Local News

Chicago Lawmakers Propose Repeal of 2016 Energy Bill That Would Impact Clinton Nuclear Power Plant

Earlier this week, a pair of Chicago area lawmakers filed legislation that would repeal aspects of the state's comprehensive energy bill from 2016 that allowed the Clinton Exelon Nuclear Power Plant a life-source of ten years.

 

The bill sponsored by Republican State Representative Mark Batinick of Plainfield and co-sponsored by Democrat Kelly Cassidy of Chicago says the FBI investigation into ComEd is concerning and the subsidies provided them should be reviewed but Republican Representative Dan Caulkins says if that is the case, why not repeal the whole bill and start over.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins calls the bill short-sited and says repealing this bill would impact his district, in particular. He wonders if this is political cover with the new green deal advocates.

 

 

Exelon has been under fire from federal officials recently. The companies are facing federal grand jury subpoenas over lobbying activities and now the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating those activities, and the company announced they are cooperating. 

 

Additionally, the Exelon Utilities CEO Anne Pramaggiore retired in mid-October. Reports indicate Pramaggiore has been connected to the ongoing investigation. 

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DeWitt County Board Extends Road Agreement With Tradewind Energy

The DeWitt County Board and Tradewind Energy's road use agreement was extended last month by the DeWitt County Board.

 

Should the wind farm receive approval by the DeWitt County Board next year, a road use agreement needs to be in place. Tom Swierczewski, Project Development Director of Tradewind Energy indicates the existing agreement was set to expire before the current application will make its way through all the governing bodies.

 

 

The extended agreement is for two years....

 

 

The Tradewind Alta Farms II application will be taken up by the Zoning Board of Appeals after the first of the year and is anticipated to be taken up by the DeWitt County Board as soon as February. 

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Clinton Police Chief Sounds Off on Bullying, Social Media Outrage

A local authority figure is tired of outrageous claims on social media and is sounding off on speculation and uninformed claims that stem from social media.

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says social media can be a damaging place and speculation and accusations made there are not fair to anyone. Bullying has become a buzzword in local forums and he points out the DARE program, which he leads, is a great introduction to how to handle bullying.

 

 

He calls bullying one of the most significant topics our youth are dealing with. The Chief indicates they go beyond the DARE curriculum to address this issue. Bullying though has evolved in just the last five to ten years.

 

 

The Chief believes there is a misconception of what bullying is. He says there is a very big difference between a simple disagreement and what constitutes bullying.

 

 

The Chief believes kids are losing communication skills in face-to-face communication. He says the more impersonal these interactions become, the more tremendous cyber-bullying becomes. 

 

Lowers had plenty more to say on this subject and we'll hear more from him next week on Regional Radio News. 

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Illinois Attorney General Sues JUUL

Standing with physicians and other state officials the Illinois Attorney General filed a lawsuit Thursday against vape company JUUL. Kwame Raoul using the state’s consumer fraud act as a basis to the lawsuit says JUUL targeted and marketed to kids.

 

Reading from JUUL’s own instructions he said it’s clear that they wanted non-smokers to start using their products.

 

 

The lawsuit seeks to stop JUUL from engaging in deceptive practices and hold them accountable for youth e-cigarette use.

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Mt. Pulaski's Schools Project Looking Towards Winter

As the winter months approach, a Logan County school district is excited to see the progress of a project move inside.

 

Fred Lamkey is the Superintendent of the Mt. Pulaski school district and says their addition is working towards encasement so they can begin work on the indoor portions of their project. He says the community should be starting to see some progress.

 

 

Lamkey indicates parts of their addition could be ready by next fall.

 

 

The district could soon benefit from dollars that will come in from the state designated for capital improvements. Plus the soon to be benefits of the Hilltopper wind farm project is benefitting their financial situation through this process. 

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National Weather Service Discusses Much Anticipated Snowstorm Early Next Week

The National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates we could indeed receive snow early next week, but how much, is still not determined.

 

Thursday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicated to Regional Radio News, while social media in a lot of places is buzzing about this potential system, right now they do not have enough information to make an informed prediction on what we'll see.

 

 

Each day we get closer to the anticipated arrival of this storm will provide more information but Miller says it hasn't even developed yet.

 

 

As we get to the middle of next week and then towards the Christmas and New Year holidays, Miller says the up-and-down temperature pattern should continue. 

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DNR Spokesperson Talks Ride Along With CPO

A pair of regular WHOW morning show guests joined forces last month for a ride-along and was a big hit on social media.

 

DNR spokesperson Rachel Torbert joined DNR Conservation Police Sergeant John Williamson for a ride-along during the first shotgun firearm season and she says it was quite the experience. Torbert indicates she was able to see what it was like in a day in the life of a DNR CPO.

 

 

According to Torbert, she was able to see Sgt. Williamson toured through DeWitt, McLean and Logan Counties and she witnessed him interact with hunters and sort through common issues they encounter.

