Local News

New Football Coach, Fire Chief Among 2017 Top Stories

As we get set to turn the calendar on a new year, Regional Radio News is taking a look back at the top stories from 2017.
 
Starting with No. 10
 
>>Area Fire Crews Gather For Large Training Excercise in Clinton
 
 
No. 9
 
>>Clinton Board of Education Reshuffles
 
 
No. 8
 
>>Clinton City Council Agrees To Eliminate Parking Meters
 
 
The Council acted after an initial conversation about the issue earlier in the fall.
 
 
No. 7
 
>>Jeff Hoke Named Clinton Fire Chief
 
 
No. 6
 
>>Clinton High School Names Football Coach
 
 
Blackburn led the Maroons to a 3-6 record in his first year in Clinton.
 
Tune in tomorrow for the countdown to number one on the top stories of 2017. 

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IDOT Urging Motorists To Drive Safely This Holiday Weekend

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS WARNING THE PUBLIC TO KEEP NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATIONS OFF THE ROAD. 
 
STATE AND LOCAL POLICE ARE STEPPING UP PATROLS THIS WEEKEND AND WILL BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR DRUNK DRIVERS AND THOSE NOT BUCKLED UP. I-DOT SPOKESPERSON KELSEA GURSKI SAYS THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPTIONS FOR GETTING HOME SAFELY.
 
 
THERE HAVE BEEN 46 FATALITIES DURING THE NEW YEAR’S HOLIDAY OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. 41 PERCENT OF THOSE DEATHS INVOLVED ALCOHOL. 
 
 
GURSKI SAYS THE BEST WAY TO STAY SAFE IS TO MAKE A PLAN FOR GETTING HOME BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT TO PARTY.

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Manar looks forward to effects of school funding reform

On Monday, the school funding reform package, passed by lawmakers earlier this year, will take effect. State Senator Andy Manar, the longtime architect of school funding reform plans, says it won't take long for some Illinois school districts to notice the difference...
 
 
But Manar isn't locked in celebration mode. He notes Illinois schools face another major issue that money alone can't fix.....
 
 
The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents reports 60-percent of districts are feeling the teacher shortage

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New Law Allows 16, 17 Year Olds To Be Organ Donors

A NEW STATE LAW TAKING EFFECT IN 2018 WILL LET 16 AND 17 YEAR OLDS SIGN UP TO BECOME ORGAN DONORS. 
 
LOWERING THE AGE FROM 18 WILL LET THOUSANDS OF TEENS JOIN THE STATE’S ALREADY LARGE ORGAN AND TISSUE DONOR REGISTRY SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE.
 
 
SECRETARY WHITE SAYS 47-HUNDRED PEOPLE ARE ON THE WAITING LIST IN ILLINOIS AND ABOUT 300 DIE EACH YEAR BECAUSE A TRANSPLANT DIDN’T COME IN TIME. HE EXPLAINS HOW THE LAW WILL WORK.
 
 
WHITE’S OFFICE ESTIMATES THIS CHANGE COULD POTENTIALLY ADD 350 THOUSAND MORE NAMES TO THE STATE’S ORGAN DONOR REGISTRY.

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Local Authortities Focusing on DUIs This Holiday Weekend

If you plan to party this weekend, local authorities are encouraging you to do the right thing and not drink and drive.
 
DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner reminds the public, DUI offenders in DeWitt County go to jail and they are ramping up their enforcement this weekend.
 
 
The Sheriff's office is even stepping to the extent of offering local patrons or those needing travel accommodationsa to give them a ride to their destination. However, he says, do what you have to do to be safe.
 
 
Additionally, with frigid temperatures in the forecast for the holiday weekend, the Sheriff implores those traveling to get an emergency kit in their vehicle. The Sheriff notes, if you do find yourself stranded, stay in your vehicle, as it is the safest place for you, and call 9-1-1. 

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Clinton Schools Plan Social Media Use Expansion

If you are active on social media, you'll want to be sure to follow the Clinton School district.
 
Superintendent Curt Nettles indicates administration in the district is planning an expanded use of social media to tell the stories of the things happening in their classrooms. He calls it a branding effort.
 
 
Several administrators already have social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, but look for more activity from those accounts and other to pop up in the new year. You can get a link to the social media accounts by visiting www.cusd15.org. 

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Getting ready for tax season

The income tax filing season will soon be here and now is a good time to review your situation. Michael Devine with the IRS says don’t let the current hype about taxes overshadow what needs to be done now.
 
 
Devine adds that any other legal changes made during 2017 need to be updated before filing taxes for 2017.

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New Law Requires Dealers To Remove Window Sticker Before Vehicle Test Drives

IT’S A SIMPLE NEW LAW TAKING EFFECT IN 2018…BUT ONE THAT CAN SAVE LIVES SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE. 
 
THE LAW REQUIRES NEW AND USED CAR DEALERS TO REMOVE STICKERS, DECALS AND PAPERWORK FROM CAR WINDOWS BEFORE A CUSTOMER TEST DRIVES THE VEHICLE SAYS SECRETARY WHITE.
 
 
THE LAW WAS PROMPTED BY THE DEATH OF 21 YEAR OLD BRENDAN BURKE.
 
 
BRENDAN WAS KILLED BY A MAN TEST DRIVING A VEHICLE WITH DECALS AND STICKERS LIMITING HIS VIEW.

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Clinton Schools Renew Lease on Buses

If you want an example of the impact the power station has on Clinton Schools through their tax dollars, look no further than dismissal time at each school building in Clinton and you'll get a glimpse. 
 
Thanks to the power station's tax dollars, the Clinton district is able to keep their fleet of buses up to date and Superintendent, Cut Nettles, indicates the Board of Education last week approved renewing the lease on their fleet thanks to the power plants permanency in the community. 
 
 
According to Nettles, the district's transportation fund is very strong despite the State of Illinois not keeping up with their payments this year.
 
 
The transportation fund in the district's budget is just one of several funds that receive money from the approximately $7-million in tax revenues from the power station. Nettles indicates there is a tax rate for each fund and one gets the money based on that percentage. 

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DeWitt County Animal Control Officer Reminding Residents To Remember Your Pets During Cold Stretch

It's one of the longest cold stretches central Illinois has seen in some time and local authorities are reminding residents to remember your pets and their well being this time of the year.
 
Melanie Kinney is the new Animal Control Officer in DeWitt County and she reminds residents outdoor pets need to be brought indoors during these frigid stretches and provided adequate drinking water, food and blankets or things to keep warm.
 
 
Kinney says it would be best if pets are not out more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time during these cold stretches. She encourages a call to law enforcement or the Animal Control office if you see or know of a pet in distress.
 
 
Authorities remind pet owners, if it is too cold for you, it is too cold for your pet. 

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Allerton Park Upcoming Winter Events

Post-holiday events are coming up at Allerton Park this season.
 
According to Hannah Dole, Movie at the Mansion will be back in January with a showing of the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She indicates you should move fast if you'd like to participate, as tickets for this event tend to sell out.
 
 
Dole adds that there will be a rest and recharge Digital Detox Weekend in January and a Valentine's weekend in February, complete with a showing of The Princess Bride and a murder mystery party.
 
 
Tickets are available on the Allerton Park website, allerton.illinois.edu.

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Congressman Davis Talks Net Nuetrality

The FCC earlier this month repealed Net Neutrality and it has polarized the American public.
 
Congressman Rodney Davis recognizes there is a lot of publicity and polarization surrounding the issue but he feels this more about allowing further access to the internet rather than restricting it.
 
 
Congressman Davis says it isn't good for the Government to regulate the internet like a public utility. He feels it's about giving everyone the opportunity to access all the information available at our fingertips.
 
 
Congressman Davis says lawmakers will be watching the FCC for overreach and denial of access and step in where necessary.

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Holiday Patrols Continue

Law enforcement agencies across the state have beefed up patrols ahead of the New Year's Eve holiday. The Illinois State Police have joined forces with local departments as they look to reduce the number of distracted and drunk drivers on Illinois' roadways. 
 
Illinois State Police Trooper Heath Bryan says these patrols will include several special details and roadside safety checks throughout the state, so he advises you plan ahead.
 
 
Bryan says the number one factor in fatal crashes is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

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Governor Finalizes Mahomet Aquifer Task Force Members

Last week, the Governor finalized the members that will make up a special task force to analyze the Mahomet Aquifer and centralize their focus on efforts to keep it safe.
 
State Sen. Chapin Rose, who was previously already named to the task force, says there is going to be plenty of local representation.
 
 
The task force, consists of 25 members, will have representation from all over Illinois and Sen. Rose indicates they want to be proactive in efforts to address challenges the Aquifer faces and protect it.
 
 
While Sen. Rose recognizes his voice isn't the only one and he has no final say in any decisions, he wants to see an effort aimed at monitoring the Aquifer and perhaps utilizing the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.
 
 
The Mahomet Aquifer provides drinking water for three-quarters of a million Illinoisans stretching from far western Illinois to the Indiana state line.
 
Sen. Rose wants this group to not just get together and discuss the problems, but he wants them to find comprehensive solutions to take to the legislature for consideration when their work is complete. 

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Monticello Holiday Hoopla Biggest Fundraiser for Athletic Boosters

The hundreds of sports fans that go through Monticello High School this week for the Holiday Hoopla basketball tournament will see some great games, but behind the scenes, the frenzy of the three days is actually a huge fundraising effort.
 
The Holiday Hoopla is a product of a lot of hard work by volunteers with the Monticello High School Athletic Booster club and Boosters President, Angie Bundy says this tournament is now in it's 20th year.
 
 
This the biggest fundraising effort of the year for the Monticello Athletic Booster Club. Bundy says this helps them raise money for the teams in various ways.
 
 
The Monticello Athletic Boosters meet the first Wednesday of each month at 7 pm at the high school. Bundy indicates they are always seek more members and more volunteers.
 
For more information, visit sages.us where there is a link to the Booster Club information.
 
Tune in today for the start of five games over the three day event on 95.9 FM WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com, starting at 11:30 am with boys basketball action against Argenta-Oreana, then at 7:30 pm tonight, the boys take on Tuscola.
 
Then tomorrow, at 2 pm, hear girls basketball action against Ridgeview and then hear boys basketball action at 3:30 pm, also against Ridgeview.
 
And WEZC will have the boys placement game on Saturday at a time to be determined. 

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Late Shotgun Deer Season Aims To Control Deer Population

The late shotgun deer season starts this weekend across parts of Illinois.
 
The hunt is designed to help control the deer population in certain areas of the state. DNR Conservation Police Sargent, John Williamson, indicates the areas are chosen after research of different variables. 
 
 
During the breeding season, Williamson indicates bucks will be out moving a lot but by-and-large, deer herds do not migrate much at all from one place to another.
 
 
The antler-less deer season runs December 28 through December 31 then again January 12-14. 
 
The late winter deer season is December 28-31 only.

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More Frigid Weather Coming This Winter

Illinois is getting blasted right now with frigid temperatures. And the outlook is for winter to remain on the cold side. 
 
State Climatologist Jim Angel says that a weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, La Nina, is going to influence how many layers you’re going to be wearing.
 
 
The current blast of arctic air is about the coldest stretch most of the state has seen since
early 2014.

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Tax Reform Legislation Impact on Ag Industry

Besides doubling the estate tax exemption, what other impacts will the new tax reform legislation have on the ag industry? 
 
Adam Nielsen is the director of national legislation and policy development at the Illinois Farm Bureau. 
 
 
The Illinois Farm Bureau surveyed farmers on tax policy during 2017 and were also involved in an action request on the issue. 

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DNR Discusses Ice Fishing Safety

Whether you are venturing out locally or in another part of the state or country, DNR officials are reminding ice hunters to be very safe this year.
 
