Local News

McLean County Museum of History to Reopen Saturday

The McLean County Museum of History is reopening its doors this Saturday.

 

Candace Summers on the WHOW Morning Show Friday told Regional Radio News part of the hold-up for reopening has been ongoing construction.

 

 

Summers indicates the Museum is following all the recommended health and safety protocols set by the government. 

 

 

Capacity inside the Museum will be monitored by staff. Each exhibit will be limited to a maximum of 10 guests, and no more than 20 guests will be allowed to occupy the building at one time. Summers reminds, Mondays and Wednesdays are reserved for group reservations. 

 

Get more details at mchistory.org. 

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Encore Continues to Welcome Clients Back as Programs Grow

As more people are getting vaccinated in Illinois, a DeWitt County non-profit is seeing an increased demand for its services.

 

Encore Developmental Services Executive Director Stephanie Coonce indicates they are back to full capacity and feels fortunate that from the start of the pandemic until now, their clients have all been spared from COVID.

 

 

As more of their clients receive the vaccine, Coonce indicates they are seeing very minimal impacts from the usual reactions many who have been vaccinated have experienced.

 

 

According to Coonce, having the vaccine widely available has allowed a lot of their clients to breathe a sigh of relief. She indicates they have seen a lot of skill loss over the past year with their clients.

 

 

Coonce notes Encore's 'Garden Showcase' program is starting to get back to its spring work. She adds there is a lot of interest from their clients to start returning to doing things like make a trip to the store or the local restaurant though she is increasingly optimistic that will start happening soon. 

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Young Central Illinois Entrepreneurs To Highlight Year's Long Work Next Week

Teenage entrepreneurs are hoping the public will come and check out a year's worth of work early next month as a part of a trade show for a pair of business-oriented programs.

 

The Central Illinois and Sangamon Valley CEO programs are holding separate trade shows next week. The Central Illinois CEO Program made up of students from Clinton, Blue Ridge, Maroa-Forsyth, and Warrensburg-Latham High Schools will hold a trade show Tuesday, May 4 from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Hickory Point Golf Course and Banquet facility. On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, the program's Jasmyn Geralds, Emma Culbertson, and Emmah Cook outline what to expect if you attend.

 

 

The Sangamon Valley Ceo program, comprised of students from Monticello, Bement, Cerro Gordo, and Argenta-Oreana High Schools, will hold its trade show outside on Wednesday, May 5 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. From Monticello High School, Ethan Braake and Josie Nelson talk about what will make their trade show unique.

 

 

Students in each chapter have been working in the second semester of the program to develop their businesses. The CEO program aims to teach high school students, mostly seniors, about the ins and outs of the business world. From basics about dressing professionally and speaking face-to-face or to a room full of people to marketing a business, students are taught a variety of lessons through the course of the school year.

 

The programs are supported by businesses and donors in their respective communities. While they are coordinated through each district, no funding comes from the schools they represent. 

 

You can learn more about each chapter by visiting centralillinoisceo.com or by visiting sangamonvalleyceo.com. 

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New Report Analyzes Causes of Death in Pregnant Women, New Moms

A NEW REPORT LOOKS AT THE MAIN CAUSES OF DEATH FOR NEW MOTHERS IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THE DATA COVERS DEATHS IN 2016 AND 2017 AMONG PREGNANT WOMEN AND THOSE WITHIN ONE YEAR OF PREGNANCY SAYS STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay).

 

 

DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay). THAT'S FOLLOWED BY PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITIONS THAT WERE EXACERBATED BY THE PREGNANCY, HYPERTENSIVE DISORDERS AND HEMORRHAGE.

 

 

THAT'S FOLLOWED BY HYPERTENSIVE DISORDERS AND HEMORRHAGE. EZIKE SAYS BLACK WOMEN WERE MORE THAN THREE TIMES AS LIKELY TO DIE DURING OR WITHIN A YEAR AFTER THEIR PREGNANCY. MOST BLACK WOMEN DIED OF RELATED MEDICAL PROBLEMS WHILE WHITE WOMEN DIED MORE OFTEN BECAUSE OF PREGNANCY-RELATED MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS.

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FEMA Providing Assistance to Families Affected by COVID

Those who lost loved ones due to COVID-19 can receive funeral reimbursements through a Federal Emergency Management Agency program.

 

Under the American Rescue Plan and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, FEMA provides financial assistance for those who lost a loved one to COVID-19 after January 20, 2020. State Rep. Dan Brady, who also serves as a Funeral Director at Kibler-Brady-Ruestman Memorial Home in Bloomington, said the act provides up to 9-thousand dollars in funding for each individual who died from COVID-19.

 

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 570-thousand Americans have died from the virus.

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Blue Ridge Schools Hosting Distanced Prom Saturday

As area school leaders grapple with how to handle annual spring events like prom and graduation, a DeWitt County school district is forging ahead with a makeshift prom this weekend.

 

Superintendent of Blue Ridge Schools Dr. Hilary Stanifer views it as a revision of post-prom events but feels grateful to be able to offer something to their students after the craziness of the last year.

 

 

According to Dr. Stanifer, May 23 will be the in-person graduation. The district is planning for four admitted individuals for each student and a live stream of the event will be available for anyone else wanting to be a part of it.

 

 

Blue Ridge was able to have some untraditional, but nonetheless Homecoming events this month. Dr. Stanifer was disappointed the Homecoming football game was postponed due to their opponent's battle with COVID.

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Clinton Chamber of Commerce Adjusts Dates for May Days

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce has modified its dates for the return of the annual May Days Festival.

 

Originally scheduled to return May 13-16 after taking last year off due to COVID, the new dates are Thursday, May 20 through Sunday, May 23. 

 

2021 will mark the 29th year for the annual festival. There are activities for everyone to enjoy from live bands, games, rides, a waterball competition, food trucks, and vendors.

 

Presale carnival tickets can be purchased at a reduced price of $20 for a sheet of 22 at the following locations in Clinton:

 

Clinton Chamber of Commerce
Edward Jones: Bryce Starkey
Clinton Journal
Kirby Foods: Clinton IGA
Clinton YMCA
Big D Food & Liquor
First National Bank & Trust
Heartland Bank & Trust
DeWitt Savings Bank

 

The offer for presale tickets ends Thursday, May 20 at 3 pm. Tickets will be available when the carnival opens on the square. 

 

Information about MayDays can be found at www.clintonilchamber.com, on Facebook and Instagram @VisitClintonIL, or by calling 217-935-3364.

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House Committee Discusses Tweaks to State Gaming Laws Regarding College Sports Betting

A HOUSE LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE IS DISCUSSING TWEAKS TO CURRENT STATE GAMING LAWS. 

 

ONE PROPOSAL ALLOWS PEOPLE TO PLACE BETS ON ILLINOIS COLLEGE SPORTS. BUT UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JOSH WHITMAN SAYS HE AND HIS COLLEAGUES OPPOSE THE IDEA, NOTING THE IMPORTANCE OF STUDENT-ATHLETE MENTAL HEALTH. HE SAYS PLAYERS ARE ALREADY ATTACKED ONLINE AFTER A BAD GAME.

 

 

OPPONENTS ARE CONCERNED THAT WOULD THREATEN THE INTEGRITY OF THE GAME AND WELL BEING OF PLAYERS. REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ZALEWSKI OF SUMMIT ADDED AN AMENDMENT TO THE PROPOSAL, LETTING A SCHOOL PETITION TO TEMPORARILY SUSPEND BETTING IF A STUDENT-ATHLETE IS INFLUENCED OR MENTALLY OR PHYSICALLY HARMED BECAUSE OF A BET.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DECLINING HORSE RACING INDUSTRY ALSO TESTIFIED AT THE HEARING, SAYING THAT THE 2019 GAMBLING EXPANSION LAW DID NOT DEDICATE ANY REVENUE TOWARDS THE PURSES AWARDED.

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Gov. Pritzker Announces $15-Million Investment to Create Two New Manufacturing Academies Downstate

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING A 15 MILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT IN TWO NEW MANUFACTURING TRAINING ACADEMIES IN DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS.

 

THE STATE-OF-THE-ART TRAINING FACILITIES ARE BEING BUILT AT HEARTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN NORMAL AND SOUTHWESTERN ILLINOIS COLLEGE IN THE METRO EAST AREA. GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS IT'S MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER THAT THE STATE HAS A SKILLED WORKFORCE.

 

 

HEARTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN NORMAL AND SOUTHWESTERN ILLINOIS COLLEGE IN BELLEVILLE WILL BE HOME TO NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART FACILITIES, DEDICATED TO PREPARING A STRONG WORKFORCE SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY ACTING DIRECTOR SYLVIA GARCIA.

 

 

THE ACADEMY AT HEARTLAND WILL BE A PARTNERSHIP WITH RIVIAN AUTOMOTIVE, FOCUSING ON ELECTRIC VEHICLE ENERGY STORAGE. TRAINING AT SOUTHWESTERN WILL INCLUDE PRECISION MACHINING STARTING IN THE FALL OF 2022, TO BE FOLLOWED BY WELDING MANUFACTURING AND INDUSTRIAL ELECTRICITY.

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Heartland Community College President Weighs In On Partnership With Rivian

A new electric vehicle workforce development program is coming to Heartland Community College at the tune of 7.5 million dollars.

 

The program, which would enable the development of new Electric Vehicle-Energy Storge Manufacturing, is the first-of-its-kind and would begin enrolling students in the fall. Heartland President Keith Cornell said the college would also develop a new auto shop, thanks to Rebuild Illinois state grants.

 

 

On Wednesday, Gov. Pritzker, who visited the college, said the new partnership would allow students to obtain a certificate equal to an associate degree. Rivian plans to begin producing its R1T and R1S vehicles later this summer.

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Comptroller Says State's Backlog of Bills is Under Control

ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER SUSANA MENDOZA SAYS THE STATE'S BILL BACKLOG IS NOW UNDER CONTROL. 

 

THE STACK OF BILLS WAITING TO BE PAID TOTALED WELL OVER 16 BILLION IN 2017...BUT THAT HAS SINCE BEEN WHITTLED DOWN TO THREE POINT FIVE BILLION. COMPTROLLER MENDOZA SAYS THIS IS VERY EXCITING NEWS.

 

 

THE ONCE MORE THAN 16 BILLION DOLLAR PILE OF BILLS HAS BEEN REDUCED TO THREE AND A HALF BILLION, PUTTING ILLINOIS ON A MORE REASONABLE, 30-DAY PAYMENT CYCLE SAYS COMPTROLLER MENDOZA.

