Local News

Warner Library's Paula Lopatic Announces Retirement

This summer, the Warner Library's Summer Reading Club will be the last for long-time children's librarian Paula Lopatic.


Last week on the WHOW Morning Show, Lopatic indicated to Regional Radio News it will be hard to top last year's summer reading club because of the quality programming they put together but is excited to see what happens next for the kids programming.



Lopatic says she already enjoying the final events of her time at the library, like reading The Polar Express to the Lincoln and Douglas School elementary students the day before Christmas break. 


According to Lopatic, her decision to retire came within the last few months and will have been at the library for 40 years. She jokes, what she is dreading most about the whole situation is having to clean out her office. 


County Fair Heads Meet With Funding On Their Minds

The Illinois Association of County Fairs has set up shop in Springfield with their annual convention. Over the next few days they will hold a meeting and host the State County Fair Queen contest. 
Ken Tyrrell, the incoming President of the Association says that they hear from their members that the financial burden of running a fair is growing as state funding dries up.



73 county fair queens walk the stage on Sunday night and the winner will become the State County Fair Queen and reign throughout the year and be a major part of the Illinois State Fair.


Bustos Talks Debt Relief for Student Loan Borrowers

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos casting a vote in favor of House Joint Resolution 76 this week. The measure is intended to stop the Department of Education from implementing a policy that may prevent some college students from receiving debt relief from supposed to predatory lenders...



The Joint Resolution called the Borrowers Defense Rule is a policy implemented by the Obama Administration that would increase eligibility criteria for relief available for defrauded student loan borrowers. The policy was altered by the Department of Education late last year and HJR 76 is aimed at reversing that policy alteration.


LaHood Weighs In On USMCA Passage

As the US Senate is waiting to vote on an updated NAFTA, Republican Congressman Darin LaHood says farmer and other businesses shouldn’t have to wait any longer for final approval.



The replacement for NAFTA, the USMCA is expected to be called for a vote in the Senate in the next few weeks. Democrat Dick Dubrin has said that he will vote for the new trade deal.


Clinton Chamber Substitutes Annual Ag Banquet with Donation to DeWitt County FFA Chapters

There will be no ag banquet hosted by the Clinton Chamber of Commerce this year, so in substitute for the event, the Chamber gathered with representatives from DeWitt County FFA Chapters to donate the leftover funds from their ag banquet account. 

Chamber Executive Director, Marian Brisard says interest in the annual event has declined over the years and so the Chamber decided to use the funds from that event they had leftover to support the FFA chapters of Blue Ridge and Clinton.



According to Jacqueline Meisner, FFA Advisor for the Blue Ridge Chapter, she and her students were very excited to receive the $1,000 surprise gift. She says this will their officer retreat in the summer.



Lee Deal is the Clinton FFA Chapter Advisor and she, like Meisner, was surprised to learn of the amount the donation would be. She explains they are going to be able to do a lot with the $1,000.



Clinton FFA numbers are up by 20 this year. Meisner indicates Blue Ridge has also increased its membership this year and is pleased to report around 80 to 90 percent of their members are participating in the various opportunities offered by FFA. 


LaHood Worries Rural Illinois Could Lose Seat in Congress

As reports of Illinois population decline continues one immediate concern is the loss of a seat in Congress. And the loss of a seat is expected to hit downstate Illinois and rural communities. 
Republican Congressman Darin LaHood from the Peoria area says the state’s in competition with 49 others to keep the population and build and grow communities. And as he watches the population shrink he’s concerned about the voice of rural Illinois being diminished.



Illinois currently has 18 Congressional seats ranking 5th in terms of overall representation in Congress.


Trump Touts Big Increases in Ag Purchases From China

The first part of a trade deal with the Chinese has been signed. President Donald Trump held a ceremony at the White House to sign the agreement that he says will bring big jumps in business to the nation’s farmers. Trump says that purchases from China will increase $50 billion over the next two years. He says farmers should be ready then to work harder to fill China’s needs.



