Local News

Clinton Grocery Store Owner Talks Inflation

Helping you afford groceries in trying times continues to be the goal of a Clinton grocery store owner.


On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Clinton Save-A-Lot owner Dave Jackson called the last four years the most challenging time he's seen after decades in the grocery business.



Jackson says several factors are contributing to inflation - not the least of which he says is retailers adding their own increase to goods.



If you shop at Save A Lot, you know you will be hard-pressed to find more affordability in other places and that is something Jackson remains committed to for his customers despite the challenges of the day.



Jackson has hesitated over the years to name retailers in his price comparisons but he has gotten to a point where he feels you should know what his prices are compared to the prices of other retailers in the area.



Jackson has many more thoughts on the continued challenges of making a profit while trying to keep his prices low as well as what he hears from customers about Save-A-Lot and what his outlook is for the industry in the months ahead. 

McLean County Museum of History Summer Camp Registration Underway

The McLean County Museum of History's summer camp registration is underway.


Candace Summers with the McLean County Museum of History indicates these camps are for students entering fifth, sixth, or seventh grades. She indicates they are adding half-day camps in July.



Summers says this year's camp has a great slate of opportunities from city interaction to archaeology day and even zoology.



Summers enjoy the Museum's summer history camps because it is an opportunity to give students the chance to tap into and grow their passions for history while learning about the opportunities they might have when they get older.



Visit mchistory.org for more information and registration information on this year's summer camps through the McLean County Museum of History. 

Rain Making Planting Difficult

A cool and wet week made continuing planting a challenge for Illinois producers.


State crop statistician Mark Schluessner says just three days were suitable for planting last week in Illinois. It was a cool and wet week.



Schluessner updates on planting progress for the last week...



Pasture conditions improved for the week but worsened from one year ago. Schluessner reminds motorists to be on the lookout for large planting implements on the roads in the weeks ahead. 

Illinois Pork Producers Promoting 'Bacon Day' in Illinois

Illinois celebrating Bacon Day at the state capital on May 1. Lana Shovlin is with the Illinois Pork Producers Association.



The first-ever “Bacon Day” in Illinois was recognized last year.

Gov. Pritzker Weighs In on College Campus Protests

Campuses around the county are now flashpoints when it comes to protests over Israel's on-going war in Gaza. Many of the student protests are asking for universities to divest from companies tied to Israel.


Governor JB Pritzker says his staff has been in contact with university presidents around the state and he wants the rights of both sides to be protected.



Student protesters at the University of Illinois remain on the quad.

Ameren Honored By Arbor Day Foundation

Ameren Illinois has been honored by the Arbor Day Foundation with the Treeline USA Award. The award, handed out yearly, honors Ameren's efforts in trimming, maintaining, and planting trees. Rick Johnson is a spokesperson for Ameren and he says to receive the Treeline USA designation, Ameren had to meet five criteria



Ameren takes pride in replacing any tree they are forced to cut down by planting a new tree in an area away from power lines.

Gov. Pritzker Remains Lukewarm on Bears Plans

The Bears made their draft picks this past weekend, but nothing remains set with their new stadium. Governor JB Pritzker says what’s been put on the table isn’t good enough and taxpayers deserve much more in return than what was made in the first proposal.



Last week, the Bears suggested they wanted lawmaker approval on some specific taxes by the end of May.

Clinton Community Education Foundation Bringing Back 'Derby Day'

Derby Day - the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Clinton Community Education Foundation - returns this weekend.


CCEF Treasurer Chris Shaffer says the event is centered around the Kentucky Derby and those who come out always get into it by dressing up Kentucky Derby garb.



According to Shaffer, during the event, there are 50/50 games, a silent auction and when the Kentucky Derby runs, they put on a big screen for everyone to see.



Shaffer reminds the CCEF is a support system for the school district that provides opportunities for students in various ways.



While Derby Day is the primary fundraiser for the CCEF, they also do a mailing campaign in the winter and Shaffer indicates those two fundraisers help them do all the things they do for the schools.



Derby Day is this Saturday, May 4. Shaffer directs anyone interested in attending to visit ccef15.org. You can also contact Shaffer for tickets at 309-826-1955 or Ruth Lowers at 217-519-2071. 

SSI and Benefits for Children With Disabilities

Social Security’s SSI program provides payments to children with disabilities whose families have limited income and resources. 


In order to qualify, the child must must have a medical condition that results in marked and severe functional limitations. Jack Myers with Socials Security explains this means the condition must very seriously limit the child’s activities and the child’s condition must be expected to last for at least a year or result in death. 



Income and assets will affect SSI eligibility so Social Security will want to talk with you about those things. According to Myers, if a child is under the age of 18 and lives at home, we may consider some of the parent’s income as the child’s income tho they do make allowances for other non-SSI eligible children living in the home when we consider parents’ income.



Learn more with the Social Security publication Benefits for Children With Disabilities available at www.ssa.gov or at www.ssa.gov/ssi.

State Climatologist on Summer Outlook

Charting the summer weather outlook for Illinois. State Climatologist Trent Ford has been looking at models.......



Meteorological summer runs June through August.

Sen. Durbin Reacts to Protests on U of I Campus

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on the U of I campus of Champaign Urbana have reestablished an encampment of tents on the quad.


Students had begun to take it down this weekend, only to rebuild it later on Sunday afternoon. The University says the tents violate campus rules. The protesters behind SJP want the university to divest investments in Israel.


The protests in Champaign Urbana mirror many around the county, others have turned more combative between police and protestors. US Senator Dick Durbin says protesting is a protected freedom.



Classes are expected to be running as normal on Monday.

Weather Service Promoting Weather Awareness

With severe weather expected throughout the Midwest this week, the National Weather Service is promoting weather awareness.


Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln says to keep an eye to the sky and be aware of the latest weather forecasts.



After a wet weekend, next week is predicted to be ideal as farmers look to find windows to get the crop in the ground through all this rain. 

Fifth Grade Night Coming Up at The Vault

Fifth-grade students interested in being a part of The Vault next year are encouraged to attend 'Fifth Grade Night' in May.


Jason Kitson is the Program Director at The Vault in Clinton and says this is an open-house style event for The Vault that allows fifth-grade students to learn more about The Vault.



The Fifth Grade Family Night is Monday, May 6 from 4-5:30 pm. Visit the thevaultclinton.org or find The Vault on Facebook or Instagram.

Encore Developmental Services Back on Track After Winter Flooding Incident

Encore Developmental Services is recovering from a January flooding incident after a burst pipe did extensive damage to its program spaces.


On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Stephanie Coonce, Executive Director of Encore Developmental Services, told Regional Radio the pipe burst in a closet and flooded the entire program area.



Coonce reminds the day services are a core part of the mission of Encore. The day programs give Encore clients a place to go during the day with several opportunities.



According to Coonce, while the flooding forced Encore to close its doors for nearly a month for clean-up and restoration, they were able to make some positive changes to the space to better serve its clients.



Despite not being able to offer services to clients during the month-long restoration, Coonce explains they tried to still have things for their clients to do to keep them active.



Coonce says Encore is fortunate that insurance covered most of the repairs for damage as they continue to deal with getting the facility up to code for the Illinois Fire Marshal's Office. 


We'll have more on that process with Coonce in the weeks ahead on Regional Radio. 

After Weekend Storms, Mild Weather Returning to Illinois

We will see a lot of rain this weekend and even some severe weather but once that moves off, we're in store for more spring-like weather next week. 


Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates next week will be a very pleasant week.



The above-normal temperature signal remains strong as we get into May and Shimon anticipates some very nice weather days in the month ahead.



In addition to some pleasant days in May, Shimon is predicting a very pleasant summer as we continue to see an above-normal temperature signal carry us all the way to next winter. 

Promoting Farmers Markets, Local Foods, and Agritourism

Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association promoting a great resource highlighting farmers market, local foods, and agritourism.



Raghela Scavuzzo serves as Illinois Farm Bureau Associate Director of Food Systems Development.

Warner Hospital Prepares for Next Big Project

Moving past the brick-and-mortar projects and to infrastructure projects is the focus of Warner Hospital officials.


That's according to CEO Paul Skowron who on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday told Regional Radio the emergency room renovation and the west side entrance will continue this year. In fact, he points out the west side entrance has experienced a setback in its timeline of completion.



For Skowron and his administration, this year is about moving past the things visible and onto their electronic medical records update.



Among those visible projects they hope to have completed very soon is the new storage unit going up on the east side of town between Wallace Fields and Love It Once More Thrift Store.



The grant is from the State of Illinois and Skowron points out it will become a storage space for emergency supplies.


