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Local News

DNR To Investigate Abandoned DeWitt County Railway Route For Potentail Trail

An abandoned rail line in the Farmer City area of northeast DeWitt County is the subject of a study to be done by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to see if a possible walking/hiking/biking trail is possible.
 
DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg indicates the line connects between McLean County and Piatt County and could be the target of a multi purpose path for recreation.
 
Other efforts like this have recently cropped up in DeWitt County in recent years. The City Council has done preliminary work on a path out to Weldon Springs that could turn into something that would run through Clinton. 

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National Social Security Month

April is National Social Security Month and now is the perfect time to get started managing your social security.
 
Jack Myers is reaching out to spread awareness and encourages young people to think about how social security figures into their futures. Social Security is not exclusively there for retirement purposes, but can benefit you when times are tough.
 
 
There are five steps that he recommends you go through to secure today and tomorrow for you and your loved ones. From understanding your social security to managing your benefits.
 
 
To learn more or create a my Social Security account go to socialsecurity.gov or give them a call at 800-772-1213.

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U.S. Ag Secretary Position Just One Of Hundreds Of USDA Vacancies

The Trump Administration could finally have a Secretary of Agriculture in place as early as next week, however one commodity group suggests that's just the beginning of work to be done.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster, Jared White, has more....
 

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AFBF LAUNCHES MARKET INTEL WEBPAGE

The American Farm Bureau Federation this month launched a Market Intel webpage, featuring market analysis and information. AFBF market intelligence director John Newton says the analysis pieces will help farmers and ranchers make key decisions for their businesses.
 
                  
 
Newton says the reports will cover a variety of topics important to farmers and ranchers.
 
 
Newton says AFBF expert economists will contribute regularly to the Market Intel section.
 
 
You can find the AFBF market intel reports online at www.fb.org/marketintel.

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Unemployment Down in March But Losing Jobs

THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FELL BELOW FIVE PERCENT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A DECADE LAST MONTH. 
 
THE MARCH JOBLESS RATE CAME IN AT FOUR POINT NINE PERCENT, DOWN A HALF A POINT FROM THE PREVIOUS MONTH. BUT STATE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SPOKESPERSON BOB GOUGH SAYS THERE WERE ALSO 89-HUNDRED JOBS LOST IN MARCH.
 
 
THE BIGGEST JOB LOSSES LAST MONTH WERE SEEN IN CONSTRUCTION…AND THE PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES INDUSTRY.
 
 
THE BIGGEST JOB GAINS IN MARCH WERE SEEN IN THE LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY SECTOR.

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State, Federal Lawmakers Fighting For Route 66

Congressmen Rodney Davis, Darin LaHood and State Representative Tim Butler toured Route 66 communities in Central Illinois Wednesday. 
 
Davis talks about federal legislation preparing for the 100th Anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.
 
 
Davis referred to State Representative Avery Bourne who joined Davis earlier in the week for another Route 66 tour. Butler introduced legislation establishing a state Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission.

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Mendoza Attacks Rauner on Balanced Budget Claims

The odds of Comptroller Susana Mendoza making the cut on the Rauner family greeting card list shrink by the day. 
 
Mendoza continues to call for Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to reach a budget agreement before the state gets hit with additional credit downgrades. She continues to make hay out of analysis from a political website on Rauner's claims he he has delivered a balanced budget proposal.
 
 
Some analysts maintain the Governor provided a budget that would be balanced if certain conditions were met.

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Farmers Shouldn't Worry Too Much Yet

Farmers have been a bit worried about getting into the field because of rains throughout the Midwest. It looks like those will clear out for the week, mostly, and even if they don't, there isn't much to worry about, yet.
 
Farmers have been itching to go to the field. They want to plant corn in the Midwest. There's also some rumblings about delayed planting. That's a little hard to swallow in mid-April says University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs…tape
 
        
 
Hubbs is an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois. He's looked at the stats and the historical record. He says it is pretty concise…tape
 
          
 
It's a correlation that won't happen for about a month if it happens at all…tape
 
             
 
That’s University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs.

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Davis Supporting Trump Over Foreign Policy Moves

It's a jittery time in America with talk of growing nuclear capability for North Korea. 
 
Congressman Rodney Davis says President Trump is on target with recent moves involving the world's two biggest hot spots of the moment.
 
 
Davis says swift action by President Trump and the military after Syria's chemical attack on civilians sent a clear message to the world that America will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. 

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Animal Rights Groups Want Dead Animal Payments Stopped

The Humane Farming Association is once again attempting to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop payments to livestock farmers when their animals are unsheltered and die as a result of bad weather. 
 
Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says the group has sent a petition to Sonny Perdue ahead of his confirmation as Ag Secretary. Severe storms and heat have hit poultry and livestock hard in recent years. 
 
As an example, winter storm Goliath killed roughly 40,000 dairy cows in Texas and New Mexico in 2015 and 2016. The Livestock Indemnity Program paid out more than $134 million to cover the deaths of 2.5 million poultry and 200,000 livestock from 2013-2015. 
 
The group thinks the USDA is giving out the money to compensate producers without requiring them to provide shelter and shade for their animals. The HFA says in its petition, “It’s a disincentive to farmers and ranchers to take necessary steps to provide their livestock with adequate means of protection from bad weather.” 
 
The group filed a similar petition in May of last year that didn’t get the response they were hoping for.

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Possible Energy Saving Plan for DeWitt County

A plan to save energy and money is in the works for DeWitt County.
 
Orry Cummings from Smart Watt made a case for the energy optimizing company at the County Board Meeting Thursday evening. It offers energy solutions from commercial and industrial enterprises to budget conscious small businesses.
 
 
No project is too small for Smart Watt to take on, but the cost benefits are substantial.
 
The initial feasibility assessment done by the company would save the county 1.2 million dollars over a 20 year period.
 
 
The County Board will vote on whether or not to participate in Smart Watt next month.

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DeWitt County TRIAD Focusing on Seniors With Alzheimer's

A local group who's aim is to help seniors remain safe through the challenges they face has recently begun to focus on those with Alzheimer's Disease.
 
DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner and his office has been instrumental in the group's viability in DeWitt County and indicates the Alzheimer's Association has recently come forward as new partner in their effort.
 
 
The two entities are stepping up to help families with a loved one that might wander off, to have a GPS unit on them and they can be found and minimize the worry and fear.
 
 
 A local partner has also emerged for TRIAD and that would be Warner Hospital and Health Services. Shofner indicates their group is all about partnerships because none of their funding comes from tax-payer dollars.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner says the best way to get more information about the TRIAD program and the things they have going on is to contact his office at 217-935-9507. They are also on Facebook.

