Local News

Lincoln College to Close May 13

A staple of the community Lincoln for over a century is closing its doors permanently in May.

 

Lincoln College has notified the Illinois Department of Higher Education and Higher Learning Commission of permanent closure, effective May 13, 2022. The Board of Trustees has voted to cease all academic programming at the end of the spring semester.

 

In a statement released Wednesday, the institution highlights its navigation through many difficult and challenging times including the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the 2008 global financial crisis, and more, but this is different. Lincoln College needs help to survive.

 

The release noted the record-breaking student enrollment in the fall of 2019, with residence halls at maximum capacity. 

 

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic dramatically impacted recruitment and fundraising efforts, sporting events, and all campus life activities. The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrollment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution’s financial position.

 

Furthermore, Lincoln College was a victim of a cyberattack in December 2021 that thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections. All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable. Fortunately, no personal identifying information was exposed. Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections displayed significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.

 

President Dr. David Gerlach said Lincoln College has been serving students from across the globe for more than 157 years and the loss of history, careers and a community of students and alumni is immense.

 

The institution has worked tirelessly to strengthen its financial position through fundraising campaigns, selling assets, consolidating employee positions, and exploring alternatives for the leased building in Normal. Unfortunately, these efforts did not create long-term viability for Lincoln College in the face of the pandemic.

 

Lincoln College encourages individuals to review the FAQ documents on the Lincoln College website for more information regarding the closure process. Academic support and transitional services will be available to students through the remainder of the semester.

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Wednesday Was 'Doctors Day' and Warner Hospital CEO Encouraging Folks to Get Back to Those Preventative Appointments

Wednesday was 'Doctors Day' and the chief executive of a DeWitt County healthcare facility is encouraging the public to get back to their doctor for those preventative appointments.

 

Paul Skowron is the CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services and on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday told Regional Radio doctors the last few years have been pushed to the limit and is appreciative of all those that serve our communities, especial the doctors within Warner Hospital.

 

 

If you're in your 30s or 40s, Skowron is especially encouraging you to get in and have a preventative health checkup. He says that age group is most susceptible to ignoring their health and it often takes a significant health event for them to begin to take this advice seriously.

 

 

Skowron stresses for the COVID-conscious, healthcare facilities are still under COVID guidance laid out by the Governor's emergency order. 

 

 

Skowron indicates Warner Hospital and Health Services is starting to see a normal return to the health issues of this time of the year like colds and flu and seasonal allergies.

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Senate Democrats Push Legislation Making College More Affordable in Illinois

SENATE DEMOCRATS ARE PUSHING A LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE TO HELP MAKE COLLEGE MORE AFFORDABLE IN ILLINOIS. 

 

ONE OF THE BILLS IS SPONSORED BY SENATOR LAURA MURPHY OF DES PLAINES, CREATING A NEW TAX CREDIT FOR STUDENTS WHO ATTEND AN IN-STATE SCHOOL.

 

 

ANOTHER MEASURE LETS MAP GRANT RECIPIENTS USE THE MONEY FOR THINGS LIKE ROOM AND BOARD AND BOOKS. AND A THIRD REQUIRES PUBLIC COLLEGES TO PROVIDE BOOKS AND COURSE MATERIALS FOR FREE TO STUDENTS. 

 

 

THAT BILL IS STILL BEING NEGOTIATED TO FIND THE BEST OPTION FOR MAKING THAT HAPPEN.

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Over $150-Million in Utility Assistance Available for Families in Need

MORE THAN 150 MILLION DOLLARS IN UTILITY ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE TO ILLINOIS FAMILIES IN NEED.

 

THE MONEY IS TO HELP PAY UTILITY BILLS INCLUDING NATURAL GAS, PROPANE AND ELECTRICITY SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY DIRECTOR SYLVIA GARCIA.

 

 

GARCIA ADDS THE MONEY COVERS A VARIETY OF SITUATIONS.

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT HELP ILLINOIS FAMILIES DOT COM.

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Specialty Growers Concerned About Input Costs

Rising input costs are also impacting specialty growers. Randy Graham runs Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch in Champaign.

 

 

Graham also serves as chairman of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association.

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New Legislation Would Improve Protections for Health Insurance Consumers

NEW LEGISLATION AIMS TO IMPROVE PROTECTIONS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE CONSUMERS IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THE BILL IS SUPPORTED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE AND DOES SEVERAL THINGS SAYS DIRECTOR DANA POPISH SEVERINGHAUS. THAT INCLUDES LIMITING HOW LONG PATIENTS HAVE TO WAIT TO GET IN TO SEE AN IN-NETWORK PROVIDER.

 

 

THE MEASURE WOULD ALSO LET THE DEPARTMENT INFORM THE PUBLIC THAT AN INSURER IS BEING INVESTIGATED, ALTHOUGH DETAILS WOULD STILL BE CONFIDENTIAL UNTIL THE CASE IS FINALIZED.

 

 

THE LEGISLATION ALSO LETS THE DEPARTMENT DISCLOSE THAT A COMPANY IS BEING LOOKED AT FOR POTENTIAL VIOLATIONS. SUPPORTERS HOPE TO GET IT PASSED DURING THE SPRING SESSION.

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Illinois Lawmakers Vote to Require Schools to Offer Vegetarian Options

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE VOTING TO REQUIRE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO OFFER VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY FOODS AT LUNCH. (two stories, same lead).

 

THE BILL MANDATES THAT DISTRICTS PROVIDE PLANT-BASED OPTIONS TO STUDENTS REQUESTING THEM AND IS SPONSORED BY SENATOR DAVE KOEHLER OF PEORIA. HE SAYS IT SHOULDN’T BE TOO BIG OF A BURDEN FOR SCHOOLS AND GIVES KIDS MORE HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES.

 

 

SENATOR JIL TRACY OF QUINCY SAYS THIS IS ANOTHER UNFUNDED MANDATE FOR SCHOOLS.

 

 

IT’S NOW UP TO THE GOVERNOR TO SIGN THIS BILL INTO LAW.

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DeWitt County Board to Review Small Business, Non-Profit Applications for Grants from ARPA Funds Next Month

DeWitt County non-profits and small businesses have submitted applications to the DeWitt County Board for grant funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, for funding for special projects.

 

Over 20 requests have been submitted to the DeWitt County Board and Board Chair Terry Ferguson indicates the County Board will begin a series of meetings on April 4 to review those applications.

 

 

At last week's County Board meeting, the Board approved upgrades for equipment for DeWitt County dispatchers. Ferguson explains the ARPA funds are pretty flexible in 

 

 

Another of the allowable uses of the ARPA funding is premium pay for workers like first responders, dispatchers, and corrections. Ferguson indicates they approved a $1500 premium pay last week for those individuals.

 

 

Last Thursday, the County Board also approved payment to Warner Hospital and Health Services for $6375. Ferguson notes this is to reimburse the hospital for its COVID testing in the jail during a COVID outbreak earlier this year. 

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Clinton's Lincoln School Playground Equipment Set to Be Installed This Summer

Funding has been secured and equipment will be in on time to make sure new playground equipment at Lincoln School in Clinton can be installed this summer.

 

A presentation to the Clinton Board of Education last year indicated the dated equipment currently at the school needs to be updated for several reasons. Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles says the equipment will be installed by district staff.

 

 

Russell Long, with the Clinton Community Education Foundation, indicates they are pleased to be helping out financially with this project. He was surprised to learn there are pieces of the playground equipment on the campus now that aren't suitable for kids of the Pre-K to 1st-grade ages. 

 

 

The CCEF recently awarded a dozen teacher grants to Clinton schools' classrooms. Nettles is excited to see the things those teachers and students will be doing with those gifts from the CCEF and is always appreciative of the support of what the non-profit arm of the school does for them. 

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National Weather Service Watching A Dry Trend in Middle of the Summer

The National Weather Service is growing concerned over trends that are shaping up for the middle of the summer.

 

Moisture in central Illinois has been abundant since the first of the year but a trend towards the middle of the summer is concerning weather officials. Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln says temperatures are showing above-normal temperatures but precipitation is showing it could drop off.

 

 

Shimon is concerned because if just one month comes in below normal it can zap the moisture from the ground in a hurry with the heat of a summer day.

 

 

In the meantime, Shimon notes the upcoming spring months are still calling for above-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation. 

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Senate Democrats Push Legislation to Help Families Get Back On Their Feet

SENATE DEMOCRATS ARE PUSHING A PACKAGE OF BILLS THAT THEY SAY WILL HELP GET ILLINOIS FAMILIES BACK ON THEIR FEET.

 

THE LEGISLATION INCLUDES AN EXPANSION OF THE STATE’S EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT AND THE CREATION OF AN ILLINOIS CHILD TAX CREDIT, SPONSORED BY SENATOR MIKE SIMMONS OF CHICAGO.

 

 

SENATOR OMAR AQUINO OF CHICAGO SAYS THE CREDIT HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAMS IN THE COUNTRY.

 

 

OTHER PROPOSALS INCREASE FUNDING FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND MAKE MORE FAMILIES ELIGIBLE FOR CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE.

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New Legislation to Cracks Down on Organized Theft in Illinois

NEW LEGISLATION CRACKS DOWN ON GANGS STEALING FROM STORES IN ILLINOIS.

 

THE BILL CREATES THE OFFENSE OR ORGANIZED RETAIL CRIME, WHICH HAS BECOME A BIG PROBLEM SAYS SENATOR SUZY GLOWIAK-HILTON OF WESTERN SPRINGS.

 

 

IT ALSO GIVES PROSECUTORS MORE AUTHORITY TO GO AFTER THESE CRIMINALS SAYS SENATOR JOHN CURRAN OF DOWNER’S GROVE.

 

 

GLOWIAK-HILTON SAYS GANGS HAVE INCREASINGLY BEEN USING THESE SMASH AND GRABS TO FUND THEIR ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES.

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Lawmakers Pass Bill to Make Sure Customers Get Advertised Sale Price at Grocery Store

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS HAVE PASSED A BILL TO HELP MAKE SURE YOU GET THE ADVERTISED SALE PRICE AT THE GROCERY STORE.

 

THE MEASURE IS SPONSORED BY SENATOR MEG LOUGHRAN-CAPPEL OF SHOREWOOD AND REQUIRES SUPERMARKETS TO SHOW BOTH THE ORIGINAL PRICE AND DISCOUNTED PRICE AT THE REGISTER, ON THE RECEIPT OR ON A STORE DISPLAY.

 

 

THE LEGISLATION NOW NEEDS TO BE SIGNED INTO LAW THE BY GOVERNOR.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Call to Action on Concerning Fertilizer Prices

Illinois Farm Bureau has put out a call to action regarding fertilizer prices. IFB president Rich Guebert hopes the message is heard.

 

 

Information on the call to action available at ilfb.org.

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Clinton American Legions Aims to Send Youth to Boys and Girls State

The Clinton American Legion is looking to send any interested high school juniors to Boys and Girls State this year.

 

Josh Thielen, Clinton American Legion District Commander, indicates this summer will be the first in-person Boys and Girls State in two years. He details what attendees can expect during this "week that will change a lifetime."

 

 

Thielen notes there are scholarships that attendees can apply for. At last year's virtual Girls State, the young lady that the Clinton American Legion Auxillary sponsored was a recipient of a scholarship.

 

 

At last week's Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, Thielen heard from past attendees on the lasting impact of the program and how you never know who your fellow attendees will turn out to be.

 

 

Boys State is June 11-17 and Girls State is June 19-25. The cost of attendance is covered by the American Legion. Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to message the Clinton American Legion through their Facebook page.

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Kenney Fire Department Hosting Annual Good Friday Blood Drive

It's become one of the premier blood drives in central Illinois and its back again in 2022.

 

The annual Kenney Fire Department blood drive happens again this April and on the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Fritz Robinson told Regional Radio this is the sixth annual blood drive they've held and each year it continues to grow.

 

 

The drive is Friday, April 15 from noon to 6 pm at the Kenney Fire Station. Troy Lashbrook says COVID restrictions will be in place for this event although there will not be any temperature checks. He notes if you make an appointment ahead of the drive, filling out the Red Cross 'RapidPass' will make your visit go quicker.

 

 

In the six years, Kenney Fire has hosted its annual Good Friday blood drive, it has become one of the biggest drives in central Illinois. Robinson, Lashbrook, and Kerry Coles indicate they were recognized by the Red Cross at a banquet in Bloomington a few years ago.

 

 

The three feel they've created an atmosphere with the annual blood drive that makes it a special event.

 

Donation times are going fast so Lashbrook points anyone interested in scheduling a time to find the Kenney Fire Department Facebook page for information about the event or you can schedule a time directly at the Red Cross website, redcrossbloog.org. 

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Senate Bill Would Address Fentanyl Overdose Crisis

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING ON LEGISLATION THAT ADDRESSES THE RISING NUMBER OF FENTANYL RELATED DEATHS. 

 

ONE BILL, SPONSORED BY SENATOR ROBERT PETERS OF CHICAGO, LETS PHARMACISTS AND OTHER MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS GIVE OUT DRUG TESTING STRIPS THAT CHECK FOR FENTANYL IN A DRUG.

 

 

SENATOR LAURA ELLMAN OF NAPERVILLE IS SPONSORING ONE OF THE MEASURES, WHICH OFFERS TWO CHANGES TO STATE LAW.

 

 

ANOTHER MEASURE MAKES SOMEONE SEEKING HELP FOR AN OVERDOSE IMMUNE FROM PROSECUTION FOR HAVING SMALL AMOUNTS OF FENTANYL. FENTANYL IS A SYNTHETIC OPIATE THAT IS UP TO 50 TIMES STRONGER THAN HEROIN.

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New Legislation Bans Ghost Guns Illinois

NEW LEGISLATION MAKES "GHOST GUNS" ILLEGAL IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THE BILL BANS SO-CALLED "GHOST GUNS" WHICH CAN BE MADE FROM KITS BOUGHT ONLINE OR WITH A 3-D PRINTER. THESE FIREARMS DO NOT HAVE A SERIAL NUMBER SO THEY AREN'T TRACEABLE, AND ARE BECOMING A SERIOUS PROBLEM SAYS CHICAGO REPRESENTATIVE CAM BUCKNER.

 

 

BUCKER SAYS HIS PROPOSAL WILL INCLUDE A WAY FOR PEOPLE TO GET A SERIAL NUMBER FOR THEIR GUN IN ORDER TO MAKE IT LEGAL. HE SAYS SAYS HE HOPES TO PUSH HIS BILL THROUGH BEFORE THE END OF THE SPRING LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

 

 

BUCKER'S BILL MAKES IT ILLEGAL TO MANUFACTURE, SELL OR POSSESS A GHOST GUN, ALTHOUGH IT DOES SET UP A SYSTEM FOR SOMEONE WANTING TO GET A SERIAL NUMBER FOR THEIR GUN SO THEY CAN BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH STATE LAW. HE SAYS HE'D LIKE TO GET THIS PASSED BEFORE THE SPRING LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS SCHEDULED TO ADJOURN NEXT MONTH.

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New Forensic Science Commission Kicks Off First Meeting

A NEW STATE FORENSIC SCIENCE COMMISSION KICKED OFF ITS FIRST MEETING MONDAY IN HOPES OF SOLVING MORE CRIMES. 

