Local News

Increased police patrols for the New Year's holiday

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SAYS THERE WILL BE INCREASED POLICE PATROLS FOR THE NEW YEAR’S HOLIDAY. 

 

TRAFFIC DEATHS ARE DOWN THIS YEAR…AND I-DOT IS HOPING TO KEEP IT THAT WAY. SPOKESPERSON MARIA CASTANEDA SAYS THE PUBLIC CAN EXPECT TO SEE MORE COPS ON THE ROADS OVER NEW YEAR’S.

 

YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE A GREATER POLICE PRESENCE AS LAW ENFORCEMENT TARGETS SPEEDERS, DISTRACTED DRIVERS AND ESPECIALLY DRUNK DRIVERS. I-DOT SPOKESPERSON MARIA CASTANEDA ALSO HAS THESE TIPS TO HELP MOTORISTS STAY SAFE.

 

TRAFFIC DEATHS ARE DOWN THIS YEAR COMPARED TO 2018 AND I-DOT AND POLICE ARE HOPING TO KEEP IT THAT WAY.

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Trade Tax Coming for Car Sales

Right now when you trade a car in for its value on a new or used car purchase the amount you get on the trade is totally exempt from sales tax. But that’s changing in 2020. Now only the first $10,000 of your trade will be used to avoid paying sales tax. Pete Sander, President of the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association, is worried about how it will impact car sales. He adds that car sales already contribute a big portion of the state’s sale tax revenue.

 

 

Sander says his group is lobbying lawmakers to change the law and will be working with them again in the spring session.

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Jan 1 Doesn't Mean Marijuana Free For All

As legalized marijuana becomes law there are still plenty of regulations associated with the use and consumption of the drug.

 

Dan Wright, State’s Attorney in Sangamon County, says January 1 won’t be a free for all when it comes to use and transportation.

 

 

Wright says his office and other law enforcement want the public to know and understand all the right ways to obey the new law.

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Unemployment rate down in nearly all Illinois metro areas last month

THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE WAS DOWN IN NEARLY ALL ILLINOIS METRO AREAS LAST MONTH. 

 

13 OUT OF THE 14 METRO AREAS ENJOYED A DECREASE IN THE JOBLESS RATE IN NOVEMBER, COMPARED TO THE SAME TIME LAST YEAR. STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CISCO SAYS SOME AREAS SET RECORDS.

 

 

THE JOBLESS RATE DROPPED IN 13 OF THE 14 METRO AREAS IN NOVEMBER, WHEN COMPARED TO NOVEMBER OF 2018. CARBONDALE, EAST ST. LOUIS, CHICAGO, DANVILLE, AND MARION HIT RECORD LOWS. STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CISCO SAYS OVER-THE-YEAR JOB GROWTH WAS SEEN IN NINE OF THE METRO AREAS.

 

 

NINE OF THE METRO AREAS EXPERIENCED OVER THE YEAR JOB GROWTH AS WELL, INCLUDING CHICAGO AND THE SUBURBS, CHAMPAIGN-URBANA AND THE EAST ST. LOUIS AREA.

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Top 10 Stories of 2019 Countdown (6 to 10)

As we get set to turn over a new calendar year, today and tomorrow on Regional Radio News, we'll be looking back at the top 10 most talked-about stories from dewittdailynews.com.

Today we begin counting down from stories six through ten....

 

Number 10:

 

>>City of Clinton Receives Official Plans for Tractor Supply Company Location in Clinton

 

Number 9:

 

>>Two Killed in Crash on Route 54 Monday Morning

 

Number 8:

 

>>Authorities Investigating Death of 4-Month Old Clinton Girl

 

Number 7:

 

>>Clinton Schools Superintendent Addresses Loss of Elementary Student

 

Number 6:

 

>>Portable Meth Lab Found in Clinton Park

 

Check back in tomorrow with Regional Radio News for the top five stories of 2019 at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Tractor Supply, Goodwill Among Community Wins in 2019

The quick turnaround for the retail space at Clinton Plaza is among several wins for the community from 2019.

 

City Administrator Tim Followell says not only was filling the retail space with a reputable business a win, but the quick turnaround they were able to find one was a very good thing for the community as well.

 

 

Followell says many will never fully appreciate the magnitude of repurposing that retail space for two developers to come and for them to move in as swiftly as they did. He indicates there are still communities searching for retail fillers in the immediate area.

 

 

Clinton Plaza will be almost fully operational very soon as Warner Hospital and Health Services moves its business offices out to the 70 Clinton Plaza location. Hospital officials anticipate those being moved into by next week. 

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State Representative Dan Caulkins Talks Tax Increases for 2020

Minimum wage and the gas tax increases are the two most prominent reforms the public is likely aware of as we head into 2020 but a central Illinois lawmaker says there are several tax changes that will impact Illinois residents.

 

State Representative Dan Caulkins says there is a change in the taxes of a trade-in for vehicles. He explains the automotive dealers of central Illinois are trying to make consumers aware of this change.

 

 

The Representative says while this might not seem like an attack on the middle-class, he believes it is more of the same from their Democratic colleagues in Springfield.

 

 

Changes are also coming to public parking lots. Rep. Caulkins explains the state is going to be taxing individual parking spaces in public parking lots and does not foresee owners of those lots absorbing those costs.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins says Illinois Democrats are after your money in any or form they can get it.

 

The Representative also discussed the new laws that are coming in Illinois, we'll have more on that on the other side of the new year on Regional Radio News. 

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Rock Springs Nature Center Completes Bike Trail and Pond Projects

Two recent projects at Rock Springs are completed and open for the public to enjoy.

 

Rock Springs Nature Center executive director Richie Wolf, indicates the bridges on the bike path have been renovated and are now passable. He notes they may be closed soon to add finishing touches.

 

 

Another project that was completed was the tying of two smaller ponds into one larger pond. Wolf says they are letting the pond fill up naturally and is open for public use.

 

 

A large-scale project is in the works for Rock Springs Nature Center in 2020. To learn more about Rock Springs, visit maconcountyconservation.org or call (217) 423-7708. 

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Legal Marijuana Will Bring New Challenges for Police

Legal sales of marijuana are coming in a few days but the law enforcement community won’t be turning a blind eye for its use. 

 

Kenny Winslow, the Police Chief in Springfield, says his officers are preparing to deal with impaired drivers when there isn’t a clear test to establish who might be driving high.

 

 

Winslow says he thinks driving high will be a bigger problem than it is now as more people are drawn to using a now-legal drug.

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IHSA Seeking Bids for Hoops Finals Weekend

The IHSA High School basketball tournaments are back out for bid. Right now the state titles are hosted in Peoria and Bloomington Normal but that could change after this season. 

 

Craig Anderson, the Executive Director of the IHSA, says as they look to see if there could be a new site to host the finals it’s coming with a change. A year from now all four classes will be competing on the same weekend.

 

 

The bids for cities to host the games are due at the end of January and then Anderson says the IHSA begins its decision making process with evaluations and site visits.

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Durbin Reflects on Previous Impeachment Process

US Senator Dick Durbin is one of 12 remaining Senators that have been through an impeachment. Decades ago then-President Bill Clinton went through a trial in the Senate and Durbin says he hasn’t forgotten what those days were like for him the 99 others in the Senate chamber.

 

 

Durbin has chosen to say very little about the possible trial of President Donald Trump. Durbin says it’s his responsibility as a juror to stay impartial and not prejudge or comment before any proceeding.

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UPDATED: 1500-Plus Ameren Customers Lose Power Early Sunday

Shortly after 3 am Sunday morning, power was lost in portions of Clinton in DeWitt County.

 

Power was restored shortly after 5 am and around 1550 outages had been reported. 

 

Ameren indicated to impacted customers power line damage caused the outage.

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DeWitt County U of I Extension Hiring Consumer Economics Educator

DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties U of I Extension are looking to hire a consumer economics educator.

 

Caitlin Mellondorf, U of I Extension nutritionist, indicates the educator position will give programs on financial literacy and education topics such as loans, retirement plans, and reducing debt among others.