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Maroa-Forsyth Schools in Midst of PARCC Testing

Area schools are in the midst of the standardized tesing season for their students and schools and the state seem to be hitting their stride with the latest standardized tests that around three years old.
 
Superintendent of Maroa-Forsyth Schools, Mike Williams says the challenges of the first few years of the common core curriculum and it's PARCC standardized testing seem to be in the rear view mirror.
 
 
The first year of the testing, the window to administer the tests was more open than it is now. He says the State of Illinois essentially gives schools a window of the month of April to get the tests done.
 
 
While standardized testing is a part of the educational process and evaluation of schools from a State level, many school leaders contend it takes away too much time from the classroom and some material in the assessments may not have been covered yet in ther curriculum.
 
 
While things continue to get better, Williams believes there still room to improve. 

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One Injury After Fire At Lincoln Auto Body Shop

A Lincoln man is injured after Treu Body Works in Lincoln caught fire yesterday morning.
 
The employee of Treu Body Works on North Kickapoo Street in Lincoln was the only employee in the building at the time of the fire and was transported to a Springfield burn unit by Logan County Paramedics. 
 
The identity of the man has not been released. 
 
Lincoln Fire, Lincoln Rural Fire Protection District and Atlanta Fire Departments were on scene. A firefighter was sent to the hospital for precautionary reasons. 
 
An investigation of the incident is underway. 

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Peoria Lawmaker Forms Ag Advisory Committee

A Peoria area state lawmaker has formed an Agriculture Advisory Committee. State Senator Chuck Weaver’s 37th District includes ten counties—and each county has one representative on the committee.
 
 
Livestock farmer Becky King represents Knox County on the committee….
 
 
The committee also includes representatives from Henry, Mercer, Bureau, Marshall, Stark, Peoria, LaSalle, Woodford and Lee Counties. 

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Hopes For Budget Compromise Remain Slim

State lawmakers have a little over a month to put together a budget deal. But the prospects for a compromise aren’t too promising says Kevin Semlow—Director of State Legislation for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
And Semlow says the debate continues to be “make cuts” or “raise taxes”.
 
 
State lawmakers return from a two-week break next Monday and will be in session through the end of May. 

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Governor Moving

Governor Bruce Rauner is moving. 
 
The move is connected to the repair and renovation of the Governor’s mansion in Springfield. So that has Rauner shifting residences to the state fairgrounds where he will now live in the house that’s for the state’s director of Agriculture. 
 
 
The work on the Governor’s mansion is expected to last about year and cost about $15 million. The repairs are being funded by private donations. 

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30,000 Gallon LP Tank Struck By Lightning in Western Illinois

A 30,000 gallon LP tank hit by lightning in western Illinois. It happened Wednesday morning as a storm rolled through the Gold Star FS plant—east of Aledo. Aledo Fire Chief Dennis Litwiler says thankfully, there were no injuries or major damage.
 
 
A portion of Illinois Route 17 was shut down for two hours as emergency responders handled the situation. The lightning strike caused a pressure relief valve to release and Litwiler says there’s no way to shut that off without emptying the tank. 

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Illinois Hears From Colorado Official on Legalized Pot

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS ARE GETTING ADVICE ON LEGALIZING RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA FROM A COLORADO OFFICIAL. 
 
COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BARBARA BROHL SAYS THEIR STATE HAS COLLECTED NEARLY 402 MILLION DOLLARS IN TAX REVENUE FROM RECREATIONAL POT.
 
 
TAX REVENUE ALSO PAYS FOR YOUTH PREVENTION PROGRAMS, SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT AND SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION. BROHL ALSO DISCUSSED SETTING STANDARDS FOR HOW MUCH MARIJUANA CAN BE IN YOUR SYSTEM WHILE DRIVING, AND EDUCATING THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF CANNABIS AND HOW THEY AFFECT THE BODY.
 
 
BROHL SAYS COLORADO HAS COLLECTED NEARLY 402 MILLION DOLLARS IN TAX REVENUE FROM RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA.

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Midland Institute Promotes CEO Program At Latest Rotary Program

The Midland Institute is scouring the Clinton community with their message about their hope to bring their CEO program to the community.
 
Cheryl Mitchell with the Institute presented Wednesday to the Clinton Rotary Club. The group hopes to begin a program in Clinton Schools, and possibly coordinated with other districts, to introduce high school students to the business community. Mitchell says it brings school and business together in a way no other program does. 
 
 
Mitchell explains, the Midland Institute helps communities put together the program so they can get it started and then sustain it. She emphasizes it is not a school-funded program, but rather, an investment from the community.
 
 
The students who participate in the CEO program will meet for 90 minutes a day at various business locations across the community. Mitchell explains the students start their own businesses, a for-profit business.
 
 
According to Mitchell, the point of the program is to open up the world of opportunity for students in their own community and to give them a reason to stay in their hometown and build a business. 
 
To learn more about becoming an investor in the program or how you can help out, contact Curt Nettles at Clinton Schools by calling 217-935-8321. 

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Monticello Schools Revisiting Facilities Future

After two failed referendums and no resolution on the future of their facilities, a local school district has begun to revisit what they will do moving forward. 
 
Monticello Schools are facing dealing with school buildings that are either 100 years old or close to it. With that in mind, Dr. Vic Zimmerman, Superintendent of Monticello Schools says they are investigating what they need to do to bring their current facilities up to 21st century learning standards with a new committee.
 
 
Dr. Zimmerman says their aging buildings have many challenges when discussing educating students in 2017. He explains the rooms are small and the infrastructure is not at the level they need.
 
 
Dr. Zimmerman believes the community wants improved facilities, but is not sure they've presented the right plan yet.
 
 
A new facility isn't 100-percent out of the question in the future for Monticello Schools but the Superintendent indicates it is something he feels the Board of Education might be hesitant to try out again. 

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Experts Urge Safe Rural Travel This Spring

Although the 2017 planting season has gotten off to a slow start in Illinois, it won't be long before farmers will be hitting it hard and heavy.  That of course means big machinery on rural roadways.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more on what you should be on the lookout for this spring:

 

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Warm Up Then Cool Down in Illinois

Some warm temperatures for much of Illinois in the middle portion of this week with readings in the 70’s and 80’, but that will change moving toward the weekend. 
 
Meteorologist Eric Schmidt is with EJS Weather in Newton.
 
 
Schmidt also discusses the late April, early May weather predictions right now.
 
 
Schmidt anticipates more wet weather for Saturday for much of central and southern Illinois.