DNR Conservation Sargent John Williamson indicates the ice fishing this time of the year at Clinton Lake can be very popular, especially if it is as cold as it is this week.
 
 
While waterways will freeze from the shoreline out, they thaw from the middle-inward. Williamson cautions if you plan to venture out towards the middle of a pond or lake, you need to be very careful.
 
 
Williamson indicates, a calm, cool freeze is the best conditions for water freeze. He notes Clinton Lake has a couple areas that are usually frozen.
 
 
Williamson encourages ice fisherman to take an ice pick, ice auger and take a life jacket. He says you can't take enough safety precautions when ice fishing. 

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Monticello's Cully Welter Named To Illinois High School Football Coaches Assocation 2018 Hall of Fame Class

The Illinois High School Football Coaches Association has named its 2018 Hall of Fame class. 
 
It includes Cully Welter, who led former Aledo High School to three state titles and two runner-up finishes. He says his job is all about building productive relationships with student-athletes on and off the field.
 
 
Welter now coaches at Monticello. Also being inducted in April is Triopia’s Rich Thomposn and retired coaches John Bothe from Oregon High School and Barry Diest from Staunton High School. 

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Miller Park Zoo To Add Parking, Concession Stand

It was Christmas come early last week for the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington.
 
The City Council approved plans for the City-owned entity to move forward on a parking lot expansion and an addition that would bring a concession stand to the zoo. Superintendent Jay Tetzloff says they are much needed improvements.
 
 
According to Tetzloff, the gift shop will have the addition for the concession stand. He indicates patrons of the zoo and those that are at the park adjacent to the zoo can take advantage of.
 
 
Tetzloff adds the parking lot they have will remain but there will be a new lot added near the main road near the park. He points out the road in front of the zoo can be a safety hazard when traffic is high.
 
 
Within the last few years the zoo has introduced flamingos to their collection but Tetzloff calls these two projects the highest priorities on their master plan in terms of their infrastructure. The master plan for the zoo was put in place almost five years ago. 
 
 
No private money will go into the project. Tetzloff says infrastructure improvements are going to be funded by the city and animal additions and animal projects would be funded privately. Tetzloff indicates the zoo will take out a loan to pay for the concession stand, and they believe they can quickly pay that off with the revenue they will generate. 
 
Construction for the concession stand will likely start in the spring with a target of the fall for an opening and the parking lot hopes to be finished by the winter of next year. 

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NAFTA Talks Move To 2018, Pullout Would Have Significant Impact on Rural Farm Economy

Much at stake for the farm economy and the rural economy as North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations drag on. 
 
That assessment from Mark Gebhards, who serves as Illinois Farm Bureau’s director of governmental affairs and commodities.
 
 
Gebhards says a pull out of NAFTA could result in as much as a 30 cent difference immediately in the corn price and would also likely have an immediate impact on soybean and livestock prices. The sixth round of NAFTA talks are set for January in Montreal. 

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Medical Society President Say Anti-Opioid Legislation Closes Doors To Abuse

Gov. Bruce Rauner recently signed legislation that will require prescribers with an Illinois Controlled Substance License to use a database that records patient prescription history. 
 
The database is designed to prevent addicted patients from using multiple doctors. Illinois Medical Society President Dr. Nector Ramirez says the legislation closes other doors int he medical industry.
 
 
The Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program database allows physicians to check previous patient prescriptions and requests for controlled substances. 

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Manar Calls For Review of Deadly Metro-East Work Zone

Orange cones and speed warnings don't seem to be enough to prevent deadly accidents along a stretch of I-55 in the Metro East. 
 
State Senator Andy Manar is asking IDOT to take another look at work on I-55 in Northern Madison County, between Hamel and Edwardsville.
 
 
Manar says his office has been flooded with requests from concerned constituents.
 
 
A Livingston woman died Christmas Day after being involved in a ten vehicle pileup Friday. The chain reaction crash was near the scene of a crash just before Thanksgiving that claimed the lives of four young women, including two sisters from Staunton.

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Illinois Home To Nation's Largest Duel-Team High School Wrestling Tournament

Illinois is now home to the largest dual-team high school wrestling tournament in the nation. 
It’s called Abe’s Rumble and is held this week at the Bank of Springfield Center. Over 40 teams from all across the state are in the field says organizer Matt Grimm from Auburn High School.
 
 
The event runs Wednesday and Thursday. 

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DeWitt County EMA Office Annoucnes Activation of Warming Centers

Bitter cold temperatures have arrived this week in central Illinois and the DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency has announced the activation of local warming centers.
 
The only warming center to be activated at this time is the Warner Library at 310 North Quincy Street in Clinton.
 
From 9 am to 9 pm today and tomorrow (Thursday), residents can keep warm at the library.
 
Temperatures today are expected to be around 12-degrees and Thursday highs are expected to be around 21-degrees.
 
Keep it tuned to Regional Radio News for the latest in weather and warming centers in DeWitt County. 

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Warner Hospital and Health Services Finances in Great Shape

'Very healthy' is how the CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services describes the financial state of the City of Clinton owned entity.
 
Paul Skowron indicates they over $100-thousand better in their profits than they thought they would be this time last year. He says thanks to an early flu season, the month of October was busy.
 
 
New services in the last year is also a big driver in the numbers trending upwards. Skowron says it is encouraging the community is taking advantage of having these offerings close to home.
 
 
Skowron says their in-patient services have picked up lately but points out the out-patient services are carrying the load for the bottom line.
 
 
The financial success of the hospital is the driver behind the hospital board and its administration planning to start a strategic planning process during the first part of the upcoming year. Skowron anticipates that process starting in February of 2018. 

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21st Century Learning in Heyworth

A 21st century learning study will be done in Heyworth schools.
 
According to Heyworth Superintendent, Lisa Taylor, a large part of 21st century learning is preparing kids for their various futures and making sure the schools are equiped to help with that.
 
 
Taylor adds that Heyworth schools are already more technologically advanced than you might think. They utilize STEM initiatives and are one-to-one with Chromebooks in their schools. She continues, saying that the real problem is their 20 year old classrooms.
 
 
She indicates that they want the community to dream big and consider all of their options before they look at the budget.
 
 
They will meet with the community once the model has been developed sometime in January or February.

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DeWitt County Development Council Reaches Fundraising Goal For Second Straight Year

It's gone down to the wire again, but a local entity aimed at community economic development has reached their fundraising goal for the second straight year.
 
President of the DeWitt County Development Council, or DCDC, David Torbert says their $25-thousand goal through the State Farm Bank matching grant challenge has been met again in 2017.
 
 
The grant allows the DCDC to help achieve their goal of being a local resource for DeWitt County Businesses. Torbert indicates they now have plenty of funds available for the revolving loan fund.
 
 
The last year has been spent getting the DCDC's legs back under themselves and re-establishing their board. Torbert says there are lots of good things to come in 2018 as they move ahead with local efforts. 

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State Climotologist Recaps 2017 Weather

As we turn the calendar to a new year next week, we look back at the weather of 2017. State Climotologist, Jim Angel, has a recap....
 

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UPDATE: Winter Weather Advisory Remains in Effect; 3 to 5 Inches of Snow Expected

The National Weather Service in Lincoln updated their Winter Weather Advisory for the Regional Radio listening area, just before 4 o'clock this morning.

The Weather Service says an area of light snow has spread east into west central and parts of central Illinois early this morning. The snow will overspread the rest of central Illinois by mid morning, with moderate snow possible at times from this morning through early afternoon. The snow will diminish from west to east during the mid and late afternoon hours. Between 3 and 5 inches of snow is expected across central Illinois today, with the heaviest snow east of Bloomington, and from Rantoul and Hoopeston north where 5 to 6 inches is possible.

The Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect for Central Illinois, until 6pm tonight.

The Weather Service says to plan on slippery road conditions especially on untreated roadways for all of the central part of the state.  While significant blowing snow is not anticipated, an increasing northwest wind during the afternoon with gusts up to 20 miles an hour, may result in some blowing an drifting snow in open and rural areas.

Check on the latest road conditions by clicking the “Road Conditions” tab on taylorvilledailynews.com.

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National Weather Service Issues Winter Weather Advisory; 3 to 5 Inches Expected

 

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Regional Radio listening area, from 4am to 6pm Sunday.

 

The Weather Service says an area of snow will move into west central Illinois late

tonight, and will overspread much of the region on Sunday morning.
Current indications are that 3 to 5 inches will fall north of
a Rushville to Danville line, but a couple inches are likely as
far south as Taylorville and Mattoon.

While significant blowing snow is not anticipated, an increasing northwest wind in the afternoon may

  result in some drifting snow in a few areas.

 

Get the latest road conditions by clicking the "road conditions" icon at dewittdailynews.com.

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Weekly Weather Summary

State Climotologist Jim Angel looks ahead this week at what the rest of the winter could hold for Illinois.....
 

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IDOT Looking At New Approach To Improve Roads

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS LOOKING AT NEW APPROACHES TO MAINTAINING AND IMPROVING THE STATE’S TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM.
 
I-DOT SECRETARY RANDY BLANKENHORN SAYS THE STATE NEEDS TO STOP PATCHING UP HOLES AND DOING SHORT TERM FIXES BASED ON THE LATEST CAPITAL BUDGET PASSED.
 
 
BLANKENHORN SAYS THEY WANT TO FOCUS INSTEAD ON LONGEVITY.
 
 
BLANKENHORN SAYS THEY WANT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS TO HELP PAY FOR PROJECTS AND USING DESIGN-BUILD TEAMS TO CUT COSTS.
 

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SOS Urging Safe Travels This Year

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE IS URGING MOTORISTS TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS SAFELY THIS YEAR. 
 
THIS CAN BE A DEADLY TIME OF YEAR SAYS SECRETARY WHITE…WHO IS ASKING ILLINOISANS TO MAKE SURE THEY PLAN AHEAD AND DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.
 
 
WHITE REMINDS THERE ARE SEVERAL OPTIONS TO GET YOU HOME IF YOU’VE HAD TOO MUCH TO DRINK INCLUDING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, APPOINTING A DESIGNATED DRIVER OR USING A RIDE SHARING SERVICE.
 
 
WHITE ALSO REMINDS THAT SECRETARY OF STATE POLICE OFFICERS WILL BE CHECKING SHOPPING MALL PARKING LOTS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON FOR ANYONE ILLEGALLY PARKED IN A SPOT FOR THE DISABLED.

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Monticello Board of Education Approves Referendum for Facilities

The Monticello Board of Education will ask the community for a third time to approve a referendum intended for facility updates.
 
Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman indicates this will be the third referendum in the last six years or so. He indicates the proposal includes remodels and additions.
 
 
According to Dr. Zimmerman, the three referendums have each come at the recommendation of the community. He stresses, Monticello facilities need addressed to meet the learning standards of today's classrooms.
 
 
The Monticello community wanted the district to keep the tax rate in mind with their plan and Dr. Zimmerman explains the total project would be roughly $29-million, to be paid for through bonds and also the one-cent facilities sales tax revenues.
 
 
Dr. Zimmerman believes there is no reason Monticello students should not have the best facilities. He points out there is so much good happening across the district, the only thing lacking is facilities.
 
 
The future of the district's facilities need to be addressed and Dr. Zimmerman is optimistic they could adaquately educate students with the plan they have in place they are taking to the voters. 

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USDA Offers Several Online Help Resources For Food Preparation

If you're struggling this holiday season with food preparation challenges, the USDA has an abundant amount of online resources to guide you.
 
Marianne Gravely (grav-lee) indicates they have a general help hotline that can walk you through some basic questions you may have.
 
 
The 'Ask Karen' resource is a question and answer chat feature USDA offers. Gravely indicates if that cannot answer your question, you're then prompted to email or enter into a live chat, when that is available.
 
 
Gravely indicates the 'Food Keeper' app is a great app for food preservation after your meals.
 
