Local News

Sen. Manar Says Leaders Did Their Job

It’s been 700 days since a full year budget was in effect for Illinois. Today marks the final day of the spring session for lawmakers to send the Governor a budget for his approval or veto. 
 
The Illinois Senate has already passed one. Democrat Senator Andy Manar says that House has a good plan to vote on and the calls on them to approve it.
 
 
Manar adds spending in the budget they passed mirrors the caps that Governor Rauner laid out in his budget framework.
 

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Protestors Charged With Trespassing At Capitol

34 activists who walked 200 miles to the Capitol before causing a stir in the House gallery, and blocking entry to Governor Rauner’s office, face preliminary criminal trespass charges. 
 
The leaders from Fair Economy Illinois were arrested one by one starting at 10:30 last night when they refused orders to disperse from Capitol Police.

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Rauner Weighs In On A Number of Issues

Many wonder if Governor Rauner will use his veto pen much after the end of the legislative session. 
 
One thing is clear, he won't use it across the board. Rauner's office reports he will sign automatically voter registration legislation. Rauner vetoed a previous version, saying it didn't go far enough in preventing voter fraud. 
 
It's not certain whether the Governor will sign the bill boosting the minimum wage. He says he can support if with other regulatory changes.

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Police Chief: Lock Your Cars, Watch Your Pets

As things start to stay consistently warm, local authorities have some reminders for area residents.
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers recognizes the public's desire to spend more time outside but asks if you have a dog and you are outside, keep it contained in a fenced in area or on a leash.
 
 
Chief Lowers says it is no secret they receive more calls for car burglaries and thefts around this time of year. He reminds all owners of vehicles to lock the doors and remove all high-priced valuables.
 
 
The Chief says if someone gets into your vehicle and you may not think they took anything to still call the department. He says it helps them identify trends in other burglary cases. 

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Clinton Rotary Gearing Up for Annual Fundraiser

The Clinton Rotary Club has an annual fundraiser centered around the NFL season and it is that time of the year when they are preparing for it.
 
Bryce Lynch approached the Rotary Club at their Tuesday meeting about the idea of possibly changing up the fundraiser this year. He says it is essentially purchasing a card with a trio of teams, and the highest scoring trio is the winner at the end of the season.
 
 
Lynch notes the Foobtall-mania has been a good fundraiser for the Rotary Club. He explains the fundraiser has garnered between $3000 and $5000 but because of the drop off from the first year to the second, Lynch is proposing a change to the program that would help it grow. 
 
 
With involving the high school's Interact Club, concerns arose of it being a form of gambling, but Lynch says it is not. He says the tickets are technically a sale of $20 for music downloads, and the football-mania portion of the ticket is a "bonus".
 
 
The club decided on keeping the 17-week tickets being sold and discussed getting out in the community to sell the tickets during events with large gatherings. 

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Local Veterans Organizations Come Together For Color Guard

Honoring veterans at funerals and during patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day, is the reason many veterans from different organizations come together to form the DeWitt County Color Guard.
 
Tom Reddington with the American Legion indicates that the color guard is made up of volunteers from the American Legion, AmVets, and VFW. The color guard is responsible for performing and taking care of the many tasks associated with a proper veteran funeral.
 
 
Reddington states that no matter what the weather forecast looks like the color guard will be there honoring a veteran. He says there is no fee associated with the color guard and they use memorials made out to the local veterans organizations to provide funding for the color guard.
 
 
Anyone interested in being a member of the DeWitt County Color Guard can contact Tom Reddington at (309) 838-4072. The only prerequisite for being in the color guard is to be a member of either the American Legion, AmVets, or VFW.

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Procurement Bill Passes House

HOUSE LAWMAKERS ARE APPROVING ONE COMPONENT OF THE GRAND BARGAIN…PROCUREMENT REFORM.
 
THE BILL REVAMPS PURCHASING RULES FOR STATE AGENCIES AND UNIVERSITIES, AND IS JUST A START SAYS REPRESENTATIVE AL RILEY OF CHICAGO.
 
 
THE MEASURE IS A PART OF THE SENATE’S GRAND BARGAIN PACKAGE AND HOUSE SPEAKER MIKE MADIGAN SAYS IT SHOWS THEY ARE WILLING TO WORK WITH THE GOVERNOR. THE SENATE WILL NEED TO APPROVE AN AMENDMENT THE HOUSE ADDED.

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College Affordability Bill Passes House

A BILL THAT AIMS TO MAKE COLLEGE MORE AFFORDABLE AND KEEP STUDENTS IN ILLINOIS PASSED THE HOUSE MONDAY. 
 
THE MEASURE PROVIDES UP TO FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS GRANTS TO STUDENTS ATTENDING AN IN-STATE COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY. FAMILIES WOULD HAVE TO MEET CERTAIN INCOME GUIDELINES AND STUDENTS WOULD HAVE TO MAINTAIN AT LEAST A “B” AVERAGE WHILE THEY ARE IN SCHOOL SAYS BILL SPONSOR, REPRESENTATIVE LOU LANG OF SKOKIE.
 
 
REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT PRITCHARD OF SYCAMORE SAYS IT’S A GREAT IDEA, BUT THAT THE STATE CAN’T SUPPORT THE 300 TO 400 MILLION DOLLAR ANNUAL PRICE TAG.
 
 
THE BILL ALSO SETS UP A FUND TO HELP COLLEGES ATTRACT AND RETAIN TOP TEACHERS. CRITICS QUESTION HOW THE STATE CAN AFFORD THE 300 TO 400 MILLION DOLLAR ANNUAL PRICE TAG. IT NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE.

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Repeat Gun Offender Bill Passes House

REPEAT GUN OFFENDERS COULD FACE TOUGHER PENALTIES UNDER LEGISLATION APPROVED BY THE HOUSE. 
 
THE MEASURE HAS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT AND IS DESIGNED TO HELP REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE IN CHICAGO AND OTHER CITIES. CRITICS SAY A LONGER SENTENCE DOESN’T NECESSARILY CURB CRIME…BUT REPRESENTATIVE DAVID HARRIS OF MOUNT PROSPECT SAYS THESE REPEAT OFFENDERS NEED TO BE LOCKED UP.
 
 
CRITICS, LIKE REPRESENTATIVE SONYA HARPER OF CHICAGO, SAY THIS WILL JUST PUT MORE MINORITIES BEHIND BARS.
 
 
THE SENATE MUST APPROVE A TWEAK THE HOUSE MADE TO THE BILL AND THEN IT WILL BE SENT TO THE GOVERNOR’S DESK FOR FINAL APPROVAL.

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House Passes Minimum Wage Bill

THE STATE’S MINIMUM WAGE WOULD RISE TO 15 DOLLARS AN HOUR UNDER LEGISLATION APPROVED BY THE HOUSE TUESDAY.
 
THE INCREASE WOULD BE PHASED IN…STARTING WITH NINE DOLLARS AN HOUR IN JANUARY…AND HITTING 15 BUCKS AN HOUR IN 2022. REPRESENTATIVE WILL GUZZARDI OF CHICAGO SAYS THIS IS A BILL ABOUT THE DIGNITY OF WORK.
 
 
CRITICS NOTE THE EXTRA COST TO EMPLOYERS…ESPECIALLY SMALL BUSINESSES. 
REPRESENTATIVE MARK BATINICK OF PLAINFIELD, SAY THE INCREASE WILL HURT EMPLOYERS.
 
 
THE SENATE ALREADY PASSED THE BILL BUT NOW MUST ACCEPT A FEW CHANGES MADE BY THE HOUSE BEFORE IT’S SENT TO THE GOVERNOR’S DESK.

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Weekly Crop Report

CORN AND SOYBEAN PLANTING CONTINUES AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT.
 
THREE DAYS WERE SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK…AND 93 PERCENT OF CORN IS NOW IN THE GROUND SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN STEVE MALISZEWSKI (mal-a-shesky).
 
 
62 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS HAVE BEEN PLANTED AND 38 PERCENT HAVE EMERGED. 
 
 
98 PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED AND THE FIRST CUTTING OF ALFALFA IS NEARLY HALFWAY DONE. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE STANDS AT ONE PERCENT SHORT…74 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 25 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Senate Approves Two-Year Property Tax Freeze

THE ILLINOIS SENATE IS APPROVING A TWO YEAR PROPERTY TAX FREEZE. 
 
THE FREEZE APPLIES TO TAXES COLLECTED FOR SCHOOLS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER HAS BEEN PUSHING FOR AT LEAST A FOUR YEAR FREEZE…BUT SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON SAYS THEY CAN ASSESS HOW SCHOOLS ARE FARING UNDER THIS PROPOSAL AND RE-EVALUATE IT WHEN THE TIME COMES.
 
 
SENATOR CHAPIN ROSE OF CHAMPAIGN AGREES.
 
 
THE LEGISLATION NOW MOVES TO THE HOUSE FOR A VOTE.

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Ag Statistics Starts New Survey Calls

The next round of questions is coming from the Illinois Ag Statistics Office. 
 
State Statistician Mark Schleusener says the latest survey was mailed May 23, but if that isn’t returned you may get a phone call instead.
 
 
Schleusener says soon another round of surveys will take place, as it’s almost time for a new USDA Census of Agriculture.
 
 
Schleusener says along with mailed and phone surveys, his office will also do in-person surveys with as many farmers as time and schedules allow.

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House Considering Senate Budget and Revenue

Managing cuts and revenues are challenges that House Democrats are looking at this week as the spring legislative session comes to an end. 
 
They have a Senate budget proposal to mull over that raises income and other taxes to generate $5 billion and spends $37.3 billion. 
 
House Democrats aren’t sure that the combination of cuts and revenues are the right way to end the states’ two year budget impasse. 

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Clinton YMCA Revamping Camp Osage

A local summer camp promising to return your child "dirty, tired, and hungry", will receive a facelift courtesy of a new camp director.
 
Mike Lovett, the new director of the Clinton YMCA Camp Osage, hopes to bring back the excitement associated with attending summer camp. Every week of camp will have a theme and each day will have a specific structure.
 
 
Lovett indicates that he has trained his camp counselors to be "paid campers." They will interact with the campers as much as possible. Campers can expect a lot of team building and problem solving activities in the first couple weeks of camp.
 
 
Lovett hopes to get parents involved with the camp without them actually being at camp. Lovett indicates that he and his counselors will maintain and frequently update social media pages to keep parents informed. They will also introduce Friday night camp outs.
 
 
Making Camp Osage a place for everyone is a goal that Lovett has for the summer. He hopes to have activities that appeal to everyone so that everyone can enjoy the summer.
 
 
The cost to attend is $30 a day and $130 for a week for members, and $43 or $185 a week for non members with scholarships available. For more information, visit clintoncommymca.org.

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DeWitt Assistance Exchange Program Offers Emergency Financial Assistance

DeWitt Assitance Exchange program is emergency financial assistance that is used for a wide range of things from to keep people from being evicted to helping pay for false teeth.
 
According to Jennifer Tolladay of DOVE, Inc., DAX can be used once every 365 days and will help with nearly any emergency financial need up to 200 dollars.
 
 
Tolladay believes that rumors about the DAX program being cut this year has led to a dramatic decrease in the usage of the program by members in the community.
 
 
Most of the funding for DAX comes from United Way, but it is also supported by churches and members of the community. 
 
To find out more about DAX you can call Jennifer Tolladay at (217) 935-6619 to make an appointment or just stop by the DOVE building.

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Athletic Facilities Focus For Summer Work in Lincoln

The athletic facilities will receive most of the focus of summer maintenance at Lincoln High School.
 
From the baseball field to work on the gym floor, Lincoln High School will do a lot of focusing on their athletic facilities this summer. Superintendent Bob Bagby says the gym floor has been re-sanded and new graphics added. He feels it looks sharp. 
 
 
At the school's baseball facility, the press box and concession stand is being renovated and Bagby indicates there will be significant work done on the field itself during the summer months.
 
 
Bagby indicates, they are in the process of updating their auditorium. Additionally, they plan some updates to the cafeteria and also the AP office. He says they have gotten a good jump on some other target areas as well. 
 
 
Security will be the focus of a smaller project this summer. Bagby says they will add security cameras to the building as he calls this a double-edged sword. 
 
 
Around $400-thousand will be poured into summer projects in Lincoln this summer. Bagby reminds the public, the projects are largely funded thanks to the one-cent sales tax Logan County passed several years ago that go towards facilities and security.
 
He also reminds the public they continue to abate taxes through the tax money. 

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Reward fund grows to $23,000 to find attackers of retired western Illinois farmer

A reward fund has grown to over $23,000 as authorities in Western Illinois continue to seek information on a crime that involved an 83 year old retired farmer beaten and robbed in his home. Mercer County Sheriff Dave Staley says Fred Rooth was attacked sometime before May 8th and left for dead in his rural Joy farmhouse.
 
 
Rooth continues to recover from his injuries. Among the items taken from his home was a residential safe. Information on the crime is being collected through Mercer County Crime Stoppers at 800-582-2762. 

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Brady Honors Fallen Illinois Soldier

On the day the Illinois House of Representatives held its annual ceremony honoring the states fallen soldiers last week, the House also adopted a resolution sponsored by State Representative Dan Brady, of Bloomington, which mourns the death of U.S. Army Ranger Sergeant Joshua P. Rodgers of Bloomington who was killed last month during a raid on an Islamic State compound in eastern Afghanistan.
 
Brady shared several comments about Sergeant Rodgers on the House floor...
 
 
Some of Rodgers' family was able to attend the session in Springfield where the resolution was passed.

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Farmer Converts Barn Into Event Venue

If you have some weddings to attend in June or the rest of the summer, they just might be in a barn. A northwest Illinois farm couple has found opportunity in converting a barn into an event venue. 
 
Ed Livengood and his wife Kali (CAL-ee) took one of their barns in rural Carroll County and now host weddings and other events;
 
 
Kali Livengood says the couple hosted 20 different events in their converted barn last year and this year's calendar looks to be just as busy;
 
 
There are several other barns around Illinois that have been converted to public event venues. You can see a video and find out where online at I-l-f-b-partners-dot-com.

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Automatic Voter Registration Passes House

On Memorial Day the House acted to automatically sign up voters after they do business with a number of state agencies. 
 
The bill passed the House unanimously to allow for the Secretary of State to sign up or renew voter registration when an eligible voter applies for or renews a drivers license, the same will also be done if people interact with the Department of Human Services and Natural Resources. 
 
It was an act of rare bipartisanship, every member of the House and Senate voted in favor of the legislation. State Rep. Robyn Gabel of Evanston says that the process to vote in Illinois just got better.
 
 
Supporters of the bill say it will allow for technology to make elections more secure and efficient. 
 
A citizen can opt out of the automatic registration if they choose. 
 
The bill needs one final procedural vote and then will shortly head to the Governor for his approval or veto. 

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Local Authorities Promoting Holiday Safety

The Memorial Day holiday is a time of great celebration for a number of reasons.
 
With high school and college seniors graduating, school letting out, and the weather turning to summer, the parties and gatherings are certain to be abundant.
 
But as you gather with family and friends for good times, authorities request you keep your neighbors in mind. Additionally, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says be safe during one of the deadliest holidays of the year. 
 
 
Noise complaints annually increase this time of the year for local authorities and Chief Lowers says he is all for the gatherings, but he hopes neighbors will be respectful of each other.
 
 
If you plan to drive for the Memorial Day holiday, as always, Chief Lowers encourages the driver of the vehicle to put the cell phone away. Let a passenger take any phone calls or respond to any text messages. 

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DeWitt County Real Estate Taxes Mailed

DeWitt County Treasurer Gloria Willis has announced the 2016 real estate tax bills in 2017 were mailed by May 26th.  Due dates are July 7, 2017 for the first installment, and September 1, 2017 for the second installment.  Overdue payments will be assessed an interest penalty of 1.5 percent per month after the due dates.
 
Taxes may be paid by mail, at the County Treasurer's office at the Courthouse 8:30a to 4:30p Monday through Friday; in the drop box located at the north end of the parking lot; online at dewittcountyill.com; or at most financial institutions in DeWitt County.
 
If you do not receive a tax bill by June 16, 2017, please call the Treasurer's office at 217-935-7820 to verify your address.

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Warner Hospital and Health Services Prepping for 3D Mammography

3D mammography has been in the works for several months and officials indicate they are close to rolling it out.
 
CEO Paul Skowron indicates the approximate $400-thousand price tag is coming from several areas so the hospital is not having to borrow any money. 
 
 
Skowron says they are doing a lot of work to the mammography area of the facility. He says they've basically gutted the room and started over.
 
 
Skowron says the service will be a full time service and they are already booking patients. He notes the feedback from the community has been positive so far. 

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Congressman Davis To Host Open Office Hours This Week

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis will hold open office hours throughout the district this week. 
 
Davis will meet with constituents individually or in small groups about issues important to them.  Earlier this month, Davis held open office hours in Normal and Champaign meeting with and taking questions from more than 250 constituents.
 
