The CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services is praising the work done by the Clinton School district for coming up with a safe plan to have kids return to school.
Paul Skowron praised Superintendent Curt Nettles and the district task force that came up with a return to class plan. He believes they have come up with a safe strategy for the community that involves an alternate plan for kids to learn remotely.
The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department was a part of those discussions and Skowron credits them for their guidance. He also notes the hospital offered to make their facility available if testing is something they will need access to.
As the hunting season quickly approaches, DNR officials are reminding hunters any safety courses they need can be taken care of online.
Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Sergeant John Williamson explains most in-person courses are not available at this time but dnr.illinois.gov has several resources for hunters to get their safety courses taken care of for the upcoming hunting season.
Williamson calls August 1 the start of the annual hunting season when squirrel hunting opens up. He says the big one will be September 1 when dove season opens which for many hunters is the official start of the hunting season.
Williamson says deer activity is starting to pick up as fawns begin to get more strength in their legs. He reminds the public to leave the baby animals alone as their mother often leaves its babies during the day to find food and then moves it at night.
Get more hunting information by visiting dnr.illinois.gov.
ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT OUT OF THE STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFORMATION AUTHORITY, TEEN DRINKING IS DOWN IN ILLINOIS…BUT STILL CONCERNING.
THE DATA SHOWS THAT ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION BY TEENS DROPPED BY ABOUT EIGHT PERCENT BETWEEN 2008 AND 2017 SAYS ACTING RESEARCH DIRECTOR JESSICA REICHERT.
ALCOHOL-RELATED ARRESTS WERE ALSO DOWN IN ILLINOIS…BY ABOUT 25 PERCENT FROM 2005 TO 2019. DESPITE THE DECREASES, REICHERT SAYS ALCOHOL USE BY YOUTH REMAINS AN IMPORTANT HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUE SINCE DRINKING CAN LEAD TO RISKY BEHAVIORS, AFFECT SCHOOLWORK AND ALTER BRAIN DEVELOPMENT.
REICHERT SAYS THE DOWNWARD TRENDS ARE GOOD NEWS, BUT THAT TEEN DRINKING IS STILL A SERIOUS PROBLEM THAT CAN AFFECT SCHOOL PERFORMANCE, LEAD TO RISKY BEHAVIORS AND MAY HARM BRAIN DEVELOPMENT.
Earlier this week on Regional Radio News, we outlined the return to school plans for Warrensburg-Latham High School.
High school students will have blended learning start to the year including five days of in-person learning and five days of remote learning two weeks at a time, with alternating schedules. Superintendent Cheryl Warner indicates their K-5 and middle school buildings will be in school every day with an early dismissal.
Technology will play a big role in both plans for the K-8 students and high school students. According to Warner, they are working to train their teachers. They will then focus on training their students and parents on the technology components they plan to use.
Most central Illinois school districts with plans to have kids back in their buildings are implementing early dismissal times and like those districts, Warner says they are doing it to allow for extra disinfectant time in the buildings and to reduce the amount of mask-wearing for their younger kids.
As area residents begin to return to their healthcare providers for examines and surgeries that may have been put off due to the shelter from home order, Clinton's Warner Hospital reports they are back to 90-percent operating capacity.
On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, CEO Paul Skowron told Regional Radio News they continue to promote the safe environment they have created and are not letting their guard down despite easing restrictions in other sectors.
Testing for the coronavirus is being done at Warner Hospital however, Skowron indicates they are not a public testing site. They are doing tests at the recommendations of doctors or for those that will have elective surgery done.
Temperatures continue to be taken when patients enter the facility. Emergency room chairs are spaced six feet apart. Skowron indicates the size of their waiting area is challenging but they are making it work.
Following CDC and IDPH guidelines, Lincoln College is planning to bring students back to campus next month.
System President, Dr. David Gehrlach indicates the Illinois Board of Higher Education also has guidance in place and they will require students to wear masks. He explains they are trying to be as accomodating as possible with their staff on how they feel about a return to campus.
Positive cases among the student body and even staff could become tricky but Dr. Gehrlach indicates there are guidelines to follow. He compares their plans for students to their plans for the flu season.
Students deserve the opportunity of higher education and Dr. Gehrlach hopes those with students that are set to go back to class will educate themselves on the virus.
Dr. Gehrlach invites anyone who wants to learn more about Lincoln College to put their masks on and come over to meet their staff and take a tour of the campus. You can also visit lincolncollege.edu.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture getting reports of residents receiving mysterious packages of seeds in the mail, likely from overseas. Don’t open them or plant them says the agency’s, Scott Schirmer.
Schirmer says IDOA will be sending samples to a lab to determine what the seeds are. He says reports have surfaced in 30 to 40 states. If you receive a package, contact IDOA at email@example.com.
The Farmer City Heritage Days Board announced on Wednesday the cancellation of 2020 Farmer City Heritage Days.
Board officials posted on their Facebook page, that after weeks of deliberation, they concluded that it was the most responsible action to take.
The board is asking all VIP ticket holders to bear with them for the next few weeks, as they determine the best way to handle the situation with their ticket vendor.
All vendors, who were signed up for 2020, will automatically be moved to the 2021 event. However, if the dates do not work, they can request a refund.
2020 sponsors who have to paid to date, will automatically be moved to 2021. For those who have not paid, Heritage Days officials will be reaching out to discuss the situation with them over the next few months.
The Farmer City Heritage Days board has already begun the planning for 2021, which will be June 3, 4, & 5. They hope to have announcements regarding musical entertainment soon.
As schools continue to roll out back to school plans, health officials across the globe continue to say kids are at minimal risk of becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus, and keeping them out of school could cause more to them.
Dave Remmert is the Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department and points out there are many unintended consequences of keeping kids away from school. He indicates kids thrive on the social interactions and says there are experts are recommending kids be back in school.
Many do not like the comparison to the flu season but Remmert points out the CDC in their back-to-school guidance even compared the pandemic to the traditional flu season and its impacts on the school-age population.
According to Remmert, studies are also showing kids are less likely to contract the virus and when they do, they are asymptomatic. He points out that means asymptomatic kids are unlikely to be spreaders.
Protocols for what happens when staff or students test positive likely are to come from local and state health departments. Remmert indicates social distancing is going to be a key to the reaction to positive cases.
Remmert says the idea of a remote learning and in-person learning plan is sometimes necessary for districts because of overcrowded classrooms. He does not have concerns about sending kids back to school because school-age kids are at very little risk of the coronavirus. He adds he would send his kids back to school under these circumstances.
Finding people to fill the voids of police departments have become a challenge across the State of Illinois and the Country.
In DeWitt County, Sheriff Mike Walker is currently looking for a corrections officer in their jail, and filling that position is becoming a challenge. This isn't just a DeWitt County issue either and believes scrutiny of police is one of the many reasons law enforcement agencies are having a hard time finding people to fill their openings.
Competing for officers with neighboring agencies is a big part of the issue as well. According to Sheriff Walker, bigger agencies are hiring with starting salaries much greater than places like DeWitt County and many potential hirees see that starting salary and want the bigger dollar figures.
While many may suggest raising starting wages for officers locally, on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, the Sheriff says budgets for agencies like DeWitt County are much smaller because of the smaller tax-base to draw from.
Wednesday, the Sheriff also discussed the important role police play in responding to volatile situations and the issues with seeking someone else to deal with some of those scenarios. He also believes his department's budget is already bare-bones enough that any idea of cuts is unlikely.
We'll have more with Sheriff Walker next week on Regional Radio News.
Despite the chaos the coronavirus pandemic has created for small businesses, a central Illinois community is celebrating the arrival of a pair of new businesses.
Shelly Crawford-Stock is the Executive Director of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce and Monticello Main Street and tells Regional Radio News Holly's Country Canning and Craft Kitchen opened at the start of the pandemic and has found a way to make it through and has a grand opening at the end of the week.
A new sports complex has been in the works for some time in Monticello and Crawford-Stock says they recently opened. They offer batting cages and turf along with exercise areas and a party room for gatherings.
Crawford-Stock credits both with having solid business plans to maneuver through the pandemic. She points the public to makeitmonticello.com for the latest in business activity in Monticello. You can also search 'Make it Monticello' on Facebook.
Lawmakers and people across the country are paying their respects to the civil rights icon and late congressman John Lewis.
Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin tells a story of a trip he took with Lewis to Selma, Alabama.
Lewis' body lies in state at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, becoming the first Black lawmaker to lie in state at the US Capitol Rotunda.
Members of the House GOP in Illinois are calling for the Illinois Department of Employment Security to come before lawmakers to answer questions about why benefits have taken so long to be delivered to people being sent benefits even though they didn’t even apply. Republican Rep. Tim Butler says hearings need to happen now.
The Governor says the current fraud is connected to nationwide identify theft and it isn’t just an Illinois problem.
Senate Republicans on Monday released their $1 trillion coronavirus relief package.
The proposal would cut enhanced federal unemployment benefits -- set to expire at the end of this week -- to $200, from the current level of $600, which generated swift backlash from Democrats. Central Illinois Republican Congressman Darin LaHood weighed in recently....
LaHood says the plan includes another round of $1,200 checks for most adults, liability protections against COVID-19, and money for businesses disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
The Logan County Health Department is offering free drive-thru coronavirus testing starting Wednesday at the Logan County Fairgrounds.
Kara Davis with the Health Department tells Regional Radio News she contacted the State of Illinois coordinated roughly two weeks' worth of days available for the public to participate. Testing is not restricted to just Logan County residents.
The nasal-swab will be the test for the drive-thru site because Davis indicates it is the most accurate. She explains those that come out do need to have an ID and if possible, proof of insurance. The tests are free but the labs processing the samples are hoping to recoup some of their costs.
For those that are planning to come to the fairgrounds should enter through the east entrance off Route-66/Lincoln Parkway and plan to exit through the Jefferson Street side of the fairgrounds.
Get more information about drive-thru testing by finding the Logan County Health Department on Facebook.
The coronavirus continues to expand its reach locally as more individuals continue to test positive for the novel virus that leads to COVID-19.
Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department, Dave Remmert tells Regional Radio News, two more cases cropped up over the weekend in DeWitt County and Piatt County had three new cases Sunday and Monday.
While low positivity rates are a very good thing for DeWitt and Piatt Counties, central Illinois, and the state as a whole, Remmert believes there are a few flaws with those numbers. He points to healthy people getting tested.
On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Remmert told Regional Radio News, as individuals continue to test positive, the most common symptoms continue to be flu-like symptoms. He also notes many individuals are asymptomatic.
Remmert continues to promote mask-wearing as the best way to help slow the spread of this virus. He discussed a recent trip he took to Colorado where a majority of people he encountered in public were masked. He calls it a very good precaution to get through this.
The Clinton YMCA is operating as close to normal as they can be while still following public health guidelines.
Rennie Cluver, Clinton YMCA executive director, indicates they are allowed to operate at fifty percent capacity and notes this is not a problem due to the size of the facility.
Cluver reports the most noticeable change has been in programming. The pool is currently open to members only and group programming is limited to allow for social distancing.
Members have commented on the cleanliness of the facility and Cluver says it is important for members to feel comfortable and safe. He is happy with the number of people coming out to the YMCA.
In addition to members disinfecting equipment after using them, the custodial staff has increased their disinfecting routines as well.
Cluver notes the increase in cleanliness will become part of their daily routine after the pandemic.
CROP CONDITIONS CONTINUE TO IMPROVE FOR ILLINOIS CORN AND SOYBEANS.
IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT, STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER SAYS CORN IS MOVING RIGHT ALONG.
67 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE BLOOMING AND 36 PERCENT ARE SETTING PODS. THE SOYBEAN CROP IMPROVED TO 76 PERCENT IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION.
THE SECOND CUTTING OF ALFALFA HAY IS NOW 81 PERCENT COMPLETE AND NEARLY ALL WINTER WHEAT ACRES HAVE BEEN HARVESTED.
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE IS RATED AT ONE PERCENT VERY SHORT, 11 PERCENT SHORT, 79 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND NINE PERCENT SURPLUS.
On the sixth straight day that Illinois officials reported more than 1,000 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday again urged residents to wear face coverings to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus.
State public health officials announced 1,231 new cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, with 18 new deaths, bringing the total number who’ve died in the state to 7,416 out of 172,655 confirmed infections, most involving people who have recovered.
After the state recorded fewer than 1,000 new cases a day for 34 consecutive days during June and July, the number has topped 1,000 on 14 of the past 19 days, according to state statistics.
Pritzker said during a stop Rock Island, where, as in Quincy earlier and Rockford later, he met with local health officials, quote - “Things are not moving in the right direction. We have to make sure that people get the message that ... you’re 80% less likely to get COVID-19.”
Althought progress toward developing a vaccine against the virus is moving rapidly, Pritzker predicted during remarks in Quincy that life and social interaction will not return to anything resembling what it was before the pandemic until well into next year.
The Illinois Department of Public Health warned four counties about increasing COVID-19 cases and positivity rates on Friday.
Monday - Governor JB Pritzker visited one of them, Adams county. He says he can’t see Illinois getting out of phase four anytime soon.
Pritzker says mitigation efforts to contain the virus work: keep social distance, wear a mask and wash your hands.
A move to phase five in Illinois has been predicated on a vaccine or wide-spread treatment becoming available.
THE NEXT TIME AN UNFAMILIAR NUMBER POPS UP ON YOUR PHONE GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS YOU MIGHT WANT TO TAKE THE CALL.
AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19 IS CONTACT TRACING…WHERE THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN AROUND SOMEONE WHO HAS RECENTLY TESTED POSITIVE ARE NOTIFIED THAT THEY MAY HAVE BEEN EXPOSED SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER.
HE SAYS THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IN CASE YOU’RE ALREADY INFECTED BUT DON’T KNOW IT YET.
