Local News

DeWitt County Board Chair Provides Details on Marina Sale

Last month, the DeWitt County Board surprised many by approving the sale of the Clinton Lake Marina to an outfit out of Sullivan.

 

Many viewed the Department of Natural Resources as the favorite to be the next owner of the marina but Board Chair Dan Matthews says DNR did not provide a very comprehensive proposal and he felt there were better proposals from others in the process.

 

 

According to Matthews, the Board last month set conditions for the sale of the marina.

 

 

Among those conditions is the first right of refusal should the new owner sell the marina in the first five years. Some have questioned that condition because it leaves open the possibility after five years, the owner could sell the property off and the marina would be shut down.

 

 

According to Matthews, the sale is going to take some time and there are still some things to iron out before it becomes official. He notes in the meantime, there is going to still be activity out at the marina as the upcoming boating season soon kicks into high gear.

 

 

For Matthews, having someone own the Marina is going to mean that group will have more skin in the game and he believes having the County out of the Marina business will allow more timely improvements and quicker decision-making. He felt the way the government operates slowed down progress at the marina. 

Preparing For Next Tax Season With Social Seurity Business Services Online

Tax day may be in the rearview mirror but Social Security has some things for business leaders to keep an eye out for already for next year.

 

Employer wage reports were due to Social Security at the end of January and IRS regulations reduced the electronic filing threshold from 250 W-2s to 10 informational returns. Jack Myers with Social Security says more employers now need to take advantage of Social Security’s Business Services Online. Some companies/organizations handle the wage reporting themselves, others hire accountants or payroll services to handle it. 

 

 

Once that connection is made, you will then request services you would like to perform for your employer in BSO. Myers adds some of the options include, W-2/W2c Online, Wage file upload, the AccuWage Online, and Social Security Number Verification Service.

 

 

Additionally, Myers notes to use Business Services Online, we now require authentication through your mySocialSecurity account. Therefore, you’ll need to establish or link your mySocialSecurity account to Business Services Online.

 

 

Myers encourages employers to look ahead to next year and get your BSO access squared away now, before you need it next January. It can take some time to get everything set up. Especially if you wait until the peak time, so visit www.ssa.gov/bso today to get started.

 

There are helpful resources available via the “Customer support for wage reporting”  link on the BSO page. 

Illinois Farm Bureau Promoting Agritourism Webinar Series

As a result of listening sessions held with the agritourism industry, Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association have developed three webinars with industry insiders to engage farmers in a variety of topics. The agritourism miniseries will be held this spring says IFB Associate Director of Food Systems Development Raghela Scavuzzo.

 

 

More information at ilfb.org under the "Get Involved" tab.

DeWitt County Board Chair Weighs Has Continued Frustration With Enel Green Energy

The DeWitt County Board Chair has continued frustration with Enel Green Power over the curtailment of the Alta Farms II wind farm during severe weather.

 

The topic came up at Thursday night's DeWitt County Board Chair Dan Matthews told Regional Radio on the WHOW Morning Show Friday it is frustrating because Enel has only provided a written response to questions they have.

 

For Matthews, having the conversation face-to-face would be much better and would demonstrate a strong partnership. Having a face-to-face conversation is something he's wanted for some time.

 

At the Thursday night County Board meeting, Board member Joe Witte brought the topic up wanting to hear from Enel about how it curtails the turbines during weather events. 

University of Illinois Nutrition Expert Promotes Including Kitchen During Spring Cleaning

A nutrition educator at the University of Illinois Extension is offering some tips for spring cleaning and including your kitchen in your efforts.

 

Caitlin Mellendorf is a nutrition educator at the U of I Extension in DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties and says deep cleaning your kitchen might include pulling out appliances and cleaning the area around them as well as doing a thorough evaluation of your refrigerator or freezer and its contents.

 

 

Mellendorf encourages getting that grill out giving it a good cleaning before you throw food on it. 

City of Clinton to Address Downtown Sidewalks

 

Sidewalks in downtown Clinton will be addressed as part of an upcoming series of projects that is anticipated to be approved by the Clinton City Council in May. 

 

City Administrator Taylor Baxter says this is something that has been needed and now is the time to take care of these.

 

 

According to Baxter, some areas of the square are in desperate need of attention so they will prioritize the square and do them a little bit at a time. 

 

 

Baxter calls the project a significant investment and will be paid with dollars from the downtown TIF fund. 

Clinton Chamber of Commerce Readying for May Days

A busy spring season for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce wraps up in about another month with one of the biggest fundraisers of the year.