 
For all these features or general food safety information, check out foodsafety.gov. 

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Rauner Won't Take Responsibility for Veterans Deaths

Is the water really safe at veteran’s home in Quincy? It’s a serious question now after 12 people died from Legionnaires’ disease in 2015 another died in November. And now the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs is telling WBEZ in Chicago there are more unreported cases of Legionnaires’. 
 
The deaths and apparent slow reaction and inability to get the outbreak under control are hitting Governor Bruce Rauner and his administration hard. This week he was asked directly if he had faith if the property was clean even though people were getting sick.
 
 
Rauner was also given the chance for his administration and himself to personally take moral responsibility for the deaths of 13 people.
 
 
Now the two veterans committees in the General Assembly are going to hold a joint legislative hearing to address the ongoing problems at the home. That is scheduled for January 9th in Chicago. 

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Jobs Down in Illinois in November

THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HELD STEADY LAST MONTH IN ILLINOIS…BUT JOBS WERE DOWN A BIT.
 
NOVEMBER’S JOBLESS RATE CAME IN AT FOUR POINT NINE PERCENT…THE SAME AS IN OCTOBER AND A BIG IMPROVEMENT OVER THIS TIME LAST YEAR. BUT THERE WERE SOME JOB LOSSES LAST MONTH SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH (goff).
 
 
GOUGH NOTES THAT WHILE THE YEAR HAS BEEN FULL OF UPS AND DOWNS…THERE’S BEEN A NET INCREASE OF NEARLY 24 THOUSAND JOBS OVER THE YEAR TO DATE.
 
 
THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN NOVEMBER WAS FOUR POINT ONE PERCENT.

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Eroding Market Share For Corn Farmers A Concern As NAFTA Talks Drag On

Eroding market share is a concern for U.S. and Illinois corn farmers as NAFTA renegotiations drag along. 
 
The big worry is the impact of losing Mexico as a trade partner says Tom Sleight with the U.S. Grains Council.
 
 
Mexico serves as the United States number one market for corn and number two market for sorghum. The sixth round of NAFTA talks are scheduled for next month in Montreal. 

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Congressman Davis Calls Illinois Families Big Winners in Tax Cuts

Central Illinois U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis pleased that Congress was able to approve the tax cut bill before the Christmas recess. He says it's only a matter of time before Illinoisans start seeing more money in their paychecks.
 
 
Davis says small businesses will also win with this tax cut because they will no longer be paying more in taxes than big corporations.

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Opposition To Proposed Wind Farm Addresses County Board

A group of residents opposed to a potential wind farm in northern DeWitt County was again present before members of the DeWitt County Board, this time, before the Board as a whole.
 
At the Thursday night DeWitt County Board meeting, opposition to the Tradewind Energy proposition doubled down on requests for a change in ordinance. Chris Schaffer addressed the Board and brought concerns about the setback distance of the turbines from properties.
 
 
Shaffer cited noise concerns with the turbines near property lines and pointed to Livingston County, who has a setback distance of over 32-hundred feet and notes, there is the option of the landowner to waive the setback distance if they choose to do so. 
 
 
Property value reductions is a fear of many homeowners near the wind farm. Shaffer wants to see a property value guarantee put in the ordinance for homeowners.
 
 
Shaffer also points to the expenses that come with decommissioning the turbines. She proposes having money put aside for when the turbines are no longer useful.
 
 
State's Attorney Dan Markwell pointed out, the DeWitt County Board does have the authority to "initiate the text amendment changes". The Board, led by Board Chair David Newberg, declined to take such action, and instead deferred to the Land Use Committee to consider the changes.
 
 
Tradewind Energy has yet to submit a formal proposal to the County for consideration. They hope to have a proposal ready for the spring and their plans include construction to begin in 2019 and have the wind farm complete by 2020. 

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Lincoln Continues Work For New Police Station

Finding a new home for the Lincoln Police Department was a several year project that explored a brand new facility and other options before finally settling on the former Jefferson School for the department's new home.
 
Mayor Seth Goodman says renovations at the site underway and it will be a much needed new, and bigger facility for the department, who's been sharing space with the Sheriff's office for numerous years.
 
 
Mayor Goodman says the location, off the main road on Fifth Street, should be an ideal location with easy access to all parts of the community.
 
 
The inside of the building has been completely gutted and will allow the department to implement a customized floor plan. Mayor Goodman anticipates a completion date and move in date in 2018.

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USDA Talks Keeping Foods Safe During Holiday Season

While preparing food is an important key in keeping family and friends from getting sick during the busy holiday season, it's also equally important to keep food at safe temperatures during the holidays.
 
USDA's Marianne Gravely (grav-lee) says when a meal is complete, it is important the food that is out get put in the refrigerator as quickly as possible.
 
 
Traveling with food can be a challenge. If you're making a shorter trip, covering food with foil or wrapping it in a paper bag is a viable option, but for longer trips, Gravely says this can be a challenge but there are options.
 
 
Visiting foodsafety.gov, askkaren.gov, or call 888-MPHOTLINE for information on all food safety tips. 

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Small Business Fees Dropping

The Governor has often said the state isn’t a competitive place to launch a small business. So he’s happy to sign a new law that drops the fee for filing paperwork to become an L-L-C. 
 
The fee used to be $500 and now it falls to $150, at the previous level it was the highest L-L-C filing fee in the nation. 
 
 
Other filing fees are being cut. They range from annual report fees to name transfer fees. 

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Illinois Is Shrinking

The state of Illinois is shrinking. Not the size of the state but the number people living in it. 
 
According to new data from the US Census Illinois lost more residents than any other state in America. There are 33,000 fewer people in Illinois in 2017 as compared to 2016. 
 
The fall pushed Pennsylvania ahead of Illinois to become the 5th most populous state. 
 
The fastest growing state is Idaho and five of the six states gaining the most residents are out west. 

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Illinois Lawmaker Wants To Empower Downstate Coal Plants in 2018

State lawmakers are preparing for next year’s general session, and one central Illinois state representative wants to even the playing field for coal-fired power plants across the state. 
 
Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) says she is working with many entities to help ensure downstate residents can still get the energy provided from coal plants.
 
 
The first day of session for the Illinois House is scheduled for January 16th.

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Illinois Improves Road Conditions Website

With mild weather for much of Illinois the real bulk of the winter weather driving season is still in front of us. But the Illinois Department of Transportation wants drivers to check on road conditions before they head out the door. 
 
Kelsea Gurski says that’s as easy as logging on to IDOT’s road condition website – getting around Illinois dot com. 
 
 
The website is also the place to go to see if road construction will be in your way. Once again that’s getting around Illinois dot com.

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Downstate Senator Wants Closer Look At Downstate Interstate

Several crashes, some fatal, have occurred in the area of the construction zone on Interstate 55 between Hamel and Illinois 143 since late October, according to police and local officials. 
 
That’s when traffic was reduced by one lane in each direction for road repairs. 
 
Now, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is asking the head of IDOT to take a closer look at the highway and possible causes of the carnage. At least five people have lost their lives due to crashes in the affected area. 
 
Manar says he's not an engineer, but recognizes there is something not right about the frequency of the crashes in recent weeks.
 
 
The construction work on that stretch of interstate is expected to last through late September 2018.

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Clinton Schools Superintendent to Board on Wind Farm: We Don't Have To Take A Stance

Trade Wind Energy representatives spoke before the Clinton Board of Education Tuesday night.
 
The purpose was information and the board peppered the Trade Wind reps with questions about the ins and outs of wind energy. Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles says the purpose of the visit was purely informational.
 
 
Nettles message to the Board after Trade Wind spoke was there was no reason for the Board of Education to take a side on the issue. He indicates the presentation was only for the information side.
 
 
The financial impacts of a potential wind farm on the school district would be significant and the decrease in state revenues from the financial benefits would also be minimal. Nettles also adds he prefers local tax dollars to state dollars.
 
 
As far as taking a side, Nettles says he is for what is best for the school district.
 
 
Nettles indicates the District would receive roughly $2-million a year from the property taxes on the wind farm. 

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Progress Continues At New Mach1 Gas Station Site

Progress at the site for the future Mach1 gas station in Clinton continues even as we hit the winter season this week.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell indicates foundations for parts of the building are now visible and contractors are continuing their work even though mother nature has, at times, slowed them down.
 
 
Followell says the gas station coming to the community is a good thing. He points out that city block in recent years was stagnant in terms of it's values. Around a dozen jobs will be created with the addition of the gas station. 
 
 
Followell disagrees with the notion it will put other established stations out of business. He also points out there was a time when Clinton had upwards of nine or ten fuel stations in the community. 
 
 
Followell indicates the timeline for a grand opening has been pushed back by a little with the delays because of the weather at this time. Right now, the company is targeting a late spring opening. 

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DeWitt County Museum Candlelight Tours Wrapping Up This Week

The 2017 DeWitt County Museum Candlelight tour season is coming to a close this week.
 
It's a week sooner than usual this year. Director Joey Woolridge indicates the tours traditional are available the Friday that follows Christmas, but attendance for those has not been as strong so they decided this year to finish the tours the Friday before Christmas.
 
 
This is also the final opportunity for the season to see the latest exhibit at the Museum that has the items on display from the DeWitt County time capsule from the old courthouse. According to Woolridge, this has been the draw for several visitors so far this month.
 
 
The final candlelight tour is Friday from 5 to 8 pm. 
 
Once the final candlelight tour is wrapped up, the Museum closes it's doors December 31, until the spring for updates and new exhibits. Visit chmoorehomestead.org for more information.

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U of I Extension Talks Managing Healthy Habits, Good Food For Holidays

There's sure to be plenty of good food to go around as you gather with friends and family this holiday season, but how do you manage those sweets and salty foods with that diet you're on?
 
Health and Wellness Educator at the University of Illinois Extension office, Caitlin Huth says it isn't a bad to take in a few of them but be mindful of how much you're eating.
 
 
Another tip for reigning in the amount of food you consume is to use a smaller plate. Huth explains filling a smaller plate and finishing it can be a way to enjoy what is available and also manage portions.
 
 
For other dietary information and tips, visit go.illinois.edu. 

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Purple Heart Among Other Medals Returned to Logan County Family

A special gift for one Illinois family this holiday season. This week a once lost Purple Heart was returned to the family of a deceased veteran. 
 
Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs presented the military medal to the niece of the late Private First Class Andrew Richard. That medal, along with two others and a pair of service ribbons were turned over to the states unclaimed property division. From there the Treasurer’s office hops in to action and attempts to get those medals back to the rightful families. And on Tuesday, Bertha Richard from Elkhart had her families ribbons returned. 
 
 
PFC Richard’s original medals had been destroyed in a 1970’s house fire. The medals that were returned had been left in a safe deposit box and were the official replacements once ordered by the family.

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High Speed Rail in Illinois Finishing Up

The high speed rail project for Amtrak passengers in Illinois is moving full steam ahead to the finish line.
 
The nearly $2 billion project is in its final phase of construction. Trains will start reaching speeds of up to 90 miles per hour this summer and should hit 110 miles per hour in 2019 along the Chicago to St. Louis rail corridor. 

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New Apellate Court Judge Dies

Holiday cheer screeched to a grinding halt on Tuesday morning when word circulated that a recently installed judge for the Fourth District Appellate Court had passed away unexpectedly. 
 
Longtime Sangamon County State's Attorney and Circuit Judge John Schmidt died suddenly Tuesday morning, less than two weeks after starting work as an appellate judge. 
Jack Campbell, Director of State Medical Cannabis Program and a longtime fixture at the Sangamon County Sheriff's Office in Springfield, offered fond recollections of Schmidt.
 
 
Schmidt recently discussed his excitement with the new assignment.
 