As the physical projects conclude, the next big project is the electronic medical records project. Skowron points out this is necessary on several fronts. The current system the hospital has is outdated but it will also bring them in line with the larger hospital systems.



According to Skowron, the new electronic medical records software will also allow patients to make appointments and even get access to their own records.



Skowron indicates that effort will get started very soon and will take time to have in place.


He notes they have financially been preparing for this for a couple of years knowing this was going to eventually be necessary. 

DeWitt County Has New EMA Director

DeWitt County has a new EMA Director.


Board Chair Dan Matthews indicates the Board approved the hiring of a new EMA Director after Micah Gallardo resigned for a new opportunity. Will Pavelek takes over the position starting May 20. 



While the County awaits the new director to take over, Matthews indicates Gallardo is still stepping in where he can. Matthews wishes Gallardo well in his new professional opportunity.



Matthews points out Gallardo started in DeWitt County right out of school. He feels it is a nice pipeline they have created to establish relationships with local universities to give young people looking for a jumpstart to their careers the opportunity to work in DeWitt County. 

DNR Sends Out Camping Reminders

If you enjoy getting the RV or camper out to Illinois campgrounds, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is sending out camping reminders.


DNR Conservation Police Captain John Williamson says the camping season is already underway with some warmer days and nights already here and the thick of the camping season is about to kick into high gear.



According to Capt. Williamson, the Department runs into an instance or two about every year because of someone who takes the camper out for the first time.



Capt. Williamson gives campers credit noting they are generally very clean guests to the State's parks, leaving their spaces the way they found them.



Visit dnr.illinois.gov for the latest in camping regulations at your local park or a park you may be planning to visit this year. 

Lots of Hail Already This Spring

Illinois dealing with an active spring weather pattern. There has been some tornadic activity, but hail has been the stat leader thus far says State Climatologist Trent Ford.



There is a threat for some severe weather along with heavy rain in parts of Illinois this weekend.

Ameren Warns of Problems with Mylar Balloons


Mylar balloons have grown in popularity over the years and while there is nothing wrong with that, when they aren't disposed of properly they can be trouble for power lines. Mylar balloons have a metallic coating that conducts electricity. Thus when one of these balloons comes into contact with a live power line, it can take out the power for the surrounding area and create a hazard for those called in to repair the outage. Brian Bretsch from Ameren Illinois lays out the stats on Mylar Balloon outages.



Proper disposal means deflating them after use, Some Mylar Balloons can actually be deflated and reinflated for reuse, but if you have no need to keep them, you should make sure they are deflated or popped and not allowed to simply float away.

Storms Coming Again This Weekend

Severe storms are in the forecast for the weekend.


On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln told Regional Radio storms are going to dominate the lower midwest into the weekend when storms become likely in Illinois.



As severe weather rolls in, Shimon reminds to be aware of the terminology when notices and warnings are issued. 



This week is trending to end up a little cooler. Shimon notes though, April is still a degree above normal for its average temperature.



Looking to May, temperatures and precipitation are looking to be above normal. We'll hear more from Shimon on that in the days ahead on Regional Radio. 

DeWitt County Sheriff Discusses Digital Communications

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker and his department are turning to digital communication and it will limit how much the public can consume on the scanner.


Sheriff Walker explains going digital allows them to establish a secure channel to communicate. He explains it is a safety measure for responding officers to scenes.



According to Sheriff Walker, the phenomenon of the public listening to scanners has taken on a different level of challenge in 2024. He explains people will listen to the scanners and not only draw conclusions about a situation with incomplete information but then share that on social media - creating a bigger issue.



Sheriff Walker says the social media component of speculation during incidents is particularly detrimental to law enforcement and its efforts. He indicates what is happening on the police communication lines is often only part of what is being shared among first responders.



The Sheriff's office is currently in the midst of an upgrade of its communication equipment. Sheriff Walker says they have a few hurdles to clear but believes it will be an overall positive for communications among DeWitt County first responders. 

University of Illinois Extension Program for Older 4-H Members to Learn About Illinois Soybean Association

Next Tuesday, Illinois 4-H members are invited to a statewide webinar that will promote the benefits of the Illinois Soybean Association.


Terri Miller-Casey is the Extension Director for the U of I Extension in Logan, Menard, and Sangamon Counties. She explains this is geared toward older youth but it will provide a look into the role with the Illinois Soybean Association and others like it.



Miller-Casey indicates a lot of young people may not be aware of the important role a group like the Illinois Soybean Association has on agriculture and further - the professional opportunities they offer.



That webinar is from 6 pm to 7 pm on Tuesday, April 30. Register through your local University of Illinois Extension office. 

Gov. Pritzker Discusses Pension Fix

The state’s two-tiered pension system might be accruing retirement benefits that break federal law.


14 years ago, the state changed pension benefits that new employees would earn, but those benefits must be as generous as Social Security. That might not be the case and a fix for Tier 2 employees might be needed. That won’t come without additional state dollars being spent to make sure benefits fit federal safe harbor requirements. Governor JB Pritzker says he understands that the current system might need a fix.



There hasn't been an official cost connected to any possible fix for Tier 2 pensions.

Frost Last Weekend A Scare for Specialty Growers

A frost concern for Illinois specialty growers this past weekend. Jenna Spychal (spy-chul) is with Jonamac Orchard in Malta in DeKalb County. She spoke with RFD Radio on Monday.



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

BBB Car Wash Cautions

The Better Business Bureau says it received hundreds of complaints from consumers in Illinois and Missouri last year about automatic car washes. 


Some report damage that is usually not covered by the businesses, as they state, “not responsible for damage.” In other cases. BBB Investigator Don O’Brien says subscription packages have come under fire.



Other tips include researching any business and its owners carefully before paying any money. Visit the business website to see if it has a list of vehicle restrictions. 


Many car washes will only accept vehicles of a certain size in their automatic bays. Make sure to understand any subscription plans. And pay by credit card in case you need to challenge the purchase.

City of Clinton to Embark on New Strategic Plan

City of Clinton leadership will soon begin forming a new strategic plan.


City Administrator Taylor Baxter tells Regional Radio this is something that needs to be done for the community to start to move forward. He feels it is exciting to think about the future of the community.



According to Baxter, this will be an extensive process where they take time to hear from a lot of people. 



Baxter hopes to have a good mix of individuals with varying perspectives on the community. He hopes to have parents with kids in the schools, teachers, school leaders, and many more from the community at the table.



Clinton's last strategic plan was so long ago Baxter is unable to find a document attributed to it. He notes while he couldn't find a document for it, there have been some other efforts with universities to outline a roadmap but no official strategic planning effort. 

Piatt County Sheriff Secures NRA Grant

Piatt County Sheriff Mark Vogelzang is celebrating a grant his department recently received from the NRA.


Sheriff Vogelzang explains they were able to secure around $900 for ammunition to train with.



According to Sheriff Vogelzang, an annual qualification is required. He notes while that is not a high bar to reach to attain that qualification, they do a lot to train.



Sheriff Vogelzang indicates their range time has to be coordinated with the Monticello police department - which has its own range. 



These grants were the first time the Sheriff's office has taken advantage of funding from the NRA but Sheriff Vogelzang indicates the NRA is very active in a lot of firearm educational opportunities for youth. 

Mt. Pulaski Joins Handful of Logan County Schools in ECG Screening

A Logan County school district is the latest to introduce heart testing for its students.


Fred Lamkey is the Superintendent of Mt. Pulaski Schools and on the WHOW Morning Show Monday told Regional Radio this is something that has been happening in Logan County schools and Olympia.



According to Lamkey, this is a volunteer test done on youth in the district and provides them with a quick screening for any irregularities.



The initiative is titled 'Who Do You Play For' and he looks forward to it being an ongoing effort in Mt. Pulaski. 

Teacher Abuse Legislation Passes House


State Representative Amy Elik has been working on legislation designed to crack down on sexual abuse by educators and authority figures in schools. 


The House passed the measure last Friday that will do just that. The Illinois General Assembly has previously created stronger protections for school children 17 years and younger, but Elik said it is currently not illegal for an educator or staff member to have sexual contact with an 18-year-old student.



Elik believes school staff who sexually abuse 18-year-old students should be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for their first offense and a Class 4 felony for any repeat offenses. House Bill 4241 passed unanimously on a 107-0 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration

Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation Class of 25 Making Progress


The Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation Class of 25 is making progress. Brad Suhling of Carlinville is with Prairie Farms Dairy. He’s participating in the program.



To learn about the participating in the Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation Class of 27, visit agleadership.org.

