Local News

COVID-19 hospitalizations up in Illinois

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Illinois are up more than 30 percent in the past week and are now just a few hundred below the all-time high set in November of 2020.

Governor JB Pritzker says Illinois is still in a better place now because of a long-standing mask mandate.

 

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health yesterday adopted the CDC’s most recent guidelines on isolation and quarantine.

U of I Study looking at best ways to prevent COVID transmission on airplanes

A NEW STUDY OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS LOOKS AT THE BEST WAYS TO REDUCE TRANSMISSION OF COVID-19 ON AIRPLANES. 

 

U OF I AVIATION RISK EXPERT SHELDON JACOBSON SAYS THEY FOUND THAT AVOIDING THE MIDDLE SEAT ISN’T NECESSARILY THE BEST OPTION, SINCE THE VIRUS CAN BE TRANSMITTED IN ALL DIRECTIONS.

 

 

RESEARCHERS SPECIFICALLY LOOKED AT AEROSOL TRANSMISSION OF THE VIRUS, FINDING IT SPREADS IN ALL DIRECTIONS SAYS U OF I AVIATION RISK EXPERT SHELDON JACOBSON.

 

 

JACOBSON SAYS IT’S ALSO VITAL THAT FAMILIES ARE SEATED TOGETHER ON PLANES SINCE THEY HAVE ALREADY BEEN IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH EACH OTHER. HE NOTES THAT WEARING A HIGH-QUALITY MASK ONBOARD WILL REDUCE YOUR RISK BY UP TO 30 PERCENT.

Top 10 Stories from 2021 Countdown: No. 5 to No. 1

As is customary at Regional Radio News, we'll look back at the year that was in 2021 for local news. Yesterday we counted down the top 10 stories of the year from 10 down to 6 and today we countdown the top stores from 5 to 1.

 

No. 5

 

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/592214

 

>>Scooter's Coffee Coming to Clinton

 

Regional Radio News has learned that Scooter's Coffee, a drive-thru coffee and breakfast menu shop, will be coming to Clinton.

 

Officials with the Scooter's corporate office have pulled a building permit, to tear down the former Pizza Hut building at 614 West Van Buren, to build the new Clinton Scooter's Coffee location.  We're told they hope to be open by the end of this year.

 

Scooter's apparently builds the building, then leases it to a local franchisee.  It's not known who the Clinton franchisee is, but we've learned, Scooter's corporate is constructing 3 new locations in Springfield, 2 in Decatur, and one in Taylorville, all to be operated by local franchisees.  

 

The Clinton location's construction appears nearly complete.

 

No. 4

 

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/557543

 

>>Clinton Community Remembers David Torbert

 

The community of Clinton last week lost a man who touched the lives of countless people across DeWitt County and central Illinois.

 

David Torbert passed away Monday, February 15 at the age of 36 and friends and colleagues are remembering him for the impact he had on so many across Clinton. Torbert was involved in so many facets of the community from his time working at the Clinton Journal writing sports to his time at Baum Chevrolet Buick in Clinton and most recently impacting the community's young people as Youth Program Director at the Clinton YMCA.

 

Y Executive Director Rennie Cluver says Torbert was very passionate about his work through the YMCA and recalls just how happy he was every day to come in do what he was doing.

 

 

Torbert was frequently heard on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW through his roles with the Y, the DCDC and provided color commentary for Maroons sports with Jared White. White says you won't find a bigger fan of the Clinton Maroons than Torbert.

 

 

Torbert grew up in Clinton spending his early years at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago overcoming insurmountable health complications with a smile on his face and a prank in his back pocket for nurses and doctors alike.

 

In high school, he was a member of the Clinton High School golf team, working as a sportswriter for the local newspaper and officiating youth soccer and basketball games at the Clinton Community YMCA.

 

He and his wife, Rachel (Baum) were high school classmates and college sweethearts. The pair married in 2008.

 

Using his writing and communication talents in a variety of jobs, David settled in as the Youth and Adult Sports Program Director for the Clinton Community YMCA, where he served as the Camp Osage director and coordinated all youth sports programs.

Teaching and coaching youth basketball, football and soccer, and instilling a love of sport, sportsmanship and Christian principles of the YMCA, was a task he dearly loved.

 

David’s family, wife and daughter, and friends, were a top priority, and he expressed his love often, always flashing a million-dollar smile and willing to drop anything to help a friend or family member in need.

 

No. 3

 

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/595577

 

>>Record Turnout for Apple n' Pork Fesitval 2021

 

Over 100-thousand people turned out for the return of the 2021 Apple n' Pork Festival this weekend in Clinton.

 

The turnout resulted in numerous groups and organizations across the CH Moore Homestead grounds selling out of food well before the 5 pm conclusion of the annual festival. Police Chief Ben Lowers told Regional Radio during its Sunday coverage this was a record-setting weekend. Between pent-up demand and fantastic weather plus a COVID-friendly outdoor venue, the weekend blew away everyone's expectations.

 

 

DeWitt County Museum Director Joey Long told Regional Radio News Sunday afternoon she felt like this weekend's festival was a great event and hopes the groups that were on the grounds and throughout the community felt their time this weekend was well spent.

 

 

This year's festival did not allow for tours of the Homestead due to ongoing renovations of the exterior of the home as well as challenges with volunteers. 

 

2014 was the last time the Festival broke the 100-thousand person threshold. 

 

No. 2

 

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/561909

 

>>Clinton Fire Fighters on Scene for House Fire

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

No. 1

 

https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/595033

 

>>Clinton Man Dies at Clinton Lake

 

A 65-year old Clinton man is dead after a Tuesday incident at Clinton Lake. 

 

At approximately 9:45 am, authorities were called to the Valley Mill Fishing Access for a suspicious gray truck teetering on the edge of the lake. A body was seen floating near the truck, identified 65-year old Allan W. Bell of Clinton. 

 

DNR authorities utilized sonar in the surrounding waters and found nothing further of significance. 

 

Assisting DNR authorities were the DeWitt County Coroner's office, the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office, DeWitt County EMS, Clinton Fire Department, the Illinois State Police, and Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigators. 

 

The incident is being considered accidental at this time pending an investigation. 

Top 10 Stories from 2021: 6-10

As is customary at Regional Radio News, we'll spend the next few days looking back at the year that was in 2021 for local news. We'll count down the top 10 stories of the year and today look at stories 10 down to 6 and then tomorrow countdown the top stores from 5 to 1.

 

No. 10

 

>>Pontiac Man Killed in Crash on 51 North of Clinton

 

An 87-year old Pontiac man is dead after a fatal crash on US Highway 51 north of Clinton Wednesday afternoon.

 

Illinois State Police indicate just after noon on Wednesday, 88-year old Vernon Garmon of Pontiac disregarded a stop sign at Business 51 and US 51 North when his Chevy Malibu was struck by a semi driven by 36-year old Shane Elder of Olney who was northbound on US 51, killing the passenger of the Chevy Malibu, identified as Robert Adcock of Pontiac, formerly of Clinton. 

 

Adcock succumbed to the injuries sustained in the crash and was pronounced dead while Garmon was transported to an area hospital with injuries.

 

Elder was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries. 

 

Garmon was issued a citation for disobeying a stop sign. 

 

The Clinton Fire Department and Wapella Fire Department were on scene for extrication. 

 

No. 9

 

>>Community Shows Up to School Board Meeting to Oppose Mask Mandate

 

Roughly 60-to-70-some residents and students of the Clinton School District showed up to Clinton High School [in late Augsut] to oppose the mask mandate in place and receive answers to questions. 

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles prior to the public interaction period of the meeting offered an update on the situation and the repercussions the district could face if they decide to oppose the Governor's orders.

 

 

Brian Miller offered a passionate opposition to the mask mandate pointing to his young son in the district that battled acne last year because of the mandate and questioned, where does this end?

 

 

As the meeting progressed, the Board allowed community members to ask questions and offer suggestions. Among the questions was for Nettles to be specific about the ramifications of defying the Governor's mandate and Nettles offered a very real scenario.

 

 

One resident in attendance asked what happens if students attend day one of school without masks.

 

 

For parents wanting to do something to make a difference and initiate change, Nettles is calling for individuals to send their requests and pleas to lawmakers, the State Board of Education, the State Superintendent, and Governor in both Chicago and Springfield. 

 

Board member Sondra Baker offered an inspired endorsement of Nettles and him being in the corner of the portion of the community that opposes this mandate and wants local control back.

 

 

Nettles told Regional Radio News he is very appreciative of the passionate yet respectful dialogue of the meeting Tuesday.

 

Nettles has remained on the fighting trail for the community as he's met in-person this fall with the State Superintendent of Schools and held a Zoom call with the State Department of Public Health Director earlier this month. 

 

No. 8

 

>>Over 62,000 Attend Day 1 of Apple n' Pork Festival

 

The 53rd edition of the Apple n' Pork Festival saw an enormous day one crowd.

 

Authorities report 62,960 people attended the Apple n' Pork Festival Saturday. With cloudless skies and temperatures in the 70s all day, the weather was nothing short of ideal, and Director of the CH Moore Homestead Joey Woolridge says there's plenty to bring people to Clinton.

 

 

Several vendors either sold out of their food on Saturday or were questioning how much food should they plan for later in the day. 

 

The Apple n' Pork Festival was ultimately a record-setting event as it returned in 2021 from its 2020 COVID cancellation.

 

No. 7

 

>>Apple n' Pork Festival to Return in 2021

 

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

 

In March, Director of the DeWitt County Homestead and Museum, Joey Long told Regional Radio News the Board decided to bring back the annual festival in September. It was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.

 

 

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

 

The Festival was on September 25-26 and was ultimately a record-setter for attendance. 

 

No. 6

 

>>Clinton Board of Education Approves Mask-Optional Policy for 2021-22 School Year

 

As school districts wait for more clarity on policies for COVID going into the 2021-22 school year, Clinton Schools passed a mask-optional policy Tuesday night at a special meeting of the Board of Education.

 

Those in attendance that chose to address the Board spoke in overwhelming support of a mask-optional policy. Superintendent Curt Nettles recommended to the Board of Education they approve a mask-optional policy for all students and teachers. He emphasizes this is only the foundation of the back-to-school policy but believes it is a starting point and will ease the concerns of many.

 

 

Board President Dan Matthews pointed to the flip-flop of policies in other parts of the country and committed to have as normal of a school year as possible. 

 

 

The Board unanimously approved the back-to-school plan with a mask-optional provision. At the adjournment of the meeting, perhaps the biggest crowd to a School Board meeting in over a decade offered the board a round of applause. 

 

The policy set in place by the Board would be a short-lived policy as Governor JB Pritzker came over the top of Illinois schools dictating they be masked for the school year. To date, the policy remains. 

 

 

Stay tuned to Regional Radio News tomorrow as we countdown the year's top stories from five to one. 

Secretary of State Driver's Services Facilities Closing for a Few Weeks Due to COVID

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE IS ANNOUNCING THAT DRIVER’S SERVICES FACILITIES WILL BE CLOSED FOR A FEW WEEKS BECAUSE OF THE ONGOING COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

 

FACILITIES STATEWIDE WILL BE CLOSED FROM JANUARY THIRD THROUGH THE 17TH OUT OF CONCERN OVER THE RISING NUMBER OF NEW INFECTIONS SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT.

 

 

THIS IS NO REASON TO WORRY SAYS HAUPT.

 

 

HAUPT SAYS YOU CAN DO THINGS LIKE RENEW YOUR LICENSE PLATE STICKER, GET A DUPLICATE LICENSE OR I-D CARD AND SOME CAN RENEW THEIR DRIVER’S LICENSE ONLINE. THE WEBSITE IS: IL SOS DOT GOV.

Gov. Pritzker Discusses Continued Surge of COVID in Illinois

New positive COVID cases have never been as high as they are now in Illinois and as people begin to gather for New Year’s parties the spread of COVID-19 is on the mind of Governor JB Pritzker.

 

 

The state’s most recent data shows Illinois averaging over 16,000 new cases a day. The high in the late winter of 2020 was 12,000 a day.

WEZC to air 24th Annual "All Night New Year's Party New Year's Eve, Day

Miller Media Group radio stations WRAN groovy 97.3 in Taylorville and WEZC “Your EASY Choice!” 95.9 FM in Clinton, will simulcast the 24th annual Bud Light All-Night New Year’s Party, from 11pm New Year’s Eve, until 5:00am New Year’s Day.

 

Miller Media Group president Randal J. Miller will emcee the show, which will feature requests and dedications of easy and top 40 hits from the 60’s thru the 80’s.  The show will also feature listener contests and give-aways.

 

The show will also feature messages asking listeners to celebrate the New Year with friends, wear a mask, social distance and take precautions to keep yourself and others safe. The show again this year is sponsored by Skeff Distributing, the Central Illinois Budweiser distributor.

 

Miller has been doing a New Year’s Show on his stations since the late 1980’s.  

 

The phone number to call in requests or to participate in contests during the show will be toll-free 1-866-500-9726.

Sangamon Valley CEO Hosting Jan. 2 Fundraiser

If you're looking for one last thing to do before school gets back underway for the second semester, the Sangamon Valley CEO program is inviting you to its fundraiser on Sunday, January 2.

 

Ethan Robson explains the event is at Pre-Game Sports complex in Monticello. It is a mini-golf, 12-hole course with Disney and sports themes.

 

 

Robson notes it was quite a process to settle on an idea but they also had to keep in mind the time frame they were under in trying to get in between Jan. 1 and around Valentine's Day.

 

 

With only four students in the program this year and putting the event on right after the turn of the calendar year, the Facilitator of Sangamon Valley CEO Lisa Shepard is impressed with the work the kids were able to do in a short amount of time.

 

 

Robson thanks the City of Monticello & Fillipo's Pizza for being key sponsors for this event.

 

Tickets can be purchased at sangamonvalleyceo.com or on the day of the event at PreGame Sports Complex. The event is again, Sunday, Jan. 2 from noon to 5 pm. 

Workforce Leader Says Act Now If You're Goal in 2022 is to Return to Work

If one of your goals in 2022 is to return to the workforce or take that leap of faith and change careers, act now.

