Local News

64-Year Old Killed Early Tuesday in Piatt County, Authorities Seeking Information on Stolen Vehicle

Just after 3 a.m., the Piatt County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a residence in the village of Hammond in reference to a male at a residence with a gunshot wound.

 

The Piatt County Coroner’s Office declared the 64-year-old male dead at the scene.

 

Police are requesting the public’s assistance in locating a 2017 Ford F150 bearing Illinois registration 101 DN – B Truck plate which was reported stolen from the area.  ISP Zone 5 agents are actively tracking down leads to determine the whereabouts of the vehicle.  Anyone with information on the vehicle's location is asked to contact 911, but do not approach the vehicle.

 

This incident is being investigated as a homicide by the Illinois State Police (ISP) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the Piatt County Sheriff’s Office, Piatt County Coroner’s Office and Piatt County States Attorney’s Office.

 

No further information will be released at this time as the investigation is on-going. 

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Updates DeWitt County Board on Vaccine Latest

Last Thursday night, the DeWitt County Board heard from DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert on the most recent developments regarding the COVID vaccine locally.

 

Remmert indicates sign-ups are available for getting vaccinated and they will begin mass vaccinations likely starting next week locally.

 

 

Ex-DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg applauded Remmert for the work done by him and his staff. Remmert says it shouldn't be too long and they'll be vaccinating around 500 to 1000 residents per week.

 

 

From the audience at the virtual meeting Thursday, a question was raised about residents that had signed up already needing to sign up again. Remmert indicates they will need to fill out the electronic sign up when it becomes available.

 

 

Concerns raised from County Board members also centered around the cost of the vaccine. Remmert stresses the vaccine would be free. Additionally, a question was raised about the availability of the vaccine and Remmert did not see any reason they would not have enough vaccines to meet the needs of the public.

 

Next week's vaccine sign-ups are filled up but he points the public to their Facebook page for the latest link for the following week's sign-up list. SignUpGenius links will be posted weekly for available appointment slots after assessing the supply of vaccines and local staffing to administer the vaccine. He notes there has been an overwhelming demand for vaccination.  

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DeWitt County TRIAD Leader Warns of COVID Vaccine Scams

Millions of people are desperate to get the COVID vaccine to the point they are showing up at mass vaccination sites hours before opening and sleeping in vehicles.

 

It's a story not just happening in Illinois but across the country and scam artists are preying on that desperation. Connie Unruh is the President of DeWitt County TRIAD and on the WHOW Morning Show implored folks to be careful before pursuing a vaccination opportunity before making sure it is legitimate.

 

 

Central Illinois mass vaccination sites are seeing people pulling up hours and hours ahead of opening and sleeping in vehicles trying to get vaccines. Unruh says don't let greed get the best of us.

 

 

Scams around unemployment benefits continue to circulate still as well. Unruh herself had unemployment benefits filed in her name. She says there are several options in those circumstances.

 

There is also a fraud hotline through the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office. You contact DeWitt County authorities through that number, 217-935-7867.

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Mental Health Professional Hopes We'll Focus on Self-Care in 2021

Many had hoped 2021 would come with a normal feeling and less vitriol and conflict, however, through the first month, it feels as though that is not going to be the case.

 

Jessica Smiley with Heritage Behavioral Health Services indicates national and world events might still be impacting us and she is hopeful instead of focusing on events out of our control, we'll turn to a more self-care model of focus this year.



 

 

As we seek to focus on things we can control, Smiley emphasizes having self-compassion and not being too hard on ourselves. She says not every day or every situation is going to go how we plan or hope.

 

 

It's ok to not be ok is a continuing message from mental health professionals and Smiley continues to make this point as well. She not being happy or content all the time is ok and implores anyone battling elevated levels of depression or anxiety to seek out help.

 

 

Getting some exercise is a great way to refresh your mind and your emotions. While it doesn't have to be a hard-hitting 45-minute session in the gym, Smiley says whatever you do, give yourself some grace in getting started.

 

 

Other tips for self-care from Smiley includes making sure there is time for that thing or things you love. She also notes, self-care is not for just people struggling with depression or anxiety, but for those among us, that may be struggling with a circumstance in our own lives. Smiley says when we are able to take care of ourselves, we are then able to care for those around us. 

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Online Smell, Taste Test Aims to Help Detect COVID

A NEW ONLINE TOOL MAY HELP PEOPLE DETECT THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 SOONER.

 

THE LOSS OF TASTE AND SMELL IS ONE OF THE MAIN SIGNS OF THE VIRUS, BUT YOU MAY NOT CONSCIOUSLY NOTICE IT RIGHT AWAY SAYS UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS FOOD SCIENCE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR YANINA (jah-nina) PEPINO. THE ONLINE SMELL AND TASTE CHALLENGE ASKS USERS TO TRACK THEIR SENSES DAILY FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.

 

 

THE IDEA IS TO TAKE A QUICK SMELL AND TASTE TEST EVERY MORNING WITH YOUR FAVORITE DRINK WHETHER THAT BE COFFEE, JUICE OR SOMETHING ELSE. THE WEB-BASED TOOL TRACKS HOW STRONG YOUR SENSES ARE OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, THAT WAY YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DETECT ANY DRASTIC CHANGES SAYS PEPINO.

 

 

IF YOU SEE A DRAMATIC REDUCTION IN YOUR SENSE OF TASTE AND SMELL, THAT COULD BE A SIGN OF COVID SAYS PEPINO, AND MEANS PEOPLE MAY BE ABLE TO QUARANTINE OR SEEK TESTING A LITTLE QUICKER. YOU CAN ACCESS THE TEST AT: RIECH, THAT'S R-I-E-C-H DASH CHECK DOT DE.

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Market Movement Keeping Grain Industry Moving

With the recent spark in the market, plenty of grain is moving throughout Illinois. Jeff Adkisson is the executive vice president of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois.

 

 

The association represents more than 90-percent of the commercial grain storage space in the state of Illinois. Members include grain elevators and grain handling facilities, processors, feed mills and companies that provide goods and services to the industry.

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Illinois' Tax Filing Season Begins Feb. 12

ILLINOIS' TAX FILING SEASON BEGINS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH. 

 

YOU CAN START FILING BOTH YOUR STATE AND FEDERAL TAXES ON THE 12TH, AND ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESPERSON TERRY HORSTMAN ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO DO THAT ELECTRONICALLY.

 

 

HE SAYS THOSE THAT FILE AN ERROR-FREE RETURN CAN EXPECT TO GET THEIR REFUND IN ABOUT FOUR TO SIX WEEKS. ADDITIONALLY...

 

 

THOSE FILING AN I-L 10-40 CAN DO SO FOR FREE ON THE: MY TAX DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV WEBSITE. THERE, YOU CAN ALSO CHECK ON THE STATUS OF YOUR REFUND. THE TAX FILING DEADLINE IS APRIL 15TH.

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Durbin Continues Push for COVID Relief

US Senator Dick Durbin says the fight against COVID-19 is far from over. Durbin notes with more than 350,000 people in Illinois out of work and on unemployment now is not time to cut back on their benefits and other support for the nation’s economy.

 

 

Durbin says the federal government needs to continue to get more vaccine out to people who are desperate to get in line and receive a shot.

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Rare Objection Made During Latest DeWitt County Board Meeting

An unusual objection was made during last Thursday night's DeWitt County Board meeting.

 

Paying county bills is usually a routine item of business that rarely turns into much discussion, however, last Thursday night, Board member Buck Carter objected to paying the retainer on the County's labor attorney hoping to see an itemized list of his expenses. Chairwoman of the County Board's finance committee, Melonie Tilley says this is a routine expense for the County and the labor attorney has saved the County money in the last year.

 

 

Carter cited uncertainty regarding what the attorney is handling that could be taken care of by the County's department heads. Tilley and Aaron Kammeyer both spoke up in defense of the bill saying the attorney has helped resolve many legal issues. Tilley specifically spoke to expenses not charged by their attorney.

 

 

DeWitt County Board Chair Terry Ferguson says a department head handling an issue could result in costs much higher than the labor attorney. Carter objected to the $44,000 bill without an itemized cost.

 

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker indicates the labor attorney offers a tremendous amount of expertise to not only the Sheriff's office but DeWitt County as a whole.

 

 

Carter withdrew the motion to withhold the retainer on the labor attorney but wanted an itemized statement of the services provided. The County Board approved paying all the bills. 

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Cerro Gordo, Bement Schools Begin Vaccination Process

The school districts of Cerro Gordo and Bement have begun the process of vaccinating their staff.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show's Hometown Tour Spotlight Tuesday, Superintendent of Bement Schools Dr. Sheila Greenwood indicates thanks to Kirby Medical Center and the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department, they were able to begin getting their staff the vaccine.

 

 

Cerro Gordo schools participated in the same clinic as Bement at Monticello High School. Cerro Gordo Superintendent Brett Robinson complimented the collaboration shown by the many entities involved in getting staff at the schools vaccinated.

 

 

On the Hometown Tour Spotlight, both school leaders expressed their gratification that school-affiliated sports will be resuming soon. While seasons will be condensed, they say their student-athletes are looking forward to being back playing soon. 

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Health Department, Area Providers Partnering to Provide Healthcare Workers to Help Vaccinate

Healthcare workers across the area are being asked to step up and help with mass-vaccination clinics coming to DeWitt and Piatt Counties. 

 

Paul Skowron at Warner Hospital and Health Services calls it a fast-moving and dynamic situation. He indicates local health officials across the State have been charged with coming up with their plans on how to staff and distribute vaccines.

 

 

This effort is going to require a lot of coordination as a federal program for distribution was never established. Skowron says communities in both DeWitt and Piatt Counties are coming together to get the vaccine distributed.

 

 

Skowron has called on his staff to help out in any they can, but still more help is needed. DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert sent out a call earlier on Monday for what they are still in need of to make this effort happen. He says they still need vaccinators, clerk or runners, pharmacists or RNs to draw syringes, and EMTs. 

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Blue Ridge School Begin Vaccinating Staff This Week

Monday, Blue Ridge staff began the vaccination process.

 

Superintendent Dr. Hillary Stanifer indicates their staff will be vaccinated thanks to a partnership with Gibson Area Hospital. She explains around 100 vaccines were made available to the district and 84 of their staff will be participating by getting the first of the Moderna vaccine.

 

 

Opinions on the vaccine vary and Dr. Stanifer believes it is her job to provide as much information as possible and allow her staff to make their own decisions. She points out they've also been able to get access to the vaccine for substitute teachers they've worked with this year.

 

 

As the area teachers get vaccinated in the weeks ahead, Dr. Stanifer says this will be a big step forward in providing consistency in keeping their school doors open.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer says about 75-percent of their full-time staff is getting vaccinated. The district has begun to have conversations about expanding its school day. We'll have more on that soon on Regional Radio News. 

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Social Security on Protecting Yourself Against Scammers

Social Security reminds the public to remain vigilant to protect themselves from scammers.

 

Jack Myers, with Social Security, says the most effective way to defeat scams is to identify and ignore them. He indicates the most common scenario they hear is the scammer is posing as a federal agent or law enforcement.

 

 

Myers says Social Security will never require payment over the phone, demand secrecy, or send official letters or reports via e-mail. In these types of situations, never give out any personal information.

 

 

Myers notes the best thing to do when you receive these types of calls is to hang up right away, don't reply to the e-mail, or click on any links. Social Security scams can be reported to the Office of the Inspector General.

 

 

Report scams at oig.ssa.gov.

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Gov. Pritzker Announces New COVID Vaccination Website

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING A NEW COVID-19 VACCINATION WEBPAGE.

 

THE INFORMATION IS ON THE STATE'S CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV WEBSITE, AND FEATURES A SEARCHABLE DATABASE OF VACCINATION SITES, ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES, FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND MORE. GOVERNOR PRITZKER AGAIN ASKS THE PUBLIC FOR PATIENCE DURING THE VACCINE ROLLOUT, NOTING THAT ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY SITES ARE COMING ON LINE, AS WELL AS LOCAL PHARMACIES.

 

 

YOU CAN SEARCH BY ZIP CODE OR TOWN FOR VACCINATION LOCATIONS NEAR YOU SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER.

 

 

AGAIN THE WEBSITE IS: CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV. GOVERNOR PRITZKER REMINDS THAT MORE THAN THREE MILLION ILLINOISANS ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE VACCINE IN THIS NEXT ROUND.

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Conservation Police Asking Public to Take Survey on Enforcement Efforts, Priorities

THE ILLINOIS CONSERVATION POLICE IS SEEKING THE PUBLIC'S INPUT ON ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS AND RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES. 

 

A NEW SURVEY HAS BEEN LAUNCHED, ASKING PEOPLE ABOUT THINGS LIKE THEIR INTERACTIONS WITH CONSERVATION POLICE, FAVORITE ACTIVITIES AND HOW OFTEN THEY VISIT STATE PARKS SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON RACHEL TORBERT.

 

 

TORBERT SAYS THE NEW SURVEY AIMS TO SEE WHERE CONSERVATION POLICE CAN IMPROVE AND WHICH ISSUES NEED MORE ATTENTION.

 

 

THE SURVEY IS OPEN THROUGH FEBRUARY 15TH. YOU CAN TAKE IT ONLINE AT DNR DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV AND CLICK ON "LAW ENFORCEMENT" OR ON D-N-R'S FACEBOOK OR TWITTER PAGE.

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Child Protection Network Breaks Down Local Child Abuse Statistics

The Child Protection Network (CPN) has released local and statewide child abuse statistics from 2020.

 

Samantha Stevenson with CPN indicates DCFS received twenty percent fewer reports of child abuse in 2020 than in 2019. She says the COVID lockdown prevented cases from being reported. Locally there were over 20,000 cases reported last year.

 

 

Stevenson says sometimes children will be placed in foster care while an investigation is ongoing. Last year there were over 220 children locally in foster care. Of those in foster care, several received services from a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.

 

 

Studies have found that eighty percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues. The Children's Advocacy Center provides counseling and therapy for these youth, according to Stevenson.

