Local News

Regional Radio Listening Area Under Winter Storm Warning; 12+ Inches of Snow, Ice Expected

 

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the entire Regional Radio listening area, from 9pm Tuesday until 6pm Thursday.

The Weather Service says the precip will start out as rain Tuesday, then change to ice Tuesday night with accumulations up to a tenth of an inch.

The ice will then change to what the Weather Service is calling a significant snow event, with snow off and on from the early morning hours Wednesday, until Thursday evening.

 

Snow totals in excess of 12 inches are possible, with higher localized amounts.

The snow will be accompanied by gusty winds as high as 30 miles an hour causing blowing and drifting snow Wednesday and Thursday.

The Weather Service says travel will be very difficult to impossible Wednesday and Thursday.

Stay tuned to Regional Radio for the latest weather information, school closings, cancellations, and road conditions which can also be found atdewittdailynews.com.

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Friday's DeWitt County SWCD Meeting Postponed

The DeWitt County Soil & Water Conservation District’s 78th Annual Meeting & Celebration has been postponed from Friday, February 4, 2022. The new date is set for Friday, February, 11th, 2022 at the Crang-Bennet American Legion, in Clinton. Registration will begin at 7:30 AM, with a buffet breakfast, served at 8:00 A.M.  The postponement is due to the expected inclement weather this week.

 

This year the guest speaker is Sergeant Tracy Lillard “Trooper Tracy”, Tracy graduated from the Illinois State Police Academy in 2001, a dream of hers since the 5th grade. She has spent 12 years on patrol, and 6 years as a safety education officer, and 3 years as the state social media coordinator. Sergeant Lillard is known all over the state for educating the community, and her excellent presentations. 

 

A short business meeting will be held. Three persons will be elected for a two-year term as members of the Board of Directors. There is no charge for attendance; although donations will be accepted at the door to help offset the cost of the meal. The District board and employees sincerely hope you will join us on February 11, 2022, for excellent food, good friends, and fellowship.

 

Seating is limited so please call to RSVP TODAY!

 

Please phone the District at 217-935-2181, ext. 3, by Wednesday, February 9th, 2022 to make reservations.

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Warner Hospital CEO: Latest Covid Surge Dissipating; Continue Precautions

The latest surge of local Covid-19 infections seems to be dissipating.

 

Paul Skowron, CEO of Warner Hospital & Health Services in Clinton, appeared on the WHOW Morning Show Monday morning.  Over the past month, he says the hospital has been dealing with not only increased amounts of patients, but also staff shortages due to illness.  However, Skowron says things are looking up...

 

 

Skowron is thankful for the normalcy.  He notes the past month has stretched both staff and resources...

 

 

Despite the local covid surge slowing down, Skowron cautions the public not to let their guard down.  He encourages people to continue to take proper precautions....

 

 

Skowron appreciates the public's support of the hospital over the past several months, and reminds residents that covid testing is available at the hospital with a doctor's order.   Learn more at WarnerHospital.org.

 

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Winter Storm Watch In Effect Tuesday Night Thru Thursday Night

...WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY EVENING THROUGH
THURSDAY EVENING...

* WHAT...Heavy snow likely...possibly mixed with a brief period of
  sleet and freezing rain during precipitation onset Tuesday
  night. Significant snow accumulations in excess of 8 inches
  expected. Blowing and drifting snow likely late Wednesday night
  into Thursday.

* WHERE...Along and northwest of a Danville to Taylorville line.

* WHEN...From Tuesday evening through Thursday evening.

* IMPACTS...Travel could be very difficult to impossible.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

Monitor the latest forecasts for updates on this situation.

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Winter of 2021-22 Could Be One of the Least Snowy on Record

The lack of snowfall in the winter of 2021-22 has weather officials watching the month of February closely.

 

For the entirety of the winter, there has only been around an inch-and-a-quarter of snow recorded at the National Weather Service Lincoln office and Ed Shimon says that is a pace that could be one of the least snowy on record.

 

 

Shimon points out, just because the current data shows a lack of snow doesn't mean February or March couldn't produce some significant snowfalls.

 

 

The lack of snow has created a dry start to the year, however, Shimon reminds the fall was exceptionally wet and soil moisture is doing just fine and predicts this dry trend to start to change as we get into February.

 

 

Like Shimon mentioned last week on Regional Radio, central Illinois is showing strong trends for above-normal rainfall through February and March. 

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More Marina Discussion at Latest DeWitt County Board Meeting

The ongoing saga of selling property at the Clinton Lake Marina continued a few weeks ago at the latest DeWitt County Board meeting.

 

Board Chair Terry Ferguson says selling roughly 75 acres of property that isn't developed could help the County make improvements at the Marina. He says Exelon had some conditions they wanted to be put in the sale of the property and so those were approved.

 

 

According to Ferguson, development of the property is unlikely as early interest seems to be around it being used for recreational purposes, mainly hunting. He also points out the value of recreational property at this time is rather significant.

 

 

The Marina has been a focal point in 2021 for the County Board with docks needing improvement and breakwaters still needing to be replaced. Ferguson says like a few other things happening at the county government level, there are people that feel passionately about this and want things done right. 

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Scovill Zoo Seeking Volunteers for 2022

If you've ever wanted to work closely with animals or you are a young person thinking about working with animals for a career, the volunteer opportunities at the Scovill Zoo could be a great introduction to that.

 

Ken Frye at the Scovill Zoo in Decatur says volunteers at the Zoo are instrumental in the Decatur entity's operation during the summer season. He says volunteers will guide guests and offer knowledge on the various animals in the collection to help with different events the zoo has.

 

 

Whether you have an abundance of time to offer or only a few hours a month, Frye says any help you can offer goes a long way. He indicates they have volunteers that are there only certain days of the week or some that can only provide time once or twice a month.

 

 

If you are interested in volunteering at the zoo this summer, there is a volunteer meeting this week. Frye explains it's a series of meetings that are not mandatory, however, they are very informative.

 

 

Get more information by visiting scovillzoo.com, you can call the zoo at 217-421-7435, or find them on Facebook. 

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Fall Illinois archery turkey harvest totals 683

SPRINGFIELD – Hunters in Illinois harvested a statewide total of 683 wild turkeys during the 2021-2022 fall archery turkey season.

 

The total compares with a statewide turkey harvest of 783 in 2020-2021 and a five-year average of 688 birds harvested. This season 24,768 permits were sold (excluding landowner permits) compared to 24,187 for the 2020-2021 season. The season dates were Oct. 1, 2021, through Jan. 16, 2022, and all 102 counties were open for hunting.

 

Harvest consisted of 51% toms and 49% hens. The top five counties for fall archery wild turkey harvest this season were Madison (19), Jefferson (18), Schuyler (18), Franklin (16), and St. Clair (15).
 

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IAWC offers financial assistance

Illinois American Water wants customers with past due balances to know about a financial assistance program it launched a couple of years ago. “H20” or “Help 2 Others” is designed to help cover customers who have experienced financial hardships so that they do not get their water service shut off. The Salvation Army is partnering with the utility on this program.

 

Illinois American Water spokesperson Karen Cotton says there are many options for assistance for those that need it.

 

 

Anyone with a past due water bill should contact American Water at 800-422-2782 immediately to avoid an unnecessary shut off. Over the last two years, Illinois American Water helped more than 15,500 residential customers receive financial assistance to help keep water service flowing. For more information, go to www.illinoisamericanwater.com

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Program responds to teacher shortage

The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents recently issued their 2021 Illinois Educator Shortage Report. The report shows that Illinois is facing a devastating teacher shortage crisis, with 88% of school districts responding to the survey reporting they have a teacher shortage problem.

Golden Apple is a nonprofit that attempts to prepare future teachers to serve in schools and communities in need through both their Scholars Program and their Accelerators Program. Golden Apple’s long-running Scholars Program is a teacher preparation and tuition assistance program targeted toward high school seniors and freshman and sophomore college students in Illinois, and the newer Accelerators Program is a 15-month teacher residency and licensure program for career changers and college seniors not on a teaching path.

 

Kesa (key-sa) Thurman Stovall, Chief Program Officer of Golden Apple and a former Golden Apple Scholar herself says their nonprofit committed to preparing, supporting, and mentoring aspiring teachers, is committed to making a material difference in resolving this crisis

 

 

The report also showed the teacher shortage has gotten even worse in the last year. Last year’s report, which was conducted in October 2020, showed 77% of school districts saying they had a teacher shortage problem. If you’d like more information on how to get involved under one of Golden Apple’s programs visit, goldenapple.org.

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Durbin talks Biden Supreme Court nominee

As President Biden narrows his choice for the next Supreme Court Justice, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is dismissing Republicans objections to the President saying he will only nominate a black woman. Republicans are calling it an affirmative action quota pick or saying President Biden should only pick the most qualified candidate regardless of race or gender. Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says Biden is following the words and actions of past Presidents.

 

 

Durbin says his committee will be ready to act quickly with hearings once the pick has been made.

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Application Process Underway for RCPP Funding

Applications are being accepted through local Natural Resources Conservation Service offices for the latest round of Regional Conservation Partnership Program funding. Rod Bain reports.

 

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Never Too Early to Speculate on Upcoming Spring Plantings


In the battle for acres which crop is likely to come out on top this spring? Gary Crawford has this report.

 

 

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Sen. Durbin on Board for Locks and Dams

Hundreds of millions of dollars are coming to upgrade locks and dams in Illinois and improve river ecosystems.

 

The major project is building a brand new 1200-foot lock on the Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 25. Democrat US Senator Dick Durbin says the investment made by the recent infrastructure plan will pay off for the region’s economy.

 

 

Original construction on Lock and Dam 25 began in 1935.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a cold, wintry January week in central Illinois but things should warm up in the week ahead. State Climatologist Trent Ford tells use more...

 

 

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Clinton Legion Hoping for Normal 2022

The Clinton American Legion is hoping for a normal 2022 and is targeting some special events for its members.

 

Josh Thielen is the District Commander and on the WHOW Morning Show Friday told Regional Radio things kick off with a special event this Saturday in Clinton.

 

 

Annual events like the Fourth of July veterans walk and Memorial Day activities Thielen is hoping will still happen this year and he's even targeting getting back into the schools if possible.

 

 

On the Morning Show Friday, Thielen also indicated they have some youth engagement opportunities they are working on. He indicates they are seeking youth to attend boy's and girl's state this summer and they are introducing a 'poppy poster' contest. 

 

Thielen encourages anyone seeking more information about the Clinton American Legion to find them on Facebook and make sure you search the Legion for Clinton, Illinois. 

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Monticello To Honor Late Teacher Natalie McDowell Friday Night at Boy's Basketball Game

Friday night the Monticello Sages boy's basketball team will host rival St. Joseph-Ogden in an Illini Prairie Conference matchup but taking a back seat to the game for a short time will be the communities coming together to honor the late Natalie McDowell who tragically passed away this fall in an automobile accident in rural Piatt County.

 

Monticello Athletic Director Dan Sheehan anticipates a sellout crowd of the newly minted Sievers Center at Monticello High School for the honoring of Mrs. McDowell who was a longtime teacher in the district.

 

 

According to Sheehan, the proceeds from admissions will go to St. Jude Children's hospital and there will be St. Jude runners collecting donations during mask timeouts during the varsity game.

 

 

Sheehan anticipates the atmosphere of the game to be great. In addition to honoring McDowell Friday, Monticello basketball coach Kevin Roy is still seeking his 300th career win at Monticello High School. Monticello picked up the 299th career win for Coach Roy last week against PBL but the Sages have since lost two in a row and Friday could be the milestone for the 16th year man at Monticello High School. 

 

Game time Friday is 7 pm. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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City of Lincoln To Increase Gaming License Fees

In an attempt to curb the number of video gaming machines in the community, the City of Lincoln is raising the cost of those machines.

 

Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch indicates as the gaming commissioner, he was not going to approve any further machines in the community until things quote - leveled out - because he felt there were too many machines in proportion to the population.

 

 

For the Mayor, he approached the Liquor Commission about this. He believes there is going to be a transition period because they have existing applications for the machines before the change will be effective and so they want to remain good business partners with its community businesses.

 

 

Gaming machines have proven to be a good revenue generator for communities. According to Mayor Welch, adding gaming machines is not increasing the revenue for the city.

 

 

 

 

Video gaming money is not necessarily designated for specific budgets or projects, however, Mayor Welch says conversations are being had to do that in the future so there can be a visible demonstration of the benefits of the increase in the fees for the machines.

 

 

With the next fiscal year's budget beginning to be put together, the Mayor hopes perhaps the plans to designate video gaming money could be a part of the upcoming budget process. 

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Illinois State Police Launches Statewide Shooting Dashboard

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS LAUNCHING A NEW EXPRESSWAY SHOOTING DASHBOARD. 

 

THE DASHBOARD SHOWS CURRENT DATA AS WELL AS DATA FROM THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, REGARDING WHERE EXPRESSWAY SHOOTINGS OCCURRED. I-S-P MAJOR MATT GAINER SAYS THE NEW FEATURE ALSO INCLUDES THE DATE AND TIME OF THE INCIDENT AND WHETHER THERE WERE ANY INJURIES OR DEATHS.

 

 

GAINER SAYS IT’S ANOTHER TOOL TO HELP COMBAT THESE VIOLENT CRIMES.

 

 

YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE DASHBOARD ON THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE’S WEBSITE BY CLICKING ON “VIOLENCE REDUCTION.”

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Illinois Senate Republicans Renew Calls for Tougher Ethics Reforms

REPUBLICANS IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE ARE PUSHING FOR TOUGHER GOVERNMENT ETHICS REFORMS. 

 

THE G-O-P SENATORS SAY LAST YEAR’S ETHICS BILL DIDN’T GO NEARLY FAR ENOUGH TO WEED OUT CORRUPTION. THEY ARE RELEASING THEIR OWN PLAN THAT ADDRESSES SEVERAL CONCERNS. THAT INCLUDES EXTENDING A BAN ON LEGISLATORS WORKING AS LOBBYISTS TO ONE YEAR AFTER LEAVING OFFICE SAYS SENATOR TERRI BRYANT OF MURPHYSBORO.

 

 

SENATOR JIL TRACY OF QUINCY SAYS FOR STARTERS, MORE POWER TO INVESTIGATE CONCERNS IS NEEDED AT THE STATE LEVEL.