 

 

During the ride-along, Torbert took to Facebook for a Facebook live session with Sgt. Williamson and indicates the watchers threw out some good questions.

 

 

For all things, DNR, visit dnr.illinois.gov. You can also follow the Department of Natural Resources on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

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Rebuild Illinois Will Move Ahead With Diverse Workforce

The state of Illinois wants to build a diverse workforce of union labor ahead of the massive Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan. State Senator Napoleon Harris says the Illinois Works program is designed to get a more diverse group of people into middle-class livelihoods by increasing opportunities to get union apprenticeships and making sure that contractors are using diverse workforces on state projects.

 

 

An advisory council will be overseeing the efforts to diversify the workforce. Appointed members will make sure that everything is being done to open up the opportunity to be a skilled tradesman to anyone who wants it.

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Pritzker Not Picking A Democrat to Back in Primary

Democrat Governor JB Pritzker certainly has a viewpoint on the run to the White House that’s being contested by a large pack of Democrats. But he hasn’t made an endorsement nor does he want to publically say that he even has a favorite.

 

 

Pritzker says whoever wins the Democrat nomination will defeat Republican Donald Trump in his bid for reelection.

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Governor Gives $5 Million to Support New Income Structure

2020 is coming soon and it’s a big election year. Democrat Governor JB Pritzker isn’t on the ballot but one of his key campaign issues will be. Voters will have their say on a constitutional amendment on a graduated income tax. This week Pritzker gave $5 million to support the coming campaign. Pritzker says he’s putting his money where his mouth is.

 

 

Pritzker didn’t say if he’d be willing to give more to the effort called “Yes for Fairness” than $5 million.

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Bustos Supportive of House Democrats, White House Deal on USMCA

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos on board with the deal reached between U.S. House Democrats and the White House on the United States Mexico Canada Agreement.

 

 

Bustos serves on the U.S. House Ag Committee.

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DeLand-Weldon Schools Working Towards E-Learning Policy

Many school districts have made their decisions regarding an e-learning policy but a DeWitt County district is still in the exploration process.

 

Wednesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Amanda Geary, Superintendent of the DeLand-Weldon school district, indicated their upcoming Board of Education meeting will feature an update on the district's progress towards coming up with a policy for an at-home learning day.

 

 

For Geary and her staff, there is a lot to consider with this policy. From the staff that works an hourly rate that would lose workdays to students that would end up in a child care setting, how students could get in the mandated hours of work is something they are working hard on.

 

 

If things do not go well or for whatever reason, an e-learning policy is not working out, Geary says they will scrap it and resume their old policy. She feels there is no reason to continue with a policy that is not working. 

 

 

DeLand-Weldon students in seventh through twelfth grade are equipped with devices they can take home so their work would be electronic but Geary says younger students would have pencil and paperwork. She indicates another challenge she sees is how often in a given year would they need to implement an e-learning day. She says her preference would be just two or three days. 

 

The DeLand-Weldon Board of Education will meet next Wednesday night. 

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Illinois Department of Revenue Executes Search Warrant At Clinton Pantry on Grant Street

The Illinois Department of Revenue arrived at the Clinton Pantry at 110 North Grant Street in Clinton Wednesday morning assisted by the Clinton Police Department to execute a search warrant.

 

Clinton authorities tell Regional Radio News their role was to simply assist the Department of Revenue in executing the search warrant.

 

The Department of Revenue would not comment on the situation because of taxpayer confidentiality laws. 

 

The store remains closed. 

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Monticello Schools Celebrating Positive Designations

A Piatt County school district is celebrating positive news on the latest school report card.

 

Monticello High School received the highest designation available, exemplary while Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman indicates their other three school buildings received commendable designations. They were pleased with those marks, but Dr. Zimmerman indicates there are still other factors that will be computed into their overall report.

 

 

While the high marks for his district are nice, Dr. Zimmerman can understand the frustration of a school that may not score so highly because it is an assessment that comes around only once a year and they don't get the chance to improve their scores until the next year.

 

 

While Monticello schools score highly on their assessments, Dr. Zimmerman points out the rating districts receive could be impacted as the benchmarks adjust each year.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman indicates they do really well in proficiency tests and have good graduation rates, which are two of the biggest indicators for the designations. 

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OSF Promoting Holiday Stress Tool

Between shopping, travel and family get-togethers, the holiday season is a magnet for stress. OSF Healthcare wants you to know that there are resources available to help you manage your stress and one of those is available on your smartphone. Amber Wood from OSF Healthcare talks about the help available via OSF Silvercloud...

 

 

The OSF Silvercloud App features tips for stress management and resources available if the tips aren't enough for your seasonal stress. The app is available for Android or IPhone.

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Keeping The Pounds Off During The Holidays

As we get out to those holiday parties full of sweet treats, salty snacks and carb-filled dinners, a nutrition expert at the University of Illinois has some tips on how to keep from overindulging this holiday season. 

 

Caitlin Mellendorf at the University of Illinois Extension says it can be rare you get to choose the menu, but if you can find some fruits or vegetables to compliment your food, that is always recommended.

