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Local News

Local Insurance Agency Wins Awards for Service

Peterson Insurance's award winning service has once again merited recognition.
 
In order to receive these awards, Jay Peterson and his staff made several goals and continue to be active in the company and community.
 
 
Last year was their 50th year and Peterson praises the staff, clients and company partners for their continued good fortune. 
 
 
The four awards are the Gold Key Award, Inner Circle Club Award, Underwriter Merit Award, and the Beyond the Expected Agency Award.
 

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Unemployment Rates in Central Illinois Decrease

Unemployment rates for Champaign, DeWitt, Logan, McLean, Macon, and Piatt counties went down in March from February of this year.
 
Champaign County dropped from 4.9 to 4.4 percent. DeWitt from 5.8 to 4.9 percent. Logan from 5.5 to 4.7. McLean from 4.7 to 4.3. Macon 6.3 to 5.7. And Piatt 5.2 to 4.6.
 
All of these counties' unemployment rates have gone down over 1 percent since March 2016 and the state of Illinois has reduced unemployment overall by 1.7 since last March.

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Comptroller Cuts Checks For Healthcare Providers

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is telling health care providers the check is in the mail. 
 
Increased revenues from the tax season have paved the way for her to release more than $800 million in payments for health care services. 
 
The money will go to nearly a dozen managed-care operations in Illinois serving Medicaid patients.

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Congressman Davis Looking For Input on Airline Service

Congressman Rodney Davis is seeking input from constituents on their experience with the airlines.
 
Customer service issues will be discussed at a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on Tuesday. Representatives of major airlines will appear before the committee. 
 
Constituents who would like to share their stories can visit www.Rodneydavis.house.gov.

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Hundreds Rally for Higher Education

Hundreds turned out at a State Capitol rally to support Higher Education. Concerns were expressed about funding for schools and students worried about state MAP grants. 
 
Democratic Gubernatorial candidates were on hand as well with most speakers attacking Governor Bruce Rauner. JB Pritzker summed up the conditions at Illinois public post secondary schools.
 
 
State Senator Daniel Biss gave Rauner credit for helping colleges and universities, the ones beyond Illinois' borders.
 
 
Pritzker said Illinois needs to fight for more affordable college education, Biss believes tuition should be free.

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Weekly Weather Summary

We could see some flooding throughout the weekend as we brace for a lot of rain this weekend. State Climotologist Jim Angel has more....
 

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Chief of Police Discusses Prom

Local authorities are wishing all high school students a pleasant and enjoyable prom season but are also taking the opportunity to provide them with some basic safety reminders.
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers is hoping youth will make good decisions during this prom season. He says saying no to alcohol and drugs and wearing a seatbelt should be top priorities.
 
 
While Chief Lowers says Prom is a great event and hopes all students have a great experience, he says it is always important to address students each year on making sure everyone arrives home for the night safely.
 
 
Earlier this week, students witnessed a re-enactment of a fatality accident at the high school. Chief Lowers says it was designed to demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving. He says following that, students were addressed about those dangers and making good choices.
 
The Chief feels the messages they are trying to get across to the students do get received and received well. 

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Clinton High School Does Well At Envirothon Competition

A group of Clinton High School students performed very well at a state competition this week, but fell just short of a championship.
 
The Illinois Envirothon (En-vi-ro-thon) took place Wednesday and Thursday at Allerton Park in Monticello.  Twenty teams from high schools across the state gathered to take part in two days of testing and presentations on a variety of environmental and conservation topics.  Sondra Baker, coordinator of the event, explains the students compete in five different categories, and the overall winner represents Illinois at a national competition.
 
 
Tennyson Kern, a member of the Clinton High School team, enjoyed the chance to compete with her team.  She says the extra work and studying was worth gaining the extra knowledge about the environment.
 
 
Tori Moreland is coach of the Clinton Envirothon team.  She's proud of the hard work put in by the students.  She feels the competition is a great way for students to "disconnect" and learn about the natural world.
 
 
The Clinton students won three of the six categories at the Envirothon, but just missed out on a top three finish.  Those being: Aquatics, Soils, and Wildlife.  A team from Chicago Lab School was the eventual state champion, and will represent Illinois at the National Envirothon in Maryland this summer.  
 
The members of the Clinton High School team are: Tennyson Kern, Anna Mills, Megan Finfrock, Dylan Earl, and Erin McGee.

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Friends in Action Spaghetti Dinner This Saturday

A local organization that helps take care of seniors is having a fundraiser this Saturday, April the 29th.
 
According to Larry Buss, the community is a huge supporter if Friends in Action especially with the donations of food for the upcoming Spaghetti Dinner from local business.
 
 
Fundraisers like the Spaghetti Dinner, are two fold. They raise money for the organization and gets their message out.
 
 
The dinner is all you can eat this Saturday from 5 to 7. You can purchase tickets at the Friendship Center or you can buy them directly from Larry Buss.

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Cleanup Day At Clinton Lake Moved Back A Week

The cleanup day at Clinton Lake being organized by the Department of Natural Resources for Saturday April 29, has been moved to May 6.
 
Due to weather concerns, officials have decided to reschedule, though, all details of the event will remain the same. 
 
We'll have more on this event next week on Regional Radio News. 

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Lincoln Celebrating The Reopening of The Mill

The Mill in Lincoln opened in 1929 on the original strip of Route 66. 
 
Director of the Route 66 Scenic Byway, Geoff Ladd says in it's history it has been a bar and restaurant but it will be a museum highlighting the history of Route 66.
 
 
The grand reopening of The Mill will feature Governor Bruce Rauner at the event and he will participate in a bike blessing happening and Ladd indicates local leaders will of course be on hand to say a few words.
 
 
Ladd indicates once The Mill is open this weekend, the museum will be open from 1 pm to 4 pm Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment. 
 
Visit Mill66.org for a full list of activities for The Mill's Grand Reopening and for more information about The Mill. 

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Rauner Adjusting To Life on Fairgrounds

Governor Bruce Rauner's transition from the Illinois Executive Mansion to the Director's Home at the Illinois State Fairgrounds may sound more like an episode of Green Acres.
 
 
Rauner's learned that the family that previously resides in the home is staying put.
 
 
Rauner will remain at the Director's Home through next summer as repairs continue at the Executive Mansion.

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Legislation Helps Domestic Violence Victims Leave Their Abuser

STATE LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING ON A BILL TO HELP VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEAVE THEIR ABUSER.
 
THE MEASURE LETS VICTIMS SEPARATE FROM THEIR ABUSER’S CELL PHONE PLAN, WHILE KEEPING THE SAME NUMBER. SENATOR STEVE STADELMAN OF ROCKFORD SAYS THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP IN GETTING OUT OF AN ABUSIVE SITUATION.
 
 
CARRIE BOYD WITH THE ILLINOIS COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SAYS THIS REMOVES ONE MORE ROADBLOCK FOR VICTIMS LOOKING TO GET OUT OF A AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP.
 
 
CURRENTLY, CELLULAR CUSTOMERS MUST HAVE PERMISSION FROM THE CONTRACT HOLDER TO LEAVE THE PLAN WITH THEIR SAME PHONE NUMBER.

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Lawmakers Pass Gun Dealers Licensing

GUN DEALERS WOULD HAVE TO BE LICENSED BY THE STATE UNDER LEGISLATION CLEARING THE ILLINOIS SENATE THURSDAY. 
 
THE IDEA HAS BEEN DEBATED FOR SEVERAL YEARS…AND HEAVILY SUPPORTED BY CHICAGO AREA LAWMAKERS LIKE SENATOR KWAME RAOUL WHO SAY THEY ARE TIRED OF THE VIOLENCE ON THEIR STREETS. HE URGED HIS COLLEAGUES TO VOTE FOR THE BILL, SAYING THEIR DISTRICTS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO CRIME.
 
 
THE CONTROVERSIAL MEASURE PASSED ON A 30 TO 21 VOTE, WITH SUPPORTERS PLEADING THEIR CASE THAT LICENSING DEALERS IS NEEDED TO HELP END GUN VIOLENCE. BUT OPPONENTS, LIKE SENATOR NEIL ANDERSON OF MOLINE WERE SKEPTICAL.
 
 
THE HOUSE WILL NOW CONSIDER THE LEGISLATION.

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ISU Students Bring Home National Awards

Some Illinois State University students want to be marketing wizards, and tested out what they've learned at a national competition in Dallas to market food and other agricultural products. 
 
Illinois State's student chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association, or NAMA (nah-MUH), brought home four awards, including student chapter of the year. The I-S-U group beat out the NAMA student group at the University of Illinois and 30 other ag programs at colleges and universities nationwide. Joey Keller is a junior from Waverly and competed on team I-S-U;
 
 
Amanda Diesburg (DEEZ-burg) of Paxton serves as the I-S-U agri-marketing student chapter's president;
 
 
The Illinois State group spent nearly a year planning and practicing for the competition. They pitched "Mulligan's milk-fed pork," or hogs marketed to high-end restaurants, for what the group says is 'nose-to-tail cooking.' Their peers at other schools also voted the I-S-U NAMA chapter as the "team we'd call...if we landed in jail."

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Illinois Republicans Float Idea of Taxpayer Bargain Budget Plan

There’s a new budget plan being floated at the state capitol. It’s called the Taxpayer Bargain Budget Plan, which includes 18 different legislative measures. One of the co-sponsors is Republican State Senator Kyle McCarter of Decatur.
 
 
The other co-sponsor is Republican State Senator Dan McConchie of Lake Zurich.
 
 
A property tax freeze is part of the plan, but hearings have yet to be scheduled on the proposal. 

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Energy Prices In Good Spot For Producers

Agriculture producers have some opportunities with energy prices this spring. And if you need to fill up tanks on the farm, now may be the perfect time to do it says Growmark’s energy expert Harry Cooney. 
 
 
And crude oil is now trading under $50 a barrel.
 
 
Cooney says some charts have suggested that the energy market can fall even more.

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Efforts Raise $2 Million to Help Wildfire Victims

Drovers Magazine, a Farm Journal Media franchise, and the Farm Journal  Foundation recently announced the acceptance of a historic challenge by global philanthropist and American farmer-rancher Howard G. Buffet to raise at least $2 million to help ranching victims of the devastating wildfires that burned 1.6 million acres in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado last month. 
 
All monetary donations to the New Drovers/Farm Journal Million Dollar Wildfire Relief Challenge will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, up to $1 million. Drovers Magazine Editorial Director Greg Henderson explains how it came about...
 
                           
 
While the ag community rallied to deliver hay and other in-kind contributions, the long-term job of rebuilding is really just beginning. Henderson says there are several ways to make donations.
 
 
The money collected thru this drive will go toward fencing.
 
                   
 
All donations will be administered through the Working Ranch Cowboys Association, a respected national nonprofit dedicated to assisting working ranch cowboys and their families in times of need. To Learn More, visit www.WildFireReliefFund.org special website to help you track wildfire relief efforts and keep up to date on the ranchers’ continuing story.

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AFBF WELCOMES CONFIRMATION OF USDA SECRETARY PERDUE

The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes the confirmation and swearing in of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. AFBF public policy executive director Dale Moore says with the confirmation and swearing in of Perdue, agriculture now has a voice in the new administration.
 
             
 
Moore says one of the first things for Agriculture Secretary Perdue is meeting with President Donald Trump and a group of farmers at the White House, including AFBF President Zippy Duvall.
 
                      
 
Perdue told USDA employees Tuesday that trade will be a top priority of the department. Moore says this echoes the priorities of AFBF.
 
 
That’s AFBF’s Dale Moore.

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State of Illinois Owes Blue Ridge Schools $600,000

The Blue Ridge Board of Education meeting last week was highlighted by budget talks as the third quarter of the school's fiscal year winds down.
 
Superintendent Susan Wilson indicates the State of Illinois now owes them $600-thousand and things are delayed and things don't seem to be getting any better.
 
 
The lack of funding from the State forced Blue Ridge Schools to move $200-thousand from their savings to the tranpsortation fund. Wilson calls it an actual hardship on the district.
 
 
According to Wilson, projecting finances is very difficult but as of right now, it looks as though the district might have to dip into their reserves. She explains there is a couple of initiatives in Springfield that could impact their reserves even further.
 
 
Wilson continues to be frustrated the state touts fully funding education but not adjusting the cost of educating students in almost a decade. She also notes when categorical payments are behind and only one will be received in 2017, it is very frustrating. 

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Miller Park Zoo Ready To Close Books On Another Record Breaking Year

A Bloomington/Normal entity is getting ready to close the books on another record breaking year.
 
Administrators at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington have continued to be pleasantly surprised by the continued record turnout for the Zoo after they set an attendance record last year. Superintendent Jay Tetzloff says they could end the year with over 120,000.
 
 
According to Tetzloff, the record breaking year of 2016 was great, but he wondered if even adding flamingos would be enough for the zoo to rebound and meet the five-percent attendance spike they anticipated in their master plan.
 
 
Tetzloff also serves as the Bloomington Parks Director and says most of the areas of their parks system is up in attendance and participation. 

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LaHood, Trump Differ on Trade

Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood and President Trump are not on the same page when it comes to trade. LaHood says NAFTA should be tweaked, but not scrapped.
 
 
And the Dunlap Republican believes the Trans-Pacific Partnership could have worked.
 
