Local News

Weather Service Issues Ice Storm Warning, Winter Weather Advisory for Overnight Into Friday

The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning and winter weather advisory, for portions of the Regional Radio listening area, from early Friday morning thru early Friday evening.

 

An ice storm warning is in effect from 3am to 6pm Friday for DeWitt, Logan, Sangamon, and McLean Counties, and counties to the northwest.  The Weather Service says travel is not recommended as Significant icing expected, with total snow accumulations of up to one inch, sleet accumulations of between 1/10 and 2/10 of an inch and ice accumulations of two tenths to three tenths of an inch.

 

A winter weather advisory is in effect from midnight to noon on Friday, for Christian, Shelby, Moultrie, Macon, Macoupin, Montgomery, and counties to the south.  The Weather Service says mixed precipitation is expected, with total sleet accumulations of between 1/10 and 2/10 of an inch and ice accumulations of up to one tenth of an inch.

 

 

Stay tuned to Regional Radio and check dewittdailynews.com and taylorvilledailynews.com for the latest weather information.  That's also where you can find the "Road Conditions" icon to check the latest Illinois road conditions.

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Early Morning Fire in Kenney

Kenney Fire Department was notified at 2:08 am Thursday of a first alarm structure fire on S. Fuller Street. A second alarm was immediately requested for additional manpower and water.

 

Upon arrival, crews found a 2 story residence with heavy fire blowing out the 2nd story and part of the ground level. A deck gun was deployed to help contain the fire and then an interior attack commenced along with primary search. During the primary search, a dog was found and rescued from the house. DeWitt County EMS administered Oxygen to the animal and it seems to be doing very well. Interior crews found the stairs and part of the 2nd story floor to be gone with the remaining floor to be heavily compromised. Entry was made in a 2nd story window and the fire was brought under control at 2:35 am.  Fire extension into the attic made hotspots difficult to extinguish, which were contained by 5 am.

 

Clinton, Maroa, Wapella, Waynesville, Warrensburg, and Chestnut Fire Departments assisted with the call.

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Weldon Man Dies in Deadly DUI Crash

A 23-year-old Weldon man died Wednesday morning in a head-on crash along Illinois 10 in Piatt County.

 

Illinois State Police responded Wednesday at 11:38 am to a crash on Illinois Route 10 at 2150 North Road in Piatt County. 

 

According to the Illinois State Police, a vehicle driven by Justin Slade, 34, of Urbana was eastbound on the highway at East 2150 North Road when it crossed the center line and collided with a westbound vehicle driven by the Weldon man.

 

The vehicle driven by Slade rolled onto its passenger side in the middle of the roadway and caught fire. The second vehicle stopped in the right ditch and caught fire.

 

Slade was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries. State Police said Slade was cited for improper lane usage, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, and driving under the influence of alcohol.

 

The identification of the Weldon man is pending next of kin notification. The crash is under investigation. 

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Mt. Zion Man Killed In Vehicle Crash In Southern Macon County

An Mt. Zion man was killed in a single-vehicle rollover crash in a field just off US Route 51 near Riley Road in Rural South Macon County. 45-year-old Jason Stout of Mt. Zion was pronounced dead on Tuesday morning at Decatur Memorial Hospital from a single-vehicle rollover crash. The Macon County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash.

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Local Coronavirus Update

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported over 30 new coronavirus cases for the final week of 2020.

 

On Monday, DeWitt County reported one new case in Wapella. Piatt County reported 4 in Monticello, 3 in Mansfield, 2 in Milmine, and one in Bement.

 

Tuesday, DeWitt County reported 6 in Clinton, 6 in Farmer City, and one in Lane. Piatt County reported 5 in Monticello, one in Manfield, and one in White Heath.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 931 cases; Piatt Count has had a total of 1076 cases.  

 

DeWitt County has had a total of 19 deaths.  Piatt County has had a total of 7 deaths. The Health Department continues to monitor an outbreak at the Piatt Co Nursing Home.

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Executive Director David Remmert indicated in a press release, "We have received additional doses of vaccine, but these doses remain for priority audiences as defined by the federal government beginning with front-line healthcare workers.  We will continue to alert the public as additional priorities are announced."

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Top Stories from 2020 at dewittdailynews.com

As we usher in a new year, today and tomorrow on Regional Radio News we'll be taking a look back at the top stories of 2020 from dewittdailynews.com. 

 

Today (Thursday), we'll count down from no. 10 to no. 6 and then Friday we'll count down from No. 5 to No. 1.

 

No. 10

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/508897

 

No. 9

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/502016

 

No. 8

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/509258

 

No. 7

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/501184

 

No. 6

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/505429

 

Join us tomorrow for the top five stories from 2020. 

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Clinton Police Chief Discusses New Year's Eve Safety

Safety messages from local authorities are sounding a little different this year.

 

On top of the usual safety messaging for sober driving, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates COVID and incoming inclement weather are adding wrinkles to this year's New Year's Eve plans for many.

 

 

While a global pandemic rages, gatherings large and small are inevitable and the Chief hopes folks consuming alcohol will either stay at their intended destinations or make sure they have a sober operator for any traveling they may have.

 

 

As for driving through any inclement weather that may be headed our way? Chief Lowers offers tips he's given so many times before - keep a cell phone charger close, have blankets, candles, and even snacks in a kit in your vehicle in the event you get stranded. He also points out, if you do end up on the side of the road, stay in your vehicle.

 

 

While often advice for hunters during the hunting season, Chief Lowers says for travelers during the winter, letting family or friends know where you're headed is often a good idea. He says giving them basic details like how you plan to get there and when you leave can help in the event of an emergency.

 

 

Icy conditions are expected to develop late in the night on Thursday and hang around until the early morning hours on Friday. The National Weather Service indicates temperatures Friday should warm up Friday enough to melt off any lingering ice throughout the day. 

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Soybean Trade With Big Day Tuesday

The soybean market with a big jump. AgriVisor’s Karl Setzer speaking at the close on Tuesday.

 

 

January beans ended the day at $12.95-and-a-half; up 40 cents in Tuesday trade. Soybean prices haven’t been at that level since the summer of 2014.

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Sen. Durbin Points Out Federal Spending Plan Includes Funding for Gun Violence Study

The new government funding act provides $25 million for studies of gun violence. It's the second year in a row for such funding. Sen. Dick Durbin says doing the studies after almost 25 years of the government not funding them is a breakthrough.

 

 

Funds approved last year are covering studies on suicide prevention and whether having a parent who's been in prison makes a teen more likely to use a gun. The funds are also promoting handgun safety. A law passed in 1996 said federally funded agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention couldn't advocate for gun control. It didn't expressly prohibit studies of gun violence, but it had the same effect.

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Gov. Pritzker Hopeful President-Elect Biden Will Focus on Relief for State, Local Governments

As another COVID relief bill has made its way out of Washington DC it’s clear that significant relief isn’t coming for state and local governments dealing with revenue shortfalls.

 

Governor JB Pritzker says he understands why US Senator Dick Durbin says states should be prepared to go at it alone for now when it comes to trying to budget through a tough time. But the Governor adds that he’s talked to President-Elect Joe Biden and feels good that support will eventually come.

 

 

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Wild Weather To Usher in New Year

2020 will conclude most fittingly from a weather perspective.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Chris Miller at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates tonight (Tuesday) temperatures will increase gradually, and this increase in temperatures will continue into about mid-morning Wednesday, and then temps will gradually fall the rest of the day.

 

 

On the other side of this wacky weather pattern for the mid-week, New Year's Eve will bring some weather to watch out for, especially the farther north in Illinois you go. Miller indicates ice is going to come to the area late Thursday and into the early morning hours Friday.

 

 

Perhaps the first significant weather event of the winter, Miller implores anyone who will be traveling to do so safely and plan as much of your travel as you can.

 

 

Sunday and into next week we should start to see more sun. Miller notes the winter months are historically the most cloudy months of the year as the cold air allows the clouds to hang around.

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DeWitt County Sheriff Voices Concerns Over Pretrial Fairness Act

Illinois lawmakers are looking to end cash bail and the DeWitt County Sheriff says this will have then just financial consequences.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker indicates the legislature reformed the bail system several years ago to where can earn credit towards their bond by spending time in jail. Walker says this has led to a "revolving door" in some circumstances.

 

 

Sheriff Walker contends that eliminating cash bail would cause confusion and frustration amongst the general public and would continue to paint law enforcement in a negative light.

 

 

Sheriff Walker understands the lawmaker's perspective that the current bail system inadvertently affects those that are financially burdened. He says the logic behind it doesn't quite make sense in other situations.

 

 

Sheriff Walker says one piece of legislation he supports is the elimination of a law enforcement officer's right to representation during certain parts of a disciplinary procedure. He says the unions are strong and sometimes are enabled bad cops to remain on the job.

 

 

Sheriff Walker feels law enforcement should be brought to the table and work with the legislature on criminal justice reform.

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Maroa-Forsyth Facilities Update

The architectural design for Maroa-Forsyth's new middle school has been approved and bids are scheduled to go out in March.

 

Dr. John Ahlemeyer, Maroa-Forsyth Superintendent, notes the architectural design for the new middle school was approved by the school board at its November meeting and was within the district's budget.

 

 

Dr. Ahlemeyer anticipates a delay to the groundbreaking of the project due to COVID. The intermediate building is currently being used by staff and students and needs to have asbestos removed before being demolished.

 

 

Once school is dismissed for the school year, Dr. Ahlemeyer says the project will certainly speed up and the public can expect to see work starting in June.

 

 

Dr. Ahlemeyer is thankful for the community realizing the need of a new middle school and for their continued support of this project despite all of the current uncertainties.

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State Climatologist Puts Bow on 2020

THE STATE'S CLIMATOLOGIST TAKES A LOOK AT 2020 WEATHER IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THE FIRST FIVE MONTHS OF THIS YEAR WERE WETTER THAN NORMAL ACROSS THE STATE. THE RAIN CONTINUED IN SOME AREAS BUT A LARGE PATH ACROSS CENTRAL ILLINOIS IS ENDING 2020 IN ABNORMALLY DRY TO SEVERE DROUGHT CONDITIONS. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD SAYS THERE WAS SOME SEVERE WEATHER...

 

 

15 OF THOSE TORNADOES OCCURED ON AUGUST 10TH IN THE CHICAGO AREA AS A DERECHO SWEPT THROUGH ILLINOIS. 

 

 

FORD SAYS TEMPERATURES WERE WARMER THAN AVERAGE FOR MUCH OF THE YEAR, ESPECIALLY IN JANUARY AND NOVEMBER, WITH 2020 ON TRACK TO BE IN THE TOP 30 WARMEST YEARS ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. ALL OF ILLINOIS WAS WETTER THAN NORMAL FOR THE FIRST FIVE MONTHS OF THE YEAR, BUT FORD SAYS A BIG CHUNK ACROSS THE CENTRAL PORTION OF THE STATE IS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING DROUGHT CONDITIONS.

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Non-Profit Aims to Help Illinoisans With COVID Legal Concerns

As a record number of Illinoisans across the state face unemployment and housing questions, a group of Illinois lawyers created a nonprofit organization to help with legal concerns caused by the pandemic.

 

Supported by the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, COVID Help (Housing and Economic Loss Prevention) is a joint project of CARPLS Legal Aid, a nonprofit legal aid organization helping Illinoisans with unemployment and foreclosure and eviction notices, among other concerns. With COVID Help, Connor Malloy said the program is secure, confidential, and free for all Illinois residents.

 

 

Malloy added that through virtual legal assistants, the program would point residents to legal information and online resources. Residents can visit IllinoisCOVIDHelp.org for more details.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Governor, IHSA

The Governor and the IHSA have a lawsuit filed against them as high school sports remain sidelined during the pandemic. JB Pritzker says it’s not fair to compare the reality of colleges and pro’s playing games right now while high school sports have to wait to return.

 

 

The lawsuit filed by four parents in LaSalle County seeks to bar Pritzker and the IHSA from delaying or cancelling the winter sports season.

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DeWitt County Board Chair Discusses Appointments to RPC, ZBA

In the first meeting of the new-look DeWitt County Board, several appointments were brought forward by Board Chair Terry Ferguson for the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Regional Planning Commission.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Ferguson indicated a few appointments were tabled while they approved Pat Ryan to the ZBA.

 

 

According to Ferguson, terms from the RPC have been expired for some time.

 

 

Ferguson hopes to have those appointments for the RPC brought back for a vote in January. 

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DeWitt County Adds 28 New COVID Cases During Holidays, Piatt County 36

Wednesday through Friday of last week, the DeWitt County Health Department reports 28 new COVID cases in DeWitt County, while 36 new cases were reported in Piatt County.

 

The newest totals increase DeWitt County to 917 total cases while Piatt County is up to 1,059. 

Each county had a fatality in that time, a male in his 70s in DeWitt County while the Piatt County individual was a male in his 70s.

 

4,453 new COVID cases were reported in Illinois Monday. 

 

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 51,046 specimens. As of last night, 4,243 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 884 patients were in the ICU and 515 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

 

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of the total test from December 21 – December 27, 2020, is 7.2%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from December 21 – December 27, 2020, is 8.7%.

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COVID Leveling Off Locally

DeWitt and Piatt Counties have some of the strongest COVID numbers in the area recently.

 

Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department, Dave Remmert is pleased with the trends locally and says that is a result of local residents, not the health department. He points out this is a trend from the last week across the state.

 

 

According to Remmert, the incidence rate for DeWitt and Piatt Counties remains rather high but he points out, most other metrics are very favorable comparatively speaking.

 

 

With Christmas behind us and the New Year's weekend ahead, Remmert hopes residents will practice the same caution they did with Thanksgiving. Because of the significance of Christmas to everyone, he is anticipating somewhat of a holiday spike.

 

 

Monday and Tuesday of last week, the Health Department reports 25 new cases of COVID in DeWitt County while Piatt County added 33 new cases.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 880 cases while Piatt County has had a total of 1025 cases. 

 

No additional fatalities have been reported since the Health Department's last update.  DeWitt Co has had a total of 18 deaths.  Piatt Co has had a total of 6 deaths.

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Clinton City Council Approves Subdivision Design Engineering Agreement

The Clinton City Council Monday night approved an engineering agreement for a new subdivision between Illini Drive and Kleeman Road.

 

Tim Followell told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, the idea of this area being developed for housing has been around for a long time and the City has taken it upon themselves to see it through.

 

 

Followell indicates that once completed the project will cost the City approximately a half-million dollars. The subdivision will consist of seven lots for families to build within the city limits.

 

 

Followell says the timeline currently is a March letting on bids with the subdivision completed by the end of the summer.

 

 

The City approved the engineering agreement with Farnsworth Group 5-0 Monday night.

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Tri-Valley Schools To Start Second Semester With Remote Learning

The Tri-Valley school district will begin the second semester with a full week of remote learning before returning to their current delivery method.

 

Dr. David Mouser, Tri-Valley Superintendent, says students will begin the second semester with remote learning the week of January 4-8. Students will return in person on January 11.

 

 

Dr. Mouser says the remote break after Thanksgiving proved to help aid the district's mitigation efforts. By going remote the district prevented students who were asymptomatic from potentially spreading the disease.

 

 

The Tri-Valley school board at its next meeting will discuss the possibility and timeline of returning all students to full-time in-person instruction.

 

 

Dr. Mouser says while other districts will come back fully in person after the holiday break, he believes Tri-Valley's approach will prove to be effective with keeping the number of positive cases down.

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While COVID Numbers Improve, Governor Says No Indoor Dining Yet

ALTHOUGH COVID-19 NUMBERS ARE GRADUALLY IMPROVING, GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THERE IS NO DEFINITIVE DATE YET FOR WHEN INDOOR DINING CAN RESUME. 

 

ILLINOIS IS CURRENTLY UNDER TIER THREE MITIGATIONS, AND EVEN MOVING TO TIER TWO WON’T LET RESTAURANTS AND BARS RESUME INDOOR SERVICE. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE STATE STILL NEEDS TO SEE CASES AND HOSPITALIZATIONS GO DOWN IN ORDER FOR THOSE RULES TO BE LIFTED.

 

 

THERE ARE STILL A CONCERNING NUMBER OF CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS IN THE HOSPITAL, ESPECIALLY THE I-C-U.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THERE WILL LIKELY BE AN UPTICK IN COVID INFECTIONS AFTER THE HOLIDAYS SO THEY DON’T WANT TO OPEN EVERYTHING BACK UP UNTIL THAT’S BEEN ASSESSED.

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Sen. Durbin Complains of Stimulus Bill's Lack of Assistance for Local, State Governments

The President signed a COVID-19 relief bill late Sunday night, that spending plan along with the omnibus spending plan will keep the government operating for now. 

 

Individuals will get $600 checks and enhanced unemployment checks will continue through mid-March. But the current relief bill doesn’t include much aid for local and state governments looking to overcome revenue shortfalls. US Senator Dick Durbin has been blunt in his assessment of states looking for help.

 

 

Durbin says another relief bill will be worked on in April of next year and says perhaps by then significant help will come.

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ISU Names New Athletic Director

Illinois State University will have a new athletic director next school year. ISU President Larry Dietz announced Kyle Brennan would serve as the next AD after current AD Larry Lyons announced his retirement at the end of 2020.

 

Brennan, who previously served as Utah's chief operating officer and deputy athletics director for internal operations, will officially start his ISU position on January 15. In a social media post, Brennan said he's excited to get to work...

