Local News

Clinton Chamber of Commerce Hosts Annual Dinner

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual dinner Saturday night at the Clinton Country Club.


Chamber Board President Ed Cicenas highlighted the previous year of activities for the Chamber. From a great Business Expo last March to another successful May Days event, the Chamber's biggest fundraiser, the haunted house, remains very successful.



Cicenas is excited about the year ahead. Saturday night kicked off the Chamber's annual raffle for the year and he looks forward to positive changes to some of its events.



According to Cicenas, the Chamber of Commerce is looking to revamp its website this year and the benefits for its members.



The Clinton Chamber also announced the winners of its annual awards. 


The non-profit of the year award went to the Clinton Eagles.


The small business of the year award, which is between 1 and 11 employees, went to Sweet Mae's Ice Cream Shoppe.


The medium business of the year, for businesses with 12 to 75 employees, went to Calvert Funeral Home.


The large business of the year was Baum Chevrolet Buick/Baum Chrysler Jeep in Clinton. 



Photos courtesy of EMC Photography.

Space Running Out for Warner Hospital Foundation's Popular Fundraising Event

The Warner Hospital Foundation has found something in its annual spring fundraiser and space for this weekend's big event is quickly running out.


On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Executive Director of the Warner Hospital Foundation, Curt Homann told Regional Radio, the Foundation's annual GloBingo event is this weekend and they are hoping for an even bigger event this year.



Glo-bingo.com is the website to purchase those tickets online or you can call the Warner Hospital office and ask for Melissa to get those directly from the Hospital. 

DNR Conducts Controlled Burns at Weldon Springs

In the last week, the Department of Natural Resources has conducted controlled burns of its land in DeWitt County. 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, DNR Conservation Police Capt. John Williamson tells Regional Radio the controlled burn for parts of Weldon Springs is part of a plan to control invasive species and their spread. 



According to Williamson, controlled burns are very effective because they do not kill off living vegetation. He notes it makes for good fertilizer for the natural grasses you want to grow.



Capt. Williamson says activity at Clinton Lake is starting to pick up with the nice weather outside. We've got plenty more coming with him in the days and weeks ahead on Regional Radio. 



Women in Ag Conference later this month


The meeting season continues. The Women in Agriculture Conference is set for Friday, March 22 at Bally’s Quad Cities in Rock Island. Bureau County Manager Jill Frueh helps organize the day.



More info at Womeninagricultureconference.com.

DEA offers parental toolkits

The Drug Enforcement Agency wants you to know they are about more than just catching the bad guys. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Dixon says they have toolkits available to help you educate your kids about the dangers of drug use.



He says the toolkits are good for teachers or anyone that comes into contact with children. Dixon reminds that while marijuana has been decriminalized at the state level, it is still legal at the federal level.

Pritzker react to Supreme Court ruling on Trump ballot issue



A ruling from the Supreme Court prohibits states from using the 14th Amendment to bar candidates from appearing on ballots for election.


The decision was directed at a case from Colorado, but should impact a judge’s ruling on Donald Trump being on the primary ballot in Illinois.


Governor JB Pritzker says he expects the former President to be on the ballot in Illinois.



The state’s primary election is March 19.

Clinton Police Looking to Get Jump on Vehicle Ordering Process

The Clinton Police Department is hoping to get a jump on purchasing vehicles in its next cycle of purchases.


Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers explains they are set to receive two new vehicles this spring but they are almost a year late getting them. 



While the next vehicle purchasing cycle is still a little ways off for the department, Chief Lowers explains they wanted to get a jump on those vehicle purchases. Last month, the Clinton City Council approved the department to purchase two new vehicles, and the Chief notes that will allow them to purchase those when they become available.



Mostly gone by the wayside are police riding around in sedan-style vehicles and now police vehicles are much larger. Chief Lowers says these new vehicles are much more equipped to handle all the equipment an officer requires but they seem to be minimizing the wear on the bodies of the officers themselves.



Chief Lowers adds - they are going to be selling off two of its vehicles as they add new vehicles to the fleet.

March is Frozen Food Month

March is Frozen Food Month and a University of Illinois Nutrition Educator has a wealth of information on a variety of food preservation through freezing.


Caitlin Mellendorf is a Nutrition Educator at the University of Illinois Extension in DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. If you are making any more soups still this year, you can preserve any extra ingredients by freezing them.



Mellendorf explains as we start to transition away from the soup season, you can preserve those for another time by freezing them. She points out you may notice the textures of some of the ingredients of various soups won't be the same when you thaw them.