 

The annual May Days Festival is May 16-19 and Chamber Director Janice Peterson is busy getting final preparations together for one of Clinton's most popular events.

 

 

Last year, wristbands that were sold for the carnival sold out well in advance of the festival and some in the community could not purchase them at a discounted rate. Peterson says this year, they've doubled the number of wristbands they will sell.

 

 

The Chamber is seeking a non-profit to help with ticket sales inside the ticket booths at the carnival during the festival. In years past, Second Chance for Pets has volunteered but Peterson indicates they are unable to this year so they are looking for a non-profit to take their place.

 

 

Follow the Chamber of Commerce on Facebook for more on May Days as it approaches. Peterson is hoping to have some new offerings this year along with traditional entertainment and of course the carnival. 

 

The wristbands go on sale on Wednesday, May 1. 

Dock at Clinton Lake Removed by State of Illinois

A dock on Clinton Lake was removed by the State of Illinois.

 

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Captain John Williamson says the dock on the west side access ramp has been taken out. 

 

 

The State plans to rebuild the dock in that spot but it will not be complete until next year. Capt. Williamson says once it is done it will be nice but in the meantime, reminds boaters, to find another ramp if you need the dock.

 

 

The summer boating season has already begun. Capt. Williamson indicates they had a very busy weekend on Clinton Lake last weekend and anticipates the nicer days having more and more boats out as we ramp up towards the big Memorial Day weekend - one of the busiest if not the busiest on the lake. 

DeWitt County Board Discusses Next Step in Marina Sale, Wind Farm Curtailment Issues

A brief meeting of the DeWitt County Board was highlighted by brief discussions on a variety of topics.

 

If you've noticed curtailment issues with the Alta Farms II wind farm during severe events - you're not alone. DeWitt County Board member Joe Witte called on the Board to bring Enel representatives to have a discussion about its protocols during severe weather.

 

 

DeWitt County State's Attorney Dan Markwell gave an update to the Board on the latest with the sale of the Marina. The Board approved the sale of the marina last month and Board Chair Dan Matthews says they will still need to have a special meeting soon to get the agreement approved.

 

 

Finally, the County is seeking to move off its agreement with its current IT provider and go with someone else. County Clerk Kari Harris told the Board they are not getting the service they once did.

 

 

In regards to the IT contract, County Administrator DeeDee Rentmeister told the Board they met with individuals from the City of Clinton and a few other local entities about the issue and they too agreed it was time to move off the IT company collectively.

 

Additionally, Harris and Rentmeister say they have been contacted by other Counties in Illinois about their experiences with this company and other places are reporting similar issues. 

Clinton City Council Approves FY25 Budget

The Clinton City Council approved the Fiscal Year 2025 budget Tuesday night.

 

City Administrator Taylor Baxter believes there are a lot of positive things to tout with this year's budget. On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, he told Regional Radio that among them is the fact revenues for the City are up.

 

 

While revenues are up, Baxter points out costs are also going up. Inflation has a lot to do with it. He explains they have to dip into reserves to cover some major projects that are on the books for this budget.

 

 

According to Baxter, you will not be happy to hear your water bills is increasing again. It was late last year, the DeWitt County Sanitation District announced they would be increasing their fees for a new plant and now the City of Clinton will increase its rates due to rising costs.

 

 

For many years now, the City's pensions for police and fire have been well funded and it has been something city officials have touted. Baxter applauds City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter for his diligence and foresight to make sure those funds are healthy.

 

 

Another driving for the rising costs for this upcoming budget is the latest increase in minimum wage which touches so many departments within the City.

 

Despite some of the tough things to hear, Baxter says the City of Clinton is in a very sound position financially and credits City departments for diligent budgeting and setting the City up for long-term success. 

Clinton Elementary School Has New Principal

Last month, the Clinton Board of Education approved the resignation of first-year Clinton Elementary School Principal Kelly Morrison.

 

Earlier this month, the Board of Education approved the hiring of Paul Ranstead. On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Superintendent Curt Nettles told Regional Radio Ranstead stood out among the other candidates for the position.

 

 

While the applicant pool for the position was not a large number, Nettles believes they had quality candidates with several who would have made great principals at Clinton Elementary School.

 

 

Nettles had high praise for Ranstead saying they searched high and low and found no one that could say anything bad about him. Nettles believes Ranstead will be a great leader.

