LEAF PICKUP: TODAY, CITY CREWS WILL START WHERE THEY LEFT OFF IN ZONE 4 YESTERDAY AND MOVE IN TO ZONE 5.          
Local News

Clinton Fire Department's Recent Fundraiser Successful

A local volunteer fire department is celebrating another year of successful fundraising.
 
Jason Karr with the Clinton Fire Department indicates that the fire district raised close to $10,500 dollars going door to door asking for donations. Karr says that they also tested and gave residents smoke detectors.
 
 
Karr notes that the fire department begins its fundraising efforts in early February and continue until the entire fire district is covered.
 
 
The money raised from the recent fundraising efforts, will go towards purchasing new equipment and the training facility. Karr indicates that the training facility is the best form of training for firefighters of all experience levels.
 
 
Karr thanked the Clinton Eagles for their recent fundraising efforts that they donated to several local fire departments. 

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Clinton Landmark Opening For Weekend

A Clinton Landmark is gearing up for a big year in 2017 and things kick off this weekend.
 
The CH Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum has several milestones they are celebrating this year and Director Joey Woolridge indicates things start this weekend as they get set to open the Homestead for the year.
 
 
The focus of the tours will be on the architecture along with artifacts that are not often on display. Woolridge indicates they plan to tell the story of a Confederate soldier that once lived in the mansion.
 
 
The weekend is free for all to attend. Wooldridge indicates the Homestead will be open for tours Saturday, April 1 from 10 am to 5 pm then again Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. 

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Spring Trout Season Opens This Weekend

THE SPRING TROUT SEASON OPENS SATURDAY IN ILLINOIS.
 
THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES STOCKS MORE THAN 80 THOUSAND RAINBOW TROUT FOR THE SEASON EACH YEAR SAYS SPOKESPERSON ED CROSS.
 
 
CROSS SAYS SPRING TROUT FISHING IS A POPULAR PASTIME.
 
 
CROSS REMINDS ALL ANGLERS MUST HAVE A FISHING LICENSE AND AN INLAND TROUT STAMP UNLESS THEY ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 16, BLIND, DISABLED OR ON LEAVE FROM ACTIVE MILITARY DUTY. THE DAILY CATCH LIMIT IS FIVE TROUT.

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Rep. Scherer Wants To Expand Crossbow Use

State Representative Sue Scherer has unveiled legislation that will likely be music to the ears of hunters. 
 
The Decatur Democrat's legislation would give archery hunters the ability to use a crossbow without restrictions. 
 
Currently, only hunters 62 years of age or older or disabled residents can use a crossbow.

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Weaver Details Latest GOP Budget Planv

More state budget talks in Springfield. State Senator Chuck Weaver of Dunlap details the latest Republican proposal.
 
 
The state has been operating without a budget for two years. 

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Governor Addresses Ag Groups

A number of agriculture groups came to the state capitol to address issues important to the state’s biggest business and Governor Bruce Rauner briefly addressed the group. 
 
Rauner continued to push for term limits and a better business climate. But he also said that when he’s considering bills he always thinks of one group.
 
 
Rauner said that right now at a critical time in the state’s history and all the General Assembly wants to do is talk about raising taxes.

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Munger Critical of Mendoza's Handling of Lawmakers Paychecks

Comptroller Susana Mendoza is appealing a Cook County judge's ruling ordering that state lawmakers get paid and on time. 
 
Mendoza wants limited dollars going to the state's most vulnerable before lawmakers. Her predecessor Leslie Munger has rarely been on the same page as Mendoza, but she agrees with the decision. The agreement ends there.
 
 
Munger says Mendoza should have taken an additional step beyond appealing the ruling.
 
 
Mendoza issued her appeal through Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office Tuesday. Last week, the judge ruled in favor of lawmakers who sued Munger when she was Comptroller. 

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Efforts To Stamp Out Hate Continue

Illinois will continue to improve its anti-hate curriculum in schools. Today the Governor and state Education Secretary Beth Purvis say they will work with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to update their anti-hate school lesson plans. 
 
 
Officials say after a series of nationwide threats and attacks made to Jewish centers and on Jewish cemeteries they needed to refocus their efforts on education.

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Bustos Calls For Independent Investigation Into President's Russian Ties

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos calling for an independent investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin’s regime. 
 
 
Bustos made her remarks on the House Floor on Wednesday. 

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Exelon Celebrates 30 Years in Clinton At Business Expo

At Wednesday's Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, the Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power Station celebrated 30 years in the community with cake for attendees.
 
Brett Nauman is Communications Manager at the Power Station and indicates they were also celebrating the clean energy bill signed by the Governor at the same location the Business Expo was at, allowing them to remain in Clinton.
 
 
Besides celebrating with cake at the Expo, Nauman indicates they wanted to educate the community on the work they do from helping local groups financially to the man hours they put in at community parks and events.
 
 
Also at the Expo, Nauman says they were educating the public about the upcoming outage. He explains they bring the plant offline and it is not producing electricity as hundreds of additional staff come to town to work.
 
 
Exelon was among 50-plus vendors at the Wednesday afternoon Business Expo hosted by the Clinton Chamber of Commerce at Clinton High School. 

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Warner Hospital Keepining Tabs on Possible Health Care Changes

With possible health care changes on the horizon, Warner Hospital and Health Services has to prepare for what that could mean for their revenue.
 
Illinois is a Medicaid Expansion state under the Affordable Care Act, which allows the Warner Hospital to collect enhanced federal funding. CFO Donna Wisner reports that because the number of people on Medicaid grew, so did their funding.
 
 
On top of those funds, the hospital received an additional 21,250 dollars as a part of the Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.
 
 
The health care repeal and replace vote was canceled last Friday. Plans to move forward with the American Health Care Act have been put on hold.

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Area Entities Continue Searching For Resources To Help At-Risk Student Without Human Resource Center

The loss of the DeWitt County Human Resource Center last year has really put a hardship on several entities across DeWitt County, and even surrounding areas.
 
In an effort find what is available, a group of local entities is being assisted by Illinois State University to find out what is available to supplement the loss of HRC's services. According to Blue Ridge Schools Superintendent, Susan Wilson, the group has been meeting monthly for about a year calling themselves the DeWitt County Mental Health Forum. 
 
 
According to Wilson, the group has created a 'universal consent form'. She explains this streamlines the information from agency to agency.
 
 
Wilson adds, the group is working on a coordinated curriculum for social and emotional learning for K-8 students. She explains they are using research based practices for students.
 
 
Wilson indicates Tri-County Special Education Cooperative has been a big facilitator along with Warner Hospital and Health Services and the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department have been great facilitators in the cooperative.
 
She adds, Blue Ridge schools plan to survey students about their relationships with district staff to make sure students have someone to go to in times of need. 

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Western Illinois Farmer Discusses Farm Bill With White House Sub-Committee

A Western Illinois farmer gets an audience with the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. 
 
Ron Moore of Roseville is the President of the American Soybean Association. He spoke on the 2018 Farm Bill and the importance of crop insurance being a part of it.
 
 
And Moore also believes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP and commonly referred to as food stamps, should remain under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 
 
Moore was introduced by Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who serves on the House Ag Committee. The 2014 Farm Bill expires in September of 2018. 

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State Marks 10 Years of Smoke Free Areas

Has it really been that long? The state today marks 10 years since passing the Illinois Smoke Free Act. Banning the smoking of tobacco inside pubic areas and near entrances. 
 
A decade ago Senator Terry Link pushed to get his bill passed and now says it will hard to believe that we ever allowed people to smoke in restaurants, buildings and other public venues. 
 
 
Supporters of the past effort say that hospitalizations from asthma, heart attacks and C-O-P-D are down more than 20 percent in the same period of time.

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Rauner Proposes Expanding State Police Numbers

The Illinois State Police is celebrating 95 years of service and Governor Rauner wants to give the gift of new cadets.
 
 
With Chicago violence continuing to make national headlines, Rauner plans to deploy troopers north of I-80.
 
 
Rauner is declaring Saturday Illinois State Police Day in honor of the anniversary. 

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Proposal Would Change Regulations For Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

Legislation has been introduced in Springfield aimed at making changes to the regulations governing Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or “CAFOs”. 
The sponsor is Peoria State Senator Dave Koehler. He says the package of bills aren’t aimed at necessarily stopping them, but providing more transparency in the siting process.
 
 
Among the bills would be a registration process with the state and also requiring CAFOs to file a waste water management plan with the state. 

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Democrats, Republicans Find Consensus on 'Sustainability'

A poll of Illinois and other voters around the country shows that Democrats and Republicans mostly agree on one thing -- the importance of sustainability -- and farming as one of the most sustainable of all economic sectors. 
 
Washington, D-C-based Morning Consult (CON-sult), which conducts polls for the likes of Bloomberg and Politico, has found 75-percent of Democratic and 80-percent of Republican voters surveyed believe agriculture is sustainable. Pollster spokesman Tyler Sinclair;
 
 
Sinclair says 59-percent of those registered voter polled trust farmers to make the right decisions when it comes to environmental sustainability;
 
 
About two-thousand registered voters responded to the poll conducted last month on behalf of the American Farm Bureau.

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2017 Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo Recap

The 2017 Chamber of Commerce Business Expo went off without a hitch despite early afternoon rains.
 
Clinton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Marian Brisard indicates the Chamber Expo is a great chance for the business community to connect with potential clients and for the business community to connect with each other.
 
 
The Chamber had a contest during the Expo and was using social media as the driver. Brisard explains they wanted tech savy attendees to snap a picture at various booths and use a specific hash-tag to enter the contest.
 
 
Over 50 businesses came out for this year's Expo and according to Ed Cicenas, the Board President for the Clinton Chamber, the expo is a great opportunity for consumers to not only learn about businesses but learn about what is happening in the community.
 
 
As a part of live coverage on WHOW/WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com, several of the vendors and businesses were interviewed. Tune in to Regional Radio News in the coming days for details on the promotions and happenings across the community. 
 
 
 

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Clinton Business Expo Today

The Business Expo is today at the Clinton High School gym from 4-7 pm and Marian Brisard, Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, is hoping people from the surrounding area will join locals in learning about Clinton businesses.
 
The exhibitors will offer prizes and surprises for an anticipated 500 plus attendees. Some things returning this year are Zoo Lady and her Zoo Crew, balloon animals, and the free community shred.
 
 
The Chamber of Commerce has added something new and special to the agenda this year involving social media. Brisard explains bring your mobile device if you are coming to this year's event.
 
 
To check out the full list of exhibitors and learn more about what to expect, go to the Clinton Business Expo Facebook page.
 
Tune in for live coverage of the Expo from 3-5 pm on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and from 5-7 on 95.9 FM WEZC.

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DeWitt County Board To Investigate Energy Efficiency At County Building

Making the DeWitt County Building more energy efficient is the goal of an investigation being done by the DeWitt County Board.
 
A firm is analyzing everything from lighting to heating and air condition in the County Building and according to Terry Ferguson with the County Board, they hope to have enough energy savings through some improvements to pay for the project.
 
 
The firm has done their analysis and Ferguson indicates they plan to present to the property committee in April. He explains they are trying to bring the 30-year old facility up to energy standards of a newer building.
 
 
Ferguson says this is just in the preliminary investigative stages and a number for the cost and savings has not been determined, though he does anticipate having that as soon as April. 

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Durbin: GOP Needs To Deny Nucler Option on Gorsuch

Senator Dick Durbin revealed on the Senate floor today, that he will vote against Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Judiciary Committee and the Senate floor. 
 
Durbin also said the simple majority nuclear option should not come into play, based on the past words of the man indicating he may use it, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
 
 
Durbin says legal and constitutional issues are haunting the White House, so getting 60 votes is even more important...
 
 
Durbin maintains Gorsuch avoided critical questions during his testimony.

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Unity FB Coach Scott Hamilton Among HOF Class

The Illinois High School Football Coaches Association inducts its latest Hall of Fame class this weekend. Among the inductees is Tim Engebretson, who led United High School to a state title in 2004. He says the honor gives him a perfect time to reflect on his career.
 
 
The ceremony is Saturday at the University of Illinois. 
 
Other inductees include Ric Arrand, David Young, Scott Hamilton, Ken Joggerst, Dirk Smid, Brett Kooi, Tim Lafferty, Jerry Blew, Joe Ryan, Eric Michaelsen, Tom Vargos, Hal Chiodo and Antwyne Golliday, Sr.

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Petersburg Man Dies At Springfield Concert

Sunday night's incident involving two concertgoerswho fell into the orchestra pit at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois at Springfield has cost one of the victims his life. 
 
51-year-old John Kremitzki of Petersburg died Monday afternoon after falling with another concertgoer. 
 
No foul play is suspected. 
 
There is no word on the condition of the second victim who also fell. The preliminary cause of death is injuries from the fall into the pit area during the Brit Floyd concert. 
 
UIS Police are investigating.

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Madigan Accuses Rauner of False Statements

House Speaker Mike Madigan is accusing Governor Rauner of being loose on the facts. 
 
Madigan sent the Governor a letter today (Tuesday) claiming Rauner made "false statements" when he accused Madigan of blocking the sale of the state's Thompson Center office building in the Chicago Loop. 
 
Madigan described Rauner's comments as being "beneath you office". 
 
Rauner officials dismiss Madigan's complaints, saying he is making excuses for inaction on a state budget. 

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FFA Honoring Students For Work-Based Learning

Illinois FFA continues to honor students for their work-based learning. 
 
It’s called Supervised Agriculture Experiences and the organization recognized state proficiency winners in fifty different areas last weekend in Champaign. Nicholas Close of Aledo was tops in the state in the category of Diversified Crop Production Entrepreneurship.
 
 
Close, along with the 49 other state FFA winners, are now eligible to compete in the National FFA Awards Selection process in July. 

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Durkin Frustrated

Midway through the legislative session, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says the spring isn't bringing a sense of renewal to the process of hammering out a budget. He is especially disappointed with a lack of progress on pension reform.
 
 
Durkin is also concerned that some lawmakers seem to suffer from defeatism or something else.
 

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Rotary Hears From HOOAH Deer Hunt For Heroes

Last week on Regional Radio News, we told you about a fundraiser for the group Hooah Deer Hunt for Heroes and Tuesday afternoon, the Clinton Rotary Club heard from leaders of the group.
 
Brian Miller (left with Jeff Gaither, right) with the group explains they seek to help veterans that return from deployment with injuries, both seen and unseen, find a network of support through events like hunting and fishing.
 
 
Miller says when veterans return home with things like PTSD or IBD, those are the things people don't see that veterans need help with and their organization wants to do something to reduce the 22 daily suicides among veterans.
 
 
Hooah Deer Hunt for Heroes is based out of Stanford, Illinois. To get more information, visit hooahdeerhuntforheroes.com or email hooahdeerhuntforheroes@aol.com. You can also find them on Facebook. 

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DeWitt County Sheriff Announces Intent To Step Away From Public Service

DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner will not seek re-election after his term expires in 2018 and will step away from the office.
 
In an announcement made over the weekend on Facebook, Sheriff Shofner indicated he will not seek re-election and will step away from the Sheriff's office once his term expires. The Sheriff says it's just time for something new after 30 years in law enforcement.
 
 
The Sheriff calls it an honor to serve the DeWitt County community but says law enforcement has become a difficult job but knows he leaves the community in good hands with the staff of the Sheriff's office.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner will be on the WHOW morning show Thursday morning. Tune in on-air or online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Improvements Ahead For Warner Hospital

Some improvements are in store for Warner Hospital and Health Services.
 
The fiscal year 2018 budget was approved by the board at the meeting Monday evening. Donna Wisner, CFO of the hospital, reported on some big budget items like the 3D Mammography Machine, suite renovations, parking restoration, and an emergency generator.
 
 
The hospital's revenue for the 2017 fiscal year is 1.6 million dollars and is exceeding budget by 5 percent.
 
 
After the operating budget is submitted to City Hall, it will be voted on the third Monday in April as a part of the city budget.

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Clinton Schools Receive Endowment For Scholarships

The Clinton Community Educational Foundation will received $200-thousand to disperse for scholarships for high school students.
 
Thanks to an endowment from Vincent O. Greene Estate, the district recently received $200-thousand and Superintendent Curt Nettles says the Board of Education has agreed to turn those funds over to the Education Foundation for them to give out additional scholarships.
 
 
According to Nettles, the estate has set the precedent the moneys must be used for scholarships. He says it cannot be used for technology or any other things in the district.
 
 
The Clinton Community Educational Foundation distributes their own scholarships thanks to their Vincent Beggs Memorial Fund and distributes scholarships on behalf of Exelon as well, so distributing scholarships is something at the very core of the Foundation already. 

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Alzheimers Program At DeWitt County Friendship Center Wednesday

A free program will be held at the DeWitt County Friendship Center this week about the early signs of Alzheimer's. 
 
The Alzheimer's Association, Greater Illinois Chapter's educational program, Know the Ten Signs: Early Detection Matters, will take place at noon on Wednesday at the DeWitt County Friendship Center at 410 E. Main Street in Clinton, IL.
 
The warning signs of Alzheimer's disease are often dismissed as side effects of normal aging. If individuals believe they or someone they know is experiencing memory loss or behavioral changes, it's time to learn the facts. 
 