 

 

Brennan comes to ISU with over 16-years of combined University and athletic department experiences at Northern Illinois, TCU, Ball State, and Utah.

 

Brennan will be ISU's 12th AD in NCAA Division I era.

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'Golden Apple' Effort Seeks to Find Teachers

Golden Apple is working with area school officials to do their part in correcting the teacher shortage in Illinois. 

 

Applications are officially open for the ‘Accelerators’ Program that expedites the one-year teacher residency and licensure process. In 2021, Golden Apple is striving to expand the Accelerators program and introduce even more teachers into high-need schools and subject areas. Alan Mather is the President of Golden Apple. He says the program could be making a big impact in just a few years.

 

 

The inaugural class of the Accelerators program Golden Apple inducted 30 Accelerators, who started this past June, and are at work completing their teacher licensure and residency to become teachers of record in their own classrooms next summer. The organization is aiming to accept 150 - 200 Accelerators, add additional licensure pathways including Elementary and Early Childhood Education, and partner with more higher education and school districts across Illinois.

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BBB Warns of Zoom Scam

The Better Business Bureau is warning of the new methods by which scammers are trying to get to your personal information. 

 

The latest is through the video-conferencing platform Zoom. With a huge user base to target, con artists are using old tricks in new scams to try to steal your information. BBB Investigator Don O’Brien says out of the blue, you receive an email, text, or social media message that includes Zoom’s logo and a message saying something that sounds legit.

 

 

He says you should Double check the sender’s information, never click on links in unsolicited emails, and resolve issues by speaking directly to the person who allegedly sent the message.

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DeWitt, Piatt Counties Anticipate Next Shipments of COVID Vaccines

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department indicates shipments of the next round of COVID vaccines will soon be made available.

 

Health Department Director Dave Remmert indicates to Regional Radio News, the latest vaccines will be made available to both counties this time around, whereas last time they were only made available in DeWitt County.

 

 

As more vaccines become available, the planning for those is underway, however, Remmert advises the vaccine is probably not going to be available for the general population for some time as they focus on long-term care facilities, the elderly, and frontline workers.

 

 

When the vaccine does become available to the general public, he is encouraging folks to get their vaccine.

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Clinton Commissioner of Finance Reports More Good News

Reports for city sales tax figures continue to be positive.

 

Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting, Commissioner of Finance Tom Edmunds reported sales tax figures for the City continue to trend in the right direction.

 

 

City officials have been pleasantly surprised by the financial reports this year as they have been much better than anticipated given all the impacts surrounding the COVID pandemic. 

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Clinton YMCA Youth Basketball Clinics Begin Jan. 4

Pre-K through second-grade youth basketball clinics at the Clinton YMCA will begin the first week in January.

 

Clinton YMCA Executive Director Rennie Cluver states each grade level has two sessions available, with each session limited to 10 participants.

 

 

Cluver noted the Y recently wrapped up their basketball clinics for third through fifth-grade students and thanked the high school boys' and girls' basketball coaches for volunteering.

 

 

The cost for registration is $40 for Pre-K and $45 for kindergarten through second grade. For more information, visit clintoncommymca.org or call (217) 935-8307.
 

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Clinton City Council To Review Mowing Bids in January

At its January meeting, the Clinton City Council will review bids to contract out mowing for parks and cemeteries.

 

Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell told Regional Radio News the City received four bids and has placed them on file for public review. Followell states the City currently has approximately 100 acres to mow, including parks and cemeteries.

 

 

Followell notes if approved, this will free up lawn maintenance work done by other departments.
 

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What to do with your Christmas tree after the holidays

THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION OFFICE IS OFFERING SOME IDEAS ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE AFTER THE HOLIDAYS. 

 

IF YOU DON’T HAVE A TREE PICK UP PROGRAM IN YOUR AREA, TRY TO RECYCLE IT SAYS EXTENSION EDUCATOR KATIE PARKER.

 

 

MANY COMMUNITIES HAVE A TREE PICK UP OR RECYCLING PROGRAM SO THAT’S ALWAYS AN EASY SOLUTION SAYS THE EXTENSION’S KATIE PARKER. WHAT ABOUT USING IT AS FIREWOOD?

 

 

PARKER SAYS THE PINE NEEDLES AND BOUGHS CAN BE USED AS MULCH OR TO PROTECT PLANTS. THE WHOLE TREE CAN BE LEFT OUTSIDE AND ADORNED WITH BIRD FEEDERS OR YOU CAN CUT UP THE TRUNK AND USE THE PIECES FOR TRIVETS, COASTERS, GARDEN EDGING AND MORE.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Indicates State Police Pursuing Local Businesses Not in Compliance with Illinois COVID Mandates

DeWitt and Piatt County businesses, specifically bars and restaurants, not in compliance with the Governor's COVID mandates are being visited by the Illinois State Police.

 

While this has been the case for several months, a recent update from Health Department Director Dave Remmert caught the attention of the public this week and he says recently he's hearing of Piatt County businesses being hit with fines.

 

 

Remmert explains this is a complaint-driven process, which means when the State Police receive a complaint, they will follow up. He notes, any complaints going to ISP are not coming from his office. 

 

 

Many wonder why the health department does not pursue establishments continuing to serve in-person and Remmert points out, many communities enforcing these mandates have local ordinances now in effect. Locally, DeWitt and Piatt Counties have no such ordinances.

 

 

Remmert provided an update on the vaccines coming to DeWitt and Piatt Counties next. Hear from Remmert this weekend on Regional Radio News. 

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Heyworth Schools' Morale Remains High

One local school district recently surveyed its staff, students, and family and found "overwhelmingly positive" responses.

 

Heyworth Superintendent Dr. Lisa Taylor indicated the district sent out a survey for suggestions and comments from staff, students, and families. She says she worried about teacher morale due to the added stresses of this past semester.

 

 

Dr. Taylor noted the family surveys were generally positive, but she could sense the stresses that remote learning had brought. The district will take suggestions and comments into account for the second semester.

 

 

Dr. Taylor says a common trend she found was that parents were having trouble with having all of their students from different grade levels meeting online at the same time.

 

 

The district had responses from 400 families and hopes to have continued success throughout the rest of the survey period.

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IDPH says flu activity has been low so far in Illinois

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH SAYS FLU ACTIVITY IN ILLINOIS HAS BEEN PRETTY MINIMAL SO FAR. 

 

FLU SEASON IS UNDERWAY, BUT HAS YET TO SIGNIFICANTLY TAKE HOLD SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI EZIKE.

 

 

WEARING A MASK, STAYING HOME AND SOCIALLY DISTANCING ARE NOT ONLY HELPING TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19, BUT ALSO SEASONAL FLU SAYS STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI EZIKE.

 

 

EZIKE SAYS FLU SEASON TYPICALLY PEAKS IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY.

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More than 100,000 people in IL have received the COVID-19 vaccine so far

MORE THAN 100 THOUSAND PEOPLE IN ILLINOIS HAVE NOW RECEIVED THE COVID-19 VACCINE. 

 

THE STATE CURRENTLY LEADS THE EFFORT TO GET FRONT-LINE HEALTH CARE WORKERS AND RESIDENTS OF LONG TERM CARE FACILITIES VACCINATED SAYS GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER.

 

 

PHASE ONE-A OF THE STATE'S VACCINE ROLLOUT CONTINUES WITH HEALTH CARE WORKERS AND LONG TERM CARE RESIDENTS GETTING THE SHOT FIRST. AND WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE MODERNA VERSION...GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS DOSES WILL BE AVAILABLE IN MORE LOCATIONS.

 

 

LIKE PFIZER, THE MODERNA VACCINE REQUIRES TWO DOSES.

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State and local police ramp up enforcement efforts for the holidays

STATE AND LOCAL POLICE ARE RAMPING UP ENFORCEMENT THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS. 

EXPECT TO SEE MORE POLICE ON THE ROADS LOOKING FOR SPEEDERS, DRUNK DRIVERS AND OTHER OFFENDERS SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SPOKESPERSON PAUL WAPPEL.

 

 

BUCKLE UP, DRIVE SOBER AND DON'T TEXT AND DRIVE IS THE MANTRA SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SPOKESPERSON PAUL WAPPEL.

 

 

WAPPEL SAYS FROM NOW THROUGH THE EARLY MORNING HOURS OF JANUARY FOURTH THERE WILL BE HUNDREDS OF SEATBELT ENFORCEMENT ZONES AND OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS AROUND THE STATE.

 

PATROLS WILL INCLUDE SEAT BELT SAFETY CHECKS AND OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS. THERE WERE THREE FATAL CRASHES LAST YEAR FROM CHRISTMAS EVE THROUGH CHRISTMAS DAY IN ILLINOIS.

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Davis Surprised by Trump

President Donald Trump has said he will not sign legislation that spends billions of dollars on a variety of programs, including a $600 stimulus payment for most Americans. He wants that increased to $2,000 and wants lawmakers to make that happen. Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville says that is surprising.

 

That is because Trump’s team helped negotiate this package. Davis says we’ll all likely find out together what the president will do next.

 

 

The package includes an extension of PPP and pandemic unemployment benefits, funding for vaccine production and distribution, a 5-year extension of Davis’ student loan repayment plan, and funding for the study required by law to have the 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site added as a unit of the National Park System.

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New DeWitt County Mental Health Board Introduced

At its December meeting Wednesday night, the DeWitt County Board was introduced to the DeWitt County Community Mental Health Board.

 

Sharon Mills with the DeWitt County Community Mental Health Board indicated the board is comprised of seven volunteer members that financially supports mental health services offered to DeWitt County residents.

 

 

Mills noted some of the agencies that the board provides funding to includes Heritage Behavioral Health Center, Encore Developmental Services, the YMCA, and Dove.

 

 

The County Board reappointed Sandra Beecher to the DeWitt County Mental Health Board Wednesday night. Mills stated that Jay Wickenhauser will be serving as their County Board liaison and noted the other board members.

 

 

The DeWitt County Board appointed Pat Ryan to the Zoning Board of Appeals to fill the vacancy due to Mark Sterr's resignation. The Board also appointed Donald Benson as Animal Control Administrator. Three appointments to the Regional Planning Commission were tabled to the January meeting.

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Local Coronavirus Update

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported 58 new coronavirus cases for the early part of this week.

 

On Monday, DeWitt County saw 5 new cases in Clinton, 4 in Farmer City, one in Waynesville, and one in Weldon. Piatt County reported 14 cases in Monticello, 4 in Deland, 2 in Cerro Gordo, 2 in Atwood, and one in Cisco, Mansfield, and White Heath.

 

Tuesday DeWitt County added 6 cases in Clinton, 2 in Kenney, 4 in Farmer City, and 2 in Waynesville. Piatt County saw 2 in Cisco, and one case each in Monticello, Cerro Gordo, Atwood, Bement, Milmine, and White Heath.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 880 cases; Piatt County has had a total of 1025 cases.  

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U.S. Surgeon General discusses COVID-19 vaccince rollout

THE U-S SURGEON GENERAL MET WITH STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS TUESDAY AND DISCUSSED THE COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLOUT. 

 

OVER 63 THOUSAND FRONT-LINE HEALTHCARE WORKERS IN ILLINOIS HAVE BEEN VACCINATED WITH MORE TO COME. SURGEON GENERAL JEROME ADAMS SAYS HE HOPES EVERYONE GETS THE VACCINE, NOTING IT MAY CAUSE A MILD REACTION LIKE HEADACHES OR A SORE ARM IN SOME. AT A MEDIA AVAILABILITY, HE WAS ASKED ABOUT THE NEW VARIANT OF COVID FOUND IN THE U-K. HE SAYS VIRUSES MUTATE ALL THE TIME.

 

 

SURGEON GENERAL JEROME ADAMS TALKED TO THE PRESS AFTER THE MEETING AND WAS ASKED ABOUT THE NEW VARIANT OF COVID THAT'S POPPED UP IN THE U-K. HE SAYS THERE'S NO INDICATION IT WILL BE RESISTANT TO VACCINES.

 

 

ADAMS URGES EVERYONE TO GET THE VACCINE WHEN IT'S MORE WIDELY AVAILABLE. HE SAYS LIKE THE ANNUAL FLU SHOT, THE COVID VACCINE MAY CAUSE SORENESS AT THE INJECTION SITE AND HEADACHES. MORE THAN 63 THOUSAND FRONT-LINE HEALTH CARE WORKERS IN ILLINOIS HAVE RECEIVED THE SHOT SO FAR.

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U.S. Surgeon General urges everyone to remain vigilant about the virus

AS COVID-19 VACCINATIONS BEGIN, THE U-S SURGEON GENERAL SAYS EVERYONE MUST REMAIN VIGILANT AND DO THEIR PART, EVEN IF THEY FEEL THEY AREN'T AFFECTED BY THE VIRUS.

 

YOU MAY NOT BE TOO WORRIED ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS, BUT SURGEON GENERAL JEROME ADAMS REMINDS IT IS UNFORGIVING AND NOT PARTICULAR ABOUT WHO IT HITS.

 

 

SURGEON GENERAL JEROME ADAMS SAYS IT LOOKS LIKE ILLINOIS IS STARTING TO HEAD IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AND THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO CONTINUE TO DO THEIR PART. HE WARNS ABOUT WHAT COULD HAPPEN IF HOSPITALS ARE OVERBURDENED WITH CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS.

 

 

JEROME SAYS 50 PERCENT OF PEOPLE SPREADING THE VIRUS DON'T HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS AND PROBABLY DON'T EVEN KNOW THEY HAVE COVID, MAKING IT SO IMPORTANT TO WEAR A MASK, SOCIAL DISTANCE AND WAIT TO GET TOGETHER WITH THOSE OUTSIDE YOUR HOUSEHOLD.

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State Librarian Awards more than $752,000 in "Back to Books" Grants

Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White has awarded $752,835 in “Back to Books” grants to 187 Illinois libraries for fiction and nonfiction books. Spokesperson for the SOS Henry Haupt says awards ranged from $465 to $4,900 per library and were made possible by federal Library Services and Technology Act funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

 

 

Libraries submitted applications specifying the types of books that were needed then the grants were awarded to help

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Ezike asked about return to play for high school sports

What is the timeline for high school sports returning to Illinois? Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says right now might not be the best time to decide when to ease mitigations. She says it’s best in her view to agreeing to a resumption of play when things look more concrete.

 

 

The IHSA is hoping to meet with reps from IDPH and the Governor’s office before the New Year, but it’s unclear if that will happen.

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Bost Supports COVID Relief Bill

Illinois Congressman Mike Bost has voted in support of end-of-year government funding and COVID-19 relief legislation. The bipartisan and bicameral bill includes funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, vaccine and testing funding, and $600 direct payments for adults and dependents.

 

He says it will provide working Americans, small businesses, and frontline workers relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

Also included in the bill is money for childcare centers and schools to help them safely reopen, for farmers, broadband funding, and substance abuse programs. The Senate has also passed the bill, and now awaits the President’s signature.

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Federal spending bill contains money for veterans homes to fight COVID-19

The new spending bill that might come out of Congress for the President’s signature soon contains $100 million for grants for veterans' homes. Sen. Dick Durbin, in an online news conference Tuesday afternoon said it’ll be up to the people who run homes like the one in LaSalle to decide what they need and ask for the money.

 

 

Durbin says his heart goes out to the veterans and families of veterans at the home in LaSalle where 34 residents died of COVID-19 since the start of last month. The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs says there have been no new COVID-19 cases among the home’s residents for a week-and-a-half. The total spending bill is around $2.2 trillion. Of that, $900 billion is for pandemic relief. Durbin says the rest is the regular yearly federal spending.

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Snowmobile season will eventually get here

Snow is eventually going to arrive in Illinois and that will mean snowmobile season. A few reminders from Tim Schweizer with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

 

 

If you operate a snowmobile on private property be sure to get the landowner's permission.

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Local Veterans Activist Rallying Community to Honor Fallen Veterans

A local veterans advocate is rallying the community to honor the fallen heroes of our community.

 

Starting Wednesday, Jeff Morlock is coordinating community members to line the streets of the community en-route to Mausoleum Park Cemetery in Clinton with American flags in honor of veteran Sonny Nelson who passed away last week in Clinton.

 

 

According to Morlock, who has helped countless local veterans get connected to the Honor Flight trips to Washington, D.C., he hopes to carry this tradition well into the future to honor the local heroes in our community.

 

 

In an effort to make this a veteran-to-veteran effort, Morlock accepts donations of $50 for him to make a flag case with the veteran's name on the back and then donate a flag to the family in honor of that veteran that has passed.

 

 

'Battle Cross Crusaders' will be the name of a social media page coming later this week. Morlock explains the name stems from the image of a rifle staked in the ground with the helmet hanging on top.

 

 

For anyone wanting to contact Morlock for more information, you can reach him by phone at 217-853-2530. 

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New Public Safety Committee Chair Focuses on Working Together with Animal Control, Second Chance for Pets

Nate Ennis takes over leadership of DeWitt County's Public Safety Committee and has a few things he's focused on in the few years ahead. 

 

Last Thursday morning, Ennis brought representatives of Second Chance for Pets and the Animal Shelter to the virtual meeting of the committee, Ennis' first as chair. A few years ago, there was turmoil surrounding Second Chance and the Animal Shelter and he wants to leave those things in the past and move forward.