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Blagojevich Seeking Resentencing

Attorneys for former Governor Rod Blagojevich are once again seeking to cut his fourteen year prison term. 
 
Blagojevich's attorneys argued today (Tuesday) before the Chicago based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Democrat's record of good behavior since entering prison five years ago calls for a shortened sentence. 
 
Prosecutors object to the request, noting Blagojevich has never admitted committing major crimes.
 
The three-judge panel will rule in the coming months.

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Pritzker Talks Impacts of Lack of Budget

Democratic gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker visited with representatives of the Illinois Coalition for Community Services at Springfield's Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church to discuss the impact of a lack of a state budget. 
 
Pritzker said Governor Rauner's turnaround agenda isn't turning around the state's fortunes.
 
 
While House Speaker Mike Madigan is absorbing much of the blame, Pritzker says Madigan has a track record of getting budgets done when the Governor isn't with the same party.
 
 
Illinois Coalition for Community Services provides programs for youth in need at the church. 

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Action on Livestock Management Faciltiies Act on Hold

Action on amending the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act is on hold for now. 
 
Although the legislation was announced earlier this year, movement has stalled at this time says Bill Bodine the associate director of state legislation for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
 
 
Bodine says the legislation is not dead it’s just likely being fine-tuned by Koehler before being brought back to committee. 
 
The Illinois General Assembly returns to session next week. 

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City Budgets Looking Good

The Fiscal Year 2018 budgets for the City of Clinton and it's Warner Hospital and Health Services look strong, though each face some unknowns.
 
According to CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, Paul Skowron, the Hospital expects a year end revenue in the black at around $250-thousand. 
 
 
Skowron indicates expenses total around $17.5-million with over half that coming from salary and benefits. He notes the rise includes the expansion at the Family Medicine facility.
 
 
Skowron also notes they are adding 3D mammography this year thanks largely to donations. They are adding additional generator power and roof repairs in their capital budget.
 
 
Despite the woes from the State of Illinois, the State's payments to the City have been on time. City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter indicates they are keeping an eye on the property freeze legislation.
 
 
Lichtenwalter is reporting only small revenue growth and small sales tax growth.
 
 
The City Council approved the Fiscal Year 2018 budget Monday night at the regular City Council meeting. 

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Weekly Crop Report

CORN PLANTING PICKED UP A BIT AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT. 
 
WITH UNDER THREE DAYS ON AVERAGE AVAILABLE FOR FIELDWORK THIS PAST WEEK…PRODUCERS ARE A LITTLE BEHIND LAST YEAR’S PLANTING SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
SCHLEUSENER SAYS 57 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN PLANTED AND THREE PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED.
 
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE FELL A BIT…AND NOW STANDS AT FOUR PERCENT SHORT…77 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 19 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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State Fair Announces More Grandstand Acts

The Illinois State Fair is expanding its grandstand lineup. 
 
State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon says a longtime country legend is joining the mix with the help of some friends.
 
 
Popular acappella group Pentatonix has also been added August 12th. Classic rockers Foghat will play a free concert on the opening night of the fiar August 10th. 
 
There will be a hush all over the fairgrounds august 14th as former Herman Hermits frontman Peter Noone will perform a free show. 
 
On August 18th, Montgomery Gentry will team up with The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and the Outlaws for the Southern Uprising Tour. 
 
August 15th is the lone remaning open date. Tickets for all shows will go on sale April 29th through www.ticketmaster.com.

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Springfield Native's Company Scores Big on Shark Tank

A Springfield native swims with the sharks on ABC and walks away with a boost to his company. 
 
Springfield High Grad Adam Havey's company was successful in getting an investment from Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank to help boost his Guard Llama personal security app and device. It allows a user to contact police without having to call 911. 
 
Havey and his co-founder partner were hoping to get 100-thousand dollars in exchange for a 5 percent stake in the company, but Corcoran gave Guard Llama a 100-thousand dollar loan in exchange for an 18 percent stake in the company. 
 
Havey did not appear on the episode. 
 
Corcoran saw potential in the product with her work in real estate, an area where workers often are concerned about personal safety. Havey explains that the mass shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008 and a brutal kidnapping, rape and murder of a woman near campus two years later during his time at NIU inspired his invention.
 
 
Havey says the fledgling company is taking in about 500-thousand dollars a year in revenue and selling about 100 units a week. 

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Solar Energy Companies Seeking Willing Landowners

Farmers throughout Illinois continue to receive letters from solar companies offering cash in exchange for use of their land. And the interest continues to grow, especially during a period of low commodity prices.
 
Garrett Thalgott (THAL guht), an Illinois Farm Bureau attorney, said the number of solar companies looking for land in Illinois has increased in the last year. The number of farmers receiving offer letters has also increased.
 
IFB has held informational meetings in 12 counties throughout the state to explain solar agreements. He says landowners should consult their own attorney to handle details of a lease agreement.
 
 
A landowner may have a less productive area in mind for a solar panel, but Thalgott says solar contracts have some similarities to windmill land use.
 
 
Farmers should also contact the Farm Services Agency if the land is included in a government farm program.

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UPDATED: Mike Walker To Run For Sheriff

The upcoming DeWitt County Sheriff's race has it's first candidate.
 
Former Chief Deputy under Sheriff Jered Shofner, Mike Walker, will be seeking the Republican nomination for DeWitt County Sheriff in March of next year.
 
Walker has been in law enforcement in DeWitt County for 27 years, serving in posts from patrol deputy to most recently as the Chief Deputy to Sheriff Shofner. He says it seems to have been a natural progression to his professional career to run for Sheriff. 
 
 
In a release Monday morning, Walker vows to use tax payer dollars wisely and use his 27-year career in DeWitt County to continue to provide professional law enforcement to the citizen of DeWitt County.
 
 
According to Walker, the top issue facing the Sheriff's office at this point is the heroin problem that has hit close to home in the last few years. He hopes to carry on some efforts started by Sheriff Shofner. 
 
 
Walker says he will continue to work to maintain the professionalism in the Sheriff's Office. He will work hard to continue to finding good people to work in their office. 

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Sheriff Shofner Educating Public on Traffic Stops

One local law enforcement official is encouraging people to watch a viral video about traffic stops.
 
"Lights in the Mirror" is a video produced by the Illinois Sheriffs' Association in conjunction with the FBI, and the Chief of Police Association about what to do in a traffic stop. DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner indicates while the video is directed towards teen drivers, it is beneficial for all drivers to review.
 
 
Sheriff Shofner says the best thing to do during a traffic stop is to have a positive attitude. Law enforcement officials try to correct adult driving behavior with traffic stops. A person's attitude during a stop could determine whether or not a citation is issued.
 
