Local News

Clinton Lake Authorities Ready For Increased Activity

April 1 the hot water side of Clinton Lake reopens and local authorities are readying for an increased amount of fisherman and boaters.

 

DNR Conservation Sargeant John Williamson indicates the hot water side of the lake closes down for the winter months to serve as a refuge for the lake's fish. April 1 is the first official day the hot water side re-opens.

 

 

New licenses are on sale now and are valid April 1 to March 31.

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Low income taxpayers urged to see if they're eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS REMINDING LOW-INCOME TAXPAYERS TO SEE IF THEY’RE ELIGIBLE FOR THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT. 

 

IT’S RECOMMENDED THAT WORKERS EARNING 54 THOUSAND DOLLARS OR LESS FAMILIARIZE THEMSELVES WITH THE E-I-T-C. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESPERSON TERRY HORSTMAN SAYS PEOPLE OFTEN MISS OUT ON THE CREDIT.

 

 

TAXPAYERS HAVE TO MEET CERTAIN INCOME AND RESIDENCY QUALIFICATIONS, AND HAVE TO FILE A TAX RETURN, EVEN IF THEY DON’T OWE OR ARE UNDER THE USUAL THRESHOLD FOR FILING. 

 

MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT TAX DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It should be a wet weekend but it will feel more like spring early in the week. State Climatologist office spokesperson Brian Kerschner has more...

 

 

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Durbin, DeVos Spar Over Special Olympics

Don't expect to see any Christmas card exchanges between Senator Dick Durbin and U.S.Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. They sparred over the proposed budget cut of 18 million dollars for the Special Olympics...

 

DeVos accused Durbin of playing politics on the issue...

 

 

Durbin, who has continued to criticize for-profit colleges, attacked DeVos for delaying borrower defense relief to tens of thousands of student borrowers defrauded by for-profit colleges. 

 

He also expressed his belief that the proposed elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program would add to teacher shortage woes in Illinois and across the country. 

 

President Trump told reporters late Thursday afternoon that he has moved the Special Olympics cut off the table, saying "I've overridden my people for funding the Special Olympics."

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Illinois Offering $700,000 in Grants to Specialty Growers

Illinois grants of more than $700,000 will be available over three years to specialty-crop growers to encourage fresh, locally grown produce.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced the program Wednesday. The money is allocated in the federal Farm Bill’s Specialty Crop Grant Program .

Applications are available on the Agriculture Department’s website and must be submitted by April 26. Eligible projects must begin in calendar year 2020. The first year’s distribution will be $237,000.

Illinois has more than 3,600 specialty-crop farms devoting more than 85,000 acres (34,000 hectares) to producing $500 million in crop sales.

State officials encourage grant proposals that center on subjects such as food safety, specialty crop research, supporting organic specialty crops, developing improve seed varieties, pest and disease control and more.

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Six Locks and Dams Closed on Mississippi River Due to Flooding

It won’t be easy navigating the Mississippi River this spring. Just ask Tom Heinold, chief of operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District. 

 

 

The Rock Island District on the Mississippi includes Lock and Dam 11 in Dubuque, Iowa all the way down to Lock and Dam 22 in Saverton, Missouri. 

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National Weather Service Calling For Equal Chances of Normal Precipitation in April

The Climate Prediction Center, a branch of the National Weather Service, says April is showing equal chances of normal precipitation.

 

Scott Baker with the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates the Climate Prediction Center is showing nothing that indicates things are going to above normal wet or below normal wet.

 

 

Looking at the rest of the spring season, Baker indicates the rest of the spring is showing an above normal amount of precipitation, however, the amounts above normal are not always certain.

 

 

According to Baker, forecasters use a lot of data from 5 to 10 years or even the past 30 years to predict forecasts and rainfall amounts. Additionally, current weather patterns also play into their predictions. 

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Democrats Push Graduated Income Tax

State Senator Toi Hutchinson joined Democratic colleagues from both chambers of the General Assembly to discuss the push for a graduated income tax. She discussed the alternatives and didn't paint them in a favorable light.

 

 

She was joined in a Capitol Press Conference by State Senators Andy Manar and Don Harmon and State Reps Miek Zaleski and Arthur Turner. Manar says “Without a fair tax, nearly 17,000 seniors would lose access to Meals on Wheels, 13,000 families will be kicked off Early Intervention, and 2,300 women would lose access to lifesaving breast cancer screenings. 

Manar said that despite Republican criticism of the fair tax proposal, GOP lawmakers have failed to put forth a plan of their own in the 36 days since the governor’s budget address.

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Central Illinois Lawmaker Calling For Tougher Penalties for Scott's Law Violators

A CENTRAL ILLINOIS LAWMAKER IS PUSHING FOR TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR SCOTT’S LAW VIOLATORS.

SPRINGFIELD REPRESENTATIVE TIM BUTLER SAYS ILLINOIS LAW NEEDS TO COME DOWN HARDER ON DRIVERS WHO DON’T MOVE OVER WHEN THEY SEE A VEHICLE ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD.

 

 

BUTLER HAS A BILL CREATING TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR VIOLATORS.

 

 

IN JUST THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF 2019…15 STATE POLICE TROOPERS HAVE BEEN STRUCK BY MOTORISTS IGNORING THE LAW. TWO DIED FROM THEIR INJURIES.

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Another Trooper Hit and Killed in Northern Illinois

When will the message get through to drivers that when you see flashing lights you have to move over and slow down? Thursday another State Trooper was hit and killed on the shoulder of a state highway. Just this week Illinois State Police Acting Director Brendan Kelly implored drivers to approach cautiously when seeing cars and emergency vehicles pulled to the shoulder. 

 

 

Thursday Trooper Brooke Jones-Story was killed as she inspected a commercial truck on Route 20 in northern Illinois after being struck by a passing semi. She is the second trooper killed in a roadway accident this year and it marks the 15th time that a trooper’s vehicle has been hit. 

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Warner Hospital Eyeing Technology Upgrades in 2019

The Warner Hospital and Health Services board approved the latest fiscal year budget for the city-owned facility but not without some advice heading to the future.

 

Earlier this week on Regional Radio News, we outlined the hospitals budget as it plans for the upcoming mandates surrounding minimum wage requirements in Illinois. CEO Paul Skowron says to become more efficient, the hospital has to get themselves up to speed surrounding 21st-century technology for themselves and the community.

 

 

According to Skowron, a recent study showed the increased mandates around technology have actually had the opposite desired effect on the healthcare industry, so people are still needed despite their efforts to eliminate the need for so much staffing.

 

 

On top of technology challenges and mandates from the state that will add $70,000 to the hospital's expenses this year, Skowron indicates the healthcare industry faces a shortage of doctors and nurses. 

 

We'll hear more from Skowron on the nursing shortage next week on Regional Radio News.

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County Readies for Inmates Returning to Jail

With inmates returning to the DeWitt County jail in the next week, the County continues to get its ducks in a row to make sure they are prepared.

 

The DeWitt County's Public Safety Committee recently approved an amendment to an existing contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare for Inmates Health Services. According to Sheriff Mike Walker, this company provides nursing services for the inmates. 

 

 

Sheriff Walker says there are minimum requirements for the doctors. He notes there are several mandates for inmates care.

 

 

The DeWitt County jail is set to house its inmates again starting the first of April. Because of past budget scares stemming from the uncertainty around the power plant, inmates were housed in Piatt County. 

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Peterson Insurance Makes Donation to Clinton Fire Department

The Pekin Insurance Agency in Clinton presented the Clinton Fire Department with a check for $2000 Thursday morning at the Clinton Fire Station.

 

Owner Jay Peterson says he learned of the department's efforts to raise money for their training facility and felt it would be a worthwhile cause to get behind. He adds the community is fortunate to have a quality and active department to serve them.

 

 

Scott Martin, President of the Pekin Insurance Agency applauds Peterson and his staff for getting involved. He says it is important for their agency to active and involved in the communities they serve.

 

 

Captain David Dallas says the fundraising efforts are going to their training facility on Cain Street. He says it's a work in progress right now but it is going to be a huge asset for the area.

 

 

Dallas says the facility is three shipping containers that will mimic a housing structure they'll be able to train on. 

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Kenney Fire Department Prepping for Good Friday Blood Drive

The Kenney Fire Department is preparing to embark on their 4th annual Good Friday blood drive on April 19th at the Kenney firehouse. Donors can schedule an appointment to come in and donate between noon and 6 pm on the day of the drive. Walk-in donors are always welcomed, but Kenney firefighter Troy Lashbrook says you're more likely to get in quickly if you set up a time.

 

 

Lashbrook says each year, the Red Cross sets a goal for how many donations they want out of the department's Good Friday blood drive, then the Kenney Fire Department sets their own goal, which is usually higher. The "double red" donation mentioned actually counts as two units donated, based on how the process separates the "fluids". Lashbrook explained how it works.

 

 

To schedule an appointment to donate at the Kenney Fire Department's Good Friday blood drive, you can easily register at redcrossblood.org. You can also set up a donation time by calling Troy Lashbrook at 563-321-0416 or Fritz Robinson at 217-620-5407.

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Salt Creek Patch Makers Guild Hosting Annual Quilt Show

The Salt Creek Patchmakers Guild is hosting their annual quilt show at the Little Galilee Christian Camp this weekend.

 

Cathy Merrick says their members take the opportunity to display some of their creations throughout the year and it's an opportunity for the public to learn more about quilt-making and even purchase supplies for their own project.

 

 

Linda Crum explains the show is an open house-like atmosphere. She believes the guild is a group of very nice quilters and encourages anyone interested in quilting to stop by and learn something new or stumble upon a treasure they may not have expected to find. 

 

 

Again the annual quilt show is this Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm each day at Little Galilee Christian Camp. Around 150 quilts are anticipated to be on display.

 

Lunch is served from 11 am to 2 pm for $7 and a dessert bar is available all day for $3.

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State Rep Wants Answers on Jussie Smollett Case

The furor over dropped charges for Jussie Smollett is reaching the State House. 

 

Republican Representative Allen Skillicorn says the decision by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office needs more review. He’s filled a Freedom of Information Act to see the emails connected to the case and the decision.

 

 

Another lawmaker wants to introduce a bill that would prohibit TV and movie producers from receiving the state’s film tax credit if they employ Smollett.

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Real ID Up and Running in Illinois

The Secretary of State is now taking applications for the Real ID card. It’s an enhanced form of a drivers license that addresses a coming federal requirement for air travel. 

 

By October 2020 you will need a “Real ID” card in order to board a domestic flight with a drivers license or to enter a federal building. Secretary of State Jesse White says you may not want to get a Real ID or ever need one but if you do SOS offices are now taking applications.

 

 

You will need to provide more documents in order to receive a Real ID, for the complete list head to the Secretary of State’s website. And the price to renew will remain the same as a regular drivers license - $30.

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Illinois Treasurer Promoting Ag Invest Program

The state’s Ag Invest program hits a little closer to home for Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs. He grew up on a farm in northeast Champaign County. 

 

 

More information on the program is available at “illinoistreasurer.gov.”

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Warner Hospital Health Services Highlights New Service at 2019 Chamber Business Expo

The atmosphere in the Clinton High School gym was as pleasant as the weather outside for the 2019 Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.

 

Executive Director Marian Brisard indicates the annual expo is an opportunity for the businesses and non-profits of the community to get in front of the community and for the community to provide input on what the community would like from them.

 

 

The Warner Hospital and Health Services were informing the community Wednesday they would begin offering cataracts surgery in Clinton. CEO Paul Skowron says the city-owned entity was using the expo to make the announcement.

 

 

At the end of the event, Brisard was happy with the number of people that came out for their annual event. 

 

 

We'll have more from WHOW/WEZC's live coverage from the annual event throughout the coming days and weeks ahead on Regional Radio News. 

 

 

 

 

 

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DeWitt County Public Defender To Switch Offices in County Building

The DeWitt County Building will be doing a little reshuffling to move the Public Defender to a more secure area.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker says there was an incident earlier this month that could have turned ugly, however, protocols in place prevented the situation from escalating. Because of that, the office is going to be moving to a better location within the facility.

 

 

According to Sheriff Walker, there is a micro-filming area that is going to where their mail machine is, and that micro-film area will become the Public Defender's office. The Sheriff says this will provide more security for the entire staff of the Public Defender's office.

 

 

The space the Public Defender will move to is a "waste of good office space right now" according to the Sheriff. He adds it will reduce the number of people that go to the back side of the County Building. 

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Warner Hospital Latest Budget Accounts for Minimum Wage Impacts

The latest budget for Warner Hospital and Health Services is accounting for the mandates the State of Illinois is handing down regarding minimum wages.

 

CEO Paul Skowron says the minimum wage is just one of the many challenges facing the Clinton-owned facility going forward. He says many hospitals are freezing wages and hiring, however, Warner Hospital is not doing these things.

 

 

According to Skowron, the hospital board is challenging him and his staff to start thinking about doing more with less and find ways to utilize the space they have to maximize revenues.

 

 

Bringing in more patients and keeping residents local for their healthcare is part of the capital projects coming to the hospital in the upcoming year. Skowron says this will help them expand revenues. 

 

 

Among other challenges facing the hospital in the budgeting process are the technology upgrades they need to meet the needs of the public in 21st-century healthcare and trying to find ways to attract nurses and doctors to the rural healthcare scene in 2019 and beyond. 

 

Skowron says the budget now moves on to the Clinton City Council for two weeks before an approval vote in April. 

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Clinton YMCA Taking New Approach With Yearly Fundraiser

A new year of fundraising is on the horizon for the Clinton YMCA and in 2019, they have their sites set on a new approach.

 

Executive Director Rennie Cluver indicates the Y is going to proceed with their traditional 'Strong Kids' campaign starting in April. He explains this is where they reach out to the community and ask for donations.

 

 

Instead of relying strictly on their staff and volunteers to call on community members to donate, Cluver indicates they are working to bring fundraising events for the community to participate in. He feels this would motivate more people to help their cause.

 

 

According to Cluver, the trends he was seeing from their donations year-to-year suggested it was time for something to change. 

 

 

The Strong Kids Campaign is almost the lifeblood of the Y. Cluver explains the campaign allows them to support their programs and provide scholarships to their members who need financial help.