 

 

Eating smaller portions at parties or gatherings can help control food intake as well. Mellendorf explains there are some psychological things you can do like using a smaller plate, fill it up and then take a break before thinking about grabbing a second serving.

 

 

While nutrition experts like Mellendorf are always willing to take on your questions, there are several digital resources as well. Mellendorf points individuals to the USDA website for recommendations on cooking temperatures for various foods or the Extension website for recipes.

 

 

While those who are very aware of their carbs or calories count may fret over these types of gatherings, Mellendorf says these types of meals are likely just once a day, allowing you the rest of the day to get your healthy foods in. 

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Christmas Decorations Safety

THE ILLINOIS FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE IS OFFERING SOME TIPS TO STAY SAFE DURING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON.

 

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, CANDLES AND DRIED OUT TREES ALL POSE A FIRE HAZARD SAYS FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ. ADDITIONALLY…

 

 

LIGHTS SHOULD ONLY BE USED AS INTENDED, WHETHER INDOORS OR OUT.

 

 

ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION, TWO OUT OF EVERY FIVE HOME DECORATION FIRES OCCUR BECAUSE THE DECORATIONS ARE TOO CLOSE TO A HEAT SOURCE. MORE THAN A THIRD ARE STARTED BY CANDLES.

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Warner Hospital CEO Credits Board With Financial Health Status

Clinton City leaders have called Warner Hospital and Health Services in the best financial position they've ever seen and the leader of the city-owned entity is crediting his Board for that praise.

 

CEO Paul Skowron indicates nearly five years ago, the Board took on strategic planning and the work out of that plan is starting to pay dividends.

 

 

According to Skowron, the hospital's relationship with larger healthcare groups has improved and he says that is allowing them more opportunities. He adds those groups are noticing what Warner Hospital and Health Services are doing and want to be a part of it.

 

 

The expansion of services and the specialty clinic offerings have grown in Skowron's time as the leader of the hospital. He indicates that will continue to be a focus for him and their leadership.

 

 

The hospital employs 150 people with 35-percent making up residents of DeWitt County. Skowron indicates as they also attract good clinicians and doctors, they attract good employees. He notes having a successful hospital in Clinton and DeWitt County makes the community more attractive for potential developers, employers, and businesses. 

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools Say 'No Thanks' To E-Learning Opportunity

A central Illinois school district was going to try out a new concept the State of Illinois is offering its schools but ultimately, decided they would not.

 

Warrensburg-Latham Schools had a policy in place and Superintendent Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle indicates they felt like they had enough students who could make an e-learning plan work but over the summer, the State Board of Education made some changes to its policy and the district decided the change was not going to work.

 

 

According to Dr. Kendrick-Weikle, she feels their plan was very sound. The communication between her and the administration had a hard time giving the nod to the idea of an elementary student getting five hours of good instruction without an educator present.

 

 

Connectivity for students was a concern for the district as well. Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says they had a plan in place for students to make up the work in the event they dealt with connectivity issues.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says their biggest challenge was how to make sure younger students were getting good instruction during those days. She says makings sure those students get five hours of instruction is ridiculous and not at all realistic. 

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Social Equity Applications Open Today For Marijuana Business

Social equity is coming to the world of recreational marijuana. The idea is to ensure that communities that have been most strongly impacted by the criminalization of cannabis have the opportunity to be involved in the legal marijuana trade.

 

A big part of the program is a reduced fee structure on application fees and license fees. The Governor’s senior advisor on cannabis control Toi Hutchinson says as the marijuana industry has grown over the past few years she’s glad that finally the people who were hurt most by the criminal

 

 

The social equity applications open today and close in January. There is another round of applications expected later in 2020.

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Central Illinois Lawmaker Disappointed No Action Taken on Ethics Reforms

A central Illinois lawmaker is disappointed the recent fall veto session ended without any action on ethics reforms.

 

Republicans brought forward their ideas on what to pass but State Representative Dan Caulkins of Decatur says all the bills were ignored by Illinois Democrats.

 

 

According to Caulkins, the final hours of the fall veto session came with a proposal of a task force to come up with solutions on the matter. Rep. Caulkins believes Democrats are not serious about the issue.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins believes if Democrats wanted to keep Republicans from getting a win, they could have drafted their legislation, put it forward and he believes Republicans would have supported it if it mirrored the Republicans bill.

 

 

The Republican says there are known members of the Chicago City Council and a member of the Senate has been wired up for over a year. He feels Democrats missed an opportunity to show the voters they are serious about ethics reforms. 

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Landmarks Illinois Boasting State Historic Tax Credit

2019 marked the first year of the State Historic Tax Credit. Landmarks Illinois’ Frank Butterfield says it’s a great tool to renovate and find new purposes for old buildings.

 

 

Developers can learn more about the program at "landmarks.org".

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Students, Parents Meetings Set For Youth Mental Health Course at Clinton High School

Sophomore, juniors, and seniors will be required to take a youth mental health course at Clinton High School to start the second semester.