 
The video also covers how to properly take up a grievance with an officer. Sheriff Shofner explains grievances should be directed towards the police department.
 
 
It is important to keep your hands on the steering wheel during a traffic stop and the Sheriff notes if you get pulled over, turn on your dome light as the officer approaches your vehicle.
 
 
To view "Lights in the Mirror" visit the DeWitt County Sheriff website or Facebook page, illinoissheriffs.org, or YouTube.

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Post Office Reminding of Dog, Carrier Safety

Your local mail carrier is hoping this summer while you are outside to keep your pets away from your mail carrier.
 
Last week was National Dog Bite Prevention Week and the United States Postal Service is reminding residents, there are too many mail carriers that know first hand the pain of having an animal attack.
 
Over 67-hundred postal service employees were victims of dog attacks last year, that amongs 4.5-million people that were attacked.
 
Dog owners are encouraged to work with their animals on obedience skills, or even, take the dog to obedience training. Dog owners are also encouraged to keep the animal inside when the mail carrier is coming by your home. 
 
Children are 900-times more likely to be attacked by a dog and with students likely to start being out walking home from school or people out more for walks, you're reminded to never run by a dog. A dog's instinct is to chase you. 
 
If you think you're going to be attacked by a dog, place something between you and the dog. If you do not have anything to protect yourself with, remain still and do not make eye-contact with the animal.
 
Remain motionless until the dog leaves and slowly back away.
 
The Post Office encourages you to talk with your local mail carrier for more on dealing with pets and postal workers. 

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Macon County History Museum Seeks Sports Memorabilia

If you grew up in Decatur and have old sports collectibles from the city's history, a Macon County entity would like to inquire about allowing them to borrow it for an upcoming display.
 
Nathan Pierce is the Director of the Macon County History Museum and indicates he is planning for an upcoming sports exhibit and is hoping to find some memorabilia from the city's storied past with sports.
 
 
Pierce hopes to highlight former sports programs that experienced a great deal of success along with players that went on to do great things. He says he already has some ideas for what he'd like to do.
 
 
Pierce says he's been in contact with local schools about memorabilia from them and hopes anyone with artifacts that they think might be worth being a part of their exhibit to contact him at 217-422-4919. 

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Welcome change possible for IL truckers

Illinois law requires truck lengths on local roads to be no longer than 55 feet. Don Schaefer, Executive Vice President of Midwest Truckers Association, says today’s equipment is longer than the legal length. He adds that for years they have tried to change Illinois law to reflect today’s equipment.
 
 
Both House Bill 683 and Senate Bill 51 would increase truck lengths on local roads to 65 feet. Schaefer says since existing equipment is already of that length, changing the law will not lead to safety concerns.
 
 
Schaefer says both bills have advanced through their respective chambers. He hopes final legislation will be approved within a couple of weeks.
 

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Two State Senators push against tax increase

Two Republican State Senators, Kyle McCarter of Lebanon and Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods, are teaming up for an alternative to talk of the stalled grand bargain in the Senate. The pair are promoting the multi-point "Taxpayer Bargain" plan for a balanced state budget. McCarter says they stand alone when it comes to offering a budget without a tax hike....
 
McCarter was referring to Bloomington State Senator Bill Brady's cut oriented budget plan. McCarter may remind you of Han Solo in Star Wars, who was known to say "don't tell me the odds"....
 
The budget plan maintains 100% of General State Aid for elemenetary and secondary education. Medicaid spending for the most vulnerable would also be shielded. State agencies and departments would make 10% across the board cuts. Medicaid and pension reform are other highlights. More details can be found on www.taxpayerbargain.com. McCarter says a similar effort is ready.

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Rural Ag Council Discusses Tax Proposal

In a recent letter to Congress, the Rural and Agriculture Council of America and 11 other national agriculture organizations urged Chairmen Orrin Hatch and Kevin Brady to preserve the current tax treatment of advertising. 
 
If Congress imposes this new tax on advertisements, the effects could seriously damage rural economies. RACA Vice President Chris Skorupa…
               
 
Skorupa says these additional costs - if imposed - would be detrimental to rural communities…
 
       
 
As Congress considers tax reform in the months ahead, Skorupa says RACA will continue to oppose any changes to the treatment of advertising tax.

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Treasurer Launches Campaign to Return $2.8 Mil in Unclaimed Property

STATE TREASURER MIKE FRERICHS’ OFFICE IS PUSHING TO REUNITE ILLINOIS RESIDENTS WITH TWO POINT EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS IN UNCLAIMED PROPERTY.
 
THE TREASURER’S OFFICE IS CHARGED WITH HOLDING MONEY AND ITEMS FROM LONG FORGOTTEN SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES, BANK ACCOUNTS AND OTHER SOURCES. FRERICHS SAYS THEY TRY AND REACH OUT TO THOSE WHO MAY HAVE UNCLAIMED PROPERTY.
 
 
TREASURER FRERICHS SAYS HIS OFFICE IS SITTING ON EVERYTHING FROM OLD WAR MEDALS TO FORGOTTEN PAYCHECKS AND SAVINGS BONDS. THEY TRY TO LOCATE THE ORIGINAL OWNER AND RETURN THE MONEY OR ITEM…BUT HE SAYS SOMETIMES IT’S A CHALLENGE.
 
FRERICHS SAYS SOME PEOPLE DON’T BELIEVE THE PROGRAM IS LEGIT AND POTENTIALLY MISS OUT MONEY. HE URGES THE PUBLIC TO VISIT THE WEBSITE: ILLINOIS TREASURER DOT GOV TO SEARCH THE I-CASH DATABASE FOR ANY MONEY THEY ARE OWED.

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New Class of Juvenile Justice Specialist Interns Graduate

21 NEW INTERNS GRADUATED FROM THEIR TRAINING TO WORK IN THE ILLINOIS JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM THIS WEEK. 
 
THE TRAINEES WILL WORK CLOSELY WITH TROUBLED KIDS LIVING IN ILLINOIS YOUTH CENTERS. THEY WILL TEACH THEM VALUABLE LIFE SKILLS AND HELP THEM GET AN EDUCATION. GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER THANKED THE GRADUATES FOR THEIR COMMITMENT AND HELP IN TURNING AROUND YOUNG LIVES.
 
 
STATE JUVENILE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR HEIDI MUELLER SAYS IT’S AN EXCITING TIME FOR THE TRAINEES TO ENTER THE FIELD, AS THE FOCUS CONTINUES TO SHIFT FROM INCARCERATION TO REHABILITATION. SHE EXPLAINS WHAT THEY WILL BE DOING ON THE JOB.
 