According to Mellendorf, the other method of freezing is the preservation of fruits and vegetables. She explains while the canning season is mostly behind us, you can preserve extra meat in the freezer and pull it out later when you need it.



Keep to Regional Radio as over the next several weeks, we'll continue to hear from Mellendorf on the variety of freezing foods talking points she recently presented with us. 


In the meantime, for more information on food preservation by freezing, visit extension.illinois.edu/dmp for more information and advice from experts like Mellendorf. 

University of Illinois Professor Studying Nursing Shortage

The state of Illinois is facing a nursing shortage. 


University of Illinois Professor, Dr. Robert Bruno is the co-author of a new study that indicates that 34% of current Illinois nurses are considering leaving the profession due to what the study calls, Unsafe Staffing, that is to say, understaffing and overwork.



The study titled Illinois Nursing in Crisis was published by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and is available on EPI's website.

Illinois Farm Bureau Continues Push for Permanent Farm Bill

Illinois Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau continue to push for a permanent Farm Bill. IFB Executive Director of Governmental Affairs and Commodities Kevin Semlow.



Illinois has five reps on the House Ag Committee—Democrats Eric Sorenson, Nikki Budzinski, and Jonathan Jackson; and Republicans Mike Bost and Mary Miller.

Sen. Duckworth Wants Federal Law to Shield Women, Families Who Use Victro Fertilization

US Senator Tammy Duckworth wants a federal law to shield women and families who are using in vitro fertilization.


Sen. Duckworth is seeking federal protections after an Alabama Supreme Court decision upended the process in that state. Her efforts failed Wednesday after a Republican Senator from Mississippi objected to the bill and blocked it from passing. Sen. Duckworth says women’s reproductive rights are under attack.



After the ruling, several clinics closed in Alabama. The bill would have federally protected the right to IVF and other fertility treatments.

Scovill Zoo Undergoing Leadership Transition

The Scovill Zoo in Decatur is in the midst of a leadership transition.


On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Executive Director Ken Frye told Regional Radio he is transitioning out of the Executive Director's role to a new role within the Decatur Park District.



Heather Purdeu will become the next Executive Director of the Zoo and she has been with the zoo for over 25 years in various capacities. She looks forward to stepping into the Executive Director position.



Purdeu says one of her favorite parts of working at the zoo is interacting with the public and promoting conservation. 


The transition for the zoo will become official in April. 


The Scovill Zoo opens for the season on March 30. Visit scovillzoo.com or find them on Facebook for more information on the season ahead. 

This Week is Severe Weather Preparedness Week

This week is severe weather preparedness week.


Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln is encouraging Illinoisans to have those severe weather plans updated as we move closer to the most active of the storm seasons.



Shimon reminds us of the differences between watches and warnings when they are issued by the National Weather Service.



Keep up with the latest in weather forecasts by visiting weather.gov/lincoln. Also, keep it tuned to Regional Radio for the latest information in watches and warnings as they are issued by the National Weather Service.

Clinton Rotary Club Hosting "Charity Mania" Fundraiser

The Clinton Rotary Club's "charity mania" fundraiser is quickly coming to a close.


President Tim Holl explains this is a fundraiser where individuals buy a ticket and each ticket is essentially a bracket for the NCAA tournament.



According to Holl, the fundraiser will help support funds for a new scholarship the Rotary has established in honor of long-time Rotarian Phil Lamkin, who passed away earlier this year.



Holl indicates they dropped off all their scholarship information to the Clinton High School guidance office late this week. You can also email Holl at tmholl@gmail.com for more information on that scholarship.

DeWitt County Sheriff's Office Purchases Drones

The DeWitt County Sheriff's Office has purchased a pair of new electronics that they hope will help them better respond to certain emergencies in the future.


Sheriff Mike Walker tells Regional Radio on the WHOW Morning Show they have purchased a pair of drones that they are currently in the process of getting staff trained to operate. He explains having the department's own drones is going to make for better response times for some emergencies.



According to Sheriff Walker, there are many circumstances they could use these drones for and they have a lot of great features that will not hold up the primary uses but help with an overall investigation of certain crimes. 



The Sheriff explains these were purchased in response to last year's events in Kenney but he notes, that isn't the only instance they've encountered where a drone would have been beneficial.



Sheriff Walker points out drones are becoming increasingly popular among local law enforcement agencies and last year, Illinois passed laws around their use. The Sheriff notes there are a lot of rules and regulations they have to follow when using a drone to respond to emergencies. 

