Local News

Deland Weldon Schools Still Weighing Summer School

A rural DeWitt County school district continues to discuss and weigh the merits of summer school.

 

Districts across the area differ on how much summer school to offer and plans will vary based on what the needs of kids will be after instruction time has been greatly impacted the last 12 months due to COVID. Superintendent of Deland-Weldon Schools, Amanda Geary told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, those decisions have not been made but conversations are still happening.

 

 

According to Geary, each student is at a different point in their development. She points out, many students would be behind anyways while others are behind as a result of the lost instruction time of the last year.

 

 

While many school leaders have reported positive developments of more progress being made in classrooms than perhaps anticipated, Geary says that is the case in her district but also believes her staff has had a good attitude all school year and attributes those developments largely to that.

 

 

Over 90-percent of students are learning in-person for Deland-Weldon Schools. Geary reminds that remote learners are virtually attending class as the district did not opt for an outside curriculum, which means students must attend class from home and they are virtually part of the classroom setting each day. 

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Lincoln To Introduce Scooter Rent Program

Take a chance and see how it works is how the Mayor of Lincoln describes a new program coming to the Logan County community.

 

With the rise in popularity for scooters, Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch indicates the City of Lincoln plans to introduce a program that will be coordinated by an outside company and will be stationed at the Depot off the downtown square.

 

 

The scooters will be limited to certain areas of the community, simply due to the lack of access to other parts of town. Mayor Welch indicates the company will be able to put limitations on how far the scooters can travel away from its hub.

 

 

The Mayor indicates work on the ordinance is continuing and he is hopeful by late April or early May the program could be up and going. 

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Sen. Rose Outlines SB 1602 - Measure to Eliminate Local Control for Wind Farms

A measure in Springfield would eliminate a County Board's ability to set its own regulations around wind energy and a local lawmaker is sounding off.

 

Wind energy is a highly contentious topic that is making the rounds in communities across the state. A Chicago lawmaker is proposing taking that away from local governments. State Senator Chapin Rose led the fight to allow this to be a local control issue, he calls it bad public policy.

 

 

According to the Mahomet Republican, this is more big government legislation and more Chicago-land lawmakers dictating how downstate Illinois operates. He says this is something Chicago doesn't want in its backyard, so they are putting it in yours.

 

 

Many governing bodies will likely be taking action to oppose this bill and Sen. Rose encourages residents across the state to contact Sen. Bill Cunningham. While Sen. Cunningham is very powerful in the Democratic Party, Rose does offer some good news....

 

 

Last Friday on the WHOW Morning Show, following Board action passing a resolution opposing this bill, DeWitt County Board Chair Terry Ferguson told Regional Radio News wind companies are pushing for this legislation in Illinois. 

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Opioid-Related Deaths in Illinois Are on the Rise

ACCORDING TO PROVISIONAL DATA FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH, OPIOID DEATHS ARE ON THE RISE IN ILLINOIS.

 

NEARLY 29-HUNDRED PEOPLE DIED DUE TO AN OVERDOSE OF OPIATES LAST YEAR. THAT'S A 30 PERCENT INCREASE OVER 2019. 83 PERCENT OF THOSE CASES INVOLVED FENTANYL LACED DRUGS, WHICH MARNELL BROWN, FOUNDER OF THE NON PROFIT CHICAGO BASED GROUP "TO WALK IN MY SHOES" SAYS IS TURNING UP EVERYWHERE.

 

 

DUPAGE COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY ROBERT BERLIN SAYS THEY ARE TACKLING THE PROBLEM IN TWO WAYS: GETTING USERS INTO TREATMENT, AND REALLY GOING AFTER DEALERS.

 

 

BROWN WAS SPEAKING BEFORE A SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE ISSUE. OTHER SPEAKERS TALKED ABOUT THE NEED TO GET DRUG USERS LONG-TERM TREATMENT INSTEAD OF PUTTING THEM IN JAIL AND TO AGGRESSIVELY PURSUE DEALERS WHO SELL TAINTED DRUGS THAT END UP KILLING SOMEONE.

 

I-D-P-H SAYS BLACK MEN ACCOUNT FOR THE MOST OPIOID OVERDOSE, BUT THAT THE BIGGEST INCREASE SEEN OVER THE YEAR HAS BEEN AMONG HISPANIC AND LATIN-X POPULATIONS.

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Illinois Republicans Introduce 'People's Independent Map Act' to Draw New Legislative Maps

ILLINOIS REPUBLICAN LEADERS ARE PUSHING FOR AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION TO DRAW THE STATE'S NEXT SET OF LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS.

 

G-O-P MEMBERS WANT A COMMISSION, WITH MEMBERS APPOINTED BY THE STATE SUPREME COURT TO COME UP WITH NEW POLITICAL BOUNDARIES, INSTEAD OF LAWMAKERS DRAWING MAPS THAT POTENTIALLY BENEFIT ONE PARTY OVER THE OTHER. REPRESENTATIVE TIM BUTLER OF SPRINGFIELD SAYS THE CHANGE WOULD ENSURE FAIRNESS.

 

 

SENATOR JASON BARICKMAN OF BLOOMINGTON SAYS THIS IS WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS.

 

 

UNDER THE BILL, 16 COMMISSION MEMBERS WOULD BE SELECTED TO TAKE ON THE PROCESS, REPRESENTING THE RACIAL, GENDER AND ETHNIC DEMOGRAPHICS OF ILLINOIS.

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Dry Start to April

The calendar flips to April on Thursday so what does that mean for weather in the Midwest?

 

 

Freese-Notis Meteorologist Dan Hicks says most parts of Illinois should see 70’s on Easter Sunday.

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DNR Launches New Website to Encourage Habitat Protection

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES IS LAUNCHING A NEW WEBSITE TO HELP THE PUBLIC WITH CONSERVATION EFFORTS. 

 

THE NEW SITE FEATURES GUIDANCE FOR PRIVATE LANDOWNERS, DEVELOPERS, HOME GARDENS

AND CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES ABOUT HOW TO BEST PRESERVE NATURAL HABITATS SAYS D-N-R SPOKESPERSON RACHEL TORBERT.

 

 

 

IT'S MEANT FOR EVERYONE SAYS TORBERT.

 

 

THE WEBSITE IS: CICADA DASH IDNR DOT ORG.

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Clinton High School Students Encouraged to View Scholarships Available Online

Scholarship season is upon us and Clinton High School is returning to the well that was very successful last year for informing students of scholarships available.

 

Last year, with students at home and limited access to the guidance office, Principal Jerry Wayne and his staff created a page on the school website with a list of scholarships available. He says that was a huge success, and many of the scholarships available saw either a spike in interest or record interest.

 

 

With the success of listing scholarships online last year, Wayne indicates they will do that again this year. He believes it is helpful in getting kids access to money available for whatever may be next in their education journey.

 

 

Scholarships available can be found by navigating through the cusd15.org website, you can also visit the URL chsguidancedept.weebly.com and find the 'scholarships' tab at the side of the home page. 

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McLean County Museum Director Offering Virtual Presentation Highlighting Local Women

March is Women's History Month and before we flip the calendar to April, a McLean County history expert is releasing a special presentation highlighting women that made an impact locally and abroad.

 

Candace Summers with the McLean County Museum of History wanted to debut this program last year but COVID struck and kept her making it happen. Using Zoom and other digital platforms to get information out to the public now commonplace, she is excited to be able to present this program this week.

 

 

According to Summers, there are so many women from McLean County that made an impact in the world that she had a hard time narrowing her presentation to just 20 women. She highlights a few stories that stood out to her.

 

 

The program will be presented over Zoom today (Tuesday). It is a free program that will start at 7 pm. Summers says once the program has concluded it will be available to check out. Summers points anyone interested to their website, mchistory.org or to find them on Facebook. 

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Rep. Caulkins Supporting New Legislation

A Central Illinois state representative is currently supporting several pieces of legislation.

 

Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) indicates he is the chief co-sponsor of a bill that seeks to limit the governor's ability to issue more than one disaster declaration for the same disaster in a year. The bill requires the General Assembly to be involved in a continuing disaster declaration.

 

 

The Decatur Republican has introduced legislation in the Illinois House that would freeze the minimum wage increase for the next three years. He says increasing the minimum wage to $15 would harm small businesses that are already hurting due to COVID.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins has another bill prioritizing Law Enforcement Camera Grant Act awards for smaller communities.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins notes the Public Utilities Committee is working to keep Illinois' many nuclear power plants up and running.

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State Department of Ag Conducting Study to Look at Disparities Between Black, White Farmers

A new law aims to give vision to getting more Black farmers back in Illinois.

 

The state department of Agriculture will conduct a study that looks at disparities when it comes to black and white farmers in Illinois. The study will examine topics including land ownership and education access. Evera Ivy, of Ivy League Farms, says as a black farmer she welcomes more equity to brought an industry that is overwhelmingly white.

 

 

The report and findings are due in a year.

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DeWitt County Residents Plea to County Board as Lawsuits Fall Through

As lawsuits over DeWitt County's wind farm approved last summer get dropped, residents are making a plea to the County Board to action.

 

Last Thursday night - after a pair of lawsuits suing the County over Enel Green Power's Alta Farm's II wind farm were dropped earlier in the week - residents called on the DeWitt County Board to reverse the previous Board's decision. Among those making their case was Olivia Klemm who compared residents living near a wind tower to someone in prison.

 

 

Dale Nafziger offered his thoughts on the matter and implored the Board to reverse its decision. He says this past election is the evidence residents do not want this wind farm in DeWitt County.

 

 

The County Board's meeting was scheduled to be held on Thursday, March 18, however, a fire in the vicinity of the County Building knocked out power and postponed the meeting to this past Thursday. Elizabeth Burns was disappointed to see an agenda item removed regarding the issuance of the special use permit to Enel Green Power.

 

 

The future of wind in DeWitt County and the State of Illinois faces a new challenge as the Illinois legislature is considering a change in Illinois law that would enable the State to determine uniform regulations around wind farms. The County Board approved a resolution to send to local lawmakers Sen. Chapin Rose and Rep. Dan Caulkins to oppose the measure. 

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DeWitt County Board Members Debate Merits of 'Emergency' Action at Marina

The gas dock at the Clinton Lake Marina is in dire need of repair and last Thursday night at the DeWitt County Board meeting, the Marina Committee Chair asked the Board to designate it an emergency to bypass going to bid for the repairs.

 

Committee Chair Dan Matthews says the Marina cannot go without gas but the dock is in need of emergency attention. He believes work needs to get going as quickly as possible.

 

 

Roughly $200,000 would be the cost of the project. According to Matthews, the contractors could help the County save money but it would need to be completely rebuilt.

 

 

Board member Aaron Kammeyer questioned why the dock had not been addressed already and if it was still useable, why it was considered an emergency. Matthews had hoped to address the issue last year but was unable to due to COVID.

 

 

Kammeyer continued to push back on using the dock while it is considered an emergency however Matthews points out the dock is usable until they can get it fixed. Matthews believes they need to get the work scheduled so it does not get put off any longer.

 

 

Matthews says the emergency is to get the project started and emphasizes he would not put anyone in danger if the dock was not safe to use. 

 

The Board passed the motion to get work started on the gas dock at the Clinton Lake Marina. 

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Mahomet-Seymour Schools Finalizing Summer School Plans

Like many schools, Mahomet-Seymour Schools are finding there is a faction of their student body that has fallen behind in the last year as COVID has wreaked havoc on the school systems. 

 

For Superintendent Dr. Lindsey Hall, they too are working on developing a summer school program. She says they want to make sure they can bring as many students along and get them ready for the next level or even graduation.

 

 

To help get high school students on track, Dr. Hall explains they've offered micro-courses to help with credit recovery. As for the rest of the student body, they will be doing a two-week intensive before school starts in August.

 

 

While some students participating in in-person learning are struggling, Dr. Hall says they are seeing most of the struggles from remote learners. The district is also going to focus on the mental and emotional wellness of its students and staff.

 

 

Dr. Hall, like her peers, hopes to see a return to a normal school schedule next year. She says that is what is best for all students. She expressed her gratitude for the work of her staff and community's families through the last year and for adapting to all the changes.

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Recent Rains Have Helped Alleviate Drought Conditions

THE RECENT RAINS HAVE HELPED ALLEVIATE DROUGHT CONDITIONS IN ILLINOIS.

 

AFTER A WET WEEK, STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD SAYS THE U-S DROUGHT MONITOR SHOWS NO DROUGHT FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE LAST AUGUST.

 

 

SEVEN DAY PRECIPITATION TOTALS RANGED FROM JUST UNDER HALF AN INCH IN NORTHEAST ILLINOIS TO OVER AN INCH AND A HALF IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN ILLINOIS SAYS FORD.

 

 

FORD SAYS MOST OF EAST CENTRAL AND NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS ARE STILL CONSIDERED "ABNORMALLY DRY" BUT THAT SOIL MOISTURE AND STREAM FLOW CONDITIONS ARE MOVING CLOSER TO NORMAL LEVELS.

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IDOT Urging Motorcycle Safety

AS THE WEATHER WARMS AND MORE BIKES HIT THE ROAD, THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS URGING EVERYONE TO THINK ABOUT MOTORCYCLE SAFETY. 

 

FOR DRIVERS, THAT MEANS GIVING MOTORCYCLES PLENTY OF ROOM AND KEEPING AN EYE OUT FOR THEM IN YOUR BLINDSPOT. RIDERS NEED TO CONSIDER A FEW THINGS AS WELL SAYS I-DOT SPOKESPERSON PAUL WAPPEL.

 

 

WAPPEL SAYS WHILE MOTORCYCLES ARE ONLY ON THE ROADS PART OF THE YEAR, THEY ACCOUNT FOR 15 PERCENT OF ALL TRAFFIC FATALITIES.

 

 

INFORMATION ABOUT THOSE COURSES IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: START SEEING MOTORCYCLES DOT ORG. 

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Clinton School District Needs New Transportation Director

Clinton schools district leadership is seeking a new transportation director.

 

Roben Huffman is resigning as the district's director effective at the end of the school year. Superintendent Curt Nettles calls Huffman a great asset to the community and the school district.

 

 

The position has been posted. Nettles hopes to find someone that is a diesel mechanic along with someone that can coordinate drivers and routes for buses. 

 

You can find the position's qualifications at clintoncusd15.org. 

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Monticello Superintendent, Who Leads Illinois Association of School Administrators, Focused on Getting Kids Back to In-Person Learning

Monticello Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman for the past year has led the Illinois Association of School Administrators and with his term as the head of that group begins to come to a close, he is hoping to make a push for full in-person learning in 2021-22.