 
THE MAJORITY OF THE CLASS WILL WORK AT THE ILLINOIS YOUTH CENTER IN ST. CHARLES AND ONE INTERN WILL BE STATIONED AT THE YOUTH CENTER IN WARRENVILLE.

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Coloring Easter Eggs with Natural Dye

WANT TO TRY NATURAL DYE FOR YOUR EASTER EGGS THIS YEAR? A UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION NUTRITION EDUCATOR SAYS TO JUST LOOK AROUND YOUR KITCHEN FOR IDEAS.
 
CARROTS, ONION SKINS, COFFEE GROUNDS OR SPINACH LEAVES ALL MAKE GREAT NATURAL DYES SAYS U OF I EXTENSION’S MARY LIZ WRIGHT.
 
 
SIMMER THE DESIRED INGREDIENT IN WATER FOR 15 TO 30 MINUTES, THEN STRAIN AND ADD ONE TABLESPOON OF VINEGAR PER CUP TO HELP THE COLOR SET. LEAVE THE HARDBOILED EGG IN THE DYE UNTIL IT REACHES THE DESIRED COLORS.
 
JUST ABOUT ANYTHING CAN BE SIMMERED AND MADE INTO A DYE SAYS THE U OF I EXTENSION’S MARY LIZ WRIGHT. THAT INCLUDES COFFEE GROUNDS, RED CABBAGE, BLUEBERRIES, ONION SKINS AND SPINACH.
 
 
OF COURSE THIS ALL STARTS WITH A GOOD HARDBOILED EGG. WRIGHT RECOMMENDS PLACING EGGS IN A PAN WITH COLD WATER, HEAT TO BOILING, THEN REMOVE FROM HEAT AND LET SIT FOR 11 MINUTES. AFTER THAT, DRAIN AND PLUNGE EGGS INTO ICE WATER. YOU CAN THEN PLACE THE EGG INTO THE DYE AND LEAVE UNTIL IT REACHES THE DESIRED COLOR.

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Clinton City Council Expected To Approve FY18 Budget Monday

When the Clinton City Council meets Monday night, they will be presented with the fiscal year 18 budget.
 
City Treasurer Clint Lichtenwalter explains the budget this year looks good. He says barring any unforeseen expenses, the city should break even at the end of the year.
 
 
The City of Clinton is one of the few communities that make the claim their police pension fund is almost 100-percent funded. Lichtnewalter says they've been diligent in keeping up with their pension funds for police and fire.
 
 
With the troubles from the State of Illinois continuing, Lichtenwalter says the City rarely finds themselves in trouble because of the State.
 
 
Lichtenwalter says the City is in good standing financially. He says they still have some loans out for the water department but calls the self-funded health insurance fund, which also includes the hospital, the best part of the budget. He says after getting depleted a few years ago, they have built it back up. 
 
Lichtenwalter will present the City with the budget Monday and then CEO of Warner Hospital and Health Services, Paul Skowron will present the Hospital budget. 

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Congressman Davis Still Hopeful For Healthcare Reforms

Even though a bill in Washington to repeal and replace Obamacare never materialized with a lack of Republican support, a federal lawmaker does not believe all is lost.
 
Congressman Rodney Davis says a repeal and replacement plan for Obamacare could still happen. He believes something needs to be done as healthcare costs continue to rise under Obamacare.
 
 
Davis hopes to work to get Americans on Medicaid into a workplace and onto an employer based healthcare system, which he feels should be the goal of the government.
 
 
According to Davis, President Trump has been engaged in the process and wants something to get done.
 
 
Davis says he was disappointed when the healthcare bill they had in place failed a few weeks ago. 

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Getting around Illinois gets major reboot

IDOT's Getting Around Illinois road conditions website has received a major upgrade. The new Getting Around Illinois site is versatile to function with smartphones, tablets and the traditional desktops and laptops. IDOT's Kelsea Gurski says information on road closures, construction and winter driving conditions will come much faster.... 
 
 
Gurski notes the information available to motorists has greatly expanded...
 
 
The new Getting Around Illinois site also features a number of cameras and weather stations across the state.

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Corn Growers Seeking Applicants For Leadership Academy

The National Corn Growers Association is seeking applications for the NCGA Leadership Academy, part of Syngenta’s Leadership at Its Best Program. The Leadership academy is held in August in Minneapolis, Minnesota and a second session will be in Washington, D.C. in January 2018.
 
Michael Lefevere is President of the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee and has participated in the Leadership Academy. He explains why he was interested in the program…
 
                       
 
Through the program, participants build the skill set needed to become a more confident public speaker with a solid background in the procedures and processes used by NCGA and state organizations. Lefevere says there a many other things attendees will learn in the Leadership Academy, including listening skills…
 
          
 
He says the best things about the Leadership Academy are Networking and building friendships with other corn growers across the nation, and learning more about how NCGA helps farmers succeed…
 
                          
 
Open to all NCGA members, growers must be nominated by their state corn association to participate. Applications are being accepted now…
 
                                 
 
Interested members should contact their state associations now for further information and get completed applications in to state offices by the end of May.

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Clinton Grade School Students To Graduate DARE

Clinton Elementary School fifth grade students will go through their fifth grade DARE graduation today.
 
Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers leads the ten week program and this week those students will conclude their curriculum with graduation. Chief Lowers says the program is oriented around teaching youth about the dangers of drugs and alcohol but has been modified since its inception in the early '80s.
 
 
According to Chief Lowers, the modified curriculum now also focuses on communication, which deals with saying no to drugs and alcohol. It also has lessons centered around bullying and cyber-bullying.
 
 
For DARE graduation, students will present their DARE projects to the class, which is the final project of the course. Chief Lowers explains those will go up in the hallway of the school for an open house.
 
 
Chief Lowers says he enjoys working with the students each year. This is his second year as the DARE instructor. He feels this is a great way for the police department to get in front of students at an early age and develop a good relationship with them and let them see police as a community service oriented department. 

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Community Care to Possibly Become Medicaid Only Program

A state funded senior program is under fire amid the state's continued fiscal mess and lack of progress towards a budget. 
 
Community Care Systems and the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) could be undergoing a change so the state can save money. The possible change would turn the Community Care Program into a Medicaid only program nd those already a part of the program who do not qualify for aid would not be grandfathered in. Rebecca Wheat's message at the DeWitt County Coalition on Wednesday was to be aware of the change and to plan accordingly. 
 
 
Of the 27 adults in Community Care, only three are Medicaid eligible. The state, however, is trying to come up with a solution to this problem.
 
 
Wheat is determined to look at this creatively, as the state has no money to give and the number of older adults will only ever increase.
 