IF YOU ARE CONTACTED, THE CALLER WILL DISCUSS THE POTENTIAL RISK AND ASK YOU TO SELF-QUARANTINE FOR 14 DAYS.
Clinton Lake has been busy this summer thanks to anxious boaters in shelter from home orders for several weeks on top of limited travel during the pandemic.
Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Sergeant John Williamson indicates the boating season might just be busier than normal. He attributes this to boaters making up for lost time during the shelter from home on top of not as much traveling happening during the pandemic.
For the most part, there have been very small incidents but no critical incidents so far. Sgt. Williamson says they continue to deal with typical operating under the influence and boating violations. He stresses regular boating safety messages.
Sgt. Williamson indicates messages they are stressing to new boaters on the lake this year are to find times there is not a lot of lake traffic and practicing driving the boat through water and breaking. He says new boaters often find maneuvering around other watercraft is not as easy as they anticipate.
As Illinois has loosened restrictions across the State, there are very few restrictions in place now on the lake. Sgt. Williamson also reminds boaters coming to Clinton Lake, the west side access ramp is closed.
As summer gardens begin to produce for central Illinois residents, having too much might be an issue and a local University of Illinois Extension educator has some tips.
On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, U of I Extension Educator Caitlin Mellendor outlined several ways to preserve some of these fruits and vegetables. She explains some easier methods of preservation would be dehydration and freezing.
According to Mellendorf, they have wrapped up virtual seminars on dehydration. She explains freezing and dehydration are very simple and while many might wonder about needing a dehydrator for food, she says you can accomplish this without one.
Canning is a much more extensive process and for purposes of teaching the public, requires visuals however, Mellendorf outlines two styles of canning and how to best approach them.
While most University of Illinois Extension offices will have individuals with an abundance of resources available, you can also check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia.
Supporters of the recently approved Tradewind Energy Alta Farms II wind project voiced their support to DeWitt County Board members last Thursday night.
Logan Redman applauded the Board for their decision and pointed out there were many decisions throughout the history of DeWitt County that was unpopular at the time that ended up being good partners to the community. He pointed to the railroad and the power plant as two prime examples.
Barb McMath thanked the board for looking past the 'what about me' mentality and doing what was best for DeWitt County. She called the Board's vote support for a 'forward, progressive movement'.
A statement from The Vault Founder Michelle Witzke was read by Kim Spencer. The statement calls for the community to come together in times of polarizing topics like the wind farm and the presidential race among many others. The Vault founder says our youth are watching and we need to model the American Democratic process in a healthy way for our kids.
(The comments from Spencer were pulled from a post made by The Vault. The Vault and its leadership have not taken a stance on the issue)
Redman called on Board members to end prompting discussions that lead to disparaging and derogatory comments about the Board on social media.
The Board voted last Tuesday night on the Clinton Square to approve the special use permit by Tradewind Energy for their Alta Farms II wind project in the northwest corner of DeWitt County.
Warrensburg-Latham Schools are getting creative in how they are handling bringing students back this fall.
Cheryl Warner took over as the district Superintendent last month and was immediately thrown to the fire in coming up with a return to class plan after Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle departed for the job as the head of the Normal School District.
Warner explains they are offering an alternating schedule for students. She says this will be an overall two-week schedule with students in school five days and then five days of remote learning.
Transitions through the building will be more structured. Warner explains they are implementing things like one-way hallways and staggering release times for different classrooms. She adds they are going to ask students to bring their lunches, at least to start the year.
According to Warner, they offered an extensive survey to their teachers and their community. She notes they received feedback that around 82-percent of parents were ready for students to return to school. Masking was a common theme in their responses.
Nearly 100-percent of teachers say they are ready to return to school in Warrensburg-Latham. According to Warner, not only did they want students in the school building but they did not want to pursue remote learning options.
Administration, nurses, and maintenance are working together to find isolation areas in their buildings for students that might exhibit symptoms or for students that are discovered to be in contact with someone who has COVID or been to a restricted travel area. Warner says other protocols are going to be established by IDPH.
Last week, Warrensburg-Latham Schools released their plans for the upcoming year. Warner points residents to the district's website, their mobile app and Facebook.
It’s been a relatively quiet summer driving season in Illinois and prices at the pump are reflecting that. The average price for a gallon of gas in Illinois is $2.36. Last year at this time, the price was above $3 says Harry Cooney, manager of energy customer risk management for GROWMARK
The national average is currently at $2.18 per gallon, which compares to $2.75 a year ago.
Illinois has the lowest COVID-19 test positivity rate among all states that border it.
Governor JB Pritzker says the low rate is thanks to Illinois citizens sticking to the proper mitigation efforts to reduce and stop the spread of coronavirus. But he says if your still not wearing a mask – you need to start.
The Governor says everyone in Illinois needs to wear a mask, keep social distance and wash your hands so the entire state can remain in the fourth phase of the reopening plan.
Mt. Pulaski students will have something to look forward to besides returning to school under unusual circumstances as a multi-million dollar renovation continues to be ahead of schedule.
Students have been away from the school building since March and that has sped up progress on their campus work. Superintendent Fred Lamkey says air conditioning across the district is about done and that will be a big benefit for them moving forward.
Lamkey reminds everyone what their project encompasses...
Mt. Pulaski Schools are planning to still return to classes on September 8 following the Labor Day holiday. That calendar adjustment was made to make sure construction crews had plenty of time to finish the project ahead of the start of the school year.
Lamkey this week called the delayed start to school an advantage during the pandemic because it is giving them a chance to watch how other schools return to classes go and learn from what they are doing.
THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS REMINDING PARENTS ABOUT THE DANGERS OF CHILDHOOD DROWNING.
LAST YEAR IN ILLINOIS…22 CHILDREN LOST THEIR LIVES DUE TO ACCIDENTAL DROWNING, INCLUDING 10 WHO DROWNED IN POOLS AND ONE WHO DROWNED IN A BUCKET. D-C-F-S ACTING DIRECTOR MARK SMITH SAYS THAT’S WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO KEEP A WATCHFUL EYE ON YOUR KIDS AT ALL TIMES AROUND WATER.
SMITH SAYS IT ONLY TAKES A MOMENT FOR A CHILD TO GET INTO TROUBLE AROUND WATER.
SMITH SAYS A CHILD CAN DROWN IN AS LITTLE AS AN INCH OF WATER. IT’S ADVISED TO SECURE POOLS WHEN NOT IN USE AS WELL AS TOILET LIDS. KIDS SHOULDN’T BE LEFT ALONE IN THE BATHTUB, EVEN IF THEY ARE IN A BATHTUB SEAT.
Illinois seems to be getting rain at just the right time. State climatologist Trent Ford talks the upcoming weekend and what is ahead next week...
Tacky. A political statement. A personal agenda.
Those were just a few of the critical comments from DeWitt County Board member Dan Matthews towards the invocation given by former Board member Cris Rogers at last Tuesday night's special meeting of the Board to vote on the Alta Farms Wind project. The comments came Thursday night as the County Board was set to adjourn from their monthly meeting.
Vice-Chair Camille Redman defended Rogers. Along with Matthews, Board members Travis Houser and Nate Ennis voiced brief statements of support.
This coming week will be the cutoff for registration for the 2020-2021 school year for DeLand-Weldon Schools.
Superintendent Amanda Geary indicates they need to know what their student population will be for remote learning reasons. As a part of the return to school options for their communities, they are offering remote learning and those figures need to be tallied for proper arrangements to be made.
Geary is emphasizing their parents need to register this week if they haven't already. There is an online registration option at the district website or you can call 309-928-7691.
She adds pre-K screenings are coming up on August 4.
Farmer City will have ambulance service and the issue will not have to be taken to referendum November nor will taxes increase for residents of DeWitt County not in the Farmer City Fire Protection District.
Thursday night the DeWitt County Board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Farmer City Fire Protection District to contract with PSI, who currently provides service to the rest of DeWitt County, for ambulance service. Chairman of the Board's Public Safety Committee, Lance Reece was instrumental in making this happen and expressed his elation to have this agreement in place.
Chair of the Board David Newberg pointed out the agreement is for eight-years and the levy in Clinton will go largely unchanged. Additionally, Farmer City is unlikely to reach its max-allowed levy at that time.
According to Reece, PSI will hire a new team of paramedics and EMTs. Additionally, he points out they will establish a post in Farmer City.
The issue was set to go to referendum in November, however, it was to appear on the ballot for Farmer City voters and the rest of DeWitt County voters as separate referendums and failure of just one would have negated any possibility of the two districts coming together.
The agreement was approved unanimously by the Board.
Other business from the Thursday night meeting...
>>The Board approved Curt Utterback to the Weldon Community Fire Protection District Board of Trustees to fill the unexpired term of Rex Swoverland, who resigned.
>>The Board approved the salary for a full-time public defender set as 90-percent of the salary of the State's Attorney
>>The Board approved the salary for Highway Engineer Mark Mathon
>>The Board approved a motion for adding Election Day, November 3 to the County's holiday schedule, part of a mandate from the State of Illinois.
A multi-million dollar school facility renovation is proving to be beneficial before students ever enter the renovated buildings in a Logan County community.
Mt. Pulaski schools renovation of their main campus was going to put off the start of the 2020-2021 school year and Superintendent Fred Lamkey is viewing that delay as a positive as the district continues their planning for a return to class amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As districts grapple with how to handle positive cases for COVID-19 in their buildings, Lamkey points out Mt. Pulaski recently had a pair of positive tests and he believes that has added a level of seriousness and urgency to their conversations.
Mt. Pulaski teachers and parents are ready to return to school. Lamkey says they received overwhelming results from both during surveys and it shocked him to see the community results.
On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Lamkey called his staff 'motivated' and indicates they have yet to hear from a teacher that they are not coming back.
According to Lamkey, today they will be releasing some more details about the Mt. Pulaski proposed return to school strategy. That will include in-person learning five days a week but they will only be half days.
Lamkey has kids that are grown and out of school but if he had kids still in school, he says he would send them to school in the fall without hesitation. He says classroom instruction cannot be replaced with remote learning.
Mt. Pulaski students will return to school after Labor Day on September 8.
Get more information about the district's return to school plans by finding the Mt. Pulaski district on Facebook.
In-person learning will be the goal of the DeLand-Weldon School district starting in August.
Superintendent Amanda Geary on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday told Regional Radio News they are going to follow all the IDPH and ISBE guidance in returning and are offering remote learning options. She adds they will dismiss daily at 1:30 pm.
Students coming to the building will have their temperatures taken daily. Geary indicates they are encouraging students to wear tennis shoes daily because there will be no changing for physical education. Additionally, they are working to utilize their outdoor areas so kids can get a reprieve from the masking mandates.
According to Geary, the district surveyed their community and found there was a segment that did not want to send their kids back due to the masking mandate.
Teachers are ready for students to return to classes as well. Geary believes there was some apprehension about getting back but now they are ready. She adds they are planning for the possibility of remote learning.
Geary does have concerns about what happens if a student or staff member tests positive for the coronavirus during the school year. She explains the complicating factor is each teacher sees each student during the day and that has her concerned if there is a positive test.
Geary plans to send her children back to school where they attend in Lincoln. She is promoting mask-wearing for them.
She says they are doing everything in their power to keep kids safe and believes kids being back in school is best for them to return to their social interactions. She is understanding of any hesitations by the community but continues to stress the health and safety of students and their staff is their top priority.
STATE OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE RISE IN COVID-19 CASES IN ILLINOIS.
THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS REPORTING NEARLY 16-HUNDRED NEW CASES, THE HIGHEST DAILY TOTAL SINCE EARLY JUNE. DIRECTOR, DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS EVERYONE NEEDS TO TAKE THE THREAT SERIOUSLY AND NOT UNDO THE GAINS ILLINOIS HAS ALREADY MADE. THAT INCLUDES WEARING A MASK AND SOCIALLY DISTANCING.
GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE CORONAVIRUS IS HERE TO STAY AND KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES.
THE GOVERNOR HAS SAID IF NUMBERS KEEP INCREASING, SOME AREAS MAY FACE RESTRICTIONS AGAIN. THE CITY OF CHICAGO HAS ALREADY CRACKED DOWN ON BARS AND RESTAURANTS. THE METRO EAST AREA MAY BE NEXT.
The Blue Ridge Board of Education will meet tonight to discuss the latest aspects of the district's return to school plans for the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Superintendent Dr. Hillary Stanifer told Regional Radio News Wednesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, they are planning on having students in the building four days a week with a remote learning day once a week. She explains this latest proposal comes after hearing concerns from the community last week.
The staff has been surveyed several times in the district and most recently, this week, Dr. Stanifer says teachers of their older students and teachers of younger kids differ on which plan they believe would be best.
Every district in Illinois is going to have to have students wearing face masks all day and social distancing. Other guidance, which will come from the State of Illinois, still is undetermined on how to handle positive cases of the coronavirus.
Dr. Stanifer says their plans are likely to change again before school begins and anticipates more guidance from health officials as the start of school nears. She thanks everyone on their committee to plan their reopening.
For the latest in Blue Ridge Schools reopening procedures and plans, you can find the district on Facebook.
Youth in Clinton will be in the classroom five days a week with a daily early dismissal time in a plan approved by the Board of Education Tuesday night.
There will of course be mandatory masking and social distancing by the kids but Superintendent Curt Nettles told Regional Radio News Wednesday morning on the WHOW they want their kids back in the building following recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois School Board Association.
According to Nettles, after guidance from the Board of Education and community feedback, the district reversed course on taking temperatures before students enter the building and having staff self-certify they are symptom-free.
Survey results of district teachers and staff indicated 92-percent wanting to return to school and be back with kids, provided all the protocols were implemented and being strictly followed. Nettles indicates he intends to strictly adhere to the guidelines laid out by IDPH and ISBE.
An alarming number from the community came back to the Board of Education and prompted them to make a change. Nettles explains initially the district did not intend on offering a remote-learning plan because he did not believe there would be enough community support for one, however, that changed upon survey results from community members.