 

 

Cluver indicates if you have been a donor in the past, you will likely soon be hearing from someone on this year's campaign. He hopes to have more details soon about the events they plan to hold. 

Get more information about the Clinton YMCA by visiting clintoncommymca.org, contact them at 217-935-8307 or stop in at 417 South Alexander Street in Clinton. 

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Senate GOP Seeks Constitutional Amendment Requiring Super-Majority for Tax or Fee Hikes

Illinois Senate Republicans are trying to make their voices heard when it comes to talk of new taxes and revenue streams for Illinois government. Hawthorn Woods Republican Dan McConchie discusses his proposal requiring taller hurdles before tax or fee hikes can take effect..... 

 

 

Senator McConchie talks about tax and fee hikes already being discussed...

 

 

If the legislation passes,McConchie hopes to see the Constitutional Amendment before voters next year. 

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BBB Talks Scams

Internet thieves are finding more imaginative and sophisticated ways to trick consumers into giving up banking and other personal information, using everything from fake airline reservation notices to phony FBI emails. 

 

The Better Business Bureau reminds that although the basic scams remain the same, the crooks keep adapting to new technology in hopes of keeping you off-guard.

 

Better Business Bureau investigator Don O'Brien says many of these scammers' sole aim is to gain access to your personal computer. 

 

 

He says if a thief gets into your computer, your personal information can be harvested for a variety of uses.Some will sell your information to list services, while others will simply empty your bank accounts and ruin your credit.

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Durbin Up In Arms Over Diverted Defense Spending

Senator Dick Durbin says President Trump's funding for a border wall will hurt military investment in Illinois. 

 

Durbin says three Illinois projects are on a Department of Defense list of $12.9 billion worth of military construction projects that could be sacrificed to pay for a border wall. Durbin believes one cut wouldn't play well in Peoria...

 

 

Another cut or delayed construction effort would be a planned $41 million communications facility expansion at Scott Air Force Base in the Metro-East. A $5 million automated record fire range for the Illinois Army National Guard in Marseilles could also be affected.

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DeWitt County Board Approves Marina Breakwater Repairs

The past winter has left the DeWitt County marina in need of repairs.

 

Terry Ferguson, DeWitt County Board member, indicates the harsh winter and recent high winds damaged the marina's breakwater. Ferguson explains the breakwater had been repaired in the past and the County had recently scheduled to install a new breakwater.

 

 

Ferguson says the County will replace the current breakwater with a new, more economical system. The County at their last meeting approved the expenditure to remove the current breakwater.

 

 

Ferguson estimates the removal of the current breakwater will be roughly around $5,000.

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Clinton Farm Family Named Farmer of the Year

Greg and Mariah Anderson of Triple M Farm: Mariah’s Mums & More near Clinton, Illinois have been named recipients of the 2019 Farmer of the Year Award by Illinois’ Routes to Farm farmer alliance. The Andersons’ commitment to producing Good Food earned them the honor, presented at Family Farmed‘s annual Good Food EXPO & Policy Conference at Chicago’s UIC Forum, March 22-23, 2019. The Andersons grow 15,000 fall mums and nine acres of fresh produce for both wholesale and direct to consumer markets. 

 

The Good Food EXPO is the Midwest's premier annual celebration of the fast-growing Good Food movement. It brings together regional and national leaders in local, sustainable food - from farmers to chefs, entrepreneurs to policymakers - to discuss the movement that's transforming the way we eat.

 

Applicants for the award are nominated by farmer-focused organizations, in four states, that make up the Routes to Farm alliance. These organizations help farmers serving the Chicago foodshed find resources and training to grow their businesses and in turn, growing our communities’ food. The Andersons were nominated by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance based in Springfield, Illinois and one of the 14 organizations that make up the Routes to Farm alliance.

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of DeWitt County Celebrating Successful Bowl For Kids Sake

A DeWitt County non-profit is celebrating the success of its biggest fundraiser of the year.

 

DeWitt County's Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl For Kid's Sake event brings community members and community groups together to celebrate their cause but also raise money for the local non-profit. BBBSs Heather Peavler says Bowl For Kid's Sake is one of her favorite events of the year.

 

 

Peavler says they missed their goal for this year's event but they made more than last year and feels that's a win. Ann McDowell says the event raises money that stays in DeWitt County and goes towards their general goal of pairing young kids with adults to be mentors.

 

 

The organization also held events in Macon and McLean County. Next, the organization is gearing up for summer golf events in McLean and Champaign Counties. We'll have more on that later on Regional Radio News. 

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Congressman Davis Talks Rural Hospitals, Nursing Shortage

Rural hospitals and the federal government have to work together to keep them going.

 

That is the message from central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis who heard from Warner Hospital and Health Services CEO Paul Skowron recently in Washington, DC about the funding challenges that could ensue if the federal government makes cuts to Medicare. Davis indicates it is his goal to help keep that funding in place for central Illinois.

 

 

To that end, Davis says the two sides have to work together not only to fund them but to get more nurses and doctors into their facilities.

 

 

Davis says the nursing shortage is causing a lot of problems but he looks forward to working with healthcare providers to bring programs that give opportunities to nurses and doctors in rural areas. 

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State Police Continue To Remind Public To Move Over for Emergency Vehicles

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS BEEFING UP ENFORCEMENT OF “SCOTT’S LAW.” 

 

SCOTT’S LAW, ALSO KNOWN AS THE MOVE-OVER LAW, REQUIRES MOTORISTS TO CHANGE LANES IF POSSIBLE WHEN THEY SEE AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. STATE POLICE ACTING DIRECTOR BRENDAN KELLY IS ADDING TWO THOUSAND HOURS OF MANPOWER TO CATCH VIOLATORS.

 

 

14 TROOPERS HAVE BEEN HIT SO FAR THIS YEAR BY VIOLATORS AND ONE DIED FROM HIS INJURIES.

 

 

TROOPERS HAVE ALREADY WRITTEN NEARLY 500 TICKETS FOR IGNORING SCOTT’S LAW THIS YEAR.

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LIHEAP Program Still Offering Assistance for Struggling Households

IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING TO PAY HOME HEATING BILLS…THE STATE’S “LIHEAP” PROGRAM MAY BE ABLE TO HELP. 

 

THE LOW-INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, OR LIHEAP, PROVIDES QUALIFYING HOUSEHOLDS SOME RELIEF SAYS SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH.

 

 

THE EFFORT HELPS ELIGIBLE HOUSEHOLDS PAY THEIR HOME HEATING BILLS AND RECONNECT SERVICE IF NEEDS SAYS GOUGH.

 

 

TO FIND OUT IF YOUR ELIGIBLE AND FIND A LOCAL OFFICE TO APPLY…VISIT THE WEBSITE: LIHEAP ILLINOIS DOT COM OR CALL 1-877-411-WARM.

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Illinois Fire Institute Promoting Grain Bin Safety

The Illinois Fire Service Institute continues to promote grain bin safety. Ag Rescue Program Manager Dave Newcomb has a few reminders for farmers.

 

 

Last year there were three grain entrapments in Illinois with two resulting in fatal injuries. 

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Two Killed in Crash on Route 54 Monday Morning

Authorities say two people are dead after a crash on Route 54 early on Monday morning in DeWitt County.

 

The crash took place near Route 54 and Spirit Road around 1 am, claiming the lives of both drivers.

 

The crash is under investigation by the DeWitt County Coroner, DeWitt County Sheriff's Office and the Illinois State Police.

 

This story will be updated. 

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County Board Approves Solar Energy Ordinances

With a resolution on a wind farm in DeWitt County in sight, the DeWitt County Board approved an ordinance for solar energy in the county.

 

County Board member Terry Ferguson indicates this is something the RPC and ZBA have worked on for a year now and it was quite a process because of how complex solar energy can be.

 

 

Ferguson feels solar energy could be a source of renewable energy that continues to grow. He feels it is friendly to landowners and non-participating landowners.

 

 

The state has a lottery for who gets a solar garden, something the County has been approached with recently. With the ordinance being updated, a solar garden or commercial sized field could be built in DeWitt County. 

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Clinton High School Principal Talks Changes in School Testing This Year

The State of Illinois has again changed how schools are to test their students this year and the Principal of Clinton High School discusses what that looks like for his building this spring.

 

Jerry Wayne says in years past only juniors were tested but now the whole building is going to be tested.

 

 

According to Wayne, the building staff working through their plans for everyone to get their testing in. He indicates they are probably going to have to dedicate a whole day to testing and lose the teaching for that day.

 

 

Wayne indicates the PAARC testing was in place for one year, eliminated and only juniors took the SAT, and now the state has mandated testing back in place.

 

 

Wayne says he is very pleased with the plan they have in place to meet the needs of the students. He understands the frustration of testing from a teacher perspective, especially because a one time test can sometimes lack information to make valuable. 

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Vespasian Warner Public Library Hosting Spring Break Make & Takes This Week

Looking for something to do with the kids over spring break? Stop by the Vespasian Warner Public Library in the afternoons for a make and take craft.

 

Children's librarian Paula Lopatic indicates that Monday through Thursday, March 25-28, kindergarten through fifth graders are invited to make a drop-in craft anytime between 2-4pm. Lopatic says they are requesting parents to supervise their students for the crafts.

 

 

Lopatic indicates the other crafts include paper sculpting, interviews with parents or grandparents, and a crayon cup. The crayon cup activity will require a 15 minute cooling period before being taken home.

 

 

Again the make and take drop-in crafts are from 2-4pm Monday through Thursday. For more information contact the library at (217) 935-5174. Preregistration is not required.

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IDNR Says Leave the Wildlife Alone

WHEN IT COMES TO CUTE BABY DEER, BUNNIES AND BIRDS…THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SAYS IT’S BEST TO KEEP YOU HANDS OFF. 

SPRING IS A BUSY BREEDING SEASON FOR WILDLIFE, WHICH MEANS A LOT OF YOUNGINS RUNNING AROUND. D-N-R- SPOKESPERSON ED CROSS SAYS PEOPLE OFTEN PUT THE BABIES AT RISK…THINKING THEY HAVE BEEN ABANDONED.

 

 

CROSS SAYS IT MAY ALSO LOOK LIKE A BABY BIRD HAS FALLEN OUT OF THE NEST, BUT THE FLEDGLINGS LIVE ON THE GROUND FOR A FEW DAYS WHILE THEY GROW THEIR FLIGHT FEATHERS.

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Weldon Springs Foundation Sets Spring Meeting Date

The Weldon Springs Foundation will hold its spring meeting on Friday, April 5, 2019, in the parlor of the Clinton United Methodist church.  

 

The social will begin at 6:00 p.m. and the meeting will begin at 6:30.  Support the park by attending the meeting and become an active member. If you plan to attend, organizers ask you to bring a snack to share.

 

Additionally, the Foundation will have a booth at the Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo on March 27th at the Clinton High school.  

 

The IDNR is seeking seasonal summer help at Weldon Springs State Park. One position is Conservation Educational Representative.  Also, three workers for outdoor maintenance of the park.  Working: May 1 - Aug 31, age 18 and older.

 

For further information, visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources web site at illinois.dnr.gov.

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Piatt County Soil, Water Conservation District Sets July Date for Oil, Tire Recycling Event

The Piatt County Soil and Water Conservation District Foundation is excited to announce their Oil and Tire Recycling event will be held on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at the Piatt County FS located at 427 W. Marion St. in Monticello. 

 

Jonah Totten, Resource Conservationist for the Piatt County SWCD, says if you plan to recycle tires, you must be a Piatt County resident and must be prepared to show ID with address. Also, you must be able to unload your tires.

 

Tires must be off the rims or they will not be accepted and no more than 10 tires per person will be accepted. 

 

A donation of two-dollars per car tire is recommended and for larger tires, it's just based on size. 

If you have tires larger than car size tires you must call 217-762-2146 x 3 or 309-831-7558 on or before July 1 and have your tire dimensions ready. 

 

You can bring as much oil as you wish. 

 

Recycling and reusing used motor oil is the preferred disposal method and can provide great environmental benefits. Recycled used motor oil can be refined into new oil, processed into fuel oils and used as raw material.

 

Again, the recycling day will be on Wednesday, July 10 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Piatt County FS. If you have any questions or want more information, please contact the Piatt County SWCD office at 217-762-2146 x3.

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New Illinois Supreme Court Restricts Use of Restraints

The Illinois Supreme Court says defendants can’t be shackled in hearings on involuntary commitment into state care unless they’re proven to be a danger or at risk of fleeing. Rule 296 went into effect Thursday. LaSalle County State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly says the rule requires some extra legwork.

 

Donnelly says it’s about protecting people’s rights.

 

 

The rule says even in cases where a court deems that someone needs to be restrained, it should be done with the least restrictive restraints possible.

 

No one should be shackled to a wall, piece of furniture, or other person.

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Lawmakers Working on Bills to Promote Organ Donations

STATE LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING ON A COUPLE OF BILLS TO HELP INCREASE ORGAN DONATION IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THERE’S A REAL NEED FOR LIVE ORGAN DONORS TO PROVIDE KIDNEYS AND BONE MARROW TO THOSE WHO ARE SICK SAYS VILLA PARK REPRESENTATIVE DEB CONROY. HER BILL MAKES SURE DONORS AREN’T DISCRIMINATED AGAINST WHEN IT COMES TO LIFE INSURANCE PREMIUMS AND TAKING TIME OFF OF WORK. ADDITONALLY:

 

 

A SECOND BILL OFFERS A TAX CREDIT TO EMPLOYERS WHO GIVE WORKERS 30 DAYS PAID LEAVE FOR AN ORGAN DONATION SAYS MEGAN CRAIG WITH THE NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION OF ILLINOIS.

 

PEOPLE WANTING TO DONATE A KIDNEY OR BONE MARROW TO HELP SAVE A LIFE OFTEN RUN INTO ROADBLOCKS AT WORK.

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Monticello Schools Seeking To Power Middle School Through Solar Power

The Monticello School district is seeking power their middle school via renewable energy.

 

Superintendent of the Piatt County district, Dr. Vic Zimmerman says they are waiting to hear from the State of Illinois on renewable energy credits that would set up solar panels near the building.