 
To learn more about Community Care Systems and the services they provide  go to www.cciscares.com or call 217-935-4560.

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Hearing Next Week on Legal Weed

The effort to legalize marijuana is getting a more official push next week. Supportive lawmakers are going to hold committee hearings next week on how laws are working in other states. 
 
But State Rep. Kelly Cassidy says they aren’t in a big rush make Illinois the next state with legal recreational marijuana. 
 
 
Lawmakers say selling and then taxing pot could bring in more than $350 million in taxes each year for the state. The proposed law would make it legal to posses no more than 28 grams of the drug.

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Congressman Davis Says Poll Numbers Can't Hide Flaws in Obamacare

Congressman Rodney Davis is unfazed by poll numbers that show growing support for keeping Obamacare. 
 
In a recent appearance on CNN, the Taylorville Republican said the GOP must proceed with addressing a key issue on the healthcare front.
 
 
President Trump plans to tackle the health care issue sooner rather than later, saying he wants to resolve the debate before moving on to tax reform.

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Barickman Tees Up School Funding Reform

State Senator Jason Barickman is offering his concept for school funding reform. The pending bill calls for the state to look at each district and their resources separately without a blanket funding formula. 
 
Barickman hopes to get legislation moving sooner rather than later.
 
 
Barickman calls his K through 12 funding plan an evidence based model, with 27 separate points figuring into each school district's funding formula.

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Wapella Trustee Board Has Tie in Election Final Results

A coin toss will decide one of the three seats for the Wapella Village Trustee Board.
 
The final votes were tallied Wednesday morning at the DeWitt County Clerk's office and there was a tie after the six ballots were counted. 
 
Suzanna Holland of the Citizens Party received the most votes with 97. Mandy Huff of the Peoples Party received 91 votes.
 
The tie is between Reggie Westfall of the Citizens Party and Sherry Mears of the Peoples Party with 90 votes apiece.
 
A coin toss will determine the winner.
 
The race for Village Clerk in Wapella went final as Lauren Johnson received 97 votes to the 72 votes for Sherri Stamp.
 
The two year seat for the Village Board of Trustees went final Wednesday morning as Ryan Carter of the Peoples Party received 85 votes to the 84 votes for Mark Miller of the Citizens Party.
 
The Wapella Village President race is final with Richard Karr receiving 90 votes, defeating Cheri Miller, who received 83 votes.
 
A date and time for the coin toss to break the tie for the four-year seat will be determined at a later date. 
 
By a vote of 530-488 Chris Hammer defeated Marcia Cooper for the 2-year seat on the Clinton School Board. The seat is for an unexpired term.
 
Incumbent Mike Walker will retain his seat on the Clinton Board of Education.
 
Dan Matthews and Cole Ritter were elected to fill two vacancies on the School Board. 

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DeWitt County EMA Talks Spring Alerts

When you get those weather alerts on your phone for potential weather situations, your local safety officials want you to know what each alert means.
 
Teresa Barnett, Director of the DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency Office explains warnings are the most severe alert you can get. She says when you receive a tornado warning on your NOAA weather radio or your phone, you need to find shelter immediately.
 
 
According to Barnett, those alerts you receive for flash flooding are not to be dismissed. She explains those can happen most often in low lying areas that could even include highways. Barnett stresses to turn around if you come across flooding.
 
 
Barnett reminds residents a 'watch' encompasses a greater amount of time with the potential for a storm of some sort to occur while a 'warning' means a storm is imminent.
 
 
Barnett reminds residents, today you'll be able to purchase a NOAA weather radio for a discounted rate and receive free help in getting it programmed at Clinton Walgreens from 3:30 to 6:30 pm.

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Monticello Schools In Midst of Yearly Assesments

It's yearly assessment time for area schools.
 
Monticello schools are in the midst of the recently rolled out PARCC tests and Superintendent Dr. Vic Zimmerman (right) explains this year the state has switched high school students to the SAT from the many years participating in the ACT testing.
 
 
The first time around with the SAT this year will be a change for schools as they will not have any data to compare this year to. Dr. Zimmerman says he wasn't in favor of the SAT switch because it's just another change in standardized testing.
 
 
The State of Illinois was required to go out to bid for the standardized testing and SAT was the low bidder in that process, which was the reason for the switch.
 
Dr. Zimmerman says there will be kids that take both standardized tests for their college careers and believes results will likely be varied on the success between the two. 

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Congressman Davis Wants Faster Social Security Claims For People With Terminal Illnesses

US Congressman Rodney Davis wants the claims process to be faster for people with a terminal illness when applying for Social Security benefits.
 
Davis calls this long overdue as he's seen the process play out with his own family and feels it shouldn't be something people in that situation have to wait on.
 
 
Congressman Davis is introducing a bill for two physicians to sign off on the illness and for the patient to begin receiving their benefits right away.
 
 
Davis notes, many times when a person has a terminal illness, they are unable to work which is when they need those benefits. 

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Tax Day Week Away

Tax day is normally April 15 but this year you have a few more days to file. The deadline is April 18. 
 
And if your waiting to file you aren’t alone says Terry Horstman with the Department of Revenue. 
 
 
The state continues to see folks who do file do so electronically. Almost 9 in 10 are sent in that way. And the wait to get your refund is running about month. 

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PORK PRODUCERS APPLAUD WHITE HOUSE ACTION ON GIPSA RULE

The Donald Trump administration will further delay the effective date of a regulation related to the buying and selling of livestock, a move applauded by the National Pork Producers Council.
 
The Farmer Fair Practices Rules, written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, includes two proposed regulations and an interim final rule. Dustin Baker is NPPC’s Deputy Director of Economics & Domestic Production Issues. He says pork producers welcome the delay of the interim final rule…
 
                
 
The interim final rule will now become effective October 19th, following a review and the public comment period. Baker explains the rule and why pork producers are concerned with it…
 
      
 
He says the delay and review of the rule is a step in the right direction…
 
     
 
An Informa Economics study found that the GIPSA Rule would cost the U.S. pork industry more than $420 million annually, because of lawsuits brought under the “no competitive injury” provision included in the interim final rule.

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Police Going Through Hate Crime Training

Law enforcement in Illinois are receiving more training on how to handle hate crimes. The Illinois State Police are working hand in hand with the Anti-Defamation League to incorporate training to help police identify and investigate hate crimes. The League’s Jessica Gall… 
 
 
There are also ongoing efforts to help teach tolerance and wipe out hate with education programs in school.

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DeWitt County EMA Hosting Weather Radio Event This Week

With the spring storm season upon us, it is important for everyone to have a weather radio in their home.
 
