Local News

New Updates to Tax Filing in Illinois Next Year

The Illinois Department of Revenue is working on tips and changes for Illinoisans who will be filing taxes in 2023.  IDOR Director David Harris says with the 2023 tax filing season around the corner, the hope is to prepare taxpayers to have the necessary documents available and to electric file if at all possible. 


When gathering documents for tax filing, make sure to have your adjusted gross income from 2022 on the IL-1040, a copy of your federal income tax return and schedules, a copy of all W-2s and 1099 forms, a property number and amount of taxes paid if claiming a property tax credit, voluntary emergency worker credit certificate, receipts for qualified education or moving expenses, and your routing and account number. 


Taxpayers may be able to reduce the amount of taxes owed through tax credits like the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit, the Illinois K-12 Education Expense Credit, and the Property Tax Credit. The Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC has been increased to 20% of the federal EITC.  The Volunteer Emergency Worker Credit is a $500 non-refundable tax credit for volunteer fire emergency workers. 


MyTax Illinois is the IDOR’s free online account management program. You can also utilize Where’s My Refund.  The information available includes IL-PINs, amounts of any estimated tax payments made, amounts reported on Form 1099-G, tax-prep software, tax professional, or even the paper form for IL-1040.


Taxpayers are encouraged to file electronically as early as possible.  If taxpayers electronically file an error-free return, they should receive a direct deposit refund in around four weeks. IDOR is continuing its efforts to work on expediting the process, along with increasing and enhancing efforts to protect taxpayers from identity theft and tax fraud. 


If you need more time, the state of Illinois does grant an automatic six-month extension to file an IL-1040 each year, but taxpayers must still pay any money owed on their returns by April 15th, 2024, to avoid penalties and interest.  Find out more at MyTax Illinois.  


Some changes this year include changing the 2023 personal exemption amount to $2,425.  The original due date for filing the 2023 Form IL-1040 and paying the 2023 individual income tax liability is April 15th, 2024, and the extended due date for filing a return is October 15th, 2024. Find out more information by calling 1-800-732-8866 or 217-782-3336.  You may also visit tax.illinois.gov.  

Paid Leave for All Workers Act Takes Effect Jan. 1

Workers in Illinois will begin earning paid time off on January 1, 2024.


The new law allows workers to earn up to 40 hours of paid leave in a 12-month period. Workers will accrue one hour of leave for every 40 hours worked.


Governor JB Pritzker signed the landmark legislation in March, making Illinois the third state in the nation and first in the Midwest to mandate paid leave for any reason.


Starting on March 31st, 2024, or 90 days following commencement of employment, workers can begin using their earned time off for any reason without the requirement of providing documentation to their employer under the Paid Leave for Workers Act.


Workers will be paid their full wage while on leave and tipped workers will be paid the minimum wage in their respective locale. An employer cannot require an employee to find their replacement for the leave.


This law applies to every employee working for an employer in Illinois, including domestic workers, but does exclude certain categories of workers that are not subject to the law.

State Police, Illinois Department of Transportation

As 2023 comes to a close, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and nearly 200 law enforcement agencies across the state are reminding the public they'll be working overtime now through the beginning of the new year in an effort to keep roads safe for everyone.


This final statewide enforcement push of 2023 has one goal – to save lives. During these last days of the year, additional law enforcement will be patrolling for impaired driving, seat belt, speeding, distracted driving and other traffic laws. Through Dec. 14 of this year, 1,213 people have lost their lives in fatal crashes, which is 11 more than during the same period in 2022.


Authorities recommend plan ahead. If you know you’ll be attending a party or going out and you plan to drink or use cannabis or any impairing drugs or substances this New Year’s Eve, plan for a sober driver to take you home.

Look to public transportation, your community’s sober ride program, cabs or your favorite ride-sharing app.


If you see a friend or family member who is about to drive impaired, take the keys away and plan to get them home safely.


The heightened law enforcement is made possible through federal funds administered by IDOT and coincides with the comprehensive multimedia campaign “It’s Not a Game.”

WEZC 95.9 Airing Annual "Budweiser New Year's Party" Sunday Night Into New Year's Morning

Miller Media Group radio stations WRAN groovy 97.3 in Taylorville and WEZC “Your EASY Choice!” 95.9 FM in Clinton, will simulcast the 26th annual Budweiser New Year’s Party, from 9pm New Year’s Eve, until 1:00am New Year’s Day.


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


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


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


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

Keeping Kids Well Rested

A sleep specialist with OSF HealthCare says keeping track of your child’s sleep schedule is important during the holiday break when the extended break from schoolwork and classroom schedules can lead to later nights. 

A recent survey found that 30% of elementary school children and well over 50% of both middle and high schoolers don’t get the recommended nightly allowance of sleep. Dr. Kaninika Verma, director of Sleep Medicine for OSF HealthCare, says more screen time is associated with delayed bed time, and recommends shutting down electronics two hours before it’s time to turn in.



She says kids actually have longer sleep requirements. Babies are going to sleep from eighteen to twenty hours. Toddlers are going to sleep up to twelve hours, and school aged kids are going to need anywhere from nine and a half to ten and a half hours of sleep – up to eleven.

Rural Specialty General Store Benefitting from Local Causes

A specialty general store in rural Scott County recently made a major donation to a Winchester High School industrial arts class.


The Witty Farmer's Grab 'n' Grow Greenhouse Store features locally sourced beef, pork, milk, and produce from specialty growers in West Central Illinois, as well as locally made coffee, fresh pressed juice and a host of other products by local makers. Store owner and operator of Sauer Farms, Jenny Schmigdall says that the store collects donations throughout the year to donate to a local cause.


Schmigdall says that the regional Milwaukee Tools representative contacted them this week, and the company will also be providing a donation to the high school's automotive class.


Last year's donation campaign proceeds were donated to the Winchester American Legion to benefit local veterans in need. Schmigdall says that next year's proceeds are going to help the Scott County Sheriff's Department to assist them with small equipment needs. 

Illinois Farm Bureau Having Succes with Allies in Ag Program

Half of Illinois counties supporting a pro-ag resolution. It’s an effort of Illinois Farm Bureau’s Allies in Agriculture program says IFB Associate Director of Local Government and Political Engagement Ryan Whitehouse.



You can find an interactive map with the Allies in Agriculture program at ilfb.org.

Clinton School Board Hears on 'Multi-Tiered System of Support'

At its monthly meeting earlier this month, the Clinton Board of Education heard about efforts the district is taking to enhance its early childhood education program.


Clinton Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles explains they want children with special needs to be mingling with kids in the regular programs, something that has changed recently. 


According to Nettles, the goal is to have students who are entering kindergarten as prepared and ready socially and academically as possible to hit the ground running.



The expansion of the Pre-K program in recent years has allowed more kids in the community to get into the public school pre-K program. As pre-K-aged students get screened, Nettles notes they are going to start screening kindergarten-aged students as well. 

Clinton Chamber of Commerce Readies for New Year of Events

As we turn the page on 2023, the Clinton Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for another year of events and activities for the community.


Janice Peterson is the Executive Director of the Chamber and for her, it will be her second time around for most of these events. It all starts with the Chamber's annual dinner in early February.



Once the Chamber annual dinner wraps up, planning begins for the annual Business Expo at the end of March and Peterson says you could see some minor tweaks to the annual event this year.



Peterson is looking forward to another May Days Festival as well. She indicates the carnival is already lined up and they will get to work soon on getting everything surrounding the festival set up.



Visit clintonilchamber.com for a calendar of all the upcoming events in 2024. Also be sure to follow the Clinton, Illinois Chamber of Commerce Facebook page for the latest information on its events and updates. 

El Nino Grip on Midwest to Lessen As We Go Through the Winter

The midwest is in the middle of an overall strong El Nino and this is the peak of its grip.


Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln tells Regional Radio thanks to recent rains, the drought throughout the State is easing.



Looking to January, there are equal chances of above or below-normal precipitation and Shimon indicates temperatures are trending above normal all the way through to February.



As we get closer to the spring and then definitely by the summer, Shimon says El Nino should loosen its grip on the midwest and we return to mostly normal conditions.



Shimon reminds, we still anticipate having a couple of snow events still this winter. He explains an above-normal temperature signal doesn't eliminate the possibility of snow for the winter season. 

Route 66 showcased in Rose Bowl Parade--Dec. 28

Illinois will be featured in a New Year’s staple as Route 66 and attractions from Chicago to Collinsville will be set in floral arrangements and showcased in the Rose Parade.


Amy Beadle, Marketing Manager with Visit Springfield says the float will have lots of notable features set along the 301 miles that Rt 66 runs in the state.





The Chicago based acapella group – Straight No Chaser will be on the float and singing along the five and half mile parade route.

Mega passes for Illinois State Fair on sale at discounted rate through end of year--Dec. 28

The end of the year brings one last chance at a big deal for lots of fun at the Illinois State Fair. Mega passes are selling at a discount prior to New Year’ Day. The pass can still be had for a discount says State Fair Manager Rebecca Clark.



