Local News

Workforce Investment Solutions Offering Employers Help in Training Employees

If you are an employer in DeWitt or Macon counties needing funding to train employees, then Workforce Investment Solutions can help.

 

Larry Peterson with Workforce Investment Solutions indicates Workforce awards grants to employers to help cover the costs of training their existing employees. He gives an example of a payroll office they were able to help. 

 

 

Peterson says job training is even more critical now to be successful due to everchanging technology and industry standards. He notes employees who show initiative and want to be trained are more likely to be retained.

 

 

Workforce Investment Solutions has a condition on the grant that for the cost to be covered, the employer must pay their employees during the training. Peterson says there is no limit on the cost of the training.

 

 

Peterson notes while some employers may be hesitant about having to pay for the training upfront, it is worth the investment. He says the grant is to enable Illinois companies and employees to remain in the state and be able to compete with other companies out of state.

 

 

To learn more about the grant, contact Workforce Investment Solutions at (217) 875-8751, or visit worknetdecatur.org.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Compares COVID To Spanish Flu Pandemic Course

As the COVID pandemic has worn on, a central Illinois health official has continued to compare and contrast the events of modern-day to the Spanish Flu of 1918.

 

Dave Remmert is the Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department and has been closely following the trends comparing COVID and the Spanish Flu. He explains the two are following a very similar trajectory.

 

 

Remmert points out the Spanish Flu and COVID both fell off during the summer months and then had a resurgence in the late fall and early winter. He hopes the rest of the trends for COVID follow the Spanish Flu, which would be welcome news to everyone.

 

 

As the COVID vaccine rollout continues, things are becoming more efficient in Remmert's two-county area, especially as more vaccines are expected this week. He is thankful to all the healthcare workers that have stepped up to provide help during the process. 

 

 

The last few weeks, the Health Department has been informing the public of a shortage of vaccines after confusing with IDPH. This week it is anticipated more vaccines will arrive and Remmert is hopeful they will begin to return to their regular rates of vaccination, starting with those individuals that need second doses. 

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Central Illinois Nutrition Expert Offers Tips for Reforming Eating Habits

March is National Nutrition Month and in 2021 the hope is the public will seek to do what is best for them from a nutrition perspective.

 

Monica Nyman with the St. Louis District Dairy Council says a nutrition plan for one person that is effective may not be effective for someone else. She is encouraging trying new things and finding something that works.

 

 

If you'd like to start changing the way you eat, Nyman encourages trying something new every day of the week to start out. She explains if you focus on keeping your plate 'colorful' then that will go a long way in eating healthier.

 

 

Another tip from Nyman is to start planning your meals out after a week or two of trying a variety of foods. She believes it is helpful in keeping you on track and it makes the week go much better and away from things that may not be good for you.

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New Bill Could Help Small Business Farmers Sell Directly to Consumers

Small business farmers across the state could soon sell directly to consumers instead of only selling at farmers' markets under a new Act.

 

According to Kelly Lay, owner of D20 Pepper Products in LeRoy, the 'Home to Market Act' could bring small business farmers more opportunities.

 

 

In her second year of growing over 55 different varieties of peppers, Lay said State Representative Will Guzzardi of the 39th District is the bill's sponsor.

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Class of 2020 Receiving High Marks According to ISBE

THE GRADUATING CLASS OF 2020 IS RECEIVING HIGH MARKS FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN ADVANCED PLACEMENT EXAM SCORES. 

 

29 PERCENT OF STUDENTS IN THE CLASS OF 2020 RECEIVED A THREE OR HIGHER ON AT LEAST ONE EXAM. THAT'S AN INCREASE OF MORE THAN 12 PERCENT FROM 2010...A BIGGER JUMP OVER THE DECADE THAN ALL BUT FOUR OTHER STATES. THE ILLINOIS BOARD OF EDUCATION'S JEN KIRMES SAYS THESE A-P CLASSES ARE REALLY BENEFICIAL.

 

 

KIRMES SAYS THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPRESSIVE GIVEN THE PAST YEAR.

 

 

IS-BE SAYS NEW DATA ALSO SHOWS THAT WAIVING THE A-P EXAM FEE FOR QUALIFYING STUDENTS HAS LED TO A HISTORIC NUMBER OF LOW-INCOME TEENS SCORING A THREE OR HIGHER.

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WHOW Ag, News, Sports Programming Coming to 106.5 FM in McLean County This Spring

WHOW THE BIG 1520's agriculture, local news, and sports programming will be heard starting this spring on a new FM signal in McLean County.

 

Station officials have received approval from the Federal Communications Commission, to build a new 250-watt FM signal at 106-point-5 utilizing a tower on the west side of Bloomington-Normal.  It's expected the new signal will be on the air sometime this spring.