 

 

BRYANT SAYS THEY ALSO WANT TO PROHIBIT A SITTING LAWMAKER’S SPOUSE OR CHILDREN FROM LOBBYING THE LEGISLATURE.

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Illinois House GOP Leader Wants Overhaul of State Prison Review Board

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER JIM DURKIN IS CALLING FOR AN OVERHAUL OF THE STATE PRISONER REVIEW BOARD. 

 

LEADER DURKIN SAYS THE BOARD NEEDS TO PUT THE NEEDS OF CRIME VICTIMS BEFORE THAT OF INMATES AND PAROLEES.

 

 

DURKIN AIMS TO PUT THE EMPHASIS ON THE NEEDS OF VIOLENT CRIME VICTIMS WHEN IT COMES TO DECIDING IF AN INMATE CAN BE RELEASED OR PAROLED.

 

 

DURKIN IS PUSHING FOR FIVE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD TO HAVE LAW ENFORCEMENT OR PROSECUTION EXPERIENCE, A HIGHER THRESHOLD FOR GRANTING PAROLE TO THOSE CONVICTED OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER AND FOR VICTIMS TO HAVE A STRONGER VOICE AT BOARD HEARINGS.

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Gov. Pritzker Kicks Off Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS KICKING OFF A NEW INITIATIVE TO GET STUDENTS READY FOR A JOB IN THE CONSTRUCTION TRADES. 

 

THE GOVERNOR ANNOUNCED A NEARLY 10 MILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT IN THE “ILLINOIS WORKS PRE-APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM” EARLIER THIS MONTH AND GRANTS HAVE BEEN AWARDED TO GROUPS AROUND THE STATE.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE GROUPS ARE RECRUITING MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND STUDENTS TO TAKE PART AND PREPARE FOR A CAREER IN THE INDUSTRY.

 

 

GRANTEES ARE ALREADY RECRUITING A DIVERSE GROUP OF PARTICIPANTS AND ARE EXPECTED TO HELP MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE GET A JUMP START ON A CAREER IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY.

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Gov. Pritzker Awaits Mask Ruling Coming Friday

A judge in Sangamon County is set to rule on the legality of mask mandates in schools. The decision could wipe out the public health mandate. Governor JB Pritzker says he’s awaiting the decision.

 

 

No matter the verdict, an appeal is expected.

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Corps Officials Say Be An Advocate For Lock and Dam System

Plenty of talk about locks and dams this week. Keep it up says Tom Heinold--Chief of Operations at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District.

 

 

Heinold hosted a tour of Lock and Dam 15 in Rock Island on Wednesday.

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Heyworth Schools Through Rough COVID Stretch, Watching Lawsuits Across Illinois

The Heyworth School district this month had a rough bout of COVID that went through its staff forcing a brief period of remote learning for its students. With that behind them, they are now focusing on legal battles that seem to all be coming to a head as we get into February.

 

Dr. Lisa Taylor is the Superintendent of Heyworth Schools and on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday told Regional Radio they tried to make in-person learning work with some adjustments but things were just going well and they transitioned to remote learning for almost two weeks.

 

 

Dr. Taylor is watching the Tom DeVore lawsuit which is expected to have a resolution at some point Friday. She is also keeping a close eye on the lawsuit that Clinton and other districts have filed to sue the Illinois State Board of Education, challenging its authority on COVID mandates.

 

 

While Heyworth is not a part of any lawsuits, Dr. Taylor says they are advocates for local control and really want guidance on metrics and what targets they could potentially have to meet to regain local control.

 

 

Dr. Taylor calls it discouraging because you fire up social media with whatever they do and people are passionate and frustrated by the whole situation and it is creating a lot of division, not just in her community, but communities across the state. 

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WHOW Hometown Tour Spotlight: Monticello

Wednesday the WHOW Morning Show Hometown Tour Spotlight made tracks to Piatt County visit the community of Monticello.

 

Among the guests on the program, Monticello Mayor Larry Stoner discussed a trio of parks projects the City has going on. 

 

 

Like many communities, the Monticello police force is facing challenges of officers leaving the police force. Police Chief John Carter appreciates that they are in a community that is supportive of law enforcement.

 

 

Adam Clapp is the Monticello High School principal and will be taking over Dr. Vic Zimmerman as the district's next Superintendent this summer. Clapp says a lot is facing the district he'll have to focus on when he takes over this summer.

 

 

Monticello athletic director Dan Sheehan also highlighted the sports programs in the school district. He says the varsity volleyball team's regional win was a huge upset that created a lot of excitement as well the football team's second-round playoff appearance and the state appearance by the boy's golf team. 

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Watch Out for Phony Personalized Products

The Better Business Bureau is warning you to proceed with caution if ordering personalized gifts via social media. The scams have been seen on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. The agency’s Scam Tracker has gotten numerous reports from people whose purchases ended up being far different from what they thought, if they arrived at all.

 

Better Business Bureau Investigator Don O’Brien explains how it works.

 

 

If you want a personalized item, O’Brien suggests you research the company before making a purchase; look up reviews on other websites; and pay with a credit card instead of a debit card since it’s easier to dispute fraudulent charges with a credit card and there is a better chance of getting a refund.

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Gov. Pritzker Announces $220-Million in Rebuild Illinois Funding Projects

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING NEARLY 220 MILLION DOLLARS IN REBUILD ILLINOIS MONEY FOR DOWNSTATE TRANSIT AND PORT PROJECTS.

 

THE GOVERNOR STOPPED IN THE METRO EAST AREA TO TOUT THE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAID THE FUNDING WILL BE USED FOR SEVERAL NEEDS AND WILL CREATE NEW JOBS AS WELL.

 

 

RECIPIENTS INCLUDE AMERICA’S CENTRAL PORT DISTRICT IN GRANITE CITY, THE ROCKFORD MASS TRANSIT DISTRICT AND SAINT CLAIR COUNTY’S MASS TRANSIT DISTRICT’S EMERSON PARK OPERATIONAL CONTROL CENTER.

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New Legislation Would Reinstate Death Penalty for Those Who Kill Police Officers

NEW LEGISLATION REINSTATES THE DEATH PENALTY FOR THOSE CONVICTED OF MURDERING A POLICE OFFICER IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE BILL COMES FROM SENATOR DARREN BAILEY OF DOWNSTATE LOUISVILLE, WHO SAYS OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS, ILLINOIS HAS LOST 25 OFFICERS IN THE LINE OF DUTY.

 

 

A SIMILAR MEASURE WILL BE FILED IN THE HOUSE BY REPRESENTATIVE BLAINE WILHOUR OF EFFINGHAM. HE SAYS SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.

 

 

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DCFS Promoting Human Trafficking Awareness

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS TRYING TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT HUMAN TRAFFICKING. 

 

IN THE LAST FISCAL YEAR, D-C-F-S INVESTIGATED 309 ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD TRAFFICKING. INCIDENTS ARE PROBABLY HIGHER SAYS SPOKESPERSON DEBORAH LOPEZ, SINCE SO MANY GO UNREPORTED. WITH THAT IN MIND…

 

 

SIGNS INCLUDE AN ADULT CONTROLLING AND SPEAKING FOR A CHILD, A CHILD THAT SEEMS OUT OF PLACE GIVEN THE TIME OF DAY OR NIGHT OR WHO IS PERFORMING INAPPROPRIATE WORK FOR THEIR AGE. 

 

 

IF YOU SUSPECT A CHILD IS BEING TRAFFICKED, YOU CAN CALL THE D-C-F-S HOTLINE AT: 1-800-25-ABUSE

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Clinton Fire Officials Joined By Multiple Departments to Fight Early Wednesday House Fire

Just after 3 am Wednesday, Clinton Fire Crews were dispatched to a house fire on South Monroe Street in Clinton. 

 

Upon arrival, heavy fire was blazing at the rear of the home with heavy smoke coming from a second level of the home. The two residents of the home had escaped safely.

 

Crews knocked down the exterior fire however as they began to enter the home, it was deemed unsafe because of the possibility of a collapse. The roof ultimately did collapse and crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to neighboring homes.

 

The City of Clinton deployed a backhoe to help remove the roof and walls, allowing crews to gain access to the rest of the structure and put out hot spots.

 

Temperatures were bitterly cold in the overnight hours and morning daylight hours Wednesday. Crews were assisted by Wapella, Kenney, Maroa, Waynesville, Hickory Point, Heyworth, Farmer City, Argenta-Oreana, Warrensburg, and Cisco fire departments. 

 

Crews were rotated in and out to allow crews and their equipment to stay warm due to the frigid conditions. 

 

Others assisting at the scene were the DeWitt County EMA, the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office, Clinton Police, Ameren, and the City of Clinton Public Works Department. 

 

The Calvary United Pentecostal Church provided a warming location and use of its restrooms for officials on the scene. Snappers provided crews lunch. Central Illinois Ag offered its location for equipment to thaw and the new Scooters Coffee in Clinton donated morning coffee. 

 

Clinton Fire officials thank everyone involved in the Wednesday incident for their efforts and contributions. 

 

The Illinois State Fire Marshall's Office will investigate the fire. The home was deemed a total loss. 

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This Should be the Last of the Bitterly Cold Weather for the Winter

Once this stretch of bitter cold subsides later this week, this should be the last of this kind of cold for the winter.

 

That's according to Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln who, on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, told Regional Radio things are going to turn more seasonable for the rest of the month and into the start of February.

 

 

Looking to February, Shimon indicates Clinton is on the border of above-normal temperatures but there is a strong signal for above-normal precipitation. With the first of the month next Tuesday, he points out next Wednesday forecasts are calling for about a half-inch of rainfall. 

 

 

Shimon points out the last few months have been exceptionally dry, in fact, Illinois is on pace for one of the least-snowy winters in history. We'll have more on that in the days ahead on Regional Radio News.

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County Board Sends Back Solar Ordinance Proposal to RPC, ZBA

A solar energy ordinance has been sent back to the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals and the Regional Planning Commission.

 

Last Thursday night at the DeWitt County Board meeting, Terry Ferguson indicates the culmination of around six meetings worth of discussion on updating the County's solar codes was brought forward.

 

 

A few of the proposals around where there could be solar farms erected were done so without legal counsel and Ferguson says there were some pitfalls to those changes and so the ordinance was sent back to the RPC and ZBA for further review.

 

 

Ferguson believes solar energy in the county is going to be much less divisive as wind energy was and is but he also believes for those that are opposed to the projects, it is very concerning.

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There is Optimism Among Illinois Specialty Growers

Optimism remains high among Illinois specialty growers. Randy Graham of Curtis Orchard in Champaign County says the industry was able to make some gains during the pandemic.

 

 

Graham is the president of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association. The group held their annual meeting earlier this month.

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Large Illinois Businesses Will Now Have to File Report with State Regarding Equal Pay

EQUAL PAY ACT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS FOR LARGE BUSINESSES IN ILLINOIS BEGIN MARCH 24TH. 

 

UNDER NEW STATE LAWS, PRIVATE EMPLOYERS WITH MORE THAN 100 WORKERS MUST FILE FOR AN EQUAL PAY CERTIFICATE WITH THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR JASON KELLER SAYS DUE TO THE VOLUME OF BUSINESSES IN ILLINOIS, EMAILS WILL GO OUT IN GROUPS GIVING EMPLOYERS AT LEAST 120 DAYS NOTICE TO COMPLY. THE FIRST BATCH HAS ALREADY BEEN SENT.

 

 

KELLER SAYS THIS IS PART OF NEW ILLINOIS LAWS.

 

 

KELLER NOTES IT COULD TAKE MORE THAN A YEAR FOR AN EMPLOYER TO RECEIVE NOTIFICATION FROM THE DEPARTMENT. THIS NEW REQUIREMENT AFFECTS AT LEAST 47-HUNDRED BUSINESSES IN ILLINOIS.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Closely Monitoring Livestock Pricing Bill

Illinois Farm Bureau following a livestock pricing transparency bill in Washington.

 

 

IFB’s Director of Governmental Affairs and Commodities Mark Gebhards believes there will be amendments to the bill before final passage.

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Growmark Experts Talks Crude Market

An update on the crude oil market and the impact at the pump. Scott Wilson is the manager of customer risk management with GROWMARK.

 

 

As of Tuesday, the average gas price in Illinois is $3.48 with the diesel average at $3.63.

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Neighborhood Care Center Sign Up Location for 'Dolly Parton's Imagination Library'

Last week, the United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois announced it would be expanding the program 'Dolly Parton's Imagination Library' into DeWitt County.

 

Tuesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Care Center in Clinton, Cody Monkman told Regional Radio they are now a signup location for this program that is absolutely free to any child in DeWitt County ages zero to five years old.

 

 

According to Monkman, literacy can be a great skill for self-empowerment and he believes it will be a very worthwhile program in the community.

 

 

Get more information about registering for the 'Dolly Parton Imagination Library' by calling the Neighborhood Care Center at 21-935-6844. 

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Mahomet-Seymour School Board to Be Presented With Facilities Future Plan

For the better part of 2021, residents of Mahomet-Seymour were surveyed and pursued for opinions on the future of the school district's facilities.

 

The district faces a growing population which is leading to a growing student body and creating spacing issues in almost every building. Superintendent Dr. Lindsey Hall indicates all that interaction has resulted in a plan ready to present for the Board of Education next month that will, if approved, then go to taxpayers in June.

 

 

While final figures on the cost of the project are not in yet, Dr. Hall anticipates estimates coming in at around $100-million with all the renovating that will need to be done in addition to the new projected middle school building.

 

 

If the school board approves the plan in February, Dr. Hall says the next step will be to educate the community on the proposal so they know exactly what they will be voting on in June.

 

 

Dr. Hall says as they look to expand on space in the district's other buildings, there will also be a focus to make sure those improvements bring the space to a 21st century-friendly learning environment. 

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Enrolling in Medicare Before Retirement

If you are 65 and want to keep working, you can still receive Medicare coverage.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security indicates as the age to receive full Social Security benefits continues to rise, more and more people are opting to take Medicare before retiring.

 

 

Myers says naturally people have a lot of questions about how to sign up for Medicare. If you are already receiving Social Security before age 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Parts A and B. If not Myers details how to apply...

 

 

The initial enrollment period for Medicare starts three months before you turn 65 and extends until three months after. If you don't enroll during that time you can still enroll during the general enrollment period.

