Local News

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Discusses COVID Latest

Cases continue to spike locally however, local metrics are very strong compared to other parts of the area.

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert indicates cases are continuing to rise locally but he continues to monitor fatalities and hospitalizations. He also believes it is good to compare how DeWitt and Piatt Counties are doing compared to other parts of the state. 

 

 

According to Remmert, DeWitt and Piatt County have much lower incidence rates, hospitalization rates, and fatality rates than surrounding counties. And that is encouraging to him.

 

 

Monticello High School and Clinton High School went remote last week and will remain in remote learning this week. Remmert believes shutting down a building for a couple of weeks is a good thing to get the situation under control but stands with superintendents that do not want to go back to remote learning full-time.

 

 

According to Health Department data, Piatt County has the area's lowest incidence rate while DeWitt County is third. Piatt County's zero fatalities mark the area's lowest death rate while DeWitt County comes in fifth behind Champaign County, Logan County, and McLean County. 

 

Remmert says he will try to provide this data about once a week on top of the several-times-a-week frequency with which they publish their other data. 

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Blue Ridge To Allow All Students Back, Four Days Per Week Starting in Early November

The Blue Ridge Board of Education last week decided to allow remote-learners to return to their school building starting Wednesday, November 4.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Hilary Stanifer indicated they received feedback from their community and found there was an overwhelming amount of support for bringing back remote learners.

 

 

Given the increased cases in Illinois and across the nation, Dr. Stanifer recognizes the timing may not seem ideal but she indicates she has been listening to the officials with the health department and watching a lot of the data and feels this is a decision that is best for their community.

 

 

Many remote learners in the Blue Ridge district indicated in a survey they would like to return and expressed issues with the remote learning setting. Dr. Stanifer points out that wasn't everyone and notes there were opinions all over the spectrum.

 

 

According to Dr. Stanifer, the bus routes will all change because 20 more students will be rejoining the student population on top of re-integrating their learners on alternate days from their peers. Additionally, parents will be asked to self-certify the health of their students before they come to school each day, and students in K-6 will remain in the classrooms while the teachers will move from classroom to classroom. At the junior high school, kids will move from classroom to classroom and teachers will sanitize all the desks between periods. She calls it a lot of extra work to make sure kids will be safe.

 

Tuesday was the final day for parents and students to decide to return to in-person learning for the remainder of the semester. 

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Clinton YMCA Acres for Kids in its Second Year

In the second year of the YMCA's Acres for Kids program, the Clinton YMCA is helping to reconnect the community to agriculture while also supporting local youth. 

 

Darren Moser, who serves on the Clinton YMCA Board, indicates Acres for Kids is designed to help bridge the gap left by donations to the annual Strong Kids fundraising campaign. Producers plant donated seed and the profit is then donated to the YMCA.

 

 

Moser notes the efforts from producers can go a long way in the community. One bag of beans will provide one child with swim lessons for a year and one bag of corn is equivalent to one family membership.

 

 

In addition to partnering with producers, Acres for Kids also provides agricultural education to the children who attend the Y's summer program, Camp Osage. Rennie Cluver, YMCA Executive Director, says they wanted to offer an educational opportunity and so the kids learn where their food comes from.

 

 

Moser notes along Route 10 is an Acres for Kids plot. The plot is nonbiased and allows for advertising for the program and the different seed varieties available for producers in the program.

 

 

For producers and landowners who would like to participate in Acres for Kids for 2021, you can call the Clinton YMCA at (217) 935-8307. Moser indicates their participation from year one to year two grew and is hoping to continue that growth as they continue to gain momentum in the ag community. 

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Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Program Director Discusses Recent Changes

Things at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum are going great all things considered, according to the Director of Public Programs and Community Engagement Joe Crain. 

 

Crain explains they are doing their best to adjust to COVID and make things work and welcome back the public. He indicates they have been opened since July. 

 

 

Like so many other public venues, if you want to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, you need to visit President-Lincoln-dot-Illinois-dot-gov to reserve your timed ticket.

 

 

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum last week launched a brand new website, President-Lincoln-dot-Illinois-dot-gov, that Crain says is a lot more user friendly.