 

 

Ennis believes Second Chance is not serving the community to its fullest capabilities unless they are able to work together with the Animal Shelter. He points to the recommended approval of Donnie Benson as Animal Shelter administrator as a step forward in that collaboration. 

 

 

Finding animals in a variety of situations where they are in need fo new homes is something Ennis is passionate about and he calls Second Chance a leader in those efforts, so bringing them back to the table of discussion with the Public Safety Committee and the Animal Shelter is something he'll be focused on in his time as committee chair.

 

 

Earlier this year, former Public Safety Committee Chairperson Lance Reece was instrumental in bringing ambulance service to Farmer City as their agreement with Arrow Ambulance expires on Jan. 1. Ennis is focusing his efforts in the near future on making sure the transition is seamless and getting to know all the players in that situation.

 

He also notes his good working relationship with Sheriff Mike Walker, and while there are aspects of the Sheriff's office not under the jurisdiction of Public Safety, Ennis believes they will work together well and also notes they oversee the Emergency Management Agency office as well. 

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Mt. Pulaski Schools Stayed In-Person For Entire Semester

An area school district was able to maintain in-person learning for the entire first semester.

 

Mt. Pulaski Superintendent Fred Lamkey says while other school districts have had to go remote for a couple of days or a week at a time, Mt. Pulaski schools have defied the odds and stayed in person.

 

 

Mr. Lamkey notes while they had positive cases in both staff and students, the mitigation efforts the district put in place have prevented mass quarantining.

 

 

Mr. Lamkey indicates the idea of switching to all remote learning, even temporarily, was never discussed.

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2 face fraud charges involving Illinois boat dealership

Two central Illinois residents have been indicted on federal charges alleging that they defrauded a boat dealership and others out of more than $2 million.

 

Jeffrey D. Gibbs, 55, of Farmer City and Kara M. Wilkey, 45, of Maroa were both indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire, mail, and bank fraud as well as aggravated identity theft.

 

Gibbs and Wilkey are former employees of Mid Illinois Boats, Inc., which does business as Clinton Marine II. Federal prosecutors allege that they defrauded that dealership, its customers, and banks through a “multifaced fraud scheme.”

 

The pair allegedly used that money for personal expenses, including spending it on automobiles, vacations, credit cards, utilities, and shopping, prosecutors allege.

 

Clinton Marine II operated boat dealerships in both East Peoria and Weldon, Illinois. Gibbs and Wilkey allegedly used their positions at the company from 2014 to 2019 in the scheme prosecutors said included obtaining loans on “fictitious boats” and false transactions and “taking out loans using forged signatures.”

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Local Coronavirus Testing Update

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported 34 new coronavirus cases this past weekend.

 

On Friday, DeWitt County reported 6 cases with 5 in Clinton and one in Wapella. Piatt County reported 7 cases in Monticello, 2 in White Heath, and one in Bement, Atwood, Cerro Gordo, and Deland.

 

On Saturday, DeWitt County reported 5 cases in Clinton, 4 in Farmer City, and one each in Wapella and Weldon. Piatt County reported one case for Bement, Mansfield, Milmnine, and Monticello.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt Co has had a total of 855 cases; Piatt Co has had a total of 992 cases.

 

IDPH Monday reported that both counties have the lowest positivity rate in Region 6. The Health Department implores the public to remain vigilant with social distancing and wearing a mask in public.

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Clinton City Council Approves Annexation of Outlining Properties

The Clinton City Council held a short meeting before the Christmas holiday Monday night.

 

As with most City Council meetings in recent years, things were rather uneventful. The Council approved the annexation of parcels of land on the outskirts of town. City Administrator Tim Followell tells Regional Radio News this piece of business goes back to an extension of Kleemann Road several years ago.

 

 

Commissioner John Wise provided an update on an equipment failure at the Water Treatment Plant and also noted it provided an opportunity for yearly maintenance while crews worked on fixing the issue.

 

 

Additionally, Commissioner Wise noted the process of digitizing the infrastructure of the City is underway. This was approved by the Council in November and will be a huge benefit for City crews and residents when completed.

 

 

Monday night the Council also approved an engineering agreement with the Farnsworth Group for an agreement of a subdivision design. 

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Lincoln Mayor Hoping Local Business Owners Take Advantage of COVID Grants

A Logan County community is re-investing CURES funding from the federal government to their small business community.

 

Acting Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch indicates last week they started to reinvest their CURES funding from the federal government to their small business community as grants to help them through this time.

 

 

Mayor Welch credits their City Administrator for working with other communities in central Illinois on how to make this available. He also notes the State of Illinois is allowing local communities flexibility in how this money can be utilized.

 

 

Last week the grant funding was made available to their local businesses. As of the latter part of last week, Mayor Welch says one business had already applied but he's hoping more will hear about it and inquire with the City.

 

 

Mayor Welch credits the business community for coming up with some creative initiatives to support one another. He says while the City of Lincoln is doing what they can but it is even more important their business owners work together as well. 

 

 

The Mayor also says they have had businesses take advantage of the 'Business Interruption Grants' from the State of Illinois for up to $25,000. He says that is a big boost in today's climate. 

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Illinois Lawmakers Seeking to Meet Virtually

LEGISLATION IS BEING INTRODUCED THIS WEEK TO ALLOW ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS TO CONDUCT BUSINESS REMOTELY IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY.

 

REPRESENTATIVE ANN WILLIAMS OF CHICAGO IS SPONSORING THE BILL…SAYING IT’S IMPERATIVE THE LEGISLATURE CAN ACT EVEN IF THEY CAN’T GET TOGETHER PHYSICALLY.

 

 

THE FULL GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEEDS A MECHANISM TO TAKE ACTION EVEN IF THEY CAN’T GET TOGETHER PHYSICALLY AT THE CAPITOL SAYS REPRESENTATIVE ANN WILLIAMS OF CHICAGO.

 

 

EARLIER THIS YEAR THE SENATE ADOPTED RULES LETTING MEMBERS MEET VIRTUALLY, BUT A BILL LETTING THE HOUSE DO THE SAME FELL ONE VOTE SHORT OF PASSAGE. WILLIAMS SAYS SHE’D LIKE TO SEE THIS NEW LEGISLATION PASSED AS SOON AS THEY ARE IN SESSION.

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Need a last-minute holiday gift? How about giving to a Bright Start College Savings Account

IF YOU NEED A LAST-MINUTE GIFT IDEA…ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS SUGGESTS GIVING THE GIFT OF COLLEGE. 

 

KIDS THAT ALREADY HAVE PILES OF TOYS AND GAMES WILL BENEFIT LATER FROM YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO A BRIGHT START COLLEGE SAVINGS ACCOUNT SAYS TREASURER FRERICHS.

 

 

FOR THE CHILD OR TEEN WHO HAS EVERYTHING…HOW ABOUT CONTRIBUTING TO THEIR BRIGHT START COLLEGE SAVINGS ACCOUNT? TREASURER FRERICHS SAYS HIS OFFICE’S GIFTING PROGRAM MAKES THAT EASY. AND IF THEY DON’T BRIGHT START?

 

 

BRIGHT START FUNDS CAN BE USED FOR TUITION, ROOM AND BOARD AND OTHER EXPENSES. VISIT ILLINOIS TREASURER DOT GOV TO GET STARTED.

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Keeping your Christmas tree fresh through the holidays

TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE FRESH THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS. 

 

DEPENDING ON WHEN YOU PUT YOUR TREE UP, IT MAY STILL BE IN GOOD SHAPE OR STARTING TO DRY OUT. UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION EDUCATOR KATIE PARKER SAYS WHAT YOUR TREE NEEDS MOST IS WATER.

 

 

YOU NEED TO CHECK YOUR TREE EVERY DAY TO SEE IF IT NEEDS WATER SAYS UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION EDUCATOR KATIE PARKER. BUT WHAT ABOUT ADDITIVES?

 

 

PARKER SAYS IT’S ALSO A GOOD IDEA TO KEEP YOUR TREE OUT OF DIRECT SUNLIGHT AND AWAY FROM HEAT VENTS. IF IT’S GETTING REALLY DRY YOU CAN ALWAYS CUT THE STUMP AGAIN BUT THAT’S PROBABLY IMPOSSIBLE IF IT’S DECORATED.

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Durbin expects more aggressive help from gov't with new administration

Federal lawmakers have agreed upon a $900 billion economic bailout plan. It includes $600 stimulus checks for individuals and according to Senator Dick Durbin a very important decision to extend a lifeline to millions of people.

 

 

Durbin says he wants to see more aggressive help from the federal government, but that will have to wait to be undertaken by the new administration.

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Clinton YMCA Survivor Program Starts January 4

If working out is one of your New Year's resolutions, the Clinton YMCA wants to help with a little incentive.

 

Rennie Cluver, Clinton YMCA Executive Director, indicates the annual Survivor program will begin on January 4. The program runs for 12 weeks and the amount of exercising increases each week.

 

 

Cluver notes those who are able to stay with the program for the full twelve weeks will be entered into a drawing for an all-inclusive trip to Cancun for two.

 

 

In addition to the grand prize, there are also weekly prizes that are donated from area businesses to keep you motivated. The winners for the weekly prizes are drawn from all participants in the program.

 

 

The Survivor program begins January 4 and is available to Clinton YMCA members only. The cost of enrollment is $28 for the program and a t-shirt, or $38 for the program and a hoodie. To register stop by the Clinton YMCA or call (217) 935-8307.

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DeWitt County Museum Director Celebrating Grant for New Book

The DeWitt County Museum Director is celebrating a grant from a DeWitt County bank that will allow them to write a book on the history of the CH Moore Homestead and some of the stories that make the landmark so special.

 

Joey Long tells Regional Radio News they received a grant from First National Bank to go towards a nearly $12,000 project of writing a book. She hopes to tell stories of the Homestead and the people that lived there.

 

 

As she embarks on this journey, Long anticipates there being lots of revisions made to stories and chapters as she finds and remembers more information. While she has a rough outline of how she wants it to look, she is excited to see it all come together.

 

 

Imaging will be a part of the book and Long explains they are incorporating some graphic design into it. She says it will allow them to highlight items and artifacts that often aren't highlighted within the museum.

 

 

While there isn't an exact date for the book to be finished or released, Long indicates they are already thinking about the distribution and availability of it. She hopes to have it available locally and for it to be a promotional tool for them.

 

 

Long is very excited to take this project on not just for her but because she views it as a great promotion tool for the museum as it begins to circulate.

 

 

Long says the contribution from First National Bank is going to allow them to finally get to this up and going as they now have time thanks to COVID and pursue other grant opportunities to see it through.

 

Long may begin sharing updates of her journey of putting the book together and directs anyone interested in perhaps following that to seek out the CH Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum on Facebook for any updates. 

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DeWitt County Healthcare Officials Discuss What's Next for COVID Vaccines

Last week DeWitt County received its first shipment of COVID vaccines, being designated by the State of Illinois as a top-50 county in death rate in Illinois, qualifying it to receive the first round of inoculations.

 

Local health officials say another round of vaccines should not be far off. DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert anticipates this week, another company receiving emergency-use designation and to begin shipping out its vaccine to the public.

 

 

Warner Hospital CEO Paul Skowron echoes Remmert's facts on the latest with what happens next for vaccines and points out, by February 1, there could be up to five companies with vaccines readily available.

 

 

Last week on Regional Radio News, listeners and readers heard Remmert provide a vote of support for the vaccines and indicates he will be getting inoculated when it is his turn.

 

 

Last week, DeWitt County joined Piatt County in coming off the Governor's COVID warning list, something Remmert says is a sign of cases locally starting to drop. He continues to implore the public to be diligent in the things they're doing. 

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Central A&M Schools to Start Second Semester With Week of Remote Learning

Another Macon County school district will start their post-winter break in remote learning.

 

Warrensburg-Latham Schools and Maroa-Forsyth Schools have announced in the last two weeks they will be going full remote-learning for two weeks following the winter break and recently, Central A&M Superintendent announced plans to do just a week, but Superintendent Dr. DeAnn Heck says this is exactly what they did after Thanksgiving to help keep any COVID-19 positive cases out of the school district.

 

 

After Central A&M came back after the week of remote learning after Thanksgiving, Dr. Heck says that they had over 20 kids out with COVID symptoms or who were quarantined because of a sick family member.

 

 

Dr. Heck points out the majority of positive COVID-19 cases that they’ve had have come from the middle school and high school level. 

 

 

Schools are not superspreaders of COVID and because of that, Dr. Heck believes a lot more of the larger school districts will move to in-person learning but adds to have learning done in-person you have to have healthy adults.

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Solar energy on the rise in Illinois

Solar energy is on the rise across Illinois', thanks to an initiative set up by the Pritzker administration.

 

Shannon Fulton with Straight Up Solar said that solar energy would see an enormous boom over the next couple of years due to Gov. Pritzker's plan to make Illinois to 25% renewable energy by 2025.

 

 

According to a study of wind and solar energy's economic impact, McLean County is the top renewable energy producer in the state.

 

Over the next 10-years across the state, renewable energy will generate over $8 billion in economic output and create over 53,000 jobs.

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Local Coronavirus Update

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported 35 new coronavirus cases this past week.

 

On Wednesday, DeWitt County added 9 in Clinton and one in Farmer City. Piatt County reported 3 cases in Monticello, 2 in Bement, and one in Hammond and Mansfield.

 

Thursday, 5 cases were reported in Clinton, 2 in Waynesville, one in Farmer City, and one in Wapella. For Piatt County, 6 cases were reported in Monticello along with one each in Atwood, Bement, and La Place.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 838 cases; Piatt County has had a total of 975 cases.

 

Two additional COVID-19 deaths were reported Thursday in DeWitt County, a male in his 70s and a female in her 90s.

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Decatur Area Arts Council Members Release Local Christmas Song

A Christmas song about Decatur is now available to purchase or stream online.

 

Jerry Johnson, Executive Director of the Decatur Area Arts Council, indicates "Christmastime in Soy City" originated as part of a musical written by Jayson Albright and Doug Nicholson. Members of the Arts Council decided to record and release the song this year.

 

 

Johnson says he and Jayson provided the vocals for the recording. He notes the band on the recording, credited as the Soy City Slingers, consists of instructors from Millikin University's "Rock U" program and Millikin students.

 

 

The song is available to purchase or stream on Youtube, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, and Apple Music. All proceeds generated from sales will support the Decatur Area Arts Council and Rock University.

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Monticello Chamber of Commerce Encouraging to Support Local Restaurants

Looking for a last-minute gift? The Monticello Chamber of Commerce recommends purchasing a gift card to your favorite local eatery.

 

Shelly Crawford-Stock, Executive Director of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce, notes the Chamber's chamber bucks program allows patrons to purchase gift cards to several local restaurants. In addition, she has noticed several restaurants have their own deals and specials.

 

 

Crawford-Stock indicates December is traditionally a tough month for restaurants. The impact will be felt even harder this year, given the circumstances.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It's felt more like December this week in Illinois. As we enter Christmas week, things will be mild but then cool off for the big day. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...

 

 

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State Announces New Native American Employment Plan Advisory Council

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CENTRAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES IS ANNOUNCING THE NEW NATIVE AMERICAN EMPLOYMENT PLAN ADVISORY COUNCIL, WHICH WILL WORK TO INCREASE DIVERSITY IN STATE GOVERNMENT. 

 

THE 10 MEMBER GROUP IS LOOKING AT WAYS TO ATTRACT MORE NATIVE AMERICAN STATE EMPLOYEES AND ADDRESS ANY BARRIERS THEY FACE IN APPLYING OR PROMOTING TO HIGHER POSITIONS SAYS C-M-S DEPUTY DIRECTOR REBECCA ROUSSELL.

 

 

THERE ARE MORE THAN 750 THOUSAND NATIVE AMERICANS LIVING IN ILLINOIS BUT THEY ONLY MAKE UP A VERY SMALL PORTION OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT WORKFORCE.

 

 

THE 10 MEMBER GROUP WILL MEET QUARTERLY TO EXAMINE BARRIERS THAT NATIVE AMERICANS FACE IN APPLYING FOR STATE JOBS AND GETTING PROMOTIONS.

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State Launches New Effort to Get Laptops to Those Who Can't Afford Them

A NEW STATEWIDE EFFORT AIMS TO GET COMPUTERS INTO THE HANDS OF THOSE WHO CAN'T AFFORD ONE. 

 

WITH SO MANY STUDENTS AND ADULTS WORKING REMOTELY, ACCESS TO A COMPUTER OR MOBILE DEVICE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER SAYS GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER. THAT'S WHY THE STATE IS LAUNCHING THE CONNECT ILLINOIS COMPUTER EQUITY NETWORK, WHICH WILL BEGIN DISTRIBUTING 20 THOUSAND COMPUTERS TO LOW INCOME FAMILIES. THE GOVERNOR IS ASKING BUSINESSES TO PARTICIPATE AS WELL.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS MORE THAN ONE MILLION ILLINOIS HOUSEHOLDS DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO A COMPUTER, MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE TO WORK FROM HOME OR PARTICIPATE IN REMOTE LEARNING.

 

 

INDIVIDUALS ARE ALSO ENCOURAGED TO DONATE OLD COMPUTERS. VISIT ILLINOIS DOT GOV SLASH COMPUTER EQUITY NETWORK TO DONATE OR APPLY FOR A DEVICE. COMMUNITY EVENTS WILL BE HELD AS WELL.

