Local News

Monticello Schools Preparing For Remote Learning

Tuesday, remote learning began for Illinois school kids in light of the extension of the social distancing guidelines from President Trump.

 

Monticello Schools Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman indicates those plans have gone out and he is making sure any students who do not have access to the internet knows access to wireless internet is available throughout the community.

 

 

The final quarter of the school year is already in jeopardy and Dr. Zimmerman indicates it is unlikely any material still left to be covered will be taught which is going to force an adjustment in learning for the next few years to make sure students get caught back up.

 

 

The times ahead are uncharted for everyone and Dr. Zimmerman recommends setting up a routine and structured day for your kids. He recognizes this isn't going to be easy on anyone but teachers will be available to help and students can still engage each other during this time.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman points out this is new territory for everyone and adds this is not going to end up being a perfect system, he hopes everyone will have patience and simply do the best they can. 

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Local Coronavirus Numbers

Tuesday saw another big spike in coronavirus cases and experienced one its deadliest days since testing for the coronavirus began.

 

26 new deaths were reported along with 937 new cases in Illinois. 

 

DeWitt and Piatt Counties continue to see zero cases reported despite continued testing. The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reports 17 negative tests out of 21 administered, leaving four pending. In Piatt County, 21 tests have come back negative with four pending. 

 

In Logan County, 35 tests have been administered and 29 have come back negative. They have six tests pending. 

 

The State of Illinois now has 5,994 cases with 99 total fatalities and now 35,225 tests have been administered.

 

95-percent of cases are in the Chicago area. 5,683 of the 5,994.

 

Roughly one in six people that get tested for coronavirus tests positive. 

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Governor Pritzker Extends Stay At Home Order, Emergency Declaration

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker Tuesday extended the State of Illinois' stay at home order and extended the disaster declaration.

 

At his daily press briefing, Governor Pritzker indicated he continues to let the scientists on his team guide his decision making. 

 

 

According to the Governor, 41-percent of the state's ICU beds are empty and 68-percent of the state's ventilators are available.

 

 

Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike stresses the continued importance of following the stay at home order and the social distancing guidelines and points out it is proving to be effective.

 

 

Dr. Ezike announced 937 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 26 additional deaths.  

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Central Illinois Representative Says Illinois' Lack of Planning Hurting Coronavirus Response

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has been very critical of the federal government in recent weeks over the response to the coronavirus outbreak and a state lawmaker says the finger-pointing needs to end.

 

State Representative Dan Caulkins believes the Governor's finger-pointing at the President and the White House of the lack of materials coming to the state needs to end and does not blame the President for his recent responses towards those leaders critical of the response.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins believes every State in America needs to be working together and understand everyone is going to be reliant on the Federal Government's efforts to get supplies across the country and does not believe Pritzker demanding supplies is helping anything.

 

 

According to Caulkins, the time is not now to be pointing fingers but believes the State of Illinois has been ill-prepared for this because the State has spent beyond its means for years and years.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins hopes this is a wake-up call as the budgeting process will get underway soon as they have to have a budget passed by May 31. He is hopeful the coronavirus outbreak will soon be mitigated and allow the Illinois General Assembly to soon conduct their business. 

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Coronavirus Outbreak Triggers First-Ever Health Emergency Alert on Smartphones

The coronavirus outbreak caused what likely was a first-ever health alert over smartphones this morning, at 10:20.

 

The Emergency Alert was sent by the state, saying it needs licensed healthcare workers to sign-up at the web site "illinoishelps-dot-net" to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

It's likely the first time that the state has used the Emergency Alert System to recruit health care professionals.

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What is Congress' 4-Phase Plan?

Congressman Rodney Davis is offering up advice on what local businesses can do if they need help through these difficult times.

 

Congressman Davis says Phase 1 and Phase 2 bills Congress recently passed will start working on a vaccine to make sure that our hospitals have all the necessary Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE.

 

 

Congressman Davis indicates the much larger Phase 3 bill that will have direct investment into our main street businesses.

 

 

Business owners can get a loan and if you meet certain requirements, Davis says the majority of the loan that you take out will be eligible to be forgiven.

 

 

For more information, visit rodneydavis.house.gov. 

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SNAP, SBA Benefits Under Stimulus Bill

Included in the recently approved economic stimulus bill is additional funding for the Small Business Administration. That money will benefit companies with less than 500 employees. The bill also includes more dollars for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

 

 

That’s Illinois Farm Bureau’s Mark Gebhards. He anticipates there could be an additional stimulus bill down the road.

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Citizen's Utility Board Hosting Virtual Utility Bill Workshop

The Citizen's Utility Board hosts free workshops across the state on a regular basis to help you save money on your utility bills. The organization is committed to working for the rights of utility customers, but they are having to change their format due to the current public health concerns.

 

CUB spokesman Jim Chilsen says they are now hosting virtual utility bill clinics.

 

 

You can email your gas, electric, and phone bills to ubc@citizensutilityboard.com and a CUB expert will analyze them. For more information, call 1-800-669-5556.

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Ameren Taking Precautions in Response to Coronavirus

During uncertain times like today, utilities are essential to keep some kind of normalcy in our lives. Like most other businesses, Ameren Illinois is taking steps to protect workers and strengthening the power grid during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Richard Mark is the President and Chairman of Ameren Illinois. He says they understand the utility’s responsibility to maintaining the quality of life across the state.

 

 

Some of the measures Ameren has taken include having most of their office staff work from home, having grid workers practice social distancing and having grid workers wear protective gloves and eyewear. Earlier this month, the utility announced they would halt service disconnects through the outbreak to help residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Clinton Schools Sending Out Remote Learning Guidelines This Week

Parents of Clinton schools students can plan to receive guidelines and guidance on remote learning for kids as school is likely to be adjourned until the end of April after President Donald Trump extended the coronavirus social distancing guidelines to that time.

 

Superintendent of Clinton Schools Curt Nettles indicates the guidelines will be in the form of a packet on how to best continue education with kids while they are away from school. He stresses this will be about assessing growth on the concepts they have learned. 

 

 

Many parents are still working, some from home and some essential workers are still heading to their sites. Nettles encourages establishing a good routine with your children and make sure they know when they are going to be tackling their school work.

 

 

Nettles encourages parents to do their best to keep kids focused while they are at home but he hopes to limit the amount of time and work for kids. He says at home time for kids is often associated with weekends, breaks and summer vacation. 

 

 

Nettles is hoping to get those plans to parents by tonight (Monday evening) if not, parents can anticipate those by Tuesday. 

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Local Coronavirus Figures

Logan, DeWitt and Piatt Counties continue to test for the coronavirus but so far no positive results.

 

In DeWitt County, the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department indicates there have been 19 tests administered with 16 negative tests and three pending. In Piatt County, 22 tests have been administered with 17 negative outcomes and five pending.

 

In Logan County, the Logan County Health Department reports 32 tests administered, 27 have come back negative while five are pending.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health today reported 461 new cases of coronavirus disease in Illinois.  Eight new deaths are also being reported, including the death of an incarcerated man from the Stateville Correctional Center.  

 

Nearly 90-percent of the state's 5,057 cases of coronavirus are in the Chicagoland area and there are now 73 deaths in Illinois. 

 

30,446 Illinoisans have been tested for coronavirus. One in six individuals tested shows positive results. 

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Governor Pritzker Continues Campaign Against Federal Government Response in Daily Press Briefing

As the State of Illinois continues to build its supply of personal protective equipment or PPE, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker continued his calls for the federal government to help them supply Illinois hospitals with the necessary items.

 

Pritzker says they received another shipment of equipment this week and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is sorting through everything and will soon distribute it to areas in need.

 

 

The State will distribute supplies to the Chicago area and downstate areas including Champaign, McLean and Sangamon counties in central Illinois. The Governor says they are continuing their search to acquire supplies from all parts of the country and globe.

 

 

Illinois hospitals and health departments continue to receive the necessary equipment and Governor Pritzker says 22 sites in the Chicago area and nearly 100 sites in central Illinois. 

 

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health today reported 461 new cases of coronavirus disease in Illinois.  Eight new deaths are also being reported, including the death of an incarcerated man from the Stateville Correctional Center.  

 

Nearly 90-percent of the state's 5,057 cases of coronavirus are in the Chicagoland area and there are now 73 deaths in Illinois. 30,446 Illinoisans have been tested for coronavirus. 

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Local Officials Praise Community for Dedication to Stay At Home Mandate

Local officials are applauding the efforts of local residents to stay home during the outbreak of coronavirus in hopes of slowing the spread.

 

Warner Hospital CEO Paul Skowron on the WHOW Morning Show Monday applauded residents for limiting their travel and helping keep the spread minimal locally. As of Monday morning, only an out of area college student had tested positive for the virus.

 

 

Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department, Dave Remmert echoes Skowron's thoughts and credits people for taking the Governor's order seriously and adhering to the social distancing guidelines by the federal government.

 

 

Skowron says to not get alarmed as the daily totals of cases in the United States continue to go up. He points out the country and State of Illinois are doing a lot more testing than the rest of the world and we are also dedicating resources to treating patients.

 

 

Sunday saw the biggest increase in cases in Illinois since testing started and Governor Pritzker has his sights set on testing 10,000 Illinoisans a day. Remmert indicates numbers are going to continue to climb as testing centers become more prominent and more labs begin processing these tests.

 

 

Skowron agrees with Remmert and points out the positive tests are going to continue to grow even higher but says once everyone has been tested, numbers will begin to go down. 

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DeWitt County Student's Coronavirus Case to be Transferred to Missouri

Over the weekend, news broke of a DeWitt County College student in Missouri who contracted the coronavirus.

 

A 20-year old male student at the University of Missouri is in isolation and his case will be considered a Missouri case according to local health officials.

 

Health officials had been in contact with the Illinois Department of Public Health throughout the weekend on how to proceed.

 

There are still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in DeWitt or Piatt Counties and around 30 tests have been administered. 

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U of I Extension Horticulturalist Promoting Gardening During Shelter From Home

As area residents continue to do their part to social distance themselves to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a University of Illinois Horticulturalist says on nice days, we could spend some time doing garden prep for those summer gardens.

 

Candace Miller indicates the days at home are a great opportunity for several preparation opportunities but it is unlikely you'll find anyone in the office. Miller indicates the best way to get in contact with your local Extension professional is to seek out their email address at their website.

 

 

It's still a little wet outside to be taking up tilling efforts or even planting but Miller indicates now is a great time to begin getting some of those seedlings started. 

 

 

Garden prep can be tackled right now as well. Miller indicates pulling last year's plants and get lingering leaves raked up are a few of the things to get the area prepped for when you're ready to till and plant.

 

 

Early season vegetables that can be planted around this time would be lettuces, beets, and onions but Miller recommends waiting to plant other vegetables until our overnight low temperatures are not so close to freezing. 

 

Get more gardening tips by visiting extension.illinois.edu/dmp. 

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Piatt County Mental Health Center Executive Director Concerned About Developmentally Disabled Community in Midst of Coronavirus Outbreak

Protecting the most vulnerable in our society from the coronavirus has become the predominant theme of shelter from home efforts and a Piatt County mental health professional is concerned about his community's developmentally disabled community.

 

Tony Kirkman is the Executive Director of the Piatt County Mental Health Center and says his agency is taking appropriate precautions during this pandemic to keep their clients safe.

 

 

According to Kirkman, his concerns for their developmentally disabled is very high because not only do some compromised immune systems and so they are taking every precaution to keep them out of harm's way during this time.

 

 

As these individuals seek shelter during this time, Kirkman says if the coronavirus gets into one of the facilities these individuals are at, it could become a very serious condition.

 

 

President Trump has discussed the possibility of opening up areas of the United States that are considered low risk. With no confirmed cases as of the weekend in Piatt or DeWitt Counties, Kirkman says it would still be hard to ensure low-risk areas don't see infections from people in infected areas. 

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Monticello High School Addition Construction Rolling On

Construction of the multi-million dollar high school addition in Monticello continues amid social distancing guidelines from the federal government over the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman says the advantages of having students out of the building for an extended period is going to allow contractors to get as much work in as possible without disrupting classes.

 

 

For Monticello Schools, the summer months were going to be vital in the progress of the project because students would not be in the building and now with school closed likely until the end of April, if not beyond, Dr. Zimmerman expects things to move along at a quicker pace, however, not everything is going their way right now.

 

 

As everyone navigates through this period in time unlike any other, Dr. Zimmerman is encouraging his students to stay connected and they are also asking teachers to remain connected with students.

 

 

With the President's extension of the federal social distancing guidelines to April 30, the questions will become, do students get the opportunity to get back to school before the end of the year.  

 

The Illinois State Board of Education has declared March 17-20 and March 30 Act of God Days so those will not be required to be made up, but they have also instituted at-home learning for students going forward. 

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Coronavirus Testing to Increase in Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Sunday that Illinois will soon more than double the number of daily COVID-19 tests it can administer as the number of cases surged.

 

Public health officials reported 1,105 new cases Sunday, including 18 deaths. Overall, Illinois has more than 4,500 cases with 65 deaths.

 

Pritzker said Illinois will increase its daily testing capacity from about 4,000 to 10,000 within 10 days. He said more workers are being added at labs, along with new technology.

 

He added that he spoke with Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories, which has made a portable rapid test, to ask that the state gets first dibs. The medical device maker says its cartridge-based test, approved Friday, delivers results within minutes.

 

The first-term Democrat, who is critical of the federal government’s response to the pandemic, said he had no choice. Cases are expected to peak next month.

 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

 

Public health officials said they are still investigating the death of an infant who had COVID-19.

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ACLU Believes Government's Special Powers Should Relate to Emergencies

Many city councils and village boards have given their mayors special powers to handle the coronavirus emergency. Those may include setting an all ages curfew, rationing groceries, and sealing off the town, although leaders have not indicated a desire to do those things. Many have ordered city buildings closed, changed employee work arrangements, and temporarily ended water shut-offs.

 

Ed Yohnka, Director of Communications for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, says everything they do has to be related to fighting the pandemic.

 

 

Yohnka says for the best results, the authorities’ first focus should be on educating people about the restrictions and not punishing them.

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Gov. Pritzker Gives Update On COVID-19 Testing

Gov. Pritzker says the state expects to be able to conduct 10,000 tests daily within the next ten days.

 

In his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Sunday, Gov. JB Pritzker gave an update on the State's coronavirus testing capacities. He indicates the State is currently running 4,000 tests a day with a total of approximately 28,000 tests conducted so far.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker noted experts say 10,000 tests a day will provide the state with accurate data to determine if state-mandated interventions are working.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker voiced his frustrations with the federal government over testing capabilities. He indicated the three state testing labs will be adding a third shift and additional laboratory robotics to maximize the state's daily testing capabilities.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health today announced 1,105 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 18 additional deaths.  Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 4,596 cases, including 65 deaths, in 47 counties in Illinois.  The age of cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years.  

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Durbin Says $2-Trillion Bill Came Together Quickly

Lawmakers on capitol hill wrestled over the final details of a giant $2 trillion economic stimulus bill.

 

The US Senate wrangled on both sides, Republican and Democrat, over the massive amount of money and just how and where it gets divided up.

 

Key points are possible $1200 checks for adults and $500 checks for children. Billions are also on the table for industries ravaged by social distancing and stay at home orders as well as states who are spending to fight off the virus.

 

As the final details were hammered out Senator Dick Durbin says the bill has been crafted at light speed for a group that is usually accustomed to taking its time.

 

 

Now the bill will head to the House of Representatives for final approval.

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Ag Role in Stimulus Package

How does agriculture fare in the 2-trillion-dollar economic stimulus package? Illinois Farm Bureau’s Mark Gebhard’s breaks down that issue.

 

 

On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin touted small business retention loans as part of the package. He said they would fund eight weeks of salaries and indicated the loans would be forgiven as long as workers remain employed.

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USDA Service Centers Open But By Appointment Only

There has been some confusion, but USDA Service Centers remain open. State Conservationist Ivan Dozier is getting that information out this week.

 

 

As for extending sign-up deadlines for conservation programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he says that issue is unclear at this time.

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Durbin Touts $2-Trillion Stimulus Plan

The Federal Government is prepared to spend at least $2 trillion to support the economy as the fight against COVID-19 continues. 

 

The US Senate passed the bill late Wednesday night and US Senator Dick Durbin says key details are $1200 checks for most working adults, $120 billion to support hospitals around the nation that are no longer making money while preforming routine care and help for small businesses. Some of those small business dollars won’t even have to be paid back.

 

 

It appears clear that this won’t be the last action from the federal government in trying to support the nations economy.

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Weather Service Extends Tornado Watch Until 2am Sunday

The National Weather Service at 8:40 Saturday night, extended the Tornado Watch until 2am Sunday, for areas north of Interstate 70, including all of the Regional Radio listening area.

 

At 7:30 Saturday night, the Weather Service in Lincoln issued a statement saying that thunderstorms were increasing across western Illinois as a cold front moves into the area, and were still capable of being severe. Further south, while rain and thunderstorms will continue through mid evening south of I-70, the threat of severe weather there has significantly lowered. 

 

They’ve also issued a Wind Advisory for the area from 3am until 7pm Sunday.  Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.  Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle, and secure outdoor objects.

 

Stay tuned to Regional Radio for watches and warnings instantly as they’re issued by the National Weather Service.

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Gov. Pritzker Announces First COVID-19 Infant Death

The death of an infant younger than one who tested positive for COVID-19 was announced today.

 

Gov. JB Pritzker in his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Saturday, indicated an infant who tested positive for COVID-19 has passed away. He says we should grieve for all of the lives lost to the disease.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker also outlined further preparations the State is taking. McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago will be Illinois' first field hospital as COVID-19 cases in Chicago are expected to rise.

 

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health today reported 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 deaths. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 3,491 cases, including 47 deaths, in 43 counties.

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Tornado Watch Issued Until 9pm Saturday; 2 Rounds of Severe Weather Possible

 

The National Weather Service this afternoon issued a Tornado Watch for the entire Regional Radio listening area until 9pm tonight.

The Weather Service says that a significant severe weather outbreak is possible this afternoon and evening. Damaging winds, very large hail, and strong tornadoes are all possible.

They say that 2 rounds are possible.  South of Interstate 74, severe weather is possible from mid thru late afternoon.  The second round of severe weather is possible between 5pm and 9pm tonight west of a Springfield to Peoria line, and between 7pm and 11pm west of a Champaign to Effingham line which would include the Regional Radio listening area. Areas east of a Champaign to Effingham line could be impacted between 9pm and midnight tonight.