Meetings will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. No appointments are necessary. Due to office space constraints, meetings will be limited to no more than five people at a time. Each meeting will have up to 10 minutes to discuss any issue of their choosing. 
 
Davis will host Springfield Open Office Hours on May 31st from 8:30AM - 10:30AM at the Boys & Girls Club of Central Illinois.
 
Normal Open Office Hours are set for June 1 from 8:30AM – 10:00AM at 104 W. North St., in Normal.
 
Congressman Davis will host Decatur Open Office Hours also on June 1from 2:30PM – 4:00PM at 243 S. Water Street in Decatur.
 
Davis will also host Champaign Open Office Hours June 2 from 1:00PM – 3:00PM at 2004 Fox Drive in Champaign.
 
Constituents may contact Congressman Davis’ Champaign Office at 217-403-4690 with any questions.
 

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EIU Waives Application Fee

An Illinois university is taking aggressive measures to recruit new high school students to its campus.
 
Eastern Illinois University announced Thursday that it will open its application process next week for the fall 2018 semester and waive its $30 application fee for incoming freshman and transfer students until Oct. 2.
 
Josh Norman is the university's associate vice president for enrollment management. He says research indicates the most successful schools are those that act early in the application process. He says public universities in Indiana that implemented the early application process last year saw success.
 
Eastern Illinois University has seen a slide in enrollment over the last nine years, during which its total number of students has dropped from more than 12,000 in 2007 to more than 7,000 in 2016.

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Workforce Numbers Show Small Gains

Lower unemployment numbers might not mean what you think. That’s the message from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Overall unemployment numbers are down in the state but those numbers don’t just indicate that more people are getting jobs says IDES’s Bob Gough. 
 
 
So in other words the workforce is shrinking. Five parts of the state saw improvement in jobs numbers and 11 lost jobs. Things are still tough for job seekers in the more industrial areas of Illinois including Rockford. 

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PERDUE NOT IN AGREEMENT WITH TRUMP USDA BUDGET

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue does not agree with the White House on some key spending cuts in the president’s so far, unpopular USDA budget request.  Those differences quickly became apparent at a House Appropriations hearing. Perdue faced a barrage of budget criticism from Democrats and Republicans on everything from cutting food stamps to eliminating international hunger programs and paring crop insurance. But that was expected at his first hearing before House Ag appropriators.
 
What wasn’t, were some of the Secretary’s responses, even as he insisted, he was representing the administration’s budget request. Connecticut’s Rosa DeLauro asked Perdue if he stood by his earlier statement defending SNAP, even as the White House proposed cutting food stamps almost 200-billion over 10-years by shifting costs to the states and tightening eligibility requirements…
 
 
Perdue insists FY ’18 SNAP is “fully funded,” while the White House proposes legislation to shift some costs to the states in later years. On ending the taxpayer-funded Food for Peace Program that buys U.S.-produced food to donate overseas, and make cash donations instead, an idea Chairman Robert Aderholt complained, makes no sense and went nowhere when the Obama White House proposed it…
 
 
On urging the White House to get behind efforts to end the Cuba trade embargo…
 
 
Perdue did stand by the White House on cuts to rural housing, infrastructure, agency staffing and a ten-year, 29-billion dollar cut in producer crop insurance subsidies…
 
But even in disagreeing, Perdue was agreeable, reflecting his long political experience as a governor and state lawmaker in softening disputes, diffusing controversy, and perhaps helping a controversial president advance a very tough proposition. That proposition would be shrinking the federal government.

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Grant Funds New CAC Reading Nook

A grant was awarded to the Children's Advocacy Center recently.
 
According to Director of the CAC, Judy Brucker, the grant was announced at a state-wide level to be given to rural CACs for the express purpose of creating a reading area. Due to the donation and the creativity of the staff, the new Reading Nook will serve as a special and comfortable place for the kids to spend time before an appointment.
 
 
The goal for the nook is to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the CAC for the kids.
 
 
The Reading Nook has already been completed and is in use.
 
 
The CAC is always available to help children and families when there are allegations of sexual and physical abuse of a child. To report suspected abuse call their hotline at 1-800-252-2873.

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DCDC President Steps Down; New Board Seated

DeWitt County Development Council (DCDC) accepted the resignation of long-time board president Kevin Myers during Tuesday’s executive board meeting, ending more than 10 years of valued service.
 
Myers first became involved in DeWitt County economic efforts in 2006 on a steering committee of local business leaders. He eventually took the reins of what would become the current DCDC organization in 2007. Since that time, Myers has been a driving force to help shape the county’s economic outlook.
 
Myers chose to retire, in an effort to focus more on his role as managing principal of Chastain & Associates, an engineering firm based in Decatur. Despite his departure, Myers said he will be an active participant for economic growth in the county.
 
Additionally, a new officer team was elected during the DCDC annual meeting. Scott Baum, president, Baum Chevrolet Buick, was elected vice president. Marian Brisard, executive director, Clinton Chamber of Commerce, maintained her role as secretary. Lance White, vice president State Bank of Lincoln, was elected treasurer. 
 
DCDC also welcomed two new board members during the meeting: Jay Peterson of Peterson Insurance Services, Inc., and Josh Shofner, vice president, First National Bank. 
 
Kevin Myers, right, accepts a plaque recognizing his years of service as president of DeWitt County Development Council. Presenting the plaque is Curt Homann, who takes over as DCDC president.
 
 
 

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CEA Spring Breakfast Awards

As the end of the school year comes to a close, so too comes the opportunity to award not only students, but teachers that have worked their hardest in Clinton Unit District #15.
 
This past Friday morning was the newly minted CEA Spring Breakfast that combined the honoring of CEA Scholarship Recipients, Service Awards, Teacher of the Year, The Illinois State Board of Education "Those Who Excel" nominees, and those retiring after serving many years in the public school system.
 
CEA Scholarships were awareded to Greg Aughenbaugh, Quinnie Calvert, Wesley Conn, Riley Donelson, Isaac Fabris, Aaron Gamsby, Noah Griffin, J.T. Harrold, Maggie Inman, Deborah Lindquist, Levi Nettles, Allison Oswald, Lexi Peterson, Julia Sterr, Landon Wargel, and Tori Wilson. The scholarships were possible through CEA Fundraisers.
 
Service Awards were given according to years served.  For 20 years: Katherine Ferguson, Debbie Howry, Kisha Maurer, Lauri Torbert, and Johnny Wise. For 25 years: Ray Kartcher, Charlotte Holland, and Sheila Wayne. And 30 years: Celeste Flanagan, Dorothy Harrold, Kris Hoke, Dean Karr, Annette McMath, and Debi Patrick.
 
Teacher of the Year was awarded to Tanya Donelson.
 
Among those retiring are Mary Diener, Principle of CES, and Kay Werts, CHS Physical Education teacher, both of whom graduated from CHS.

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IDOT Announces Holiday Road Closures

The Illinois Department of Transportation  has announced that lanes will be reopened where possible over the Memorial Day weekend to expedite travel during the holiday period. All non-emergency construction will be suspended until Tuesday, May 30th.
 
The following lane closures in the area remain in place during the holiday weekend. 
 
IN DEWITT COUNTY:
 
    Interstate 74 at Salt Creek, between the Mansfield and Farmer City exits; lane reductions in both directions with barrier wall in place.
 
IN CHAMPAIGN COUNTY:
 
    Interstate 74 at Illinois 47; lane reductions in both directions with barrier wall in place.
 
IN MCLEAN COUNTY:
 
    > Interstate 74 between the Farmer City and Le Roy exits; lane reductions in both directions for approximately five miles.
   > Veterans Parkway, from east of Greenwood Avenue to west of Commerce Parkway, on the south side of Bloomington; traffic is reduced to one lane in both directions.
   > Oakland Avenue at Interstate 55/74; road is closed.
 
IN MACON COUNTY:
 
    > U.S. 51 Bypass, southwest of Decatur; one lane is open in both directions, with median crossovers in place.
 
 
Work zone speed limits remain in effect, where posted.   Officials remind motorists to buckle up, eliminate distractions and drive safely this holiday weekend.
 
 

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State policy expert: Progress being made on some key budget issues

There remains hope in some circles that state lawmakers and the governor can reach a deal on a full operating budget by the May 31st adjournment date. Jak Tichenor at Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute says progress has been made on some key issues.
 
And Tichenor says there’s been some back and forth on the pension reform item.
 
 
The state’s unpaid bills now total over 14.4 billion dollars and the state has not had a full fiscal year operating budget for two years. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

With May almost over, temperatures have been below normal with rainfall widespread. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more...
 

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Mosquito Season Is Here

Headed outside this weekend? 
 
With all the wet weather in places the Illinois Department of Public Health wants you to prevent mosquito bites. Melaney Arnold says that recent rains have produced some ideal conditions to breed the irritating insect. 
 
To avoid the annoying bites and possible illnesses that go along with them take steps to keep bite free. 
 
 
A few other tips, wear long sleeves and pants and spend less time out around dawn and dusk. 

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Threatening Weather Possible This Weekend

Being a holiday weekend, central Illinois residents are likely to be out and enjoying what should be very nice weather.
 
However, there is the chance of some pop-up threatening weather and National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Miller reminds anyone planning to be outside, be aware of what the weather might bring for the day.
 
 
With a predominantly wet and cool spring to this point, time outside has not been prominent. Miller explains if a storm is to pop up this weekend, get inside. He says just because you might be on a porch with an overhang or in a garage, that does not keep you from getting struck by lighting.
 
 
Miller says if you are out somewhere without shelter, he says the best place to get for safety is your vehicle and to wait to get out and resume what you are doing until after the storm passes.
 
 
Miller says a lightning bolt that is within five miles could be a threat especially if a particular system is moving quickly. He notes it is even more dangerous if you're out in an open area. 
 
He reminds those planning to be outside, lightning tends to strike the tallest object around. 

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DNR Promoting Safety on Waters This Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kick off to the summer boating season for many and local authorities are promoting safety on the water.
 
Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officer John Williamson indicates they are focusing on life jackets again this summer. He says there should be a life jacket for each person on board and all passengers under the age of 12 are required to wear one.
 
 
If this weekend is going to be the first time you'll have the boat out on the water, Williamson notes a quick check of the boat's engine and life jackets that are on board is a good idea. He says rotted life jackets or ones with holes are not safe.
 
 
Authorities recommend if you're going to drink on the lake, bring a designated driver. Williamson notes alcohol consumption and operating a boat do not mix. He says there are just too many scenarios where having an impaired operator puts everyone on board at risk. 
 
 
DNR officials say they anticipate a big crowd on Clinton Lake, especially with warmer weather expected for the holiday weekend. 
 
Williamson encourages everyone to slow down, especially around other boaters, and get to your destination and home from your destination safely. 

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Click It Or Ticket This Weekend

The Memorial Day Weekend gets underway today and Illinois Transportation officials, the State Police and local police agencies are teaming up to enforce the state's seat belt law. Former State Representative turned IDOT Assistant Secretary Rich Brauer was sold on the effectiveness of seat belts in his younger days. He credits being buckled up with likely saving his life in an early 1970s car crash in Menard County....
 
 
Through Memorial Day, motorists can expect to see increased patrols and enforcement zones statewide as part of IDOT’s “Click It or Ticket” mobilization. 

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ISP Investigating Fatal Car vs. Train Accident

Officials with the Illinois State Police are currently investigating a car versus train crash that occurred approximately three miles west of Macomb off of U.S. Highway 136 at approximately 11:03 a.m Thursday.  The preliminary investigation indicates that a car was on a private drive crossing railroad tracks when the car was struck by an Amtrak Train.  The driver, and lone occupant of the car, is confirmed deceased.  The Amtrak train had 20 passengers and four employees on board.  One passenger on the train was transported to an area hospital with an injury that is not life-threatening.  There is no additional information available at this time.  

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Medical Cannabis as a Pain Reliever

Medical marijuana has been highly debated within and outside of the medical community for several decades.
 
The side effects of cannibis are not as intense as side effects of other medications being prescribed to patients according to Bret Bender of the Maribis of Springfield dispensary. Effects that cannabis tends to have on people are mild and include hunger, dry mouth, distractedness, and increased blood flow and additional release of dopamine and endorphins causing "giggliness." 
 
 
Cannabis has been repeatedly referred to as a "gateway drug," but that doesn't seem to be the case. Bender adds that most people on cannabis tend to stay on it and the real danger is from other habit forming drugs such as opiates.
 
 
While there are some doctors that are firmly against prescribing medical cannabis, Bender says that doctors in the area are starting to be more open to the practice.

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Officials: Starved Rock visitors should be patient, cautious

Illinois officials say Memorial Day visitors to Starved Rock State Park should monitor social media for reports on traffic delays and parking closures.
 
Department of Natural Resources officials say large crowds are expected at the recreation area near Utica in LaSalle County.
 
Illinois River flooding closed some parking this spring. But officials say all lots should be open for Memorial Day weekend.
 
Rafael Gutierrez is chief of the state agency's office of law enforcement. He says motorists should be patient and follow directions from conservation police and park staff around Starved Rock this weekend.
 
Police will enforce Starved Rock rules. They include no alcohol anywhere in the park until June 1; no off-trail hiking or trail-walking after dark; no rock- or cliff-climbing; no swimming; no defacing sandstone walls or littering.

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Sheriff's Office Investigating Stolen Veteran Flag Holders in Waynesville

The DeWitt County Sheriff's Office is seeking information in the theft of about 25 veteran flag holders from last weekend.
 
Sheriff Jered Shofner explains the holders were stolen shortly before the Memorial Day ceremony that was held at the Waynesville cemetery. He says they are seeking any information about the thefts.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner says it's a despicable crime and wants to hold the person responsible accountable.
 
 
If you have any information on this crime, contact Clinton Crimestoppers at 217-935-3333. 
 
Sheriff Shofner reminds the public Crimestoppers phone line is anonymous and does not utilize caller identification. Crimestoppers wants your information, not your name.

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Warner Hospital and Health Services Reports Banner Financial Year

The new fiscal year is just underway for Warner Hospital and Health Services and Monday night at the Hospital Board meeting, the Board was informed of the record breaking year at the City owned facility.
 
CEO Paul Skowron indicates the cash reserves are over $9-million after they wrapped up their fiscal year at the end of April. He notes they were $2.2-million in the black.
 
 
Skowron explains they are going to be conservative with the $9-million in their reserves, the primary reason being the State of Illinois' fiscal mess.
 
 
Finishing in the black can be attributed to adding a local physician to their team. Skowron says that was a great contributor to their bottom line.
 
 
Skowron says Fiscal Year '18 should be another positive year again. He points to their addition of 3D mammography later this summer and then the addition of a pulmonary specialist they plan to add as well. 

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Spring Rains Resulting in Nitrogen Loss

Heavy rains in the southern half of the state have farmers dealing with nitrogen loss. Tim Laatsch works for Growmark.
 
 
And Laatsch says the soil sample will determine a farmer’s best course of action.
 
 
Laatsch farms near Altamont in Effingham County. He says his area of the state has seen rain in “the teens” this spring. 

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Right To Know Act Awaits Action in House

The Illinois Senate recently passed the Right to Know Act, which is designed to protect the online privacy of Illinoisans while promoting online transparency. 
 
Senator Michael Hastings says the most personal of information is at stake, and it's a highly prized asset.
 
 
Online companies would have to reveal what they're sharing under the act. Proponents say online personal info has been used to determine insurance rates and verify loans. The bill is being considered in committee in the Illinois House.

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Former Macon County Board Chair, Congressional Candidate Arrested

A number of Democrats have expressed interest in running against Congressman Rodney Davis next year in the 13th Congressional District. 
 
The man who represented Dems last year might be hard pressed to get a rematch with Davis. 
 
Former Macon County Board member Mark Wicklund is charged with DUI and hitting a police officer at Decatur Memorial Hospital, where he was being treated after a rollover crash last month. 
 
Wicklund is free on $10,000 bond.

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Lawmakers Debate College Admissions Bill

Legislation being debated in Springfield that would require Illinois public universities to admit first-time freshman applicants that finish with a grade-point average in the top ten percent of their high school graduating class. 
 
State Representative Norine Hammond of Macomb has Western Illinois University in her district. She voted against the measure. 
 
 
The bill was turned down in the Illinois House, but did receive enough votes for the sponsor to utilize a parliamentary procedure called “postponed consideration” meaning the legislation can be considered again.

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Farmer, Lawmaker Supports Industrial Hemp

A Henry County farmer who also serves in the Illinois General Assembly supports industrial hemp as an alternative crop. 
 
The measure would allow a farmer to get licensed with the Department of Agriculture to plant and harvest industrial hemp. State Representative Dan Swanson farms near Alpha, he says the plant has a short growing season, grows to 15 feet tall, needs little maintenance and starves out other weeds.
 
 
He says a neighboring state already allows farmers to grow industrial hemp.
 
 
A bill awaits a House committee vote following unanimous Senate approval. 
 
