Local News

Clinton Health Official Not Concerned About Coronavirus

A Clinton health official recently discussed the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus stemming from Wuhan, China and discussed his concern over the outbreak which saw its second confirmed case in Illinois earlier this week.

 

CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services Paul Skowron indicates he is not very concerned about the deadly coronavirus that has captured the attention of Americans as there are increased confirmed and suspected cases daily.

 

 

The coronavirus starts much like the flu. Skowron says the flu this year has intensified and the Warner Hospital Walk-In clinic is seeing 15-20 people a day for flu-like symptoms.

 

 

There has been a spike in Google searches for 'Corona Beer Virus' but Forbes recently pointed out the beer and virus are not at all related. The World Health Organization recently declared the coronavirus a global health emergency 

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Arcosa Voices Support for Alta Farms II Wind Project

The proposed Alta Farms II wind project, currently under zoning review in DeWitt County, has earned a key endorsement from a local wind tower manufacturer. 

 

In a letter to the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals dated January 27, an executive of Arcosa Wind Towers, Inc. cited local job benefits in urging the board to recommend the project.

 

Wesley Bourland, senior vice president and general manager of the manufacturer said in a release Friday, quote - “The Alta Farms II project will not only give DeWitt County an opportunity to participate in the ever-growing enterprise of clean energy production, it will provide immediate direct economic benefits to all of the citizens of DeWitt County. Because the developers of the Alta Farms II project have committed to sourcing local components from Arcosa Wind Towers, this project presents a unique opportunity for DeWitt County that should not be missed.”

 

The Arcosa Wind Towers manufacturing facility in Clinton has supplied wind turbine components for projects in Illinois and across the Midwest. Tradewind Energy, an Enel Green Power company, is developing Alta Farms II and has publicly committed to source at least 20 percent of the wind tower components from the Clinton facility.

 

Tom Swierczewski, senior development director with Tradewind Energy said, quote - “We’re thrilled to have the support of one of DeWitt County’s largest employers. The endorsement of Arcosa Wind Towers further emphasizes the wide economic impact Alta Farms II will bring to this community, and we’re excited to see momentum continue to build for the project.”

 

The proposed wind project faces several more days of public hearings before the Zoning Board of Appeals in advance of a vote on a nonbinding recommendation to the DeWitt County Board, which is the final decision-maker on the project’s special use permit application.

 

Alta Farms II is projected to create an array of economic benefits to DeWitt County, including over 230 new construction jobs, $13.8 million in new earnings during construction, $22.1 million in total school district net revenue over the life of the project and over $4.6 million in county property tax revenue over the life of the project. These benefits are conditional on timely approval of the project application as proposed, which would enable Alta Farms to begin operating in 2021.

 

More information about Alta Farms II is available at WindWorksforDeWitt.org.

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Clinton's Center Street Project Rearing To Go As Spring Months Approach

It's not perfect weather yet but with outdoor construction weather season coming, Clinton City officials are beginning to prepare for the planned Center Street project this summer.

 

Before dirt and ground are disrupted, the City of Clinton needs to send the project out for bid and City Administrator Tim Followell says that is the next step in the process, and that should be happening very soon.

 

 

Bids being higher or lower is hard to predict, especially now with the bid cycle coming in another month but Followell says residents need to hope for quote - "a hungry bid cycle." He says the project's completion deadline of Apple n' Pork weekend is aggressive and there are two factors that could help that along.

 

 

Followell says the bid cycles are the equivalent to the roll of a dice and quote - "you live with what you get."

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Community Action Taking Head Start Applications

Community Action is now accepting Head Start applications for the 2020-2021 school year in DeWitt, Logan and Piatt Counties.

 

Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez says as tax information gets received by families in Central Illinois, parents with kids that have kids in the birth-to-five age, they need to contact Community Action about the availability in the early childhood education program.

 

 

The first selection process is based on income and other factors like disability or incarcerated parents. Rumler-Gomez says get those tax returns filed quickly so you can have those ready when you go to apply.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez indicates if you do get accepted but there are not any openings, they do have a waiting list and encourages parents paying for childcare elsewhere to try to get their kids on that waiting list as they do have cases where spots open up. 

 

To get more information on the Head Start Application process, contact Community Action by visiting capcil.info or ask for Darrin Worth when you call 217-732-2159. 

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Joint Commission Continues Work on Ethics Reform

A SPECIAL COMMISSION ON ETHICS REFORMS CONTINUES TO GATHER IDEAS ABOUT HOW TO BEST END CORRUPTION IN GOVERNMENT. 

 

THE GROUP HEARD FROM SEVERAL PEOPLE, DETAILING WHAT’S BEING DONE IN OTHER STATES AND OFFERING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ILLINOIS. CO-CHAIRMAN, REPRESENTATIVE ELGIE SIMS OF CHICAGO SAYS CREATING STRICTER RULES WILL BE A BALANCING ACT.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE GREG HARRIS OF CHICAGO IS THE GROUP’S CO-CHAIR.

 

 

THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE LEGISLATURES TESTIFIED THAT NO STATES PROHIBIT LAWMAKERS FROM WORKING A SECOND JOB OR FROM LOBBYING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. THEY ALSO SAID RULES ABOUT HOW SOON A LEGISLATOR CAN PICK UP A LOBBYING GIG AFTER LEAVING OFFICE VARY FROM SIX TO SEVEN YEARS TO JUST THE REMAINDER OF THEIR TERM.

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Farmer City Officials Promoting Importance of Census

This March, US residents will participate in the 2020 census and Farmer City officials are promoting the importance of why people need to take it.

 

Thursday on the WHOW Morning Show, Sue McLaughlin is the Farmer City Administrator and says there's a lot on the line for not only the State of Illinois but also for Farmer City.

 

 

The census' impact on Farmer City could be felt in grant applications or marketing efforts. McLaughlin says it is important for everyone to register because it also helps them provide services for residents. 

 

 

The census forms are likely to be mailed to you but McLaughlin says to be aware, census workers could be coming door-to-door. Around the middle of March, be on the lookout for information regarding the census. 

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Chicago First Location of First Person-To-Person Coronavirus Transmission

The Chicago woman who was the first person in Illinois to have coronavirus has passed the illness on to her husband. State health officials say this is the first reported person to person transmission of the virus in the United States. The woman contracted the virus while in Wuhan China early this year and then returned home to Chicago. 

 

Allison Arwardy, Commissioner of the Public Health for the City of Chicago says the public shouldn’t begin to worry too much because the virus is passed by close person to person contact.

 

 

The man was hospitalized two days ago. Officials say that this is not a local emergency and the sick man has been helpful in letting officials know about his personal contact and travel in the area. They say he did not take public transportation since his wife returned from China.

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Warner Hospital CEO Reacts to Governor's State of the State Address

The leader of Clinton's Warner Hospital and Health Services reacted to the Governor's State of the State address from Wednesday and was pleased with the things he discussed in regard to healthcare.

 

Thursday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Paul Skowron called Governor JB Pritzker "friendly to healthcare" and believes many things the Governor accomplished last year and the things he outlined this year are going to be good for Warner Hospital and Health Services. 

 

 

Skowron applauds the Governor for capping out of pocket costs for individuals that need insulin and for expanding insurance for reproductive healthcare, like mammogram screenings. He notes a proposal last year from the Governor regarding staffing would have greatly impacted small, rural hospitals like Warner Hospital and Health Services, but Skowron notes, they were able to get the Governor to reduce that legislation to larger networks. 

 

 

According to Skowron, the Pritzker administration has also supported expanded funding for substance abuse treatment and prevention along with mental healthcare. 

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Clinton High School Students Taking Mental Health First Aid Training

Last year, Clinton High School principal Jerry Wayne announced his staff had secured a rare opportunity for their students to participate in a mental health first aid training that teaches students how to interact with their peers who are going through tough times and need someone to talk to or direction for help.

 

Wednesday on the WHOW Morning Show, Wayne told Regional Radio News, his students are in the thick of that training. He feels the lessons have been excellent for their kids and in some cases, challenging.

 

 

Wayne feels the training is giving their kids the tools to make observations about their friends and peers and be able to reach out and approach them in a caring way.

 

 

Heritage Behavioral Health Center has been the primary partner for the high school in this endeavor and Wayne gives them a lot of credit, noting they probably could not have made this program possible without their support.

 

 

Like any program mandated on students, some will be very willing participants and others not so much. Wayne says that is a trend he has seen but gives his students credit overall for their buy-in to the training.

 

 

Wayne indicates they break their students down into groups of 20-30 students and they rotate trainers to make sure they are getting a good balance with the people leading the lesson. 

The program will wrap up in the early part of February. 

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Rep. Brady Responds to Governor's State of the State

In response to the Governor’s priorities outlined in his State of the State Address to the General Assembly today, Republican State Representative Dan Brady said he was pleased to hear the Governor say he is ready to support long-overdue ethics reforms and is willing to talk about ways to reduce families’ property tax burden.

 

 

The Governor discussed property tax relief, criminal justice reforms and clean energy legislation.

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Sen. Bennett Discusses Governor's Mention of Ag in State of State Address

Agriculture and rural issues got a nod in the Governor’s state of the state address. Democrat JB Pritzker listed agriculture as a key part of the state's robust economy. He also pointed out that a key priority for him will be the rollout of broadband across rural areas. 

 

Senate Democrat Scott Bennett, the chairman of the Senate Ag Committee says it was good to hear a governor take time to recognize the state’s number one business.

 

 

Bennett says overall he like the positive tone from the Governor during his speech.

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Illinois GOP Members Ready to Work With Governor on Key Issues

After the Governor laid out his plan for 2020 at the state of the state, Republicans say that they liked some of what they heard. 

 

According to House GOP Leader Jim Durkin, JB Pritzker set a good tone of possible bi-partisanship on a number of fronts including ethics reforms.

 

 

Durkin says Republicans will stand ready to work with the Governor on true property tax reforms.

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Local Lawmakers Critical of Governor's Plans for Criminal Justice Reform, Ethics Reforms

Following Governor JB Pritzker's State of the State address Wednesday afternoon, local lawmakers weighed in on the plans for the second-year Democratic Governor.

 

Republican State Senator Chapin Rose (right) called his speech "good as speeches go" but was critical of the Governor's plans for criminal justice reform. He believes a cash bond system would only allow criminals back on the streets after committing awful crimes.

 

 

Republican State Representative Dan Caulkins called the speech eloquent and well delivered. He believes the Governor's lack of addressing fair maps but addressing ethics reforms was disheartening.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins (left) says if Democrats have their way with the energy bill in Illinois, the state will be facing challenges similar to those in California with brown-outs and very high energy rates.

 

 

As for the Senator's thoughts on the energy bill the Governor addressed, Rose feels it is going to take another effort from local communities to get lawmakers to understand the importance of these nuclear facilities to their communities and the energy market as a whole.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins will be on the WHOW Morning Show Friday at 9 am. 

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Governor Pritzker Addresses State of Illinois

Governor JB Pritzker gave his second State of the State address Wednesday afternoon before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly and highlighted his first year in office and the things he is focused on in the new year ahead. 

 

Governor Pritzker highlighted the predictable employment gains made in Illinois, the infrastructure bill passed highlighted by the gas tax and the passage of legal marijuana. Looking ahead, the Governor addressed a proposal for criminal justice reforms.

 

 

The Governor says property taxes in Illinois are too high and called on lawmakers to work together to come up with solutions.

 

 

Late last year, a proposal to rework a clean energy bill from 2016 that saved the Clinton Nuclear Power Station was proposed and it certainly caught the attention of central Illinois. The Governor called the need for a clean energy bill "urgent".

 

 

The Governor also addresed corruption in government and lawmakers acting as lobbyists in Springfield. Pritzker says Illinois continues to grow stronger each day. 

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Warner Hospital Foundation Announces Annual Scholarship

The Warner Hospital Foundation is again offering its annual scholarship this year.

 

The Foundation's Matt Riley indicates there has been a change in who the application is available to. He feels it is now available to more students, both in school and seniors in high school.

 

 

warnerhospital.org is where someone would go to learn more about the scholarship. Riley says the application process just requires submitting a resume of interest, references, and submitting any transcripts needed.

 

 

The Foundation's Gabe Goldsmith indicates the applications are due by April 3. Once those are in, the Foundation sorts through applications and those that can apply must reside within DeWitt County.

 

 

High school students interested in the scholarship can get more information in the high school guidance office. Otherwise, you can visit warnerhospital.org for more information or contact the hospital at 217-937-5202. 

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Chamber Award Winners Announced

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce held its annual Chamber Dinner Saturday evening at the Abigail in Clinton and the award winners of the small, medium and large business along with the non-profit of the year awards were announced.

 

EMC Photography received the small business of the year.

 

 

Baum Chevrolet Buick was the medium business of the year.

 

 

Exelon Clinton Nuclear Power Station was the large business of the year.

 

 

The Eagles Lodge 593 was the non-profit of the year.

 

 

Executive Director Marian Brisard was recognized with a plaque for her 20th year at the Chamber of Commerce. 

 

 

(Photos courtesy of EMC Photography)

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Republicans Set Goals Ahead of State of State

Governor JB Pritzker is delivering his State of the State address today. It’s the Democrat’s opportunity to set forth his legislative agenda. 

 

Ahead of the address, Republicans in Illinois set out their goals for this spring session. They are center around property tax reform, fair maps and passing ethics reforms for lawmakers. House GOP Republican Leader Jim Durkin says he hopes to hear today that the Governor will lead the way on one of their key issues.

 

 

The Governor will deliver the State of the State today around noon. Hear the governor's address on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, the WHOW mobile app, and at Amazon Alexa.

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Youths Becoming Increase Target of Scams

When discussing victims of scams, many point to the elderly as the most vulnerable to become victimized but local experts say they aren't the only ones in our community becoming victims.

 

Connie Unruh with DeWitt County TRIAD says youth are falling victim to a lot of these attempts and they are stemming from social media. Unruh says the networking connection can seem very real to young people.

 

 

Because youth are not very selective about who they "friend" or "follow" on social media, which can open them up to a lot of unsavory individuals. Unruh encourages parents to keep tabs on who their kids are talking to on social media and make sure their connections are legitimate.

