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Macomb Local News Archives for 2016-06

Safety First! Firework Tips from the NFPA

The upcoming 4th of July weekend is sure to be filled with festivities, and should be a great time to celebrate our country and enjoy our friends and families. However, it is important to remember safety, especially at this time of year. The National Fire Protection Association is reminding the public that there is simply no truly safe way to set off consumer fireworks. Nearly 50% of all fires reported on July 4th annually are started by fireworks, and even if a fire doesn't occur, the possibility for damage to the user is incredibly high, and can be life-altering and even life-threatening. In 2014 alone, an estimated 10,500 people went into emergency rooms for firework-related incidents, 67% of which happened within a month of July 4th. To help further increase safety awareness, the Federal Emergency Management Agency office in Chicago has offered these 4th of July safety tips:
1. Be sure fireworks are legal in your area before using or buying them.
2. Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers alone account for one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.
3. If you set off fireworks, keep a bucket of water handy in case of malfunction or fire.
4. If fireworks malfunction, don’t relight them! Douse and soak them with water then throw them away.
5. Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one that is glass or metal.
6. Use your grill well away from your home and deck railings, and out from under branches or overhangs.
7. Open your gas grill before lighting.
8. Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below your gas or propane grill so it cannot be ignited.
9. Declare a three-foot "kid and pet-free zone" around the grill to keep them safe.
10. Avoid loose clothing that can catch fire when cooking on the grill.
Firework shows can be an awe-inspiring and fun way to celebrate, but play it safe and attend public firework displays put on by trained professionals. Locally, there will be a fireworks show in WIU's Q-Lot at approximately 9:00pm on the 4th, and you can find more information about this event at www.cityofmacomb.com
 

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First State Bank Donates Over $2.5k to West Prairie Schools

The First State Bank of Illinois has recently donated over $2,500 to the West Prairie School District. This comes through their First State - School First Credit Card program, which uses transactions on a particular card, and takes one percent out of each, donating them to the school. Through this program, over $157,000 has been donated to various schools over the years, and so far this year, over $18,000 has been sent out. If you're interested in supporting local schools with this card, you can contact any First State Bank of Illinois either in person or online. 

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Illinois State Museum Hosting "Welcome Back" Party

The Illinois State Museum is planning a big welcome back event for Saturday, July 2nd at the main museum campus in Springfield. Doors will open up to visitors at 8:30 in the morning, and throughout the day there will be food, drinks, live music, and activities based around celebrating memories of the museum, as well as creating new ones. If you're not able to make it out, they will be doing a live video feed throughout the day on the museum's Facebook page, and you can tune in and interact right from home. The celebration will continue throughout the following weeks, with more events to welcome the public back in. The Dickson Mounds branch in Lewistown will also be re-opening on the 2nd, but will have a big event the following week so as not to conflict. All of the info is up at www.illinoisstatemuseum.org

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IL Reproductive Rights Groups Praise Supreme Court Decision

Reproductive-rights advocates in Illinois are praising the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-to-3 ruling that has struck down key parts of a Texas law that severely restricted how abortion clinics could operate. The ruling - hailed as a major milestone by pro-choice groups - removes medical-practice regulations placed on abortion clinics that are so restrictive that, since they were enacted in 2013, half of the clinics in Texas were forced to close their doors. Lorie Chaiten, with the ACLU of Illinois, helped author an amicus briefs in the case. She says the outcome is the result of a very long, hard fight. 
 
"A tremendous victory for women's right to abortion. While there's still much work to be done, the court made absolutely clear that politicians can no longer use sham justifications to pass laws that deny women access to abortion."
-Lorie Chaiten, ACLU of Illinois
 
Out of the Midwestern states, Illinois has some of the fewest restrictions on women's access to abortion, but there are certainly still obstacles. Chaiten hopes that these challenges will be able to be overcome in the near future, partially thanks to this Supreme Court decision. 
 