 
LaHood serves on both the US-China and US-Cuba working groups. 

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LaHood Ready For Tax Reform

Central Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood is ready for comprehensive tax reform and that includes doing away with the “death tax”.
 
 
And LaHood says the Republican led House plan also calls for reducing the corporate tax rate from 35-percent to 20-percent.
 
 
On the personal side, the plan would reduce seven tax brackets down to three. The Trump administration wants to cut the corporate tax rate to 15-percent. 

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Durbin Weighs in On Trump Tax Code Changes

Senator Dick Durbin is weighing in on President Trump's tax ‘proposal’. 
 
For starters, in a statement the word proposal is placed in quotation marks. 
Durbin's statement called for sunlight on Trump's financial life.
 
"President Trump should release his own tax returns if he wants to have any credibility in a debate about America’s tax code. Let’s be clear, his ‘plan’ would add dramatically to the national deficit to fund a massive tax giveaway to corporations and millionaires."

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Duckworth Addresses Senate

Illinois Junior Senator Tammy Duckworth has delivered her first speech on the Senate Floor. Duckworth told her colleagues America’s Prosperity & Strength Depend On Our Values. One of the values she focused on was infrastructure.
 
 
While some of the themes are common with familiar complaints of President Trump, Duckworth begs to differ with Trump on other issues.
 
 
Duckworth told fellow Senators “The calls for bigger walls and closed doors… run counter to our society’s shared value for inclusion over exclusion.”

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Chicago Treasurer Summers Won't Run For Governor, Endorses Pritzker

Serving as Chicago Treasurer, Kurt Summers knows a thing or two about big amounts of money. 
 
With indications next year's race for Governor will be the most expensive ever, Summers has opted not to enter the race. 
 
Summers instead is endorsing Billionaire JB Pritzker for Governor. 
 
Four Chicago aldermen also turned out for a press event to announce their support for Pritzker.

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Clinton Board of Education Reshuffles

The Clinton Board of Education welcomed three new Board members Tuesday night at their monthly meeting, bringing with it new leadership.
Following the early April election, Cole Ritter, Chris Hammer and Dan Matthews were sworn in as new Board members. 
 
Mike Walker was appointed and confirmed as the new School Board President. Rodney Rodgers is the new Board Vice President and Matthews the new Board treasurer.
 
The Board discussed the committee assignments and Walker proposed forming an athletic committee that would include members from the Board and athletic director Barry Gurvey. Superintendent Curt Nettles encouraged the Board to understand the purpose of any committee they may form. 
 
 
The Board put off making committee assignments until the May meeting. 
 
Also at the Tuesday night meeting:
 
>>The Board put on file the amendments made to the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

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Camp Osage Gets a New Camp Director

With summer fast approaching, finding your children something to do during the day is becoming a priority. The YMCA has a possible solution in the form of Camp Osage.
 
Mike Lovett was introduced at the Rotary Meeting on Tuesday as the new Camp Director for Camp Osage and he's full of ideas for summer activities.
 
 
If your child doesn't appreciate the great outdoors or is more interested in indoor activities, those will also be offered.
 
 
Rennie Cluver added that you are able to pick and choose which weeks or days you would like to participate and there are scholarships and discounts available for eligible parties.
 
 
It is a day camp starting at 8:30 AM and going until 4 PM. If you need to drop your child off earlier or pick them up later, there is pre- and after care.

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Senator Rose Versus the Government Machine

Senator Chapin Rose condemned Democrats, Obama Care and Socialism for squashing the middle class and creating an entire class of people who depend on government aid to live last week after the special joint hearing between the Senate and House Appropriations committees.
 
Dependency on the government and politicians seems to catch most of the senator's contempt, claiming that it destroys creativity, innovation and problem solving.
 
 
Rose calls this dependency perpetuated by the government an "evil philosophy." And while welfare is not inherently bad certain parts of it enable some members of society.
 
 
The government machine is designed to protect itself in perpetuity and therefore represents the very enemy of liberty, personal freedom and individual responsibility.
 
 
 
He claims that the continued talks of the legalization of marijuana bolsters the Democratic party and maintains the political machine.

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Reverend Jackson Hopes for Summit on Budget

During Tuesday's women's march on Springfield, Reverend Jesse Jackson tackled a number of issues during his time at the podium at the State Capitol steps.
 
On the biggest issue plaguing the state, the lack of a budget for two years, Jackson wants to bring the key players together.
 
 
Rauner was out of town during the rally. Senate President John Cullerton said the Governor needs to get off of the campaign trail and return to Springfield to get budget talks moving forward. 

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Plenty of Rain Coming to Central Illinois

Rain gauges throughout Illinois will be getting a good workout over the next several days. 
 
A system will be moving through the state Wednesday with another one behind it for the weekend says State Climatologist Jim Angel. 
 
 
As far as temperatures are concerned, Angel says Illinois is about five-and-half degrees above normal for the month of April. 

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Illinois Gets $16-Million Grant To Fight Opioid Crisis

THE STATE IS RECEIVING 16 MILLION DOLLARS IN FEDERAL FUNDING TO HELP FIGHT THE OPIOID CRISIS. 
 
ILLINOIS HAS SEEN A NOTABLE INCREASE IN DRUG OVERDOSE DEATHS IN RECENT YEARS…PARTICULARLY WITH OPIOIDS LIKE HEROIN AND OXYCONTIN. STATE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES SPOKESPERSON MEREDITH KRANTZ SAYS THE MONEY WILL BE USED TO COMBAT THE PROBLEM FROM SEVERAL ANGLES INCLUDING...
 
 
THE MONEY WILL BE USED TO SUPPORT NEW TREATMENT AND RECOVERY SERVICES AND TO SET UP A NEW OPIOID CRISIS HOTLINE
 
 
THE FUNDING COMES FROM THE 21ST CENTURY CURES ACT WHICH INCLUDES ABOUT A BILLION DOLLARS FOR STATES OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS TO BATTLE OPIOID ABUSE.
 
FUNDS WILL ALSO GO TOWARDS MORE TRAINING FOR FIRST RESPONDERS IN DEALING WITH OPIOID OVERDOSES…AND ESTABLISHING A NEW OPIOID CRISIS HOTLINE.

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Illinois Democrats Apply Pressure Over Abortion Rights

Democrats in the Illinois House are putting pressure on the Governor after they passed an abortion rights bill. 
 
The near party line vote takes the steps to keep access to abortions if roe-v-wade is ever overturned. State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz says the bill grants the option of choice to women no matter who provides them insurance or if they are on Medicaid. 
 
 
The bill is expected to past the Senate but is going to be vetoed by the Governor. Supporters then would need to find enough votes to override Bruce Rauner’s veto pen. 

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High School Fishing Teams Increasing in Illinois

There are now 271 high school bass fishing teams in Illinois and the IHSA will crown its ninth state champion in the sport next month.
 
 
The IHSA’s Kurt Gibson says the first state tournament series in bass fishing was offered in 2009 with 199 member schools participating.
 
 
Sectionals take place throughout the state on May 5th with the state bass fishing championship decided on May 20th at Carlyle Lake. 

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Durbin: No Wall, Fund Healthcare

A Friday deadline is looming in Washington D.C. to keep funds flowing to government agencies. 
 
US Senator Dick Durbin says that the message from Democrats is clear, stay away from funding a boarder wall and make sure Americans keep their health care funding.
 
 
The President has appeared to back away from finding funding for the board wall in the current government spending plan.

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Ameren Promoting Small Business Incentive Programs

Ameren Illinois reminding small businesses to take advantage of the utility’s energy efficiency incentive programs. 
 
Businesses spend on average each year 30-percent of their total expenses on energy says Ameren’s Michelle Hibbard—and there are savings to be had.
 
 
She says an easy way to pick up initial savings is through lighting.
 
 
More information on energy efficiency incentives for both business and residential customers is available at “actonenergy.com”. 

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DeWitt County Animal Shelter Needs New HVAC Units, To Get Paved Parking Lot

The DeWitt County Animal Shelter needs new heating and air conditioning units and will be surveyed soon for a new parking lot.
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg explains after nearly a year in the new facility, administrators for DeWitt County Animal control say the units are not working properly so they are getting replaced at no cost.
 
 
The determination is the facility would best be served by rooftop units, however, there is no way to mount the units on the roof, so they will sit outside the building. Newberg explains this is where the concrete work for the facility starts to come into play.
 
 
When the contractor surveys the land for the air conditioning units, they will also survey for a parking lot for the animal shelter and the adjacent EMS facility. Newberg says both need parking lots.
 
 
There was some contention at last Thursday's DeWitt County Board meeting over the cost of the project. There were no estimates on the work to be done so the Board decided on $5000 to dedicate to getting things at least started. 

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Cerro Gordo Schools Ready For Next Step in Facilities Upgrades

A Piatt County School district is wrapping up the celebration stage and is on to the next step after the community approved a huge project for their facilities.
 
Cerro Gordo Schools had a referendum approved for roughly an $8-million upgrade to their campus. Superintendent Brett Robinson says the project will be a connecting addition to their buildings.
 
 
Robinson indicates a lot of work went into the plans for the additions they have planned. He explains they are combining the work with some health life safety improvements they need to make.
 
 
Cerro Gordo schools are able to tap into the one-cent sales tax funds, but Robinson indicates that money will likely not be a part of this project. He explains they will continue to use it for their smaller projects and to lessen the tax burden on their landowners.
 
 
Robinson indicates they still need to meet with their architects to map out a timeline of when things will get started but they had hoped to go out for bid in early 2018 with ground breaking to begin in spring of 2018. 

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Weekly Crop Report

PRODUCERS HAVE MADE SOME NICE HEADWAY PLANTING CORN OVER THE PAST WEEK.
 
THERE WAS AN AVERAGE OF NEARLY FIVE DAYS AVAILABLE FOR FIELDWORK LAST WEEK…AND RAINFALL WAS BELOW NORMAL. CORN PLANTING SURGED AHEAD LAST WEEK…AND IS NOW 34 PERCENT COMPLETE SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
FOUR PERCENT OF SOYBEANS AND ONE PERCENT OF SORGHUM HAS BEEN PLANTED. 
 
 
28 PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP HAS HEADED. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE DECLINED TO SIX PERCENT SHORT…86 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND EIGHT PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Momentum Building For Evidenced Based School Funding Approach

Momentum building for an evidence based school funding formula. 
 
First year State Representative Tony McCombie of Savanna is supporting the cause. She held a joint press conference with superintendents from the northwest Illinois area on Thursday. 
 
 
The approach is being pushed by State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington and is the result of the Governor’s Education Funding Task Force. The group completed its work earlier this year. 
 
McCombie says the evidence based system determines a funding target for each district, and then takes into account funding inadequacies. She adds the state would then fund the difference between the targeted funding and the local capacity. 

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LaHood Feels Trump Foreign Policy on Right Page

Congressman Darin LaHood is on board with the Trump Administration's handling of crises in two trouble spots, North Korea and Syria. 
 
Lahood credits Trump with assembling the right team at the right time on military matters.
 
 
LaHood directs his praise at Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

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Governor Says Lawmakers Close on Another Budget

Lawmakers in Springfield are back to work this week. 
 
If this was a typical time around the Capitol the final touches would be put on the state budget. But this is anything by normal as the state pushes towards a third year without a comprehensive spending plan. Governor Bruce Rauner says that he hears the Senate is getting close to another balanced budget.
 
 
Many place the blame right at Rauner for blowing up the Senate’s last attempt at a grand bargain budget earlier this year. 

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Farmers Should Have Conversations About Crop Still in Bin

As farmers push forward with spring planting, what should they be doing about crop still in the bin? 
 
That’s one of the questions producers should be thinking about while on the planter.
 
 
And Jeff Adkisson with the Grain & Feed Association of Illinois says now is a good time as any to have those discussions with the merchandiser at the local elevator.
 
 
Corn is already starting to emerge in areas south of Springfield. 

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Careful Stewardship Needed

Illinois farmers have some new tools to protect crops from pesky, herbicide-resistant weeds this year. 
 
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has given a two-year window for some farmers to use soybean seed resistant to the herbicide known as dicamba. That means farmers can use it to kill weeds while the soybeans keep growing. 
 
The Senior Director of Commodities with Illinois Farm Bureau, Tamara Nelsen, says the new products provide benefits, but also require careful stewardship;
 
 
A murder took place in Arkansas last year over alleged illegal use of an old formulation of the herbicide that wafted into a neighbors field. Nelsen is not expecting that to happen here;
 
 
The Farm Bureau has what it calls a one-stop-online-shop with more information. You can find it at www.ilfb.org/steward.

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Animal Feed Subject To Food Modernization Act Requirements

Agri-business interests are gathering in St. Louis this week to discuss the Food Safety Modernization Act. 
 
Not only does the 2011 law impact human food, but animal feed as well says Jeff Adkisson with the Grain & Feed Association of Illinois.
 
 
The Grain & Feed Association of Illinois is partnering with the Missouri Agribusiness Association and the Missouri Department of Agriculture to offer training to meet PCQI requirement this week at the Marriott St. Louis West. 

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Clinton Chief of Police Discusses National Distracted Driving Week

Distracted driving has taken many forms over the decades and in today's world, distracted driving can range from fixing your hair to sending a picture of your latest dew to your friends on your phone.
 