Gov. Pritzker Defends Funding for Migrant Care

Chicago seems poised to contribute $70 million to the care of migrants living in the city. The overall cost is expected to be over $300 million this year. The state and Cook County have already contributed tens of millions for going care. Governor JB Pritzker says migrants are legally in the United States and deserve proper care.


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Pritzker says the chaos in the system was and is being caused by bus loads full of people being sent to Chicago by state’s like Texas who have little regard for them.

Gov. Pritzker Talks Bears Stadium

It’s shaping up to be a possible franchise-defining week for the Chicago Bears. The team has the first overall pick in the draft, and they are prepared to deliver a plan for a new lakefront stadium on Wednesday. Governor JB Pritzker continues to say he remains largely against funneling public dollars to help sports teams build new stadiums.



The Bears hold the first and ninth overall picks in the draft – that happens on Thursday night.

DeWitt County Board Chair Provides Details on Marina Sale

Last month, the DeWitt County Board surprised many by approving the sale of the Clinton Lake Marina to an outfit out of Sullivan.


Many viewed the Department of Natural Resources as the favorite to be the next owner of the marina but Board Chair Dan Matthews says DNR did not provide a very comprehensive proposal and he felt there were better proposals from others in the process.



According to Matthews, the Board last month set conditions for the sale of the marina.



Among those conditions is the first right of refusal should the new owner sell the marina in the first five years. Some have questioned that condition because it leaves open the possibility after five years, the owner could sell the property off and the marina would be shut down.



According to Matthews, the sale is going to take some time and there are still some things to iron out before it becomes official. He notes in the meantime, there is going to still be activity out at the marina as the upcoming boating season soon kicks into high gear.



For Matthews, having someone own the Marina is going to mean that group will have more skin in the game and he believes having the County out of the Marina business will allow more timely improvements and quicker decision-making. He felt the way the government operates slowed down progress at the marina. 

Preparing For Next Tax Season With Social Seurity Business Services Online

Tax day may be in the rearview mirror but Social Security has some things for business leaders to keep an eye out for already for next year.


Employer wage reports were due to Social Security at the end of January and IRS regulations reduced the electronic filing threshold from 250 W-2s to 10 informational returns. Jack Myers with Social Security says more employers now need to take advantage of Social Security’s Business Services Online. Some companies/organizations handle the wage reporting themselves, others hire accountants or payroll services to handle it. 



Once that connection is made, you will then request services you would like to perform for your employer in BSO. Myers adds some of the options include, W-2/W2c Online, Wage file upload, the AccuWage Online, and Social Security Number Verification Service.



Additionally, Myers notes to use Business Services Online, we now require authentication through your mySocialSecurity account. Therefore, you’ll need to establish or link your mySocialSecurity account to Business Services Online.



Myers encourages employers to look ahead to next year and get your BSO access squared away now, before you need it next January. It can take some time to get everything set up. Especially if you wait until the peak time, so visit www.ssa.gov/bso today to get started.


There are helpful resources available via the “Customer support for wage reporting”  link on the BSO page. 

Illinois Farm Bureau Promoting Agritourism Webinar Series

As a result of listening sessions held with the agritourism industry, Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association have developed three webinars with industry insiders to engage farmers in a variety of topics. The agritourism miniseries will be held this spring says IFB Associate Director of Food Systems Development Raghela Scavuzzo.



More information at ilfb.org under the "Get Involved" tab.

DeWitt County Board Chair Weighs Has Continued Frustration With Enel Green Energy

The DeWitt County Board Chair has continued frustration with Enel Green Power over the curtailment of the Alta Farms II wind farm during severe weather.


The topic came up at Thursday night's DeWitt County Board Chair Dan Matthews told Regional Radio on the WHOW Morning Show Friday it is frustrating because Enel has only provided a written response to questions they have.


For Matthews, having the conversation face-to-face would be much better and would demonstrate a strong partnership. Having a face-to-face conversation is something he's wanted for some time.


At the Thursday night County Board meeting, Board member Joe Witte brought the topic up wanting to hear from Enel about how it curtails the turbines during weather events. 

University of Illinois Nutrition Expert Promotes Including Kitchen During Spring Cleaning

A nutrition educator at the University of Illinois Extension is offering some tips for spring cleaning and including your kitchen in your efforts.


Caitlin Mellendorf is a nutrition educator at the U of I Extension in DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties and says deep cleaning your kitchen might include pulling out appliances and cleaning the area around them as well as doing a thorough evaluation of your refrigerator or freezer and its contents.



Mellendorf encourages getting that grill out giving it a good cleaning before you throw food on it. 

City of Clinton to Address Downtown Sidewalks


Sidewalks in downtown Clinton will be addressed as part of an upcoming series of projects that is anticipated to be approved by the Clinton City Council in May. 


City Administrator Taylor Baxter says this is something that has been needed and now is the time to take care of these.



According to Baxter, some areas of the square are in desperate need of attention so they will prioritize the square and do them a little bit at a time. 



Baxter calls the project a significant investment and will be paid with dollars from the downtown TIF fund. 

Clinton Chamber of Commerce Readying for May Days

A busy spring season for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce wraps up in about another month with one of the biggest fundraisers of the year.


The annual May Days Festival is May 16-19 and Chamber Director Janice Peterson is busy getting final preparations together for one of Clinton's most popular events.



Last year, wristbands that were sold for the carnival sold out well in advance of the festival and some in the community could not purchase them at a discounted rate. Peterson says this year, they've doubled the number of wristbands they will sell.



The Chamber is seeking a non-profit to help with ticket sales inside the ticket booths at the carnival during the festival. In years past, Second Chance for Pets has volunteered but Peterson indicates they are unable to this year so they are looking for a non-profit to take their place.



Follow the Chamber of Commerce on Facebook for more on May Days as it approaches. Peterson is hoping to have some new offerings this year along with traditional entertainment and of course the carnival. 


The wristbands go on sale on Wednesday, May 1. 

Dock at Clinton Lake Removed by State of Illinois

A dock on Clinton Lake was removed by the State of Illinois.


Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Captain John Williamson says the dock on the west side access ramp has been taken out. 



The State plans to rebuild the dock in that spot but it will not be complete until next year. Capt. Williamson says once it is done it will be nice but in the meantime, reminds boaters, to find another ramp if you need the dock.



The summer boating season has already begun. Capt. Williamson indicates they had a very busy weekend on Clinton Lake last weekend and anticipates the nicer days having more and more boats out as we ramp up towards the big Memorial Day weekend - one of the busiest if not the busiest on the lake. 

DeWitt County Board Discusses Next Step in Marina Sale, Wind Farm Curtailment Issues

A brief meeting of the DeWitt County Board was highlighted by brief discussions on a variety of topics.


If you've noticed curtailment issues with the Alta Farms II wind farm during severe events - you're not alone. DeWitt County Board member Joe Witte called on the Board to bring Enel representatives to have a discussion about its protocols during severe weather.



DeWitt County State's Attorney Dan Markwell gave an update to the Board on the latest with the sale of the Marina. The Board approved the sale of the marina last month and Board Chair Dan Matthews says they will still need to have a special meeting soon to get the agreement approved.



Finally, the County is seeking to move off its agreement with its current IT provider and go with someone else. County Clerk Kari Harris told the Board they are not getting the service they once did.



In regards to the IT contract, County Administrator DeeDee Rentmeister told the Board they met with individuals from the City of Clinton and a few other local entities about the issue and they too agreed it was time to move off the IT company collectively.


Additionally, Harris and Rentmeister say they have been contacted by other Counties in Illinois about their experiences with this company and other places are reporting similar issues. 

Clinton City Council Approves FY25 Budget

The Clinton City Council approved the Fiscal Year 2025 budget Tuesday night.


City Administrator Taylor Baxter believes there are a lot of positive things to tout with this year's budget. On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, he told Regional Radio that among them is the fact revenues for the City are up.



While revenues are up, Baxter points out costs are also going up. Inflation has a lot to do with it. He explains they have to dip into reserves to cover some major projects that are on the books for this budget.



According to Baxter, you will not be happy to hear your water bills is increasing again. It was late last year, the DeWitt County Sanitation District announced they would be increasing their fees for a new plant and now the City of Clinton will increase its rates due to rising costs.



For many years now, the City's pensions for police and fire have been well funded and it has been something city officials have touted. Baxter applauds City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter for his diligence and foresight to make sure those funds are healthy.



Another driving for the rising costs for this upcoming budget is the latest increase in minimum wage which touches so many departments within the City.


Despite some of the tough things to hear, Baxter says the City of Clinton is in a very sound position financially and credits City departments for diligent budgeting and setting the City up for long-term success. 

Clinton Elementary School Has New Principal

Last month, the Clinton Board of Education approved the resignation of first-year Clinton Elementary School Principal Kelly Morrison.