The “jumbo” pass includes all the trips you can make on the Sky Glide and the Giant Slide and its’ $80. The passes can be bought on the state fair’s website.

Clinton Police Chief Talks New Year's Eve Safety

The New Year's holiday has become one of the deadliest holidays in the country as people ring the new year with celebrations that last through the night.


It's why more people are killed on the roadways that night than any other says Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers who is encouraging anyone celebrating outside the comforts of their own home to do so safely.



The overnight parking ban in Clinton will not be enforced but Chief Lowers hopes if you know someone who is impaired and insists on getting behind the wheel to reach out to authorities to talk some sense into that individual and prevent anything serious from happening.



Chief Lowers reminds the non-emergency line at the Clinton Police Department is 217-935-9441. 

Illinois Farm Bureau Having Succes with Allies in Ag Program

Half of Illinois counties support a pro-ag resolution. It’s an effort of Illinois Farm Bureau’s Allies in Agriculture program says IFB Associate Director of Local Government and Political Engagement Ryan Whitehouse.



You can find an interactive map with the Allies in Agriculture program at ilfb.org.

IAA Foundation Continues to Have Impact

Whether it be supporting Ag in the Classroom or scholarships for ag students, the IAA Foundation is looking for another impactful year.



The IAA Foundation’s Susan Moore says you can learn more at iaafoundation.org.

Eagle Viewing at Starved Rock State Park with the Macon County Conservation District

The Macon County Conservation District has announced their yearly trip to Starved Rock State Park on Saturday, January 20th, 2024. 


Program Specialist Brock Rowland says that this trip is designated for eagle viewing, as Starved Rock State Park plays host to many of these majestic birds. The topography of Starved Rock and food sources make for the perfect habitat for the eagle species. Rowland says some years the group will view over 20 eagles.



The journey to Starved Rock is $30 per person and the Macon County Conservation District urges attendees to dress for the elements.



Registration and information about the Starved Rock Eagle Viewing opportunity can be found at www.maconcountyconservation.org/events/trip-to-starved-rock. 


Registration is due one day before departure, Friday, January 19th, 2024.

Monticello High School Holiday Hoopla Tips Off Today

Three straight days of nothing but basketball will consume Monticello schools this week.


The annual 'Holiday Hoopla' basketball tournament welcomes in nearly a dozen basketball teams from across central Illinois for boy's and girl's round-robin basketball. Monticello Schools Superintendent Adam Clapp says it is a herculean effort to make the Hoopla happen.



The Hoopla has seen an added dimension in the last few years with the addition of the use of the new Sievers Center. Clapp believes the new facility has allowed for the tournament to be run even smoother than before.



Clapp mentioned the volunteers it takes to run the Hoopla. He explains the volunteers come from various sports programs across the High School and the overall proceeds go to benefit the Monticello Athletic Booster Club.



Hear Monticello Sages boy's basketball Holiday Hoopla action throughout the week on 95.9 FM WEZC and at dewittdailynew.com.


Tuesday there will be a special split simulcast broadcast as Monticello takes on Clinton at 3:30 pm. Hear the action WEZC, on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW and at dewittdailynews.com. 


Then tune in to WHOW for the Clinton boy's placement game on WHOW. The Maroons have an excellent chance to be playing for the tournament's championship this week. Keep it to Regional Radio for all the recaps of their games and when they play on Thursday of the tournament. 

Springfield Clinic, Blue Cross Blue Shield Reach Agreement

Regional Radio News has learned Springfield Clinic and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois have agreed to a new five-year agreement that will allow patient members to return to in-network status at Springfield Clinic beginning on Jan. 1, 2024.   


The announcement was made by Springfield Clinic last week.


Patients who want to establish in-network care should call Springfield Clinic during normal business hours, after Dec. 26.


Springfield Clinic became an out-of-network provider for those insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois in the past 2 years when the 2 sides could not come to an agreement.


Springfield Clinic operates clinics in many Regional Radio communities. 

More Scam Awareness from Social Security

We talk about this quite regularly, but Social Security imposter scams continue to be widespread across the U.S. Scammers use sophisticated tactics to deceive you into providing sensitive information or money and Jack Myers has some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim.


Myers stresses Social Security will never text or e-mail images of an employee’s official government identification, suspend your Social Security number or threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or fee. 



Social Security will also never require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or cash. Nor will they promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment. Myers adds they only send text messages if you have opted in to receive tests from them and only in limited situations.



If you suspect SSA imposter scams or other Social Security fraud, Myers encourages you to report it to OIG’s website at oig.ssa.gov/report. You can also find more info about scams at www.ssa.gov/scams.

St. Louis District Dairy Council Offers Encouragement for Being Healthy During the Holidays

The holidays may be wrapped up but people will still be looking to enjoy themselves during the upcoming New Year's celebration and a health and nutrition expert hopes the holiday season hasn't left you discouraged.


Monica Nyman is a dietician with the St. Louis District Dairy Council and offers encouragement if your health and nutrition have gone off course this holiday season. She says one thing you can do is be mindful of what may be coming up in your eating schedule.



As you meal plan, keep in mind you need to find protein in your meals and Nyman reminds dairy is a great source of protein.



Nyman also encourages being active and finding a buddy to do that with - she indicates if you have someone who is going to keep you accountable, that is a great way to be consistent.


She also encourages practicing self-care and being there for yourself and being positive while you do that. 

Minimum Wage Increases Again on Jan. 1

The minimum wage is increasing in Illinois on January 1st in 2024.  
Workers will see an increase of $1/hr from $13 to $14.  The minimum wage for tipped workers will jump to $8.40/hr and youth workers working fewer than 650 hours per calendar year will see their hourly wage increase to $12/hr.


Governor JB Pritzker says that he has made it his mission to put Springfield back on the side of working families and with a minimum wage increase, Illinois is becoming a more affordable and equitable place to live for everyone.


Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton echoed Governor Pritzker’s statement saying that Illinois is continuing to strengthen its workforce and sustain it by increasing minimum wage.  


This is the sixth increase in the state’s minimum wage since 2019 when Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation establishing a schedule of increases culminating in $15/hr by 2025. 

New COVID Variant Hasn't Impacted Illinois

Portions of the East and West Coast have seen a modest spike in a new COVID-19 variant called JN.1. But thus far, the new variant hasn't had much impact in Illinois. RaeAnn Tucker from the Henry and Stark County Health Department says the State of Illinois has not handed down new guidance related to the new variant.



The biggest concern is a rise in hospitalizations. Thus far hospitalizations have not spiked so concern is low.

Rural Specialty General Store Benefitting from Local Causes

A specialty general store in rural Scott County recently made a major donation to a Winchester High School industrial arts class.


The Witty Farmer's Grab 'n' Grow Greenhouse Store features locally sourced beef, pork, milk, and produce from specialty growers in West Central Illinois, as well as locally made coffee, fresh pressed juice and a host of other products by local makers. Store owner and operator of Sauer Farms, Jenny Schmigdall (SH-MIG-DOLL) says that the store collects donations throughout the year to donate to a local cause.



Schmigdall says that the regional Milwaukee Tools representative contacted them this week, and the company will also be providing a donation to the high school's automotive class.


Last year's donation campaign proceeds were donated to the Winchester American Legion to benefit local veterans in need. Schmigdall says that next year's proceeds are going to help the Scott County Sheriff's Department to assist them with small equipment needs. 

Keeping Kids Well Rested

A sleep specialist with OSF HealthCare says keeping track of your child’s sleep schedule is important during the holiday break when the extended break from schoolwork and classroom schedules can lead to later nights. 

A recent survey found that 30% of elementary school children and well over 50% of both middle and high schoolers don’t get the recommended nightly allowance of sleep. Dr. Kaninika Verma, director of Sleep Medicine for OSF HealthCare, says more screen time is associated with delayed bedtime, and recommends shutting down electronics two hours before it’s time to turn in.



She says kids actually have longer sleep requirements. Babies are going to sleep from eighteen to twenty hours. Toddlers are going to sleep up to twelve hours, and school aged kids are going to need anywhere from nine and a half to ten and a half hours of sleep – up to eleven.

Ameren Promoting Smart Thermostats

Ameren is making a final push to get more people to get a free Google Nest Thermostat. The wi-fi connected thermostats are being given away to customers for free, says Stephanie Robinson with Ameren Illinois...



The advantage of having a Google Nest Thermostat is that it allows users to adjust their heating and cooling at their home via their Smartphone. This allows customers to regulate the heating and cooling of their home from anywhere where they are connected to wi-fi. Having this much control over your thermostat will provide Ameren customers the chance to adjust heating and cooling to maximize savings.

White Christmases for Central Illinois, Few and Far Between

It's not a message he delivers with much excitement.


After all - Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln is a cheese-head through and through and is used to white Christmases being commonplace in eastern Wisconsin. But unfortunately in central Illinois, snow on the ground for the biggest holiday of the year is just becoming uncommon.