 

 

According to Crain, there are also a variety of exciting exhibits upcoming at the Museum,. 

 

 

Library hours are currently 9 am through 4:30 pm with museum hours 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. And again, their website is presidentlincoln.illinois.gov. 

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Weekly Crop Report

THE STATE FINALLY SAW SOME RAIN LAST WEEK, SLOWING HARVEST PROGRESS A BIT. 

 

RAINFALL WAS MORE THAN INCH ABOVE NORMAL THIS PAST WEEK, WHICH WAS WELCOME NEWS FOR PASTURES, WINTER WHEAT AND COVER CROPS. CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER SAYS THERE WERE ABOUT FOUR DAYS SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK.

 

 

89 PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS BEEN PLANTED. 

 

 

AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE IMPROVED TO SEVEN PERCENT VERY SHORT, 17 PERCENT SHORT, 71 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND FIVE PERCENT SURPLUS.

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McCormick Place Field Hospital Not Expected to Be Needed According to Governor

Months ago the state and the city of Chicago stood up a field hospital inside of McCormick Place. But those beds weren’t really needed, and the facility was taken down without seeing much use.

 

Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says as it stands now other mitigations and more understanding from the medical community should mean that a McCormick Place field hospital won’t be brought back.

 

 

Of all the extra bed capacity that the state was ready to bring on-line, only one facility remains “warm”, that is in suburban Cook County.

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Illinois Department of Ag Acting Director Hoping for In-Person State Fair in 2021

It’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s Illinois State Fair, especially after this year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic. Jerry Costello is acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

 

 

The Farm Progress Show is also set to return to Decatur in 2021 and Costello is hoping for an in-person event.

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Congresswoman Bustos Discusses Election Security

Evidence strongly indicates that Russia and Iran have already begun to attempt to influence the November election. China as well is considered a threat on this front. Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos says these attacks on the November election include directly attempting to intimidate voters into changing the way they vote...

 

 

Bustos also stated that social media is a major target of Russia, Iran and China where they hope to help sow division via fake accounts aimed at stirring up partisan rhetoric.

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DeWitt County Board Discusses Future of Clinton Lake Acreage at Marina

Around four parcels of land totaling 150 acres at Clinton Lake has long been targeted for development and when the economy hit a snag in 2008, the possibility of development fell with it.

 

Thursday night at the DeWitt County Board meeting, Chairperson of the Marina Committee, Jay Wickenhauser approached the board about approving an appraisal of around 75 acres for $1,000.

 

 

Lance Reece wondered if getting an appraisal would be worth the money because in a few years it would be outdated. State's Attorney Dan Markwell pointed out marina operator Joe Caldwell would be the first to have the right of refusal when the property could be sold next in two years.

 

 

According to Wickenhauser, there has been an offer made to purchase the marina. Reece questioned selling the marina and Wickenhauser noted that was why they were looking at selling they were want to get an appraisal of the acreage adjacent to the marina and perhaps selling that.

 

 

Dan Matthews wants to put a plan in place before anything goes up for sale or any appraisals are done. He believes the property is valuable to the marina.

 

 

Melonie Tilley points out it was the mid-2000s when the County explored selling the property and spent a considerable amount of money to do so. Matthews believes the County should come up with a long-term plan for the property.

 

 

The Board decided to not move forward with the appraisal of the 75 acres. 

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Clinton Administrators Discuss Navigating School Year Under COVID

Tuesday night at the Clinton Board of Education meeting, Clinton school building leaders made short presentations on the things happening in their buildings during COVID.

 

Students have been back to classes for nine weeks and administrators shared some of the stories and Douglas and Lincoln Schools Principal Beth Wickenhauser says her focus has been on professional development and specifically finding out what teachers wanted.

 

 

According to Clinton Elementary School Principal Sacha Young, she wanted to know what the COVID slide was like. After some assessments of their students, they found they were not as far behind as they had thought they might be, and she found that to be encouraging.

 

 

The block-schedule at the junior high school has worked out well. Principal Jim Peck says that allowed them to expand the amount of classroom time. Additionally, the opportunities and programs in their building benefited from the block schedule. 