Earlier this month, the Board of Education approved the hiring of Paul Ranstead. On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Superintendent Curt Nettles told Regional Radio Ranstead stood out among the other candidates for the position.



While the applicant pool for the position was not a large number, Nettles believes they had quality candidates with several who would have made great principals at Clinton Elementary School.



Nettles had high praise for Ranstead saying they searched high and low and found no one that could say anything bad about him. Nettles believes Ranstead will be a great leader.



Many may question the longevity of Ranstead in the district as this will be the building's third principal in three years. While he recognizes that is accurate, he says you know when you've got a good administrator. 



Ranstead comes to Clinton from Decatur where he is an elementary principal. 

Gov. Pritzker Weighs in On Logan County Prisons' Future

The Governor is still pushing for nearly a billion dollars to rebuild two prisons.


JB Pritzker wants Statesville and Logan to be torn down and replaced. Not everyone is on board with what they claim are many unknowns. Public input will be coming at hearings, but the Governor says both have long outlived their usefulness.



A press release from the Department of Corrections says Statesville in Joliet will be torn down and rebuilt. The release doesn’t specify if the Logan facility would be rebuilt on its existing footprint in Logan County, near Lincoln. It’s one of two prisons dedicated to female inmates.

Farmer City Exploring Regulating Its Own Zoning Ordinances

Farmer City is exploring regulating its own zoning ordinances.


City Manager Sue McLaughlin indicates the County of DeWitt is the governing body for zoning in Farmer City but they are finding out what it would take to make that happen for themselves.



According to McLaughlin, the process of adopting ordinances already in place at the County level and making them Farmer City's ordinances is not difficult.



McLaughlin points to some of the growth happening in the community as its primary reason for wanting to take charge of its own zoning.



The City of Farmer City is looking for members for its zoning board of appeals. She notes that would be a board that meets about twice a year. If interested, reach out to Farmer City Hall for more information. 

University of Illinois Extension in Springfield Advocating for Funding, Support

The University of Illinois Extension was in Springfield this week advocating for funding for its services.


On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Terri Miller-Casey, Extension Director for Logan, Menard, and Sangamon Counties, indicates she was among several Extension personnel getting in front of Illinois lawmakers advocating for its services and benefits to its communities.



One of the messages from Miller-Casey and her peers is the fact the University of Illinois system and other public university campuses are also very important to their operations.



Extension has many great local and state programs coming up that are always free and many are even archived on their website, extension.illinois.edu. 


You can Google search to find your local Extension office. We'll have more with Miller-Casey on some of those programs coming up soon on Regional Radio. 

Local Fire Crews Respond to Monday Barn Fire Near Wapella

Wapella fire was called to a rural shed fire on Monday afternoon off US Highway 51 between Clinton and Wapella just after 3:30 pm.


Flames were through the roof when crews arrived and crews responded with a master stream of water. Water supply became an issue for a short time before crews were able to recover a steady stream. 


Wapella Fire was assisted at the scene by the Clinton Fire Department and Randolph Fire Department. 


The roof of the structure had fallen and the Village of Wapella provided a backhoe to remove the roof from inside the structure. 


The fire was extinguished without any further damage to adjacent buildings.

Authorities estimate another barn structure was within approximately 30 feet and additional concerns of power connecting the two buildings. 


Crews were on scene for approximately three hours. 


No injuries were reported in the incident and the building and its contents are a total loss. 


The cause of the fire is accidental. 


Authorities thank Dewitt County EMS, the DeWitt Sheriff's Office, The Village of Wapella, and DeWitt County CenCom for their assistance in this event and all the others they encounter. 

DNR Issues Reminders About Mushroom, Turkey Hunting

The turkey hunting season opens this week in Illinois and that means an annual overlap of turkey hunters and mushroom hunters.


On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Capt. John Williamson told Regional Radio the overlaps can cause quite a stir at Clinton Lake.



According to Capt. Williamson, if you're going to mushroom hunt on State property, you need to make sure it is open for mushroom hunting.



Capt. Williamson reminds the DNR app and website have access to a lot of things outdoorsmen may need like getting fishing licenses and regulations for your local recreation area. 


Visit dnr.illinois.gov or find the DNR app by searching 'Illinois Outdoors' on the Apple Store or Google Play. 

June Through August Looking Overall Pleasant, Wet

An above-average temperature trend has dominated the midwest this spring and while it is carrying into the summer months, we're not looking at a record summer for heat.


Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicates we could see more storm activity than usual this summer but in terms of extreme heat, nothing he is seeing would suggest we're in for an unbearable summer.



The El Nino of the winter has moved on and the planet is starting to transition to a La Nina trend for the winter. Shimon indicates we'll see our share of very hot summer days, but it won't be prolonged summer heat.



April is trending above normal for temperatures the rest of the month and the rest of the spring remains in an above-normal temperature and precipitation trend - so will get our share of April showers.

Illinois Farmer Brings Attention to Estate Tax Legislation

An effort to update estate tax law in Illinois is gaining traction. Bi-partisan legislation has been filed this spring called the Family Farm Preservation Act. Whiteside County farmer Jeff Brooks of Prophetstown testified on behalf of the measure in front of the Illinois House Revenue Committee last Friday.



The legislation has 23 sponsors in the Illinois House and 20 in the State Senate.

OSF Healthcare Bringing Attention to Autism in Adults

Cases of autism in adults are underreported. That's the word from OSF Healthcare and Dr. Theresa Regan...



It can be harder to diagnose autism as an adult as it intersects with other conditions. Nevertheless, Dr. Regan is hoping that more open discussion of autism among adults will get people to see their doctor and discuss the topic.

Clinton Chamber Director Reacts to Last Month's Business Expo

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce annual business expo saw a lower turnout and lower participation this year.


While that's the admission of Executive Director Janice Peterson, she believes there are things they can do next year to rebound and return the expo to the great event it was for many years.



According to Peterson, the survey they send out that follows up the expo with the exhibitors is asking for the time to be scaled back more. This year the Chamber scaled back the length of the expo by 30 minutes. Peterson also heard positive things from exhibitors.



The public also suggested the Chamber offer some sort of food or concession at future expos. She thought that was a good suggestion.


She anticipates changes for next year and hopes to see more participation from both exhibitors and the community. 

Community Action's 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' Comes Up April 27

The biggest fundraiser of the year for a central Illinois non-profit is later this month.


Breann Titus is the Director of Agency Impact with Community Action and says their 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' event comes up on April 27. It is a night of music, food, and fun.



Titus believes two things make 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' a must-attend for their supporters and it's the food and the casual nature of the night. She says they feed their supporters great food and offer a relaxed atmosphere.



Cheeseburger in Paradise is a fundraiser for Community Action that helps them bridge the gap between what grants they receive and where those grants end but the community still needs support.



Titus says there are still tickets available for this year's event. Find information at capcil.info or find Community Action on Facebook. 

Repaying Overpayments From Social Security

Last week on Regional Radio, we highlighted options for anyone on Social Security who may have received an overpayment from the agency.


It doesn't happen often but Jack Myers at Social Security says there are options for those who do and there's a reason for some of the changes made that were highlighted last week. Among those include Social Security reframing guidance and procedures so that the burden of proof shifts away from the claimant in determining whether there is any evidence that the claimant was at fault in causing the overpayment. 



Reporting responsibilities vary depending on the type of benefit you receive. Myers points to circumstances like supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based benefit - therefore any change to your income, resources, or living arrangement could affect eligibility and should be reported to Social Security. Additionally, Social Security benefits that are based on disability have a monthly earned income limit. 



Myers adds receipt of a pension based on work that was not taxed by Social Security will most likely impact your Social Security benefit and should be reported.



There is a lot to consider on this topic but again, Myers points anyone wanting more specific questions answered to contact your local Social Security office and speak directly to a representative. Or visit the 'Overpayment Fact Sheet' available in the publications section of www.ssa.gov.

What's next for SAF?

Coming off the inaugural Illinois Sustainable Aviation Fuel Conference, organizers are determining what’s next. Here’s I-L Corn’s Public Policy Manager Rachel Dame.



The initial Illinois S-A-F Conference was last month in Lisle.

Dealing With Persistent Robocalls

Robocalls are back in big numbers after a decline during the pandemic and are presenting a possible threat to us all. 


If you answer your phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live voice on the other end, it’s a robocall. Scammers often use this method to try and get your personal information, money, or both. Better Business Bureau Investigator Don O’Brien says there are some exceptions to the no-call registry.



If you haven’t given a company permission to call you, then these marketing calls are likely illegal. The best way to avoid the pitfalls presented by these scammers, O’Brien says, is to just hang up the phone.

