Local News

Blagojevich Wants to Fight For Criminal Justice Reform

The newly free Rod Blagojevich spent about 20 minutes talking to reporters and an assembled crowd outside his house yesterday. 

 

He railed against his long prison term and harsh conditions that he was kept in while in federal custody. Blagojevich says the current criminal justice system is rigged, racist and corrupt. He says now that he’s out he is going to fight to fix the system.

 

 

Blagojevich says that no one in the history of the United States has done more to reform the criminal justice system than President Donald Trump and his son in law Jared Kushner.

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State officials celebrate Black History Month

STATE LEADERS ARE HONORING BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN ILLINOIS.

 

OFFICIALS ARE CELEBRATING THE WORK OF LOCAL AFRICAN AMERICAN COACHES, VOLUNTEERS, MENTORS, SCHOOL PRINCIPALS AND MORE. GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS ILLINOIS HAS TIES TO THE CELEBRATORY MONTH.

 

 

AMONG THOSE CELEBRATING THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS ARE SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE, GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER AND COMPTROLLER SUSANA MENDOZA.

 

 

OFFICIALS ARE HOLDING CEREMONIES RECOGNIZING LOCAL BLACK ILLINOISANS WHO HAVE GIVEN TO THEIR COMMUNITY, MENTORED KIDS AND MORE.

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Area Fire Departments Celebrate Successful Daytona 500 Fundraiser

Area fire departments are celebrating another successful Daytona 500 fundraiser at the Clinton Eagles lodge from this past week.

 

Clinton Fire Chief Jeff Hoke explains the annual event raised around $37,000. The Eagles host the annual event every year that involves community members from all over DeWitt County.

 

 

The money will be split between the Clinton, Kenney and Wapella Fire Departments. According to Chief Hoke, the Daytona Fundraiser is another source of revenue for their training facility on Cain Street.

 

 

Hoke thanks The Eagles and everyone that participates in the annual fundraiser to make it the success it is. He also thanks the community for continuing to support their efforts at the facility on Cain Street. 

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Farmer City Renovating City Pool

Farmer City will begin renovations to the city pool this spring.

 

Sue McLaughlin, Farmer City Administrator, indicates the pool needs new gutters and a new lining. She notes they will also add a new slide, a splash feature, and shade umbrellas.

 

 

McLaughlin says the renovations will be completed later this year and will be good for Farmer City considering a large number of visitors from out of town. 

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Governor Wants State to Honor College Illinois Program

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER WANTS TO MAKE SURE ALL “COLLEGE ILLINOIS” ACCOUNT HOLDERS GET THEIR TUITION MONEY.

 

THE COLLEGE ILLINOIS PROGRAM ISN’T ACCEPTING ANY NEW CONTRACTS BECAUSE OF CONCERNS THERE WON’T BE ENOUGH MONEY TO FULFILL EXISTING COMMITMENTS. BUT IN HIS BUDGET PLAN, GOVERNOR PRITZKER PROPOSED DEDICATING 27 MILLION DOLLARS FOR THAT PURPOSE. HE SAYS IT’S A START.

 

 

COLLEGE ILLINOIS HAS A MORE THAN 300 MILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT SO THE GOVERNOR SAYS THIS FUNDING WILL HAVE TO CONTINUE EACH YEAR TO HELP MAKE THAT UP. 

 

 

THE PROGRAM LET FAMILIES PRE-PAY THEIR CHILD’S FUTURE COLLEGE TUITION TO HELP AVOID BIG COST INCREASES LATER, BUT THE PROGRAM SUFFERED AS TUITION INCREASES OUTPACED INVESTMENT RETURNS.

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NEW LEGISLATION CREATES A STATEWIDE DRUG TAKE BACK PROGRAM IN ILLINOIS

THE MEASURE IS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER GONG-GERSHOWITZ OF GLENVIEW WHO SAYS ONE-THIRD OF MEDICATIONS GO UNUSED, AND OFTEN END UP IN THE HANDS OF ADDICTS OR ARE FLUSHED DOWN THE TOILET AND HARM THE ENVIRONMENT. SHE SAYS THE ILLINOIS DRUG TAKE BACK ACT WILL CHANGE THAT.