 

 

To learn more about the Child Protection Network, visit mcleancpn.org, call (309) 445-2280, or any of their social media platforms.

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Sen. Rose Sounds Off on Governor Pritzker's COVID Vaccine Plan

Through the course of the COVID pandemic, a central Illinois lawmaker has been critical of Governor JB Pritzker's handling of things and is again sounding off, this time over vaccines.

 

From dealing with inadequacies from the Illinois Department of Employment Security to where testing is available and the types of testing offered, State Sen. Chapin Rose says the Governor recently approved for healthy Illinois inmates to be vaccinated while there are still assisted living facility residents still waiting to be vaccinated.

 

 

Sen. Rose says this is another in a long line of hypocrisies from the Pritzker administration regarding the science around COVID. He says the CDC laid out clear guidelines on who to vaccinate first.

 

 

Utilizing the National Guard to distribute vaccines would make sense in Illinois however, Sen. Rose is critical of the Governor for continuing to lay blame on the federal government. He also points out there is a nursing home in Moultrie County still waiting for vaccines and don't know when they will be coming, however, the local health department is moving on to phase '1b' of the vaccine distribution plan.

 

 

Sen. Rose believes all Illinoisans should be treated the same in this vaccination process. From Illinoisans incarcerated in a Department of Corrections facility or one of its employees to the senior across the street, he says the vaccine plan should not be altered.

 

 

Late last year, the Senator raised concerns over the rapid test being used at the University of Illinois being approved for mass use, however, the Governor's office has not authorized the mobilization of that test to as many Illinoisans as possible.

 

He's also been critical of the Governor for the fraud stemming from unemployment claims in the Department of Employment Security, in addition to thousands of Illinoisans who have still not received the unemployment benefits they are entitled to nearly a year into the pandemic. 

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Warm Air From La Nina Dominating Midwest Winter

Thanks to the snow and ice in the eastern portion of central Illinois in early January, the up-and-down temperature pattern was put on pause but anticipates its return this week.

 

Chris Miller at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates this will return us to the weather pattern that kicked off the meteorological winter in November and lasted through most of December.

 

 

The La Nina weather pattern of this winter is dominating the weather pattern that has most of the midwest above average for temperatures so far this winter.

 

 

Miller is predicting extreme cold that can settle in on the midwest in late January and through early February to stay away for the time being.

 

 

Miller points out, the unexpected five-to-nine inches of snow that fell east of Lincoln and west of Champaign, encompassing a very small sphere of central Illinois, held up the up-and-down temperatures the first few weeks of the year. He says the snow and ice resulted in very dense fog and cloud cover across that portion of central Illinois as well. 

 

 

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for today, expiring at noon Tuesday. Anticipate one to three inches of snowfall in parts of central Illinois today with a tenth to two-tenths of an inch of sleet and ice. 

 

Watch for hazardous road conditions throughout the day, especially during the morning and evening commutes. 

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Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Opening Back Up to Public Today

THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM IN SPRINGFIELD IS OPENING BACK UP TO VISITORS ON MONDAY, JANUARY 25TH. 

 

AFTER CLOSING IN NOVEMBER DUE TO THE RISING NUMBER OF COVID-19 CASES, THE FACILITY WILL ONCE AGAIN RE-OPEN TO VISITORS. SPOKESPERSON CHRIS WILLS EXPLAINS WHAT SAFETY PRECAUTIONS THEY ARE TAKING.

 

 

 

 

WILLS SAYS THEY ARE THRILLED TO OPEN THEIR DOORS AGAIN.

 

 

WILLS SAYS VISITORS WILL NEED TO PURCHASE TICKETS TO THE MUSEUM IN ADVANCE AT: PRESIDENT LINCOLN DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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Weather Service Issues Winter Weather Advisory for Regional Radio Listening Area

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Regional Radio listening area, from 3am til noon on Monday.

 

The Advisory is for the counties of McLean, Logan, DeWitt, Piatt, Macon, and Champaign in the Regional Radio Listening Area, as well as counties to the south.

 

The Weather Service says that mixed precipitation is expected thru the noon hour, with snow of up to an inch, and ice of up to two-tenth’s of an inch.

 

They added to expect slippery road conditions thru-out the day.    The precip should go to all rain in the afternoon with a high of 34.

 

For the latest road conditions anytime, click the “Road Conditions” icon at dewittdailynews-dot-com.  Stay tuned to Regional Radio for the latest weather information.

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Guard could help with vaccine distribution

The Illinois National Guard was recently deployed to help protect the Illinois State Capitol and Washington D.C. during the inauguration. Now that the event is over the guard may be called up on to help speed the spread of COVID 19 vaccination efforts.

 

Illinois National Guard Commander Major General Richard Neely says they have helped support testing efforts for months and will be ready to assist where needed on the vaccination front.

 

 

A plan from the federal government is being rolled out, and Neely suspects more direction will come in the next few days about a possible mission for the guard.

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Local Coronavirus Update

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported 22 new coronavirus cases for the latter part of this past week.

 

On Wednesday, DeWitt County reported 5 new cases in Clinton, 1 new case in Farmer City, and 1 new case in Waynesville. Piatt County added 3 new cases in Cerro Gordo, 1 new case in Mansfield, and 1 new case in Monticello. 

 

Thursday, DeWitt County added 5 new cases in Clinton, 2 new cases in DeWitt, and 2 new cases in Kenney. Piatt County added 1 new case in Monticello.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 1217 cases; Piatt County has had a total of 1245 cases.  

 

 A recent death was recorded in Piatt County, a male in his 90s.

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Clinton YMCA Continues Progress Towards Establishing Y-Zone Program in Farmer City

The Clinton YMCA and the Blue Ridge School District continue to make progress towards establishing an after school Y-Zone program in the Blue Ridge district.

 

Y-Zone is a well established after school program that has been successful in Clinton for youth to come after school and have a safe environment to take care of any school work and have fun. Executive Director Rennie Cluver says they've been working for some time with the administration at Blue Ridge Schools to get this established. 

 

 

There is no official start date for the program because the Y does not have the numbers it needs to support a program. Cluver is calling on anyone interested in the Farmer City area to get their kids signed up.

 

 

Farmer City residents interested in getting their kids signed up for the program can contact David Torbert at the Clinton YMCA at 217-935-8307. You can also visit clintoncommymca.org and find the 'After School Care' tab on the new website. 

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Unexpected Snow in DeWitt, Piatt Counties Altered Weather Trends in Illinois

The unexpected five-to-nine inches of snow that fell east of Lincoln and west of Champaign, encompassing a very small sphere of central Illinois, held up the up-and-down temperatures the first few weeks of the year. 

 

Chris Miller at the National Weather Service in Lincoln says the snow and ice resulted in very dense fog and cloud cover across that portion of central Illinois for about a week. 

 

 

According to Miller, the week ahead is looking at temperatures consistently in the lower-to-middle 30s for central Illinois. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

Portions of Illinois could receive more snow and ice early next week. State Climatologist Trent Ford has the details.

 

 

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IDPH Clears High Risk Sports in Phase 4

If your region is in phase 4 of the Governor's COVID mitigation plan, sports are back. 

 

Monticello Athletic Director Dan Sheehan says a joint decision from IDPH and Lt. Governor Jesse Ruiz has cleared the way for the return of competitions for all Illinois sports. 

 

 

Sheehan indicates there are a lot of details still to be ironed out but this is a big step for all athletes in the State of Illinois. 

 

The Illinois High School Association Board is set to meet this Wednesday to confirm the high school sports schedule for the rest of the school year.  Previously, the board had set football practices to start February 15th, games starting March 5th and the season ending May First.  Baseball and softball seasons were previously set to have practices start April 19th, with games starting May 3rd and the season ending June 26th.

 

More information on the resumption of high school sports in Illinois, can be found on the Illinois High School Association COVID page which is linked here.

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DeWitt County Board Discusses Wind Farm Ordinances Changes

The DeWitt County Board spent a lengthy amount of time Thursday night during their virtual monthly meeting discussing wind farms.

 

A series of text amendment changes came up for approval dealing with issues from the lighting systems of the towers to issues surrounding drainage districts and flicker effect. Board Chair Terry Ferguson one of the text amendments deals with setback distances. Ferguson points out the issue died at the Zoning Board of Appeals and a recommendation from the State's Attorney concerned him in moving forward with it.

 

 

Buck Carter expressed his desire for the vote to move the amendment forward but Ferguson says the Regional Planning Commission could still be adjusted. Aaron Kammeyer pointed out the ZBA did not take it up due to a technicality.

 

 

The motion to approve the text amendment for setback distance was approved.

 

Shadow flicker studies on residential structures would be required for its impact over a calendar year and would be required for special use permits. Ferguson points out this would be new language to the ordinance.

 

 

Input from Kammeyer, Dan Matthews, and Meghan Myers suggested the Board move forward with this ordinance change because it is not ideal for DeWitt County but it is better than what is in place.

 

 

The shadow flicker study ordinance change was approved. 

 

Much discussion went into an ordinance change regarding drainage districts. Ferguson, reading the agreement, indicates it touches on road agreements and upgrades for impacted roads along with impacted drainage districts. He points out it received a positive recommendation from the ZBA.

 

 

Ferguson's belief that drainage districts are a free-standing entity that has equal standing with the County townships and highway departments. He says this issue is very important because the current special use permit would crossover easements in DeWitt County drainage districts.

 

 

That understanding was met with resistance from State's Attorney Dan Markwell who indicates before construction, the wind farm, and the drainage districts have to agree before they receive their building permits. It is Markwell's contention the Board is giving veto power to an entity not even involved in the process.

 

 

Additionally, Markwell points out there comes a point in the process where drainage districts are impacted by the building permits, otherwise, they are unimpacted and have not rights being violated.

 

 

Ferguson argued getting the drainage district agreement ahead of time would be more economical for them. Markwell says no rights are being impacted to go to court get ratified.

 

 

Kammeyer questioned why this wouldn't be something that comes up during the special use permit application process because he believes it should be part of the process to protect the county have those drainage districts returned to the state they were before construction. Markwell contends this should not be a part of the special use permit process but rather the building permit process.

 

 

The passage of the ordinance change was again approved.

 

Thursday night, the County Board also made a series of appointments to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Regional Planning Commission:

 

>>Monica De Grauwe, Kevin Myers, and Moe Winstead were all appointed to the Regional Planning Commission.

 

>>Robert Walters was appointed to the DeWitt County Board of Review. 

 

Additionally, the County Board rejected participating in the Illinois Assist MCC Program. We'll have more on that next week on Regional Radio News.

 

Normally, DeWitt County Board Chair Terry Ferguson would join the WHOW Morning Show on Friday at 8:30 am, however, due to a medical procedure, Ferguson will be joining the show on Monday at 9 am. 

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Says Recent Local COVID Numbers Spike Stemmed From Christmas, New Year's Holidays

The Christmas and New Year's Holidays provided DeWitt and Piatt Counties one of the highest spikes in COVID cases during the entire pandemic.

 

That's what DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert tells Regional Radio News.

 

 

Clinton Schools are currently dealing with a very serious COVID situation that may temporarily threaten the status of certain buildings or even the district. Superintendent Curt Nettles believes the situation is stemming from the holidays.

 

 

While the holidays provided a spike, Nettles' prediction of things calming down soon was substantiated by Remmert who says this virus has had a natural ebb-and-flow throughout its entirety.

 

 

On the WHOW Morning Show earlier this week, Nettles told Regional Radio News it was his hope they could manage and get through the remainder of this week and felt once they begin next week, the district would be in much better shape.

 

He noted they had several students in quarantine but was most concerned about the staff. He felt any measures taken by the district would be temporary.

 

School leaders across the area have indicated the shortage of substitute teachers in recent years is playing a factor in staffing levels this year and in some cases has caused several districts to go remote. 

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Latest Rounds of Snowfall Not Impacting Local Drought Conditions

If you were hoping snow from the first few weeks of the new year would help out drought conditions locally, the National Weather Service has some disappointing news for you.

 

Chris Miller at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates despite there being plenty of snow and ice the first week of the year, it is not having much of an impact on a drought that is already being closely monitored.

 

 

According to Miller, it has been an odd winter so far. Most of the snow and moisture has stayed to the north thanks to moderate temperatures. 

 

 

Back in the early parts of the winter, Miller warned a lot of snow would be unlikely to ease the drought. He says there is not a lot of liquid in the snow on top of the ground being frozen in some places.

 

 

The next chance of rain is early next week. Miller indicates that is a system they are keeping an eye on because it is not guaranteed to come to central Illinois and how much moisture it could bring is also in question.

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University of Illinois Nutrition Educator Offers Tips on Those New Kitchen Appliances

If a new kitchen appliance was among those Christmas presents this year, it's time to get those out and use them rather than collecting dust in some corner of your house and home.

 

Nutrition Educator at the University of Illinois Extension, Caitlin Mellendorf says appliances like pressure cookers and air fryers are very trendy right now. The pressure cookers are very handy, especially ones that can be left alone once you put your food in them.

 

 

The air fryer is basically a small convection oven. According to Mellendorf, this offers the consumer the benefits of fried foods without the unhealthy oils they're cooked in.

 

 

The Extension is partnering with 4-H for a virtual class to offer youngsters how to use pressure cookers. Mellendorf indicates this week begins a 6-week pressure cooker informational classes. 

 

 

Mellendorf offers a food blog on the Extension website, go.illinois.edu/dmp. Her focus recently has been the versatility of cabbage and using it as we get deeper into the winter months. 

 

For further general health and nutrition information, you can visit that website as well. 

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State Board of Education Discusses Recent Graduation Mandates

THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION IS EXPRESSING CONCERNS ABOUT NEW GRADUATION MANDATES APPROVED BY LAWMAKERS LAST WEEK.