 

Larry Peterson at Workforce Investment Solutions told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday you need to start with what are your goals. Set goals a month to six months in advance.

 

 

Peterson reminds Workforce has services for both workers and employers. He explains he'll do as much as he can to make the process seamless for both parties.

 

 

For both job seekers and employers, the services of Workforce Investment isn't just about all the leg work going through Workforce. Peterson says sometimes there's a financial or time commitment for the employers and workers.

 

 

You can learn more about Workforce Investment Solutions by calling 217-875-8751 or visiting worknetdecatur.org. 

New State Law Taking Effect Jan. 1 Ensures Kids Can Set Up Lemonade Stands

A NEW STATE LAW TAKING EFFECT JANUARY FIRST WILL ENSURE KIDS CAN PURSUE THE LONG-STANDING TRADITION OF SETTING UP A LEMONADE STAND. 

 

12-YEAR-OLD HAYLI MARTINEZ OF KANKAKEE INSPIRED THE MEASURE AFTER HER STAND WAS SHUT DOWN BY LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS. SHE TESTIFIED BEFORE A SENATE COMMITTEE BACK IN MARCH.

 

 

MARTINEZ VISITED SPRINGFIELD IN MARCH TO ADVOCATE FOR THE CHANGE AND AS SENATOR MATTIE HUNTER OF CHICAGO EXPLAINS, CERTAINLY KNEW HOW TO WOO LAWMAKERS.

 

 

UNDER THE LAW, STATE AND LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENTS CANNOT REQUIRE A PERMIT OR REGULATE THE SALE OF LEMONADE AND OTHER NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS BY KIDS UNDER 16.

New Illinois Ag History Website Now Live

Illinois Ag in the Classroom provides a new online resource. It details Illinois ag history says the program’s Kevin Daugherty.

 

 

The site went live last month at il.stateaghistory.org.

New Ag Education Internship Program

The effort continues to grow ag teachers in Illinois. John Heiser is District 1 Coordinator for Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education. He details a new internship program.

 

 

You can find more at ilaged.org.

Illinois Dept. of Labor Highlighting New Laws Impacting Employers, Employees

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR IS REMINDING THE PUBLIC ABOUT SOME NEW LAWS TAKING EFFECT IN THE NEW YEAR. 

 

ONE NEW LAW EXPANDS WHAT’S CALLED THE “VESSA” ACT TO COVER MORE THAN JUST VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SAYS LABOR ASSISTANT DIRECTOR JASON KELLER.

 

 

ANOTHER LAW MAKES TRAMPOLINE COURTS SUBJECT TO INSPECTION BY THE STATE, JUST AS AMUSEMENT PARK RIDES MUST BE CHECKED BEFORE THEY CAN START OPERATING.

 

 

THE “VESSA” ACT ENSURES EMPLOYEES CAN TAKE UP TO 12 WEEKS OF UNPAID LEAVE TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE, COUNSELING AND MORE AFTER A CRIME.

Gov. Pritzker Urging Communities to Consider Stricter COVID Mitigations if Needed

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS URGING COMMUNITIES TO PUT THEIR OWN COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE IF NECESSARY. 

 

WITH SOME AREAS RUNNING OUT OF I-C-U BEDS, THE GOVERNOR SAYS LOCAL LEADERS MAY WANT TO CRACK DOWN EVEN FURTHER THAN THE STATE’S CURRENT INDOOR MASK MANDATE. HE POINTS TO A NEW VACCINE REQUIREMENT FOR ENTERING CERTAIN BUSINESSES TAKING EFFECT IN THE CHICAGO AREA NEXT WEEK.

 

 

EVERY COUNTY IN ILLINOIS IS CURRENTLY RATED AT HIGH RISK FOR TRANSMISSION OF THE VIRUS.

 

 

CHICAGO AND COOK COUNTY’S VACCINE REQUIREMENT FOR GOING INTO CERTAIN BUSINESSES LIKE GYMS, BARS AND RESTAURANTS BEGINS NEXT WEEK.

Warner Hospital CEO Asking for Public to Get Vaccinated to Offer Better Healthcare

Help us help you by getting vaccinated.

 

That's the message from Warner Hospital CEO Paul Skowron who says the surge of COVID in Illinois hospitals got worse over the weekend and now they are seeing asymptomatic patients wanting to get tested and that is adding to the backlog of issues in the hospital now.

 

 

According to Skowron, they are close to joining central systems in not being able to accommodate the testing of asymptomatic patients. He indicates the regulations of requiring a negative test to participate in social events are also creating issues in places like Chicago.

 

 

Could those long lines for a test come to central Illinois? Skowron indicates it is his fear that will be what some places look like after the new year.

 

 

Skowron says nearly 80-percent of hospitalizations are the Delta variant and he hopes people will prepare themselves by getting vaccinated ahead of those New Year's gatherings. 

DeWitt County Board Discussing Sale of Marina

The DeWitt County Board had many discussions regarding the marina at its latest meeting.

 

Board Chair Terry Ferguson indicates the Marina Committee has been working to sell 75 acres of surplus property. He notes there are a lot of hoops to jump through when selling county-owned property.

 

 

Ferguson says the sale of the property in the past has been unsuccessful, but he has heard of interest in developing the land for hunting.

 

 

The County Board decided to list the property now due to the breakwater and parking lot needing improvements. Land values in recent years have also risen, so Ferguson believes they can get a fair price.

 

 

The discussion during the Marina Committee report was around whether the County should sell the surplus or the whole marina. Ferguson says everyone wants to do this the right way and notes they would need to contract with an auctioneer and need to find a land appraiser.

 

 

Ferguson is hopeful the County Board can meet its goal of hosting the auction at the end of March.

Clinton Schools Superintendent Wants to Be Able to Focus on Something Other Than COVID

COVID fatigue is challenging us all in various ways and a DeWitt County education leader is looking forward to getting back to enjoying his job again.

 

Stopping in classrooms and watching kids learn is what Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles pinpoints as the thing he is missing out on the most because COVID consumes so much of his time.

 

 

Advocating for schools and the autonomy for them to make their own decisions is what is perhaps most consuming of Nettles time. He has made it his mission to get in front of state leaders, connect with them and help them understand the concerns they have.

 

 

While COVID has consumed so much of Nettles' time and focus, he believes good progress has been made in his effort to get in front of state leadership. In November Nettles was able to meet face-to-face with State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala, just this month he was able to have a virtual face-to-face meeting with Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the State's Public Health Director. 

 

 

Some central Illinois superintendents and their school boards have explored their own mitigations as correspondence from the State of Illinois have been lacking from their perspective. 

Illinois To Receive More Rapid Tests from Federal Government

The state of Illinois is ramping up health care as the need for COVID testing and booster shots is peaking. Governor JB Pritzker says the White House is going to offer up a half a billion rapid tests – and Illinois will receive it’s share of those tests. Pritzker notes the past experience of the state’s mass testing and vaccination sites will provide the path forward to test more residents and get more shots to those wanting a booster.

 

 

Pritzker provided a COVID update on Monday.

State Police Announce Changes to FOID/CCL Card Processing Starting Jan. 1

THE FOID CARD PROCESS SHOULD BE MORE CONVENIENT COME JANUARY FIRST. 

 

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS ANNOUNCING SOME CHANGES AS PART OF A NEW LAW SAYS TROOPER JOSH ROBINSON. FOR EXAMPLE:

 

 

IF THE FOID CARDHOLDER ALSO HAS A VALID CONCEALED CARRY CARD, THEY WILL BE ISSUED A COMBINED FOID AND C-C-L CARD.

 

 

WHEN A CURRENT FOID CARD EXPIRES BUT THE C-C-L IS STILL VALID, THE FOID WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY RENEWED AND NO FEE WILL BE CHARGED.

DNR Responding to Black Vulture Population

The black vulture population has increased in Illinois in recent years, most noticeably in the southern part of the state. An update from Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan.

 

 

Illinois Farm Bureau will issue sub-permits as a benefit to livestock farmers who are experiencing problems with black vultures and assist in securing IDNR’s required permit. The sub-permit is available to livestock farmers facing depredation of commercial livestock, which includes cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and swine.

 

Interested livestock producers may request a sub-permit application by contacting Illinois Farm Bureau Associate Director of Commodity and Livestock, Tasha Bunting, at tbunting@ilfb.org.

How Pandemic Continues in 2022 Depends on All of Us

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HOW THE PANDEMIC CONTINUES INTO 2022 DEPENDS ON ALL OF US.

 

THE DAILY TOTAL FOR NEW CASES HIT A RECORD HIGH LAST WEEK, AND AS OF LAST NIGHT, MORE THAN 47-HUNDRED PEOPLE WERE IN THE HOSPITAL BATTLING COVID-19. THE VAST MAJORITY OF THOSE HOSPITALIZED HAVE NOT BEEN VACCINATED, POTENTIALLY AFFECTING OTHERS SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

THE KEY TO GETTING THROUGH THIS SURGE IS TO GET YOUR SHOTS SAYS STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay).

 

 

FOUR OUT OF THE 11 REGIONS OF THE STATE HAVE LESS THAN 10 I-C-U BEDS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE. NEARLY 68 PERCENT OF THOSE ELIGIBLE ARE NOW FULLY VACCINATED. CLOSE TO THREE MILLION BOOSTER SHOTS HAVE BEEN ADMINISTERED.

Active Weather Pattern This Week

An active weather pattern is brewing this week for Illinois. Timothy Gross is with the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities.

 

 

Gross says there is potential for winter weather advisories to be posted north of I-80.

Tim Followell Credits Community for Successes

If you ask Tim Followell what he considers his biggest successes, he'll tell you it isn't Tim's successes, it's the community's successes.

 

Followell will be retiring at the end of this week as the Clinton City Administrator. Followell is a veteran of local government and the lifelong Clintonian has started working for the City in high school and worked his way up to City Manager.

 

 

As Followell rides off into the sunset, you might find him on his front porch trying to enjoy one. You may also find him in the pickup line picking up the kiddos from school for his wife's home child care business. 

 

 

Last week on Regional Radio, we introduced listeners and readers to Darren Girlder who will be taking Followell's place. His advice to Girdler and those that will proceed him in City Hall is to not take things so personally.

 

 

For this broadcaster and news director, Followell was the first person to welcome me to the community and embrace me as a wide-eyed green reporter. For that, I'll always consider him not only a professional associate but a friend who has demonstrated a willingness to go the extra mile. 

 

Followell says he doesn't have any direction for retirement other than to sit on the porch and see what is next as well as to be there to support his wife Debbie and her business in a larger capacity. 

Clinton Police Chief Talks New Year's Safety

Whether you're ringing in the new year with friends and family or spending it alone, local authorities are asking all to be safe.

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers says New Year's Eve is one of the most deadly times of the year for vehicle accidents. 

 

 

The Chief says make plans and stick to those plans. That includes letting someone know where you plan to be, especially for young people and young drivers. The Chief is appealing to young people to not be afraid to consult with their parents if they find themselves in a precarious situation. 

 

 

For those that will be out and there will be alcohol or legal, adult-use marijuana involved, get a designated driver. Additionally, plan to stay where you celebrate if that is a possibility.

 

 

The DeWitt County Museum is holding a special event on New Year's Eve highlighting the celebrations ringing in the new year in the community's past. It will be from 5 pm to 7 pm on New Year's Eve night for those interested. 

University of Illinois Horticulture Educator Discusses Re-Purposing or Getting Rid of That Christmas Tree

A HORTICULTURE EXPERT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION IS OFFERING SOME IDEAS ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR LIVE CHRISTMAS TREE. 

 

WHETHER YOU’RE READY TO GET THE TREE OUT OF YOUR HOUSE OR PLAN ON KEEPING IT UP A LITTLE LONGER, THE U OF I EXTENSION’S RICHARD HENTSCHEL SAYS THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPTIONS. MANY COMMUNITIES OFFER CURBSIDE PICK-UP. OR, YOU MAY WANT TO SET UP A BIRD BUFFET.

 

 

HENTSCHEL CAUTIONS AGAINST BURNING CHRISTMAS TREE WOOD INSIDE SINCE IT'S FULL OF SAP AND CAN SPARK AND SPLATTER.

 

 

ADDITIONALLY, HENTSCHEL SAYS YOU CAN CUT THE BRANCHES OFF AND USE THEM AS MULCH TO PROTECT YOUR PLANTS.

FarmDocDaily Continues to Provide Farmers with Important Information

2021 proved to be another successful year for FarmDoc Daily. A new article is posted each business day and one of the contributors is Brad Zwilling at Illinois Farm Business Farm Management.

 

 

The website is farmdocdaily.illinois.edu.

Piatt County Mental Health Center, DeWitt County Mental Health Board Starting Community Needs Assessment Process

The Piatt County Mental Health Center and the DeWitt County Mental Health Board, or 708 Board, are starting its community needs assessment.

 

Executive Director of the Piatt County Mental Health Center Tony Kirkman indicates this process takes place every three years and Kirby Medical Center in Monticello leads the charge for them. He explains the end product looks at the successes of the last three years and robust plan for the upcoming three years.

 

 

The process takes place over several meetings with all kinds of stakeholders in the community. Kirkman explains after meeting with all those people in the community, they will compile the results and put together a plan that could come out as soon as the summer.

 

 

Piatt County has focused in recent years on expanding access to mental health and Kirkman indicates they have been designated as a mental health deficient service area. To address these needs, they have done things like add counselors to their schools.

 

 

Kirkman says it takes a community effort to make these assessments work. He commends those that have not been satisfied with the status quo and want to improve their communities. 

Mahomet-Seymour Schools 'Bulldog Blueprint' Ready to Take Proposal to Voters

Next summer, voters in a Champaign County community will vote on a proposal that has been in the works for most of this year to improve its schools' facilities.

 

Dr. Lindsey Hall indicates 'Bulldog Blueprint' was a plan to engage the community on how to improve the district's facilities as the student body grows beyond the capacity of its buildings. After hours and hours of engaging the community, a plan is ready to take to the voters.

 

 

According to Dr. Hall, the final step before going to the voters is a final survey their community will receive shortly after the first of the year. Dr. Hall says the front-running plan is to build a new middle school and improve space issues at the other facilities.