The Illinois Farm Bureau says in a statement they are interested in the dollar amount of agriculture purchases to be made in the coming years by China. And Illinois farmers are well-positioned to fulfill China’s demand for soybeans, pork and additional commodities.


Durbin Expects Both Sides to Be Impartial During Impeachment

The United States Senate is preparing for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. They were sworn in Thursday by Chief Justice John Roberts. 


US Senator Dick Durbin says all senators need to remain impartial before the trial starts and is equally disappointed in Democrat Senators strongly coming out against the President and in the Senate President Republican Mitch McConnell for aligning himself so closely with the White House.


The bulk of the trial isn’t expected to get underway until Tuesday.


Sen. Rose Sounds Off on Wind Energy

"The wind industry is filled with a lot of awful people who don't know how to be a good neighbor" is how a local lawmaker recently described wind companies that are trying to make headway in central Illinois.


During a discussion on the WHOW Morning Show that centered around legislation that could jeopardize the viability of the Clinton Nuclear Power Station, Sen. Chapin Rose says wind companies have come to central Illinois and pitted quote - "brother against brother, cousin against cousin". 



Whether you are for wind or against it, the Senator says companies are coming in, getting what they want and leaving the destruction behind, not caring about it. He weighed in on how the subsidies have impacted energy production companies.



Sen. Rose is challenging anyone interested in closing facilities like the Clinton nuclear power plant to read research reports from the University of Illinois and review the impacts it could have. He feels the impacts are pretty clear in those reports. 


Monticello Schools Anticipating Spring Play to Be Held in Renovated Auditorium

The Monticello High School spring musical is on track to be held in the renovated auditorium.


Monticello Schools Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman announced that the auditorium is on pace to host the scheduled musical, "Mama Mia" in the spring. The auditorium work is just one of the many projects going on in the multi-million dollar facility addition.



Monticello High School hosts its annual Holiday Hoopla tournament each winter for three days that follow Christmas. Dr. Zimmerman suggested Thursday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, perhaps with a new gymnasium that tournament could see some expansion at some point in the future.



Dr. Zimmerman reminds the community, this coming summer will be a long summer because of the construction of the facility. He explains they will have a start date of September 1 in 2020.



Work that will bleed into the next school year will be a lot of the classroom renovations and Dr. Zimmerman says that force their students and staff to be flexible while that goes on. 


Lincoln Police Chief Discusses Legalized Marijuana

The Lincoln City Council recently approved a measure to allow for a recreational cannabis dispensary in the community, if approved by the State of Illinois.


Wednesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show's Hometown Tour stop in Lincoln, Police Chief Paul Adams weighed in on how the legalization of recreational cannabis could impact their department. He notes to get in line with the law, they revamped their city ordinances.



The Chief points out his officers are training to currently enforce the laws and educate the public.



There are a lot of things to clear up about the law for those who want to use recreational cannabis and those who are opposed to its use. Chief Adams says they want to make sure everyone understands all sides of this change.



According to Chief Adams, the laws of recreational cannabis almost directly mirror alcohol. From the dispensary to your home, the laws of the two are nearly identical. 


Ameren Readies for Winter Storms

As weather models for the weekend show the potential for winter weather, Ameren Illinois is at the ready if they are needed to help restore power. The utility was ready last weekend had the snow and ice caused widespread power outages, and a spokesman says that’s just what they do.


Ameren Illinois operates eight storm trailers stocked with critical supplies that enable crews to quickly and safely restore power after a storm. Senior Director Daetta Jones explains they move their storm trailers as close to where they are necessary as possible.



Each storm trailer contains enough equipment to supply several hundred crews and restore power to hundreds of customers. After power restoration is complete, a storm trailer is returned to its home base in Decatur, where it is restocked and prepared for its next deployment.


Sen. Rose Believes It Will Be A Fight To Keep 2016 Energy Legislation in Place

Last month, it the proposal to repeal parts of legislation from 2016 that saved the Clinton Nuclear Power plant and allowed to remain operational for 10 years.