 

Principal Jerry Wayne announced at the November Board of Education meeting, the high school was chosen to participate in a pilot program that introduces youth to the various ways of dealing with mental and emotional wellness in their peers.

 

Katy Arnold with the Clinton Academy through Clinton High School is excited to get this going when students return from winter break the first part of January.

 

 

This a very rare opportunity for the district. Arnold indicates they are part of a small-percentage nationwide to participate in this pilot program, but they also were chosen to participate in a John Hopkins University study that surveys their students at various points throughout the process.

 

 

High School Counselor Rachel Tohme (toe-may) says there are parents meetings to put on the calendar to learn more about this opportunity. The first is this Tuesday night (Dec. 10) and then another Saturday morning (Dec. 14) will be the opportunity to get more information on this.

 

 

Wayne credits his staff for being on the lookout for resources and tools that can help their students. He says it is always their top priority to meet the challenges their students face, whether that be mental, physical, or emotional. 

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The Vault Leadership Asking Students, Community To Be Part of Their 'Kindness Campaign'

Fred Rogers used to say, "There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind." A DeWitt County leader of youth is asking their students and the community to join them in being kind to everyone.

 

Tammy Wilson is the Executive Director of The Vault in Clinton and says herself and The Vault Founder, Michelle Witzke are asking their students to take the Kindness Challenge. She explains on social media, they are offering a daily kindness challenge and hopes to get the community behind this effort.

 

 

The community is invited to take part in this as well by following The Vault on Facebook. Wilson says doing something nice for another person takes as little time and effort as you can think and makes you feel good.

 

 

Wilson hopes the kindness displayed will lead to a change in the community.

 

 

The Kindness Challenge's daily challenges can be found on The Vault's Facebook page. You can also learn more about The Vault at thevaultclinton.org or by following them on Instagram.

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Clinton YMCA To Raise Membership

Membership fees at the Clinton YMCA will be going up at the first of the year but the DeWitt County non-profit says it is not because of the many improvements and renovations they have planned.

 

Executive Director Rennie Cluver says the new minimum wage increase is impacting the projected costs they have going forward. He indicates they will have to adjust wages for close to 60 staff.

 

 

The minimum wage increase gradually goes into effect over a roughly four year period but Cluver indicates they have to look at new ways to generate revenue.

 

 

The YMCA has recently installed new equipment in its wellness center and will be starting a remodel of its main entryway at the first of the year. Cluver indicates those improvements are about attracting new members and giving their current members more reason to be at their facility. 

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Mt. Pulaski Passing on E-Learning Days Right Now

First-year Superintendent in Mt. Pulaski, Fred Lamkey is relying on his staff to help him make a big decision.

 

Schools across the state are deciding how to proceed with the prospect of having students learn at home when the weather keeps kids from being in class. Communities districts are varied in how they are proceeding with this opportunity but for now, Lamkey says his staff has indicated to him they are not for e-learning.

 

 

Mt. Pulaski students have an iPad they take to and from school each day. And while that would open up the opportunity, Lamkey indicates the preparation for an e-learning day would be too much. He says right now anything students would work on during an e-learning day would be busywork.

 

 

While Mt. Pulaski is not going to take advantage of the opportunity, Lamkey says this is a valuable opportunity for other districts. He won't completely dismiss perhaps it becoming an option for them in the future.

 

 

Heyworth and Maroa-Forsyth schools are among those that have elected to give e-learning a try this year while Clinton, Monticello, and Warrensburg-Latham are among those locally that are declining on the opportunity. 

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Clinton Presbyterian Church Hosting Milikin University Trombone Ensemble Sunday

The Millikin University Trombone Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Gary Shaw, will join the Clinton Presbyterian Church at worship services on Sunday, December 8, 2019, at 10:30 AM.  
Special musical selections will include traditional and Advent compositions.  The ensemble will be joining the congregation during hymns with the historic Hook-Hastings pipe organ.  

 

Clinton Presbyterian Church is located at 402 N. Center St. in Clinton.  

 

For more information, please contact the church at 217-935-6178.

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DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition Reminding Public of Helpline During Holidays

The DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition is reminding the public of resources they can turn to during the holidays.

 

Pastor Jeff DeLaughter, DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition President, indicates while the holidays are a time of cheer for many it can also lead to feelings of depression. He says if you or your loved ones turn to substance abuse during the holidays the can contact the Illinois Helpline.

 

 

The Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances is 1-833-2FINDHELP.

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DeWitt, Logan County Retired Teachers Association Winter Meeting Wednesday

The DeWitt-Logan Retired Teachers Association will meet at 10:30 a.m. on December 11 at Cracker Barrel Restaurant, Lincoln, IL.  

 

The Association will be voting on changes to the local Association by-laws as well as prepare to welcome the new presidents as 2020 begins.  

 

Please come and share fellowship, opinions, and appreciation for our new officers. No reservations are needed.

