Local News

Clinton YMCA Ready To Roll Out Latest Strategic Plan

Plans for revenue to facilities are just a few of the areas a new roadmap for the future covers for a local non-profit.
 
The Clinton YMCA has been working for much of the year on updating their strategic plan and Executive Director Rennie Cluver says they are ready to unveil that plan in August.
 
 
The latest strategic plan for the YMCA recently expired and Cluver points out, he was on the last planning committee. As Director he wanted to bring tangible goals to the newest plan.
 
 
According to Cluver, the effectiveness of their programs has been a goal of his since he took over as the director and that vision is in the latest strategic plan update.
 
 
Facilities will also be a big emphasis of the YMCA. Cluver calls it an investment in themselves.
 
 
Cluver says the plan is for three years but it will be updated. He calls it a living document. 

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DNR Officials Report Increase of OUIs on Clinton Lake

Operating under the influence citations are up on Clinton Lake so far this summer.
 
That is the message from the Department of Natural Resources and Officer John Williamson notes the boating season has been a good one so far. He says they haven't had any major injuries and people are migrating to parts of the lake that fit the weather.
 
 
Clinton Lake is fortunate to not have had any major accidents because Williamson points out operating under the influence citations are up this year. He encourages boaters who want to enjoy alcohol on the lake, always take a designated operator.
 
 
Williamson says dealing with a OUI is similar to dealing with a drunk driver. He notes OUI laws are very similar to DUI laws.
 
 
OUI violations do not impact a boaters drivers license unless there is serious injury or fatality.
 
He continues to remind boaters to practice safety while in your boat. He points out he's seen some pretty reckless practices lately. 

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Mild Week Ahead

Last week was wet and mild in central Illinois, and we can expect more mild weather, at least early this week, according to climotologist Jim Angel.
 

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Solar Eclipse Safety Tips

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS OFFERING SOME TIPS FOR SAFELY VIEWING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE NEXT MONTH.
 
IT’S A RARE EVENT YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS ON AUGUST 21ST, BUT YOU DO NEED TO TAKE SOME PRECAUTIONS SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MELANEY ARNOLD.
 
 
IT’S IMPORTANT TO USE SPECIALLY MADE ECLIPSE GLASSES OR SOLAR VIEWERS SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MELANEY ARNOLD.
 
 
ARNOLD SAYS HOMEMADE FILTERS AND REGULAR SUNGLASSES ARE NOT SAFE FOR LOOKING AT THE SUN.
 
THE ECLIPSE WILL TAKE PLACE ON MONDAY, AUGUST 21ST STARTING SHORTLY BEFORE NOON AND LASTING UNTIL 2:45 P.M. THE TOTAL ECLIPSE WILL BE VISIBLE IN PARTS OF SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. RESIDENTS IN CENTRAL AND NORTHERN ILLINOIS WILL SEE A PARTIAL ECLIPSE.

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FDA Reauthorization Includes Bill to Fight Pediatric Cancer

One local lawmaker cosponsored a bill to ensure research on adult cancer drugs for pediatric use.
 
Congressman Davis has fought to make pediatric cancer a national priority. Davis believes that pediatric cancer should have bipartisan support in order to help researchers develop drugs to help children survive their battle with cancer.
 
 
Advances in cancer research has moved away from chemotherapy to molecular targeted treatments, which target specific genes and proteins. The RACE for Children Act updates the law to ensure these medical advances are researched for pediatric cancer.

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LaHood Calls For Congress To Work Together

Early this morning the vote to repeal the affordable care act fell a vote short in the US Senate. The move deals Republican lawmakers who ran on repeal and replace a blow to campaign promises that were made. 
 
Illinois Republican Congressman Darin LaHood says he watched last night and feels as if there is still unfinished business on the heath care front. 
 
 
LaHood says he watched the vote unfold early in the morning. 
 
 
LaHood adds that there is still unfinished business on the heath care front and now Republicans and Democrats might be forced to work together to fix problems with the ACA.
 
LaHood noted Senator John McCain is the ultimate maverick and remained so with his deciding vote.

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Treasurer Frerichs Joins Voices in Fight Against Heroin Epidemic

THREE STATE TREASURERS, INCLUDING ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS ARE REQUESTING THE MCKESSON CORPORATION TO HELP FIGHT THE U-S HEROIN EPIDEMIC. 
 
MCKESSON IS ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S LARGEST DRUG DISTRIBUTOR, AND TREASURER FRERICHS WANTS THE COMPANY TO DO MORE TO PREVENT DRUG ABUSE.
 
 
THE TREASURERS CALL ON MCKESSON TO TAKE SEVERAL STEPS INCLUDING TYING EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION TO PROGRESS IN COMBATING THE OPIOD EPIDEMIC. IF THEY DON’T…FRERICHS SAYS THE STATE WILL RECONSIDER INVESTMENTS IN THE COMPANY.

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June 2017 Unemployment Rates for Central Illinois

The unemployment rate in DeWitt, Logan, McLean, Macon, and Piatt counties went up from May 2017 to June 2017.
 
DeWitt County went up from 4.1 percent in May to 4.4 percent unemployment. 
 
Logan County's change over the month was .7 percent, going from 4.2 to 4.9.
 
McLean and Piatt counties both went up .6 percent.
 
Champaign County went up .8 percent from 4.0 to 4.8.
 
And Macon County went from 5.0 to 5.9 percent.
 
Overall, the state of Illinois' unemployment rate went up .7 percent from May 2017 to June 2017 from 4.3 percent to 5 percent. However, it dropped a full percent from June 2016.

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Congressman Davis Hosts Outreach Events

Congressman Rodney Davis will be hosting several constituent outreach events within the upcoming weeks.
 
Davis recently hosted a tele-town hall while working in Washington. Davis has also made time for open office hours to hear concerns from his constituents.
 
Davis encourages constituents to take advantage of staff traveling help desks while Congress is in session. Davis' staff help constituents in need of assistance with a federal agency or are there to discuss policy issues.
 
For more information on upcoming constituent outreach events visit rodneydavis.house.gov or call his Decatur office at 217-791-6224.

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Clinton Travel Baseball Holding Tryouts This Weekend

Baseball players 12 years old and under are encouraged to try out with the Central Illinois Revolution this weekend.
 
The travel program has set a tryout date of Sunday at 2 pm at Clinton High School's JV field.
 
The tryout is for the spring and summer 2018 season.
 
For more information, contact Nate Ennis at 217-433-2174.

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Sen. Rose Blasts Senate Democrats

State Senator Chapin Rose calls the Democrats antics with Senate Bill 1 ridiculous.
 
He points out they have held on to the legislation for almost 60 days since it has passed.
 
 
Sen. Rose believes Democrats are scared of the amendatory vetoes the Governor would bring forward. 
 
 
Senate President John Cullerton is withholding Senate Bill 1 in hopes the Governor would meet with him to negotiate. The Governor has refused however, Cullerton says he will send the Bill to Rauner's office Monday. 

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Peoria Republican Backs Governor Rauner

Legislative limbo for school funding reform and payment limbo for local schools. 
 
A special session has resulted in very little progress in Springfield, but State Senator Chuck Weaver of Peoria is siding with the Governor—who is awaiting Senate Bill 1 to reach his desk so he can veto the measure because it includes hundreds-of-millions of dollars for Chicago teacher pensions.
 
 
Lawmakers are scheduled to meet today and Monday. 

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Rauner Signs Law Preventing Lawmaker Raises, Per Diem Increases

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS SIGNING A NEW LAW PREVENTING LEGISLATIVE PAY RAISES AND PER DIEM RATE INCREASES.
 
THE MEASURE STOPS COST OF LIVING INCREASES FOR LAWMAKERS AND WAS WIDELY SUPPORTED BY MEMBERS OF BOTH PARITIES SAYS GOVERNOR RAUNER. ADDITIONALLY…
 
 
THE LAW KEEPS LEGISLATOR PER DIEM RATES AT 111 DOLLARS PER SESSION DAY AND MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT AT 39 CENTS PER MILE.

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Treasurer's Office Holding Live Unclaimed Property Auction at State Fair

UNIQUE COLLECTABLES WILL BE UP FOR GRABS AT TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS’S LIVE AUCTION AT THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIR THIS YEAR. 
 
THE TREASURER’S OFFICE REGULARLY AUCTIONS OFF UNCLAIMED PROPERTY ONLINE…BUT WILL HOLD A LIVE VERSION AT THE FAIR ON AUGUST 19TH FROM NINE A-M TO NOON. TREASURER FRERICHS SAYS THERE WILL BE PLENTY OF NEAT ITEMS.
 
 
THE AUCTION WILL BE HELD FROM NINE A-M TO NOON ON THE LINCOLN STAGE. YOU CAN PREVIEW THE SALE ITEMS AT THE STATE CAPITOL ON AUGUST EIGHTH.

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Warner Hospital Rolls Out Full 3-D Mammography Service

The full service 3-D mammography is at Warner Hospital and Health Services.
 
CEO Paul Skowron explains they have done a full remodel of their imaging area and officially rolled out the 3-D imaging earlier this month.
 
 
The benefits of 3-D mammography provides better imaging and better results. According to Skowron, the insurance companies have come around on the service in recent years as well.
 
 
Skowron is thrilled to have the out-patient service in Clinton. He says it brings them in line with area hospitals and their ability to keep up with technology.
 
 
Skowron points out they have already 64 procedures and 10 from out of the area. He says it doubles their regular monthly procedures. 

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Local Data Drives Decisions For Area Agency

This week, Community Action continued their strategic planning by inviting community members to be a part of a focus group.
 
That focus group is vital to the plans that will be laid in August according to Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez. She explains the focus group has proven to be a benefit to everyone.
 
 
With the conclusion of the focus group, Rumler-Gomez indicates the next step is for their staff to get together, analyze everything they have gathered and form the plan for the several years.
 
 
In August, Community Action Staff will gather at Allerton Park in Monticello to work in depth on the strategic plan.  
 
To learn more about Community Action and the services they provide, look them up online at capcil.info or contact them at 217-732-2159. 

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Rauner Asks For Cullerton's Homework

The special session lasted just a few minutes on Thursday at the Illinois Senate. 
The session was meant to move to an education funding bill to the Governor but it resulted in little action. This continues to the draw the ire of Governor Bruce Rauner who says Senate President John Cullerton needs to move the bill to his desk now and no one gains anything by waiting until Monday.
 
 
Cullerton still says he he’d like to meet first with the Governor but that’s not going to happen. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says they can begin telling Democrats what they want to change after the veto has gone through.

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Solving Food Desert Issue

They call them “food deserts” and many small communities throughout Illinois are facing the challenge. 
 
That’s where a food co-op may be able to solve the problem says Sean Park—who leads the Illinois Cooperative Development Center. He says having a grocery store in your town is an important quality of life issue.
 
 
Park is currently involved in the planning process for a co-op in Winchester in west central Illinois.
 
 
The Illinois Cooperative Development Center falls under the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University. 

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Illinois Removes State Fair Ride In Wake of Ohio Tragedy

The investigation of a deadly amusement ride accident at the Ohio State Fair has led to Illinois Labor Department and Agriculture officials to give a ride the boot before next month's state fair kicks off. 
 
Ag spokeswoman Rebecca Clark has more:
 
 
Clark notes the Illinois State Fair goes to great lengths to ensure ride safety.
 
 
The Department of Labor is shutting down eleven other similar rides across the state. 

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Governor Bristles At Meeting Before Using Veto Powers

The Governor is still waiting for an education funding bill to be sent to him and that leaves little for lawmakers to do during a second day of a special session.
 
Republican Bruce Rauner says it’s the Democrats playing games with the future of opening schools on time on the line. Democrat Senate President John Cullerton says if the Governor would just be open about what changes he’d make in SB1 then the process could move quickly towards finding a compromise. Rauner counters a Governor doesn’t have to negotiate parts of his amendatory veto powers. 
 
 
Cullerton says the bill will be sent to the Governor on Monday.

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Gas Prices Up From Year Ago

The demand in both the gas and diesel markets remains strong this summer. 
The average price for gasoline in Illinois is $2.32 a gallon compared to $2.15 the same time a year ago, according to Triple-A numbers. GROWMARK’s Harry Cooney says crude oil production is also up in the US.
 
 
Chicago currently has the highest average price at the pump in Illinois at $2.68 a gallon. The lowest average price is $2.11 in Champaign. 
 
Diesel prices are averaging $2.40 a gallon in Illinois compared to $2.32 a year ago. 

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Durbin Calls For Senate To Get Back To Roots in Health Care Debate

After back to back defeats for Republicans hoping to repeal Obamacare, Senator Dick Durbin said it's time to get back to basics. He called on Republicans to work in a bipartisan, public manner to strengthen the health care law.
 
 
Durbin said Senate Republicans are avoiding traditional Senate procedures and crafting an ever-changing health care repeal bill behind closed doors with no input from health care experts, providers, patient groups, or the American public. 

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DeWitt County Board Updates County Social Media Policy

Social media can be a controversial world and has time after time cost many people dearly.
 
The DeWitt County Board recently took action to update the County's social media policy. DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg notes a the update is much needed in the county.
 
 
According to Newberg, the issue is more about what content is appropriate for social media from an employee perspective. He notes this is a policy that will have to updated as social media continues to evolve.
 
 
The DeWitt County Board approved the policy change at their Board meeting last Thursday night. 

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Cerro Gordo Schools Leader In Favor of More State Dollars

When it comes to a revamped school funding formula in Illinois, one area school leader says he's in favor of more dollars coming to his district.
 
Illinois lawmakers are in special session this week as the legislature faces an August 1 deadline to pass a funding reform proposal or make schools wait for payments until an agreement is reached.
 
Cerro Gordo Schools Superintendent Brett Robinson says whether it's Senate Bill 1 or the Governor's reform package, he's simply in favor of more dollars coming into his district.
 
 
Robinson says reforms are much needed across the state. He explains his district would receive more state dollars, which would be a good thing from his perspective.
 
 
Should lawmakers not reach an agreement and the first day of school rolls around without an agreement, Robinson indicates Cerro Gordo schools would be able to take students for a while but not a long time.
 
 
Robinson credits the Board of Education with the effective handling of the school's finances and feels they are in a good place, especially compared to other districts in the state. 

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Sen. Brady Echoes Governor's Claims

One local lawmaker is backing the claims of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
 
Rauner says democrats are playing games with students and schools in Illinois. Senate Minority leader Bill Brady is calling on Democrats to end the political games and echoes the Governor's words from Wednesday.
 
 
Wednesday, Senate President John Cullerton said he would withhold sending Senate Bill 1 to the Governor until Monday. Lawmakers were in Springfield Wednesday for a special session called by the Governor to hash out a reform of education funding in Illinois.
 
Money is appropriated for schools but not until the legislature comes up with a new funding formula for schools.
 
Schools begin receiving fiscal year 18 revenue from the state in August. 

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Rep. Brady Wants Leaders To Meet To Discuss School Funding Reforms

A local lawmaker is calling for leaders on both sides of the aisle to get together and hash out a school funding formula.
 
State Representative Dan Brady encouraged both sides to go to their leaders and have a discussion about how to resolve the impasse on SB1.   
 
 
Illinois lawmakers held their first in a series of special sessions in Springfield Wednesday to address school funding reform.  
 
While there is money in the budget for K-12 education, none of it will be doled out to schools until a new school aid formula is enacted.  The General Assembly approved Senate Bill 1 in May to revise the funding formula, but never sent it to Governor Rauner.   
 
Rauner says he will rewrite the bill using his amendatory veto powers because he said it unfairly benefits Chicago schools.

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Manar Claims Rauner Refused To Meet

Democrats and Republicans continue the fight on where Senate Bill 1 is heading. Govenor Bruce Rauner said Wednesday that House Speaker Michael Madigan is using local school districts as a pawn in the game to get the education funding reform plan into law. 
 
48th District State Senator and co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1 Andy Manar says that’s not true, and he has no idea what the governor’s plan is for school funding. He says he has made many requests for meetings with Rauner leading up to the special session that started Wednesday. 
 
 
Rauner says Speaker Madigan inserted the Chicago pension payment into the bill at the last minute, and it takes money away from other local school districts. 
 
Manar says he wants to hear the governor’s plans for the bill so the two sides can reach a compromise on the bill.
 

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Governor Says Democrats Playing Games With Students, Schools

Governor Bruce Rauner is sticking to well worn talking points about an education funding reform plan that he wants to veto parts of.
 
Gov. Rauner says waiting till Monday to get the bill on his desk is only a ploy of Speaker Mike Madigan’s majority to create crisis and scare teachers and students. 
 
 
Senate President Cullerton says he wants to meet before the Governor veto’s part of the bill so he can learn what the Governor intends to change. Cullerton says that’s how a compromise can be reached but according to Cullerton the Governor has refused to meet or tell him what he wants to change.