 

 

Myers reminds that retiree or COBRA coverage does not qualify an individual for a special enrollment period.

 

To learn more about Medicare visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare.

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Monday Two-Year Anniversary of First COVID Case in Illinois

MONDAY MARKED THE TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST CASE OF COVID-19 REPORTED IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THAT INITIAL CASE IN JANUARY OF 2020 WAS A CHICAGO WOMAN WHO HAD RETURNED FROM A TRIP TO WUHAN, CHINA. SINCE THEN MORE THAN TWO-POINT-EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR THE VIRUS AND OVER 30-THOUSAND HAVE DIED. CASES AND HOSPITLIZATIONS REACHED RECORD LEVELS THIS MONTH, ALTHOUGH THE SURGE SEEMS TO HAVE PEAKED. DURING LAST WEEK'S COVID-19 BRIEFING, GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER REMINDED HOW SERIOUS THE PANDEMIC REMAINS.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS THOSE THAT ARE MOST SICK CONTINUE TO BE THE UNVACCINATED. AT MOST RECENT COUNT, OVER 52-HUNDRED PATIENTS WERE IN THE HOSPITAL WITH COVID-19.

 

 

SINCE THE PANDEMIC BEGAN, MORE THAN TWO-POINT-EIGHT MILLION ILLINOISANS HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AND OVER 30-THOUSAND HAVE DIED.

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Heating Equipment, Carbon Monoxide Safety is Key to Keeping Warm This Winter

AS YOU'RE TRYING TO STAY WARM THIS WINTER, THE ILLINOIS STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE HAS A FEW SAFETY TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND. 

 

THERE ARE PLENTY OF HAZARDS WHEN IT COMES TO HEATING YOUR HOME SO IT'S IMPORTANT TO STAY ON TOP OF THINGS LIKE HAVING YOUR FURNACE SERVICED REGULARLY SAYS FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ.

 

 

ANOTHER CONCERN IS CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING, SO FULTZ SAYS YOU SHOULD INSTALL AND CHECK C-O DETECTORS REGULARLY. ILLINOIS FIRE DEPARTMENTS RESPONDED TO NEARLY 11-THOUSAND CARBON MONOXIDE LEAKS IN 2020.

 

 

OTHER WINTER HEATING REMINDERS INCLUDE HAVING YOUR FURNACE SERVICED AND CHIMNEY CLEANED REGULARLY. FULTZ SAYS SPACE HEATERS SHOULD BE PLUGGED DIRECTLY INTO AN OUTLET, NOT AN EXTENSION CORD, AND BE KEPT AWAY FROM ANYTHING THAT CAN CATCH ON FIRE LIKE CURTAINS, FURNITURE AND BEDDING. SPACE HEATERS SHOULD HAVE AN AUTOMATIC SHUT OFF FEATURE IN CASE THEY TIP OVER.

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Congressman Davis Addresses Supply Chain Issues

Supply chain issues are affecting businesses large and small, from big corporations to small-town businesses in Arcola, Illinois, as Congressman Rodney Davis details...

 

 

Congressman Davis has sponsored House Resolution 6152 intended to direct the Department of Commerce to conduct a study of what products are not being made in America and how Congress can incentivize American businesses to make those products.

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Cerro Gordo Celebrating Successful Boy's Basketball Season; Sheriff's Office Working to Provide Continued Law Enforcement Presence in Community

Cerro Gordo-Bement was the highlight of Monday's annual Hometown Tour Spotlight on the WHOW Morning Show. Joining the program was Cerro Gordo athletic director and boy's basketball coach Brandon Willard. Willard says his team is having a tremendous season.

 

 

Sheriff Mark Vogelzang took over the retired Dave Hunt in July of 2021 and joined the program. A veteran of law enforcement but new to the Piatt County force, Sheriff Vogelzang says its been a good transition and is looking forward to extending a contract for law enforcement in the community of Cerro Gordo.

 

 

The WHOW Hometown Tour Spotlight stops in Piatt County again on Wednesday when we visit Monticello. 

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DeWitt County Board Chair Reacts to Thursday Night Discussion Surrounding Wind Farm Sound Study

Last Thursday night, the DeWitt County Board approved a sound study agreement with Tech Environmental, INC. for the Alta Farms II wind project in northwest DeWitt County. 

 

Board Chair Terry Ferguson on the WHOW Morning Show Friday told Regional Radio News this is the next step in the process of the wind farms construction. He explains they need to provide the County with a sound study for all four seasons.

 

 

Thursday night, the Board was questioned why there wasn't a sound study done before the wind farm was put up. Ferguson explains their mitigations if the sound study turns up any issues for property owners near the turbines.

 

 

According to Ferguson, Tech Environmental will select six sites to study and indicates the wintertime is when the noise is most audible because of the often frozen ground and crops being out of the ground. 

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Clinton Chief of Police Says Department Rebounding Well from Staffing Challenges of 2021

2021 was a tough year for the Clinton Police Department because of several veteran officers moving on from the force.

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers feels fortunate they have been able to fill those spots quickly in the last few months. He points out many departments are not having the kind of luck they are.

 

 

With new officers now on the force, the Chief explains they've had to do some reshuffling. Det. Todd Ummel retired early last year his spot has been filled and other officers have moved around to new roles.

 

 

The Chief indicates a young officer almost has his pick of where he wants to go due to all the vacancies across the country. 

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Rare Babe Ruth Collectible Found in Illinois

An incredibly rare Babe Ruth collectible has been found in Illinois. A 1927 banner for the Babe Ruth movie "Babe Comes Home" was discovered in Henry County home under renovation. The banner hung in front of the Peerless Theater in Kewanee in 1927 before going home with the Manager of the theater where it was placed in a closet and untouched for more than 90 years. Rich Mueller is the editor of SportsCollectorsDaily.com and says there really is nothing like this banner in the collectible world...

 

 

The family who found the banner are choosing not to be identified at this time. The 10 foot yellow banner is set to be auctioned by MemoryLaneInc.com beginning February 5th with bidding closing on February 19th. The rarity of the banner and its superb condition indicate that the bidding could be incredibly high. The auction will open with a price of $25,000.

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Gov. Pritzker Celebrates Opening of Regional Logistics Center in Southeastern Illinois

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS CELEBRATING A NEW REGIONAL LOGISTICS CENTER THAT WILL PROVIDE MORE ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE IN SOUTHEASTERN ILLINOIS. 

 

THE CENTER, IN FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, IS A JOINT EFFORT BETWEEN PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF SAINT LOUIS AND THE GRANITE-CITY BASED HOPE CLINIC. THE GOAL IS TO COORDINATE CARE FOR THOSE NEEDING SERVICES, INCLUDING ABORTIONS, TO IN-STATE AND OUT-OF-STATE WOMEN SAYS GOVERNOR PRITZKER.

 

 

THE CENTER WILL USE PRIVATE FUNDS TO HELP PAY TRAVEL, CHILDCARE AND OTHER COSTS FOR WOMEN TRAVELING FROM OTHER STATES TO ILLINOIS.

 

 

THERE IS NO INCOME OR DISTANCE REQUIREMENT TO ACCESS THESE SERVICES.

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Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month

ILLINOIS FIREFIGHTERS ARE BEING URGED TO SCHEDULED REGULAR PHYSICALS AND CANCER SCREENINGS.

 

THIS IS FIREFIGHTER CANCER AWARENESS MONTH AND ILLINOIS FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ SAYS IT'S SO IMPORTANT FOR THOSE IN THE PROFESSION TO REALLY TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.

 

 

FULTZ SAYS FIREFIGHTERS ARE AT A HIGHER RISK FOR CANCER BECAUSE THEY ARE EXPOSED TO SO MANY CARCINOGENS.

 

UNFORTUNATELY, IT'S A RISK THAT COMES WITH THE JOB.

 

 

FULTZ SAYS ANOTHER VITAL COMPONENT IS A PROPER DECONTAMINATION PROCESS AFTER A FIRE, WHICH CAN GREATLY REDUCED THE TRANSMISSION OF CARCINOGENS.

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New Report Highlights Law Helping Service Members Expedite Professional Licensure

A NEW REPORT IS HIGHLIGHTING THE SUCCESS OF A RECENT LAW THAT HELPS SERVICE MEMBERS OBTAIN THEIR STATE PROFESSIONAL LICENSE MORE QUICKLY. 

 

THE LAW EXPEDITES THE PROCESS OF GETTING LICENSED IN ILLINOIS FOR OCCUPATIONS LIKE PHYSICIAN, NURSE, UNARMED SECURITY GUARD AND COSMETOLOGIST. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT FOR ACTIVE DUTY MEMBERS AND THEIR SPOUSES SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION SECRETARY MARIO TRETO.

 

 

TRETO SAYS THE REPORT FOUND THAT THOSE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE PROGRAM WORK IN A VARIETY OF FIELDS.

 

 

THE DEPARTMENT HELPED 862 SERVICE MEMBERS AND THEIR SPOUSES THROUGH THE LICENSURE PROCESS LAST YEAR, TRIPLING THE AMOUNT THAT TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE INITIATIVE DURING THE FIRST YEAR IN 2020.

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New Legislation Aims to Help Illinois Smartphone App Companies

NEW LEGISLATION AIMS TO HELP SMARTPHONE APP COMPANIES BASED IN ILLINOIS. 

 

CURRENTLY, YOU CAN'T PURCHASE AN APP ON YOUR PHONE UNLESS YOU GO THROUGH GOOGLE OR APPLE, WHICH TAKES AS MUCH AS 30 PERCENT OF THE DEVELOPERS PROFITS. THIS NEW BILL, CALLED THE FREEDOM TO DIRECTLY SUBSCRIBE ACT, CUTS OUT THE MIDDLEMAN SAYS SENATOR ROBERT PETERS OF CHICAGO.

 

 

THE FREEDOM TO DIRECTLY SUBSCRIBE ACT ELIMINATES THE MIDDLEMAN OF GOOGLE OR APPLE THAT USERS HAVE TO GO THROUGH TO PURCHASE AN APP, ENDING THE CURRENT PRACTICE SAYS SENATOR SARA FEIGENHOLTZ OF CHICAGO.

 

 

SUPPORTERS SAY THIS WOULD HELP MORE THAN CREATORS OF GAMES AND OTHER APPS. FOR EXAMPLE, IT WILL SAVE NEWSPAPER COMPANIES MONEY BY LETTING THEM DIRECTLY SIGN UP DIGITAL SUBSCRIBERS.

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Second Round of 'Back to Business' Grants for Small Businesses Announced

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING A NEW ROUND OF BACK TO BUSINESS GRANTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE LATEST ROUND IS MORE THAN 111 MILLION DOLLARS SAYS THE GOVERNOR, FUNDING OVER 29-HUNDRED GRANTS TO BUSINESSES STILL RECOVERING FROM THE PANDEMIC.

 

 

THE MONEY IS MEANT TO HELP WITH THINGS LIKE HIRING STAFF AND MAINTAINING COVID-19 PROTOCOLS SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY ACTING DIRECTOR SYLVIA GARCIA.

 

 

THE DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR BACK TO BUSINESS GRANTS HAS PASSED BUT GRANTS WILL CONTINUE TO GO OUT TO PREVIOUS APPLICANTS UNTIL FUNDS ARE EXHAUSTED.

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Illinois GOP Wants Repeal of Criminal Justice Reforms

House Republicans want a repeal of recent criminal justice reforms. They remain opposed to changes to cash bail requirements for some offenses, limiting arrests for some crimes and other modifications. Rep. Ryan Spain says they want an entire repeal of the Safe-T act.

 

 

GOP members say Illinois residents are less safe now because of the reforms made last year.

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New State Fair Manager on Job

The Illinois State Fair has a new manager. Rebecca Clark took over the position earlier this month.

 

 

This is Clark’s second stint with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. She also previously worked as a public information officer for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

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Weekly Weather Summary

Varied temperatures highlight this past week and a seasonable weekend with some snow is possible in Illinois. State Climatologist tells us about the week ahead....

 

 

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Recruiting Time for Sangamon Valley CEO Program

It's recruiting time for a central Illinois high school entrepreneurship program.

 

Lisa Shepard is the Facilitator of the Sangamon Valley CEO program that invites students from Monticello, Bement, DeLand-Weldon, Argenta-Oreana, and Cerro Gordo to learn the ins and outs of owning and operating a business. 

 

 

Shepard has four students in this year's class with three being from Monticello and one from Argenta-Oreana. She says while they like to have a more diverse representation of students, COVID hurt their recruiting efforts last year but they have recently been able to get back into the other schools and promote the program among juniors in its blueprint.

 

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Shepard encouraged anyone with a slight interest in the program to apply and at least learn more about the program. She believes it is a great program even if your student may not have the inspiration to be a future business owner.

 

 

Visit sangamonvalleyceo.com for the application for the upcoming school year and to learn more about the program. 

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Taylorville High School Staffer Arrested on Meth Charges

An employee of Taylorville High School has been arrested for bringing and using methamphetamine at school. 

 

38-year-old Adam Cherry of Rosamond was arrested following a traffic stop where he was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia before he entered the school. 

 

The investigation started two weeks ago after the Taylorville Police Department received information that a current employee was bringing meth into the High School and using while on duty. TPD along with K9 conducted a traffic stop and Cherry admitted that he used it during work hours inside the school.

 

Taylorville School District Superintendent Dr. Chris Dougherty was notified and Cherry was immediately placed on administrative leave with pay. 

 

The district issued a statement by Dr. Dougherty that they are still working with the local authorities on the investigation of Cherry, who is a night custodian and has been with the district since August 2019.  Dr. Dougherty indicated when Cherry showed up for his shift Wednesday night, he was apprehended by police and taken into custody.

 

Dr. Dougherty said, quote - “We do not condone bad behavior anywhere in our schools and removed him immediately from our campus. We are following protocol set forth by district policy which leads to termination.”

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Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 24

TAX FILING SEASON BEGINS NEXT WEEK. 

 

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESPERSON MAURA KOWNACKI.

 

 

IT'S EASY TO FILE YOUR ILLINOIS RETURN ONLINE SAYS KOWNACKI.

