Local News

DeWitt County Health Department Partnering With National Guard for Vaccine Clinic Sunday, Monday

Local health officials announced Thursday they are working closely with the IL National Guard to bring special COVID-19 vaccination clinics to DeWitt County.

 

Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Dave Remmert indicates DeWitt County was selected by the state for these special clinics because the percentage of the population vaccinated against COVID-19 is below state averages, but especially amongst those age 65 and older population.

 

 

According to Remmert, vaccine demand locally is beginning to wane in recent weeks. He hopes after these clinics are concluded, the percentage of residents, especially DeWitt County residents, will increase.

 

 

It was roughly six weeks ago Remmert was very concerned over a shortage of vaccines in DeWitt County. He explains the last several weeks have allowed them to get those doses replenished.

 

 

This weekend's vaccination clinics are Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm at Blue Ridge High School in Farmer City then Monday from 9 am to 2 pm at First Christian Church in Clinton. Remmert emphasizes registration is required for these clinics and you can get registered by visiting dewittpiatthealth.com or you can call 217-935-3427 EXT 2112 for phone assistance. 

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Clinton Chamber Adjusts Price on Meat Raffle

To get more participation, the Clinton Chamber of Commerce is reducing the price of its meat raffle tickets.

 

A first-time fundraiser last year was a big hit, but the COVID pandemic has slowed this year's fundraiser's participation. Executive Director of the Chamber Marian Brisard indicates to that end, they are reducing the price on tickets from $20 to $10.

 

 

Brisard hopes the ticket price drop will allow for more people to participate.

 

 

The Chamber is hosting two golf outings this year. One in the early summer and the other in the fall. The drawing for the meat raffle takes place in the fall. 

 

To get meat raffle tickets, you can contact any Chamber member or visit the Chamber on the downtown Clinton Square or call 217-935-3364. 

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Friday Record Day for Vaccinations, Governor Still Concerned About Cases

NEW DAILY COVID-19 CASES ROSE ABOVE FOUR THOUSAND FRIDAY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE END OF JANUARY. 

 

FOUR THOUSAND FOUR NEW AND PROBABLE CASES OF INFECTION ARE BEING REPORTED ALONG WITH 21 ADDITIONAL DEATHS. THE NUMBER OF COVID PATIENTS IN THE HOSPITAL IS ALSO INCREASING, WITH ABOUT 18-HUNDRED CURRENTLY ADMITTED. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT IT WAS ANOTHER RECORD DAY FOR VACCINATIONS, WITH MORE THAN 164 THOUSAND GIVEN THURSDAY SAYS GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THEY NEED TO GET AS MANY PEOPLE VACCINATED AGAINST THE VIRUS AS POSSIBLE.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THOSE THAT ARE ENDING UP IN THE HOSPITAL TYPICALLY HAVEN'T BEEN VACCINATED. YOU CAN FIND A VACCINATION SITE NEAR YOU ONLINE AT: CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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House Lawmakers Hear About Reopening Hospitality Industry

HOUSE LAWMAKERS ARE HEARING FROM THE TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY ABOUT WHAT'S NEEDED TO BEGIN THE RECOVERY PROCESS. 

 

DURING A COMMITTEE MEETING, MEMBERS OF HOTEL, RESTAURANT AND CONVENTION GROUPS STRESSED THAT THEY CAN'T SURVIVE ANOTHER SUMMER UNDER LOW CAPACITY LIMITS. AND, WHILE THEY APPRECIATE THE NEED TO MOVE AHEAD BASED ON COVID NUMBERS, NAVY PIER C-E-O MARILYN GARDNER SAID THEY NEED MORE NOTICE.

 

 

MIKE JACOBSON WITH THE ILLINOIS HOTEL AND LODGING ASSOCIATION TESTIFIED BEFORE A HOUSE COMMITTEE THAT HE DOESN'T EXPECT THE HOTEL INDUSTRY TO RECOVER FROM THE PANDEMIC UNTIL 2024 AT THE EARLIEST. HE SAYS THEY NEED FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO GET BACK UP AND RUNNING AND SUGGESTS SOME OF THE FEDERAL MONEY ILLINOIS IS RECEIVING GO TO HOTELS.

 

 

HOTEL INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES EXPRESSED FRUSTRATION THAT THEIR STAFF, INCLUDING HOUSEKEEPERS, WERE NOT INCLUDED IN THE INITIAL PRIORITY GROUPS ELIGIBLE FOR THE VACCINE. OTHERS SAID THERE NEEDS TO BE A COORDINATED EFFORT TO PROMOTE WHAT'S OPEN IN ILLINOIS SO TRAVELERS AND EVENT ORGANIZERS AREN'T HAVING TO TRY AND FIGURE THAT OUT.

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House committee discusses revolving door prohibition

ILLINOIS HOUSE MEMBERS ARE DISCUSSING ETHICS REFORMS, INCLUDING A REVOLVING DOOR PROHIBITION FOR LEGISLATORS. 

 

THE CHANGE WOULD PREVENT LAWMAKERS LEAVING OFFICE FROM IMMEDIATELY GOING TO WORK AS A LOBBYIST. SOME HAVE SUGGESTED A SIX MONTH BAN, BUT REFORM FOR ILLINOIS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ALISA KAPLAN SAYS TWO YEARS WOULD BE BETTER.

 

 

THE BAN WOULD PREVENT LAWMAKERS FROM TAKING A JOB AS A LOBBYIST RIGHT AFTER THEY LEAVE OFFICE. THE GOAL IS TO REDUCE PROBLEMS LIKE THE DEALS MADE IN THE COM-ED BRIBERY SCANDAL. BUT SOME LEGISLATORS DISAGREE, SAYING THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO WORK ON ISSUES THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT AFTER THEY ARE DONE SERVING THE PUBLIC. REPRESENTATIVE KATIE STUART OF EDWARDSVILLE:

 

 

SEVERAL PROPOSALS ARE PENDING, LIMITING WORK AS A LOBBYIST FOR ANYWHERE FROM SIX MONTHS TO TWO YEARS AFTER LEAVING THE ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

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April is Youth Preparedness Month

THE ILLINOIS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY IS ENCOURAGING FAMILIES TO INCLUDE THEIR KIDS IN ANY DISASTER PLANNING.