 

 

Applications for the position will close on January 8. 

 

https://jobs.illinois.edu/off-campus-positions/job-details?jobID=124528&job=extension-educator-family-and-consumer-science-consumer-economics-university-of-illinois-extension-124528

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McLean County Museum of History 2020 Book Clubs

The McLean County Museum of History and the Bloomington Public Library have announced their quarterly book club series for 2020.

 

Candace Summers, Director of Education for the McLean County Museum of History, indicates 2020 marks the ninth year for the History Reads book club in collaboration with the Bloomington Public Library. The book club is quarterly and is focused on Illinois history by local and Illinois authors.

 

 

Summers says anyone can participate in any of the book clubs and do not have to attend all of the book clubs. The book clubs are held at the Museum and participants are encouraged to view the exhibits on display.

 

 

For more information on History Reads visit mchistory.org or the History Reads Book Club Facebook event page.

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Do Not Drink and Drive This Holiday Season

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE’S OFFICE IS REMINDING THE PUBLIC TO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. 

 

THE KEY TO CELEBRATING SAFELY IS PLANNING HOW YOU WILL GET HOME AHEAD OF TIME SAYS SECRETARY WHITE’S SPOKESPERSON DAVE DRUKER.

 

 

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO MAKING A GAMEPLAN BEFORE HEADING OUT TO PARTY.

 

 

20 TO 39 PERCENT OF ROAD FATALITIES LAST CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’S INVOLVED A DRUNK DRIVER.

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Minimum Wage Workers Will Get Raise Jan. 1

MINIMUM WAGE WORKERS WILL BE GETTING A RAISE IN THE NEW YEAR. 

 

THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE WILL GO UP BY A DOLLAR JANUARY FIRST…FROM EIGHT DOLLARS 25 AN HOUR TO NINE 25 AN HOUR. WHEN HE SIGNED THE LAW BACK IN FEBRUARY…GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAID IT WAS TIME TO PAY WORKERS A LIVING WAGE.

 

 

 

IT’S TIME FOR WORKERS TO EARN A PAYCHECK THEY CAN ACTUALLY LIVE ON SAID REPRESENTATIVE WILL GUZZARDI WHEN THE GOVERNOR SIGNED THE LAW BACK IN FEBRUARY. HE CALLED IT HISTORIC LEGISLATION.

 

 

 

THIS WILL BE THE FIRST INCREASE IN A GRADUAL PHASE-IN THAT WILL BRING THE MINIMUM WAGE UP TO 15 DOLLARS AN HOUR IN 2025.

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Durbin Goes Silent on Impeachment Trial

As the US Senate waits for articles of impeachment for President Donald Trump, one US Senator from Illinois is waiting for resolution from the House and then a trial before making any public judgments.

 

Democrat Dick Durbin says it’s not right for him to have any pre determination of guilt before the possible trial begins.

 

 

 

Durbin is one of 12 Senators that were in the chamber for the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

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University of Illinois Extension Nutrition Expert Talks New Year's Resolutions

As we enter the yearly time where we analyze where we are and where we want to go with a new calendar year on the horizon, a University of Illinois Extension nutrition expert has some tips on not only aiming for practical goals but to maintain that momentum.

 

Caitlin Mellendor says to be specific, make it measurable and give yourself time limits to meet those goals. She explains often we can make goals too broad.

 

 

While it's easy to put a goal in place, Mellendorf indicates it is important we continue to ask ourselves "how?" in regards to achieving those goals. She adds to have contingencies in place if you cannot meet a specific goal on a given day.

 

 

If weight loss is part of your New Year's resolutions, Mellendorf says there can be long term traps to this goal. She explains weight loss after a certain period will plateau but once that happens, it becomes about sustained positive and healthy habits. 

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Monticello Holiday Hoopla Fundraiser for Athletic Booster Club

This week's Monticello Holiday Hoopla boys and girls basketball tournament is a fundraiser for the Athletic Booster Club.

 

Teams from Tuscola, Oakwood, Clinton, GCMS, Ridgeview, Paxton-Buckley-Loda and several others will converge on Monticello High School for a round-robin format tournament. Monticello Athletic Booster President, Angie Bundy says all the sports programs help out in some capacity throughout the three days of the tournament.

 

 

The Booster Club is very active in several projects around their facilities and programs. Bundy explains they purchased travel-wear for the boy's basketball program, they provide the statistical equipment for the various programs and they contributed to the building of press boxes at the baseball and softball facilities.

 

 

Holiday Hoopla is the biggest fundraiser for the Athletic Boosters. Bundy says they have several smaller fundraisers they host at the start of the various sports seasons.

 

She adds right now, they are awaiting any needs that may arise at the new gymnasium, otherwise, they do not have their hands in on too much right now. 

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DeWitt County Board Chair Updates on Latest With Farmer City Ambulance Service

As we enter a new calendar year, an ambulance district in Farmer City will have its agreement expire with their provider and right now things are in the exploration process of what is next for those residents.

 

Earlier this month, DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg updated us with the latest of where things stand for what is next. He explains the State's Attorney, Farmer City's attorney, and the ambulance service in Farmer City continue to explore their options.

 

 

According to Newberg, the situation seems to have two options. The first would involve an intergovernmental agreement with a referendum to bring the Farmer City district in with the PSI service that exists for the rest of the county. The other is to extend the existing levy in Farmer City to get them to the end of 2020.

 

 

Newberg reminds residents when PSI came to DeWitt County several years ago after Warner Hospital ceased providing ambulance service, their levy did not include the Farmer City area because of their existing levy and agreement with Arrow Ambulance Service.

 

 

While the Farmer City agreement with Arrow Ambulance Service expires June 30, 2020, Newberg notes the agreement with PSI for the rest of the County runs until 2026. 

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DeWitt County School Leader Weighs In On School Designations

A DeWitt County School leader isn't a fan of the school designations systems even though her district improved its statuses this year.

 

Amanda Geary is the Superintendent of DeLand-Weldon schools and indicates her student body is so small, if even just a few students struggle with the assessments, they could significantly impact the overall score of their district.

 

 

DeLand-Weldon Elementary and Middle School students were commendable this year but Geary points out their high school students did not have enough tests to receive a designation. She says they are still able to see the data from those tests and believes they still have some work to be done.

 

 

DeLand-Weldon has all their report card data available on the district website, dwschools.org. Geary encourages anyone curious about what is happening in their district on a day-to-day basis to find them on Facebook. 

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Social Security Sets 2020 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

The Social Security Administration has set the 2020 cost of living adjustment, or COLA.

 

Jack Myers indicates Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, benefits impacts nearly 69-million Americans. He explains the first payments of SSI on December 31 will reflect these adjustments. 

 

 

According to Myers, many people with Medicare Part B and Social Security may connect the adjustment to the new Medicare premium. He notes it is a logical connection but the two entities are separate.

 

 

There is no need for recipients to contact their local office about the increase as letters and notices have gone out already. Myers says the information is also available online at socialsecurity.gov.

 

 

At the 'My Social Security' tab portion of socialsecurity.gov, you can also opt-out of paper copies of the various Social Security notices. 

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Will 2020 Bring Fair Maps?

As the 2020 census looms, a by-product of counting everyone in Illinois will be redrawing legislative districts. 

 

The process, often called gerrymandering, can draw criticism when maps come out with odd boundaries, often seen as a way to craft districts that are set up to favor one party or another. Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says he wants the redistricting process to be fair.

 

 

Pritzker hasn’t said much publicly if he would push for a constitutional amendment to create a non-partisan commission to draw legislative maps.

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Tinted Light Law Goes Into Effect in 2020

A new law coming to the state of Illinois in 2020 will bar vehicle owners from having tinted lights on their vehicles. Illinois State Police Trooper Jason Wilson details the reasoning behind banning the practice of tinting headlights and tail lights...

 

 

The new law regarding tinted vehicle lights doesn’t go into effect until July 1st of 2020.

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Schools Say No To High School Football Districts

High school football playoffs won’t be changing next year. This month IHSA member schools voted to overturn a move to have high school football teams playing in districts rather than existing conferences. 