National Weather Service Promoting Outdoor Sports Safety


Severe weather can pop up at any time, including in the middle of a youth sports event.


That's why the National Weather Service is encouraging organizers of events this spring and summer to have plans in place for getting players, coaches, and spectators to safety when storms pop up around their events.



That's Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln who points those event planners to weather.gov for planning resources, weather forecasts, and much more.

Central Illinois Non-Profit Online Auction Proving to Be Huge Success

A central Illinois non-profit will once again offer an online auction as part of its biggest fundraiser of the year.


The online auction opens next week for Community Action's 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' fundraiser. Director of Community Impact, Breann Titus indicates the online auction was a byproduct of having to cancel the event during COVID.



On the WHOW Morning Show Friday, Titus told Regional Radio the online auction has a good mix of simple packages and more elaborate offerings.



'Cheeseburger in Paradise' comes up on Saturday, April 27. The online auction opens on Tuesday morning. Visit capcil.info for more on the online auction or tickets to 'Cheeseburger in Paradise'. 

DeWitt County Sheriff Highlights Radio Upgrades

The DeWitt County Sheriff's Office is in the midst of a radio upgrade.


Sheriff Mike Walker explains the current radio system they have is starting to become too outdated to be effective and they are going to an improved system that is similar to something they had 30 years ago.



According to Sheriff Walker, the new radio system will be funded with ARPA funds. He notes this will not only benefit the Sheriff's office but most first responder agencies in the County.



Many have questioned why the Sheriff's Department wants to go to digital radios but Sheriff Walker says it is becoming an issue of officer safety. It's a trend that many law enforcement agencies are going to nationwide.



The digital communication system for the Sheriff's office leads to many questions about those who listen to police scanners. The Sheriff has more thoughts on that and we'll hear more from the Sheriff next week on Regional Radio. 

Social Security Highlights Changes in Overpayment Policy

Social Security announced some changes to how Social Security collects overpayment and options that people have if they get overpaid.


If you are overpaid, you will receive an overpayment notice and you will have a few options. On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Jack Myers at Social Security told Regional Radio you can repay the overpayment. If you agree with the overpayment and are currently receiving benefits you can make payment through monthly benefit withholding, or a repayment plan.  If you are not currently receiving benefits you can make full or partial payments using www.pay.gov, your bank’s online bill pay option, or writing a check. 



If you do not respond to an overpayment notice, the default withholding will be 10% of their benefit instead of 100% as it has been in the past. Myers notes this will be similar to the way SSI overpayments are collected.



Even with an SSA-634 and proof of your income and expenses, the lowest repayment plan we can approve is $10 per month. According to Myers, Social Security does not charge interest on overpayment debt. If you disagree with the facts of the overpayment or believe the amount is incorrect you can request a review of the decision.



If you believe you did not cause the overpayment, the overpayment is unfair, or you can’t afford to repay the overpayment, you can request to relieve some or all of the amount due.



You can visit or call your local Social Security office or 1-800-772-1213.


There's much more to consider on this topic and we'll have more on that next week on Regional Radio. 

More Farm Machinery on Roads as Spring Planting Picks Up

Farmers across the state should have a good window for planting Friday through early next week with dry conditions and warm temperatures in the forecast. A few reminders from Illinois Farm Bureau Associate Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Rodney Knittel (hard K).



Only two percent of the state’s corn and soybean crops are in the ground.

'Coolest Thing Made in Illinois' Names Winner

The coolest thing made in Illinois is a million-pound truck. 


The Illinois Manufacturers Association puts on a yearly contest to find the item and this year it’s a mining truck from Komatsu. Dan Funcannon, a VP with the company says it’s a great honor to win.



The truck can haul 400 tons and was one of more than 200 entries in the 5th annual contest.

Acting Director Named for Illinois Department of Insurance

A new leader is coming for the Illinois Department of Insurance.


This week Governor JB Pritzker announced that State Senator Ann Gillespie from Arlington Heights would take over as the acting director of the agency. Currently the Governor is pushing for broad changes to the regulation of the health insurance industry. Pritzker says there isn’t a connection to her entry to the position and his proposed changes.



The Health Care Protection act if passed would allow the department to approve or reject health insurance rate increases for some plans and insurers.

DCDC Director Discusses Investment In CEO Program, Benefits

The DeWitt County Development Council has long been a partner with a local group that gives high school students an immersive experience in the world of owning and operating a business. 


DCDC Executive Director Curt Homann explains they have invested in the Central Illinois CEO program since day 1 and believe it is an investment worth making in the next generation of business owners.



According to Homann, the CEO program offers not only business lessons to young people in our school systems but also gives them new perspectives on their outlooks on the communities they live in.



Homann says one of the benefits of the CEO program is the fact students are introduced to so many opportunities and businesses in their communities. He also believes that students having a safe place to fail creates a great learning environment for them. 

Piatt County Sheriff's Office Continues March Towards Improved Radio Communications

A challenge for Piatt County authorities in recent years has been communication coverage from top to bottom of the County.


That problem continues its correction as Sheriff Mark Vogelzang calls it a big project that continues on with an eye towards having everything done by this summer. 


The Sheriff reminds they have had communication troubles in various parts of Piatt County because of its size. He says this upgrade will allow them better coverage from top to bottom.


The Department of Justice provided a grant that has helped them cover the roughly $650,000 and it has taken over two years to get to where they are at. 

Special Railroad Exhibit Coming to Decatur Area Arts Council

You are invited to the Decatur Area Arts Council this summer for a special exhibit that will highlight the railroad system in Decatur and central Illinois.


Jerry Johnson is the Executive Director of the Arts Council and says if you have artifacts that tie into the railroad system of central Illinois, they hope you might be willing to temporarily loan those to the Arts Council for this exhibit. 



Johnson indicates they already have some great things in the collection for the exbibit but your item or artifact could be just what they need.



Again, the exhibit coordinator is Hannah Lyons. Visit DecaturArts.org for more information on contacting the Museum. Also find them on social media on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. 

IRS Tax Filing Deadline is Monday

The IRS Filing deadline is Monday, April 15th, and some people are not ready for it. Those who are in need of more time, for any reason, can go to IRS.gov and fill out one form to get an extension.



Cesar Yabor (Say-Zar Yah-Bore) with the IRS also reminds Illinois taxpayers that Free File is available through the IRS for anyone still in need of filing their taxes.

Planting Window Friday Through Tuesday

Some warmer temperatures on the way this weekend and a stretch of dry weather. The window should allow for spring planting progress, according to Freese-Notis Weather meteorologist Paul Otto, who spoke Tuesday with RFD Radio.



Only two-percent of the state's corn and soybean crop is in the ground.

Illinois Farm Families Hoping for Momentum From 'We Are 96' Campaign

Illinois Farm Families hoping to continue the momentum stemming from the successful “We are the 96” campaign. Illinois Farm Bureau Consumer Engagement Manager Gracie Pierson says data on reach is still being compiled for the campaign, which began with a Super Bowl ad in 2023 and ended with a Super Bowl ad in 2024.


More on the Illinois Farm Families collaboration at watchusgrow.org.

Determining Cash Rent

There are plenty of questions about determining cash rent. It's something Kevin Brooks is asked about often. He serves as University of Illinois Extension educator in farm business management and marketing.



Brooks manages a blog called Farm Coach, which aims to help farmers and landowners navigate the rapidly changing farm management environment.

Central Illinois Congressman Advocates forr Nutrition Program in Next Farm Bill


Western Illinois Congressman Eric Sorenson plans to vote no on a new farm bill unless the nutrition program is in the budget.


The current farm bill, signed in 2018, was extended through 2024 due to lawmakers failing to reach common ground. Sorensen says failing to put nutrition programs into a new farm bill could devastate his district.



The current extension of the farm bill expires on September 30.


Finding common ground before the general election could be difficult as the Democrats control the Senate and Republicans control the House.

Tow Truck Legislation Filed in Springfield

House Bill 4255 is heading to the Illinois House of Representatives for debate, which appears to be good news for tow truck operators. It would allow tow trucks to utilize white, green, or white and green oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights in combination with amber oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights.


The theory is the different colored lights would make those vehicles easier to see, especially during the daylight hours. Sponsored by Republican State Representative Amy Elik of Alton, she says this legislation honors a driver killed last year on Interstate 255.



Sixteen other states, including neighboring Missouri, allow colors other than amber on tow trucks.

Proton Therapy Being Offered Outside Chicago

The OSF Healthcare Cancer Institute in Princeton welcomed its first proton therapy patient since opening in February of this year. Samantha Rux from OSF Healthcare says it's a big deal for patients in Central Illinois as this type of therapy is being offered for the first time in Illinois outside of Chicago.