 

 

According to Dr. Zimmerman, the school could be completely powered by the solar farm but if it could not be, they could supplement what they will need by going back out to the grid. He feels it is a worthwhile investment to lower costs.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman points out, this would be one of the more recent efforts to lower energy costs. In years past, Monticello has been among other schools to enter into agreements for fixed rates on energy at lower rates. He says the opportunity to create green energy in a space that doesn't have much use for the district would be a good look for the school and the community. 

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State Representative Reacts To Recent Bills from Illinois Democrats

Hypocritical is how a state lawmaker describes two pieces of legislation proposed by Illinois Democrats.

 

State Representative Dan Caulkins indicates he voted no on a recent proposal surrounding the age for purchasing tobacco in Illinois. The law bumps the age from 18 to 21 and he feels most teens are aware of the consequences of tobacco and have their minds made up by the time they turn 18.

 

 

According to Caulkins, a no-consent bill is coming that allows teens to get an abortion without having to get consent from a parent or guardian. Caulkins says this very hypocritical of the Democrats in Springfield.

 

 

Right now, there is a dynamic in Springfield where Democrats are getting everything they want with super-majorities in both the House and the Senate and an elected Democratic governor. Caulkins says the left in Springfield does not care about anyone else's opinions and is rushing everything through.

 

 

As for the abortion law, Caulkins says Democrats are ruling under the assumption that Roe vs Wade is going to be overturned at the United States Supreme Court level. He would like to wait and see and make sure that is what happens before pushing legislation through under the assumption it will be. 

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State Unemployed Rate Held Steady at 4.3% Last Month

THE ILLINOIS UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HELD STEADY AT FOUR POINT THREE PERCENT IN FEBRUARY.

 

THE JOBLESS RATE HAS BEEN THE SAME SINCE NOVEMBER SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH (goff).

 

 

GOUGH (goff) SAYS AFTER SOME BIG GAINS IN JANUARY… ILLINOIS WAS DOWN MORE THAN 12 HUNDRED JOBS IN FEBRUARY.

 

 

THAT NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CAME IN AT THREE POINT EIGHT PERCENT LAST MONTH.

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IHSA Considering Change in State Basketball Finals Format

The IHSA will make a final decision later this spring on changing the state basketball tournament format for both the boys and girls. 

 

Under consideration is a plan to have one state tourney weekend (Thursday through Saturday) for the girls and another weekend for the boys effective in 2021. The IHSA’s Kurt Gibson says new site contracts will also be under consideration for 2021.

 

 

The IHSA Board of Directors will make a final decision on the tournament format June 10.

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DeWitt County Board Discusses Date for Special Meeting For Special Use Permit

The DeWitt County Board Thursday night tossed around a number of dates and times to hold a special meeting for a decision on the special use permit for a wind farm in the northwest corner of DeWitt County.

 

Pictured right: Board discusses date and time for special meeting for special use permit for wind farm proposal. 

 

The Board tentatively set Tuesday, April 23 at 5 pm for the meeting date and time pending availability at Clinton High School. 

 

Board Chair David Newberg opened up the discussion with his intention to hear from both sides but reminding the board they can only consider testimony heard at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

 

 

As for the public comment portion of the meeting, Newberg sought input from the Board on how much time they wanted to allow for those to speak. While individuals are allowed five minutes before the board, Newberg was open to modifying that for this meeting and giving each side a limited amount of time to talk. 

 

 

Newberg ultimately decided to give how the meeting will work more thought because the public can contact the County Clerk and get on the agenda but if limitations were set for how long each side could speak, it could open up the possibility those on the agenda might not be able to speak.

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Clinton Schools To Bring STEM Curriculum to Junior High

Clinton Junior High School students will have the option of taking STEM classes next year.

 

Superintendent of Clinton Schools, Curt Nettles indicates they are working to bring science, technology, engineering and math classes, or STEM, to their junior high school students next year as those become increasingly popular across the state and the country. April 26 will be a STEM day in the school. 

 

 

Some districts are fully involved in STEM curriculums while others are increasing the offerings they have. Nettles says Clinton is not as far along as others, so this is one step in moving forward.

 

 

Because most children possess such a great deal of knowledge and know-how with technology in today's world, Nettles believes a lot of teachers are going to have to take on a role of facilitator rather than a teacher.

 

 

Right now, the curriculum is in the planning stages but Nettles indicates this will be a very hands-on course for students. 

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Decatur Area Arts Council Seeking Artists For Murals in Decatur

The Decatur Area Arts Council is calling on artists who would like to take on a mural in downtown Decatur.

 

Jerry E. Johnson, Executive Director of the DAAC, indicates they are seeking designs from area artists who might like to submit a design and then put up their work on a downtown Decatur building.

 

 

Johnson believes it is not as complicated or as hard as it may sound. He feels the hardest part is actually coming up with the design.

 

 

According to Johnson, the owner of the buildings to get some input and do have to give the thumbs up for the design, but the designer gets a lot of say in the mural. He feels it has been a great partnership with the downtown Decatur community. 

 

 

Visit decaturarts.org for more information or find the Decatur Area Arts Council on Facebook. You can also call 217-423-3189. 

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Right To Life Advocates Rally at State Capitol

RIGHT TO LIFE ADVOCATES ARE RALLYING AT THE STATE CAPITOL AGAINST ABORTION LEGISLATION.

 

A COUPLE OF BILLS ARE UNDER PROTEST…ONE REPEALS A LAW REQUIRING TEENS TO NOTIFY THEIR PARENT OR GUARDIAN BEFORE GETTING AN ABORTION. ANOTHER OVERHAULS STATE ABORTION LAWS AND LIFTS A BAN ON PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTIONS. REPRESENTATIVE AVERY BOURNE OF LITCHFIELD SAYS THESE CHANGES ARE EXTREME.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE TERRI BRYANT OF MOUNT VERNON SAYS THE LEGISLATION GOES TOO FAR.

 

 

SUPPORTERS OF THESE MEASURES SAY LAWS NEED TO BE UPDATED TO BETTER PROTECT A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOSE.

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New License Year Approaching for DNR

The new license year approaching for hunting and fishing in Illinois. 

 

 

IDNR’s Tim Schweizer says more information is available online at “dnr.illinois.gov.”

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Flooding Impacting Spring Planting Outlook

Flooding in the Corn Belt this spring could mean plenty of acres will not get planted. Consultant Bill Biedermann with AgMarket.Net is hearing that concern. 

 

 

Biedermann making his comments Wednesday morning on the RFD Radio Network.

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Bustos Says Trump Budget Bad For Illinois Farmers

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos expressing concern over President Trump’s budget proposal. She says local farmers would really be hurt under the plan. 

 

 

Bustos says despite a recent high profile appointment to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, she decided to remain as a member of the House Ag Committee with the intention of keeping a close eye on farm policy. 

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Bill Would Let Schools Teach Students About Hunting Safety

STUDENTS MAY LEARN ABOUT HUNTING SAFETY UNDER A BILL PENDING IN THE ILLINOIS HOUSE. 

 

THE LEGISLATION LETS SCHOOLS ADD HUNTING EDUCATION LESSONS TO CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION. IT’S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE MONICA BRISTOW OF ALTON.

 

 

BRISTOW STRESSES THIS IS NOT A REQUIREMENT, BUT CURRICULUM THAT SCHOOLS CAN ADD IF THEY WISH. REPRESENTATIVE CHARLES MEIER OF HIGHLAND SAYS THIS WILL BE GREAT, ESPECIALLY FOR DOWNTOWN SCHOOLS.

 

 

THE BILL PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AND NOW AWAITS A VOTE BEFORE THE FULL HOUSE.

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Ag Legislative Day in Springfield

TUESDAY WAS AGRICULTURE LEGISLATIVE DAY IN SPRINGFIELD. 

 

FARMERS, LAWMAKERS, F-F-A MEMBERS AND MORE DESCENDED ON THE CAPITOL TO DISCUSS SEVERAL ISSUES AFFECTING THE AG COMMUNITY. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE DIRECTOR JOHN SULLIVAN TOLD A CROWD THAT THE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO PROMOTE ITSELF BETTER. HE ALSO CALLED FOR MORE AG EDUCATION, INCLUDING ADDING MORE AG TEACHERS AND STUDENTS.

 

 

PRODUCERS ALSO TALKED ABOUT GROWING HEMP AND ARE ANXIOUSLY WAITING FOR RULES TO BE ADOPTED SO THEY CAN START PLANTING. GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER JOINED IN, SAYING HE WILL HEAVILY PROMOTE ILLINOIS’ AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY.

 

 

FARMERS ARE ALSO TALKING ABOUT GROWING INDUSTRIAL HEMP, EXPANDING AG EDUCATION IN ILLINOIS AND THE NEED FOR A CAPITAL BILL TO PAY FOR ROAD AND BRIDGE REPAIRS.

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Clinton City Administrator Talks Sales Tax Figures

The sales tax numbers were not encouraging in the latest report from Clinton Commissioner of Finance, Tom Edmunds but a city official says things are not as bad as they might seem.

 

City Administrator Tim Followell explains the sales tax figures, which came in almost $10,000 less than this time last year, were for the period that includes late-November to late-December.

 

 

At the March 4 City Council meeting, Edmunds put the Governor on blast for a proposal to cut funding to small communities. While the proposal isn't great, Followell says it's just a trend in Springfield to roll back the money that goes to each community.

 

 

According to  Followell, the city is doing well financially. He credits the stability financially to Edmunds and City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter. 

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Clinton American Legion Seeking Boys State Applicants

The Clinton American Legion is hoping to send interested juniors to Boys State this summer.

 

Josh Thielen, Clinton American Legion commander, indicates Boys State is a program for boys that have completed their junior year of high school. The program allows them to spend a week at Eastern Illinois University and learn how to run a government firsthand.

 

 

Thielen says the program is offered free to participants as each post covers the cost of tuition. The Clinton post has funds to cover two students but Thielen is hoping to send as many as interested.

 

 

The American Legion Illinois Premier Boys State will be held from June 8-14 at Eastern Illinois University. Thielen encourages those with just the slightest interest to contact the Clinton American Legion post at (217) 935-5183.

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University of Illinois Extension Wellness Educator Hosting Diabetes Classes in central Illinois

Whether you currently battle diabetes or it runs in your family and you want to know how to try to prevent it, you will want to be sure to check out a class coming to several communities at the end of the month and into April.

 

Caitlin Mellendorf, Nutrition and Wellness Educator at the University of Illinois Extension office is hosting a series of classes coming up later this month and into April. She indicates this is a program they experienced success with, in the past helping folks deal with and prevent diabetes.

 

 

According to Mellendorf, the American Diabetes Association indicates one in four adults has pre-diabetes. She says this has become a great awareness class for those that come out.

 

 

Mellendorf indicates their focus is on dieting and how meals can impact blood sugar. She explains they will focus on meal planning and also fitness. 

 

 

The classes are on Thursday, March 21 at the Warrensburg Library from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Then again on Monday, April 1 from 1 pm to 2 pm.

 

To get registered, you can contact the Barclay Library in Warrensburg at 217-672-3621 or the Maroa Library at 217-794-5111. 

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Two Illinois Cities, Counties Added to Lincoln Heritage Area

President Trump recently signed federal legislation that adds Livingston County and the cities of Freeport and Jonesboro to the roster of Illinois communities that can benefit from designated ties to Abraham Lincoln. The executive director of what's known as "Looking for Lincoln," Sarah Watson, describes what it means to those areas;

 

 

The "Looking for Lincoln" non-profit says the 42 counties already in the nationally-designated heritage area have benefited with a nearly $300-million dollar economic impact, more than 3-thousand jobs as a result and about $25-million dollars in tax revenue;

 

 

Livingston County has a courthouse where Lincoln practiced law. Freeport and Jonesboro hosted two of the famous debates between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas.

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Durbin Slams Pharmaceutical Companies

Senator Dick Durbin continues to mince no words in his critiques of some in the pharmaceutical industry. 

 

Durbin handed his “Pharma Fleece Awards” last week on the Senate Floor, as he slammed Takeda, Eisai, Merck, and Genentech, four pharmaceutical companies that sell cancer drugs in excessively large vials that contain dramatically more medicine than the average patient needs.....

 

 

Durbin says when it comes to doses of cancer medicine, size matters in a costly way....

 

 

Durbin says some big pharmaceutical companies offer smaller sizes in key markets like Europe. 

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Taylorville FFA Headed To Scotland

A team of FFA members and students from Taylorville recently won the National Western FFA Live Stock Judging Contest. The five students on the team now get to go to Scotland to compete in an international livestock judging contest. State Senator Andy Manar says their win shows the value of ag education – 

 

 

Now the student judging team needs to adapt to how livestock are judged across the pond. They will still evaluate beef cattle, sheep, swine and goats but the breeds will be new to them says Eric Schafer.

 

 

The students will spend about a week in Scotland, a week in Ireland and a few days in London. The contest starts on June 20th. 

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Clinton Y Executive Director Talks Minimum Wage Hike Impact

Clinton YMCA Executive Director Rennie Cluver knows the minimum wage increase may not have the most positive impact on the DeWitt County non-profit but at the same time, he's not taking an entirely negative view on the situation to his agency.

 

With 60-plus employees to pay at the Clinton Y, Cluver says they know the minimum wage hike will have an impact but it won't be positive. He says the hike comes on the heels of the Y deciding not to increase their membership rates.

 

 

For Cluver, his optimistic approach is a hope the minimum wage hike may benefit their members and decrease their dependency on scholarships and financial aid. He explains roughly 50-percent of their members receive some sort of financial aid currently.

 

 

Additionally, Cluver just completed a memorandum of understanding in Monticello to help bring a Y branch to the Piatt County community. That included financial information and Cluver says his projections were very conservative so the minimum wage increase may level out their projections.

 

 

In discussing the Monticello project, Cluver says right now his focus is to just begin getting the money raised they need to erect a building and continue to boost that excitement. He says they can worry about a $15 an hour salary later. 

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Push For Capital Bill Continues in Springfield But Funding Is Big Question

Democrats and Republicans appear to be in agreement on the need for a capital bill in Springfield, but how to fund the plan remains uncertain. 

 

That assessment comes from Jak Tichenor, host of Illinois Public Media’s Illinois Lawmakers series. 

