Local News

DeWitt County Board Begins Updates to County Building

It was about this time last year the DeWitt County Board began a process to have its facility evaluated and thanks to a combination of COVID dollars and a strong budget year, the updates are beginning this spring.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Board Chair Dan Matthews told Regional Radio things are starting with a roof replacement that was approved at the Thursday night meeting.

 

 

According to Matthews, the roof was the one area of need they felt needed to be addressed first. That will lead to a flooring project that was also approved last Thursday night.

 

 

The projects targeted will take a couple of years to complete. Matthews explains that is to spread the cost out but also some areas of need are not in a dire state demanding attention.

 

 

Additionally, the projects can be afforded thanks to the County budgeting for the expenses but in the event, bids come in higher, they could turn to COVID dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

 

 

Matthews indicates the long-term plan for the County Building will be worked on through the course of the year, prioritizing the County Building's needs. 

Clinton Junior High School Students Complete Recent Field Trip to 'Challenger Learning Center'

Clinton Junior High School sixth-grade students recently wrapped up their annual trip to the 'Challenger Learning Center' at Heartland Community College in Bloomington.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Haley Bevans, a sixth-grade science teacher told Regional Radio she tries to hype her students up for this very unique opportunity they have.

 

 

According to Bevans, the experience is immersive where students are using equipment they might encounter in a NASA environment and are being hit with unexpected obstacles they have to overcome.

 

 

Clinton Junior High School Principal Jim Peck feels one of the benefits of the experience is students have to work on their communication and teamwork skills. 

 

 

Bevans and Peck thank the Clinton Community Education Foundation and ADM for their support of the program allowing them to make the trip. We'll hear more from them later this week on how that support has evolved in recent years. 

Kenney Fire Bringing Back Annual Good Friday Blood Drive With a Change

If you are one of the hundred or so donors that participate in the annual Kenney Fire Department's Good Friday blood drive, you might notice a small change when you come out this year.

 

In years past, the fire department has worked with the American Red Cross but this year they are welcoming ImpactLife to this year's drive. On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Troy Lashbrook with the fire department told Regional Radio, the event is Good Friday, April 7 from 11:30 am to 6:30 pm and appointments went live Monday. 

 

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Dani Craft with ImpactLife tells Regional Radio they are honored to be what she calls one of the most successful blood drives in all of central Illinois. She explains ImpactLife focuses on blood research and providing local healthcare systems with easy access to blood in times of need.

 

 

According to Craft, they are hoping to make the process of giving blood on Good Friday much smoother. She explains they want to better utilize the space at the fire station.

 

 

If you plan to give blood on April 7, appointments are requested and Craft notes things will work a lot like other blood drives you have participated in and should take about 40 minutes in total.

 

 

The blood drive, again, is Friday, April 7 at the Kenney Fire Station at 110 East Sheldon Street in Kenney. You can find the flyer for the drive at locations throughout DeWitt County and have the option to scan the QR code to schedule an appointment.

 

You can also contact members of the Kenney Fire Department to make an appointment. You can call Troy Lashbrook at 563-321-0416, KC Coles at 217-416-1599, or Fritz Robinson at 217-620-5407.

 

The drive is from 11:30 am to 6:30 pm. 

Red Cross Puts Call Out for Volunteers

The American Red Cross is launching a volunteer recruiting effort to respond to home fires and assist at blood drives. 

 

When a home fire occurs, Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers spring into action to get the victims the assistance they need in the short term. Sharon Watson, Red Cross spokesperson explains what is expected.

 

 

There is also a need for volunteers to support blood collections. You can learn more about either opportunity at redcross.org/volunteertoday

President Biden's Pick for Deputy Ag Secretary Stops in Illinois

President Biden’s nomination to serve as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture at USDA makes a stop in Western Illinois. Xochitl (So-CHEEL) Torres Small currently serves as USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development.

 

 

Torres Small was in Galesburg last Friday where $ 18 million in ReConnect funds were announced for high-speed broadband access to Hancock, Henderson, McDonough, and Warren counties.

 

Before becoming Undersecretary, Torres Small was a Representative for New Mexico's second congressional district and served in the House Agriculture Committee.

Illinois State Police Chief Analyzes Uptick in Mental Health Calls

The top brass of the Illinois State University Police force reports that calls for mental health help are dramatically rising across campus.

 

That could be due to internal and external pressures, social media, and peers, according to I-S-U Police Chief Aaron Woodruff.

 

 

I-S-U offers on-campus therapy through Student Counseling Services, but students are limited to one-on-one counselors. Once students reach their limit, they can participate in group counseling free of charge.

Comptroller Mendoza Discusses Bill to Make Sure Families of Fallen Officers Receive Compensation in Timely Manner

ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER SUSANA MENDOZA IS URGING PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION ENSURING THE FAMILIES OF FALLEN OFFICERS RECEIVE TIMELY BENEFITS FROM THE STATE. 

 

HERE'S THE PROBLEM: THE LINE OF DUTY COMPENSATION FUND PROVIDES BENEFITS TO FAMILIES WHO LOSE A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, FIREFIGHTER OR OTHER FIRST RESPONDER...BUT SOME YEARS IT RUNS OUT OF MONEY. THAT MEANS PAYMENTS ARE DELAYED, WHICH ISN'T RIGHT SAYS COMPTROLLER MENDOZA.

 

 

THE LINE OF DUTY COMPENSATION FUND PROVIDES BENEFITS AFTER A FIREFIGHTER, POLICE OFFICER OR OTHER FIRST RESPONDER DIES ON THE JOB. SOMETIMES, THAT FUND RUNS OUT, LEAVING MOURNING FAMILIES HAVING TO WAIT FOR THE MONEY SAYS REPRESENTATIVE NATALIE MANLEY OF JOLIET.

 

 

THE LEGISLATION ALSO DOUBLES THE AMOUNT OF TIME FAMILIES HAVE TO FILE A CLAIM FROM ONE YEAR TO TWO.

 

MENDOZA IS PUSHING BILLS THAT SET UP A CONTINUING APPROPRIATION FOR THE FUND, SO THAT IT'S NOT AT RISK OF RUNNING OUT. THE MEASURES ALSO GIVES FAMILIES MORE TIME TO FILE A CLAIM

Another State Police Vehicle Hit in Chicagoland Area

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS ISSUING ANOTHER WARNING ABOUT THE "MOVE OVER" LAW AFTER A THIRD TROOPER WAS INJURED THIS YEAR. 

 

THE TROOPER AND K-9 PARTNER WERE IN THEIR SQUAD CAR ON THE SHOULDER OF I-55 IN WILL COUNTY INVESTIGATING AN ACCIDENT MONDAY MORNING. ANOTHER CAR, FAILING TO MOVE OVER, STRUCK THE VEHICLE. THE TROOPER WAS TAKEN TO THE HOSPITAL AND HAS SINCE BEEN RELEASED. THE K-9 OFFICER WAS UNINJURED. THIS CONTINUES TO BE A DANGEROUS ISSUE SAYS I-S-P TROOPER JOSH ROBINSON.

 

 

THE ACCOMPANYING K-9 OFFICER WAS NOT HURT.

 

 

MOVE OVER OR "SCOTT'S LAW" REQUIRES DRIVERS TO SWITCH LANES WHEN THEY SEE A VEHICLE WITH FLASHING LIGHTS ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. FINES RANGE FROM 250 DOLLARS TO 10-THOUSAND.

Only Four Days in February Below 32 Degrees

Only four days in February did the high temperature not reach 32 degrees.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates that is unheard of for this time of the year. He would be surprised if February did not end up one of the top 10 warmest on record.

 

 

According to Shimon, the cold air is staying to the north and hasn't been able to find its way to the upper-midwest.

 

 

Looking ahead to March, Shimon indicates we're trending for an above-normal trend for both temperatures and precipitation. He anticipates a big winter storm event before it's all said and done. 

 

He'll break down the March weather patterns and what the outlooks are showing later this week on Regional Radio News. 

Central Illinois School Leader Appreciates Governor's Committment to Education

A central Illinois lawmaker is applauding Gov. JB Pritzker for his commitment to education in the latest Illinois budget proposed last week.

 

While he recognizes many may not view the Governor very favorably, Mt. Pulaski Schools Superintendent Fred Lamkey says the latest budget was very education heavy.

 

 

The commitment to making Pre-K available to all kids is something Lamkey applauds because he feels it is a vital program for introducing kids to the classroom and beginning the process of learning.

 

 

The dynamics of kids' home life have changed drastically in the last 50 years. With both parents working in most households, it is difficult for a child's development to be the top priority and so sending them to school is the way to make sure that development happens.

 

 

According to Lamkey, more money is coming to schools for education than it has in the past and he believes that is another example of the State's commitment to education in Illinois. 

Zero Illinois Counties at High Risk for COVID Transmission

FOR THE SECOND WEEK IN A ROW, NO ILLINOIS COUNTIES ARE RATED AT A HIGH LEVEL FOR COVID-19 TRANSMISSION. 

 

20 COUNTIES ARE AT MEDIUM RISK, UP FROM 19 THE PREVIOUS WEEK SAYS ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH SPOKESPERSON MIKE CLAFFEY.

 

 

STATE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE ALSO ANNOUNCING A NEW TELEHEALTH TEST-TO-TREAT SERVICE THROUGH THE SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE. PATIENTS WHO TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID CAN CALL: 217-545-5100 TO BE SCREENED AND PRESCRIBED MEDICATION IF NECESSARY.

 

 

THE NUMBER TO CALL IS 217-545-5100.

This is America Saves Week

This week is America Saves Week and Social Security is highlighting the importance of saving.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security explains since 2007 America Saves Week has been an annual celebration as well as a call to action for everyday Americans to commit to saving successfully.

 

 

Use America Saves Week as an opportunity to assess your own savings goals and progress. If you don’t have them, use this week as a launching point to create some. Start however small or as big as you need to. Myers stresses the important thing is to start. People with a plan are twice as likely to save successfully.

 

 

While you are thinking about saving, don’t forget to consider your future Social Security benefits. According to Myers, older workers tend to find themselves thinking about Social Security naturally, but they also have information for younger workers. 

 

 

Find out more at americasavesweek.org or visit ssa.gov/people/earlycareer to find out more about starting to save in your family or house today. 

Gov. Pritzker Makes Recommendations for Improving Behavioral Health in Illinois

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS RELEASING A REPORT ON IMPROVING BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE FOR ILLINOIS CHILDREN. 

 

THE REPORT MAKES 12 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TRANSFORMING THE STATE'S BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. THEY INCLUDE CREATING A CENTRALIZED RESOURCE, WHICH THE GOVERNOR SAYS HAS ALREADY BEEN TESTED ON A SMALLER SCALE.

 

 

OTHER SUGGESTIONS INCLUDE ADDING MORE RESIDENTIAL AND INPATIENT BEDS AND ADDRESSING THE SHORTAGE OF BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE WORKERS. GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS A LONG-TERM GOAL IS TO IMPLEMENT UNIVERSAL SCREENINGS FOR MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES IN SCHOOLS. 

 

 

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THEY WILL ALSO CREATE A HOTLINE AND CENTRALIZED ONLINE PORTAL TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR FAMILIES TO FIND SERVICES, WORK TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE WORKERS AND LAUNCH SCHOOL SCREENINGS FOR MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES.

 

THE REPORT IS THE PRODUCT OF AN INITIATIVE LAUNCHED LAST YEAR.

Gaming Operations in Illinois Generated $1.40-Billion Last Year

WHAT WAS ONCE JUST A COUPLE OF RIVERBOATS, ILLINOIS GAMING IS NOW A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY. (two stories, same lead).

 

THE STATE’S VARIOUS GAMING OPPORTUNITIES GENERATED ONE POINT FOUR BILLION DOLLARS IN TAX REVENUE LAST YEAR. THERE ARE 12 CASINOS IN ILLINOIS NOW WITH MORE TO COME, AND THE STATE IS HOME TO THE LARGEST NETWORK OF VIDEO GAMING TERMINALS OF ITS KIND IN THE U-S SAYS STATE GAMING BOARD ADMINISTRATOR MARCUS FRUCHTER (fruck-ter). AS FOR SPORTS WAGERING…

 

 

ONE AREA THAT CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE IS HORSE RACING, ESPECIALLY WITH THE CLOSING OF ARLINGTON PARK IN 2021. .

 

 

HORSE RACING SUFFERED ANOTHER BLOW IN 2021 WHEN ARLINGTON PARK CLOSED, LEAVING JUST TWO TRACKS…IN CICERO AND COLLINSVILLE WITH LIVE RACING. NEITHER TRACK HAS ADDED CASINO GAMING AS ALLOWED UNDER A 2019 GAMBLING EXPANSION LAW.

Analyzing Values of Milk Alternatives

A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TURNING TO MILK ALTERNATIVES, BUT A UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION NUTRITION EDUCATOR SAYS NOT ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL. 

 

COW'S MILK REMAINS THE GOLD STANDARD AS FAR AS NUTRITION GOES SAYS THE EXTENSION'S JENNA SMITH. THE MOST COMPARABLE SUBSITUTE? SOYMILK.

 

 

IN CONTRAST...ALMOND MILK HAS ABOUT 50 PERCENT LESS CALORIES THAN NON-FAT COWS MILK, BUT JUST ONE GRAM OF PROTEIN COMPARED TO AROUND NINE GRAMS IN REGULAR MILK. SMITH SAYS WHILE PEA MILK AND FLAXSEED MILK AREN'T AS POPULAR, IF THEY ARE FORTIFIED WITH CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D THEY ALSO CLOSELY ALIGN WITH COW'S MILK. 