Proton Therapy is a targeted treatment that is aimed at specifically targeting cancerous growths while leaving healthy cells and tissue intact. Radiation therapy can have the side effect of harming healthy tissue, proton therapy is a treatment that can attack cancer more directly.

Spring May Be Here For Good

Spring may just be here for good.


As we embark on a weather week that is trending above normal. Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln says we could see some mid-week rain but then it's back to beautiful springtime weather



All indications point to spring finally arriving. Shimon says to give even more evidence we may have turned the corner, we're trending above normal for temperatures for the rest of the month, and we've started the month well below normal for temperatures.



According to Shimon, the rest of April and May are looking wet. It leaves him concerned for farmers and the time they will need to plant this year's crop.



The positive spring outlook is setting up what could be an ideal summer. We'll hear more from Shimon later this week and next week on the outlooks for summer in Illinois.

Farmer City Looking for Pool Manager

Last summer, the City of Farmer City had a collaboration with the Clinton YMCA for the management of its pool. 


It was a great partnership both entities seemed happy with but due to unforeseen circumstances, the partnership will not happen this year. That's according to City Manager Sue McLaughlin who - on the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday - told Regional Radio the city now needs a manager for the pool this summer.



It was just a few summers ago, Farmer City could not open its pool because of a staff shortage. At this point, McLaughlin is not ready to say they will not open for the season because there's plenty of time to find someone.



The Farmer City pool will target a Memorial Day weekend opening. McLaughlin indicates they will have to determine what staffing looks like as they get to the start of school again in the fall for the pool's status later in the season. 



McLaughlin points anyone interested in being a lifeguard this summer or managing the pool for a few months to check out the City of Farmer City Facebook page for more information.

DeWitt County Sheriff Recruiting Corrections Personnel

DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker says his patrol staff is currently at capacity but he remains in need of corrections officers.


On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, the Sheriff told Regional Radio the staffing situation, particularly for its patrol personnel, is getting better. Right now they have everyone out of the academy and out on the streets of DeWitt County.



According to Sheriff Walker, they have adjusted their requirements for a corrections officer in an attempt to try to reach a bigger pool of potential applicants. He touts the position's starting salary as well as its pathway to advancement in law enforcement.



Sheriff Walker explains the corrections officer job has evolved but it essentially boils down to security at the courthouse and working with the inmates in the jail. He believes it is a good introduction for that individual who would like to work the streets in a law enforcement agency. 



Sheriff Walker has been contacting local schools to inform them of the opportunity for students looking to enter the workforce. He also used the timing of the closure of RR Donnelly to appeal to anyone looking for new opportunities.


Find more information on all things employment within the Sheriff's office at dewittsheriff.com. 

DeWitt County Museum Hosting Special Event This Sunday

A history of the railroad in the US will be the theme of a special event at the DeWitt County Museum this Sunday.


Joey Long is the Director of the CH Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum and indicates Mike Matejka is renowned for his insightful presentations and brings to life the captivating narrative of “What’s Coming Down the Line? The Railroad in the American Mind.”



According to Long, the railroad meant a great deal to Clinton and DeWitt County for generations. She feels this is a good opportunity to see one of the permenant railroad exhibits in the barn of the Museum. 



In the museum's display, Long highlights some of the artifacts at the museum for its display including an unloading contraption that a pair of men from DeWitt County came up with but unfortunately, it never caught on in the industry.



The event is free and is Sunday, April 14 at 2 pm in the carriage barn. Long indicates they will have refreshments and juice and coffee. She hopes you'll join the Museum for this program this weekend. 

Gov. Pritzker Promoting Tax Credit That Supports SAF

As the aviation industry seeks low carbon fuels, attention has come to making biofuels into jet fuel.


It’s called sustainable aviation fuel, and it can be made from corn and soybeans. Governor JB Pritzker says a recently passed tax credit is designed to incentivize the use of it at the state’s airports.



SAF is short for sustainable aviation fuel. O’Hare in Chicago see’s 55 million passengers move through the airport each year and Illinois is home to two of the nation’s top 15 airports for freight transportation.

RR Donnelly Closing It's Doors in Clinton

Multiple sources are reporting that RR Donnelly in Clinton is closing its doors in Clinton.June 1 the long-time employer of hundreds of Clinton employees will

close its doors. 


The company began its operations in Clinton in the mid-1950s and has been a major employer in DeWitt County ever since. 


According to its website, its Clinton location is a direct marketing facility that primarily produces acquisition and fundraising mailpieces for nonprofit organizations. This 225,000-square-foot facility specializes in traditional envelope packages with in-line finishing for letter mail, automated flats, super-component mail, and specialty mailers.


Clinton is a full-service web printer for variably inkjet-imaged components. High-end color products are developed using the plant’s best-in-class equipment and design capabilities for diverse formats.


Regional Radio's attempts to reach the company for comment have been unsuccessful. 

Lincoln, Douglas Schools to Host 'Camp Kindergarten' April 19

A first-of-its-kind screening process will take place later this month at Lincoln and Douglas Elementary schools in Clinton.


Children entering kindergarten, whether in the Clinton Pre-K program, a private Pre-K program, or children not attending Pre-K at all are encouraged to attend this event on April 19. Principal Jessica Patrick says this is going to be a low-stress environment to introduce kids to the kindergarten classroom and for staff to engage and learn about students coming in next year.



According to Patrick, 'Camp Kindergarten' will be an informal setting that gives staff the chance to get to know kids and for kids to be introduced to the Kindergarten classroom.



Patrick indicates a Kindergarten screening process can help them establish balanced classrooms for next year.



As more and more parents opt out of having kids attend Pre-K, Patrick indicates there are several factors for that but it can create issues for kids transitioning to the classroom setting - another purpose for 'Camp Kindergarten'.



Patrick asks for anyone who plans to come out for these screenings to RSVP with the school. She notes you will be able to begin registering for Kindergarten at that time. Additionally, there will be information presented for parents about preparing their children for Kindergarten. 

Decatur Area Arts Council Promoting Latest Grant Cycle

The Decatur Area Arts Council is promoting its latest grant cycle.


Jerry Johnson is the Executive Director of the Decatur Area Arts Council and indicates non-profits and arts-based efforts can apply for funding from the Art Council for special projects or general programs.



According to Johnson, they recently were able to help the Decatur Children's Museum with an ag-themed exhibit. These cycles each time around do not have specific uses, calling it an open grant cycle.



Once applications are in, a small committee reviews those and Johnson points out an applicant may seek out an applicant for more information. Otherwise, the Arts Council board approves those applications and once the event or program has concluded, the group is reimbursed.



Decaturarts.org has all the latest on this grant cycle at the Decatur Area Arts Council.


For information on the Decatur Area Arts Council, follow them on Facebook and Instagram and find their YouTube page for more information on upcoming programs and activities. 

Certified Safety Glasses Needed for Viewing Today's Eclipse

Are you going to be watching the solar eclipse today?


If you are, you need the right eye protection. Bobby Elzie with the Department of Public Health says you need certified safety glasses or lenses.



Staring at the sun can cause permanent eye damage.

Livestock Producers Keeping Watchful Eye For Black Vultures

Tracking black vultures in Illinois. Livestock producers throughout the state are keeping a watchful eye. Brad Wilson is a Wildlife Biologist with the USDA APHIS Wildlife Service.



More information on the Black Vulture depredation permits available at ilfb.org under the Farmers and Rural Resources Section.

NASA Feeding from SIU on This Solar Eclipse Day

As the total solar eclipse is set to send parts of Southern Illinois into darkness, not everyone can make it somewhere to view it in totality.


Blair Allen, with NASA Edge, will be sending live feeds from Saluki Stadium to NASA that will be shared with everyone.



To find out more – go to NASA dot GOV or search for NASA’s official channel on You Tube.

Kids and Digital Mirrors

With more and more kids using social media, a doctor with OSF HealthCare wants you to know about the mental health risks that come with it. 


Dr. Kyle Boerke is the director of behavioral health outpatient services for OSF HealthCare and a clinical child psychologist. He says every hour spent on social media increases your likelihood of anxiety and depression. Dr. Boerke says, in many cases, the people you follow on social media aren’t your friends. You don’t know them personally, and you’ve probably never met them, and never will.



Up to 95% of kids age 13-17 and nearly 40% of children age 8-12 use a social media platform, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. While most people think of apps like Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), Snapchat and Facebook when it comes to social media, he says a major social media platform reaching the youngest of kids is YouTube.

