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Macomb Local News Archives for 2016-11

Disney On Ice Interview

Today I spoke with Kelsey Blake, who will performing in various roles in the ensamble at Disney on Ice this weekend at the iWireless Center. She discussed her background in skating, how she ended up working with Disney on Ice, and some of the fun new twists that this show will have for fans in attendance. Listen to my interview with Kelsey below.

 

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Citizens Community and Senior Day

This morning Rochelle Seaver from Citizens came in to discuss their monthly Community and Seniors Day event. It will be taking place tomorrow in their lobby at the location on the Square. Rochelle also brought along Debbie Dallefeld from Heartland Healthcare to discuss some of the services that will be provided tomorrow, free of charge. Listen to my conversation with them below.

 

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No Automatic Voter Registration In Illinois

You won’t have the opportunity to be automatically registered to vote in Illinois. The House fell a few votes short of overriding the Governor’s veto of automatic voter registration. The bill would have signed residents up after coming in to contact with a number of state agencies, but critics were worried about possible voter fraud in the face of increasing voter participation. Republican State Rep. Tome Demmer from Dixon said too much was unknown about how the state could keep up with new names voter rolls. 



The veto had already been overridden in the Senate but is now a dead issue after failing to do the same in the House. 

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Push On For No Lame Duck Tax Votes

During lame duck sessions of government there often are times when legislation that otherwise wouldn’t get passed winds up finding enough votes. But now a few lawmakers want to pass a law to stop that from happening when it comes to tax increases. Democrat Rep. Jack Franks says that passing important tax increases shouldn’t be done at the end of someone’s time in office.



Franks is a lame duck lawmaker and his bill is filed as a constitutional amendment and would require a three-fifths majority of lawmakers to agree to pass a lame duck tax hike,

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Revised Nuclear Bailout Bill Wins Committee Approval

Both sides say they're happy after the state House Energy Committee approved the Future Energy Jobs Bill on Tuesday. The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, which is made up of environmental and business groups, faith organizations and the Citizens Utility Board, said this revised version of the legislation is much better for consumers and the environment. Environmental groups balked at what they said was a "nuclear bailout bill." They helped negotiate changes to it, including stripping out coal subsidies and demand charges. 

Sierra Club Illinois director Jack Darin said this could be a big win for state residents because it further reduces our reliance on coal. He said the next step is to get the Legislature and the governor on board.

"That is on the table in Springfield this week and we're really hopeful that legislators and the governor can agree that seizing the benefits of the clean-energy economy are a win for Illinois for today and for the future," he said. 

Exelon and Com Ed say it will keep Illinois' electric rates competitive, preserve and create thousands of jobs and expand clean energy.

Darin said Illinois has been missing out on millions of dollars of private investment and hundreds of jobs because the renewable-energy policies in the state are broken, but he said this legislation moves the state in the right direction.

"Whether you're from downstate Illinois, from the Chicago area, this is the right choice for our future and this is an example of where compromise can be reached and can benefit us all," he added. "Hopefully that happens this week."

The plan would provide $235 million a year for Exelon for 13 years to reward the company because nuclear energy is produced without emitting damaging greenhouse gasses.

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Dickens on the Square "A Magical Holiday"

This morning I spoke with Kristin Terry, the Downtown Development Director for the City of Macomb. We discussed the 22nd Annual Dickens on the Square event taking place this weekend. Brochures can be picked up at City Hall and the Macomb Chamber of Commerce this week. Listen to my conversation with Kristin below for all the details on the event.

 

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State Senate Republican Leader Durkin Discusses the Latest Budget Negotiations

Republican leader in the Senate, Jim Durkin, spoke to the media on Monday about the most recent leadership meetings between Republican and their Democratic partners regarding the budget. According to Durkin, Democrats have a 'lack of urgency.' 

That was State Senator Jim Durkin. Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats will continue today. 

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Western Illinois Among Schools Receiving Emergency State Payment

State universities are picking up a few extra dollars before the end of the year. The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved the spending of $17 million in emergency funding to prop up the financial picture of Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Chicago State. The funds are only to be used to pay down current year costs and can’t be rolled into 2017. WIU receives $8.4 million, EIU $5.6 million and CSU $3 million. 

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Central Illinois Has Goods Jobs Picture

Jobless numbers headed into the holiday hiring season are the lowest in central Illinois. The Illinois Department of Employment Security says that Springfield holds the lowest area unemployment rate at 4.5 percent. Chicago area Lake County is second in the state at 4.6 percent. The worst place to be out of work is in Danville, where local unemployment is 6.6 percent. Overall the state rate is 5.5 percent. 

October 2016-2015 rates by area were:
Bloomington-Normal: 4.8; 5.0.
Carbondale-Marion: 5.4; 6.
Champaign-Urbana: 4.8; 5.3.
Chicago: 5.7; 5.3.
Danville: 6.6; 7.2.
Quad-Cities: 5.4; 5.7.
Decatur: 6.2; 7.0.
Elgin: 4.9; 5.6.
Kankakee: 5.8; 6.7.
Lake County: 4.6; 5.2.
Peoria: 5.9; 6.9.
Rockford: 6; 7.1.
Springfield: 4.5; 5.3.
Metro East St. Louis: 5.1; 6.1.

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Group Urges Illinoisans to Support Standing Rock Protesters

Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline continued over the holiday weekend, and hundreds have been arrested, but environmental advocates in Illinois are urging a show of support. The 1,200-mile pipeline would carry oil across four states to a shipping point in Marion County. The Standing Rock Sioux say it threatens drinking water on their reservation, as well as cultural sites. 

The Democratic Party of DuPage County is taking a stand with the tribe. Dan Bailey the party's executive committee delegate said the pipeline also affects water safety in Illinois.

"Not only should we demonstrate, we should also support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that's on the front lines of this situation," he said. "They could use some of our help. "

This month, the executive committee approved a resolution calling for a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, since the lands the Sioux are fighting to protect were guaranteed to them under a treaty with the U.S. government. Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners has said no Native American cultural sites have been disturbed, and insists the line will be safe. 

Bailey sees the pipeline protests as part of a larger issue that also affects Illinois and the nation, the use of fossil fuels and their effects on climate change. 

"The more we invest in infrastructure that's going in a fossil-fuel direction, the harder it is to turn our country and the world away from fossil fuels," he explained. "We need to go towards a sustainable economy and a sustainable energy system."

Dozens were arrested during a Black Friday pipeline protest in Bismarck. Hundreds also turned out this weekend in support of law enforcement. Since the protests began, more than 500 people have been arrested. The Morton County sheriff in North Dakota claims the protesters have become more aggressive, and said he won't apologize for actions his officers have taken. Activists say it's the police acting aggressively, and they vow to continue to protest.