 

EMERGENCY PLANS SHOULD KEEP IN MIND THE UNIQUE NEED TO CHILDREN. I-EMA SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK SAYS GETTING THEM INVOLVED IN BUILDING AN EMERGENCY KIT, PLANNING AN ESCAPE ROUTE AND PRACTICING FIRE DRILLS CAN HELP MAKE KIDS FEEL SAFER.

 

 

SHE SAYS THERE ARE RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES.

 

 

CLARK SAYS THERE ARE A NUMBER OF ONLINE RESOURCES THAT MAKE DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FUN FOR KIDS INCLUDING THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION AND FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY'S WEBSITES.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a warm, dry start to the week, but things cooled off as rain rolled through the State of Illinois. State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us about the weekend and the week ahead...

 

 

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Warner Library Preparing for Summer Reading Club

Leadership at Clinton's Warner Library is preparing for the summer reading club.

 

First-year children's librarian Cory Campbell tells Regional Radio News details are slim right now but says they do know the start date. Tuesday, June 1 kicks off the 2021 summer reading club. 

 

 

For many years, the recently retired Paula Lopatic ran a program that was highly acclaimed by youth and families in Clinton but Campbell says instead of trying to replicate what Lopatic did, he is respectfully going to try to put his twist on the program.

 

 

Campbell hopes to have more details to share in May as the program usually kicks off shortly after the conclusion of the school year. 

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Bement Schools Leader Weighs In On Student Assessment Decision

A Piatt County school district is going to be administering yearly assessments this spring but its school leader has a lot of questions about doing these yearly exams in light of the COVID pandemic's impacts on the last year of education.

 

Bement Schools superintendent Dr. Shiela Greenwood indicates the State of Illinois has given school leaders the choice of administering the yearly tests in the spring or fall and calls it controversial whether to do assessments or not.

 

 

For Bement schools, Dr. Greenwood indicates they felt it was best for them to do the assessments in May and begin to work on analyzing the data they get back. She believes it will help them get needed data for moving forward for their kids.

 

 

While getting the data back and analyzing it will be important, especially during this year's assessments, Dr. Greenwood indicates there is a long-standing frustration in the education industry of the wait time for getting those results back. She believes the data is going to be crucial this year to know where students are at as it relates to all the lost classroom time.

 

 

The State of Illinois has eliminated a few high school assessments and Dr. Greenwood believes comparing districts in the next year will be very difficult because everyone will be doing things differently. She hopes it will simply be used as a new baseline coming out of the COVID pandemic. 

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University of Illinois Extension Expert Discusses Mushroom Season

A University of Illinois Extension expert always loves to preview the mushroom hunting season. It’s a great tradition in the spring says forestry specialist Chris Evans.

 

 

Morel mushrooms are the most popular in the spring, but Evans says there are quite a number of other edible mushrooms that can be found growing in Illinois, including pheasant backs, oysters, chicken-of-the woods, chanterelles, lion’s mane, black trumpets, and hen-of-the-woods.

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Public Health Officials Watching COVID Variants

THE STATE'S TOP PUBLIC HEALTH DOCTOR SAYS THEY ARE KEEPING A WATCHFUL EYE ON THE COVID VARIANTS CIRCULATING IN ILLINOIS AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY. 

 

704 CASES OF VARIANTS HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED IN ILLINOIS SO FAR...THE VAST MAJORITY ARE THE B-ONE-ONE-SEVEN STRAIN, FIRST SEEN IN THE U-K. THIS ISN'T UNUSUAL SAYS STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay).

 

 

IT'S NOT UNUSUAL FOR VIRUSES TO MUTATE SEVERAL TIMES SAYS DOCTOR  EZIKE (eh-zee-kay).

 

 

EZIKE SAYS EXPERTS WILL CONTINUALY BE STUDYING THE PROPERTIES OF ANY NEW VARIANTS TO DETERMINE IF THEY ARE MORE CONTAGIOUS AND COVERED BY THE VACCINE.

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Mid-Term Congressional Candidates Announcing in Illinois

Candidates starting to line up for the 2022 election cycle. Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos already has a challenger. Republican Charlie Helmick has announced his candidacy. He says he's a big believer in protecting the 1st and 2nd amendments.

 

 

Helmick served in the military and also as a police officer and for Homeland Security. He is currently in the insurance business.

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Everyone 16-Older Eligible for COVID Vaccine Monday

EVERYONE IN ILLINOIS 16 AND OLDER WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE COVID-19 VACCINE BEGINNING MONDAY. 

 

MORE THAN 80 COUNTIES HAVE ALREADY EXPANDED ELIGIBILITY AND THERE ARE MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND VACCINATION SITES ACROSS THE STATE NOW SAYS GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER.

 

 

THERE ARE NOW MORE THAN A THOUSAND VACCINATION LOCATIONS, INCLUDING 20 MASS VACCINATION SITES RUN BY THE ILLINOIS NATIONAL GUARD. STILL, GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER URGES PATIENCE.

 

 

MORE THAN 700 CASES OF COVID VARIANTS HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED SO FAR IN ILLINOIS.

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DeWitt County Friendship Executive Director Planning Busy April

A DeWitt County non-profit aimed at serving seniors is planning for a busy April, including the return of weekly support groups and services many local seniors rely on.