 

IF SIGNED INTO LAW, THE LARGE EDUCATION BILL PASSED DURING THE LAME DUCK SESSION WILL REQUIRE HIGH SCHOOLERS TO TAKE TWO YEARS OF LABORATORY SCIENCE, A COMPUTER LITERACY COURSE AND TWO YEARS OF A FOREIGN LANGUAGE. BOARD MEMBER SUSIE MORRISON:

 

 

MORRISON SUGGESTS THEY REVIEW ALL GRADUATION MANDATES TO SEE IF ANY CHANGES NEED TO BE MADE. THE IDEA IS TO MAKE SURE STUDENTS MEET COLLEGE STANDARDS BUT BOARD MEMBER DOCTOR CHRISTINE BENSON WISHES LAWMAKERS HAD SOUGHT THE BOARD'S INPUT.

 

 

THE BOARD ALSO DISCUSSED ITS SPRING LEGISLATIVE AGENDA WHICH INCLUDES ADDRESSING TEACHER MISCONDUCT AND MAKING SURE STUDENTS THAT HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED HAVE ACCESS TO REMOTE LEARNING WHILE THEY ARE OUT OF SCHOOL.

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Sen. Durbin Wants 'Dream Act' Passed

After the inauguration, US Senator Dick Durbin says he is again hopeful that the Dream Act will pass through Congress and be signed by President Joe Biden. 

 

Durbin’s grateful that Biden restored DACA, or deferred action on childhood arrivals, protections by executive order on Wednesday. Durbin says those individuals deserve protection from deportation.

 

 

He wants the Dream Act back for a vote in the Senate. But acknowledges with a narrow Democratic majority he won’t get everything he wants out of a new Dream Act bill.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Says Those in Trucking Industry Should Beware of Scams

Those in the trucking industry should beware of potential scams. It involves DOT numbers.

 

 

 

 

Rodney Knittel is the assistant director of transportation and infrastructure for the Illinois Farm Bureau.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Exploring Mass Vaccination Clinic

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department is working on bringing a mass vaccination clinic to its service area.

 

According to Executive Director Dave Remmert, the clinics will be for eligible '1b' residents. '1b' is the essential workforce that is in daily contact with the public.

 

 

There are limited space and limited ability to vaccinate in large numbers. According to Remmert, these vaccines will be distributed with the help of area providers.

 

 

The Health Department will be vaccinating Clinton School District teachers beginning next Friday, January 29. The small audience of their staff will test the capacity and the health department site. Remmert notes their mass vaccination clinic will be a much larger scale operation.

 

Additionally, Clinton Schools are hoping to be a site for the vaccinations two to three times per week. 

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Clinton City Council Commissioner Offers Positive Thoughts Towards First Responders

A week that has been difficult for Illinois first responders as the State of Illinois overhauled regulations for law enforcement and the criminal justice system, a Clinton City Council member offered some positive thoughts to our local first responders. 

 

After witnessing the showing of support for the passing of local veteran, James Dolly, whose funeral and procession was Tuesday, Commissioner John Wise at the Monday night Clinton City Council meeting says it shows the support and comradery the community has when it comes to supporting one another.

 

 

Clinton Commissioner of Streets and Public Improvements, Ken Buchanan is encouraging the community to get those branches and brush out to the curbs so their crews can get everything picked up and hauled off.

 

 

According to Commissioner of Finance, Tom Edmunds, the City is continuing to receive good news on sales tax, however, state income tax, motor fuel tax and gaming taxes are down.

 

 

No business to be voted on was on the agenda for Tuesday night. 

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OSF Doctor Says COVID Mitigations Impacting 2020-21 Flu Season

You may have noticed the number of flu cases being reported this year are down significantly. While some point to a conspiracy, saying everything is being branded COVID-19, a doctor with OSF HealthCare says that is not the case. It’s largely due to the number of vaccinations through community healthcare systems and community pharmacies, according to Dr. Syed Zaidi.

 

He says while more people are vigilant about getting the flu vaccine this season, people are also washing their hands, social distancing, wearing masks and traveling less due to COVID-19 – all important factors in the drop in flu cases.

 

 

He adds that this is no time to let our guard down, saying it’s the utmost importance that we continue to vaccinate and get the flu shot, especially the most vulnerable – the younger and the elderly.

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Western Illinois University Professor to Research Domestic Terrorism, Extremism

A professor of law enforcement and the director of the Homeland Security Research Program at Western Illinois University has been studying domestic terrorism and extremism in the U.S. for 15 years. Dr. Dean Alexander was asked about those that stormed the U.S. Capitol and breached the building on Jan. 6.

 

 

Alexander has been a member of the WIU School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration since 2005. His teaching, research, and speaking activities encompass terrorism, security and legal issues, and he has lectured in 10 countries and also made presentations to law enforcement and military officials at NATO and the U.S. State Department.

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Congressman Schneider Pushing for Passage of Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act

A Democrat member of Congress wants a bill that passed the house last year to make it through the senate this year. Illinois’ Brad Schneider from the 10th District, says the timely nature of the reintroduction of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act comes after the Capitol was stormed.

 

He says federal, state and local law enforcement need more information about white nationalists, and other groups connected to the far right along with any group or organization that is seeking to cause terror in the United States.

 

 

Schneider says the bill has bipartisan support but was killed in the US Senate last year when Republican Mitch McConnel refused to bring it to the floor for a vote.

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Clinton Schools Face Tough COVID Picture; Vaccine for Staff on Horizon

Hanging by a thread while trying to keep things in-person is the situation facing Clinton Schools as it relates to COVID.

 

At the virtual Clinton Board of Education meeting, Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles did not paint a pretty picture as it relates to COVID among students and staff. Staff continues to be the biggest issue on his radar right now. 

 

 

According to Nettles, the situation is not just bad at Clinton High School. He explains they are beginning to be short on bus drivers and are taking some measures to make things work.

 

 

While things are not looking good at this moment, Nettles continues to be encouraged and emphasizes to the community, COVID is not spreading in their schools.

 

 

January 29, the staff of Clinton Schools can begin being inoculated. Nettles indicates they are working with the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department to get their staff the vaccine.

 

 

Hear from Nettles on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday at approximately 8:30 am. 

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Warner Library Returning to In-Person Services

The Warner Library in Clinton is excited to announce the return of several in-person services starting Wednesday.

 

Library Business Manager Samantha Rusk indicates they are very excited to soon see their patron back in the library thanks to the lessened mitigations from Governor JB Pritzker.

 

 

Thanks to the size of the library's facility, Rusk says capacity limits should not be an issue, however, there are still social distancing requirements in place.

 

 

According to Rusk, the library is currently looking at how to reintroduce some programming for their patrons. She says that is something they've greatly missed.

 

 

As the library gets back to welcoming patrons into its facility, Rusk says they are going to stick with their curbside pickup option. In fact, she says that has been something they've discovered could work year-round.

 

 

Current library hours are Monday thru Thursday from 10 am - 7 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10 am - 3 pm and are subject to change. For more information about current services, visit www.vwarner.org or call 217-935-5174.

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DeWitt County Law Enforcement Officials React to Recent Overhaul of Criminal Justice System

Local law enforcement officials are weighing in on the passage of a 700-plus page bill that overhauls law enforcement and the criminal justice system in Illinois.

 

The bill was introduced in the waning hours of the final day of the 101st General Assembly in Springfield and passed just a few hours later. DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker says the one victory for law enforcement was the preservation of qualified immunity.

 

 

On the WHOW Morning Show, Monday, Sheriff Walker and Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers believe the bill is a further example of the disconnect between the realities of law enforcement and the reactions from the media and social media.

 

 

The two veterans of law enforcement say the fact the bill was introduced hours before the legislative cycle was to end and then passed not long after that is a red flag. Additionally, Sheriff Walker says no one in law enforcement in Illinois had a seat at the table in formulating the policies in the bill.

 

 

According to Chief Lowers, the biggest loser in this bill is the victims of crimes in the community. He says it will be a regularity that a perpetrator will be back on the street before the paperwork on their crime has been filed.

 

 

The Sheriff emphasizes his office will continue to do what is within its power to help the community. While disappointed in the bill, it goes into effect in July and he says the sky is not falling. 

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IFB President Ready for New Year

The president of the Illinois Farm Bureau says there are several key areas the organization is looking at in 2021.

 

 

That is IFB President Rich Guebert.

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Clinton Y Director Hoping to Further Resources for Community's Healthy, Wellness in '21

Overall good health and wellness is the goal for the Clinton YMCA's Executive Director in 2021.

 

Rennie Cluver leads the Clinton non-profit and believes they have almost everything someone could need that is looking to exercise and be healthy. From their well-equipped wellness center, fitness classes for those of all ages and fitness levels to their gym and swimming - Cluver says they have the resources for the community. 

 

 

The Y has recently introduced a nutrition program and Cluver says it is his goal to eventually bring on a personal trainer to work with their members on a plan specific to an individual member and their goals.

 

 

Cluver indicates there are all sorts of strategies that are effective when working out. He explains if you find it difficult to stick with one routine, that isn't necessarily a bad thing but whatever your routine is, he recommends sticking with it for at least two to three weeks, if not longer, to notice the results you want.

 

 

'Y Survivor', a workout program based on working out a certain number of hours each week and gradually increasing over the course several weeks into the spring, has seen a record number of participants this year. This development excites Cluver as they are seeing members that had fallen off returning and an emphasis on health and wellness in the community. 

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Gov. Pritzker Says Phase 5 Not Coming Any Time Soon

The Illinois Department of Public Health moved a number of regions into less restrictive tiers of mitigations on Monday. 

 

Two regions, three and five, are now back to Phase Four, meaning restaurants and bars are open, some youth sports can play games and gyms are operating again. But a full move into Phase Five means widespread distribution of a vaccine or a readily available treatment for COVID-19. Governor JB Pritzker says the state isn’t moving to Phase Five anytime soon.

 

 

On average 22,000 people a day in Illinois are getting vaccinated and the state says there are 3.2 million people in the current Phase 1b of the vaccination rollout. As of Monday, the state reports that just under a half a million people have been vaccinated.

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Congresswoman Bustos Reacts to National Guard Troops Being Sent to US, Illinois Capitols

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos joined MSNBC Live on Sunday ahead of this week’s Biden-Harris Inauguration. She was asked about Illinois National Guard units being deployed to the Illinois State Capitol and U.S. Capitol this week.

 

 

Inauguration Day is Wednesday.

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Organizers Planning to Honor Local Veteran

Local Veteran James Dolly passed away on Thursday, January 14 and his funeral is at 2:30 pm on Tuesday in Clinton.

 

Jeff Morlock earlier this month announced an effort to honor local veterans during their funeral precessions. The plans for Mr. Dolly's procession is changing as the burial is in Kenney.

 

The Funeral route will be from Calvert Funeral homes South entrance, turning right, or west, on Jefferson, to Grant, turning left, or south, on Grant to the hospital, turning right, or west, at the hospital, and proceeding to Kenney to Pleasant Valley Cemetery at E 350 North Road. 

 

Morlock is encouraging anyone able, to attend anywhere along the route with flags around 3 pm.

 

Clinton Fire Departments' ladder truck with the US flag will be tentatively at the Clinton High School west entrance, or in that general vicinity. Additionally, veterans who wish to attend will meet at the entrance to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery at 3:15 PM.

 

Morlock thanks the Kenney Fire Department, who has been very involved in every DeWitt County Veterans Honor Flight return escort, and many other events supporting our local veterans.

 

Morlock hopes the community joins them to show support for Mr. Dolly and his family.

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Central Illinois CEO Program Application Deadline for 2021 Approaching

Juniors in the districts of Clinton, Blue Ridge, Warrensburg-Latham, and Maroa-Forsyth who would like to learn more about the world of business have a limited amount of time to consider joining a program that would do just that.

 

The Central Illinois CEO program introduces area high school students to the basics of business and also provides hands-on experience. Emma Culbertson is a student from Clinton High School in the program now and she says the deadline to apply for the program is February 1 but there's also an opportunity for juniors interested to be a part of the class for a day.

 

 

COVID has created a very different environment for the class this year. While juniors next year may not have the challenges of the class this year, Culbertson says it's still a great course to take and you'll learn a lot.

 

 

Emma Cook from Warrensburg-Latham High School says the site visits and projects the class takes on are one of the best parts of the class, from her perspective.

 

 

Culbertson encourages any juniors interested in joining the CEO program or getting information about 'take a junior to class day' to reach out to someone in the program in their school or visit centralillinoisceo.com.

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City of Lincoln Encouraging Health Department to Work with Small Businesses on Reopening Plan

The City of Lincoln is encouraging its Health Department to work with small businesses in Lincoln on a plan to reopen.

 

Mayor Tracy Welch on the WHOW Morning Show Friday told Regional Radio News their businesses are on the brink of closure and they need to do something to help them. For most business owners, their business is their livelihood.

 

 

Governor Pritzker announced lessened mitigations for parts of Illinois last Friday. According to the Mayor, while that is great, he is not sure how that will impact dining for restaurants.

 

 

Many leaders in other communities would be hesitant to put together such a plan due to repercussions from Springfield but Mayor Welch says it is starting to get to a point where even the City cannot survive having these businesses not operating.

 

 

According to the Mayor, their previous experience with COVID restrictions in Lincoln did not work and so they are encouraging the Health Department to work with each individual business and develop a plan that works for each one.

 

 

A couple of measures the City of Lincoln is developing is using a portion of their CURES money from the spring stimulus bill to put back into their businesses through grants. Additionally, this week the City Council will consider reducing liquor license fees to help small businesses in Lincoln. 

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Monticello Superintendent: The Realist In Me Says We'll Only Play Spring Sports

The fight for high school sports in Illinois continues and many are hoping for movement in the next few weeks. 

 

Monticello Schools Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman hopes the vaccine begins to expand the possibilities for student-athletes in Illinois but questions whether it will. It is his prediction we'll likely only get those spring sports in this year.

 

 

How much would the vaccine availability and inoculation of Illinoisans impact the prospects of sports this year? Dr. Zimmerman doubts it would have that much impact because it won't be available to everyone by the time decisions on sports or even seasons kick-off.

 

 

Many administrators, coaches, parents, and players believe the State of Illinois missed its opportunity to get sports in the fall played as COVID data at the time was very favorable. Dr. Zimmerman indicates while hindsight is always 20/20, even at the time people were still fighting for the games to be played.

