Local News

Clinton City Treasurer Says City Bouncing Back Nicely From COVID

COVID is hitting rural America hard in light of the shutdowns from the spring and now further shutdowns in other parts of the country. 

 

Clinton City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter indicates the city has, quote - "recovered quite well from [COVID]". Sales taxes, gambling taxes, and other revenues were down but he notes things are bouncing back higher than they were before.

 

 

The 'use tax', or taxes on online sales, has been a huge boost to local governments. According to Lichtenwalter, it wasn't until recently the federal government was forced to taxes to go back to local communities where the purchases originated from.

 

 

Early on in the pandemic, it was feared the City might have to dip into reserves to recover from the pandemic but Lichtenwalter indicates if we can avoid another lockdown to the degree of the first one, the City should end up in a good enough position to not have to do that.

 

 

The City is just over halfway through the fiscal year with more possible mitigations for COVID ahead in Illinois as we hit the cold and flu season when many experts predict another spike in COVID is coming. 

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Blue Ridge Schools Saving Taxpayers Over Half-A-Million Dollars Refinancing Bonds; Issue Annual Levy

It's levy time in central Illinois as area taxing bodies assess where they are at and what their needs are.

 

Blue Ridge Schools levy in 2020 is looking very strong. Superintendent Dr. Hilary Stanifer announced they are refinancing bonds issued from 2012 that are going to save their taxpayers over a half-a-million dollars and doing the same with their 2014 bonds will allow them to make facility improvements. 

 

 

Additionally, the district has issued their levy for 2020 and Dr. Stanifer indicates their tax rate is dropping this year thanks to the bonds being refinanced. All the good news is something she is thankful for given the uncertainty ahead.

 

 

Clinton schools took a similar course of action as Blue Ridge Schools in refinancing bonds. Both were done to take advantage of low-interest rates. 

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2020 Monticello Main Street's Reds of Christmas

A favorite seasonal event in Monticello has adjusted for 2020.

 

Monticello Main Street Executive Director Shelly Crawford-Stock notes thirteen businesses will be open today from 11 am to 7 pm for the Reds of Christmas. Many of the participating businesses have special treats, giveaways, or discounts.

 

 

Crawford-Stock hopes in addition to the Reds of Christmas patrons will visit downtown Monticello to support local businesses on Small Business Saturday.


 

For those who do not feel comfortable shopping currently, Crawford-Stock indicates gift cards to many local businesses are available for purchase through the Monticello Chamber of Commerce's website.


 

For more information on the Reds of Christmas visit the Monticello Main Street and Monticello Chamber of Commerce Facebook pages.

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IDPH says to wait a week after Thanksgiving to get a COVID-19 test

IF YOU THINK YOU WERE EXPOSED TO COVID-19 OVER THE THANKSGIVING WEEKEND, THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDS WAITING A WEEK BEFORE GETTING TESTED. 

 

GOT TOGETHER WITH PEOPLE OUTSIDE YOUR HOME OVER THE HOLIDAY AND FEAR YOU MAY HAVE BEEN INFECTED? IT WON'T HELP TO GET TESTED RIGHT AWAY SAYS STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI EZIKE.

 

 

WHILE IT CAN TAKE 14 DAYS TO SHOW SYMPTOMS AFTER EXPOSURE...MOST PEOPLE WHO ARE INFECTED WILL END UP WITH A POSITIVE TEST AT DAY SEVEN SAYS STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI EZIKE.

 

 

EZIKE SAYS IF PEOPLE AREN'T CAREFUL AND GET TOGETHER IN LARGE GROUPS, SHE FEARS COVID CASES WILL SPIKE AGAIN OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS.

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The state to borrow $2 billion from the feds to help cover losses from the pandemic

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE STATE WILL BE BORROWING TWO BILLION DOLLARS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO HELP OFFSET REVENUE LOSSES DURING THE PANDEMIC. 