 

 

IF TAXPAYERS FILE AN ERROR-FREE RETURN AND CHOOSE DIRECT DEPOSIT, THEY SHOULD RECEIVE THEIR REFUND IN ABOUT FOUR WEEKS. INCOME TAX RETURNS ARE DUE BY MONDAY, APRIL 18TH. VISIT TAX DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV FOR MORE INFORMATION.

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Illinois Corn Growers Association Touts Lock, Dam Funding

Significant funding on the way for Lock and Dam 25 on the Mississippi River, just north of St. Louis. React from Jim Tarman from the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

 

 

Tarman has served the Illinois Corn Growers Association since 1994.

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Federal Funding on Way to Improve Locks, Dams Along Mississippi, Illinois Rivers

Hundreds of millions of dollars are coming to improve locks and dams along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The funding is part of the recently passed infrastructure bill from Biden Administration.

 

$732 million will be directed to Lock and Dam 25, north of St. Louis and millions more to locks on the Illinois river. Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos says the improvements are a long time coming for infrastructure that was built when Franklin Roosevelt was president.

 

 

Lock and Dam 25 will be expanded to allow for the passage of 1200 foot barge tows.

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Central Illinois Regional Airport Deputy Director Says 5G Technology Not Impacting Smaller Airports

The aviation industry is warning against the rollout of 5G band networks across the country, but one airport in central Illinois says the rollouts are not affecting their airport.

 

Many large airports have warned against the technology next to runways that could interfere with crucial safety equipment essential to pilots in take-off and landing in inclement weather. At Central Illinois Regional Airport, Deputy Director Fran Strebing (STREE-bing) said the new technology is not affecting smaller airports like CIRA but is impacting large airports like O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

 

 

Earlier this week, major cellphone carriers AT&T and Verizon announced they would pause the rollout of the 5G technology near airports.

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Battlecross Crusaders Activity Picking Up in 2022

Battlecross Crusaders launched in 2021 and the DeWitt County-based non-profit is getting its support of local veterans going already and things start for them on Saturday.

 

Jeff Morlock says on Saturday, they will be out supporting a local World War II veteran who recently passed away. He is encouraging the local veterans and the community to join them in Clinton.

 

 

Early next month, Morlock says they are going to be doing a special celebration for the 100th birthday of a Bloomington World War II veteran. Morlock indicates they got connected with Roy Roberts through the Library of Congress testimonial project through the Warner Library. 

 

 

Battlecross Crusaders were recently gifted some electronics that they found homes for with local families in need. Morlock says there were some leftover items they also donated to The Vault for their use.

 

 

Get more information about these upcoming events and keep up with the latest with Battlecross Crusaders by finding them on Facebook. 

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State Officials Cautiously Optimistic About Decline in COVID Cases, Hospitalizations

STATE OFFICIALS ARE CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE RECENT DECLINE IN COVID-19 NUMBERS IN ILLINOIS. 

 

IT LOOKS LIKE THE OMICRON SURGE HAS HIT ITS PEAK, WITH A DROP IN CASES AND HOSPITALIZATIONS SINCE REACHING RECORD HIGHS ONE WEEK AGO SAYS GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER. THAT INCLUDES A NEARLY 12 PERCENT DECREASE IN COVID HOSPITALIZATIONS OVER THE PAST SEVEN DAYS, ALTHOUGH JUST 10 PERCENT OF I-C-U BEDS ACROSS THE STATE ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR CONTINUES TO URGE ILLINOISANS TO GET THE VACCINE AND COVID BOOSTER, AND URGES THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY DONE SO TO REACH OUT TO OTHERS WHO MAY STILL BE HESTITANT. STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE'RE OUT OF THE WOODS YET.

 

 

AT LATEST COUNT, THERE WERE MORE THAN 65-HUNDRED ILLINOIS COVID PATIENTS IN THE HOSPITAL AND JUST 10 PERCENT OF I-C-U BEDS STATEWIDE ARE AVAILABLE. EZIKE SAYS THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IS STILL UNDER TREMENDOUS PRESSURE WITH SO MANY CASES OF THE VIRUS.

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St. Louis District Dairy Council Dietician Talks Healthy Eating in 2022

As you continue to embark on a healthy lifestyle or recognize you need to, a central Illinois dietician has some recommendations on how to make sure you keep making progress.

 

Monica Nyman with the St. Louis District Dairy Council says you need to start small and set goals that are achievable. Her recommendations are what she tells all her clients across all spectrums.

 

 

For starting healthier eating, Nyman encourages gradually shifting to foods that offer nutrients and vitamins we need rather than foods with empty calories. She says this is a good method for the prevention of chronic diseases. 

 

 

Nyman advocates for doing these things with an accountability buddy. She says having someone you can meet for a workout or someone to take a walk with, will keep us accountable.

 

 

Nyman's recommendations wouldn't be complete if she didn't offer the benefits of regularly incorporating dairy into our diets. She says dairy offers great nutrients and proteins we need.

 

 

If you're interested in more tips on dieting and how to incorporate dairy into your meals further, you can visit stldairycouncil.org. 

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Inflation Pressuring Input Costs

The ag sector continues to keep a watchful eye on 2022 input costs, especially fertilizer prices. Inflation and several other factors are part of the equation.

 

 

Gary Schnitkey is the Soybean Industry Chair in Agricultural Strategy at the University of Illinois.

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IFB Hosting Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference Next Month

They call it “GALC”. The Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference hosted by Illinois Farm Bureau at the Bank of Springfield Center on Feb. 15. Ryan Whitehouse is IFB’s Associate Director of Local Government and Political Engagement.

 

 

Registration information is available at ilfb.org/galc.

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Clinton Board of Education Approves Lawsuit Against ISBE

The Clinton Board of Education Tuesday night approved joining a lawsuit against the Illinois State Board of Education to sue over its mandates on schools.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Superintendent Curt Nettles told Regional Radio News the lawsuit contends ISBE does not have the authority to issue mandates that are not legislated. 

 

 

According to Nettles, this will be a lawsuit that other districts join them in the filing. He was not at liberty on Wednesday to share who those districts will be but says the collaborating he's done with districts in central and southern Illinois has run its course in other efforts and this is the next step in their efforts.

 

 

Nettles is looking forward to March and April when the weather is warmer, fewer people are sick and hopefully having the ability to make local decisions surrounding COVID. 

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United Way Introducing 'Dolly Parton's Imagination Library' to DeWitt County

Children under five years old will have a chance to begin building a personal library thanks to a program a non-profit based in Macon County.

 

The United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois is expanding the program 'Dolly Parton's Imagination Library' to DeWitt County. Director of Marketing, Ryan Huffer indicates it will go live Thursday and children five and under are eligible to receive free books every month through this program.

 

 

Huffer explains they will have information about the program all over the county in the coming weeks about how to register for the program. He adds there will be registration information in those brochures or you can register via the United Way website.

 

 

As the program gets introduced in DeWitt County, Huffer explains they will be seeking out partners in the community to help support the program. He notes it is a very expansive program and there is quite a cost to it and so they will be seeking businesses, individuals, and groups to help support it.

 

 

This Thursday, the program goes live and you can visit imaginationlibrary.com for more information about the program or visit uwdecatur.org. 

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Piatt County Mental Health Director Wonders if Trauma of COVID is Causing Greater Problems

Are the increases in anxiety and depression the symptom of a greater cause?

 

That's a question posed by Piatt County Mental Health Center Executive Director Tony Kirkman who wonders if those things are a greater symptom of trauma exposure COVID has brought to bear. 

 

 

On the WHOW Morning Show, Kirkman wonders if an aspect of learned helplessness is setting in. He says it is a mentality that no matter what a person does, their circumstances are not going to change.

 

 

Kirkman expressed his deep concern for our youth because of the lack of play they have had in the last few years. He explains playing with their peers is a huge part of the development of a child.

 

 

For Kirkman, this trauma has caused people to become more irritable and more confrontational. He believes a lot of people have lost the grit they could tap into before COVID.

 

 

We're all going through this situation together and Kirkman encourages anyone who feels they may need an outside perspective to seek out clinical health. He's been reading a lot about the correlations between gut health and mental health and says there is research to suggest when we are anxious or depressed we feel it in our gut and he encourages people to slow down the self-medicating and get some sunlight and move. 

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Central Illinois Lawmaker Sizes Up Republican Gubernatorial Candidates

Monday, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin added his name to an increasing list of challengers to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker's re-election bid next November.

 

State Representative Dan Caulkins says on the surface, Mayor Irvin looks like a strong candidate but some of his prior voting records are suspect and he has made some controversial comments in support of his potential opponent next fall.

 

 

The Decatur Republican says his other relationships with other Illinois Democrats could be problematic for his campaign. Caulkins did offer a bit of compassion as he is the Mayor of a major city in Illinois and would want to maintain a positive relationship with some delegates in that capacity.

 

 

Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin is backing Mayor Irvin and a slate of republicans to challenge in several offices. Rep. Caulkins questions the need for Griffin to step in and finance these candidates when there are good candidates already seeking the nominations.

 

 

According to Rep. Caulkins, he believes establishment Republicans in Illinois do not believe in Sen. Bailey or they are afraid of him. Either way, he points to Mayor Irvin's stance on immigration as another issue he does not align with Republicans on. 

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Illinois Senate Minority Leader Renews Calls to Give Illinois Voters More Powers

SENATE MINORITY LEADER DAN MCCONCHIE IS RENEWING HIS CALL TO EMPOWER ILLINOIS VOTERS. 

 

G-O-P LEADER MCCONCHIE HAS A PACKAGE OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS THAT HE SAYS PROVIDE THE GOVERNMENT WITH THE NEEDED CHECKS AND BALANCES.

 

 

THE PACKAGE OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS BEING PROPOSED BY MCCONCHIE GIVES VOTERS THE ABILITY TO RECALL CORRUPT ELECTED OFFICIALS INCLUDING LAWMAKERS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS AND TO INITIATE REFERENDUMS ON RECENTLY PASSED LAWS.

 

 

ONE OF THE AMENDMENTS CREATES AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION TO DRAW LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS WHILE ANOTHER LETS VOTERS INITIATE REFERENDUMS ON NEWLY PASSED LAW. A THIRD GIVES VOTERS THE ABILITY TO RECALL ELECTED OFFICIALS INCLUDING LEGISLATORS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS.

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Tractor Sales Up in 2021

2021 proved to be a good year for combine and tractor sales. Curt Blades is with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

 

 

Combine sales were up 24-percent last year, according to AEM data. A total of 360,000 tractors and combines left dealer lots in North America last year.

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Kenney Heritage Association Hosting Jan. 29 Pancake Breakfast

The Kenney Heritage Association is inviting the public to join them on Saturday, January 29 for a pancake and sausage breakfast.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Lisa Wilhelm told Regional Radio News this is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the organization that is charged with maintaining the Kenney Community Building.

 

 

The Kenney Heritage Association relies on several sources of revenue for the building upkeep. Wilhelm explains two primary sources are its rentals of the facility but they also fundraise in addition to the pancake breakfast this month.

 

 

The Kenney Heritage Association was established in 1994 and Wilhelm says they were charged renovating and then maintaining the facility for the community of Kenney to use.

 

 

The Kenney Heritage Association's pancake and sausage breakfast are Saturday, January 29 from 6 am to 2 pm. Wilhelm says they will offer carry-out breakfasts for those wanting meals on the go.

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Social Security Offers Updated Reminders on Babies and Social Security Cards

If you or someone you know is expecting a new baby, Social Security is offering its annual reminder about getting the child a Social Security Card.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security says the process has really become streamlined as it is probably one of the last things a young parent is probably thinking about. He explains oftentimes, the hospital staff where the child is born will ask if you want to apply for a Social Security card and then take care of a lot of the heavy lifting in the process.

 

 

It generally takes about 3-4 weeks to receive the Social Security card in Illinois. The Social Security card will be mailed to the address you gave the hospital. According to Myers, if you move in the meantime, the Post Office will forward the card as long as you put in a forwarding order, but that will likely add some additional time.  

 

 

Myers stresses applying for the number before you leave the hospital is as easy as checking a box and it will save you time and energy that you are going to need. 

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OSF Doctor Discusses COVID and Diabetes

Adults with diabetes need to be extra careful of COVID-19 as they are more likely to be hospitalized if infected. 

 

That is the findings of a report recently published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. A member of the OSF HealthCare team has some advice for diabetics. Tanya Munger, a nurse practitioner for OSF HealthCare Endocrinology, says people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are at greater risk for severe complications with any viral illness, especially COVID-19.

 

 

The study looked at data from 767 patients with COVID-19 and Type 1 diabetes from 56 diabetes clinics across the country. The study found patients older than 40 were seven times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to younger patients. The bottom line, she says, is people with diabetes should take all precautions necessary to stay as healthy as possible.

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County Fair Officials Gather in Springfield

The theme was Back in Business. Illinois county fair officials gathered in Springfield over the weekend. Ken Tyrrell of Sandwich in DeKalb County finished up his term as president of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs. He says after county fairs were canceled in 2020, they did a nice job recovering in 2021.

 

 

The new president of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs is Jill Hardesty of Farmer City.

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'Welcome to Clinton' Signage Expected to be Updated in 2022

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with the City of Clinton's new administrator to update signage as people enter the community.

 

Executive Director Marian Brisard indicates they are going to work with Darin Girdler to update the 'Welcome to Clinton' signs that she says need to be refreshed.

 

 

Brisard anticipates those signs being updated this year. 

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Community Action Executive Director to Step Down

Community Action of Central Illinois is losing its Executive Director.

 

Alison Rumler-Gomez announced Friday she will be stepping down from her post. She told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Friday she has a family that is beginning to enter new phases of life and wants to be able to be there for all the things they have going on.

 

 

Under the guidance of Rumler-Gomez, Community Action shifted its overall mission. She explains they became an agency focused on a 'hand-up' model rather than a 'handout' model and felt the agency really lacked a direction when she arrived.

 

 

One of the successes of the shift in mission and culture was the fact only a small amount of staff moved on. Rumler-Gomez says that is very unusual but felt the staff was hungry for a direction.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez credits her Director of Agency Development, Breann Titus for the buy-in on the changes from so many of the agency stakeholders. From Board members to the community to clients, she says Titus understood the messaging that had to be scrutinized to make the new direction work.

 

 

Rumler-Gomez feels most proud that she is leaving behind an agency of people that are capable of carrying on the mission she has set forward for them. She felt that allowed her the peace of mind to resign and pursue the next endeavor for her life. 