 

 

OATMILK HAS ABOUT THREE GRAMS OF PROTEIN. OTHER ALTERNATIVES INCLUDE PEA MILK AND FLAXSEED MILK, WHICH SMITH SAYS ARE FAIRLY CLOSE TO COW'S MILK. SHE RECOMMENDS UNSWEETENED MILK AND CHECKING NUTRITION LABELS TO ENSURE WHICHEVER MILK YOU SELECT IS FORTIFIED WITH VITAMIN D AND CALCIUM.

2023 Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation Class Finishing up Program

The 2023 class of the Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation set to depart for an international trip. Leeson Gord is a 2023 fellow and is a farmer from Sandwich in DeKalb County. He says the extensive program has been a great professional development opportunity.

 

 

The international trip is the final step in the program. The group is visiting Europe.

 

Those interested in participating in the 2025 class can learn more at agleadership.org.

Clinton YMCA to Offer Lifeguard Certification Course

The Clinton YMCA is encouraging anyone interested in becoming a certified lifeguard this summer to participate in training in March. 

 

Executive Director Rennie Cluver indicates this program is in conjunction with the City of Farmer City but anyone interested in lifeguarding this summer can take this certification course.

 

Cut: lifeguardtrain        1:11        CUE: 

 

Farmer City has been particularly interested in joining forces with the Clinton Y for lifeguard training because last summer the community pool was not able to be opened up after an extensive renovation due to not having enough lifeguards to man the pool throughout the summer. 

 

Visit clintoncommymca.org or call the Y at 217-935-8307 for more information. 

Central Illinois Lawmaker Speculates On Gov. Pritzker's Future

A central Illinois lawmaker is speculating the Governor's budget address from last week was him making the case for his Presidential campaign for 2024.

State Rep. Dan Caulkins indicates Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has a small staff that is dedicated to touring the US and promoting his policies in what Rep. Caulkins notes is in addition to his trips overseas to rub shoulders with the world's elites.

 

 

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis made an appearance in Illinois earlier this week and Gov. Pritzker was critical of his time spent in Illinois. 

 

Another central Illinois lawmaker has called Gov. Pritzker's Presidential aspirations the worst-kept secret in Illinois politics. 

February Was Dry Until Wednesday Rains

February was warm and dry - that is until record rains fell in parts of central Illinois this past week.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln told Regional Radio the rain in part of Illinois Wednesday brought the month's precipitation totals in line with the average for this time of the year.

 

 

February was very mild and did not see a lot of snow. Monday on Regional Radio, Shimon lays out what March is looking like and the outlook for wintry weather to make up for what we did not get in February. 

New Facebook Phishing Scam

If you have a Facebook account, there’s a chance you may have recently been contacted by a scammer trying to get your login credentials. The latest phishing scheme preys on users believing they may be in danger of being locked out of their account, according to Better Business Bureau investigator Don O’Brien.

 

 

He says don’t panic, go to your account to see if it is actually locked, and always log in to your account the way you normally do – don’t trust any links. O’Brien says these scammers want you to act in an urgent manner hoping you will fall for their ruse.

Illinois Attorney General Charges Ex-Wapella Village Road Commissioner With 23 Felonies

Attorney General Kwame Raoul today announced that his office filed charges against a former road commissioner in DeWitt County for allegedly using a township credit card to make personal purchases and submitting forged receipts.

 

Raoul’s office charged Eldon Cusey, 68, of Wapella, Illinois, with theft, a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison; four counts of official misconduct, Class 3 felonies each punishable by up to five years in prison; and 17 counts of forgery, Class 3 felonies each punishable by up to five years in prison. Cusey’s next court date is scheduled for March 14.

 

Raoul said in a statement, government employees have an obligation to use government funds and property responsibly. Taxpayers must be able to trust that those who serve on their behalf use their authority for the public good and not to enrich themselves.

 

The Illinois State Police (ISP) led the investigation into Cusey’s alleged misconduct.

 

ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly said in a statement Thursday, the public must be able to trust public officials to use their tax dollars ethically. ISP’s Special Investigative Unit will continue to investigate public corruption and work with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to bring to justice those who break the law.

 

In documents filed with the DeWitt County Circuit Court Thursday, Raoul alleges that, when Cusey served as road commissioner, he used the township credit card to buy personal items, including home goods, pet food, alcoholic beverages and live chickens. Cusey allegedly submitted altered receipts to conceal these purchases. Cusey resigned from his position with the road commission in 2022.

 

The public is reminded that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

Assistant Attorneys General Mara Somlo and Haley Bookhout are handling the case for Raoul’s Public Integrity Bureau.

DeWitt County Board Hears on Carbon Capture in DeWitt County

Central and southern Illinois are prime locations for carbon storage.

 

That's the message from experts in the field interested in storing carbon dioxide underground in parts of DeWitt County. At the Thursday night DeWitt County Board meeting, Amille Anderson with Vault 4401, explains this project in DeWitt County is part of the ethanol pipeline running through the midwest.

 

 

According to Anderson, this project works with local landowners, and filings for this project goes through State of Illinois agencies. She indicates a new set of filings happens this week.

 

 

The ultimate goal of this effort is for carbon capture in DeWitt County and other locations in central and southern Illinois. Representatives from Navigator told the Board Thursday more about the basics of carbon storage.

 

 

Steve Whitacker with Vault explains there is currently a project at ADM they watch closely. He indicates Illinois has been a focal point for research of these projects.

 

 

According to the representatives from Navigator, this is pure CO2 storage with no other contaminants that will be stored, and explains how the carbon dioxide is separated. 

 

 

Whitacker was asked about the efficacy of the transfer of carbon dioxide into the ground and he indicates there is nothing that is 100 percent risk-free. He explains how to measure the structure of the well for any deficiencies in the structure.

 

 

Similar to wind and solar projects, there is a financial benefit to this project happening in DeWitt County.

 

 

When the question came regarding if the County has any say in this process, State's Attorney Dan Markwell did note the applicants, in this case, the landowners would have to file special use permits and meet any requirements the County has in place.

 

 

Board Chair Dan Matthews indicates with all the changes that took place at the State of Illinois level with wind and solar ordinances, he predicts this will be the next domino to fall for the state to come over the top regulated.

 

 

Also at the Thursday night County Board meeting:

 

>>The Board appointed Dr. Annilee Rohrscheib to serve on the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Board with the term to expire June 30, 2025. This takes the place of Dr. Tricia Scerba on the Board.

 

>>The Board appointed Holly Gehlbach to the role of County Animal Control Administrator 

 

>>The Board approved a bump in pay for election judges' compensation

 

>>The Board approved the Land Use Committee to authorization to start the text amendment process for wind and solar ordinances 

New Bleachers Set for Installation at Clinton High School This Summer

New bleachers are coming to Clinton High School.

 

The old wooden bleachers at the gymnasium have become very problematic for athletic and maintenance staff and on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Superintendent Curt Nettles told Regional Radio the upgrades will be very welcome.

 

 

According to Nettles, there were only two bids that came in for the work and one bidder did not understand the full scope of the project. The contractor doing the work has informed the district they can help bring the cost down.

 

 

Clinton Junior High School's bleacher tops are going to be replaced this summer.

 

It will be a busy summer at Clinton High School with the bleacher replacement, the gym floor work and the kitchen renovation all going on. 

Peace Meal Congregate Site Coming to Weldon

If you live in the Weldon area, a non-profit is inviting you to join them for a new congregate Peace Meal site.

 

Shelly Tolly with OSF Peace Meal indicates this is a great opportunity for seniors to be a part of a group lunch setting. The Weldon Village Hall on Maple Street will be the site for this daily meal offering. 

 

 

Tolly touts the quality of the meals that are made fresh daily and are nutritious so seniors can be assured they are getting a quality meal when they come out.

 

 

There is a suggested donation of $3.50 for each meal but Tolly stresses, if you cannot afford that, they do not keep track of who contributes and who does not. She explains there will be an envelope in the center of the table and if you can contribute do so, if not she says you should still enjoy a meal because Peace Meal wants to make sure seniors are well fed.

 

 

Meals will be served in Weldon Monday through Friday. The site, again, is located at the Weldon Village Hall on Maple Street and will be served to start at 11:00 am.

 

For more information, contact Peace Meal at 309-665-5900. 

Ag Teaching Openings Across Illinois

How many ag teaching openings are there heading into next school year in Illinois? An update from Jennifer Waters, who serves as District 3 coordinator for Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education.

 

 

More information at ilaged.org. There are currently 355 FFA chapters in Illinois with 502 ag teachers.

 

This is National FFA Week.

Expansion of Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit

AS TAX FILING SEASON RAMPS UP, ONE STATE SENATOR IS HIGHLIGHTING CHANGES TO THE ILLINOIS EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT. 

 

LOW TO MODERATE WAGE EARNERS MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CREDIT, WHICH HAS RECENTLY BEEN EXPANDED SAYS SENATOR OMAR AQUINO OF CHICAGO. THAT INCLUDES MAKING THE CREDIT WORTH MORE AND ADDING THOSE WITH AN ILLINOIS TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION OR “I-TIN” NUMBER INSTEAD OF A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

 

 

TAXPAYERS WHO QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT AUTOMATICALLY QUALIFY FOR THE STATE CREDIT. ACCORDING TO THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE EACH YEAR FAIL TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS BENEFIT.

 

 

AQUINO SAYS THESE ARE OFTEN UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS WHO ARE PAYING STATE AND LOCAL TAXES.

House Committee Passes Bill Allwing Multi-Occupancy in All-Gender Public Restrooms

NEW LEGISLATION LETS MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY RESTROOMS BE USED BY ALL GENDERS. 

 

CURRENTLY, IT’S TECHNICALLY ILLEGAL TO HAVE A PUBLIC RESTROOM WITH MORE THAN ONE STALL BE OPEN TO ALL GENDERS. A BILL FROM REPRESENTATIVE KATIE STUART OF EDWARDSVILLE DOESN’T REQUIRE THE CHANGE BUT SETS STANDARDS FOR PLACES THAT WISH TO ESTABLISH GENDER-NEUTRAL BATHROOMS.

 

 

STUART SAYS IT’S NOT A MANDATE…BUT SIMPLY ALLOWS FOR FACILITY BATHROOMS TO BE OPEN TO ALL GENDERS.

 

 

THE MEASURE HAS BEEN APPROVED BY A HOUSE COMMITTEE AND NOW FACES A VOTE ON THE HOUSE FLOOR. STATE LAW ALREADY SINGLE OCCUPANT RESTROOMS TO BE GENDER NEUTRAL

Administration Transitions Highlight Tuesday Night School Board Meeting

The next several years will be a time of transition for Clinton schools.

 

Tuesday night at the Clinton Board of Education meeting, the Board approved the retirement notices for high school principal Jerry Wayne and assistant principal Bob Svencner for the 2026-2027 school year.

 

Additionally, assistant superintendent Drew Goebel was approved as the district's superintendent effective for the fiscal years 2025 through 2027. Until that time, he will retain his title as assistant superintendent. 

 

Superintendent Curt Nettles will retire after the 2023-24 school year. 

 

Lincoln and Douglas Schools principal Beth Wickenhauser is set to retire at the conclusion of this school year. Jessica Patrick was approved as the principal for the two school buildings. 

 

In the consent agenda portion of the meeting, the Board approved the dismissal of M-Squad coaches Zoe Duncan-Savage, Scout Duncan-Savage, and Kelsey Savage effective immediately. 

 

The M-Squad has been one of the district's most successful programs over the last several years.

 

Also at the Tuesday meeting, the Board approved the 2023-24 school calendar, renewed its membership with the IESA and IHSA, renewed the Apple lease agreement for iPads in the district, and bleacher replacement bids were approved for the high school gym for a cost of just over $300,000. 

Farmer City, Clinton YMCA Teaming Up to Train Summer Lifeguards

If you are interested in becoming a lifeguard this summer, the City of Farmer City hopes you'll consider working with them and training at the Clinton YMCA later in March.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, City Manager Sue McLaughlin told Regional Radio they are hoping to get around 15-20 lifeguards for this summer and are partnering with the Clinton YMCA for a training class in March.

 

 

McLaughlin says they'd like to have between 15 and 20 lifeguards this summer. She notes this doesn't just have to be a summer job for teens. She invites anyone of any age to consider this opportunity.

 

 

McLaughlin encourages either contacting Farmer City Hall or the Clinton YMCA to get signed up. She also directs those wanting more information to visit the Farmer City Facebook page where you can find a copy of the flyer. 

Sen. Rose Critical of Expanded Spending in Illinois Budget Proposal

An east-central Illinois lawmaker is critical of the expanded spending proposed in the latest Illinois state budget laid out by Gov. JB Pritzker last week in Springfield.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose says the problem with the expanded spending is the revenue is temporary but the spending is permanent.

 

 

Sen. Rose appreciates the Governor's commitment to education. While he appreciates the commitment to education, there are some dollars that could be better spent to get individuals into the workforce.

 

 

The Mahomet Republican is critical of the Governor's grocery initiative because just since the start of the new year there have been two Illinois grocery stores closed because they cannot afford the power bills it takes to keep those stores open.