That is the message being conveyed this week by the DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency, who once again this year, will team with WAND meteorologist JC Fultz to help local residents program their NOAA weather radios. Lana Ophorst with DeWitt County EMA, indicates it will take place Wednesday from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm at Clinton Walgreens.
 
 
Ophorst says the NOAA weather radios are a great asset and will notify you any time an alert goes out. She says this includes watches and warnings and the steps you should take at that time. 
 
 
According to EMA Director, Teresa Barnett, the thinking that the sirens will alert someone in their homes is inaccurate. She explains those sirens are for people who are outside and encourages residents to purchase a weather radio.
 
 
During Wednesday's event at Walgreens, weather radios will be discounted five-dollars.
 
Regional Radio reminds you, The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and 95.9 FM WEZC are linked to the National Weather Service, so any time a watch or warning issued, DeWitt County and all surrounding counties are notified via the stations. 

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DeWitt County Friendship Center Celebrating Successful Fundraising Effort

A local entity is celebrating another successful fundraising event from last month.
 
The DeWitt County Friendship Center's annual ham and bean supper and cake auction was coming off a record year and administrators say their 2017 fundraiser was another success. Executive Director Sissy Leggett says it was a great event this year even though they did not quite match last year's levels raised.
 
 
Leggett continues to push the message the Friendship Center does not receive any state or federal dollars in the continued mission of being a resource for the County's seniors. She explains they rely on fundraisers and grants and local tax levies to help keep them afloat.
 
 
Leggett feels as though the fundraiser continues to grown and get better every year.
 
She thanks everyone that came out and thanks Lance Schmid for donating his auction services during their cake auctions and for making it an enjoyable evening. 

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Weekly Crop Report

WET CONDITIONS ARE DELAYING PLANTING PROGRESS AS WE HEAR IN THE WEEKLY CROP REPORT. 
 
THE WEATHER HAMPERED CORN PLANTING AND MADE SPRING CALVING DIFFICULT THIS PAST WEEK SAYS CROP STATISTICIAN MARK SCHLEUSENER.
 
 
ONE PERCENT OF CORN HAS BEEN PLANTED, COMPARED TO TWO PERCENT AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR. 
 
 
TWO PERCENT OF WINTER WHEAT HAS HEADED AND 36 PERCENT OF OATS HAVE BEEN PLANTED. 72 PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP IS RATED IN GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION.
 
AVERAGE STATEWIDE TOPSOIL MOISTURE IS NOW RATED AT FOUR PERCENT SHORT…70 PERCENT ADEQUATE AND 26 PERCENT SURPLUS.

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Reaction To Approval of Neil Gorsuch

Some farmers and other landowners welcome a full U-S Supreme Court now that Neil Gorsuch has been sworn in to take the late Antonin Scalia's seat. 
 
Ellen Steen serves as general counsel and secretary of the American Farm Bureau Federation;
 
 
Steen talks about why some farmers have a high interest in what takes place in the U-S Supreme Court.
 
 
The U-S Senate confirmed Gorsuch after a bruising confirmation battle late last week.
 
The American Farm Bureau's Steen expects the high court to continue to hear cases on land use, the power of federal government agencies and property rights.

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Farmers Using Calendar to Plant, Not Weather

Even with a record warm winter, a Western Illinois producer says it’s still about the calendar and not the weather when determining to plant corn. 
 
 
Chad Bell farms near Viola, just south of the Quad Cities in Western Illinois. 

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Governor Not Using Failed Universities, Social Services as Leverage

Two years ago Governor Bruce Rauner told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board that quote "Crisis. Crisis creates leverage.” 
 
But now he’s denying that he’s using inadequate funding for state universities and social service agencies as a leverage point for his turn around agenda items. 
 
 
Rauner continues to say the state needs term limits, fair maps, property tax freezes and other structural reforms to fix the state for the long haul.

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DCFS Promoting Child Abuse Awareness Month

You can help in the fight against child abuse. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services says if you see something, say something. 
 
Veronica Reza says that you should report any concerns about child abuse to the child abuse hotline. From there in about 24 hours a social worker will reach out for help. And often the first step isn’t to take a child out of a home.
 
 
To help call 1-800-25- ABUSE.
 
The call is anonymous.

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Area Fire Crews Gather For Large Training Excercise in Clinton

Upwards of ten fire departments were in Clinton Saturday for a training exercise that encompassed a whole city block.
 
Interim Clinton Fire Chief Jason Karr explains the city block that will become a Mach One gas station was taken over for fire departments to conduct a variety of training exercises on the homes and former business locations. 
 
 
President of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, or MABAS, Keith Hackle explains Saturday was a unique opportunity for everyone to train together and says they got some good training.
 
 
According to Chief Hackle, who is also the Fire Chief at Warrensburg Fire Department, everyone who came out Saturday had the chance to train. 
 
The block of former homes and businesses is expected to be demolished with construction for the gas station to start by the summer months. 
 
 

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Clinton Rotary Preparing For Potential Foreign Exchange Student

A local group is hoping to find a couple of families to house a foreign exchange student as soon as next school year. 
 
Clinton Rotarian Tom Reddington heads the foreign exchange program for the Clinton Rotary Club and explains they need a family that would take in a teen and help them learn the American culture and also learn about their culture. Their hope is the student becomes part of your family.
 
 
To become a host-family, Reddington explains there is a little bit of a process. There is a background check, with an interview but they would have a support system through Rotary.
 
 
An exchange student will spend a little less than a year in the United States, however, Reddington indicates that student will not spend the whole time with one family. He indicates they ask for around four months for a family to take on a student.
 
 
If you might be interested in hosting a foreign exchange student, contact Reddington at 309-838-4072. He indicates they are actively seeking families for a potential student to come to Clinton in the fall. 

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Monticello Community Leaders Celebrating Continued Downtown Growth

The focus of the downtown area of Monticello is starting pay dividends.
 
That is according to Director of Community Development, Callie McFarland. She explains they have seen lots of growth thanks to over a million dollars of investment.
 
 
With the renewed focus into the downtown of rural America in recent years, McFarland indicates there is evidence to show people want to have a thriving downtown and feels rural America is going to have to do a reinvention of itself anyway.
 
 
McFarland feels Monticello's downtown is very unique and has a lot to offer. Additionally, there's a lot of unique destinations for people to come and see.
 
 
The Community Development Office for Monticello has been helping potential business owners for a few years with their entrepenuership bootcamp program which helps prepare business owners for what it takes to not only start a business, but maintain it. 
 
McFarland indicates they will start up the program again soon. To get more information, monticellobootcamp.com or contact McFarland at 217-672-2583. 