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Davis Recognizes Need for Tax Reform

President Trump recognized last week as "Made in America Week" and hosted products from all fifty states on the South Lawn of the White House.
 
Congressman Rodney Davis sees a need to reform the tax code in order to put American workers and businesses first. Davis wants to lower taxes for the middle class due to rising healthcare costs.
 
 
Congressman Davis hopes that his colleagues across the aisle will work alongside him and fellow Republicans to help fix the tax code in a bipartisan way.
 
 
Davis says Republicans in Congress are working to overhaul the tax code which will get rid of the "Made in America" tax and the "Death Tax", while lowering tax rates on all incomes.
 

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Cities Will See Less Tax Revenue After State Law Change

A new law tucked into the state’s package of budget bills is going to take tax money away from local communities that they have come to rely on. 
 
The state is now charging a two percent fee to collect local sales tax. State wide sales tax is six and half percent; on top of that cities are able to place their own sales taxes. Now the state is going to charge local governments two percent of that total as a collection fee. 
 
Bill McCarty says in all the state is expected to keep close to $60 million but he doubts that it’s only to cover state expenses.
 
 
McCarty says the fee has never been collected before and its impact will be compounded by another change. The state is going to hold ten percent of all municipalities’ local government distributive funds. But the state says that will only happen for 1 year. 

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Rep. Brady Wants Leaders To Meet To Discuss School Funding Reforms

A local lawmaker is calling for leaders on both sides of the isle to get together and hash out a school funding formula.
 
State Representative Dan Brady encouraged both sides to go to their leaders and have a discussion about how to resolve the impasse on SB1.   
 
 
Illinois lawmakers held their first in a series of special sessions in Springfield Wednesday to address school funding reform.  
 
While there is money in the budget for K-12 education, none of it will be doled out to schools until a new school aid formula is enacted.  The General Assembly approved Senate Bill 1 in May to revise the funding formula, but never sent it to Governor Rauner.   
 
Rauner says he will rewrite the bill using his amendatory veto powers because he said it unfairly benefits Chicago schools.

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School Funding Bill Put Off Until Monday

A special session is underway at the State House but little has been accomplished. 
 
And that’s because of the Governor according to Senate President John Cullerton. The Senate President says today he asked Bruce Rauner personally for a meeting about education funding reforms in Illinois and the Governor flat out refused. 
 
Cullerton says a meeting is important so he and others can find out just how the Governor plans to use an amendatory veto but that won’t be happening. 
 
 
Cullerton says he told the Governor not to worry that Speaker Mike Madigan wouldn’t be at the meeting and that he could bring anyone he wanted. 
 
Even without the meeting, Cullerton has promised to get the bill to the Governor’s desk on Monday. 

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Clinton Rotary Club Hears About Wind Farms

Windfarms have been a hot topic in local news recently.
 
McLean County is now home to a windfarm and Macon County's windfarm project continues on this summer with a completion date of the end of the year. 
 
Tuesday afternoon the Clinton Rotary Club heard from a group hoping to develop a windfarm in DeWitt County. Tom Swierczewski (swear-chess-key) is the Development Director for Tradewind Energy and explains the DeWitt County project is already almost a decade old.
 
 
According to Swierczewski, they hope to obtain their permit from DeWitt County and begin construction next year in the fall. He notes completion would be around 2019 in the best case scenario.
 
 
A windfarm would benefit almost all the taxing bodies of the county along with provide around 15 jobs. Swierczewski says they would be 15 good paying jobs.
 
 
Swierczewski adds Illinois is the only state they deal with where they pay more in property taxes than property rent.
 
He explains they have to do a lot of research in deciding where to place their wind turbines. The DeWitt County Board recently approved zoning permits for meteorological towers to determine the feasibility for the towers.
 
 
The company also does not deal power directly to the grid. Swierczewski explains they traditionally will contract with an entity or utility. 
 
 
Sciewczewski adds they are not the company building the wind farm in Macon County, in fact Trade Wind Energy is the competition of E. ON Energy, the company heading the project in Macon County. 

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Community Action Hosting DeWitt County Focus Group

Community residents of every type are invited to join with a local non-profit agency this week and help shape the path of their organization.
 
Community Action is hosting a focus group Thursday afternoon in hopes of getting a fresh perspective of the community needs. Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez says they are seeking community members, leaders and business owners to join them.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez says getting a good turnout for the focus groups is often a challenge and is hoping anyone interested will contact her to be a part of the process.
 
 
The focus groups are very important to the yearly strategic planning process for Community Action. Rumler-Gomez indicates it is a culmination of a lot of research they do throughout the first half of the year.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez says the focus group not only provides them with great information and insight, but it can be an introduction to Community Action for a lot of people. She adds you don't have to be involved in Community Action to participate.
 
To learn how to participate in the focus group set for Thursday, contact Rumler-Gomez by calling 217-732-2159. 

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USDA Rural Development Lead Comments on Priorities

The Department of Agriculture’s rural development lead says USDA is seeking to create an environment where rural America can prosper.
 
Ann Hazlett oversees the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business Service, and the Rural Housing Service. She was appointed to the newly created position of Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development last month.
 
The appointment is part of a restructuring plan that eliminates the undersecretary position for rural development, a plan that’s met some opposition. USDA says the move allows for an increased emphasis on Rural Development that’s needed in the face of economic difficulties in rural communities.
 
An Indiana native, Hazlett has worked on agriculture and rural issues for more than fifteen years. She says there are many challenges in rural America that USDA will examine…
 
 
Another priority for rural development is delivering broadband internet to rural areas, which USDA considers a necessity…
 
 
Hazlett is a graduate of Kansas State University and before her role at USDA served as Chief Counsel to the majority on the Senate Agriculture Committee. By removing the undersecretary position and putting rural programs under an appointed position, Hazlett was able to start work immediately at USDA.
 
Other divisions of USDA that are overseen by an undersecretary are awaiting new leadership. Currrent American Soybean Association CEO Stephen Censky was nominated by President Trump to serve as the USDA deputy secretary. President Trump has also nominated Ted McKinney for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and Sam Clovis for Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.

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Democrats Want Meeting, Not Special Session

It’s a special summer at the Illinois State House. 
 
Another special session is getting underway on Wednesday. Governor Bruce Rauner has called lawmakers back to town in order to get an education funding bill to his desk so he can veto parts of it. 
 
The bill in question, Senate Bill 1, is largely the work of Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill, says he doesn’t need to be back in a special session to solve any differences, he wants the Governor’s office to be transparent and offer up room to compromise.
 
 
Manar says that there is no need for the expense or showcase of a special session. All the Governor needs to do is return to the table with the legislative leaders and make public what he wants changed in SB1.
 
 
Manar says he wants to meet and then take those requests back to the majority in the Senate.

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Class Action Lawsuit Aimed at Monsanto Over Dicamba Spraying

A lawsuit filed last week accuses Monsanto sales representatives of secretly giving farmers assurances of using “off label” methods for a dicamba herbicide formulation. 
 
The St Louis Post-Dispatch reports the lawsuit claims: “This was Monsanto’s real plan: publicly appear as if it were complying, while allowing its seed representatives to tell farmers the opposite in person.” 
 
A Tennessee weed management expert, Larry Steckel, says in the suit that “it’s almost impossible” to follow label directions for dicamba-based herbicides, given the recent changes that have surfaced over drift allegations. 
Formulations were changed to dicamba-based herbicides following an outbreak of drift incidents last year to reduce volatility and drift. However, those changes have not seemed to slow reports of drifts problems in 2017. 
 
The suit says the defendants “actually benefit” from rampant drift, because it pressures farmers to adopt dicamba-tolerant seed to avoid damage. 
 
Monsanto and BASF indicated to the Post-Dispatch that they were aware of the suit but declined to comment on specific allegations. Both companies cited their efforts to educate growers about correct application of dicamba.

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Congress Reverses Waterway Cuts But Doesn't Provide Funding

House and Senate appropriators have reversed the president’s proposed cuts to Army Corps inland waterways funding, but still provide no money to modernize critical locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
 
The good news is a reversal of a 17 percent cut the White House proposed to the Army Corps' civil works budget, and full-use of Inland Waterways Trust Fund annual revenues, boosted by higher barge diesel taxes.
 
Waterways Council Senior Vice-President Debra Calhoun says the downside is a continued lack of planning and design money for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program...
 
 
Calhoun says the Upper Miss and Illinois River locks modernization is part of the Army Corps’ priority projects list, and the Trump Administration wants to speed up NESP work from a scheduled 25 years, to 10 years. But Calhoun says there’s a political problem…
 
 
Calhoun argues the Upper Mississippi locks have far outlived their 50-year design-life. Many were built in the 1930s and cannot accommodate longer modern barges that need to be separated to get through the ancient locks.
 
Congress authorized modern new locks on the Upper Miss and Illinois Rivers in 2007, but actual funding was never provided.

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Christian County Among Farm Bureaus With New Presidents

County Farm Bureau presidents are gathering this week in Bloomington. There are several new ones—including Pat Wolf of Christian County.
 
 
Brent Ford of Wabash County and Sangamon County and Pulaski/Alexander County Farm Bureaus also have new presidents. All are receiving training this week at the Illinois Farm Bureau headquarters in Bloomington. 

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Another Challenger Emerges For Rodney Davis

A new name in the running for the Democratic nomination in the state’s 13th Congressional District. 
 
A third democrat, Erik Jones announced on Monday that he wants the seat. 
Jones is an Edwardsville lawyer who has a background in government. Jones previously was an investigative counsel for the US House Committee on Oversight and the US Senate’s Commerce Committee. 
 
Jones is now in an increasingly crowded field of Democrats in the primary. He joins perpetual candidate Dr. David Gill and Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. 
 
The 13th is currently represented by Republican Rodney Davis of Taylorville.

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Local Lawmaker Discusses School Funding Ahead of Special Session

With lawmakers to convene in Springfield until a new school funding formula is passed, a local lawmaker is calling out area lawmakers to do the right thing.
 
State Sen. Chapin Rose says Democratic downstate lawmakers have the opportunity to vote for what is best for their home districts or side with Mike Madigan and do what is best for Chicago. 
 
 
According to Sen. Rose, every district in downstate Illinois does better under the Governor's plan as opposed to Senate Bill 1. 
 
 
Sen. Rose had strong words for downstate lawmakers that would side with Speaker Madigan on the funding reform proposal.
 
 
Legislation was not on the Governor's desk by noon Monday so lawmakers will convene Wednesday for special session until a funding formula is passed. 

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Congressman Davis Awaits Senate's Repeal Vote of ACA

US Congressman Rodney Davis says the US House of Representatives has done their job and now it's time for the US Senate to do theirs in taking a repeal vote of the affordable care act.
 
Congressman Davis says the healthcare system needs to be fixed and lawmakers have worked with the President to get a new plan in place. He indicates he awaits the Senate's vote this week.
 
 
There has been a lot made in the national news media about the lack of support from Republicans on the health care bill and Congressman Davis it is basically a difference of opinion in the party.
 
 
The Senate is expected to vote on the repeal of the ACA this week. Congressman Davis is hopeful the Senate will work with the House in an effort to reform the system. 

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Weekly Crop Report

IT WAS A HOT WEEK FOR ILLINOIS CROPS AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT.
 
TEMPERATURES AND RAIN WAS ABOVE NORMAL THIS PAST WEEK, AND FIVE DAYS WERE SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
77 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE BLOOMING AND 33 PERCENT ARE SETTING PODS. 
 
 
30 PERCENT OF SORGHUM HAS HEADED AND THE SECOND CUTTING OF ALFALFA IS ALMOST COMPLETE.
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE IS RATED AS 12 PERCENT VERY SHORT, 21 PERCENT SHORT, 59 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND EIGHT PERCENT SURPLUS, WITH WIDE DISPARITIES ACROSS THE STATE.

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Speed Awareness Day Wednesday

Speed awareness day will be observed all across the state of Illinois on Wednesday. 
 
Illinois State Police Trooper Jason Wilson from District 7 in East Moline says the effort will involve basically all levels of law enforcement.
 
 
Trooper Wilson adds that the goal is not to just simply write tickets, but to help save lives.

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John Curran To Replace Ex-Senate Minority Leader Radogno

A new member has been named to the Illinois Senate. 
 
DuPage County Board Vice Chairman John Curran will take the spot left open by the resignation last month of Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno. 
 
According to the DuPage GOP a dozen candidates were in the running before Curran was selected. 

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Hires Bring Problems To Rauner

As a number of new hires have been brought into Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration one has been fired for past comments on social media and another is facing scrutiny. 
 
Brittany Carl, a communications staffer, compared abortion to Nazi Germany’s eugenics programs while writing a blog post. This after Rauner’s “body man”, a person who travels everywhere with him, was ousted just a day or so after being hired for past racist and homophobic tweets. 
 
According to Rauner he doesn’t agree with every position that everyone who works for him has taken.
 
 
Rauner says even though many of these new hires are from extremely conservative groups his perspective isn’t any different than it was a when he decided to run for office.

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Governor Calls Special Session

Without an education spending reform bill on his desk at noon today (Monday) the Governor held true on a promise. He’s ordering a special session to bring lawmakers back in order to try and force action on the matter. 
 
Senate Bill 1 is waiting to be sent to Rauner, it’s a bill he’s promised to veto parts of. Rauner contends Democrats are playing political games by not sending him the bill. He says it’s the Democrats that want a crisis of schools not opening on time to force their vision of school funding forward.
 
 
Rauner has been vague on what changes he wants or how he’d alter the bill that passed both the House and Senate. The session starts on Wednesday.

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Bustos Serving As Spokesperson For Democrat's 'A Better Deal'

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos serving as the leading spokesperson for a plan unveiled by House and Senate Democrats. 
 
It’s called “A Better Deal”—a new economic agenda aimed at boosting wages. Bustos announced the plan at a press conference in the Washington DC area yesterday. 
 
 
Bustos is the Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

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Clinton Schools Leader Confident Lawmakers Will Pass Funding Reforms

All eyes are on Springfield once again as families across the state await news of a new education funding formula to pass which would allow schools to open on time.
 
Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles says he is confident lawmakers will pass something, but what the plan will look like is still to be determined.
 
 
According to Nettles, there are two plans being proposed. One is being tabbed by Republicans as a bail-out of Chicago Public Schools and the other provides more funding for downstate schools.
 
 
Nettles calls either plan better than the current funding formula. He says schools that rely heavily on state dollars need help because they do not have the local resources to support themselves like Clinton.
 
 
The state has until August 1 to pass a funding reform package for schools. If they do not, some schools run the risk of not being open to students on the first day of classes.

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DeWitt County TRIAD Hosting Senior Academy in August

Area seniors are encouraged to get registered and participate in the 2017 Senior Academy through the DeWitt County TRIAD.
 
Mary Kay Hirsbrunner indicates there are three sessions in August that are free informational sessions about challenges seniors face in central Illinois.
 
 
Topics include safety information with Police Chief Ben Lowers to information about Alzheimers. Hirsbrunner says there's a lot of good information for seniors in the three sessions.
 
 
The sessions are broken into two sessions with drinks and refreshments in between. Hirsbrunner says they are asking for seniors to pre-register. To do so, contact the Sheriff's office at 217-935-9507. 

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Today is Deadline For Education Funding

There is another line in the sand from the Governor to the legislature. 
 
Send him Senate Bill 1, a bill focused on education spending, so he can use his veto pen and according to him make sure that schools open on time. 
 
Governor Bruce Rauner last week asked for the bill by today or he will call a special session every day until the bill reaches his desk. Rauner maintains that SB 1 is loaded with a bailout for Chicago public schools and it would add millions in spending to support CPS pension payments.
 
 
Rauner continued to use Speaker Mike Madigan’s name when placing blame on the bill not reaching his desk, even though the bill is coming from the Senate. 

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Potential Drought Conditions Spreading in Illinois

POTENTIAL DROUGHT CONDITIONS ARE SPREADING ACROSS A LARGE SWATH OF CENTRAL ILLINOIS.
 
WHILE NORTH EASTERN ILLINOIS IS DEALING WITH FLOODING...SEVERAL COUNTIES HAVE BEEN REALLY DRY THIS MONTH SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL.
 
 
THE LATEST LONG TERM OUTLOOK DOESN’T ADDRESS RAIN CHANCES BUT DOES CALL FOR WARMER THAN NORMAL TEMPERATURES IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER.

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Durbin Says ACA Repeal Could Devastate Nursing Home Residents

The US Senate is planning on taking a vote this week on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. 
 
US Senator Dick Durbin says a repeal would be disastrous with one Republican measure to replace the ACA ending health coverage for 22 million people another for 32 million. Along with those changes, Durbin says a pending massive cut to Medicaid funding would hurt seniors and families caring for elderly members.
 