 

 

MENDOZA SAYS HAVING A RESONABLE PAYMENT CYCLE ALSO HELPS THE STATE'S CREDIT RATING. SHE CAUTIONS THAT LAWMAKERS MUST PASS A BALANCED BUDGET THIS SPRING THAT DOESN'T RELY ON THE ONE TIME INFLUX OF FEDERAL RELIEF MONEY.

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DeWitt County Board Members Dispute Legalities of Recent Action Regarding Solar Energy

In March, the DeWitt County Board approved a six-month moratorium on wind farm applications to allow the Regional Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals time to update the County's ordinances.

 

Last Thursday night, the Board approved a similar resolution and one Board member believes despite the wording, it is a moratorium. Former Board Chair David Newberg contends the resolution proposed by Buck Carter not only is a moratorium but lacks the legal authority to enforce.

 

 

Carter explains under his proposed ordinance, any application for a solar farm put out in the next six months would have to abide by any changes made to the County's solar code.

 

 

But Newberg questioned the legal authority of such a motion to be enforced, pressing Carter on who wrote his motion and the legal advice he received regarding it and the previous month's motion regarding the moratorium on wind applications.

 

 

During a separate discussion regarding solar ordinances, Newberg wondered if every time the County hears of possible development if ordinances will get reviewed. Aaron Kammeyer believes ordinances should be reviewed frequently.

 

 

The review time for the County's solar ordinances was capped at six months as the County anticipates a solar application coming later this year. Board Chair Terry Ferguson is confident the review should not take more than six months. 

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Clinton Schools Leader Weighs In On Standardized Testing

When you ask central Illinois school leaders about standardized testing, the reactions will cover a range of emotional reactions from frustration to indignation, even some may be indifferent. But whether you ask Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles about the St. Louis Cardinals starting pitching or standardized testing, the reaction to either will be the same - level-headed. 

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, the veteran school leader, while disappointed standardized testing was mandated on schools in 2021, was quick to point out this was not something that came from the State - contrary to public opinion.

 

 

Part of the frustration among school leaders is the fact time dedicated to testing this year could be better used to continue to utilize the limited classroom time in place already, in addition to the fact an entire quarter was lost in 2020. Nettles points out the data is likely to show a regression thanks to COVID.

 

 

Educators are hoping the spotlight on standardized testing will lead to reforms. Nettles believes there are practical standardized tests that could be administered and effectively used if given to local control. 

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Monticello Schools Superintendent Weighs In On Standardized Testing

While he would have recommended standardized testing not be administered this year, a Piatt County school leader is not concerned about the testing of his students this year.

 

Dr. Vic Zimmerman, Superintendent of Monticello Schools, indicates he is not fond of having standardized tests be administered this year. The State of Illinois is giving districts the option to give the tests in the spring or this coming fall.

 

 

Many administrators feel administering tests this year is going to return nearly useless data, whenever that data comes back. It's a long-standing frustration in education and Dr. Zimmerman believes the things to come out of COVID are going to make education better, like returning assessment results quicker.

 

 

While he isn't supportive of the testing being done this year, Dr. Zimmerman is confident his students will do well with it regardless because Monticello students are good test-takers.

 

 

Heading into next year, Dr. Zimmerman indicates they will return to five days a week learning and full school days. He also predicts remote learning will not be an option and so they hope to have the majority of their students back in the classroom. 

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Gov. Pritzker Signs Equity Driven Healthcare Reform Legislation

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS SIGNING A NEW LAW DESIGNED TO BRING MORE EQUITY TO HEALTHCARE IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THE REFORM BILL MAKES SEVERAL CHANGES TO TACKLE THE PROBLEM OF DISCRIMINATION AND RACISM WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING MEDICAL TREATMENT. THEY INCLUDE:

 

 

BILL SPONSOR, REPRESENTATIVE CAMILLE LILLY OF CHICAGO SAYS MINORITIES ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED WHEN IT COMES TO CERTAIN DISEASES AND MORTALITY RATES, AND FACE MORE BARRIERS TO GOOD MEDICAL CARE. THIS NEW LAW AIMS TO CHANGE THAT.

 

 

THE NEW LAW ALSO REQUIRES DAY CARE PROVIDERS TO BE TRAINED IN CHILDHOOD EMOTIONAL LEARNING AND TRAUMA, PREVENTS SOMEONE SEEKING TREATMENT FOR A DRUG OVERDOSE FROM BEING ARRESTED AND ENSURES HOSPITALS PROVIDE N-95 MASKS TO ALL DOCTORS AND NURSES FREE OF CHARGE.

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Gov. Pritzker Reacts to Census Data

Hundreds of thousands of people haven’t been leaving Illinois over the past few years. 

 

The population loss that was being talked about in the state really wasn’t all that bad. US Census data shows the state has less than 20,000 fewer people today than 10 years ago. Governor JB Pritzker says too many were listening to the drumbeat of a few who wanted to constantly drag down the state.

 

 

Illinois is now the sixth-largest state, Pennsylvania moved past Illinois to become the fifth-largest state.

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Legislation Would Close Hiring Loophole in IDOT

A bill recently passed in the Illinois House would close a loophole in that IDOT’s snowbirds (snow removal operators) are not subject to. 

 

The request for this legislation came from veterans who say they were not being given equal consideration in the hiring process when IDOT was looking for seasonal help. State Representative CD Davidsmeyer of Jacksonville says right now, the snowbird hiring process is not affected by veteran’s preference.

 

 

Snowbirds are hired through competitive interviews and recalls. Because they do not go through the open competitive process there is no application of the veteran’s preference in the hiring of these temporary employees. HB3716 now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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Clinton's Neighborhood Care Center Using Frozen Meals to Connect With Neighbors

The Neighborhood Care Center is the embodiment of community and caring for those around us, and while so many of its programs carry the mantle, one program is connecting neighbors to neighbors.

 

The NCC's Feed Distribution allows for community members to come in and prepare a frozen meal, though you don't have to help prepare, or grab a frozen meal and connect with a neighbor who may be in need. Director Cody Monkman calls it 'another tool in the toolbox.'

 

 

Hilary Sturgeon, one of NCC's coaches for the program, indicates before COVID, volunteers would meet around once a quarter to prepare the meals. She emphasizes this is a good way for families to get involved but you don't have to be a master chef to participate.

 

 

For Monkman, the feed meals are a great way to break the ice with a neighbor you maybe haven't touched base within a while or be there to support someone close to you going through a hard time. He says the scope of the program has grown in recent years.

 

 

According to Sturgeon, she has seen the power of the program blossom into friendships in her own life. She believes stepping out of her comfort zone using the program to be there for someone she did not know likely would not have had happened if she wasn't involved in the program.

 

 

Monkman points anyone interested in learning more about the services of the Neighborhood Care Center or volunteering with them to visit neighborhoodcarecenter.net. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram. 

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Clinton Board of Education Approves Increase in Pay for District Support Staff

To keep pay for employees in line with the minimum wage increase, the Clinton Board of Education approved an increase in pay for district support staff.

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles at the rescheduled Monday meeting indicated to the Board of Education this was worked on by Assistant Superintendent Drew Goebel.

 

 

Additionally, the Board of Education amended the budget. Nettles called this a formality - as this is something that is done every year. He points out, this year's budget may see more changes thanks to an infusion of federal funding for COVID. 

 

 

Finally, the Board Monday night approved math intervention positions at Clinton Elementary School. Nettles hopes this will attract some very strong professionals thanks to an infusion of federal funds. He points out, he would like to see the district plan to continue these positions once federal funding has stopped. 

 

 

Principals of the various school buildings Monday updated the Board on the progress of summer school indicating invitations have started to go out to in-person learners through the student materials that are sent home and then mailed to remote learners. 

 

Nettles will join the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday morning at 8:30 am. 

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Weekly Crop Report

TEMPERATURES WERE ABOUT 10 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL THIS PAST WEEK BUT FARMERS STILL GOT SOME PLANTING DONE AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT. 

 

NEARLY FIVE DAYS WERE SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.

 

 

SCHLEUSENER SAYS 18 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS HAVE BEEN PLANTED.

 

 

AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE STAYED ABOUT THE SAME, AND IS RATED AS 11 PERCENT SHORT, 82 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND SEVEN PERCENT SURPLUS.

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National Weather Service Talks Spring Outlook

After the snow and frost last week, temperatures will warm up this week but expect a blast of cold air, according to the National Weather Service.

 

Chris Miller, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Lincoln, indicates we can expect cooler temperatures along with fluctuations as May approaches. Miller states this is typically due to transitions in the atmosphere.

 

 

Miller says temperatures won't stabilize until sometime in mid to late May. He says the entire Northern Hemisphere is experiencing fluctuating patterns of warm temperatures followed by cold fronts.

 

 

Miller indicates heavy rains later this week and into next week will be beneficial for the soil moisture.

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Strong Start to Trading at Chicago Board of Trade This Week

A strong run-up in the commodity markets on Monday. AgriVisor’s Karl Setzer at the close.

 

 

May corn futures were up 25 cents at the Chicago Board of Trade on Monday with May soybean and wheat contracts both ending 29 cents higher on the day.

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Illinois Losing Seat in Congress

ILLINOIS IS LOSING A SEAT IN CONGRESS. 

 

PRELIMINARY DATA FROM THE 2020 U-S CENSUS INDICATES THAT THE NUMBER OF ILLINOIS MEMBERS IN THE U-S HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WILL DROP FROM 18 TO 17. REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE AVERY BOURNE OF MORRISONVILLE SAYS THIS ISN'T SURPRISING.

 

 

G-O-P STATE REPRESENTATIVE TIM BUTLER OF SPRINGFIELD SAYS THE TREND NEEDS TO END.

 

 

BUTLER ADDS  THE LEGISLATURE NEEDS TO ENACT BUSINESS FRIENDLY LAWS THAT WILL KEEP PEOPLE HERE AND DRAW POLITICAL DISTRICTS IN A FAIR PROCESS. STATES GAINING A SEAT IN CONGRESS INCLUDE TEXAS, FLORIDA, COLORADO AND NORTH CAROLINA.

 

BOURNE SAYS THE CENSUS DATA SHOWS THE NEED FOR MORE PRO-BUSINESS POLICIES IN ILLINOIS AND FOR FAIR POLITICAL BOUNDARIES TO BE DRAWN.