 

 

A piece of legislation that brought Superintendents together last month was the police reform bill, which threatened to remove school resource officers from the school setting. While the provision in the bill was removed before it ultimately passed and was signed into law by the Governor, Dr. Zimmerman says those are local decisions that should be made by school superintendents.

 

 

The Association has lobbyists in Springfield watching the happenings from lawmakers. Dr. Zimmerman says with vaccines now available for students 16-and-older, they will hope high school students will soon be getting vaccinated. 

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Clinton Junior High School to Receive Roof, Water Heater Upgrades

Clinton Junior High School needs a new roof and water heater.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles indicates it isn't easy to admit but the junior high school isn't a new building anymore and these are routine maintenance items that need to be taken care of.

 

 

The Board of Education earlier this month approved the improvements.

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DeWitt County Board Chair Offers Opinion on Wind Ordinances in Question

DeWitt County residents against wind farms are pushing for the DeWitt County Board to take back the special use permit (SUP) issued to Enel Green Power.

 

Friday on the WHOW Morning Show, Board Chair Terry Ferguson offered his thoughts on the ordinances in place and how they are to be interpreted. He explains the Regional Planning Commission last week voted not to send along a recommendation to repeal the Alta Farms II SUP.

 

 

An ordinance regarding an unused SUP has been scrutinized in recent weeks in an effort to repeal the Enel Green Power SUP. Ferguson says despite how some may interpret that ordinance, there is no evidence that ordinance was ever changed and it would be unusual for the County Board to repeal a SUP.

 

 

Thursday night, the Board did approve a six-month review of the County's ordinances and any special use permit applications that come in during that time would have to abide by the changes in the ordinances, though it is unlikely and wind conversion special use applications are submitted during that time. 

 

Ferguson emphasizes those changes will not impact the special use permit issued to Enel Green Power. 

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Rep. Caulkins: Our Governor Continues to Make Stuff Up As We Go

A central Illinois lawmaker is sounding off on Governor JB Pritzker's 'Bridge to Phase 5' plan.

 

State Representative Dan Caulkins says the governor continues to make stuff up as he goes and believes he doesn't have a plan for reopening the economy. With thousands still out of work, all he can do is shake his head at the actions of Governor Pritzker that have devastated the economy. 

 

 

While the Governor signs equity measures through the police reform bill and the equity and opportunity bills this week, Rep. Caulkins says limiting certain sectors of the economy is hurting women and minorities.

 

 

The Decatur Republican believes business owners should be able to decide when they can reopen and follow guidelines, that are often conflicting, and when the public is ready to return to going to restaurants or entertainment venues, they will. He does not like the idea that government is the solution to all problems.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins points to Arthur where they took early precautions but things have been close to normal for some time and indicates they have had very few if any issues.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins is helping lead the charge in a House bill that would limit the Governor's ability to have a disaster declaration issued more than once in a 12-month period for the same disaster unless the General Assembly passes with a two-thirds majority. He believes the General Assembly needs to be involved in these decisions. 

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Senate Sends Healthcare Reform Bill to Governor

THE ILLINOIS SENATE IS SIGNING OFF ON A MASSIVE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL. 

 

THE MEASURE AIMS TO ADDRESS SEVERAL DISPARITIES AND INCREASE EQUITY WHEN IT COMES TO ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE. IT ADDRESSES ISSUES LIKE MATERNAL AND INFANT MORTALITY RATES, HOSPITAL CLOSINGS AND MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE. CHICAGO SENATOR MATTIE HUNTER SAYS THE REFORMS WERE A LONG TIME COMING, AND THAT MORE MAY FOLLOW.

 

 

HUNTER SAYS THE LEGISLATION IS ATTRACTING NATIONAL ATTENTION.

 

 

THE MEASURE IS THE FOURTH PILLAR OF THE ILLINOIS LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS' AGENDA AND NOW AWAITS THE GOVERNOR'S SIGNATURE.

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Lawmakers Extend Vote By Mail, Ballot Boxes

SENATE LAWMAKERS ARE OPTING TO CONTINUE VOTING MEASURES THAT WERE PUT IN PLACE BECAUSE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. 

 

LEGISLATION APPROVED BY THE SENATE ALLOWS FOR THE USE OF BALLOT BOXES AND CURBSIDE VOTING AND REQUIRES ELECTION AUTHORITIES TO ACCEPT MAIL-IN BALLOTS EVEN WITHOUT THE CORRECT POSTAGE. SENATOR MICHAEL HASTINGS OF FRANKFORT SUPPORTS THE BILL, SAYING ILLINOIS NEEDS TO MAKE IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO VOTE AT A TIME WHEN OTHER STATES ARE ADDING RESTRICTIONS.

 

 

CHICAGO SENATOR JACQUELINE COLLINS SAYS THESE CHANGES WORKED WELL IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS AND NEED TO REMAIN IN PLACE.

 

 

THE BILL WILL NEED TO BE SIGNED INTO LAW BY GOVERNOR PRITZKER.

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DeWitt County Board Approves Six-Month Review of Wind Energy Ordinances

The DeWitt County Board Thursday night continued its micro-focused efforts to initiate change to the County code regarding wind energy.

 

Buck Carter proposed a six-month review of the County's wind ordinances and additionally, as a part of the motion, any new applications for wind farms would fall under any changes made after the six months.

 

 

Melonie Tilley and Aaron Kammeyer chimed in wondering about speeding the process along. Board Chair Terry Ferguson indicates this process is underway and gave a vote of confidence this can be accomplished in six-months.

 

 

According to Carter, anything longer than six-months and the County Board runs into legal ramifications. If the reviews are not completed in six months, he says they will return to the issue then.

 

 

The motion passed with only two dissenting votes. 

 

Before the meeting was adjourned, a short and mildly tense exchange took place between Tilley and Jay Wickenhauser regarding the following recommendations of the zoning board of appeals (ZBA) and the regional planning commissioner (RPC). 

 

 

Tilley pointed to an abundance of legal advice since the vote on the special use permit last summer as the County faces a handful of lawsuits over that vote. Nate Ennis questions where all the legal advice was at that time.

 

 

During the public input session of the Board meeting, the Board heard from a handful of residence urging review and action on the wind ordinance but also the reversal of the decision by the previous Board to approve the special use permit from Tradewind Energy.

 

Thursday night the Board also approved Kenneth Robinson to the Kenney Fire Protection District and approved an emergency declaration to replace a gas dock at the Clinton Lake Marina. 

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Monticello to Bring Back Summer School

Monticello Schools have solidified plans for the return of summer school.

 

Dr. Vic Zimmerman is the superintendent of Monticello Schools and indicates they will have two July sessions. He says each building level will have its focus for its students.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman points to the discussion about lost instruction time, and while there was a lot of that, he also points out students came away with plenty of lessons about life and learning.

 

 

While the pandemic brought about some terrible things, Dr. Zimmerman is focusing his attention on the positives of the pandemic and that includes students and teachers are coming out of this with new skillsets.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman indicates while the growth of students isn't what it should be if COVID had not happened, there would still be students behind anyways. He also notes kids in rural districts seem to be better off than many others in central Illinois and beyond because they've been in school all year. 

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DeWitt County Museum Undergoing Rebrand

A DeWitt County historical site is undergoing a rebrand.

 

DeWitt County Museum and CH Moore Homestead Director Joey Long tells Regional Radio News the museum is doing a complete rebrand that will provide a fresh modern look but at the same time keep the historical legacy.

 

 

Earlier this week, Regional Radio News mentioned the website for the homestead was changing, and Long notes that too, is a part of their rebrand. She is looking forward to the new website and hopes it will enhance messaging for the museum and representative of the museum.

 

 

Appealing to a younger demographic has been a focus for the museum and its leadership in recent years. Long hopes this will not only be a net positive for the museum but additionally hopes it will add some appeal for younger people to want to be a part of their mission.

 

 

Long expressed her excitement for the final product because she's seen what the designer has done in other areas and was very impressed. 

 

The site's URL will continue to be chmoorehomestead.org. 

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Heritage Behavioral Health Services Promoting Gambling Awareness Month

A recent survey of local residents in DeWitt and Macon Counties indicates gambling addiction is likely more common than many realize.

 

With the availability of sports wagering and video gaming at locations all over the place in our communities, Jessica Smiley with Heritage Behavioral Health Services indicates addiction related to wagering seems to be more prevalent than we realize.

 

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Smiley indicates no matter what level of wagering you participate in, the addiction component can impact several aspects of our lives.

 

 

According to Smiley, gambling can have an impact on relationships at home and even in the workplace. She explains the financial secrets that are often kept can impact the home and then it can also become a distraction at work.

 

 

The stigmas around seeking help for gambling addiction have a lot in common with the stigmas in getting help for emotional or mental issues. Smiley says it is hard to acknowledge the problem of gambling addiction and then the added pressure of worrying about what friends or family would say or think about that problem.

 

 

Heritage offers gambling addiction services. Smiley points alone who might need help to heritagenet.org. They have also been sharing lots of information about gambling addiction on their Facebook page.

 

Additionally, you can call a hotline, 800-GAMBLER for more gambling addiction services. 

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Illinois Soybean Association Says Zoom Meeting Have Led to Productive Conversations With Legislators

According to the CEO of the Illinois Soybean Association, there have been some positives during the pandemic. John Lumpe (LUMP) says the ability to meet with legislators via Zoom has led to some productive conversations.

 

 

Lumpe (LUMP) says they also just wrapped up the Commodity Classic which was held virtually this year. The national event features educational sessions and a trade show.

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Gov. Pritzker Gets COVID Shot

The Governor received his COVID 19 vaccination today at the Orr Building. JB Pritzker seems to have waited to get his shot until government employees were eligible to become vaccinated. Pritzker says the timing worked outright to get his shot while in Springfield – so he was glad to make use of the guards’ mass vaccination site.

 

 

Pritzker received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

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April 6 Sales Tax Amendment Referendum in Logan County Being Watched Closely by Mt. Pulaski Schools

April 6, rural Logan County schools are hoping voters will approve a referendum that amends a tax already in place that will expand the scope of those dollars. 

 

Fred Lamkey is the Superintendent of Mt. Pulaski Schools and indicates the initial purpose of the one-cent sales tax was to go towards facility improvements and ease the burden on taxpayers. But since Gov. JB Pritzker has expanded the scope for where those dollars can go.

 

 

According to Lamkey, they have counselors in their school buildings already and have a good working relationship with the Mt. Pulaski Police Department and the Logan County Sheriff's Department. But he believes the mental and emotional wellness component of this legislation will be much needed down the road as well.

 

 

In a police reform bill signed into law last month, the school resource officer was initially proposed to be taken out of the school setting. That portion of the legislation was ultimately taken out, however, there is a belief that could get revisited this year. Lamkey says it is disappointing SROs are a political pawn for the games in Springfield.

 

 

According to Lamkey, the benefit of opening up the possibilities with this tax referendum is the opportunity to share resources like a social worker or school resource officer with other smaller districts like Hartsburg-Emden, whom we heard from earlier this week on Regional Radio News.

 

The referendum appears on the ballot in Logan County on April 5. 

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Warner Hospital Foundation Scholarships Available

Graduating high school students looking to get into a medical career and students that have been accepted into a program are encouraged to check out scholarship opportunities through the Warner Hospital Foundation. 

 

Matt Riley on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday told Regional Radio News last year the Foundation offered two different demographics a chance at scholarship money. They are offering students in or that have been accepted to a program a chance at scholarship funding as well as graduating high school seniors that are pursuing a medical degree or students that are in college that has not yet been accepted to a program.

 

 

Funds available to distribute this year might be down. According to Riley, the Foundation sets aside 10-percent of its fundraising each year, however, last year fundraising was all but cut off due to the pandemic.

 

 

Last year was a banner year for applicants. Whether it was students having more time to find scholarships being home with no activities happening or just a natural increase, Riley hopes to see that kind of interest again.

 

 

Applications for the Warner Hospital Foundation Scholarship are due April 15. Riley directs anyone interested in applying for the scholarship to the Warner Hospital website and seeking out the Foundation's page there. You can also contact Melissa White at the hospital for more information. 

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Illinois State Police Asking for Tweaks in FOID/Conceal Carry Laws

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS ASKING FOR A FEW TWEAKS IN STATE LAW TO HELP REDUCE THE BACKLOG OF FOID AND CONCEALED CARRY CARDS TO BE PROCESSED. 

 

THERE'S BEEN A 167 PERCENT INCREASE IN FOID CARD APPLICATION OVER THE PAST FEW YEAR, OVERWHELMING AN ALREADY ANTIQUATED SYSTEM SAYS STATE POLICE DIRECTOR BRENDAN KELLY. HE'S LOOKING FOR SOME COMMON SENSE CHANGES THAT WILL MAKE THE SYSTEM MORE STREAMLINED FOR THE STATE, AND THE PUBLIC.

 

 

KELLY SAYS THEY WOULD ALSO LIKE TO GET THE RENEWAL PROCESS IN SYNC, SO THAT WHEN YOU RENEW A CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE, YOU'RE ALSO AUTOMATICALLY RENEWING YOUR FOID CARD. AND HE THINKS THE CARDS SHOULD BE ELECTRONIC, REMOVING THE NEED FOR A PAPER LICENSE.

 

 

KELLY SAYS RENEWALS SHOULD BE IN SYNC, SO THAT WHEN YOU RENEW A CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE, YOUR FOID IS AUTOMATICALLY RENEWED AS WELL.

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Sen. Rose: Gov. Pritzker Celebrating Criminals, Educational Failure at Same Time

A central Illinois lawmaker recently pondered the discrepancy in Illinois Governor JB Pritzker's venue to sign into law the recent police reform bill.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose says Gov. Pritzker signing into law the police reform bill - which Sen. Rose says celebrates criminals - at the failing institution of Chicago State University is the celebration of mediocrity while making the state less safe.

 

 

According to the Mahomet Republican, if Illinois is headed towards more crime and less education then "we're in deep trouble." He believes the public has been sold a bag of goods to believe mediocrity is excellence.

 

 

Sen. Rose points to the common core curriculum as the dumbing down of our educational standards and then on top of that, there are millions of kids in the country not going to school at all right now.

 

 

Rose discussed the crime bill after offering support for school resource officers in the school setting after the SROs were threatened to be banned from schools in the police reform bill. 

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Gov. Pritzker Signs Four Economic Equity, Opportunity Bills

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS SIGNING A PACKAGE OF FOUR BILLS DESIGNED TO INCREASE ECONOMIC EQUITY AND OPPORTUNITIES ACROSS THE STATE. 

