloading of power strips and surge protectors. They see house fires with overloaded power strips or protectors as the cause.
They also note, if you're going to light candles, keep them up high and on a sturdy surface. They received a fire call this winter that was caused by a candle that caught a couch on fire.
On the heels of several school leaders criticizing the State of Illinois for their dishonesty towards the public about education funding, local leaders are also trying to keep an eye on the issues being taken up as a part of the Senate's 'Grand Bargain'.
Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools, Mike Williams says one of the big issues in the 'Grand Bargain' is the introduction of a property tax freeze. He says if they pass it this spring, it is possible the plan could go into effect before schools have the chance to counter, bringing considerable repercussions for many districts.
The State is also considering a pension cost shift. Williams explains, normally the cost falls on the State to pay for the pensions of school teachers, but because that hasn't happened in many year, the cost will shift to local districts.
Williams believes you could see reductions in staffing or even reductions in programs if schools will be forced to pick up the tab for the pensions of its teachers.
A recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling that an urban water works cannot sue agricultural drainage districts for damages related to alleged runoff has caught the attention of Illinois agriculture.
In 2015, the Des Moines Water Works utility sued three rural county boards that have authority over drainage districts claiming they discharged nitrates into an Iowa river. The utility believes the districts violate the federal Clean Water Act.
Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau's director of natural and environmental resources, says the court upheld a century’s worth of legal precedent;
While the Iowa high court ruled on questions pertaining to state law, two questions related to federal regulations in the Clean Water Act remain. A federal trial is anticipated this summer;
Last summer, about 15 Illinois Farm Bureau members ventured to Iowa to learn about nutrient management issues, including the Des Moines Water Works case.
It’s tax time again.
By the end of January all those W2’s and 1099’s should have arrived in the mail, plus interest payment information for any deductible payments to a lender. If you have a complicated tax situation, and are sitting in front of a pile of forms, receipts and other documents wondering how to get started, here’s a hint from Paul Neiffer of the CPA firm of CliftonLarsonAllen… To avoid record keeping headaches next year, use one of a variety of tax accounting software programs throughout the year.
CliftonLarsonAllen specializes in farm and business tax returns. Working in co-ordination with county Farm Bureau’s around Illinois, they work with their clients year around to make tax filing a little less painful.
Most farm tax returns must be filed by March 1st, the rest of by April 18, later than the normal April 15th due to a holiday on the 15th in Washington.
All of your tax forms from employers, lenders, and others must be mailed to you be January 31st.
If you need tax help, regardless of how simple of complex your tax situation, preparers specializing in farm and agri- business returns are available through your county Farm Bureau.
The Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association has released results of an early online straw poll on potential Democratic candidates for Goveror next year.
A straw poll of more than 53-hundred responders shows State Senator Daniel Biss garnering support of 25 percent of them. That is well ahead of the next closest competitor, Chicago Alderman Ameya Pewar with 15%. Democratic County Chairmen's Association Executive Director Dan Kovats talks about factors that may put Biss on top.
Kovats says Pewar is enjoying the benefits of publicity that goes with being the first to enter the race. Meanwhile, an announcement is expected soon from businessman Chris Kennedy, who doesn't exactly have weak political bloodlines.
Pewar is the only candidate to enter the race so far. Businessman Chris Kennedy gets 12% support in the straw poll. Quad Cities Congresswoman Cheri Bustos 11%, Billionaire J.B. Pritzker 10% and State Senator Andy Manar received 7%. Congresswoman Robin Kelly received 4% support, State Senator Kwame Raoul 2% and Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers brings up the rear with 1% support.
Every winter U of I extension conducts a series of free webinars for specialty crop growers in Illinois. Topics range from growing fruits or vegetable for fun or profit, to insect control to marketing your produce.
Andy Larson, extension Local Foods and Small Farms educator, conducts the on line webinars.
You do need to register for the live webinars. Contact your local U of I extension office for details. Meanwhile all webinars held since 2012 are available anytime on the Extension service U-Tube channel.
The webinars are designed for all specialty growers, whether a full time operation of a garden hobbyist.
GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS HIS ADMINISTRATION WILL USE ALL LEGAL OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO MAKE SURE STATE EMPLOYEES GET PAID.
IN A LETTER TO STATE WORKERS…GOVERNOR RAUNER SAID THEY WILL FIGHT THE LAWSUIT OVER PAYCHECKS AND MAKE SURE SERVICES AREN’T DISRUPTED.
ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN IS PETITIONING A JUDGE TO HALT STATE WORKER PAY UNTIL A STATE BUDGET IS PASSED.
GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS HE’S DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED BY A LAWSUIT FILED TO STOP STATE WORKERS FROM GETTING PAID.
ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN FILED THE SUIT…ASKING THE COURT TO LIFT AN ORDER THAT KEEPS PAYCHECKS FLOWING DESPITE THE 19 MONTH BUDGET IMPASSE. GOVERNOR RAUNER DISAGREES WITH THE MOVE.
GOVERNOR RAUNER FEARS THE SUIT WILL DERAIL ONGOING NEGOTIATIONS OVER THE PROPOSED “GRAND BARGAIN.”
MADIGAN SAYS THE ORDER TO KEEP PAYING STATE EMPLOYEES HAS REMOVED MUCH OF THE URGENCY FOR LAWMAKERS AND THE GOVERNOR TO REACH AN AGREEMENT ON A BUDGET DEAL.
Will the state be able to actually push forward with gambling expansion this time?
The Senate started hearings on adding 6 casinos around the state and slot machines at three horse racing tracks. Similar bills have failed in the past and critics say the state is already flooded with places to gamble now that video poker rooms are legal. But Senator Terry Link of Gurnee says people still leave the state to wager.
The new casinos would be in Rockford, Chicago, the south suburbs, Williamson and Lake Counties and Danville.
The past week gradually got cooler and now some snow is in the forecast for the weekend. State Climotologist Jim Angel has the story:
Unemployment rates for the area increased from November to December 2016.
De Witt County suffered a .7% increase, going from a 5.1% unemployment rate to 5.8%.
Logan, McLean and Macon counties all had a .5% increase going from 4.8 to 5.3, 4.5 to 5.0, and 5.9 to 6.4, respectively.
An increase of .4% was felt by Piatt county, 4.4 to 4.8-percent, and Champaign county, 4.5 to 4.9-percent.
Overall the state of Illinois experienced a .3% increase in unemployment from November to December. However, the state managed to decrease the rate of unemployment over the course of the year by .4%.
A local organization now has a new mobile app for members to utilize.
Rennie Cluver, executive director of the Clinton Community YMCA, indicates that the YMCA's app has been revised. Members with the app are able to view schedules, descriptions of classes, and hours of operation.
Cluver hopes that in the future members will be able to use the app to register and pay for classes online. The app is available to download from app stores.
The app is free to download and is available from most app stores.
Job growth is slow, but jobs are being created in Illinois. That’s the takeaway from the latest numbers from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
Bob Gough says the jobless rate dropped month to month but the state can’t get to the job creation levels of the rest of county. And inside the state, parts of Illinois are doing better than others.
If you were looking for employment you had the best luck landing a job in transportation, education, health services and government.
School leaders across the area are growing increasingly unhappy with the State of Illinois and their message to the public they are fully funding education but are behind on payments for areas like transportation and special education.
Lincoln High School Superintendent Robert Bagby says the situation with transportation funding for schools is becoming a serious issue. Right now, Lincoln High School has yet to receive a transportation payment this year.
For Bagby, the biggest complaint is the State telling districts they'll be getting payments, and then not following through. He says if the State would be upfront about how much money they will be getting, Lincoln High School could make it work.
When it comes to transportation funding, Bagby says the State has started increasing regulations and decreasing the funding.
Lincoln High School is fortunate to have an in-house solution for one of the major challenges many area schools face. Bagby explains their L-Tech program includes a shop for auto work, and their students are able to provide maintenance for several vehicles in their fleet.
Bagby indicates he has stopped keeping track of how much the state owes their school. He feels it doesn't do any good and credits all the entities that have come together to make the budgets balanced over the last several years.
It’s not a surprise, but it is official. Leaders in the Illinois Senate have decided to hold off on a vote of the grand bargain. The pile of bills that tie a new state budget to tax increases, gambling expansion and a number of other items and reforms still needs time to be baked.
Christine Radogno, Illinois Senate Minority Leader says nothing is stopping it’s just a pause to better craft bills for the coming large lift.
The vote on the bills is expected to be the first full week of February.
AFSCME represented state workers have been considering foregoing paychecks with the possibility of a strike on the table. They're no longer the only state workers worried about future paychecks.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan dropped a bombshell Thursday, filing a motion in St. Clair County Court to stop state worker pay until a budget agreement. That motion would dissolve previous court orders allowing the payment of state employees.
Springfield based GOP State Representative Tim Butler, whose district has its fair share of state workers, says the move throws a brand new wrench into efforts to craft a compromise budget.
In a statement Madigan said quote- "Like everyone else in this state, I have long hoped that the Legislature and the Governor would pass and enact a budget. Unfortunately, that has not occurred and an order by the St. Clair County Court has removed much of the urgency for the Legislature and the Governor to act on a budget. However, during this long impasse, the Illinois Supreme Court overruled the sole legal basis for the St. Clair County Court’s order to allow state operations to continue without an appropriation. With a new legislative session now underway, this is an appropriate time to ask the Circuit Court to reconsider this order in light of the changes in the law."
The Rauner Administration calls the move disappointing, especially with the Senate considering a bipartisan, balancd budget agreement. The administration is urging the Attorney General to reconsider this filing and Ruaner officials pledge to do all they can to defend employee pay."
Monarch butterflies, honey bees, and other pollinating insects have been declining at alarming rates. To create habitat and raise awareness, several organizations are teaming together to educate kids about the importance of conservation.
Thanks to their new conservation partnership, Pheasants Forever, Ameren Transmission Company and Exelon Power Company will be partnering to put on an educational day for local school children. This event will occur Jan. 27 at Wapella Community Center: 301 N. Poplar St. Wapella, IL 61777. The organizations will host two 1 hour sessions with a morning session start time of 9:00 a.m. and an afternoon session start time of 12:30 p.m.
More than 200 students from three surrounding schools will learn about the importance of pollinators and the role pollinators play in nature.
For more information about the event, please contact Pheasants Forever's Illinois Outreach Coordinator, Katie Kauzlarich by either phone (309) 264-1678 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual State of the State Address to a joint session of the General Assembly in Springfield today, citing the challenges and opportunities facing Illinois as the state continues to grapple with a budget impasse that has now extended beyond 18 months.
State Representative Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) says despite the state’s condition the Governor pointed out some positives in his speech.
State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) said the most understated thing the Governor said today is that “we can do better.”
The Governor is scheduled to submit his budget plan to the General Assembly during his forthcoming Budget Address at the Capitol on February 15, 2017.