Early detection allows for a chance to begin drug therapy, enroll in clinical studies and plan for the future. 
 
Attendees will learn the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's disease, hear from people who have the disease and find out how to recognize the signs. 
 
Presenters will also separate myth from reality and address commonly-held fears about alzheimer's in America.
 
Program specialist Elizabeth Wells will present and take questions following the program.
 
To register for the program offered at no cost, call 309-662-8392 or register online at www.alz.org/illinois .
 
About the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Illinois Chapter:
 
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's research, care and support.  Their mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. 
 
The Alzheimer's Association, Greater Illinois Chapter serves 68 counties in Illinois.
 
Since 1980, the Chapter has provided reliable information and care consultation; created supportive services for families; increased funding for dementia research; and influenced public policy changes.

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Ag Road Rules Course To Be Offered This Week

If you're a farmer, a free review of the rules of the road course coming up in Clinton might be of interest to you.
 
Kevin Rund is Director of Local Government with the Illinois Farm Bureau and he'll be leading the course. He says the course will cover everything from a refresher on the rules of the road to specific regulations drivers sometimes get confused with.
 
 
Rund says he will also be specifically discussing the trucking regulations for farmers. He explains there are some misconceptions he hopes to clear up at this free seminar on Thursday.
 
 
There are now two excemptions for farmers. According to Rund, one has been around for a while and the other has caused some confusion, as it deals with the semi-truck.
 
 
The rules of the road refresher course is this Thursday at the Warner Public Library. To get more information, contact the DeWitt County Farm Bureau Office by calling 217-935-2126. 

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Sen. Manar Pitching School Funding Reform

State Senator Andy Manar is promoting a school funding reform measure similar to a plan developing in the Illinois House. 
 
Manar's Senate Bill 1 would introduce an evidence-based model for funding Illinois schools, something recommended by the governor’s bipartisan school funding reform commission.
 
 
The new school funding system under the Manar plan would reduce reliance on local property taxes. Manar says the bill has a strong bipartisan flavor...
 
 
Under the evidence based model, the state would determine an adequate amount of per-pupil funding for each school district based on the traits of each district. A new base minimum funding level would ensure no district would lose any state funding. 

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Interest Strong For Farm Machinery on Secondary Market

The demand for farm machinery remains strong on the secondary market. 
 
Auctioneer Dale Jones had nearly 600 registered bidders on-site last Saturday at a consignment auction in Aledo that featured a large number of ag implements. 
 
 
Among the top items.
 
 
The auction also featured another 100-plus bidders on-line. 

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Governor Rauner Calling For More Lanes on I-55

Will the drive in and out of Chicago for hundreds of thousands possibly get a little better? 
 
The Governor wants lawmakers to move forward on a plan that would build additional lanes on I-55 otherwise known as the Stevenson. The catch is they would be for paying motorists only. 
 
The future I-55 would have a toll lane each way, only drivers that were willing to pay. Bruce Rauner says the go-ahead needs to be approved this week to secure private funding needed for the project.
 
 
Approval wouldn’t seem likely this week. The Speaker of the House Mike Madigan says that he hasn’t seen enough information about the project to move it forward. IDOT says that in all the project should cost about $425 million.

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Madigan Responds To I-55 Proposal

Governor Bruce Rauner has been promoting the virtues of opening up a n express toll lane for I-55 motorists in the Chicago region. Madigan's office released a statement yesterday.
 
"Where possible, we have been willing to work with the Governor on various parts of his agenda this spring including selling of the Thompson Center in Chicago and the reorganization he wants to do within state government. Our concern with private investors being involved in a toll lane is that, once again, it seems as though Governor Rauner is more interested in helping his wealthy friends. Despite multiple requests for information over several months, IDOT hasn’t prepared a plan that would lay out the costs, results, and anticipated tolls. IDOT hasn't provided any evidence demonstrating that this project will save taxpayer dollars or result in better maintained roads. We continue to await this information."

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Community College Students Have More Options

The Community College Board wants to make it a little easier for students looking at career and technical training. 
 
The board says students will now have better access when looking for specific classes. 
 
CCB Spokesman Matt Berry says they have pledged that all 39 community college districts will let students take classes anywhere for in district rates, as long as the class someone wants isn’t offered in their home district. 
 

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YMCA's Strong Kids Campaign Kicking Off in April

It's the most important campaign of the year for one area agency.
 
That is how Executive Director Rennie Cluver describes the annual YMCA's Strong Kids Campaign. In mid-April, the non-profit DeWitt County agency will begin their yearly drive which helps support the programming they put on all year round.
 
 
Around $100-thousand is the annual goal for the Strong Kids Campaign at the Clinton YMCA. Cluver says last year they fell short of their goal. He feels some of the reasoning could be due to the uncertainty of the power plant, but he says they are thankful Exelon is going to remain in the community, as they are a huge supporter of the YMCA.
 
 
Cluver indicates the $100-thousand they strive for each year isn't even all of what they give back in programming scholarships. He indicates they subsidize around $135-thousand each year.
 
 
The Strong Kids Campaign is set to open April 19 and Cluver says if you have donated in the past, plan on receiving a phone call from the YMCA for their annual Strong Kids campaign. 
 
He also says they'll be reaching out to area businesses in hopes of rallying support and reaching their $100-thousand goal again.
 
To donate to this year's campaign, contact the Clinton YMCA at 217-935-8307. 

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Trump Cuts Hit Home For Area Agency

Local leaders are still trying to digest the proposed cuts made by President Donald Trump after his budget proposal hit home for on area agency.
 
Last week on Regional Radio News, we outlined what the President's proposed cuts and what they would likely mean for Community Action's most popular program LIHEAP. But Community Action Executive Director, Alison Rumler-Gomez calls the cuts to their CSBG program disheartening because that program is at the heart of their mission.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez believes other Community Action agencies don't necessarily do things the way the local agency does. She explains that could be a reason the program is on the chopping block.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez indicates the Foster Grandparents program was one program she was very surprised to see come up for cuts. Like their CSBG program, the foster grandparents program is very different from other programs in other Community Action agencies. 
 
We'll have more on that later this week on Regional Radio News. 

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Blue Ridge Schools Making Conference Switch

Blue Ridge High School will be leaving the Heart of Illinois Conference and heading to the Little Okaw Valley Conference in 2018-19.
 
The Blue Ridge Board of Education decided on the switch last week and Superintendent Susan Wilson says the Little Okaw should be a better fit as Heart of Illinois schools have seen plenty of growth in recent years.
 
 
Wilson notes they will likely end up in the northwest division for every sport but but football, where they will likely end up in the southeast divsion of the Little Okaw Valley conference. She points out travel for football will be less and travel for other sports will be comparable to what they do now. 
 
 
According to Wilson, the switch about being competitive in all sports but it is also about finding a conference with schools that are similar in size to them.
 
 
The switch to the Little Okaw Valley Conference came on very quickly for the distirct, so in order to get information out and clear up questions for the community and parents, there will be an informational meeting on April 12 at 7 pm at Blue Ridge High School. 
 
Wilson encourages anyone to attend and bring any questions or concerns they may have.

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Seaton Teen Having Big Year in Livestock Shows

A Seaton, Illinois teenager continues to rack up wins on the livestock show circuit. 
 
Dalton Line and “Wacky Wade” picked up their latest Grand Champion Steer honors this past weekend at the Western Illinois University Hoof & Horn Jackpot Show. Line started the year by winning the Illinois Beef Expo in February. 
 
 
Also this year, Line and “Wacky Wade” have Grand Champion Steer wins at the ISU Redbird Challenge and University of Illinois Spring Showdown as well as the AGR Spring Showdown and Steers and Stripes Classic in Sedalia, Missouri.

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Governor Pushing Passage of CPS Pension Reform Deal

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS URGING DEMOCRATS TO GET ON BOARD WITH A STATE AND CITY OF CHICAGO PENSION REFORM DEAL. 
 
THE PLAN OFFERS NEW PENSION OPTIONS FOR STATE, SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES, AS WELL AS LAWMAKERS. IT ALSO INCLUDES A ONE TIME PAYMENT OF 215 MILLION DOLLARS TO CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR TEACHER PENSIONS SAYS GOVERNOR RAUNER.
 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS SEVERAL HOUSE REPUBLICANS WILL SUPPORT THE PROPOSAL AND WANTS DEMOCRATS TO DO THE SAME.
 
 
SENATE DEMOCRATS AND CHICAGO LEADERS HAVE EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT THIS IS ONLY A TEMPORARILY SOLUTION FOR CHICAGO SCHOOLS. SEVERAL HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE PLEDGED TO PUT VOTES ON THE PACKAGE AND RAUNER IS URGING DEMOCRATS TO AGREE AS WELL.

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Cubs, Cardinals Rivalry Exhibit Opening At Abrahal Lincoln Presidential Library

A NEW EXHIBIT FEATURING THE LONG-STANDING RIVALRY BETWEEN THE CHICAGO CUBS AND THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS OPENED FRIDAY AT THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM IN SPRINGFIELD.
 
THE EXHIBIT INCLUDES RARE ARTIFACTS FROM BOTH TEAMS, AND HIGHLIGHTS BIG MOMENTS OVER THE YEARS. ILLINOIS STATE HISTORIAN SAM WHEELER SAYS THAT INCLUDES AN OLD CUBS LEASE DOCUMENT.
 
 
THERE’S TRIVIA, A DETAILED TIMELINE OF BOTH FRANCHISES AND SEVERAL RARE ITEMS ON DISPLAY. WHEELER SAYS THAT INCLUDES A PIECE OF HISTORY FROM “STAN THE MAN” WHEN HE RETURNED TO THE CARDS AFTER SERVING IN THE NAVY DURING WORLD WAR TWO.
 
THERE IS ALSO AN INTERACTIVE DISPLAY WHERE YOU CAN LOOK UP ANY AREA IN THE COUNTRY AND SEE WHICH TEAMS FANS ARE ROOTING FOR. THE EXHIBIT RUNS THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR.

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Health Care Vote Canceled Despite Support from Rodney Davis

In a press conference yesterday addressing the health care vote, Representative Rodney Davis expressed that he felt the GOP bill had been thoroughly negotiated and was a good replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
 
He stated that if the government does nothing, the state of Illinois will suffer financially.
 
 
Senator Dick Durbin has been critical of the bill, while Davis calls the system that Durbin supports a "collapsing" one.
 
 
Despite Davis' feelings, the bill was pulled and the vote canceled by Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, after the bill failed to garner enough support from both sides of the aisle. CBSnews.com reported, "The health care vote has now been called off, after Republican leaders and the White House tried and failed to win sufficient support for the GOP legislation to undo Obamacare."

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Boys and Girls Club Fighting For Funding

The Boys and Girls Club around Illinois say a critical program may be cut if President Donald Trump’s proposed budget moves forward. 
 
The budget item – the 21st Century Community Learning Centers – provides Illinois about $52 million a year in funding and a portion goes to the Boys and Girls Clubs sites that are located inside of schools.
 
Central Illinois Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Bill Legee says if those locations go away student performance will suffer.
 
 
The sites, located often located in schools, focus on having certified tutors to help students with afterschool homework, they provide a snack for the kids and a safe environment for them to be in while they often wait for a parent to come home from work. 

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Clinton Student Among Recipients for Farm Credit Ag Scholarship

The recipients of nearly $50,000 of scholarships to high school seniors throughout central and southern Illinois pursuing agriculture-related majors and future careers were announced last week by Farm Credit Illinois. FCI awarded 24 high school seniors a $2,000 agriculture scholarship; two are designated as Urban Agriculture Scholars.
 
Clinton High School Senior Riley Donelson will graduate and attend Illinois Central College to study agricultural communications to work in communications for the livestock industry. 
 
Her parents are Phil and Tanya Donelson.
 
Sara Edgar of Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School in Ford County will graduate and attend Colorado State University to study agricultural business. She plans to work as an agricultural lawyer specializing in trade and policy. 
 
Her parents are Scott Edgar of Gibson City and Stacy Deaton of St. Louis, Mo.
 
Maddie Fugate of Mahomet-Seymour High School will graduate and attend Lake Land College to study agricultural communications and animal sciences. 
 
She plans to be a lobbyist on Capitol Hill before running for political office. 
 
Her parents are Eric and Julie Fugate.
 
Samy Mackey will graduate from Centennial High School and attend Parkland College to study agricultural and biological engineering with plans to improve world-wide food production systems. 
 
His parents are Andre Kabeya Mackey and Patricia Museba Mackey. 
 
Mackey is an Urban Agriculture Scholar.
 
This is the fourteenth year of the Farm Credit agriculture scholarship program which has awarded more than $340,000 to 299 students since 2004. Scholarship selections are based on a combination of academic achievement, participation and leadership in school and community organizations, and the applicant’s commitment to an agricultural career.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a cold, wet week but a warm wet weekend is in store. State Climotologist Jim Angel has the details.
 

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Legendary Kentucky Coach Has Illinois Ties

One of college basketball’s most legendary coaches has Illinois roots. Adolph Rupp coached for over 40 years at the University of Kentucky. 
 
His job before that—teacher and coach at a small high school in Stephenson County in Northern Illinois says Sports Director Brian Reusch at WCCI radio in in Savanna, Illinois.
 
 
Rupp, a Kansas native, heard about the Kentucky opening through the University of Illinois basketball coach, who spoke at the Freeport basketball banquet in 1930. 
 
Before Freeport, Rupp coached wrestling at small town Marshalltown, Iowa. 

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National Kidney Month

MARCH IS NATIONAL KIDNEY MONTH AND AN EXPERT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION HAS SOME TIPS FOR PREVENTING KIDNEY STONES.
 
KIDNEY STONES ARE PEBBLE-LIKE MINERAL DEPOSITS THAT CAN CAUSE QUITE A BIT OF PAIN UNTIL THEY PASS. THE BIGGEST RISK FACTOR FOR DEVELOPING THEM IS BEING DEHYDRATED SAYS U OF I EXTENSION NUTRITION AND WELLNESS EDUCATOR LISA PETERSON. SHE RECOMMENDS DRINKING 12 TO 16 CUPS OF FLUIDS A DAY…PREFERABLY WATER.
 
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PETERSON SAYS REDUCING YOUR SALT INTAKE CAN ALSO HELP…AND RECOMMENDS NOT EATING TOO MUCH OF FOODS WITH HIGH LEVELS OF OXALATES. THAT INCLUDES PEANUTS, RHUBARB, SWEET POTATOES, CHOCOLATE AND SOY PRODUCTS.
 
PETERSON SAYS TOO MUCH SODIUM IN YOUR DIET CAN ALSO LEAD TO KIDNEY STONES.

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Clinton Legion Women's Auxilary Hosting Chili Fundraiser For Veterans Group

The Clinton Legion Womens Auxiliary will be hosting a special fundraiser this weekend for a group aimed at helping veterans.
 
Hooah Deer Hunt for Heroes is a group that aims to help veterans transition back into civilian life once they return home from active duty. Jeff Gaither with the group explains veterans return home and just need a support network and they try to help them with that.
 
 
Gaither indicates without the massive support of volunteers and donors, the effort and expansion of the group would not be possible. He says they have found a lot of backing for what they are trying to do.
 
 
This Saturday, the Legion Womens Auxiliary is hosting a chili soup and sandwich and fundraiser for the Hooah Deer Hunt For Heroes. Jean Rogers says it will be at the American Legion Hall from 5 pm to 8 pm.
 
 
To learn more about Hooah Deer Hunt For Heroes, visit hooahdeerhuntforheroes.com and find them on Facebook. 

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New Otter Pups at the Miller Park Zoo

There are some new additions at the Miller Park Zoo. 
 
Two female North American River Otter pups were born at the zoo on February 25th. According to Superintendent Jay Tetzloff, the otter pups can be viewed on camera at the zoo. It'll be around another month before the pups go on exhibit.
 
 
The pups will be at the zoo for about a year before they are moved to a different breeding program in North America, but before that can happen, they have to be taught how to swim.
 
 
This is the third litter in the past 4 years for the Miller Park Zoo. 

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Illinois Unemployment Down in February

THE ILLINOIS UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPPED SLIGHTLY LAST MONTH. 
 
THE STATE JOBLESS RATE FOR FEBRUARY WAS FIVE POINT FOUR PERCENT…DOWN FROM FIVE POINT SEVEN IN JANUARY. THERE WAS ALSO SOME NICE JOB GROWTH SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH.
 
 
GOUGH (goff) SAYS MORE THAN 25 THOUSAND JOBS WERE ADDED LAST MONTH, BRINGING EMPLOYMENT LEVELS TO THE HIGHEST SEEN SINCE 2000.
 
 
AREAS WITH THE MOST JOB GROWTH LAST MONTH WERE CONSTRUCTION AND THE EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH SERVICES SECTOR.
 
THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR FEBRUARY CAME IN AT FOUR POINT SEVEN PERCENT.

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Illinois Hospitals Get Victory in Supreme Court

A sigh of relief for a number of Illinois hospitals. 
 
The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld a 2012 state law helping not-for-profit hospitals to maintain millions of dollars' worth of property tax exemptions. 
 
The High Court overturned a lower court ruling from last year that declared the law unconstitutional. 
 