Stay tuned to Regional Radio for watches and warnings instantly as they’re issued by the National Weather Service.

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BREAKING NEWS: Out of State DeWitt County Man Tests Positive for Coronavirus, In Isolation

The first DeWitt County case of coronavirus has been confirmed, however, the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County health department indicates the individual does not actually currently reside in DeWitt County.

 

The 20-year-old male is a college student in Missouri and is in isolation at his residence there.

 

Health Department Director Dave Remmert says the case is considered a DeWitt County case because he gave his home address in DeWitt County.

 

The DeWitt County test count will be updated later today.

 

JB Pritzker will update the State of Illinois at 2:30 pm. Hear his daily address on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

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Clinton Schools Finding Silver Lining in Coronavirus Outbreak

An always positive individual, Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles says not everything is negative surrounding a now three-and-a-half-week long closure of schools in Illinois to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Clinton schools did not have an e-learning policy in place before the abrupt canceling of school by Governor JB Pritzker on March 13 but Nettles believes there is a silver lining of schools stretching their capabilities of how their students learn.

 

 

While there will perhaps be room for expanding learning opportunities to an online or technology-based style, Nettles continues to push the importance of students to be in classrooms with an instructor leading them.

 

 

Governor Pritzker last week extended school cancellations to April 8, a week from next Wednesday. Clinton students are on spring break this week. 

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Parents Can Bring Ag Into The Home Classroom

As we continue to adapt to sheltering at home, parents may be looking for some new activities to keep kids entertained and engaged.  Illinois Ag In The Classroom has several activities available that not only educate, but also provide insights into agriculture.

 

Jennifer Fink is the Ag Literacy Coordinator at the Macon County Farm Bureau.  She encourages families to look into the online resources at Ag In The Classroom (dot) org.

 

 

According to Fink, they've taken things a step further in Macon County.  She explains that the farm bureau is providing take home resources - called Ag Mags - to parents at food pick up points thru local school districts.

 

 

You can view the Ag Mag selection online at MaconCFB.org, and contact Jennifer Fink to learn more.  Again, the website for the online resources from Illinois Ag In The Classroom is Ag In The Classroom (dot) org.     

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Gov. Pritzker Unsure of President's Plans for Re-Opening Specific Parts of Country

The President is signaling that he wants to find ways to get parts of the United States open for business. Some aren’t sure how that’s supposed to happen, while others wonder why it’s not happening sooner.

 

Governor JB Pritzker knows that case counts look low in parts of the state while the Chicago area leads in sick people and deaths. But he says any guidance to open some areas before the pandemic slows need to be guided by science.

 

 

The state has 2,538 cases in 37 counties. 26 people have died in Illinois from COVID-19.

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Gov. Pritzker Addresses Comments by President Trump

Governor JB Pritzker offered up thoughts on comments made by President Donald Trump this week on FOX News.

 

Gov. Pritzker at his daily press conference says comments made by the President could be deadly. The President questioned if there was a need for more ventilators. 

 

 

Gov. Pritzker continues to put pressure on the President to initiate the defense production act.

 

 

While the Governor waits on the President's action, he continues to seek out PPE, ventilators, and tests shipped to Illinois. He indicates he was able to receive more N-95 masks and getting PPE to downstate communities like Champaign and Peoria. 

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Unemployment System Getting Better

More than a 100,000 people in Illinois lost their jobs last week and now those folks are trying to apply for unemployment benefits. But the state’s online application system is buckling under the weight of the flood of applications. Governor JB Pritzker says he knows the process has been slow for many and he is talking to the state’s IT department, DO IT, daily to get the problem fixed. Pritzker says it’s far from perfect right now, but it is getting better.

 

 

17,000 people were able to apply for unemployment benefits on Thursday.

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Weather Service Says Severe Weather, Tornadoes Possible Saturday

 

The National Weather Service in Lincoln says severe weather, including the possibility of tornadoes, will be moving thru the Regional Radio listening area between tonight and late Saturday night.

The Weather Service says scattered thunderstorms are expected to develop in central Illinois early tonight. Some of these storms will have the potential to produce large hail and heavy rain as the push toward the northeast. A few storms may produce high wind gusts close to 60 mph. Make sure you stay alert for any watches or warnings overnight. 

Saturday according to the Weather Service will be unseasonably warm and humid in the afternoon. This will result in a favorable environment for severe thunderstorm development, particularly after 3 pm. At this time, it appears that significant severe weather is possible, including tornadoes, damaging winds, and very large hail. 

They add that thunderstorms may be ongoing in the morning, but the main severe weather threat will materialize during the afternoon and evening. Be alert for watches (your first heads-up) and warnings (take action) Saturday afternoon and evening. When you receive a warning, quickly go to a secure shelter in a basement or lowest floor of a sturdy building away from windows and doors. 

Stay tuned to Regional Radio for the latest watches and warnings direct from the National Weather Service.

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Clinton YMCA Offering Emergency Childcare For Essential Workers

Despite the ongoing "Shelter At Home" order, many are still heading to work as part of essential industries.  This had lead to a challenge for parents needing childcare.

 

The Clinton Community YMCA has taken steps to be able to provide limited childcare for essential workers.  Rennie Cluver, YMCA Director, says they have permission to offer 10 spots as early as Tuesday, March 31st.

 

 

According to Cluver, the effort is intended to help with a need they've identified within the community.

 

 

The program will continue as long as the "Shelter At Home" order remains in place.  Cluver notes the situation is fluid, and asks for parents patience as the program comes together.  

 

To learn more about the emergency childcare being offered through the Clinton YMCA, reach out through their Facebook page. 

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Gov. Pritzker Addresses Comments by President Trump

Governor JB Pritzker offered up thoughts on comments made by President Donald Trump this week on FOX News.

 

Gov. Pritzker at his daily press conference says comments made by the President could be deadly. The President questioned if there was a need for more ventilators. 

 

 

Gov. Pritzker continues to put pressure on the President to initiate the defense production act.

 

 

While the Governor waits on the President's action, he continues to seek out PPE, ventilators, and tests shipped to Illinois. He indicates he was able to receive more N-95 masks and getting PPE to downstate communities like Champaign and Peoria. 

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Local Coronavirus Testing Statistics

488 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois but central Illinois counties continue to be spared of positive tests. 

 

In DeWitt County, 16 coronavirus tests have come back negative with two pending as of Friday afternoon. In Piatt County, 14 tests are negative and three are pending, according to the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department.

 

The Logan County Health Department is reporting 24 negative tests with three pending as of Friday afternoon.

 

Eight new fatalities from coronavirus bring the statewide total to 34 with 3,026 positive tests. 2,902 of the state's 3,026 cases are in the Chicago-land area. 

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Heritage Behavioral Health Counselor Offers Tips for Families Leading Young Children During Coronavirus Pandemic

Leading young children through an unprecedented time in our nation's history can be difficult for everyone involved and is bringing new challenges to our daily lives.

 

Jessica Smiley is the Project Director for Community Together with Heritage Behavioral Health Center and indicates this is a different time for everyone and it feels like the change in our daily routines is being interrupted almost overnight.

 

 

What can be helpful for everyone is to have a routine. Smiley says to talk with your kids about the things they miss or the opportunities that are no longer available but to also focus on the good things that are happening.

 

 

According to Smiley, the situation from a national level can be very concerning and even alarming but she says to control things we can control. She feels it won't help us worrying about things we cannot control.

 

 

Smiley says it is OK to have the feelings we do but she encourages seeking help if it is negatively impacting your relationships or keeping you from functioning day-to-day. She also believes it is important for parents and adults to maintain any daily routines we have and to make sure those who are working from home take breaks so they are not working throughout the entire day. 

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Heyworth Schools E-Learning Prep Paying Off During Coronavirus Pandemic

A McLean County School district was among a small handful of schools to pilot electronic, at-home learning a few years ago and then an even smaller amount of schools to pass a policy in their handbook for such a practice during inclement weather.

 

What no one saw coming was a three-week shut down of schools for a worldwide pandemic but because Heyworth Schools were able to pilot an e-learning plan and then adopt an updated version last year, Superintendent Lisa Taylor says it has prepared them for this unprecedented event.

 

 

For most school leaders, blended learning is still something that is on the horizon but nothing imminent but for Taylor and Heyworth schools, it is something they have been exploring in recent years.

 

 

According to Taylor, it is unlikely school will resume April 8 and so now the challenge is teaching kids without them in front of an instructor for a long time. She credits her staff for the innovative ways they are already utilizing technology to teach.

 

 

Taylor is advocating for early notice if the state decides to cancel the remainder of the school year. She indicates summer school could be an option for students who may need additional support but because students left school later in the third quarter, they have enough evidence of progress they could send students on if it comes to that. 

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USDA Service Centers Open But By Appointment Only

There has been some confusion, but USDA Service Centers remain open. State Conservationist Ivan Dozier is getting that information out this week.

 

 

As for extending sign-up deadlines for conservation programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he says that the issue is unclear at this time.

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Unemployment System Getting Better

More than 100,000 people in Illinois lost their jobs last week and now those folks are trying to apply for unemployment benefits. But the state’s online application system is buckling under the weight of the flood of applications. Governor JB Pritzker says he knows the process has been slow for many and he is talking to the state’s IT department, DO IT, daily to get the problem fixed. Pritzker says it’s far from perfect right now, but it is getting better.

 

 

17,000 people were able to apply for unemployment benefits on Thursday.

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Gov. Pritzker Unsure of President's Plans for Re-Opening Specific Parts of Country

The President is signaling that he wants to find ways to get parts of the United States open for business. Some aren’t sure how that’s supposed to happen, while others wonder why it’s not happening sooner.

 

Governor JB Pritzker knows that case counts look low in parts of the state while the Chicago area leads in sick people and deaths. But he says any guidance to open some areas before the pandemic slows need to be guided by science.

 

 

The state has 2,538 cases in 37 counties. 26 people have died in Illinois from COVID-19.

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Durbin Touts $2-Trillion Stimulus Plan

The Federal Government is prepared to spend at least $2 trillion to support the economy as the fight against COVID-19 continues. 

 

The US Senate passed the bill late Wednesday night and US Senator Dick Durbin says key details are $1200 checks for most working adults, $120 billion to support hospitals around the nation that are no longer making money while performing routine care and help for small businesses. Some of those small business dollars won’t even have to be paid back.

 

 

It appears clear that this won’t be the last action from the federal government in trying to support the nations economy.

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Illinois Public Health Director: Do Not Get Complacent Practicing Social Distancing; Governor Sounds Off

A major spike was reported in coronavirus cases in Illinois today, as Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reports over 600 new cases. 

 

Dr. Ezike called on Illinoisans to remain vigilant in their efforts to social distance themselves even as nicer days become more prominent.

 

 

There were 673 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois and Dr. Ezike says seven additional deaths bring the state's fatality total to 26. 

 

 

Governor JB Pritzker chided Illinoisans for their lack of following the guidelines of the stay at home order. He applauds those following the guidelines but was not happy to see gatherings in Chicago after Wednesday turned nice in the afternoon.

 

 

Pritzker wasn't done there, sounding off on people who are socializing without regard to the social distancing guidelines. He is calling on Illinoisans to be responsible for their actions.

 

 

There are no 2,538 total coronavirus cases in Illinois and 16,631 individuals have been tested.

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DNR Reminds Illinoisans: Clinton Lake Closed for Fishing, Hunting

State Parks and lakes continue to be closed to the public as Illinois officials continue to push social distancing to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Sergeant John Williamson says they are finding hunters and fishermen are, in some cases, still unaware of the decree from Governor JB Pritzker that lakes and parks are closed.

 

 

If you know someone with a pond or private property who may have seasonal mushrooms on their land, those can still be hunted on and fished through. Additionally, federal sites in Illinois are still open. 

 

 

While it is unfortunate people cannot take advantage of the opportunity to get out and enjoy state parks, Williamson indicates this isn't the worst thing for the ecosystem.

 

 

The Department has seen isolated incidents of false information circulating social media posing as though it is coming from them. He indicates the best place to find the latest in accurate information is at their website, dnr.illinois.gov. 

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National Expert on Child Exploitation Discusses Safety for Kids From Online Social Platforms

 

The coronavirus poses nearly no threat to youth but with kids home from school for at least another two weeks, that doesn't mean they are clear of any trouble.

 

A nationally known expert in the field of child exploitation says it is imperative, especially during this downtime when kids will have more time to be on online social platforms for parents to monitor the things their kids are doing.

Rich Wistocki with Be Sure Consulting indicates there are so many ways kids could find themselves the targets of online predators and he is imploring parents to be mindful of the things kids are doing, not just on electronic devices like phones or tablets, but also gaming systems.

 

 

TikTok is one of the worst social media platforms for kids to be on currently. Wistocki says even though kids are likely isolated from other kids right now, it is still important for parents to monitor their activity on networks like TikTok.

 

 

The new Call of Duty video game has been a hot spot for targeting and exploiting youth in recent months. According to Wistocki, the game is very interactive and warns parents and kids of people who want to take them off the game and talk.

 

 

Wistocki points parents or guardians to very effective and innovative software for electronic devices to install on your phone and your child's phone to monitor what they are doing. He also advises parents to buy their kids only Android devices to start.

 

 

Wistocki was in Clinton last year at The Vault and was set to be back next week but because of the coronavirus pandemic, his appearance has been postponed. He and the DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition, who coordinated his appearance, hope to find time for a special webinar series he has. 

In the meantime, Wistocki says parents can get 30-percent off their bark.us for their subscription by visiting besureconsulting.com. For parents, Wistocki points them to his website as well for more information and resources on keeping your kids safe while online.

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Durbin Says $2-Trillion Bill Came Together Quickly

Lawmakers on capitol hill wrestled over the final details of a giant $2 trillion economic stimulus bill.

 

The US Senate wrangled on both sides, Republican and Democrat, over the massive amount of money and just how and where it gets divided up.

 

Key points are possible $1200 checks for adults and $500 checks for children. Billions are also on the table for industries ravaged by social distancing and stay at home orders as well as states who are spending to fight off the virus.

 

As the final details were hammered out Senator Dick Durbin says the bill has been crafted at light speed for a group that is usually accustomed to taking its time.

 

 

Now the bill will head to the House of Representatives for final approval.

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Ag Role in Stimulus Package

How does agriculture fare in the 2-trillion-dollar economic stimulus package? Illinois Farm Bureau’s Mark Gebhard’s breaks down that issue.

 

 

On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin touted small business retention loans as part of the package. He said they would fund eight weeks of salaries and indicated the loans would be forgiven as long as workers remain employed.

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Local Coronavirus Numbers

While coronavirus cases continue to grow in the State of Illinois and the nation, local counties continue to see minimal to zero cases.

 

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reports still zero cases with 20 negative tests and four tests pending. 

 

In Logan County, the Health Department is reporting zero cases despite the Illinois Department of Public Health website reporting one case. They have 19 negative tests with two pending.

 

Meanwhile, the State of Illinois reports 330 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including three deaths; a Kane County man in his 90s, a Cook County man in his 60s, and a Will County woman in her 50s. 

 

Douglas, Marshall, and Morgan counties are now reporting cases. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,865 cases in 35 counties in Illinois. 

 

1,660 of the 1,865 cases in Illinois are in the Chicago area. Champaign County has four cases, McLean County has seven cases, Peoria County has four and Woodford County has three cases.

 

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Gov. Pritzker, Treasurer Frerichs Announce Measures to Help Illinois Business Community

The small business community in Illinois has been pounded by the coronavirus outbreak since the announced closure by Governor JB Pritzker and Wednesday afternoon, the Governor announced several initiatives to try lend a helping hand.

 

The Governor at his daily briefing they are rolling out three new programs to soften the burden of the economic downturn because of measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Additionally, the governor announced the extension of the state tax filing deadline.

 

 

According to Governor Pritzker, the Small Business Emergency Loan Fund will allow for small businesses to receive a $50,000 loan with five-year low-interest payment terms. 

 

 

The second program also focuses on suburban and downstate communities with low to moderate-income residents. Gov. Pritzker says grants will give small businesses emergency grants up to $25,000.

 

 

Finally, hospitality businesses have experienced major hardships and Gov. Pritzker notes the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is providing these businesses with a retooled existing program with grants $14-million statewide. 

 

 

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs announced a bridge loan program for small businesses. He points out $250-million are being made to local banks for "historically low-interest rates, almost pushing zero".

 

 

To get more information on the Treasurer's loan program, reach out to your local banker and find out if they are participating. 

 

Get more on the opportunities through the State of Illinois at coronavirus.illinois.gov. 

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Local Health Officials Optimistic Self-Quarantine Measures Are Working

The war is not over but local health officials say everyone's measures to self-quarantine are proving to be effective.

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert is very encouraged by the trends he's seeing in coronavirus cases in Illinois. He says the growth of cases, right now, is not growing exponentially and he feels much better this week than he did this time last week.

 

 

According to Paul Skowron, CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, the growth of the coronavirus in places like Chicago and New York City is not surprising given the dense population but he also credits concerted self-quarantine efforts by central Illinois businesses and residents.

 

 

Social media is likely to circulate worst-case scenario projections for the coronavirus and even Tuesday afternoon, Governor JB Pritzker laid out what a worst-case scenario might look like in Illinois but Remmert indicates south of Chicago, numbers are looking very good.

 

 

Skowron reassures the public in DeWitt County, Warner Hospital is supplied sufficiently with personal protective equipment, or PPE commonly referred to in other forums, and they have already received supplies to be in a position battle this pandemic should it hit locally. 

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DeWitt County Farm Bureau Asking Ag To Support Health Workers

As the country continues to fight the cornoavirus, more and more reports are surfacing of a shortage of personal protective equipment for health workers.

 

In an effort to protect local health workers, the DeWitt County Farm Bureau is asking local producers to donate any PPE equipment they may have on hand.  Allison Reinecke, Manager of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau, says they are specifically looking for N-95 masks.

 

 

Farmers typically use the masks while cleaning out grain bins.  Reinecke stresses any donated masks will stay local.

 

 

The DeWitt County Farm Bureau is currently closed to walk-ins due to the Shelter At Home order.  Despite that, Reinecke says they do have a dropbox for the masks at their office on Route 54 in Clinton.

 

 

Again, any N-95 masks can be donated at the DeWitt County Farm Bureau office.  To conduct business with DCFB, contact them through dewittcountyfarmbureau.com, or call 935-2126.

