Local News

Central Illinois Prepping For Winter Storm

Warnings and advisories have been issued across central Illinois in advance of a potentially dangerous winter storm.

 

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the northern 1/2 of Illinois for tonight (FRI) into Saturday evening. A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for a corridor of central Illinois between I-72 and I-70 tonight through Saturday evening.

 

Snow will overspread the warning area this evening and continue through Saturday evening. The Winter Weather Advisory area will see a mix of freezing rain and snow in a narrow corridor of central Illinois tonight, changing to all snow on Saturday.  Current expectations are for most of the area north of a line from Taylorville to Danville to receive 4 to 6 inches of new snowfall. In addition, north winds will increase to around 20 mph with gusts to 35 mph by midday Saturday, leading to blowing and drifting of the snow as well as reduced visibilities. 

 

The result will be extremely hazardous travel conditions tonight through Saturday night. Motorists are urged to take precautions for the severe winter weather conditions.

 

The storm will be followed by a blast of cold Arctic air causing high temperatures Sunday to struggle into double digits.

 

Remember for closings and cancellations anytime, visit DeWittDailyNews.com.

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National Weather Service Says Wind Is Going To Be Big Problem Saturday

Don't get caught up in the snowfall amounts, rather be prepared for terrible conditions outside thanks to high-intensity winds that are coming.

 

That is the message from the National Weather Service in Lincoln as central Illinois braces for the second winter storm in as many weeks. Chris Miller says the wind that is going to be joining this snow storm is going to make travel almost impossible Saturday.

 

 

Miller says the latest projects are 4-6 inches with a narrow area that could see 8-10 inches that appears to be headed south of DeWitt County. He warns, look out for drifting snow on east-west roads.

 

 

With events likely to be canceled throughout the weekend, keep it to Regional Radio News for the latest in closings and cancellations. 

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D.A.R.E Program Working for Clinton Police

A portable meth lab was discovered by children in a local Clinton park last week. While this is not an ideal scenario, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says the kids were able to identify what is was and contact the proper authority because of information gained through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program, or D.A.R.E.

 

 

Chief Lowers says the D.A.R.E Program isn't the same as it was when former Clinton Police Chief Mike Reidy started teaching it in Clinton schools in the early 90's. He says they spend extra time specifically on all-things methamphetamine because of its prevalence in communities like Clinton.

 

 

Chief Lowers will begin teaching the annual 12-week Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program to Clinton Elementary students next Tuesday.

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Unemployment Up Slightly in December

THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE SLIGHTLY LAST MONTH. 

 

THE ILLINOIS JOBLESS RATE CAME IN AT FOUR POINT THREE PERCENT IN DECEMBER…UP FROM FOUR POINT TWO IN NOVEMBER SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH (goff).

 

 

SECTORS WITH THE MOST JOB GROWTH IN DECEMBER INCLUDE GOVERNMENT, LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY AND TRADE, TRANSPORTATION AND UTILITIES. AREAS WITH DECLINES WERE INFORMATION, CONSTRUCTION AND FINANCIAL ACTIVITIES.

 

 

THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR DECEMBER CAME IN AT THREE POINT NINE PERCENT.

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Pritzker Signs Gun Dealer Bill

Governor JB Pritzker signs a new law that requires gun dealers to be certified by the Illinois State Police. Pritzker says that gun stores will have to have surveillance and be open for inspection by law enforcement. The bill signed Thursday looks like it won’t be the only gun control measure up for a vote this year.

 

 

The main push of the bill is to prevent straw purchases – when a person buys a gun for someone who otherwise can’t get one The Illinois State Rifle Association says the federal government already licenses gun dealers and nothing in the bill is going to enhance public safety in Illinois.

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Hours of Service Bill Reintroduced in House

A bill proposed in the last session of Congress has surfaced once again in this session, specifically in the House of Representatives. 

 

The bill is designed to make Electronic Logging Devices and hours of service regulations friendlier to those who transport livestock. The legislation is called the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act and was introduced by Florida Republican Ted Yoho (YO-ho). 

 

Yoho says the safe transportation of livestock is an essential part of feeding America. The hours of service regulations are rigid and costly for cattle haulers. Yoho, a Florida veterinarian, says the regulations also place the wellbeing and welfare of cattle, hogs, fish, and other livestock at risk. 

 

The extended stops called for by these regulations will be dangerous for livestock in both the summer and winter months. Last year, Yoho’s bill got the support of 64 cosponsors but didn’t even make it out of committee.

 

Yoho says - “The bill will make the right changes to the current rules so we can protect the safety of not only livestock but that of the haulers themselves while they are traveling to their destination.” 
 
The current version of the bill has 27 cosponsors, with Collin Peterson of Minnesota as the only Democrat currently signed on to the legislation. 

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Farm Bureau Adopts 2019 Policies at Convention

The farmer and rancher delegates at the 100th annual convention set the organization’s policy priorities for the upcoming year. 

 

Topics included farm bill implementation, cell-cultured food products, trade, and much more. 

AFBF President Zippy Duvall says - “As our organization has done for the last 100 years, grassroots delegates from across the nation came together to express a unified voice on issues vital to the success of our farms, ranches, and rural communities.”

 

Among the many topics delegates covered, they are urging the administration and Congress to work together to end the government shutdown as soon as possible because farmers are delayed in securing loans and crop insurance. 

 

The impasse has also delayed implementation of the new farm bill. Delegates also adopted a comprehensive policy to support innovation in cell-based food products while ensuring a level playing field for traditional protein. 

 

They affirm that USDA is best able to be the primary regulator of the new industry. 

 

Delegates supported improving broadband coverage maps through better data and third-party provider verification. They also support increased funding for programs and facilities for the treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues. 

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Emergency Officials Again Talking Storm Safety

READY FOR ROUND TWO? THE ILLINOIS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY HAS SOME TIPS TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE AND WARM DURING THIS WEEKEND’S WINTER STORM.

 

NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO FILL IN ANY GAPS IN PREPAREDNESS PLANS THAT YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED DURING THE RECENT BLAST OF SNOW SAYS I-EMA SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK.

 

 

EMERGENCY KITS INCLUDE WATER, BLANKETS, A FLASHLIGHT, BATTERIES, JUMPER CABLES AND FIRST AID SUPPLIES. 

 

 

CLARK SAYS YOU SHOULD HAVE A SIMILAR KIT AT HOME THAT INCLUDES WATER, FOOD AND FLASHLIGHTS. THE WEBSITE: READY DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV HAS MORE PREPAREDNESS IDEAS AND A LIST OF WARMING CENTERS ACROSS THE STATE.

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Weather Expert: Cold & Snowy Pattern Expected To Continue

As the central U.S. gets ready for the second blast of winter in as many weeks, one weather expert believes this is likely a trend for the foreseeable future.   Jared White has more....

 

 

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USDA Will Temporarily Reopen Some Offices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will be reopening some Farm Service Agency offices around the country to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue made the announcement and says they won’t be able to reopen all offices…

 

 

Offices will temporarily reopen on Thursday, January 17th and Friday, January 18th. The offices will be closed on Monday, January 21st for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and then reopen one more time on Tuesday, January 22nd. Perdue says, while the offices are open, they won’t be able to offer their usual full range of services…

 

 

Secretary Perdue talks about some of the services the FSA will be able to
offer…

 

 

For a complete rundown of services available during the three-day window, check out www.usda.gov.

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Lincoln Fire Chief To Retire

The Fire Chief in Lincoln is set to retire later this year. 

 

Chief Mark Miller tells Regional Radio News he's started to work with the Mayor to begin to find his replacement. Miller has been the Chief since 2010.

 

 

Chief Miller says he has been asked to help find his successor and is hopeful the hire could come from within.

 

 

Miller has been instrumental in helping the Lincoln Fire Department purchase a new fire engine that will be delivered in February. The new Chief will likely be instrumental in helping find a new home or expansion of their current home for the Lincoln Fire Department. 

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DeWitt County Regional Planning Commission Rejects Tradewind Project

The DeWitt County Regional Planning Commission Tuesday night voted 3-1 against recommending a proposed wind farm in DeWitt County.

 

Tradewind Energy outlined their plans for the proposed $300-million project that would put an estimated 67 turbines across 12-thousand acres in the northwest corner of DeWitt County. The turbines would not exceed 591 feet. 

 

The Zoning Board of appeals next month will begin taking public input next month on the proposal from Tradewind. Those hearings are scheduled for February 5 beginning at 5 pm at Clinton High School with other dates to include February 7-8 and February 19-22. Hearings last from 5 pm to 10 pm, all at Clinton High School.

 

After the ZBA hears all testimony, they will send a recommendation to the County Board. 

 

This story will be updated. 

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State Departments of Agriculture Call for an End to Shutdown

The partial government shutdown is having a profound and cascading impact on American farmers and ranchers. Because of this, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is calling on Congress and the Administration to rapidly get to a settlement and end the shutdown as soon as possible. 

 

The organization says in a news release that, “We know that some USDA employees are working on a limited number of programs, but we also know that all hands on deck are required to successfully direct every program American farmers, ranchers, and communities depend on.” 

 

The organization says that includes successful implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill. Jeff Witte is the Secretary of Agriculture in New Mexico and the President of NASDA. He says “The impacts of this shutdown are real. Not only are farmers and ranchers unable to use a host of existing USDA programs they depend on, they also can’t use the programs now available in the recently enacted farm bill.”

 

Witte says if farmers can’t access those programs, the financial stress and challenges farmers are facing will only get worse. Many farmers depend on the Farm Service Agency for loans and need the shutdown solved as soon as possible.