Shimon notes we are in the heart of the El Nino winter here in late December but it will continue to have its impact all the way to the spring. Keep to Regional Radio going into the new year as we continue to hear from Shimon on the trends for the early parts of 2023. 

Closed Construction Lanes Opening Where Possible for Holiday Travel

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced today that lanes that have been closed for construction will reopen, where possible, for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to minimize travel disruption.


Non-emergency closures will be suspended from 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22, to 11:59 p.m. Monday, Dec. 25, as well as from 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, to 11:59 p.m. Jan. 1.

In McLean County, old U.S. 51 about a mile north of Heyworth is closed and there is no detour.


In Champaign County, westbound I-74 ramp to northbound I-57 in Champaign; will remain closed and the detour is posted. Additionally, the northbound I-57 ramp to westbound I-74 will remain closed and its detour is posted.


In Christian County, Illinois 29 northwest of Pana has lane reductions that will continue with traffic controlled by temporary signals.


Drivers are urged to pay close attention to changed conditions and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits, refrain from using mobile devices and stay alert for workers and equipment. At all times, please buckle and drive sober.

December Could Be Top-10 Warmest Month on Record

Unreasonably warm temperatures are going to linger as we roll through the Christmas holiday.


While the final days of December are looking to be more seasonable, Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates the warm days we're experiencing could get us into the top 10 warmest months on record



Temperatures have been well above normal and are going to stay that way all the way through Christmas. Shimon says there will almost certainly not be a white Christmas this year



Looking to the new year, above-normal temperatures are being predicted for January with equal chances of above-or-below-normal precipitation.


We'll have more with Shimon about the trends of a white Christmas for central Illinois this weekend on WHOW.

DNR Authorities Report Relatively Quiet Shotgun Hunting Season

Another shotgun hunting season is in the books and Illinois Department of Natural Resources authorities are indicating it was a rather quiet season, at least locally.


DNR Conservation Police Captain John Williamson indicates the nice weather from the first shotgun season brought the hunters out in full force but things slowed down when the weather wasn't great for the second season.



According to Capt. Williamson, it seems like trespassing complaints are increasing and they had a few unique complaints in parts of central Illinois.



Waterfowl, duck and pheasant seasons and upland game seasons are still open. Visit dnr.illinois.gov for all information on outdoor recreation in Illinois. 

Financial Coach Sends Warning Against Credit Consolidation Companies

As Americans rack up record debt since COVID, a local financial coach is sending out caution to those who may be in debt and are looking for a way out.


Connie Unruh with First National Bank in Clinton says debt consolidation companies do a great job of marketing their services but she warns it's not always the picture of relief they portray.



Unruh points out she sees folks all the time that go to debt settlement or trim down their debt but then they are right back to spending. She emphasizes it is the behavior that needs to change.



According to Unruh, she continues to see a lot of filing for bankruptcy. She also is seeing a lot of debt going to collections and in that circumstance, she explains you might be able to negotiate your own terms of payback.



Because collections don't deal in interest, while it may hurt your credit rating, Unruh indicates the interest stops once your debt goes to collections and that gives you the ability to negotiate a settlement. 

Clinton Schools Approve $2.8-Million Football, Track Upgrades

The Clinton Board of Education has officially approved a $2.8-million football and track complex update at its Tuesday night monthly meeting.


On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Schools Superintendent Curt Nettles told Regional Radio it has been a long time coming but the plans in place will allow the track expansion and turf field to be installed this summer.



Nettles reminds there were funds reserved for facilities that the district had saved they are able to dedicate to this project and essentially pay cash for it.



Many Clintonians, and those with kids in the school system, want to see the district have top-notch facilities. To match what surrounding communities have, the district will likely have to work on passing a one-cent sales tax and Nettles does not know when exactly that may happen.



Many in the community though question why sports facilities are getting prioritized over the aging building. Nettles notes not only are they taking up some of those needs in the building they're also doing more planning for the future.



At Clinton High School this past summer, the gymnasium received a major overhaul with new bleachers and a new gym floor design. The high school cafeteria was also completely renovated. 

Clinton Police Chief Reminds of Vacation Watch Program for Christmas Season

The vacation watch program offered by the Clinton Police Department is generally utilized most in the summer months but Chief Ben Lowers is reminding it can be a great resource for your holiday travel plans.


As we make our way over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house, the Clinton Police Department is reminding you can utilize the vacation watch program while you're away for the holidays.



As you hit the road for the holidays, Chief Lowers indicates the Christmas holiday travel rush can be just as chaotic as the Thanksgiving rush. He reminds to make sure loved ones know when you're leaving and when you plan to arrive. 



We'll hear more from Chief Lowers next week on what has become the deadliest holiday of the year - New Year's Eve. 

Getting Creative with Eggnog

As we gather together for the holidays in the next several days, a nutrition expert has some unique ideas for getting creative with a seasonal favorite - eggnog.


Monica Nyman is a dietician with the St. Louis District Dairy Council and says eggnog can be made without having to drive to the grocery store and fight the crowds picking up those last-minute necessities.



According to Nyman, eggnog can be a great replacement for some breakfast favorites. Additionally, it also makes a great substitution for some classic holiday baking recipes.



Nyman points out, the holidays can be a great time to incorporate dairy into our meals and holiday treats.



stldairycouncil.org is a great resource for other ideas like these. Be sure to follow the St. Louis District Dairy Council on Facebook and Instagram. 

Domestic Violence Advocate Encouraging Victims to Have A Way Out

The holidays are a time when domestic violence victims are most at risk as there is annually a spike in domestic issues.


That is why Andrea Kocher, director of services at Willow Tree Missions in Piatt County is reminding victims to have a plan in place this time of the year.



According to Kocher, if an abuser's victim is to leave, they will sometimes report items or possessions stolen. She stresses victims have necessary paperwork handy and a part of any escape supplies.



During this time of the year, victims and their children may be isolated with their abusers and Kocher says it is important for kids to know they are going to be kept safe. She reminds kids are very receptive and aware of what is going on around them.



Kocher adds paperwork like orders of protection or any other important court documents are very necessary this time of the year as courthouses are closed and if law enforcement intervention is necessary, victims are going to need those documents to present to them.


Kocher directs anyone needing help at any point to contact Willow Tree Missions at 217-631-1018. That is Willow Tree's crisis services line. In cases of emergency, you can also contact DOVE at its 24-hour hotline at 217-762-2122. 

The Holidays and Our Mental Health

Everyone finds themselves in different places emotionally and mentally this holiday season.


Some are living in the high of the holiday season and the glow of Christmas lights and the happiness the season brings and others may be dealing with loss or stress triggers or a variety of issues holding them back from experiencing the thrill of Christmas. No matter where you find yourself, Tony Kirkman - Executive Director of the Piatt County Mental Health Center - on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday told Regional Radio, put the phones and devices away this holiday season.



Kirkman encourages, if you are not a fan of conflict over things like politics or religion or sports, to find common ground in other ways like talking about family happenings or other blessings we're experiencing.



Kirkman offers the question - if you are taking lots of pictures for the holidays, are you taking them for yourself or are you taking them to showcase to others? 

After Brief Freeze, Mild Weather to Usher in Christmas

A brief freeze in central Illinois is going to be followed by some unseasonably warm weather as we get ready for Christmas.


Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates the cold weather of Monday and Tuesday followed by a warm-up is just an example of the types of ebbs-and-flows in weather we'll experience this winter of El Nino.



According to Shimon, as we get to the Christmas weekend, things are going to be well above average for temperatures and will stay that way until we get into next week. Additionally, we will see some rain at points during the weekend. 



We'll hear more from Shimon in the days ahead about the trends of December and how much the rain from this past weekend has helped ease drought conditions in Illinois. 

Illinois Farm Bureau GALC Conference Coming in February

The date has been announced for the 2024 Illinois Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference. It’s set for February 20 at the Bank of Springfield Center says Ryan Whitehouse, IFB Associate Director of Local Government and Political Engagement.



You can register through your local county farm bureau.

Sen. Durbin Wants Suffering to End in Gaza

US Senator Dick Durbin says Hamas and Israel need to stand down military action near hospitals. And the US needs to make sure any weapons its supplying to Israel are used in accordance with US and international law. Durbin says the suffering in Gaza needs to end.



Durbin called for a two-state agreement to be reached in the region. But he says the current leadership on both sides in the region

Clinton City Council To Take Action on Park Lane Development

When the Clinton City Council meets tonight, they are going to be taking up more action for the coming Park Lane subdivision.


City Administrator Taylor Baxter explains before that can happen, the City must clean up some zoning issues in parts of the community. He notes residents in impacted areas have been notified of the changes.




The coming Park Lane subdivision will officially get rezoned on Tuesday night.



Also on the Tuesday night agenda will be to put on file approval for short-term rental permit applications and Tuesday night the Council is expected to take up its vote on the annual levy. 