 

As discussion circulates regarding proof of vaccination for admission to events or to be a part of certain aspects of society, Executive Director of the DeWitt County Friendship Center Paula Jiles is letting local seniors make their own choices when attending their trips or coming into the center.

 

 

Jiles is excited because April marks the return of all its support groups at the Friendship Center. She notes these have waited on for a long time for seniors, including their monthly hearing aid checks, which she points out many seniors have let their hearing aids go unchecked for the last year. 

 

 

Community Care Systems Advocate Diane Cusey is also seeing seniors again for both walk-in and by appointment. She indicates they are asking for seniors to wear masks for their visits but is glad to starting seeing her seniors again.

 

Get more information about all things DeWitt County Friendship Center by following them on Facebook or calling 217-935-9411.

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DNR Deputy Director Discusses Land Management Information

The Department of Natural Resources is touting its new program, CICADA - not the invasive bug whose shell is left behind on trees and other hard surfaces, but a program aimed a better land and wildlife management.

 

DNR Deputy Director Rachel Torbert on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday told Regional Radio News this is an online resource that aims to engage the public and private sectors in habitat protection, restoration, and biodiversity conservation through voluntary actions.

 

 

According to Torbert, the information in the guide is very in-depth and covers everything from short, fun-to-read introductions and “how-to” conservation to habitat management guidance documents, as well as more in-depth, technical documents. 

 

 

Users also will be linked to assistance programs for landowners, conservation tax-deductible donation opportunities through the Illinois Conservation Foundation, and much more. Torbert points out, the CICADA website also features a project showcase page where habitat-friendly projects can be submitted by the public for consideration and viewed by website visitors to provide inspiration and share ideas. Information also is provided on how to certify habitat projects with various organizations. 

 

 

IDNR partnered with The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, a division of Lewis and Clark Community College, and 2WAV software developers for the project. Funding was provided through the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund dedicated to preserving, protecting, perpetuating, and enhancing non-game wildlife in the state.    

 

Visit cicada-idnr.org for more information. 

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Congressman Rodney Davis Encouraging Illinoisians to Get Vaccinated

"Get out and get that vaccine" is the message from an Illinois Congressman.

 

Congressman Rodney Davis has been touring vaccination sites in the district to increase interest in receiving the COVID vaccine. The Taylorville Republican notes if enough of the at-risk population is inoculated, then policymakers cannot continue to shut down the economy.

 

 

Congressman Davis says the fact that the vaccine is opening up to everyone 16 and older in Illinois demonstrates that the supply is meeting the demand. He expects the supply to continue to increase and will meet President Biden's goal of having the vaccine available to every American by May 1.

 

 

Congressman Davis notes there are still a lot of misconceptions about the vaccine and it is largely political. He says all of this undermines the hard work scientists and companies have contributed to ending the pandemic.

 

 

The Congressman indicated he and members of his family are vaccinated. He encourages everyone to make an appointment by contacting your local health department or by visiting a state-run site.

 

 

Davis contends any of the three vaccines are safe and effective.

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Downstate Lawmaker Calls on State Legislature To Step Up

A downstate lawmaker wants the state legislature to step up and resume duties as a co-equal branch of Government. State Senator Win Stoller says legislative leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic have ceded power to the Governor for too long...

 

 

Stoller wants to see an end to the Governor's continual disaster declarations and a specific timetable for re-opening the state economy.

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Gov. Pritzker Cautions Against Wednesday COVID Numbers

Daily COVID case counts are starting to meet levels not seen since late winter.

 

The state reported 3790 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily total since January 29th. With the increase in case counts the state isn’t near the “Bridge” phase of reopening. Governor JB Pritzker says he remains hopeful of getting more of the economy open – but for now that’s not happening.

 

 

One Bridge phase metric has been met with 73% of all residents over 65 with at least one vaccine shot. State-wide 41% of everyone 16 and over has a vaccine shot.

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Illinois Department of Labor Urging Drivers Be Careful During Busy Spring Planting Season

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR IS URGING DRIVERS TO BE CAREFUL DURING THE BUSY SPRING PLANTING SEASON. 

 

THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO IS SLOW DOWN AND HAVE PATIENCE AS LARGE FARM EQUIMENT MOVES IN AND OUT OF FIELDS AND DOWN THE ROAD SAYS THE DEPARTMENT'S HAP HILEMAN. HE NOTES THAT MANY ACCIDENTS OCCUR WHEN A DRIVER TRIES TO PASS A BIG PIECE OF EQUIPMENT, NOT REALIZING THE FARMER IS MAKING A LEFT HAND TURN.

 

 

HILEMAN STRESSES THAT FARMERS ALSO NEED TO DO THEIR PART, BY MAKING SURE THEIR EQUIPMENT IS AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE.

 

 

DRIVERS SHOULD ALSO REMEMBER THAT FARMERS HAVE LIMITIED VISIBILITY IN THE REAR. THOSE DRIVING FARM EQUIPMENT NEED TO DO THEIR PART AS WELL, HAVING "SLOW MOVING VEHICLE" SIGNAGE POSTED AND THE CORRECT LIGHTS.

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Three Illinois Eagles Die in Recent Weeks Due to Lead Poisoning

In just 4 weeks, three eagles in an area of Illinois have died from lead poisoning. 

 

It happened in Henry County and because of that Tamara Yarger with the charity Hog Capital Wildlife Rescue and Rehab says legislation may be necessary to outlaw lead bullets used by hunters. The lead from bullets can be ingested by the eagles when they feed on left behind carcasses or field dress...

 

 

Hog Capital Wildlife Rescue and Rehab is currently raising funds to get more medicine that can treat bald eagles for lead poisoning.

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Vice President Harris Discusses Infrastructure During Chicago Visit

Vice President Kamala Harris was in Chicago this week to tout vaccines and infrastructure.

