Local News

Local Historian Outlines Lincoln, Moore's Friendship

The month of February is annually a time to remember the life of President Abraham Lincoln and his impact on central Illinois and a local historian recently recollected on his friendship with CH Moore.
 
Joey Woolridge is the Director of the CH Moore Homestead and indicates unlike a lot of other notable local historical figures, there is not much known about the early stages of friendship between Lincoln and Moore. 
 
 
Woolridge says there were a lot of similarities between the two. She points out they both grew up around agriculture, they shared similar political views and both lost young children.
 
 
Some things that are documented, Woolridge indicates the two socialized in both professional and personal circumstances.
 
 
Woolridge explains while Lincoln was in the White House, a parcel of land Lincoln owned in Iowa was actually tended to by Moore. 
 
Recently, Woolridge discovered Moore's photo in the Lincoln family photo album, which is significant. 

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Blue Ridge Schools Hosting Latest Parents Academy Friday

If you're a parent in the Blue Ridge district and want to learn more about things happening in the district, the latest Parents Academy this Friday is worth checking out.
 
Susan Wilson, Superintendent at Blue Ridge indicates the event is in conjunction with the Read Across America event happening Friday night and they hope parents who are at the school for that will stick around and join them for the latest Parents Academy.
 
 
Topics for this Parents Academy will range from PARCC assessments to discussions to have with high school students and the things students are learning in the area of technology.
 
 
This parents academy will be held at Blue Ridge Junior High School Friday night. To get registered visit blueridge18.org or download their mobile and get push notifications of all the things happening within the district. 

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Last Week's Rains Rejuvinate Clinton Lake Levels

Clinton Lake is up five feet thanks to last week's rains.
 
That's according to DNR Conservation Officer John Williamson who says the Lake definitely needed the water as things were starting to get pretty low.
 
 
If you're looking to do some fishing while the weather is mild this week, Williamson indicates things might be a little slow right now.
 
 
If you're looking to get out and fish this spring, Williamson reminds you to get in and get that fishing license.
 
 
Just visit your local sporting goods store or visit illinois.dnr.gov to get your updated fishing license. Williamson indicates you can now get an electronic copy and make it easier for yourself in the event you need it.

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Hotline For Harassment Started

If you know of a case of harassment there is now a place to easily report it. The state has launched a hotline that connects you to options for counseling and legal services. 
 
Leslie Strain with the Illinois Department of Human Rights says victims need assistance at a very difficult time in their life.
 
 
The toll free number is 1-877-236-7703.

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Gun Control Measures Advance

An Illinois House committee has advanced multiple pieces of legislation designed to restrict firearms sales and possession and address mental health issues tied to firearms ownership. 
 
The Democratic-controlled Judiciary-Criminal Committee moved five measures to the House floor Tuesday in response to the Parkland, Florida school shootings and the shooting death a day earlier of a police officer in Chicago's Loop. 
 
House Speaker Mike Madigan's spokesman Steve Brown said the Speaker had guarded optimism about the bills when he announced plans to call the bills this week.
 
 
Brown notes the Speaker sees the pieces of legislation as a matter of gun safety, not gun control.
 
 
The bills are expected to reach the House floor today.

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Governor's Mansion to Reopen This Summer

The Illinois Bicentennial is getting a boost. After two years of an extensive privately-funded renovation, the Illinois Governor’s Mansion will reopen to the public on July 14. 
First Lady Diana Rauner, head of the Illinois Governor's Mansion Association, says donors of time and money paved the way for restoration of the Downtown Springfield landmark.
 
 
The mansion renovation is being paid exclusively by private donors. Rauner is thrilled to see the building get with the times when it comes to disabled access.
 
 
There is space to showcase Illinois fine and decorative arts along with a visitor’s center and there will be guided tours 7 days a week.

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Governor Awaiting Ruling on Fair Share Fees

Governor Bruce Rauner traveled to Washington for the opening day of arguments in the Supreme Court case tied to so called fair share fees that go to AFSCME Council 31, the union that represents the largest number of state workers. Governor Rauner sought to be the plaintiff in the case, but he was tossed aside by courts who ruled he didn't have standing. 
 
The torch has been passed to state worker Mark Janus. Appearing on Fox News Channel, Rauner continued to maintain fair share fees hurt state workers and taxpayers.
 
 
Rauner says the current state of bargaining between the state and public employee unions is unique in a way he's not that fond of.
 
 
Attorney General Lisa Madigan was also on hand for the opening day of arguments.

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Farmland Sale Brings $94-Hundred An Acre

A farmland sale in Western Illinois brings $9,400 per acre. The property is located near Alexis says Auctioneer Dale Jones.
 
 
The sale was Saturday and featured 30 registered bidders.

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Farm Management Agencies Merging

Eight regional associations that help Illinois farmers with financial advice will merge into one. Adams County farmer Randy Sims serves as the new chairman of the Farm Management Farm Business Association;
 
 
Some of the regional F-B-F-M associations have been around for close to 100 years. C-E-O Dwight Raab (ROB) says the merger process took a couple of years to combine the eight into one;
 
 
The statewide Farm Business Farm Management Association will continue to have offices on the campus of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

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Clinton High School JV Baseball Field Gets Major Renovation

Baseball squads across the state get back into the swing of things this week as the first day of practice is underway and JV baseball players in Clinton will get to play on a near state of the art field this year.
 
JV baseball coach Nate Ennis says the field was in rough shape and in need of some work. Thanks to a couple local supporters, the field underwent a $25-thousand renovation this winter.
 
 
Tony Douglas with Douglas Dodge, Justin Fentress with DeWitt Savings Bank and Marco Fertilizer all stepped up to help make the renovation possible. Ennis feels this is going to go be a big benefit for junior high and high school baseball players in Clinton in so many ways.
 
 
Ennis points out the school and its maintenance staff have committed to keeping the field up through general maintenance and upkeep. He points they have the materials and equipment to keep it up. 
 
 
 
 

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Lincoln High School Superintendent Talks School Security, Arming Teachers

Local leaders continue to react to Valentine's Day shooting at a Florida high school and the leader of one Logan County school says their district has done a lot in recent years to ensure the safety of their students.
 
Superintendent of Lincoln High School, Bob Bagby says it is disappointing that school leaders cannot guarantee the safety of their kids when they come to school.
 
 
Bagby feels people have gotten to a point where we do not value human life and says his students are becoming immune to this type of happening.
 
 
School districts across the country have been increasingly proactive in their efforts to protect students and Lincoln High School is no exception. Bagby says they've added numerous security measures to their building and are going to continue to do so.
 
 
Allowing teachers to carry guns in school during the day has been discussed a great deal of late and Bagby is not sure if that is something is he is for or not. He feels maybe that is something that could work for certain teachers but would rather have more resources given to mental health and more money for school resource officers.
 
 
Bagby feels schools need the resources to help students who have a mental health issue. Like many other districts, he points out their district has multiple school buildings and students walking from one building to the other. 

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This Week's Warm Weather Likely Isn't A Sign of Things to Come

We're getting a break from the cold and rain this week with some mild weather in central Illinois bringing temperatures in the 50's and 60's most of the week.
 
National Weather Service Meteorologist James Auten says this is not a sign of things to come, rather it is a nice break.
 
 
For the next few weeks, there isn't necessarily signs of winter breaking but that doesn't mean this weather won't return. Auten predicts normal conditions for March.
 
 
Long-term, Auten indicates things are looking to be normal with a chance for above normal precipitation.

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State Worker Gets Day in Court, Supreme Court

A hearing at the US Supreme Court focused on a case brought by a state worker from Springfield. Janus vs. AFSCME is about union representation of government employees who then have to pay fees or dues. 
 
Mark Janus says that he has a free speech right to not make contributions or fair share dues. Because as his side argues, everything a union does is a form of political speech. 
 
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was at the hearing and afterword says the mission of groups behind Janus are clear.
 
 
Governor Bruce Rauner, also in attendance at the court says on Twitter that he stands with Janus and others.

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IEA Says Janus Case Ramifications Extend To Classroom

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in the Janus vs. AFSCME case. The lawsuit focuses on so called fair share fees paid to public unions.
 
Illinois Education Association President says there is little question that AFSCME represented state workers won't be the only ones impacted by the final decision.
 
 
Gov. Bruce Rauner helped launch the case with a lawsuit he filed against AFSCME Council 31, in which he tried to ban fair share fees in state government. The federal court said Rauner did not have standing to bring such a suit, so he turned to a lone state employee—Mark Janus—to allow the legal challenge to proceed in his name. Griffin offered some parting shots.
 
 
Governor Rauner was on hand for today's oral arguments.

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Farm Bureau Pleased With Results from Adopt A Legislator Program

The Illinois Farm Bureau continues to promote the merits of the organization’s “Adopt a Legislator” program. The initiative pairs an urban lawmaker with a rural county. 
 
 
Illinois Farm Bureau’s Ryan Whitehouse says the program was started in 2001.

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Brett Edlredge Coming to State Fair Grand Stand

Eastern Illinois' own Brett Eldrege will turn this year's Illinois State Fair into a homecoming. Eldredge will be the headliner at the Grandstand stage on August 17th. 
 
Acting State Fair Manager Luke Sailer says Eldrege is a great fit, especially because he remains true to his Illinois roots.
 
 
Sailer says Eldredge also gets high marks for fan friendliness.
 
 
An opening act has not been announced. Fair officials say tickets will go on sale later this spring.

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Clinton Schools Leader Discusses School Safety

The discussion stemming from Valentine's Day shooting at the Florida high school has ramped up discussions about school safety across the country.
 
Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles weighed in on the discussion last week and points out the district has taken all the precautionary measure they can, as those efforts have certainly increased in the last five to ten years.
 
 
Nettles says they are doing everything they can each day to ensure the safety and well being of the students of the district. He notes while you can't stop everything, he wants to learn from every situation.
 
 
Nettles wants to put himself into every situation possible to keep him on the edge of his seat and never be complacent. 

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Clinton Schools Make Changes To 2018 Pre-K Screenings

Getting your kids screened for Pre-K this year will look a little different.
 
Principal of Douglas and Washington Elementary Schools in Clinton, Beth Wickenhauser explains to register your kids for the screening dates, you'll need to visit their school buildings on specific dates in March and pick an informational packet at the same time.
 
 
The screening process helps the district and parents get to know what their kids may need to work on as they prepare for Pre-K or kindergarten. Wickenhauser says there's a lot to consider during the screening process.
 
 
The district does need a lot of information prior to the screening and according to Wickenhauser, that is to comply with a grant they get for their Pre-K proram.
 
 
Again the registration dates for Pre-K screenings are March 5 at Douglas School from 4 to 7 pm and then March 8 at Lincoln school, from 4 pm to 7 pm and the screening dates are March 21-23. 

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Governor Offers Thoughts on Potential Gun Bills Proposed By Democrats

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER SAYS THERE NEEDS TO BE A FRANK DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW TO CURB GUN VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS. 
 
ILLINOIS HOUSE DEMOCRATS PLAN TO ADVANCE A PACKAGE OF GUN CONTROL BILLS NEXT WEEK AND GOVERNOR RAUNER HAS SAID HE’S OPEN TO IDEAS ON HOW TO KEEP STUDENTS SAFE. HE SAYS HE WOULD SIGN LEGISLATION BANNING BUMP STOCKS…BUT WHAT ABOUT ARMING TEACHERS?
 
 
THE GOVERNOR SAID HE DOES SUPPORT A PROPOSAL THAT AROSE AFTER THE LAS VEGAS SHOOTING.
 
 
THE GOVERNOR SAYS ANY MAJOR CHANGES TO GUN REGULATION LAWS REALLY NEED TO BE DONE AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL SO THAT THERE IS COHESION AMONG STATES.

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Soybean Association Keeping Transportation Issues At Forefront

Transportation issues continue to get much attention from the Illinois Soybean Association.
 
 
The soybean association’s John Longley says two projects in Illinois are of immediate concern. 
 
 
Longley farms in Aledo in western Illinois. 

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Perdue Promoting 'Harvest Box'

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue wants people who don’t like the idea of “America’s Harvest Box” to know that they are very serious about the idea. 
 
He says House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway is open to considering a small-scale pilot program in the 2018 Farm Bill. 
 
The Secretary has faced a lot of criticism since the proposal came out last week as part of President Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget. However, Perdue and his team are defending the idea. 
 
A Pro Ag report says they might be finding some open minds on Capitol Hill as well. 
 
"We think it’s our responsibility to create new, innovative ideas of delivering food to the people who need it,” Perdue says, “and this is one area.” 
 
During a recent tour through California, he did say there are some logistical concerns to the idea but called it “a real idea, not a sham.” 
 
Conaway has a great deal of the House Farm Bill already written, but he’s not ruling out the idea of a pilot project in the program. 
 