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DeWitt County Sheriff Seeing A Silver Lining In Coronavirus Situation

Amidst the concerns and precautions surrounding the coronavirus, DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker is seeing an unexpected surprise.  

 

The Sheriff reports the number of calls for service to his department has reduced significantly in the past week.  He feels social distancing and self quarantining are leading to a reduction of incidents.

 

 

Sheriff Walker says crime numbers are also trending down, but his department will continue to respond to all calls accordingly.

 

 

Officials continue to encourage residents to practice social distancing, and reduced travel, in order to slow the spread of the virus.

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How Apple and Pork Festival Could Save DeWitt County Museum From Coronavirus Downturn

An organization that represents and advocates for Illinois museums has some jarring predictions for the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak.

 

A lot of American sectors are almost completely shut down as the country attempts to slow the outbreak of the coronavirus and Joey Woolridge, Executive Director of the DeWitt County Museum says their representing organization is predicting 30-percent of museums will close in the aftermath of this outbreak.

 

 

While the DeWitt County museum is certainly not immune to such a scenario, Woolridge believes one thing they have going for them is the Apple n' Pork Festival to help them stay afloat throughout the year.

 

 

A stimulus package proposed by Congress could aid non-profits. Woolridge feels it would be worthwhile to invest in museums because of their contributions to the economy and the jobs they create. 

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Western Illinois University Creates Interactive Coronavirus Map

Western Illinois University promoting an interactive tool that monitors the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to Illinois and bordering states. It’s a digital map says WIU GIS Center Director Chad Sperry.

 

 

You can find map at “arcg.is/0OTGSP.”

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Gov. Pritzker Says Illinois Could Need 38,000 More Beds if Coronavirus Isn't Contained

Illinois would have to double the number of available hospital beds in the next two weeks to treat COVID-19 patients if the coronavirus is not contained amid a pandemic that has claimed 16 lives in the state, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday.

 

The state would need almost 38,000 additional hospital beds, including more than 9,000 in intensive-care units, by April 6, in a worst-case scenario, the Democrat said at his daily briefing. And nearly 5,000 ventilators would be in demand — more than double what’s available in the state.

 

But Pritzker said efforts to tame the potentially deadly virus, such as his order to close non-essential businesses and keep people from leaving their homes unnecessarily, should temper those numbers. Despite the fiscal hardships, he said he opposed President Donald Trump’s suggestion that such social-distancing practices be lifted soon to spare the U.S. economy.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 250 new cases of the respiratory ailment, a 19% jump from a day earlier, to a total of 1,535. Officials reported four additional deaths Tuesday.

 

Illinois can now process 600 tests daily in four state-run laboratories, up from 50 a day one month ago. Drive-thru, mobile and retail-store testing sites will produce hundreds more and commercial facilities are expanding capacity to 4,300 a day, Pritzker said.

 

But the rapidly spreading illness has outrun containment by testing alone, the governor said.

More than half of the state’s 28,600 hospital beds are occupied, officials said. About 30% of the 2,200 ventilators is in use.

 

In a worst-case scenario, public health officials said that by Monday, the state would need an additional 3,300 beds and 400 ventilators. Just a week after that, the need would grow to 37,600 additional beds, of which 9,400 would have to be ICU, and 4,700 ventilators.

 

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has sent tents to hospitals to serve as triage centers at 66 of the state’s 200 hospitals for evaluating potential COVID-19 patients. Officials from IEMA, the National Guard and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are investigating closed hospitals that could be temporarily re-opened.

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Gov. Pritzker Discusses End to 'Stay At Home' Order

An economic toll is being felt across Illinois and the US as stiff measures are being taken to help slow the spread of coronavirus. As the state’s stay at home order runs into its first-week people are beginning to wonder when enough will be enough.

 

Governor JB Pritzker says he’s aware of the pain being felt by workers and business owners but he has to be able to see real change in the curve of infections before he’s ready to commit to being able to lift the restrictions on April 7th or thereafter.

 

 

The state reported 250 new COVID-19 cases yesterday along with four more deaths.

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Governor Pritzker: Testing Helps Demonstrate the Reach of COVID-19

Testing of Illinoisans continues to grow and show more and more cases across the state and that is intentional according to Governor JB Pritzker.

 

Citing the World Health Organization Director Tuesday at his weekly press conference, Governor Pritzker says testing is essential in helping them know where infections are and isolating those people.

 

 

After sparring with President Donald Trump over the weekend on Twitter, Governor Pritzker says he spoke with the Commander in Chief on the phone and relief is on its way to Illinois.

 

 

Illinois Department of Public Health Director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike says there are 250 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois and four additional deaths attributed to coronavirus.

 

 

1,474 of the 1,535 confirmed Illinois cases are in the Chicago-land area. Deaths worldwide from the coronavirus are approaching 20,000 and in the United States, there are less than 1,000 fatalities as of Tuesday afternoon. 

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Covenant Animal Clinic Remains Open With Restrictions

The state's Shelter At Home order has brought changes to all walks of life, including the medical treatment of pets.  

 

Covenant Animal Clinic in Clinton is open to see patients, however they have announced changes to their operating procedures.  Dr. Sue Sterr notes they are asking non-emergent appointments to reschedule.  She says those customers with pets that need to be seen will be met in the parking lot.

 

 

There has been some misinformation circulating surrounding the novel corona virus, and the potential transmission between humans and animals.  Dr. Sterr says there's been no proof of any of those claims.

 

 

For those needing medical supplies or other items for their pets, Dr. Sterr reminds their customers of their online store.  You can find it, and the latest updates on the clinic's operating procedures at Covenant Animal Clinic IL (dot) com. 

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Love It Once More Offering Assistance To Essential Workers; Still Seeking Donations

A local non-profit thrift store is offering a helping hand to area essential workers.

 

Love It Once More Thrift Store, located on East Route 10 in Clinton, is currently closed due to the ongoing "Shelter At Home" order, however, they still want to help the community.  Owner Koni Lovett says they're offering assistance to essential workers who may not be able to find necessary items.

 

 

In addition, Lovett notes they're also still accepting donations of gently used items for the store.  She expects to see an increased demand for thrift goods, both in the store and in assistance requests.

 

 

Love It Once More Thrift Store has offered assistance to those in need since it opened four years ago.  Requests for assistance can be made via their Facebook page.

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Piatt County Courthouse Closes

In response to Governor J. B. Pritzker's statewide stay-at-home order issued on Friday, the Piatt County courthouse in Monticello announced its closure until further notice. 

 

Piatt County Board Chair Ray Spencer says essential services will still be supported by appointment only. Essential services will be determined by individual officeholders or department heads.

 

This decision is being made due to concern about the potential rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker has recommended that people avoid close contact with one another to limit the spread of the disease, and the closure will protect the health and safety of the courthouse employees as well as the general public.

 

The county recognizes the closure may inconvenience some citizens. However, they also have a responsibility to protect the public. Given that obligation, along with what is known about the COVID-19 virus, this is the right thing to do to keep people safe.

 

Employees will continue to be paid during the time the courthouse remains closed. 

 

Updates will be made available on the Piatt County website at www.piattcounty.org.

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Livingston County Resident Infected with Coronavirus Discusses Disease

The first Livingston County coronavirus patient is speaking out about her experience with the virus. The woman is in her 60s and recently traveled, and is recovering at home in isolation. Wanting to remain anonymous, the woman says she had a fever along with aches and pains and thought she had the flu. She was tested late last week and was positive for COVID-19.

 

 

State health officials have announced over 1,000 confirmed coronavirus cases across Illinois, including 12 deaths.

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National Guard Leader Weighs In On Call to Action

The Illinois National Guard is helping to respond in the fight against COVID-19 across the state. Rumors of what they have been up to and their mission in Illinois has often been passed on Facebook and other social media platforms.

 

Brigadier General Richard Neely, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard wants to dispel rumors of what his members are up too. He says right now there are a few missions, opening a testing station in Rosemont and having engineers assess closed hospitals in case any of them need to be reopened to house patients.

 

 

Neely says they are also helping sort, stock and deliver medical supplies that the state is receiving in big shipments.

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Congresswoman Bustos Weighs in on Stimulus Package Talks

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos wants a stimulus package to include a number of tools for small businesses with an emphasis on maintaining employees.

 

 

The Senate has been unable to reach a deal on the stimulus package. Another attempt stalled Monday.

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Ag Exempted From 'Stay At Home' Order

Among the exemptions included in Governor J.B. Pritzker’s “stay at home” order are those that work in agriculture. And you do not need any special paper-work from the state says Mark Gebhards, Director of Governmental Affairs & Commodities for Illinois Farm Bureau.

 

 

For more information or frequently asked questions about the governor’s “stay at home order” you can visit “coronavirus.illinois.gov”.

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Gov. Pritzker Updates Illinois on Equipment Requests to Battle Coronavirus Outbreak

To get more needed equipment to Illinois healthcare providers fighting the coronavirus outbreak, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has announced a few new initiatives for the State of Illinois.

 

The Governor at his daily press conference announced the formation of the COVID-19 response fund and the essential equipment task force. These groups will work to begin producing needed materials for production in Illinois and to purchase needed equipment.

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced more cases in Illinois and three more deaths to bring the state's total to 12 fatalities and almost 1,300 cases.

 

 

1,167 out of the total 1285 confirmed cases are in the Chicago-land area with seven cases in McLean County, four cases in Sangamon County and two cases in Champaign County.

 

Illinois has now tested nearly 10,000 people. In DeWitt and Piatt Counties, tests are now up to 13 negative tests and five pending tests. 

 

Worldwide fatalities are now over 16,000. 512 in the United States (as of 3:30 pm Monday). 

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DeWitt Sheriff: We Are Not Checking Papers

The Governor's "Shelter At Home" order has caused some confusion, and social media rumors, in regards to authorities supposedly making random traffic stops to ensure compliance with the order.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker says the rumors are false.  Law enforcement officials are not making random stops.

 

 

In fact, Sheriff Walker encourages residents to get out of the house for a bit.  However, he says to do so with proper social distancing in mind.

 

 

While authorities are not making random stops to check where you are heading, they will continue to make traffic stops and pull vehicles over for offenses.  

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Warner Hospital CEO Addresses Scrutinized Issues Surrounding Coronavirus

PPE, access to tests kits, ventilators and Italy's spike in deaths are among the heavily scrutinized aspects of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

 

A local healthcare professional says there's validity to some of the criticism and then there are something things that do not correlate. CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, Paul Skowron indicates PPE and masks and gowns for frontline medical staff are in short supply in some parts of the country but in Clinton, they recently received requested equipment. 

 

 

Test kits are in short supply across the country and that includes Clinton. Many say that is because those are going to the hardest-hit areas and Skowron is hoping that issue gets solved soon.

 

 

Many believe the United States is on a similar trajectory as Italy but Skowron believes social distancing initiatives in the US plus quick action by the Government is going to help America avoid disaster.

 

 

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker Friday issued a shelter from home declaration for Illinois residents that started Saturday. As of Sunday, Illinois had 1049 confirmed cases in Illinois with nine deaths and 8374 people tested.

 

The United State's Surgeon General said Sunday 9 out of 10 people who exhibit symptoms associated with the coronavirus and get tested receive a negative test result. 

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Coronavirus Within The Department A Concern For Local First Responders

The ongoing situation surrounding the corona virus has local first responders doing their best to not only serve the public, but also ensure the safety of their departments. 

 

It was announced last week that area firefighters would be responding to calls in personal protective gear.  Fritz Robinson, of the Kenney Fire Department, explains...

 

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker stresses that the county's first responders are here to serve residents.  However, he worries about what an infection within his department could mean to those services.

 

 

Robinson agrees that those concerns are on the minds of all small local departments.  He says Kenney Fire is taking plenty of precautions.

 

 

DeWitt County and Clinton law enforcement announced last week an additional step to try to ensure departmental safety.  They will only be responding to high priority calls, while low priority calls will be handled via phone.  Sheriff Walker says it's another example of social distancing.

 

 

Local officials continue to encourage residents to also follow the guidelines of the CDC and state officials by limiting travel, and exposure to others.  

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Center Street Project To Be Delayed as Bids Come in Over Budget

The $1-million Center Street project in Clinton will be the next big infrastructure project for the community's streets but it will be delayed as bids came in over budget.

 

Public Works Director Steve Lobb indicates there was only one bid that came but is not sure why that is. Regardless, it was not a favorable bid and so the City is going to have to reject the bid and all but start over.

 

 

According to Lobb, the bids for asphalt came in higher than they budgeted for, and he points out they intentionally budgeted high. He also points out, efforts to preserve current adequate curb pieces seemed to hurt their bid.

 

 

Lobb is recommending paving South Center Street, getting North Center Street ready but remove the resurfacing from the plans. He explains they could save around $360,000 with this plan.

 

 

The next bidding cycle comes up again in late April. Lobb adds the timeline of getting work done by Apple n' Pork weekend. He is hopeful by making the project focused on just on concrete work, that will open it up to more than one contractor. He says they must receive more than one bid. 

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Pritzker Looking at Extending State Tax Deadline

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HIS OFFICE IS LOOKING INTO EXTENDING THE TAX FILING DEADLINE IN ILLINOIS.

 

STATE TAXES ARE DUE APRIL 15TH…BUT GIVEN THE CURRENT SITUATION WITH THE CORONAVIRUS, THAT COULD BE PUSHED TO A LATER DATE. GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THEY DO HAVE SOME CONCERNS TO WORK OUT.

 

 

THE I-R-S HAS EXTENDED THE DEADLINE TO JULY 15TH FOR FEDERAL TAXES.

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Gov. Pritzker Encourages Healthy Illinoisians to Volunteer

If you are a healthy college student or worker laid-off during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker encourages you to volunteer in your community.

 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker in his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Sunday indicated healthy individuals can volunteer in numerous capacities during this crisis. Those interested can visit serve.illinois.gov for a list of organizations in your area needing help.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker also asked for healthy Illinoisians to consider donating blood. With blood drives being canceled across the country, the Red Cross is seeking blood donors during the pandemic.

 

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 296 new cases of coronavirus disease in Illinois, including an infant. IDPH also announced three deaths.  The deaths included a Cook County man in his 80s, a Chicago man in his 80s, and a McLean County woman in her 70s.  Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,049 cases in 30 counties in Illinois.  The age of cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years.  

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Gov. Pritzker Asking for Former Medical Providers 'To Join Fight Against COVID-19'

Governor J.B. Pritzker is asking for reinforcements to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

 

In his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Saturday, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a "call to action" for former healthcare workers who recently left the field to return. Gov. Pritzker indicated they will be waiving fees and expediting licensures.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker noted medical providers whose licensees are set to expire will be automatically extended through September 30. Healthcare professionals practicing on Illinois' borders will be allowed to serve on either side of the border wherever they are needed most.

 

 

The Stay at Home order goes into effect today (Saturday) at 5 pm CST. The Governor encourages anyone with questions to visit coronavirus.illinois.gov.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health today announced 168 new cases including the death of a Cook County man in his 70s. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 753 cases
in 26 counties in Illinois. Cases have occurred in ages 3 to 99.

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Water Company Says Don't Flush Wipes

The public’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic may be having an adverse effect on your plumbing. As stores run out of toilet paper, many are resorting to using disinfecting wipes, and flushing them down the toilet. A spokesman with Illinois American Water Company says that can eventually cause clogs and damage to your sewer system.

 

Another issue, company spokesman Karen Cotton says, is more people pouring grease, fat or oil down the drain.

 

 

The company advises you to allow grease to cool and use a rubber scraper to remove the fat, oil and grease from cookware, plates, utensils and cooking surfaces. Then place the grease in a sealed container and dispose of it in the trash. And to install baskets/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and empty them into the trash.

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Farm Groups Pushing Through To Meet Demand

Farmer groups aiming to avoid disrupting the meat supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. And conversations continue with packing plants and government officials as part of a strategy to keep grocery meat cases stocked says Illinois Beef Association Executive Vice President Jill Johnson.

 

 

Increased retail demand for meat has offset drops in the number of people eating out due to statewide restaurant closures. In fact, grocery stores sell out as quickly as they can refill meat cases. High demand isn’t necessarily translating to higher income for farmers, though. In fact, doubts cast by the coronavirus outbreak have weighed down the prices farmers receive. Market prices for both hogs and cattle are down at least 30% since the beginning of the year.

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Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative Offers College Scholarships

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative is looking to award two $1,000 college scholarships to children of its members.

 

Applicants must be high school seniors, high school graduates or college undergraduates. They must be enrolled or planning to enroll in a full-time course of study at an accredited four-year college or university or a two-year program at a technical, junior or community college. The area of study does not need to be in agriculture.

 

Only dependents of Edge members qualify.

 

The application with full guidelines is available at www.voiceofmilk.com. Applications must be postmarked by May 1. For more information, contact Nicole Barlass at (920) 883-0020 x104 or nbarlass@voiceofmilk.com.

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Governor Pritzker Issues Executive Order Mandating "Shelter at Home; Many Essential Tasks and Services Still Allowed

Unless you need to go to the gas station, pharmacy, grocery store, and make essential trips, the State of Illinois is asking you to stay home for the next few weeks.

 

Governor JB Pritzker Friday afternoon indicates starting Saturday at 5 pm, this will go into effect. Read the full text of his Executive Order, showing what are "essential" tasks and services that can still be performed, by clicking here.

 

He says there are still places people can go but that list is limited.

 

 

If you are not yet working from home but can, you should according to the Governor. Pritzker says this is about supporting the people on the front lines.

 

 

Another Illinois resident has died from the coronavirus. Pritzker indicates the victim was a woman from Cook County in her 70s. There are also 163 new cases of coronavirus disease in Illinois, including the death of a Cook County woman in her 70s. Three additional counties are now reporting cases; Adams, Christian, and McLean counties.     

 

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 585 cases in 25 counties in Illinois. Cases have occurred in ages 3 to 99. 

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Warner Hospital Keeping Family Medicine Clinic Open

If you have general health issues that need attention not related to the coronavirus, the Warner Hospital's Family Medicine walk-in clinic is going to remain open for the time being.

 

CEO Paul Skowron says they want to continue to be available to the community for their general illnesses right now but don't be upset when they ask you to wear a mask and answer some questions if you come in.

 

 

Access to test kits has been a major issue throughout the United States' outbreak and Skowron explains, once those kits come in, they will be using the Fire Department's MABAS tent for testing of individuals to keep people out of the hospital.