 

 

Most scams are becoming emotional. Unruh says they want to get you panicked and get you to make quick decisions. If you think you have been the victim of a scam, you can contact the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office fraud abuse hotline at 217-935-9507. 

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Red Light Cameras Likely to be Hot Topic During Spring Legislative Session

RED LIGHT CAMERAS WILL LIKELY BE A HOT TOPIC DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. 

 

A FORMER STATE SENATOR IS BEING CHARGED WITH BRIBERY OVER THE CONTENTIOUS CAMERAS…AND GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS IT’S AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD BE DEBATED.

 

 

PRITZKER SAYS THERE NEEDS TO BE A DISCUSSION ON USE OF THE DEVICES.

 

 

RED LIGHT CAMERAS WERE INITIALLY INSTALLED TO IMPROVE SAFETY AT CERTAIN INTERSECTIONS BUT OPPONENTS SAY THEY ARE JUST BEING USED TO MAKE MONEY OFF OF DRIVERS.

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No Sign of Polar Vortex This Winter

Last year, the key weather words were “polar vortex”, but there’s no mention of that this winter.

 

 

Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford says statewide temps are 3-to-4 degrees above average for January.

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Former Springfield Mayor Killed in Plane Crash

Three people are dead after a small plane crash in Springfield on Tuesday. 

 

Among them is a former Mayor of Springfield and the County Coroner, Frank and Cinda Edwards. The two along with a third man were flying home from Florida. Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell says the plane was in contact with air traffic control at Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport before the crash.

 

 

The plane came down in a field close to a subdivision. Frank Edwards is assumed to be the pilot. Frank had been the Fire Chief for the City of Springfield along with an Alderman and at one point had run for Governor. A dog was also on board of the plane.

 

The FAA was on scene shortly after the crash and the NTSB will be conducting an investigation.

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IRS Warning of Ghost Preparers

The Internal Revenue Service wants everyone filing taxes to be wary of what the IRS refers to as 'Ghost Preparers,' tax preparers who offer to handle your tax preparation for cash payment without signing their name on your return or informing the IRS that they aided in the preparation of your tax return. Michael Devine from the IRS explains the scam and the danger you face if you choose to use a 'ghost preparer...

 

 

Bottom line, you can free file via the IRS website at IRS.gov or you can use a reputable accounting service, one that will sign your tax forms and work with you above board to assure that your taxes are filed correctly.

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Mt. Pulaski Schools Leader Waiting on Springfield's Plans for Property Taxes

School leaders in Illinois will be watching intently as lawmakers return to Springfield this week to hear from the Governor as he delivers his State of the State address Wednesday, hoping to hear about his plans for property tax relief in the state.

 

Superintendent of Mt. Pulaski Schools, Fred Lamkey indicates property tax relief has been a hot topic in Springfield for some time but lawmakers have never been able to come up with a solution. He anticipates that could change this year.

 

 

The tax structure in Illinois varies based on a community's population. According to Lamkey, there are tax-cap counties and non-tax-cap counties. Because they are non-tax-cap county, they can tax for the resources they need.

 

 

Tax-caps would impact districts on how they raise revenue in the future. Lamkey explains many Illinois districts work hard to make sure they keep their levies low, minimizing the impact on taxpayers. In the future, that could handcuff districts.

 

 

Teacher retirements could be put on school districts at some point and Lamkey points out, if districts are unable to tap into local tax dollars to help ease that burden, it will handcuff a lot of school board's in how they can manage the increasing costs. 

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Social Security Offers Tips For Filing Taxes

Filing taxes these days has been made simple in a lot of ways thanks to the evolution of technology but Social Security is offering ups some tips before you sit down in front of the computer and filling out all the information required.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security in Springfield says a quick review of your W-2 before you start filing is a good idea and even recommends pulling out the Social Security cards.

 

 

If you are collecting Social Security benefits and are not in the workforce, Myers says your earnings could be taxable. He indicates you should be looking out for your SSA 10-99s.

 

 

Visit socialsecurity.gov for information regarding all the forms you will receive from Social Security and you can also seek out your local field office from there for further questions or information. 

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Governor Signs Executive Order to Fight Disparity in Opioid Overdose Deaths

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS BOOSTING EFFORTS TO FIGHT THE OPIOID CRISIS IN ILLINOIS.

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS WHILE OVERALL, THE STATE IS SEEING THE FIRST DECREASE IN OPIOID OVERDOSE DEATHS IN FIVE YEARS, THAT DOES NOT APPLY TO MINORITY COMMUNITIES.

 

 

PRITZKER IS CREATING A SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO RESEARCH AND COORDINATE NEW APPROACHES TO ENDING THE DISPARITY. 

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THE STATE IS ALSO INCREASING FUNDING TO ADDRESSES DISPARITIES AND ENHANCE TREATMENT SERVICES BY MORE THAN FOUR MILLION DOLLARS.

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Governor Says AVR Glitch Fixed

The Automatic Voter Registration program that allowed more than 500 non citizens to register to vote has been fixed. Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says he’s taking election security very seriously but there is no reason to “pause” AVR because the original programming error has been taken care of.

 

 

Pritzker says larger investigations and legislative hearings will shed more light on why the program didn’t work as designed from the outset.

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Ex-Statee Senator Facing Federal Charges

A former Democratic State Senator is facing federal charges on bribery and tax fraud. 

 

Martin Sandoval is accused by the feds of taking money from red light camera companies while he was the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. He also stands accused of working in favor of laws to support red light cameras and working against any legislation that would harm the industry. Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says more has to be done to end corruption in government.

 

 

The federal indictment says Sandoval filed a false tax return in 2017 when he declared his income at $125,000 even though he knew it substantially exceeded that amount.

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Clinton YMCA Continues To Work Towards Branch in Monticello

It isn't groundbreaking work but things continue to plug along as the Clinton YMCA works towards establishing a branch in Monticello.

 

Executive Director Rennie Cluver indicates the progress is slow and work is becoming more intentional. He explains their exploratory board is trying to make sure the things they are doing now lead them to a decision of whether or not to officially pursuing a branch in the Piatt County community. 

 

 

Y officials plan to sit down with Monticello city and school district leadership and hopes to gain their support for a YMCA in Monticello. Cluver indicates once those pieces are in place, they hope to begin a cost study on the old Lincoln School in Monticello. 

 

 

As the vision and pursuit for a Monticello YMCA branch enters the year 2020, Cluver hopes fundraising for the branch could begin this calendar year. He explains things could come together pretty quickly in the next 12 months.

 

 

Cluver feels they will soon be able to let the public in on more details of their plans. He continues to get positive feedback from Monticello residents and feels there is still interest and anticipation. 

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Piatt County Sheriff's Office, Piatt County School Districts Partnering for Communication Program Regarding Incidents Involving Students

The WHOW Morning Show's annual Hometown Tour stopped in Piatt County Monday morning to visit with leaders in Bement and Cerro Gordo.

 

Piatt County Sheriff Dave Hunt and Bement Schools Superintendent Dr. Sheila Greenwood discussed a new program they began this month. According to Sheriff Hunt, the Handle With Care program aims to give a heads up to school leaders about traumatic events that may have taken place with Piatt County students when they are away from the school setting.

 

 

Dr. Greenwood says this was something she recently heard about at a special meeting. She feels this program is a quote - "no brainer".

 

 

Hunt and Dr. Greenwood point out they will rely on the school resource officer to likely facilitate the execution of the program through the Piatt County Sheriff's Office. 

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DeWitt County Authorities Investigating Death of 3-Month Old Boy

The death of a  three-month-old boy is under investigation in DeWitt County.

 

Authorities say the boy died Sunday morning at Warner Hospital and Health Services. No details of the death are available at this time.

 

The DeWitt County Coroner's office, Clinton Police and the Illinois State Police are investigating. 

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DeWitt County Sheriff Talks Early Days of DARE in Clinton

Clinton 5th grade students will take the DARE program and DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker began the program in Clinton back in the early 90s.

 

The Sheriff says the program initially focused on drugs and how to teach kids how to say no to drugs when confronted with them. 

 

 

According to Walker, he was able to shadow some experienced DARE officers and learn the ropes. When former Chief Mike Reidy came to Clinton, Walker was able to turn the program over to him and from there, it became Chief Reidy's program.

 

 

Current DARE officer and Police Chief Ben Lowers have touted the benefits of putting a uniformed officer in front of the kids and having those positive interactions. Sheriff Walker says even when this program started back in the 90s in Clinton, that was a big benefit of the program.

 

 

Walker is appreciative the DARE program has evolved to now address topics like bullying and social media. He says youth in today's world has a vastly different set of challenges than the kids he first mentored through the program. 

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DeWitt County Museum Leadership Focused on Memberships

The DeWitt County Museum might be closed for the season but leaders are busy at work renewing and signing up individuals for their memberships.

 

Executive Director Joey Woolridge says there are lots of good reasons to be a member of the DeWitt County Museum. First and foremost, it is the best way to support them.

 

 

According to Woolridge, you don't have to be a DeWitt County resident to be a member of the museum. She explains they have a good portion of their membership that lives out of County but still chooses to support them through their membership.

 

 

There are various levels of memberships with a variety of perks. To learn more, you can contact Woolridge at the CH Moore Homestead by calling 217-935-6066, emailing chmoore.homestead@gmail.com or you can visit chmoorehomestead.org. 

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Maroa-Forsyth Schools Introducing First Ever Hall of Fame Class At New Event

Maroa-Forsyth Schools will be inducting their first-ever Hall of Fame class this spring at a new event organizers hope will become an annual event to celebrate their district.

 

Last year, High School Athletic Director Phil Applebee announced they would be starting a Hall of Fame, something the district has been without. Superintendent Dr. John Ahlemeyer calls it a new era looks forward to introducing this new event in the spring. He hopes it will become a mainstay for their Foundation.

 

 

Dr. Ahlemeyer says the first class will date back to 1942 and these inaugural members will become voting members of the Hall of Fame in future years.

 

 

The inaugural class is highlighted by the 2006-2007 boys basketball state champion team and the 2007 football team. Dr. Ahlemeyer says that is a year most districts in Illinois rarely get to experience.

 

 

Tickets will likely be limited to the public for this first event because of the amount of family and friends the district is planning on hosting with their inaugural class. Dr. Ahlemeyer anticipates tickets going on sale to the public soon. You can find more details as they become available at mfschools.net. 

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Decatur's Rock Springs Nature Center Seeking Applications for Bus Grants

Decatur's Rock Springs Nature Center is hoping central Illinois school teachers will apply for their annual round of bus grants to allow kids to get out and enjoy nature.

 

Executive Director of the Rock Springs Nature Center, Richie Wolf says this is a great opportunity to ease the cost of field trips for youth and give them a great experience in nature.

 

 

Wolf says there is plenty of options for hands-on learning and other opportunities. He says the most common is the pond study and that is a great time for the kids.

 

 

Wolf says the best approach when inquiring about a bus grant is to have some dates you would like to go to the nature center, then contact their office at 217-423-7708.

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Department of Public Health in Early Stages of Fight Against Coronavirus

Health officials from around the nation are in Chicago following up on the second case of coronavirus in the United States. The 61-year-old woman who is currently hospitalized traveled back home to Chicago from Wuhan China after caring for her sick father. 

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health is one of the agencies working on the situation and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says that the medical fight against this virus is just starting.

 

 

She says the woman who is infected by the virus is doing well and being taken care of in a Chicago hospital.

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153,000-Plus Deer Taken This Year

ILLINOIS HUNTERS HARVESTED MORE THAN 153 THOUSAND DEER DURING THE VARIOUS DEER SEASONS.

 

STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON RACHEL TORBERT SAYS BETWEEN ARCHERY, FIREARM AND YOUTH SEASONS…HUNTERS TOOK 153 THOUSAND 48 DEER.

 

 

ILLINOIS COUNTIES THAT HARVESTED THE MOST DEER INCLUDE PIKE, FULTON, ADAMS AND RANDOLPH.

 

 

THIS TIME AROUND…DEER HUNTERS TOOK 45 PERCENT DOES AND 55 PERCENT MALES.

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US Corps of Engineers Talk Spring Flooding

“Spring flooding is “almost a certainty”. Those words from Tom Heinold, chief of operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District.

 

 

Heinold spoke this week at the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association convention in Peoria.

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Despite Trendy Diets, Dairy Products Still No. 1

As the New Year pushes on, resolutions have fallen by the way-side for some. Others have introduced new items into their diet like plant-based beverages and found success with new routines like intermittent fasting. 

 

Monica Nyman is a registered Dietician & Nutrition Educator with the St. Louis Dairy Council. She says even though the plant-based beverages have become a popular health item for people, nothing beats a good, old-fashioned glass of milk.

 

 

Find dairy tips, recipes and good health tips at stl-dairy-council-dot-org.

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Coronavirus in Chicago

The City of Chicago is now home to the second case of coronavirus. A woman with the illness has been identified after alerting her doctor that she did not feel well. 

 

The woman had recently traveled from Wuhan China to Chicago. A few days after returning to the US she alerted her doctor about not feeling well and discussed her travel history. Authorities’ say that helped her doctor and others keep this woman isolated. Because of those steps Allison Arwardy, Commissioner with the Chicago Department of Public Health says it’s very unlikely that she will make anyone else sick.

 

 

The woman, in her 60s’, is reported to been in good condition at an unnamed hospital.

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State Police Discuss Recent Phone Scam

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS WARNING THE PUBLIC ABOUT A NEW PHONE SCAM. 

 

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN REPORTING CALLS THAT SEEMINGLY COME FROM STATE POLICE DISTRICT OFFICES, WITH THE CALLER ASKING FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION. IT’S PROBABLY BOGUS SAYS SERGEANT JOEY WATSON.

 

 

THAT’S CALLED “SPOOFING” SAYS SERGEANT JOEY WATSON.

 

 

WATSON SAYS THE CALLER OFTEN HAS A FOREIGN ACCENT. HE SAYS THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT YOURSELF IS TO START ASKING QUESTIONS LIKE THE SUPPOSED TROOPER’S NAME AND TELLING THEM YOU WILL CALL THEM BACK. LEGIT DISTRICT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE WEBSITE.