Local Students Reaching Milestones for Business Startups

Central Illinois high school students in a unique business class are hitting milestones as they embark on starting their own businesses.


The Central Illinois and Sangamon Valley chapters of the CEO programs are starting the process of securing funding for their business startups. Melanie Brown is the facilitator for the Central Illinois CEO program and explains the next few weeks are significant for her students.



For the Sangamon Valley CEO program, this was a big for them. Facilitator Lisa Sheppard explains this week they did individual business pitches to secure funding.



Once the students receive funding for their businesses, they will continue the hard work to get the business off the ground and have it ready for the trade show in May. Sheppard is excited about the businesses her group of students is working on.



The Central Illinois CEO program will hold its trade show on May 1 from 5 to 7 pm at Hickory Point Mall in Forsyth. The Central Illinois CEO program brings in students from Blue Ridge, Clinton, Maroa-Forsyth, and Warrensburg-Latham schools. You can learn more about their chapter by visiting centralillinoisceo.com, or find them on Facebook and Instagram.


The Sangamon Valley CEO program welcomes students from Argent-Oreana, Bement, Cerro Gordo, Deland-Weldon, and Monticello schools. You can learn more about them by visiting sangamonvalleyceo.com, or find them on Facebook and YouTube. 

Richland Community College Working Through Network Disruption

On February 17, 2024, Richland Community College experienced a network security incident that disrupted its systems. 


Upon learning of this issue, the college's IT security team immediately initiated comprehensive security measures to assess the interruption. As part of this investigation, the Decatur-based school is working closely with external cybersecurity professionals to restore normal operations as quickly as possible.


This incident required Richland to shut down parts of its network as they work to remediate the issue. As a result, some of its IT assets may not be fully available. 


In-person classes continue as normal, and students can access online courses through Canvas by going to this website: richland.instructure.com. Network servers, phones, some department emails, and the college website (www.richland.edu) are currently inoperable until the servers can safely go back online. Student and faculty/staff emails are still available.


All of Richland’s faculty and staff are working diligently to support students - ensuring it can continue to provide quality education and support services.

Illinois Product Expo This Weekend

The Illinois Product Expo set for this weekend at the Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. Katie Lemenager is with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.



The times are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. This marks the 25th year for the Illinois Product Expo.

Community Care Systems Offers Heart Health Tips for Caregivers

February is Heart Health Month and a central Illinois non-profit is providing tips for caregivers and their heart health.


Caregivers often overlook their health in pursuit of caring for those around them but on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Rebecca Wheat told Regional Radio they are trying to promote heart health during this Heart Health Month for caregivers.



According to Wheat, caregivers tend to have at least two chronic illnesses they deal with. She reminds of the golden rule of caregiving - one must take care of oneself before one can care for others. 



The American Heart Association has some tips for caregivers to help with better heart health and Wheat indicates one of the top priorities is a hearth healthy diet and they are welcoming a University of Illinois Extension nutrition educator to talk with caregivers about ways to maintain a better diet.



Caregivers need to prioritize physical activity and Wheat says there are many options locally that have opportunities for caregivers to benefit from. She says for many of the American Heart Association's recommendations, there are local resources available for caregivers.



There are a lot of opportunities also through Community Care Systems. Contact Wheat for more details on her classes and other informative health offerings by calling 309-445-7098. 


Community Care Systems also has an office at the DeWitt Manor high-rise in Clinton at 520 East Main Street. 

Heartland Community College Cuts Ribbon on Advanced Manufacturing Center

Heartland Community College celebrated the opening of a new facility designed for the instruction of state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing programs including Electric Vehicle Technology, High-Voltage Energy Storage, Robotics, Renewable Energy, and Automation. 


Funded in part by a $7.5 million State of Illinois grant from the Rebuild Illinois capital plan, Heartland’s Advanced Manufacturing Center features the State Farm Electric Vehicle Laboratory, the permanent home of the College’s pathbreaking Electric Vehicle/Energy Storage program which launched in 2021. Gov. JB Pritzker was on hand earlier this week to give remarks about one of the two new state-of-the-art facilities opening in Illinois.



Heartland Community College President Keith Cornille touted the advancement in program opportunities offered at the school and what this new facility means for students who will go through it.



Construction of the 45,000 square foot facility began in the fall of 2022. The $17M facility incorporates remodeled space to further support programs such as robotics, HVAC, welding, and digital media, in addition to the newly constructed State Farm EV Lab. 