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Near Record Harvest on Opening Weekend of Firearm Deer Hunting Season

Hunters in Illinois harvested over 54,000 deer during the first weekend of firearm hunting season in Illinois. Kim Howard has more. 

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Illinois State Police Make Arrest in Olney Child Murder

The Illinois State Police have announced the arrest of 53 year old Glenn Ramey in the sexual assault and murder of 8 year old Sabrina Stauffenberg. According to the Illinois State Police, Ramey is being held at the the Richard County Sheriff's Office on charges of First Degree Murder and Predatory Sexual Assault among other charges. The body of 8 year old Sabrina Stauffenberg was found on the south side of Olney, Illinois on November 27th. Ramey was arrested not long after. More on this story as it develops. 

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Hunger in Illinois is a Year-Round Issue

While many families sat down at Thanksgiving dinner tables with a lot more food than they really needed, millions of people don't have enough to eat on a daily basis. One in seven struggles with food insecurity in Illinois, and the problem is worse for families with children.

Many food banks in the state are seeking donations, and say there's never enough to go around. 

At the Northern Illinois Food Bank, President and CEO Julie Yurko said her group and others have had to come up with innovative ways to stretch the food donations. For instance, they team up with large businesses around the state to get food that would otherwise be wasted. 

"Our focus is on product or food that is no longer going to market," she said. "So, we're hoping to solve their business issue if they have food waste, yet that food is perfectly safe and suitable for human consumption."

According to the nonprofit group Feeding America, an estimated 70 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the U.S., and between 25 and 40 percent of the food grown, processed and transported nationwide will never be consumed. The group points out that when food ends up in landfills, it rots and becomes a significant source of methane gas.

Yurko said of the 71,000 people her organization serves every week, most are just trying to make ends meet.

"Seventy-seven percent of them are working, they're just not making enough to meet their monthly financial needs," she explained. "So, save your money and come to a food pantry, get some really great food and then, you can use those dollars to cover your other expenses."

Yurko said food banks also are happy to receive cash donations, as their purchasing arrangements mean they can leverage every dollar to buy $8 worth of food.

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One Person Injured, One Person Charged in McDonough County Crash

One person was injured and one person was charged with multiple counts in a crash in McDonough County. According to the Illinois State Police, 28 year old Skyler L. Pittman of Chesapeake, Virginia was texting while driving while traveling eastbound on U.S 136 approaching County Road 2000 East when his vehicle drifted into the oncoming traffic lane while Pittman allegedly checked a text message on his phone. Pittman's White GMC 2500 Pickup then struck a Black Chevrolet Colorado Pick up driven by 69 year old Gary E. Brush of of Ipava, Illinois. Mr. Brush was taken from the scene to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. At the scene, McDonough County Sheriff's interviewed Mr. Pittman and charged him with DUI, Texting While Driving and Improper Lane Usage. The accident remains under investigation. 

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New K100 Mental Health Segment

Melanie Hamilton-Smith a Psychotherapist in Macomb, came on K100 this morning to discuss a new mental health segment she will unveil soon. The segment will air on K100 and will be titled, "Finding contentment in a world of chaos." Listen to my conversation with Melanie below as she discusses some of the tips she'll be giving out on the air.

 

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Major Otto Macomb Salvation Army

This morning Major Otto from the Macomb branch of the Salvation Army stopped by. He discussed some of the important work the organization will be doing for the holidays, including this Saturday where donations will be doubled by Salvation Army chapters in Chicago and Peoria. Listen bel;ow for what he has to say.

 

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Butterball Turkey Tips

This morning I spoke with Janice from Butterball about some helpful Thanksgiving turkey tips. We talk about all sorts of common Thanksgiving questions, including the proper timeframe for thawing a turkey, how to properly cook a turkey, and some unique leftover ideas.

 

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'Opt Outside' This Black Friday

There's a lot of uncertainty since the results of the presidential election became known, but instead of worrying about what might happen, an advocacy group for the Great Lakes says now is the time to make sure your local, state and national leaders know that clean drinking water needs to be a top priority. 

Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, says the makeup of the congressional delegation from the states that surround the lakes didn't change much on Nov. 8, and politicians on both sides of the aisle have shown interest in protecting the drinking water for more than 40 million people.

"Getting phone calls from people in the region talking about how important clean water in the Great Lakes are is probably the best thing somebody could do right now," he states. "Members of Congress need to hear that this was a priority yesterday before the election and it's going to be a priority tomorrow and for the next four years."

Brammeier says it's important to take time to appreciate the beauty of the Great Lakes and adds that even though the weather is changing and there are fewer daylight hours, around two million people have signed up to participate in an "Opt Outside" event on Black Friday. That's when people are encouraged to visit their favorite shoreline rather than shopping.

Brammeier says there are a lot of unknowns about how the Trump administration will handle the environment, but he says his group will continue to educate leaders about how necessary protecting the Great Lakes is.

"The people share this universal value for clean water," he stresses. "Everybody here gets it. Voters get it. They understand clean water needs to be protected, they understand that they benefit from it, and that if people don't have access to clean water, there's something really wrong."

Information about Black Friday's Opt Outside event can be found at GreatLakes.Org.

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Holiday Expo for Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry

The 10th Annual Holiday Expo benefitting Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry will be held tomorrow from 2-5 at the Wesley Village Community Center This morning Frank, who organizes the event annually, and Susan from Loaves & Fishes, stopped by to discuss the event. Listen to our full conversation below.

 

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Evergreen Center at Memorial Hospital

This morning I spoke with Kristin Suminski from Memorial Hospital in Carthage. She came in to discuss their Evergreen Center for Behavioral Health Sciences. Listen to my conversation with Kristin below to hear about the awesome and important programs and services the center offers for senior citizens. 

 

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Investigators Still Assessing Damage from Canton Gas Explosion

Fulton County ESDA is releasing new information regarding the gas explosion in Canton that killed one person and left 12 others injured. According to the Fulton County ESDA the damage from the explosion caused two square blocks of Canton's downtown on Wednesday to be cordoned off by emergency workers while investigators attempted to determine the cause of the explosion. 48 buildings in all suffered at least minor damage from the explosion while 1 building was left uninhabitable and 1 building was completely destroyed. Numerous residents were displaced by the blast and are being aided by the Salvation Army for the time being before they are being allowed to return home. Authorities are still holding back the name of the person killed in the explosion while they continue to investigate the cause of the explosion. 

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Foster Parents Can Help Reunite Families

Illinois has 15,000 children in foster care, and a new report highlights the connection between foster families and getting those kids back at home with their parents. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's report "A Movement to Transform Foster Parenting," foster parents need a bigger voice. 