That's why on this inaugural Distracted Driving Week in Illinois, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says it is important everyone make a conscious effort to start putting the cell phones away while we're behind the wheel.
 
 
While many accidents are caused from distracted driving, there's many more close calls because of distracted driving. He is pushing for parents to set good examples for their children while driving.
 
 
Chief Lowers encourages smart phone users to explore settings on your messaging app or find an app that will automatically respond to messages incoming. He says the brain power and focus significantly decline when you have your phone out while driving.
 
 
Taking your pets on trips, short and long, makes the ride more enjoyable but Chief Lowers says your pet could become a distraction. He also notes there are laws in place to keep young drivers from the distractions of driving early on behind the wheel.
 
 
When taking off on a trip where you'll need to use a GPS unit or the GPS app on your phone, Chief Lowers encourages becoming familiar with the route of travel before you leave, especially if you're driving alone. He says continuously checking that GPS unit or your phone is a distraction.
 
If on a trip with family or friends, have the person in the passenger seat check on your messages and take any phone calls that may be incoming if you keep the phone on. 

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County Board To Further Investigate Potential Energy Upgrades at County Building

The County Board last Thursday night heard from representatives from Smart Watt, a company specializing in helping businesses and entities be more energy efficient.
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg indicates the idea sounds good, and the County could save quite a bit of money over the life of the improvements, it would be something they need to explore and learn more about.
 
 
Newberg wants to know how this would impact the budget. He explains while there might be several projects targeted, the County Board could decide to only tackle one or two at a time until they get the money for the rest.
 
 
According to Newberg, this project is not a necessity nor is it urgent. He feels this needs a close look because there are some parts of the County Building that have been updated in recent years.
 
 
Newberg says the company has not yet done any inspections of the building to this point and when they do, would be at no cost to the County. 
 
The County Board could decide the future of any partnership with Smart Watt at their meeting next month. 

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Joint Hearing Over the Legalization of Marijuana Fires Up Local Lawmaker

A special joint hearing between the Senate and House Appropriations committees was held last Wednesday in Chicago to discuss the legalization of marijuana in the state of Illinois.
 
In an interview heard on our WHOW Morning Show on 4/20, a day recognized around the world as a celebration of the most notorious cannabinoid, Senator Chapin Rose made his feelings known about prioritizing the highly debated legalization of marijuana over the need to hammer out a budget for the state.
 
 
The House did come up with a life-line budget which would fund some services for a few months, but Rose was not impressed.
 
 
The senator had three welfare reform bills, for which he was called "mean spirited," killed in subcommittee. Two of these bills were drug related.
 
 
No voting took place at the joint hearing.

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DNR To Investigate Abandoned DeWitt County Railway Route For Potential Trail

An abandoned rail line in the Farmer City area of northeast DeWitt County is the subject of a study to be done by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to see if a possible walking/hiking/biking trail is possible.
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg indicates the line connects between McLean County and Piatt County and could be the target of a multi purpose path for recreation.
 
Other efforts like this have recently cropped up in DeWitt County in recent years. The City Council has done preliminary work on a path out to Weldon Springs that could turn into something that would run through Clinton. 

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National Social Security Month

April is National Social Security Month and now is the perfect time to get started managing your social security.
 
Jack Myers is reaching out to spread awareness and encourages young people to think about how social security figures into their futures. Social Security is not exclusively there for retirement purposes, but can benefit you when times are tough.
 
 
There are five steps that he recommends you go through to secure today and tomorrow for you and your loved ones. From understanding your social security to managing your benefits.
 
 
To learn more or create a my Social Security account go to socialsecurity.gov or give them a call at 800-772-1213.

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U.S. Ag Secretary Position Just One Of Hundreds Of USDA Vacancies

The Trump Administration could finally have a Secretary of Agriculture in place as early as next week, however one commodity group suggests that's just the beginning of work to be done.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster, Jared White, has more....
 

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AFBF LAUNCHES MARKET INTEL WEBPAGE

The American Farm Bureau Federation this month launched a Market Intel webpage, featuring market analysis and information. AFBF market intelligence director John Newton says the analysis pieces will help farmers and ranchers make key decisions for their businesses.
 
                  
 
Newton says the reports will cover a variety of topics important to farmers and ranchers.
 
 
Newton says AFBF expert economists will contribute regularly to the Market Intel section.
 
 
You can find the AFBF market intel reports online at www.fb.org/marketintel.

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Unemployment Down in March But Losing Jobs

THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FELL BELOW FIVE PERCENT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A DECADE LAST MONTH. 
 
THE MARCH JOBLESS RATE CAME IN AT FOUR POINT NINE PERCENT, DOWN A HALF A POINT FROM THE PREVIOUS MONTH. BUT STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH SAYS THERE WERE ALSO 89-HUNDRED JOBS LOST IN MARCH.
 
 
THE BIGGEST JOB LOSSES LAST MONTH WERE SEEN IN CONSTRUCTION…AND THE PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES INDUSTRY.
 
 
THE BIGGEST JOB GAINS IN MARCH WERE SEEN IN THE LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY SECTOR.

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State, Federal Lawmakers Fighting For Route 66

Congressmen Rodney Davis, Darin LaHood and State Representative Tim Butler toured Route 66 communities in Central Illinois Wednesday. 
 
Davis talks about federal legislation preparing for the 100th Anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.
 
 
Davis referred to State Representative Avery Bourne who joined Davis earlier in the week for another Route 66 tour. Butler introduced legislation establishing a state Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission.

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Mendoza Attacks Rauner on Balanced Budget Claims

The odds of Comptroller Susana Mendoza making the cut on the Rauner family greeting card list shrink by the day. 
 
Mendoza continues to call for Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to reach a budget agreement before the state gets hit with additional credit downgrades. She continues to make hay out of analysis from a political website on Rauner's claims he he has delivered a balanced budget proposal.
 
 
Some analysts maintain the Governor provided a budget that would be balanced if certain conditions were met.

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Farmers Shouldn't Worry Too Much Yet

Farmers have been a bit worried about getting into the field because of rains throughout the Midwest. It looks like those will clear out for the week, mostly, and even if they don't, there isn't much to worry about, yet.
 
Farmers have been itching to go to the field. They want to plant corn in the Midwest. There's also some rumblings about delayed planting. That's a little hard to swallow in mid-April says University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs…tape
 
        
 
Hubbs is an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois. He's looked at the stats and the historical record. He says it is pretty concise…tape
 
          
 
It's a correlation that won't happen for about a month if it happens at all…tape
 
             
 
That’s University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs.

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Davis Supporting Trump Over Foreign Policy Moves

It's a jittery time in America with talk of growing nuclear capability for North Korea. 
 
Congressman Rodney Davis says President Trump is on target with recent moves involving the world's two biggest hot spots of the moment.
 
 
Davis says swift action by President Trump and the military after Syria's chemical attack on civilians sent a clear message to the world that America will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. 

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Animal Rights Groups Want Dead Animal Payments Stopped

The Humane Farming Association is once again attempting to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop payments to livestock farmers when their animals are unsheltered and die as a result of bad weather. 
 
Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says the group has sent a petition to Sonny Perdue ahead of his confirmation as Ag Secretary. Severe storms and heat have hit poultry and livestock hard in recent years. 
 
As an example, winter storm Goliath killed roughly 40,000 dairy cows in Texas and New Mexico in 2015 and 2016. The Livestock Indemnity Program paid out more than $134 million to cover the deaths of 2.5 million poultry and 200,000 livestock from 2013-2015. 
 
The group thinks the USDA is giving out the money to compensate producers without requiring them to provide shelter and shade for their animals. The HFA says in its petition, “It’s a disincentive to farmers and ranchers to take necessary steps to provide their livestock with adequate means of protection from bad weather.” 
 
The group filed a similar petition in May of last year that didn’t get the response they were hoping for.

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Possible Energy Saving Plan for DeWitt County

A plan to save energy and money is in the works for DeWitt County.
 
Orry Cummings from Smart Watt made a case for the energy optimizing company at the County Board Meeting Thursday evening. It offers energy solutions from commercial and industrial enterprises to budget conscious small businesses.
 
 
No project is too small for Smart Watt to take on, but the cost benefits are substantial.
 
The initial feasibility assessment done by the company would save the county 1.2 million dollars over a 20 year period.
 
 
The County Board will vote on whether or not to participate in Smart Watt next month.

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DeWitt County TRIAD Focusing on Seniors With Alzheimer's

A local group who's aim is to help seniors remain safe through the challenges they face has recently begun to focus on those with Alzheimer's Disease.
 
DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner and his office has been instrumental in the group's viability in DeWitt County and indicates the Alzheimer's Association has recently come forward as new partner in their effort.
 
 
The two entities are stepping up to help families with a loved one that might wander off, to have a GPS unit on them and they can be found and minimize the worry and fear.
 
 
 A local partner has also emerged for TRIAD and that would be Warner Hospital and Health Services. Shofner indicates their group is all about partnerships because none of their funding comes from tax-payer dollars.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner says the best way to get more information about the TRIAD program and the things they have going on is to contact his office at 217-935-9507. They are also on Facebook.

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Maroa-Forsyth Schools in Midst of PARCC Testing

Area schools are in the midst of the standardized tesing season for their students and schools and the state seem to be hitting their stride with the latest standardized tests that around three years old.
 
Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools, Mike Williams says the challenges of the first few years of the common core curriculum and it's PARCC standardized testing seem to be in the rear view mirror.
 
 
The first year of the testing, the window to administer the tests was more open than it is now. He says the State of Illinois essentially gives schools a window of the month of April to get the tests done.
 
 
While standardized testing is a part of the educational process and evaluation of schools from a State level, many school leaders contend it takes away too much time from the classroom and some material in the assessments may not have been covered yet in ther curriculum.
 
 
While things continue to get better, Williams believes there still room to improve. 

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One Injury After Fire At Lincoln Auto Body Shop

A Lincoln man is injured after Treu Body Works in Lincoln caught fire yesterday morning.
 
The employee of Treu Body Works on North Kickapoo Street in Lincoln was the only employee in the building at the time of the fire and was transported to a Springfield burn unit by Logan County Paramedics. 
 
The identity of the man has not been released. 
 
Lincoln Fire, Lincoln Rural Fire Protection District and Atlanta Fire Departments were on scene. A firefighter was sent to the hospital for precautionary reasons. 
 
An investigation of the incident is underway. 

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Peoria Lawmaker Forms Ag Advisory Committee

A Peoria area state lawmaker has formed an Agriculture Advisory Committee. State Senator Chuck Weaver’s 37th District includes ten counties—and each county has one representative on the committee.
 
 
Livestock farmer Becky King represents Knox County on the committee….
 
 
The committee also includes representatives from Henry, Mercer, Bureau, Marshall, Stark, Peoria, LaSalle, Woodford and Lee Counties. 

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Hopes For Budget Compromise Remain Slim

State lawmakers have a little over a month to put together a budget deal. But the prospects for a compromise aren’t too promising says Kevin Semlow—Director of State Legislation for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
And Semlow says the debate continues to be “make cuts” or “raise taxes”.
 
 
State lawmakers return from a two-week break next Monday and will be in session through the end of May. 

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Governor Moving

Governor Bruce Rauner is moving. 
 
The move is connected to the repair and renovation of the Governor’s mansion in Springfield. So that has Rauner shifting residences to the state fairgrounds where he will now live in the house that’s for the state’s director of Agriculture. 
 
 
The work on the Governor’s mansion is expected to last about year and cost about $15 million. The repairs are being funded by private donations. 

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30,000 Gallon LP Tank Struck By Lightning in Western Illinois

A 30,000 gallon LP tank hit by lightning in western Illinois. It happened Wednesday morning as a storm rolled through the Gold Star FS plant—east of Aledo. Aledo Fire Chief Dennis Litwiler says thankfully, there were no injuries or major damage.
 
 
A portion of Illinois Route 17 was shut down for two hours as emergency responders handled the situation. The lightning strike caused a pressure relief valve to release and Litwiler says there’s no way to shut that off without emptying the tank. 

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Illinois Hears From Colorado Official on Legalized Pot

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE GETTING ADVICE ON LEGALIZING RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA FROM A COLORADO OFFICIAL. 
 
COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BARBARA BROHL SAYS THEIR STATE HAS COLLECTED NEARLY 402 MILLION DOLLARS IN TAX REVENUE FROM RECREATIONAL POT.
 
 
TAX REVENUE ALSO PAYS FOR YOUTH PREVENTION PROGRAMS, SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT AND SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION. BROHL ALSO DISCUSSED SETTING STANDARDS FOR HOW MUCH MARIJUANA CAN BE IN YOUR SYSTEM WHILE DRIVING, AND EDUCATING THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF CANNABIS AND HOW THEY AFFECT THE BODY.
 
 
BROHL SAYS COLORADO HAS COLLECTED NEARLY 402 MILLION DOLLARS IN TAX REVENUE FROM RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA.

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Midland Institute Promotes CEO Program At Latest Rotary Program

The Midland Institute is scouring the Clinton community with their message about their hope to bring their CEO program to the community.
 
Cheryl Mitchell with the Institute presented Wednesday to the Clinton Rotary Club. The group hopes to begin a program in Clinton Schools, and possibly coordinated with other districts, to introduce high school students to the business community. Mitchell says it brings school and business together in a way no other program does. 
 