A committee aide says, while Conaway is open to the idea, no decisions have been made yet. 
 
Perdue says that’s encouraging because new ideas often need to be introduced on a small scale to see if they’ll work as intended.

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Durbin Says Congress Has Work To Do On Foreign Election Tampering

While the conversation about alleged Russian tampering with the Presidential Election is focused on people in power, Senator Dick Durbin says there needs to be another conversation, a bi-partisan one. 
 
Durbin says an effort needs to be made to prevent future electronic disruption of the nation's elections.
 
 
Durbin continues to be concerned about hacking of voter records, something that impacted the Illinois State Board of Elections last year.

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Mexico Buying More Brazilian Corn as NAFTA Negotiations Continue

Mexico purchased ten times more corn from Brazil last year than it had previously. 
Reuters says that’s due to the uncertainty regarding the potential outcome of the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. 
 
Mexican government data and top grain merchants all say they fear supply distruption from the U.S. if the White House ever followed through on its threat to withdraw from the pact. Mexico is already on track to buy more corn from Brazil in 2018. 
 
That’s a move that hurts an already struggling U.S. ag sector faced with low commodity prices and rising South American competition. U.S. farmers, food processors, and grain traders have spent months trying to make sure relationships don’t fall part if the NAFTA negotiations suddenly fall apart. 
 
They’re trying to protect over $19 billion in sales to Mexican buyers of corn, soybeans, poultry, and dairy. 
 
Despite that, Mexican corn imports from Brazil are climbing, totaling over one-half million metric tons in 2017. That’s a more than 900 percent jump over the previous year. The purchases all came in the last four months of 2017.

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Weekly Weather Update

The Midwest received some much needed rain last week but things will become very mild as we enter a new week. State climotologist Jim Angel has more...
 

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Section 199A Fix Is Coming

A DTN report says Congress may be close to replacing the Section 199A language in the new tax law that curbs the advantages of farmers who sell their products to cooperatives rather than private companies. 
 
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says a possible fix would give farmer cooperatives the same tax benefits they had under the old Section 199A, known as the Domestic Production Activities Deduction. 
 
That tax break amounted to about nine percent of a cooperative’s income and up to half the amount of wages paid to cooperative workers. Cooperatives then passed on the benefits of the deduction to their farmer-members. 
 
Grassley says, “I think there is enough agreement in Congress to do what we originally intended to do, which is maintaining the status-quo for co-ops. With enough agreement, we’re going to go ahead and get it done, even if co-ops aren’t completely satisfied with what we’re doing.” 
 
The fix coming out of Congress will essentially reinstate the law that was in effect prior to the 2017 tax bill and reestablish the Domestic Activities Deduction to the way it was over the last dozen years. 
 
Grassley says the Section 199A change will likely be included in the omnibus spending appropriations bill that has a March 23 deadline. Now that lawmakers and President Trump have agreed on a budget, Grassley feels the appropriations bill won’t be as big of a political battle to get passed.

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USDA Releases 2018 Planting Estimates

While some planters are already working in Texas, the Corn Belt seems a long way away from planting because of snow and ice. However, the USDA is already thinking about planting. 
 
During the Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Virginia, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its acreage estimates for 2018. 
 
The USDA says corn and soybean acres will be split, with 90 million acres going to corn and another 90 million to soybeans. The agency says wheat acres should rise to about 46.5 million. 
 
Cotton is also expected to jump one million acres over the 2017 estimate of 12.6 million acres. This year’s cotton acreage estimate is officially 13.3 million acres. 
 
Some analysts believe that soybeans could actually move past corn in the overall number of planted acres, with the potential for 91.5 million acres of soybeans in the ground. 
Soybean prices have rallied recently over South American weather concerns, but the export numbers haven’t been as favorable to soybeans in recent weeks.

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FFA Week: Heyworth

FFA Week wrapped up last week and the Heyworth FFA chapter did a lot of activities to involve their student body and the staff of the high school. 
 
Chapter President Lauren Neulieb (niy-leb) explains they did events like kiss a pig along with traditional activities for FFA Week.
 
 
Neulieb feels FFA has made her a better communicator and leader and would encourage anyone interested in being a part of FFA to do it as she has learned a lot about herself and what she wants to do in the future. 

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FFA Week: Tri-Valley

FFA Week wrapped up yesterday for area high schools and the Tri-Valley FFA chapter had a week filled with fun and fundraising.
 
Chapter President Eva Brittin indicates they did a pie-in-the-face of one of their teachers to raise money for a non-profit.
 
In her final year of FFA, Brittin says she is hoping to get more students involved in FFA.
 
FFA members at Tri-Valley did the usual dress-up days and did outreach with their peers to raise awareness about their chapter. 

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AmVets Remind High School Students of Scholarship Deadline

As part of the promotion for the Post 14 and AMVETS Illinois Service Foundation scholarships, Clinton Post 14 Scholarship Committee members went to the Clinton High School to “sell” our product.  
 
The Post members talked to several students not only in classrooms, but also during lunch periods in the school commons.  Pictured are the Scholarship Committee members, L – R: Marvin Hubble, Ed Beck, Darrel Tucker, and Jessie Owens (Alternate for Dennis Davenport) plus Post 14 Commander Marc Rogers.
 
Post 14 has both a fantastic privilege and very unique opportunity for developing this scholarship program. One of the Post members gifted Post 14 with a $10,000 donation designated for area scholarships; the Post then drafted guidelines developing the scholarship program.  It was requested by the donor that the scholarship funds go strictly to local high school seniors who are children and grandchildren of Veterans.  The breakdown of the funding has been requested to be in the form of half for four-year college bound students, while the other half of the donation is for students electing to pursue a trade school education.
 
As part of this trust, the Post established a Scholarship Committee to develop the application form and selection process criteria for the Dennis Davenport / AMVETS Post 14 Scholarships.  With some fantastic teamwork by the Post 14 members, both the application form and a scoring formula was created similar to the process used by the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary scholarship program.
 
This article is a reminder that applications for the Post 14 Scholarships are due by March 1st.  Prospective applicants are reminded that a minimum award for each scholarship will be $1000.00!  Post 14 is excited about being able to help our local Veterans’ children and grandchildren as they continue their education and training for the future.  We will provide the names of both sets of the scholarship winners for the Clinton Journal newspaper, so everyone can know who has been selected for both the four-year college and the trade school scholarships.

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County Board Chair Updates Wind Farm Process

A flurry of activity between the various DeWitt County entities has, for the time, settled, and DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg updated Regional Radio listeners of the latest on wind energy ordinances Friday morning.
 
Newberg explains the Regional Planning Commission, or RPC, met earlier this week and sent some recommendations on to the Zoning Board of Appeals for consideration.
 
 
The RPC sent the ordinances to the ZBA and Newberg says those hearings should get underway in early March.
 
 
Newberg compliments the work of the RPC and feels confident in their ability to make sound decisions for the county going forward.

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FFA Week: LeRoy

FFA Week is about to wrap up and it's been a busy week of fun and outreach in LeRoy.
 
Chapter President Taylor Spiker says they've done the traditional dress up days with a lot of variety this year.
 
 
Chapter Reporter Megan Hanlin explains their showcase is an outreach they do to other students who do not take ag classes or are not part of FFA and tries to make them aware of the things they do.
 
 
LeRoy FFA recently participated in the National FFA convention and at the State FFA Convention, Spiker received her state degree, a high honor for an FFA member to achieve.
 
 
Spiker and Hanlin joined the illinoisfarmradio.com noon farm show Thursday. Friday will wrap up the interviews with local FFA chapters from 12:20 pm to 1 pm and those interviews can be found at illinoisfarmradio.com. 

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Specialty Growers Concerned About University of Illinois Extension Staff

The state’s specialty growers are expressing concern about future staffing within the University of Illinois Extension system. 
 
The latest issue is the retirement of entomologist Rick Weinzierl says Randy Graham, chairman of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association.
 
 
Graham owns Curtis Orchard in Champaign. 

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More Discussion on Keeping Students in Illinois

LAWMAKERS AND THE HEAD OF THE STATE BOARD OF HIGHER EDUCATION ARE DISCUSSING HOW TO KEEP MORE COLLEGE STUDENTS IN ILLINOIS.
 
MORE AND MORE STUDENTS ARE CHOOSING TO ATTEND COLLEGE OUT OF STATE, AND THERE ARE SEVERAL FACTORS THAT GO INTO THAT DECISION. SENATOR DAN MCCONCHIE OF LAKE ZURICH NOTED THAT HIS DAUGHTER RECEIVED SCHOLARSHIPS OFFERS FROM SEVERAL BIG SCHOOLS IN OTHER STATES…BUT NONE FROM THE U OF I.
 
 
AL BOWMAN…STATE HIGHER EDUCATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SAYS REDUCTIONS IN STATE FUNDING HAVE REALLY HURT SCHOOLS AND THAT THEY NEED TO RESTORE FAITH IN ILLINOIS’ COLLEGE SYSTEM.
 
 
BOWMAN WAS SPEAKING AT A SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING WHERE LAWMAKERS URGED HIM TO WORK ON A STATEWIDE PLAN TO HELP RETAIN MORE ILLINOIS STUDENTS AT ALL STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES.

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Legalization of Pot Could Be Headed To Voters

VOTERS MAY BE ASKED IF THEY SUPPORT LEGALIZING RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA WHEN THEY HEAD TO THE POLLS IN NOVEMBER.
 
LEGISLATION ADVANCED BY A SENATE COMMITTEE CREATES A VOTER REFERENDUM ON WHETHER POT SHOULD BE TAXED, REGULATED AND ALLOWED FOR USE BY THOSE 21 AND OVER. SENATOR BILL CUNNINGHAM OF CHICAGO SAYS IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO SEE HOW ILLINOISANS FEEL ABOUT THE IDEA.
 
 
SUPPORTERS NOTE THE REFERENDUM WOULD BE “NON-BINDING” BUT WOULD SERVE TO FURTHER THE CASE FOR LEGALIZING RECREATIONAL POT IN ILLINOIS.

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Lawmakers Propose Bill To Petition To Have Guns Taken Away From Someone That Could Be A Danger

AMONG SEVERAL GUN BILLS INTRODUCED AT THE STATE CAPITOL…IS ONE LETTING FAMILY MEMBERS SEEK A “LETHAL VIOLENCE ORDER OF PROTECTION.”
 
THE MEASURE LETS SOMEONE CONCERNED THAT A LOVED ONE MAY COMMIT AN ACT OF VIOLENCE PETITION THE COURTS TO TAKE AWAY THAT PERSON’S FIREARMS. A HEARING WOULD THEN BE HELD SAYS BILL SPONSOR…SENATOR JULIE MORRISON OF DEERFIELD.
 
 
GUN DEALER LOBBYIST TODD VANDERMYDE OPPOSES THE MEASURE, SAYING IT MAKES IT TOO EASY TO STRIP SOMEONE OF THEIR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS BASED ON THE WORD OF ANOTHER.
 
 
OTHER GUN LEGISLATION BANS ASSAULT WEAPONS, BUMP STOCKS AND WHAT ARE CALLED “GHOST GUNS.”

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More Wind Farm Talk At County Board Meeting

The DeWitt County Board heard more about wind farms Thursday night at their regular monthly meeting.
 
At the land use committee meeting earlier this month, Melonie Tilley proposed a moratorium on wind farms however the discussion did not culminate in any action and the same was the case Thursday night when Tilley brought the topic to the full board.
 
She clarified for the board what a moratorium would mean for them...
 
 
Tilley points to Macon and McLean Counties are in the process of updating their ordinances in place. Macon County has a wind farm that is in its first year of operation while McLean County has two wind farms in place.
 
 
The County is in the midst of updating its comprehensive plan and Tilley wants to see that process play out before any decisions on the wind farm are made.
 
 
The comprehensive plan update, which is just underway, has been attempted to be updated before however, an update was rejected by a previous board. 
 
The update is not expected to be brought before the board any sooner than November. 

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DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition Finds New Leadership

The DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition will be under new leadership when they meet again in March.
 
DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner, whose office was instrumental in the formation of the coalition, says the coalition was brought together by law enforcement to be a means to connect resources in central Illinois.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner feels it is a good idea to have new leadership take over the coalition to allow it to be more approachable for the community.
 
 
The new chairman of the coalition is Pastor Jeff Delaughter and Paul Skowron from Warner Hospital and Health Services is the vice-chair.
 
 
Coalition meetings are open to the public. If you'd like to consider joining, visit them at the Warner Library on the third Tuesday of the month at 10 am. 

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Clinton Schools Leader Talks Pension Shift Proposal

The leader of Clinton Schools is reacting to the Governor's proposal to shift the cost of funding teachers pensions from the state level to the local level.
 