"I think what we're going to see is a lot of effort to repeal laws that can't be supported under medical standards. I think we're going to see challenges to those laws, and hopefully, some restraint on the part of politicians who've been trying to shut down abortion care."
-Lorie Chaiten, ACLU of Illinois
 
Other legal experts are saying that this recent ruling could put similar legislation in jeopardy, meaning states will now have to prove that these are actually protecting women's health by restricting abortion. The decision was passed on Monday, with the court voting 5-to-3 in favor. Justice Anthony Kennedy was the swing vote in the decision. 

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Suicide Now 2nd Highest Cause of Death Among IL Youth

In a new report released just this morning, data shows that suicide rates among young people are rising. In fact, it's now the second-leading cause of death of people age 15 to 19. The report, entitled "Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents" lists a number of risk factors for kids in this age bracket, including bullying both in person, and online. Dr. Benjamin Shain of North Shore University Health-System is the lead author on the report, and he says that "cyber-bullying" can be just as serious as face-to-face bullying. 
 
"Both bully victims and bully perpetrators are affected. And the group that's affected the most is in the group who are both victims and perpetrators, had the highest increase in mental health concerns, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and suicides."
-Dr. Benjamin Shain, North Shore University Health-System
 
The report does note that internet use in excess of 5 hours a day is strongly linked with high levels of depression, but Dr. Shain warns that simply trying to block access to a teen's online social network likely won't help the situation.
 
"It interferes with having the good relationship, which you need for providing support and guidance. It can have a net negative affect. Whatever you gain in terms of decreasing screen time and monitoring, I think you're losing much more in terms of being able to provide support and guidance."
-Dr. Benjamin Shain, North Shore University Health-System
 
The report also lists suggestions to help pediatricians recognize warning signs and provide help. That includes familiarity with community resources and area mental health professionals. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, for every young person who takes their own life, an estimated 100 to 200 make suicide attempts. Dr. Shain says one of the best ways for parents to help prevent youth suicide is to talk openly and calmly with their kids. 

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Macomb 4th of July Celebration Moved

The Macomb 4th of July Celebration has been moved from Hanson Field to Q-Lot at WIU. This annual celebration by the city of Macomb and Western Illinois University will feature a variety of musical performances, including the Macomb Municipal Band and the River City Country Opry band from Havana, as well as the annual fireworks display. The festivities will kick of at 5:30pm, and go until the fireworks show, at approximately 9:00pm. In the case of rain, the fireworks will be rescheduled for the following day. Visit www.cityofmacomb.com for more information. 

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IL Immigration Advocates Criticize U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Immigration rights advocates are blasting a recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision, which could spell disaster for President Obama's expanded immigration policies. In a tie vote on Thursday, the 8 justices allowed a lower court decision to stand that prevents the president from shielding about four-million people from deportation. The "Deferred Action" plans would give temporary protections to families with mixed immigration status, and some who entered the country as children. Celina Villanueva with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights says this decision will affect more than 500,000 undocumented immigrants in the state. 
 
"We want to protect families. At the end of the day, it isn't just about here in the state of Illinois, but it's about everybody across the country. Immigration affects us all, and we really need to deal with it, and we need immigration reform."
-Celina Villanueva, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
 
The lower court ruling came after Texas and 25 other states sued over the expanded immigration plans, which were announced two years ago, arguing that the President had overstepped his authority. But Villanueva argues that the expansion was only building on the success of Obama's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as 'DACA.' 
 
"We've seen the effects that it's had on young people, who have been able to live their lives, go on to school, get jobs. It's a positive impact. A lot of the people that would be covered by DAPA are parents of children who are U.S. citizens."
-Celina Villanueva, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
 
The expanded program was to be called the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or 'DAPA.' The Supreme Court's tie vote effectively means that President Obama cannot take further executive action on immigration. Villanueva says her group will be working with state lawmakers to keep families together. 

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Child Poverty on the Rise in Illinois

Illinois is a mixed bag when it comes to children's well-being, and a new report says there's plenty of work to do, especially for children of color. In the latest national Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Illinois ranked 21st, down one spot from last year. But, on a more positive note, the state now has the 3rd lowest rate of uninsured kids in the country. The numbers also show a big drop in the rates of teen drug abuse and child and teen deaths. But Leslie Helmcamp with Voices for Illinois Children says the state is now also struggling with a higher number of kids living in high-poverty neighborhoods than in 2008, and this is disproportionately true among African-American families. 
 