With the unanimous vote, the seven justices did not rule on the constitutionality of the law but simply said the 4th District Appellate Court.

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Durbin Blasts Trump's Cuts To Medical Research

Senator Dick Durbin continues to be an advocate for medical research. 
 
In that regard, he went on the warpath with President Trump's proposed cut to biomedical research.
 
 
Durbin says short term cuts have long term consequences.
 
 
Durbin says groundbreaking medical research gives hope to patients with long term health battles.

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Duckworth Attacks Trump Over Veteran Healthcare Claims

Senator Tammy Duckworth, a combat veteran herself, took on President Trump Thursday, claiming he was trying to impose what amounts to a tax hike on millions of Veterans’ healthcare. 
 
Duckworth says an eleventh hour amendment made to the Republican healthcare repeal plan would make Veterans ineligible for health care tax credits that could help them afford private health insurance. Duckworth believes the President is breaking a promise to vets on the healthcare front.
 
 
Duckworth says the change could make health care more expensive, or even out of reach, for millions of Veterans who are either ineligible for coverage in the VA Health Care system.

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Department of Ag, Farm Bureau Discuss Closing of Galesburg Lab

Illinois Department of Agriculture officials discussed the Galesburg Animal Disease Laboratory closing this week with board members of Illinois Farm Bureau. The lab will stop accepting samples this Wednesday.
 
Illinois Farm Bureau President Rich Guebert says the Galesburg facility was fairly unique in its location.
 
 
Guebert added that there are already a limited number of scientists nationally who are qualified for such work.
 
Some of the equipment will be transferred to the University of Illinois. U of I Vet Med staff has been accredited for some testing and is working toward further approvals. Guebert says this closing, which follows the closing of the similar Centralia facility in 2012, is concerning.
 
 
Illinois Ag Director Raymond Poe told Farm Bureau board members that the Galesburg lab closing was not on account of the state’s budget crisis.
 

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Archery State Competition This Weekend

Over 1,000 youth from 38 Illinois schools will be going for a state title in archery this weekend. 
 
The competition is called the National Archery in the Schools Program Illinois State Tournament. Students compete in three divisions—Elementary, Middle School and High School says Ed Cross with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
 
 
The state competition is this Friday and Saturday at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield. 
 
The winners move on to the national competition in Louisville in May. 
 
The archery state tournament was first offered in 2012 with 400 participants. The event now features 1,120 competitors this year. 

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Local Business Leaders Hear About Planned Entrepeneurship Program

Local leaders gathered at the Clinton Country Club Thursday morning to hear about a planned program to get youth in the high school in business.
 
The DeWitt County Development Council hosted Cheryl Mitchell (right) from the Midland Institute CEO Program. The program, Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, started in Effingham and is in 28 communities. Mitchell stresses it is a rural based program.
 
 
Mitchell explains there is an exodus of youth in rural America because of the lack of opportunity. She says the CEO program is doing things the right way to help our communities to continue to evolve.
 
 
According to Mitchell, the CEO program introduces youth to businesses and the opportunities in them. It also brings communities together.
 
 
To make the program work, the program calls upon the community to take on students and work with them. There will be a Board of nine to 11 people that would be a working board in what are all a part of what she calls 'stakeholders'.
 
 
Mitchell encouraged local leaders to visit classrooms and trade shows schools are hosting. 
 
She adds they create students who are learners, owners, they give them experiences, teach them communication skills and about networking. She says if the community does not start this process now, it could be 2019 before the program could be up and running, though the hope is to get it going for the 2018 school year.
 
If you're a business owner and would like to learn more about becoming involved, contact Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles for more details at 217-935-8321. 

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YMCA's Camp Osage Registration Starting Later This Year

While the summer months for area students seems like still a while away, registration for a local non-profit's summer programming is not.
 
Clinton YMCA's Camp Osage is a huge hit among youth in DeWitt County and for parents and registration is right around the corner. Executive Director of the Clinton Y, Rennie Cluver indicates he's already fielding questions about Camp Osage registration.
 
 
According to Cluver, Camp Osage is a full day experience for their youth. He indicates they try to take kids to Weldon Springs for activities and this year they hope to add field trips and trips to community parks.
 
 
In recent years, Cluver has tried to add to camp for kids with an artistic side or for kids who want to spend some time reading. He indicates they have done a lot to get youth involved in those things.
 
 
Cluver indicates if you visit their website, clintoncommymca.org, and are in search of information, you likely won't find it yet. He indicates they will be sending out Camp Osage information with youth in school. 

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National Brain Tumor Society Nature Walk

The 2nd Annual National Brain Tumor Society Nature Walk is coming up on July 15th at Weldon Springs.
 
In honor of her mother, Lauren Johnson was determined to raise awareness through this event and formally brought the society to the Midwest.
 
 
Despite the intense heat last year, people from all over the Midwest attended the walk at Weldon Springs, banning together to fight all types of brain cancer.
 
 
Planning for this year's walk is well underway, as is fund raising for the event.
 
 
To get more information about the walk, visit their page on Facebook, 2nd Annual National Brain Tumor Society Nature Walk or to learn more about brain tumors, got to braintumor.org.

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Local Beef Association Sends Hay To West For Wildfires

Wild fires across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas have devastated thousands of acres of ranch land recently, and a local group has joined the nationwide relief effort.
 
NAFB Farm Broadcaster, Jared White, has more....
 

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Western Illinois School of Ag Hosting Open House This Weekend

The Western Illinois University School of Agriculture hosting an open house for prospective students this week. 
 
The Director--Dr. Andrew Baker says the school offers a strong pathway to many different ag careers. 
 
 
The open house is this Friday starting at 9 a.m. You can register on-line at wiu.edu and typing “School of Agriculture” in the search box. 
 
Two $250 scholarships will be awarded at the event. 

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Rauner Quiet on Health Care Stance

A number of Republican governors have come out against the new plan for federal healthcare up for a vote in Congress. But don’t count Bruce Rauner among them. 
 
Changes that D.C. Republicans want include block granting Medicaid. Rauner’s withholding strong public criticism for now, instead saying he’s having a number of private conversations about the change and the impact to Illinois.
 
 
Rauner says any transition to the new system needs to be done carefully to avoid hurting people’s lives if they will be losing Medicaid coverage. 

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Dunlap Republican Defends Gov. Rauner's Education Task Force

State Senator Chuck Weaver applauds the work of Governor Bruce Rauner’s Education Funding Task Force. 
 
Although critics say the group stopped short of reaching a clear-cut solution, the Dunlap Republican says the task force’s report provides a great starting point for lawmakers.
 
 
Weaver believes a bill can be passed as a result of the task force’s work. 

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FFA Proficiency Awards This Weekend

FFA members throughout Illinois will be participating in this weekend’s FFA State Proficiency Awards competition. 
 
Nathan Flickinger of Rockridge High School was a District FFA winner earlier this month in the Fiber/Oil Crops category and hopes to win the statewide honor.
 
 
The competition is Saturday at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. 

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Bustos Opposes New Health Care Plan

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos expressing her opposition to the GOP replacement for Obamacare. 
 
She spoke on the House Floor yesterday.
 
 
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expected to vote either today or tonight on the plan. 
 
President Trump strongly supports the bill, which is facing opposition from some moderate and conservative Republicans. 

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Clinton School Board To Investigate Building Trades Program

The Clinton School Board's attempts to sell the former Washington Elementary School property were recently unsuccessful, and so now it could become the site of a program for students to learn building trades.
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles informed the Board of Education at their monthly meeting Tuesday night they did not receive any bids in their attempts to sell the property. 
 
Board of Education member Rodney Rodgers says the site is a perfect spot for about four lots to build houses, and created a program for students of the district.
 
 
Nettles indicates there are several avenues that could be pursued as a part of something like this. He explains the district does send students to the Bloomington Area Career Center for a similar program.
 
 
According to Nettles, the district could sell the homes they build and use the money for furthering the program, though there will be some restrictions on it.
 
He does note, this will be a new venture for him in his experience in education.
 
Also at the Tuesday night Board of Education meeting:
 
>>The Board approved district compensation and contracts for the upcoming school year. A couple board members voted against the contracts siting poor timing.
 
>>The District approved an endowment of $200-thousand to the district to be handed over to the Clinton Community Educational Foundation for scholarships. 

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Trump Budget Cuts Could Hurt LIHEAP Program

President Donald Trump's proposed budget reductions could have huge ramifications for an area non-profit.
 
Last week, President Trump released his budget for the nation and it will have local impacts. Executive Director of Community Action, Alison Rumler-Gomez indicates their energy assistance program, LIHEAP, could be in jeopardy if the Trump administration has their way.
 
 
According to Rumler-Gomez, it is likely the budget will see some changes going forward, but she does see the vision President Trump has even though it would cost people in her agency their jobs.
 
 
With energy prices continuing to drop and a likely de-regulation coming, Rumler-Gomez says the need for help in paying for energy is likely to decrease as well.
 
 
President Trump's budget proposal could also negatively impact the agency's CSGB program, which is the core of what Community Action is - fighting anti-poverty. It would also great impact their foster grandparents program. 
 
Rumler-Gomez calls the CSGB cuts very disheartening. 
 
We'll have more on the cuts to those programs next week on Regional Radio News. 

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Mendoza Offers Comedic Take on Feud With Rauner

Comptroller Susana Mendoza's war of words with Governor Bruce Rauner took a new turn as she addressed the City Club of Chicago. She turned to comedy to deliver her first jab.
 
 
But Mendoza says the latest numbers racked up last week on the state's bill backlog are no laughing matter....
 
 
Mendoza maintained Rauner is prepared for the state to collapse financially if he doesn't get his way on the budget and has begun squirreling away hundreds of millions of dollars in 'special funds' to protect his political back. 
 
Rauner's office says Mendoza has been cutting spending on programs for the elderly since she took office in December.

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Local Service Providers Hurting From Budget Stalemate

Local service providers feeling the sting of the ongoing state budget stalemate. Downstate’s Mercer County Family Crisis Center has a limited budget, but is currently owed more than $100,000 from the state says the agency’s Marla Reynolds.
 
 
The center offers services to child abuse and domestic violence victims. Last week, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced the state’s bill backlog hit a record high of $12.8 billion. 

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Legislation Would Excempt Sales Tax on Farm Machinery Repairs

A state lawmaker wants to amend Illinois’ sales tax act as it relates replacement parts for farm machinery—already exempt from the state sales tax. 
 
State Representative Norine Hammond of Macomb says her legislation involves “goodwill repairs”.
 
 
House Bill 505 has been introduced in the House Revenue and Finance Committee. 

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Illinois Good Place For Wine Industry

Illinois continues to be a good location for the wine industry. John Mital (mee-tall) has a family operation just south of Quad Cities, called Creekside Vineyards & Winery.
 
 
Mital adds they travel to farmers markets during spring and summer. 
 
 
Creekside’s Preemption location has been in operation for three years.

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Durbin Questions Gorsuch on Company Provided Health Care

The Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch endured hours of grilling by members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee today. 
 
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin grilled Gorsuch on a decision that protected companies, including Hobby Lobby, who didn’t want to make birth control part of their employee health plan. 
 
 
Gorsuch is up for 3 more days of questioning and testimony about his qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice. 

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Governor Announces New State Cybersecurity Plan

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS UNVEILING A NEW CYBERSECURITY PLAN FOR THE STATE OF ILLINOIS. 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS THE STATE IS BEHIND THE TIMES WHEN IT COMES TO TECHNOLOGY AND SECURITY, AND NOTES THAT ONE OF THE BIGGEST RISKS RIGHT NOW IS CYBER ATTACKS.
 
 
THE PLAN INCLUDES MODERNIZING THE STATE’S COMPUTER INFRASTRUCTURE, AND DEFENDING AGAINST THE VERY REAL THREAT OF CYBER ATTACKS SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY’S KIRK LONBOM.
 
 
LONBOM SAYS THEY WILL BE WORKING TO PREVENT ATTACKS AND RAISE AWARENESS AMONG END USERS ON WHAT THEY CAN DO TO KEEP INFORMATION SECURE.
 
COMPTROLLER SUSANA MENDOZA IS CRITICIZING STATE MONEY BEING SPENT ON THIS WHEN OTHER BILLS AREN'T BEING PAID, BUT GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS CYBERSECURITY NEEDS TO BE A PRIORITY EVEN IN TOUGH FISCAL TIMES.

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DNR Continues To Offer Hunter Education Safety Courses

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources continues to offer hunter education safety courses throughout the state. 
 
Allen Henshaw of Keithsburg has served as a certified IDNR instructor for 40 years.
 
 
A 1996 state law requires that all hunters born on or after January 1, 1980 successfully complete the course before they can receive their first hunting license. 
 
You can find the location of a hunter safety education course near you by checking the IDNR website.
 

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Local Leaders, Businesses Celebrate Ag Day

Tuesday was Ag Day and local leaders took the opportunity to promote agriculture in the community through different avenues during a WHOW live broadcast.
 
President of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau, Tom Hieronymous says agriculture has changed greatly since he started farming with his father over 40 years ago. He believes technology has helped make farming more efficient.
 
 
Manager of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau, Janel Baum-Thomas, says Ag Day was a great opportunity to promote what the Farm Bureau is all about. She explains Farm Bureau is something different to everyone, but at the root of their efforts, they are a grass-roots organization.
 
 
According to Baum-Thomas, the issues at a local level are taken up and then advocated for at a state and even federal level to help maintain the interests of the farmer.
 
 
Memberships to the Farm Bureau are open to anyone, whether you are involved in agriculture directly or not. Country Financial Representative Stephan York explains you have to have a Farm Bureau Membership to get Country insurance.
 
 
Evergreen FS took Ag Day to promote their sustainability programs where they are partnering with local FFA Chapters. Travis Deppe with Evergreen FS indicates they are reaching out helping youth understand what it is to be an agronomist.
 
 
If you missed WHOW's Ag Day broadcast, hear the highlights on the morning and noon farm show in the coming weeks.

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'Read Across Clinton' Program Expanding

A program aimed at ensuring at-risk Clinton youth have the opportunity to read over the summer continues to be more successful than organizers ever imagined.
 
"Read Across Clinton" is entering its third year of existence.  Mary Diener, Principal of Clinton Elementary School, explains the program was the idea of Reading Specialists at CES.  She says the initial goal was to provide a few books each summer to Clinton students that were identified as "at-risk."
 
 
According to Diener, "Read Across Clinton" has been so well-received that students enrolled in the program will now get to choose numerous books to take home for the summer.  Several grants, as well as funding from the Clinton Community Education Foundation, has allowed the program to grow exponentially.  Diener says giving these students a chance to read material they're interested in over the summer months has a major impact in their education.
 
 
Barbara Gullone, President of CCEF, says their group immediately saw the benefits of "Read Across Clinton."  She notes they initially supported it via their teacher grants, however this year the Foundation has taken it on as a special project to increase community support.
 
 
Organizers of "Read Across Clinton" are always looking for new or gently used elementary level books to be distributed in the program.  To make a donation, or learn more, contact Clinton Elementary School.

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Illinois Lotto Introduces New MS Ticket

THE ILLINOIS LOTTERY IS LAUNCHING A NEW VERSION OF THE POPULAR M-S PROJECT INSTANT TICKET. 
 
IT COSTS JUST THREE BUCKS TO PLAY AND HAS A TOP PRIZE OF 50 THOUSAND DOLLARS. BUT THE BEST PART SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NIRAV SHAH, IS THAT ALL THE PROCEEDS GO TOWARDS RESEARCHING THE DISEASE.
 
 
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR EVELYN SANGUINETTI HAS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AND SAYS SINCE TAKING OFFICE, SHE CONSIDERS HERSELF AN M-S WARRIOR.
 
 
THE M-S PROJECT TICKET HAS RAISED MORE THAN EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS SINCE 2008.

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Federal Judge Dismisses Iowa Water Lawsuit

A federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit from Des Moines Water Works, which was seeking damages from drainage districts in northern counties for nitrate loads in the Raccoon River. The federal judge upheld an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that the matter should be resolved through its state legislature.
 
While the ruling is viewed as a victory for farmers in and beyond Iowa, nitrate loads and water quality will continue to be points of discussion. Lauren Lurkins is director of environmental and natural resources for Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
Jean Payne, president of Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, echoes those remarks, saying farmers must continue to keep their nutrients for the crops and prevent them from leaving their fields.
 
 
Groups like the Illinois Nutrient Research Education Council are conducting research to provide farmers practical ways to make environmental improvements without losing production and incurring significant costs.

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Durbin Lays Groundwork For Questions in Gorsuch Hearings

Senator Dick Durbin plans to ask Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch about his independence from the White House if his nomination is confirmed.
 
 
Durbin says being in lockstep with Trump would be bad for the high court....
 
 
Durbin is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

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Biss in For Run For Governor

Another Democrat is up for running for Governor. 
 
State Senator Daniel Biss announced today that he’s a candidate, calling his campaign one “for the rest of us.” Biss made the announcement on Facebook Live and then took questions. He says that the state needs to break free from the way it’s been run for years.
 