 

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE HAS REDUCED THE LONG-STANDING D-N-A BACKLOG BY 72 PERCENT OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, AND THIS NEW GROUP WILL LOOK AT WAYS TO FURTHER IMPROVE THE PROCESS SAYS DIRECTOR BRENDAN KELLY. ADDITIONALLY,

 

 

KELLY SAYS FORENSICS IS VITAL TO ENSURING SWIFT JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS AND EXONERATING THE WRONGLY ACCUSED. I-S-P IS BUILDING A NEW FORENSICS LAB IN JOLIET AND ANOTHER NEW FACILITY WILL BE OPENING IN DECATUR.

 

 

KELLY SAYS THE COMMISSION WILL BUILD UPON THE RECENT SUCCESS OF REDUCING THE D-N-A BACKLOG BY 72 PERCENT. I-S-P HAS ALSO SET UP AN ONLINE WEBSITE TO TRACK PROCESSING TIMES AND FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS TO MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF EVIDENCE RELATED TO THEIR CASE.

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ISBE Announces $17-Million Grant to Create 'Freedom Schools' in Illinois

THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION IS ANNOUNCING A 17 MILLION DOLLAR GRANT TO CREATE A NETWORK OF FREEDOM SCHOOLS. 

 

THE GOAL IS TO HAVE SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS TEAM UP TO ESTABLISH FREEDOM SCHOOLS, PRESENTING A MULTICULTURAL CURRICULUM FOR STRUGGLING AND LOW-INCOME STUDENTS SAYS THE BOARD’S CARA WILEY.

 

 

THE SCHOOLS WILL ALSO FOCUS ON ANY LEARNING LOSS DURING THE PANDEMIC. THIS WILL BE THE NATION’S FIRST STATE-FUNDED FREEDOM SCHOOLS NETWORK.

 

 

ISBE IS ASKING FOR DISTRICTS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS TO WORK TOGETHER TO SET UP THE FREEDOM SCHOOLS. MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE GRANTS IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: ISBE DOT NET.

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Gov. Pritzker Discusses Debt Legislation

The state is on the wrong side of a $4.5 billion hole in the unemployment trust fund. The massive debt came from historic unemployment after COVID 19 shutdowns. Last week, the Governor signed a bill only supported by Democrats that uses $2.7 billion in federal COVID relief dollars to pay off a chunk of the debt. Governor JB Pritzker says the lack of Republican support is a further indication that they have little interest in working on fixing real issues at the statehouse.

 

 

Republicans wanted remaining unspent COVID funds dedicated to balance – paying it all off and avoiding interest charges on the debt. In the bill, Democrats also approved paying off the College Illinois fund balance, sending an extra $300 million to the state’s pension fund and using $900 million to pay down longstanding debt from employee health care bills.

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Dated RPC Measures Taken to DeWitt County Board

The DeWitt County Board last Thursday night took up a pair of ordinances sent to them by the Regional Planning Commission.

 

DeWitt County Board Chair Terry Ferguson indicates both ordinances are at least 18 months old but are just now getting looked at. The first deals with building a structure on your land and eliminating the need for landowners to seek out a variance.

 

 

The other ordinance proposed would give the zoning administrator the authority to determine if a wind application is complete, however, Ferguson says not only is that something that is illegal but it negates the need for boards like the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Regional Planning Commission.

 

 

The ordinance regarding setbacks for personal property passed last Thursday, however, Ferguson and the Board tabled the second ordinance proposal to the April meeting. 

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Piatt County Mental Health Center Director Watching Springfield Legislation

Legislation being crafted in Springfield this spring has the attention of a central Illinois mental health professional.

 

Tony Kirkman is the Executive Director of the Piatt County Mental Health Center and indicates budget time in Springfield have their ears perked up. He indicates they hearing more funding could be headed the way of agencies like his.

 

 

According to Kirkman, more funding would mean better streamlining of services and more access to care.

 

 

Kirkman is also keeping an eye out for a piece of legislation that aims to change how mental health inpatient systems operate and create more availabilities for in-patient treatments. He notes this is a big challenge in the mental health field. 

 

 

A substance abuse initiative being enacted by Governor JB Pritzker will address social equity frameworks for a multiagency collaborative model to how Illinois deals with opioid overdose numbers. Kirkman is following this because it will address a dramatic increase in overdose deaths in the state.

 

 

Finally, Kirkman points out there will be a new chief behavioral health officer. He is interested in this because this could bring lots of providers and services into the same room to collaborate and deliver services as efficiently as possible.

 

 

Kirkman says on paper, these things all look good but says he's hopeful this work but obviously, they will need to see results. 

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April Showing Above Normal Temperatures, Precipitation

Warmer and wetter than normal will likely be the theme of April.

 

As we turn the calendar at the end of the week, Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service says some cooler than normal temperatures that will wrap up March could carry over into early April but it won't last. 

 

 

As we get into April, it is already one of the wettest months of the year on average and Shimon says they're looking at above-normal trends for precipitation this year. He also notes we need to start to be on the lookout for severe weather.

 

 

Even into May, June, and July, Shimon indicates there is a strong signal for above-normal temperature but the precipitation signals are falling off a little bit. He notes there are some concerning trends starting to form for later in the summer and we'll have more on that with Shimon later this week on Regional Radio News. 

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Illinois Soybean Association Ag Legislative Day to Promote Legislation

Illinois Soybean Association getting some important facetime earlier this week. They set up shop in Springfield as part of Ag Legislative Day.

 

 

David Wessel farms in Cass County in west central Illinois and is an at-large director on Illinois Soybean Association board.

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150-Plus Schools Part of Inaugural IHSA eSports State Series

The IHSA has announced eight sectional sites and 153 schools entered for the inaugural state tournament series in eSports this spring. IHSA executive director Craig Anderson says the numbers are good for a first year and are likely to grow moving forward.

 

 

The first ever IHSA eSports state champ will be crowned April 30 at Bloomington High School.

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Clinton Schools Superintendent Touts One-Cent Sales Tax Benefits

In the fall of 2019, the Clinton Maroons football team made the 4A postseason and took on Tolono Unity in the first round of the 4A playoffs.

 

The football game is ancillary for Superintendent Curt Nettles, who wasn't even the Superintendent of the district the last time Clinton went to Tolono for a football game in 2012. The comment he got the most on that Saturday was about the football facility the Rockets boasted and to those comments, he lifted his index finger to signal, 'one'.

 

 

At March's Clinton Board of Education meeting, Nettles offered information on the one-cent education sales tax that the district could use to ease the property tax burden on Clinton families or to improve facilities. He stresses the tax does not include things like groceries, medications, vehicles, or ag implements.

 

 

The one-cent sales tax is not a new concept proposed to DeWitt County voters. In the last ten years, the district has taken the proposal to taxpayers twice via referendum and it has failed both times. 

 

This is something a majority of Illinois counties have in place including Champaign, Logan, Macon, and Piatt Counties locally. 

 

The School Board has not taken up the conversation nor have they voted to move forward with a referendum. 

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DeWitt County Wind Farm Developer Touts Economic Impact of Site Workers

As the DeWitt County Alta Farms II wind project sees the last of the wind towers go up, the developing company is touting the impacts of the workforce needed to get the project up.

 

Enel Green Power's Brayten McGee says most of the workforce on the site is local workers within a roughly 50-mile radius of DeWitt County and they are taking themselves into the community and spending money on food, gas, and other goods that are boosting the local economy.

 

 

Due to delays in the project, the wind farm will not be going live until the fall. In the meantime, McGee says you'll see a small number of workers in the rural parts of DeWitt County getting roads and agricultural land restored after the last of the towers is erected. 

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National Weather Service Looking for Weather Spotters

If you are a storm buff and think you might have what it takes to help the National Weather Service during severe weather, they are asking you to step up.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln says training is going on now for weather spotters and their role during severe weather is vitally important.

 

 

Information about upcoming, virtual weather spotter training is available at the National Weather Service website, weather.gov/lincoln. 

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a wet and dreary week in Illinois. State Climatologist Trent Ford looks at the weekend and week ahead.

 

 

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Central Illinois School Leaders Vow to Be More Vocal About Mandates

Central Illinois school leaders say they are going to be more vocal when it comes to mandates issued from the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois legislature.

 

Mt. Pulaski Schools Superintendent Fred Lamkey believes parents have realized in the last few years how much of an influence the State of Illinois can have on schools and says he and his peers are going to be more vocal when it comes to mandates that impede on local decision making.

 

 

Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles says Illinois superintendents feel empowered now to make their voices heard. He says there needs to be accountability but the mandates over the years are overbearing.

 

 

The school leaders say they are glad to have kids in their buildings without masks again and it has been a big boost to the morale of the students but also a big boost to the learning environment. 

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Sen. Rose Blasts Illinois Democrats Over Unemployment Insurance Planning

A bill that passed Thursday in Springfield is being criticized by Illinois Republicans not only because it will be a tax increase on Illinois employers and workers but because it was preventable.

 

State Senator Chapin Rose explains the Illinois unemployment fund has had a deficit for almost two years now and instead of using federal dollars that will have to get paid back to shore up that fund, they used it to create new spending.

 

 

 

According to Sen. Rose, Illinois Democrats ignoring the shortfall in the unemployment fund is sticking employers and employees with the largest tax increase the sector has ever seen.

 

 

Initially, the bill was not going to have support from most Illinois Democrats so things have been sweetened in the bill to make it palatable for those Democrats to support.

 

 

For Sen. Rose, the issue he has is this was a problem two years ago and Republicans in Springfield warned that it was going on, and instead of dealing with it, they willfully ignored it.

 

The Mahomet Republican believes this is going to hinder job creators in the future and prevent current employers from replacing employees to make up for the increase in these costs. 

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Wet Conditions Likely to Delay Planting in Parts of Illinois

Some wet conditions in many parts of Illinois with rain impacting much of the state this week. Spring planting may be delayed in some areas. Don Guinnip farms in Marshall in Clark County, in the eastern portion of the state.

 

 

Guinnip serves as a board member for I-L Corn.

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Midwest Food Bank Providing Help to Ukraine Refugees

Nearing the one-month mark of Russia's invasion into Ukraine, many Ukrainians have been forced out of the raided country. Most escapees fled to western countries including Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

 

Executive Director of Midwest Food Bank, Tara Ingram, says the charity has partnered with Convey of Hope, who has a warehouse location in Poland. The shipment will depart Morton today, sending 240,000 Tender Mercies meals for the refugees of Ukraine.

 

 

The cost of delivery will run for $60 thousand. For those who wish to help, financial donations give Midwest Food Bank the flexibility to quickly and efficiently respond to the needs of the victims.

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Lawmakers Pass Bill Paying Down Some State Debts, Partial Payment Into Unemployment Trust Fund

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS CELEBRATING PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION THAT PAYS DOWN SOME SIGNIFICANT STATE DEBTS. 

 

THE BULK OF THE MONEY, TWO-POINT SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS, WILL HELP REPLENISH THE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE TRUST FUND. IT WAS DEPLETED PAYING OUT BENEFITS DURING THE PANDEMIC. GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THE BILL ALSO TAKES CARE OF OTHER STATE DEBT AND FUNDS THE REMAINING COLLEGE ILLINOIS TUITION CONTRACTS.

 

 

REPUBLICANS, LIKE SENATOR WIN STOLLER OF PEORIA ARE CRITICAL OF THE MEASURE. HE SAYS IT STILL LEAVES A HUGE HOLE IN THE FUND, WHICH COULD HAVE DIRE CONSEQUENCES.

 

 

THE LEGISLATION ALSO PAYS OLD STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE DEBT, PUTS MONEY INTO STATE PENSION FUNDS AND PAYS FOR THE REMAINING COLLEGE ILLINOIS CONTRACTS. THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE WILL SIGN IT INTO LAW IMMEDIATELY.

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Lawmakers Call for Social Media Companies to Take Down Digitial Hate Speech

LAWMAKERS ARE CALLING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES TO TAKE DOWN DIGITAL HATE SPEECH.

 

WHILE SOCIAL MEDIA IS A GREAT WAY TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE, IT ALSO HAS A DARK SIDE SAYS SENATOR LAURA FINE OF GLENVIEW.

 

 

FINE SAYS ONE POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA CAN SPREAD LIKE WILDFIRE AND END UP SPEWING HATE INTO THE REAL WORLD.

 

 

FINE AND SOME OF HER COLLEAGUES WERE JOINED BY THE SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER, WHICH PUT TOGETHER A REPORT ON THE RISE OF HATE SPEECH IN THE PAST YEAR. THE CENTER GAVE “C” GRADES TO FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND TIKTOK FOR POLICING HATE MATERIAL.

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Banner Year for Chamber Business Expo

It was a banner year for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce's annual Business Expo as the event returned to its spring roots at Clinton High School.

 

Executive Director Marian Brisard says she was very pleased with the turnout for this year's Expo calling it a banner year.

 

 

Last year, the event was held in June due to several factors including access to the high school, where the event is traditionally held. Brisard felt it was nice to return to the springtime date that coincided with spring break at the school district.

 

 

While several components of the annual Expo were back to normal, the Chamber once again this year once again held its annual awards ceremony at the Expo, traditionally reserved for the annual banquet which was held virtually in 2022.

 

The 'Small Business of the Year' was The Clinton Journal. The 'Medium Business of the Year' was Calvert Funeral Home'. The 'Large Business of the Year' was First National Bank and Trust and the non-profit of the year was The Vault. 

 

 

Michelle Witzke from The Vault in Clinton

 

 

Marc Rogers from the Clinton Journal

 

 

Randy Rice from Calvert Funeral Home

 

 

The folks from First National Bank

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Clinton Schools to Revisit Directives from Board of Education from Pre-COVID

As schools are quickly returning to normal routines and practices that were in place before COVID, Clinton Schools administrators will revisit a directive from the Board of Education in 2019.

 

At the most recent Clinton Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Curt Nettles spoke with the leadership of the district that was in attendance about a trio of areas of focus the Board of Education set in motion in 2019 just before the pandemic interrupted learning.

 

 

According to Nettles, the culture component of this focus has been something the district has been working on for a while now, and feels the culture of the district is improving. He indicates with COVID responsibilities behind him and the regular duties of a Superintendent able to be done again, he wants this focus renewed. 

 

 

Nettles indicates things will begin again next month and wants these to be three-year outlooks. He believes each focus is integral in the success of the others and the success of the district as a whole. 

 

 

With a few members of the Board of Education new to the discussion, Nettles indicated last week he would refresh the Board on the initiative and the purpose behind it. 

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Lincoln Mayor Hoping Early Start to Spring Will Jump Start Golf Cart Usage

Last fall a Logan County community opened the doors for golf carts to be used within city limits and its Mayor is wondering if the early spring weather will allow for those to get out sooner than some expected.

 

Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch indicates the nice weather this March has him curious if residents will dust things off and get out and utilize the newly instated rules for golf carts in the community. 

 

 

Given Lincoln's vast road system with several business highways that run through the community, there are some restrictions on where those golf carts can be used according to the Mayor.

 

 

Golf cart usage in central Illinois has increased over the years as the prices of gas go up and residents seek to save money on short trips through their communities. 

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Rest of March to Be Cooler Than Normal

March has seen some unbelievable beautiful weather for the early spring but don't count on too many more days like that until April.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday told Regional Radio News the warm air that reached Illinois has been bottled up to the west.

 

 

According to Shimon, things are going to be a little cooler than normal in the next week as we wrap up March. He indicates those cooler temperatures could even spill into the early part of April.