If a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19, the State of Illinois has protocols that will be handed down to districts. Nettles explains that will be a procedure out of their control.
Many are concerned about students being able to handle wearing a mask all day and students being able to social distance. Nettles encourages parents to work with their kids on why mask-wearing has to be done and its importance in their return to school and he is confident teachers will be able to keep kids 6-feet apart.
The district released its plans in their entirety at the district website, cusd15.org. Nettles is confident teachers will have excellent procedures in place to make sure kids follow the guidelines and is confident this will work.
Looking for something to do? Rock Springs Nature Center has reopened to the public.
Richie Wolf, Executive Director of Rock Springs Nature Center, notes they reopened to the public on June 29 when the State entered Phase Four. For those visiting masks are required and they are limited to a twenty-five percent capacity.
Wolf indicates guests will notice some different exhibits on display. Temporary exhibits now are summer-themed and they have moved around the live animal exhibits.
Wolf says the crowds have been good sized considering how the weather has been the past few weeks. Hikers have been reporting an increase in snakes on the trails and around the property.
To stay up to date on Rock Springs Nature Center visit maconcountyconservation.org.
Legislators in Washington are working on another stimulus package.
Congressman Darin LaHood indicates litigation protections for businesses against coronavirus infections need to be included. He says a lawsuit is the last thing small businesses need who are already hurting.
Congressman LaHood voiced his concerns on unemployment compensation from the last stimulus package. He says current unemployment insurance incentivizes people not to work and wants to put a limit on how much individuals can receive.
The new bill will allocate relief for businesses that have disproportionately affected during the pandemic along with aid for municipalities that have been hit hard.
Congressman LaHood notes while many are wanting to send out individual checks a second time, he is hesitant due to the amount of debt it will accumulate.
Congress is currently in session through the end of July before a recess in August.
Can mosquitoes transmit the Coronavirus? The answer is no, they cannot. Dr. Cliff Martin with OSF Healthcare explains that the nature of COVID-19 is not bloodborne and thus would not be passed along by mosquitoes...
Mosquitoes can carry disease but most, especially those native to the U.S, tend to cause little more than mild skin irritation.
ILLINOIS HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE CALLING FOR A SPECIAL SESSION ON ETHICS REFORM.
REPRESENTATIVE GRANT WEHRLI (whirl-lee) OF NAPERVILLE SAYS IN LIGHT OF SCANDALS THIS YEAR, INCLUDING THE MOST RECENT BRIBERY CASE WITH COM-ED, IT’S TIME TO GET TO WORK.
GIVEN THE MOST RECENT SCANDAL TO PLAGUE THE LEGISLATURE…A COM-ED FEDERAL BRIBERY CASE, REPRESENTATIVE DEANNE MAZZOCHI OF ELMHURST SAYS LAWMAKERS NEED TO GET BACK TO SPRINGFIELD. SHE CALLS ON THE DEMOCRATS TO GET ON BOARD WITH SOME OF THE G-O-P’S PROPOSED REFORMS.
HOUSE G-O-P MEMBERS SAY LAWMAKERS NEED TO DO WHAT THEY CAN TO CLOSE LOOPHOLES AND ADOPT REFORM MEASURES TO HELP END CORRUPTION IN SPRINGFIELD.
GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HE WILL DO ALL HE CAN TO STOP FEDERAL PROTECTIVE SERVICE AGENTS FROM COMING TO CHICAGO.
REPORTS SAY THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP MAY SEND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO CHICAGO TO HELP COMBAT RECENT VIOLENCE AND CRIME. THE GOVERNOR IS AGAINST THAT MOVE, SAYING ITS HIS JOB TO PROTECT THE CIVIL LIBERTIES OF ILLINOIS RESIDENTS.
BOTH THE MAYOR OF CHICAGO AND GOVERNOR PRITZKER OPPOSE PRESIDENT TRUMP’S REPORTED PLAN TO SEND AGENTS INTO THE CITY TO HELP FIGHT VIOLENCE AND CRIME. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE STATE SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONSULTED FIRST.
PRITZKER SAYS HE PUT IN A CALL TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY BUT WAS TOLD NOT TO EXPECT AN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE.
GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING A MORE THAN 21 BILLION DOLLAR PLAN TO IMPROVE ROADS AND BRIDGES IN ILLINOIS.
IT’S ESTIMATED THAT OVER THE NEXT SIX YEARS…MORE THAN 33-HUNDRED MILES OF ROAD AND EIGHT MILLION SQUARE FEET OF BRIDGE DECK WILL BE RECONSTRUCTED SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER.
THE MONEY WILL BE USED OVER NEXT SIX YEARS TO RECONSTRUCT MORE THAN 33-HUNDRED MILES OF ROADS AND MANY BRIDGES AROUND THE STATE. THE GOVERNOR UNVEILED THE PLAN IN COLLINSVILLE WITH AREA REPRESENTATIVE KATIE STUART.
THE GOVERNOR SAYS THIS WORK WILL ALSO CREATE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF JOBS IN ILLINOIS. THE WORK IS BEING FUNDED BY THE GOVERNOR’S “REBUILD ILLINOIS” INITIATIVE.
If you have brush due to the storms this past weekend, the City of Clinton is waving pile size requirements.
City Administrator Tim Followell indicates the ordinance normally limits the size of the brush pile to be left out for pickup. Following significant storms, crews understand that the rule may be hard to follow
Followell asks citizens participating in the brush pickup to get their brush to the curb before crews come by so work is not delayed. Citizens can call city hall to know when the crews will be in their area.
To know when the brush will be picked up call City Hall at (217) 935-9438.
The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported new cases of the coronavirus for both counties Sunday.
DeWitt County had one new case, a 45 year old female living in Farmer City who is isolating at home. She is a healthcare worker in another county and is being managed by her employer's Occupational Health. Her close contacts have received testing and are quarantined at home.
Piatt County reported four new cases Sunday. One is a 22-year-old male living in Cerro Gordo. A 54 year old female living in Monticello was exposed to a confirmed case at her place of employment and is isolating at home. The third case is a 35 year old female living in Monticello who is a healthcare worker in another county. The fourth new case is a 48-year-old male living in Monticello who was a close contact of a confirmed case and is isolating at home. Close contacts have received testing and are quarantined at home.
To date, DeWitt County has tested 1,401 specimens with 1,380 returning negative and no tests pending. 16 individuals have recovered and 5 active cases remain. Piatt County has tested 2,672 specimens with 2,643 negatives, zero pending, 20 recovered cases, and 9 active.
A state senator is glad the Governor is using a more regionalized plan but is fearful of what that might mean.
Senator Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, indicates a more regionalized plan is something Republicans requested when Gov. Pritzker introduced his 'Restore Illinois' Plan. Rose notes it makes a lot of sense when potentially the need to bring back restrictions arises.
Sen. Rose feels the Governor's announcement is in response to what is happening across the country and anticipates a resurgence of the coronavirus in parts of Illinois.
Sen. Rose says the more localized the decision to impose more restrictions the better.
The heat remains on ComEd and the Speaker of the House. Governor JB Pritzker says he’s still waiting for more information before calling for Mike Madigan to step down as both the head of the Illinois Democratic Party, Speaker of the House, or as a legislator. Pritzker says if the allegations are true, he has to step down but Pritzker, for now, seems to be waiting out the allegations for more proof. He is willing however to continue to push for ethics reform at the statehouse.
U.S. Attorney John Lausch told reporters last week that ComEd paid millions in bribes to "Public Official A" for contracts and favorable legislation starting in 2011. Court documents do not identify "Public Official A" but say he was Speaker of the House. Madigan has been House Speaker since 1997 and is also chair of the Illinois Democratic Party. ComEd has agreed to pay a 200-million-dollar fine in connection with the case and cooperate with the feds.
The National Weather Service has released the August to October Central Region Climate Outlook.
Meteorologist Brian Pierce with the National Weather Service says a La Nina watch has been issued for the next six months—which could mean colder temps and wetter than normal conditions this winter.
CROP CONDITIONS IMPROVED OVER THE PAST WEEK.
55 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE BLOOMING AND 67 PERCENT OF THE CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER TAKES A LOOK AT CORN...
69 PERCENT OF CORN IS SILKING AND NINE PERCENT IS IN THE DOUGH STAGE. 63 PERCENT OF THE CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
94 PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS BEEN HARVESTED AND THE 2ND CUTTING OF ALFALFA HAY IS 75 PERCENT COMPLETE. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE IS RATED AT ONE PERCENT VERY SHORT, 17 PERCENT SHORT, 77 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND FIVE PERCENT SURPLUS.
Dove Financial Assistance, a program of Dove, Inc., will reopen its DeWitt County Site to assist those seeking one-time financial assistance for an emergency need.
Due to the restrictions of the stay at home mandate, DFA was only doing no-contact support via email, calls, and faxes this spring. They will offer in-person services at the Dove Office in Clinton from 8:30 to 11:30 am the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. The Dove Office is located at 803 W. Leander in Clinton.
For more information call (217) 433-7435, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit doveinc.org.
The Clinton YMCA's golf outing benefitting the Strong Kids Campaign is Friday.
Rennie Cluver, Clinton YMCA executive director, indicates the fourth annual 'Fore A Great Cause' golf outing is set for Friday, July 24 with a 9 am shotgun start. It is usually held the first Friday in June but was rescheduled due to the pandemic.
Cluver says they will be following guidelines to make it safe while trying to maintain a 'normal' atmosphere. He says lunch and the awards ceremony will be held outside as well.
The deadline to register is Thursday, July 23. To register contact the YMCA at (217) 935-8307.
After surveying parents, the Monticello School District will be looking at incorporating a remote learning option into their in-person learning plans in the fall.
Monticello Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman says the district's current draft plan is for students to return to school in the fall, but after surveying parents about 25 percent preferred remote learning.
Dr. Zimmerman says the district has is prepared for 100 percent remote learning if it is needed for the upcoming school year. In addition to in-person learning, they will also prepare a remote learning option for those not comfortable with in person.
Dr. Zimmerman indicates the in-person learning plan is a draft plan as it has yet to be approved by the school board. He says regarding the remote learning option they may have to strike a compromise.
Regarding in-school learning, Dr. Zimmerman says masks will be mandatory, social distancing will be maintained where possible, and routine handwashing will be implemented. He says they are currently looking at having parents verify students' temperatures through a mobile app.
The Monticello School Board will convene July 29 to review the in-school learning plan. Monticello schools will begin instruction on September 2.
The Clinton Chamber of Commerce had hoped to be able to reschedule their 2020 business expo originally scheduled for March but earlier this month canceled their yearly fundraiser.
Executive Director Marian Brisard told Regional Radio News Friday the indoor nature of their event was probably not going to be able to work and doing the event outdoors provided a lot of challenges.
The Business Expo is one of the many fundraisers put on by the Chamber, like their golf outing. The golf outing has been rescheduled for September and Brisard is optimistic it will be able to happen with some modifications.
During the spring, the Chamber lost its May Days fundraiser along with the annual Business Expo. Brisard says that is going to take quite a toll on their budget this year but thanks to the First National Bank in Clinton, they did receive funds through the bank's COVID-relief program.
Brisard is thankful that many of the vendors that pre-registered for the annual Chamber Expo have volunteered their registration fees back to the Chamber.
Registrations for the annual golf outing are going on now. To register contact the Chamber at 217-935-3364 or visit clintonilchamber.com.
The City of Monticello is excited about the possibilities that will be coming to a property near their downtown.
Director of Community Development Callie McFarland says the property of the former Pepsin Plant has been a target area for development for over a decade. She is excited about the possibilities for a local developer who has taken up the task to create a multi-purpose property.
There will be some residential development along with commercial development. McFarland indicates there are some great possibilities for that part of the community.
According to McFarland, the developer will create retail space with an empty canvas with big, front-facing windows towards the railroad tracks. The evolution of the space from industrial to commercial has been a great transition for the downtown Monticello.
Zoning approvals begin today and the City Council will approve those. Then the purchase and sales agreement and redevelopment agreements should all be approved in August. McFarland indicates she and the developer are optimistic a groundbreaking of the project could still happen this year despite the lost time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The IHSA last week deferred any future guidance in a return to play policy to the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Governor's office.
After student-athletes had returned to practices and workouts under approved guidance, IDPH a few weeks ago quickly reversed course and mandated all student-athletes wear masks which effectively shut down many summer programs. State Senator Chapin Rose says this should another local control issue.
According to Sen. Rose, the idea of having local communities make policy based on what is best for them is the best course of action. He says as people go back indoors, that has shown to lead to spikes in cases and could lead to changes in education policy.
The IHSA has not made any further announcements about the status of the fall sports season and remains on track for sports to begin August 1, however, the Governor's office nor IDPH have made any announcements either.
GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HIS LAWSUIT TO REQUIRE MASKS IN SCHOOL IS ABOUT PROTECTING CHILDREN AND STAFF.
THE SUIT, FILED IN SANGAMON COUNTY, SEEKS A JUDGE’S APPROVAL OF THE GOVERNOR’S ORDER REQUIRING MASKS FOR STUDENTS, TEACHERS, AND STAFF.
THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED IN RESPONSE TO THREE ILLINOIS SCHOOLS THAT SAY THEY WILL NOT REQUIRE MASKS WHEN CLASSES RESUME. THE GOVERNOR WANTS A JUDGE TO APPROVE THE MANDATE.
PRITZKER SAYS ACCOMMODATIONS WILL BE MADE FOR STUDENTS AND STAFF THAT CAN’T MEDICALLY WEAR A MASK, SUCH AS USING FACE SHIELDS INSTEAD. GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS HE WOULD NOT SEND HIS OWN CHILDREN TO A SCHOOL THAT DOESN’T REQUIRE MASKS.
Two new cases of the coronavirus in DeWitt County and four new cases in Piatt County were confirmed Saturday.