House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang is offering the Democratic side of the story after the State of the State. He says a job creation plan with reduced wages and workplace protections is not the answer to what ails Illinois.
Lang and House Speaker Mike Madigan believe reforms are possible without measures they say would hurt the middle class. Lang also says a growing concern is the state of Illinois colleges and universities and the long term impact of continued cuts.
Lang says the budget stalemate continues to cost taxpayers with the state forced to pay twelve percent interest on its debts.
It's not a regular opportunity to be invited to the Illinois Capitol building for the State of the State address and be a part of the day, but one Clinton family got the opportunity Wednesday afternoon.
Jeff Wrage and his family were in the building as a part of the Governor's annual address Wednesday and says it was a great honor to be there.
The Wrage family was able to meet with the Governor, Lt. Governor and local leaders in Springfield and thank them for their efforts in keeping the Exelon Power station along with hundreds of jobs in Clinton and DeWitt County.
The Governor mentioned Wrage and his family when discussing the successes of his administration in the past year.
Get a full recap of the Governor's address today at DeWittDailyNews.com.
The first tenant for the Magill Hotel officially cut the ribbon on their new location in downtown Clinton.
(Picture Courtesy of EMC Photography)
Bryce Starkey, Financial Advisor for Edward Jones Financial, moved into a renovated location at the former Magill Hotel off Center Street on the north side of the square. He is excited about the move and being on the square.
The retail space was cut in half on the lower level of the historic building. Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber, Marian Brisard, says it is exciting the Magill building finally has a tenant and feels it should be a catalyst for further development in the other half of the storefront.
City Administrator for the City of Clinton, Tim Followell echoes Brisard's sentiments about tenants following with Edward Jones now in the building. He says the move is another example of economic development taking time and not being an overnight process.
The DeWitt County Restoration Association will be leasing the property and Becky Adams with the DCRA says this is something they've been working on for a long time and they are excited for a tenant to finally be in the building.
Adams says the DCRA will continue to search for a tenant for the other side of the retail space and adds they will continue to raise funds to continue their renovation efforts inside the building.
As heard on WHOW and at dewittdailynews.com, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner gave his annual State of the State address Wednesday afternoon.
The Governor says the results of borrowing and deficit spending are hurting human services and senior citizens. He calls it a failure in being compassionate because of the inability to be competitive.
Governor Rauner called on the Illinois legislature to work together to get the fiscal recovery started. He thanked the leaders in the Illinois Senate that have taken the lead on this and implored everyone to keep working.
The state's bipartisan task force for analyzing the school funding formula should finish soon and will have recommendations the Governor hopes can be implemented on a bipartisan basis.
In addition to the K-12 education, the Governor is calling for the increased research opportunities at Illinois' universities.
The Governor is also calling on the Legislature to have a fair maps amendment be put on the election ballot along with a term limits amendment.
A balanced, full year budget and the unfunded pension system were just a few of the challenges the Governor says need to be addressed.
Among the Governor's other topics from the Wednesday afternoon address were the introduction of a planned new managed lane on Interstate 55 to be paid for by private investors, the technology improvements within state government, and the violence in Chicago.
Exelon Clinton Power Station employee, Jeff Wrage and his family were at the Governor's State of the State address and in fact, the Governor recognized them as a portion of his speech where he highlighted the State saving the jobs of the Clinton power station employees in Clinton and the Quad Cities. Jeff was joined by his wife Stephanie and two daughters, Halle and Maesie.
If you're a senior in DeWitt County and could use some extra income, a local non-profit agency would like to discuss working with area youth.
Community Action's Foster Grandparents program is in need of retired residents to help out in their organization working with youth. Executive Director of Community Action, Alison Rumler-Gomez indicates it is a program to help children with a variety of needs.
Rumler-Gomez says this program can be a great benefit for seniors both financially and emotionally. She feels it could be a good opportunity for seniors locally.
According to Rumler-Gomez, the program is very flexible. It is not a 40 hour a week commitment and the placements can be at a variety of places.
Rumler-Gomez indicates there are two openings for the Community Action Head Start program in Clinton. She says there always seems to be a need for this throughout the Community Action service area in central Illinois.
To get more information, contact their Lincoln corporate office by calling 217-732-2159.
When the Governor begins his state of the state address for the third time today it will after presiding over Illinois for his entire term as the CEO of the state without a comprehensive spending plan.
So it’s another address to a deeply divided legislature. But, Bruce Rauner says that he wants to speak to inclusiveness and both parties working together.
The reaching out only goes so far, the Illinois Republican Party still has the Boss Madigan website up and running.
HEARINGS ON A MASSIVE BUDGET AND REFORM PACKAGE ARE UNDERWAY IN THE SENATE…BUT A VOTE MAY NOT HAPPEN THIS WEEK.
THE PACKAGE IS THE RESULT OF NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN SENATE DEMOCRAT AND REPUBLICAN LEADERS. MINORITY LEADER CHRISTINE RADOGNO SAYS THERE ARE MANY MOVING PARTS AND THAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR INPUT.
SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON SAYS THE LEGISLATION IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS AND IS BEING DISCUSSED IN COMMITTEE.
THE BILL ADDRESS EVERYTHING FROM AN INCREASE IN THE MINIMUM WAGE AND THE STATE INCOME TAX, PENSION REFORM, WORKER’S COMPENSATION REFORM AND AN EXPANSION OF GAMBLING. A VOTE ON THE PACKAGE MAY BE DELAYED IF THERE ISN’T ENOUGH INITIAL SUPPORT.
Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn and his agency are looking to the future of driving in Illinois and a big part of that future involves vehicles without drivers.
Blankenhorn says driverless vehicles like the ones operated by Google in recent years aren't just an experiment, it's a movement that is gaining traction and he wants Illinois to be ahead of the curve.
Blankenhorn says some freight companies are talking with his agency about future use of autonomous vehicles in the state.
If you turn on the Class 3A/4A girls basketball state finals on Friday March 3, you might notice some familiar faces.
Clinton High School's pep band has been selected to play at the Friday sessions of the big school portion of the girls basketball state finals. Director Nathan Wheeler indicates he'll be taking around 90 band members to Redbird Arena.
Wheeler indicates he was able to participate in going to the state tournament as a high schooler at Clinton High School and now he looks forward to his students having the same opportunity.
The band will only be in Normal for Friday, March 3 during the 3A and 4A girls semi-final games from Redbird Arena. The games will be televised on Comcast SportsNet and locally on WCIX.
Fitness and fundraising will be the theme of an event this weekend in DeWitt County.
Relay for Life of DeWitt County and Crossfit Influence in Wapella are teaming up to help the non-profit organization. Cathy Roth explains anyone of any fitness level is welcome to come out and be a part of the event.
This will be the second year for the partnership between Crossfit Influence and Relay for Life. According to Roth, it's been a fruitful relationship and says the unique part about the event is attendees can learn more about what Relay For Life is all about at the same time.
Relay for Life in DeWitt County is set for June 3 this summer. Roth indicates it's a day of fundraising, fellowship and fun.
This weekend's event at Crossfit Influence in Wapella starts at 8 am and goes until noon. Roth says there will be different groups and times for workouts. She notes, those not as interested in working out but wanting to learn more about Relay For Life can also come out.
To get more information about this year's Relay For Life in DeWitt County, or for registration information, you can visit relayforlife.org/dewitt.
The medical marijuana business in Illinois is growing. So the need for dispensaries and growing operations to have access to banks and loans is important. However, the Trump Administration may not be ready to protect the industry.
State Treasurer Mike Frerichs says he wants the new administration to protect them. Current federal law makes it illegal for banks to process money used in legal marijuana businesses. That forces those businesses to work on a cash only basis. The Obama administration shied away from prosecuting banks who dealt with companies and now Frerichs wants Trump to do the same.
Millions of dollars floating are around medical pot in Illinois. Retail sales are closing in on $40 million since starting the program in late 2015.
Tax time can be stressful on anyone. It’s especially so if you think you need help in filing your returns but you don’t money to pay for the assistance.
So the Department of Human Services is giving low income workers and families access to free help. Meghan Powers says volunteer professionals are ready to help guide people through the process.
Families making less than $55,000 a year and individuals earning less than $30,000 are eligible for the assistance. Last year 29,000 people used the free service.
To locate a help center go to DHS dot State dot IL dot gov.
If President Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington D.C. move forward with their pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act US Senator Dick Durbin wants them to know that trouble may lie ahead.
The senior senator from Illinois says making widespread changes but still keeping what most people feel are positive aspects of the law will be difficult.
Durbin says if Republicans move ahead with plans to scrap the ACA they could put 95,000 jobs on the line in Illinois.
Since Senator Dick Durbin opted not to join the 2018 Governor's race, it's been a muddled picture as far as who will seek the Democratic nomination and who could be a viable opponent to Bruce Rauner.
The Illinois Democratic County Chairman’s Association has launched an online gubernatorial straw poll of its members and Democrats who join the organization online. Association President Doug House notes with Governor Rauner recently putting $50 million of his money into his re-election campaign fund, Democrats don't have the luxury of waiting.
House offers details for those who want to weigh in on their favored candidates.
The straw poll will run until midnight on January 29th. IDCCA intends to conduct several more polls to continue drawing attention to the Democratic primary race for Governor.
* State Senator Daniel Biss
* Congresswoman Cheri Bustos
* Congresswoman Robin Kelly
* Chris Kennedy
* State Senator Andy Manar
* Alderman Ameya Pawar
* J.B. Pritzker
* State Senator Kwame Raoul
* Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers
A Clinton home was the scene for a heavy fire early Sunday morning.
Crews were dispatched shortly after 7 am Sunday morning to 5495 Evans Road in Clinton where crews reported heavy fire coming from the home's boiler room and attic.
It took crews 15-20 minutes to knock down the fire in the home, however, clean up took almost two hours as crews were on scene for roughly three hours.
Three people were home at the time of the fire. They are being assisted through the Red Cross.
Clinton Fire Department along with the State Fire Marshall investigated the fire. A cause is not yet known.
Fire officials indicate the home is not believed to be a total loss, but damages are estimated around $100-thousand.
Crews from Kenney, Maroa, Hickory Point and Warrensburg were on scene. Farmer City Fire Department watched the Clinton Fire Station during the call.
Through the course of the incident, there were two minor injuries to fire fighters. Fire officials indicate DeWitt County EMS treated them and they returned to the scene.
High school seniors are likely stilling mulling over their options for their college and a big factor for many is cost.
A local non-profit is once again making scholarships through their foundation available for Clinton High School seniors. Eileen Carter with the Clinton Community Education Foundation says they once again have four scholarships available to seniors this year.
The CCEF has a couple memorial scholarships as well as administering scholarships for Exelon.