 

 

The expectation is next week, the IHSA will call a special meeting to decide on the fate of many sports in Illinois. The proverbial can has been kicked to the end of the line for sports in Illinois and now decisions have to be made. 

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Quiet Weather to Last To End of Month

While portions of the Midwest were hit with some blizzard type conditions late last week, Freese-Notis meteorologist Dan Hicks expects a relatively quiet weather pattern to continue in Illinois through the end of this month.

 

 

The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings last Friday for parts of western Iowa, northwestern Missouri, eastern Nebraska, southwestern Minnesota and eastern South Dakota.

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Local Coronavirus Update

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported over 30 new coronavirus cases on Thursday.

 

DeWitt County reported 15 new cases in Clinton, 2 in Farmer City, and one each in Kenney and Wapella. 

 

Piatt County reported 10 new cases in Monticello and 3 in Cerro Gordo.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 1165 cases; Piatt County has had a total of 1215 cases.  

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director David Remmert indicated in a release, "We are receiving numerous calls and emails regarding vaccinations.  We will continue to alert the public as additional priorities are announced but it is expected that we will be able to move into 1B priority groups within 2 weeks.  The 1B priority group includes those aged 65 or older and 'Essential Workforce'. Only these groups are eligible for receiving vaccination at this time. We will be utilizing local media, our Facebook page, and our website to announce a SignUpGenius page you can go to in order to schedule your appointment for these community clinics.  At that time, we will also announce a secondary phone number for those without internet access to call for an appointment."

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Clinton Monical's Supporting The Vault on Monday Nights

If you eat Monical's Pizza in Clinton Monday nights, you'll also be supporting a Clinton non-profit.

 

The Vault and Monical's have teamed up on Monday nights where Monical's is donating half of their Monday night profits to support the youth center on the Clinton Square. Executive Director Tammy Wilson says it is an incredible blessing to have their support.

 

 

The Vault has kicked off their annual 'High Five' fundraising campaign. According to Wilson, the campaign seeks community members to come alongside them in support of their mission to serve the community's youth.

 

 

Learn more about The Vault by visiting thevaultclinton.org.

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Illinois Corn Growers Association on Final Yield Report

The USDA released its final yield report this week and the executive director of the Illinois Corn Growers Association took a look at the numbers.

 

Rodney Weinzierl says the report showed two things…

 

 

According to the USDA, production was 2.13 billion bushels, up fifteen percent from 2019, making Illinois second to Iowa.

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Weekly Weather Summary

A light snow ushered in the weekend in parts of central Illinois. State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us what's ahead this weekend and this coming week.

 

 

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Senate Votes to Let Election Authorities Make Voting Drop Boxes Permanent

BALLOT DROP OFF BOXES MAY BECOME A PERMANENT FIXTURE IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THE ILLINOIS SENATE APPROVED A BILL TUESDAY NIGHT THAT LETS LOCAL ELECTION AUTHORITIES CONTINUE TO USE THE VOTER DROP OFF BOXES THAT WORKED SO WELL IN NOVEMBER SAYS SENATOR JULIE MORRISON OF LAKE FOREST.

 

 

SENATOR DALE RIGHTER OF MATTOON EXPRESSED CONCERNS ABOUT ELECTION SECURITY AND MAKING SURE NO ONE CASTS A BALLOT AFTER THE POLLS CLOSE.

 

 

THE MEASURE ALSO ALLOWS LOCAL ELECTIONS OFFICIALS TO OFFER CURBSIDE VOTING AND REQUIRES THEM TO ACCEPT MAIL-IN BALLOTS EVEN IF THEY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH POSTAGE. IT NOW GOES TO THE HOUSE.

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State Police Monitoring Possible Events at Capitol This Weekend

THE STATE POLICE IS TRACKING POSSIBLE EVENTS AT THE ILLINOIS CAPITOL THIS WEEKEND.

 

THE F-B-I HAS ISSUED WARNINGS ABOUT POTENTIAL ARMED PROTESTS AT ALL 50 OF THE NATION’S CAPITOLS. GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HE CAN’T DISCUSS THE SPECIFICS OF SECURITY PRECAUTIONS BEING TAKEN, BUT THAT THE I-S-P IS WELL AWARE OF THE SITUATION.

 

 

THE STATE POLICE SAY THEY WILL WORK WITH LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND HAVE ALL AVAILABLE RESOURCES AT THEIR DISPOSAL. THE F-B-I SAYS PROTESTS MAY BE HELD IN THE DAYS LEADING UP TO THE INAUGURATION OF PRESIDENT ELECT JOE BIDEN.

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Congressman Kinzinger Says His Vote to Impeach Trump Will Cost Him

Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger says his vote to impeach Pres. Trump isn’t about positioning himself for his own political future. He's sure that when Democrats redraw the Congressional districts before the next election, they won't be thinking about being nice to a Republican who went against Trump. He says it will cost him the support of other Republicans who are loyal to Trump. He says some of his friends stopped associating with him over his criticism of Trump, and some people he’s related to want to disown him.

 

 

Kinzinger says his decision on impeachment came down to asking: if impeachment isn’t warranted when the executive branch foments an attack on the legislative branch, when is it? House Republicans who voted to impeach numbered just ten on Wednesday.

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Southern Illinois Senator Critical of New Speaker

Terri Bryant was sworn into her new office as the State Senator for the 58th District of Illinois on Wednesday. Near the same time, a new Speaker of the House was being elected to replace Michael Madigan.

 

On the eve of Chris Welch’s election to Illinois House speaker, media reports highlighted allegations against Welch made by women. Senator Bryant says she hopes Welch will be a more bipartisan ally during his time in that seat like he was when the two worked together on a higher education committee. However, Bryant had some strong words against the newly elected speaker.

 

 

State Rep. Madigan, had his office as speaker rocked with allegations of mistreatment of women both at the statehouse and within his political operations during the peak of the #MeToo movement. Madigan had maintained despite the repeated reports of improper behavior in his office, he never fostered a culture of harassment.

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Clinton Fashion Store Owner Relocates

A Clinton business owner has relocated and a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday morning to celebrate the new location.

 

Grace Rodriguez owns Grace La Boutique and recently relocated to 213 East Main Street, just a few storefronts from her location she opened last year. She says her business started online and she has since opened a brick and mortar location offering fashions you won't find in the typical department stores for women of all sizes. 

 

 

Visit gracelaboutique2021.square.site or you can find 'Grace La Boutique' on Facebook. You can also call 217-871-5578. The store offers curbside pick up and delivery. 

 

The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5:30 pm and Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm. 

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DeWitt County Sheriff Pens Letter to Community Regarding Lameduck Legislative Measures

In light of the expansive law enforcement and criminal justice reform bill passed in Springfield this week, a local law enforcement official is reaching out to the community regarding this action described as an increase in the financial burden of the local taxpayer.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker in his letter assures citizens they will continue to provide the quality and professional service they have always strived to provide.

 

The bill was modified at the last minute, going from a 600-some page document to over 750 pages, and was voted on just hours later. Additionally, law enforcement had no input on the proposal, despite efforts from the Illinois Sheriff's Association and other law enforcement groups working with the Attorney General in a good faith effort to reform law enforcement in Illinois.

 

Sheriff Walker says sponsors of the bill were unable to answer questions regarding discrepancies and contradictions 

 

It is the Sheriff's opinion, as well as the opinion of many law enforcement officials’ across the state that this bill will make communities less safe and the unfunded mandates that are included in this legislation will also increase the financial burden of our local taxpayers. 

 

The Sheriff's message can be read here in its entirety.

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'Central Illinois Outdoors' To Debut This Week

'Central Illinois Outdoors with Jared White' debuts this weekend.

 

If you enjoy the great outdoors in the form of hunting, fishing, or just simply hiking through a nice nature preserve, this show is for you. White plans to talk to hunters, fisherman, guides, DNR officials, and much, much more.

 

 

The program will reach all over Illinois. If you can't catch the show live, you catch the show in podcast form on centralillinoisoutdoors.com. White has been excited about this show since it was just at the beginning of the planning stages. 

 

 

Again, catch the show on Sunday mornings at 8 am on WHOW and its many online platforms, on WTIM and its online platforms on Saturdays at 10 am, and The Winner 96.5 FM and thewinner965.com on Sundays at 8 am. 

 

More about the show is available at centralillinoisoutdoors.com. 

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IDPH Now Posting COVID Vaccine Data to Agency Website

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IS NOW REPORTING THE LATEST COVID-19 VACCINE INFORMATION ON THE AGENCY’S WEBSITE. 

 

RECENT VACCINE DATA IS POSTED ON THE DPH DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV WEBPAGE, SHOWING HOW MANY DOSES ILLINOIS HAS RECEIVED AND HOW MANY HAVE BEEN ADMINISTERED. IT’S A GOOD RESOURCE SAYS GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS YOU CAN SEE HOW MANY DOSES ILLINOIS HAS RECEIVED AND HOW MANY HAVE BEEN ADMINISTERED, ALTHOUGH THERE WILL BE A LITTLE LAG TIME WHEN IT COMES TO REPORTING WHEN A SHOT WAS GIVEN.

 

 

TO DATE…NEARLY 354 THOUSAND DOSES HAVE BEEN ADMINISTERED IN ILLINOIS, WITH ABOUT 24 THO

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Illinois Soybean Summit to Meet Next Month

Last year's Illinois Soybean Summit was held in-person, but that won't be the case this year.

 

Doug Schroeder, chairman of the Illinois Soybean Association, says while this year’s summit will be held virtually, it will still feature soybean experts and the latest in soybean agronomy.

 

 

Registration is online at ilsoyadvisor.com.

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Illinois Sheriff's Association Blasts Police Reform Bill

A controversial criminal justice reform bill has passed both chambers of the Illinois legislature. House Bill 3653, formerly the over 600 page House Bill 163, was delivered to lawmakers around 3am Wednesday and comprised of over 764 pages. 

 

The new bill, among many things, would eliminate cash bail, require body cameras for all departments, reforms qualified immunity for law enforcement officers, and changes police misconduct record keeping. Many law enforcement groups and Republican leaders have voiced strong opposition to the bill. 

 

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard is also a member of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association Legislative Committee. He says there was a coalition comprised of police management groups and police union groups who had been working in good faith with the Attorney General on a bipartisan bill that would make great strides to modernize law enforcement before this new bill was brought on and eventually passed.

 

 

The bill passed 32-23 in the Senate and 60-50 in the House just before 5am and now heads to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk for approval.

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Economic Equity Package Heads to Governor

A PACKAGE OF BILLS DESIGNED TO REDUCE ECONOMIC DISPARITIES IN MINORITY COMMUNITIES IS HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK. 

 

THE MEASURES CAP THE INTEREST RATE FOR PAYDAY AND CAR TITLE LOANS AT 36 PERCENT, AND REQUIRE MORE DIVERSITY IN AWARDING STATE CONTRACTS. EMPLOYERS WON'T BE ABLE TO TURN SOMEONE DOWN FOR A JOB OR A PROMOTION SOLEY BASED ON THEIR CRIMINAL RECORD SAYS REPRESENTATIVE SONYA HARPER OF CHICAGO.

 

 

HARPER SAYS THAT'S ESPECIALLY TRUE FOR MINORITIES. 

 

 

OTHER COMPONETS ADDRESS THE WAGE GAP FOR BLACK WOMEN AND HOUSING FOR THOSE WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD.

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Illinois Senate President Harmon Lays Out Priorities

The 102nd General Assembly was sworn in Wednesday with Don Harmon being reelected

as President of the Illinois Senate. Harmon promised to continue delivering results for the

people of Illinois and calling on the Senate to focus on jobs and justice. Senator Harmon

vowed to continue working forward through the pandemic.

 

 

Senator Harmon wants to continue to foster an environment where people can have jobs

and justice for all with fundamental fairness.

 

 

Senator Harmon says at the end of the day every Senator is different but they all need to

work together for Illinois.

 

 

Harmon’s term as president which is his first full term, runs for two years. Chris Welch

was also appointed as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He replaces Michael

Madigan who had previously held that position for 50 years.

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Monticello Schools Exploring E-Sports

E-sports could be coming to a Piatt County school district soon.

 

Monticello Schools are exploring introducing e-sports to their students. Athletic Director Dan Sheehan says it's uncharted territory for him but his students have expressed interest in getting this started and he's willing to explore it and see where it goes.

 

 

E-sports is growing in popularity across the country. Sheehan indicates their kids are going to be able to compete with other Illinois e-sports competitors.

 

 

If it wasn't for COVID, perhaps this opportunity wouldn't have become an option at Monticello. Sheehan explains the effort to get this going has been led by some of their student-athletes, and he anticipates there is perhaps more students that might be interested in this opportunity.

 

 

E-sports recently became an IHSA sanctioned activity in Illinois. 

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The Vault Hoping To Develop Better Connections With Kids and Their Families in '21

With a new year upon us, a DeWitt County non-profit is aiming to have a bigger impact in 2021.

 

The Vault in Clinton is a youth-focused organization that seeks to have a positive impact on the lives of the youth of our community. Executive Director Tammy Wilson on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday told Regional Radio News their goal is to better connect with the kids and their families this year.

 

 

According to Wilson, helping their students has recently led them to network with organizations like First Christian Church in Clinton and the Neighborhood Care  Center.

 

 

While The Vault is very good at getting kids to their building and offering them programs and support, Wilson hopes to get connected at a deeper level.

 

 

Wilson indicates they continue to see their kids struggling through this pandemic and the ups-and-downs of the school year. While you would think the kids with good grades and a good support system at home are doing well, she says that isn't always the case.

 

 

Wilson says kids are struggling because they don't get to see their friends as often as they would normally. She is excited about some new programs they are working on to support the youth during this time.

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Getting Plenty of Exercise, Portion Control Among Keys to Getting Healthy in 2021

Earlier this week, Monica Nyman at the St. Louis District Dairy Council offered us some preliminary things to begin changing our habits in hopes of a healthier 2021.