 

 

Asking the community for a tax increase is never an easy task for any governing body and Dr. Hall says this is not the ideal time to be making such an ask but believes this is something that is of the utmost importance for the district at this time.

 

 

While the timing of the ask is not ideal, Dr. Hall believes inaction is a decision in this scenario it would be one that is not in the best interest of the school district. 

Butter: Is It Good For You?

The holidays are upon us, which means that butter is going to become an even more important refrigerator staple for upcoming feasts. 

 

Butter not only adds incredible flavor to everything it touches, but it also has special properties that are key to the integrity of many classic sweet and savory dishes. It is responsible for the texture and quality of many of your favorite dishes including all of the holiday favorites. Monica Nyman with the St. Louis District Dairy Council tells us what butter is made of and the differences between some of the kinds of butter you'll find at the grocery store.

 

 

Many believe butter to be an unhealthy food and while it is in the 'fat' food group, Nyman, who is a certified nutritionist, says she wouldn't classify it as unhealthy. She explains there are two kinds of fats and one is good and one is not.

 

 

Butter is a staple to the savoriness of so many holiday foods like pies and cookies and sauces. Nyman explains it can add lots of smooth textures and various flavors to whatever you're cooking.

 

 

Get more nutritional information and recipes through the St. Louis District Dairy Council by visiting stldairycouncil.org or finding them on social media. 

Clinton Schools to Upgrade Security Cameras

Clinton Schools will be updating and upgrading the security systems as it relates to the security cameras across the district.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday Superintendent Curt Nettles told Regional Radio News the current system is not only starting to age out but it is not nearly as effective as they would like them to be. That has led the district to explore updating the systems across the board.

 

 

According to Nettles, the new cameras will update systems and servers to offer more options. He explains they will try to retain any cameras in their current buildings they can that might be compatible with the new system.

 

 

This project will cost a little less than a half-of-a-million dollars. Nettles points out though that most of this cost will come from federal funds from COVID.

 

 

Security is a big deal in schools and Nettles feels this is going to allow the district to be ready on the spot in the event they would need it. 

 

Nettles notes there could be some work that gets done with students in the building in the spring but the bulk of everything will get done in the summer. 

Lincoln Celebrating Opening of Local Businesses to Cloes the Year

It's been a busy fall and winter season for the community of Lincoln as several businesses have opened up in the last few months.

 

Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch says a new bank is now in the community along with a new retail phone store and a new shoe store among a few others. An exciting development that has been in the works for some time is a new YMCA facility in Lincoln. 


 

Elite Kicks and Sublime Skin are the results of local entrepreneurs stepping up. For the Mayor, these businesses coming to downtown Lincoln is something he's very pleased with.

 

 

The recent business growth is not just a short-term success but could be foundational for more opportunities in the future. Mayor Welch says there have been some challenges for developers in downtown Lincoln but believes they've turned a corner and are hoping for good things ahead.

 

 

The Mayor explains while they did not have a great deal of money to offer property owners to update their buildings, the incentive proved to be enough as many took advantage of it to improve things like roofs and other minor repairs that go a long way to the upkeep of a building. 

Warner Hospital on 'High Alert'

Since Thanksgiving, COVID locally has escalated to the point Warner Hospital and Health Services are struggling to find COVID patients a place to go.

 

CEO Paul Skowron on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday told Regional Radio they are struggling to find ICU bed availabilities in Illinois and just recently were forced to send a patient to Kentucky.

 

 

As we enter the winter season, Skowron says COVID is pushing the limits of the hospital and that is forcing them to be on high alert and at a high state of readiness.

 

 

According to Skowron, area hospitals are postponing elective surgeries. So far, Warner Hospital has not had to do that yet but did not rule out that could be an option for them if they see a sudden change in circumstances.

 

 

The good news is, if you are needing care for COVID, Skowron says they have a dedicated staff that is very willing to step up when needed and help each other out to serve the community.

 

 

While the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department is unable to track the various strains of COVID, Skowron indicates they are finding most patients to have the Delta variant however, he points out it is moving very quickly through the population and is not causing as much death as earlier variants.

Sen. Rose Expresses Frustration With Media as Illinois Families Deal With Brunt of Inflation

A central Illinois lawmaker is growing frustrated with the media's inability to tell the story of the things happening in America today.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose says it starts with the Chicago press corps who capitulates the messaging of Chicago and state officials as it relates to the shape of the Illinois economy.

 

 

According to Sen. Rose, inflation is another area he believes the media is complicit in sharing information that is inaccurate. He says gas and grocery prices are up and vehicles are difficult to find. 

 

 

As people get back into the workforce, there seems to be a two-fold issue. One is many households perhaps discovered they didn't need the extra income of one partner in the workforce and also parents are discovering finding childcare is very difficult right now.

 

 

The Mahomet Republic says the restaurant industry is struggling greatly because they rely on those part-time workers who sometimes have a second job or just part-time workers who don't have the time or need for a full-time job. 

Social Security Discusses Decisions for Qualifying Disabilities

The law requires that Social Security periodically review the current medical condition of all people receiving disability benefits to determine if they continue to have a qualifying disability the agency recently discussed what goes into that review process.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security indicates the reviews help Social Security ensure that only eligible people receive disability benefits. They support the integrity of the system while delivering fair services to disabled workers and their dependents. The frequency of these reviews will vary depending on the likelihood of your condition improving.  

 

 

According to Myers, being selected for a review is not an indicator that you are likely to lose benefits. He says don’t panic, but do complete the forms and send them back to Social Security or call with questions. They contact your medical sources and seek updated records to see if your condition has improved. If it has not improved to the point that you can work again, your benefits will continue. 

 

 

If Social Security determines your condition has improved enough that you can work again, you will have the right to appeal the decision. To learn more about the review process, check out the publication, 'How We Decide if You Still Have A Qualifying Disability'.  

IEMA Explains Loud Boom Heard in Central Illinois Tuesday

THE ILLINOIS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY IS EXPLAINING THAT LOUD BOOM HEARD ACROSS CENTRAL ILLINOIS TUESDAY. 

 

THE SOUND COULD BE HEARD ALL ACROSS A LARGE SWATH OF THE STATE, LEAVING MANY WONDERING IF IT WAS AN EARTHQUAKE OR EXPLOSION. NEITHER SAYS I-EMA SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK. SHE SAYS UPON INVESTIGATION, IT WAS DETERMINED THE NOISE CAME FROM AN F-15 FIGHTER JET IN THE AIRSPACE ABOVE CENTRAL ILLINOIS THAT COURSE CORRECTED, CAUSING A SONIC BOOM.

 

 

THE BOOM OCCURRED AT APPROXIMATELY 11-20 A-M.

 

 

CLARK SAYS WHEN THE AIRCRAFT BROKE THE SOUND BARRIER, THE PRESSURE WAVE CREATED THE NOISE. NO DAMAGE RELATED TO THE INCIDENT HAS BEEN REPORTED.

Congresswoman Miller Must Decide What District to Run In

A freshman US Representative is still waiting to decide where to run for office.

 

Republican Mary Miller could run for reelection in either a newly drawn 15th District and challenge incumbent Republican Rodney Davis or she could run in the 12th where she would face off against another incumbent Republican Mike Bost. Miller says wherever she’s running it will be as a choice to the voter over other Republicans.

 

 

US Representatives do not have to live in the district they run to represent.

IDPH Discusses COVID Fatigue

The state is seeing COVID 19 hospitalizations at rate not seen for more than a year. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says she understands how people are becoming tired of the pandemic but it’s not time to give up or give in. She says if you still haven’t been vaccinated or boosted now is the time.

 

 

The state is seeing daily vaccination rates at the highest levels since May.

Ameren Promoting Warm Neighbors Program

Ameren Illinois and the Energy Assistance Foundation are teaming up for the Warm Neighbors, Cool Friends Program, an effort that is accepting donations to help people pay their heating bills this winter. Susan Sams from the Energy Assistance Foundation says if every Ameren customer donated just one dollar, they could help everyone who needs it...

 

 

Warm Neighbors, Cool Friends is separate from the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program, LIHEAP, in that it is aimed at helping those whose income is above the LIHEAP qualifications but are still struggling to pay their bills.

New Clinton City Administrator Discusses Return to Central Illinois

Darren Girdler is very familiar with the landscape of central Illinois and is looking forward to his return to the area.

 

Long-time Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell is retiring at the end of the year and Darren Girdler has been appointed to the post. Girdler told Regional Radio on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday he is from Danvers and went to Olympia High School. His first administrator job was in fact, in Farmer City.

 

 

For Girdler, this Clinton City Administrator job is different than most and Followell explains the marketing of the position was challenging because of that. Girdler indicates his experience in several areas of local government should help him transition to his role in Clinton.

 

 

Girdler has worked for small community governments and larger governments and believes his experiences will help in his transition as well.

 

 

Girdler also views his ability to spend the final days of Followell's time with him and learning and watching will be beneficial from other situations he's walked into.

 

We'll hear more from Followell in the days ahead leading up to his retirement at the end of the year.

More Information Released on Farm and Home Supply Purchase of Big R Stores in Lincoln, Taylorville, Springfield

More information has been released by Farm and Home Supply, based in Quincy, on their purchase of the Big R stores in Taylorville, Lincoln, and Springfield.

Officials tell Regional Radio News that both Taylorville and Lincoln stores will be converted to Farm and Home Supply stores, while the Big R Springfield location on North Dirksen Parkway will be temporarily closed and eventually be re-opened as the new Springfield East location for Farm and Home Supply.  Farm and Home currently operates a store just north of the former Big R location on the same street.

Owner Adam Bowles says all 3 stores will be remodeled, starting at the Lincoln location.  The Taylorville and Springfield locations will be enlarged in the coming year to provide more space for new products and services.  

Bowles added that Lincoln and Taylorville stores will be expanding clothing, lawn and garden, and hand tool brand lines, and will also offer full service small engine repair.

Hours for both Taylorville and Lincoln stores will vary in the first quarter as remodeling gets underway.  Grand Openings will be held at both stores later in 2022.

City Council Approves New Server, Upgrades for Cyber Security

Cyber security has been a hot-button issue for government entities lately and Monday night the Clinton City Council approved a new server and cyber security upgrades.

 

City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter told the Council they try to upgrade their servers every five years but the current one is at eight years. He says it's time to upgrade that with renewal costs going up each year.

 

 

According to Lichtenwalter, cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated and these are measures to stay ahead of any potential issues.

 

 

Lichtenwalter indicates they are switching from external hard drive storage to a virtual hard drive with unlimited storage. 

Mahomet-Seymour Superintendent Discusses Retirement

Mahomet-Seymour Schools Superintendent Dr. Lindsey Hall earlier last month announced her retirement from the school district at the end of the school year. 

 

Monday on the WHOW Morning Show, Dr. Lindsey Hall told Regional Radio her announcement moves her retirement date up a year and felt it was what was best for her and her family.

 

 

Dr. Hall recognizes while the pandemic has certainly provided just about everyone with new challenges and stress levels, those things weren't unique to her. And while it was certainly part of her reasoning, she tried to keep an eye on the bigger picture.

 

 

Upon her retirement, Dr. Hall envisions remaining a part of the education community. She would like to spend more time with family, she also is considering things like leadership coaching or teaching at ISU.

 

 

The Mahomet-Seymour Board of Education has begun the process of finding Dr. Hall's replacement and she says it'll be up to her to get that next individual up to speed on the happening's in the district.

Minimum Wage Increasing in Illinois on January 1

THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES JANUARY FIRST. 

 

MINIMUM WAGE WORKERS WILL GO FROM 11 DOLLARS AN HOUR TO 12 IN THE NEW YEAR SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ASSISTANT DIRECTOR JASON KELLER.

 

 

KELLER SAYS THEY USUALLY DON'T SEE MUCH OF A PROBLEM WITH EMPLOYERS PAYING THE CORRECT WAGE BUT ADVISES WORKERS TO CHECK THEIR PAY STUBS JUST IN CASE.

 

 

THE INCREASE IS PART OF A GRADUAL HIKE TO 15 BUCKS AN HOUR BY 2025. THE MINIMUM WAGE IN CHICAGO IS ALREADY AROUND THAT AMOUNT, DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE BUSINESS. 

Last Minute Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

It’s crunch time for Christmas shopping, with just a few days to go. Criminals know your attention might be elsewhere, so local law enforcement is asking you to not let your guard down if you still have some shopping to do. Most importantly, most say, is to be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially walking to and from your vehicle.

 

You should try and park as close to the door of the shopping establishment as possible, and keep one hand free, according to Madison County Sheriff’s Department Captain Will Dimitroff. He says having a shopping partner can help ward off any potential thieves.

 

 

He says when returning to your car if you see someone suspicious, turn around and go back in the store. Once you load your vehicle, drive away. Don't sit with your head down looking at your cell phone or anything else, because that can make you a target.

Illinois 4-H Livestock Judging Team Wins National Title

A banner 2021 for the Illinois 4-H Livestock Judging Team. They won the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville last month. A proud coach Tony DuPuis (do-pwee).

 

 

Team members are Emerson Tarr, Ty Knodle (hard K), Braden Musgrave, Kaitlin Engle, Colton Russell, and Delaney Hemann.

IHSA Readying for First Ever E-Sport State Series

The IHSA will crown the first-ever state champs in Esports later this school year. Over 100 schools are already signed up for the state tournament series says the IHSA’s Kurt Gibson.

 

 

Member schools have until Feb. 1 to enter the IHSA state tournament series in Esports.

Funding to Help Address Administrator Shortage in Central Illinois

The leader of school districts across central Illinois is announcing funding to address school administrator shortages.

 

Earlier this week, Senators Dick Durbin Tammy Duckworth awarded the Regional Office of Education a $4 million grant to help those in "high need schools and high need districts." Mark Jontry is the Regional Superintendent of schools in DeWitt, Livingston, Logan, and McLean Counties.

 

 

According to Jontry, the funding can be used for those who have received their principal licenses but are hesitant to leap into administration roles. In addition, Jontry said school districts across the state could use the funds to help recruit larger pools of recruits for administrator roles.