 
Durbin also stressed that he wants to see the votes go through regular order in the Senate so debate and committees could be held on the possible changes. 

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New Route for State Fair Parade

For years, the Illinois State Fair Parade has rolled down Springfield's Peoria Road. 
 
Now the fair is shifting gears, kicking off the parade in Springfield's Lincoln Park, which is just across the street from the fairgrounds' southwest corner. Ag spokeswoman Rebecca Clark says the park setting will offer key advantages.
 
 
The length of the parade will only be slightly shorter, going from 1.6 miles to 1.5. 
 
The 2017 Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade is Friday, August 10th at 5:30 P.M.

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Treasurer Gives Away Record Amount of Money

As the state raises taxes this summer one state official is giving away money – a record amount of it. 
 
State Treasurer Mike Frerichs has given away a record amount of cash this year from the state’s I-Cash Program. That’s where unclaimed bank accounts, stocks, insurance benefits and other items lay in waiting till they are reunited with their rightful owner. Greg Rivara with the office says I-Cash is growing bigger every year and now with larger amounts of money passed out. 
 
 
In all this year nearly 160 million dollars of cash, stock and other items were returned. 
 
It’s easy to find out if you have any money or other items coming to you… the state has a website set up at Illinois Treasurer dot gov. And when you attend events like the Illinois State Fair the office often times has mobile centers set up to help you look for items. 
 
A notable return this year was a purple heart that belonged to a central Illinois woman’s father who had passed away. The return was special because the daughter knew her dad had served in the military but wasn’t aware that he had been awarded a purple heart during his service.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a hot and dry week across central Illinois and state climotologist, Jim Angel, says we're in for a break next week.
 

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Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital Offers Free Prenatal Classes

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital offers a free prenatal class every month for expecting families. The next 3 hour class will be held Sunday, July 30 from 1pm to 4pm. The class will be held in Steinfort A at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital.
 
Registered Nurse and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Kathy Vogt, will be teaching the class.
 
The class will teach participants how to know when it's time to come to the hospital, what to expect during labor and delivery, breathing techniques and other pain relief options. It will also touch on newborn feeding and care.
 
To register for the class, you can call (217) 732-2161 extension 55231. To learn more about other healthcare services offered at ALMH, visit www.almh.org.

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Congresswoman Bustos Receives Honorary State FFA Degree

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos receives an honorary State FFA Degree. She was presented with the honor this week in Washington D.C. during a visit by an Illinois FFA delegation. 
 
Ann Weber is the Section 3 FFA president, which represents 13 western Illinois Schools. 
 
 
28 Illinois FFA members were part of the Washington trip, which included the first ever visit by a state FFA team with the sitting U.S. Ag Secretary.

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Governor Threatens Special Session

Gov. Bruce Rauner is keeping the heat on Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan to get the school funding reform bill to his desk as the school year approaches. 
 
In a visit to Auburn High School, Rauner once again threatened to cut short summer vacation for lawmaker.
 
Rauner says that July 31st deadline is crucial because school aid checks are typically sent out in early August.

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Durbin Reacts To Spicer Resignation

The Trump Administration will look a little different moving forward during White House press briefings after Press Secretary Shawn Spicer resigned from his job today. 
 
US Senator Dick Durbin says Spicer had an impossible job to do.
 

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DeWitt County Museum Hosting Pair of Events Sunday

It will be a busy day at the DeWitt County Museum Sunday.
 
A pair of events are scheduled back to back and Director Joey Woolridge indicates the opening event is a fun spin on the nostalgic days of summer.
 
 
Following that event, the Museum is hosting an ice cream social with a special guest that will be of interest to the younger members of the family.
 
 
Tickets for Good Old Summertime are $25 and Woolridge encourages anyone planning to attend to get their tickets ahead of time. That ticket also gets you in to the ice cream social. 
 
To get tickets for Good Old Summertime or the ice cream social, contact Woolridge at the Homestead at 217-935-6066 or stop in to the Museum at 219 East Woodlawn Street in Clinton. 

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Clinton Journal Going To Publishing Once A Week

The Clinton Journal has announced they will be publishing their paper once a week effective August 1.
 
In a letter to subscribers, The Journal announced the paper will be released each Friday and the publisher says the weekend edition will be quote - "more substantial in content."
 
For subscribers, the subscriptions are being extended to reflect a new lower rate. 

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Clinton Cares Hopes To Bring Message of Substance Abuse To Everyone

The battle of substance abuse is not an age-specific problem and that is why organizers of Saturday's Clinton Cares hope you'll consider bringing the whole family out.
 
Pam Schwartz with the DeWitt County Coalition indicates the message of substance abuse can impact anyone of any age from those who have the problem to the kids in the family. She says their event Saturday brings the message to everyone in an appropriate way.
 
 
Saturday is highlighted by special guest speakers and music on the square. Schwartz says they have a couple local gentlemen that have been through the DeWitt County Drug Court and then there are state and national speakers.
 
 
Money raised from the event go towards the DeWitt County Substance abuse coalition and their mission of being a resource for the community. Schwartz says the activities are free but donations will be accepted throughout the day.
 
 
Saturday's Clinton Cares event kicks off at 11 am with narcan training at the Warner Public Library. You can register for that by contacting Schwartz at 217-935-9507.
 
Then Clinton Cares is on the square from noon to 7 pm. 
 
For more information on Clinton Cares or about the DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition, find their page on Facebook. 

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Macon County Relay for Life This Weekend

The American Cancer Society's Macon County Relay for Life starts tonight at 6pm.
 
According to Crystal Sewell, it is an unique event as it's overnight as Relay for Life was originally designed to be.
 
 
If you haven't signed up already, you are welcome to show up the day of and sign up there. The Survivors' Dinner will be at 4pm and, as always, there will be activities for people of all ages.
 
 
There will be an auction that averages around 60 items every year, including some kid friendly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles items.
 
 
The event will be at Richland Community College. It starts at 6pm tonight and will end at 6am Saturday morning. The Luminaria Ceremony will be at 9:30pm. 
 
To learn more about Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society, you can visit their website at relay.acsevents.org.

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Weed Science Expert Recommends Heavy Scouting

It’s not easy for farmers to scout fields in this current stretch of excessively hot weather, but they need to do it says Dave Powell---Weed Science Technical Manager at GROWMARK.
 
 
And Powell is recommending more than a single-pass approach in terms of weed management, specifically with corn.
 
 
Powell met with GROWMARK agronomists at an event in Litchfield earlier this week. 

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Hastert Enters Electronic Monitoring

Authorities are keeping close tabs on former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. 
 
The Lake County Sheriff's Department has fitted the former wrestling coach with the kind of electronic monitoring that's typically used when recent convicts like him are placed on home confinement.
 
The device was attached shortly after Hastert was released from a federal prison in Minnesota. 
 
A booking photo shows Hastert looking haggard with longer than usual hair.

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Job Growth Slow in Illinois

The jobs picture in Illinois isn’t improving much nor is it getting much worse. 
 
The state saw a slight uptick in unemployment last month. The Illinois Department of Employment Security says June’s numbers are at four point seven percent. IDES’s Bob Gough says the state picked up more than eight thousand jobs in June but that’s not as good as it sounds.
 
 
Nationwide the unemployment rate is four point four percent. 

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DeWitt County Board Approves Meteorological Towers; Appoints New Animal Control Director

>>DeWitt County Board Approves Meteorological Towers
 
A pair of meteorological towers were approved Thursday night at the DeWitt County Board meeting, setting up the potential for a wind farm in DeWitt County.
 
The Board approved the towers to be constructed in Rutledge and Wilson townships and they will stand around 200 feet tall.
 
The towers purpose will be to determine if the area is suitable for a potential wind farm in DeWitt County.
 
>>DeWitt County Animal Control Administrator Terminated
 
The DeWitt County Thursday night approved the termination of former-animal control administrator Tamara McFeeters, retroactive to June 28.
 
The Board simultaneously approved Melanie Kinney as the new administrator retroactive to June 29.

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Local Lawmaker Echoes Sentiments of Governor on School Funding Reforms

Earlier this week, Governor Bruce Rauner said lawmakers are holding school reforms hostage to get what Mike Madigan wants, a bailout of Chicago Public Schools.
 
Thursday on Regional Radio News, State Senator Chapin Rose echoed those comments and says he believes it is lawmakers intentions to create "a chaos like atmosphere" by not sending the school reform bill to the Senate.
 
 
Sen. Rose calls it a discriminatory bill and while there are some benefits in it for downstate schools, he feels it gives preference to students in Chicago over the rest of the state.
 
 
The Governor has said he will use his amendatory veto to give the best plan to the students of Illinois and the taxpayers. 

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Clinton Cares About Bringing the Community Together

Bringing the community together to support the fight against substance abuse is the goal of a Saturday event on the downtown Square in Clinton.
 
The DeWitt County Coalition is helping host Sober Jai, Jamie Smith, a recovering addict from Champaign, and the event Clinton Cares. Pam Schwartz with the Coalition explains the day starts at 11 am with narcan training at the Warner Library and that is open to the public.
 
 
The days features various musical performances on the square and special guest speakers. Schwartz indicates they will have food and drinks available and there are going to be several kids activities.
 
 
Schwartz indicates the narcan training is a great opportunity for anyone that works with the public. She notes you never know when you might need it.
 
 
To get registered for the narcan training at 11 am Saturday at the Warner Public Library, contact Schwartz at the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office at 217-935-9507. 
 
Clinton Cares then opens on the square at noon and goes until 7 pm. 

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Clinton Chamber Officially Unveils New Website

The new Clinton Chamber of Commerce website is up and running.
 
While not quite perfected yet, Executive Director Marian Brisard indicates they have a new format that is going to be very user friendly for their members and the community.
 
 
According to Brisard, members will be able to update their own information and make payments there. She adds it was a much needed update in a cyber-driven world.
 
 
Brisard is excited about the community calendar feature. She explains a business can add an event they are having for anyone in the community to see.
 
 
The URL is the same for the website. Brisard says visit clintonilchamber.com to see the new layout and check out what is happening in the community. 

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Illinois Prairie Community Foundation Seeks Local Non-profit For Grants

There are about 700 Community Foundations across the nation, Illinois alone boasts 40. The Illinois Prairie Community Foundation (IPCF) serves McLean, DeWitt, Livingston, and Logan counties.
 
According to Cathy Davis, the IPCF's goal is to carve a space for the future and the non-profit sector to continue to do the work that keeps our communities viable.
 
 
Davis adds that there are five categories for grants, but the most accessible are the Arts and Culture and General grants. There is also a program within the IPCF called Youth Engaged in Philanthropy which gave to Read Across Clinton this year.
 
 
To learn more about apply for the grant programs, visit their website at www.ilprairiecf.org, call them at (309) 662-4477, or email Michelle Evans at mevans@ilprairiecf.org.

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State Streamlining Teaching Requirements

There are plenty of young teachers out looking for jobs this summer and now landing a teaching gig might be a little easier.
 
The State Board of Education says that there are one thousand open teaching jobs and a new law to streamline the licensing requirements for those jobs should help fill some of them. 
 
ISBE’s Emily Fox says that the new law will lower the minimum age to apply for an educator license and remove a coursework requirement for existing teachers looking to renew provisional career and technical education licenses. Fox says this should help out some specific areas of the state. 
 
 
Districts around the state also say they are often faced with shortages of substitute teachers.

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Trade Expert Calling For Farmers To Be Patient in Volatile Weather Market

As farmers follow the numbers on the Chicago Board of Trade this summer, a trading expert advises them to be patient, especially those with old crop in storage. 
 
Doug Werling with Bower Trading says there’s been much volatility already this week, but…….
 
 
Bower says that was evident Tuesday, the market was “bullish” in the morning and then by midday it was cooler and wetter and there was a sell off. He calls it a “trader’s market” right now. 

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Durbin Leads Charge Against Appeals Court Nominee

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is fighting the nomination of John Bush to serve a lifetime appointment on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. 
 
Durbin told colleagues Mr. Bush has made dozens of provocative comments during his legal career that call into question his temperament and judgment.
 
 
Durbin says he's getting little evidence that Bush can be a fair and impartial judge.
 
 
Bush is an attorney based in Louisville.

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DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition Discusses Website

Being a resource for the community is the goal for the online presence being developed by a group who's aim is to help battle substance abuse in the community.
 
The DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition is working to develop a website that would be a community resource for anyone impacted in any way to substance abuse. Warner Hospital and Health Services Nick Rousseau has been working on the site for the coalition.
 
The coalition hopes the website can be a guide for the community on resources available for substance addictions of all types.
 
 
Rousseau indicates he will take suggestions on what should be on the website and how it should be layed out. Members of the coalition discussed using Facebook as a driver to get people to their website.
 
 
The format for the website is going to be mobile friendly. The web provider for the time being is Wix and the free format available allows for a mobile friendly page but Sheriff Jered Shofner feels if investing in the web page is something they want to do, he feels it might be worth it.
 
 
The substance abuse coalition meets the third Tuesday of each month at 10 am at the Warner Public Library.
 
They will be hosting an event on the Clinton Square Saturday, Clinton Cares. Get more information on that event tomorrow on Regional Radio News. 

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Area Schools Partner for CEO Program

After roughly six months of exploration into a program that would introduce high school seniors to the world of business, area schools have come together and formed two different partnerships based on geography.
 
Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles updated the Clinton Board of Education Tuesday night on the CEO program that looked to be in limbo just a few months ago. He explains there are nine schools that will partner in two different groups based on geography.
 
 
According to Nettles, the next step is to start to work to build support from the respective communities. 
 
 
As the momentum starts to build in the community, Nettles indicates he will begin to present the program to more potential investors and says they already have a number of investors ready to jump in.

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Southern Illinois Eclipse Now Includes Soda

As Southern Illinois prepares for next month's box seat view of the total solar eclipse, a Breese based bottling company known for the popular Citrus drink Ski is adding some flavor. 
 
Carla Baublitz with Excel says they have launched a short term soda flavor in preparation for the August 21st cosmic event.
 
 
Baublitz says it won't take ice cubes for the soda to be truly chilling...
 
 
Excel is preparing to produce more Darkest Hour soda on Tuesday. The company has already received bulk orders from a summer camp and several schools planning eclipse parties.

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Rauner Dismisses Attention Given To Staff Shakeup

Governor Bruce Rauner's staff has seen turnover in key positions since he suffered defeats on the state budget and tax hike votes, but Rauner maintains it's standard operating procedure.
 
 
The shakeup now extends to Rauner's political operation. Former Rauner Chief of Staff Mike Zolnierowicz (zohl-nehr-oh-whitz) ,was expected to run Rauner's re-election campaign but he has resigned. 

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DeWitt County Activates Cooling Centers Ahead of Expected Heat

A heat advisory goes into effect Wednesday at noon and will last until late Saturday which has resulted in DeWitt County safety officials activating its cooling centers for the second straight week.
 
The DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency Office has announced cooling centers will be available at the Warner Library and DeWitt County Friendship Center.
 
The Friendship Center is open from 8 am to 3 pm Wednesday through Friday at 410 East Main Street.
 
The Warner Library is open from 9 am to 9 pm Wednesday and Thursday, 9 am to 5pm Friday and from 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday at 310 North Quincy Street.
 
The library does not allow drinks or snacks. 
 
Increasing heat and humidity are forecasted, with temperatures over 90 degrees and high humidity. This mix of heat and humidity will push Heat Indexes to 100 to 110 degrees from Wednesday to Saturday. 

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State Budget Has Minimal Impact On Clinton - For Now

The State of Illinois' budget from earlier in July will have a minimal impact on the City of Clinton.
 
That was the message Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting from Commissioner of Finance Tom Edmunds (pictured right). He explains they will lose around $6,600 from sales tax revenues.
 
 
The state will be reducing payments of taxes to local governments, but according to Edmunds, in Clinton's case, the City will actual come out ahead because of the way the state is distributing the funds.
 
 
There was no tax freeze in the budget but Edmunds says there is a lot to be done and the tax freeze could be a negotiating item going forward.
 
 
While the City of Clinton knows what their revenue will be from the State of Illinois, Clinton Schools still do not as the state budget only appropriates money to schools when a new funding formula passes and lawmakers have until August 1 to pass that, or they jeopardize the start of school for many districts. 

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Local Authorities Discuss Upcoming Heat Wave

More hot weather is anticipated this week and local authorities are promoting safety precautions again this week.
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says the name of the game is do what you have to do to stay cool. Drink plenty of cold water, stay indoors when possible and wear light weight clothing.
 
 
During the winter months, the Chief encourages those traveling to keep their car maintained for the elements, but the same goes for the summer. Chief Lowers encourages getting your car checked out if you plan to make any long trips.
 
 
Additionally, Chief Lowers reminds residents to think of your pets during this time. He encourages bringing outside animals in to a cooler area and providing them with fresh water consistently.
 