 

 

Despite what could be a briefly cooler start to April, trends are still showing above normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation for the month. We'll have more with Shimon on trends for the rest of the spring in the days ahead on Regional Radio.

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Still Lots of Ag Teaching Openings in Illinois

Let’s get an update on supply and demand in the ag teaching profession in Illinois. 15 of 46 openings have been filled.

 

 

Dean Dittmar is the coordinator for Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education in Illinois. You can find out more about ag teaching openings at ilaged.org.

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IP Address Scam Uses Scare Tactics

The Better Business Bureau says an increasing amount of tech support scams are being reported to their agency. There are two versions currently in circulation. In one version of the scam, a pop-up suddenly appears on your computer screen with an ominous warning from a well-known tech support company.

 

The pop-up will ask you to call a number to resolve the issue. When you call, BBB Investigator Don O’Brien says a “technician” will tell you your IP address is being used by shady individuals.

 

 

In a second version of the scam, you simply receive a call out of the blue from someone making similar claims. He says you should never open attachments or links in emails from unknown senders; be wary of unsolicited calls; and never give strangers remote access to your computer.

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Illinois House Republicans Continue Calls for Tougher Anti-Crime Measures

REPUBLICANS IN THE ILLINOIS HOUSE CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR TOUGHER ANTI-CRIME MEASURES. 

 

VIOLENT CRIME HAS BEEN RISING AND IS ONLY GETTING WORSE SAYS REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS BOS OF LAKE ZURICH. HE SAYS THE G-O-P HAS OFFERED SEVERAL PROPOSALS TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM, BUT NONE HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED.

 

 

BOS AND HIS COLLEAGUES BLAME THE INCREASE IN CRIME IN PART ON THE PASSAGE OF LAST YEAR’S “SAFE-T ACT” WHICH HE SAYS PUTS CRIMINALS FIRST. REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK WINDHORST OF METROPOLIS:

 

 

WINDHORST AND HIS COLLEAGUES SAY THE ACT SHOULD BE REPEALED. THEY HAVE INTRODUCED A NUMBER OF TOUGH ON CRIME BILLS BUT NONE HAVE BEEN DEBATED IN THE LEGISLATURE.

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Bill Creates Income Tax Credit for Volunteer Firefighters, Emergency Workers

THERE’S A RENEWED PUSH FOR LEGISLATION AIMED AT ATTRACTING MORE VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS AND EMERGENCY WORKERS. 

 

THE BILL CREATES A 500 DOLLAR INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR THOSE VOLUNTEERING AS FIREFIGHTERS OR E-M-T’S IN THEIR COMMUNITY. IT’S SPONSORED BY SENATOR CHRISTOPHER BELT OF EAST SAINT LOUIS.

 

 

 IT’S SUPPORTED BY REPRESENTATIVE TOM BENNETT OF PONTIAC, WHO SAYS THESE PEOPLE ARE VITAL.

 

 

SUPPORTERS STRESS THAT SMALLER COMMUNITIES REALLY RELY ON THESE VOLUNTEERS AND THAT THERE IS CURRENTLY A SHORTAGE OF THOSE WILLING TO SIGN UP.

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Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum Unveils New Exhibit Highlight Survival Amidst Genocide

A NEW EXHIBIT AT THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM IN SPRINGFIELD USES WELL LOVED AND PRECIOUS OBJECTS TO DISCUSS THE HORRORS OF GENOCIDE. 

 

“STORIES OF SURVIVAL” IS NOW OPEN, FEATURING PERSONAL TALES OF KEEPSAKES THAT SURVIVED THE HOLOCAUST AND OTHER ATROCITIES. MUSEUM DIRECTOR CHRISTINA SHUTT SAYS THE EXHIBIT INCLUDES A TEDDY BEAR, A SET OF DOMINOES AND A BEAUTIFUL SERVING PLATE.

 

 

SHUTT ADDS....

 

 

THE STORIES OF SURVIVAL EXHIBIT RUNS THROUGH JANUARY AND IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF MUSEUM ADMISSION.

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Clinton Police Department's Mike Bennett Receives Recognition from ISBE

A Clinton Police Officer was recently recognized for his service to the Clinton School district recently by the Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE. 

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers tells Regional Radio School Resource Officer Mike Bennett was recently recognized with the award of meritorious service in the educational service personnel category.

 

 

Officer Bennett says it was a high honor to be recognized along with four other teachers in the district. Officer Bennett helps lead the DARE program at Clinton Elementary School as well as the self-awareness curriculum which he helped bring to Clinton Schools several years ago.

 

 

Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles has praised Officer Bennett in the past for his ability to connect with students and make an impact on their lives. 

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Clinton Chamber Business Expo Thursday

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce is returning its annual business expo to its traditional springtime date and organizers are excited.

 

This Thursday, businesses and non-profits will converge on Clinton High School for the annaul Chamber of Commerce Business Expo from 4 pm to 7 pm. Chamber Executive Director Marian Brisard indicates before COVID the annual expo was during spring break at the high school and they are returning to the traditional calendar date.

 

 

The expo is a great opportunity for the community to come out and get to know area businesses and non-profits as well as for those businesses to increase their exposure. Brisard says it shows the value of being a Chamber member.

 

 

The annual expo has featured some exciting demonstrations, exhibits, and other happenings in the past and Brisard says they have a great lineup of entertainment options this year.

 

 

The Chamber Business Expo is from 4 pm to 7 pm at Clinton High School. You can hear live coverage of the Business Expo on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW and the WHOW digital platforms from 3 pm to 5 pm and then get live updates from the Expo on 95.9 FM WEZC from 5 pm to 7 pm. 

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Maroa-Forsyth School Project On Schedule

The Maroa-Forsyth school's facilities project is moving along on schedule.

 

That's according to Superintendent Dr. Kris Kahler who indicates the exterior of the project is wrapping up and that will transition crews to the interior with the plan to take ownership on President's Day 2023.

 

 

Dr. Kahler indicates the project is right on schedule. Early on contractors planned for challenges with materials so they ordered things well in advance. He points out after they take ownership of the building in early 2023, the asbestos removal of the rest of the old building begins and it will be razed and then next summer, extensive remodeling of the high school takes place.

 

 

The project is forcing the administration to get creative with the school calendar so they can get work completed as quickly as possible. Dr. Kahler points out school start later in the fall of 2023 and spring break 2023 will be shortened to start summer break sooner.

 

 

Dr. Kahler indicates a significant component to the improvements to the facility will also allow the district a learning environment that better fits the 21st-century style of learning with more spaces for group work and technology capabilities. 

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Illinois Supreme Court Creates 'Remote Proceedings' Task Force

THE ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT IS LOOKING TO FURTHER THE USE OF REMOTE PROCEEDINGS. 

 

A NEW TASK FORCE WILL EVALUATE CURRENT REMOTE PRACTICES AND HOW TO IMPROVE VIRTUAL HEARINGS ACROSS THE STATE. CHIEF JUSTICE ANNE BURKE SAYS THE PANDEMIC REALLY PUSHED COURTS INTO THE PRACTICE.

 

 

BURKE SAYS THIS HAS REALLY BEEN BENEFICIAL.

 

 

BURKE SAYS REMOTE PROCEEDINGS HAVE BEEN BENEFICIAL IN MANY WAYS INCLUDING CASE MANAGEMENT AND REDUCING THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO FAIL TO APPEAR IN COURT.

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Gearing Up for Farmer's Market Season

Looking for details on farmer markets throughout Illinois? There is information available.

 

 

Raghela Scavuzzo serves as Illinois Farm Bureau associate director of food systems development.

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IDHS Awards $4-Million in Grants to Train Those Struggling with Mental Health, Addiction

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES IS AWARDING FOUR MILLION DOLLARS IN GRANTS TO HELP STUDENTS PREPARE FOR A CAREER IN BEHAVIORAL HEALTH. 

 

THE INNOVATIVE PROGRAM AIMS TO TRAIN THOSE WHO BATTLE THEIR OWN MENTAL HEALTH OR ADDICTION ISSUES TO WORK AS CERTIFIED RECOVERY SUPPORT SPECIALISTS SAYS D-H-S SPOKESPERSON MARISA KOLLIAS.

 

 

THE IDEA IS FOR PROGRAM GRADUATES TO OFFER HOPE AND RELATED EXPERIENCE TO OTHERS WHO ARE STRUGGLING. SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING INCLUDE THE COLLEGE OF DUPAGE, HEARTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE, THE ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AND SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY IN EDWARDSVILLE.

 

 

PARTICIPATING STUDENTS WILL RECEIVE FUNDING FOR TUITION, CHILDCARE AND MORE AS THEY WORK TO BECOME A CERTIFIED RECOVERY SUPPORT SPECIALIST.

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Drought Impacting Areas in West, South of Illinois

Drought-stricken areas of northern Illinois should get some additional help with rain shower activity this week. But concern continues to mount in the west and southwest parts of the country says Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

 

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, around 60-percent of the continental U.S. is under a minor drought or worse, the widest drought coverage since 2013.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Announces Retirement

The head of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department has announced his retirement.

 

President of the Health Department Board, Dr. Aaron Blakely in a release Monday morning indicates Dave Remmert has announced his retirement effective at the end of May. 

 

Remmert has been the leader of the Health Department for 17 years and has been in public health for over 30-consecutive years. 

 

In addition to leading the two-county area through the COVID pandemic since March of 2020, Remmert oversaw fundraising efforts and securing grant funding for the Department's facility in Clinton for DeWitt County. 

 

The Health Department will begin a search for Remmert's replacement. 

 

Remmert is a resident of Monticello and is currently taking extended time off with accrued time earned according to the release issued Monday. 

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Warner Hospital Foundation Director Aims to Increase Donations, Visibility

The new Director of a Clinton non-profit has a few goals in a newly created role.

 

Many in the community likely know Curt Homann from his recent appointment as the Director of the DeWitt County Development Council. Around the same time as taking that role, Homann was named the Director of the Warner Hospital Foundation. On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Homann told Regional Radio he is hoping to increase awareness.

 

 

Homann indicates objective number one will be to increase the number of donation dollars coming to the Foundation. He explains there's already a head start in that effort because the reputation of the Hospital is on the rise.

 

 

Why does a hospital that is doing as well financially as Warner Hospital need a fundraising arm for things that it may not be able to budget for? Homann indicates he gets that question often and calls it a legitimate question. He explains a thriving and healthy healthcare facility like Warner Hospital can mean a lot to a community.

 

 

While you may not realize it, Homann indicates there is a lot of overlap in his part-time role as Director of the DeWitt County Development Council and as the Director of the Warner Hospital Foundation.

 

 

Homann indicates the Foundation will be active on the fundraising trail under his watch and looks forward to hosting events the public can plan on enjoying and having fun at. Things kick off with a glow bingo night in Lincoln in June. 

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Tar Spots Impacting Illinois Corn Farmers

Tar spot a concern for Illinois corn farmers. An update from John Brien, who serves as eastern agronomy manager for AgriGold.

 

 

Brien’s territory covers the Corn Belt, including Illinois.

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State Treasurer Celebrates 100,000 Enrollees to State's Secure Choice Program

MORE THAN 100-THOUSAND ILLINOIS WORKERS ARE NOW ENROLLED IN THE STATE'S "SECURE CHOICE" RETIREMENT SAVINGS PROGRAM. 

 

MANY EMPLOYERS ARE REQUIRED TO OFFER THE PROGRAM IF THEY DON'T HAVE ANY SORT OF RETIREMENT BENEFIT ALREADY SET UP. IT'S RUN BY TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS' OFFICE.

 

 

SECURE CHOICE BEGAN IN 2018 AND IS A VITAL PROGRAM SAYS FRERICHS. HE NOTES THAT NEARLY HALF OF ALL WORKING-AGE FAMILIES HAVE NOTHING SAVED FOR RETIREMENT.

 

 

FUNDS SAVED THROUGH A SECURE CHOICE RETIREMENT ACCOUNT MOVE WITH A PERSON FROM JOB TO JOB. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT: IL SECURE CHOICE DOT COM.

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Gov. Pritzker Says State Officials Keeping on Latest Omicron Sub-Variant

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS STATE OFFICIALS ARE CLOSELY MONITORING THE NEW COVID-19 OMICRON SUB-VARIANT. 

 

ALTHOUGH ILLINOIS IS CURRENTLY IN GOOD SHAPE, THE B-A-TWO VARIANT IS A CONCERN SAYS THE GOVERNOR. SO FAR, IT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE HAVING THE EFFECT HERE AS IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THE STATE IS READY FOR A POTENTIAL SURGE, WITH PLENTY OF TESTS AND MORE COVID TREATMENTS AVAILABLE. HE'S ASKING SCHOOLS TO HAVE A SOLID TESTING PLAN IN PLACE IN THE EVENT CASES BEGIN TO RISE AGAIN.

 

 

THE B-A-TWO VARIANT WAS FIRST CONFIRMED IN ILLINOIS IN JANUARY. THE GOVERNOR SAYS IT'S ABOUT 30 TO 50 PERCENT MORE TRANSMISSIBLE THAN THE ORIGINAL OMICRON STRAIN.

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Gov. Pritzker Announces State Overdose Action Plan

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS A LAUNCHING A STATE OVERDOSE ACTION PLAN TO COMBAT THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THE PLAN AIMS TO PREVENT OVERDOSE DEATHS AND TACKLE THE MANY RAMIFICATIONS OF BATTLING A DRUG ADDICTION SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

THE INITIATIVE, DUBBED "SOAP" INCLUDES MOBILE VANS EQUIPPED WITH RECOVERY MEDICATION, DEPLOYING MORE NARCAN O-D KITS AND ADDRESSING PROBLEMS RELATED TO ADDICTION INCLUDING HOMELESSNESS AND KEEPING A JOB SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY GRACE HO.

 

 

IN 2020, THE NUMBER OF OPIOID DEATHS IN ILLINOIS INCREASED BY 33 PERCENT OVER THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

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Clinton City Manager Resigns, City Council Discusses Expansion of Golf Cart Ordinance

Regional Radio News has learned new Clinton City Manager Darin Girdler has resigned.

 

Mayor Roger Cyrulik confirmed to Regional Radio of the resigning Monday night without an exact date of his resignation nor a reason. 

 

The Mayor says the Council will move forward to find a replacement.

 

Monday night the Council during regular business discussed expanding the golf cart ordinance in the community. Commissioners Dan Ballenger and Ken Buchanan say they have heard from several residents they would like to be able to ride the carts later into the evening.

 

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers weighed in on the situation and left it up to the Council. He feels the ordinance was crafted conservatively and that would be his preference with the ordinance.

 

 

Chief Lowers says the golf cart ordinance has overall been a good thing for the community. He indicates there have been a few that have re-registered their carts and others that have not.

 

 

Commissioner Ballenger put the call out to his fellow Council members to consider the change and plan to be ready to discuss at the first meeting in April. 

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Clinton Lake Thawing

Spring weather has arrived a little earlier than normal to central Illinois and it is thawing Clinton Lake, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to get on the water.

 

DNR Conservation Police Acting Captain John Williamson says if you're getting out for the first time, give your boat and equipment a once over so you avoid any issues.

 

 

Parts of Clinton Lake are still cold but there is, of course, the warm water discharge and Capt. Williamson indicates you can get up to the DeWitt Bridge but you cannot cross under. However, he points out that warm water does spill over so fishing is very good in that part of the lake.