Swanson says industrial hemp would also give farmers an additional revenue stream to help offset current weak corn and soybean prices.

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Medical Cannabis Consulting Company Coming To Clinton

You'll soon be able to consult with healthcare professionals about medical cannabis in Clinton.
 
That's because Medical Cannabis Outreach is coming to the square in the former DCDC office. Owner and CEO Eric Sweatt explains they will sit down and pre-screen someone interested in getting into the Illinois medical cannabis program. He says they have a high rate of success because they know the Illinois laws.
 
 
The Medical Cannabis Outreach office in Clinton is the latest location in central Illinois. Sweatt explains they recommend patients see their doctors before they come to them. They want doctors to be on board.
 
 
Sweatt emphasizes they are not selling medical cannabis in Clinton. He says it simply a way for someone to get additional assistance getting on the Illinois program.
 
 
The first appointment date for Medical Cannabis Outreach in Clinton is set for Thursday, July 27.
 
To make an appointment and get more information, contact them by phone at 309-338-8900 or visit medicalcannabisoutreach.com. 

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Habitat For Humanity Target For Building Trades Partnership in Clinton

If a new program at Clinton High School is going to get off the ground, it seems a partnership with a local construction group is likely. 
 
Habitat For Humanity of DeWitt County could be instrumental in getting a building trades program going at Clinton High School. Superintendent Curt Nettles says it appears there is the makings for a great relationship between the two.
 
 
One thing that makes the two great partners is the fact Clinton High School has plots available and Habitat is in need of space to build. Given the fact Habitat is a natural fit for what the program hopes to accomplish, he sees great things ahead for the two. 
 
 
Early on, the program would be small but it would build up as the partnership grows. Nettles says there is still a lot of planning to be done but things seem to be very promising.
 
 
Nettles notes there are lots of great building trade programs in the area to model after but he comes back most often to the program at Lincoln High School. 

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Allerton Park's Summer Concert Series Gaining Traction Entering 2017

The Summer Concert Series at Allerton Park in Monticello has been a huge success and continues to gain traction as they enter their 2017 season.
 
Derek Peterson says the lineup for this year is another good one with plenty of food and drinks to go along with their variety of genres. The Friday concerts get going in June. 
 
 
Peterson explains they have really committed to the first Fridays of each month for the concerts and says because of that, people block those out on their schedule so they can attend. He attributes that to a large portion of the success they've had.
 
 
Looking ahead, Peterson sees the park being able to balance continuing to have local flavors but then adding a national act or two at different points during the year.
 
 
For a full list of concerts and activities happening at Allerton Park, visit allerton.illinois.edu or visit them on Facebook and Twitter or call 217-333-3287. If you are at the park, stop in to their visitors center and pick up a hard copy of their schedule. 

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Senate Democrats Pass Budget, Rauner To Veto

Senate President John Cullerton appears to have given up for his quest for a Grand Bargain budget deal with Republicans. 
 
Democrats went their own way, approving a $37.3 billion spending plan that features a $5.4 billion tax increase. The additional revenue would come from boosting the personal income tax to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate to 7 percent. Sales tax would be added to a number of services. 
 
Governor Rauner says he'll fight the budget plan because it lacks a long term property tax freeze.
 
 
No Republicans voted for the budget bills Tuesday. 

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Sen. Rose Blasts Democrats Passage of Budget Bills

State Senator Chapin Rose is blasting his coleagues in the Senate for pushing bills through before they were ready.
 
The Senator anticipated good faith talks Tuesday and then came to Springfield to find bills with plenty of mistakes.
 
 
Senator Rose also blasted the tax hike that passed the Senate Chambers yesterday.
 
 
Rose was critical of his coleagues for not addressing workers compensation. He says the implication it has nothing to do with the budget is false. 

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Sen. Weaver Speaks Out On Income Tax Hike

A downstate lawmaker speaking out against legislation that raises the state income tax. 
 
The State Senate approved Senate Bill 9 on Tuesday by a 32 to 26 vote. State Senator Chuck Weaver of Peoria opposed. 
 
 
Senate Bill 9 increases the individual income tax rate to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent and the corporate income tax rate will increase to 7-percent from 5.25 percent. 
 
The legislation also imposes a 6.25-percent tax on tattooing and body piercing and new taxes of 6-percent on satellite and streaming services. 
 

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Illinois Crop Protection Industry Heard in Washington

Illinois’ crop protection industry has a voice in Washington. 
 
It’s through the group CropLife America where Missouri native Kelly Bray serves as senior director of governmental affairs.
 
 
Bray says the organization has just launched a new campaign—called “Give a Crop”.
 
 
You can learn more about the campaign at “giveacrop.org” Bray says the site also features a popular section called myth vs. fact--comparing conventionally grown food to organically grown food. 

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Durbin Weighs in On FBI Choice

Senator Dick Durbin isn't looking for a political bedfellow to head up the FBI after the firing of James Comey. 
 
Durbin isn't offering names or endorsements, but he is looking for a true independent streak.
 
 
Durbin was a guest on MSNBC.

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Corn Crop Lags in Health Ratings

The state’s farmers are making progress on planting corn and soybeans. 
 
The United States Department of Agriculture says that 89 percent of the corn crop is planted and 48 percent of the soybean crop is in. Those numbers are close to average. Overall the health of the corn crop isn’t good as last year. USDA’s Mark Schleusener…
 
 
Cool and wet weather is blamed for lagging crop health. 

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County Looking At Comprehensive Plan

It's something that has been needed in DeWitt County for almost a quarter-century, and it is finally getting addressed.
 
The comprehensive plan for the County is long over due and while there's been a few attempts at an update, DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg says it time to the County direction.
 
 
Newberg explains a comprehensive plan can be a very important resource for an entity. He says it gives potential businesses an idea of what a community has planned and a lot changes in 25 years.
 
 
For Newberg, things like schools, businesses, and services need to be addressed in the comprehensive plan. He indicates the Land Use committee will oversee the assembly of the plan.
 
 
There will be public input opportunities as a part of the planning sessions. Newberg indicates those will be announced as the process moves along but emphasizes the Board is very serious about getting this put together. 

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Clinton Schools To Investigate More Teachers

Clinton school leaders will investigate the possibility of more teachers in classrooms but their leaders says Clinton Schools are already in good shape and it may cost  them financially.
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles says Clinton Schools are in a very good position with the number of students in a classroom, however, he will assemble his administration team and look into it.
 
 
Nettles warns against the suggestion of dipping into reserves. He says when you dip into reserves too much, your reserves aren't reserves anymore. He also cautions getting too wrapped up in the fact the power plant will continue to be an asset in the community.
 
 
Nettles also points outs classroom sizes in Clinton are very favorable. When area schools could have classroom sizes regularly in the 30s, he indicates he feels fortunate to have classroom sizes that average 20 students. 
 
 
Nettles cautioned the board last Wednesday, getting so close to the start of a new school year, it would be difficult implement any findings. 

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DeWitt County TRIAD Talks Scams

Tax day may be in the rear view mirror but that doesn't mean scams are as a local group aimed at protecting the community's seniors tells us.
 
Pam Schwartz with the DeWitt County TRIAD says the IRS scam continues to be the top scam they hear about through their fraud abuse hotline.
 
 
The most common scam, and perhaps one of the most well known, is called 'the grandchild scam'. Schwartz indicates the person on the other end of the line will deliver bad news about a grandchild, or even pose like the grandchild, to a senior and will gradually get more and more information from the senior voluntarily.
 
 
The other popular scam right now is the Publisher's Clearing House scam. Schwartz indicates Publisher's Clearing House never calls, they only show up at your door by surprise. 
 
 
Schwartz says the best way to deal with scam calls is to just hang up. 
 
If you do find yourself in a sticky situation, contact the DeWitt County Sheriff's office at 217-935-9507. You'll talk with Schwartz and she will get the information and get you in touch with a detective who will help you through it. 

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Weekly Crop Report

DESPITE ALL THE RECENT RAIN, CORN PLANTING IN ILLINOIS IS ABOUT ON PACE WITH PREVIOUS YEARS. 
 
FOUR DAYS WERE SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK…AND SOME PRODUCERS HAD TO REPLANT FLOODED FIELDS SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
48 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS HAVE BEEN PLANTED AND 18 PERCENT HAVE EMERGED. 
 
 
23 PERCENT OF SORGHUM HAS BEEN PLANTED AND 94 PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP HAS HEADED. 44 PERCENT OF THE WHEAT CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE NOW STANDS AT ONE PERCENT SHORT…64 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 35 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Purple Heart Returned To Family

A long lost war medal has been returned to a family that didn’t know their father left it behind. It’s the work of the Illinois Treasure’s unclaimed property division. 
 
The story begins with an abandoned safety deposit box and a purple heart inside. It belonged to a Peoria area decorated war veteran Edward Dunn, but it was a medal that Constance Barr said never knew he father had been awarded for his service in World War II. 
 
So needless to say she was taken aback once she believed that the person she was talking to on the phone was really from the Treasurer’s office.
 
 
Barr says that she knew her late father had served but he didn’t offer up the whole story to his family and now she wishes she could talk to him about it. 
 
 
The medal had been unclaimed since 1993. Barr says that everyone should check the I Cash website and see if anything is destined to be returned. The office currently has more than 100 unclaimed medals. 

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Blagojevhich Turns To Appeals Court

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich makes another bid for early release. 
 
His attorneys are seeking another hearing before the same three-judge panel that chose to keep his 14-year prison term intact last month. 
 
The three judge panel overturned five of Blagojevich's original 18 criminal convictions two years ago but Judge James Zagel refused to reduce his prison term. 
 
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to hear Blagojevich's case. 
Blagojevich's last hope could be his former boss, as in television boss, former Apprentice Host, President Donald Trump.

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Governor Appoints New Leader For Intersect Illinois Agency

The state’s non-profit job creation group, Intersect Illinois has a new leader. 
 
Governor Bruce Rauner announced Mark Peterson as the CEO. Peterson worked in job development and recruitment in Rochester New York. The Governor says that Intersect has helped secure 11,000 new jobs to be created in the state. 
 
Peterson says focus will be placed on finding employers of all sizes but cultivating start up culture and helping small businesses grow is among the most important thing they can do. 
 
 
The former CEO of Intersect Illinois Jim Schultz will be staying on as a board member of the organization. 

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Ag Policy Expert Receives Input on New Farm Bill

What’s working in the current Farm Bill and what’s needed in the new one? 
 
Those questions being answered by University of Illinois ag policy expert Jonathan Coppess.
 
 
Coppess has been receiving input on the issue from farmers across the state and met with the Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors last week in Bloomington. 
 
 
And Coppess says low commodity prices have also been a dominant part of the discussion. The deadline for ushering in a new Farm Bill is September 2018. 

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Slight Changes Possible To CHS CEO Program

The foundation is still laid for a business course with great potential to come to Clinton schools, however, the details of such a program could be adjusted soon.
 
Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles says he still believes in the program but he and his colleague, Dr. Vic Zimmerman at Monticello, are going to reach out to other potential districts in the DeWitt and Piatt County areas and see who else might be interested in the opportunity.
 
 
Nettles indicates this could delay the implementation of the program but feels it needs to be done right rather than rushed.
 
 
According to Nettles, the program still remains very much on the table for Clinton schools, but geography of the partnerships created will play a big role in what it looks like moving forward. 

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Homestead Awarded Grant to Preserve Photos

The CH Moore Homestead was recently awarded a grant from the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation.
 
The $2,000 will be used for a photograph preservation project that Joey Woolridge says they've wanted to impliment for quite a while.
 
 
She adds that the Bloomington based foundation is there to help non-profit organizations like the Homestead with funding such as the grant they received.
 
 
This money will help stabilize photographs of DeWitt County history so that the generations to come can view and enjoy these snapshots of the past.
 
 
Woolridge hopes to have the preservation project up and running by the end of the summer.

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Warner Library Summer Reading Clubs Bound to Entertain

The Warner Library's Summer Reading Club is about to start up for this year. There will be three different clubs divided up by age. The youngest for 3-5 year olds called The Bee Team, the K through Junior High reading club and the Teen and Adult club.
 
Wonderful Wednesday will bring different programs for children to participate in according to Paula Lopatic. 
 
 
Professional entertainers will are also on deck including Rockin' Rob, Silly Safari's, a ventriloquist, and Mermaid Chelsea.
 
 
Registration begins today and goes through the summer. If you'd like to register you can visit, call 935-5174, or check out their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Southeast Illinois Farmer Says Industry Needs To Speak Up

A south-eastern Illinois farmer hopes key decision makers are hearing from his industry. 
 
Dennis Green farms outside of Lawrenceville—near the Indiana border. He says it’s important for his colleagues to speak up, especially to state and federal lawmakers.
 
 
And Green says farmers also need to listen and learn from other farmers on various practices, like no-till. Steve Stallman of Chester knows about that. 
 
 
Stallman has received almost a foot of rain in his area of the state, but still has 85-percent of his corn planting complete. 

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Freshman Lawmaker Blasts Agency Over Costly Memberships

A Quad City area state lawmaker criticizing costly memberships within the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology. 
 
State Representative Mike Halpin says the agency’s consulting memberships have already cost taxpayers $208,000. He says the Governor needs to take a stand as well. 
 
 
Halpin says in April, the memberships made headlines when $71 million was transferred by then Comptroller Leslie Munger out of the General Revenue Fund and deposited into various other funds, some of which went to pay for the agency’s memberships. Halpin was just elected last November. 

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Commodity Markets Concern Illinois Farmers

Shaky commodity markets continue to be on the minds of some Illinois farmers as spring planting marches on in many parts of the state. The weak markets concern McHenry County farmer Michelle Aavang (AY-vayng – end rhymes with fang). 
 
 
The northern Illinois farmer has been watching new farm bill discussions and debate closely. But, she says there’s still a long way to go in developing what could serve as a farm safety net for her and other farmers beyond next year. 
 
 
Aavang represents DeKalb, Kane, Lake and McHenry Counties on the Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors. She, her husband and son raise crops and livestock near the northern Illinois town of Woodstock.

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Ag Groups Concerned About NAFTA Renegotiations

The Trump administration has officially notified Congress it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. 
 
Agriculture groups have reacted to the news with caution. The National Pork Producers Council is urging the president to make sure that tariffs remain at zero for pork traded throughout North America. Tariff-free access to Canada and Mexico last year were worth $799 million and $1.4 billion respectively. “Canada and Mexico are our top export markets,” says NPPC President Ken Maschoff, “and we absolutely must not have any trade disruptions.” U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers are also hoping for caution in the upcoming negotiations. 
 
While the groups welcome the chance to improve the agreement, they oppose changes that would limit benefits to wheat growers, especially in the Mexican food processing industries. American wheat imports began surging in Mexico after NAFTA, and Mexico is now the largest buyer of American wheat. “I cannot emphasize how important our Mexican customers are to U.S. wheat farmers,” says Jason Scott, USW chair. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is also urging the administration not to jeopardize gains made in NAFTA. The National Farmers Union says the negotiations are a chance to make NAFTA work better for family farmers and ranchers across the country.

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Ag Sect. Perdue Talks Locks Funding

Uncertainty remains on long-awaiting funding for locks modernization on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, reflected in testimony this week by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. Perdue hedged this week on whether he’d press for funding for new 12-hundred foot locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, key for Midwest grain producers.
 
The Secretary’s comments added new uncertainty to the fate of seven new locks on the rivers, authorized 10-years ago in the 2007 WRRDA bill, dashing optimism raised early in the Trump Administration that a leaked unofficial list may have included inland waterways projects.  Illinois Democrat Cheri Bustos at this week’s Perdue hearing…tape
 
Which the Obama Administration didn’t do and which Bustos is now asking Perdue to press for in any Trump infrastructure plan. But the Secretary would not commit…tape
 
 
Apparently referring to the timing and planning of construction. But Midwest lawmakers have been pursuing new locks for decades and Bustos reminded Perdue the locks in her northwestern Illinois district were built in the 1930s. She invited Perdue to come to her district and look for himself, at the ancient locks. Perdue visited a grain barge loading facility last week in Ohio.

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Clinton School District Sees Lunch Prices Increase

The Clinton Community Unit School District 15 will raise their breakfast and lunch prices next school year in accordance with federal guidelines.
 
Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles explains the decision to increase lunch and breakfast prices were to meet federal guidelines. Approximately half of the students in the district qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. The federal government wants school districts to use their own funds and then they will reimburse the districts for their lunch program.
 
Lunches will increase from $1.75 to $2.00 for kindergarten through eighth grade, $2.00 to $2.25 for high school, and breakfast will increase from $1.25 to $1.50.

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Heroes vs. Villains the Theme of VWPL Adult Summer Reading Club

The Warner Library has three different Summer Reading Clubs that you can register for starting Monday the 22nd.
 
The theme of the Adult Summer Reading Club is Heroes vs. Villains according to Bobbi Perryman. As you read, you'll choose a side and vote for your favorite heroes or villains from literature.
 