 

 

Many may question the longevity of Ranstead in the district as this will be the building's third principal in three years. While he recognizes that is accurate, he says you know when you've got a good administrator. 

 

 

Ranstead comes to Clinton from Decatur where he is an elementary principal. 

Gov. Pritzker Weighs in On Logan County Prisons' Future

The Governor is still pushing for nearly a billion dollars to rebuild two prisons.

 

JB Pritzker wants Statesville and Logan to be torn down and replaced. Not everyone is on board with what they claim are many unknowns. Public input will be coming at hearings, but the Governor says both have long outlived their usefulness.

 

 

A press release from the Department of Corrections says Statesville in Joliet will be torn down and rebuilt. The release doesn’t specify if the Logan facility would be rebuilt on its existing footprint in Logan County, near Lincoln. It’s one of two prisons dedicated to female inmates.

Farmer City Exploring Regulating Its Own Zoning Ordinances

Farmer City is exploring regulating its own zoning ordinances.

 

City Manager Sue McLaughlin indicates the County of DeWitt is the governing body for zoning in Farmer City but they are finding out what it would take to make that happen for themselves.

 

 

According to McLaughlin, the process of adopting ordinances already in place at the County level and making them Farmer City's ordinances is not difficult.

 

 

McLaughlin points to some of the growth happening in the community as its primary reason for wanting to take charge of its own zoning.

 

 

The City of Farmer City is looking for members for its zoning board of appeals. She notes that would be a board that meets about twice a year. If interested, reach out to Farmer City Hall for more information. 

University of Illinois Extension in Springfield Advocating for Funding, Support

The University of Illinois Extension was in Springfield this week advocating for funding for its services.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Terri Miller-Casey, Extension Director for Logan, Menard, and Sangamon Counties, indicates she was among several Extension personnel getting in front of Illinois lawmakers advocating for its services and benefits to its communities.

 

 

One of the messages from Miller-Casey and her peers is the fact the University of Illinois system and other public university campuses are also very important to their operations.

 

 

Extension has many great local and state programs coming up that are always free and many are even archived on their website, extension.illinois.edu. 

 

You can Google search to find your local Extension office. We'll have more with Miller-Casey on some of those programs coming up soon on Regional Radio. 

Local Fire Crews Respond to Monday Barn Fire Near Wapella

Wapella fire was called to a rural shed fire on Monday afternoon off US Highway 51 between Clinton and Wapella just after 3:30 pm.

 

Flames were through the roof when crews arrived and crews responded with a master stream of water. Water supply became an issue for a short time before crews were able to recover a steady stream. 

 

Wapella Fire was assisted at the scene by the Clinton Fire Department and Randolph Fire Department. 

 

The roof of the structure had fallen and the Village of Wapella provided a backhoe to remove the roof from inside the structure. 

 

The fire was extinguished without any further damage to adjacent buildings.

Authorities estimate another barn structure was within approximately 30 feet and additional concerns of power connecting the two buildings. 

 

Crews were on scene for approximately three hours. 

 

No injuries were reported in the incident and the building and its contents are a total loss. 

 

The cause of the fire is accidental. 

 

Authorities thank Dewitt County EMS, the DeWitt Sheriff's Office, The Village of Wapella, and DeWitt County CenCom for their assistance in this event and all the others they encounter. 

DNR Issues Reminders About Mushroom, Turkey Hunting

The turkey hunting season opens this week in Illinois and that means an annual overlap of turkey hunters and mushroom hunters.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Capt. John Williamson told Regional Radio the overlaps can cause quite a stir at Clinton Lake.

 

 

According to Capt. Williamson, if you're going to mushroom hunt on State property, you need to make sure it is open for mushroom hunting.

 

 

Capt. Williamson reminds the DNR app and website have access to a lot of things outdoorsmen may need like getting fishing licenses and regulations for your local recreation area. 

 

Visit dnr.illinois.gov or find the DNR app by searching 'Illinois Outdoors' on the Apple Store or Google Play. 

June Through August Looking Overall Pleasant, Wet

An above-average temperature trend has dominated the midwest this spring and while it is carrying into the summer months, we're not looking at a record summer for heat.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates we could see more storm activity than usual this summer but in terms of extreme heat, nothing he is seeing would suggest we're in for an unbearable summer.

 

 

The El Nino of the winter has moved on and the planet is starting to transition to a La Nina trend for the winter. Shimon indicates we'll see our share of very hot summer days, but it won't be prolonged summer heat.

 

 

April is trending above normal for temperatures the rest of the month and the rest of the spring remains in an above-normal temperature and precipitation trend - so will get our share of April showers.