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DeWitt County Set to Come Off COVID Warning List

DeWitt County is coming off the Governor's COVID warning list.

 

Friday afternoon the latest statewide information has the county below the thresholds and DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert indicates both of their counties are now off the list.

 

 

Remmert expressed his pleasure with local residents for doing the right things through the holidays and the metrics are reflecting that. He continues to ask for diligence with Christmas and then New Year's upon us.

 

 

The latest data from the health department indicates DeWitt County added 18 new cases of COVID Monday and Tuesday while Piatt County added 19.

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Warner Hospital CEO 'Optimistic' With Latest COVID Developments

The latest COVID developments in Illinois have a DeWitt County healthcare official very optimistic.

 

Paul Skowron is the CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services and indicates the diligence of the community is resulting in the COVID situation in DeWitt County turning around. 

 

 

Skowron is pleased with the way the country is handling COVID compared to the rest of the world and is hopeful by the spring, we'll be able to start to get back to normal.

 

 

DeWitt County received its first vaccines this week. Skowron indicates they received 50 doses that went to their staff to start as they await another shipment of vaccines as soon as next week. 

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DeWitt County Board's Land Use Committee Hears From Animal Shelter, Second Chance for Pets Representatives

Turnover and new leadership on the DeWitt County Board means new leadership within the committee structure.

 

In his first meeting as chairperson of the Public Safety Committee, Nate Ennis called in representatives from Second Chance for Pets of DeWitt County and the DeWitt County Animal Shelter. Kristina Deerwester, representing Second Chance says it is nice to be back in dialogue with the County Board.

 

 

Ennis indicates the Public Safety Committee is not the only group changing. The shelter has not had an administrator in place the last few months but is hopeful the DeWitt County Board will approve Donnie Benson as the new administrator at their meeting next week.

 

 

The Public Safety Committee includes Buck Carter, Megan Myers, Dave Newberg, Christy Pruser, and Ennis. 

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Senator Duckworth Wants Stimulus Bill Done

Still no deal yet on a new federal stimulus plan for the nation’s economy.

 

The US Senate appears close to being able to approve a package that might include another round of checks for individuals. US Senator Tammy Duckworth says her message to others in the Senate has been clear.

 

 

Lawmakers are also racing a deadline to pass an overall spending plan to avoid a government shutdown.

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Illinois Receives Less Vaccinations Than Originally Thought

IT LOOKS LIKE ILLINOIS' SUPPLY OF COVID-19 VACCINE EXPECTED IN COMING WEEKS IS BEING CUT IN HALF. 

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THEY WERE ORIGINALLY TOLD THAT EIGHT MILLION DOSES OF THE PFIZER VACCINE WOULD BE SHIPPED OUT ACROSS THE COUNTRY NEXT WEEK.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE SHIPMENT FOR THE FOLLOWING WEEK HAS ALSO BEEN REDUCED BY ABOUT 50 PERCENT AND NOTES THIS WILL NOT AFFECT DISTRIBUTION OF DOSES RECEIVED THIS WEEK.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE SIZE OF THE SHIPMENT IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING AND THAT THIS LATEST DELAY ISN'T AFFECTING DISTRIBUTION OF THE VACCINE THE STATE HAS JUST RECEIVED.

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Illinois House Committee Holds Hearing on Veterans Home Coronavirus Outbreak

St Representatives Lance Yednock, David Welter, and Sue Rezin asked questions at an Illinois House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday about the coronavirus cases at the LaSalle veteran's home. 

 

Many were about why the Illinois Department of Public Health wasn’t involved until a week-and-a-half into the outbreak. Yednock, an Ottawa Democrat who's on the committee and whose district includes the veterans home, told the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs he wants a solution and not finger-pointing.

 

 

One representative suggested having the fired nursing home administrator answer questions at a future hearing and having a roll call of the 33 residents who died in the outbreak. Nothing was settled Wednesday except that the committee needs to meet again and keep digging for answers. The counterpart committee in the Illinois Senate met last month.

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Downstate Lawmaker Calls Illinois Mitigations "Failure of Democracy"

According to a Central Illinois lawmaker, Gov. Pritzker's COVID-19 mitigations are a '"failure of democracy" after calling on the Governor to answer questions about mitigation decisions.

 

State Senator Jason Barickman said that Gov. Pritzker is making unilateral decisions regarding COVID mitigations without receiving the General Assembly's input.

 

 

Barickman said the Governor had held one-way phone calls with General Assembly members, telling them his mitigation decisions without asking for input. So far, Gov. Pritzker has issued 70 unilateral Executive orders in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Pritzker issued 20 orders.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Outlines State Legislative Priorities

State legislative priorities have been outlined by the Illinois Farm Bureau. IFB’s mark Gebhards has a rundown.

 

 

The fall veto session was cancelled and Governor Pritzker has declined to push for a special at this time so it’s unclear when the Illinois General Assembly will convene again.

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As COVID Numbers Drop, State Officials Warn to Not Let Down

STATE OFFICIALS SAY WHILE COVID-19 CASES SEEM TO BE ON A DOWNWARD TREND, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO LET UP ON TAKING SAFETY PRECAUTIONS.

 

EVEN THOUGH THERE DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE A BIG POST-THANKSGIVING CASE SURGE, FAMILIES SHOULD NOT TAKE THAT AS A FREE PASS TO HOLD LARGE HOLIDAY GET TOGETHERS. STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) IS MAKING A SPECIAL APPEAL TO YOUNG ADULTS WHO DON'T THINK THEY NEED TO WORRY ABOUT GETTING SICK.

 

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS AGAIN ASKING FAMILIES TO NOT HOLD BIG FAMILY GATHERINGS FOR THE HOLIDAYS, BUT TO INSTEAD CELEBRATE WITH YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY OR OPEN PRESENTS VIRTUALLY. HE SAYS THE CHANCE OF TRANSMISSION IS JUST STILL TOO HIGH.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE IS HOPEFUL THAT IF EVERYONE SOCIALLY DISTANCES, STAYS HOME AND CONTINUES TO WEAR A MASK, THAT OFFICIALS CAN EASE SOME OF THE COVID RESTRICTIONS IN COMING WEEKS.

 

AND WHILE THE NUMBER OF DAILY COVID CASES HAS BEEN UNDER 10 THOUSAND FOR A WEEK NOW...PATIENT DEATHS HAVE BEEN INCREASING IN RECENT DAYS.

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Illinois Soybean Association Wraps Up 2020

This year was a time to learn new ways to do old things, according to Rachel Peabody with the Illinois Soybean Association.

 

She says the organization learned to adapt and it was still able to accommodate soybean producers across the state.

 

 

One example, meeting with soybean buyers across the globe but doing so via Zoom. According to the USDA, Illinois soybean yields are projected at 58 bushels per acre.

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DeWitt County Health Officials Talk Local COVID Vaccine Distribution

Around 50 COVID vaccines were delivered to Warner Hospital and Health Services in Clinton on Wednesday.

 

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department received those and immediately sent those to Clinton's hospital. Executive Director of the Health Department Dave Remmert indicates DeWitt County was designated as one of the 50 counties with the highest death rates in Illinois.

 

 

CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, Paul Skowron indicates his staff is receiving the first round of vaccines and they are excited to have received those and begin the process of inoculating their staff.

 

 

A survey of employees at the City-owned facility indicates frontline workers were willing to get vaccinated first, something Skowron hoped would happen. He points out this will not be mandatory for their staff since it is a new vaccine but is appreciative their staff is willing to step up.

 

 

Remmert gave the vaccine a vote of confidence, indicating none of the safety measures in producing a vaccine were violated, and says he will be getting vaccinated when it is his turn.

 

 

Remmert and Skowron both are optimistic more vaccines will be available as several other companies roll out their vaccines and get emergency-use designations. We'll hear more from them next week on what is next with vaccines locally on Regional Radio News. 

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Blue Ridge Schools to Take Adaptive Pause Out of Winter Break

A DeWitt County School district is joining a growing number of schools to go remote for a short time coming out of the winter break.

 

Blue Ridge schools announced today (Thursday) they will be using the first week back from winter break to go full remote. Superintendent Dr. Hillary Stanifer told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday they plan to bring students back in in-person on Tuesday, January 12.

 

 

As the district gets set to begin their winter break starting next week, the COVID situation is starting to escalate in the school. According to Dr. Stanifer, this is as bad as they've seen it through the first semester with students and teachers in quarantine or testing positive. 

 

 

Dr. Stanifer indicates they have been very close to moving to remote learning for the rest of the semester but they are doing everything they can to keep as many kids in-person as possible. She emphasizes their staff and teacher's union is asking for consistency in decision-making. 

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Clinton Schools Superintendent Discusses COVID Latest, Reviews First Semester

As Clinton Schools wind down their first semester this week, Superintendent Curt Nettles says it was a tough decision to keep kids out of school for the remainder of the semester but does not regret the decision.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Nettles told Regional Radio News prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, there would be nearly 200 students out, cases were increasing and the administrative team felt it would be best to go full remote for three weeks. He adds they felt their remote plan was very strong and ready to go.

 

 

Putting a threshold on cases or students in quarantine would limit the district's flexibility in making a decision about remote learning. Nettles says doing something like that would box them into decisions they perhaps would not need to make.

 

 

As the first semester winds down and the second semester is on the horizon at the turn of the calendar year, Nettles does not claim to have been perfect during this school year unlike any other but says he will work to do better.

 

 

Even with students home for remote learning the next two days and winter break the two weeks following, Nettles hopes families will keep the school district informed as to the COVID activity happening in their homes, which will help them come out of winter break. He indicated Tuesday night at the December Board of Education meeting, he has every intention of bringing kids back on Monday, January 4 for in-person learning.

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Macon County Farm Offering Safe Christmas Spectacular

If you're looking for something safe to do to give you some extra holiday spirit, then a Macon County farm might be what you're looking for.

 

David Brix and his family are inviting folks to their annual "Brix Farm Christmas Spectacular" on Decatur's northeast side.  He explains what started as just decorating for family and friends a few years ago, has quickly grown into a 75-thousand light display that's synchronized to music.

 

 

According to Brix, the crowds this year have been tremendous.  He believes it's due to the pandemic, and people needing any activity to get them out of the house.  With that in mind, he says they've definitely adjusted how the "Spectacular" operates in order to be as safe as possible.

 

 

The Brix family is grateful to be able to share the joy of the season.  David says they had no idea how much impact their displays would have, but the response from the community has been tremendous.

 

 

As for finding the "Brix Farm Christmas Spectacular?"

 

 

The Spectacular is on Decatur's northeast side on Garver Church Road in the vicinity of Richland Community College.  You can learn more about the show, and its hours of operation on the Brix Farm Christmas Spectacular Facebook page. 

 

 

 

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COVID Vaccine Scams Expected

With a COVID-19 vaccine now being rolled out, government officials expect scams to emerge as distribution begins. Everything from phony treatments to phishing messages are possible. An investigator with the Better Business Bureau has some tips to help you protect yourself.

 

Selling fake vaccines and other treatments is likely only one of many ways that scammers will try to cash in on the vaccine release. BBB Investigator Don O’Brien says we need to watch out for phishing messages attempting to trick you into sharing your passwords and personal information.

 

 

He says you can spot a coronavirus vaccine con by researching carefully. Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Ignore calls for immediate action, and if you have questions, check with your doctor: If you want a vaccine early, reach out to your healthcare provider about your options.

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Miller Park Zoo Touts Successful Breeding of Snow Leopards, Recovery of Pups from Unusual Complication

The Miller Park Zoo is again celebrating the successful breeding of their snow leopard pair and their recovery from an unusual complication at birth.

 

Jay Tetzloff is the Superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo in Normal and tells Regional Radio News, their snow leopard cubs had 'swimmers syndrome', which he says is common in dogs but is becoming an issue with snow leopards in recent years.

 

 

The snow leopard cubs were sent to the Omaha Zoo for rehabilitation and Tetzloff indicates before they did that, they gradually separated the cubs from their mother to make sure they could do basic things like eating on their own. Once they got the all-clear, it was off to Omaha for the cubs to recover.

 

 

Tetzloff leads the snow leopard breeding program manager and coordinator and says while snow leopards are considered vulnerable but Tetzloff believes they should be considered an endangered species, something that changed recently for the animals.

 

 

Last week, the Louisville Zoo announced one of their snow leopards came down with COVID. Tetzloff hopes the three-year-old female will recover as she is one of the females birthed at the Miller Park Zoo as a part of their breeding program.

 

Additionally, the snow leopard cubs at the Miller Park Zoo were two of only seven cubs to survive this year, emphasizing the importance of the measures they took to help their young ones recover from swimmers syndrome. 

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Congressman Davis Says COVID Relief Turning into 'Parlor Game'

A second Coronavirus stimulus bill is turning into a "typical Washington D.C. parlor game,' according to U.S. Representative Rodney Davis. At the end of November, a group of bipartisan lawmakers proposed a $908 billion package later shot down by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell due to a lack of a "targeted bill." The Taylorville Republican said the problem is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her reluctance to work on bipartisan relief.

 

 

A group of bipartisan lawmakers are set to unveil a second $908 billion aid package in hopes of Congressional approval. Around $300 billion remains unused from the first COVID-19 pandemic relief fund that President Trump says should go to Americans in the form of direct payments. Since the election, Leader McConnell and Speaker Pelosi have yet to hold talks on a second COVID-relief bill.

 

Since the election, Leader McConnell and Speaker Pelosi have yet to hold talks on a second COVID-relief bill.

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Maroa-Forsyth Schools to Opt for Remote Learning Out of Christmas Break

Students in another Macon County school district will be participating in remote learning out of the Christmas break.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools, Dr. John Ahlemeyer, indicated to Regional Radio News, their Board of Education has elected to have students participate in remote learning when the winter break concludes on January 4. He reminds the community, they started their school year later than most and so this remote learning resumption of school will finish out their first semester. 

 

 

According to Dr. Ahlemeyer, bringing students back for a short-term remote learning time will allow their teachers to better focus on all their students rather than have to juggle in-person students and students that are remote.

 

 

Many central Illinois school leaders are reporting families of students who have chosen to remote learn struggling and Dr. Ahlemeyer believes this remote learning start to the post-winter break will allow their staff to bring in students who are struggling and give them much-needed extra attention.

 

 

Finally, Dr. Ahlemeyer points out they are anticipating a spike in students that will be re-joining the school population from remote learning. He points out this will allow their administration to "redesign" the school schedule. 

 

 

As the vaccine rolls out this week, Dr. Ahlemeyer calls it a "game-changer" for schools and looks forward to the combination of the vaccine and more readily available testing, bringing schools back to normal little by little. 

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Sen. Durbin Proposes $748-Billion Stimulus

As finger-pointing continues in Congress about a second COVID-19 stimulus bill, Illinois' senior U.S. Senator is taking things into his own hands in hopes American's get relief before Christmas.

 

For the past three-weeks, Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, along with 10 Republican and Democratic Senators, created a new $748 billion stimulus that he says will extend the evection moratorium along with unemployment benefits.

 

 

For the first time since the election on Monday, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to discuss COVID-relief.

 

Durbin's Coronavirus stimulus bill has yet to be called for a vote.

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University of Illinois Administered More Than One-Million COVID Tests

THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA CHAMPAIGN HAS NOW RUN MORE THAN ONE MILLION SALIVA TESTS FOR COVID-19.

 

ALL STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF WHO LIVE IN THE AREA ARE TESTED WEEKLY, WITH THE GROUNDBREAKING SALIVA TEST ACCOUNTING FOR 10 PERCENT OF ALL COVID TESTING IN ILLINOIS. U OF I PRESIDENT TIM KILLEEN SAYS THE “SHIELD” PROGRAM HAS LED TO A TEST POSITIVITY RATE OF LESS THAN ONE PERCENT.

 

 

KILLEEN SAYS THE SALIVA TEST IS CHEAPER AND PRODUCES QUICKER RESULTS THAN THE TRADITIONAL NASAL SWAB. HE SAYS IT’S DRAMATICALLY HELPED TO REDUCE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS.

 

 

KILLEEN SAYS LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS ARE ALSO USING THE SALIVA TEST AND THAT THE U OF I HOPES TO SOON OFFER IT TO ESSENTIAL WORKERS AND SCHOOLS ACROSS THE STATE.

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Minimum Wage Workers Get Raise Jan. 1

MINIMUM WAGE WORKERS IN ILLINOIS WILL BE GETTING A RAISE COME JANUARY FIRST. 

 

THE CURRENT STATE MINIMUM WAGE IS TEN DOLLARS AN HOUR. THAT WILL BE INCREASING TO 11 BUCKS AN HOUR IN THE NEW YEAR SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ASSISTANT DIRECTOR JASON KELLER.

 

 

THE MINIMUM WAGE FOR TEENAGERS WORKING LESS THAN 650 HOURS A YEAR RISES TO EIGHT DOLLARS FIFTY CENTS AN HOUR ON THE FIRST AND EVENTUALLY GOES UP TO 13 BUCKS AN HOUR.

 

 

A RECENT STUDY FOUND THAT MORE THAN ONE POINT FOUR MILLION HOURLY WORKERS IN ILLINOIS MAKE LESS THAN 15 DOLLARS AN HOUR.

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Gov. Pritzker Proposes $711-Million in Cuts

The first step in fixing a multi-billion dollar budget hole for Governor JB Pritzker is by cutting $711 million in state expenses. 