 

The move to districts was seen as a way to help schools that had a hard time fitting in size-wise in their own area conferences. Craig Anderson with the IHSA says while the second vote went overwhelming to keeping the status quo there are schools that are still in a tough spot for regular-season games.

 

 

Anderson says he feels once schools saw that districts would eliminate a number of local rivalry games that the tide turned against the sweeping change.

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Pritzker Wants More Pension Solutions

Pensions and their accompanying debt has the attention of Governor JB Pritzker. This past week he signed a bill that will allow for the consolidation of first responder pensions around the state.

 

The bill was the first tangible item from a pension taskforce Pritzker created. He acknowledges it’s a small step and won’t make those systems whole; so with more to do he’s ready for new solutions to a massive problem.

 

 

Pritzker says another small step in steadying pension debt in Illinois has been a buyout option for state retirees. In some systems it give them a lump sum of cash in place of the retiree getting a three percent raise in benefits each year for the rest of their life.

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Opt Out of Pot Sales Show Law Works for All

Coming in 2020 is legalized marijuana sales to adults over the age of 21. But the sale of marijuana won’t be available in every city in the state. Throughout the year many cities and towns have opted out of allowing sales.

 

Democrat Governor JB Pritzker, a strong supporter of the new law, says towns opting out shows the legislative process worked and nothing was forced on any community.

 

 

Police everywhere will have to allow people to legally hold small amounts of marijuana even if the town they are in doesn’t allow the sale of the drug.

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LaHood Says USMCA Good for Illinois

The USCMA trade deal that was recently approved in the House of Representatives is now facing an uncertain future in the in Senate.

 

As the Senate waits to see how they will move forward with an impeachment trial, a vote on USMCA might be delayed. Republican Rep. Darin LaHood supported the new trade pact and says the Senate should act fast because this a good deal for Illinois.

 

 

The Senate might begin the mark-up process of USMCA in the first few weeks of January or it could be pushed to the end of the month or even into February.

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IRS End of Year Readiness

Be sure you have your tax documents in order in time for 2020. Michael Divine from the Internal Revenue Service is reminding people about simple things they might overlook in making sure they have their tax documents. For example, have you moved? Make sure you tell the state and any entity that may have a tax-related document for you.

 

 

You could miss out on important tax documents if you don't organize ahead of time.

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Governor Discusses Ethics Commissions Goals

An ethics commission is coming together to determine possible new guidelines for lawmakers. Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says as the group meets he wants them to consider what good legislative practices look like.

 

 

The commission is set to bring back ideas and possible new laws or regulations for lawmakers to be voted on in the coming spring session.

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Getting Rid of That Live Christmas Tree

NOW THAT CHRISTMAS IS OVER, A HORTICULTURIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION OFFERS SOME IDEAS FOR DISPOSING OF YOUR LIVE CHRISTMAS TREE. 

 

SOME COMMUNITIES AND WASTE HAULERS HAVE RECYCLING PROGRAMS FOR CHRISTMAS TREES SAYS THE EXTENSION’S RICHARD HENTSCHEL. BUT IF NOT…

 

 

YOU CAN ALSO USE IT AS A FEEDER STATION FOR THE BIRD.

 

 

HENTSCHEL SAYS YOU CAN ALSO BURN THE TRUNK IN YOUR OUTDOOR FIREPIT OR SEE IF YOUR COMMUNITY OR WASTE HAULER HAS A CHRISTMAS TREE RECYCLING PROGRAM.

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Durbin Goes Silent on Impeachment Trial

As the US Senate waits for articles of impeachment for President Donald Trump, one US Senator from Illinois is waiting for a resolution from the House and then a trial before making any public judgments.

 

Democrat Dick Durbin says it’s not right for him to have any predetermination of guilt before the possible trial begins.

 

 

Durbin is one of 12 Senators that were in the chamber for the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

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WRAN to Again Air New Year's Party

Miller Media Group radio stations WRAN groovy 97.3 in Taylorville and WEZC “Your EASY Choice!” 95.9 FM in Clinton, will simulcast the 22nd annual All-Night New Year’s Party, from 11pm New Year’s Eve, until 2:00am New Year’s Day.

 

Miller Media Group president Randal J. Miller will emcee the show, which will feature request and dedications of easy and top 40 hits from the 60’s thru the 80’s.  The show will also feature listener contests and give-aways.

 

The show will also feature messages asking listeners to “Don’t Drink and Drive” over the New Year’s holiday.

 

Miller began doing a New Year’s Show on his stations since the late 1980’s.  

 

The phone number to call in requests or to participate in contests during the show will be toll-free 1-866-500-9726.

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WEZC to Again Air All-Night New Year's Party

Miller Media Group radio stations WRAN groovy 97.3 in Taylorville and WEZC “Your EASY Choice!” 95.9 FM in Clinton, will simulcast the 22nd annual Bud Light All-Night New Year’s Party, from 11pm New Year’s Eve, until 5:00am New Year’s Day.

 

Miller Media Group president Randal J. Miller will emcee the show, which will feature request and dedications of easy and top 40 hits from the 60’s thru the 80’s.  The show will also feature listener contests and give-aways.

 

The show will also feature messages asking listeners to “Don’t Drink and Drive” over the New Year’s holiday.

 

The show is again being sponsored by Skeff Distributing, the Budweider distributor in Central Illinois, to remind listeners to know when to say when and drink responsibly.

 

Miller began doing a New Year’s Show on his stations since the late 1980’s.  

 

The phone number to call in requests or to participate in contests during the show will be toll-free 1-866-500-9726.

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Central Illinois Schools Offered Chance at Grant Through Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Schools in five Illinois counties can apply for financial help visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, thanks to the generosity of the John Ullrich Foundation.

 

The grants are open to schools from Coles, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie, and Piatt counties. They will help pay transportation costs and admission fees for students in grades 4-12 to visit between March 23 and June 30.

 

The application deadline is January 31.

 

The students will be able to enjoy the presidential library’s permanent exhibits and theater presentations about Lincoln’s life, as well as displays of rare artifacts and an exhibition of art about Lincoln. They will also be visiting during the special exhibit “Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America,” which examines times when Americans were threatened by enemies within the United States borders.   

 

The museum also helps schools afford visits by offering free admission to student groups from June through February each year.

 

http://bit.ly/UlrichGrantApp2020.

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All Illinois Cultivation Centers Now Approved to Grow Adult Use Cannabis

ALL CULTIVATION CENTERS IN ILLINOIS HAVE NOW BEEN APPROVED TO GROW ADULT USE CANNABIS.

 

THE STATE’S 21 CULTIVATION CENTERS THAT HAD ALREADY BEEN GROWING MEDICAL MARIJUANA ARE ALL OFFICIALLY LICENSED TO GROW RECREATIONAL CANNABIS AS WELL. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE’S JEFF COX EXPLAINS THE NEXT PHASE.

 

 

THE CENTERS ARE LOCATED ALL OVER THE STATE...

 

 

SOCIAL EQUITY APPLICANTS WILL HAVE ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO APPLY AS WELL. STARTING JANUARY FIRST…ILLINOISANS 21 AND OLDER WILL BE ABLE TO LEGALLY BUY AND USE RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA.

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State Police Reminds There Will Be Higher Scott's Laws Fines

SCOTT’S LAW VIOLATORS FACE HIGHER FINES IN THE NEW YEAR. 

 

DRIVER’S WHO FAIL TO MOVE OVER WHEN THEY SEE FLASHING LIGHTS ON THE SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY WILL BE FINED 250 DOLLARS FOR A FIRST OFFENSE, AND AT LEAST 750 FOR A SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE. IF THE DRIVER CAUSES PROPERTY DAMAGE OR HURTS SOMEONE, THEIR LICENSE WILL BE SUSPENDED. ILLINOIS STATE POLICE TROOPER MINDY CARROLL SAYS THE CRACKDOWN COMES AFTER A TOUGH YEAR FOR THE AGENCY.