 

Weight gain among Americans was very prominent during the COVID pandemic as Americans were home more than ever before for many. Nyman tells us getting regular exercise and limiting high-calorie foods will go a long way in establishing a healthy lifestyle in 2021.

 

 

Eating in moderation is among Nyman's high-points to healthy living. She explains in today's society, overindulgence is a problem that carries into our health. One way to combat this challenge is to meal plan. 

 

 

If your diet is basic and not in need of major overhauls, Nyman says to focus on those nutrient-rich foods and not to forget dairy in your diet. She points out dairy pairs well with the other four food groups.

 

 

If overhauling your diet applies to you, Nyman encourages starting with small changes. She encourages setting goals that are small and measurable and building on those once you have mastered them.

 

 

A wealth of healthy tips, recipes, and dairy information is available at stldairycouncil.org. You can follow the Dairy Council on Facebook and Instagram. You can also reach out via email to info@stldairycouncil.org. 

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Rep. Caulkins Sounds Off On Police Reform Bill

The Illinois House Democrats passed a massive criminal justice overhaul bill in the waning moments of the 101st General Assembly Wednesday. 

 

The legislation contains cuts to public safety budgets while opening up officers to punishment and personal liability for unsubstantiated or unverifiable complaints. However, perhaps its worst component, it allows many potentially violent felons to avoid being held in custody. State Representative Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) called the whole process “shameful.”

 

 

Also aggravating to the House Republicans was the fact they were unable to pose questions to the bill’s sponsor, the debate was cut off, and a vote was taken when it was convenient for the majority party to receive the needed votes for the bill to pass.

 

House Bill 3653 passed by a slim margin of 60-50 votes after only being compiled in the middle of the night.

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Rep. Brady Calls Police Reform Bill 'Reprehensible'

The Illinois House Democrats passed a massive criminal justice overhaul bill in the waning moments of the 101st General Assembly Wednesday. 

 

The legislation contains cuts to public safety budgets while opening up officers to punishment and personal liability for unsubstantiated or unverifiable complaints. However, perhaps its worst component, it allows many potentially violent felons to avoid being held in custody. State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington called what was done was reprehensible.

 

 

Also aggravating to the House Republicans was the fact they were unable to pose questions to the bill’s sponsor, the debate was cut off, and a vote was taken when it was convenient for the majority party to receive the needed votes for the bill to pass.

 

 

House Bill 3653 passed by a slim margin of 60-50 votes after only being compiled in the middle of the night.   

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Illinois House Approves Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement Reform Bill

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS HAVE APPROVED AN EXPANSIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND POLICE REFORM BILL. 

 

THE MEASURE ESTABLISHES STATEWIDE USE OF FORCE STANDARDS AND BANS CERTAIN TECHNIQUES. IT EVENTUALLY MANDATES THE USE OF BODY CAMERAS, LETS SUSPECTS IN CUSTODY MAKE THREE PHONE CALLS AND ENDS CASH BAIL. IT’S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE JUSTIN SLAUGHTER OF CHICAGO.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK WINDHORST OF METROPOLIS VOTED AGAINST THE MEASURE, SAYING IT WILL DECREASE PUBLIC SAFETY.

 

 

UNLIKE PREVIOUS VERSIONS THE LEGISLATION DOES NOT REMOVE QUALIFIED IMMUNITY FOR POLICE OFFICERS BUT DOES CREATE A TASK FORCE TO STUDY THE ISSUE. IT NOW GOES TO THE GOVERNOR’S DESK.

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Durkin to Remain House Minority Leader

The GOP elects Jim Durkin again as the House minority leader. Durkin says he’s going to extend an olive branch to the new Speaker of the House Chris Welch so they can work together on issues important to Illinois. But Durkin didn’t miss his chance to take a few last swipes at the outgoing Madigan.

 

 

Durkin adds that it’s now time to hit the reset button on Illinois politics and begin working to let businesses thrive and grow the economy.

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Chris Welch Dubbed New Illinois House Speaker

The longest-serving legislative leader in the history of the United States has been replaced.

 

Michael Madigan is no longer the Speaker of the House in Illinois. Chris Welch was elected today as Speaker of the House. The Westchester Democrat received 70 votes to be elected to the position. Welch told assembled lawmakers that he wants unity across party lines to be able to improve Illinois.

 

 

He becomes the first black speaker of the house in the history of the state. Thinking of that moment, Welch says he’s awestruck.

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Warner Library Getting Creative in Serving the Community

Libraries across the country are getting creative in how they serve their communities.

 

For the Warner Library in Clinton, they have turned to curbside services to allow their patrons to continue to have access to materials and 'grab-n-go' kits, Director Bobbi Perryman says it's been about finding new ways to offer traditional services. 

 

 

As libraries navigate these uncharted waters, Perryman notes the library community is a very tightly knit network and they are always willing to share ideas.

 

 

Librarians are very passionate individuals who care about their patrons and their communities. Perryman indicates this time has brought on a lot of frustration because the ability of our libraries to serve the community is very limited right now.

 

 

New grab ‘n go craft kit became available for pickup beginning Monday. The free kit will include supplies and instructions to make a Winter Snow Votive craft. Kits are available while supplies last. One per person. The suggested age is 8-and-up. 

 

Current library hours are Monday-Thursday from 10:00am-7:00pm and Friday-Saturday from 10:00am-3:00pm. More information and a full list of services are available online at www.vwarner.org or by calling 217-935-5174.

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Central Illinois CEO Students Hosting Drive-In Bingo Later This Month

COVID has created challenges across the board in our world today and that includes young people trying to learn the ins-and-outs of business.

 

The Central Illinois CEO program aims to introduce high school students to the basics of business and allow them to get hands-on learning experience. Part of that experience is to create their own business and this year's group is hosting a drive-in bingo at the Clintonia Eagle Theater on Sunday, January 31.

 

 

That's Emma Culbertson from Clinton High School who was joined by her classmates on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday. 

 

Emma Cook from Warrensburg-Latham High School says they have worked closely with the Health Department to make this a COVID-friendly event. She indicates COVID has forced them to get creative and adapt this year.

 

 

If you are an Instagram user, the students have created an Instagram account for their event. CICEO.bingo highlights the planning of the event promotes it as well. You can also learn more about the January 31 bingo event and more about the Central Illinois CEO program by visiting their website, centralillinoisceo.com. 

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Monticello Schools Wrapping Up First Semester This Week; Superintendent Praises Teachers and Staff

Thanks to a late start to the school year due to construction, Monticello students will be wrapping up the first semester later this week and their leader is praising the work of their teachers, staff, and students for making the first semester a success.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman indicates the first semester concludes at the end of the week. As they turn the page to the new semester next week, it looks forward to adding to their 85-percent in-person learning population.

 

 

As schools resume learning out of the Christmas break, many took an adaptive pause of in-person learning, decisions made well in advance of Christmas break. Dr. Zimmerman says that decision wasn't something he felt worked for their district given the COVID situation in their communities.

 

 

The recent COVID vaccine developments are providing a light at the end of the tunnel according to Dr. Zimmerman. He gives a lot of credit to their teachers, staff, and administration for making this school year work through all the challenges.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman continues to report there has been zero spread of the virus in the schools. He says his peers across the state that have been open all year are not seeing in-school spread either. 

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Rep. Brady Says Illinois Could Soon Have New Speaker

According to one Illinois lawmaker, there could soon be a new Speaker of the House of Representatives in Illinois.

 

On Monday, longtime Speaker Michael Madigan said in a statement his announcement to suspend his campaign but said he is "not withdrawing" his name. However, Dan Brady, who represents the 105th District, said the cracks are beginning to widen after a straw poll of legislators showed Madigan fell short of the 60 votes needed to be reelected Speaker.

 

 

Madigan fell short of the 60 votes need to be reelected mostly because of an investigation of a federal bribery scheme that's implicated him.

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Meteorological Winter Approaching Halfway Point

Meteorological winter is nearing the halfway point. It’s been above normal temps and below-normal precip says Freese-Notis meteorologist Dan Hicks.

 

 

Meteorological winter runs December through February.

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Commodities a Big Run Tuesday

A big runup on the Chicago Board of Trade on Tuesday with double-digit gains in the corn, bean, and wheat market. AgriVisor market analyst Karl Setzer says trade was reacting to supply and demand estimates and final production reports.

 

 

Front-month contracts in corn were up 25 cents Tuesday with the March bean contract up 47-and-a-half cents and March wheat trade ended the day up 30-and-a-quarter cents.

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2020 Weather in Illinois Was Warmer, Wetter Than Usual

2020 WAS WARMER AND WETTER THAN AVERAGE IN ILLINOIS.

 

STATEWIDE TOTAL PRECIPITATION WAS NEARLY 42 INCHES LAST YEAR. THAT’S MORE THAN FOUR INCHES ABOVE NORMAL AND MAKES LAST YEAR THE 23RD WETTEST ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD SAYS 2020 STARTED OFF WET ACROSS ILLINOIS AND A FEW AREAS SAW SOME WINTER DOWNPOURS.

 

 

MOST OF THE STATE GOT OFF TO A WET START IN 2020, AND CHICAGO WAS ESPECIALLY RAINY IN MAY.

 

 

THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR WAS MUCH DRIER, ESPECIALLY IN NORTHERN AND CENTRAL ILLINOIS. 2020 WAS THE 21ST WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD, WITH TEMPERATURES CLOSE TO TWO DEGREES ABOVE AVERAGE.

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Clinton Schools Leader Concerned About COVID Situation in District

Kids are less than two weeks back from Christmas break and the COVID situation is beginning to become an issue that could require action soon.

 

That's the message from Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles who, in a letter to families Tuesday, says they are watching the numbers of not only cases but close contacts who have to quarantine and indicates they are becoming concerned about staffing in their buildings.

 

 

While the overall post-Christmas and post-New Year's spike hasn't happened yet statewide, Nettles is imploring the community to continue to be diligent in the precautions to take to allow them to stay in school.

 

 

While many in the community want an exact figure of cases or students quarantined to be established before the district goes to remote learning, Nettles has been hesitant to make those types of declarations. He also notes this situation is different because when staff is involved, it becomes a matter of if the district can continue to operate with certain staff members in quarantine.

 

 

Nettles plans to continue to be in communication with the community as it relates to any decisions about school buildings closing down or things like that. He also notes on Friday, a new update will be released regarding COVID in the schools.

 

Nettles continues to be thankful for the encouragement and support he receives from the community and the positivity they are showing as the district navigates the pandemic into the second semester. 

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Sen. Rose Talks Lame Duck Session Lack of Action

A central Illinois lawmaker is disappointed by what is not happening in Springfield this week as opposed to what is happening.

 

Education and law enforcement reform have many concerned in Illinois but State Senator Chapin Rose says there are issues not being brought up in Illinois that he is disappointed are being swept under the rug.

 

 

According to Sen. Rose, the focus on education and law enforcement reform is out of control and he says this is typical of a lame-duck session in Illinois.

 

 

Lawmakers are considering a police reform bill that has many in law enforcement speaking out about the negative impacts it could have on local communities. 

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DNR Officials Discuss Recent Agreement With USDA Forest Service

Last week, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service signed an Agreement for Shared Stewardship, strengthening their commitment to collaborative land management efforts throughout the state.

 

According to DNR Deputy Director Rachel Torbert, the agreement establishes a framework to allow the state and the Forest Service to work collaboratively on forest management, accomplishing mutual goals, furthering common interests, and effectively responding to the increasing suite of challenges facing the communities, landscapes and natural resources in Illinois. 

 

 

The federal, state and private land managers in Illinois face a range of urgent challenges, among them catastrophic storms, droughts, flooding, insect and disease outbreaks, invasive species, and increasing use from the public. DNR Conservation Police Captain John Williamson indicates he worked closely with this program when he was a young officer in southern Illinois and says the goal is to meet these challenges with proactive measures across all lands.

 

 

In a statement last week, Illinois DNR points out healthy forests provide clean air and water, diverse plant and animal habitat, and support strong and resilient communities. 

 

Additionally, through working together, developing joint priorities, and using collective authorities, the state and the Forest Service can be sure that the scale of the work will match the scale of the challenge.

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Mild Temperatures Coming to Illinois This Week

Moderate and mild temperatures will be the rule this week in Illinois. And also a pretty quiet weather pattern.

 

 

That’s meteorologist Peter Speck with the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities. He spoke with the RFD Radio Network Monday morning.

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VA Discusses Vaccine Rates at Veteran Homes

At three of the state’s veterans homes, more than 90% of the residents have received COVID-19 vaccines. At the LaSalle home, it’s just 75%. Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff Tony Kolbeck says there are good reasons for the lower percentage ironically relating to the outbreak the vaccines are aimed at stopping.

 

 

Kolbeck answered questions at an Illinois House Civil Judiciary Committee hearing today. He said the resident vaccination rates are 75% at LaSalle, 94.7% at Quincy, 92.3% at Manteno, and 94% at Anna. Staff at the veterans home in LaSalle have the highest vaccination rate among the four homes at 48.2%. At Quincy the rate is 35.8%, at Manteno it’s 20.3%, and at Anna it’s 42.5%.

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Lawmakers Pass Reforms to Combat Racism, Inequities in Education

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE APPROVING A MASSIVE REFORM BILL DESIGNED TO ADDRESS RACISM AND INEQUITIES IN THE STATE’S EDUCATION SYSTEM. 

 

THE LEGISLATION APPROACHES THE PROBLEM FROM SEVERAL ANGLES…SUCH AS KINDERGARTEN READINESS AND A LACK OF ADVANCED PLACEMENT CLASSES IN POORER SCHOOL DISTRICTS. SENATOR KIMBERLY LIGHTFORD SAYS THEY ALSO WANT TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN MORE MINORITY TEACHERS, ESPECIALLY MALE TEACHERS.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE C-D DAVIDSMEYER OF JACKSONVILLE SAYS HE SUPPORTS IMPROVING EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS, BUT WONDERS HOW THE STATE IS GOING TO PAY FOR THIS.