Child-welfare consultant Dr. Denise Goodman said the first line of therapy and healing is in the foster home. She said often the role foster parents play is underestimated by state, federal and private agencies tasked with placing the kids.

"There is a perception that foster parents are simply paid volunteers, which is kind of an oxymoron," Dr. Goodman said. "Foster parents have stepped up to do a very important job, and they do know the children the best."

The report calls for states to ensure high-quality foster care, help foster parents form strong relationships with the children, and identify and recruit more foster families.

Jacqueline Herbert-Townsend, the Northern Illinois regional director with Lutheran Child and Family Services in Illinois said foster parents nurture kids while they're separated from their families, and can continue to do so when they go back home.

"The greatest successes that I have seen is that when you have a foster parent that is able to partner with the biological family, they can become a lifelong support," she said. 

Herbert-Townsend said children coming into the system have more needs than ever. She blames that on a society desensitized by violence. 

"Often times, our children and their parents have been traumatized with the different levels of violence that they have seen, and it can be from something as what appears to be benign as television shows and video games, to actually violence in their communities," she explained. 

Researchers from The Annie E. Casey Foundation recommend that foster families be valued as important members of the foster-care team, not viewed as mere beds in the system, saying they are the ones who have the most contact with the child, and should be given as much training and support as possible.

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Regional Media Movie Review Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a fully cinematic prequel to the Harry Potter book and movie universe. The movie stars Eddie Redmayne as author and adventurer Newt Scamander, future author of the magical animal compendium, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Here we find Newt in New York City some 80 years prior to the events of the Harry Potter series. Newt is in the city to locate magical beasts and make sure they are safe and protected. When a few of his magical creatures escape from his suitcase, a world all it's own, it's up to Newt along with a muggle pal played by Dan Fogler and a pair of fellow wizards, Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol, to recapture the beasts and protect them from the likes of Colin Ferrell who aims to use abuse these magical creatures. Here is my review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 

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Shop Small Kickoff Party

This morning I spoke with Macomb Chamber of Commerce President Kathy Waters and Downtown Development Director Kristin Terry about the upcoming Shop Small Kickoff Party.

 

The event will be held Monday, November 21 at the Macomb Amtrak Station from 10 AM- 6PM. There will be food, giveaways, a raffle, and some awesome guests stopping by to promote Small Business Saturday. Listen to my conversation with Kathy and Kristin below for details.

 

 

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Canton Illinois Explosion Kills One, Injures Eleven

One person is dead and eleven others were injured by a gas explosion in Canton, Illinois on Wednesday. According to a release from the Fulton County Public Information Office, the explosion on Wednesday happened in the area of the 10th block of 1st Avenue in Canton. The person killed in the explosion has not yet been identified to the media while the elevent people injured are being treated at local hospitals. Ameren Illinois is working with local authorities to determine the cause of the explosion which also damaged several buildings in the area and forced the closure of several surrounding blocks for over two hours. We will have more on this story as it becomes available. 

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McDonough County VIBE 7th Annual Fundraising Auction

This morning I spoke with Cathy Orban from VIBE about their upcoming Fundraising Auction Saturday. It will be held at The Forum. Details about the event, what it benefits, and some of the awesome items you can bid on are all explained in my conversation with Cathy. 

 

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Lights of Love at Wesley Village

Yesterday Kassie Courson from Wesley Village came in to discuss the annual Lights of Love event as Wesley Village. It will be held Monday, with the trees being lit at 5:30. Listen to my conversation with Kassie below.

 

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Speaker, Senate President No Show Meeting with Governor Rauner

House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton were no-shows at a leadership meeting at the Illinois statehouse on Monday. The meeting of state leaders, including Governor Bruce Rauner, was supposed to open budget discussions among statehouse leaders. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said afterwards that it was hard to move the ball forward on the state budget issues without leadership cooperation. 

 

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Quincy Woman Indicted Distributing Heroin that Led to Death

A Quincy woman has been indicted for distributing heroin that led to death. According to a release from the U.S Attorney's office in Springfield, 39 year old Andrea Nicole Tate of the 400 Block of 7th Street in Quincy was indicted for having distributed heroin that led to a death on June 24th 2016. Tate faces a trial in January and if convicted she could face up to 20 years in prison. 

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Nominees Announced for the Critics Choice Television Awards

The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) has announced the television nominees for the 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards.  The winners will be revealed live at the star-studded Critics’ Choice Awards gala, which will be broadcast from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica on A&E on Sunday, December 11 at 7 PM CST.  The awards broadcast will immediately follow the “Critics’ Choice Red Carpet Live” on A&E.  As previously announced, actor and comedian T.J. Miller will serve as the show’s host.

 

The nominations were announced by Entertainment Weekly via EW.com and the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (People.com/PEN) as part of a multi-platform content and promotional partnership between EW and the “Critics’ Choice Awards” which was revealed earlier this month. 

 

HBO leads the television honors with 22 nominations, followed by ABC and Netflix with 14 each, and FX with 12.  Topping the list of nominated series is The People v. O.J. Simpson (FX) with six.  Game of Thrones (HBO), The Night Manager (AMC), and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) follow closely behind with five each.  All the Way(HBO), House of Cards (Netflix), Roots (History), and Veep (HBO) all earned four nominations.  Other multi-nominated series include American Crime (ABC), Black-ish (ABC), Killing Reagan (National Geographic), Modern Family (ABC), Mr. Robot (USA Network), Ray Donovan (Showtime), Saturday Night Live (NBC), The Crown(Netflix), and Westworld (HBO) with three, and America’s Got Talent (NBC), Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown(CNN), Atlanta (FX), Better Call Saul (AMC), Chopped (Food Network), Confirmation (HBO), Fleabag (Amazon), Outlander (Starz), RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo), Silicon Valley (HBO), The Americans (FX), The Dresser (Starz), The Good Wife (CBS), The Voice (NBC), and Transparent (Amazon) each with two nominations.

 

"In this golden age of peak TV, viewers have an embarrassment of riches to choose from every day and night," said BTJA president Joey Berlin. "The Critics' Choice Awards are chosen to help people find the best of the best. We can't wait until December 11 to celebrate with all these incredibly deserving nominees."

 

“The Critics’ Choice Awards” are bestowed annually by the BFCA and BTJA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement. The BFCA is the largest film critics' organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. BFCA members are the primary source of information for today's film-going public. BTJA is the collective voice of almost 100 journalists who regularly cover television for TV viewers, radio listeners and online audiences. Historically, the “Critics’ Choice Awards” are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.