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Weekly Weather Summary

A wet week highlighted this week's weather. What is in store for the weekend and the week ahead? State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us....

 

 

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Tax Filing Season Begins Monday

YOU CAN START FILING YOUR STATE AND FEDERAL TAX RETURNS NEXT WEEK. 

 

MONDAY IS THE FIRST DAY FOR TAX FILING…AND ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESPERSON SAM SALUSTRO HAS THIS ADVICE.

 

 

SALUSTRO SAYS THE QUICKEST WAY TO GET YOUR REFUND IS TO FILE ELECTRONICALLY AND REQUEST DIRECT DEPOSIT. LAST YEAR…ABOUT 88 PERCENT OF ILLINOIS TAXPAYERS OPTED TO E-FILE.

 

 

VISIT: TAX DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV AND CLICK ON “MY TAX ILLINOIS” TO BEGIN FILING YOUR RETURN. TAXES ARE DUE BY APRIL 15TH.

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DeWitt County Zoning Administrator To Retire at End of February

DeWitt County Zoning Administrator Angie Sarver will retire at the end of February.

 

Land Use Committee Chairman Terry Ferguson made the announcement at the Thursday night DeWitt County Board meeting and Friday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg thanked Sarver for her many years of service to DeWitt County.

 

 

The Land Use Committee will be charged with the hiring process to find Sarver's replacement. Newberg indicates some things in the job description could be adjusted before the job is posted.

 

 

Newberg wishes Sarver the best in her retirement. 

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No Injuries in Roadside Accident Involving DeWitt County Deputies Thursday Night

A DeWitt County deputy's squad car escaped heavy damage and no one was hurt in an incident in rural DeWitt County Thursday night that could have ended much worse than it did.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker tells Regional Radio News, one of his deputies was directing traffic on the scene of a vehicle that had gone off the road on Route 54 near Parnell Road when a driver approached the scene and lost control of the vehicle and ran into the deputy's squad car. Sheriff Walker says they are very fortunate no one was hurt.

 

 

If any citations or tickets are issued, it will be issued by the Illinois State Police. Sheriff Walker says State Police were on the scene after the incident involving their squad car and is just relieved no one was hurt.

 

 

With more potential treacherous weather on the way this weekend, the Sheriff implores everyone to be safe on the roads and use caution. 

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Lincoln Continues To Work Towards Fifth Street Renovation

City leadership in Lincoln has long been working towards an extensive renovation of Fifth Street Road.

 

Mayor Seth Goodman says the road has its rough patches in many places and for some time, they have been working to acquire parcels of land to get things taken care of. He explains that would go from Route 66 to the bridge that passes over Interstate 55. 

 

 

According to Mayor Goodman, the history of the project saw some potential growth but since the focus has since shifted to simply repairing it to a more suitable driving standard.

 

 

A lot of work still has to go into this project but the Mayor says they are focused on taking things one step at a time in the process.

 

 

Businesses along the Fifth Street Road include International Paper, The Center for Youth and Family Solutions, Heritage Packaging Corporation, Community Action, Picture This Photography and Sysco. 

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University of Illinois Extension Nutrition Expert Talks Healthy Winter Eating

Getting quality fresh food can be tough this time of the year with so much produce out of season but a University of Illinois Extension nutrition expert has a few tips to get quality, healthy food.

 

With most of the country under the blanket of cold weather, finding quality fresh produce can be difficult but Caitlin Mellendorf explains fish-based soups and chowders are starting to become a trend.

 

 

Citrus fruits are in season right now and Mellendorf says there's plenty of good ways to get those incorporated in your meals. Lemons and kale are in season right now. 

 

 

According to Mellendorf, if the fresh produce section of the grocery store doesn't have a lot of variety or nothing looks good, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables are a great alternative.

 

 

You can find more healthy ideas for winter meals by visiting the University of Illinois Extension website, extension.illinois.edu/dmp and Mellendorf posts to a blog there with ideas and recipes. 

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Elderly Still Targets of Scams

It takes a community effort to prevent our elderly neighbors from being the victim of scams.

 

DeWitt County TRIAD is still seeing the elderly being the target of scams and Tony Harris says the challenge is scams are always changing. He believes it is important for local authorities to stay up on the latest in scam trends.

 

 

According to Connie Unruh with TRIAD, the grandchild/grandparent scam is still catching people. This scam plays on the emotions of an elderly person who thinks a grandchild is in trouble. Unruh points out, it was believed this scam had run its course but it is still popping up.

 

 

The local scam alert hotline through the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office is 217-935-9507. Harris and Unruh remind residents if you are unsure about any phone call you get, do not give out personal information, hang up and call the Sheriff's hotline to give them the details and talk with them about if the call is legitimate. 

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Community Action Seeking Community Members To Participate in Community Engagement

A central Illinois non-profit is hoping its community members will step up and provide input that will be important for them in planning for the future.

 

Community Action will soon begin its community engagement process and are actively seeking community members to step up and help them direct the course for the future. Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez says this is part of their community assessment which is a portion of their strategic planning.

 

 

The focus groups are where Community Action needs folks to step up. Rumler-Gomez says it is very important for residents in DeWitt, Logan, and Piatt Counties to step and be a part of this process and share what they are feeling about the services provided by Community Action.

 

 

Upon the completion of gathering data from the engagement meetings, Community Action takes the information their strategic planning process. Rumler-Gomez says their whole staff will use that to help decide the course for the organization.

 

 

Community Action sends out invitations via the mail and email but Rumler-Gomez encourages anyone that may have something to contribute to contact them. She hopes to get good participation this year. You can contact Community Action at 217-732-2159. 

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Clinton Schools To Start District Planning

With school board members that are mostly new to their posts, the leader of Clinton Schools believes now is a good time to begin a district planning process.

 

Wednesday Morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Superintendent Curt Nettles complimented his current board for their quickness to bond and work together well. He adds they are very community-oriented individuals.

 

 

A greater focus on the vision and mission statements of the district is the goal of this district planning process. Nettles explains teaching and learning and professional development will be among the top priorities in this planning process.

 

 

The culture of the district is also a priority during this planning process. Nettles explains they have been focusing on this but the Board intends to formalize some of the things they are doing.

 

 

As the Board of Education embarks on this process, Nettles elaborated more on the professional development piece of the planning and explains this has taken a greater focus in districts across the country and there is data to suggest it is working.

 

 

Nettles believes it could be easy to create this plan but then fall back into the habits of daily routines. It will be his focus to keep the administration and staff focused on the things they want to do and continually come back to it to make any adjustments as needed.

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Soil Health Focus Of 2020 IL Conservation Cropping Seminars

Farmers from across Illinois have had the opportunity to learn more about soil health this week at the annual Conservation Cropping Seminars.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more... 

 

 

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Social Security Talks Small Business, Wage Reporting With Tax Time Here

With tax time upon us, the Social Security Administration is discussing the latest in wage reporting for small businesses.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security says small businesses that employ tens-of-millions of individuals can check out the Business Services Online at socialsecurity.gov. 

 

 

The Business Services Online tab is going to allow an employer to file wages electronically and verify an employee's name and Social Security number. Myers points out, businesses with fewer than 250 people can submit wage reports on paper still.

 

 

Small business owners can produce, print and electronically submit up to 50 W-2s through the Businesses Services Online feature and Myers points out individuals do need to register to use that services. Visit socialsecurity.gov/bso/bsowelcome.htm for more information. 

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Governor Signs Law To Give Students Time Off to Vote

A NEW STATE LAW WILL GIVE ILLINOIS STUDENTS TIME TO VOTE DURING THE SCHOOL DAY. 

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HE SUPPORTS ANY INITIATIVE THAT MAKES IT EASIER FOR ILLINOISANS TO CAST A BALLOT. HE SIGNED THE BILL IN FRONT OF THORNTON FRACTIONAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WHO CAME UP WITH THE IDEA.

 

 

THE IDEA FOR THE LEGISLATION CAME FROM THORNTON FRACTIONAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN CALUMET CITY…AND WAS SPONSORED BY SENATOR ELGIE SIMS.

 

 

THE LAW ALLOWS FOR TWO HOURS OFF OF SCHOOL TO VOTE IN ANY ELECTION INCLUDING PRIMARIES AND A GENERAL ELECTIONS.

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Governor Commits to Universal Home Visits by 2025

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER HOPES TO EXPAND THE STATE’S HOME VISITING PROGRAM TO ALL ELIGIBLE FAMILIES IN ILLINOIS BY 2025.

 

500 ADDITIONAL CHILDREN WILL BE SERVED THIS YEAR…WITH THOUSANDS VISITED OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER. HE SAYS IT’S VITAL TO REACH FAMILIES DURING THOSE EARLY YEARS.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE EARLY YEARS ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTALLY IN A CHILD’S LIFE, WHICH MAKES HOME VISITS SO IMPORTANT.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE STATE HAS RECENTLY SECURED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FEDERAL FUNDING TO IMPROVE EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS ACROSS ILLINOIS. THAT INCLUDES INCREASING THE EARLY CHILDHOOD WORKFORCE AND RAISING SALARIES TO IMPROVE RETENTION RATES.

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GOP Leadership Calls for Investigation into Automatic Voter Registration Program

Republicans say that we are at a critical time in the election process in Illinois and now the security of process is being brought into doubt now that more than 500 non-citizens have been registered to vote. 

 

Republican State Rep. Tim Butler says he and others aren’t alleging an act of fraud on behalf of the Secretary of State’s office in registering those voters but they do want to know why 570 some non-citizens were registered to vote.

 

 

Republicans say some credit needs to go to the Secretary of State because they are looking at how the registration happened. But they would like to possibly have the AVR program suspended until it can be proven that it will work correctly.

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City of Clinton, Farmer City, DeWitt County Shift to New Alert System

The entities the City of Clinton, DeWitt County, and Farmer City have all transitioned to a new community alert system.

 

Residents are likely familiar with the former 'Code Red' alert system and according to Clinton City Administrator, Tim Followell, the three entities have transitioned to a new system, Hyper-Reach for their mass notification system.

 

 

According to Followell, as the public becomes more familiar with the new system, they are falling behind in letting the public know about things happening, like a recent boil order that they had a hard time making sure people knew about.

 

 

The majority of notifications someone on this network would receive is boil orders but Wednesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Followell pointed out emergencies such as weather or power plant-related emergencies would be sent out through this system.

 

 

Visit clintonillinois.com or dewittcountyill.com to find the Hyper-Reach link and get signed up. 

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DARE Program Starting in Clinton Schools

Officers from the Clinton Police Department will be heading into 5th-grade classrooms at Clinton Elementary School for the annual DARE program.

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates the DARE program is a 12-week curriculum for 5th grade students. Chief Lowers will lead the curriculum along with School Resource Officer Mike Bennett.

 

 

Chief Lowers notes while many are aware that the DARE program discusses drug and alcohol usage, it recently was updated to include topics such as bullying and what it means to be a good citizen.

 

 

Chief Lowers feels that if students get anything out of the DARE program it's positive interaction with the local law enforcement. He says you can't put a price on that.

 

 

The DARE program in Clinton schools began in 1992 by current Sherriff Mike Walker. We'll have more on the early days of the DARE program with the Sheriff in the coming days on Regional Radio News. 

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Clinton Chamber of Commerce Announces Finalists for Annual Dinner Awards

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner is this weekend and the event is moving a different venue.

 

Executive Director Marian Brisard says the dinner will be at The Abigail and they hope it will be more of a networking atmosphere this year. She explains they will have a brief meeting and transition right to their awards.

 

 

There will be some entertainment in the building. According to Brisard, a caricature artist will be there and they will have several raffles to buy into.

 

 

Brisard recently announced the award finalists....

 

 

The awards banquet is this Saturday evening. This will be the second year for the Chamber to try to facilitate a networking atmosphere and she hopes the high reviews of the event will maintain this year. 

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Governor Pritzker Wants More Answers on AVR Program

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office wrongly registered more than 500 non citizens to vote through an automatic voter registration program. 

 

Democratic Governor JB Pritzker says more needs to be known about how the mistake was made so Illinois’ elections can be secure.

 

 

The Illinois GOP is calling for a suspension of the program.

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Illinois National Guard Members Headed Overseas

National Guardsmen and women from Illinois are deploying from southern Illinois to eventually head to the US Central Command of Area Responsibility in the Middle East. The 2nd battalion of the 103rd infantry regiment is heading to Fort Bliss in Texas before going overseas.

 

The Illinois Adjutant General Richard Neely said at a send-off ceremony that as those citizen-soldiers were preparing to leave those family members left behind need to be recognized.

 

 

Members of the National Guard deploying serve from around Marion, West Frankfort, Mt. Vernon, Effingham, and Litchfield.

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Ag Meteorologist Talks February Outlook

Are any significant snow events expected in February in Illinois? DTN chief agriculture meteorologist Bryce Anderson sizes up those chances.

 

 

Anderson is expecting the final stretch of January to end with moderate temperatures.

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Monticello To Offer Business Boot Camp in February

Starting in February, a Piatt County community is bringing back a much anticipated and highly successful entrepreneur program. 

 

The City of Monticello is again offering its 'Business Boot Camp' program starting in February. Director of Community Development Callie McFarland says if you took this program in the past, you might be interested in going through it again because they are bringing in new speakers with new topics in this latest round.

 

 

According to McFarland, things can change just as quickly in the world of business like any other sector of society and feels it is a good thing to keep up the best practices in today's world. With the updated speakers and topics in this round of classes, it's a good opportunity to get a refresher.

 

 

The five-week program covers around 15 topics. McFarland feels they bring in animated and informative speakers who are entertaining for three-hours. At the end of the four weeks of speakers and information, there is the opportunity at a $5,000 grant for the first six months of rent and utility costs for the business. McFarland says it can be a huge lift for many business owners.

 

 

According to McFarland, the businesses that have gone through the boot camp, some open and do well while others may not open at all. She feels that is not a bad thing though because some potential business owners may realize they are not ready to open. 

 

For potential business owners in Piatt County interested in this opportunity, you can visit monticellobootcamp.com and the program starts February 18. 

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ALMH Foundation Seeking Vendors for 2020 Farmers Market Season

Coming off the year's first winter storm and bitterly cold temperatures a lot of people aren't planning trips to their local farmers market but a Logan County entity is already in the planning stages for theirs.