Thursday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, State Senator Chapin Rose told Regional Radio News it will likely take a fight to keep the legislation in place. He believes opponents of the law will guilt Democratic Governor JB Pritzker into doing something.



According to Sen. Rose, doing away with the nuclear subsidy in this legislation would increase the subsidies for wind and solar but it would still raise prices.



Sen. Rose believes the environmental community is trying to portray the Governor as a 'do nothing liberal on the environment'. While he disagrees with that idea, one of the few things the Governor didn't address was energy and as the Senator studies this more, he believes more and more this is going to be a battle.


Initially, the Senator thought this was simply a press release bill, but indicates he has become far more concerned about it.  


Stuffed Animal Sleepover at Warner Library Friday

It will be a cuteness overload at the Warner Library in Clinton this Friday with an event they are bringing back.


Children's Librarian Paula Lopatic says children are going to be able to drop their stuffed animals at the library Friday night and when the kids head home for the night, the stuffed animals will share some "adventures" throughout the night and the kids will get a scrapbook of the memories they create the next morning.



Throughout the night, the stuffed animals will participate in several adventures with their peers and Lopatic says that will all be documented in the scrapbook they get Saturday morning.



The first time the library, they had around 40 stuffed animals that participated. 


Those stuffed animals can be dropped off at the library between 9 am and 5 pm Friday and then picked up between 9 am and 10 am Saturday. 


Heavy January Rains Coming With Concerns

An uneasy feeling building as heavy January rains drench portions of Illinois this past weekend. That’s not a good sign after the flooding issues the state experienced last spring and summer says meteorologist Dan Hicks with Freese-Notis Weather.



Many areas of Illinois had between 1-to-3 inches of precipitation just from that one system last weekend.


Farmland, Timberland Market Remains Strong

How did farmland fare in 2019? It’s still a great investment says Chase Burns, a local real estate broker and land specialist with LandGuys, LLC based in Springfield.



He says the market for recreational hunting ground or timberland is also in a good. In addition to Illinois, LandGuys, LLC also does business in Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Indiana.


Bement Schools Praising Mental Health Counselor Partnership

A Piatt County school district is praising the various organizations that helped bring a mental health professional to their district and believes it has been a huge success.


Dr. Sheila Greenwood is the Superintendent of the Bement School district and credits the Piatt County Mental Health Center, Kirby Medical Center in Monticello and the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department for creating this partnership to bring a mental health counselor to their district along with Monticello and DeLand-Weldon Schools.



As mental health issues continue to be more of a focal point in today's world, Dr. Greenwood indicates the Illinois Youth Survey gives them a great deal of information on what kids are dealing with. She points out the breakdown of students that needs help is interesting.



Dr. Greenwood also believes as screen time increases in youth today, there will be a direct increase in attention and communication disorders. 



Dr. Greenwood says the statistics they are getting back are very similar to the other districts in this collaborative. She notes, however, their student body is actually seeing more males seeking help than the other districts. Dr. Greenwood is very pleased to hear that. 


Lincoln Mayor Talks Council's Decision to Approve Legal Cannabis

Wednesday morning the WHOW Morning hit the road for its annual hometown tour and stopped at City Hall in Lincoln.


Local leaders talked about the community and the happenings, among the topics was the legalization of recreational cannabis. Mayor Seth Goodman says the council vote was split and explains why he decided to support the measure for a dispensary in the community.



The Mayor believes if a potential dispensary comes to Logan County, Lincoln should be the benefactor of the tax dollars that come with it, rather than a neighboring community. He emphasizes it is not a guarantee Lincoln would even get a dispensary. 



Mayor Goodman notes Cresco Labs in Lincoln is expanding and that business could soon benefit from recreational cannabis in their community.



Cresco is a medical cannabis dispensary and those facilities have been given preference in becoming a dispensary for recreational cannabis in the early application process. 