 

Remember, IRTA is open to all active and retired educators and their spouses.  

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Not Too Late to Get Flu Shot

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH SAYS IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO GET YOUR FLU SHOT.

 

FLU CASES ARE PICKING UP IN ILLINOIS…BUT HAVEN’T PEAKED YET SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI EZIKE. SHE SAYS THERE’S STILL TIME TO BE VACCINATED.

 

 

FLU ACTIVITY IS INCREASING…SO IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET YOUR FLU SHOT SOONER RATHER THAN LATER.

 

 

IT TAKES A FEW WEEKS FOR THE VACCINE TO BE FULLY EFFECTIVE. NGOZI SAYS IT’S ALSO IMPORTANT TO STAY HOME IF YOU DO GET SICK AND TO COVER YOUR COUGHS AND SNEEZES.

 

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO TO AVOID SPREADING THE FLU INCLUDE WASHING YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY, COVERING YOUR COUGH AND SNEEZES AND STAYING HOME WHEN YOU’RE SICK.

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IHSA Member Schools Voting on Football Scheduling Issue

IHSA member schools this month voting on a proposal to stop district scheduling for high school football. The system is set to go into place in 2021, but Fieldcrest and El-Paso High School principals Bill Lapp and Brian Quam want to put a stop to it.

 

 

IHSA member schools are voting on the by-law amendment through December 16th.

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IDOT Looking For Feedback from Survey

Illinois residents have the chance to give their feedback regarding the state’s transportation system.

 

The Illinois Department of Transportation has put out its annual Illinois Traveler Opinion Survey. Conducted since 2001, IDOT spokesperson Guy Tridgell says the survey asks several questions on a wide range of topics.

 

 

Tridgell says even if you don't drive, the transportation system affects everyone in the state.

 

 

The survey is open until December 31st and takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The survey can be located at idot.illinois.gov.

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USDA Awards Almost $13-Million To South Central Illinois Internet Provider for Rural Broadband Expansion

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded nearly $13 million to a south central Illinois internet provider to expand broadband internet services to rural areas of Jefferson and Wayne County. The grant/loan combination award to Wabash Communications Co-Op out of Louisville will be used to install almost 300 miles of fiber internet lines in northeastern Jefferson and western Wayne Counties.

 

Making the official announcement was Bill Northey, the Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation for the USDA. He says the installation of broadband internet will help these rural areas lead into the future of agriculture and give residents a better quality of life.

 

 

Doug Wilson is the USDA's State Director for Rural Development in Illinois. He says the key to bringing high-speed internet to more rural areas of the state and of the country is to maximize investment dollars through local, state, federal, and private partnerships.

 

 

The $13 million is a part of $600 million that Congress set aside for rural broadband development. Northey says the USDA received over $1.4 billion dollars in requests for grant money in this first round of applications.

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Weekly Weather Summary

A mild week is leading to a mild weekend, but what's in store for the next few weeks? State climatologist Trent Ford has the details...

 

 

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Warner Library Hosting CBD Seminar

If you've wondered about CBD and it's benefits or uses, a program at Clinton's Warner Library is for you.

 

Executive Assistant Janet Ward says the program is this Saturday from 1 pm to 2 pm at the library. She feels this will be very interesting, especially if you've been curious about CBD.

 

 

CBD sales have been legalized in Illinois and vendors around the area are starting to offer CBD products. 

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DeWitt County RPC, ZBA Looking Over Wind Ordinances; Tradewind Questions Boards Actions

This past Monday night, the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals took up text amendment changes to the County's wind ordinances and the company hoping to establish a wind farm in DeWitt County is questioning why this is happening without direction from County leadership.

 

The ZBA took up six ordinances changes and Tom Swierczewski, project development manager for Tradewind Energy, says he and the supporters of their project were surprised at this development in recent days.

 

 

The ZBA considered six text amendments in total and Swierczewski says a setback change wasn't even taken up for a vote. He feels it shows how ridiculous of a proposal it was and is thankful it failed.

 

 

According to Swierczewski, the ZBA also considered a shadow flicker ordinance change that would ask for zero impact on neighboring landowners. He says that is a mandate that is nearly impossible to meet. 

 

 

Swierczewski calls a text amendment change regarding drainage district coordination unnecessary. He explains they already coordinate with those districts and have to get their approval before they move any dirt. He also calls discussion surrounding a detection lighting system change confusing. 

 

 

As these approved changes now move on to the County Board, Swierczewski is critical of the actions of the Regional Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals because he believes they are acting without guidance and direction from elected officials.

 

 

Chairperson of the RPC, Dave Steward defended his Board's actions on taking up the reconsidering of the text amendment changes. He explains after sitting in on many of the testimonies from the last hearings for the Tradewind Alta Farms II wind farm application at the ZBA level, he felt it was necessary to have a look at their ordinances.

 

 

Steward says the RPC revisiting any ordinances on any subject without direction from County leadership is not out of the ordinary. While it is common to get direction from the County Board or its Land Use Committee, the RPC is within its authority to look at these ordinances on their own accord.