 

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation's summer farmers market is a mainstay in the Lincoln and Logan County community on Saturday mornings and Market Coordinator Chelsea Campbell says they are taking vendor applications and explains what some of the requirements are to be a vendor.

 

 

The ALMH Farmer's Market is more than just vendors selling produce. Campbell explains they offer short classes on preparing some of the foods you find at the market, they have food vendors selling breakfast and coffee and smoothies among other things.

 

 

If local vendors are interested in being a part of this year's ALMH Farmer's Market, you can visit the thealmhmarket.org.

 

For those wanting to know more about the market, search "ALMH Market" on Facebook. 

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Bement Schools Highlighting Careers Partnership With Parkland College

A Piatt County School district is highlighting the positive things happening with their students through a careers program with Parkland College.

 

Bement High School students take part in a dual-credit program that Superintendent Dr. Sheila Greenwood calls a unique opportunity. Students learn skills for things like computer networking, criminal justice, and CNAs.

 

 

Education will soon be an option for students to take starting next year and Dr. Greenwood explains the district pays for the courses for students. She notes students are giving the program high reviews.

 

 

It is not out of the question for some Bement students to walk the graduation stage with an associate's degree already in their back pocket at the same time. Dr. Greenwood says not only is that a huge head starts for their education, but financially it is very beneficial.

 

 

Dr. Greenwood adds Paxton-Buckley-Loda, Rantoul, Champaign Schools, Fisher, St. Joseph-Ogden, Tonolo Unity, GCMS, Heritage, Tuscola, Mahomet-Seymour, Urbana, Monticello and Villa Grove are all part of this program. She believes it also helps students decide if continuing education is best for them or if they should learn a trade and enter the workforce right away. 

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Illinois 15th in Robocalls

The state of Illinois ranked 15th in the nation in the total number of complaints regarding Robo-Calls in 2019. Matt Zajechowski (Zaj-A-how-ski) with Digital Third Coast explains how the numbers were gathered...

 

 

While it isn't fool proof, the National Do Not Call Registry is still available via the Federal Trade Commission but the best advice according to Zajechowski is to simply ignore any call you get from a number you don't recognize.

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Clinton Y Renovation Underway

The much-anticipated renovation of the front entryway at the Clinton YMCA is underway.

 

The project began in early January and Executive Director of the Y, Rennie Cluver told Regional Radio on the WHOW Morning Show Monday morning, they had to get some infrastructure things situated before they started moving material and now things are starting to take shape.

 

 

According to Cluver, there are four main walls that will be coming down. As those come down, he anticipates things moving along in a timely manner.

 

 

Bringing in local contractors was a point of emphasis for the Y Board during this planning process. Cluver says it is great to have talented local business owners to be able to make this project happen.

 

 

For members coming in for programs or using the facility independently, Cluver says it is putting them out a bit but is thankful they all are understanding of the things happening and are willing to work with the Y to allow this project to plug along.

 

 

The main entryway remodel comes on the heels of the wellness center upgrading and updating its equipment from last fall.

 

Cluver hopes to show off all the changes with an open house in the spring when everything is finished. 

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Tradewind Supporters More Focused This Round of ZBA Hearings

As the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals continues to hear testimony from the public about Tradewind Energy's Alta Farms II wind farm application, Tradewind representatives are very focused on demonstrating the support they have for this project.

 

Project development manager for Tradewind, Tom Swierczewski believes their supporters were a bit surprised by the last vote and so in this round of hearings, they want to make sure the board understands how much backing they have.

 

 

As the hearings take place, Swierczewski anticipates numbers to drop off in the middle dates of the process but believes they will continue to have a lot of supporters showing up.

 

 

Swierczewski implores those against the project to wait-and-see what the impacts will be on the community. He feels the concerns and fears of those against the project will be eased.

 

 

The ZBA hearings will continue on this week at the Abigail in Clinton. 

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Mt. Pulaski Schools Set To Embark on Strategic Planning

The first-year superintendent in Mt. Pulaski is wasting no time in setting a course for the district for the next three to five years.

 

For Fred Lamkey, Superintendent of the Logan County district, they do a lot of things very well and he would like to put a plan in place to streamline those things. He points out, that process will start in February. 

 

 

Lamkey intends to have a representative from the Illinois Superintendents Association to lead their process. Lamkey feels that is better for the district rather than have him leading the process, as he is still in his first year.

 

 

According to Lamkey, with improvements coming to their facilities, highlighted by their high school addition, he believes everything is in place to be successful. He hopes to create collaboration among district leadership to expand on the good things happening.

 

 

Community leaders and community members can anticipate hearing from Lamkey if they have not already. He says February 22 is the target date for the community to put on their radar. 

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Social Security Announces Expansion of Field Office Hours

It has been a little more than two weeks and Social Security offices across the country have expanded their hours of operation.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security says offices are now open until 4 pm on Wednesdays, undoing a change from 2012.

 

 

According to Myers, with the expanded office hours, Social Security is also hiring more workers to improve their services. He says many of those jobs are not in their field offices but at processing centers around the country.

 

 

Myers points out, while the goal is to improve face-to-face interactions, Social Security continues to maintain a focus on their online services. You can visit socialsecurity.gov for all those online resources. 

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Pritzker Says University of Illinois to Expand Free Tuition for Low Income Families

MORE LOW-INCOME STUDENTS MAY BE ABLE TO GO TO THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS. 

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS HAS AGREED TO EXPAND IT FREE TUITION PROGRAM FOR LOW INCOME FAMILIES, MEANING HALF THE HOUSEHOLDS IN THE STATE WILL NOW QUALIFY. THE GOVERNOR SAYS IT’S IMPORTANT THAT MORE STUDENTS HAVE COLLEGE OPTIONS.

 

 

PRITZKER SAYS THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM HAS AGREED TO INCREASE ACCESS TO ITS FREE TUITION PROGRAM.

 

 

U OF I OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED EARLIER THIS WEEK THAT THEY ARE RAISING TUITION FOR INCOME FRESHMAN FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SIX YEARS.

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Farm Bureau President Says Farmers Need Trade

Trade has been in the news quite a bit over the past week. The US and China inked phase one of a trade deal that reportedly will increase Ag sales to China and the US Senate passed the USCMA trade agreement. Rich Guebert, President of the Illinois Farm Bureau says that farmers depend on export markets to access the overwhelming majority of the world's consumers.

 

 

A better trading relationship with the Chinese is expected to result in increased exports of soybeans, pork and chicken among other products and the USMCA should support better US exports to Canada of wheat and dairy products.

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Durbin Wants Witnesses, Testimony at Impeachment Trial

Sen. Dick Durbin says the Senate has a solemn duty to perform with the impeachment trial of Pres. Trump.

 

Even though many people expect Democrats like Durbin to vote to remove Trump from office and Republicans to vote to leave him in, Durbin says it should not be just a political maneuver.

 

He says that’s why there should be witnesses and testimony.

 

 

Durbin says it shouldn’t be a rush job either.

 

He spoke to news media about it during a visit to Ottawa Saturday.

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County Fair Heads Meet With Funding On Their Minds

The Illinois Association of County Fairs has set up shop in Springfield with their annual convention. Over the next few days they will hold a meeting and host the State County Fair Queen contest. 
Ken Tyrrell, the incoming President of the Association says that they hear from their members that the financial burden of running a fair is growing as state funding dries up.

 

 

73 county fair queens walk the stage on Sunday night and the winner will become the State County Fair Queen and reign throughout the year and be a major part of the Illinois State Fair.

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Bustos Talks Debt Relief for Student Loan Borrowers

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos casting a vote in favor of House Joint Resolution 76 this week. The measure is intended to stop the Department of Education from implementing a policy that may prevent some college students from receiving debt relief from supposed to predatory lenders...

 

 

The Joint Resolution called the Borrowers Defense Rule is a policy implemented by the Obama Administration that would increase eligibility criteria for relief available for defrauded student loan borrowers. The policy was altered by the Department of Education late last year and HJR 76 is aimed at reversing that policy alteration.

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LaHood Weighs In On USMCA Passage

As the US Senate is waiting to vote on an updated NAFTA, Republican Congressman Darin LaHood says farmer and other businesses shouldn’t have to wait any longer for final approval.

 

 

The replacement for NAFTA, the USMCA is expected to be called for a vote in the Senate in the next few weeks. Democrat Dick Dubrin has said that he will vote for the new trade deal.

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Warner Library's Paula Lopatic Announces Retirement

This summer, the Warner Library's Summer Reading Club will be the last for long-time children's librarian Paula Lopatic.

 

Last week on the WHOW Morning Show, Lopatic indicated to Regional Radio News it will be hard to top last year's summer reading club because of the quality programming they put together but is excited to see what happens next for the kids programming.

 

 

Lopatic says she already enjoying the final events of her time at the library, like reading The Polar Express to the Lincoln and Douglas School elementary students the day before Christmas break. 

 


According to Lopatic, her decision to retire came within the last few months and will have been at the library for 40 years. She jokes, what she is dreading most about the whole situation is having to clean out her office. 

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Clinton Chamber Substitutes Annual Ag Banquet with Donation to DeWitt County FFA Chapters

There will be no ag banquet hosted by the Clinton Chamber of Commerce this year, so in substitute for the event, the Chamber gathered with representatives from DeWitt County FFA Chapters to donate the leftover funds from their ag banquet account. 

Chamber Executive Director, Marian Brisard says interest in the annual event has declined over the years and so the Chamber decided to use the funds from that event they had leftover to support the FFA chapters of Blue Ridge and Clinton.

 

 

According to Jacqueline Meisner, FFA Advisor for the Blue Ridge Chapter, she and her students were very excited to receive the $1,000 surprise gift. She says this will their officer retreat in the summer.

 

 

Lee Deal is the Clinton FFA Chapter Advisor and she, like Meisner, was surprised to learn of the amount the donation would be. She explains they are going to be able to do a lot with the $1,000.

 

 

Clinton FFA numbers are up by 20 this year. Meisner indicates Blue Ridge has also increased its membership this year and is pleased to report around 80 to 90 percent of their members are participating in the various opportunities offered by FFA. 

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LaHood Worries Rural Illinois Could Lose Seat in Congress

As reports of Illinois population decline continues one immediate concern is the loss of a seat in Congress. And the loss of a seat is expected to hit downstate Illinois and rural communities. 
Republican Congressman Darin LaHood from the Peoria area says the state’s in competition with 49 others to keep the population and build and grow communities. And as he watches the population shrink he’s concerned about the voice of rural Illinois being diminished.

 

 

Illinois currently has 18 Congressional seats ranking 5th in terms of overall representation in Congress.

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Trump Touts Big Increases in Ag Purchases From China

The first part of a trade deal with the Chinese has been signed. President Donald Trump held a ceremony at the White House to sign the agreement that he says will bring big jumps in business to the nation’s farmers. Trump says that purchases from China will increase $50 billion over the next two years. He says farmers should be ready then to work harder to fill China’s needs.

 

 

The Illinois Farm Bureau says in a statement they are interested in the dollar amount of agriculture purchases to be made in the coming years by China. And Illinois farmers are well-positioned to fulfill China’s demand for soybeans, pork and additional commodities.

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Durbin Expects Both Sides to Be Impartial During Impeachment

The United States Senate is preparing for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. They were sworn in Thursday by Chief Justice John Roberts. 

 

US Senator Dick Durbin says all senators need to remain impartial before the trial starts and is equally disappointed in Democrat Senators strongly coming out against the President and in the Senate President Republican Mitch McConnell for aligning himself so closely with the White House.

 

The bulk of the trial isn’t expected to get underway until Tuesday.

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Sen. Rose Sounds Off on Wind Energy

"The wind industry is filled with a lot of awful people who don't know how to be a good neighbor" is how a local lawmaker recently described wind companies that are trying to make headway in central Illinois.

 

During a discussion on the WHOW Morning Show that centered around legislation that could jeopardize the viability of the Clinton Nuclear Power Station, Sen. Chapin Rose says wind companies have come to central Illinois and pitted quote - "brother against brother, cousin against cousin". 

 

 

Whether you are for wind or against it, the Senator says companies are coming in, getting what they want and leaving the destruction behind, not caring about it. He weighed in on how the subsidies have impacted energy production companies.

 

 

Sen. Rose is challenging anyone interested in closing facilities like the Clinton nuclear power plant to read research reports from the University of Illinois and review the impacts it could have. He feels the impacts are pretty clear in those reports. 

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Monticello Schools Anticipating Spring Play to Be Held in Renovated Auditorium

The Monticello High School spring musical is on track to be held in the renovated auditorium.

 

Monticello Schools Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman announced that the auditorium is on pace to host the scheduled musical, "Mama Mia" in the spring. The auditorium work is just one of the many projects going on in the multi-million dollar facility addition.

 

 

Monticello High School hosts its annual Holiday Hoopla tournament each winter for three days that follow Christmas. Dr. Zimmerman suggested Thursday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, perhaps with a new gymnasium that tournament could see some expansion at some point in the future.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman reminds the community, this coming summer will be a long summer because of the construction of the facility. He explains they will have a start date of September 1 in 2020.

 

 

Work that will bleed into the next school year will be a lot of the classroom renovations and Dr. Zimmerman says that force their students and staff to be flexible while that goes on. 

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Lincoln Police Chief Discusses Legalized Marijuana

The Lincoln City Council recently approved a measure to allow for a recreational cannabis dispensary in the community, if approved by the State of Illinois.

 

Wednesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show's Hometown Tour stop in Lincoln, Police Chief Paul Adams weighed in on how the legalization of recreational cannabis could impact their department. He notes to get in line with the law, they revamped their city ordinances.

 

 

The Chief points out his officers are training to currently enforce the laws and educate the public.

 

 

There are a lot of things to clear up about the law for those who want to use recreational cannabis and those who are opposed to its use. Chief Adams says they want to make sure everyone understands all sides of this change.

 

 

According to Chief Adams, the laws of recreational cannabis almost directly mirror alcohol. From the dispensary to your home, the laws of the two are nearly identical. 