 
Chief Lowers says local authorities take the calls of neglected animals seriously. He encourages if you see an animal in distress to contact local authorities and they will take action immediately. 
 
Temperatures mid-week are expected to be hot and humid again with triple-digit heat indexes and more temperatures in the 90s. 

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Weekly Crop Report

MOST CROPS AROUND THE STATE RECEIVED SOME MUCH NEEDED RAIN AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT.
 
SOME AREAS SAW JUST A LITTLE RAIN AND OTHERS EXPERIENCED FLOODING THIS PAST WEEK. 63 PERCENT OF CORN IS NOW SILKING AND THE CONDITION OF THE CROP STAYED ABOUT THE SAME WITH 62 PERCENT IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION.
 
 
56 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE BLOOMING AND 17 PERCENT ARE SETTING PODS. THE CONDITION OF THE CROP WAS NEARLY UNCHANGED AT 67 PERCENT IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. 
 
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE INCREASED SLIGHTLY TO SIX PERCENT VERY SHORT, 28 PERCENT SHORT, 63 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND THREE PERCENT SURPLUS.
 
WINTER WHEAT HARVESTING IS NOW COMPLETE.

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Trucking Industry Expert Advising Farmers To Be Aware of New Electronic Log Regulation

A new U.S. Department of Transportation rule is set to be implemented later this year, but it shouldn’t have a significant impact on farmers. 
 
Beginning December 18th, many truckers will be required to have an electronic log system instead of a paper log, but Don Schaefer, with the Mid-West Truckers Association, says there are exemptions that come into play for farmers and other small owner/operators.
 
 
Other exemptions to the new electronic logging rule include the covered farm vehicle exemption, the agricultural season exemption and the older truck exemption for trucks prior year 2000 models. 

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Senate Ag Chair Looks To Crackdown On Fraudulent Organic Imports

Ag Chair Pat Roberts says he knew a year before a media report that the Department of Agriculture’s Organic Program was not intercepting fraudulent imports of organic food. 
 
Roberts may now be ready to seek a fix in the next farm bill. He says the Washington Post reported recently that millions of pounds of shipments of possibly fraudulent “organic” products were imported into the US. But that was not news to the Senate Ag chairman…
 
                 
 
Roberts told a farm bill hearing last week that lawmakers need to ensure that "overregulation and antiquated government processes" are not keeping farmers from succeeding in tough economic times…
 
 
Roberts says the Board is not keeping up with the huge growth and new technology in the organic market, while an influx of fraudulent “organic” corn and soybean imports meantime, is cutting into domestic producer profits.
 
Kenneth Dallmier operates the Clarkson Grain Company, based in Cerro Gordo, and he told the Senate Ag Committee the threat is huge…
 
         
 
USDA recently decertified two of three firms involved in fraudulent shipments, while three key Senate Democrats have asked USDA’s inspector general to boost enforcement of organic import standards.
 
Dallmier recommended the Ag Committee consider adding staff at vulnerable ports, imposing tougher enforcement on shippers and recall requirements for end-users, and use of electronic farm- to-customer tracking devices that have less tampering risk than paper documentation.

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Rauner's 'Body Man' Fired Shortly After Hire

The Governor’s office is cleaning house. In the past few days more than 20 administration staffers have left on their own or have been fired by the Governor. And a newly hired one didn’t stick around long after people started reading his tweets. 
 
Ben Tracy was hired to be Bruce Rauner’s “Body Man” an assistant that travels with the Governor and moves between him and people he interacts with while out in the public. Once Tracy was brought on tweets he’d made in the past include homophobic slurs and other insensitive comments came to light. Tracy started Monday working for the Governor but was out of a job by the afternoon – but on Monday - Rauner said his team was hiring the very best people they could find.
 
 
Rauner also defended making hires from the Illinois Policy Institute saying it isn’t showing any turn in his administration to a more conservative tone.

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Illinois Public Universities Receiving Money

For the first time since 2015, the check is actually in the mail for Illinois public universities. 
 
The Illinois Board of Higher Education says the new budget will provide the state's 12 public universities with about $1.1 billion for the 2017-18 academic year. 
 
That's welcome news, but the funding level represents a 10 percent decline from 2015.

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Leader of Illinois Group That Backed Controversial Film To Speak in Normal

The leader of a controversial new documentary about food and farming plans to discuss why the Chicago-based group backed it during an upcoming conference in Normal. 
 
John Coupland (COOP-lend), who heads the Institute of Food Technologists, says the film's theme, which examines opponents and supporters of biotechnology or G-M-O's, needed a fair examination;
 
 
In addition to serving as president of the food tech group, Coupland serves as a food scientist at Penn State. He's been invited talk about the "Food Evolution" film at the Illinois Farm Bureau's Farm Income and Innovations conference on Tuesday, July 25th;
 
 
Both The New York Times and L-A Times praised the new film that had its Illinois debut in Chicago last week. If you're interested in hearing Coupland, contact your county Farm Bureau or go to I-l-f-b-dot-org.

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Current Farm Downturn Not Likely to Reach 1980’s Crisis

A report by a Farm Credit Administration economist told the Administration’s board members last week that the current downturn in the farm economy is not likely to reach a 1980s-style crisis. 
 
Farm Credit chief economist Stephen Gabriel said the “likelihood of this is very low,” adding that a confluence of adverse factors led to the crisis that occurred in the 1980s. 
 
He says it would take a similar combination of adverse developments to create another crisis in the farm economy. While the two periods are similar in some respects, Gabriel points out that interest rates were very high in the 1980s, and today’s interest rates are historically low. 
 
The price of oil is another major difference, according to his report. In 1979 and 1980, the price surged, while today it is declining. 
 
Also, the general economy is in better shape today than it was in the 1980s. The country experienced two recessions during the 1980s' crisis whereas today we're in an "extended, if lackluster, economic expansion," according to Gabriel.

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Governor Calls on Lawmakers To Send Him Senate Bill 1

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS CALLING ON THE LEGISLATURE TO SEND HIM THE EDUCATION FUNDING REFORM BILL THEY PASSED, SO HE CAN ISSUE AN AMENDATORY VETO.
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS HE SUPPORTS MORE EQUITABLE FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS…BUT NOT A BAILOUT FOR CHICAGO’S TEACHER PENSION SYSTEM. HE SAYS HE WILL CUT THAT PART OUT OF THE LEGISLATION ONCE LAWMAKERS SEND IT TO HIS DESK.
 
 
HE CRITICIZES LAWMAKERS FOR HOLDING ONTO THE LEGISLATION.
 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS UNDER HIS AMENDATORY VETO…MOST SCHOOL DISTRACTS ACROSS THE STATE WOULD GET MORE MONEY.

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Ag Lending Expert Says Farmers Need To Think Like Their Banker

The farm economy runs in cycles and an ag lending expert recommends farmers to not only get to know their banker, but also understand their own business. 
 
That’s the message from Curt Covington—Senior Vice President of Ag Finance at Farmer Mac. He says it’s a good practice for farmers to “think” like their bankers.
 
 
Covington says bankers need to stay with farmers in the bad economic times if they were with them in the good times because farmers have good memories. 
 
Last year, Farmer Mac purchased a record $1-billion in first mortgages through 1,500 applications from rural community banks throughout the U.S. 

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Clinton Chamber Unveils New Haunted House License Plates

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce has unveiled a specialty license plate that will be a short promotion for their annual Terror on Washington Street Haunted House.
 
Executive Director of the Clinton Chamber, Marian Brisard (right) explains it is a commemoration of their 24th year.
 
 
The plates are good for two months and Brisard indicates it is a promotion of the Haunted House.
 
 
The plates are $20.17 and for more information or to get your plate, contact Brisard at the Chamber at 217-935-3364. 

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Lincoln Mayor Hopes To Bring People Together

The recently elected Mayor of the City of Lincoln, Seth Goodman, hopes to bring people together in his first time in the local political arena.
 
Never imagining himself getting into politics, Goodman, a realtor in Lincoln, explains he wanted to bring a young and fresh perspective to the community. 
 
 
One of Goodman's biggest goals is to bring the community together. He explains Lincoln has people that can't seem to see eye-to-eye but wants to get everyone on the same page despite the differing perspectives.
 
 
According to Goodman, people need to get involved and hopes community leaders will make themselves accessible to residents.
 
 
Many communities struggle with finding development, especially downtown. While Goodman hopes to bring in more businesses, he hopes to support what is already in Lincoln. He wants to make the community more aware of what is already in Lincoln and keeping business local instead of people going to Springfield or Bloomington/Normal and other places. 

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Social Security Discussing Medicare in July

This July, Social Security is reminding Americans of the various Medicare parts and what they mean to you.
 
According to Megan Foristall, from Social Security, you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and B with Social Security; however, Parts C and D of medicare are taken care of through private companies.
 
 
The three ways to qualify for Medicare are age, disability and End-Stage Renal Disease.
 
 
If you are qualifying for Medicare by age, you have the three months before you turn 65, your birth month and the three months after to enroll in the program. The general enrollment period is January through March.
 
 
To learn more you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or visit their website, ssa.gov. For more information regarding Medicare visit medicare.gov.

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Rauner Vows Schools Will Open in the Fall As State Works on School Funding

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS SCHOOLS WILL OPEN THIS FALL. 
 
ALTHOUGH THE STATE NOW HAS A BUDGET, THE PLAN REQUIRES THE STATE TO HAVE A NEW EDUCATION FUNDING FORMULA BEFORE MONEY CAN BE SENT TO SCHOOLS. LAWMAKERS PASSED A REVAMPED FORMULA, BUT GOVERNOR RAUNER OPPOSES THE MEASURE, CALLING IT A BAILOUT FOR CHICAGO SCHOOLS. STILL, HE SAYS SOMETHING WILL BE WORKED OUT.
 
 
HE SAYS HE WILL CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR EQUITABLE FUNDING FOR ALL ILLINOIS SCHOOLS.
 
 
THE LEGISLATURE HASN’T SENT THE GOVERNOR THAT BILL YET, WHICH HE COULD VETO IN PART, OR IN ITS ENTIRETY.

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Moody's Has Concerns

The state hasn’t wowed anyone just yet at a credit rating agency but the state also hasn’t been downgrade to junk. 
 
Moody’s has offered an opinion on what Illinois did with a budget and tax increase. 
 
The extra revenue is going to generate $5 billion more dollars a year but the state’s short term is three times that and that concerns Moody’s. In a report released Friday Moody’s questions the state’s ability to generate sustained surpluses that would be needed to reduce the pile of bills. 

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Rauner Brushes Off Recent Hires As Political Learnings

The Governor has been making a number of changes in the highest spots of his administration.  
 
Last week Bruce Rauner brought in a new chief of staff, and made changes to policy staffer and communications people. Many of those hires were made from a very conservative group called the Illinois Policy Institute. Rauner won’t say if those hires will signal a shift to a more conservative tone from his administration.
 
 
He says the only thing that matters is focusing on turning around the state and not who he’s hiring.

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Ag To US Senate - Export Programs Key In Farm Bill

Agriculture Department export program are key to keeping conventional and organic producers in the black, as lawmakers write the next farm bill. That was the message from producers and ag lawmakers at a Senate farm bill hearing.
 
39 USDA export assistance programs have no funding guarantee when their 2014 farm bill authority runs out in 2019. Programs including Market Access, Foreign Market Development and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops are among them, returning more than  $28 for every dollar invested, or more than $2 billion a year in net farm income, based on a study by Informa Economics.
 
Greg Haines with the U.S. Meat Export Federation…
 
          
 
Haines, meanwhile, says red meat exports add some 45-cents to a bushel of corn.
 
Kenneth Dallmier (dall-myer) operates the Clarkson Grain Company in Cerro Gordo, Illinois and told Senate Ag lawmakers USDA also needs to combat fraudulent imports of organic grain by boosting domestic production, legal liability for fraud, and verification tracking…
 
      
 
But verification is not enough. Ag Chair Pat Roberts says the National Organics Standards Board is plagued by “uncertainty and dysfunction,” hampering regulations needed to keep up with rapid growth and innovation in a sector, many growers now depend on to boost sinking margins.

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Weather Radar in Lincoln Gets an Upgrade

The weather radar used by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Lincoln will be out of commission for the next three to four days, starting Monday, July 17th, for a tech upgrade.The work will be delayed if hazardous weather is forecast.
 
A crew will install a new signal processor, which replaces obsolete technology, improves processing speed and data quality, provides added functionality, and increases IT security.
 
This will be the first of four major upgrades planned over the next 5 years. The $150 million investment is being made by the three organizations that use these radars, the NOAA National Weather Service, United States Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration.

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Assistant State's Attorney Weights in on Underage Drinking Problem in DeWitt County

The Coalition for Brighter Futures, which serves DeWitt County, is in its third year of a five year grant to educate people about and prevent underage drinking.
 
According to Assistant State's Attorney, Lars Dunn, the underage drinking statistics in DeWitt County are staggering.
 
 
Dunn adds that scare tactics are more useful in preventing the use of harder drugs, but it's more difficult to get those tactics to work with drinking because of the familiarity surrounding alcohol in our culture. The coalition's goal is to get parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of consuming alcohol.
 
 
Usually, for a first time offense, community service is enough to stop the offender from drinking again, but if it's not, the punishments only get worse and more expensive.
 
The Coalition for Brighter Futures is looking for members of the community, especially those who work with and have influence with community youths to help them in their objective. If you'd like to reach out, they encourage you to call Divah Griffin at (217) 570-0198.

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Northern Illinois Lawmaker Points Out Backdoor Gas Tax in Budget

You could wind up paying more for a gallon of gas in Illinois as a result of the budget that was recently approved by state lawmakers. 
 
While not a gas tax, the budget deal eliminated the final year of a sales tax reduction retailers were receiving from the state on ethanol blend fuel. And that, according to State Senator Dave Syverson of Rockford means the retailers will likely pass the cost along to consumers.
 
 
The increase could be between 2 1/2 - 3 cents per gallon, according to Syverson. 
As to when the increase could be expected, he says that is still being negotiated. 
Another consideration is that another gas tax isn't out of the question, as roads are crumbling around the state.

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State Historical Preservation Agency Moved Under DNR

THE STATE’S HISTORIC PRESERVATION AGENCY IS MOVING UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES.
 
I-D-N-R IS WELCOMING THE HISTORIC PRESERVATION AGENCY TO ITS NEWLY CREATED DIVISION OF HISTORIC SITES SAYS SPOKESPERSON ED CROSS.
 
 
THE SHIFT IS A GOOD FIT SAYS CROSS.
 
CROSS SAYS THIS WILL IMPROVE EFFICIENCY AND SAVE TAXPAYER DOLLARS. THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM WILL NOW OPERATE AS AN INDEPENDENT STATE AGENCY.

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Early Start to High School Football Season

The 2017/2018 IHSA calendar means an exceptionally early start to the high school football season. 
 
The first games are played in just six weeks Friday, August 25th. 
 
The first official day of practice is just three weeks from Monday, which is August, 7th. 

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Tennessee Joins Other States limiting Dicamba Use

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture announced new limits on the use of dicamba-based herbicides this week. 
 
The move follows practical bans issued by Arkansas and Missouri for using dicamba for row crop applications, as concerns and drift damages mount. 
Missouri, however, released its “stop sale, use or removal” order Thursday on dicamba-based herbicides. 
 
The new rule in Tennessee restricts application to certified private applicators or licensed pest control operators, certified by the state. The rule also prohibits the use of older formulations of dicamba products for the rest of this growing season and restricts application hours to between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
 
The new rules, according to the state’s Department of Agriculture, is in response to farmer-to-farmer complaints of suspected dicamba drift damage to crops. The measures are in effect until October first of this year, and violators could be fined up to $1,500 per violation. 
 
With removal of its ban, Missouri announced similar limits on dicamba use Thursday, which includes wind, time and applicator restrictions, as well as required notification of planned dicamba applications online.

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Weekly Weather Summary

While this past week saw significant amounts of rain, the trend won't continue next week. State Climatologist Jim Angel has more...
 

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Exelon Sends Out Yearly Informational Booklet To Neighbors of Power Plant

If you live near the Clinton Power Plant, it is likely you'll soon, if you haven't already, receive a yearly mailing with safety information about the plant.
 
Brett Nauman, Communications Manager with Exelon Nuclear Power Station in Clinton explains the information is centered around safety in the event of an emergency.
 
 
The information is mailed to residents in DeWitt County and Nauman indicates if you don't receive the information, contact him and he'll get you what you need or you can access it online. 
 
 
Federal law requires the company to develop response plans for their facility. Visit exeloncorp.com for more information. 

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USDA Releases July WASDE, Crop Production Reports

The recent World Agriculture Supply and Demand report by the Department of Agriculture projects corn and soybean farmers will grow more crop than previously anticipated. 
 