COVID Hospitalizations at Highest Level in Nearly A Year

THE NUMBER OF COVID-19 PATIENTS IN ILLINOIS HOSPITALS IS AT ITS HIGHEST LEVEL IN NEARLY A YEAR. 

 

AS OF SUNDAY NIGHT, THERE WERE THREE-THOUSAND-960 PEOPLE ADMITTED WITH COVID, THE MOST SINCE DECEMBER 31ST OF 2020. OF THOSE IN THE HOSPITAL, 811 WERE IN THE I-C-U AND 432 WERE ON VENTILATORS. IN AN INTERVIEW LAST WEEK, STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAID THERE'S A COMMON DENOMINATOR AMONG THE PATIENTS.

 

 

AT THE LATEST COUNT, THREE-THOUSAND-960 PEOPLE WERE IN THE HOSPITAL BATTLING THE VIRUS. THAT'S THE HIGHEST NUMBER SINCE THE END OF DECEMBER 2020. 811 OF THOSE ADMITTED WERE IN THE I-C-U AND 432 ARE ON VENTILATORS. 

 

 

EIGHT OUT OF 11 REGIONS OF THE STATE HAVE LESS THAN 30 I-C-U BEDS AVAILABLE.

It's 'Survivor' Time at the Y

It's 'Survivor' season at the Clinton YMCA.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Clinton Y Executive Director Rennie Cluver told Regional Radio sign-ups are going on now for the annual fitness program. 

 

 

As you perhaps consider a New Year's resolution that is based in a better health state or becoming more health-conscious, Cluver says the Y Survivor program can be a great catalyst to that. Survivor offers a starting challenge of two fitness hours per week and works up to six hours per week at the end of the challenge.

 

 

For many that go into a new year intending to become more fit or healthy, the goal is too general. Cluver says set goals within that goal and start small. That is why they offer a two-hour starting point in Survivor.

 

 

If you've been considering joining the Y, now is a great time to get in and check out the facility at 417 South Alexander Street. 

 

The Y also announced its holiday hours. They will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then open until 5 pm on New Year's Even and closed on New Year's Day.

 

Get more information at clintoncommymca.org. 

DeWitt County Museum Hosting Special New Year's Eve Event

Help the DeWitt County Museum usher in the new year with a look back at how the DeWitt County community has celebrated in the past.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Director of the DeWitt County Museum Joey Long told Regional Radio this will be a special event due to, in part, the shortened season for the annual candlelight tours.

 

 

What's interesting to Long, the celebrations of New Year's often took place on New Year's Day. She also points out there would be 'watch parties' held at various places.

 

 

Woolridge says there are lots of different accounts of the happenings surrounding the ushering in of the new year throughout the history of the County.

 

 

The mansion will be staged to welcome the new year, light refreshments will be served, festive music will fill the rooms, and clippings of DeWitt County's New Year's Eve celebrations of the past will be displayed throughout the mansion.

 

The event is Friday, December 31, 5-7 pm at the C.H. Moore Homestead and  DeWitt County Museum at 219 E. Woodlawn. No tickets or reservations are necessary.  

 

Admission is $5 per person.

 

For additional information, contact the C.H. Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum at 217-935-6066.   

City of Lincoln Exploring Limiting Video Gaming Machines

It's an oversaturated market and a central Illinois community could begin limiting how many more they're going to allow.

 

Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch indicates the video gambling machines are becoming too disproportionate to the population in his community and is discussing with the Liquor Commission limiting how many more get installed.

 

 

According to Mayor Welch, the comments regarding the advertisements and even the number of gaming devices in the community are drawing the notice of folks returning and passing through the community.

 

 

The Mayor says for every one terminal, there are 48 people which is much lower than a lot of communities in Illinois. 

 

 

Mayor Welch says the City of Lincoln brings in about $400,000 a year in the tax revenue from the machines. 

Social Security Promoting Benefits of 'My Social Security' Accounty

Since the start of the pandemic, many Americans have found the online resources of Social Security to be incredibly beneficial as offices are largely still closed to walk-in traffic.

 

When doing business online, it always makes it easier if you have a 'MySocialSecurity' account. Jacke Myers with Social Security says one of the top reasons to have this account is the time it will save you.

 

 

A MySocialSecurity account is also very secure. Myers says not only does it offer a layer of protection in the event of identity theft but there is a two-step verification process.

 

 

A MySocialSecurity account will also allow you to see a retirement estimator and that your earnings are being accurately reported. Myers says that ties into the component of it being a good tool for long-term planning.

 

 

Get more information about a MySocialSecurity account by visiting ssa.gov/myaccount. 

Attorney General Launching Program to Keep Kids Safe

ATTORNEY GENERAL KWAME RAOUL IS LAUNCHING A PILOT PROGRAM TO HELP KEEP KIDS SAFE. 

 

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE IS TEAMING UP WITH THE NATIONAL CHILD IDENTIFICATION PROGRAM TO DISTRIBUTE FREE I-D KITS TO ABOUT 175-THOUSAND KINDERGARTENERS IN ILLINOIS. RAOUL SAYS THE KITS INCLUDE MATERIALS FOR PARENTS TO FINGERPRINT THEIR KIDS.

 

 

ABOUT 175-THOUSAND FREE CHILD I-D KITS WILL BE SENT OUT TO ILLINOIS FAMILIES WITH KINDERGARTNERS THIS SPRING AS PART OF THE NEW INITIATIVE. THE KIT HELPS PARENTS GATHER THE DETAILS THEY WOULD NEED TO PROVIDE POLICE SHOULD THEIR CHILD GO MISSING, INCLUDING A DESCRIPTION, PHOTOS AND FINGERPRINTS SAYS ILLINOIS STATE POLICE MAJOR MATTHEW GAINER.

 

 

 IF THE PROGRAM IS SUCCESSFUL, RAOUL SAYS IT MAY BE EXPANDED TO OTHER GRADES.

State Treasurer Says Consider Gift of College This Holiday Season

NEED A LAST MINUTE PRESENT FOR THE KIDS IN YOUR FAMILY? ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS RECOMMENDS GIVING THE GIFT OF COLLEGE.

 

THE STATE HAS TWO COLLEGE SAVINGS PROGRAMS, BRIGHT START AND BRIGHT DIRECTIONS. BOTH ARE AVAILABLE FOR FAMILY MEMBERS TO SET UP AND BEGIN SAVING FOR FUTURE COLLEGE EXPENSES SAYS TREASURER FRERICHS.

 

 

PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, AUNTS, UNCLES AND MORE CAN EASILY SET UP A BRIGHT START OR BRIGHT DIRECTIONS COLLEGE SAVINGS ACCOUNT, SENDING A MESSAGE OF SUPPORT SAYS TREASURER FRERICHS.

 

 

TO GET STARTED, VISIT: ILLINOIS TREASURER DOT GOV AND CLICK ON "COLLEGE SAVINGS."

Cannabis Dispensary Employees Forming Union

About 20 employees at the Verilife cannabis dispensary in Ottawa will be represented by Teamsters Local 777. Inventory Specialist Caitlin Pedersen says employees want to make sure they get a fair share of the growing cannabis economy. She feels the Teamsters union's experience in many lines of work enables it to represent people in a new one. And the union demonstrated its willingness to support the workers.

 

 

Cannabis Sales Consultant Ashley Birdsell doesn't sense any management-labor tension, but says a union will keep both on the same page. Teamsters spokesman Matt McQuaid says the National Labor Relations Board certified the union election results immediately Friday, but either side can file an objection during the next week to ten days. Teamsters Local 777 already represents Verilife employees in Chicago and Arlington Heights.

Farm and Home Supply Buys Big R Stores in Lincoln, Taylorville, Springfield

The Big R stores in Taylorville, Lincoln and Springfield have new owners.  Regional Radio News has learned that Farm and Home Supply, based in Quincy, has purchased the 3 stores.

The Taylorville and Lincoln Big R stores closed as of Friday night, and are reopening Monday as Farm and Home Supply. 

The Farm and Home Supply store on North Dirksen Parkway in Springfield will eventually move to the Big R location just down the street.  

Farm and Home Supply has stores in western Illinois, Iowa, and eastern Missouri.

Clinton Chamber of Commerce Putting Annual Meeting on Hold

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce is putting its annual meeting on hold.

 

Executive Director Marian Brisard indicates there are a lot of things up in the air right now but plan on the many regular activities the Chamber puts on happing in 2022.

 

 

According to Brisard, the Chamber is planning for the annual Business Expo during the week of spring break at the school district and hosting it at the high school if the district can accomodate them. 

Low Drought Concerns So Far This Winter

It wasn't that long along, central Illinois was hurting for rain as drought conditions were growing increasingly concerning.

 

That seems like a distant memory as Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates central Illinois and much of Illinois for that matter, have almost no drought concerns.

 

 

Any drought concerns in the months ahead are likely to be minimal as Shimon says central Illinois is showing above-normal precipitation through the spring. 

Secretary of State Announces Last Extension of Driver's License, ID Expiration

ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE'S OFFICE IS AGAIN EXTENDING EXPIRATION DATES FOR STATE DRIVER'S LICENSES AND I-D CARDS. 

 

THE ADDITIONAL THREE MONTH EXTENSION IS DUE TO CONTINUED CONCERNS ABOUT THE PANDEMIC AND NOT OVERLOADING DRIVER'S FACILITIES WITH LOTS OF PEOPLE NEEDING TO RENEW. THAT MEANS THERE'S NO NEED TO RUSH IN SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON BETH KAUFMAN.

 

 

THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO C-D-L'S AND WHITE'S OFFICE SAYS THIS WILL BE THE FINAL EXTENSION. 

 

 

ELIGIBLE MOTORISTS CAN RENEW THEIR LICENSE ONLINE AND SOME DRIVER'S FACILITIES REQUIRE AN APPOINTMENT BEFORE ARRIVAL. VISIT: IL SOS DOT GOV FOR MORE DETAILS.

Tornado Patterns May Be Changing

TORNADO PATTERNS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE CHANGING.

 

THE BIG TREND SEEMS TO BE “TORNADO ALLEY,” TYPICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH STATE’S LIKE TEXAS, OKLAHOMA AND KANSAS, IS MOVING EAST SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD.

 

 

FORD HE NOTES THERE ISN’T ENOUGH SOLID EVIDENCE TO CONFIDENTLY TIE THE SHIFT TO CLIMATE CHANGE.

 

 

AND FORD SAYS WHILE TORNADOS ARE MOST PREVALENT IN THE SPRING IN ILLINOIS, THEY CAN OCCUR AT ANY TIME OF YEAR AS SEEN LAST WEEKEND.

IDOT Launches Traveler Survey

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS LOOKING FOR YOUR OPINION ON TRAVELING IN ILLINOIS. 

 

I-DOT IS LAUNCHING IT'S ANNUAL SURVEY, LOOKING FOR INPUT FROM THE PUBLIC ON A VARIETY OF TOPICS SAYS SPOKESPERSON PAUL WAPPEL.

 

 

YOU CAN ACCESS THE SURVEY ONLINE AT: IDOT DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

Weekly Weather Summary

As Illinois students head to winter break, what kind of weather faces them and their families and those holiday plans.

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford gives us the upcoming forecast

 

 

Sen. Rose: Gov. Pritzker's Presidential Aspirations 'Worst Kept Secret in Springfield'

A New York Times article recently connected Illinois Governor JB Pritzker to the potential pool of candidates for the Democratic party's 2024 Presidential nomination if Joe Biden doesn't seek re-election. 

 

Earlier this week, for perhaps for the first time as Governor, Pritzker spoke on the matter deflecting his interest related to a run for President but a central Illinois lawmaker is calling this the worst kept secret in Springfield. On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, State Senator Chapin Rose told Regional Radio the Governor is grooming himself for the nomination as he seeks re-election in Illinois in 2022.

 

 

Sen. Rose says Gov. Pritzker can make the claim he is the most liberal governor in America and would play well with the progressive left.

 

 

Sen. Rose believes the one thing billionaire politicians don't understand is their money can only buy them so much. 

Illinois Farm Bureau Unveils Truck Driver Training Scholarship Program

Illinois Farm Bureau announcing a $100,000 commitment for a commercial truck driver training scholarship program. The effort is called Driving Agriculture Forward says IFB’s assistant director of transportation and infrastructure Rodney Knittel (hard K-sound).

 

 

The program was announced at the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting earlier this month in Chicago. Details on the application process will be shared through “iaafoundation.org”.

IDPH Director Says Omicron Variant Reason to Get COVID Vaccine

ONE GOOD REASON TO GET THE COVID-19 BOOSTER SHOT…THE OMICRON VARIANT SAYS THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH. 

 

IF YOU’VE HAD BOTH YOUR SHOTS BUT AREN’T REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT GETTING THE BOOSTER AS WELL, THE NEW VARIANT SHOULD MAKE YOU RECONSIDER SAYS STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay).

 

 

EZIKE SAYS EARLY REPORTS SHOW THAT ONCE BOOSTED, THE VACCINE STILL GIVES ABOUT 80 PERCENT PROTECTION AGAINST THE OMICRON VARIANT.

 

 

THE LATEST COUNT OF NEW COVID-19 CASES IN ILLINOIS IS 11-THOUSAND-858. THAT’S THE HIGHEST DAILY TOTAL IN OVER A YEAR. HOSPITALIZATIONS ALSO CONTINUE TO INCREASE.

Mt. Pulaski Schools Looking to Establish Its Own Mitigations

As downstate schools grow frustrated by the lack of information coming from the State of Illinois regarding COVID, more and more districts are exploring their own COVID mitigation strategies. 

 

Last week, school leaders across the state sat in on a Zoom call with IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and Mt. Pulaski Schools Superintendent Fred Lamkey says she claimed she gives her recommendations to the Governor and he considers them. 

 

 

School boards, including Mt. Pulaski, were miffed when the Governor reversed course on allowing districts the autonomy to make its COVID protocols. Lamkey says a recent surge of COVID in his district is actually providing a good barometer for how to handle an upswing in infections.

 

 

For Lamkey, this isn't a plan that would backtrack on any progress made in recent conversations with those at the State Board level or those within IDPH. He also says it's a good opportunity to prove to those leaders and those in the Governor's office they are capable of keeping kids and staff safe through this pandemic.