 

 

THE BILL ALSO EVENTUALLY REQUIRES TWO YEARS OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND TWO YEARS OF LAB SCIENCE TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL…AND CREATES FREEDOM SCHOOL PROGRAMS TO OFFER STUDENTS ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN ABOUT LEADERSHIP AND CIVIL RIGHTS. IT'S NOW UP TO THE GOVERNOR TO SIGN IT INTO LAW.

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Governor Discusses Speaker

On Monday the Speaker of the House – Mike Madigan announced that he was suspending his campaign for Speaker – that is not to be considered a total with-drawl from running.

 

He’s on pause to see if House Democrats can find a lawmaker to back with 60 votes.

 

Governor JB Pritzker says it’s the house’s responsibility to select who will lead.

 

 

House Democrat Kelly Cassidy says in a statement “The Speakers’ decision to suspend his campaign is an opportunity for us to come together as Democrats and carve a new path forward.”

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Illinois VA Director Resigns

Some people called on Linda Chapa LaVia to resign as the director of the Illinois Dept. of Veterans Affairs because of the coronavirus outbreak at the LaSalle veteran's home. She did after a House Civil Judiciary Committee hearing this morning. Someone on the committee asked if the pressure’s getting to her. Chapa LaVia didn't give any indication in her reply that it was. She said some people are fully supporting her.

 

 

The coronavirus outbreak has claimed 36 veterans’ lives at the LaSalle home. Chapa LaVia says Illinois veteran's homes avoided COVID-19 for a long time and scrambled to deal with it when it got in. LaVia said given the infection rates in the community around the veteran's home, it was just a matter of time before someone on the staff brought the coronavirus into the veteran's home despite efforts to keep it out. She says the staff treat the residents like family and still cry over the deaths.

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COVID Vaccine Rollout Continues

As the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out continues worldwide to prevent the virus from spreading, an Illinois doctor says there is still a slim chance a person can get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated.

 

Statistically speaking, people have around a 5% chance of getting COVID-19 after being vaccinated, according to OSF General Surgeon Dr. John Wieland of Bloomington.

 

 

Weiland says the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which has yet to be approved in the United States, has more "game-changing" messenger RNA technology than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

 

According to Bloomberg, more than 26 million doses of the COVID vaccine in 43 countries have been administered.

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Social Security Discusses Recent Changes to Hearings Process During COVID

Social Security is highlighting to the public some changes regarding the hearings process during COVID.

 

Hearings were temporarily closed in March of last year due to the COVID pandemic and recently the agency announced how they would be proceeding forward with those hearings. Jack Myers with Social Security indicates they are now offering telephone or online video hearings.

 

 

According to Myers, neither hearing option is mandatory and any hearing can be postponed until in-person hearings are available again. He says other than the interaction going virtual, there is no difference in the hearings.

 

 

If you wish to take advantage of the hearing, access to the internet, a device with a camera and speaker is required. Myers notes, if you've declined a telephone hearing in the past, Social Security will likely be reaching back to you about taking advantage of the new video option.


 

 

Get more information about the video hearing option at www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_options.html . 

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DeWitt County Friendship Director Talks Latest at Their Facility

Seniors are scared of COVID and that has drastically reduced the number of people coming out to the DeWitt County Friendship Center.

 

That is the message from Director Paula Jiles who told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Monday she doesn't know what the turning point was but it happened around October when they started to see the crowds scale back.

 

 

The Friendship Center continues to operate and make itself available to area seniors. Jiles says they are requiring masks, sanitizing regularly, and have their tables and chairs spaced appropriately.

 

 

According to Jiles, daily activities are going on as scheduled. She is hopeful support groups and other free services offered by area groups will also return soon. She is waiting for guidance from the Governor's office on Friday about what things can reopen and return.

 

 

Jiles is taking small groups of seniors to Walmart in Lincoln twice a month. They will also be headed to Arthur this week for dining and shopping. 

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Clinton Chamber of Commerce To Hold Two Golf Outings 2021, Beginning Raffle Now

2020 forced the Clinton Chamber of Commerce to adjust their annual golf outing and postpone the event to late September.

 

This year's event was on a clear day with temperatures ideal for anyone. Executive Director Marian Brisard told Regional Radio News Friday that has led their leadership to try two golf outings this year.

 

 

The Clinton Chamber has also begun their annual raffle fundraiser early this year. According to Brisard, their raffle this year is three meat bundles that can be used at Clinton retailers.

 

 

The winner of the raffle will be announced at the September golf outing. 

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St. Louis District Dairy Council Discusses Creating Healthier Habits in 2021

2020 was a very unique year and the physical health of a lot of people deteriorated during that time.

 

Boston-based Gelesis found at least 71-million Americans gained weight during the coronavirus pandemic and over 50-percent of people surveyed say they feel depressed by how they look. Monica Nyman with the St. Louis District Dairy Council says it's not surprising many lived out the 'quarantine 15' or 'COVID curves' this year.

 

 

Nyman says an evaluation of our habits is a good place to start in changing. She explains a food journal is a good way to keep track of some of the things we're doing that could be changed. At the same time, she encourages us to also make note of the good things we're doing. 

 

 

According to Nyman, evaluating our eating patterns should include making sure all the food groups are represented in our meals. She points out fruit and vegetables along with dairy should be part of our meals and we need to limit those empty carbs.

 

 

If eating healthier and embarking on a more active lifestyle sounds daunting or overwhelming, you are not alone in those feelings. Later this week on Regional Radio News, we'll hear more from Nyman on steps to take to begin that journey that will slowly integrate better eating more activity into our daily routines. 

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Legislation Would Let Election Authorities Make Ballot Drop-Off Boxes Permanent

NEW LEGISLATION ENCOURAGES THE CONTINUED USE OF BALLOT DROP-OFF BOXES. 

 

THE MEASURE LETS LOCAL ELECTION AUTHORITIES MAKE THE DROP-OFF BOXES USED IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTION AMIDST THE PANDEMIC, PERMANENT. SUPPORTERS SAYS THIS PROVIDES A SAFE WAY FOR VOTERS TO CAST A BALLOT AND SHOULD BE EXTENDED. AT A WEEKEND HEARING, SENATOR BILL CUNNINGHAM OF CHICAGO ANSWERED A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT ENSURING ELECTION INTEGRITY.

 

 

SENATOR SUE REZIN OF MORRIS EXPRESSED A FEW CONCERNS.

 

 

THE BILL ALSO ALLOWS FOR CURBSIDE VOTING.

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Local Coronavirus Update

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reported 67 new coronavirus cases earlier this week.

 

On Wednesday in DeWitt County, 15 cases were reported in Clinton, 4 in Farmer City, and one in Kenney. Piatt County reported 7 in Monticello, 3 in Cerro Gordo, 3 in Bement, one in Mansfield, and one in White Heath.

 

Thursday DeWitt County reported 19 cases in Clinton, 3 in Kenney, 2 in Wapella, and one in Lane. Piatt County reported 6 in Monticello and one in Bement.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 1073 cases; Piatt County has had a total of 1159 cases.

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Corn Belt Energy Winter Storm Outages Have Been Restored

Corn Belt Energy announced Friday that power to all members in the Corn Belt Energy service territory had been restored after winter weather caused outages over the past week.

 

Don Taylor, Corn Belt Energy President and CEO, indicated "heavy ice and snow caused extensive damage within Corn Belt Energy's service territory over the course of several days including many broken poles, broken cross arms, a large number of downed power lines, and extensive tree damage."

 

Corn Belt Energy urges members to call 1-800-879-0339 to report power outages, partial power, and downed lines or poles.

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Family Video to Close Its Doors

Clinton's Family Video is among a nationwide closure of the movie rental business.

 

In an email to customers late Wednesday, the impacts of COVID not only impacted the store's foot traffic but a lack of movie releases during the pandemic contributed to the store's decline in 2020.

 

Clinton's Family Video has a liquidation sale going on now. 

 

No date for the final day of business has been announced. 

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Macon County Farm Bureau Announces Scholarships for 2021

It is Scholarship Season and the Macon County Farm Bureau recently announced their scholarships available for 2021.  

 

Members and their children majoring in an agricultural-related field may apply for a variety of scholarships offered this year.  Scholarship applications are available on MaconCFB.org and must be postmarked by March 1.

 

Contact the Macon County Farm Bureau office with questions via email, jennifer@maconcfb.org or call 217-877-2436. 

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National Weather Services Discusses NFL Playoffs and Snow Possibilities

It's NFL playoff time and the National Weather Service says there are a lot of areas of the country that will be hosting playoff games with good possibilities for snow.

 

While each individual city's weather forecasts are not on his radar, Chris Miller, who himself is a big football fan, says this is the time of year prime for snowfall in places like Buffalo, Green Bay, and Kansas City, just to name a few.

 

 

Round 1 of the playoffs opens this weekend with Buffalo hosting Indianapolis. Los Angeles is in Seattle and Tampa Bay takes on Washington in Landover, MD. None of those games on Saturday are calling for snow at this time with temperatures in the northeast in the 30s.

 

Sunday games include Tennessee hosting Baltimore, Chicago is in New Orleans and Cleveland travels to Pittsburg. None of those games are calling for snow either.

 

All in all, the weather should not be a factor for this weekend's games. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

The new year was rung in with a weekend of nasty weather in Illinois. Freezing rain followed by several inches of snow brought all sorts of problems to central Illinois. State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us what's in store for the weekend and the week ahead. 

 

 

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August Derecho Biggest Weather Story of 2020

What was the biggest ag weather story of 2020? The August derecho tops the list for DTN Chief Agriculture Meteorologist Bryce Anderson.

 

 

The derecho occurred on August 10 with the highest recorded wind at 106 mph at the Marshalltown, Iowa airport.

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University of Illinois Extension Nutrition Educator Discusses Healthy Habits for 2021

If a New Year's Resolution for you was centered on being healthier in 2021, you are not alone and for many, that resolution falls short very quickly.

 

Caitlin Mellendorf with the University of Illinois Extension office indicates setting a 'SMART' goal helps us set more specific goals to get to their goals of weight loss or regular exercise.

 

 

Mellendorf encourages having a partner to go with us on this journey. She says that can be a friend, a spouse, or even hiring a personal trainer or dietician. They can be a great resource in this journey.

 

 

As we embark on your journey of wellness, Mellendorf says don't do too much at once. Additionally, we're going to stumble along the way and she encourages us not to get discouraged but to start fresh the next day and continue working towards those goals.

 

 

Mellendorf offers a blog at the University of Illinois Extension website with lots of healthy recipes and health tips. You can find it at go.illinois.edu/dmp. 

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COVID Cases in Illinois Surpass One-Million

COVID-19 CASES IN ILLINOIS NOW TOP ONE MILLION.

 

WITH THE MOST RECENT ADDITION OF MORE THAN 87-HUNDRED NEW CASES, ILLINOIS NOW HAS HAD ONE MILLION EIGHT THOUSAND 45 CASES OF COVID INFECTION SINCE THE PANDEMIC BEGAN EARLY LAST YEAR. STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS IT’S IMPORTANT THAT EVERYONE CONTINUES TO WEAR A MASK, WASH HANDS FREQUENTLY AND AVOID LARGE GATHERINGS.

 

 

DOCTOR EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) ASKS EVERYONE TO CONTINUE DOING THEIR PART TO SLOW TRANSMISSION.

 

 

ALTHOUGH MOST COVID PATIENTS HAVE RECOVERED, THE STATE HAS LOST MORE THAN 17 THOUSAND PEOPLE TO THE VIRUS.

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Springfield Considering Drastic Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice Measures

Lawmakers will be taking up as soon as this weekend a bill that would have massive implications for the future of law enforcement and communities in Illinois.

 

A 600-plus page bill, House Bill 163 would, according to the Illinois Sheriff's Association, "eliminate law enforcement as we know it from every community in the state" to "invalidate constitutionally protected due process of officers".

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker tells Regional Radio News the two biggest pieces of the document that is 611 pages and was introduced on Tuesday of this week are allowing officers to be punished or fired based on anonymous and unsubstantiated or unverifiable complaints-no sworn affidavits and a mandate that those unsubstantiated and unverified complaints be kept to be used against officers forever, with no destruction and no limits on how they can be utilized to inflict harm on officers. The other piece is the elimination of qualified immunity for police.

 

 

The bill also calls for the elimination of charges for habitual criminals. According to the Sheriff, a citizen that continues to commit the same crimes often escalates their charges. He uses the example of a DUI as one of these types of crimes.

 

 

A smaller yet somewhat impactful piece of the bill is the elimination of the federal surplus program that allows law enforcement agencies to acquire decommissioned military equipment, something the Sheriff says is almost exclusively of no consequence to the public.

 

 

The Sheriff emphasizes this is not just a bill that impacts police officers and their departments but it also impacts the community. He explains there are a lot of provisions that would keep criminals out of jail and going right back on the streets to cause more harm and damage to Illinois communities.

 

 

Sheriff Walker has heard from one fellow sheriff that if this bill passes, he will leave the field. Sheriff Walker is also concerned about his own department who has officers who are highly educated that could easily find less stressful work.

 

 

The Illinois Sheriff's Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police have all opposed this bill which was put on Tuesday and will be taken up in committee Saturday. Sheriff Walker implores the public to look at this bill for themselves and contact their local lawmakers if they do not like it. 

 

He says this is not a Republican/Democrat issue but rather a right/wrong issue. 

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Discusses COVID Latest

Slight increases in COVID cases but overall things are leveling out.

 

That is what the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director says he is seeing with local COVID figures. Dave Remmert feels very good with where the two counties are at as it relates to COVID as DeWitt and Piatt Counties continue to compare favorably to other areas of the region. 

 

 

According to Remmert, testing is down across the state resulting in a decrease in cases. He also points out statewide death statistics are increasing leading him to believe it is starting to impacting the older and vulnerable populations again.

 

 

In their most recent update, Remmert indicates his office has received a lot of inquiries regarding COVID vaccines. He reminds the public there is a prioritization schedule set by the federal government on who gets vaccinated first, starting with frontline healthcare workers and long term care facility patients.

 

 

Wednesday, the staff at Warner Hospital in Clinton received the second of their two-dose vaccine, completing the second round of vaccinations in DeWitt County. 

