Local News

Ice Cream Shop Opening Off Clinton Square

An idea born from COVID will come to fruition this weekend for a Clinton resident.

 

Sweet Mae's Ice Cream Shoppe opens this weekend owner Melissa Morris says it was an idea she had born from COVID while on quarantine in her family garage in 2020.

 

 

Morris says they will offer 16 different flavors of ice cream Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream based in Madison, Wisconsin. A master of sweet treats, Morris will have a sweet treat of the week and has other plans in the works for down the road.

 

 

It's been a long time coming for Morris to open her store with plenty of bumps and interruptions along the way. She appreciates the support of her family, particularly her husband Kyle who put in many hours to prepare the store. 

 

 

Winter hours at Sweet Mae's Ice Cream Shoppe will be Wednesday and Thursday from 4 pm to 7 pm, 12 pm to 7 pm Friday and Saturday, and 2 pm to 7 pm on Sunday, and closed Monday and Tuesday. 

 

Follow the store on Facebook. 

 

 

 

Weldon Springs Holding Christmas Event Saturday

The season wraps for 2023 at Weldon Springs State Park with a Christmas event at the schoolhouse.

 

Stephanie Russell is the President of the Weldon Springs Foundation and indicates the schoolhouse will open this Saturday for a special Christmas event. She says kids of all ages find the schoolhouse fascinating.

 

 

According to Russell, the schoolhouse has a unique story in that it was brought into the springs. Additionally, the land was willed to the city and then it was sold to the state and has expanded to a 500-acre state park.

 

 

The Christmas event is this Saturday from 1 pm to 3 pm at the schoolhouse. You can find the Weldon Springs Foundation on Facebook for more information and more on the activities at Weldon Springs State Park. 

It's Arrival Weekend at Camp River DuBois

The "Arrival at Camp River Dubois" activities at the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site in Hartford will be held this weekend. 

 

Lewis & Clark stopped in this area on December 13, 1803, as they prepared to explore the vast unknown lands west of the Mississippi River. This festival commemorates that event in history. It's a fully operational military camp, and interpreters will be showing off the weapons and even the medical practices that were used at the time. Site spokesman Brad Winn says this event helps illustrate the importance of Illinois in the explorers’ journey.

 

 

The “Arrival” event will be held from 10am - 4pm both Saturday and Sunday. It's free to attend both days. The Lewis & Clark State Historic Site is located along Illinois Route 3 in Hartford. For more information, call 618-251-5811.

New Area Code Coming to Southern Illinois in 2023

A NEW AREA CODE IS COMING TO SOUTHERN ILLINOIS NEXT SUMMER. 

 

THE 730 AREA CODE WILL OVERLAY THE EXISTING 618 COVERAGE AREA BEGINNING IN JULY. GEORGE LIGHT WITH THE ILLINOIS COMMERCE COMMISSION EXPLAINS WHAT THIS MEANS FOR PHONE CUSTOMERS.

 

 

LIGHT WITH THE ILLINOIS COMMERCE COMMISSION.

 

 

LIGHT SAYS WHEN YOU DIAL THE 730 AREA CODE, IT WILL STILL BE CONSIDERED A LOCAL CALL IN THAT REGION. 618 IS CURRENTLY USED IN ALL OR PARTS OF 37 DOWNSTATE COUNTIES AND IS ONE OF THE ORIGINAL AREA CODES ASSIGNED IN THE U-S BY BELL LABORATORIES IN 1947.

Illinois Farm Bureau Highlights Bipartisanship at Annual Meeting

Delegates and members attending the 108th Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting celebrated progress while looking toward the future as the organization’s traditional grassroots process returned for an entirely in-person event for its 2022 annual meeting.

 

Members gathered at the historic Palmer House hotel in Chicago over four days, Dec. 3-6, to conduct annual business, introduce new policies and celebrate the year’s successes says IFB president Rich Guebert.

 

 

The meeting kicked off with Guebert urging the need for bipartisanship during his annual address as IFB members begin negotiating and helping draft a new farm bill in 2023 and advocating for international trade agreements.

Gold Star Families Honored

Gold star families were honored this week with a tree lighting.

 

Families were invited to hang an ornament in honor of their loved ones lost during military service. Lieutenant Governor Julianna Stratton says the tree will never erase the pain of the loss suffered by gold star families, but it is a way to honor the lives lived by those lost.

 

 

The tree is in a federal office building in downtown Chicago.

Department of Human Services Announces $5-Million In Emergency Shelter Capacity

THE STATE IS PUMPING MORE MONEY INTO INCREASING SHELTER SPACE FOR THE HOMELESS THIS WINTER. 

 

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES IS ANNOUNCING AN ADDITIONAL FIVE MILLION DOLLARS TO EXPAND ACCESS TO EMERGENCY SHELTERS SAYS SPOKESPERSON MARISA KOLLIAS.