 
Every book, e-book, or audio book you read counts toward getting your name into the drawing for an as yet unannounced grand prize.
 
Though registration starts on Monday the 22nd, you can sign up until the program ends.

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Richland Hosting Summer College Readiness Math Program

Richland Community College is hosting a summer college readiness math program in partnership with Workforce Investment Solutions and the Education Coalition of Macon County.
 
Karen Lockhart with the Richland Math Enrichment Center indicates that the College Readiness Math Plus program is designed to help students with math courses in college. Students also have an opportunity to earn an internship at the end of the program.
 
During the five week program, students can expect to learn about career readiness as well as getting help with their math skills. Lockhart says the students will explore the Richland campus and will learn about the different degree options available at Richland.
 
Richland works with area school guidance offices who can refer students to the program. Interested students or parents of interested students can contact Karen Lockhart at 217-875-7211 ext. 6383 or visit www.richland.edu for more information.
 

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U of I Extension Offering Jr Master Gardener Summer Program

The University of Illinois Extension is offering a Junior Master Gardener Summer program for students 8 years and above.
 
DeWitt County Extension Master Gardener Candace Miller indicates that the program begins June 6 and will feature a multitude of gardening topics to get kids interested in gardening.
 
The program will focus on vegetable garden aspect. Students will be able to plant vegetables in a garden and will learn how to harvest the crop. Miller says students involved in the program will also learn recipes to use their produce that they grew. 
 
 
The program will start June 6 and run every other week from 10am to noon. Students can register online on the DeWitt County University of Illinois Extension office website. The cost to attend is three dollars per session.

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DeWitt County Officials Skeptical of Energy Efficiency Proposal

For almost two months, the DeWitt County Board has heard from a company to come in and make energy improvements to the County's facilities. 
 
After Thursday night's DeWitt County Board meeting, it is apparent there are more unanswered questions than answered questions. Lance Reece, who is a part of the Property Committee, says a presentation from Smart Watt left him with more questions than answers.
 
 
County Board Chair David Newberg says they've been considering the partnership with the company for six weeks but he does not feel rushed to make a decision. He says he wants to make the right decisions.
 
 
Board members questioned how the payments to Smart Watt would work. Ferguson explains this company would allow the County Board to borrow money from them to pay for the work. Reece says the company then makes money through marking up the bidders quotes.
 
 
According to Reece, there could maintenance that would not be covered by the contract. He indicates new units such as air conditioning may not be covered under what Smart Watt does.
 
 
The Board ultimately decided to send the proposal back to the Property Committee for further investigation. 

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Clinton Board of Education Establishes Athletic Committee

It's not the teachers. It's the Board. It's not the students. It's the sports.
 
That is what several School Board members say they hear about the most when they encounter community members and that is why they approved a new athletics committee Wednesday night at the Board of Education meeting.
 
Board President Mike Walker says the committee would work with the Superintendent, administrators and athletic director and would correspond with the athletic booster club.
 
 
Walker feels this would be a good committee to have in place. He explains there is not a lot of communication between the board of education and the athletic booster board. 
 
 
Board member Dan Matthews says the committee would also be in place to set good hiring and evaluation practices and not do something different each time a position opens up.
 
 
Matthews emphasizes the committee would not be involved in making the coaching decisions. He notes it would be in place to set the policy for those actions. 
 
Matthews and Walker will be on the committee. 

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Clinton Youth Initiative Summer Garden Work Already

The Clinton Youth Initiative's program's annual summer garden at Alexander and Jefferson Streets has been planted.
 
It's part of the yearly work of the program which gives Clinton High School students work opportunities and then a chance at a college education. Susan Cooper indicates the students get a salary and work around 30 hours per week.
 
 
The Clinton Youth Initiative garden is probably the most visible sign of the program. Cooper says they just recently got their plants in the ground and says the students will periodically work at the site during the summer months.
 
 
There have been isolated instances of the public stealing from the garden and Ginny Carter asks the community to be respectful of the work that is done by the students. 
 
 
The program employs about a dozen students and the leaders indicate they try to keep a balance of equal freshman to seniors so when the seniors graduate they do not have a big void to fill.
 
To get more information, high schoolers can find Carter at the high school or parents can inquire to the high school guidance office. 

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Champaign area start-up aims to keep top ag talent in Illinois

The ag industry remains focused on hiring and retaining top talent. That’s the mission of Champaign based Agrible, Inc. They’re home to agronomists, scientists and developers—who work for the grower in the field says the company’s Cynthia Bruno.
 
 
Luke Zwilling has been with the start-up since the beginning and says their location provides a great advantage.
 
The company opened in 2012 and now features a staff of 53 employees.
 

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CHS 2017 Gold Star Winners

Freshmen
 
Laura Benton
Ty Brennan
Tori Burke
Cody Burton
Krayton Carter
Theodore Cox Jr.
Braden Cross Mariah Crutchfield
Jackson Dempsey
Olivia Earl
Raven Ettien
Sarah Fabris
Kayla Friesland
Darcy Green
Ian Hale
Briauna Hemphill
Mason Holt
Bethany Hospelhorn
Corrie Ijams
McKayla Kaufman
Ella Korneman
Trevor Lang
Elizabeth Maier
Claire Maxwell
Haley McKinsey
Jodi Michael
Kara Montgomery
Alec Newman
Sarah Ocampo
Michael Oswald
Jacob Phillips
Joseph Polen
Brett Reeves
Natalie Rhodes
Jaydlynn Rich
Hayleigh Robbins
Destiny Schlesinger
Aryn Scott
Max Stauffer
Kayla Sterr
Sean Svendsen
Loni Taylor
Alexis Trimble
Jasmyne Trummel
Payne Turney
Emily Wade
Dominick Walker
Garrett Wayne
Koleton Weiss
Clayton Welch
Skyler Williamson
Jacob Wolfe
Delaney Woodbury
 
Sophomores
 
Camdyn Alsup 2
Olivia Benton 2
Dylan Benz 2
Olivia Bierbrodt 2
Gracie Boughton 2
Katherine Broden 2
Lauren Broden 2
Zayin Calvert 2
Callie Champley 2
Sydney Clifton 2
Tess Cooper 2
Ryty Dupont-Barlow 2
Mason Foster 2
Kaitlyn Fought 2
Kayeden Fryman 2
Casey Goergen 2
Jacalyn Green 
Peyton Haynes 2
Gillian Henson 2
Clara Hickman 2
Sarah Hicks 2
Lindsey Holtman 2
Annmaree James 2
Allison Kinder 2
Christine Lindquist 2
Brandon Long 2
Derek Long 
Emma Lux 2
Amelia Lyons 2
Erin McGhee
Andrew McGhee
Anna Mills 2
Jordan Murphy-Leach 2
Matthew Overton 2
Kady Patelski 2
Kane Patterson 2
Logan Petersen 2
Zoie Polen 2
Savanah Polen 2
Riley Pruser 2
Christian Reynolds 2
Alexandria Shaw 2
Abigail Stone 2
Kaitlin Sturgeon
Emily Taylor 2
Mya Thomas 
Spencer Toohill 2
Amanda Tool 2
Jake Torbert 2
Sydnee Underwood 2
Kinser Wargel 2
David Watkins 
Hannah Williams 2
Evelyn Wood 2
Claudia Workman 2
 
Juniors
 
Addison Ayers 3
Joshua Burton 3
Nicole Chaney 3
Emily Ervin 3
Savannah Ettien 3
Madison Filkin 3
Megan Finfrock 3
Danye Hennenfent 3
Dayle Hennenfent 3
Mac Hickman 3
Jonathon Kane 3
Blake Karr *
Breanna Lane 3
Adreana Leblanc 3
Katelyn Maxwell 3
Kathleen Overbey 3
Kyli Patterson 3
Glenn Phillips *
Austin Rauch 3
Bryce Reeves 3
Chase Reynolds 2
Alyssa Saulsbery 3
Breanna Thayer 3
Sophia Waters 3
Maggie Werts 3
Emma Wertz 3
Seth Westfall 3
Millie White 3
 
Seniors
 
Gregory Aughenbaugh 4
Jackie Bateson 
Claire Benton **
Quinlan Calvert 4
Grace Clark *
Wesley Conn 4
Riley Donelson 4
Isaac Fabris 4
Aaron Gamsby 4
Meghan Glass **
Noah Griffin 4
Livia Harmon **
James Harrold III 4
Juana Hernandez 4
Chelsey Hickman 4
Maggie Inman 4
Alexandra Johnson **
Sabrynn Karr 3
Jacob Kroeger 4
Deborah Lindquist 4
Makenzie McDonald 4
Taylor Moore 4
Sydney Musselman 4
Levi Nettles 2
Braden Newman 4
Amber Obermeyer 3
Allison Oswald 4
Alexis Peterson 4
Julia Sterr 4
Jena Thomas 4
Jazmin Valencia **
Landon Wargel 4
Lucas White 4
Victoria Wilson 4
Lillian Wood 4

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Clinton Board of Education Discusses Class Size Reforms

A Clinton Board of Education member says Clinton Schools need smaller class sizes.
 
Ron Conner, a former administrator at Clinton High School, says he is not impressed with some of the class sizes. He says it is something he has wanted changed for better than 20 years and feels it's time he start doing something about it.
 
 
Conner says the students most impressionable ages for learning are between kindergarten and about fifth grade. He questions how students are supposed to learn and teachers are supposed to teach when there is better than 20 students in a classroom.
 
 
Working with the Board of Education on this is the goal for Conner. He believes kids in classrooms need more help and attention.
 
 
Getting more teachers in classrooms is going to cost the district. That was pointed out by John Blythe who calls it a great idea but wonders where the money is going to come from.
 
 
Other board members supported the idea. Chris Hammer says there's good teachers to be had that are not employed. He says he's willing to work with the administrators of the various buildings to get them in.
 
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles says he will work with his administrative team to find ways to get help in classrooms but cautioned, starting the process so close to a new school year would be difficult to get things done in time for the next year. 

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Authorities Remind Residents No Pets, No Bikes at May Days

For the safety of everyone attending this weekend's May Days Festival in Clinton, local authorities are reminding attendees of some things to keep in mind for the weekend.
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates the square will close briefly Thursday night for the festival, and then come Friday afternoon, it will completely close down as vendors move in for the weekend.
 
 
With large crowds expected on the square, Chief Lowers says they are asking attendees to keep the pets at home. He also asks folks to not bring their bikes to the square as well.
 
 
May Days opens tonight on the downtown Clinton Square and runs through Sunday. It is a fundraiser for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce.
 
For more information about the festival. Check out the Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

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Maroa Library's Summer Reading Program to Combat Brain Drain

Maroa Public Library's annual Summer Reading Program is coming up within the next few weeks.
 
The theme of this year's program is "Read by Design" according to Sara Gentle and will include activities for the children to participate in through the week.
 
 
There will be several guest speakers, each speaking on a different design theme, such as industrial and graphic design, to encourage a creative spark among participants.
 
 
The program's goal is to combat the "brain drain" that tends to happen between the end of the school year and the start of a new one with the intention of keeping those skills sharp.
 
 
Registration for the Maroa Public Library Summer Reading Program is on Thursday, June 1st between 10am-5pm and Friday, June 2nd from 10am-3pm.

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Sen. Rose Criticizes Vote on School Funding Reform

The Illinois Senate spent several hours in debate Wednesday afternoon and voted on a number of bills that are part of a broader legislative package that could become Illinois’ next state budget. Not all of the bills were approved. 
 
Sen. Chapin Rose was asked during a Wednesday evening press conference why, after months of negotiations, Republicans insist more time is needed before they consider the legislation.
 
 
Senate Republicans argued the bills they didn’t support needed more work.

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Sen. Bill Brady Addresses Budget Update

Senator Bill Brady, who has been involved in state budget talks for weeks, took part in a Capitol press conference Wednesday to provide an update about the progress of the negotiations.
 
 
Sen. BradyBrady was asked if time is running out to reach an agreement before the May 31 deadline.
 
                         
Sen. Brady was asked whether there is agreement on an income tax increase.
 
                              
Sen. Brady was also asked about proposals to increase sales taxes.
 
                     
Brady responds to a reporter’s question about the ongoing budget talks and how soon can those talks conclude with an agreement.
 
 
The General Assembly faces a May 31 deadline for a state budget. 

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Rauner Offers Pro-Senate, Anti-House Message

Governor Bruce Rauner has good things to say about one chamber of the Illinois General Assembly, the other not so much. 
 
On one hand, he says he's cheering on the Senate as the chamber continues to consider the Grand Bargain series of bills.
 
 
The temperature in the room cools a little when Rauner offers his opinions on the Illinois House.
 
 
The Senate is expected to renew voting on bills tied to the Grand Bargain.

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Over 11-Hundred Farmers Respond To Action Request

A request to support reform the federal government's process to create and enforce environmental regulations stirred some 11-hundred farmers into action. 
Illinois Farm Bureau asked farmers to actively support a so-called "back to basics” effort by new federal Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt. I-F-B President Rich Guebert explains what it's about.
 
 
And as for Springfield, Guebert says farmers await action on a state budget just like many other interests throughout Illinois.
 
 
Guebert farms in Ellis Grove in Randolph County. 

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Bustos Awaiting Infrastructure Plan From Trump

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos looking for a defined infrastructure plan from President Trump, but says his administration remains too riddled with questions concerning ties to Russia.
 
 
Bustos made her remarks on the House Floor Wednesday. 

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Wind Advisory Again Extended to 4am Thursday; Many Roads Still Closed

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has again extended their wind advisory for Central Illinois, until 4 o'clock Thursday morning, after continued high winds blowing dust, caused almost zero visibility, closed several highways, and caused numerous accidents.

As of 9:15 Wednesday night, gettingaroundillinois-dot-com reported that Interstate 72 was closed from just east of Jacksonville to Springfield, and from Buffalo to Illiopolis.

The Weather Service reported that a dust storm at 5 o'clock 2 miles east of Tuscola on Route 36 in Douglas County, caused an accident with a semi and 6 cards due to zero visibility and blowing dust.

The Weather Service said that dangerous winds would continue through the overnight hours, due to the strong winds blowing dust and lowering visibilities to less than one quarter mile.

Loose, lightweight objects may be blown around. Minor tree or property damage is possible. Driving may be difficult especially in high profile vehicles and on east- west roads.

The Regional Radio listening area is also in the "marginal" category for possible severe weather on Thursday.  Stay tuned to this Regional Radio station and dewittdailynews.com for the latest in weather information.
 

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Wind Advisory Extended til 9pm Wednesday; Many Roads Closed Due to Blowing Dust

The National Weather Service in Lincoln extended their wind advisory for Central Illinois, until 9 o'clock Wednesday night, after continued high windsblowing dust, caused almost zero visibility, closed several highways, and caused numerous accidents.

The Illinois Department of Transportation closed Interstate 72 between the Sangamon-Morgan County line and Springfield, during the 5 o'clock hour Wednesday afternoon, due to the limited visibility.  The eastbound lane of Illinois Route 104 between Auburn and Interstate 55, was also closed at 4:57.

Law enforcement also reported to the Weather Service, that a dust storm at 5:20 Wednesday afternoon caused lane closures on Interstate 55 near McLean due to poor visibility from blowing dust.

The Weather Service reported that a dust storm at 5 o'clock 2 miles east of Tuscola on Route 36 in Douglas County, caused an accident with a semi and 6 cards due to zero visibility and blowing dust.

Blowing dust from the strong winds was lowering visibilities on some east west roads to less than one quarter mile, adding that numerous car accidents have been reported.

Motorists were urged to use caution when driving Wednesday evening, especially on east-west roads due to the strong south wind.
 

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City Watching Legislation That Would Cut Funding

14% of the general revenue to the community could on the line if a piece of legislation passes in Springfield.
 
City Commissioner of Finances, Tom Edmunds, informed the City Council that 14-percent could be around a half-million dollars the state would withhold. 
 
 
The Senate's revenue committee will consider the bill. Edmunds says that is something the City will watch very carefully. 

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May Days Festival Offering Live Music Throughout Weekend

While you're out enjoying all the carnival rides and food available during the May Days Festival, be sure to stop by the Mr. Lincoln Square stage for what is happening with the live music.
 
Marian Brisard, Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce says Friday night 'Always Jammin' DJ' will set the mood. Saturday on the square, Protege will perform. 
 
 
With the festival winding down on Sunday, Brisard says they are welcoming back a group of ucelele players who were a big hit last year.
 
 
The May Days Festival opens tomorrow night (Thursday) and runs throughout the weekend. For more information about all things May Days, visit the Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. 

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Utilities The Hold Up For Planned Gas Station

The utility company dealing with power is the hold up for what will eventually be a new gas station in Clinton.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell says the owners of the MachOne gas station planned at the block bordered by Van Buren, Grant, White and Jackson Streets are waiting on Ameren to get things situated for construction to start. 
 
 
In early April, area fire crews used the block as a training site but since there has been little movement. 

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No Injuries When Train Goes Off Tracks in Logan County

Authorities say there could be passenger train delays in central Illinois after a late night freight train derailment.
 