 

 

Sen. Rose says he grows tired of the Governor calling people raising legitimate questions 'carnival barkers' and other names. 

Freshman Illinois Congresswoman Hosts Ag Listening Session

Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski held an ag listening session in Springfield on Tuesday. The farmers in attendance told her that crop insurance was important to protect as a new Farm Bill is being debated. The freshman Representative says she wants to hear more from farmers and others in ag as she prepares to be a direct part of writing the next Farm Bill as a part of the House Agriculture Committee.

 

 

Budzinski is on the House Agriculture Committee and is sitting on 3 sub-committees.

Illinois Habitat for Humanity Highlights President Carter's Impact on Organizaiton

The 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter entered hospice care over the weekend at his home in Georgia.

 

In his final days, community leaders are remembering his influence on organizations like Habitat for Humanity. Bill Waller, Construction Manager at Habitat for Humanity for McLean County, discussed Carter's impact on the organization.

 

 

Carter, who at 98, is the oldest president in American history. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2015.

'309' Region Getting Additional Area Code Friday

THE 3-0-9 TELEPHONE REGION IS GETTING AN ADDITIONAL AREA CODE COME FRIDAY. (two stories, same lead).

 

THE CURRENT 3-0-9 AREA CODE COVERS SEVERAL COUNTIES INCLUDING HENRY, MCCLEAN, ROCK ISLAND, PEORIA, TAZEWELL, WHITESIDE AND STARK. A NEW 8-6-1 OVERLAY WILL ALSO BE PUT INTO USE, BUT PROBABLY NOT FOR SEVERAL MONTHS SAYS GEORGE LIGHT WITH THE ILLINOIS COMMERCE COMMISSION.

 

 

WHEN AN OVERLAY IS ACTIVATED, LIGHT SAYS THAT USUALLY MEANS PEOPLE IN THE AREA WILL NEED TO DIAL 10 DIGITS INSTEAD OF SEVEN. BUT SINCE THE 9-8-8 SUICIDE HOTLINE WAS LAUNCHED LAST YEAR, EVERYONE IS ALREADY DIALING THE FULL PHONE NUMBER.

 

 

LIGHT SAYS DEMAND FOR NEW NUMBERS HAS RECENTLY DROPPED IN THE REGION SO IT MAY TAKE SEVERAL MONTHS FOR THE 8-6-1 AREA CODE TO SHOW UP.

Illinois Attorney General Warns of Earthquake Relief Scams

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL KWAME RAOUL’S OFFICE IS WARNING THE PUBLIC ABOUT EARTHQUAKE RELIEF RELATED SCAMS. 

 

IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO SUPPORT EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS IN TURKEY AND SYRIA, BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE SENDING YOUR DONATIONS SAYS CHARITABLE TRUST BUREAU CHIEF KRISTIN LOUIS.

 

 

LOUIS, HEAD OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S CHARITABLE TRUST BUREAU, EXPLAINS WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR…

 

 

LOUIS SAYS YOU SHOULD ALSO BE CAUTIOUS WITH EMAIL SOLICITATIONS AND ADVISES NEVER DONATING IN CASH.

Gov. Pritzker Joins New Reproductive Freedom Alliance

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS JOINING THE REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM ALLIANCE. 

 

THE NEW GROUP IS MADE UP OF GOVERNORS FROM 20 STATES, INCLUDING ILLINOIS. THE GOAL IS TO EXCHANGE STRATEGIES FOR PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS. GOVERNOR PRITZKER SAYS THE STATE HAS BEEN A LEADER IN THIS AREA, BUT THAT THERE ARE STILL ISSUES TO COLLABORATE ON, SUCH AS WOMEN SEEKING CARE OUT OF STATE.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS 11 STATES CURRENTLY HAVE A FULL BAN ON ABORTIONS, AND MORE RESTRICT ACCESS.

 

 

THE GOVERNOR SAYS ONE AREA HE WOULD LIKE TO WORK ON WITH HIS COLLEAGUES IS PROTECTING OUT OF STATE WOMEN SEEKING AN ABORTION WHEN THEY GO BACK HOME

This is Grain Bin Safety Week

THIS IS GRAIN BIN SAFETY WEEK AND THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE IS ISSUING SOME REMINDERS TO FARMERS. 

 

ACCORDING TO RESEARCHERS AT PURDUE UNIVERSITY, THERE HAVE BEEN MORE THAN 900 CASES OF GRAIN ENGULFMENT OVER THE PAST 50 YEARS, KILLING 62 PERCENT OF VICTIMS. THAT’S WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO BE CAREFUL SAYS THE DEPARTMENT’S JOE SMALL.

 

 

IF YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO GO INSIDE THE BIN, SMALL RECOMMENDS MAKING SURE EVERYTHING IS TURNED OFF AND LOCKED AND THAT A HARNESS IS USED. LADDERS SHOULD BE INSTALLED INSIDE GRAIN BINS WHEREVER POSSIBLE FOR EMERGENCY EXIT.

 

 

RESEARCHERS AT PURDUE UNIVERSITY FOUND THAT IT ONLY TAKES FOUR SECONDS FOR AN ADULT TO SINK TO THEIR KNEES IN FLOWING GRAIN AND 20 SECONDS TO BE COMPLETELY BURIED.

Warner Hospital Gets New Doc at Family Medicine Clinic

The Warner Hospital and Health Services Family Medicine Clinic in Clinton has a new doctor. 
 
Dr. Natasha Minnaert is Board Certified in Family Medicine seeing patients from newborn to geriatric.  Hospital CEO Paul Skowron tells Regional Radio News Dr. Minnaert brings strong experience in rural Family Medicine from Iowa and most recently Whitehall, Wisconsin, a town of about 500.
 
Dr. Minnaert enjoyed spending time with your family, camping, and going to concerts.
 
She’s accepting new patients by calling the Family Medicine Clinic at (217) 937-5284.

 

Clinton YMCA Renovation Gymnasium

The Clinton YMCA is renovating its gymnasium.

 

Thanks to ARPA funds (American Rescue Plan Act) the Y will be installing a new gym floor, and new baskets and recently wrapped up adding a fresh coat of paint. On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Executive Director Rennie Cluver told Regional Radio it is a project that is much needed for the Y facility.

 

 

According to Cluver, the Y can make these upgrades thanks to the ARPA funds DeWitt County made available to non-profits. 

 

 

Cluver indicates a facilities committee within the Y Board set out a list of priorities as they evaluated the future of the facility. The gym renovation is likely the first phase of what will be several phases over several years for the Y.

 

 

Cluver indicates the Y facility has been added on to at various points since it was built in the 60s and the organization has been a part of Clinton for 120 years. He indicates they want to continue to be a part of the community. 

Central Illinois Lawmaker Calls Gov. Pritzker's Budget Address 'A Billionaires Budget'

A central Illinois lawmaker is critical of Gov. JB Pritzker's budget proposal laid out last week in the annual budget address.

 

Rep. Dan Caulkins calls it 'a billionaire's budget' because billionaires don't have to have a budget. He believes the second-term Democrat is using Illinois taxpayers' money to fund pet projects.

 

 

According to the Decatur Republican, the Governor is throwing money at problems in this budget hoping it fixes them. He points to education as one of those and the numerous Illinois school districts that have children at the earliest levels not reading or writing at grade level.

 

 

The 'Illinois Grovery Initiative' is an attempt to alleviate food deserts in Illinois and Rep. Caulkins says this is a problem as a result of grocery store owners that don't want to do business in Illinois and says it's a model that unsustainable.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins believes the fixes to a lot of these issues start at the local level and Illinoisans holding their local leaders accountable. He points out many problems the State faces are man-made.

 

 

Rep. Caulkins also notes this impacts the energy policy of Illinois where there are two plants ready to go online but Gov. Pritzker's policy keeps them closed while Illinois families deal with record-high energy costs. 

State FFA Team Celebrating FFA Week

The Illinois FFA state officer team traveling the state celebrating National FFA Week. Treasurer Kate Colgan was at the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois Annual Meeting in Peoria, which is not too far from where she attended high school in Princeville.

 

 

The Illinois FFA state officer team will finish up their one-year term in June.

Women in Ag Conference Next Month

The annual Women in Agriculture Conference is taking place on Friday, March 24th at Bally's QC in Rock Island. The event brings together members from 12 County Farm Bureaus in Central and Western Illinois for an informational meeting in support of Women in Agriculture. Katie Laleman with the Henry County Farm Bureau talks about what attendees can expect at this year's conference...

 

 

According to Katie Laleman, this is the first time in the history of the Women in Ag event that the entire planning committee for Women in Ag is made up entirely of women.

Interim ISU President Meets With Students, Faculty

Illinois State University faculty, students, and staff got to hear from the University's new interim President for the first time on Friday.

 

In his first comments since being named the interim President, Dr. Aondover (ON-doh-vey) Tarhule (Tar-HOO-lay) said he's ready to get to work and earn the trust from the Board.

 

 

Early last week, I-S-U's 20th President Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy abruptly resigned and Dr. Tarhule (Tar-HOO-lay) was picked to serve in the role on an interim basis. Tarhule has been with I-S-U since 2020, where he's served as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.

 

Interim President Tarhule is serving in the role until June 30th, 2024, when the Board completes their national search.

Gov. Pritzker Reacts to Gov. Desantis' Visit

Another Governor coming to Illinois has drawn the attention of our own.

 

Florida’s Ron DeSantis spoke to a law enforcement group in Elmhurst and JB Pritzker is pushing back on his appearance in the state.

 

 

DeSantis is seen as a possible Republican Presidential candidate.

COLA Scams

If you receive Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may have heard about the 8.7% increase in Cost of Living Adjustment – or COLA benefits this year. So have scammers, who are notorious for utilizing current events to work their crimes. An investigator with the Better Business Bureau advises skepticism if someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration reaches out to you from out of the blue.

 

Scammers may contact you by phone, text, or email, claiming you, saying you must apply for your cost-of-living increase. BBB Investigator Don O’Brien says they might ask you to visit a website, and to verify your identity by sharing personal details, such as your full name, address, or Social Security number.

 

 

He reminds if someone tells you otherwise, you’re likely dealing with a scammer. According to SSA, “If there is a problem with your Social Security number, we will mail you a letter. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us.” A call, text, or email from an SSA agent out of the blue is a red flag.

Encore Developmental Services Narrowing Target for Future of Facility

Encore Developmental Services leadership has been stressing the last several months as they face a major need to overhaul the fire safety of its east side facility.

 

Stephanie Coonce is the Executive Director of Encore Developmental Services and since last fall, she has worked tirelessly to find a way to make her facility compliant with the State Fire Marshal. She indicates they are working with an architect to develop a plan and narrow down what is feasible for the agency.

 

 

According to Coonce, the bones of the facility are good and so they can work within its structure to make the necessary improvements. She adds other options just did not make sense.

 

 

Coonce is in the process of writing grants and has her sites set on a DHS grant for non-profits that have to make upgrades for the Fire Marshal's office. She adds they are also considering working with a financial advisor to make sure they are being wise with any money they have.

 

 

While it may be aggressive, Coonce hopes to see funding secured and work beginning by the fourth quarter of 2023. She directs anyone interested in supporting their need, no matter how much, to find Encore Developmental Services on Facebook or visit their website, encoreservices.org. 

Local Financial Coach Seeing Disturbing Trend

A DeWitt County financial coach is seeing a disturbing trend in just the first seven weeks of the new year.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, First National Bank Financial Literacy Coordinator Connie Unruh told Regional Radio it's an issue unlike anything she's ever seen before. She is encountering a lot of individuals coming in with debt issues and turning to bankruptcy. 

 

 

Unruh indicates most debt settlement companies are not legitimate and in fact, many people that are in debt that turn to these individuals end up having bigger payments than they can afford.

 

 

If you are going to a debt settlement company, Unruh says she's only seen two people get out of those programs by declaring bankruptcy. She reminds, when it comes to recovering financially, there is no easy fix - it takes hard work.

 

 

Unruh offers free financial coaching and also teaches financial curriculums in area schools. You can find out more about her services by calling her at First National Bank in Clinton at 217-935-7464. 

Central Illinois Lawmaker Weighs In On Gov. Pritzker's Budget Address

A central Illinois lawmaker says there were some good things in Gov. JB Pritzker's budget proposal last week, and some bad, but overall, hopes Illinois Democrats give Republicans a seat at the discussion table.

 

State Sen. Sally Turner on the WHOW Morning Show Friday told Regional Radio she appreciated the Governor's commitment to K-12 education in the budget.

 

 

The Lincoln Republican appreciates the Governor's commitment to childcare as well. Sen. Turner says there is a real problem with childcare deserts in Illinois that she hopes will be addressed in this budget.

 

 

The issue with the budget for Sen. Turner is the fact the Governor continues to grow spending at a time when the state cannot afford it.

 

 

Sen. Turner is concerned Gov. Pritzker and Illinois Democrats want to spend COVID dollars that the state has to make it look like there is money to spend but she points out even the Illinois Comptroller is concerned about over-expenditure.

 

 

According to Sen. Turner, there are two committees that Illinois Democrats have elected to have co-chairs for and Sen. Turner is co-chair on one of those committees. She will be a co-chair on the Illinois Government committee and the higher education committee will also have a co-chair. This leaves her optimistic Illinois Democrats will include Republicans in the budget discussion. 

