Local News

Students, Parents Meetings Set For Youth Mental Health Course at Clinton High School

Sophomore, juniors, and seniors will be required to take a youth mental health course at Clinton High School to start the second semester.


Principal Jerry Wayne announced at the November Board of Education meeting, the high school was chosen to participate in a pilot program that introduces youth to the various ways of dealing with mental and emotional wellness in their peers.


Katy Arnold with the Clinton Academy through Clinton High School is excited to get this going when students return from winter break the first part of January.



This a very rare opportunity for the district. Arnold indicates they are part of a small-percentage nationwide to participate in this pilot program, but they also were chosen to participate in a John Hopkins University study that surveys their students at various points throughout the process.



High School Counselor Rachel Tohme (toe-may) says there are parents meetings to put on the calendar to learn more about this opportunity. The first is this Tuesday night (Dec. 10) and then another Saturday morning (Dec. 14) will be the opportunity to get more information on this.



Wayne credits his staff for being on the lookout for resources and tools that can help their students. He says it is always their top priority to meet the challenges their students face, whether that be mental, physical, or emotional. 


The Vault Leadership Asking Students, Community To Be Part of Their 'Kindness Campaign'

Fred Rogers used to say, "There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind." A DeWitt County leader of youth is asking their students and the community to join them in being kind to everyone.


Tammy Wilson is the Executive Director of The Vault in Clinton and says herself and The Vault Founder, Michelle Witzke are asking their students to take the Kindness Challenge. She explains on social media, they are offering a daily kindness challenge and hopes to get the community behind this effort.



The community is invited to take part in this as well by following The Vault on Facebook. Wilson says doing something nice for another person takes as little time and effort as you can think and makes you feel good.



Wilson hopes the kindness displayed will lead to a change in the community.



The Kindness Challenge's daily challenges can be found on The Vault's Facebook page. You can also learn more about The Vault at thevaultclinton.org or by following them on Instagram.


Clinton YMCA To Raise Membership

Membership fees at the Clinton YMCA will be going up at the first of the year but the DeWitt County non-profit says it is not because of the many improvements and renovations they have planned.


Executive Director Rennie Cluver says the new minimum wage increase is impacting the projected costs they have going forward. He indicates they will have to adjust wages for close to 60 staff.



The minimum wage increase gradually goes into effect over a roughly four year period but Cluver indicates they have to look at new ways to generate revenue.



The YMCA has recently installed new equipment in its wellness center and will be starting a remodel of its main entryway at the first of the year. Cluver indicates those improvements are about attracting new members and giving their current members more reason to be at their facility. 


Mt. Pulaski Passing on E-Learning Days Right Now

First-year Superintendent in Mt. Pulaski, Fred Lamkey is relying on his staff to help him make a big decision.


Schools across the state are deciding how to proceed with the prospect of having students learn at home when the weather keeps kids from being in class. Communities districts are varied in how they are proceeding with this opportunity but for now, Lamkey says his staff has indicated to him they are not for e-learning.



Mt. Pulaski students have an iPad they take to and from school each day. And while that would open up the opportunity, Lamkey indicates the preparation for an e-learning day would be too much. He says right now anything students would work on during an e-learning day would be busywork.



While Mt. Pulaski is not going to take advantage of the opportunity, Lamkey says this is a valuable opportunity for other districts. He won't completely dismiss perhaps it becoming an option for them in the future.



Heyworth and Maroa-Forsyth schools are among those that have elected to give e-learning a try this year while Clinton, Monticello, and Warrensburg-Latham are among those locally that are declining on the opportunity. 


Clinton Presbyterian Church Hosting Milikin University Trombone Ensemble Sunday

The Millikin University Trombone Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Gary Shaw, will join the Clinton Presbyterian Church at worship services on Sunday, December 8, 2019, at 10:30 AM.  
Special musical selections will include traditional and Advent compositions.  The ensemble will be joining the congregation during hymns with the historic Hook-Hastings pipe organ.  


Clinton Presbyterian Church is located at 402 N. Center St. in Clinton.  