 

The BFCA will announce on December 1 the movie category nominees for the “22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards.”

   

Follow the 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards on Twitter and Instagram @CriticsChoice and on Facebook/CriticsChoiceAwards.

 

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TELEVISION NOMINATIONS FOR THE 22nd ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

 

BEST COMEDY SERIES

Atlanta – FX

Black-ish  – ABC

Fleabag – Amazon

Modern Family – ABC

Silicon Valley – HBO

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix

Veep – HBO

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep – HBO

Kate McKinnon – Saturday Night Live – NBC

Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish – ABC

Phoebe Waller-Bridge – Fleabag – Amazon

Constance Wu – Fresh Off the Boat  – ABC

 

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Anthony Anderson – Black-ish – ABC

Will Forte – The Last Man on Earth  – FOX

Donald Glover – Atlanta – FX

Bill Hader – Documentary Now!  – IFC

Patrick Stewart – Blunt Talk  – Starz

Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent – Amazon

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Julie Bowen – Modern Family  – ABC

Anna Chlumsky – Veep – HBO

Allison Janney – Mom – CBS

Jane Krakowski – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix

Judith Light – Transparent – Amazon

Allison Williams – Girls  – HBO

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Louie Anderson – Baskets – FX

Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine – FOX

Tituss Burgess – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix

Ty Burrell – Modern Family  – ABC

Tony Hale – Veep – HBO

T.J. Miller – Silicon Valley  – HBO

 

BEST GUEST PERFORMER IN A COMEDY SERIES

Alec Baldwin – Saturday Night Live – NBC

Christine Baranski – The Big Bang Theory  – CBS

Larry David – Saturday Night Live – NBC

Lisa Kudrow – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix

Liam Neeson – Inside Amy Schumer – Comedy Central

 

BEST ANIMATED SERIES

Archer – FX

Bob’s Burgers – FOX

BoJack Horseman – Netflix

Son of Zorn – FOX

South Park – Comedy Central

The Simpsons – FOX

 

BEST REALITY COMPETITION SERIES

America’s Got Talent – NBC

MasterChef Junior – FOX

RuPaul’s Drag Race – Logo

Skin Wars – GSN

The Amazing Race – CBS

The Voice – NBC

 

BEST STRUCTURED REALITY SERIES

Chopped – Food Network

Inside The Actors Studio – Bravo

Penn & Teller: Fool Us – The CW

Project Runway – Lifetime

Shark Tank – ABC

Undercover Boss – CBS

 

BEST UNSTRUCTURED REALITY SERIES

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – CNN

Chrisley Knows Best – USA Network

Deadliest Catch – Discovery

Ice Road Truckers – History

Intervention – A&E

Naked and Afraid – Discovery

 

BEST TALK SHOW

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee – TBS

Jimmy Kimmel Live! – ABC

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – HBO

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – Comedy Central

The Late Late Show with James Corden – CBS

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – NBC

 

BEST REALITY SHOW HOST

Ted Allen – Chopped – Food Network

Tom Bergeron – Dancing with the Stars – ABC

Anthony Bourdain – Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – CNN

Nick Cannon – America’s Got Talent – NBC

Carson Daly – The Voice – NBC

RuPaul – RuPaul’s Drag Race – Logo

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones – HBO

Kit Harington – Game of Thrones – HBO

John Lithgow – The Crown – Netflix

Mandy Patinkin – Homeland – Showtime

Christian Slater – Mr. Robot – USA Network

Jon Voight – Ray Donovan – Showtime

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Christine Baranski – The Good Wife – CBS

Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones – HBO

Lena Headey – Game of Thrones – HBO

Thandie Newton – Westworld – HBO

Maura Tierney – The Affair – Showtime

Constance Zimmer – UnREAL – Lifetime

 

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Sam Heughan – Outlander – Starz

Rami Malek – Mr. Robot – USA Network

Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul – AMC

Matthew Rhys – The Americans – FX

Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan – Showtime

Kevin Spacey – House of Cards – Netflix

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Caitriona Balfe – Outlander – Starz

Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder – ABC

Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black – BBC America

Keri Russell – The Americans – FX

Evan Rachel Wood – Westworld – HBO

Robin Wright – House of Cards – Netflix

 

BEST DRAMA SERIES

Better Call Saul – AMC

Game of Thrones – HBO

Mr. Robot – USA Network

Stranger Things – Netflix

The Crown – Netflix

This Is Us – NBC

Westworld – HBO

 

BEST GUEST PERFORMER IN A DRAMA SERIES

Mahershala Ali – House of Cards – Netflix

Lisa Bonet – Ray Donovan – Showtime

Ellen Burstyn – House of Cards – Netflix

Michael J. Fox – The Good Wife – CBS

Jared Harris – The Crown – Netflix

Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Walking Dead – AMC

 

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES

All the Way – HBO

Confirmation – HBO

Killing Reagan – National Geographic

Roots – History

The Night Manager – AMC

The People v. O.J. Simpson – FX

 

BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES

Bryan Cranston – All the Way – HBO

Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock: The Abominable Bride – PBS

Cuba Gooding Jr. – The People v. O.J. Simpson – FX

Tom Hiddleston – The Night Manager – AMC

Tim Matheson – Killing Reagan – National Geographic

Courtney B. Vance – The People v. O.J. Simpson – FX

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES

Sterling K. Brown – The People v. O.J. Simpson – FX

Lane Garrison – Roots – History

Frank Langella – All the Way – HBO

Hugh Laurie – The Night Manager – AMC

John Travolta – The People v. O.J. Simpson – FX

Forest Whitaker – Roots – History

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES

Olivia Colman – The Night Manager – AMC

Felicity Huffman – American Crime – ABC

Cynthia Nixon – Killing Reagan – National Geographic

Sarah Paulson – The People v. O.J. Simpson – FX

Lili Taylor – American Crime – ABC

Kerry Washington – Confirmation – HBO

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES

Elizabeth Debicki – The Night Manager – AMC

Regina King – American Crime – ABC

Sarah Lancashire – The Dresser – Starz

Melissa Leo – All the Way – HBO

Anna Paquin – Roots – History

Emily Watson – The Dresser 

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Retirement Income Threatened in Illinois

Now that the election is over, Illinois lawmakers are expected to shift their focus back to the huge budget deficit that's been plaguing the state. The topic could be on the agenda for this month's veto session, and may also be an issue during the lame-duck session which starts in January. That's drawn the attention of advocates for Illinois residents who are near, or at retirement age. 

The AARP Illinois Manager of Advocacy and Outreach, Ryan Gruenenfelder, said some lawmakers and special interest groups have proposed putting a tax on retirement income as a way to solve the $8-billion deficit. He said a recent poll by AARP showed overwhelming opposition to that idea. 