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Governor Says Illinois Could Be Moving to New 'Bridge Phase' In Less Than A Week

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS ILLINOIS COULD BE MOVING TO THE NEW "BRIDGE" PHASE IN LESS THAN A WEEK. 

 

ALTHOUGH MORE THAN 70 PERCENT OF SENIORS ARE NOW VACCINATED, THE STATE HASN'T BEEN ABLE TO MOVE OUT OF PHASE FOUR DUE TO RISING COVID-19 CASES AND HOSPITALIZATIONS. THAT MAY BE CHANGING SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

THE RISING NUMBER OF CASES AND HOSPITALIZATIONS HAS KEPT MITIGATIONS STAGNANT SO FAR SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

THE LATEST DAILY TOTALS ARE MORE THAN 21-HUNDRED NEW CASES AND OVER TWO THOUSAND COVID PATIENTS IN THE HOSPITAL. THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH HAS CONFIRMED IN EXCESS OF 25-HUNDRED CASES OF COVID VARIANTS IN ILLINOIS.

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Farm Progress Show to Be In-Person This Year

The Farm Progress Show readying for a live in-person event this year. The attraction is Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 in Decatur. Says show director Matt Jungmann.

 

 

Last year’s Farm Progress Show was a virtual event.

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Gov. Pritzker Says Vaccine Supply Will Soon Exceed Demand

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS COVID-19 VACCINE SUPPLY WILL SOON OUTWEIGH DEMAND.

 

AS MORE DOSES ROLL IN, IT'S BECOME MUCH EASIER TO GET AN APPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SHOT. PRITZKER SAYS THEY ARE TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT COUNTIES WITH PLENTY OF DOSES DON'T KEEP GETTING NEW SHIPMENTS.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER ANTICIPATES EVEN MORE DOSES COMING TO ILLINOIS NOW THAT JOHNSON AND JOHNSON IS BACK IS BUSINESS.

 

 

PRITZKER SAYS HE'D EVENTUALLY LIKE PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO GET THE SHOT AT THEIR REGULAR DOCTOR'S OFFICE. MORE THAN NINE MILLION DOSES HAVE BEEN ADMINISTERED SO FAR IN ILLINOIS, WITH 37 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION NOW FULLY VACCINATED.

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Atlanta Tourism Director Discusses Summer 2021

The new Director of the recently created Atlanta Tourism Bureau is focused on integrating the community's history and its attractions.

 

Whitney Ortiz began as the organization's Director of Development in January and has hit the ground running learning all she can about the Logan County community's history and all the things that make it unique. A transplant to central Illinois, Ortiz is fascinated with her community.

 

 

Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln are the staples of tourism in Atlanta and Ortiz indicates her knowledge of Route 66 history, in particular, has grown as she learns more about it. She hopes to bring people to Atlanta by tapping into the things that made Route 66 so popular many years ago.

 

 

Of course, highlighting the community's ties to Abraham Lincoln is a staple of nearly every central Illinois community. Ortiz explains there is so much more information to share and display regarding Lincoln's ties to Atlanta, Illinois.

 

 

Ortiz is planning for a Fourth of July celebration on Saturday, July 3 in addition to events she's planning that would take place on Route 66 in Atlanta. She points anyone hoping to keep up with the latest to the 'Visit Atlanta, IL' Facebook page. She feels they have a lot of good things happening. 

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Is DeWitt County Anti-Development?

Is DeWitt County anti-development?

 

It's a question posed by a former DeWitt County Board member who says recent action by the Board might be turning off future developers. Lance Reece last Thursday night at the DeWitt County Board meeting pointed out recent appointments to boards like the Regional Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals are "self-proclaimed anti-wind proponents."

 

 

Reece questioned the micro-management of the upcoming wind project and questions that were directed to Terry Fountain during an hour-long discussion regarding the latest on the development of the Alta Farms II wind project which started earlier this month.

 

 

But board members pushed back on Reece's accusations. After discussing possible opposition to solar, Dan Matthews pushed back and Melonie Tilley asked Reece to be cut off.

 

 

Board Chair Terry Ferguson says Reece's opinion the County is anti-development is just that, his opinion. He believes the contentiousness of wind is everywhere but predicts solar could be accommodated.

 

 

Board Chair Terry Ferguson and former Board Chair Dave Newberg shared some contentious words regarding reviewing the solar ordinances with a potential solar farm on the horizon. We'll have more on that exchange later this week on Regional Radio News. 

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DeWitt County Non-Profits Encouraged to Apply for United Way's Community Investment Program

Time is running short for DeWitt County non-profit and civic groups to apply for funding from the United Way's Community Investment program.

 

United Way Marketing Coordinator Ryan Huffer indicates non-profits and community groups can apply, then the applications go through a community-based group of volunteers who helps decide how funding is distributed.

 

 

Predictably, fundraising in the last year has been slow for the United Way. Huffer is appreciative they have a good base of donors and volunteers but points out they simply will not have as much funding available as in years past.

 

 

According to Huffer, the application process is not that difficult. He says once applications are complete and submitted, United Way will help groups in their presentations before the panel of volunteers. Huffer also points out they have four categories groups can fall into.

 

 

Applications are due May 3. Visit uwdecatur.org for more information. 

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Watchdog Group to Studey Ameren Rate Increase Request

One of Illinois’ utility watchdogs is promising to study a new rate hike request by central and southern Illinois’ largest energy provider. 

 

Ameren Illinois has asked the Illinois Commerce Commission for a $64-million increase in delivery charges, which it says will help pay for improvements like storm-hardening equipment and other updates to the grid-like stronger wires and poles and new substations. That would work out to an additional $2.75 on an average customer's bill, according to the utility. Citizens Utility Board spokesman Jim Chilsen says they will be looking closely at the request.

 

 

The Illinois Commerce Commission will hold hearings and take comments over the next eight months or so before rendering a decision. If approved, the new rates would take effect early next year.

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Secretary of State Warning of Two Scams Targetig Illinois Residents

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE'S OFFICE IS WARNING THE PUBLIC ABOUT TWO SCAMS TARGETING ILLINOIS RESIDENTS. 

 

COMPLAINTS HAVE BEEN COMING IN ABOUT THE SCAMS AND THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION AND F-B-I HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT.

 

 

THE OTHER SCAM IS A WEBSITE: ILLINOIS CAR REG DOT COM, OFFERING BOGUS LICENSE PLATE STICKER RENEWALS.

 

 

HAUPT STRESSES THAT WHITE'S OFFICE WILL NEVER ASK FOR YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION LIKE A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER VIA TEXT. BOTH SCAMS HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION AND THE F-B-I.

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Rep. Butler Not Pleased About Status

A Republican lawmaker is angry about his bill and others not getting votes on the floor after coming out of committee. Springfield’s Tim Butler was hot about his bill with broad support not having a path towards a full house vote.

 

 

Butler’s bill focused on an issue centered around township government in Springfield.

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Pregnant Women in Third Trimester Could Apply for Disability Parking Decal Under Bill in House

PREGNANT WOMEN MAY BE ABLE TO PARK A LITTLE CLOSER UNDER A BILL PASSED BY THE HOUSE FRIDAY.

 

THE LEGISLATION LETS EXPECTANT MOTHERS IN THEIR THIRD TRIMESTER APPLY TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE FOR A DISABILITY PARKING DECAL. IT'S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE KEITH WHEELER OF NORTH AURORA.

 

 

THE BILL NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE FOR CONSIDERATION.

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Illinois Senate Proposing Making 'Juneteenth' State Holiday

ILLINOIS MAY SOON HAVE A NEW STATE HOLIDAY.

 

SENATE LAWMAKERS VOTED THURSDAY TO OFFICIALLY CELEBRATE THE END OF SLAVERY ON JUNE 19TH EACH YEAR. THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY SENATOR KIMBERLY LIGHTFORD OF MAYWOOD.

 

 

JUNETEENTH MARKS THE DAY IN 1865 WHEN THE LAST SLAVES WERE FREED IN TEXAS. IF APPROVED BY THE HOUSE AND THE GOVERNOR, JUNETEENTH WOULD BECOME A STATE HOLIDAY ON PAR WITH THE FOURTH OF JULY, NEW YEAR'S DAY AND CHRISTMAS.

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Darren Bailey Discusses Bid for Governor

State Senator Darren Bailey is running for Governor of Illinois. When asked why he decided to run against Governor J.B Pritzker, the Effingham-based state lawmaker said taxes and the budget were the biggest issues…

 

 

Thus far, Bailey is one of three Republicans who have declared their candidacy while eight other candidates have begun exploring running against Governor J.B Pritzker in 2022.

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IRS Reminds About Extended Tax Filing Deadline

More than 4 million Illinois residents have filed their taxes thus far in 2021 and thankfully there is still more time for those that have not filed. Michael Devine from the Internal Revenue Service states that efforts to get taxes filed have increased in 2021 including a significant increase in traffic at IRS.gov…

 

 

This year’s Tax Filing Deadline was extended to May 15th.

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Momentum Building to Make Mounds National Park

Cahokia Mounds, and other mounds in the St. Louis area, could soon see a change in their status. There is federal legislation gaining momentum to designate the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site to a National Historic Park. Legislation to make the change has been introduced in both the U.S House and Senate. Currently administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau President and CEO Cory Jobe says obtaining National Park status would be significant.

 

 

Democrat U.S. Senator Dick Durbin has reintroduced a similar piece of legislation in the U.S. Senate. Republican Congressman Mike Bost is leading the way on the Illinois side, with help from Democrat Cori Bush of St. Louis. Sugarloaf Mound in St. Louis is the city’s only remaining mound.

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Gardners Should Watch Out For Non-Native Jumping Worms

Jumping worms are known to be in 23 Illinois counties. Unlike regular earthworms that gardeners welcome, jumping worms are bad for the soil. They look like regular earthworms until late summer or fall when they reach more than six inches long. They have what looks like a milky white collar. And they wiggle vigorously when disturbed. University of Illinois Horticulture Educator Richard Hentschel says spring's too early to identify them.

 

 

The worms may not harm a garden where plants are fed with organic materials that are added from time to time. But they can hurt a forest ecosystem where wild plants don't get a gardener's help.

Hentschel says for now, removing the giant worms and throwing them in the trash is the best way to get rid of them. There's nothing known to kill them that won't kill the good worms too.