"Nationally, African-American children were twice as likely as the average child to live in high-poverty neighborhoods. But, here in Illinois, African-American children are more than three times as likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods."
-Leslie Helmcamp, Voices for Illinois Children
 
Helmcamp says Illinois could help ease the financial burden on these families in several ways, including setting up a statewide paid family-leave program and boosting child-care assistance. Of course, any sort of progress on the state's end is going to be difficult in the wake of the ongoing budget impasse. 
 
"What we want to see the state invest in and make a commitment to is passing a budget that includes these programs that help us improve our education and health outcomes for kids around the state."
-Leslie Helmcamp, Voices for Illinois Children
 
In total, the report says 58,000 more Illinois children were living in low-income homes in 2014 than in 2008. 

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Upcoming Lane Closures in McDonough County

Concrete patching construction work will be causing some lane closures nearby toward the end of the week. The Illinois Department of Transportation has announced that lane closures will occur at the intersection of US 136 and IL 41 in McDonough County beginning on Friday, June 24th, and going in to mid-July. Everyone is reminded to slow down and use extreme caution when driving through all work zones. 

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Illinois Fails the "Thumbtack Report" for Small Businesses

The Thumbtack Report Cards, a useful tool to gauge state cooperation with small business, have been issued for 2016. Illinois, for the third year in a row, has received a failing grade, coming in at #34 nationally. Though we scored pretty high in "Ease of hiring," and "Training & networking programs," we bottomed out on most other categories, earning "F's" on "Ease of starting a business," "Employment, labor, and hiring," "Tax code," and "Licensing." We also got a failing grade on "Overall friendliness," which the report says is the major player in our failing average. Though these scores don't look much different from last year's report, or even from the year before that, back in 2012 and 2013, we didn't have a single failing mark on our scorecard. You can find all of this data, and read the full report HERE.
 

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No Place Like Home Donates $12k to MDH Women's Center

Diana Mayhew and Pam Kelso of No Place Like Home have pledged $12,100 to the Dolores Kator Switzer Women's Center at McDonough District Hospital, earning the recognition of Golden Apple level in the MDH Business Honor Roll giving club. This brings the Hospital ever closer to their fundraising goal, and to the eventual opening of the Women's Center. For more information on the services that it will provide to women in the area, or to make a donation, you can visit MDH.org
 

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'Community Coalition' Providing Free Summer Meals to Kids

For many of us, hunger is not a thing that we have to worry about on a regular basis. However, there are many in our area who don't know where their next meal is going to come from. And this isn't just adults, About one third of all children in Illinois are in the same situation, through no consequence of their own. While local schools can provide these kids with a much-needed, consistent lunch, when school goes out of session, this can once again become a big problem. A number of groups in our area have formed up a "Community Coalition" to help combat childhood hunger in the area. The First Presbyterian Church of Macomb, Genesis Garden, Big Brothers Big Sisters of McDonough and Warren County, McDonough County United Way, the YMCA of McDonough County, the McDonough County Health Department, and Soup 'N' More are pooling their resources and giving some children exactly what they need this summer: A free lunch. Going on now, through August 19th, anybody under the age of 18 is more than welcome to come out to the First Presbyterian Church any/every Monday-Friday from 11:30am to 1:00pm for a free, freshly cooked meal. This is imperative for many children, and it goes beyond not having access to food. Katie Klus with the Illinois Hunger Coalition says that programs like this equally benefits kids who won't have access to the right food. 
 