 

WITH THE LOSS OF JOBS AND HITS TO TOURISM, HOSPITALITY AND RETAIL, THE CORONAVIRUS HAS TAKEN A BIG CHUNK OUT OF STATE TAX REVENUES, TO THE TUNE OF FIVE BILLION DOLLARS. AND WITH NO STIMULUS PACKAGE TO HELP STATES WITH COVID COSTS YET, THE GOVERNOR SAYS ILLINOIS NEEDS HELP AND WILL BORROW TWO OUT OF THE FIVE BILLION DOLLARS AVAILABLE TO THE STATE.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE'S RELUCTANT TO ADD TO THE STATE'S DEBT, BUT THAT ILLINOIS NEEDS THE INFUSION TO CONTINUE TO MEET THE DEMANDS OF COVID-19 ON RESIDENTS AND THE ECONOMY.

 

 

PRITZKER SAYS HE'S HOPEFUL PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN AND CONGRESS WILL COME TOGETHER TO PROVIDE RELIEF TO STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND THAT THE ECONOMY WILL RECOVER ONCE A VACCINE IS WIDELY AVAILABLE.

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THE LOSS OF TAX REVENUE DURING THE PANDEMIC HAS COST THE STATE ABOUT FIVE BILLION DOLLARS.

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Ameren Illinois promoting energy assistance programs

If you need help with your heating bill this winter, Ameren Illinois is touting a pair of programs through their Energy Assistance program...

 

 

Susan Sams is the Executive Director of the Warm Neighbors Cool Friends Program through Ameren Illinois. The program was once just for help in the winter-time but has recently gone year round to offer Energy Assistance in the Summer months as well.

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Durbin interested in top Democratic spot on Senate Judiciary Committee

US Senator Dick Durbin says he wants the top Democrat spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The current Ranking Member is California’s Dianne Feinstein and she will not seek the leadership post in the next session of Congress. That leaves an opening that Durbin is ready to fill.

 

 

Senate Democrats almost always follow seniority levels when assigning committee leadership positions. Durbin’s spent 22 years on the committee.

 

He isn’t without a potential challenger – the Democrat in line after Durbin – Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island has a number of backers.

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LaHood talks Trump transition

A Republican Congressman from Illinois says he is glad that President Donald Trump has officially started the transition of power at the White House. But Darin LaHood does not think that Joe Biden has officially won anything just yet.

 

 

LaHood says that he wants to see a Federal Court case resolved in Pennsylvania before officially acknowledging the Biden win.

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DeWitt/PIatt Coronavirus Update

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department is reporting more coronavirus cases.

 

11/21/2020 Saturday

DeWitt: 2 new cases in Farmer City. 1 new case in Wapella. 1 new case in DeLand.

Piatt: 5 new cases in Monticello. 3 new cases in Atwood. 2 new cases in Mansfield. 1 new case in Cerro Gordo.

 

11/22/2020 Sunday

DeWitt: 5 new cases in Clinton. 3 new cases in Farmer City. 2 new cases in De Witt. 1 new case in Wapella.

Piatt: 5 new cases in Monticello. 3 new cases in White Heath. 2 new cases in Bement. 1 new case in Cerro Gordo. 1 new case in Milmine.

 

11/23/2020 Monday

DeWitt: 6 new cases in Clinton. 1 new case in Farmer City. 1 new case in Waynesville.

Piatt: 6 new cases in Monticello. 3 new cases in Hammond. 2 new cases in Cerro Gordo. 1 new case in Bement. 1 new case in Milmine. 1 new case in White Heath.

 

11/24/2020 Tuesday

DeWitt: 4 new cases in Clinton. 4 new cases in Farmer City.  1 new case in DeLand.

Piatt: 7 new cases in Monticello. 6 new cases in Bement. 3 new cases in Hammond.  3 new cases in White Heath.  2 new cases in Cerro Gordo. 2 new cases in Mansfield. 2 new cases in Atwood. 1 new case in Cisco. 

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 632 cases, Piatt County has had a total of 760 cases. An estimated 280 cases are currently active.

 

3 Additional deaths have been reported: one male in his 70s, one male in his 80s, and one female in her 80s all from DeWitt County.

 

The Health Department stated in a release that "Illinois State Police have started to issue citations to restaurants and bars in our area not complying with the mitigation measures and continuing with in-person dining/services."