New to the memorial scholarships for the foundation this year will be a video introduction. Carter says they are asking students to create a video, email it and then turn in the paper application to the high school guidance office.
For any high school student interested in the scholarships offered through the Clinton Community Education Foundation, visit the guidance office at the high school for more information or you can check out their website at clintonedfoundation.org.
The State of Illinois owes Blue Ridge Schools almost $500-thousand non-general state aid payments.
The last few weeks on Regional Radio News, we've highlighted area districts and what the state owes them in payments that are not their general state aid payments. According to Superintendent of Blue Ridge Schools, Susan Wilson, the state is very behind in their pledged support.
Many school leaders have been critical of the State's claims that they are fully funding education, and Wilson is among them. She says when they are not funding areas like transportation, it is taking a toll on their budget.
Despite having to move $200-thousand from reserves, Wilson says they remain in a good place.
GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER WILL DELIVER HIS STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS ON WEDNESDAY.
EACH YEAR THE GOVERNOR GIVES A SPEECH ON HOW ILLINOIS IS DOING AND SOME FUTURE GOALS FOR THE STATE. EARLIER THIS WEEK GOVERNOR RAUNER SAID HE’D BE COVERING SEVERAL TOPICS.
RAUNER SAYS HE WILL ALSO URGE LAWMAKERS TO WORK TOGETHER AND COMPROMISE.
YOU CAN HEAR GOVERNOR RAUNER’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS LIVE AT NOON ON WEDNESDAY ON THE BIG 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW AND ONLINE AT DEWITTDAILYNEWS.COM.
Former Governor Rod Blagojevich's longshot hope for early release from a Colorado federal prison fails to produce results.
President Barack Obama did not include Blagojevich among on those on his list of his final acts of clemency on Thursday.
Blagojevich is four years into a fourteen year prison term for corruption, including trying to sell the President's former Senate seat.
A vote is coming on the compromise budget deal reached by Democrats and Republicans in Illinois Senate.
Leaders announced that they would call the series of bills on Wednesday. Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno broke the news to the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.
They noted they are not negotiating with the House or the Governor. This is their effort to craft a budget – one not dependent on early approvals by the House or the Governor.
THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE TO FIVE POINT SEVEN PERCENT LAST MONTH.
THAT FIGURE IS UP FROM FIVE POINT SIX IN NOVEMBER. ADDITIONALLY…JOBS WERE DOWN LAST MONTH BY MORE THAN 16 THOUSAND SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH (goff).
THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR DECEMBER CAME IN AT FOUR POINT SEVEN PERCENT.
YOU COULD SEE ADS ON YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION RENEWAL NOTICES UNDER NEW LEGISLATION SUPPORTED BY SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE.
IT COSTS ABOUT 400 THOUSAND DOLLARS EACH MONTH TO MAIL OUT THE NOTICES, AND THE PRACTICE WAS SUSPENDED FOR SEVERAL MONTHS DURING THE BUDGET IMPASSE. THE MAILINGS HAVE SINCE RESUMED…BUT THE STATE IS ONCE AGAIN WITHOUT A BUDGET SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT.
HAUPT SAYS IT COSTS ABOUT 400 THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH TO MAIL OUT THE RENEWAL REMINDERS…SO THEY ARE LOOKING AT CREATIVE WAYS TO HELP COVER THE COST. THAT INCLUDES SUPPORTING A BILL ALLOWING ADS ON THE BACK OF THE NOTICES.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE IS URGING DRIVERS TO SIGN UP FOR EMAIL RENEWAL NOTICES INSTEAD OF SNAIL MAIL. YOU CAN DO THAT ONLINE AT CYBER DRIVE ILLINOIS DOT COM.
25 SITES IN ILLINOIS HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES OVER THE PAST YEAR.
THE SITES ARE ADDED BASED ON RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE ILLINOIS HISTORIC PRESERVATION AGENCY, AND RUN THE GAMUT SAYS SPOKESPERSON CHRIS WILLS.
INCLUDED ON THE LIST IS THE DAVIS THEATRE IN CHICAGO…THE BRIDGE AT THIRTEENTH STREET IN ST. FRANCISVILLE AND MARQUETTE APARTMENTS IN PEORIA. TYPICALLY, PROPERTIES HAVE TO BE MORE THAN 50 YEARS OLD TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE NATIONAL REGISTER.
OTHER SITES INCLUDES BIG WOODS SCHOOL IN AURORA…THE SLOAN HOUSE IN ELMHURST…OVERTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN CHICAGO…AND THE DOWNTOWN ALEDO HISTORIC DISTRICT.
THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS CONFIRMING SIX CASES OF A VIRAL ILLNESS LINKED TO TWO RAT BREEDING FACILITIES IN ILLINOIS.
THE SIX INDIVIDUALS HAVE THE SEOUL VIRUS…WHICH IS PRETTY RARE IN THE UNITED STATES. IT DOESN’T CARRY A BIG RISK TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NIRAV SHAH.
SHAH SAYS THE VIRUS IS RARE IN THE U-S…AND IS NOT TRANSMITTED FROM PERSON TO PERSON.
A RATTERY IN WISCONSIN PURCHASED RATS FROM THE TWO ILLINOIS BREEDERS AND TWO RESIDENTS THERE HAVE ALSO TESTED POSITIVE FOR THE SEOUL VIRUS. SYMPTOMS ARE SIMILAR TO THE FLU, ALTHOUGH SOME PEOPLE AFFECTED SHOW NO SIGNS OF ILLNESS.
After a wet week in Illinois, a mild weekend is ahead in central Illinois. State Climotologist Jim Angel has more....
The City of Clinton has purchased property from the school district, and the two sides have amended a recent agreement together.
Superintendent of Clinton Schools Curt Nettles explains the City has purchased the former Webster School lot from the district. He explains that agreement also removes a provision for a land swap between the two entities.
Additionally, the School Board this week agreed to sell the former site of the Washington Elementary school. Nettles says there's plenty of opportunity for anyone to acquire the property if interested.
Nettles feels the amended agreement between the school district and the city will work out for both parties. He says because the land swap portion of the agreement would happen so far in the future, he felt it was a good revision not to tie future leaders to deals made by former-leaders.
US Congressman Rodney Davis says he doesn't know much about the new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
President-elect Donald Trump tabbed Perdue for the post earlier this week and the central Illinois Congressman says the reports from his colleagues in Georgia, so far, are good.
Congressman Davis continues to be pleased with the other nominees for the cabinet of the President-elect.
It’s a five year push to increase the enrollment of the three campuses that make the University of Illinois system.
Tim Killeen, President of the University of Illinois gave the goal of boosting enrollment by 15 percent to the U of I’s Board of Trustees. If achieved Champaign-Urbana, Chicago and Springfield would incorporate more than 93,000 students.
When considering the move – Killeen notes that 45 percent of Illinois high school seniors who go to college select a 4 year school outside of the state, 15 years ago that number was just 29 percent. The system has about 81,500 students right now.
The University is also going to freeze base tuition for a instate freshman for the 3rd year in a row.
Governor Bruce Rauner this week took a swipe at the level of quality daycare that some kids receive in Illinois.
Last year the Governor moved to cut daycare subsidies for low income working families. The move pushed thousands of families away from state support. And Rauner says now the daycare kids are getting at times is less than they deserve.
SEIU’s Vice Chair of Child Care said in a statement that Rauner’s words show “someone entirely disconnected from the working families he claims to serve.”
It just about took him right up to his inauguration day, but Donald Trump selected former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be his final choice in his presidential cabinet as the next Secretary of Agriculture.
The president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, Richard Guebert Jr., says the organization is relieved a nominee to head U-S-D-A has finally been selected. The leader of the American Farm Bureau, Zippy Duvall, served as president of the Georgia Farm Bureau when Perdue was his home state's Governor;
The American Farm Bureau's chief economist, Bob Young, served on the U-S Senate Agriculture Committee staff under a Democratic chairman;
Like all other Trump cabinet nominees, Perdue will face a panel of U-S Senators for a hearing prior to a confirmation vote up or down in the full U-S Senate. The Senate's Agriculture Committee chairman says he plans to call a hearing on the U-S-D-A Secretary-designate as soon as possible.
As President Obama leaves Pennsylvania Avenue, his former US Senate colleague is singing his praises.
On the Senate floor, Durbin credited Obama with taking on the recession head on shortly after his Presidency began.
In particular, Durbin cited the President's support of the auto industry.
Durbin also credited the President with reducing predatory lending practices, something often linked to the foreclosure crisis early in his tenure.
The Illinois Corn Growers Assoc. recently conducted a Market Study Tour of Cuba. This trip was a follow-up to an ICG tour conducted about 18 months ago.
Champaign County farmer and ICG board member Dirk Rice participated in both tours and says this one helped show the Cubans that Illinois farmers are serious about doing business with the island nation.
Right now Cuba sources most of their corn and soybean imports from South America, and rice comes halfway around the world from Vietnam. The U.S. could supply higher quality grain at much lower prices due to transportation advantages, but despite opening the Cuban market to travel, trade restrictions, including the granting of credit remain in place. Rice says that sharply limits the ability of American farmers to sell into the Cuban market, even though the Cubans want to trade with the U.S.
Rice says going forward farmers hope the Trump administration will continue to open the Cuban market. Relaxing trade restrictions is key to opening up a billion dollar market.
US Congressman Rodney Davis says he will continue his track record of attending the Presidential inauguration tomorrow when he will be in Washington, DC for the swearing in of President-elect Donald Trump.
The central Illinois Congressman says he shows up no matter who is being sworn in as a gesture of supporting those in the military to show his support for their Commander in Chief.
In his speech to the nation tomorrow, Congressman David hopes to hear Trump discuss working together. He is optimistic that Trump is addressing issues important to the country.
Davis hopes his colleagues on the other side of the isle will reconsider their stances to boycott the inauguration but doesn't feel optimistic they will.
Hear the President-elect's address to the nation tomorrow morning just after 10 am on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com.
If you're starting to struggle keeping your new year's resolution to get in shape, a local non-profit might have a solution for you.
Many individuals set a goal of getting in shape or exercising more for their new year's resolutions, but after a couple of weeks, that can sometimes be hard to stay up with. Rennie Cluver is the Executive Director of the Clinton YMCA and believes the Y can be a great support network for any individual of any fitness level.
Some of the titles of the fitness classes might sound intimidating, but Cluver says most classes are very friendly to the beginners, while also catering to the more fit individuals. He also believes the classes themselves are very uplifting to anyone in them.
Cluver says Zumba has gained in popularity in recent years and that is a class available at the YMCA. He says it is based on dancing and the fun of the class makes it feel less like a workout.
Sometimes getting in shape in front of friends or peers can be somewhat intimidating but Cluver says a lot of people have taken the leap of faith and started the classes and came out the other side grateful they did so.