USDA on Wednesday increased 2017-18 corn production to an estimated 14.255 billion bushels and soybean production to 4.26 billion bushels. 
 
Corn production came in slightly above the highest pre-report estimates while soybean production came in higher than the pre-report average estimate as well, according to DTN-The Progressive Farmer. 
 
The farm price for the 2017-18 soybean crop was pegged at an average of $9.40 a bushel, a 10-cent bump from last month's estimate. 
 
For corn, USDA estimated an average of $3.30 a bushel, down 10 cents from earlier estimates. 
 
USDA also raised All-Winter Wheat production to 1.279 billion bushels, up 29 million bushels from the June report estimate.    

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Clinton Farmers Market Seeking Vendors For Rest of Summer

If you grow produce in your back yard as a hobby or do it hoping to find some extra income, the Clinton Area Farmers and Artisans Market is hoping you'll consider setting up on the Clinton square on Saturday mornings with them.
 
Elizabeth Burns indicates they have implemented a small change for vendors the rest of the summer. She explains they have changed their fees to a flat fee for the rest of the year from their weekly fees of the past.
 
 
Burns notes, there's also an option for someone who does not want to set up at the market, they will take that extra produce and sell it for you. She adds they will also sell the produce for charity.
 
 
In an effort to bring more variety to the farmers market on a weekly basis, Burns explains they are seeking local entertainers to come to the square. She notes they've had a number of local residents express interest in performing on the Mr. Lincoln Square stage from 8 am to noon on Saturday mornings.
 
 
Burns expects the interest in the farmers market to grow as the season moves along. She says they are getting a good response from vendors and the community each week. To get more information about the Farmers Market, visit them on the Mr. Lincoln Square on Saturday mornings from 8 am to noon, or contact Burns at 217-722-2496. 

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Irrigated Farms Increasing in Illinois

The number of irrigated farms in Illinois has risen by nearly 500. 
 
State Climatologist Jim Angel says the latest data shows 1,590 farms—up from 1,091 in in 2008.
 
 
Angel says for farmers, one or two doses of irrigation can make a big difference in yields in those dry years. 

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IDOT Sends Out Warning Against Driving Through Flood Waters

HEAVY RAINFALL IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS HAS THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION REMINDING MOTORISTS TO “TURN AROUND DON’T DROWN.”
 
IT CAN TAKE AS LITTLE AS SIX INCHES OF WATER TO CAUSE DRIVERS TO LOSE CONTROL OF THEIR CAR, EVEN IF IT’S A HEAVY VEHICLE LIKE AN S-U-V SAYS I-DOT SPOKESPERSON GIANNA URGO. SHE SAYS THAT’S WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO BE CAREFUL.
 
 
URGO SAYS DRIVERS SHOULDN’T RISK IT AND INSTEAD FIND AN ALTERNATE ROUTE.
 
 
FOR THE LATEST ROAD CLOSURES DUE TO FLOODING…VISIT THE WEBSITE: GETTING AROUND ILLINOIS DOT COM.

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Full House To Consider Proposed Ag Budget That Reverses Many Trump Cuts

House appropriators have sent to the full House, the FY '18 Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration spending bill, reversing many of the president's proposed cuts.
 
The $145 billion bipartisan House bill is $4 billion above the president’s request, but $8.6 billion below current spending.
 
Still, it restores many of President Trump’s cuts to rural development, research, crop insurance and international feeding programs.
 
Appropriations Chair, New Jersey Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen (free-ling-high-zen)…
 
 
SNAP is still cut by almost $5 billion, to $74 billion, but an amount that meets SNAP enrollment and Democrats can live with. The minority offered few amendments directed at production agriculture. Riders dealing with horse slaughter and e-cigarette advertising failed…swaps regulatory relief passed earlier by the full House was adopted…and sugar program reform was withdrawn.
 
Democrats embraced the bill’s inclusion of key trade measures. Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro…
 
         
 
The House USDA spending bill includes $1.8 billion for the new USDA trade mission headed by an Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. The bill reverses the president’s proposal to eliminate funding for the nation’s two international feeding programs, fully staffs county Farm Service Agency Offices, and keeps open 17 USDA research facilities the administration wanted to close.
 
The bill includes $2.8 billion for Ag research, more than $900 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, about the same for conservation programs, and just over $1 billion for food safety and inspection.

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Former Senate Minority Leader Talks Mike Madigan

House Speaker Mike Madigan has once again proven you can expect the unexpected as he oversaw the successful push for a new budget and tax increase. 
 
One man who has seen Madigan's work behind the scenes is former Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson. The Greenville Republican says Madigan speaks softly and carries a big stick.
 
 
Watson is still amazed how Madigan has stood the test of time.
 
 
Watson served as Senate Minority Leader from 2002 until suffering a stroke in 2008.

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CME Group Helping Youth Understand Markets, Agriculture

Chicago based CME Group having great success setting up shop at county fairs throughout the country. They have partnered with 4-H to offer a Commodity Carnival. 
 
CME’s Tim Andriesen says the goal is to have youngsters better understand the role of the farmer and agriculture and how markets operate.
 
 
This year the carnival will be set up at 120 county and state fairs in Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin and Illinois.

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Attorney General Issues Guide To Better Respond To Sexual Assaults

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN’S OFFICE IS ISSUING A NEW GUIDE TO HELP POLICE BETTER RESPOND TO SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE CASES. 
 
THE MATERIALS WILL ASSIST POLICE DEPARTMENTS IN COMING UP WITH NEW POLICIES AND TRAINING. ILLINOIS CHIEFS OF POLICE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ED WOJCICKI (woe-jis-ski) SAYS THE EFFORT IS PART OF A NEW LAW THAT AIMS TO GET MORE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE TO COME FORWARD.
 
 
THE INFORMATION WILL HELP POLICE DEPARTMENTS SET UP POLICIES AND ADDITIONAL TRAINING REGARDING SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES AS REQUIRED UNDER A NEW LAW.
 
 
THE GUIDE IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL DOT GOV.

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Warner Library Upcoming Programs, Summer Reading Registration

There are several programs on the docket at the Warner Library this summer, including the three reading clubs which are still open for registration.
 
According to Children's Librarian, Paula Lopatic, registering for and participating in the summer reading clubs couldn't be easier.
 
 
You are invited to attend any of the programs that the library offers, such as "What Can You Do with Water?", Brent Allen, Space Station Mars, and the Heartland Mini-Hooves are all on the agenda for the coming weeks.
 
 
For more information, you can visit the library, give them a call at 935-5174 or visit their website www.vwarner.org.
 

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Trade Retaliation Worries Ag Groups

18 agriculture groups representing the majority of production agriculture sent a letter to the Trump administration recommending it avoid placing restrictions on steel and aluminum imports. 
 
The groups are worried that such a move would negatively impact U.S. food and agriculture exports. The groups said in the letter that, “the aftermath of those restrictions could be disastrous for the global trading system and U.S. agriculture in particular.” 
 
The letter points out that many of those countries exporting steel and aluminum are also the same countries that import a large amount of U.S. agricultural goods. The letter stresses that “potential retaliation from those trading partners is very real.” 
 
The 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade says national security can be a reason to restrict trade but is rarely done. 
 
The organizations point out that no other country can dictate what another’s national security needs are. 
 
“Now, every country with a sensitive industry would know it could follow the example of America and find a national security reason to circumvent trade agreements, no matter how flimsy the reason,” they said. 
 
The farm groups urged the administration to “avoid igniting a trade war” through the imposition of restrictions on steel and aluminum imports.

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USDA Financing Will Extend 100-Miles of Rural Broadband in Illinois

The USDA extending over $43-million in financing this summer to expand broadband in rural areas. 
 
Over $3-million of that will go to Illinois and will be used to construct 104-miles of fiber cable by the Viola Home Telephone Company. 
 
 
The company’s Jay Barton says the USDA funding will also provide supporting equipment to deliver enhanced telecommunication services to customers. 
 
The USDA is also funding broadband projects in Texas, California and Iowa this summer with the goal of adding 1,000 miles of fiber cable in rural areas, including the Illinois project. 

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Missouri Ag Department Wants Dicamba Ban Lifted Quickly

The Missouri Department of Agriculture issued an order Friday afternoon stopping the sales and use of Dicamba herbicides in the state. Products currently impacted by the order include Engenia (in-G-knee-uh), FeXapan (fecks-uh-pan) plus VaporGrip, and XTENDIMAX (extend-uh-max) with VaporGrip. Director Chris Chinn says the three manufacturers – BASF, DuPont and Monsanto – have been working on new Special Local Use labels, with the hope to quickly lift the order when her department receives them...tape
 
 
Chinn says as the delay was under consideration, department officials were in regular contact with Dicamba manufacturers and farmers who suspected damage from its use. Those conversations included touring one of the over 100 fields where damage from Dicamba usage is suspected...tape
 
 
Interesting to note, Chinn isn't calling the order a 'ban', but instead 'hitting the pause button'. She adds that the department, Dicamba manufacturers, and Missouri farmers all want a product that effectively manages weeds without harming cash crops...tape
 
 
Discussions have also taken place with neighboring states, including Arkansas, where a 120-day ban on Dicamba took effect Tuesday. Chinn says she’s hoping those discussions will yield ways to better utilize this and other pest management technologies...tape
 
 
The products impacted by the order were recently approved for use on cotton and soybean plants with traits making them resistant to Dicamba.

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Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation CEO Stepping Down

Adult learning important in the agriculture industry too. That’s the message from outgoing CEO Don Norton of the Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation.
 
 
Norton has been with the organization for seven years and is leaving for a similar role in South Dakota.
 
The IALF is a non-profit educational corporation. The funds raised provide for a 19-month development program that focuses on building the skills, knowledge and character of leaders in the ag industry. There have been over 500 graduates from the program since its inception in the 1980s. 

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House Appopriations Committee Includes Funding For Peoria Ag Research Lab

An effort to keep the Peoria Agriculture Research Lab open cleared its first hurdle today. 
 
Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos says the House Appropriations Committee included funding for the facility in their markup of the agriculture appropriations bill. 
 
 
Bustos and Central Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood sent a letter last month urging the Appropriations Committee Chairman and Ranking Member to maintain federal funding for the lab, which was proposed for closure under President Trump’s budget. 15 other members of the Illinois congressional delegation signed the letter. 

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Durbin Weighs In On ACA Repeal Effort

Senator Dick Durbin continues to speak out on the Senate Floor against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
 
 
Durbin says all parties involved need to attack some of the biggest issues driving up health care costs.
 
 
Durbin says the Republican repeal plan would lead to one million Illinoisans losing health insurance and he says that would cause more woes for the state economy.

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CBO Expects Baseline Farm Bill Savings

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its latest estimate of baseline funding available to write the next farm bill. 
 
The CBO says the last farm bill saved much more than expected on food stamps and crop insurance. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the budget office expects more baseline savings on farm and nutrition programs over the next ten years…
 
 
As producers seek a more certain price-floor amid continued low prices and as crop insurance remains a popular safety net program…
 
 
7-point-5 billion a year less than the last farm bill. But Grassley points out, funding for 37-farm bill programs will expire without new funding, while numerous groups are calling for new spending in other areas…
 
   
Especially since budget writers could demand additional savings in government programs. House Ag appropriators have already proposed a 5-billion dollar cut in FY ’18 food stamp spending.

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DeWitt County EMA Announces Cooling Centers To Open Through Friday

With a heat advisory in effect Wednesday and more heat expected Thursday, the DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency has announced they are activating their designated cooling centers Wednesday until Friday.
 
The DeWitt County Friendship Center and the Warner Public Library are designated cooling centers locally. 
 
The Friendship is available from 8 am to 3 pm located at 410 East Main Street.
 
The Warner Library is available Wednesday and Thursday from 9 am to 9 pm and then Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. 
 
The library does not allow drinks or snacks.
 
Temperatures Wednesday are being predicted in the mid-90s with heat index values hovering around 105. 
 
Thursday is calling for temperatures in the upper-80s and heat index values around 100 with high humidity both days. For more information, contact the DeWitt County EMA office at 217-935-7790. 

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DeWitt County Friendship Center Celebrating New Sign

The DeWitt County Friendship Center has a new addition to the front of their building.
 
Executive Director Sissy Leggett explains they were the recipient of the William Davenport Estate and they are very appreciative of what that money is going to allow them to do at the Center.
 
 
According to Leggett, this will be another resource for them to utilize to get information out to the community. She says the messages are very customizable.
 
 
The messages will be welcoming and informational from things like the daily activities to their support groups going on. Leggett says the sign will definitely pop with the features it comes with.
 
 
Leggett says what to do with the remainder of the funds from the Davenport Estate funds is still being worked out. She indicates they are still hopeful to receive a grant from the State of Illinois for a new parking lot, a need and a goal for the Friendship Center for a number of years now. 

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E. ON Energy Wind Farm Progressing in Macon County

The Radford's Run Wind Farm is what E. ON Energy is calling their project in northeast Macon County and it continues to advance.
 
Matt Tilus is communications manager with E. ON Energy and indicates the farm features 139 wind turbines across parts of Macon County. As the project continues this summer, all foundations are in and the true look of the turbines are starting to take shape.
 
 
According to Tilus, the environmental impacts of the wind farm are significant. He explains when running at full capacity, the wind farm can power 90-thousand homes.
 
 
The turbines will start to come online as construction continues. Tulis notes they are expecting the farm to be running at full capacity by the end of the year.

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Illinois Department of Revenue Updating Public About Tax Increase

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE IS OFFERING SOME GUIDANCE TO NAVIGATING THE STATE’S NEW INCOME TAX RATES.
 
THE RATE FOR INDIVIDUALS INCREASED FROM THREE POINT SEVEN FIVE TO FOUR POINT NINE FIVE PERCENT, AND THE CORPORATE INCOME TAX RATE WENT UP AS WELL. REVENUE SPOKESPERSON TERRY HORSTMAN SAYS ALL THE DETAILS ARE NOW ONLINE.
 
 
THE TAX IS RETROACTIVE TO JULY FIRST. HORSTMAN SAYS IT’S UP TO EMPLOYERS TO COLLECT THE DIFFERENCE AND REMIT PAYMENT TO THE STATE.

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Red Cross Seeking Donations As Blood Supply Low

The American Red Cross has an emergency need for blood and platelet donations. Blood donations have fallen short of hospital needs for the past couple of months, and a Red Cross official says that's typical for this time of year. 
 
American Red Cross’s Joe Zydlo (ZID-low) reminds the process takes an hour or so to complete, and you don't want to give blood on an empty stomach. He says new blood donors are always welcome.
 
 
Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or by going to redcrossblood.org.

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Syngenta Settles Nebraska Complaint, Minnesota Trial Next

Syngenta has reached a confidential settlement with a Nebraska farmer who claims the company mishandled marketing of its genetically modified seed, which in turn caused corn prices to plummet. 
 
Bloomberg says a settlement heads off a trial that was to start this week. Terms of the settlement were not made public. It was just two weeks ago that Syngenta lost a jury verdict worth $218 million dollars because of a class action suit brought by Kansas farmers alleging similar claims against the company. Syngenta will next face a class action suit, which starts in August, up in Minnesota. 
 
Farmers there are seeking more than $600 million dollars. The farmers allege that Syngenta rushed its seed into the marketplace before getting approval from China to export the grain over there. 
 
China stopped bringing in shipments of corn in 2013, calling the grain shipments contaminated by the GMO seed. The farmers say that set off a five-year depression in corn prices. They also say Syngenta misled them on when China would approve the seed for import. 
 
Syngenta disputes the damage claims, saying it did nothing wrong. The company says it didn’t sell the seed until approved in the U.S. and didn’t need China’s approval to do so.

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Mexico is No Longer Top Destination for U.S. Corn

U.S. corn shipments to Mexico have slipped in recent months and Mexico in no longer the number one buyer of American corn. 
 
A Bloomberg article says it may be a sign that trade tensions are forcing the country to look elsewhere for corn in case the U.S. is no longer a reliable supplier. Sales through May of this year were down almost seven percent from last year, coming in at $1.04 billion. Japan has become the biggest importer of U.S. corn after boosting its purchases by 53 percent, totaling $1.19 billion. 
 
Mexico began looking for other corn suppliers after President Donald Trump’s criticism, which began on the campaign trail when he said Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S. through the North American Free Trade Agreement. 
 
Mexican corn purchases are picking up as the peso rebounds from a record low against the dollar in January. Lesly McNitt, Public Policy Director for the National Corn Growers Association, says the sluggish pace of U.S. corn shipments to Mexico shows the trade relationship may be at risk.
 
“They’re preparing a Plan B,” she said to Bloomberg. 
 
Mexico has initiated discussions with suppliers in Argentina and Brazil.

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Missouri and Arkansas Halt Dicamba Sale and Use

The Missouri and Arkansas Agriculture Departments both halted the sale and usage of dicamba in their respective states. Those two states have been in the middle of hundreds of misuse complaints. 
 