One case in DeWitt County is a 21-year-old female healthcare worker who was exposed to a co-worker and a household confirmed case. The case is being managed by the Employer's Occupational Health. The other new case is a 49-year-old female with mild symptoms with an unknown etiology. The previous hospitalized case in DeWitt County returned home Saturday and is on isolation. There are currently 0 hospitalizations in DeWitt County.
Two new cases in Piatt County are from the same household: a 27-year-old asymptomatic male and a 29-year-old asymptomatic male. A 51-year-old male who is asymptomatic is pending a third test result as he believes he does not have COVID-19 with no known exposures. The fourth case is a 47-year-old female with mild symptoms that are improving. She is a contact of a confirmed case form a different county.
The cases have been informed of their isolation obligation and report to the health department daily. All identified close contacts have been notified, are quarantined, and are being monitored daily.
IDPH on Saturday announced 1,384 new confirmed cases of coronavirus including 22 additional confirmed deaths.
Community-based and mobile testing sites have increased access to COVID-19 testing throughout the state, resulting in over 40,000 specimens tested for the second consecutive day. Mobile testing sites will continue to visit counties in Illinois to ensure all residents have access to COVID-19 testing in their communities.
Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 159,334 cases, including 7,272 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 43,692 specimens for a total of 2,166,299. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of the total test from July 10–July 16 is 3.0%. As of last night, 1,431 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 309 patients were in the ICU and 128 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
A wide-ranging public corruption investigation surrounding ComEd has the utility willing to pay $200 million to the feds to settle the matter in a deferred prosecution case.
Along with the fine comes the realization that Public Official A in the investigation is Speaker of the House Mike Madigan.
The US Attorneys Office says between 2011-2019: "ComEd arranged for various associates of (Madigan) including (Madigan's) political allies and individuals who performed political work for him to obtain jobs, vendor subcontracts, and monetary payments.." even where they performed little or no work.
Today Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says Madigan might need to step down.
As part of the deferred prosecution case it appears that ComEd has an “obligation” to continue to cooperate with government investigations.
A Heat Advisory will last throughout much of the weekend but things will get back closer to normal next week. State Climatologist Trent Ford has the details....
The Director of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital Farmer's Market was fearful the coronavirus pandemic would take away from the sense of community the farmers market has naturally developed since its inception in 2016.
While the pandemic has altered the way the weekly market looks and operates to some degree, Chelsea Campbell says people are persevering and continuing the sense of community that makes the ALMH farmers market special.
Throughout the summer, Campbell says they have seen tremendous support and participation from their vendors. While there are some protocols they have to follow with attendees, they are as enthusiastic as ever.
Visit almh.org or find the ALMH market on Facebook for the things happening at the market.
Logan County had eight new cases of the coronavirus this week and as we head to the weekend, two new cases are confirmed.
Nurse at the Logan County Health Department Kara Davis tells Regional Radio News, they are tracing the outbreak to an event in the community last weekend. She says it is a situation they are keeping an eye on.
Mask-wearing. Mask-wearing. Mask-wearing. Davis says that is the best thing we can do right now. She says the coronavirus is real and it is not going away unless we mask.
As of Friday afternoon, Logan County was up to 34 positive cases with 15 active cases. With 3,800 samples conducted, the County's positivity rate was .9-percent.
Last week the DeWitt County Museum announced their plans to cancel the 2020 Apple n' Pork Festival. This week they are announcing plans to set up their kettles, light a fire and sell ham and beans and ham sandwiches for Apple n' Pork weekend. Director Joey Woolridge says it is a throwback to their roots of the very first apple n' pork festival 50-plus years ago.
Wooldridge indicates the loss of the Apple n' Pork Festival will not only impact the Homestead but it will also be a big loss for the non-profit groups that set up on the grounds. Each year, Regional Radio News provides expansive coverage of the Apple n' Pork Festival and non-profits say the festival annual provides them with most, if not all, of the fundraising they do in a year.
According to Woolridge, the decision to cancel the festival this year was not easy and credits her board for wanting to make the festival happen but the situation at hand just was not going to allow it to work. Additionally, she points out canceling the festival might just be as much work as making it happen.
While still disappointed, Woolridge looks forward to having the Apple n' Pork Festival back again in the fall of 2021.
JUST A FEW DAYS ARE LEFT FOR COMMUNITIES TO APPLY FOR A RESTORE, REINVEST, RENEW STATE GRANT.
THE GRANT PROGRAM IS FUNDED BY THE SALE OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA IN ILLINOIS, WITH MONEY GOING TO AREAS HARDEST BY THE WAR ON DRUGS. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JULIANA STRATTON SAYS APPLICATIONS ARE DUE MONDAY.
HER OFFICE IS TRYING TO SPREAD THE WORD…
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROGRAM AND TO APPLY, VISIT: R3 DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.
More and more small-town events getting canceled throughout Illinois due to the pandemic. The latest-- the Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive Fall Festival in west-central.
Festival chair Robbin Kost says 2020 would have been the 53rd year of the event that sees vendors and visitors from across the nation flock to west central Illinois.
THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPPED LAST MONTH IN ILLINOIS.
THE STATE’S JOBLESS RATE FELL NEARLY A FULL PERCENTAGE POINT TO 14 POINT SIX PERCENT IN JUNE. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON SAM SALUSTRO SAYS CLOSE TO 143 THOUSAND JOBS WERE ADDED LAST MONTH.
SALUSTRO SAYS THEY HOPE THE NUMBERS KEEP IMPROVING.
STILL, THAT’S A DECREASE OF ALMOST 600 THOUSAND JOBS IN ILLINOIS COMPARED TO LAST JUNE WHEN COVID-19 WASN’T A FACTOR. THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT LAST MONTH CAME IN AT 11 POINT ONE PERCENT.
Illinois Farm Bureau continues to seek input from the county level, specifically as it relates to policy issues moving forward. The organization’s Mark Gebhards says it’s been a challenging seven-year stretch in the ag sector.
The IFB’s “Resolutions Committee” will be meeting Aug. 12 to address a number of issues.
Schools are working out plans right now as to what a mid-August restart will look like.
Governor JB Pritzker says the guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education will lead schools to the right decision for each building and district in the state. But education may look different for some students and schools more than others.
Pritzker says the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, and families of students is the most important thing to understand.
The Farmer City Public Library is celebrating some recent contributions that will bolster their collection.
Director Amy Johnson indicates WILL in Champaign-Urbana has always been a great partner with them and explains they recently contributed reading bags for families to borrow. She explains these bags have books, games, and activities for families to borrow.
The DeWitt County Farm Bureau recently donated a set of agriculture-themed children’s books to the Farmer City Public Library as part of the DeWitt County Agriculture in the Classroom program. Johnson indicates among the titles are; “Full of Beans, Henry Ford Grows a Car” by Peggy Thomas, “Tales of the Dairy Godmother” by Viola Butler, “John Deere, That’s Who!” by Tracy Maurer, “Right This Very Minute” by Lisl H. Detlefsen, and “The Popcorn Astronauts” by Deborah Ruddell.
A long-time teacher from Blue Ridge passed away and a memorial was established to fundraise and purchase books. Johnson explains the donations were split between the library and Blue Ridge High School.
The Farmer City Library remains closed but Johnson says as their collection continues to grow, they are getting more and more people participating in their curbside pick up program. Get more information about curbside pick-up by calling 309-928-9532 or email email@example.com.
As school districts in Illinois announce their plans for the reopening of school, a local lawmaker says those strategies are going to look different all over Illinois.
State Sen. Chapin Rose believes students need to be back in school but there also needs to be protections for teachers and staff at these buildings. As districts make their plans, he points out there is a lot of outside mandates school leaders have to keep in mind that is making this process difficult.
Sen. Rose indicates there are varying opinions among superintendents in his district and there are varying plans that are coming together for his area as well.
According to Sen. Rose, each community appears to be making plans based on the severity of the coronavirus facing their communities. He points out there are mandates that are going to make some aspects of a return to school incredibly difficult.
The Mahomet Republican believes the State of Illinois feels like they have given districts the freedom to make their own decisions but school leaders say they feel like they are tied up and the restrictions only get tighter as the State changes things.
Revenue shortages were anticipated by most communities through the coronavirus pandemic but one Piatt County community says they are pleasantly surprised by what they are finding.
Callie McFarland is the Director of Community Development in Monticello and indicates her surprise to find revenues for the City have been steady throughout the entirety of the pandemic.
Many communities anticipated having to dip into any reserves they had built up and McFarland says Monticello is fortunate that they should not have to do that this year. She notes though their capital budgets down the road may not be as great.
McFarland gaming just resumed across Illinois but those revenues for the City are going to be much less than predicted. She believes reserves are in a good place and will have to do a thorough examination in a few months when their budgeting process begins again.
It was just a few years ago the City adjusted their fiscal calendar from January 1 to December 31.
Congressman Darin LaHood says mask-wearing has become the norm for him and his household when they go out in public and encourages everyone to do the same.
The Dunlap Republican says it is concerning to see a spike in areas of the country that have people disregarding social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. He says we all have to be focused and disciplined in our efforts during this pandemic.
Congressman LaHood credits residents in his district for their diligence in mask-wearing and supports wearing masks as there is evidence it is working.
Vaccine studies are well underway and Congressman LaHood says it is imperative we come up with one because the government has invested a great deal of money into a vaccine. He is confident something will come to market but says we can't plan on that being any time soon.
President Donald Trump has worn a face-covering on a very limited basis throughout the pandemic, something that has drawn much criticism. While Congressman LaHood does not know for certain, he speculates perhaps the President wants to show strength as the face of the United States. He did note, he would encourage the President to continue to wear a mask when appropriate and praised Vice President Mike Pence for his regularity in mask-wearing.
With more 90-degree temperatures predicted later this week in Illinois, local health experts are hoping you will play it safe. If you can't avoid the heat, you are urged to take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated.
Once you get too hot, Dr. John Rinker with OSF HealthCare says you can start to experience heat illness. He says heat-related illness can largely be avoided by taking the proper precautions.
Kids and the elderly are the most susceptible to heat related problems including heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, so health officials advise you make it a point to check on them regularly. For more high temperature safety tips go to www.Ready.Illinois.Gov.
While wet conditions mixed with a cold snap provided tough planting for farmers, recent hot and dry days make the market jittery.
Curt Kimmel, with Bates Commodities in Normal, says the weather in the next couple of weeks is vital as corn begins pollination.
Kimmel added that recent heavy rains have not allowed cash crops to soak up the water, flooding many fields.
As a result, farmers will begin to see skipped rows and smaller yields.
STATE OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE CAREFULLY WATCHING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAKS AND HOTSPOTS IN ILLINOIS.
GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS SINCE THE STATE MOVED INTO PHASE FOUR, CASES AMONG YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS HAVE BEEN HIGHER THAN EVER BEFORE.
THERE HAVE BEEN DOZENS OF CASES AMONG KIDS PARTICIPATING IN AN ATHLETIC CAMP IN SUBURBAN LAKE ZURICH AND SEVERAL BARS AND RESTAURANTS AROUND THE STATE HAVE HAD TO SHUT DOWN TEMPORARILY DUE TO COVID INFECTION. THIS IS TROUBLING SAYS ILLINOIS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay).
THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS REPORTING NEARLY 12-HUNDRED NEW CASES AND EIGHT ADDITIONAL DEATHS. THE SEVEN DAY POSITIVITY RATE IN ILLINOIS ROSE SLIGHTLY TO THREE POINT ONE PERCENT.
When the Governor created the Restore Illinois plan the entire state was broken up into four large regions. Wednesday JB Pritzker announced that the state will now be split into 11 parts that follow EMS regions that have normally guided the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Metrics in those regions will used to determine if an area needs additional mitigation to control the spread of COVID-19.
To roll an area back to more restrictive measures there needs to be a sustained increase in the seven day rolling average of the positivity rate along with the sustained seven day increase in hospital admissions for a COIVD like illness, a reduction in hospital capacity that threatens surge capabilities or three consecutive days of testing show a greater than eight percent positivity rate.
Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions have led organizers to cancel the upcoming 2020 Redneck Fishing Tournament in Bath, Illinois.
The annual fishing tournament-invasive species protest and river party is known to draw hundreds of people from across the state and country to the tiny Illinois River town of Bath in Mason County on the first weekend in August. Organizer Betty DeFord says the Redneck Fishing Tournament began as a quirky protest against the invasive Asian carp that have taken over vast stretches of the Illinois River. The fish crowd out native species and ruin sport and commercial fishing. But they are most notorious for shooting out of the water when spooked by passing boats….
The tournament is unique in many ways, most notably that fishing poles aren’t used. Instead, contestants see how many fish they can net as the Asian carp jump out of the water.
The 2019 tournament was also canceled because of severe flooding and the damage left behind at the boat launch and nearby grounds.
GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS SCHOOLS NEED TO MAKE MASKS A REQUIREMENT FOR STUDENTS HEADING BACK TO THE CLASSROOM THIS FALL.
THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION RELEASED GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS TO REOPEN, BUT DISTRICTS CAN WORK OUT ALL THE SPECIFICS. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THAT SHOULD INCLUDE STUDENTS AND TEACHERS WEARING MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND LIMITS ON THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS PER CLASSROOM.
GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS MANY DISTRICTS WILL LIKELY OFFER A COMBINATION OF IN-PERSON AND REMOTE LEARNING THIS FALL.
THE GOVERNOR SAYS DISTRICTS COULD BE HELD LIABLE IN COURT IF THEY DON’T MAKE A GENUINE ATTEMPT TO ENACT THESE SAFETY PROTOCOLS.
The county fair season has come to a screeching halt in Illinois due to the pandemic. It’s been a tough summer at the local level says interim Illinois Director of Agriculture Jerry Costello.
The Whiteside and Coles county fairs were the latest fairs to cancel last week.