 

Standing near the shores of Lake Michigan and speaking to a hall of union laborers Harris says major investments surrounding water need to be made to not only repair existing facilities but also leapfrog the capacities of other nations.

 

 

The Great Lakes hold 90% of North Americans surface water.

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Warrensburg-Latham Schools Return to Five Days A Week Learning

As COVID mitigations lessen, a Macon County school district recently returned to class five days a week.

 

Warrensburg-Latham students returned to classes five days a week last month and Superintendent Cheryl Warner points out it was an opportunity for their remote learners to return to the in-person setting, bringing their percentage of in-person learners to roughly 90-percent.

 

 

As students return from the in-person setting, Warner indicates they are noticing trends in line with many other districts: some students are doing just fine, however, there are a good number of students struggling.

 

 

Warrensburg-Latham has a pilot program that has been introduced to help with credit recovery but Warner indicates there are other options they are considering. The district is considering summer school options to catch its students up.

 

 

For the younger students, the district has been proactive in keeping tabs on where those youngsters are. Warner explains they are establishing the most important priorities for students and their readiness for the next grade. She believes it will be impossible to meet all the standards set by the State of Illinois.

 

 

Looking ahead to next year, Warner says they are looking at an intervention program for young high school students with the assumption of a normal school day and a normal amount of classroom time again. 

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Weekly Crop Report

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

 

THERE WERE LESS THAN FOUR DAYS SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK, BUT FARMERS GOT A FEW THINGS DONE SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.

 

 

ILLINOIS FARMERS WERE ABLE TO TILL, SPREAD DRY FERTILIZER AND APPLY ANHYDROUS AMMONIA THIS PAST WEEK SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER. LOOKING AT WINTER WHEAT…

 

 

PASTURE CONDITIONS ARE RATED AS 58 PERCENT IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE CAME IN AT ONE PERCENT VERY SHORT, 16 PERCENT SHORT, 70 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 30 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Sen. Duckworth Hosts Vice President Harris in Chicago

The Vice President was in Chicago Tuesday where Kamala Harris visited a vaccination site. US Senator Tammy Duckworth says she was glad to see so many people of color at the event highlighting the need to get more vaccine acceptance in the minority community.

 

 

Harris also spent time in Chicago talking about the President's infrastructure plan and its impact on the city and the state of Illinois.

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Governor's Office hopeful the state can move to Phase 5 by the beginning of the summer

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER'S OFFICE SAYS THEY ARE HOPEFUL ILLINOIS CAN MOVE TO PHASE FIVE BY THE BEGINNING OF THE SUMMER. 

 

DESPITE THE RECENT RISE IN CASES, THE GOVERNOR'S CHIEF OF STAFF ANN CAPRARA SAYS THERE MAY BE SOME GOOD NEWS IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.

 

 

CAPRARA SAYS WHILE SHE'S MORE OPTIMISTIC THAN SHE'S BEEN DURING THE WHOLE PANDEMIC, THERE ARE STILL CONCERNS.

 

 

STILL, CAPRARA SAYS THEY ARE HOPING FOR GOOD NEWS IN THE COMING MONTHS AS VACCINATION EFFORTS INCREASE. ABOUT 40 PERCENT OF THE STATE'S POPULATION HAS CURRENTLY GOTTEN AT LEAST ONE DOSE OF THE SHOT.

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Gov. Pritzker Touts American Rescue Plan Money for Schools

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS TOUTING FEDERAL RELIEF MONEY TO HELP SCHOOLS REOPEN AND GET STUDENTS BACK ON TRACK.

 

THE SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS WILL HELP DISTRICTS ADDRESS SOME OF THE OBSTACLES CREATED BY THE PANDEMIC, AND THE CHALLENGE OF RETURNING TO NORMAL SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

MOST OF THE FUNDING IS COMING FROM THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN. IT’S SUGGESTED THE MONEY BE USED FOR THINGS LIKE IMPROVING ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY, SUMMER SCHOOL AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS AND TUTORING.

 

 

THE STATE ISSUED A RESOURCE GUIDE LAST WEEK WITH SUGGESTIONS ABOUT HOW TO USE THE FUNDING, INCLUDING TUTORING AND SUMMER SCHOOL AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS.

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Generous Rains Expected for Illinois This Week

Illinois along with the rest of the Midwest can expect a generous week of rainfall. That assessment from DTN Chief Agricultural Meteorologist Bryce Anderson.

 

 

More seasonable temps should also be returning to Illinois later in the week.

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In Person Events Returning To Clinton's Warner Library

In person activities for all ages are returning to Clinton's Vespasian Warner Library.

 

Executive Director, Bobbi Perryman, told Regional Radio News Tuesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, that the library staff are excited to bring programs safely back to their patrons. She says the last in person group events were held last October...

 

 

According to Perryman, both adults and children will have the chance for activities this month. She says Warner Library will host a seed starting seminar for adults this Thursday.....

 

 

Cory Campbell is the Youth Services Manager at Warner Library. He notes both families with young children, and teens, will also get the chance to participate at in person activities in April...

 

 

Both Perryman and Campbell note the library is also still offering Grab and Go kits for all ages as well.

 

To learn more about upcoming events at the Warner Public Library, visit www.VWarner.org.

 

 

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Blue Ridge Schools Superintendent Targets Strategic Planning

Blue Ridge schools will soon begin strategic planning.

 

First-year Superintendent Dr. Hilary Stanifer says the process for that could get underway this fall. In the meantime, they will await having larger gatherings so the community can be a part of this process and the Board of Education can decide to lead the process on its own or bring in professionals to guide the discussions.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer points to three areas in planning she wants to address: a positive public image, student success, and facilities.

 

 

Unrelated to strategic planning, the district recently hired Brian Easter as the high school's new principal. 

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McLean County Museum of History Set to Reopen Later This Month

The McLean County Museum of History is gearing up to welcome visitors back in later this month.