 

THE NEW LAWS TACKLE DISCRIMINATION AND INEQUITIES FROM SEVERAL ANGLES, PREVENTING EMPLOYERS FROM DISQUALIFYING CANDIDATES WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD UNLESS IT SUBSTANTIALLY RELATES TO THE JOB AND CAPPING THE INTEREST RATE ON SHORT-TERM LOANS AT 36 PERCENT.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THE LAWS ALSO CHANGE THE STATE'S PROCUREMENT CODE TO INCREASE THE DIVERSITY OF BUSINESS CONTRACTING WITH THE STATE AND IMPROVES ACCESS TO PUBLIC HOUSING.

 

 

THE LEGISLATION IS ONE OF THE FOUR PILLARS PUSHED BY THE ILLINOIS LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS. EDUCATION AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM PILLARS HAVE ALREADY BEEN SIGNED INTO LAW.

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Most of Illinois Getting Rain This Week

Much of the state getting rain this week as an active weather pattern continues. Trent Ford is Illinois State Climatologist.

 

 

Temperatures should remain pretty mild though the week.

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Clinton High School Preparing for Summer School

Credit recovery will be the focus for Clinton High School during summer sessions in 2021 as the district prepares to make up for lost instruction during the COVID pandemic.

 

Principal Jerry Wayne indicates it will be a six-week program that will focus on credit recovery for their students, however, it is likely only one class will be able to be recovered.

 

 

According to Wayne, each student is at their own point in credit achievement. For remote learners, he says they saw a lot of students work hard and others struggled.

 

 

Wayne indicates the spectrum of success for remote learners is varied and contact with those students can be limited. He indicates they are working to keep tabs on those students and while some are responsive, others are not.

 

 

The Clinton Board of Education approved a three-year summer school plan last week. 

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Lincoln Sewer Project Picking Up Steam

A multi-million dollar sewer project in the City of Lincoln is picking up steam.

 

After the City switched contractors, Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch on the WHOW Morning Show Friday told Regional Radio News equipment is starting to get put in place as the weather begins to turn and hopes work begins to pick up as the weather turns to spring.

 

 

At nearly $20-million, it is an extremely costly project for any rural community. Mayor Welch indicates it took a few years for the City to get its ducks in a row to begin work. He says it is being financed through low-interest loans.

 

 

According to the Mayor, the change in charging residents for consumption rather than a flat rate allowed the City to make sure the rates they charged would be able to cover the costs of payments on the bonds used for the project, and not force them to keep coming back to change them.

 

 

The Mayor says Lincoln residents have become more aware of how much water they are using which has begun to limit its usage in the city. 

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Macon County Farm Bureau's New 'Adopt-A-Legislator'

The Macon County Farm Bureau recently adopted a new legislator.

 

Tim Stock, Macon County Farm Bureau Executive Vice President, indicates following the resignation of Sen. Heather Steans, the Farm Bureau adopted Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove).

 

 

Stock notes the Macon County Farm Bureau has been involved in the Adopt-A-Legislator program for many years. He says it is a great way to educate urban legislators about agriculture and rural communities.

 

 

The Illinois Farm Bureau started the Adopt-A-Legislator program in 2001, with 73 legislators participating to date.

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Farmland Values Stable in 2020

How did farmland prices hold up in 2020? A stable year says Luke Worrell with the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers

 

 

Excellent category land averaged $10,870 per acre in 2020 compared to $10,435 in 2019. Good category land was $8,446 compared to $8,335 in 2019. Recreation land averaged $3,689 per acre in 2020 compared to $3,904 the year before.

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Bridge Phase Close

When will Illinois move to the next phase of the Restore Illinois plan?

 

The “Bridge” phase will usher in more people at convention centers, outdoor events and social gatherings. Governor JB Pritzker says it will happen when the right metrics are met and while he can’t say just when he’s expecting it fairly soon.

 

 

The state has started to open up vaccine appointments to more individuals. Government workers are now qualified and next week restaurant workers will be eligible.

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DeWitt County Museum Director Discusses Reopening Plans

As businesses and entertainment venues begin to open up across the state and the country, a local historical site is beginning to put pen-to-paper for its plans to reopen.

 

DeWitt County Museum and CH Moore Homestead Director Joey Long indicates they are starting to look at dates to reopen. Traditionally, the first of April is typically when the Museum opens but in 2021, it will be a little later.

 

 

Historical artifacts with local significance are up and down the museum and Long indicates keeping those preserved once visitors begin filtering back in will be a priority. The challenge in 2021 is becoming how those artifacts will handle the chemicals of the modern-day while keeping the home cleaned.

 

 

Traditional events like the quilt show might be moved to later in the summer. Last week, Long announced the Apple n' Pork Festival will be returning in 2021 and hopes to see events like last year's inaugural 'porch posts' as something that could continue.

 

 

The Museum website is changing right now so Long recommends those interested in learning more about the Museum find them on Facebook. You can also seek out the Apple n' Pork Festival Facebook page as well for more details about the Festival returning this fall. 

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Clinton Junior High School Preparing for Summer Learning

Plans are now in motion for getting Clinton students caught up over the summer for all the lost classroom instruction from the last 12 months and for those remote learners that will need extra work.

 

At Clinton Junior High School, the focus will be on students that are in jeopardy of repeating a level as well as students that teachers identify as needing more attention. Principal Jim Peck indicates there will be several variables when identifying students that will need that attention.

 

 

According to Peck, there are students that have fallen behind in the last year. Assistant Principal Leslie Albee indicates at the same time, there are students that are doing just fine - if not thriving - in the remote setting. Peck points out, kids that who are in-person are definitely doing better.

 

 

Students should be at a certain point in their development and academic progress, however, Peck points out the progress made this year has been a surprise for his teachers. 

 

 

Albees points out one of the biggest challenges for the junior high school student is time management, and that can be reflected in a student's ability to keep up in remote learning without guidance. Albee looks forward to having all students back eventually.

 

Last week, the Clinton Board of Education approved a three-year summer school program. 

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Hart-Em Superintendent Makes Case for Spring Referendum

A referendum on the ballot this April will seek to allow for the one-cent sales tax in Logan County to be used to bring in a school resource officer and expand mental health services for rural school districts.

 

Superintendent of Hartsburg-Emden (Hart-Em) schools, Terry Wisniewski emphasizes the tax rate is not going to change. Instead, it changes the scope of things it can be used on. Currently, the tax can help ease property taxes or be used on facilities.

 

 

According to Wisniewski, the district receives around $100,000 from the one-cent tax in Logan County and roughly $10,000 of that would be required for a school resource officer in the district. 

 

 

The SRO in Illinois schools recently came under attack when Illinois lawmakers proposed - as a part of the police overhaul bill last month - removing SROs from the school setting. Wisniewski credits his fellow superintendents for recognizing the dangers of such a measure and pulling together to have that provision removed.

 

 

Hart-Em would likely share the SRO with Mt. Pulaski. Wisniewski has a good working relationship with Hilltoppers Superintendent Fred Lamkey, and we'll hear from Lamkey later this week on Regional Radio News about the referendum and its impact on his district. 

 

The spring election is on April 6. 

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Macon County Farm Bureau Celebrating National Ag Week

This week is National Ag Week and, the Macon County Farm Bureau is celebrating in a few unique ways.

 

Jennifer Fink, Macon County Farm Bureau Director of Information and Ag Literacy Coordinator, indicates the Macon County Farm Bureau will be donating suggested books from Illinois Ag in the Classroom to two elementary schools.

 

 

Fink says they will also celebrate by recognizing the first baby born on National Ag Day (March 23  in Macon County.

 

 

Follow Macon County Farm Bureau on their social media platforms for all of their Ag Week festivities.

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Illinois Treasurer Celebrates $1-Billion in Investments for State of Illinois

Illinois' Treasurer Michael Frerichs is celebrating a significant milestone the state hasn't completed since 1999. Frerichs, who took office in 2015, said that the state government had earned more than $1 billion on its investments since he took office.

 

 

Frerichs said the money is invested in over 700 state funds, with many of them for specific purposes.

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Starting This Fall, Illinois' 12 Public Universities Will Use Common Application for Admissions

IT'S GOING TO BE EASIER FOR STUDENTS TO APPLY TO MULTIPLE STATE UNIVERSITIES THIS FALL.

 

THREE SCHOOLS CURRENTLY USE THE COMMON APPLICATION, LETTING STUDENTS APPLY TO A BUNCH OF COLLEGES AT ONCE. GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER MORE ARE COMING ON LINE.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THREE CURRENTLY USE THE SYSTEM.

 

 

THIS WILL MAKE ILLINOIS ONE OF ONLY TWO STATES TO HAVE ALL STATE UNIVERSITIES USING THE COMMON APP.

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Piatt County Mental Health Professional Frustrated by Guidance for Group Homes Has Not Changed

Despite recent COVID mitigation efforts, a Piatt County mental health professional says their guidance has not changed hardly at all in recent months.

 

Tony Kirkman is the Executive Director of the Piatt County Mental Health Center and indicates his frustration for guidance that only goes of what is happening in northern Illinois.

 

 

According to Kirkman, last May was the last update to service providers and he indicates vaccination rates continue to increase among his staff and even some clients. He hopes those things will be enough to get an update soon.

 

 

There has been no word yet on how the impacts the Governor's new 'bridge' phase will impact human service providers in Illinois. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

It'll feel more like spring this weekend but more rain is on the horizon. State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us just how much...

 

 

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Gov. Pritzker Says No Vaccine Card Will Be Needed

As more and more people become fully vaccinated in Illinois will residents need to carry a card to prove that they have had their shot? Governor JB Pritzker says the state won’t be requiring anyone to carry anything right now to show their vaccination status.

 

 

Illinois is vaccinating about 100,000 a people a day right now and close to 40,000 people out of that group are on the receiving end of their second shot.

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Illinois Extends Tax Deadline

ILLINOIS TAXPAYERS ARE GETTING A LITTLE MORE TIME TO FILE THEIR INCOME TAXES. 

 

THE STATE IS GIVING PEOPLE UNTIL MAY 17TH NOW TO FINISH UP THEIR TAXES SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF RENVEUE SPOKEPERSON TERRY HORSTMAN.

 

 

HORSTMAN SAYS TWO POINT FOUR MILLION ILLINOISANS HAVE ALREADY FILED THEIR TAXES, WITH 79 PERCENT EXPECTING A REFUND. 

 

 

HORSTMAN NOTES THAT THE DATE EXTENSION DOES NOT APPLY TO ESTIMATED TAX PAYMENTS THAT ARE DUE ON APRIL 15TH.

 

YOU CAN FILE YOUR I-L 10-40 FOR FREE ONLINE AT: MY TAX DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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Illinois House Approves Expansion of Curb-Side, Ballot Drop Box Voting

THE ILLINOIS HOUSE IS VOTING TO EXPAND SOME OF THE CHANGES MADE TO ACCOMMODATE COVID-19 CONCERNS DURING LAST FALL’S ELECTION. 

 

THE LEGISLATION LETS LOCAL ELECTION AUTHORITIES CONTINUE TO USE BALLOT BOXES AND CURB-SIDE VOTING AND REQUIRES THEM TO ACCEPT MAIL IN BALLOTS EVEN WITHOUT THE CORRECT POSTAGE. IT’S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIE KATIE STUART OF COLLINSVILLE.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE TIM BUTLER OF SPRINGFIELD EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT NOT SETTING ANY STANDARDS FOR THE BOXES.

 

 

THE BILL ALSO REQUIRES ELECTION STAFF TO ACCEPT MAIL-IN BALLOTS EVEN WITHOUT THE CORRECT POSTAGE. IT NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE FOR A VOTE.

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DeWitt County Board Sets Next Thursday for Postponed Meeting

The postponed Thursday night DeWitt County Board meeting will be pushed back a week.

 

The meeting will now be held on Thursday, March 25 at 6 pm. 

 

A fire Thursday morning on Jackson Street across the street from the County building resulted in power and internet being taken out of the area, including the DeWitt County Courthouse. 

 

Additionally, on a rather cold day, the heat was out on that side of the building.

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Apple n' Pork Festival to Return in 2021

The Apple n' Pork Festival will be back in 2021.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Director of the DeWitt County Homestead and Museum, Joey Long told Regional Radio News the Board has decided to bring back the annual festival this September. It was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.

 

 

Long reminds that the Homestead does not receive federal or state funding, so fundraising is of the utmost importance in maintaining the home and keeping the property thriving. She points out while not having last year certainly hurt, they are focused on moving forward. 

 

 

The Festival will take place on September 25-26 this fall. 

 

Long indicates anyone interested in being a new flea market vendor this year can submit applications to appleporkfleamarket@gmail.com. Anyone interested in other items regarding the Festival can be submitted to chmoore.homestead@gmail.com. 

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Local Vaccine Interest Waning as More and More Get Vaccinated

Yesterday on Regional Radio News, we reported nearly one-in-three DeWitt County residents and one-in-two Piatt County residents have received the COVID vaccine.

 

While those are encouraging numbers and Governor Pritzker Thursday issued guidance for reopening Illinois based on a percentage of 65-and over getting vaccinated, interest locally is decreasing.

 

Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Dave Remmert indicates as more people get vaccinated, interest is starting to drop-off.

 

 

In late February and early March, the health department faced a vaccine shortage due to a mix-up with IDPH but Remmert indicates as they get their supply restocked and resume vaccinations for the first dose, they have posted a new 'Signupgenius' link to their website and Facebook page.

 

 

Remmert indicates at one point, Piatt County led the State of Illinois first-dose vaccinations. He believes things are moving in a positive direction. 

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Clinton Elementary School Pricipals Discuss Summer School

Tuesday night, the Clinton Board of Education approved plans for summer school.

 

Last week on the WHOW Morning Show, building principals outlined what their plans will be for summer school. Clinton Elementary School Principal Sasha Young told Regional Radio News the data coming out of their building would indicate students are roughly a school-quarter to a half-a-year behind. 

 

 

According to Young, summer school for her students will include a lot of foundation skills and working to make sure kids are getting those concepts in place so they are ready to move to the next level.

 

 

Assistant Principal Ben Mooney says having students in the building this year has gone very well. He believes not having school for so long gave everyone a renewed sense of appreciation for what they have and believes it has gone better than they could have anticipated. 

 

 

Young believes remote learning this year when students were forced to be home has been executed much better this school. She points out remote learning this year has gone much better than last spring and also attributes the positive progress of their students to being in-person as much as they have. 

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Gov. Pritzker Announces 'Bridged Phase' Between Four and Five

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING A NEW BRIDGE PHASE TO MOVE ILLINOIS FROM PHASE FOUR TO PHASE FIVE OF THE STATE'S REOPENING PLAN. 

 

THE CHANGE AIMS TO BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN THE CURRENT RESTRICTIONS IN PHASE FOUR TO GOING BACK TO NORMAL IN PHASE FIVE. WHEN THIS NEW PHASE KICKS IN DEPENDS ON THE DATA SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS IT’S TIME TO START MOVING ILLINOIS BACK TO NORMAL.