 

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert told Regional Radio he firmly believed the coronavirus was in our community, they just haven't found it yet. Skowron believes Remmert is right and says it is a matter of time before they get a positive test. 

 

As of Friday, Remmert indicated there had been 15 tests administered in DeWitt County and Piatt County and so far there were no positive tests. Six tests have come back negative and nine are pending. 

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DeWitt County Building Open; But Call Ahead

The DeWitt County Courthouse remains open, but county officials are encouraging residents to call ahead.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker explains officials are trying to limit the amount of traffic through the County Building.  He says if you do need to do business with the county, then be prepared for additional screening.

 

 

Traffic within the DeWitt County building has already diminished.  Sheriff Walker credits that to the decision last week to delay minor court cases.

 

 

Again, if you need to do business at the DeWitt County building, please call ahead to the office you plan to visit.

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DeWitt County Board Chair on Coronavirus: We Are Ready

DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg is reassuring the community County leadership is on high alert and meeting multiple times throughout the week to stay on top of the ever-developing and changing coronavirus outbreak.

 

Newberg told Regional Radio News Friday on the WHOW Morning Show the county has fantastic leadership and everyone is working together and at the ready for anything this outbreak could bring our way.

 

 

The DeWitt County Board canceled their Thursday night meeting because of state and federal recommendations to not have gatherings of more than 10 people and Newberg says the status of future meetings is up in the air because of the fluidity of this situation.

 

 

The DeWitt County Board's finance committee met earlier in the week and according to Newberg, they took care of as much business to make sure the County was going to get by. 

 

As of Friday at noon, there were no positive tests for coronavirus in DeWitt County. 

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Clinton Country Club Offering Curbside Service; Golf Course to Remain Open

The Clinton Country Club will be open to members for curbside food pickup and golfing.

 

With the clubhouse closed to the public, Ted Morris, Clinton Country Club director, indicates they will be offering a smaller lunch and dinner menu. A fish and chicken dinner will be available on Friday nights. Food will be served by curbside delivery for members.

 

 

Morris indicates as the weather gets better the golf course will be open. He advises members to practice social distancing and sanitize golf carts before use.

 

 

Morris notes they are low staffed right now due to the weather. He says with the clubhouse closed he and his employees are working to sanitize everything for when they can reopen.

 

 

Morris says the country club celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He hopes this summer they can plan some sort of celebration.

 

 

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Local Health Director Breaks Down State Coronavirus Numbers

Earlier this week, Illinois reported the first death from the coronavirus, but otherwise, cases have been mostly mild.

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert indicates Illinois is seeing the trends with the coronavirus reflect the worldwide date of older people being the most impacted by the virus. Remmert's comments reflect the tallies as of Wednesday evening. 

 

 

Comparing the coronavirus to other diseases in the United States, Remmert maintains it is still not a very deadly disease, however, he hopes people continue to take the advice of state and federal leaders and practices social distancing to protect older folks and those with compromised immune systems.

 

 

Many point to Italy as a blueprint for what could be coming for Americans but Remmert does not believe the situation in American will ever get that serious. He attributes it to three things...

 

 

Remmert quote - "firmly believes" the coronavirus is in our community, it just has not been tested positive for yet. He says they have administered around ten tests locally with no positive tests so far. 

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Local Dentists Told by American Dental Association to Close to Mitigate COVUS-19 Outbreak

Local dental offices have been instructed by the American Dental Association, to close except for extreme emergency cases due to the possibility of contracting the coronavirus.

The A-D-A on their web site, told their member dental offices around the country, to have patients postpone elective procedures to, quoting the statement on their web site, "mitigate the spread of COVID-19." End of quote.

The A-D-A added that the guidance they're giving their members may change as the pandemic progresses.

Best bet is to call your dentist in the event you have a previously scheduled appointment, to see whether they are open.

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Three More Deaths in Illinois from Coronavirus

Three more individuals have died from the coronavirus in Illinois.

 

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and State Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezika announced two were in the Chicago area and one in Sangamon County.

 

 

Governor Pritzker calls the growth of cases exponential and will not abate soon. There are now at 422.

 

 

There are 134 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across Illinois.  Five additional counties are now reporting cases; Jackson, Kankakee, LaSalle, Washington, and  Williamson counties. The individuals include a Will County resident in his 50s and a Cook County resident in her 80s, and an out-of-state resident in her 70s who was in Sangamon County.

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Clinton Police, DeWitt Sheriff Adjusting Response to Calls

In response to the coronavirus outbreak and to keep local law enforcement officers safe, the Clinton Police Department and the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office are adjusting how they respond to calls from the public.

 

In a release late Thursday, DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker and Police Chief Ben Lowers indicate they will only be responding to high priority calls. Those include violent crimes, in-progress calls with offenders on scene and traffic crashes or serious injury incidents.

 

Low priority calls will be handled via phone and those include delayed incidents with no offender on a scene or an incident that is not in progress, civil matters or calls where a police report is requested.

If a call requires the response of an officer to the scene, callers are asked to meet the police officer or sheriff's deputy outside. 

 

For incidents that can be taken care of over the telephone, authorities are asking residents to not come to the Sheriff's office and police department. Additionally, if you have had a fever in the last week, been to a country where the coronavirus is spreading or been in contact with someone who has, and if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or been with people who have the flu, you are asked to not come to the Sheriff's office or the police department. 

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Monticello Chamber of Commerce Updating Community on COVID-19

The Monticello Chamber of Commerce is providing local businesses with resources for operating during this unprecedented time.

 

Shelly Stock, Executive Director of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce, indicates the Chamber met with public officials and community directors to publish information on how to operate within the state mandates and federal guidelines. 

 

 

Stock says the Chamber has created a page on its website with information and resources for restaurants and other businesses on operating successfully.

 

 

Stock notes they are in the process of updating their Facebook page with all of the local restaurants that are offering carryout and delivery services for patrons.

 

 

For more information visit monticellochamber.org/Covid19.

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DeWitt County Authorities Continue To Monitor CoVid 19 Situation

DeWitt County authorities are meeting regularly to stay on top of the ongoing Covid 19 situation.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker told Regional Radio News Thursday morning that there are no reported cases of the disease linked to Corona-virus within the county.  However, he says county leaders are in constant communication, and meeting in person every other day.

 

 

Sheriff Walker believes DeWitt County has a bit of head start in dealing with the current situation.  He notes the regular emergency drills involving Clinton Power Station means county officials have experience with an emergency scenario.

 

 

DeWitt County officials are encouraging residents to continue to heed the advice of state and federal officials.  Sheriff Walker stresses that the best thing to do right now is to practice social distancing.

 

 

The DeWitt County Building remains open for essential business, however residents are encouraged to call ahead to the office they plan on visiting.  

 

We'll have more on the precautions being implemented at the DeWitt County building in a future report on Regional Radio News.

 


 

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Clinton Schools Announce Thursday Meal Distribution Changes

Due to today’s forecasted weather, Clinton Schools will be changing their plans for daily food distribution.

 

Webster and Countryside Apartments will inside and the district plans to drop off meals in Kenney, Wapella, DeWitt, and Lane.

 

Today from 11 am to 11:15 am, meals will be dropped off at the Kenney Community Center. 

 

From 11:30 am to 11:45 am, meals will be dropped off in Hallsville at the corner of Church Street and Cherry Street. 

 

From noon to 12:15 pm in Wapella, meals can be picked up at the Community Center. 

 

The DeWitt Post Office will serve as the drop off location from 12:35 pm to 12:50 pm. 

 

Then from 1 pm to 1:15 pm, meals can be picked up at Lane Christian Church. 

 

School officials direct folks to their social media platforms for the latest information. 

 

The district will not be delivering meals next week, as it is spring break for the students. 

 

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County Clerk: Coronavirus Did Not Deter Local Voters

The spreading coronavirus did not keep voters from getting out to participate in the March Primary Tuesday.

 

That is the message from DeWitt County Clerk, Dana Smith who says she made trips to the various polling places throughout the day Tuesday and says people were out and voting. She felt the turnout was good. 

 

 

Voters came prepared with their ink pens and some even wearing gloves according to Smith.

 

Mail-in ballots and early voting were heavily pushed leading up to the election and Smith says those early voting ballots were counted as a part of Tuesday's results but they are still waiting on 14 mail-in ballots.

 

Those mail-in ballots have 14 days to get returned. The results of Tuesday's election are likely not to change. 

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Clinton Fire MABAS Tent Set Up Outside Warner Hospital's Family Medicine Building Just Precautionary

Preparing for the worst but hoping for the best means taking precautionary measures, like taking up the Clinton Fire Department on their offer to set up their all-weather MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) tent outside Warner Hospital's Family Medicine Center.

 

Monday night at the Clinton City Council Meeting, Commissioner of Public Safety Dan Ballenger and hospital CEO Paul Skowron did a little networking and the hospital has taken up the fire department on an offer made.

 

 

Skowron indicated Monday the hospital is beginning to take measures to make sure their facility can handle an influx in cases.

 

 

The Fire Department has been preparing for the virus as their first responders could end up on the scene with someone that has been exposed or infected with the virus and so they are taking precautions to gear their guys up for such a scenario.

 

 

Ballenger adds the Department has closed to the public until further notice.

 

Skowron indicates other areas of the hospital could become triage in the event there is a spike in coronavirus cases locally. 

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IHSA hopeful spring sports can eventually resume; calendar may have to be modified

The executive director of the IHSA is hopeful the spring sports season can eventually resume. All games and practices have come to a halt with mandatory school closures through March 30th. If and when play resumes, Craig Anderson says there could be a modification to the spring season calendar.

 

 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; baseball and softball games could have started this week.

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Federal and state rules relaxed to help trucks move during COVID-19 response

Trucks should be flowing more freely after a couple of moves by the federal and state government.

 

 

That’s Kirby Wagner, who serves as assistant director of transportation for the Illinois Farm Bureau.

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New website launched to inform the public about COVID-19

THE STATE IS LAUNCHING A NEW WEBSITE WITH INFORMATION FOR THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS.

 

THE WEBPAGE IS CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV AND INCLUDES DAILY CASE TOTALS AND MORE SAYS GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER.

 

 

HAVE QUESTIONS? CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV AIMS TO ANSWER MANY OF THEM SAYS GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER.

 

 

THAT INCLUDES HOW TO PREPARE YOUR FAMILY SHOULD THEY NEED TO BE ISOLATED, PREVENTING SPREAD OF THE VIRUS AT WORK AND AT HOME AND HOW TO FILE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IF YOU CAN’T WORK BECAUSE OF THE OUTBREAK. THE WEBSITE AGAIN IS: CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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Clinton City Administrator Sympathizes With Business Owners Stances

Local business owners were not thrilled to receive a decree from Illinois Governor JB Pritzker to close down for two to aid in efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Monday and Tuesday, local business owner Joe Sartie found himself in a whirlwind of controversy as he declared he would not be closing his door to the public and would be at Snappers Bar and Grill by himself to serve his customers. City Administrator Tim Followell says he certainly understands the feelings of Sartie and others.

 

 

Followell is critical of the Governor's actions as he feels it was an overreaction to the people of Chicago and other parts of the region and country who stilled gathered for a St. Patrick's Day celebration despite calls for isolation.

 

While some do not like it, the State of Illinois needs Chicago. Followell hopes we can all come together and defeat this virus. 

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Clinton Grocery Stores "Fighting On"

Despite unprecedented events in recent days, Clinton's grocery stores are doing their best to step up to the plate. 

 

Dave Jackson, Owner of Clinton Save A Lot, hasn't seen anything like the recent run on supplies in his decades of grocery experience.  He says a little foresight late last week had their store as prepared as they could be for the rush of shoppers.

 

 

Donnie Chapman, Store Manager for Kirby Foods' Clinton IGA, says his team is tired, but they are doing their best to keep shelves stocked, and the store clean.

 

 

Amidst all of the rush, Jackson commends not only the response of his team but also that of the Clinton community.  

 

 

Both stores are seeing some shortages in a few supplies, but both continue to receive regular shipments.  Chapman says bread and bath tissue have been the hardest to keep on the shelf.

 

 

There are some limits in place for high demand items.  Jackson explains the sudden spike in demand was a shock to the distribution system and feels his job is to ensure supplies continue to make their way to Clinton.

 

 

Both store representatives have been encouraged by the response of the Clinton community, and they continue to ask customers to only buy what they need.  They also encourage customers to share a kind word with their team members keeping shelves stocked as best as possible.

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Clinton School District Distributing Meals to Families

With school meaning two meals a day for many students in the community, Clinton schools are making sure they provide this opportunity with classes suspended.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles indicates Drew Goebel and Steve Hamilton have spearheaded the meal distribution initiative. Students can pick up a sack containing lunch and breakfast each day school is not in session.

 

 

Nettles says the meals are available for pickup from 11 am-1 pm this week at the Clinton Junior High School, Lincoln Elementary School, Douglas Elementary School, Webster Apartments, and Countryside Apartments.

 

 

Nettles notes next week is spring break and the district will not be distributing meals during spring break. The Neighborhood Care Center will be open during spring break for families who need their assistance.

 

 

Nettles indicates the district is preparing themselves for schools to be closed longer and will continue to provide breakfast and lunch each day school is suspended.

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Governor Demands Action from Feds or to 'Get Out of the Way'

There is continued frustration with the federal response to COVID-19 from the Pritzker Administration. 

 

The Governor says the federal government is monopolizing supplies and not providing them to states when it comes to expanding testing. JB Pritzker says he wants to be able to test more people, especially in vulnerable populations to help contain the spread of the virus.


 

 

Pritzker says medical and research institutions in Illinois have been ready to help in expending testing and they have run into roadblocks set up by the federal government.

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Heavy Rains Expected in Illinois This Week

Illinois is set to receive a significant amount of rainfall over the next week.

 

 

DTN chief agriculture meteorologist Bryce Anderson says it won’t be just one event bringing all that rain over the next seven days, he predicts as many as three different weather systems will impact certain parts of the state over that time period.

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First Illinois Coronavirus Death Reported in Illinois

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING THE FIRST CORONAVIRUS-RELATED DEATH IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE VICTIM IS A WOMAN IN HER 60’S FROM CHICAGO WHO HAD AN UNDERLYING MEDICAL CONDITION. SHE TESTED POSITIVE EARLIER THIS MONTH SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay).

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THERE HAS ALSO BEEN AN OUTBREAK AT A LONG-TERM CARE FACILITY IN DUPAGE COUNTY.

 

 

THERE ARE NOW 160 CONFIRMED CASES OF COVID-19 IN 15 ILLINOIS COUNTIES. 

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Dollar General Adjusting Hours in Response to COVID-19

Dollar General in Clinton will be adjusting their hours to better serve their senior patrons.

 

Crystal Ghassemi, Dollar General Spokesperson, says they are asking patrons to dedicate the first hour they are open from 8 am-9 am for seniors only. Ghassemi indicates this is to ensure seniors can have a safe shopping experience.

 

 

Ghassemi notes Dollar General will now be closing an hour earlier each day for them to properly sanitize the store and restock shelves. Dollar General will be closing at 8 pm now.

 

 

Dollar General's new hours are 8 am-9 am for seniors, and 9 am-8 pm for everyone.

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Clinton Grocery Stores "Fighting On"

Despite unprecedented events in recent days, Clinton's grocery stores are doing their best to step up to the plate. 

 

Dave Jackson, Owner of Clinton Save A Lot, hasn't seen anything like the recent run on supplies in his decades of grocery experience.  He says a little foresight late last week had their store as prepared as they could be for the rush of shoppers.

 

 

Donnie Chapman, Store Manager for Kirby Foods' Clinton IGA, says his team is tired, but they are doing their best to keep shelves stocked, and the store clean.

 

 

Amidst all of the rush, Jackson commends not only the response of his team but also that of the Clinton community.  

 

 

Both stores are seeing some shortages in a few supplies, but both continue to receive regular shipments.  Chapman says bread and bath tissue have been the hardest to keep on the shelf.

 

 

There are some limits in place for high demand items.  Jackson explains the sudden spike in demand was a shock to the distribution system and feels his job is to ensure supplies continue to make their way to Clinton.

 

 

Both store representatives have been encouraged by the response of the Clinton community, and they continue to ask customers to only buy what they need.  They also encourage customers to share a kind word with their team members keeping shelves stocked as best as possible.

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Ritter Out; Newberg, Wickenhauser Survive In Tight DeWitt County Board Races But Votes Remain with Early Voting Still to be Counted

Cole Ritter is out in District A of the DeWitt County Board and Board Chair David Newberg and Jay Wickenhauser survived a tight race in District C for the DeWitt County Board in the Tuesday, March Primary Election.

 

The tallies are not final as early voting was promoted heavily leading up to the election with fears of the coronavirus swirling around this election. 

 

Megan Myers, a candidate endorsed by the group DeWitt County Residents Against Wind Turbines in DeWitt County came away as the top vote-getter in the Republican race in District C with 350 votes and 21.6-percent of the vote, followed closely by Jay Wickenhauser who received 337 votes (20.8-percent) and then David Newberg with 337 votes (20.68-percent). 

 

There was only a 24-percent voter turnout for the primary on the Republican ticket in District C.

Incumbent Cole Ritter is out in District A. The Republican received only 15-percent of the vote with 262 tallies. Buck Carter, Jamie Prestegaard, and Aaron Kammeyer were overwhelming winners as there was 27-percent voter turnout in District A for the Republican ticket with 1708 total votes counted. 

 

Carter, Kammeyer, and Prestegaard will be challenged by Democrats Lance Reece and Camille Redman, the only candidates on the Democratic ticket.

 

In District C, Myers, Newberg, and Wickenhauser will be opposed by Scott Nimmo from the Democratic ticket in District C.

 

Incumbent State's Attorney Dan Markwell defeated Stephanie Scoles by a vote of 1235-1103. A 23-percent voter turnout for the race. 

 

Again, the tallies are not final as early voting was heavily pushed in Illinois because of the coronavirus scare. 

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Snapper's Bar and Grill Complies With Governor's Order - 'We Don't Like It But We're Doing Our Best in a Trying Time'

Snapper's Bar and Grill made the nationwide publication thedailybeast.com for their stance of not closing at the order of Governor JB Pritzker.

 

Owner Joe Sartie told Regional Radio News Monday morning Tuesday morning was going to be business as usual. 