 
Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman said she was "shocked and deeply saddened." She called Schmidt "a distinguished judge and a friend ... who will be sorely missed." To honor Schmidt, flags outside the Sangamon County Complex were lowered to half-staff. 

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First Responders To Have Better Communication Network

First responders in the state are soon to have access to enhanced communication technology. 
 
Governor Bruce Rauner says opting into the National First Responder Network is a no cost proposition for the state. It includes technology that allows first responders to talk to each other at times of mass emergency.
 

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Bustos Continues Label of GOP Tax Reform Bill As 'Tax Scam'

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos continues to call the GOP tax plan “the tax scam.” She took to the House floor yesterday.
 
 
House Speaker Paul Ryan says the Republican tax bill will lead to more jobs and higher wages. He argues that skeptical people will change their minds once they start seeing bigger paychecks. 
 
The House is expected to approve the sweeping package of tax cuts and reforms this afternoon and the Senate will follow suit tonight. 

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Community Action Using DeWitt County Food Pantry Program As Guide For Expansion

Community Action earlier in the fall launched their first ever food pantry coop model program in DeWitt County. It has been so successful, administrators are hoping to use the model to expand services locally.
 
Executive Director, Alison Rumler-Gomez explains the food pantry has been received at a rate they were not expecting and they have found people want to volunteer and work so they can feed themselves and their families.
 
 
The response to the food pantry and the willingness of their clients to want to work and better themselves has prompted the agency to look to other areas to help them. Rumler-Gomez says this new focus will be in a health and wellness capacity.
 
 
Rumler-Gomez was surprised to find out there were so many connections between children's eating habits and behavioral disorders or adults eating habits and chronic pains. 

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State Police Launch Holiday Traffic Enforcement Campaign

DRIVERS CAN EXPECT TO SEE EXTRA POLICE ON THE ROADS OVER THE HOLIDAYS.
 
STATE AND LOCAL POLICE ARE LAUNCHING THEIR HOLIDAY ENFORCEMENT EFFORT…FOCUSING ON PREVENTING MORE FATALITIES SAYS IDOT SPOKESPERSON GIANNA URGO.
 
 
SO FAR THIS YEAR, MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE HAVE DIED ON ILLINOIS ROADS. 

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Not Much of A Chance For A White Christmas

A week out and the forecast for a white Christmas looks less than likely for Illinois. 
 
The official definition of a white Christmas is an inch or more of snow on the ground and State Climatologist Jim Angel says on a historical basis northern Illinois has a 50/50 chance and by the time you get to central Illinois it’s about a 30 percent chance. But this year the forecast isn’t setting up for big snowfalls anywhere in Illinois.
 

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Illinois Has Bicentennial Soda

Now that the state has finished unveiling its Bicentennial Beer, now Governor Rauner is promoting a drink that under 21 crowd can partake in.
 
Governor Rauner visited Marion's Pepsi MidAmerica for the unveiling of the first edition of the Bicentennial Pepsi can. Pepsi MidAmerica's Brad Cole says production is well underway.
 
 
The commemorative can has already begun arriving at stores across Central and Southern Illinois. 

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Bloomington Senator Talks Upcoming Budget Season

Getting a budget deal hammered out in Illinois this year was a history making finish to a vicious game of gridlock. 
 
While Illinois is exhaling somewhat with a spending blueprint in place, the approach of a new calendar year means soon Governor Rauner will talk about his budget vision for the coming fiscal year. 
 
Repulblican State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington is hopeful a more productive conservation can be had in 2018.
 
 
Rauner hasn't embraced the budget deal reached last year. In October, he cut 200 million dollars from the budget passed by lawmakers and has continued to call the spending plan out of balance.

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City of Clinton To Update Sexual Harrasment Policy

Sweeping reforms in sexual harassment policies are being made in all corners of the country with the continued news of allegations in almost every American sector.

 

With the recent introduction of sexual harassment reforms in Springfield, lawmakers deemed it necessary to have Illinois communities follow suit. City Administrator Tim Followell says this is a response to sweeping allegations in America and to the mandate from Illinois.

 

 

Followell indicates the City has not had any problems with sexual harassment in the workplace. He says it doesn't fit the values of rural America.

 

 

The Council will approve the policy at the January 2nd meeting, in plenty of time to meet the mid-January deadline by Illinois lawmakers.

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Clinton Power Station Returns to Full Power

Operators returned Clinton Power Station to full power Sunday after completing a brief maintenance outage that began Dec. 9. 
 
During the outage, technicians replaced and tested a small electrical transformer. 
 
The unit was synchronized to the grid at 5:13 p.m. Friday and reached full power Sunday.
 
Clinton Station is located approximately six miles east of Clinton, Illinois. 
 
The nuclear energy plant produces 1,069 megawatts at full power – enough electricity to power about 1 million typical homes. 

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USDA Talks Food Safety For Upcoming Holidays

The food will be aplenty at holiday parties this Christmas. As you lay out food for your family and loved ones, the USDA is offering up some tips to keep everyone healthy this time of year.
 
Marianne Gravely (grav-lee) says this all starts with food preparation and properly putting together meals. Gravely encourages the one charged with preparing the meal to remember the four steps to food safety: clean, separate, cook and chill.
 
 
When hosting family or friends in the next several weeks, Gravely says it is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
 
 
Gravely says hand washing is a must when preparing food and keeping those surfaces clean. 
 
Get more tips on food preparation, including USDA recommendations for temperatures to get meats cooked to, by visiting foodsafety.gov, askkaren.gov, or call 888-MPHOTLINE.

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Clinton YMCA Leader Talks Facilities Future

Facilities is a buzzword in almost every industry in the country right now. Companies, universities, schools, and numerous others want to have the latest and greatest to keep up with the world that evolves around technology.
 
For one local non-profit, making their current facility a top-notch place has been and will continue to be a priority.
 
Rennie Cluver is the Executive Director of the Clinton YMCA and indicates they recently used a $50,000 estate donation from William Davenport to do some cosmetic renovations to their facility. The rest, as he explains, is going to remain on stand-by for potential unforeseen expenses.
 
 
Cluver says the YMCA has several areas that will need attention in the coming years. He notes right now, the Y board is content to address those one at a time.
 
 
Recenlty, the Y introduced 24/7 access to members for their fitness center. Cluver indicates that's just one of several examples of improvements and modifications they have tackled in recent years. 
 
 
Cluver feels the YMCA has been diligent in the renovations and spending on their facilities. When it comes to putting good money after bad, Cluver says not at all.
 
 
The YMCA recently updated their security system which was much needed helped them on their insurance as well. Cluver says that paved the way for them to offer 24/7 access to their wellness center, which has been received very well by their members. 

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Warner Hospital To Take on Strategic Planning in 2018

Looking to the future will be the name of the game for the Warner Hospital and Health Services board and administration in 2018.
 
CEO Paul Skowron indicates he and his staff and Board will be embarking on strategic planning as we turn the calendar on a new year. He indicates it will be a broad look to the future on a number of fronts.
 
 
With their aging facility, Skowron says he sometimes feels like they are putting good money after bad.
 
 
Looking at services expansion would be among the areas to look at as a part of the strategic plan. Skowron says expanding services is a never ending process for him and his staff.
 
 
Additionally, Skowron says the financial picture of the hospital looks strong right now.

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Emergency Management Agency: Always Expect The Unexpected

Always expect the unexpected. That’s the advice from the Illinois Emergency Agency as the first official day of winter is Thursday.
 
 
That’s IEMA’s Patti Thompson. She says if you plan to use a gas generator in the event of a power outage, there are several things to remember.
 
 
IEMA offers other tips and recommendations at the state’s emergency preparedness website at www.ready.illinois.gov.

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Local providers reacting to FCC's net neutrality repeal

Local internet service providers now reacting after the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules this week. What does that mean for consumers? Billy Williams is the President and co-founder of Computer Techniques, Inc., a local communications provider in Taylorville. He says although this could be a big win for internet providers, he doesn’t think companies will want the public relations issues that could come with providing non-neutral internet access.
 
 
The repeal allows internet providers to block or slow down web content and offer paid prioritization for websites through the provider.
 

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Expansion may be coming to IHSA football playoffs

The IHSA football playoffs could be expanding. Jim Taylor reports……
 

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Davis Announces Nominees for U.S. Service Academies

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis announced Friday that he nominated 11 students for admittance to the U.S. Service Academies.The nominations for these students were made following an application and interview process. Final determination on admission is made by the individual academies.
 
“As a Member of Congress, I have the privilege of nominating these accomplished young men and women to our nation’s service academies,” said Davis. “The honor of attending a service academy comes with an obligation and commitment to serve in the military upon graduation, so I applaud these students for their decision to serve and wish them the best of luck.”
 
Members of Congress are asked to nominate candidates to the U.S. Service Academies each year, and the number of vacancies for each congressional district is determined by law. It is recommended that applicants contact the academy or academies of their choice to request a pre-candidate questionnaire, which is the first step in the Admission Office’s evaluation.
 
For more information or to obtain an application packet for next year’s nominations, contact Congressman Davis’ Normal office at (309) 252-8834.

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Loss of Net Neutrality Will Hurt

Is net neutrality a real issue for consumers of the internet in small cities and rural areas? Democrat State Senator Michael Hastings says it is. No matter where you live, you want to have quick access the latest information on the web. He says wherever you find yourself - speedy and open access to the web is critical.
 
 
Hastings says the FCC vote on Thursday is a setback for small businesses in Illinois and may harm the start up and tech industry in the state. 

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Give A Safe Gift This Year

It’s getting to be crunch time for holiday shoppers so if you’re running out of ideas then give some practical gifts. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency says you can fill the up the bottom the tree with something that might keep someone safe.
 
 
That’s Patti Thompson with IEMA. Other ideas include a safety kit for car that might include jumper cables, a blanket and a flashlight.

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Weekly Weather Summary

While we haven't seen much snow so far this December, state climatologist Jim Angel tells us the chances of a white Christmas in Illinois.
 

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The Vault Still Fundraising In Hopes for 2018 Opening

With the holiday season in full swing, a local non-profit hopes you'll consider them for your charitable giving.
 
The Vault is a youth oriented center in Clinton that will be located on the square and their leader, Michelle Witzke says they have made a lot of progress but there is still a lot left to accomplish. With that in mind, she hopes any charitable giving you do this holiday season, you'll consider making them part of your plans.
 
 
While one-time gifts this time of year are appreciated, Witzke explains they are beginning to enroll ongoing givers. She explains they have started a program for monthly giving for anyone interested.
 
 
While financial contributions are very much welcome and appreciated, Witzke hopes skilled laborers will consider giving of their time or supplies. She says having those contributions could be a big boost in the future.
 
According to Witzke, The Vault has raised just short of $260,000 and they would like to reach $300,000 by years end. She also points out they are a 501-C3 charitable organization.
 
She indicates reaching $300,000 would allow them to open their first floor of the former Indecent X-Posure building on the square and achieve part of their goal for providing a safe place for youth to go in the community.

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First Year Maroa-Forsyth Superintendent Lays Out Intent To Renew Strategic Plan

In his first year at Maroa-Forsyth as Superintendent, John Ahlemeyer says it's his goal to get to know the district, and then begin to look ahead to the future.
 
With a new calendar year on the horizon, Ahlemeyer indicates it is his intent to start a strategic planning process in the summer of 2018.
 
 
In leading up to the strategic planning process, Ahlemeyer points out several areas that need to be addressed ahead of time. The future of the former high school, which now serves as the middle school, needs to be discussed and find out what the community wants to see happen with that facility.
 
 
Ahlemeyer indicates a look at bringing back staff and programs. He says previous boards and administration had several tough decisions to make and he wants to re-visit those decisions and see about getting things back in place with the district in better financial footing.
 
Ahlemeyer points to other areas like an update to the website and a streamlined database for parents, teachers and staff. 