"Nearly nine in ten of those 50-plus opposed a proposal to tax retirement income," he said. "Sixty percent of them said they would consider moving to another state if Illinois starts taxing retirement income."

Almost all of those polled say they consider a lack of cooperation among Illinois elected officials as the reason there's been no fix to the state's budgetary woes. About two thirds say state and local taxes are already too high. 

Gruenenfelder said many retirees rely solely on Social Security, or have a small pension or 401(k) savings. There are also those who are having to care for loved ones, including raising their grandchildren, and are struggling to pay for food, housing and doctor visits. 

"Medical costs are higher for retirees than for most other groups because they are the age that they are and they tend to have more medical concerns," he explained. "Other issues are, many of them are living on a fixed income and they have a limited ability to rejoin the workforce."

Gruenenfelder urges everyone to contact elected officials to let them know that retirees shouldn't have to be the ones to solve the state's budget mess. 

Gruenenfelder urges a comprehensive solution to the Illinois crisis, and said it's very disconcerting that lawmakers aren't talking about the issue. 

"We wonder if the legislative leaders are meeting behind closed doors and coming up with a plan that the general public does not know about it," he added. "We do not want a budget proposal to end up on the legislative floor without the voices of Illinoisans."

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Boy Scout Troop 315 22nd Annual Chili Supper at United Methodist Church

This morning I spoke with Daniel Hammond and Johnson Wu from Boy Scout Troop 315 in Macomb. They will be holding their 22nd Annual Chilli Supper Tuesday November 15 at Wesley United Methodist Church. Listen to our conversation below.

 

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Professor: Schock Investigation Was Thorough

Illinois State University politics and government professor Tom McClure says federal investigators went through "everything" while investigating former Congressman Aaron Schock. A federal grand jury indicted Schock today on 24 counts, including wire fraud and theft of funds.



Schock resigned last year amid questions regarding his campaign spending. Being convicted on a single wire fraud count carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. McClure says it's likely Schock will at least be forced to pay restitution.

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Rotary Honors Two Paul Harris Fellows

The Macomb Centennial Morning Rotary Club honored a pair of members who were named Paul Harris Fellows. Tom Blackford and Jim Ditulio were named Paul Harris Fellows at the most recent Rotary Club meeting in Macomb. The Paul Harris Society is named for Paul Harris, the man who founded Rotary, and Paul Harris Fellows are honored for donated more than $1000.00 to annual Rotary Programs. 

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Advocates Push Trump to End Hunger

One in nine households in Illinois struggles to put food on the table every day, and 1 in 5 children is hungry on a consistent basis. 

The anti-hunger group Bread for the World says it will push the new Trump administration to find a solution. 

The Rev. David Beckmann, Bread for the World's president, says President-elect Donald Trump has made promises to create better job opportunities, and while that's encouraging, Beckmann says advocates need to band together to make sure that happens.

"There's all kinds of reasons to be concerned," Beckmann states. "Groups like Bread for the World need to be vigilant and help the Republican president or Republican majorities in both houses do what they say they believe in."

Beckmann says poverty and hunger in America won't end without the federal government's focused attention. 

Trump has said he wants to reform the tax code and trade policies to make it easier to hire, invest and produce in America, maintaining that will create more jobs. 

Beckmann says the issue is bigger than just creating jobs, and he hopes when Congress reconvenes it will make some changes in the criminal justice system.

"There's strong bipartisan support for sentencing reform," Beckmann states. "That would be good for reduction of hunger and poverty in our country. 

"It doesn't cost any money. As a matter of fact, it saves taxpayer dollars and also reduces the disruption of mass incarceration among communities of color in our country."

Beckmann says it's hard for people who have enough to eat to imagine what it's like to be hungry. He says some people live in long-term poverty, but the average family that receives government help to buy food only does so for about eight months.

"In Illinois, for example, 1 in 5 kids lives in a household that runs out of food," he points out. "So this is not somebody else. It's a lot of people. It's people we know."

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Macomb Lost Dog Alert

A 5 month old beagle went missing on South Lafayette today. The puppy, Sunny, was last seen in the owner's backyard. Sunny was wearing a red and blue collar. If you have any information regarding this please contact (309) 313-1275.

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Regional Media Movie Review Arrival

Arrival stars Amy Adams Dr. Louise Banks, one of the leading Linguistics Professors in the country. When alien ships arrive on Earth Dr. Banks is recruited by Colonel Weber (Forrest Whitaker) to go aboard the alien ship and attempt to decipher the alien language so that we can uncover what their intentions are on earth. Banks is joined scientist Ian Donnelly and it will be up to them to find a way to communicate with the aliens before trigger happy and paranoid members of worldwide leadership start a war with the alien visitors. Here is my review of Arrival. 

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Project Santa Fundraiser Set for November 27th

The Lamoine Valley A,B.A.T.E will host a fundraiser for the W.I .R.Community Action Agency Project Santa Program on Sunday, November 27th. Project Santa is a community program that raises money to make sure poor kids have the best Christmas possible. The A.B.A.T.E fundraiser will take place at Ike's Riverfront Tavern in Dallas City beginning at 1 Pm and will include an auction. All of the proceeds from the event will go to Project Santa and you can participate by contacting A.B.A.T.E at 217-852-3377. 

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Illinois Artist Honors Veterans

News coverage is all about the election this week, but it is also Veterans Day. Today's the day the country honors members of the military who have fought and sacrificed to protect everyone else. 

Mark Paul John is a self-taught artist who's traveling the country painting murals for police and fire departments and VFWs. He also donates paintings of military members to organizations so they can display them or use them to raise funds. He hopes to inspire people to honor and support our veterans.

"There are a lot of organizations out there doing good things and helping out, but I don't think there's enough of 'em and I don't think they're helping quick enough, so, on my end, if I can help them raise money a little bit faster and maybe a little more, then maybe we can really make a difference in helping a lot of people," he said. 

John has artwork in several states across the country and also is currently installing ten murals at the Manteno Veteran's home in Illinois.

He said it's about recognizing the sacrifices that have been made.

"I travel to different firehouses in different states and just try and spread it around and let people kind of recognize the moment that we had on Sept. 12, 2001, and how our country united, and how we should pay tribute and honor our American heroes," he added. 

Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on November 11th, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War One. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11th became a national holiday beginning in 1938. The Department of Defense said currently 1.3 million Americans are in active-duty military, and another 1 million serve in the reserves. There are 19,000 military members on active duty in Illinois.