 

In an article in The Daily Beast, Sartie claimed the Health Department had 'verbally suspended him pending a hearing' however, DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert told Regional Radio News Snapper's has not been suspended and that he has never had to verbally suspend a business, though the Department can do it. 

 

Sartie's father, Carm Sartie spoke to Regional Radio News indicating the bar was his, saying quote "We don't like it but we're complying."

 

Pritzker's order allowed restaurants the option of continuing to make food and offer curbside pickup or delivery. Carm told Regional Radio, quote- "we're selling food to ppl that order and we'll bring it to the door and they can take it home. Were working on a system to take it to their house but we don't have it worked out yet."

 

Sartie added, quote "we're trying to do the best we can in a trying time."

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Clinton High School Leaders Offer Tips For Students

We are in unprecedented times right now and as students across the state stay home from school, Clinton Schools officials are offering tips for them to keep a positive mindset.

 

Clinton High School Principal Jerry Wayne says this will be a time in history we always are a part of and hopes the students will stay the course.

 

 

The fear of the coronavirus could be a real thing for young people according to Katy Arnold, who is the Director of the Clinton Academy through Clinton High School. She recommends students get outside and take a walk when they can and continue communicating with their friends even though they can't be together at school.

 

 

Wayne says the last week has been outside the norm as they have been scrambling to make sure they are still providing the best educational opportunities for their students. They were focused on doing what was best for the students and ensuring their safety. 

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Clinton City Hall To Limit Visitors

Most of the visitors that come through City Hall are often seeking information about the water department and if that describes you, officials are asking you to either call or wait until the threat of the coronavirus has passed.

 

Tim Followell tells Regional Radio News, Clinton City Hall has closed City Hall to the public to fall in line with requests from state and federal leadership to limit crowds. 

 

 

Followell encourages conducting any business online such as bill payment or to contact City Hall by phone if you need further assistance. 

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Baum Chevy Buick Announces GM Offering Free In Vehicle Wifi

As the nation continues to battle the corona-virus, General Motors has announced that any GM vehicle with an active On-Star subscription is eligible for free wifi service.  Scott Baum, owner of Baum Chevy Buick in Clinton, explains...

 

 

As for the local dealership, Baum says they are remaining open for business with added precautions in place for both customer and employee safety.

 

 

If you have questions about how to access the wifi in your vehicle, you can contact Baum Chevy Buick in Clinton.

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ALAH Celebrate Agriculture Breakfast Canceled

An annual fundraiser set for this weekend in the southern Piatt County area has been canceled.

 

The ALAH FFA Alumni Association's "Celebrate Agriculture Breakfast" scheduled for Saturday in Atwood will not be held.  Association President, Jim Fleming, says the host facility closed it's building.

 

 

The breakfast is one of several fundraisers used to fund scholarships for present or past FFA students in the Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond district.  Fleming says the cancellation is disappointing, but the scholarships will go on.

 

 

In fact, ALAH FFA Alumni scholarship applications are currently available.  Applications are due by March 27th, and can be acquired by contacting the ALAH school guidance counselor via email, or by calling Jim Fleming at 217-791-1026.

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DeWitt County Housing Authority Issues Suggestions for Protection from Coronavirus

The DeWitt County Housing Authority is doing its part to protect its residents from exposure to the coronavirus outbreak as health officials say we should prepare for this like it is in our communities.

 

In a Tuesday release, Chris Ware indicates their janitorial staff is regularly disinfecting their commons areas, bathrooms, elevators, and lobbies. They are also stopping rooms reservations, a move that prompted the DeWitt County Clerk to move polling places for the Tuesday election.

 

With a vast amount of information circulating about this virus outbreak, the Housing Authority is pointing residents to the CDC website for how to best prevent infection. 

 

Residents with undiagnosed respiratory symptoms to avoid common areas and encourage visitors to limit interactions with elderly residents and those that have pre-existing health conditions. Ware asks anyone sick to stay away from the building.

 

If individuals are under self-isolation or quarantine, they are asked to inform the housing authority.

The Housing Authority also asks residents who may be displaying flu-like symptoms to seek medical attention.

 

Residents or community members with concerns can contact the Housing Authority at 217-935-8804. Ware will continue to communicate with residents regarding the latest processes as the situation evolves. 

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105 Coronavirus Cases Now in Illinois

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS BANNING GATHERINGS OF MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE IN ILLINOIS IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS. 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE LATEST UPDATE FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP AND HEALTH OFFICIALS RECOMMENDS PEOPLE AVOID CROWDS OF MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THEY ARE TRYING TO MAKE THE BEST DECISIONS THEY CAN.

 

 

THERE ARE NOW 105 CONFIRMED CASES OF CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS IN ILLINOIS IN 15 COUNTIES INCLUDING PEORIA AND WILL COUNTIES NOW.

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Warner Hospital Scaling Back Services to Protect Patients, Community

Warner Hospital officials are preparing for the coronavirus like it is already here.

 

CEO Paul Skowron updated the Clinton City Council Monday night at their second meeting of the month on the measures they are taking to protect their patients and the community. He says like most situations of this magnitude, they continue to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

 

 

According to Skowron, they will begin limiting some of their services to help minimize the potential spread of germs. Additionally, they will be taking the recommendation of the Surgeon General and not doing elective surgeries.

 

 

The patient flow into the facility is going to slow down as well. Like many assisted living facilities, Warner Hospital will limit visits to people in the hospital and Skowron notes they are requiring their visitors to wear a mask.

 

 

Illinois officials are keeping in close communication with Illinois hospitals to make sure they are up to speed on the latest developments in this expanding epidemic. Skowron adds they may ultimately have to repurpose some of their facility for triage in the event things expand rapidly in DeWitt County. 

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Warner Library To Close Until March 30

As area agencies begin to ramp up efforts to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a Clinton business has decided they should close their doors for two weeks.

 

Warner Library will be closed starting Tuesday, March 17 until March 30 per other efforts by Illinois officials to keep people socially isolated to stop the spread of the virus.

 

Patrons are encouraged to utilize online resources like the Hoopla app for books, music, and movies and the library announced they are boosting their wi-fi signal for patrons to gain access to in their parking lot. 

 

Additionally, the library is considering drive-up services, however, no decision on that has been made at this time.

 

The library encourages following the recommendations of President Trump and Governor Pritzker to not congregate in groups of ten or more and practice safe social distancing and stay home as much as possible.

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DeWitt County Election Preview

The DeWitt County election was one of the most talked-about local issues but in the last week has since been completely overshadowed by the spread of the coronavirus and the fallout from its spread in Illinois.

 

This election figures to be very crucial with the top issue for voters being the wind farm. Candidates were invited to join the WHOW morning show the last few weeks and some took advantage of the opportunity and others did not.

 

Incumbents believe the wind farm is a big issue for the county but not the only issue. Scott Nimmo heads the County Board's property committee and says they have a lot that will need to be done in the year ahead, including a new roof to be installed on the courthouse.

 

 

The County Highway Department will be embarking on a reconstruction project of County High 1, or Revere Road. Cole Ritter says that the project is still a while away out but it will provide much-needed relief to that surface.

 

 

This election has had a major emphasis whether wind farms should be allowed in DeWitt County and Vice-Chair of the DeWitt County Board, Camille Redman says we've been here before and in fact, believes there are candidates that have connections to the former Reform Party that drew a lot of attention and criticism during their majority on the County Board.

 

 

Chairperson of the Public Safety Committee, Lance Reece says the County has a major issue to deal with in the future of ambulance services in Farmer City. The agreement for the service with Arrow Ambulance is set to expire and there are a lot of things to work through with that.

 

 

Jay Wickenahauser chairs the Marina Committee and believes the wind farm is certainly the top priority of this election but doesn't believe it should be. While important, there are many other things going on.

 

 

Visiting the employees and department heads has been a priority of DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg who indicates he likes to keep a pulse on the offices and know what they need or how he and the Board can help them.

 

 

While some of the candidates on the board that is challenging the six incumbents declined to speak with Regional Radio News, Andrea Rhoades who leads the group DeWitt County Residents Against Wind Turbines says the challengers they are endorsing have lots of good ideas for the County Board and doesn't believe they are one-issue candidates.

 

 

Aaron Kammeyer declined an invitation to be a part of the candidate interviews on the WHOW morning show. Megan Myers, Jamie Prestegaard, Steve Oswald, Thomas Koshinski, and Buck Carter did not return messages requesting interviews. 

 

Hear live coverage of the results from the Tuesday primary on 92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, at the WHOW mobile app and at Amazon Alexa starting at 8 pm and until results go final. 

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Clinton Restaurant Vows To Keep Dining Room Open; Health Department To Enforce Mandate

A Clinton bar and grill has caused a stir on social media, vowing to defy Governor Pritzker's order to offer only curbside or drive-thru meals beginning Tuesday in an effort to slow the spread of corona-virus.

 

Joe Sartie, owner of Snapper's Bar & Grill on the Clinton square, says he will open his doors as usual Tuesday morning.

 

 

It's Sartie's belief that the two-week closure will be crippling for small businesses like his.  He feels the seemingly arbitrary closure of businesses is not an adequate plan and expects the economic impact of the closures on local communities will be devastating. 

 

 

However, dining establishments that refuse to comply with the Governor's order could face serious penalties.  Dave Remmert, Executive Director of the DeWitt-Piatt Bi-County Health Department, notes his agency has been tasked to ensure compliance.  He says restaurants disobeying the Executive Order will be turned over to the State's Attorney's office.

 

 

The Executive Order mandating the closure of in-house dining establishments across Illinois goes (went) into effect at 9pm Monday, March 16th.

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DeWitt/Piatt Health Department Director Not Surprised Coronavirus Cases Popping Up in Central Illinois

The Public Health Director the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department is echoing the message from the State Public Health Director that we need to assume this virus is in our communities and take precautions.

 

Dave Remmert expected the coronavirus to make its way to central Illinois and says we should go about our daily lives under the assumption the virus is here and begin to think about the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

 

 

Remmert continues to reference the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 that was particularly bad for people. He indicates this virus is not as destructive to humans as that one and we need to take a step back and have a little perspective.

 

 

Remmert supports the government's attempts to minimize the spread of this virus and feels a nationwide quarantine would be difficult to enforce but hopes people who are sick and can self-quarantine will do so.

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DeWitt County Election Adjustments; Courthouse Operations Suspended; County Board Meeting Thursday Canceled

The continued precautions against the spread of the coronavirus will now impact the Tuesday election in DeWitt County.

 

County Clerk Dana Smith announced today they are closing a pair of polling places and moving them across the street.

 

Clintonia 2 and Clintonia 7 at 520 East Main DeWitt Manor will be moved to 410 E Main St to the DeWitt County Friendship Center.

 

Additionally Monday morning, DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker announced the DeWitt County Courthouse would close to folks wanting to see election results at the close of the polls. Also a part of the closing of the courthouse to the public Tuesday night, the DeWitt County Board's public safety meeting for Wednesday, March 18 at 7 am and the DeWitt County Board meeting for Thursday, March 19 at 6 pm are canceled. 

 

The Clinton Lake Marina is closed until further notice. 

 

Circuit Judge Karle Koritz announced the courthouse will also see reduced operations through March 31. Civil cases, traffic court, criminal misdemeanor cases, probation, small claims court, family court, juvenile cases and miscellaneous remedy cases are all postponed until March 31. 

 

Judge Koritz directs anyone seeking information on their new court dates to visit judici.com. 

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Clinton Schools to Implement Emergency E-Learning Days During Schools Quarantine

As Clinton Schools prepare for at least a two week quarantine from school, they will be required to still complete schoolwork at home thanks to an emergency e-learning plan developed by the district.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles explains they had been preparing for a decree from the Governor for a few weeks and so he sat down with his administration team and put together an e-learning plan in the of when, not if, the Governor closed down schools. The plan was made possible thanks to relaxed protocols by the State Board of Education.

 

 

Many may point to last year when district leadership elected not to adopt an e-learning plan but Nettles indicates because of the unprecedented situation they find themselves in, they needed to do something to make sure they could continue learning and not have to use emergency days.

 

 

There is a possibility Governor Pritzker could extend the schools quarantine beyond March 30 and Nettles indicates they will likely continue to have students taking on at-home learning. He points out they will make their teachers available through email and other means to have contact with parents and students.

 

 

Nettles credits his teachers for their willingness to make sure they are prepared for this unprecedented event and are trying to make the most of this situation.

 

The second week of this quarantine is spring break for Clinton students and Nettles encourages parents to allow kids a break from the at-home learning and let them relax and recharge. 

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Maroon and Gold Flight Team Climbing to New Heights

A STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiative adopted by Clinton High School has led to the formation of a new program, The Maroon and Gold Flight Team.

 

(Pictured left to right: Mr. Baldwin, Evan Woods, Ethan Aughenbaugh, Logan Deerwester and Grant Wilson)

 

The group features around a half-a-dozen students who are mentored by physics teacher Rodger Baldwin and he indicates last year, they were able to invest an initial $2,000 to $3,000 to begin building and programming drones.

 

 

Junior at Clinton High Schoo, Evan Woods does a lot of the programming work on the drones and indicates he was able to step in and help the group get things going in the direction they wanted. He says there is a lot of trial and error and eventually he got used to it.

 

 

Logan Deerwester is a sophomore in the program and indicates he is still getting his feet wet by learning to fly the drones. He explains there is a big learning curve going from their simulator to flying the drone but adds the drone and the simulator have some differences that show up in the transition from to the other.

 

 

Senior Grant Wilson has learned to fix the drones when something breaks. He says there's a lot of small wiring and sod work that goes into fixing the drones. His background working in his dad's mechanics shop helped him in developing his skills with the flight team. 

 

 

According to Ethan Aughenbaugh, the students in the club will set up a course in a gym they will race a course they've set up. He indicates they are also keeping times on their simulator.

 

 

Baldwin calls this a great project that brings together students with different skills and coming together and working together. He explains he got the kids started and then they took almost everything from there with the skills and knowledge they have. 

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Red Cross in Need of Donations

The American Red Cross is putting out a call for healthy individuals to donate blood and platelets. The COVID-19 concerns have apparently caused some blood drives to be canceled out of concerns for public health and safety, but a spokesman with the organization reminds there are still opportunities to give at donation centers.

 

Joe Zydlo says they have instituted extra precautions.

 

 

Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or by going to redcrossblood.org.

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CORONAVIRUS EMPHASIZES CHALLENGES FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES

The Coronavirus outbreak sending workers and students home emphasizes the need for quality broadband access in rural America. NAFB's Micheal Clements has more…

 

 

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Congressional Candidate in Self-Isolation

One woman in Springfield has identified herself as having COVID-19. Lisa Badger was tested on Thursday and Friday in Springfield and is now quarantined in her home.

 

Badger, a Springfield Park District Trustee, says she will remain isolated for the next two weeks. Badger had been at a major event in Springfield on March 8th, a woman’s march that was held outside the Illinois State Capitol. One of the people she came into contact with was Democratic Congressional Candidate Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan.

 

She says she will be self-isolating for 14 days.

 

 

Londrigan’s name is on the Tuesday ballot for Congress. With a win, she would be in a rematch against Republican Rodney Davis for seat in the 13th Congressional district.

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Governor Pritzker Orders Closure of Bars, Restaurants

The response to the growing number of cases of the coronavirus led to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker closing Illinois bars and restaurants effective at the close of business Monday night and to last until Monday, March 30.

 

Governor Pritzker was disappointed his pleas for Illinois residents to remain home did not resonate and so he called the decision to close restaurants and bars difficult but necessary.

 

 

Additionally, 29 new cases of coronavirus are in Illinois and the cases include new areas of Illinois. Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says Champaign County is among counties will first-time cases along with cases now more widespread in southern Illinois.

 

 

Dr. Ezike says to assume the virus is in your community. She continues to remind residents to practice safe health habits if you must go out and points out the virus seems to impact people with severe chronic health conditions the most. 

 

 

Additionally, the Governor urged healthy individuals to give blood as the American Red Cross is reporting a severe blood shortage. He indicates they are taking proper precautions to keep individuals at a safe distance in those settings.

 

The number of Illinois counties with the coronavirus is now 13. 

 

Hear Governor JB Pritzker's daily press briefings on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, at the WHOW mobile app and at Amazon Alexa. The briefings are held daily at 2:30 though some days they are adjusted. 

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BREAKING: Weldon Springs, Clinton Lake Close As Part of State Announcement of Closure of State Parks

Bars and restaurants and now state parks are among the sweeping closures in the State of Illinois as officials try to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Department of Natural Resources Police Sargeant John Williamson says barricades will be placed at the entrances of DeWitt County's Weldon Springs State Park and Clinton Lake. He indicates with the nice weather, the popularity of the parks will grow and become a gathering place for groups of all sizes.

 

 

The closures begin today and are indefinite. Any events at Illinois State Parks are effectively canceled. You can contact the Department of Natural Resources Parks administrative line at 217-782-6752. 

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WHOW to Carry Governor Pritzker's Daily News Conference on Coronavirus Outbreak

All of WHOW's platforms--AM, FM and on-line--will carry Governor J-B Pritzker's daily news conference on the coronavirus outbreak, at 2:30 each afternoon.  And, both WHOW and WEZC will have a summary of the news conference, in our local news updates after the news conference has concluded.  Stay with WHOW and dewittdailynews-dot-com for the latest information on this outbreak.

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First Coronavirus Case in Central Illinois in Woodford County

The first coronavirus case has been reported in central Illinois in Woodford County. 

 

Governor JB Pritzker made the announcement at his daily COVID-19 press briefing Saturday. A Woodford County resident in his 70s and a Cumberland County resident in his 70s both tested positive for COVID-19.  

 

Additionally, two St. Clair County residents have tested positive – a woman in her 60s and a woman in her 70s.  Possible exposures and travel histories for the two individuals are still being investigated and public health officials are working to identify and contact all individuals who are close contacts for these two cases.

 

The total number of cases in Illinois now stands at 64. Public health officials are still investigating the travel history of these individuals and any potential contact with a known COVID-19 case.  Public health officials will identify and contact people who are considered close contacts of these cases.

 

For information about how you, your school, workplace, and community can prepare, please visit Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities.  For general questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov. 

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State Closes DMVs, Urges Use of Online Resources

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE’S OFFICE SAYS ALL BUT ONE DRIVER SERVICES FACILITY WILL REMAIN OPEN.