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Governor Rauner Talks Possibility of Two Campaigns, State

Governor Bruce Rauner faces the possibility of running a primary campaign to make it to the general election, all in an effort to seek re-election.
 
The Governor says it won't be easy but believes his high energy personality will help him accomplish a second term.
 
 
If elected to a second term, Governor Rauner says his goals remain to repeal the tax hike that was approved last year surrounding the budget and wants to grow much faster than Illinois has in his first four years.
 
 
Governor Rauner says he has enjoyed his first term as Governor and has enjoyed traveling the state and interacting with the people. 

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ISP Upping Patrols For CARE Weekend

Illinois State Police conducting a statewide enforcement initiative this weekend. 
 
State ISP’s Jason Wilson says troopers will be looking at all offenders, but especially drunk drivers.
 
 
Operation C.A.R.E. or Combined Accident Reduction Effort will officially run from December 15th-through the-17th .

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8-Man Football Expected to Grow in Illinois

Growth in 8-man football is expected over the next several years among Illinois high schools. Jim Taylor reports. 
 

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UPDATED: 18-Year Old Clinton Girl Missing, Foul Play Not Expected

Authorities are now saying foul play is not suspected in the circumstances surrounding a missing Clinton teen.
 
Clinton Police indicate they are seeking the whereabouts of 18-year old Tatiana Lynae Cowan, who goes by Lynae. She was last seen between 6:30 pm and 7 pm at Frist Baptist Church in Clinton Wednesday night wearing a teal scarf, long gray coat and orange knitted sweater with a long black skirt and black boots.
 
Cowan has a thick Ukrainian accent and is 5-feet tall weighing approximately 100 pounds. 
 
Contact DeWitt County Cencom with any information you may have at 217-935-3196. 

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Residents Against Win Turbines Hoping To Educate The Public Through Facebook

A group of DeWitt County residents are banding together to fight back against a proposed wind farm on the northeast side of DeWitt County.
 
Andrea Rhoades leads a Facebook group called "DeWitt County Residents Against Wind Turbines". She says their goal is to get information out to the community about the wind farms and the happenings surrounding it's potential development.
 
 
With the erection of wind farms in other parts of the state, Rhoades says they have learned of the negative impacts of the wind farms in other places.
 
 
The group is also concerned about the distance between the turbines and homes. Rhoades say they are proposing a 3-thousand feet distance and points to Livingston County who recently enacted a 32-hundred feet distance between their homes and a turbine.
 
 
The Facebook group is a closed group. Rhoades indicates this allows people to safely view information and learn more.
 
 
Trade Wind Energy representatives indicate the 'flicker effect', or when the turbines intercept with the shining sun, would only be an impact less than a percent of the time throughout the year. Rhoades says homeowners may not be compensated well enough to deal with those effects.
 
 
Trade Wind Energy compensates property owners who agree to have these turbines on their properties, however, they also go the extra mile to compensate other homeowners within a certain distance with a yearly check for living near a turbine. Rhoades indicates the compensation for those homeowners is not enough.
 
 
Rhoades says there is some evidence that suggests property values could decrease based on other communities assessments.
 
 
The group recently addressed the land use committee with several of these concerns and many more. The project still has several hurdles to clear before any ground breaking becomes imminent. 

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Governor Rauner: People of Illinois Know What I Mean When I Say [I'm Not In Charge]

Comments Governor Bruce Rauner recently used to describe his influence in the Illinois legislature are sure to get a lot of attention throughout the upcoming election cycle.
 
The Governor recently said he was not in charge in Illinois and opponents of the Governor are likely to use that against him throughout the primary and general campaigns, but the Governor believes the people of Illinois know what he means.
 
 
With a challenger on the Republican ticket for the upcoming primary, Governor Rauner faces the possibility of running a pair of campaigns and running the state at the same time.

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Soy Officials Stress Importance of Local Bridge Projects

Although ag groups continue to push for massive improvements to the inland waterway system, they also say don’t forget about local projects. 
 
Yes, locks and dams are long overdue for repairs says Mike Steenhoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition, but bridges, especially in rural areas, need some serious attention.
 
 
The Illinois Soybean Association is among thirteen state soybean boards participating in the coalition. 
 
And the coalition along with many other agriculture groups have been keeping the inland waterway subject at the forefront. 

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Durbin Pushing For Affordable Textbooks

As college students enter the end of semester, their holiday giving list might be limited because of mighty textbook expenses. 
 
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin continues to beat the drum for reduced textbook costs. In recent weeks, he introduced The Affordable College Textbook Act, which is designed to help students manage costs by making high quality textbooks easily accessible to students, professors, and the public for free. Durbin says costs have been surging too far for too long.
 
 
Durbin says textbook costs are forcing college students to make difficult choices....
 
 
Durbin introduced the legislation in late September. It was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. 

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Bustos Slams GOP Tax Reform Efforts

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos calling the GOP’s tax reform efforts an attack on the middle class. She says it’s a flawed three step process. 
 
 
Bustos making her remarks on the House Floor Tuesday just hours before Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race. The win now gives Republicans a slight 51-49 voting edge in the Senate. 

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Attorney General Scores Settlement For Pre-Flat Screen TV, Monitor Buyers

TVs are cheaper these days but Illinois Attorney general Lisa Madigan believes some Illinois consumers are owed money from a bygone era. 
 
She says some consumers who bought Hitachi, Philips and Samsung tvs or monitors between March of 1995 and November 2007 may have been victims of illegal price fixing of cathode ray tubes (CRTs) that went into TVs. 
 
The lawsuits ended with $36 million in settlements. People have the chance to fill out an online for to claim a portion of that money. An individual can claim $20 for a CRT television or $60 for a CRT monitor. 
 
The deadline to file is July 18th. You can file by logging on to http://www.illinoiscrtsettlement.com. 

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Clinton Youth Boys Basketball President of the Board at Rotary

Clinton Youth Boys Basketball was the topic at the rotary meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
 
President of the Board, Dale Clifton, indicates that this is his third and final year with the program that has been going on for 6 years. According to Clifton, 43 kids went out for basketball this year and parents are putting in just as much time as the children.
 
 
Clifton adds that funds to run the program come from an entry fee of 125 dollars and a chicken dinner fundraiser. With that money they were able to buy new jerseys for the kids this year and new warm ups.
 
 
There are 6 teams in the boys program, each grade that it services gettting an A Team and a B Team.
 
There is also a Clinton Youth Girls Basketball program that is run by a separate board. 

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Winter Winds Have Arrived, But No Snow Yet

The winter winds have been blowing in much of Illinois, but snow hasn’t been flying. That’s due to atmospheric conditions says RFD Radio Network meteorologist Dan Hicks with Freese-Notis Weather.
 
 
Hicks says heavy snowfall in the near term is only going to occur around the Great Lakes. 
He says temperatures are expected be warmer in the 6-to-10 day outlook, but weather could be more active after that. 

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End of Year Serves As Good Time To Do Estate Planning

The end of the year serves as a perfect time to think about estate planning, especially with that family farming operation. 
 
So says Rick Morgan a Senior Financial Security Consultant with Country Financial. He says expectations can vary from family to family and even from family member to family member. 
 
 
Morgan says the first step is calling a family meeting and getting all players involved in the discussions. 

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Affordable Care Act Deadline Approaching

If you are buying health insurance through the ACA’s marketplace you better hurry. The signup period is shorter this year and the deadline to get enrolled is Friday. 
 
There are 350,000 people in the state that are in the Marketplace. But US Senator Dick Durbin says Republicans in Congress are pushing to eliminate the health insurance mandate to and if that passes you Marketplace customers will see prices rise.
 
 
Durbin says getting extra help at signup time is worth it. Find an ACA Navigator and work with them to decide which health care plan is the right one for you and your family.

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Governor Visits Clinton Power Station on One Year Anniversary of Energy Legislation

A birthday is the phrase the Governor turned to when he visited employees of the Clinton Power Station Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the one year anniversary of the signing of the energy jobs legislation at Clinton High School.
 
The Governor, along with State Representative Bill Mitchell and Senator Chapin Rose were in Clinton to reminisce on the signing of the legislation that allowed the Clinton Power Station to remain open for another ten years. Mitchell reminded the 200-plus employees and local leaders it was the Governor stepping in and getting involved that turned things around.
 
 
Sen. Rose also thanked the Governor for getting involved in the process. He notes the process was not easy and it is a huge economic impact on the area.
 
 
Governor Bruce Rauner called Exelon employees the best energy generating professionals in the country and one of the great economic engines in the state.
 
 
He recalls the process of getting the bill passed was tough. He indicates there were several pieces to the bill but lawmakers came together to get it passed.
 
 
The Governor says the plant remaining open and viable is going to allow the State to recruit new companies to central Illinois.
 
 
Exelon officials were present prior to the Governor's arrival to meet with employees and answer their questions about the state of the plant and the company and the status of other plants around the country.
 
Rep. Mitchell address Exelon employees
 
 
Sen. Roes Discusses One Year of Exelon legislation signing
 
 
Governoir Rauner thanks Exelon employees for their professionalism
 

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Ribbon Cutting Held For Trade Wind Energy Location in Downtown Clinton

A special ribbon cutting ceremony and open house was held Tuesday morning to welcome Trade Wind Energy to the Clinton business community.
 
The location will be next to the Edward Jones location in the former Magill Hotel, owned by the DeWitt County Restoration Association, or DCRA. Tom Swierczewski is Development Director for Trade Wind and speaks highly of the organization and says their retail space was too good to pass up.
 
 
Trade Wind Energy comes to the community with the goal of establishing a wind farm on the northwest portion of the county but according to Swierczewski, they also want to be a good community partner and give back and invest in local groups. 
 
 
Bekcy Adams with the DCRA says it is great having Trade Wind Energy join Edward Jones Financial in the Magill Hotel. She adds the addition of Trade Wind Energy is also a vote of support for wind energy in DeWitt County.
 
 
Swierczewski invites anyone to stop by their office to sit down and talk about the issues that are already present with Trade Wind Energy's presence in the community. They are located on the north side of the square next to Edwards Jones Financial in the former Magill Hotel. 

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Teacher Shortage Not Just Hitting Illinois Schools

A shortage of teachers is hitting Illinois schools very hard as many struggle to fill vacancies and find substitute teachers on an almost daily basis. 
 
But public and private schools aren't the only entities being impacted by this growing problem, not-for-profits are finding it even more challenging to fill vacancies they have. Marty Ryan is the Human Resource Director at Community Action and says they are having trouble finding qualified candidates for programs like Head Start.
 
 
For non-profits, DCFS lays out guidelines for their educators which do not necessarily match up with what State of Illinois schools require. Ryan indicates this makes it even more challenging.
 
 
Ryan hopes anyone interested in leading early childhood education courses through Community Action to visit capcil.info. 

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Sexual Harassment Task Force Continues Its Work

Lawmakers serving on a task force looking into the state's handling of sexual harassment in the public and private sector are meeting in Chicago. 
 
The ranking Republican member, Sara Wojcici Jimenez (Woe-jiss-kee Hih-men-ez) of Springfield says the task force will focus on the oversight role of the state's watchdogs.
 
 
She sees three clear goals.
 

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Legalization on Backburner in General Assembly

Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana stalled in the legislature but the issue hasn't been forgotten by State Senator Jason Barickman. The Bloomington Republican believes the legislation to decriminalize carrying small amounts of marijuana will be retooled...
 
 
While Barickman has largely stood alone among Republicans in seeing the benefits of legalization, he believes that could change...
 

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Joy, Illinois Popular Place in December

Even though Joy, Illinois is not a major shopping hub, the small western Illinois town—population 385, continues to be a popular destination for mail during December. 
 
Both U.S. and international patrons want their holiday cards and letters cancelled with a special Joy postmark.
 
 
Patti Maynard staffs the Joy Post Office. This year’s special postmark is designed by Mercer County Junior High 8th grader Preston Howard. 