 

 

KOLLIAS SAYS THE NEED IS ESPECIALLY GREAT IN THE CHICAGO SUBURBS, WHERE EMERGENCY SHELTERS ARE FULL AND OVER 700 PEOPLE INCLUDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS ARE ON WAITING LISTS.

 

 

IT’S ESTIMATED THERE IS A SHORTAGE OF OVER FOUR THOUSAND EMERGENCY SHELTER BEDS ACROSS THE STATE.

DeWitt County Museum Director Makes Valuable Connection to Artifact on Display

A local history professional is celebrating this holiday season as she has discovered a very valuable connection to one of the artifacts in her care.

 

Joey Long is the Director of the DeWitt County Museum and CH Moore Homestead and recently discovered thanks to a book given to her by a local resident and says the book highlighted a Civil War relick she thought was in the museum.

 

 

According to Long, she found an expert that could help her identify if the relick was authentic. She sent them the requested things they wanted and after a while, she had not heard from them but just this week she heard back and had it confirmed it was authentic.

 

 

Long explains Edward Woodward collected things to make these relicks and gifted them to Civil War Veterans. He was a gunsmith from England and worked during the Civil War but did not want to continue.

 

 

The relicks have unique shapes that are all about the same as the shape of an eagle. Long indicates Woodward moved to Gettysburg with his wife who became a nurse.

 

 

Long feels more of a sentimental value to these relicks but she did come to learn they are worth several thousands of dollars. The end of the year is winding down for the Museum so time to check these relicks out is running short. 

 

 

The Museum's regular hours are 10 am - 5 pm Tuesday through Saturday and 1 pm - 5 pm Sundays. Candlelight Tours still run through Dec. 23 are 5 pm - 8 pm. Get more information about the Museum by finding them on Facebook or visiting chmoorehomestead.org. 

 

 

 

December on Pace to Be Cooler

December is tracking to be cooler than normal but the amount of rain coming to central Illinois is a question still up in the air.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates the southern portion of the state is showing a strong trend to above-normal precipitation and the northern portion with northern Illinois showing a below-normal signal and central Illinois stuck right in the middle.

 

 

According to Shimon, we could see some rain rolling in today or this evening but it's going to be dry for the foreseeable future. Towards Christmas, there is a chance of snow they are keeping an eye on.

 

 

Normal temperatures to start December are typically in the lower 40s. Shimon notes those temperatures lend themselves to keeping precipitation in the form of rain.

 

 

Shimon says there are very chances to get those temperatures back above normal, at least through the first few weeks of December. 

Gov. Pritzker Urging Quick Passage of Latest Assault Weapons Ban

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS URGING QUICK PASSAGE OF THE LATEST PROPOSED BAN ON ASSAULT WEAPONS. 

 

THE MEASURE BANS ASSAULT WEAPONS, HIGH-CAPACITY MAGAZINES AND RAPID-FIRE DEVICES, AND RAISES THE AGE TO GET A FOID CARD FROM 18 TO 21. THE GOVERNOR WANTS LAWMAKERS TO GET IT DONE.

 

 

GUN ADVOCATES ARGUE THE PROPOSAL IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND GOVERNOR PRITZKER ANTICIPATES A LEGAL CHALLENGE.

 

 

THE BILL’S SPONSOR IS PUSHING TO PASS THE BAN WHEN LAWMAKERS RETURN TO SPRINGFIELD THE FIRST WEEK OF JANUARY.

Gov. Pritzker Celebrates Opening of Social Equity Marijuana Dispensary

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS CELEBRATING THE OPENING OF THE FIRST SOCIAL EQUITY MARIJUANA DISPENSARY. 

 

THE STATE HAS AWARDED 192 CONDITIONAL ADULT USE CANNABIS DISPENSARY LICENSES AS PART OF THE SOCIAL EQUITY PROGRAM, AND THREE OF THOSE ARE NOW FULLY LICENSED. FIRST TO OPEN WAS IVY HALL IN CHICAGO. GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE STATE IS COMMITTED TO ENSURING MINORITIES HAVE A PLACE IN THE THRIVING INDUSTRY.

 

 

CO-FOUNDER NIGEL DANDRIDGE:

 

 

OFFICIALS SAY THEY HOPE TO SEE THE REST OF THE SOCIAL EQUITY APPLICANTS THAT HAVE RECEIVED A CONDITIONAL LICENSE BECOME FULLY LICENSED IN THE COMING MONTHS.

BBB Urging Parents to Be Vigilant in Protecting Children's Identity

The Better Business Bureau is warning that children are at risk of identity theft. Don O'Brien with the BBB says that last year over a million children across the country had their identities stolen.