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Five Fire Departments Respond To Maroa House Fire

Around 4:40 pm Wednesday afternoon, Maroa Fire officials were called to a house fire at North Wood Street in Maroa.

 

Fire officials indicate upon arrival, they found smoke coming from the home. Upon making entry, it was discovered the home was vacant and firefighters extinguished the fire while venting through the roof. 

 

Crews were on scene for roughly two hours. Departments from Hickory Point, Argenta, Oreana, Clinton and Kenney were on scene for assistance. Latham Fire Department was on scene at the Maroa Department during the event. 

 

No injuries were reported. 

 

A cause was not was determined. The State Fire Marshall's office will investigate. 

 

Picture courtesy of Maroa Fire Department Facebook page. 

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Farmland Sales Starting to Rise

The Farmers National Company says there are some questions abounding in the current farmland market. 

 

There is legitimate worry that the negative financial situation will finally drive land prices lower. Farm and ranch lands make up 82 percent of the total assets owned by American agriculture. 

 

 Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations says “At Farmers National Company, we’re seeing an uptick in land sales as more families and inheritors want to sell now. Within our 28-state service area, we’re also seeing more landowners coming to us to talk about marketing and selling their land, as evidenced by the total volume of land for sale which is up 21 percent.” 

 

The company says overall farmland values have held up well over the years in spite of lower commodity prices and farm income compared to just five years ago. However, there are questions looming ahead for the market. 

 

“Even though the rate of bankruptcies and forced farmland sales is low, there are expectations that those numbers will rise over the next year as farmers’ cash flows continue to be stressed.”

 

 He says there has also been an increase in the number of “quiet sales,” in which neighbors quietly sell their land to other neighbors without advertising it as being for sale.”

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FARM BUREAU MEMBERS PLEDGE FOR CLEAN WATER, CLEAR RULES

Farm Bureau members are making a pledge to support clean water and clear
rules through a new campaign at the at the 2019 AFBF Annual Convention and
IDEAg Trade Show. NAFB's Micheal Clements has more…

 

 

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ECONOMIST: 2019 ANOTHER CHALLENGE FOR AGRICULTURE

The farm economy faces more uncertainty in 2019, according to American
Farm Bureau Federation chief economist John Newton. Speaking during the
2019 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show, Newton
says many factors are pressuring the farm economy…

 

 

Adding to a complex farm economy, uncertainty on trade is creating more
challenges…

 

 

However, Newton says the trade issues provide an opportunity for a bright
spot in the future…

 

 

That’s AFBF chief economist John Newton.

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Could Snow Days Become Instructional Days in Illinois?

A law under the Bruce Rauner administration has left open the option that snow days could be considered 'instructional days' in Illinois schools, meaning school districts may not lose that day of instruction.

 

Superintendent of Clinton Schools Curt Nettles explains with the change in the funding formula in Illinois last year, the law also changed what is considered an 'instructional day'.

 

 

The possibility is also opened up for participation in internship programs which Nettles points out, would allow more flexibility for their students. 

 

 

With a new Governor now in the fold in Illinois, Nettles says he is hearing the new administration is seeking to revert back to the way things were but he hopes the supermajority in Springfield will find a "happy medium".

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WHOW HOMETOWN TOUR STOPS IN LINCOLN

The annual WHOW Hometown Tour stopped in Lincoln in Logan County Wednesday morning to talk with community leaders about the things happening in Lincoln.

 

Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman discussed the ongoing desire in the community to improve 5th street on the west end of the city. He says improvement of the road along with dreams of a bike path has long been in the works and it is something they continue to work with residents in the area residents about.

 

 

Mayor Goodman says the inability of the project to move forward has been and still is a point of frustration among city leaders and those in the community.

 

 

Big news recently from the City of Lincoln, Mayor Goodman announced the Balloon Festival will return in 2019. He says it may not be as extravagant as in years past but after a year's absence, the desire for its return was made known by the community.

 

 

The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Balloon Festival and upon the organization going defunct, the event did not happen. Mayor Goodman says right now the City faces a major challenge without an asset like a Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

Other guests from Wednesday morning's WHOW Hometown Tour stop in Lincoln were Police Chief Paul Adams, Fire Chief Mark Miller, and Superintendent Bob Bagby. Hear from them later this week and into next week on Regional Radio News. 

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The Vault Continues Fundraising Focus

2018 was a big year for The Vault teen center in Clinton, but leaders are not taking the foot off the gas pedal.

 

Michele Witzke says they are planning to continue to forge ahead in their fundraising efforts this year. They always accept one-time donations but they are also looking for monthly donors of any level.

 

 

Along with financial support, Witzke indicates they are still seeking donations for supplies they need. From games or entertainment for the youth to pieces of art, Witzke says they are looking for it all. 

 

 

Additionally, manpower is always in demand for The Vault. Witzke says if you have an hour on a Saturday to help out or have skilled labor you're willing to donate, anything is appreciated.

 

 

Witzke indicates they have gotten a lot of support from the community and is thankful for that support. 

 

To learn more about how you can support The Vault in Clinton, call 309-212-7332 or  217-934-4003. You can also email thevaultclinton@gmail.com. 

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Blue Ridge School Leader Weighs In On New Governor

A time of great speculation and interest is how a DeWitt County school leader described the arrival of a new governor to Illinois.

 

Superintendent of Blue Ridge Schools, Susan Wilson is impressed with the staff Governor JB Pritzker has surrounded himself with, leaving her hopeful he will make good decisions.

 

 

In terms of how she feels the new Governor will do with the financial mess, Illinois faces, Wilson, is hoping Pritzker will continue to support the recently implemented evidence-based funding model.

 

 

Five years ago, school leaders would have said school funding was the biggest challenge facing education in Illinois, however, many are now saying a shortage of educators is the biggest challenge in education at this time.

 

 

Wilson believes the new evidence-based funding model will gradually level out the inequities in funding per student. 

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Community Action Sets Priorities For 2019

Fresh out of a new strategic planning process, a central Illinois non-profit is looking at a shift in how they help their clientele.

 

Community Action has shifted their focus to helping combat poverty through proactive measures rather than reactive measures. CEO Alison Rumler-Gomez says they now need to work with their clients to help them better adapt to the things they are taking away from Community Action's regular programs.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez indicates their clients' success is creating graduated problems that they are finding and their hope is this new program will help them solve those graduated problems.

 

 

Community Action is working to develop an app that will allow their clients to not just hear information and then never have any accountability in acting on it. Rumler-Gomez is excited about this component to the program.

 

 

March 1 is the target date to get the app rolled out and begin the video series that will accompany it. 

To get more information on Community Action, visit capcil.info. 

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Pritzker Getting Right To Work on First Day

On his first day in office Governor JB Prtizker signed an Executive Order to bring more transparency to state agencies. Pritzker calls it a back to basics focus on serving the public. The order will direct state agencies, boards and commissions to review mandates, comply with data transparency and release all data required by state law. 

 

 

Pritzker gave agencies and boards 60 days to follow through on the order.

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More Snow Expected For Parts of Illinois This Weekend

More winter weather is in play for much of Illinois later this week. 

 

And there is a lot of anticipation says meteorologist Eric Schmidt with EJS Weather in Newton.

 

 

Schmidt says behind the system, there will be stronger winds and colder air arriving Sunday for most of Illinois.

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Governor Pritzker Talks Ag

Newly installed Governor J.B. Pritzker hasn't tackled agricultural issues as much as other topics in his campaign and post-campaign talking points. However, the farm sector was on his mind in Monday's Inaugural address....

 

 

Pritzker was critical of former Governor Bruce Rauner for not working with the Illinois Congressional Delegation to get more aid from Washington.  He also said Rauner should've done more to stand up against President Trump when it comes to the impact of tariffs on the state's agriculture industry.

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Illinois Comptroller Says There's No Reason To Leave Illinois

A full slate of constitutional officers were sworn in yesterday along with Governor JB Pritzker. For the next four years every single one of them will be a Democrat. That includes the reelection of Comptroller Susana Mendoza. She is running for Mayor of Chicago but she isn’t leaving Illinois.

 

 

Mendoza says that she will continue her work of transparency in paying the state’s bills.

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Emergency Need For Blood, Platelets

The American Red Cross has an emergency need for blood and platelet donations. 

Blood donations have fallen short of hospital needs for the past few weeks, partly because of the normal lull in donations during the time after the holidays, and partly due to the winter weather that slammed the Midwest last weekend. And with another storm predicted for this weekend, American Red Cross Joe Zydlo (ZID-low) says there's good reason for the emergency designation.

 

 

Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or by going to redcrossblood.org.

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Local Youth Financial Camp Wins Grant

This summer a group of local youth participating in an entrepreneurial camp will be using some upgraded technology thanks to 15-hundred dollar grant.

 

Connie Unruh (UN-roo) is a Financial Literacy Coordinator with the T-S Institute, which is a non-profit, educational arm of First National Bank in Clinton. She explains they host summer camps for local youth interested in business education.

 

 

According to Unruh, a major project of the camp involves students shooting video for commercials.  She says past results were a little lacking due to technological limitations, so they applied for and received a grant from the Prairie Foundation.

 

 

Unruh notes a unique aspect of the grant is that it's awarded by students...

 

 

The T-S Institute's entrepreneurial camps for students take place in June.  In the meantime, you can learn more about the organization by visiting www.tsinstitute.org.

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Clinton Board of Education To Meet Tuesday

The Clinton Board of Education is set to hold its regular monthly meeting tonight (TUE) in the Clinton Junior High Library.

