Local News

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Asking Residents to Avoid Large Gatherings

Last week DeWitt County was named to the Illinois Department of Public Health's warning list for COVID due to a recent spike in cases.

 

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department attributes the spike in cases to Labor Day gatherings. Executive Director Dave Remmert says while it sounds alarming the County made the warning list, residents are doing a good job protecting vulnerable populations from this disease as hospitalizations and fatalities are very minimal in the two-county area.

 

 

Remmert is encouraged Piatt County saw a similar spike and avoided the IDPH warning and now they are seeing case numbers stabilize again. Last week on Regional Radio News, he discussed the ebb-and-flow nature to the virus and maintains that stance despite the recent spike in cases.

 

 

Labor Day gatherings being the most likely source of the spread of this virus locally prompted Remmert to implore the public to avoid large gatherings, especially large gatherings indoors. 

 

 

Making the warning list alarmed many in the community and Remmert says that is a good thing. He hopes making the warning list will prompt action like more mask-wearing, increased awareness around social distancing, and people avoiding large gatherings.

 

 

As contact tracing efforts increase for the local agency, Remmert indicates they were able to hire three additional staff for those efforts. 

 

Last week, testing for DeWitt County dropped from 308 to 214 helping contribute to the spike in positivity rate. 

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Clinton To Look Different This Weekend as Apple n' Pork Festival Falls to COVID

Normally this week, the City of Clinton would be buzzing in preparation for tens-of-thousands of visitors for its annual Apple n' Pork Festival.

 

Thanks to COVID, nearly the entirety of the festivities are being canceled but that isn't slowing down a few groups who are forging ahead with plans to try to make something of this pandemic centered year. The CH Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum Board have decided to return to its roots. Director Joey Long says they are going to simply offer their ham n' beans and smoked ham sandwiches.

 

 

To make things safe for their volunteers and the public, the food will be served in a drive-thru fashion. Long explains they are still finalizing how they will arrange for traffic flow but those wishing to purchase meals will pull up, pay for their food, and have it delivered. 

 

 

The ham n' beans and ham sandwiches are a staple of the festival. Long points out they will be serving from 3 pm to 7 pm, or until they sell out. They will be preparing around 450 servings of food, and ham n' beans will be served by the quart. 

 

 

According to Long, follow the Apple n' Pork Festival Facebook page for details on the way they will directing traffic. Also, follow the Facebook page for updates on all things Apple n' Pork Festival. 

 

Also, this Saturday tune in to The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM and 95.9 FM WEZC, along with all Regional Radio News' online platforms including the WHOW mobile app and Amazon Alexa, for virtual coverage of the Apple n' Pork Festival. 

 

You'll hear from over a dozen groups who are annually at the Homestead grounds and set up in the community and benefit greatly from the tens-of-thousands of visitors that make tracks to Clinton for the annual festival. Groups include the Boy Scouts, the Clinton YMCA, the Clinton Am-Vets, and the Clinton Athletic Boosters among many more. 

 

Coverage Saturday begins at 10 am and will go until 6 pm.

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Clintonia Eagle Theater Closes Due to COVID

An employee at Clinton's Clintonia Eagle Theater has tested positive for COVID, imposing a shutdown of the movie theater at Kelly Court.

 

In a message posted to social media Monday, the theater is in contact with the health department about protocols to take. No indication was made about how long they would remain closed but extra disinfectant measures would be taken before reopening. 

 

The announcement noted all staff was being quarantined out of an abundance of caution. 

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Illinois Rail Safety Week Begins Today

Built on the booming railroad industry, Rail Safety Week means a lot to a Clinton native and now high-ranking law enforcement official. 

 

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police is sponsoring Rail Safety Week from September 21-27 and Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers notes Illinois Rail Safety Week is intended to increase awareness of railroad safety as it pertains to the general public.

 

 

The railroad system has had its impacts Clinton residents as some families have deep ties to the rail system many generations ago, and while the Chief cannot recall any major accidents, they do receive minor calls about individuals disregarding railroad crossing signs.

 

 

Chief Lowers reminds the public that railroad tracks are, contrary to popular belief, private property. Walking or biking along railroad tracks is illegal and unsafe.

 

 

The ties to the rail system in Illinois don't end in Clinotn - the City of Chicago has one of the country's biggest rail hubs. Chief Lowers encourages the public to view rail safety education material on the Operation Lifesaver website at www.oli.org.

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Weekly Weather Summary

Things were a little cooler this weekend. State Climatologist Trent Ford Discusses what is ahead as we hit the backstretch of September

 

 

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Heyworth Schools Leader Says A Lot is Unknown As District Prepares Budget

It's budget time for Illinois schools and a McLean County school district leader says a lot is uncertain this year as so much hangs in the balance with Governor JB Pritzker's graduated income tax proposal.