The Arkansas ban is effective for 120 days while the Missouri Ag Department would like to reinstate product usage this growing season after their investigation is concluded. 
 
The Missouri Soybean Association issued a statement saying over 200,000 acres of soybeans show at least some level of dicamba damage. The state’s soybean checkoff issued a statement saying it’s clear some type of action is necessary. 
Missouri Ag Director Chris Chinn said in a statement on the department’s YouTube channel that they’re actively working on the issue. “I’ve asked the makers of these approved, post emergent products and farmers to work with us to determine how we can expeditiously allow applications to resume this growing season,” she said in the video. 
 
Monsanto released a statement saying they’re complying with the order and they encourage all growers to do the same. The 120-day ban goes into effect at midnight on Tuesday, July 11th. 
 
Arkansas farmers have filed nearly 600 complaints in which dicamba is the suspected pesticide.

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Farm & Livestock Groups Continue Manure Reporting Fight

Farm and livestock groups will continue to fight for an exemption from emergency reporting of manure emissions, after the EPA lost a federal court decision to environmental groups that sued over the exemption.
 
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit denied a request by pork, poultry and other livestock and farm groups to rehear its rejection of an EPA exemption from 2008 U.S. manure emission reporting regulations. American Farm Bureau’s Andrew Walmsley argues that hazardous substance reporting is unnecessary for manure…
 
 
Walmsley and other ag leaders expect EPA to ask the court to stay its decision and give the agency more time to figure out a way forward. Without a stay, AFB, National Pork Producers, poultry and cattle groups fear more lawsuits by environmentalists…
 
 
Walmsley adds, there’s no way scientifically, to measure manure emissions, creating a reporting ‘headache’ for producers, while possibly overwhelming emergency call centers. AFB, NPPC and other groups hope EPA can come up with a regulatory way out of the manure reporting mess.

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EU & Japan Trade Deal Spells Loss For US

The E.U. and Japan have struck a trade deal in principle that if finalized, could put U.S. agriculture and other products at a competitive disadvantage in the huge Japanese market. 
 
The deal still needs technical work before the E.U. and Japan can implement it but this week’s announcement in the lead-up to the G-20 economic summit in Germany signals a possible loss for the U.S. and U.S. agriculture. D.C. Ag trade consultant and a former USDA trade chief, Paul Drazek…
 
 
Drazek suggests the US could have had from TPP, what Europe will now get from Tokyo…
 
 
Including U.S. beef and pork, which spurred the National Pork Producers Council to redouble its request to the White House to get going on a bilateral deal with Japan, the top market for U.S. pork at 1-point-6 billion dollars last year. Drazek says Tokyo may be in no rush after TPP to do a deal with the U.S.…
 
 
Drazek says Tokyo is watching how the U.S. handles NAFTA and whether it tries to add new trade-balancing import restrictions, ones that would also apply to Japan.

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DeWitt County Friendship Center Helping Seniors Beat the Heat

Off their annual June fan drive, administrators at the DeWitt County Friendship Center are reminding seniors of DeWitt County, they are there for you to beat the summer heat.
 
Temperatures are expected back in the 90s this week with triple-digit heat indexes and Sissy Leggett, Executive Director of the DeWitt County Friendship Center, seniors can stop by and cool down and enjoy games and activities as well.
 
 
Leggett reminds seniors of the many activities going on at the center throughout the week. They play cards and have a Nintendo Wii and everything is done with drinks and refreshments on hand.
 
 
The Friendship Center sends out a monthly newsletter to keep anyone informed. To get signed up for that or for more information on the DeWitt County Friendship Center, contact Leggett at 217-935-9411.

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Weekly Crop Report

TOPSOIL MOISTURE IS DECLINING IN SEVERAL PARTS OF THE STATE AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT. 
 
PRECIPITATION WAS BELOW NORMAL, AT UNDER HALF AN INCH LAST WEEK. THAT LEFT AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE AT SIX PERCENT VERY SHORT, 32 PERCENT SHORT, 61 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND ONE PERCENT SURPLUS. 
 
CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER PROVIDES A CROP UPDATE:
 
 
31 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE BLOOMING AND FIVE PERCENT ARE SETTING PODS…WHICH IS ABOUT ON PAR WITH LAST YEAR.
 
 
 93 PERCENT OF SORGHUM HAS BEEN PLANTED AND 95 PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS BEEN HARVESTED.

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U of I College of ACES Having Success With Monthly Twitter Chats

Monthly Twitter chats have been paying off for the University of Illinois College of ACES. The latest one is this Tuesday from Noon-to-1 p.m. and features the topic “From Toys to Tools: Robotic Vehicles in Agriculture.” 
 
 
That’s Jennifer Shike--ACES Director of Communications & Marketing. She says go to “@ACESIllinois” and punch in “#askaces” to participate in the chat.
 
 
Shike says the monthly Twitter chats have been ongoing for the last year-and-a-half.

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Treasurer Discusses State Avoiding Junk Bond Status

ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS IS OFFERING SOME SUGGESTIONS TO HELP MAKE SURE THE STATE AVOIDS JUNK BOND STATUS. 
 
ALTHOUGH ILLINOIS NOW HAS A BUDGET, THE STATE’S FISCAL CONDITION REMAINS ON VERY SHAKY GROUND AND A RATING DOWNGRADE COULD STILL HAPPEN. TREASURER FRERCIHS SAYS FOR STARTERS, THE GOVERNOR NEEDS TO PAY A VISIT TO THE BOND HOUSES IN NEW YORK.
 
 
ADDITIONALLY, FRERICHS SAYS SCHOOLS NEED TO OPEN ON TIME AND THE STATE MUST QUICKLY WORK TO ADDRESS THE CURRENT 15 BILLION DOLLAR BACKLOG OF BILLS.
 
 
FRERICHS ALSO SAYS THE STATE SHOULD REACH OUT TO ILLINOIS EMPLOYERS TO EXPLAIN THE NEW TAX RATES.

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DCFS Reminds Not To Leave Kids in Hot Cars

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS RELEASING A NEW SET OF PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS REMINDING PARENTS TO “LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK.” 
 
ON AVERAGE, ABOUT 37 KIDS DIE IN HOT CARS EACH YEAR IN THE U-S…A TRAGEDY THAT IS EASILY PREVENTABLE ACCORDING TO THE D-C-F-S CAMPAIGN.
 
 
D-C-F-S SAYS THE SAME GOES FOR PETS…ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY CAN’T COOL DOWN AS QUICKLY AS PEOPLE CAN. THE GROUP, KIDS AND CARS DOT ORG SAYS EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS CRACKED, THE INSIDE TEMPERATURE OF A CAR CAN HIT 125 DEGREES IN JUST MINUTES.
 
 
ABOUT 37 KIDS DIE EACH YEAR IN HOT CARS, AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS IS THAT MOMS AND DADS DON’T THINK IT CAN HAPPEN TO THEM. 
 
D-C-F-S IS URGING PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS TO PUT SOMETHING IN THE BACKSEAT THAT THEY WILL NEED LIKE A PURSE, WALLET, BRIEFCASE OR PHONE TO MAKE SURE THE CHILD ISN’T LEFT BEHIND. 
 
ACCORDING TO THE GROUP, KIDS AND CARS DOT ORG, A CHILD’S BODY OVERHEATS THREE TO FIVE TIMES FASTER THAN AN ADULT’S, PUTTING THEM AT EVEN GREATER RISK IF LOCKED IN A HOT CAR.

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DeWitt County 4-H Fair Recap

In live coverage of the DeWitt County Fair heard on WHOW this past weekend, we caught up with several active 4-H members.
 
Jake Franklin led the Iron Core DeWitt County robotics team to their first State win in their second year as a team. The theme this year was Health Bot.
 
 
Maddie Franklin adds that being a part of 4-H offers various opportunities to learn how to sew, build robots, as well as the well known agricultural aspects.
 
 
4-H Federation President, Reed Jostes got to help put the pieces together to make the DeWitt County Fair happen and run smoothly.
 
 
For a full list of results, check our Fair Tour page. 
 
To learn more information about DeWitt COunty 4-H, you can visit their website at web.extension.illinois.edu/dmp/dewitt4h.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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IDOT Announces Illinois 54 Closure Starting Monday

The Illinois Department of Transportation announces that work will begin Monday, July 10, weather permitting, to replace a culvert on Illinois 54 from 600 E Road to 670 E near Stage Coach Road southwest of Clinton. The area will reopen July 25.
 
A detour will be in effect utilizing U.S. 51, Illinois10 and Illinois 121. Drivers are urged to pay close attention to changed conditions and signs in the work zone, obey the posted speed limits, restrain from using mobile devices and be on the alert for workers and equipment.
 
For IDOT District 5 updates, follow us on Twitter at @IDOTDistrict5 or view area construction details on IDOT’s traveler information map on GettingAroundIllinois.com.

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Community Action Ready To Unveil New Food Pantry Program

Community Action of DeWitt County is ready to unveil their new food pantry program that will help serve hundreds in the community.
 
Executive Director of Community Action, Alison Rumler-Gomez indicates the new program is thanks to the William Davenport Estate donation of $100-thousand. She explains that is going to be enough to sustain the program for a long time.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez explains there will be three levels of service for the new program. It starts with a basic emergency need but the big component of the program will be a co-op approach for the community.
 
 
A program in Bloomington, The Daily Loaf, is what Community Action is modeling their program after. She indicates some concerns of hers were put to ease when that program exceeded their expectations after they launched it.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez says with the proposed cuts from the state and federal governments possible, it makes a program like the one proposed all the more important. 

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Master Gardeners Discuss Mid-Summer Gardening

Weeds. Japanese beetles. Lack of water.
 
Those are just a few of the challenges gardeners face as we hit the mid-summer and local master gardeners are hoping you'll consider some tips as the weather gets hotter and dryer. University of Illinois Master Gardener, Candace Miller, says right now, your garden needs about an inch of water per week.
 
 
Miller indicates right now, the most common questions she is receiving are about weeds. She says there are many kinds of weeds gardeners are dealing with so far this summer.
 
 
Over the next few weeks, start looking out for your veggies to ripen. According to Miller, weeds and watering will continue to be an issue.
 
 
Miller reminds the public, the University of Illinois Extension has master gardeners at almost all their offices. To reach Miller in DeWitt, Macon or Piatt County, contact 217-935-9764. 
 
You can also visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dmp. 

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Areas of Illinois Getting Dry

RAIN HAS BEEN HIT OR MISS ACROSS ILLINOIS…LEAVING SOME AREAS PRETTY DRY. 
 
SOME COMMUNITIES ARE SEEING PRECIPITATION…WHILE OTHERS AREN’T SO LUCKY SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL.
 
 
ANGEL SAYS AS A RESULT, CROPS AND VEGETATION ARE HAVING TO RELY ON SOIL MOISTURE TO GET A DRINK, SO THE TOP EIGHT INCHES IS RAPIDLY BEING DEPLETED IN SOME AREAS.
 
 
ANGEL SAYS THE MOST RAIN IN COMING DAYS IS EXPECTED IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS.

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Soybean Checkoff Board Offering Online Resources for Farmers

The Illinois Soybean Association promoting a valuable on-line tool for farmers in the field. It's something John Longley of Aledo uses.
 
 
Longley serves on the Illinois Soybean Association Board. He says the organization is hosting two field days this month--one on the 19th in Roseville and the other is in Belleville on the 20th. 
 
The events are free and you can register on-line at "ilsoy.org".

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Weekly Weather Summary

The week of the 4th of July started wet and finished hot and humid. State Climotologist Jim Angel tells us what to expect as we enter a new week.
 

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Rep. Brady Not Convinced Tax Increase Focuses on State's Priorities

The Illinois House on Thursday voted to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of an income tax increase and state budget, ending a historic budget impasse that lasted more two years.  
 
During floor debate State Representative Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) said the focus of his vote was he could not be convinced that the state’s top priorities are actually going to see the money from this budget. 
 
 
Lawmakers are awaiting word from Moody's Investment Institute as to whether or not the state will receive a junk bond status after the passage of the budget Thursday. 

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Local Business With DeWitt County Ties Recognized By State

A business with DeWitt County ties was recently recognized by the State of Illinois for being exclusively female-owned.
 
Prairie Fire Sprinkler, owned by Lisa Peacock, who's husband Lee is a DeWitt County native, is now an Illinois-certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), meaning the company can help other area businesses fulfill Illinois’ diversity business-building goals while it works to protect life and limb.
 
Prairie Fire Sprinkler Project Manager Lee Peacock, Lisa’s husband of just under 20 years, brings two decades of combined experience in management, sprinkler system drafting and design.
 
Lee is a native of Kenney and attended Clinton High School.
 
While Lisa is thankful for the WBE certification, she asserts her assets are rooted more in her aptitudes than her gender. She has long excelled at math and science, and savors their nexus in engineering. These strengths serve her current pursuit extremely well. 
 
The couple's business installed the sprinkler system for the new Save A Lot location last year. 

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First National Bank Announces VP of Ag and Business Banking

 
First National Bank and Trust Company is proud to announce Maggie Beitz as the new VP of Ag and Business Banking.
 
Beitz joins FNBT with experience as a commercial banking officer for Hickory Point Bank and as a credit analyst and commercial/Ag loan officer for First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust. For the past five years, she has actively worked in the food ingredient industry as a grain merchandiser for Bunge Milling.
 
Beitz attended Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill. on a Livestock Judging scholarship before completing her Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.
 
In a stament, Beitz said quote - “I am thankful and excited to be a part of the expansion at First National Bank and Trust Company and am enthusiastic about the broad range of services FNBT will be offering clients.”
 
Beitz said she is looking forward to becoming a bigger part of the DeWitt County community and looks forward to lending her support to 4-H and FFA. She and her husband, Shawn, reside in rural DeWitt County.
 

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Summer Projects Minimal In Clinton Schools This Summer

The summer months are a time for schools to catch up on the maintenance and upkeep of their buildings and even big projects.
 
After several summers of exciting upgrades across the district's facilities, Clinton Schools face minimal work. According to Superintendent Curt Nettles, the district is doing the basic deep cleaning and waxing floors in preparation of the next year.
 
 
Nettles indicates the summer can be busy for administration in preparation for the end of the fiscal year. He adds July slows down, but there is still preparation for the upcoming school year that needs to take place. 

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Sen. Rose: We Missed The Opportunity of a Lifetime

An opportunity of a lifetime missed is how one local lawmaker describes the last six days.
 
State Sen. Chapin Rose says Illinois Senators were 12 hours away from a budget deal that would have put Illinois on a path of fiscal health and prosperity before budget bills were called in the Illinois House.
 
 
The Senator does not see the budget agreement as a way to making much movement on the backlog of bills and also notes Illinois still faces a junk bond status from Moody's Investors Services.
 
 
Sen. Rose says the language around school funding is essentially handcuffing downstate schools until Chicago Public Schools get a bailout.
 
 
Sen. Rose hopes lawmakers can find middle ground on an evidenced based school funding model. 
 
He notes he maintained a no vote because he was not for a tax increase that was not tied to reforms. 

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HRC Looking Ahead With Renewed Optimism

The DeWitt County Human Resource Center has a new sense of optimism thanks to hard work from a lot of places.
 
The agency closed their doors and ended many, many services just over a year ago and now they are looking a head. Gary Gullone says the renewal started when the state came through with a stop gap budget but they had to take a hard look at their finances and find ways to save and make money.
 
 
The strength of the operation was Encore Thrift Store. According to Gullone, he noticed the store was not in financial trouble and Stephanie Coonce, Developmental Training Director at HRC, explains it is getting better because of a consent decree from the federal government.
 
 
Gullone sees a bright future ahead for HRC, including more work for their clients. He points to their garden showcase program as one that could expand and continue to benefit their clients and the community.
 
 
Coonce says the future of HRC will likely look different from what everyone came to know HRC as in the past. She explains their focus will likely be on those with mental disabilities as several services have come to the community for those with substance abuse challenges and other mental health challenges.
 
 
The facility at HRC East could use some significant improvements and Gullone explains, as they continue to firm their financial footing, they hope to start addressing some of the work that needs to be improved.

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Clinton Officials Excited About New Phone System in High School

It might seem like a no-brainer decision and a feature that should probably be in place already, but officials within Clinton Schools are excited about a new feature coming to their classrooms in the high school.
 
Clinton High School will be soon adding a new phone system in high school classrooms. Superintendent Curt Nettles says this will be a great addition, given the communication in the building now is very lacking for 21st century learning.
 
 
Nettles indicates the phone system is going to be a huge upgrade for a number of reasons. He says they won't need to add much in the way of infrastructure and it will provide much more privacy for converstations teachers need to have.
 