"Summer meals are so important to particularly low-income children during the summer, because during the school year they can have access to healthy food through the National School Lunch Program. But in the summer, they don't necessarily have access to that."
-Katie Klus, Illinois Hunger Coalition

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Ribbon Cutting - Divine Consign

On Wednesday, June 15th, the Ambassador Committee of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for Divine Consign, a newer addition to the East Side of the Square in Macomb. Diving Consign sells quality, gently used clothing and they are currently accepting items for consignment. For more information on the store and their hours, you can visit their Facebook page or call them at 217-883-2594

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Illinois State Museum Officially Re-Opens on July 2nd

The Illinois State Museum in Springfield has officially announced their re-opening! They will be welcoming the public back in beginning on July 2nd. The Illinois General Assembly's Joint Committee approved their admission fee request, so to help diversify funding for the museum, a fee of $5 will be imposed for adults at the Springfield campus. Anybody age 18 or younger, as well as seniors and veterans will still be admitted into the museum free of charge. This re-opening includes not only the main museum in Springfield, but also the ISM Dickson Mounds Museum in Fulton County, and the ISM Research and Collections Center in Springfield. 

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Appeals Court Upholds Net Neurtality Ruling

A federal court has upheld the F-C-C's decision to treat the Internet like a utility - a victory for consumers say advocates of net neutrality. The two-to-one ruling came Tuesday from the U-S Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. Marty Newell is a member of the Rural Broadband Policy Group. He says the court ruling is "part of the march" to treating broadband the same way we treat telephone service.
 
"It's not optional, it's not a luxury. There was a time when Internet access might have been considered a luxury, but it's not now. That time has passed. It's a necessity in the same way that we looked at telephone once upon a time."
-Marty Newell, Rural Broadcasting Policy Group
 
The cable and telecom industries and their allies have argued that the F-C-C's rule is overreaching and would stifle investment and customer choice. But Newell and other advocates say web users need more protections from providers. Newell says the ruling is especially important in rural areas of the country that are underserved by broadband. Take Kentucky for example, where Newell says around one out of every four households does not have access to broadband services.
 
"We don't have as much choice. The competition is not nearly as great. It is critical that this communications tool that it is absolutely essential to do business in the 21st century, that it be an open system."
-Marty Newell, Rural Broadcasting Policy Group
 
The Rural Broadband Policy Group says of the 19 million Americans who don't have broadband, more than 14 million live in rural parts of the country. Noting a lot of money is at stake, Newell says he knows the legal challenges will continue, something the industry giants have promised.

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Storm Tips From Ameren

 In the event of inclement weather, a little bit of storm preparedness can make a big difference. Whether its a thunderstorm, snowstorm or tornado, it is always good to be prepared for the worst. Every storm is different so you might be wondering...what is the best way to prepare? Every homeowner should make sure that they have prepared a storm kit. A storm kit is a kit that contains necessary items to help a homeowner react to a storm. I spoke with Brian Bretsch from Ameren about what you should have in your storm kit.  
 
"Prepare a storm kit and that's to have such things as emergency telephone numbers handy, flashlights with fresh batteries, It's always good to have a battery powered transistor radio. Also a good idea to have some bottled water available and just other important things that I'll end with is it's always good to have all of your medications and a first aid kit with you at all times."
-Brian Bretch, Ameren
 
 Storm kits are essential but it is also very important to make sure you don't wait until the last minute to prepare one. In addition to having a storm kit, there are many other things you can do if you know that a big storm is coming. Make sure to turn your fridge to the coldest setting so that in the event of a power outage, your food stays cold until your power is restored. Another thing you can do if you know a storm is coming is to turn off unnecessary appliances that you don't use.  It is important to leave a couple lights on however, so that in the event of a power outage you know when the power is back on.  In the aftermath of a storm, you may need to go get supplies which is why it is good to make sure your gas tank is full beforehand. Storms are unpredictable which means they could happen while you're at work. Every place of employment should have a plan when it comes to inclement weather. Make sure you know where to go and what to do in the event that a big storm hits while you are at work.  Heavy storms like these can knock down power lines,so if you see down power lines there are a few key steps to take. Call Ameren at 1-800-755-5000 to report the outage and stay away from the power lines, because they could still be electrified. No storm is the same, so it can take a varying amount of time for your power to be restored, but Ameren promises to move as fast as they can to take care of the outages.Storms are an unpredictable part of life, which is why it is good to always be prepared. If you follow these steps, then you will always be as prepared as possible for the unexpected.  