 

Among the items to be brought before the Board are:

 

> Recognition of Illinois State Scholars from Clinton High School

 

> Reminders on graduation dates for the Class of 2019

 

> And....Discussion of Intervention help for Clinton Junior High

 

The Clinton Board of Education meets at 6:30 this (TUE) evening at the Clinton Junior High Library.

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Rock Springs Nature Center Eagle Viewing Trip

A Macon County conservation center is providing a trip to visit Starved Rock and see the national bird.

 

Richie Wolf with the Rock Springs Nature Center indicates that in January and February people have the opportunity to watch the eagles. Wolf says that the winter months attract the eagles to Starved Rock.

 

 

The trips will be on January 19, 26, and February 2 from 9am-4pm. The trip is $25 per person and online registration is open till January 18.

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Firefighters Clean Up Chemical Spill on University of Illinois Campus

University of Illinois officials say crews are cleaning a chemical spill at the Urbana-Champaign campus’ Beckman Institute .

 

School officials said about 1:45 p.m. Monday that the situation is under control and cleanup could take at least two hours. The announcement came after other alerts announcing the hazardous materials release at the institute and asking people to leave the building. School officials say the chemical has been contained in the building and no one should re-enter the Beckman Institute while firefighters deal with the spill.

 

Research at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology centers around molecular science and engineering, integrative imaging and intelligent systems.

 

No details were given about what chemical spilled or how it spilled.

 

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Pritzker Sworn In, Pledges To Be Cheerleader For IL Economy

J.B. Pritzker is now the Governor of Illinois. 

 

He was sworn in shortly after noon Monday at Springfeld's Bank of Springfield Center. 

 

During the proceedings, the Governor referenced many items he pledged to pursue on the campaign trail, like legalizing recreational marijuana, boosting the minimum wage and seeking what he calls a fair tax system. He also promised a different message after former Governor Rauner frequently warned how Illinois was falling behind its neighbors economically...

 

 

Pritzker closed his inaugural address with confidence Illinois will soon see better days...

 

 

Pritzker made reaffirmed in his address that the state needs to be more efficient and adjust the way it taxes income.

 


 
Pritzker also hosted the Inaugural Celebration Monday night at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

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Trump Talks Farmers

President Trump took his case for a barrier on the U-S-Mexico border to farmers on Monday, addressing the 100th annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation in New Orleans;

 

 

Trump also discussed issues like the new federal farm bill, regulatory relief, and the fights he has chosen to pick with important customers of Illinois and other U-S farm products like Canada, China and Mexico;

 

 

Trump put additional tariffs on Chinese imports on hold while negotiations to resolve the trade war continue. And Congress will still need to consider the proposed trade agreement with Canada and Mexico negotiated last year before it can be fully implemented.

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Duvall Highlights Key Policies and Issues for 2019

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall didn’t pull any punches during his keynote address to the organization at its 100th annual convention. An Agri-Pulse report says Duvall called 2018 a “terrible year” for American agriculture. Roughly 7,000 people were in the audience as Duvall said farmers experienced a “perfect storm this past year.” The only exception came on some of the organization’s key policy issues. There were a lot of victories on the agricultural policy front, including tax reform that lowered taxes for just about every farmer and rancher. That included a doubling of the estate tax for farm families, a long-sought goal for Farm Bureau. One of the biggest victories was passing the 2018 Farm Bill. One of the brightest spots on the regulatory front is the new Clean Water rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Duvall notes that, of the 28 deregulatory actions taken by the Trump Administration, half of them involve agriculture. Looking ahead to 2019, Duvall encouraged members to gear up for Farm Bureau tackling challenges like farm labor, trade issues, as well as infrastructure needs like broadband expansion.

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SNAP Benefits To Continue Despite Shutdown

DESPITE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN…STATE OFFICIALS SAYS SNAP BENEFITS WILL BE AVAILABLE THROUGH FEBRUARY.

 

SNAP BENEFITS…WHICH USED TO BE CALLED FOOD STAMPS, WILL BE DISTRIBUTED AROUND JANUARY 20TH. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY JAMES DIMAS SAYS THAT ALLOCATION IS FOR FEBRUARY FOOD NEEDS.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE LA SHAWN FORD, OF CHICAGO, WARNS THAT FOOD STAMP RECIPIENTS NEED TO MAKE THOSE BENEFITS LAST THROUGH THE END OF NEXT MONTH.

 

 

ABOUT ONE POINT EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE RECEIVE SNAP BENEFITS IN ILLINOIS.

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AFBF CELEBRATES 100 YEARS WITH PLENTIFUL POLICY WINS

The American Farm Bureau Federation is celebrating 100 years with several policy wins for agriculture. Micheal Clements, with NAFB, has more…

 

 

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DeWitt County Digs Out From Weekend Storm; Round 2 Expected This Weekend

Anywhere from 7 to 12 inches of snow fell across central Illinois over the weekend, and the effects were still being felt Monday morning.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker told Regional Radio news that main roadways were in better shape Monday morning than what they were at the height of the storm, but secondary roads are expected to remain snow-packed for quite some time.

 

 

Sheriff Walker reminds residents to keep up to date with road conditions thru a variety of online resources. He says you should not call CenCom for a road update.

 

 

The storm over the weekend looks to be just the first reminder of winter for 2019. The National Weather Service is calling for freezing rain and snow to impact the area late Wednesday night thru Thursday morning with minor ice accumulations possible. Then another round of accumulating snow is expected Friday night through Saturday night. While no exact amounts are available yet for the coming system, weather officials expect several inches of accumulating snow across central Illinois this weekend.

 

Keep it tuned to Regional Radio this week as we will continue to monitor the coming weather situation.

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State Bank of Lincoln Encouraging Local over National Bank Approvals

Thinking about getting a national bank approval to mortgage your new home? A loan officer at the State Bank of Lincoln says you should check with your local bank first.

 

State Bank of Lincoln loan officer John Baldwin says that a national bank preapproval can add unnecessary stress to the homebuying process. 

 

 

Baldwin indicates it is better to get a prequalification from a local bank rather than getting a preapproval.

 

 

Baldwin says that while many mortgages companies will charge application and appraisal fees, the State Bank of Lincoln charges no upfront fees.

 

For more information contact John Baldwin at 935-3144.

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Blue Ridge School Board To Discuss Street Improvements in Front of School Buildings in Farmer City

Farmer City and Blue Ridge Schools will join together to upgrade the street in front of the high school and Schneider Elementary School. 

 

This week at their Board of Education meeting, the City will present their plans for the project and Susan Wilson says this is something they have been looking at for some time and the city is taking the lead to make it happen.

 

 

Wilson notes the city is picking up most of the cost since it is their project but the district will be helping out some as well.

 

 

Wilson indicates the tentative plan is to send the project out to bid this spring with the project likely to take place during the summer. 

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Social Security or Medicare?

Social Security and Medicare offer related services, and it may be confusing to know which to contact with questions.

 

Megan Forristall, Public Affairs Specialist with Social Security, indicates that Social Security can determine your Medicare eligibility and help you sign up for Medicare Parts A, B, and D.

 

 

Forristall says to contact Medicare to find out what services Medicare offers, for information about Medicare health and prescription drug plans, and to find participating providers.

 

 

To contact Social Security go to www.socialsecurity.gov or call 1-800-772-1213. To Contact Medicare go to www.medicare.gov or call1-800-633-4227.

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Pritzker To Take Oath As Illinois' 43rd Governor

Illinois welcomes its 43rd governor as Democrat J.B. Pritzker is inaugurated in Springfield.

 

Pritzker takes the reins from Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday. Pritzker defeated the first-term Republican in November.

 

First Presbyterian Church hosts an interfaith service. Abraham Lincoln’s family belonged to the congregation. The current church is home to the pew the Lincolns bought for $50.

 

Pritzker takes the oath of office during a morning ceremony at Bank of Springfield Center. Pritzker’s running mate Juliana Stratton will be sworn in as lieutenant governor.

 

Democrats comprise the entire statewide slate. Incoming Attorney General Kwame Raoul (KWAH’-may rah-OOL’) will be inaugurated and Secretary of State Jesse White, Comptroller Susana Mendoza and Treasurer Michael Frerichs (FRAYR’-ikz) will be sworn in to new terms.

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Pritzker To Use Own Funds To Help Boost Top Staffer Pay

Governor Elect JB Pritzker will turn to his own wallet to boost the salaries of top staffers. 

 

The billionaire will use personal funds to double the salaries of 20 positions, including his chief of staff Anne Caprara and three deputy governors.

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Companies Receive Millions To Improve Internet Connectivity

Nine companies will receive close to $100-million dollars over the next 10 years to improve internet connectivity across Illinois. 

 

The C-E-O of Wisper I-S-P Incorporated, Nathan Stooke (rhymes with "book") owns one of the nine firms and explains what's all involved;

 

 

Of all companies nationwide, the Federal Communications Commission awarded southern Illinois-based Wisper more than $220-million to improve internet service in rural Illinois and five other states;

 

 

The Mascoutah (muh-SCOO-tuh)-based company has 80 employees now and expects to grow to at least 300 to do the job needed and meet F-C-C requirements.

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National Weather Service Says Central Illinois Got a Lot of Snow

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has released snowfall totals from this weekend's storm.

 

The area shaded in orange received between 12 and 18 inches of snow. The Regional Radio listening area got 9 to eleven inches.

 

The area shaded in red, in western Missouri, received the brunt of the snow, with between 18 and 24 inches falling.

