Local News

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. 

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