 

 

Captain Williamson also points out Weldon Springs State Park has been a bevy of activity and called it a hidden gem in DeWitt County. We'll have more with Capt. Williamson in the days ahead about the exclusive trout fishing program that Weldon Springs offers. 

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Mt. Pulaski Schools Superintendent Discusses Mask Mandate, Local Control

Mt. Pulaski Schools Superintendent Fred Lamkey has been outspoken about his desire for local control in matters related to COVID and he and his peers in the last month have been given that control back.

 

Reflecting on the last month, Lamkey indicates enforcement of masks went away in his district in mid-January in an effort to have some say in the mandate from the State of Illinois. Once the rulings started to fall in the favor of Illinois parents and schools, he says it was like all their problems went away.

 

 

Lamkey believes local control has now become an issue for Illinois parents because the State stripped districts of their ability to decide for themselves how to handle COVID protocols the last few years. 

 

 

Lamkey believes you will start to see more and more school leaders speaking out against mandates that don't make sense or are unfunded and push the burden they create on Illinois schools, administrators, and educators.

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State Budget Talks Begin Earlier Than Normal

Lawmakers are working over the state budget earlier this year than last – and it’s leaving lawmakers with a little less information than usual. 

 

When crafting a budget in May – state income tax recipients are known because of the April 15th income tax deadline. This year House Democrat Greg Harris says in mid-March its not as clear how the state is doing and there are plenty of trouble spots for the economy to come.

 

 

Budget discussions were moved up this spring because of the June primary.

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Illinois Lawmakers Make Efforts to Close Loopholes in Sexual Assault Laws

LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING ON BILLS TO CLOSE LOOPHOLES IN ILLINOIS SEXUAL ASSAULT LAWS.

 

ONE MEASURE IS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE KATIE STUART OF COLLINSVILLE AND IS BASED ON A CASE IN ANOTHER STATE. A YOUNG WOMAN UNKNOWINGLY SLEPT WITH A A MAN PRETENDING TO BE HER BOYFRIEND. HE WAS CHARGED AND LATER ACQUITTED.

 

 

THE FIRST PIECE OF LEGISLATION IS SPONSORED BY ARLINGTON HEIGHTS REPRESENTATIVE MARK WALKER, PROMPTED BY THE CASE OF ONE OF HIS CONSTITUENTS. THE WOMAN GOT DRUNK, BLACKED OUT AND WAS RAPED. HER ATTACKER WAS NEVER CHARGED BECAUSE SHE INGESTED THE ALCOHOL ON HER OWN.

 

 

STUART’S BILL MAKES THIS A FELONY CRIME IN ILLINOIS. ANOTHER CLARIFIES STATE LAW SO THAT A PERSON IS UNABLE TO GIVE CONSENT EVEN IF THEY ARE UNCONSCIOUS BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THEY DRANK OR TOOK THEMSELVES.

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Gov. Pritzker Launches New Children's Behavioral Health Initiative

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING A NEW CHILDREN'S BEHAVIORAL HEALTH INITIATIVE.

 

THE IDEA IS TO EVALUATE CURRENT PRACTICES AND MAKE IT EASIER FOR FAMILIES TO ACCESS THE SUPPORT THEIR CHILD NEEDS SAYS THE GOVERNOR.

 

 

THE EFFORT WILL BE LED BY CHILD WELFARE EXPERT DANA WEINER (wine-er) AND INVOLVES SEVERAL STATE AGENCIES.

 

 

AREAS TO BE EXAMINED INCLUDE ELIGIBILITY FOR LEVELS OF CARE, BARRIERS TO PROGRAMS AND THE NEEDS OF KIDS WITH VARIOUS BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CONCERNS. A REPORT IS DUE AT THE END OF THIS YEAR.

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Early Spring Tasks in Garden

IF YOU’RE EAGER TO GET TO WORK IN THE YARD, A UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION HORTICULTURIST IS OFFERING SOME IDEAS OF WHERE TO START. 

 

FIRST YOU CAN BEGIN WITH CLEAN UP, CLEARING DEAD BRANCHES, TWIGS AND PINECONES. OLD PERENNIAL GROWTH CAN BE LEFT ALONE UNTIL TEMPERATURES ARE CONSISTENTLY IN THE 50’S, OFFERING PROTECTION FROM LATE FROST AND RABBITS. IT’S ALSO A GOOD TIME TO DO SOME PRUNING SAYS THE U OF I EXTENSION’S RICHARD HENTSCHEL.

 

 

HENTSCHEL SAYS SOME PARTS OF THE STATE CAN START PLANTING…

 

 

HENTSCHEL SAYS IN SOME AREAS, YOU CAN PROBABLY START PLANTING SUMMER FLOWERING BULBS. HE NOTES THE SOIL TEMPERATURE NEEDS TO BE IN THE 50’S TO HAVE THE BEST SUCCESS.

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Celebration of Agriculture on National Mall

They’re calling it “A Celebration of Modern Agriculture on the National Mall”. Around 30 exhibitors set up in the heart of the nation’s capital today and tomorrow to coincide with National Ag Day.

 

 

Curt Blades is helping organize the event. He is also with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

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BBB Warns of Scams Using Ukraine

Scammers are already using the war in Ukraine as a way of tricking people out of their money. These criminals pay close attention to natural disasters and current events. Experts at the Better Business Bureau want you to be generous if you are so inclined but keep your guard up for those who are looking at this humanitarian disaster as a way to make a buck. People who want to help victims are being urged to donate to the Salvation Army, Catholic Relief Services, or another legitimate agency. The BBB's Don O’Brien says every disaster is followed by crooks and scammers, often utilizing crowdfunding sites.

 

 

He says you should be cautious when giving online to unfamiliar charities. Be wary of spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. You can find a reference of legitimate charities at https://give.org/

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Clinton Schools, Constellation Has Agreement for Tax Bills

An agreement is pending between the Clinton School district and the other DeWitt County taxing bodies and Constellation Energy, formerly Exelon.

 

During the Tuesday night Clinton Board of Education Superintendent, Curt Nettles told the Board of Education the agreement increases the valuation on the front end with a slight decrease on the back end.

 

 

Nettles anticipates the agreement being brought to the Board of Education next month. 

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IGA Reopens in Lincoln

It's been less than a year for a Lincoln business to rise from the ashes and reopen earlier this month.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch celebrated the Lincoln grocery store and its owner, Charlie Lee, who renovated the building and reopened earlier this month with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate. 

 

 

Mayor Welch is very appreciative Lee and his family had the resolve to restore the Lincoln IGA to serve that portion of the community. He highlighted what it means for the east-central part of town. 

 

 

The Mayor says the day of the devastation to the store, Lee committed to rebuilding and being back to the community. 

 

The Lincoln IGA is located at 713 Pulaski Street in Lincoln. 

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Illinois House Republicans Want Answers in Unemployment Insurance Funding Shortfalls

A group of Illinois House Republicans gathered this week at the capitol to discuss the Illinois Department of Employment Services and debt the state owes the Federal Government for benefits that were paid over the last two years when Governor Pritzker shut down the state.

 

Republicans say state officials knew last year they were going to have to pay back over $5-billion which they had borrowed from the Federal Government, however, Democrats who control the legislature. They believe rather than take the bull by the horns and deal with this last year decided they didn’t want to have to deal with this until July 1st. This is a problem because on April 1st of this year the state’s exemption runs out on how to deal with funding the unemployment benefit fund. State Representative Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) says we are fighting a deadline something needs to be done very soon.

 

 

Illinois was originally one of 22 states that applied for these advanced federal loans. But after the state missed the Sept. 6 loan repayment deadline, Illinois finds itself among 10 states accruing interest on that debt. Illinois missed the Sept. 6 deadline to repay the federal loan to the state’s unemployment insurance fund, which leaves Illinois taxpayers on the hook to pay $60 million in annual interest on that loan.

 

 

Illinois saw unemployment peak at 16.3% in April 2020 as Gov. J.B. Pritzker mandated business closures statewide. Over 202,000 Illinoisans in a week filed for unemployment back then. That’s more than 12 times the number of claims the Illinois Department of Employment Security received in the same period during the Great Recession. All those claims led to the $5.8 billion deficit when more was paid to out-of-work claimants than was in the fund.

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Energy Prices Impacting Local Govermnent Budgets

Budgets everywhere are being strained by the spike in fuel prices after Russia invaded Ukraine.

 

That includes cities paying to gas up police cars and fire trucks. Mark Luft is the mayor of Pekin and he says they have 400 cars and trucks on the road each day and at the end of their budget year they are faced with transportation funds running low.


 

Luft says school districts are also being squeezed as they fuel up busses until the end of the school year.

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Women in Ag Conference Later this Month in Quad Cities

Local county farm bureaus joining forces to promote this month’s Women in Agriculture Conference. The keynote speaker is Jeanne Bernick with KCoe Isom—a firm specializing in food and ag consulting and accounting.

 

 

The Women in Ag Conference is Friday, March 25 at Bally’s in Rock Island. More information available at womeninagricultureconference.com.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It was a beautiful week in central Illinois but rain ushers in the weekend. State Climatologist Trent Ford tells us about the week ahead...

 

 

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Clinton Board of Education Receives Update on Lawsuit Against ISBE

At Tuesday night's Clinton Board of Education meeting, the Board of Education received an update on a lawsuit pending against the Illinois State Board of Education.

 

Earlier this year, Clinton Schools along with a small number of other districts filed suit against ISBE claiming they did not have the legal authority to mandate masks on students. Superintendent Curt Nettles says a hearing earlier this week was uneventful and nothing was resolved.

 

 

Nettles expressed a heartfelt appreciation to the Board for their support of him and the efforts he's undertaken this school year to fight for local control.

 

 

Nettles indicates he tries to sympathize and empathize with his peers about the experiences they have had but he cannot relate. 

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Central Illinois CEO Students Learning Life Lessons Through Adversity

High school students in an entrepreneurship program in DeWitt and Macon Counties are learning life lessons through adversity.

 

Students in the Central Illinois CEO program this semester are creating their businesses and the program's facilitator, Melanie Brown told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday this is one of her favorite parts of the program when her students, as she describes, it get to experience life real world. 

 

 

As the school year begins to wind down, students from Blue Ridge, Clinton, Maroa-Forsyth, and Warrensburg-Latham are developing their businesses and Brown says it is a real business with real customers, services, or goods.

 

 

Along the way, students are gaining skills to help them in the development of their group business and personal business. Brown says the transformation in the students is fun to watch especially when they can see their growth.

 

 

Brown indicates a lot of life lessons are learned when the students are putting together their group businesses or their businesses and things are not going their way and she steps back and allows them to problem-solve on their own.

 

 

For Brown, when the students approach her about a problem hoping for a solution, she asks "what do you think?" and says that can lead them to unlock the gifts they have. She calls it an exciting process and program to be a part of. 

 

You can learn more about the Central Illinois CEO program by visiting centralillinoisceo.com or by finding them on Facebook and Instagram. 

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This is MS Awareness Week

THIS IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AWARENESS WEEK.

 

THE EXACT CAUSE OF THE DISEASE IS NOT YET KNOWN, AND THERE IS NO CURE YET SAYS REPRESENTATIVE KATIE STUART OF COLLINSVILLE. SHE’S SPONSORING A HOUSE RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THE EVENT.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE CAROL AMMONS OF URBANA HAS SEEN THE TOLL OF M-S FIRST-HAND.

 

 

ACCORDING TO THE GREATER ILLINOIS CHAPTER OF THE NATIONAL M-S SOCIETY, THE DISEASE MAY CAUSE MANY SYMPTOMS INCLUDING FATIGUE, DIZZINESS, TROUBLE WALKING, VISION PROBLEMS AND COGNITIVE CHANGES.

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McLean County Farm Bureau Makes Donation to Heartland Ag Facility

Heartland Community College has received a $2 million donation from the McLean County Farm Bureau to help construct a new agriculture facility in Normal.

 

The donation will be used for the development of a flexible learning lab space for Heartland students as well as community groups and K-12 students. Heartland's Director of Public Information Steve Fast says the donation is the first substantial local investment in the project.

 

 

The McLean County Farm Bureau instructional lab will be housed within Heartland’s planned agriculture facility, which will be built on the west side of Raab Road in Normal. Heartland anticipates breaking ground on the $20 million facility later this spring with a projected completion date of 2023

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Illinois House Democrats Announce Legislation in Response to War in Ukraine

ILLINOIS HOUSE DEMOCRATS HAVE PUT TOGETHER NEW LEGISLATION ADDRESSING THE WAR ON UKRAINE. 

 

BILL SPONSOR, REPRESENTATIVE LINDSEY LAPOINTE OF CHICAGO SAYS THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE STATE RESPONSES TO THE WAR.

 

 

THE MEASURE ALSO CREATES A UKRAINIAN REFUGEE SETTLEMENT PROGRAM AND SETS UP A STATE MONEY LAUNDERING AND REAL ESTATE TASK FORCE TO WEED OUT ILLICIT CONNECTIONS TO RUSSIA.

 

 

THE MEASURE ALSO SETS UP A MONEY LAUNDERING AND REAL ESTATE TASK FORCE. HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE INTRODUCED SIMILAR LEGISLATION IN RESPONSE TO THE WAR.

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DeWitt County Sheriff Touts Staffing, Budgetary Successes in Re-Eelection Announcment

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker is running for re-election.

 

The Sheriff is seeking his second term as the head law enforcement official of the County and says the last three years have been rather challenging for the department through overhauls in law enforcement laws and COVID and staffing challenges.

 

 

The Sheriff is touting some technological improvements down the road. American Rescue Plan Act funding is going to allow them to significantly improve body cameras and in-car cameras.

 

 

The Sheriff touts the fact he often comes in under budget. He also points out adding two additional deputies very soon will allow them to have three officers on patrol at all times as opposed to the two officers on patrol at a time currently. 

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Miller Park Zoo Pulls Birds From Exhibits Over Avian Bird Flu

The Avian Bird Flu's detection in McLean County last week has prompted one Bloomington/Normal entity to take action for its birds.

 

The Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington has pulled the birds from its aviary to protect them from the Avian Bird Flu. On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Superintendent Jay Tetzloff indicates most of the bird collection is now off exhibit.

 

 

Tetzloff explains if any of his birds were to be infected, it would most likely come from a wild bird. He says unfortunately for their guests, that means the best way for them to protect their birds is to isolate them until it seems the threat is gone.

 

 

The impacts of one bird in the collection for the Miller Park Zoo contracting Avian Bird Flu could be devastating. Tetzloff says the state could depopulate the entire collection of birds if just one gets it and with some endangered birds in their collection, that would be a major setback.

 

 

According to Tetzloff, migrating birds are liking the cause of this disease spreading into the midwest. He estimates it could be two or three months before things begin to subside and also will monitor with the State of Illinois on the latest in where they are finding bird flu.

 

 

Tetzloff indicates Avian Bird Flu pops up in the US every few years. The last time he remembers it was in 2017 but its never been this close to where he is at although the Miller Park Zoo has had an existing policy on what to do in the event the disease is detected. 

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University of Illinois Extension Discusses Protecting Non-Commercial Birds from Bird Flu

The Avian Bird Flu has been detected in central Illinois and a University of Illinois Extension professional is offering some tips for non-commercial bird owners to protect their animals.