 

Remmert anticipates when more vaccines get rolled out in another two or three weeks, those being open to more people. 

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DNR Officials Discuss Ice Safety

Whether you're looking to do some ice-fishing on Clinton Lake or traveling on untreated roadways, local authorities are reminding all residents of the dangers ice can bring. 

 

Conservation Police Captain John Williamson says fisherman looking to get on the ice of area bodies of water need to be very careful this time of the year. He says while ice may look like it is thick enough, you need to make sure before you get too far away from the shore.

 

 

According to Capt. Williamson, central Illinois bodies of water are not going to freeze up or stay frozen quite like lakes and ponds in the northern parts of the midwest. With that in mind, he says measuring the thickness of the ice is a good idea before doing any sort of fishing or skating.

 

 

According to DNR Deputy Director, Rachel Torbert, the snow and ice will also bring out the snowmobiles. While not exceedingly popular, there are circumstances of tragic accidents involving snowmobiles and she is encouraging a safe approach when riding those. 

 

 

Capt. Williamson says if you are seeking out the thickness of ice in a particular area near you, your local authorities are likely not going to know the answer to those questions as ice and its thickness is not something they monitor daily, which is why he is encouraging caution and safety when embarking on an icy area. 

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Sen. Duckworth Reacts to Wednesday Capitol Breach

As the US Capitol was stormed by a mob pro-Trump people US Senator Tammy Duckworth says she safely made it out of the Capitol.

 

Duckworth says she and the rest of the US Senate must return and continue their work to certify electoral college votes.

 

 

Duckworth making her comments Wednesday afternoon.

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Gov. Pritzker Says Some Regions of State May Be Able to Move Out of Tier 3 Mitigations Jan. 15

IF COVID-19 NUMBERS DON'T SPIKE, GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS REGIONS OF ILLINOIS MAY BE ABLE TO LIFT SOME MITIGATIONS COME JANUARY 15TH. 

 

THE STATE DIDN'T SEE A BIG INCREASE IN CASES AFTER THANKSGIVING, AND THE GOVERNOR SAYS THEY ARE HOPEFUL THAT TREND WILL HOLD NOW THAT CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR'S HAVE PASSED.

 

 

THOSE METRICS INCLUDE A TEST POSITIVITY RATE OF 12 PERCENT OF LESS FOR AT LEAST THREE DAYS IN A ROW. THE GOVERNOR URGES EVERYONE TO CONTINUE TO BE CAREFUL. THE STATE'S MASK MANDATE HAS BEEN EXTENDED ANOTHER 150 DAYS.

 

 

ON JANUARY 15TH, IF ANY OF THE STATE'S 11 REGIONS MEET CERTAIN METRICS LIKE DECLINCING HOSPITALIZATION AND TEST POSITIVITY RATES, GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THAT AREA CAN MOVE OUT OF TIER THREE. WHAT MITIGATIONS REMAIN WILL DEPEND ON THE NUMBERS.

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Gov. Pritzker Announces Next Phase of Vaccine Distribution

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS LOWERING THE AGE LIMIT FOR THE NEXT ROUND OF COVID VACCINATIONS TO 65. 

 

THE STATE IS CURRENTLY IN PHASE 1-A, WHERE HEALTH CARE WORKERS AND RESIDENTS AND STAFF OF LONG TERM CARE FACILITIES ARE GETTING THE SHOT. FOR ROUND 1-B, FRONT LINE WORKERS AND SENIORS 65 AND OLDER WILL BE VACCINATED, INSTEAD OF THE RECOMMENDED AGE 75 AND OLDER SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS ILLINOIS WILL INSTEAD VACCINATE PEOPLE 65 TO GIVE MORE SENIORS THE SHOT AND TO TARGET RACIAL DISPARITIES.

 

 

PHASE 1-B WILL VACCINATE MORE THAN THREE MILLION PEOPLE IN ILLINOIS. OVER 207 THOUSAND DOSES HAVE ALREADY BEEN ADMINISTERED.

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Congressman Kinzinger Criticizes Trump

As the US Capitol was stormed by pro-Trump protesters one Republican Congressman from Illinois was clear with his words.

 

Adam Kinzinger told NBC News, while isolating in an undisclosed location, that its time to restore order to the people’s house.

 

 

Kinzinger laid the blame at the feet of Trump for fanning the flames in a group of people who were wrongly led to believe that the election could be overturned.

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Mahomet-Seymour Schools Test Nearly 600 Ahead of Return for Second Semester

Mahomet-Seymour Schools tested nearly 600 students ahead of their return to in-person learning for the second semester Wednesday.

 

Superintendent Dr. Lindsey Hall on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday told Regional Radio News, they found eight new COVID positives but that is several they probably would not have caught or even suspected if their robust testing was not in place.

 

 

A partnership with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and Carle Hospital made this opportunity possible for Mahomet-Seymour Schools. Dr. Hall says while a great resource, this kind of testing is not the end-all, be-all cure to keep their kids in school throughout the second semester.

 

 

Dr. Hall reminds her communities they had an early hiccup however, they recovered from that and were able to remain in class the rest of the semester. She is hopeful with this robust testing, they will be able to go through the second semester in-person all the way through. 

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Warner Library Introduces 'Browsing Appointments' for Public

The Warner Library closed its doors to the public except for various services, however recently announced they will be allowing patrons in on a by appointment basis.

 

Director Bobbi Perryman says their 'browsing appointments' will be available in 30-minute segments. She says it is something they are trying to allow patrons an opportunity to still get into the library to find materials.

 

 

Perryman indicates they are asking patrons that want to browse to keep their groups small and limited to those in their households.

 

 

Browsing appointments are available during regular business hours. After patrons have made their way through, disinfecting efforts will be done before more the next patrons come in.

 

 

Perryman also points out a new grab ‘n go craft kit will be available for pickup beginning Monday, January 11. The free kit will include supplies and instructions to make a Winter Snow Votive craft. Kits are available while supplies last. One per person. The suggested age is 8-and-up. 

 

Current library hours are Monday-Thursday from 10:00am-7:00pm and Friday-Saturday from 10:00am-3:00pm. More information and a full list of services are available online at vwarner.org or by calling 217-935-5174.

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Sen. Rose Continues to Call on Governor to 'Control What He Can Control'

Earlier this week on Regional Radio News, State Senator Chapin Rose put Governor JB Pritzker on blast for not acting at all to provide effective and quick-result tests to the entire State of Illinois despite such action being available to him in the spring.

 

The Mahomet Republican is fired up the Governor is side-tracked going on television several times a month with national outlets rather than doing what is best for the State of Illinois. Sen. Rose indicates the ability for the Governor to issue guidance on making the tests available has been available to him since early May.

 

 

Sen. Rose is frustrated the Governor continues to make appearances on national networks and believes Pritzker is more focused on making appearances on TV than doing what is best for Illinoisans. He continues to call on the Governor to control what he can control.

 

 

An irritated Rose discussed the notion that reducing the positivity rates would give people a reason to have their lives back and youths able to compete in sports and saving elderly in nursing homes cut then diminishes the power the Governor has over everyone right now.

 

 

Sen. Rose, each State agency has a Director and Counsel within it, however, the Governor has his own General Counsel, and he found it odd the Governor's General Counsel was the responder to his inquiry, not IDPH. He points out, in Springfield that usually means something has gone wrong and there is information being withheld. 

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US Army Corps of Engineers Pushing Tree Recycling Project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers looking for live Christmas trees for the annual Christmas Tree Recycling Project.

 

Doug Wasmuth is a Natural Resource Specialists with the Army Corp of Engineers. He says Christmas trees provide effective and economical fish habitats.

 

 

These fish shelters provide breeding areas, resting places, and protection. They give young fish much-needed living spaces where they can feed on plankton and avoid being preyed upon by larger fish. The protection provided by the trees allows for a large number of fish to grow to maturity and ultimately provide more fish for anglers.

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Illinois Democrats Say No Tax Increases During Lame Duck Session

Republican members of the Statehouse are telling anyone who will listen that Democrats are ready to come to the upcoming lame-duck session to pass a statewide income tax increase. Democrat State Senator Andy Manar says he doesn’t see any tax increase being voted on. Rather he says it’s time to continue to look at the tax code and loopholes…

 

 

Manar is stepping down from his elected post and will be working directly for the Governor, but that will happen after the upcoming lame-duck session.

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House Republicans Offer Redistricting Plan

HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE OFFERING A PLAN TO DRAW NEW LEGISLAIVE DISTRICTS IN ILLINOIS. 

 

BASED ON THE 2020 CENSUS DATA, NEW LEGISLATIVE BOUNDARIES WILL BE SET ACROSS THE STATE THIS YEAR. REPRESENTATIVE TIM BUTLER OF SPRINGFIELD SAYS THEY WANT AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION TO BE CHARGED WITH THE TASK INSTEAD OF LAWMAKERS. HE SAYS THIS WILL ENSURE THE DISTRICTS ARE DRAWN FAIRLY AND NOT JUST TO GIVE ONE POLITICAL PARTY AN ADVANTAGE.

 

 

EVERY 10 YEARS, A NEW LEGISLATIVE BOUNDARY MAP IS DRAWN BY LAWMAKERS BASED ON THE LATEST CENSUS DATA. IT'S NOT A FAIR PROCESS SAYS REPRESENTATIVE RYAN SPAIN OF PEORIA.

 

 

UNDER THE HOUSE G-O-P PROPOSAL, THE COMMISSION WOULD BE MADE UP OF 11 MEMBERS. SEVEN WOULD HAVE TO APPROVE THE NEW MAP AND PUBLIC HEARINGS WOULD BE HELD TO KEEP THE PROCESS TRANSPARENT.

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Bitter Cold Temperatures Ahead

We’re over a month into winter and much of Illinois has yet to be impacted by a stretch of bitter cold temperatures. But that will happen, likely later this month.

 

 

That’s DTN Chief Agriculture Meteorologist Bryce Anderson. He says most of Illinois will see dry conditions through the first half of January.

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Ag Economy Barometer Showing Farmer Sentiment on the Rise

After hitting a low in April, the Purdue University/CME Group ag economy barometer ends the year on the rise. Commodity prices are helping lead the charge say Purdue ag economist Jim Mintert.

 

 

The Ag Economy Barometer is calculated each month from 400 U.S. ag producers' responses to a telephone survey.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Hopes to Gain Understanding of Post-Holiday COVID Situation

As the holiday season wraps up and folks return to work and school, the local health department is hosting a COVID drive-thru and walk-up testing site on Saturday.

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert indicates the testing is free and those who come to get tested do not have to be symptomatic.

 

 

The Health Department hosted a mobile testing unit in October as the County faced a surge in cases, making the Governor's warning list for the first time. However, in early January, COVID locally is beginning to level out but Remmert says he wants to know what the situation is in light of the holiday gatherings that likely took place.

 

 

The Health Department released its latest data late Monday night. 

 

DeWitt County added 69 new cases of COVID last week between Wednesday and Sunday while Piatt County added 47.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 1000 cases while Piatt County has had a total of 1123 cases.

 

DeWitt County has had a total of 19 deaths.  Piatt County has had a total of 8 deaths with an additional death reported today - a female in her 60s.

 

Remmert notes they are receiving numerous calls and emails regarding vaccinations. He asks the public to remember, these doses are distributed according to a federal CDC prioritization schedule starting with frontline healthcare workers. Long-term care facility doses will be distributed via a pharmacy partnership between IDPH and CVS/Walgreens and they expect to be serving these priority audiences until additional doses are released in 2-3 weeks. They will continue to alert the public as additional priorities are announced.

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Warner Hospital Expecting Second Shipment of Vaccines Today

The second round of the initial COVID vaccinations should be arriving today for the staff at Warner Hospital inoculated in December.

 

Warner Hospital CEO Paul Skowron tells Regional Radio News, they anticipate those arriving today and will be the follow-up to the initial vaccines that were distributed in December.

 

 

According to Skowron, he is anticipating an acceleration of shipments of vaccines. While there has been talk of delaying some of these vaccines and their rollouts, he does not see things slowing down.

 

 

Once the second dose of the initial vaccine is distributed this week, it will mark the first two rounds of vaccines to be complete locally. 

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Illinois Secretary of State Driver Services Facilities Will Reopen Today Across State

ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE DRIVERS SERVICES FACILITIES OPEN BACK UP STATEWIDE TOMORROW (TUESDAY).

 

DOORS ARE OPENING BUT MASK AND SOCIAL DISTANCING REQUIREMENTS WILL STILL BE IN PLACE. SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON DAVE DRUKER REMINDS YOU CAN HOLD OFF AWHILE IF YOU PREFER, SINCE EXPIRATION DATES HAVE BEEN EXTENDED.

 

 

DRUKER SAYS YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF LOTS OF THINGS ONLINE LIKE RENEWING A LICENSE PLATE STICKER OR DRIVER’S LICENSE FOR QUALIFYING DRIVERS. 

 

 

THE WEBSITE IS: CYBER DRIVE ILLINOIS DOT COM.

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Bloomington State Rep. Discusses Upcoming Lame Duck Session in Springfield

Lawmakers will convene beginning Friday before swearing in a new Illinois General Assembly is sworn in next week.

 

Illinois GOP members will be focused on several issues before the new General Assembly is sworn in next week. State Representative Dan Brady discussed a number of issues on his radar heading into the lame-duck sessions, including a tax increase to pay for the budget.

 

 

Rep. Brady is also watching what will happen with the selection of the House Speaker, as Mike Madigan is under fire over his alleged involvement in the ComEd bribery scheme. The Speaker says there was no wrongdoing. 

 

 

 

Illinois Democrats have proposed over 100 bills for the lame-duck session and Rep. Brady discussed those.

 

 

The legislature has been divided about the lame-duck session should be held in person or remotely. Rep. Brady discussed his support for a remote session...

 

 

The session will begin on Friday and will run through the weekend and right up to the inauguration of new members on the 13th.   It could go longer if a consensus cannot be reached in the House Speaker voting.