 

 

CARROLL SAYS THEY WROTE NEARLY 63-HUNDRED SCOTT’S LAW TICKETS THIS YEAR…BUT THERE STILL NEEDS TO BE MORE AWARENESS ABOUT THE LAW.

 

ANOTHER NEW LAW SETS UP THE “MOVE OVER TASK FORCE” TO STUDY HOW TO FURTHER PROTECT FIRST RESPONDERS.

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Are We Seeing A Shift in Seasons?

It certainly won't be a white Christmas, at least in most of Illinois, and the days following are going to feel more like late-April than late-December.

 

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has been telling us for a few months the start of this winter is going to be mild but expect it to get cold and wet fast come January and beyond. When asked if we're seeing a shift in the seasons, Meteorologist Chris Miller says this is simply a cyclical pattern we can see. But.....

 

 

According to Miller, data is showing a shift in the cold and snow to later in the winter and also the activity in regards to severe weather. He says these changes are pretty consistent in the last ten to twenty years.

 

Miller believes this is just something that comes and goes and believes we need to adjust our patterns as we go through the seasons.

 

 

Temperatures in central Illinois for Christmas Day are anticipated to be in the mid-50s and the 1982 record of 62-degrees could be approached in some places in central Illinois. Last year on Christmas Day, temperatures were 50 degrees and it was 58 degrees on Christmas Day in 2016. 2014 and 2015 in Springfield, temperatures were close to 50 degrees.

 

2017s 22-degree Christmas Day in Springfield was the coldest Christmas since it was 15-degrees in 2000. 

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Mahomet-Seymour 5th Grade Students Give Back with Packs of Joy

Fifth-grade students at Mahomet-Seymour schools are getting into the spirit of Christmas by giving back to the community.

 

Dr. Lindsey Hall, Superintendent of Mahomet-Seymour schools, indicates the fifth grade students have for the second year given back to their community through Packs of Joy. Dr. Hall says the program is student-led and they receive donations from area businesses.

 

Dr. Hall says this is the second year for Packs of Joy. The program was started in response to the death of a fifth-grade student in November 2018. The fifth-grade students decided to give back to the community in memory of Joel Roberts.

 

Dr. Hall is thankful for the many donations they received to make the program happen. She is also proud of her students for giving back to their community.

 

 

Dr. Hall notes the program is a reminder of what the holidays are all about.

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Heritage Receives Grant To Bolster Staff, Training Opportunities

The Heritage Behavioral Health Center has received from the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation to help add more staff and provide additional training opportunities to their staff.

 

Jessica Smiley is the Project Director for Community Together says this grant centers around collaborating to provide additional support for youth and families.

 

 

According to Smiley, they wanted to build overall wellness in DeWitt and Macon Counties through collaborations with numerous local agencies. She explains they wanted to get to kids sooner and get them screened and then get them connected to services they might need.

 

 

Smiley explains they wanted to focus on kids ages 0-5 and the LGBTQ community. She notes they have over 20 partners on board and the grant will cover six years for over two million dollars.

 

 

Some of the community partners in the two counties include Big Brothers Big Sisters, YMCA, St. Mary's Hospital and the CASA program. Smiley says this opportunity will change the lives of the communities' youth and families for generations to come. 

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Mahomet-Seymour 5th Grade Students Give Back with Packs of Joy

Fifth-grade students at Mahomet-Seymour schools are getting into the spirit of Christmas by giving back to the community.

 

Dr. Lindsey Hall, Superintendent of Mahomet-Seymour schools, indicates the fifth grade students have for the second year given back to their community through Packs of Joy. Hall says the program is student-led and they receive donations from area businesses.

 

 

Hall says this is the second year for Packs of Joy. The program was started in response to the death of a fifth-grade student in November 2018. The fifth-grade students decided to give back to the community in memory of Joel Roberts.

 

 

Hall indicates they are thankful for the many donations they received to make the program happen. She is also proud of her students for giving back to their community.

 

 

Hall notes the program is a reminder of what the holidays are all about.

 

 

Images courtesy of Dr. Hall on Twitter, @MS_Supt.

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Are We Seeing A Shift in Seasons?

It certainly won't be a white Christmas, at least in most of Illinois, and the days following are going to feel more like late-April than late-December.

 

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has been telling us for a few months the start of this winter is going to be mild but expect it to get cold and wet fast come January and beyond. When asked if we're seeing a shift in the seasons, Meteorologist Chris Miller says this is simply a cyclical pattern we can see. But.....

 

 

According to Miller, data is showing a shift in the cold and snow to later in the winter and also the activity in regards to severe weather. He says these changes are pretty consistent in the last ten to twenty years.

 

 

Miller believes this is just something that comes and goes and believes we need to adjust our patterns as we go through the seasons.

 

 

Temperatures in central Illinois for Christmas Day are anticipated to be in the mid-50s and the 1982 record of 62-degrees could be approached in some places in central Illinois. Last year on Christmas Day, temperatures were 50 degrees and it was 58 degrees on Christmas Day in 2016. 2014 and 2015 in Springfield, temperatures were close to 50 degrees.

 

2017s 22-degree Christmas Day in Springfield was the coldest Christmas since it was 15-degrees in 2000. 

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Clinton Board of Education Hears From Mental Health First Aid Training

The Clinton Board of Education at their recent meeting heard from the trainers of the upcoming mental health program at Clinton High School.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles indicates the Clinton Board of Education heard from Katy Arnold, Rachel Tohme, and Jessica Smiley about the mental health first aid training at the high school. Nettles felt it was important for the board to know exactly what students would be trained for.

 

 

Nettles says he feels the training is important due to the relevance of mental health in recent years. Students will learn how to discuss mental health issues with their peers and when to turn to an adult to help.

 

 

Nettles indicates in addition to students, teachers and the entire district staff will receive the training as well. Nettles says with this training, he hopes to the district can prevent further tragedies from happening.

 

 

Nettles says he hopes students and teachers will be able to use this training and help others outside of the district. 

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DeWitt County Board Approves New Fire Alarm for County Jail

A new fire alarm system will be installed at the DeWitt County Jail.

 

DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg indicates the Board approved the installation of a new fire alarm system at the DeWitt County Jail Thursday night. The current system has a maintenance contract that can only be conducted by the company that installed it. The new system will allow the County to bid out maintenance.

 

 

Also approved at the meeting was for the Highway Department's application to join Sourcewell Joint Purchase Program. Newberg says this is not a new program for the Highway Department but has to be renewed each year.

 

 

The DeWitt County Board approved the reappointment of Nelson Thorp and Dennis Streight to the DeWitt County Board of Review for a two-year term and reappointed John Workman to the Sheriff Merit Commission for a four-year term.

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Social Security Name Change Basics

Are you changing your name? If so be sure to change it on your Social Security card as well.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security indicates that if you have a name change it's important to notify Social Security. Failure to do so may result in problems with your earnings record and collecting benefits from Social Security.

 

 

Myers says discrepancies with your name on the Social Security record can potentially cause problems with renewing your Driver's License and filing your taxes.

 

 

To change your name on your Social Security card you will need to provide proof of your legal name change such as a marriage document or divorce decree. You will also need to prove your identity with a driver's license or Passport.

 

 

Myers advises the service is free so don't pay a third party company to get the name change form for you. The form is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov.

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Winter Bird Feeding Tips

A HORTICULTURIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION SAYS IF YOU’VE BEEN KEEPING YOUR BIRD FEEDER STOCKED…IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO STOP DURING THE COLD WINTER MONTHS. 

 

IF YOU ROUTINELY PUT OUT BIRD FEEDERS…THE BIRDS WILL ADD YOUR YARD TO THEIR REGULAR ROUTE SAYS THE EXTENSION’S RICHARD HENTSCHEL.