Cluver indicates the Y also offers spin classes, individual workout areas and their gym is available throughout the day to come in and exercise at your own pace.
To learn more about the Clinton YMCA, contact Cluver or anyone on staff by calling 217-935-8307 or stop in for a tour and more information at 417 South Alexander Street.
A local school district is seeking out graduates to come back and tell their stories.
Warrensburg-Latham Schools are hoping to reach alumni that have gone on to bigger better things since high school. Superintendent Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle explains they'd really like to highlight their graduates who have gone on to serve in the military.
Dr. Kendrick-Weikle indicates graduates don't necessarily have to have gone on to own Fortune 500 companies or be professional athletes, though the school does have some graduates that have experienced high levels of success.
Graduates who have persued careers of all types are encouraged to get in touch with district officials. Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says they are hoping some graduates would be willing to come back and discuss with their students what they have studied or what their careers involve.
If you're an alum of Warrensburg-Latham and you'd like to tell your story, contact Dr. Kendrick-Weikle by phone at 217-672-3514 or email her email@example.com.
Will Eastern Illinois University trim down the number of majors it offers?
David Glassman President of EIU says that may be the case, and it isn’t tied to the lack of state funding. It is tied to declining enrollment at the campus – which indirectly might be tied to concerns about state funding.
The school is considering doing away with the bachelor’s in Africana studies, philosophy, adult and community education and career and technical education.
A master’s in Special Education is also up for being cut.
The EIU Board of Trustees will make the final decision – possibly in April.
On Tuesday we saw a run up in commodity prices, especially in soybeans.
This time of year news out of South America often drives bean prices, and Jim Bower of Bower trading says heavy rains, and flooding, in soybean growing areas did help drive the markets higher.
But flooding in South America is only part of the story, Bower says 2017 may bring increased volatility and perhaps increased prices as the stock market seems to have topped out, interest rates remain low, and economic growth lingers at around 2%.
Recognizing that demand remains strong and we can’t assume a repeat of excellent growing conditions in 2017, commodities have the potential for price gains this year, and that’s starting to attract a lot of investment money.
While we could have another bumper crop that puts a lid on prices, the big investment funds are starting see more upside potential than downside risk and an inflow of funds can push prices higher.
Is the grand compromise dead? The combined effort of the Illinois Senate Democrats and Republicans was cooled off Wednesday by Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration.
His office of Management and Budget estimated that the Senate spending plan and tax hike would leave the state $4.3 billion short. Rauner was quick to sidestep any direct comment on the findings, preferring to take the stance that he’s staying out of the negations.
The Senate still has to have their compromise bills to that need to be heard in committee. They say that will take all the analysis and review it to see if changes need to be made.
With a seat on the U-S Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, U-S Senator Tammy Duckworth peppered President-elect Trump's nominee to head the federal E-P-A with questions about his resolve to uphold the federal renewable fuels standard.
Duckworth says she's not convinced Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will do so;
The so-called R-F-S requires certain percentages of fuel to be blended with ethanol made mostly from corn and diesel with biodiesel made largely from soybean oil.
On the controversial E-P-A waters of the U-S rule, Pruitt gained some praise from committee members for opposing what some say regulates ditches and ponds;
Pruitt vowed to restore what he called "...a rule of law mentality" at the federal agency if he's confirmed.
Tax time is coming up and employers have changes to keep up with.
This year they will have to file withholding returns on a quarterly basis and not an annual one says Department of Revenue’s Terry Horstman. The changes are to better combat fraud and increase accuracy.
The Department of Revenue announced that personal filings will be taken starting on Monday (January 23)
Sometimes the small victories give hope to a larger problem.
That might best describe the opioid epidemic faced locally. Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says it is a problem that will continue to be battled in Clinton and DeWitt County, but those on the front lines are starting to see the effects of recent efforts to combat the problem.
The DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition was formed to help combat the heroin epidemic locally. While the Chief recognizes the challenge is exceptional, the connection with Tim Ryan's foundation has been a great resource.
Chief Lowers issued an offer to anyone battling addiction, when they were ready for help, they could bring their drugs and paraphernalia to the police department, and without questions asked, the police would help any individual find help. He notes, that is an offer that still stands.
Opioid addiction can often start with a simple prescription pain killer and then snowball into an a terrible habit. Chief Lowers points out, the Clinton Police Department continues to offer their prescription drug disposal program through the DEA. He says it applies to any unused prescription drugs, not just opioids.
Chief Lowers says the perception of those addicted to opioids has to change from them being 'addicts' or 'junkies' to viewing them as broken people who need help.
Add Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles to the list of Superintendents calling out the State of Illinois for its claims of fully funding education.
Pictured Right: Superintendent Nettles (far left) discusses the state funding situation Tuesday night.
Tuesday night at the monthly Board of Education meeting, the district's leader pointed out the State owes the district more than three-quarters of a million dollars, with some of that still from the last fiscal year.
Nettles explains the general state aid checks are coming on time and are being fully funded, however, the quarterly payments for things like transportation and special education are very behind at this time.
In a recent meeting with the State's Superintendent, Nettles indicates the state is planning to make all general state aid through the end of the year.
Nettles says it's not out of the question for the state to owe the district a million dollars by the end of the fiscal year in June.
The Board of Education Tuesday night approved the sale of the former Washington School site.
We have passed the midpoint of winter. Days are getting a little longer, and average temperatures are starting to slowly creep higher.
After last weekend’s round of colder weather and ice, we now have a flow of gulf air that will keep us ten to twenty degrees above normal for the next week.
That’s Eric Schmidt of EJS weather. He says the mild temperatures should last until near the end of the month, and even into the first part of February no major winter storms or cold outbreaks are in the forecast.
A little good weather news from Eric Schmidt of EJS weather.
Friday the Governor will not be at the inauguration.
Bruce Rauner says its’ not a problem for him or the state that he won’t be going and that existing relationships inside the Trump administration will benefit the state.
Rauner says he’d like to see the federal government relax regulations, invest in public infrastructure and wants to see reforms to the affordable care act.
A nod to the history of Illinois will be given on Friday at the inauguration of Donald Trump.
It was announced that he will use a bible tied to Abraham Lincoln as he takes the oath of office. Trump will use both a Lincoln bible and a personal one.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts will do the swearing in.
The interest in establishing the increasingly popular brew pub business is taking off in Clinton and with that in mind, the Clinton City Council plans to act accordingly.
City Administrator Tim Followell indicates the Clinton City Council is establishing language for brew pub establishments locally. Followell says the language has yet to be established in Clinton.
Followell indicates in the last year, there has been some interest in establishing a brew pub by a couple different individuals. He says it would be exciting to have something new in the community.
The codes will go on file for consideration at tonight's Clinton City Council meeting and then will be voted on Monday, February 6.
Ushering in 2017 was also ushered in for chages for a government program's website to be more user friendly.
Jack Myers with Social Security indicates recent changes were made to the Social Security website for people to be able to conduct more business with Social Security online. One of the recent changes is the ability to file appeals for non-medical issues.
Myers says you can upload documentation to support your claim in the appeal process. Myers also indicates that you can file an appeal electronically more quickly.
Myers informs that the "Application Status" feature has now been moved into the mySocial Security portal and no longer requires a separate confirmation number.
The new "Application Status" feature also provides re-entry numbers for in-progress online applications and contains detailed information about the current status of the application or appeal.
For more information on Social Security, visit their website www.socialsecurity.gov.
With increased attention on nitrogen and phosphorus loss from farmland, often through field tiles, the upcoming Illinois Association of Drainage Districts annual meeting takes on increased relevance to land owners.
This year meeting is this Thursday and Friday, January 19th and 20th. Dick Lyons of the Assoc of Drainage Districts, says the emphasis this year will be on the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.
The conference is designed for all landowners who are in a drainage district.
Dick Lyons. You do not need to pre-register, walk ins are welcome. The conference, again, is this Thursday and Friday, Jan 19th and 20th . The program begin at noon of Thursday and runs all day Friday with a packed agenda.
For more information go to WWW.IADD.info. The conference will be at the Doubletree Hotel and Conference center in Bloomington.
Schools and daycares will have to start testing for lead in the drinking water.
The Governor signed the bill yesterday which mandates testing for elementary schools built before 1987. Those tests’s need to be complete before the end of the year and State Rep. Heather Sterns says once the results are back they become public.
The testing is a reaction to the on-going water crisis in Flint Michigan.
An official with a group the founders of Facebook and Microsoft created to push for immigration reform says it won't happen without some sort of action by the new Congress and President to secure the border with Mexico. Mark Delich (DEL-itch) believes, real or perceived, something will need to happen;
Delich spoke at the recent American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Phoenix and told a packed audience that some farmers might not see any relief soon in finding foreign, temporary workers. Many industries such as agriculture rely on temporary workers for jobs native-born Americans just don't want to do, like detassling corn or picking fruits and vegetables;
DEL-itch, with the group F-W-D-dot-U-S, says the United States already spends $20 billion dollars a year for border security. He envisions the use of more drones and remote sensing as at least two ways border security might increase.
No injuries were reported in a late morning fire in Clinton Sunday.
Fire crews were called out just after 11 am Sunday morning to 122 Edgewood Trailer Court for a fire.
Upon arrival, it was discovered fire emerging from a window on the structure and smoke from the others.
Crews extinguished the blaze from the exterior within a few minutes. Fire damage was contained to the bedroom and nearest hallway, however the structure sustained major smoke damage.
No injuries were reported.
The fire is under investigation through the State Fire Marshall's office.
Crews from Clinton, Wapella and Kenney were on scene. Maroa was called off when the blaze was extinguished.
Crews were on scene roughly an hour and a half. The Red Cross assisted at the scene.
There's still time to get your spot at the annual Clinton Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner.
The annual event is a culmination of the previous year while kicking off the new year for the Clinton organization that is instrumental in several major community events. Executive Director Marian Brisard says this year's event is January 28 at the Clinton Country Club.
The night features a catered meal, this year provided by the Country Club, and an auction and live entertainment.
Tickets are still available for the event. To reserve your spot, contact the Clinton Chamber of Commerce by calling 217-935-3364.
The event again is January 28 at the Clinton Country Club with a social hour and check in at 5 pm and the event officially getting underway at 6 pm.
The future is now for a local agency in charge of emergency response.
Next Generation 9-1-1 was first introduced by CENCOM three years ago, and now its Coordinator, Tony Harris, says they must become compliant with Next Generation 9-1-1 standards thanks to legislation from Springfield.
Harris sees the need for a more interactive 9-1-1 as the world shifts to a more digital time. He indicates anything from a picture or video sent to 9-1-1 could be used to report emergencies or even criminal activity.
The first step for DeWitt County to become Next Generation 9-1-1 compliant would be to purchase a new radio console. Harris plans on sharing the new console with the Piatt County 9-1-1 center.