 

 

Lamkey also believes this is something his district should be doing anyway to always be ready should the local control component be returned to schools. 

 

Mt. Pulaski junior high school students went remote the remainder of the first semester due to COVID challenges. The Mt. Pulaski first semester wraps up next Tuesday. 

Off Abnormally Warm Wednesday, Winter's Cold Not Close

A white Christmas is looking less and less likely with each passing day.

 

That's according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Ed Shimon in Lincoln. So if we aren't going to have a white Christmas, when will the traditional cold arrive? Many won't be heartbroken to hear it may not come until January, possibly even February.

 

 

The La Nina weather pattern combined with a weakened polar vortex is creating the above normal temperature patterns we've been in most of the winter and Shimon says it won't last all winter but for the time being, enjoy these above-normal trends.

 

 

According to Shimon, the precipitation trends are showing above-normal precipitation and that could show itself in the form of snow, likely ice at some point, and lots of rain.

 

 

Shimon indicates outlooks are showing above normal temperature trends into the spring. 

Sen. Durbin Calls for Passage of Build Back Better Legislation After Deadly Tornados

On the heels of a deadly tornado that claimed 74 lives, Illinois's Senior Senator calls for support of the climate change provisions in the House-passed Build Back Better Act.

 

During a speech on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said although there is no apparent connection between the deadly tornado and climate change, scientists say climate change is making weather patterns more 'volatile and destructive.'

 

 

The historic tornado swept through Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. Officials report 109 people are still unaccounted for from Friday's Tornado.

Wednesday Marked One-Year Anniversary of First COVID Vaccine in Illinois

TODAY MARKS THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE COVID-19 VACCINE BEING AVAILABLE IN ILLINOIS. 

 

MORE THAN 18 MILLION DOSES HAVE BEEN ADMINISTERED IN ILLINOIS OVER THE PAST YEAR, AND 63 PERCENT OF ALL STATE RESIDENTS ARE NOW FULLY VACCINATED. STILL, WE CAN DO BETTER SAYS STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay).

 

 

EZIKE SAYS THERE ARE STILL PLENTY OF PEOPLE WHO NEED TO BE VACCINATED.

 

 

EZIKE URGES THOSE WHO HAVEN’T GOTTEN THEIR SHOTS TO TALK TO THEIR DOCTOR ABOUT ANY CONCERNS. ON AVERAGE, MORE THAN 67 THOUSAND DOSES ARE ADMINISTERED EACH DAY.

Midwest Food Bank on Standby for Food Relief to Tornado Victims

After a historic tornado tore through five states last Friday, leaving 74 dead, the Midwest Food Bank is preparing to send disaster relief to those in need.

 

The death toll continues to rise in states like Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee, where one tornado was tracked for over 200 miles. The Midwest Food Bank is partnering with The Salvation Army to send seven semi loads of family food boxes to those in need. Tara Ingham is with the Midwest Food Bank.

 

 

One of the tornadoes, classified as an EF-3, wreaked havoc on an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, leaving six dead in its path.

Illinois State Police Launching FOID Kiosks

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS LAUNCHING FOID CARD KIOSKS. 

 

THERE ARE NOW THREE MANNED KIOSKS AROUND THE STATE…AT STATE POLICE OFFICES IN LOCKPORT, SPRINGFIELD AND DUQUOIN. TROOPER JOSH ROBINSON SAYS THEY WILL SERVE AS ANOTHER OPTION FOR THOSE WHO DON’T WANT TO GO THROUGH THE FOID APPLICATION OR RENEWAL PROCESS ONLINE.

 

 

ROBINSON SAYS STAFF WILL BE ABLE TO HELP WITH THINGS LIKE THE FOID CARD PHOTO OR CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS.

 

 

THE KIOSKS ARE OPEN MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY FROM EITHER EIGHT TO FOUR OR EIGHT-THIRTY TO FOUR-THIRTY BUT WILL BE CLOSED OVER THE LUNCH HOUR.

Monticello Schools Superintendent Asking for Patience During Recent COVID Surge

A central Illinois school leader is asking his community for patience as his district navigates a surge in COVID cases.

 

Last week, Monticello Schools Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman sent a letter to parents sympathizing with frustrations of the increase in quarantined students with COVID or those as close contacts. He says this stems from a 500-percent increase in COVID cases in the last month in Piatt County.

 

 

For Dr. Zimmerman, he has heard a lot on both sides of the frustration spectrum and is encouraging parents to be patient with the district and its staff. He says they are as frustrated as parents but is encouraging everyone to remember they'll get through this.

 

 

Dr. Zimmerman is hoping to make it through the week and make it to Christmas break starting Friday after school. 

 

 

The latest data from the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department shows 319 total active cases in its two-county area though the department doesn't track the breakdown of cases in the schools. 

 

The 319 active cases top the highest registered case totals from last November of 253. 

 

The Health Department notes it does not have the data at this time to determine if active cases are from the Delta or Omicron strains though the Delta variant has been detected in its area. 

Exelon Wraps Up Annual Employee Giving Campaign, Makes First Contributions

The Exelon Nuclear Power Station recently wrapped up its annual employee giving campaign and recently made contributions to a couple of local non-profits.

 

Bret Naumann with Exelon explains employees make pledges throughout the year and those are deducted from their paychecks and then distributed back into the community. Recently, The Vault in Clinton and The Neighborhood Care Center were recipients of sizeable contributions.

 

 

In addition to the annual financial contributions Exelon makes, the company and its employees annually give of their time through volunteer efforts. Naumann says one of the focuses in the last few years for them has been Kiwanis Park in Clinton.

 

 

Naumann also points out they also do a United Way match where they do a 50-cent match for donations raised where they give back to local United Way chapters. 

Trucker Shortage Continues

A truck driver shortage continues throughout the nation and in Illinois.

 

 

Don Schaefer is with the Springfield-based Mid-West Truckers Association, which represents 4,100 members in 15 states.

State Climatologist Discusses December Tornados

THE ILLINOIS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST SAYS DECEMBER TORNADOS ARE UNCOMMON, BUT NOT RARE. 

 

THERE HAVE BEEN ABOUT 96 TORNADOS OCCURRING IN THE MONTH OF DECEMBER IN ILLINOIS BETWEEN 1950 AND 2020, SO THEY DO HAPPEN SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD.

 

 

FORD SAYS THAT’S LIKELY BECAUSE PEOPLE AREN’T AS ALERT FOR TORNADOS IN THE WINTER, AND TORNADOS ARE HARDER TO SEE SINCE IT GETS DARK SO EARLY. THE LAST BIG DECEMBER TORNADOS IN ILLINOIS WERE IN 2018 AND 2015.

 

 

FORD SAYS THERE HAVE BEEN ABOUT 96 DECEMBER TORNADOS REPORTED IN ILLINOIS FROM 1950 TO 2020.

More Illinoisans Are Getting COVID Tested Than Ever Before

MORE PEOPLE ARE GETTING TESTED FOR COVID-19 THAN EVER BEFORE. 

 

THE NUMBER OF TESTS RUN HAS SOARED THIS MONTH, HITTING A PANDEMIC HIGH OF NEARLY 234-THOUSAND ON SATURDAY. TESTING, SOCIAL DISTANCING, GETTING VACCINATED, AND CONTINUING TO WEAR A MASK IS STILL VITALLY IMPORTANT AS CASES RISE SAYS GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER.

 

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS STRESSING THE IMPORTANCE OF STILL WEARING A MASK AND GETTING VACCINATED.

 

 

THE LATEST DAILY TOTALS INCLUDE SEVEN-THOUSAND-930 NEW CASES AND 28 ADDITIONAL DEATHS. OVER 36-HUNDRED COVID PATIENTS ARE CURRENTLY IN THE HOSPITAL.

Gov. Pritzker Discusses Presidential Run

Is there another office Governor JB Pritzker wants to run for outside of Illinois?

 

The New York Times reported that Pritzker has spoken with people about running for President if the opportunity arises. So even before Pritzker can face a reelection bid in Illinois is the Governor considering a run at the White House?

 

 

Pritzker says he loves his job and is ready to run for Governor again.

Warner Library Announces Smithsonian Exhibit Coming in January

Starting January 3, a special exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution will be at the Warner Library in Clinton for five weeks for the public to view.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Business Manager of the Library, Samantha Rusk told Regional Radio the exhibit called "Voices and Votes: Democracy in America." It is a traveling exhibit and Clinton will be its fifth of six different stops.

 

 

According to Rusk, the exhibit showcases how democracy in America came to be and the process of voting and its importance.

 

 

Rusk says the caliber of exhibit coming to the library starting January 3 will be to the caliber of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution or a Chicago museum. She is very much looking forward to this being in Clinton for the community and surrounding communities.

 

 

The exhibit will also encompass youth activities at the library for the month of January. Children's Librarian Corey Campbell indicates they will offer a program that will engage the kids in the voting process so they can watch how democracy works.

 

 

The library will also be hosting several events that center around this exhibit. Rusk says there are four in-person events that kick off with an unveiling celebration on Thursday, January 6.

 

 

There is a lot more going on in conjunction with this exhibit. You can get more information by following the Warner Library on Facebook or by calling them at 217-935-5174 or visiting vwarner.org. 

University of Illinois Extension Nutrition Educator Discusses Pros, Cons of Meal Kit Delivery Services

The meal kit delivery services are growing in popularity and a University of Illinois Nutrition Educator has an upcoming program that highlights the pros and cons of these meals.

 

Caitlin Mellendorf is a nutrition educator at the University of Illinois Extension in DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties and indicates these are very convenient for the experience of cooking and minimizing the time it takes to prepare these meals.

 

 

Consider portions of these meal kits. One of the benefits of these programs is the reduction in food waste. Mellendorf encourages trying new things in these meal kits.

 

 

While delicious and there are lots of proteins and nutrients in these meals, Mellendorf notes one of the drawbacks of them is they are very high in sodium.

 

 

Additionally, while the kits are a great way to reduce food waste, they are only increasing the food packaging waste with the plastics and cardboard and ice packets they ship in. Mellendorf also notes while you are reducing food preparation time, you are paying for that.

 

 

If a meal service is something you've been considering, Mellendorf encourages giving it a try and seeing how you like it. 

 

This will be a program the Extension writes for the Illinois Association for Home and Community Education and its members. 

Tri-Valley Superintendent Discusses New Role at Bloomington District 87

Tri-Valley Schools Superintendent Dr. David Mouser was selected as the next superintendent for Bloomington District 87 in late November.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Dr. Mouser told Regional Radio News he thinks the world of that district and felt it was time for a change after 25 years in the Tri-Valley district.

 

 

Now begins the transition for Dr. Mouser to prepare himself for his new role in Bloomington but to also continue to keep his focus on his current district and soon he will have to help transition his replacement.

 

 

According to Dr. Mouser, the Tri-Valley Board of Education will interview two of its principals in hopes of finding an internal candidate to take the reigns of Dr. Mouser.

 

 

Dr. Mouser calls the outpouring of support overwhelming from the Tri-Valley community and the encouragement they have shown him since it was announced he would be moving on to District 87 in November. 

Gov. Pritzker Issuing Disaster Proclamation for Central, Southern Illinois Counties Hit By Weekend Storms

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ISSUING A DISASTER PROCLAMATION FOR SEVERAL CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ILLINOIS COUNTIES HIT BY THE RECENT STORMS. 

 

HIGH SPEED WINDS DOWNED POWER LINES AND TREES AND SIX TORNADOS WERE REPORTED IN ILLINOIS, INCLUDING THE ONE THAT HIT AN AMAZON WAREHOUSE IN EDWARDSVILLE, KILLING SIX PEOPLE. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE PROCLAMATION EXPEDITES THE STATE'S ABILITY TO PROVIDE RESOURCES TO AREAS THAT NEED THE MOST HELP.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS HE'S WORKING WITH THE WHITE HOUSE TO MAKE SURE FEDERAL RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE AS WELL, AND THANKS ALL THE COMMUNITY GROUPS AND VOLUNTEERS THAT HAVE STEPPED UP TO ASSIST.

 

 

COUNTIES COVERED BY THE DISASTER PROCLAMATION INCLUDE MADISON, SANGAMON, PIKE, KANKAKEE, JERSEY, WOODFORD, EFFINGHAM, FAYETTE, COLES, BOND AND MORE.

Congressman Davis' Opioid Bill Passes House

The Opioid Prescription Verification Act of 2021, a federal bill crafted by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville has passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 410-15. The bill is intended to reduce prescription shopping and curb sales of illegally obtained opioids.

 

As amended, Davis says it will encourage the expanded use of electronic prescribing which is an effective tool to combat illicit sales of opioids, and curb prescription shopping.

 

 

The bill was inspired by a meeting Davis had with the Normal Police Department after a case they worked where prescription shoppers illegally obtained over 300 opioid pills that would be sold on the black market, contributing to the opioid crisis.

TS Institute on Making Christmas Affordable

The holidays can be a stressful time, but the TS Institute says you can reduce some of that worry with a budget.

 

Connie Unruh with the TS Institute indicates a good way to plan for holiday shopping is by opening a Christmas account at your local bank.

 

 

Unruh notes thrift stores are also good options to save money on Christmas gifts. She says there are many different ways to obtain gifts from brick and mortar resale stores to online marketplaces.

 

 

Unruh says with budgeting it all comes down to how much money is coming in and then assigning it to where you want it to go.

Monticello Schools to Explore Selling Lincoln School

Since closing Lincoln School in Monticello, the Clinton YMCA has been utilizing the space to host before and after school programming but the school district has maintained ownership of it and they may be looking to sell it soon.

 

Dr. Vic Zimmerman is the Superintendent of Monticello Schools and indicates if they can get a good value for the building, they will likely sell it.

 

 

The bid documents could be approved this week with a bid opening in early February. 

Above Normal Temperature Almost Certain for December, Early January

We could see record-setting warmth this week in central Illinois and that is only going to set the table for an extended period of above-normal temperatures for this time of the year.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates we are solidly in a pattern that is going to trend above normal for at least the next month. While not as strong, there are trends of above-normal precipitation.