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Leatherneck Connecks

The Leatherneck Connecks program will hold an event Saturday November 12. The idea behind the program is to have Leatherneck athletic teams to interact and instruct the special education community in the area. Saturday's event will go from 10 AM - 1 PM, followed by a recognition ceremony at halftime of the football game vs. Northern Iowa. Rachel Lenz from the Macomb Park District discussed the event with me today. Listen to our conversation below.

 

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Activist Chris Baker from Ink 180 to Speak at First Christian Church in Macomb

This morning I spoke with Minister Kelly Ingersoll about an upcoming speaking event at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Macomb. Chris Baker, from Ink 180 in the Chicago area, will come down to discuss his work with human trafficking victims and gang members.

 

The event will be held Monday night at 7. Admission is free and refreshments will be given out. For more information check out my conversation with Kelly below.

 

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Macomb Downtown Development Announces 22nd Annual Dickens on the Square Events

The 22nd Annual Dickens on the Square is now Dickens on the Square, A Magical Holiday. The new name was announced in a release from Macomb Downtown Development which stated that this year new magical characters are being introduced to the annual celebration including Disney animation characters Merida, Belle and the Prince. These characters will join traditional Dickens on the Square characters like The Grinch, and strolling Victorian Carolers who will greet downtown shoppers. The annual flagship event of Dickens on the Square, Santa's Zephyr Express will take place on December 2nd with Santa riding the train from Quincy to Macomb, arriving in Macomb at approximately 6:18 Pm. Check out Downtown Macomb's Facebook page for more on Dicken's on the Square, December 2nd and 3rd in Downtown Macomb. 

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Post Election: Women Are Stronger Together

Hillary Clinton lost in her bid to become the first female president of the United States, something advocates say would have advanced women's rights regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. 

Marilyn Katz, founder of Chicago Women Take Action, says now that Donald Trump has been elected, advocates need to redouble their efforts at the grassroots level because half of the country thinks some of the messages about women and minorities that came up during Trump's campaign were OK.

"Bangladesh, India, Israel, Britain have had women leaders, and here we are supposedly the most democratic country in the world and it's 2016, and the woman who runs for office is not only defeated but really vilified," she points out.

Katz says she doubts issues that are important to women will see much advancement in a Trump administration, but women should take this time to become activists and speak out on issues such as equal pay, child care and reproductive rights.

Nancy Kaufman, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, says a lot of disparaging remarks were made about women and minorities during Trump's campaign, and instead of moping about his win, women need to get politically active.

"We have to continue to work for the issues and values that we hold dear," she stresses. "I think some of our battles may move to the state where we think we can make some progress in preserving the rights of women to control their own reproductive health."

K. Sujata, president and CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women, says groups such as hers already have seen an increase in membership. She says because of social media, people can mobilize even if they don't live close to each other.

"Social media has really given up an opportunity to talk to each other from wherever we live and work," she points out. "And I think this is where we can band together whether we live in rural or urban areas."
 

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51st Annual Altrusa Holiday Bazaar

This morning I spoke with Heather Munro from Altrusa to discuss their 51st Annual Holiday Bazaar. The event will be held Saturday November 12 from 9 AM-3 PM at Macomb High School. Listen to my conversation with Heather for details on the event.

 

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Norine Hammond Wins Re-Election in District 93

In the mostly hotly contended race in the area Macomb-based State Representative and Repubican incumbent Norine Hammond won re-election on Tuesday night, defeating Democratic challenger John Curtis. The vote remained close throughout the night but with McDonough County eventually coming in in favor of Hammond the night was won for the incumbent. Hammond has been the State Representive from District 93 since 2010. 

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McDonough County Approves 1 Cent Sales Tax Increase

Voters in McDonough County have approved a 1 Cent sales tax increase to benefit local schools. The sales tax, which will be apportioned by the population of schools in McDonough County, should raise somewhere in the range of $2.2 million dollars according to supporters. Supporters also state that the 1 Cent Sales Tax Increase will stay within the county and raise money for improvements to schools in Bushnell-Prairie City and West Prairie, and will help Macomb towards building a new Middle School. 

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WIU Stuff The Bus

Tomorrow, Wednesday November 9, will be the 9th annual Helping Hands Across America Stuff the Bus event. It is locally sponsored by Sodexo at WIU in order to send food to local food pantries. You can participate in the event by donating food in marked areas on campus and at local grocery stores from 7AM-8PM. If you are not sure what to donate, you can buy ready to go Thanksgiving bags at local grocery stores. For more information, check out my interview with Anna Filson from Sodexo below.

 

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Scientists Testing Voters' Political Pulse

 Americans have learned a lot about how Donald Trump feels about people through Twitter, but how do Twitter users feel about Donald Trump? Computer scientists from the University of Utah have developed what they call "sentiment analysis" software that can determine how someone feels based on what they write or say. 

Feifei Li, an associate professor at the University of Utah helped develop the program, and said it provides a real-time window into how the public is reacting to political events.

"What's cool is that you can actually adjust the lens of the window," he said. "If you look at the last few months of data altogether, the sentiment for Democrats is stronger than the sentiment for Republicans."

Researchers said the biggest surge of positive tweets for Republicans came during their national convention, and again after the video was released of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women. The peak for both positive and negative tweets for Democrats came on the heels of the final debates.

Li's team started with more than 250 million global tweets and used advanced software to identify 1.6 million political posts in the United States. Li noted the program was only able to detect the leanings of Twitter users, which are not reflective of the population at large. The group's results suggest that if larger data streams can be tapped in future versions, today's pollsters could find themselves out of a job.

"We feel like if you collect enough data from the population, if you get an unbiased sample from the population using this data-driven approach, the results might be more accurate," he added. 

The scientists used artificial intelligence and machine learning to help the program decipher complexities in human language. The group then compared their results with the New York Times' forecasts and found the state-by-state analysis was very similar.

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Live Election Night Coverage on Macomb News Now 104.7 WLMD

WLMD will bring you live wall to wall coverage of election night beginning at 6 Pm and going until the local races and the national races that matter are settled. We will talk with Norine Hammond win or lose about the election and bring you reaction from other local races as well. Finally, Fox News anchored coverage of the Presidential race will also play a large part in tonight's coverage. It all begins at 6 Pm on Macomb News Now, 104.7 WLMD. 

 

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5th Annual Good Hope Turkey Trot

This Morning I spoke with Kay Hilligoss to talk about the 5th Annual Good Hope Turkey Trot that her family organizes ever year. The event will benefit the Good Hope Ballpark. The race on Thanksgiving will be held at West Prairie North Elementary School.