 

According to Superintendent of Heyworth Schools, Dr. Lisa Taylor, the graduated income tax proposal has strings attached and among those is school funding. Shes says overall, expenditures are flat but revenues are giving her some anxiety this year.

 

 

Dr. Taylor is frustrated by the situation that holds school funding over the heads of taxpayers. She explains in Heyworth, they already were planning to make cuts, and to not know exactly what funding will be coming their way is making the matter worse.

 

 

Evidenced-based funding was a proposal lawmakers began using just a few years ago but Dr. Taylor indicates this year that the funding model to be greatly altered, especially for her district. She indicates the evidence-based funding model, however, continues to neglect categorical payments.

 

 

Dr. Taylor says it feels as though the Governor is keeping schools and its funding hostage to get his tax reforms passed, which she calls unfair to the kids of Illinois. 

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Soybean Markets Rally

A nice rally in the soybean market last week, but not near the push in corn futures. AgriVisor’s Karl Setser says there are different dynamics in play for both commodities.

 

 

November bean futures were up 15 cents Friday and 47-and-a-half cents for the week. December corn was up three-and-a-quarter cents Friday and 10-cents for the week.

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Exploring Solar Farm Impacts on Farmland

Researchers hope to learn some of the economic, legal and community aspects and impacts of leasing solar panels and infrastructure on farmland. Rod Bain has more...

 

 

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Sen. Rose Not a Fan of Positivity Rate Metric

Yesterday, DeWitt County made the Illinois Department of Public Health's Warning List for COVID thanks to an increased positive rate.

 

Tests locally went from 308 down to 244, helping contribute to the increased positivity rate. State Senator Chapin Rose earlier in the week, unaware of the fact DeWitt County was going to show up on this week's warning list, indicated his displeasure with the positivity rate metric.

 

 

Sen. Rose believes the metrics that should be emphasized are hospitalizations and protecting vulnerable populations. Local health officials have been echoing this message for many months during the pandemic.

 

 

Sen. Rose is critical of the Governor's shift in focus in recent weeks as efforts have increased to bring back fall sports in light of many other states reversing earlier decisions. He believes we have passed giving hospitals and healthcare providers the capacity to deal with COVID and now we are focused on protecting people from themselves, something he calls an overreach. 

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Rep. Bost Supports EPA Renewable Energy Standards Announcement

The EPA this week made the decision to deny “gap year” petitions for small refinery exemptions and uphold the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

 

In July, Southern Illinois Congressman Mike Bost joined his House Biofuels Caucus colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump urging the rejection of 54 “gap year” petitions for SREs.

 

 

This decision will ensure that 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels are blended into the nation’s fuel supply.

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Second Round of CFAP Announced

A second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will begin Monday with sign-up for eligible producers. Rod Bain has the details...

 

 

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DeWitt County Makes IDPH COVID Warning List

As we head to the weekend, DeWitt County has made the Illinois Department of Public Health's warning list.

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Executive Director Dave Remmert indicates the positivity rate in DeWitt County spiked this week. He indicates the case counts locally have been gradually climbing this week.

 

 

While many point to a party at a local bar over the weekend as a probable cause of the spike in cases, Remmert indicates his staff is finding it is more likely Labor Day gatherings were the sources for transmission of COVID.

 

 

Remmert is imploring the public to avoid large gatherings, especially large indoor gatherings. He is encouraged Piatt County saw a similar spike and avoided the IDPH warning and now they are seeing case numbers stabilize again.

 

We'll have more on this story Monday on Regional Radio News. 

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DeWitt County Clerk Discusses Recent Letter from Secretary of State

Voters this week who have not applied for a mail-in ballot received from the Secretary of State's office notice there is still time to get one and a DeWitt County official indicates that set off a firestorm of worried residents.

 

DeWitt County Clerk Dana Smith tells Regional Radio News they have been inundated with phone calls from residents who are confused and wondering if this notice means precincts will be closing. Smith says this is not the case that in-person voting is still scheduled in DeWitt County.

 

 

According to Smith, early voting beings next week and is not the same as voting by mail. Smith explains early voting is done in-person and you submit your ballot like you do when you vote at a precinct.

 

 

Smith stresses locally all polling places are opening and will be for election day.

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DeLand-Weldon Schools Put Fiscal Year 2021 Budget on File

Things are looking very good at DeLand-Weldon for their annual budget.

 

Superintendent Amanda Geary says most of their fund balances are very healthy and last month put the budget on file. She explains with no major projects on the horizon, their fund balances are very healthy at this time.

 

 

According to Geary, they take a very conservative approach to budgeting and it has resulted in the district being on pace to finish in the black this year.