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Weekly Weather Summary

A mid-week snow in mid-April is going to give way to more seasonable temperatures next week. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more....

 

 

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DeWitt County Board Chair Gives Vote of Confidence to Cummings Engineering for Wind Farm Work

DeWitt County Board Chair Terry Ferguson is giving a vote of confidence to Cummings Engineering, the firm picked by Enel Green Power to represent the County during the work of the wind farm in northwest DeWitt County. 

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Ferguson indicates he was impressed with the presentation from the firm's Terry Fountain. He calls Cummings a reputable company that has experience with other wind projects in central Illinois.

 

 

Preliminary work on the wind farm has begun. Ferguson explains there's still a ways to go before the towers go up.

 

 

Ferguson believes any hopes of having the project canceled are gone and points out now the focus is to make sure construction falls into the scope of the County's ordinances. 

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Heyworth Schools Superintendent Blasts State's Decision to Administer Standardized Tests in 2021

School leaders in Illinois are disappointed they will be required to give their students yearly standardized tests but one McLean County School leader believes standardized tests need to be done away with altogether. 

 

Given lost classroom time last spring and shortened school days this year in the name of COVID, school leaders are upset they are being required to administer the tests again this year. Superintendent of Heyworth Schools Dr. Lisa Taylor on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday called the testing "ridiculous" and says the options to test students in the spring or fall were both horrible.

 

 

Standardized testing in Illinois is flawed from the perspective of many school leaders and Dr. Taylor points out one of the many challenges is receiving the data in a timely fashion. She believes it is becoming apparent standardized testing is not about what is best for kids, which is contrary to what educators are taught.

 

 

Local testing of students showed more progress in the classroom this year than originally anticipated. Dr. Taylor anticipated more of a summer slide but they did not see as severe of a slide.

 

 

Dr. Taylor is encouraged conversations about reforming standardized testing are starting to take place and believes reforms could happen starting at the federal level and would trickle down from there. 

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House, Senate Continue Passing Bills

STATE LAWMAKERS CONTINUE PASSING BILLS AT A FURIOUS PACE THIS WEEK. 

 

THE HOUSE AND SENATE ARE PUTTING IN A LOT OF HOURS, TRYING TO MEET DEADLINES TO PASS LEGISLATION ONE FROM ONE CHAMBER TO THE OTHER. RECENTLY APPROVED MEASURES INCLUDE EVERYTHING FROM 10 YEAR TERM LIMITS FOR LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO ADDRESSING THE USE OF ISOLATION ROOMS AND RESTRAINTS IN SCHOOL AS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE JOHNATHAN CARROL OF NORTHBROOK.

 

 

SPONSORED BY CHICAGO SENATOR ROBERT MARTWICK, ANOTHER GIVES STUDENTS UP TO FIVE EXCUSED MENTAL HEALTH DAYS.

 

 

ANOTHER BILL MODERNIZES MARRIAGE LICENSES BY LETTING COUPLES GET A COPY THAT HAS MORE GENDER-NEUTRAL TERMS LIKE "SPOUSE" INSTEAD OF "BRIDE AND GROOM" AND THERE'S ALSO A MEASURE AIMED AT PREVENTING MORE TEENS FROM VAPING.

 

ADDITIONALLY, THOSE INCLUDE EVERYTHING FROM A BILL LETTING E-M-T's GIVE PETS PRE-VETERINARY CARE AT THE SCENE AFTER THEY HAVE TREATED ANY PEOPLE.

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'Fix the Foid' Proposal Advances in House

"FIX THE FOID" LEGISLATION IS ADVANCING IN THE ILLINOIS HOUSE. 

 

THE MEASURE REQUIRES FINGERPRINTS AND A BACKGROUND CHECK FOR THOSE WANTING A FOID CARD, OFFERS AN ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THE CARD AND CREATES AN ONLINE PROHIBITED PERSONS PORTAL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO CHECK IF SOMEONE IS NOT LEGALLY ALLOWED TO OWN A GUN. IT'S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE KATHLEEN WILLIS OF NORTHLAKE.

 

 

ED SULLIVAN WITH THE ILLINOIS STATE RIFLE ASSOCIATION OPPOSES THOSE PROVISIONS.

 

 

 THE BILL HAS PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE.

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Ameren Seeking Rate Increase

Ameren Illinois has filed paperwork with the Illinois Commerce Commission seeking a rate adjustment that would increase the average household bill by about $2.75 per month for delivery of electricity. 

 

The filing is the second requested increase in delivery over the past six years. Ameren Illinois spokesperson Marcelyn Love says the increase would allow for continued investments in the electrical grid, reduce outages, and keep rates stable.

 

 

The ICC will conduct an open and transparent eight-month regulatory review of the rate adjustment request. A decision by the ICC is expected in December, with new rates effective in early 2022.

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DeWitt County Board Hears Hour of Testimony From Hired Engineer Regarding Wind Farm Project Start

Lay down work has begun for the Alta Farms II wind project north of Hallsville and Thursday night, the DeWitt County Board heard from Cumings Engineering regarding that work and making sure everything meets the County's code.

 

Terry Fountain with Cumings Engineering told the Board it has been requested they be on site to watch for erosion issues. Fountain points out the DeWitt County Soil and Water Conservation District will be instrumental in recommendations for building permits for the project.

 

 

Fountain, whose company has several experiences working with local governments through the building process of wind farms, eased concerns regarding challenges experienced in other areas, like Macon County where its wind farm has experienced drainage issues according to board member Aaron Kammeyer.

 

 

Fountain also reinforced the company's stance that they work for the County. The County now has an interim zoning administrator approved Thursday night to be DeeDee Rentmeister and Fountain noted he is familiar with the County's zoning codes and will work with Rentmeister throughout the process.

 

 

Concerns were raised regarding the oversite of the work being done by construction crews and Fountain stressed it is not uncommon for him to be at a site during all hours of the day and did not rule out such a pattern for this project.

 

 

The Thursday night Board meeting saw the Board approve Mark Nunnery, Joe Whitte, and Mariah Anderson to the Regional Planning Commission, replacing Dave Steward - the RPC President and Bob Thomas. 

 

The Board also approved the Land Use Committee to make recommendations regarding changes to the County's solar energy ordinances as well as more time for the RPC, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and County Board six month to review the County's solar ordinances and any new applications filed would fall under any changes. 

 

This is similar to an ordinance passed in March for the County's wind ordinances however this ordinance does not require a moratorium on any applications as the County is expecting a solar ordinance application later this year. 

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Miller Park Zoo Excited To Start Bringing Back Popular Attractions

Area zoos are excited for the weather to start allowing for more patrons to return to their sites this year after COVID limited a lot of what they could offer in 2020.

 

Superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Jay Tetzloff indicates they are planning for the return of its carousel, education classes, and concession stand. He believes a lot of these things are going to be reasons more people return.

 

 

Tetzloff is excited for seniors to return for senior walks. These were put on hold last year but this program allows for seniors to walk the zoo before it opens and get to know a little bit more about the animals they have.

 

 

An overall mild spring has led to an increase in the number of people returning to the zoo. Tetzloff also believes people are just ready to be out and about again and the zoo offers a safe place for them to leisure.

 

 

To keep up with the latest in happenings at the Miller Park Zoo, Tetzloff encourages following the zoo on Facebook. 

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Clinton Police Chief Encouraging Residents to Report Vehicle Burglaries

Despite ridiculous mid-week snow and freeze, springtime is here and that means more people out walking, biking and simply enjoying the outdoors.

 

To that end, Clinton law enforcement officials are encouraging residents to keep vehicle doors locked and valuables out of sight or better yet, out of their car. Police Chief Ben Lowers says as more people get out, this is the time of the year the number of vehicle burglaries increase.

 

 

According to Chief Lowers, it is very rare for an individual will pry open car doors or break windows to enter a vehicle. He calls most thefts of motor vehicles crimes of opportunity.

 

 

If you discover your vehicle has been rummaged through but suspect nothing of consequence was taken, the Chief hopes you'll still call authorities to file a report. He recognizes the situation might be embarrassing but it helps his officers track where crimes are happening and better patrol.

 

 

Chief Lowers reminds motorists to be mindful of kids starting to be outside more often and playing. Additionally, motorcycles are already out more frequently, so be watchful for those individuals on the road. He also hopes neighbors will think of each other when gathering outside and limit the noise, especially as night falls. 

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Illinois Landlords Now Eligible for Rental Assistance Funding

Under the latest stimulus package is rental assistance funding for landlords.

 

Alison Rumler-Gomez, Community Action Executive Director, indicates when the moratorium on evictions took effect last year, landlords were impacted by the loss of rental income and were not eligible for funding assistance.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez notes while the landlords will be applying, the eligibility is based on the tenant's income. She indicates the income requirements have changed for this round of funding.

 

 

The first round of funding is projected to be distributed during May. Rumler-Gomez says Community Action is responsible for educating the public about the program and meeting with landlords to determine eligibility. Funds will be distributed by the Illinois Housing Authority.

 

 

Landlords interested should contact Community Action at (217) 732-2159 and ask for Charlie.

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Illinois House Bill Would Help More Community College Students Get Into University of Illinois

MORE COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS WOULD LIKELY BE ABLE TO GET INTO THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS UNDER A BILL PASSED BY THE HOUSE TUESDAY. 

 

THE MEASURE SETS UP A PILOT PROGRAM WHERE COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH AT LEAST A THREE-POINT-OH AVERAGE AND 36 CREDIT HOURS COMPLETED AUTOMATICALLY GET INTO THE U OF I. IT'S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE DEANNE MAZZOCHI OF ELMHURST AND WAS AGREED TO BY THE UNIVERSITY.

 

 

MAZZOCHI SAYS EVENTUALLY, SHE WANTS TO SEE THIS EXPANDED TO INCLUDE HIGH SCHOOLERS IN THE TOP 10 PERCENT OF THEIR CLASS.

 

 

MAZZOCHI SAYS SHE WOULD EVENTUALLY LIKE TO SEE THIS EXPANDED TO INCLUDE ALL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN THE TOP 10 PERCENT OF THEIR CLASS. THE BILL NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE.

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House Votes to Make It Illegal to Release More Than 50 Balloons

THE ILLINOIS HOUSE IS VOTING TO MAKE IT ILLEGAL TO RELEASE MORE THAN 50 BALLOONS INTO THE AIR. 