 

Early registration continues throughout this week. If you decide to register early you will receive a T-Shirt. The race options include a 10K run, 5K walk or run, and a 1K Kids Fun Run. For more infortmation check out the event website and listen to my conversation with Kay below.

 

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Debate Over Cellphone Safety for Kids Continues

 Evidence is mounting that cellphones may not be as safe as we think. Earlier this year a study by the National Toxicology Program found that exposure to wireless radiation significantly increased the prevalence of highly malignant heart and brain cancers in rodents. 

CTIA, the wireless industry association, has said that it's reviewing the study and that previous studies have shown no established health effects from radio-frequency signals used in cellphones. Regardless, new recommendations for children's cell phone use were issued this fall by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Dr. Ronald Melnick is retired from the National Toxicology Program and National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences and is now a scientific adviser at the Environmental Health Trust. He said cellphones emit radiation, so the more we can keep them off the body, the safer we will be - especially children.

"The penetration of the cellphone radiation into the brain of a child is deeper and greater," Melnick said. "Also, the developing nervous system of a child is potentially more susceptible to a damaging agent."

The AAP recommends that cellphone use be very limited for children, and that when they are used, it should be primarily to text. If children do use a cellphone for calls, they advise the device be kept an inch or more away from the head. 

All cell phone users are advised to avoid carrying phones against the body such as in a pocket, sock or bra. Melnick said cellphone manufacturers can't guarantee that the amount of radiation users absorb will be at a safe level.

Theodora Scarato, director of public policy and education affairs at the Environmental Health Trust, is a mother. She said she used to believe that what can be baught at the store is safe and has been tested for safety. But she said she no longer believes that is the case.

"If it were a drug it would be banned, or at least there would be a list of 'these side effects have been reported' or at least, 'We don't really know what the long-term effect is,'" Scarato said. "But we're not really given any information and little babies are given these phones."

She said it's hard as a parent to tell your children they can't have a cellphone, or to strictly limit the use of other electronics, but her family has done just that. 

"It has not been easy making some of the changes we've made, but once we've done it we're doing fine!" Scarano said. "And I'm actually really thankful that we don't have devices beeping and interrupting all the time. Because there's nothing more important that my children's health."

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Report: Plant More Trees for Healthier World

A new report that looks at the impact that trees have on people's health finds we need more trees. 

The Planting Healthy Air study from The Nature Conservancy examines the potential impact of planting trees in specific cities to lower heat and pollution, and how that could affect health, especially in regards to asthma. 

The group's lead scientist, Rob McDonald, says trees provide shade and release water vapor into the air as they photosynthesize. Leaves remove particulate matter from the air around the trees, including toxins from auto exhaust and factory and power plant emissions.

"Trees can reduce air temperatures nearby by 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, and they're already doing that for tens of millions of people worldwide," he states. "They can remove up to a quarter of the particulate matter concentrations in the atmosphere, one of the most damaging kinds of air pollution."

McDonald says heat waves are responsible for 12,000 deaths each year, killing more people globally than hurricanes or winter storms. Additionally, 3.2 million deaths annually can be attributed to fine particulate matter, a component of smog. 

The report says by 2050 this type of pollution could kill 6.2 million people every year.

McDonald says elderly people face particular risk as the global climate shifts, and average summers temperatures increase.

"One forecast from the World Health Organization is that annual mortality from heat waves could reach 250,000 people by 2050 unless cities start to adapt," he points out. "Smart cities are starting to think about heat action plans." 

The study found if cities around the world invested $4 in tree planting for every resident, tens of millions of lives could be saved.

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Watchdog Group: Nuclear Bailout Legislation Imminent in Illinois

Much of the media focus in Illinois has been on baseball and the upcoming presidential election, but advocates for renewable energy in the state say residents need to know that later this month a nuclear bailout bill could be back in front of lawmakers.

Last month, state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, said he would introduce another version of Senate Bill 1585, the "2016 Exelon Nuclear Bailout legislation," as early as the fall veto session, which begins Nov. 15. Dave Kraft, director of the watchdog group Nuclear Energy Information Service, questioned why ratepayers need to carry the burden of the country's largest nuclear utility.

"No other business entity in Illinois gets that privilege," Kraft said. "They didn't do it for Mitsubishi, they didn't do it for Nabisco, they're not likely to do it for Cat or Chrysler in Belvidere, or Boeing, or United Airlines when they lose money."

SB 1585 amends the Public Utilities Act, preventing premature closings of nuclear power plants. Trotter's office said there would be dire consequence to the economy, jobs, and the environment if they were shut down. 

Kraft said the legislation also threatens community solar energy projects which he said Exelon and its Midwest utility, ComEd, want to eliminate.

"It gets rid of net metering, which is something we currently have, where if people want to put solar panels on their roof, they not only get the benefit of the electricity for doing that themselves, but if they generate a surplus they can actually sell it back to the grid," Kraft said. "Well, ComEd wants to get rid of that. It's in their interest to do that so they can control solar."

Illinois' utility companies have said the bailout only would raise ratepayers' bills by about 25 cents per month while ensuring stability and improving Illinois' energy markets. Critics say ratepayers would be on the hook for an average of $3 per month during the first 10 years, and more after that. 

The text of SB 1585 is online at ilga.gov.

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Advocates Make Voters' Guide Available

A group advocating for rights for people with disabilities has spent the last year contacting all the candidates running for president, governor and U.S. Senate in the general election, asking them to fill out a survey explaining how they would address the issues that 56 million Americans with disabilities face. 

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of the group RespectAbility, said of these Americans, more than 35 million are eligible to vote on November 8th, representing close to one-sixth of the total electorate.

"We have a number of questions: from employment for people with disabilities, to the issue of sexual assault, to the issue of health care, transportation, education, foreign policy," she explained. "All around, the issues that impact the one in five Americans who have a disability."

Illinois ranks 27th in the nation for employment of people with disabilities. Fewer than 36 percent of working-age people with disabilities in the state have a job.

Laszlo Mizrahi says both the Republican and Democratic candidates who are seeking Illinois' open U.S. Senate seat, as well as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, completed the questionnaire.

"It's particularly frustrating in the case of Mr. Trump, because Hillary Clinton responded so very, very early and very thoroughly to the candidate questionnaire," she said. "And in the primary, saw the same happen with Jeb Bush and John Kasich and other Republicans."

She added there is a voter guide for each state, and they've posted answers by national and state candidates at TheRespectAbilityReport.org

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Citizens November Community and Seniors Day

This morning Casey Grant from Citizens and Ashley Lewis from Wesley Village came in to discuss Thursday's Community and Seniors Day at Citizens. Wesley Village is providing free hand waxings at the event.

 

Listen to our conversation for a full rundown of everything going on at Citizen's monthly Community and Seniors Day.