 

 

IF YOU USUALLY HAVE A FEEDER OUT, BIRDS WILL GET USED TO STOPPING BY YOUR YARD SAYS THE EXTENSION’S RICHARD HENTSCHEL. HE RECOMMENDS PROVIDING SEED INTO MID-SPRING WHEN PLANTS START TO COME UP. AND IF YOU DON’T WANT THE SQUIRRELS PARTAKING…

 

 

HENTSCHEL SAYS YOU CAN ATTRACT DIFFERENT KINDS OF BIRDS BASED ON THE FEEDERS AND SEED YOU USE AND SUGGESTS SUPPLYING WATER AS WELL.

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IDOT reminds the latest road conditions are available online

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION REMINDS THAT THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS ARE RIGHT AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. 

 

THE WEBSITE: GETTING AROUND ILLINOIS DOT COM HAS UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION ABOUT WHETHER HIGHWAYS ARE ICE OR SNOW COVERED. I-DOT SPOKESPERSON GUY TRIDGELL SAYS IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO CHECK IT BEFORE HEADING OUT.

 

 

I-DOT’S GETTING AROUND ILLINOIS DOT COM WEBSITE FEATURES UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION ABOUT WHETHER ROADS ARE ICE OR SNOW COVERED SAYS SPOKESPERSON GUY TRIDGELL.

 

 

VISIT: GETTING AROUND ILLINOIS DOT COM AND CLICK ON “WINTER ROAD CONDITIONS.”

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Chicago Casino Still Being Worked Out

Lawmakers approved gaming expansion this year but there has been little movement on the biggest prize of them all, a casino in Chicago. Hang ups include where to site it, a feasibility study focused on five locations but none were in downtown.

 

Another problem was the same study saying the tax and fee structure in the new law will make a casino in Chicago “not financially feasible.” A change in the tax structure was talked about in the fall veto session but nothing came of it. Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says negotiations are on-going.

 

 

One tax that is on the books is a 33% tax on gross casino receipts that Chicago would use to pay police and fire pensions.

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Clinton YMCA Offering YZone Extreme Over Winter Break

If you need help with childcare with school out for winter break, the Clinton YMCA will be offering YZone Extreme.

 

David Torbert, Youth Program Director, indicates the Clinton YMCA will be offering YZone Extreme on December 23, 27, 30, and January 2, 3, 17, and 20. YZone Extreme is held at the YMCA and is offered from 6:30 am-6 pm.

 

Torbert says parents can expect their kids to have a fun-filled, structured day while attending YZone Extreme. Activities include open gym and open swim.

 

 

YZone Extreme will be held on December 23, 27, 30, January 2, 3, 17, and 20 from 6:30 am-6 pm. The cost to attend is $30 per day. For more information contact the Clinton YMCA at (217) 935-8307.

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Monticello Budget 'Looking Good'

January 1 begins a new fiscal year for Monticello.

 

Callie McFarland, Monticello Director of Community Development, indicates Monticello received motor fuel tax funds for an IDOT bridge and was able to complete road maintenance projects.

 

 

McFarland says Monticello's business district tax will start January 1. She says the tax will help to cover the cost of projects in the downtown area.

 

 

McFarland notes projects they plan on completing in the upcoming year include maintenance to the bike trails along with general road maintenance.

 

 

McFarland says increased revenue from the state motor fuel tax will allow the Monticello community to be able to repair more streets.

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WHOW's Ethan Aughenbaugh named 4-H Kid of the Month

Ethan Aughenbaugh has been named as Macon County 4-H's December 4-H Kid of the Month.

 

Macon County 4-H along with local partners recognizes a 4-H member each month who embodies the qualities and characteristics that align with the principles of 4-H.

 

Ethan has been in 4-H for over 10 years and has been an active member of his 4-H club by holding several offices and working on various 4-H projects from cooking to woodworking. He has had repeated success in being chosen to represent his county at the state fair and he even received a reserve award at the state fair for his woodworking project. He has also helped with other 4-H projects such as the Adulting 101 program at The Vault in Clinton IL and he is a DeWitt County 4-H Federation member. 

 

Ethan is a senior at Clinton Community High School and is definitely someone who aspires “to make the best better” and is a great example of a phenomenal 4-H member in our community.
 

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Illinois unemployment rate falls to new historic low in November

THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FELL TO A HISTORIC LOW LAST MONTH. 

ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON SAM SALUSTRO SAYS NOVEMBER WAS ANOTHER GOOD MONTH, WITH THE JOBLESS RATE COMING IN AT THREE POINT EIGHT PERCENT.

 

 

THE JOBLESS RATE CAME IN AT 3.8 PERCENT FOR NOVEMBER DOWN FROM 3.9 PERCENT IN OCTOBER. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON SAM SALUSTRO SAYS WHILE JOBS WHERE DOWN LAST MONTH, TOTALS ARE SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER COMPARED TO THE SAME TIME LAST YEAR.

 

 

THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR NOVEMBER WAS THREE POINT FIVE PERCENT.

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Bustos react to USMCA

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos is on board with the passage of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. She spoke in support of the trade deal on the House Floor Thursday.

 

 

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

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DeWitt County Board Adopts Harassment Policy, Hires Ethics Officer

The DeWitt County Board at their meeting Thursday night adopted a countywide harassment policy and appointed an Ethics Officer.

 

David Newberg, DeWitt County Board Chair, told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Friday morning, the Board adopted a policy against discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct. The Board also hired Mike Trummel as an Ethics Officer in response to the policy.

 

 

Newberg indicates the Ethics Officer will be a paid position only in the case of an investigation. He hopes the County will never have an investigation but says it was necessary to be proactive.

 

 

Newberg says the Ethics Officer position has already been budgeted for. 

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State police receive extensive training on new recreational marijuana law

While many are concerned about what will change with the legalization of Recreational Cannabis from December 31st to January 1st, the Illinois State Police want you to remember one thing about legal weed...

 


That's Trooper Jason Wilson with the Illinois State Police. Illinois State Police Troopers have been undergoing extensive training to fully grasp the new recreational cannabis laws going into effect on January 1st. Among the takeaways from that training and something that the Illinois State Police want everyone to remember is that a DUI means Driving Under the Influence and it doesn't just apply to alcohol...

 

 

Marijuana-related fines and arrests will still be issued and made even after recreational marijuana becomes legal to use and possess on January 1st of 2020.

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Pot Sales In Chicago Won't Be Delayed

The sale of legal marijuana in Chicago won’t be delayed. A group of black aldermen are upset that currently all the owners of marijuana dispensaries in the city and state are white. The State’s Cannabis Czar Toi Hutchinson won’t dispute the fact but she and other supporters of a push for social equity in the second round dispensary licensee says the state needed phase one in order to increase the diversity of the industry.

 

 

The ordinance delaying sales was passed out of the committee by the Aldermanic black caucus but failed to reach enough support to move forward. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was against any delay in the roll-out of legal sales.

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Clinton City Crews Reminding Community Leaf Clean Up Program Has Ended

If you reside in Clinton and have piles of brush or leaves still lingering at the curbside, those will need to be taken care of or you may get ticketed.

 

City Administrator Tim Followell says the Street Department is cracking down on those piles as we head to the winter months when city crews begin to shift their focus elsewhere. If you transfer those piles to biodegradable bags, City Crews will pick that up for you in that circumstance. 

 

 

Followell reminds residents the yard waste facility is still open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays if you need to get brush picked up. He adds right now, warnings are just being issued but those could turn into warnings down the road.

 

 

The City Council Monday night approved services to get the brush at the yard waste facility disposed of and Commissioner Ken Buchanan suggested perhaps burning of that material outside of town. Followell says that have to result in either a new site for the brush or transporting it and weighing costs. He says right now it is just in the exploration phase.

 

 

Also Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting, the Council put on file bids for work on the stairs at the Clinton Fire Station. Those will be acted on just on the other side of the first of the year. 

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Clinton Board of Education to Hold Special Planning Session January 14

The Clinton Board of Education will hold a special meeting on January 14 at 6 pm.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, the special meeting will be a work session for the board to discuss areas for improvement and growth.

 

 

Nettles indicates they will have followup sessions and hope to have input from the administrative team and teachers.

 

 

Nettles says the Board looks forward to having public input, but the strategic planning is still early in the process. 