 

THOSE BUSTED FOR RELEASING A BIG BUNCH OF BALLOONS WOULD GET A WARNING THE FIRST TIME, AND THEN AN UP TO 500 DOLLAR FINE FOR A SECOND OFFENSE. REPRESENTATIVE SAM YING LING OF ROUND LAKE BEACH EXPLAINS WHY THIS IS NEEDED.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE DAVID WELTER OF MORRIS SAYS SO MANY BALLONS LET GO AT ONCE IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND CAN CAUSE OTHER PROBLEMS.

 

 

THE SENATE WILL TAKE UP THE BILL NEXT.

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Bill Reduces Penalties for Lower Level Drug Possession - Hopes to Get More Users into Treatment

LEGISLATION PASSING THE ILLINOIS HOUSE WEDNESDAY REDUCES THE PENALTIES FOR POSSESSING SMALLER AMOUNT OF ILLEGAL DRUGS. 

 

UNDER THE BILL THAT WAS NARROWLY APPROVED, THOSE BUSTED WITH CERTAIN AMOUNTS OF DRUGS LIKE METH, HEROIN AND COCAINE WILL ONLY BE CHARGED WITH A MISDEMEANOR INSTEAD OF A FELONY AND JAIL TIME. IT'S SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE CAROL AMMONS OF URBANA WHO SAYS IT'S TIME TO RIGHT THE WRONGS OF THE FAILED WAR ON DRUGS.

 

 

BUT OPPONENTS, LIKE REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK WINDHORST OF HARRISBURG WORRY THIS MAY HAVE THE OPPOSITE EFFECT.

 

 

OPPONENTS WORRY THIS MAY BACKFIRE, BY NOT MOTIVATING DRUG USERS ENOUGH TO GET HELP.

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Illinois Senate Approves Ag Director

The state’s Director of Agriculture has been approved by the Illinois Senate. Jerry Costello Jr. can now drop the “acting” tag from his title.

 

In a virtual setting, hosting the Illinois Ag Legislative Day, Costello says after a little more than a year on the job he’s proud of what the industry and the IDOA did to overcome challenges presented by the pandemic.

 

 

Department of Ag staffers and members of the FFA packed baskets of Illinois food products that were passed out to lawmakers and staff at the Capitol.

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National Weather Service Says It's Very Unusual To See Late-April Snow

The all-day snowfall of Tuesday, April 20 is certainly out of the ordinary.

 

Chris Miller at the National Weather Service on the WHOW Morning Show points out while this isn't the latest accumulating snow we've seen, it is very out of the ordinary to see it this late. He also notes, if this weather system had moved through in January or February, it would have resulted in massive snow.

 

 

Now the question becomes - will this finally transition us to more consistent weather the rest of the spring? Miller says it is unlikely we'll see any more snow and maybe even freezes. But temperatures and moisture are going to continue to be up-and-down.

 

 

If you're worried about some of those garden plants in the ground, flower beds, or crops in the fields, Miller indicates the overnight colds and frosts will not impact soil temperatures that greatly. He indicates it may delay growth but seeds in the ground should be just fine. He encourages continuing to keep those covered as much as possible.

 

 

Miller says the daytime temperatures of Tuesday were the coldest of the month but was surprised to see they did not impact the average temperature for April that greatly.

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Sen. Durbin Weighs In On Border Crisis - Calls It 'Heartbreaking'

As thousands of unoccupied children arrive at the southern border, Illinois' Senior Senator says the problem is "serious" and "heartbreaking." According to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, children are arriving at the border three times as many as in the past.

 

 

CNN reports, U.S. Border Patrol detained 9,300 children in February, up almost 4,000 from January. Senator Durbin said one way to fix the problem is to have the U.S. work with surrounding countries to encourage their citizens to stop crossing the border illegally.

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Illinois Senate Committee Passes Legislation Ensuring Recess for School Kids

PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS WOULD GET MORE PLAYTIME UNDER A BILL ADVANCING IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE.

 

A SENATE COMMITTEE PASSED THE “RIGHT TO PLAY” ACT, REQUIRING SCHOOLS TO GIVE KINDERGARTNERS THROUGH EIGHTH GRADERS 60 MINUTES OF UNSTRUCTURED PLAYTIME EACH DAY. IT’S SPONSORED BY SENATOR ROBERT PETERS OF CHICAGO.

 

 

SUPPORTERS LIKE ILLINOIS FAMILIES FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS PRESIDENT CASSIE CRESWELL SAY THE LIFE LESSONS LEARNED ON THE PLAYGROUND ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS THOSE TAUGHT IN THE CLASSROOM.

 

 

PETERS SAYS THE 60 MINUTES CAN BE BROKEN UP THROUGHOUT THE DAY, SUCH AS IN 15 MINUTE INCREMENTS. SUPPORTERS SAYS THIS IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT’S TAUGHT IN THE CLASSROOM.

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Piatt County Mental Health Center Director Gives 'Thumb's Up' to Springfield Legislation

Illinois mental health agencies could be receiving more funding soon under a bill being proposed in Springfield.

 

The measure has caught the attention and received the approval of Tony Kirkman who is the Piatt County Mental Health Center Executive Director. On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Kirkman indicates the proposal to increase funding is among several pieces of legislation he has his eye on.

 

 

According to Kirkman, any visit for someone to the agency's psychiatrist is costing him money. He says with the immense need for mental health services, this bill is very much needed at this time.

 

 

Kirkman grows frustrated watching the data come in for legal marijuana in Illinois but the money from those tax dollars not being distributed to where they were promised to go.

 

 

Lawmakers are asking for the proverbial second chance to distribute those marijuana tax dollars but because of empty promises and a multitude of second chances granted over the years, Kirkman has his doubts expanding on the number of licenses for legal marijuana dispensaries will do little to change the situation.

 

 

Because social services in Illinois are so underfunded, they struggle to retain professionals. Kirkman says many psychiatrists start with them, get experience and move on to private practice or other positions with better pay and less responsibility.

 

 

Kirkman is encouraged by a bill in the Senate that will work to train individuals to go into mental health and then retain those workers. He points out this worked very well in Nebraska and helped increase the number of workers in the workforce in that field. He says this will have a trickle-down effect on so many aspects of our communities. 

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Mahomet-Seymour Schools Superintendent Frustrated by Standardized Testing Mandate

Despite so much lost classroom time in the last year, the State of Illinois is mandating schools still administer yearly standardized tests.

 

That is leaving Mahomet-Seymour Schools Superintendent Dr. Lindsey Hall frustrated. She says while it is nice to have the flexibility of giving the assessments in the spring or summer, she and her peers wonder why they are being required to give the assessments this year.

 

 

Dr. Hall believes there is not a valid reason to be giving assessments this year. She points to the fact schools are in a bind where they have to utilize the time they have more efficiently than in perhaps any other year before and does not believe giving these assessments is a good use of that time.

 

 

Many school leaders are raising questions about the data that could potentially come from the yearly assessments. Dr. Hall points to assessments given by her teachers that help them in a lot of aspects of the educational process and are given frequently.

 

 

Other administrators have pointed as well to the fact data from the assessments comes in so slowly, by the time they receive it, oftentimes students have moved to the next grade level or another school. 

 

Dr. Hall indicates the district is administering those tests this week and looks forward to when they get their students back in the fall, focusing on resuming learning and continuing to work on getting kids caught back up.

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Weekly Crop Report

CORN PLANTING PROGRESS CONTINUES A LITTLE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT. 

 

IT WAS A COOL, DRY WEEK, WITH NEARLY FIVE DAYS SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER).

 

 

FIVE PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT ACRES HAVE HEADED WITH 69 PERCENT OF THE CROP RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. 

 

 

AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE IS RATED AS ONE PERCENT VERY SHORT, EIGHT PERCENT SHORT, 82 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND NINE PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Illinois House Passes Bill Creating Domestic Violence Task Force

HOUSE LAWMAKERS ARE VOTING TO CREATE A NEW DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TASK FORCE. 

 

THE TASK FORCE WOULD WORK TO BUILD A STATEWIDE SYSTEM TO BETTER PROTECT VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. IT'S NAMED AFTER 18-MONTH-OLD COLTON MILLER WHO WAS SHOT AND KILLED BY HIS OWN FATHER IN 2019 SAYS REPRESENTATIVE DAVID WELTER OF MORRIS. WELTER SAYS HE TALKED EXTENSIVELY WITH COLTON'S MOM ABOUT HOW THE CURRENT SYSTEM FAILED THEIR FAMILY.

 

 

LEGISLATION SETTING UP THE TASK FORCE WAS PASSED UNANIMOUSLY BY THE HOUSE AND NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE FOR APPROVAL.

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First Lady Visits Illinois Community College

The First Lady was in Northern Illinois on Monday taking an interest in the state’s Community College system. Jill Biden, a junior college professor, toured Sauk Valley Community College where she touted the college’s program to allow students to work at the school to pay for tuition and fees. Biden says programs like that one will allow for students to be ready to serve their local communities.

 

 

Biden arrived in the Quad Cities and was joined by the US Secretary of Education, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and Governor JB Pritzker.

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IHSA Expecting Normal 2021-22 Schedule

The IHSA planning a normal schedule next school year with a return to the football playoffs in the fall.

 

 

The IHSA’s Craig Anderson says contact days will be reduced from 25 to 20 this summer because this year’s modified IHSA calendar is extended through June 19.

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Vandalism Discovered at Kiwanis Park Causes Online Stir Monday

Vandalism discovered over the weekend at Kiwanis Park in Clinton led to a stir that city authorities hope will rally the community to help continue work started last year.

 

It was the late summer Kiwanis Park was under consideration of demolition before online activism led to the reversal of a decision to bring the park down. Over the weekend, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates vandalism that had been at the park for some time was discovered.

 

 

Local social media users posted and discussed the issue and while Chief Lowers understands the feelings and outrage of many, he hopes the community will not only see this as an opportunity to rally around a spot that has seen a lot of progress made in a short amount of time but also as a teachable moment for many.

 

 

Names were written in park equipment with profanity spray painted as well. Chief Lowers hopes the actions of just a few will not ruin something for the whole community. 

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Clinton City Council Hears Positive Reports for Hospital, Community Budgets

Trying to budget coming out of a pandemic has been a challenge but City of Clinton leaders and Warner Hospital leaders Monday night indicate things are looking much better than perhaps anticipated.

 

At the Monday night Clinton City Council meeting, City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter told the Council things could have been much worse, however, they are looking at a very positive budget report for this upcoming fiscal year.