 

 

Tichenor says Illinois hasn’t had a capital bill since 2009 and a portion of the outlay was funded through video gambling revenue.

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Treasurer Wants Changes To Banking Rules for Pot Businesses

Banking in the cannabis industry is a challenge and the state Treasurer is trying to modernize the rules. 

 

Right now cash that comes in from legal marijuana companies has a hard time finding a bank or credit union to take it. The laws are there to prevent drug money from illegal businesses being put into the mainstream economy. Mike Frerichs says that’s outdated with legal marijuana businesses.

 

 

Frerichs would like to see a law that would prohibit state regulations from impacting banks who work with legal marijuana companies. 

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Contract To Be Considered Between Second Chance for Pets, DeWitt County For Access to Animal Control Facility

The DeWitt County Board's Public Safety Committee will consider a contract with DeWitt County's Second Chance for Pets pet adoption group, but not before the two sides hashed out their differences in a Thursday morning meeting. 

 

The two sides discussed funding, centered around $53-hundred they differ on who's it is, along with access to the animal control facility on Clinton's east side, and what DeWitt County is getting out of the agreement.

 

Second Chance's Heather Wantland explained the benefit of having access to the facility for their organization. 

 

 

The debate turned somewhat contentious when discussing anyone but County personnel having access to a county building. Committee Chair Lance Reece along with County Administrator Dee Dee Rentmeister and committee member Nate Ennis differed on the situation.

 

 

When questioned what the benefit of Second Chance was to DeWitt County, a fired up Ennis proceeded to inform the Board of all the things the organization does at no cost to the taxpayers.

 

 

Nearly three years ago when the shelter's facility was ready to move into, former county board member Cris Rogers called the help of Second Chance to furnish the facility quote-"gratifying" and indicated there were a lot of things the organization did that helped keep the cost minimal to taxpayers. 

 

The committee ultimately decided they would review the contract and move forward at a later date. Reece was not certain of a timetable to ratify the contract. He also expressed his appreciation to the organization for everything they do. 

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Clinton Power Station Participating in Bi-Annual Nuclear Drill

The bi-annual nuclear drill at the Exelon Clinton Power Station takes place today in DeWitt County. 

 

Illinois Emergency Management Agency's Bill Conway explains there are numerous agencies involved in this drill that takes place every two years. He says there are well over 200 people involved in this drill. 

 

 

According to Conway, Illinois is home to several innovative programs involving nuclear safety. The Radiological Emergency Assessment Center where they have real-time monitoring capabilities at each of the six nuclear plants in Illinois. 

 

 

Anticipate seeing an influx of law enforcement activity throughout the day and in the days ahead, the various groups involved will gather to discuss the exercise and evaluate their plans in place. Conway says these exercises are about making sure the plans in place are the best they can be. 

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Sales Tax Falling Behind

After a string of positive tax reports following the 2018 closure of Clinton Walmart, things are starting to turn.

 

Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting, Commissioner of Finance, Tom Edmunds indicated the sales tax figures are a total of $10,000 behind this time last year.

 

 

City officials are looking forward to the arrival of Tractor Supply Company in the former Walmart location. Tomorrow (Tuesday) on Regional Radio News, hear from Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell on the latest as the retailer continues to prepare the retail space. 

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Normal's Children's Discovery Museum Offering Spring Break Camps

If you're trying to find something to do with your kids during spring break, a Normal entity might just have you covered.

 

The Normal Children's Discovery Museum is offering spring break camps next week at their location in Uptown Normal and Museum Education Coordinator, Rachel Carpenter says there's plenty of good learning opportunities.

 

 

With agriculture and wind energy playing a big part in the local economy across central Illinois, Carpenter says they wanted to educate children on the conversion process and how certain aspects in agriculture work.

 

 

Registrations close a week before each session, so registration opportunities are starting to close out. Each session is $45 for non-members and $40 for members. Carpenter encourages a visit to their website at childrensdiscoverymuseum.net or contact her at 309-443-3449.  

 

The Children's Discovery Museum is located at 101 East Beaufort Street in Normal. 

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Animal Control Building Access, County Funds Among Topics Examed In Contract Between DeWitt County and Second Chance for Pets

Is $53-hundred dollars in possession of Second Chance for Pets of DeWitt County actually county money? Should Second Chance for Pets have access to the animal control facility? What is DeWitt County getting from Second Chance for Pets? Those were the points of contention during a debate over a contract between the two entities at the DeWitt County Board's Public Safety Committee meeting last Thursday morning.

 

Committee Chair Lance Reece explains this agreement has been in the works for a couple of years and they just received their contract from Second Chance. 

 

 

Committee member Nate Ennis questioned the organization's access to funds that could potentially be earmarked for the County. Treasurer of Second Chance, Glenna Rogers, indicates the organization stopped accepting donations that were designated for the animal shelter and instead accepted donations only for Second Chance for Pets.

 

 

When donations go to Second Chance of Pets and donors earmark them for the animal shelter, Ennis questions why the County would have any say in where the funds go. Administrator Dee Dee Rentmeister explains the situation is tricky because donors tend to donate to Second Chance for Pets because of the 501-C3 write off benefits but contends it should be the county's money because the shelter is county property. 

 

 

Additionally, there was contention over approximately $53-hundred dollars in the coughers of Second Chance for Pets. According to Rentmeister, that money was requested by the County about a year ago but Second Chance representatives say that money is theirs. Rentmeister also points out the County has a separate fund for the animal shelter. 

 

 

The appropriation of the $53-hundred dollars was only a portion of the discussion over the contract. The two sides addressed access to the DeWitt County Animal Control facility and even the benefits of Second Chance for Pets to DeWitt County. We'll have more on that discussion tomorrow on Regional Radio News. 

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Sheriff Walker Looking To Bolster TRIAD Program

The DeWitt County TRIAD program is a focal point for DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker.

 

The Sheriff says TRIAD has a number of purposes but it's a common theme is the protection of local seniors. From providing the latest information on scams to providing seniors with daily wellness calls, Sheriff Walker wants to continue the efforts started by the administration before him.

 

 

Sheriff Walker indicates his staff will be at the upcoming Chamber of Commerce business expo and encourages seniors to stop by and learn about their 'File of Life' program and get more information about TRIAD.

 

 

TRIAD also seeks to make seniors aware of the opportunities in the community to keep them active. Sheriff Walker says there's a lot of things the community has to offer seniors to keep them engaged and active.

 

 

Sheriff Walker touts the County's RU OK system which is a daily phone call to seniors. He reminds seniors to stop and see the Sheriff's Department at the business expo March 27 at Clinton High School from 4 pm to 7 pm or contact them at 217-935-9507 with any questions. 

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2019 Flooding Similar to 1965

The 2019 flooding worries along the Mississippi River are similar to 1965. That year snow melt was up north was a big issue. It's the same story this year says Brian Pierce with the National Weather Service. 

 

 

Pierce has been with the National Weather Service Quad Cities office for over 20 years. Prior to that, he worked in the Madison, Wisconsin station.

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DeWitt County Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship Recipients Named

The DeWitt County Farm Bureau recently named the winners of the 2019 Foundation scholarships.

 

Janell Baum Thomas, with the DeWitt County Farm Bureau, indicated that the application deadline was March 1 and the Foundation was able to award $4,000 in scholarships this year.

 

 

Thomas says the Foundation has awarded 60 scholarships since it fruition and supports other agriculture education programs.

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Legislation Addresses Rising Pregnancy Related Deaths in Illinois

NEW LEGISLATION ADDRESSES THE RISING NUMBER OF PREGNANCY-RELATED DEATHS IN ILLINOIS. 

 

A STATE PUBLIC HEALTH REPORT FOUND THAT 73 WOMEN DIE ANNUALLY WITHIN ONE YEAR OF PREGNANCY…AND THAT 72 PERCENT OF THOSE DEATHS WERE PREVENTABLE.

 

SENATOR CRISTINA CASTRO OF ELGIN IS PUSHING FOR MANDATED INSURANCE COVERAGE OF POST-PARTUM COMPLICATIONS AND NURSE IN-HOME VISITS TO LOW INCOME AND FIRST-TIME MOMS.

 

ANOTHER BILL REQUIRES CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR DOCTORS AND NURSES ABOUT THE IMPLICIT BIAS THAT MAY AFFECT TREATMENT OF POOR AND MINORITY WOMEN.

 

 

 

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Rep. Davis on Rural Hospital Funding

An Illinois Congressman says the federal government needs to continue to provide funding for rural hospitals.

Representative Rodney Davis indicates there is a need at the federal level to insure rural hospitals receive funding like those in more urban areas. Davis says the issue goes beyond healthcare.

Davis says staffing shortages cannot be solved by government alone. He feels local facilities will need to partner with the government to ensure they have the staff they need.

Davis said he was disappointed in how the Veterans Choice program was implemented and hopes it will improve.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a wet week in Illinois and State Climatologist Office Spokesperson Brian Kerschner talks about what is in store for next week.

 

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Wind Speeds 50-Plus Mile Per Hour Thursday Afternoon

The National Weather Service says wind speeds in central Illinois ranged between 50 and 60 miles per hour during a gusty Thursday afternoon that helped produce some scattered storms.

 

James Auten with the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates central Illinois wind speeds were highest in Springfield at 61 mph and the highest wind gusts were recorded in southeast Illinois in Lawrenceville with a 67 mile per hour wind speed.

 

 

Auten says rain and snow will move off and could see some spots of sun in the afternoon Friday before starting a sunny but cool weekend.

 

 

DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency did not have any reports of significant wind damage as most of DeWitt County experienced fallen tree limbs along with minor structural damage to rooftops.

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Clinton Chamber of Commerce, DeWitt County Farm Bureau, DCDC Introducing Tour of Local Ag Businesses

Showcasing the local ag economy is the goal of a pilot program hosted by the Clinton Chamber of Commerce.

 

Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Marian Brisard says it is a promotion of DeWitt County and its strong ag connection to the state and the world.

 

 

No date has been set yet but Brisard is targeting a tour date of early May starting at Toohill Seed and Beef.

 

 

Director of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau, Janel Baum Thomas says the three entities of the Farm Bureau, the DeWitt County Development Council and the Chamber are piloting this program and it is a highlight of the agribusiness community in DeWitt County.

 

 

Baum Thomas hopes this program is a hit to offer more tours to their members or associate members for the community. She believes there is an interest for those locally that did not grow up on a farm. 

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Decatur Area Arts Council Announces 2019 Annual Membership/Fund Drive

The Decatur Area Arts Council has launched their annual March Membership/Fund Drive.

 

Jerry Johnson, DAAC executive director, indicates the theme of this year's drive is "Decatur Arts Color our Community" and they have set a fundraising goal of $35,000.

 

 

Johnson says the DAAC relies on the financial support of the community along with state level grants. He also notes that there are different giving options that each come with their own perks.

 

 

For more information on the Decatur Area Arts Council visit www.decaturarts.org.

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Tobacco 21 Legislation Passes Senate

The Illinois Senate has voted to move the tobacco purchasing age to the same standard as alcohol purchases. A bill raising the minimum age to 21 passed in the Senate 39-16, two days after the House overwhelmingly passed the legislation. Some dissenters in the Senate took issue with the legislation's elimination of penalties for underage possession. 

 

Olympia Fields based Democratic Senator Toi Hutchinson defended the rationale.....

 

 

Retailers still would be fined for selling restricted products to underage customers. The bill is headed for Governor J.B. Pritzker's desk.

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Rep. Davis Looking to Modernize Congress

Representative Rodney Davis has been named to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

 

Rep. Davis indicates that the Select Committee will analyze and seek to reform House operations. The last time a committee was formed was 1995 and implemented the ways the current House operates.

 

 

Rep. Davis says the Select Committee is long overdue. He says there is a disconnect between current communication policies and the available technology for lawmakers and their constituents.

 

 

Davis is hopeful the Select Committee will be able to update the policies as the 1995 committee did.

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Reba McEntire Added To State Fair Lineup

The lights may be going out in Georgia, but they will shine brightly for country music star Reba McEntire as she has been announced as the final grandstand act of the 2019 Illinois State Fair. 

 

Her August 18th grandstand show will be her first appearance in 20 years at the late summer classic. 

 

McEntire has racked up five decades of hits and landed in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Her trophy case is a constant expansion project. 

 

She has racked up 16 ACM Awards, six CMA Awards and three GRAMMYs among others. 

 

Tickets will range between 35 and 65 dollars. Grandstand tickets go on sale online through ticketmaster on April 20th and will be available at the Emerson Building box office on the fairgrounds April 22nd.

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IHSA Scholastic Bowl Championships This Weekend

Not only will the IHSA crown a couple of state basketball champions this weekend in Peoria, but state titles will also be decided in scholastic bowl. It’s ‘America’s Original March Madness” for that activity too says the IHSA’s Kraig Garber.

 

 

The IHSA has held a state tournament in scholastic bowl since 1987. 

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IDOT, ISP announce increased enforcement for St. Patrick's Day weekend

STATE AND LOCAL POLICE ARE BOOSTING PATROLS FOR THE ST. PATRICK’S DAY WEEKEND.

 

THE INCREASED ENFORCEMENT IS ALREADY UNDER WAY SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SPOKESPERSON JESSIE DECKER.

 

 

DECKER SAYS IT’S UP TO YOU TO CELEBRATE RESPONSIBLY.

 

 

DECKER REMINDS IF YOU’RE HOSTING A PARTY THAT YOU CAN BE HELD LIABLE IF SOMEONE YOU SERVED IS INVOLVED IN A D-U-I- RELATED CRASH.

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Illinois House Passes Bill Requiring Students Be Taught About LGBTQ Historical Contributions

A BILL REQUIRING SCHOOLS TO TEACH KIDS ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF LESBIAN, GAY AND TRANSGENDER PEOPLE THROUGHOUT HISTORY PASSED THE HOUSE WEDNESDAY.

 

THE LEGISLATION APPLIES TO GRADES KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 12TH GRADE…AND IS MEANT TO DISPEL NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES AND CREATE A MORE TOLERANT LEARNING ENVIRONMENT SAYS REPRESENTATIVE ANNA MOELLER OF ELGIN.