 
Mitchell explains, the Midland Institute helps communities put together the program so they can get it started and then sustain it. She emphasizes it is not a school-funded program, but rather, an investment from the community.
 
 
The students who participate in the CEO program will meet for 90 minutes a day at various business locations across the community. Mitchell explains the students start their own businesses, a for-profit business.
 
 
According to Mitchell, the point of the program is to open up the world of opportunity for students in their own community and to give them a reason to stay in their hometown and build a business. 
 
To learn more about becoming an investor in the program or how you can help out, contact Curt Nettles at Clinton Schools by calling 217-935-8321. 

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Monticello Schools Revisiting Facilities Future

After two failed referendums and no resolution on the future of their facilities, a local school district has begun to revisit what they will do moving forward. 
 
Monticello Schools are facing dealing with school buildings that are either 100 years old or close to it. With that in mind, Dr. Vic Zimmerman, Superintendent of Monticello Schools says they are investigating what they need to do to bring their current facilities up to 21st century learning standards with a new committee.
 
 
Dr. Zimmerman says their aging buildings have many challenges when discussing educating students in 2017. He explains the rooms are small and the infrastructure is not at the level they need.
 
 
Dr. Zimmerman believes the community wants improved facilities, but is not sure they've presented the right plan yet.
 
 
A new facility isn't 100-percent out of the question in the future for Monticello Schools but the Superintendent indicates it is something he feels the Board of Education might be hesitant to try out again. 

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Experts Urge Safe Rural Travel This Spring

Although the 2017 planting season has gotten off to a slow start in Illinois, it won't be long before farmers will be hitting it hard and heavy.  That of course means big machinery on rural roadways.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more on what you should be on the lookout for this spring:

 

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Warm Up Then Cool Down in Illinois

Some warm temperatures for much of Illinois in the middle portion of this week with readings in the 70’s and 80’, but that will change moving toward the weekend. 
 
Meteorologist Eric Schmidt is with EJS Weather in Newton.
 
 
Schmidt also discusses the late April, early May weather predictions right now.
 
 
Schmidt anticipates more wet weather for Saturday for much of central and southern Illinois.

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Blagojevich Seeking Resentencing

Attorneys for former Governor Rod Blagojevich are once again seeking to cut his fourteen year prison term. 
 
Blagojevich's attorneys argued today (Tuesday) before the Chicago based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Democrat's record of good behavior since entering prison five years ago calls for a shortened sentence. 
 
Prosecutors object to the request, noting Blagojevich has never admitted committing major crimes.
 
The three-judge panel will rule in the coming months.

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Pritzker Talks Impacts of Lack of Budget

Democratic gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker visited with representatives of the Illinois Coalition for Community Services at Springfield's Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church to discuss the impact of a lack of a state budget. 
 
Pritzker said Governor Rauner's turnaround agenda isn't turning around the state's fortunes.
 
 
While House Speaker Mike Madigan is absorbing much of the blame, Pritzker says Madigan has a track record of getting budgets done when the Governor isn't with the same party.
 
 
Illinois Coalition for Community Services provides programs for youth in need at the church. 

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Action on Livestock Management Faciltiies Act on Hold

Action on amending the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act is on hold for now. 
 
Although the legislation was announced earlier this year, movement has stalled at this time says Bill Bodine the associate director of state legislation for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
Bodine says the legislation is not dead it’s just likely being fine-tuned by Koehler before being brought back to committee. 
 
The Illinois General Assembly returns to session next week. 

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City Budgets Looking Good

The Fiscal Year 2018 budgets for the City of Clinton and it's Warner Hospital and Health Services look strong, though each face some unknowns.
 
According to CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, Paul Skowron, the Hospital expects a year end revenue in the black at around $250-thousand. 
 
 
Skowron indicates expenses total around $17.5-million with over half that coming from salary and benefits. He notes the rise includes the expansion at the Family Medicine facility.
 
 
Skowron also notes they are adding 3D mammography this year thanks largely to donations. They are adding additional generator power and roof repairs in their capital budget.
 
 
Despite the woes from the State of Illinois, the State's payments to the City have been on time. City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter indicates they are keeping an eye on the property freeze legislation.
 
 
Lichtenwalter is reporting only small revenue growth and small sales tax growth.
 
 
The City Council approved the Fiscal Year 2018 budget Monday night at the regular City Council meeting. 

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Weekly Crop Report

CORN PLANTING PICKED UP A BIT AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT. 
 
WITH UNDER THREE DAYS ON AVERAGE AVAILABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK…PRODUCERS ARE A LITTLE BEHIND LAST YEAR’S PLANTING SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
SCHLEUSENER SAYS 57 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN PLANTED AND THREE PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED.
 
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE FELL A BIT…AND NOW STANDS AT FOUR PERCENT SHORT…77 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 19 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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State Fair Announces More Grandstand Acts

The Illinois State Fair is expanding its grandstand lineup. 
 
State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon says a longtime country legend is joining the mix with the help of some friends.
 
 
Popular acappella group Pentatonix has also been added August 12th. Classic rockers Foghat will play a free concert on the opening night of the fiar August 10th. 
 
There will be a hush all over the fairgrounds august 14th as former Herman Hermits frontman Peter Noone will perform a free show. 
 
On August 18th, Montgomery Gentry will team up with The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and the Outlaws for the Southern Uprising Tour. 
 
August 15th is the lone remaning open date. Tickets for all shows will go on sale April 29th through www.ticketmaster.com.

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Springfield Native's Company Scores Big on Shark Tank

A Springfield native swims with the sharks on ABC and walks away with a boost to his company. 
 
Springfield High Grad Adam Havey's company was successful in getting an investment from Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank to help boost his Guard Llama personal security app and device. It allows a user to contact police without having to call 911. 
 
Havey and his co-founder partner were hoping to get 100-thousand dollars in exchange for a 5 percent stake in the company, but Corcoran gave Guard Llama a 100-thousand dollar loan in exchange for an 18 percent stake in the company. 
 
Havey did not appear on the episode. 
 
Corcoran saw potential in the product with her work in real estate, an area where workers often are concerned about personal safety. Havey explains that the mass shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008 and a brutal kidnapping, rape and murder of a woman near campus two years later during his time at NIU inspired his invention.
 
 
Havey says the fledgling company is taking in about 500-thousand dollars a year in revenue and selling about 100 units a week. 

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Solar Energy Companies Seeking Willing Landowners

Farmers throughout Illinois continue to receive letters from solar companies offering cash in exchange for use of their land. And the interest continues to grow, especially during a period of low commodity prices.
 
Garrett Thalgott (THAL guht), an Illinois Farm Bureau attorney, said the number of solar companies looking for land in Illinois has increased in the last year. The number of farmers receiving offer letters has also increased.
 
IFB has held informational meetings in 12 counties throughout the state to explain solar agreements. He says landowners should consult their own attorney to handle details of a lease agreement.
 
 
A landowner may have a less productive area in mind for a solar panel, but Thalgott says solar contracts have some similarities to windmill land use.
 
 
Farmers should also contact the Farm Services Agency if the land is included in a government farm program.

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UPDATED: Mike Walker To Run For Sheriff

The upcoming DeWitt County Sheriff's race has it's first candidate.
 
Former Chief Deputy under Sheriff Jered Shofner, Mike Walker, will be seeking the Republican nomination for DeWitt County Sheriff in March of next year.
 
Walker has been in law enforcement in DeWitt County for 27 years, serving in posts from patrol deputy to most recently as the Chief Deputy to Sheriff Shofner. He says it seems to have been a natural progression to his professional career to run for Sheriff. 
 
 
In a release Monday morning, Walker vows to use tax payer dollars wisely and use his 27-year career in DeWitt County to continue to provide professional law enforcement to the citizen of DeWitt County.
 
 
According to Walker, the top issue facing the Sheriff's office at this point is the heroin problem that has hit close to home in the last few years. He hopes to carry on some efforts started by Sheriff Shofner. 
 
 
Walker says he will continue to work to maintain the professionalism in the Sheriff's Office. He will work hard to continue to finding good people to work in their office. 

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Sheriff Shofner Educating Public on Traffic Stops

One local law enforcement official is encouraging people to watch a viral video about traffic stops.
 
"Lights in the Mirror" is a video produced by the Illinois Sheriffs' Association in conjunction with the FBI, and the Chief of Police Association about what to do in a traffic stop. DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner indicates while the video is directed towards teen drivers, it is beneficial for all drivers to review.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner says the best thing to do during a traffic stop is to have a positive attitude. Law enforcement officials try to correct adult driving behavior with traffic stops. A person's attitude during a stop could determine whether or not a citation is issued.
 
 
The video also covers how to properly take up a grievance with an officer. Sheriff Shofner explains grievances should be directed towards the police department.
 
 
It is important to keep your hands on the steering wheel during a traffic stop and the Sheriff notes if you get pulled over, turn on your dome light as the officer approaches your vehicle.
 
 
To view "Lights in the Mirror" visit the DeWitt County Sheriff website or Facebook page, illinoissheriffs.org, or YouTube.

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Post Office Reminding of Dog, Carrier Safety

Your local mail carrier is hoping this summer while you are outside to keep your pets away from your mail carrier.
 
Last week was National Dog Bite Prevention Week and the United States Postal Service is reminding residents, there are too many mail carriers that know first hand the pain of having an animal attack.
 
Over 67-hundred postal service employees were victims of dog attacks last year, that amongs 4.5-million people that were attacked.
 
Dog owners are encouraged to work with their animals on obedience skills, or even, take the dog to obedience training. Dog owners are also encouraged to keep the animal inside when the mail carrier is coming by your home. 
 
Children are 900-times more likely to be attacked by a dog and with students likely to start being out walking home from school or people out more for walks, you're reminded to never run by a dog. A dog's instinct is to chase you. 
 
If you think you're going to be attacked by a dog, place something between you and the dog. If you do not have anything to protect yourself with, remain still and do not make eye-contact with the animal.
 
Remain motionless until the dog leaves and slowly back away.
 
The Post Office encourages you to talk with your local mail carrier for more on dealing with pets and postal workers. 

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Macon County History Museum Seeks Sports Memorabilia

If you grew up in Decatur and have old sports collectibles from the city's history, a Macon County entity would like to inquire about allowing them to borrow it for an upcoming display.
 
Nathan Pierce is the Director of the Macon County History Museum and indicates he is planning for an upcoming sports exhibit and is hoping to find some memorabilia from the city's storied past with sports.
 
 
Pierce hopes to highlight former sports programs that experienced a great deal of success along with players that went on to do great things. He says he already has some ideas for what he'd like to do.
 
 
Pierce says he's been in contact with local schools about memorabilia from them and hopes anyone with artifacts that they think might be worth being a part of their exhibit to contact him at 217-422-4919. 

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Welcome change possible for IL truckers

Illinois law requires truck lengths on local roads to be no longer than 55 feet. Don Schaefer, Executive Vice President of Midwest Truckers Association, says today’s equipment is longer than the legal length. He adds that for years they have tried to change Illinois law to reflect today’s equipment.
 
 
Both House Bill 683 and Senate Bill 51 would increase truck lengths on local roads to 65 feet. Schaefer says since existing equipment is already of that length, changing the law will not lead to safety concerns.
 
 
Schaefer says both bills have advanced through their respective chambers. He hopes final legislation will be approved within a couple of weeks.
 

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Two State Senators push against tax increase

Two Republican State Senators, Kyle McCarter of Lebanon and Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods, are teaming up for an alternative to talk of the stalled grand bargain in the Senate. The pair are promoting the multi-point "Taxpayer Bargain" plan for a balanced state budget. McCarter says they stand alone when it comes to offering a budget without a tax hike....
 
McCarter was referring to Bloomington State Senator Bill Brady's cut oriented budget plan. McCarter may remind you of Han Solo in Star Wars, who was known to say "don't tell me the odds"....
 
The budget plan maintains 100% of General State Aid for elemenetary and secondary education. Medicaid spending for the most vulnerable would also be shielded. State agencies and departments would make 10% across the board cuts. Medicaid and pension reform are other highlights. More details can be found on www.taxpayerbargain.com. McCarter says a similar effort is ready.

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Rural Ag Council Discusses Tax Proposal

In a recent letter to Congress, the Rural and Agriculture Council of America and 11 other national agriculture organizations urged Chairmen Orrin Hatch and Kevin Brady to preserve the current tax treatment of advertising. 
 
If Congress imposes this new tax on advertisements, the effects could seriously damage rural economies. RACA Vice President Chris Skorupa…
               
 
Skorupa says these additional costs - if imposed - would be detrimental to rural communities…
 
       
 
As Congress considers tax reform in the months ahead, Skorupa says RACA will continue to oppose any changes to the treatment of advertising tax.

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Treasurer Launches Campaign to Return $2.8 Mil in Unclaimed Property

STATE TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS’ OFFICE IS PUSHING TO REUNITE ILLINOIS RESIDENTS WITH TWO POINT EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS IN UNCLAIMED PROPERTY.
 
THE TREASURER’S OFFICE IS CHARGED WITH HOLDING MONEY AND ITEMS FROM LONG FORGOTTEN SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES, BANK ACCOUNTS AND OTHER SOURCES. FRERICHS SAYS THEY TRY AND REACH OUT TO THOSE WHO MAY HAVE UNCLAIMED PROPERTY.
 