 

 

Lichtenwalter believes Clinton is in a very fortunate position considering the past year could have easily devastated the community's budgeting through lost sales taxes. He says other communities are not coming out the other end of COVID in as good of position.

 

 

CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services Paul Skowron called his budget a 'reopening budget'. He adds they are budgeting very conservatively that sees them coming out nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars ahead.

 

 

The Council approved the budgets Monday night.

 

Additionally, the Council approved its annual contribution to the Clinton fireworks display for the Fourth of July, the $100,000 summer maintenance schedule, a water rate increase, and the termination of a TIF district on the community's west side. 

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Clinton High School Will Not Have Prom; Graduation Plans In The Works

For the second year in a row, Clinton High School will not have a prom.

 

Clinton High School Principal Jerry Wayne told Regional Radio News Friday morning on the WHOW morning show, the decision to not hold prom was difficult and while he understands there are parents arranging something for the kids away from school, it boiled down to he did not feel like they could make prom a success under the mitigations in place.

 

 

According to Wayne, prom is the only spring event that is on the chopping block at this time. He explains they are moving forward with their annual 'Gold Star Banquet' in early May. He points out, the usual size of the event is going to be significantly reduced.

 

 

Wayne is hard at work to try to make graduation a reality right now. Like the 'Gold Star Banquet', he points out they simply will not be able to have the usual crowd they welcome into the high school gym.

 

 

It can be difficult to plan for any contingencies in the event graduation plans have to be altered due to COVID impacts but Wayne says he is always trying to come up with alternate ideas because graduation is such an important event to so many. 

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DeWitt County Museum Targeting May 1 for Reopening

The CH Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum is targeting Saturday, May 1 for its reopening post-COVID and its Director is very excited about some new features they are introducing for reopening.

 

Joey Long told Regional Radio News Friday morning on the WHOW Morning Show the Homestead normally opens April 1 but of course, has spent the past year shut down due to COVID. She is excited to announce they are tentatively targeting May 1 to reopen.

 

 

Long outlines the protocols in place for visitors to the museum starting with there not being large group tours and combining tours will not happen either. As expected, cleaning and sanitizing will be taking place between visits.

 

 

Long is also excited about some technology initiatives they are introducing at the museum. She explains tech-savvy visitors can scan a QR code at an exhibit and hear a recording of her talking about its significance and enhance the visit.

 

 

Long believes the idea of having QR codes to enhance the visiting experience will carry on well after COVID. She also indicates they have made some improvements for better air filtration and will ask patrons to do the basics like wear masks and distance, as will their staff and volunteers. 

 

Long notes the Homestead website continues to be down for its renovation but points anyone interested in more details to find them on Facebook. 

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Gov. Pritzker Announces $1.6-Billion in Federal Funding to Improve Access to Early Childhood Childcare

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING ONE POINT SIX BILLION DOLLARS IN FEDERAL AID TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO HIGH-QUALITY EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE. 

 

THE MONEY WILL HELP FUND INITIATIVES TO GET MORE KIDS READY FOR KINDERGARTEN, CREATING A NEW DIVISION OF EARLY CHILDHOOD AT THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES TO COORDINATE EFFORTS. 140 MILLION WILL GO TO CHILDCARE PROVIDERS OVER THE NEXT THREE WEEKS SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

A NEW DIVISION OF EARLY CHILDHOOD IS BEING CREATED WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND A NETWORK OF COUNCILS WILL BE SET UP ACROSS THE STATE TO ENSURE COMMUNITIES HAVE THE SERVICES THEY NEED SAYS STATE SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT CARMEN AYALA.

 

 

140 MILLION DOLLARS OF THE FUNDING WILL GO DIRECTLY TO CHILDCARE PROVIDERS TO HELP PAY FOR THINGS LIKE STAFF, TRAINING, RENT AND SUPPLIES.

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BBB Scam Tracker Stays Busy

There is a tool on the Better Business Bureau website that can help you keep track of what scams are hot in your area. The Scam Tracker was launched several years ago, giving consumers a tool to track the various scams that are going on, where they are being practiced, and how much money is being lost. BBB Investigator Don O’Brien says you can easily find out what’s happening just by going online.

 

 

He says the map shows all of North America, so you can see what's happening in your neighborhood, or as far away as Canada or Mexico. You can find the Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker

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Governor Pritzker Talks Increase in COVID Cases

As COVID cases continue to be higher today than they were a month ago the Governor says it’s not time yet to return greater mitigations. JB Pritzker says right now daily infections might be coming off recent highs.

 

 

The state department of public health recently released guidance to allow for high school athletes to compete in outdoor low risk sports without a mask.

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Weekly Weather Summary

Things cooled down this week after a wet weekend. State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us about the weekend and the week ahead....

 

 

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Illinois House Approves Measure to End Puppy Mills

HOUSE LAWMAKERS ARE VOTING FOR LEGISLATION THAT AIMS TO BRING AN END TO PUPPY MILLS. 

 

THE MEASURE PROHIBITS PET STORES FROM SELLING DOGS AND CATS OBTAINED FROM A BREEDER. THEY CAN ONLY SELL PETS THEY GET FROM ANIMAL CONTROL OR A SHELTER SAYS BILL SPONSOR, REPRESENTATIVE ANDREW CHESNEY OF FREEPORT.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE JOYCE MASON OF GURNEE IS A SUPPORTER.

 

 

THE LEGISLATION STILL LETS PEOPLE BUY DOGS AND CATS FROM PRIVATE BREEDERS. IT NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE FOR CONSIDERATION.

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April is 'Safe Digging Month'

As people start digging for various reasons this spring, Nicor Gas wants them to remember to call 811 first. JULIE, the Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators service, will send people out to mark where the underground wires and pipes are. Nicor Gas spokesman Bernie Anderson says just call three business days in advance. It's free.

 

 

The consequence of hitting a line when you didn’t call JULIE could be paying for damages. It could also be losing your life.

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Illinois Minor League Baseball Team Looking for Someone to Fill Mascot

When the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp baseball team starts playing, it will need someone to dress up as its mascot Southclaw Sam. Team General Manager June Keeley told us what kind of person can do it.

 

 

Those applying should shoot videos up to 30 seconds long of themselves dancing and acting like a sports mascot would. You don’t have to have a costume. 

 

If you're chosen as a finalist, you'll get to wear the costume in an audition and be judged by a voting public. The votes will help decide who gets the job. 

 

The videos must be submitted to SouthClaw@PistolShrimpBaseball.com by Sunday, April 18th.

The team’s baseball season starts May 27th and goes until at least August 4th.

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Southern Illinois Food Truck Wins 'Pulled Pork Madness'

A southern Illinois business winner of this year’s Illinois Pulled Pork Madness. The on-line contest is a promotion of the Illinois Pork Producers Association. The title of best pulled pork in 2021 goes to “The Smokin’ Pig” food truck in Olney. The owners are Drew and Taryn Bunting, who started the operation in 2015.

 

 

Their signature sandwich is called the “Pork Everest”, which contains two pork chops, two helpings of pulled pork, macaroni and cheese and topped with pickles, onions, jalapenos and barbeque sauce all layered on three buns.

 

The Smokin’ Pig receives a trophy and $250 for winning the contest.

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Ameren Warning About Mylar Balloons

Balloons are a common part of outdoor summer parties, but Ameren is warning residents if those mylar balloons get away, they can be a major risk to the electrical system. Mylar balloons are metallic and conduct electricity, which can result in surges, shorts, and damage to the power grid. Kevin Young with Ameren Illinois says these balloons can cause significant power outages.

 

 

If you notice a balloon or another toy entangled in electric infrastructure, do not attempt to remove the object yourself. Call Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 so they can dispatch a crew to handle the problem.

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ISU Farm Hosting Cover Crop Day

A central Illinois farm will be hosting a field day to learn more about cover crops.

 

The Illinois State University Farm in Lexington will show off several cover crops growing at the farm. Dr. Nicholas Heller is an Assistant Professor of Crop Sciences at ISU.

 

 

Along with the tour, some other areas of discussion will include the successes and struggles of implementing cover crops, increasing farm profits, and carbon credits.

 

ISU's cover crop field day will be this Friday from 4-6.

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IHSA Updates Mask Mandate

The IHSA providing a mask update this week. Those student-athletes in low-risk outdoor sports—such as baseball, softball, and track and field will not be required to wear masks during competition says IHSA executive director Craig Anderson.

 

 

All student-athletes in those low risk sports must still wear masks when sitting or the bench or not competing. Officials must also continue to wear masks unless they are socially distanced.

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Cool, Dry Weather to Finish Out April

After heavy rains in parts of Illinois last weekend, some dryer weather and cooler temps on the way for the remainder of April says Freese-Notis Weather meteorologist Dan Hicks.

 

 

Some areas of northern Illinois are seeing frost during the overnight or early morning hours this week.

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Clinton Police Chief Discusses Spring

Many find it surprising but the spring is actually one of the busiest times of the year for law enforcement.

 

As the weather turns and more and more people are spending time outside, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates the increased mobility of people outside brings an increase in calls to law enforcement.

 

 

According to the Chief, motorcyclists are dusting off the bikes and getting them out again. Kids are taking their bikes out for a ride more frequently and people are just out more walking. He calls on everyone to be extra aware of their surroundings no matter where they're at.

 

 

Being respectful to your neighbors has long been a focus for the Chief and as we enter the season with outdoor gatherings, he encourages trying to limit the noise as much as possible. He says this is a common complaint. Additionally, Chief Lowers reminds residents there is not burning within city limits.

 

 

If you're still digging out from those tree branches and limbs that have fallen from winter storms and windy spring days, the Chief points residents to the yard waste facility on Cain Street in Clinton or to utilize the once-a-month yard waste pick up by the City. That will resume on normal regulations this month. 

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Sen. Rose Helps Advance Legislation to Create Mahomet Aquifer Council

Thanks to a central Illinois lawmaker, the future of one of the state’s most important sources of water could soon have a new organization tasked with guiding and protecting its future. 

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose recently advanced legislation to create a permanent Mahomet Aquifer Council. On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Sen. Rose told Regional Radio News Senate Bill 2515 would create the new Mahomet Aquifer Council. The panel would contain members and representatives from a broad range of governmental organizations and stakeholders.

 

 

According to Sen. Rose, a few years ago he was able to coordinate the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force (MAPTF), which did some amazing work that leads to several important pieces of legislation to protect local drinking water.  He explains the Mahomet Aquifer Council will use the MAPTF’s work as a jumping-off point to begin planning for the future protection of Illinois’ only sole source aquifer.