Monticello Schools to Take Up Next Phase of Sports Facilities Updates

When the Monticello School Board meets this week, it will take up the latest effort to update the sports complex on the school's campus on the community's south side.


On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Superintendent Adam Clapp told Regional Radio the next phase of the facility updates is a multi-purpose building with new restrooms, a concession stand, and a fitness center.



The Monticello sports programs are in need of an update to its athletic weight training equipment and Clapp explains this project will provide a big improvement to its existing setup. He notes it will also be an improvement for its PE classes. 



The district will be able to make these upgrades happen while keeping the tax rate flat and not raising taxes - in fact, they are set to lower the levy this year. Clapp reminds they are able to do this thanks to the one-cent sales tax that is dedicated to abating taxes and facility improvements.



Clapp points out as they continue to evaluate facilities, watching class sizes and being ready for any necessary expansion to accommodate those class sizes remains a priority. 

In-Season Vegetables to Check Out at Local Grocery Store

Most gardens are done producing produce for the season which means it may be difficult to tap into fresh fruits or vegetables this time of the year.


A University of Illinois Extension Nutrition educator has some things for us to consider as we roll through the winter months. Caitlin Mellendor points out any squash you had from the summer is likely still good.



As we transition to winter, imported fruits and vegetables are going to be the most fresh options but Mellendorf indicates there are plenty of good options available.


According to Mellendorf, coming back with those winter fruits and vegetables are grain bowls.



Slow cooker recipes grow in popularity in the winter time which are good for providing warm recipes when grilling or cooking outdoors is limited.

BBB Warns of Shopping Network Scams

The Better Business Bureau wants you to keep your guard up when shopping online, as one of the newer scams involves the bad guys impersonating shopping networks on social media. 


If you place an order through them, the BBB Scam Tracker is reporting losses from customers that never receive the product they pay for. BBB Investigator Don O’Brien says you should always ensure you are on a company's official website and not an impostor site.



Also, watch out for deals that are too good to be true. Scammers draw people in with deals that sound incredible. Stay skeptical if a deal seems unreasonably good, and think before you buy.

University of Illinois Extension's Deer Donation Program Coming Up on Closing for Season

With about a month left in the archery deer season in Illinois, the University of Illinois Extension is reminding to get those donations into the them before the season ends.


Caitlin Mellendorf is a Nutrition Educator at the University of Illinois Extension on DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties and reminds the deer donation program allows hunters to contribute a deer caught to the Extension to then give back to food pantries in Illinois.



According to Mellendorf, they have created a FAQ section about the program at the Extension websites as they encounter many of the same questions.



Go.illinois.edu/deerdonation is the website for that FAQ section and all the other details about the program. You can also find the program on Facebook. 

Lincoln High School Brings Back Popular After-School Work Program

About 15 years ago, Lincoln High School did away with a program that allowed students to leave school early and head to work.


That program is back this year and is being administered by the Lincoln Land L-Tech Program. Program Director Matt Puckett explains students who have work lined up get to leave school early and go right to work.



According to Puckett, students have to be on track to graduate and passing their courses. Students then coordinate with their guidance counselor to be a part of the program.



The labor challenges in the community have made this program very popular with local employers and Puckett indicates, depending on what job the students may be heading to, it is a good experience for them.



The L-Tech program gives students from Lincoln High School and a few surrounding, partnering districts the opportunity to get hands-on experience in several disciplines. 


You can learn more about the Lincoln L-Tech program by going to ltech41.org or finding the group on Facebook or Instagram and searching 'lincolnlandtechnicalcenter'. 

Ameren Promoting 'Warm Neighbors Cool Friends'

Warm Neighbors Cool Friends is a partnership between Ameren Illinois and the Energy Assistance Foundation. The grant program helps out moderate income families who fall behind on their heating bill in the winter months as Kim Mangan, Director of Marketing for the Energy Assistance Program explains...



Warm Neighbors Cool Friends is for moderate income families. The Energy Assistance Foundation can direct low income struggling families to other programs that can help. Get more information by contacting Ameren Illinois.

Gov. Pritzker Promotes Pet Adoptions This Holiday

Animal shelters across the state are so inundated with dogs and cats, that tough decisions are being made about the future of each individual animal.


To that end, Gov. JB Pritzker last week took the opportunity to encourage Illinoisans to adopt a pet this holiday.



Over 7,000 dogs and cats were euthanized in Illinois animal shelters in 2022 and since that time, the problem has only gotten worse. 


Petfinder.com will direct you to animals in your area needing homes. 

Congressman Sorenson Outlines Debt Ceiling Debate

Lawmakers are on a months-long break, but that's not stopping an Illinois lawmaker from voicing his opinion about the debt ceiling crisis.


Once lawmakers return to Capitol Hill in January, they will have six or seven days to find common ground on Speaker Mike Johnson's phase one debt crisis plan. If lawmakers do not find bipartisanship, that could lead to a government shutdown. Eric Sorensen represents Illinois' 17th Congressional District...



If Congress does not find common ground on a new deal, it could lead to the nation's 11th governmental shutdown in U.S. history.


The new spending plan would not include President Biden's proposed 1-hundred six billion dollars in wartime aid for Ukraine and Israel.

DeWitt County Board Anticipates Getting RFP For Marina Sale As Soon as First of the Year

With one more meeting in the calendar year left for the DeWitt County Board, the sale of the Clinton Lake Marina will likely be the big focus for the board heading into the new year.


Board Chair Dan Matthews anticipates that the sale will be finalized in the first quarter. He notes the sale of the marina has been getting a lot of interest for a while now.



As the Board finishes its first year together, Matthews says the new Board has had a lot on its plate, including a lot at the Animal Shelter, which seems to be stabilizing.



A paperwork mistake that led to parcels of land near the marina being sold has been taken care of and everything is back in the County's hands. 

Local Financial Coach Discusses Holiday Spending

If you're not careful, the holidays can be a time of heavy spending that can end up being detrimental to your financial health in the new year.


Connie Unruh at First National Bank in Clinton told Regional Radio on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday there are several ways to reign in our spending throughout the holiday season.



The Christmas season can be a time when a lot of people rack up the credit card debt and Unruh says spending money to achieve the perfect Christmas isn't the way to do it.



Additionally, if you're looking for affordable Christmas decorations, once the holidays are over, the post-Christmas sales at retail stores offer discounts on things you can bring out next year.



If you've started your Christmas shopping by using that credit card but want to reign in what you're spending on it, Unruh encourages tracking your spending and giving yourself limits on how much you spend on certain things. 

Drought Persisting Heading Into Winter Months

As we head into the coldest months of the year, a current mild drought has the potential to intensify this winter.


John Bumgardner at the National Weather Service in Lincoln explains in the southern part of the state, they are bordering an intense drought while in central Illinois we are in a moderate drought.



According to Bumgardner, one thing that can sometimes make drought conditions worse in the winter is that the ground firms up with the cold temperatures, creating run-off when we do get precipitation. 



Additionally, it takes ten inches of snow to equal one inch of rain moisture. Bumgardner points out that ratio can be higher depending on the type of snow that falls.



December is generally good for just an inch of rain while we typically get about five inches of snow. Bumgardner notes the end of the month is showing a trend to potentially be wet but if it isn't, things will be below average and set up the need for a lot of moisture in January and February. 

St Louis District Dairy Council Promoting Holiday Drinks with Dairy

Hot drinks on a cold December day can bring the Christmas vibes to any part of the day and the St. Louis District Dairy Council is promoting adding dairy to some classics you can make from home.


Monica Nyman is a registered dietician with the St. Louis District Dairy Council and on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday told Regional Radio a peppermint hot chocolate can be a homemade classic with a little bit of twist.



Chai lattes are becoming trendy and Nyman says you can make a white chocolate raspberry mocha or a cinnamon vanilla steamer as an alternative to the coffee-style drinks. 



There are many more ideas like these on the St. Louis District Dairy Council website, stldairycouncil.org. 

State's Gun Owners Continue to Wait for Final Rules on Illinois' Ban on Assault Weapons

The state’s gun owners are waiting for a set of final rules on Illinois’ ban on assault weapons and other gun accessories. And they will continue to wait on the US Supreme Court to offer an opinion.


Thursday the court again rejected a request for intervention and to stop the law. Governor JB Pritzker says he still believes the law will pass constitutional muster.



The state is operating under “emergency” rules in place for registering assault weapons. The legislative committee that approves them won’t meet again until January.

Space Heater Safety

It's that time of the year when space heaters are used to help warm up spots in your home that need a little extra heat. That said, you need to make sure you are using your space heater safely. Health Department's across Illinois are putting out the word about space heater safety, specifically making sure you plug your space heater directly into a wall and not into a power strip or extension cord. RaeAnn Tucker is with the Henry and Stark County Health Department...



You can use space heaters with an extension cord but the extension cord must be matched with the specifications of the space heater, it has to be the same gauge to handle the heat and charge of a space heater. Be sure to read the instructions for safe use.