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Pandemic Continues to Impact Peoples Health

Has the pandemic impacted your health in a good way or a bad way?

 

The likelihood is it has impacted your health in a negative way but for some, they have found healthier habits since the spring of 2020. Whether that describes you or not, the St. Louis District Dairy Council's Monica Nyman indicates obesity is up.

 

 

While many people go to the gym or begin a routine that is fitness-based, Nyman says you need to evaluate your diet at the same time. She says we all need to find the 'why' in our story. 

 

 

Nyman indicates there are a number of health trends experts are identifying as we get into 2022. Among them is approaching health through a 'health span over life span' which seeks to reduce people's risks to chronic diseases. There's also a superfood that could boom in popularity and people may snack less or snack healthier. 

 

 

Nyman encourages doing some calorie counting as you seek to eat better this year. She feels you may be surprised at just how high in calories a lot of the foods you are consuming are. 

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DNR Discusses Snowmobile Safety

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES IS URGING SNOWMOBILERS TO FOCUS ON SAFETY THIS WINTER. 

 

RIDERS NEED TO MAKE SURE THEIR SNOWMOBILE IS IN GOOD RUNNING CONDITION AND WEAR THE PROPER CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT LIKE HELMETS, GLOVES AND GOGGLES SAYS D-N-R SAFETY EDUCATION ADMINISTRATOR JEFF HOPKINS. HE SAYS WHEN PEOPLE GET INTO TROUBLE, IT'S OFTEN BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW THE LAND VERY WELL AND RUN INTO FENCES OR TRY AND CROSS BODIES OF WATER.

 

 

HOPKINS SAYS ANOTHER BIG PROBLEM IS PEOPLE DRINKING AND SNOWMOBILING. HE RECOMMENDS ALWAYS RIDING WITH SOMEONE ELSE AND KEEPING AN EYE ON THE WEATHER.

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Grundy County Farmer Takes Key Role at USDA

The new State Executive Director for the USDA Illinois Farm Service Agency is now on the job. Scott Halpin grew up on a farm in Gardner in Grundy County.

 

 

Halpin started his new job Jan. 3.

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Congressman Davis Introduces 'Open Schools Act'

Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis wants American Rescue Plan funding to go to families who want their child to go to a different school if the district moves to remote learning.

 

Last week the Taylorville Republican introduced the "Open Schools Act," which would give families up to 10-thousand dollars per student if the district closes due to COVID-19.

 

 

According to Davis, the bill is being introduced after the Chicago Teachers Union "abandoned" Chicago school kids.

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Familiar Face Returning to DeWitt County Friendship Center

A familiar face returns to the DeWitt County Friendship Center this week.

 

Dianne Cusey was popular among attendees of the DeWitt County Friendship Center and late last year moved on to a new endeavor. Paula Jiles is the Executive Director of the Friendship Center and says Cusey will return to her former role with Community Care Systems.

 

 

The Friendship Center is open on Monday. Jiles indicates Mike Warner, who took Cusey's role in Community Care Systems, was sought out by his former employer to return. 

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Clinton Chamber Director Reflects on 2021

Looking back on 2021, it was a very successful year for a Clinton non-profit.

 

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce saw banner events for the spring event May Days and then its biggest fundraiser of the year, the annual Terror on Washington Street Haunted House. On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Executive Director Marian Brisard told Regional Radio it was a nice rebound from 2020 where so much was canceled.

 

 

Looking to 2022, the Chamber is planning to return the annual Business Expo to its March date during spring break at the school district. May Days, the golf outing, the haunted house, and the Christmas parade are all events that will be on for 2022 again. 

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Illinois Attorney General Announces $145-Million Settlement with Student Loan Company Navient

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL KWAME RAOUL IS ANNOUNCING A NATIONWIDE SETTLEMENT WITH ONE OF THE LARGEST STUDENT LENDERS IN THE COUNTRY.

 

NAVIENT HAS AGREED TO PAY ONE-POINT-EIGHT-FIVE BILLION DOLLARS OVER ALLEGATIONS THAT THE COMPANY, PREVIOUSLY OPERATING AS SALLIE MAE, STEERED STUDENT BORROWERS TOWARDS PREDATORY LOANS. THE LOANS WERE FOR TUITION AT FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES SAYS ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL.

 

 

ILLINOIS' SHARE IS OVER 145 MILLION DOLLARS, WITH MORE THAN 18 THOUSAND BORROWERS SET TO RECEIVE PAYOUTS OF ABOUT 260 DOLLARS EACH. A POSTCARD NOTIFICATION WILL BE SENT TO THOSE ELIGIBLE THIS SPRING. ANOTHER FIVE THOUSAND PLUS BORROWERS IN ILLINOIS WILL HAVE THEIR DEBT CANCELLED.

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DeWitt County Clerk, Treasurer Not Seeking Re-Election in 2022

County Clerk Dana Smith and County Treasurer Gloria Wills have announced they do not intend to seek re-election in 2022.

 

Both submitted their intentions to Republican Party Chairman Dustin Peterson this week. 

 

Wills has been an employee in the County Treasurer's office since 1993 and in 2015 was elected to the post of County Treasurer. She says it is time for her to 'kick back' and spend time with her family. 

 

She thanked the County for its support of her over the years and is appreciative of the working relationship with the other office holders of the County.

 

In a written statement to Peterson, Smith says she is going to retire at the end of her term and says it has been a pleasure to serve the residents of DeWitt County. 

 

Kari Allen Harris will run for the position and has the endorsement of Smith in her pursuit of the post. 

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DeWitt County Museum Aviation Exhibit Proving There's a Story to be Told

Last year, DeWitt County Museum Director Joey Long along with John Warner introduced to the public an aviation exhibit that is going to be coming to the Museum this year telling the stories of those involved in aviation in DeWitt County.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Long told Regional Radio they are receiving a tremendous response to its call for artifacts, stories, and pictures of those in DeWitt County that maybe flew in wars or were involved in other aspects of aviation.

 

 

Warner believes this is going to be a very popular exhibit for everyone, not just those in DeWitt County. He is very, very happy that people have embraced this idea.

 

 

Edith Brady-Lunny has been recruited in the effort to sit down with those that have a story to tell and record their testimonies and ask them questions about their stories. While they have a lot of material already, she is encouraging people to continue to submit their stories and artifacts. 

 

 

To get your object or story to the Museum, contact Long at the Museum by calling 217-935-6066 or by emailing chmoore.homestead@gmail.com. 

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Tri-Valley Names New Superintendent

Tri-Valley Schools Superintendent Dr. David Mouser late last year was named the new Superintendent of Bloomington School District 87 and his replacement at Tri-Valley has been named.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Dr. Mouser told Regional Radio pending School Board approval, High School Principal Ben Derges has been named the new Superintendent. Dr. Mouser says Mr. Derges was one of two very good internal candidates. 

 

 

According to Dr. Mouser, Derges brings a good work ethic that is relationship-driven and is very creative, and has a wealth of experience. He believes he'd be a great superintendent in any district and feels fortunate to have him step into the role at Tri-Valley. 

 

 

Dr. Mouser believes there's a benefit to hiring an internal candidate. He explains an internal hire provides continuity to the community and the district but they also understand the culture of the district.

 

 

Tri-Valley in the last 18 months has wrapped up a multi-million dollar facility renovation. Dr. Mouser says with that complete, the biggest things facing Derges will likely be continuing to bring kids back to where they should be after the learning loss through the pandemic. He also points to overcoming the shortage of teachers. 

 

 

Dr. Mouser says having Derges there in the same buildings during the transition is going to be very beneficial and he has a front-row seat to learn and watch Dr. Mouser in person oftentimes. 

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State Seeking More Healthcare Workers

As of late this week the state had just 8 percent of ICU beds available. One of the ways to get more “open” beds is to have more staff. That’s why the state is contracting another 2,048 health care workers. More than 900 are already on the job and 550 more will be here by next Friday. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says the entire healthcare system is under strain.

 

 

The state recorded 142 deaths on Thursday of this week. the highest single total since January 7th of 2021.

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Beware of Bogus COVID Tests

The US Food and Drug Administration is warning people of fraudulent coronavirus tests, vaccines, and treatments as the pandemic continues. Since the arrival of the Omicron variant, the increase of testing for COVID-19 has become a concern. Scarcity often leads to potential scams for a product that doesn't exist, the compromise of personal identifiable information, or the increase of deceptive advertising. Better Business Bureau investigator Don O’Brien says fake testing sites have started to pop up.

 

 

Robocalls are being sent out to consumers directing them to a website that looks like a clinic or medical supply company offering COVID-19 tests. To receive a test, a credit card or a form needs to be completed with personal information. That, O’Brien reminds, should be an immediate red flag.

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IDPH Director Too Early to Tell if Omicron Has Peaked

THE STATE'S TOP PUBLIC HEALTH DOCTOR SAYS IT'S TOO SOON TO TELL IF THE OMICRON VARIANT HAS PEAKED.

 

CASES HAVE BEEN SURGING IN RECENT WEEKS, HITTING THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE ENTIRE PANDEMIC. ILLINOIS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS THERE HAS BEEN A SLIGHT DROP IN CASES THE PAST COUPLE OF DAYS, BUT THAT'S NOT ENOUGH OF A TREND TO BREATHE A SIGN OF RELIEF YET.

 

 

THE LATEST DAILY TOTALS INCLUDE MORE THAN 37-THOUSAND NEW CASES AND 142 ADDITIONAL DEATHS. HOSPITALIZATIONS ARE AT AN ALL TIME HIGH OF SEVEN-THOUSAND-380.

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Secretary of State's Office Announces $6-Million in Pandemic Library Grants

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE'S OFFICE IS ANNOUNCING SIX MILLION DOLLARS IN GRANTS TO LIBRARIES TRYING TO COPE DURING THE PANDEMIC. 

 

THE GRANTS ARE GOING TO 211 SCHOOL, ACADEMIC AND PUBLIC LIBRARIES TO HELP PROVIDE ESSENTIAL SERVICES SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT. THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF GRANTS BEING AWARDED.

 

 

THE SECOND GRANT FOCUSES ON LIBRARIES OFFERING MORE DIGITAL SERVICES AND THE THIRD HELPS LIBRARIES RESTORE THE ABILITY TO OFFER CLEAN AND SAFE SPACES WHILE PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19.

 

 

THE GRANTS ARE FUNDED BY STATE AND FEDERAL SOURCES INCLUDING THE AMERCIAN RESCUE PLAN.

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Implement Dealer Discusses Business Climate

How are implement dealers faring with supply chain issues and the ongoing pandemic. Luke McVey is with Birkey’s Farm Store in Galesburg.

 

 

Birkey’s has 16 locations throughout Illinois.

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Secretary of State Offices to Remain Closed Another Week

ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE SAYS DRIVER'S SERVICES FACILITIES WILL CLOSED FOR ONE MORE WEEK.

 

SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT SAYS THE DECISION WAS MADE OUT OF AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION AS THE PANDEMIC CONTINUES. OFFICES AND DRIVER'S FACILITIES WILL OPEN TO THE PUBLIC ON JANUARY 24TH AND 25TH.

 

 

HE SAYS THIS SHOULDN'T CAUSE TOO BIG OF A HASSLE.

 

 

AT: IL SOS DOT GOV YOU CAN ORDER A DUPLICATE LICENSE OR RENEW YOUR LICENSE PLATE STICKER. HAUPT REMINDS THAT THE EXPIRATION DATE FOR STATE DRIVER'S LICENSES AND I-D CARDS HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO MARCH 31ST.

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DARE Program Begins Next Week at Clinton Elementary School

Next week, the annual DARE program kicks off in Clinton Elementary School.

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers is one of the certified DARE instructors in the community and explains the curriculum focuses on effective communication and obviously drug, tobacco and alcohol awareness but it can also be modified to address issues of the day.

 

 

According to Chief Lowers, the DARE program has been under scrutiny due to its effectiveness. He believes even if they impact a small number of individuals, it is worth the investment.

 

 

For Chief Lowers, the DARE program also provides positive interactions between law enforcement and the kids in the school. The reality is many kids have already had negative interactions with law enforcement, but the Chief feels the positive nature of the program could change those perceptions.

 

 

Chief Lowers explains while the program is centered around drug awareness, they actually only spend one lesson on the dangers of drugs and instead focus on effective communication and making good choices.

 

 

Bullying is also a big topic of conversation and the Chief tries to instill lessons of understanding that those things kids send to each other never really go away. 

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Rep. Caulkins Talks Upcoming Budget for State of Illinois

The State of Illinois budget is looking to be in good shape this year and a central Illinois lawmaker recently discussed some of the things it has going for it.

 

Rep. Dan Caulkins says the federal COVID money of the last few years has propped up the budget and made it look good but he also points out many revenue sources are showing positive signs.

 

 

According to Rep. Caulkins, one of the things the Governor is proposing to balance the budget is to further increase taxes on Illinois businesses. He adds the new Speaker is proposing leaving Springfield for the summer a month in advance of the normal schedule.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins says it is very likely Illinois Democrats will cram through a budget but he also notes there is a process they have to follow and has not had any indication Democrats have started the process yet. 

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State of Illinois Deploying 2,000-Plus Healthcare Workers to Help at Overrun Hospitals

THE STATE IS DEPLOYING MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND HEALTH CARE WORKERS TO HELP HOSPITALS WITH SURGING COVID-19 CASES. 

 

AT LAST COUNT, THERE WERE MORE THAN 72-HUNDRED COVID PATIENTS IN THE HOSPITAL AND ILLINOIS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS THIS IS OVERWHELMING THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

 

 

ILLINOIS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS STAFFING HAS BECOME A BIG PROBLEM.

 

 

IN RESPONSE, ADDITIONAL MEDICAL STAFF ARE BEING SENT AROUND THE STATE AND COVID RESPONSE TEAMS ARE ALSO AT THE READY. DOCTOR EZIKE SAYS JUST NINE PERCENT OF I-C-U BEDS ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN ILLINOIS.

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Record Breaking Yields in '21 Crop Production Report

2021 CROP PRODUCTION NUMBERS ARE IN WITH ILLINOIS POSTING SOME RECORD BREAKING YIELDS. 

 

ILLINOIS WAS THE NUMBER TWO CORN PRODUCING STATE LAST YEAR, JUST BEHIND IOWA SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER. THE ESTIMATED CORN YIELD IS 202 BUSHELS PER ACRE, UP 11 BUSHELS FROM 2020.