 
TREASURER FRERICHS SAYS HIS OFFICE IS SITTING ON EVERYTHING FROM OLD WAR MEDALS TO FORGOTTEN PAYCHECKS AND SAVINGS BONDS. THEY TRY TO LOCATE THE ORIGINAL OWNER AND RETURN THE MONEY OR ITEM…BUT HE SAYS SOMETIMES IT’S A CHALLENGE.
 
FRERICHS SAYS SOME PEOPLE DON’T BELIEVE THE PROGRAM IS LEGIT AND POTENTIALLY MISS OUT MONEY. HE URGES THE PUBLIC TO VISIT THE WEBSITE: ILLINOIS TREASURER DOT GOV TO SEARCH THE I-CASH DATABASE FOR ANY MONEY THEY ARE OWED.

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New Class of Juvenile Justice Specialist Interns Graduate

21 NEW INTERNS GRADUATED FROM THEIR TRAINING TO WORK IN THE ILLINOIS JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM THIS WEEK. 
 
THE TRAINEES WILL WORK CLOSELY WITH TROUBLED KIDS LIVING IN ILLINOIS YOUTH CENTERS. THEY WILL TEACH THEM VALUABLE LIFE SKILLS AND HELP THEM GET AN EDUCATION. GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER THANKED THE GRADUATES FOR THEIR COMMITMENT AND HELP IN TURNING AROUND YOUNG LIVES.
 
 
STATE JUVENILE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR HEIDI MUELLER SAYS IT’S AN EXCITING TIME FOR THE TRAINEES TO ENTER THE FIELD, AS THE FOCUS CONTINUES TO SHIFT FROM INCARCERATION TO REHABILITATION. SHE EXPLAINS WHAT THEY WILL BE DOING ON THE JOB.
 
 
THE MAJORITY OF THE CLASS WILL WORK AT THE ILLINOIS YOUTH CENTER IN ST. CHARLES AND ONE INTERN WILL BE STATIONED AT THE YOUTH CENTER IN WARRENVILLE.

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Coloring Easter Eggs with Natural Dye

WANT TO TRY NATURAL DYE FOR YOUR EASTER EGGS THIS YEAR? A UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION NUTRITION EDUCATOR SAYS TO JUST LOOK AROUND YOUR KITCHEN FOR IDEAS.
 
CARROTS, ONION SKINS, COFFEE GROUNDS OR SPINACH LEAVES ALL MAKE GREAT NATURAL DYES SAYS U OF I EXTENSION’S MARY LIZ WRIGHT.
 
 
SIMMER THE DESIRED INGREDIENT IN WATER FOR 15 TO 30 MINUTES, THEN STRAIN AND ADD ONE TABLESPOON OF VINEGAR PER CUP TO HELP THE COLOR SET. LEAVE THE HARDBOILED EGG IN THE DYE UNTIL IT REACHES THE DESIRED COLORS.
 
JUST ABOUT ANYTHING CAN BE SIMMERED AND MADE INTO A DYE SAYS THE U OF I EXTENSION’S MARY LIZ WRIGHT. THAT INCLUDES COFFEE GROUNDS, RED CABBAGE, BLUEBERRIES, ONION SKINS AND SPINACH.
 
 
OF COURSE THIS ALL STARTS WITH A GOOD HARDBOILED EGG. WRIGHT RECOMMENDS PLACING EGGS IN A PAN WITH COLD WATER, HEAT TO BOILING, THEN REMOVE FROM HEAT AND LET SIT FOR 11 MINUTES. AFTER THAT, DRAIN AND PLUNGE EGGS INTO ICE WATER. YOU CAN THEN PLACE THE EGG INTO THE DYE AND LEAVE UNTIL IT REACHES THE DESIRED COLOR.

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Clinton City Council Expected To Approve FY18 Budget Monday

When the Clinton City Council meets Monday night, they will be presented with the fiscal year 18 budget.
 
City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter explains the budget this year looks good. He says barring any unforeseen expenses, the city should break even at the end of the year.
 
 
The City of Clinton is one of the few communities that make the claim their police pension fund is almost 100-percent funded. Lichtnewalter says they've been diligent in keeping up with their pension funds for police and fire.
 
 
With the troubles from the State of Illinois continuing, Lichtenwalter says the City rarely finds themselves in trouble because of the State.
 
 
Lichtenwalter says the City is in good standing financially. He says they still have some loans out for the water department but calls the self-funded health insurance fund, which also includes the hospital, the best part of the budget. He says after getting depleted a few years ago, they have built it back up. 
 
Lichtenwalter will present the City with the budget Monday and then CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, Paul Skowron will present the Hospital budget. 

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Congressman Davis Still Hopeful For Healthcare Reforms

Even though a bill in Washington to repeal and replace Obamacare never materialized with a lack of Republican support, a federal lawmaker does not believe all is lost.
 
Congressman Rodney Davis says a repeal and replacement plan for Obamacare could still happen. He believes something needs to be done as healthcare costs continue to rise under Obamacare.
 
 
Davis hopes to work to get Americans on Medicaid into a workplace and onto an employer based healthcare system, which he feels should be the goal of the government.
 
 
According to Davis, President Trump has been engaged in the process and wants something to get done.
 
 
Davis says he was disappointed when the healthcare bill they had in place failed a few weeks ago. 

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Getting around Illinois gets major reboot

IDOT's Getting Around Illinois road conditions website has received a major upgrade. The new Getting Around Illinois site is versatile to function with smartphones, tablets and the traditional desktops and laptops. IDOT's Kelsea Gurski says information on road closures, construction and winter driving conditions will come much faster.... 
 
 
Gurski notes the information available to motorists has greatly expanded...
 
 
The new Getting Around Illinois site also features a number of cameras and weather stations across the state.

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Corn Growers Seeking Applicants For Leadership Academy

The National Corn Growers Association is seeking applications for the NCGA Leadership Academy, part of Syngenta’s Leadership at Its Best Program. The Leadership academy is held in August in Minneapolis, Minnesota and a second session will be in Washington, D.C. in January 2018.
 
Michael Lefevere is President of the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee and has participated in the Leadership Academy. He explains why he was interested in the program…
 
                       
 
Through the program, participants build the skill set needed to become a more confident public speaker with a solid background in the procedures and processes used by NCGA and state organizations. Lefevere says there a many other things attendees will learn in the Leadership Academy, including listening skills…
 
          
 
He says the best things about the Leadership Academy are Networking and building friendships with other corn growers across the nation, and learning more about how NCGA helps farmers succeed…
 
                          
 
Open to all NCGA members, growers must be nominated by their state corn association to participate. Applications are being accepted now…
 
                                 
 
Interested members should contact their state associations now for further information and get completed applications in to state offices by the end of May.

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Clinton Grade School Students To Graduate DARE

Clinton Elementary School fifth grade students will go through their fifth grade DARE graduation today.
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers leads the ten week program and this week those students will conclude their curriculum with graduation. Chief Lowers says the program is oriented around teaching youth about the dangers of drugs and alcohol but has been modified since its inception in the early '80s.
 
 
According to Chief Lowers, the modified curriculum now also focuses on communication, which deals with saying no to drugs and alcohol. It also has lessons centered around bullying and cyber-bullying.
 
 
For DARE graduation, students will present their DARE projects to the class, which is the final project of the course. Chief Lowers explains those will go up in the hallway of the school for an open house.
 
 
Chief Lowers says he enjoys working with the students each year. This is his second year as the DARE instructor. He feels this is a great way for the police department to get in front of students at an early age and develop a good relationship with them and let them see police as a community service oriented department. 

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Community Care to Possibly Become Medicaid Only Program

A state funded senior program is under fire amid the state's continued fiscal mess and lack of progress towards a budget. 
 
Community Care Systems and the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) could be undergoing a change so the state can save money. The possible change would turn the Community Care Program into a Medicaid only program nd those already a part of the program who do not qualify for aid would not be grandfathered in. Rebecca Wheat's message at the DeWitt County Coalition on Wednesday was to be aware of the change and to plan accordingly. 
 
 
Of the 27 adults in Community Care, only three are Medicaid eligible. The state, however, is trying to come up with a solution to this problem.
 
 
Wheat is determined to look at this creatively, as the state has no money to give and the number of older adults will only ever increase.
 
 
To learn more about Community Care Systems and the services they provide  go to www.cciscares.com or call 217-935-4560.

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Hearing Next Week on Legal Weed

The effort to legalize marijuana is getting a more official push next week. Supportive lawmakers are going to hold committee hearings next week on how laws are working in other states. 
 
But State Rep. Kelly Cassidy says they aren’t in a big rush make Illinois the next state with legal recreational marijuana. 
 
 
Lawmakers say selling and then taxing pot could bring in more than $350 million in taxes each year for the state. The proposed law would make it legal to posses no more than 28 grams of the drug.

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Congressman Davis Says Poll Numbers Can't Hide Flaws in Obamacare

Congressman Rodney Davis is unfazed by poll numbers that show growing support for keeping Obamacare. 
 
In a recent appearance on CNN, the Taylorville Republican said the GOP must proceed with addressing a key issue on the healthcare front.
 
 
President Trump plans to tackle the health care issue sooner rather than later, saying he wants to resolve the debate before moving on to tax reform.

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Barickman Tees Up School Funding Reform

State Senator Jason Barickman is offering his concept for school funding reform. The pending bill calls for the state to look at each district and their resources separately without a blanket funding formula. 
 
Barickman hopes to get legislation moving sooner rather than later.
 
 
Barickman calls his K through 12 funding plan an evidence based model, with 27 separate points figuring into each school district's funding formula.

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Wapella Trustee Board Has Tie in Election Final Results

A coin toss will decide one of the three seats for the Wapella Village Trustee Board.
 
The final votes were tallied Wednesday morning at the DeWitt County Clerk's office and there was a tie after the six ballots were counted. 
 
Suzanna Holland of the Citizens Party received the most votes with 97. Mandy Huff of the Peoples Party received 91 votes.
 
The tie is between Reggie Westfall of the Citizens Party and Sherry Mears of the Peoples Party with 90 votes apiece.
 
A coin toss will determine the winner.
 
The race for Village Clerk in Wapella went final as Lauren Johnson received 97 votes to the 72 votes for Sherri Stamp.
 
The two year seat for the Village Board of Trustees went final Wednesday morning as Ryan Carter of the Peoples Party received 85 votes to the 84 votes for Mark Miller of the Citizens Party.
 
The Wapella Village President race is final with Richard Karr receiving 90 votes, defeating Cheri Miller, who received 83 votes.
 
A date and time for the coin toss to break the tie for the four-year seat will be determined at a later date. 
 
By a vote of 530-488 Chris Hammer defeated Marcia Cooper for the 2-year seat on the Clinton School Board. The seat is for an unexpired term.
 
Incumbent Mike Walker will retain his seat on the Clinton Board of Education.
 
Dan Matthews and Cole Ritter were elected to fill two vacancies on the School Board. 

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DeWitt County EMA Talks Spring Alerts

When you get those weather alerts on your phone for potential weather situations, your local safety officials want you to know what each alert means.
 
Teresa Barnett, Director of the DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency Office explains warnings are the most severe alert you can get. She says when you receive a tornado warning on your NOAA weather radio or your phone, you need to find shelter immediately.
 
 
According to Barnett, those alerts you receive for flash flooding are not to be dismissed. She explains those can happen most often in low lying areas that could even include highways. Barnett stresses to turn around if you come across flooding.
 
 
Barnett reminds residents a 'watch' encompasses a greater amount of time with the potential for a storm of some sort to occur while a 'warning' means a storm is imminent.
 
 
Barnett reminds residents, today you'll be able to purchase a NOAA weather radio for a discounted rate and receive free help in getting it programmed at Clinton Walgreens from 3:30 to 6:30 pm.

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Monticello Schools In Midst of Yearly Assesments

It's yearly assessment time for area schools.
 
Monticello schools are in the midst of the recently rolled out PARCC tests and Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman (right) explains this year the state has switched high school students to the SAT from the many years participating in the ACT testing.
 
 
The first time around with the SAT this year will be a change for schools as they will not have any data to compare this year to. Dr. Zimmerman says he wasn't in favor of the SAT switch because it's just another change in standardized testing.
 
 
The State of Illinois was required to go out to bid for the standardized testing and SAT was the low bidder in that process, which was the reason for the switch.
 
Dr. Zimmerman says there will be kids that take both standardized tests for their college careers and believes results will likely be varied on the success between the two. 

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Congressman Davis Wants Faster Social Security Claims For People With Terminal Illnesses

US Congressman Rodney Davis wants the claims process to be faster for people with a terminal illness when applying for Social Security benefits.
 
Davis calls this long overdue as he's seen the process play out with his own family and feels it shouldn't be something people in that situation have to wait on.
 
 
Congressman Davis is introducing a bill for two physicians to sign off on the illness and for the patient to begin receiving their benefits right away.
 
 
Davis notes, many times when a person has a terminal illness, they are unable to work which is when they need those benefits. 

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Tax Day Week Away

Tax day is normally April 15 but this year you have a few more days to file. The deadline is April 18. 
 
And if your waiting to file you aren’t alone says Terry Horstman with the Department of Revenue. 
 
 
The state continues to see folks who do file do so electronically. Almost 9 in 10 are sent in that way. And the wait to get your refund is running about month. 