Union Pacific spokeswoman Calli Hite says no one was injured and no hazardous materials were involved. Eighteen of 77 cars carrying automobiles and other materials derailed near Elkhart around 10:30 p.m. Monday. The train was traveling from East St. Louis to Proviso, which is outside Chicago.
 
Amtrak officials say some passenger trains could be delayed Tuesday and buses will be used to transport passengers where needed. Amtrak didn't specify which services would be affected.
 
The Logan County Sheriff's Department says some area roads are closed and crews have been called to assist with cleanup.
 
Hite says the derailment's cause is under investigation.
 
Elkhart is about 20 miles northeast of Springfield, Illinois.

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Hospitals Cutting Sports Trainers Because of State Budget

Springfield's Memorial Medical Center and HSHS St. John's Hospital will stop providing athletic trainers for area high schools by this summer because of the state budget holdup.
 
Reports indicate the hospitals will end the 30-year tradition because the state is $130 million behind in paying bills for the state's group health insurance program.
 
Dr. Charles Lucore is St. John's chief executive officer. He says the budget crisis "is causing all of us to make difficult decisions."
 
The decision affects eight area high schools and their major sports programs - including football.
 
The Illinois High School Association doesn't require trainers to be at games or practices. But high schools have come to count on them.

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Northern Illinois Farmer Pushes Back Against Railroad Project

A northern Illinois farmer pushing back against a proposed railroad project. 
 
If approved, the Great Lakes Basin line would run within ten feet within Tammy Wakeley’s free stall barn in Winnebago County.
 
 
Wakeley says she’s frustrated because it could take the Surface Transportation Board several years to make a final decision. She also would have liked to see more time for public input on the issue.
 
 
The farm Wakeley’s own dates back to 1884. 

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House Democrats Seeking Common Ground With Rauner

The team of four Illinois House Democrats tabbed by Speaker Michael Madigan to work with Governor Rauner on ways to end the budget stalemate is getting down to business. 
 
State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie says they are taking his demand for business friendly reforms head on.
 
 
Democrats are seeking reforms that would prohibit insurance companies in Illinois from eliminating an insurance policy due to a pre-existing condition and would also create an Insurance Rate Review Board to prevent insurance companies from unfairly gouging consumers. 
 
The House negotiators also plan to ask Rauner to join them and help close corporate loopholes that allow large businesses to pay nothing in taxes. 
 
They're concerned that impacts revenue and makes it harder for small and medium businesses to survive.

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Evidence Based Education Plan Takes Hit

Progress on an evidence based education funding formula has taken a hit. 
 
State Representative Norine Hammond of Macomb says an amendment was offered Tuesday in Springfield that throws a wrench into things.
 
 
Hammond believes the amendment is being motivated by Chicago special interests.
 
 
The Governor’s Education Funding Reform Commission offered a report to the state legislature earlier this year. 

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Durbin Weighs in On Trump Sharing Intelligence With Russia

President Trump's sharing of classified information with Russian officials is getting response from one of his most outspoken critics, Senator Dick Durbin. 
 
Durbin is expressing fears the developments will hurt the battle against terror threats like ISIS.
 
 
Durbin once again turned back the clock to the early 70s and made comparisons to Watergate.
 
 
Durbin also renewed his call for a special prosecutor and independent commission to investigate possible ties between the President’s inner circle and Russia. 

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18-Year-Old Honored For Egg Business

An 18 year old from western Illinois getting some impressive recognition for building his own egg business. Jim Taylor reports.
 

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Plenty of Fun on Tap For 2017 May Days Festival

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce's May Days Festival will have plenty to offer the community. 
 
From the carnival to food to entertainment, the May Days festival has something to offer everyone when things kick off Thursday. Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Marian Brisard indicates their traditional flag raising ceremony and blessing will be done on Friday even though the festival starts Thursday.
 
 
The Chamber this year is bringing back their Pokemon Go event. Brisard says this was a big hit last year and feels Pokemon Go is still popular enough to do it again.
 
 
According to Brisard, First Christian Church will host their '5K to Raise 5K' to kick the day off Saturday. Like last year, there will be an Abraham Lincoln impersonator at the Race as well.
 
 
The American Legion will have a pork chop sandwich fundraiser on Saturday night and Brisard says it goes to a great group for a great cause.
 
 
There will be even more stage entertainment throughout the weekend as well.
 
Tomorrow on Regional Radio News, Brisard will tell us more about what to expect on the Mr. Lincoln Square Stage during the four-day May Days festival in Clinton. 
 
For more information about May Days, visit the Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. 

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CCEF Sponsoring CHS Gold Star Banquet

The Clinton Community Education Foundation (CCEF) is once again sponsoring the Clinton High School scholarships and awards banquet. 
 
Ruth Lowers with CCEF, indicates that the Foundation is sponsoring the Gold Star Banquet for a third year. The banquet is run by the high school guidance office and the Foundation takes the expenses away from the high school and the students.
 
 
Lowers says the Foundation felt compelled to sponsor the banquet so that recognized students could attend with their parents regardless of their financial situation. CCEF fundraisers help the Foundation sponsor the Gold Star Banquet.
 
 
The Gold Star Banquet is open to invited students and their parents. Students must maintain a 3.51 GPA or receive a scholarship to attend. 
 
 
Freshman through seniors will be recognized for their academic achievement along with seniors awarded scholarships.

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House Trying To Nudge Senate

A bipartisan group of more than 30 Illinois House members are tired of sitting on the sidelines when it comes to the budget process. 
 
With the Grand Bargain seemingly stuck in neutral in the Senate, State Representative Tim Butler and others want to see the Senate craft the best compromise they can so the House can go to work.
 
 
Butler says the bipartisan group will have more to say if there isn't progress toward a budget.
 
 
Lawmakers face a May 31 deadline to pass budget bills with simple majority votes.

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U of I Tax Expert: Trump Tax Reforms Leave Unanswered Questions

A University of Illinois tax policy expert says too many questions remain unanswered with the Trump administration tax reform plan. 
 
Don Fullerton isn’t calling the plan good or bad. He says it’s just basically a one-page list of bullet points.
 
 
The last significant tax reform occurred in 1986, and although it intended to simplify the tax code, Fullerton says special interests got in the way.
 
 
Fullerton says just like lawmakers, he’s awaiting analysis on the Trump reform plan from the Congressional Budget Office and Treasury Department. 

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City Announces Electronic Recycling Days in for June

Get out those old printers and computers and VHS players because you officially have a place to take them to get recycled legally.
 
The Clinton City Council Monday night announced a pair of free recycling days coming to Clinton June 9 and 10. City Administrator Tim Followell doesn't need to remind the public this is a huge need. You can even dispose of your televisions of any size for just ten-dollars. 
 
 
Clinton, like numerous other communities across the state, have been in search of a viable option for electronic recycling, especially once HRC East ceased to offer it. Followell says the company from northern Illinois approached the City about having this come to Clinton. 
 
 
There will be no residency requirements for participation in the electronic recycling days.
 
Again the dates are June 9 and 10 at the Clinton High School parking lot. 
 
Also at the Monday night City Council meeting...
 
>>The Council approved a donation of $5000 to the Celebrate Clinton Association for their fireworks display.
 
>>The Council approved a new vehicle for the police department at a cost of just over $38-thousand.
 
>>The Council also approved the motor fuel tax summer maintenance bids through Illiana Construction Company for just short of $176-thousand. 

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Clinton Power Station Outage Underway

The annual outage at the Exelon Nuclear Power Station is underway.
 
The outage is annual refueling of the power plant. According to Brett Nauman, Communications Manager, the outage brings hundreds of additional workers for maintenance that can only be done with the plant is offline.
 
 
In addition to providing maintenance to the power plant, Nauman says the 1500 additional workers are staying in local hotels and eating at restaurants. He says it's a huge economic boom to the area.
 
 
Had it not been for the efforts of local lawmakers, an outage right now may not be happening. Nauman says the workers and other employees are still grateful for the Clean Energy legislation that was passed in Springfield.
 
 
Nauman says the outage should last another few weeks. He says contractors are from local unions and total over 1500 additional workers. 

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Chamber of Commerce Gearing Up For May Days Festival

The annual May Days Festival is here.
 
By Tuesday you'll start to see the rides for the carnival setting up on the square. Executive Director Marian Brisard says they have their usual carnival returning for 2017 along with plenty more entertainment options for everyone.
 
 
The Chamber makes money on the weekend through the carnival ride ticket sales. Brisard explains purchasing tickets early not only saves money for attendees but it also provides a bigger return to the Chamber of Commerce. Brisard notes the pre-sale tickets are available at several local businesses.
 
 
The Festival kicks off on Thursday and runs until Sunday, all on the downtown Clinton Square. 
 
For more information on the Festival and all the activities, find the Chamber of Commerce on Facebook. 

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Annual "Quilted Keepsakes" Show Back at the Homestead

The DeWitt County Museum Association's annual "Quilted Keepsakes" quilt show will take place starting June 1st through June 30th at the C.H. Moore Homestead DeWitt County Museum.
 
Several contemporary loaned pieces from private collections will be displayed for your viewing pleasure. According to Joey Woolridge, there is at least one "crazy quilt," a design that was popular in the 1870s and 80s.
 
 
This particular quilt has souvenir ribbons that tie it to DeWitt County.
 
 
The quilts can be viewed Tuesday through Saturday 10am-5pm and 1pm-5pm on Sundays. If you'd like to arrange a large group tour, contact the museum at 217-935-6066 or send them an email at chmoore.homestead@gmail.com. 
 

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Rotary Club Hosting Chicken Dinner

The Clinton Rotary Club is hosting their annual chicken dinner drive thru this Tuesday at Clinton Junior High School.
 
Greg Taylor with Clinton Rotary says this is a fundraiser they do to benefit local food pantries.
 
The meals are $9 apiece and includes a half a chicken and two sides. Rotary will also throw in free chocolate chip cookies. You can purchase tickets from any Rotarian. 

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Reward Offered For Suspects Who Robbed, Left Western Illinois Farmer For Dead

A retired Western Illinois farmer robbed and left for dead in his home, days later his friends raise $13,000 in reward money to find those responsible for the crime. Jim Taylor reports.
 

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Sen. Rose Says Progress Stalling

State Senator Chapin Rose says any progress towards a balanced budget was undone earlier this week.
He feels a lot of progress has been made in the last few weeks but was undone earlier in the week when party leaders held dueling press conferences. Sen. Rose says he is not interested in any half measures.
 
 
Sen. Rose called out Senate Democrats for running bills that were unbalanced. He called that the catalyst for the dueling press conferences and feels it setback any progress and made moving forward more difficult. 

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Action on Truck/Trailer Length Legislation Expected this Spring in Springfield

A key rural transportation item dots the legislative agenda in Springfield as the spring session winds down. Don Schaefer represents the Midwest Truckers Association and he expects action on legislation impacting the length of truck/trailer combinations.
 
 
Schaefer hopes for movement on the bill next week in the senate. He says increasing the length limit will result in greater efficiencies for farmers when hauling products like grain. The spring session wraps up May 31st. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a slightly cooler week across central Illinois. State Climotolgist Jim Angel lets us know what to expect this weekend and into next week.
 

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Congressman Davis Stops By DeWitt County HRC

The Encore Thrift Store at the DeWitt County Human Resource Center's East location was gifted by a visit from Congressman Rodney Davis Thursday morning.
 
He fielded questions from their clients about baseball to Washington D.C. and how democracy works. Congressman Davis says there was a lot of concern about the sacrifices that are being made to take care of their clients.
 
 
When it comes to funding for HRC, Davis says he needs the community's help in getting the message of the positive things happening to lawmakers. He says there are some great programs in place and those need to continue.
 
 
Davis explains the staff at HRC reached out to his office and invited him to see their operation. He got to see the Encore Thrift Store and the day training that is happening.
 
He thanked the staff for a warm welcome and allowing him to interact with their clients. 
 
Davis is touring central Illinois with a week home from Washington, D.C. 

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Pet Event in Logan County Saturday

Walk your pets in Lincoln Saturday for a good cause.
 
That's the mission of a trio of central Illinois animal clinics hosting the second annual "Bark for Life" at Kickapoo Park in Lincoln Saturday afternoon. Dr. Jason Wrage says they're inviting residents to come out and support animal shelters in central Illinois while enjoying giveaways and games.
 
 
The shelters the event benefits are in Sangamon, Tazewell and Logan Counties. Dr. Wrage says Kickapoo Park is a great spot for some walks and hopes plenty of pet owners and animal enthusiasts will come out from those areas.
 
 
Dr. Wrage says the goal is to educate their audience on pet care and the benefits of adoptions. He explains the shelters in their areas do so much to find pets permanent homes.
 
 
"Bark for Life" is Saturday at Kickapoo Park in Lincoln from 1 pm to 4 pm. 
 
To learn more about pet adoptions in your community, the best way to start is a simple google search or to reach out to your neighborhood veterinarian office and talk to them. 

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Sen. McCann Wants Ag Director Voted In, Not Appointed

A downstate lawmaker believes the state ag director position should be decided by voters and not a gubernatorial appointment. 
 
State Senator Sam McCann of Plainview presented the constitutional amendment Thursday in Springfield.
 
 
McCann says twelve other states elect ag directors, including Illinois neighbors Kentucky and Iowa. 

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Monarch Butterflies Being Watched By Government Agencies

Government agencies keeping a close eye on the Monarch butterfly population. If it becomes an endangered or threatened species that action could have a significant impact on farming practices says Lyndsey Ramsey--Associate Director of Natural and Environmental Resources for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
Ramsey says farmers can improve Monarch butterfly habitats simply by planting pollinator gardens or leaving milkweed in non-crop areas—like around farm buildings and along roads and ditches. 

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Farmers Worried About Yellow Corn

Farmers are worried about their corn crop across the Midwest. Some of it most certainly will need to be replanted because of standing water, but some whole fields have turned yellow.
 
Farmers don't worry too much about a few very young yellow corn plants in their fields. They do get concerned when every plant is yellow. The problem, in this case, isn't the wet weather says University of Illinois Agronomist Emerson Nafziger…
 
 
 It's the night time temps that are mostly causing the problems. When those overnight lows are in the 30's, and 40's, it damages the leaf...
 
 
The corn should green up once air temperatures return to normal. However, it may be only the new growth that is green says Nafziger. He's not sure if there will be long-term consequences…
 
 
The good news, though it is cold comfort says Nafziger, is that any replants that must be done in these yellow fields won't be so very far behind because the standing plants haven't really been growing much.

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Cullerton Frustrated By No Budget Deal

Yet another failed attempt at passing a budget this week at the Illinois State House has raised the ire of the President of the Senate. 
 
Democrat John Cullerton was frustrated after not being able to pass initial bills with little to no Republican support. Cullerton pointed the blame for the lack of votes at Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. 
 
 
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno says that she remains committed to the grand bargain processes. But she was unwilling to allow for votes this week on more contentious issues surrounding the package of bills, including a property tax freeze and changes to workers compensation. Cullerton’s point was there has to be compromise on all proposals to find 30 votes to pass the Senate and maybe Rauner isn’t used to working that way. 
 
 
Both sides say they are willing to keep meeting.

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Ag Groups Urging Trump to Keep KORUS

The U.S. pork industry is urging President Donald Trump to renegotiate rather than withdraw from the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, KORUS.  The push follows on the heels of similar comments made by the President regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement.
 
Farm groups are treating KORUS like NAFTA, arguing for renegotiation versus withdrawal.  They succeeded in bending the president’s ear on NAFTA, and now hope to do the same on the 2011 KORUS that sharply reduced or ended tariffs on key farm products.
 
National Pork Producers’ spokesman Dave Warner explains...
 
  
 
Pork products would face huge tariffs without KORUS, as would U.S. beef and other ag exports to South Korea.
 
Warner says a key player in defending free trade agreements for agriculture is new USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, who helped convince the president to stay in NAFTA last month.
 
          
 
Warner says his industry sells more pork to the 20-nations with which the U.S. has free trade agreements, than it does to the rest of the world, combined.  He argues it’s only by negotiating new deals that U.S. agriculture’s able to reduce foreign tariffs, and the U.S. can reduce its overall trade deficit.

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UPDATED: Lady Maroons Track Program Brings Home Conference Title, Off To Sectionals

The Clinton Lady Maroons track team brought home their first ever conference track title last Friday in Tuscola at the Central Illinois Conference meet, now it's off to Sectionals.
 
Coach Rachel Lyons says the goal from the start of the year was to get that conference title and start filling up the banner in the high school gym.
 
 
In Tuscola, Lyons says at the conference meet there were several personal bests and everyone took to heart that each finish meant something.
 
 
The Lady Maroons competed at Sectionals at Mattoon Thursday afternoon. Lyons indicates the top two or qualifying time advances to the State meet. She notes there is no team advancements at the Sectional, only individuals. 
 
Sophomore Claudia Workman finished second in the shot put and freshman Payne Turney finished second in the 800-meter run. 
 