 

Station president and general manager Randal J. Miller said that WHOW is thrilled about bringing Central Illinois' Number One Ag Radio Station, to the county that produced the most corn and soybeans statewide in 2020.  

 

WHOW airs over 8 hours a day of agriculture programming, plus a live-and-local Morning Show, White Sox Baseball, Clinton Maroon high school sports, Clinton Little League and Legion Sports.  All of WHOW's programming is also streamed at illinoisfarmradio.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and Amazon Alexa.

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Decatur, Danville Could Lose MSA Designation and Federal Funds As A Result

Several cities in Illinois, including Central Illinois, could lose federal funds as a result of a proposed re-designation by the Federal Office of Management and Budget.

 

The recommendation to O-M-B by several federal statistical agencies, would change the designation of a "metropolitan statistical area" to cities with a core city count of at least one-hundred thousand, instead of having a core city count of betweeen 50 and one-hundred thousand.

 

Illinois cities that could lose the "M-S-A" designation include Decatur, Danville, and Kankakee, all because of loss of population. 

 

Many of these cities would be re-designated as "micropolitan statistical areas", and as a result, have federal funding and economic development implications.  

 

Several of the mayors in these cities have written letters to the feds asking that the change of designation for their city, be stopped so their designation as a "metropolitan statstical area" can remain.

In all, some 144 cities across the country could lose their M-S-A status.

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DeWitt County Friendship Center Resuming Support Groups This Week

The DeWitt County Friendship Center is restarting support groups this week.

 

Friday on the WHOW Morning Show, Executive Director Paula Jiles told Regional Radio News these are very important to seniors and their families and looks forward to getting them back going again. She adds daily activities are starting to pick up again as more seniors start returning to the Friendship Center.

 

 

As seniors get their vaccines, Jiles says more and more seniors are starting to return to the Friendship Center. She's hearing from seniors that have not been to the facility anywhere from six months to a year that they plan to return soon. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

The first week of March was absolutely glorious and more ideal weather could be on the way. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...

 

 

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Encore Developmental Services in Need of Donations

A DeWitt County non-profit aimed at helping area residents with developmental disabilities is in need of help.

 

Encore Developmental Services in DeWitt County is in need of donations for its thrift store on the community's east side. Executive Director Stephanie Coonce indicates it is typical to see donations decrease during the winter but with the impacts of COVID, they could use more donations than usual this spring.

 

 

As Encore brings back day-services clients and the need expands for those services, Coonce indicates keeping those residents safe is going to be a challenge in their current facility. She is hoping the community might consider helping them by donating things to help keep those folks distanced and safe when they are in the facility during the day.

 

 

Coonce reminds the public for donations for the thrift store or their day-services needs they ask for gently used items that can be resold or used right away. 

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Gov. Pritzker Announces New COVID Vaccination Awareness Campaign

THE STATE IS LAUNCHING A 10 MILLION DOLLAR COVID-19 VACCINATION AWARENESS CAMPAIGN.

 

THE CAMPAIGN AIMS TO REACH THOSE IN AREAS HARDEST HIT BY THE VIRUS. GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS WHILE IT'S A PERSONAL CHOICE WHETHER OR NOT TO GET THE VACCINE, HE WANTS EVERYONE TO HAVE THE FACTS.

 

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THEY WANT EVERYONE TO BE ABLE TO MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS ABOUT 21 PERCENT OF ILLINOISANS HAVE BEEN VACCINATED SO FAR, INCLUDING 47 PERCENT OF SENIORS 65 AND OLDER.

THE STATEWIDE CAMPAIGN FEATURES COVID PATIENTS, DOCTORS AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST LOVED ONES TO THE VIRUS.

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FDA Approves U of I COVID Saliva Test

NOW THAT THE F-D-A HAS APPROVED THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS' COVID-19 SALIVA TEST, OTHER STATE COLLEGES WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE GROUNDBREAKING SCIENCE. 

 

THE LOW COST, EASY AND QUICK SALIVA TEST HAS MADE THE URBANA CAMPUS ONE OF THE SAFEST PLACES TO BE SAYS U OF I PRESIDENT TIM KILLEEN...WITH THE RATE OF INFECTION THERE OFTEN BELOW ONE PERCENT. HE SAYS THE SO-CALLED "SHIELD" PROGRAM HAS BEEN A HUGE SUCCESS AND THEY ARE ANXIOUS TO SHARE IT WITH OTHER SCHOOLS IN ILLINOIS.

 

 

PRESIDENT KILLEEN SAYS THE TEST HAS RECEIVED WORLDWIDE ATTENTION.