 

Candace Summers with the McLean County Museum of History indicates the museum has remained closed due to their restroom and historic lighting projects. She notes the projects are coming to a close, and the public can expect the museum to be open by the middle of the month.

 

 

Summers says they will not be debuting any new exhibits due to the museum closing a few months after the "Community in Conflict" exhibit opened. Additionally, she explains the museum will need a new roof before they put in any new exhibits on the third floor.

 

 

To stay up to date with the McLean County Museum of History's reopening, visit mchistory.org or their Facebook page.

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Pritzker: Still not ready for "bridge" phase

Illinois has hit one benchmark for a soft reopening of the states’ economy but not all of them. Governor JB Pritzker says even though more than 70% of those over 65 do have at least their first COVID-19 shot not all the metrics are heading the right way to get the state to the “Bridge” phase.

 

 

Pritzker says he hopes with more than 100,000 vaccinations done each day that the latest increase in cases will slow quickly.

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Pritzker lobbied for all-star game to be moved to Chicago

MLB says they won’t be holding their All-Star game in Atlanta this year and that has many states ready to offer up their stadiums.

 

Governor JB Pritzker says his administration is ready to bring the game to either baseball stadium in Chicago.

 

 

The last All-Star Game in Chicago was hosted by the White Sox in 2003, Wrigley Field held the game in 1990. MLB decided yesterday the game would be relocated to Denver.

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IL Dept. of Innovation and Technology warns about "phishing" emails

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY IS WARNING ABOUT THE DANGERS OF "PHISHING" EMAILS.

 

PHISHING EMAILS ARE SENT BY SCAM ARTISTS HOPING TO GET YOU TO REVEAL YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION. THE STATE'S CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER, CHRIS BRITTEN SAYS THE MESSAGE MAY APPEAR TO BE FROM SOMEONE YOU KNOW OR A COMPANY YOU DO BUSINESS WITH, BUT IF ANYTHING LOOKS OFF, BE ON ALERT. HE RECOMMENDS THIS TRICK:

 

 

A PHISHING EMAIL MAY LOOK VERY REAL, COMING FROM SOMEONE YOU KNOW OR A BUSINESS YOU FREQUENT. BUT THE STATE'S CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER CHRIS BRITTEN SAYS THE SENDER IS ACTUALLY TRYING TO GET YOU TO GIVE OUT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION, OR FOLLOW A LINK THAT MAY BE IMBEDDED WITH A VIRUS. HE ADVISES NEVER CLICKING ON A LINK SENT VIA EMAIL OR SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGE.

 

 

BRITTEN SAYS YOU CAN ALSO HOVER YOUR MOUSE OVER THE SENDER'S EMAIL OR THE LINK TO SEE WHETHER THEY ARE THE REAL DEAL OR HAVE A SKETCHY LOOKING ADDRESS.

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Illinois Republican introduces "Keep College Students Learning Act"

Central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis is looking to provide students financial flexibility when it comes to in-person learning.

 

The Taylorville Republican introduced the Keep College Students Learning Act, which would allow students to keep their place at an institution even if they decide to leave for in-person instruction.

 

 

The Taylorville Republican added that the bill he introduced has yet to get passed.

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IHSA traditional spring sports start Monday

The IHSA traditional spring sports start their seasons today (Monday). That includes baseball, softball and boys and girls track. Those sports were canceled last year due to the pandemic. Rockridge High School softball coach John Nelson is ready for a full season.


 

Baseball, softball, girls soccer and boys and girls track will also get state tournament series this spring.

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March weather was pretty mild in Illinois

MARCH WEATHER WAS PRETTY MILD IN ILLINOIS.

 

AVERAGE TEMPERATURES IN FEBRUARY WERE IN THE 20'S, BUT LAST MONTH WAS A DIFFERENT STORY. PRELIMINARY FIGURES SHOW TEMPS AVERAGED NEARLY 46 DEGREES IN MARCH SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD.

 

 

PRELIMINARY NUMBERS SHOW LAST MONTH'S AVERAGE STATEWIDE TEMPERATURE WAS NEARLY 46 DEGREES, LIKELY MAKING IT THE 13TH WARMEST MARCH ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. THAT'S QUITE A WARMUP FROM FEBRUARY'S 20 DEGREE AVERAGE. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD SAYS RAINFALL VARIED ACROSS THE STATE, WITH SOUTHERN ILLINOIS SEEING THE MOST AND NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS MISSING OUT.

 

 

FORD SAYS THE UPCOMING WARMING TREND IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THROUGH THE SECOND WEEK OF APRIL.

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DeWitt, Macon, Piatt Counties 4-H Fair to Be Held In Person

The DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties 4-H Fair will be held in person this year, July 9-12.

 

Lindsey Burden, DeWitt County U of I Extension Program Coordinator, indicates in addition to this year's 4-H being in person, it will also be the first fair with full participation from all three counties.

 

 

Burden notes the logistics are being worked out as the University's current guidelines limit the number of people on the fairgrounds to 50 at a time. She says to accommodate, they are extending the fair by a day and extended judging times.

 

 

Burden adds since this year is the first year for a tri-county fair, they need more judges than previous years. She notes they are reaching out to 4-H alumni to bring new judges.

 

 

Social distancing will be implemented as much as possible. Project judging will be outside as much as possible, and livestock will show at different times and leave after showing.

 

 

Livestock shows will be streamed online to limit spectators. The DeWitt, Piatt, and Macon Counties 4-H Fair will be held July 9-12 at the DeWitt County Fairgrounds.

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Neighborhood Care Center Seeking Volunteers for Load Out Stocking Night

Looking for ways to give back to the community but don't have a lot of time? The Neighborhood Care Center in Clinton has an opportunity for you.