Superintendent of Clinton Schools Curt Nettles points out this proposal has been talked about for around five years and indicates it is a problem the state legislature single-handedly created.
 
 
Nettles speculates if this ever is passed it would be brought in over time, and now some lawmakers are also calling to allow schools to levy a tax to pay for it.
 
 
When it is all said and done, Nettles predicts this happening and those pension costs for teachers being shifted to school districts.
 
 
As it relates to the State's payments to schools, Nettles indicates the State's debt to the school was nearly cut in half as they received the first quarterly payment. He points out there's still a struggle with cash flow and the Comptroller issues the payments when she can. 

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Friday Final Free Friday at Miller Park Zoo

If you want to check out the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, this Friday is the final time this year you can do so for free.
 
Jay Tetzloff, Superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo indicates this Friday is the final free day as a part of their free Fridays in February.
 
 
February has been mild enough the Friday crowds have been pretty good. Tetzloff says the rain and snow can keep some from coming out.
 
 
Tetzloff reminds those who might be considering coming out but the forecast is showing precipitation or it's going to be cold, half of the zoo's collection is inside and half is outside. 

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Rauner Visits Veterans Home After Latest Legionnaire's Outbreak

After a fourth case of Legionnaire's Disease was discovered at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, Governor Bruce Rauner paid a return visit to the facility. 
 
Rauner says he isn't ready to proceed with calls to move veterans out of the home.
 
 
There's a difference of opinion on what it will cost to fix the situation in Quincy. A state report on the veterans home indicated it would take $8 million to eliminate the Legionnaire's threat. Meanwhile, the Rauner Administration has talked of a $25 million price tag. The Governor isn't ready to name a final price.
 
 
Rauner's GOP opponent, West Point grad and State Rep. Jeannie Ives said during a Wednesday press conference "“Get them out of that home NOW,” 

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Davis Says FEMA Amendment Removed By Senate

Central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis recently sponsored a provision in a bill to make it easier for downstate Illinois to receive FEMA aid, but the U.S. Senate removed the item from the bill. Davis says for small communities that suffer disasters, the current FEMA funding formula is unfair.
 
 
Davis says partisan politics is causing good policies like his FEMA provision to be cast aside in the Senate.

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Lt. Governor Believes Rauner Budget Has Bipartisan Flavor

A key part of Governor Rauner's budget framework should look familiar to Democrats. 
So says Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti who notes the Governor wasn't the first key figure in state politics to suggest shifting the responsibility for teacher pensions from the state to local school districts.
 
 
Rauner hopes the shift leads to 1.3 billion dollars in savings in his new budget. 

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Duckworth Discusses Ag Labor, Crop Insurance

U-S Senator Tammy Duckworth told a group of farmers that she'll fight to keep the U-S Department of Agriculture's research laboratory in Peoria open despite President Trump's effort to close the facility. The president's proposed federal 20-19 budget would shut it and more than a dozen U-S-D-A facilities down;
 
 
Duckworth and other Illinois lawmakers had to fight off a similar proposal to close the Peoria ag lab last year;
 
 
During her meeting with farmers at the Peoria County Farm Bureau Duckworth also heard concerns about the president's budget proposal that would cut federal crop insurance. Duckworth says she'll oppose that proposal too.

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Threat Made At Blue Ridge Junior High School Tuesday Afternoon

A verbal threat of violence was made at Blue Ridge Junior High School yesterday.

 

Per a release from the school, a student informed school officials of a verbal threat to the school after the conclusion of the school day Tuesday and the school notified authorities who conducted an immediate investigation.

 

Piatt County Sheriff’s deputies were at the school this morning along with the school resource to investigate and the school did not need to go on lockdown.

 

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Clinton To Go Back Out For Municipal Aggregation

The City of Clinton is going back out for bid to try to ensure local residents a better rate on their electricity.
 
The process, known as electric aggregation, is coming back around and City Administrator Tim Followell indicates around 80-percent of the community participates.
 
 
Follow explains there are over a dozen communities bidding during this process, which will result in a better bid.
 
 
Literature is going out in the near future about this process and Followell indicates every resident in the pool can decide if they want to be a part of it or not.
 
 
For those that may not be a part of the City's program, you can join at any time. 

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FFA Week: Maroa-Forsyth

FFA Chapters across the country are in the midst of their biggest celebrations of the year.
 
Locally, the Maroa-Forsyth FFA has been busy leading up to this week. Chapter Treasurer, Ashton Williams indicates they've already been skiing and to an Illinois basketball game this week.
 
 
Harlan Kapferschmidt says they've got a lot more to come this week.
 
 
Theme days are a staple for FFA chapters locally and Secretary Brailey Fink outlines the rest of the week's theme days for their chapter.
 
 
The students joined the IllinoisFarmRadio.com noon farm show for National FFA week. More interviews can be heard all week on WHOW.

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Richland Community College To Cut Ribbon On New State of the Art Student Center

Thanks to a flow of government money, a local community college is going to unveil a brand new student center this week.
 
Greg Florian at Richland Community College says they've renovated some existing space and have added new space to the Student Success Center and Carroll Center for Innovative Learning. 
 
 
Florian says this new learning center is going to update the technology in the classrooms, which has been received with high marks by their faculty and students.
 
 
A ribbon cutting for the new student center is this Thursday at 5:30 pm on the campus of Richland Community College. 

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No Movement on Obama Commemoration Efforts in Springfield

A 2016 announcement indicated Governor Bruce Rauner, Secretary of State Jesse White and Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder's office would team up to leave a permanent reminder of President Obama's years in Springfield. 
 
There has been no sign of movement since. Mayor Jim Langfelder says the effort is on the backburner for now as local and state officials focus on the state's bicentennial.  
 
The three leaders pledged a committee of leaders would be assembled to commemorate the Obama years in Springfield. Langfelder says he's thinking about ideas though, like adding a statue of former President Obama at a proposed park in the Capital City's Downtown area. 

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Illinois Treasurer Unveils Rural Initiatives

The Illinois State Treasurer is announcing a trio of programs designed to free up money for predominantly rural parts of the state. The Community Uplift Program is designed to support communities that struggle with unemployment, poverty and business closings; Ag Invest partners with family farming operations; and Finally Home will help individuals purchase a home or help refinance in cases of hardship.
 
Treasurer Mike Frerichs announced these programs at the National Great Rivers Museum Tuesday morning. He says the treasurer’s office has partnered with lending institutions to provide below-market loans to start, expand or add value to family farming operations for more than 35 years.
 
 
The Community Uplift Program provides capital to lending institutions at below-market rates so they can increase lending activities, fund local development efforts, and assist local communities and their residents. Qualified applicants for Finally Home typically have marginal credit scores. 
 
The program also helps to stabilize neighborhoods through increased home ownership. For more information on these programs, go to www.InvestinRuralIllinois.com

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Illinois FFA Boosting Numbers During FFA Week

Illinois FFA boasting numbers during National FFA week. There are 17,000 members in Illinois with 321 chapters says Illinois FFA’s Katie Burns.
 
 
Burns grew up in the FFA, served as a section president and also earned her American FFA Degree. She attended Sparta High School. 

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Durbin Reacts To Student Protests Against Gun Laws

Senator Dick Durbin is taking notice of efforts by high school students, who are joining in demonstrations like a "lie in" protest outside the White House. 
 
Durbin gives the young people high marks for getting their message across but he isn't ready to say it will lead to a breakthrough for those who want to see further discussion about the nation's gun laws.
 
 
Durbin talks about what the movement will need after the Florida school shootings fade from the headlines.
 
 
Students from the group Teens For Gun Reform say another event dubbed “March For Our Lives” will take place March 24.

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FFA Week Highlight: Clinton

The Clinton FFA chapter is among the thousands across America taking part in the annual FFA week.
 
Activities hosted by the FFA highlight most weeks in each school that make it unique for each chapter. Tennyson Kern is the Clinton Chapter President and indicates they will have an antique tractor day and a bring your tractor to school day.
 
 
Members of the Clinton FFA chapter joined Regional Radio Farm Broadcast Jared White on the noon farm show on WHOW Monday, giving them a chance to highlight the successes of the chapter. Kern indicates a number of their members are advancing with their record books.
 
 
During the noon farm show this week on WHOW, you can hear from FFA chapters from all over central Illinois. 

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DeWitt County Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarships Available

The DeWitt County Farm Bureau Foundation has opened applications for its 2018 scholarship program. 
 
Five scholarships ranging in value from $500 to $1,500 will be available to college and high school students studying agriculture.
 
To be eligible for the scholarships, students must either be a current college student enrolled in an ag-related program or a high school senior planning to study in an ag-related field. Students also must either reside in DeWitt County or be the dependent of a DeWitt County Farm Bureau voting member.
 
New this year, a $500 scholarship made possible through the Foundation’s Tractor Drive will be available. While all students meeting the above qualifications are eligible to receive this scholarship, individuals planning to begin or continue their tech or trade education will receive bonus points during application evaluation. Examples include, but are not limited to: welding, diesel mechanics and truck/trailer operation.
 
Complete eligibility details and a copy of the application can be found on www.dewittcountyfarmbureau.com/scholarships, or by calling the office at 217-935-2126.
 
Typed applications are due via email or hard copy in the DeWitt County Farm Bureau office, 1060 State Hwy. 54, Clinton, by 4 p.m. on March 1. High school applicants are also be asked to participate in an in-person interview on March 5 at the DCFB office.

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Community Action Takes Over Lincoln Thrift Store

A local non-profit is jumping into the world of retail with the intent of bolstering their programs.
 
Community Action is taking over a downtown Lincoln thrift store and according to Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez, there will be two focuses on the locations two separated areas.
 
 
Community Action plans to call the thrift store, The Hanger. Rumler-Gomez wants to implement several of their existing programs into the store. She explains it would flow nicely with the things they are teaching their clients.
 
 
The Hanger thrift store is at 616 North Broadway Street in Lincoln across from the courthouse. 

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Governor Rauner Discusses School Shootings

Governor Bruce Rauner is responding to last week's school shootings in Florida....
 
 
Rauner says he will continue to focus on the mental health issue as a part of criminal justice reform...
 

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Pension Shift, Health Insurance Tough Sell

The center piece of Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget blueprint is a cost shift for pensions. 
The move would involve Chicago and downstate schools as well as state universities and would save the state a billion dollars, but critics say it will result in a spike in local property taxes. 
 
The other big piece of the governor’s budget plan calls for removing health insurance from collective bargaining discussions with state employee unions and making some cuts in retiree health insurance premiums. 
 
Rauner estimates the move would save another half-a-billion dollars, but it’s a tough sell says Jack Tichenor, host of Public Media’s Illinois Lawmakers.
 
 
Tichenor says another issue presented in the Governor’s budget plan is rolling back part of last year’s income tax increase. 

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Star Wars Among Popular Items at Warner Library

The library systems in the US has had to adjust to the growing use of technology in the home and the Warner Library in Clinton has done as good of a job as any in keeping up when it comes to the latest and greatest and being there with it.
 
From increased movie and TV show watching to on-demand material, the library has almost everything you'd find in your local movie store or retail shop. Children's Librarian Paula Lopatic says Star Wars is timelessly popular.
 
 
Despite the increasingly busy lives Americans lead and the increased use of media on our devices, the library continues to thrive and Lopatic feels it is because parents and adults continue to make the effort to keep their kids invested in literature.
 
 
Lopatic says it is still best for parents to be setting the example of reading in the home. Whether it is a printed piece of literature or if you're reading something on your phone, kids need that example set.
 
 
Lopatic reminds patrons in Clinton and DeWitt County, the Library offers both print materials and ways to access materials electronically. To learn all of those opportunities and the children's programs at the Library, just visit vwarner.org or stop by their location at 310 North Quincy Street in Clinton. 

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Route 10 Reopens After Earlier Morning Electrical Fire

Route 10 has been cleared and traffic is flowing normally after an early morning fire near Weldon Monday.
 
According to DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner's office, the fire was near the intersection of Route 10 and Lakewood Road.
 
Traffic was down to one lane for a short time. 
 
Weldon Fire officials along with the Sheriff's office were on scene. 
 
No other details are available at this time. 

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Sen. Rose Discusses Governor's Proposal for Teacher Pension Cost Shift

Last week, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner proposed a cost shift for teacher pensions to local schools.
 
Many lawmakers have come out questioning this proposal and some are against it all together. State Senator Chapin Rose says this is going to be an unpopular decision on both sides of the aisle, but it is something that has to be done to balance the budget.
 
 
According to Sen. Rose, local units of government already do this. He points out taxpayers would be treated equally and the Governor has money appropriated to cover the costs and phase the costs in.
 
 
The Senator feels it is not a perfect solution to a problem that has been brewing for decades but it is better than what Mike Madigan proposed a few short years ago. 