Rural Childcare Getting Attention

The National Farm Medicine Center bringing attention to the issue of rural childcare access.



The center’s Scott Heiberger says rural childcare is among the American Farm Bureau Federation Farm Bill policy priorities.

'Paid Leave For All Workers Act' Takes Effect in New Year

With the new year comes the “Paid Leave for All Workers Act” in Illinois. The law also applies to seasonal workers says Mark Raney and Chris Davis with Illinois Farm Bureau.



Frequently asked questions can be found at the Illinois Department of Labor’s website at labor.illinois.gov.

As Petty Crime Increases, Clinton Police Chief Offers Message of Caution For Holidays

As the holiday season rolls on, packages of Christmas gifts will be flooding onto porches across the community.


As they do, Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers is offering a message of caution thanks to an increase in petty crimes. On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Chief Lowers told Regional Radio, oftentimes those packages are an advertisement that something valuable is about to go into that home.



Chief Lowers believes with the busy lives we live, it can be difficult to promptly get packages off the porch before there is the opportunity to have them swiped. He says like preying on an unlocked vehicle, oftentimes porch pirates take advantage of the opportunity. 



As those packages get wrapped, unwrapped, and then discarded, Chief Lower encourages making sure boxes are broken down enough there isn't a big advertisement in your trash receptacles during the holidays.



Next week on Regional Radio, as we get closer to having to hit the road for the holidays, the Chief will remind listeners and readers of the home watch program through the Clinton Police Department as well as travel safety reminders. 

Rules of Road Sessions Offered By Illinois Farm Bureau

The new year means Illinois Farm Bureau "Rules for the Road" sessions. Plenty of good information says IFB Associate Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Rodney Knittel (hard k).



Knittel says the sessions include participation from the state police and Department of Transportation.

Gift Card Scams Continuously Evolving

Be wary if someone claiming to be with a government office says you owe them money and want you to pay up using a gift card. In the past couple of years, scammers doubled down on gift cards as a method to steal money from consumers while the public embraces digital versions of the cards.


In some cases, the scammers will persuade individuals to purchase gift cards by impersonating online sellers, pet breeders, government or sweepstakes officials and others. BBB Investigator Don O’Brien says there are some scammers that actually go to the store and put their hands on the cards first.



Losses from scams involving gift cards tend to be much higher than most other payment methods, ranking third behind wire transfers and cryptocurrency, according to a 2022 BBB Institute for Market Trust report. Gift cards are treated like cash, which makes stolen funds hard to recover.

Illinois NAACP Leader Under Fire for Migrant Comments, Gov. Pritzker Responds

The leader of the NAACP in Illinois is under fire after a recording of her speaking about migrants and asylum seekers in the state was released.


Teressa Haley, from Springfield, was on zoom call with NAACP branch Presidents in October when she started talking about the unfolding problem of migrants coming to the state.



Governor JB Pritzker says Haley’s comments were unacceptable.



ABC TV in Chicago reports they reached Haley by phone while on vacation overseas and she suggested to them the video was faked, perhaps by using AI.


Some members of the NAACP have called for Haley to resign, and Governor JB Pritzker said her comments were reprehensible.

Sen. Durbin Supports More Funding for Ukraine

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zalinski was in Washington DC to ask for continued funding for their war against Russia. Illinois Senior Senator Dick Durbin supports giving more aid to Ukraine and is upset that Republicans want war funding tied to sweeping reforms to immigration and border policy.



President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he would release $200 million of support to Ukraine that was already approved by Congress this week. The White House and others are seeking $110 billion in aid to Ukraine and Iseral.

Congressman Sorenson Wants to Separate Border Security, Ukraine Funding

An Illinois Congressman wants to separate border security and Ukraine funding.


For Democratic Congressman Eric Sorensen, he believes Republicans playing games with funding for Ukraine is a 'grave mistake.' His comments come on the heels of a confidential meeting with the Secretary of Defense and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. However, no Republicans attended the meeting on the war in the Middle East. Here's Congressman Sorensen...



Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Capitol Hill this week.


President Biden announced an additional 2-hundred million dollars in preapproved funding during the visit.

Sangamon Valley CEO Visits WHOW Morning Show, Big Red Barn


The 10 Sangamon Valley CEO Students from high schools in and around Monticello, visited the Big Red Barn today.


Station president Randal J. Miller took the students thru the process of how radio stations are programmed and monetized.   


Then, they were hosted by WHOW Morning Show host Seth Laurence on the 8:40 segment on-air.


Find out more on the Sangamon Valley CEO program online here.  

New Animal Control Administrator Says They Are Fully Staffed

For months now, the DeWitt County Animal Shelter has been under the microscope as staff turnover and understaffing have kept the facility from fully operational.


That is hopefully a thing of the past says Administrator Tony Harris. On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Harris told Regional Radio it has been difficult to balance both the 9-1-1 office and the animal shelter.



According to Harris, they are fully staffed with a warden and two part-time staff but admits, they are going to make sure they don't need more staff.



Harris notes the Shelter's relationship with 'Second Chance for Pets', the pet adoption group in DeWitt County, is very strong and he hopes to continue to maintain a good relationship with the group because they are instrumental in making sure the shelter does not get overcrowded with animals.



Harris believes the Shelter is on the right path but it is going to take some time to get it all the way back. He has been appreciative of the support he's received so far in his time as the administrator. 

Bienial Illinois Youth Survey Set for Early 2024

The biennial Illinois Youth Survey is set to be administered in early 2024.


Tony Kirkman at the Piatt County Mental Health Center indicates this is an every-other-year assessment of Illinois youth asking questions about things like substance use, mental health, and emotional health.



According to Kirkman, once the students have taken the survey, the data is compiled into a school district-specific report and then a statewide report, and the trends are broken down after that.



For Kirkman, the trend of teen mental health trends are concerning and continue to show a growing sense of loneliness.



Kirkman points out he has not seen a single positive influence that social media has had on the minds of our youth. He believes social media has made teens aware of things good and bad, at an all-time high - something he says is not a good thing. 

Lt. Governor Launches 'We Thrive' Program

The Lieutenant Governor of Illinois is launching a new initiative to increase financial literacy for women.


“We Thrive” is led by Juliana Stratton. She says women are already suffering because of the wage gap – and it all compounds in the lack of retirement savings and investment in woman-owned businesses. Early on the program will focus on making sure women are prepared to take care of financial decisions from a young age.



The program will start with group listening sessions all over the state.

State Ag Pest Survey Coordinator Says Spotted Lanternfly in Illinois Big Story in '23

The biggest story of 2023 for the State Ag Pest Survey Coordinator Kelly Estes? Evidence of the spotted lanternfly in Illinois. But the impact of the invasive species may not be as serious as originally thought.



Spotted lanternfly was confirmed in Cook County in September.


More information on the invasive species at go.illinois.edu/SpottedLanternFly.

Truck Parking Key Issue for Mid-West Truckers Association

The trucking industry continues to bring attention to parking issues. Don Schaefer is with Springfield, Illinois-based Mid-West Truckers Association. He says he’ll be following the subject into 2024.



The Mid-West Truckers Association has membership across 15 states.

Stacking Up The Vault to A Successful Teen Center

How does 'The Vault' in Clinton stack up to what a successful teen center must do to not only be successful but remain viable?


On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Executive Director Tammy Wilson told Regional Radio she read an article recently about what it takes to successfully operate a teen center.



According to Wilson, one of the keys is something that The Vault has done since the start of the center over five years ago and that is youth ownership.



Additionally, a community has to be involved and connected to its teen center. Wilson points out the community has always supported The Vault at every turn of its existence.



The final piece to a successful teen center, according to the literature presented by Wilson, is effective coordination and that means having staff involved in creating programming for kids.



Wilson thanks all those in the community who have supported them in various ways over the years and indicates if you are interested in supporting them during this season of giving, visit thevaultclinton.org to find out things they need that you can contribute. 

Lincoln High School L-Tech Program Touts Workforce Readiness

The Lincoln High School L-Tech program is touting the benefit of getting its students ready for careers in the workforce by providing skills training in a variety of disciplines.


L-Tech Director Matt Puckett indicates the L-Tech program gives students from Lincoln High School and a few surrounding, partnering districts the opportunity to get hands-on experience in several disciplines.



According to Puckett, programs range from the building trades to cosmetology to law enforcement and nursing. One of the benefits of all these skills is the ability to find work right out of high school or with minimal further training after high school.



Puckett explains one of the benefits of this program not only is the skills to quickly join the workforce but the fact the workforce is in bad enough shape there is an incredible demand for his students with skills - something he hears about often.



You can learn more about the Lincoln L-Tech program by going to ltech41.org or finding the group on Facebook or Instagram and searching 'lincolnlandtechnicalcenter'. 

IRS Holiday Cyber Security Tips

The holiday season can be stressful for any number of reasons but one of those doesn't have to be worrying about your cyber security. Lauren Winebrenner, an agent with the Internal Revenue Service has a number of ways you can protect your information from online scammers...