We’re at the halfway point for meteorological summer, which is June-through-August. What is Freese-Notis meteorologist Dan Hicks looking for in the second half of July?
The latest Illinois crop report has 61-percent of the state’s corn crop in good to excellent condition with 59-percent of the soybean crop in either good or excellent condition.
Most marching band events around the state have already been canceled and the coronavirus is sure to make the 2020 fall marching season different.
That's the message from Clinton High School band director Nathan Wheeler who indicates he recently met with the high school administration to discuss the prospects of a fall marching season and it is beginning to look like this year will be very unconventional.
According to Wheeler, if there is no marching band camp, it will be difficult to have a traditional show ready for any performances they may have. While hard to predict, he is optimistic perhaps later in the season they could have some semblance of a show for the community.
For the time being, Wheeler is in a day-by-day mindset because the situation changes so often. He notes though, he has begun to consider options for the winter concert season and perhaps streaming their concerts for the community.
Wheeler indicates they will not be using their band uniforms this year to respect social distancing guidance and to protect the volunteers it takes to distribute and fit the uniforms for their students. He is disappointed things will not be the same but he remains optimistic the band will be able to perform this year thanks to planning with the administration.
The National Weather Service in Lincoln has issued a Tornado Watch for the entire Regional Radio listening area until 9pm tonight.
There is the threat of severe thunderstorms and a possible tornado, across our area this afternoon and evening.
Stay tuned to Regional Radio and dewittdailynews.com for the latest weather information.
DeWitt County residents sat in disbelief Tuesday as nightfell on the Clinton Square after the DeWitt County Board approved a special use permit for the Tradewind Energy Alta Farms II wind project in the northwest corner of DeWitt County.
Many sat motionless, others shed tears but Andrea Rhoades, who leads the group Residents Against Windfarms in DeWitt County was not afraid to share her feelings on the vote. She called out Cole Ritter who was not in attendance.
A number of amendments were proposed by Board member Terry Ferguson, among them was to eliminate two wind towers that would dozens of non-participating landowners. Rhoades felt that amendment was worthy of consideration but was ultimately voted down. She indicates non-participating landowners they represent were disappointed as well.
Rhoades says there are many avenues that their non-participating landowners could pursue and they will regroup and figure out what is next. She anticipates a lawsuit to be forthcoming because they believe the application does not meet the county ordinances.
Tradewind Energy officials are celebrating the Tuesday night decision by the DeWitt County Board supporting their Alta Farms II special use permit application.
Lead Developer Tom Swierczewski appreciates all the community support they have received and indicates Tradewind will be regrouping starting tomorrow and moving forward with their project.
Over a half-a-dozen amendments to the application were approved. Sweirczewski does not view any of those as making the project impossible. They will have to review those and move forward accordingly.
In a written statement Tuesday night, Swierczewski added, quote - “We greatly appreciate the time afforded to this project by the County Board during this incredibly challenging period. Alta Farms has enjoyed significant community support since it was initially proposed nearly 10 years ago, and we are excited to begin construction and put hundreds of local residents to work on what will be a first-rate wind farm that is an asset to the entire community. While we are proud of the project we will be building, we also know there are continued concerns from some, and promise to work in good faith toward a long-term mutually beneficial partnership with the entire community.”
After nearly a decade of work to receive approval from the DeWitt County Board, Tradewind Energy received the blessing of the County in a 6-5 vote to move forward with their Alta Farms II wind project in the northwest corner of DeWitt County.
Over a dozen amendments were proposed to the special use application by Terry Ferguson, but after a failed attempt to send the permit back to the Zoning Board of Appeals for further review. Ferguson pointed out the county's zoning officer did not feel the application was complete and the Regional Planning Commission and the ZBA both agreed with that assessment.
Melonie Tilley also agreed with Ferguson's proposal and Ferguson also pointed out they have sent many applications back to the ZBA for further review. He believes if the ordinances and processes mean anything, anyone applying for a special use permit needs to be in line with those.
Ferguson and Tilley's proposal to send the application back to the ZBA was turned away by a 6-5 vote.
The Board discussed over a dozen amendments brought forward by Ferguson. An amendment to strengthen the decommissioning plan for the project was approved by a 6-5 vote. He says this strengthens that Tradewind will abide by the County's ordinance for decommissioning of the wind towers.
In the event a tower is to be moved from its proposed site, Ferguson proposed adding an amendment Tradewind do a shadow flicker study and noise study. Tilley questioned if moving a wind turbine was not a violation of the ordinance and State's Attorney Dan Markwell directed Tilley to the recommendation of the ZBA.
After the motion by Ferguson failed, he proposed deleting the condition and that motion was approved.
DeWitt County non-participating landowners within a half-mile of the footprint of one of the turbines will receive financial compensation. Ferguson says with their application, a list of landowners within a half-mile of each of their turbines must be included in their building permit application.
Among the proposed changes that failed was one for a reduction of nighttime visual pollution from the towers. Tradewind did not include an application to the FAA for an aircraft detection lighting system and Ferguson's proposal sought to eliminate the nighttime visuals emitted by the turbines.
Ferguson proposed eliminating two turbines from the footprint of the plan because it would impact several dozen, non-participating landowners. The proposal failed and perhaps received the most reaction from a very calm, but the sizeable crowd on the Clinton Square.
Among other amendment adjustments and proposals from Ferguson that failed were an amendment regarding construction taking place over a drainage district, coordination with DNR in regards to preservation of wildlife, roadwork could only begin upon plans being submitted to the County Highway Engineer, and to limit impacts of shadow flicker to 15 hours per year.
Amendments that passed included a sound study to be conducted by Alta Farms within 12 months of any sale of the project.
Prior to the vote, Tilley and Ferguson offered up one final piece of advice to their fellow board members....
Board members that voted in support of the special use application were Board Chair David Newbert, Vice-Chair Camille Redman, Lance Reece, Jay Wickenhauser, Scott Nimmo, and Christie Pruser.
Those who voted in opposition to the special use application were Ferguson, Tilley, Nate Ennis, Dan Matthews, and Travis Houser.
Cole Ritter was absent from the Tuesday meeting.
In a special meeting tonight held on Mr. Lincoln's Square in Clinton, the DeWitt County Board voted 6 to 5 to pass a special use permit by Tradewind Energy for their proposed Alta Farms II wind project.
The motion passed with several amendments. It's not yet known if the amendments will slow or stop the project.
The meeting was broadcast live on all of WHOW's platforms. Extensive reaction from both sides, will be in WHOW and WEZC local newscasts tomorrow, as well as posted on dewittdailynews.com.
A 33-year old DeWitt County female is currently hospitalized due to complications from the coronavirus.
Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Dave Remmert indicates the individual has a number of comorbidities and likely contracted the virus from someone in her household. He is very concerned about this particular case.
While the case of this individual is serious, he indicates the recent spike in cases in DeWitt County should not be the measure of the severity of the situation locally. He points out the State of Illinois is beginning to do more promotion of the statewide hospitalizations.
According to Remmert, numbers have stabilized since last week and points out many of the individuals that did contract the virus most recently had traveled out-of-state. He says it still a concerning disease and promotes the importance of wearing a mask in public and practicing social distancing.
Summer gatherings may be off the table but on the table tonight on the Clinton Square is a vote by the DeWitt County Board for a special use permit by Tradewind Energy for their proposed Alta Farms II wind project.
A vote originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 18 was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic's escalation locally. After setting a remote meeting for June 2, the meeting was again postponed in hopes of Illinois moving to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois guidelines and having the Board in the same room.
Tonight, the Board will not be in the same room, however, they will be at the same table, so-to-speak.
The Board will be set up on the Clinton Square with a professional-grade sound system in place for everyone in attendance to hear.
Tonight's meeting begins at 6 pm. The Clinton Square will be closed to traffic beginning at 5:30 pm.
Additionally, those who cannot attend or wish not to be a part of a large gathering can hear the meeting in its entirety on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com, at the WHOW mobile app and at Amazon Alexa.
The Vespasian Warner Library in Clinton has expanded the hours they are open.
Samatha Rusk, Vespasian Warner Library Business Manager, indicates the library is currently open from 11 am to 7 pm Monday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. The library is taking precautions including increased cleaning and desk guards. Visitor capacity is limited to 50 people and masks are required.
Patrons can browse and select their books, audiobooks, movies, videogames, and magazines for check-out. Public computers, fax, printing, copies, and laminations are also offered. Summer Reading Club participants can also receive a weekly kit filled with crafts and activities to complete at home.
For more information visit www.vwarner.org or call (217) 935-5174.
As the summer rolls along, road maintenance projects will begin to increase locally.
The City of Clinton's million-and-a-half dollar Center Street project is underway and DeWitt County Highway Commissioner Mark Mathon says they have small projects ready to get underway next month. According to Mathon, seal coat work is on tap for Parnell Road, Birkbeck Road, and Friends Creek Road.
Last year, the State of Illinois doubled the gas tax in hopes of having more money for infrastructure improvements. Mathon indicates most of the money they receive from motor fuel tax funds, or MFT, automatically go into yearly maintenance projects.
Revere Road is the next targeted spot for a major road renovation project coming up for the Highway Department. Much farther in the future, addressing roads that have not received much attention, specifically in the Waynesville area, will be a priority.
US Highway 51 in parts of DeWitt County has been susceptible to buckling in the intense heat we experienced last week. Mathon says be aware of that as you make your way around throughout the summer.
THE ILLINOIS CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFORMATION AUTHORITY IS OFFERING MORE THAN SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS IN GRANTS TO ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING RELIEF DURING THE PANDEMIC.
AUTHORITY ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JASON STAMPS SAYS THE MONEY WILL GO TO GROUPS IN AREAS HIT ESPECIALLY HARD BY THE VIRUS, AND CAN BE USED FOR SEVERAL CONCERNS.
THE MONEY CAN BE USED FOR THINGS LIKE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, RENT AND UTILITIES, FOOD BANKS AND MORE.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO APPLY, VISIT THE ILLINOIS CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFORMATION AUTHORITY'S WEBSITE.
A CONSUMER ECONOMICS EDUCATOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION SAYS CHECKING YOUR CREDIT REPORT IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THEN YOUR CREDIT SCORE.
THE EXTENSION'S KATHY SWEEDLER SAYS IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO REVIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IDENTITY THEFT.
SWEEDLER SAYS TO MAKE SURE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION IS CORRECT AND THAT ACCOUNTS LISTED ARE INDEED YOURS.
SWEEDLER SAYS USUALLY, YOU CAN VIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT FROM EACH OF THE THREE CREDIT BUREAUS ONCE A YEAR. BUT BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC, YOU CAN CHECK IT ONCE A WEEK THROUGH APRIL 2021.
The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about the dangers of hiring a moving company. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, or perhaps because of people wanting to move to areas with lower concentrations of the virus, Americans are continuing to move about the country at a brisk pace.
The agency gets about 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers each year. BBB Investigator Don O'Brien says among the complaints are day-of-move price increases.
On the backside of the move, some companies demanded more money, and would basically hold belongings hostage unless the extra money was paid. Before hiring a moving company, O'Brien suggests you watch out for fly-by-night companies, be wary of unusual requests, get everything in writing, and keep an inventory of your belongings.
Encore Developmental Services is planning to bring back its community day services on September 1.
Stephanie Coonce, Executive Director of Encore Developmental Services, indicates they have reopened their thrift store and garden showcase program. In getting things going again for Encore, she adds members of the Employment Services Program are gradually being brought back.
Encore will be able to reinstate their community day programming under state guidelines beginning September 1. Coonce details who is eligible for day services and who they serve.
Individuals with disabilities are often immunocompromised and research shows they are more likely to die from or contract the coronavirus. Moving ahead under the state guidance, Coonce stresses they will have to be cautious when bringing back those individuals.
They have surveyed families and they are ready for their children to go back to work and be reintroduced into the community. Coonce points out a group home administrator interviewed felt the Encore Thrift Store was safer due to the low amount of cases in DeWitt County.
Coonce says their highest importance is reintroducing day service members into the community safely.
Piatt County residents will be able to participate in a growing program through a central Illinois non-profit starting this week.
Community Action's food pantry coop program has been wildly successful in DeWitt and Logan Counties, and now the agency is taking it to Piatt County. According to Breann Titus with Community Action, they plan to expand the program to all the counties in their service area.
Community members sign up to be a member of the food pantry and according to Titus, they then are given various volunteer work within the agency, and once a week, that work results in them being able to shop the pantry.
According to Titus, they find most of the people that participate in their program in DeWitt and Logan Counties want to work for their food and not just receive a handout. She adds they have even seen the need for this program increase through the pandemic because of the loss of jobs in their communities.
Community Action has a partnership with the Midwest Food Bank and they get food once-a-month. Additionally, Titus adds they receive private food donations and monetary donations from local organizations and churches.
Visit capcil.info or find Community Action on Facebook to learn more. Additionally, the coordinator of the Piatt County Program is Pam Shephard, and Monday she will be at their Monticello office 1115 North State Street for the grand opening of the program for anyone that would like to stop in and talk to her.
Thanks to a grant from the State Fire Marshall's Office, the Cisco Fire Department in Piatt County will be purchasing new fire gear.
Fire Chief Matt Wilhelm tells Regional Radio News they will be able to purchase around eight new full uniforms, including the pants, helmet, coat, and gloves.
According to Chief Wilhelm, the Fire Marshall's grant is one of three they applied for. He is hopeful a one through the federal government and one through the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System division, or MABAS, will allow them to do an upgrade of a lot of equipment.
The Chief indicates this is part of a five-year plan the department has and points out, grant writing is a very lengthy and involved process.
The Cisco Fire Protection District received $24,640 from the State Fire Marshall's office in a round of $3.5-million of grants to over 150 fire protection districts across the state in late June.
If you're planning on attending the Tuesday evening meeting of the DeWitt County Board for their vote on the special use permit for the Tradewind Energy Alta Farms II wind project, social distancing will be up to each individual.