An exact cost for the Next Generation 9-1-1 system is not exact yet but Harris projects it to be very expensive. He hopes they can get the cost down by sharing equipment with Piatt County.
It’s going to be up for a vote now, whether or not members of the state’s largest employee union want to strike. AFSCME sent a letter to members today telling them that locals in the union will begin holding strike authorization votes starting at the end of the month. AFSCME has never gone on strike against the state and the union was clear that even a vote approving a strike doesn’t mean one will happen. But union leadership noted the authorization vote needed to happen now after the Rauner administration dismissed a union lead opening to further negotiate a new contract.
The Governor’s office General Counsel responded and says that AFSCME has rushed to authorize a strike and it’s disappointing that AFSCME refuses to respect the state labor board’s bipartisan ruling.
ILLINOISANS ARE ENCOURAGED TO HONOR MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR MONDAY BY VOLUNTEERING.
WHAT BETTER WAY TO CELEBRATE THE MAN WHO ASKED “WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR OTHERS?” SAYS SERVE ILLINOIS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SCOTT MCFARLAND.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR DAY IS THE BIGGEST SERVICE DAY OF THE YEAR SAYS SERVE ILLINOIS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SCOTT MCFARLAND. HE SAYS IT’S EASY TO FIND WAYS TO HELP OUT.
VISIT THE WEBSITE: SERVE DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV TO FIND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES NEAR YOU THIS MONDAY AND ALL YEAR LONG.
THE ILLINOIS BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION IS STARTING TO MAKE PLANS FOR THE STATE’S 200TH BIRTHDAY.
GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER WELCOMED THE LARGE GROUP TO THEIR FIRST MEETING IN SPRINGFIELD, URGING THEM TO REALLY BRAINSTORM ON HOW TO BEST CELEBRATE THE OCCASION.
THE COMMISSION IS MEETING FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SPRINGFIELD, CHARGED WITH PLANNING WAYS TO CELEBRATE ILLINOIS’ HISTORY, PEOPLE AND PROGRESS. GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER WELCOMED THE GROUP AND URGED THEM TO COME UP WITH ALL KINDS OF IDEAS.
RAUNER SAYS THE BIRTHDAY ACTIVITIES WILL BEGIN IN DECEMBER, RECOGNIZING THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF ILLINOIS’ ADMISSION TO THE UNION.
THE GOVERNOR ALSO UNVEILED THE OFFICIAL BICENTENNIAL LOGO, WHICH FEATURES THE STATE IN NAVY WITH A GOLD SUNBURST INSIDE AND THE NUMBER 200. IT’S SURROUNDED BY 21 GOLD STARS SYMBOLIZING ILLINOIS AS THE 21ST STATE TO JOIN THE UNION.
ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS IS EXPANDING HIS FIGHT AGAINST LIFE INSURANCE COMPANIES THAT DON’T PROPERLY PAY OUT DEATH BENEFITS.
LAST YEAR TREASURER FRERICHS SPEARHEADED A LAW REQUIRING INSURERS TO USE THE FEDERAL MASTER DEATH FILE TO ENSURE A POLICY HOLDER HASN'T DIED. NOW HE WANTS TO REQUIRE COMPANIES TO LOOK THROUGH THEIR OLD RECORDS TO MAKE SURE NO ONE WAS MISSED AND BENEFITS ARE DUE. HE EXPECTS SOME OPPOSITION.
THE TREASURER CHAMPIONED A LAW LAST YEAR THAT REQUIRES INSURERS TO MATCH POLICY HOLDERS AGAINST THE FEDERAL DEATH MASTER FILE, TO MAKE SURE BENEFICIARIES RECEIVE THEIR BENEFITS. HE’S NOW PUSHING A BILL MANDATING COMPANIES CHECK THEIR FILES FOR ANY OLD BENEFITS THAT WERE NEVER PAID. IT’S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT MARTWICK OF CHICAGO WHO SAYS INSURERS NEED TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
THE LEGISLATION REQUIRES INSURERS TO LOOK THROUGH RECORDS BACK TO 1996.
Parts of Illinois are under an ice storm warning until Sunday. After the weekend, temperatures will be warmer. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more...
The State Climatologist recommends checking local forecasts instead of phone apps to track the freezing rain and ice storm.
With dicey weather expected this weekend, local authorities are reminding residents, safety needs to be the number one priority during inclement weather.
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says the best advice is to give yourself plenty of time when traveling and make sure there is plenty of distance between vehicles when traveling.
The loss of power is always a possibility when discussing ice coming into the area. Chief Lowers says retaining heat in the home and coolness in appliances should be a point of emphasis in the event of power loss.
In the event the temperature in your home drops after power loss, Chief Lowers says it might be a good practice to let the faucets in your home stay a slow drip so pipes do not freeze.
He also recommends making sure there is plenty of food and water available if the power outage is extended.
STATE POLICE AND TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS ARE WARNING ABOUT POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ROAD CONDITIONS THIS WEEKEND.
WITH ICE AND SLEET EXPECTED, IT COULD GET UGLY. THAT’S WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO KEEP A FEW THINGS IN MIND BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT SAYS I-DOT SPOKESPERSON KELSEA GURSKI.
GURSKI SAYS I-DOT CREWS HAVE ALREADY BEEN OUT PRE-TREATING BRIDGES, OVERPASSES AND RAMPS.
IF YOU BECOME STRANDED, STATE POLICE ADVISE STAYING IN YOUR CAR WITH THE SEATBELT UNTIL HELP ARRIVES. TROOPERS RECOMMEND MAKING SURE YOUR CELL PHONE IS FULLY CHARGED BEFORE HEADING OUT AND HAVING AN EMERGENCY KIT IN YOUR CAR.
House Speaker Michael Madigan says the woes suffered by Illinois colleges and universities with the budget impasse are impacting Illinois in ways beyond hardship for students.
In his Wednesday remarks after being sworn in for a 17th term as Speaker, Madigan says Illinois is seriously damaging key economic engines.
Madigan notes companies are flocking to states like California despite the high cost of doing business. He says one reason is investment in its higher education system.
Senator Dick Durbin has reached across the aisle for an ally in his effort to protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children from deportation.
Durbin fears the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could be discontinued under the Trump Administration. The BRIDGE Act would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to undocumented youth. Durbin hopes a conversation starts soon on the greater issue.
Companion legislation has been filed in the US House with Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez as a co-sponsor.
The annual WHOW Hometown Tour Spotlight took us to Monticello Thursday morning for a one-hour live broadcast with local civic leaders.
Monticello Mayor Larry Stoner says 2017 should be a big year in their community in Piatt County. Mayor Stoner says a new brew-pub, construction beginning for a new waste-water treatment facility and development of open acreage for recreation are some of the things to come in 2017.
Law enforcement in Monticello is very active. Police Chief John Carter says they recently started their own 'Shop With A Cop' program, which is done internally and is fundraised for by the department. He hopes to continue to grow that program this year but also fully staff his department over the course of the year.
Director for Economic Development in Monticello, Callie McFarland explains downtown Monticello is garnering a lot of interest from potential business owners. She says that is a great thing, but the city will soon face the challenge getting their buildings up to code to allow economic development to happen there.
Monticello High School is one of the highest achieving schools in the area and their Principal, Tip Reedy says the community does a great job in supporting the school and making learning a priority for its youth.
Reedy adds the student body achieves beyond the classroom as well. This fall, the high school football squad was a win away from a state finals appearance. They lost to the eventual state-champs, Elmhurst IC Catholic.
Additionally, he points out the marching band had a wildly successful fall season and their cross country program, again, had a great season in 2016.
One of the first orders of business for the Illinois Senate, as it began the 100th General Assembly, was to institute a term limits rules.
Starting this year, Senate leaders are now limited to serving only ten years. State Senator Chapin Rose did not let up when it comes to blaming House Speaker Mike Madigan for the state's situation.
Sen. Rose calls the legislation unprecedented and calls on the House of Representatives to follow suit.
The Senate's term limits are only applied to leadership positions and the rule goes into effect starting this year.
An overloaded power strip in a Clinton apartment is the cause of an early Wednesday morning fire.
Crews were called to the 1400 block of East North Street in Clinton where an apartment unit above a garage was on fire.
Fire officials indicate heavy fire was seen inside the unit, which was vacant at the time of the fire.
The fire was put out within ten minutes, the battle was then hot spots across the complex and was contained to just the apartment.
An investigation done by Clinton Fire and the Illinois Fire Marshall's, determined there was $30-thousand damage.
No injuries were reported.
Crews were on scene for about three hours. Crews responded from Clinton, Kenney and Wapella and Clinton Police were on scene for traffic control.
The first year of the 'Parents Academy' program at Blue Ridge Schools has taken off with great success.
Superintendent Susan Wilson says the forums invite parents of the district to come learn about topics in the school today. She says not only have the academies been well attended, they have been well received.
Technology is the focus of the next Parents Academy next Thursday night. Wilson says there will be topics ranging from cyber-bullying to cyber-security to technology in the classroom.
A light supper is included in the parents academy starting at 5:45 pm, set for next Thursday night, January 19. The program start time is approximately 6:15 pm.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes will provide child care during the event.
For more information and to RSVP, visit blueridge18.org.
Congressman Rodney Davis has long been critical of the Environmental Protection Agency's overreach in the last eight years and believes things could change under Donald Trump.
Congressman Davis says the EPA has wanted to push an agenda in recent years and has hindered America's progress in the country's ability to be competitive.
In 2017, Congressman Davis hopes to address clean energy policies in America. He says nuclear energy has to be a part of the policy as it is one of the cleanest forms of energy available.
Congressman Davis says he will be making his way throughout the area this year to talk with farmers about ag policy and product shipments as a new farm bill deadline looms.
The Governor wants term limits for all lawmakers but right now the Senate says let’s start with leadership.
The Senate voted to limit Democrat and Republican leaders to no more than 10 years in those spots. Republican Minority Leader Christine Radogno says it’s a good first step.
The limits would begin with current terms.
Perhaps at no other time in his decades long career at the Statehouse has Mike Madigan ever had the name recognition he has now.
He’s been public enemy number one to Governor Bruce Rauner and yet after millions spent in elections invoking his name to try and defeat Democrats but he’s been reelected as the Speaker of the House for a 17th time.
But Republicans, including House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, aren't backing down from laying blame at the states condition at his feet.
All the current leaders received enough votes to be reelected to their current posts.
Illinois farmers argued successfully before the nation's largest farm organization to keep federal nutrition programs together with risk management and conservation programs for farmers.
Some 80-percent of the U-S Department of Agriculture's budget goes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as "SNAP," or food stamps, while only 20 percent is used for crop insurance, conservation and other programs to help farmers.