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MN Students Want GMO Approval Process Streamlined

A group of graduate students at the University of Minnesota is asking Congress to streamline the approval process for GMO crops that produce food and fiber. A DTN article says the seven students are doing graduate work at the Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences. 
 
They believe the regulatory hoops that companies need to jump through to commercialize new traits are slowing down innovation. 
 
In a letter to U.S. representatives, the students pointed out that it costs companies between $20 million and $30 million to get a new GMO crop from start to finish through the regulatory process. 
 
That’s a price tag that limits smaller companies from making inroads into the marketplace.
 
The students say, “Each of us has numerous ideas about genetic modification that could be developed into startup companies and bring more competition in a marketplace that’s dominated by a few mega-companies that can afford the regulatory process.” 
 
The letter asks Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that funnels GMO fuel and fiber crops through either the USDA or the EPA, but not both.

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Spring Weather Outlook

IT MIGHT BE A COOL AND RAINY SPRING ACCORDING TO THE LATEST WEATHER OUTLOOK. 
 
STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL SAYS MOST OF NORTHERN AND NORTHWESTERN ILLINOIS ARE EXPECTED TO BE COLDER THAN NORMAL IN MARCH…AND THE REST OF THE STATE WILL BE ABOUT AVERAGE.
 
 
LA NINA IS EXPECTED TO QUICKLY FADE AND THE OUTLOOK FOR THIS SUMMER CALLS FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES…ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT.
 
CURRENTLY…THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT PRECIPITATION WILL BE EITHER ABOVE OR BELOW NORMAL THIS SUMMER. THE LATEST U-S DROUGHT MONITOR REPORT FINDS MUCH OF ILLINOIS, ESPECIALLY THE BOTTOM TWO-THIRDS, IS PRETTY DRY.

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Legislation Designed to Save Pollinators Introduced in House

Representatives Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts introduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act. 
 
The legislation is designed to protect the health of honey bees and other critical pollinators. Estimates are that the U.S. lost one-third of honeybee colonies between 2016 and 2017, with similar losses occurring in previous years. 
 
To help bring a halt to the trend, the legislation suspends the use of bee-toxic insecticides (neonicotinoids), which have been linked to the declining population of pollinators. It also would require the Environmental Protection Agency to do a thorough evaluation to make sure using these insecticides is not adversely affecting pollinator populations. 
 
Blumenauer says, “A healthy food system depends on healthy pollinators. To keep the status quo is like flying blind. We shouldn’t be using these insecticides when we don’t know for sure how they’re affecting pollinators. The EPA has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this in order to protect our pollinators.” 
 
McGovern says that protecting pollinators is essential to the sustainability of our nation’s food supply. Studies estimate that one of every three bites of food Americans eat is from a crop pollinated by bees.

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Community Action Offering Tax Help to Low Income, Minimal English Speaking Residents

Community Action of Central Illinois is offering tax assistant for residents that qualify.
 
CFO of Community Action, Kathy Inman says they offer the free tax help to low-income residents or those with limited English speaking ability.
 
 
Inman says she generally sees clients on Wednesdays but can make arrangements for those who work or have other special requests. 
 
To learn more and find out if you qualify, contact Community Action at 217-732-2159 or visit capcil.info.

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Warner Library Offering Free Tax Help

AARP and the Warner Library in Clinton are partnering to offer patrons free tax help. 
 
Library Director Bobbi Perryman indicates anybody can set up and appointment to receive the help, it is not limited to just seniors.
 
 
To get an appointment set up and find out what you need to bring in, just contact the library at 217-935-5174. 

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Gas Station Construction On Hold For Now

Little movement has been made in the continued construction of the Mach1 gas station in Clinton.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell says the winter weather has forced crews to postpone construction until the weather gets better.
 
 
Completion was planned originally for March but that has been pushed back. Followell says a completion timeline now is not really known until crews can get back to work.

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Drop in Farm Incomes Could Mean Another Tight Year

The forecasted drop in net farm income means farmers and ranchers will again face tight margins this year. Micheal Clements has more…
 

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Weekly Weather Summary

We saw a warmup in the middle of the week, can we expect more of the same next week? State climotologist Jim Angel has more....
 

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Clinton Education Foundation Hands Out Yearly Teacher Grants

Three classrooms in the Clinton school district were awarded grants from the Clinton Community Education Foundation Thursday afternoon.
 
Russell Long is the Foundation Treasurer and says they awarded grants across three classrooms totaling around $2500 dollars. The number of applications was down this year but Long hopes some things the Foundation will try in the future may increase the number next year.
 
 
President of the CCEF, Barbara Gullone indicates the teacher grants are there to bridge the gap between what teachers need that the school cannot supply due to budget constraints. She says they want to do what they can to enhance the learning experience of students in Clinton.
 
 
Virtual reality equipment is coming to Laura Molitoris and Monica Kessinger's classroom at Clinton Elementary School. Molitoris says it will allow their students to do virtual reality field trips to places all over the world, enhancing some equipment they already have.
 
 
Ginger Morgan's classroom at Lincoln School will be getting $1000 for the Letter People. Morgan is a special needs teacher for the kindergarten-first grade.
 
 
The speech pathologist at Douglas School, Kelli Cothern says she is getting additional resources to work with her students, increasing the toys and learning tools she has access to.
 
 
Gullone indicates the CCEF is also contributing to the Junior High School and the sixth-grade class field trip to the Heartland Community College space center.
 
 
Ideas for increasing teacher applications for the yearly grants are still in the early stages. 
The CCEF also contributes to scholarships for students graduating and they also help pay for dual-credit courses at Clinton High School. 
 
Picture Below: CCEF President Barbara Gullone, Molitoris, Kessinger and CCEF Treasurer Russell Long
 
 
Pictured Below: Gingers, Gullone and Long
 
 
Picured below: Gullone, Long and Cothern
 

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Central Illinois Lawmakers Discuss Governor's Budget Address

Local lawmakers are praising Governor Bruce Rauner's budget proposal from this week but say there's still a long way to go.
 
State Senator Chapin Rose was pleased the Governor proposed a balanced budget with a surplus, a term Illinoisans haven't heard in a long time.
 
 
Senate minority leader, Bill Brady credits the Governor for his tough decisions and putting forward a plan for a balanced budget.
 
 
One of the Governor's proposals is drawing the ire of several Illinois lawmakers but Sen. Rose reminds Democrats who oppose this measure, this was Speaker Madigan's idea just a few short years ago.
 
 
Sen. Brady is on board with the Governor's ideas to grow the economy. He hopes things can get done in a bipartisan way.
 
 
Sen. Rose is hopeful the election does not get in the way of passing a budget but is very mindful a short-term budget could be discussed as the primary and general election nears. 

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Blue Ridge Band Hosting Fundraising Talent Show Tonight

Come out and have a good time with Blue Ridge High School students tonight and help them raise money for a trip coming up this summer.
 
The Blue Ridge High School band has been nominated by Governor Bruce Rauner to represent Illinois at the annual Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C. To raise money to go out to the nation's capital this summer, they are hosting a talent show tonight at the high school. Band member Georgia Manuel says there will be lots of different talents displayed and you can vote for your favorite.
 
 
Olive Garden is catering a spaghetti dinner prior to the talent show. Tyler Maxwell indicates dinner is from 5:30 pm to 7 pm.
 
 
Kaitlyn Stephens says the band is excited to be a part of the Memorial Day weekend parade in Washington, D.C.
 
 
To get tickets or to learn more about the fundraising talent show at Blue Ridge High School tonight, contact Blue Ridge Band Director Chris Mitchell at Blue Ridge High School by calling 309-928-2622. 
 
Tickets are $10 in advance and can be purchased at the door. And again an Olive Garden dinner begins being served at 5:30 pm with the talent show to begin at 7 pm. 

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Romance Scam Warnings

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but the Better Business Bureau has tips so you don't fall for online romance scams. 
 
Whether you are searching for a partner at a dating site, or are contacted randomly through the various messaging services, you need to keep your guard up for some warning signs, according to an investigator with the agency. 
 
Scammers often use these scams to steal large sums of money from their victims. Even if targets realize they have been victims of a scam, BBB Investigator Don O'Brien says the fraud may continue with a new scam pretending to help them get their money back, or the tried-and-true blackmail angle.
 
 
The spread of online dating sites and apps has made this fraud even easier to commit. 
Victims in the US and Canada have reported losing nearly $1 billion over the last three years, and BBB estimates there may be more than a million victims in the U.S. alone. 
 
Because most people do not file complaints about romance scams with BBB or law enforcement, this may just be the tip of the iceberg.

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Durbin Talks Gun Violence

Senator Dick Durbin had plenty to say after the school shooting in Broward County, Florida that has left 17 dead so far. 
 
Durbin gave Congress a poor grade for its handling of the issue of gun violence.
 
 
While Durbin said there has been inaction on gun violence concerns, he takes issue with one area where action was taken.
 
 
Durbin also remembered the victims of the Northern Illinois University shooting ten years ago.

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Rep. Brady Gives Rauner's Budget Address Thumbs Up

Gov. Bruce Rauner renewed his call for economic and structural reforms Wednesday in the final budget address of his first term. 
 
Speaking from behind the podium in the Illinois House Chambers, State Representative Dan Brady called it a good speech but said there will be some lengthy debate in the process.
 
 
Rauner said Illinois’ only chance at righting its fiscal ship is to enact the types of reforms he’s been pushing for since before he took office.  
 
Rauner went on to say those reforms are reflected in what he called his balanced budget proposal for fiscal 2019.

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Governor Calling For Millions For Quincy, Chicago Veterans Homes

Two more cases of Legionnaire’s disease were announced this week at the Quincy Veteran’s Home. 
 
Wednesday in his budget address Governor Bruce Rauner is asking for millions to improve the home in Quincy and completion of a vet’s home in Chicago.
 
 
Construction of the veteran’s home in Chicago was delayed in part due to the lack of a state budget for the first two years of Rauner’s term as Governor. 

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Critics Troubled By Rauner's Calls For Pension Shifts

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER WANTS SCHOOLS TO PICK UP PART OF THE TAB FOR TEACHER PENSIONS…BUT CRITICS SAY THAT WILL END UP COSTING TAXPAYERS. 
 
THE GOVERNOR IS CALLING FOR SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES TO TAKE OVER TEACHER PENSION COSTS OVER THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. HE SAYS THIS WILL GIVE DISTRICTS AND COLLEGES MORE INCENTIVE TO MANAGE COSTS. BUT DEMOCRATS, LIKE SENATOR DAVE KOEHLER OF PEORIA QUESTION HOW THAT WILL WORK OUT.
 
 
SENATOR STEVE STADELMAN OF ROCKFORD IS CONCERNED.
 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS AN INCREASE EDUCATION FUNDING AND MORE FLEXIBILITY IN CONTRACTING AND SHARING SERVICES WILL HELP OFFSET PENSION COSTS FOR SCHOOLS.

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Comptroller Releases Latest Debt Transparency Report

ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER SUSAN MENDOZA IS RELEASING HER LATEST REPORT ON THE STATE’S FINANCES.
 
IT’S THE SECOND REPORT UNDER THE NEW DEBT TRANSPARENCY ACT…DESIGNED TO GIVE A DETAILED MONTHLY SNAPSHOT OF ILLINOIS’ ENTIRE BILL BACKLOG. COMPTROLLER MENDOZA SAYS IT SHOWS THE STATE STILL HAS MORE THAN NINE BILLION DOLLARS IN BILLS TO BE PAID.
 
 
MENDOZA SAYS THE STATE OWES 946 MILLION DOLLARS IN LATE PAYMENT INTEREST PENALTIES ALONE.
 
 
MENDOZA SAYS THE GOVERNOR AND LAWMAKERS NEED TO ADDRESS THIS MOUNTAIN OF DEBT WHEN THEY PUT TOGETHER A BUDGET FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR.

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Land Use Committee Member Proposes Wind Farm Moratorium, Committee Says No

At a lengthy Land Use Committee meeting Tuesday night, a member of the Land Use committee proposed a moratorium on wind farms in DeWitt County.
 
Melonie Tilley read a statement asking the committee to suspend all discussion of the issue until more is learned about them and wants to see what other areas experience as it relates to their experiences with wind farms in the area.
 
 
Tilley wants to see the process slow down and get more information from experts. She acknowledges there are people are for and against it but wonders what there is to lose with a moratorium in place.
 
 
Camille Redman gave a vote of confidence to the people that have made decisions to this point. She also says points out the RPC, the ZBA, and the DeWitt  County Board members all want what is best for the county.
 
 
While the moratorium was not approved by the committee, they did send back to the County Board, the rest of the ordinances that are not already headed to the Regional Planning Commission. 