 

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25th Annual Youth For Christ Western Illinois Banquet

This morning Connie Sadler, the Executive Director of Youth For Christ Western Illinois, came in to discuss their 25th Annual Banquet. The event will be held next Friday, November 11, at the Spoon River Community Outreach Center.

 

Listen to our conversation below for more information on the event. 

 

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Macomb Food Co-op to Hold Mural Reveal Day on Friday

The Macomb Food Co-op will reveal it's long in the works mural on Friday. In a release from the Macomb Food Co-op it was announced that this Friday the Co-op will host a Mural Reveal Day on Friday, November 4th at 4 Pm. The mural was designed by Mary Ann Carlson, the visual arts instructor at Edison Middle School. If you would like to attend the Mural Reveal Day the Co-op is inviting everyone on Friday at 4 Pm at their location at 211 S. McArthur Street, along Washington Street. 

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WIU Honored with 2017 Best for Vets

Western Illinois University is celebrating another year of supporting student veterans. According to a release from WIU, the school has once again been honored with the distinction "Best for Vets" by Military "EDGE" Magazine. It's the seventh consecutive year that this honor has been bestowed on Western Illinois, naming it one of the top 15 unversities in the country for military veterans. 

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Charter Schools Growing; Public Schools Losing Out

What began as an experiment to create innovation through charter schools has become a movement to privatize public education, according to a new report

Stan Salett, the study's co-author, and the president of the Foundation for the Future of Youth spent more than four decades in public education and helped launch the nation's Head Start and Upward Bound programs. He said in the past two decades, a small group of billionaires, including News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch, who once called public schools an "untapped $500 billion sector," have worked to assert private control over public education to make money.

"And that's what's at play now," he said. "You've got a lot of money on one side going in to create a privatized school system that becomes part of the new marketplace for hedge funds and Wall Street investors."

The Independent Media Institute study found 40 percent of the nation's 6,700 charter schools are part of corporate chains or franchises. Salett said many charters do good work, and are operated by and accountable to their communities. But the report recommends a national moratorium on their rapid growth until the industry's governing structures and business models can be assessed and improved.

The study outlines how public tax dollars follow students who enroll in charters, taking money away from already struggling public systems. Salett said most major U.S. cities are now divided into private and public tracks, and argues the future of one of the nation's few institutions where people from diverse backgrounds come together is at risk.

"Different language backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, racial backgrounds," he added. "The aim of public schools has always been to create a place where the so-called 'melting pot' can occur."

Salett said companies frequently mix nonprofit and for-profit wings to win taxpayer subsidies, further boosting profits. He said some charters also have successfully lobbied to eliminate democratically elected boards, public oversight and accountability.

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Watchdog Group: Nuclear Bailout Legislation Imminent in Illinois

Much of the media focus in Illinois has been on baseball and the upcoming presidential election, but advocates for renewable energy in the state say residents need to know that later this month a nuclear bailout bill could be back in front of lawmakers.

Last month, state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, said he would introduce another version of Senate Bill 1585, the "2016 Exelon Nuclear Bailout legislation," as early as the fall veto session, which begins Nov. 15. Dave Kraft, director of the watchdog group Nuclear Energy Information Service, questioned why ratepayers need to carry the burden of the country's largest nuclear utility.

"No other business entity in Illinois gets that privilege," Kraft said. "They didn't do it for Mitsubishi, they didn't do it for Nabisco, they're not likely to do it for Cat or Chrysler in Belvidere, or Boeing, or United Airlines when they lose money."

SB 1585 amends the Public Utilities Act, preventing premature closings of nuclear power plants. Trotter's office said there would be dire consequence to the economy, jobs, and the environment if they were shut down. 

Kraft said the legislation also threatens community solar energy projects which he said Exelon and its Midwest utility, ComEd, want to eliminate.

"It gets rid of net metering, which is something we currently have, where if people want to put solar panels on their roof, they not only get the benefit of the electricity for doing that themselves, but if they generate a surplus they can actually sell it back to the grid," Kraft said. "Well, ComEd wants to get rid of that. It's in their interest to do that so they can control solar."

Illinois' utility companies have said the bailout only would raise ratepayers' bills by about 25 cents per month while ensuring stability and improving Illinois' energy markets. Critics say ratepayers would be on the hook for an average of $3 per month during the first 10 years, and more after that. 

The text of SB 1585 is online at ilga.gov.

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Energy Assistance Opens to General Public November 1

Press Release via WIRC Community Agency
 
Low income households that meet the following guidelines in Hancock, Henderson, McDonough, and Warren counties are eligible for help in paying home heating bills this winter through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The general public can apply starting November 1.
 
The Western Illinois Regional Council-Community Action Agency (WIRC-CAA) in Macomb administers the program in the four-county area.  Individuals can call 309-837-2997, or come to the office at 223 South Randolph in Macomb to schedule an appointment. Local outreach sites are also available for filing an application.
 
Reconnection Assistance may be available to households disconnected from an energy source needed for heating, or if a delivered-fuel supplier has refused to deliver AND the tank contains 20 percent or less. For renters, if utilities are included in the rent, then the rent amount must be greater than 30% of the household’s gross monthly income to receive assistance. Households that receive Reconnection Assistance funding must meet a “good faith” requirement within the past 90 days of the application date, if household has not made payments in the last 90 days.
 
A household may qualify to receive energy assistance if the gross income for all household members for 30 days income beginning with the date of the application and does not exceed the following levels.
 
$1,485 for a one-person household
$2,003 for a two-person household
$2,520 for a three-person household
$3,038 for a four-person household
For each additional household member add $520
 
Persons applying for assistance must provide the following information to document eligibility for the program: proof of gross income for all household members for 30 days income beginning with the date of the application; a complete and current copy of the heating and electric bills or a statement from the energy suppliers (if the household is responsible for paying its own bills); and social security cards for all household members. If additional information is needed, the household has 15 days to provide the necessary documentation.
 
The amount of assistance is determined by choice of program between the LIHEAP Direct Vendor Payment (DVP) or the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). The LIHEAP-DVP benefit amount is determined by factors such as: household size and total income, type of fuel and whether the household pays its own heating bills, or if the heating cost is included in rent payments. Funding is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until each county’s allocation is depleted.      
                                                                                                                  
Assistance payments are made to the energy supplier, or to the household according to the program guidelines. Funding may be applied toward current bills, past-due bills, late charges, and reconnect fees.
 
A household that resides in public subsidized housing must have a “subject to surcharge” clause in their lease to be eligible for energy assistance. The applicant, however, must have monthly rent costs greater than 30 percent of the household income.   

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