 

 

As the district projects to be in the black, Geary says they could use some small improvements in their buildings but she would also like to see some of their excess revenues end up in their reserves.

 

 

Geary points out, DeLand-Weldon Schools do not rely on the State of Illinois for much of their revenues. She estimates they receive about 60-percent of their annual budget comes from local revenues while 30-percent comes from the State and the other ten from federal contributions. 

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Illinois Corn Growers Talk Harvest Safety

The Illinois Corn Growers Association is reminding people about farm safety as corn harvesting begins across the state.

 

Rodney Weinzierl (WINE-zearl) is the executive director at the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

 

 

In the weekly crop report, USDA Crop Statistician Mark Schleusner says 37 percent of corn is mature and two percent has been harvested. 72 percent of the crop rated in good to excellent condition.

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IDPH Discusses Suicide Prevention Month

SEPTEMBER IS SUICIDE PREVENTION AWARENESS MONTH AND THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH SAYS THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT DURING THE PANDEMIC. 

 

MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE IN ILLINOIS TAKE THEIR OWN LIVES EACH YEAR AND SUICIDE IS THE THIRD LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR AGES 15 TO 34. STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS WHILE THERE ARE NO STATISTICS ABOUT SUICIDE RATES RELATED TO COVID-19, IT IS A CONCERN.

 

 

WHILE THERE AREN’T STATISTICS YET REGARDING COVID-19 RELATED SUICIDES, MANY OF THE ISSUES PEOPLE ARE FACING NOW SUCH AS JOB LOSS, FINANCIAL PROBLEMS AND SOCIAL ISOLATION ARE RISK FACTORS.

 

 

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS FEELING HOPELESS AND HAVING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, EZIKE ENCOURAGES YOU TO CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE AT: 1-800-273-TALK.

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DCFS Reminds Mandated Reporters to Be On Lookout for Abuse, Neglect

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS REMINDING MANDATED REPORTERS THAT IT'S ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW TO WATCH KIDS FOR SIGNS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT.

 

AS SOME ACTIVITIES AND FACILITIES HAVE OPENED BACK UP...D-C-F-S ACTING DIRECTOR MARC SMITH SAYS THOSE REQUIRED BY LAW TO REPORT SIGNS OF ABUSE LIKE TEACHERS, DAYCARE PROVIDERS AND DOCTORS SHOULD KEEP AN EXTRA CLOSE EYE ON CHILDREN.

 

 

SMITH SAYS EVERYONE SHOULD PAY CLOSE ATTENTION.

 

 

D-C-F-S HAS A NEW ONLINE REPORTING FORM ON ITS WEBPAGE OR YOU CAN CALL THE STATE'S HOTLINE AT: 1-800-25-ABUSE. SMITH URGES ANYONE WHO SEES SOMETHING, TO SAY SOMETHING.

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Sen. Rose Sounds Off on Governor's Sports Decisions

A state lawmaker is sounding off on Governor JB Pritzker's handling of the high school sports situation.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, State Sen. Chapin Rose told Regional Radio News Governor Pritzker not allowing high school sports to be played is the latest example of him moving the goalposts and now shifting to a focus of protecting people from themselves.

 

 

According to the Senator, we are moving past providing nursing homes and assisted living facilities with the capacity to deal with COVID and we are starting to cause real harm to people.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker says he is listening to scientists and watching the science of the situation but Sen. Rose contends the science shows outdoor transmission is almost non-existent. He calls the Governor "a record player".

 

 

Sen. Rose believes parents and kids need to be able to decide for themselves if they want to play and not have the government intervening for them. 

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Friends of Warner Library Offering 'Grab Bag' Book Sale

Last week, the Friends of the Warner Library kicked off a book sale campaign to help supplement losses from annual fundraisers that were lost this year.

 

Samantha Rusk is the Business Manager at Warner Library in Clinton and indicates the Friends of the Warner Library are offering a 'Grab Bag' book sale to help supplement the losses from their spring and fall book sales this year due to the COVID pandemic. 

 

 

According to Rusk, the Friends of the Library raise money to help support the many things the library does during the year. She explains much of the costs for the summer reading club comes from the Friends of the Library.

 

 

Bags of books are $1 and can be purchased during regular business hours. Rusk notes they have a wide variety of book and plenty to sell. Stop by the library at 310 North Quincy Street or visit vwarner.org and find the library on Facebook for more information. 

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Up and Down Nature of COVID Playing Itself Out in DeWitt, Piatt Counties at Smaller Scale

The coronavirus has ebbed and flowed across the country and it is playing out that way locally.

 

Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Dave Remmert says the nature of this virus has been up and down in many parts of the United States and it is playing itself out that way locally but on a smaller scale. At the start of the week, there were 50 active cases combined between DeWitt and Piatt Counties.