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First Reported Human Case of West Nile in IL

The first human case of West Nile virus in Illinois for 2016 has been reported. In late may, an adolescent in west central Illinois became severely ill. Typically, human cases of West Nile virus usually don't happen until late July and August. This case is much earlier than usual so it is important to make sure you're protected against bites now, and not just later in the summer. Many different animal species in Illinois including dead crows, blue jays, robins, other perching birds and horses are tested for West Nile Virus. If you see a sick animal that could be experiencing West Nile Virus symptoms, contact your local health department to get the animal picked up and tested. The first case of an infected bird was recorded back on May 20th in Arcola Township in Douglas County. This disease spreads through the bite of a Culex  Pipiens Mosquito which feeds on the infected bird. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito which infects the bird with this virus, is very rare in Illinois. If you feel that you have been infected with the virus, you may experience some symptoms including nausea, muscle aches, fever and headaches. Most people infected with West Nile Virus will not experience symptoms. However, in rare cases, meningitis, encephalitis or even death can occur. To prevent getting infected, you can take precautions by follow the three r's: reduce, repel and report. To reduce the chances of mosquitoes being around you can make sure your doors and windows have tight fitting screens to that no mosquitoes can enter. Another thing you can do is eliminate sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed in. You can repel mosquitoes by wearing long pants and shirts or by wearing mosquito repellent.  Lastly, you should report areas where you see standing water for more than a week so your local health department can come and kill any mosquito eggs. The West Nile Virus is not that common, but it can become serious, so make sure that you take the proper precautions this summer. 

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IDPH Testing Disaster Preparedness

This week, the Illinois Department of Public Health will test the ability of the public health system to receive and distribute necessary medical supplies in the time of a natural disaster or other emergency. If a serious emergency occurs, the state can request supplies from Strategic National Stockpile or the SNS for short. The SNS is a national repository for medical supplies and it is designed to help re-supply public health agencies in time of emergency. The anthrax attacks of 2001 and the 2009-2010 H1N1 Influenza pandemic are examples of such emergencies where it is important to be prepared. This week's test will simulate an anthrax release. The state will receive packages from the federal government and must distribute those packages to the local health departments in need. By simulating an emergency, it allows the state to recognize any problems in their plan and make changes accordingly. The state regularly conducts training to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the SNS plan.

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WIU Board Votes to Cut 4 Academic Majors

On Friday, June 10th, the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees voted on some cost-saving measures for the University in this time of financial struggle due to the ongoing budget impasse. The Board voted unanimously to eliminate the African American Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Women's Studies as major degree programs, due to a lack of interest and enrollment. WIU has issued assurances that current students in these programs will be able to complete their degree programs, and certain classes will remain in the General Education curriculum so as to ensure a diverse learning experience. These programs will also still be available as academic minors. In addition to this, the Board also voted to modify a number of programs, including Bilingual/Bicultural Education, Public Health, Geography, and Musical Theatre. Finally, the Board also voted on updated budgets and, at WIU President Jack Thomas' behest, voted to defer a pay raise for the President. 

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MDH Women's Center Receives Two Generous Donations

The Dolores Kator Switzer Women's Center at McDonough District Hospital is moving ever closer to their fundraising goal after a couple of very generous donations. Cathy Early State Farm Insurance has pledged more than $12,000 toward the Women's Center, and will be recognized at the Golden Apple level of the MDH Business Honor Roll giving club. Additionally, the Farmers & Merchants State Bank of Bushnell has pledged a $20,000 donation to the Women's Center, and will be recognized at Benefactor level in the MDH Business Honor Roll giving club. Once completed, the Women's Center will offer state of the art rooms, private suites, and an imaging center. 

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Ribbon Cutting - Citizens Clock Tower Plaza

Last Thursday, June 9th, the Ambassador Committee of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Citizens Clock Tower Plaza, directly outside Citizens Bank at 127 South Side Square in Macomb. Beyond being a beautiful, natural location, a number of events have been held in this plaza including children's reading time, a petting zoo, small musical groups, and even movie showings. This area is open for the public, and anyone is welcome to enjoy the central seating area at any time. 