The I.R.S has a number of information security tips available at IRS.gov

Rochester Football Coach Named Bears Coach of the Year

The Chicago Bears picked Rochester’s Derek Leonard as their High School coach of the year.


This past weekend coaches and members of state championship teams were honored at the Bears game at Solider Field. Bears’ Head Coach Matt Eberflus says he knows the Leonard family well.



The Bears name a high school coach of the week during the regular season and donate $2,000 to the program and $500 to a youth football team picked by the coach.

DeWitt County Board Approves Amendment To Solar Ordinances

The DeWitt County Board continues to clean up its ordinances for renewable energy, in November focusing on solar.


DeWitt County Board Chair Dan Matthews indicates they have amended the ordinance to make solar power battery storage 3,000 feet from homes, businesses, hospitals, daycare, or schools.



According to Matthews, he did consult with a potential developer on how the ordinance change might impact his project and the feedback was overall positive.



As with a lot of renewable energy initiatives, the County has to closely watch what the State of Illinois is doing and County Administrator DeeDee Rentmeister points out there has been some movement on solar policy at the state level.



Rentmeister points out there is imminent interest in a solar farm coming to DeWitt County.



In other renewable energy fronts - a major CO2 pipeline project that was slated to go through DeWitt County has been pulled and its future remains uncertain. 

November Saw Normal Temperatures With Big Swings in Highs and Lows

November was normal for temperatures and below normal for precipitation.


John Bumgardner at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates what made November stand out was how drastic it was between the high temperature for the month and the low temperature for the month.



The lack of rain in November is setting for needing some significant rainfall for December through February and Bumgardner says that isn't setting up well when we have an El Nino winter on the way.



According to Bumgardner, what could compound the issue is the fact as the winter rolls along, the cold hardens that ground which creates less saturation and more runoff when we do get precipitation.



Bumgardner points out it takes about ten inches of snow for one inch of rain moisture. 

Qualifying Seniors Can Get $10 License Plate Sticker

Last year, Illinois senior citizens who met income qualifications were able to get their license plate stickers for only $15.00. This year, qualifying senior citizens will only have to pay $10.00 for the new stickers. Cassandra Schmoll is a senior advocate and administrator for the Henry County Senior Center.



To get your senior license plate discount contact the Illinois Secretary of State's website, ILSoS.gov.

Coping with Loss During Holidays

If you or someone you know has recently lost a loved one, understand this can be a hard time of year for them. 


The grieving process varies for each person, can last longer for some. But a pastoral care professional and bereavement coordinator for OSF Hospice says grief is a part of the healing process. Among the long list of coping suggestions, one may help the most: know your physical and mental limits in holiday social situations and set expectations accordingly. Rita Manning says we shouldn’t be afraid to bring up the memory of a lost loved one.



She says you should keep an eye on the grieving person for signs of a bigger issue. Someone may start eating or sleeping too much or too little. Also, watch for changes in their appearance, like how they dress. If the grief reaches a crisis (such as specific plans for self-harm), seek help right away.

Heritage Behavioral Health Holds Open House at New Location

Heritage Behavioral Health Services hosted an open house at its new location this week.


Thursday night, the public was invited to an open house in what many would recognize as the former Richland Learning Center but CEO Mary Garrison believes if you walk into the building now, the transformation is quite surprising.



The addition of group services is the big addition for Heritage. That is in addition to the many services Heritage has offered already.



Garrison credits Heritage's Clinton staff for their dedication to the community and hopes anyone in need will reach out and find out how the new Heritage location can help them.    


Weather Service Models 'All Over the Place'

The National Weather Service is dealing with the challenge of reviewing weather models that are all over the place.


On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, John Bumgardner at the National Weather Service in Lincoln told Regional Radio, Friday rain forecasts came with a lot of uncertainty - as early as this week there was some question about whether there would snow. 



We'll have more with Bumgardner next week on the latest in December weather forecasts, including if we are setting up for a white Christmas in central Illinois. 

Tolono Man Arrested for Child Pornography

Illinois State Police (ISP) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Zone 5 officials announce the guilty plea and sentencing of 42-year-old James Shipley of Tolono, IL for Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault (Class X Felony) and four Counts of Production and Possession of Child Pornography (Class X Felonies).'

On April 3, 2023, an arrest warrant was issued for Shipley in Champaign County for Child Pornography, and on April 4, 2023, Shipley was arrested at his home in Tolono. 


Thursday Shipley plead guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 48 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. 


The Illinois Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force assisted the ISP with this investigation.

DeWitt County Development Council Targeting 'Business Bootcap' Next Year

A successful entrepreneurship program is coming to DeWitt County.


The DeWitt County Development Council is hoping to start a business bootcamp program next year and Executive Director Curt Homann explains this is a program that has had a lot of success in other communities and he hopes to see it have the same impact here.



Homann notes this program will be a resource for local business owners to tap into. While other communities offer a grant opportunity or some sort of incentive on the other side of the course, that will not happen initially in DeWitt County.



Homann anticipates the program launching around mid-year. Keep up with the latest information on the DCDC Facebook page. 

Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

More than 71 million Americans will see an 3.2% increase in their Social Security benefits and SSI payments in 2024.


The increase will be effective with payments that will be received in January. The purpose of the COLA is to ensure that the purchasing power of Social Security and SSI benefits is not eroded by inflation. Federal benefit rates increase when the cost of living rises. On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Jack Myers with Social Security told Regional Radio the measurement of cost of living comes from the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for Urban and Clerical Wage Earners - or CPI-W.



The 3.2% COLA was computed by comparing the average CPI-W from the 3rd quarter of last year - 2022 - or the last year there was if there is an increase in the average CPI-W, the increase is the next year’s COLA and the average CPI-W for the 3rd quarter of 2023 increased 3.2% compared to the 3rd quarter of 2022.



According to Myers, when the Social Security COLA is announced, people often wonder about the Medicare Part B premium since it is deducted from the Social Security payment. Medicare announced that the standard Part B premium will be $174.70 in 2024, up from 164.90 in 2023. He stresses there is no need to call to check on this increase.



Your account had to have been established by November 14 to get this year’s COLA notice within your Message Center, but if you missed that deadline, there are still many other advantages to having your own account.  Create one today at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. You can even sign up for text or e-mail alerts when a new notice arrives in your Message Center.


To learn more about the 2023 COLA, visit www.ssa.gov/cola 

Dolly Parton 'Imagination Library' Coming to Illinois

Every child under five in the state can now have a book delivered to their house thanks to state funding and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.


The state is spending $1.6 million to offer the program to residents. Governor JB Pritzker says the modest investment from the state will pay off big.



Program partners will be needed in each county to spread the word about the program and help sign up children and families. Signups should be done on the Dolly Parton Imagination Library website.


The Immigration Library program mails more than 2 million books to children worldwide every month.

Illinois Farm Bureau Policy Discussion on CO2 Pipelines

The Illinois Farm Bureau set policy for the next year at their Annual Meeting on CO2 pipelines.


Kevin Semlow, Director of Governmental Affairs and Commodities, says members of IFB pushed back strongly on new construction of pipelines.



Semlow says the private property rights debates centered around eminent domain and how it could be used to allow construction of a pipeline.

Congressman LaHood Talks Budget

The race to find common ground on a new fiscal budget is on in the nation's capital as the clock ticks to fund parts of the government.


In November, lawmakers agreed to Speaker Mike Johnson's "laddered" continuing resolution two-step funding bill. That bill funds parts of the government until January 19, with the second phase lasting until early February. But with lawmakers set to return home for the holidays, the race is on. Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood says...



With the holiday break, lawmakers have very few days left in Congress to find common ground.

Hiccup Postpones Clinton City Council Vote on Annual Levy, To Be Taken Up in in Two Weeks

A hiccup in the filing of this year's annual City of Clinton levy is pushing the vote to the second December meeting of the Clinton City Council.


City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter says not to worry, for many years he has filed the levy early for instances such as these. He points out the annual levy is looking very strong once again.



Lichtenwalter reminds the levy supports funds in the City budget across the spectrum and also points out they have seen improvements in a number of funds since he came on staff.



Lictenwalter reminds the City of Clinton's levy is a small portion of the overall levy with the bigger levies coming from Clinton Schools and DeWitt County but there are other levies as well. 

CEO Students Hoping Community Members Participate in Christmas Lights Display Competition

If you decorate your house for Christmas and are in the footprint of the Central Illinois CEO Program, perhaps you should consider putting your decorated home up against others in the community.


The Central Illinois CEO students are putting together a Christmas decorating competition this December and are inviting decorators from across their communities of Warrensburg, Latham, Maroa, Forsyth, Farmer City, and Clinton to submit their homes.



That's Conley Schick and Karla Ramirez from Clinton High School and they indicate once all the photos are submitted, they will put those up online to be voted on by the various communities. There will also be information for those who want to go out into their communities and check out the displays in person.