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Illinois Youth Survey to be Administered in 2020

A biennial statewide survey of students is going to be held in 2020.

 

Tony Kirkman with the Piatt County Mental Health Center, indicates the Illinois Youth Survey is conducted among 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade students every two years. The survey covers a wide range of topics from alcohol and illegal substance usage to mental health and bullying.

 

 

Kirkman says they start administering the survey in January and hope to be done between February and March. He notes the survey can be conducted either electronically or by paper and hope to have seventy percent of students participate.

 

 

Kirkman reports the results from the survey can contribute to grants at the state and federal levels. The Monticello community recently qualified for a federal grant based on the survey data.

 

 

To find out more about the Illinois Youth Survey and view data visit iys.cprd.illinois.edu.  

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Vote on USMCA Shows Dems In Weak Spot Says Congressman

With impeachment out of the way in the House of Representatives a Republican Congressman sees an upcoming vote on a trade deal as purely political. Rodney Davis says voting on a new NAFTA is a clear sign that Democrats need some good news to run on in 2020.

 

 

The vote on USMCA is expected to take place today.

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Pritzker Aims To Improve IL Early Education

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING EFFORTS TO IMPROVE EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE AND EDUCATION IN ILLINOIS. 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS HE WANTS TO MAKE ILLINOIS THE BEST STATE IN THE NATION FOR FAMILIES RAISING YOUNG CHILDREN. THAT INCLUDES MAKING SURE KIDS ENTER KINDERGARTEN WITH THE SKILLS TO PAY ATTENTION, READ AND SOLVE PROBLEMS.

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS GETTING CHILDREN OFF TO A GOOD START BEFORE KINDERGARTEN IMPROVES THEIR CHANCES OF SUCCESS IN SCHOOL. HE SAYS THE STATE IS COMMITTED TO INVESTING IN KIDS EARLY ON.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE STATE WILL BE INVESTING MORE IN CHILD CARE REIMBURSEMENT RATES FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES, AND IN TRAINING FOR CHILD CARE WORKERS. HE ALSO CREATED A SPECIAL COMMISSION THAT AIMS TO GET MORE ILLINOIS KIDS INTO QUALITY PRE-SCHOOL PROGRAMS.
 

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IL Treasurer Trying To Reunite You With Old Bonds

ILLINOIS TREASURER MICHAEL FRERICHS IS URGING CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT TO HELP REUNITE PEOPLE WITH OLD SAVINGS BONDS. 

 

THE U-S TREASURY HAS A RECORD OF ALL BOND RECIPIENTS AND WHEN THEY STOPPED EARNING INTEREST SAYS TREASURER FRERICHS.

 

 

UNDER CURRENT LAW, FRERICHS SAYS THE TREASURY IS NOT MANDATED TO TRACK DOWN BOND OWNERS. 

 

ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN DANNY DAVIS IS SPONSORING LEGISLATION REQUIRING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE THE BONDS TO INDIVIDUAL STATES, SO THEY CAN EVENTUALLY BE RETURNED.  IT’S ESTIMATED THERE ARE ABOUT A BILLION DOLLARS IN BONDS DUE ILLINOISANS.

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Pension Consolidation Bill Signed

Supporters call it a big step forward to help pension funds across Illinois. Wednesday the Governor signed legislation that will consolidate pension funds from downstate police and fire firefighters into two. The thought is that having a pair of funds instead of more than 600 will allow them to improve returns and save money on administrative fees. Pritzker says this should help alleviate pressure on local property taxes because those taxes often pay for first responder pensions.

 

 

The measure got widespread support from Republicans and Democrats and police and fire groups around the state.

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Helping Out Grandma or Grandpa Navigate Social Security Website A Good Way to Give Back

Giving back to a grandmother or grandfather can be a challenge for some around the holidays but Social Security has a suggestion that they feel might be very meaningful.

 

Since more and more business for Social Security is going electronic and many in the older generation struggle to keep up with the latest in technology, Jack Myers with Social Security suggests spending an hour or two helping that loved one in your life navigate through their website.

 

 

If helping your loved one with multiple items of business through Social Security or they need help more frequently, Myers encourages families to consider the Representative Payee program. He explains this places a family member's name on the Social Security or SSI record and allows you to conduct business on that loved one's behalf.


 

Becoming a Representative Payee is a fairly easy process. Myers explains they inquire with the person's doctor, interviews with the family member and the potential individual taking over those rights.

For more information, visit socialsecurity.gov/payee. 

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Warner Hospital Projects Making Slow Progress

As we approach the new year, several projects at Warner Hospital and Health Services should kick into high gear.

 

Starting with the hospital's billing department moving locations, CEO Paul Skowron says they are getting the new 70 Clinton Plaza prepared for staff to move in at the first of the year.

 

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health recently approved the hospital's remodel of their pharmacy. According to Skowron, bid quotes have gone out the hospital held a special meeting to approve the remodel contracts.

 

 

According to Skowron, the emergency room remodel should have drawings done in January and possibly ready to show the Board in February.

 

The hospital board does not meet in December. 

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Sangamon Valley CEO Students Reflect on Their Experiences

The Students taking part in the Sangamon Valley CEO program come from a variety of backgrounds and have all been impacted greatly by the program.

 

Several of the students came from entrepreneurial backgrounds while others previously had no interest in being an entrepreneur. Sadie Peeler from Bement gives an overview of the CEO program and why she joined.

 

 

Alexa Smith, a senior from Bement, indicates the CEO program has helped her choose a college to attend through site visits. She plans to attend Millikin University where she can further her business ventures.

 

Monticello High School senior Colin Jones, says his favorite site visit was to Top Flight Grain in Monticello. He found it interesting to learn how national politics played a role in Central Illinois agriculture.

 

Hannah Munsterman from Argenta-Oreana encourages those with the slightest interest in being a business leader to consider being a part of the CEO program. She says she has learned a lot about herself and what it means to run your own business.

 

 

To learn more about the Sangamon Valley CEO program visit them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or SnapChat, or visit sangamonvalleyceo.com.

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Clinton Police Chief Continues Campaign on Bullying, Social Media

Do you know how your kids are spending their time on electronic devices? 

 

That is the question from Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers to parents. The Chief indicates it is very important parents understand the places their kids are online and know what their kids are doing there. 

 

 

The Chief credits various community groups for their efforts to bring education to the community. He points to The Vault who brought Det. Rich Wistocki from the Chicago area to speak with parents. Additionally, he credits school district staff for their recently announced efforts to bring mental health first aid opportunities to their students.

 

 

Chief Lowers believes adults and parents set an irresponsible example when quickly reverting to social networking to air complaints and criticisms, and that in most circumstances, an attempt to remedy the grievance is better suited addressed in a respectful manner to the appropriate person, business, or entity involved and up the chain of command if necessary. 

 

 

The Chief encourages parents to monitor and know what their kids are doing on their devices. He says you have to take a stand and show some leadership.

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Woodhenge Welcomes Winter

The Winter Solstice is Saturday, and an Illinois historic site is again celebrating the event. Woodhenge at Cahokia Mounds will be where people gather at 7am Sunday to see dawn break over the reconstruction of the calendar used when Cahokia Mounds was home to thousands of Native Americans.

 

Assistant site manager Bill Iseminger (EYES-ming-gur) explains the event.

 

 

Out of respect for Native American beliefs, no rituals or ceremonies will be held at the free event, but visitors will stand in the same place where the Mississippian people once gathered to watch the sun rise one thousand years ago. You can find out more about Woodhenge or other events taking place at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site by calling 346-5160 or going to http://www.cahokiamounds.org/

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Producers Ready for Hemp Harvest

700 people filled a building in Springfield on Tuesday to hear more about hemp. The group consisting of farmers, processors, policy setters and those curious about growing a legal form of cannabis heard from industry experts how the first year of growing hemp in Illinois went.

 

Jeff Cox, the division chief of medicinal plants at the Illinois Department of Agriculture says 644 farmers were licensed to grow hemp last year and now they are waiting to hear about the hemp harvest.