 

 

EVEN BEFORE F-D-A APPROVAL, THE U OF I HAS BEEN SENDING THE SALIVA TEST TO CLIENTS ALL OVER THE WORLD INCLUDING COMPANIES IN SILICON VALLEY, OUT OF STATE UNIVERSITIES AS WELL AS NEW ZEALAND AND THE PHILIPPINES.

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February Was 10th Coldest on Record

ACCORDING TO PRELIMINARY DATA, LAST MONTH WAS THE 10TH COLDEST FEBRUARY ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. 

 

IT'S PROBABLY NO SURPRISE BUT TEMPERATURES IN FEBRUARY AVERAGED JUST 20 DEGREES. THAT'S 11 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD.

 

 

STATEWIDE PRECIPITATION AVERAGED ABOUT TWO INCHES IN FEBRUARY. FORD SAYS THE RECENT SNOW AND RAIN HAS HELPED IMPROVE SOIL MOISTURE CONDITIONS, ALTHOUGH PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN ILLINOIS REMAIN IN ABNORMALLY DRY TO MODERATE DROUGHT CONDITIONS.

 

 

FORD SAYS THE LONG TERM OUTLOOK CALLS FOR AVERAGE TO SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE TEMPS AND ABOVE NORMAL RAINFALL.

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Confusion at IDPH Leads to Shortage of Vaccines in DeWitt, Piatt Counties

DeWitt and Piatt County residents for a few weeks now have been hearing about a shortage of vaccines and that has delayed second doses for many residents and first shots for many more.

 

Initially, the shortage was due to weather concerns in mid-February but since that time, Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Dave Remmert has found out there was also confusion from IDPH in regards to the joint-health department status of the two counties.

 

 

Remmert indicates the shortage of vaccines for the last few weeks had him very concerned. He explains if the situation did not get better by this weekend, they could have been in real trouble but relief is on the way as a shipment of vaccines is anticipated early next week.

 

 

As the vaccine distribution continues, confirmed COVID cases continue to decline. Remmert points to the last week in DeWitt County there were several days without new confirmed cases and Piatt County's metrics continue to decline as well. 

 

We'll hear more from Remmert next week on Regional Radio News. 

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COVID Leads to Increase in Digital Use for Warner Library

When the Warner Library in Clinton closed due to COVID, patrons turned to digital resources in a big way.

 

Samantha Rusk is the Business Manager at the library and indicates digital services increased exponentially as people could not get access to the library and now digital remains a popular option.

 

 

As the use of digital services increased, Rusk says the library emphasized making sure there were plenty of resources available. She highlights the two digital platforms you can access with your library card through the Warner Library.

 

 

Rusk indicates they have a lot of overlap of patrons that are returning to the library and still using those digital resources. She reminds residents the library is open from 9 am to 7 pm Monday through Thursday and then 9 am to 3 pm Friday and Saturday. 

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Thursday Was 'National Stop the Scam Day'

The Social Security Administration and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have once again joined forces to raise public awareness about Social Security imposter scams during the second annual ‘Slam the Scam’ Day on March 4.  

 

Social Security scams - in which fraudsters mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments to fix purported Social Security number problems or to avoid arrest - are the number one type of government imposter fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and Social Security. Jack Myers with Social Security says to never give out any information to these people.

 

 

According to Myers, these efforts have been very costly for Americans, totaling around $174-million.

 

 

The agency has made concerted efforts to address this issue, including partnering with other Federal and State agencies to identify and pursue scammers, increasing employee and public outreach and education, raising awareness through marketing in post offices nationwide, and maintaining a Social Security/OIG workgroup to maximize resources and ensure a cohesive response. 

 

 

Myers reminds the public Social Security will never tell you that your Social Security number is suspended, contact you to demand immediate payment, threaten you with arrest, ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, ask for gift cards or cash, or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information or money.

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Secretary of State White Not Running for Re-Election

Voters for the first time since 1999 will have a new name to pick from on the Democrat side of the ticket for Secretary of State. Jesse White says he is not going to be running for a 7th term.

 

State Senator Michael Hastings is officially running for the office. The Democrat from Tinley Park says he wants to continue to expand online services from the Secretary of State.

 

 

Former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia have expressed a strong interest in running on the Democrat side too.

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Gov. Pritzker Not Lifting Mask Mandate

Illinois’ mask mandate isn’t going anywhere. As a few more states begin to end theirs or open events for larger gatherings, Governor JB Pritzker says mandating masks is still protecting public health.

 

 

Illinois remains in Phase 4, the Governor’s office hasn’t said much about when the state may progress to Phase 5, which would end capacity limits on events and businesses.