 

 

The Mahomet Republican discussed his vision for ground-penetrating radar over the entirety of the aquifer and get a good idea of the geological structures. He believes this would benefit so many sectors of the economy.

 

 

Sen. Rose’s legislation passed the Senate’s State Government Committee on April 14th and now awaits approval by the full Senate.

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State Farm Agent Nate Ennis Hosts Open House, Ribbon Cutting Thursday Morning

State Farm Agent Nate Ennis hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning in conjunction with the Clinton Chamber of Commerce.

 

Ennis has been in Clinton for a few years now. Many Clintonians may remember his office is the former office for late-agent Larry Welton who transformed the building into his office from a former diner.

 

 

According to Ennis, the building has undergone a minor facelift with some paint and new flooring. He explains a lot of it was outdated and they decided to give it a fresh look.

 

 

Ennis points out this is the time of year they find farmers taking a look at their policies but he also encourages policyholders to review home insurance policies and make sure it is accounting for cost increases in the event something happens to your home.

 

 

Ennis is working to keep in touch with his customers to make sure policies match where they are at in their life journey. He hopes for an annual review but sometimes more frequent reviews couldn't hurt either. 

 

Find Ennis at 315 West Johnson Street in Clinton or contact him at 217-935-6669. 

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Illinois Students Would Learn More About Asian American History Under Bill Passed by House

STUDENTS WOULD LEARN MORE ABOUT ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORY UNDER LEGISLATION PASSED BY THE ILLINOIS HOUSE WEDNESDAY.

 

IT'S CALLED THE TEACH ACT, REQUIRING MORE LESSONS ON THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF ASIAN AMERICANS AND THE INCARCERATION OF JAPANESE AMERICANS DURING WORLD WAR TWO. BILL SPONSOR, REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER GONG-GERSHOWITZ OF GLENVIEW SAYS THIS IS NEEDED MORE THAN EVER.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE THERESA MAH OF CHICAGO IS A STRONG SUPPORTER.

 

 

THE MEASURE APPLIES TO ELEMENTARY THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AND IF SIGNED INTO LAW, WOULD TAKE EFFECT BEGINNING IN THE 2022-2023 SCHOOL YEAR..

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Tri-Valley Schools Battling Slight Uptick in COVID Figures

The resurgence of COVID is being watched closely by a rural McLean County school district. 

 

Tri-Valley Schools Superintendent Dr. David Mouser on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday indicated to Regional Radio News they are watching closely a slight uptick in COVID metrics in their district. He believes this resurgence, in line with the state metrics, might be traced back to spring break.

 

 

While COVID numbers among students are increasing, Dr. Mouser is not concerned about having to take measures to send kids back to remote learning. He attributes a few things to this, but the main being that numbers are not nearly as high as they were just a few months ago.

 

 

Dr. Mouser indicates one of the other things the district has going for it that should allow school to remain in person is the fact teachers are now vaccinated and according to State guidance, they do not have to quarantine when a positive case pops up in their classrooms.

 

 

If you have students in school, you can relate to the frustration of having to have your kids in quarantine or learn from home for stretches at a time. Dr. Mouser implores parents to have patience with their schools because many times, directions are coming from local health departments and those directives are coming from the State of Illinois.

 

 

Dr. Mouser mentioned events coming up they want to remain in person for. Those include a socially distanced prom and then the inaugural performance in their recently renovated auditorium as just a few of the events on the calendar students are looking forward to.

 

Dr. Mouser and his peers across the area are also beginning their work on preparations for graduation later this spring. 

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Illinois House Approves Bill to Modernize FOID Card System

NEW LEGISLATION WOULD MODERNIZE THE STATE'S FOID AND CONCEALED CARRY SYSTEMS.

 

THE BILL IS AN INITIATIVE OF THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE AND MAKES SOME MUCH-NEEDED UPDATES SAYS DIRECTOR BRENDAN KELLY. FOR STARTERS, HE SAYS THEY WANT TO SYNC UP THE FOID AND CONCEALED CARRY PERMITS INTO ONE CARD AND ALLOW THEM TO BE RENEWED AT THE SAME TIME. ADDITIONALLY,

 

 

THE DEPARTMENT REQUESTED THE MEASURE, INCLUDING THESE CHANGES.

 

 

THE MEASURE ALSO CREATES AN ONLINE PORTAL OF PEOPLE PROHIBITED FROM OWNING A GUN FOR USE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES.

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Illinois Corn Growers Association Director Discusses Start of Corn Planting Season

Farmers started planting corn and soybeans last week with the warm weather.

 

Illinois Corn Growers Association executive director Rodney Weinzierl (WINE-zerl) says some farmers were busy, especially south of I-70.

 

 

According to this week's USDA crop report, five percent of Illinois corn acres have now been planted, which is ahead of last year and the five-year average.

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House Votes to Decriminalize HIV

THE ILLINOIS HOUSE IS VOTING TO DECRIMINALIZE H-I-V.

 

CURRENTLY, IT'S A CRIME TO KNOWINGLY TRANSMIT H-I-V OR NOT DISCLOSE H-I-V STATUS BEFORE ENGAGING WITH A SEXUAL PARTNER. BUT REPRESENTATIVE CAROL AMMONS OF URBANA SAYS THE LAW REFLECTS PAST THINKING ABOUT THE VIRUS AND NEEDS TO BE CHANGED.

 

 

SHE'S SPONSORING LEGISLATION CHANGING THAT.

 

 

THE BILL PASSED ON A 90 TO NINE VOTE AND STILL NEEDS SENATE APPROVAL.

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Celebrate Clinton Association Announces Return of 4th of July Fireworks Display

Fireworks are returning to Clinton for the Fourth of July - legally organized fireworks that is.

 

The Celebrate Clinton Association recently announced its efforts to raise money for the annual display - paused last year due to COVID - are resuming this year. Edith Brady-Lunny on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday told Regional Radio News, as usual, there will be the tin cans scattered around area businesses to collect spare change and loose dollar bills. 

 

 

The Celebrate Clinton Association has become known for its Fourth of July celebrations on the downtown square in recent years but Brady-Lunny points out they hope to return to those types of events post-COVID. She stresses the importance of fundraising if the community likes those events.

 

 

If you're interested in contributing to the fireworks display for this year, Brady-Lunny encourages you to contact the Celebrating Clinton Association through its Facebook page or you can mail donations to PO Box 436 in Clinton. And again, the tin cans for change collections will be out at various locations throughout the community this spring and summer. 

 

Again, the fireworks display is set for Monday night, July 5. 

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Touts Success of Sunday, Monday Vaccine Clinic

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department in conjunction with the Illinois National Guard hosted a Sunday vaccine clinic in Farmer City then another Monday in Clinton.

 

Health Department Director David Remmert says those two clinics were a huge success. He says over 500 people locally were vaccinated and believes before the Tuesday announcement to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that was the appeal of the clinics.

 

 

Illinois is following guidance from the CDC and FDA to pause using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and Remmert believes that is a good decision. He points out while the impacts of the vaccine are very minimally felt, he hopes a resolution is reached soon.

 

 

Leading up to the vaccine clinics in DeWitt County, the State of Illinois had targeted DeWitt County for its low vaccine totals among the most vulnerable populations, specifically seniors. Remmert outlines the data for inoculated individuals in his two-county area and also why seniors may not be getting vaccinated at rates in line with the rest of the state.

 

 

As the daily case counts of COVID increase in Illinois, Remmert points out it is not happening that way in every part of the State. He also emphasizes deaths are beginning to decline and attributes that to the total number of vaccinated people and it preventing the worst outcomes. 

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Electric Aggregation Rates Remain Steady in Most Recent Bid Cycle

The third round of electric aggregation bids has come and gone and the City of Clinton, along with several other communities in the area, will see steady electric rates in this round of bidding.

 

Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell indicates the latest cycle keeps the City with the same provider and rates that are in line with rates of prior bid cycles. He points out, the City is able to secure such a low rate for energy because of the size of the group they are bidding with. 

 

 

To get a better bid on energy rates during the winter months, Followell explains this bid cycle is significantly shorter as they seek to lock in a better rate towards the first of the year. He implores consumers to keep an eye on Ameren rates and do a comparison when those are released later this summer.

 

 

The idea for electric aggregation is to give consumers the option of the best possible price for energy and Followell explains, there is a lot of flexibility on the consumer side as well when opting in or out of the program. He warns though, you need to watch out for other companies looking to capitalize on this process.

 

 

Residents may have already received a notice of the process already, if you have not, be on the lookout for that in the near future. The notice will have the rate locked in for the upcoming months and also information about getting out of the program if you choose. 

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Monticello Dialing In On Parks Development

The City of Monticello is making parks a priority.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Community Development Director Callie McFarland indicates a group is focusing on improving an area of the community that recognizes veterans. She is excited to see ideas that come out of that.

 

 

Paying for a better park space would likely combine raised dollars and tax dollars. McFarland believes there are lots of possibilities on the fundraising side of the equation.

 

 

Keeping the process moving is key for McFarland. She believes planning will be key and continuing movement forward will keep the idea from being just that.

 

 

The City also recently charged a group of community members with beginning planning for 30-acres of green space that has long been dreamt about in the City but now needs fresh ideas. We'll hear more from McFarland later this week on that process on Regional Radio News. 

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Trucking Industry Needs More Drivers

The trucking industry needs more drivers. Don Schaefer is with the Springfield, IL-based Mid-West Truckers Association.

 

 

The association includes 3,700 members across 15 states, including grain and livestock haulers.

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New Legislation Allows Student-Athletes to Make Modifications to Uniforms for Religious Reasons

NEW LEGISLATION LETS STUDENT-ATHLETES MAKE CHANGES TO THEIR UNIFORMS FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS. 

 

SENATOR LAURA MURPHY OF DES PLAINES SAYS STUDENTS SHOULD BE ABLE TO EASILY MAKE MODESTY ALTERATIONS WHEN THEY COMPETE. THAT MAY INCLUDE ADDING A HIJAB, UNDERSHIRT OR LEGGINGS TO BE MORE IN LINE WITH THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.

 

 

MURPHY SPONSORED THE BILL.

 

 

A SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVED THE MEASURE AND IT NOW GOES TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR A VOTE.