According to Board Chair David Newberg, they are asking those that come out to police themselves in efforts to social distance. He says mask-wearing won't be a requirement to sit on the square.
Individuals that want to can wear masks.
The square will get closed down to traffic at about 5:30 pm. Those wanting to attend are encouraged to use the City lots around the square plus the Christian Church and the State Bank of Lincoln are making their lots available to the public.
Tuesday's meeting gets underway at 6 pm. Hear it in its entirety on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, at the WHOW mobile app and Amazon Alexa.
Central Illinois received some much-needed rain Thursday night and a nice weekend will be followed by another dry week. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...
The annual Apple n' Pork Festival has been canceled.
The Museum Board announced the decision Friday afternoon. Director Joey Long tells Regional Radio News given the state of the coronavirus pandemic in other parts of the country paired with the fact the guidelines for Illinois' Phase 4 Restore Illinois guidance would likely not allow the festival to work.
The Apple n' Pork Festival is the largest fundraiser of the year for not only the Homestead but also so many non-profits that set up on the grounds and raise money during the weekend as well. While it will be difficult to raise all the money, Long anticipates smaller fundraisers having to help supplement those losses.
Long confessed her tone is one of disappointment but hopes we all make it through this time in good health and looks forward to bringing back the festival in 2021.
DeWitt County Museum Association President, Daniel Hauffee, in a release Friday said, quote - “Orders issued at the state level as well as the local level will be adhered to. Thus, the festival, which draws an average of 80,000 attendees from DeWitt County, across the state of Illinois, as well as the country, and involves the volunteer labor of hundreds of local residents, would pose an elevated risk to those visitors, volunteers and vendors in attendance as well as our home community.”
Held annually the last full weekend of September, this fall festival was established in 1967 by the DeWitt County Museum Association to provide the funds necessary to restore, maintain, and operate the C.H. Moore Homestead DeWitt County Museum. The Apple ‘n Pork Festival was officially trademarked by the DeWitt County Museum Association in 2018. While originally serving as a means to generate funds for the DeWitt County Museum Association, the festival has grown and evolved to include numerous local non-profit organizations that serve DeWitt County and rely heavily on the event to carry out their own mission statements as well.
Earlier this week the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported difficulty in compliance in contact tracing with a Farmer City family that had contracted the coronavirus.
Director of the Health Department Dave Remmert says contact tracing is a vital step in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, especially as there has been a small uptick in cases in DeWitt County in the last week. He indicates most of the time there is good compliance in contact tracing but they do encounter individuals that do not participate in the vital step from a public health perspective.
According to Remmert, contact tracing is highly recommended for those that contract the coronavirus, and not cooperating is very risky. While it is strongly encouraged, if individuals refuse to take or return phone calls from health department officials, there is very little they can do.
When the Health Department is informed of a positive test, they receive information about the individuals to contact them, attempt to contact them, and work through a lengthy questionnaire to determine close contacts and those that live within their household. Prolonged exposure is determined as someone they were in an enclosed area for more than 15 minutes. The process continues with the individuals identified by the infected person. He points out it can become a lengthy process.
Remmert also continues to promote mask-wearing. He says studies are showing it is a good measure to slow the spread of this virus.
Tonight the Atlanta Public Library and Museum will be hosting an Award-winning musician and folklorist for a remote performance.
Chris Vallillo will perform via a live stream performance at 7:00 PM on the library's Facebook page. The library has hosted him twice to great acclaim in the Library’s Loft at Union Hall, and this concert offers a timely look at the music of the Civil Rights Movement.
The performance is possible thanks to a grant from the Illinois Humanities through its Road Scholars program. Community programs of the Atlanta Public Library are also supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation Mirza Arts & Culture Fund.
The Civil Rights Movement has been described as one of the greatest singing movements this country has experienced. From We Shall Overcome to This Little Light of Mine, music played a vital role in that historic struggle both as an inspirational rallying point and as a way to spread the message of equality and justice.
The live-streamed event features pivotal songs from the music that inspired and sustained this landmark movement. Intermixed with the music, Vallillo also will share first-hand accounts and historic images of the historic struggle and discusses the impact of music on our nation’s most important social cause.
For more information, contact the Library at 217-648-2112. Check their Facebook page.
Bement schools are planning on having students in their buildings full time come the start of the new school year, however, they will be reducing class hours.
Superintendent Dr. Sheila Greenwood on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday told Regional Radio News the reduction in hours is to reduce the amount of mask-wearing time for their kids and also to allow them additional time to clean. The announcement comes after the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois School Board Association put out guidelines to return to class amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Greenwood indicates they received around an 80/20 split of parents that would have their students comply with the mask mandate to those that say they would not. She indicates they are still working through how to handle the situation of a student that may not return to class in the fall for whatever reason.
Bement school teachers told district leadership they were all in for a reopening of schools in the fall. Dr. Greenwood says not one teacher gave them a dissenting vote and so that gave them a leg up in a return to class strategy. She notes though, there is more guidance likely to come from IDPH regarding any outbreaks in school.
Dr. Greenwood asks everyone to quote - "chill out" because school is still a month or more away. She points out while children are at low risk to high-level complications from the coronavirus, there are adults who will come into contact with the kids that could be at risk and they are going to do their best to keep everyone as safe as possible.
It’s growing season in Illinois, but that doesn’t mean farm safety isn’t any less important. Megan Schossow (shaw-so) is with the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH).
UMASH is promoting a safety initiative called "Stop-Think-Act" while working on the farm.
While Coronavirus cases continue to rise, President Trump is threatening to pull federal funding for schools if they don't open in the fall; however one Illinois lawmaker says it should be up to the schools to make the decision. That's the opinion of U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville.
Davis added that the Coronavirus pandemic has turned more into a political issue rather than a health issue.
As DeWitt County and surrounding area residents return to the Neighborhood Care Center, or NCC, on Main Street, they will be greeted with a new, fresh look.
Cody Monkman (pictured right) is the Director of NCC and indicates they spent the shutdowns updating the facility with a new look. Thanks to a grant, a modern front door was planned to be installed ahead of the pandemic sweeping through Illinois. Additionally, the inside of the facility received a much-needed facelift.
As residents enter the facility, they will have their temperature taken and there will be PPE available including masks and hand sanitizer. Monkman says a temperature of 100.4 or below allows you access to the facility.
According to Monkman, their 15 services will be condensed to a focus of their weekly services. He indicates some services won't change but others are seeing some alterations, for instance, their neighborhood market program.
For the latest guidelines and services update with the Neighborhood Care Center, find them on Facebook.
The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department earlier this week announced four new cases of the coronavirus in DeWitt County.
Three share a household and live in Farmer City. They include a 44-year-old female and her two sons. Contact tracing is at a stand-still due to a lack of cooperation.
The 4th new case is a 47-year-old male living in Clinton. Contact tracing is still being established.
That is no more information available at this time.
The Illinois Department of Public Health today announced 1,018 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 20 additional confirmed deaths.
DPH is reporting a total of 150,450 cases, including 7,119 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 36,180 specimens.
The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of the total test from July 2 –July 8 is 2.6%.
As of last night (Wednesday night), 1,507 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 317 patients were in the ICU and 153 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
If you shopped at the Clinton Save A Lot at any point during the shutdowns, you were likely able to find anything you needed.
Store owner Dave Jackson on the WHOW morning Show Thursday indicates there were certain items they found themselves challenged to keep in stock consistently like bread and a few other things but for the most part, they were able to keep their shelves stocked for almost the entirety of the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns.
About a week ahead of when the country was turned upside down, Jackson had a hunch something was about to happen and began getting as much inventory on everything as he could. He had double the supplies coming in and stored it all at his old store off the Clinton Square.
According to Jackson, the mask-wearing policy at the story has evolved. While patrons are encouraged to wear a mask, he believes he has found a happy medium for him and his staff after Jackson himself experienced some complications from the mask-wearing.
Jackson praised his employees for stepping up amid the craziness and being there for the store and the community.
Jackson will be in his new location on Washington Street for four years in November.
Plans to return to school are going to look widely similar for area districts but nothing will be universal as the State of Illinois is allowing school leaders to formulate strategies that work best for their communities.
Mahomet-Seymour schools have organized a task force to survey the community and teachers and come up with a return to school proposal. Dr. Lindsey Hall is the Superintendent of the district and indicates they formulated their team at the end of May.
According to Dr. Hall, the community was excellent in providing input and she says it seems to favor having children back in the schools. She believes having kids in school is the best place for them.
The Mahomet-Seymour teachers union is working closely with the Board of Education to formulate a plan for them and they will lead the way in finding out the feelings of the staff of the district. Dr. Hall says it will be a challenge to make everyone happy but they will keep the health and safety of their staff and students as their top priority.
Dr. Hall expressed her hope for a plan for students that may not want to or cannot return to school in the fall. She believes being a public school, they shouldn't exclude anyone from learning. As for teachers that cannot or do not want to return to the classroom, they will explore several options for them.
As the school year goes along, Dr. Hall says whatever plan they come up with will likely change. She indicates everyone is going to have to be flexible and ready for changes along the way.
Pushback to a progressive income tax in Illinois. Illinois Farm Bureau is part of a group expressing opposition says the organization’s Mark Gebhards.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce; National Federation of Independent Business and the Technology and Manufacturing Association are also opposed to a progressive income tax for Illinois.
THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS WARNING ABOUT THE DANGERS OF EXTREME HEAT.
THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT YOURSELF IS TO REALLY STAY HYDRATED AND TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS IF YOU’RE WORKING OUTSIDE SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay). SHE SAYS SIGNS OF TROUBLE CAN APPEAR QUICKLY.
DOCTOR EZIKE SAYS TROUBLE CAN BEGIN QUICKLY.
SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION INCLUDE DIZZINESS, HEADACHE AND COOL AND CLAMMY SKIN. IT SHOULD BE TREATED BY MOVING THE PERSON TO A COOL SPOT AND GIVING THEM FLUIDS. HEAT STROKE IS THE MOST SERIOUS AND INCLUDES A HIGH FEVER. IN THAT CASE, SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY AND DO NOT GIVE FLUIDS.
Appearing before a panel of Washington D.C. lawmakers, Governor JB Pritzker called on the federal government to do more to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Pritzker wants action from the White House.
The Governor also wants the federal government to commit to sending financial assistance to cities and states along with giving certainty to individuals that health insurance will cover the cost of COVID-19 testing.
GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE STATE IS EXPANDING IT’S MOBILE COVID-19 TESTING OPERATION.
THERE ARE ALREADY 11 FREE, STATE RUN DRIVE THRU AND WALK UP TESTING SITES IN ILLINOIS AND MANY MORE PRIVATE SITES SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER. ADDITIONALLY,
THE GOVERNOR SAYS ILLINOIS HAS ONE OF THE LARGEST TESTING PROGRAMS IN THE COUNTRY.
TO FIND A TESTING SITE NEAR YOU, VISIT: CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV AND CLICK ON “RESOURCES.”
Drought conditions are already persisting in parts of Illinois and things are only anticipated to get worse as the National Weather Service predicts long periods of hot and dry weather throughout July and August.
Chris Miller at the National Weather Service in Lincoln tells Regional Radio News drought conditions are already prevalent in many areas of Illinois and they are monitoring the number of 90-degree days ahead along with any rainfall coming our way.
Miller is predicting dry and hot weather lasting through July and into August. He indicates last week, drought conditions for roughly 30-percent of Illinois showed up as abnormally dry.
If you're in eastern or western Illinois, things don't seem to be too bad right now. Miller says pop-up thunderstorms this summer have aided in keeping their moisture levels at an adequate level.
Miller says to get a good, consistent rain in some parts of the area you need a strong weather system to move through. Miller says while a million-dollar rain would go a long way in easing the stress on the crops in many places in Illinois, he just doesn't see the dry weather breaking any time soon.
40 students at a time are welcome at The Vault in Clinton as the teen center expands its capacity with the State of Illinois entering Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.
Executive Director Tammy Wilson on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday told Regional Radio News they have pretty much reopened almost all activities except a few to allow for social distancing. They are also being very proactive in sanitization practices.
According to Wilson, as students get back they are finding a few who are needing support services for mental health but she feels, for the most part, their students handled the shutdowns very well and believes the concern now turns to what the next school year looks like.
As students return to The Vault, Wilson indicates they are still offering support services and tutoring. Students or parents can get more information about those services by stopping into The Vault on the north side of the square in Clinton or by visiting thevaultclinton.org.
Heyworth Schools' $8M construction projects are nearing completion thanks to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Lisa Taylor, Heyworth Superintendent, indicates the project was planned a year ago and consisted of replacing roofs and boilers along with a new competition gym addition at the high school.
Taylor says in addition to building work, the district is replacing furniture in classrooms. Taylor notes this is something many community members felt strongly about.
Taylor indicates all construction projects will be completed well in time to mark the return of students.
US Senator Dick Durbin says Washington needs to step up and pass another stimulus bill to support the economy around the country. But Durbin wants more than checks going to citizens again. This time he says more needs to be done to stabilize governments who have seen revenues fall with tax collections down. Those same governments can’t cut back on services to citizens.
This week US Senate leader Mitch McConnell looks like he is coming around to talking about another round of support.
THERE'S ONLY ABOUT A WEEK LEFT TO FILE YOUR INCOME TAXES IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY DONE SO.
TAXPAYERS HAVE UNTIL WEDNESDAY, JULY 15TH TO FILE THIS YEAR DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESPERSON SAM SALUSTRO SAYS ABOUT 85 PERCENT OF PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY FILED.
SALUSTRO SAYS THEY ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO FILE ELECTRONICALLY SO THAT THEY WILL GET THEIR REFUNDS QUICKER.
IF YOU'RE FILING A 10-40 FOR YOUR STATE TAXES, YOU CAN DO IT FOR FREE ONLINE AT: MY TAX DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.