 
The Biss diss could be seen as referencing not only Governor Bruce Rauner and Speaker Mike Madigan but also wealthy Democrat candidate Chris Kennedy and JB Pritzker who’s thinking about running for Governor. 
 
The Republican party wasted no time in calling Biss the North Shore branch of the Madigan Machine.

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City Council Plans Discussion With Area Homeowners Over Apple n' Pork Trash Costs

If you are a resident in the Center Street area of Clinton, the cost of trash for vendors on your lot is the topic of discussion for an upcoming meeting you'll be invited to attend.
 
At the last Clinton City Council meeting, Streets and Public Improvements Commissioner Nan Crang brought forth the discussion of what to do about the cost of trash cleanup for vendors along Center Street during the two day Apple n' Pork Festival.
 
The Council put that discussion off until Monday night when the consensus among Council members seemed to be the cost should fall on the homeowners with vendors on their property.
 
 
Several non-profit groups and local youth take the opportunity to set up and sell basic items that don't generate big amounts of garbage. Commissioner John Wise says those groups aren't the issue. He wants to see something done about the vendors using hot oils and big cardboard boxes.
 
 
Commissioner Crang wants to see the homeowner take on the cost because of their relationship with the vendor on their property. Mayor Roger Cyrulik sees that as an opportunity for the homeowner to want to use receptacles available but Crang just wants the streets to look the way they were before the event starts.
 
 
City Administrator Tim Followell explains this is something the homeowners in the area should already be aware of and the cost already should fall on them for the cleanup of the trash for vendors on their property, but the rules are not getting followed.
 
 
According Followell, the City attempted to contract with HRC in recent years to take the cardboard that seems to be the overwhelming problem, however, no one would take it. He is not sure there is a business that would be willing to come and take the cardboard for recycling either.
 
Contrary to Followell's opinion, Crang does not believe it is getting too late to inform the homeowners of Center Street of potential changes. She directed Followell and his staff to send out letters to the appropriate residents with an invitation for the next City Council meeting, April 3, to discuss the issue at hand. 

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UPDATED: Pedestrian Killed in Accident in Clinton Monday Morning

An accident early Monday morning claimed the life of a Clinton man.
 
At approximately 6:40 a.m. Monday morning, Clinton Police & Fire Departments, Dewitt County Sheriff’s Department and Dewitt County EMS were dispatched to the intersection of Illinois Rt 54 at East Washington Street for the report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. 
 
Responding units later confirmed that a pedestrian was walking westbound across Illinois Rt 54 at the intersection of East Washington Street when he was struck by a Westbound Illinois Rt 54 traveling car. 
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers identified the pedestrian as 85-year old William H. Towns of Clinton. He was transported to Warner Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. 
 
 
The accident investigation has been turned over to the Illinois State Police and the Dewitt County Coroner's Office.
 
No other information was released. 

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CSI DeWitt County Coming To Warner Library This Week

Have you ever wondered just how realistic those CSI dramas are on TV?  Well if so, then a program later this week at Clinton's Warner Library is right up your alley.
 
Illinois State Police trooper, Tim LeMasters, is presenting "CSI: DeWitt County" Thursday at the library.  Adult Services Librarian Bobbi Perryman says the program will give those in attendance a better idea of what really goes into the investigation of crime scenes.
 
 
As with all programs hosted by the Warner Library, it is free to attend.  "CSI: DeWitt County" takes place Thursday evening from 6 to 7:30 at the library.  To learn more, call 935-5174.

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Senator Rose Honors Clinton Students

Several Clinton students were honored last week at the Illinois Capitol.
 
State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) honored the Clinton M-Squad at the Capitol on March 15th on the Senate Floor. After Rose’s announcement in the Senate Chamber, Rose and the 1A Varsity Dance State Champions from Clinton H.S. and the Clinton Junior High State Champion Dance Team took pictures inside the rotunda area. 
 
In addition, Senator Rose hosted students from Clinton H.S. and Clinton Jr. High School at the Statehouse on March 16th. Rose introduced the students on the Senate floor and to other Senators, and he also showed them around the capitol. 
 

 

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Lincoln Landmark Set Reopen This Spring

A landmark in Lincoln is set to open up once again this spring, this time as a museum thanks to a grant opportunity. 
 
Geoff Ladd is the Director of Route 66 Scenic Byway organization and explains thanks to a number of different organizations, The Mill in Lincoln is going to be able to open back up this spring. He notes it will be a museum with the theme of Route 66 history.
 
 
According to Ladd, The Mill has a rich history with some names that have a lot of national recognition.
 
 
Recently, Congress announced the establishment of a Route 66 100th Anniversary Commission and additionally, established Route 66 as a National Historic Trail. 
 
Congressmen Darin LaHood and Rodney Davis were instrumental in the two pieces of legislation passing. 

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Mother Nature Impacting Spring Events Already

When a spring sport or event for a school district gets postponed, many might think rescheduling should not be that much effort.
 
That's actually not the case as an early spring snow fell on central Illinois last week forcing the postponement of almost an entire week of spring activities across the area, most notably the first week of the baseball and softball seasons in Illinois. Mike Williams, Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools indicates when scheduled activities like that have to get made up, it can become a challenge for their transportation staff.
 
 
Williams indicates the weather patterns to start this spring sports season were unique. He explains they saw warm days in February and then the season's are set to open and there was snow on the ground.
 
 
Another challenge a district like Maroa-Forsyth faces is coordinating with students in other districts that are part of their co-op.
 
He credits the transportation staff in the district and feels other area districts understand the challenge at the same time. 

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U Of I Aims To Keep Kids In State

THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS IS PROPOSING A FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE DESIGNED TO KEEP STUDENTS AT ILLINOIS SCHOOLS. 
 
THE U OF I’S “INVEST IN ILLINOISANS” PLAN WOULD PROVIDE 170 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR IN AID TO UNDERGRADS AND HOPEFULLY STEM THE TIDE OF KIDS HEADING TO OTHER STATES. U OF I PRESIDENT TIM KILLEEN SAYS IN 2015…45 PERCENT OF HIGH SCHOOL GRADS PLANNED TO GO TO AN OUT OF STATE SCHOOL.
 
 
THE "TRIPLE I" PROPOSAL IS A FIVE YEAR, 850 MILLION DOLLAR FINANCIAL AID PROGRAM. IT’S SUPPORTED BY REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ZALEWSKI OF RIVERSIDE WHO SAYS WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE KIDS TO STAY IN-STATE.
 
 
THE PLAN IS PART OF A LARGER PROPOSAL PENDING IN THE LEGISLATURE THAT GUARANTEES UNIVERSITY FUNDING IF CERTAIN PERFORMANCE STANDARDS ARE MET AT THE U OF I.

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NOMINATING PETITIONS AVAILABLE FOR ILLINOIS COMMODITY BOARD SEATS

Farmers who would like to run for a three-year-term on the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB), the Illinois Soybean Program Operating Board (ISPOB), or the Illinois Sheep and Wool Marketing Board (ISWMB) can now start circulating nomination petitions.
 
Petitions are available through the commodity organizations and at the Illinois Department of Agriculture in Springfield.  The deadline to complete and return these petitions is May 15th for the Corn Marketing Board and Soybean Program Operating Board candidates, and May 31st for the Sheep and Wool Marketing Board candidates.
 
The local seats up for election include:  District 7 on the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, which includes Woodford, McLean, Dewitt, Macon, Piatt, and Moultrie counties; and District 9 on the Illinois Soybean Program Operating Board, which includes Mason, Logan, Cass, Menard, Morgan, and Sangamon counties.
 
To be eligible, each candidate must be at least 18 years old, have produced and marketed the
pertinent commodity, reside in the district to be represented, and have submitted a valid petition by the filing deadline.
 
Elections for both boards will be held on July 6, 2017. Ballots can be cast at your local county extension office. 
 
For more information, visit www.agr.state.il.us.

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Nominations Open For Farm Mom of the Year

Nominations for the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year are now open. By nominating your favorite farm mom, she could win money for the farm and the community. 
 
The five regional winners will receive $3,000 for personal use, and $2,000 to donate to their favorite local charity. A panel of judges from American Agri-Women will review nominations and help Monsanto select five regional winners. The public will vote for the national farm mom of the year who will receive an additional $2,000 to donate to their local charity. This is the eighth year for the program. Monsanto’s Tracy Mueller says it’s all about celebrating amazing women in agriculture...
 
 
Mueller says the nomination forms can be found online…
 
                 
 
Mueller says if you have nominated you farm mom before, keep trying…
 
                           
Nominations must be submitted before March 31st, 2017. To make a nomination, visit AmericasFarmers.com and submit an entry online.

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Unemployment Up In Metro Areas

THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE IN MOST ILLINOIS METRO AREAS OVER THE PAST YEAR. 
 
MORE THAN HALF OF ILLINOIS METRO AREAS SAW AN INCREASE IN THE JOBLESS RATE FROM JANUARY OF 2016 TO JANUARY OF 2017. STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH (goff) SAYS THE REMAINING AREAS SAW SLIGHT DROPS.
 
 
NINE METRO AREAS INCLUDING SPRINGFIELD, DANVILLE, ELGIN AND BLOOMINGTON SAW JOBLESS RATES INCREASE FROM JANUARY 2016 TO JANUARY OF 2017 SAYS GOUGH (goff).
 
 
ROCKFORD SUFFERED THE BIGGEST JUMP…TO MORE THAN 11 PERCENT IN JANUARY, ALTHOUGH GOUGH ATTRIBUTES THAT TO THE SHUT DOWN OF THE FIAT CHRYSLER PLANT. 
 
THE CHICAGO AREA, ELGIN AND NAPERVILLE FARED THE BEST…WITH A POINT SEVEN PERCENT DROP IN UNEMPLOYMENT. JUST FIVE OF THE 14 METRO AREAS SAW OVER THE YEAR JOB GROWTH.

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i-74 Work Starting in April in DeWitt County

Interstate 74 in DeWitt County is slated for some work next moth.
 
The Illinois Department of Transportation announces that work is scheduled to begin Monday, April 3 on Interstate 74 from the Farmer City interchange to the DeWitt / Piatt County line (mile markers 156-160.)
 
The work will include bridge deck repairs and new bridge deck overlays on two structures in DeWitt County, and is expected to be completed by the end of July, weather permitting.
 
During construction, one lane of traffic will be maintained on all routes involved. There is a posted lane width restriction of 11 feet, 9 inches.
The contractor for the $4,500,548 project is Sangamo Construction Company.
 
Officials remind motorists to please slow down and use extreme caution while driving through all work zones.

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GOP Pushing for Rediscrticting

State Representative Tim Butler is among a chorus of House Republicans seeking to change the way Illinois political maps are drawn. 
 
He is co-sponsoring a House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment to create an Independent Redistricting Commission. 
 
 
The proposal calls for the selection of Commissioners and establishes the authority of a Special Commissioner to design a redistricting plan in the event that the Commission fails to properly adopt and file a redistricting plan. 
 
The measure would be effective beginning with redistricting in 2021 and applies to members elected in 2022 and thereafter.

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IL Gets Good News On Credit Rating

Illinois has good news when it comes to its credit rating. S&P Global Ratings has issued The Illinois Funds investment pool a AAA-m credit rating, the highest mark available. State Treasurer Michael Frerichs says the rating reflects his office's approach to investing taxpayer dollars. Frerichs said “The rating shows our success at balancing the access and availability of funds while receiving a strong return on investment for this type of product.” The Illinois Funds is a local government investment pool that invests dollars from local units of government such as counties, municipalities, and school districts. Investing together generates rates of return typically not available if participants invested alone.

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Cops On The Lookout This Weekend

The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations started last week and will continue this weekend. Local police are taking notice. 
 
The Illinois Department of Transportation says that enforcement efforts surrounding drunken driving will be ramped up again this weekend. 
 
 
Last year 4 deaths statewide were connected to drinking and driving around St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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Rauner Urges Action On Pension Reform

Governor Rauner is urging lawmakers to take swift action on pension reform legislation. 
 
State Senators Jill Tracy and Michael Connelly have moved to separate the issue from previous Grand Bargain discussions, where pension reform was debated along with multiple budget bills. Rauner released a video message via Facebook that also called for lawmakers to approve $215 million dollars to help Chicago Public Schools with teacher pension costs. The pension proposal recently came within four votes of passage.

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Illinois House Considering Transgender Bill

 
THE ILLINOIS HOUSE IS CONSIDERING A BILL TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR TRANSGENDER RESIDENTS TO UPDATE THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATES.  
 
THE MEASURE WOULD HELP PEOPLE LIKE MAYA ZIMMERMAN, A TRANSGENDER WOMAN WHO SAYS SHE CAN’T AFFORD REASSIGNMENT SURGERY.
 
CURRENTLY…IF A PERSON HAS GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY, THEY CAN OFFICIALLY CHANGE THEIR SEX ON THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATE. THIS LEGISLATION ALLOWS THOSE WHO ARE TRANSGENDER DO THE SAME. REPRESENTATIVE GREG HARRIS OF CHICAGO SAYS THIS IS AN IMPORTANT UPDATE.
 
 
CRITICS CALL THE CHANGE GOVERNMENT FRAUD.

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Next Weldon Springs Foundation Meeting Set

The Weldon Springs Foundation will hold its spring meeting on Friday April 7th, 2017, in the parlor of the Clinton United Methodist Church.  The social will begin at 6:00 p.m., and the meeting at 6:30.  Please bring a plate of finger food to share.  
 
  The purpose of the Foundation is to support Weldon Springs State Park and the public is cordially invited to join the meeting.  Come hear what is happening at the park and how you can contribute.
 
Again, that meeting is set for Friday, April 7th, at 6pm at the Clinton United Methodist Church.

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AT&T Backing Bills in General Assembly

AT&T is backing two bills in the Illinois General Assembly that the Citizen's Utility Board is against. 
 
Senate Bill 1381 and House Bill 2691 would kill traditional home phone service in Illinois, according to a spokesman with the utility watchdog, who says AT&T wants to force customers to use computer-based or wireless substitutes. Jim Chilsen, of the Citizens Utility Board, says there are millions of both residential and business landline customers across the state.
 
 
Chilsen adds this proposal comes back to lawmakers in Illinois every couple of years.
 
 
People who live in rural areas with spotty cell phone coverage could be affected, with their landline service made either unavailable, or the price going up. The phone industry says there are many options now, including landline service from the unregulated cable TV providers. 
 

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Senator Biss Ponders Governor Run

State Senator Daniel Biss is one of the most talked about names among potential Democratic candidates for Governor, but Biss isn't doing much of the talking. Despite a recent poll that put him well ahead of potential contenders to face Bruce Rauner next year, Biss doesn't sound ready to jump in just yet....
 
 
 
 
The Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association online straw poll saw 25 percent of respondents surveyed supporting Biss. The closest potential competitor was Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, who received 15 percent of the poll votes 

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Congressman Poses National Pi Day

An Illinois scientist-turned-congressman wants to designate March 14 as National Pi Day. That's "Pi,' as in the number - not the dessert.
 
Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville introduced a resolution Wednesday in the U.S. House to make the date - which some people recognize by eating a slice of pie - more official.
 
The former physicist says "Pi Day is more than just a good excuse to eat pie."
 
Foster's resolution encourages educators to observe Pi Day by engaging students in "fun activities that explore the exciting side to math" and science. He says it may get students interested in becoming the next generation of physicists, engineers and mathematicians.
 
The number Pi - which starts with 3.14 - is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

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Lincoln New Salem Looking for Volunteers

PETERSBURG, Ill. – Lincoln’s New Salem is offering everyone a chance to help bring the Abraham Lincoln story to life by volunteering, whether it’s wearing period clothing, staffing the Visitor Center or helping with special events.
 
Several opportunities to find out more about becoming a volunteer at the historic site are coming up soon. Potential volunteers can attend any one of the sessions.
 
They’ll be held in Springfield at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s main office (313 South Sixth Street) on March 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. and again on April 2 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
 
Sessions will also be held at the site itself on March 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. and on April 1 from 1:30 to 3:30pm.
 
The information sessions will explore volunteer opportunities at the site as well as expectations and benefits. Registration is encouraged, but not required.
 
Anyone who wants to proceed with becoming a volunteer will be required to attend a training series in April at the site. Volunteers can choose between attending three Thursday evenings (April 6, 13 and 20 from 6 to 9 p.m.) or two Saturdays (April 8 and 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
 
For more information, visit www.lincolnsnewsalem.com and look for the “volunteering” tab.
 

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Urbana Woman Sentenced To 15 Years

An Urbana woman is being put behind bars for 15 years after she was sentenced to prison.
 
Reports indicate that 44-year-old Aretha L. Baughman was arrested this week in Champaign County after a probation officer learned she was wanted on a 2002 warrant.
 
Baughman had been arrested on drug charges in 2000 and placed on probation as part of a plea bargain. After she violated her probation she was ordered to return to court for resentencing in October 2002. When she didn't show up, a judge sentenced her to six years in prison and issued a warrant for her arrest.
 
A probation officer who accompanied sheriff's deputies on a call to Baughman's home for a possible domestic dispute discovered there was a warrant for Baughman's arrest.

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New Lincoln Police Department Moving Forward

Plans are moving forward for a new police facility in Lincoln.
 