 

Containment is the name of the game for folks with birds of any type during this time. Terri Miller-Casey is Extension Director in McLean, Menard, and Sangamon Counties and indicates you want to shelter your birds from the droppings of wild birds.

 

 

Miller-Casey gives bird owners some things to look out for and how to get a hold of authorities if you notice anything out of the ordinary in your flocks.

 

 

Miller-Casey also says the public is encouraged to contact authorities if you find dead wild birds. 

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Supply Chain Issues Impacting Fruit, Vegetable Markets

The nationwide issue with the supply chain is affecting the fruit and vegetable market and making it harder to get fresh fruits and vegetables. OSF Healthcare Dietitian Sara Umphleet has a solution, canned veggies and fruits. You might think canned veggies and canned fruit aren't good for you but Sara has a few tips to make sure your canned foods are as nutritious as possible...

 

 

Sara also notes that Canned Fruits and Vegetables can also tend to be a little lighter on the wallet as well.

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ISBE Awards Millions in Grants to Schools to Support Mental Health of Students, Educators

THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION IS AWARDING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN GRANTS TO HELP SUPPORT THE MENTAL HEALTH OF STUDENTS AND TEACHERS. 

 

THE 136 GRANTS TOTAL OVER 86 MILLION DOLLARS AND ARE GOING TO DISTRICTS AROUND THE STATE TO ADDRESS THE VARIOUS NEEDS OF ILLINOIS SCHOOLCHILDREN. THE BOARD’S DIRECTOR OF WELLNESS CARA WILEY SAYS PROGRAMS BEING FUNDED INCLUDE:

 

 

OTHER AREAS THAT CAN BE ADDRESSED ARE SUBSTANCE ABUSE, COLLEGE PREP, MENTAL HEALTH SCREENINGS AND FITNESS ACTIVITIES FOR BOTH STUDENTS AND STAFF.

 

 

OTHER PROGRAMS BEING FUNDED INCLUDE MENTAL HEALTH SCREENINGS, SUBSTANCE ABUSE TRAINING AND MORE. IN TOTAL, 136 GRANTS ARE BEING AWARDED TO DISTRICTS AROUND THE STATE TOTALING MORE THAN 86 MILLION DOLLARS.

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Illinois Lawmakers Make Call for Closing Wage Gap Between Men, Women on 'Equal Pay Day'

IT’S EQUAL PAY DAY…A DAY DEDICATED TO HIGHLIGHTING THE WAGE GAP BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN. 

 

THE EVENT MARKS THE DAY THE AVERAGE WOMAN NEEDS TO WORK INTO THE NEW YEAR TO MATCH WHAT A MAN EARNED THE PREVIOUS YEAR. REPRESENTATIVE ANNA MOELLER OF ELGIN RECOGNIZED THE DAY ON THE HOUSE FLOOR, SAYING IT’S TIME TO FINALLY REACH EQUALITY.

 

 

ON AVERAGE, WOMEN CURRENTLY MAKE ABOUT 82 TO 83 CENTS FOR EVERY DOLLAR A MAN EARNS.

 

 

MOELLER SAYS MINORITIES ARE HIT ESPECIALLY HARD BY UNEQUAL PAY, EVEN IN PROFESSIONS THAT ARE PREDOMINATELY MADE UP OF WOMEN.

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Illinois Lawmakers Discuss Hate Crimes

On the year anniversary of six women being killed in a mass shooting directed Asian Americans, lawmakers in Illinois say more still needs to be done to combat the hate that is directed towards Asian populations.

 

Sharon Chung, a board member in McClean County, says she’s dealt with online aggression towards her.

 

 

Chung says the passage of the TEACH act last year – directing schools to include Asian American history in lesson plans is a good start to combating some of the hate directed towards Asian’ communities.

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Illinois House GOP Lawmakers Call for Inflation Relief

ILLINOIS HOUSE REPUBLICANS SAY IT’S TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT RISING CONSUMER PRICES. 

 

THE G-O-P HAS PROPOSED RELIEF MEASURES SUCH AS SUSPENDING THE SALES TAX ON GAS WHEN INFLATION HITS A CERTAIN LEVEL. BUT REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK WINDHORST OF METROPOLIS SAYS, UNFORTUNATELY, THOSE BILLS HAVEN’T GOTTEN ANYWHERE.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE AMY ELIK OF FOSTERBURG SAYS THESE PROPOSALS AREN’T BEING CALLED FOR A VOTE.

 

 

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER HAS ALSO OFFERED SOME IDEAS SUCH AS REMOVING THE ONE PERCENT SALES TAX ON GROCERIES FOR ONE YEAR, BUT REPUBLICANS SAY THEY DON’T GO FAR ENOUGH TO PROVIDE REAL RELIEF.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Helping Promote Ammonia Grower Training

Illinois Farm Bureau is teaming up with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association to help promote ammonia grower training heading into the 2022 growing season.

 

 

Illinois Farm Bureau’s Lauren Lurkins says that deadline is April 1.

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Ag Groups Watching for Avian Flu

Poultry producers and other ag groups on alert after avian influenza is confirmed in Illinois. Nick Anderson is with the Illinois Livestock Development Group.

 

 

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza in a McLean County non-commercial, non-poultry flock March 12.

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Could Clinton Schools Lead Third Attempt for Education Sales Tax in DeWitt County?

Could a third attempt be coming to DeWitt County to try for a one-cent sales tax for DeWitt County Schools?

 

Tuesday night at the Clinton Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Curt Nettles offered strictly informational comments to the board regarding this tax. It's been tried twice before in DeWitt County and failed both times. 

 

 

Nettles stressed his information was not a presentation for moving forward with an initiative to get a referendum on the ballot, he strictly wanted to offer information. He offered what the tax would apply to for area shoppers.

 

 

According to Nettles, the tax can be used for things like facility improvements or tax abatements. He notes it doesn't go to things like salaries.

 

 

According to Nettles, the money from this tax follows students. So whichever district in a County has the most students would receive the majority of the funding and it's broken down into percentages. Estimates are around $870,000 per year for Clinton schools from this tax. 

 

 

Nettles recognizes this isn't the ideal time to be offering something like this to the public due to things like record gas prices and record inflation. He encouraged if this is something the Board would want to pursue, to commit to an education plan for the public.

 

 

The first attempt in DeWitt County was nearly a decade ago and failed and then when Nettles came to the district in 2015. He indicates it is a lot of work to commit to an educational campaign and would ask the Board to be dedicated to doing that as he was leading the effort in his first year.

 

He also pointed out the referendums failed both times by roughly 300 votes. 

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Clinton Community Education Foundation Announces Annual Teacher Grants

The annual Clinton Community Education Foundation (CCEF) teacher grants were awarded to Clinton Schools teachers Tuesday mornings.

 

Teachers across the district are encouraged to apply for grant funding through the non-profit arm of the district to supplement what the district cannot provide but classrooms need or could use to enhance learning.

 

Abbey Youngberg at Douglas Elementary School in Clinton received nearly $800 for math games equals fun. She explains making learning fun for special education children gets them to interact together while having fun and enhances their math skills.

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Angela Ball at Lincoln Elementary School received a grant for $250 for wordless picture books. She says it offers a chance for students to create their own stories and take ownership of their stories. She has found this to be an effective learning method.

 

 

 

 

 

Regional Radio earlier this year broke the news of author Dusti Bowling coming to Clinton later this spring. CES librarian Christina Soberalski received her grant for Bowling's visit. CCEF President Russell Long indicates the grant for Soberalski allows Bowling to stay an extra day and visit more students.

 

 

 

 

 

Bethany Coffman at Clinton Elementary School received a grant to allow her classroom to create a story walk. She explains the kids will pick a book and create displays in the community that will follow the book they pick. 

 

 

 

Laury Hubrich and Kari Klein applied for a grant for their non-verbal or minimally-verbal students to communicate with their friends on the playground. Klein notes this allows them to talk back with their peers on the playground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diana King is going to use a $500 grant to fund field trips she takes her students on in her life skills class. King aims to give the students practical experiences and learn basic skills for everyday encounters. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haley Bevans received over $800 for her junior high school science students to create and experiment with volcanoes.

 

 

For the last several years, the CCEF has funded junior high school students to go to the Challenger Academy at Heartland Community College and Bevans coordinates those trips each year. She explains they received a grant from ADM that has funded those trips for the past couple of years. 

 

 

Kayla Riedle at Clinton Junior High School received a little less than $100 to fund headphones for her students to improve their typing skills. She estimates kids may use headphones in her classroom for around 15 minutes per day.

 

 

 

 

 

The shop class at Clinton Junior High School, taught by Savannah Riegler, received over $500 for a laser that she explains will be the latest technology for engraving and much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristi Payne is an interventionist at Clinton Junior High School and says she is using nearly $500 to purchase electronic math materials. She explains as technology becomes a bigger part of the learning environment, there are ways to integrate hands-on learning and electronic learning. 

 

 

 

 

 

Fred Knap and Mark Tarbox in the Clinton High School shop class will share a grant for over $700 to update equipment in their classes.

 

 

Long says in total, around $7,000 was awarded to teachers on Tuesday. He says it was great to be back in the schools and see everyone's excited and happy faces when they awarded the grants to the classrooms.

 

 

Long points out some teachers that have applied for grants long enough, are going to begin annually funding those projects so those teachers do not have to keep applying for the teacher grants year after year. 

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Enel Green Power Officials Discuss Temporary Blinking Lights on DeWitt County Wind Towers

Residents in and around the footprint of the erection of the Alta Farms II wind project in northwest DeWitt County have likely noticed the towers are sporting a blinking red light during overnight hours.

 

That is creating some confusion as the project was supposed to eliminate those per DeWitt County ordinances. Project lead Brayten McGee says the lights are temporary until they get the system set up that will detect incoming aircraft.

 

 

The project has a new manager. McGee indicates many had become familiar with John Beck but he is off to something new and so landowners are encouraged to get to know their new site manager.

 

 

McGee says as the last of the towers are erected in the next few weeks, you will start to see the number of workers on the site reduced and improvements of roads will begin and reclamation of farmland restored. 

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Atlanta Tourism Director Planning Electric Vehicle Car Show

Atlanta, Illinois has been a destination for car enthusiasts the last few summers with classic car shows about every month during the spring, summer and fall. 

 

This spring, the car show season is kicking off with an electric vehicle car show. On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Director of the Atlanta Tourism Bureau, Whitney Ortiz told Regional Radio this won't be the first electric vehicle car show they've had in Atlanta but she is looking forward to this one with the developments of electric vehicles in recent years.

 

 

Ortiz indicates the car show season will then be in full swing and they'll have a lot of great events coming up. The Memorial Day Weekend will bring back one of the biggest shows from 2021 and there are going to be a lot of entertainment options.

 

 

Ortiz indicates a full spring and summer of events are already on the calendar and some are still coming together. She points anyone interested in these events and more on Atlanta, Illinois to visit atlantaillinois.org or find them on Facebook. 

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National Weather Service Talks Spring Storm Season

A few weeks ago was 'Severe Weather Preparedness' week and as we approach the severe weather portion of the spring, local weather officials have some reminders about what can be treacherous times.

 

Springtime weather can be very volatile, often changing very rapidly at times. Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates 'Severe Weather Preparedness' week aimed to get people thinking about the emergency procedures in their own lives.

 

 

Weather trends are showing an above-average trend for temperatures and precipitation. Shimon says those two can often be indicators of an active severe weather season.

 

 

Shimon is also reminding the public of the differences between a watch and a warning for those times when severe weather may be rolling through.

 

 

Getting an NOAA weather radio is also a good idea. Shimon explains outdoor sirens are often for those that are outside and not meant to be heard in the confines of a home. Additionally, it can be that notification system so your mobile device doesn't have to be. 

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Secretary of State Office extending driver's license/ID card expiration dates until July 31st

SECRETARY OF STATE JESSE WHITE'S OFFICE IS GIVING THE PUBLIC MORE TIME TO GET THEIR DRIVER'S LICENSE AND I-D CARDS RENEWED. 

 

NO NEED TO RUSH INTO A DRIVER'S SERVICES FACILITY, YOU NOW HAVE UNTIL THE END OF JULY TO UPDATE YOUR LICENSE SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT.

 

 

THE PREVIOUS EXPIRATION DATE EXTENSION WAS SET TO END MARCH 31ST, BUT ILLINOISANS NOW HAVE UNTIL JULY 31ST SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE SPOKESPERSON HENRY HAUPT.

 

 

THE EXTENSION DOES NOT APPLY TO C-D-L'S.

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Illinois State Police Say Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Will Help Reduce Highways Fatalities

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE SAYS THE BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCRE BILL PASSED BY CONGRESS LATE LAST YEAR WILL HELP REDUCE HIGHWAY FATALIIES.

 

THE INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT AND JOBS ACT WILL BUILD AND REPAIR ROADS AND BRIDGES, BUT ALSO FEATURES PROVISIONS THAT WILL HELP LAW ENFORCEMENT KEEP PEOPLE SAFE SAYS I-S-P DIRECTOR BRENDAN KELLY. ONE REQUIRES ANTI-DRUNK DRIVING TECHNOLOGY.

 

 

THERE WILL ALSO BE NEW CAR BUMPER AND HOOD STANDARDS TO PROTECT PEDESTRIANS AND CYCLISTS IN CASE OF AN ACCIDENT. KELLY SAYS THE ACT ALSO INCLUDES MONEY TO STUDY NEW STRATEGIES FOR EDUCATING THE PUBLIC ABOUT MOVE OVER LAWS.

 

 

THE ACT ALSO SETS NEW STANDARDS FOR AUTOMAKERS, REQUIRING THEM TO INSTALL TECHNOLOGY THAT DETECTS IF THE DRIVER IS DRUNK AND AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY BRAKING.

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Enjoy Illinois 300 NASCAR Race Coming to Illinois in June

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING THE "ENJOY ILLINOIS 300" NASCAR CUP SERIES IN THE METRO EAST AREA.

 

THE INAUGURAL SERIES WILL BE HELD JUNE FIFTH AT THE WORLD WIDE TECHNOLOGY RACEWAY IN DOWNSTATE MADISON. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THIS WILL BE GREAT FOR THE REGION.

 

 

THE INAUGURAL NASCAR SERIES WILL PROVIDE A HUGE BOOST TO THE REGION SAYS ACTING STATE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY DIRECTOR SYLVIA GARCIA.

 

 

THERE WILL BE LIVE ENTERTAINMENT AS WELL AND OTHER AREA EVENTS INCLUDING THE WORLD OF OUTLAWS LATE MODEL SERIES IN PONTOON BEACH.

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Clinton Police Chief on Spring Crime Trends, Spring Reminders

With warmer weather around the corner, law enforcement officials expect crime increases.

 

Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers notes throughout his career the busiest time of year for his department is the first few weeks of warm weather. He reminds vehicle owners to remember to lock their doors and remove all valuables.

 

 

Chief Lowers asks the community to be respectful of their neighbors. When hosting parties and backyard barbeques, keep the noise to a considerate level. He asks for any kind of suspicious activity to be reported.

 

 

The Chief reminds of citywide ordinances requiring pets to be on a leash and pet owners to pick up after their pets when on walks. Also, the burning of yard waste is banned within city limits.

 

 

The city yard waste facility is now open for drop-offs.

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Bement Superintendent on Masks and Local Control

An area school district took a unique approach to the removal of their mask mandate.