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Clinton City Council Approves Bids for Mowing Contracts of Parks, Cemeteries

Perhaps the most spirited discussion the Clinton City Council has had on some time revolved around the City seeking bids for mowing of City parks and cemeteries.

 

The contracts seek to save the City money by transferring employees to other departments. Clinton City Commissioner Dan Ballenger had several concerns over the contracts, specifically if this is a cost-savings measure.

 

 

The bids were proposed as a two-year contract, however, Commissioners were reluctant to not have an opt-out clause after one year. Commissioner John Wise offered his thoughts on the matter....

 

 

According to City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter, the City will save money through this agreement. He explains it will cost more for salaries, insurance, social security, and those kinds of expenses, in addition to equipment maintenance costs.

 

 

Ballenger hoped to have the votes tabled to a later date so more analysis could be done on them, however, those attempts were not supported by other Council members. 

 

The Council approved LKM Mowing and Landscaping for the cemetery bid at $80,704 while the parks' bid was for just over awarded to Reinhart Grounds Maintenance, Inc. for just over $28,800.

 

The bids were approved, however, the contracts could be modified and so they will not become official agreements until signed. 

 

The Council Monday night also agreed to a supplemental agreement with Cummins Engineering for just over $35,900. 

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Clinton Fire Responds to 20 Calls Sunday

Snow on top of ice created a wild day for Clinton Fire crews.

 

The City department responded to 20 calls on Sunday as several inches of snow fell on top of ice and resulted in downed power lines that created all kinds of problems across the community.

 

In the 600th block of West Washington Street, downed power lines resulted in smoke or burning smells inside of four residences. 

 

A gas leak was reported and Ameren was called to shut the gas off to decrease the risk of an explosion.

 

A water leak was responded to at 1101 Kleemann Drive.

 

Crews responded to Warner Hospital for a report of a backup generator that had created smoke across their upper level. 

 

Clinton crews assisted with Wapella crews for a fire but were released from the scene shortly after their arrival. 

 

Because of multiple calls coming in at once, crews from Kenney, Wapella, Maroa, and Waynesville Fire all assisted. 

 

Clinton Fire officials also thank DeWitt County EMS, CenCom, and the police department for their assistance during the day as well. 

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Clinton Public Works Crews to Pick Up Downed Branches, Brush After Weekend Winter Storm

After five or six inches fell in Clinton over the weekend, downed tree limbs provided quite a busy time for electric crews as power was lost all over the City throughout Sunday and into Monday.

 

As residents dig themselves out and get back to work after the holidays, picking up those tree limbs will be a part of their 'to do' lists over the coming weeks. With that in mind, Clinton City Administrator says City crews will be out to pick up that brush.

 

 

The City used to send crews around the community once a month even during the winter but a change a few years ago stopped those trips during the winter months and Follow indicates they would be reserved for after weather events like this past weekend in an emergency.

 

 

Sizeable limbs have fallen over the community and many are now frozen to the ground and even some are too large to move without reducing the size with mechanical machinery. Followell anticipates the rounds through the community will go into next week to allow residents plenty of time to get that brush to the curbs.

 

 

Followell reminds residents, the yard waste facility is still open. It is open Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 3 pm to 5 pm and Saturdays from 8 am to noon and 1 pm to 5 pm. 

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Backup Generator Causes Smoke Incident at Warner Hospital Sunday Afternoon

Clinton fire crews were summoned to Warner Hospital and Health Services in Clinton Sunday for an incident with a backup generator that caused smoke to circulate in the upper level of the facility.

 

CEO Paul Skowron indicates with power out, their backup generator kicked on and an issue with a fan caused smoke to begin circulating the upper level of the facility. It wasn't a serious incident but crews on scene were diligent in making sure there were issues.

 

 

Skowron says they are going to do a thorough electrical investigation for a smoother transition to backup power in the future.

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DCDC Implementing Micro-Grant Program

The DeWitt County Development Council wants to help area businesses fund projects that were put off in 2020.

 

DCDC Board President David Torbert indicates DCDC will be implementing a micro-grant program to assist DeWitt County businesses in undertaking projects that will benefit their practice and the community.

 

 

Torbert says the application is currently available on DCDC's website. The deadline to apply is February 8.

 

 

DCDC will award $10,000 in total. Torbert notes the board may increase the amount the next time around once they get an idea of what the need is.

 

 

Torbert says while many feel economic development is bringing in new businesses to the community, he implores the need to help existing businesses to ensure they have continued success.

 

 

The application for the micro-grants can be found online at www.dcdc-illinois.net. For more information, email, or message DCDC on social media.

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State Senator Sounds Off on Governor Not Taking Action on U of I Test Distribution

If Governor Pritzker wanted to get tests that are being used at the University of Illinois widely distributed across the state he could, but he isn't.

 

That's what State Senator Chapin Rose says who is fired up the Governor is not taking action that could save thousands of lives and help the economy reopen.

 

 

The 'shield tests' as they are referred to, can provide results in up to four hours. Sen. Rose says while the cost is very high, he believes it should be done to get everyone access to these tests.

 

 

The Mahomet Republican has asked the Governor why this isn't something he is currently pursuing and Sen. Rose indicates it wasn't IDPH that responded, but rather the Governor's general counsel.

 

 

Does the State of Illinois have the capacity to mass-produce these shield tests and make them available to almost all Illinoisans? Sen. Rose says the University of Illinois did a good job looking to the future and has labs in Decatur and Springfield ready to take these tests and process them with more on the way.

 

 

Sen. Rose questions what the Governor quote - "does all day" and believes he's more focused on his aspirations of running for President than doing what is best for the State of Illinois. He has many issues with the Governor not approving the testing months after it has been ready. 

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Social Security Discusses Spousal Benefits

Social Security says it's important to understand how your future retirement might affect your spouse.

 

Jack Myers, with Social Security, notes when planning for retirement, keep in mind how spouses can claim benefits on each other's record. The benefit amount determines how much or when a spouse can receive spousal benefits.

 

 

Myers indicates you have to receive your benefit before receiving spousal benefits. If one spouse's benefits are less than half of the others, the difference could be paid to them in the form of a spouse's benefit, depending on when they take their retirement.

 

 

A surviving spouse can receive up to one hundred percent of the deceased spouse's benefits if both are past full retirement age. Myers notes that surviving spouses can begin to receive spousal benefits at age 60 or 50 if disabled.

 

 

Myers states ex-spouses and surviving divorced spouses may qualify for spousal benefits if the marriage lasted at least ten years. To receive benefits if both spouses are alive, they must be unmarried. If one is deceased, they are eligible for a surviving divorced spousal benefit.

 

 

Eligibility for pensions could cause a reduction or total offset of spousal benefits through a Government Pension Offset. For more information, visit social security.gov or call (800) 772-1213.

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Weather Service Issues Winter Weather Advisory; Up to 6+ Inches of Snow Expected

 

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for the Regoinal Radio listening area until 6 this morning.

 

The Weather Service says a band of heavy snow has developed over this area and is capable of producing snow fall rates of an inch per hour. Total snow accumulation of 3 to 6 inches is now expected with locally higher amounts possible. Expect snow covered roads and poor visibility in this area.

 

Stay tuned to Regional Radio and dewittdailynews.com for the latest weather information.

 

To find the latest road conditions, click on the "road conditoins" icon on the right side of the menubar on dewittdailynews.com.

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Tri-Valley HS Remodel Complete

One local school district got a head start on a remodeling project due to all remote learning in the spring, and now the project is complete ahead of schedule.

 

Dr. David Mouser, Tri-Valley Superintendent, states a two year in making remodel of the high school was completed and open for student use after Thanksgiving break. An auxiliary gym, a 500 seat auditorium, and band/chorus room were added.

 

 

Dr. Mouser indicates the building was originally designed to be used as both the junior high and high school. He says the remodel allows for the building to be used more efficiently.

 

 

Dr. Mouser is thankful for the community passing the referendum for the facility update to be completed.

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Heyworth Schools To See Online Students Return for Next Semester

When Heyworth schools resume in-person learning on January 5, several students who were completely remote first semester will return as well.

 

Dr. Lisa Taylor, Heyworth Superintendent, said Heyworth schools remained in-person up until Thanksgiving and then went fully remote as did other area districts. She notes sixty percent of fully remote students will change to in-person learning.

 

 

Dr. Taylor believes families decided to try in-person learning due to the district's overall success of first semester. She adds online learning can bring extra stress and challenges for families as well.

 

 

Heyworth schools will begin their spring semester on January 5.

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Winter driving reminders

Many drivers in Illinois are dealing with wintery conditions on the roadways today and for the rest of us it’s only a matter of time before you set out on a snowy road.

 

Illinois State Police Master Sergeant JC Clarke says try to avoid travel if you can in winter storms, but if you must head out, get prepared.

 

 

To see what road conditions are in your area or what they look like where you are headed check out getting around Illinois dot com.

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A look back at the COVID-19 pandemic

ON JANUARY 24TH, STATE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS BRIEFED THE PRESS ON ILLINOIS' FIRST CASE OF THE NEW CORONAVIRUS...A WOMAN WHO HAD JUST RETURNED TO CHICAGO FROM WUHAN, CHINA. IT WAS JUST THE SECOND CASE IN THE U-S. HER HUSBAND SOON BECAME INFECTED AS WELL, MARKING THE FIRST KNOW PERSON-TO-PERSON TRANSMISSION OF COVID-19 IN THE COUNTRY. BY MARCH 20TH, ILLINOIS HAD 585 CASES AND GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER MADE A BIG ANNOUNCENT.

 

 

THE FIRST CASE IN ILLINOIS WAS ANNOUNCED ON JANUARY 24TH, A CHICAGO AREA WOMAN WHO HAD JUST RETURNED FROM WUHAN, CHINA. STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SPOKE WITH THE MEDIA THAT DAY ABOUT THE NEW STRAIN OF CORONAVIRUS.

 

 

BY FEBRUARY 11TH, THE VIRUS OFFICIALLY HAD A NAME: COVID-19 AND ILLINOIS BECAME THE FIRST STATE TO DO IT'S OWN TESTING FOR THE VIRUS. CONCERNS GREW RAPIDLY IN MARCH AS NEW CASES INCREASED, WITH THE GOVERNOR ANNOUNCING THE CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS AND A STATEWIDE STAY AT HOME ORDER. IN EARLY APRIL, OFFICIALS SAID WEARING A MASK WAS A GOOD IDEA TO PREVENT TRANSMISSION AND ON MAY FIRST A MASK MANDATE WENT INTO EFFECT. CASES DROPPED OVER THE SUMMER AND SOME BUSINESSES WERE ALLOWED TO OPEN BACK UP UNDER THE GOVERNOR'S PHASE FOUR "RESTORE ILLINOIS" PLAN. NEW MITIGATIONS WERE APPLIED REGIONALLY AS THE TEST POSITIVITY RATE BEGAN TO INCREASE AGAIN IN THE FALL AND WINTER SCHOOL SPORTS LIKE BASKETBALL WERE PUT ON HOLD. TODAY, BARS AND RESTAURANTS REMAIN CLOSED TO INDOOR SERVICE, TOTAL CASES TOP 948 THOUSAND AND MORE THAN 16 THOUSAND PEOPLE IN ILLINOIS HAVE DIED.

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New federal rule regarding odometer disclosure taking effect Jan. 1st

ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE'S OFFICE IS REMINDING AUTO DEALERS AND THE PUBLIC ABOUT STRICTER ODOMETER LAWS TAKING EFFECT JANUARY FIRST. 

 

UNDER A NEW FEDERAL REQUIREMENT, ANYONE SELLING A 2011 OR LATER MODEL VEHICLE NEEDS TO RECORD THE MILEAGE ON THE TITLE SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT. UNDER THE OLD RULE, A 2011 VEHICLE WOULD HAVE BEEN EXEMPT FROM DISCLOSING THE ODOMETER READING.

 

 

SELLERS OF 2011 MODEL VEHICLES AND NEWER WILL HAVE TO DISCLOSE THE MILEAGE WHEN THE TITLE IS TRANSFERRED FOR 20 YEARS INSTEAD OF 10 UNDER A NEW FEDERAL RULE. SECRETARY OF STATE HENRY HAUPT EXPLAINS THE GUIDELINES.

 

 

HAUPT SAYS THE CHANGE IS AIMED AT REDUCING ODOMETER FRAUD SINCE THE AVERAGE AGE OF VEHICLES IN THE U-S IS NOW NEARLYY 12 YEARS OLD.

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Top Stories of 2020

Ushering in the new year, Regional Radio News is taking a look at the top stories of 2020, and on this New Year's Day, we countdown stories No. 5 to No. 1.

 

NUMBER 5:

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/517614

 

NUMBER 4:

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/516909

 

NUMBER 3:

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/525915

 

NUMBER 2

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/503377

 

NUMBER ONE:

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/497383

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Victims of sexual assault and stalking added to Attorney General's Address Confidentiality Program

A NEW STATE LAW WILL FURTHER PROTECT VICTIMS OF STALKING AND SEXUAL ASSAULT.

 

THE STATE'S ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROGRAM IS CURRENTLY ONLY AVAILABLE TO SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. BUT A LAW TAKING EFFECT JANUARY FIRST ADDS STALKING AND SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS AS WELL. IT LETS THEM OBTAIN AN ALTERNATE ADDRESS SO IT'S HARDER FOR THEIR ABUSER TO FIND THEM SAYS REPRESENTATIVE TERRA COSTA HOWARD OF GLEN ELLYN.

 

 

STARTING JANUARY FIRST...SURVIVORS OF STALKING AND SEXUAL ASSAULT CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROGRAM. THE CHANGE WAS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE TERRA COSTA HOWARD OF GLEN ELLYN. SHE EXPLAINS HOW IT WORKS.

 

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS CAN ALREADY USE THE PROGRAM. SIGN UP ONLINE AT: ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL DOT GOV.

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IFB details ag highlights in latest stimulus bill

What does the latest stimulus package mean for agriculture? Mark Gebhards with Illinois Farm Bureau outlines some of the highlights.

 

 

Gebhards says the $900-billion stimulus bill is detailed in 5-thousand pages.

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