Discussion about the need for a new police facility in Lincoln has been ongoing.  Mayor Marti Neitzel indicates preliminary work continues as the city plans to re-purpose the old Jefferson school building on 5th Street on the city's southwest side.  She says the building is in relatively good shape, and architects are currently formulating plans on how to best utilize the structure for the police department. 
 
 
Mayor Neitzel sees the project as a win-win.  She notes the police department will get a basically new building with some much needed extra space, while the cost of re-purposing the old school will be half of what a new building would cost.
 
 
Currently, the Lincoln Police Department is housed in the same building as the Logan County Sheriff's Department.  Neitzel points out that this new department will provide city officers with nearly ten times the space, and at the same time free up space for the Sheriff's Department.
 
 
The total price tag for the new Lincoln Police Department is expected to be between 2.5 and 3-million dollars, but again it has not yet been put out to bid.  Officials hope the project can be completed in 2018.

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Clinton Fire Fighters Hosting Open House Saturday

If you've ever wondered what the inside of a fire station looks like or wanted an up close look at a firefighters equipment, Saturday in Clinton is your opportunity.
 
Clinton Fire officials will be hosting an open house Saturday with chili and safety demonstrations and information.
 
 
That was Jeff Hoke and Jason Karr with the Clinton Fire Department. They indicate it's been several years since they've welcomed the community into their facility.  They feel this is just another way for the Department to continue to be interactive with the public they serve.
 
Again the open house is Saturday, March 18 at the Clinton Fire Station from 11 am to 3 pm. 

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Special Meeting Scheduled for Leaders Interested in Mentoring Future Clinton Business Leaders

The next generation of business leaders are in need of mentors and a local business development group is looking to you to help in that effort.
 
If you own your own business or would be interested in mentoring the next generation with an entrepreneurial spirit, the DeWitt County Development Council is hoping you'll attend a special meeting about how you can do just that. Marian Brisard, Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, explains there will be a buffet breakfast the morning of March 23 at the Clinton Country Club.
 
 
Brisard indicates seating is limited so reserve your place at the event by contacting the Chamber at 217-935-3364.
 
Check in is at 7:15 am with the speaker to address the group at 7:30 am. 

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RCC To Host Campus Visit Nights Next Week

Students interested in pursuing an education at Richland Community College in Decatur are invited to attend some special events on campus next week.
 
Rob Kerr is the Registrar and Director of Advising & Registration Services at RCC.  He explains that they are hosting a series of special tours three nights next week, with each night dedicated to specific programs.  The first event is Monday night.  Kerr says it's aimed at those prospective students interested in pursuing a career in the Health Professions programs offered at Richland.
 
 
On Tuesday night, RCC will host a Career Programs Night.  Kerr notes those programs would include everything from horticulture to mechanics, and a host of other programs.
 
 
Finally, on Thursday night, Richland will host a Transfer Programs Night.  Kerr says it will give those students planning to move on to a four year university a wide range of knowledge on how RCC can prepare you for that transition.
 
 
Each of the programs begins at 5:30 on their respective night.  To find out more about next week's events at Richland Community College, visit richland.edu/visit.  Registration for the summer and fall 2017 semesters at RCC opens on April 3rd for returning students, and on April 10th for new students.

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U of I Aid Plan In Springfield

The University of Illinois says a proposal will be introduced in the state Legislature that would provide at least $170 million in financial aid.
 
University of Illinois President Tim Killeen announced the Invest in Illinois, or Triple I, proposal on Wednesday. He says it would provide the money over five years with the goal of keeping Illinois high school graduates in state for college and stem a growing loss of students to out-of-state schools.
 
The university says the measure will be introduced as an amendment to a measure already pending in Springfield that involves university funding.
 
The university says that in 2015, 45 percent of high school students who graduated in Illinois and were bound for college went to schools out of state. That number was 29 percent in 2002.

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Garth Extends Champaign Stay

You may have heard that country music star Garth Brooks is coming to Central Illinois.  Well, now he's coming for an extended stay.
 
Garth Brooks retired for years to raise his daughters, and he has struggled to chart new hits this century, but no country act can touch his power as a concert draw. 
 
The country superstar has added two shows to his stay at Champaign's State Farm Center. He crossed the 50-thousand mark in tickets sold for the fourt concerts that will kick off Friday, April 28th. Shows were added Saturday April 29th at 3pm and Sunday, April 30th at 7:30 PM.

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Caterpillar Hires Former Attorney General

Caterpillar says it is hiring a former U.S. attorney general to help it sort out matters that sparked a federal raid on its Peoria headquarters.
 
William P. Barr will serve as outside counsel to the large equipment manufacturer. He'll help Caterpillar review and address issues relating to its use of a parts subsidiary based in Switzerland and tax-saving practices.
 
Issues with Caterpillar SARL have dogged the company for eight years, sparking a Senate investigation, shareholder lawsuits, and proposed taxes and penalties totaling $2 billion.
 
CEO Jim Umpleby said in a news release Thursday he's committed to maintaining ethical standards in conducting business. He added Barr's counsel will help the company achieve that.
 
Barr served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. He currently works at Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis.

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Prosecutor: Blago Sentence Appropriate

Prosecutors say an appeals court shouldn't grant former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich a third sentencing hearing.
 
Their filing Thursday comes on the day the Illinois Democrat started his sixth year in prison for corruption, including trying to trade an appointment to ex-President Barack Obama's old Senate seat for campaign cash.
 
The one-time "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant with President Donald Trump asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December for another sentencing. Among other things, he argued a lower court didn't consider Blagojevich's good behavior in prison at an August resentencing in reimposing the original 14-year sentence.
 
The 7th Circuit ordered the resentencing after tossing five of Blagojevich's 18 convictions.
 
Prosecutors' 47-page filing offers few new arguments for why Blagojevich's sentence is appropriate. It notes he's never acknowledged seriously wrongdoing. Oral arguments are on April 18.

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IL House Republicans Pushing Redistricting Legislation

House Republicans in Springfield are sponsoring a House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment which will create the Independent Redistricting Commission to adopt and file with the Secretary of State a redistricting plan for Legislative and Representative Districts.
 
HJRCA17 provides for the selection of Commissioners and establishes the authority of a Special Commissioner to design a redistricting plan in the event that the Commission fails to properly adopt and file a redistricting plan. 
 
During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said he believes redistricting reform is one of the most important issues facing the General Assembly.
 
 
The measure would be effective beginning with redistricting in 2021 and applies to members elected in 2022 and thereafter.

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Trump Defunds Great Lakes Restoration

President Donald Trump wants to eliminate federal support of a program that addresses the Great Lakes' most pressing environmental threats.
 
Trump's 2018 budget released Thursday would remove all funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has received strong support from members of Congress in both parties since President Barack Obama established it in 2009.
 
The program has pumped more than $2.2 billion into the eight-state region for projects that have removed toxic wastes from industrial harbors, fought invasive species such as Asian carp, restored wildlife habitat and supported efforts to prevent harmful algal blooms.
 
The initiative has generally received about $300 million a year. Congress voted last year to authorize the program for five more years.
 
A Trump campaign representative said last fall the Republican nominee supported the program.

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DeWitt County Farm Bureau Cancels Live Line Event

The DeWitt County Farm Bureau has unfortunately had to cancel its Live Line Demonstration that was scheduled for tonight (THU) at the DeWitt County Highway Building.  Farm Bureau Manager, Janell Baum Thomas released the following statement:
 
"We've received word last night that our presenter is under the weather with strep throat and does not have a speaking voice. Unfortunately, there are no qualified backup presenters and we were unable to find an appropriate replacement training.
 
We're disappointed to cancel the event because we were planning such a high turnout, and we appreciate the help of area fire chiefs in promoting the training. We plan to reschedule the event. 
 
Many people have worked hard to make this training happen, and we know many others have had to clear their schedules to attend. We plan to coordinate again with Corn Belt Energy, the Highway Department, fire departments, EMS, road commissioners and farmers to find a suitable new date. If you are interested in being notified of the rescheduled date when it becomes available, please call the DCFB office at 217-935-2126 or email Janell at dcfb3@frontier.com."

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PTO Returns To Clinton Schools

If you're the parent of an elementary age student in the Clinton School District, there's a new organization you can be involved in.
 
After a few years absence the Clinton Parent Teachers Organization, or PTO, has been revitalized.  Sacha Young, Assistant Principal at Clinton Elementary School, explains a group of parents recently came forward to re-introduce the PTO.  She says the group helps with a variety of activities in the local kindergarten through 5th grades.
 
 
Mary Diener, Principal at Clinton Elementary, notes the organization currently has around 60 active members.  She says Nicole Finch has been named the PTO President, and explains that anyone with interest is welcome to get involved.
 
 
While the PTO is becoming involved in several aspects of elementary education, one of their primary goals is to assist with fund raising activities.  Diener explains those fund raising efforts benefit the schools' activity funds.
 
 
The new Clinton K5 PTO is actively seeking parents to assist in their efforts.  You can learn more about the organization by contacting Clinton Elementary School.  The group also has a Facebook page at Clinton K5 PTO.

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Cerro Gordo Schools Continue Referendum Push

Voters in one local school district will be considering a referendum for major updates to school buildings when they head to the polls in a few weeks.
 
The Cerro Gordo School Board has an item on the April 4th ballot seeking the community's support to upgrade its facilities.  Superintendent Brett Robinson explains the measure asks voters to allow the district to sell up to 8-million dollars in bonds for improvements to the Cerro Gordo Junior/Senior High School campus.  He says the largest part of the project would include a new regulation size gymnasium, as well as new classroom spaces.
 
 
Robinson notes the plans would also take care of required Health, Life, and Safety projects that would total 3-million dollars on their own.  
 
The proposal would have an impact on local property taxes.  Robinson explains the maximum impact on a home valued at 100-thousand dollars would mean an additional 11-dollars per month in the school district's portion of property taxes.
 
 
Despite the increase, Robinson is optimistic as the election draws near.  He notes the Cerro Gordo district has not raised property taxes in response to the ongoing issues of state funding, and is in fact highly graded by the state of Illinois when it comes to the district's fiscal responsibility.
 
The last major school facility referendum in Cerro Gordo took place when the district built a new grade school around the year 2000.  Again this current proposal goes before voters in the consolidated general election on April 4th.

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Celebrate Clinton Association Already Planning for Annual-Summer Event

Last year was the first time around for a Clinton Group in expanding their reach for the 4th of July.
 
The Celebrate Clinton Association took on organizing the fireworks display for the fourth of July last year and is already thinking about this year's display. President of the group, Patrick Peterson explains they've already got a date in April to view some of the pyrotechnics for this year in Logan County.
 
 
According to Peterson, the first year of organizing the display was a challenge, much like it had been in years past but he's hoping an early start this year will help them meet their goal.
 
 
Peterson is optimistic this year will be another great display. He says they hope to bring in around $15-thousand this year for the Fourth of July fireworks. 
 
Between the fireworks and annual Fourth of July Celebration on the downtown square, the Celebrate Clinton Association pours in about $35 to $40-thousand into the community for the one day. 

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Automatic Voter Registration Efforts Renewed in Springfield

THERE’S A RENEWED EFFORT IN THE ILLINOIS LEGISLATURE TO PASS AN AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION BILL. 
 
LAWMAKERS PASSED AN AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION BILL LAST YEAR…BUT GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER VETOED IT, SAYING IT LACKED SAFEGUARDS. SENATOR ANDY MANAR OF BUNKER HILL SAYS THIS LATEST VERSION SHOULD PASS MUSTER.
 
 
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE FORNTER OF WEST CHICAGO SAYS THIS WOULD BOOST VOTER PARTICIPATION, AND REDUCE LONG LINES ON ELECTION DAY FOR SAME DAY REGISTRATION.
 
 
MANAR’S BILL LETS VISITORS TO CERTAIN STATE AGENCIES OPT OUT OF BEING AUTOMATICALLY REGISTERED AND DELAYS IMPLEMENTATION TO JULY OF 2018.
 
SIMILAR LEGISLATION IS PENDING IN THE SENATE AND BOTH BILL SPONSORS PLEDGE TO WORK TOGETHER TO GET AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION APPROVED.
 
SEVEN OTHER STATES HAVE AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION LAWS.

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Madigan's School Funding Reform Panel Assembles

A new Illinois House education funding reform panel has gone to work. 
House Speaker Mike Madigan says the 26 member panel, split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, will pickup where a commission formed by his political rival, Governor Rauner, left off. 
 
Legislation will be drafted this spring to try to overhaul the current funding model. The Rauner appointed commission made reccomendations on altering the school funding schematics but that effort didn't lead to legislation.

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Speaker Wants Closer Look At Medicaid Cut Impacts

House Speaker Mike Madigan is taking a closer look at proposed Medicaid cuts by the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans. 
 
He has directed state Rep. Greg Harris to hold a hearing Thursday on how proposed cuts could impact children, families and others in Illinois. Harris heads up the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee. 
Madigan's office says the proposed changes could have a significant effect on the state budget and the state would be forced to cut critical care for strugglies families and disabled residents or pass on the cost to state taxpayers.

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IL Lotto Lawsuit Moves To Federal Court

A lawsuit accusing the company that runs the Illinois Lottery of fraud has been moved from county court to federal court.
 
According to published reports the change was made after Northstar Lottery Group's attorney requested the move. The attorney said the case should be heard in the U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois because the company "is not a citizen of Illinois" and the amount of money at issue is more than $75,000.
 
The lawsuit filed in February in St. Clair County in southern Illinois alleges Northstar defrauded businesses that sold scratch-off tickets and the customers who bought them by manipulating the number of winning tickets available for purchase, among other things.
 
Plaintiffs are seeking class-action status. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages.

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Push for $15 Minimum Wage is On

The 15 dollar minimum wage movement is now in writing in Illinois. 
 
Chicago based State Representative Will Guzzardi is drafting legislation to boost the state's starting wage to fifteen bucks, although it won't reach the mark until 2022. Guzzardi says the minimum wage is no longer just about summer jobs for young people.
 
 
Guzzardi's legislation also offers a cushion for small businesses who will struggle to cough up extra wages...
 
 
Under the five year phase in, the minimum wage would jump from $8.25 now to $9 next year. Business groups remain opposed. 

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DeWitt County Farm Bureau Hosting Live Line Demonstration Thursday - EVENT CANCELLED

UPDATE:  EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO SPEAKER ILLNESS. 3-16-17
 
 
 
Farmers, first responders, road commissioners, and the public are reminded about an informational and entertaining event coming up Thursday evening.
 
The DeWitt County Farm Bureau is hosting a "Live Line Demonstration" Thursday at the DeWitt County Highway building.  Janell Baum Thomas, Manager of the local Farm Bureau, explains the event will feature a presentation from Steve Hancock of Corn Belt Energy.  She says the focus of the demonstration is electrical safety.
 
 
Baum Thomas says Thursday's demonstration will include beneficial information for a wide variety people.  She feels everyone from farmers to first responders, and the general public, will come away with important knowledge about electrical safety.
 
 
The demonstration is being held at the DeWitt County Highway building on Revere Road.  Baum Thomas says the immense size of the demo required organizers to find a suitably sized space.
 
 
The free event gets started at 5:30 Thursday evening.  A light dinner will be served.  In order to attend, please RSVP to the DeWitt County Farm Bureau as soon as possible by calling 217-935-2126.

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Fishing Licences Up For Renewal

Even though this week's return to winter may not have you thinking about hitting the lake, warm weather will soon return.  Once it arrives, you need to make sure your licenses are up to date.
 
Illinois Department of Natural Resources officer, John Williamson, reminds those wanting to wet a line this season that they'll need to renew their fishing license.  He says all such licenses expire at the end of March.
 
 
Williamson notes the 2017 Illinois fishing licenses are available now, so you don't have to wait until the end of the month to renew them.  He says there are several local retailers that have them available.
 
 
According to Williamson, a lot of local residents have been putting their fishing licenses to good use.  He says the unusually mild winter has kept things busy in area state parks.
 
 
Again, your 2016 Illinois fishing and hunting licenses expire on March 31st.  You can purchase your new one at a local retailer or online at dnr.illinois.gov, or by clicking HERE.

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Social Security Highlighting Women in March

Whether you're a woman or a man, young or old, just beginning to work or contemplating retirement, it's important to look at social security and think about your future.
 
Over half of the beneficiaries of the users of social security are women. According to Jack Myers, now more women than ever are in the workforce.
 
 
While often most frequently associated with retirement, Social Security can be used for more than retirement benefits. Myers indicates no matter how you plan, things don't always turn out the way they're supposed to and you may need Social Security much sooner than you think.
 
 
Myers adds that when you do reach retirement age, you should should analyze your health and needs when considering collecting benefits.
 
 
If you'd like to learn more about social security or start planning, you can contact their national toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 or hit up their website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

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New Illinois Home Service Rules

WORKERS SERVING THE STATE’S HOME SERVICES PROGRAM FOR THE DISABLED NOW HAVE A NEW OVERTIME POLICY. 
 
THE WORKERS HAVE PROTESTED THE CHANGE…SAYING THE NEW RULES WILL DISRUPT CLIENT CARE AND OFFER ONLY MINIMAL SAVINGS. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY JAMES DIMAS IS TRYING TO ALLAY THOSE CONCERNS.
 