For more information, please contact the church at 217-935-6178.


DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition Reminding Public of Helpline During Holidays

The DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition is reminding the public of resources they can turn to during the holidays.


Pastor Jeff DeLaughter, DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition President, indicates while the holidays are a time of cheer for many it can also lead to feelings of depression. He says if you or your loved ones turn to substance abuse during the holidays the can contact the Illinois Helpline.



The Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances is 1-833-2FINDHELP.


DeWitt, Logan County Retired Teachers Association Winter Meeting Wednesday

The DeWitt-Logan Retired Teachers Association will meet at 10:30 a.m. on December 11 at Cracker Barrel Restaurant, Lincoln, IL.  


The Association will be voting on changes to the local Association by-laws as well as prepare to welcome the new presidents as 2020 begins.  


Please come and share fellowship, opinions, and appreciation for our new officers. No reservations are needed.


Remember, IRTA is open to all active and retired educators and their spouses.  


Not Too Late to Get Flu Shot













IHSA Member Schools Voting on Football Scheduling Issue

IHSA member schools this month voting on a proposal to stop district scheduling for high school football. The system is set to go into place in 2021, but Fieldcrest and El-Paso High School principals Bill Lapp and Brian Quam want to put a stop to it.



IHSA member schools are voting on the by-law amendment through December 16th.


IDOT Looking For Feedback from Survey

Illinois residents have the chance to give their feedback regarding the state’s transportation system.


The Illinois Department of Transportation has put out its annual Illinois Traveler Opinion Survey. Conducted since 2001, IDOT spokesperson Guy Tridgell says the survey asks several questions on a wide range of topics.



Tridgell says even if you don't drive, the transportation system affects everyone in the state.



The survey is open until December 31st and takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The survey can be located at idot.illinois.gov.


USDA Awards Almost $13-Million To South Central Illinois Internet Provider for Rural Broadband Expansion

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded nearly $13 million to a south central Illinois internet provider to expand broadband internet services to rural areas of Jefferson and Wayne County. The grant/loan combination award to Wabash Communications Co-Op out of Louisville will be used to install almost 300 miles of fiber internet lines in northeastern Jefferson and western Wayne Counties.


Making the official announcement was Bill Northey, the Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation for the USDA. He says the installation of broadband internet will help these rural areas lead into the future of agriculture and give residents a better quality of life.



Doug Wilson is the USDA's State Director for Rural Development in Illinois. He says the key to bringing high-speed internet to more rural areas of the state and of the country is to maximize investment dollars through local, state, federal, and private partnerships.



The $13 million is a part of $600 million that Congress set aside for rural broadband development. Northey says the USDA received over $1.4 billion dollars in requests for grant money in this first round of applications.


Weekly Weather Summary

A mild week is leading to a mild weekend, but what's in store for the next few weeks? State climatologist Trent Ford has the details...




Warner Library Hosting CBD Seminar

If you've wondered about CBD and it's benefits or uses, a program at Clinton's Warner Library is for you.


Executive Assistant Janet Ward says the program is this Saturday from 1 pm to 2 pm at the library. She feels this will be very interesting, especially if you've been curious about CBD.



CBD sales have been legalized in Illinois and vendors around the area are starting to offer CBD products. 


DeWitt County RPC, ZBA Looking Over Wind Ordinances; Tradewind Questions Boards Actions

This past Monday night, the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals took up text amendment changes to the County's wind ordinances and the company hoping to establish a wind farm in DeWitt County is questioning why this is happening without direction from County leadership.


The ZBA took up six ordinances changes and Tom Swierczewski, project development manager for Tradewind Energy, says he and the supporters of their project were surprised at this development in recent days.



The ZBA considered six text amendments in total and Swierczewski says a setback change wasn't even taken up for a vote. He feels it shows how ridiculous of a proposal it was and is thankful it failed.



According to Swierczewski, the ZBA also considered a shadow flicker ordinance change that would ask for zero impact on neighboring landowners. He says that is a mandate that is nearly impossible to meet. 



