Local News

DeWitt County Regional Planning Commission Rejects Tradewind Project

The DeWitt County Regional Planning Commission Tuesday night voted 3-1 against recommending a proposed wind farm in DeWitt County.


Tradewind Energy outlined their plans for the proposed $300-million project that would put an estimated 67 turbines across 12-thousand acres in the northwest corner of DeWitt County. The turbines would not exceed 591 feet. 


The Zoning Board of appeals next month will begin taking public input next month on the proposal from Tradewind. Those hearings are scheduled for February 5 beginning at 5 pm at Clinton High School with other dates to include February 7-8 and February 19-22. Hearings last from 5 pm to 10 pm, all at Clinton High School.


After the ZBA hears all testimony, they will send a recommendation to the County Board. 


This story will be updated. 


Lincoln Fire Chief To Retire

The Fire Chief in Lincoln is set to retire later this year. 


Chief Mark Miller tells Regional Radio News he's started to work with the Mayor to begin to find his replacement. Miller has been the Chief since 2010.



Chief Miller says he has been asked to help find his successor and is hopeful the hire could come from within.



Miller has been instrumental in helping the Lincoln Fire Department purchase a new fire engine that will be delivered in February. The new Chief will likely be instrumental in helping find a new home or expansion of their current home for the Lincoln Fire Department. 


Weather Expert: Cold & Snowy Pattern Expected To Continue

As the central U.S. gets ready for the second blast of winter in as many weeks, one weather expert believes this is likely a trend for the foreseeable future.   Jared White has more....




USDA Will Temporarily Reopen Some Offices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will be reopening some Farm Service Agency offices around the country to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue made the announcement and says they won’t be able to reopen all offices…



Offices will temporarily reopen on Thursday, January 17th and Friday, January 18th. The offices will be closed on Monday, January 21st for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and then reopen one more time on Tuesday, January 22nd. Perdue says, while the offices are open, they won’t be able to offer their usual full range of services…



Secretary Perdue talks about some of the services the FSA will be able to



For a complete rundown of services available during the three-day window, check out www.usda.gov.


State Departments of Agriculture Call for an End to Shutdown

The partial government shutdown is having a profound and cascading impact on American farmers and ranchers. Because of this, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is calling on Congress and the Administration to rapidly get to a settlement and end the shutdown as soon as possible. 


The organization says in a news release that, “We know that some USDA employees are working on a limited number of programs, but we also know that all hands on deck are required to successfully direct every program American farmers, ranchers, and communities depend on.” 


The organization says that includes successful implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill. Jeff Witte is the Secretary of Agriculture in New Mexico and the President of NASDA. He says “The impacts of this shutdown are real. Not only are farmers and ranchers unable to use a host of existing USDA programs they depend on, they also can’t use the programs now available in the recently enacted farm bill.”


Witte says if farmers can’t access those programs, the financial stress and challenges farmers are facing will only get worse. Many farmers depend on the Farm Service Agency for loans and need the shutdown solved as soon as possible.


Five Fire Departments Respond To Maroa House Fire

Around 4:40 pm Wednesday afternoon, Maroa Fire officials were called to a house fire at North Wood Street in Maroa.


Fire officials indicate upon arrival, they found smoke coming from the home. Upon making entry, it was discovered the home was vacant and firefighters extinguished the fire while venting through the roof. 


Crews were on scene for roughly two hours. Departments from Hickory Point, Argenta, Oreana, Clinton and Kenney were on scene for assistance. Latham Fire Department was on scene at the Maroa Department during the event. 


No injuries were reported. 


A cause was not was determined. The State Fire Marshall's office will investigate. 


Picture courtesy of Maroa Fire Department Facebook page. 


Farmland Sales Starting to Rise

The Farmers National Company says there are some questions abounding in the current farmland market. 


There is legitimate worry that the negative financial situation will finally drive land prices lower. Farm and ranch lands make up 82 percent of the total assets owned by American agriculture. 


 Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations says “At Farmers National Company, we’re seeing an uptick in land sales as more families and inheritors want to sell now. Within our 28-state service area, we’re also seeing more landowners coming to us to talk about marketing and selling their land, as evidenced by the total volume of land for sale which is up 21 percent.” 


The company says overall farmland values have held up well over the years in spite of lower commodity prices and farm income compared to just five years ago. However, there are questions looming ahead for the market. 


“Even though the rate of bankruptcies and forced farmland sales is low, there are expectations that those numbers will rise over the next year as farmers’ cash flows continue to be stressed.”


 He says there has also been an increase in the number of “quiet sales,” in which neighbors quietly sell their land to other neighbors without advertising it as being for sale.”