The Advanced Manufacturing Center project is funded in a public/private partnership with programmatic and financial support from local business leaders. In August of 2023, State Farm provided a $1 million grant to support the 6,278 square foot Heartland electric vehicle/energy storage training facility. 

Illinois State Police Announce Special Patrols in March

The Illinois State Police has announced it will conduct several special patrols in March


Troop 5 Commander, Capt. Tim Sweeney, announces the ISP will conduct Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement (ACE) patrols in Kankakee and McLean Counties in March on the 15th, 22nd, and 29th. 


Officers working the detail will be watchful for drivers who are operating vehicles in an unsafe manner, driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, transporting open alcoholic beverages, and most importantly DUI, speeding, and distracted driving.


Capt. Tim Sweeney also announced troopers will conduct Nighttime Enforcement patrols in Kankakee and McLean Counties on March 2nd, 8th, 17th, and 30th. 


Roadside Safety Checks (RSCs) will be conducted in McLean County on March 16th. 


There will also be distracted driving enforcement patrols in Kankakee, Iroquois, Ford,

Livingston and McLean Counties on March 14th and 21st. This allows ISP to focus on distracted driving laws to prevent traffic deaths and serious injury crashes. Distractions can increase a driver’s risk of being in an accident.


Officers will be looking for drivers who disobey Illinois’ distracted driving laws,
especially reading, sending, or receiving text messages or communication, and from browsing the internet. ISP reminds drivers are prohibited from using handheld electronic communication devices and drivers under the age of 19 are prohibited from using any cellphone, even hands-free.


ISP will conduct alcohol countermeasure enforcement patrols in Kankakee and McLean Counties on March 15th, 22nd, and 29th. 


Alcohol and drug impairment are factors in more than 30% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in Illinois. There is one alcohol-related traffic fatality every 53 minutes in the United States. The ACE program allows officers to work even harder at removing dangerous DUI offenders from the road.

Clinton Police, First Responders to Provide Police Escort for Local 'Make A Wish' Child

A Clinton child who is headed to see the ocean is getting a police escort on his way out of town.


The child is part of the 'Make A Wish' Foundation and wants to be a police officer when he grows up. Chief Ben Lowers says it would be an honor to enhance the 'wish' of this young person in our community.



Chief Lowers has rallied the Sheriff's Department and the Fire Department to participate. If you hear sirens in Clinton around 1:30 pm tomorrow (Thursday), that likely will be the reason for those sirens.

DeWitt County Board Chair Updates on Sale of Marina

The DeWitt County Board has been working to sell the Clinton Lake Marina for the last six months and things are picking up momentum as we approach the boating season.


Board Chair Dan Matthews indicates the sale of the Marina was a brief topic at last Thursday's DeWitt County Board meeting and informed the Board there were seven bids that came back from the recent request for proposal (RFP) process.



According to Matthews, this week, the County Board will go through a process to narrow down the proposals to a few for the full board to consider. He indicates with the boating season fast approaching, he hopes to have something in place before then.



Matthews hopes to have the process wrapped up and a recommendation for the full board next month. 

Monticello Police Chief Encourages Keeping Vehicle Doors Locked, Valuables Put Away

A central Illinois law enforcement official is encouraging residents in his community and others to be mindful keeping vehicle and outside home doors locked.


Springtime weather seems to be here early this year and Monticello Police Chief Rob Bross says the nice weather gets people out and moving and not always people with the best intentions. He indicates Monticello has seen a slight uptick in burglaries to unlocked vehicles.



Chief Bross is encountering a unique situation where residents will have their vehicles burglarized and then go to social media to talk about what happened to them. He is finding people expect police to respond to those posts, something they do not do.



Individuals that have their vehicles burglarized but suspect nothing was taken will sometimes not call in the crime but Chief Bross says just knowing something happened in a certain area of the community can help them with future patrols and investigations.



Chief Bross also points out residents with video doorbells have also become increasingly helpful in investigations. For those that are comfortable doing so, the police department keeps a database of residents with a ring camera for investigations where that video footage may come in handy. 

Gov. Pritzker Defends Plan to Eliminate Grocery

During the Governor’s budget address, he said that he would like lawmakers to eliminate the one percent sales tax on groceries.


The idea has its supporters, but it also has some in local governments worried about losing out on $350 million in collected grocery taxes each year. Gov. Pritzker says the move is all about affordability.



A law could be made to allow local governments to decide if they wanted the one percent tax to be levied in their communities.


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