Swierczewski calls a text amendment change regarding drainage district coordination unnecessary. He explains they already coordinate with those districts and have to get their approval before they move any dirt. He also calls discussion surrounding a detection lighting system change confusing. 



As these approved changes now move on to the County Board, Swierczewski is critical of the actions of the Regional Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals because he believes they are acting without guidance and direction from elected officials.



Chairperson of the RPC, Dave Steward defended his Board's actions on taking up the reconsidering of the text amendment changes. He explains after sitting in on many of the testimonies from the last hearings for the Tradewind Alta Farms II wind farm application at the ZBA level, he felt it was necessary to have a look at their ordinances.



Steward says the RPC revisiting any ordinances on any subject without direction from County leadership is not out of the ordinary. While it is common to get direction from the County Board or its Land Use Committee, the RPC is within its authority to look at these ordinances on their own accord.



According to Steward, the accusations of stonewalling this process is inaccurate and points out this is the exact same time schedule they've taken on other issues in the past. While he understands the urgency with which Tradewind Energy wants their application taken up, the RPC cannot make everyone happy.



The Zoning Board of Appeals made it clear to Tradewind representatives the changes proposed would not impact their application that is currently being considered but Swierczewski says it would make any efforts to bring another project to the County very problematic. 


Illinois Historic Sights Celebrating Christmas This Weekend

If history and the Christmas season interest you then you'll want to be sure to put several events across the area on your radar for this Saturday.


DNR Spokesperson Rachel Torbert says the David Davis Mansion and Ewing Manor in Bloomington will be decorated for the holidays. She says it is a good opportunity to get a glimpse at an old-time Christmas setting.



The Lincoln Log Cabin will be decorated this weekend in Charleston. Torbert indicates the Lincoln Log Cabin gives you a glimpse of how Abraham Lincoln grew up.



Also this weekend at the Illinois State Museum, families are invited out for talking about adapting to the cold. Torbert says this is a great time of year to check out all the state's historic sites.



Visit dnr.illinois.gov for a calendar of these events and many more throughout the holiday season. 


LaHood Over Impeachment Proceedings

One Republican Congressman from central Illinois thinks trying to impeach the President is grinding government to a halt. Darin LaHood says impeachment is serious business and as he looks at all the cases presented there is nothing there to support the Democrats cause.



LaHood wants Congress to tackle real issues including passing the USMCA trade deal.


Census Important to Illinois Education

With the United States preparing for a census next year, groups in Illinois are getting ready to have every last person tallied. 


To help in the effort the Illinois State Board of Education is going to hold census nights at the state’s schools. It’s an effort to get the word out to all families that they need to be counted. Democrat Governor JB Pritzker told a group of educators on Wednesday a fair share of federal funding is on the line.



The state has allocated nearly $30 million to support getting the census right. Pritzker says that’s more spending per-capita than any other state in the nation.


Governor Pushing for Equity in Marijuana Business

Recreational marijuana is coming to Illinois and the state is starting to address who gets a license to sell marijuana. A fix to the original recreational marijuana bill was passed in the fall veto session to get marijuana licenses in the hands of people from communities who have been the most impacted by the federal war on drugs.


Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says social equity provisions will make sure that disadvantaged communities will be included in the ownership of stores.



Pritzker says if that’s not enough the state will act again later in the year and there could be up to 500 stores selling pot in Illinois under the current law.


Rep. Caulkins Calls For Federal Vaping Regulation

A state lawmaker says the answer to the vaping epidemic lies at the federal level.


Representative Dan Caulkins indicates the vaping deaths are unfortunate but have gotten the public talking about the epidemic. He believes there need to be federal regulations instead of regulations at the state level.



Rep. Caulkins says the legislation passed that put a limitation of 21 years or older to vape did not result in fewer kids vaping. Caulkins says there needs to be more public education about the health effects of vaping.



Caulkins notes he believes education about vaping would be more beneficial than issuing a ban on vaping.