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PORK PRODUCERS APPLAUD WHITE HOUSE ACTION ON GIPSA RULE

The Donald Trump administration will further delay the effective date of a regulation related to the buying and selling of livestock, a move applauded by the National Pork Producers Council.
 
The Farmer Fair Practices Rules, written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, includes two proposed regulations and an interim final rule. Dustin Baker is NPPC’s Deputy Director of Economics & Domestic Production Issues. He says pork producers welcome the delay of the interim final rule…
 
                
 
The interim final rule will now become effective October 19th, following a review and the public comment period. Baker explains the rule and why pork producers are concerned with it…
 
      
 
He says the delay and review of the rule is a step in the right direction…
 
     
 
An Informa Economics study found that the GIPSA Rule would cost the U.S. pork industry more than $420 million annually, because of lawsuits brought under the “no competitive injury” provision included in the interim final rule.

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Police Going Through Hate Crime Training

Law enforcement in Illinois are receiving more training on how to handle hate crimes. The Illinois State Police are working hand in hand with the Anti-Defamation League to incorporate training to help police identify and investigate hate crimes. The League’s Jessica Gall… 
 
 
There are also ongoing efforts to help teach tolerance and wipe out hate with education programs in school.

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DeWitt County EMA Hosting Weather Radio Event This Week

With the spring storm season upon us, it is important for everyone to have a weather radio in their home.
 
That is the message being conveyed this week by the DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency, who once again this year, will team with WAND meteorologist JC Fultz to help local residents program their NOAA weather radios. Lana Ophorst with DeWitt County EMA, indicates it will take place Wednesday from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm at Clinton Walgreens.
 
 
Ophorst says the NOAA weather radios are a great asset and will notify you any time an alert goes out. She says this includes watches and warnings and the steps you should take at that time. 
 
 
According to EMA Director, Teresa Barnett, the thinking that the sirens will alert someone in their homes is inaccurate. She explains those sirens are for people who are outside and encourages residents to purchase a weather radio.
 
 
During Wednesday's event at Walgreens, weather radios will be discounted five-dollars.
 
Regional Radio reminds you, The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and 95.9 FM WEZC are linked to the National Weather Service, so any time a watch or warning issued, DeWitt County and all surrounding counties are notified via the stations. 

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DeWitt County Friendship Center Celebrating Successful Fundraising Effort

A local entity is celebrating another successful fundraising event from last month.
 
The DeWitt County Friendship Center's annual ham and bean supper and cake auction was coming off a record year and administrators say their 2017 fundraiser was another success. Executive Director Sissy Leggett says it was a great event this year even though they did not quite match last year's levels raised.
 
 
Leggett continues to push the message the Friendship Center does not receive any state or federal dollars in the continued mission of being a resource for the County's seniors. She explains they rely on fundraisers and grants and local tax levies to help keep them afloat.
 
 
Leggett feels as though the fundraiser continues to grown and get better every year.
 
She thanks everyone that came out and thanks Lance Schmid for donating his auction services during their cake auctions and for making it an enjoyable evening. 

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Weekly Crop Report

WET CONDITIONS ARE DELAYING PLANTING PROGRESS AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT. 
 
THE WEATHER HAMPERED CORN PLANTING AND MADE SPRING CALVING DIFFICULT THIS PAST WEEK SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
ONE PERCENT OF CORN HAS BEEN PLANTED, COMPARED TO TWO PERCENT AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR. 
 
 
TWO PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED AND 36 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN PLANTED. 72 PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION.
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE IS NOW RATED AT FOUR PERCENT SHORT…70 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 26 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Reaction To Approval of Neil Gorsuch

Some farmers and other landowners welcome a full U-S Supreme Court now that Neil Gorsuch has been sworn in to take the late Antonin Scalia's seat. 
 
Ellen Steen serves as general counsel and secretary of the American Farm Bureau Federation;
 
 
Steen talks about why some farmers have a high interest in what takes place in the U-S Supreme Court.
 
 
The U-S Senate confirmed Gorsuch after a bruising confirmation battle late last week.
 
The American Farm Bureau's Steen expects the high court to continue to hear cases on land use, the power of federal government agencies and property rights.

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Farmers Using Calendar to Plant, Not Weather

Even with a record warm winter, a Western Illinois producer says it’s still about the calendar and not the weather when determining to plant corn. 
 
 
Chad Bell farms near Viola, just south of the Quad Cities in Western Illinois. 

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Governor Not Using Failed Universities, Social Services as Leverage

Two years ago Governor Bruce Rauner told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board that quote "Crisis. Crisis creates leverage.” 
 
But now he’s denying that he’s using inadequate funding for state universities and social service agencies as a leverage point for his turn around agenda items. 
 
 
Rauner continues to say the state needs term limits, fair maps, property tax freezes and other structural reforms to fix the state for the long haul.

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DCFS Promoting Child Abuse Awareness Month

You can help in the fight against child abuse. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services says if you see something, say something. 
 
Veronica Reza says that you should report any concerns about child abuse to the child abuse hotline. From there in about 24 hours a social worker will reach out for help. And often the first step isn’t to take a child out of a home.
 
 
To help call 1-800-25- ABUSE.
 
The call is anonymous.

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Area Fire Crews Gather For Large Training Excercise in Clinton

Upwards of ten fire departments were in Clinton Saturday for a training exercise that encompassed a whole city block.
 
Interim Clinton Fire Chief Jason Karr explains the city block that will become a Mach One gas station was taken over for fire departments to conduct a variety of training exercises on the homes and former business locations. 
 
 
President of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, or MABAS, Keith Hackle explains Saturday was a unique opportunity for everyone to train together and says they got some good training.
 
 
According to Chief Hackle, who is also the Fire Chief at Warrensburg Fire Department, everyone who came out Saturday had the chance to train. 
 
The block of former homes and businesses is expected to be demolished with construction for the gas station to start by the summer months. 
 
 

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Clinton Rotary Preparing For Potential Foreign Exchange Student

A local group is hoping to find a couple of families to house a foreign exchange student as soon as next school year. 
 
Clinton Rotarian Tom Reddington heads the foreign exchange program for the Clinton Rotary Club and explains they need a family that would take in a teen and help them learn the American culture and also learn about their culture. Their hope is the student becomes part of your family.
 
 
To become a host-family, Reddington explains there is a little bit of a process. There is a background check, with an interview but they would have a support system through Rotary.
 
 
An exchange student will spend a little less than a year in the United States, however, Reddington indicates that student will not spend the whole time with one family. He indicates they ask for around four months for a family to take on a student.
 
 
If you might be interested in hosting a foreign exchange student, contact Reddington at 309-838-4072. He indicates they are actively seeking families for a potential student to come to Clinton in the fall. 

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Monticello Community Leaders Celebrating Continued Downtown Growth

The focus of the downtown area of Monticello is starting pay dividends.
 
That is according to Director of Community Development, Callie McFarland. She explains they have seen lots of growth thanks to over a million dollars of investment.
 
 
With the renewed focus into the downtown of rural America in recent years, McFarland indicates there is evidence to show people want to have a thriving downtown and feels rural America is going to have to do a reinvention of itself anyway.
 
 
McFarland feels Monticello's downtown is very unique and has a lot to offer. Additionally, there's a lot of unique destinations for people to come and see.
 
 
The Community Development Office for Monticello has been helping potential business owners for a few years with their entrepenuership bootcamp program which helps prepare business owners for what it takes to not only start a business, but maintain it. 
 
McFarland indicates they will start up the program again soon. To get more information, monticellobootcamp.com or contact McFarland at 217-672-2583. 

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Not Too Early For Spring Gardening, Lawn Preparations

If you've got areas of your yard that look a little sparse, now is the time to get grass seed planted to get your yard looking good for the summer.
 
Candace Miller with the University of Illinois Extension Office indicates with the rainy spring season upon us, getting that seed planted now is idea.
 
 
The mild winter and spring so far has put some things ahead of schedule. Miller says you can start getting some weed control chemicals down.
 
 
Miller says it's not too early to get some cool season plants out. She points to some flowers and even vegetables like leafy greens and cauliflowers and such.
 
 
To get more information about upcoming gardening programs and tips for the spring planting season. Contact them at 217-935-5764.

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Six Biotech Giants Dropping to Three by Year's End

Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says the European Union’s approval of the ChemChina merger with Syngenta means the ball is likely rolling for the six biggest biotech companies to be whittled down to three by the end of this year. A day before the E.U. approved the deal, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission also okayed the deal as long as certain stipulations were met that require ChemChina to sell off parts of its business that overlap with Syngenta. Now that the U.S. and E.U. have approved the deal, the two companies need the approval of China, India, and Mexico to complete their $43 million deal. Politico says the next deal likely to close will be the biggest. It’s the $130 billion merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont, which still requires the approval of the U.S., Brazil, and China. There’s still a $66 billion dollar deal between Bayer CropSciences and Monsanto to complete yet. The two companies are still looking for approval from up to 30 nation groups. However, they do expect to get an answer from the U.S. and the E.U. by the end of June, which they say would put the deal on track to be completed by the last quarter of this year.

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DCFS Urging Public to Join Fight Against Child Abuse

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS LOOKING FOR THE PUBLIC’S HELP IN FIGHTING CHILD ABUSE. 
 
IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. THAT’S A MOTTO D-C-F-S HOPES YOU’LL FOLLOW, AND NOT BE AFRAID TO REPORT ANY CONCERNS. SPOKESPERSON VERONICA RESA SAYS A CALL TO THE CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE DOESN’T MEAN THE STATE WILL AUTOMATICALLY BREAK UP A FAMILY.
 
 
YOU SHOULDN’T BE AFRAID TO REPORT YOUR CONCERNS TO THE D-C-F-S CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE SAYS SPOKESPERSON VERONICA VERA. YOU CAN CALL ANONYMOUSLY, AND A TRAINED STAFF WILL ASK SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SITUATION YOU’VE WITNESSED.
 
 
SHE STRESSES THE GOAL ISN’T TO BREAK-UP A HOME, IT’S TO GET THEM THE SERVICES THEY NEED TO BECOME A STRONGER FAMILY SUCH AS FINANCIAL PLANNING, SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT AND MORE. THE CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE NUMBER IS: 1-800-25-ABUSE.

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Brady Focused on Cuts

As Democrats rolled out a stopgap plan to fund colleges and universities and social service programs, State Senator Bill Brady was talking about his ideas for a budget. The Bloomington Republican continues to talk about a budget fix achieved with spending cuts...
 
 
Brady recently unveiled his plan for $5 billion in cuts and selling $6 billion dollars in revenue bonds to cut the state's backlog of unpaid bills and save the state millions of dollars in interest costs. 
 

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Drone Operators on Farms Asked to be Extra Cautious

The National Agricultural Aviation Association wants to remind farmers using drones on their operations this year to remember to keep an eye out for agricultural aircraft flying low over their fields. Agricultural aviators often fly as low as ten feet off the ground, and this year may find themselves in the same airspace as drones that are licensed to fly as high as 400 feet off the ground. That’s why the National Ag Aviation Association is urging farmers to do what they can to watch out for the larger aircraft. Executive Director Andrew Moore says, “When flying at speeds over 140 miles per hour, agricultural aviators likely won’t see a UAV. That’s why it’s so important for drone operators to protect aviators any way they can.” In tests conducted by the Colorado Agricultural Aviators Association and the state of Colorado, not one pilot could continually track a 28-inch drone while flying at regular speeds. They may be spotted for a second but won’t be continually seen, so it’s up to drone operators to prevent potential collisions.

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Farmers and Ranchers Want Comprehensive Tax Reform

The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing this week to look at how the tax code currently in place affects farmers, ranchers, and the rural communities they live in. The American Farm Bureau was one of the organizations giving testimony. Pat Wolff, Senior Director of Congressional Relations, told the committee that farmers and ranchers need more flexibility built into the tax code. The goal would be to give farmers the flexibility to grow during the good times and help them adapt to situations often beyond their control when tough times hit. The House has proposed ideas for tax reform, many of which the Farm Bureau supports. Some of the proposals include reducing income tax rates, reducing capital gains taxes, immediate business expensing, and repealing the estate tax. Wolff says Farm Bureau has ideas that would improve the proposed changes to the tax code, including reinstating benefits like the deduction for business interest expense and guaranteeing the continuation of stepped-up basis, cash accounting, and like-kind exchanges. “Running a farm and ranch business is challenging under the best conditions,” Wolff said in her testimony. “Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that recognizes the unique financial challenges that impact them.”

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Scovill Zoo Celebrating 50 Years With Season Opening This Weekend

A Macon County entity is celebrating 50 years in business when they open up for the season this weekend.
 
Director of the Scovill Zoo Ken Frye indicates it will be Zoo's 50th year when they open for the season and indicates they are very excited for the year.
 
 
The winter has been busy for staff at the Zoo. According to Frye some changes won't be visible to their guests but there will be some things they will notice, like a new holding area for their monkeys and new fencing for the petting zoo.
 
 
Next weekend, the Scovill Zoo is doing their annual Easter Egg Hunt. Later this year, the Zoo plans to replace their train engine. They also have introduced a new toucan to their bird exhibit. 
 
For more information about Scovill Zoo, visit scovillzoo.org. 