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Governor Rauner Issues Brief Budget Address To Illinois General Assembly

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner did not waste any time in proposing what he touted as a balanced budget.
 
In an address heard on WHOW Wednesday afternoon, the Governor says employee pensions and health care are eating up too much of the state budget.
 
 
Sticking to calls made on the campaign trail and in budget proposals past, the Governor again called for reforms to the Illinois pension system.
 
 
Additionally, the Governor wants to see Illinois schools begin sharing in the cost of teacher pensions.
 
 
The Governor also discussed education in Illinois, both K-12 education and higher education spending.
 
 
Again, going to back to the Governor's campaign promises and his budget speeches past, the Governor again called for lawmakers to pass tax cuts.
 
 
The Governor wants to see employee health care come more in line with the private sector and for workers compensation rates to be reduced. 

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Masonic Pancake Breakfast Benefits Angel Tree

Pictured: Tim Longfellow from the Valley of Bloomington Scottish Rite presents Sue Calvert, Volunteer Director of DeWitt County Samaritan Room-Angel Tree, with a check for $750.00.   Back Row is Members of DeWitt Masonic Lodge #84 and Scottish Rite: Chuck Payne, Mike Hiter, John Hoblit, Mark Kagel, Gary Welch, Jon Goff, Gary Nodine (Worshipful Master,) and Ben North.  
 
In addition to the Scottish Rite gift, the DeWitt Masonic Lodge #84 raised $1,768.94 hosting the annual “Masonic Pancake Breakfast,” this past November to benefit the Samaritan Room’s Angel Tree Program for 522 needy children from Clinton, Lane, Wapella, Hallsville, Waynesville, Kennedy and DeWitt during the holidays.  

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County Board Chair Talks DeWitt County With Clinton Rotary

2017 was a good year for DeWitt County.
 
That was the message from the County Board Chair to the Clinton Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon. David Newberg says the biggest highlight from last year was the agreement reached with Exelon on a tax settlement for EAV that will last five years and end any appeals currently held up in the court system.
 
 
Newberg didn't shy away from discussing the wind farm and the latest with the County Board. Newberg explains it's been almost a year since the Regional Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals re-adjusted the ordinances. Since then, the discussion has resurfaced and is now circling back around.
 
 
Newberg calls the current process a fine tuning of the ordinances in place. He indicates this is not the process of an application from a wind developer, in this case, Tradewind Energy. 
 
Newberg indicates the timeline for the reconsideration of ordinances, a special use permit application and a vote on the special use permit by the full County Board could go into the summer months. 

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New Legionnaire's Case At Quincy Veterans Home

Two more cases of Legionnaire’s disease have now been reported at the Quincy Veteran’s Home.
 
The Illinois Department of Public Health says that both individuals are currently doing well. 
 
The new cases come on the heels of investigations and news reports on why it took so long to identify and alert individuals to an initial outbreak in 2015 that killed 13 people. 

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Rural America Still Battling Uses for Vacant Downtown Storefronts

Finding new and different uses for vacant downtown storefronts continues to be a challenge in rural Illinois. 
 
It’s something that will be addressed at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs 29th Annual Rural Community and Economic Development Conference next month. 
 
 
This year’s conference is March 6-8 at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. You can register at “iira.gov”. 

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Madigan Cuts Ties With Political Consultant

There is fallout from the growing conversation about sexual harassment at the Statehouse. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has cut ties with a long-time political consultant after an investigation found he sent inappropriate text messages to a colleague. 
 
Madigan attorney Heather Wier Vaught (wire-vaught) discusses the investigation that led to the ouster of Kevin Quinn.
 
 
Wire-Vaught referred to Quinn's oilder brother, Chicago Alderman Marty Quinn. Wier Vaught says Madigan's political operation is taking steps to help prevent future issues.... 
 
 
Wier Vaught says Quinn and the woman were not state employees and the woman who sought the investigation is a political consultant not employed by Madigan. 

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Kennedy Calling For Madigan To Step Aside - For Now

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy is calling for House Speaker Mike Madigan to take a leave of absence to pave the way for an investigation of claims of sexual harassment against a former political staffer. 
 
Kennedy says if it is found that Speaker Madigan knew about these allegations and chose to protect his political interests over women who were abused. 
 
Machine political allies instead of the women who were abused by them, he no longer can lead our party.

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Harassment Victim Details Texts, Perceived Slow Response for Help

A campaign worker for Democratic candidates is starting to tell more of her story about what it was like to be harassed by a high ranking aide to Speaker Mike Madigan. 
 
Alaina Hampton has worked on Democratic campaigns since 2012; she says harassing text messages from Kevin Quinn went on for months. She says that complaints seemed to go nowhere. 
 
 
Hampton says her initial complaints to Quinn’s supervisor went nowhere so she sent a letter to Madigan in November. After that an investigation was opened by a Madigan lawyer and Quinn resigned this week. Hampton says that she lived with crippling anxiety over the ordeal and has since left working for the Democratic Party and opened her own consulting business.

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Durbin Uses Tale of Olympic Dreamer To Make Case for Dreamers

Senator Dick Durbin continues to take to the Senate floor in support of keeping young immigrants in the DACA program from a date with deportation. 
 
Now he's turning to the tale of an Olympic gold medalist to press the case for giving young people opportunities in this country. Her immigration status isn't in question, but Durbin believes Chloe Kim's experience as a member of a family that came to the U.S. in 1982 with minimal skills or knowledge of English is a good case study for keeping Dreamers here.
 
 
Durbin says time is of the essence in his push to protect Dreamers, because starting March, 5th, one thousand young undocumented immigrants protected by DACA will lose their work permits with potential for deportation.

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Land Use Committee Sends Wind Energy Ordinance to the Full Board; No Moratorium

Several text amendment revisions to the Wind Energy Ordinance were proposed, once again, by the opposition of the potential wind farm in DeWitt County at tonight's (Tuesday night's) Land Use Committee meeting.
 
Chris Shaffer went before the board to propose revisions such as proper notice to residents, citing the McLean County wind farm projects, noise level compliance, and property values.
 
 
Jim Griffin, the legal counsel for Tradewind Energy, spoke to these proposed amendments, indicating that the wind ordinances were updated last year and do not need to be amended.
 
 
The Land Use Committee voted to take the Wind Energy Ordinance to the full board for review.
 
A moratorium was proposed but was not passed.

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The Vault Organizers Looking To Build in 2017

Continuing the momentum from 2017 for a coming youth center is the goal for The Vault in Clinton.
 
Michelle Witzke's dream of having a safe place for youth to go is starting to pick up some steam in the community. She feels there was a shift in the community's mentality towards her dream last year and she's hoping to build on that going forward.
 
 
Between the student hours, fundraising and community manpower donated in 2017, Witzke says they made a lot of progress. She feels it is ready to go to start getting things together for a mid-summer opening.
 
 
Witzke says the plan is still to get the students into the center by June. She explains it would be a basic open and then in the fall they would start to add more things they hope the center will become.
 
 
Witzke thanks the community for their support all through 2017 and is excited for what is ahead in 2018. 
 
To learn more about becoming a part of The Vault, whether it's financially or as a part of their work on the center, contact Witzke by phone at 309-212-7332. You can also get more information on Facebook by searching The Vault Clinton or email thevaultclinton@gmail.com. 

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City To Move Forward With New Water Meter Reader System

A mandate from the Illinois EPA is the reason for an initiative that moved forward last week from the Clinton City Council.
 
City Administrator Tim Followell indicates homeowners in most parts of the city will have their water meters upgraded to get a better reading of the water flow through their homes. He says right now, the readings are not accurate to what is being produced and then charged for.
 
 
This has been a three-phase project. Followell explains water main leaks have been identified and fixed, commercial meters have been replaced and now it's the phase for homeowners to have their units replaced.
 
 
Followell indicates the perception in the community is as meters get older, they speed up, however, that is not the case. In fact, it is the opposite as he explains.
 
 
The $1.2-million project will get underway soon and Followell says residents can expect a letter from the company out of Washington, IL that will be doing the meter replacements. 
 
 
The new water meters will not only be more accurate but the readings will be more efficient. Followell says several other utility entities have adopted these types of meter reading methods in recent years.
 
 
Despite the continued inaccurate readings of water in the community, Followell points out the City has not raised rates in the last three years. Additionally, when the readings become more accurate and there's less waste, the revenues should increase and he says the additional revenue will be going to replenish the funds used for the project. That is projected to take ten to twelve years. 

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Alternative To Opioids Sought

Opioid addiction is a problem across Illinois and a proposed law is aimed at finding an alternative to taking those pain meds. 
 
A new bill would let people who are prescribed opioids for pain get a temporary medical marijuana card. Democrat State Senator Don Harmon says it’s a solid alternative. 
 
 
Right now, intractable pain has not been approved by the states Department of Public Health as a reason to prescribe medical pot. 

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Southern Illinois Lawmaker Reacts To SIU Tuition Increase

The Southern Illinois University of Carbondale Board of Trustees has approved a 2-percent tuition increase to $9,637.50 for full-time undergraduate students and $11,268 for graduate students. 
 
State Representative Terri Bryant says the tuition hike can be attributed to the budget issues in Illinois.
 
 
The tuition spike will only affect incoming students as previous classes, by law, must lock in their first year rates.

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Chicagoland Speedway Out of the Chase

The dates for the Chicagoland Speedway's Nascar races no longer intersect with the Chase for the Championship, but there are few tears being shed in Joliet. 
 
Speedway President Scott Paddock looks forward to a return to the summer spotlight with The NASCAR weekend kicking off June 28th and wrapping up with the Overton 400 on Sunday, July 1st for the Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series. 
 
 
Paddock says fans who buy tickets this week for the Overton 400 will have extra incentive to pull for one driver in this weekend's Daytona 500.
 
 
The racing weekend starts off with an ARCA Series race June 28th, with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Overton’s 225 on June 29th. On Saturday, June 30th, the NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers will take to the track for the Overton’s 300.

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Warner Library Open at Regular Time

The Warner Library will be open at its regular time of 9:00 am; however, they express caution to possible library patrons this morning as the roads are slick.

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Tradewind Energy Adding To Lease Agreements

While the debate around wind energy in DeWitt County continues to swirl, Tradewind Energy executives indicate they continue to add leases for a potential wind farm.
 
Tradewind Development Director for the Alta Farms Wind Project, Tom Sweirczewski, says they've added another leasing agent and they are adding leases east of 51 and to the McLean County line.
 
 
Despite the passionate group in opposition to the project, Sweirczewski says they are seeing support and excitement from what he calls, the silent majority.
 
 
With the pinballing of County codes back and forth between the County Board, the Land Use Committee and the Regional Planning Commission, Sweirczewski indicates that has created a little bit of a delay in their plans to bring a proposal forward for their wind farm project.
 
 
The process of bringing a wind farm to DeWitt County is playing out very similarly to other areas of the state and Sweirczewski says he has seen a lot of what is happening many times before.
 
 
The Land Use Committee will discuss a number of ordinances at their monthly meeting tomorrow night at the DeWitt County building. The full County Board has sent four ordinances back to the Regional Planning Commission, one for consideration and another three for review. 

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Clinton YMCA Offering Opportunity For Free Membership

Stop in to the Clinton YMCA this week for a free trial run of their fitness programs and give yourself a chance to be eligible for a free membership.
 
Executive Director Rennie Cluver says take part in their fitness classes, get a punch card signed by each instructor of their classes, and at the end of the week, you'll be eligible for a free membership. He hopes it gets people out to the Y to check out the things they have going on. 
 
 
In recent years, the YMCA has expanded their hours to accommodate everyone with varying schedules. Cluver also touts their 24/7 fitness center access as well.
 
 
Cluver adds the Y also has child care, so you can have your kids taken care of while you're in a class and notes they are working to set a date for a free week to offer to the community in the near future. 
 
Check out the things happening at the Clinton YMCA at clintoncommymca.org or visit them at 417 South Alexander Street in Clinton.

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DeWitt County Sheriff's Office Fully Staffed For First Time in a Long Time

After several years of staffing turnover and financial instability, the DeWitt County Sheriff's office is fully staffed in 2018.
 
DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner says he witnessed more staffing turnover in a 12 month period than he had in the last five years.
 
 
With the nuclear power plant staying for another decade, the Sheriff indicates that has allowed his office to be fully staffed for the first time in seven years.
 
 
With staffing levels full, the Sheriff also notes a change from a few years ago has saved taxpayers around a quarter-million dollars a year when they reduced staff in the jail and started a cooperative agreement with Piatt County.
 
 
The Sheriff indicates high dollar expenses like medical care and food are being shared with Piatt County, and despite frequent trips to Monticello, the office continues to save taxpayers money.

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Davis Talks Farm Bill Progress

Central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis hoping the upcoming Farm Bill will be good for agriculture. He serves on the U.S. House Ag Committee.
 