DeWitt County Sheriff Weighs In On Legal Weed

We're just a mere two weeks into the legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois and a DeWitt County law enforcement official says there are a lot of things about the new laws that are not well put together.


DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker says the law was rushed and put together very poorly, pointing to open containers of legal cannabis, and whether possessing those in public or a vehicle is a violation.



Many have been critical of the inability of law enforcement to be able to accurately measure a driver's intoxication level but Sheriff Walker says they'll be able to do their typical sobriety tests until something is developed.



Not only could things get sticky from a legal perspective, but Sheriff Walker explains employers adopting a zero-tolerance policy on cannabis could be in a tough spot as well.



According to Sheriff Walker, hospitals are seeing a spike in emergency room visits from people that have used too much marijuana already. He notes, other parts of the country with legalized cannabis, for every dollar generated from marijuana sales, they are spending four-dollars in health care to treat illnesses associated with it. 


Community Action Cheeseburger in Paradise Tickets Going Quickly

A central Illinois non-profit is readying for their biggest event of the year and those that annually attend are already scooping up tickets.


Community Action's Cheeseburger in Paradise is not until April but Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez says they annually sell all their allotted tickets by the end of February. She indicates this is a fundraiser they have supporters that annually anticipate attending.



Cheeseburger in Paradise is the biggest fundraising event of the year for Community Action. Rumler-Gomez is very thankful they have great support from the community.



The event is Saturday, April 18 at the Lincoln Banquet Center beginning at 6 pm. You can get tickets by visiting capcil.info or calling 217-732-2159.


Heyworth Schools Looking to Add Video Scoreboard

Heyworth schools have started a capital campaign to add a video scoreboard to their football field.


Heyworth Superintendent Lisa Taylor indicates when discussions on their current facilities renovation began, the idea of a video scoreboard came up. The feelings of community members is a video board would be a great addition to their football facility, but could also have purposes. 



According to Taylor, many communities that surround McLean County have a one-cent sales tax in place that benefits school facilities, but they are not able to tap into those types of funds, which is why fundraising is the course of action to make this happen.



Taylor notes Heyworth has a booster club in the formative stage and looks forward to working with them on the scoreboard campaign. She feels the advertising campaign is a win-win for businesses with promoting their business and helping Heyworth schools.



Taylor says the video scoreboards will cost approximately $300,000 and their Board has budgeted for half. She notes the community has been very supportive so far with giving.


Mood Will Be Changing in US Senate

The US Senate is set to get articles of impeachment this week from the House of Representatives. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says that as he and 99 other Senators await the final action from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, one thing is for sure, once the process beings things will not be the same for a while in Washington D.C.



Durbin says he anticipates the Senate will be receiving the articles on Tuesday or Wednesday.


Mendoza Wants End to Exit Bonus for Lawmakers

The Illinois Comptroller is getting ready to write a check to a state lawmaker for an entire’s month’s work, even though they resigned their office on January 1st. Susana Mendoza says it’s wrong that she has to pay Democrat Martin Sandoval for the rest of the month, she calls it an exit bonus and wants it to stop.


Mendoza is backing legislation that would close the loophole and only pay lawmakers for the actual number of days they worked in a pay period. Mendoza called the practice





The Comptroller’s office issues paychecks to state workers. Mendoza also wants to pay lawmakers twice a month rather than once a month.


Dairy Industry Talks USMCA

Ag groups continue to push for final passage of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. What does USMCA mean for the dairy industry?



That’s Alan Bjerga with the National Milk Producers Federation.


Durbin Keeping Watch of Iran Protests

As protest rage in Iran, US Senator Dick Durbin says it’s an incredible turn of events. From citizens protesting an attack from the United States to quickly turning on their own government after it finally confesses to being complicit in the shooting down of a passenger plane.


Durbin says he hopes the changing in mood in the Iran populous will force the county to become more peaceful.



Durbin wants further negoations with leadership inside Iran to clam any more tensions with the United States.



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