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Heat Safety Tips

This weekend, expect some seriously warm temperatures on the way. With the hottest weather we've experienced so far this year, the Illinois Department of Public Health has a few safety tips that can hopefully allow you to enjoy the weather without become a victim of it. 
 
-Stay Cool 
Utilizing air-conditioning as much as possible will benefit you greatly. Fans only move air around, they won't cool it down, so you really need that extra step. Limit outdoor activity, especially in peak conditions. Wear loose, lightweight clothing and take cool baths or showers to lower your body temperature. 
 
-Stay Hydrated
Drink more water than usual, and don't wait until you're thirsty to do so. If actively outside, drink two to four cups of water every hour and avoid alcohol or beverages with high amounts of sugar like soda or juice. 
 
-Stay Informed
The IDPH's website at www.dph.illinois.gov has more tips and information about heat and its effects on the body. Keep on the look out for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and seek medical attention if necessary. 

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New Rules on Toxic Chemicals Could Harm State Authority

One step forward, two steps back. That's how some Illinois environmentalists describe new federal rules on toxic substances that could limit the state's own protections. Congress this week sent a bill to update the Toxic Substances Control Act to President Obama's desk. It's the first update to the act in 40 years, and it would expand the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to study and test thousands of chemicals, a widely-regarded good move. However, Abe Scarr with Illinois PIRG says the proposed rules would also place new restrictions on how states can manage potentially toxic chemicals. 
 
"It does take some good steps in the right direction. It creates a better framework for toxic chemical regulation, which is sorely, sorely needed. but in the process of doing that, it has set a ceiling on what states can do, and we think federal regulations should be a floor, not a ceiling."
-Abe Scarr, Illinois PIRG
 
The new toxics rules will allow the EPA to work through a backlog of tens of thousands of untested chemicals. But the agency will only be required to assess 20 chemicals at a time. Scarr is hopeful this is just the first step in enacting stronger protections in the future. 
 
"It has been decades since Congress has taken action to improve our federal toxic law. So, hopefully, now that we've become unstuck we'll be able to continue improving our toxic laws at the federal level and create even stronger protections for consumers."
-Abe Scarr, Illinois PIRG
 
Environmental protection advocates are asking the President not to sign the new rules. Instead, they are urging lawmakers to revise the proposal to keep state authority intact. Illinois has passed laws previously that protect families from toxic chemicals in consumer products. As it stands now, these new rules would undermine the state protections if they're put into effect. 

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Jimmy John's Facing Lawsuit by Attorney General

Yesterday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that her office was filing a lawsuit against Jimmy John's corporate entities for their use of "highly restrictive non-compete agreements." Jimmy John's, which operates nearly 300 sandwich shops in Illinois alone, has used these non-compete agreements on nearly all of their employees, including the lower-level in-shop employees and delivery drivers. Madigan alleges that these agreements are unfair to workers and bad for business. But moreover, she's also claiming that they are, in this sense, illegal and unenforceable under that state's law. The non-competes in question prevents employees from seeking work in any business that is within three miles of any Jimmy John's nationwide that makes more than 10% of their revenue from selling "submarine, hero-type, deli-style, pita, and/or wrapped or rolled sandwiches."This agreement isn't only good for the duration of employment, either, but can rather follow former Jimmy John's employees for up to 2 years after they leave the company. The Attorney General's lawsuit is being handled by Madigan's Workplace Rights Bureau. 

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Park District: Family Day Rescheduled, Pool Construction Begins

The Macomb Park District has announced that their upcoming Family Day at Ball Fore Family Entertainment Center has been rescheduled. Initially, the event was going to be on Saturday, June 11th. However, due to extreme temperatures expected this upcoming weekend, it has been pushed back to Sunday, June 26th. You can find more information about this event on our Event Calendar, or by going to MacombParkDistrict.com
 
The Park District has also announced that Tri-State Water began construction work yesterday on the Glenwood Pool. With the repair process underway, they expect to have more details on pool opening dates by sometime next week. You can follow the Macomb Park District on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the latest information. 