 

The proposals include working with AFSCME to identify $75 million in personnel cost adjustments – that might include furlough days. The plan also saves millions by reducing grants and a hiring freeze. Gov. Pritzker says these are his ideas to shore up state finances, now it’s time to hear from Republicans.

 

 

Pritzker remains hopeful that the federal government will still arrive with fiscal support for state and local budgets turned upside down by the pandemic.

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Clinton Board of Education Hears Plans for Second Semester

As area school district begin their preparations for the second semester amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Clinton Board of Education Tuesday night at their monthly board meeting heard what their schools have planned for January and beyond.

 

Every intention of returning to in-person learning on January 4 is what Superintendent Curt Nettles told his board Tuesday, an announcement that came last week. He recommends sticking with the plan they opened schools with, in the fall. 

 

 

Nettles says it would take compelling evidence to alter those plans and is asking parents as the winter break approaches and students remain in remote learning until the end of the semester, to keep the district informed of the COVID situation in their households.

 

 

All school buildings in the district are seeing a substantial amount of students returning to in-person learning. Nettles is pleased with that and notes they also have a small number of students that are opting to go to remote learning from in-person learning.

 

 

Several districts in central Illinois are opting for an adaptive pause in in-person learning or starting their post-winter break learning in the remote setting. For districts that started later in the fall, most of their semesters will end in mid-to-late January while Clinton schools wrap up their first semester before kids head off for winter break. 

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DeWitt County Sheriff Discusses Dangerous Intersections on Highway 51 in Clinton

Last week, an ugly accident at the intersection of Route 10 and Highway 51 was fortunate to see all parties walk away from the scene unharmed, however, the DeWitt County Sheriff is reminding local motorists that intersection, along with a few others can be very dangerous.

 

Sheriff Mike Walker on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday told Regional Radio News the accident that occurred last week looked much worse than it ended up being, especially for the individuals involved.

 

 

According to the Sheriff, all the intersections at Highway 51 create their own challenges and he implores drivers from all areas of Illinois to proceed out of those traffic lights with caution and make sure you are aware of your surroundings.

 

 

Being in a rural area with constant traffic movement, especially grain haulers, the Sheriff says those intersections are not the only dangerous places. He points out the deadly truck accident from October that claimed the life of a Weldon man.

 

 

The Sheriff also reminds motorists this the time of the year for increased deer activity. If you're driving through rural areas, the Sheriff implores motorists to be on the lookout on the side of the roads for any deer move and drive in anticipation of seeing a deer running out in front of you. 

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DeWitt County Adds 22 New COVID Cases Between Friday and Sunday, Piatt County Adds 18

DeWitt County added 22 new COVID cases between Friday and Sunday this weekend while Piatt County added 18.

 

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department announced the additional cases on Monday evening, bringing DeWitt County to a total of 801 and Piatt County has had a total of 940.

 

One additional COVID-19 death was reported yesterday - a DeWitt County male in his 90s.  DeWitt County has had a total of 16 deaths. Piatt County has had a total of 5 deaths.

 

The Health Department last week indicated to Regional Radio News their contact tracers are beginning to catch up on their case loads thanks to a gradual reduction in overall cases. 

 

They continue to encourage not attending big events, parties and gatherings and do not host such events. 

 

Wash your hands frequently, watch your distance and wear a mask when in public. 

 

They also continue to encourage getting tested even when asymptomatic.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) yesterday reported 7,214 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 103 additional deaths.

 

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 92,256 specimens for a total 11,869,088. As of last night, 4,951 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,070 patients were in the ICU and 621 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

 

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from December 7 – December 13, 2020 is 8.7%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from December 7 – December 13, 2020 is 10.3%.

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Clinton Board of Education Returning to Virtual Meetings

The Clinton Board of Education is returning to virtual meetings starting tonight.

 

The Board has been meeting in the high school commons for several months with appropriate distancing and everyone masked but in light of recent mitigations from the State of Illinois, Superintendent Curt Nettles is asking anyone who would like to attend to do so virtually.

 

Visting cusd15.org and in the menu tab, selecting 'Board of Education' will take you to tonight's agenda. 

 

Tonight's agenda includes discussion on the re-opening plan for the second semester. Additionally, the levy will be made official and the Board Policy will be updated. 

 

Tonight's meeting gets underway at 6:30 pm. 

 

Hear from Nettles following tonight's Board meeting on Wednesday on the WHOW Morning Show shortly after 8:30 am.

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Local Superintendents Frustrated With Irregularities in Health Department Quarantine Guidance

The CDC changing quarantine guidance has created a lot of frustration from the perspective of local school leaders.

 

As central Illinois county health departments decide how to go about implemented the new guidance from the CDC reducing quarantine time, applying the new guidance varies from department-to-department and that has left Superintendent Dr. Sheila Greenwood at Bement Schools very frustrated.

 

 

Last month, it was announced Kirby Medical Center was providing rapid tests for students and teachers of all Piatt County school districts and Dr. Greenwwod is thankful to them for being willing to help in the efforts of quarantine through their testing. 

 

 

COVID is dominating the time, energy, and efforts of school leaders this year and Dr. Greenwood says it is keeping them from doing things that are instrumental in making sure they have a well-run school district.

 

 

Dr. Greenwood is very thankful her district is one of the few in central Illinois that has not had to spend a single day in remote learning to this point and they have only had a small handful of positive COVID cases in their population. 

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BBB Warns Against Puppies for Presents Scams

Puppies for Presents?

 

Are you thinking about giving a puppy for Christmas? The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a surge in online puppy scams. Reports to the organization have doubled since 2019 and increased five-fold in the past four years. If you are set on having a puppy present, Investigator Don O’Brien says it’s best to not purchase one online.

 

 

O’Brien says don't be fooled by a well-designed website. And if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of scammers who offer to "re-home" their purebred puppy in exchange for transportation or vaccination fees.

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House Legislative Investigative Committee Votes Along Party Lines Not to Take Action

A HOUSE INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE LOOKING INTO THE COM-ED BRIBERY SCHEME IS WRAPPING UP WITHOUT TAKING ANY ACTION.

 

THE COMMITTEE WAS SET UP AT THE REQUEST OF THE G-O-P, ALLEGING SPEAKER MADIGAN ENGAGED IN CONDUCT UNBECOMING OF A LEGISLATOR WHEN DEALING WITH COM ED. IT ONLY MET THREE TIMES AND HEARD FROM ONE WITNESS. REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE DEANNE MAZZOCHI OF WESTMONT SAYS THERE NEEDS TO BE FURTHER INVESTIGATION.

 

 

DEMOCRATS, LIKE REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS WELCH OF WESTCHESTER, DISMISS THAT IDEA.

 

 

 THEY VOTED TO NOT TAKE ANY ACTION AGAINST THE SPEAKER.

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First COVID Shots Being Given Today in Illinois

COVID 19 vaccines have arrived in Illinois, 43,000 doses have been sent directly to the state. 

 

In total about 100,000 vaccine shots are coming to the Land of Lincoln, the remaining shipments will be sent to the city of Chicago and four other health departments. Governor JB Pritzker says the first people in Illinois will receive shots today.

 

 

Pritzker says it will take a few days to get the vaccine out of state stockpiles to every regional hospital that will be administering it.

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Heritage Professional Offers Tips for Individuals Who Know Someone Struggling Emotionally, Mentally

The holiday season can be a challenging time for individuals battling depression and anxiety and a local healthcare professional has some thoughts on out how those who may know someone with these symptoms can support them.

 

Jessica Smiley with Heritage Behavioral Health Services says for these individuals, minimizing their feelings isn't healthy and for those who know someone with these feelings, minimizing their feelings is not healthy either.

 

 

If you are struggling with these feelings this holiday season, which has added triggers associated with COVID, Smiley points out more people than ever are reaching out to them seeking help.

 

 

Get support for yourself or direct someone in your life for more information to heritagenet.org. 

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Clinton Police Chief Discusses Holiday Security

Normally, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers would offer tips about safety when out shopping for Christmas but as the hustle and bustle of the shopping centers takes a turn to flip from website to website, the challenges of the holiday season look a little different in 2020.

 

Chief Lowers says it is imperative when shopping online you do so securely and safely. As online shopping becomes more popular, it is being recommended you do any shopping through a retailer's app, rather than their website.

 

 

If you're going to use your web browser, keep it updated with the latest updates. Make sure the URLs you are visiting starts with 'https'. Chief Lowers says these are just the starters of your secure shopping experience.

 

 

The Chief recommends as soon as you can, securing those packages on your front porch. He says people are starting to prowl in neighborhoods and taking packages off the porches of residents.

 

 

Other recommendations from the Chief include having any packages shipped to your place of employment if your employer will allow that. Additionally, many companies track packages and offer updates on your package's shipping status, he encourages you to keep track of those things.

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools To Go Remote First Two Weeks to Start Second Semester

Next week begins winter break for Warrensburg-Latham students and to start their second semester, they will be remote learning for a few weeks.

 

The Board of Education recently decided on this and Superintendent Cheryl Warner tells Regional Radio News the idea is to mitigate any COVID issues stemming from the holidays before bringing all kids back to the buildings.

 

 

As students head to winter break, Warner explains they will not be able to track their students' activity as it relates to any COVID issues. She believes it will allow them to start fresh when students return in late-January.

 

 

Out of the Thanksgiving holiday, Warner has been pleased with the COVID trends she is seeing within the district however, she notes it will be very difficult for families to not see each other during Christmas and New Years' holidays, another reason the adaptive pause was enacted.

 

 

Warner indicates they keep track of all sorts of COVID data within the district and release it to their website, wl.k12.il.us. 

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St. Louis District Dairy Council Dietician Discusses Meal Planning

As Americans prepare for smaller holiday gatherings and more time separated from family and friends during the winter months due to COVID, a nutrition organization is promoting healthy meal planning for the holidays and beyond.

 

Monica Nyman is a nutritionist with the St. Louis District Dairy Council and says meal planning is a great way to keep track of what you're eating and try for a more healthy lifestyle. She notes online grocery shopping has become a popular option during the pandemic and this can be a good option and keep you from pulling things off the shelf that may not be so healthy.

 

 

Nyman encourages you to keep your dairy consumption in mind when meal planning. Dairy is proven to have lots of nutrients and protein needed for the daily recommendations. Additionally, it is a great snack for the little ones that are home more than normal right now.

 

 

As we look ahead to maintaining healthy eating through the holidays and incorporating our habits for a healthy 2021, Nyman has some advice, including, makings sure we start the day with breakfast.

 

 

Fasting is becoming a trendy dieting plan but Nyman does not recommend fasting. She adds getting plenty of protein and slowly integrating exercise into our daily routines are good steps to take to begin the path to wellness.

 

 

Nyman points anyone to their website, stldairycouncil.org for more tips on a healthy holiday season. You can also follow the St. Louis District Dairy Council on Facebook and Instagram. 

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Sen. Duckworth Supports Another Round of PPP

A recent survey of Illinois bar and restaurant owners said that over half of those businesses would close in the next six months if more federal relief doesn’t come.

 

US Senator Tammy Duckworth says that kind of information is why she supports another round of PPP and the move to make the loans automatically forgivable to small businesses.

 

 

The automatic loan forgiveness limit would set at $150,000.

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Positives of 2020 For Farmers Despite COVID

Amid trade wars and the Coronavirus pandemic, 2020 provided a challenging year for farmers; however, there were some bright spots.

 

One of those bright spots includes government payments to farmers that surged to record numbers under the Trump administration. According to Rodney Weinzierl, Executive Director of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, one prominent bright spot was the United States Canada and Mexico trade deal.

 

 

Weinzierl said another stride for farmers in the past year was waterway improvements on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

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Congressman Davis Calls Election 'A Fraud'

Amid election uncertainty and several Illinois lawmakers joining in a Texas lawsuit challenging the election, one Central Illinois lawmaker says the recent election was full of fraud, and those who committed crimes need to be prosecuted.

 

Joining a list of 106 Republicans are Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood and Mike Bost in a lawsuit arguing election fraud impacting President Trump. However, Central Illinois Republican, Rodney Davis, is not on the lawsuit despite calling the election a fraud.

 

 

The Taylorville Republican said there are instances of fraud in every election, such as double votes and ballot harvesting.

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Ameren Delivery Rates to Drop

Ameren Illinois recently received approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission to reduce electricity delivery rates to take effect January 1. The utility says there will be an approximate $48.7-million overall reduction in revenue, which represents the third consecutive rate decrease for Ameren Illinois customers. Utility spokesman Marcelyn Love says this is thanks at least in part to the Smart Grid upgrades.

 

 

Under the plan approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission, the typical Ameren Illinois residential customer will save approximately $12 per year on the delivery portion of their electric bill.

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DeWitt/Piatt Coronavirus Testing Upate

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported 46 new coronavirus cases this week.

 

On Wednesday, DeWitt County had 6 new cases in Clinton, 4 in Farmer City, and 2 in Beason. Piatt County reported 5 in Monticello, 2 in Atwood, and one each for Cerro Gordo, Hammond, and White Heath.

 

Thursday DeWitt County added 10 in Clinton, 4 in Farmer City, and one case in Wapella. Piatt County saw 3 new cases in Monticello, 2 in Mansfield, and one each in Bement, Cerro Gordo, Hammond, and White Heath.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 779 cases; Piatt County has had a total of 922 cases. 

 

The health department estimates there are 99 active cases in DeWitt County and 95 in Piatt County. They remind that active cases are a misnomer as there may be others who have the disease and have never been tested.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Friday that Champaign and Piatt Counties are the only two counties in the state that are not on the warning list for COVID-19.

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Brush Pick-Up, Leaf Pick-Up Done for Season

Leaf clean up with the vacs that make their way around the City of Clinton has concluded for 2020.

 

Commissioner of Streets and Public Improvements for the Clinton City Council, Ken Buchanan indicated this year was quite a year for the number of leaves not only cleaned up by city crews but those that took leaves to the yard waste facility.

 

 

If residents have leaves to be taken in future weeks ahead, they are to be large, paper bags at the curb. Additionally, the brush pick up for this year has concluded as well and that will resume in March. 

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DeWitt County Friendship Center Receives 60 Half-Hams for Area Seniors From Kirby Foods Employees

Employees of Kirby Foods in Clinton have donated 60 half-hams to area seniors this holiday season. 

 

Executive Director of the DeWitt County Friendship Center, Paula Jiles told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Friday the employees collected money to donate the hams to seniors of the community.

 

 

Seniors can enter their names into the drawing by calling the Friendship Center at 217-935-9411. 

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Clinton Chamber of Commerce Preparing for an Uncertain 2021

As we get ready to turn the calendar to 2021, non-profits across central Illinois will be preparing for uncertainty into the new year as so many lost yearly fundraisers that they rely on so heavily.

 

Among them is the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director Marian Brisard indicates they have been fortunate to receive a great deal of support from area businesses but they will also be faced with a lot of uncertainty in the year ahead.

 

 

Brisard indicates their board recently has experienced some turnover as this is the time of the year for board members that have served their terms to step down and new members to step in. She says this new board will have some challenges to work through in the year ahead. 

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National Weather Service Provides Update on Drought

This weekend is expected to start wet and become dry once again as we head to the new work week.

Central Illinois is facing a very dry start to 2021 and Chris Miller at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates things are not going to get any better in December and maybe even beyond. 

 

 

weather.gov/lincoln has a plethora of information about the latest in drought conditions and the National Weather Service recently released their fall recap with details about rain and temperatures for central Illinois. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

Things are about to get really wet in central Illinois. 

 

One to two inches of rain is expected Friday night followed by more seasonable temperatures into next week. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...

 

 

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The Vault Pushing Forward In Limited Capacity Serving Community Youth

The new COVID restrictions in Illinois are forcing a local youth organization to readjust how they are serving the community.

 

The Vault in Clinton is offering as many programs as possible under the new guidance to continue to meet the needs of the community. Executive Director Tammy Wilson on the WHOW Morning Show told Regional Radio News they are continuing to offer tutoring for kids, something much needed right now as the district is in remote learning.

 

 

According to Wilson, students are struggling with e-learning because of the distractions that come with having to do an entire day of school at home. She notes they are doing their best to make help available to them.

 

 

Wilson adds they are struggling to keep mentors in the building due to COVID challenges they face. The organization says they are trying to find ways to make themselves available to the kids but there are a lot of challenges.

 

 

Get more information about The Vault in Clinton by visiting thevaultclinton.org or by calling 217-934-4003. 

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Mahomet-Seymour Schools Planning to Analyze Future of Facilities in 2021

Looking beyond the pandemic and taking a deep dive into the status of its facilities is the goal of a Champaign County school district as we enter 2021.

 

With aging facilities and a growing student body, Mahomet-Seymour Schools are looking ahead to 2021 when they plan to start engaging their community about its facilities. Dr. Lindsey Hall indicates the Board of Education hopes to have a plan for their facilities spanning 10-to-20 years.

 

 

According to Dr. Hall, the wheels are turning on putting together a community team to make this happen. She wants to hear from the taxpayers on what they believe the needs of the district are.

 

 

For the community group leading this effort, Dr. Hall indicates they will start with some education on the state of their facilities and progress the conversation forward. With several challenges they foresee, there will be a lot to consider for their community. 

 

 

Considering the financial picture will be a very significant component to the discussion and Dr. Hall anticipates a referendum coming forward around 2022 but they will have to do a thorough evaluation of the impacts of such a referendum on their finances. 