 

 

SUPPORTERS SAYS HISTORY CURRICULUM SHOULDN’T BE DISCRIMINATIVE AND LEAVE OUT CERTAIN GROUPS OF PEOPLE. BUT OPPONENTS, LIKE REPRESENTATIVE TOM MORRISON OF PALATINE HAVE CONCERNS.

 

 

THE L-G-B-T-Q HISTORY REQUIREMENT APPLIES TO STUDENTS IN KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 12TH GRADE. THE SENATE WILL CONSIDER THE LEGISLATION NEXT.

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E-Learning Could Help Teacher Shortage, But Rural Broadband Must Improve

A survey shows Illinois' teacher shortage continues to grow and downstate areas are impacted most.

 

The information is from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools. It shows 85-percent of districts statewide having a problem with teacher shortages, up 78-percent in 2018. 

 

The group's president--Mark Jontry, says one thing that could help is program sharing through "e-learning"--involving multiple school districts and even community colleges, but rural broadband must get better.


 

 

More than 500 districts participated in the survey. 

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New Illinois ag director plans to create strong working relationship with IDNR

Acting Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan aims to build a strong working relationship with incoming Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan.

 

 

Sullivan is a former State Senator from west-central Illinois and Callahan formerly worked for USDA. 

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Davis Participates in Infrastructure Talk

Central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis participated in an infrastructure panel this week, hosted by Politico and the National League of Cities. The discussion focused on what it will take to get an infrastructure bill through Congress this year. Davis says the president wants to invest a trillion dollars in infrastructure. 

 

 

This panel came ahead of Davis’ first hearing as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, which will focus on 21st-century transportation needs.

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Blue Ridge Schools Continue Investment In Technology By Exploring E-Learning Days

The Blue Ridge School district has embraced the use of technology in the classroom and now they are turning their attention to the possibility of what is becoming called e-learning days.

 

The harsh central Illinois winters, evidenced by this winter especially, can cause districts to call off school and lose momentum in classroom instruction but Susan Wilson, Superintendent of Blue Ridge Schools, says the trending possibility of e-learning days during these school cancellations is something their technology committee is looking into.

 

 

According to Wilson, the legislation's five-hour parameter is going to be a challenge. She says it could problematic for families who potentially cannot monitor their kids for that time to make sure they are taking on the homework.

 

 

Wilson notes the technology programming is becoming more streamlined so everyone is using the same program. She indicates right now they have a couple different platforms and programs at different levels to make it easier on their families. 

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Social Security May Have Greater Impact on Women

March is Women's History Month across the nation, and one thing that isn't really thought about during the month is how Social Security impacts them.  

 

Jack Myers with Social Security says the social security program doesn't vary whether you are a man or a woman.  He notes the importance of social security for women comes with their greater life expectancy. 

 

Social Security offers a section on their website filled with tools to assist women with managing their retirement.  While the information isn't specifically for women, Myers says it gathers all the materials they believe would most interest them.

 

 

Myers suggests everyone go to socialsecutiy.gov/myaccount to see what money is going into your account and manage your future pay-outs.

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Breeding Season at Miller Park Zoo

Visitors to Miller Park Zoo over the summer and fall may see some baby animals.

Jay Tetzloff, superintendent of Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington/Normal, indicates many of the species are currently in breeding programs which includes their snow leopards, red pandas, and palace cats.

 

 

Tetzloff hopes that by May, June, and July, the zoo will be busy conducting baby checks. He says this is the season those animals begin their behavior changes. 

 

 

In addition to baby animals, future visitors will also see a concession stand and an expanded parking lot.

 

For more information visit millerparkzoo.org or check out their social media profiles.

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Lawmaker Wants to Make Illinois One Plate State

A state representative continues to press the case for making Illinois a one plate state for cars. 

East Dundee Republican Allen Skillicorn has proposed legislation to require only rear plates. He says the front plate is a bad fit for today's vehicles...

 

 

Skillicorn estimates switching to one plate would save the state 800-thousand dollars a year...

 

 

Many police agencies oppose the switch. 19 states require only one plate.

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The Vault Excited About Interactions With Community's Youth So Far

The Vault in Clinton is already making an impact on the community's youth and their leadership could not be more excited about the response.

 

Michelle Witzke, founder of the teen center in downtown Clinton, says they are seeing a wide variety of students that are coming out. She explains they have had great interactions and learning experiences with the youth.

 

 

Witzke says they are bringing in students they wanted to reach as they thought about the purpose of The Vault. For now, The Vault is a place to hang out but Witzke hopes to bring in more programming for them.

 

 

According to Program Director at The Vault, Kim Toohill, they have days of the week that are their junior high days and their high school days. She says the response has been greater from the junior high school students.

 

 

The Vault is opened up on Friday nights for high school students and once a month for junior high school students. Toohill attributes the junior high numbers being greater than the high school numbers because of the high school extracurricular activities. 

 

 

There's a lot on the horizon at The Vault. Toohill continues to work to bring additional programming for the students and Witzke indicates they continue to work with Big Brothers Big Sisters to offer a program to the youth. 

 

For more information on The Vault, call 309-212-7332 or 217-934-4003. You can also reach Toohill at 217-369-7826. 

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House Approves Tobacco 21 Legislation

HOUSE LAWMAKERS ARE VOTING TO RAISE THE AGE TO BUY CIGARETTES IN ILLINOIS.

 

UNDER THE LEGISLATION, YOU’LL HAVE TO BE 21, INSTEAD OF 18 TO PURCHASE TOBACCO PRODUCTS IN ILLINOIS. SUPPORTERS SAYS THIS WILL HELP REDUCE THE NUMBER OF TEENS WHO PICK UP THE HABIT EARLY ON. HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JIM DURKIN PREVIOUSLY OPPOSED THE BILL BUT SAYS AFTER MORE RESEARCH AND HEARING HOW PREVALENT SMOKING IS IN HIGH SCHOOL, CHANGED HIS MIND.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE MONICA BRISTOW OF ALTON IS A FORMER SMOKER AND SUPPORTS THE MEASURE.

 

 

MORE THAN 30 COMMUNITIES INCLUDING THE CITY OF CHICAGO ALREADY HAVE A “TOBACCO 21” LAW ON THE BOOKS. THE BILL NOW HEADS TO A SENATE FOR A VOTE.

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Almost Half of Illinois High School Grads Choose Out of State Colleges

A NEW REPORT FROM THE ILLINOIS BOARD OF HIGHER EDUCATION SHOWS THAT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES ARE CONTINUING TO FLOCK TO OUT OF STATE COLLEGES. 

 

IN 2017, NEARLY HALF OF COLLEGE-BOUND GRADS HEADED TO FOUR-YEAR SCHOOLS IN STATES LIKE IOWA, INDIANA AND WISCONSIN. THE BOARD’S DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION AND RESEARCH ERIC LICHTENBERGER SAYS THIS HAS BEEN AN ONGOING TREND THAT’S INCREASED IN RECENT YEARS.

 

 

LICHTENBERGER SAYS THE NUMBERS DEFINITELY INCREASED DURING THE BUDGET IMPASSE A FEW YEARS AGO, WHEN FUNDING WAS IN QUESTION.

 

 

OVERALL…ONE OUT OF FIVE HIGH SCHOOL GRADS SEEKS HIGHER EDUCATION OUT OF STATE. LICHTENBERGER SAYS THIS IS CONCERNING SINCE STUDENTS OFTEN STAY IN THE STATE WHERE THEY GO TO SCHOOL.

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DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals Recommends Rejecting Tradewind Alta Farms II Wind Project Application

The DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals voted to recommend the DeWitt County Board reject the proposal of Tradewind Energy's Alta Farms II Wind Project in the northwest corner of DeWitt County at a special meeting of the ZBA at Clinton High School Tuesday night.

 

John Griffin started the meeting by motioning to recommend the project. He says the overarching theme from those in opposition was 'do the project somewhere else'.

 

 

In going through six considerations, the ZBA discussed back and forth many concerns. They went back and forth on the turbines impact to the radar when storms roll. Mark Sterr is convinced there is a concern to public safety and David Waters also discussed his concerns.

 

 

Waters additionally addressed the flicker effect for non-participating landowners. He recommends having non-participating landowners having zero impact from flicker effect, as opposed to the roughly ten hours per year they could be impacted.

 

 

After every consideration had been discussed, Griffin pointed to the pipeline project and the Highline project that is in the construction phase now that runs through central Illinois and DeWitt County. He explains no issues have arisen from that and there were no issues with things like tiling and drainage. Waters points out he sees the impacts of the Highline project almost daily, especially when trucks are taking equipment to and from their sites. Chair of the ZBA, Andy Hendricks says there was a difference between that project and the proposal of the wind farm.

 

 

The Board voted 5-1 to recommend the DeWitt County Board reject the proposal by Tradewind Energy.

 

After the meeting, Andrea Rhoades says Residents Against Wind Turbines in DeWitt County were pleased with the ruling and feel this should be an easy decision for the County Board following the ZBA and Regional Planning Commission's recommendations.

 

 

Tom Swierczewski with Tradewind Energy thanked the ZBA for their many hours of work but was ultimately disappointed with the recommendation.

 

 

Swierczewski had hoped they could have provided input when it came to some of the concerns that were addressed but did call some of them valid concerns.

 

DeWitt County Zoning Administrator Angie Sarver says to anticipate the DeWitt County Board to take up the issue in April after they get a chance to review all the testimony. Board Chair David Newberg has indicated to Regional Radio News the Board will likely set a special meeting date for the vote on the application. 

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Warner Library Hosting Self-Defense, Awareness Program With Clinton Police Department

Put March 23 on your calendar for a great morning of information from the Clinton Police Department on self-awareness.

 

Warner Library Librarian, Sam Rusk, says the program welcomes Clinton Police Officer Mike Bennett who will be talking with adults about being more aware of your surroundings and being cognizant of ways to protect yourself.

 

 

Officer Bennett has had this program in the Clinton School District for several years now and indicates it is a program that can be tailored to the audience's demographic along with its time allotted.

 

 

Again the event is Saturday, March 23 from 10 am to noon at the Warner Library at 310 South Quincy Street. Registration is not required but Rusk asks for RSVPs to make sure they have enough space for everyone. You can contact the Library by calling 217-935-5174.

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IL NRCS Chief: Farm Bill Implementation Progressing

The 2018 Farm Bill is on the books, and the bi-partisan effort is now in the implementation stage.  However, a federal government shutdown of record proportions has delayed progress.  That leaves agencies like the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, having to try to answer questions from producers about programs and potential funding opportunities.  Illinois State Conservationist with NRCS, Ivan Dozier, believes those answers are coming soon.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster, Jared White, has more....

 

 

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HR1 Drawing Criticism From Congressman Davis

"The craziest thing I've ever seen in Washington" is how Congressman Rodney Davis describes a piece of legislation that among other things, wants to funnel taxpayer dollars into political campaigns.

 

The Republican from Taylorville says HR1, or For the People Act of 2019, would take taxpayer dollars and put them into political funds. The bill also discusses topics like voter access, election security, and integrity and establishes an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission.

 

 

The aspects of voter access, election security and redistricting are parts of the bill Congressman Davis likes but there are too many questions surrounding the aspect of campaign spending from taxpayer dollars.

 

 

Davis indicates the proposal has a formula based on donations of $200 or less and matches that by six times. He calls the proposal terrible.

 

 

Every Democrat in the House sponsored the legislation and Davis anticipates the Bill getting through the House but hopes Senate President Mitch McConnell will squash the bill upon it's arrival to his Chamber. 

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State Police Looking For New Troopers

The Illinois State Police seeking applications for new troopers. Hector Allejandre is a recruiter for the agency.

 

 

To apply to become an Illinois State Trooper go to IllinoisTrooper.com. 

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Veterans Preference Legislation Filed in Springfield

Quad City area State Senator Neil Anderson sponsoring legislation allowing veterans to receive veteran’s preference for a promotion an unlimited amount of times. Currently, for fire departments, municipalities, and Cook County, a veteran can only use veteran’s preference once. 

 

 

Senate Bill 40 passed out of committee last week and is on to the full Senate for a vote.

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Illinois Unemployment Rates Hold Steady, Big Job Gains

ILLINOIS ENJOYED SOME NICE JOB GAINS IN JANUARY. 

 

THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HELD STEADY IN JANUARY AT FOUR POINT THREE PERCENT…BUT ILLINOIS PAYROLLS HIT A RECORD HIGH. DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH (goff) SAYS MORE THAN 24 THOUSAND JOBS WERE ADDED.

 

 

GAINS WERE ALSO SEEN IN THE EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH SERVICES AND LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY SECTORS.

 

 

THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR JANUARY CAME IN AT FOUR PERCENT.

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Illinois' Record Low Temp Set in 2019

Illinois’ record low temperature recorded in Illinois this winter. The mark is -38-degrees, hit on January 31st in the northwest Illinois town of Mount Carroll, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Ray Wolf.

 

 

The previous record low temp in Illinois was -36-degrees, recorded on January 5, 1999 in Congerville. 

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Central Illinois CEO Program Now Accepting Student Applications

The Central Illinois CEO program is now accepting student applications.

 

Up to 20 students will be a part of this program that includes Blue Ridge, Clinton, Maroa-Forsyth, and Warrensburg-Latham districts. CEO Board President, Justin Fentress says juniors this year are encouraged to apply if they are interested in owning their own business in the future.

 

 

According to Fentress, if they need to, they plan to accept incoming juniors. The students meet at different locations and there will be mentors from businesses in the area.

 

 

Anyone is welcome to apply and Fentress explains the application is a short questionnaire with a brief interview process and they also ask for references.

 

 

Fentress thanks the community for their support. He says without business leaders stepping up, this would not have been possible for the area's youth to participate in.

 

 

Students interested in applying for the program can find more information at https://www.centralillinoisceo.com/. Applications are available now and can be found at https://www.centralillinoisceo.com/applynow/application; completed applications must be submitted by April 1, 2019.

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Monticello Superintendent Talks Minimum Wage Hike, Teacher Salaries

Monticello Schools may not be impacted very much by the upcoming minimum wage hike and the likely passage of the minimum teacher salary legislation in Illinois. 

 

Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman says they are competitive in their starting pay for a lot of positions but will have to make adjustments. He is worried that perhaps raising the minimum wage could create fewer employment opportunities in the future.