 

 

State officials say that a needed boost to the state’s hemp industry will be to build a processing industry for hemp fiber and CBD oil.

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This is National Impaired Driving Prevention Awareness Month

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Awareness month and Andy Jackson with Sinnissippi Centers in northwestern Illinois is warning residents of the additional celebrations with family and friends, coworkers, and travel increases this time of year.

 

 

Many counties have more late-night patrols this time of year to crack down on impaired driving including the Illinois Department of Transportation’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

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Congressman Davis Believes Democrats Better Prepare for New Reality After Impeachment Vote

The House is set to take a vote on impeachment today and one Illinois Congressman says he’s worried what the vote will mean for the country moving forward. 

 

Republican Rodney Davis says he sees no evidence of an impeachable act from the House investigation and now the door could be pushed wide open for the next President to have to go through the exact same thing.

 

 

Davis calls the process in the House a sham.

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Ameren Illinois Reminding Residents What To Do If There's a Gas Leak

Colder weather brings out the need to heat your home. Many homes use natural gas to provide that heat in the winter months. With winter just getting started, Ameren Illinois is reminding residents of safety tips when it comes to a natural gas leak.

 

Gina Meehan-Taylor with Ameren Illinois says once you get a whiff of that rotten egg smell, get out and fast.

 

 

Ameren's emergency response line is open and ready 24 hours a day, and crews will be at the scene within an hour of the report.

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Sangamon Valley CEO Students Wrapping Up First Semester

The students taking part in the inaugural Sangamon Valley CEO Program are wrapping up their first semester.

 

The semester comes to a close this week and students from Argenta-Oreana, Bement, Cerro Gordo, and Monticello make up the first year Sangamon Valley CEO program introducing them to the local business world. Monticello senior Briggs Fultz says it has been great to hear from local business leaders and see their business through their site visits.

 

 

Argenta-Oreana senior Jillian Daley says going through the CEO program has given her a lot of confidence and she feels that comes from being around business leaders with a great deal of confidence.

 

 

Eric Kessler from Monticello High School says the program has not been much at all like he thought it would be. He says the site visits, presentations, and hands-on experiences they are getting has surpassed his expectations.

 

 

The group meets at various places approximately three days a week and Mason Walker from Cerro Gordo High School indicates the rest of the time they spent planning an event for February.

 

 

Coming out of the winter break, the students will start their own businesses. 

 

You can follow the happenings of the Sangamon Valley CEO program by finding them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or SnapChat or visit sangamonvalleyceo.com.

 

The program is 100-percent funded through community investors and is zero cost to the school districts. 

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National Weather Service Says Another Cold, Wet Winter Waiting

Earlier this week on Regional Radio News, we outlined the start to the winter is mirroring what we experienced last year.

 

National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Miller says we can anticipate another cold and wet winter as we navigate through January, February, and even March. Wet weather could linger into the spring season as well.

 

 

There are already a lot of similarities between this winter and last winter. Miller says anyone near rivers, creeks or streams should be concerned along with anyone in the ag industry.

 

 

The cold of this past January and February was record-setting. Miller says we could easily have a repeat of that again this January and February.

 

 

Miller says it is generally rare for temperatures to get at or below zero, but not uncommon. He says to be prepared for the dangerous cold and be sure to check on neighbors who could be susceptible to it. 

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Beer Money Helps Fair Grounds

The Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield is getting a boost from a beer brand that has long ago ties to the fair. Reisch Beer was brewed in Springfield starting in 1849 and finished brewing in the 1960’s. Last year the original recipe for “Gold Top” was brought back and sold at the fair for the first time in more than a half a century.

 

Now, Reisch is committing to the fair and has pledged $10,000 to rename the Food-O-Rama pavilion after Reisch beer. State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon says the ten grand commitment will help revitalize a central location on the grounds.

 

 

The money will fix the roof and add a fresh coat of paint to the metal structure. For now the commitment will rename the pavilion for one year.

 

The brewers who brought back the “Gold Top” recipe are giving all the proceeds from the sale of the beer to historic sites in Springfield.

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Frerichs Wants Feds to Turn Over Unclaimed Savings Bonds

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs wants the Federal Government to let them connect unclaimed US Savings Bonds to citizens in Illinois. He says that right now matured bonds are sitting unclaimed and that the Trump Administration is blocking legislation that would return those bonds to states to find the rightful owner.

 

 

Frerichs says there is about $1 billion in unclaimed bonds that would be coming to Illinois residents. And existing unclaimed property programs that Illinois already has would get those bonds to the rightful owners if federal laws would change.

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Completed Hilltopper Wind Farm Project Among Additional Revenue Source Mt. Pulaski Schools Anticipating

As we head into the new calendar year, a Logan County school district is anticipating some additional revenue sources being added to their bottom line.

 

The Hilltopper windfarm project is close to completion, including the second phase Whitney Hill, and Superintendent of Mt. Pulaski Schools, Fred Lamkey, says he and his administrative team are looking forward to having more revenue to work with.

 

 

How much revenue will that project bring in? Lamkey indicates it will be hard to predict and so they will await the tax bill coming out in the spring.

 

 

Mt. Pulaski is adding on to their main campus and Lamkey says some good news is starting to trickle from Springfield regarding capital funds. He indicates this is an extension of the capital project Governor JB Pritzker is taking on.

 

 

Lamkey says if around $800,000 comes in from the State to make good on the addition from 2004, there will be no earmark for those funds so the district could use that money as they see fit. Mt. Pulaski schools could put that money towards the current project or resources within the addition once it is complete.

 

While it would be nice to receive that money, Lamkey says they are not counting on anything. 

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Gov. Pritzker Sets Goal to Boost Early Childhood Outcomes

Governor JB Pritzker wants the state to become the number one place in the nation for families with young children. Pritzker sets that goal as he calls for improvement in child care programs. Pritzker is taking his first step forward on the plan by boosting child care reimbursements by five percent. His hope is that will improve access to child care for more families and increase wages for child care providers.

 

Pritzker says investment in helping young children will pay dividends for years to come.

 

 

Pritzker also created the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding. They are due to send the Administration a report on improving early childhood programs by 2021.

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DNR Touting Recreational Opportunities Following First Significant Snowfall

With much of Illinois experiencing the first significant snowfall of the season, outdoor recreational opportunities are being promoted. Colleen Callahan is the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

 

 

More information on Illinois’ 462-miles of snowmobile trails is available at “dnr.illinois.gov”.

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Farmer City Public Library Recipient of Book Grants

The Farmer City Public Library recently expanded its collection of medical books thanks to a grant.

Amy Johnson, Farmer City Public Library Director, indicates the library was awarded a grant by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine and was able to purchase 48 new books on medical topics.

 

 

Johnson says the library had been looking to expand their adult non-fiction collection and is thankful for the grant. She notes she was able to choose the books herself that they received.

 

 

Johnson indicates that the Farmer City Public Library is a member of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine and they provide patrons with books for book clubs along with other resources.

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Clinton YMCA Staffers to Be Trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid

Last week on Regional Radio News, members of the Clinton High School staff outlined a course their students will take at the start of the second semester surrounding youth mental health first aid and a local non-profit is working to partner with those staffers to train their employees.

 

The Clinton YMCA's Program Director is David Torbert and Monday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, he told Regional Radio News of his plans to partner with Katie Arnold at Clinton High School to train his youth counselors in youth mental health first aid.

 

 

Torbert indicates the training will help their staff who deal with youth through programs like Y-Zone, Y-Zone Extreme, and Camp Osage summer camp.

 

 

Torbert hopes to coordinate with Arnold and her support staff at the high school to train Y staff shortly after the first of the new year. 

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Social Media Has Forced Public Entities to Adjust

Public entities like law enforcement and the public school system have come under fire in recent weeks and a local law enforcement official recently defended his staff and the Clinton school district.

 

The Clinton Police Department's school resource officer, along with the school district and its administration have seen a tremendous shift in the things they deal with thanks to social media. Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says it has been the focus of a lot of their time and resources.