 

 

THAT NUMBER IS CURRENTLY 58 PERCENT. UNDER THE BRIDGE PHASE… HEALTH CLUBS, OFFICES, SALONS, MUSEUMS AND RETAILERS CAN OPERATE AT 60 PERCENT CAPACITY. GATHERINGS OF UP TO 250 PEOPLE INDOORS AND 500 PEOPLE OUTDOORS WILL BE ALLOWED.

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All Illinoisans Will Be Eligible for COVID Vaccine April 12

ALL ILLINOISANS WILL BE ELIGIBLE TO GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE STARTING MONDAY, APRIL 12TH.

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THANKS TO THE INCREASE IN DOSES SENT BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, THE STATE’S VACCINATION PROGRAM WILL SOON BE OPEN TO EVERYONE.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS AS MORE DOSES COME IN, MORE LOCATIONS WILL BE SET-UP TO ADMINISTER THE VACCINE.

 

 

VACCINATIONS WILL CONTINUE TO BE BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, AND THOSE BECOMING ELIGIBLE APRIL 12TH WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THEN TO SCHEDULE THEIR SHOT. MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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House Committee Approves Bill Requiring American Asian History in Schools

HOUSE LAWMAKERS CONTINUE TO LOOK AT WAYS TO MAKE HISTORY LESSONS TAUGHT IN SCHOOL MORE INCLUSIVE. 

 

EARLIER THIS YEAR, THE GOVERNOR SIGNED A NEW LAW REQUIRING SCHOOLS TO EXPAND AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY CURRICULUM TO INCLUDE PRE-ENSLAVEMENT HISTORY AND MORE ABOUT THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. NOW, EFFORTS ARE UNDERWAY TO MAKE SURE ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORY IS INCLUDED AS WELL. REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER GONG-GERSHOWITZ OF GLENVIEW IS SPONSORING THE BILL.

 

 

17 YEAR OLD LANE TECH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT PHONG NGUYEN, WHO WAS BORN IN VIETNAM, TESTIFIED BEFORE LAWMAKERS ABOUT THE NEED FOR THE CHANGE.

 

 

THE BILL NOW MOVES TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR A VOTE.

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Thursday Night DeWitt County Board Meeting Postponed

A fire across the street from the DeWitt County Building that knocked power out for the area has resulted in a power outage at the building and tonight's DeWitt County Board meeting has been postponed.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker informed Regional Radio News of the development earlier Thursday. The Courthouse portion of the building is without heat, power, and internet.

 

DeWitt County Board Chair Terry Ferguson and Administrator DeeDee Rentmeister will decide when to reschedule the meeting for, likely next week.

 

The Thursday fire occurred around 11 am stemming from a downed tree and had components of both electrical and gas involvement. 

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Clinton Fire Fighters on Scene for House Fire

First responders were called to the scene of an electric and gas fire on Jackson Street around 11 am on Thursday afternoon.

 

Captain Chris White tells Regional Radio News the house was partially involved in flames when crews arrived and due to there being active electric lines and gas lines involved, crews fought the fire from the exterior of the home.

 

 

Crews from Clinton, Wapella, Maroa, Kenney, and Heyworth were on the scene. White indicates it was too early to deem the home a total loss.

 

Ameren was on the scene to cut off power and gas utilities. 

 

Due to power outages in the area, the DeWitt County Courthouse has been closed for the day. 

 

 

 

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Nearly 1-In-3 DeWitt County Residents Have Been Vaccinated

The latest data from the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department indicates nearly one-in-three DeWitt County residents have been vaccinated.

 

The latest release from the Department indicates 5134 residents have been received their vaccine. 

Nearly half of Piatt County residents have been vaccinated as well. The Health Department reports 7903 residents have received their vaccine.

 

The latest data shows five new confirmed COVID cases between Friday last week and Tuesday this week in DeWitt County while Piatt County reported 11 new confirmed cases in that same period.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 1343 cases while Piatt County has had a total of 1421 cases. 

 

There have now been a total of 23 deaths in DeWitt County and 14 deaths in Piatt County due to COVID-19. 

 

Thanks to a vaccine shortage earlier this month, the Department continues with vaccination clinics for second dose recipients only through March. We have loaded a new SignUpGenius link for April appointments. Find the link on its website www.dewittpiatthealth.com or its Facebook page.

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Clinton Schools Stopping Temperature Checks Before Students Enter Buildings

As COVID mitigations gradually decrease, Clinton Schools are doing away with a practice they've been doing since the start of the new school year.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday following up the Tuesday night Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Curt Nettles told Regional Radio News they are still going to ask parents to self-certify kids coming to school are COVID-symptom free - however, temperature checks as students enter the building will not be a practice anymore.

 

 

Nettles also provided a positive update regarding COVID in the schools, which continues to be less and less impactful with students out due to positive cases or quarantine.

 

 

Nettles is "optimistically anticipatory" the Illinois State Board of Education will provide guidance for full in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year. 

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Illinois Prairie Community Foundation Seeking High School Kids for Youth Engaged in Philanthropy Program

A central Illinois non-profit is seeking youth in DeWitt and Logan Counties to be a part of a philanthropic group aimed at supporting their communities.

 

The Illinois Prairie Community Foundation's Youth Engaged in Philanthropy is seeking high school students in DeWitt and Logan Counties to participate in next year's program. Michele Evans with the IPCF indicates currently they primarily have students from McLean County but they really would like DeWitt and Logan County students to be a part of the program.

 

 

Amanda Cole is the mentor for the Youth Engaged in Philanthropy program. She indicates most of their 14-member group this year is made up of seniors. She explains despite the pandemic, the students have been very active virtually, and that virtual component has been a big development in their ability to continue to operate through the COVID pandemic.

 

 

Aashish Thakur is a senior at Normal Community High School and has been in Youth Engaged in Philanthropy for three years. He has grown a great deal in those three years and encourages high school students to step up and be a part of a group that gives back to their communities.

 

 

Youth Engaged in Philanthropy yearly distributes $10,000 to youth-based non-profits in DeWitt, Logan, Livingston, and McLean Counties. Jasmyn Jordan says that process though is only a small part of what she has learned in her four years in the organization.

 

 

The 2021-2022 school year will be the ninth for YEP. The group will be limited to 20-25 participants. The online application is available at http://www.ciyep.org/membership-application-1 and must be completed by April 3, 2021. Individuals selected to be a part of the 2021-2022 YEP group will be notified in May. For more information, contact Cole at amandal.cole@yahoo.com or through the IPCF office at 309-662-4477.

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Illinois GOP Announces 'Reimagine Illinois' Initiative

ILLINOIS HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE ROLLING OUT THEIR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA...CALLED REIMAGINE ILLINOIS. 

 

HOUSE G-O-P LAWMAKERS HAVE INTRODUCED ABOUT 80 BILLS...ADDRESSING FOUR MAJOR GOALS SAYS MAJORITY LEADER JIM DURKIN.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE AVERY BOURNE OF MORRISONVILLE WAS A PART OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT.

 

 

SPECIFIC BILLS INCLUDE A "BACK THE BADGE PROGRAM" TO RECRUIT AND TRAIN POLICE OFFICERS, REFORM THE STATE'S FOID CARD SYSTEM AND ESTABLISHING AN APPRENTICESHIP EDUCATION PROGRAM.

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Governor Pritzker Says He'll Outline Reopening Plan in Coming Days

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HE WILL BE ANNOUNCING NEW REOPENING PLANS IN THE COMING DAYS. 

 

ILLINOIS IS CURRENTLY IN PHASE FOUR OF THE PANDEMIC, BUT IT'S A BIG JUMP TO PHASE FIVE, WHEN EVERYTHING GOES BACK TO NORMAL. THAT'S WHY THE GOVERNOR IS EXPECTED TO RELEASE A MORE INCREMENTAL PHASE IN. HE SAYS THEY ARE CONSIDERING SEVERAL FACTORS.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR IS EXPECTED TO LAYOUT A PLAN TO MOVE TOWARDS NORMALCY IN STAGES.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS MORE THAN FOUR POINT TWO MILLION DOSES OF THE COVID-19 VACCINE HAVE BEEN ADMINISTERED SO FAR IN ILLINOIS.

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Illinois Old State Capitol Receiving Renovation

The Old State Capitol building in Springfield is receiving a facelift.

 

Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Rachel Torbert indicates it closed last week and will receive a fresh coat of paint among some other cosmetic upgrades through March and likely through April.

 

 

Torbert recognizes for those that go to Springfield for the attractions, it makes the list of the top places you need to visit.

 

 

The Old State Capitol was completed in 1837 and was officially decommissioned in 1876. 

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Snow Likely Done But Plenty of Rain Rest of Month

Snow may be done in Illinois; but there are plenty of rain chances for the rest of March. So says DTN Chief Agriculture Meteorologist Bryce Anderson.

 

 

Anderson also sees a more seasonable to mild temperature pattern for the remainder of March in Illinois.

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Illinois State University, Community Colleges Working Through Teacher Shortages

Five community colleges are working with Illinois State University to address the teacher shortage. Illinois Valley, Heartland, Spoon River, Carl Sandburg, and Illinois Central are ISU's partners in CommuniTeach. Illinois Valley Community College Vice President for Academic Affairs Deb Anderson says the community colleges act like feeder schools to ISU. ISU will offer part-time and partly online coursework on the path to teacher certification.

 

 

Community colleges will begin their classes in CommuniTeach this fall. The first classes at ISU begin in the fall of 2022. The plan is to have the first graduates teaching in 2025.

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Department of Ag Director Hoping for Normal State Fair in 2021

The acting Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture feeling good about the chances of having in-person Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs. Jerry Costello making his comments to RFD Radio this week.

 

 

Both state fairs were canceled last summer due to the pandemic.

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Clinton Board of Education Deliberates on Allowing Students Back as COVID Declines

COVID numbers both locally and statewide are diminishing. Governor JB Pritzker is said to be contemplating easing restrictions further as soon as this week. Tuesday night, the Clinton Board of Education discussed allowing students to return to the classroom early. 

 

The Board of Education allowed students to return from remote learning to in-person learning at the turn of the semester in January and have previously discussed allowing students to return ahead of that but no such action was taken.

 

The discussion came back up Tuesday night as Board Secretary Sondra Baker and Chris Hammer stated their case to the Board.

 

 

Tammie Ennis agreed with Hammer about the perception of COVID now versus back in the fall. She believes even though there are only two-and-a-half months of the school year left, that is a big deal to a student.

 

 

But School Board President Dan Matthews balked at the idea of allowing kids back. While he agrees the best place for kids to be is in the classroom, he believes they need to stick to the policy they put in place. He also points to Tuesday night's approval of summer school as a reason to stick to the policy.

 

 

Other considerations brought up during the discussion were the uncertainty of the fall months when COVID began its second spike. Additionally, the costs of the remote learning program have been paid for by the district for all students through each semester.

 

The Board of Education approved summer school plans for each building in the district Tuesday night. Last week, principals of each building joined the WHOW Morning Show discussing their plans for summer school and we'll have more on those this week and next on Regional Radio News. 

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Piatt County Mental Health Official Outlines Study Targeting Youth and Marijuana

A recent study shows increased issues in mental and emotional health challenges in youth who frequently use marijuana and with a year of legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois, that has a central Illinois mental healthcare professional very concerned.

 

Tony Kirkman is the Executive Director of the Piatt County Mental Health Center and Tuesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show told Regional Radio News a recent study shows youth who frequently use marijuana saw a deterioration of mental health at the same time.

 

 

According to Kirkman, the last part of the brain to develop is the prefrontal-cortex which deciphers reasoning, risk, and impulsivity among many other crucial functions. He says this is concerning for our youth who use marijuana frequently given its side-effects.

 

 

As the State of Illinois rakes in record amounts of money from legalized pot sales and its commitments to funneling that money into positive outlets, a frustration from Kirkman recently has been the lack of distributing that money to places like his office.

 

 

With increased access to legal cannabis in Illinois, Kirkman would like to see increased educational efforts towards youth and the impacts it can have. He says kids do not respond to scare tactics in education so he believes they need to be confronted with facts and data. 

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Clinton's Lincoln, Douglas School Principal Discusses Summer

Tonight, the Clinton Board of Education is anticipated to approve a plan for summer school in the district to make up for lost classroom instruction time over the course of the COVID pandemic and make sure students are where they should be to advance.

 

Clinton's Lincoln and Douglas Schools Principal Beth Wickenhauser indicates she is looking at having students come in four days a week for four weeks. She says they will be evaluating students to decide who could benefit from such a program.

 

 

According to Wickenhauser, she believes it could take up to three summers to get kids caught up all the way. She points out a lot of basic skills are still needing to develop for the students in the age groups in her buildings.

 

 

Thanks to COVID, most students are behind in their foundational development. According to Wickenhauser, kindergarteners are not nearly as behind as other students and Clinton educators have been pleasantly surprised many students are developing better than anticipated.

 

 

Wickenhauser reminds that her students are in the foundational development stages of their learning so they build on so many lessons and skills that lead to advancement for students. 

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IDPH Gives Senate Update on Phased-In Reopening

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH GAVE A COVID-19 UPDATE TO A SENATE COMMITTEE MONDAY, INCLUDING POSSIBLE PLANS FOR A FURTHER PHASED-IN REOPENING.

 

SENATORS HEARD FROM STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) ABOUT HOW VACCINATION EFFORTS ARE INCREASING AS MORE DOSES ARRIVE, AND ASKED WHEN THE STATE COULD MOVE TO PHASE FIVE...A FULL REOPENING OF THE STATE. SHE RESPONDS:

 

 

SENATORS ALSO ASKED ABOUT BUSINESSES REQUIRING EMPLOYEES TO BE VACCINATED AGAINST THE VIRUS. EZIKE SAID SHE DOESN'T KNOW OF ANY ADOPTING SUCH A POLICY RIGHT NOW BUT THAT SOME HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING THE POSSIBILITY OF REQUIRING PROOF OF VACCINATION OR CONTINUOUS COVID TESTING.

 

 

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Comptroller Says Unpaid Fines Will Not Be Deducted from Income Tax Returns

LOW TO MODERATE INCOME TAXPAYERS WITH UNPAID FINES ARE GETTING A LITTLE BIT OF A REPRIEVE THIS YEAR. 

 

USUALLY, THE STATE CAN TAKE OUT OVERDUE FINES FROM YOUR INCOME TAX REFUND. BUT THIS YEAR, THAT WON'T HAPPEN FOR THOSE WHO QUALIFY FOR THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT SAYS ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER SUSANA MENDOZA.

 

 

MONEY OWED WON'T BE TAKEN OUT FOR THOSE WHO QUALIFY FOR THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT.