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Man Found Dead After "Farm-Related ATV Accident"

Hancock County Sheriff Scott Bentzinger reports that yesterday, June 7th, at around noon, deputies responded to a farm related accident involving an ATV just north of the Adams/Hancock County line on County Road 1380 East. Not much information has been released, but we know that 64 year old Duane Tobias, of rural Lorraine, had been operating an ATV on his farm property. He was found deceased at the scene, and an investigation into the cause of death is pending. 

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Two-Vehicle Accident in Lewistown

On Monday, there was a two-vehicle accident at the intersection of E. Washington St. and N. Main St. in Lewistown. At around 4:45pm, a car driven by Erica Lawrence was traveling westbound on E. Washington St. After continuing through the intersection, the car was struck by another vehicle, driven by Dana Hitchcock. The first vehicle overturned and landed on its roof in the roadway. The other car struck a concrete barrier. Lawrence, who told police that she was four months pregnant, was air lifted to OSF Hospital in Peoria with reported minor injuries and was admitted overnight. The seven passengers in the car, including 4 children, 3 of whom were not wearing seatbelts, were transported to Graham Hospital in Canton with minor injuries. They were all released. Hitchcock was also taken to Graham Hospital, and was released. There were no passengers in her vehicle. Officials say that there is no indication of alcohol use. 

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PGIB Donates $22k to MDH Women's Center

Purdum Gray Ingledue Beck has pledged a $22,000 donation, and presented the first installment of that money to the Dolores Kator Switzer Women's Center at McDonough District Hospital. This commitment recognizes PGIB as Partner Level in the MDH Business Honor Roll giving club. With this donation, MDH gets ever-closer to their final goal for the Women's Center, which will feature state of the art facilities and the latest technology. 

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Overtime Cuts Affecting Home-Health Workers and Residents

When it was announced that Governor Bruce Rauner had instituted a new overtime policy for the Illinois' Home Services Program that limited them to working no more than 40 hours a week, it was highly speculated that a number of issues would arise. Recently, a group of disability advocates released a new report detailing how about 30,000 Illinois residents are at risk of losing some in-home care due to the overtime cuts made last month. Gary Arnold with Access Living says that the move goes against new federal overtime protections, and that it's forcing people to leave their job unfinished.
 
"Some people who might have a 45-hour or a 50-hour service plan are going to be required to hire an additional PA to work just a couple of hours a week, which is going to make it even harder than it is now to hire a personal assistant."
-Gary Arnold, Access Living
 
The report also warns that more people may end up being placed in nursing homes, which is a far more significant cost to the state in the long-run. Arnold says the overtime caps also limit the independence of the people who rely on personal assistants. 
 
"It's cutting into the livelihood of personal assistants who are already really low-paid workers. And it's also taking away what's often referred to as consumer control; people with disabilities making decisions about who takes care of them."
-Gary Arnold, Access Living
 
Disability advocates are asking Governor Rauner's administration to suspend the current overtime policy. They say Illinois should follow states like California, Washington, and Oregon, which have set up higher weekly hour caps for personal assistants. Rauner's administration, however, is adamant that these restrictions are a necessary part of closing Illinois' budget gap. 

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Table Grove State Bank Donates $15k to MDH Women's Center

Table Grove State Bank has pledged a donation of $15,000 to the Dolores Kator Switzer Women's Center at McDonough District Hospital. After their support, the bank will be recognized as Benefactor level of the MDH Business Honor Roll giving club. The new women's center will include a nursery, private suites, and state of the art technology. 

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HyVee Recalls Salad Topping & Trail Mixes

HyVee Inc., has announced a voluntary recall of one of its' salad toppings and additional trail mix products after further potential contamination in sunflower kernels. All of the products recalled are HyVee brand and they are as follows: Garden Style Salad Topping, Trail Mix Bars, Peanut Almond Dark Chocolate Protein Bars, Caramel Cashew Honey Crunch Trail Mix, Dark Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix, Raisin and Nut Trail Mix, and Santa Fe Trail Mix. No illnesses have been reported in connection with any of these products, but the recall was issued after a sunflower kernel supplier, SunOpta, announced a nation-wide recall on certain batches due to possible contamination with Listeria Monocytogenes. Customers who recently purchased any of these items are encouraged to discard them or return them to their local HyVee for a full refund. 