Illinois Farmer Brings Attention to Estate Tax Legislation

An effort to update estate tax law in Illinois is gaining traction. Bi-partisan legislation has been filed this spring called the Family Farm Preservation Act. Whiteside County farmer Jeff Brooks of Prophetstown testified on behalf of the measure in front of the Illinois House Revenue Committee last Friday.

 

 

The legislation has 23 sponsors in the Illinois House and 20 in the State Senate.

OSF Healthcare Bringing Attention to Autism in Adults

Cases of autism in adults are underreported. That's the word from OSF Healthcare and Dr. Theresa Regan...

 

 

It can be harder to diagnose autism as an adult as it intersects with other conditions. Nevertheless, Dr. Regan is hoping that more open discussion of autism among adults will get people to see their doctor and discuss the topic.

Clinton Chamber Director Reacts to Last Month's Business Expo

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce annual business expo saw a lower turnout and lower participation this year.

 

While that's the admission of Executive Director Janice Peterson, she believes there are things they can do next year to rebound and return the expo to the great event it was for many years.

 

 

According to Peterson, the survey they send out that follows up the expo with the exhibitors is asking for the time to be scaled back more. This year the Chamber scaled back the length of the expo by 30 minutes. Peterson also heard positive things from exhibitors.

 

 

The public also suggested the Chamber offer some sort of food or concession at future expos. She thought that was a good suggestion.

 

She anticipates changes for next year and hopes to see more participation from both exhibitors and the community. 

Community Action's 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' Comes Up April 27

The biggest fundraiser of the year for a central Illinois non-profit is later this month.

 

Breann Titus is the Director of Agency Impact with Community Action and says their 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' event comes up on April 27. It is a night of music, food, and fun.

 

 

Titus believes two things make 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' a must-attend for their supporters and it's the food and the casual nature of the night. She says they feed their supporters great food and offer a relaxed atmosphere.

 

 

Cheeseburger in Paradise is a fundraiser for Community Action that helps them bridge the gap between what grants they receive and where those grants end but the community still needs support.

 

 

Titus says there are still tickets available for this year's event. Find information at capcil.info or find Community Action on Facebook. 

Repaying Overpayments From Social Security

Last week on Regional Radio, we highlighted options for anyone on Social Security who may have received an overpayment from the agency.

 

It doesn't happen often but Jack Myers at Social Security says there are options for those who do and there's a reason for some of the changes made that were highlighted last week. Among those include Social Security reframing guidance and procedures so that the burden of proof shifts away from the claimant in determining whether there is any evidence that the claimant was at fault in causing the overpayment. 

 

 

Reporting responsibilities vary depending on the type of benefit you receive. Myers points to circumstances like supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based benefit - therefore any change to your income, resources, or living arrangement could affect eligibility and should be reported to Social Security. Additionally, Social Security benefits that are based on disability have a monthly earned income limit. 

 

 

Myers adds receipt of a pension based on work that was not taxed by Social Security will most likely impact your Social Security benefit and should be reported.

 

 

There is a lot to consider on this topic but again, Myers points anyone wanting more specific questions answered to contact your local Social Security office and speak directly to a representative. Or visit the 'Overpayment Fact Sheet' available in the publications section of www.ssa.gov.

What's next for SAF?

Coming off the inaugural Illinois Sustainable Aviation Fuel Conference, organizers are determining what’s next. Here’s I-L Corn’s Public Policy Manager Rachel Dame.

 

 

The initial Illinois S-A-F Conference was last month in Lisle.

Dealing With Persistent Robocalls

Robocalls are back in big numbers after a decline during the pandemic and are presenting a possible threat to us all. 

 

If you answer your phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live voice on the other end, it’s a robocall. Scammers often use this method to try and get your personal information, money, or both. Better Business Bureau Investigator Don O’Brien says there are some exceptions to the no-call registry.

 

 

If you haven’t given a company permission to call you, then these marketing calls are likely illegal. The best way to avoid the pitfalls presented by these scammers, O’Brien says, is to just hang up the phone.

National Weather Service Promoting Outdoor Sports Safety

 

Severe weather can pop up at any time, including in the middle of a youth sports event.

 

That's why the National Weather Service is encouraging organizers of events this spring and summer to have plans in place for getting players, coaches, and spectators to safety when storms pop up around their events.

 

 

That's Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln who points those event planners to weather.gov for planning resources, weather forecasts, and much more.

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