 

 

THE FINES WILL STILL HAVE TO BE PAID EVENTUALLY, AS THIS IS JUST A DEFERRMENT. TO BE ELIGIBLE, INDIVIDUALS CAN EARN UP TO 15-THOUSAND 820 DOLLARS AND FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR... 56-THOUSAND 844 DOLLARS.

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City Council Hears of Plans to Address ADA Compliance Issues on Webster Street Ramp

Center Street and Webster Street in Clinton offer a unique challenge in being compliant with ADA standards, a challenge that was a component of the recent million-and-a-half dollar project completed last fall.

 

Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting, the Council heard about plans that are being mandated by the Illinois Department of Transportation. According to Public Works Director Steve Lobb, they have done their very best to meet the requirements however, that is a challenge because interpretations of the regulations can vary.

 

 

According to Lobb, the City has been working closely with IDOT to address getting the area into compliance with ADA regulations. A response from IDOT about the compliance of plans to address the area was unacceptable to him.

 

 

Lobb notes because of federal dollars being used to pay for the project, the City cannot be reimbursed without approval from IDOT and this portion of the project needs to be taken care of to receive that approval.

 

 

Engineers of the project Monday night indicated when they received the approval of the project the first time around, they believed they would be able to bypass that corner because they had provided a couple of alternate routes around it. 

 

The cost is estimated at $280,500. The Council will take up the plans at their first meeting in April. 

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Clinton YMCA Offering Free Week of Fitness Courses

To mark new routines for its fitness courses, the Clinton YMCA is offering the community a chance to check out those courses for free.

 

Les Mills classes are offered throughout the day Monday through Saturday at the Y and Executive Director Rennie Cluver on the WHOW Morning Show Monday told Regional Radio News they are opening up the courses to anyone in the community this week.

 

 

If land-group fitness classes are not your thing, Cluver indicates the first two full weeks of April, they will again open up the YMCA to the public to try everything available. April 5-9 then April 12-16 the public will be welcomed into the Y without charge to try any fitness activity they want.

 

 

If you tried to get in shape as a part of your New Year's resolution but that didn't work out, Cluver hopes you'll come back to the Y and try again. He explains their staff can help you find a routine or workouts that can help you meet your goals.

 

 

You can learn more about the Clinton Y by stopping into its facility on Alexander Street, by calling 217-935-935-8307, or by visiting clintoncommymca.org. 

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CHS Administrations Says Year So Far 'Going Fairly Well'

A local high school principal says despite the many challenges this school year has brought, the year has gone "fairly well."

 

CHS Principal Jerry Wayne indicates while there has been some ebb and flow, overall staff and students have adapted very well. He says some of the challenges early on have been reduced classroom instruction time, traffic flow, and wearing masks.

 

 

Wayne notes while the high school has had positive cases, the safety protocols they put in place at the beginning of the school year have limited the transmission of COVID-19 that can occur during the school day.

 

 

Wayne says finding a sense of normalcy in an abnormal year has been a challenge all year long. Another challenge he notes is providing peace of mind for students, parents, and community members that the safety protocols put in place will allow for in-person learning to be done safely and effectively.

 

 

Bob Svencner, CHS Assistant Principal, echoes what his peers at the elementary and junior high levels have said with discipline being down. He credits this to students wanting to come to school and less time spent in the building.

 

 

Svencner says he has not seen an increase in disciplinary issues due to social media, even though students now have more free time.

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Clinton Chamber of Commerce Sets July 1 for Business Expo

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce has set July 1 for its annual Business Expo at Clinton High School.

 

Executive Director Marian Brisard indicates normally this is the time of the year they typically hold the expo and last year they had to cancel it as COVID mitigations quickly escalated, however, they look forward to hosting a safe event.

 

 

According to Brisard, recent guidance to schools regarding distancing and it is reduced to three to six feet gives her hope perhaps that guidance will be extended to the general public and perhaps they could then set up their booths.

 

 

Brisard says businesses can anticipate Business Expo forms going out around the first of April. For more information, contact the Clinton Chamber at 217-935-3364. 

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Community Action Working With Logan County Prisoners

A central Illinois non-profit is getting itself in front of incarcerated Logan County inmates to provide a portion of its services to inmates.

 

Alison Rumler-Gomez is the Executive Director of Community Action and she indicates she has been going to jail in recent weeks. She recently connected to the Logan County Sheriff's Department and is getting in front of its detainees providing portions of services designed to form good habits.

 

 

Community Action recently developed an app called 'Grow Me' and Rumler-Gomez indicates it is designed for their clients but they are tailoring it for these inmates to help them. She says the response has been tremendous.

 

 

The mobile app provides a lot of interactive ways of measuring progress but because detainees do not have access to electronic devices or the internet, Rumler-Gomez indicates they have to do a lot of their measurements of progress on a week-to-week basis. She says it hasn't been a problem and credits the detainees for working hard and wanting to be a part of the process.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez hopes the inmates will view the opportunity as something they would probably not otherwise take advantage of. She has received positive feedback and has seen good effort from the detainees so far.

 

 

While the ultimate goal is to provide good sound principles for these folks to not end up back in jail, she hopes at a simpler level she provides sound principles for their lives. She enjoys giving people the tools and resources to change their lives and live a different way. 

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Report Shows Gen-Z At High Scam Risk

A new study published by a division of the Better Business Bureau shows the stereotype of the “little old lady” as scam victim is wrong, and Gen Z is just as vulnerable to scams as Baby Boomers. 

 

The research surveyed more than 5,000 adults, and as a group, adults 18-24 reported the highest median losses and the highest likelihood of loss. BBB spokesman Don O’Brien tells The Big Z 2020 was a big year for online scammers.

 

 

Fake check scams resulted in an average loss of $1,679 in 2020. Many such scams dovetail off of fake employment scams. O’Brien says many younger adults may not be as familiar with checks as compared to electronic payment methods, potentially making them more vulnerable.

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Illinois Receiving $7-Billion in COVID Relief

The state of Illinois is expected to receive $7 billion in COVID relief funding from the federal government. And already there are plenty of opinions on how to spend it.

 

Comptroller Susana Mendoza wants those dollars to go to covering the short-term borrowing the state did during the start of the pandemic and to pay off the bill backlog. House Republican Tom Demmer agrees but also wants many of those dollars to flow to businesses who lost income because of shutdowns.

 

 

Demmer and other Republicans want more communication between them and the Governor’s office on how the dollars will be allocated.

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Champaign Has to Wait A Year for Return of State Basketball Tournament

This was supposed to be the IHSA boys basketball state tournament weekend. But the ongoing pandemic nixed a state tournament for hoops this season. And this year, the tourney was set to return to Champaign and all four classes were going to play on the same weekend. The IHSA’s Kurt Gibson says we’ll have to wait until next year.

 

 

The 2021 modified IHSA basketball season comes to an end Saturday without a state tournament.

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Congressman Davis Frustrated With Barbed Wire Fencing Still Up at Capitol

US Congressman Rodney Davis is frustrated a barbed-wire barrier remains in place in Washington, D.C. from the inauguration of President Biden.

 

The Taylorville Republican says as of last week, lodging in the D.C.-area is drastically down and the Senate was in session despite the House of Representatives canceling its Thursday, March 11 session for a small threat that never materialized.

 

 

The political temperature of the country feels as volatile as any point in history. According to Davis, if you live on social media, it certainly appears that way. He admits things are not great but believes they are better than they appear.

 

 

Security at the White House through the use of the National Guard has been extended into May. 

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Farmers Address Hunger, Climate Change at Congressional Hearings

Hunger and climate change were front and center at Congressional hearings this week, as farmers and food bank officials took on key challenges facing U.S. agriculture amid the historic pandemic.

 

 When the chips were down during the height of the pandemic, American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval told the House Ag Committee, the nation’s farmers lifted the hungry up…

 

 

But as demand skyrocketed, AFBF and Feeding America sought help from USDA, which stood up the Farmers to Families Food Box Program that delivered more than 140-million food boxes last year.

 

And the need is growing in rural areas…

 

 

Duval credited lawmakers for extending enhanced SNAP benefits in the latest virus relief bill, while food bank officials urged more federal help for SNAP,TEFAP, WIC and other anti-hunger efforts.

Across the Hill at Senate Ag, it was all about climate change.  Arizona Farm Bureau chief Stefanie Smallhouse for Farm Bureau…

 

 

And John Reifsteck, Chair of Growmark Cooperative, in Bloomington, Illinois and a local grain farmer whose fields have shown in extensive studies, huge carbon capture through soil conservation…

 

 

But Reifsteck says producers need to see the hard data and how they can reduce carbon. Farm Bureau’s Smallhouse says U.S. growers through voluntary conservation have already offset more than their ten percent of U.S. emissions, while farming globally accounts for 24 percent of carbon pollution. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

The cooldown came with this week's rain and as we spring ahead this weekend, will those spring temperatures we had in recent weeks return? State Climatologist Trent Ford gives us the answer....

 

 

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Clinton High School Principal Outlines Football Admission Process

Approximately 500 people will be allowed at Clinton High School football games starting Friday, March 19 school officials announced Friday.

 

Principal Jerry Wayne tells Regional Radio News they are approximating that number is roughly 20-percent of their capacity, which he points out has been somewhat of a vague recommendation coming from IDPH and the IHSA.

 

 

According to Wayne, they are turning to an electronic system for ticket buying and admittance. He explains Athletic Director Matt Koeppel will provide links on social media and Wayne also notes they will be admitting visiting team parents to start.

 

 

Wayne points the public to the school's Facebook page for links to those tickets for each game. He also indicates they are exploring having concessions available that will likely be limited to packaged food and drink and he believes they could prepare popcorn safely. 

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Central Illinois Temperatures to Moderate the Rest of March

After a stretch of incredibly dry conditions and moderate temperatures, things should begin to normalize in central Illinois.

 

Perhaps there were hopes a very early harvest could take place in central Illinois with several days of temperatures in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s in some places, that is unlikely to be possible according to Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

 

 

As we get into April and closer to that planting season, Miler anticipates still having normal temperatures but conditions remaining dry.

 

 

Miller explains this is what meteorologists call the transition season because the atmosphere is transitioning to the spring from the winter. He adds anything is possible this time of the year because it is so volatile. 

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New School Guidance

Schools in Illinois are getting new guidance about what constitutes social distancing. The CDC and IDPH now say that a proper level of distance between students can be less than six feet.

 

Governor JB Pritzker says he wants schools to be open. But it has been up to the local districts to decide on how to move forward.

 

 

The state says about 92 percent of all schools are offering some form of in person learning.

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IHSA Executive Director Explains 20-Percent Guidance

Outdoor IHSA sporting events will allow for 20-percent of venue capacity this spring. 

 

That guidance comes from the Illinois Department of Public Health and means seated or bleacher capacity says IHSA executive director Craig Anderson.

 

 

Indoor IHSA events will remain at a spectator limit of 50 fans.

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Clinton Elementary Principals Discuss Pandemic School Year

The 2020-21 pandemic altered school year has been a greater positive than perhaps a lot in the public could have anticipated but a Clinton Schools administrator says she isn't surprised by that.

 

Principal of Clinton Elementary School Sasha Young and Assistant Principal Ben Mooney on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday told Regional Radio News the school year has been going very well despite the challenges. 

 

 

Young indicates she is not surprised by the fact kids have done so well, especially with masking and distancing, because kids are very good at following instructions if you layout why they have to do things.

 

 

According to Mooney, disciplinary issues in the school are way down this year. He attributes that to the distancing that has to be maintained and also the fact the school day is so short.

 

 

Young and Mooney credit the teachers for their dedication to making the school year a success. Mooney says when last March they went to remote learning almost overnight, he says their staff did not flinch then and haven't once since. 

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Clinton School Resource Officer Discusses Proposal to Remove SROs from School Setting

A law enforcement reform bill in Illinois passed last month removed a provision to have school resource officers removed from the school setting unless an emergency required their presence.

 

Not only are local school leaders not happy about that but predictably, law enforcement officials are not either. Clinton Police Department's school resource officer Mike Bennett on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday told Regional Radio News the SRO is often misunderstood for all the things they do in a school in a given day.

 

 

Officer Bennett believes not only is his presence a deterrent to school violence but he believes the relationships he's forming with the youth of the buildings make a difference. He points out those are intangible impacts that make a difference every day.

 

 

Many believe the bill is going to circle back around sooner rather than later, and Bennett is among those. He believes lawmakers wanted to see the reaction and now they will adjust it accordingly.

 

 

Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles has vowed to drive to Springfield to speak before the legislature if the bill comes back up. He says there is absolutely no reason Springfield should be legislating schools cannot have school resource officers in their buildings. 

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VA Vaccine Act, Crafted By Illinois Congressman, Passes US House

The U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed the VA Vaccine Act, legislation crafted by Illinois Congressman Mike Bost. The bipartisan bill expands VA’s authority to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all veterans and their caregivers. The bill is now in the hands of the Senate.

 

Congressman Bost says this bill was originally offered as an amendment to the new COVID relief bill.

 

 

He says the Senate was actually moving a companion bill that was almost the same. The difference is the language in the House bill that states the most needy and vulnerable veterans and their caregivers are not turned away by the VA.

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DNR Promoting Fishing Safety

With Clinton Lake thawing and the turn in the weather bringing out the anglers, a local Department of Natural Resources official is promoting fishing safety.

 

DNR Conservation Police Captain John Williamson indicates Clinton Lake is starting to see a lot more anglers out. Thanks to thawing waters and fish migrating to warmer water, the fishing boats are starting to populate Clinton Lake a lot more in recent weeks.

 

 

Cpt. Williamson encourages checking regulations for whatever area body of water you'll be embarking on. He notes a change could be on the way in regards to size limits.

 

 

Parking at Clinton Lake continues to be an issue. He says the most popular launch they have is also the smallest parking lot. He says DNR officers are very proactive in writing citations and ordering tows if someone is parked illegally.

 

 

Cpt. Williamson implores boaters to make sure they have life jackets on board and all motorboats are in good working condition. He also points out, those fishing licenses expire at the end of the month so if you need your license renewed, visit dnr.illinois.gov. 

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IDPH Says Half of Illinoisans 65 And Older Have Received First Dose of Vaccine

According to state health officials, half of all Illinoisans 65 and older have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health says over 3.4 million vaccines have been administered in the state, with over 1.1 million people fully vaccinated. During a press briefing Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker said the state's COVID numbers have continued to improve.

 

 

The state is averaging about 92-thousand shots per day.

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Congresswoman Bustos Weighs In On Stimulus Bill

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos in support of the nearly two-trillion dollar stimulus bill that passed the House this week.

 

 

The measure includes 14-hundred dollar checks for most Americans. The legislation also extends unemployment benefits amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. President Biden will sign the bill Friday.