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Heritage Behavioral Health Services Coordinating Mental Health Working Group

Bringing a local focus with realistic expectations and goals is the idea behind a working group being coordinated by a local mental health organization.

 

Jessica Smiley with Heritage Behavioral Health Services indicates they have brought together several community stakeholders from school leaders and social workers to community members. She says losses of young people in recent years propelled the group's formation.

 

 

According to Smiley, now that they have a group of local folks at the table, they are moving into the goal-setting phase and deciding what they want to focus on.

 

 

As the group continues to meet, to make their goals manageable, Smiley explains they want to focus on what can be done that does not require everyone to be together and they have targeted a couple of early initiatives to meet that goal.

 

 

Smiley says the group is meeting roughly once-a-month and they have been meeting since early on in the fall. 

 

For anyone interested in reaching out to Heritage for any emotional or mental health challenges they may be facing, you can reach them at 217-362-6262 or you can text Heritage at 552020. 

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Despite Warm November Days, Temperatures Still Normal in Central Illinois

Would you believe if someone told you temperatures are actually right at the averages for this time of the year?

 

You may not and it still is surprising to Chris Miller with the National Weather Services who indicates it is definitely hard to believe given a very moderate stretch of weather we saw in the middle of the month in central Illinois.

 

 

These are spring-like trends that are known are as a progressive pattern and Miller points out once you're in that pattern and headed to the winter, it is very difficult to break out of that.

 

 

Windy, windy, windy has been the theme of the warm days as well. According to Miller, windy days are also connected to those temperature swings.

 

 

Miller indicates there is a plethora of fascinating data available about this fall's trends at weather.gov. You can also find information on drought conditions in central Illinois and across the country as well as the latest in forecasts and any weather notices that are being issued. 

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Illinois State Police are boosting patrols for the holiday weekend

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS BOOSTING PATROLS FOR THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND. 

 

ALTHOUGH OFFICIALS URGE PEOPLE TO STAY HOME THIS THANKSGIVING, STATE POLICE WILL BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THOSE ON THE HIGHWAY SPEEDING AND DRUNK DRIVING SAYS TROOPER MINDY CARROLL.

 

 

WHILE THE STATE POLICE ENCOURAGES FOLKS TO STAY HOME THIS THANKSGIVING, SATURATED PATROLS WILL BE OUT THERE SAYS TROOPER MINDY CARROLL.

 

THANKSGIVING IS TYPICALLY ONE OF THE BUSIEST TRAVEL DAYS OF THE YEAR.

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Governor urges local governments to apply for COVID-19 relief grants before the December 1st deadline

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS URGING DOWNSTATE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO APPLY FOR COVID-19 RELIEF FUNDS BEFORE NEXT WEEK’S DEADLINE. 

 

MORE THAN 350 UNITS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT HAVE YET TO SUBMIT THEIR APPLICATION FOR THE FEDERAL CURE PROGRAM, WHICH REIMBURSES COMMUNITIES FOR PANDEMIC RELATED COSTS SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

SO FAR, ONLY ABOUT 118 MILLION OF ILLINOIS’ 250 MILLION DOLLAR SHARE OF FEDERAL CURE PROGRAM MONEY HAS GONE OUT OR IS ON THE WAY TO COMMUNITIES SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

THE APPLICATION DEADLINE IS DECEMBER FIRST. DETAILS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: DCEO DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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Illinois Treasurer's Money Match Program Returns $1.2-Million

ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS' “MONEY MATCH” PROGRAM IS RETURNING MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS TO THOUSANDS OF TAXPAYERS. 

 

THE PROGRAM AIMS TO GET UNCLAIMED CASH TO THE RIGHTFUL OWNER. NEARLY 13 THOUSAND NOTIFICATION LETTERS ARE GOING OUT, AND CHECKS WILL BE ISSUED AFTER THE ADDRESS IS CONFIRMED SAYS TREASURER FRERICHS.

 

 

THE TREASURER’S OFFICE IS IN CHARGE OF HOLDING UNCLAIMED PROPERTY LIKE THE CONTENTS OF LONG FORGOTTEN SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES AND STOCKS. 