 

By early Sunday afternoon, Illinois road conditions on interstates from I-80 to I-70 were still covered with ice and snow.

 

 

 

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Bipartisan Agreement in Illinois House Extends To State Having Problems

After four years of rancor, this week's swearing-in ceremonies for the Illinois House might have felt like the days after the Berlin Wall fell. A spirit of bipartisanship filled the air at the University of Illinois in Springfield, where swearing in ceremonies took place. While Democrats and Republicans vowed to work together, both sides also agreed Illinois has issues. 

 

House Speaker Madigan noted several after winning another term as Speaker...

 

 

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin wants to see the Illinois exodus end.....

 

 

Republicans are once again in the super-minority in the Illinois House.

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USDA EXTENDS SIGN UP DEADLINE FOR TRADE AID PAYMENTS

USDA announced it will extend the signup deadline for Market Facilitation Program payments. Chad Smith, with AFBF, has more…
 
 

 

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National Farm Group Hits Century Mark

The American Farm Bureau Federation, with affiliates in Illinois, 49 other states and Puerto Rico, plans to recognize its 100th anniversary at the group's annual convention which runs through Wednesday in New Orleans. Stewart Truelsen authored the latest book on the organization's history;

 

 

Illinois and farmers from across the U-S founded the national Farm Bureau organization in Chicago. Truelsen also notes up until 15 years ago, it had its national headquarters in Illinois;

 

 

Of the 11 farmers elected president of the American Farm Bureau throughout its history, three farmed in Illinois. The national group invites every sitting U-S president to address its convention, and for the second year in the row, President Trump plans to address the group late Monday morning.

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U.S.-China Talks Wrap Up

Trade talks between the U.S. and China wrapped up this week and covered a wide range of topics. 

 

China’s Commerce Ministry released a statement saying the talks are helping to establish a way forward to wrap up the dispute between the two largest economies in the world. However, a Reuters report says the statement didn’t give many specifics on the issues the negotiators are trying to work through. 

 

The three days of talks wrapped up in Beijing on Wednesday. It’s the first time the two sides have talked since U.S. President Trump and Chinese President Xi (Zhee) agreed to a 90-day truce during a meeting in Buenos Aires. 

 

The Chinese Commerce Ministry statement says the two sides “held extensive, deep, and thorough exchanges on trade and structural issues of common concern, which promoted mutual understanding and established a foundation for resolving each other’s concerns.” 

 

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office issued a statement saying the two sides discussed “ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity, and balance in trade relations.” 

 

The Reuters report says China pledged to buy “a substantial amount” of agricultural, energy, and manufacturing goods from the U.S. 

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IHSA Wants Parents To Chill Out

The Illinois High School Association expressing concern over unruly fan behavior at local sporting events. It’s having an impact on the officiating ranks says IHSA executive director Craig Anderson, who co-authored a piece titled “Dear Mom and Dad: Cool it”

 

 

The piece is available at ‘ihsa.org.’ 

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Weekly Weather Summary

What is next after this weekend's snow? State Climatologist Office Spokesperson Brian Kerschner has more on the extended forecast...

 

 

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Still Time To Get Chamber Dinner Tickets

There's still time to get your tickets to this year's Clinton Chamber of Commerce annual dinner.

 

Friday is the cutoff for ticket sales to this year's annual event set for January 26. Lacy Phelps with the Clinton Chamber indicates this year's event is again at the Clinton Country Club with local entertainment.

 

 

To get tickets to this year's event you can contact the Chamber by calling 217-935-3364 or stop into the Chamber on the south side of the downtown Clinton Square. 

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Clinton Police Chief Responds To City Commissioner's Comments About Social Media

Social media has its advantages and yet it can be a huge detriment at the same time.

 

That is the thoughts of Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers who, in light of comments made by Clinton City Commissioner John Wise Monday at the Clinton City Council meeting, responded with his own thoughts on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

The Chief encourages anyone in the public to turn to someone who might have a solution to a problem or answer to a question before they jump on social media.

 

 

Commissioner Wise Monday night during the Clinton City Council meeting cited false claims made on social media regarding the new water meters being installed in Clinton homes. To that end, the Chief says people turning to social media to formulate their opinions based on unfounded claims is his biggest pet-peeve. 

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All Clinton Schools Weekend Activities Canceled

In light of the weekend snow forecast, Clinton schools have announced all weekend activities will be canceled.

 

The district yesterday announced tonight's boy's basketball games against Central A&M will be adjusted due to the weather forecast. Tonight the JV will tip at 5 pm with varsity action at 6:30 pm.

 

Keep things to Regional Radio News and dewittdailynews.com this weekend for the latest in closings and cancellations.

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Start Preparing For Snow

The weather is about to get pretty nasty in central Illinois this weekend. 

 

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency wants you to be ready. 

 

Rebecca Clark with IEMA says don’t wait to be supplied at home or in the car before you get snowed in for the weekend. 

 

 

Forecasts are calling for up to a foot of snow outside of St. Louis to about 10 inches around Springfield. 

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Down Payment Plus Loan Program Opens January 14

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago's Down Payment Plus Program for Illinois and Wisconsin opens January 14.

 

John Baldwin, State Bank of Lincoln loan officer, indicates that if you meet income eligibility requirements and put down $2,000 on a home you can receive the grant.

 

 

Baldwin says the income levels are higher in DeWitt County due to the Clinton Power Plant. The loan usually opens in mid-March but in 2019 it is opening in January.

 

 

To have the loan forgiven you must stay in the home for five years. Baldwin indicates that if you leave before the five years is over you may have to pay back a percentage of the loan.

 

 

The income guidelines are based on projections of check stubs of the beginning of the year. For more information contact John Baldwin at the State Bank of Lincoln in Clinton at 935-3144.

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Winter Storm Coming To Central Illinois

A winter storm will impact central and southeast Illinois, beginning Friday evening.

 

Winter Storm Watches are in effect along I-72 from Springfield west, and also
southeast from Springfield to Effingham and Newton. Snowfall amounts around 6-inches are likely in the watch area.

 

The snow will fall over an extended period of time, likely through Saturday night.

 

Minor river flooding is expected to continue through most of next week on the
Illinois River near Havana and Beardstown, but flooding on the Wabash River should
subside on Friday. 

 

The National Weather Service says if you have plans to travel, make sure your vehicle has a winter survival kit, keep fuel tanks full in case you get stranded and make sure any medicines are available in case travel becomes impossible. 

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Lawmakers Talk Priorities For New General Assembly

DURING WEDNESDAY’S INAUGURATION OF THE 101ST ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY…LAWMAKERS PROVIDED A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THEIR PRIORITIES FOR THE NEW YEAR. 

 

REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS WELCH OF WESTCHESTER TOUCHED ON TAXES…PARTICULARLY MOVING ILLINOIS TO A PROGRESSIVE INCOME TAX SYSTEM.

 

 

WHILE WELCH TALKED ABOUT THE NEED FOR A PROGRESSIVE INCOME TAX SYSTEM AND OTHERS TALKED ABOUT FIGHTING CRIME…HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JIM DURKIN TOUCHED ON THE INCREASING NUMBER OF PEOPLE LEAVING ILLINOIS.

 

 

DURKIN SAYS IT’S TIME TO WORK TOGETHER TO ADDRESS THEE ISSUES. LAWMAKERS ALSO FACE MORE THAN SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS IN UNPAID STATE BILLS AND A MASSIVE PENSION BURDEN.

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Congressman Davis Reacts To Trump's Delivery To Nation

Tuesday's speech by President Donald Trump to the American public is being praised by a central Illinois Congressman.

 

Rodney Davis of Taylorville calls Trump's speech very good. More than that, he criticized Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer for coming out reacting to the President's remarks.

 

 

Davis is critical of those suggesting the President is drumming up false fear by calling the border security a crisis. He believes border security has been a crisis for many years now.

 

 

Congressman Davis says border security is not just about illegal immigration but also about drug flow into the country. 

 

He believes the border issue is stalling a deal to end a partial government shutdown and says last year Pelosi would have taken the deal offered by the President but says she is not taking it because she is afraid of her far left constituents that ran on a platform to oppose anything Trump does. 

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Sen. Rose Talks Super-Majority as New General Assembly Gets Sworn In

A local Republican lawmaker is reinforcing his stance that he is willing to hear out Governor elect JB Pritzker before making any judgments.

 

State Senator Chapin Rose says he is interested to see how the new general assembly will work together given the House of Representatives has their biggest majority in Illinois since the 1960s.

 

 

Sen. Rose says he's already concerned because of pay raises for Pritzker's cabinet members, calling it spending money we don't have.

 

 

The Senator believes Democrats are going to find budgeting difficult. He feels new members of the legislature want to spend money but points out, Illinois does not have the money to spend.

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Wind Farm Special Use Permit Hearing Dates Set

Starting in early February, the Zoning Board of Appeals will begin hearing testimony on the special use permit for a wind farm in DeWitt County.

 

February 5 at 5 pm the ZBA will convene to begin hearing testimony for the proposed Tradewind Energy Alta Farms II wind project in DeWitt County at Clinton Community High School.

 

The dates for the hearings will be Tuesday, February 5, Thursday, February 7 and Friday, February 8 and then February 19 through February 22 (Tuesday-Friday). 

 

The hearings will last from 5 pm to 10 pm. 

 

Anyone wishing to speak before the ZBA must sign up on the first night of the hearings otherwise your testimony will not be heard. 

 

After all the testimonies have been heard, the ZBA will make their decision, however that date has not been determined. 