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Ameren Readies for Winter Storms

As weather models for the weekend show the potential for winter weather, Ameren Illinois is at the ready if they are needed to help restore power. The utility was ready last weekend had the snow and ice caused widespread power outages, and a spokesman says that’s just what they do.

 

Ameren Illinois operates eight storm trailers stocked with critical supplies that enable crews to quickly and safely restore power after a storm. Senior Director Daetta Jones explains they move their storm trailers as close to where they are necessary as possible.

 

 

Each storm trailer contains enough equipment to supply several hundred crews and restore power to hundreds of customers. After power restoration is complete, a storm trailer is returned to its home base in Decatur, where it is restocked and prepared for its next deployment.

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Sen. Rose Believes It Will Be A Fight To Keep 2016 Energy Legislation in Place

Last month, it the proposal to repeal parts of legislation from 2016 that saved the Clinton Nuclear Power plant and allowed to remain operational for 10 years.

 

Thursday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, State Senator Chapin Rose told Regional Radio News it will likely take a fight to keep the legislation in place. He believes opponents of the law will guilt Democratic Governor JB Pritzker into doing something.

 

 

According to Sen. Rose, doing away with the nuclear subsidy in this legislation would increase the subsidies for wind and solar but it would still raise prices.

 

 

Sen. Rose believes the environmental community is trying to portray the Governor as a 'do nothing liberal on the environment'. While he disagrees with that idea, one of the few things the Governor didn't address was energy and as the Senator studies this more, he believes more and more this is going to be a battle.

 

Initially, the Senator thought this was simply a press release bill, but indicates he has become far more concerned about it.  

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Stuffed Animal Sleepover at Warner Library Friday

It will be a cuteness overload at the Warner Library in Clinton this Friday with an event they are bringing back.

 

Children's Librarian Paula Lopatic says children are going to be able to drop their stuffed animals at the library Friday night and when the kids head home for the night, the stuffed animals will share some "adventures" throughout the night and the kids will get a scrapbook of the memories they create the next morning.

 

 

Throughout the night, the stuffed animals will participate in several adventures with their peers and Lopatic says that will all be documented in the scrapbook they get Saturday morning.

 

 

The first time the library, they had around 40 stuffed animals that participated. 

 

Those stuffed animals can be dropped off at the library between 9 am and 5 pm Friday and then picked up between 9 am and 10 am Saturday. 

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Heavy January Rains Coming With Concerns

An uneasy feeling building as heavy January rains drench portions of Illinois this past weekend. That’s not a good sign after the flooding issues the state experienced last spring and summer says meteorologist Dan Hicks with Freese-Notis Weather.

 

 

Many areas of Illinois had between 1-to-3 inches of precipitation just from that one system last weekend.

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Farmland, Timberland Market Remains Strong

How did farmland fare in 2019? It’s still a great investment says Chase Burns, a local real estate broker and land specialist with LandGuys, LLC based in Springfield.

 

 

He says the market for recreational hunting ground or timberland is also in a good. In addition to Illinois, LandGuys, LLC also does business in Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Indiana.

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Bement Schools Praising Mental Health Counselor Partnership

A Piatt County school district is praising the various organizations that helped bring a mental health professional to their district and believes it has been a huge success.

 

Dr. Sheila Greenwood is the Superintendent of the Bement School district and credits the Piatt County Mental Health Center, Kirby Medical Center in Monticello and the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department for creating this partnership to bring a mental health counselor to their district along with Monticello and DeLand-Weldon Schools.

 

 

As mental health issues continue to be more of a focal point in today's world, Dr. Greenwood indicates the Illinois Youth Survey gives them a great deal of information on what kids are dealing with. She points out the breakdown of students that needs help is interesting.

 

 

Dr. Greenwood also believes as screen time increases in youth today, there will be a direct increase in attention and communication disorders. 

 

 

Dr. Greenwood says the statistics they are getting back are very similar to the other districts in this collaborative. She notes, however, their student body is actually seeing more males seeking help than the other districts. Dr. Greenwood is very pleased to hear that. 

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Lincoln Mayor Talks Council's Decision to Approve Legal Cannabis

Wednesday morning the WHOW Morning hit the road for its annual hometown tour and stopped at City Hall in Lincoln.

 

Local leaders talked about the community and the happenings, among the topics was the legalization of recreational cannabis. Mayor Seth Goodman says the council vote was split and explains why he decided to support the measure for a dispensary in the community.

 

 

The Mayor believes if a potential dispensary comes to Logan County, Lincoln should be the benefactor of the tax dollars that come with it, rather than a neighboring community. He emphasizes it is not a guarantee Lincoln would even get a dispensary. 

 

 

Mayor Goodman notes Cresco Labs in Lincoln is expanding and that business could soon benefit from recreational cannabis in their community.

 

 

Cresco is a medical cannabis dispensary and those facilities have been given preference in becoming a dispensary for recreational cannabis in the early application process. 

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DeWitt County Sheriff Weighs In On Legal Weed

We're just a mere two weeks into the legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois and a DeWitt County law enforcement official says there are a lot of things about the new laws that are not well put together.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker says the law was rushed and put together very poorly, pointing to open containers of legal cannabis, and whether possessing those in public or a vehicle is a violation.

 

 

Many have been critical of the inability of law enforcement to be able to accurately measure a driver's intoxication level but Sheriff Walker says they'll be able to do their typical sobriety tests until something is developed.

 

 

Not only could things get sticky from a legal perspective, but Sheriff Walker explains employers adopting a zero-tolerance policy on cannabis could be in a tough spot as well.

 

 

According to Sheriff Walker, hospitals are seeing a spike in emergency room visits from people that have used too much marijuana already. He notes, other parts of the country with legalized cannabis, for every dollar generated from marijuana sales, they are spending four-dollars in health care to treat illnesses associated with it. 

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Community Action Cheeseburger in Paradise Tickets Going Quickly

A central Illinois non-profit is readying for their biggest event of the year and those that annually attend are already scooping up tickets.

 

Community Action's Cheeseburger in Paradise is not until April but Executive Director Alison Rumler-Gomez says they annually sell all their allotted tickets by the end of February. She indicates this is a fundraiser they have supporters that annually anticipate attending.

 

 

Cheeseburger in Paradise is the biggest fundraising event of the year for Community Action. Rumler-Gomez is very thankful they have great support from the community.

 

 

The event is Saturday, April 18 at the Lincoln Banquet Center beginning at 6 pm. You can get tickets by visiting capcil.info or calling 217-732-2159.

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Heyworth Schools Looking to Add Video Scoreboard

Heyworth schools have started a capital campaign to add a video scoreboard to their football field.

 

Heyworth Superintendent Lisa Taylor indicates when discussions on their current facilities renovation began, the idea of a video scoreboard came up. The feelings of community members is a video board would be a great addition to their football facility, but could also have purposes. 

 

 

According to Taylor, many communities that surround McLean County have a one-cent sales tax in place that benefits school facilities, but they are not able to tap into those types of funds, which is why fundraising is the course of action to make this happen.

 

 

Taylor notes Heyworth has a booster club in the formative stage and looks forward to working with them on the scoreboard campaign. She feels the advertising campaign is a win-win for businesses with promoting their business and helping Heyworth schools.

 

 

Taylor says the video scoreboards will cost approximately $300,000 and their Board has budgeted for half. She notes the community has been very supportive so far with giving.

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Mood Will Be Changing in US Senate

The US Senate is set to get articles of impeachment this week from the House of Representatives. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says that as he and 99 other Senators await the final action from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, one thing is for sure, once the process beings things will not be the same for a while in Washington D.C.

 

 

Durbin says he anticipates the Senate will be receiving the articles on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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Mendoza Wants End to Exit Bonus for Lawmakers

The Illinois Comptroller is getting ready to write a check to a state lawmaker for an entire’s month’s work, even though they resigned their office on January 1st. Susana Mendoza says it’s wrong that she has to pay Democrat Martin Sandoval for the rest of the month, she calls it an exit bonus and wants it to stop.

 

Mendoza is backing legislation that would close the loophole and only pay lawmakers for the actual number of days they worked in a pay period. Mendoza called the practice

 

sneaky.

 

 

The Comptroller’s office issues paychecks to state workers. Mendoza also wants to pay lawmakers twice a month rather than once a month.

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Dairy Industry Talks USMCA

Ag groups continue to push for final passage of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. What does USMCA mean for the dairy industry?

 

 

That’s Alan Bjerga with the National Milk Producers Federation.

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Durbin Keeping Watch of Iran Protests

As protest rage in Iran, US Senator Dick Durbin says it’s an incredible turn of events. From citizens protesting an attack from the United States to quickly turning on their own government after it finally confesses to being complicit in the shooting down of a passenger plane.

 

Durbin says he hopes the changing in mood in the Iran populous will force the county to become more peaceful.

 

 

Durbin wants further negoations with leadership inside Iran to clam any more tensions with the United States.

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National Weather Service Adjusts Winter Outlook

The National Weather Service is adjusting its longterm outlook for the rest of the winter.

 

Chuck Shaffer with the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates they are no longer looking at a very cold and wet winter but rather a more mild outlook. He explains the rest of January specifically, will be mild.

 

 

While the rest of January is expected to be milder, it also expected to be wet. In fact, Shaffer says to anticipate a very wet rest of the winter.

 

 

According to Shaffer, currently, the area is in a neutral position and so it does not take much to adjust the forecast. He says they cold from Canada is instead being stopped to the north. 

 

 

Shaffer says soil moisture continues to be well above normal and with more rain from the weekend and much more to come, the ground will only become more saturated and predicts flooding heading into the spring. 

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State Police Looking For New Troopers

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS HIRING…AND APPLICATIONS FOR THIS SUMMER’S CADET CLASS ARE DUE BY JANUARY 31ST.

 

APPLICANTS MUST BE AT LEAST 21 AND HAVE AN ASSOCIATES DEGREE OR 60 HOURS OF COLLEGE WORK. MASTER SERGEANT HECTOR ALEJANDRE SAYS IT’S A REWARDING CAREER AND THAT THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY.

 

 

THE CADET CLASS IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN IN AUGUST…BUT JUST A FEW WEEKS ARE LEFT TO GET APPLICATIONS IN. 

 

 

THOSE INTERESTED CAN VISIT: ILLINOIS TROOPER DOT COM FOR MORE INFORMATION.

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Secretary of State Launches B-Truck License Replacement Program

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE’S OFFICE IS LAUNCHING A PROGRAM TO REPLACE ALL B-TRUCK LICENSE PLATES IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE OLDEST PLATES WILL BE REPLACED FIRST…AND DRIVERS WILL BE NOTIFIED BY MAIL WHEN THEIR PLATE IS ELIGIBLE FOR AN UPGRADE. SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT SAYS THIS IS ABOUT SAFETY.

 

 

UNDER THE PROGRAM…B-TRUCK PLATES WILL BE REPLACED EVERY 10 YEARS…STARTING THIS MONTH WITH THE OLDEST PLATES OUT THERE.

 

 

THERE WILL BE NO COST TO MOTORISTS AND THIS WILL BE AN ONGOING PROCESS THAT REPLACES PLATES EVERY 10 YEARS. ABOUT ONE POINT THREE MILLION PEOPLE IN ILLINOIS HAVE B-TRUCK PLATES.

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January Is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS ASKING FOR THE PUBLIC TO HELP STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN ILLINOIS.

 

HUMAN TRAFFICKING HAS BEEN CALLED MODERN-DAY SLAVERY SAYS D-C-F-S SPOKESPERSON DEBORAH LOPEZ…AND THERE ARE SIGNS YOU CAN LOOK FOR TO HELP SAVE VICTIMS.

 

 

OTHER RED FLAGS INCLUDE A CHILD DRESSED IN CLOTHES THAT THEY COULDN’T AFFORD TO BUY, BRUISES OR RED MARKS AND SEEMING OUT OF PLACE GIVEN THE TIME OF DAY OR NIGHT. 

 

 

DURING THE LAST FISCAL YEAR…D-C-F-S INVESTIGATED 255 ALLEGATIONS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN, ALTHOUGH THE AGENCY SAYS IT’S A CRIME THAT’S OFTEN UNDERREPORTED. IF YOU SUSPECT A CHILD IS A VICTIM…CALL 9-1-1 OR THE STATE’S HOTLINE: 1-800-25-ABUSE.

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FOID Fix Could Return in New Legislative Season

The Fix the FOID Act fell in the last cycle at the Illinois Capitol. The bill, among other things, would’ve raised the cost for FOID cards, forced citizens to use an FFL Dealer to purchase a firearm, and it included fingerprinting along with a background check.

 

State Representative Terri Bryant is the ranking Republican and the Minority Spokesperson on the Judiciary Criminals Committee. She says the bill could come up again in the new session.

 

 

The Fix the FOID Act also includes a provision to lessen the validity of a FOID card from 10 years to 5 years.

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Farm Bureau President Ready for China Deal

As the day draws near for the United States to sign a phase one trade deal with China, ag groups are waiting to learn more about the outcome of the agreement. 

 

Rich Guebert, President of the Illinois Farm Bureau, says having a signed deal will be welcome news for farmers and the rest of the economy after being hit by trade tariffs.

 

 

China and the US are planning on signing the deal on Wednesday.

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Tradewind Energy Hoping To Address Misconceptions In ZBA Hearings

The Tradewind Energy application now at the Zoning Board of Appeals level, the Tradewind team says they are focused on emphasizes the facts surrounding the issues of Doppler radar and wind turbines.

 

Tom Swierczewski is the project Development Manager. He spent the first two nights of the hearings last week providing the ZBA with an overview of the project. He calls it a positive first week.

 

 

The Tradewind team brought in what they call a premier expert in the field of wind turbines and weather radar in the country. Swierczewski says the topic has been a central topic since the last round of hearings last year. 

 

 

According to Swierczewski, the notion this project will jeopardize the safety of DeWitt County residents is not true. Additionally, during weather events when a warning is issued, the turbines will be turned off.

 

 

The ZBA hearings are being held at The Abigail in Clinton and will be held throughout January. 

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Clinton Police Chief Weighs In On Marijuana Laws and Misconceptions

Now that cannabis is legal in Illinois, does that mean just anyone can walk around smoking joints on the square? Are you allowed to have its products in your possession like loose change? 