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DeWitt County Land Use Committee Hears Concerns About Potential Wind Farm

DeWitt County residents filled the DeWitt County Board room Monday night in support of a proposal for a change in ordinance for a wind farm on the northwest side of the county near Waynesville.
 
Ken Shaffer addressed the County Board's land use committee for roughly 20 minutes and discussed topics ranging from variance of the towers to studies and other concerns surrounding the structures.
 
Shaffer hopes his comments and the support behind him will begin and continue the dialogue.
 
 
The proposals presented by Shaffer ask the County to do a shadow flicker study, set back from structures at a distance of six-times the structure height and a reduction in tower height, among other requests.
 
 
Among other requests from Shaffer, wildlife studies along a decommissioning plan for the structures. He wants to have the decommissioning plan revisited, updated and covered every three years.
 
 
DeWitt County Zoning Administrator, Angie Sarver indicates a number of the requests from Shaffer have already been studied.
 
 
Development Director for Trade Wind Energy, Tom Swierczewski (swear-chess-ski) says he heard a lot of concerns that he felt were valid, and some that he felt were not workable.
 
 
Swierczewski indicates opposition to their projects is not anything new to him. He says Trade Wind Energy is very much a community minded company and they want to get all the facts out there for everyone to have.
 
 
The land use committee will take in to consideration the things they heard from Shaffer. There was no action Monday night. 
 
Once the land use committee approves the language in the ordinance. The language would still need to be approved by the regional planning commission, the zoning board of appeals and then ultimately the county board.
 

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Clinton Power Station Goes Offline Temporarily

Operators removed Clinton Power Station from service Saturday afternoon to repair an electrical component outside the plant. 
 
While the unit is offline, technicians will inspect and fully test the electrical system before returning the unit to service.
 
Clinton Station is located approximately six miles east of Clinton. 

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Rotary Annual Holiday Party to Provide Presents for Children

A local organization's annual Holiday Party is right around the corner.
 
According to Rotarian Randy Rice, he's been a part of this program since he joined rotary 26 years ago. Elementary school children who fall through the cracks of other programs are the guests of honor and will receive toys and clothes from rotary members.
 
 
Rice adds that the third and fourth grader's teachers were instrumental in choosing the children and getting them the children's wish lists.
 
 
This year there are 20 children that will be receiving presents from rotarians.

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Lincoln's Renovated Depot Open, But Space Still Needs Tenant

The renovated Lincoln Depot is has been completed but the space still needs a tenant.
 
Mayor Seth Goodman says the renovated area includes the Amtrak waiting area. It's a renovation that came with minimal cost to the taxpayers.
 
 
Mayor Goodman says it is not ideal for the building to be empty. There's been some interest from different groups expressing interest in the space but so far, nothing has been decided.
 
 
The completion of the project returns passenger service to a building constructed in 1911 and last used as a depot more than 30 years ago.
 
The remodeled facility showcases restored windows, doors and the original ticket counter with a scale once used to weigh luggage. Added features include free Wi-Fi, a climate-controlled waiting room with interior seating, and parking for both vehicles and bikes. The waiting area replaces a passenger shelter to the north that served Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle.  
 
Funding for the $4.04 million Lincoln project is part of a federal grant administered by IDOT to introduce better performance and higher speeds on the Union Pacific Railroad between Chicago and St. Louis.

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Another Ag Group Throws Support Behind NAFTA

Another ag group has weighed in on North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations. 
 
This time it’s the U.S. Meat Export Federation and it’s all about the numbers says the organization’s Phil Seng. 
 
 
2016 data shows that 11-percent of Illinois agricultural exports went to Mexico and 17-percent to Canada. The fifth round of NAFTA renegotiations occurred last month in Mexico with little progress. The sixth round of talks are set for next month in Montreal. 

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Durbin Wants Alabama To Make Right Choice on Moore

With members of Congress stepping aside because of past sexual harassment allegations, voters in Alabama are deciding if they should send a candidate to the Senate with the another troubled history. 
 
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says Republicans, as the party in power, will control Moore’s fate if he’s elected to the Senate. But Durbin hopes that he won’t be presented with having to see Moore in the Senate Chamber.
 
 
Durbin says on the Democratic front any donations that he did receive from now disgraced Senator Al Franken have been turned over to charity. 

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Healthcare Continues To Be Major Concern For Rural Illinoisans

Health care on the mind of many rural Illinoisans. That’s what Illinois Farm Bureau’s Mark Gebhards is hearing as he travels the state. 
 
 
Gebhards serves as Director of Governmental Affairs & Commodities for IFB. The organization just wrapped up its annual meeting earlier this week in Chicago.

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IDOT Asking for Feedback On State's Transportation System

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS LOOKING FOR YOUR FEEDBACK ABOUT THE STATE’S TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM. (two stories, same lead).
 
THE ANNUAL SURVEY AIMS TO GET A READ ON WHAT I-DOT CAN DO BETTER. SPOKESPERSON KELSEA GURSKI SAYS IT COVERS SEVERAL TOPICS.
 
 
THE SURVEY ALSO ADDRESSES I-DOT’S WEBSITE, REST AREAS AND AMTRAK SERVICE. 
 
 
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THE SURVEY IS AVAILABLE ONLINE. YOU CAN FILL IT OUT AT: IDOT DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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State Launches 24-Hour Opioid Abuse Hotline

THE STATE IS LAUNCHING A NEW 24-HOUR HOTLINE TO HELP COMBAT OPIOID ABUSE. 
 
THE HELPLINE IS A CRITICAL NEW TOOL IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE OPIOID CRISIS SAYS ILLINOIS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NIRAV SHAH.
 
 
THE HELPLINE WILL PROVIDE A PLACE FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILY MEMBERS STRUGGLING WITH ADDICTION TO GET CONFIDENTIAL HELP SAYS GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER.
 
 
LAST YEAR IN ILLINOIS…NEARLY TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE DIED FROM AN OPIOID OVERDOSE. THE HELPLINE NUMBER IS 1-833-2FINDHELP.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It felt more like December this past week, and with snow in the forecast for the weekend, State Climotologist Jim Angel tells us how long it will stick around.
 

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Focus on Regulation Roll Back Helps Grow Jobs

Governor Bruce Rauner is touring the western part of the state to promote Illinois manufacturing. 
 
Stopping in Quincy today at Rack Builders, Rauner says that in his time as Governor he has been able to cut the regulations that he can from his office.
 
 
Rauner wasn’t specific as to what important regulations he has been able to roll back. But he adds that more changes need to go along with them to create a stronger Illinois economy. Rauner maintains that changes are needed to the state’s worker’s compensation system.

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Pritzker Picks Up Another Endorsement

Democratic candidate for Governor J.B. Pritzker has come up with two more important endorsements. 
 
Friday, both of the state’s US Senators say they are in for J.B. At a Chicago rally, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth made the announcement that they are supporting Pritzker. 
 
Durbin says he’s spoken to all of the candidates and Pritzker is the clear choice for governor. 
 
There are seven Democrats running for Governor and incumbent Bruce Rauner has one challenger on the March 20th primary. 

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Decorate Safely For The Holidays

By now the Christmas and holiday decorations have been hung with care. But you need to be sure that they have also been placed safely around your home. 
 
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency says that Christmas lights can pose a problem. Patti Thompson with IEMA says don’t overload outlets and make sure the lights you are buying are good quality and come inspected. 
 
 
Thompson says keep the tree good and watered to cut the risk of fire. And watch candles left out carefully. During the holiday season 12 percent of candles cause a fire in the home.

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Drug Arrests Made in Piatt County

Task Force 6, in conjunction with the Piatt County Sheriff’s Office, conducted arrest details on Monday, November 20, 2017 and Tuesday, November 21, 2017 of persons wanted in connection with the investigation of illegal drug sales in the Piatt County area.  
 
The arrests were the result of lengthy, separate investigations, involving the sales of various illegal controlled substances in the Piatt County area.  
 
Suspects arrested on warrants issued by the Piatt County States Attorney’s Office include:
 
Stephanie Cafin, age 35, Urbana, IL, (2 counts Unlawful Delivery of a Controlled Substance—Class 1—Released on bond)
 
Ryan Walters, age 22, Monticello, IL, (2 counts Unlawful Delivery of a Controlled Substance—Class 1—Released on bond)
 
Ronald McDade, age 29, Monticello, IL, (2 counts Unlawful Possession with Intent to Deliver of a Controlled Substance—Class X/ Class 1—Remains in custody)
 
Brandon Sellers, age 22, Monticello, IL, (1 count Unlawful Delivery of a Controlled Substance—Class 1—Remains in custody)
 
Douglas Critchfield, age 29, Bement, IL, (3 counts Unlawful Possession with Intent to Deliver of a Controlled Substance—Class 1—Released on Bond)
 
Andrew Plummer, age 31, Bement, IL, (1 count Unlawful Delivery of a Controlled Substance—Class 3—Remains in custody)
(more)
 
Task Force 6 is a multi-agency enforcement unit specializing in narcotics enforcement.  Task Force 6 is composed of officers from Clinton Police Department, DeWitt County Sheriff’s Department, McLean County Sheriff’s Department, Piatt County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State University Police Department, and the Illinois State Police.
 
No other information will be released at this time.  The public is reminded that charges are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.  
 
Persons having information regarding illegal drugs are encouraged to contact the Task Force 6 tip line at www.taskforce6.com.

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Warner Hospital and Health Services Offering Safe Sitter Class Next Week

Central Illinois teens are invited to be a part of the 'Safe Sitter' class at Warner Hospital and Health Services next Saturday, December 16.
 
Ashley Holmes indicates the 'Safe Sitter' class targets sixth through eighth grade students and the class gives them good information and resources for taking care of siblings or baby sitting jobs.
 
 
The class covers topics ranging from general first aid to emergency situations and how to handle younger kids and the challenges they come with.
 
 
Holmes indicates students who come out of the class are not left empty handed to remember everything they took in. She explains they send home plenty of materials for them to look back on.
 
 
Sarah Gerke explains this is a program that can be very expensive but thanks to the fundraising effort of the Swifty Swine 5K during the past Apple and Pork weekends, they are able to offer the course to central Illinois teens for just $10.
 
 
The Safe Sitter course is a national curriculum. Holmes and Gerky indicates for the hospital to remain certified to administer the course, they have to give it once a year and they indicate they have gotten interest from teens all over central Illinois. 
 
Anyone can participate in this course at the Family Medicine facility. Again the date is Saturday, December 16 from 10 am to 4:30 pm. Registration is required by December 14. Participants will need to bring their own lunch.
 
To get more information, you can visit the main entrance of the Warner Hospital and Health Services facility. You can also email events@warnerhospital.org. 

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Children's Advocacy Center Executive Director Retiring

The leader of a non-profit that covers DeWitt, McLean and Livingston Counties is calling it a career.
 
Judy Brucker has been the Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Center for better than ten years. It's the end of a career that spans almost three decades in serving the public and helping children going through situations no child should ever have to.
 
 
Brucker feels good about the recent grant they received to offer counseling servies across their coverage area. It's a position that will be in place for at least three years.
 
 
Brucker indicates social work can be a very challenging field, especially in maintaining the passion one enters the field with. She encourages any worker, young or old, to set boundaries for themselves.
 
 
The McLean County Board is tasked with finding the successor to Brucker, a process that is ongoing.

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Dicamba Training To Be Offered In March Across Illinois

Soybean farmers in Illinois planning to use crop protection products containing dicamba in 2018 must be certified to do so. 
 
Approximately 30 training sessions are being held throughout the state through March says Jean Payne with the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. 
 
 
Information on sites, times and registration is available at “ifca.com.” Each session runs two-hours. Illinois is the first state to offer such training. 