 

 

According to Steward, the accusations of stonewalling this process is inaccurate and points out this is the exact same time schedule they've taken on other issues in the past. While he understands the urgency with which Tradewind Energy wants their application taken up, the RPC cannot make everyone happy.

 

 

The Zoning Board of Appeals made it clear to Tradewind representatives the changes proposed would not impact their application that is currently being considered but Swierczewski says it would make any efforts to bring another project to the County very problematic. 

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Illinois Historic Sights Celebrating Christmas This Weekend

If history and the Christmas season interest you then you'll want to be sure to put several events across the area on your radar for this Saturday.

 

DNR Spokesperson Rachel Torbert says the David Davis Mansion and Ewing Manor in Bloomington will be decorated for the holidays. She says it is a good opportunity to get a glimpse at an old-time Christmas setting.

 

 

The Lincoln Log Cabin will be decorated this weekend in Charleston. Torbert indicates the Lincoln Log Cabin gives you a glimpse of how Abraham Lincoln grew up.

 

 

Also this weekend at the Illinois State Museum, families are invited out for talking about adapting to the cold. Torbert says this is a great time of year to check out all the state's historic sites.

 

 

Visit dnr.illinois.gov for a calendar of these events and many more throughout the holiday season. 

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LaHood Over Impeachment Proceedings

One Republican Congressman from central Illinois thinks trying to impeach the President is grinding government to a halt. Darin LaHood says impeachment is serious business and as he looks at all the cases presented there is nothing there to support the Democrats cause.

 

 

LaHood wants Congress to tackle real issues including passing the USMCA trade deal.

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Census Important to Illinois Education

With the United States preparing for a census next year, groups in Illinois are getting ready to have every last person tallied. 

 

To help in the effort the Illinois State Board of Education is going to hold census nights at the state’s schools. It’s an effort to get the word out to all families that they need to be counted. Democrat Governor JB Pritzker told a group of educators on Wednesday a fair share of federal funding is on the line.

 

 

The state has allocated nearly $30 million to support getting the census right. Pritzker says that’s more spending per-capita than any other state in the nation.

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Governor Pushing for Equity in Marijuana Business

Recreational marijuana is coming to Illinois and the state is starting to address who gets a license to sell marijuana. A fix to the original recreational marijuana bill was passed in the fall veto session to get marijuana licenses in the hands of people from communities who have been the most impacted by the federal war on drugs.

 

Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says social equity provisions will make sure that disadvantaged communities will be included in the ownership of stores.

 

 

Pritzker says if that’s not enough the state will act again later in the year and there could be up to 500 stores selling pot in Illinois under the current law.

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Rep. Caulkins Calls For Federal Vaping Regulation

A state lawmaker says the answer to the vaping epidemic lies at the federal level.

 

Representative Dan Caulkins indicates the vaping deaths are unfortunate but have gotten the public talking about the epidemic. He believes there need to be federal regulations instead of regulations at the state level.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins says the legislation passed that put a limitation of 21 years or older to vape did not result in fewer kids vaping. Caulkins says there needs to be more public education about the health effects of vaping.

 

 

Caulkins notes he believes education about vaping would be more beneficial than issuing a ban on vaping.

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Blue Ridge Schools Will Not Participate in E-Learning Days

Another DeWitt County School district is saying no to e-learning days. 

 

The Blue Ridge school district will not have e-learning days when school is closed for inclement weather. Blue Ridge superintendent Susan Wilson indicates their teacher's union had discussed potentially having e-learning days but the majority were not for it, and Wilson agrees. 

 

 

Some states already have e-learning days and have worked to make it effective. Wilson feels it would not be the most effective policy for their student demographic.

 

 

Wilson says e-learning days might be more effective during teacher institute days rather than emergencies as it currently lies.

 

 

Wilson indicates e-learning days could potentially be revisited in the future as they become more commonplace and student internet availability increases.

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First Firearm Deer Hunt Totals Down

The first firearm deer hunt numbers were down statewide.

 

That's according to DNR Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. Wednesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Torbert says several factors could be at play.

 

 

The first firearm season wasn't without incidents in the fields. Torbert says they had incidents of hunters falling from tree stands and accidental shootings. She says that's a reminder for hunters to be safe when they go out.

 

 

Torbert breaks down the deer hunt totals for central Illinois and popular hunting areas in Illinois...

 

 

Get the latest in hunting information and regulations by visiting dnr.illinois.gov. 

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The Vault Seeking Monthly Partners

The season of giving is upon and Clinton's teen center is hoping you'll keep them in mind during this holiday season and maybe even consider being a regular donor. 

 

Tammy Wilson, The Vault executive director, indicates they are looking for monthly partners to help make their operation sustainable. While they accept one time donations of any amount they are seeking monthly donations.

 

 

To help increase revenue for the facility, The Vault is available to the public to rent out for birthday parties, graduations, showers, and meetings. Wilson notes they offer a discount for youth-related groups.