Farm Bureau members are making a pledge to support clean water and clear
rules through a new campaign at the at the 2019 AFBF Annual Convention and
IDEAg Trade Show. NAFB's Micheal Clements has more…





The farm economy faces more uncertainty in 2019, according to American
Farm Bureau Federation chief economist John Newton. Speaking during the
2019 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show, Newton
says many factors are pressuring the farm economy…



Adding to a complex farm economy, uncertainty on trade is creating more



However, Newton says the trade issues provide an opportunity for a bright
spot in the future…



That’s AFBF chief economist John Newton.


Could Snow Days Become Instructional Days in Illinois?

A law under the Bruce Rauner administration has left open the option that snow days could be considered 'instructional days' in Illinois schools, meaning school districts may not lose that day of instruction.


Superintendent of Clinton Schools Curt Nettles explains with the change in the funding formula in Illinois last year, the law also changed what is considered an 'instructional day'.



The possibility is also opened up for participation in internship programs which Nettles points out, would allow more flexibility for their students. 



With a new Governor now in the fold in Illinois, Nettles says he is hearing the new administration is seeking to revert back to the way things were but he hopes the supermajority in Springfield will find a "happy medium".



The annual WHOW Hometown Tour stopped in Lincoln in Logan County Wednesday morning to talk with community leaders about the things happening in Lincoln.


Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman discussed the ongoing desire in the community to improve 5th street on the west end of the city. He says improvement of the road along with dreams of a bike path has long been in the works and it is something they continue to work with residents in the area residents about.



Mayor Goodman says the inability of the project to move forward has been and still is a point of frustration among city leaders and those in the community.



Big news recently from the City of Lincoln, Mayor Goodman announced the Balloon Festival will return in 2019. He says it may not be as extravagant as in years past but after a year's absence, the desire for its return was made known by the community.



The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Balloon Festival and upon the organization going defunct, the event did not happen. Mayor Goodman says right now the City faces a major challenge without an asset like a Chamber of Commerce.



Other guests from Wednesday morning's WHOW Hometown Tour stop in Lincoln were Police Chief Paul Adams, Fire Chief Mark Miller, and Superintendent Bob Bagby. Hear from them later this week and into next week on Regional Radio News. 


The Vault Continues Fundraising Focus

2018 was a big year for The Vault teen center in Clinton, but leaders are not taking the foot off the gas pedal.


Michele Witzke says they are planning to continue to forge ahead in their fundraising efforts this year. They always accept one-time donations but they are also looking for monthly donors of any level.



Along with financial support, Witzke indicates they are still seeking donations for supplies they need. From games or entertainment for the youth to pieces of art, Witzke says they are looking for it all. 



Additionally, manpower is always in demand for The Vault. Witzke says if you have an hour on a Saturday to help out or have skilled labor you're willing to donate, anything is appreciated.



Witzke indicates they have gotten a lot of support from the community and is thankful for that support. 


To learn more about how you can support The Vault in Clinton, call 309-212-7332 or  217-934-4003. You can also email thevaultclinton@gmail.com. 


Blue Ridge School Leader Weighs In On New Governor

A time of great speculation and interest is how a DeWitt County school leader described the arrival of a new governor to Illinois.


Superintendent of Blue Ridge Schools, Susan Wilson is impressed with the staff Governor JB Pritzker has surrounded himself with, leaving her hopeful he will make good decisions.



In terms of how she feels the new Governor will do with the financial mess, Illinois faces, Wilson, is hoping Pritzker will continue to support the recently implemented evidence-based funding model.



Five years ago, school leaders would have said school funding was the biggest challenge facing education in Illinois, however, many are now saying a shortage of educators is the biggest challenge in education at this time.



Wilson believes the new evidence-based funding model will gradually level out the inequities in funding per student. 


Community Action Sets Priorities For 2019

Fresh out of a new strategic planning process, a central Illinois non-profit is looking at a shift in how they help their clientele.


Community Action has shifted their focus to helping combat poverty through proactive measures rather than reactive measures. CEO Alison Rumler-Gomez says they now need to work with their clients to help them better adapt to the things they are taking away from Community Action's regular programs.



Rumler-Gomez indicates their clients' success is creating graduated problems that they are finding and their hope is this new program will help them solve those graduated problems.



Community Action is working to develop an app that will allow their clients to not just hear information and then never have any accountability in acting on it. Rumler-Gomez is excited about this component to the program.



March 1 is the target date to get the app rolled out and begin the video series that will accompany it. 

To get more information on Community Action, visit capcil.info. 


Pritzker Getting Right To Work on First Day

On his first day in office Governor JB Prtizker signed an Executive Order to bring more transparency to state agencies. Pritzker calls it a back to basics focus on serving the public. The order will direct state agencies, boards and commissions to review mandates, comply with data transparency and release all data required by state law. 



Pritzker gave agencies and boards 60 days to follow through on the order.


More Snow Expected For Parts of Illinois This Weekend

More winter weather is in play for much of Illinois later this week. 


And there is a lot of anticipation says meteorologist Eric Schmidt with EJS Weather in Newton.