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Miller Park Zoo's Wild Lights Event This Weekend

One of the biggest events of the year for a Bloomington/Normal entity is this weekend.
 
Miller Park Zoo's Wild Lights has become their premier event of the year and Superintendent of the Zoo, Jay Tetzloff calls it a fun, family event where they line the walks of the zoo with luminaries and gives guests a festive feel at a time of day the zoo is not normally open.
 
 
Tetzloff says the feel of the zoo at night is different and very exciting. He explains you catch animals that are busy during the overnight hours and the animals that remain busy during the day are caught off guard with people around during normal quiet times.
 
 
Wild Lights is tonight and tomorrow from 5 pm to 8 pm. Admission is $7 per person. Kids three and under are free.
 
Get more information at millerparkzoo.org. 

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Bustos Wants Employees To Have Options in Sexual Harassment Cases

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos taking on the sexual harassment issue. She wants to ban mandatory arbitration for such cases and give employees other options.
 
 
Bustos says forced arbitration clauses prevent victims of sexual harassment from discussing the nature or basis of their complaint. She says if an employee’s contract or employee handbook includes a forced arbitration clause, the employee is likely to have signed away his or her right to a jury trial whether or not they are aware of the clause. 
 
She adds employees are far more likely to win cases that go to trial than cases that go through the arbitration process. 

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Ameren Rate Reduction Request Approved

You will be paying less for electricity through Ameren Illinois in the New Year.
 
The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved a request for an approximately $17.3-million decrease in delivery service rates for 2018. The savings will begin in January. An Ameren spokesman says this is a result of continued investment in infrastructure and the lower cost of financing. 
 
Ameren Illinois spokesman Marcelyn Love says this is the second year in a row customers will see a decrease in delivery costs.
 
 
For the typical residential customer using 10,000 kilo-watt-hours of electricity, this reduction should mean a savings of about $1.70 monthly. According to information provided by the utility, this is the fifth such rate cut since the Smart Grid bill was passed in 2011.

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Clinton Annual Levy Going Down

The Clinton City Council Monday night approved their annual levy and the City Treasurer says things are looking very positive right now.
 
Clint Lichtenwalter indicates the levy is decreasing by just over two-percent decrease, and the EAV has slightly jumped as well.
 
 
Lichtenwalter points out, the levy being a lower rate is a direct result of the city being diligent in funding their pensions, something many communities cannot claim.
 
 
Elsewhere in the Clinton budget, Lichtenwalter says sales tax in the community is stagnant. He says while there hasn't been growth, it is a good sign there hasn't been a decline.
 
 
Lichtenwalter also points out revenue from the City's gaming ordinance draws in roughly $8-thousand a month, which he additionally notes, has done more to help replace other lost revenues than create new revenue. 

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Water Fowl Hunters Welcoming Recent Cold Stretch

The water fowl hunters of Illinois are welcoming this recent cold stretch.
 
Water fowl hunting is best when it is cold out and with temperatures expected in the 20s and 30s in the coming weeks, DNR Sargent John Williamson says hunters are probably going to be getting out this weekend.
 
 
Clinton Lake in DeWitt County is a hot spot for water fowl hunters because of the power plant and the warm water discharge. Williamson indicates it's also a popular spot for fishing, even during the colder weather. 

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Gordon Retiring From State Fair

There will be a new State Fair Manager in 2018. 
 
Kevin Gordon is retiring from the State of Illinois and will be leaving the Illinois Department of Agriculture at the end of the month. Gordon has been the manager for the past 2 fairs and has worked 17 of them for IDOA. 
 
In all Gordon worked for the state for 29 years. 
 
The Department of Ag says that they are currently reviewing options to identify a replacement. 

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State Police Want Drivers To Move Over For Stopped Vehicles

You’re driving down the interstate and you spot a car pulled over on the shoulder – what should you do? 
 
Bob Schillerstrom with the The Illinois Tollway is telling drivers get into the other lane because whether it’s a stalled car or a police officer doing their job the law says you need to give the other car some space. 
 
 
Many think the law is just to get over for emergency vehicles, but it says that if you can pull into the other lane you need to do so for any vehicle with hazard lights on.

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Frerichs Calls GOP Tax Reform An Assault on Freedom of Choice

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs is blasting tax reform legislation from Congressional Republicans. 
 
Frerichs isn't referring to how tax changes will impact any group financially, he says newly inserted language could shake up freedom of choice.
 
 
Frerichs talks about the impact of attaching 9 digits to the unborn.
 
 
Frerichs is asking Governor Bruce Rauner to intervene and try to convince Illinois’ Congressional delegation to eliminate efforts to give social security numbers to fetuses.

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City of Clinton Investigating in Water Meter Readings

Could your water bill be going up in the next six months?
 
That is a possibility after discussion by the Clinton City Council Monday night. City Administrator Tim Followell explains the water department has experienced losses in some circumstances because of a lack of tracking small amounts of water that are consumed in town.
 
 
Followell explains the City is not overcharging residents for water, in fact, it is the opposite. He notes the city is losing production, or producing more water than they need to.
 
 
To fix the issue, Followell indicates the city plans to install electronic meters throughout the community.
 
 
Followell says not only this is a positive for the City but it is also a win for the consumer. It could help homeowners find leaks in their homes.
 
 
The community risks penalization by the EPA if they do not fix the problem soon. He indicates the sanitary district is going to help pay for the approximately $1-million cost. IT will take approximately six months for everything to get implemented. 

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New Exelon Communications Manager Wants To Be Community Minded

Gabe Goldsmith continues to learn the ropes of all things nuclear power and Exelon in his role as Communications Director at Exelon Power Station.
 
He wants his focus to become more community minded and to be involved in several organizations in Clinton.
 
 
Goldsmith indicates community contributions is something stressed by the company so he feels it will be a natural fit for him to get into the community and continuing the relationships in place and developing new ones.
 
 
As the one year anniversary of the Governor's visit to Clinton to sign the energy legislation nears, Goldsmith points out the power station is bringing back employees who may have been reduced and are adding roughly 150 jobs as well. He says the state of the plant is very strong right now. 

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Canadian Manufacturer Tabs Central Illinois For US Headquarters

Canadian-based Brandt Industries has announced it's first venture into manufacturing in the United States, and it's happening in central Illinois.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more...

 

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Significant Snow Before Christmas? Not Likely

Colder temps have arrived in Illinois, but chances for a significant snow event leading up to Christmas aren’t great. So says RFD Illinois meteorologist Dan Hicks with Freese-Notis Weather.
 
 
Hicks anticipates into the 6-to-10 day and even 11-to-15 day outlook that the Midwest will continue to experience cold air masses. 
 
Daytime highs of 20s and 30s can be expected over the next couple of weeks in Illinois. Normal highs at this time of year in Illinois are in the mid to upper 30’s in the northern part of the state and mid 40s in southern Illinois. 
 
The first day of winter is officially December 21st. 

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Rauner Takes Issue With Pritzker Hiding Wealth From Tax Man

With two very rich men running for Governor the wealth they have and how it’s kept is becoming a story. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is wondering where Democratic Candidate for Governor J.B. Pritzker is keeping all of his money. 
 
Rauner says it’s curious that you can be worth billions and only report $16 million income on his tax forms. 
 
 
The Pritzker campaign responded with a quip and cut down of the Rauner campaign but didn’t directly answer where Pritzker’s trusts are and how much of his money is kept.
 
**Update**
 
Regional Radio News was contacted by the Pritzker campaign after the article was published and was given the full statement which reads as follows:
 
“Bruce Rauner’s accusations are false and he is lying about JB Pritzker. In addition to releasing his personal tax returns, the total taxes paid by trusts benefitting JB, charitable contributions made personally and by his foundation, JB also filed a detailed Statement of Economic Interest that lists personal investments and assets as well as those held by trusts benefitting him. JB and trusts benefitting him have paid a combined $25 million in state taxes and $136 million in federal taxes over the last three years.
 
In regard to the offshore question, there are some trusts that were established by JB’s family a couple generations ago. JB did not set them up, has never received a personal disbursement from them, and he has directed that any disbursements from these trusts be given to charity. Those are facts, and Bruce Rauner’s attempt to distract from his disastrous campaign can’t change them.”

 

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Sen. McCann Leaving General Assembly

State Senator Sam McCann revealed he was not running for another term at Monday's filing deadline. That leaves former Sangamon County prosecutor Steve McClure in the race. 
 
In an interview given shortly before his announcement, the Carlinville area Republican sounded like someone ready to walk into the sunset from the Capitol.
 
 
McCann says the Illinois political system is broken because the people in it have the wrong priorities.
 
 
McCann is expressing dissatisfaction with the state republican party, several county party organizations and his rival, Governor Bruce Rauner. 

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Durbin Weighs in on DACA Again

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and members of the Democratic Caucus gathered on the Senate Floor to push for passage of the Dream Act, which would allow young immigrant students who grew up in this country – – to obtain permanent legal residency and continue on the road to citizenship. 
 
Durbin says movement is needed and soon.
 
 
More than 10,000 Dreamers have already lost their DACA status. By early 2018, another one thousand young people will lose that protection each day. 

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Rich Guebert Re-elected to IFB President

Rich Guebert (right) will remain the president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. Guebert was re-elected to the post Tuesday, his third two year term.
 
Guebert addressed the media Tuesday and says the Farm Bureau needs to unite and get messages to lawmakers during these tough economic times.
 
 
Locally, Guebert says there's a lot of action to be done in Illinois. He says the Illinois Farm Bureau is making a difference.
 
 
Guebert says the Illinois Farm Bureau is very strong, from the administration and Board to the County level, he feels very strongly the Illinois Farm Bureau is in a good place. 

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Retired State Trooper Documenting Over 17-Hundred Closed High Schools In Illinois

A retired state trooper continues his mission to memorialize 1,700 closed high school in Illinois. Jim Taylor reports that many dot the state's rural landscape. 
 

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Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D Closes This Week

The hours and minutes are ticking to get your medicare Part D prescription drug coverage updated or to get enrolled. 
 
Thursday is the deadline to get in to see Dianne Cusey at the DeWitt County Friendship Center if you need assistance. Executive Director of the Friendship Center, Sissy Leggett, says this is a crucial time of year for seniors.
 
 
According to Leggett, Cusey can help DeWitt County Seniors with more than just getting enrolled in the right plan. She says there's financial assistance she can help with along with a number of other services.
 
 
The number to reach Cusey at the Friendship Center is 935-4560 or you can reach the Friendship Center at 935-9411. 

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Rauner Calls Opponent Fringe of Party

Governor Bruce Rauner has an opponent in the upcoming Republican primary and he thinks that she is on the outside looking in at the rest of the Republican Party. 
 
Jeanne Ives is running against Rauner and right now he won’t commit to a debate with her. Rauner said a challenger in the primary is not uncommon and it comes from the fringe side of the party.
 
 
The race is official on the Republican side of the primary – both Rauner and Ives filed their official paper work on Monday.

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Rauner Talks Future Goals for Ag Community

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SPOKE TO THE ILLINOIS FARM BUREAU MONDAY…OUTLINING SOME OF HIS GOALS FOR THE AGRICULTURE COMMUNITY.
 
SPEAKING BEFORE BUREAU MEMBERS, GOVERNOR RAUNER DISCUSSED THE NEED FOR MORE AGRICULTURE TEACHERS. HE SAYS THERE IS CURRENTLY A SHORTAGE.
 
 
THE GOVERNOR ALSO DISCUSSED EFFORTS TO RAISE PRIVATE MONEY FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AT THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIRGROUNDS. HE SAYS HE’D ESPECIALLY LIKE TO GET THE COLISEUM BACK UP AND RUNNING.
 
 
ADDITIONALLY, THE GOVERNOR SAYS A TASK FORCE IS LOOKING INTO INCREASING THE POOL OF AGRICULTURE TEACHERS IN ILLINOIS. HE SAYS THERE IS A SHORTAGE, ESPECIALLY AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL.