The Lady Maroons finished 8th at the Mattoon Sectional with a team score of 29. 
 

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The Vault Project Ready To Move Forward

The Vault is a grassroots movement by a Clinton woman to bring a place for youth to have a safe place to hang out and find help if they need it.
 
Michelle Witzke set out to raise approximately $60-thousand for The Vault and in community support this year she has raised triple that. She explains there is enough to close on the building on the square and get started working on sustainability.
 
 
According to Mark Witzke, they expect to close on the site in the next few weeks with getting plans together soon thereafter. He hopes to get the project going with construction around mid-to-late summer.
 
 
Michelle says the community has been a great support so far. She explains a lot of skilled labor is going to be donated which should help them save a lot of money.
 
 
Along with entertainment that has been picked out by the youth, there will be support services. Witzke envisions counseling and tutoring along with other types of support services.
 
 
Witzke says they are aiming for $440-thousand for labor and construction costs but they will need additional monthly pledges to help keep the project going and sustainable.

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Local Leaders Discuss Caregiver Crisis

There is a caregiver crisis in the state of Illinois.
 
That's the message from Stephanie Coonce at the Tuesday DeWitt County Community Coalition meeting. Coonce explains Illinois is nearly last in the spending on people with disabilities, something they see the effects of everyday.
 
 
There is a website, theydeservemore.com, where you can learn more about the caregiver crisis and Coonce hopes caregivers or family and friends of caregivers will visit the site and tell their stories and contact local lawmakers.
 
 
 Coonce indicates it has been nine years since Illinois increased the earmarked funds for people with developmental disabilities and 27-thousand children and adults have a developmental disability and depend on service.

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Tourism Up in Illinois in 2016

Illinois tourism officials say there was a seven figure increase in the number of tourists visiting the Land of Lincoln last year. State tourism director Cory Jobe reviews the 2016 numbers.
 
 
Jobe says the economic impact of that visitor investment is clear...
 
 
Jobe reports the state tourism and hospitality industry generated 9,600 new jobs during the year.

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State Bass Fishing Finals Postpones

High water levels at Carlyle Lake have forced the Illinois High School Association to postpone the State Final Bass Fishing Tournament. The event was scheduled to be held May 19th and 20th, but will now be pushed to later this spring. 
 
This marks the 9th year for the IHSA state tournament series in bass fishing says the organization’s Kurt Gibson.
 
 
The IHSA Board of Directors made the decision to postpone the finals based upon discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The IHSA was also forced to postpone the state final tournament in 2011 and 2013 due to high water levels. 

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Over 12-Hundred Crop Claims For Country So Far

It’s 1,242 crop claims and counting for Country Financial. Those numbers are from Illinois this spring and compare to 150 last year at this time. 
 
The heavy rain in the southern half of the state is the culprit says Crop Claims Manager Brad Clow.
 
 
Even though claims are way up this year, Clow says Country Financial has been able to handle the workload. The company has 116 federally certified crop adjusters on staff.

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Lawmakers Hearing About Benefits of Medical Marijuana Fighting Opioid Addiciton

STATE LAWMAKERS ARE HEARING ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN BATTLING OPIATE ADDICTION. 
 
THERE ARE ABOUT 40 CONDITIONS WHICH PEOPLE CAN GET APPROVAL TO USE MEDICAL CANNABIS TO TREAT…BUT FIGHTING AN ADDICTION TO PAINKILLERS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. RUSH UNIVERSITY ORTHOPEDIC CENTER SURGEON DOCTOR CHARLES BUSH JOSEPH SAYS THAT SHOULD BE ADDED TO THE LIST…ESPECIALLY FOR PATIENTS WHO GET HOOKED AS THEY TRY TO MANAGE THEIR PAIN.
 
 
A SENATE COMMITTEE LISTENED TO TESTIMONY FROM SEVERAL PEOPLE INCLUDING YAJAIRA (ya-high-rah) SANTIAGO OF OAK PARK. AFTER A BAD CAR ACCIDENT, SHE BECAME SEVERELY ADDICTED TO PAINKILLERS BUT WAS ABLE TO USE MEDICAL CANNABIS TO GET OFF THE DRUGS.
 
 
COMMITTEE MEMBERS SAY THEY WANT TO GET THE DISCUSSION STARTED ABOUT USING MARIJUANA TO CURB THE GROWING OPIATE EPIDEMIC.

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Grand Bargain Efforts Stallingv

EFFORTS TO JUMPSTART THE “GRAND BARGAIN” BUDGET AND REFORM DEAL IN THE SENATE MAY BE STALLING OUT.
 
SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON TRIED TO START MOVING PIECES OF THE PLAN WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON BUT SAYS HE WAS MET WITH RESISTANCE FROM REPUBLICANS AND EXPRESSED HIS FRUSTRATION.
 
 
CULLERTON SAYS THEY DON’T SEEM TO BE ABLE TO REACH AN AGREEMENT ON REFORMS, THEY ARE FOCUSING NOW ON THE BUDGET, INCLUDING A TAX INCREASE. SENATE REPUBLICANS SAY THEY ARE CLOSE ON SEVERAL ISSUES AND WANT TO KEEP NEGOTIATING.
 
SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHRISTINE RADOGNO SAYS THEY ARE CLOSE TO AGREEMENT, AND URGES DEMOCRATS TO KEEP NEGOTIATING.
 
 
SOME OF THE MAIN STICKING POINTS RIGHT NOW INCLUDE A PROPOSED PROPERTY TAX FREEZE AND WORKER’S COMPENSATION REFORM.

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Durbin Questions Comey Firing

Senator Dick Durbin went on the offensive again Wednesday against the Trump Administration on the issue of Russian interference in American affairs. 
 
Durbin took the Administration to task for the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
 
 
Durbin had questions about the involvement of the Attorney General Sessions in terminating Comey.
 
 
Durbin continued to call for a special prosecutor and independent commission to investigate Russian involvement in the last Presidential election.

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DNR To Add Alligator Gar To Waterways

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is moving forward with plans to reintroduce a fish that was once native to Illinois waterways. 
 
The alligator gar is coming back says Rick O’Neil with IDNR’s Department of Fisheries.
 
 
The last known catch of the fish, prior to the start of the reintroduction effort, was in the Cache River basin in southern Illinois in 1966. 
 
The alligator gar is the largest of the gar species and second largest freshwater fish in North America, next to the white sturgeon. The current all-tackle record alligator gar, caught in 1953 in Texas, weighed 302 pounds and measured 7-feet-6-inches in length. 
 
Researchers determined that prior to Illinois extinction, the state produced some individual gar that measured more than eight-feet in length, with the heaviest weighing 176 pounds. 

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DeWitt County Habitat For Humanity Receives Grant from State Farm

Thanks to a grant from State Farm, a local organization is aiming to provide financial literacy opportunities to the community.
 
DeWitt County Habitat For Humanity received around $5000 to provide financial literacy education to their homeowners and the community. Bob Cox says they got high marks for how well written their grant was.
 
 
Classes could begin as early as June and Cox indicates they will start with the families they have built homes for. He explains once all their homeowners have taken the course, they will open it up to the community.
 
 
According to Cox, the grant will allow Habitat to purchase all the materials for the course, making it a free opportunity. And for them to purchase a television for the video curriculum.
 
 
The education will follow the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace curriculum. 
 
To get more information, stop in at the Habitat For Humanity Restore location on Washington Street on Saturday mornings from 8 am to noon. 

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CCEF Promoting Recognition Wall During Graduation Season

With graduation season upon us, a local organization is hoping you will consider their high school landmark as a potential way of recognizing the graduate or graduates in your life.
 
The Clinton Community Education Foundation's recognition wall has been set up outside the sports entrance of the high school for a number of years now and Ruth Lowers, with the CCEF says they hope you might consider it as a way to honor your grad this spring.
 
 
Bricks on the Recognition Wall can be customized to your liking and there's also generic designs you can choose from. Lowers also indicates they have bricks that are small and those that are much bigger.
 
 
Lowers indicates there is currently a wait on a few brick orders placed so if an order was to be put in now, those could go up all at one time as the weather starts to get better.
 
For more information about the Recognition Wall, visit clintonedfoundation.org where you can find an order form. 

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Heyworth Puts on its 30th Hey Days

The village of Heyworth is putting on its 30th Hey Days as a self-sufficient showcase for the town and to promote the community.
 
According to Geoff Dodds the Carnival will be even bigger and better than last year with more rides, an expanded Beer Garden and the ever popular petting zoo.
 
 
Hey Days offers entertainment for the whole family including a variety of bands.
 
 
Hey Days starts on the 11th and ends the 14th and will be set up in the Heyworth downtown district.

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Weekly Crop Report

IT WAS A PRETTY SOGGY WEEK AS WE HEAR IN THE LATEST CROP REPORT. 
 
STATE CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER SAYS RAINFALL WAS NEARLY AN INCH ABOVE NORMAL LAST WEEK…MAKING FOR SOME FLOODED FIELDS.
 
 
14 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS HAVE BEEN PLANTED AND ONE PERCENT EMERGED. 
 
 
FOUR PERCENT OF SORGHUM HAS BEEN PLANTED AND THE FIRST CUTTING OF ALFALFA IS NOW 13 PERCENT COMPLETE. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE IS RATED AS 41 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 59 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Lawmakers Consider Circus Elephant Ban Bill

STATE LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING ON A BILL BANNING TRAVELING ACTS AND CIRCUSES IN ILLINOIS FROM USING ELEPHANTS.
 
ALTHOUGH THE BIG NAME CIRCUSES ARE ENDING THE USE OF ELEPHANTS IN THEIR SHOWS, THERE ARE STILL ABOUT 100 ELEPHANTS BEING HAULED AROUND THE COUNTRY AND FORCED TO PERFORM SAYS THE HUMANE SOCIETY. QUENTIN NEEBEL IS A SIXTH GRADER FROM DOWNSTATE JACKSONVILLE, AND TESTIFIED IN FAVOR OF THE LEGISLATION.
 
 
REPRESENTATIVE LAURA FINE OF GLENVIEW IS SPONSORING THE LEGISLATION, SAYING THE USE OF THESE SPECIAL ANIMALS IN CIRCUS ACTS IS CRUEL.
 
 
THE BILL HAS ALREADY PASSED THE SENATE BUT STILL NEEDS TO BE VOTED ON IN THE HOUSE.

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Durbin Responds To Comey Firing

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is weighing in on the Trump Administration firing of FB I Director James Comey and the French election. 
 
Durbin says something smells fishy about this week's French Presidential Election, even though the outcome appeared to be unaffected by outside meddling....
 
 
Durbin released a statement expressing his concerns about the investigation of possible Russian involvement in the Presidential Election. 
 
“The termination and removal of James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation raises the critical question as to whether the FBI investigation of Russian interference in the last presidential campaign will continue and as to whether the investigation of any collusion or involvement by the Trump campaign will also be investigated by the FBI. Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues. Under these circumstances, I renew my call for an independent counsel and a special commission to fully investigate the Russian interference. We await clarification by the White House as soon as possible as to whether this investigation will continue and whether it will have a credible leader so that we know it will have a just outcome.”

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After Midweek Rain, Dryout Expected

More rain is in the forecast for parts of Illinois over the next several days. 
 
Not in the range of 4-to-8 inches like in some areas of central and southern Illinois last week, but still enough to get the rain gauge some work Wednesday into Thursday says meteorologist Richard Garuckas with Freese-Notis Weather. 
 
 
Sothern Illinois can expect anywhere from a tenth to a half inch of rain Wednesday into Thursday. 
 
Dryer weather is then expected for most of the state beginning Friday into the early portion of next week and temperatures should be warming into the low to upper 70’s, and possibly 80’s by later next week. 

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Clinton Lake Site For Bass Fishing Sectional

Around 15 schools were at Clinton Lake Monday for the 2017 IHSA Bass Fishing Sectional.
 
Clinton High School was the host school and Athletic Director Barry Gurvey indicates schools from across central Illinois were in Clinton for the Sectional.
 
 
John Williamson with the Department of Natural Resources indicates there is no qualifier prior to the Sectional. He indicates schools can also bring a couple teams to the lake.
 
 
Gurvey explains the teams can submit up to five caught bass that are at least 12-inches long and the total weight of the bass is named the winner.
 
 
Williamson says Clinton Lake has been a hotspot lately for events and says it is a great asset to DeWitt County for youth. He notes it's great for central Illinois to have the resources to host these types of events.
 
 
Gurvey indicates the Bass Fishing is one of the most popular IHSA Sanctioned sports and it is only in its ninth year. 
 
Mahomet-Seymour was the winner of the Clinton Lake Sectional with a total weight of 19 pounds and 14.72 oz. 
 
Tolono Unity won the Shelbyville sectional with a weight of five pounds and four ounces. 
 
And Chatham-Glenwood took the Sangchris Lake Sectional with a total weight of 16 lbs 4 oz. 
 
The 21 winners move on to Lake Carlyle this weekend. 

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Volunteers Needed for Friends in Action

A local organization is in need of volunteers to help with the small things that help keep seniors in their homes.
 
The volunteer base for Friends in Action has dwindled over the past few years according to Lola Camp. What seems to hinder potential volunteers is time, but the commitment is not as taxing as some people may think.
 
 
She adds that most assignments take a half an hour or less to make life easier for seniors.
 
 
To learn more about Friends in Action you can call 217-855-6036 or send an email to fiadewitt@gmail.com.

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools Promoting #PassIllinoisBudget

If you follow Illinois politics on social media, you've likely seen the hashtag-PassIllinoisBudget.
 
A local school is asking their parents that are active on social media to follow the hastag to help send the message a budget needs to be passed. Superintendent of Warrensburg Latham Schools, Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle indicates it's an initiative taken up by Illinois Schools in light of the budget crisis facing the State.
 
 
Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says their mandated-categoricals are over a quarter-million dollars and right now they are operating without the State's revenue with the expenses still coming in.
 
 
As you make your way across central Illinois and passing schools, you might notice the scrolling marquees taking note of how much the state owes them. Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says it is a trend you might start to see more of.
 
 
Some districts in the state have the real possibility of not being able to afford to open their doors come the new school year without a state budget.
 
Administrators are encouraging parents and community members to contact their local legislators to implore them to get a budget passed. 

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Treasurer Urges Action To Avoid Junk Bond Status

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs expressed concerns about Illinois' potential to obtain junk bond status and blasted Governor Rauner Monday. 
 
Frerichs cited threats from Moody's that a failure to pass a budget at month's end, would bring the ultimate credit downgrade and he outlined the consequences.
 
 
Frerichs accused Governor Rauner of campaigning and not governing. He also warned a credit downgrade could bring new nightmares from the Blagojevich years.
 
 
Deputy Governor Leslie Munger released a statement. "The fact is that the Treasurer spent years in Springfield voting for the very tax hikes and borrowing that have landed us in this place. Instead of holding press conferences, it would be helpful if he would encourage members of his party to work with the Governor on real change to get our state back on track."

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No Area of Illinois Immune From Opioid Crisis

They’re calling it an opioid crisis in Illinois and health officials say no area of the state is immune from the problem. 
 
The numbers don’t lie says Dr. Maria Bruni--the acting Assistant Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services. 
 
 
Numbers are also on the rise for opioid overdoses that don’t lead to death, but lead to an ongoing addiction with illegal drugs like heroin.
 
 
Bruni says the Illinois Department of Human Services has been awarded a $16-million federal grant to respond to the opioid crisis. 

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Madigan Tabs New Budget Negotiating Team

House Speaker Michael Madigan has assembled a four member team in a bid to seek out a budget compromise with Governor Bruce Rauner. 
 
He has tabbed Representatives Barbara Flynn Currie, Lou Lang, Arthur Turner and Jay Hoffman to work with the governor to identify areas of his agenda where compromise can be reached. 
 
Madigan released a statement noting critical services have been lost and the bill backlog has grown from a then shrinking 4.5 billion dollars to 13 billion dollars due to two years without a state budget. 
 
Madigan also expressed concern about bond rating agencies paying close attention to the state's lack of a budget. 
 
Madigan says quote - "While we stand firm that the budget – and the budget alone – must be our top priority, it is also our desire to work cooperatively with the governor. It is our strong desire that Governor Rauner join us in putting the budget first. By showing the governor that House Democrats stand ready to work with him in good faith, it is my hope that he will return to the negotiating table and work with us to end the budget crisis.”

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Lawmakers Aim To Help Combat Veteran Suicides

A group of lawmakers are striving to eliminate a staggering amount of suicides committed by veterans. 
 
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 22 vet’s take their own lives every day. Republican State Senator Paul Schimpf, a Naval Academy grad, says the first thing they need to do is get the message to vets that it’s ok to get help.
 
 
Democrat State Senator Michael Hastings, a West Point grad and former Army Captain says they want to make the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs reach out to returning vets of units that served in high conflict or casualty areas. 
 
 
House Bill 2647 is advancing through the legislature and also strives to connect local chamber of commerce to hook vet organizations together with employers. 