 

 

The minimum teacher salary is not going to impact Monticello Schools and Dr. Zimmerman says they are very competitive for the area in terms of teacher salaries. He explains while they want to be able to pay teachers and staff as much as they can but those funds have to come from taxpayers and they have a limited amount of funds.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman indicates districts are finding themselves with more students with special needs and high needs and that requires more staff, which means more costs. 

 

As for Monticello, Dr. Zimmerman anticipates the legislation not having a big impact on their budget as long as their revenues stay consistent. 

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Engineering Group Offering Scholarship For Students in Macon, Logan and DeWitt Counties

If you are planning to get a degree in engineering, a local group of engineers is offering a scholarship this spring.

 

The Central Illinois Chapter of the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers is sponsoring a $1500 scholarship to a qualified central Illinois high school senior. Candidate must reside within the Counties of Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Shelby, and the southern parts of DeWitt and Logan. The southern parts of DeWitt and Logan Counties are defined as including the cities of Clinton and Lincoln and those parts south of Route 10 east of I-55 and south of 1550th Street west of I-55. Willard Sudduth (suh-death) says while the candidate should be accepted into an engineering college or a junior college with an equivalent engineering academic schedule and are encouraged to have a minimum ACT score of 28 or SAT equivalent, they are looking for well-rounded individuals.

 

 

With the explosion of the STEM and STEAM initiatives across the country, Sudduth says the variety of opportunities in engineering are expanding and growing.

 

 

There is no formal application form. Interested high school seniors should submit a brief resume including interests, organized activities, officer positions, and awards; their school transcript with national testing results; college acceptance notification; a one-page composition describing their interest in engineering; and telephone and email contact information. 

 

The Scholarship Committee will determine which applicants will be selected to be interviewed for the scholarship. Arrangements will be made for a personal interview with each qualified applicant during the early part of April.

 

Interested students should submit his/her application to Sudduth by mailing them to 2360 South Taylor Road, Decatur, Illinois 62521 prior to 30 March.

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State Representative Encourages Illinoisans To Reach Out Democratic Lawmakers With How Legislation Will Impact Them

The early tenure of Democratic Governor JB Pritzker is already drawing a lot of criticism from Republican lawmakers in Springfield and one local House member is encouraging residents to reach out to Democratic leaders and tell their stories of how their legislation is going to impact them.

 

From the minimum wage hike to the recently rolled out income tax restructuring proposal, State Representative Dan Caulkins says instead of complaining to each other and online bickering, reach out to lawmakers of the opposite party and tell your story and let them know how what they are doing is going to impact you.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins recognizes there's a challenge in dealing with Democrats in Illinois because many have a strong alliance with the Speaker and the Senate President and now the Governor, but he hopes Illinoisans will be "patriots and citizens and stand up for what is right."

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Weekly Weather Summary

Could we be finally getting a glimpse of consistent spring weather? State Climatologist Office Spokesperson Brian Kerschner has more....

 

 

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Nationally Ranked Illinois Museum Celebrates Food, Farming

More than a thousand kids and their parents connected with farmers Saturday at a northern Illinois museum USA Today calls one of the best family museums in the country. 

 

The Discovery Center Museum in Rockford partnered with its local Farm Bureau to hold an "Ag All Around Us" special one-day exhibit. Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau manager Ann Marie Cain describes what the children got to see and do;

 

 

Diane Cleland (CLEE-lend), who farms and also serves as her county Farm Bureau's ag literacy coordinator, says a lot of benefits result from such events;

 

 

National Agriculture Week takes place next week with Agriculture Day celebrations taking place the first day of spring on Wednesday, March 20th.

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Illinois Group Celebrating Math With 'Pi-Day'

The Illinois Science Council believes the importance of mathematics should be recognized at least once a year. That's why the group celebrates 'Pi Day' - that's P-I-Day on 3-14, or this Thursday, March 14th. 

 

Science Council executive director Monica Metzler says the group will hold four, Pi-Day, Pi-K's, or 3-point-1-4 mile early evening fun-runs and walks in Chicago, Oak Park and Deerfield;

 

 

Metzler says her group tries to make math, science, technology and engineering a life-long learning experience by making it fun;

 

 

The I-S-C has attracted adult members by holding other events such as the science of beer, science of coffee and science of the cocktail. Meztler says they bring in a real scientist to conduct experiments on each subject at hand with participants. The group also holds it annual Illinois Science Festival at Chicago's Merchandise Mart in May.

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NRCS Holding Annual Fish Sale

The DeWitt County Soil & Water Conservation District is conducting otheir spring fish sale ending on March 18th at 3:00pm.    

 

Grass carp need to  be ordered by  Monday, March 11th,  2019. 

 

Available varieties are grass carp, channel catfish, hybrid sunfish, large mouth bass, bluegill, standard redear, black crappie and fathead minnows all at various sizes. 

 

The fish will be delivered for pick up on Friday, March 29th, 2019 at 8:00 AM at the district office. 

 

The district offers this sale as a service to make fish available in smaller quantities for pond stocking not normally available to the public. 

 

You can like  NRCS on Facebook by searching 'dewittcountysoilandwater', stop by the SWCD office in Clinton at 5920 Revere Road, or call 217-935-2181, ext. 3. 

 

Receive an order form on Facebook, in their office or call and receive an order form by email. 

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Attonrey General's Office Highlights Top 10 Consumer Complaints

The Illinois Attorney General has a new list of complaints from consumers. The top 10 include trouble with contractors and home repairs. 

 

The AG’s office had more than 21,000 complaints and among the top 10 are identity theft and other scams. Attorney General Kwame Raoul most scams get started with a phone call.

 

 

 

If you feel that you have been scammed you can reach out to the AG at Illinois Attorney General dot gov.

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State Fair Grandstand Concert Tickets Go On Sale April 2

ILLINOIS STATE FAIR GRANDSTAND CONCERT TICKETS GO ON SALE SATURDAY, APRIL 20TH.

TICKETS TO CONCERTS LIKE DAN AND SHAY, PENTATONIX, OLD DOMINION AND SNOOP DOG WILL BE AVAILABLE AT TICKETMASTER DOT COM ON APRIL 20TH. YOU CAN ALSO GET THEM AT THE STATE FAIR GRANDSTAND BOX OFFICE STARTING ON THE 22ND SAYS SPOKESPERSON MORGAN BOOTH.

 

 

BOOTH SAYS THERE WILL BE THE USUAL THREE TIERS OF TICKETS, PLUS THE V-I-P TRACK TICKET AS WELL AS THE STATE SIDE PRE-SHOW PARTY.

 

 

BOOTH REMINDS THAT TICKETMASTER AND THE BOX OFFICE ARE THE ONLY VENDORS AUTHORIZED TO SELL GRANDSTAND CONCERT TICKETS.

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Clinton Chamber of Commerce Welcoming 15 New Businesses to Annual Expo

The annual Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo is set to welcome 15 new businesses to this year's event, set for March 27 at Clinton High School.

 

Executive Director Marian Brisard says it's exciting the event continues to grow and be appealing to area businesses.

 

 

While registration has concluded, Brisard says they will still take any business or group that wants to be a part of this year's event. Though there will be a late fee to pay, she hopes that won't stop anyone interested in participating.

 

 

For the Chamber, the Business Expo is a small fundraiser but greater than that, the event is a great opportunity for businesses to get together and network with each other and the community for three hours.

 

 

Booth space is $95 for a Chamber member and $140. Booth space is eight-feet-by-eight-feet with access to power, Wi-Fi, and a table. Brisard says it is a very professional set up.

 

This year's Business Expo will feature the community shred hosted again by the State Bank of Lincoln, a fashion show with Love It Once More Thrift Store, a photo booth provided by EMC Photography, and face painting for the kids.

 

Again, the event is Wednesday, March 27 from 4 pm to 7 pm at Clinton High School. Get more information or get registered by contacting the Chamber at 217-935-3364 or visit clintonilchamber.com. 

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Pritzker Reveals Fair Tax Rate Details

Governor JB Pritzker released his proposal for a new way to tax income in Illinois. A progressive tax structure would lower the tax on incomes under $250,000. That lower rate however starts at four point seven five percent, a tax break of maybe a few hundred dollars a year for most tax payers in Illinois. Pritzker says that it’s the best way to handle billions in unpaid bills and pension liabilities.

 

 

Opposition has already started on the other side of the isle from the Illinois Republican Party to members of the House GOP.

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Blue Ridge Schools Leader Talks Minimum Wage Hike, Teacher Salary Legislation

Prevailing opinions among school leaders in central Illinois is trending towards a neutral stance on a teacher minimum salary and questions surrounding the minimum wage hike.

 

Superintendent of Blue Ridge Schools, Susan Wilson, recently weighed in on the two pieces of legislation that will impact schools and she believes the teacher minimum salary is not going to have a great impact on schools, even Blue Ridge, because the teacher shortage is dictating schools adjust their salaries as they face a teacher shortage.

 

 

The minimum wage hike, however, is concerning for Wilson. She is fearful it will impact the ability of their students to find work. For the district, when hiring, they will start looking for employees with more skills. 

 

 

Wilson believes the phase-in of the minimum wage is going to make the change easier and points out their classroom staff is required to have some level of skill development while other staff does not have those requirements and says it will remain to be seen how those non-skilled positions are impacted.  

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Suspect in Rockford Shooting Arrested Outside Lincoln After Standoff

A man suspected of fatally shooting a sheriff’s deputy and wounding a woman at an Illinois hotel was taken into custody Thursday after an hourslong standoff that began when he crashed his vehicle along an interstate highway, authorities said.

 

Floyd E. Brown, 39, was arrested hours after the crash in central Illinois, State Trooper Sean Ramsey said. Officers employed flash grenades to disable Brown after trying for hours to negotiate with him to surrender, police said.

 

Brown, of Springfield, was taken to a hospital to be treated for several injuries. It wasn’t immediately known what caused the injuries, Ramsey said.

 

Brown is accused of fatally shooting 35-year-old Deputy Jacob Keltner, a 12 ½-year veteran of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office in northern Illinois. Keltner was pronounced dead at a hospital several hours after he was shot, spokesman David Dezane said.

 

Police said a 25-year-old woman described as an acquaintance of Brown suffered injuries that weren’t life-threatening after being hit with one of Brown’s rounds. She was treated at a hospital and released.

 

No shots were fired by law enforcement during the incident, authorities said.

 

The shootings happened Thursday morning at a hotel as a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force tried to serve Brown with an arrest warrant for burglary and parole violation charges. Brown fled the hotel in Rockford in Winnebago County, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northwest of Chicago, and traveled about 170 miles (274 kilometers) to Logan County in central Illinois, police said.

 

Prosecutors in Winnebago County in northern Illinois initially issued a warrant with $5 million bond against Brown for attempted murder. State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross said the charge was upgraded to first-degree murder after Keltner died. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said Brown also will face a federal murder charge in the death of the deputy, who was assisting federal law enforcement when he was shot.

 

Keltner was the first officer in the department to die in the line of duty in three years, Prim said.

From 2009 to 2019, 73 officers were killed nationwide while attempting to serve warrants, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit group that keeps track of officer fatalities nationwide.

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The Vault New Program Director Ready To Jump Right In With Community's Youth

Kim Toohill (pictured right) is the new Program Director at The Vault in Clinton and she is jumping right in to get the youth involved and offer programs to help them.

 

Toohill indicates the community has been very helpful in providing them feedback with what the youth need and so with that in mind, they are focused on offering classes and programs to help them deal with anxiety and stress, find their skills and passions, and opportunities to give back to the community.

 

She says they are excited to offer things like meditation and yoga and offering classes to give them skills to deal with their emotions.

 

 

'Adulting' classes will be a highlight of offerings for students to help find their skills and passions. Toohill is hoping to offer a trade fair and computer classes as well to give them an idea of the possibilities out there for them.

 

 

At Clinton High School, students have to take on a certain amount of community service to graduate and Toohill wants to give students the opportunity to take care of some of those hours.

 

 

The Vault is getting a great response from the community and Toohill believes a lot of the students that are coming in are exactly who they targeted with The Vault started. Leaders are excited about the interactions they're having with their kids.

 

We'll have more on The Vault next week on Regional Radio News. 

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Standoff on Interstate North of Lincoln Continues

Police have surrounded the suspect in the shooting of a police officer with an armed standoff continuing on Interstate-55. 

 

39-year-old Floyd Brown is stranded in his vehicle some 170 miles south of the shooting scene, near Lincoln, not far from his hometown of Springfield. Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell, who had operated a potential roadblock says the suspect wrecked, late this morning, setting the stage for the ongoing standoff...

 

 

I-55 is closed between mile markers 126 and 134 as well as the neighboring portion of Route 66 with massive traffic backups and detours. 

 

Today, authorities in Rockford say they tried to serve an arrest warrant at an extended stay motel when Brown opened fire, critically injuring a McHenry County Deputy serving with the U.S. Marshalls Fugitive Task Force. 

 

Brown reportedly pointed a rifle believed to be an AK-47 at authorities, leading to the arrival of additional State Police swat team members and negotiators.

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Interstate 55 Shut Down Near Lincoln As State Police Engaged With Suspects in Rockford US Marshall Shooting

Interstate 55 north of Lincoln is currently closed as the Illinois State Police are on the scene after the suspects in a morning shootout with a US Marshall in Rockford have crashed. 

 

Earlier this morning, State Police assisted with active shooter incident which began in Rockford, IL.

 

ISP officers engaged in a pursuit with the suspect. The suspect is currently stationary inside of his vehicle on I-55 southbound at mile marker 133 in Logan County.

 

I-55 northbound and southbound lanes at this location are temporarily shut down. Route 66 is also temporarily shut down.

 

State Police SWAT is on the scene and crisis negotiation officers will be on the scene as well. 

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Snow, Freezing Rain Expected Into Morning Hours

Snow changing to freezing rain will blanket central Illinois this afternoon and into the morning hours.

 

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory into the morning hours with forecasted snowfall of around 2-inches today with roughly a tenth to three-tenths of an inch of ice in the overnight. 

 

Heavier snow amounts expected during the day Thursday as snow will mix with freezing rain tonight. 