Blue Ridge Schools Will Not Participate in E-Learning Days

Another DeWitt County School district is saying no to e-learning days. 


The Blue Ridge school district will not have e-learning days when school is closed for inclement weather. Blue Ridge superintendent Susan Wilson indicates their teacher's union had discussed potentially having e-learning days but the majority were not for it, and Wilson agrees. 



Some states already have e-learning days and have worked to make it effective. Wilson feels it would not be the most effective policy for their student demographic.



Wilson says e-learning days might be more effective during teacher institute days rather than emergencies as it currently lies.



Wilson indicates e-learning days could potentially be revisited in the future as they become more commonplace and student internet availability increases.


First Firearm Deer Hunt Totals Down

The first firearm deer hunt numbers were down statewide.


That's according to DNR Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. Wednesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Torbert says several factors could be at play.



The first firearm season wasn't without incidents in the fields. Torbert says they had incidents of hunters falling from tree stands and accidental shootings. She says that's a reminder for hunters to be safe when they go out.



Torbert breaks down the deer hunt totals for central Illinois and popular hunting areas in Illinois...



Get the latest in hunting information and regulations by visiting dnr.illinois.gov. 


The Vault Seeking Monthly Partners

The season of giving is upon and Clinton's teen center is hoping you'll keep them in mind during this holiday season and maybe even consider being a regular donor. 


Tammy Wilson, The Vault executive director, indicates they are looking for monthly partners to help make their operation sustainable. While they accept one time donations of any amount they are seeking monthly donations.



To help increase revenue for the facility, The Vault is available to the public to rent out for birthday parties, graduations, showers, and meetings. Wilson notes they offer a discount for youth-related groups.



For more information contact The Vault at (217) 934-4003, find them on Facebook, or visit thevaultclinton.org.


Gold Star Christmas Tree Lit in Chicago

A Christmas tree has been lit at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago and its’ decorated with ornaments honoring the military and Gold Star Families from Illinois.


The Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Linda La Chapa LaVia spoke as the tree was being unveiled and she says the legacy of those who gave their lives in defense of the county should never be ignored or forgotten.



Eleven families were at the Thompson Center to place ornaments on the tree honoring their sons and daughters.


Miller Park Zoo Readies For Popular Wild Lights Event

A family-friendly event is how the leader of a Bloomington entity describes one of their most popular events.


Wild Lights is one of the few night time events where patrons can check out the Miller Park Zoo and it is also one of their most popular events. Superintendent of the Zoo, Jay Tetzloff says it is a peaceful pair of evenings and believes it is a family-friendly event.



Wild Lights will get a great crowd over their two nights and Tetzloff says while they could likely support a second weekend for the even, because of volunteers and vendors availability, he is not sure it could happen.



The Zoo Lady and Her Crew face painting will be on-site and there will be crafts and activities for the kids along with 30 to 50 volunteers who will be working the event as well.


The event is this Friday and Saturday night from 5 pm to 8 pm. Cost is $7 for kids 3-and-up. Kids 3-and-under are $3. 


Monticello Schools Say No To E-Learning

Monticello schools are joining a large group of central Illinois districts to decline the opportunity to use weather days as at-home learning days.


The State of Illinois has given all districts the chance to use days when the weather prevents students from being in school the opportunity to have kids learn at home, mostly through the use of electronic, thus e-learning days. School leaders in central Illinois are split on the decision and Monticello schools recently declined the opportunity. Dr. Vic Zimmerman says it just wasn't for them.



Dr. Zimmerman has few concerns their upper-levels could pull off an e-learning day but questions how they could make it work at their elementary levels.



The two main concerns for districts were how to make e-learning work for lower-level students and connectivity for their kids. Dr. Zimmerman says while Monticello does not face low-income student ratios like their neighbors, connectivity is certainly an issue for every district at some capacity.



According to Dr. Zimmerman, the guidelines set by Springfield aren't necessarily what he's concerned about, instead, he wants to wait and see how it goes for other districts and find out what kinds of results they have with it. 



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