USDA Annual Vegetable Reports Shows Illinois Still A Leader in Pumpkins

THE U-S-D-A'S ANNUAL VEGETABLE REPORT IS OUT AND ILLINOIS IS STILL TOPS WHEN IT COMES TO PUMPKIN PRODUCTION. 

 

NEARLY 18-THOUSAND ACRES WERE PLANTED WITH PUMPKINS LAST YEAR IN ILLINOIS, THE MOST OF ANY STATE. CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER SAYS 97 PERCENT OF PUMPKINS GROWN WERE USED FOR PROCESSING. FOR OTHER CROPS, ILLINOIS FARMERS PLANTED 65-HUNDRED ACRES OF SWEET CORN IN 2O22.

 

 

SCHLEUSENER SAYS ILLINOIS FARMERS PLANTED 11-THOUSAND-200 ACRES OF SNAP BEANS LAST YEAR, DOWN 22 PERCENT FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

 

 

SCHLEUSENER SAYS 65-HUNDRED ACRES OF SWEET CORN WERE PLANTED LAST YEAR, FOR A TOTAL VALUE OF OVER 17 MILLION DOLLARS. THREE-QUARTERS OF THAT CAME FROM FRESH MARKET SALES. ANOTHER HIGHLIGHT FROM THE REPORT...FARMERS PLANTED 11-THOUSAND-200 ACRES OF SNAP BEANS IN 2021, DOWN 22 PERCENT.

Issues at Southern Illinois Mental Health Facility Drawing Attention

Problems of abuse and cover-ups continue at Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in southern Illinois. 

 

A recent published report by ProPublica revealed workers broke a patients arm and then bragged about getting away with it by offering up few details about the incident and blaming patients for their injuries. Governor JB Pritzker has been critical of the problems at the state run facility in Anna, but has stopped short of asking for it to be closed immediately.

 

 

A spokeswoman for DHS says Choate has “longstanding, entrenched issues” and the department has taken “aggressive measures to address them”.

Illinois Farm Bureau 'Rules of the Road' Seminars Start This Week

Illinois Farm Bureau members can learn the latest transportation laws and trucking regulations at “Rules for the Road” seminars around the state starting this week.

 

Each two-hour seminar will be offered in person with one also available virtually says IFB assistant director of transportation and infrastructure Rodney Knittel.

 

 

The sessions will offer farmers an opportunity to ask ag-related questions about trucking regulations and rules.

Gov. Pritzker Signs Birth Certificate Gender Change Law

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS SIGNING A NEW LAW TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR ILLINOISANS TO CHANGE THE GENDER ON THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATE. 

 

UNDER THE LAW, THOSE NOT IDENTIFYING WITH THE GENDER ON THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATE CAN GET IT UPDATED WITHOUT A DOCTOR'S NOTE SAYS SENATOR LAURA FINE OF GLENVIEW.

 

 

FINE SAYS THIS A MESSAGE OF SUPPORT TO THE TRANSGENDER ILLINOISANS.

 

 

PREVIOUSLY, SOMEONE WANTING TO MAKE THIS CHANGE WOULD HAVE TO GET CERTIFICATION FROM A DOCTOR THAT THEY'VE HAD GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY OR OTHER CLINICAL TREATMENT.

Hunting, Fishing Licence Renewal Time Approaching

If you have a hunting or fishing license, the time to renew is quickly approaching. 

 

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Captain John Williamson reminds renewal dates for those fishing licenses are still about a month away and renewals can be done in-person or online.

 

 

When it comes to renewing those hunting licenses, you will need to have completed a hunter's safety course. Capt. Williamson indicates older hunters do not but if you were born after a certain date, you need to have that completed.

 

 

Firearm deer tag applications are due by the end of March. Capt. Williamson reminds if you want your first pick of counties, get those applications in on time.

Central Illinois Lawmaker Wonders if Gov. Pritzker's Budget Address Was Presidential Campaign Announcement

A central Illinois lawmaker is questioning if Gov. JB Pritzker's Wednesday budget address was his unofficial announcement to run for president in 2024.

 

State Sen. Chapin Rose anticipated the Wednesday address to be just that but says if it was an announcement of his intent to run for President, the second-term Democrat needs a new speech writer.

 

 

According to Sen. Rose, the Governor taking shots at Florida Gov. Ron Desantis and his talking points about abortion made him believe this was a campaign speech.

 

 

Sen. Rose believes the quicker the Democratic primary moves along the better it is for Illinois because he believes the Governor has no interest in Illinois at this point. 

Weekly Weather Summary

Last weekend's mild weather gradually disintegrated to a very seasonable finish to the week but more warm air is headed to central Illinois. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more....

 

 

National FFA Week Kicks Off Saturday

FFA chapters around the state getting set to celebrate National FFA Week. Hannah Miller serves as the Vice President of the Prairie Central FFA Chapter.


 

National FFA week runs this Saturday through feb. 25.

Clinton Police Department Names New School Resource Officer

The Clinton Police Department will have a new school resource officer next year.

 

Officer Mike Bennett is retiring this summer and Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers indicates Officer Kody Mair is going to take the role of School Resource Officer starting next school year.

 

 

Chief Lowers praises Officer Mair's background in working with youth. Prior to shifting to law enforcement, Officer Mair was a youth minister.

 

 

According to the Chief, the interview process was rather unique because not only did Officer Mair interview with the Department leadership, but he also interviewed with school stakeholders.

 

 

Chief Lowers looks forward to having Officer Mair join him on the WHOW Morning Show as the new school year draws closer this summer. He wishes Officer Bennett the best in his retirement. 

Sunday's Daytona 500 Fundraiser Puts Spotlight on DeWitt County Organization

The Sunday Daytona 500 Fundraiser at the Clinton Eagle's to benefit DeWitt County fire departments puts the spotlight on an organization that does a lot for the community.

 

Deanna Long is the President of the Eagles and tells Regional Radio Sunday's Daytona fundraiser has some new twists this year. They're adding a reverse raffle in addition to the silent auction and food served.

 

 

For the Eagles, the Daytona 500 fundraiser is just one of the many ways the organization gives back to the community. Long indicates they donated over $50,000 back into the community last year. 

 

 

Long explains they are bringing back some programs that were popular several years ago. She encourages anyone to join their Facebook group by searching 'Fraternal Order of Eagle's No. 593' or stop into their location on North Center Street in Clinton. 

 

The Eagles is holding a membership Drive on March 11. They invite anyone to join them on that day for just $18 for new members. The Eages have over 900 members. 

Miller Park Zoo Mourns Loss of Snow Leopard

The Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington is mourning the loss of one of its snow leopards this week.

 

Zoo Executive Director Jay Pratte on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday told Regional Radio 'Hemma' had a unique personality and was very special for her role in the active breeding program at the zoo.

 

 

Working in the big cat field for many years, Pratte says it will be interesting to see how the other animals in the collection respond. He says snow leopards by nature are very solitary animals.

 

 

Pratte indicates they will give the staff of the zoo time to grieve this loss and then potentially discuss how to best memorialize Hemma and her impact on the zoo. 

Gov. Pritzker Traveling State Touting 'Smart Start Program'

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS HITTING THE ROAD TO TOUT HIS PROPOSED “SMART START” EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. 

 

THE FIRST STOP WAS AT SPRINGFIELD’S EARLY LEARNING CENTER WHERE THE GOVERNOR SAID THAT IN THE FIRST YEAR OF THE INITIATIVE, FIVE THOUSAND NEW PRE-SCHOOL SPOTS WILL BE ADDED ACROSS THE STATE. THERE’S ALSO A PLAN TO PROVIDE CHILD CARE WORKERS WITH BETTER PAY.

 

 

HE PROPOSES PUMPING 100 MILLION DOLLARS INTO EXPANDING AND BUILDING EARLY CHILDHOOD FACILITIES.

 

 

SMART START ADDS FUNDING FOR EARLY INTERVENTION AND HOME VISITING EFFORTS AND DEDICATES CAPITAL DOLLARS TO EXPAND OR BUILD NEW EARLY CHILDHOOD FACILITIES.

Dental Legislation to Improve Care Unveiled

ADVOCATES ARE UNVEILING A NEW LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE TO IMPROVE DENTAL CARE IN ILLINOIS.

 

FOR STARTERS, THE “MORE FOR YOUR SMILE” PACKAGE REQUIRES DENTAL INSURERS TO PUT A LARGER PORTION OF PREMIUMS COLLECTED TOWARDS PATIENTS. REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER GONG-GERSHOWITZ OF GLENVIEW:

 

 

THE GOAL OF THE “MORE FOR YOUR SMILE” LEGISLATION IS TO MAKE SURE PATIENTS GET THE MOST BANG FOR THEIR BUCK SAYS ILLINOIS STATE DENTAL SOCIETY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ERIC LARSON.

 

 

OTHER BILLS AIM TO MAKE DENTAL INSURANCE MORE TRANSPARENT AND BAN VIRTUAL CREDIT CARD FEES. THE LEGISLATION WAS PUT TOGETHER WITH INPUT FROM THE ILLINOIS STATE DENTAL SOCIETY.

The Vault Offering Programs For Kids Try New Things

A youth leader in Clinton is noticing our young people are afraid to try new things for fear of failure and is seeking to help them gain confidence in trial and error.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, The Vault in Clinton Executive Director Tammy Wilson told Regional Radio the mini enrichment opportunities gives kids the chance to try out new things.

 

 

According to Wilson, they have come up with seven pillars to guide them as they seek to introduce their students to new things. She believes they all play an important role in the development of resiliency in their kids.

 

 

What does that look like in terms of programming? Wilson indicates they are teaching students yoga and chess. Additionally, they do things like tutoring, hangouts planned, and learning life skills.

 

 

For parents at home, Wilson encourages instead of being disappointed in your kids over their failures - ask them what they learned in that failure. 

 

Follow along with all things The Vault by finding them on Facebook or visiting thevaultclinton.org. 

Maroa-Forsyth Open House For New Facility Tonight

Maroa-Forsyth Schools administration is inviting the community out tonight for an open house of its new middle school.

 

Dr. Kris Kahler is the Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools and indicates it is an open house style event starting at 6 pm. There will be a ribbon cutting with some remarks by stakeholders of the district but he is excited to show off the new space.

 

 

Friday students will be out of class to allow for teachers to transition themselves and their materials over to the new space and then following President's Day Monday, students will move in full time that Tuesday. 

Gov. Pritzker Delivers Budget Address

Gov. JB Pritzker delivered his budget address on Wednesday afternoon to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly and the emphasis on this year's budget is without question education.

 

Gov. Pritzker announced a new early childhood initiative - Smart Start Illinois. Smart Start Illinois will address areas where no preschool is available nearby.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker called for increased funding for K-12 education.

 

 

Governor JB Pritzker proposes a nearly $50 billion new state budget with an emphasis on early childhood education.

 

 

Go. Pritzker wants to create a portal for families needing behavioral health care.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker announced the Illinois Grocery Initiative.

 

 

Gov. Pritzker wants to establish a Reproductive Health Public Navigation Hotline.

 

 

Among other talking points from the Governor's budget address was a proposal to upgrade the Illinois Department of Public Health to better track emerging diseases and increase the MAP college grant funding by $100. 

Illinois Republicans Critical of Gov. Pritzker's Budget Address

REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS ARE CRITICAL OF NEW SPENDING IN THE GOVERNOR’S PROPOSED STATE BUDGET. 

 

THE G-O-P SAYS THEY HOPE TO WORK WITH DEMOCRATS ON ISSUES LIKE EDUCATION BUT SAY THE THREE BILLION DOLLARS IN NEW SPENDING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. SENATOR DAVE SYVERSON OF CHERRY VALLEY:

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE JOE SOSNOWSKI OF ROCKFORD ADDS THAT THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET DOESN’T TACKLE SOME MAJOR PROBLEMS.

 

 

REPUBLICANS WANT TO SEE ACTION ON PROPERTY TAXES, PENSION DEBT, SUPPORTING THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED AND CREATING A BETTER BUSINESS CLIMATE.

Downstate Lawmakers Calling for Energy Relief

DOWNSTATE SENATE REPUBLICANS ARE CALLING FOR ACTION ON RISING ENERGY COSTS. 

 

SOME FAMILIES HAVE SEEN THEIR POWER BILLS DOUBLE OVER THE PAST YEAR, LEAVING THEM WITH SOME TOUGH CHOICES. SENATOR TERRY BRYANT OF MURPHYSBORO SAYS A RELIEF PACKAGE FOR AMEREN CUSTOMERS THAT’S BEEN PASSED BUT NOT FUNDED WOULD HELP. SHE SAYS AT LEAST 200 MILLION DOLLARS IS NEEDED.

 

 

SENATOR CHAPIN ROSE OF MAHOMET SAYS SOMETHING MUST BE DONE IMMEDIATELY TO HELP FAMILIES STRUGGLING TO PAY THEIR POWER BILLS. HE POINTS TO A RELIEF PACKAGE FOR AMEREN CUSTOMERS THAT WAS PASSED BUT STILL HASN’T BEEN FUNDED.

 

 

OTHER SOLUTIONS INCLUDE CUTTING BUREAUCRATIC RED TAPE SO THAT NEW POWER PLANTS CAN COME ONLINE MORE QUICKLY AND ADDING MORE MEGAWATTS OF CLEAN, GAS-GENERATED POWER TO THE GRID.