 
Davis believes discussion on the bill will start at the committee level in the next month.

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Ohio State Project Looks At Health Insurance Impact on Farmer Profitability

An Ohio State University researcher leading a report that looks at health insurance and its impact on a farmers’ profitability. Shoshanah Inwood’s work shows that half of all farmers in a national survey believe they will need to sell some or all of their farm assets to stay healthy. 
 
 
Inwood’s project is funded through the USDA. She was among the speakers at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in Nashville last month. 

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State Accepts Donation of 4,000 Doses of NARCAN

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS PRAISING A GENEROUS DONATION OF FOUR THOUSAND DOSES OF NARCAN.
 
THE APTAR GROUP AND ADAPT PHARMA ARE DONATING THE NARCAN NASAL SPRAY…TO HELP COMBAT THE AFFECTS OF OPIOID OVERDOSE. PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NIRAV SHAH SAYS THIS IS A GREAT TOOL IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC.
 
 
THE NARCAN NASAL SPRAY IS BEING DONATED BY THE APTAR GROUP AND ADAPT PHARMA SAYS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR EVELYN SANGUINETTI.
 
 
MOST OF THE DOSES WILL GO TO THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE AND DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS PAROLE OFFICERS TO USE IN THE FIELD. ANOTHER 600 WILL GO TO THE CHICAGO RECOVERY ALLIANCE. APTAR GROUP AND ADAPT PHARMA ARE DONATING ANOTHER ONE THOUSAND DOSES TO THE MCHENRY COUNTY SUBSTANCE ABUSE COALITION AS WELL.

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SIUE Hikes Tuition Fees For Fall

If you area student or a parent of a student at SIUE, get ready to open your checkbooks. The Board of Trustees has approved a tuition increase for the 2018-19 Academic Year. The annual tuition rate will now be $9,123 for new, full-time undergraduate students (15 hours per semester) entering fall 2018. Undergraduate students currently in a guaranteed tuition plan will see no increase in their annual tuition rate. University spokesman Doug McIlhagga (MAC-ill-HAY-guh) says fee hikes have become more of a regular occurrence in recent years.
 
 
In fall 2017, in-state tuition became available to all new and continuing domestic undergraduate students. Offering in-state tuition to out-of-state students helps the University attract students from across the country, according to McIlhagga.

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Lincoln Library Adding New Items

THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY IN SPRINGFIELD IS NOW HOME TO TWO NEW UNIQUE FINDS.
 
THE FIRST ITEM IS A LARGE OIL CANVAS PAINTED BY WILLIAM MORTON JACKSON RICE IN THE LATE 1800S SAYS STATE HISTORIAN SAM WHEELER.
 
 
THE SECOND DONATED ITEM IS AN ANGRY LETTER FROM LINCOLN TO ANDREW MCCORMACK...A FELLOW MEMBER OF A GROUP OF LEGISLATORS CALLED “THE LONG NINE.” LINCOLN CHASTISED MCCORMACK FOR PLANNING TO VOTE AGAINST THE GROUP IN THE LETTER, WHICH WAS LIKELY WRITTEN IN JANUARY OF 1839.
 

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HIV Cases Down Among Illinois African-Americans

THE RATE OF H-I-V INFECTIONS AMONG AFRICAN AMERICANS HAS BEEN CUT ALMOST IN HALF…BUT THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS WORKING TO FURTHER REDUCE THOSE NUMBERS.
 
ALTHOUGH NUMBERS HAVE FALLEN…BLACK PEOPLE ARE STILL DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED BY H-I-V. PUBLIC HEALTH’S EDUARDO ALVARADO SAYS THE FIGHT ISN’T OVER.
 
 
ALVARADO. HE SAYS THEY ARE TRYING TO INCREASE ACCESS TO MEDICATION CALLED “PREP” WHICH CAN HELP PREVENT INFECTION.
 
 
ALVARADO SAYS THEY ARE ALSO FOCUSING ON MAKING SURE THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE H-I-V ARE GETTING THE PROPER TREATMENT TO HELP PREVENT FURTHER SPREAD OF THE INFECTION.

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Weekly Weather Summary

February has seen some cold weather and the trend will continue. State Climatologist Jim Angel has the latest...
 

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Bill Would Let Opioid Addicts Apply For Temporary Medical Marijuana Card

NEW LEGISLATION PROVIDES AN ALTERNATIVE FOR PATIENTS WORRIED ABOUT OPIOID ADDICTION.
 
THE BILL LETS THOSE PRESCRIBED OPIOIDS FOR PAIN RELIEF…GET A TEMPORARY CARD TO USE MEDICAL MARIJUANA INSTEAD. IT’S SPONSORED BY SENATOR DON HARMON OF OAK PARK WHO SAYS IT’S PROVEN TO BE A GOOD ALTERNATIVE.
 
 
THE IDEA IS TO PREVENT PEOPLE FROM BECOMING ADDICTED AND POTENTIALLY OVERDOSING ON OPIOIDS. HE SAYS THEY WANT TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO BECOME ADDICTED AND POTENTIALLY OVERDOSE.
 
THE LEGISLATION HAS PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE AND NOW AWAITS A VOTE ON THE SENATE FLOOR.

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Warner Library Offering Free Showing of 'The Soldiers Plot' Documentary

Last week at the Clinton Rotary Club meeting, the Director of the CH Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum previewed an upcoming showing of a local Civil War documentary.
 
The showing will be at the library this weekend and Director of the Library, Bobbi Perryman says Exelon has stepped up to allow them to show the professionally produced documentary.
 
 
The showing is Saturday at the Warner Library at 1 pm.
 

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U of I Extension's Gardening Insights Later This Month

It's still not too late to get registered for one of the biggest gardening events of the year for the University of Illinois Extension Office.
 
Gardening Insights is February 24 at Richland Community College and U of I Extension Master Gardener, Candice Hart says this year's event has some great information for those in attendance, so you'll want to get registered as soon as possible.
 
 
After the keynote speaker, there will be around a dozen breakout sessions for gardeners to choose from. Miller says there will be topics for up and coming trends in gardening to the basics.
 
 
You can find the event on Facebook to get more information or visit, go.illinois.edu/dmp. You can register online and lunch is included with the $30. Organizers are asking those planning to attend to get registered early in the week, but they will take walk in registrations at the event at Richland Community College the day of. 

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Bement Schools Facing Challenges Similar To Most Schools

While it isn't the worst of times for Illinois schools, things certainly are not smooth sailing as a new budget plan gets set to be released by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner next week.
 
Not all challenges are financial and Bement Superintendent, Sheila Greenwood indicates one of the biggest challenge is it's simply difficult to be an educator in Illinois right now.
 
 
Additionally, the teacher shortage is hitting Illinois communities hard and Greenwood adds, the legislature's proposed changes to the pension system has drive people away from teaching in Illinois.
 
 
Financially, Greenwood notes Bement schools are not unlike other districts in that the state is making their general state aid payments but other payments are behind while touting late payments as payments for the current fiscal year. 

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Illinois Manufacturer's Association Opposes Boost in Smoking Age

Committees in the Illinois House and Senate have voted to move forward with discussion on a proposal to boost the smoking age from 18 to 21. 
 
Mark Denzler with the Illinois Manufacturer's Association calls the proposal a government overreach.
 
 
Denzler also has a more practical concern, young Illinoisans turning to other states to make their purchase....
 
 
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is also expressing opposition to the increased smoking age. 

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Farmland Values Being Discussed in Champaign This Week

An early indication of what farmland values look like moving into 2018. Dan Legner is the new president for the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. The group hosted its annual meeting this week in Champaign.
 
 
Legner works as a rural appraiser for Compeer Financial in Princeton in Bureau County. He says the highest farmland sale in Bureau County occurred a few years ago at $15,200 an acre. 

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DOC Needs More Money

A billion more dollars are needed to keep the state’s prison system up and running for the rest of the fiscal year. 
 
That’s the take from the Department of Corrections and it will require lawmakers to pass a supplemental spending bill to get it done. 
 
The trouble comes from “unappropriated liabilities” from last year when the state was operating without a budget. 
 
The unaccounted for spending has been haunting the state after years after operating without an official budget, the Governor is set to give his budget address on February 14th where he claims he will introduce a plan to pay down past bills, balance the budget and put forth a plan to roll back the income tax hike. 

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Duckworth Tweets Become Late Night Fodder

Both Illinois Senators have likely spots on President Trump's radar screen. 
 
Senator Tammy Duckworth has continued to refer to him as "Cadet Bone Spurs", referring to draft deferments the President received during the VIetnam War. The folks in late night television have taken notice. Duckworth recently responded to the President's complaints about lack of Democratic applause at his State of the Union Address and she once again used the unfavorable nickname for the President. 
 
The folks at CBS's Late Show with Stephen Colbert took that tweet and ran with it with a show opening segment this week.
 
 
A retro GI Joe commercial continued to press the theme.
 

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YMCA Wants To Be Your Next Step In Your Fitness Goals

If you've held to that New Year's resolution to be active and get in shape but need a next step, a local non-profit wants to be that next step for you.
 
Executive Director of the Clinton YMCA, Rennie Cluver, indicates the Y can be a great place for you to turn to not only for the great amount of fitness programs they have, but also it can be a great support network as you continue to meet the challenges of living a healthy lifestyle.
 
 
Cluver speaks highly of the support you'll get by attending their various fitness classes or taking time to work out at the Y. He explains if you're a part of a group, people will look forward to seeing you and that in and of itself, can be motivation.
 
 
Being a smaller YMCA, Cluver says they offer a lot to the community. From zumba to yoga to Les Mills workout programs, the Y has something for everyone and those workouts can be tailored to anyone of any fitness level.
 
 
To learn more about all the opportunities at the Clinton YMCA, just visit clintoncommymca.org. You can also stop in to the facility at 417 South Alexander Street and learn more about becoming a YMCA member.

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Heyworth Students Helping Lead Charge for Facilities Improvements

It's not everyday students get asked about what they want to see happen to the facilities they use everyday but that is precisely what is happening at a McLean County school district.
 
Lisa Taylor is the Superintendent of Heyworth Schools and indicates a small group of the student body helped her and the district identify areas they would like to see improved. Some of the areas were too big but there were a few that the students mentioned the district will take a look at.
 
 
Taylor says this has turned into a project that will now go to the community about what the community wants to see and how the district can accommodate everyone. 
 
 
The future of what could happen in Heyworth depends on what the community wants. Taylor says it could range from nothing to a fieldhouse for those that want to dream big.
 
 
The meetings are March 7 at Heyworth Junior/Senior High School. The location for the second meeting on April 11 will be determined later based on their attendance for the first meeting. Taylor anticipates a good crowd and hopes for a good crowd because the community is already showing a great amount of interest on the issue. 

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Cold Winter Leaving Miller Park Zoo Attendance Down This Winter

Cold temperatures in central Illinois have left a void in attendance for the winter months of a central Illinois zoo.
 
The Miller Park Zoo's Superintendent, Jay Tetzloff, says it's not hard to see why attendance has not been as strong this year. He says compared to last year, the weather has not been as cooperative.
 
 
Even before the cold temperatures roll in, Tetzloff indicates they start to prepare their animals for the winter. He says they have some animals that can tolerate the cold, and others than need to be brought inside.
 
 
The collection at the zoo changes frequently, in addition to the crowds being a little down and half the zoo inside and half outside, he feels it's always a good time to check out the zoo. 

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Solar Farms Getting Attention During 2018 Legislative Session

The 2018 legislative session underway in Springfield. What’s at stake for Illinois agriculture?
 
 
Illinois Farm Bureau’s Mark Gebhards says that IFB staff have been out and about discussing landowner rights with farmers.
 
 
He estimates 80-percent of Illinois counties have had some type of contact from companies representing the solar farm industry. 

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Shared Parenting Bill Discussed in Springfield

SUPPORTERS OF SHARED PARENTING LEGISLATION ARE ARGUING THEIR CASE AT THE STATE CAPITOL. 
 
THE BILL CHANGES STATE LAW TO PRESUME THAT 50-50 PARENTING BETWEEN DIVORCED MOMS AND DADS IS WHAT’S BEST FOR CHILDREN. ADVOCATES SAY MEN DESERVE TO BE IN THEIR KIDS’ LIVES AS MUCH AS WOMEN DO…BUT CARRIE BOYD WITH THE ILLINOIS COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SAYS EQUAL TIME MAY NOT ALWAYS BE BEST.
 
 
MARK LUDWIG WITH AMERICANS FOR EQUAL SHARED PARENTING SAYS IT’S A COMMON SENSE MEASURE.
 
 
BILL SUPPORTERS NOTE THAT A JUDGE CAN AWARD MORE VISITATION TIME THAN 50 PERCENT TO EITHER PARENT IF CONCERNS WARRANT THAT ACTION.