 
THE NEW RULES WILL REQUIRE CAREGIVERS TO GET APPROVAL BEFORE EXCEEDING 45 HOURS PER WEEK, ALTHOUGH EXCEPTIONS WILL BE MADE FOR CLIENTS THAT NEED MORE CONSTANT CARE. DIMAS SAYS THIS WILL SAVE THE STATE MONEY WHILE STILL HELPING THE DISABLED STAY IN THEIR HOMES.
 
 
THE NEW POLICY TAKES EFFECT AUGUST FIRST.

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Lawmakers Exploring School Funding Reform

Illinois House members are picking up education funding reform where they say a commission convened by the governor left off.
 
Lawmakers gathered Tuesday to discuss proposals to revise the way Illinois finances its public schools. They plan this spring to write legislation to overhaul what many say is an outdated education funding model.
 
A commission formed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner made recommendations last month but offered no legislation. Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan called together the 13 Democrats and 13 Republicans to deal with remaining questions and concerns.
 
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago chairs the panel. She also served on Rauner's commission.
 
Currie says the panel will work to "fill in the blanks" and establish a funding mechanism lawmakers can agree on.

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Last Gasp of Winter Throws Scare At Some Illinois Crops

The unusually warm winter caused wheat to green and some fruit trees to bloom earlier than normal, at least in some parts of mid-to-southern Illinois. That was before snow that many hope is the last gasp of winter 20-17. 
 
Dan Hicks with Freese-Notis Weather offers his prediction on when it might warm up and if that will stick;
 
 
Temperatures in the teens overnight have some Illinois wheat and fruit growers concerned about damage to their crops. Hicks says some areas of the state can still use some additional moisture too;
 
 
Spring officially begins Monday and Hicks calls for typical weather for the season, including some swings between warm and cool. Overall, the meteorologist expect temperatures to hover at slightly above-normal levels.

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Illinois Lotto Lawsuit Moves To Federal Court

A lawsuit accusing the company that runs the Illinois Lottery of fraud has been moved from county court to federal court.
 
According to published reports the change was made after Northstar Lottery Group's attorney requested the move. The attorney said the case should be heard in the U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois because the company "is not a citizen of Illinois" and the amount of money at issue is more than $75,000.
 
The lawsuit filed in February in St. Clair County in southern Illinois alleges Northstar defrauded businesses that sold scratch-off tickets and the customers who bought them by manipulating the number of winning tickets available for purchase, among other things.
 
Plaintiffs are seeking class-action status. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages.

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Gov. Rauner Talks Infrastructure

Governor Bruce Rauner likes the tone from Pennsylvania Avenue when it comes to talk of investing in infrastructure. 
 
President Trump's talk of devoting billions for work on Illinois locks and dams gets positive reviews from the Governor, although he says isn't just waiting on Washington to address infrastructure.
 
 
Rauner plans to meet with federal leaders in Washington to give a boost to state infrastructure improvements.

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Area Students Participate In Awareness Training

Students at several area school districts recently completed awareness training conducted by local police departments.
 
Clinton Police Officer Mike Bennett developed the awareness training curriculum in LeRoy and has since brought it to Clinton and Blue Ridge. Officer Bennett indicates that while there is some self-defense taught, the curriculum is more structured towards being aware of your surroundings.
 
 
The fact that it can happen to you is stressed throughout the awareness training according to Officer Bennett. The awareness training is a three day program that starts in seventh grade and carries on through high school. The program is primarily for girls, but the awareness and mindset portion is for both boys and girls.
 
 
Officer Bennett indicates that the program has a "building block approach" to it. The junior high program is more basic, while the high school program adds on to the skills taught in junior high.
 
 
Officer Bennett believes that one of the greater outcomes of the awareness training is the involvement of the administration. He says that the students get to build relationships with the administrators on a more personal level. 
 
 
A former student was able to use the techniques taught in the class to defend herself and fend off her attacker. Officer Bennett says that that incident has proven the worth of the program. Bennett also leads awareness training programs in LeRoy and Blue Ridge schools as well.

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CCEF Readying To Award Scholarships

If your Clinton student was planning to apply for scholarship opportunities through the Clinton Community Education Foundation, then hopefully they got their applications turned in.
 
Monday was the deadline to apply for the annual scholarships distributed through the local non-profit organization.   Barbara Gullone, President of CCEF, says they have several scholarships they'll be giving out this spring.  She explains those scholarships are funded through community gifts.
 
 
According to Gullone, each of the scholarships provide a nice financial boost to local Clinton students continuing their education.  She says they range from a one time award to some that provide financial assistance each of the four years the recipient attends college.
 
 
Gullone explains the winners of the scholarships will go through an interview process.  She says the goal is to award the monies to well-rounded Clinton students.
 
 
The Clinton Community Education Foundation Scholarship Committee will begin the process of narrowing down the applications in the coming weeks.  The winners of the awards will be recognized at the annual Gold Star Banquet at Clinton High School in May.

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Clinton Chamber Celebrates Successful Agri-Business Banquet

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau is celebrating another successful event.
 
The Chamber held its annual Agri-Business Banquet in late February at the Clinton Country Club.  Around 100 people turned out for the event, which featured a meal, door prizes, and discussion.  Marian Brisard, Executive Director of the Chamber, notes the program featured a panel discussion with four local DeWitt County farmers.  She says that was a change from previous events.
 
 
The evening also featured a presentation from Nick Anderson of the Illinois Livestock Development Group.  According to Brisard, the event was once again well received and supported by the community.  She says without that support, the annual Agri-Business Banquet would not be possible.
 
 
The banquet also served as a fundraiser for the Clinton High School FFA Chapter.  The Chamber awarded the chapter 250-dollars for their help at the event.
 
The four farmers featured on the panel discussion were: Rick Dean, Robert Klem, Steve Mayfield, and Greg Anderson.  You can hear all of their comments all this week on WHOW on the Morning Farm Show with Jared White.  It airs at 6:40am, and then is repeated at 1:10pm.  You can also listen to the program on demand online at IllinoisFarmRadio.com.
 
 
Pic:  Janell Baum-Thomas, the Clinton Chamber’s Agri-Business Banquet committee chairperson, awarded a check to Clinton High School FFA members Tennyson Kern and Megan Finfrock at the event held on February 25, 2017 at Clinton Country Club.  This year’s banquet marks the tenth year for this event.  Since 2008, the CHS FFA has received over $2,000.00 from the Agri-Business Banquet sponsors.
 

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Taylorville Schools Seek Tax Hike

A cash-strapped central Illinois school district would face steep budget cuts if voters reject a property tax increase next month.
 
Residents who live within the Taylorville School District are being asked to pay an additional 85 cents per $100 of net assessed value of each individual's property to help provide funding for the district.
 
The referendum on the April 4 ballot comes as the district faces a $1.8 million budget deficit.
 
The local school board approved about $1 million in cuts last month for the 2017-18 school year.
 
Those cuts include eliminating several teaching and staff positions, scrapping extracurricular programs and canceling junior high, freshman and junior varsity athletics.
 
Board members plan to restore many of the proposed cuts if the referendum passes.

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IL River Projects Considered

Seven locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers are under consideration by President Donald Trump's administration in his stated push to make the nation's infrastructure "second to none."
 
Representatives from Illinois and four other Midwest states are working to make sure the river projects, as well as the ecological restoration efforts tied to them, become a priority.
 
The Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program was approved by Congress in 2007 but has been shelved due to lack of funding.
 
The proposal targets five Mississippi River locks on the western edge of Illinois, from near Quincy to northwest of Alton, and two on the Illinois River - one near Peoria and the other near Beardstown. A decade ago, the project had a $4.2 billion price tag.

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IL Lawmaker Proposes $15 Minimum Wage

A NEW CAMPAIGN IS RENEWING THE PUSH TO RAISE THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE TO 15 DOLLARS AN HOUR. 
 
SUPPORTERS SAYS UP TO 40 PERCENT OF ALL WORKERS IN ILLINOIS EARN LESS THAN 15 DOLLARS AN HOUR. REPRESENTATIVE WILL GUZZARDI OF CHICAGO IS INTRODUCING LEGISLATION TO HELP THOSE PEOPLE OUT.
 
 
UNDER THE BILL…THE WAGE WOULD GRADUALLY BE INCREASED FROM THE CURRENT EIGHT DOLLARS 25 CENTS AN HOUR, TO 15 BUCKS AN HOUR BY 2022. THE FIRST INCREASE WOULD BE IN JANUARY TO NINE DOLLARS.
 
GUZZARDI SAYS THE “15 FOR ILLINOIS’ FUTURE CAMPAIGN” IS MEANT TO BRING WORKERS OUT OF POVERTY AND END CORPORATE WELFARE.
 
 
GUZZARDI  ADDS THERE WOULD BE TAX OFFSETS TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES COPE WITH THE HIGHER LABOR COSTS.

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Cong. Davis Continues Attempts To Repeal ACA

Congressman Rodney Davis continues to be at the forefront of efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Critics have often pointed to the mandatory aspect of the health insurance law as one of their complaints. Congressman Rodney Davis says there's an added wrinkle.....
 
 
Davis says hospitals are also dealing with a growing number of writeoffs of bills for insured customers.

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LaHood Touts GOP Health Plan

Congressman Darin LaHood is touting what he sees as the benefits of a Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. LaHood says the proposal will defer to states to make key decisions on medicaid....
 
 
LaHood says competition is king, borders are not with the GOP plan....
 
 
LaHood is happy to see that adult children are able to stay on family insurance plans into their mid 20s and he also is happy with the effort to avoid discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions. 

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IL Urban Sprawls Slows

Up until nearly 10 years ago it seemed to some that housing subdivisions dotted with so-called 'McMansions' and strip mall development around Chicago would continue unbridled. The real estate bust, and now the closings of thousands of brick-and-mortar retail stores, could slow that trend. Karl Kettelkamp farms in Kanville west of Chicago;
 
 
A University of Illinois official told the Chicago Tribune late last year that weak job growth in the state coupled by the state's budget impasse will, in his words, 'stifle' housing sales in the Chicago area. 

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IL Unveils Human Trafficking Awareness

STATE OFFICIALS ARE REMINDING THE PUBLIC THAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS A PROBLEM RIGHT HERE IN ILLINOIS. 
 
HUMAN TRAFFICKING CAN INCLUDE BEING FORCED TO PERFORM LABOR OR WORK AS A PROSTITUTE…AND OFTEN INVOLVES MINORS. STATE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES DIRECTOR GEORGE SHELDON SAYS SINCE 2011 THERE HAVE BEEN 821 ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING IN ILLINOIS.
 
 
SIGNS INCLUDE INDICATIONS OF PHYSICAL HARM, SPENDING A LOT OF TIME WITH AN OLDER BOYFRIEND OR GIRLFRIEND, ISOLATION FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND FREQUENTLY RUNNING AWAY. THE D-C-F-S HOTLINE NUMBER IS: 1-800-25-ABUSE.

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Clinton Rotary Alumni Basketball Game Right Around the Corner

The annual alumni basketball game at Clinton High School hosted by the Clinton Rotary is right around the corner.
 
This year, organizer Terry Ijams indicates they have changed from a girls basketball game to a volleyball game. He feels it will be a great change as Clinton's volleyball program has seen a good amount of success.
 
 
The alumni game has always benefited the DeWitt County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Ijams estimates they have donated close to $50-thousand to the group over the 25-plus years of the event.
 
 
Ijams has made the coaches of each squad as a somewhat honorary position and this year there are a few former educators and former coaches taking the reigns in each game.
 
 
This year's event is March 25 at Clinton High School with the women's volleyball game to start at 6:30 pm and the men's basketball game around 8 pm.
 
The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and dewittdailynews.com will have live coverage from the event as well. 

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Early Start Program New to DeWitt-Piatt County

Children's Home and Aid in Bloomington has just received a grant allowing them to expand and offer their Early Start program to DeWitt-Piatt County.
 
At the DeWitt County Coalition meeting this past Monday, Allissa Berberich indicates the program helps at risk mothers and children 0-3 years of age.
 
 
For the program to have the desired effect, they prefer the child to be registered for the program before 2 years old.
 
 
To contact Children's Home and Aid for more information or screening and eligibility call them at 309-827-0374.

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Macon County Seeking Eminent Domain In Beltway Project

The Macon County board wants Illinois lawmakers to give the county authority to use eminent domain to obtain land for a highway project in the northeast part of Decatur.
 
The Herald & Review reports the board is seeking "quick-take authority" to acquire land near Brush College Road and Illinois 48 for part of the planned beltway project.
 
The roughly 8-acre property is located in the area where the beltway would start. When complete the section would provide about six miles of four-lane road.
 
Board members say using eminent domain is a last-case scenario. Chairman Jay Dunn says they'll negotiate with the land owner and pay "a fair price" for the property. But Assistant State's Attorney Michael Baggers says the county hasn't received a response from the property's owner.

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U of I Acting Against Hate Speech

Several University of Illinois academic units are pressing administrators to take a stance against words and actions they say threaten students amid tense debates on what constitutes free speech.
 
Reports indicate that Chancellor Robert Jones sent out a mass email two weeks ago responding to concerns that include harassment of Muslim students and anti-immigrant messages on the quad. Jones asked the campus to combat hateful speech with "speech that builds connections and shared understanding."
 
But faculty from African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and Latino Studies challenged Jones with a petition. The petition proposals include the university condemning hate speech under the Trump administration, supporting vulnerable students and creating legal resources for students in the country illegally.

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Governor Signs Justice Reform

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS SIGNING A NEW LAW THAT SUPPORTERS SAY IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM BILLS THE STATE HAS SEEN).
 
THE LAW WILL HELP PROVIDE MORE TRAUMA SERVICES FOR VICTIMS…AND EXPANDS REHABILITATION PROGRAMS FOR OFFENDERS SAYS GOVERNOR RAUNER.
 
 
ADDITIONALLY…JUDGES WILL HAVE MORE DISCRETION WHEN SENTENCING CRIMINALS. ADVOCATES SAY THE LAW SHOULD SERVE AS A NATIONAL MODEL FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM.

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IL Lawmakers Consider New Tax

Illinois lawmakers are considering expanding the services subject to sales tax.
 
Their list includes eight service categories ranging from landscaping to hair removal. Those services would be taxed at 6.25 percent and raise an estimated $291 million per year.
 
The idea is part of a revenue proposal tied to a Senate compromise intended to break the state's two-year budget stalemate. That plan fell through last month but lawmakers say they'll keep working on it.
 
Democratic Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields is sponsoring the revenue measure that includes both the service tax expansion and an income tax hike.
 
She says taxing services is critical to filling the multibillion dollar budget hole.
 
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has indicated he would entertain the idea. But many members of the business community object.

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State budget crisis may force drug treatment center to close

 
JACKSONVILLE, Ill. - A central Illinois drug treatment center that's been operating for 49 years might be the latest casualty of the state budget crisis as its executive director says it may be forced to close within weeks.
 
Bruce Carter says the a possible closure of the not-for-profit Wells Center in Jacksonville is "directly related" to delayed payments associated with state's lack of a permanent budget since July 2015.
 
He says the center with 32 adult inpatient beds will close in April and all 69 employees at the center and those who treat prison inmates around Illinois will be laid off if the budget crisis isn't resolved.
 
A closure would come as the center has seen demand for services climb during a nationwide heroin epidemic.

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Democrats Want Rauner Administration To Address Needed Cuts

A budget proposal from Governor Bruce Rauner is out of balance according to Senate Democrats. They say Rauner’s proposed spending plan is more than $4 billion more than expected revenues. 
 
Democrats note in order for spending to match revenues every agency needs to cut spending by 20 percent. Democrat Senator Patricia Van Pelt says recently in a committee she asked the Director of Public Health where a cut would come from.
 
 
Van Pelt feels it’s upsetting that Rauner isn’t addressing the realities of the state budget.
 
 
Democrats have been frustrated recently when the Governor seems to kill the Senate’s grand bargain and then refuses to address the cuts needed to balance a budget without a tax increase.

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Congressman LaHood Reflects on GOP Healthcare Plan

Congressman Darin LaHood is touting what he sees as the benefits of a Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. LaHood says the proposal will defer to states to make key decisions on medicaid.
 
 
LaHood says competition is king, borders are not with the GOP plan.
 
 
LaHood is happy to see that adult children are able to stay on family insurance plans into their mid 20s and he also is happy with the effort to avoid discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

After a mild start to the year, March has started to feel more like February with snow in the upcoming forecast. State Climotologist Jim Angel has the details....
 

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Celebrate Clinton Hosting St. Patrick's Day Event

The organization that hosts the Fourth of July celebration on the downtown Clinton Square and puts on the fireworks display in Clinton is hosting an event this weekend to help support those endeavors.
 
Patrick Peterson is Chair of the Celebrate Clinton Association and says their annual St. Patrick's Day dinner and concert is this weekend.
 
 
The event is at the St. John's Catholic Church and gets started at 5:30 pm. For more information visit facebook.com/clintonscelebration.

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Agronomy Day Huge Success

A special agronomy day was held in rural Macon County Thursday under sunny skies and organizers are hailing the event a huge success.
 