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Clinton Elementary School To Host World Renown Children's Author in April

The second semester is starting with a bang at Clinton Elementary School with news announced Thursday that well-known children's author Patricia Polacco will be at the school for a pair of presentations in April.

 

Christina Soberalski says it was a long time coming but she is excited to have Polacco coming to Clinton.

 

 

Soberalski indicates Polacco writes from a real-life perspective and targets students in the second through junior high school age.

 

 

Getting to see an author who actually wrote a book students like means a lot to students. Soberalski says it can be more meaningful than watching a movie or reading an article about the author.

 

 

Polacco will be at Clinton Elementary School April 29. The school is taking up fundraising efforts to pay for Polacco's appearance. Hear more about that next week on Regional Radio News. 

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Police Chief Talks Incident In Clinton Park Where Portable Meth Lab Was Discovered

Some Clinton youth stumbled upon portable meth labs in Kiwanis Park last Friday and this week on Regional Radio News, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers discussed the incident and what a portable lab might look like if you stumble upon one.

 

The Chief points out, these portable labs are starting to become increasingly popular because of the small number of materials needed to produce meth and the space required is also minimal.

 

 

The materials of a portable meth lab are very specific and are things commonly found around just about every home. The Chief describes what you might find if you stumble up one of these labs.....

 

 

Chief Lowers points out, the portable labs found were in duffle bags. The mother of the young girls that found the duffle bags thanked the DARE program for the awareness they raise surrounding methamphetamines. The Chief this week also discussed the upcoming DARE program in Clinton schools, we'll have more on that in the coming weeks on Regional Radio News. 

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Emergency Management Agency Preparing For Spring Exercise At Clinton Power Station

A multi-agency evaluation of preparedness at the Clinton Power Station will take place this spring.

 

The biennial drill evaluates Exelon and area agencies on their responses and procedures. Bill Conway, with the Emergency Management Agency, explains this is going to be a multi-county, multi-agency exercise. 

 

 

The power plant sends out a yearly information brochure and this year instead of that brochure going out, Conway indicates it was a flyer that directs residents to a couple websites that will explain the upcoming drill and what evacuation procedures should look like in the event of an actual emergency.

 

 

With the exercise still in March, Regional Radio News will have more details in the coming weeks and months on the preparations that take place and how all the agencies involved work together for this drill. 

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Peace Meal Needs Drivers

If you have an hour to spare a day or two through the week, Peace Meal would ask you to consider delivering meals to seniors in the area.

 

Shelly Tolly is the Home Delivered Meal Coordinator for Peace Meal and indicates delivering meals to seniors takes an hour or less and they only need your time a few days a week.

 

 

Being a peace meal driver can be a great benefit to not only the organization but the seniors you are delivering to. Tolly says they have run into scenarios where if it hadn't been for the peace meal driver, something horrible could have happened to one of their clients.

 

 

Tolly says in Clinton they are expanding their reach to parts of the rural area so they are going to need more drivers for those residents. She also notes in Farmer City they need drivers. 

For more information on volunteering a few hours a week for Peace Meal, contact Tolly at 217-345-1800 or call 800-543-1770. 

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Snow later this week in Illinois; more winter type weather late in month

Winter winds are picking up some steam this week and even some snow is in the forecast for some parts of Illinois.

 

And more winter type conditions will likely return in the latter part of January says meteorologist Dan Hicks with Freese-Notis Weather.

 

 

As for the first week of January, Hicks says temperatures are running six to 12 degrees above normal across Illinois and much of the Midwest.

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Lawmakers approve tollway and agency director salary bills

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE APPROVING A COUPLE OF MEASURES REQUESTED BY INCOMING GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER.

 

ONE BILL VACATES THE ILLINOIS TOLLWAY BOARD…SO GOVERNOR-ELECT PRITZKER CAN MAKE NEW APPOINTMENTS. THE SECOND WILL RAISE THE SALARIES OF SEVERAL CABINET MEMBER POSITIONS BY 15 PERCENT...IN HOPES OF ATTRACTING TOP TALENT TO LEAD STATE AGENCIES. SENATOR BILL HAINE OF ALTON:

 

 

THE FIRST BILL WILL LET GOVERNOR-ELECT PRITZKER APPOINT NEW MEMBERS TO THE ILLINOIS TOLLWAY BOARD…AND THE SECOND RAISES THE SALARIES OF HIS FUTURE CABINET MEMBERS. SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON SAYS PAY IS CURRENTLY CAPPED AT 150 THOUSAND AND THE STATE NEEDS TO BE ABLE TO OFFER MORE TO STAY COMPETITIVE.

 

 

THE BILLS WILL BE SENT TO THE GOVERNOR’S DESK WHEN PRITZKER TAKES OFFICE NEXT WEEK.

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Dan Caulkins Sworn In Wednesday

State Representative Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) was sworn into his first term in the Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday during the inauguration of the 101st General Assembly held at the University of Illinois-Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium.

 

Caulkins says he is looking to reach across the isle and establish relationships.

 

 

Additionally, Caulkins says the budget is his top priority.

 

 

Caulkins was elected in November to replace retiring State Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth). The 101st Illinois House District includes all or portions of Champaign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean & Piatt Counties.

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Dan Brady Sworn In Wednesday

The Illinois state Capitol was awash in flowers, family members and well-wishers today as the Legislature begins a new session.

 

Prior to the ceremony, State Representative Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) talked about the upcoming session.

 

 

Members of the House were inaugurated Wednesday as part of the 101st General Assembly.   

 

Secretary of State Jesse White presided over House ceremonies at the University of Illinois Springfield.

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As Expected, Madigan Appointed Speaker Of The House

Death, taxes, and Mike Madigan holding the gavel as Speaker of the Illinois House. Those seem to be the certainties in life in Illinois. 

 

Madigan was sworn into an unprecedented 18th term as Speaker after a 72-44 vote. Madigan talked about bipartisanship after a combative four years with his political rival, Governor Bruce Rauner.

 

 

Jim Durkin was chosen to serve another term as Minority Leader. He also called for unified efforts to turn around Illinois' fortunes.

 

 

Newcomer Democrat Anne Stava Murray was true to her word in saying she wouldn't support Madigan for Speaker. She voted present. 

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Downtown Clinton Welcomes New Yoga Studio

A new yoga studio has opened on the downtown square. 

 

Vanessa Campos is one of the co-owners of The Yoga Space and indicates she, along with a few friends, opened the studio next to MR Systems. She indicates they wanted the perfect place and feels they have found it.

 

 

The Yoga Space will offer several types of yoga and Campos says their goal is to be very inclusive.

 

 

Yoga can provide great benefits to your overall health and everyday living. Campos points to some personal benefits she's experienced....

 

 

Classes start at $10 per class or $80 per month which gives you access to all their classes that month.

You can learn more about The Yoga Space by stopping into their new location next to MR Systems Wireless on East Side Square. You can also find more about them on their Facebook page. 

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Warrensburg-Latham Superintendent Exploring Expansion of Popular Professional Development Program

In 2016, Warrensburg-Latham hosted a professional development seminar and it went so well, they did it again in 2018.

 

The success of the two events has been so significant, Superintendent Dr.Kristen Kendrick-Weikle says they are looking at making it an event at a bigger venue. 

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says those that have attended enjoyed it and feels they put together high-quality topics and presenters for area educators.

 

 

Warrensburg-Latham school teachers took up topics to present about the things they were doing in their classes. Dr. Kendrick-Weikle in the past has praised her staff for their innovation in the classroom. 

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Social Security on Disability Decision Appeals

Social Security indicates that you have the right to appeal their disability decision.

 

Megan Forristall, Public Affair Specialist with Social Security, indicates that your claim for disability will be reviewed and will receive written notification of their decision. If your claim is denied you can file an appeal for your claim to be reconsidered.

 

 

Forristall says if you are denied at the reconsideration you can appeal again for a hearing and then an appeals council review after that. The final level of appeal is a Federal Court review.

 

 

Forristall indicates that the main reason why an initial claim would be denied is that the individual is deemed capable of performing substantial gainful activity. She also says you can contact your local Social Security office for a list of representatives that will take your case for free.

 

 

Forristall reminds that you have 60 days to ask for an appeal and your appeal must be in writing. For more information visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

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State Police Continue Recruiting Efforts

After graduating a brand new class of recruits just last week, the Illinois State Police launching a new recruitment effort. 

 

According to a release from the Illinois State Police, they are seeking new troopers immediately and they are using a brand new YouTube video to demonstrate the kind of men and women they are looking for. 

 

 

The recruitment film uses actual ISP dash-cam video, security camera clips, home video, and newly filmed footage paying tribute to the diversity of Illinois, and the profession of law enforcement. The video will be used in schools and for public and private presentations. You can see the video online at IllinoisTrooper.com.

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Rauner Reflects

GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER IS REFLECTING ON HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND OFFERING SOME SUGGESTIONS TO THE NEW GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

 

THE GOVERNOR IS SUBMITTING AN END OF TERM REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE. IN IT HE HIGHLIGHTS STRIDES MADE IN EDUCATION FUNDING REFORM, REDUCING GOVERNMENT RED TAPE AND MOVING STATE SERVICES TO THE DIGITAL AGE. BUT HE ALSO SAYS MORE MUST BE DONE TO MAKE ILLINOIS MORE COMPETITIVE.

 

 

GOVERNOR RAUNER SAYS HE’D ALSO LIKE TO SEE LAWMAKERS PASS TERM LIMITS AND WORK TO REDUCE PROPERTY TAXES IN ILLINOIS.