 

 

For more information contact The Vault at (217) 934-4003, find them on Facebook, or visit thevaultclinton.org.

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Gold Star Christmas Tree Lit in Chicago

A Christmas tree has been lit at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago and its’ decorated with ornaments honoring the military and Gold Star Families from Illinois.

 

The Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Linda La Chapa LaVia spoke as the tree was being unveiled and she says the legacy of those who gave their lives in defense of the county should never be ignored or forgotten.

 

 

Eleven families were at the Thompson Center to place ornaments on the tree honoring their sons and daughters.

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Miller Park Zoo Readies For Popular Wild Lights Event

A family-friendly event is how the leader of a Bloomington entity describes one of their most popular events.

 

Wild Lights is one of the few night time events where patrons can check out the Miller Park Zoo and it is also one of their most popular events. Superintendent of the Zoo, Jay Tetzloff says it is a peaceful pair of evenings and believes it is a family-friendly event.

 

 

Wild Lights will get a great crowd over their two nights and Tetzloff says while they could likely support a second weekend for the even, because of volunteers and vendors availability, he is not sure it could happen.

 

 

The Zoo Lady and Her Crew face painting will be on-site and there will be crafts and activities for the kids along with 30 to 50 volunteers who will be working the event as well.

 

The event is this Friday and Saturday night from 5 pm to 8 pm. Cost is $7 for kids 3-and-up. Kids 3-and-under are $3. 

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Monticello Schools Say No To E-Learning

Monticello schools are joining a large group of central Illinois districts to decline the opportunity to use weather days as at-home learning days.

 

The State of Illinois has given all districts the chance to use days when the weather prevents students from being in school the opportunity to have kids learn at home, mostly through the use of electronic, thus e-learning days. School leaders in central Illinois are split on the decision and Monticello schools recently declined the opportunity. Dr. Vic Zimmerman says it just wasn't for them.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman has few concerns their upper-levels could pull off an e-learning day but questions how they could make it work at their elementary levels.

 

 

The two main concerns for districts were how to make e-learning work for lower-level students and connectivity for their kids. Dr. Zimmerman says while Monticello does not face low-income student ratios like their neighbors, connectivity is certainly an issue for every district at some capacity.

 

 

According to Dr. Zimmerman, the guidelines set by Springfield aren't necessarily what he's concerned about, instead, he wants to wait and see how it goes for other districts and find out what kinds of results they have with it. 

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DeWitt County Board District A, C Incumbents To Be Challenged in March Primaries

Three challengers for districts A and C on the DeWitt County Board will highlight the March 2020 primaries.

 

All three incumbents in each district filed for re-election. Cole Ritter, Lance Reece and Camille Redman in District A will be challenged by Buck Carter, Jamie Prestegaard and Aaron Kammeyer. Reece and Redman filed as Democrats while the rest filed Republican. 

 

In District C, Jay Wickenhauser, David Newberg, and Scott Nimmo will be challenged by Megan Myers, Thomas Koshinski and Steve Oswald. Nimmo is the lone Democrat in the primary in District C. 

 

State's Attorney Dan Markwell will be challenged by local attorney Stephanie Scoles in the primary. Both filed as Republicans. 

 

Circuit Clerk Michelle VanValey and Coroner Randy Rice will run unopposed in the primary. Both filed as Republicans. 

 

The March primaries are set for March 17, 2020. 

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Clinton City Council Approves Annual Levy

The Clinton City Council approved the annual levy Monday night at their regularly scheduled first of two December meetings. 

 

Commissioner of Finance Tom Edmunds indicates this year's rate is a fifth of one percent. He points out that is not much of a change from year-over-year.

 

 

Last month, City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter told Regional Radio News thanks to the financial health of Warner Hospital and Health Services, the city will be shifting the levied dollars of the hospital. In his decades of public service, Edmunds says this is the best he's ever seen the city-owned hospital financially.

 

 

On the City's financial update, Edmunds says both their sales tax revenues are up.

 

 

The annual levy received unanimous support from the City Council. 

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Last Week For Leaf Cleanup in Clinton

This is the final week for leaf pickup services provided by the City of Clinton Public Works Department.

 

City crews have been out in full force since late October and Commissioner of Public Improvements, Ken Buchanan says this will be the last week his guys will pick up leaves on the curbside with the leaf-vac.

 

 

The yard waste facility will still be available to residents for their regular hours of 8 am to noon and 1 pm to 4 pm Saturdays and 3 pm to 5 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

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Durbin Still Wants Change to Federal Disaster Aid

A year ago a tornado destroyed a part of Taylorville and as the community rebuilds Senator Dick Durbin is still pressing for a change in the formula that sends less federal disaster aid to rural communities in states with big cities like Chicago. 

 

Durbin says when small towns are hit they can’t qualify for the need they deserve. The Democrat says after seeing one natural disaster after another he’s convinced a change is needed but it’s going to be hard to achieve.