Stu Ellis organized the event and says the information available to farmers was amazing. He explains vendors from all sorts of agriculture fields were on hand to display and relay information, primarily about dicamba tolerant soybeans. 
 
 
Ellis adds managing your weed pulling technology is imperative as there are too many weeds that are resistant to herbicides.
 
 
TPS lab in Texas has a program that focuses on pH soil, high organic matter which is no problem for soil that could easily raise yields for a lot of farms with minimal effort.
 
 
In this day and age, every bushel counts, making it necessary to optimize production and minimize cost. With that in mind, Malcolm Head and LG Seeds focuses on genetics first, ensuring that crops get the nutrients they need.
 
 
Hear more from the agronomy day in Macon on the WHOW farm show in the coming weeks.

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Push To Keep State Worker Pay Coming

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court to take up the issue of whether state employee paydays can continue without a state budget. Madigan filed a motion yesterday asking the state's high court to quickly take up the issue, bypassing a ruling from the state appellate court. State workers have continued to be paid even without a state budget because of a preliminary injunction issued in 2015 by a St. Clair County judge. 
 
Last year, though, the state Supreme Court ruled in a separate case that state workers owed previously denied wage increases could not be paid without an appropriation in place. Madigan said the original court ruling has enabled Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly to avoid passing a budget
 
Republicans feel that a possible way to solve this is a bill sponsored by House Republican Avery Bourne. She is backing a bill that creates a continuing appropriation for state worker pay.
 
 
State lawmakers and Judges are paid on a continuing basis. But right now lawmaker pay has been sent in line with every other state bill and lawmakers are waiting months to be paid. 

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Warner Hospital to Purchase New Mammography Machine

A new 3D mammography machine is in the works for Warner Hospital and Health Services. 
 
The digital machine that they currently have is on it's way out and they're pushing for an upgrade rather than to forego mammography altogether. Paul Skowron, CEO of the hospital, indcates a 3D mammography machine is something the community requires for the hospital to be considered a medical provider of choice.
 
 
Chris Kelly adds patient education is key.
 
 
The digital mammography machine is up for inspection in August and is not expected to pass.

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DeWitt County Coalition Meeting Highlights

Life Center for Independent Living's Community Reintegration program and the Personal Assistant program are in danger of having their funding taken away by the state due to lack of progress with the programs throughout the state of Illinois.
 
That's the message from Vicki Hogan at the DeWitt County Coalition meeting from Monday at the DOVE Office. She explains there is a great need for these programs to assist the community.
 
 
The state doesn't count people who have worked as Personal Assistants before causing the numbers for active PAs to go down and the government to retract state funding because of these low numbers.
 
 
On a lighter note, Life CIL's annual Wheelchair Basketball fundraiser is coming up on April 8th at Kingsley Junior High School in Normal. This is a great way for them to subsidize the moneys not coming in from the state. 
 
 
The proceeds from this event will benefit Life CIL, which assists people with disabilities achieve and maintian independent lifestyles, as well as provide two scholarships to the University of Illinois Youth Wheelchair Sports Camps.
 
If you would like to learn more about about Community Reintegration, becoming a Personal Assistant for someone with disabilities, or about tickets for their upcoming fundraiser contact Life CIL's offices in Bloomington at 309-663-5433 or in Pontiac at 815-844-1132.

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Governor Stepping Initiative Against Hate Crimes

Governor Bruce Rauner is announcing new plans to step up the state's efforts to fight hate crimes. 
 
THE GOVERNOR SAYS WE LIVE IN TURBULENT TIMES, CITING RECENT ACTS OF HATRED LIKE CEMETERY VANDALISM AND BOMB THREATS AT A JEWISH DAY SCHOOL IN CHICAGO. HE LAID OUT INITIATIVES TO CURB HATE FUELED VIOLENCE AT A DINNER HELD BY THE ILLINOIS HOLOCAUST MUSEUM, SUCH AS A BILL CREATING TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR HATE CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS CENTERS.
 
 
RAUNER SAYS HE ALSO WANTS TO EXPAND ANTI-HATE EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS AND TO CREATE A STANDARDIZED TRAINING PROGRAM FOR POLICE POLICE STATEWIDE ON RESPONDING TO HATE CRIMES.
 
 
THE GOVERNOR ALSO WANTS A STATEWIDE LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM ON RESPONDING TO HATE CRIMES, AND TOUGHER LAWS FOR ACTS OF VANDALISM AND VIOLENCE AGAINST CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS CENTERS.

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Area of Clinton Under Boil Order

Areas of Clinton are under a boil order this morning.
 
At approximately 9:30 pm Wednesday night, the order was issued by the city.
 
The area is the 100 block of N. Quincy, 200 block of W. Washington and 200 Block of N. Jackson. 
 
For information or questions, contact the City water department at 935-3432 during regular hours. 

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Warner Hospital and Health Services Board To Welcome New Member Tonight

When the Warner Hospital and Health Services Board of Directors meets tonight, they will welcome a new face to ther group.
 
Nate Ennis was approved to join the hospital board Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting and says he looks forward to learning and contributing.
 
 
The City-owned facility in the last year has started a re-branding effort and Ennis hopes to continue to end the stigma of the hospital he grew up with. 
 
 
Ennis has been in touch with board members and Board President Aaron Kammeyer. He explains this was an opportunity that came together rather quickly. He looks forward to getting up to speed on the things happening but hopes to share his ideas when necessary. 

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Start Up Car Company Takes Over Bloomington-Normal Plant

A start up car company has taken over the former Mitsubishi plant in Bloomington Normal. 
 
The company, Rivian, is based in Detroit and is expected to build electric cars. Governor Bruce Rauner was a ribbon cutting ceremony at the factory and says that the state and local governments used tax credits get the company to central Illinois.
 
 
Rivian has hopes of employing a 1,000 people at the plant. 
 

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Congressman Davis Hoping To Address Student Debt Crisis

The next bubble that bursts is how Congressman Rodney Davis describes the student debt crisis facing the country.
 
With that in mind, as Congressman Davis works in Washington, he says that is the focus of some legislation he is crafting and hopes to work on with his colleagues in Washington, DC.
 
 
Congressman Davis hopes to provide incentives for employers to help students pay off their student loans. He says so far, he's gotten positive feedback.
 
 
The perks for employers would include deducting the subsidy provided to employees and would help them recruit and retain young people who have completed their education. 

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Sen. Duckworth Meets With Farm Bureau Members

US Senator Tammy Duckworth met Tuesday with Illinois Farm Bureau members participating in the Leaders to Washington program. Duckworth was glad to hear from the group discuss a number of important ag issues.
 
 
The Leaders to Washington group is comprised of more than 30 Illinois Farm Bureau members from throughout the state. Senator Duckworth says she was pleased to receive a strong message from agriculture.
 
 
Senator Duckworth was a guest on RFD Illinois Wednesday discussing her meeting with Farm Bureau members.

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Legislation Elminates Statute of Limitations in Sex Crimes Against Children

LEGISLATION IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE WOULD GIVE CHILD SEX ABUSE VICTIMS MORE TIME TO REPORT THE CRIME. 
 
THE MEASURE ELIMINATES THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR PROSECUTING FELONY SEX CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN. ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN IS A LEAD PROPONENT OF THE BILL, SAYING IT CAN TAKE CHILD ABUSE VICTIMS SEVERAL YEARS TO COME FORWARD.
 
 
 IT’S SUPPORTED BY SCOTT CROSS, WHO SAYS HE WAS AN ABUSE VICTIM OF FORMER U-S HOUSE SPEAKER DENNIS HASTERT.
 
 
MADIGAN IS ALSO A MAJOR PROPONENT OF THE LEGISLATION, SAYING MOST OFTEN, THE ABUSER IS AN ADULT THE CHILD KNOWS WELL WHICH MAKES IT ESPECIALLY HARD FOR THE VICTIM TO REPORT THE CRIME.
 
MADIGAN SAYS IT’S ESTIMATED NATIONALLY THAT 25 PERCENT OF GIRLS AND 16 PERCENT OF BOYS ARE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED OR ABUSED BEFORE THEY TURN 18.

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Governor Has Concerns Over Affordable Care Act Changes

How might Illinois fare in the proposed changes to Affordable Care Act? The Governor says it bears watching but he says that the current health care act is anything but affordable. 
 
The state has a number of residents taking part in some kind of federal healthcare, about 1 in 4 citizens are on Medicaid. And the state’s getting more than $14 billion to support the program.
 
 
The plan from House Republicans would possibly reduce the amount of funds the state gets to run Medicaid. 

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Frerichs Seeking Answers From Trump Administration on Medical Marijuana

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs wants clarity from the Trump Administration on their intentions in dealing with the medical marijuana industry in Illinois. 
 
He has sent his second letter to the Trump Administration after White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that he expects states to be subject to “greater enforcement” of federal laws against marijuana use. 
 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions complained President Obama wasn't tough enough on marijuana and called it dangerous. 
 
Frerichs is especially concerned heightened enforcement of laws that could shut down banks that have a relationship with the medical marijuana industry. 
 
 
Frerichs fears vague talk of greater enforcement could also impact doctors who prescribe medical marijuana. 
 
Illinois is one of 23 states that permit the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of pre approved medical conditions. 
 
Frerichs has not received a response from the Trump Administration.

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David Gill Makes Another Bid For Congress

A past opponent of Congressman Rodney Davis hopes the third time is the charm. 
 
David Gill fell to Davis while represetning Democrats in the General Election in 2012. Last year, he tried another run against Davis as an independent but his court challenge against state standards requiring more signatures than traditional party candidates failed. 
 
He plans to run again next year, once again as a Democrat. Gill is a Bloomington based emergency room physician. 
 
He previously served as the Assistant Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health during the Pat Quinn era.

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Deadlines Approaching for 4-H Programs

If you have children that participate in 4-H, there are a few upcoming programs with registration deadlines approaching.
 
University of Illinois Extension Youth Educator Sherry Fulton indicates a special program called 'Science To Make Art' is this Saturday but the deadline is this Thursday. She feels it should be a fun day for 4-H participants.
 
 
According to Fulton they were fortunate enough to have a willing volunteer lead the program. She explains anytime they can get someone to volunteer their time for these types of programs, it is always welcome.
 
 
Additionally, the sign up deadline is coming up for an upcoming woodworking workshop. Fulton says now is the time to get signed up as there is only eight spaces available.
 
 
These opportunities are just another example of the kinds of ways 4-H can help nurture a young person's interests and even spark something that could lead to great things as an adult.
 
For more information on the upcoming workshops and other deadlines for 4-H-ers, contact the University of Illinois Extension office by phone at 217-935-5764. 

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Washington Reacts To New Trump Travel Ban

Washington is reacting to President Trump's new travel ban for a number of Muslim majority countries. 
 
Senator Dick Durbin released a statement... saying “No amount of relabeling will change the fact that President Trump’s travel ban is unconstitutional and un-American. 
 
Trump’s first travel ban was blocked by multiple federal courts, and his latest will no doubt face the same fate.” 
 
Congressman Rodney Davis saw positive developments in the revised ban, saying quote “I’m glad President Trump is taking steps to clarify his executive order, especially the exclusion of those who have already gone through the very lengthy process to obtain legal status. I hope there were some lessons learned from last time and the implementation of this new executive order is successful because these are steps needed to secure programs that even Obama security officials admitted were not secure.”

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Rauner Suing Mendoza

Governor Bruce Rauner has been named as a defendant in lawsuits in St. Clair County,this time he is the plaintiff. 
 
The Rauner Administration is suing Comptroller Susana Mendoza over pay for nearly 600 Central Management Services workers. He maintains Mendoza is violating a 2015 court order by covering their paychecks through two revolving funds instead of through the state general fund. Rauner addressed state workers through a Facebook video Monday.
 
 
The lawsuit claims paychecks for the CMS workers could be disrupted tomorrow if the matter is not resolved.

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Gambling Expansion Discussed

There are higher hopes than in the past for gambling expansion legislation, although some are questioning the revenue impact of adding casinos in six locations. 
 
Although the grand bargain was derailed this past week, the casinos plan did get the endorsement of the Senate. The state has 10 profitable casinos. 
 
But the legislation recognizes competition would cut into existing riverboats' profit. So it would cut the tax rate on casino revenue significantly. 
 
One analysis found the expansion would only increase tax profits by only $87 million a year.

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Grain Bin Safety During National Safety Week

Ag Safety Awareness Program Week is March 5-11, with the theme of Get Out of My Space. Each day has its own program, and Monday was about confined spaces. This includes grain bins, manure pits, and other potential dangers on the farm.
 
For grain bins, Dave Newcomb with the Illinois Fire Service Institute says to stay out of bins unless it’s absolutely necessary. He says if you must go in, be sure to first shut off all equipment and then use a lock-out tag-out system to alert others you’ve entered a bin. 
 
54-percent of grain bin entrapments are fatal. Newcomb says there is a protective system that can be worn when entering a bin.
 
 
Bin safety is also important for the family member who discovers the entrapment. Newcomb says 60-percent of victims are would-be rescuers.
 
 
Newcomb adds that many rural fire departments need more volunteers to help service communities, and many departments don’t have members with farm experience, increasing the need for training.

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Coliseum Closing At Illinois State Fairgrounds

It's no surprise, but state agriculture officials have confirmed there won't be a comeback for the shuttered Coliseum in time for the Illinois State Fair. 
 
The 116-year-old building, known for its horse shows, has been closed since October due to structural concerns. 
 
Seven shows have already left the fairgrounds for alternative sites, including four horse shows and a midget-car race. 

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Durbin Wants Independent Investigation of Russian Involvement in US Election

Senator Dick Durbin is calling for an independent investigation of alleged Russian involvement in President Trump's successful campaign for the White House and claims the country meddled in last fall's election. 
 
Durbin doesn't believe it's a job for no names.
 
 
Durbin wasn't shy about describing the claims in historic terms in recent remarks on the Senate floor.
 
 
Senator Tammy Duckworth is also calling for an independent probe.

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Chicago Goes Week Without Fatal Shooting

Chicago has gone a full week without a fatal shooting for the first time in more than four years. 
 
The Chicago Sun-Times reports the city passed the milestone Sunday morning, marking the first time has gone as long since the newspaper began tracking every shooting death in January 2013. 
 
Until then, the last fatal shooting occurred Feb. 26.

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City Council Discusses Changes To Garbage Clean Up At Apple n' Pork

Certain residents of Clinton and vendors who sell on Center Street during the Apple n' Pork Festival my be asked to take on an additional expense starting next year.
 
Commissioner of Streets for the Clinton City Council, Nan Crang (right), Monday night asked the Council to start considering alternatives for trash receptacles and pick during the weekend. It's her contention the cost of trash for vendors on Center Street should not be incurred by the City. 
 
 
According to City Administrator Tim Followell, AREA Disposal placed trash receptacles out Friday prior to last year's festivities. By the time Saturday had rolled around, those were full and a special trip was required by AREA to empty them. 
 
 
Crang is proposing bringing the residents of Center Street together to discuss ways to work together but Followell indicates that was tried once in the past and there was very limited participation.
 
 
There was limited discussion from the Council Monday but Crang did hope to have a resolution by the end of the month.
 
Also at Monday's City Council meeting:
 
>>Nate Ennis was approved to the Warner Hospital and Health Services Board of Directors. 
 
>>The Council approved the sale of real estate at 1150 West State Highway 54
 
>>The City approved the purchase of a mini excavator from Altorfer for the sewer department at a cost just short of $61-thousand. 
 
>>The Council also approved the purchase of a trailer for the sewer department at a cost just over $6-thousand. 

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DeWitt County Friendship Center Welcomes Sizable Donation

DeWitt County non-profit groups are celebrating a recent endowment from a local resident who recently passed on, leaving a number of sizeable donations to area groups. 
 
Bill Davenport passed away in July of last year, and part of his endowment was $100-thousand contributions to area non-profit groups like Community Action, the Clinton Community Education Foundation, and the DeWitt County Friendship Center. Executive Director of the Friendship Center, Sissy Leggett, indicates the donation was overwhelming.
 
 
Leggett indicates there are several projects they could take on with the funds, the biggest being their needed parking lot expansion. She says they are still holding out hope a grant they received could be received still.
 
 
Leggett says for now, the Center will put those funds away and begin to come up with a plan based on how their yearly fundraisers go and what kinds of donations they get.
 
The Friendship Center operates on a budget of about $100-thousand per year. 

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Miller Park Zoo Hosting Meetings For Award Winning Program

An award winning program for a Bloomington/Normal entity is about to get underway with a series of informational meetings this week.
 
The Miller Park Zoo's Junior Zookeeper programs is very popular and Superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo, Jay Tetzloff indicates they are having a series of meetings this week to get potential volunteers introduced to it.
 
 
According to Tetzloff, volunteers are doing a number of things but he feels it's a great learning experience for anyone who might love nature, animals or conservation.
 
 
Volunteers that get into the program start somewhat slow in the program but can work their way up as they get older and get more experience. Tetzloff says they will learn a lot of the zoo and animals in general.
 
 
The meetings for the Junior Zookeeper program start tonight and run through Thursday from 7 pm to 8 pm and if you want to be in the program you must attend one of the meetings at the Bloomington Zoo. 
 