 

 

O'Brien says you can freeze a child's credit with each of the three big credit monitoring agencies. He says if your young children start getting credit card offers in the mail, start looking into why.

Ameren Illinois Urges Customers If They Smell Gas, Run Fast

Residential natural gas leaks can lead to deadly situations and Ameren Illinois is urging customers that if they smell gas to run fast.

 

Jake Duckett ("DOO-kit"), Public Awareness Supervisor for Ameren says that the biggest concern for folks who detect the rotten-egg smell of gas is static electricity.

 

 

Duckett says to call Ameren after you've gotten to safety. He urges customers to not go back in until Ameren has cleared the house.

Clinton Schools Continue to Move on Facilities Plan

Clinton Schools continue to move forward with its plans for making significant updates to its facilities. 

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles says they still evaluating all the things targeted over the last several months that were recently brought to the Board of Education. He says district leadership needs to find out how much they can spend on these things.

 

 

While the sports complexes have received a lot of attention during public discussions, Nettles believes there are issues within the school walls that need attention first.

 

 

While Clinton Elementary School does not need a lot of attention, he says they have plenty of other areas of need within the other buildings. 

Winter Reading Program Coming to Warner Library

The Warner Library in Clinton is planning to bring a special winter reading program to the library after the first of the year. 

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Business Manager Samantha Rusk told Regional Radio it's something they've considered for some time and are excited to put it together this year.

 

 

Also coming in 2023, children's librarian Corey Campbell plans to re-arrange the children's floor. He feels there could be better flow with how the space is being utilized.

 

 

According to Campbell, there might be a day or two after the start of the new year when the children's floor is closed to the public. He notes they will still retrieve any materials kids may want from the floor.

 

Rusk indicates the winter reading program was something they've heard from patrons a lot about recently. 

Social Security Highlighting Support for Rural America

Social Security touches the lives of nearly every American and as a member of the Federal Government’s Rural Partners Network program, Social Security wants to continue reaching out to rural communities.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security points out millions of Americans who are retirees that worked hard their whole lives, or people no longer able to work due to disability, and dependents and survivors - count on them.

 

 

Services have expanded in rural America over the years. Myers indicates the Social Security website, www.ssa.gov has a variety of opportunities to do things like apply for retirement or spouse’s benefits, disability benefits, supplemental Security Income (SSI) (in some cases), Medicare, and the Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) costs.

 

 

If you are not able to utilize Social Security's online services, you can call the national toll-free number at 800-772-1213 or your local office in Bloomington at 877-405-4640 or Springfield at 877-279-9504. You can also visit the office from 9 am to 4 pm M-F. The last option may not always be convenient for rural communities because it may involve a drive, so they encourage you to try the website or phone options.

Fall Was Mild in Illinois

LAST MONTH WRAPPED UP A FAIRLY MILD FALL IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THERE WERE SOME PRETTY BIG TEMPERATURE SWINGS IN NOVEMBER, WHICH STARTED OFF WARM UNTIL A COLD FRONT BLEW THROUGH AROUND NOVEMBER 11TH. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD SAYS ILLINOIS FINALLY GOT TO ENJOY A NICE FALL THIS YEAR.

 

 

LEAVING THIS FALL AS THE 28TH DRIEST ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS SINCE 1895.

 

 

AVERAGE STATEWIDE PRECIPITATION FOR THE PAST THREE MONTHS WAS LESS THAN SEVEN INCHES, MAKING THE 2022 FALL SEASON THE 28TH DRIEST ON RECORD SINCE 1895.

Push to Form New State to Represent Downstate Illinois Gaining Traction

A push to sever connections between the City of Chicago and the state government with downstate Illinois to form a new state is gaining traction.

 

New Illinois is a non-partisan nonprofit that hopes to form a new state to better represent rural Illinois citizens, one of several groups around the state taking up the effort. G. H. Merrit, cofounder and State Chairman of the organization says what matters to her group is the will of the people.

 

 

New Illinois has been holding meetings around the state to spread awareness and information to potential supporters. Merrit says there are currently pushes in other states, including California and Oregon, to give power back to rural parts of the state by forming new states in the union.

Safe-T Legislation Signed Into Law

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER HAS SIGNED THE SAFE-T ACT TRAILER BILL INTO LAW. 

 

LAWMAKERS PASSED THE AMENDMENT TO THE ACT LAST WEEK, AIMING TO CLARIFY WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN THE CURRENT CASH BAIL SYSTEM ENDS JANUARY FIRST. SENATOR ELGIE SIMS OF CHICAGO SUPPORTED THE BILL, SAYING IT’S NEEDED TO CREATE A MORE EQUITABLE JUSTICE SYSTEM WHILE PROTECTING VICTIMS.

 

 

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER-ELECT TONY MCCOMBIE SPOKE OUT AGAINST THE MEASURE ON THE HOUSE FLOOR LAST WEEK.