 

TO CHECK IF YOU HAVE MONEY OR PROPERTY DUE YOU, VISIT THE WEBSITE: ILLINOIS TREASURER DOT GOV SLASH ICASH.

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State Launches Gambling, Addiction Study

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES IS LAUNCHING A STATEWIDE GAMBLING AND ADDICTION STUDY.

 

A TEAM OF RESEARCHERS WILL LOOK AT HOW PREVALENT GAMBLING ADDICTION IS IN ILLINOIS, ESPECIALLY AMONG MINORITY COMMUNITIES, AS WELL AS RISK FACTORS THAT LEAD TO PROBLEMS WITH GAMBLING SAYS D-H-S SPOKESPERSON PATRICK LAUGHLIN.


 

THE HALF A MILLION DOLLAR, YEAR LONG EFFORT IS FUNDED IN PART BY GAMING TAX REVENUE.

 

 

RESULTS OF THE YEAR LONG EFFORT WILL BE USED TO IMPROVE GAMBLING ADDICTION TREATMENT IN ILLINOIS.

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Kirby Foods' Sign Goes Up in Clinton

 

The Kirby Foods' sign went up this month at the former Clinton IGA in Clinton, as part of Kirby's extensive remodeling of the exterior of the building.

 

Kirby, an employee-owned company, purchased the former Clinton IGA from local owner Mike Chapman, last December 1.

 

 

Further remodeling is anticipated at the Clinton location.

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Warner Hosptial and Health Services Moving COVID Testing to Wellness Center Dec. 1

Beginning Tuesday, Warner Hospital and Health Services will move COVID Testing to the Wellness Center.

 

Paul Skowron, CEO of Warner Hospital of Health Services, indicates they made this decision because the tent they are currently using is not for inclement weather.

 

 

The hours for testing will remain at 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Skowron notes while the tent may still be up next week, testing will not be available there.

 

 

Skowron says the hospital has made recent additions to the Wellness Center's entrance in case of inclement weather. During rushes, individuals will have to wait in their car until the line shortens.

 

 

COVID testing is available through a doctor's order. The Wellness Center is at 418 West South Street in Clinton.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department To Hold Free COVID Testing Site on Dec. 5

Free COVID testing is coming to Monticello on Saturday, December 5.

 

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department will host free testing at their Piatt County location. Director Dave Remmert hopes they can get as many people tested as possible.

 

 

According to Remmert, Piatt County is beginning to see quite a spike in their COVID numbers in the last few weeks. 

 

 

Remmert indicates because of a lag in reporting and the delays they are experiencing in contact tracing, they are most of the time unable to provide their communities with up-to-date active COVID cases. 

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Piatt County Mental Health Center Receives Loan Forgiveness Grant

Piatt County Mental Health Center will now be able to offer student loan forgiveness for their employees, thanks to a recent grant.

 

Piatt County Mental Health Center Executive Director Tony Kirkman indicates, in February, he applied for a grant so that the Piatt County Mental Health Center could offer current and future employees student loan forgiveness through the federal program. In September, they had received the grant.

 

 

Kirkman says a community mental health center is a good starting position because you see a wide array of patients when compared with private practices. The experience paired with the loan forgiveness he feels would be very-attractive for recent college graduates.

 

 

To qualify for the program, applicants would have to remain in the position for two years to have a portion of their student loans forgiven. Kirkman notes this is an additional benefit he can offer that doesn't cost the county.

 

 

To learn more about the Piatt County Mental Health Center call, (217) 762-5371 or visit piattmhc.org.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Discusses Holiday Plans

Millions of families will have their plans altered this Thanksgiving thanks to the COVID pandemic.

Family gatherings will be a lot smaller and some people will connect via FaceTime or Skype or Zoom. DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert says his plans are being altered this year and hopes the public will limit the size of their gatherings.

 

 

While not everyone knows someone with a suppressed immune system or someone very elderly or even someone with multiple comorbidities, Remmert says doing simple things like washing your hands frequently and continuing to wear those masks are ways you can help do your part to protect those vulnerable populations.