 

 

According to high school principal Jerry Wayne, the mental health first aid training their kids took last year has paid off. He explains they are trying to be proactive in making their students aware of the resources available and continuing the messaging of, quote - "it is ok to not be ok."

 

 

Clinton High School shut down due to COVID contact tracing this week, however, the rest of the school buildings have now been in session nine consecutive weeks. 

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Piatt County Mental Health Center Day Service Update

The Illinois Department of Human Services has allowed day services to reopen under strict guidelines and some area providers are taking different approaches bringing those folks back.

 

Tony Kirkman, Executive Director of Piatt County Mental Health Center, indicates over the past two months, they have been able to bring back some of their day service clients.

 

 

Kirkman says a problem for the state of Illinois is how to provide funding for day services so consumers can return once the pandemic ceases.

 

 

Kirkman notes many of their clients and their families report increased anxiety, depression, and social isolation. For many, they have been sheltering in place since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

 

For more information on the Piatt County Mental Health Service's day services, visit their website: www.piattmhc.org.

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State Launches Effort to Get Taxpayers to Take Advantage of Earned Income Tax Credit

THE STATE IS LAUNCHING AN EFFORT TO GET MORE TAXPAYERS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT.

 

THE INITIATIVE TARGETS OVER 22-THOUSAND ILLINOISANS WHO QUALIFY FOR, BUT DID NOT CLAIM THE CREDIT SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESPERSON SAM SALUSTRO.

 

 

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE WILL BE EMAILING HOUSEHOLDS THAT QUALIFY WITH CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS FOR APPLYING FOR THE CREDIT SAYS SALUSTRO.

 

 

SALUSTRO SAYS MOST HOUSEHOLDS ARE ELIGIBLE FOR BOTH THE FEDERAL AND STATE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT IF THEY EARN LESS THAN 56-THOUSAND DOLLARS. FAMILIES CAN RECEIVE UP TO 65-HUNDRED FOR THE FEDERAL CREDIT AND 11-HUNDRED FOR THE ILLINOIS CREDIT.

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State Fire Marshall's Office Urges Safety When Decorating for Halloween

THE ILLINOIS STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE IS ENCOURAGING THE PUBLIC TO KEEP SAFETY IN MIND WHEN DECORATING FOR FALL AND HALLOWEEN. 

 

TO ENSURE YOU HAVE A SAFE TRICK OR TREATING AND FALL SEASON, FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ RECOMMENDS BEING CAREFUL WITH CANDLES AND CHOOSING COSTUMES THAT DON'T HAVE A LOT OF TRAILING FABRIC.

 

 

ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION, AN AVERAGE OF 770 HOME STRUCTURE FIRES BEGIN WITH DECORATIONS THAT WERE TOO CLOSE TO A HEAT SOURCE EACH YEAR ACROSS THE U-S.

 

 

FULTZ SAYS YOU ALSO NEED TO BE CAREFUL WITH DRIED FLOWERS, CORNSTALKS AND CREPE PAPER WHICH CAN CATCH FIRE EASILY. STAY AWAY FROM LONG TRAILING FABRIC ON HALLOWEEN COSTUMES WHICH CAN ALSO CATCH ON FIRE AND TEACH KIDS TO STAY AWAY FROM OPEN FLAMES.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was an unseasonably warm day Thursday followed by some rainstorms that ushered in cooler temperatures. Things are looking to be more seasonable over the weekend and in the week ahead says state climatologist Trent Ford...

 

 

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Clinton High School Extends Remote Learning To Nov. 4

Clinton High School students will have to wait until Nov. 4 to return to class.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles says they have no good reason to bring students back and with an already high number of students have to quarantine, they felt it was best to continue remote learning until Nov. 4. He adds, Nov. 4 was chosen because there are no classes on Nov. 2 and the State has designated election day as a state holiday.

 

 

According to Nettles, the district is at 19 cumulative cases of COVID across the district with eight originating from the high school and then four from the junior high school.

 

 

Nettles understands the frustration of parents during these situations and indicates it is frustrating to them as well. He appreciates the cooperation from the community and how hard their staff is working to keep kids safe while they are in school.