 

 

Dr. Hall indicates their junior high school is out of space and they have more students in it than they ever have. Additionally, it is an older facility and does not support 21st-century learning. She looks forward to what 2021 will bring for their discussion about the future of their facilities. 

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Benefit Verification Letters Now Easier To Access Through Social Security

If you are told you need a Benefits Verification letter for a loan or assistance program application, Social Security indicates those are now easier to get access to.

 

According to Jack Myers with Social Security, there are many different names a Benefits Verification letter may be given. He adds there are also many different scenarios a person might need one of these for.

 

 

There are several different ways a person can access their benefits verification letter. Myers says calling the '800-number' for Social Security is a common one for the public but also they are available at ssa.gov/myaccount, and an electronic version can be accessed.

 

 

Myers points out, Social Security has taken steps to standardize the benefit verification so individuals receive those in the same type of letter no matter how it's been requested. Additionally, individuals can request a letter showing they don't receive benefits. 

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Governor, IDPH Director Say Post-Thanksgiving Surge Still Possible

THERE'S BEEN RECENT IMPROVEMENT IN THE COVID-19 NUMBERS COMPARED TO LAST MONTH'S SPIKE, BUT STATE OFFICIALS WARN ILLINOIS COULD STILL SEE A POST-THANKSGIVING SURGE. 

 

ALTHOUGH THERE'S HASN'T BEEN A HUGE INCREASE IN NEW CASES OVER THE PAST WEEK, GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS IT'S TOO EARLY TO TELL IF THANKSGIVING GET TOGETHERS CAUSED A SIGNIFICANT UPTICK IN HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR STRESSES THAT ANY PROGRESS IS VERY PRELIMINARY AND URGES FAMILIES NOT TO UNDO ALL THIS HARD WORK BY HOLDING LARGE HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS. STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS THERE IS STILL A LONG ROAD AHEAD.

 

 

OFFICIALS ALSO STRESS THAT ALTHOUGH HOSPITALIZATION NUMBERS HAVE BEEN FALLING SLIGHTLY SINCE THE PEAK IN MID-NOVEMBER, MORE COVID PATIENTS ARE CURRENTLY IN THE HOSPITAL THAN LAST SPRING.

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Early Childhood Education Commissioner Previews Ideas

A SPECIAL COMMISSION ON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IS LOOKING INTO WAYS TO IMPROVE THE CARE AND TEACHING OF ILLINOIS' YOUNGEST POPULATION. 

 

THE COMMISSION HASN'T ISSUED A FINAL REPORT YET, BUT MEMBERS DISCUSSED SOME OF THEIR IDEAS AT A SENATE HEARING. RECOMMENDATIONS INCLUDE MORE EQUITABLE FUNDING OF PRE-SCHOOL AND CHILD CARE PROGRAMS AND BETTER PAY FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS SAYS FIRST ASSISTANT DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF EDUCATION THERESA HAWLEY.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS ALSO INCLUDE CREATING A NEW STATE AGENCY DEDICATED TO CHILD CARE, HOME VISIT AND PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS SAYS COMMISSION MEMBER SHAUNA EJEH (eh'-jay).

 

 

COMMISSION MEMBERS ALSO STRESSED THE NEED TO PULL CHILD CARE, HOME VISIT AND PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF A NEW EARLY CHILDHOOD STATE AGENCY.

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Comptroller Offers Thoughts on Backlog of Bills

Right now the state of Illinois owes $7.8 billion dollars in backlogged bills. 

 

Those pending payments do not include $2.4 billion of short-term borrowing the state used to cover initial expenses when the pandemic blew a hole in revenue projections. Comptroller Susana Mendoza says 10 months ago the state was making good progress on paying down existing bills and then COVID-19 changed everything.

 

 

The state may own billions right now – but in June of 2017, Illinois’ backlog was twice what it is currently.

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Heritage Professional Offers Tips for Those Struggling During the Holidays

The holiday season can magnify the struggles of someone stressed or anxious and a local mental health professional has some ideas for those among us who need support.

 

Jessica Smiley with Heritage Behavioral Health Services says it is important to acknowledge the emotions we are experiencing and to not hide or mask them.

 

 

According to Smiley, reaching out to someone and placing reasonable expectations are a few things to consider for those who are struggling. Additionally, she stresses the importance of finding time for one's self.

 

 

Several triggers can cause stress and anxiety during the holidays. Many think of the loss of a loved one or during the pandemic, being away from relatives and friends as another but Smiley adds other things can trigger stress and anxiety, especially family and financial struggles.

 

 

Taking care of yourself is the most important thing during this holiday season and Smiley stresses to make that a priority. She again reminds individuals it OK to not be OK and to reach out to someone when you get to that point. 

 

We'll hear more from Smiley next week on Regional Radio News on how we can be supportive of these individuals during stressful times. 

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Illinois GOP Upset At Backlog of FOID Cards

Members of the Illinois House GOP are upset that the Illinois State Police continue to have an extended backlog of renewing FOID cards and concealed carry permits.

 

Republican Rep. CD Davidsmeyer says delays in the program are denying lawful gun owners the ability to buy ammunition during hunting season.

 

Davidsmeyer says if the ISP can’t keep up with renewals and issuing new licenses then the program needs to go away.

 

 

The ISP has said that FOID cards will be extended through the pandemic until they can catch up, but Davidsmeyer says retailers are hesitant to sell bullets or a gun with an expired card.

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Firearm Deer Harvest Totals Are In

HUNTERS HARVESTED MORE THAN 76 THOUSAND DEER DURING ILLINOIS' FIREARM HUNTING SEASON. 

 

THE SECOND HALF OF WHAT WAS A GREAT SEASON JUST WRAPPED UP THIS PAST WEEKEND SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON RACHEL TORBERT.

 

 

ILLINOIS COUNTIES WITH THE LARGEST HARVESTS THIS YEAR INCLUDE RANDOLPH, ADAMS, JACKSON, JEFFERSON AND PIKE. NEXT UP FOR HUNTERS: MUZZLELOADER-ONLY SEASON THIS WEEKEND.

 

 

GET ALL THE DETAILS AT: HUNT ILLINOIS DOT ORG.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Breaks Down Difference Between Isolation, Quarantine

Some confusion has come up recently regarding the difference between isolation and quarantine during the COVID pandemic.

 

Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Dave Remmert indicates isolation is the term they use for a close contact with someone with COVID and they isolate for 14 days.

 

 

For those who need to isolate, the 14-day period starts two days prior to symptoms starting. Remmert says if you get tested, the countdown begins the day you test.

 

 

With quarantine times being adjusted in the last week by the CDC, Remmert indicates the State of Illinois will soon be updating its policy on isolation and quarantine in accordance with the CDC guidance.

 

 

DeWitt County added 23 new cases of COVID Monday and Tuesday of this week while Piatt County added 11. With these additional cases, DeWitt County now has had a total of 752 cases with Piatt County has had a total of 903 cases.

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Clinton Authorities Remain Concerned Over Domestic Violence, Abuse Towards Children

With 'tier 3' mitigations in place and kids back to school for nearly a semester, local authorities are indicating they remain concerned about any situations involving domestic violence and child neglect.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates they are not seeing any additional or unusually high number of issues surrounding domestic violence or child abuse however, he remains concerned these things are going on and are not public due to continued mitigation efforts surrounding COVID.

 

 

If you know someone who may be in a situation where there is abuse taking place, the Chief is imploring you to reach out to that person. He says in a highly stressful season, it is the stress many experience that will lead to violence.

 

 

Specifically addressing children, Chief Lowers is especially concerned about the nutrition of our community's youth. He points out without the regularity of the school meals, many kids may not be getting the nutrition they need right now.

 

 

Local domestic violence workers in DeWitt County have indicated they saw a tremendous spike in abuse cases when stay at home orders eased in the early summer. 

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University of Illinois Extension Educator Offers Tips for Holiday Feasts

The Christmas season is the time of year for enjoying those treats that come around only once a year and as we likely get set to enjoy those without the company of friends and family, a University of Illinois Extension nutrition educator says this is a good year to try to find some healthy alternatives to some of those ingredients.

 

Caitlin Mellendorf with the University of Illinois Extension indicates sweet treats like cakes or muffins offer an opportunity to swap out some traditional ingredients and add a hint of healthy flavor.

 

 

For health-conscious eaters, Mellendorf says the idea of 'mindful eating' is becoming more popular. The theory is to let your body talk to you about your hunger habits and waiting to eat until you are hungry.

 

 

'Mindful eating' may sound unconventional even ridiculous, Mellendorf says it is a good practice to slow the amount of food you consume and enjoy it more.

 

 

Mellendorf provides healthy recipes at go.illinois.edu/healtheatsrepeat. We'll hear more from her on Regional Radio News still this month on healthy habits for the holidays.

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November Was Dry, Warm

Looking back on November, things were dry and a little warm.

 

Temperatures were three to five degrees above normal with only a few areas of the state receiving much-needed rain but other than that, it remained dry says Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

 

 

As we look back at the fall as a whole, Miller indicates it was more of the same with below normal rainfall. He says much-needed rain to recharge the soil and fill the wells and aquifers just did not happen. 

 

 

As for temperatures, things look normal for the fall months but according to Miller, it wasn't normal at all thanks to extremes in temperature swings, most notably some days temperatures would be in the 50s or 60s but then overnight temperatures would drop below freezing.

 

 

The first hard-freeze was later than normal and Miller points out, there was no measurable snowfall in November, which is unusual as we average around two-inches of snow for November. 

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Two Illinois GOP Lawmakers Propose Giving Voters Power to Remove Elected Officials from Office

A NEW PROPOSAL TO GIVE VOTERS MORE POWER TO REMOVE CORRUPT PUBLIC OFFICIALS IS IN THE WORKS. 

 

SENATOR JASON BARICKMAN OF BLOOMINGTON IS INTRODUCING THREE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS THAT CREATE A PROCESS FOR RECALLING ELECTED OFFICIALS STATEWIDE, AS WELL AS THE ILLINOIS AUDITOR GENERAL, HOUSE SPEAKER AND SENATE PRESIDENT. HE SAYS THE PUBLIC IS CLAMORING FOR THE CHANGE.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE MARK BATINICK OF PLAINFIELD SAYS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS BEING DRAFTED CREATE A PROCESS TO RECALL ELECTED OFFICIALS STATEWIDE, THE AUDITOR GENERAL, SENATE PRESIDENT AND HOUSE SPEAKER.

 

 

THE AMENDMENTS ARE STILL BEING DRAFTED BUT WILL REQUIRE SIGNATURES FROM A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE OF VOTERS TO RECALL AN OFFICIAL.

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COVID Vaccines Anticipated Next Week

Once enough COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Illinois to begin to vaccinate more than just health care workers and long-term care facility residents what will the distribution look like?

 

The Governor says each county is working on a distribution plan and Dr. Ngozi Ezike says once mass vaccinations are possible it will take a community-wide

effort to get the job done.

 

 

 

The state says the first vaccinations are still more than a week away from happening.

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Ag Meteorologist Does Not Expect Much Wintry Weather in December

Precipitation may become a bit more frequent as December rolls on, but Freese-Notis agriculture meteorologist Dan Hicks doesn’t foresee a real active weather pattern in the weeks ahead.

 

 

Mild Pacific air will be the key ingredient impacting Illinois this week with temps reaching into the 50’s Wednesday and Thursday in most parts of the state.

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Recently Appointed DeWitt County Board Chair Discusses New Board

Monday evening, the newest edition of the DeWitt County Board was sworn in and a new board chair was selected.

 

Terry Ferguson has many years of experience on the DeWitt County Board and was selected by his peers as the newest leader of this board which features four new members. Ferguson says the new board is going to be very diverse.

 

 

Many in the community see a lot of change on the board in a short period of time as a similar situation in 2012 when much of the local government structure was dismantled. Ferguson doesn't see the desire to undo what is in place with committees. 

 

 

'One issue candidates' are how many view the new board members seeking to undo decisions of the past board. According to Ferguson, he does not know how that will play out.

 

 

As far as what is ahead non-wind related, Ferguson is focused on maintaining the financial stability of the County. Even though COVID, he points out they have been able to retain all their services and staff.

 

 

Ferguson also points to the marina as an area that has some big decisions that need to be made in the future. He says there are a lot of issues out there that need to be addressed. 

 

 

Monday night, Ferguson was appointed as the new Board Chair. Melonie Tilley was appointed vice-chair and also named Chair of the Finance Committee.

 

Ferguson will serve as the Land Use committee chairperson. Travis Houser is the new Road and Bridge committee chairperson, Dan Matthews will be the Marina committee chairperson, Nate Ennis will serve as the Public Safety Committee chair and David Newberg will chair the Property committee. 

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DeWitt/Piatt Health Department Director Encouraged by Post-Thanksgiving Trends

There's a lot of good news out of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department this week.

 

Executive Director Dave Remmert tells Regional Radio News they are seeing the anticipated post-Thanksgiving spike of COVID to not be as significant as perhaps thought and notices COVID cases leveling off in DeWitt County.

 

 

With COVID cases leveling out, Remmert indicates that is allowing their contact tracers the ability to finally be caught up. Around an additional dozen staffers have been added for contact tracing purposes.

 

 

As things trend in the right direction, Remmert implores the community not to let up in the things they are doing. He says with the holidays here and the temptation to get together with lots of family and friends, we need to remain disciplined.

 

 

Yesterday, the Health Department released updated COVID data. DeWitt County added 20 COVID cases between Friday and Sunday while Piatt County added 33.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 729 cases; Piatt County has had a total of 892 cases.

 

The Health Department hosted a mobile testing unit at their Monticello office on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and processed 115 tests.

 

Additionally, they are waiting on guidance from IDPH about reducing quarantine requirements in accordance with CDC changes. The CDC continues to recommend a quarantine period of 14 days, however, changes may be forthcoming as data evolves.

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Clinton City Council Approves Annual Levy

The Clinton City Council approved the annual levy Monday night at their regular meeting.

 

Last month on the WHOW Morning Show, City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter indicated an expiring TIF district on the west side of the community provided an infusion of cash available to taxing bodies. 

 

 

An annual positive report out of the levy is the well-funded police and fire pensions. Lichtenwalter indicates in recent years, they have made a focused effort to get those stabilized and they are currently the better-funded pensions in the State of Illinois. 

 

 

Lichtenwalter reminds residents of the decision last year to shift funds from the hospital to the pension funds which will help them in their goal to achieve 100-percent funded pensions. He notes that was possible thanks to the financial success of the hospital in the last five years.

 

Clinton Commissioner of Finance Tom Edmunds says the fact Clinton is doing better than almost every community in the State of Illinois is something to be proud of.

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Mahomet-Seymour Schools Offering COVID Testing to Teachers, Student Testing Will Be Available in Second Semester

A Champaign school district is making COVID testing available to its staff and plans to make it available to students in the second semester.

 

Superintendent of the Mahomet-Seymour District, Dr. Lindsey Hall told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Monday they are partnering with Carle Hospital to make this happen. Voluntary testing of staff begins this week.

 

 

According to Dr. Hall, having test results in a timely fashion is going to be very important for the district. She explains having those results quickly will enable them to continue to remain in-person for the time being.

 

 

The other component of rapid tests will be getting their students and teachers back to class sooner after a close contact situation or getting tested with symptoms. Dr. Hall says with the quarantine guidelines changing, that will also help. 

 

 

Testing will be available at the school and will be conducted through the school nurse. Dr. Hall says while it would have been nice to have access to testing like this much sooner, she is thankful to have it now and hopes it will allow them to remain in-person as the first semester comes to a close in a few weeks. 

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Keeping Meals Simple This Holiday Season

With this to be a Christmas to remember, the St. Louis District Dairy Council is encouraged to keep the holiday meals simple.

 

Monica Nyman, senior nutrition educator and registered dietitian with the St. Louis District Dairy Council, indicates the holiday season is stressful for many, this one bringing additional stress. She says keeping meals simple can help to reduce stress.

 

 

Nyman encourages you to stick to tried and true recipes this year instead of trying something new. She notes there is no specific menu that has to be served on any given holiday, so pick a few dishes that your family enjoys.

 

 

Nyman says to get the most out of the holidays, be sure to prepare enough food so you have plenty of leftovers. Leftovers can help to reduce the stress of meal preparation.

 

 

For recipes and tips on staying home during the holidays, visit stldairycouncil.org, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

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IDPH Director Says Too Early To Say Thanksgiving COVID Spike Did Not Happen

As new cases of COVID in Illinois hold steady, is it a sign that a spike didn’t happen because of the Thanksgiving holiday?

 

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says tracking the data - she figures the holiday for many ended with traveling back home on November 29th. For her it means it is just a little too soon to draw conclusions about the spread of the virus at holiday gatherings.

 

 

Statewide cases are trending lower – averaging less than 10,000 new positives a day over the last five days.

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Gov. Pritzker Calls Next 4 Weeks 'Crucial' in Battle Against COVID

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS WILL BE CRUCIAL IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19. 

 

WITH HANUKAH, CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’S COMING UP IT’S VITAL THAT EVERYONE CONTINUE TO WEAR A MASK AND NOT GET TOGETHER WITH BIG GROUPS OF PEOPLE SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER. HE NOTES THAT WITH THREE OUT OF FOUR STAFFED HOSPITAL BEDS CURRENTLY IN USE STATEWIDE, HOSPITALS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO HANDLE ANOTHER SURGE.