The CEO program has also opened a 'swag store' with lots of merchandise. You can learn more about the 'swag store' and the Christmas decorating contest by going to centralillinoisceo.com and also find the groups on Facebook and Instagram.

Miller Park Zoo's Wild Lights Final Weekend

It's the last opportunity this Friday and Saturday to be a part of the annual 'Wild Lights' event at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington.


Executive Director Jay Pratte indicates 'Wild Lights' was one of the first events he was able to coordinate as the Director and really likes the atmosphere of the event.



'Wild Lights' offers several activities for kids and is decorated for the season.



While some of the collection will be put up because of the winter time, Pratte says the evening time is a great atmosphere to be in the zoo as it is something different.



Tickets are available at millerparkzoo.org or find ticket information on Facebook. Pratte notes you can walk up the nights of the event and purchase tickets then. 

Illinois Farm Bureau Delegate Action on Private Property Rights

The Illinois Farm Bureau delegate body takes up the issue of property rights at this year’s Annual Meeting. The subject matter involved both CO2 pipelines and wind and solar.



Kevin Semlow serves as Illinois Farm Bureau Executive Director of Governmental Affairs and Commodities.

DCDC Planning Record Grant Funds for 2024

The DeWitt County Development Council is planning for a record-setting figure for next year's grant funding for local businesses.


Executive Director Curt Homann indicates the 2024 calendar year of grant funding will see several cycles and indicates the DeWitt County Board, City of Clinton and City of Farmer City are contributing to the effort for next year.



In addition to funding coming from the three local entities, Homann believes they all have an interest in investing in a thriving small business community and are appreciative that they do.



Homann directs those interested in this next round of grant funding to keep an eye on the DCDC Facebook page. He hopes to get those details out very shortly. 

Heritage Behavioral Health Open House on Thursday

A local nonprofit is hosting an open house this week to showcase recent renovations.


Heritage Behavioral Health in Clinton celebrated a ribbon cutting in June when they purchased the former Richland building on Sunset Court. Cory Baxter, Director of DeWitt County Clinical Services, notes they have been busy since then with renovating their new space.



As of last Friday, Heritage is now solely based out of their Sunrise Court building in Clinton and is no longer using the Clinton Plaza location. Heritage CEO Mary Garrison indicates they are hosting an open house on Thursday, December 7 to showcase the renovations they have made.



Baxter reports they have four counselors and a crisis interventionist on site as well as several support staff members. Once a week Heritage has nurses and an advanced practice provider come to Clinton.



The open house is Thursday, December 7, from 4 pm to 7 pm at 140 Sunrise Court.

Christmas Walk in Downtown Decatur Tonight

It's one of the most popular Christmas events in Macon County and it's tonight in downtown Decatur.


The annual Decatur Christmas Walk takes place tonight and Decatur Area Arts Council Executive Director Jerry Johnson on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday told Regional Radio it is a very popular event that closes off several streets for food trucks and local restaurants and businesses have special deals for the night.



While you're downtown, check out the creative handiwork of area businesses, individuals, and groups that took this year's Christmas Card Lane through the Decatur Area Arts Council.



Additionally, Johnson reminds of the holiday gift shop that continues until Dec. 23 in the Anne Lloyd Gallery at the Decatur Area Arts Council building in downtown Decatur.



Johnson encourages those wanting to learn more about these happenings and many more this holiday season to visit decaturarts.org or find them on Facebook and Instagram. 

Sen. Durbin Wants Bi-Partisan Solution for Immigration System

US Senator Dick Durbin is again urging lawmakers to address the nation's failing immigration system.


Durbin says the number of refugees coming to the borders of the US is record breaking. The state’s senior senator says it’s time for bipartisan support to rework the nation’s immigration laws, courts and process. Durbin figures if something was done, parts of the economy might benefit.



Durbin is decrying Republican efforts to tie fixing problems at the southern border to more military aid to be sent to Ukraine and Israel.

DeWitt County Board Approves Annual Budget; Uncertainty Around No Cash Bail Should Be Helped By Wind Farm Dollars

The DeWitt County Board has approved its Fiscal Year 24 budget.


DeWitt County Administrator Dee Dee Rentmeister on the WHOW Morning Show Monday told Regional Radio the budget looks great again this year even though there were some new wrinkles to the annual budget like no cash bail and added revenue thanks to the wind farm.



According to Rentmeister, the no cash bail was supposed to go into effect last year but it was held up because it was challenged in the court system. By the time it was upheld and then implemented this fall, the budget process was all but wrapped up.



The wind farm dollars are going to benefit the County. Rentmeister points out that will allow them to keep the levy steady which is already one of the lower levies in the area.



Rentmeister points out, a lot of people have the perception that budgeting dollars are flexible but most of the time, they are, in fact not that flexible. The wind farm dollars will have some flexibility attached to them but there are areas of the budget that need to be funded and funded at certain levels.



The COVID dollars that have been debated over the last few years have allowed the County to take care of things like building improvements and law enforcement investments as well as upgrades to the 9-1-1 at the County Building. 


Rentmeister continues to praise County leadership for conservative budgeting that allows the County to keep its levy low and provide vital services for its people. 

DeWitt County Development Council Awards Annual REV Grants in Conjunction with First National Bank in Clinton

The annual REV grants through First National Bank in Clinton that are administered by the DeWitt County Development Council were awarded last month.


On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Executive Director Curt Homann told Regional Radio there were four recipients of those grants this year and he feels it is always exciting to hear the ideas of local business owners and be able to help them realize goals to make their business better.



Homann highlights the four winners, three of which have shops on the square in Clinton.



As the REV grant process has now wrapped up for the DCDC for 2023, they turn their attention to 2024 where Homann says they are planning to award nearly $50,000 in grants. We'll have more on that with Homann later this week on Regional Radio. 

Laurie Heuermann Named as New Friendship Center Director

Yesterday on Regional Radio, we heard from Paula Jiles as she reflected on her career and her upcoming retirement.


Laurie Heuermann (Higherman) is the new Executive Director of the DeWitt County Friendship Center. Heuermann says she has been a Clinton resident for 30 years and is probably best known for her banking career in Clinton. Most recently she worked at the DMV.



Heuermann indicates she is most looking forward to continuing the trips the Friendship Center is known for. The Friendship Center will be having a week trip to Mackinac Island next October.



Heuermann invites the public to stop by the Friendship Center this week to wish Paula well in her retirement and to stop by in the coming weeks to introduce themselves to her.

Illinois Farm Bureau Elects New President

The Illinois Farm Bureau elected a new President on Monday at its annual meeting.


Brian Duncan has served the past six years as IFB Vice President and he says he’s ready to serve every member of the organization.



Duncan will now serve a two-year term. Evan Hultine of Bureau County was elected as Vice President.


Duncan fills the seat left open after Rich Guebert, served the maximum of 10 consecutive years.

Illinois Farm Bureau Meeting Discussion Meet

The Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Chicago includes a discussion meet. More from RFD Radio’s Jim Taylor.



The meeting wraps up today in Chicago. 

Congressman LaHood Would Like Border Security Funding Included in Aid Package for Middle East

Republicans, like Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood, want to include border security in an aid package designed for the Middle East.


But, with a Democratic-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House, that could be difficult. For the Dunlap Republican, he's taking a 'wait and see' approach to a new aid package.



Cities like Chicago are scrambling to find housing for hundreds of asylum-seekers.


Governor Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson have set aside 1-hundred 50 million dollars for migrants.

DeWitt County Sheriff's Office Purchasing Drones

At the last DeWitt County Board Meeting, the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office was approved to purchase two drones.


Sheriff Mike Walker indicates recently his department as well as the Fire Department has had to receive assistance from other agencies to use a drone. He explains having their drone they could have deployed it earlier in the case or used it more often.



After researching drones, the Sheriff was advised to follow suit with what other agencies have done with purchasing two drones of different sizes. The drones are equipped with heat imaging and GPS technology, with the purchase totaling around $16,000.



The Sheriff's Department will train a couple of deputies to be drone pilots. In addition to being used by the Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Walker says the drones we be available for use by other local first responders. He notes there are a variety of ways the drones can be deployed to serve the community and solve cases faster.



Sheriff Walker anticipates having the drones by the end of January and will begin training pilots once they are received.

DeWitt County Friendship Center Director Looks Back on Career

After Friday, the DeWitt County Friendship Center will have a new executive director.


Paul Jiles has been the executive director for six years and will serve her final day in that role on Friday. She looks back on all the additions and renovations that they have accomplished during her tenure. Over six years the Friendship Center fundraised over $200,000.



Jiles says a highlight of her career was the numerous trips she arranged and went on. She notes many people who did not come to the center daily wanted to go on the trips. 



Jiles remembers when her car was totaled and she was able to fundraise and get a new parking lot for the friendship center within six weeks. She notes it gave her a sense of perspective about how much the center needed a new parking lot.