Altona farmer David Erickson, who serves as vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, argued to keep the programs together at the American Farm Bureau Federation's convention this week in Phoenix;
The federal nutrition and farm program comes up for renewal next year. Illinois farmers such as Jeff Kirwan of New Windsor, who also served as a voting delegate to the national farm group's annual meeting, explained the need for both;
The Illinoisans' argument proved successful, as farmers from other states agreed on the need for the rural-urban coalition on a new federal farm bill to continue.
With the recent closing of the Peoria Union Stockyards, livestock producers lost the last major open outcry auction of livestock in Illinois.
While most hogs and cattle these days are sold by contracting directly to packers, livestock producers like Brian Duncan of Ogle county could use the sale prices at Peoria to determine if they were getting a fait market price for their animals.
Today, Duncan markets up to 70 thousand hogs a year. He is paid by the processor by what is called ‘formula pricing’. The price is set by what the packers have to pay other producers for their hogs. Duncan says these prices are reported, but without the open outcry markets like Peoria, where supply and demand determined prices, livestock producers often wonder if they are getting fair compensation for their animals.
While Duncan says raising hogs can still be profitable, barring disease outbreak or other production problems, todays lack of marketing opportunities through stockyards like Peoria can make is difficult for small, startup operations to get into the livestock production business.
Clinton Fire Crews were called to a small fire at a rural DeWitt County home late Tuesday.
Just before 7 pm, crews were called to 1524 East Route 54. Upon arrival, it was discovered a couch had caught on fire and the homeowner had gotten the couch mostly outside.
Crews extinguished the fire without incident in a swift manner.
Fire officials indicate there was only minor smoke and fire damage to the interior of the home, with most of the damage being smoke.
An occupant of the home was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital in Bloomington for minor injuries.
Clinton Fire called off mutual aid upon arrival after arrival to the scene. Kenney was on stand by at Clinton Fire Station during the call.
If you're a parent and think the mentoring of an older youth might benefit your child, a local organization is hoping you'll consider letting them join their program.
The school based program for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters pairs high school students with youth in the grade schools as mentors. Lauren Hutton with BBBS in DeWitt County indicates she has a couple of Clinton High School students in need of a match.
Hutton explains the 'bigs' will meet up with their 'little' once a week and they can do anything from hang out at recess to be in the library on the computers.
'Littles' in the program generally come from the first grade level all the way up to the sixth grade level. Hutton says they also try to target upper-classmen at the high school to keep the age difference a little more separated.
To get more information on the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, contact Hutton at 217-935-1234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The State of Illinois has touted funding education fully in 2016-17, however, area school leaders say that is somewhat misleading.
The state is fully funding education, however, as Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools, Mike Williams, points out, they are funding education at 2008 levels and are very behind on mandated categorical payments.
According to Williams, the state is as far behind as last year and adds up to roughly $225-thousand. He notes that is not a problem unique to Maroa-Forsyth, every district that relies on mandated categorical payments is in this situation.
The reserves at Maroa-Forsyth are dwindling and Williams says that is not putting the district in a good spot for if funding in the future does not get better.
There are many areas the lack of mandated categorical money can impact a district. For Maroa-Forsyth Schools, transportation vehicles are getting older and Williams says the expenses for those have been put on hold so they can maintain the level of educating students. Williams points to their buses as just one area of immediate impact.
While all the political attention has been focused on Washington this week, the Illinois General assembly wrapped up a two day lame duck session, and Wednesday the new legislative session will begin.
In the lame duck session, the two senate leaders floated a proposed budget bill. Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau’s director of state legislation says the bill was kind of a trial balloon for an actual budget bill.
Any budget bill needs to be signed by the Governor, and Semlow says that will only happen if the bill includes key provisions of Gov. Rauner’s ’Turn Around Agenda’.
Meanwhile, lacking a new budget, or an extension of additional emergency funding provisions, Higher Education and Social Service agencies contracting with the state continue to struggle without funding.
State Senator Bill Brady is pleased to see progress toward a state budget. The Bloomington Republican says the lack of a normal spending blueprint has caused more problems than overdue bills alone.
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno also wants to avoid another period of stopgap budgeting, saying on Twitter "Stop gaps just don't cut it".
New testing protocol is coming to the state’s schools and daycares. They will now have to test for lead in drinking water.
State Rep Heather Sterns from Chicago says the bill is clear cut and works to avoid the troubles Flint Michigan found in their water supply.
Lawmakers approved the bill this week. The testing will apply to schools built before 2000 and those that have pre-k through fifth graders.
Senator Dick Durbin is calling for Republican colleagues to work with Democrats on a bipartisan plan to improve the health care system, instead of simply repealing Obamacare.
Durbin says the push to repeal offers no plan to help those who will lose insurance or protect those with pre-existing conditions.
A MULTI-STATE EFFORT TO CATCH HUNTERS TRYING TO GET CHEAPER PERMITS HAS NETTED MORE THAN 85 THOUSAND DOLLARS IN FINES AND RESTITUTION.
THE INVESTIGATION, DUBBED “OPERATION DOUBLE DIP” WAS CONDUCTED BY CONSERVATION POLICE OFFICERS IN ILLINOIS AND INDIANA OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS. STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON ED CROSS SAYS THEY TARGETED HUNTERS WHO FRADULENTLY APPLIED FOR IN-STATE PERMIT RATES.
MORE THAN 200 CASES OF DOUBLE DIPPING BETWEEN THE STATES WERE REPORTED IN ILLINOIS.
Lawmakers did accomplish a few things during the lame duck session.
One was a joint effort to reform parts of the criminal justice system in the state. State Rep Chad Hays of Danville says it’s a positive that inmates can earn good time credit while taking classes while locked up.
Victims of violent crime now get more support. And judges can take more discretion when sentencing drug offenders.
Lawmakers say the bill comes at no cost to the state.
A rollover crash on Route 10 in rural DeWitt County claimed the lives of two Decatur women.
DeWitt County Coroner Randy Rice indicates the rollover accident happened about two miles west of Weldon, near Friends Creek Road.
21-year-old Tabatha M. Dickson of Decatur was the driver of a 2003 Buick LeSabre. The westbound vehicle left the the roadway and rolled several times.
Dickson was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:05 am.
The second passenger, identified at 20-year-old Hannah Rice, was transported to Carle Hospital in Champaign, where she was pronounced dead at 5:29 am.
The search for the next football coach of the Clinton High School is underway.
Superintendent Curt Nettles indicates roughly 20 applications were received with personal interviews conducted initially and over the course of the next week, a second round of interviews will take place in front of a committee.
Success of the program is the ultimate goal in finding the next coach. Nettles indicates success can be determined a number of different ways but does note, they hope to have a program that wins football games.
Nettles would not outline who the final candidates are for the job.
Coach John Hayden resigned the position late last year, a year after leading the team to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
Residents in Lincoln will notice their tax bills lowered this year thanks to the City of Lincoln lowering their levy for the year.
Lincoln Mayor Marti Neitzel says it's a message the to citizens that leaders are thinking of them and want to thank them for their support. Mayor Neitzel adds it is also a result of good budgeting across the community.
According to the Mayor, the Lincoln City Council decided to decrease the levy rather than leave the rate the alone and put the extra funds into the pension system in the community.
Around $50-thousand is the revenue lost from the levy decrease but Mayor Neitzel indicates, the city will still be in good shape.
The Mayor notes the video gambling taxes could a be a source of revenue in 2017 that would make up for the $50-thousand going back into the community. She says it will work itself out and is confident the City will end up with another strong budget.
State Representative Jack Franks is down to his final hours as a lawmaker.
He has never been shy about going his own way.
It was Franks who led a Monday press conference railing against a budget deal and income tax hike during the lame duck session.
Franks is leaving the legislature after winning the role of McHenry County Board Chairman.
Illinois does have many things to be proud of, and yes, a national organization agrees.
The American Farm Bureau Federation honored Illinois farmers Grant and Kristen Strom (STRAHM) with the group's young farmer program achievement award. Grant Strom describes the family farm in Knox County;
Strom's wife Kristen grew up in suburban Chicago, but she's now an active partner on the farm and in the community. The farm couple have three young children;
The Illinois farm family beat out competitors from 28 other states to win the young farmer achievement award at the national Farm Bureau organization's convention taking place this week in Phoenix.
As talk of repealing Obamacare intensifies in Washington, Congressman Darin LaHood is offering his thoughts.
The Peoria Republican has little doubt the Affordable Care Act will soon get the boot by the US House.
LaHood says simply repealing Obamacare won't address America's health care concerns.
LaHood has begun his first full term in office.
It’s a massive lift but the Illinois Senate tried to fix a number of problems around the state all at once. But the process can be slow in Springfield and for now the bills behind fixing Illinois budget stalemate will wait.
There wasn’t enough time for the Senate to craft, pass and move bills to the House for their consideration by the time the lame duck session ended this week. But Senate President John Cullerton says it can be done.
The proposed bills the Senate worked on included a spending plan, term limits for legislative leaders, tax increases and one more shot at pension reform.
Can the Illinois Senate be the place where compromise rules and the state’s lawmakers find a way to appease the Governor and his turn around agenda and also protect democratic principals in the budget?
That’s still an unknown but the Senate has a number of proposed bills that reform and alter much of Illinois policy. From the state’s minimum wage, to pension law and income taxes. Republican Minority Leader Christine Radogno says the proposals are what happens when both sides come together.
The Senate has committee time ahead for hearings on the bills and then they will work to have them voted on and passed in February.
Many of the same precautions given during the summer months for seniors should also be followed for the winter months.
Sissy Leggett, Executive Director of the DeWitt County Friendship Center in Clinton says staying hydrated is something seniors should really focus on during the winter months. It's not just advice for the summer.
Legget also notes this is the heart of the cold and flu season. She encourages seniors to frequently wash their hands and the Friendship Center also has hand sanitizers at each of their tables.
Winter travel can be especially hazardous and Leggett encourages every senior to put together a winter safety kit for the vehicles that includes water, a blanket, candles and cat litter for traction and extra weight.
Leggett also encourages avoid overexertion shoveling snow and get inside for a break frequently. She says shoveling snow in cold temperatures can be a strain on the heart.
US Congressman Rodney Davis says the American people have given the Republican party a chance to show America what they've got, and is hopeful the Republican controlled House and Senate and Republican president can deliver in the next four years.
Davis believes that President-elect Donald Trump will touch on many issues during his upcoming presidency that Republicans have plans to change.
Contrary to popular belief, Republicans already have a framework layed out for repealing Obamacare. Davis indicates that Obamacare was an addition to the preexisting health care laws.
Congressman Davis says that he has not heard the success stories of Obamacare from his constituents. Davis reports that many Central Illinois taxpayers saw an increase in their healthcare costs.
Davis indicates that Republicans will keep preexisting conditions and other working parts of Obamacare while trying to make healthcare coverage affordable.
Other issues Davis believes that a Republican controlled Washington will be able to accomplish include infrastructure and the EPA.