Dick Baum, Prominent Clinton Business Leader, Dies

A prominent Clinton business leader has died.

96-year-old Richard “Dick” Baum passed away on Thursday in Normal.

After attending college out of state, Baum returned to his home at Carlock where, in 1948, he became an operating partner at his father’s car dealership, Baum Motor Company.

Dick married his wife Marjorie in 1948, and later moved his family from Carlock to Clinton in 1964 when he purchased Holtz Chevrolet Buick. Dick was President of Baum Chevrolet Buick from 1964 to 1992 and remained active in the business until his death. 

Baum was very active in the Clinton community during his years in ownership, including stints on the John Warner Hospital boards.

Funeral services for Dick Baum are set for Wednesday morning in Clinton.   See his complete obituary in the “Obituaries” section of dewittdailynews-dot-com.

Improvements to Edorado Street in Decatur Beginning Next Week

The Illinois Department of Transportation announces a resurfacing project on
U.S. 36/Eldorado Street in Decatur, from Illinois 48/North Fairview Avenue to Church Street, beginning Tuesday, April 9.


In addition to resurfacing, other improvements for this $8.3 million project include upgraded traffic signals and sidewalk ramps. One lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction with traffic control signs, arrow boards, and barricades directing traffic. Benefits from this project include a smoother driving surface and safer intersections. The project is expected to be completed early summer of 2025.
Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. To avoid the work area, when feasible, the use of alternate routes should be considered. 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 be alert for workers and equipment.


Over the next six years, IDOT is planning to improve more than 3,000 miles of highway and nearly 10 million square feet of bridge deck as part of the Rebuild Illinois capital program, which is investing $33.2 billion into all modes of transportation. Accomplishments through Year Four of Rebuild Illinois included approximately $12.1 billion of improvements statewide on 5,339 miles of highway, 533 bridges, and 762 additional safety improvements.


For IDOT District 7 updates, follow us on Twitter at @IDOTDistrict7 or view area construction details on IDOT’s traveler information map on GettingAroundIllinois.com

Illinois DNR Announces Grants Benefitting Local Groups

More than 6,600 students will visit Illinois state parks, natural areas, museums, and other natural resources sites this year to learn about nature and conservation thanks to funding through the Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant Program. 


The program is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Conservation Foundation. More than $99,600 in donated funds for 107 field trip grants were awarded for 2024. The grant recipients represent 30 Illinois counties.


Second graders at Ruth M. Schneider Elementary School in Farmer City received a grant to attend Homer Lake Forest Preserve in Homer and were awarded $342.


Maroa Forsyth Middle School students will visit Starved Rock State Park with a $500 grant. Additionally in Macon County, Fundamentals Early Learning Academy preschool students will also visit Rock Springs Nature Center with a $750 grant.


Bement Walk Homeschool sixth through 12th graders will go to Plum Creek Nature Center in Beecher with a $350 grant.


Kindergarten through fifth graders at Carlock Elementary School will get to visit Wildlife Prairie Park thanks to a grant worth almost  $1,900. Additionally, Chiddix Junior High School in Normal sixth through eighth grade will go to Fugate Woods in Fairbury with a grant worth $276.


In Champaign County, first graders at Christian Homeschool Connect in Mahomet will get to attend Wildlife Prairie Park in Hanna City and will be awarded $299.

The annual application deadline is Jan. 31 so DNR encourages applying online now. 


For more information about the program, contact the IDNR Division of Education at dnr.teachkids@illinois.gov. The ICF gladly accepts donations for the Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant Program. Go online for additional information. 

IDOT, EMA Expecting Heavy Southern Illinois Traffic Druing Upcoming Eclipse

Travel is expected to be difficult when the solar eclipse wraps up in Southern Illinois.


In 2017 travelers spent hours in near stop-and-go traffic on state highways and interstates leaving the area of totality. IDOT and IEMA say come prepared. That includes driving with a full tank of fuel, lots of patience, and more.



That was Mike McPeak, operations chief with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. IDOT says they will have as many construction barriers down as possible to open up traffic lanes.

Warner Library Conducting Community Wide Survey

If you take advantage of the services of the Warner Library, they want to hear from you.


Executive Director Bobbi Perryman indicates they are asking patrons and community members to take a short seven-question survey that will help them as they start on strategic planning.



According to Perryman, the library has not updated its strategic plan since 2019 and with the pandemic sandwiched in the middle of all of it, they are ready to revisit it.



Perryman indicates the survey helps the library better direct its resources where the community wants. Moving forward, they plan to have focus groups and those types of events to be more tuned in with what the community wants from the library.



To take the survey, you can visit vwarner.org or stop in at the library at 310 North Quincy Street in Clinton for a paper copy. Perryman reminds the survey runs until Saturday, April 27. 

Piatt County Sheriff Highlights Last Week's Reunification Drill


The Piatt County Sheriff is recapping last week's reunification drill that brought dozens of agencies in the area together.


On the WHOW Morning Show Thursday, Piatt County Sheriff Mark Vogelzang told Regional Radio the exercise took roughly a year and a half to plan out and believes they were the first to execute such an event.



According to Sheriff Vogelzang, the drill went through a fire at the school and several agencies participated.



While you might think a drill like this would be centered around an active shooter in a school, Sheriff Vogelzang explains many Piatt County schools have other hazards that could impact a school day they may encounter.



With the drill wrapped up, Sheriff Vogelzang indicates more meetings will take place to work through the issues they found during the exercise. He also adds they will work with the Regional Office of Education and the school districts for better communication in the event a plan of this nature is necessary. 

State Treasurer Pushing for Change in College Savings Plan

The state’s treasurer is asking for state law to change to allow parents who are saving for college to not have to worry about what might happen if their children don’t use or need funds saved in a state 529 plan.


The Federal Government recently allowed parents to roll over unused college savings accounts to a Roth IRA. But Mike Frerichs says a change in state law needs to be made to allow Illinois residents to benefit from the change.



Currently, leftover funds can go to another family member or be withdrawn but with tax penalties.

World Shooting Complex in Southern Illinois Promoting Viewing for Next Week's Eclipse

Making last-minute plans to see the solar eclipse in totality in Southern Illinois?


If you haven’t booked a spot or found a place to go, the World Shooting Complex in Sparta might have room. Skip Klinger, Executive Director of the facility says they have lots of parking spots.



Sparta has more than a thousand camping spots, you can find out more about them through - explore more I-L dot com.

Southern Illinosi Gearing Up for Next Week's Eclipse

Just days away from the April 8 solar eclipse. 


Southern Illinois will be in the path of totality and there are a number of events across the region—including a Cache River Canoe Solar Eclipse Tour says Carol Hoffman with the Southernmost Illinois Visitors Bureau.



Plenty of solar eclipse event information at southernmostillinois.com.

Clinton American Legion Praises Clinton Chamber for Business Expo Opportunity


A Clinton non-profit is praising the Clinton Chamber of Commerce for its annual opportunity to be showcased at the annual expo.


Last week, the Chamber hosted its annual expo and while participation was a little down this year, the event still drew a good crowd. On the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday, Josh Thielen with the Legion praised the opportunity the business expo provides to promote ways for anyone to get involved with the Legion. 



According to Thielen, the expo offers an opportunity to connect with veterans who may not be aware of what the Legion does and the benefits of being a member. He explains being a member is beneficial even if you cannot give your time to the organization.



For Thielen, he started going to Legion meetings with his grandfather but after his passing, he stopped going. Having the urge to get involved, he found the things the Legion does to be very important and learned anyone in any community can make a change.



The Legion sees the business expo as a chance to reach community members who may know only a little bit about them. Thielen notes it also gives them a chance to connect with other businesses and non-profits in the community.



Thielen hopes any veterans in the community who are not already a part of the Legion will consider joining. He encourages them to follow the Legion on Facebook. You can also find and friend Thielen and Facebook and message him directly about getting involved. 

Deer Donation Second Year Huge Success


The second year of the deer donation program through the University of Illinois Extension was a huge success.


Caitlin Mellendorf is a nutrition educator at the U of I Extension in DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties and indicates the second year was even better than the first. They were very pleased with all the hunters and meat processors that participated in the program this year.



According to Mellendorf, the deer donation program is a collaboration between hunters, meat processors, and food pantries to help reduce food insecurity in east-central and southern Illinois.



The goal is to continue to grow the program throughout the State of Illinois and believes it will have to be a slow but steady growth over time. 


She hopes hunters will be on the lookout for information about the program later this year for the 2024 deer hunting season. 

Call for IDOT to Share Study Data

An Illinois State Representative wants IDOT to share data with local governments. 