Jiles will miss the many seniors she has met and the working relationships with her coworkers.



Tune in to Regional Radio tomorrow as we introduce Laurie Heuermann (Higherman) as the new DeWitt County Friendship Center Executive Director.

Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting Underway in Chicago

The Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting includes recognition of Ag in the Classroom volunteers across the state. More from RFD Radio’s Jim Taylor in Chicago.



Collegiate Farm Bureaus have a presence at the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting in Chicago. 



The annual meeting wraps up on Wednesday. 

Debate over Districting Scheduling for High School Football Continues

District scheduling for high school football is up for vote by IHSA member schools over the next couple of weeks.


Last week, the IHSA announced its Legislative Commission moved to advance 14 by-law proposals to a vote by the membership, one of them is a proposal that would establish district scheduling in football. Friday Night Drive’s Steve Soucie (sue-see) has been closely following the issue.



The voting period for the proposal runs through the Dec. 18.

Gov. Pritzker Continues to Highlight 'Rebuild Illinois' Program

The state continues to celebrate the improvement to highways, bridges, overpasses and more.


A 20 mile project on Interstate 57 was completed last week from south of Chicago all the way to the 294. And in the Quad Cities, the bridge deck of Interstate 280 has been completely replaced. Governor JB Pritzker says the Rebuild Illinois program continues to make things better across the state.



The state says through four years of Rebuild Illinois more than 5,300 miles of roads have been improved.

Retirement is a Unique SItuation for Farmers

Retirement planning is a unique experience for farmers. Jared Nelson is an insurance agent and financial advisor with Rural Mutual Insurance. He says that farmers have several things to consider depending on what they want to do with the farm and themselves when they retire. Nelson says farmers are in a unique situation compared to most people...



It's also going to be a big change in mindset when farmers retire...



The amount farmers will need to retire depends upon their individual situations...


That's financial advisor Jared Nelson in Wisconsin.

Final Weekend on Illinois Firearm Deer Hunting Season

The last weekend of shotgun deer season is underway in Illinois. As hunters go back out for perhaps their last weekend in the woods, Mike Wafer with the Department of Natural Resources says it's a good time to remember that most people aren't hunters but the public's support and understanding of why people hunt is needed.


When heading home at the end of a hopefully successful day of hunting-- keep that in mid.



Shotgun deer hunting resumed on Thursday and will end on Sunday.

Pork Power Program Donating 50,000 Pounds of Pork This Year

Food banks across the state are receiving donations of ground pork this fall. They are part of the Pork Power donation program - supported by the Illinois Pork Producers, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybeans Association, and the Illinois Meat Processors.


Chad Leman, President of the Pork Producers says they will donate 50,000 pounds this year.



The Pork Power Program makes ground pork donations to regional food banks that distribute the pork to local food banks and pantries.

Illinois Farm Bureau Prepares for Annual Meeting

The Illinois Farm Bureau is gathering for its annual meeting this weekend and early next week in Chicago.


President of the IFB Rich Guebert says there will be lots of talk about how the organization will continue to serve members moving forward



A new farm bureau president and vice president will be elected during this year's meeting.

Register now for 2024 IDNR Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt

Youth between the ages of 10 and 17 who would like to participate in the annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources can register now for the event, which is scheduled for Jan. 15, 2024.


Registration closes Dec. 31. To participate, youth hunters must go online to register and follow the instructions.


The hunt will be hosted at private waterfowl hunting clubs near Canton in Fulton County, and hunters selected to participate will be pre-assigned to hunting locations.


A lottery drawing involving all youth hunters who register will be conducted, and those selected will be notified by email. First-time applicants will be given priority over previous participants.


The hunt is open to youth ages 10 to 17 at the time of the event. All applicants must possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman's license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20 gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner's identification (FOID) card.


Questions about registration and the hunt itself can be directed to 217-785-8060.

GFAI Talking Labor Challenges

A tight labor market continues to be an issue for grain handling facilities. Jeff Adkisson is with the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois.




Adkisson says the issue will likely be a key talking point during the association's 131st annual convention in February.

DeWitt County Sheriff's Deparment FIlls Deputy Roster

It's been a long-running challenge, but the DeWitt County Sheriff's Department currently has a full roster of deputies.   Sheriff Mike Walker was a guest on the WHOW Morning Show Thursday and reported that a few new hires have put the department fully staffed for the first time since he was elected to the position in 2018...


The challenges facing law enforcement agencies looking for applicants have been well documented.  Sheriff Walker notes that finding adequate applicants is one challenge, but also keeping good officers at the local level is another hurdle...


Sheriff Walker feels that having a full roster of deputies on the road means more services provided to DeWitt County residents....


Walker believes that local coverage is especially important at a time when the county is seeing less presence from the Illinois State Police.  According to Walker, current trooper levels mean only four state police officers are typically on duty covering the six-county Troop 5 area...


Even with a full complement of deputies on the road in DeWitt County, the Sheriff's Department is still currently looking to fill an open position.  Sheriff Walker says they're currently in need of one correctional officer position.  Interested applicants should contact the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office.

Greater Peoria Farm Show Completes 42nd Year

The 2023 edition of the Greater Peoria Farm Show wrapped up Thursday in downtown Peoria.  Local Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more...



Veterans Reminded To Renew Legion Dues As Year Ends

As we head into December, a local veterans group is reminding vets to renew their annual dues.


Josh Theilen, Past Post Commander of American Legion Post 103 in Clinton, notes the end of the calendar year means it's dues renewal time for Legion members.  He says that membership brings with it some financial assistance in times of tragedy...



According to Theilen, an additional benefit to Legion members is the American Legion Life Insurance Trust.  He says that's another way the Legion supports the families of veterans in times of tragedy...


However, Theilen believes the largest benefit of membership is the overall support offered to veterans by the organization...


Again, those American Legion dues need to be in by the end of the month.  To learn more about joining the American Legion, contact your local post, or call Josh Theilen at 217-520-9823.


IHSA member schools to vote on district scheduling for football

IHSA member schools are set to vote on a district scheduling proposal for football.


If approved, the IHSA's Sam Knox says the organization could put together a schedule in time for next fall.



Under the by-law amendment, the IHSA would use geography and classification when scheduling football. There would be eight districts in each class with eight schools in each district. District games would take place in weeks 3 through 9 of the regular season. The top 4 schools in each district would qualify for the IHSA playoffs. Seeding procedures would be similar to current seeding procedures, but teams from the same district would not play each other in the first round.


IHSA member schools will vote on the proposal Dec. 4-18. A simple majority determines the outcome.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is implementing its fitfth year of the Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program.

New this year, users will be able to enter their information into the application and validate it during a pre-enrollment period starting at 8 AM on December 4, 2023. Applications can be submitted once the program opens at 8:00 AM on December 15, 2023. Applications can be saved and edited at any time, prior to submittal. The program closes at 11:59 PM, on January 15, 2024.


A total of 140,000 acres are available for the 2024 program. In the 2023 program, this acreage allotment was met in under 24 hours and a total of over 182,688 acres were requested by the time the application period ended. Funding of eligible acreage is on a first-come, first-serve basis.


The program is applicable for acreage in Illinois seeded to cover crops in the fall of 2023 that will be planted to an insurable crop in 2024. Eligible applicants will receive a premium discount of up to $5 per acre on the following year's crop insurance, depending on individual crop insurance policies, for every cover crop acre enrolled and verified in the program.


Applicants will be required to certify that their cover crops are approved through their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office before applying. Applicants will also need their current FSA-578 and federal crop insurance policy number(s) for the application.


The discount program was designed to promote additional acres of cover crops that are not covered by other state or federal incentives.


Pre-enrollment and applications are available at the Illinois Department of Agriculture's website.

Ameren Promoting Natural Gas Awareness

Ameren Illinois wants natural gas customers to remember a short and simple phrase as they switch on their furnace --- "Smell Gas? Leave Fast."


Natural gas is safe and efficient when used properly, but it is important to understand the hazards. If you suspect you smell natural gas, which also smells like rotten eggs follow these critical safety precautions. Immediately leave your home or business, taking all people and pets with you. Call Ameren at 1-800-755-5000.


Do not turn lights on or off, operate thermostats, garage door openers, appliances, or any device that could cause a spark. Even the smallest spark in the presence of natural gas can lead to a fire or explosion. Do not use a phone or light a match or use anything with a flame inside or near the building. Do not open windows or doors to ventilate the building. Do not reenter the property for any reason until Ameren gives the all-clear and that it is safe to enter.


In addition to natural gas leaks, Ameren Illinois wants customers to be aware of carbon monoxide risks and follow proper safety precautions. CO poisoning can occur when fossil fuels and other materials are burned without proper ventilation. CO detectors should be placed within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping and tested monthly. If anyone is in your home and they are ill with flu-like symptoms and you suspect CO poisoning, immediately go outside and call 9-1-1. You can also call the poison control center at 800-222-1222.


For more information visit https://ameren.com/safety


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