 

 

The peak of La Nina is here, according to Shimon. Once we get into the new year and mid-January, the strength of La Nina will begin to decrease.

 

 

Last year at this time, similar forecasts were being made but Shimon doesn't believe there is nearly the correlation between last year and this year.

 

 

He notes the impacts of a La Nina weather pattern can also be dependent on the cool weather in the North Atlantic, and when its patterns are weaker, it can make La Nino more impactful. 

Look Out for Counterfeit Jerseys, Autographs

If you are shopping online for a jersey to support your favorite sports team, the Better Business Bureau wants you to be wary of sites selling counterfeit merchandise. These sites will claim they are selling items that are officially licensed but are priced in some cases hundreds of dollars less than what an official product would cost.

 

That should be an immediate red flag, according to BBB Investigator Don O'Brien. He says another area in which you want to be cautious is autographs.

 

 

O'Brien says if you are unsure about whether you are dealing with official merchandise sites, contact the team, NHL, MLB, NFL, or other leagues directly for help.

University of Illinois Extension Looking for More Master Gardeners

There are over 2,600 master gardeners in Illinois and the extension is looking for more says State Master Gardener Specialist Candice Hart.

 

 

Training option availability varies by county. For more information or to apply, contact your local Illinois Extension Office at go.illinois.edu/ExtensionOffice.

Illinois EMA Reminding of State's School Safety Hotline

THE ILLINOIS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY IS REMINDING FAMILIES ABOUT THE STATE’S SCHOOL SAFETY HOTLINE.

 

ANYONE WHO SEES OR HEARS SOMETHING CONCERNING CAN REPORT IT TO SAFE TWO HELP ILLINOIS VIA TEXT, PHONE CALL OR ONLINE. THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW SAYS I-EMA SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK.

 

 

SAFE TWO HELP ILLINOIS IS AN OUTLET FOR REPORTING SUSPECTED VIOLENCE, OR TO TALK ABOUT BULLYING, SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY SAYS I-EMA SPOKESPERSON REBECCA CLARK.

 

 

SAFE TWO HELP ISN’T JUST FOR SUSPECTED SCHOOL VIOLENCE, STUDENTS CAN ALSO REACH OUT ABOUT DEPRESSION, BULLYING, ANXIETY AND SELF-HARM. THE WEBSITE IS: SAFE, THE NUMBER 2, HELP IL DOT COM, OR TEXT: 72332.

Gov. Pritzker Sigsn Law Expanding Reimagine Public Safety Act

MORE COMMUNITIES WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION GRANTS UNDER A BILL SIGNED FRIDAY BY GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER.

 

THE MEASURE IS A FOLLOW UP TO THE REIMAGINE PUBLIC SAFETY ACT, AND WILL BRING FUNDING TO AREAS ESPECIALLY STRUGGLING WITH GUN CRIMES. THE IDEA IS TO GET TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM SAYS CHICAGO SENATOR ROBERT PETERS.

 

 

THE NEW LAW BUILDS ON EFFORTS TO TACKLE THE PROBLEM AT THE SOURCE, GIVING LOCAL GROUPS THE MONEY THEY NEED TO OFFER PREVENTION SERVICES AND PROGRAMS SAYS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JULIANA STRATTON.

 

 

THE LAW GIVES THE NEW OFFICE OF FIREARM PREVENTION MORE FLEXIBILITY TO AWARD GRANTS.

Fallen Tree of Honor

ILLINOIS RESIDENTS MAY HAVE NOTICED A FEW LARGE TREES POPPING UP AROUND THE STATE. DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON, AMERICA'S GOLD STAR FAMILIES WILL DISPLAY THREE TREES THROUGHOUT ILLINOIS. A-G-S-F'S FRANCES(FRANCIS) MADDOX TELLS WHERE THOSE TREES CAN BE FOUND.

 

 

EACH TREE WILL HAVE 300 HAND CRAFTED ORNAMENTS ADDED AS A DEDICATION TO THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR OUR NATION. MADDOX ADDS THE TREES ARE SCHEDULED TO STAY UP UNTIL THE SECOND WEEKEND OF JANUARY.

COVID Cases Continue to Increase in Illinois

NEW CASES OF COVID-19 CONTINUE TO CLIMB, WITH MORE THAN 49 THOUSAND REPORTED OVER THE PAST SEVEN DAYS. 

 

THAT'S A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE OVER THE 42-THOUSAND-PLUS REPORTED THE WEEK BEFORE AND THE 21 THOUSAND THE WEEK BEFORE THAT. AN ADDITIONAL 266 PEOPLE HAVE DIED AND MORE THAN 32-HUNDRED COVID PATIENTS ARE CURRENTLY IN THE HOSPITAL, THE HIGHEST NUMBER SINCE BACK IN JANUARY. GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS EVERYONE NEEDS TO CONTINUE TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS.

 

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER REMINDS COMMUNITIES THAT THEY CAN TAKE ACTION AS WELL.

 

 

WINNEBAGO COUNTY IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS HAS ISSUED A DISASTER PROCLAMATION BECAUSE OF LARGE INCREASES IN NEW CASES AND HOSPITALIZATIONS.

Clinton Junior High School Goes Remote For Next Week

Clinton Junior High School students will be on remote learning next week as COVID cases in the school are spiking.

 

Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles notified parents Saturday afternoon that spikes in cases and quarantined students will result in the building being in remote learning next week.

 

Next week is the final week of school before Christmas break.

 

Students will return to class in-person on Tuesday, January 4.

Clinton Chamber Director Encouraging Community to Support Local Businesses

As the Christmas shopping season kicks in to hire gear with the big day near, the Clinton Chamber of Commerce is encouraging local residents to get out and support and our local businesses.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Marian Brisard encouraged the community to support local businesses in Clinton both downtown and across the community. 

 

 

The Chamber has a directory of its member businesses as well as non-profits that you can consider for your end-of-year giving. Just visit clintonilchamber.org. 

Lincoln YMCA to Hold Monday Ribbon Cutting, Open House

Lincoln YMCA ribbon cutting, and open house will take place on Monday, December 13 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at 719 Wyatt Avenue in Lincoln. 

 

Updates and improvements have been made to the building thanks to a generous donation from The Independent Order of the Odd Fellows. Membership to the facility will offer access to new fitness equipment, weights, and the gymnasium. After the first of the year, the Y is planning to offer swim lessons at Lincoln College and add group fitness classes.

 

To celebrate the new building, the YMCA is offering a $0 joining fee to all who join the facility from December 13-December 20, 2021. There will also be giveaways, tours, games and activities for kids, and snacks. Angie Sowle, CEO, YMCA of Springfield, said in a statement they are looking forward to welcoming members and the community to the facility and are excited at the expanded opportunities they offer.

 

The YMCA and Lincoln Memorial Hospital continue to move forward with the “Advance the Mission” capital campaign with the intention to build a new YMCA in the future. 

 

Dolan Dalpoas, YMCA board member and Lincoln Memorial Hospital president and chief executive officer, said in a statement the facility represents so much to this community. He called it a great space for health and fitness, but it is also a space for families to bond, for children to grow and for neighbors to connect.

State Fire Marshall Warns Of Fires During Holidays

THE ILLINOIS STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE IS REMINDING THE PUBLIC ABOUT FIRE SAFETY OVER THE HOLIDAYS.

 

MORE THAN ONE-THIRD OF HOME DECORATION FIRES ARE STARTED BY CANDLES SAYS FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ. AND, THE TOP THREE DAYS FOR CANDLE FIRES ARE CHRISTMAS DAY, NEW YEAR’S EVE AND NEW YEAR’S DAY.


 

HE HAS THIS ADVICE:

 

 

FULTZ ALSO RECOMMENDS MAKING SURE ALL LIGHT STRANDS ARE IN GOOD SHAPE, WITH NO WORN OR BROKEN AREAS AND TO MAKE SURE YOU DON’T HAVE TOO MANY STRANDS HOOKED TOGETHER AT ONCE.

Weekly Weather Summary

Scattered Friday night rains followed by a breezy Saturday will give way to what could be a record-setting warm-up next week.

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...

 

 

DeWitt County Museum to Hold Ribbon Cutting for New Porches

The DeWitt County Museum and CH Moore Homestead will host a special ribbon-cutting event this weekend to celebrate the successful execution of its 'Buy a Board' porch remodel campaign.

 

Director of the Museum, Joey Long tells Regional Radio they started this campaign a few years ago and were able to recently finish the project and they are celebrating that this weekend.

 

 

Long says the successful execution of the project was only possible thanks to the generosity of those that made an investment in it. She is very thankful for the support of those locally and those from afar that have ties to Clinton and DeWitt County.

 

The celebration is again Sunday from 2 pm to 5 pm. 

Minimal Rain Coming to Illinois This Week

Everyone is watching this rain system that is moving through the midwest but central Illinois weather officials say most of the severe weather is going to stay south.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln told Regional Radio News this system will only drop around a quarter-of-an-inch of rain in central Illinois.

 

 

While severe rain moves through the southern midwest, snow will be moving through the upper midwest, leaving Illinois sandwiched right between the two.

 

 

As we look to next week, it's going to warm up in central Illinois. Shimon says it'll be warm enough we could approach record highs for the day. 

 

 

The likelihood of the winter months trending above normal for temperatures and precipitation continues to strengthen with each passing day, according to Shimon. We'll have more on the longer-term outlooks next week on Regional Radio News. 

US Attorney for Central Illinois Approved

A US Attorney for the Central District of Illinois has finally been approved.

 

Greg Harris becomes the first black US Attorney in the district’s history. Harris’ nomination had been held up in the US Senate over a Republican objection to a voice vote for his approval and four others. US Senator Dick Durbin says it was 46 years ago for the last roll call vote to approve a US Attorney – and all Trump nominees were approved by a simple voice vote.

 

 

The Senate moved forward all nominations this week. Durbin says the only people being held back were from state’s with two Democratic Senators.

Sen. Durbin Credits Biden's American Rescue Plan

Illinois' Senior Senator says historic investments made under President Biden's Administration are allowing Americans to be more prepared when it comes to the new COVID-19 variant Omicron.

 

Speaking on the Senate floor, Senator Dick Durbin said investments from the American Rescue Plan are paying dividends in the public health sector.

 

 

According to Durbin, the plan provides more than one billion dollars in genomic sequencing, a process to analyze how the COVID-19 virus is evolving and spreading in real-time. Health officials say the funding allows them to track the new variant unlike the ones before.

Protecting Yourself While Shopping Online

AS YOU WRAP UP YOUR ONLINE HOLIDAY SHOPPING, A CONSUMER ECONOMICS EDUCATOR WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION OFFICE HAS SOME TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOURSELF AND YOUR WALLET. 

 

FOR STARTERS, U OF I EXTENSION’S KATHY SWEEDLER RECOMMENDS USING A CREDIT CARD RATHER THAN A DEBIT CARD.

 

 

OTHER ADVICE INCLUDES ONLY SHOPPING ONLINE WITH TRUSTED RETAILERS AND MAKING SURE THE BROWSER HAS THE LOCK SYMBOL OR READS “HTTPS” WHICH SIGNIFIES A SECURE CONNECTION. SWEEDLER SAYS YOU SHOULD ALSO CHECK BANK AND CARD STATEMENTS CAREFULLY FOR ANY UNUSUAL ACTIVITY.

 

 

SWEEDLER ALSO ADVISES ONLY BUYING ONLINE FROM TRUSTED RETAILERS AND MAKING SURE THE BAR ON TOP HAS THE LOCK SYMBOL OR THE WEB ADDRESS STARTS WITH “HTTPS,” SIGNALING THAT THE CONNECTION IS SECURE.

Illinois Firearm Deer Hunting Season Preliminary Harvest Totals Down from Last Year

HARVEST TOTALS WERE DOWN THIS YEAR FOR THE ANNUAL FIREARM DEER HUNTING SEASON. 

 

HUNTERS TOOK 71 THOUSAND 675 DEER OVER THE TWO WEEKENDS OF FIREARM SEASON IN ILLINOIS. THAT COMPARES TO MORE THAN 77 THOUSAND DEER HARVESTED LAST YEAR. STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SPOKESPERSON TIM SCHWEIZER LOOKS AHEAD:

 

 

SCHWEIZER SAYS THE BIGGEST DECLINES WERE DURING THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON.

 

 

THE MUZZLELOADER-ONLY DEER SEASON IS THIS WEEKEND AND ARCHERY SEASON CONTINUES THROUGH JANUARY 16TH. YOU CAN FIND MORE DATES AND OTHER INFORMATION ONLINE AT: HUNT ILLINOIS DOT ORG.

Dates Set for 2022 Illinois Pork Expo

The Illinois Pork Producers Association is ready to usher in Illinois Pork Expo 2022. Thomas Titus is the president-elect of the association.

 

 

A complete schedule available at ilpork.com. The event is taking place at the Bank of Springfield Center.

Tim Hoyt Retiring from Baum Chevy Buick

If you're one of the many regular customers at Baum Chevy Buick in Clinton, there's a good chance Tim Hoyt has helped you buy a car in the last 20-plus years.

 

Hoyt will be retiring at the end of next week and the community is invited out to send him off Friday at the dealership in Clinton. Hoyt, who was in the printing industry before coming to Baum Chevy Buick around 20-years ago, says it's been a pleasure to work with the community during that time.

 

 

Cars have certainly changed a lot since Hoyt started and he says the features on the vehicles always continue to be top-notch.

 

 

There will be a retirement celebration at the dealership Friday. Marketing Director for Baum Chevrolet Buick, Janell Baum-Thomas is inviting the community out to give Hoyt their best.

 

 

Again, Hoyt's retirement party is from 2 pm to 5 pm at the dealership.

 

Hoyt thanks his customers and community for their support of him in the last 21-and-a-half years. 

Clinton Police Chief Offers Holiday Shopping Tips

Whether that holiday shopping has been finished up or you still have errands to run, safety during the hustle and bustle of the busiest shopping season of the year is paramount.

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday says to use common sense when shopping and if possible, try to shop during the daylight hours.