Plan on slippery conditions during the evening and morning commute. 

 

 

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Warner Hospital CEO Watching Funding Proposals As Future of Rural Hospital's Funding Could Be Impacted

February was a busy month for Warner Hospital CEO Paul Skowron. Not because the flu ran roughshod through the community and schools, but because he was in front of state and federal lawmakers to lobby to keep funding intact for rural hospitals in Illinois.

 

Skowron says he talked with Congressman Rodney Davis and Senator Dick Durbin in Washington, DC and talked with Senator Chapin Rose and first-term Representative Dan Caulkins. Skowron indicates they were all receptive to his message.

 

 

According to Skowron, the lawmakers are working on a program called "The Choice Program for Veterans", which seeks to provide veterans with a reasonable price for health care.

 

 

In Springfield, the message was similar and Skowron says the representation for Clinton was very aware of the funding challenges facing rural hospitals, especially as it relates to Medicaid reimbursements. 

 

 

Skowron explains the federal government partially funds the Medicaid program and Medicaid makes up around 40-percent of the hospital's annual budget. 

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CEA Fourth Annual Dodgeball Tournament Set for March 15

The Clinton Education Association will host an annual fundraising event on March 15.

 

Christina Soberalski with CEA, indicates that the fourth annual dodgeball tournament will take place on March 15 at Clinton High School. The tournament is open to high school students and adults. 

 

 

Soberalski says the deadline for team signups is March 11. Teams are limited to 6 to 9 players and will play in a double elimination tournament. Concessions will also be available.

 

 

Soberalski says this year they are looking for area businesses to enter teams into the tournament.

 

The deadline for registration is March 11. To register contact Christina Soberalski at (217) 433-9862, on Facebook, or email at csoberalski@cusd15.org.

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Monticello Superintendent Instrumental in Monticello Legislation To Fine Students Caught Vaping on School Property

Youth vaping is becoming a growing concern among lawmakers across the country and school leaders are taking notice and are joining in the fight.

 

That includes Monticello Schools Superintendent, Dr. Vic Zimmerman, who explains he went before the Monticello City Council to express his concerns with what was happening in his school.

 

 

Minors are not to have access to those devices and Dr. Zimmerman took notice of other communities that made having a vape pen a fineable offense, which is what he ultimately wanted to see happen.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman says the purpose of the city ordinance is to deter students from vaping all together and wants kids to make good decisions.

 

Dr. Zimmerman estimates they've had between 20-25 in school suspensions for vaping. 

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Late Spring Planting in Illinois

It’s a foregone conclusion that spring planting will be delayed this year, not just in Illinois, but many parts of the country. 

 

That’s what DTN Chief Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson is hearing from farmers.

 

 

Anderson had those conversations with farmers from across the country at last week’s Commodity Classic in Orlando.

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State Police Making Improvements To FOID Card Revocation, Enforcement

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS MAKING IMPROVEMENTS TO ITS FOID CARD ENFORCEMENT AND REVOCATION PROCESS.

 

IN THE WAKE OF THE AURORA SHOOTING…STATE POLICE ACTING DIRECTOR BRENDAN KELLY SAYS THEY ARE WORKING TO TIGHTEN UP THE PROCESS AND THAT INCLUDES GIVING LOCAL POLICE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHY SOMEONE’S FOID CARD WAS REVOKED…SUCH AS IF THEY ARE DANGEROUS, OR IF THEY JUST MOVED TO ANOTHER STATE.

 

 

OTHER CHANGES INCLUDE MORE EDUCATION FOR POLICE ON FOID CARD LAWS AND WORKING WITH FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO BETTER IDENTIFY CRIMINALS. KELLY SAYS THEY REALLY WANT TO FOCUS ON GETTING GUNS OUT OF THE WRONG HANDS.

 

 

FOID CARD ENFORCEMENT BECAME AN ISSUE AFTER IT WAS DISCOVERED THE WORKPLACE SHOOTER IN AURORA PREVIOUSLY HAD HIS FOID CARD REVOKED BUT STILL HAD HIS GUN AND AN INITIAL BACKGROUND CHECK DIDN’T SHOW A PAST CONVICTION FOR ASSAULT.

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Bill Creates Office of Suicide Prevention

MORE THAN 14-HUNDRED PEOPLE COMMIT SUICIDE EACH YEAR IN ILLINOIS AND NEW LEGISLATION AIMS TO LOWER THAT NUMBER. 

 

THE BILL CREATES THE ILLINOIS OFFICE OF SUICIDE PREVENTION TO HELP ORGANIZE AND IMPLEMENT THE LATEST PREVENTION STRATEGIES. FOR EXAMPLE, AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION ILLINOIS’ STEVE MOORE SAYS PRIMARY DOCTORS AND EMERGENCY ROOM PERSONNEL SHOULD BEING ROUTINELY SCREENING PATIENTS.

 

 

MOORE SAYS THEY WOULD ALSO LIKE TO SEE MORE FOCUS ON SUICIDE PREVENTION IN SCHOOLS AND AMONG LAW ENFORCEMENT. UNDER THE LEGISLATION, THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH WOULD HOUSE THE NEW OFFICE OF SUICIDE PREVENTION. IT’S SPONSORED BY SENATOR HEATHER STEANS (stains) OF CHICAGO.

 

 

NEW STRATEGIES INCLUDE REMOVING THE STIGMA FOR FIRST RESPONDERS TO GET HELP AND INTERVENTION PROGRAMS TO MAKE SURE PATIENTS KEEP THEIR APPOINTMENTS WITH THEIR PSYCHOLOGIST OR PSYCHIATRIST.

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AARP Highlights Two Bills To Provide Better Care To Older Illinoisans

A-A-R-P IS URGING LAWMAKERS TO PASS TWO BILLS AIMED AT IMPROVING THE CARE OF OLDER ILLINOISANS.

 

THE FIRST LEGISLATION REQUIRES THE STATE TO SET UP A DATABASE WHERE PEOPLE CAN SEE NURSING HOME REPORTS AND VIOLATIONS, SETS UP RULES FOR ADMINISTERING PSYCHIATRIC MEDICATION AND ADDRESSES MINIMUM STAFFING LEVELS SAYS SENATOR JACQUELINE COLLINS OF CHICAGO.

 

 

THE OTHER BILL CREATES AN UP TO 15-HUNDRED DOLLAR TAX CREDIT FOR ELIGIBLE FAMILY CAREGIVERS. MARCUS EVANS SAYS THIS WOULD HELP WITH COSTS LIKE HOME MODIFICATIONS, TRANSPORTATION AND EQUIPMENT.

 

 

IT ALSO REQUIRES THE STATE TO HAVE A PUBLIC DATABASE OF NURSING HOME REPORTS AND VIOLATIONS.

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Central Illinois CEO Program Looking For Student Applications

High school juniors from Clinton, Blue Ridge, Maroa-Forsyth and Warrensburg-Latham, school districts interested in working with local businesses or owning their own businesses in the future are encouraged to apply for the Central Illinois Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CICEO) program.

 

The CEO program, based on the Midland Institute’s program, is a year-long course designed to utilize partnerships that provide an overview of business development and processes. Students who complete the program also earn high school credit. The inaugural class begins in the fall pf 2019.

 

Students accepted into the program will meet daily, Monday through Friday, before school hours at a participating business to learn more about that business, complete special projects related to that business and to network with business leaders.

 

Students interested in applying for the program can find more information at https://www.centralillinoisceo.com/. 

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New Assessments Replacing Former PARCC Tests

A new test with fewer testing days welcomes the spring assessment season in Clinton schools.

 

Clinton Elementary School Principal Sacha Young explains the new tests replace the former PARCC tests and it will include fewer test days, which she says is welcome from all parties.

 

 

The tests mean a great deal to the district in terms of how the state grades the district. Young encourages parents to make sure students are getting a good amount of rest during this time.

 

 

Young says they try to encourage the students to do their best during the tests and hopes parents will do the same. She adds they will have an assembly that recognizes students that did well on the tests in years past to get the students excited about the testing. 

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Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond FFA Alumni Offering Annual Scholarship

The Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond FFA Alumni Chapter are offering scholarships for the 2019–20 school year. 

 

The scholarships are available to students who are entering either their first or second year of post-secondary education at a trade school, junior college, or university. 


Students do not need to be agriculture majors to receive a scholarship.  

 

To be eligible, a student must be a graduate of ALAH High School and have been a member of the FFA for a minimum of two semesters. Students must complete an application and an in-person interview with the Alumni Scholarship Team. 

 

Deadline to apply is March 31, 2019. 

 

Applications are available by calling Jim Fleming, 217-791-1026. 

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Peace Meal Promoting Mental Health Challenges Facing Seniors

Much attention is given to the mental health of today's youth and while that is certainly a growing concern in today's world, a local group is hoping you won't forget about those neighbors of yours that might be seniors. 

 

Peace Meal of central Illinois is hoping you will remember that seniors, especially those that may be orphaned or widowed, may find themselves lonely and even in despair because they just do not have anyone to connect with.

 

 

According to Shelly Tolley with Peace Meal of Central Illinois, they are partnering with East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging to start a program in Champaign County that would pair seniors with someone of similar interests to call or check in on them once a week and give them something to look forward to during their week.

 

 

Tolley hopes folks will engage with their neighbors that may be homebound and without a consistent person to talk to. While you don't have to check in on them every day, they would likely appreciate you stopping by every now and then.

 

 

If you are in Champaign County and you'd like to be a part of the new program in Champaign County that reaches out to homebound seniors once a week, you can contact their main office at 217-345-1800 or 1-800-543-1770. 

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E-Cigarettes, Vape Pens Part of Smoke Free Illinois Act

A BILL IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE RESTRICTS WHERE PEOPLE CAN USE E-CIGARETTES AND VAPE PENS.

 

THE MEASURE, SPONSORED BY SENATOR TERRY LINK OF WAUKEGAN, INCLUDES ALTERNATIVE SMOKING PRODUCTS LIKE E-CIGS IN THE SMOKE FREE ILLINOIS ACT. THAT MEANS THEY COULDN’T BE USED IN ENCLOSED PUBLIC PLACES, LIKE A RESTAURANT OR BUSINESS, OR WITHIN 15 FEET OF THE ENTRANCE.

 

 

LINK SAYS HE WILL WORK WITH OPPONENTS TO ADDRESS THEIR CONCERNS.

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Warner Library Expands Free Tax Program, Space Limited

The demand for the free tax help program at Warner Library in Clinton has been so high that the program is expanding its hours.

 

Librarian Samantha Rusk says the program is expanding their Thursday hours to the afternoon. She reminds folks this is a free program thanks to AARP and the local senior group, RSVP, are partnering to offer this free to the community.

 

 

While tax day is still over a month away, Rusk indicates there is quite a wait so she encourages a call now if you're interested in taking advantage of this free service.

 

 

Rusk says the volunteers with RSVP had to go through extensive training to be able to offer this to the community. When you call to schedule your appointment, you will be prompted with what information you'll need to bring with you.

 

The library's number is 217-935-5174.

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This Week is Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Sub-zero temperatures are not making folks think of severe weather but this week is National Severe Weather Preparedness Week and March is National Severe Weather Preparedness Month. 

 

Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln says even though we're seeing unusually cold weather this week, this is the time of year when severe weather begins to become more and more likely. He's hoping folks will begin to think about what they will do if a tornado was to sweep through their community or even their home.

 

 

Miller recommends having an NOAA Weather radio in your home, which is a direct link to the National Weather Service and will have the latest on all the watches and warnings.

 

 

When you're listening to The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW or 95.9 FM WEZC, you'll be updated with the latest in watches and warnings thanks to a link directly to the National Weather Service. 

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Statewide Tornado Drill Today

The National Weather Service wants you to be aware of the potential for severe weather again this spring. The NWS and Illinois Emergency Management Agency will be conducting a statewide tornado drill today (Tuesday), and you will likely hear tornado sirens and emergency alerts if you are listening to the radio, watching TV, or subscribe to a text-message alert system.

 

WeatherSpotter Training Coordinator John Nell says the more advance warning you have when the weather turns severe, the more prepared you can be, so this is a great time to either create or assess your plan when severe weather strikes.

 

 

Nell reminds there are a number of different ways to receive weather warnings, including through a weather radio, notifications on your smart phone, and local radio station. Tuesday's drill is slated for 10am.

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Springfield Family Saves Toddler

A toddler is saved from a fire in a dramatic rescue in Springfield and it was up to neighbors to become first responders thanks to firefighters receiving the wrong directions. Fire Chief Allen Reyne (Rye-knee).

 

 

The neighbor caught the child successfully. Four people in all, including the child suffered only minor injuries.

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Illinois Saw Cold, Stormy February

Weather experts say February was cold and stormy in Illinois with above-average precipitation and below-average temperatures.

The Illinois state climatologist’s office says the preliminary average statewide precipitation in Illinois during February was about 3.3 inches (8.4 centimeters), about 1.3 inches (3.3 centimeters) above average. The climatologist’s office described February as having “an almost constant succession” of storms resulting in moderate snow accumulation for northern Illinois. It says far southern Illinois saw “persistent rain events and widespread flooding.”

The highest monthly precipitation total was at Smithland Lock and Dam in Pope County at nearly 10.7 inches (27.2 centimeters). The office says snowfall was plentiful in counties along the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Galena had the highest snowfall total at 25.7 inches (65.3 centimeters).

Statewide the preliminary average temperature in February was 28.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 1.9 degrees Celsius), a few degrees below average.

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Old Dominion Added To State Fair Grand Stand Lineup

COUNTRY GROUP “OLD DOMINION” IS JOINING THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIR GRANDSTAND LINEUP. 

 

SIGNING HITS LIKE “BREAK UP WITH HIM,” “NO SUCH THING AS A BROKEN HEART” AND “HOTEL KEY,” OLD DOMINION WILL PLAY ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 15TH SAYS FAIR SPOKESPERSON MORGAN BOOTH.

 

 

BOOTH SAYS IT’S A CONCERT THEY ARE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT.

 

 

OTHER GRANDSTAND ACTS ANNOUNCED FOR THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIR SO FAR INCLUDE DAN AND SHAY, WHY DON’T WE, PENTATONIX AND SNOOP DOGG. TICKETS GO ON SALE THIS SPRING.