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Congressman Davis Critical of Biden Stimulus Plan

According to one Central Illinois lawmaker, President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion 'American Rescue Plan' is too expensive and could leave the tab to generations to come.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis said the cost of the bill could outweigh the benefits down the road.

 

 

Over the weekend, the Senate passed President Biden's plan that includes $1,400 checks for Americans under a certain threshold. Additionally, the bill consists of $350 billion in aid to local and state governments and an extension of federal unemployment benefits. President Biden could sign the bill by the end of the week.

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Inch-Plus of Rain Expected In Some Areas of Illinois

Rain coming to central Illinois this evening into Thursday is going to cool things off.

 

Chris Miller at the National Weather Service in Lincoln told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday central Illinois is on a border of either getting a lot of rain or a moderate amount.

 

 

This stretch of very warm and nice weather for this time of the year is very much out of the ordinary and rarely sticks around long term. Miller indicates there is a silver lining to an upcoming cooldown - it is going to be about average for temperatures for this time of the year.

 

 

A spring snowstorm cannot be ruled out. Miller says mother nature teasing us right now and then unexpectedly dropping snow at some point in the next six weeks isn't out of the question, although nothing is indicating such an event happening right now.

 

 

Miller indicates after this round of rain, things are looking to be on the dry side, which he says is going to allow for a robust planting window heading into April. However, he is still cautioning it is likely to be a very active spring storm season later into April and then into May. 

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Lincoln, Douglas Elementary Schools Enjoying Success After Early Adjustments

'Little Maroons' is how Lincoln and Douglas Elementary Principal Beth Wickenhauser addresses her tiny students and indicates those tiny Little Maroons have done a great job adjusting to the 2020-21 pandemic altered school year.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Wickenhauser told Regional Radio News there was an adjustment period to the school year but since that time, the year has gone very well.

 

 

While some classrooms were shut down from time-to-time through the course of the first six months of school, Wickenhauser indicates they kept students in the same classroom throughout the day which proved advantageous in limiting interactions between students and limited the number of students and teachers that quarantined at a given time.

 

 

Wickenhauser gives props to her teachers for their work in getting the kids accustomed to the new protocols and procedures. She indicates it took them a while to get the kids used to the new way of being at school but credits them with being patient.

 

 

Wickenhauser indicates when remote learners returned to the school setting in January, there was another adjustment period for those kids to get used to the school day on top of getting them caught up academically.

 

Next week on Regional Radio News, we'll hear more from Wickenhauser on summer school plans for her 'Little Maroons.' 

 

Hear more from Clinton school administrators on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday and Friday this week. 

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Local Seniors Want to Get Out

Local seniors want to get out and be active and a local non-profit is ramping up its calendar of events this spring.

 

As more seniors get vaccinated and comfortable returning to day-to-day activities, the DeWitt County Friendship Center is feeding off those vibes and providing lots of opportunities for them to do so. Executive Director Paula Jiles says the month of March offers a good amount of things to do.

 

 

Jiles indicates they are working to offer even more to seniors in April, including beginning to go back to local productions. Seniors can begin registering for April events on April 1 and she encourages anyone wanting to go to call as soon as possible or stop by the Friendship Center and inquire quickly as she anticipates sign-ups filling up fast. 

 

 

Jiles indicates there have been a number of programs resume this month and support groups started back up this week as well.

 

She encourages any seniors that are comfortable returning to the Friendship Center to contact them with questions or details about their events and daily calendar by calling 217-935-9411. 

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Social Security Offers Tips on Medicare Enrollment

If you are looking to get enrolled in Medicare, you will want to keep Social Security in mind. 

 

Jack Myers with Social Security indicates if you are enrolling in Medicare Parts A or B, you will do that through Social Security. He explains even if you're not planning to begin receiving your retirement benefits, you still can apply.

 

 

There is about a seven-month enrollment window to get enrolled and Myers encourages getting enrolled three months prior to turning 65. He also points if you are receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically be enrolled into Medicare Parts A and B.

 

 

According to Myers, Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Part D plans are all enrolled separately from Social Security.

 

 

Myers says it can make sense for someone who is still working or has a spouse who is still working and they are covered by a group healthcare plan to delay signing up for Medicare. In that scenario, you can visit ssa.gov/benefits/medicare. 

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Spring Ahead Means Checking Smoke Alarms

If you haven’t checked your smoke detector in a while, now’s the time. 

 

When you check the battery or battery backup in your detector, you are also asked to make sure the equipment is still in good working order. Saturday is the night most of the nation will "spring forward."East Alton Fire Chief Tim Quigley says in addition to replacing the battery in the older models, you should also inspect your detector.

 

 

You should also check your carbon monoxide detector if it a separate unit. Since 2007 Illinois law requires citizens to have properly placed and functioning CO alarms in all dwelling units that have an attached garage and/or fossil fuel burning capabilities.

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Flags at Staff to Honor COVID Victims

Flags at state buildings are still being flown at half staff to honor the people in Illinois that have died of COVID-19. But have those flags been flown there too long? Governor JB Pritzker gave the order to lower it – is he willing to raise it…

 

 

Over 20,000 people in Illinois have died with COVID.

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Clinton Junior High School Administrators Discuss 2020-21 School Year

The 2020-21 pandemic impacted school year has certainly come with its challenges but a pair of Clinton School leaders recently weighed in on how it has gone from their perspective.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Clinton Junior High School Principal Jim Peck and Assistant Principal Leslie Albee told Regional Radio News, this year has been a net positive for them. If you go back to August, Peck and many others had questions about just how school would go and the overwhelming answer is that school happening has been very good to this point.

 

 

In August, the conversation around sending kids back to school revolved around if they would wear masks and respect the social distancing requirements and by all accounts, kids have adapted very well. Peck says they have very infrequent issues with those things and has tried to be upfront with their kids about why they are doing what they are doing.

 

 

An interesting trend is developing during this pandemic impacted school year - discipline numbers are down sharply in 2020-21. According to Peck, the nice weather of the last few weeks appears to have energized their students but in all, he believes there is a couple of reasons for the decline in behavior issues.

 

 

Disciplinary issues generally fall on the assistant principals and Albee says it has been interesting this year because oftentimes those conversations take place at a distance when sometimes they can require a bit more closeness.

 

 

Next week on Regional Radio News, we'll hear from Peck and Albee about the junior high school's plans for summer school for kids. 

 

Also, throughout this week on Regional Radio, hear from more Clinton school building leaders on the WHOW Morning Show. 

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Congressman Davis Rips 'HR-1'

'HR-1' is often used to designate the highest priority in a given edition of the House of Representatives and a central Illinois Congressman is ripping the priorities laid out in this Congress' edition of HR-1.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis says HR-1 would seek to enrich the coffers of campaigns of Democrats in the House, which he questions why that is the highest priority for them.

 

 

According to the Taylorville Republican, the bill adds a tax to corporate fines that then goes to the Department of the Treasury once it is 'laundered and cleansed' allowing for up to $7.2-million into every member of Congress' campaign.

 

 

The Congressman believes the bill gets more ludicrous when you realize it is Congress that sets the fines for corporations in America. This is a measure that has been proposed before during President Donald Trump's administration and Davis fought it then and says he continues to lead the fight against it now. 

 

HR-1 would need 60 votes in the Senate to pass. 

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Secretary of State Talks Latest Scams

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE'S OFFICE IS WARNING THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE LATEST INVESTMENT SCAMS.

 

THE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES TO BE MOST CAUTIOUS OF OFTEN COME THROUGH THE INTERNET OR SOCIAL MEDIA SAYS SECRETARY WHITE'S SPOKESPERSON, BETH KAUFMAN.

 

 

KAUFMAN SAYS POTENTIAL INVESTORS SHOULD BE WARY.

 

 

 AGAIN THE WEBSITE IS: AVOID THE SCAM DOT NET.

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State Launches Campaign to Encourage Families to Fill Out FAFSA Forms

THE STATE IS LAUNCHING A CAMPAIGN TO GET HIGH SCHOOLERS TO FILL OUT THE FREE FEDERAL APPLICATION FOR STUDENT AID.

 

"ROCK THE FAFSA ILLINOIS" AIMS TO INCREASE AWARENESS ABOUT POTENTIAL FINANCIAL AID AND OFFERS FREE ASSISTANCE IN FILLING OUT THE FORMS. THE STATE STUDENT ASSISTANCE COMMISSION'S LYNNE BAKER SAYS COMPLETING THE FAFSA CAN BE VERY USEFUL TO FAMILIES.

 

 

BAKER SAYS THEY REALLY WANT TO REACH STUDENTS AS THE PANDEMIC CONTINUES, AND HOPE THE "ROCK THE FAFSA" EFFORT WILL HELP.

 

 

HIGH SCHOOLS ARE ENCOURAGED TO HOLD FAFSA WORKSHOPS THIS MONTH. BAKER SAYS A NEW STATE LAW REQUIRES ALL PUBLIC SCHOOL SENIORS TO FILL OUT THE FAFSA OR THE ALTERNATIVE APPLICATION FOR ILLINOIS FINANCIAL AID IN ORDER TO GRADUATE, ALTHOUGH FAMILIES CAN OPT OUT BY SUBMITTING A FORM.

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Sen. Durbin Supports Stimulus Package

The US Senate passed a $1.9 trillion bill to support the economy, speed vaccine distribution, grow the child tax credit and more.

 

But the bill moved with only Democrat votes in the Senate. Illinois’ Dick Durbin says he can’t understand that. After all every Democrat voted to pass bills as big under then President Trump. Durbin says it didn’t matter then who got the political win and it shouldn’t matter now.

 

 

Enhanced unemployment benefits are being extended with the bill and people who have lost their jobs but are paying for healthcare through CORBA are due support in affording those premiums.

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Governor Pritzker Discusses Illinois Fully Reopening

Is Illinois going to open up more of the economy over the next few weeks? Leaders of the convention and hotel industry would like to see more people allowed in ballrooms and at conferences. Governor JB Pritzker says he knows that some people want things to open more quickly but COVID-19 is still a problem. And with new variants moving around the state he still wants to listen medical experts as to when is the right time to open.

 

 

Pritzker says with the state positivity rate under three it’s a great time to continue to keep people healthy as the work beings on expanding possible crowd sizes.

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Kenney Fire Hosting Good Friday Blood Drive

The Kenney Fire Department is once again hosting its annual Good Friday blood drive at its fire station.

 

Troy Lashbrook and Kerry Coles on the WHOW Morning Show Monday told Regional Radio this is the fifth blood drive, this year it honors the recently passed President of the Board Trustees and long-time fireman, Tom Conaty. 

 

 

According to Lashbrook, anyone donating blood will have a temperature check before they enter the building and masks will be required throughout the process. He also points out there will be sanitation efforts happening as people come and go.

 

 

The Red Cross is in dire need of blood and Coles indicates one of the benefits of your donation this year is the Red Cross is also testing blood donations for COVID antibodies, and those results get returned in one to two weeks.

 

 

Contact Lashbrook at 563-321-0416 or Coles at 217-416-1599 for more information. You can also get more registered for an appointment at redcrossblood.org. 

 

Again, the annual Kenney Fire Department Good Friday blood drive takes place on April 2nd from noon to 6 pm at the Fire Department at 110 East Sheldon Street in Kenney. 

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Workforce Investment Solutions Offering Employers Help in Training Employees

If you are an employer in DeWitt or Macon counties needing funding to train employees, then Workforce Investment Solutions can help.

 

Larry Peterson with Workforce Investment Solutions indicates Workforce awards grants to employers to help cover the costs of training their existing employees. He gives an example of a payroll office they were able to help. 

 

 

Peterson says job training is even more critical now to be successful due to everchanging technology and industry standards. He notes employees who show initiative and want to be trained are more likely to be retained.

 

 

Workforce Investment Solutions has a condition on the grant that for the cost to be covered, the employer must pay their employees during the training. Peterson says there is no limit on the cost of the training.

 

 

Peterson notes while some employers may be hesitant about having to pay for the training upfront, it is worth the investment. He says the grant is to enable Illinois companies and employees to remain in the state and be able to compete with other companies out of state.

 

 

To learn more about the grant, contact Workforce Investment Solutions at (217) 875-8751, or visit worknetdecatur.org.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Compares COVID To Spanish Flu Pandemic Course

As the COVID pandemic has worn on, a central Illinois health official has continued to compare and contrast the events of modern-day to the Spanish Flu of 1918.

 

Dave Remmert is the Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department and has been closely following the trends comparing COVID and the Spanish Flu. He explains the two are following a very similar trajectory.

 

 

Remmert points out the Spanish Flu and COVID both fell off during the summer months and then had a resurgence in the late fall and early winter. He hopes the rest of the trends for COVID follow the Spanish Flu, which would be welcome news to everyone.

 

 

As the COVID vaccine rollout continues, things are becoming more efficient in Remmert's two-county area, especially as more vaccines are expected this week. He is thankful to all the healthcare workers that have stepped up to provide help during the process. 

 

 

The last few weeks, the Health Department has been informing the public of a shortage of vaccines after confusing with IDPH. This week it is anticipated more vaccines will arrive and Remmert is hopeful they will begin to return to their regular rates of vaccination, starting with those individuals that need second doses. 

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Central Illinois Nutrition Expert Offers Tips for Reforming Eating Habits

March is National Nutrition Month and in 2021 the hope is the public will seek to do what is best for them from a nutrition perspective.

 

Monica Nyman with the St. Louis District Dairy Council says a nutrition plan for one person that is effective may not be effective for someone else. She is encouraging trying new things and finding something that works.

 

 

If you'd like to start changing the way you eat, Nyman encourages trying something new every day of the week to start out. She explains if you focus on keeping your plate 'colorful' then that will go a long way in eating healthier.

 

 

Another tip from Nyman is to start planning your meals out after a week or two of trying a variety of foods. She believes it is helpful in keeping you on track and it makes the week go much better and away from things that may not be good for you.

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New Bill Could Help Small Business Farmers Sell Directly to Consumers

Small business farmers across the state could soon sell directly to consumers instead of only selling at farmers' markets under a new Act.

 

According to Kelly Lay, owner of D20 Pepper Products in LeRoy, the 'Home to Market Act' could bring small business farmers more opportunities.

 

 

In her second year of growing over 55 different varieties of peppers, Lay said State Representative Will Guzzardi of the 39th District is the bill's sponsor.

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Class of 2020 Receiving High Marks According to ISBE

THE GRADUATING CLASS OF 2020 IS RECEIVING HIGH MARKS FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN ADVANCED PLACEMENT EXAM SCORES. 