 

 

THE BILL CALLS ON DRUG MANUFACTURERS TO FUND A COLLECTION EFFORT ACROSS THE STATE, AND TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC ABOUT WHY MEDICATIONS NEED TO BE DISPOSED OF PROPERLY.

 

SEVERAL LOCAL COMMUNITIES, INCLUDING CLINTON, CURRENTLY OFFER DRUG TAKE BACK PROGRAMS THRU LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES.

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools Leader Provides 'State of the School' Update for Community

Address constituents is a January theme for leaders like the President and the Governor and a local school leader decided to take on that same theme last month.

 

Superintendent of Warrensburg-Latham Schools Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle created a video update of the state of the schools and pushed it out on social media for her communities to see. She updated the community on what the district is doing in terms of social and emotional learning.

 

 

The challenge of not having kids that feel like they have perseverance or grit was also a part of Dr. Kendrick-Weikle's address and outlining a plan for kids at school and what parents cand do at home.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle indicates for community members that are interested in portions of the things she discussed in her State of the School, they can find a lot of that information on the district's website and if they have questions, she welcomes input and questions. 

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Dangerous Sullivan Intersection to be Fixed

A long-sought and hoped-for improvements to the intersection of Illinois Route 32 and Bruce-Findlay Road, near Sullivan.

 

 The intersection has often been the site of traffic accidents over the years that included the loss of life. The last fatal crash occurred in September of 2019. Two lives were lost. State Senator Chapin Rose discussed the improvements Wednesday.

 

 

While an agreement exists to make the intersection a four-way stop, no time table has been announced to add stop signs to the intersection’s north-south approach.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Weighs In On Governor's Budget Address

The Illinois Farm Bureau offering a reaction to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s budget address. Kevin Semlow is the organization’s director of state legislation.

 

 

The state’s fiscal year runs July 1 to June 30th.

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Republicans Say Governor Is Bullying State into Income Tax Reform

Republican lawmakers continue to push back against the Governor’s plan to hold back about a billion and a half dollars in possible state spending this upcoming fiscal year. The Governor wants the reserve to come as he waits to see if voters approve his push for a graduated income tax.

 

Republican Rep. Avery Bourne says school funding shouldn’t be tied to getting voters to approve a tax increase on some residents.

 

 

Bourne says this will force schools to come up with final budgets before they know how much revenue they will have to spend. She wants to see a budget that meets the minimum funding level and doesn’t depend on a change to the income tax formula. She says that can be done with natural growth in tax revenues.

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Date Set for Vote on Proposed DeWitt County Wind Farm

March 18 at 6:30 pm at Clinton High School is the date for a vote on the special use permit for the Alta Farms II Wind Farm special use permit application for a wind farm in the northwest corner of DeWitt County.

 

Board Chair David Newberg made the executive decision Thursday night at the DeWitt County Board meeting. Clinton High School is available March 18, April 1 and April 8 and Newberg felt getting the vote done as soon as possible was the best course of action. 

 

 

The date hinges on County Board members receiving transcripts from the Zoning Board of Appeals month-long hearings by March 4, so they have two weeks to review. The timeline is aggressive and State's Attorney Dan Markwell says if they don't come by that date, the meeting cannot be held March 18. 

 

 

It has been two weeks since the ZBA hearings wrapped up and Newberg wants to make sure a meeting date is set if the transcripts are acquired by March 4.

 

 

The meeting will be held again at the Clinton High School auditorium.

 

Also at the Thursday night Clinton Board of Education meeting:

 

>>The Board approved roadwork for County Highway 1 for $34,000.

 

>>The Board approved updating server storage at the County Courthouse

 

>>County Clerk Dana Smith's office is seeking to upgrade the software and hardware for the voter registration system through a grant and that was approved Thursday for just short of $27,000 or no more than the portion reimbursed by the grant. 

 

>>The Board approved DeeDee Rentmeister as the interim zoning administrator and Mike Bradford as the temporary zoning field inspector. 

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Clinton Fire Department Making Rounds for Annual Door-to-Door Campaign

Perhaps you have received a knock on your door for the Clinton Fire Department's annual community canvasing fundraising campaign?