 

Bement Superintendent Dr. Sheila Greenwood indicated after the school board agreed to make masks optional the district did not make the change instantaneously. Rather they used the next day to educate staff, students, and families about the decision.

 

 

Dr. Greenwood says she has seen an increase in student morale since going mask optional. She thinks students are more talkative and happier overall.

 

 

The pandemic saw local control being taken away from school districts with mandates issued by the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Health. Dr. Greenwood feels this has been an eye-opening experience for many and doesn't see things playing out this way again in the future.

 

 

Beyond COVID mandates, the state legislature has also mandated what should be included in the school curriculum. Dr. Greenwood believes the increase in mandates directly correlates to why students across the state underperform in assessments.

 

 

Dr. Greenwood hopes school districts take the initiative to put in place plans for how they will maintain local control in the future.

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20th Annual CASA Playhouse Raffle

Macon County CASA is holding a unique fundraiser later this month and it will be in DeWitt County for the first time. 

 

Julia Livingston is the Executive Director of Macon County CASA indicates they will have three playhouses on display between the two counties and will be able to be won through a raffle.

 

 

The playhouses are professionally designed by a local architect and are were voted on by the public on social media. The top three designs were then built and painted.

 

 

Livingston notes previous playhouse designs have been immensely popular not only with children but adults as well. She says the hype of the fundraiser is the chance to win a dream playhouse for your child with just raffle tickets.

 

 

The raffle will run from March 21 through June 9. Tickets are $5 for one and $100 for 40 and are available through the Macon County CASA website.

 

 

The drawing will be held on June 9 with two winners in Macon County and one in DeWitt. Ticketholders do not have to be present to win. To learn more visit www.maconcountycasa.org.

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March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month

THIS IS PROBLEM GAMBLING AWARENESS MONTH AND THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES SAYS HELP IS AVAILABLE. 

 

THOSE WITH A GAMBLING ADDICTION OFTEN HIDE THEIR PROBLEM FROM FAMILY MEMBERS, SO D-H-S IS WORKING TO LET THE PUBLIC KNOW ABOUT SUPPORT SERVICES AND THE SIGNS OF THIS DISORDER SAYS SPOKESPERSON PATRICK LAUGHLIN.

 

 

ONE VALUABLE RESOURCE IS A HOTLINE, AT 1-800-GAMBLER, TO HELP THOSE WITH A GAMBLING ADDICTION SAYS D-H-S SPOKESPERSON PATRICK LAUGHLIN.

 

 

D-H-S IS WORKING WITH COMMUNITY GROUPS TO HOLD IN-PERSON AND VIRTUAL AWARENESS EVENTS THIS MONTH. MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: WE KNOW THE FEELING DOT ORG.

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State Fire Marshal's Office urges check smoke detectors when they change clocks

THE ILLINOIS STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE IS URGING THE PUBLIC TO CHECK THEIR SMOKE ALARMS AS THEY "SPRING FORWARD" THIS WEEKEND.

 

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME SERVES AS A GREAT REMINDER TO MAKE SURE YOUR SMOKE DETECTORS ARE WORKING, TESTING AND REPLACING BATTERIES AS NEEDED SAYS FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ.

 

 

AS YOU CHANGE YOUR CLOCKS FOR DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME, IT'S ALSO A GOOD IDEA TO MAKE SURE DETECTORS ARE WORKING PROPERLY SAYS FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON J-C FULTZ.

 

 

FULTZ REMINDS THAT SEALED SMOKE ALARMS NEED TO BE REPLACED EVERY 10 YEARS. ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION, FROM 2014 T0 2018, NEARLY THREE OUT OF EVERY FIVE FIRE DEATHS IN THE U-S OCCURED IN HOMES WITH NO WORKING SMOKE DETECTOR.

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Lt. Gov talks teacher shortage

Teachers are in short supply. School districts are having a hard time finding new ones and keeping old ones. The Lieutenant Governor, Juliana Stratton wants to help expand the pool of teachers and she says that can start with getting more young people to think teaching when considering what to do for a career.

 

 

The Governor’s Administration has proposed increasing financial aid for college students and some of those plans are directly aimed at students who are studying education.

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IDOT announces St. Patrick's Day/weekend enforcement

STATE AND LOCAL POLICE ARE BEEFING UP PATROLS FOR THE SAINT PATRICK'S DAY HOLIDAY. 

 

THE ANNUAL SAINT PATTY'S ENFORCEMENT IS ALREADY UNDERWAY AND WILL LAST THROUGH THE EARLY MORNING HOURS OF MARCH 18TH SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SPOKESPERSON PAUL WAPPEL.

 

 

MORE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOW ON THE ROADS AND HOLDING SPECIAL D-U-I CHECKPOINTS AND SEATBELT ENFORCEMENT ZONES. IT'S ALL ABOUT KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SPOKESPERSON PAUL WAPPEL. HE HAS THIS ADVICE:

 

 

THE SAINT PATRICK'S ENFORCEMENT WILL RUN THROUGH THE EARLY MORNING HOURS OF MARCH 18TH.

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Weekly Weather Summary

Most of the state saw measurable snowfall Friday morning. A warmup is expected across the majority of the state this weekend and into next week. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...

 

 

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DeWitt County Sheriff on Route 51 Incidents This Morning

Central Illinois awoke to a return of winter weather conditions this morning.

 

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker indicated early Friday morning saw snow-covered roads with ice underneath.

 

 

The Sheriff's Department reported several incidents involving cars in ditches and medians along Route 51 throughout DeWitt County. The Sheriff believes this was due to the unexpected snowfall that arrived overnight.

 

 

Sheriff Walker says there were no injuries reported with the majority involving cars needing to be towed out of the ditch. He noted there were a few minor accidents that occurred.

 

 

By 10:30 am, road conditions had improved to mostly clear conditions. The Sheriff indicates motorists should always be prepared for the unexpected and allow ample time to commute if dangerous conditions arise.

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University of Illinois Extension Nutrition Educator Offers Tips for Saving at Grocery Store

As food prices at the grocery store rise, a University of Illinois Extension educator has some tips for ways to curb back on spending.

 

Caitlin Mellendorf is the Nutrition Educator in the DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt County Extension offices and indicates meal planning can be a great way to limit spending and plan for what you'll eat.

 

 

If you want to get the most from your food purchases, it would be best to make as much food from scratch. Mellendorf explains there is some extra time and effort in this method but it might be worth it for some families.

 

 

According to Mellendorf, if you've gotten into the habit of buying name-brand foods, perhaps consider buying store brands. Store brands often are just as good of quality and are significantly cheaper.

 

 

Mellendorf also recommends considering canned fruits and vegetables. Buying fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive and the quality goes down when those things are out of season. She notes they are going to be just as nutritious as those fresh items despite the difference in texture and taste.

 

 

Other tips offered by Mellendorf include finding coupons for food items that you will use. She encourages staying away from using a coupon on food items maybe you don't use or won't use. She says you're still spending unnecessary money at that point. 

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Rest of March, Spring Expected to Be Mild

Despite more snowfall in central Illinois, March is still expected to be warmer than normal.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln says this cold stretch should only last into next week before things moderate. He points out, cold air is not that far west so it's not out of the question for cooler days here and there.

 

 

According to Shimon, April, May, and June are still showing a strong above-normal signal for both temperatures and precipitation.

 

 

Shimon notes an above-average temperature trend along with above-normal precipitation tends to lend itself to a more active storm season. He says there are other factors but things could be active this spring. 

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Blue Ridge Schools Superintendent Provides Update on Mask Policy

Masking isn't today's conversation any longer.

 

That's how Blue Ridge Schools Superintendent Dr. Hilary Stanifer on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday described the current atmosphere of masking in their schools. She explains they followed many other districts in going mask-optional soon after a Sangamon County judge ruled in favor of Illinois parents.

 

 

While many superintendents up-and-down Illinois including some local superintendents fought hard for the restoration of local control, Dr. Stanifer was often compliant with those edicts, rarely speaking out on the situation. She indicates she feels more comfortable now advocating for those decisions to be local.

 

 

While Dr. Stanifer separates COVID mandates from the hundreds of mandates that are in place at the State level, she recognizes there are so many of them that it takes away the district's ability to move forward in its intended purpose of educating children.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer described the atmosphere of the school as starting to come back to life after the mask restrictions were lifted. She says it's been fun to get to know the faces again. 

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Alta Farms II Wind Project Nearing Completion, Will Be Delayed Going Online

The Alta Farms II wind farm currently being erected in northwest DeWitt County is just a few weeks away from having all the turbines installed but will be delayed going online.

 

That's according to project manager Braytem McGee who told Regional Radio on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday they have around a dozen turbines to still be installed.

 

 

The Alta Farms II wind project was supposed to go live in May this spring but because of delays on the project, it will not actually go live until the fall. McGee explains that is because ComEd does not do summer outages for them to take the project live.

 

 

According to McGee, the tower placements all have a reason where they are placed. He indicates a small number of larger turbines are located closer to Clinton because of predetermined wind patterns.

 

 

After the heavy equipment from the project has been moved off, McGee says they will then work on the road improvements for those impacted by the project. 

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Clinton Thespians Present 'Shrek: The Musical' This Weekend

The community is invited out this weekend to check out 'Shrek: The Musical' being put on by the Clinton High School thespians.

 

Kaitlin Burton, who plays Fiona, believes everyone will enjoy their production as they have a lot of dynamic characters and big sets and there are kids in the cast which adds a lot of depth. Kairi Tull, who plays Donkey, says it follows the movie pretty closely.

 

 

Dennis Lux, who plays Shrek, says they've had a lot to overcome between canceled school days due to weather along with sickness in the program.

 

 

Tull gives the students in the support roles of the production a lot of credit. She says they have a lot of talented people behind the scenes keeping the show together.

 

 

The three seniors are looking forward to the shows and their final productions at Clinton High School.

 

You can catch 'Shrek: The Musical' at the Clinton High School auditorium this Friday at 7 pm, Saturday at 2 pm or 7 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm. 

 

If you'd like to pre-order your tickets, find the StageKicks app on your phone but you can also get tickets at the door the day of the performances. 

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Thursday is 'Slam The Scam Day'

Today (Thursday) is national 'Slam the Scam' Day.

 

Scams are an ever-evolving topic as fraudsters become more and more creative in ways to rip off the public. Jack Myers at Social Security says this is part of the Federal Trade Commission’s National Consumer Protection Week March 6-12, 2022. Slam the Scam day began in 2020 by Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to combat Social Security-related imposter scams, but is now expanded to include other government imposter scams as well.

 

 

Myers reminds in a government imposter scam, someone claims to be a Social Security or other government employee, and may ask for personal information, demand payment, or make threats. These scams primarily use the telephone but could also come through e-mail, text messages, social media, or U.S. mail.

 

 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, from January through September 2021, consumers lost more than $331 million to government imposter scams.

 

 

Myers points out the Office of the Inspector General urges everyone to be cautious of any contact supposedly from a government agency telling you about a problem you don’t recognize. They remind real government officials will never threaten arrest or legal action against you unless you immediately send money.

 

 

Additionally, government officials will never promise to increase your benefits or resolve a problem if you pay a fee or move your money into a protected account, nor require payment with gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfer, internet currency, or by mailing cash. Myers notes Social Security will never try to gain your trust by e-mailing fake “documentation”  or “evidence”.

 

 

You are encouraged to report Social Security imposter scams to https://oig.ssa.gov or https://www.ftc.gov/scams. 

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Volatility Continues with Commodity Prices

Commodity prices on a 'roller coaster ride' as futures skyrocket but then returned below trading numbers throughout the week.

 

After jumping to an all-time high on Tuesday, Wheat dropped almost four percent on Tuesday as Russia continues to invade Ukraine. Curt Kimmel, Owner of Bates Commodities in Normal, said prices like Wheat and Corn are all over the map.

 

 

Kimmel said prices were initially bullish, but as turmoil continues, prices turned bearish. Around 16% of the world's corn crop comes out of the Black Sea region.

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New State Director for USDA Rural Development Promoting Programs

The new state director for USDA Rural Development getting the word out about the many programs available to rural communities. Betsy Dirksen Londrigan took over the job in January.

 

 

More information is available online at rd.usda.gov/il.

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Grain Bin Rescue Training Highlighted During Ag Safety Awareness Week

Grain bin rescue training remains an important cause for rural fire departments. Kevin Schwartzkopf is a captain with the Bishop Hill Fire Department in Henry County.

 

 

This is Ag Safety Awareness Week.

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Blood Supplies Running Low

The blood supply is still under stress.

 

Dawn Morris, the South Central Red Cross Director says nationwide the Red Cross still provides 40% of the blood supply. But winter weather and continued worries about COVID seem to be keeping people away from donation centers. If you donate to the Red Cross and you have the Red Cross App, Morris says you will be able to know a little about how your donation was used.

 

 

All blood types are needed and you can start donating after the age of 16.

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Little Galilee Christian Camp Readying for Summer Season

Little Galilee Christian Camp in Clinton is looking ahead to the summer season.

 

Max Aper on the WHOW Morning Show told Regional Radio the much-anticipated specialty camps along with general open camps registration opens in a few weeks and they are already getting inquiries about when those go live.

 

 

The summer of 2021 was the fourth-largest attended summer in camp history and Aper is hoping for bigger and better in 2022. To help get there, they are offering first-time campers the opportunity to attend at absolutely no cost.

 

 

New at Little Galilee this summer will be a pre-K camp and Aper says they have camps for kids all the way through high school. He indicates there are a variety of smaller specialty camps you can participate in or you can attend general camp.

 

 

Aper says the volunteers often come with the 'dean' of the camp for a week but they also have a host of volunteers that help make each week of camp move smoothly.

 

He points anyone interested in the upcoming summer of camping to visit littlegalilee.com. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram. 

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Piatt County Sheriff Talks Direction For His Office

Piatt County Sheriff Mark Vogelzang took over for the retired Dave Hunt mid-year in 2021 and recently discussed the direction for the department under his leadership.

 

The Sheriff is a veteran of law enforcement and recently retired from Champaign Police to join the Piatt County Sheriff's office. He hopes to be proactive in building relationships within the communities they serve and emphasized the importance of that approach. 

 

 

The Sheriff explains one difference between his time in Champaign County and Piatt County will be response time. Piatt County is a very long, north-to-south area and he notes they do have limited law enforcement presence in some areas and provide that presence for others.

 

 

In his mission to connect with the community, oftentimes interactions with law enforcement for most people comes at a very low point in their lives or an unexpected circumstance. He says it's important to make sure all those interactions are positive.

 

 

Sheriff Vogelzang says a lot of those positive interactions oftentimes start in the schools but the Sheriff also points to the quality of life issues in smaller communities where those residents have concerns and doing everything they can to get those issues resolved. 

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ISU Professor Discusses Women History Month

March is Women's History Month, and an Illinois State University Professor is looking back on history.

 

Dr. Jenna Goldsmith, the assistant director of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies at I-S-U, said the month is a 'contemporary celebration' to honor women around the globe.

 

 

To learn more about Women's History Month, Dr. Goldsmith recommends learning new facts and letting the women in your life know you support them. According to Dr. Goldsmith, one way to honor women is to contact local lawmakers about legislation that impacts women.

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Illinois Specialty Growers Promoting Resources

The Illinois Specialty Growers Association promoting free resources as we approach the growing season. Organization president Randy Graham has this advice.

 

 

More information also available at specialtygrowers.org.