 

CHICAGO’S JAMES R. THOMPSON CENTER IS CLOSED TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC STARTING MONDAY, SO THE DRIVER SERVICES OFFICE LOCATED THERE WON’T BE OPERATING. ALL OTHERS AROUND THE STATE WILL BE SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON DAVE DRUKER.

 

 

DRUKER REMINDS THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS YOU CAN DO ONLINE AT: CYBER DRIVE ILLINOIS DOT COM SUCH AS RENEWING YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION AND GETTING A DUPLICATE DRIVER’S LICENSE OR I-D.

 

 

AGAIN - THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S WEBSITE IS: CYBER DRIVE ILLINOIS DOT COM.

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Clinton Schools Superintendent Reacts to Governor's Decree to Close School

When students dismiss class around 3 pm Monday, it will begin what is a two week shut down of schools in Illinois.

 

In the middle of that two weeks is spring break for Clinton schools but the two-week quarantine from school was not surprising for Superintendent Curt Nettles who indicates he and his colleagues in the area had been bracing for such an announcement.

 

 

With students expected to head home for the week, the district has initiated an emergency e-learning strategy that will take them through the week. 

 

Tune in to Regional Radio News Monday for how the e-learning day will work and the logistics of how such a plan came together. 

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Warner Library Suspending Select Services, Remaining Open

The continued measures of caution continue locally in the wake of a school shutdown declaration by Governor JB Pritzker to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

 

Clinton’s Warner Library is suspending select services but stresses they are remaining open during their regular operating hours. 

 

Through April 12, all library programs and events are canceled along with any meeting room usages and bookings.

 

Additionally, the library will suspend outreach programs to homebound seniors until April 12. 

 

Library staff has reconfigured their furniture and computers to allow for more distance between patrons.

 

They are promoting increased usage of its electronic services, encouraging patrons to use online or phone renewals and are transitioning to touchless checkout. 

 

The library will continue to adjust its procedures as the situation evolves.

 

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BREAKING NEWS: Governor Pritzker Closes All K-12 Public, Private Schools March 17 to 30 Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced that all Illinois Public Schools will be closed starting Tuesday, March 17th in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Governor Pritzker announced in a press conference that all public and private schools will close and stay closed at least through March 30th. 

 

Governor Pritzker says that the State can’t rely on the Federal Government anymore and they must do what we have to do to keep transmission rates low.

 

With that in mind, Governor Pritzker announced school closings for everyone until at least March 30th.

 

 

The Illinois Governor says that he must weigh the benefits and the risks and that this is the best possible outcome. 

 

 

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Clinton Chamber Director: We Will Reschedule the Business Expo

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce is one of many local entities to take precautions with the developments surrounding the coronavirus this week.

 

Earlier today (Friday), the Chamber announced the postponement of their annual business expo on Thursday, March 26. Executive Director Marian Brisard says it was the right decision to make as a lot of older residents enjoy time at the expo on top of the restrictions imposed by Governor JB Pritzker Thursday afternoon.

 

 

Brisard stresses this event will be rescheduled because of its importance to them and their businesses that participate. It is one of the bigger fundraisers and it is also a good networking opportunity for businesses that participate.

 

 

Brisard thanks the Chamber Board for their work in making a big decision like this and the help of local officials in keeping the community safe. 

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BREAKING NEWS: DeWitt County Friendship Center Closing for Two Weeks

The DeWitt County Friendship Center has made the decision to close down for two weeks effective at 3 pm Friday.

 

With precautions surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, local authorities are being proactive to keep local residents safe. Executive Director of the Friendship Center Paula Jiles told Regional Radio News the Friendship Center will close down for two weeks and they will reopen March 30. 

 

 

Jiles encourages seniors to wash their hands frequently and if they think they may be in danger of getting sick by going out to simply stay in. 

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DeWitt/Piatt Health Director: Panic Around Coronavirus Unwarranted

Live your life as you normally would.

 

That is the message from the Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Director as the response to the coronavirus intensifies across the country. Dave Remmert points out there are no cases of coronavirus in DeWitt or Piatt County, nor are there any cases in this region.

 

 

'Unwarranted' is how Remmert describes the pandemonium the virus has created. While things could change, he indicates they are constantly monitoring this situation and are in communication with response planners if this happens to make it's way to DeWitt or Piatt County. 

 

 

According to Remmert, this virus is no more concerning than anything we experience this time of the year with the seasonal flu. He says we should live our lives as we normally would. He feels closing schools at this time is not necessary at this time. 

 

 

Remmert says precautions people should be taking are the same precautions we should be taking this time of year and every other year - those being washing hands thoroughly and frequently and avoid being in close contact with people who are sick. 

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BREAKING NEWS: DeWitt County Board Postpones Wind Farm Vote Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

In compliance with Governor JB Pritzker's orders, the DeWitt County Board in conjunction with Clinton Schools has postponed the March 18 Tradewind Energy special use permit vote.

 

Thursday night, the Governor requested any events that would draw over 250 people be curtailed so DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg says that is exactly what they will do. He says the health and well being of County residents and anyone that wants to attend is above any issue at hand.

 

 

The coronavirus outbreak has yet to reach DeWitt County but to slow the spread, events of all types are being postponed across the country. Newberg was pleased to oblige with the request of the school district to not host their meeting in their facility during this time.

 

 

Newberg calls this the smart thing to do and indicates they are not sure where or when this vote will take place. 

 

As of now, the monthly DeWitt County Board meeting for Thursday night is still on as scheduled. 

 

The rescheduled vote will be heard on WHOW and its many online platforms including dewittdailynews.com, the WHOW mobile app, and Amazon Alexa. 

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CH Moore Homestead Postpones Weekend Fundraising Breakfast

The DeWitt County Museum has postponed a planned weekend fundraising breakfast because of the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Executive Director Joey Woolridge tells Regional Radio News the Health Department reached out to them asking them to postpone their event because of the crowd size and also the older demographic the event would likely draw, as the coronavirus leaves older people most susceptible.

 

 

Wooldridge indicates for those that purchased a ticket and would like their money back, they are offering a full refund of those tickets.

 

 

The museum is scheduled to open April 1 but Woolridge wonders if their first big weekend of the year, which will be free on Saturday, April 4 because it is National Museum Day, will be postponed because of this. Like so many other things happening right now, the situation is fluid.

 

 

Woolridge adds....

 

 

Woolridge indicates they will work to reschedule the breakfast with details to come at a later date.

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BREAKING: Clinton Chamber Business Expo Postponed

The 2020 Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo has been postoned due to concerns surrounding Coronavirus.  The annual Expo was scheduled for March 26th.

 

In a statement released Friday morning, Chamber Executive Director Marian Brisard said....

 

"The Clinton IL Chamber Board of Directors made the decision today (FRI) to postpone the Business Expo until a future date can be scheduled with Clinton High School.

 

The Chamber was notified by CHS officials today (FRI) that the business expo cannot be held at the school on March 26, 2020. The CUSD #15's contract states "The District reserves the right to refuse the use of school property at any time."

 

Due to developments surrounding Coronavirus Covid-19, Governor J.B. Pritzker held a press conference on March 12, 2020 discouraging any public gatherings of more than 250 people and mandating that gatherings of more than 1,000 be cancelled for at least 30 days, and possibly until May 1. Officials are particularly concerned about events with greater participation from elderly and vulnerable populations."

 

...this is a developing story.  Regional Radio News will have more in the near future.

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Warner Library Taking Measures to Protect Patrons from Coronavirus

The Warner Library in Clinton is taking measures to keep their patrons safe from the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation. 

 

Thursday, the library announced they will continue to follow the recommendations of public health officials and Governor JB Pritzker. Additionally, they are sanitizing frequently touched surfaces multiple times throughout the day, offering hand sanitizer and tissues at desks and public work stations and posting outbreak information form the CDC in public areas.

 

They are asking patrons to wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol, avoid close contact with sick people and cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or tissues. 

 

Additional recommendations include avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and stay home if you are ill. 

 

The library at 310 North Quincy Street in Clinton operates from 9 am to 8 pm Monday through Thursday and then 9 am to 5 pm on Friday and 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday. 

 

Visit vwarner.org for more information. 

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Snow Chances in March?

What are the chances for a significant snow event in March in Illinois?

 

 

That’s Freese-Notis meteorologist Dan Hicks speaking with RFD Radio this week.

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Illinois Keeping Election Day Plans in Place

Election Day will go forward. Governor JB Pritzker has encouraged people to avoid large crowds and practice social distancing when needed. That’s why he had urged people to vote by mail before the deadline passed and now says vote by mail deadlines are being extended, but he won’t change the election date.

 

 

Election officials have been given guidance on proper hygiene at polling places including disinfecting and wiping down machines between each voter.

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Governor Pritzker Outlining Guidelines to Limit Spread of Coronavirus

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ISSUING NEW GUIDELINES TO HELP SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19.

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS ALL LARGE-SCALE EVENTS WITH MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE MUST BE CANCELLED FOR THE NEXT 30 DAYS. HE’S ALSO RECOMMENDING GATHERINGS OF 250 OR MORE BE NIXED AS WELL.

 

 

PRITZKER SAYS ALL MAJOR SPORTING EVENTS WITH LARGE CROWDS INCLUDING SCHOOL AND COLLEGE GAMES SHOULD BE CANCELLED UNTIL MAY FIRST AND THIS APPLIES TO ALL OF ILLINOIS.

 

 

PRITZKER ENCOURAGES BUSINESSES TO LET EMPLOYEES WORK FROM HOME. STATE GOVERNMENT WILL REMAIN OPEN BUT THE JAMES R. THOMPSON CENTER IN CHICAGO WILL BE LIMITED TO PEOPLE WHO WORK THERE AND HAVE BUSINESS WITH THE STATE.

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Chicago Public Health Commissioner Discusses Schools Status

As the state limits the size of gatherings to 250 people or less it brings into question why schools are remaining open. 

 

Allison Arwardy, the Commissioner of Public Health in Chicago, says that all evidence points to keeping schools open for now. She worries much more about transmission and infection in long term care facilities and nursing homes.

 

 

Officials continue to stress that situations are ever changing and decisions could change in a day or two.

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32 Coronavirus Cases in Illinois

32 COVID-19 cases in Illinois, that’s the update from the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

 

As cases mount Governor JB Pritzker and health officials have implemented new restrictions on gatherings. The state says all events of more than a 1,000 will be cancelled and gatherings of more than 250 people should be curtailed.

 

 

Pritzker says limiting groups should help hold back the spread of the coronavirus.

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Warner Hospital CEO Updates on Preparations for Potential Coronavirus Cases

Local officials are keeping in close contact with one another to make sure they are at the ready should the coronavirus make its way to DeWitt County.

 

CEO Paul Skowron stopped into the WHOW studios Thursday morning and indicates everyone from the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department, the Emergency Management Agency and the hospital are talking daily about the latest in a growing situation worldwide.

 

 

The message from the CDC continues to be to take common-sense approaches to your daily life. Skowron says those recommendations include staying home if you're ill and washing your hands and keep a good amount of distance in social settings.

 

 

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has expressed his frustration with the lack of test kits that are in Illinois right now and Skowron expressed his frustration as well but points out, the good news is coming as kits are expected as soon as next week.

 

 

Skowron indicates the next three to four weeks are going to be critical in their preparation because students and families are going all over the country and some even leaving the country, and when they return it is unknown what they will bring with them. 

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DeWitt County Museum Homestead Breakfast Fundraiser Saturday

A fundraiser for the DeWitt County Museum is back again this year.

 

Joey Woolridge indicates members of the DeWitt County Museum Association will be serving a homestead style breakfast Saturday, March 14 from 7-10 am at the American Legion Hall. The all you care to eat breakfast is available for dining in or carryout. 

 

 

Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children under 10. Tickets are available for sale in advance through any DeWitt County Museum Board of Directors members or at the door. 

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Second Chance for Pets Announces Low Cost Rabies Clinic

Second Chance for Pets is hosting its annual low-cost rabies vaccinations clinics starting this weekend. 

 

The services are $10 for a 1 to 3-year vaccination, $10 for distemper, parvo, and corona combo, $15 for a microchip and $5 for a nail trim. Additionally, a one-year altered rabies tag registration is $10, $20 for one year unaltered, $23 for three years altered and $55 for three-year unaltered. 

 

This Saturday, you can get your pet vaccinated from 9 am to 11 am at the Wapella Village Maintenance Building at 710 Walnut Circle. Then from 1 pm to 3 pm at the Waynesville Fire House at 109 West Second Street.

 

The following Saturday, March 21 the clinic is at the Weldon Fire House from 9 am to 11 am and then from 1 pm to 3 pm at the Clintonia Township Building of old Highway 51 and North Walnut Street.

 

Cash and checks are accepted. 

 

Registration forms will be available at the sites. Second Chance officials remind anyone bringing their pet all dogs and cats must be vaccinated and registered with the County and all animals must be on a leash or in a carrier at the clinic.

 

This is the last chance for the lost cost vaccinations until next March. 

 

The low-cost vaccination clinic is open to all central Illinois residents. Contact Second Chance at 217-935-3488, email secondchanceforpets@yahoo.com or visit secondchanceforpets.com for more information. 

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Gov. Pritzker Not Banning Crowds at Sporting Events

The NBA has suspended their season as of last night after a player tested positive for COVID-19. But what about the rest of the professional sports leagues? In Ohio, Washington and parts of California public officials effectively put an end to large crowds and forced sports teams to prepare to play in empty buildings. 

 

Will that happen in Chicago? Governor JB Pritzker says he’s in contact with team owners but nothing is certain just yet.

 

 

The Big Ten Basketball tournament will be played without fans in attendance moving forward along with the NCAA Tournament.

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Gov. Pritzker Critical of White House Handling of Coronavirus

Governor JB Pritzker says President Donald Trump should be driving the CDC and the rest of federal government to do more in preparing and reacting to the spread of coronavirus. Pritzker criticism has grown over the week as the state remains searching for more test kits.

 

 

Pritzker says the CDC and White House leadership made a misstep when early on they refused to have other research labs help develop a testing kit for COVID-19.

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Coronavirus Kits Still Not in Illinois

Democrat Governor JB Pritzker remains frustrated about the response from the federal government and the White House when it comes to getting test kits from the CDC. 

 

Gov. Pritzker says he’s made calls to the White House and left messages and doesn’t often get a response when he asks where the promised kits are.

 

 

Pritzker says Illinois isn’t rationing kits but they certainly aren’t able to test everyone who wants one.

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2020 Cencus Starts Today

Let the counting begin. Today is the first day that you can fill out a census form. This year you can complete the form on-line. But an invitation to do so will still come in the mail. The Director of Human Services Grace Hou says you can wait to receive an invite in the mail or just head to my 2020 census dot gov.

 

 

Filling the form out should take no longer than 10 minutes.

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Gov. Pritzker Cancels Upcoming Session

Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly announced Wednesday that they have canceled legislative sessions in Springfield next week because of the threat of the spread of the new coronavirus.

 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker confirmed the news at a Chicago press conference where he announced the state’s number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 25.

 

Later Wednesday, the Democrat announced that employees without substantial sick leave who must be absent from work for extended periods would be eligible for unemployment insurance under emergency rules his administration would file with lawmakers.

 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases is increasing. In the U.S., the total has topped 1,000. Worldwide, more than 121,000 have been infected, and more than 4,300 have died.

 

The Legislature had no session days planned this week, giving members time to campaign before Tuesday’s primary election, and planned to reconvene on Wednesday. Now, the next session day for House or Senate will be March 24.

 

After weeks of health officials’ admonitions that people who feel sick should stay home from work or school, Pritzker was asked in Springfield last Friday what advice he had for hourly workers and those who generally don’t qualify for paid sick leave.

 

By Monday, he announced he was working on a plan to expand unemployment benefits for those forced to stay away from work. It was the same day that Illinois’ major insurance companies announced they would fully cover costs of testing for the coronavirus after Pritzker met with them to urge relief.

 

The federal government must approve the details of the Illinois plan, but President Donald Trump this week also said he would seek relief for hourly workers forced to miss work.

 

Pritzker said Wednesday that he has also begun discussions with Major League Baseball and its Chicago franchise owners as the league’s opening day, March 26, is the earliest ever. All 30 teams are scheduled to play that day, but athletic contests in Europe have been significantly altered by the coronavirus, forcing soccer and other teams to compete in empty arenas.

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Illinois Colleges Suspending Classes Over Coronavirus

Officials of Illinois, Southern Illinois, DePaul, Northwestern and Illinois State universities announced Wednesday the suspension of in-person classes due to coronavirus concerns.

 

The schools joined colleges and universities nationwide that have announced a halt to face-to-face instruction for several weeks to stem the spread of coronavirus, now declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. None of the Illinois universities are reporting cases of COVID-19 on their campuses.

 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

The actions by the universities came as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state’s number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 25. Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly have canceled legislative sessions in Springfield next week because of the threat of the spread of the new coronavirus.

 

In an e-mail to about 90,000 students at its campuses in Chicago, Champaign and Springfield, University of Illinois officials said classes will be remote by the time students return from spring break, which runs Saturday through March 22. The campuses, including dining halls and residences, will remain open.

 

Illinois State President Larry Dietz extended spring break to March 23 and classes will be conducted online at least through April 12. The university is closing dormitories and other housing immediately and students have been advised to return home.

 

DePaul canceled winter quarter final exams that were to be held this week and next, and postponed or canceled all university-sponsored events.

 

Northwestern’s spring break will be extended one week until April 4 and then classes will be conducted remotely for at least three weeks. University officials said they will reassess the situation by April 17 and decide then whether to continue remote teaching or to return to in-person instruction by April 27.

 

Southern Illinois’ Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses have extended spring break through March 22, after which classes will be conducted online.

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Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Announces New Executive Director

The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Board of Directors announced Wednesday the appointment of Casey Wichmann as the organization’s Executive Director. 

 

Wichmann brings to the Byway a wealth of knowledge and an extensive background in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. She brings more than a decade of non-profit experience to the organization including work with the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield and most recently, the state-wide Illinois Association of Park Districts. An experienced Director of Marketing and Development, Wichmann also brings years of experience in event planning, financial and human resource management, fundraising, grant writing, and strategic planning to the Byway.

 

Wichmann is a 1998 graduate of Western Illinois University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management.

 

In a release Wednesday, Wichmann said quote - “I am elated about the opportunity to work with such a successful and Historic Byway. This year promises to be one of growth and strengthening our organization. I look forward to working with our incredible members and partners who help us achieve our mission every day. Being able to combine my years of professional experience with a passion for helping non-profits thrive and grow is an exciting opportunity. I am honored by the confidence the board has placed in me to lead this organization to new heights." 