Putting the pieces together for kids who show livestock in Illinois. The Illinois State Fair canceled, but interim Illinois Department of Agriculture director Jerry Costello says it was paramount to give youth a showing opportunity this summer.
Most local county fairs have also been canceled this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of groups are taking a stand together against Governor JB Pritzker’s plan for a progressive income tax. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce, along with the Illinois Farm Bureau, Technology and Manufacturing Association and N-F-I-B held a joint news conference to announce their opposition.
But it’s going to be a big money fight. Pritzker has already donated $51 million to support the plan – Todd Maisch President of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce says they won’t have to spend that much to get their message out.
The Vote Yes for Fair Tax Chairman says in a statement that “working people overwhelmingly support the fair tax because everyone who makes under $250,000 will get a tax cut or pay no more”.
How’s the Corn Belt shaping up with weather and crop conditions.
That’s Freese-Notis agriculture meteorologist Dan Hicks speaking with the RFD Radio Network on Tuesday.
Get used to hot and dry weather.
That is the message from the National Weather Service in Lincoln and Tuesday on the WHOW Morning Show, meteorologist Chris Miller indicated Illinois is right in line with the typical figures for 90-degree days and we are going to see the hot and dry prolonged weather arrive earlier than normal.
Miller describes the midwest as being under a big bubble of warm air that will not move. He says all the moisture is way up in the northern midwest and into Canada.
According to Miller, the weekend could offer greater chances of rain Friday and a very nice weekend with temperatures falling to the 80s before warming back up next week.
Tuesday morning Miller also discussed how the widespread dry weather is impacting drought conditions in Illinois. We'll have more on that later this week on Regional Radio News.
One of the first events in DeWitt County to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic was the DeWitt County Museum's pancake breakfast in early-March.
Monday the Museum announced they have rescheduled the event for a drive-thru breakfast. Director Joey Long says just pull up the morning of July 25 between the hours of 7 am and 10 am at the Clinton American Legion, grab your breakfast and take it wherever you'd like and enjoy.
If you had tickets to the early March breakfast, those will still be honored for the breakfast later this month. Long indicates the breakfast includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, and biscuits and gravy.
Adult breakfasts are $8, children 10-and under are $4. Proceeds benefit the DeWitt County Museum.
Again, the breakfast is Saturday, July 25 at the Clinton American Legion Hall at 219 N. Elizabeth Street in Clinton.
The State Fire Marshall's Office is continuing its investigation into the fire in Clinton that left the sanctuary of the Clinton Assembly of God Church a total loss on the morning of June 16.
According to Fire Marshall's spokesperson JC Fultz, details of the investigation at this time are slim, only offering that the investigation is ongoing.
Over 100 hundred firefighters from over a dozen fire departments in central Illinois assisted Clinton Fire Department in the morning hours on June 16. Clinton Fire officials were at the scene into the late-afternoon putting out hot spots.
THE CONDITION OF ILLINOIS CORN AND SOYBEAN CROPS DROPPED THIS PAST WEEK.
CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER SAYS 22 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE BLOOMING AND ONE PERCENT OF THE CROP IS SETTING PODS. 63 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION, DOWN FROM 68 PERCENT THE PREVIOUS WEEK.
SCHLEUSENER LOOKS AT CORN:
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE DECREASED TO THREE PERCENT VERY SHORT, 26 PERCENT SHORT, 66 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND FIVE PERCENT SURPLUS.
THE SECOND CUTTING OF ALFALFA IS NOW 38 PERCENT COMPLETE.
THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS URGING THE PUBLIC TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR BUCKLING ROADS AS HIGH TEMPERATURES PERSIST.
EXTREME HEAT AND HUMIDITY LIKE THE STATE IS EXPERIENCING RIGHT NOW CAN CAUSE THE PAVEMENT TO EXPAND AND BUCKLE SAYS I-DOT SPOKESPERSON PAUL WAPPEL.
BUCKLING OCCURS WHEN THE PAVEMENT GETS REALLY HOT AND EXPANDS, CAUSING UNEVEN DRIVING SURFACES AND A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION.
WAPPEL SAYS THEY ARE ASKING PEOPLE TO REPORT ANY ROAD BUCKLING THEY SEE BY CALLING 1-800-452-IDOT OR 9-1-1.
Legalizing the use of golf carts in Clinton was proposed by a small group of Clinton residents Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting.
Led by Nate Ennis, they are seeking the Council allow for golf carts to be an appropriate means of transportation on city streets. Ennis says it would be a great convenience to him and others who live, work and do business in the city.
Other communities in central Illinois have recently taken up legalizing the use of golf carts on city streets but Ennis points out Monticello is likely a good, close comparison for Clinton and he indicates they have had very little issue with such a measure.
Clinton Mayor Roger Cyrulik expressed concerns over perhaps drivers of motor vehicles getting distracted and causing problems for those drivers of the golf carts.
Public Safety Commissioner Dan Ballenger offered a stern warning about anyone getting hurt in these vehicles and felt it would be a good idea to do this on a trial basis. He would become very concerned if even one person was killed.
Commissioner John Wise offered his support for the idea noting this issue has come up before, however, since that time, state laws have adjusted which would allow for a golf cart-type vehicle to cross a major roadway like Business 51, Route 54 and Route 10.
Commissioner Wise also echoed support for Commissioner Ballenger's idea to offer this as a trial and revisit it in a year or sooner under the event there are any incidents regarding motorists and golf cart drivers. The two also indicated they would like to see regulations require seatbelts and proper turn signals.
With no new coronavirus cases in DeWitt County for well over a month, the Fourth of July weekend brought a small surge in cases locally.
Cases in DeWitt County increased from 4 to 12 during the days leading up to and through the Fourth of July weekend. DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert indicates most cases are young and relatively healthy individuals with either no symptoms or mild symptoms. The average age of the cases is younger than the state average.
An outbreak at the Syngenta factory in Wapella was a suspected hot spot of some of these cases but Remmert indicates only one case has come from Syngenta. He notes the importance of contact tracing has helped them keep an outbreak from happening at the plant.
Pinpointing an exact cause of the recent spike is difficult, however, Remmert says the increase in testing across the country is going to show more cases. He adds mask-wearing is important to minimize the spike in cases and continues to caution against exposing older populations and people with pre-existing health conditions.
Remmert believes the warm summer is going to have an impact on the spread of the virus. Studies are showing UV rays, heat, humidity, and the breeze can keep the virus from spreading. Additionally, data is suggesting the virus is not spread on surfaces. He says the understanding of this virus is growing and maintains his belief young, healthy people getting the virus and recovering quickly is a good thing and is working towards establishing herd immunity.
Write Stuff for Kids is partnering with Edwards Jones Agent Bryce Starkey to collect school supplies for students in Clinton and Blue Ridge for the 2020-2021 school year.
Write Stuff for Kids' Edith Brady-Lunny explains every year they hand out school supplies to children in need. Supplies like paper, markers, and glue sticks are usually the most needed items for the program that supports roughly 400 students a year.
This will be the third year Bryce Starkey has partnered with Write Stuff for Kids. Items can be dropped off at his Edward Jones office on the north side of the Clinton Square. He says it's a great way to support the community.
The month of July is the designated time for the collection as Write Stuff for Kids looks forward to their annual distribution in August. Brady-Lunny explains they also do a shopping trip of their own to supplement the rest after what the community provides.
Starkey's office is across from the Abraham Lincoln statue on the Clinton Square. Starkey says dropoffs are welcome between 8:30 and 5 pm Monday through Friday. There is a bin for collections at his office and the final day for dropoffs is August 8.
School districts are going to have to have three plans in a return to school strategy for the fall because so much is unknown.
That is the belief of Maroa-Forsyth Schools Superintendent Dr. John Ahlemeyer who indicates there is likely to change between now and the start of school in August. With that in mind, districts are likely to have to come up with plans for a full return to class, a hybrid of students in the building and remote learning, and a 100-percent remote learning plan.
In preparation for students to return to class in the fall, Maroa-Forsyth schools have ordered PPE for their students and teachers as masks will be a requirement for kids in the buildings. Dr. Ahlemeyer indicates there has been some pushback on the mask requirement from parents but so he is trying to keep their kids safety as the top priority.
Planning with teachers for their return will begin next week. Dr. Ahlemeyer says they will survey their teachers on their thoughts on a return to class. Because every individual will have different feelings on the return to school, he says they will have to be prepared to meet their needs.
There are a lot of things that are achievable for schools to pull off in the guidelines put forward by the state. Dr. Ahlemeyer indicates there are some challenges as well. We'll have more on his thoughts on reopening next week on Regional Radio News.
While museums are permitted to reopen to the public per Phase Four guidelines, one local museum will stay closed.
The McLean County Museum of History has decided to remain closed until the completion of renovations to its public restrooms and historic lighting fixtures. Candace Summers, the museum's Director of Education, says the project is made possible through long-awaited grant money.
In addition to the restrooms and lighting fixtures, Summers indicates County of McLean has budgeted for the Museum to receive a new roof. The Museum currently is expected to reopen mid-late September.
Summers notes, while they are closed, they are working to make sure the Museum will be able to follow the guidelines once they can reopen.
To stay up to date on the museum's reopening date virtual programming visit www.mchistory.org.
A US Senator from Illinois continues to get attention from the Biden campaign as a possible Vice-Presidential candidate.
Tammy Duckworth remains on the shortlist as a possible running mate for Joe Biden. She was on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday and pushed back at President Donald Trump’s speech at Mt. Rushmore.
Duckworth says she is focused on the next COVID-19 relief plan and it needs to include child-care provisions to support working families.
DESPITE THE RECENT RAINS, JUNE ENDED UP DRIER AND WARMER THAN NORMAL IN ILLINOIS.
THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE WAS NEARLY 74 DEGREES LAST MONTH. THAT'S ALMOST TWO DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL AND TYING FOR THE 26TH WARMEST JUNE ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. THE BIGGEST DEPARTURES IN TEMPERATURES WERE IN NORTHERN AND NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD.
FORD SAYS PRECIPITATION VARIED WIDELY LAST MONTH, WITH AREAS OF WESTERN ILLINOIS AND EAST CENTRAL ILLINOIS GETTING MORE THAN EIGHT INCHES OF RAIN AND PARTS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTH-CENTRAL ILLINOIS ONLY RECEIVING ABOUT A HALF AN INCH.
FORD SAYS THE SHORT TERM OUTLOOK IS CALLING FOR DRY, HOT WEATHER.
Teachers in the Bement school district are ready for students to return for onsite learning in the fall.
Bement Superintendent Dr. Sheila Greenwood indicates she surveyed her teachers recently and one hundred percent of her staff were in agreement with students returning.
Dr. Greenwood notes in-person learning is especially important for early education. Students at that age are learning the fundamentals that they will carry with them for the rest of their school days.
The Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health are mandating students and staff wear masks all day for in person instruction this fall.
The Illinois Fire Marshall's Office this week awarded $3-million in grant funding to Illinois Fire Departments and the Latham Fire Protection District is going to purchase air-packs with their $26,000.
Dan Hawk is the District's Board of Trustees President and says it is going to be a big boost to their budget.
The Latham Fire Protection District is seeking to update its fleet. Hawk indicates because new fire engines are expensive, they have their sites set on refurbishing a truck in their five-year plan.
Additionally in Logan County, the New Holland Fire Protection District received just short of $25,000.
The Maroa Countryside Fire Protection District received $26,000 in Macon County. Harristown Fire Protection District received just short of $24,000 and Blue Mound Fire Protection District received $26,000. Argenta-Oreana Fire Protection District received $26,000.
Cisco Fire Protection District in Piatt County received just short of $25,000 while the North Piatt Fire Protection District received just over $25,000.
And Armington Community Fire Protection District in Tazewell County received over just over $15,000.
EXPECT TO SEE MORE POLICE OUT ON THE ROADS OVER THE FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY WEEKEND.
I-S-P CAPTAIN J-W PRICE SAYS THEY ARE BOOSTING PATROLS AND TROOPERS WILL BE LOOKING FOR SPEEDERS, DISTRACTED DRIVERS AND DRUNK DRIVERS.
THERE ARE USUALLY MORE FATAL CRASHES, OFTEN INVOLVING ALCOHOL OR DRUGS THIS TIME OF YEAR SAYS I-S-P CAPTAIN J-W PRICE.
STATE POLICE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL ALSO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR SPEEDERS, DISTRACTED DRIVERS AND THOSE NOT WEARING A SEATBELT. PRICE URGES ANYONE CELEBRATING WITH DRINKS THIS FOURTH TO HAVE A PLAN FOR GETTING HOME SAFELY.
THAT INCLUDES HAVING A DESIGNATED DRIVER, USING A RIDE SHARE SERVICE, TAXI OR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. IF YOU GET BEHIND SOMEONE THAT APPEARS TO BE DRIVING DRUNK, PULL OVER AND CALL 9-1-1.
THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR IS ALERTING LOCAL OFFICIALS ABOUT A NEW HIRING REQUIREMENT FOR PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS.
A LAW REQUIRING AT LEAST 90 PERCENT OF WORKERS HIRED FOR A LOCAL PUBLIC WORKS JOB TO BE FROM ILLINOIS KICKS IN AFTER TWO MONTHS OF A STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HIGHER THAN FIVE PERCENT SAYS ASSISTANT DIRECTOR JASON KELLER.
AFTER TWO MONTHS OF UNEMPLOYMENT RATES ABOVE FIVE PERCENT..A STATE LAW KICKS IN MANDATING THAT 90 PERCENT OF WORKERS USED FOR LABOR ON A PUBLIC WORKS PROJECT BE FROM ILLNOIS. THE IDEA IS TO PUT MORE ILLINOISANS TO WORK SAYS ASSISTANT DIRECTOR JASON KELLER.