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State Director for USDA Rural Development Touting Processor Funding

The new state director for USDA Rural Development offering a reminder about $215-million in grants and other support being made available to expand meat and poultry processing options.

 

 

State Director Betsy Dirksen Londrigan began her new job in January.

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Dr. Ezike Reflects on Time in Office

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike is looking back on her time serving the state with only days left in office. The top doctor led the state through the COVID-19 pandemic but is leaving her post after serving three years in the role for family reasons.

 

 

Ezike, married with four kids, is the first Black woman appointed to lead the 143-year-old state agency. I-D-P-H assistant director Dr. Amaal Tokars will serve on an interim basis while the state searches for a replacement.

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Illinois House Passes Bill Aiming to Make Sure Customers Get Appropriate Discounts at Grocery Store

HOUSE LAWMAKERS PASSED A BILL THIS WEEK TO HELP MAKE SURE YOU GET THE ADVERTISED DISCOUNT AT THE GROCERY STORE. 

 

JOLIET REPRESENTATIVE NATALIE MANLEY SAYS HER BILL WAS INSPIRED BY AN ELDERLY WOMAN AHEAD OF HER IN LINE AT THE STORE, WHO DIDN’T RECEIVE THE SALE PRICE WHEN THE CASHIER RUNG UP HER GROCERIES.

 

 

MANLEY’S BILL REQUIRES SUPERMARKETS TO SHOW BOTH THE ORIGINAL AND THE SALE PRICE RIGHT AS A BAR CODE IS SWIPED. 

 

 

THE BILL NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR CONSIDERATION.

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Illinois House Bill Would Remove Legal Age for Leaving Child Home Alone

LEGISLATION PASSED BY THE HOUSE THIS WEEK LEAVES IT UP TO PARENTS TO DECIDE WHEN A CHILD IS OLD ENOUGH TO STAY HOME ALONE.

 

MANY PARENTS MAY NOT EVEN KNOW STATE LAW SETS A SPECIFIC AGE AT WHICH A KID CAN BE LEFT ON THEIR OWN. DECATUR REPRESENTATIVE SUE SCHERER SAYS IT’S CONFUSING AND DOESN’T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT A MYRIAD OF CIRCUMSTANCES LIKE WHETHER IT’S DAYTIME OR NIGHTTIME, OR IF IT’S BECAUSE MOM OR DAD ABSOLUTELY HAS TO GO TO WORK.

 

 

IT’S UP TO THE SENATE TO PASS THIS BILL NEXT.

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Illinois House Passes Bill to Increase Access to Prostate Screenings

HOUSE LAWMAKERS HAVE PASSED LEGISLATION TO INCREASE ACCESS TO PROSTATE CANCER SCREENINGS. 

 

THE BILL COMES FROM REPRESENTATIVE LA SHAWN FORD OF CHICAGO, WHO IS A PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR. IT ENSURES THAT HEALTH INSURERS COVER ANNUAL SCREENING PROCEDURES WITHOUT REQUIRING CO-PAYS OR DEDUCTIBLES. FELLOW SURVIVOR REPRESENTATIVE DAN SWANSON OF WOODHULL STRESSED THE IMPORTANCE OF THESE CHECKS.

 

 

IT'S SUPPORTED BY PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR REPRESENTATIVE DAN CAULKINS OF DECATUR.

 

 

IT'S NOW UP TO THE SENATE TO APPROVE THE MEASURE.

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National Weather Service: February 'A Crazy Month'

'A crazy month' is how a weather service official in Lincoln described the month of February.

 

From the biggest snow event we've seen in a decade to temperatures that melted that snow and saw another significant winter weather event and then temperatures that melted that precipitation, it has been quite a month. Ed Shimon on the WHOW Morning Show Monday....

 

 

Shimon described the temperature fluctuations as a rollercoaster. He says between a bitterly cold night to a couple of days in the 50s, things evened out to about average for the month.

 

 

As we make our way through March, Shimon says things will be a little colder than normal for a short time before we start to moderate mid-to-late next week. 

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Heyworth Superintendent Reflects on COVID, Mandates

A central Illinois school leader is reflecting on the last month of enormous change surrounding COVID and is reflecting on how the State of Illinois handled things.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Heyworth Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Taylor says it is has been great to see kids and teachers without masks in the buildings and to be able to connect without face coverings again.

 

 

While parents fought the battle for COVID mandates to be removed so kids could choose to wear a mask to school or not, Dr. Taylor says the State of Illinois coming in over the top with mandates that don't make sense isn't anything new.

 

 

According to Dr. Taylor, when the State continues to bring down mandate-after-mandate, it erodes the idea of local control and makes things exceedingly difficult on staff and the Board of Education because some things are impossible to implement.

 

 

Dr. Taylor hopes COVID has allowed there to be more conversation on over-the-top mandates that don't make sense and gets communities thinking about what makes sense for them. 

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Macon County Farm Bureau Talks with Ukrainian Farmer

If you think the war in Ukraine doesn't affect you, a Macon County Farm Bureau leader asks you to reconsider.

 

Lance Muirheid, chairman of the Macon County Farm Bureau Young Leaders, indicated on Friday morning members of the Macon County Farm Bureau met on a Zoom call with a Ukrainian farmer to learn more about the conflict firsthand.

 

 

Muirheid found the discussion to be very enlightening. He said despite the language barrier, "farmers speak farmer." The Ukrainian farmer described how farmers were contributing to the war effort.

 

 

Muirheid is reminding everyone that this conflict while it may seem as if it is happening in a remote part of the world has impacts here at home due to growing fifteen percent of the world's corn crop.

 

 

Hear more on this story when Jared White talks with Macon County Farm Bureau board member Paul Butler on the Farm Show.

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Congressman Davis Appreciative President Biden Said COVID Is Over in State of the Union

While Congressman Rodney Davis is appreciative President Joe Biden addressed COVID and moving forward, he wished the President would have offered more on things like the border crisis and inflation during last week's State of the Union.

 

Congressman Davis agreed with the President it is time to move on from COVID but he feels the President and his administration need to do more on the southern border and the inflation issues plaguing American families.

 

 

For the inflation crisis, Congressman Davis believes Biden's continued calls for more spending are not helping the issue. 

 

 

Many states across the country lifted COVID mandates as late as last Monday, leaving Conservatives believing it was a political move to have mitigations lifted in time for the State of the Union. The Taylorville Republican says the political science changed.

 

 

Congressman Davis believes America is equipped now to live with COVID and believes there are Governor's still trying to hang on to the COVID mitigations. 

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Social Security and Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month and Social Security is tying together data surrounding women and Social Security benefits.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security points out the rules for receiving Social Security benefits are the same for men and women, but there are a few things that women should consider. One of the biggest financial fears people face in retirement is running out of money. Due to longer life expectancies than men, women are at greater risk of this. According to average life expectancy statistics, a man turning age 65 on April 1, 2020, can expect to live on average until age 84 while a woman turning age 65 on April 1, 2020, can expect to live on average until age 86.5.

 

 

With that in mind, good retirement planning is important for men and women, but arguably even more important for women. Myers explains the longer average life expectancy for women increases their likelihood of exhausting other sources of retirement income, making the inflation-protected Social Security benefit even more important. 

 

 

Myers recommends retirement planning of your own by checking out the Social Security website and learning about your retirement benefits as well as what you may qualify for in potential survivor benefits if you are married.  

 

Get more information by visiting the Social Security online retirement planner at www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement.

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IAA, IFB Promoting Trucking Scholarship

The application period is now open for the Driving Agriculture Forward Scholarship program, which aims to find more truck drivers. An update from Illinois Farm Bureau’s Rodney Knittel and the IAA Foundation’s Jennifer Smith.

 

 

Again, you can find more details at iaafoundation.org.

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Pilot Program Would Pair DCFS Workers with Law Enforcement During Home Visits

A new pilot program where a law enforcement officer will accompany child welfare workers during high-risk home visits is the first of its kind in the state and will be launched in southern Illinois with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Sheriff Jeff Bullard says it’s important to understand that front-line social workers find themselves in unstable situations that can turn dangerous because of unstable people.

 

 

36-year-old Deidre Silas, an investigator with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, was stabbed to death on January 4th when she responded to a call of possible endangerment of children in a home in the central Illinois town of Thayer. Silas’ death is the second time in five years that state officials and the social work community are asking what should have been done, but wasn’t, to prevent it. DCFS investigator Pamela Knight died following a brutal beating while attempting to remove an endangered child from his father in September 2017.

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Illinois Product Expo This Weekend in Springfield

The Illinois Product Expo is set for this weekend at the Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

 

 

The Illinois Department of Ag's Jackie Sambursky says the expo is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

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Durbin to Chair Committee For Biden's Supreme Court Nomination

Illinois' Senior Senator is chairing a committee to question President Biden's Supreme Court nomination.

 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin said Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson would start testifying on Monday, March 21. The Democrat spoke on the Senate floor earlier this week.

 

 

Last week, President Joe Biden nominated Jackson to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring.

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Weekly Weather Summary

It's been a really nice weather week in central Illinois and more nice weather is forecasted for the weekend. University of Illinois Extension's Todd Gleason has more on the weather...

 

 

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DeWitt County State's Attorney Running in Christian County

'A chance to serve the people I grew up with' is how the DeWitt County State's Attorney describes his pursuit of the same post in Christian County.

 

Dan Markwell is running in the upcoming election for the State's Attorney's position in Christian County. A Taylorville native, Markwell's family is there and he characterizes the timing as perfect.

 

 

For Markwell, Christian County faces similar legal challenges as DeWitt County like upticks in drug use that can trickle down into other areas of the community.

 

 

Markwell believes there's been a lot of successful prosecutions of crimes in the County as well as successful negotiations that he's overseen as the State's Attorney.

 

 

Markwell indicates an Assistant State's Attorney could be appointed to his office soon with the potential that individual takes over if he wins the Christian County election. He was not able to disclose who that individual is. 

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Piatt County Sheriff Discusses Spring Crime Increases

Mother nature has blessed central Illinois with some beautiful weather to kick off March and the meteorological spring season. 

 

While it may not last, local authorities are sending out their yearly reminders of the things residents face in rural America with the shift in weather. Piatt County Sheriff Mark Vogelzang indicates the spring brings the traditional return of motorcyclists and farm implements to the roadways.

 

 

With the spring weather comes more people out and about and more crimes of opportunity. Sheriff Vogelzang encourages his communities to be vigilant in locking the doors of vehicles, especially those that have to be parked in driveways or curbside and make sure you remove any valuables from your vehicles.

 

 

In an expansive rural area like Piatt County, Sheriff Vogelzang indicates they are seeing an increase in burglaries of ag sheds in recent years. He says farmers and residents are starting to pick up on the trend of these crimes of opportunity. 

 

 

Sheriff Vogelzang indicates Piatt County is very supportive of law enforcement and it was evident earlier this week when he and a few of his deputies were dining out in Cerro Gordo and someone paid for their lunch. He says those gestures mean so much to them. 

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Congressman Davis Discusses Ukraine, Russia Conflict

America needs to end its energy reliance on Russia.

 

That's according to Congressman Rodney Davis, who on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, told Regional Radio America needs to cut off Russia being the quote - sugar daddy - of energy supply to the world.

 

 

The Taylorville Republican believes Biden is being weak on the conflict in Ukraine and says this wouldn't have happened under President Trump who brought peace through strength.

 

 

Congressman Davis was joined Thursday by his colleague Mike Waltz from Florida who is a veteran as he hoped for central Illinoisans to hear the perspective of someone with a good grasp of foreign affairs. 

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State Ag Pest Survey Coordinator Highlighting Invasive Species Awareness Week

It’s invasive species awareness week. That’s always a big week for the state ag pest survey coordinator Kelly Estes, who tracks insects like the emerald ash borer.

 

 

You can follow Estes on Twitter. Her hashtag is @ILPestSurvey.

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Illinois House Votes to Let Students Take Day Off School for Civic Event

MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS COULD GET A DAY OFF FROM SCHOOL TO ATTEND A CIVIC EVENT UNDER A BILL PASSED BY THE ILLINOIS HOUSE.

 

THE LEGISLATION CALLS FOR AT LEAST ONE EXCUSED ABSENCE PER YEAR FOR A CIVIC EVENT SAYS REPRESENTATIVE SONYA HARPER OF CHICAGO.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE MARK BATINICK OF PLAINFIELD ARGUED AGAINST THE IDEA.

 

 

CRITICS SAYS THE BILL IS TOO BROAD AND COULD EASILY BE ABUSED. IT ONLY APPLIES TO PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS.

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Illinois House Bill Aims to Increase Substitute Teachers

THE ILLINOIS HOUSE PASSED LEGISLATION THURSDAY TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS IN THE STATE. 

 

THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE ANNE STAVA-MURRAY OF DOWNER’S GROVE, WHO SAYS IT MAKES COLLEGE EDUCATION MAJORS WITH AT LEAST 90 CREDIT HOURS ELIGIBLE FOR A SUBSTITUTE TEACHING LICENSE. SHE EXPLAINS WHY IT’S NEEDED.

 

 

SHE EXPLAINS HOW HER PROPOSAL CAN HELP.

 

 

THE BILL NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE.

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Gov. Pritzker Committed to Eliminating Corruption in Illinois Government

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER SAYS HE’S COMMITTED TO ELIMINATING THE SCOURGE OF CORRUPTION IN ILLINOIS GOVERNMENT. 

 

THE GOVERNOR CALLS THE CONDUCT ALLEGED IN THE INDICTMENT AGAINST MIKE MADIGAN DEPLORABLE AND SAYS THE FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE TO THE FULL EXTENT OF THE LAW. HE ALSO HAS THIS MESSAGE:

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS ALTHOUGH SOME ETHICS REFORMS WERE PASSED LAST YEAR, MORE MUST BE DONE.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THE 22-COUNT INDICTMENT AGAINST MADIGAN SHOULD SERVE AS A WAKE-UP CALL TO ALL POLITICIANS.

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Clinton YMCA Touting Senior Fitness Programs

The Clinton YMCA's annual Survivor program is hitting its final leg in March as dozens of individuals have committed to physical fitness in the last few months.

 

Among some of those dozens of individuals participating are seniors and Y Director Rennie Cluver says the non-profit dedicates itself to the promotion of living a healthy life. He believes the 12-week program helps lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. 

 

 

Cluver points to the dedication of the community's seniors that come to the Y and participate in several activities available to them at the Y of the opportunities there to take a lifestyle of health and wellness.

 

 

There are many opportunities for a discounted membership to the Y for seniors. Cluver encourages senior citizens to check with their insurance providers about such a benefit. 

 

 

Maybe you're not a senior but would like your kids to be able to participate in youth sports or have a safe place to go after school. Cluver says if that's an opportunity perhaps you cannot afford, the Y offers membership discounts for those that qualify.

 

 

You can visit clintoncommymca.org for more information or contact the Y at 217-935-8307 or visit them at 417 South Alexander Street in Clinton. 

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Piatt County Antique Day This Saturday

If you are into antique shopping, Piatt County is your destination this week Saturday.

 

Businesses up and down Piatt County will be participating in the special day. Monticello Chamber Executive Director Shelly Crawford-Stock says nine businesses are participating and hopes the area visits Piatt County.

 

 

Willow Tree Missions is participating, offering the community a chance to get a sneak peek at the progress of its coming downtown location. Executive Director Jill Maxey told Regional Radio on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday they will have both of their Monticello locations participating.