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4-H Readying for Return of County Fairs

It looks like the lemon shake-ups and livestock shows will return this year. Fair season in Illinois was nonexistent last year thanks to the coronavirus, but a U of I Extension 4-H Program Coordinator says this year looks favorable and the kids in 4H will have a chance to compete. Angie Abernathy says they have been advised to plan for in-person shows at the local county fairs.

 

 

In a normal year Illinois will see 104 county fairs and two state fairs between June and the third week of September.

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Congressman Davis Set to Meet With President Biden Thursday

Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis is set to meet with President Joe Biden this afternoon (Thursday).

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Davis told Regional Radio News he hopes to discuss infrastructure. Davis says this is the first time he'll meet with a Democratic President since he arrived in Washington, D.C.

 

 

The Taylorville Republican says his number one objective as it relates to infrastructure is to simply get something done. He hopes an infrastructure bill proposed by the President will not be a hidden climate bill.

 

 

The Congressman has indicated in the past he has had interactions with President Biden when he was the Vice President under Barack Obama. The two flew together on Air Force One. 

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Local Veterans Advocate Promotes Efforts Before City Council

Local veterans advocate Jeff Morlock has been instrumental over the years in getting local veterans connected to the 'Honor Flight' program that gives veterans a chance to see all the memorials in Washington, D.C. in a day and with that program on hold due to COVID, he says he wanted to find something to honor local veterans.

 

Earlier this year, Morlock started honoring fallen veterans with flags lining the processionals of their funerals thanks to efforts from local residents. Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting, Morlock discussed some of the things they've done so far this year.

 

 

According to Morlock, he hopes to involve veterans in other veteran's funerals. He explains they give the family a flag case with a picture of the veteran, the logo of the branch of the military they served in and he calls a pretty somber moment to be allowed to do that.

 

 

Morlock wants to make the program he's calling 'Battle Cross Crusaders' better. Monday he asked the Council for ideas and is also seeking community input. 

 

 

Commissioner John Wise commends Morlock for his efforts and believes it is a worthy cause. He explains he's been involved in some of the efforts this year and calls it very moving.

 

 

You can find Morlock's group, Battle Cross Crusaders, on Facebook. You can also call Morlock with questions about how to get involved by dialing 217-853-2530.

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Deland-Weldon Schools Exploring Summer School

A DeWitt County School district says they are exploring options for summer school but plans are not yet ironed out.

 

Amanda Geary is the Superintendent of Deland-Weldon Schools and has had only preliminary discussions with her principals about potential summer school options. She has been in touch with area superintendents and find out how those districts are handling summer school as well.

 

 

According to Geary, a focus for summer school in her district would likely emphasize the younger students to make sure they are where they should be to move on to the next level.

 

 

Additionally, Geary may not have the interest or need for an entire program for older kids but would have to look at the couple of individual students that may be struggling and see how they can help them.

 

 

Geary anticipates only needing a couple of teachers to operate a summer school program and anticipates having enough interest to pull off a 3 to 5-week program for just a few hours a day through the week. 

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March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month and a central Illinois dietician is promoting how the benefits of dairy in our nutrition plans.

 

Monica Nyman with the St. Louis District Dairy Council indicates nutrition guidelines recently changed and now offer more specific recommendations for various age groups. She points out one thing is universal about food - what we eat impacts our health.

 

 

In the revamped guidance, health officials continue to keep dairy as its stand-alone food group. Nyman points out an interesting change though is the recommendations for dairy consumption by age group.

 

 

Nyman points out three servings of dairy every day are still recommended. While the way people incorporate the recommendations into their daily lives looks different, she says there is a way to meet those recommendations.

 

 

Nyman encourages a visit to myplate.gov for the latest on the new recommendations. She points out, in older adults, protein and vitamin B12 are often under-consumed. She says three servings of dairy-rich foods help with both protein and B12. 

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McLean County No. 1 in Corn, Soybean Production

According to a USDA report, McLean County is number one in the U.S. for corn and soybean production.

 

McLean County corn production in 2020 was 63 million bushels - with soybeans at 19.2 million bushels. Here’s Mike Doherty, Senior Economist and Policy Analyst with the Illinois Farm Bureau.

 

 

Iroquois County, just south of Kankakee, came in a close second at 5% less corn production, and soybeans were behind by about 13%.

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Gov. Pritzker Addresses Vaccine Demand

Even as vaccine allotment is picking up for states, demand for COVID vaccination appointments is still outpacing supply.

 

Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says he wants more shots for everyone in Illinois but with more than 100,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson, one and done shot, coming this week there are more and more opportunities for citizens to get an appointment.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker says the state should have about 20 percent more vaccine to offer to residents by the end of the month. Illinois is averaging about 84,000 shots a day. But keep in mind once a person receives a Johnson & Johnson shot – they don’t have to come back for a second one and that will help to speed the number of people who are fully vaccinated.

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