As we enter a new year, today on Regional Radio News, we're looking back on 2017 and the top five stories from the year.
No. 5 (From February)
>>Clinton High School Set To Roll Out CDL Program Later This Month
If you're a farmer or grain elevator operator, a first of its kind program at Clinton High School might get your attention.
Clinton High School is set to roll out their long anticipated CDL program later this month. Principal Jerry Wayne indicates they have six students ready to begin the course in partnership with Richland Community College.
According to Wayne, the program will come at no cost to students as Write Stuff For Kids of Clinton has stepped up to foot the bill to start out.
Wayne believes the six students initially in the program is a good starting point for the program. He hopes to see that number grow as the program continues to build.
Wayne indicates this is the first CDL program offering at the high school level in Illinois. He credits Superintendent Curt Nettles with putting in the legwork to get this program off the ground.
UPDATE: By the end of the spring semester, around a half-dozen students had completed the course at Clinton High School and administrators anticipate the program continuing forward again in 2018.
No. 4 (From February)
>>Clinton City Council Approves Gas Station, Micro-Brew Groundwork
The groundwork has been laid for a new gas station and micro-brew businesses in Clinton.
Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting, the Council approved bringing an area of the community into a TIF district for a new gas station in Clinton. City Administrator Tim Followell indicates there's also a TIF re-development agreement for the coming oil company.
According to Followell, once the plans are all finalized at the next Council meeting, that will open the door for the company to begin the process of acquiring the properties on that block and begin their preparations of the land.
Additionally, the Council began laying the foundation for the community to host the increasingly popular micro-breweries. According to Followell, the Council approved the re-zoning of areas of town to host these establishments.
With the ordinance change, the next step for the community is to wait for the developers to come forward with plans.
UPDATE: The MachOne gas station has begun construction with plans to have an opening in the spring.
The micro-brew, planned for downtown Clinton, continues its development in the former dry cleaners location.
No. 3 (From December)
>>Ribbon Cutting Held For Trade Wind Energy Location in Downtown Clinton
A special ribbon cutting ceremony and open house was held Tuesday morning to welcome Trade Wind Energy to the Clinton business community.
The location will be next to the Edward Jones location in the former Magill Hotel, owned by the DeWitt County Restoration Association, or DCRA. Tom Swierczewski is Development Director for Trade Wind and speaks highly of the organization and says their retail space was too good to pass up.
Trade Wind Energy comes to the community with the goal of establishing a wind farm on the northwest portion of the county but according to Swierczewski, they also want to be a good community partner and give back and invest in local groups.
Adams says having Trade Wind Energy join Edward Jones Financial in the Magill Hotel. She adds the addition of Trade Wind Energy is also a vote of support for wind energy in DeWitt County.
Swierczewski invites anyone to stop by their office to sit down and talk about the issues that are already present with Trade Wind Energy's presence in the community. They are located on the north side of the square next to Edwards Jones Financial in the former Magill Hotel.
No. 2 (From February)
>>Clinton Jr. Hig School Put on Lockdown After Threat
An unsubstantiated threat forced the lockdown of Clinton Junior High School this morning.
Authorities were notified this morning shortly after 9 am of a threat made to the junior high school inscribed on a bathroom stall. Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates a thorough search of the school found the threat to be unfounded and students were released to normal activities just after 10:30 am.
With this being the second unfounded threat to the school in as many weeks, the Chief says they will take each threat seriously regardless of the source and treat students and staff safety as their top priority.
Authorities continue to investigate the threat.
[Less than a week later] Local authorities were once again called to Clinton Junior High School Tuesday at approximately noon for another threat made to the school.
A threat to the building was made for the third time in less than three weeks and according to a message sent via School Reach, the threat, which forced the lockdown of students, was once again unsubstantiated after two thorough searches of the building.
[The next day] Clinton Junior High School students gathered for an all-student body assembly first thing Wednesday morning in light of a rash of threats made at the building.
According to Superintendent Curt Nettles, the message from him was the behavior was appreciation for 99-percent of the student body that go through the day without causing a disturbance.
One final threat was discovered after school hours and the string of incidents ceased by the end of the month.
>>The Vault Project Ready To Move Forward
The Vault is a grassroots movement by a Clinton woman to bring a place for youth to have a safe place to hang out and find help if they need it.
Michelle Witzke set out to raise approximately $60-thousand for The Vault and in community support this year she has raised triple that. She explains there is enough to close on the building on the square and get started working on sustainability.
According to Mark Witzke, they expect to close on the site in the next few weeks with getting plans together soon thereafter. He hopes to get the project going with construction around mid-to-late summer.
Michelle says the community has been a great support so far. She explains a lot of skilled labor is going to be donated which should help them save a lot of money.
Along with entertainment that has been picked out by the youth, there will be support services. Witzke envisions counseling and tutoring along with other types of support services.
Witzke says they are aiming for $440-thousand for labor and construction costs but they will need additional monthly pledges to help keep the project going and sustainable.
Renovation of the inside of the former 'Indecent Xposure' is getting completely gutted inside and they are focused on getting things just the way they want inside.
Witzke hopes to have the first level of the facility by February of next year and the lower level complete by June of next year. She is thankful for all those that have helped out to this point.
Funding for The Vault continues to be a positive as well. Witzke indicates they have officially received their non-profit designation and have received several grants in recent months.
explains they have started a program for monthly giving for anyone interested.
While financial contributions are very much welcome and appreciated, Witzke hopes skilled laborers will consider giving of their time or supplies. She says having those contributions could be a big boost in the future.
According to Witzke, The Vault has raised just short of $260,000 and they would like to reach $300,000 by years end. She also points out they are a 501-C3 charitable organization.
She indicates reaching $300,000 would allow them to open their first floor of the former Indecent X-Posure building on the square and achieve part of their goal for providing a safe place for youth to go in the community.