 

29 PERCENT OF STUDENTS IN THE CLASS OF 2020 RECEIVED A THREE OR HIGHER ON AT LEAST ONE EXAM. THAT'S AN INCREASE OF MORE THAN 12 PERCENT FROM 2010...A BIGGER JUMP OVER THE DECADE THAN ALL BUT FOUR OTHER STATES. THE ILLINOIS BOARD OF EDUCATION'S JEN KIRMES SAYS THESE A-P CLASSES ARE REALLY BENEFICIAL.

 

 

KIRMES SAYS THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPRESSIVE GIVEN THE PAST YEAR.

 

 

IS-BE SAYS NEW DATA ALSO SHOWS THAT WAIVING THE A-P EXAM FEE FOR QUALIFYING STUDENTS HAS LED TO A HISTORIC NUMBER OF LOW-INCOME TEENS SCORING A THREE OR HIGHER.

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WHOW Ag, News, Sports Programming Coming to 106.5 FM in McLean County This Spring

WHOW THE BIG 1520's agriculture, local news, and sports programming will be heard starting this spring on a new FM signal in McLean County.

 

Station officials have received approval from the Federal Communications Commission, to build a new 250-watt FM signal at 106-point-5 utilizing a tower on the west side of Bloomington-Normal.  It's expected the new signal will be on the air sometime this spring.

 

Station president and general manager Randal J. Miller said that WHOW is thrilled about bringing Central Illinois' Number One Ag Radio Station, to the county that produced the most corn and soybeans statewide in 2020.  

 

WHOW airs over 8 hours a day of agriculture programming, plus a live-and-local Morning Show, White Sox Baseball, Clinton Maroon high school sports, Clinton Little League and Legion Sports.  All of WHOW's programming is also streamed at illinoisfarmradio.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and Amazon Alexa.

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Decatur, Danville Could Lose MSA Designation and Federal Funds As A Result

Several cities in Illinois, including Central Illinois, could lose federal funds as a result of a proposed re-designation by the Federal Office of Management and Budget.

 

The recommendation to O-M-B by several federal statistical agencies, would change the designation of a "metropolitan statistical area" to cities with a core city count of at least one-hundred thousand, instead of having a core city count of betweeen 50 and one-hundred thousand.

 

Illinois cities that could lose the "M-S-A" designation include Decatur, Danville, and Kankakee, all because of loss of population. 

 

Many of these cities would be re-designated as "micropolitan statistical areas", and as a result, have federal funding and economic development implications.  

 

Several of the mayors in these cities have written letters to the feds asking that the change of designation for their city, be stopped so their designation as a "metropolitan statstical area" can remain.

In all, some 144 cities across the country could lose their M-S-A status.

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DeWitt County Friendship Center Resuming Support Groups This Week

The DeWitt County Friendship Center is restarting support groups this week.

 

Friday on the WHOW Morning Show, Executive Director Paula Jiles told Regional Radio News these are very important to seniors and their families and looks forward to getting them back going again. She adds daily activities are starting to pick up again as more seniors start returning to the Friendship Center.

 

 

As seniors get their vaccines, Jiles says more and more seniors are starting to return to the Friendship Center. She's hearing from seniors that have not been to the facility anywhere from six months to a year that they plan to return soon. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

The first week of March was absolutely glorious and more ideal weather could be on the way. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...

 

 

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Encore Developmental Services in Need of Donations

A DeWitt County non-profit aimed at helping area residents with developmental disabilities is in need of help.

 

Encore Developmental Services in DeWitt County is in need of donations for its thrift store on the community's east side. Executive Director Stephanie Coonce indicates it is typical to see donations decrease during the winter but with the impacts of COVID, they could use more donations than usual this spring.

 

 

As Encore brings back day-services clients and the need expands for those services, Coonce indicates keeping those residents safe is going to be a challenge in their current facility. She is hoping the community might consider helping them by donating things to help keep those folks distanced and safe when they are in the facility during the day.

 

 

Coonce reminds the public for donations for the thrift store or their day-services needs they ask for gently used items that can be resold or used right away. 

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Gov. Pritzker Announces New COVID Vaccination Awareness Campaign

THE STATE IS LAUNCHING A 10 MILLION DOLLAR COVID-19 VACCINATION AWARENESS CAMPAIGN.

 

THE CAMPAIGN AIMS TO REACH THOSE IN AREAS HARDEST HIT BY THE VIRUS. GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS WHILE IT'S A PERSONAL CHOICE WHETHER OR NOT TO GET THE VACCINE, HE WANTS EVERYONE TO HAVE THE FACTS.

 

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THEY WANT EVERYONE TO BE ABLE TO MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS ABOUT 21 PERCENT OF ILLINOISANS HAVE BEEN VACCINATED SO FAR, INCLUDING 47 PERCENT OF SENIORS 65 AND OLDER.

THE STATEWIDE CAMPAIGN FEATURES COVID PATIENTS, DOCTORS AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST LOVED ONES TO THE VIRUS.

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FDA Approves U of I COVID Saliva Test

NOW THAT THE F-D-A HAS APPROVED THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS' COVID-19 SALIVA TEST, OTHER STATE COLLEGES WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE GROUNDBREAKING SCIENCE. 

 

THE LOW COST, EASY AND QUICK SALIVA TEST HAS MADE THE URBANA CAMPUS ONE OF THE SAFEST PLACES TO BE SAYS U OF I PRESIDENT TIM KILLEEN...WITH THE RATE OF INFECTION THERE OFTEN BELOW ONE PERCENT. HE SAYS THE SO-CALLED "SHIELD" PROGRAM HAS BEEN A HUGE SUCCESS AND THEY ARE ANXIOUS TO SHARE IT WITH OTHER SCHOOLS IN ILLINOIS.

 

 

PRESIDENT KILLEEN SAYS THE TEST HAS RECEIVED WORLDWIDE ATTENTION.

 

 

EVEN BEFORE F-D-A APPROVAL, THE U OF I HAS BEEN SENDING THE SALIVA TEST TO CLIENTS ALL OVER THE WORLD INCLUDING COMPANIES IN SILICON VALLEY, OUT OF STATE UNIVERSITIES AS WELL AS NEW ZEALAND AND THE PHILIPPINES.

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February Was 10th Coldest on Record

ACCORDING TO PRELIMINARY DATA, LAST MONTH WAS THE 10TH COLDEST FEBRUARY ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. 

 

IT'S PROBABLY NO SURPRISE BUT TEMPERATURES IN FEBRUARY AVERAGED JUST 20 DEGREES. THAT'S 11 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD.

 

 

STATEWIDE PRECIPITATION AVERAGED ABOUT TWO INCHES IN FEBRUARY. FORD SAYS THE RECENT SNOW AND RAIN HAS HELPED IMPROVE SOIL MOISTURE CONDITIONS, ALTHOUGH PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN ILLINOIS REMAIN IN ABNORMALLY DRY TO MODERATE DROUGHT CONDITIONS.

 

 

FORD SAYS THE LONG TERM OUTLOOK CALLS FOR AVERAGE TO SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE TEMPS AND ABOVE NORMAL RAINFALL.

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Confusion at IDPH Leads to Shortage of Vaccines in DeWitt, Piatt Counties

DeWitt and Piatt County residents for a few weeks now have been hearing about a shortage of vaccines and that has delayed second doses for many residents and first shots for many more.

 

Initially, the shortage was due to weather concerns in mid-February but since that time, Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Dave Remmert has found out there was also confusion from IDPH in regards to the joint-health department status of the two counties.

 

 

Remmert indicates the shortage of vaccines for the last few weeks had him very concerned. He explains if the situation did not get better by this weekend, they could have been in real trouble but relief is on the way as a shipment of vaccines is anticipated early next week.

 

 

As the vaccine distribution continues, confirmed COVID cases continue to decline. Remmert points to the last week in DeWitt County there were several days without new confirmed cases and Piatt County's metrics continue to decline as well. 

 

We'll hear more from Remmert next week on Regional Radio News. 

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COVID Leads to Increase in Digital Use for Warner Library

When the Warner Library in Clinton closed due to COVID, patrons turned to digital resources in a big way.

 

Samantha Rusk is the Business Manager at the library and indicates digital services increased exponentially as people could not get access to the library and now digital remains a popular option.

 

 

As the use of digital services increased, Rusk says the library emphasized making sure there were plenty of resources available. She highlights the two digital platforms you can access with your library card through the Warner Library.

 

 

Rusk indicates they have a lot of overlap of patrons that are returning to the library and still using those digital resources. She reminds residents the library is open from 9 am to 7 pm Monday through Thursday and then 9 am to 3 pm Friday and Saturday. 

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Thursday Was 'National Stop the Scam Day'

The Social Security Administration and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have once again joined forces to raise public awareness about Social Security imposter scams during the second annual ‘Slam the Scam’ Day on March 4.  

 

Social Security scams - in which fraudsters mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments to fix purported Social Security number problems or to avoid arrest - are the number one type of government imposter fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and Social Security. Jack Myers with Social Security says to never give out any information to these people.

 

 

According to Myers, these efforts have been very costly for Americans, totaling around $174-million.

 

 

The agency has made concerted efforts to address this issue, including partnering with other Federal and State agencies to identify and pursue scammers, increasing employee and public outreach and education, raising awareness through marketing in post offices nationwide, and maintaining a Social Security/OIG workgroup to maximize resources and ensure a cohesive response. 

 

 

Myers reminds the public Social Security will never tell you that your Social Security number is suspended, contact you to demand immediate payment, threaten you with arrest, ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, ask for gift cards or cash, or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information or money.

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Secretary of State White Not Running for Re-Election

Voters for the first time since 1999 will have a new name to pick from on the Democrat side of the ticket for Secretary of State. Jesse White says he is not going to be running for a 7th term.

 

State Senator Michael Hastings is officially running for the office. The Democrat from Tinley Park says he wants to continue to expand online services from the Secretary of State.

 

 

Former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia have expressed a strong interest in running on the Democrat side too.

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Gov. Pritzker Not Lifting Mask Mandate

Illinois’ mask mandate isn’t going anywhere. As a few more states begin to end theirs or open events for larger gatherings, Governor JB Pritzker says mandating masks is still protecting public health.

 

 

Illinois remains in Phase 4, the Governor’s office hasn’t said much about when the state may progress to Phase 5, which would end capacity limits on events and businesses.

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4-H Readying for Return of County Fairs

It looks like the lemon shake-ups and livestock shows will return this year. Fair season in Illinois was nonexistent last year thanks to the coronavirus, but a U of I Extension 4-H Program Coordinator says this year looks favorable and the kids in 4H will have a chance to compete. Angie Abernathy says they have been advised to plan for in-person shows at the local county fairs.

 

 

In a normal year Illinois will see 104 county fairs and two state fairs between June and the third week of September.

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Congressman Davis Set to Meet With President Biden Thursday

Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis is set to meet with President Joe Biden this afternoon (Thursday).

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Davis told Regional Radio News he hopes to discuss infrastructure. Davis says this is the first time he'll meet with a Democratic President since he arrived in Washington, D.C.

 

 

The Taylorville Republican says his number one objective as it relates to infrastructure is to simply get something done. He hopes an infrastructure bill proposed by the President will not be a hidden climate bill.

 

 

The Congressman has indicated in the past he has had interactions with President Biden when he was the Vice President under Barack Obama. The two flew together on Air Force One. 

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Local Veterans Advocate Promotes Efforts Before City Council

Local veterans advocate Jeff Morlock has been instrumental over the years in getting local veterans connected to the 'Honor Flight' program that gives veterans a chance to see all the memorials in Washington, D.C. in a day and with that program on hold due to COVID, he says he wanted to find something to honor local veterans.

 

Earlier this year, Morlock started honoring fallen veterans with flags lining the processionals of their funerals thanks to efforts from local residents. Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting, Morlock discussed some of the things they've done so far this year.

 

 

According to Morlock, he hopes to involve veterans in other veteran's funerals. He explains they give the family a flag case with a picture of the veteran, the logo of the branch of the military they served in and he calls a pretty somber moment to be allowed to do that.

 

 

Morlock wants to make the program he's calling 'Battle Cross Crusaders' better. Monday he asked the Council for ideas and is also seeking community input. 

 

 

Commissioner John Wise commends Morlock for his efforts and believes it is a worthy cause. He explains he's been involved in some of the efforts this year and calls it very moving.

 

 

You can find Morlock's group, Battle Cross Crusaders, on Facebook. You can also call Morlock with questions about how to get involved by dialing 217-853-2530.

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Deland-Weldon Schools Exploring Summer School

A DeWitt County School district says they are exploring options for summer school but plans are not yet ironed out.

 

Amanda Geary is the Superintendent of Deland-Weldon Schools and has had only preliminary discussions with her principals about potential summer school options. She has been in touch with area superintendents and find out how those districts are handling summer school as well.

 

 

According to Geary, a focus for summer school in her district would likely emphasize the younger students to make sure they are where they should be to move on to the next level.

 

 

Additionally, Geary may not have the interest or need for an entire program for older kids but would have to look at the couple of individual students that may be struggling and see how they can help them.

 

 

Geary anticipates only needing a couple of teachers to operate a summer school program and anticipates having enough interest to pull off a 3 to 5-week program for just a few hours a day through the week. 

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March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month and a central Illinois dietician is promoting how the benefits of dairy in our nutrition plans.

 

Monica Nyman with the St. Louis District Dairy Council indicates nutrition guidelines recently changed and now offer more specific recommendations for various age groups. She points out one thing is universal about food - what we eat impacts our health.

 

 

In the revamped guidance, health officials continue to keep dairy as its stand-alone food group. Nyman points out an interesting change though is the recommendations for dairy consumption by age group.

 

 

Nyman points out three servings of dairy every day are still recommended. While the way people incorporate the recommendations into their daily lives looks different, she says there is a way to meet those recommendations.

 

 

Nyman encourages a visit to myplate.gov for the latest on the new recommendations. She points out, in older adults, protein and vitamin B12 are often under-consumed. She says three servings of dairy-rich foods help with both protein and B12. 

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McLean County No. 1 in Corn, Soybean Production

According to a USDA report, McLean County is number one in the U.S. for corn and soybean production.

 

McLean County corn production in 2020 was 63 million bushels - with soybeans at 19.2 million bushels. Here’s Mike Doherty, Senior Economist and Policy Analyst with the Illinois Farm Bureau.

 

 

Iroquois County, just south of Kankakee, came in a close second at 5% less corn production, and soybeans were behind by about 13%.

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Gov. Pritzker Addresses Vaccine Demand

Even as vaccine allotment is picking up for states, demand for COVID vaccination appointments is still outpacing supply.

 

Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says he wants more shots for everyone in Illinois but with more than 100,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson, one and done shot, coming this week there are more and more opportunities for citizens to get an appointment.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker says the state should have about 20 percent more vaccine to offer to residents by the end of the month. Illinois is averaging about 84,000 shots a day. But keep in mind once a person receives a Johnson & Johnson shot – they don’t have to come back for a second one and that will help to speed the number of people who are fully vaccinated.