 

 

SOME NUMBERS HAVE BEEN IMPROVING BUT ARE STILL WAY TOO HIGH SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS WITH MORE HOLIDAYS COMING UP, IT’S MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER TO WEAR A MASK AND SOCIALLY DISTANCE BECAUSE HOSPITALS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO HANDLE ANOTHER SURGE IN CASES.

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DeWitt County Board to Realign Tonight

The newest edition of the DeWitt County Board will be sworn in tonight and a reshuffling of leadership will be voted.

 

The Board welcomes Jamie Prestegaard, Aaron Kammeyer, Megan Myers and Buck Carter. 

 

The Board is likely to decide on new leadership, as current Chairperson David Newberg indicated to Regional Radio News he was unlikely to retain his post. Vice-Chair Camille Redman did not get re-elected and new Committee assignments will be made tonight.

 

Redman, Lance Reece, Scott Nimmo, and Cole Ritter were voted off the Board in the Nov. 3 general election.

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CCEF Classroom Grants

The Clinton Community Education Foundation is once again assisting teachers with classroom grants.

 

Russell Long with CCEF indicates teachers can now apply for classroom grants that they will award in the spring. Long encourages any teacher who doesn't have the funds to add something new to their classroom to apply.

 

 

The maximum amount awarded to an individual classroom is $1,000. Long says the number of grants they award annually is determined by the success of their annual fundraisers.

 

 

Classroom grant applications are due January 14, 2021. More information and the application can be found online at https://ccef15.org/classroom-grants.

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Dry, Mild Weather Expected This Week

For the first full week of December, it sure won't have the feel of Christmas in central Illinois.

 

A sunny and mild week is ahead, trending with the conclusion of last week. Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates temperatures will be in the 40s and there will be an abundance of sunshine.

 

 

Warm and dry air is lingering over parts of the Midwest and Miller points out this often means storms that roll in are skipping either way north or south, leaving central Illinois in a continued dry pattern.

 

 

La Nina continues to strengthen and Miller notes this type of weather pattern we are experiencing is very much in line with a La Nina trend. Another driving force in these dry and mild conditions is the drought, which he points out can often 'feed-off' itself. 

 

 

According to Miller, if you're hoping for a white Christmas, that too is looking unlikely as warm and dry conditions are looking to persist into the first of the year. He notes though, hope is not all lost as there is always the possibility of an isolated snowfall. 

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Dudley Smith Farm Winter Meeting To Be Held Virtually

The Dudley Smith Initiative, according to University of Illinois Extension Energy and Environmental Stewardship Educator Dr. Ashley Belle is a farm in Christian County that’s used for agriculture research.    

 

 

Through the Dudley Smith Initiative there are two different public events that are held each year, according to Dr. Belle.

 

 

Because of COVID-19 they will be holding the Dudley Smith Farm Winter Meeting virtually on Tuesday, February 9th on Zoom from 10am until 3pm.

 

 

Dr. Belle went on to say that the Dudley Smith Farm Winter Meeting will cover a variety of different topics of interest to the farming community.

 

 

For more information, visit dsi.aces.illinois.edu. 

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IFB Virtual Meeting Recap

Illinois Farm Bureau members meet virtually over the weekend to set policy. The organization’s Mark Gebhards says delegates approved several resolutions dealing with a myriad of issues.

 

 

Other resolutions passed took up crop protections and good stewardship along with creating a livestock working group that will be charged with looking at pricing and transparency issues. Saturday marked the 106th annual business meeting for IFB, done virtually this year.

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Drivers License Facilities Closed Until Jan. 4

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE'S OFFICE IS CLOSING DRIVER SERVICES FACILITIES FOR ANOTHER MONTH DUE TO THE PANDEMIC.

 

THE FACILITIES WILL BE CLOSED FOR MOST IN-PERSON TRANSACTIONS THROUGH JANUARY FOURTH. IN THE MEANTIME, SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT REMINDS THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF ONLINE.

 

 

HAUPT NOTES THERE ARE A FEW EXCEPTIONS.

 

 

HAUPT SAYS SOME FACILITIES WILL BE OPEN JUST FOR NEW DRIVERS TO GET A LICENSE AND FOR C-D-L APPLICATIONS. VISIT CYBER DRIVE ILLINOIS DOT COM TO SEE THERE IS ONE OPEN NEAR YOU.

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State Fire Marshall's Office Urging Safety With Holiday Decorations

THE ILLINOIS STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE IS URGING SAFETY WHEN IT COMES TO PUTTING UP HOLIDAY DECORATIONS. 

 

THE FIRST CONCERN IS LIGHTS. FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ HAS THIS ADVICE:

 

 

FULTZ SAYS CHRISTMAS TREES CAN BE ANOTHER HAZARD.

 

 

ADDITIONALLY, FULTZ SAYS LIGHTS SHOULD BE CHECKED FOR ANY WORN OR BROKEN CORDS AND FOR HOW MANY CAN BE STRUNG TOGETHER AT ONCE.

 

CANDLES ARE ANOTHER HAZARD AND SHOULD BE KEPT AWAY FROM ANYTHING POTENTIALLY FLAMMABLE. MORE THAN HALF OF HOME DECORATION FIRES IN DECEMBER ARE CAUSED BY CANDLES.

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BBB Offers Holiday Shopping Tips

Christmas is just a few weeks away and you may be searching for the perfect gift. Many will take their search online hoping to find the best deals, while others will opt for a gift card. Better Business Bureau investigator Don O’Brien says you really need to do your research no matter which way you turn.

 

He says you should watch out for the deals that are "too good to pass up."

 

 

O’Brien says when buying gifts, it’s important to obtain and keep receipts for all purchases in case the recipient needs to return an item. Many stores will provide gift receipts upon request, which allow returns but don’t show the recipient how much you paid for an item.

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DeWitt/Piatt Coronavirus Numbers

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported over 35 additional coronavirus cases this week.

 

On Wednesday, DeWitt County had 11 cases with 4 in Wapella, 3 each in Clinton and Farmer City, and one in Waynesville. Piatt County added 8 cases with 3 in Monticello, 2 in Bement, and one each in Hammond, La Place, and Mansfield.

 

Thursday DeWitt County reported 9 cases with 3 in Farmer City, 2 each in Clinton and Waynesville, and one case each in Kenney and Weldon. Piatt County reported 8 cases with 5 in Monticello, and one in Unity, Cerro Gordo, and Atwood.

 

DeWitt County has had a total of 709 cases and Piatt County has had a total of 858 cases.

 

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reminds that the CDC currently recommends a quarantine period of 14 days.

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ICC Puts Moratorium on Electric, Gas Utilities and Other Disconnections Through Winter

STRUGGLIG TO PAY YOUR UTLITY BILLS? SOME ILLIOIS GAS, ELECTRIC AND WATER COMPANIES ARE COMMITING TO HELP CUSTOMERS THROUGH THE WINTER. 

 

AS THE SECOND WAVE OF THE PANDEMIC SWEEPS ACROSS THE STATE, MANY ARE STILL HAVING A TOUGH TIME FINANCIALLY. ILLINOIS COMMERCE COMMISSION CHAIRMAN CARRIE ZALWESKI SAYS UTILITIES ARE OFFERING OPTIONS TO QUALIFYING CUSTOMERS, BUT YOU NEED TO ASK.

 

 

FUNDS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE TO HELP PAY PAST DUE BILLS, OR YOU CAN REQUEST THAT YOUR PAYMENTS BE DEFFERED. 

 

 

SOME OF THESE OPTIONS HAVE A DEADLINE...MOST IN LATE DECEMBER... SO THE I-C-C URGES PEOPLE TO CALL THEIR UTLITY NOW.

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Illinois Voter Turnout Nearly 75-Percent

VOTER TURNOUT FOR THE NOVEMBER ELECTION IN ILLNOIS REACHED NEARLY 73 PERCENT. 

 

THAT'S THE HIGHEST TURNOUT FOR A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SINCE 1992 AND REMARKABLE SINCE IT WAS HELD IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC SAYS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS SPOKESPERSON MATT DIETRICH.

 

 

DIETRICH SAYS VOTERS TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE DIFFERENT OPTIONS THEY HAD FOR CASTING A BALLOT.

 

 

DIETRICH SAYS MAIL-IN VOTING GOT A HUGE BOOST DUE TO THE PANDEMIC AND OUTREACH EFFORTS TO PROVIDE VOTERS WITH A SAFER OPTION THAN VOTING IN PERSON. THE 33 PERCENT OF VOTES CAST BY MAIL EASILY BEATS THE PAST MAIL-IN RECORD OF JUST OVER NINE PERCENT SET IN 2018.

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State Police Announces 48-Percent Reduction in State's DNA Backlog

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE SAYS THEY’VE BEEN ABLE TO CUT THE STATE’S D-N-A BACKLOG BY NEARLY HALF. 

 

SINCE MARCH OF 2019, THE I-S-P HAS SEEN A 48 PERCENT DROP IN THE NUMBER OF D-N-A SAMPLES THAT ARE WAITING TO BE PROCESSED. DIRECTOR BRENDAN KELLY SAYS THIS IS DUE TO IMPROVED TECHNOLOGIES, THE USE OF ROBOTICS AND AN AGGRESSIVE HIRING EFFORT.

 

 

KELLY SAYS THEY HAVE ALSO IMPLEMENTED A NEW SYSTEM TO SEE WHICH CASES NEED IMMEDIATE ATTENTION AND WHICH MAY NO LONGER NEED TESTING.

 

 

KELLY SAYS ARE ALSO WORKING TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND STATE’S ATTORNEYS TO SEE WHICH CASES NEED IMMEDIATE ATTENTION AND WHICH NO LONGER NEED TO BE PROCESSED. I-S-P LABS ARE ALSO USING ROBOTICS TO HELP IMPROVE THE TURNAROUND TIME IN D-N-A ANALYSIS.

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Weekly Weather Summary

A mild, sunny week is going to usher in a mild, sunny weekend which will usher in a mild, sunny week ahead. State climatologist Trent Ford has the details....

 

 

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Local Teacher Sorrority Focused on Serving Communities Through COVID

The Alpha Delta Kappa teacher sorority local chapter in DeWitt and Logan Counties are keeping their focus on serving the communities despite the global pandemic.

 

According to the chapter's Kim Gaff, they have an excellent core of people helping them make it through this time and not missing a beat. With young people arranging virtual meetings to teachers continuing to focus on community service, she notes things are going well despite the circumstances.

 

 

Like almost every non-profit, community-oriented group in Illinois, fundraising has been the most impacted by COVID this year. 

 

 

Gaff indicates as the scholarship season approaches, seniors in high school in their two-county area should on the lookout for information on this year's scholarship opportunities.

 

To learn more about the DeWitt and Logan chapter, you can also find them on Facebook. 

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Community Food Basket Program Extends Deadline for Registrations

For many years, a group of community-minded people in DeWitt County have come together to provide meals for those in need during the Christmas season.

 

The need is anticipated to be much greater this year and with that in mind, Tina Baxter indicates those wishing to get registered for meals have more time to do so. By extending the deadline for registrations, they also are extending the deadline for monetary donations to help the program. 

 

 

Meals provided to a family are often non-perishable and provides enough for families of all sizes to last a few weeks. 

 

To get signed up for the food basket program, you can call 217-871-2190 and provide a name, phone number, address, and the number of people in the household. To provide monetary donations for the program, you can drop any amount off at the American Legion at 219 North Elizabeth Street in Clinton and make sure to note it is for the Christmas food basket program. 

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Clinton Community Education Foundation Navigating Through COVID With No Plans to Scale Back Giving

An unaffiliated supporting branch of Clinton Schools is navigating the COVID pandemic with limited ability to fundraise and even meet, but that isn't slowing down their plans for the year ahead.

 

Russell Long with the Clinton Community Education Foundation indicates they are like many other groups in Clinton, DeWitt County, and central Illinois in that their fundraising efforts have taken a major hit this year.

 

 

When asked if the CCEF would have to scale back with the losses of revenue-generating events like their 'Derby Day', Long said, quote - "absolutely not." He says now is the time when the schools, the teachers, and the kids need them and they have no plans to cut their giving.

 

 

Heading into December, Clinton teachers should be on the lookout for information coming their way regarding the CCEF's annual teacher grants and seniors should be on the lookout for information about their annual scholarships. 

 

Long points anyone with questions about the CCEF, their teacher grants, and their scholarship opportunities to their website, ccef15.org. The CCEF is also on Facebook and Twitter. 

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Central A&M Schools Continue to Press On

Coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday, central Illinois school leaders continue to forge ahead in various ways keeping kids learning and engaged.

 

Nearly every district has been impacted by COVID in some fashion, and local leaders are all doing what is best for their students, families, teachers, and staff. Thankful for the local control provided by the State of Illinois during this pandemic, Central A&M Superintendent Dr. DeAnn Heck says that she really didn’t know what to expect coming into the school year.   

 

 

Dr. Heck calls it has a great semester under the worst possible circumstances and that the parents and teachers have really stepped up to make it so.

 

 

Having to adjust on the fly has not allowed school leaders to look ahead too far through the calendar and according to Dr. Heck, one of the biggest challenges her district has faced is the unknown.

 

 

The most veteran of school leaders and Dr. Heck would certainly be among those, have described this year as the most challenging. Administrators, teachers, students, and families have been asked to things of an extraordinary nature and she points out some are becoming exhausted.

 

 

Many have anticipated the Governor to step in and shut schools down but to this point, he has remained steadfast local districts will be able to continue to make their own decisions. 

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Social Security Announces Cost of Living Adjustments for 2021

The new cost of living adjustments, or COLA, is out for 2021 and nearly 70-million Americans will be receiving a 1.3-percent increase in their Social Security benefits.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday indicates these increases are measured by the Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index increase in federal benefits for cost-of-living.

 

 

According to Myers, when the Social Security cost of living adjustment is announced, people often wonder about the Medicare Part B premiums since it is deducted from the Social Security payment. He points out Medicare Part B also recently announced its standard premiums for '21.

 

 

Notices have gone out about this year's cost of living adjustments. According to Myers, you do not need to contact Social Security to claim your increase, this is something that takes place automatically.

 

 

socialsecurity.gov is where you can find more information about this year's cost of living adjustment and visit your 'My Social Security' account to find the electronic notice of this year's adjustment. 

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Congressman Davis Weighs In On President Trump's Challenge of November Election

Time is running out for President Donald Trump and his legal team to provide significant evidence to the court system of voter fraud that could overturn the results of the election.

 

According to Congressman Rodney Davis, if the President has evidence of widespread fraud, they need to be presenting it to the courts but questions if there will be enough evidence for him to prevail. 

 

 

While the President lost his re-election bid, Congressman Davis says the country spoke that they want Republicans in Congress. While many right-wing pundits say it is too coincidental there were widespread victories for Republicans in Congress but President Trump lost, he doesn't see it that way.

 

 

There are still races that are being tabulated in parts of the country while recounts have already taken place and concluded. Congressman Davis indicates the Federal Government needs to point out the inadequacies in these processes and ask local election officials in states like New York and California to be better. 

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Red Cross Continues to Seek Blood Donations

The Red Cross needs your donations - your blood donations.

 

The Red Cross is now testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies and Red Cross CEO of Chicago and Northern Illinois, Celena Roldan says that will help identify individuals that can give plasma for possible coronavirus treatments.

 

 

The Red Cross says all donations need to be scheduled to keep proper social distancing during donation and their blood centers are fully equipped to safely conduct donations.

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Resolutions Process Big Part of Illinois Farm Bureau Virtual Meeting This Weekend

Illinois Farm Bureau readying for a virtual annual meeting this weekend. The organization’s Mark Gebhards says plenty of work has been done as part of the resolutions process.

 

 

The virtual business meeting is set for Saturday.

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Gov. Pritzker Concerned About Superspreader Event

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HE’S DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT A POTENTIAL SUPER-SPREADER EVENT THAT TOOK PLACE THIS WEEK.

 

A LARGE WEDDING WAS HELD AT A HILTON HOTEL IN SUBURBAN NORTHBROOK WEDNESDAY. PHOTOS SHOWED MANY OF THE TWO TO THREE HUNDRED GUESTS NOT WEARING A MASK AND NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING. THE GOVERNOR RESPONDS.

 

 

THE COOK COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT IS INVESTIGATING.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER URGES GUESTS TO QUARANTINE AND GET TESTED FOR COVID. THE COOK COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT IS INVESTIGATING THE EVENT.

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Dr. Ezike Clarifies New CDC Guidelines

THE STATE’S PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR IS CLARIFYING NEW C-D-C GUIDELINES FOR THOSE EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WITH COVID-19.

 

ORIGINALLY, THE C-D-C SAID YOU SHOULD QUARANTINE FOR 14 DAYS AFTER POSSIBLE EXPOSURE. ILLINOIS PUBLIC HEALTH CHIEF DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS THAT’S BEEN REDUCED TO 10 DAYS IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS.

 

 

EZIKE SAYS YOU CAN REDUCE THE ISOLATION TIME TO SEVEN DAYS IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS AND ALSO TEST NEGATIVE FOR THE VIRUS LATER IN THAT WEEK.

 

 

EZIKE REMINDS THAT YOU MUST STAY IN QUARANTINE UNTIL YOU GET YOUR TEST RESULTS BACK.

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DeWitt County Adds 31 New Cases COVID Cases Since Sunday, Piatt County Adds 27

DeWitt County has added 31 news cases of COVID since Sunday while in Piatt County their case count is up 27.