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Farmers Can Get Flood Adjustment on Assessed Value

Farmers impacted by last week’s torrential rains can get a flood adjustment on their assessed value. But Brenda Matherly-- Assistant Director of Local Government for the Illinois Farm Bureau says producers must notify their local assessor of the damage.
 
 
Parts of central and southern Illinois received between 4 and 8 inches of rain last week. 

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Local 708 Board Promoting Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a group of local volunteers are working to give people resources to have a healthy mind.
 
The DeWitt County Mental Health Board, sometimes referred to as the 708 Board, is aimed to provide local entities and groups with resources, sometimes financial, to help those in need in the community. Sharon Mills with the 708 Board explains a number of local groups are partners with them.
 
 
The Mental Health Board has a Facebook page and according to Lynn Warren, this month they are focused on tips for a healthy mindset and ways to work on your wellness.
 
 
The DeWitt County Mental Health Board will be celebrating their 50th year this year as well.
 
As they continue to work on outreach to the community, one of those things is a website, which they are working on rolling out this year. 
 
Search 'DeWitt County Mental Health Board' on Facebook to find their page. 

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Decatur CVB Promoting Local Hot Spots Through Summer Program

The Decatur Convention and Visitors Bureau, or CVB, is promoting their local hotspots through a summer contest.
 
To cap off Tourism Week, the CVB started what they are calling their Passport Program. Terri Hammel with the CVB says it gives people a list of destinations in Decatur and the surrounding area to hit up and then at the end of the summer, they will have a drawing for those who went to each spot.
 
 
Hammel indicates there's sites to see from the children's museum and zoo to the Chevrolet Hall of Fame museum.
 
 
The CVB kicked off the Passport Program with an event Saturday but if you could not make it, you can pick up a passport from their office in Decatur at 202 East North Street or call 217-423-7000 for more information. 

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Rain Delay Hasn't Dampened Central IL Farmers Spirits

Heavy rains across central Illinois last week left many fields with ponds, and farmers on hold, but most seem to be taking the setback in stride.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more...
 

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State Police Post Results From Distracted Driving Week

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS ANNOUNCING RESULTS FROM THE STATE’S FIRST “DISTRACTED DRIVING WEEK.” 
 
STATE AND LOCAL POLICE SPENT LAST WEEK TRYING TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT THE GROWING PROBLEM OF DISTRACTED DRIVING. MASTER SERGEANT MATT BOERWINKLE SAYS TROOPERS ISSUED MORE THAN 11-HUNDRED DISTRACTED DRIVING TICKETS AND 984 WARNINGS.
 
 
BOERWINKLE SAYS THEY ARE TRYING TO CURB THE GROWING PROBLEM OF PEOPLE PAYING TOO MUCH ATTENTION TO THEIR CELL PHONES INSTEAD OF THE ROAD.
 
 
TEXTING OR TALKING ON YOUR CELL PHONE WITHOUT A HANDS FREE DEVICE IS AGAINST THE LAW AND IS A PRIMARY OFFENSE. THAT MEANS COPS CAN PULL YOU OVER SOLELY FOR A PHONE VIOLATION.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Investigates Changing Rural America

Demographics are shifting in rural America. The changes are being highlighted in research and commonly referred to as the three “D’s” says Illinois Farm Bureau Senior Economist Mike Doherty.
 
 
Doherty says the research shows several trends coming into play across rural America.
 
 
Doherty says a changing demographic pattern can have a significant impact on things like voting districts and the labor market

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Durbin Critical of New GOP Healthcare Plan

Senator Dick Durbin wrapped up a week of recovery from a heart procedure at his Springfield home Sunday. Health care was very much on his mind, not only his own recovery but the new health care plan passed by the U.S. House.
 
 
Durbin says a couple of groups in particular will pay a price if the plan passes......
 

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UIS Administration, Faculty Reach Labor Agreement

After five days out of the classroom, University of Illinois-Springfield United Faculty (UISUF) reached a tentative agreement Sunday afternoon with University administration and suspended its strike. The deal was reached following three days of marathon bargaining sessions.


UIS United Faculty leaders expressed optimism about the future of faculty members’ relationship with University administration.


“We have negotiated a contract that will establish greater transparency going forward,” said Kristi Barnwell, Union Vice President and Associate Professor of History. “This is a step forward in bridging the gap between faculty members and administration.”


The final contract remains to be ratified by a vote of faculty before it can be put into effect. “We will call for a membership meeting and vote on the contract before the end of semester,” said Lynn Fisher, UIS United Faculty President and Associate Professor of Anthropology. 

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New e-News edition of dewittdailynews.com starts this Friday

The Miller Media Group is pleased to announce that its on-line daily newspaper dewittdailynews.com will launch a new e-news edition starting this Friday, May 12th.

The new dewittdailynews.com e-news will feature some of the week's most important local news and local sports stories from the WHOW/WEZC local news department, sent directly to your e-mail inbox every Friday.

To receive the new dewittdailynews.com e-news each week, simply click the "e-news" icon on the menu bar to be taken to a sign-up page.  Complete the form and hit "sign up."

There is no charge for signing up or receiving the dewittdailynews.com e-news each Friday.

The Miller Media Group's free on-line daily newspaper dewittdailynews.com has been informing local residents since January 2008.

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Fallen Police Officers Honored In Springfield This Week

HUNDREDS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS VISITED SPRINGFIELD THURSDAY TO REMEMBER THEIR FALLEN BROTHERS AND SISTERS. 
 
THE ANNUAL FALLEN POLICE OFFICER MEMORIAL RECOGNIZED THE FOUR OFFICERS WHO WERE KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY THIS YEAR. GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SPOKE AT THE SERVICE AND THANKED POLICE FAMILIES FOR THEIR SACRIFICE.
 
 
JANE MCMILLEN, WHO LOST HER SON, STATE TROOPER BRIAN MCMILLEN IN 2007,COMES EVERY YEAR AND FINDS COMFORT AMONG OTHER SURVIVING FAMILIES.
 
 
EIGHT OTHER OFFICERS FROM AS FAR BACK AT 1916 WERE ALSO HONORED AT THE CEREMONY. THEIR NAMES WILL BE ADDED TO THE MEMORIAL ON THE CAPITOL LAWN.

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Start Seeing Motorcycles Campaign Underway For 2017

MAY IS MOTORCYCLE AWARENESS MONTH AND MOTORISTS ARE URGED TO “START SEEING MOTORCYCLES.” 
 
MOTORCYCLES ACCOUNT FOR THREE PERCENT OF ALL VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS IN ILLINOIS…BUT RIDERS MAKE UP 15 PERCENT OF ALL TRAFFIC DEATHS. GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS AN AVID BIKER AND REMINDS THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO SHARE THE ROAD.
 
 
MOTORCYCLE ENTHUSIASTS WANT DRIVERS TO SLOW DOWN, KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR BIKERS AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD SAYS ABATE’S RYAN HUBBARD.
 
 
ILLINOIS STATE POLICE URGE MOTORCYCLISTS NOT TO DRINK AND RIDE…AND SAY DISTRACTED DRIVING IS A HUGE PROBLEM FOR BOTH BIKERS AND MOTORISTS.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a wet week across central Illinois. State Climotologist Jim Angel tells us what to expect this weekend and into next week.
 

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Senate Passes Automatic Voter Registration Bill

SENATE LAWMAKERS ARE ADVANCING A NEW AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION BILL.
 
SENATOR ANDY MANAR OF BUNKER HILL IS SPONSORING THE LEGISLATION, WHICH AUTOMATICALLY SIGNS UP VISITORS TO CERTAIN STATE AGENCIES TO VOTE. HE SAYS THIS WILL ONLY IMPROVE THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS.
 
 
MANAR SAYS IT’S A PROPOSAL THAT’S BEEN TWO YEARS IN THE MAKING.
 
 
THE HOUSE AND SENATE PASSED SIMILAR LEGISLATION LAST YEAR BUT IT WAS VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR OVER CONCERNS ABOUT POTENTIAL FRAUD. THE REVAMPED BILL NOW MOVES TO THE HOUSE.

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FDA to Address GMO Misinformation

Included in a budget deal to avert a government shutdown is funding for the Food and Drug Administration for consumer outreach and education regarding agricultural biotechnology. 
 
The money is to be used to tout “the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian impacts” of biotech crops and their final food products. 
 
The bill includes $3 million for the campaign, that comes after More than 50 agriculture and food industry groups had signed a letter last month urging the funding to counter “a tremendous amount of misinformation about agricultural biotechnology in the public domain.” 
 
It’s unclear what the FDA campaign will look like, or when it will launch. The $3 million allocated is little more than a speck in the FDA’s total allocated budget of $2.8 billion. 
 
The budget specifies only that the initiative be developed in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, and include the “publication and distribution of science-based educational information.”

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New Resources Available For Livestock Industry

A new resource now available for Illinois’ livestock industry. Laren Lurkins—the Director of Natural and Environmental Resources for the Illinois Farm Bureau is involved in the effort.
 
 
The resource guides are in three different versions--swine, beef and dairy.
 
 
Hard copies can been obtained through the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Milk Producers Association, Illinois Pork Producers or by contacting llurkins@ilfb.org.

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Potential High School CEO Program Perfectly Timed Opportunity

For several weeks on Regional Radio News, we've been highlighting the opportunity for Clinton High School students down the road to participate in a business elective course.
 
That type of opportunity has been one that has been explored for a few years within the district of what they would need to do to make it happen. Superintendent Curt Nettles says in the midst of their exploring, the Midland Institute came forward with a great opportunity for their students.
 
 
After meeting with High School Principal Jerry Wayne and then another with a few others from the community, Nettles says it was determined this was something they should begin to approach the community with.
 
 
Nettles says they are ready to move forward and start seeking out investors from the community. He explains that is what make the program unique in that the community invests in it to get it up and running.
 
 
Nettles hopes to get the drive started in getting local businesses on board with the program this summer and have it introduced to start the 2018-19 school year. 

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Congressman Davis Says New Healthcare Plan Helps Everyone

The US House yesterday passed a republican based healthcare plan and Congressman Rodney Davis believes it is going to be a true affordable care act.
 
The Congressman says the old plan left too many people with unaffordable coverage and left just as many without coverage. He says they had to change things.
 
 
A lot has been made by those on the opposite side of the isle as Davis that say seniors won't be covered under the new law but Davis says there are scenarios where retired seniors are returning to the workforce just so they can have healthcare coverage.
 
 
Davis believes one of the biggest problems with the current system is the lack of choice and competition. He says this new plan will create more options for people.
 
 
Davis supported the new healthcare law and says he won't stand for people to be under-insured or uninsured. 

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Social Security Highlighting Small Business Tools

It's small business week in Illinois and Social Security is reminding small business owners of some of the features they have that could help them.
 
Jack Myers with Social Security says their website is a great resource, which includes their 'Business Service Online' which allows small businesses to conduct business with Social Security online.
 
 
Additionally, Myers says you can submit W-2 reports online and notes for larger businesses, this is actually required for them to do it online. 
 
 
Myers indicates there's plenty more resources to check out at socialsecurity.gov. 

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Rose on Illinois Immigration Law

A proposal to require Illinois law enforcement not to cooperate with the Feds in the detaining of criminal illegal aliens is a step closer to becoming law. Ray Watt has the story...
 

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UIS, Professors Prepare To Return To Bargaining Table

It's day three of the University of Illinois-Springfield Professor strike and on the eve of renewed talks, Chancellor Susan Koch is making her first public comments since the walkout. Koch is hopeful next week's exams won't be impacted by the work stoppage.
 
 
Koch says reaching the first union contract with professors has an extra level of difficulty, but she's optimistic both sides will overcome that hurdle after 20 months of talks.
 
 
Some classes are continuing, while others are not. Koch says faculty and administrators have many values and issues in common and she hopes that comes through in this weekend's contract talks.

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Rauner Marks Small Business Week

Governor Bruce Rauner says when it comes to Illinois business, the best things come in small packages. 
 
On National Small Business Week, he is talking about the role of government in providing a good environment for small business to get bigger.
 
 
Rauner says Illinois is playing a losing card in the regulation game.
 
 
Rauner notes two out of every three jobs created in Illinois will come from small business. 

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Party Lines Vote By Illinois Reps To Repeal Obamacare

Republicans in Congress voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and in Illinois it was a party line vote. 
 
All seven Republican congressmen voted for repeal and 11 Democrats voted against, the effort passed 217-213. Republican Rodney Davis said in an email statement “We promised the American people we would do whatever necessary to fix our broken health care system and this bill is just the start.
 
Republican Governor Bruce Rauner who has stayed mostly on the sidelines of debate said in a released statement that the ACA was deeply flawed but the bill passed by the House is of deep concern because it did not address fundamental concerns about the bill's impact on the 650,000 individuals that are part of our Medicaid expansion population.

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Legislative Hearings Set For GOP Taxpayer Bargain

Legislative hearings are now scheduled in Springfield for a GOP budget plan called the “Taxpayer Bargain.” 
 
The sponsors are State Senators Kyle McCarter and Dan McConchie.
 
 
The package includes 18-different bills assigned to seven different committees. 

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Farmers May Not Like What They See On Their Tax Bill

Farmers will be opening up their tax bills around the state this summer and they’re probably not going to like what they see. Farmland market values have been declining, but assessed values will be increasing as will taxation says Brenda Matherly-- Assistant Director of Local Government for the Illinois Farm Bureau. 
 
 
Matherly says poorer producing soils look to be hardest hit.
 
 
Producers should be looking in the mail for their 2018 assessed values for farmland, which are certified and released by the Illinois Department of Revenue.

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Bustos Votes No On GOP Health Care Bill

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos a “no” vote on the GOP plan to replace Obamacare. 
 
 
Bustos spoke in opposition on the House floor Thursday. The bill narrowly passed 217-to-213 and now moves on to the Senate. 

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Relay For Life, Anderson Ford Teaming Up Friday

Drive a Ford vehicle and have a donation made to the DeWitt County Relay for Life Chapter.
 
It is as simple as that Friday at Anderson Ford in Clinton. Dean Carlson with Anderson Ford says stop by for a test drive of one of their Ford models from 9 am to 6 pm Friday and Ford will make a donation to DeWitt County Relay For Life. It's all part of the latest Drive One For Your Community event.
 
 
Crystal Sewell with the American Cancer Society and DeWitt County Relay For Life indicates the money raised from the event goes back to the Relay For Life DeWitt County event's total money raised, and that money then goes back to the American Cancer Society.
 
 
Carlson indicates the Drive One event basically shifted from a benefit for the Athletic Booster Club to Relay For Life thanks to the efforts of a Clinton Schools staffer.
 
 
Again the Drive One For Your Community event is from 9 am to 6 pm Friday at Anderson Ford in Clinton.
 
Relay For Life is the first weekend in June at Clinton High School. To learn more about Relay for Life in DeWitt County, visit relayforlife.org/dewitt. 

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Clinton Police Celebrate Retirement Of Long Time Community Servant

The community is invited out tomorrow (Friday) afternoon to help celebrate and recognize the long time service of a local police officer in Clinton.
 
Officer Bill Giese (right) is a 23-year veteran of the Clinton Police Department and Friday there will be an open house from 2 pm to 4 pm to celebrate his retirement. Chief Ben Lowers says Giese dates back to the days of former Chief  Mike Reidy and was his first hire at the Department.
 
 
Again, Officer Giese's open house will be at the Clinton Police Department on Friday from 2-4 p.m. 
 
Officer Giese has served as a patrolman, field training officer and the department’s detective from 1999-2010. 
 
Originally from Green Bay, WI, he is a veteran of the United States Air Force and has two sons, Alex and Cory.   

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DNR Clinton Lake Cleanup Day This Saturday

Last weekend's rains washed out a number of outside activities including a day dedicated to cleaning up Clinton Lake.
 
DNR officials organized a first time clean up of Clinton Lake. DNR Conservation officer, John Williamson says this was something that was needed for many years before they got it started last year.
 
 
DNR is asking for volunteers to come out to the Mascoutin State Recreation Area Saturday morning at around 9 am. Williamson says they will split up volunteers into groups and send them on their way. 
 
 
Volunteers will be served lunch as well. 
 
Williamson indicates there were tons of pounds of trash pulled up last year however, that was the first time they had cleaned up the shorelines in a very long time.
 
For more information about the clean up day at Clinton Lake, contact the DeWitt County DNR office at 217-935-6860. 

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Sublime, Blues Traveler Coming To State Fair

The Illinois State Fair has filled its last remaining date on the Grandstand calendar. On August 15th, Sublime with Rome will be joined by Blues Traveler. 
 
The Fair's Rebecca Clark says the show will offer no shortage of 90s nostalgia.
 
 
Clark notes the prices are a throwback too, although they might seem more like prices from the 70s.
 
 
Tickets are on sale now through www.ticketmaster.com or at the Fair box office.