 
The Board approved the purchase at the June Board of Education Meeting and Junior High School Principal Drew Goebel spoke to the systems usefulness.
 
 
The phone system will be installed at the school at a cost of under $20-thousand, which he calls a bargain. 

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Senator Grassley Talks Farm Bill Cuts

The writing’s on the wall for the next farm bill: increasing program competition for evermore-limited dollars. One U.S. Senator sees some pretty stark choices. The central farm bill question will again boil down to nutrition versus farm program spending. Longtime Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley sees just two areas to rein in SNAP or food stamp spending.
 
 
Grassley says such moves spell out a “middle ground,” more likely to get sixty Senate votes than more severe cuts. House appropriators propose in fiscal 2018 to pare 5-billion in SNAP spending to meet slackening program demand, twice what President Trump proposes. Grassley says similar efforts to prioritize and pare spending are needed for farm safety net programs.
 
 
A USDA official told the Senate Agriculture Committee last week that popular USDA conservation programs from EQIP and CRP to CSP and the Regional Conservation Partnership are underfunded and oversubscribed by several times. The last farm bill cut conservation spending by 6-billion dollars over 10-years.

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Effort Across State To Link Veterans With Ag Opportunities

A statewide effort moving forward linking veterans with agriculture opportunities. 
 
It’s called the Farmer Veteran Alliance and involves input from 40 stakeholders throughout Illinois. Raghela (ra-gell-uh) Scavuzzo (sca-vooz-oh) is involved with the project. She's the Local Foods Manager for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
To learn more, Illinois veterans can log on to “illinoisfarmerveterans.org.” The project originated from an Illinois Farm Bureau working group three years ago. 

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Madigan Weighs In On Budget Saga

No state has gone without a budget this long since the Depression days of the dust bowl, breadlines and soup kitchens, but now Illinois has achieved budget peace. 
 
With Republican help in the Illinois House, Democrats were able to override Governor Bruce Rauner's vetoes of a spending plan and income tax increase.
 
House Speaker Mike Madigan is thankful bipartisanship ended the more than two year long impasse.
 
 
Illinois leaders now hope to avoid having their credit rating reduced to junk.

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House Overrides Governor's Veto

The House voted to override the veto pen of Governor Bruce Rauner on Thursday with the 71 votes needed, including republicans voting with democrats.
 
The Governor says that the move was “another step in Illinois never-ending tragic trail of tax hikes.” F
 
rom the floor of the House on Thursday, Speaker Mike Madigan the man Rauner wants to tie the tax hike too, says that what was done was accomplished in a cooperative manner.
 
 
Madigan added that there are more reforms to negoatiate and more compromise to come. 
 

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Lawmakers Blame Political Climate

The Capitol is on lockdown after a white powder was found in front of Governor Rauner's Capitol office. There's no word on the nature of the powder, and one person has been arrested. A vote to override Governor Rauner's vetoes of the state budget and tax hike are delayed as a result.
 
State Representative Dan Beiser (D-Alton) says it’s his opinion this incident is a result of the current political climate.
 
 
He says the incident began unfolding at around 1:30pm, when the announcement came to stay put. 

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State Capitol Put On Lockdown Thursday Afternoon

As the Illinois House was getting set to take a vote on overriding the Governors’ budget and tax veto the building goes on lockdown because of a white powdery substance thrown in front of the Governor’s office and the House Chambers. 
 
The Springfield Fire Department responded with a Haz-mat team and the Capitol Police locked the building down. Leaving some lawmakers outside of the building and school children locked inside. 
 
Springfield Fire Department’s Chris Richmond says there are no injuries so far. 
 
 
The Secretary of State – the office that is in charge of security for the Capitol complex says an arrest has been made. 
 
SOS Spokesperson Dave Druker won’t comment much further than that. 
 
A number of lawmakers and their staff were still trying to get into the building when it was closed. 
 
The all clear was given to reopen the Illinois State House just before 3:30.
 
The Springfield Department and their Haz-mat Team report that no dangerous substances were found in the white powder that was spread in front of the Governor’s office and by the House Chambers. 

 

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Illinois Lawmakers Receiving Threatening Comments

Both Republicans and Democrats in the House are preparing to take a vote on a possible override of Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of a budget and tax increase. 
But recently comments to lawmakers who voted in favor of the bills are taking on a threatening tone. A report from Politico says a Republican lawmaker was told they would be swinging from a tree and Steve Anderson, House GOP Floor Leader, says he been getting calls and text messages, one saying “I’m coming for you.” 
 
Today Democrat candidate for Governor Chris Kennedy says it’s time for political rhetoric to end that encourages violence. That’s after Rauner used these works to describe the outcome of voting to pass a budget and tax increase.
 
 
The House is coming back to session at 1:30 to vote on over ridding Rauner’s vetoes.

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HRC Celebrating Progress In Last Year

The DeWitt County Human Resource Center has been through the ringer in the last year and now officials are celebrating stability.
 
Almost a year removed from their doors shutting and services ending, Gary Gullone, HRC Board Director, and Stephanie Coonce, say it was the culmination of a spiral downwards thanks to a number of factors.
 
 
According to Gullone, despite having to shut the doors after staff layoffs, the clients of HRC were minimally impacted. He explains many outside providers stepped up to allow their clients to stay in the area and continue to get services.
 
 
Encore Thrift store never closed their doors, contrary to the opinion of the public. Coonce says they remained open, however, they suspended services to their client workers. She says that was short lived and then they got them back, fulfilling the mission of the thrift store.
 
 
The process of HRC shutting it's doors and stopping services for a short time was traumatic. That is how Coonce describes the process and explains it took a group of individuals very routine based, out of a routine some had for many years.
 
 
Gullone calls HRC blessed that many, many entities stepped up to take on their clients and get them the services they needed.
 
Tomorrow on Regional Radio News, we'll outline where HRC stands now financially and with their clients and what the future holds for the agency. 

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Lincoln's Depot Project On Hold Until State Budget Passes

A state budget appears on the horizon but that doesn't mean the five and a half days without a budget has allowed projects to continue on.
 
Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman indicates the Depot project in downtown Lincoln is now on hold until some state funds are freed up. He calls it a huge relief to know there is finally a budget to allow that to continue. 
 
 
Mayor Goodman explains the project's target completion time was at the end of June. The project has several streets and outlets closed down and indicates they could really use some of those to re-open for the business and residential community.
 
 
The Depot still does not have anything set to go in to it once it is completed. Mayor Goodman says it is still up in the air as to what will go in but he points to an organization like the tourism agency as a potential good fit, among several others.
 
 
Mayor Goodman explains there is a common misconception surrounding the financing behind the Depot project. Many in the community say the City paid too much to do that project but he says the reality is, most of the project was paid for through various grants.
 
 
The Depot is just one of many projects happening in the community this summer. Work will soon begin on a new McDonald's on the community's west side along with a new Dunkin' Donuts. 

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Moody's Issues Downgrade Threat, Sen. Rose Says Tax Hike Isn't the Answer

Moody's Institute has issued another threat to Illinois government about it's budget crisis and a local lawmaker is repeating comments made from earlier this week. 
 
The statement from Moody's also indicated that the state still risks a downgrade in its credit rating to junk status unless other reforms are put in place and a true balanced budget is achieved. Rose is the Senate Republican's appointed budget negotiator.
 
State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) issued the following statement in response to Moody's Investors Service announcement July 5 confirming that billions of dollars will remain in unpaid bills under the House budget plan even after a 32% income tax increase is enacted as part of the plan. 
 
The Senator said quote - "It should now be crystal clear that a tax increase alone won't solve our state's fiscal problems. Moody's highlights two major issues left unresolved by Speaker Madigan's House budget plan: it doesn't really help pay down much of the $15 billion in unpaid bills and it doesn't address Illinois' mountain of pension liability. After voting 'no' to the House plan, I warned that this so-called budget doesn't address the backlog of unpaid bills and while it may be a budget for a fiscal year, it is not the earth-shaking reform necessary to put Illinois on a fiscally responsible trajectory to prosperity. 
 
“Moody's statement confirms this assessment. Bottom line, we need a real budget and the only way to get there is real reform. I know that behind closed doors that the two parties were very close to a breakthrough plan that would finally bring this mess to an end. I would urge the House to immediately reopen the discussions on the cuts and reforms necessary to get a real budget that actually begins to address the billions in unpaid bills."
 
The Illinois House is set to convene today to override Governor Bruce Rauner's veto of the budget packages that includes what Democrats call a balanced budget with cuts and tax hikes to the income tax in the state. 

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Sen. Brady Talks Righter's Vote

The lone Illinois Senate Republican who voted with Democrats for a budget plan won't be ostracized by his new leader. 
 
Senator Minority Leader Bill Brady says Mattoon Republican Dale Righter was up front about his voting plans with fellow Republicans.
 
 
Righter said he would have liked a spending plan with deeper cuts but the deal was as good as Republicans could get in a Democratic controlled legislature.

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Weekly Crop Report

THE CONDITION OF CORN AND SOYBEAN CROPS IN ILLINOIS IS HOLDING STEADY.
 
15 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE BLOOMING WHICH IS ABOUT ON PAR WITH LAST YEAR AND THE FIVE YEAR AVERAGE. CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER TURNS TO SOYBEANS…
 
 
TWELVE PERCENT OF CORN IS NOW SILKING…AND THE CROP IMPROVED SLIGHTLY TO 65 PERCENT IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. 
 
 
91 PERCENT OF SORGHUM HAS BEEN PLANTED AND 90 PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS BEEN HARVESTED. 
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE DROPPED TO THREE PERCENT VERY SHORT, 25 PERCENT SHORT, 69 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND THREE PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Gov. Rauner Says His Veto Should Stand

Governor Bruce Rauner today says he’s doing what’s right for the people of Illinois by vetoing the budgets and tax increases passed by both Democrats and Republicans this week at the statehouse. 
 
Gov. Rauner says right now he is doing everything he can to make sure that his actions will stand over lawmaker’s wishes.
 
 
Rauner shrugged off the idea that credit rating companies would grade the state’s credit as junk. Rauner says lawmakers need to stop listening to Wall Street and instead citizens who don’t want higher taxes.

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House Sets Time To Override Governor Rauner's Veto of Budget

Shortly 1:30 pm Thursday afternoon could be when Illinois gets a full year's budget after two years without.
 
The House has set 1:30 pm Thursday to convene to take a vote on the Governor's override of a series of budget bills including income and corporate tax hikes.
 
Speaker Mike Madigan did not call lawmakers to the Capitol today because not enough members could make it have a quorum. 
 
The new budget increases the personal income tax from 3-point-7-5 to 4-point-9-5 percent, and the corporate tax from 5-point-2-5 to 7 percent. Both tax increases are permanent.
 
Democrats claim the 36-point-one billion dollar budget is balanced, with 2-point-5 billion in spending cuts and one-point-5 billion in pension savings.
 
Republicans wanted reforms in state spending, but didn't get any.  

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Local Lawmakers React To State Budget Agreement

Local lawmakers are reacting to a package of budget bills that would increase taxes in Illinois.
 
State Sen. Chapin Rose (right) says these bills do not fix the root problems in Illinois. They do not fix the spending problem and jeopardize schools opening in the fall.
 
 
Recently appointed Senate Minority leader Sen. Bill Brady also could not support the bill and calls it incomplete. He echoes the sentiments of Sen. Rose and says Illinois still has issues that need to be resolved.
 
 
Sen. Rose is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and was one of the members appointed by his caucus to negotiate the budget. He indicates they were making good progress through the weekend and then Speaker Mike Madigan started calling budget bills in the House.
 
 
Sen. Brady is still hopeful a budget deal can still be finished. 

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Celebrate Clinton Association Excited For Fireworks Display Despite Minor Hiccup

The fireworks display for the Celebrate Clinton Associations could not cap their annual Fourth of July activities on the square this year, but despite the change in plans, officials are still optimistic for a good show.
 
Patrick Peterson with the Celebrate Clinton Association indicates they had a last minute change with the vendor they had lined up and were forced to switch. He feels though, they have found a world-class vendor and is optimistic it will be just as good, even though they will go off July 5.
 
 
The display will once again go off out by the Douglas subdivision. Since the Celebrate Clinton Association took over the fireworks display, Peterson has hoped to increase the investment into the annual show.
 
 
The fireworks display makes up about half of what the Celebrate Clinton Association spends to make the event happen. Peterson notes though, without the support of the community though, the events on the square and the display don't take place.
 
 
The fireworks display tonight is scheduled for around dusk, or approximately 9:15 pm. 

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DeWitt County 4-H Horse Show Recap, Fair Preview

The DeWitt County 4-H Horse Show was this past Saturday and now organizers are looking ahead to this weekend's general 4-H show. 
 
According to superintendent at the DeWitt County 4-H Horse Show, Dan Ennis, Macon, Piatt and DeWitt Counties all participated in the fair and validated the improvements and expansions of the fairgrounds and the barns.
 
 
This Sunday, July 9, is another opportunity for kids to come out and show off their equine skills and, Ennis adds, for people who weren't aware of the 4-H Horse Show to get to see them in action.
 
 
Kim Gibbons from University of Illinois Extension adds that the schedule for the 9th has changed slightly in that the animals will be shown in the mornings because of the heat.
 
 
To learn more about the DeWitt County 4-H Fair visit web.extension.illinois.edu.
 
 

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Illinois Senate Passes Budget, Overrides Governor's Veto; House Override Will Make Budget Law

Illinois is 2 roll-call votes away from having its first full-year budget in 3 years, dealing a blow to Governor Bruce Rauner's reform agenda.

The Illinois Senate Tuesday morning passed both the spending bill and the tax increase bill, that were approved by the House on Sunday.  Both passed with some Senate Republicans voting "yes" on both bills to provide the veto-proof majority needed to override the Governor's veto, which came at 1:39 Tuesday afternoon.

The Senate quickly overrode the Governor's veto of both bills in votes later on Tuesday afternoon, and Illinois' first full-year budget will be law when the Illinois House convenes to override the Governor's veto of both bills.

As of Tuesday night, it wasn't known when exactly Speaker Michael Madigan would call the House back into session.  Representatives were called into session Tuesday afternoon after the Governor's veto, but couldn't do business because of a lack of a quorum. 

Word out of Springfield Tuesday night, was that the House would convene for the override votes, on Wednesday at 10, but if not enough members were present for the 2 votes, it could be delayed until Thursday.  Their Sunday vote on both spending and tax increase bills were veto-proof, which means that when they vote to override the Governor's veto with what should be a veto-proof majority once again, the budget wil become law.

The new budget increases the personal income tax from 3-point-7-5 to 4-point-9-5 percent, and the corporate tax from 5-point-2-5 to 7 percent. Both tax increases are permanent.

Democrats claim the 36-point-one billion dollar budget is balanced, with 2-point-5 billion in spending cuts and one-point-5 billion in pension savings.

Republicans wanted reforms in state spending, but didn't get any.  
Reforms the Republicans wanted include statewide property tax relief, cost reductions in workers' compensation and benefits for state-employee pensions, and working toward dissolving or eliminating local governments.

Several Republicans in both chambers did vote for both the spending plan and the tax increase.

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Illinois Senate Passes Budget Tuesday Morning; Governor Threatens Veto

The Senate today (Tuesday) voted to send Governor Bruce Rauner a budget package that could put an end to the two-year stalemate that has crippled Illinois’ finances and has bond houses threatening to lower Illinois to an unprecedented “junk” credit rating this week.  It's the same package the House passed on Sunday.  Rauner has already said if it reached his desk, he would veto it.
Votes for both the spending plan and tax increase in both Chambers were veto proof, which means even if the Governor vetos both the spending plan and tax increase, the House and Senate will vote to override and the budget will become law.
The new budget increases the personal income tax from 3-point-7-5 to 4-point-9-5 percent, and the corporate tax from 5-point-2-5 to 7 percent. Both tax increases are permanent.
Democrats claim the 36-point-one billion dollar budget is balanced, with 2-point-5 billion in spending cuts and one-point-5 billion in pension savings.
Republicans wanted reforms in state spending, but didn't get any.  
Reforms the Republicans wanted include statewide property tax relief, cost reductions in workers' compensation and benefits for state-employee pensions, and working toward dissolving or eliminating local governments.

Several Republicans in both chambers did vote for both the spending plan and the tax increase.

At mid-afternoon on Tuesday, the Senate was working to get the paperwork to the Governor so he could officially veto the budget, with the Senate remaining in session for the override vote late in the day on Tuesday.

House Speaker Michael Madigan has not announced when he'll call the House back in session for an override vote there.

Wall Street is watching the budget proceedings closely, as the state's bonds could end up in junk bond status if the budget isn't approved.

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Contract for Road Maintenance Project Awarded to Otto Baum Company, Inc.

The contract for construction on Hillcrest Drive and Jericho Road was awarded to Otto Baum Company, Inc. at the City Council meeting Monday night.
 