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Illinois Launches Bicentennial Celebration

State officials kicked off the state's year long birthday celebration Sunday at Chicago's Navy Pier and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. 
 
Governor Bruce Rauner believes Illinois can send a message with its two century birthday.
 
 
The cast of Hamilton celebrated the start of Illinois Bicentennial by unveiling the Bicentennial Flag of Illinois. Meanwhile, the Petersburg produced bicentennial beer has been named. 
 
Hand of Fate's craft brew, which won the honor at last year's state fair, will be known as 1818 Prairie State Farmhouse Ale.

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Governor Says He's Not In Charge of Illinois

Who’s really in charge of the state of Illinois? Today (Monday) the Governor says it’s Mike Madigan. 
 
Republican Bruce Rauner says until Madigan is gone Illinois can’t be fixed and over the first three years of his term as Governor he really hasn’t been the one running the state. 
 
 
Rauner’s opponent for the Republican nomination Jeanne Ives hopped on the comment saying via Twitter that the “Governors office is powerful, but a weak man is in it.

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DeWitt County Farmer Named To Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors

Robert Klemm of Waynesville in DeWitt County was nominated to serve District 11 on the Illinois Farm Bureau® (IFB) Board of Directors at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago, Dec. 2-5. Klemm, as well as incumbent directors in Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 13, 15 and 17, will be up for election during the delegate business session Monday, Dec. 4.  
 
Klemm was nominated to a two-year term to represent IFB members in Christian, DeWitt, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt and Shelby counties. Klemm, who operates Klemm Tax Service in Lincoln, raises corn, soybeans and hay, as well as Black Angus cattle, with his wife, son, and daughter-in-law. 
 
 
Klemm serves on the DeWitt County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, serving as treasurer and building committee chairman, and was a charter member of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau Federation. He also is a past IFB Young Leaders district discussion meet winner.
 
Klemm is a member of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Soybean Association and Logan County Soil Savers. He serves as treasurer of the Logan County Fair Foundation and is a past board member for the Illinois Association of Tax Practitioners.
 
Klemm is an active member of Zion Lutheran Church in Lincoln, serving as past chairman, vice chairman and building project chairman, usher, committeeman and video operator, and traveled several times to help with Hurricane Katrina cleanup.
 
Klemm graduated from Illinois State University in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in applied science and technology. He and his wife, Patricia, have three grown children, Olivia, John, and Aaron.

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Eastern Illinois High School Donates To Memorial For Monticello Teen Killed Last Week

Separated by almost an hour and approximately 66 miles, staff at Bismarck-Henning High School new of the tragedy that struck Monticello High School last week when 17-year old Tori Lanter was killed in a crash on Interstate 72.
 
Principal at Bismarck-Henning High School, Brent Rademacher, indicates his staff knew they wanted to do something for the family but wasn't sure what to do, so when the Sages visited BHHS Friday for a high school basketball game, they organized to have their 50/50 raffle tickets to go towards her memorial. 
 
 
The contribution did not get much attention at the game and Rademacher indicates it was out of respect for students who may be going through their own grief. Instead, they passed around informative papers of their intentions when someone would purchase tickets. 
 
 
Rademacher credits the compassionate folks in the district and his office for stepping up in this effort. He also notes the effort was not done in the vain for publicity, they just wanted to step up and help in a small way for a grieving family and community. 

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Clinton Schools Facing Teacher Shortage

A shortage of teachers, substitute teachers, and aides has been highlighted by administrators and state leaders across the state and at the latest Clinton Board of Education meeting, the topic came to a head for discussion. 
 
A shortage of special education teachers in the district resulted in the issue being highlighted to the Board. Superintendent Curt Nettles says the district is working to better fill the needs at Clinton Elementary School.
 
 
The need for special education teacher is vast across the state. According to Nettles, districts across the state's needs top 250 vacancies in special education alone.
 
 
Nettles could see the situation worsening and becoming a crisis. He feels the State of Illinois is to blame as they have not made Illinois a good place to work.
 
 
Nettles indicates the main struggle for teachers is in special education but points out there is also a struggle for elementary educators, which is a new struggle in recent years. 

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DeWitt County Angel Tree Asking For One Final Push From Community

The DeWitt County Angel Tree program is getting close to their big event in December for over 500 youths and they need your support.
 
Director Sue Calvert indicates residents likely noticed their usual stops didn't have the Angel Tree Christmas trees this year. That is because the 2017 Angel Tree is accepting cash donations for a big event to distribute gifts to youths who qualify.
 
 
According to Calvert, they need financial contributions to make sure they can serve all the kids in their program this year.
 
 
The Angel Tree is hosting a one-day event at Clinton Walmart where parents of children in the program will come, shop for their child, and take the gifts home.
 
Calvert also indicates Walmart has again stepped up to do the Shop With A Cop and Shop With A Fireman. 

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Weather Outlook For This Week

With a mild weekend behind us, State Climotologist Jim Angel says we could see a turn in the weather this week.
 

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November Cooler, Drier

NOVEMBER WEATHER WAS COOLER AND DRIER THAN NORMAL IN ILLINOIS. 
 
STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL SAYS THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE LAST MONTH WAS JUST UNDER 42 DEGREES. THAT’S ABOUT A DEGREE BELOW NORMAL.
 
 
STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRECIPITATION WAS TWO POINT ONE THREE INCHES…MORE THAN AN INCH BELOW NORMAL. SOME SNOW WAS REPORTED IN NORTHERN AND CENTRAL ILLINOIS. THE LARGEST AMOUNT OF SNOW, AN INCH AND A HALF, WAS RECORDED AT THE CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN LAST MONTH.
 
 
THE LATEST U-S DROUGHT MONITOR SHOW ABNORMALLY DRY TO MODERATELY DRY CONDITIONS IN WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTHWESTERN PORTIONS OF THE STATE, AS WELL AS A FEW SOUTHEASTERN AREAS.

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Risk Takers May Need To Take More To Succeed

The leader of the Illinois Farm Bureau says Illinois farmers need to focus on the future, take risks, and try new approaches to succeed. Ellis Grove farmer Richard Guebert Jr. opened the organization's annual meeting over the weekend in Chicago;
 
 
Guebert says net farm income has dropped 50 percent over the last four years. He believes Farm Bureau and farmers need to anticipate change to be successful;
 
 
More than 15-hundred Illinois farmers and family members are participating in the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. It continues Monday in Chicago.

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Rauner Gets Tough Review From National Conservative Publication

Governor Bruce Rauner gets a blistering review from publication National Review. 
 
They have labeled Rauner the worst Republican Governor in America. 
 
It's the latest development in a social conservative backlash against Rauner for his support of legislation on abortion-funding and his signing of legislation preventing state authorities from pursuing individuals strictly on immigration status.

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More Candidates File For Next Year's Primary

Another Democratic candidate for Governor has finished his initial paperwork. 
 
Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber jumped in the race Wednesday with nearly double the signatures needed. 
 
Another Metro-East man is pushing the concept of longshot to the extreme. Democrat Terry Getz of Dupo filed a statement of candidacy and a signature sheet with no signatures. 
 
To get on the ballot, Getz needs to refile with five-thousand signatuires by the Monday deadline.

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Suit Filed Over New Illinois Abortion Law

Over a dozen pro life/anti abortion groups and lawmakers are going to court in a bid to prevent a new law providing taxpayer-funded abortions from taking effect New Year's Day. 
The Thomas More Society filed the action in Springfield based Sangamon County Circuit Court. The new law will have add abortions to procedures covered by state employee health insurance and Medicaid. 
 
The plaintiffs insist the new law is illegal.

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Clinton Area Ministerial Association's Annual Christmas Baskets

If you are in need this holiday season, the Clinton Area Ministerial Association (CAMA) is offering Christmas baskets for families again this year.
 
Sharon Ijams indicates that the area churches are collecting non-perishable food items for the baskets. The Christmas baskets will then be distributed to families in need on December 23 at St. John's Catholic Church.
 
 
The Christmas baskets consist of a four pound ham, one gallon of milk, and various nonperishable food items. The baskets will have food for a Christmas meal as well as food for the following weeks. Ijams says that if you would like to send a monetary donation to bring it to the American Legion and make sure it is identified for the Christmas basket program.
 
 
For more information, contact Sharon Ijams at (217) 935-3585.

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Liberty Village Hosting Walk Through the Village

Liberty Village is once again offering their Walk Through the Village this holiday season.
 
Nick Crim, marketing director at Liberty Village, encourages families to come out to Liberty Village from December 1 through December 25 for the Walk Through the Village. Crim says this event is a great way for families and community members to find out what Liberty Village has to offer.
 
 
Many area businesses and organizations are taking part in this event by decorating a tree or a wreath that are placed throughout Liberty Village. Crim indicates that many of the local businesses and organizations have information about the services that they offer.
 
 
The Walk Through the Village will run from December 1 through December 25 and will be open from 8am to 8pm each day.

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Clinton YMCA Offering Trip To St. Charles, MO

The Christmas Traditions of St. Charles, Missouri is something special to behold and the Clinton YMCA is hoping anyone interested in experiencing it will come along with them in a few weeks.
 
A deluxe motor coach will take a group on Saturday, December 16 to St. Charles. It leaves at 9:30 am from the Clinton Y.
 
The cost is $45 for adults and children 12 and under go for $20. 
 
The sign up deadline is Friday, December 8. Contact the Clinton YMCA at 217-935-8307 if interested.
 
The trip is open to both Y members and non-members. 

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4-H Gets Help From Bayer CropScience

The National 4-H effort is getting a boost from Bayer CropScience. The new program is called “Science Matters” says the company’s Darrin Wallis. 
 
 
Wallis says kids 14-through-18 can participate in the “Science Matters” initiative by visiting “4-h.org” and typing “science Matters” into the search box. 

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Warner Hospital and Health Services Sets January 2 As Start Date For Same Day Service

Warner Hospital and Health Services administrators are ready to jump in to the same day service trend that is sweeping health care.
 
CEO Paull Skowron says their walk in service is going to start January 2 and they interested to see how the community receives this.
 
 
Susanna Legner is the Chief Nursing Officer at Warner Hospital and Health Services and indicates there are certain types of things they will take for their walk in care.
 
 
According to Legner, the service will be piloted at the Family Medicine Center and they will use existing providers. She indicates this will be a service they evaluate as they go along and see how they can improve and what adjustments need to be made.
 
 
Again the walk in service will begin Tuesday, January 2 and will be originated out of the Family Medicine Center and will be available in conjunction with Family Medicine. 

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State Police Reveal Thanksgiving Enforcement Data

THERE WERE 10 FATALITIES ON ILLINOIS HIGHWAYS OVER THE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY WEEKEND. 
 
ILLINOIS STATE POLICE TROOPERS HANDLED MORE THAN 96-HUNDRED INCIDENTS DURING THE NOVEMBER 22ND TO 26TH TRAVEL PERIOD, INCLUDING 10 FATAL CRASHES. MASTER SERGEANT MIKE LINK SAYS THAT’S ONE LESS FATALITY THAN LAST YEAR.
 
 
TROOPERS ALSO MADE 89 DRUNK DRIVING ARRESTS AND WROTE 440 TICKETS FOR NOT WEARING A SEATBELT.

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Rauner Aims To Strengthen Relationship With China

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has made a concerted effort over the last few months to bolster business ties with Japan across Illinois. 
 
Rauner says over 600 companies in Illinois employ more than 44,000 Illinoisans.
 
 
Japanese Consul General Naoki Ito joined Rauner at the event and says 
southern Illinois is a great place to invest.
 
 
Rauner and Ito attended the Rend Lake College Education and Workforce Development Luncheon on Wednesday in Ina.
 

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