 

 

Blame from social media gets directed towards all sorts of places. Chief Lowers believes the blame is part of the grieving process because we want answers. He says we may never get the answers we're looking for.

 

 

According to Chief Lowers, the accusations and subsequent media outrage over those comments are out of hand. He wishes individuals on social media would consider their sources and do more to gather factual information.

 

 

The Chief has plenty more to say about parents monitoring the things their kids are doing online and the outrage mob that comes when posts are made that rarely rely on facts. 

 

We'll hear more from Chief Lowers throughout the week on Regional Radio News. 

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Miller Park Zoo Celebrating Record Setting Six Month Period

Until he crunched the numbers, Superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo Jay Tetzloff had a hunch they were having a good start to their fiscal year, but the ten-year leader of the Bloomington entity had no idea how good.

 

Turns out, the first six months of the fiscal year for the zoo in Bloomington was a record-setter. The Miller Park Zoo continues to break records the last several years and Tetzloff indicates this was one that he somewhat saw coming.

 

 

Improvements in the exhibits and watching the progress move forward could be one of the factors of the attendance continue to bring people out. This summer and fall, the zoo improved its parking lot and added a concession stand. Tetzloff says "excuse our progress".

 

 

According to Tetzloff, they have a few smaller projects coming up but after that, they have a $6-million tiger project they will be fundraising for. He hopes the momentum they are gaining with attendance and completed projects will carry into the fundraising phase of that project.

 

 

Will the next six months allow the zoo to top the record for attendance? Tetzloff says if they get some good weather for February when they offer free Friday admissions, that could go a long way to breaking the record, if not finishing the year with a top-five attendance figure. 

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Start of Winter Repeat of Last Year

If you were hoping for a break from the bitter cold and wetness of last winter, you won't like the latest outlook from the National Weather Service.

 

Right now, things are trending towards a repeat of last winter and Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln says December is looking like a repeat of last year. He says the cold is not far away.

 

 

While Illinois will receive snow today, it's unlikely to stick around for Christmas as Miller indicates the warm-up, cool down pattern of the last several weeks will warm things up and we get towards Christmas week.

 

 

If you are traveling this holiday season, while it is anticipated to be warmer than normal in Illinois, that doesn't mean there isn't going to be snow or sleet along your route. Miller implores travelers to keep tabs on the forecast for any areas you might be traveling. 

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Pritzker Looking to 2020

Governor JB Pritzker is looking forward to his 2020 agenda. The Democrat says the coming spring session hopefully holds action on a number of key issues for him.

 

 

Lawmakers are back in Springfield in a few weeks. Pritzker is also hopeful that legislators can enact meaningful ethics reforms.

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Winter Weather Advisory, Winter Storm Warning in Effect Across Regional Radio Listening Area

The Regional Radio listening area is under a host of advisories and warnings thru Monday night.

The counties of DeWitt, Logan, McLean, Piatt, and Champaign are under a Winter Weather Advisory until midnight Monday night.   The National Weather Service in Lincoln says that those counties are expected to receive 2 to 4 inches of snow before it ends Monday night.

Meanwhile, the counties of Macon, Sangamon, and Moultrie in the Regional Radio listening area, are under a Winter Storm Warning until midnight Monday.  In those counties and counties to the south, the Weather Service says heavy snowfall is expected thru late Monday night, with 4 to 7 inches expected and locally higher amounts possible.  Ice accumulations of a light glaze is also being predicted.

Thru-out the entire Regional Radio listening area, slippery road conditions can be expected with hazardous conditions for the morning and evening commute.  Officials ask you to slow down and use caution when traveling.  Keep an extra flash light, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.  

Stay tuned to Regional Radio for the latest closings and cancellations.  You can also find those, along with the latest Illinois highway conditions, by going to dewittdailynews-dot-com.

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Free Smoke Alarms Available to DCFS Families

A NEW STATE PROGRAM PROVIDES FREE HOME SMOKE ALARMS TO FAMILIES SERVED BY THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES. 

 

ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION…THREE OUT OF FIVE HOME FIRE DEATHS RESULT FROM FIRES WHERE THERE WAS NO WORKING SMOKE DETECTOR. THAT’S WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE FAMILIES ARE PROTECTED SAYS D-C-F-S SPOKESPERSON DEBORAH LOPEZ.

 

 

CASEWORKERS VISITING FAMILIES WILL BE ARMED WITH SMOKE DETECTORS FOR HOUSEHOLDS THAT DON’T HAVE ONE.

 

 

ILLINOIS LAW REQUIRES ALL HOMES TO HAVE A SMOKE ALARM WITHIN 15 FEET OF EVERY BEDROOM AND AT LEAST ONE ON EACH FLOOR.

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Choosing, Storing Firewood

A HORTICULTURIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION OFFICE OFFERS SOME ADVICE FOR CHOOSING AND STORING YOUR FIREWOOD THIS WINTER. 

 

WHILE PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING GOES OUTSIDE…THE SAME DOESN’T HOLD TRUE WHEN BURNING INSIDE. THE EXTENSION'S RICHARD HENTSCHEL RECOMMENDS USING DRY, SEASONED FIREWOOD, WHICH MEANS IT HAS BEEN CUT AND SPLIT. STAY AWAY FROM WOOD WITH SAP LIKE PINE…AND IF YOU STORE THE WOOD OUTSIDE:

 

 

HENTSCHEL SAYS YOU SHOULDN’T BRING THE WOOD INDOORS UNLESS YOU’RE GOING TO BURN IT WITHIN THE WEEK. THAT WAY ANY BUGS BURROWED IN DON’T HAVE TIME TO GET OUT OF DORMANCY AND CAUSE A NUISANCE IN YOUR HOME.

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Monticello Exploring Recreational Cannabis Regulations

What would it look like to allow the sale of recreational cannabis in Monticello?

 

That is a question the Monticello community leadership will have to grapple with come 2020. Director of Community Development Callie McFarland indicates it will be one of the many things the City looks at in the year ahead.

 

 

According to McFarland, there is already interest in a cultivation center or even dispensary in Monticello. However, she says Monticello has missed the boat on those opportunities.

 

 

Many areas in central Illinois have said no to cannabis sales and cultivation in their communities already. And while the sale and possession of certain amounts of pot will be legal in 2020, it is unlikely at this time there will be retail locations up and selling by January 1. 

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Governor Pritzker Urging Business Leaders to Get Inolved in Census

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS URGING BUSINESS LEADERS TO GET INVOLVED IN THE STATE’S CENSUS 2020 EFFORT.

 

THE GOVERNOR SPOKE TO A GROUP OF EMPLOYERS IN CHICAGO…STRESSING THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING AN ACCURATE COUNT. HE SAYS THE MORE PEOPLE COUNTED IN ILLINOIS…THE MORE FEDERAL MONEY ILLINOIS WILL RECEIVE.

 

 

EMPLOYERS CAN HELP SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER IS ASKING MEMBERS OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY TO TALK ABOUT THE CENSUS WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES AND OFFER TO LET STAFF COMPLETE THE FORM ON CENSUS DAY FROM THEIR WORK COMPUTERS.

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Hunters Harvested More Than 75,000 Deer During Firearm Season

HUNTERS IN ILLINOIS HARVESTED MORE THAN 75 THOUSAND DEER DURING THE FIREARM DEER SEASON. 

 

PRELIMINARY FIGURES PUT THE GRAND TOTAL AT 75 THOUSAND 349 DEER SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON RACHEL TORBERT.

 

 

THE PRELIMINARY DEER TOTAL IS DOWN FROM NEARLY 81 THOUSAND LAST YEAR.

 

 

TORBERT SAYS THE LATER DATE OF FIREARM SEASON AND LATE HARVEST MAY HAVE PLAYED A ROLE IN THE DECREASE. COUNTIES WITH THE LARGEST DEER HARVEST INCLUDE JACKSON, RANDOLPH, PIKE, FULTON, AND WILLIAMSON.

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Weekly Weather Summary

Significant snowfall is on the way Monday, but what is on the other side of this system? State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us...

 

 

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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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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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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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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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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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