 

Cody Monkman, with the Neighborhood Care Center, indicates Load Out Stocking Night occurs on the first Monday night of the month. He says they receive a shipment from the Midwest Foodbank, and volunteers help to stock the Neighborhood Market.

 

 

Monkman notes he has met many new community members through the Load Out Stocking Night. Businesses have also used the volunteer opportunity as a team-building exercise.

 

 

Emily Monkman volunteers with Load Out Stocking Night each month. She gives an overview of what volunteers can expect.

 

 

Monkman says they can accommodate children or seniors who want to volunteer but may be hesitant. He says they can find ways for everyone who signs up to contribute.

 

 

To learn more about Load Out Stocking Night or to sign up to volunteer, visit www.neighborhoodcarecenter.net and click on the services tab.

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Lincoln Weighing Use for COVID Dollars

Schools, cities, and counties will now have more access to funding for COVID-related costs thanks to the $1.9-trillion economic stimulus package passed in Washington, D.C. last month. 

 

The City of Lincoln is weighing what to do with those dollars and Mayor Tracy Welch indicates they are exploring how to use the funding to offset costs associated with COVID.

 

 

Overtime costs during the pandemic are piling up for communities across the country to their first responders and Mayor Welch notes those costs could possibly be a destination for those dollars.

 

 

The Mayor recently secured a grant through State Farm for updated laptops for City workers. Mayor Welch has secured 20 for his community and encourages other civic and community leaders to look into the program.

 

 

The community's first round of CARES funding went back into local businesses through grants the city turned the funding into. 

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April is Financial Literacy Month

April is Financial Literacy Month and Social Security is promoting future planning and understanding how Social Security benefits fit into your financial future.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security encourages getting set up to keep track of your retirement benefits through Social Security. 

 

 

After setting up a 'My Social Security Account', Myers says all the information you find would provide current earnings and benefits as well as a retirement estimator. He also explains knowing what your family would qualify for in the event 

 

 

Visit ssa.gov/myaccount for access to personal information regarding the retirement estimator. Myers encourages the yearly check to make sure your earnings record is also correct. 

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Pandemic impacting enrollment at Illinois schools

$7 billion dollars of federal funding is being directed to Illinois schools. Those dollars come as the real impact of the pandemic on K through 12 education is being tallied up. Melissa Figueira with Advance Illinois, an education policy organization, says early data they have collected shows a dramatic impact on enrollments over the past year.

 

 

Figueira notes even though much was done to overcome educational short falls there is a long way to go to get kids caught back up.

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Rep. Davis confident in Pres. Biden's vaccine goal

Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis is confident in President Joe Biden's goal of administering 200 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in his first 100-days in office.

 

The Taylorville Republican, who is fully vaccinated, said the Bident Administration's goal is obtainable, but as more vaccines become readily available, the conversation needs to focus on reopening the economy.

 

 

Davis joined McLean County health officials earlier this week on a tour of the Grossinger Motors Arena, where the site averages around 500 vaccines a day.

 

As of late last week, 5.9 million Illinoisans received their first dose of the vaccine, with 2.2 million fully vaccinated.

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Illinois continues to play leading role in Midwestern Hemp Data Base

The Midwestern Hemp Data Base is accepting producer applications for the 2021 growing season. Illinois is among four states involved in the project says University of Illinois commercial ag educator Phillip Alberti.

 

 

Producers interested in participating in the Midwestern Hemp Database this year can apply at “go.illinois.edu/hempdatabase”.

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Warner Hospital & Health Services Reopening Visiting Hours April 15

With COVID restrictions starting to loosen across the state, a local hospital is resuming visiting hours with limitations.

 

Warner Hospital & Health Services CEO Paul Skowron indicates, on April 15, one person will be allowed to visit a patient at a time. He notes these restrictions will continue to loosen further per state guidelines.

 

 

Additional visitors will be asked to wait in the parking lot and will be notified by the hospital when it is their turn.

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Bost Bill Would Expand Truck Parking Options

Looking for a way to improve safety for truckers and other motorists on our nation’s highways, Illinois Congressman Mike Bost of Murphysboro has introduced the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act.

The act would address what he calls a critical shortage in available parking for semis and large commercial trucks.

 

Bost says the lack of safe parking interferes with operators’ ability to take necessary rest periods to avoid driver fatigue, which compromises highway user safety.

 

 

The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act would establish a set-aside source of funding from existing U.S. Department of Transportation funding to create more parking spots. Bost says this bill has bipartisan support.

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Illinois statehouse Republicans continue to push Reimagine Illinois campaign

Republicans at the Illinois State House are pushing a package of bills focused on the renewal of the state – the 81 bills - dubbed Reimagine Illinois focuses on the pillars of ending corruption, balancing the budget, job opportunities and public safety.

 

Republican Rep. CD Davidsmeyer is focused on budget concerns including finding a way to pay for proposed new programs.

 

 

Republicans say with hundreds, if not thousands, of bills proposed and voted on each year - their Reimagine Illinois program should get an up or down floor vote.

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Secretary of State's Office Launches New Organ Donation Campaign with Ed Farmer

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE'S OFFICE IS LAUNCHING A NEW ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION CAMPAIGN FEATURING A FORMER WHITE SOX ALL-STAR. 

 

FOR MORE THAN A DECADE WHITE SOX PITCHER AND LATER ANNOUNCER ED FARMER HAS PROMOTED ORGAN DONATION, HAVING BENEFITED HIMSELF FROM THE GIFT OF LIFE IN THE EARLY 90'S SAYS SECRETARY WHITE.

 

 

THE ADS TELL THE STORY OF FORMER WHITE SOX PITCHER AND ANNOUNCER ED FARMER, WHO RECEIVED A KIDNEY TRANSPLANT FROM HIS BROTHER. SECRETARY WHITE SAYS HIS OWN FAMILY KNOWS THE IMPORTANCE OF ORGAN DONATION.