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Illinois Pauses Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Illinois public health officials are following the lead of federal authorities by suspending use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19 while a potentially deadly side-effect is investigated.

 

The state Public Health Department reported Monday it has notified providers throughout the state to temporarily stop use of the vaccine upon the recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

 

U.S. officials reported six cases of a severe blood clot in people who have received th

e J&J vaccine. One death has been reported.

 

The state has a relatively small number of Johnson & Johnson doses on hand and fewer expected in next week’s delivery. Chicago, with its separate delivery system, postponed until at least next week 13,000 shots of the one-dose J&J vaccine scheduled for this week. At Chicago State University’s vaccination site, shots of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine would be substituted for planned J&J doses, officials said.

 

 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who suffered no side effects after receiving the J&J vaccine March 24 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mass vaccination site, said in a tweet Tuesday that the state would send 50,000 doses of vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna to Chicago to help supply during the next week. He promised another 50,000 in several weeks when it’s time for recipients to get the second of those two-shot vaccines.

 

More than 47,000 Chicago residents have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

 

The pause comes at a critical time in the nation’s campaign against coronavirus illness. Several states, particularly in the upper Midwest, have experienced yet another surge in the number of confirmed and probable cases of the potentially deadly, flu-like illness.

 

Illinois has also experienced another uptick. Tuesday’s number of newly reported infections was 3,193, with 17 additional deaths. Overall, COVID-19 has claimed 21,540 lives in Illinois among 1.29 million cases. But in the past week, an average 133,000 doses of vaccine have been administered daily for a total of 7.34 million shots. That number doesn’t represent fully vaccinated residents.

 

The state health department said J&J vaccine recipients who suffer headache, abdominal or leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the shot should contact a health care provider.

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Department of Corrections Resuming In-Person Visits

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS IS RESUMING IN-PERSON VISITS AT STATE FACILITIES.

 

THE EAST MOLINE CORRECTIONAL CENTER IS OPEN FOR FAMILIES TO VISIT THEIR INCARCERATED LOVED ONES NOW, AND THE OTHER LOCATIONS WILL SOON FOLLOW. AGENCY SPOKESPERSON LINDSEY HESS SAYS VISITS HAD BEEN SUSPENDED SINCE LAST MARCH.

 

 

HESS SAYS VISITORS WILL HAVE TO SIGN UP ONLINE AHEAD OF TIME.

 

 

MORE DETAILS ARE AVAILABLE AT: ILLINOIS DOT GOV SLASH IDOC. CLICK ON FACILITIESAND THEN VISITATION RULES AND INFORMATION.

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Congressman Davis Focused on Congress, Not Running for Governor

A few Republicans have announced that they are running for Governor in 2022. Are there more?

 

US Representative Rodney Davis says right now he’s focused on running for Congress.

 

 

Davis could see his Congressional district combined with another in the upcoming redistricting process. Illinois is expected to lose at least one seat in Congress.

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Ameren Illinois Concerned About CEJA

A bill in the Illinois House and a companion bill in the Senate is raising concerns with the state’s largest downstate power provider. The Clean Energy Jobs Act, or CEJA aims to move Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050. An Ameren Illinois spokesman says as it is written, its customers will pay more than $20 Billion over the next 30 years. Tucker Kennedy says the proposed strategy may work for the northern half of the state, but the transition could cost downstate communities significantly.

 

 

CEJA would also phase out fossil fuel powered energy plants by the end of the decade. He says there isn't enough renewable energy infrastructure right now in downstate Illinois to make up for them, meaning more energy will need to be imported, causing costs to skyrocket.

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DNR Promoting Boating Safety

The boating season is nearly upon us and after a spike in interest last year, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is promoting safety. 

 

Rachel Torbert notes the spike in interest last year very well may continue into the 2021 boating season and to that end, there are lots of safety measures to keep in mind.

 

 

Sober operation of those watercraft is of the utmost importance for law enforcement officials. Torbert stresses having a designated operator if there is going to be alcohol on a watercraft.

 

 

The new license year for licenses began on April 1. Torbert encourages boaters and fishermen to get those updated before they head out for the first time. She reminds the public there is a new website for those renewals and purchases. 

 

 

Torbert notes if you have a fishing license, you can snap a photo of that and have it available on your mobile device if asked for it by a DNR official. 

 

Visit dnr.illinois.gov for all the latest in outdoors information. 

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Congressman Davis Discusses CFAP Payments, Farm Bill

Congressman Rodney Davis has been active in the formulation of agriculture policy in Washington, D.C. since he started in the nation's capital, and those efforts continue with a new administration in power.

 

Congressman Davis is touting the recent CFAP payments to farmers that are going out soon. He credits Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack for his work in continuing this program and the Taylorville Republican is looking forward to working more on ag issues with him.

 

 

Congressman Davis says the current farm bill has been a success and built on a very good version of the farm bill of 2014. He is proud of the ARC and TLC provisions of the farm bill and input from local farmers on those.

 

 

New House committee assignments recently came out and Davis remains in many of the same roles he has served in the past. He remains excited to be on those committees because of the bipartisan work done with his peers.

 

 

The Taylorville Republican also serves on the highway and transportation sub-committee. Davis indicates they will be getting to work soon on the next farm bill, up next year. 

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Weekly Crop Report

CORN PLANTING HAS BEGUN IN ILLINOIS.

 

NEARLY FOUR DAYS WERE SUITABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK, GIVING PRODUCERS TIME TO START PLANTING SAYS CROP STATISITICAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.

 

 

THREE PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED AND 73 PERCENT OF THE CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. 

 

 

PASTURE CONDITIONS IMPROVED QUITE A BIT, TO 70 PERCENT IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION. 

 

RAIN WAS MORE THAN AN INCH ABOVE NORMAL, BOOSTING AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE TO SIX PERCENT SHORT, 73 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 21 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Rep. Bourne Wants Independent Mapping Process

Later this year the state’s legislative map will be redrawn, and Republicans continue to call for an independent map process to draw it. The Illinois House has held 20 hearings on redistricting, but Republican Rep. Avery Bourne says a commission of non-partisan members needs to be established to keep young voters engaged.

 

 

Illinois has one of the earliest deadlines for redistricting in the nation and for now the process is moving forward using census data from 2010 and updated data from the American Community Survey.

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Hartsburg-Emden Schools Celebrating Passage of One-Cent Sales Tax Amendment

Logan County voters overwhelmingly supported a measure to expand a tax already in place to address school security and student mental and emotional wellness.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Superintendent of Hartsburg-Emden schools Terry Wisniewski expressed his appreciation to voters of Logan County for supporting the referendum in an overwhelming fashion.

 

 

According to Wisniewski, the expansion of the tax already in place will allow for the district to afford a part-time school resource officer through the Logan County Sheriff's office. He hopes perhaps to expand the scope of their mental and emotional health professional already in place and to get to work with the Logan County Sheriff's Office about a school resource officer.

 

 

Wisniewski hopes details for a school resource officer through the Sheriff's office can be hashed out and that person can be in the district starting next school year. 

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Discusses Recent Spike in Cases

As cases of COVID escalate statewide in recent weeks, a local public health professional is outlining what we're seeing locally.

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert indicates while case totals continue to climb, the death toll is dropping. He attributes that to the fact more people are vaccinated and the vaccine is going to keep the worst outcomes from happening.

 

 

Remmert indicates his office is continuing to promote getting vaccinated. He believes all the vaccines available are well-studied and safe and also help in the fight against the variants that are beginning to pop up in Illinois. 

 

 

Yesterday, a vaccine clinic was hosted in Farmer City and today a clinic is being held in DeWitt County. Get more information by visiting dewittpiatthealth.com. 

 

Sunday, the Health Department released the following local data:

 

04/05/2021 Monday

 

DeWitt: 1 new case in Farmer City.

Piatt: No cases reported.

 

4/06/2021 Tuesday

 

DeWitt: 1 new case in Clinton. 1 new case in Wapella. 1 new case in Farmer City.

Piatt: 1 new case in Monticello.

 

04/07/2021 Wednesday

 

DeWitt: 4 new cases in Wapella. 2 new cases in Farmer City. 3 new case in Clinton.

Piatt: 2 new case in Mansfield. 1 new case in Cerro Gordo.

 

4/08/2021 Thursday

 

DeWitt: 6 new cases in Clinton.

Piatt: 2 new cases in Mansfield.

 

With these additional cases, DeWitt Co has had a total of 1403 cases; Piatt Co has had a total of 1456 cases. Over the past week, DeWitt Co has had 24 cases, Piatt Co has had 9 cases. There have now been a total of 23 deaths in DeWitt Co and 14 deaths in Piatt Co due to COVID-19. 

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Community Action Pushes Cheeseburger in Paradise to June

As COVID cases rise in Illinois and Governor JB Pritzker's "bridge phase" remains a distant goal, a central Illinois non-profit is adjusting its annual fundraiser as they await approval to move forward.

 

Alison Rumler-Gomez is the executive director of Community Action and indicates Cheeseburger in Paradise - the organization's biggest fundraiser of the year - moving to June 5 for now.

 

 

 

According to Rumler-Gomez, organizers have thought about moving it outside but the threat of weather shutting down the event remains too risky.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez also points out they are creating a drive-thru option for people to swing through and pick up food and enjoy the entertainment from their vehicles while they wait. She hopes that option will be something popular to add to the event.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez indicates all their tables for the in-person portion of the event have sold out but you can get drive-thru and silent auction tickets at capcil.info. 

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U of I Extension Hosting Free 'Eat Fresh Eat Local' Webinar Series

Looking for ways to include more locally grown produce into your day-to-day? Then you won't want to miss an upcoming webinar series from the U of I Extension.

 

Caitlin Mellendorf, U of I Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator for DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties, indicates the first installment of the "Eat Fresh Eat Local" webinar will be April 22 and will highlight community-supported agriculture.

 

 

Mellendorf notes other topics that will be discussed in the monthly series include farmer's markets, preservation, and tips on storing homegrown food.

 

 

Mellendorf says the series will be focused on the consumer with what to look for in farmer's markets and how to have good conversations with your farmer. She indicates some farmers might be organic and not advertise it.

 

 

Each session will be recorded and posted to the Extension's YouTube page for viewing if you can't make it to the live meeting, says Mellendorf.

 

 

To register for the "Eat Fresh Eat Local" series, visit extension.illinois.edu and click on the news and events tab. The first meeting is on April 22 at noon and is a free event.

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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 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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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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