Illinois Farm Bureau Doc Getting Plenty of Attention

Illinois Farm Bureau Director of Environmental Policy Lauren Lurkins pleased with the organization’s lead on the documentary “Sustaining Our Future: A Farm Family Story”.

 

 

The hourlong doc, produced in 2022, follows the Ganschow family in Bureau County to highlight the farmer spirit and collaboration required to achieve the goals of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

National Farm Marchinery Show Report

The National Farm Machinery Show is underway in Louisville, Kentucky. RFD Radio's DeLoss Jahnke is on the ground providing coverage.

 

 

The biggest combine in North America is on display at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville. 

 

 

The National Farm Machinery Show serves as a backdrop for companies to roll out new equipment. 

 

 

Dudley Smith Farm Field Day Presents Opportunity to Display Research

The Dudley Smith Farm in Christian County is a 228-acre agriculture research center. 

 

Tuesday, the farm held its winter meeting. Ed Ballard, the coordinator, says the annual event is a great opportunity to update everyone on the progress of researching cover crops, soil health, crop rotations, and more. 

 

 

Ballard says Dudley Smith held the most farmland in the country for some time. As part of his legacy, he donated a bunch of land across the Midwest. 

 

 

The use of cover-crops has exploded since the farm’s research started decades ago. 

 

 

As for next year, Ballard says the initiative will make a change in crop to see if it improves soil health. 

 

 

Learn more at dsi.aces.illinois.edu. 

Encore Thrift Store Dispels Closure Rumors

A disheartening rumor has been put to rest by the top executive of a DeWitt County non-profit.

 

Tuesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Executive Director of Encore Developmental Services Stephanie Coonce told Regional Radio the thrift store and its many programs are open and still going strong despite recent rumors she's had to address several times the agency has closed. 

 

 

An Encore closure would be a very big deal for the community, particularly for some of the most vulnerable. Coonce indicates Encore's services are some of the only ones in the area for its clients.

 

 

One of the reasons Coonce suspects the talk of closure of Encore started was because of the developments in their facility status from a visit from the State Fire Marshal Service. 

 

 

Coonce indicates the future of Encore is likely to be in its current facility with a major facelift required in the next several years. We'll hear more from her on that in the days ahead on Regional Radio. 

Alumnus of Central Illinois CEO Program Advocates for More Students to Consider Program

An alumnus of the CEO program in DeWitt and Macon County schools is hoping students will consider participating even if they may not view themselves as the type of student that would participate in the program.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Cameron Reynolds told Regional Radio he wasn't a straight-A student in high school and largely kept a low profile. But because of encouragement from his parents and a teacher at Maroa-Forsyth High School, he decided to participate in the program.

 

 

Reynolds, who is now on the board for the CEO program, says there is a perception of the program that it is for the best of the best of high school students in the schools it serves. He says that is absolutely not the case and hopes students wanting a different experience to give it a try.

 

 

Reynolds says being on the CEO board has been a good experience and hopes to bring the perspective of the student. He encourages students to consider the class and inquire about attending for a day. 

 

 

Facilitator of the Central Illinois CEO program, Melanie Brown praises Reynolds' transformation in his time as a student and now taking on a leadership role to help bring students into the program.

 

The Central Illinois CEO program serves students in the Blue Ridge, Clinton, Maroa-Forsyth, and Warrensburg-Latham school districts. 

Illinois State Police Investigating Deadly Shooting in Christian County

Illinois State Police are investigating a shooting fatality in rural Christian County.  46-year-old James C. Lindsey of Taylorville was shot and killed on Monday morning.  According to authorities, at 5:19 AM, a female resident was leaving her home to go to work and her juvenile daughter with her.  The woman noticed the male homeowner’s truck was running.  The truck was a 1993 International commercial work truck and the female thought someone was attempting to steal it.  The male resident came outside carrying a firearm.

 

The female resident and her juvenile daughter attempted to leave the residence and as they did, Lindsey rammed the driver’s side door of her vehicle with the truck pushing it through the driveway. The male resident discharged his firearm hitting and killing Lindsey inside the truck. The male and female both called 9-1-1 and waited for Christian County Deputies and EMS to arrive on the scene. Lindsey was pronounced deceased on the scene.

 

At this time no charges will be filed by the Christian County State’s Attorney.  ISP is also completing an investigation and once complete, the case will be provided to the Christian County State’s Attorney for review.  The investigation is still ongoing. 

 

ISP DCI Zone 4 and Division of Forensic Services Crime Scene Investigators along with the Christian County Sheriff’s Office all were involved with the investigation.

Dudley Smith Research Paying Dividends

It is possible to create a profitable and conservation-sound beef grazing system. 

 

Marion County Farmer Evan Schulte made the trip to the Dudley Smith Farm Field Day in Christian County, Tuesday, February 7th. He’s a third-generation Dudley Smith farmer. His grandfather was among the first to use the data gathered from the farm in practice. Schulte, at just 25 years old, wanted to make his farm profitable as soon as possible. 

 

 

He purchased his first farm at just 20 years old. 

 

 

Schulte has made huge progress over the past five years. 

 

 

He says the secret is rotating the grazing substance. 

 

 

The Dudley Smith Farm Field Day was last week in Christian County.

The Year of the Farmer is Underway

The year of the farmer is underway. You might have seen famers highlighted during a Super Bowl commercial - that’s the start to the “We are 96” campaign launched by commodity groups around the state. Jennifer Tirey, Executive Director the Pork Producers says the spot was merely the first part of the rollout to make this the year of the farmer.

 

 

The Illinois Farm Families Coalition includes support of the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program, and Midwest Dairy.

Illinois House Republicans Lay Out Priorities

REPUBLICANS IN THE ILLINOIS HOUSE ARE LAYING OUT THEIR LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR THE YEAR. 

 

THE HOUSE G-O-P IS SETTING UP WORKING GROUPS TO FOCUS ON SEVERAL AREAS. THAT INCLUDES PROTECTING CHILDREN IN THE STATE’S CARE AND IMPROVING THE BUSINESS CLIMATE IN ILLINOIS. REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE HAAS (ha-ss) OF BOURBONNAIS (bourbon-ay) ANOTHER GOAL IS SUPPORTING WOMEN AND FAMILIES, SUCH AS INCREASING ACCESS TO BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE DAN UGASTE (you-gas-t) OF SAINT CHARLES SAYS HE WILL LEAD A WORKING GROUP TO IMPROVE THE BUSINESS CLIMATE AND BOOST THE STATE’S ECONOMY.

 

 

ANOTHER ITEM ON THE REPUBLICAN AGENDA IS HELPING STUDENTS GET BACK UP TO SPEED AFTER THE PANDEMIC.

Illinois Department of Revenue Reminds Taxpayers to Take Advantage of Senior Citizens Tax Deferral Program

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE IS REMINDING ELIGIBLE TAXPAYERS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SENIOR CITIZENS TAX DEFERRAL PROGRAM. 

 

THE PROGRAM WORKS LIKE A LOAN, ALLOWING QUALIFIED SENIORS TO DEFER ALL OR PART OF THEIR PROPERTY TAXES SAYS REVENUE SPOKESPERSON MAURA KOWNACKI (kuh-nacky).

 

 

UNDER THE PROGRAM, SENIORS 65 AND OLDER EARNING NO MORE THAN 65-THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR CAN DEFER UP TO 75-HUNDRED DOLLARS IN PROPERTY TAXES SAYS KOWNACKI.

 

 

SENIORS HAVE UNTIL MARCH FIRST TO APPLY. THEY WILL NEED TO GET AN APPLICATION FROM THEIR LOCAL COUNTY COLLECTOR’S OFFICE.

DNR Conservation Police Recruiting New Officers

The Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police is looking for new officers.

 

Capt. John Williamson explains they are hitting the recruiting trail very hard and need 25 officers. He indicates the hiring environment is very difficult for law enforcement.

 

 

Capt. Williamson indicates the style of law enforcement that Conservation Police offers is enjoyable. He believes the moniker 'game-warden' is something embraced by those in the field.

 

 

One of the drawbacks for many years at the Conservation Police Force level was officers have to start in northern Illinois and it may be several years before an individual can return closer to home. Capt. Williamson indicates changing that is something they are exploring to keep officers in the force and make it attractive to join.

 

 

According to Capt. Williamson, while they are starting to see young officers who may not be as passionate about hunting or fishing, most of the Conversation Police Force got into that line of work because of that passion. 

Dudley Smith Farm Field Day Highlights Crop Rotation Assisting Tile Drainage

The Dudley Smith Farm Initiative is introducing more crop rotation into its tile drainage research.

 

Kristin Greer, University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences Senior Research Specialist, hopes this will aid tile drainage. 

 

 

She says this happens throughout different growing stages of research.

 

 

Results are still developing, but Greer says early data points in a positive direction. 

 

 

Greer wants you to learn more about the Dudley Smith Initiative at dsi.aces.illinois.edu. 

 

 

Greer presented at last week's Dudley Smith Field Day.

Gov. Pritzker Budget Address Tomorrow (Wednesday)

The Governor is set to give a budget address this week. It will be the first one he delivers in front of the General Assembly in two years. Pritzker hasn’t said much in the weeks leading up to the address – but if you look back to his inauguration speech plans for education should be highlighted.

 

 

The Governor will speak on Wednesday in the House Chambers at the Illinois State Capitol.

Clinton Fire Responds to Early Monday Blaze

Around 12:35 am Monday, Clinton Fire was called to a house fire on West Washington. 

 

While on patrol, Clinton Police Department observed the blaze and called fire authorities to the scene. The structure was vacant and was discovered with heavy fire conditions on the third story of the home. 

 

Joining Clinton Fire in fighting the blaze were Kenney, Wapella, and Waynesville Fire Departments. Crews knocked the flames on the ground level with Clinton Fire's ladder truck to knock down the flames on the upper level. Crews were able to create a more stable situation and finish fighting the blaze from the interior.

 

No injuries were reported.

 

DeWitt County EMS was also at the scene. Crews were able to clear the scene around 4 am. 

 

The incident is under investigation by the Illinois Fire Marshals office.

Some Clinton Residents Evacuated Over Gas Leak

Early Tuesday evening, Clinton residents in the southwest portion of the community were evacuated over a gas leak.

 

The impacted residents were in the area of West Main Street to West White Street and South Center Street to South Walnut Street. 

 

Residents in the Center Street to Poplar Street and Main Street to South Street areas were allowed re-entry to their residents around 6:30 pm and the remaining residents were allowed re-entry upon verification from Ameren that the homes were safe.

 

The reports came in around 5 pm Monday evening. 

Clinton Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner Set for March 4

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce has set its annual dinner for Saturday, March 4.

 

Tickets are on sale now for this event which is a bit later in the spring than usual. On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Executive Director Janice Peterson told Regional Radio the event will be at the Georgia Jill starting at 5 pm.

 

 

New entertainment and new games will highlight this year's event. Peterson indicates they have a magician that will perform after dinner and they are introducing a game around balloons and prizes.

 

 

The Chamber dinner is the first of a trio of first-quarter events that are significant fundraisers for the Chamber. Peterson indicates the Haunted House in October is the agency's biggest fundraiser of the year.

 

 

Ticket sales for the Chamber dinner are on sale now and need to be purchased by Friday. Get more information at clintonilchamber.com. 

 

Later in March will be the Clinton Chamber Business Expo and then Peterson moves on to planning for May Days. Applications for the Business Expo are available now, also available at clintonilchamber.com. 

Shelbyville High School Partnering With US Army Corps of Engineers

Shelbyville School District is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide a fantastic outdoor education experience. 

 

Shelbyville High Principal Kyle Ladd says he’s thrilled to partner with the Corps. 

 

 

Learn more at shelbyville.k12.il.us. 

Taylorville Man Sentenced to 20-Years for Meth Delivery

A Taylorville man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for meth delivery. 37 year old Donald R. Felton of the 900 block of West Poplar Street in Taylorville was sentenced on February 7th, to 20 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute 50 or more grams of actual methamphetamine.  

 

According to authorities, beginning in May of 2019, law enforcement officers initiated an investigation of Felton for traveling to the St. Louis area to obtain meth for redistribution in the Taylorville area. On June 8th, 2019, officers observed Felton drive his SUV to a rest area near Hamel, Illinois, just north of St. Louis where he met with an individual and then returned to Taylorville. Officers executed a traffic stop near Taylorville searching Felton’s SUV where they seized 398 grams (nearly one pound) of methamphetamine and a digital scale along with $800 in cash. 

 

Chief US District Judge Sara Darrow focused on the impacts of pure meth on communities in Illinois and on Felton’s criminal history which began back in 1996 when Felton was just 11 years old. He was indicted in June of 2019 and was convicted after a two-day jury trail in June of 2022. The statutory penalties for possession with intent to distribute 50 or more grams of actual meth are a minimum of 15 years and up to life in prison with up to a $20,000,000 fine and a minimum of 10 years and up to a life term of supervised release. 

 

The Illinois State Police Central Illinois Enforcement Group, Christian County Sheriff’s Office, Taylorville Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case. Assistant US Attorney’s Timothy A. Bass and Sierra Senor-Moore represented the government in the prosecution.

Social Security Offers Tips to Help Loved Ones Navigate Applications, Information

Social Security can impact people in all stages of life and they strive to provide easy and convenient ways to learn about and apply for its benefits.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security says you may have a family member that does or will soon need assistance navigating the world of Social Security and has some tips for us. Use the online services to assist friends and family members to learn about Supplemental Security Income (SSI) www.ssa.gov/ssi.