 

 

SUPPORTERS SAY THE MEASURE WILL ENSURE THAT PRE-TRIAL DETENTION IS BASED ON COMMUNITY RISK, NOT BEING ABLE TO PAY BAIL. OPPONENTS ARGUE IT FAVORS CRIMINALS OVER VICTIMS.

DeWitt County Board Swears in New Members, Names New Chairperson

The newest edition of the DeWitt County Board was sworn in on Tuesday night. 

 

Joe Witte was sworn in representing District A. Pat Ryan and John Werts were sworn in representing District B. While Tom Farris and Kristina Deerwester were sworn in representing District C. 

 

Dan Matthews will now chair the DeWitt County Board. In a surprising nomination, outgoing Board Chair Terry Ferguson made the nomination with no other nominations brought forward. Ferguson was voted to the post of vice-chair.

 

Matthews says there's a lot of important business to go get to with this new board.

 

 

Matthews hopes to let the committees set the priorities they want to take up and anything they have, bring to the full board. 

 

 

Matthews hopes to see new Board members get involved right away. He says while there is a lot to learn, he hopes they feel like they can get involved and engaged right away. 

 

He hopes to bring the Board to get together and have fewer close votes which, for him, would signal a Board that is pulling in the same direction. 

 

 

 

 

 

Monticello Schools Celebrating Strong Report Card

Monticello High School received the exemplary designation in the latest Illinois School report card and officials are very pleased with that.

 

First-year superintendent Adam Clapp indicates while they certainly would like the high test scores, they want to focus on making sure students leave Monticello a well-rounded student.

 

 

Leading up to the release of the school report cards from the State Board of Education there was a lot of anticipation because the data had not been collected for a couple of years due to COVID. Clapp, like his peers, indicates he was curious to find out just how Monticello would do this year.

 

 

Clapp points out, the report card highlights the fact Monticello has one of the highest graduation rates in the State of Illinois as well as phenomenal parent and community engagement. 

 

Like many other central Illinois districts, Monticello battles issues with absenteeism and is going to focus on making sure students are in class. 

November Was Dry

November was dry and about average for temperatures.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln told Regional Radio there were a few days in early November that were rather warm and then things really leveled off towards the end of the month.

 

 

According to Shimon, the lack of moisture in November is impacting the drought monitor. He explains most of Illinois is trending towards concerning drought conditions.

 

 

Shimon says December for now is tracking to be dry to start however, there is a system they are watching that could bring chances of snow just before Christmas. He indicates it is too early to make predictions but it is something they are watching for. 

State Board of Elections Announces Official Election Night Results

THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS IS CERTIFYING FINAL ELECTION FIGURES AND SAYS TURNOUT FOR THE NOVEMBER MIDTERMS WAS 51 PERCENT. 

 

THAT'S THE FOURTH LOWEST TURNOUT FOR A MIDTERM IN THE PAST 40 YEARS SAYS ELECTIONS SPOKESPERSON MATT DIETRICH. THE HIGHEST WAS 65 PERCENT IN 1982. HE NOTES THAT THERE WAS A SLIGHT DECLINE IN PEOPLE VOTING EARLY IN PERSON, BUT THE NUMBER OF VOTE-BY-MAIL VOTERS DOUBLED FROM 2018.

 

 

DIETRICH ALSO SAYS THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON ILLINOIS WORKER'S RIGHTS PASSED WITH JUST OVER 53 PERCENT OF THE VOTE.

 

 

DIETRICH SAYS 21 PERCENT OF VOTERS CAST A BALLOT EARLY IN-PERSON, A SLIGHT DECREASE FROM 2018. 18 PERCENT OF VOTERS OPTED TO SUBMIT THEIR BALLOT BY MAIL. THAT'S DOUBLE THE AMOUNT THAT VOTED BY MAIL IN 2018.

Raccoon Hunting Underway

A STATE WILDLIFE EXPERT SAYS RACCOON SEASON IS UNDERWAY AND IS OFTEN AN OVERLOOKED OPPORTUNITY FOR ILLINOIS HUNTERS. 

 

RACCOON HUNTING IS AN AMERICAN TRADITION SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES WILDLIFE CHIEF MIKE WEFER (wee-fer). IT'S A VERSATILE ACTIVITY THAT YOU CAN DO IN A GROUP WITH DOGS, OR ON YOUR OWN SHINING FOR RACCOONS.

 

 

SO WHERE CAN YOU HUNT?

 

 

IF YOUR NOT SURE HOW TO GET STARTED, WEFER RECOMMENDS CHECKING OUT COON HUNTING CLUB DOT COM FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO FIND A LOCAL CLUB NEAR YOU. THE ILLINOIS RACCON HUNTING SEASON ENDS FEBRUARY 15TH.

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