 

 

The trends continue to be in people that do not require hospitalization and everyone is recovering. Remmert points out the death attributed to DeWitt County is still perplexing and there have been a few other individuals that have been removed from the case counts.

 

 

According to Remmert, as cases begin to crop up in the schools in the two-county area, they are not seeing many youths getting COVID and kids are not getting it at school.

 

 

Remmert recognizes the coronavirus is a very contagious disease and believes the focus of the impact of the virus is through hospitalization and fatality figures. He notes locally, those numbers are not significant. 

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Monticello Chamber Rolls Out Chamber Bucks Match Program

If you buy gift cards to a Monticello business, thanks to a local bank, you can receive up to a $25 match in Monticello Chamber bucks.

 

The program is thanks to First State Bank of Monticello who received a grant to help stimulate the local economy by matching any gift card purchase up to $25 to local businesses in Chamber bucks. Monticello Chamber Executive Director Shelly Crawford-Stock indicates the program is open to anyone in any community.

 

 

According to Crawford-Stock, when you purchase a gift card form a Monticello business, take it to First State Bank of Monticello and they will match your gift card purchase of up to $25 in Chamber bucks.

 

 

During the final quarter of the year, the Monticello Chamber is focused on pushing the message of supporting local businesses as many are still in recovery mode from the impacts of the pandemic. 

 

Visit monticellochamber.org or makeitmonticello.com for more information on the gift card match program. You can also find the Monticello Chamber of Commerce of Make it Monticello on Facebook. 

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One New Student, Teacher COVID Case in Clinton Schools This Week

As Clinton schools ascend towards the one-month mark of their school year, a new student COVID case and a new teacher COVID case was discovered this week.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles tells Regional Radio News that brings their total to five cumulative in the student body and two among teachers.

 

 

Earlier this week, Principals of each building in the district updated Regional Radio listeners of how the year has gone so far and Nettles indicates, from what he has seen, things are going as well as those leaders described. He points out he shared many concerns the community had leading up to school.

 

 

While districts surrounding Clinton are forced to temporarily close their doors, Nettles indicates there is not a threshold for cases or even quarantined number of students but he believes if that time comes, they will know when it happens.

 

 

According to Nettles, it is on families of students and teachers to act responsibly away from the school building. Students are in the buildings for five hours of the 24 hour day and he points out that responsibility also applies to him.

 

 

The latest case in the student resulted in less than ten students having to isolate. 

 

This is the fourth week of school in Clinton Schools. 

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What Impacts Will Latest Tropical Storm Have on Illinois Weather

Another tropical storm is affecting the Gulf Coast. What impact will the system have on Illinois weather? Bryce Anderson is a meteorologist with DTN.

 

 

Hurricane Sally should make landfall early Wednesday morning near the Mississippi-Alabama state line. The winds have decreased to 85 miles an hour and the National Hurricane Center is not expecting much change in the storm's strength before it comes ashore.

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Gov. Pritzker Says State, Municipal Workers Could Be Laid Off If Federal Aid Isn't Passed

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS IF ILLINOIS DOESN’T GET FEDERAL AID…MANY STATE AND CITY JOBS MAY BE LOST. 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS HIS STATE AGENCY DIRECTORS ARE IDENTIFYING FIVE PERCENT CUTS THAT COULD BE MADE IF CONGRESS DOESN’T APPROVE AN AID PACKAGE. HE SAYS CITIES AND COUNTIES WILL BE HURTING TOO, INCLUDING IN PUBLIC SAFETY.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS NO FEDERAL HELP MAY MEAN THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE FURLOUGHED OR LAID OFF.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE’S ASKED HIS CABINET MEMBERS TO IDENTIFY FIVE PERCENT CUTS ACROSS ALL STATE AGENCIES THAT COULD BE MADE IF NECESSARY.

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Clinton Board of Education Gets Update on Remote Learners

A month into a school year that will look different most likely the entirety of the year, the Clinton Board of Education Tuesday night at the regular Board of Education meeting received an update on how those students that opted for remote learning were doing.

 

The district offered remote learners a grace period of early September to opt back into the in-person option and Superintendent Curt Nettles indicates over 30 students returned to in-person learning after initially selecting remote learning.

 

 

According to Nettles, there have been some issues for remote learners but he believes they are getting those worked out and credits their administration and support staff for being available to those families that need further assistance.

 

 

Another issue being worked through for district staff is how much interaction there is with remote learning students. Nettles explains K-5 there is a little more involvement for those teachers but 6-12 there is almost none. 

 

 

Tuesday night the Board of Education approved the Fiscal Year 2021 budget and approved the issuance of refinanced bonds for approximately $6.37-million. 

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