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DeWitt County DOVE Advocate Discusses Victims Escaping Abusive Situations

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and DeWitt County DOVE is hoping the public will take some time and become more aware of what victims face when trying to escape their abusers.

 

Jennifer Tolladay with DeWitt County DOVE tells Regional Radio News it can take a victim seven to ten attempts to leave their abusers and oftentimes face shocking, even heinous, efforts of control and monitoring.

 

 

As victims are now able to get out and see friends, family, and coworkers as the COVID lockdowns begin to ease, Tolladay says they have seen a huge increase in their cases escalating. She indicates that was not unexpected due to the nature of the lockdowns and the lack of contact with people that would take notice of something wrong with an individual in these circumstances.

 

 

The DOVE 24/7 hotline is 217-935-6072 or their office line is 217-935-6619.

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Sen. Durbin Discusses Stimulus Package

US Senator Dick Durbin says the reality of a new COVID relief package making it out of the Senate isn’t looking good.

 

Durbin says that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that another round of support will face a certain end in the Senate.

 

 

Senate Democrats say that the Head of the Federal Reserve says it would be tragic to not pass support for the economy.

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Sen. Durbin Talks Coney-Barrett

As the US Senate gets closer to voting on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court one Senator in Illinois says it can be stopped but Democrat Dick Durbin says his party can’t do it on their own.

 

 

Barrett is a step closer to the nomination after being approved by the Senate Judicial Committee this week.

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Gov. Pritzker Decrees State Police to Help With COVID Mitigation Enforcement

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE STRICTER COVID-19 MITIGATIONS PLACED ON SOME REGIONS OF THE STATE WILL BE ENFORCED. 

 

SOME OF THE NEW RESTRICTIONS NOW AFFECTING FOUR ILLINOIS REGIONS INCLUDE NO INDOOR DINING OR BAR SERVICES, AND GATHERINGS ARE LIMITED TO 25 PEOPLE OR LESS. THE GOVERNOR SAYS IT'S IMPORTANT FOR BUSINESSES AND THE PUBLIC TO FOLLOW THESE RULES.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE HAS BEEN ALERTED TO THE NEW RULES NOW AFFECTING FOUR OUT OF 11 ILLINOIS REGIONS. HE SAYS TROOPERS WILL START WITH WARNINGS TO VIOLATORS, BUT CAN ALSO ISSUE CITATIONS. THE STATE MAY ALSO TAKE AWAY A BAR OR RESTAURANT'S LIQUOR LICENSE.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS BARS AND RESTAURANTS STILL FAILING TO COMPLY COULD LOSE THEIR LIQUOR LICENSE, WHICH COULD BE HARD TO GET BACK IF REGULATIONS AREN'T BEING FOLLOWED.

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Chicago Public Health Commissioner Says Families Need to Worry About Stopping COVID Spread at Home

As coronavirus cases continue to rise around the state, health officials want people to do more to stop the spread of the virus.

 

Allison Arwardy, the Public Health Commissioner in for Chicago says spread isn’t happening as much as you’d think in public places. It’s in homes and areas you feel safe. She says you can’t let your guard down because of the surroundings you find yourself in. You need to protect yourself no matter where you are.

 

 

Arwardy says that guidance is especially focused on individuals receiving home health care and repair work.

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DeWitt County Board Puts Budget On File With Minimal Tax Increases

The uncertainty after COVID along with challenges like adjustments in the court fines and fees structures and increases in minimum wage made this year's DeWitt County budgeting process exceedingly difficult.

 

Thursday night, the DeWitt County Board and Finance Chair Camille Redman presented the Board and the public with the budget and she says it comes with minimal tax increases in the county rate and from the ambulance services.

 

 

DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg calls it a great budget and Redman credits Administrator DeeDee Rentmeister. Newberg also points out there are agreements with all the unions and raises in anticipation of the mandated minimum wage.

 

 

Newberg indicates this budget didn't come without its challenges and credits board member Terry Ferguson for his foresight to file the third-quarter report with the landfill.

 

 

Newberg will be in studio Friday morning to discuss the budget and many other items of discussion from the Thursday night meeting, including....