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IDHS Launching New Website For Those With Gambling Addiction

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES IS A LAUNCHING A NEW WEBSITE FOR THOSE FIGHTING GAMBLING ADDICTION. 

 

THE WEBSITE: WE KNOW THE FEELING DOT ORG, COMPLIMENTS THE EXISTING 1-800-GAMBLER HOTLINE, AND OFFERS TREATMENT AND RECOVERY OPTIONS SAYS D-H-S’ DANI KIRBY.

 

 

WE KNOW THE FEELING DOT ORG ALSO INCLUDES A QUIZ PEOPLE CAN TAKE TO HELP DETERMINE IF THEY HAVE A GAMBLING PROBLEM.

 

 

PEOPLE CAN ALSO CALL 1-800-GAMBLER, OR TEXT: IL GAMB TO 53342 FOR HELP.

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11 State Troopers Hit on Side of Road This Year

Move over. 

 

It’s the law and the Illinois State Police are reminding you at a time when they have had a number of troopers and their vehicle’s hit by passing motorists with one turning fatal this year. This year alone 11 troopers have been hit in their cars while assisting or pulling over drivers. ISP’s Mindy Carroll says it’s already a dangerous job and there is no reason to make it more so. 

 

 

And if you can’t get pulled over to the other lane Trooper Carroll says slow down and drive past with caution. 

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Clinton City Commissioner Dunks On Governor After Proposal To Slash Funds To Local Communities

Clueless and ignorant.

 

That is how Clinton Commissioner of Finance Tom Edmunds described Democratic Governor JB Pritzker's knowledge of local government after proposals to slash vital funding sources to communities in Illinois.

 

 

Edmunds comments followed an update on the local sales tax figures which continue to show positive results following the closure of Walmart last summer.

 

 

Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting...

 

>>The Council approved an agreement with the DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency for a cost of $15,000 to paid in four quarterly installments of $3,750.

 

>>The Council approved the purchase of a radiodetection locator for the sewer department for $3,596.60.

 

>>The Council approved for the City to go out for bids as a part of Municipal Gas Aggregation.

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Lincoln High School Superintendent Talks Minimum Wage, Teacher Salary Increases

School leaders in central Illinois have varying opinions and perspectives about how the gradual minimum wage increase will impact their districts. 

 

Superintendent of Lincoln High School, Bob Bagby says one concern he has is how the increases impact staffers that are at or just above the new thresholds. He is questioning what should happen with their salaries, especially if they have been on the payroll for a while. 

 

 

As far as the likely passage of the minimum teacher salary, Bagby indicates that won't be as impactful for Lincoln High School because as a district, they have been working to get better educators in their classrooms by offering a higher salary. He says the teacher shortage in education has forced their school, along with numerous others, to act accordingly by raising teacher wages. 

 

 

Bagby adds, they will run into scenarios where they will have teachers that have been with the district for at least a couple years that will be not making quite $40,000 which is what the legislation is calling for, and he also questions how you handle their salaries. 

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BBB Warns of Bogus Shipping Companies

Are you considering entering into a work-from-home reshipping business? The Better Business Bureau wants you to ask yourself, "Why can't the business just ship the goods themselves?” The agency says you need to be aware many of these so-called opportunities are just a front for illegal activities.

 

Investigator Don O'Brien says you could find yourself breaking the law.

 

 

And then you may have your identity stolen too. Most of these businesses are not located where they claim to have offices. The BBB has identified at least seven businesses with nearly identical websites claiming locations in various U.S. cities.

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DCDC Hosting Leaders Breakfast This Thursday to Promote Revolving Loan Fund

If you are a business owner in, or around DeWitt County, the DeWitt County Development Council is inviting you to be a part of their latest leaders breakfast this Thursday morning at Cinco de Mayo.

 

David Torbert, President of the DCDC Board, says their leaders breakfast this time around is going to be to promote their revolving loan fund, which seeks to help business owners start up or expand their existing business.

 

 

Torbert explains the USDA's Rural Development program made the opportunity to DeWitt County. He says it is a good opportunity to help local business grow and expand.

 

 

It is $10 to be a part of the leaders breakfast, again, Thursday morning at Cinco de Mayo with a check in at 7:30 am.

 

Get more information or reserve your spot by contacting the DCDC via a Facebook message. 

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Heyworth Schools Taking Next Step in Facilities Updates

The Heyworth School district has been in need of updates in their facilities, specifically their athletic facilities, for some time and that process is beginning to gain momentum. 
 

Superintendent Lisa Taylor indicates last week, their Board of Education took the next steps to finalize their plans and move forward to go out for bid on athletic facilities updates along with some other projects at their junior/senior high.

 

 

According to Taylor, their current facilities limit the things they can do and with a new competition gym, they'll be able to host tournaments at all times of the year.

 

 

Taylor hopes to have the bid process ends by May and they would like construction to begin in early June with the completion of 2020. 

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Scovill Zoo Behind on Winter Projects Thanks to Weather

The extreme cold and excess moisture are putting things behind at Decatur's Scovill Zoo as they anticipate an April opening for their season.

 

Director Ken Frye they will generally battle through the thawing to get things done, like minor upgrades to their exhibits or facilities. This year, however, that has not been able to take place.

 

 

A major project that is behind right now is the extension of their train. Frye says their plan is to almost double it's length, extending to the Children's Museum, their neighbor. He indicates work on that has not been done since December.

 

 

While the project is behind, Frye says he wants the project finished with safety in mind, so if that means a mid-summer completion, he does not mind.

 

The Howard Buffet Foundation made a donation to expand the train the route at the zoo last year. Frye says it's going to be exciting when it is complete. 

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Group Looks For Improvements in 8-1-1 System

Some Illinois farmers believe the current 8-1-1 system to help locate underground pipelines, phone lines and other buried utility cables beneath farmland needs some improvements. 

 

JULIE stands for Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators, and some farmers like Jeff Kirwan say finding precise information about what's under land can be a challenge;

 

 

A little over a year ago, two farmers died when they struck a high-pressure gas line in northern Illinois. Kirwan, who also serves as a director on the Illinois Farm Bureau board, says since farmland often lacks a specific addresses a different way to I-D utility lines is needed;

 

 

The U-S Department of Transportation has federal and Illinois Commerce Commission state oversight over underground utility lines.

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Cold Air To Follow Snow

As the snow begins to move into the area with varying snowfall amounts across central Illinois, cold air will be immediately following that system.

 

National Weather Service's Scott Baker says it's going to be very cold Sunday night and last into Monday and Tuesday of this coming week.

 

 

Baker says long term, the first few weeks of the month are showing cold air sticking around and then equal chances of above and below normal the last half of the month.

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Department of Revenue Warning Public To Guard Information

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE IS WORKING TO PREVENT TAX FRAUD AND URGES TAXPAYERS TO PROTECT THEIR OWN INFORMATION.

 

SINCE 2015…THE DEPARTMENT HAS STOPPED MORE THAN 120 MILLION DOLLARS IN ATTEMPTED IDENTITY THEFT AND FRAUD, THANKS TO TECHNOLOGY TO HELP WEED OUT ILLEGAL ACTIVITY, ACCORDING TO DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESPERSON TERRY HORSTMAN.

 

 

 

HORSTMAN SAYS THE PUBLIC SHOULD TAKE SOME THESE COMMON SENSE PRECAUTIONS AS WELL.

 

 

HORSTMAN REMINDS THAT IF TAXPAYERS RECEIVE AN IDENTIFY VERIFICATION LETTER FROM THE DEPARTMENT, THEY CAN AUTHENTICATE THEIR INFORMATION ONLINE AT: MY TAX DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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Warner Library Looking For Local Artists To Display Work

Whatever medium you create art, the Warner Library in Clinton is seeking artists willing to display their work.

 

Director Bobbi Perryman explains they want to start displaying the talent of local artists and all types of art are welcome.

 

 

Perryman says they've had a display in the Museum Room up for about a year and they are looking to find new material to show off. 

 

Contact the library at 217-935-5174 for more information or to promote what you've created. 

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Lincoln High School Superintendent Announces Retirement

It was an unexpected twist for the Lincoln High School Board of Education when Superintendent Robert Bagby announced his retirement effective at the conclusion of the school year.

 

The longtime educator who has been a superintendent almost 20 years says it is time he focuses on his family and enjoy the success his grandkids are experiencing.

 

 

With two years still left on his contract, Bagby had long told the Board of Education he would serve out the remainder of his contract but he felt now was the time to step aside and let someone else lead. 

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National Weather Service Says Most Snow Will Stay South

Don't plan on as much snowfall if you live in central Illinois.

 

The National Weather Service says the system that was expected to bring 3-5 inches of snow to the area is shifting to the south and minimal snowfall amounts are expected locally. Scott Baker with the NWS in Lincoln says we're only expecting a couple of inches in Lincoln and Clinton with smaller amounts to the north and larger amounts the farther south you get.

 

 

Baker says snowfall should begin later Saturday night and last into the morning hours Sunday.

 

 

Following the weather system that will bring this snow, Baker says there will be very cold air on the other side of it and that will last into next week and even the week following. 

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DeWitt County Sheriff Plans To Keep Inmates Local

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker says not many changes are being made as he continues to the first few months of his tenure but notes, one thing he is preparing for is to keep inmates in the DeWitt County Jail starting in April.

 

Sheriff Walker says when the decision was made to transport inmates to Piatt County, the area faced a lot of economic uncertainty, primarily the future of the power plant.

 

 

Going forward, when the agreement ends, Sheriff Walker plans to resume housing inmates locally. But first, the jail needs some upgrades to the tune of about $200,000.

 

 

The Sheriff says right now he is working to fill at least one open position on the force and could possibly have another spot coming open in the near future. 

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools Leader Expresses Concern Over Minimum Wage, Teacher Minimum Wage Increases

Central Illinois school leaders continue to express concern over the proposed minimum wage increases and a likely change in minimum teacher salaries.

 

Warrensburg-Latham Schools Superintendent Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle says the minimum wage increase is going to be felt as they prepare to adjust their staff to the minimum that will be at the peak $15 an hour by 2025.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says her research so far has included looking at what employees the law would include and computing how that impacts the rest of their staff. She is not sure how well this was thought out by the lawmakers that pushed so hard for this.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says the impact would be roughly 20-percent of their staff and questions how the district is going to be able to afford this. She indicates the three options of tax increases, programs or staff reductions will not be popular options if that is what they are going to have to do. 

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National Weather Service Discusses Unusual Weather Patterns of Last Few Years

What is going on with the weather and when are things going to break?

 

That is probably the first thing you think when you walk outside and it is well below freezing. While cold weather isn't unusual in March and even April, Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln says the last few years, the prolonged cold has been very unusual.

 

 

Miller says the month of December and the early part of January were a little warmer than usual. He explains the science surrounding what has happened regarding the polar vortex.

 

 

The drastic changes in weather and the lack of pronounced seasons in Illinois and the midwest leads many to point to the polarizing term, global warming. Miller outlines what they have seen from a scientific perspective on climate change.

 

 

Long term, Miller says anticipate big temperature swings late in March and then April and also notes, they are looking at above normal precipitation late in the spring.

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Replacing Missed School Days With E-Learning Needs Better Internet Connectivity Says State Lawmaker

Could e-learning be used to combat missed school days due to harsh winter weather? 

 

Local State Rep. Dan Swanson says it’s a concept worth considering, but rural areas need more reliable internet service before that idea can ever get off the ground.

 

 

Several schools in Swanson's district has missed 13 days this winter. 

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Lawmakers Introduce Bills To Fight High Prescription Drug Costs

A GROUP OF HOUSE LAWMAKERS IS INTRODUCING A PACKAGE OF BILLS TO ADDRESS THE HIGH COST OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION.

 

ONE BILL CALLS FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY WHEN MANUFACTURERS RAISE THE PRICE OF MEDICINE, WHILE ANOTHER ASSESSES FINES FOR PRICE GOUGING SAYS REPRESENTATIVE WILL GUZZARDI OF CHICAGO.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA MOELLER OF ELGIN IS SPONSORING ONE OF THE BILLS…

 

 

OTHER MEASURES CREATE A WHOLESALE IMPORTATION PROGRAM TO HELP ACCESS CHEAPER DRUGS FROM CANADA AND SETS UP A SYSTEM WHERE DOCTOR’S CAN GET UNBIASED INFORMATION ABOUT DIFFERENT MEDICATIONS SO THAT THEY AREN’T ONLY RELYING ON SALESPEOPLE.

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Clean Energy Jobs Act Introduced

NEW CLEAN ENERGY LEGISLATION IS BEING INTRODUCED IN THE ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY. 

 

THE CLEAN ENERGY JOBS ACT INCLUDES AMBITIOUS GOALS LIKE ACHIEVING 100 PERCENT RENEWABLE ENERGY BY 2050 AND REPLACING A GOOD CHUNK OF GAS AND DIESEL POWERED VEHICLES WITH ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND MASS TRANSIT. REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS WELCH OF WESTCHESTER IS A BILL SPONSOR.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE ANN WILLIAMS OF CHICAGO ALSO SUPPORTS THE BILL. 

 

 

THE BILL ALSO STRIVES TO MAKE SURE ALL 102 ILLINOIS COUNTIES BENEFIT EQUALLY FROM CLEAN ENERGY PROGRESS AND JOBS.

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Bill Creates Hospital Nurse Staff Ratios

HOSPITAL NURSES IN ILLINOIS ARE PUSHING FOR STATEWIDE STAFFING STANDARDS.

 

ADVOCATES SEEKING SET NURSE-TO-PATIENT RATIOS SAY “SAFE STAFFING SAVES LIVES.” THEY ARE SUPPORTING A BILL CREATING THE HOSPITAL PATIENT PROTECTION ACT, WHICH IS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE THERESA MAH OF CHICAGO.

 

 

HELEN BERNARD HAS BEEN A NURSE FOR MORE THAN 42 YEARS.

 

 

THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PATIENTS NURSES CAN BE ASSIGNED WOULD DEPEND ON THE CARE NEEDED, SUCH AS IF THE PERSON IS IN THE I-C-U OR IN LABOR. A SIMILAR BILL IS PENDING IN THE SENATE.

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