 

 

For more information, visit makeitmonticello.com or find 'Make It Monticello' on Facebook. For more information on Willow Tree Missions, visit willowtreemissions.org or seek out ' Willow Tree Missions' on Facebook. 

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Illinois Hunters Harvest 147,00 Deer During '21 Season

Hunters in Illinois harvested about 147,000 deer this season, with most of those numbers coming during the archery and firearm periods.

 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources said the preliminary total of 147,004 deer is behind the 2020-2021 season harvest of 162,752 deer.

 

This season hunters took 43.75% does and 56.25% males.

 

Archery and traditional firearm seasons brought in the highest total harvests.

 

Archery hunters took a preliminary total of 67,637 deer. Firearm hunters took a preliminary total of 69,990 deer.

 

According to the department, the highest harvest total was in Pike County where hunters harvested 4,106 deer.

 

916 deer were harvested in DeWitt County with 573 being by firearm and 315 via archery.

 

Piatt County harvested 362 deer, 242 by firearm and 111 by archery. In Logan County 717 deer were harvested with 375 by firearm and 312 by archery. In McLean County, 1088 deer were harvested. 533 were via firearm and 520 by archery. 

 

Macon County took 743 deer with 494 through firearm and 213 via archery. 

 

In Champaign County, 597 deer were harvested with 373 by firearm and 197 via archery. 

 

1909 deer were harvested in Peoria County while 1451 were harvested in Sangamon County. Shelby County harvested 2449 deer and 1221 deer were harvested in Tazewell County. 

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Madigan Charged

The one-time Speaker of the House in Illinois has been charged with racketeering and bribery in a massive 22 count federal indictment.

 

Democrat Mike Madigan is accused of earning nearly $3 million in the schemes that enriched himself and close confident Mike McClain and greased the wheels of his office and political activities. The Feds’ are calling it the “Madigan Enterprise”. US Attorney John Lausch says Madigan lead a criminal enterprise for a decade while Speaker.

 

 

The 79-year-old Madigan released a statement on Wednesday saying he has never been involved in any criminal activity, and he looks back on his time in office fondly.

 

Madigan is expected to be formally arraigned in court on March 9th.

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Reaction to Madigan Charges

Governor JB Pritzker sat with federal authorities for about an hour last week as they questioned him over what he might have known about any wrongdoing by Mike Madigan.

 

The Governor says he met virtually with federal law enforcement and set no time limit on how long they would talk. He said just hours before the indictment came down that he supports rooting out corruption wherever it’s found in government.

 

 

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says he’s filing a petition to launch a Special Investigative Committee on Former Speaker of the House Mike Madigan as he’s facing a 22-count indictment on charges of bribery and racketeering.

 

 

Pritzker was not accused of any wrongdoing by the Fed’s on Wednesday, and they maintained that he was only interviewed as a witness in connection with the Madigan probe.

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Plainfield Lawmaker Reminds Smirnoff Made in Illinois

WHILE RETAILERS REMOVE RUSSIAN MADE PRODUCTS FROM THEIR SHELVES, ONE LAWMAKERS REMINDS THAT SMIRNOFF VODKA IS HOME GROWN. 

 

REPRESENTATIVE MARK BATINICK OF PLAINFIELD TRIED TO DISPEL ANY CONFUSION ON THE HOUSE FLOOR TUESDAY.

 

 

SMIRNOFF TRACES ITS ORIGINS BACK TO A DISTILLERY IN MOSCOW IN THE 1800’S BUT IS NOW OWNED BY A BRITISH COMPANY. IT’S CURRENTLY PRODUCED IN MANY COUNTRIES, BUT NOT RUSSIA.

 

 

ANOTHER VODKA SOLD IN THE U-S, STOLI, IS PRODUCED IN LATVIA. THE COMPANY SAYS ON ITS WEBSITE THAT STOLI VODKA AND ITS OWNER WERE EXILED FROM RUSSIA NEARLY TWO DECADES AGO.

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Illinois House Passes Bill Reimbursing Teachers for College Tuition Costs

TEACHERS WOULD BE REIMBURSED FOR THEIR COLLEGE TUITION COSTS UNDER A BILL PASSED BY THE HOUSE THIS WEEK. 

 

THE LEGISLATION PAYS BACK TEACHERS WHO WENT TO AN ILLINOIS COLLEGE AND THEN STAYED IN THE STATE TO TEACH AT A PUBLIC SCHOOL. THE GOAL IS TO ADDRESS THE SERIOUS TEACHER SHORTAGE SAYS REPRESENTATIVE SUE SCHERER OF DECATUR.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE AVERY BOURNE OF JACKSONVILLE SAYS THERE IS A MAJOR PROBLEM WITH THE LEGISLATION SINCE THE PROGRAM WOULD BE OPEN TO ANYONE.

 

 

THE BILL NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE.

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House Passes Bill Letting Vaccinated Teachers Take COVID Administrative Leave

TEACHERS AND OTHER SCHOOL STAFF CAN TAKE PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE IF THEY CONTRACT COVID-19 UNDER A BILL PASSED BY THE HOUSE THIS WEEK. 

 

THE LEGISLATION IS SIMILAR TO ONE VETOED LAST YEAR BUT HAS ONE MAJOR CHANGE. ONLY TEACHERS WHO HAVE BEEN VACCINATED CAN TAKE ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE INSTEAD OF SICK TIME. IT’S SUPPORTED BY REPRESENTATIVE KATIE STUART OF COLLINSVILLE.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE KEITH WHEELER ARGUED AGAINST THE MEASURE, QUESTIONING WHY OTHER FRONT-LINE WORKERS AREN’T GETTING THE SAME FLEXIBILITY.

 

 

OPPONENTS ARGUED THIS IS JUST ANOTHER VACCINE MANDATE. THE BILL NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE.

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Congressman LaHood Says US Can Do More to Support Ukraine

Amid an invasion by Russian troops in Ukraine, one central Illinois Congressman thinks the United States can do more to help Ukraine.

 

Calling Russan an 'existential threat' to the rest of the world, Congressman Darin LaHood said the first move the U.S. needs to take is to send more defense weapons to Ukraine.

 

 

In addition, the Dunlap Republican said the U.S. should continue to 'ratchet down sanctions' against the Russian regime. In a report over the weekend, 3-hundred 53 Ukrainian citizens are dead from the invasion that began in late February.

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DeWitt County Museum Excited About Progress of Coming Aviation Exhibit

The DeWitt County Museum's coming aviation exhibit highlighting the stories of aviation in DeWitt County is gaining a lot of momentum and interest.

 

The exhibit, titled 'Prairie Flyers: A Century of Aviation in DeWitt County, was proposed by John Warner and his friend Denis Hambucken who pitched the idea for the exhibit to Joey Long at the DeWitt County Museum. Warner indicates the Museum has embraced the idea and now the community is embracing it as well.

 

 

'Pretty amazing' is how Long describes the response to this idea from the community. The Museum has asked for artifacts and stories from those in DeWitt County and the community has stepped up and delivered.

 

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Hambucken told Regional Radio he is curating the exhibit and says the response and the material he has to work with have exceeded his expectations.

 

 

Hambucken calls it a month-long celebration of aviation in DeWitt County with special events surrounding this exhibit.

 

The exhibit will open on May 28 and be at the Museum's carriage barn until July 3. 

 

You can find more information by searching 'Prairie Flyers: A Century of Aviation in DeWitt County' on Facebook. 

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Illinoisans Get Key Appointment on US Ag Secretary's Advisory Committee on Urban Ag

An Illinoisan will serve on U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s inaugural advisory committee for Urban Agriculture. Angela Mason is a native of the Quad Cities and has been with Windy City Harvest at the Chicago Botanic Garden for 20 years.

 

 

12 members will serve on the advisory committee, which will provide input on policy development and help identify barriers to urban agriculture.

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State Fair Music Acts Announced

The Illinois State Fair has announced several grandstand acts for the coming 2022 State Fair. 

County Music acts include Sam Hunt, Brooks and Dunn, TLC and Shaggy and Sammy Hagar. State Fair Manager Becky Clark says that you can do more than just attend for the music.

 

 

The Blue-Ribbon Zone is also a VIP Experience available for all Grandstand concerts. Tickets for these concerts go on sale March 11th.

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House Ag Committee Doing Farm Bill Work This Week

The House Ag Committee in Washington this week doing work on a new Farm Bill. An update from Congressional Quarterly's Ellyn Ferguson.

 

 

Illinois is represented on the House Ag Committee by Bobby Rush, Cheri Bustos, Rodney Davis and Mary Miller.

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Gov. Pritzker Exploring If State Pensions Can Divest from Russian Companies

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ASKING THE STATE'S FIVE PENSION SYSTEMS ABOUT DIVESTING FROM ANY RUSSIAN COMPANIES.

 

ACROSS THE STATE EMPLOYEE, UNIVERSITY AND TEACHER PENSION SYSTEMS, ILLINOIS HOLDS NEARLY 100 BILLION DOLLARS IN ASSETS. THE GOVERNOR WANTS TO MAKE SURE NONE ARE TIED TO RUSSIA IN LIGHT OF THE COUNTRY’S ATTACK ON UKRAINE. HE’S AWAITING A RESPONSE.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS HE ISN'T SURE IF THE PENSION SYSTEMS HAVE ANY RUSSIAN INVESTMENTS BUT IF SO, THE STATE MUST TAKE ACTION IF POSSIBLE.

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS HE'S WAITING FOR A RESPONSE FROM THE PENSION SYSTEMS.

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Dr. Ezike Stepping Down From State Health Post

One of the lead voices for the COVID-19 response in Illinois is stepping down from her role. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike will be leaving the agency on March 14th. Ezike says it was the honor of a lifetime to serve in the role and lead Illinois through a pandemic.

 

 

She took time to thank her family for giving her the time to dedicate herself to the public health response. To honor her time with IDPH, Governor JB Pritzker proclaimed March 1st as Dr. Ezike Day in Illinois.

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Clinton Chamber Welcomes "The Cutting Edge & More"

There's a new option for a haircut in Clinton's downtown.

 

Tuesday the Clinton Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau welcomed "The Cutting Edge & More" with a ribbon cutting ceremony.  The new beauty salon is located just north of Mr. Lincoln's Square on Center Street in the former "Darwin's Barbershop."

 

Owners Savannah McGee and Marissa Smith are excited to be a part of the Clinton business community.  McGee brings three years of cosmetology experience to the venture, while Smith adds nearly six. 

 

 

Smith explains they'll be offering services for both men and women; with eyes of expanding services in the near future.  She adds that the shop itself has undergone major renovations.

 

 

Both McGee & Smith are thankful for the support they've received from the community thus far, and invite folks to stop by.

 

 

You can learn more about "The Cutting Edge & More" by following them on Facebook.

 

 

 

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DeWitt County Board Extensively Discusses Marina Purchases

Efforts to shore up issues that have plagued the Clinton Lake Marina were approved last Thursday night but not without some serious discussion of the money that is getting poured into the infrastructure of the operation.

 

Marina Committee Chairman Dan Matthews, as part of his report Thursday night, proposed for service and barge work for up to $40,000. The estimate was questioned and Matthews explains that is their estimate based on bids they've received so far. The Board decided they would reduce the action to $28,000 since that was the cost they knew they had. 

 

 

The action by the board calls to remove the old gas dock, secure the wooden breakwater, reset dock seven and connect a new ramp for that dock. Matthews says it will create over a dozen slips that could create $20,000 in slip renter revenue.

 

 

Melonie Tilley wanted clarity about what exactly was taking place at the Marina. Matthews indicates they want to get things started now so they can begin renting the slips in time for the boating season.

 

 

The Board Thursday night also took up a proposal to declare the installation of a breakwater system for the marina an emergency status for $350,000. Board Chair Terry Ferguson explains this winter has been particularly harsh on the existing breakwater and the search for something durable has spanned the country.

 

 

Breakwater issues at the marina have been on and off the radar of the Marina Committee for a few years now. When pressed about taking the project out to bid, Ferguson explains the current bid is specific to Marina's need, and bidding it out would likely delay the work getting done. 

 

 

Tilley wondered about how much more money would need to be poured into the breakwater issues. She says did not like the idea the Board 'hopes' this would work and was also concerned it wasn't a US-based company.

 

 

Matthews believes the Marina Committee has done its homework on the breakwater they are proposing. He says there have been pros and cons considered with the options they've explored and he feels this is going to be the durable option they need.

 

 

Funding for durable breakwater could be problematic. There's no sure source of funding and the County could end up borrowing money if all else fails.

 

 

All the motions for work on the Marina passed the Board. 

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Mahomet-Seymour Schools Superintendent Discusses Recent Rulings on Masks

A Champaign County school leader is pleased students in her district will not be required to wear masks after a trio of victories for Illinois families opposed to the State of Illinois' mask mandate have been defeated in the last month.

 

Dr. Lindsey Hall is the Superintendent of Mahomet-Seymour Schools and told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Monday February has been a rollercoaster between all the judiciary rulings and weather events. While the mask mandate lifted Monday, she says her board voted to go mask-optional shortly after the ruling came from the Sangamon County judge earlier in the month.

 

 

For parents and families in this battle, it has been about masks but for school leaders, the issue has been about local control. Dr. Hall says for those that spent the last few years in this battle with them, the best way to make sure local control is never stripped of schools again is to vote.

 

 

As parents and school boards fought essentially the same battle, the State bearing down blanket mandates is not new for school administrators. Dr. Hall explains there are a couple of issues with mandates and those are they are often unfunded and they are often billed as a small change but too many take away the local control of school boards.

 

 

Dr. Hall calls it very frustrating and says the handling of COVID is reflective of the overall approach to education in Illinois. 

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Illinois Soybean Association Looking for 'Top 20 Under 40'

To celebrate young farmers across the state the Illinois Soybean Association is looking for nominations for its "Top 20 Under 40."

 

The program will recognize 20 young farmers, under the age of 40, across all commodities and farm sizes. Rachel Peabody is the Director of Communications for the Illinois Soybean Association.

 

 

Nominations are being accepted online at IL20Under40.com through March 31st. The winners will be announced later this summer

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Gov. Pritzker Questioned About Stock

A report last week is linking a stock pick from Governor Pritzker’s blind investment trust to a corporation that does billions in state business.

 

Trustees at Northern Trust bought stock in Centene in 2020. Centene had been a state contractor before 2020, but that year they added to their state business portfolio. Pritzker maintains that he has no control over how the trustees are making stock and investment picks.

 

 

Pritzker says he only learned of the investment after a reporter called to ask about it.

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This is Severe Weather Preparedness Week

THIS IS SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS WEEK AND THE ILLINOIS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY HAS SOME TIPS TO HELP KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE.

 

IT'S ALL ABOUT BEING READY FOR ANYTHING, HAVING A FAMILY COMMUNICATION PLAN, AN EMERGENCY KIT AND KNOWING THE BIGGEST THREATS IN YOUR AREA SAYS I-EMA SPOKESPERSON KEVIN SUR.

 

 

SUR RECOMMENDS INVESTING IN A NOAA (noah) WEATHER RADIO.

 

 

SUR RECOMMENDS CHECKING OUT THE WEBSITE: READY DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV FOR ALL SORTS OF INFORMATION RANGING FROM WHAT TO DO DURING A TORNADO TO FLOOD CLEAN-UP..

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