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Private fundraising to fix Illinois fairgrounds set to begin

A private foundation pushed by Gov. Bruce Rauner is preparing to kick off a major fundraising effort to revamp Illinois' dilapidated fairgrounds.
 
Rauner announced the creation of the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation during last year's state fair, with the goal of raising enough money to repair crumbling buildings, deteriorating roadways, and aging sewer and electrical systems. The fairgrounds have also battled flooding during heavy rains.
 
The foundation will seek $185 million in private money and donations to pay for the projects. Chairman John Slayton says the group has raised $5,000 to $10,000 so far. He says the foundation hopes to see more donations now that the foundation's website is live and that it's also in talks to sell naming rights to buildings.

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Regulatory Commission Looking At Water Spray Valve Issue in LaSalle

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is still looking at an emergency water spray valve that was found to be bad during a LaSalle Station inspection two months ago. 
 
Senior Resident Inspector Robert Ruiz says other nuclear power plants have the same valve, so it’s important to know what went wrong.
 
 
Ruiz says every part that goes into a nuclear power plant is documented carefully.
 
 
There wasn’t a problem at LaSalle Station. The Unit 2 reactor was shut down for maintenance and refueling when the problem was found. 
 
So the inspections did what they were supposed to do by finding the bad part before it became a problem.

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Natural History Survey Monitoring Pest Traffic

Spring planting is not even complete and the Illinois Natural History Survey has already begun monitoring pest traffic for farmers. 
 
The first area of concern is cutworm moth and army worm moth activity says the agency’s Kelly Estes.
 
 
Estes serves as the agency’s State Survey Coordinator of the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program. She is based at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

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Farmers Watching Markets Just As Close As Weather

With spring planting stalled in much of Illinois due to recent heavy rains, farmers are directing their attention to numbers at the Chicago Board of Trade. 
 
Michael Zecher has acreage in Mercer, Rock Island and Henderson Counties. He was happy to see a nice rally in the grain markets on Monday.
 
 
Zecher says he saw as much as four inches of rain in different parts of his operation last weekend, but doesn’t anticipate any re-planting.

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Davis Joins Bustos in Celebration of FEMA Legislation

Legislation from GOP Congressman Rodney Davis and Quad Cities Democrat Cheri Bustos designed to bring fairness to FEMA's disaster declaration process has received unanimous support. Davis is weary of seeing rural communities in Illinois fighting a losing battle for federal disaster aid.
 
 
The legislation requires FEMA to give greater weight and consideration to the localized impact of a disaster when determining the need for federal assistance. 
 

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Warner Library Watching Federal Budgeting Process

 
A grant through the Federal Government could have devastating impacts on a local entity.
 
Warner Public Library is watching the federal budget as a grant they rely on for some of their services could be on the chopping block. Bobbi Perryman explains the grant allows them to send off books and DVDs and other items to other libraries across the state.
 
 
Perryman indicates the Library is committed to keeping the service of bring in and sending out items a free service but the cost would likely have to be made up in the areas of staffing. 
 
 
If you've benefited from the inter-library loan system and it is a service you'd like to see continue, Perryman is encouraging their patrons and the public to contact their federal legislators and ask them to save the IMLF. 

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Clinton Farmer's Market Opens This Weekend

The annual Clinton Area Farmers and Artisans Market will kick off their 2017 season this weekend on the downtown Clinton Square.
 
Elizabeth Burns indicates this year they hope to get more vendors involved to provide more availability and variety to the community. She says it is very easy to become a vendor for their market.
 
 
Vendors are local and Burns explains they hope to continue to keep their vendors local. She explains if you're a smaller  operation and you are trying to test the Farmers Market waters, Clinton might be a good place to start.
 
 
According to Burns, this year they hope some musicians might be willing to come to the square and provide some entertainment. She feels it's a great venue for local artists to come and be a part of.
 
 
The Farmers Market opens this Saturday morning at 8 am and will be on the Downtown Clinton Square each morning from 8 am to noon until October.
 
Burns reminds vendors who want to be a part of the Market during Apple and Pork weekend, they will need to be a part of one weekend before the big September market. 
 
To get more information, contact Burns by calling 217-722-2496 or stop by the Clinton Chamber of Commerce for more information. 

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More Rain Expected in Central Illinois

Many parts of Illinois are still trying to dry out, but they’ll have to wait a little longer. A lot of rain has passed through much of the state over the last several days, but more is on way for areas Peoria south says DTN Chief Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson.
 
 
Anderson says the farm belt has taken a serious hit over the last week with damage to fields from flooding, and other areas of the Midwest have suffered livestock losses from a powerful snow storm. 

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Farm Income Could See Slight Increase in 2017

Farm income could see a slight increase this year, compared to 2016. American Farm Bureau Federation chief economist Bob Young says it’s possible the farm economy hit bottom last year…
 
                   
 
He says there are many factors to watch during 2017 that could sway the market, but cautions that there won’t likely be much price movement for row crops…
 
                          
 
Young says the current price situation will be addressed during negotiations of the next farm bill…
 
                     
 
Despite record or near record crops in recent years, low prices have kept farm profit margins tight.  It looks like 2017 could be shaping up the same way.

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Illinois-Springfield Professors Strike

Professors at the University of Illinois at Springfield have taken to picket lines today after voting to strike last night. 
 
Kristie Barnwell, the Vice President of UIS United Faculty and Associate Professor of History discusses the core reasons for the strike.
 
 
It's not the central issue in the walkout but Barnwell says faculty types notice the higher ups are faring better on payday.
 
 
UIS Spokesman Derek Schnapp released a statement saying quote - “This is disappointing, but progress is being made in negotiations, and our campus will carry on in pursuit of our core mission”. 
 
The work to reach a satisfactory agreement must continue.” More talks are set for Friday.

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Davis Uses Constituent Feedback About Airlines

Congressman Rodney Davis asked constituents to share their experiences with the nation's airlines with customer service in the spotlight recently. 
 
Davis shared the feedback with the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee says the feedback was surprisingly positive, with plenty of room for improvement.
 
 
Davis has been critical of the airline industry’s willingness to improve customer service. 
 

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Illinois Gets Grant To Battle Impaired Driving

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS BEING AWARDED A GRANT TO HELP FIGHT IMPAIRED DRIVING. 
 
THE 20 THOUSAND DOLLARS COMES FROM THE GOVERNOR’S HIGHWAY SAFETY ASSOCIATION AND THE FOUNDATION FOR ADVANCING ALCOHOL RESPONSIBILITY. I-DOT SPOKESPERSON KELSEA GURSKI SAYS IT WILL BE USED TO TRAIN POLICE OFFICERS IN SPOTTING MOTORISTS DRIVING ON DRUGS.
 
 
THE GOVERNOR’S HIGHWAY SAFETY ASSOCIATION AND THE FOUNDATION FOR ADVANCING ALCOHOL RESPONSIBILITY IS FUNDING THE 20 THOUSAND DOLLAR GRANT.
 
 
THE MONEY WILL PAY FOR 10 CLASSES AT 10 LOCATIONS AROUND THE STATE FOR LOCAL COPS TO LEARN HOW TO SPOT DRUGGED DRIVERS, WHICH CAN BE HARDER TO IDENTIFY THAN DRUNK DRIVERS.

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Obamas to visit Chicago to discuss planned library, museum

CHICAGO - Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will visit Chicago for a community meeting to discuss their planned library and museum.
 
The Obamas will host a round table discussion Wednesday to "update the community" on the progress of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side. The Obamas are also expected to hear from community members on their ideas for the library.
 
New York-based Ralph Appelbaum Associates will head a team of several firms and individuals with expertise in media, lighting and acoustics in designing exhibits.
 
The Obama Foundation has said almost half of the exhibition design work for the museum will be performed by minority- and women-owned businesses.
 
The project is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

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New Mexican Restaurant Coming To Clinton

If you are a fan of Ted's Garage, then you'll want to be sure to check out a new restaurant coming to Clinton.
 
That's because Delfino Naxi, owner of Ted's in Clinton, is opening a new Mexican restaurant at the site of the former HRC West location off Route 54 in Clinton. Naxi says they will have a traditional dining area but he's also planning for a banquet room.
 
 
Naxi will tap into his Mexican heritage at the new restaurant. He feels Mexican cuisine is growing in popularity and hopes to tap into that.
 
 
The new location is essentially an office building and Naxi says there is a lot to do to prepare the inside but feels their contractor has a great vision for what it could be.
 
 
The new restaurant is going to be called "Cinco De Mayo" because Naxi says he wants every day to be a party. 

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Weekly Crop Report

CORN PLANTING SURGED AHEAD DESPITE PRODUCERS LOSING A FEW DAYS IN THE FIELDS TO HEAVY RAINS.
 
ONLY ABOUT THREE DAYS WERE SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK…BUT STATE CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSNER SAYS PLANTING IS MOVING ALONG.
 
 
13 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS HAVE BEEN PLANTED…AHEAD OF THE SIX PERCENT FIVE YEAR AVERAGE. THREE PERCENT OF SORGHUM AND 94 PERCENT OF OATS ARE NOW IN THE GROUND AND 67 PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED. 
 
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE INCREASED TO 42 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 58 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Weekend Rains Make April Second Wettest on Record

THANKS TO A WEEK OF HEAVY RAINS…LAST MONTH WAS THE SECOND WETTEST APRIL ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. 
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE PRECIPITATION FOR APRIL CAME IN AT ABOUT SEVEN INCHES, BUT SOME AREAS RECEIVED A LOT MORE…ESPECIALLY OVER THE LAST SEVEN DAYS SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL.
 
 
OTHER AREAS WITH BIG RECENT RAIN TOTALS INCLUDE KASKASKIA WITH NEARLY NINE INCHES…STEELEVILLE AND MURPHYSBORO WITH MORE THAN EIGHT AND A HALF INCHES AND CHESTER AND FLORA WITH OVER EIGHT INCHES.
 
 
ANGEL SAYS SMALLER RIVERS AND STREAMS REACT QUICKLY TO HEAVY RAINFALL, SO MOST OF THE ATTENTION NOW IS ON WHEN THE LARGER RIVERS WILL PEAK.

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State Basketball Tournament Could See Changes Over Several Years

The state basketball tournament could be undergoing some significant changes over the next several years. Jim Taylor reports...
 

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Small Business Week Highligted By Governor

IT’S SMALL BUSINESS WEEK IN ILLINOIS AND GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS THE STATE NEEDS TO CELEBRATE AND NURTURE SMALL COMPANIES.
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WORKING IN ILLINOIS ARE EMPLOYED BY SMALL BUSINESSES AND THAT TWO OUT OF THREE NEW JOBS ARE CREATED BY SMALL BUSINESSES. HE’S BEEN TRAVELING THE STATE TALKING TO EMPLOYERS AND HAS HEARD SOME OF THEIR CONCERNS. GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS HE’S PUSHING FOR A FREEZE ON PROPERTY TAXES, LEAVING IT UP TO THE VOTERS IN EACH COMMUNITY TO DECIDE IF TAXES SHOULD BE RAISED.
 
 
SMALL COMPANIES ARE THE BREAD AND BUTTER OF THE STATE WORKFORCE SAYS GOVERNOR RAUNER, CREATING TWO OUT OF THREE NEW JOBS. BUT ONE OF THE BIGGEST COMPLAINTS HE HEARS FROM EMPLOYERS IS ABOUT BUREAUCRACY.
 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS ARE ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT HIGH PROPERTY TAXES IN ILLINOIS.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Pleased With Response To NAFTA Status

An Illinois Farm Bureau official pleased with the organized response from the state’s ag community following President Trump’s threat to pull out of the North American Trade Agreement. 
 
IFB Director of Governmental Affairs and Commodities Mark Gebhards says Canada and Mexico are too important to Illinois corn and soybean producers.
 
 
Gebhards says it’s important for the Illinois Farm Bureau to deliver the message from farm country to Illinois’ congressional delegation, especially when key policy decisions are being made on things like a 2018 Farm Bill, tax reform and regulatory reform. 

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City of Clinton Announces Summer Concert Series

Fans of up and coming country performers will want to mark their calendars for a trio of dates in Clinton this summer for names like Sundance Head and Emily Ann Roberts who are coming to the downtown Clinton Square.
 
At the Monday night Clinton City Council meeting, City Attorney Steve Myers announced the summer concert series on Center and Main. The series kicks off with Sundance Head to perform June 17. He was the winner of last season's 'The Voice' on NBC.
 
 
A tough act to book was Brooke Eden. Myers explains she has toured with the likes of Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line but she will be in Clinton August 19, to be opened by Old Smoke.
 
 
The City will do something new in 2017. Myers says thanks to the generosity of Exelon, they will be able to bring two national acts to the square. Emily Ann Roberts and Adam Craig will be in Clinton together on September 2. 
 
 
Snappers Bar and Grill will host Brushville again in Clinton on July 29. 
 
Once again in 2017, attendance to the concerts will be free. 

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Spring Gardening Time Getting Closer

If you've been itching to get that annual produce in the ground and have been waiting for the thumbs up from somewhere, University of Illinois Extension horticulturalist, Candice Miller says, go ahead.
 
She says at this point in the spring, it is all about personal preference whether you want to plant that produce, though she warns be careful as the nights are still getting somewhat cool.
 
 
Miller indicates if you planted a cool season vegetable it is probably doing really well right now. She says the cool wet weather of the past few days has helped a lot.
 
 
If you're looking for an alternate way of gardening this summer, the University of Illinois Extension office has another seminar tonight in DeWitt County. Miller says they are focusing on different ways of gardening if you don't have a traditional garden.
 
 
That seminar is Tuesday night from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Clinton U of I Extension office. Get more information online or by calling 217-935-5764. 

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Weekend Storm Not As Strong As Expected

The Big Red Barn in Clinton received 2.5 inches of rain, in line with several parts of the area after heavy and steady weekend rains soaked central Illinois.
 
Reported rainfall totals in DeWitt County were at around 1.3 inches near Farmer City and just shy of 1.5 inches at the DeWitt-McLean County line from Saturday. 
 
Sunday, totals were between .25-.3 inches in the same locations.
 
DeWitt County EMA officials indicate there was minimal flooding, most notably though in the Seven Hills Road and Gash Bridge Road area. Officials say flooding there is was expected. 
 
Additionally, there were sporadic power outages but none reported to CENCOM nor Ameren and a live power line was down, but quickly dealt with by Wapella Fire Department and Ameren.
 
EMA Officials in Piatt County reported minor flooding in farm fields and a few trees down, one at Allerton Park. 
 
Piatt County reported just short of two-inches of rain near Monticello Saturday then between 2.2 and 2.3 inches south of Cisco. Near DeLand and White Heath Saturday, reports were between 2.15 and 2.2 inches of rain.
 
Far southern Piatt County had a report of 1.83-inches of rainfall.
 
Reports of rainfall across Piatt County Sunday were between .2 and .3 inches, however, far southern Piatt County had a report of just short of a half inch of rain.
 
Rainfall totals are from cocorahs.org. 

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CCEF Looking Forward To Second Derby Day

It's still not too late for you to get your ticket to the annual Clinton Community Education Foundation's annual Derby Day event this weekend.
 
This Saturday's event is the second year for the CCEF fundraiser centered around the annual running of the Kentucky Derby. Ruth Lowers explains they open the doors to the Clinton Country Club at 4 pm with the race to run at 5:30 pm.
 
 
According to Lowers, fundraisers like their Derby Day help to bring more opportunities to the district's classrooms. She explains they try to bridge the gap between what the school can provide and what the classrooms need.
 
 
The Saturday Derby Day Fundraiser is at the Clinton Country Club with doors opening at 4 pm.
 
Get tickets and other information at clintonedfoundation.org. 

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Clinton Schools Leader Frustrated By Continued Lack of Action From Springfield

The pawn between the Governor and the Speaker of the House is how Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles describes education in Illinois.
 
The schools leader says there is a flat out failure by lawmakers to pass a budget. He feels their jobs are not getting done and education is caught in the middle.
 
 
 While there are many pawns in the game of chess between the Speaker and Governor, Nettles says the last thing lawmakers want is come late August, there not being a budget in place and some districts having to close their doors because they cannot afford to operate.
 
 
Should the State of Illinois not pass a budget by the summer months, Nettles says Clinton schools will be able to open but it is frustrating taxpayers in this community are forced to fund most of the school's budget yet school leaders are bound by regulations in place from Illinois.
 
 
The business office is always checking up on the status of the school's finances making sure everything is in order. With the fiscal year starting to wind down, the budget will be amended in the coming months to reflect the school's actual expenditures and revenues. 

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Durbin Blasts Republican Appeal on Affordable Care Act

Senator Dick Durbin is on the attack against renewed Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Durbin says the new repeal effort has some wrinkles that rub him the wrong way.
 
 
Durbin says other changes would impact Americans with a bumpy health history...
 
 
Durbin says the repeal plan would mean the loss of health care coverage for 24 million Americans and $840 billion in federal Medicaid funding would be lost. 
 
Durbin says the updated Republican repeal bill is opposed by top health care associations, including the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, the American Nurses Association, and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). 

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