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS CAUSED THE STATE JOBLESS RATE TO SOAR TO MORE THAN 17 PERCENT IN APRIL AND OVER 15 PERCENT IN MAY. KELLER SAYS THE REQUIREMENT WILL BE ENFORCED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE.
COMMUNITIES HAVE UNTIL JULY 20TH TO APPLY TO THE STATE'S RESTORE, REINVEST AND RENEW PROGRAM.
THE "R-3" PROGRAM OFFER GRANTS FOR INITIATIVES IN AREAS DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED BY THE WAR ON DRUGS. THE MONEY COMES FROM TAX REVENUE GENERATED BY THE SALE OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA AND CAN BE USED TO ADDRESS SEVERAL NEEDS SAYS QUINN RALLINS WITH THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR'S OFFICE.
25 PERCENT OF TAX REVENUE GENERATED BY THE SALE OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA GOES TOWARDS THE "R-3" PROGRAM, PROVIDING GRANT MONEY TO COMMUNITIES HIT ESPECIALLY HARD BY THE WAR ON DRUGS FOR THINGS LIKE VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS USUALLY HAVE A SPECIFIC NEED IN MIND SAYS QUINN RALLINES WITH THE ILLINOIS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR'S OFFICE.
GROUPS INTERESTED IN APPLYING FOR A GRANT SHOULD VISIT: R3 DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV. A MAP IS AVAILABLE LISTING WHICH AREAS ARE ELIGIBLE.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JULIANA STRATTON'S "CULTIVATE OUR COMMUNITIES" INITIATIVE IS HIGHLIGHTING SPECIALTY GROWERS AROUND THE STATE.
THE IDEA IS TO PROMOTE THESE SMALL BUSINESSES, THAT PROVIDE NUTRITIOUS FOOD TO FAMILIES AND ARE THE BACKBONE OF THE MIDWEST. THE LATEST EFFORT IS THE ILLINOIS VICTORY CHEESE BOX, PUT TOGETHER BY CELEBRITY CHEF RICK BAYLESS SAYS JANELLE GURNSEY WITH THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR'S OFFICE.
THE OFFICE'S JANELLE GURNSEY SAYS EACH WEEK THE PROGRAM FOCUSES ON VARIOUS PRODUCERS AND THE FRUITS, VEGETABLES, CHEESE AND MORE THAT THEY OFFER.
THE BOX IS AVAILABLE FOR ORDER ONLINE THROUGH SUNDAY AT: https://www.prairiefruits.com/
July has gotten off to a warmer than normal start and that trend will continue along with drier conditions. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...
It’s not perfect but it will be something.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture says there will be youth livestock shows at the Illinois State Fairgrounds over two weekends in September. Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Jerry Costello says they want to be able to do something to help support youth in agriculture during the pandemic.
Beef, sheep, dairy goats, pygmy goats, rabbits and poultry will be shown the weekend of September 11. The following weekend swine, dairy cattle and meat goats will be shown. A horse show has been scheduled for the state fairgrounds in Du Quoin at the end of August and the beginning of September.
The Fourth of July holiday weekend is a big one for the hot dog. Just ask Eric Mittenthal. He serves as President of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
And the Fourth always includes the famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York. And it will still be held this year, but at a private location instead of the Coney Island boardwalk.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reminding boaters of boating safety for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
IDNR Deputy Director Rachel Torbert reminds operators must have properly fitting life vests for all passengers and they are required for passengers under 13.
Torbert says they are encouraging boat operators to remain sober on the water this weekend. She notes operating a boat under the influence is similar to drunk driving.
INDR conservation officers will be conducting boat safety checks this weekend.
The 2020 Farm Progress Show was scheduled to be held in Boone, Iowa, September 1st thru the 3rd; but like many large gatherings, it has been canceled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Event Manager, Matt Jungmann, says the decision did not come lightly...
The event's cancellation shows just how quickly the landscape can change in event planning in a pandemic. Show organizers just two weeks ago assured that the show would go on, however, Jungmann says concerns from both exhibitors and volunteers over rising case numbers forced the cancellation...
Jungmann admits things could change again potentially for the better between now and the show dates, however, too many question marks remained as on-site show preparations would need to begin...
Despite the in-person cancellation, Jungmann says producers should look forward to a virtual Farm Progress Show experience in 2020. How that looks, and what is included, is currently in development...
Jungmann says to stay tuned to FarmProgressShow.com to learn about the virtual show as details are announced. This year's Husker Harvest Days in Nebraska has also been canceled.
The Clinton Board of Education and Superintendent Curt Nettles are seeking the community's input about getting kids back to school in the fall.
Nettles tells Regional Radio News a survey is now available for the community to fill out which will be used to help guide them in their plans for a safe return to classes in August.
As the community is filling out a survey, teachers of the district will also have input. Nettles explains he is working to get a response from teachers as to their feelings of a return to class. Teachers are likely to have different opinions on a return to class and Nettles wants to make sure he has their input for the plan that will be worked on starting next week.
Nettles is also asking his building leadership to survey teachers about what will need to be done to make remote learning better. School leaders across Illinois are preparing for the possibility of a return to remote learning at some point during the school year.
The committee that will be working to a plan in place for the district will be comprised of around 35 individuals and they will be broken down into sub-committees. Nettles indicates stakeholders include administration, staff - including special education staff, coaches from the fall sports season, school board members, YMCA Executive Director Rennie Cluver, and representation from the Health Department among others.
The committee will kick things off Monday, July 6 with a target completion date of July 20.
Facilities geared towards substance abuse recovery and mental health assistance are reopening in Illinois under the phase-4 guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition Thursday morning on the WHOW Morning Show highlighted some of the services that are returning and how folks can get help. Vice President of the Coalition Paul Skowron indicates the coalition works to get people in the community in touch with these providers and it is good that many are starting to reopen their services.
According to Skowron, there has been a crossover between mental health and substance abuse and he explains there are many local providers that continue the increasingly popular telehealth options but they are also starting to welcome patients back.
Pastor Jeff DeLaughter is the President of the Coalition and has taken an active role to get the community connected to any resources they need. During the shutdowns, he found a lot of people just wanted someone to talk to.
Skowron says locally they did not see an increase in overdose issues or women or children coming in battered from abusive situations gone bad. He was pleased with that and wonders if it is because of the agricultural nature of the area where people have to go to work no matter the circumstances.
Pastor DeLaughter says if you are struggling, there is no shame in seeking help. He reinforced his point about needing someone to talk to and indicates he too seeks help from time to time. If you'd like to talk to Pastor DeLaughter about critical situations in your life and need to be pointed in the right direction, he offers up his cell phone number at 217-413-0901.
You can also find the DeWitt County Substance Abuse Coalition on Facebook.
Area police agencies want to remind people to travel safely this holiday weekend.
Police are encouraging drivers to be mindful of other vehicles, pedestrians, motorcycles and workers on the roadway.
Normal Police Department spokesperson Brad Park says local departments and Illinois State Police will beef up patrols this weekend.
Some tips from the National Highway Traffic Association - wear your seat belt, don't speed, and don't drive intoxicated.
The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department is reporting two new cases of coronavirus in DeWitt County this week.
Both cases are females in their 40s. A 42-year-old female had COVID-like symptoms that are resolving and the other 48-year-old female with no signs or symptoms.
In total, four individuals have previously recovered from the coronavirus in DeWitt County and the two positive tests bringing the County's total number of cases to six. This week's positive tests are the first positive cases in DeWitt County since May 22.
Additionally, Piatt County is reporting a new case this week. A 24-year-old female healthcare worker who was showing no signs or symptoms.
Piatt County has had 16 previous cases, all individuals recovered, and there are three active cases in the County.
The Health Department indicates identified close contacts have been notified or have been attempted to be notified and are being monitored for 14 days after the last date of contact with the case.
In total, 2439 tests have been done for the jurisdiction of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department with 968 in DeWitt County and 1471 in Piatt County.
An update from the Logan County Health Department, they are reporting three active cases with 12 recovered for a total of 15 cases out of 2,333 samples tested.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) yesterday announced 828 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 30 additional confirmed deaths.
Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 144,013cases, including 6,951 deaths, in 101 counties in Illinois.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 33,090 specimens for a total of 1,636,055. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of the total test from June 24 –June 30 is 2.6%.
The Piatt County Mental Health Center has reopened its doors with restrictions in place that practice social distancing and infection control measures along with only a select group of clients in the building.
Executive Director Tony Kirkman says their counselors are back meeting with clients. Everyone has to wear masks and they are keeping six-feet distance along with all the sanitization practices. He says that face-to-face setting has been missed and he's glad it is back.
According to Kirkman, they are keeping their awareness up for those that immunocompromised and so they continue to offer telehealth services. An idea from a similar organization has led him to begin exploring providing those that may not have the technology or the access to the internet the ability to still stay connected to them in the parking lot of their facility.
As for the adult services with intellectual or developmental disabilities, Kirkman believes there will never be a return to normal until there is a vaccine or the numbers get under control. All community day services have been closed until August 31.
Providers are being challenged to break their day services into smaller groups in various places in their communities. Kirkman believes that kind of a model would be beneficial for them and the community.
Find the Piatt County Mental Health Center on Facebook for the latest in the plans moving forward as the State continues its reopening and the gradual return to normal.
As school leaders look ahead to the 2020-2021 school year and try to plan for a school year at a time when the future is so fluid, the Central Illinois CEO program is patiently waiting back as the districts in their cluster of schools develop plans best for their communities.
Yesterday on Regional Radio News, Program Leader Melanie Brown discussed the successful first year of the program in Blue Ridge, Clinton, Maroa-Forsyth, and Warrensburg-Latham schools despite the pandemic altered in the 4th quarter. She indicates planning for the next school year will begin once area schools have their plans ready.
Teaching students about business, focusing on real-world skills, and focusing on central Illinois are the three focuses of the program and Brown indicates they will continue to keep that focus no matter what the next year has in store.
At the start of the calendar year, students began applying for this year and once the coronavirus hit, the application deadline was extended and that has delayed an announcement on who is in the program for next year. Brown says those names should be released soon.
Brown stresses the program is 100-percent investor funded and is not funded at all by the State of Illinois nor the school districts. She says they are still looking for donors but if financial support is not possible for your business, business owners can be guest speakers, site hosts, or mentors to their students.
Get more information about the Central Illinois CEO program by visiting centralillinoisceo.com or by finding them on Facebook by searching 'Central CEO IL'.
Much can change between now and mid-August when school children in Illinois are on track to be back in class, and between now and then, a central Illinois school leader is hoping to get the community behind masking our kids because it will be required when they enter the building.
Tri-Valley Schools Superintendent Dr. David Mouser says mask-wearing will be among the requirements for kids when they return to school buildings in August and September. For Tri-Valley, their community overwhelmingly wants students back in the building in the fall.
All school staff will also be required to have a face covering during the day. Dr. Mouser points out other guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health includes daily screenings and limiting students on buses. As districts try to come up with their plans, he is asking for patience with school leaders.
According to Dr. Mouser, there are a lot of the policies in place for the return to school plan but he appreciates all the thought and planning that has gone into the plan and is optimistic their district will be able to make it work. He appreciates the local control districts are going to have in getting kids back.
As parents begin to prepare their kids for returning to school, he is asking them to be encouraging to students about wearing their masks because that is going to be a requirement. He hopes the communities will work with the district to make a return to school possible.
Dr. Mouser anticipates some things changing as we get closer to the start of school. He reinforced his call for communities to work together.
A NEW STATE LAW TAKING EFFECT TODAY IN ILLINOIS FURTHER CRACKS DOWN ON DISTRACTED DRIVING.
ILLINOIS WAS ONE OF THE FIRST STATES TO BAN TEXTING WHILE DRIVING, AND THE LAW HAS BEEN TWEAKED OVER THE YEARS SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE'S SPOKESPERSON, HENRY HAUPT.
THOSE CAUGHT FACE A MINIMUM FINE OF ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS AND MAY ALSO HAVE THEIR DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENDED OR REVOKED. MOTORISTS COULD ALSO LOSE THEIR LICENSE UNDER ANOTHER NEW LAW IF THEY FAIL TO YIELD AT A CROSSWALK AND SERIOUSLY INJURE SOMEONE.
FARMERS IN ILLINOIS AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY PLANTED MORE CORN AND SOYBEANS THIS YEAR.
10 POINT FOUR MILLION ACRES OF SOYBEANS HAVE BEEN PLANTED...THAT'S AN INCREASE OF FIVE PERCENT OVER LAST YEAR SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER. LOOKING AT CORN:
SCHLEUSENER LOOKS AT SOYBEANS.
AN ESTIMATED 490 THOUSAND ACRES OF HAY WILL BE HARVESTED IN ILLIOIS THIS YEAR...UP 17 PERCENT FROM 2019. THE WINTER WHEAT HARVEST IS EXPECTED TO BE DOWN THIS YEAR.
THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SAYS STARVED ROCK AND MATTHIESSEN STATE PARKS WILL BE VERY BUSY THIS WEEKEND.
THE PARKS GET VERY CROWDED ON REGULAR WEEKENDS...BUT OVER THE FOURTH, THEY WILL MOST LIKELY HIT CAPACITY SAYS D-N-R SPOKESPERSON RACHEL TORBERT.
TORBERT SAYS PARKING LOTS WILL FILL UP QUICKLY, PROBABLY BY 10:30 OR 11 A.M.
YOU CAN CHECK THE STATUS OF BOTH STARVED ROCK AND MATTHIESSEN VIA THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES TWITTER AND FACEBOOK PAGES.
He’s not ready to call it a weather market just yet, but Freese-Notis agriculture meteorologist Dan Hicks expects parts of the Corn Belt to see some dry days in July.
The latest USDA crop report has 67-percent of the Illinois corn crop in good to excellent condition. 68-percent of the state’s soybean crop is currently in good to excellent condition.