 

 

With so many valuables new to your home, the Chief encourages keeping your homes locked, and as those gifts get unwrapped, conceal the boxes when they go to the trash can to not draw attention to the items that are in your home.

 

 

Much like vehicle burglaries, which in recent years are plaguing communities like Clinton, these are crimes of opportunity and these individuals are seeking anything they can trade for a dollar.

 

 

Chief Lowers says some of these tips may seem elementary but it is necessary to prevent becoming a victim.

Macon County Non-Profit Asking for Support During Season of Giving

As the season of giving continues, a Macon County non-profit is hoping you'll think of them.

 

The Decatur Area Arts Council helps promote local artists and Executive Director Jerry Johnson reminds area residents the DAAC does not receive tax dollars.

 

 

Located in downtown Decatur, the DAAC has costs to its building like any other business but they also do a lot to support and promote local artists. Johnson also adds they do a lot to promote the arts in the communities they serve at little or no cost.

 

 

For Johnson, not only do they offer programs to the community but they also try to pour support back into the community. He points out they participate in culturally diverse activities and target the underserved areas of their communities.

 

 

You can learn more about the giving opportunities through the Decatur Area Arts Council as well as its many programs by visiting decaturarts.org. 

Congressman Kinzinger Warns Russian Invasion of Eukraine Would be Biggest Conflict in Europe Since WWII

Cong. Adam Kinzinger says if Russia invades Ukraine, it will become the biggest military conflict in Europe since World War II. He says Ukraine is more ready to fight the Russians than it was when Russia invaded Crimea. Russian leader Vladimir Putin says he wants to keep Ukraine from joining NATO. Kinzinger says Putin wants to take Ukraine as part of a plan to rebuild the Soviet Union.

 

 

Kinzinger says if there is an invasion, the U.S. should put crippling economic sanctions on Russia and not just a slap on the wrist.

State Working to Address Staffing Shortages

Hospitalizations due to COVID 19 continue to rise as the state finds its first case of the Omicron variant. Currently, the state has more than 3,000 people in the hospital with coronavirus.

 

As more individuals become hospitalized there needs to be someone to care for them and Governor JB Pritzker says the state has been working with health care providers to address any staffing shortages.

 

 

The state reported 78 deaths one day this week. The highest statewide daily total since February.

State Announces Widening of I-57 Through Southern Illinois

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING THE NEXT PHASE OF WIDENING INTERSTATE-57 IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS.

 

THIS LATEST STEP WILL EXPAND NINE MILES OF I-57 TO SIX LANES FROM NORTH OF ILLINOIS 149 TO SOUTH OF ILLINOIS 154. OTHER WORK INCLUDES INSTALLING MEDIAN BARRIERS, RESURFACING EXISTING LANES AND ADDING RUMBLE STRIPS. STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY OMER OSMAN SAYS IT’S PART OF LARGER EFFORT TO IMPROVE THE VITAL FREIGHT CORRIDOR.

 

 

THE LATEST IMPROVEMENTS SET TO BEGIN IN JANUARY ARE PART OF A 268 MILLION DOLLAR EFFORT TO UPDATE A VITAL TRANSPORTATION CORRIDOR SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

THIS PHASE INCLUDES EXPANDING NINE MILES OF I-57 TO SIX LANES FROM NORTH OF ILLINOIS 149 TO SOUTH OF ILLINOIS 154, AS WELL AS REPLACING THE BRIDGES OVER THE BIG MUDDY RIVER.

Bizz Town Christmas Bazaar Event Huge Success

This last weekend, The Vault's Bizz Town kids hosted the third annual Christmas Bazaar and returned to an in-person format. 

 

Connie Unruh leads the community's junior high school students that participate in this program and she indicates this year's event was a huge success.

 

 

According to Unruh, several of her students are very technologically savvy and were able to purchase a Playstation 5. She says the raffle for that is going on until Dec. 19.

 

 

While the raffle of the Playstation 5 is still ongoing, the Christmas Bazaar netted The Vault roughly $2,000 but Unruh indicates the vendors as well as the students who sold things, were very pleased with the turnout by the community.

 

 

If you're interested in buying raffle tickets for the Playstation 5 giveaway, you can purchase those through thevaultclinton.org website, and in the scrolling menu at the homepage, a promotion for the Playstation 5 raffle will pop up. 

 

Unruh is looking forward to next year's event and is impressed with all the lessons the kids are getting. 

Social Security Sets Cost of Living Adjustment for 2022

Approximately 70 million Americans will see a 5.9% increase in their Social Security benefits and SSI payments in 2022.

 

Federal benefit rates increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). According to Jack Myers at Social Security, the CPI-W is a measure of inflation, so if things get more expensive, the CPI-W rises. Since 1975, the Social Security cost of living adjustment, or COLA, has been automatically tied to inflation.

 

 

When the Social Security COLA is announced, people often wonder about the Medicare Part B premium since it is deducted from the Social Security payment. Medicare recently announced that the standard Part B premium will be $170.10 in 2022 (up from 148.50 in 2021). Myers stresses there is no need to call to check on this increase.

 

 

According to Myers, Social Security will be mailing COLA notices throughout December, but the notice will be available within your mySocialSecurity message center in early December if you’d like to see it sooner. Your account had to have been established by November 17, 2021, to get this year’s COLA notice within your Message Center, but if you missed that deadline, there are still many other advantages to having your account. Create one at ssa.gov/myaccount. You can even sign up for text or e-mail alerts when a new notice arrives in your Message Center.

 

 

Myers says to look for the “Message Center Preferences” within your mySocialSecurity account to sign up for those alerts. Learn more about the 2022 COLA by visiting www.ssa.gov/cola. 

State Launches $42-Million Water Assistance Program for Low-Income Households

THE STATE IS LAUNCHING A NEW 42 MILLION DOLLAR WATER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FOR LOW-INCOME ILLINOISANS. 

 

THE EFFORT IS FOR THOSE FACING DISCONNECTION OR WHO HAVE 250 DOLLARS OR MORE IN OVERDUE WATER AND SEWER BILLS. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY ACTING DIRECTOR SYLVIA GARCIA SAYS TO QUALIFY, APPLICANTS NEED TO BE MAKING 200 PERCENT OF THE POVERTY LEVEL OR LESS.

 

 

THE IDEA IS TO KEEP FAMILIES CONNECTED TO WATER AND SEWER SERVICES SAYS GARCIA.

 

 

APPLICATIONS FOR WATER ASSISTANCE AND OTHER PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: HELP ILLINOIS FAMILIES DOT COM.

Historically Low Blood Supplies

The American Red Cross has put out another call for blood, with donations lagging and the agency hitting what is being described as a “historically low” blood supply. The holiday season is traditionally a slower time for donations, so the Red Cross wants to remind the community that their donations are essential to making sure patients requiring a transfusion don’t face a delay in care.

 

Joe Zydlo (ZID-low), the External Communications Manager for the American Red Cross Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region, says this is something they haven’t seen in about a decade.

 

 

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply of blood is available. Appointments can be made by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, on the Red Cross Blood Donor App, or by visiting redcrossblood.org

Illinois Farm Bureau Takes Aim at Closing Rural, Urban Divide

Closing the rural-urban divide is the goal of Illinois Farm Bureau policy. It’s something county delegates addressed at the IFB’s Annual Meeting in Chicago this week says the organization’s director of governmental affairs and commodities Mark Gebhards.

 

 

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton spoke with the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Committee Sunday. She highlighted the “Cultivating our Communities” initiative, where her office shares information about local farms across the state on social media.

Gov. Pritzker Says State Taking Steps to Address COVID Surge

AS COVID-19 CASES INCREASE, GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE STATE IS TAKING STEPS TO TACKLE THE PROBLEM.

 

IT’S MOSTLY THE DELTA VARIANT LEADING THE SURGE SAYS THE GOVERNOR, WHO HAS BEEN TALKING WITH HOSPITAL LEADERS AROUND THE STATE.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THEY ARE ALSO TRYING TO ADDRESS THE SHORTAGE OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS. THE LATEST DAILY TOTALS INCLUDE MORE THAN SEVEN THOUSAND NEW CASES AND 78 ADDITIONAL DEATHS. THAT’S THE HIGHEST ONE-DAY DEATH TOLL SINCE FEBRUARY.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS WHILE OMICRON IS LIKELY ON THE WAY, IT’S THE DELTA VARIANT THAT’S CURRENTLY CAUSING THE MOST NEW INFECTIONS.

Gov. Pritzker Has No Plans for Private Sector Vaccine Mandate Like New York City

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HE’S NOT PLANNING TO INSTITUTE A NEW COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATE LIKE THE ONE IN NEW YORK CITY.

 

NEW YORK MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO IS ENACTING A MANDATE FOR PRIVATE-SECTOR WORKERS. THE GOVERNOR WAS ASKED IF THAT’S SOMETHING WE COULD SEE IN ILLINOIS.

 

 

JUST OVER 66 PERCENT OF ILLINOISANS AGES FIVE AND UP ARE NOW FULLY VACCINATED. OVER THE PAST WEEK, AN AVERAGE OF NEARLY 70 THOUSAND DOSES ARE BEING ADMINISTERED EACH DAY.

COVID Vaccination Bills Proposed in Illinois House

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE PROPOSING LEGISLATION REGARDING THE COVID-19 VACCINE. 

 

TEUTOPOLIS REPRESENTATIVE ADAM NIEMERG (knee-merg) HAS INTRODUCED THE “FREEDOM ACT,” MAKING IT UNLAWFUL TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SOMEONE BECAUSE OF THEIR VACCINE STATUS.

 

 

NIEMERG SAYS THIS ISN’T ABOUT BEING AGAINST THE VACCINE, IT’S ABOUT PERSONAL CHOICE.

 

 

ON MONDAY, REPRESENTATIVE JONATHAN CARROLL OF NORTHBROOK INTRODUCED A BILL REQUIRING THOSE WHO HAVE NOT BEEN VACCINATED AGAINST COVID TO PAY FOR THEIR OWN MEDICAL BILLS IF THEY CONTRACT THE VIRUS.

City Treasurer: Police, Fire Pensions Could Be Fully Funded in Next Two or Three Years

It appears to be good news all around for the City of Clinton's levy situation like Monday night at the regular City Council meeting, City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter offered a very positive report.

 

Among the positives in the report was the fact the annual levy rate is decreasing. Additionally, the IMRF fund is doing well as it's only been about a decade since the City has been a part of that program.

 

 

Additionally, Lichtenwalter says the police and fire pensions are in exceptional shape. He reminds this is not a claim many communities at all in Illinois can make at this time. 

 

 

Lichtenwalter anticipates those funds being fully funded in the next few years. Commissioner of Finance Tom Edmonds noted the City has also not levied for the City's self-funded insurance fund.

 

 

The Council Monday night approved purchase agreements for out-lots on Illini Drive for the coming subdivision. They approved the purchase of new radios for the fire department and approved the hiring of the new City Administrator for the retiring Tim Followell. 

Atlanta Public Library Offering '12 Days of Christmas' Programs

Tuesday afternoon starts '12 days of Christmas' themed after-school activities at the Atlanta Public Library.

 

Juliana Nordman with the Atlanta Public Library on the WHOW Morning Show told Regional Radio News Monday she feels the Tuesday kick-off program is one of the best they are offering.

 

 

Other themes of the '12 days of Christmas' include a bingo night and movie nights. A full list of the events is on the Atlanta Public Library website.

 

 

The programs are from 4 pm to 6 pm in Atlanta. Nordman says with their Halloween activities, the community indicated to them they would like programs to start later, so in an effort to react accordingly, they moved the times back in the afternoon. 

 

The library website is atlantapld.org. 

University of Illinois Extension Nutrition Educator Discusses Managing Eating Habits During Holidays

The holidays are a time for gatherings of all types and with those gatherings comes some savory foods.

 

Holiday foods are always delicious but oftentimes challenge the health-conscious eater. Caitlin Mellendorf at the University of Illinois Extension offices in DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties says to consider how you approach food all year and offer fruit or vegetable options in the buffet of choices.

 

 

Mellendorf says while it's good to be conscious about your diet and eating habits, it is not a bad thing to partake in that recipe that you enjoy that only comes around this time of the year.

 

 

The holiday guilt of eating a meal that perhaps wasn't planned or went against the diet we've set out for ourselves can be emotionally problematic. Mellendorf encourages sorting through your feelings on why you feel guilty for eating those snacks or meals that you think you shouldn't have.

 

 

Generally, Mellendorf points the public to the U of I Extension's website for more helpful tips but she says the website is currently under renovation so in the meantime, find the DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt County Extension offices on Facebook where they are flowing a lot of good information to lately. 

State Police Touts Further Reduction of FOID Card Backlog

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS ANNOUNCING A SIGNIFICANT DECREASE IN THE BACKLOG OF FOID CARDS THAT NEED TO BE PROCESSED. 

 

THANKS TO A LOT OF HARD WORK AND HIRING MORE ANALYSTS, I-S-P TROOPER JASON WILSON SAYS THEY'VE MANAGED TO GET THE TIME IT TAKES TO RENEW A FOID CARD DOWN TO A LITTLE OVER A MONTH.

 

 

WILSON SAYS THEY UNDERSTAND HOW FRUSTRATING THE WAIT HAS BEEN FOR FOID CARD HOLDERS AND APPLICANTS BUT THAT THIS IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.

 

 

WILSON SAYS STREAMLINING THE PROCESS AND ADDING MORE ANALYSTS HAS REALLY HELPED CHIP AWAY AT THE BACKLOG.

Round Two of Illinois Rental Payment Program Now Open

APPLICATIONS FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE IN ILLINOIS ARE NOW BEING ACCEPTED. 

 

THIS IS THE SECOND ROUND FOR THE UP TO 25 THOUSAND DOLLAR GRANTS AND ITS ESTIMATED THE MONEY WILL HELP MORE THAN 32 THOUSAND ADDITIONAL HOUSEHOLDS. STATE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KRISTIN FAUST EXPLAINS WHO IS ELIGIBLE.

 

 

TO GET STARTED, VISIT THE WEBSITE: ILLINOIS HOUSING HELP DOT ORG. THERE YOU WILL ALSO FIND A LIST OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS THAT CAN HELP WITH THE APPLICATION PROCESS.