 

 

THE STATE IS THE TOP PRODUCER OF SOYBEANS IN THE U-S SAYS CHLEUSENER.

 

 

THE STATE REMAINS THE TOP PRODUCER OF SOYBEANS, WITH AN ESTIMATED YIELD OF 64 BUSHELS PER ACRE. PRODUCTION IS ESTIMATED TO BE MORE THAN 672 MILLION BUSHELS, UP NINE PERCENT FROM 2020. WINTER WHEAT PRODUCTION INCREASED BY 36 PERCENT.

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National Blood Crisis Looms

Saying it is the worst blood shortage they’ve seen in over a decade, the American Red Cross says there is a national blood crisis. There has recently been less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals, and at times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met. Red Cross spokesman Joe Zydlo (ZID-low) says it’s a dire situation.

 

 

Anyone that donates before January 31 will be eligible for a chance to experience the Super Bowl live. You can donate at any of a number of blood drives coming up this month. You can find out where to give blood at www.redcrossblood.org.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Pleased with Policy Movement at AFBF Annual Meeting

Illinois represented in delegate session and policy discussion at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Atlanta. An update from IFB president Rich Guebert.

 

The AFBF annual meeting wraps up Wednesday.

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Department of Ag Director Reacts to Crop Production Numbers

The January USDA crop production numbers released this week. Reaction from Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello.

 

 

The Illinois wheat yield averaged 79 bushels per acre, breaking the 2017 record of 76 bushels an acre.

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2021 Illinois Weather Was Warmer, Wetter Than Normal

LAST YEAR WAS WARMER AND WETTER THAN NORMAL IN ILLNOIS.

 

2021 ENDED UP AS THE 10TH WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS, WITH AN AVERAGE TEMPERATURE OF 53-POINT-SEVEN DEGREES. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD SAYS THAT'S REMARKABLE SINCE LAST FEBRUARY WAS SO COLD.

 

 

FORD SAYS ALONG WITH THE MILD TEMPS CAME MORE SEVERE WEATHER LAST YEAR.

 

 

PRECIPITATION WAS A LITTLE BIT ABOVE NORMAL LAST YEAR, ALTHOUGH TOTALS VARIED WIDELY ACROSS THE STATE, ESPECIALLY IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS WHERE IT WAS VERY DRY MUCH OF THE TIME. 

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7,000 Illinoisans In Hospital With COVID

With more than 7000 people hospitalized in Illinois with COVID the state’s health system is being maxed out.

 

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says that could make it difficult for those getting sick or injured to find the care they need.

 

 

Ezike wants to see a consistent decline in cases and hospitalizations before saying a peak in cases has been reached.

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New DCDC Executive Director Calls 2022 'Important Year'

2022 is here and a local economic development entity is gearing up for a big year.

 

In 2021, the DeWitt County Development Council named Curt Homann it's new Executive Director and he is readying for big things from the organization in 2022. A continued effort this year will be more grant opportunities for local businesses. 

 

 

In 2022, the DCDC will also be promoting its revolving loan fund. Homann indicates this is available at a low-interest rate and is often used as gap funding for start-ups or existing businesses.

 

 

In his short time serving as the Executive Director of the DCDC, Homann has been making the rounds to City Council, County Board, and other meetings to meet with local leaders. He feels those early interactions have already proven to be productive and looks forward to working with local leaders going forward.

 

 

Homann indicates in 2022, watch for business spotlights on social media and is looking forward to bringing back the leaders' breakfasts that were a staple of the organization before COVID. 

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La Nina Weather Pattern Beginning to Weaken

Despite a trend change for January and the early part of February, the Climate Prediction Center is still keeping its outlook intact for a warmer than normal late February and March.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates the outlooks for January and early February have gone to a colder than average prediction but the late-February and March outlooks are holding strong.

 

 

According to Shimon, the La Nina winter is starting to weaken. He says this has been a relatively average La Nina weather pattern this time around.

 

 

Shimon indicates in a stronger La Nina winter, its impacts are felt in the January and February months but this time around it was mostly in December. He indicates it can make outlooks out of the Climate Prediction Center harder to anticipate.

 

 

Shimon calls the outlooks for late February and March prominent and persistent, so he feels confident the cold of this month will not last the entire winter. 

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State of Illinois Launching New COVID Vaccine Campaign

THE STATE IS LAUNCHING A NEW COVID-19 VACCINE CAMPAIGN IN HOPES OF REACHING THOSE STILL ON THE FENCE ABOUT GETTING THE SHOTS.

 

THE INITIAL ROLLOUT FEATURES FOUR VIDEOS FROM ILLINOISANS WHO WERE INITIALLY HESITANT ABOUT GETTING THE VACCINE. THAT INCLUDES KEN, A PASTOR FROM DANVILLE WHO, ALONG WITH HIS WIFE, CAUGHT THE VIRUS.

 

 

SHANNON IS A NURSE FROM QUINCY WHO CONTRACTED THE VIRUS OVER A YEAR AGO BUT HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO RETURN TO WORK YET.

 

 

MORE VIDEOS IN THE "ON THE FENCE" CAMPAIGN WILL BE RELEASED IN COMING WEEKS. ACCORDING TO THE C-D-C, THE UNVACCINATED ARE 17 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID THAN THOSE WHO HAVE GOTTEN THEIR SHOTS AND THE BOOSTER.

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Local County Farm Bureaus Recognized at American Farm Bureau Meeting

Local county farm bureaus being recognized at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Atlanta. A Counties of Excellence Award goes to Woodford County and their "Lessons in a Bucket Project" says Woodford County Farm Bureau Manager Malena Cook.

 

 

St. Clair County Farm Bureau also honored with a Counties of Excellence Award for a May Beef Month project and Kane County Farm Bureau earned recognition for a pollinator/rain garden planted at their office.

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Demmer Running for State Treasurer

Another Republican is joining the statewide race. 

 

Tom Demmer is seeking a nomination for State Treasurer. Demmer, a member of the Illinois House says in a campaign ad that he has a history of fighting against bloated government and institutional corruption.

 

 

Democrat incumbent Mike Frerichs says as a member of the house, Demmer voted against financial reforms he supported. Including legislation that forced life insurance companies to pay death benefits.

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Ameren Illinois Touting Top Customer Service Ranking

Ameren Illinois celebrates the fact that J.D Power named them number one in customer satisfaction in the Midwest among Large Electric Utility Providers. Richard Mark is the President and Chairman of Ameren Illinois and he gives credit to Ameren employees and their community-based approach to customer service...

 

 

It's an important milestone for Ameren as just 10 years ago they ranked 15 out of 16 Large Electric Utility Providers in the Midwest in the same J.D Power customer service ranking.

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Bement Schools to Adopt Five-Day Quarantine Guidance

When the CDC recently announced shortened quarantine periods for exposures to COVID, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced they would soon be announcing their guidance to fall in line with the CDC.

 

That has been several days and Illinois school leaders are growing impatient with the lack of guidance coming their way, so many are taking it upon themselves to adopt the guidance independent of ISBE. Among them is Bement Schools and on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Sheila Greenwood told Regional Radio this is another frustration in the overall situation surrounding COVID.

 

 

School leaders have been worried about the response from parents at the potential of having to continue to quarantine kids longer than the recommended guidelines from the CDC due to the slow response from ISBE. Dr. Greenwood credits her community for its continued patience and support of the district through everything of the last 20-plus months.

 

 

Dr. Greenwood calls this is a small step towards districts re-claiming local control as the State of Illinois' hold on the policies of schools begins to slowly splinter. 

 

 

Monticello and Clinton are among other districts in central Illinois that are implementing the new CDC guidance independent of direction from the State of Illinois. 

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Local Financial Coach Discusses Being Financially Successful in 2022

Spend less than you make.

 

That's the key to financial success says Connie Unruh with the TS Institute in Clinton. Unruh explains if you struggle with this, you should consider tracking what you are spending and what you are bringing in.

 

 

For someone on a fixed salary or income, planning for spending is going to be much easier. If you work a job where your salary may be inconsistent or reliant on a certain amount of hours, Unruh says you'll want to build in a bigger buffer for your spending.

 

 

When you first start out intentionally budgeting, Unruh encourages skipping all discretionary spending and sticking with only the basics and your needs. She notes, there's, unfortunately, a lot of contradictory messaging as it pertains to things we need and things we want. 

 

 

If you're looking to get your financial house in order in 2022 and would like a more personalized approach, Unruh offers one-on-one coaching. If you're interested in speaking with Unruh, you can contact her at First National Bank in Clinton at 217-935-7464. 

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Cold Temperature Trends Should Carryover to Early February

If you were hoping these bitter cold temperatures would be short-lived, it doesn't appear that is going to be the case.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln told Regional Radio these cold temperatures may very well last into early February before we start to see things change.

 

 

According to Shimon, in the last week or two, things have changed that cold is creeping farther south than before. He says the low pressure is going to give us cold air into at least the first of February.

 

 

Shimon indicates the Climate Prediction Center is holding to its prediction for above normal temperatures and rainfall heading into later February and March. That will be updated to though at some point next week. 

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New University of Illinois Project Offers Smoking Cessation Program to Small Businesses

A NEW UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION PROJECT HELPS SMALL BUSINESSES OFFER A SMOKING CESSATION PROGRAM TO EMPLOYEES. 

 

THE "BE A QUITTER" EFFORT COMES AT NO COST TO EMPLOYERS OR WORKERS, AND PROVIDES ACCESS TO TOP-NOTCH CESSATION STRATEGIES SAYS THE EXTENSION'S ALLEN BARTON.

 

 

IT PROVIDES A TAILOR-MADE QUIT PLAN TO EACH EMPLOYEE.

 

 

THAT INCLUDES LIVE CHAT COACHING WITH TOBACCO TREATMENT EXPERTS, MOTIVATING TEXT MESSAGES AND NICOTINE REPLACE THERAPY SUCH AS PATCHES, GUM AND LOZENGES. SMALL BUSINESS CAN GET MORE INFORMATION AND ENROLL IN THE PROGRAM ONLINE AT: GO DOT ILLINOIS DOT EDU SLASH BE A QUITTER.

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Sen. Durbin Says More At-Home COVID Tests Needed

Illinois' Senior Senator says President Biden's plan of sending at-home COVID-19 test kits to Americans is 'way behind,' as cases of Omicron (OH-muck-rahn) skyrocket.

 

Last month, President Biden said his administration would buy a half a-billion at-home COVID-19 tests free of charge. However, Durbin said the Biden administration has been 'slow to respond' to supply chain issues related to at-home test kits.

 

 

Last week, the Biden administration finalized a 50-million-dollar deal with Goldbelt Security to deliver the first batch of at-home COVID tests.

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Illinois Rail Study Wrapping Up

The Illinois Department of Transportation is inviting you to take part in a virtual public hearing January 21 to chime in on the ongoing study of the state’s rail system. There will be an update on input collected throughout the year on current conditions, capacity concerns and safety challenges

 

The online event will include a short video and information on feedback received since the study launched a year ago. IDOT spokesman Paul Wappel tells The Big Z the information gathered will be used in the development of a statewide rail plan.

 

 

The study will wrap up at the end of January. You can get more information at www.illinoisrailneeds.org

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American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting Underway

It was just a month ago that American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall spoke at the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting in Chicago. On Sunday, he gave the keynote address at the AFBF annual meeting in Atlanta and highlighted efforts to improve rural broadband.

 

 

The AFBF annual meeting wraps up Wednesday.

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Blue Ridge Schools on E-Learning Monday Due to Frozen Roads

The Blue Ridge School district is turning to e-learning for Monday, January 10 due to ongoing frozen roads in the district.

 

A road commissioner in the district contacted officials roads west of Bellflower have frozen and it is not safe or travel this (Monday) morning.

 

Students are asked to connect via Google Classroom, Google Meets, Clever or SeeSaw.

 

Coaches and sponsors of activities will contact students about the status of extracurricular events. 

 

Additionally, students can request meals by 9 am. 

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University of Illinois Extension Doing Online Survey of Farmers

Farmers were asked to complete a University of Illinois Extension online survey.

 

 

The extension's Katie Bell says the survey is anonymous and available at go.illinois.edu/AgNeeds.

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Mental Health First Aid for Ag Community Being Offered by University of Illinois Extension

Mental health in the agriculture community is a growing concern and in a few weeks, there is a special program being offered by the University of Illinois Extension Office that will address this.

 

Terri Miller-Casey is the Extension Director for the U of I Extension in Logan, Menard, and Sangamon Counties and explains as the challenges in agriculture continue to mount, so do the mental health issues and this will be a program to equip anyone close to someone in agriculture.

 

 

Death by suicide and forms of self-medication is on the rise among farmers and the general public. Miller-Casey says the one thing about farmers is they are very proud individuals who may have a hard time seeking out help and they want to be a resource for those that need help in this time.

 

 

While an ag-based organization like Extension, Miller-Casey believes anyone can benefit from this program and come away with the skills and resources to help themselves or others around them.

 

 

Miller-Casey says this is something the University of Illinois Extension has reached out to many organizations to help coordinate with. She believes it is going to be a powerful resource. 

 

Again this is a free program on January 19 from 8 am to 3:30 pm all online. Visit extension.illinois.edu for more on this program and many others. 

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New Legislation Aims to Increase Use of Personal Security Cam Footage

NEW LEGISLATION AIMS TO INCREASE THE USE OF PERSONAL VIDEO FOOTAGE TO SOLVE CRIMES. 

 

THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ZALEWSKI OF RIVERSIDE, WHO PATTERED THE MEASURE AFTER A SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM IN SUBURBAN ELMWOOD PARK.

 

 

UNDER THE PROPOSAL, THOSE SUBMITTING FOOTAGE WOULD RECEIVE ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS IF IT HELPS IN PROSECUTING A CRIME.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Reacts to Meat Supply Chain Action Plan

Ag groups continue to digest the Biden-Harris meat supply chain action plan announced last week. Tasha Bunting is Illinois Farm Bureau’s Associate Director of Commodities and Livestock Programs.

 

 

The action plan includes $1 billion to expand independent processing capacity.