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Coronor Releases Identity of Man Killed At McElroy Metal

DeWitt County Coronor Randy Rice has released the identity of the man that was killed in an accident at McElroy Metal Thursday morning. 
57-year old Kerry Daniels of Clinton, Illinois was pronounced dead at the scene 10:35 AM Thursday April 6, 2017 after a Load of sheet metal fell on him at the McElroy Metal Service Center off Route 10 in Clinton. 
 
An autopsy is scheduled today.  
 
The DeWitt County Coroner's office, Clinton  Police Department and OSHA are investigating the death.
 
Just before 10 am Thursday, responders were called to McElroy Metal for a report a person involved in an accident and was discovered unresponsive.
 
EMS, fire and police crews were called to the scene and Heyworth Fire Department was called in as well.

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Senate Advances Bill Cracking Down on Repeat Gun Offenders

THE ILLINOIS SENATE IS ADVANCING A BILL CRACKING DOWN ON REPEAT GUN OFFENDERS.
 
THE MEASURE CREATES TOUGHER SENTENCING STANDARDS FOR CRIMINALS REPEATEDLY CAUGHT USING GUNS ILLEGALLY. SENATOR KWAME RAOUL OF CHICAGO SAYS THE KILLINGS HAVE TO STOP.
 
 
OPPONENTS SAY THIS WILL LEAD TO FURTHER OVERCROWDING OF STATE PRISONS, BUT RAOUL DISAGREES SINCE IT INCLUDES SOME CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS.
 
 
THE BILL INCLUDES SOME CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS AS WELL, DIRECTING LOW LEVEL, NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS INTO REHABILITATION PROGRAMS INSTEAD OF JUST PRISON TIME. IT NOW MOVES TO THE HOUSE FOR A VOTE.

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Kennedy Hits Fundraising Milestone

With Governor Rauner dumping millions of his own money into his reelection campaign and billionaire J.B. Pritzker entering the race for Governor yesterday, there will be lots of talk about money. 
 
Chris Kennedy's campaign has announced they've received more than $1 million from 3,000 individual contributors, since he launched his candidacy six weeks ago. 
 
Kennedy's campaign reports he has raised more individual contributions in the first six weeks of his campaign than Governor Rauner did between announcing his campaign and the Republican primary in 2014.

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Pritzker Joins Governor's Race

Billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker has jumped in the race for Illinois Governor.
 
 Pritzker made it official with a Chicago press conference this afternoon. He called Governor Rauner a failure’ and follower of President Donald Trump in a 15 minute speech. 
 
Pritzker went on to declare his support for a tax on millionaires and billionaires rather than the middle class. 
 
He is an heir to the Hyatt Hotels and Forbes ranks him as the third wealthiest person in Illinois with estimated personal wealth of 3.4 billion dollars.

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17 Schools Suing State, Gov. Rauner

Downstate schools are newest group to file a lawsuit against the state. 17 school districts say Governor Bruce Rauner and his administration are failing to provide the money required to deliver the high standards set by the state.
 
The lawsuit, naming both Rauner and the Illinois State Board of Education, say the current system of funding is unsustainable and state’s reliance on property taxes is outdated and inadequate. Art Ryan, Superintendent of Cahokia Schools, says the state needs to start paying its bills in full. 
 
 
But Dan Cox, superintendent of the Staunton School District, stress they don’t want the standards lowered, they just want the state to pay for what they are asking schools to accomplish. 
 
 
Ryan notes his district received last school year’s final payment in January of this year. And he’s expecting to see even less money in the future. 
 
The end goal of the lawsuit is for the state to change the model on how funding gets to schools. And then develop a formula that can put a price on learning standards the state is asking schools to achieve. 

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Fatal Accident at McElroy Metal

A mid-morning fatal accident at a Clinton industrial plant is being investigated today. 
 
Just before 10 am, responders were called to McElroy Metal for a report a person involved in an accident and was discovered unresponsive.
 
EMS, fire and police crews were called to the scene and Heyworth Fire Department was called in as well.
 
The identity of the person involved was not available. The DeWitt County Coronor and Clinton Police are investigating the incident. 
 
This story will be updated. 

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Some Election Results Still Pending

Some races this past week's election in DeWitt County were very tight and are still waiting to go final. 
 
That is because there are still absentee ballots still out to be counted and County Clerk Dana Smith explains those ballots had to be postmarked by election day to be counted, then they have two weeks to arrive at the courthouse.
 
 
With approximately four to five ballots still out, the races could be decided by those absentee ballots. Smith explains Wapella still has some races that are within just a few votes.
 
 
Voter turnout this year was down. Smith credits that to the limited races in Clinton.
 
The outcomes of the Wapella races will go final next week. 

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Business Expo Spotlight: DeWitt County Sheriff's Office

Social media is the best way to reach the public.
 
That was the message from DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner last week at the annual Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. The Sheriff says they were promoting their presence on all the major sites and what kind of information they could find there.
 
 
Recently, the Sheriff has started using video messages as a way to communicate. He says it is a great way to get a message out there faster than typing something up.
 
 
While Sheriff Shofner recognizes the importance of social networking to communicate with the public but he says there is nothing like face to face interaction, like at the Business Expo at Clinton High School.
 
 
The Sheriff encourages his deputies to get out of their patrol vehicles and talk with the public and become engaged. He says they need positive relationships with the people that are not breaking the law. 

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Guardians of the Children Hosting Annual Bike Blessing Sunday

Trikes to motorcycles and everything in between are welcome this Sunday on the downtown Clinton Square when a local biker group holds their annual Bike Blessing.
 
The Guardians of the Children will host their annual Bike Blessing Sunday at 11 am on the downtown Clinton Square. Chapter President Ed Moore says there will be food and games and a blessing of the bikes for the upcoming warm weather season.
 
 
According to Moore, it gives their group a chance to promote what they do, which he explains, is provide support for kids going through an abuse case in the court system.
 
 
Guardians of the Children take on kids that are going through an abuse case in the court system. Moore explains it's all about making the child feel special through various activities with their organization and being a support for the child when they are in the courtroom for any hearings or even the trial.
 
 
The annual Guardians of the Children bike blessing on the square in Clinton is Sunday at 11 am and goes until 2 pm. The square will be blocked off for the event. 

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Henbit Popping Up in Central Illinois Fields

If you've traveled across central Illinois recently, then you may have noticed fields of purple in the countryside.  No, that's not a new cover crop you're seeing, it's actually a weed.   NAFB Farm Broadcaster, Jared White, has more...
 
 
 

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Western Illinois Lawmaker Wants Power Line Contractor To Reimburse Township

A Western Illinois state lawmaker wants to see a contractor reimburse a number of townships for damages caused to roads during a power line project over the winter. 
 
State Representative Dan Swanson of Alpha says a couple of road commissioners put damage estimates at $300,000 and $400,000 respectively.
 
 
Swanson met with the contractor this week. The work occurred throughout Mercer, Henry and Knox Counties. 

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State Aims To Help Exiting Prisoners

A detention center in the western Illinois town of Kewanee is working to get prisoners better prepared for the world that awaits them upon release. Governor Bruce Rauner was at the Life Skills Re-entry center and says it’s important to get people ready to get their lives back on the right path.
 
 
The Rauner Administration has been pushing strongly to reform the criminal justice system and has a goal of lowering the state inmate numbers 25 percent by 2025.

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Rauner Weighs in on Stopgap Budget

The Illinois House is once again pushing a stopgap spending plan. A house committee has approved a plan to devote more than $800 million to higher education and human services. 
 
The money would be taken from two state special state funds that are designed to help education and human services. Governor Rauner had a familiar take, saying no reforms, no stopgap.
 
 
Representative Greg Harris says the two special funds have about 800 million dollars sitting in bank accounts gathering dust. 
 
More than two-thirds of the money in the bill would go to higher education, the remainder would go to human services. More than half of the higher education money would go to grants for needy college students. 
 
Social service dollars would be devoted to domestic violence shelters that were left out of last year's stopgap budget. 

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Perdue USDA Confirmation Put On Hold

The epic political fight over President Donald Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has scuttled any chance the Senate will confirm former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary before Congress’s Easter recess. 
 
American Farm Bureau’s Dale Moore…
 
               
 
Moore says the latest delay in confirming the next leader for the Department of Agriculture is frustrating…
 
          
 
The Senate could have made quick work of the Perdue nomination this week, but that would have taken a bipartisan time agreement, or unanimous consent of all 100-senators to consider Perdue in tandem with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
 
Judiciary Chair and Ag member Chuck Grassley on the Majority Leader’s skipping Perdue until after Easter…
 
             
 
That became obvious last week when New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand broke ranks with fellow Democrats on the Senate Agriculture Committee and voted ‘no’ on Perdue, signaling Democrats’ intent to make no floor concessions, even for someone with strong bipartisan and farm support.

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State Fair Debuts New Logo

THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIR IS DEBUTING A NEW LOGO AND THIS YEAR’S THEME. 
 
THE LOGO IS A SLEEK BLACK, RED AND BLUE DESIGN…AND THE MOTTO THIS YEAR WILL BE “GENERATIONS OF FUN” SAYS FAIR SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK.
 
 
STATE FAIR SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK SAYS EXCITEMENT IS ALREADY BUILDING AND URGES FAMILIES TO START PLANNING NOW.
 
 
THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIR RUNS AUGUST 10TH THROUGH THE 20TH IN SPRINGFIELD. FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT: ILLINOIS DOT GOV SLASH STATE FAIR.

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Crossbow Gets First Step Towards Hunting Approval

Hunters may soon be able to use a crossbow during archery season. 
 
The change was approved Wednesday by the Illinois House today. Red Bud Republican Jerry Costello says that allowing their use may get a diversity of hunters out for archery season. 
 
 
The measure needs to be taken up by the Senate. 

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CCEF Presents to Clinton Rotary

The Clinton Community Educational Foundation's purpose is to assist the children that attend Clinton schools in a variety of ways.
 
That was the message from the group at the Clinton Rotary meeting Tuesday afternoon. President Barbara Gullone spoke about what the foundation has accomplished this past year, as well as a new project. This year, the CCEF gave out nine teacher grants, funded dual credit classes for 25 students, and will award several scholarships to college bound high schoolers.
 
 
One of the new projects that the CCEF has taken on is Read Across Clinton which allows students to start their own home library. Children in grades 2 through 5 who receive free or reduced lunch are welcome to browse and select some books to take home and keep.
 
 
The goal for this project is to improve reading scores of elementary school students.
 
The CCEF will host their second annual Derby Day Fundraiser in May at the Clinton Country Club.
 
Learn more about the CCEF by visiting their website, clintonedfoundation.org. 

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Business Expo Spotlight: Vonderlieth Living Center

The 2017 Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo last week at Clinton High School drew the attention of a lot of people as hundreds came out to check out over 50 business and civic groups.
 
Vonderlieth of Mt. Pulaski was promoting their retirement community and facility. According to Lisa Burkschneider, Community Relations Coordinator, they wanted to make the DeWitt County community aware of what they are and the services they provide.
 
 
The facility recently underwent some renovations to their living spaces and according to Burkschneider, they have independent living spaces that are still available.
 
 
April 15, Vonderlieth is hosting an Easter Egg hunt and then from noon to 5 pm on April 29, they'll be hosting a family day at their facility with tours and opportunities for the kids.
 
Get more information about Vonderlieth Living Center in Mt. Pulaski by visiting heritageofcare.com/mtpulaski or find them on Facebook. 

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Hospitals Closely Watching Case for Tax Exempt Status, Charity Care

Local hospitals closely following a case involving tax exempt status and charity care. Ted Roglaski with Genesis Medical Center Aledo says the legal matter carries significant ramifications statewide. 
 
 
The dispute is between the City of Urbana and Carle Foundation. The issue has traveled all the way to the state supreme court, but was returned to Champaign Country County Circuit last month.

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Mendoza Continues To Press Rauner

Governor Bruce Rauner has had a number of battles with Comptroller Susana Mendoza and there is another one brewing. 
 
Last week Rauner was a guest on a radio show in Chicago when the host laughed that Mendoza should have her mouth taped shut to keep her quiet. Mendoza says Rauner laughed along. 
 
According to her it’s a pattern of behavior that shows Rauner has had the wrong priorities from day one.
 
 
She says that no matter what may be joked about on the radio she won’t stop being heard.
 
 
Mendoza says the fact there is no budget shows specific groups that they don’t matter. 

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Durbin Discusses Filibuster of Gorsuch

Democrats in the US Senate have enough votes now to filibuster the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. 
 
Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin says that a life time appointment should be done by getting broad bipartisan support. He notes it’s the way it’s been done in the past and should be done now. 
 
 
Durbin says it’s the nominee that might need to be changed, not the process to appoint them.
 
 
Republicans in the Senate are prepared to change the rules surrounding the vote, the so called nuclear option. That would require just a simple majority to make the appointment.

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AFSCME, Rauner Battle Continues

A win for AFSCME in the battle between the union for the majority of state workers and Governor Rauner. 
 
The Illinois Supreme Court has rejected Rauner's request to hear a direct appeal to a decision regarding stalled contract talks between the parties. Anders Lindall with AFSCME is celebrating news that Fourth District Appellate Court will get to determine whether talks between the Governor and Union should be considered to be at an impasse.
 
 
The state’s high court offered no legal opinion and simply issued a one sentence ruling that the Rauner administration’s request had been denied. It could take months for the appellate court to rule. 
 