 

 

Myers points out SSI is a needs-based program that can pay benefits on the basis of disability or age - 65 or older. There is no work history required, but you do have to have limited income and resources. People who may not meet the work requirements to qualify for Social Security disability could still qualify for SSI. Review the website to help them learn if they may qualify, and in some cases, the SSI application can even be filed online. 

 

 

The Social Security disability benefit is probably the most known benefit through Social Security. Myers explains those who are unable to work because of disability and are under full retirement age should consider applying for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI)

 

 

According to Myers, if you're going to be helping a loved one with any of these programs within Social Security, you'll want to create a personal mySocialSecurity account. The mySocialSecurity account is a personal portal to Social Security information about yourself. You can’t create an account on behalf of someone else, but you sure can sit with them and help them do it.

 

 

For more information on how you can help others visit www.ssa.gov/thirdparty. 

Tips for Getting Into Cottage Food Industry

THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION IS OFFERING SOME TIPS TO GET INTO THE COTTAGE FOOD INDUSTRY. 

 

MANY PEOPLE ARE TURNING THEIR LOVE OF BAKING AND COOKING INTO A SECOND GIG, BUT THERE ARE REGULATIONS. YOU MUST TAKE A FOOD SAFETY COURSE AND REGISTER WITH THE LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT, LISTING WHICH FOODS YOU PLAN TO SELL. SOME ITEMS HAVE ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS SAYS U OF I EXTENSION NUTRITION EDUCATOR JENNA SMITH.

 

 

YOU WILL ALSO HAVE TO GET INSURANCE COVERAGE AND PAY TAXES ON SALES. MORE RESOURCES, TRAINING AND CHECKLISTS FOR GETTING STARTED ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: EXTENSION DOT ILLINOIS DOT EDU. JUST SEARCH FOR "COTTAGE FOOD."

Illinois Grazing Lands Coalition Provides Education for Ranchers

The Illinois Grazing Lands Coalition works among partners who prioritize grazing. 

 

Christian Lovell is the Coordinator for the IGLC. 

 

 

Lovell says that the IGLC wants to provide resources and education to farmers. 

 

 

He says that this is necessary because Illinois is a big state with grazing differences in different regions. 

 

 

Lovell invites ranchers to check out the IGLC. 

 

 

Lovell presented at the Dudley Smith Farm Field Day Winter Meeting last Tuesday.

IHSA Adopts Name, Image and Likeness Policy

The IHSA Board has approved a new policy that covers Name, Image & Likeness (NIL) rules.

 

 

IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson says the student-athlete may not engage in any NIL Activity associated with gaming/gambling, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, cannabis, banned or illegal substances, adult entertainment products or services, firearms, or other weapons.

Warner Hospital Foundation Hosting GloBingo; Health Fair Coming Back in Fall

An event that was a hit last year is returning and hosted by the Warner Hospital Foundation and the Hospital is bringing back an annual fall event.

 

Paul Skowron is the CEO of Warner Hospital in Clinton indicates the GloBingo event was held last spring but it was in Lincoln. While those that attended had a great time, the event shifts to Clinton this spring.

 

 

GloBingo comes on March 24 at the Georgia Jill in Clinton. Tickets are on sale and are available at warnerhospital.org. Skowron indicates the once-annual health fair is returning in September.

 

 

Skowron encourages following the Hospital on Facebook for more information on these events and much more at the Clinton facility. He again also notes the web address, warnerhospital.org. 

Weekly Weather Summary

Mild weather will return next week. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more...

 

 

Central Illinois Families to be Featured in 'We Are the 96' Ad During Super Bowl

Illinois viewers of this Sunday’s Super Bowl will learn that 96-percent of Illinois farms are owned by family farmers. It’s an ad campaign organized by the Illinois Farm Families coalition. Chad Bell—a Mercer County farmer will be featured in the Super Bowl Sunday ad airing on Illinois Fox affiliates during the first half of the big game.

 

 

The Illinois Farm Families coalition is supported by the Illinois Beef Association, IL Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program, and Midwest Dairy.

 

Six other farm families will appear in the commercial alongside the Bells: the Gould family, of Kane County; the Heap family, of Kendall County; the Noland family, of Macon County; the Sanderson family, of Dekalb County; the Marr family, of Morgan County; and the Kleinschmidt family, of Logan and Tazewell County.

Look Out for Romance Scams

Although Valentine's Day only comes once a year, there are scammers in cyberspace that are using the desire for a relationship to scam people 365 days a year. 

 

The Better Business Bureau warns that romance scammers use dating websites, apps, Facebook, and other social media. BBB Investigator Don O'Brien says they meet victims, interact with them, and quickly try to get them to move to a different form communication such as email or texting.

 

 

Criminals posing as potential romantic “matches” may lead victims on for a while, then suddenly claim they’ve got big medical bills, or some other emergency need for money.

City of Clinton Budget Process Underway; Commissioner Reminds of Brush Pickup Policy

It's budget time for the City of Clinton.

 

At the Tuesday night Clinton City Council meeting, Commissioner of Finance Tom Edmunds informed the Council City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter is beginning to put the budget together.

 

 

Commissioner of Streets Ken Buchanan is reminding the community of the City's brush pickup policy. Crews pause brush pickup after the leaf pickup season but if you leave out a biodegradable bag with your brush, crews can accept them.

 

 

Also at the Tuesday Council meeting, the Council approved support for a TIF district and a supplemental resolution for $1,000 from the 2022 motor fuel tax summer maintenance schedule.

Daytona 500 Fundraiser Benefitting Area Fire Departments Next Sunday

The annual Daytona 500 comes up next Sunday and DeWitt County fire departments are inviting the public for their biggest fundraiser of the year.

 

The Eagles in Clinton annually hosts the event for the fire departments across DeWitt County for the Daytona 500 fundraiser, this year on Sunday, Feb. 19. Wapella Fire Chief Ralph Smith indicates the fundraiser begins at noon and has silent auction items, food is served, and this year they are adding a reverse raffle.

 

 

Last year was a banner year for the fundraiser. For Wappella fire, they have purchased equipment with the funds raised and Chief Smith indicates they don't have anything earmarked for this year, simply because they just don't know what kind of money the event might bring in.

 

 

Mike Short with the Clinton Fire Department says it was nice to have the Daytona 500 fundraiser back last year, a banner year for the event. He indicates, like the other departments, the Clinton Fire Department uses the funds raised to improve its services through equipment upgrades and other improvements.

 

 

The event again is Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Clinton Eagles. Admission is free. Food can be purchased for a small cost. The veteran first responders say you do not have to be present to win any of the silent auction items and do not have to be a part of the event in its entirety. 

 

Find more information at the Facebook pages of the Clinton, Kenney, or Wapella Fire Departments. 

February is Heart Month

February is Heart Health Month.

 

Schools in central Illinois are taking the opportunity to promote heart health with its students and the University of Illinois Extension is doing the same by promoting healthy eating. On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Caitlin Mellendorf told Regional Radio, you want to be mindful of four things as you consume food.

 

 

Sodium can bring an individual's blood pressure up and fat can increase your cholesterol.

 

 

Fiber is a great way to move out cholesterol. Mellendorf says added sugars increase the likelihood of cardiovascular issues.

 

 

Mellendorf has plenty more on a healthy heart at extension.illinois.edu. 

Overwintering Insect Population

What does the mild winter mean for the overwintering insect population in Illinois? Here’s the reaction from State Ag Pest Survey Coordinator Kelly Estes.

 

 

You can follow Estes on Twitter at ILPestSurvey.

New Bill Filed Ensures DCFS Youth in Care Have Legal Representation

A BILL RECENTLY INTRODUCED IN THE ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY WOULD ENSURE CHILDREN IN THE STATE’S CARE HAVE LEGAL REPRESENTATION. 

 

THE LEGISLATION WAS FILED BY SENATOR ANN GILLESPIE OF ARLINGTON HEIGHTS WHO SAYS IT’S NEEDED TO HELP GUIDE KIDS THROUGH COMPLEX PROCEEDINGS.

 

 

SHE NOTES THIS HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE IN OTHER STATES.

 

 

GILLESPIE SAYS WITHOUT LEGAL COUNSEL, KIDS MAY NOT HAVE ANY SAY IN THEIR FUTURE

Illinois Seniors to Get Greater Discount on License Plate Stickers

Illinois Seniors are getting an even better discount on license plate stickers this year. Illinois residents over the age of 65 that meet specific income guidelines can get license plate stickers for only $10.00. Cassandra Schmoll is a Senior Advocate in Henry County and she talked about the income requirements for this discount.

 

 

If you're a senior looking to get this discount, contact your local senior center or your local DMV Office.

Illinois State Police Encourage Safely Watching Super Bowl

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS URGING THE PUBLIC TO CELEBRATE SUPER BOWL SUNDAY RESPONSIBLY. 

 

STATE AND LOCAL POLICE WILL BE OUT LOOKING FOR DRUNK DRIVERS WHO MAY HAVE PARTIED TOO HARD DURING THE BIG GAME. I-DOT SPOKESPERSON PAUL WAPPEL REMINDS THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPTIONS IF YOU HAVE BEEN DRINKING.

 

 

WAPPEL SAYS IF YOU’RE HOSTING A PARTY, IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO STOP SERVING DRINKS AFTER THE THIRD QUARTER AND BREAK OUT THE COFFEE.

 

 

I-DOT SAYS DESIGNATED DRIVERS SHOULD TAKE THEIR ROLES SERIOUSLY, AND NOT DRINK OR USE DRUGS DURING THE BIG GAME.

Illinois Pork Producers President Reflects on Time in Position

The outgoing president of the Illinois Pork Producers says the past year of service has been a great experience.

 

Thomas Titus, a pig farmer from Elkhart notes some highlights were the success of the Pork Patio at the Illinois State Fair and the “Pork Power” program exceeding a million pounds of donated pork.

 

 

Chad Leman is the new president of the Illinois Pork Producers.

Illinois Freedom Caucus Raises Concerns About High Energy Costs

THE ILLINOIS FREEDOM CAUCUS IS RAISING CONCERNS ABOUT RISING ENERGY PRICES. 

 

THE CAUCUS IS MADE UP OF A HANDFUL OF HOUSE REPUBLICANS. THEY HELD A PRESS CONFERENCE THIS WEEK, SAYING THEY ARE HEARING FROM ANGRY FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES. REPRESENTATIVE ADAM NIEMERG (knee-merg) OF DIETRICH:

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE BLAIN WILHOUR SAYS THEIR OFFICES ARE GETTING CALLS FROM PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES WHO SAY BILLS HAVE DOUBLED OR EVEN TRIPLED. HE POINTS TO A GROCERY STORE IN DOWNSTATE KINCAID THAT RECENTLY CLOSED BECAUSE OF ENERGY COSTS.

 

 

THE FREEDOM CAUCUS BLAMES NEW STATE CLEAN ENERGY INITIATIVES TO REDUCE RELIANCE ON NATURAL GAS, OIL AND COAL FOR THE PRICE HIKES. THEY SAY WIND AND SOLAR POWER ALONE WON’T PRODUCE ENOUGH POWER.

It's DARE Time at Clinton Elementary School

The fifth-grade students at Clinton Elementary School are going through the DARE program right now.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers told Regional Radio the annual program puts local police in the classrooms with all sorts of lessons.

 

 

DARE began in 1983 in Los Angeles and was brought to Clinton in the early 90s by now Sheriff Mike Walker. Chief Lowers says many adults now probably remember the messages geared towards avoiding drugs and alcohol but the program has evolved to meet the challenges kids today face.

 

 

Chief Lowers believes the program is valuable not only in the lessons that students are learning but also in the positive interactions they have with the students. He says it is beneficial to have law enforcement show kids they are people just like them.

 

 

Adding a wrinkle to this year's DARE program is School Resource Officer Mike Bennett is co-teaching his last DARE classes before he retires. Chief Lowers praises Officer Bennett's presence and chemistry with the kids.

 

 

The DARE program allows students the opportunity to ask questions anonymously that may be happening in the classroom or at home. 

Mowing Issues From Parks, Cemeteries Brought Up at Latest City Council Meeting

Before the Clinton City Council takes up four-year mowing agreements for its parks and cemeteries at its second February meeting, some issues need to be ironed out.

 

Commissioner of Public Safety Dan Ballenger Tuesday night noted they are going to be addressing issues regarding portions of work this past summer that was not done, particularly in ditches of the properties.

 

 

Council members wanted to make sure the contracts were clear on the obligations of whoever was awarded the contract.

 

 

Ballenger notes the south door of the fire station needs replacing and that will be voted on at the next Council meeting. 

Dudley Smith Farm Field Day Highlights Research

A major change has taken place to a key research project at the University of Illinois’ Dudley Smith Farm in southern Christian County.  Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more…

 

 

State of Illinois' COVID Disaster Declaration to End in May

The Governor has set an end to the state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration.

 

JB Pritzker says the state hasn’t had COVID mitigations that would impact people for more than a year - but the declaration needed to continue to run alongside a federal one to maximize the benefit for the state.

 

 

Both state and national declarations will end in May.

Illinois Pork Producers Part of Super Bowl Commercial

If you are watching the Super Bowl this weekend – and you pay attention to the commercials, you will see Illinois farmers making an appearance.