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Rauner Looks Ahead

Governor Bruce Rauner held what might have been his last Q and A with capitol media today. He says that he remains worried about the incoming administration raising taxes and spending more money. Rauner also says he hasn’t yet decided what is going to be next for him once he leaves the office of Governor behind.

 

 

Rauner also would not directly address who from the Republican Party should run for Governor in the next four years.

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Mike Bost Weighs In On The Wall

With no resolution of the standoff over border security funding, the partial federal government shutdown rolls on. President Donald Trump is considering declaring a national emergency on the southern border in order to get work going on his so-called "border wall," but one Southern Illinois Congressman says calling it a wall might be confusing some.

 

U.S. Representative Mike Bost of Murphysboro says the wall is actually a number of border security measures.

 

 

He acknowledges there are places along the border where tunnels have been used to sneak into America, and says there must be a variety of methods put into play to secure the border. Trump’s Oval Office speech will be followed by a visit Thursday to the southern border to highlight his demand for a barrier, a trip opponents have characterized as a publicity stunt.

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Madigan Gives Lawmakers Credit For Bipartisan Approach

House Speaker Mike Madigan closed the session of the Illinois House as the 100th General Assembly wrapped up its business Tuesday. 

 

Without mentioning him by name, Madigan offered a parting shot to Governor Bruce Rauner's Administration, saying lawmakers came together to end the two year long Illinois budget stalemate...

 

 

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University of Illinois Extension Hosting STEM After School Program Starting This Week

There are still a few openings available for a student-led STEM after-school program in the Blue Ridge district.

 

Lindsey Burden is the Extension Program Coordinator at the DeWitt County Extension office and indicates the highlight of their five-week program is crime science.

 

 

Blue Ridge High School students are coming up with the topics to lead the youth. Burden says it gives them the chance to choose the best, most relatable topics.

 

 

The K-2nd-grade session is full but Burden says they are taking a waiting list for that. The 3rd-5th-grade session has availabilities, though they will be taking a waiting list for that once it is full. To get registered or get on the waiting list for either session, contact Burden at the U of I Extension office by calling 217-935-5764. Those sessions start Wednesday. 

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Rally Held in Springfield To Oppose Gas Tax Hike

OPPONENTS OF A PROPOSED GAS TAX INCREASE ARE RALLYING AT THE CAPITOL.

 

A FEW REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS AND ADVOCACY GROUPS ARE FIGHTING AGAINST THE IDEA…URGING THE PUBLIC TO VOICE THEIR CONCERNS. REPRESENTATIVE JEANNE IVES OF WHEATON SAYS TAXPAYERS CAN’T TAKE ANY MORE INCREASES.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN SKILLICORN OF EAST DUNDEE JOINED THE CROWD.

 

 

SUPPORTERS SAYS THE HIKE IS NEEDED TO PAY FOR ROAD REPAIRS AND CONSTRUCTION. NO SPECIFIC LEGISLATION HAS BEEN INTRODUCED YET BUT THE MAYOR OF CHICAGO HAS SUGGESTED AN INCREASE OF 20 TO 30 CENTS PER GALLON.

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Lawmakers Discuss Offering Higher Salaries To Agency Directors

STATE LAWMAKERS ARE DISCUSSING A BILL AIMED AT ATTRACTING TOP TALENT TO RUN STATE AGENCIES. 

 

THE LEGISLATION WOULD RAISE THE SALARIES OF SOME AGENCY DIRECTORS BY 15 PERCENT. REPRESENTATIVE CHRISTIAN MITCHELL OF CHICAGO SAYS THE INCREASE IS NEEDED TO FIND THE BEST PEOPLE FOR THE JOB.

 

 

THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS IS ALSO BEING CITED AS AN EXAMPLE…SINCE DIRECTORS IN SIMILAR ROLES MAKE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE IN OTHER STATES.

 

 

THE BILL WILL BE UP FOR A VOTE FIRST IN THE HOUSE.

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Farmers Need Frozen Ground During Winter

Mild temperatures have led to soggy ground for much of Illinois this month. And that’s not a good thing for those on the farm, who could use a good freeze says DTN ag meteorologist Bryce Anderson. 

 

 

Temperatures will be well above 50 in most parts of Illinois Monday but by Wednesday night most overnight lows should be back in the teens. 

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Davis, Durbin Talk Government Shutdown

Senator Dick Durbin took on the White House on the issue of the goverment shutdown on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday. 

 

Durbin says the President's talk of bypassing Congress by issuing a national emergency.to build a wall would be met with repercussions....

 

 

Durbin didn't sound an optimistic tone when it comes to prospects for ending the shutdown...

 

 

Durbin labels the shutdown totally unnecessary.

 

Meanwhile, Central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville says he is always hopeful cooler heads will prevail, but does not see a compromise being worked on at this point.

 

 

This is now one of the longest shutdowns in U.S. history. The longest lasted 21-days, from December 16, 1995 - January 6, 1996. That was the result of conflicts between Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress over funding for Medicare, education, the environment, and public health in the 1996 federal budget. The government shut down after Clinton vetoed the spending bill the Republican-controlled Congress sent him. 

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Clinton Commissioner Blasts Social Media Criticisms of Water Department

The new water meter system in Clinton has ruffled some feathers on social media and a Clinton City Commissioner took exception Monday night at the first City Council meeting of the new calendar year.

 

The City earlier this year partnered with a company to install new water meters to better track water usage by residents. Some residents have seen their water bills spike after the first cycle but Commissioner John Wise says a lot of things being said on the social media site Facebook are simply untrue.

 

 

Wise recognizes there are some glitches that have taken place with the new meters and those will be addressed.

 

 

Wise indicates there are still some residents who need to get their meters replaced. In the event they do not get them replaced, water will simply be shut off until that process takes place and emphasizes rates will not increase as a penalty of inaction. 

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Clinton PD Promotes Officer Jostes To Sargeant

Officer Jake Jostes has been promoted to Sargeant within the Clinton Police Department.

 

Many know Jostes as the City's K-9 handler who works an overnight shift. Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting, police chief Ben Lowers spoke high praises of Jostes.

 

 

Jostes says it is a real honor be have been able to move up through the ranks of the Clinton Police Department and says it means a lot to have been accepted by the community.

 

 

Jostes chose his parents to pin his new collar brass to his uniform and his wife, Amy, pinned his Sargeant badge during his swearing-in ceremony Monday night. 

 

 

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Portable Meth Lab Found in Clinton Park

A portable meth lab was found in Clinton last Friday. 

 

In a release Monday morning, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says two bags were discovered in Kiwanis Park that further investigation revealed the remains of what is commonly referred to as a “one-pot” or “shake and bake” portable meth lab. 

 

The items were ultimately seized by Clinton Police and turned over to the Illinois State Police Meth Response Team and Task Force 6 for further investigation. 

 

Chief Lowers reminds the public that anytime suspicious packages are discovered or anytime illegal drug activity is suspected, please do not handle, open or manipulate suspicious items and notify police immediately. 

 

Methamphetamine production is extremely dangerous and can be hazardous to anyone who comes in contact with an active lab or it’s disposed contents. 

 

In comparison to traditional meth labs that required a much more sophisticated setup of heating materials, glass beakers and an abundance of ingredients, the “one pot” or “shake and bake” method has increased in popularity due to the use of less material under portable circumstances where a small amount of methamphetamine can be produced in a home or vehicle and materials discarded along roadways, parks and garbage receptacles. 

 

Common materials found in the production of methamphetamine include but are not limited to plastic drink bottles, cold and allergy pills, cold compress packs, lighter/lantern fuels and common household cleaners to include drain cleaners, ammonia and acetone chemicals. 

 

The investigation is ongoing by the Illinois State Police Meth Response Team and Task Force 6. 

   

Authorities indicate no further information will be released at this time.  

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DCDC To Begin Entrepreneur Program Mirroring Monticello Model

A program geared towards jumpstarting potential business owners is coming to DeWitt County.

 

The Business Bootcamp gives potential business owners tools and information to decide if they are ready to open their own business. It has been wildly successful in Monticello, helping them revitalize and rejuvenate their downtown and the DeWitt County Development Council is bringing it to Clinton later this year.

 

 

That's David Torbert with the DCDC. He explains at the end of the program, those that have completed the four weeks get the opportunity to present their business ideas for a chance at $5,000.

 

 

The Monticello model has worked for their community and Torbert says not only does it help the downtown area but business owners can work together to support each other.

 

 

Torbert indicates not a lot of information is available yet for when they will start the program and start taking registrations. He hopes in the coming months they can start rolling out more information for those interested. 

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The Vault Looks For Big 2019

2018 was a big year for the teen center in DeWitt County but the organization's leader has equally big plans for 2019.

 

The Vault opened its doors officially on the downtown Clinton Square and Michelle Witzke says their opening only allows for activity on the first floor, so their goal is to have the lower level complete by mid-year.

 

 

Fundraising for 2019 will continue to be a big focus. Witzke explains the center will be a free place for youth to come and so they have to find a way to subsidize not only their overhead costs but they are hoping to compensate some of their more involved volunteers.

 

 

Witzke indicates their operational costs are estimated at about $25,000 but to compensate volunteers, they are looking at about an annual budget of $75,000 to $80,000 in yearly expenses. Owning the building on the square has helped The Vault keep their yearly costs down. 

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State Representative-Elect Looking For Something Bigger

She hasn’t even been sworn in as a state lawmaker yet, but a newly elected representative has already set her sights on Capitol Hill. 