 

The effort is two for the department. Fire Chief Jeff Hoke says the department will canvas the community to make sure every home has operating and up-to-date smoke detectors and if residents are so inclined, they will ask for a donation to help fund the continued work on their training facility on Cain Street.

 

 

The Clinton Fire Department has used the training facility as the focus of most of their fundraising in the last few years. Chief Hoke says it will be a great asset to them but also surrounding communities for training.

 

 

Chief Hoke estimates the training facility is about 75-percent complete. Additionally, the Fire Department is coming off a very successful annual Daytona fundraiser at The Eagles over the weekend. We'll have more on that this weekend on Regional Radio News. 

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State Climatologist Talks Spring Flooding

Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford has plenty of information to track as the spring flooding season draws near.

 

 

Ford is now in his six month at Illinois State Climatologist.

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Rep. Brady Responds to Budget Address

Gov. JB Pritzker proposed a $40.7 billion state budget during his annual budget address Wednesday afternoon.  

 

He dressed it up by dangling the prospect of a $1.4 billion revenue boost if voters approve a radical income-tax overhaul this fall. State Rep. Dan Brady is concerned about the idea of assuming there is money that is not there yet.

 

 

Illinois voters will vote on a progressive income tax system in November that would overhaul the current tax structure.

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Sen. Rose Critical of More Tax Increases in Governor's Budget Address

After a year of major overhauls and new taxes by Illinois Democrats, a local lawmaker is critical of the idea of more taxes for Illinois residents.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose says there was a lot to like about the Governor's budget address but is concerned if there will ever be enough money for Illinois Democrats.

 

 

Illinois residents will vote on a progressive tax system in November that would overhaul the current income tax system in Illinois. 

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Democrats React to Budget Address

Just because the Governor is a Democrat that doesn’t mean his budget address arrives with full support from others in his party.

 

State Senator Heather Steans says she has shared priorities with the Governor, including rate increases for Medicaid providers. But she wants to see funding of the new education funding formula to continue to be directed to where it’s currently going.

 

 

The constitutional amendment that Steans is talking about is the possible November approval by voters of a graduated income tax. Pritzker touted it during the speech as a way of increasing educational spending.

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Congressman Davis Introduces Veterans Voting Bill Legislation

With crucial elections happening in all corners of the country, central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis has introduced federal legislation to make sure military members and their family's voices are heard.

 

Congressman Davis this month introduced the Counting All Military Votes Act corrects an issue allowing a military family member's absentee ballot to be sent with the same urgency as a military member.

 

 

Davis says the bill has bipartisan support and notes, impeachment held up its passage and with elections coming up, he looks forward to its passage and sending it on to the Senate, then to the President's desk. 

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Pension Payment, Funding Education Among Governor's Budget Address Talking Points

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker addressed the Illinois General Assembly for the second time this year for this annual budget address. 

 

The Governor Wednesday addressed resuming contributions to the State's rainy day fund and the pension system. Governor Pritzker wants to commit to $100-million in contributions to the rainy day fund in the next 16 months.

 

 

Not only does the Governor want to make full contributions to the pension system, but he also wants to "go above-and-beyond" the full payment. He says the passage of a progressive income tax system would allow them to do this.

 

 

The Governor used his address Wednesday to promote a November vote on the progressive income tax system in Illinois. Governor Pritzker believes this would shift the burden of shoring up Illinois' fiscal mess. 

 

 

Governor Pritzker spent a good amount of his address focusing on Illinois' young people and investing back in them. MAP grant funding, student mental health investments, and additional staff for DCFS were some of the Governor's targets with his budget address. He discussed his plans to make what he called historic investments into K-12 education.

 

 

Additional revenues for 2020 will come from gambling expansion and marijuana sales. The Governor predicts marijuana sales will result in $46-million in revenue.

 

 

Governor Pritzker says the Fiscal Year '21 budget will save $225-million in taxpayer money and believes it will make Illinois and Illinoisans stronger.

 

 

The Governor discussed creating a school violence prevention tip line. He also is committed to working with Chicago officials to bring a casino to the city. 

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Clinton Schools Leader Weighs in on Students Adversity

School leaders across the country are becoming increasingly aware of students' inability to deal with adversity and local school leaders are starting to weigh in on this phenomenon.