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Blue Ridge Schools to Return to Five-Days-A-Week Learning March 15

A DeWitt County school district will return to learning five-days-a-week beginning Monday, March 15.

 

Superintendent Dr. Hilary Stanifer indicates while many kids are doing well with the one-day remote learning, they are also hearing some students are not as focused as they should be and they believe the best place for kids will be in the school setting.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer believes perhaps many families that took on remote learning, especially for younger students, overestimated how effective learning from home could be. She hopes the community now understands why it is so important kids are in school learning.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer says starting five-days-a-week learning on March 15 will also work out well as district staff wraps up the vaccination process over the next few weeks, allowing for a recovery period for those that experience adverse impacts of the second shot. 

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Weekend Standoff in Shelby County Results in Apprehension of Two Suspects

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department responded to a break-in on Saturday that led to a standoff. On the afternoon of Saturday, February 27th, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a burglary in progress that was occurring at a house in rural Shelby County at 800 East 1650 North.

 

When deputies arrived on the scene, they made contact with two individuals who had illegally entered the residence. These two individuals then retreated back into the residence and barricaded themselves into a room. The male suspect told deputies he had a gun, and if they attempted to enter the room, he would shoot them.

 

Deputies exited the house and secured the perimeter. About 30 minutes after the initial call came in, a request was made for assistance from the ILEAS Region 9/11 Southern Illinois Response team which is a regional tactical team of various officers from different departments. With assistance from this team, the two individuals that were in the house were captured and arrested. The two were transported to the Shelby County Detention Center for processing. No injuries were reported.

 

Jennifer L. Jones of Pana and Dustin J. Willoughby of Sullivan were the two individuals arrested. Jones and Willoughby have multiple charges pending including burglary, criminal trespass, and two counts of threatening a police officer.  The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office praised the assistance of the Moweaqua Police Department, Christian County Sheriff’s Office, Shelby Ambulance Service and Dispatch Center, and the Shelby/Christian County 9-1-1 center. 

 

Jones made her first appearance in court on Monday. Probable Cause was found and bond was set at $30,000 with 10% to apply.  Willoughby made his first appearance in court on Monday. Probable cause was found and bond was set at $50,000 with 10% to apply. 

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Sen. Rose Sounds Off on JCAR, Redistricting

For State Senator Chapin Rose, the JCAR ruling on new teaching policies has him worried. 

 

He spoke to Regional Radio News about some of the issues that he sees with not just the new JCAR ruling, but also Mike Madigan and what redistricting he would like to see. Rose says that JCAR shouldn’t have bent to the will of just a few people.

 

 

Putting kids in private schools or leaving the state altogether are some options on the table for Illinoisans. Sen. Rose calls it just another race to the bottom for failure for public education in Illinois.

 

 

When it comes to public policy, Rose calls former speaker Madigan is the poster child of term limits. He hopes a term-limits bill passes to keep a Mike Madigan from happening to Illinois again.

 

 

In addition to reforming term-limits, redistricting reform will go a long way towards hearing your voice heard more. He believes politicians should not be involved in drawing up legislative maps.

 

 

Sen. Rose was disappointed the spring legislative cycle contained zero discussion regarding COVID efforts in the State of Illinois and instead focused on issues like JCAR and defunding the police. 

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March Shaping Up to Be Mild

There are better chances for precipitation in the northern half of Illinois this month compared to the southern half.

 

 

DTN Chief Agriculture Meteorologist Bryce Anderson also expects March temps to stay on the mild side.

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Illinois Democrats to Select New Leader Today

The Democrat party in Illinois has undergone a massive change in the past few weeks and it all surrounds Mike Madigan. 

 

First, the former Speaker decided not to run for the leadership spot in the House, then he stepped down as a lawmaker, and later today his replacement as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois will be selected. It will either be a Chicago City Council member or Congresswoman Robin Kelly. Governor JB Pritzker is backing the Alderwoman.

 

 

Madigan had the job since 1998 and the members of the DPI will meet virtually later today to select the new leader of the party.

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Gov. Pritzker Urging Communities to Boost COVID Vaccine Outreach Efforts

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS CALLING ON COMMUNITIES TO BOOST COVID-19 VACCINATION OUTREACH EFFORTS. 

 

WHETHER IT BE BY HELPING SENIORS WHO AREN'T INTERNET SAVVY GET AN APPOINTMENT OR CHURCH LEADERS ENCOURAGING THEIR CONGREGATION TO GET THE SHOT, GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS IT VITAL TO ENSURE AS MANY PEOPLE GET VACCINATED AS POSSIBLE.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS IN ORDER TO REACH HERD IMMUNITY, IT'S VITAL THAT LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS ADDRESS THOSE WHO ARE HESITANT ABOUT GETTING THE SHOT.

 

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THIS IS ESPECIALLY CRUCIAL IN MINORITY COMMUNITIES, WHERE RESIDENTS ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED BY COVID-19.

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Warner Library Brings Back Tax Aid

The COVID pandemic is not going to slow down getting tax help to local residents for a Clinton entity.

 

The Warner Library in Clinton is all set up to once again offer residents who need, help with their taxes. Business manager Samantha Rusk on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday told Regional Radio News they have folks trained and ready to get that tax help going, just in time as filing season is well underway.

 

 

According to Rusk, when you make your appointment and you come to the library, the tax-preparer assigned to you will take all your paperwork, and then wait in a waiting area while the work gets done.

 

 

Rusk indicates appointments are filling up fast, so you need to get in touch with the library as soon as you can. When you make the appointment, you'll be given a questionnaire for your preparer to have to limit the contact of the process. 

 

 

Rusk notes when you make your appointment, a list of things you will be given to you to have handy. You can stop by the library at 310 North Quincy Street in Clinton or call 217-935-5174 to make an appointment. 

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Zero New COVID Cases in DeWitt County Wednesday, Friday of Last Week

In total, there were three days without new confirmed COVID cases in DeWitt County last week.

 

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department reports Wednesday and Friday there were no new confirmed cases in DeWitt County. Thursday there were two and Saturday through Sunday, only one new confirmed case.

 

The decrease locally follows state and national metrics that have decreased precipitously in the last several weeks. 

 

Piatt County reported two new cases Wednesday, six Thursday, two Friday, and seven Saturday and Sunday.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt County has had a total of 1318 cases; Piatt County has had a total of 1387 cases.

 

The Health Department continues to be concerned about the shipment of doses of vaccine. - noting they do not currently have enough doses between its inventory and expected shipments to vaccinate even second dose patients.  

 

They currently provide around 1200 to 1400 doses each week. This week’s scheduled delivery is just 300 doses and continues to operate under a vaccine shortage situation. As such, they will not be able to load any additional SignUpGenius links for new appointment slots until more vaccine becomes available.  An email was sent today to relevant IDPH staff, legislators, and county board chairs to urge additional vaccines be sent.

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Maroa-Forsyth Working on Summer School Plans

After a successful first semester-and-a-half, a Macon County school district is looking ahead to this summer to make sure they have its students where they need to be to be ready for the next grade level next school year.

 

Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools Dr. John Ahlemeyer is understanding of a lot of community members that want things to reopen and go back to normal, including school five-days a week. He says things need to go slow for now as they approach things carefully.

 

 

With uncertainty surrounding what next year may look like for schools in terms of length of school days and other factors like distancing and capacity limits for areas like cafeterias, Dr. Ahlemeyer says they are looking at a summer school program. He believes the Wednesday remote learning day has been a very positive wrinkle to their schedule in keeping students caught up.

 

 

Dr. Ahlemeyer indicates the school district is also applying to become a vaccination site. He indicates they had around a 70-percent response rate to district staff getting vaccinated and that process is ongoing. Dr. Ahlemeyer points out, like many areas in Illinois, his district's COVID metrics continue to decline as well. 

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Red Cross Needs Blood

The American Red Cross says the need for blood is high as 150 blood drives were canceled across the state in the last week due to bitter temperatures and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although the weather is warming up, Steve Stoewer, the Director for Blood Services at the American Red Cross, said hosting blood drives has been challenging.

 

 

Stoewer said the Red Cross is asking for all blood type patients as the Red Cross missed out on a projected 21,000 units of blood in the past week. To find a donation location near you, visit American Red Cross dot-org.

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Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale Brings Big Numbers

Intense demand and high-caliber performance genetics pushed the 2021 Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale to its second-highest average in 53 years, with 34 lots of Angus, Simmental, and Polled Hereford bulls averaging $4,396. The sale was managed by University of Illinois commercial ag educator Travis Meteer.

 

 

The sale was last Thursday at the Lowderman Auction Facility near Macomb. The top-selling bull went for $9,100.

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New Legislation Requires Regulation of Trampoline Parks

NEW LEGISLATION REQUIRES TRAMPOLINE PARKS IN ILLINOIS TO BE REGULATED BY THE STATE. 

 

THE BILL CLASSIFIES TRAMPOLINE COURTS AS AN AMUSEMENT RIDE TO BE INSPECTED BY THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. IT'S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE DENYSE STONEBACK OF SKOKIE WHO SAYS IT'S ABOUT SAFETY.

 

 

STONEBACK SAYS TRAMPOLINE FACILITIES CAN BE DANGEROUS, AND SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AN AMUSEMENT RIDE THAT'S INSPECTED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.

 

 

A SIMILAR BILL PASSED IN 2017 BUT WAS VETOED BY THEN GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER. NINE OTHER STATES REGULATE TRAMPOLINE PARKS.

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Durbin Weighs In On Stimulus Latest

As Democrats in the US Senate work to bring another COVID-19 bailout bill for a vote with little support from the other side of the aisle. Illinois’ senior Senator Dick Durbin wonders what’s changed? Durbin says only a few years ago, during vote to support a $1.9 trillion tax cut, Republicans didn’t seem to care much about the national debt.

 

 

Two COVID-19 rescue bills passed under President Donald Trump passed with 90 or more votes, Durbin wants to know the real reason why Republicans aren’t willing to help now.

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Brush Pick-Up Program Resumes March 15

If you were one of the many residents that only got a few branches from those January and February storms picked up for City crews, the brush pick-up program ramps back up later this month.

 

Monday night at the Clinton City Council meeting, Commissioner Ken Buchanan told the Council they will resume circling the community Monday, March 15 and for the first month of pick-up, there will not be a size limit on the brush piles.

 

 

Monday night the Council also heard from local veterans advocate Jeff Morlock on his new program, 'Battle Cross Crusaders'. We'll have more on his message to the Council later this week on Regional Radio News. In the meantime, find his new Facebook page to learn how to get involved. 

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DeWitt, Macon and Piatt County's University of Illinois Extension Offices Reopened

If you have a question for one of the educators at the University of Illinois Extension in DeWitt, Macon, or Piatt Counties, you can now visit them in-person.

 

Monday morning, extension offices in the three counties reopened to the public for the first time since last spring. Caitlin Mellendorf with Extension says staff is still on a hybrid schedule, so she recommends checking with the Educator you're stopping in to see.

 

 

According to Mellendorf, the master gardeners receive most of the walk-in traffic with questions on a variety of topics but she notes she will get some walk-ins with canning questions as well.

 

 

Get more information by visiting go.illinois.edu/dmp for information about your local office. 

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Local FFA Chapters Making Most of COVID Impacted Year

"Making the most of it" is how many area FFA chapters describe their year given the current situation.

 

Last week was FFA Week and many local chapters joined Regional Radio News NFB Farm Broadcaster Jared White on his expanded noon farm show last week. Cole Young, Clinton FFA President, indicates due to COVID the majority of FFA events have been held virtually. He says the content is good but lacks personal interaction.

 

 

Max Berry, a junior at Maroa-Forsyth, notes during a "normal year" the Maroa-Forsyth FFA chapter would have done service projects during FFA week, volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, and have chapter retreats.

 

 

The Tri-Valley FFA chapter annually hosts Ag Day for elementary students with activities including a petting zoo and tours of the greenhouse. Morgan Mouser, Tr-Valley FFA Reporter and Section 9 Sentinel, indicates Ag Day this year will consist of videos and a take-home activity.

 

 

Along with being president of the Blue Ridge chapter, Jaton Shaffer is the Section 16 President. He said Section 16 this year held a virtual game night with several chapters attending as well as a virtual Leadership Training School.

 

 

Riley Childers, Monticello FFA President, credits her personal growth throughout her high school career to her involvement in FFA. She says attending National Convention has been her favorite part of FFA.

 

 

For the past 73 years, FFA chapters across the country have held weeklong activities to bring highlight the organization and its many chapters. 

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March is Gambling Awareness Month

In a pre-technological time, gambling was most associated with casinos, horse racing tracks, and shady underground bookies with nefarious business models. 

 

In the last five years, gambling has entered a digital world, and states across the country, including Illinois, have legalized sports betting along with the expansion of video gaming machines in all corners of our communities. March is Gambling Awareness Month and Jessica Smiley with Heritage Behavioral Health Services indicates gambling addiction isn't often associated with behavioral health.

 

 

Smiley says locally, gambling addiction is growing. She says when gambling becomes something that is not longer, it something that has to be done, and that is what they see happening locally.

 

 

According to Smiley, gambling addiction varies from person-to-person. She compares it to substance abuse addiction and indicates you cannot predict who will become addicted and who will not.

 

 

Because of the legalization of gambling and the widespread distribution of advertising of it, Smiley calls it 'accessible in a different way'. 

 

 

The National Center for Responsible Gaming indicates around 1-percent of the adult population has a severe gambling problem and that recent research suggests six to nine percent of young people and young adults experience problems related to gambling.

 

Additionally, people with gambling problems often have many of the same risk factors that predispose individuals to other addictive behaviors, like psychiatric problems like depression, unstable home life, and a lack of peer or community support.

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National Weather Service Still Looking At Active Spring Storm Season

Plan on hearing plenty of thunder and maybe even some lightning in the sky this spring.

 

That's the message from the National Weather Service - who is maintaining the spring storm season looks like it will be a busy one. Chris Miller says the winter we've experienced is setting us up for an active storm season when spring arrives.

 

 

This week is also Severe Weather Preparedness Week and Miller refreshing everyone on the terminology you might see or hear during severe weather.

 

 

Severe Weather Preparedness Week is intended to get people thinking about their responses to severe weather like where would they go in their homes. 

 

 

If you're in public, Miller indicates a lot of stores and buildings will have plans posted. In general, he encourages finding exterior protection because of you go to the middle of a retail store or building, you may be risking having the roof fall on you.

 

 

Miller implores the public when a tornado warning is issued near you to still seek shelter. He says the high winds from that storm could impact several miles around it and cause damage. 

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