 

 

FARMER PASSED AWAY LAST YEAR. MORE THAN SEVEN MILLION ILLINOISANS HAVE SIGNED UP TO BECOME ORGAN AND TISSUE DONORS, BUT ABOUT FOUR THOUSAND PEOPLE REMAIN ON THE WAITING LIST FOR A TRANSPLANT.  300 ILLINOISANS STILL DIE EACH YEAR WAITING FOR AN ORGAN. YOU CAN PLEDGE TO GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE AND LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROCESS ONLINE AT: LIFE GOES ON DOT COM.

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COVID Stimulus Money Helping Blue Ridge Schools Put Together Summer School Program

Federal money in the latest COVID stimulus bill is allowing Blue Ridge Schools the opportunity to host summer school and bring students that need extra attention in line with where they should be after a great deal of lost instruction time in the last 12-plus months.

 

Superintendent Dr. Hilary Stanifer indicates they are working on which students they will target, which content areas they will focus on, and getting dates set up. She also points out they will use the recently issued funding from the COVID stimulus package to fund this program.

 

 

Like many districts, Blue Ridge schools are seeing mixed results from students in remote learning. Dr. Stanifer explains for students struggling, the struggles are in students having to keep themselves accountable.

 

 

The State Board of Education is requiring every student to have the opportunity to attend summer school, however, Dr. Stanifer emphasizes this is not going to be an opportunity for students to leap ahead, it will simply focus on reinforcing or solidifying those essential lessons for each grade level.

 

 

Blue Ridge schools last month went from four days of in-person to five days. Dr. Stanifer notes while in the second semester, they have not seen a desire of remote learners to return to in-person learning at the level of the first semester. She points out they made some exceptions to allow students back to in-person learning despite the policy they put in place before the start of the year.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer is planning for a multi-year summer program but believes things could change in the next year or two as students perhaps make bigger gains during a full year of in-person instruction.

 

She also adds they are adding a transportation component to their summer school because she believes that would make it more accessible to their families. 

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Warner Hospital Approves FY22 Budget

A reopening budget is how the CEO of Clinton's Warner Hospital describes the upcoming budget year approved Tuesday night by the hospital board.

 

CEO Paul Skowron on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday called it the most unusual budgeting year they have ever experienced. With the hospital coming out of the lockdowns of 2020 and looking to bring the community back for preventative healthcare, predicting revenues and expenditures was difficult.

 

 

Hospital officials went back five years to project this year's budget. Skowron indicates because it is such an unusual circumstance, they are focusing on getting their patients back for preventative healthcare appointments.

 

 

According to Skowron, the administration's focus for capital expenditures was to not take on more than they could handle. He felt in years past they may have tried to do too much.

 

 

In the fiscal year 2022 budget, Skowron says they are planning to purchase a CT scanner. The current machine is beginning to become costly and so they feel it would be prudent to simply get a new machine.

 

 

Skowron also notes, they are still planning for their lab remodel and some cosmetic upgrades to their staff rooms in addition to some concrete work in front of the emergency room.

 

 

Cardiac rehab has been shut down since last year but will be reopening soon and that will be the last service that was shut down to return. Skowron encourages anyone who has put off appointments to think about getting back for those check-ups.

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Monticello Bringing Back 'Business Bootcamp' Program

After the pandemic suspended Monticello's Business Bootcamp program, city officials indicate it is coming back.

 

Callie McFarland is the Director of Community Development for Monticello and points out she has seen a lot of interest in people wanting to start businesses. To that end, the City plans to restart the program that gives potential entrepreneurs the tools to start and sustain a successful business.

 

 

The program brings in local experts and leaders of all types to help guide these prospective business owners and McFarland says because so much time is dedicated by both the presenters and the attendees, they want to make sure there is quality in the time spent.

 

 

According to McFarland, not every person that goes through the class is going to come out of it ready to start a business - and she says that is OK. She would rather someone realize an area of their business plan that needs improving than start a business without all the tools to run a successful business.

 

 

McFarland indicates their program is open to anyone in any community. Classes begin April 15 and you can get more information or get signed up by visiting monticellobootcamp.com. 

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Scovill Zoo Kicks Off New Year Friday

Good Friday opens the new year for the Scovill Zoo in Decatur.

 

Director Ken Frye is excited to welcome people back. He points out they are still under COVID mitigations and encourages getting your tickets online ahead of your visit.

 

 

According to Frye, the Zoo will be able to offer the petting zoo this year. He is excited the carousel and the train will be back for this summer, with some guidelines for those wanting to ride.

 

 

The zoo should have plenty of cute baby animals for those coming out to see. Frye explains they have about a half-a-dozen baby goats along with a few other new babies elsewhere in the zoo.

 

 

Frye says he is just glad to have people back again. He points out they will have several programs in the first few months for the public and are bringing back their popular 'Free Admission Thursdays' this summer. 

 

For more information, visit scovillzoo.com. 

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USDA Prospective Planting Report Pushes Commodity Market Higher

A big run-up in the commodity market on Wednesday. Limit higher moves in corn and soybean futures at the Chicago Board of Trade pushed by the USDA’s prospective plantings report says AgriVisor’s Karl Setzer.

 

 

May soybean contracts were up 70-cents Wednesday, ending at $14.36 with May corn futures up 25-cents, finishing at $5.64.

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University Farm Continues to Teach ISU Students

The department of agriculture has been a staple at Illinois State University and one of the perks is the university's farm in Lexington. Farm manager Jason Lindbom says quite a few students don't have a farm background, so it offers some great hands-on experience.

 

 

Lindbom is a graduate of the ISU Department of Agriculture and has been the farm manager since 2017. The ISU farm has been around since 1914 and has been located in Lexington since 2003.