Schmidt says behind the system, there will be stronger winds and colder air arriving Sunday for most of Illinois.


Governor Pritzker Talks Ag

Newly installed Governor J.B. Pritzker hasn't tackled agricultural issues as much as other topics in his campaign and post-campaign talking points. However, the farm sector was on his mind in Monday's Inaugural address....



Pritzker was critical of former Governor Bruce Rauner for not working with the Illinois Congressional Delegation to get more aid from Washington.  He also said Rauner should've done more to stand up against President Trump when it comes to the impact of tariffs on the state's agriculture industry.


Illinois Comptroller Says There's No Reason To Leave Illinois

A full slate of constitutional officers were sworn in yesterday along with Governor JB Pritzker. For the next four years every single one of them will be a Democrat. That includes the reelection of Comptroller Susana Mendoza. She is running for Mayor of Chicago but she isn’t leaving Illinois.



Mendoza says that she will continue her work of transparency in paying the state’s bills.


Emergency Need For Blood, Platelets

The American Red Cross has an emergency need for blood and platelet donations. 

Blood donations have fallen short of hospital needs for the past few weeks, partly because of the normal lull in donations during the time after the holidays, and partly due to the winter weather that slammed the Midwest last weekend. And with another storm predicted for this weekend, American Red Cross Joe Zydlo (ZID-low) says there's good reason for the emergency designation.



Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or by going to redcrossblood.org.


Local Youth Financial Camp Wins Grant

This summer a group of local youth participating in an entrepreneurial camp will be using some upgraded technology thanks to 15-hundred dollar grant.


Connie Unruh (UN-roo) is a Financial Literacy Coordinator with the T-S Institute, which is a non-profit, educational arm of First National Bank in Clinton. She explains they host summer camps for local youth interested in business education.



According to Unruh, a major project of the camp involves students shooting video for commercials.  She says past results were a little lacking due to technological limitations, so they applied for and received a grant from the Prairie Foundation.



Unruh notes a unique aspect of the grant is that it's awarded by students...



The T-S Institute's entrepreneurial camps for students take place in June.  In the meantime, you can learn more about the organization by visiting www.tsinstitute.org.


Clinton Board of Education To Meet Tuesday

The Clinton Board of Education is set to hold its regular monthly meeting tonight (TUE) in the Clinton Junior High Library.


Among the items to be brought before the Board are:


> Recognition of Illinois State Scholars from Clinton High School


> Reminders on graduation dates for the Class of 2019


> And....Discussion of Intervention help for Clinton Junior High


The Clinton Board of Education meets at 6:30 this (TUE) evening at the Clinton Junior High Library.


Rock Springs Nature Center Eagle Viewing Trip

A Macon County conservation center is providing a trip to visit Starved Rock and see the national bird.


Richie Wolf with the Rock Springs Nature Center indicates that in January and February people have the opportunity to watch the eagles. Wolf says that the winter months attract the eagles to Starved Rock.



The trips will be on January 19, 26, and February 2 from 9am-4pm. The trip is $25 per person and online registration is open till January 18.


Firefighters Clean Up Chemical Spill on University of Illinois Campus

University of Illinois officials say crews are cleaning a chemical spill at the Urbana-Champaign campus’ Beckman Institute .


School officials said about 1:45 p.m. Monday that the situation is under control and cleanup could take at least two hours. The announcement came after other alerts announcing the hazardous materials release at the institute and asking people to leave the building. School officials say the chemical has been contained in the building and no one should re-enter the Beckman Institute while firefighters deal with the spill.


Research at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology centers around molecular science and engineering, integrative imaging and intelligent systems.


No details were given about what chemical spilled or how it spilled.



Pritzker Sworn In, Pledges To Be Cheerleader For IL Economy

J.B. Pritzker is now the Governor of Illinois. 


He was sworn in shortly after noon Monday at Springfeld's Bank of Springfield Center. 


During the proceedings, the Governor referenced many items he pledged to pursue on the campaign trail, like legalizing recreational marijuana, boosting the minimum wage and seeking what he calls a fair tax system. He also promised a different message after former Governor Rauner frequently warned how Illinois was falling behind its neighbors economically...



Pritzker closed his inaugural address with confidence Illinois will soon see better days...



Pritzker made reaffirmed in his address that the state needs to be more efficient and adjust the way it taxes income.


Pritzker also hosted the Inaugural Celebration Monday night at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.


Trump Talks Farmers

President Trump took his case for a barrier on the U-S-Mexico border to farmers on Monday, addressing the 100th annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation in New Orleans;



Trump also discussed issues like the new federal farm bill, regulatory relief, and the fights he has chosen to pick with important customers of Illinois and other U-S farm products like Canada, China and Mexico;



Trump put additional tariffs on Chinese imports on hold while negotiations to resolve the trade war continue. And Congress will still need to consider the proposed trade agreement with Canada and Mexico negotiated last year before it can be fully implemented.


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