 

The Chief of Police of Clinton recently stopped into the WHOW studios to talk about some of the questions he sees surrounding the legalization of marijuana in Illinois and hopes to educate everyone about the massive changes that came to our state starting January 1.

 

Chief Ben Lowers assumes from everything he sees and reads is that all marijuana is legal and now anyone can do anything with cannabis. However, there are still two different types of marijuana in law enforcement. Essentially lawful marijuana and illegal marijuana.

 

 

According to the Chief, it was just a few years ago, certain amounts of cannabis were decriminalized but since the drug has now become legal, those laws are back in place.

 

 

Chief Lowers compares cannabis to alcohol. From driving under the influence, the appropriate places to purchase and use along with the transportation of the product, the two will be treated very similarly in the law enforcement community.

 

 

As for the general public getting familiar with the changes in the law, the Chief says each case they encounter with the public is different when it comes to cannabis, so he will leave any discretion up to his officers in the field. 

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Maroa-Forsyth Schools To Ask Voters To Build New Middle School

If voters approve a proposal from the Maroa-Forsyth Board of Education, the district will be getting a $30-million plus new middle school that will connect to the existing high school.

 

Superintendent Dr. John Ahlemeyer tells Regional Radio News, last month the Board of Education approved the proposal to be on the March 17 ballot that asks for a $33 million project of tearing down the existing building and building a new middle school.

 

 

The proposal includes attaching the new middle school to the existing high school. Dr. Ahlemeyer says there is not that much distance between the two buildings and it would open up many opportunities if voters approve it.

 

 

While the $33-million price tag might seem steep to some, Dr. Ahlemeyer explains they would simply renew existing bonds, which would be of zero impact to taxpayers. But to make up the rest, that would be approximately $100 per year for taxpayers.

 

 

Dr. Ahlemeyer was very pleased with how the process of getting to the point they're at played out. The community group that led this process has collected many, many pieces of data that will soon be consolidated but all of it is available at mfschools.net for the community to become informed as they prepare to vote in March. 

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Durbin Throws Decision About War to Congress

Tensions seem to be easing a bit between the United States and Iran. But one US Senator wants Congress to be ready to step in if a broader conflict comes. 

 

Senator Dick Durbin says the founding fathers made a clear choice when writing the constitution and only Congress can push the country into a war.

 

 

Durbin says Republicans shouldn’t play politics with a decision to further escalate tensions with Iran by only siding with President Trump.

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Illinois Farmers Now Have Access to 2019

Illinois’ Agricultural Pest Survey Coordinator starting to disseminate information from the past growing season. Kelly Estes is collaborating with Drs. Nick Seiter and Nathan Kleczewski (kul-chess-kee) from the University of Illinois Crop Sciences Department.

 

 

The information is detailed in “the Bulletin”, available online at “bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu.” University of Illinois Data

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Clinton Chamber of Commerce Adds New Members to Board of Directors

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce recently elected three members to the Board of Directors.

Marian Brisard, executive director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, indicates the Chamber held an election last month with three positions open. Jason Frantz stepped off the board and Brisard thanked him for his service.

 

 

Byron Conners and Josh Shofner both ran for reelection. The open position was filled by Mike Lovett of Love It Once More Thrift Store.

 

The other members on the board of directors are Gabe Goldsmith, Paul Skowron, Janell Baum-Thomas, Stephanie Torbert, John Oliver, and Brad Barton.

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Capitol City Sheriff Looking for Marijuana Test

Days into legal marijuana law enforcement officials are still getting a handle on what it will mean for their job or public safety. 

 

Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell says that his office has yet to experience any problems but he’s waiting to see how it works out. The one thing he wants to have is a field test to see if people are driving high.

 

 

Campbell testified against the legalization of marijuana at the statehouse.

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IDOL making workers aware of One Day Rest in Seven Act

The Illinois Department of Labor has launched a campaign to make workers aware of their rights in Illinois. 

 

Jason Keller, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Labor, is talking to people around the state about the One Day Rest in Seven Act. He says the law applies to full-time workers only and requires workers to get a 24 hour period of rest and a 20-minute break, at least, for lunch for those working more than 7.5 hours in a day.

 

If you feel that you have been subject to a violation of the One Day Rest in Seven Act, you can contact the Department of Labor by 217-782-6206 or by going to Illinois.gov/idol.

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Davis Doesn't Think Attacks, Impeachment are Connected

The decision to launch an attack on and kill an Iranian General only adds to the drama surrounding the White House and the possible impeachment of the President. 

 

And one Republican Congressman doesn’t think the two are connected. Rodney Davis dismisses the idea that Trump ordered the attack to take attention away from a looming impeachment trial in the Senate.

 

 

Davis says the actions are actually opposite of what he thought the President would do after he moved to recently draw troops down in the Middle East.

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Congressional Crop Insurance Doing Work

Work continues in Washington for maintaining and defending a strong crop insurance program. It’s the Congressional Crop Insurance Caucus, which was announced last July by Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. She continues to seek input from farmers on the issue.


 

 

The bi-partisan caucus is made up of 33 members, 15 Republicans, and 18 Democrats.

 

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Workforce Investment Solutions Offers Services for Employers

If you are a business owner and are finding that your employees need training, Workforce Investment Solutions may be able to help cover the cost.

 

Larry Peterson with Workforce Investment Solutions indicates they can help employers with getting their employees trained at a qualified training program. If employers pay the employees for attending the training, Workforce will reimburse the employers.

 

 

Peterson says they recently helped a local manufacturing company with providing required training for their employees. He notes this helped the company establish a good dialogue with Workforce, and looks forward to working with them in the future.

 

 

To find out if your training program qualifies visit Workforce Investment Solutions at 757 W Pershing Road in Decatur, or call (217) 875-8751, or go to worknetdecatur.org.

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Kevin Feeney Takes Over Monticello's Burgess and Cline Insurance Agency

Monticello's Kevin Feeney has made a name for himself in the Monticello community - from his days as a Monticello High School basketball player helping the Sages to the elite eight of the 2007 Class 1A boys basketball tournament to walking on with the Xavier basketball program - and now as the owner of the Burgess and Cline Insurance Agency in Monticello.

 

Feeney has been with the family business since 2015 and in that time, he has gradually taken things over and recently became the 100-percent owner of the agency and says it has been great to work with his family and now to be the sole owner of the business.

 

 

The agency, located on the Monticello square, has maintained their staff in the transition and Feeney feels he has a great staff. They have great chemistry and they have a lot of fun together.

 

 

While the opportunity to be a business owner is exciting, Feeney calls it intimidating but he says it is a bet on himself and his staff and is confident things will work out for them.

 

 

Upon his return to Monticello, Feeney was an assistant coach under Kevin Roy and the Sages boys basketball program, coaching the JV for a few years. In the midst of his transition, Feeney stepped down from his coaching role but says he still intends on supporting the Sages.

 

 

Burgess and Cline Insurance Agency is at 108 West Washington Street on the Monticello square. Contact them at 217-762-2165. 

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Illinois Farmers Leaders in No-Till Practices

A Henry County farmer continues to be a leader in no-till methods. Marion Calmer is owner and operator of Calmer Corn Heads and Calmer’s Ag Research Center in Lynn Center. And he says his research is independently funded.

 

 

His research work eventually led to the invention of the world’s first single-chain, narrow row corn head for 12-and-15-inch rows along with building the world’s largest corn heads.

 

Calmer will be speaking at the 28th Annual National No-Tillage Conference in St. Louis this weekend. His topics are improving profitability and residue management. He has presented at the conference 26 out of 28 years.

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Governor, Lawmakers Want Investigation in Email With Allegations of Rape Cover-Up

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER AND MANY STATE LAWMAKERS ARE CALLING FOR AN INVESTIGATION INTO AN EMAIL DISCUSSING A POSSIBLE RAPE COVER-UP. 

 

THE MESSAGE, SENT BY A LOBBYIST BACK IN 2012, WAS UNEARTHED BY W-B-E-Z. IT REFERENCED A STATE EMPLOYEE WHO KEPT HIS MOUTH SHUT ABOUT GHOST PAYROLLING AND A RAPE IN CHAMPAIGN. GOVERNOR PRITZKER CALLS THE EMAIL “HORRIFIC” AND SAYS HE’S SENT THE MATTER TO THE STATE’S INSPECTOR GENERAL.

 

 

HE SAYS THE “HORRIFIC” EMAIL RAISES MANY QUESTIONS.

 

 

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JIM DURKIN WANTS SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS TO BE HELD AND OTHERS ARE URGING THE STATE POLICE AND CHAMPAIGN COUNTY STATE’S ATTORNEY TO GET INVOLVED.

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Governor Pritzker Talks Criminal Justice Reforms

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS DISCUSSING SOME OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS HE’D LIKE TO SEE PASSED.

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS HE WANTS TO LOOK INTO ENDING CASH BAIL, SINCE MANY PEOPLE ARE JUST SITTING IN JAIL BECAUSE THEY CAN’T AFFORD THEIR BOND.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS HE’D LIKE TO SEE AN END TO CASH BAIL IN ILLINOIS.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO REDUCE THE PRISON POPULATION IN ILLINOIS…WHICH NOW STANDS AT ABOUT 40 THOUSAND INMATES.

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EMA Urging Residents to Be Aware as Rain, Snow Moves Into Area

THE ILLINOIS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY IS URGING THE PUBLIC TO BE ALERT AS RAIN, ICE AND SNOW MOVES INTO THE STATE.

 

ILLINOIS IS FORECASTED TO BE HIT WITH A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING IN COMING WEEKS AND COULD FACE FLASH FLOODING, POOR ROAD CONDITIONS AND SNOW ACCUMULATION. I-EMA SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK SAYS THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY IS TO STAY AWARE.

 

 

CLARK SAYS THAT INCLUDES HAVE A NOAA (noah) WEATHER RADIO AND MAKING SURE YOUR SMART PHONE IS SET UP FOR WIRELESS EMERGENCY ALERTS.

 

 

THE LATEST WINTER ROAD CONDITIONS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: GETTING AROUND ILLINOIS DOT COM.

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Seniors Can Apply for Illinois License Plate Discount

The DeWitt County Friendship Center can help low-income seniors apply for a discount on license plate renewals.

 

Diane Cusey, with Community Care Systems, indicates seniors and individuals on disability who meet certain income requirements can apply for a discount on license plate renewals through the Illinois Department of Aging.

 

 

Cusey says if you are approved the discount is good for two years before you need to reapply. With increases in both income guidelines and license plate renewals, she anticipates more people will take advantage of this discount. Cusey notes the application process does not take long.

 

 

For more information visit Community Care Systems at the DeWitt County Friendship Center or call (217) 935-4560.

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DeWitt County 4-H Fairgrounds Bathroom Project Underway

Dirt is being moved at the DeWitt County 4-H fairgrounds for a project that was fundraised for last year.

 

Terry Ferguson with the 4-H board indicates their fundraising efforts were very fruitful and allowed them to begin a new handicapped accessible bathroom project at the fairgrounds around the first of the year.

 

 

The project begins well ahead of schedule for the fair board. Ferguson explains they did a mailing fundraiser and they also had a great response from the local agriculture community. 

 

 

According to Ferguson, they have also received some excellent contributions from a few contractors and says the project is moving right along.

 

 

While the project will cost a little more than the board's $60,000 estimates, Ferguson notes they have the pledges that will get them to where they need to be for money raised and confident those pledges will come through.

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Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital Promoting Volunteer Opportunities

If giving back to your community more is among your new year's resolutions, a Logan County group hopes you'll consider giving your time with them.

 

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation is seeking more volunteers in 2020 to help out in various ways throughout the organization. Volunteer Coordinator Dianne Eigenbrod says not only is giving back make you feel good emotionally, but there are health benefits as well. ALMH Foundation Executive Director Angela Stoltzenburg says the community health perspective is what the Foundation is all about. 

 

 

Stoltzenburg indicates there are many ways to get out and be a part of the community, whether it is with ALMH or any other community group. Eigenbrod says giving back is good for anyone of any age, not just someone who is retired.

 

 

Eigonbrod has a lot of opportunities for the volunteers and points out they need a lot of help getting people around the facility. There are also opportunities in their gift shop, thrift shop and helping out various departments throughout the day.

 

 

You can visit ALMH.org and seek out their volunteer page. You can also contact Eigenbrod by calling 217-605-5700. 

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ahomet-Seymour Superintendent Weighs In On Impacts of Legalized Cannabis on School Policies

With the legalization of marijuana, certain policies will need to be worked out.

 

Dr. Lindsay Hall, Mahomet-Seymour superintendent, believes the legalization will have a ripple effect in communities across the state. She says school districts will need to figure out how it affects employee policies.

 

 

Dr. Hall indicates Mahomet-Seymour schools' current policy will not change. The possession or exchange of cannabis on school property is prohibited, and they have a zero-tolerance policy for employees. 

 

 

With the new law, students could have increased chances of exposure to cannabis. Dr. Hall notes this a concern for her and says Mahomet-Seymour schools will work to make sure students are making healthy choices.

 

 

Dr. Hall feels now is the time for education on the legalization of cannabis not just in schools but also for the general public, as many have misconceptions.

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Durkin Outraged About Lobbyist Email to Quinn Admin

As lawmakers return to work at the state capitol this week another scandal is brewing over a connected lobbyist and political favors. 

 

An email obtained by WBEZ in Chicago shows that a once-powerful lobbyist, Mike McClain, emailed the Quinn administration in 2012 seeing a favor for a state employee. The email, sent to two top aides to then-Governor Pat Quinn, is seeking leniency for a corrections worker facing disciplinary action. 

 

The shocking part is that McClain urges restraint in the case because the worker “has kept his mouth shut about ghost workers and rape in Champaign”. Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin outraged by the report.

 

 

Quinn’s staffers never replied to the email but the worker's disciplinary case was postponed. McClain is already under federal investigation and was a close confidant of Speaker of the House Mike Madigan.

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Specialty Growers Meeting in Springfield This Week

Specialty growers are gathering in Illinois this week.

 

 

That’s State Ag Pest Survey Coordinator Kelly Estes. The Specialty Growers Conference runs through Friday in Springfield.