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Illinois Senate Approves Measure To Raise Smoking Age To 21

A STATE SENATE COMMITTEE IS ADVANCING A BILL RAISING THE AGE FOR BUYING CIGARETTES. 
 
THE TOBACCO 21 INITIATIVE MAKES IT ILLEGAL TO SELL TOBACCO PRODUCTS, INCLUDING E-CIGARETTES, TO ANYONE UNDER 21. IT’S SPONSORED BY SENATOR JULIE MORRISON OF DEERFIELD.
 
 
SENATOR SAM MCCANN OF JACKSONVILLE QUESTIONS IF IT GOES TO FAR.
 
 
CRITICS SAY THE BILL ONLY ADDRESSES THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS…NOT POSSESSION. IT NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE FOR A VOTE.

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Snow, Cold Temperatures Brings Annual Advisory From Law Enforcement

Long term forecasts are calling for cold temperatures as snow has fallen again in central Illinois this week. Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers advises motorists to make sure your vehicle's maintenance is up to date and keep those gas tanks full.
 
 
Calling CENCOM to find out road conditions should not be a call you make. Especially in the morning, as emergency services are very busy and calling to find out if you should travel to work is not something they will tell you.
 
 
Staying on the main roads is the best idea as they will be the most treated. Chief Lowers also recommends having a winter safety kit in your vehicle in the event you are stranded for some time.
 
 
Before you leave for home and your vehicle has been outside, clean off your windshield and lights. In the event you get stuck, stay in your vehicle and activate your hazard lights. When you encounter a snow plow, give them plenty of room and Chief Lowers encourages motorists not to pass them. 

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Congressman Davis Calling on Senate To Debate Congress' 12 Appropriations

US Congressman Rodney Davis is calling on the Senate to debate and pass the 12 appropriation bills sent by Congress that would put a budget in place and avoid another government shutdown.
 
The deadline is Thursday but Davis says Democrats are wanting immigration to be a part of the discussion.
 
 
Congressman Davis says the next agreement is likely to be another short term bill but he is calling on the Senate to pass the appropriations Congress passed and sent them.
 
 
If Democrats filibuster the bill, Congressman Davis says it would be the hold up a full year of funding for the American people. 

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Senate President Not Ready To Hear From Pritzker

Democrat candidate for Governor JB Pritzker remains in damage control over leaked FBI tapes made when then Governor Rod Blagojevich was under surveillance. 
 
Pritzker is caught discussing the Senate seat appointment Blagojevich was going to make. 
 
He’s heard promoting Secretary of State Jesse White for seat over other African American candidates, including then Senate President Emil Jones. He suggests skipping over Jones because he’s too crass. 
 
Pritzker says he tried to call Jones to apologize about the comment but Jones wasn’t picking up the phone.
 
 
Pritzker held a press conference on Tuesday to address the comments. Secretary of State Jesse White was in attendance and says Pritzker’s apology to him about the comments were enough. 

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Rauner Talks Fading Tax Rate

On February 14th, Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his Budget Address. While it probably won't be known as the St. Valentine's Day Tax Massacre, Rauner is sharing early details of his plans to phase out the current tax rate.
 
 
Rauner continues to maintain a lower tax rate equates to more economic activity.
 

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Pritzker Under Fire After Tribune Releases Wiretap Tape

In recent weeks, Governor Bruce Rauner's re-election campaign has sought to make political hay over wiretapped conversations from 2008 between Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker and then Governor Rod Blagojevich. 
 
The Chicago Tribune has released additional portions of the conversation, mostly focusing on race. Pritzker recommends Secretary of State Jesse White as a possible choice for the U.S. Senate seat that former President Obama was vacating at the time.
 
 
Pritzker went on to tout the benefits of White's potential departure from the Secretary of State's office.
 
 
Pritzker apologized during a press conference where he was joined by Secretary White. 
He told reporters he was not "his best self". He also apologized to former Senate President Emil Jones in a phone call because he told Blagojevich Jones would be a poor choice for U.S. Senate because "he's more crass". 
 
Pritzker's Democratic rival Chris Kennedy labeled Pritzker’s comments “disqualifying.” State Sen. Daniel Biss said the conversation represents “everything that’s wrong with the connection between money and power.”

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Broker Says Farmland Still A Good Investment

Farmland values aren’t what they were during the 2003 to 2013 run-up, but farmland still remains a solid investment. 
 
So says Randy Dickhut, who serves as senior vice president with Omaha, Nebraska based Farmers National Company. 
 
 
Dickhut says recently adopted tax reforms could help with the farmland market, but uncertainty over trade could be a detriment. 

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Young Farmers Hear From Loaded Panel At Farm Credit Illinois Event

A stellar group of speakers addressed young Illinois farmers at an event Tuesday in Springfield hosted by Farm Credit Services of Illinois.
 
Aimee Poskin is the marketplace and development manager at Farm Credit and indicates the continuing education gives young people new to farming the tools to carry the beacon of success in agriculture.
 
 
Paul Stoddard from the University of Illinois talked big picture in agriculture and how to make that specific to an individual farmer.
 
 
The event in Springfield shifts to Effingham Wednesday. 

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Facilities, Finances, Services Among Areas Warner Hospital and Health Services To Look in Strategic Planning Process

With the first of the year here, the Warner Hospital and Health Services Board will soon begin the process of strategic planning.
 
Areas like finances and facilities and services are among the things that will be analyzed and planned for in the future and CEO Paul Skowron says the Board will look closely at all those things to project a three to five year roadmap for the city owned entity.
 
 
Planning for a new facility is not necessarily a direction the Board will plan for in the upcoming planning process. Rather, as Skowron points out, for now the plan has to include proving revenues and profits can be stable enough to warrant such a decision, while maintaining the current facilties.
 
 
Maintaining community involvement will be a focus of long term planning, in addition, according to Skowron, of adding to their technology.
 
 
Traditionally, strategic planning lays out a path for two, five and ten years. Skowron notes, the Board plans to lay down goals for the two and five year layouts. 

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Sen. Rose Outlines Plans To Streamline Illinois Education System, Keep Students in State

ONE MATTER LAWMAKERS WILL BE FOCUSING ON THIS YEAR IS HOW TO IMPROVE THE STATE’S HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM.
 
A BIPARTISAN WORKING GROUP HAS BEEN DISCUSSING HOW TO GET MORE ILLINOIS STUDENTS TO CHOOSE AN IN-STATE SCHOOL FOR COLLEGE. SENATOR CHAPIN ROSE OF CHAMPAIGN SAYS MIGRATION TO OUT OF STATE SCHOOLS IS INCREASING.
 
 
BILLS HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE CREATING A UNIFORM ONLINE ADMISSION PROCESS FOR ALL STATE SCHOOLS. THE LEGISLATION ALSO MAKES SURE ALL ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WITH A “B” AVERAGE ARE ADMITTED TO A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY.
 
 
A BIPARTISAN WORKING GROUP HAS BEEN MEETING AND TALKING WITH UNIVERSITIES ABOUT HOW TO KEEP MORE STUDENTS IN ILLINOIS AND IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION.

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Congressman Davis Reacts To Recently Released Memo

The controversial memo released by Republicans, which alleges surveillance abuse by the FBI, is concerning according to Congressman Rodney Davis.
 
He says the findings are concerning because the FBI over-stepped their bounds regarding the FISA act. 
 
 
According to Davis, he points to concerns of Bureau employees who have since been fired or left their jobs. He feels this is an abuse of a law that was meant to make sure Americans were not working with terrorists.
 
 
A memo is being constructed by Democrats and Davis wants to see that one too. He outlines his advocacy for transparency in recent years.
 
 
Before calling for a special investigation or prosecutor in this case, Davis wants to see how things play out and see what the American people say. 
 
He feels while there are a few 'bad actors', there is overwhelmingly a majority of good people in the FBI.

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Ives Not Backing Down From Attack Ad

If you haven’t seen the recent attack on Governor Bruce Rauner the Republican candidate behind it even admits it’s edgy.
 
 
Jeanne Ives says at the Chicago City Club that the ad has generated hysteria from the expected quarters but she says there is nothing to apologize for in the depiction of anyone characterized in the commercial.
 
 
The head of the Republican Party in Illinois has even called for the ad to be taken down and for Ives to apologize to the Illinoisans who were negatively portrayed.

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Dicamba Training Continuing For Farmers

The Illinois Chemical and Fertilizer Association continues to promote training and education sessions for soybean farmers planning to use crop protection products containing dicamba in 2018. 
 
Over 100 dates are planned says the association’s Jean Payne.
 
 
The dicamba training website is “ifca.com/IllinoisDicambaTraining”. 

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Sheriff's Office Turning To Trucks Over Traditional Police Patrol Vehicles

When you see the DeWitt County Sheriff's patrol officers out, you've probably noticed they are more often than not, in either SUVs or trucks.
 
That's because the SUV and truck model patrol vehicles are becoming more reliable and more user friendly for law enforcement. DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner indicates they are also about the cost and equally as cost-effective.
 
 
The Sheriff is pleased with the way the trial of the truck has gone, so much so, they are almost going to exclusively go to the truck because of it's versatility.
 
 
The vehicles are outfitted with lots of features and while they are great resources, the Sheriff stresses to his deputies the importance of continuing to make contact with the public.
 
 
The Sheriff hopes to have the trucks mid-year and they will look very similar to the vehicles already out and on patrol. 

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Bement Celebrating 200th Birthday of Francis Bryant

This month is the 200th birthday of Francis Bryant, a well known figure in Piatt County during the late 1800s.
 
The Francis Bryant Cottage in Bement will be the site for several celebrations over the year and Ben Pollard indicates Bryant's story has connections to the Democratic Party of the 1850s and 1860s and Stephen Douglas.
 
 
Bryant also played a pretty instrumental role in the great Lincoln/Douglas debates during that Senate race. Pollard explains it was Bryant that was able to get the two together, in Bryant Cottage, and agree to doing a series of debates around the state.
 
 
The Cottage was recently named to the National Register of Historic Places in Illinois. Pollard says they will be doing a lot of events as the year goes along to celebrate the 200th birthday of Francis Bryant. To get more information find them on Facebook by searching Bryant Cottage Historic Site.

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Social Security Reminds Beneficiaries To Get All The Right Forms Ready For Tax Time

Getting all the right Social Security paperwork together for tax time is very important.
 
Jack Myers with Social Security says there's a number of forms you're going to want to make sure you have when filling out your tax returns. Myers says you should already have those forms, if not, they are likely on their way.
 
 
If you did not get those forms or if you've misplaced them, Myers indicates you do have options to retrieve those. You can go online to socialsecurity.gov or visit an office near you.
 
 
If you're new to filing taxes and receiving Social Security benefits, Myers says there might be some surprises and ways to get those issues fixed.
 
 
To get any questions answered, many are in the 'Frequently Asked Questions' area of the socialsecurity.gov website, or you can find an office near you and get those questions answered.
 
Myers indicates their call volumes and appointments do increase in the first part of the month, but indicates they will have time to get you answers to your questions. 

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Rural Schools Getting AED Machines

Rural schools the focus of an Illinois Heart and Lung Foundation effort to update and maintain automatic external defibrillators (AED). 
 
The organization’s Kathi Franklin is bringing attention to the subject this month during Heart Health Month.
 
 
Franklin says the effort has started in McLean County with the hopes of expanding the initiative statewide. 
 

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Ives Ad Causes Stir

GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives new internet and social media ad is facing criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. 
 
Patterned after Governor Rauner's ad, where neighboring governors thank House Speaker Mike Madigan, crediting him with creating bad economic conditions for Illinois that send jobs to their states, Ives has actors representing various issues that go against most social conservative values thanking Bruce Rauner, including a man in drag, who says Rauner made it possible for him to use the girl's restroom and a happy go lucky girl who thanks Governor Rauner for having Illinois families pay for her abortion. 
 
Rauner gave the ad less than rave reviews.
 
 
GOP Attorney General candidate Ereka Harold was critical of the ad, saying “This ad denigrates, mocks and marginalizes groups of Illinoisans and cannot represent our Republican Party. I call on the Ives campaign to immediately take it off the air. The Republican Party must be about fighting for the ideals and values that have made our country the envy of the world and promoting the dignity and value of every Illinoisan.”

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Governor Rauner Wants To Lower Tax Rate

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER WILL BE GIVING HIS BUDGET ADDRESS IN TWO WEEKS…AND SAYS IT WILL INCLUDE PLANS TO EASE OFF LAST YEAR’S INCOME TAX INCREASE.
 
LAYING OUT A FRAMEWORK FOR A NEW SPENDING PLAN FOR THE NEW FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS IN JULY. HE SAYS HE HOPES LAWMAKERS ARE RECEPTIVE TO HIS IDEAS.
 