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Ribbon Cutting Held for J3 Timing

The Ambassador Committee of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting Thursday, June 2nd to introduce J3 Timing, who joined the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce in January of 2016. J3 Timing is a family-owned company that started in 2011, based out of locations both in Macomb and the Chicago-land area. J3 Timing offers sports and endurance event equipment with race-related timing packages, including electronic chip systems, finish line LED clocks and results tracking and tabulation. For more information on J3 Timing, please visit www.j3timing.com or find them on Facebook.

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Activists Protest Solitary Confinement with 150-Mile Walk

A group of Illinois activists is taking a 150 mile walk to protest new solitary confinement cells planned for one of the newest federal prisons in the state. The Thomson Correctional Center will be receiving 1,900 isolation cells per the Federal Bureau of Prisons' plan. The protest is against the inhumanness of solitary confinement, and at such a time when Illinois lawmakers are considering limits on it, co-coordinator Buddy Bell argues that the plans for Thomson fly in the face of those ideas. 
 
"We oppose the plans of the Bureau of Prisons to open a new facility in Thomson, Illinois. We don't approve of using solitary confinement unless there's an acute need for it and whatever problem arose can be solved within five days."
-Buddy Bell, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
 
Four years ago, the federal government bought the Thomson prison from the state for $165-million. Bell says instead of using the money to open new prisons, those tax dollars could be better spent on more rehabilitative solutions.
 
"For the Federal Bureau of Prisons to be building a new facility is taking money away from other sectors of the government that could be boosting the economy, making sure that people have the opportunities that can be gleaned from the public money."
-Buddy Bell, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
 
The group Voices for Creative Nonviolence began their march in Chicago on Saturday and plans to end the protest walk at the prison sit in Thomson on June 11th. Meanwhile, HB 5417, a state bill that would limit solitary confinement to no more than five consecutive days is still sitting in the House. 

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Illinois State Museum Could Re-Open (If Admission Fee Approved)

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced earlier this week that the Illinois State Museum will be re-launching early in July, with one stipulation. The pending date for the museum's re-opening is July 2nd, a Saturday, but this is all pending the approval of the administrative rule that will allow the Department to charge an admission fee at the main museum campus. A meeting will be held to discuss this proposal on June 14th. As an attempt to gain further funding for the museum, the admission fee would be $5 for adults. Children under 18, seniors, and veterans would all still be admitted for free. 

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Groups Wearing Orange in Honor of Gun Violence Victims

With gun-related violence on the rise in parts of Illinois, local gun-control advocates are wearing orange today (Thursday, June 2nd) to bring awareness to the issue. It's National Gun Violence Awareness day, and several groups, including Everytown for Gun Safety, are taking a cue from the hunters who wear orange to protect themselves from other sportsmen. Lauren Quinn, with Central Illinois Moms Demand Action, argues the state's gun-violence problem is made worse by illegal weapons being trafficked in from neighboring states such as Indiana. 
 
"The weak gun laws in surrounding states contribute something like 60% of the guns that are used in crimes in Chicago. We need to strengthen those borders to keep those illegal guns from coming in."
-Lauren Quinn, Central Illinois Moms Demand Action
 
The idea was started in 2013 by a group of South Side Chicago teens who wanted to honor their friend Hadiya Pendleton. The 15-year-old girl was shot and killed just days after performing for President Obama at the White House. Quinn says state lawmakers could honor additional victims of gun violence by passing bills, such as the Illinois Gun Dealer Licensing Act. 
 
"Gun dealers are one of the only kinds of businesses in Illinois that are not required to be licensed. But this would ensure that they do go through a licensing process; it basically gives law enforcement a little bit more oversight as far as how those businesses are operated."
-Lauren Quinn, Central Illinois Moms Demand Action
 
Even though the current legislative session is over, that bill is scheduled to come up before state lawmakers at the end of the month. Meanwhile, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis, about 250 people have been killed by guns in Chicago alone so far this year. 

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