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Congresswoman Bustos Discusses Rural Broadband Expansion

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos is touting the expansion of the availability of rural broadband to help Illinois farmers...

 

 

Bustos is hoping to make further expansion of rural broadband a part of the next Farm Bill in 2023 even as she will be leaving Congress before that Bill is finalized. Representative Bustos announced last year that this would be her final term in office and that term ends in January of 2023.

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Decatur Area Arts Council Offering Grants to Community

A Macon County non-profit has grants available for local arts groups who may host different events or who may need funding for various reasons.

 

The grants available through the Decatur Area Arts Council are how the organization gives back and Executive Director Jerry Johnson says the next round of grants are due February 1.

 

 

You can visit deacturarts.org/grants for more information. The program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and local donors.

 

In the past, it has helped the Scovill Zoo renovate a mural near their petting zoo among other local groups. 

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Social Security SS-1099s Coming This Month

The start of a new year means it's time to start thinking about filing last year’s taxes.

 

If you received Social Security benefits in 2021, one of the documents you will need is an SSA-1099. The SSA-1099 shows how much you received from Social Security as well as any voluntary tax withholding if applicable. You’ll need these figures for your tax return. Jack Myers with Social Security says you should receive your SSA-1099 in the mail this month, so be on the lookout for it. 

 

 

If you need a replacement SSA-1099 you can get one online via your mySocialSecurity account after February 1st at www.ssa.gov/myaccount, or you can call Social Security at 800-772-1213. You will not receive an SSA-1099 if you only received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2021.

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New Legislation Would Raise Penalty for Attacking DCFS Worker

THE DEATHS OF TWO ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES INVESTIGATORS ARE PROMPTING NEW LEGISLATION. 

 

THE MEASURE INCREASES THE PENALITIES FOR ATTACKING A D-C-F-S WORKER. A SIMILAR LAW ALREADY APPLIES TO POLICE OFFICERS, FIREFIGHTERS AND OTHER FIRST RESPONDERS. SENATOR DORIS TURNER OF SPRINGFIELD SAYS SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE AFTER THE BRUTAL MURDERS OF PAMELA KNIGHT A FEW YEARS AGO AND DEIDRE SILAS JUST THIS WEEK.

 

dcfsprotectbill1        :14         CUE: in this field.

 

TURNER IS PROPOSING A BILL RAISING THE PENALTIES FOR ATTACKING A D-C-F-S WORKER FROM A CLASS THREE FELONY TO THE MORE SERIOUS CLASS ONE FELONY.

 

dcfsprotectbill2        :13        CUE: accountable.

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HE SUPPORTS THE LEGISLATION.

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House Lawmakers Discuss 'Right to Repair' Legislation

NEW LEGISLATION IN THE ILLINOIS HOUSE ENSURES CONSUMERS HAVE MORE OPTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING EVERYTHING FROM CELL PHONES TO TRACTORS REPAIRED. 

 

THE RIGHT TO REPAIR ACT IS PART OF A NATIONAL CONVERSATION ABOUT WHETHER MANUFACTURERS CAN PLACE RESTRICTIONS ON WHO CAN PERFORM THE REPAIRS. ABE SCARR, DIRECTOR OF THE ILLINOIS PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP SAYS BOTTOM LINE, PEOPLE JUST WANT TO BE ABLE TO FIX THEIR STUFF.

 

 

DONOVAN GRIFFITH WITH THE ILLINOIS MANUFACTURES' ASSOCIATION TESTIFIED AGAINST THE PROPOSAL, SAYING IT'S TOO BROAD AND COULD BE USED TO MAKE DANGEROUS MODIFICATIONS TO A WIDE RANGE OF PRODUCTS.

 

 

THE BILL REQUIRES MANUFACTURERS TO PROVIDE PRODUCT OWNERS AND INDEPENDENT REPAIR SHOPS WITH DIAGNOSTIC SOFTWARE, MANUALS AND REPLACEMENT PARTS AT REASONABLE PRICES.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a bitterly cold finish to the week in Illinois. State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us what's ahead this weekend and next week...

 

 

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Smithsonian Democracy Exhibit Live at Warner Library

The Warner Library late last year announced a special exhibit on democracy in America that would be coming from the Smithsonian Institution and it is here, ready for the public to view.

 

Executive Director Bobbi Perryman says while the scaled-down exhibit is still large, it offers a lot of great information, artifacts, and other unique displays to tell the story of democracy in America. 

 

 

Part of the grant to receive the exhibit was for recipients to display stories of local democracy in their communities. Perriman indicates they have a trio of stories they are telling about local democracy.

 

 

There's a State of Illinois exhibit at the Library right now as well that tells the story of voting rights for African Americans in Illinois.

 

 

All month long, activities and events are happening at the Library in conjunction with these exhibits. Get more information by visiting vwarner.org and following along with the library on the various social media channels. 

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University of Illinois Extension Offering Program on 'Eight Dimensions of Wellness'

Taking an overall approach to wellness is the theme of a program coming from the University of Illinois Extension this year.

 

Caitlin Mellendorf on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday told Regional Radio News this is a holistic approach to your wellness. She reminds there's a lot of aspects to being well and this seeks to look at all of them.

 

 

According to Mellendorf, this is a very introspective look at ourselves and an ongoing analysis of ourselves. She says it relies a lot on our internal cues. 

 

 

This February, an eight-week program kicks off looks at the eight dimensions of wellness. According to Mellendorf, a sign-up of this free program welcomes you to a private Facebook group and gets you the programs happening for this series.

 

 

Extension.illinois.edu is the website to find out more and registrations begin on Friday, January 7 for the program that starts in February. Mellendorf points out this is a collaborative effort of wellness and nutrition educators across the state putting this on. 

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No Legislative Inspector General

This week marked the final days of for the Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope.

 

The job entails oversight of lawmakers and handling complaints against them. Republican Jill Tracy is upset that Pope is leaving without a replacement.

 

 

Democrats say that Tracy and other Republicans have blocked good faith efforts to move names forward in the appointment process, blocking two candidates who worked for Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and are both former Federal Prosecutors.

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John Deere Introduces Autonomous Tractor

One of the hits of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week isn’t a new cell phone or big TV. It’s a tractor. A John Deere tractor that will operate in the field without anyone in the cab. Farmer Doug Nimz of Minnesota helped introduce the autonomous tractor that was running on his farm this year.

 

 

Deere says the tractor will be commercially available this fall to run in farm fields in the Mid-West.

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Illinois House Passes Trailer Bill to Last Year's SAFE-T Act

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS VOTED THIS WEEK TO FURTHER FINE-TUNE MAJOR POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS PASSED LAST YEAR. 

 

SUPPORTERS SAYS THE CHANGES TO THE SO CALLED "SAFE-T" ACT ARE PART OF A COMPROMISE WORKED OUT WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT GROUPS, ALLOWING MORE TIME TO IMPLEMENT SOME OF THE ORIGINAL REFORMS. BUT REPRESENTATIVE DEANNE MAZZOCHI OF ELMHURST ISN'T HAPPY WITH ANY PART OF THIS LEGISLATION OR THE ORIGINAL MEASURE.

 

 

BILL SPONSOR REPRESENTATIVE JUSTIN SLAUGHTER OF CHICAGO SAYS ALLOWING MORE TIME TO IMPLEMENT SOME OF THE SWEEPING CHANGES WILL MAKE A SOLID REFORM PACKAGE EVEN BETTER.

 

 

THE LATEST BILL ALSO LETS SUSPECTS BEING DETAINED MAKE THREE PHONE CALLS WITHIN THREE HOURS. REPUBLICANS CRITICIZE THAT COMPONENT, SAYING THE SUSPECT COULD BE USING THOSE CALLS TO INTIMIDATE WITNESSES.

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Illinois GOP Lawmakers Protest Judicial Subcircuits

Illinois House Democrats approved a measure to create judicial subcircuits along party lines on Wednesday. A GOP lawmaker joined other House Republicans in voting against the measure, saying the passage of this legislation is an affront to transparency and good government.

 

The Senate President said the measure won’t create more judges, but rather It will create a more diverse judiciary. Republican State Representative Amy Elik of Fosterburg says the process has been neither transparent nor inclusive.

 

 

If approved by the governor, the subcircuits would take effect for some areas this year and others in 2024.

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Comptroller Mendoza Announces Early Pay Back of Federal Loan

ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER SUSANA MENDOZA IS ANNOUNCING FULL RE-PAYMENT OF A FEDERAL LOAN TAKEN OUT TO COVER COVID-19 MEDICAL EXPENSES.

 

COMPTROLLER MENDOZA SAYS HER OFFICE HAS MADE THE FINAL PAYMENT ON THE TWO BILLION DOLLAR LOAN, TAKING ANOTHER IMPORTANT STEP TOWARDS RESTORING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY.

 

 

THE FINAL PAYMENT ON THE TWO BILLION DOLLAR LOAN HAS BEEN SENT, TWO YEARS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. EVEN BETTER, THIS WILL SAVE ILLINOIS TAXPAYERS 82 MILLION DOLLARS SAYS COMPTROLLER MENDOZA.

 

 

MENDOZA SAYS THIS WILL TAKE SOME PRESSURE OFF LAWMAKERS AND THE GOVERNOR AS THEY CRAFT A NEW STATE BUDGET.

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Comptroller Announces Unpaid Fines for Moderate, Low Income Tax Payers Will Not Be Deducted from State Refund This Year

FOR THE SECOND YEAR A ROW, ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER SUSANA MENDOZA IS ANNOUNCING A BREAK FOR STRUGGLING TAXPAYERS.

 

LOW TO MODERATE-INCOME TAXPAYERS WILL NOT HAVE OUTSTANDING FINES LIKE PARKING TICKETS DEDUCTED FROM THEIR REFUNDS THIS YEAR SAYS COMPTROLLER MENDOZA.

 

 

MENDOZA STRESSES THAT TAXPAYERS WILL HAVE TO PAY THEIR FINES EVENTUALLY, JUST NOT THIS YEAR. 

 

 

THE DEFERMENT DOES NOT APPLY TO OVERDUE CHILD SUPPORT, WHICH WILL STILL BE DEDUCTED.

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Heyworth Schools Planning Benefit for Principal Battling Rare Condition

The Heyworth community is uniting this winter to be there for the family of its elementary school principal Matt Andrews who is battling a rare condition that is most common in children.

 

Heyworth Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Taylor says Mr. Andrews' has been accepted to Northwestern Hospital in Chicago and will continue his treatment for medulloblastoma. She explains they informed their families of his condition late last year.

 

 

In Clinton this spring, the community is organizing a benefit for Mr. Andrews. Dr. Taylor says so many people have already been very generous in their support of the event. With few details available at this time, there's already a great amount of interest in the event.

 

 

For those in central Illinois that know Mr. Andrews and want to support him through a financial means, they can reach out to Dr. Taylor at Heyworth Schools by email taylorl@husd4.org. 

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Illinois Manufacturing Association Awards Scholarships

Three Heartland Community College students are the first recipients of the Lynne Mohr (MORE) Scholarship for Skilled Trades Students.

 

The Illinois Manufacturers' Association Education Foundation announced David Mufata (MU-fa-tah) Ikeise (EYE-keese), Brenda Lang, and Thomas Miller, all of Bloomington, were awarded one-thousand-dollar scholarships to continue their studies in Manufacturing. Here's Heartland Community College Director of Communication Steve Fast.

 

 

The endowment scholarship was funded through the I-M-A Education Foundation and a weeks-long cross-country fundraising bike ride.

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Illinois Republicans Want Repeal of Criminal Justice Reforms

A group of Republicans in the Illinois House are asking for a repeal of a slate of criminal justice reforms that were passed last year. Rep. Patrick Windhorst says criminals know that they are getting out of jail quickly so a repeal of the “safety act” is needed.

 

 

Windhorst says criminal penalties need to increase and a lack of prosecution for crimes like retail theft is making things worse.

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Illinois State University Moving Forward with Multi-Million Dollar Practice Facility

According to Illinois State University's Athletic Director, the biggest goal for his administration in 2022 is to break ground on an eleven-point-five-million-dollar indoor practice facility.

 

I-S-U A-D Kyle Brennan, the university is focused on fundraising efforts to pay for the facility in 2022, with seven million dollars already raised for the project in 2021 through private donations.

 

 

During an ISU board of trustees meeting in December, Brennan was given the green light for the facility to be built where the current football practice field is located. In an interview with ISU's N-P-R station, Brennan hinted at selling the rights of Redbird Arena to pay for the new 'bubble' practice facility.

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House Lawmakers Speak Out on Need to Better Protect DCFS Workers

MEMBERS OF THE ILLINOIS HOUSE SAY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES WORKERS NEED TO BE BETTER PROTECTED. 

 

DURING SESSION ON WEDNESDAY EVENING, A FEW LAWMAKERS STOOD UP CALLING FOR CHANGE AFTER THE STABBING DEATH OF A D-C-F-S INVESTIGATOR IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS. REPRESENTATIVE SUE SCHERER OF DECATUR:

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE MAURICE WEST OF ROCKFORD SAYS IT’S TAKING TOO LONG TO HIRE CASEWORKERS.

 

 

THIS ISN'T THE FIRST TIME THE ISSUE HAS COME UP. IN 2017, A D-C-F-S WORKER IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS WAS BRUTALLY BEATEN ON THE JOB AND DIED A FEW MONTHS LATER.

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Local Financial Coach Discussion Pursuit of Financial Stability in 2022

Getting out of debt and/or saving more money is among the top ten new year's resolutions made by people on a yearly basis and a local financial coach has some basic starting points for doing just that this year.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, TS Institute's Connie Unruh told Regional Radio News one of the first things you want to do is set up an emergency fund. If you are single or have a small family, $1000 is a good starting place but if you have multiple children, perhaps $1500 would be a better goal.

 

 

For some individuals and families, getting that $1,000 or $1,500 emergency fund set up might not take long. For others, it's going to be a challenge. Unruh encourages instead of using that tax return on a discretionary spending item, to put it away as your emergency fund.

 

 

Once you've got that emergency fund set up, then you start working to pay down your debts. Unruh explains there is a lot of research to suggest starting with the smallest debt, and throwing as much extra income at it can be the most effective way to start getting out of debt.