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Illinois Department of Ag Confident for State Fairs But Unsure of COVID Mitigations

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CONTINUES TO MOVE AHEAD WITH PLANS FOR HOLDING THE ILLINOIS AND DUQUOIN STATE FAIRS THIS YEAR.

 

AG DIRECTOR JERRY COSTELLO SAYS HE'S FEELING POSITIVE THAT THE FAIRS WILL BE HELD, BUT WHAT THAT WILL LOOK LIKE REMAINS TO BE SEEN.

 

 

COSTELLO SAYS THEY HAVE BEEN TALKING WITH PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS ABOUT IMPLEMENTING SOME OF THE MEASURES MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL AND LARGE EVENT VENUES ARE USING. 

 

 

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW FOR CONCERTS AND CARNIVAL RIDES FOR BOTH FAIRS. THE STATE FAIR RUNS AUGUST 12TH THROUGH THE 22ND AND DUQUOIN IS SLATED FOR AUGUST 27TH THROUGH SEPTEMBER SIXTH.

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70-Percent of Seniors 65-Over Have Received at Least One Dose of COVID Vaccines But Gov. Putting Pause on Bridge Phase

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS AN INCREASE IN COVID-19 CASES AND HOSPITALIZATIONS MEANS THE STATE CAN'T MOVE TO THE "BRIDGE PHASE" YET. 

 

THE LATEST DAILY TOTALS ARE NEARLY 26-HUNDRED NEW CASES AND OVER 14-HUNDRED PATIENTS HOSPITALIZED. SO DESPITE 70 PERCENT OF SENIORS NOW VACCINATED, ILLINOIS CAN'T OPEN UP FURTHER UNTIL THOSE NUMBERS GO DOWN. IN THE MEANTIME, GOVERNOR PRITZKER REMINDS THAT EVERYONE OVER 16 OUTSIDE THE CITY OF CHICAGO IS ELIGIBLE TO GET THE VACCINE STARTING APRIL 12TH. EVEN EARLIER IN SOME PLACES.

 

 

 GOVERNOR PRITZKER REMINDS THAT EVERYONE CAN GET THE SHOT STARTING APRIL 12TH. SOME AREAS WITH LESS DEMAND ARE ALREADY EXTENDING VACCINE ELIGIBILITY.

 

 

CHICAGO IS ON A DIFFERENT VACCINE ELIGIBILITY TIMETABLE. ONCE COVID NUMBERS IMPROVE, THE STATE WILL ENTER THE BRIDGE PHASE WITH INCREASED CAPACITY ALLOWED IN BOTH INDOOR AND OUTDOOR SETTINGS.

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Ex-Illinois Senator Indicted on Federal Tax Charges

A former Illinois state senator is facing federal tax charges for allegedly under-reporting income from her lobbying and consulting firm and failing to file federal income tax returns, the U.S. attorney in Chicago announced Wednesday.

 

Annazette Collins, 58, is accused of willfully filing false individual tax returns for 2014 and 2015 and failing to file an individual tax return for 2016.

 

U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr. announced Collins is also accused of failing to file 2015 and 2016 tax returns for her consulting and lobbying business, Chicago-based Kourtnie Nicole Corp. Collins has declined to comment on the charges.

 

Collins, who left the Senate in 2013 after losing in a Democratic Party primary the year before, was among several former legislators hired by Commonwealth Edison to lobby state lawmakers. Collins registered as a contract lobbyist for ComEd in 2014.

 

Lausch did not mention ComEd when announcing the indictment of Collins.

 

Each felony count of filing a false individual income tax return is punishable by up to three years in federal prison, according to prosecutors. The misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to file individual or corporate income tax returns each carry a maximum prison sentence of one year.

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$7-Billion in Federal Funds Going to Illinois Schools

$7 billion is heading towards Illinois schools and classrooms. Governor JB Pritzker announced that those dollars from the federal government will help bridge a possible learning gap after a year of remote school or no school at all. State Superintendent Carmen Ayala says the dollars don’t have to be spent the same from district to district.

 

 

Data supplied by the state shows Illinois saw a drop of more than 35,000 students year over year and the biggest declines were in early elementary grades.

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Chicago Leaders Warn Ballparks May Close if Virus Numbers Climb

As thousands of people get ready to flock to Wrigley Field on Thursday for Chicago’s largest mass gathering in more than a year, city officials warned that they may again shut the venerated ballpark to fans if the number of COVID-19 cases keep climbing.

 

The warning from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications also applies to the White Sox’s ballpark, as well as bars, restaurants and other businesses, and comes amid an increase in the number of cases in Chicago and Illinois, particularly among young adults. Just this week, state public health officials announced that the lifting of some restrictions was being delayed because of increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations since mid-March.

 

Both the Cubs and the White Sox will be allowed to admit as much as 25% percent capacity. For Wrigley Field, that means a maximum of a little more than 10,000 fans in the stands. Many more are expected to watch the game from nearby bars and restaurants that are routinely crowded with fans during home games. Those establishments are limited to 50% capacity, and customers must wear masks, just like at Wrigley.

 

City officials already have said they are on the lookout for whether bars and restaurants are complying with restrictions. OEMC warned Wednesday that “everyone needs to abide by public health guidance, including wearing masks in public even if you’ve been vaccinated.”

 

A few hours after the news release, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office announced that the county that includes Chicago had recorded its 10,000th COVID-19 death.

 

Of particular concern, said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, are the North Side neighborhoods near Wrigley Field.

 

At Wrigley and across town at Guaranteed Rate Field — the South Side home of the White Sox — cash won’t be accepted at concession stands or in souvenir shops. Also, everyone from players to fans “can expect comprehensive screening and sanitization procedures based on the latest scientific guidance,” according to the city’s news release.

 

The food menu at Wrigley will be limited to packaged items. Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate Field, where the White Sox’s home opener is scheduled for April 8, will implement pod seating to keep groups of fans separated.

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