 

Warrensburg-Latham Schools leader Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle recently began a series of social media discussion groups surrounding this and Wednesday on the WHOW Morning Show, Superintendent of Clinton Schools Curt Nettles offered his thoughts on the situation. He believes it stems from the mentality of everyone gets a trophy.

 

 

Many school leaders believe children should learn to deal with the adversity that comes with failure. Like many, Nettles says these should be small failures but recognizes it can be a fine balance of stepping in to fix mistakes and letting them fail.

 

 

Eliminating irrecoverable failure has to be removed from the equation in a lot of learning environments for kids according to Nettles. He believes kids need to have the opportunity to fail but then try again to master what they are working towards.

 

 

Nettles believes kids need to be brave enough to try new things, fail and then try again learning from their misfortune. 

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Blagojevich Dubs Himself 'Freed Political Prisoner'

Fresh out of prison former Governor Rod Blagojevich held a press conference outside of his home today. It was a circus atmosphere with people holding signs and walking around in blago masks. 

 

Blagojevich appeared in front of microphones with a now very grey head of hair – far from the way he used to appear in public. Blagojevich wasn’t contrite for the crimes he was convicted of.

 

 

Blagojevich says his future now is to fight for others who have been sentenced to overly harsh prison sentences.

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Trump Pardons Blagojevich

Clemency for Rod Blagojevich. President Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence for the former Governor. Trump said on an airport tarmac that he felt Blago’s sentence was too harsh and it was time for his children to see him more.

 

 

Blagojevich was originally scheduled to serve 14 years in prison. The 63-year-old former Governor was being held in a federal penitentiary in Colorado. His actual release date from prison is still unknown but it’s expected to happen fairly quickly.

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Warner Library Hosting Trendy 'How-To' Festival

If you have been thinking about taking up a new hobby but need some advice before getting started, a Clinton entity is hosting what is becoming a trendy event around the country.

 

How-to events are growing in popularity and Clinton's Warner Library is hosting a 'how-to' event Saturday, March 7 from 1 pm to 3 pm. Library Business Manager Samantha Rusk says they'll have local experts on things beekeeping, building a family tree or even playing the ukulele.

 

 

There will be 20-plus stations set and up Rusk says if you spend 10 minutes at these stations, you'll walk away with the basics for developing a new skill or a hobby. Rusk says local business leaders and hobbyists will walk you through a variety of new skills. 

 

 

The event is free and will offer refreshments at the library with door prizes throughout the two-hour event.

 

You can get a full schedule by stopping by the library at 310 North Quincy Street in Clinton or calling 217-935-5174. 

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Senate President Reacts to Blago Release

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich is already out of prison. The ex-gov was released from his Colorado confinement last night and flew home from Denver to Chicago.

 

The reaction to his release has been strong on both sides of the isle in Springfield. Republicans are upset and Democrats are too. Senate President Don Harmon says Blagojevich should have served out his entire prison sentence.

 

 

Blagojevich is planning a press conference today to make some of his first public statements after leaving prison.

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House GOP Wants Balanced Budget

Republicans are ready to work with the Governor again on a balanced budget. 

 

House GOP Leader Jim Durkin says he wants to hear the Governor’s budget plans that again realize both Republican and Democrat priorities. Durkin says that the budget passed last year is proving to not only be balanced but one that is running a surplus. As budget-making begins in the next few weeks he wants the Governor to focus on the amount of tax revenue the state currently has and not to look forward to a possible influx of cash from a graduated income tax.

 

 

The Governor gives his budget address today at noon at the statehouse.

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Governor To Deliver Budget Address Today

Today Governor JB Pritzker will lay out his spending plans today at noon. 

 

It’s time for his annual budget address and Pritzker says the budget-making process is an ongoing one to find the most efficient way to spend tax dollars. Pritzker did ask agency heads to identify possible cuts to six percent of spending if needed. Pritzker isn’t expected to layout a sharply reduced budget today but he says it’s always good to prepare if a cut to state spending is needed.

 

 

The Governor will make his budget address today at noon. Hear his address on The Big 1520 AM, 92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, at the WHOW mobile app and at Amazon Alexa.

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