 

Naperville based Democrat Anne Stava-Murray has made waves by unseating an incumbent with a war chest of only 30-thousand dollars and by saying she would not vote for Mike Madigan as House Speaker. Stava-Murray has announced she will for U.S. Senate in 2020. She believes she can represent a largely unrepresented age group....

 

 

The seat is occupied by Dick Durbin, who has strongly hinted he would run for re-election. With her public opposition to Madigan, Stava-Murray says she would be able to achieve more in Washington than Springfield.

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American Legion Trying To Meet Challenge of Getting, Keeping Younger Vets Engaged

Josh Theilen is a young guy with a family. He's also the Commander of the American Legion in Clinton.

 

He's hoping in 2019 to not only recruit younger veterans to their organization but keep them engaged. A challenge seen across the board for Legion posts, Theilen believes this is a challenge that might simply be met by better communicating.

 

 

Being a young man with a family, Theilen can relate to the challenge of balancing family and a career and everything else. He feels if younger veterans could dedicate just two hours of their year to one event, they'd have more than enough help to make everything run smoothly.

 

 

The generational gap is nothing new to the Legion. Theilen explains this has been something they have faced before and as veterans begin to get older, they find the time and desire to begin to give back.

 

 

If you're interested in joining the American Legion in Clinton, you can reach out to the post via Facebook, you can email crang.bennett@gmail.com or you can stop into their location at 219 North Elizabeth Street or call 217-935-5183. 

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Know The Rules Before You Fly A Drone

Drones were again a popular gift at the holidays but you need to know before you fly. 

 

There are a number of regulations that new pilots of drones need to follow says the Illinois Department of Transportation Jessie Decker.

 

 

If you are within five miles of an airport it’s pretty much a no fly zone. If you want to fly there you need to be in contact with air traffic control before you take off. 

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Flu Activity Picking Up in Illinois

FLU SEASON IS PICKING UP IN ILLINOIS.

 

THERE’S BEEN AN INCREASE IN FLU CASES THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS AND STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NIRAV SHAH SAYS THAT'S PRETTY TYPICAL FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR.

 

 

SHAH SAYS IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL IF THE FLU HAS PEAKED IN ILLINOIS YET…SINCE FLU SEASON CAN RUN THROUGH MAY. HE NOTES THAT IT’S DEFINITELY NOT TOO LATE TO GET YOUR FLU SHOT.

 

 

FLU SEASON IN ILLINOIS CAN LAST UNTIL MAY. SHAH SAYS LAST YEAR WAS A LOT WORSE AND NOTES THAT IT’S ESTIMATED ONLY ABOUT 45 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION GETS VACCINATED ANNUALLY.

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Weekly Weather Summary

We're in the middle of some unseasonably warm weather this weekend, but what is on the other side of this? State Climatologist office spokesperson Brian Kerschner has more...

 

 

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Bost on Differences in Congress

The start of the new Democrat-controlled House of Representatives got off to a rocky start, according to Southern Illinois Congressman Mike Bost. 

 

He described a meeting between now-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Donald Trump, and other leaders last week as Pelosi speaking over and shouting down those from the other side. He says he hopes this does not set the tone for the new Congress.

 

Bost said in a statement following his swearing-in last week that he would "seek common ground with anyone - Republican or Democrat - without compromising my Southern Illinois values." 

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Illinois Has Prime Land For Eagle Watching

January and February continue to be a perfect time for wildlife watching. And Illinois remains a prime place for the activity says Tim Schweizer with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

 

 

The IDNR website offers plenty of information on eagle watching opportunities throughout Illinois at “dnr.illinois.gov”. 

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Warner Library Continues To Go Away From Dewey Decimal System

Making things easier for their patrons is the goal for the Warner Library in what will be a pretty big change.

 

Children's librarian Paula Lopatic has begun to do away with the generations-old book classification system. They are transitioning to an alphabetical sorting system in the non-fiction section on the children's floor.

 

 

Lopatic indicates this change has become known in their industry as the 'bookstore model'.

 

 

As of the fall, the Warner Library was only one of four libraries to be going away from the Dewey decimal system. 

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Clinton American Legion Planning For 100th Year in 2019

2019 will be a landmark year for the American Legion.

 

Commander Josh Theilen explains 2019 will be the 100th anniversary of the Clinton American Legion and feels it's not only a celebration of 100 years but a kick-off to their next 100 years.

 

 

Theilen feels the Legion being in existence for 100 years is not only a showing of longevity for them but also the community continuing to support them. He believes they are not going anywhere.

 

 

The Legion at a national level helped establish the original GI bill and the Veterans Affairs organization. 

 

2019 will be a year to focus on celebration but Theilen also wants to continue his goal of bringing in younger veterans and keeping them engaged and involved. We'll hear more from him next week on Regional Radio News on this and more. 

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Seniors Being Reminded of Social Security's Extra Help Prescription Drug Program

If you are a senior a part of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, Social Security is hoping you'll consider joining a program to help you save money this year.

 

Meghan Forristall with Social Security explains the program helps with covering costs of the Part D coverage including premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

 

 

Forristal points out, you would not contact Social Security to enroll but you can visit their website or stop into your local office for more information.

 

 

Forristall says your local senior center might even have someone that could help you get enrolled in the program. You can visit socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp or stop into your local Social Security office for more information. 

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January Is Radon Awareness Month

January is radon awareness month and the Department of Public Health says if you don’t know the level of radon in your home it’s time to get it tested. 

 

That’s State Radon Program Manager Pat Daniels. The colorless, odorless and tasteless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer. 

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Decatur Area Arts Council To Offer Grant Opportunities To Area Groups

If you are an organization whose goal is centered around the arts, then a local agency hopes you will consider applying for grant money they are offering.

 

Jerry Johnson is the Executive Director of the Decatur Arts Council and indicates the grants are available thanks to dollars they receive from the State of Illinois.

 

 

Johnson notes Maroa-Forsyth Schools were among the most recent beneficiaries of their grant.

 

 

For details about the grant and the guidelines, visit the Decatur Area Arts Council website at decaturarts.org/grants. The upcoming deadline for this round of grant funding is February 1. Johnson points out they do grant cycles again later in the spring and then again in the fall. 

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Clinton's Lincoln, Douglas Elementary Schools Welcome New Pre-K Coordinator

If you have children in the Pre-K program at the Clinton School district, you likely have been contacted by the new Pre-K Coordinator.

 

If you have not, Principal Beth Wickenhauser says you will soon be contacted by Lauren Johnson, who is joining the district in a role that will allow her to assist Wickenhauser and the district's Pre-K staff.

 

 

Wickenhauser points out, hiring Johnson as their new Pre-K coordinator was an opportunity that came about thanks to a change in the state's application for Pre-K dollars. The Clinton Pre-K program is funded through a grant from the State of Illinois.

 

 

Wickenhauser anticipates Johnson has been learning about their Pre-K program since November. Johnson will be reaching out to the community in the coming weeks and months as she begins to get more involved in her new role. 

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The Vault in Clinton Looks Back At Busy 2018

It was a big year for The Vault in Clinton as they opened the teen center on the downtown square. 

 

Leader of The Vault, Michelle Witzke says opening their doors to the community was definitely the highlight as they had numerous people across the community work hard to make their dream a reality. 

 

 

2018 hit the community's youth very hard with three students lost their lives last year and Witzke indicates it was important for The Vault to be open for the community's youth to come and grieve.

 

 

Witzke feels they are about 40% to being what she had dreamed The Vault would be. She has noticed they have already started to make connections with the community's youth. 

 

 

With a downstairs level still to be tapped into, Witzke says 2019 should be another big year for them. Next week on Regional Radio News, hear from Witzke on what her goals are in the coming year. 

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Warner Library Celebrating 2018

2018 was another good year for the Warner Library in Clinton.

 

Business Manager, Samantha Rusk explains they helped their patrons save over $1-million through borrowing books and movies instead of purchasing them from bookstores.

 

 

Comedy novels were an unexpected trend in 2018. Rusk says they have data that breaks down what their staff liked and then what the patrons liked.

 

 

Among popular titles in the media section, Avengers: Infinity War topped the list followed by Black Panther, Game Night and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Rusk points out they have the latest in movie releases as well so she hopes you will consider stopping by the library for your next movie night. 

 

For more information, stop into the library at 310 North Quincy Street or visit vwarner.org. 

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Warrensburg-Latham Administrators Begin New Year Looking Ahead

The ringing in of the new calendar year is being quickly followed by the ringing in of the new semester at area schools this week.

 

Warrensburg-Latham students return to class today (Thursday) and administrators are beginning to make plans for well into the new calendar year. Superintendent Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle explains now is the time where her staff begins to look at the 2019-2020 school year.

 

 

Dr. Kendric-Weikle says they have already started to look ahead for budgeting purposes, looking ahead approximately three years. Starting this week she also plans to meet with staff about their facilities.

 

 

Earlier in 2018, the Warrensburg-Latham School Board updated their strategic plan and Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says it is time to start working on some of their short-term goals.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle indicates it will be just a few weeks and students will begin to look at their schedules for the upcoming school year. 

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Warmer Trend Ringing In New Year

It’s 2019 and we can already start talking about some weather records. DTN ag meteorologist Bryce Anderson says warm air will lead to some unseasonably mild temps in the Midwest over the next week. 

 

 

Highs in Illinois will be above 40 and even 50 in some places through early next week.

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Partial Government Shutdown Closes FSA County Offices

Farm Service Agency offices are officially shut down as of the close of business on Friday, December 28th. What does that mean for the second round of Market Facilitation Payments? 