 

The “We are the 96” campaign launched by the Illinois Farm Families group will showcase farmers from around the state. Jennifer Tirey, Executive Director of the Illinois Pork Producers says the year of farmers is getting underway.

 

 

The Super Bowl is this Sunday and will be airing on FOX.

Tax Aid Back at Warner Library in Clinton

Tax aid is an annual program offered at the Warner Library in Clinton and appointment scheduling is underway.

 

It's a positive partnership between RSVP and the AARP Foundation. On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Business Manager of the library, Samantha Rusk told Regional Radio the program is typically geared towards those 55 years old and older, but they do open it up to anyone needing assistance with taxes.

 

 

Appointments began being scheduled a few weeks ago and they go quickly. Rusk encourages anyone interested to schedule an appointment now because, despite the program beginning Saturday, February is booked up and March is filling up quickly.

 

 

New this year, appointments can only be made in person, however, Rusk notes, if you cannot make it to the library, you can send someone on your behalf. The Warner Library is located at 310 North Quincy Street in Clinton. The library is open from 9 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday and 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday.

DeWitt County Development Council Zeroing In On County's Comprehensive Plan

The DeWitt County Development Council is looking to identify areas of focus within the DeWitt County comprehensive plan.

 

Executive Director Curt Homann indicates as they outline their plans for 2023, they are taking a deep dive into the County's comprehensive plan to find out how they can help move the County along and make it more attractive.

 

 

According to Homann, there are several pillars to the comprehensive plan for the County and he feels DCDC plays a big role in several of the pillars laid out in that plan.

 

 

 

 

Illinois has seen a population loss over the last several years and Homann says while that is unfortunate, some things can be done to support communities and continue to make them appealing.

 

 

Another interesting piece of information is supporting local food co-ops as a way to improve a community. Homann indicates that is something they began exploring last year, specifically for Farmer City, as it lacks a true grocery store option. 

Legislation Would Create State Child Tax Credit

NEW LEGISLATION CREATES A STATE CHILD TAX CREDIT. 

 

THE CREDIT WOULD TAKE THE PLACE OF THE FEDERAL VERSION THAT EXPIRED LAST YEAR, PROVIDING 700 DOLLARS PER CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF 17. SENATOR MIKE SIMMONS OF CHICAGO SAYS IT’S A FUNDAMENTAL WAY TO HELP STRUGGLING FAMILIES.

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE MARCUS EVANS OF CHICAGO SAYS THIS HAS PROVEN TO BE BENEFICIAL TO STRUGGLING FAMILIES.

 

 

UNDER THE BILL, PARENTS EARNING LESS THAN 75 THOUSAND DOLLARS JOINTLY WOULD BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CREDIT. SINGLE FILERS MUST MAKE LESS THAN 50 THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR.

Gov. Pritzker Addresses Bears to Arlington Heights

The Chicago Bears are exploring moving out of Chicago and their long time home at Solider Field. They could be coming to Arlington Heights and looking to build a new stadium.

 

Should that possible new stadium be built with tax breaks and do the Bears deserve taxpayer help to construct anything? Governor JB Pritzker says the state has other obligations first.

 

 

The Arlington Heights site is a former horse racing track.

February is Children's Dental Health Month

February is Children's Dental Health Month.

 

The more time children spend with their dental professionals, the more comfortable they are likely be when they visit. Director of Clinical Services at the McLean County Health Department Tami Brooks:

 

 

This year's theme for Children's Dental Health Month is Brush, Floss, and Smile. More information can be found at Health.McLeanCounty.com. 

Congressman LaHood Reacts to President Biden's State of the Union

Illinois Republican Cong. Darin LaHood doesn’t feel Pres. Biden was bipartisan in the State of the Union Address. He says it'll take a bipartisan approach to tackle inflation, face China, restore energy independence, and secure the border.

 

 

While Biden spoke about gasoline prices coming down, LaHood says Biden left out how electricity and natural gas prices are up and driving inflation. LaHood says the Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed under Pres. Trump did a lot to help people out of poverty and provided the largest economic growth in LaHood's lifetime.

DeWitt County Friendship Center Programming Taking Off

Programming at the DeWitt County Friendship Center is picking up in a big way as we get into 2023.

 

Executive Director Paula Jiles indicates in a few weeks, Ernie Harvey will be engaging seniors about topics important to them. These programs will on the third Monday of each month.

 

 

Congregate Peace Meal is back at the Friendship Center. Meals have been delivered to seniors for the last few years during COVID and Jiles says seniors are very happy to have the meals served at the Friendship Center Monday through Friday again.

 

 

Tuesday, Feb. 21 the diabetic shoe clinic returns this month at the Friendship Center. Jiles says this is a much-needed program that seniors utilized a lot before it went away during COVID.

 

 

Jiles says health checks have been back for a little while now but that is a great resource for seniors to stay on top of their health. She also anticipates the 'Rules of the Road' refresher course returning next month. 

 

Get more information about all the happenings at the DeWitt County Friendship Center by calling 217-935-9411. You can follow them on Facebook or stop in at 410 East Main Street. 

Spring Could Be 'Sloppy'

It could be a sloppy spring in central Illinois.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates an above-normal precipitation trend right through the spring will make things wet and could be challenging for producers to find opportunities to get the crop in the ground.

 

 

As the La Nina pattern that we've dealt with for the last three winters moves off, Shimon says we return to a neutral pattern. It will be several months before we see another El Nino or La Nina pattern re-develop.

 

 

Shimon indicates it's already been an interesting start to the meteorological year as we've seen temperatures below zero, tornadoes, high temperatures in the 60s, and a winter storm event roll through. 

Treasurer Frerichs Encourages Non-Profits to Apply for Grants Through Charitable Trust Program

ILLINOIS TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS IS URGING NON-PROFIT GROUPS TO APPLY FOR GRANTS THROUGH HIS OFFICE'S CHARITABLE TRUST PROGRAM. 

 

200-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN GRANT MONEY IS UP FOR GRABS DURING THIS INITIAL ROUND, AVAILABLE TO CERTAIN NON-PROFITS INCLUDING FOOD BANKS AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT GROUPS SAYS TREASURER FRERICHS.

 

 

THE MAXIMUM AWARD TO EACH ORGANIZATION IS 20-THOUSAND DOLLARS. 

 

 

APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED THROUGH MARCH 31ST. DETAILS ARE AVAILABLE AT: IL CHARITABLE TRUST DOT COM.

Illinois State Police Expands Crisis Intervention Training for All Officers

THE ILLINOIS STATE POLICE IS EXPANDING CRISIS INTERVENTION TRAINING FOR ALL OFFICERS.

 

LAW ENFORCEMENT IS OFTEN THE FIRST TO RESPOND TO SOMEONE IN A MENTAL HEALTH EMERGENCY, SO IT'S IMPORTANT THEY KNOW WHAT TO DO SAYS I-S-P MASTER SERGEANT JOEY WATSON.

 

 

WATSON SAYS THE 40-HOUR CRISIS INTERVENTION TEAM TRAINING INCLUDES THE SIGNS OF MENTAL ILLNESS, RESOURCES AVAILABLE, ROLE-PLAYING EXERCISES, AND DE-ESCALATION TECHNIQUES.

 

 

SO FAR, 51 STATE POLICE OFFICERS HAVE COMPLETED THE TRAINING AND 13 HAVE TAKEN ADDITIONAL CLASSES SO THEY CAN TEACH THE COURSE.

Warner Hospital Top Executive Hopes Emergency Room Expansion Will Be Complete This Year

The emergency room expansion at the Warner Hospital in Clinton has been in the works for some time now and the top executive is optimistic it could be complete by the end of the year.

 

Warner Hospital CEO Paul Skowron indicates the emergency room expansion is one of the top strategic priorities for the facility in the years ahead. 

 

 

According to Skowron, the size of the emergency room has been an issue and COVID only showed the need for its expansion. Having business offices moved out to the stand-alone building by KFC and McDonald's helped create space for what he describes as "expanding within".

 

 

Skowron indicates improvement in the availability of construction supplies as well as an easing of costs on the overall project is bringing the cost projection to around $ 1.5 million or $ 1.6 million.

 

 

When the project gets underway, there will be a challenge in ongoing construction while also continuing to maintain a high level of care for incoming patients. Skowron explains if this was a project that could not interrupt business, it would be much quicker, but because of that factor, it will take quite a bit more time.

 

 

The expansion of capacity in the ER will allow the city-owned facility to service more people and offer a more convenient outlet for care in central Illinois. 

Above-Normal Temperatures to Last Into Late February

An above-normal temperature trend is expected to last into mid-to-late February.

 

Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates the bitter cold of late last week has moved out and temperatures will be very mild for this time of the year for a couple of weeks, at least.

 

 

With the above-normal temperature signal in February is an above-normal precipitation signal.

 

 

Getting later into February, temperatures moderate on the outlooks and precipitation remains above normal. If we don't see wintry weather in February, Shimon notes it may be coming in March. 

As You File Your Taxes, Social Security Reminds to Not Forget Those Benefits

As you file those taxes this tax season, Social Security is sending out the reminder to keep in mind you might need to claim your benefits.

 

Jack Myers with Social Security explains whether or not you do depends on your combined income. Your combined income includes your adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest plus half of your Social Security benefits.

 

 

If you file your tax return as an individual, and your combined income  is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay federal income tax in up to 50% of your SS benefits, more than $34,000 up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable. If you file a joint return and your combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay federal income tax on up to 50% of your SS benefits, more than $44,000, up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable. 

 

 

If you received SS benefits in 2022, you should have gotten an SSA-1099 in January. If you’ve misplaced it, or don’t recall getting it, starting February 1st, you can get a replacement through your mySocialSecurity account www..ssa.gov/myaccount. Myers indicates  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are not taxable, so you won’t get an SSA-1099 if you only received SSI in 2022. 

 

 

Federal tax withholding from Social Security benefits is voluntary. You can request it by completing a form W-4V which is available in the forms section of our website www.ssa.gov/forms.

Sen. Durbin Discusses Classified Documents Issue

Illinois' Senior Senator is confused about why so many politicians are alleged to have classified documents in their private residences.

 

In a search last year, the F-B-I allegedly found classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the residence of former President Trump. Then, authorities allegedly found documents in former Vice President Mike Pence's and President Biden's homes. Here's Democratic Whip Dick Durbin...

 

 

As part of a probe into President Biden, F-B-I agents searched Biden's Rehoboth Beach Home earlier this week but came up empty-handed.

Sen. Duckworth Supports Expanding FMLA

Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth says passing the Family Medical Leave Act was a huge step forward 30 years ago, but it didn't go far enough. 

 

She and other federal lawmakers are introducing measures to expand coverage to tens of millions of people who currently don't get paid leave to take care of family members having children or facing serious illnesses or injuries. Duckworth says school employees who take care of other people's children can't take time off to care for their own. And her husband lost his job after he took 12 weeks of unpaid leave to be with her when she was injured on military duty in Iraq.

 

 

Other lawmakers from Illinois supporting the FMLA expansions include Cong. Sean Casten and Cong. Lauren Underwood.

Police Recruits Now Have to Take Course on Wrongful Convictions

AS OF THIS YEAR, ALL POLICE RECRUITS IN ILLINOIS WILL HAVE TO TAKE A COURSE ON AVOIDING WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS.

 

THIS IS A NEW REQUIREMENT BUT WAS DEVELOPED SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND USED BY MIKE SCHLOSSER, DIRECTOR OF THE POLICE TRAINING INSTITUTE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS. THE COURSE FOCUSES ON THE IMPORTANCE OF CAREFULLY GATHERING AND ANALYZING EVIDENCE AND NOT JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS ABOUT CERTAIN SUBJECTS.

 

 

HE SAYS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COURSE IS HEARING FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN EXONERATED.

 

 

IT’S NOW MANDATORY FOR ALL CADETS.

January Likely Sixth-Warmest on Record in Illinois

ACCORDING TO PRELIMINARY NUMBERS, LAST MONTH WAS THE SIXTH WARMEST JANUARY ON RECORD IN ILLINOIS. 

 

THIS YEAR GOT OFF TO A MILD START, WITH TEMPERATURES ABOUT SEVEN DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL SAYS STATE CLIMATOLOGIST TRENT FORD.

 

 

FORD SAYS OVERALL, PRECIPITATION WAS A LITTLE ABOVE AVERAGE AS WELL.

 

 

FORD SAYS THAT’S GOOD NEWS AND ACCORDING TO THE U-S DROUGHT MONITOR, LEAVES ONLY A FEW SPOTS AROUND THE STATE WITH ABNORMALLY DRY CONDITIONS. 

 

FORD SAYS THE OUTLOOK FOR THIS MONTH LEANS TOWARDS CONTINUED WARMER AND WETTER THAN NORMAL CONDITIONS.

DCFS Offering Scholarships to Current, Former Youth in Care

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS URGING CURRENT AND FORMER YOUTH IN CARE TO APPLY FOR ONE OF AT LEAST 53 COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS. 

 

ON AVERAGE, D-C-F-S RECEIVES ABOUT 200 APPLICATIONS FOR THE SCHOLARSHIPS EACH YEAR. THE AWARD IS QUITE COMPREHENSIVE SAYS SPOKESPERSON DEBORAH LOPEZ.