 

 

Durbin says he’s not backing away from pressing for a change but that it’s going to be a big battle in order to alter the status quo.

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Incoming Blue Ridge Superintendent Excited to Transition to New Role

Last month, Blue Ridge Schools announced curriculum coordinator Dr. Hilary Stanifer will be succeeding Susan Wilson as district superintendent starting July 1, 2020.

 

Wilson is retiring at the end of the current fiscal year and Dr. Stanifer was selected as her predecessor. Dr. Stanifer says she has been learning the ropes of the district for the last few years and looks forward to beginning the transition of becoming Superintendent.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer's role as curriculum coordinator has allowed her to check in on every classroom in the district and get to know the staff. She feels that is an advantage in her new role.

 

 

For Dr. Stanifer, today's teachers are always asked to more with the same amount of time. She explains the changes that are happening to the world after high school is changing and she indicates education is changing.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer believes the transition of leadership is going to be the biggest challenge the district has going forward. She hopes to have a focused vision and be like-minded with the staff and administration. 

 

In the year ahead, Dr. Stanifer is working on events that get the community involved and get to know her. 

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County Board Chair Updates On Farmer City Ambulance Situation

The exploration of what to do about ambulance services in Farmer City is ongoing.

 

Arrow Ambulance's agreement with the Farmer City Fire Protection District expires in the middle of next year and county leadership and Farmer City leadership are working to figure out a solution for what is next for that service in that part of the County. DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg says right now, things are at a standstill as the two sides explore their options.

 

 

The DeWitt County Board's Public Safety Committee is looking for Farmer City officials and representatives to give them a proposal of what they are looking for. Newberg says right now they are concerned about doing what is best for everybody.

 

 

If the DeWitt County ambulance service based in Clinton were to take over the Farmer City area, that would have to go to referendum for them to join the tax district in place. Newberg indicates there's a number of complexities that come with that idea.

 

 

According to Newberg, as things move along, they intend on making sure that portion of the County gets taken care of for emergency medical services and hopes a resolution is reached very soon as he does not want this to linger. 

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Clinton Board of Education Athletic Committee Busy in November

Last month, the Clinton Board of Education Athletic Committee discussed moving up start times for various sports and approved those to start the next school year.

 

Junior high basketball, volleyball, and wrestling along with High school JV basketball, and volleyball will all start earlier. According to Board President Dan Matthews, other schools are doing this and it was something supported by the Clinton athletic department.

 

 

As it relates to community use of the athletic facilities, Superintendent Curt Nettles says they are going to be closing their buildings on Sundays. He explains they get used a great deal by the community and that increases the workload for already busy staff.

 

 

Additionally, Nettles points out the district is going to have to start thinking about making improvements to some of their facilities soon. 

 

 

It was brought up the idea of bringing an artificial surface to the football field and Nettles points out, the districts in central Illinois that have those types of facilities benefit from a county sales tax that can only be used for facilities, something DeWitt County does not have in place. 

 

 

The school Board has tried for the one-cent sales tax twice and it has failed each time though not in the four-years under the guidance of Nettles. 

 

As for the earlier start times for district sports - junior high school basketball, volleyball and wrestling will all start at 5 pm. Basketball has two levels that play on a given night while volleyball has three. Meanwhile at the high school level, JV basketball will begin at 5:30 pm and volleyball will begin at 5 pm with three levels playing most nights. 

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Heyworth Schools Improve Network

As technology becomes a bigger part of the learning environment in schools, districts need to have the infrastructure in place to handle the capacity they're using.

 

Superintendent of Heyworth Schools, Lisa Taylor indicates they have upgraded their network because they have hundreds of kids using technology at a given time. She indicates a part of the new addition the district is working on will include improvements of the infrastructure.

 

 

The shift in concern is interesting as Taylor points out if the power goes out, no one seems to bat an eye because of back-up battery power to devices and a larger extent, buildings and such. But she points out if the internet is down, that can hold up a school day. 

 

 

Heyworth schools recently decided they would be embarking on e-learning days in their district when students cannot be in school because of the weather. That makes the connectivity for students away from the school setting just as important. 

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Social Security on Working and Receiving Retirement Benefits

Social Security officials often get asked if an individual can work and still receive retirement benefits. 

 

Jack Myers with Social Security confirms that can be something someone decides to do but he cautions about making sure their earnings don't exceed a certain amount, otherwise, they may be subject to a penalty.

 

 

According to Myers, if you retire before your Social Security full retirement age, there are income guidelines you will need to know. He adds there are two possible earning limits.

 

 

If you are at or above your full retirement age in a calendar year, things get sticky. Myers breaks down what those numbers look like and how they break down....

 

 

Exceeding the limits does not preclude someone from drawing Social Security benefits but Myers explains you pay back $1 of Social for every $2 over the limit you go.

 

 

Get more information on this topic by finding the publication "How Work Affects Your Benefits" at socialsecurity.gov. You can also contact your local Social Security office or stop in and talk to one of their public affairs specialists. 

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