 

A DTN report says producers who have already certified their 2018 production acres with FSA will continue to get their payments. 

 

For those who weren’t able to get the certification completed, they will have to wait until the government shutdown is over.

 

Up until last Friday, farmers were able to apply for the payments without having finished harvest. While official signup was scheduled to end on January 15th, farmers are still able to certify their 2018 production until May 1st. 

 

USDA isn’t completely halted and several services are ongoing despite the shutdown. A USDA news release says, “Certain activities will remain ongoing because they’re related to law enforcement, protecting life and property, or financed through other funding mechanisms. If the shutdown continues, the number of employees exempted from the shutdown will decrease. As funding for certain activities lessens, those activities will decrease.” 

 

Continuing services include meat, processed egg, and poultry inspection services. SNAP benefits are still going out to eligible households in January.

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New Gun Control Laws Go Into Effect

New Year – new laws, and in Illinois that means two new gun control laws. One allows for a gun to be taken away from someone who’s potentially violent. 

 

The request has to go through the court and must come from family, friends or law enforcement says State Rep. Kathleen Wills.

 

 

The other law is a 72 hour waiting period for the purchase of all guns. 

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More People Looking For Work in Illinois

The jobs picture in Illinois finished out the year on a good note. 

 

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says that 12 of the 14 metro areas in Illinois added jobs. But the unemployment rate is up says IDES’ Bob Gough. 

 

 

The Chicago area was the top place to be looking for work as it accounted for most of the job growth.

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How Are Long-Term Interest Rates Impacting Farmers?

Long-term interest rates are moving higher. But, ask Curt Covington, Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer at Farmer Mac, and he’ll tell you the farming community saw the writing on the wall about interest rates well beforehand.

 

 

Covington added most producers are uncertain of the Fed’s plans into the future, forcing many to act now. 

 

 

Covington noted despite a good financial decision by many in the industry, the five-year downturn in the farm economy is forcing many to ask very challenging questions about how to preserve as much equity as possible.

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December Was Warm and Stormy

DECEMBER WAS WARM AND STORMY IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE LAST MONTH WAS 34 DEGREES…WHICH IS MORE THAN FOUR DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL. PRECIPITATION WAS ALSO ABOVE NORMAL SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST OFFICE’S SPOKESPERSON BRIAN KERSCHNER.

 

 

AND OF COURSE THERE WAS THE OUTBREAK OF 29 TORNADOES ON DECEMBER FIRST...WHICH ISN’T UNHEARD OF SAYS BRIAN KERSCHNER WITH THE STATE CLIMATOLOGIST’S OFFICE.

 

 

THE JANUARY FORECAST CALLS FOR BELOW AVERAGE PRECIPITATION FOR MOST OF ILLINOIS. TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO BE ABOVE AVERAGE OVER THE NEXT WEEK BUT THEN MORE TYPICAL FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR FOR THE REST OF THE MONTH.

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Commodity Market Analyst Gauges 2019

What’s expected in the commodity markets in 2019? AgriVisor Senior Market Analyst Dale Durchholz says it’s all about “cycles”. 

 

 

Durchholz expects something to break in 2019, not necessarily from the demand side, but the supply side--either domestically or internationally.

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Local Business Makes Donation To Clinton Schools For Reading Program

A Clinton business has stepped up with a big donation to help further the efforts of school leaders to help their students maintain their reading skills away from school.

 

Miller Container made a $5,000 donation to the Read Across Clinton program and Lincoln and Douglas Schools Principal Beth Wickenhauser says this is a big boost to the program's efforts and will allow them to offer more books to their youth.

 

 

Earlier this week on Regional Radio News, we outlined the importance of students continuing to read while they are away from the classroom. Wickenhauser notes it only takes about ten minutes per day to help a child maintain their reading levels. 

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DeWitt County Museum Already Preparing For 2019 Apple and Pork Festival

Nearly ten months away is the 2019 Apple and Pork Festival but organizers say now is when they begin the planning process.

 

Executive Director of the CH Moore Homestead, Joey Woolridge indicates this is the time of year when they start sending out flea market contracts among other things the DeWitt County Museum Board will be working on.

 

 

The museum closes down for the first three months of the year and Woolridge says the downtime this winter will be used to revamp their website. She says it in need of a new, fresh look.

 

 

Learn more about the happenings at the Museum by finding them on Facebook. The Museum will re-open in April. 

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Farm CPA Says Plenty of Info Needed For Tax Season

With the New Year over, now is the time to get that tax information to your tax preparer. There are some significant changes to consider for those farmers that are patrons of a cooperative says CPA Paul Neiffer.

 

 

Neiffer authors a blog for farmers called The Farm CPA. 

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First National Bank and Trust Company Announces $2,500 Gift to The Neighborhood Care Center

First National Bank and Trust Company in Clinton made a recent donation of $2,500 to The Neighborhood Care Center, which serves as a hub for several ministries that help local families in the community.

 

Various offerings include neighborhood market, crisis relief ministry, and clothing room ministry referrals. First National Bank is a proud supporter of the neighborhood market which includes the mobile food pantry, holiday baskets, and backpack programs.

 

The care center opens to the public every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Donations and deliveries can be made on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. To learn more visit www.clintonfcc.com/carecenter or call (217) 935-3139.

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Kids Facing New Car Seat Laws

There are some new laws to be aware of in a week including how you’re supposed to secure a child younger than two in a car. 

 

Secretary of State’s Dave Druker says the law will say you need to have those kids in a rear-facing car seat.

 

 

 

The new law is intended to improve the safety of kids in cars. Automobile crashes are the number one cause of death for children between one and 13.

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U.S. and China Will Be Face-To-Face in January

Two people familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg that U.S. officials will travel to Beijing on January seventh to talk trade with Chinese officials. 

 

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffery Gerrish will lead the Trump Administration’s team to China for the talks. A Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman did confirm that the two sides will get together in January but didn’t provide a specific date for the talks to take place. 

 

The January meeting will be the first time the two sides have held face-to-face discussions since President Trump and Chinese President Xi (Zhee) Jinping agreed to a 90-day truce during da meeting in Argentina. 

 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) did tell Bloomberg the two sides have had phone discussions since then. Bloomberg says the meeting adds to signs that the two largest economies in the world are cooling off trade tensions. Beijing recently announced a third round of tariff cuts, lowering the duties on more than 700 goods starting January first. 

 

Two people in Beijing with knowledge of the discussions told Bloomberg that China isn’t clear on exactly what the U.S. wants. President Trump has agreed to hold off on $200 billion in additional tariffs while negotiations are taking place.

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Clinton YMCA Acres for Kids to Provide Agricultural Education

The Clinton YMCA's new fundraising program will provide an educational component for the youth of the community.

 

YMCA board member Jerry Toohill indicates that there will be an unbiased plot on Route 51 that will be used to educate the children of the summer Camp Osage program.

 

 

Toohill says they hope to get the youth involved as much as possible in the plot however that may take shape.

 

 

To learn more about the program, contact the Clinton YMCA at 217-935-8307.

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Local School Leader Talks Upcoming Year Under New Governor

A central Illinois school leader believes Governor-elect JB Pritzker will continue to make education a priority when he takes office later this month.

 

Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle is the Superintendent of Warrensburg-Latham Schools and believes the incoming governor will continue to be an advocate for education, specifically the funding of Illinois schools.

 

 

Unfunded mandates have been a big burden on school districts, specifically smaller downstate schools. Dr. Kendrick-Weikle believes the State Board of Education (ISBE) will begin to loosen up on their requirements.

 

 

For many years, the lack of funding has been the biggest challenge school leaders face. Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says that is still a challenge facing schools but maybe not as big of one as in years past.

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle calls on community members, parents and students to better support teachers. She feels teachers are ridiculed more than they ever have been in recent years and it comes at them from all sorts of directions. 

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RP Lumber Remodeled Store and Expanded Inventory

Do you have any New Years resolutions to start or complete a project? If so RP Lumber in Clinton may have what you need.

 

Travis Sumner, RP Lumber store manager, indicated that they recently remodeled their store and doubled their inventory. Sumner said they have everything for the DIYers and the contractors.

 

 

Sumner said RP Lumber offers an array of services to assist with your project. Some of the services include cutting wood, mixing paint, cutting keys and more...

 

 

To check out the new store and inventory stop by 400 E. Macon St. in Clinton, one block North of the Sav-A-Lot. For more information visit rplumber.com or visit their Facebook page.

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Food Banks Struggling With Too Much Milk

A USDA program designed to buy and distribute almost $50 million in dairy products is overwhelming food pantries in Iowa and Illinois. 

 

An Associated Press article says River Bend Foodbank CEO Mike Miller says about 80,000 half-gallons of milk will be sent to food banks across the Quad City region through March. 

 

The large rise in milk donations comes from a USDA program designed to help dairy farmers caught in the middle of a trade dispute between the U.S. and several key trading partners. Retaliatory tariffs have cost American dairy farmers more than $1 billion since May.

 

The USDA is buying the milk to help dairy farmers facing low milk prices and an oversupply of milk. The USDA is distributing the milk that would have been sold overseas to food banks across the country. 


“It’s certainly helpful to farmers who are hurt by tariffs placed on their products going
into China,” Miller says. “It’s also a huge help to hungry people in our communities.” 
He says it’s challenging because milk has such a short shelf life, so it has to move quickly. Some food banks also lack adequate storage for a large number of dairy donations and don’t have a large enough staff to help distribute the milk quickly.

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