Is there really a grand bargain in the works for a state budget? Senate leaders seem to have been give the rope to negotiate on number of items outside of state spending and may just have a number of bills to bring to a vote.
Details are still sketchy but it appears that compromise between Senate Dem’s and Republicans might be found on spending, taxing, pension reform, gambling expansion and even workers compensation.
Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s hearing of progress.
The lame duck session at the Illinois Capitol begins on Monday.
Can the state really be close to ending a two year stalemate on a budget and other issues sounding state government? This weekend details of a grand bargain started leaking out of the Illinois Senate.
They include possible work abounds’ on tax increases, a short term property tax freeze and even changes to workers compensation. Governor Bruce Rauner has been pressing for some of those as part of his turn around agenda. For now he says its wait and see.
The lame duck session at the Illinois Capitol begins on Monday.
US Senator Dick Durbin recently met with President Obama and looked back at his time in the White House.
Durbin says they discussed many of the achievements of the past 8 years. But Durbin also reflected with the President on the start of his journey nearly a decade ago.
Whether you care for someone who has Alzheimer’s or someone close to you battles this horrible disease, a local community organization is hoping you'll take time in 2017 to find support.
The DeWitt County Friendship Center offers a free Alzheimer’s support group, the second Monday of each month at noon and Executive Director Sissy Leggett says it is a great resource.
Leggett says the group is a great place to find resources for whatever you might need and also provides caregivers and loved ones a place to voice their concerns or frustrations.
For more information on the Alzheimer's support group or any other support groups or activities at the DeWitt County Friendship Center, contact them at 217-935-9411.
SEVEN ILLINOIS COMMUNITY COLLEGES WILL SPLIT THREE MILLION DOLLARS IN EMERGENCY FUNDING AS THE BUDGET IMPASSE CONTINUES.
THE SCHOOLS INCLUDE ILLINOIS EASTERN COMMUNITY COLLEGES…KASKASKIA COLLEGE, LAKE LAND COLLEGE, JOHN A. LOGAN COLLEGE, REND LAKE COLLEGE, SHAWNEE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND SOUTHEASTERN COMMUNITY COLLEGE. THEY WILL EACH RECEIVE ABOUT 429 THOUSAND DOLLARS TO HELP PAY FOR ESSENTIAL OPERATIONS SAYS STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD SPOKESPERSON MATT BERRY.
THE SCHOOLS WILL EACH RECEIVE ABOUT 429 THOUSAND DOLLARS TO HELP PAY FOR ESSENTIAL OPERATIONS SAYS STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD SPOKESPERSON MATT BERRY.
THE MONEY COMES FROM LAST YEAR’S STOPGAP BUDGET.
GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS SIGNING A NEW LAW DESIGNED TO HELP ALLEVIATE THE SHORTAGE OF TEACHERS IN ILLINOIS.
THE LAW MAKES IT EASIER FOR OUT OF STATE TEACHERS TO TRANSFER THEIR LICENSE TO ILLINOIS BY STREAMLINING THE PROCESS. SENATOR DAVE LUECHTEFELD OF OKAWVILLE SAYS IT CAME ABOUT BECAUSE OF A NEED FOR MORE TEACHERS.
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS THE MEASURE REDUCES BUREAUCRATIC RED TAPE SO THAT IT’S LESS OF A HASSLE FOR OUT OF STATE TEACHERS TO TRANSFER THEIR LICENSE TO ILLINOIS.
SUPPORTERS SAY THAT MANY SCHOOLS IN ILLINOIS ARE HAVING TROUBLE FILLING CERTAIN TEACHER POSITIONS. THE MEASURE ALSO MAKES IT EASIER FOR PEOPLE TO WORK AS SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS.
AS LAWMAKERS ARE SET TO RETURN TO SPRINGFIELD NEXT WEEK…A POSSIBLE BUDGET DEAL IS BEING NEGOTIATED IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE.
THERE’S REPORTEDLY BEEN TALKS BETWEEN DEMOCRAT AND G-O-P LEADERS IN THE SENATE…AND GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS HE’S RECENTLY BEEN BRIEFED ON AN OUTLINE OF WHAT’S BEING CONSIDERED.
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS HE’S BEEN GIVEN AN OVERVIEW OF WHAT’S BEING DISCUSSED…AND SAYS HE’S HEARTENED THAT SOME PROGRESS IS BEING MADE ON KEY ISSUES.
ANY DEAL WOULD HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO SINCE IT WOULD HAVE TO BE APPROVED BY THE SENATE, AND THEN THE HOUSE. LAWMAKERS RETURN MONDAY FOR TWO DAYS OF THE LAME DUCK SESSION. THE NEW GENERAL ASSEMBLY WILL BE SWORN IN ON WEDNESDAY.
The Illinois Natural History Survey is on the front line of detecting harmful invasive species of plants, diseases and insects in Illinois. Kelly Estes of the Natural History Survey says there are hundreds of species of insects alone out there causing damage to crops, gardens and forest in Illinois.
To assist the professionals in detecting invasive species, the survey will hold First Detector Workshops at eight locations around Illinois from last January through February. The workshops are open to anyone, especially agronomists, foresters, gardeners, anyone working outdoors or in a field related to insects, plants and disease.
Again, check with your local extension office for more information on the invasive species detector workshops. The cost is 40 dollars, which includes lunch and materials, and continuing education credits are available for a variety of professionals.
2016 is in the books as the fifth warmest year, and the trend will continue with mild temperatures in the upcoming weeks. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more...
He almost never mentions him by name and now he won’t be attending the celebrations surrounding the inauguration of President Elect Trump.
Governor Bruce Rauner says that he’ll skip the parties in Washington D.C. The Governor says that he is focused on Illinois.
In the past Rauner has gone out of his way not to even use Trump’s name but did say after the election that he and Trump spoke and they will be able to work together.
The re-establishment of the search and rescue team in DeWitt County highlighted the year for the group, now they hope to make strides in 2017.
Teresa Barnett, liaison for the group through the Emergency Management Agency, explains the group helps in search and rescue operations locally and across the state.
Alex Villanueva is the team's Captain and explains the group getting their 501C3 designation as a non-profit should allow them to gain momentum in rallying funds for their operations.
Villanueva says the yearly budget for the Search and Rescue team is roughly $3000, which is why the non-profit designation is a big deal for the group.
To learn more about the Search and Rescue team of DeWitt County, contact the Emergency Management Agency office of DeWitt County, by calling 217-935-7790.
Clinton's First National Bank merger with the TS Banking Group will likely come with minimal noticeable changes.
That's according to Vice-President of the Bank, Josh Shofner. indicates current customers will maintain current bank account numbers, checking information and online banking information.
Bank customers will eventually notice and increase in the technology offerings through First National Bank. Shofner indicates the most noticeable changes will be more options available to their online banking features.
President of Community Banking for TS Bank, Neil Stanley, says TS Bank is not a big bank. While they are a small, community focused organization, he says they bring a lot to the table with technology not many other banks can.
Shofner indicates customers with questions will continue to contact First National Bank in Clinton. They do not have to call someone they are not familiar with in Iowa, their banking representatives remain the same.
The Children's Advocacy Center in 2016 was able to acquire a service dog, and that, according to their leader, was probably the highlight to 2016.
Pictured Right: Executive Director Judy Brucker (Left), Joc handler Stephanie Jewitt (middle), Joc (right).
Joc, the CAC's black lab, is a specially trained and licensed service dog that will help children in McLean County who are in the CAC system. Executive Director Judy Brucker says Joc changes the way they feel about the situation they face.
According to Brucker, a new partnership with McLean County allows for more clarity between the CAC and the fundraising arm of the organization, the Child Protection Network.
Brucker says they hope to strengthen the relationships and partnerships in place already and is hopeful they can expand their funding sources this year as well, thanks to more funding that could come available through the federal government.
2016 WAS THE FIFTH WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS.
THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE LAST YEAR WAS 54 POINT SEVEN DEGREES. THAT'S TWO POINT FOUR DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL.
ANGEL SAYS 2016 STARTED OFF WITH A WARM WINTER THANKS TO A STRONG EL NINO EFFECT.
PRECIPITATION LAST YEAR WAS ABOUT AVERAGE. ANGEL SAYS 2016 WOULD HAVE BEEN MARKED AS A DRY YEAR IF IT WEREN’T FOR RECORD RAINFALL IN JULY AND AUGUST.
Senator Richard Durbin has played an early role in vetting a key Cabinet nominee of President-Elect Donald Trump.
Durbin met Wednesday with Attorney General pick and fellow Senator Jeff Sessions. Durbin took on the subject of how the incoming administration will deal with Muslims after Trump pledged to keep Muslims from entering the country.
Durbin is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has called for an objective and thorough confirmation hearing.
There are crimes and behavior that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge that really happen in Illinois. And yet talking about it and realizing that it happens is a step to stopping it.
The Department of Children and Family Services note this is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. But if you want to stop the movement of children and others for sex work then be aware it happens says DCFS’ Veronica Reza.
If you suspect something is wrong – Reza says call police or the child abuse hot line at 1-800-25-ABUSE.
Retail locations and major shopping centers are trying to play catch up with online shoppers and changing habits.
Macys’ announced another round of store closings in the state, 3 more stores will be shuttered by the end of 2017.
Bloomington, Alton and Bloomingdale are on the docket to shut down.
The closings are part of 70 announced nationwide.
There was no official business to be conducted Tuesday night at the Clinton City Council meeting.
The meeting, Tuesday because of the observance of New Year's Day on Monday, was light in business but Mayor Roger Cyrulik updated the Council on the progress of the Spurgeon's building on the square.
Commissioner of Public Safety, Dan Ballenger, gave an update of the recent shop with a cop and shop with a fireman in coordination with the DeWitt County Angel Tree.
The Council will meet again Tuesday, January 17 due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday the 16th.
Little growth is how a statistical program looks at the state’s economic success last month.
The University of Illinois Economist who tracks the number, Fred Giertz says people spent more but they also took home a little less. However the trend to higher sales in December was a positive and not just tied to consumer spending.
The University of Illinois Flash Index showed a small advancement. The index – at 104.3 trended up just two-tenths of one point from November.
Anything above 100 shows growth, over all the score is a composite of personal spending, income and corporate earnings.
House Republicans turned a deaf ear to their top leaders and voted this week to take some of the bite out of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.
That office was launched in 2008 after corruption cases sent three members of Congress to jail. Congressman Darin LaHood disagreed with the vote, but the Peoria Republican differs with the message more than the result.
LaHood was sworn in for his first full term yesterday in Washington.
TS Banking Group has officially acquired the First National Bank and Trust Company of Clinton.