 
THE CURRENT INCOME TAX RATE IS FOUR POINT NINE FIVE PERCENT. RAUNER SAYS HE’D LIKE TO EVENTUALLY GET IT DOWN TO THREE PERCENT.  THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE WANTS TO PUT MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET.
 
 
THE GOVERNOR SAYS HIS BUDGET PROPOSAL WILL ALSO INCLUDE REFORMS AND SOME CUTS.
 
THE GOVERNOR WILL OUTLINE HIS BUDGET PROPOSAL ON FEBRUARY 14TH.

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Springfield Mayor looking into merits of annexing State Fairgrounds

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder is speaking with Illinois lawmakers about the potential for the Capital City to expand its boundaries to include the Illinois State Fairgrounds. It's an arrangement that he says seems to work well for Illinois' other "state fair"....
 
 
Langfelder believes there's the potential for annexation to help growing repair needs with aging buildings on the fairgrounds, in particular the shuttered Coliseum, which has been empty since late 2016 because of structural concerns....
 
 
Langfelder says Springfield area hotels informed him that canceled horse shows have reduced business by up to 25 percent. 
 

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Organic Trade Association Suing USDA Over Livestock Standards

The Organic Trade Association is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the USDA decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock Standards proposed and endorsed by most in the organic industry. Nate Lewis, farm policy director for the Organic Trade Association, says the USDA broke the rules when withdrawing the standards without public comment…
 
 
Lewis says the decision to withdraw the standards is disappointing because the organic industry wants and needs those standards in place…
 
 
The livestock standards would prevent producers from finding shortcuts around animal care standards and put all organic producers on a level playing field. Lewis also says the standards are important to organic consumers…
 
 
He says consumer confidence in the organic label is high and they’re trying to maintain the integrity of the label with the lawsuit. The proposed organic livestock standards were produced after ten years of work. He says OTA simply wants that effort rewarded.

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January Cold & Dry in Illinois

ILLINOIS WEATHER WAS COLD AND DRY LAST MONTH.
 
THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE FOR JANUARY WAS 24 POINT ONE DEGREES. THAT’S MORE THAN TWO DEGREES BELOW NORMAL. LAST MONTH WAS ALSO DRIER THAN USUAL SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST JIM ANGEL.
 
 
ANGEL SAYS THE LARGEST SNOWFALL TOTAL FOR JANUARY IN LAKE VILLA AND IN GURNEE. 
 
 
STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRECIPITATION FOR JANUARY, MEASURING THE RAIN AND WATER CONTENT OF SNOW, CAME IN AT ONLY ONE POINT THREE ONE INCHES.  
 
MORE THAN HALF THE STATE IS EXPERIENCING ABNORMALLY DRY OR DROUGHT CONDITIONS.

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House Ag Committee Holding Farm Economy Hearing

The House Agriculture Committee will again hold a hearing on the ag economy Tuesday, February 6th, as the committee continues to take steps for the next farm bill. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, a Texas Republican, says the economic situation now, compared to the process of writing the 2014 farm bill is starkly different…
 
 
The committee has compiled a draft of the farm bill and is awaiting a cost analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Conaway’s office says the draft will be released when all titles of the bill have a score, or price tag, associated with them.
 
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will speak with lawmakers during the hearing. Perdue has traveled the nation since becoming Secretary, hearing from farmers and ranchers…
 
 
The current farm bill, signed into law in February of 2014, expires later this year.

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AFBF Praises Withdrawal of WOTUS

The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to delay for two-years implementation of the controversial ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule, while it withdraws and replaces the rule, drew quick praise from the American Farm Bureau Federation.
 
AFBF’s Don Parrish, says the two-year delay buys “regulatory certainty,” after the U.S. Supreme Court moved to clarify lower court jurisdiction over WOTUS…
 
 
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told a U.S. Senate panel, the agency will finalize a rule to rescind WOTUS in late March or early April, and one to replace WOTUS, before the end of the year. President Trump signed an executive order last February, directing the ‘repeal-and-replace’ process.
 
But, Farm Bureau’s Parrish explains EPA’s two-year WOTUS delay avoids a regulatory quagmire for producers, once a federal appeals court stay ends later this month…
 
 
Parrish commends EPA for trying to keep regulatory “consistency,” while a partial stay remains in place…
 
 
WOTUS greatly expanded EPA’s jurisdiction and waterbodies subject to the Clean Water Act--ditches, potholes, even farm ponds could have been classified as navigable waters, simply for having a connection to streams, rivers and other navigable waters, with failure to secure land-use permits, resulting in huge fines.

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State Ag Officials Want Bilateral Trade Talks to Commence

State agriculture officials are questioning the Trump Administration on the promise of creating new bilateral trade deals. During a meeting in Washington, D.C. this week, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture members commented on the lack of new bilateral agreements, as promised by the administration a year ago. Trump promised bilateral agreements as he withdrew the U.S. from the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership. Montana Agriculture Department Director Ben Thomas says: “We haven’t really seen any substance behind that,” according to Politico. The Democrat also mentioned Trump’s comments regarding rejoining the TPP, if the deal “got substantially better.” Thomas encouraged the organization to start thinking about what those terms may be. TPP was recently revived by the 11 other countries involved in the pact that are planning to sign an amended version in March.

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DeWitt County Soil and Water Conservation District Meeting Recap

Around 150 people turned out Thursday morning for the annual DeWitt County Soil and Water Conservation District meeting at the Abigail in Clinton.
 
A number of speakers addressed the crowd on local and national issues, highlighted by Dr. Ford Baldwin from Arkansas. 
 
Local NRCS soil conservationist John Bell, updated farmers on the local chapter and he feels all the local chapters are doing a great job.
 
 
Bell's comments about adding staff were expanded on by President of the SWCD, Myron Kirby, who indicates they received a grant to add another person to their office.
 
 
Looking to 2018, Bell says the DCSW Conservation District could have 25 contracts and over $1-million in cost-share funds. He points out those are what the district is measured on and why they exist. 
 
 
Bell points ou the Clinton Lake Watershed funds run out this year for conservation projects. He indicates there are still sign up dates, so contact the Soil Water Conservation District to get more details on that. 
 
Contact them at 217-935-6504 or stop in to their office at the NRCS office in DeWitt County. 
 
Also during the meeting Thursday, Vice-Chairman Randy Molitoris, Secretary and Treasurer Randy Dean, Directors Gordon Douglas and Dick Howell were all re-elected to two year terms on the Board of Directors. 

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Warner Hospital and Health Services Administration Watching Medicaid Legislation in Springfield

It will be a crucial re-write of legislation for Illinois hospitals and healtchare providers and administrators have been closely watching and listening to Springfield this week. 
 
That is true for Warner Hospital and Health Services administration and CEO Paul Skowron indicates lawmakers are re-writing how Medicaid dollars are distributed.
 
 
Skowron indicates his concerns through this process are being unified through their network but also being satisfied with the final outcome of the legislation. He notes Warner Hospital and Health Services will likely not get a cut in their funding.
 
 
Lawmakers face a deadline to get the legislation re-written or Illinois hospitals could lose $2.5-$3 billion dollars in federal funding. 

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USDA Talks Super Bowl Food Safety

The tips for food preparation have not changed but food experts are still reminding the public of the basics as you get set for parties and gatherings for Sunday's Super Bowl.
 
1.3 billion chicken wings will be ate during this weekends big game and USDA officials are reminding everyone to properly prepare those wings and anything else you may be cooking. Archie Magoulas with the USDA says the four steps are very applicable this weekend, clean, separate, cook and chill.
 
 
Magoulas reminds all chefs and grill masters of the regulations regarding cooked temperatures for food.
 
 
The Super Bowl is a long game, and Magoulas reminds party hosts to keep food that is sitting out cold or warm. 
 
 
Magoulas encourages those preparing food and meals to check a trio of USDA resources. They're website, foodsafety.gov is available 24/7 with plenty of information and resources. 
 
You can also contact their hotline at 1-888-674-654 or visit askkaren.gov for a live chat feature, and those are available 9 am to 5 pm central time. 

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Warner Hospital CEO: Flu Bad Locally, Not As Bad As Other Areas

If you get the flu and pay a visit to the Warner Hospital and Health Services Family Medicine Walk In Clinic, chances are you're not going to have to wait nearly as long to see a doctor as you would in other parts of central Illinois.
 
CEO Paul Skowron indicates the flu has been pretty rough in Clinton and DeWitt County but not nearly as bad as other parts of the state and even the country, where schools are canceling because of the outbreak.
 
 
Skowron indicates the hospital anticipated the flu season to be busy, however, it has not been nearly as bad locally. He adds, the patient experience locally has been night and day different compared to other healthcare providers.
 
 
Skowron indicates it is still not too late to get your flu shot, in fact, that is one of the things you can get done at their Family Medicine Walk In Clinic.
 
Cut 3: flulocal3 :40 CUE: flu like symptoms
 
The walk in clinic is open Monday through Wednesday 8 am to 6:30 pm, Thursday and Friday 8 am to 4 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 12:30 pm. 

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Hometown Tour: Monticello

The WHOW Hometown Tour's final stop for 2018 was Monticello Wednesday morning, highlighting the Piatt County seat.
 
Mayor of Monticello, Larry Stoner says the community is in the midst of a huge project that has been years in the making, a new water treatment facility.
 
 
Superintendent of Monticello Schools, Dr. Vic Zimmerman says the district's voters face a big decision in another month. They'll be decided on a multi-million dollar renovation of the school's facilities, also a project that has been years in the making.
 
 
Development Director for Monticello, Callie Jo McFarland, touted the community's 'Business Boot Camp' program, something that has been a huge boost to their downtown community.
 
 
Mayor Stoner also outlined the parks of Monticello, highlighted the wildly popular Allerton Park just outside Monticello.
 
 
The Monticello Railway Museum always draws big crowds, especially around the holidays. 

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Governor Outlines Restoring Illinois' Economic Prosperity in State of the State

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS OUTLINING PLANS TO RESTORE ILLINOIS’ ECONOMIC PROSPERITY IN HIS ANNUAL STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS. 
 
IN HIS SPEECH…GOVERNOR RAUNER REITERATED HIS CALL FOR PROPERTY TAX RELIEF, TERM LIMITS AND A ROLL BACK OF LAST YEAR’S INCOME TAX INCREASE.
 
 
HE ALSO SAYS THE STATE NEEDS FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE AND LESS RED-TAPE TO HELP ILLINOIS BECOME A POWERHOUSE JOB CREATOR.
 
 
GOVERNOR RAUNER ALSO SAYS HE’S SIGNING AN EXECUTIVE ORDER TO IMPROVE THE PROCESS FOR REPORTING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT AND WANTS TO REDUCE OPIOID OVERDOSE DEATHS BY ONE THIRD IN THE COMING YEARS.

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Governor Rauner Discusses Legionnaire's Disease During SOTS

Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration has been dogged by questions on how quickly they reacted to a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak at a Quincy Veteran’s Home that killed a dozen people in 2015. 
 
The outbreak has lingered and killed another person last year. During his state of the state address Rauner says they are doing all they can to limit more people from getting sick.
 
 
Rauner didn’t address how or when the Veteran’s Home could be repaired or if there was money ready to go for the project.

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Senate Minority Leader Pleased With Governor's State of the State

The Senate Minority leader is giving the Governor a thumbs up for his Wednesday State of the State.
 
Republican Senator Dan Brady was pleased with the Governor's address to the General Assembly Wednesday, which highlighted Illinois' successes and failures in the past year.
 
 
The Governor will deliver his budget address in February and Brady looks forward to the Governor providing a balanced budget to lawmakers.

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Top Lottery Official Resigns After Twitter Controversy

The chairman of the Illinois Lottery Control Board has resigned after a Twitter controversy. 
Blair Garber of Evanston criticized Senator Dick Durbin for pressing the issue of President Trump reportedly using an expletive to describe African nations and Haiti. 
 
Garber responded to a Tweet from country music legend Charlie Daniels calling Durbin childish for his handling of the incident. 
 
Garber tweeted to Daniels that Durbin is from East St. Louis and he went on to describe the Metro-East city by the same expletive Trump reportedly used, calling East St. Louis "The makeshift toilet (S-Hole) of the Universe, just do a Google search". 

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Illinois Lawmakers Dress in Black for Me Too Movement

Many lawmakers took the opportunity today at the state of the state address to make a statement about sexual harassment in the workplace. 
 
Dressing in black for the occasion some women in the General Assembly say they did it to support the “me too” and “times up movement”. 
 
Republican Representative Sarah Jimenez says making statements is one thing – but now people need to move into action. 
 
 
Democrats in Washington, D.C. did the same Tuesday night for the President's State of the Union address. 

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