 

 

While the last few days, the COVID numbers have seemed to level out in Illinois, Remmert does not see the recommendations of staying home and avoiding gathering together changing

.

 

Remmert indicates he was doing some research comparing the trends of the 1918 pandemic and indicates the 'Spanish flu' of 1918 had similar trend lines of the current COVID pandemic and also points out the winter after the first wave saw a tremendous second wave of infections. 

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State Fire Marshall Promoting Thanksgiving Kitchen Safety

THE ILLINOIS STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE IS WARNING ABOUT THE DANGERS OF COOKING FIRES THIS THANKSGIVING. 

 

WHILE EVERYONE IS FOCUSED ON PROTECTING THEMSELVES FROM COVID...FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ SAYS FAMILIES NEED TO REMEMBER OVEN AND STOVE SAFETY THIS WEEK AS WELL.

 

 

AND IF YOU'RE FRYING YOUR TURKEY:

 

 

FULTZ SAYS YOU ALSO WANT TO MAKE SURE THE TURKEY IS COMPLETELY THAWED BEFORE PUTTING IT IN THE FRYER. HE ADDS THAT YOU CAN SMOTHER SMALL FLAMES IN A PAN BY SLIDING A LID OVER THE TOP.

 

 HE NOTES THANKSGIVING IS THE NUMBER ONE DAY FOR FIRES INVOLVING HOME COOKING EQUIPMENT, WITH FOUR TIMES AS MANY AS USUAL REPORTED EACH YEAR.

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More Calls for Madigan to Resign

A conservative member of the House GOP says that it's time for two people to leave office.

Republican Grant Wherli says that it’s time for President Trump to concede. He adds the time has also come for House Speaker Mike Madigan to leave too.

 

 

Madigan has made no public comment about resigning.

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DeWitt County Board Chair Discusses Next Board, Likely End as Chairperson

Recognizing his time as Chairman of the DeWitt County Board is likely up, David Newberg says he looks forward to working with four new board members coming on in December and supporting the next person that has the support to serve in that post.

 

Friday on the WHOW Morning Show following up the Thursday night meeting, Newberg recognized it was likely the final time to represent the County on the show. He says it was a pleasure to work with some 'unbelievable people" the last six years.

 

 

While recognizing he likely won't be the next Board's Chairperson, he says he would support Terry Ferguson for that post. He points to Ferguson's work ethic and dedication to DeWitt County as reasons he would be a terrific board chair.

 

 

The reorganization of the DeWitt County Board will take place Monday, December 7 at 6 pm. The Board will also have a new vice-chair as Camill Redman exits the Board after the election. 

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Unemployment Fraud Remains A Big Problem in Illinois

UNPRECEDENTED UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD CONTINUES ACROSS ILLINOIS AND THE NATION.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL KWAME RAOUL SAYS SINCE JULY, HIS OFFICE HAS RECEIVED NEARLY FIVE THOUSAND COMPLAINTS ABOUT UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD, OFTEN IN THE FORM OF A FAKE BENEFIT DEBIT CARD. RAOUL SAYS ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM OF THE SCAM, NOTING HE RECEIVED A PHONY CARD IN THE MAIL.

 

 

RAOUL RECOMMENDS KEEPING A CLOSE EYE ON YOUR BANK STATEMENTS AND CREDIT REPORT IF YOU THINK YOU'RE INFORMATION HAS BEEN COMPROMISED.

 

 

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY IS TRYING TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH OF THE MORE THAN 17 BILLION DOLLARS PAID OUT IN UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS SO FAR MAY HAVE BEEN FOR FRAUDULENT CLAIMS.

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IDES Says They Are Doing Better at Processing Claims

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says they are doing better getting people signed up for unemployment benefits. 

 

The Acting Director of IDES Kristen Richards says the headcount at the start of the pandemic was half of what it was a decade ago. That lack of people inside the office and the remarkable demand for claims overwhelmed IDES.

 

 

IDES says now there is order to the call center and more than 1 million callbacks have been completed and everyone is guaranteed a call back.

 

IDES claims to have improved the certification process for those receiving benefits - and that keeps more people certified and cuts down on the need for anyone to call them in the first place.

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