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2019 Was 5th Wettest Year on Record

2019 WAS THE 5TH WETTEST YEAR ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. 

 

ILLINOIS RECEIVED NEARLY 50 INCHES OF RAIN LAST YEAR SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD.

 

 

FORD SAYS IT’S A PATTERN THAT BEGAN THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

 

 

THE AVERAGE STATEWIDE TEMPERATURE FOR 2019 WAS 52 POINT ONE DEGREES…WHICH IS ONLY ABOUT A DEGREE BELOW NORMAL.

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Warner Library, Warner Hospital Bringing Back Diabetes Class

If you wanted to be a part of the diabetes course offered at Warner Library in conjunction with Warner Hospital and Health Services, you have another chance to take it starting this week.

 

Business Manager at the Library, Samantha Rusk indicates they are bringing back this course starting Friday morning at the Library. She says it is a two-and-a-half-hour course offered each Friday for six weeks.

 

 

The last round of courses went well. Rusk says the response they received was good and participants felt they got good information from the staff at Warner Hospital and Health Services.

 

 

Those courses begin this Friday at the library at 310 North Quincy Street. You can contact Warner Hospital or Warner Library to register. 

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2019 Firearm Deer Season Numbers Lower than 2018

The numbers are in for the 2019 firearm deer season.

 

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Rachel Torbert, indicates the second firearm season for 2019 saw higher numbers compared to the first season but both were down compared to the 2018 season. She says a late harvest and late first season contributed to this.

 

 

Torbert says numbers were lower for 2019 compared to 2018 across Central Illinois but were not drastically lower. DeWitt County finished with 333 deer compared to 376 in 2018.

 

 

Torbert notes IDNR records deer numbers as a management tool. In the past whitetail deer were not common in Illinois and now they have a huntable population. She says this is due to management from both hunters and the Department.

 

 

Archery deer season will end on January 19 along with CWD and late antlerless seasons.

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Lawmakers Hearing About School 'Isolation Rooms'

AFTER REPORTS OF CHILDREN BEING LOCKED UP IN “ISOLATION ROOMS” FOR MISBEHAVIOR, ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE LOOKING AT WAYS TO BETTER HANDLE THESE SITUATIONS. 

 

WHEN THE REPORT CAME OUT…THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ENACTED EMERGENCY RULES, AND NOW, LEGISLATION HAS BEEN PROPOSED. AT A HEARING IN CHICAGO…TOM TEBBE (tebby) WITH THE ILLINOIS ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS CALLED FOR MORE SCHOOL STAFF TRAINING.

 

 

 REPRESENTATIVE SUE SCHERER OF DECATUR WHO WAS A TEACHER FOR 35 YEARS.

 

 

OTHER AREAS DISCUSSED INCLUDE EXTENSIVE REPORTING AND REVIEW OF INCIDENTS AND PUNISHMENT FOR SCHOOLS ILLEGALLY RESTRAINING STUDENTS.

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Keeping Your Home Safe From Carbon Monoxide This Winter

THE ILLINOIS STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE HAS SOME TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR HOME SAFE FROM CARBON MONOXIDE THIS WINTER. 

 

CARBON MONOXIDE, OR “C-O” IS A COLORLESS, ODORLESS GAS THAT IS VERY DANGEROUS SAYS FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ. 

 

 

YOU CAN HELP PREVENT BUILDUP BY MAKING SURE THE FLUE IS OPEN WHEN YOU USE YOUR FIREPLACE, AND BY NOT USING YOUR GAS RANGE OR OVEN AS A HEAT SOURCE.

 

 

SYMPTOMS OF C-O POISONING ARE SIMILAR TO THE FLU AND INCLUDE HEADACHE, FATIGUE, NAUSEA AND DIZZINESS. PETS THAT ARE EXPOSED MAY BECOME SLUGGISH. THOSE AFFECTED OR HEAR THEIR DETECTOR GO OFF ARE ADVISED TO EVACUATE AND CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY.

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National Weather Service Eyeing Storm Will Bring Significant Rain to Central Illinois This Weekend

Upwards of two inches of rain could fall in Illinois this weekend if a system maintains it's trajectory right now.

 

Tuesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, National Weather Service Meteorologist Chuck Shaffer told Regional Radio a big storm system could move into the area Thursday and last through Saturday that will bring heavy rain. As the system moves through, temperatures will drop and could impact the form of precipitation.

 

 

Shaffer says the storm is sitting out west and he indicates it should come to central Illinois broken up meaning periods of rain throughout the two or three days of running its course.

 

 

Shaffer calls the system one of the higher impact weather systems we've seen in the last few months in terms of precipitation. He says anticipate a more detailed outlook for rainfall totals around Thursday and Friday. 

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Heyworth High School's Course Night To Highlight Expanded Dual-Credit Courses

As students in central Illinois get back to the swing of the school day routine, a McLean County district is offering their students and parents a chance to look at course offerings for next semester.

 

It's not uncommon for this time of the year to be dedicated to students looking at their next year of courses and Lisa Taylor, Superintendent of Heyworth Schools indicates Wednesday night they'll offer their high school students a glimpse at what is available to them.

 

 

The gathering of students will highlight the expanded offering for dual-credit courses through Heartland Community College. Taylor says the Board of Education has worked hard to make sure their students have as many of those opportunities as possible and they've come a long way in recent years.

 

 

Heyworth surveys their students for a time they call their "flex period" and she indicates they are exploring new opportunities for them during that time but is not sure if they will be able to have anything soon enough for next year. 

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Brief Clinton City Council Meeting Highlighted By Promotion in Police Department

Officer Tom Anderson of the Clinton Police Department was promoted Monday night to the position of sergeant.

 

Anderson previously served with the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office and Police Chief Ben Lowers at the City Council meeting notes Anderson is a veteran and has been on the force since 2018.

 

 

Anderson was joined by his wife Megan, and his mother Dee. His mother pinned his badge at the Monday night meeting.

 

Additionally Monday night, Commissioner Ken Buchanan pointed out his guys in the street department continue to pick up bagged leaves in the appropriate containers. Additionally, they are still talking with property owners about loose leaf and brush piles. 

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Critical Need for Blood, Platelet Donors

Seasonal illnesses and the holiday season are two of the reasons the blood supply typically dwindles this time of year. The American Red Cross has scheduled a number of blood drives in Madison County for the month of January in hopes of replenishing the region’s blood supply, and there’s a special promotion going on for part of the month too.

 

Red Cross spokesman Joe Zydlo (ZID-low) says anyone that donates before January 19th will be eligible for a chance to experience the Super Bowl live.

 

 

That is a nationwide contest. You can donate at any of a number of blood drives coming up this month. You can find out where to give blood at www.redcross.org .

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Women's Boutique Opens on Main Street in Clinton

A new women's boutique is the latest member of the Clinton business community.

 

Grace Rodriguez opened Grace La Boutique Monday morning at 210 East Main Street. Her journey into the business world started with selling clothes online and now she moves into a storefront in Clinton.

 

 

Grace La Boutique is a block east of the Clinton Square with hours of Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm, Friday 10 am to 6:30 and Saturday from 9 am to 6:30. She wants to be available to the community throughout the day and give everyone a chance to shop.

 

 

 

 

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Clinton Power Station Welcomes New Site Vice President

The Exelon Clinton Power Station has a new site vice president.

 

Tom Chalmers is a native of Decatur and was an employee of the Clinton Power Station for fourteen years before transferring to a corporate position and a position at the Byron Power Station.

 

 

Chalmers says he feels there is some public misconception surrounding the day to day activities of a nuclear power plant. He says most of the time they are conducting preventative maintenance on equipment.

 

 

Chalmers notes Exelon offers several opportunities every year for the community to learn more about what happens at the Clinton station.

 

 

Chalmers has been at his new position of site vice president since October 2019.

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Rep. Caulkins Says He Will Go All In To Fight Repeal of Energy Bill

Lawmakers that proposing repealing the green energy bill of 2016 are playing political games according to a central Illinois lawmaker.

 

The 2016 legislation essentially saved the Clinton Nuclear Power Station from closure for ten years but late last month, a pair of northern Illinois lawmakers put forth legislation that would repeal parts of the legislation. State Representative Dan Caulkins calls these political games.

 

 

According to Caulkins, these two lawmakers proposing this legislation are not very popular in their respective districts and so he believes this is a political maneuver to gain favor with their voters.

 

 

Caulkins' message to anyone who might support this legislation is that they are going to receive serious pushback. He explains they have a social media campaign calling out the representatives pushing this legislation.

 

 

Later this month, lawmakers reconvene for the new legislative season and Caulkins says the future of this bill will fall with Speaker Mike Madigan and whether he wants to bring it out of the rules committee and move it to the energy committees. Then the committee chairman will decide whether he wants to call it for a vote.

 

Additionally, Rep. Caulkins believes the Speaker could view this as a way to cause disruption among Republicans and so it could very well be something he wants to have come forward for that reason. 

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Chamber Director Believes Despite Polarizing Issues, Clinton in Good Place

With lots of hot button issues on the table as we enter a new year, the leader the Clinton Chamber of Commerce believes the overall state of the community is in a good place.

 

With an important election coming up in 2020 that will likely center around the vote of a wind farm in northwest DeWitt County, Clinton Chamber Executive Director Marian Brisard believes the voters will make the right choices.

 

 

With a new year upon us, Brisard is reminding the community of the many things the Chamber is involved in. From hosting many events throughout the year to promoting the local business community, they also have a hand in directing several community organizations.

 

 

With the rise of technology and having information at our fingertips instantaneously, the Chamber is still a used resource for people seeking information. Brisard says they get calls of all sorts for information.

 

 

The first three months of the year feature a trio of annual events.

 

January 25 will be the Chamber's annual dinner, a date will soon be set for the annual ag banquet and in March during the high school spring break, the Chamber will host their annual business expo at the high school. 

 

Find out what is happening in the community, get member business information and more at the Chamber's website, clintonilchamber.com. 

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More Illinois Seniors Eligible for State Benefits in 2020

More Illinois seniors will qualify for state benefits such as discounted license plates and free transit under new income guidelines that took effect for 2020.

 

The Illinois Department of Aging announced new, higher-income limits will be used eligibility for the state’s Benefit Access Program. The program includes discounts on license plates, the Seniors Ride Free Benefit and the Persons with Disability Free Transit Ride Benefit.

 

Under the new guidelines, single-person households will qualify if they earn less than $33,562 in annual income. That’s up from $27,610 last year.

 

State officials say the changes reflect annual cost of living increases for Social Security and supplemental security income benefits.

 

Aging Department director Paula Basta says the benefits support “some of our state’s must vulnerable residents.” The state says it received over 126,180 applications for the benefits in the most recent fiscal year.

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Piatt County Mental Health Center's School Counselor Partnership Seeing Great Results

Mental health has become a topic that is being addressed at levels across the board in our communities and a Piatt County partnership with their school districts is yielding great results.

 

Tony Kirkman is the Executive Director of the Piatt County Mental Health Center and indicates their partnerships with their districts have yielded great results. He notes over 70 individuals have been helped by having a counselor in the buildings at various points during the week in the first semester alone.

 

 

Kirkman believes it is very important the youth in their community receives the help they need. He explains kids today are under a lot of pressure and that results in a lot of stress and anxiety.

 

 

This partnership is funded upfront by the Piatt County Mental Health Center, Kirby Medical Center and the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department but as time goes on, if the schools see the merit of the program, they will gradually take on the costs to maintain the counselor in their buildings.

 

 

According to Kirkman, this initiative began about three years ago and the three entities recognized the youth in Piatt County needed access to mental health resources. He notes they did this through an integrated care approach, which recognized an individual's behavior and physical health were complimentary. 

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State Finishes Latest Round of Marijuana Sales Applications

The legal sale of marijuana is here and the state is is ready to license more dispensaries to sell to adults over the age of 21. 

 

The state has closed its second round of taking applications for new stores to sell the drug. Toi Hutchinson, the state’s senior advisor on cannabis control says as the state reviews the next group of applicants she can see the obvious demand in the market for new storefronts to open.

 

 

Hutchinson says the state is prepared to license 75 new dispensaries by May 1st.

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Heyworth Schools Adjusting as Facilities Addition Continues

With students on break in Heyworth, the district took the opportunity to finish up some inside portions of their multi-million dollar facilities addition.

 

Superintendent Lisa Taylor says the work started while students were still in session from the first semester and with sports events going on through the break teams, coaches and athletes have had to be a little flexible.

 

 

Taylor indicates the new addition is about 75-percent complete as they prepare to enclose the addition and begin interior work this winter.

 

 

According to Taylor, crews are within a week of their projected timeline. She hopes the addition will be enclosed at some point this coming week.

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2020 Illinois Spring Wild Turkey Season Permit Applications Due January 13

Turkey hunters should plan for spring by applying for a second lottery permit.

 

Rachel Torbert, Illinois Department of Natural Resources deputy director, indicates the application deadline for the second lottery is January 13.

 

 

For more information visit www.dnr.illinois.gov.

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Small businesses reminded about minimum wage tax credit

SMALL BUSINESSES IN ILLINOIS ARE URGED TO APPLY FOR A NEW MINIMUM WAGE TAX CREDIT. 

 

THE CREDIT IS AVAILABLE TO BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS WITH 50 FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES OR LESS SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESPERSON SAM SALUSTRO.

 

 

THE CREDIT IS DESIGNED TO HELP OFFSET THE COST OF THE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE THAT TOOK EFFECT JANUARY FIRST. IT’S OPEN TO BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS WITH 50 OR LESS FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESPERSON SAM SALUSTRO.

 

 

THE MAXIMUM CREDIT AMOUNT ALLOWED IS 25 PERCENT OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE NEW MINIMUM WAGE AND EACH WORKER’S PREVIOUS WAGE. IT WILL END IN 2026 FOR MOST SMALL BUSINESSES. BUSINESSES CAN CLAIM THE CREDIT BY FILING FORM I-L-941, ILLINOIS WITHHOLDING INCOME TAX RETURN AND A NEW SCHEDULE.