 

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department released new data late Wednesday, indicating with these additional cases, DeWitt Co has had a total of 689 cases; Piatt Co has had a total of 842 cases.  

They estimate there are currently 240 active cases, 101 in DeWitt County and 139 in Piatt County.

 

However, the term "active" is a misnomer and represents only those who have received a confirmed positive test.  Many more cases may exist in the population who have not tested for the disease, both symptomatic and asymptomatic.

 

An additional death was reported over the weekend, a DeWitt Co resident in her 70s.  There has been 15 deaths total in DeWitt Co due to COVID-19, 5 deaths total in Piatt Co.

 

The health department reminds cases are spiking locally, statewide, and nationwide and continue to ask the public to refrain from attending events/parties/gatherings and to not host such gatherings. 

 

 Wash your hands frequently, Watch your distance (6 feet or more), and Wear a mask when in public. Additionally - protect the vulnerable population and get tested even when asymptomatic.

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Local Deer Hunt Numbers in Line With 2019 So Far

As the second firearm deer hunting season rolls in this weekend, DNR officials indicate local harvest numbers are close to last year's.

 

Deputy Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Rachel Torbert indicates deer harvest numbers in Illinois and locally are very similar to those of 2019 with plenty more time still in this hunting season.

 

 

DNR Conservation Police Captain John Williamson notes the first firearm weekend in southern Illinois was down and he points out a lot of times, the deer harvest totals are very much dependent on the weather situation.

 

 

According to Captain Williamson, they continue to deal with hunting without permission for hunters on private property. He implores hunters to get the permission of the landowners before they head out.

 

 

Torbert and Capt. Williamson reminds hunters they cannot use their archery tags during the shotgun weekends, however, you can still archery hunt but those archery tags cannot be used.

 

 

Get all the latest in regulations at illinois.dnr.gov. Torbert and Capt. Williamson is also reminding hunters to be safe, check tree stands before you go up in them, and let someone know where you'll be hunting and when you plan to return. 

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Second Firearm Season Opens Today

The second and final weekend of firearm deer hunting begins Thursday morning in Illinois. Good weather is anticipated just like the first weekend Nov. 20-22 says Illinois Conservation Police Captain Laura Petreikis.

 

 

The statewide deer harvest was down approximately 3,000 during the first weekend.

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More Calls for Madigan to Resign

Illinois Republicans are trying to do what they can to raise the heat on the embattled Speaker of the House.

 

Republican Deanne Mazzochi says a recent release of documents from the fed’s investigation of bribery at ComEd proves again that Mike Madigan needs to begin answering questions at a legislative committee that was convened to investigate his conduct connected to ComEd.

 

 

Mazzochi is one of three Republicans on the committee that includes three Democrats.

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Rep. Brady Discusses Latest COVID Mitigations

With Coronavirus cases on the rise and mitigations set forth to limit the spread, bars and restaurants are turning into "survival of the fittest," according to an Illinois lawmaker.

 

State Representative Dan Brady, who represents parts of McLean and Livingston County, says Tier 3 mitigations set forth by Gov. Pritzker are hurting small businesses, restaurants, and bars all across the state.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker's Tier 3 mitigations allow no indoor dining. During a Coronavirus press briefing on Monday, Gov. Pritzker said Tier 3 mitigations would remain in effect for a few more weeks at minimum.

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109,000 Illinoisans Now Expected to Get First COVID Vaccines

Now seems that 109,000 people in Illinois will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the first round of immunizations.

 

The state was told in the past day that the initial batch won’t have to be split to allow for the second shot that is needed. Governor JB Pritzker says that’s good news and it means more health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be able to be vaccinated quickly. And it won’t matter if you live in a big city or a rural area.

 

 

Those 109,000 doses of vaccines are expected to be in Illinois between December 13th and 19th.

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Blue Ridge Schools Opt for Remote Learning This Week, Target Return to In-Person Next Week

Earlier this week, Blue Ridge Schools decided to extend their remote learning through this week with the intention of returning to in-person learning next week.

 

Dr. Hilary Stanifer says they made the decision Monday and have every intention of bringing their kids back to in-person learning next week and hope to finish the semester in-person.

 

 

Coming off the Thanksgiving holiday, Dr. Stanifer is watching the COVID trends for any spikes in cases among their staff and students. She continues to point out the spread of the disease is not taking place in the school setting.

 

 

While watching those metrics, Dr. Stanifer is hoping to keep kids home this week will keep any further spread of the virus coming out of Thanksgiving limited. She recognizes the continued changes and flexibility they are asking of their families is not easy.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer says she and her peers in central Illinois are doing their very best to navigate this situation and is thankful the State of Illinois continues to give districts the flexibility to make the decisions best for them and their communities. 

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Wapella Fire Officials Respond to Two Fires Tuesday

Late Tuesday afternoon, Wapella Fire officials responded to two fires.

 

Assistant Fire Chief Jason Karr tells Regional Radio News the first fire happened shortly before 4 pm and was a house fire in the 400th block of North Chestnut that was involved in only part of the house but required several departments to respond for manpower.

 

 

Soon after the first fire was under control, a second call came in from a couple of blocks over. Karr indicates initially it was thought to be related to their first fire but they found out it was simply an issue with a basement water heater.

 

 

Karr says the cause of the fire on North Chestnut is under investigation with a cause undetermined at this time.

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Community Action Stepping Up to Help Provide Holiday Gifts for Kids in Need

As the need for assistance grows in rural America in wake of the COVID pandemic, a central Illinois group is stepping into the ring to provide the opportunity for holiday gifts for kids.

 

Alison Rumler-Gomez is the Executive Director for Community Action and indicates their program for this year titled 'Holiday Hearts for Kids' is providing a shopping experience for low-income households to be able to provide Christmas gifts for their little ones. She emphasizes they wanted to make sure this program would not intruding on other programs in their service areas.

 

 

According to Rumler-Gomez, like many other agencies that offer assistance to their community, they are seeing individuals and families seeking help that normally would not. Because of that their program is not requiring proof of income or anything they normally might.

 

 

Community Action is asking their communities to help provide this opportunity for those in need this holiday season. To donate, visit capcil.info/holidayheartsforkids.

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Piatt County Mental Health Seeing Increase in Anxiety, Depression in School-Aged Youth

Last year the Piatt County Mental Health Center coordinated with Piatt County schools to bring a counselor to each building for part of the week.

 

The counselor was shared by the districts and this year with COVID, their ability to meet with students has been challenging but Director of the Piatt County Mental Health Center, Tony Kirkman indicates a spike in anxiety and depression are being seen across the board in their youth.

 

 

As we enter more mitigations, albeit softer mitigations than the spring, Kirkman implores parents to just relax in navigating this time and focus on self-care. In this season of Thanksgiving, he says find things to be thankful for instead of dwelling on what we've lost. 

 

 

Get more information on the Piatt County Mental Health Center and the latest on their services and program by calling them at 217-762-5371 or find them online at piattmch.org or find them on Facebook. 

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Logan County Tax Amendment Proposal Would Provide Counselor, SRO For Mt. Pulaski Schools

A tax proposal in Logan County would help Mt. Pulaski Schools provide a school resource officer for improved student safety and a counselor to address mental and emotional health.

 

Superintendent Fred Lamkey indicates the Logan County Sheriff's Department is working with Mt. Pulaski Schools and others in Logan County to amend their sales tax language so those funds can be directed to a shared school resource officer as well as mental and emotional health staff.

 

 

According to Lamkey, a school resource officer would be a very valuable addition to their campus from helping staff in any matters they may be required to simply be a presence for security.

 

 

The mental and emotional tolls of COVID are beginning to become much more evident among youth and Lamkey indicates in Mt. Pulaski, they've been waiting for those repercussions to show up but thankfully they have not. However, he says a counselor to be there when they do arise is going to be necessary.

 

 

Logan County residents will take this up in the April election. Lamkey thanks the leaders of the Hartsburg-Emden district for taking the lead on this initiative and he looks forward to the educational efforts they will embark on in the months ahead. 

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Quiet Start to Winter Months

Meteorological winter has arrived with the calendar turning to Dec. 1. It will be a quiet start to the season other than some chilly northwest winds to begin the week says DTN chief agriculture meteorologist Bryce Anderson.

 

 

Anderson anticipates more stormy winter weather in late January into February and maybe even into March.

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High Risk Groups to Get First COVID Vaccines

The waiting continues for the first COVID-19 vaccines to be distributed in Illinois and around the country. And when they roll out over the next few weeks Governor JB Pritzker says high-risk groups will receive early access – but the numbers will be limited to begin with.

 

 

Pritzker says the FDA and the CDC are the government agencies setting the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Gov. Pritzker Urges Those Who Traveled For Thanksgiving to Get Tested for COVID

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS URGING THOSE WHO TRAVELED FOR THANKSGIVING TO GET TESTED FOR COVID-19. 

 

HEALTH EXPERTS ASKED EVERYONE TO STAY HOME THIS YEAR, BUT MANY STILL VISITED FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OVER THE THANKSGIVING WEEKEND. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THOSE PEOPLE NEED TO BE TESTED.

 

 

PRITZKER RECOMMENDS EVERYONE CONTINUE TO STAY HOME AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, ESPECIALLY WITH THE EXPECTED POST-THANKSGIVING SURGE IN CASES LOOMING. THAT APPLIES EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS ANYONE WITH SYMPTOMS SHOULD BE TESTED RIGHT AWAY.

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DCEO Reminds Grant Money Available for Businesses, Local Governments Through Two Different Programs

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY IS REMINDING BUSINESSES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS STRUGGLING DURING THE PANDEMIC THAT GRANT MONEY IS STILL AVAILABLE. 

 

FIRST THERE IS THE 270 MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION GRANT OR "BIG" PROGRAM, WHICH BUSINESSES CAN USE FOR THINGS LIKE RENT, UTILITIES AND P-P-E. D-C-E-O ASSISTANT DIRECTOR MICHAEL NEGRON SAYS 141 MILLION HAS BEEN AWARDED SO FAR.

 

 

THEN THERE IS LOCAL "CURE" PROGRAM WHICH REIMBURSES MUNICIPALITIES FOR PANDEMIC RELATED COSTS. NEGRON SAYS MANY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE YET TO APPLY. 

 

 

VISIT DCEO DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BOTH PROGRAMS.

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Congressman LaHood Hoping to Find Common Ground with Biden Administration

Putting political differences aside and finding common ground is one Central Illinois lawmaker's goal once the Biden Administration is sworn-in; however, that depends on what issues the new administration focuses on out of the gate. 

 

Recently re-elected to congress representing the 18th District, Congressman Darin LaHood says that if the Biden Administration focuses on transportation, COVID-relief, and immigration reform, issues could get passed on bipartisan support.

 

 

Ray LaHood, Darin's' father, served as the Transportation Secretary under the Obama Administration. Darin says he's talked with his father about President-elect Joe Biden and what the administration will bring to the table. Darin LaHood added that he thinks the Biden Administration will find common ground on a second COVID-19 relief package once sworn into office.

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New ALMH and LCPDH COVID Dashboards

Logan County residents now have two new online coronavirus resources.

 

Angela Stoltzenburg with the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital Community Health Collaborative indicates the Logan County Department of Public Health has updated its COVID dashboard on their website. Residents can now view the seven-day positivity rolling average of positive cases and the number of currently active cases.

 

 

In addition to the health department, ALMH also has a new COIVD dashboard. Stoltzenburg says you can see how many patients are currently hospitalized for COVID at ALMH and its affiliates.

 

 

The Logan County Department of Public Health's dashboard can be accessed by visiting lcdph.org and clicking on the coronavirus banner. The ALMH dashboard can be found at choosememorial.org/covid19.

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Tri-Valley Schools in Remote Learning This Week, Hoping to Return to In-Person Next Week

Coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday, Tri-Valley students are all participating in remote learning this week.

 

Superintendent Dr. David Mouser on the WHOW Morning Show Monday indicates COVID numbers in the County became too much and so they decided coming out of Thanksgiving, students would spend a week doing remote learning.

 

 

According to Dr. Mouser, with several school districts in McLean County that resemble Tri-Valley, he is in contact with those superintendents and others within their conference to see what they are doing and what is working well for them.

 

 

As the whole district goes remote for the first time, Dr. Mouser says things are going to be more structured and there will be lots of support for struggling students in place.

 

 

Dr. Mouser hopes about mid-week this week they will know more about if students will be back in the school building starting next Monday. He also points out, when their high school students come back, their building project will be complete and so they will get to see that for the first time. 

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Sen. Rose Offers Thoughts on Failed Income Tax Proposal, Veto Session

'A victory for truth' is how a central Illinois lawmaker describes the failed progressive income tax proposal from Governor JB Pritzker in early November.

 

State Senator Chapin Rose says you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time and was glad to see this proposal fall short.

 

 

The Mahomet Republican says Gov. Pritzker was in denial over the feelings of Illinoisans and credits middle-class residents for understanding what was happening.

 

 

According to Sen. Rose, Illinois Democrats have backed themselves into a corner with a veto session coming up. He believes they were banking on these reforms passing and at the very least a bailout coming from the federal government.

 

 

Raising taxes on Illinoisans doesn't seem like a good solution with Democrats having sizeable majorities of their district opposed to tax increases and now it appears the Governor is going to turn to borrow on a no-interest loan from the federal government.

 

 

According to the Senator, there is a "civil war" in the Illinois Democratic party, and believes lawmakers are not going back to Springfield until Speaker Mike Madigan gets his 60 votes. He believes everything happening right now is about the Speaker securing those 60 votes.

 

 

Sen. Rose believes Illinois is already very behind on the budget process if cuts are the move to make to balance the budget. He says with the path the State is on, it is getting closer and closer to achieving junk bond status. 

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Sen. Durbin Wants Stimulus Bill Passed Now

In an effort to provide support for small businesses, restaurants, and bars, Illinois's senior U.S. Senator says he's putting his political differences aside and asking for help across the aisle.

 

Senator Dick Durban said although the Senate passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus back in March, American's need more support.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker recently announced the state would be borrowing $2 billion from the Federal Government to help with the loss of state tax revenues in hopes the Biden administration and congress will pass a second stimulus package once sworn into office.

 

Durbin, who was recently re-elected to his fifth term, said he's hoping his bipartisan effort will lead to a second stimulus package.

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House GOP Lawmakers Want Answers About LaSalle Veterans Home COVID Outbreak

HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE CALLING FOR HEARINGS INTO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK AT THE LASALLE VETERANS HOME. 

 

G-O-P LAWMAKERS SAY THEY HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR WEEKS FOR A HEARING ON THE 200 PLUS POSITIVE CASES AND NOW 28 DEATHS AT LASALLE. REPRESENTATIVE RANDY FRESE OF PALOMA SAYS IT'S TIME FOR ANSWERS.

 

 

THE G-O-P WANTS ANSWERS - INCLUDING REPRESENTATIVE DAVID WELTER OF MORRIS.

 

 

THE SENATE HELD A HEARING ON THE MATTER LAST WEEK AND AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW BY A STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL IS BEING LAUNCHED. UNLIKE THE SENATE, THE HOUSE DID NOT PASS LEGISLATION ALLOWING VIRTUAL HEARINGS. STILL, THE REPUBLIANS SAY SOME SORT OF MEETING COULD BE HELD TO SEE WHAT ELSE CAN BE DONE AT LASALLE.

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Last Weekly Crop Report of 2020

IT'S THE LAST WEEKLY CROP REPORT OF THE SEASON. 

 

TEMPERATURES WERE ABOUT FOUR DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL, EVEN AS SOME AREAS SAW SNOW AND EXPERIENCED A HARD FREEZE. CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER SAYS RAINFALL WAS ABOVE NORMAL AS WELL.

 

 

99 PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS EMERGED.

 

 

PASTURE CONDITIONS ALSO IMPROVED AND WERE RATED 53 PERCENT IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. 79 PERCENT IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION, AN IMPROVEMENT OVER THE PREVIOUS WEEK.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Promoting Mental Health Crisis Training for Farmers

Question, persuade and refer. It’s called QPR, a new mental health effort that is being promoted by Illinois Farm Bureau.

 

 

IFB’s Jackie Jones says the free online training sessions are available Dec. 9, 10 and 11. You can find out more at “ilfb.org”. Just type in “free mental health crisis training” in the search box.

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Gov. Pritzker Says Tier 3 Mitigations Staying Place for Several Weeks

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS CURRENT COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS WILL REMAIN IN PLACE FOR THE COMING WEEKS IN ANTICIPATION OF A POSSIBLE POST-THANKSGIVING SURGE.

 

THE NUMBER OF NEW CASES HAS BEEN DECLINING THE LAST FEW DAYS, BUT THAT TREND MAY NOT HOLD. GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS EVEN IF AN AREA MEETS THE METRICS TO EASE UP ON MITIGATIONS, THAT WON'T BE ALLOWED FOR AWHILE.

 

 

WITH THAT IN MIND, GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS TIER THREE MITIGATIONS WON'T BE LIFTED ANYTIME SOON.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE HAS SPOKEN TO SEVERAL EXPERTS, INCLUDING DOCTOR ANTHONY FAUCI WHO AGREE. HE NOTES ANOTHER CONCERN IS THAT A SURGE OF NEW CASES WILL OVERWHELM ALREADY CROWDED ILLINOIS HOSPITALS.

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