For more information, visit millerparkzoo.org. 

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Agronomy Day Coming Later This Week

Area farmers with questions about the use of Dicamba tolerant soybeans on their operations are invited to a free conference this week.  Local Farm Broadcaster, Jared White has more....
 

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Effort To Keep Rural Water Clean Reports Progress

With investments from Illinois farmers now totaling 10-million dollars, the statewide Nutrient Research and Education Council reports its research has yielded a sizeable number of tools to keep organic and inorganic nutrients in place on Illinois farm fields. 
 
The council collects 75-cents on the sale of each ton of inorganic fertilizer. That money goes into a pool for research to help farmers keep fertilizer in place for crops and out of lakes, streams and rivers. 
 
Jeff Kirwan farms near New Windsor in Mercer County and serves as the Illinois Farm Bureau's representative on the council. He believes Illinois farmers are taking the water quality challenge seriously;
 
 
Illinois farmers and others can find specific results of N-REC research at the organization's website; that's Illinois-N-R-E-C-dot_org.

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Recall Of Soy-Nut Butter Over E-Coli Concerns

THE I-M HEALTH SOY-NUT BUTTER COMPANY IS VOLUNTARILY RECALLING ITS PRODUCTS OVER CONCERNS ABOUT E-COLI INFECTION. 
 
THE COMPANY IS HEADQUARTERED IN ILLINOIS AND IT’S NUT-FREE PEANUT BUTTER SUBSTITUTE HAS BEEN LINKED TO CASES IN MULTIPLE STATES SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MELANEY ARNOLD.
 
 
ARNOLD RECOMMENDS NOT EATING ANY VARIETY OF I-M HEALTH BRAND SOY-NUT BUTTER OR GRANOLA COATED WITH SOY-NUT BUTTER. SYMPTOMS OF E-COLI INFECTION INCLUDE SEVERE STOMACH CRAMPS, DIARRHEA AND VOMITING.
 
E-COLI INFECTION CAN BE SERIOUS, ESPECIALLY IN YOUNG CHILDREN.

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Treasurer Says Choice Savings Program Could Be in Jeopardy

ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS SAYS THE STATE’S NEW SECURE CHOICE SAVINGS PROGRAM FOR PRIVATE SECTOR WORKERS MAY BE IN JEOPARDY. 
 
THE U-S HOUSE RECENTLY ADOPTED RESOLUTIONS OVERTURNING FEDERAL RULES THAT HELPED ILLINOIS CREATE THE PROGRAM. THE MATTER IS NOW BEFORE THE SENATE AND FRERICHS IS URGING A NO VOTE. HE SAYS SECURE CHOICE IS NEEDED IN ILLINOIS TO HELP WORKERS SAVE FOR RETIREMENT.
 
 
FRERICHS SAYS THE INITIATIVE IS NEEDED FOR THE MORE THAN ONE MILLION WORKERS WHO DON’T HAVE AN EMPLOYER BASED SAVINGS OPTION AND AREN’T SAVING ON THEIR OWN.
 
 
THE U-S HOUSE PASSED RESOLUTIONS OVERTURNING THE RULES AND THEY NOW FACE A VOTE IN THE SENATE. ILLINOIS WAS THE FIRST STATE IN THE NATION TO CREATE SUCH A PROGRAM. IT’S SCHEDULED TO BEGIN NEXT YEAR AND IS DESIGNED FOR EMPLOYEES OF SMALL TO MEDIUM SIZE BUSINESSES THAT DON’T HAVE A WORKPLACE SAVINGS PROGRAM.

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Attorney General Looking Into Age Discrimination Practices

ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN’S OFFICE IS LOOKING INTO POSSIBLE AGE DISCRIMINATION ON NATIONAL JOB SEARCH WEBSITES.
 
MADIGAN’S OFFICE SENT LETTERS TO SIX COMPANIES INCLUDING MONSTER, CAREER BUILDER AND INDEED, WARNING THEM THAT SOME OLDER JOB SEEKERS ARE HAVING TROUBLE USING THEIR SITES. SPOKESPERSON EILEEN BOYCE SAYS THAT COULD BE A PROBLEM.
 
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BOYCE SAYS ON SOME OF THE SITES, THE DROP DOWN MENU TO LIST THE YEAR OF PREVIOUS JOB EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION DOESN’T GO BACK FAR ENOUGH, LEAVING SENIORS WITH INCOMPLETE RESUMES.
 
 
THE COMPANIES THAT WERE SENT LETTERS INCLUDE CAREER BUILDER, MONSTER AND BEYOND DOT COM.

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Weekly Weather Update

It was a wild weather week in Illinois. Things started warm, followed by a cold spell. State Climotologist Jim Angel indicates we'll become more mild for the weekend and to start next week.
 

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AFSCME Scores Big Court Win

A victory for AFSCME in their ongoing battle with Governor Rauner. 
 
The state's Fourth District Appellate Court has just ruled in favor of the largest state workers union, placing a hold on the state labor relations board ruling that the union and Rauner Administration were at an impasse, which would allow Rauner to impose contract terms. 
 
AFSCME was previously granted a temporary stay. AFSCME says the court predicated its ruling on a finding that the union has demonstrated a “reasonable likelihood” of prevailing in its appeal. 
 
AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch says “Today’s decision is in the best interest of all the people of Illinois, both public service workers and the millions of citizens who rely on their important work.
 
“We strongly urge Governor Rauner to join us in the spirit of compromise and return to bargaining in good faith to reach an agreement that is truly fair to all.”
 
Rauner officials say they are disappointed with the court decision and are still analyzing it.

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DeWitt County Friendship Center's Largest Fundraiser Saturday

The DeWitt County Friendship Center's annual ham and bean and cake auction fundraiser is this Saturday.
 
Executive Director Sissy Leggett says so many community members come together to help make the annual event a huge success.
 
 
Last year's event was a record-setter for the ham and bean and cake fundraiser but Leggett indicates a typical year with net them around $4-thousand.
 
 
Doors open for the ham and bean supper at 5 pm with the cake auction to start at approximately 6:30 pm.
 
For more information, contact the Friendship Center at 217-935-9411.
 
Leggett indicates the Friendship Center operates on a roughly $100-thousand yearly budget and notes fundraisers like these are a huge importance for their mission to be a resource for the County's seniors. 

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Clinton Schools Leader Says Schools Back To Keeping Track of State's Debt

The days of driving by a public school with the scrolling marquee displaying how much the state owed came and went for a short time, but now you might notice more of those messages when driving through rural Illinois.
 
Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles says it's not just schools that are not being paid right now and he says it comes down to a lack of revenue for the State's Comptroller to dish out state funds.
 
 
With Superintendents voicing frustrations over the lack of funds coming in for things like transportation and special education, the Governor proposed fully funding those areas and Nettles says that is great, but the base formula for those things have not changed in half a decade.
 
 
While the transportation and special education funds have remained behind and underfunded for some time, Nettles did give the state credit that while the general state aid formula is also stagnant, the payments this year have at least been timely and fully funded.
 
 
Superintendents are likely looking at a property tax freeze as a part of any bargain that may take place in Springfield. Nettles indicates the issue with the tax freeze legislation is any growth or increase in EAV for an area cannot be tapped into, which could cost tens - even thousands - of hundreds of dollars for area schools. 

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Lincoln Mayor Welcomes Mayor-Elect With Encouragement

The City of Lincoln's voters earlier this week chose a new Mayor in the primary for the upcoming April election.
 
Seth Goodman was among a small handful of challengers to current Mayor Marti Neitzel (right). Mayor Neitzel reached out to Goodman the night of the primary and indicates Goodman will have plenty of good leadership and guidance in his first time on the local political scene.
 
 
With still another few months in the Mayor's chair, Mayor Neitzel says she will continue to do as she's done the last few years, and that is put the people of Lincoln first.
 
 
Goodman is a local realtor in Lincoln and a graduate of Lincoln High School. 

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Americans Not As Extreme As Perceived

While President Trump has tried to demonize C-N-N, the New York Times, Politico and some other media outlets, at least one political pundit with the cable news channel says its time for Americans in the middle to stand up and be counted. 
 
Michael Smerconish (smerr-CON-ish) often provides commentary for C-N-N, and told farmers meeting in Springfield this week that most of America doesn't swing far left or far right politically;
 
 
Smerconish told a meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau in Springfield that middle America - both physically and politically, need to get active;
 
 
Governor Rauner and many members of the General Assembly also stopped by the meeting that attracted more than 400 Illinois farmers and other Farm Bureau members to the capital city.

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AFSCME Hoping For Extended Stay

Negotiations between the Rauner Administration and the largest union for state workers have turned into a war in the court of public opinion. 
 
Anders Lindall with AFSCME Local Council 31 is hopeful the temporary stay that has prevented Governor Rauner from imposing contract terms will stick around a while longer.
 
 
While union members voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike authorization vote, Lindall says picket lines are not a favored option.
 
 
81% of AFSCME members supported a strike authorization vote.

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LIHEAP Season Wrapping Up for Community Action

A local community outreach program is assisting low income families with their utility bills.
 
Alison Rumler-Gomez, executive director of Community Action, indicates that LIHEAP helps low income families to manage their utility bills. They also offer counseling to help decrease their energy costs.
 
 
Gomez states that for the five county area they assist, Community Action has received less applications than usual due to the unseasonably warm weather. Community Action uses a large portion of the funds they receive to support LIHEAP. Gomez indicates that they have a few walk in appointments available the first week of March.
 
 
Applications for LIHEAP must be completed before the end of the fiscal year, June 30. For more information contact Community Action at (217) 935-2455 or visit their website, capcil.info.

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City Park Being Renovated in Monticello

A Monticello community park is being restored.
 
Mayor Larry Stoner indicates the park which sits across the street from the Monticello Municipal Building and off one of their main roads, will undergo an extensive renovation as we head towards the spring season.
 
 
According to the Mayor, eventually the park will expand to include a gazebo dedicated to a young resident who had passed away. He says the park renovation will be implemented in several phases.
 
 
Park improvements have been the focus of Monticello in recent years. Mayor Stoner indicates they have a five year plan that includes developing about 30 acres and makes quite an investment in their parks.
 
 
The park restoration for Monticello comes ahead of a likely ground breaking this spring for the community's planned new water treatment facility. 

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February Warmest, Ninth Driest on Record

LAST MONTH WAS THE WARMEST FEBRUARY ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. 
 
IT WAS SURE A MILD MONTH…WITH THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE COMING IN AT A BALMY 40 POINT FIVE DEGREES SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL.
 
 
LAST MONTH WAS ALSO THE NINTH DRIEST FEBRUARY RECORDED IN ILLINOIS…WITH STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MORE THAN AN INCH BELOW NORMAL.

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Senate Puts Off Grand Bargain Vote

THE ANTICPATED VOTES ON THE SENATE'S BUDGET AND REFORM PACKAGE WERE CANCELLED WEDNESDAY OVER CONCERNS THERE WASN'T ENOUGH REPUBLICAN SUPPORT.
 
TOUGH VOTES ON ISSUES LIKE WORKER'S COMPENSATION REFORM WERE EXPECTED WEDNESDAY, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON ANNOUNCED THE SO-CALLED "GRAND BARGAIN" HAD BEEN PUT ON HOLD. HE SAID GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER PULLED G-O-P VOTES OFF PACKAGE AND THAT THE BALL IS NOW IN HIS COURT.
 
 
SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHRISTINE RADOGNO CALLED THIS LONG NEGOTIATING PROCESS BOTH REWARDS AND FRUSTRATING, AND EXPRESSED OPTIMISM THEY COULD STILL PASS THE SO-CALLED "GRAND BARGAIN."
 
 
A SPOKESPERSON FOR GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS WHILE SOME PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE, MORE WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE TO ENSURE A GOOD DEAL FOR TAXPAYERS.

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Workforce Investment Solutions Helps You Find Employment

If you've lost your job or are out of work and having a difficult time finding employment, Workforce Investment Solutions is there to help take away the stress and fear of being unemployed with several services and resources.
 
Whether you are looking to be re-employed right away or are looking to go back to school to change career paths, Larry Peterson, Special Projects Consultant, explains they are there to support you.
 
 
Rocki Wilkerson, the new Executive Director of Workforce Investment Solutions, indicates the partnership between Investment Solutions and local employers is what it's going to take to build a more effective workforce in the area.
 
 
Most programs are free, but because of government funding, there are some scenarios where that wouldn't be the case. However, according to Wilkerson, there are still services that you can take advantage of that are no cost to you. 
 
 
If you'd like to get in touch with Workforce Investment Solutions stop in to 757 West Pershing Road in Decatur or give them a call at 217-857-8750.

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Miller Park Zoo Reports Record Breaking February

The Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington had a record breaking month for attendance due to the unseasonably warm winter weather.
 
According to superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo, Jay Tetzloff, the mild weather is to thank for shattering the all time attendance record set just last year.
 
 
Tetzloff adds that community attendance was expected to increase due to the inclusion of a new exhibit. That after a record setting year in 2015.
 
 
In addition to the weather, Free Fridays in February were a part of the increased attendance which Tetzloff says coincided nicely with the unseasonably warm weather.

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Senate Continues Working Towards Grand Bargain

THE ILLINOIS SENATE IS RESUMING VOTES ON THE PROPOSED "GRAND BARGAIN" WITH MIXED RESULTS. 
 
A FEW OF THE LESS CONTENTIOUS COMPONENTS OF THE DEAL PASSED EARLIER THIS MONTH...AND NOW THE SENATE IS ALSO APPROVING MONEY FOR CHICAGO TEACHER PENSIONS, A SPENDING PLAN TO GET THE STATE THROUGH THE END OF THIS FISCAL YEAR AND AN EXPANSION OF GAMBLING WHICH IS SUPPORTED BY SENATOR DAVE SYVERSON OF ROCKFORD.
 
 
SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON ALSO ASKED HIS COLLEAGUES TO APPROVE ONE OF THE MAJOR PIECES OF LEGSISLATION... PENSION REFORM.
 
 
A PENSION REFORM BILL DID NOT PASS, WHICH IS A PROBLEM SINCE IF ONE BILL IN THE GRAND BARGAIN FAILS, THE ENTIRE DEAL FALLS APART.

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Rauner Skips Visit To White House

The Governor came back to Springfield before he and other Governors had a chance to talk with President Trump in Washington D.C. 
 
Bruce Rauner says while in the nation’s capitol he spent the bulk of his time talking about changes coming to healthcare. But he skipped out on the meeting at the White House. Rauner says he’s in close contact with policy makers in D.C. surrounding issues important to Illinois, including how slow violent crime in Illinois.
 
 
Rauner refused to say exactly who he talked to inside of the White House.

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Trump Attempts Roll Back of Controversial Federal Rule

President Trump inked another executive order Tuesday – this one that among other things puts a former Obama administration rule on hold that some believe allowed the federal government to regulate ditches. The order actually attempts to ditch the federal E-P-A’s infamous ‘Waters of the U-S’ rule that has riled many farmers and other landowners;
 
 
Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert welcomed the news. The Ellis Grove farmer, several other farmers in Illinois -- and around the country -- have fought the rule ever since E-P-A and the Army Corps of Engineers established it in 2015;
 
 
The federal E-P-A has maintained the rule more clearly defines which waters fall under federal jurisdiction and helps protect water. Farm Bureau and some other groups say the rule expands the agency’s jurisdiction beyond what Congress intended in the federal Clean Water Act and only adds confusion.
 

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Durbin Criticizes Trump's Address

You probably didn't expect Senator Dick Durbin to give rave reviews to President Trump's address to a joint session of Congress. 
 
Durbin took issue with the speech on a number of fronts, saying the President is offering big promises without any plans to achieve them. 
 
Durbin cites what he calls a lack of a concrete strategy to create jobs in America. Durbin is more stingy with praise when it comes to Trump's order to the Department of Homeland Security to create an office called VOICE — Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement.
 
 
Durbin says the President’s crusade to repeal health care would throw tens of millions of people off the insurance rolls, plunge markets into chaos, and blow a massive hole in the deficit. 
 
Durbin also kept up the heat on the Russian front, noting Trump did not discuss Russia's act of cyberwarfare against the US. 
 
Durbin says there's growing evidence that shows the need for an independent investigation of possible Russian ties to the Trump campaign and claims of a cyberattack on last fall's election.

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Duckworth Releases Statement on Trump's First Address

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released the following statement after President Trump’s first address to a Joint Session of Congress tonight:
 
“Since taking office President Trump’s record has been divisive and disheartening, but I remained hopeful that he would view tonight as an opportunity to present the American people with a more positive and inclusive message to move us forward as a nation. Despite initial indications, vague platitudes about a bipartisan infrastructure plan and promises to rein in unfair trade practices, the President’s remarks tonight were anything but unifying.
 
“He largely doubled down on the dark and dangerous rhetoric that has become a pillar of his fledgling Presidency, including his misguided Muslim travel ban and deeply flawed understanding of the causes of gun violence in Chicago and across the country. Tonight was an opportunity for the President to make good on his promises to the American people, to back up his rhetoric with action. He did neither, and his broken promises are beginning to add up.”

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