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State Police won't be revoking FOID cards over legal cannabis use

Illinois State Police won’t be revoking anyone’s FOID card for using cannabis legally. However, anyone with a felony conviction involving cannabis, or anything else, still can’t get a FOID card even now that cannabis is legal. Illinois State Rifle Association Lobbyist Ed Sullivan says where Illinois law contradicts federal law is when someone wants to buy a gun from a federally licensed dealer. A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives form required for all gun purchases to ask whether the buyer uses cannabis.

 

 

Sullivan says Illinois State Police could possibly revoke someone’s FOID if they are using cannabis illegally – like driving under the influence. Dispensaries aren’t allowed to keep any personal information on cannabis buyers unless they get permission to do so.

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Workers urged to watch their paychecks to make sure they are paid new minimum wage rate in 2020

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR IS REMINDING MINIMUM WAGE WORKERS TO CHECK THEIR PAYCHECKS FOR A RAISE. 

 

THE ILLINOIS MINIMUM WAGE ROSE FROM EIGHT DOLLARS 25 CENTS AN HOUR TO NINE 25 AN HOUR ON JANUARY FIRST AND WORKERS NEED TO MAKE SURE THEY GOT THE INCREASE SAYS STATE LABOR DIRECTOR MICHAEL KLEINIK.

 

 

THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE IS NOW NINE DOLLARS AN 25 CENTS AND HOUR, AND DEPARTMENT OF LABOR DIRECTOR MICHAEL KLEINIK SAYS WORKERS SHOULD MAKE SURE THEIR PAYSTUB REFLECTS THE CHANGE. HE REMINDS IT WILL ONLY BE FOR HOURS WORKED IN 2020.

 

THE ILLINOIS MINIMUM WAGE WILL GO UP AGAIN IN JULY, THEN EACH JANUARY UNTIL IT HITS 15 BUCKS AN HOUR IN 2025. TEEN WORKERS ARE ALSO GETTING A RAISE…AND WILL EVENTUALLY END UP AT 13 DOLLARS AN HOUR.

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Weekly Weather Summary

Most of the state saw warm weather on Christmas Day and that trend will continue into January. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...

 

 

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DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals To Begin Wind Farm Hearings This Month

This month, the Zoning Board of Appeals will begin hearings for the second application for the Tradewind Energy Alta Farms II wind farm.

 

DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg says those begin January 7 and reminds anyone interested in attending, those hearings will take place at The Abigail in Clinton.

 

 

The hearings will last until January 29. 

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Bement Superintendent Talks Ashley's Law Amendment

A local superintendent recently attended a conference regarding the use of medical marijuana in schools.

 

Dr. Sheila Greenwood, Bement Superintendent, indicates the legislation known as Ashley's Law allows for the use of medical marijuana to be administered in schools for approved students. 

 

 

Dr. Greenwood notes the current legislation allows for parents or guardians to administer medical marijuana to students on school grounds during the school day with a prescription.

 

 

Dr. Greenwood says the impact of this legislation on school districts is minimal. She says it is important to have policies like this in place for the rare student that could benefit.

 

 

An amendment to Ashley's Law which goes into effect this year is the permittance of school administrators and nurses to administer medical marijuana to a student with a prescription. Students are also permitted to self-administer under the direct supervision of an administrator or nurse under the amendment.

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Miller Park Zoo Purchases X-Ray Machine After Successful Year of Fundraising

The Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington had a successful year of fundraising and will be able to purchase a new X-ray machine.

 

Miller Park Zoo superintendent Jay Tetzloff, indicates the zoo originally set out to purchase a used X-ray machine but due to the support of the community they can purchase a new one. He notes all of the zoo's annual fundraisers plus other donations will go towards the purchase.

 

 

Tetzloff says having an X-ray machine on-site will allow the zoo to provide better veterinary care. The zoo will use the machine weekly when performing routine physicals as well as if an animal is sick or injured. It will also save the zoo money every year.

 

 

The X-ray machine is currently scheduled to be installed in mid-January at the zoo's hospital.

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Recreational marijuana sales topped $3 million on January 1st

RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA SALES IN ILLINOIS TOPPED THREE MILLION DOLLARS WEDNESDAY.

 

LONG LINES WERE SEEN AT THE 37 DISPENSARIES IN ILLINOIS…AND MORE THAN 77 THOUSAND TRANSACTIONS WERE COMPLETED. SALES WERE GREAT, TOTALING NEARLY THREE POINT TWO MILLION DOLLARS SAYS THE STATE’S CANNABIS CZAR…TOI HUTCHINSON.

 

 

77 THOUSAND TRANSACTIONS WERE MADE ON THE FIRST DAY FOR LEGAL POT SALES IN ILLINOIS…WITH RECEIPTS TOTALING NEARLY THREE POINT TWO MILLION DOLLARS SAYS THE GOVERNOR’S SENIOR ADVISOR ON CANNABIS CONTROL, TOI HUTCHINSON.

 

ILLINOIS IS JUST THE SECOND STATE IN THE MIDWEST TO LEGALIZE RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA, FOLLOWING MICHIGAN WHICH OPENED SALES LAST MONTH.

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New Scam Pitches Free Medical Braces

Heading into the New Year, the Better Business Bureau wants you to be wary of a fairly new twist on the tried and true phone scam. The goal is apparently to harvest personal information, with the possibility of the victim sending money for what is being pitched as free medical braces.

 

While the targets typically do not lose money in these scams, one person reported her mother was fraudulently billed for a shipment of eight braces she did not order, resulting in a loss of over $800. Better Business Bureau Investigator Don O’Brien says the easiest way to deal with these robocalls is to just hang up.

 

 

In addition to hanging up, O’Brien suggests you block the number if your cell phone has that option; don’t answer calls from unknown numbers; and report scam calls to the FTC and the BBB.

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Pritzker Won't Say Yay Or Nay on Fair Maps Amendment

Now that 2020 is here citizens need to be ready for the 2020 US census. As everyone in Illinois is counted lawmakers will soon use that information to redraw legislative districts. For years there has been a push by many in Illinois to create a non-partisan commission to draw maps as fairly as possible. There has even been a push to create a constitutional amendment to do so. Democrat Governor JB Pritzker has so far not said much about supporting a fair maps amendment, but he has said he will veto any map that isn’t fair. But he isn’t so sure that there is time to get lawmakers to vote on a proposal this spring.

 

 

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IDOA keeping track of recreational marijuana, industrial hemp and medical cannabis

There’s plenty to keep track of in the New Year for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Jeff Cox serves as the agency’s bureau chief for medicinal plants. First, a lesson in the difference between industrial hemp and recreational marijuana, which became legal on Jan. 1 in Illinois.

 

 

There’s also the state’s medical cannabis program, which has grown to be about 100,000 patients.
There are a total of 21 cultivation centers in Illinois and all have now been approved for adult-use cultivation of recreational cannabis in addition to medical marijuana.

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State Rep. Dan Caulkins Talks New Laws for 2020

A state representative is bringing two new laws to the attention of Illinois motorists.

 

State Representative Dan Caulkins indicates state Republicans were "instrumental" in increasing the penalty for Scott's Law. He says this is much needed to increase safety for first responders statewide.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins notes they also increased the penalty for motorists who pass a stopped school bus on the side of the road with the stop sign extended. Caulkins hopes the new laws will promote an increase in safety on Illinois roads.

 

 

Caulkins notes in addition to the increased penalty for Scott's Law, the Secretary of State's office is making drivers more aware of the law.

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Clinton Workforce Youth Program

Workforce Investment Solutions offers a unique program for high school juniors and seniors in the Clinton area.

 

Larry Peterson, employment specialist for Workforce Investment Solutions, indicates they offer a program in DeWitt County for high school juniors and seniors who meet the program criteria. The aim of the program is to not only equip students with a job but also to give them basic work skills.

 

 

Peterson says they are in need of area businesses who are willing to be mentors or places of work for the students in the program. Peterson reminds the program is of no cost to employers as the students are paid by Workforce Investment Solutions.

 

 

For more information, contact Workforce Investment Solutions at (217) 875-8751, visit worknetdecatur.org, or visit them at their office at 757 W Pershing Road in Decatur. 

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ALMH, Lincoln Elementary School District 27 Partnering for Fresh School Lunches

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital Community Health Collaborative is partnering with Lincoln Elementary School District 27 to change school lunches from frozen processed foods to fresh, local foods.

 

Angela Stoltzenburg, with the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, indicates they have been working with Logan County schools with the CATCH program to create a healthy environment for kids. She says the next step is transferring the cafeteria to fresh, made from scratch food.

 

 

The ALMH Foundation awarded Lincoln Elementary School District 27 with a grant to have healthy school lunches. Stoltzenburg says the process started in June with training cafeteria workers and is currently at 60 percent of the food being made from scratch.

 

 

Stoltzenburg notes the goal is to source as much food as possible locally. On Tuesday, January 7 District 27 will be seeking bids from local producers for the 2020-2021 school year.

 

 

Stoltzenburg indicates by the end of this school year they hope to have 100 percent of cafeteria food to be made from scratch. For more information on the bid meeting, contact District 27 at (217) 732-3386.

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Miller Park Zoo to Add DeBrazza Monkey Exhibit

Construction for a new exhibit at the Miller Park Zoo will begin in Spring 2020.

 

Jay Tetzloff, Miller Park Zoo superintendent, indicates the zoo will add a DeBrazza Monkey exhibit with construction beginning in Spring 2020. The exhibit is set to open in March 2021 to help draw a larger attendance.

 

 

Tetzloff notes the exhibit is being designed to evoke the sense of being in the monkey's environment for patrons. The DeBrazzas will be located next to the flamingos.

 

The DeBrazza Monkey exhibit will cost $600,000 and is being funded by a reinstated state grant.

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Pick-up Trucks Exempt From Trade In Tax

As automobile owners begin the New Year if you’re going out and buying a new vehicle there’s a new tax law to keep in mind. No longer will the entire value of your trade save you from paying sales tax on the purchase of your next vehicle. But there is one specific carve-out to the new law. Pete Sander, President of the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association, says if you’re trading in a pick-up truck or cargo van the entire value of the truck is exempt.

 

 

SUV’s are not exempt from the new sales tax law, even if they are being driven with B Truck license plates.

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Marijuana Must Be Transported Legally

Now that you can buy marijuana legally in Illinois there are still plenty of laws to follow. Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell says extra care and caution needs to be used when driving with marijuana in your car.

 

 

Possession is limited to 30 grams per person. And possession of 30 to 100 grams of marijuana is now a misdemeanor charge.

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Lt Gov In Line On January 1st

On January 1st sales of marijuana became legal in Illinois and one elected official was in line to buy marijuana edibles. Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton was at a Sunnyside Dispensary in the Chicago neighborhood of Lake View on Wednesday to make a purchase.

 

 

On Twitter after the purchase, Stratton said “It’s not just a new year, it’s a new day. Thank you Governor Pritzker."

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State officials urge the public to prepare now for potential spring flooding

STATE OFFICIALS ARE URGING THE PUBLIC TO PREPARE NOW FOR POTENTIAL SPRING FLOODING.

 

ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, ABNORMALLY MOIST GROUND CONDITIONS AND HIGH RIVER LEVELS IN THE UPPER MIDWEST COULD LEAD TO FLOODING THIS SPRING. RACHEL TORBERT WITH THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SAYS THAT’S WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO CONSIDER FLOOD INSURANCE.

 

ILLINOIS’ LARGEST DISASTER IN 2019 WAS THE FLOODING THAT HIT MORE THAN 33 COUNTIES LAST SPRING. STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON RACHEL TORBERT SAYS IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN.

 

 

THOSE LIVING IN COMMUNITIES PARTICIPATING IN THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM CAN PURCHASE FEDERALLY BACKED FLOOD INSURANCE OR YOU CAN GO WITH YOUR PRIVATE AGENT. TORBERT SAYS THEY WILL BE HOLDING EVENTS AROUND THE STATE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT FLOOD INSURANCE.

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Flooding and harvest delays top 2019 weather summary for Freese-Notis meteorologist Hicks

It’s time to reflect on the weather in 2019 in Illinois. The big story for Freese-Notis Weather meteorologist Dan Hicks in 2019?

 

 

Moving into 2020, Hicks will be closely following excessive soil moisture supplies. He says soils are quite wet in many areas and as deep as four to five feet in some places.

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DeWitt County Sheriff's Office Investigating Damage to State Property

Tire damage near the intersection of Swisher Hill Road and Parnell Road in rural DeWitt County is under investigation.

 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is seeking information on the damage at the Salt Creek boat ramp.

 

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact CPOT Gates at 630-465-7001.

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Pritzker Pardons 11,000 w/ Misdemeanor Marijuana Convictions

The Governor has begun to pardon individuals who have low-level marijuana convictions on their criminal records. Today Democrat JB Pritzker granted more than 11,000 pardons as adult-use cannabis becomes legal on January 1st. Pritzker says the including misdemeanor expungement as part of the legalization of marijuana was key in bringing equity to people who bore the brunt of the war on drugs.

 

Pritzker says as the lawmaking process went on he met many people who have been held back from getting a good job or filling out a housing application because of a drug conviction on their record.

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New online court document database under testing

Illinoisans will soon have more access to court documents online without having to travel to the courthouse. Illinois Supreme Court Spokesman Chris Bonjean says a select group of lawyers is testing a new statewide court database.

 

 

Bonjean says the public could have access by the summer. He thinks it’s a big leap forward for public access to court documents.
 

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USDA rural development programs being promoted

USDA rural development programs being promoted for Illinois communities as we enter 2020.

 

 

That’s Douglas Wilson. He’s the state director for USDA Rural Development in Illinois. You can learn more about the agency’s programs at “rd.usda.gov/il”.

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Top Ten Stories from 2019 (1 to 5)

Yesterday on Regional Radio News we brought you the tenth through sixth most viewed and talked-about stories from 2019 at dewittdailynews.com.

 

Today, for this New Year's Day, we will countdown the top five stories of 2019....

 

Number 5:

 

>>Clinton IGA Being Sold to Kirby Foods

 

Number 4:

 

 

>>One Dead in Clinton House Fire

 

Number 3:

 

 

>>Clinton High School Principal Sounds Off on Public Perception of District Passion

 

Number 2:

 

 

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

 

Number 1:

 

>>Police: Ten Year Old Clinton Girl Found Dead

 

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