 

>>The Board postponed an appraisal of the 75 acres of timber on Clinton Lake. This part of the 600 acres of Clinton Lake that has been the topic of development in recent years.

 

>>The Board approved the purchase of laptops to be used with the CARES funding from the federal government from the COVID stimulus plan.

 

>>The Board set a special meeting for Tuesday evening that will take place virtually for several motions related to the Alta Farms II wind farm. Those include a motion to approve the wind farm construction observation contractor scope of services agreement, a motion to approve the building permit review contractor scope of services agreement, a motion to approve the DeWitt County insurance agreement, and a motion to approve a sound study consultant agreement. 

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Clinton YMCA To Offer Winter Sports Clinics

Due to COVID restrictions, winter programming at the YMCA will look different this year but they will still be able to offer sports camps to area youth.

 

Youth Program Director David Torbert tells Regional Radio News the winter programming will be similar to the fall programming in that they will not be able to offer competitions, so their focus will be on skill development.

 

 

Similar to the fall sports, Torbert is excited to again have the collaboration of the high school athletic department. He says both the high school boys and girls basketball coaches have wanted to get involved and be a part of these programs.

 

 

Health screenings and masks will be a part of this year's clinics. Torbert says they want to create an environment of safety for everyone that comes out.

 

 

Get more information by stopping into the YMCA at 417 South Alexander Street in Clinton and by visiting clintoncommymca.org. Torbert says registration will be left open until the start of the program on Nov. 2. 

 

He adds boys clinics will be Mondays and Tuesday while girls will do camps on Thursdays and Fridays. They will also be broken down by age group with 3rd through 5th graders going from 6 pm to 7 pm and 6th through 8th graders going from 7 pm to 8 pm. 

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Monticello High School to Remain in Remote Learning Until Nov. 4

Monticello High School students will remain in remote learning until November 4 district administration announced Thursday afternoon.

 

Dr. Vic Zimmerman on Twitter announced six students have tested positive for COVID and 35 are in quarantine. 

 

The first quarter is scheduled to end on Oct. 30 and with no school, Nov. 2-3, students will return to the building on Nov. 4. 

 

Over the weekend, the decision was made to turn to remote learning due to slow contact tracing efforts at the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department. 

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Mt. Pulaski Schools Exploring Expanding School Day

Despite COVID numbers increasing in Illinois and other parts of the country, central Illinois school leaders are exploring bringing students back to school on a more full-time basis.

 

Mt. Pulaski school is among those exploring furthering the school day and Superintendent Fred Lamkey says their building leadership team is exploring extending their school day into the afternoon hours. Currently, students are in-person in the morning hours and remotely in the afternoon.

 

 

While COVID cases in Illinois and other parts of the country begin to surge, Lamkey says it is a reminder that the mitigation efforts like masking and physical distancing are going to be necessary to make a return to school on a more full-time basis successful.

 

 

According to Lamkey, as the cold and flu season ascends upon us, his approach is to take things a day at a time and utilize what they have done in the past for what could be the most challenging part of the school year.

 

 

When the district surveyed parents over the summer about how they wanted to proceed with the school year, Lamkey indicates 99-percent said they wanted to be in-person. Around 16 total kids are doing remote learning in their district.

 

 

Lamkey credits the community, their teachers and staff, and the students for the work they have done in making the policies in place work and allowing them to stay in school and explore the possibility of expanding their school day. 

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Monticello Expands Grant Programs for Downtown Businesses

Downtown Monticello business owners will soon be able to take advantage of an expanded grant opportunity through the City for things like roof repairs and tuck-pointing.

 

Callie McFarland is the Director of Community Development for the City of Monticello and explains they are expanding on a couple of grant opportunities already in place. The current grants were very limited, calling them 'putting lipstick on a pig'.

 

 

McFarland explains there are some small changes to the program. The window for construction is now shorter and the program is run through the City Council. She notes they are hoping to rally interest in the program as the first application period begins in December.

 

 

According to McFarland, there is a review committee comprised of several different entities. She says the process has been streamlined to make sure there are more details in an application and projects get done quicker.

 

 

McFarland points anyone with questions to the City website, cityofmonticello.net or to contact them at 217-762-2583. 

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