The Rauner Administration has released the following statement from General Counsel Dennis Murashko:
 
“We have gone as far as we can go in negotiations - and our last, best and final offer is all that our taxpayers can afford. It is therefore regrettable that AFSCME is continuously resisting every attempt for a quick resolution and wants to continue dragging this out in the courts. Every day of delay costs taxpayers over $2 million.”

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UPDATED & CORRECTED: Election Results

It was a light election Tuesday in DeWitt County.
 
The race for a seat on the Clinton School Board between Marcia Cooper and Chris Hammer was the highlight on the ballot in DeWitt County.
 
By a vote of 530-488 Chris Hammer defeated Marcia Cooper. The seat is for an unexpired-two year term.
 
Incumbent Mike Walker will retain his seat on the Clinton Board of Education.
 
Dan Matthews and Cole Ritter were elected to fill two vacancies on the School Board. 
 
In Wapella, there were a number of tightly contested races. The contested races were Village President race between Richard Karr and Cheri Miller, Village Clerk between Lauren Johnson and Sherri Stamp, three four-year seats on the Village Board between Mandy Huff, Sherry Mears, Shauna Hamblen, Suzanna Holland and Reggie Westfall, along with a two-year seat between Ryan Carter and Mark Miller.  
 
Most of the Wapella races are too close to call until all absentee ballots are accounted for.  As of Wednesday morning, the results are:
 
Karr leads Miller by a vote of 86-83.
 
Johnson defeated Stamp 93-72.
 
The races for Village Trustee race for the four-year terms are not final as there are still mail in ballots but as of Tuesday night, the vote totals are:
 
Suzanna Holland - 95
Reggie Westfall - 90
Mandy Huff - 87
 
They are ahead of Mears and Hamblen as of Wednesday morning.
 
The Village Trustee race for a two-year term are not final either as there are still mail-in ballots to be received but as of Wednesday morning, Miller leads Carter 84-81. 
 
Only about 2,000 votes were cast in DeWitt County in Tuesday's election.

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Business Expo Highlight: Warner Hospital and Health Services Promoting Services

The annual Chamber of Commerce Business Expo is an opportunity for local businesses and entities to get in front of hundreds of local residents and tell their stories.
 
For Warner Hospital and Health Services, the Expo last week at Clinton High School, was an opportunity to tell more about the evolving business. Nick Rousseau indicates Family Medicine has expanded their hours as they continue to try to get the community on board.
 
 
Electronic medical records had been an ongoing project at the City-owned facility and recently they made the switch all the way over. According to Rousseau, it's a huge convenience for their doctors and staff.
 
 
A new position at Warner Hospital and Health Care Services is Care Coordinator, and Rousseau indicates she is a great resource for patients for when they come to the doctor and to make sure the patient receives everything they need.
 
 
3D mammography is going to be a huge addition at the hospital coming soon and Rousseau says there's so many benefits to 3D mammography.
 
 
The Hospital Foundation was at the Business Expo as a part of the Warner Hospital and Health Services booth promoting their upcoming fundraising efforts to benefit the hospital. 

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Technology in Blue Ridge District Drawing Attention

The technology program in the Blue Ridge school district is drawing the attention at a state and national level.
 
According to Superintendent Susan Wilson, the technology program in their district is over 20 years old and the Center for Digital Education is applauding the program for it's innovation.
 
 
Blue Ridge will send students to Springfield to showcase the things happening with technology in the district before passing lawmakers.
 
 
Wilson calls the recognition much deserved. She says this is something the district has excelled at longer than she has been in the district.
 
 
The district received their awards from the Center for Digital Education in March. 

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March Weather Recap

MARCH WEATHER IN ILLINOIS INCLUDES PLENTY OF RAIN AND SNOW. 
 
THE TOTALS ARE IN AND STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL SAYS THE STATE ENJOYED SOME MUCH NEEDED RAIN.
 
 
PRECIPITATION CAME IN AT THREE POINT SIX TWO INCHES FOR THE MONTH. THAT’S MORE THAN A HALF INCH ABOVE NORMAL.
 
 
ANGEL SAYS SNOWFALL FOR THE WINTER SEASON WAS WELL BELOW NORMAL…RANGING FROM 20 TO 30 INCHES IN FAR NORTHERN ILLINOIS TO LESS THAN AN INCH IN FAR SOUTHERN ILLINOIS.

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First Crop Report for 2017

THE FIRST WEEKLY CROP REPORT OF THE SEASON IS OUT, SHOWING MUCH NEEDED RAINFALL THROUGHOUT THE STATE.
 
PRECIPITATION THIS PAST WEEK AVERAGED ABOUT A HALF INCH ABOVE NORMAL AND LEAVING STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE AT ONE PERCENT VERY SHORT, 10 PERCENT SHORT, 72 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 17 PERCENT SURPLUS. STATE CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER SAYS PLANTING HAS BEGUN.
 
 
SCHLEUSENER SAYS 65 PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION.
 
 
SCHLEUSENER SAYS 28 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN PLANTED, WHICH COMPARED TO 11 PERCENT LAST YEAR.

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Legislation Would Require State To Only Purchas American Made Vehicles

Legislation has been introduced in Springfield that would require state agencies to purchase only vehicles made in North America. 
 
The sponsor is State Representative Mike Halpin of Rock Island. 
 
 
House Bill 795 passed out of State Government Administration committee last week and now moves to the full House. 
 
It requires all vehicles purchased, leased or used by the State of Illinois to be assembled in the United States or Canada. 

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Durbing Reflects on Likely Nuclear Option Approval of Gorsuch

Senator Dick Durbin is among Democrats making their intentions known on how they will vote during the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. 
 
Durbin is solidly in the no column but long term he isn't just expressing concerns about Gorsuch but how the process has changed with Republicans expected to shut down a potential filibuster.
 
 
Durbin will vote against Gorsuch on the Senate floor and in his capacity as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Two Young Children Killed in Christian County House Fire

Two young children are dead after a Christian County house fire. 
 
The children died Sunday morning in Pana. Christian County Coroner Amy Winans has determined 3-month-old Keith Emerson and 2-year-old Ellaina Emerson died of carbon monoxide intoxication. 
 
Firefighters weren't able to immediately enter the residence (in the 800 block of Second Street) because of intense heat and smoke. 
 
The children's parents were transported to Springfield's Memorial Medical Center with non life threatening injuries. 
 
Fire investigators believe the fire was likely electrical in nature but have not confirmed a cause.

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City, Center Street Residents Reach Resolution on Apple n' Pork Garbage Issue

A solution from community leaders was to the satisfaction of approximately 25 residents of Center Street Monday night regarding trash receptacles during the annual Apple n' Pork Festival.
 
Nan Crang addressed the homeowners Monday night proposing a plan that would be of no cost to the vendor nor the homeowner. Mayor Roger Cyrulik also explains they plan to increase the amount of garbage receptacles with the same pick up times.
 
 
According to Crang, they plan to line North Center Street with the boxes to allow more access for festival attendees with regular pick up times of Saturday after the festival.
 
 
Crang also implored land owners with vendors that utilize their front lawns to ask them to set their trash to the side and not use the receptacles that will be designated for those walking up and down Center Street.
 
Also at the Monday night City Council meeting:
 
>>The Council put on file the 2018 Fiscal Year budget to be voted on at the April 17 meeting.
 
>>The Council approved an agreement with EMA for $15-thousand.
 
>>The Council approved the annual tree purchase for the Streets Department at a cost of just over $4-thousand.
 
>>The Motor Fuel Tax funds were approved for 2017 for $17-thousand with the projects to be determined.
 
>>The Council approved the sale of real estate at 1150 Highway 54.

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Interim Fire Chief Steps Down

Clinton's interim Fire Chief David Dallas has stepped down from his post.
 
At Monday night's Clinton City Council meeting, Commissioner Dan Ballenger indicated his interim Fire Chief submitted his letter of resignation and indicates he has some candidates to fill the position but for the time being, will rely on his two assistant chiefs.
 
 
The Council gave the approval for Raymond James and Jason Karr to take the position in the interim. 

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Crimestoppers Seeking Information in Residential Burglary Case

The Clinton Police Department is seeking your help and information in solving a residential burglary.  
 
On or around March 29 2017, the Clinton Police Department responded to a report of a residential burglary that occurred in the 1600 block of E. Main St.
 
During this burglary, suspect or suspects made entry to the garage of this residence and once inside, stole a large, red, Snap-On brand multi cabinet tool chest containing numerous Snap-On and Craftsman power tools.  Witnesses indicate that two male suspects wearing hooded sweatshirts were observed and were possibly driving a white pick-up truck.      
 
 Crimestoppers will pay a cash reward of up to $1000.00 when a felony arrest is made as a result of information that you have provided.  Anyone with any information regarding this burglary or any other crimes or wanted fugitives is asked to contact the Clinton Area Crime stoppers at 217-935-3333.
 
Remember as always; our phone line is not recorded and does not utilize caller identification.
 
Crimestoppers wants your information, not your name.

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Business Expo Spotlight: Clinton Community Education Foundation

Read Across Clinton and the upcoming Derby Day fundraiser were the two big items being pushed by the Clinton Community Educational Foundation at last week's Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.
 
Nancy Stokowski is currently the liason for the Board of Education on the Foundation Board and indicates the Read Across Clinton just celebrated another successful year, and they are considering adding some new wrinkles next year.
 
 
The CCEF was also talking with attendees about their Derby Day fundraiser the first Saturday of May. According to Stokowski, the first year was a great event and they hope to continue to build on that success this year.
 
 
For more information about Read Across Clinton or the CCEF's Derby Day fundraiser, visit clintonedfoundation.org. 

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National Weather Service Seeking Rain Totals

If you keep track of rainfall totals at your farming operation or at your home, the National Weather Service is asking you to consider being a part of a program to submit those totals to them.
 
Cocorahs.org is a website started by the National Weather Service that keeps track of rainfall totals from across the country and according to Darrin Hansing, Service Hydrologist at the National Weather Service, so many people utilize the information at CoCoRAHS.
 
 
According to Hansing, you can get basic data about precipitation across the country, but you can also get more in depth data and information. 
 
 
CoCoRAHS allows for users to get spacial information about totals near them for the day they are looking or they could back and look at previous rainfall totals. Hansing explains there's so much interactivity at the website.
 
 
Visit cocorahs.org for more information. 
 
If you are considering becoming a report for CoCoRAHS, Hansing says you will need a specific rain gauge as it helps keep the data consistent.

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Children's Advocacy Center Celebrating Child Abuse Awareness Month

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month which means it is a big month for one local organization.
 
Judy Brucker is the Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Centers and says is a time for them to bring the subject of Child Abuse to the attention of as many people as possible.
 
 
Between incidents like at Penn State and with Adrian Peterson in the NFL, the issue of child abuse has become more prominent in daily discussions in recent years and Brucker says that is a very good thing.
 
 
Brucker indicates the statistics for child abuse are astounding and feels if you talk with someone close to you, you might found out they were a victim.
 
 
Brucker indicates their office in Bloomington will be lining the downtown area with blue ribbons to promote Child Abuse Awareness Month. 

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New Legislation Holds Lawmakers Pay For More Flexibility

Quad Cities area State Senator Neil Anderson is co-sponsoring legislation that provides greater flexibility to place priorities, like funding for hospitals, human services, and universities, ahead of legislator and constitutional officer pay. 
 
The bill follows a recent court ruling that put legislator paychecks ahead of other outstanding financial obligations.
 
 
Under the bill, the Comptroller is authorized to delay monthly salary payments to legislators if there are insufficient funds in the state's General Revenue Fund to pay all other obligations within 90 days after a voucher requesting reimbursement has been submitted to the Comptroller.

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Duckworth Ready for Gusuch Filibuster

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is prepared to support a filibuster effort against the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. 
 
Thursday night, Duckworth announced her opposition to Gorsuch based on her belief that Gorsuch had put corporate profits ahead of people in the past and would continue to do so. She also cited differences with him on his rulings on disability rights, civil rights, reproductive rights and other issues. 
 
Duckworth also noted Gorsuch did not meet with her in person and says he cancelled a previously scheduled meeting with her.

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Another Failed Attempt At Pension Reform and CPS Help

Another week draws to an end without a state budget or any meaningful reforms to the budget process. 
 
A pension reform bill died this week that would have provided a one-time $215 million payment to the Chicago Public Schools pension fund. The effort never made it out of a committee and Secretary of Education Beth Purvis says she’s disappointed that the proposal didn’t make it to the Senate floor. 
 
 
Democrats on the other side say they did a better job of fixing CPS’s pension problems in a bill that’s tied to the grand bargain. 

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Moody's Makes New Threats

A top bond rating agency delivers more threats against state leaders. 
 
Moody's Investors Service says Illinois needs a budget by the end of May or the state could see its lowest in the country credit rating sink further and and risk long term damage to colleges and universities as well as social service providers. 
 
Moody's urged lawmakers to renew efforts to pass the grand bargain compromise in the Illinois Senate.

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Weekly Weather Update

It was a wet week in central Illinois this week and we could see more rain next week. State Climotologist Jim Angel has more. 
 

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Jobs Aren't Coming To All Areas of Illinois

The state is adding a few jobs here and there but overall more than half of the cities in the state lost jobs. 
 
That’s the latest from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Bob Gough with IDES says that job gains are limited to a few areas of the state. 
 

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