Route 66 will be celebrating its centennial in 2026; that significant anniversary led Illinois to be the first state to introduce legislation to establish a State Route 66 Centennial Commission. The legislation was passed unanimously by the Illinois House and Senate and has been signed into law by the Governor. In Congress, there are two bills going through the legislative process: one that would establish a Federal Route 66 Centennial Commission, and another that would amend the National Trails System Act to designate U.S. Route 66 as a National Historic Trail.

 

The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway enhances and promotes economic opportunities for each Illinois Route 66 community by preserving, protecting and promoting Illinois Route 66. 

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Liberty Village To Limit Visitors

Liberty Village of Clinton is the latest agency to take precautionary measures as a result of the coronavirus.

 

The Clinton assisted living facility announced today (Wednesday) they are limiting visitors to their site to emergency visits only. Because of the virus's severe impacts on the senior population, leadership at the facility is encouraging families to reach out to their loved ones via facetime features on their electronic devices and other virtual means of communication. 

 

Staffers at Liberty Village are also being screened before their shifts for the virus and any staffers displaying symptoms including fever are asked to return home and quarantine themselves and seek medical attention. 

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Rep. Caulkins Clarifies Comments About Clinton Power Plant

There is a notion in the community the Clinton Power Plant is going to be open for another 30 to 50 years and that it was a quote from State Representative Dan Caulkins.

 

While the Representative is not sure of how that message got out there, he is clarifying any statement he may have made. Rep. Caulkins maintains his stance of trying to keep the 2016 energy bill in place and even extended.

 

 

According to Rep. Caulkins, the power plant could run for up to another 30 to 50 years and feels it should be up to Exelon how long of a lifespan it has.

 

 

As scandal surrounds Exelon, Rep. Caulkins indicates any extension talks are not on the horizon but currently he remains confident the plant will remain open until at least 2026.

 

 

According to Representative Caulkins, his statements Wednesday came as a result of misinformation being circulated surrounding the power plant as candidates lobby for votes in the March primary. 

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Windfarm Opponents Still Concerned About Noise, Flicker Effect

As a special use permit application vote looms for the Tradewind Energy Alta Farms II wind project, local activists say they still have concerns about this second application.

 

Among their concerns are noise impacts on non-participating landowners and flicker effect. Andrea Rhoades leads the group DeWitt County Residents Against Wind Turbines and says while not an immense amount of noise, depending on the size of the turbines, these can impact a person near the footprint of a wind farm.

 

 

Neighboring community members who live near wind farms are having their day-to-day lives impacted according to Rhoades. The flicker effect of the wind farms is forcing a few homeowners in McLean County to leave their homes at night to find peace.

 

 

Some may say it is impossible for a permit of any type to have zero impact on residents but Rhoades says the County has guidelines set up for a permit to meet and then it has to comply with ordinances. Through the process of going through the Regional Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals and not receiving support from those entities, Rhoades says that is proof the application from Tradewind does not comply with the conditions and ordinances in place by the County.

 

 

The DeWitt County Board will vote on the Tradewind Energy special use permit for their Alta Farms II wind farm next Wednesday, March 18 at 6:30 pm.

 

Hear coverage of the meeting and the vote at 6:30 pm on 92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com, the WHOW app, and Amazon Alexa. 

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Clinton Schools Issue Notice About Coronavirus

Wash your hands and stay home if you're sick is the advice of Clinton school officials as the coronavirus outbreak continues to expand in the US.

 

While local health officials say no confirmed cases are in DeWitt County, school officials are keeping in close contact to monitor the situation and are asking the community to do their part. Superintendent of Clinton Schools Curt Nettles, along with school nurse, Jill Martin, are sending out basic reminders about keeping the community's youth healthy.

 

Keep your kids home if they are sick and make sure they are fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medicine. They remind parents this is a school policy.

 

Wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with warm water and soap and use hand sanitizer if necessary. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and sneeze into your elbow. Avoid close contact with sick people. 

 

The district is promoting handwashing among their K-12 students and keeping students who are frequently ill in less trafficked areas until parents pick them up. 

 

Additionally, with spring break in a few weeks and families likely to travel, decisions to quarantine, in the event necessary, are made by state and local public health officials. 

 

Public health officials ask families to stay home if they showing any signs of coronavirus symptoms and seek medical treatment if necessary. 

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Congressman Davis: Don't Count Bernie Out

Despite what was a wild Super Tuesday for Joe Biden, a central Illinois Congressman says don't count out Bernie Sanders.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis says Bernie Sanders has the energy and the base to still make some noise as the Democratic nomination for president rolls on toward the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

 

 

Davis does not believe Joe Biden gives them the best chance to defeat Donald Trump in November.

 

 

Congressman Davis points out Bernie's ability to connect with younger people because of his promises but does not believe there's any way to make his promises work.

 

 

Turnout for the primary season has been higher than usual in some areas. Davis believes Bernie could mirror what Donald Trump did in 2016 and bring out a certain demographic of voter to the election. 

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Public Health Director Says People are Fighting Illness, Not Just Number

The state of Illinois is reporting 19 cases of coronavirus and the first cases outside of Cook County. There is now a sick woman in Kane County and a teenager in McHenry County. The cases are presumed to be from community spread because neither of the two people had traveled recently or been in contact with a known person who was sick.

 

IDPH Director and Dr. Ngozi Ezike says as new cases are reported it’s important to keep in mind that these are people who are battling an illness and could be scared and worried.

 

 

The state is updating possible COVID-19 cases on the IDPH website, and those figures are updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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Governor Frustrated with Federal Response for Coronavirus

As 8 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Illinois yesterday Governor JB Pritzker is growing frustrated with the lack of test kits from the federal government. He says their lack of action is limiting the amount of tests that can be completed in the state.

 

 

For now the state says there are no reported infections in the state’s nursing homes. But care and caution needs to be given when visiting older friends or family.

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December to February Warmest on Record

Not much of a winter. That’s what the numbers show from December through February says Freese-Notis meteorologist Dan Hicks.

 

 

Dan Hicks speaking with RFD Radio Tuesday morning.

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Mt. Pulaski Schools Building Project Plugging Along

With nice weather around the corner and the busy construction season inching closer, Mt. Pulaski Schools multi-million addition is taking shape.

 

Superintendent Fred Lamkey says the latest excitement around their project is the noticeable progress they are seeing. He feels the visibility of what will be more classrooms is very exciting for them.

 

 

According to Lamkey, the old high school building will be the site for their addition. He explains the $15-million project is set to bring the district eight new classrooms and an all-purpose room. But most importantly, the project will bring Mt. Pulaski schools up to a proper 21st-century learning environment.

 

 

While the building is under construction, the district has brought in temporary classrooms and Lamkey feels it is impressive that those temporary learning environments are getting them through until they move into their new facility, likely in the fall.

 

 

According to Lamkey, a week without students in the building could afford them the equivalent of a month with students in the building, which will be significant and a big reason for what will be one of the latest start dates for schools in central Illinois. 

 

While students get a very long summer in 2020, Lamkey says they will have to make up for it in the 2020-2021 school year calendar. 

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WHOW to Broadcast March 18 DeWitt County Board Meeting, Vote on Tradewind Energy Special Use Permit

Clinton radio station WHOW has announced it will provide live coverage of the March 18 DeWitt County Board meeting and vote on the special use permit for Tradewind Energy's Alta Farms 2 wind project.

 

The meeting and live broadcast begin at 6:30 that night on WHOW's many platforms, including 92-point-3 FM in DeWitt County, 106.5 FM in Logan County, streamed at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa.   The meeting will be held at the Clinton High School auditorium.

 

WHOW news reporter Seth Laurence will anchor the coverage.  The vote culminates some 2 years of consideration of the proposal by multiple county agencies.

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Sports Betting in Illinois Underway

And with that the sports betting landscape in Illinois is changed forever. 

 

Hockey fans might recognize that voice; its Eddie Olczyk (Ole-Check), who placed the first legal sports bet in Illinois history. Eddie placed a $100 on the White Sox to win the American League pennant.

 

He did it at the Rivers Casino in Des Plains. It’s the first bricks and mortar sports book in the state. 

 

Two more are expected on line soon, one in Alton and another in Elgin.

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Wind Farm Opponents Not Impressed With Radar Expert During ZBA Hearings

A major talking point of the latest special use application from Tradewind Energy for their Alta Farms II wind project in northwest DeWitt County has been wind turbines impacts on weather radar.

 

Monday on the WHOW Morning Show, Andrea Rhoades, who leads the group Residents Against Wind Farms in DeWitt County, says the expert Tradewind officials brought to last month's hearings did not ease the concerns of landowners, especially as it relates to the curtailment of the turbines during severe weather events. 

 

 

According to Rhoades, the development of projects like the Alta Farms II wind farm is cropping up in areas with residential development. She says that puts people in danger when a storm comes through like happened last year when a storm went through Macon County.

 

 

Opponents are still concerned with noise, flicker effect and decreased land values as a result of the project. We'll hear more from Rhoades in the week ahead on Regional Radio News. 

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Governor Pritzker Makes Disaster Declaration as Four New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed

New announcements Monday from the Governor as there are four more cases of COVID-19 in Illinois and JB Pritzker announces a formal disaster proclamation, Illinois’ version of a state of emergency.

 

Pritzker says the step is necessary as new issues arise in the ongoing fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

 

 

There are now 11 official cases of COVID-19 known in the state.

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DeWitt County Probation Adjusting to New Cannabis Laws

DeWitt County Probation Officer Dave Beery says his office is playing a wait and see game on how the legalization of cannabis impacts his office and their drug court program.

 

Beery offered up his stance on the legalization of marijuana recently on the WHOW Morning Show, explaining his disagreement with the notion marijuana is like alcohol. He feels prolonged use of cannabis over time is not good for the body but points out the abuse of either is not good. 

 

 

Drug court in DeWitt County typically does not see many marijuana cases. Beery says the impact on drug court is yet to be seen. He indicates there are still aspects of the legalization that will need to be worked out.

 

 

Among the issues with the new cannabis law is testing for probation. According to Beery, the law is not cut and dry. He explains there will be cases where a positive marijuana test will impact someone and not others.

 

 

From the probation and drug court testing perspective, Beery indicates they have proven methods to continue to monitor their clients' usage of cannabis. 

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Tradewind Officials Touting Arcosa Endorsement, Looking Forward to Partnering For Business

Tradewind Energy officials are touting the endorsement they received last month during the Zoning Board of Appeals hearings for their special use permit for the Alta Farms II wind farm in northwest DeWitt County.

 

Tom Swierczewski with Tradewind says they are committing to Arcosa to purchase at least 20-percent of the overall project components from them and he calls that the floor, hoping it can be much more than that. In the wind industry, it is difficult to source an entire project's supply from one manufacturer.

 

 

The idea of having a wind turbine manufacturer being just a few miles from the footprint of a project is almost unheard of in the industry and Swierczewski feels it is something the community should be excited about.

 

 

As for the turbines that Arcosa could be manufacturing in the near future, Swierczewski anticipates there being a couple of different models. 

 

 

Swierczewski believes partnerships like the one with Arcosa is only the beginning for projects in Illinois as wind energy becomes a larger part of the renewable energy footprint of the area. 

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Local Authorities Warning Against False Information on Floating Around on Facebook

You cannot believe everything you see on the internet.

 

While common sense for most, political posts are bombarding the 'feeds' of social media users to smear the stances and reputations of political candidates in the upcoming election. Connie Unruh with DeWitt County TRIAD says while not a scam, posts are popping up that are putting out bad information, regardless of your political party of choice. 

 

 

Unruh says these groups will use the political pages you follow, comment on and your searches to gather information and then put information in your social media feed that may not be accurate. She calls this micro-targeting. 

 

 

Last week, Unruh pointed out scams around the coronavirus outbreak is targeting people doing searches on markets and cryptocurrencies using their computer's search history. She says the things we view on the internet and social media are monitored very closely. 

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Heyworth Schools Report Positive Results from First E-Learning Days in 2020

Heyworth Schools were able to pilot a new concept Illinois schools have had the option of trying out called e-learning days, or the idea of having students participate in learning activities when school is canceled.

 

Superintendent Lisa Taylor indicates the guidelines from their pilot program to their adopted program last year are different after the state made changes but one thing they found as a part of e-learning days the district implemented as part of snow days this year were submissions of students doing their work via social media.

 

 

According to Taylor, determining if their district will use a canceled day as an e-learning day almost comes to making sure they are not overusing them. She explains if they find themselves having to be out of school on consecutive days for whatever reason, they likely would limit the number of e-learning days.

 

 

Taylor says they only had one instance of a student that could not get their work done because of a connectivity issue and so they did not penalize that student. She points out they also want to be cognizant of the fact e-learning days also impact working parents and that can make for long days and nights for working families. 

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S&P Pushes Back on Illinois Budget Proposal

One rating agency says the budget proposed by Democrat Governor JB Pritzker is a very small step towards improving the fiscal situation in the state of Illinois. S and P Global Ratings says the way Pritzker lays out the budget with two spending plans: one based on a graduated income tax plan being approved by voters and the other without the tax changes -raises credit risks.

 

Pritzker focused on S and P praising the proposed budget for a lack of creative accounting.

 

 

The Governor’s proposed budget is just that, proposed. Lawmakers are slowing beginning the budget-making process at the statehouse.

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Miller Park Zoo Hoping for Successful Breeding Season

Almost a month removed from Valentine's Day, the late-winter months are the prime breeding season for zoo animals at McLean County zoo.

 

The Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington is hoping to have a successful breeding season. Superintendent Jay Tetzloff indicates they have had a lot of success in recent years with their breeding pairs and are optimistic for more of the same this year.

 

 

Tetzloff gets hesitant to announce any animal pregnancies because anything can happen during the time they become pregnant and when the babies are born. He feels it is best to make sure any new lives are in good health before they make any announcements and subsequent public introductions. 

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Governor Pritzker Warns Against Coronavirus Price Gouging

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE STATE IS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR PRICE GOUGING RELATED TO THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK. 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER’S ADMINISTRATION HAS CONTACTED INSURANCE COMPANIES, WARNING THEM NOT TO JACK UP PRICES FOR PATIENTS.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS PRICE GOUGING WILL ALSO NOT BE TOLERATED FOR THINGS LIKE HAND SANITIZER, FACE MASKS AND OTHER PRODUCTS.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THERE ARE NOW FIVE CONFIRMED CASES OF CORONAVIRUS INFECTION IN ILLINOIS.

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Change Your Clocks, Smoke Alarm Batteries Saturday

THE ILLINOIS STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE IS REMINDING THE PUBLIC TO “CHANGE YOUR CLOCK, CHANGE YOUR BATTERIES.” 

 

IT’S DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME THIS WEEKEND…AND A CHANCE TO NOT ONLY SPRING FORWARD, BUT TO MAKE SURE YOUR SMOKE ALARMS ARE WORKING PROPERLY SAYS FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ.

 

 

FULTZ SAYS YOU SHOULD ALSO MAKE SURE YOUR SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS HAVEN’T EXPIRED SINCE THEY LAST ABOUT 10 YEARS.

 

 

THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION SAYS ABOUT A QUARTER OF SMOKE ALARM FAILURES ARE DUE TO DEAD BATTERIES.

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Department of Human Services Announces Website to Answer Legal Pot Questions

A NEW WEBSITE AIMS TO ANSWER THE PUBLIC’S QUESTIONS ABOUT RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA. 

 

THE LET’S TALK CANNABIS WEBPAGE IS EASY TO USE AND FEATURES SEVERAL FACTS SHEETS WITH HELPFUL INFORMATION SAYS THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICE’S DANI KIRBY.

 

 

KIRBY SAYS THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE CORRECT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE.

 

 

THE WEBSITE IS: LETS TALK CANNABIS IL DOT COM.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a mild start to the month of March in Illinois. State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us what to expect as we spring ahead this weekend...

 

 

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Love It Once More Thrift Store, Clinton Chamber Seeking Volunteers for Business Expo Event

Clinton Chamber of Commerce officials along with Love It Once More Thrift Store are seeking volunteers to participate in an event that will be held the evening of the Chamber's annual business expo.

 

Love It Once More Thrift Store last year introduced a fashion show at the business expo and they need volunteers to make this year's show happen. Mike Lovett with Love It Once More says they need 40 total volunteers to model an outfit and anyone who steps up receives the outfit they model for free.

 

 

The Chamber of Commerce is rolling out the red carpet for this event - literally. Chamber Executive Director Marian Brisard indicates they will have a stage set up for everyone to know where the show takes place.

 

 

To get more information or pick out an outfit to model at the fashion show, stop by Love It Once More Thrift Store at 1044 Jemima Street in Clinton, just off Route 10. 

 

The business expo is Thursday, March 26 at Clinton High School from 4 pm to 7 pm. 

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Department of Revenue Unsure of Coronavirus Impact on Illinois Economy

The Illinois Department of Revenue says that global headwinds need to be considered when thinking about going forward to how the state’s economy will grow or slow. At a committee hearing today (Thursday) Marty Johnson with the Research Office at the Department of Revenue says the state should still see jobs added throughout the next fiscal year and wages and salaries are expected to increase.

 

But a slowdown from fears of a spreading coronavirus could put a damper on expectations.

 

 

Johnson says those two indictors can preview how consumers choose to spend their dollars.

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Department of Public Health Head Blasts White House for Lack fo Testing Kits

The Illinois Department of Public Health wants more COVID-19 testing kits from the CDC. But help might not be coming anytime soon. The Trump Administration had promised to have a million test kits ready to go out by the end of the week.

 

Now reports are the number of new kits being sent out won’t be anywhere near the million number mark. IDPH’s Dr. Ngozi Ezike says she was just in Washington DC asking for more kits, and until they get here only a select few people will be tested.

 

 

Lawmakers in DC are saying getting the bulk of testing kits out to public health departments may take a few more days or even weeks.

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Fifth Person in Illinois has Coronavirus

A fifth person in Illinois has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual in their 20’s recently traveled home to Chicago from Italy. That person is currently being treated in isolation at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the Dir. of IDPH, says with three labs in Illinois prepared to test for COVID-19 turn-around times to determine who’s positive and who’s not can happen within a matter of hours and it’s much improved from the time to took to test when samples had to be shipped to the CDC.