According to Public Works Director, Steve Lobb, a pre-construction meeting will happen with Otto Baum within the next two weeks with a tentative start date of July 17.
 
The project includes new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and some driveway and pavement work. The job could last anywhere from 30 to 45 days.
 
Lobb adds that, as with any construction, there will be some inconvenience, specifically for the homeowners and residents.
 
 
Lobb looks forward to a finished result that everyone can appreciate.

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Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation's "Ready to Work" Program

Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation has a "Ready to Work" program designed to help those with criminal records get back into the workforce.
 
According to Susan Zielke, managing attorney at LoLLAF, the "Ready to Work" program is there to help seal previous criminal records that would hinder a person from getting a job or finding housing.
 
The crimes would need to be misdemeanors and non-violent crimes to qualify for sealing. Once the record has been sealed, it will no longer be publicly accessible without a court order.
 
 
For more information, call the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Hotline at 877-342-7891.

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Dem's Can't Be the Only Votes to Raise Taxes

Under threat of veto the Illinois House approved a budget and tax increase to pay for it. But the Governor has already promised to veto the tax increase calling it the largest one in Illinois history – even though the personal tax jumps to four point five nine percent – a fraction below the level of five percent where it sat once before. 
The spokesperson for Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, Steve Brown says this deal only came together because of support from Republicans and you can’t expect Democrats to be the only party that votes to raise taxes. 
 
 
Brown says there are more bills under discussion inside the House including a proposal freezing property taxes.

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Controversial film premieres in Illinois next week

With positive reviews from both the New York and Los Angeles Times, a documentary that tries to tackle the explosive topic of the use of biotechnology in food production makes its premiere in Chicago next week. Entitled, "Food Evolution," its director, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, says the film explores both sides on the use of genetically modified organisms, or more commonly known as G-M-Os;
 
 
Two members of the Illinois Farm Bureau's Young Leader Committee had the chance to see "Food Evolution" before the documentary had its premiere. Here's what Jenny Jackson of Jacksonville and Mark Ruschhaupt (ROOSH-hawpt) of Staunton thought about the film;
 
"Food Evolution" makes its Illinois debut next Wednesday at the Studio Movie Grill in Chicago. 

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Illinois Senate Working On Independence Day; Budget Vote Scheduled

The Illinois Senate is working on Independence Day, to take up the 2 budget bills passed on Sunday by their counterparts in the Illinois House.

On Monday, a leaders meeting came up short of a quorum. Both Republican leaders didn’t show up for a meeting scheduled for 1 on Monday. Senate President John Cullerton says that he and the rest of the Democrat Caucus are ready to continue talks and negotiations on workers comp and property tax freezes among other issues.

The Senate has already passed a budget and tax hike but now they will need to do so with 36 votes instead of 32 and Cullerton will almost certainly need Republican votes this time around to pass both a tax increase and a budget bill.

Governor Rauner has indicated that if the budget that passed the House and is being voted on by the Senate on Tuesday, reaches his desk, he will veto it.

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Rep. Mitchell: Vote For Tax Increase Hardest Decision in My Career

"The hardest decision of my political career" is how one local lawmaker described the tax increase that passed the House of Representatives Sunday night.
 
State Representative Bill Mitchell says it was the first tax increase he's ever supported from his time in local government all the way to the state capitol.
 
 
The Governor is likely to veto the budget if it gets through the Senate because it doesn’t have enough of the Governor's reforms. Rep. Mitchell points out the proposed budget was balanced, and he felt that was a reform on its own.
 
 
The income tax hike would be raised to 4.95-percent, slightly less than the five percent income tax rate that expired in 2014. 

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Body Found Near Funks Grove Nature Preserve in McLean County

The McLean County Sheriff's Office is investigating the discovery of a woman's body Sunday night near the Funks Grove Nature Preserve in McLean County.
 
In a release, Sheriff Jon Sandage says a woman's body was discovered by two people walking a trail Sunday evening. 
 
The middle-aged woman was dead at the scene. 
 
The Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services are investigating as the death is being called "suspicious." The McLean County Coroner is assisting in the investigation.
 
The Sugar Grove Nature Center will be closed until dawn July 5. The closure will impact trail that extends to the Funks Grove Church and cemetery. 
 
McLean Fire and Rescue Squads were on scene along with sheriff's deputies and the coroner. 
 
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Sheriff’s Detective Cory Beverlin at 309-888-5048.

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Clinton Schools Spent Slightly More Than Antcipated in FY17

Clinton Schools last Tuesday night at their regular board of education meeting, re-arranged some funding to balance some additional spending from the Fiscal Year 17 budget.
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles explains the district faced some additional spending with technology, as they sought to update the Apple devices in their classrooms.
 
 
According to Nettles, the district sent more students than planned to the Bloomington Area Career Center, which he says is a good thing. They also incurred some additional, unexpected healthcare costs for students.
 
 
Nettles reports the State still owes the district almost $150-thousand for transportation for special education students and haven't received two of four yearly payments.

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Organizers Ready For Celebrate Clinton Fourth of July Festivities

Organizers of the Celebrate Clinton Association are gearing up for the annual Fourth of July celebration on the downtown Clinton Square.
 
Despite fireworks having to be put off a day, the Fourth of July activities will go on. Patrick Peterson with the Celebrate Clinton Association indicates the day starts with a 5K hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters. Then a free breakfast is served by the Clinton Fire and Police Departments.
 
Peterson says the flag raising ceremony will draw a big crowd at 9 am.
 
 
There will be plenty of entertainment on the stage of the Mr. Lincoln Square throughout the day. Peterson, who designed the Stage for the City of Clinton, indicates they have a good group of local bands to take the stage Tuesday.
 
 
Along with the entertainment, there will be plenty of food to be had and activities for the children, including the watermelon eating contest and the bike decorating contest as well. 
 
All information about the Fourth of July Celebration in Clinton can be found at the Celebrate Clinton Association's Facebook page. There are also entry forms for all the competitions at their Facebook page.

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Monticello Freedom Fest Tonight

With the Fourth of July around the corner comes the long standing Monticello Freedom Fest.
 
Deb McPheeters with the Monticello Freedom Fest says the festivities are held at Lodge Park in Monticello beginning at 4pm, with shuttles from the high school beginning at 5:30pm. The festivities include pony rides, a DJ, inflatables, and food vendors. Fireworks are set to begin at dark.
 
 
McPheeters indicates that the Freedom Fest is strictly by donation. The Freedom Fest was started when the people who ran the fireworks decided to retire, and a group of community members banded together to continue the tradition.
 
 
Tune in tonight to 95.9 FM WEZC for live coverage of the Monticello Freedom Fest from 4pm to 6pm.

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Bill Brady New Senate Minority Leader

Senator Bill Brady was a unanimous pick to serve as Senate Minority Leader after the sudden departure of Christine Radogno. 
 
Brady pledges to make bipartisanship a core value of his leadership.
 
 
Brady has been a member of the chamber since 2002. He restores a downstate presence to the legislative leadership.

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Ag Industry Urges Trump to Appoint Full USDA Leadership Team

As President Donald Trump approaches the 200-day mark of his administration, more than a dozen agriculture organizations are urging him to move quickly to fill vacancies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
 
A letter sent to the White House Wednesday by the National Corn Growers Association and other groups told the President that agriculture needs decision makers in place to serve farmers, ranchers and consumers. 
 
The groups noted the 55 percent decrease in farm income over the last three years. The organizations praised the selection of Sonny Perdue to lead USDA, but noted that the agency has more than 100,000 employees and needs a full leadership team. 
 
As the letters states: “The absence of high-ranking officials at USDA puts our farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage.” 
 
NCGA President Wesley Spurlock complimented Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s leadership, but says “It's time to get a full leadership team in place."

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House Ag Budget Not Aligned with Trump Proposal

House Agriculture Appropriators have ignored many of President Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 spending cuts to the Department of Agriculture, advancing a bill to full committee, with bipartisan support.
 
The president’s request cut USDA funding by 21 percent, zeroing out many programs. The $145 billion House subcommittee bill cuts spending for USDA and the Food And Drug Administration by just five percent from current levels.
 
Ag Appropriations Chair Robert Aderholt…
 
            
 
Meanwhile, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is still cut by almost 5-billion to 74-billion, but an amount that meets SNAP enrollment and Democrats can live with.
 
Top subcommittee Democrat Sanford Bishop on the overall package…
 
 
Other Trump cuts Aderholt and Republicans restored…
 
 
The House subcommittee would also protect county FSA offices and ag research facilities…
 
 
 
There’s $2.8 billion in the bill for ag research, more than $900 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and about the same for conservation programs. The bill includes just over $1 billion for food safety and inspection, and continued funding for international food aid programs the president ‘zeroed out.’

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BREAKING: Illinois House Passes Revenue, Spending Proposal Sunday Night; Includes Tax Increases

The Illinois House Sunday evening passed both a spending plan and a revenue plan with veto-proof majorities, and sent both to the Illinois Senate for action, while the state still doesn't have an official budget for the fiscal year that started on Saturday.
The revenue plan includes hiking the state personal income tax rate from 3-point-7-5 to 4-point-9-5 percent, which is a 32-percent increase.  Corporate income taxes also go up under the House revenue plan, from 5-point-2-5 to 7 percent.
The Illinois Channel reports House Republican Minority Leader Jim Durkin  complained that “once again” legislators got several hundred pages of spending, of billions of dollars, and had only three hours to review them before voting Sunday evening.  
Area legislators were split on voting for the tax increases.  Republicans Avery Bourne and Tim Butler both voted against them.   Reggie Phillips, whose district includes Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, and Sara Wojcicki Jimenez of Leland Grove, whose district includes Springfield, were among 15 Republicans that voted in favor of the tax hikes.
Both proposals now go to the Illinois Senate for consideration.  The state still doesn't have an official budget, leaving schools, universities, human services, and road projects in limbo.
After Sunday's vote in the Illinois House, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner said if the budget reaches his desk, he'll veto it.

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IEMA Reminding Parents to “Look Before You Lock” to Prevent Child Deaths

Each year in the U.S., an average of 37 children die from heatstroke after being left in locked cars. So far in 2017, 14 child fatalities have occurred. With the hottest days of summer just around the corner, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and county and municipal emergency management agencies are urging parents to take steps to ensure their children aren’t locked in a hot car.
 
Emergency management officials will be offering heat safety tips throughout July as part of Heat Safety Awareness Month in Illinois.
 
“No one should ever be left in a parked car, even for a short time,” said IEMA Director James Joseph. “Temperatures inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to dangerous levels even if the windows are open slightly, and can lead to brain damage or death.”
 
Joseph said heat effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults. He encourages parents to develop habits that will ensure the backseat is always checked before the car is locked, such as putting a purse, cell phone or other needed item in the back seat or making it a routine to open the car’s back door every time the car is parked.
 
“We experience hot and humid conditions several times during the summer in Illinois. The combination of this heat and humidity can reach dangerous levels, particularly for those spending time outdoors in direct sunlight and in buildings without air conditioning,” said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln. “Illnesses and fatalities due to heat are preventable. Never leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle; look before you lock your automobile.”
 
Other hot weather tips include the following:
 
  •     Always lock car doors and trunks, even at home, and keep keys out of children's reach.
  •     Stay hydrated by drinking at least 1½ to 2 quarts of fluids daily, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  •     Avoid alcoholic beverages and drinks containing caffeine.
  •     Avoid overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities if possible.
  •     Take advantage of cooling centers, public pools and air-conditioned stores and malls during periods of extreme heat. Even a few hours a day in air conditioning can help prevent heat-related illnesses.
  •     Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  •     Don’t forget your pets. Offer pets extra water and place the water bowl in a shaded area if outdoors. Make sure pets have a shady refuge where they can escape direct sun exposure.
  •     If you or someone around you begins experiencing dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion and a rapid pulse, seek medical attention immediate, as these could be the symptoms of heatstroke.
 
Additional tips on how to protect yourself and others from heat-related illnesses are available at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

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Piatt and Macon County U of I Extension offering Farm to Table Classes

Central Illinois is home to some of the most productive farmland in the world. Make the most out of locally grown produce this summer with Farm to Table a fun series of hands-on cooking classes from University of Illinois Extension. Learn how to incorporate locally grown vegetables into your meals with new recipes from Nutrition & Wellness Educator Caitlin Huth, meet the farmers who grow them and leave with a selection of seasonal vegetables to use at home.
 
Farm to Table will be offered from 2 to 3 p.m. and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 24. The class will feature cucumbers, summer squash, lettuce and tomatoes.
 
A small fee will cover program costs. Participants should register by August 17 online at go.illinois.edu/dmp or by calling the Extension office at 217.762.2191. Classes will take place at the Piatt County Extension Office, located at 210 S. Market St. in Monticello.
 
Farm to Table classes will also be available at the Macon County Extension Office, 2 to 3 p.m. and 6:30 to 7 p.m. on August 15. Maddox Sweet Corn Farm and the Macon County Farm Bureau will be featured guests.

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Illinois Still Without a Budget; Rauner Calls 911 Bill A Tax Increase

Illinois still does not have a budget as of Saturday night.  Republicans and Democrats in both houses, negotiated into the night on Friday night and were back at it on Saturday, in hopes that both chambers would vote on a budget for the new fiscal year that started on Saturday.

But Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan ruled while the House was in session on Saturday, that there would not be a vote on a budget, and that prompted an outburst in the House chamber.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, told House members he thought that the negotiations were going well enough in both chambers, that the House and Senate could be voting on the budget on Saturday.  That didn't happen.

The House had passed a procedural test vote on the budget on Friday, by a wide margin, with both Democrats and Republicans voting for it.

Madigan announced later in the day on Saturday, that he was calling a vote on the proposed tax increase, on Sunday.

The Illinois Channel is reporting that Republican Representative Tom Demmers, and Republican State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington-Normal, held a news conference on Saturday, complaining that Speaker Madigan's tactics had slowed negotiations, and they were both disappointed. 

Meanwhile, Governor Bruce Rauner said he was disappointed that the General Assembly overrode his amendatory veto of a bill that will continue to fund 9-1-1 emergency call centers across the state.  Rauner released a statement saying that the increases in fees that will be assessed on Illinois residents' phone bills as part of the 9-1-1 bill, amounts to a tax increase.

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Miller Park Zoo Featuring New Animals

The Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington is home to newborn animals from endangered species.
 
Miller Park Zoo superintendent Jay Tetzloff indicates that the zoo recently welcomed the addition of red wolf pups. The red wolf is a critically endangered species and the parents are first time breeders.
 
 
Tetzloff says that the zoo also welcomed the addition of six newborn San Clemente goats to the childrens' petting zoo. The San Clemente goat is a critical rare goat breed. Zoos across the U.S. and Canada have helped to increase the San Clemente goat population.
 
For more information or for upcoming events visit millerparkzoo.org. 

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Sen. Chapin Rose Honors Trooper Ryan Albin

37 year old ISP Trooper Ryan Albin of Bellflower succumbed to injuries suffered in a crash on Interstate 74 in DeWitt County on Wednesday, June 28.
 
State Sen. Chapin Rose spoke about Trooper Albin on the Senate floor Friday, June 30 and asked for a moment of silence to honor his service.
 
 
 
 
 

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Sen. Bill Brady Chosen as New Senate GOP Leader

ILLINOIS SENATE REPUBLICANS ARE CHOOSING SENATOR BILL BRADY OF BLOOMINGTON AS THEIR NEW LEADER.
 
SENATOR BRADY WILL REPLACE CURRENT LEADER CHRISTINE RADOGNO, WHO ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK THAT SHE IS STEPPING DOWN. HE BEGINS THE POSITION IN THE MIDST OF A LONG RUNNING BUDGET STALEMATE.
 
 
SENATOR BRADY HAS SERVED IN THE SENATE SINCE 2002…AND WILL BE THE ONLY LEGISLATIVE LEADER FROM DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS.
 
 
BRADY IS REPLACING LEADER CHRISTINE RADOGNO, WHO JUST ANNOUNCED SHE IS STEPPING DOWN FROM HER POSITION.

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No Budget But A Little Closer

It’s not the moment that ends the state’s budget crisis but it’s a step closer than lawmakers have been in quite some time. The House today voted 90 to 25 for an amendment that contains a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. House Speaker Mike Madigan says the vote is a good step forward. Republican Representative Steve Anderson gave a stirring speech on the House floor in support of getting a budget passed.
 
 
Another vote still needs to be held – and that might not be done today. The House will be back in session on Saturday if needed. No votes so far have been taken on increasing revenue’s to help pay for current state spending or the massive backlog of unpaid bills. 
 
Madigan also sent a letter to bond houses to ask them to delay in dropping the state’s credit ratings to junk status. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

June had above average temperatues with below average rainfall. State Climatologist Jim Angel has the latest...
 

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