 

 

FAUST SAYS NEARLY 300 MILLION DOLLARS IS AVAILABLE AND CERTAIN INCOME GUIDELINES MUST BE MET TO QUALIFY. THE PROGRAM CLOSES JANUARY NINTH.

New Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders Chair Selected

The Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Committee has a new chair for 2022. Aaron Mitchell of Winnebago County was elected to the position over the weekend at the IFB Annual Meeting in Chicago.

 

 

Wayne Gehrke of Kane County is finishing up his term as 2021 young leader chair.

The Vault Asking for Support During Season of Giving

A Clinton non-profit aimed at providing a safe environment for youth is asking for your support during this season of giving.

 

The Vault in Clinton for a few years now has been providing a safe environment for the community's youth and leadership is hoping as you consider where to make yearly charitable contributions, you'll consider them.

 

 

That's Executive Director, Tammy Wilson who says when you give a financial contribution to The Vault, those dollars go right back into the programs they offer for the community's youth.

 

 

According to Wilson, they are seeing a tremendous amount of interest coming from the youth of the community as both high school and junior high school students consistently turn out for programs that are being offered but also just coming to hang out.

 

 

Wilson also points they could use volunteers to help mentor the students. The Vault will train you in the things you need to know. They also need help in general maintenance for the upkeep of the building. 

 

Learn more about supporting The Vault by finding them on Facebook or by vising thevaultclinton.org. 

Kirby Medical Center Discontinues COVID Testing, Puts Piatt County Schools in Pickle

Students in Piatt County schools that need COVID testing for school purposes do not have a lot of options after Kirby Medical Center in Monticello discontinued a COVID testing program in partnership with its schools.

 

Dave Remmert is the Executive Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department and tells Regional Radio News they are looking at pushing out information about the availability of take-home test kits that are available over-the-counter.

 

 

According to Remmert, as kids 5-11 years old become eligible for their second dose of the vaccine, the availability of that second dose is becoming a problem.

 

 

As booster shots become more available, Remmert says you can schedule those through the health department or you can go through your physician or local pharmacy.

 

 

Last week, Remmert told Regional Radio they are seeing most of the COVID cases in DeWitt County in the unvaccinated populations. 

Old Capitol Work Nearing Completion

Illinois has two capitol buildings in Springfield.

 

The oldest one dates to 1840 and was used for 36 years before the “new” Capitol building was constructed. A portion of the old capitol has been undergoing some renovation work on the dome and other parts of the roof. Justin Blandford with the Department of Natural Resources say that work is about wrapped up.

 

 

The Old State Capitol is open and ready for visitors.

Illinois Farm Bureau Expects Call-To-Action Over Waters of US

A call-to-action forthcoming for Illinois Farm Bureau members. The issue involves final rules for WOTUS or Waters of the U.S.

 

 

Mark Gebhards serves as Director of Governmental Affairs and Commodities for Illinois Farm Bureau.

Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation Class of 2023 Doing Work

The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation Class of 2023 putting in work. It’s also about the fellowship for the fellows says IALF’s Todd Lowery.

 

 

There are 19 fellows in the class of 2023. Those interested in participating in the class of 2025 can find out more at agleadership.org. The program was established in 1981.

COVID Could Cause Volatility with Markets

According to an Illinois financial advisor, the new COVID-19 variant Omicron (OH-muck-rahn) could bring market volatility to wall street.

 

Kevin Kingston with Savant Wealth Management said market volatility with a new variety spreading is two-fold.

 

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first cases in the United States last week. On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 617 up points at the close, the biggest one-day gain since last March.

Weekly Weather Summary

Other than some light rains that rolled through Illinois mid-week, it was overall a pleasant weather week. University of Illinois Extension's Todd Gleason has more on the weekend and the week ahead.

 

 

Time Running Out to for Medicare Part D Open Enrollment

If you are a local senior hoping to meet with the newest Community Care System Advocate in DeWitt County about Medicare Part D open enrollment, your options are going to be limited.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Mike Warner with Community Care Systems at the DeWitt County Friendship told Regional Radio his schedule is full up to the deadline Tuesday. He encourages anyone who may need assistance to go through Medicare directly.

 

 

The open enrollment period ends Tuesday, December 7. Warner says once the open enrollment period ends Tuesday, he'll start working again on license plate discounts, energy assistance, and Medicare enrollments. 

New DCDC Executive Director Promotes Shopping Local This Holiday Season

As those Christmas lists come in from children, friends, and family, a local business advocate is asking you to consider doing as much shopping as possible locally.

 

New Executive Director of the DeWitt County Development Council Curt Homann says dollars spent locally circulate up to six times before they leave the local area.

 

 

Homann was on the WHOW Morning Show Friday promoting REV grant recipient Ryan Goldman of Gold Standard Barber Shop in Clinton. He points to the growth Gold Standard has seen in the three years as what can be accomplished when you support local businesses. 

Blue Ridge Schools Increase Substitute Teacher Pay

As school districts across the State of Illinois grapple with trying to not only find full-time teachers for its classrooms, they struggle to find substitute teachers.

 

The shortage more recently has forced shutdowns of schools for brief periods but in recent years, districts have increased pay for substitutes. The increase in daily pay is a measure Blue Ridge Schools are evaluating according to Superintendent Dr. Hilary Stanifer.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer points out Blue Ridge was one of the first to make this adjustment almost five years ago and for a time was one of the highest paying districts for substitute teachers. 

 

 

According to Dr. Stanifer, there are spots throughout the school year that cannot be covered by substitutes and it stretches their staff even thinner than they already are.

 

 

While unsure if the increase in pay for substitutes will make much of an impact, she believes it will make things more attractive for potential subs to consider Blue Ridge. She notes they are willing to work with just about anyone's preferences and schedules based on their situations and comfortability. 

State Climatologist Warns of Weather Hoaxes

Don’t fall for that online weather hoax. State Climatologist Trent Ford says you start seeing those as we move into the winter season—those posts that predict major snow events with booming headlines, but he says you should consider the source.

 

 

Ford has served as State Climatologist since 2019.

State Climatologist Calls December Outlook 'Boring'

State Climatologist Trent Ford calls the December outlook “boring” for Illinois.

 

 

The first day of meteorological winter was December 1. Astronomical winter begins Dec. 21.

Governor Asked About Masks Again

The Omicron variant hasn’t been detected yet in Illinois, but Governor JB Pritzker says its only a matter of time before it’s here - if it isn’t already. He says mitigations like indoor mask mandates aren’t going away anytime soon.

 

 

Hospitalizations have increased by more than a thousand statewide since November 4.

Local COVID Cases Up in DeWitt, Piatt Counties

Local COVID numbers are up in DeWitt and Piatt Counties and most cases are stemming from the unvaccinated.

 

According to DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Executive Director Dave Remmert, Piatt County's numbers are now outpacing DeWitt County numbers.

 

 

Remmert indicates the trends of COVID are remaining consistent - anyone can get this disease but the most severe cases continue to be in the older populations and those with comorbidities.

 

 

According to Remmert, while testing has been widely available for nearly the entirety of the pandemic, as the cold and flu season approaches, more people are getting tested because they have symptoms of other illnesses.

The Vault 'Bizz Town' Kids Gearing Up for Saturday's Christmas Bazaar

This weekend, junior high students at The Vault in Clinton will be hosting its third annual Christmas Bazaar. 

 

The event last year went virtual but is returning to in-person this year. Executive Director of The Vault Tammy Wilson on the WHOW Morning Show told Regional Radio the event is from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday at The Vault in downtown Clinton.

 

 

An exciting up for raffle this weekend will be a Playstation 5, games, controllers, and a year subscription to PlaystationPlus.

 

 

The junior high students in Bizz Town have created their own fashionings to sell. The proceeds from the Christmas Bazaar Saturday will go back to The Vault. Get more information by finding The Vault on Facebook. 

Piatt County Non-Profit Readies for Giving Season

Non-profits across the country are entering a very important time for them.

 

The Christmas season is a season of giving for many as individuals, families, and businesses make sizeable charitable contributions to non-profits in their communities and those near and dear to them.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, incoming Executive Director of Willow Tree Missions in Piatt County, Jill Maxey told Regional Radio News they hope central Illinois will consider them when these conversations and designations come around for them.

 

 

As the new year approaches, many may be motivated to offer more of their time to charity in 2022 as a part of new year's resolutions. Maxey says they have a great need for volunteers right now from working in its retail store to helping at the new downtown Monticello location and its renovation.

 

 

A contribution to Willow Tree Missions may end up in a variety of places. According to Maxey, they are focused on dispersing donations back into programming but also into its downtown facility renovation.

 

 

You can learn more about giving to Willow Tree Missions by visiting willowtreemissions.org. 

Older Cell Phones May Not Work in 2022

If you have an older cellphone, it may not work at some point in 2022. Mobile carriers are shutting down their 3G networks, which rely on older technology, to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G. AT&T has announced it will finish shutting down its 3G network by February.

 

Other carriers will shut down later in the year, meaning older cellphones will be unable to make or receive calls, texts, or even reach 911. Citizen’s Utility Board Spokesman Jim Chilsen says this could also impact other devices.

 

 

He says you shouldn’t panic but shouldn’t procrastinate either. Find out if your device needs a software update or needs to be replaced.

Gov. Pritzker Announces $94-Million to Improve Illinois Airports

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING 94 MILLION DOLLARS IN FUNDING TO IMPROVE PUBLIC AIRPORTS THROUGHOUT ILLINOIS. 

 

THE MONEY REPRESENTS THE LARGEST CAPITAL INVESTMENT PROGRAM FOR AIRPORTS IN STATE HISTORY SAYS THE GOVERNOR, PROVIDING FUNDING TO LOCATIONS STATEWIDE.

 

 

THE FUNDING UNLOCKS 11 AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS IN LOCAL CONTRIBUTIONS AS WELL. THE 96 PROJECTS SELECTED INCLUDE EVERYTHING FROM SECURITY GATE MODIFICATIONS TO HANGAR CONSTRUCTION AND EXTENDING RUNWAYS.

 

 

AIRPORTS RECEIVING MONEY INCLUDE QUAD CITIES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, SHELBY COUNTY AIRPORT, THE PEKIN MUNICIPAL AIRPORT, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AIRPORT, SCHAUMBURG REGIONAL AND THE SAINT LOUIS DOWNTOWN AIRPORT IN CAHOKIA.

Heading Into 2022, Warner Hospital Focused on Strategic Planning

Getting strategic planning done by the spring is the goal of the President of the Warner Hospital and Health Services Board of Directors.

 

Paul Skowron is the CEO of the city-owned facility and tells Regional Radio News strategic planning will take a front-and-center focus coming out of the new year. The hospital board does not meet in December.

 

 

Skowron has extensively discussed and still hopes to one day build a new facility to model a 21st-century healthcare model but for now, he believes the vision of the Board needs to be one of continuing to grow and provide quality care close to home.

 

 

While the vision of a new facility is exciting, but Skowron cautions too much fixation on that can lead to the plan dating itself quickly because of the always-changing technology in the medical world. He believes the right team can strike a balance.

 

 

Last week, Skowron made note of how improvements to the facility like a new CT machine and other improvements the hospital has taken on over the last few years are starting to attract outside physicians in being a part of what is happening in Clinton. 

Macon County CASA Asking For Community to Considering Supporting Them During Holidays

Yesterday was 'Giving Tuesday' and a local non-profit is asking you to consider supporting them as they grow.

 

The Macon County CASA program recently expanded into DeWitt County and has been steadily growing. Julia Livingston is the Executive Director of the child abuse advocacy organization and is asking you to consider supporting them financially or through becoming a CASA volunteer.

 

 

Another way to support the organization is to help them grow through donating your time. Livingston explains a lot of times they hear from volunteers that come to them volunteering for CASA was not on their radar until someone they knew was a victim of child abuse or other factors that made the issue hit close to home.

 

 

Livingston is thankful for the community's support so far. Yesterday on Regional Radio we mentioned Macon County CASA has its training schedule set for 2022. She explains as they go into the new year, they've already enrolled six CASA volunteers and would love to continue to build on that next year.

 

 

Livingston points anyone interested in becoming a CASA or supporting their efforts in DeWitt County to visit maconcountycasa.org. 

McLean County Museum of History Readies for Busy Weekend

The McLean County Museum of History will usher in the holiday season in style this weekend with a loaded Friday and Saturday of events.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Candace Summers told Regional Radio News the fun starts Friday afternoon with a photo opportunity with a recreated classic snowman, and then there will be plenty to do during Bloomington's monthly First Friday event.

 

 

A tree lighting will take place on Friday evening on the lawn of the McLean County Museum of History which is also the old McLean County Courthouse. Summers explains the City set up its tree on their lawn last year and it was a big hit so they are doing it again this year.

 

 

The fun doesn't end on Friday. Summers explains they are participating in the Christmas parade in Bloomington that will end its route right in front of the Museum. The Grand Marshall is the former Executive Director of the Museum.

 

 

Summers points anyone interested in more details about the happenings at the McLean County Museum of History to visit mchistory.org. 

Home Heating Tips

A mild start to winter will help with heating bills early in the season, but as temperatures drop utilities are reminding homeowners there are steps they can take to help offset high natural gas prices in the coming months.

 

 

Tucker Kennedy is with Ameren Illinois.

Congressman LaHood Weighs in on Latest COVID Variant

Health officials and local leaders are watching out closely for the COVID-19 omicron (oh-MUH-cron) variant. That includes Central Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood.

 

 

The variant has been confirmed in at least 19 countries.

Congressman Davis Announces Re-Election Bid

Central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis announced a bid for re-election. Davis currently represents the 13th Congressional District in Illinois. With the newly-drawn maps, he will now attempt to win the seat in the new 15th district.

 

 

Davis has been a member of Congress since 2012. Davis says he really enjoys his job, and now has a chance to fight back against Democrat control in the White House, House, and Senate.

Commodity Markets React to Latest COVID Variant

The commodity market reacts to the new COVID variant. AgriVisor’s Karl Setzer speaking shortly after the close on Tuesday.

 

 

Setzer says inflationary concerns are also pressuring the market.

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