TS Banking Group is a joint venture between Treynor Bancshares, Inc., the bank holding company of Treynor State Bank (TS Bank), with banking assets of $430 million, and TS Contrarian Bancshares, Inc., the bank holding company of The Bank of Tioga (North Dakota), with banking assets of $330 million. TS Banking Group is headquartered in Treynor, Iowa, that is located in the Omaha, Neb. MSA.
TS Banking Group believes that through the creation of a multi-bank operating group TSBG can provide a high level of technology, risk management, and financial management to each community it serves while maintaining a community bank approach. It is TSBG’s main priority to preserve the “local touch” at each community bank by allowing the acquired bank to focus their efforts on serving their clients and communities where they are located.
First National Bank and Trust Company will retain its name and national charter with TS Banking Group assisting in the development of leading-edge banking technology for clients. An operational conversion will take place in June, that will include an updated website, online banking platform, mobile banking app, person to person mobile payments, mobile deposit capture, as well as remote deposit capture and cash management services for business clients. Additionally, TS Banking Group will provide Fiduciary Care and Investment Risk Management services with its new division, TS Prosperity Group.
There will be communication with clients in the future prior to any changes that will be made related to their current accounts, such as how to handle old check stock, debit cards, and internet banking logins.
An early New Year's gift arrived for one local organization trying to get back up on it's feet and gain momentum for the community.
It was close, but the DeWitt County Development Council reached their goal to raise $25-thousand in community support in a matching grant challenge through State Farm Bank. DCDC Board President Kevin Myers indicates it was hard work but the volunteer board was able to pull it off in a short amount of time.
According to Myers, the focus of the volunteer board has been so focused raising the money, a plan for the funds is still being worked out. He does note, they plan to market the county and provide opportunities to the investors who helped them reach their $25,000 goal.
Many think of development as bringing jobs to a community, but David Torbert, with the DCDC, says they also want to be a facilitator of resources for current businesses.
The DCDC will have to raise another $25,000 this year and next. While evaluating short term goals, Myers indicates they continue to evaluate their long term goals as well and how to bring in revenue once the grant money runs out in 2018.
The cause is up for debate but the numbers tell the story at the Illinois State Museum.
Attendance is down.
After being shuttered for 9 months the museum reopened with an admission fee of $5 for most adults, but figures show that tens of thousands fewer people are showing up.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says that since a July reopening more than 13,000 people have been in the building but that pales in comparison to the more than 61,000 during the same time in 2014. Not everyone has to pay to get in.
Anyone under 19, a military veteran, senior citizens and museum members don’t pay the admission fee.
One local school district is going to be offering their junior high students the opportunity to take high school classes for both junior and senior high credit.
Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle, Superintendent of Warrensburg-Latham Schools, indicates that eighth graders during the 2017-2018 school year will have the opportunity to take Algebra I and Spanish I.
Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says that students who are ready for higher thinking classes will be able to challenge themselves, and students will have the opportunity to take five years of math and Spanish.
Dr. Kendrick-Weikle believes this is a great program and helps to fulfill the school district's vision of being able to support and challenge each and every student.
Professionals in a new field will now be required to become more aware of how spot suspected domestic violence.
Starting on January 1 licensed beauty professionals have to take a course on the signs of domestic violence. The course will also be given to existing licensed professionals as part of a continuing education classes. Terry Hortsman with the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
The law will not require stylists and others to report anything they see to Police.
An Illinois woman will participate later this week in a national competition to determine who can best speak on issues about food and farming.
Lynn Doran (door-RAN) won the Illinois Farm Bureau's Young Leader Discussion Meet competition last month in Chicago. Now she'll be facing national competition at the American Farm Bureau convention in Phoenix. Doran says she inherited what she calls her "gift of gab" from her late father, who passed away when she was just 14 years old. They farmed in Wisconsin, and her dad also served as a county Farm Bureau president;
Doran discusses one of the issues she could be asked to address (food labeling) during the national competition later this week in Phoenix.
Doran makes artisan cheese and helps milk goats on a farm in Champaign County. She'll be competing with other young farmers and ag professionals who have won similar competitions in their states.
If you wanted to hunt turkey in Illinois but never have had the opportunity now might be the time.
The State Department of Natural Resources has added turkey hunting to the list of activities that you can do on private land. Ed Cross with the IDNR says the expanded opportunities will allow for more first time hunters being able to sight up turkey’s.
Kids are being given more chances to hunt turkey’s too. The youth hunting season is being expanded by two weekends.
The Illinois Department of Transportation recently announced it plans to test drones to do such things as monitor traffic, investigate accidents and inspect bridges. I-DOT Secretary Randall Blankenhorn says initial results have been promising;
The I-DOT chief says his agency used to be known as one of the most innovative among states. He's hoping the use of drones and other new technology might restore that stature;
Blankenhorn says other state agencies such as those that manage natural resources and emergencies have already asked I-DOT about its use of drones. He says he reminds Governor Rauner as much as he can that I-DOT is one state agency that usually touches all residents in some way on a daily basis.
Eighteen different projects organized by 22 different county Farm Bureaus in Illinois will collaborate with other local groups in a continued effort to improve water quality throughout the state.
Illinois Farm Bureau awarded nearly 100-thousand dollars in grants as part of an effort that will require rural and urban areas to address the issue. Lauren Lurkins serves as director of environmental and natural resources for the Illinois Farm Bureau;
It's all part of an effort to make continued progress on what's known as the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy required by the federal E-P-A. The ultimate goal is to reduce a so-called "hypoxic" or dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Lurkins says it will require action not only by farmers but urban wastewater treatment plans as well;
Chicago's treated waste water still includes some of the largest amounts of phosphorus making its way into Illinois streams and rivers. Its water reclamation district installed technology last summer to extract the nutrient from waste water and turn it into pellets that can potentially used as fertilizer on farm fields and other uses.
Taxes paid on a few items typically bought the drug store are coming down. Last year state lawmakers approved a measure to remove the general sales tax on items like adult incontinence products and tampons.
State Senator Melinda Bush says that those items are have to be used by either half the population or people that need to for medical reasons and they shouldn’t be taxed like other everyday items.
Illinois became the third state to reduce the tax on those needed items.
The turnout of over 500 to the City's inaugural concert on Mr. Lincoln Square was declared a success.
Tim Followell is the Clinton City Administrator and explains the first time around they felt like everything went very well despite the heat from the first concert for for Lauren Alaina, who Followell says was a terrific act for those in attendance.
Up and coming country performer Tara Thompson was on the Clinton Square in mid-September and was proclaimed as another success.
Other than the evening being a little chilly, the night could not have gone better. That's according to Tim Followell, Clinton City Administrator. He says once again there were minimal complaints for another great performer.
This was the first year in a series of concerts on a renovated Clinton Square from a couple years ago. Followell says in the first year, things went as well as they could ask and felt a lot of their concerns were put to rest.
The City is planning more concerts in 2017.
The new Clinton Save A Lot location is officially open as officials cut the ribbon on the new building of Washington Street in November.
Store owner Dave Jackson says it had been a long time in the making and had many to thank before the store opened it's doors for the first time to the public.
According to Jackson, the new store was almost completely built by local contractors. Jackson credits Dave Waters of Waters Construction with putting together a great team to get the work done.
Jackson indicates the Clinton Save A Lot store will be one of the chain's largest locations that spans 1400 locations and over 40 states.
The new facility is 40-percent larger than the former location.
In 2016, a crisis associated with big cities came to our own backyards as local leaders began to work together to inform the public of the spike in heroin overdoses in the community.
Clinton First Christian Church's Pastor Greg Taylor says when you think Clinton, Illinois, you think you are immune to those types of challenges. He says it came as a shock to him the struggle was in his backyard.
The churches in the Clinton and DeWitt County community have collaborated and pulled resources to create a documentary about the challenge locally. Pastor Taylor says it features testimonial from local residents who have overcome their own addictions.
DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner indicates the epidemic is as bad as he's seen in his time in DeWitt County.
The Sheriff indicates the issue presented with heroin is that it is becoming more potent and at the same time it is becoming more inexpensive.
The drug is taking it's toll on the community. Sheriff Shofner indicates one day a person may get a batch that won't kill them but that doesn't mean the next one won't.
Tim Ryan, a recovered addict from the Chicago area, shared his story of addiction and recovery with students in Clinton Schools in early November and then the community as a whole.
Ending more than a century of flops, futility and frustration, the Chicago Cubs won their first title since 1908, outlasting the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings of a Game 7 thriller early Thursday.
They even had to endure an extra-inning rain delay to end the drought.
All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman blew a 6-3 lead with two outs in the eighth when Rajai Davis hit a tying, two-run homer.
But the Cubs, after tormenting their fans one more time, came right back after a 17-minute rain delay before the top of the 10th.
Series MVP Ben Zobrist hit an RBI double and Miguel Montero singled home a run to make it 8-6. Davis delivered an RBI single with two outs in the bottom half, but Mike Montgomery closed it out at 12:47 a.m., and the celebration was on.
World Series favorites since spring training, Chicago led the majors with 103 wins this season.
Zobrist got a Series-high 10 hits, a year after he helped the Royals win the championship. Zobrist was among the players brought to the Cubs by Theo Epstein, the baseball guru who added another crown to his collection. He also assembled the Red Sox team that broke Boston's 86-year drought by winning in 2004.
Dexter Fowler homered on Corey Kluber's fourth pitch of the game, 23-year-old Javier Baez and the 39-year-old Ross - set to now retire - also went deep for the Cubs, who led 5-1 in the fifth inning and 6-3 in the eighth.
Chapman wound up with the win, and Montgomery got one out for his first save in the majors.
Bryan Shaw, who gave up a leadoff single to Kyle Schwarber in the 10th, took the loss in just the fourth Game 7 that went to extra innings.
Albert Almora Jr., pinch-running for Schwarber, alertly took second on Bryant's long fly to center. Rizzo was intentionally walked, and Zobrist slapped an opposite-field double past a diving third baseman Jose Ramirez. Montero singled to make it a two-run lead.
Then in the bottom half, Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Mike Napoli, Ramirez grounded out, Brandon Guyer walked and Davis hit an RBI single. Montgomery took over, and helped set off a wild celebration on Chicago's North Side.
The community showed up in full support of legislation that will allow the Exelon Nuclear Power Station in Clinton to remain open and viable.
Vice President of Clinton Power Station, Ted Stoner, says it was amazing to watch the General Assembly work to get the legislation passed. He thanked Representative Bill Mitchell and Senator Chapin Rose for their leadership in getting the bill through.
Governor Bruce Rauner says this bill received mass opposition but they were able to get it passed. He said it was about protecting good paying jobs in the state of Illinois.
The Governor also added, the bill would allow businesses to grow and thrive in Illinois, something his administration is committed to.
Communications Manager at the Clinton Power Station, Brett Nauman, called it a great day for DeWitt County and was very pleased with the turnout of the community.
State Sen. Chapin Rose 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.