 

 

 LOPEZ SAYS IT’S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

 

 

FOUR OF THE SCHOLARSHIPS ARE RESERVED FOR THE CHILDREN OF VETERANS. THE DEADLINE TO APPLY IS MARCH 31ST. THOSE INTERESTED CAN LEARN MORE ON THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICE’S WEBSITE.

Congressman LaHood Meets With Truck Driving Industry

Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood speaking on trucking-related issues at the Mid-West Truck & Trailer Show over the weekend in Peoria.

 

 

The Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show is hosted by the Springfield, Illinois based Mid-West Truckers Association

DeWitt County Soil and Water Conservation District Annual Meeting Set for Feb. 17

The DeWitt County Soil & Water Conservation District’s 79th Annual Meeting & Celebration has been set for Friday, February 17, 2023, at The Georgia Jill, in Clinton.  


Registration will begin at 7:30 AM, with a buffet breakfast, served at 8:00 A.M.  

 

“The SharkFarmer” Rob Sharkey will be this year's keynote speaker. Sharkey is unwavering in his ability to directly address controversial topics, ask tough questions, and get to the heart of an issue. His authentic interview style that comes from the idea that everyone has an important story to share has resonated with hundreds of thousands of weekly global listeners. Resource Conservationist at the SWCD, Shelley Finfrock says Sharkey has a wildly successful SharkFarmer TV show on RFDTV with 6 seasons and counting and a second TV show on WTVP PBS called “A shot of Ag.”  He is on SIRIUS XM Radio, where he has a daily show and “SharkFarmer Weekend Edition” on Saturdays.  

 

 

A short business meeting will be held.  Two persons will be elected for a two-year term as    members of the Board of Directors. 

 

There is no charge for attendance; although donations will be accepted at the door to help support the SWCD annual college scholarship fund. 

 

Seating is limited so an RSVP is encouraged. Contact the District by phone at 217-935-2181, ext. 3, by Friday, February 10, 2023 to make reservations.  

National Weather Service in Lincoln: Everyday in January Registered as 'Mostly Cloudy'

If you feel like you didn't see the sun at all in January, that's likely because you probably didn't.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln told Regional Radio, every day in January was categorized as 'mostly cloudy'.

 

 

Between each January day with a 'mostly cloudy' designation, tornadoes, snowfall, and wide-ranging temperatures, Shimon says January had it all from a weather perspective. 

DCEO Celebrates Black History Month by Launching Webpage Featuring Events, Resources

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY IS CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH WITH A NEW WEBSITE FEATURING EVENTS AND RESOURCES. 

 

THE AGENCY IS RECOGNIZING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF BLACK LEADERS AND ENTREPRENEURS AND HOPES TO INSPIRE A NEW GENERATION OF BUSINESS OWNERS SAYS AFRICAN AMERICAN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER MATTHEW SIMPSON

 

 

SIMPSON SAYS THAT’S SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE AND READ ABOUT ON THE WEBSITE.

 

 

THE ONE-STOP-SHOP WEBSITE LISTS SPECIAL STATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS, OFFERS A SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLKIT AND DIRECTS POTENTIAL ENTREPRENEURS TO AVAILABLE RESOURCES. YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT ONLINE AT: DCEO DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV AND CLICK ON "BLACK HISTORY MONTH."

Weekly Weather Summary

A mid-week warmup quickly reverted back to normal February cold. State Climatologist Trent Ford has more in this week's weather summary.

 

 

DOVE Offers Encouragement to Domestic Violence Seeking to Escape Abusers

Victims of domestic violence often face a long road to not just recovery from the trauma brought by their abusers, but a long journey to simply escaping their abuser's grasp.

 

DOVE advocates say it can take on average seven tries for a victim to escape their abusers. Jennifer Tolladay with DeWitt County DOVE says in rural areas there can be a lack of resources for victims. Andrea Kocher with Piatt County DOVE indicates they often see a lot of victims tied financially to their abusers.

 

 

DOVE and domestic violence agencies like theirs encourage victims to make a plan. Tolladay says a starting place is to have contacts you can reach in times of trouble and try to have safe words to indicate distress. Kocher says a lot of victims think an order of protection is all they have to do and sometimes that isn't the case.

 

 

When it comes to leaving, Tolladay says just like the abuser knows you as well as you know yourself, you know your abuser that same way. She implores leave at a time that gives you the most time to get out. Kocher notes you might consider finding a safe place your abuse doesn't know about. 

 

 

Kocher and Tolladay see a lot of coworkers of victims bringing them in for services and unsurprisingly, the workplace can be a safe place, especially if the abuse has caused a scene in that environment. 

 

Doveinc.org has more resources for victims in central Illinois. 

Atlanta Tourism Director Uncovers Unique Facts About Well-Known Bunyon Statue While Refreshing Tourism Information

The slow tourism winter months allow area executives to take up research and plan ahead.

 

For Whitney Ortiz, the Director of the Atlanta, Illinois Tourism Bureau, her research this winter led her into the history of the community's well-known Paul Bunyon hot dog statue and its origins.

 

 

After 36 years in Cicero, the Bunyon statue came to Atlanta when its owner sold it and the property he was located at. Ortiz explains the new owner did not find the Bunyon statue appealing and that's when he trekked down Route 66 to his new home in Atlanta.

 

 

Before Bunyon arrived in Atlanta, tourism had started to drop off. Ortiz indicates his arrival in Atlanta led to a resurgence of interest in tourists as Bunyon joined a prestige group of must-see "giants" across the country for tourists. 

 

 

Paul Bunyon didn't always have the shrubbery behind him. When he arrived in the early 2000s, a City Council member decided he needed more landscaping around him and sought out trees to grow and those trees have grown up in the two-plus decades of his presence. 

One More Push for Census of Agriculture

One final push to finish the Census of Agriculture. State Statitcian Mark Schleusener is with USDA Nass.

 

 

More information at agcounts.usda.gov.

Warner Hospital CEO Says This Winter is Returning to Normal

Warner Hospital CEO Paul Skowron says this winter is returning to normal at the facility in Clinton.

 

On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Skowron told Regional Radio, coming out of COVID, things are getting back to normal with regular seasonal ailments being reported this winter and less COVID.

 

 

The facility in Clinton recently welcomed a new doctor to the staff and while the COVID situation stabilizes normally, having a second doctor will allow for more flexibility in times of sickness among the staff.

 

 

President Joe Biden announced this week the Public Health emergency goes away in May and Skowron says hospitals are looking into that now and what it means for the public. Beyond that, there are implications of services that could be in jeopardy with this declaration.

 

 

A normal winter can also include impacts from weather events that may prevent staff from getting to the facility. Skowron is thankful those have been limited to this point and hopes it stays that way the rest of the winter.

Exercise and Avoiding Empty Calories

Getting good exercise and avoiding empty calories can be keys to excellent health in 2023.

 

Monica Nyman with the St. Louis District Dairy Council indicates getting exercise is one key factor to a healthy lifestyle. She recommends family outings that involve physical activity like hiking or swimming.

 

 

When it comes to our diets, a very simple thing we can incorporate daily is reducing empty calories. Nyman encourages eating slowly when we do eat which will help us also reduce how much we're taking in.

 

 

Nyman points anyone wanting more nutrition information or further tips on a healthy lifestyle to visit stldairycouncil.org or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Blue Ridge Looking to Revamp Summer School

During the winter months, many turn their minds toward the summer months and school administration is no different.

 

Dr. Hilary Stanifer, Blue Ridge schools superintendent, notes summer school was started a couple of years ago to help students who had fallen behind due to online learning and the COVID pandemic. She says she has been talking to the administration and teachers to see if summer school was something worthwhile to continue.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer indicates the district is looking to implement a new summer school curriculum that has the potential to be more flexible. Work could be completed independently by the student and then reviewed by the teacher.

 

Summer school would potentially be held a few weeks before the start of the new school year with an emphasis placed on core concepts students need to strengthen before starting the next grade level.

 

 

Dr. Stanifer hopes to have a decision on summer school finalized within the next month.

Sen. Turner Offers Thoughts on the Future of Sex Ed Mandate

Recently on Regional Radio, we've heard from area superintendents on their thoughts about the sex ed mandate not being taken up for a vote in the lame duck session. Today we'll hear from a state lawmaker and her thoughts on the future of the bill.

 

State Senator Sally Turner reminds us that the curriculum was passed last year and over seventy percent of school districts in Illinois decided to opt out of the curriculum. The mandate was a way for progressive Democrats to push their agenda.

 

 

Sen. Turner applauds the religious community for lobbying and protesting the mandate due to the graphic nature of the curriculum. She believes the bill will not be called for a vote in the new legislative session due to the pushback from Democrats at the committee level.

 

 

The purpose of the mandate Sen. Turner believes is because some lawmakers felt not enough schools were using the curriculum. She notes in her previous district only one school chose to use portions of it.

 

 

Area superintendents were glad to see the mandate not be voted on in the lame duck session, but many did not share the same sentiment regarding the mandate's future as Sen. Turner does.

U of I Extension Nutritionist Offers Baby Feeding Advice

If you are the parent of a picky eater or have questions about what to feed a newborn the U of I Extension encourages you to check out one of their websites.

 

Caitlin Mellendorf, U of I Extension Nutrition Educator for DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties, indicates Feeding My Baby is a website launched a few years ago by a fellow Extension Nutrition Educator. The website offers recipes for homemade baby food as well as research on baby-led weaning.

 

 

Mellendorf says baby-led weaning is best started when your baby is ready to start eating solid food. She gives an example of how you might introduce food to your baby.

 

 

Six months is generally when babies are ready to transition from formula and breastmilk to solid food. Mellendorf notes every baby is different with some ready before or after six months. She says there are signs to be on the lookout for to know your baby is ready.

 

 

If you are worried about your baby or child not eating or are an extremely picky eater, Mellendorf recommends consulting a pediatric nutritionist or a feeding therapist.

 

 

The website blog, Feeding My Baby from Cradle to Table, can be accessed by going to feedingmybaby.extension.illinois.edu.

State Fair Grandstand Lineup Announced

The Illinois State Fair has started to reveal grandstand acts this summer, Rebecca Clark the State Fair Manager says its going to be a big act.

 

 

Tickets aren’t on sale yet but the fair says they will be up for sale in the Spring.

It Is Identify Theft Awareness Week

THIS IS IDENTITY THEFT AWARENESS WEEK AND ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL KWAME RAOUL’S OFFICE HAS SOME TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF. 

 

IDENTITY THEFT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE, SO IT’S IMPORTANT TO SAFEGUARD YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION SAYS SUSAN ELLIS, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S CONSUMER PROTECTION HEAD. THAT MEANS NOT USING PUBLIC WI-FI TO SHOP ONLINE OR CONDUCT BANKING, SETTING UP SEPARATE USERNAMES AND PASSWORDS FOR DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS, AND BEING CAREFUL WITH YOUR MAIL. EVEN JUNK MAIL.

 

 

SHE ALSO RECOMMENDS CHECKING YOUR BANK STATEMENTS AND CREDIT REPORT FOR ANY UNUSUAL ACTIVITY.

 

 

ELLIS SAYS IF YOU DO BECOME A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT YOU CAN FILE A COMPLIANT ONLINE AT: ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL DOT GOV.

 

ELLIS SAYS YOU SHOULD ALSO THINK ABOUT CREATING A TWO-STEP AUTHENTICATOR ON APPS LIKE PAY PAL AND VENMO.

Friday is 'Go Red Day'

Friday is Go Red Day and OSF Healthcare Locations across the state of Illinois, among other healthcare organizations, will celebrate by wearing red to call attention to Heart Health. Connie Wessells is a Registered Nurse with OSF Healthcare in Central Illinois and she explains that the GO in Go Red is actually an important acronym for heart health...

 

 

It's not only healthcare workers who are invited to celebrate wear red day, everyone is invited to wear red on Friday, February 3rd, 2023, to call attention to Heart Health. February is Heart Health Month nationwide.

Illinois House Republicans Call for Transparent, Bipartisan Budget Process

REPUBLICANS IN THE ILLINOIS HOUSE ARE PROPOSING REFORMS TO THE STATE BUDGET-MAKING PROCESS. 

 

THE G-O-P SAYS THEY WANT TO BE INCLUDED IN DRAFTING A BUDGET FOR THE NEW FISCAL YEAR AND WILL FOCUS ON CREATING JOBS, TAX POLICY REFORMS AND MORE. HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER TONY MCCOMBIE SAYS NEGOTIATIONS NEED TO BE TRANSPARENT.

 

 

SHE’S APPOINTED MACOMB REPRESENTATIVE NORINE HAMMOND TO THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN BUDGET TEAM. THEIR REFORMS INCLUDE:

 

 

G-O-P LAWMAKERS ARE ALSO CALLING FOR MORE BUDGET HEARINGS THAT INCLUDE INPUT FROM THE MINORITY PARTY AND THE PUBLIC.

Ameren Explains Rate Request

Ameren Illinois has filed paperwork with the Illinois Commerce Commission seeking a rate adjustment that would increase the average household bill be about $6 per month on the electric side of the business, and just slightly more than that for natural gas. 

 

Specifically, the utility is asking for about $160 million on the natural gas side of the company and about $435.6 million over four years for electric. Ameren Illinois spokesman Tucker Kennedy explains...

 

 

The estimated cost to electric consumers is based on a monthly usage of about 10,000 kW, while the natural gas estimate of $6,68 per month is based on monthly usage of about 745 therms.

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