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Not Too Early For Spring Gardening, Lawn Preparations

If you've got areas of your yard that look a little sparse, now is the time to get grass seed planted to get your yard looking good for the summer.
 
Candace Miller with the University of Illinois Extension Office indicates with the rainy spring season upon us, getting that seed planted now is idea.
 
 
The mild winter and spring so far has put some things ahead of schedule. Miller says you can start getting some weed control chemicals down.
 
 
Miller says it's not too early to get some cool season plants out. She points to some flowers and even vegetables like leafy greens and cauliflowers and such.
 
 
To get more information about upcoming gardening programs and tips for the spring planting season. Contact them at 217-935-5764.

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Six Biotech Giants Dropping to Three by Year's End

Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says the European Union’s approval of the ChemChina merger with Syngenta means the ball is likely rolling for the six biggest biotech companies to be whittled down to three by the end of this year. A day before the E.U. approved the deal, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission also okayed the deal as long as certain stipulations were met that require ChemChina to sell off parts of its business that overlap with Syngenta. Now that the U.S. and E.U. have approved the deal, the two companies need the approval of China, India, and Mexico to complete their $43 million deal. Politico says the next deal likely to close will be the biggest. It’s the $130 billion merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont, which still requires the approval of the U.S., Brazil, and China. There’s still a $66 billion dollar deal between Bayer CropSciences and Monsanto to complete yet. The two companies are still looking for approval from up to 30 nation groups. However, they do expect to get an answer from the U.S. and the E.U. by the end of June, which they say would put the deal on track to be completed by the last quarter of this year.

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DCFS Urging Public to Join Fight Against Child Abuse

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS LOOKING FOR THE PUBLIC’S HELP IN FIGHTING CHILD ABUSE. 
 
IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. THAT’S A MOTTO D-C-F-S HOPES YOU’LL FOLLOW, AND NOT BE AFRAID TO REPORT ANY CONCERNS. SPOKESPERSON VERONICA RESA SAYS A CALL TO THE CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE DOESN’T MEAN THE STATE WILL AUTOMATICALLY BREAK UP A FAMILY.
 
 
YOU SHOULDN’T BE AFRAID TO REPORT YOUR CONCERNS TO THE D-C-F-S CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE SAYS SPOKESPERSON VERONICA VERA. YOU CAN CALL ANONYMOUSLY, AND A TRAINED STAFF WILL ASK SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SITUATION YOU’VE WITNESSED.
 
 
SHE STRESSES THE GOAL ISN’T TO BREAK-UP A HOME, IT’S TO GET THEM THE SERVICES THEY NEED TO BECOME A STRONGER FAMILY SUCH AS FINANCIAL PLANNING, SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT AND MORE. THE CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE NUMBER IS: 1-800-25-ABUSE.

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Brady Focused on Cuts

As Democrats rolled out a stopgap plan to fund colleges and universities and social service programs, State Senator Bill Brady was talking about his ideas for a budget. The Bloomington Republican continues to talk about a budget fix achieved with spending cuts...
 
 
Brady recently unveiled his plan for $5 billion in cuts and selling $6 billion dollars in revenue bonds to cut the state's backlog of unpaid bills and save the state millions of dollars in interest costs. 
 

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Drone Operators on Farms Asked to be Extra Cautious

The National Agricultural Aviation Association wants to remind farmers using drones on their operations this year to remember to keep an eye out for agricultural aircraft flying low over their fields. Agricultural aviators often fly as low as ten feet off the ground, and this year may find themselves in the same airspace as drones that are licensed to fly as high as 400 feet off the ground. That’s why the National Ag Aviation Association is urging farmers to do what they can to watch out for the larger aircraft. Executive Director Andrew Moore says, “When flying at speeds over 140 miles per hour, agricultural aviators likely won’t see a UAV. That’s why it’s so important for drone operators to protect aviators any way they can.” In tests conducted by the Colorado Agricultural Aviators Association and the state of Colorado, not one pilot could continually track a 28-inch drone while flying at regular speeds. They may be spotted for a second but won’t be continually seen, so it’s up to drone operators to prevent potential collisions.

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Farmers and Ranchers Want Comprehensive Tax Reform

The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing this week to look at how the tax code currently in place affects farmers, ranchers, and the rural communities they live in. The American Farm Bureau was one of the organizations giving testimony. Pat Wolff, Senior Director of Congressional Relations, told the committee that farmers and ranchers need more flexibility built into the tax code. The goal would be to give farmers the flexibility to grow during the good times and help them adapt to situations often beyond their control when tough times hit. The House has proposed ideas for tax reform, many of which the Farm Bureau supports. Some of the proposals include reducing income tax rates, reducing capital gains taxes, immediate business expensing, and repealing the estate tax. Wolff says Farm Bureau has ideas that would improve the proposed changes to the tax code, including reinstating benefits like the deduction for business interest expense and guaranteeing the continuation of stepped-up basis, cash accounting, and like-kind exchanges. “Running a farm and ranch business is challenging under the best conditions,” Wolff said in her testimony. “Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that recognizes the unique financial challenges that impact them.”

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Scovill Zoo Celebrating 50 Years With Season Opening This Weekend

A Macon County entity is celebrating 50 years in business when they open up for the season this weekend.
 
Director of the Scovill Zoo Ken Frye indicates it will be Zoo's 50th year when they open for the season and indicates they are very excited for the year.
 
 
The winter has been busy for staff at the Zoo. According to Frye some changes won't be visible to their guests but there will be some things they will notice, like a new holding area for their monkeys and new fencing for the petting zoo.
 
 
Next weekend, the Scovill Zoo is doing their annual Easter Egg Hunt. Later this year, the Zoo plans to replace their train engine. They also have introduced a new toucan to their bird exhibit. 
 
For more information about Scovill Zoo, visit scovillzoo.org. 

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Coronor Releases Identity of Man Killed At McElroy Metal

DeWitt County Coronor Randy Rice has released the identity of the man that was killed in an accident at McElroy Metal Thursday morning. 
57-year old Kerry Daniels of Clinton, Illinois was pronounced dead at the scene 10:35 AM Thursday April 6, 2017 after a Load of sheet metal fell on him at the McElroy Metal Service Center off Route 10 in Clinton. 
 
An autopsy is scheduled today.  
 
The DeWitt County Coroner's office, Clinton  Police Department and OSHA are investigating the death.
 
Just before 10 am Thursday, responders were called to McElroy Metal for a report a person involved in an accident and was discovered unresponsive.
 
EMS, fire and police crews were called to the scene and Heyworth Fire Department was called in as well.

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