 

 

The flight the person was on from Italy has been identified and the individuals sitting near the person will be notified and their health monitored.

 

The state’s hotline to answer coronavirus question remains open at 1-800-899-3931.

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Coronavirus Creating Opportunity for Scams

The frenzy around the Coronavirus outbreak is leading to opportunities for scam artists to take advantage of the panic around the outbreak and local officials are speaking out on the trends they are seeing.

 

Connie Unruh with DeWitt County TRIAD points out the world markets are being impacted by the virus's outbreak and while some people are selling stocks and now being a good time to buy, there's a recent push for the trendy crypto-currency. She says to be wary of anyone trying to sell you something around these. 

 

 

Unlike most scams that target you via phone call, Unruh says these are popping up as ads on social media websites. She emphasizes people need to do their homework on crypto-currencies or other investment opportunities.

 

 

Scams are using the cheap advertising rates on Facebook to their advantage and are targeting people who may be visiting certain sites or doing certain Google searches. 

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Tradewind Alta Farms II Special Use Permit Vote Officially Set for March 18

Transcripts are in and on Wednesday evening, March 18, the DeWitt County Board will take up the issue of the special use permit for the Tradewind Energy Alta Farms II wind project in northwest DeWitt County.

 

At the February DeWitt County Board meeting, DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg set a meeting date pending the arrival of transcripts from the Zoning Board of Appeals month-long hearing, which needed to be in the possession of County Board members at least two weeks ahead of the vote on the special use permit.

 

Newberg confirmed to Regional Radio News Wednesday afternoon the vote will take place on March 18 at 6:30 pm. County officials will have the meeting posted soon.

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Congress Briefed on Coronavirus Thursday

Congress was briefed on the Coronavirus Thursday morning.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis indicates his biggest concern is making sure central Illinois is equipped with the proper testing kits they need. He indicates President Trump allowed Congressman and women access to health officials on the front lines of this outbreak.

 

 

The nature of the outbreak of the virus has been frustrating for Davis. He says the dishonesty from China on the severity of the illness did not help the global reaction. He credits the Trump administration for their response to the virus and keeping it from getting bad in America.

 

 

Davis says he is very concerned about the possibility to spread but feels credit needs to be given to health officials in Illinois for being proactive in their reaction.

 

He is also disappointed in the discord over the virus and anyone making it a partisan issue. 

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Pre-K Screenings for Clinton Schools Next Week

Clinton school officials are encouraging the community to get kids ages three to five screeded for their 2020-2021 school year.

 

Pre-K Coordinator Lauren Johnson indicates they still have some openings for screenings next week. There is no obligation for your child to attend the school district pre-k program but it is a good way to find out if your child is eligible for the program.

 

 

A little more than 100 students will be accepted into the pre-k program in Clinton schools. While sometimes there is a stigma only certain students will qualify for the program, Johnson indicates those are not always extreme cases such as students with a severe learning disability or a child who's family falls in an income bracket.

 

 

A few years ago, pre-k programs across central Illinois were able to expand thanks to the 'Pre-School For All' grant from the State of Illinois. Johnson says that allowed for the hiring of more pre-k teachers, which allowed for more pre-k classes and also created her position as pre-k coordinator.

 

 

Pre-k screenings are next Monday through Thursday. Students need to be between three and five years old on or before September 1, 2020. Get more information by contacting Johnson at ljohnson@cusd15.org or call her at 217-650-9382. She indicates if you get in contact with either Lincoln or Douglas Elementary School, they can also get your information to her. 

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Victims of Lincoln Plane Crash Identified

Illinois State Police on Wednesday identified the three people killed when a small plane crashed on the median of an interstate highway near Lincoln, among them a former Bradley University baseball player.

 

The victims of Tuesday’s crash were identified as Mitchell W. Janssen, 22, of Princeville, Illinois; Matthew Hanson, 33, of Pulaski, Wisconsin and Kevin Chapman, 30, of Urbana, Illinois.

 

Janssen, a right-handed pitcher who attended Bradley from 2015 to 2019, was piloting the single-engine, four-seat Cessna 172 when it crashed on Interstate-55 and burst into flames. The plane had taken off early Tuesday from Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, according to state police, which didn’t say where the plane was headed.

 

The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into the cause of the crash.

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ALMH Calling on Seniors to Join Life Solutions Program

Seniors and mental health are rarely linked in today's society that has taken up the torch to help those battling mental illness but that is exactly what a Logan County program is doing.

 

The Senior Life Solutions program through Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital aims to give seniors who are battling depression or anxiety the resources to deal with the things happening in their lives. Riley Brackney with ALMH walks through what it looks for a senior to be a part of the program. 

 

 

The senior population is rarely connected to things like depression or anxiety and Brackney says those challenges are not just part of aging for them. It can be hard to diagnose these mental illnesses in seniors as they will come in with health issues that can't be diagnosed but she points seniors to look out for a few telling symptoms.

 

 

Once seniors get into the program, Brackney indicates they begin to see a positive change and their patients begin to get more active by going to the Oasis Senior Center or visiting the Park District.

 

 

Brackney says the program, which has been in place for about a year, has gotten a great response so far. To learn more you can visit almh.org or call 217-605-5750.  

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Miller Park Zoo Promoting Annual Junior Zookeeper Program

If working with animals is in your future, a McLean County entity is offering a one of a kind opportunity for central Illinois youth to get hands-on experience.

 

The Miller Park Zoo's Junior Zookeeper program offers a handful of youth the chance to get hands-on learning experiences with the animals in the exhibits but also the skills necessary to work with the public. Superintendent Jay Tetzloff says it is a one of a kind opportunity.

 

 

To get into the program though, you have to sign up and attend one of two mandatory meetings that are happening this week. According to Tetzloff, students entering sixth grade up to high school students and tonight is the final night for those meetings.

 

 

Through the life of the program, Tetzloff has seen students pursue a variety of careers. While some go become veterinarians, others pursue marine biology but lately, students who go through the program are pursuing environmental law degrees.

 

 

Meetings are about an hour long and Tetzloff says most junior zookeepers begin at basic levels and gradually progress from there. For those that do apply, Tetzloff encourages them not to get discouraged if they do not get accepted the first time because they usually end up with a waiting list. 

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Community Action Picking Up Awareness Efforts as Census Counts Near

A central Illinois non-profit is picking up their efforts to get people counted for the upcoming census.

 

Community Action indicates they are hoping to use their recognition in central Illinois to get residents counted as there is a lot on the line. Breann Titus with Community Action explains the census being able to be completed online is going to be a huge advantage this time around.

 

 

Clearing up confusion about who should get counted and when is part of the Community Action goal this time around. Titus indicates they are finding parents are sometimes confused about when to start counting their children and they want to emphasize any living person in a home needs to be counted.

 

 

Community Action is partnering with a Tri-County and Peoria agency to promote the importance of the census thanks to a grant from the State of Illinois. Titus points out since 1990, the State of Illinois has lost a Congressional seat and is on pace to lose two this year.

 

 

Titus points out the elderly and the 0-5 population and those are the populations that Community Action provides services for. She says if they lose funding because people are not counted, their organization loses out on funding opportunities. 

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Tornado Hits Fellow Broadcaster in Cookeville, Tennessee

The Miller Media Group Radio Stations, are members of an organization called the International Broadcasters Idea Bank, which is a group of 100 small market broadcasters in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

Many of those broadcasters, reached out to help Taylorville after the EF-3 tornado that tore thru town on December First of 2018.

 

Now, the Miller Media Group is asking you to help a community that's part of the Idea Bank family.

 

Cookeville, Tennessee, was at the epicenter of the death and destruction from tornadoes that ravaged that state at around 2 o'clock Tuesday morning.

 

Idea Bank member Larry Stone, owns and operates the 4 Cookeville, Tennessee stations, which went wall-to-wall with coverage soon after the tornado hit during the early morning hours on Tuesday, and broadcast continuous coverage thru Tuesday afternoon.  Stone's stations have also carried this week's many news conferences with local officials.

 

Stone and on-air announcer Radford E. Cleary, was part of Tuesday evening's special newscast which reported on the fatalities and damage up to that point.  The 2 gave a summary of the event up to that point.

 

 

Putnam County mayor Randy Porter told Stone that as of 5pm Tuesday, the area looks like a war zone.  

 

 

The Miller Media Group is asking you to donate thru Larry's radio group, to help those in need in Cookeville, by clicking the "Tennessee Tornado Assistance" link on taylorvilledailynews-dot-com or dewittdailynews-dot-com.  

 

Just as the recovery has taken over a year in Taylorville, the Cookeville area will need financial assistance for weeks and months to come.  

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Warner Hospital CEO Reviews Last Five Years as Hospital Looks to Future

Looking to the future began with a review of the last five years for Warner Hospital and Health Services leadership recently as the Board begins a detailed look at what is ahead for the city-owned hospital.

 

CEO Paul Skowron says in the last five years, the hospital underwent a name change that he says was a springboard for a new marketing campaign to change their image in the community and central Illinois.

 

 

In the last five years, the medical center has seen an expansion of services. Once the name change took effect, Skowron indicates they needed to improve the physical appearance of their facility and so they took to making several enhancements to fall in line with their new mission.

 

 

According to Skowron, the 3D mammography was one of the first improvements to services at the hospital. He is thankful for the Warner Hospital Foundation to help raise funds to help in expanding services that also included upgrades in radiology and new bone scan equipment.

 

 

The walk-in clinic has been available to the community for two years now and Skowron feels that addition of service has been the most successful. He indicates the success is leading the hospital board to consider expanding the service hours into the evening.

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Scams Targeting Home Buyers

As the housing market starts to heat up with spring around the corner, local experts are warning home buyers and home sellers to be aware of a scam that is targeting the uptick in activity.

 

Connie Unruh with the DeWitt County TRIAD says home buyers are being targeted by scammers who are hacking the email accounts of attorneys and posing as a real estate attorney asking for emergency payments.

 

 

Attorneys are warning their clients and the community to safeguard against these scams. Before you make any transactions, Unruh says to personally call your attorney's office with a number you have even if you have received a call from a number that looks like theirs.

 

 

The coronavirus's impact on the stock market has also brought new challenges for the public as it relates to scams. We'll have more with Unruh on that later this week on Regional Radio News.

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Bement Schools Looking to Start Veterans Wall

Bement schools are looking to establish a veterans wall in their high school building.

 

Superintendent Dr. Sheila Greenwood is inviting community members who know of a Bement graduate who served in any branch of the military in era to submit an 8x10 photo of them for their new veteran's wall.

 

 

If you want more details or want to submit a picture, you can contact Mr. Kepley, the High School Principal. Dr. Greenwood adds they will frame the picture if the picture and ask the photo be accompanied by a name, title and what branch they served in. 

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Pritzker Not Endorsing Democratic Candidate

On Super Tuesday, Governor JB Pritzker says he still doesn’t have a candidate to back for Democrat nomination.

 

 

Pritzker has long maintained a neutral position in the primary. Illinois voters will get their say on March 17th.

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22 More Illinoisans Being Tested for Coronavirus

According to state health officials, there are 22 people under investigation as possibly sick with COVID-19 in Illinois. Dr. Ngozi Ezike says those people have or will be soon tested for the coronavirus. She says the reports of a fifth person being identified as a positive carrier of COVID-19 are premature.

 

 

Ezike says right now community spread of the disease hasn’t been seen in Illinois.

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3 Dead in Lincoln Plane Crash

Three people died Tuesday morning when a small plane crashed and burst into flames on Interstate 55 in central Illinois, state police said.

 

Mindy Carroll of the Illinois State Police said in a statement that all three occupants of the plane were killed in the crash in Lincoln at about 8:49 a.m.

 

The Logan County Coroner’s office has been dispatched to the scene.

 

Police said multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene and that I-55 would remain closed to traffic for several hours.

 

The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified and was responding to the scene.

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Clinton's Planned Center Street Project Moving Forward

By week's end, bids will be in for a planned $1-million renovation of Center Street in Clinton and Monday night, the Clinton City Council put on file approval for the projects oversight company.

 

Public Works Director Steve Lobb is asking the Council to approve Cummins Engineering Corporation as the project's engineers. He points out, they were the only group to show interest in the project.

 

 

Lobb indicates bids for the project are due this Friday and they should have numbers for cost in the next week. He is optimistic it will be a good bid cycle.

 

Other action from the Monday night City Council meeting....

 

>>The Council approved the purchase of a 2020 Ford Explorer for the Sewer Department for $30,395

 

>>Playground equipment for Downey Park was approved at a cost of $61, 971

 

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Ag Safety Week

Ag Safety Awareness Week being promoted during the first week of March. And one of the key points this year is mental health says Illinois Farm Bureau’s Jackie Jones.

 

 

Other points of emphasis this week include transportation, emergency weather preparedness, confined spaces and farmer wellness.

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DeWitt County Friendship Center Ham n Beans Fundraiser March 7

The DeWitt County Friendship Center's annual ham and bean dinner and cake auction is this Saturday. 

 

Paula Jiles is the Executive Director of the DeWitt County Friendship Center and indicates the ham and beans dinner and cake auction is their largest fundraiser. Jiles notes they took a different approach to cake sponsorships this year and is thankful for the many local businesses that took part.

 

 

Doors will open at 4:30 pm and the dinner will be served from 5-7 pm. The dinner consists of ham and beans, cornbread, cinnamon applesauce, and cake. At 6:15 the cake auction will start with Lance Schmid as auctioneer.

 

 

Last year's fundraiser raised over $7,000 and Jiles hopes to build on that this year. She says the funds they raise from the annual event that helps them cover basic expenses they have.

 

 

The Ham and Beans dinner is Saturday, March 7 from 5-7 pm with doors opening at 4:30. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door. 

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National Weather Promoting Severe Weather Week

With March upon us, the National Weather Service is using this week to promote severe weather safety.

 

This first week of March is National Severe Weather Week and Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates they are raising awareness around severe weather week by pushing information on their website and social media platforms. Additionally, they are doing something different for those that have NOAA weather radios.

 

 

According to Miller, April and May should see above-normal rainfall and Miller hopes people will become knowledgable about dealing with flooding in their communities. He indicates aging infrastructure and already saturated ground could result in flooding which can cause deaths.

 

 

Be ready for tornadoes. Miller says Illinois ranks fourth for tornadoes in the country and he hopes people prepare for an event like that. 

 

 

Most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flooding. Miller says to check with your agent and maybe explore purchasing a policy that covers flooding.

 

He also encourages diversifying your notifications of warnings and watches. Miller points out most people rely on cell phones but encourages purchasing a NOOA weather radio. 

 

Visit weather.gov/lincoln for the latest in forecasts but also information as a part of this Severe Weather Week. 

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Tradewind Officials Looking Forward to County Board Vote, Still Disappointed in Timing of Process

While Tradewind Energy officials continue to look forward to the upcoming March 18 vote on their special use application for the Alta Farms II wind farm in northwest DeWitt County, they remain disappointed in the time it has taken to get here.

 

Project Development Manager Tom Swierczewski says it is nice to have a date set to be before the full DeWitt County Board but remains disappointed it has taken over six months to get to this point.

 

 

According to Swierczewski, they showed beyond a shadow of a doubt they are not going to have an impact on the Lincoln weather radar equipment and feels that issue should be in the past.

 

 

As the DeWitt County Board meeting nears, Swierczewski thanks the supporters of their project for turning out to the ZBA hearings. He encourages them to remain engaged and if they feel it necessary, to reach out to their local County Board member to voice their support.

 

 

Last year after the DeWitt County Board voted down the application, Swierczewski indicates there was an uptick in support form those in favor of the project and he feels that has not dropped off in the time from the last vote until now. He believes they will have the vote in their favor this time around. 

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Local School Leader Disappointed in Governor's Budget Proposal for Education

Last month, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker touted an increase in funding for education but a local school leader indicates that is not the most truthful statement by the Governor.

 

Warrensburg-Latham Schools Superintendent Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle explains the governor is proposing an increase in funding for Illinois schools but if a progressive income tax proposal in November fails, that will result in $150-million being taken away from education.

 

 

In recent years, schools have gone to an evidence-based funding model that was more equitable for Illinois schools and allowed districts who cannot rely on property taxes to receive more money from the State of Illinois. Dr. Kendrick-Weikle says that plan has been working well.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle explains the Governor holding back money until he learns of the November vote on the progressive tax proposal and that is going to greatly impact districts who rely on the State for a majority of their funding.

 

 

Unfortunate is how Dr. Kendrick-Weikle describes the details of the Governor's proposal because she and her peers felt like Illinois was moving in a positive direction as it related to school funding.

 

 

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle is also concerned because funding for mandated things like special education and transportation could also be in jeopardy. While she does not have the most concrete of details, she is getting information that would suggest that funding may be up in the air in this budget as well.

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Jerry Costello Named Head of Ag Department

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has tapped another former legislator to be the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

 

Pritzker on Friday named Jerry Costello II as acting director, a job that pays $157,000 annually. The 51-year-old former state representative has been director of law enforcement for the Department of Natural Resources since leaving the General Assembly in May 2019.

 

Costello replaces former state Sen. John Sullivan, who resigned as director Jan. 13 after disclosing that he had received but failed to act on an explosive 2012 email that referenced an alleged rape cover-up and illegal hiring practices. Authorities are now investigating.

 

While Costello represented Smithton in the House from 2011 to 2019, he was chairman of the Agriculture and Conservation Committee. He also served on Pritzker’s Agriculture Transition Committee after the Democrat’s victory in November 2018.

 

Costello is the son of former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, who represented the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis from 1988 to 2013.

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March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month and a local University of Illinois Extension nutrition expert has some things for us to consider.

 

Caitlin Huth is a nutrition expert in DeWitt, Macon and Piatt Counties for the University of Illinois Extension office and this month's theme is "bite-by-bite" encouraging things like meal planning and disease prevention. She explains they want to provide the public with tools on how to do these things.

 

 

Mellendorf is encouraging the public who may be motivated to change their eating habits and want to take on this challenge of meal planning to utilize the resources of the U of I Extension office. She points out they have a variety of resources available for people to use.

 

 

According to Mellendorf, if you're looking for a good guide in finding a way to start eating healthy, the 'My Plate' model is a good guideline to follow. She explains the 'My Plate' model is easy to follow because it is on a meal-by-meal basis.

 

 

For more healthy eating tips including blogs, links to social media and links to videos, you can visit go.illinois.edu/dmp. 

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