 

 

Unruh offers one-on-one financial coaching for free and she encourages anyone who would like short-term or long-term coaching to reach out to her. You contact Unruh at 217-935-7464 at First National Bank in Clinton. 

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DeWitt County Board Chair Calls '21 'Basic Year' for DeWitt County

If you take out the drama of the wind farms from this last year, the Chairperson of the DeWitt County Board called it a pretty standard year.

 

Terry Ferguson says they took care of general maintenance items within the County Building as well property improvements. He also points out the progress of the wind farm continues as we enter a new year.

 

 

Last year, the County Board put in a moratorium on issuing building permits for the wind towers, however, that was challenged by Enel Green Power and a Champaign County Judge sided with Enel and forced the County to issue those permits. Ferguson believes all that is behind them now. 

 

 

Financially, the latest budget appears to put the County in a good position. Ferguson gives credit to the elected officials for being fiscally responsible with the County taxpayers' dollars.

 

 

In 2022, Ferguson says the wind farm should be wrapped up and the roads around it will be completed. Additionally, he anticipates further talks on the solar ordinances and the animal shelter always seems to be a point of focus so he looks forward to what is to come on the outside of town with that facility and its operation. 

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Piatt County Mental Health Director Helps Us Target Better Mental, Emotional Wellness in 2022

Maybe taking care of yourself through exercise and better eating aren't on your New Year's resolutions for 2022 but taking better care of yourself mentally and emotionally are.

 

Piatt County Mental Health Center Executive Director Tony Kirkman recently outlined some things we can do for better wellness this year. He says it's not a popular first recommendation but getting off social media is something you should consider.

 

 

Kirkman calls social media the highlight reel of our lives. He says we used to be able to admit to friends and neighbors we were incomplete and older generations took care of each other.

 

 

If you're looking to establish better behaviors in 2022, Kirkman says the well-known 21 days to form a habit is actually inaccurate, it takes roughly 66 days. Kirkman points out, roughly 40-percent of our daily activities are composed of habits.

 

 

While it can be difficult, taking time for yourself should be something you prioritize. Kirkman says self-care is not selfish, it is self-sustaining.

 

 

Kirkman has found himself in recent weeks researching gut health. Bad gut health can spill into bad mental health. He encourages doing physical activities like walking or healthy activities that are self-sustaining and self-enriching. 

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Small Farms Webinar Series Kicking Off Later This Month Through University of Illinois Extension

A 10-part webinar opens later this month through the University of Illinois Extension for small farm operators. 

 

Terri Miller-Casey at the University of Illinois Extension in Logan County indicates the webinar series will cover popular topics and those that are not talked about as much.

 

 

According to Miller-Casey, along with practical information in these sessions, there will be business and marketing lessons. She points to things like cottage laws and fruits and vegetables that are growing in popularity in Illinois.

 

 

Miller-Casey encourages a Google search for 'small farms winter webinar series' to find a link to the programs. You can register for all or one.

 

She points out this was a statewide effort by the small farm educators of the University of Illinois Extension. 

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Grain and Feed Association of Illinois Promoting Scholarship Program

The Grain & Feed Association of Illinois readying for the scholarship season. The application process is open.

 

 

The association’s Jeff Adkisson says you can learn more at gfai.org.

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FOID, CCL Holders can Sign Up to Receive Notices Electronically

FOID AND CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE HOLDERS CAN NOW RECEIVE NOTICES ELECTRONICALLY. 

 

INSTEAD OF GETTING PAPER NOTICES IN THE MAIL, YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR EMAIL OR TEXT NOTIFICATIONS. ILLINOIS STATE POLICE DIRECTOR BRENDAN KELLY SAYS IT'S PART OF ONGOING EFFORTS TO MODERNIZE THE PROCESS.

 

 

THE CHANGE IS PART OF THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE'S EFFORTS TO MODERNIZE THE OFFICE SAYS KELLY, REDUCING PAPER WASTE AND BUREAUCRACY.

 

 

IF YOU ALREADY HAVE AN ACCOUNT, YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR EMAIL OR TEXT NOTICES BY VISITING THE WEBSITE: ISPFSB DOT COM AND CLICK ON "MY PROFILE." IF YOU DON'T HAVE AN ACCOUNT, YOU CAN CREATE ONE ON THE WEBSITE AS WELL.

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CCEF Kicks Off 2022 Fundraising Campaign

The Clinton Community Education Foundation kicked off their 2022 fundraising campaign with their annual mailer.

 

Ruth Lowers with CCEF indicates the annual mailer is their largest fundraising effort of the year. She notes individuals can donate online through PayPal if they do not want to send in a check.

 

 

Lowers notes the funds from the mailer campaign are earmarked for their classroom grants. In the past, CCEF has received a good amount of support from the community with its fundraising efforts.

 

 

The next fundraiser for the CCEF is Derby Day tentatively scheduled for May 7. Parker Toohill says this event is up in the air due to COVID restrictions.

 

 

To donate or to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.ccef15.org.

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Macon County CASA Building Relationships in DeWitt County

Macon County CASA is continuing to build relationships and gain support in DeWitt County.

 

Julia Livingston, Executive Director of Macon County CASA, indicates she has been busy building relationships with local businesses in Clinton to help promote their expansion into DeWitt County.

 

 

Livingston says businesses can support their mission in many different ways from financial gifts to providing their goods or services to foster families.

 

 

Livingston notes they have gotten a good response from the community so far and have been assigned 10 children. CASA in DeWitt County is holding its office at Clinton Presbyterian Church.

 

 

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon-cutting for DeWitt County CASA in January.

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OSF Continues to Fight Vaccine Misinformation

As COVID-19 transmissions continue to spike around the area, healthcare professionals continue to tout the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. There are many who refuse to get the shot, and in some cases have given what some say are outrageous reasons why.

 

Bethany Huelskoetter (hole-sket-tur), an advanced practice registered nurse with OSF HealthCare says there is one conspiracy theory that claims that by getting the vaccine, your DNA will be altered.

 

 

Medical professionals and public health leaders continue to sound the alarm, as this is just one example of what is described as a bounty of misinformation and conspiracy theories still circulating in cyberspace, muddying the waters for those looking for accurate information.

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Springfield YMCA adds Branch in Lincoln

The Lincoln YMCA will now operate as a branch of the Springfield YMCA.

 

Angie Sowle, CEO of Springfield Area YMCA, notes a partnership between Lincoln and Springfield is not new as they helped to establish the Lincoln YMCA 25 years ago. In early 2020, the Springfield YMCA became the managing partner of Lincoln.

 

 

Sowle reminds the Lincoln YMCA throughout its history has not had its facility. She hopes that through this new partnership, they will be able to construct a new building for the Y. In the meantime, they will operate out of the Odd Fellows building.

 

 

Sowle says they had a ribbon-cutting at the beginning of December and saw a good turnout. She says community interest continues to grow since then.

 

 

For more information and a list of programming offered, visit lincolnymca.org.

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Gov. Pritzker Asking Attorney General to Investigate Shady COVID Testing Sites

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HE'S ASKING THE ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL TO INVESTIGATE SHADY COVID-19 TESTING SITES. 

 

THERE HAVE BEEN REPORTS OF POP-UP TESTING LOCATIONS, THAT IN SOME CASES AREN'T EVEN GIVING PEOPLE THEIR RESULTS SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THIS IS AN ENORMOUS PROBLEM AND THAT HE'S REFERRED THE MATTER TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE. 

 

 

FOR A LIST OF TESTING SITES NEAR YOU, VISIT THE WEBSITE: CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV.

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COVID Hospitalizations Have Hit All-Time High

COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATIONS HIT AN ALL-TIME HIGH.

 

AT LATEST COUNT, NEARLY 63-HUNDRED PEOPLE WERE IN ILLINOIS HOSPITALS WITH THE VIRUS, THE MOST EVER SINCE THE PANDEMIC BEGAN. GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS THE SITUATION IS DIRE AND THAT HEALTHCARE WORKERS ARE AT THEIR BREAKING POINT.

 

 

 STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR DOCTOR NGOZI (en-gahzi) EZIKE (eh-zee-kay) SAYS THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IS OVERLOADED.

 

 

ON AVERAGE, 550 PEOPLE WITH COVID IN ILLINOIS ARE ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL EACH DAY, 90 PERCENT OF WHOM ARE NOT VACCINATED. THE GOVERNOR CONTINUES TO PLEAD WITH THE PUBLIC TO GET THEIR SHOTS, MASK UP AND GET TESTED IF THEY HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS.

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DeWitt County Museum Closes to Tours, Readies for Exciting 2022 Exhibits

With the new year upon us, the DeWitt County Museum will be closed for tours.

 

Museum Director Joey Long reminds us that every year the Museum closes for tours during January, February, and March. During this time, behind-the-scenes work happens for upcoming exhibits and events.

 

 

As previously reported on Regional Radio News, the Museum will unveil a historical homes exhibit and an aviation exhibit in 2022. Long is thankful for the community's generosity and support for the new exhibits.

 

 

While tours will be closed, memberships will be able to still be purchased by contacting the Museum at (217) 935-6066.

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Atlanta Tourism Bureau Director Recaps First Year

2021 was the first year for the Atlanta Tourism Bureau's new director.

 

Whitney Ortiz, Atlanta Tourism Bureau Director, told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Monday, that she learned a lot about Atlanta, Route 66, and Central Illinois.

 

 

Oritz says it took her about six months on the job before she learned how to market Atlanta and Route 66. She says different groups of people want to see different events and she had to learn how to tailor event marketing for each group.

 

 

Oritz details a lot of her marketing successes were based on surveys filled out by visitors who came to the different events this past year. She says this allowed her to engage with different people and find out what they like about Atlanta and what events they want to see.

 

 

Oritz is planning many events for 2022. To stay up to date on all things happening in Atlanta, visit their website atlantaillinois.org, or their Facebook or Instagram pages.

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January Above Normal Temperature Trends Removed From Climate Prediction Center

For much of December, outlooks for January were showing above normal temperature trends with above-normal precipitation trends.

 

The above normal temperature prediction has been removed from the Climate Prediction Center and Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates early January is showing below normal temperature trends which means things could be a bit warmer on the back end of the month.

 

 

While the January outlook has changed, Shimon indicates the rest of the winter outlooks are remaining the same with above normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation. He says that could mean lots of wintry mixes and then warm-ups.

 

 

It's not unusual to start to see temperatures increase in early February. According to Shimon, the weather tends to lag about 30 days behind the increase in sunlight that warms the earth.

 

 

Shimon notes the March, April and May predictions are also still calling for above-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation so the only outlook that has really changed is the January outlook. 

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Wood Recommendations for Fireplace

Thinking about firing up the fireplace? What type of wood should you use?

 

 

Richard Hentschel is a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension.

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Illinois House, Senate Scaling Back January Sessions Because of Pandemic

THE ILLINOIS LEGISLATURE IS SCALING BACK IT’S JANUARY SESSION DATES DUE TO THE ONGOING COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

 

THE HOUSE AND SENATE WERE BOTH SCHEDULED TO BE IN FOR THREE DAYS NEXT WEEK BUT WILL NOW ONLY MEET ON WEDNESDAY. LEGISLATIVE LEADERS SAY THE FOLLOWING WEEK MAY BE CANCELLED AS WELL. SESSION USUALLY BEGINS WITH SEVERAL COMMITTEE HEARINGS, WHICH CAN BE HELD REMOTELY. EARLIER THIS WEEK, GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER WAS ASKED ABOUT HIS GOALS FOR LAWMAKERS IN 2022.

 

 

THE LEGISLATURE IS SCHEDULED TO ADJOURN IN EARLY APRIL, A FULL MONTH AND A HALF BEFORE THE USUAL END OF SESSION DATE OF MAY 31ST.

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IHSA TikTok winner announced

Celebrating dairy, the holidays, and hoops. Meet the Okawville Lady Rocket basketball team. They won the IHSA’s TikTok challenge presented by Midwest Dairy and Undeniably Dairy. The contest was open to all IHSA member schools and the video had to feature a dairy, holiday, and high school sports theme. That’s a great equation says Okawville senior hooper Raegan Luechtefeld.

 

 

You can see the video at ihsa.org. Back on the court, Okawville, enrollment 175 is now 15 and 0, winning the Mascoutah Holiday Tournament—beating Alton, enrollment 1971, 65-58.

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DeWitt County Board Chair Discusses Exploratory Oil Well Drilling

Residents of rural DeWitt County are concerned over exploratory oil well drilling going on, mostly in the northern portion of the County.

 

DeWitt County Board Chair Terry Ferguson indicates it was a topic of conversation at the recent DeWitt County Board meeting last week. He says the process, while brief, is very intrusive to those nearby.

 

 

According to Ferguson, he hasn't held any formal conversations with the company leading this effort. He indicates residents are largely concerned with the noise and other disruptions the process is causing.


 

The DeWitt County Board heard from the group of residents at its meeting last Thursday night. 

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DeWitt County Highway Dept Gets New Loader

The DeWitt County Highway Department could soon be getting a new loader.

 

The DeWitt County Board approved the purchase of the new machinery at its meeting last Thursday night. Chairperson Terry Ferguson indicates the arrival of the loader is up in the air as supply chain issues are creating uncertainty.

 

 

The County also took care of a formality vote for the highway department approving a resolution for the 2022 motor fuel taxes. 

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Cold Air Coming Later This Weekend

It is going to be frigidly cold this weekend in Illinois.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln says after we'll ring in the new year with a wet weather pattern. He indicates get ready for at least a wintry mix.

 

 

Sunday morning, the wind chill could be anywhere from five to ten below zero. Shimon says the whole day is going to be cold but make sure you bundle up, especially in the morning hours if you're going out.

 

 

The week ahead, temperatures will level out for this time of the year but later in the week, look out for the return of that wintry mix. 

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Legislative session schedule shortened next week

Lawmakers are set to come back to Springfield next week. But the schedule is already being curtailed. The General Assembly will be in session on January fifth but session days on the fourth and sixth have been canceled. Governor JB Pritzker says his priority for the session remains the same.

 

 

Governor JB Pritzker says he’s been talking to both legislative leaders about being in person this session.

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Fertilizer prices continue to rise

The latest Illinois Department of Agriculture bi-weekly Illinois production cost report shows continued gains in fertilizer prices.

 

 

The next report will be issued Jan. 13.

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