House Bill 5138 provides that upon request by a unit of local government, IDOT shall make available any study or survey completed by the Department that concerns traffic or the environmental impact on road construction projects. The bill is sponsored by State Representative Charlie Meier.



The legislation is based on complaints from local road districts that they are being required by IDOT to conduct duplicative road surveys and traffic counts in addition to the environmental survey. The bill was approved Tuesday in the Transportation Committee but is being held on 2nd reading while the representative continues negotiations with IDOT.

Periodical Cicadas Emerging in 2024

2024 is a big year for periodical cicadas in Illinois. University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Ken Johnson.



Johnson says more information online at extension.illinois.edu/cicadas.

Warner Library Annual Book Sale Later This Month

The Warner Library in Clinton will host its bi-annual book sale later this month.


On the WHOW Morning Show Tuesday, Terry Willis with the Friends of the Warner Library told Regional Radio the book sale comes up on Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20. 




According to Willis, the book sale will net around $800 to $1,000 and the Friends will pour that back into programs for the library like the summer reading club.



Executive Director of the Warner Library, Bobbi Perryman says the Friends' book sale is a huge boost to the summer reading club but they have also helped make purchases that have enhanced the mission of the library.



The annual book sale comes up on Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20. Follow the library on most social media platforms for more information or visit vwarner.org for all the details. 

University of Illinois Extension Hosting Fair Entry Open Houses This Month

The University of Illinois Extension will host individual open houses this month in DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties to help those needing assistance with fair entries.


Fair season is still a few months away but the preparations for it are happening now and 4-H Coordinator at the U of I Extension Kendra Wallace notes the open houses are a chance to have someone within Extension give you any help you might need to enter this year.



The enrollment deadline for 4-H is coming up. According to Wallace, they don't always see a big rush but instead, the deadline gives those involved in other activities a chance to still join if that is something they want to do.



Wallace indicates if you are going to join 4-H before the April 30 deadline, you'll need to make sure your enrollment is complete and then really work to make sure any entries you will have for the fair season will be ready to go.



Visit extension.illinois.edu/dmp/events for more information. 

Study Looks at Money Spent on Childcare

Illinois residents are spending more on Child Care. According to a new study from LendingTree, Illinois ranks ninth in the highest percentage of average income spent on childcare.



Matt Schultz is one of the authors of the study which used data collected by the U.S Census Bureau to determine the percentage of annual income by state that is spent on child care. Nevada ranked 1st on the list and is considered a childcare desert for the lack of available childcare options.

Local Economic Development Leader Weighs In On Workforce Challenges

A local leader in the world of economic development is weighing in on the workforce challenges employers face and a trend he is starting to take notice of.


On the WHOW Morning Show Monday, DeWitt County Development Council Executive Director Curt Homann told Regional Radio local employers are struggling to find workers. He says struggling to find workers along with inflation is the top issues they deal with right now.



According to Homann, employers are doing what they can to attract workers like raising wages and increasing benefits but they still struggle. He points out a lot of the theories about where workers are have evolved from 'no one wants to work' or 'COVID benefits are paying them'.



A trend Homann is noticing that could explain - in part - the workforce shortage is more people looking to make a side hustle or just an idea of a full-time job where they are creating their own business. He notes this week alone he is meeting with two potential individuals looking to start a business.



If you are an individual potentially looking to build on an idea you've pursued that you believe could be ready to become your primary employment, Homann hopes you'll consider having a conversation with him if you have any questions.


He points anyone in that position to contact him through the DCDC Facebook page. 

CCEF Promoting Return of Derby Day Fundraiser

If you attended last week's Clinton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, you may have stopped by the Clinton Community Education Foundation, or CCEF, booth and learned about all the things the organization does but also heard they are bringing back its Derby Day fundraiser.


The fundraiser did not happen last year but Chris Schaffer with the CCEF told Regional Radio as part of its live coverage from the Expo last week, the event is returning in 2024.



Fundraisers like the Derby Day Fundraiser help the district in its effort to provide for what its budget cannot. Schaffer points to things like its classroom grants they awarded last month as one of the efforts they led to do that.



According to Schaffer, the CCEF also helps fund opportunities for students to take dual-credit courses and sponsors opportunities outside the classroom for a lot of students through a unique program at Heartland Community College.



The CCEF has tickets for the May 4 Derby Day fundraiser at its website, ccef15.org. You can follow the group on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

Lawmaker Wants Voters to Have Say on Ethics Reform

A Republican would like voters to have a say on ethics reforms for lawmakers. Right now citizens can’t bring forth questions concerning ethics and have to be voted on as constitutional amendments. Peoria Republican Ryan Spain says the people of Illinois should have a say on the standards that lawmakers are held to.



The only citizen-led amendment successfully resulted in the reduction of the size of the General Assembly.

Illinois Farm Bureau Opposes Statewide Wetlands Legislation

Illinois Farm Bureau bringing attention and speaking in opposition to state legislation called the Wetlands and Small Streams Protection Act.


IFB Director of State Legislation Chris Davis says the measure proposes burdensome regulations involving wetlands and streams of all sizes in Illinois.


The measure in the State Senate is SB 3669 with the companion bill in the Illinois House HB 5386.

Illinois Youth Survey Wrapping Up in Illinois

A central Illinois mental health professional is anxiously awaiting the results of the Illinois Youth Survey results - which is wrapping up in Illinois.


Tony Kirkman is the Executive Director of the Piatt County Mental Center and indicates the Illinois Youth Survey is an every-other-year gathering of data on a variety of things facing Illinois adolescents.



According to Kirkman, there are two mental health issues that he is going to be watching closely as well as the impact of legalized marijuana on youth in Illinois.



There is still an issue with vaping and e-cigarettes and Kirkman indicates this is a long-running issue now and wants to know if any of the prevention messaging they've done is working.



Kirkman says there are messaging campaigns the State of Illinois has taken up about a lot of these topics. He hopes any messaging that is done will treat youth like adults and present them with facts. 


The results of the survey should start to sprinkle back in later this spring and by the summer he should have most of the data back. 

Signals Remain Strong for Above Normal Temperatures for Spring and Beyond

An above-average temperature signal remains strong through the upcoming spring and all the way to the winter.


Ed Shimon at the National Weather Service in Lincoln explains the signal has held steady in recent weeks leading him to believe there is something forecasters are picking up on that will keep temperatures very tolerable as we start April.



According to Shimon, there is currently a deep level of dryness in Illinois and so there is the chance of flash drought with above-normal temperatures looking likely this spring and summer. 



As far as precipitation outlooks, Shimon explains there isn't a strong signal one way or another for above, normal, or below-normal precipitation in the outlooks.



After an up-and-down temperature week last week, April should welcome the consistent above-normal temperature signal and Shimon hopes to see more pleasant spring days. He warns the storm season tends to pick up this time of the year so always have an eye to the sky and keep up with the latest in your local weather. 

Refinery Shutdown Could Impact Illinois Gas Prices

A shutdown of an ExxonMobil refinery in Illinois could impact gas prices across the Midwest.


According to Patrick DeHaan from GasBuddy, ExxonMobile plans to shut down their Joliet refinery for at least 50 days. DeHaan explained what it could mean for prices at the pump in the Midwest.



According to DeHaan, the refinery shutdown could impact prices across the Great Lake region.


The refinery in Joliet produces up to nine million gallons of diesel and gasoline daily.

Habitat for Humanity Embarking on Green Subdivision in Illinois

Habitat for Humanity has begun construction on a groundbreaking subdivision in Aurora. 


Each of the 17 homes in Habitat Green Freedom Subdivision will have solar panels and other technology meant to cut the net energy consumption to zero. Fox Valley Habitat Director of Operations Terri Jeffries says Nicor will study the homes for two years to see if they really are “net zero” and can serve as models for more home building nationwide.



Habitat for Humanity helps low-income people become homeowners. It keeps mortgage costs down through donations and volunteer labor when it can. Energy efficiency will keep the cost of living in a home down too.

Early Bloom Worries Specialty Growers

A mild winter means the potential of an early bloom for apple growers. That brings added worry about a late frost says Jenna Spychal (spy-chul) with Jonamac Orchard in DeKalb County.



Spychal is now chairman of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association.

Guaranteed Income Legislation Being Debated in Springfield

Some Lawmakers are talking about providing guaranteed incomes to some and using state tax dollars to do it.


A bill being proposed in the Senate would create a law to evaluate a program, set rules and oversight. Small pilot programs have been done locally in Chicago and East St. Louis. Ameya Pawar with the Economic Security Project says unrestricted cash programs benefit low-income workers and let them better pay for common expenses.



The amended bill does not address how much money would be given to individuals or families that would be eligible for it. It remains in committee.


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