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Macomb Local News Archives for 2016-12

Is Your Dinner Bad for the Environment?

(StatePoint) These days, many consumers are taking steps to select brands that are socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. Unfortunately, not all companies are upfront about where their products come from and how they were produced -- and this is particularly troubling where seafood, and especially tuna, are concerned.
 
A new report by Greenpeace, “Sea of Distress,” could serve as a helpful guide in pointing seafood lovers to those foodservice companies that are acting responsibly.
 
“While some brands are taking strides towards becoming ethical and sustainable operations, there is a pervasive problem in seafood supply chains,” says David Pinsky, Greenpeace oceans campaigner. “Foodservice companies feed millions of people in university cafeterias, corporate dining halls, restaurants and hospitals and often keep consumers in the dark about whether their seafood is sustainable and ethical.”
 
Greenpeace, which is calling for reform, says that foodservice companies should be able to ensure the seafood they sell is fully traceable from sea or farm to plate, and does not involve destructive fishing and farming methods or labor violations. Unfortunately, the industry too often incentivizes bad behaviors, the organization says, by offering discount programs for bulk purchasing of seafood, without regard for environmental or social impacts.
 
There is good news, though. Three major foodservice companies, Sodexo USA, Compass Group USA and Aramark, passed Greenpeace’s rigorous assessment due to their transparency, sustainable sourcing requirements and advocacy efforts.
 
Unfortunately, several of the largest food distributors failed the assessment. This is particularly concerning because these companies buy and sell billions of dollars of seafood that is consumed in restaurants, schools, and corporate dining halls every year. Grocery retailers are already providing an example for the foodservice industry to follow. “Carting Away the Oceans,” a separate assessment by Greenpeace of the nation’s largest supermarkets, has shown vast improvement over the past eight years, with the majority of grocery stores across the country now receiving passing scores.
 
“The foodservice industry, which accounts for nearly half of all food-dollar spending outside the home every day, must follow the lead of several grocery retailers and work to provide sustainable, ethical seafood,” says Pinsky.
 
To access the full report and learn more about ethical seafood, visit Greenpeace.org.
 
When dining outside your home, you may give the food on your plate less consideration than you do at home. But these meals count, too. As a consumer, you can make a considerable impact by choosing companies that are doing the right thing.

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WIRC Nationally Recognized for Macomb Transit Facility Project

The Western Illinois Regional Council in Macomb has been given national recognition for the Macomb Transit Facility Project. On Wednesday the National Association of Development Organizations honored the WIRC with the 2016 Innovation Award for the work that created the exceptional Macomb Transit Facility. MacombNewsNow.com caught up with Transit Director Nathan Cobb to talk about the prestigious nationwide recognition and more about the Macomb Transit Facility Project. 

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Special Weather Statement Issued, Windy Conditions in McDonough County

Windy conditions across McDonough County on Thursday caused the Weather Channel to issue a Special Weather statement. According to the Weather Channel, windy conditions across the area will develop throughout the day with early wind gusts of 15 to 20 miles per hour early in the day and increasing to 20 to 25 miles per hour into the afternoon. These heavy winds could blow debris onto roadways and cause other driving difficulties. Be aware that these windy conditions will continue throughout Thursday. 

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Top News Stories in Illinois in 2016

The Associated Press has decided that the top news story in the state was more than a 100 years in the making. They ranked the top 10 and come up with Cubs winning the World Series as the biggest thing to happen in Illinois this year. The Cubs won in 7 games over the Cleveland Indians. The AP’s second biggest story was the continued gun violence in Chicago where now more than 4,300 people have been shot. Number three was the continued lack of a comprehensive budget for the state. 

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Tips to Refresh Yourself in the New Year

(StatePoint) Want to update and improve yourself for the New Year? A few top-to-bottom tweaks can help you look and feel your best
 
Update Staples
 
Staples and basics don’t need to change with the seasons, however it’s important to update these elements when they’re worn out, no longer fit, or are simply outdated. Evaluate your shoes, bags, jackets with these criteria in mind and replace any items as needed.
 
If there are items that you love that are in disrepair but you can’t imagine parting with, take this opportunity to re-sole and shine those shoes and replace that lost button. You’ll improve these items’ usefulness and breathe new life into them. You’ll also look more put together once these items are refurbished.
 
Look Back
 
Refreshing your look doesn’t necessarily mean going ultra-modern. Sometimes a vintage look can make a bigger statement. Accessorize with a timepiece that is elegant, classic and will never go out of style. It will serve as a nice complement to any outfit, whether you’re headed to work or going to a party. To combine style with precision, consider the A168WG-9VT from the Casio Vintage Collection, which has a sleek gold colored band and a digital display.
 
Get Groomed
 
A new haircut can do wonders. Even if you’re growing your hair long, a trim can make you look polished and groomed. Not only that, it eliminates split ends and keeps hair healthy. For extra edge, men may want to consider indulging in a professional shave while they are at the barber.
 
Follow a Trend
 
Take a cue from the color experts and add a few items to your wardrobe with Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2017, “Greenery.” A yellow-green hue evocative of spring, this color can add a bright element to your look and is totally on-trend.
 
By looking back and looking ahead, you can get inspired to update your look for a new year.
 

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Think Tank Challenges Brookings Report on Segregation

An education think tank has taken a closer look at a report on school segregation that came out this fall from the Center for Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. It found that poverty, not race, is the real challenge for segregated schools, and that improving school quality is key to closing racial achievement gaps. 

Erica Frankenberg, co-director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights, said the problem with that report is that it ignored a lot of evidence and it calls for more charter schools, but she said charter schools tend to be more segregated than public schools. She added that diversity allows children to learn from each other.

"They have reduced racial prejudice," she said. "They're more likely to lead integrated lives as adults; a lot of these things that are really important outcomes of public schools that we want to help prepare our citizens for a diverse country and a diverse workforce."

In her review, Frankenberg found that the report presents a false choice between school integration and creating high-quality urban charter schools. She did the analysis for Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center.

The Brookings report said individual charter schools are more racially segregated than traditional public schools that serve the same geographical area. 

William J. Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, disagrees. He said the issue of segregation needs to be addressed.

"People forget that one of the primary reasons that we have public schools is socialization for a democratic society," he said. "We need to learn to get along together and work together for the common good, and that seems to be lost when people are simply looking at test scores."

Mathis said achievement scores at public schools aren't much different that the charter schools, and added that means kids are losing out socially, without any gains academically.

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Debunking Myths About Home Garbage Disposals

(StatePoint) Over half of all Americans have a garbage disposal. Unfortunately, many may not be properly maintained due to common misconceptions.
 
The experts at Moen, a leading manufacturer of kitchen and bathroom fixtures, are debunking the common misconceptions of using a garbage disposal to help homeowners keep their disposals running at peak performance.
 
Some of the most commonly believed myths are that ice will sharpen disposal blades, lemons will eliminate odors, and hot water should always be used when running the disposal. It’s important to understand what will help improve a garbage disposal’s performance to keep the machine running efficiently.
 
“At the end of the day, if you don’t have a reliable, quality machine, your care tactics won’t make a difference,” says Cassy Osborne, senior marketing manager at Moen. Osborne. “Look for a disposal with a powerful motor that operates quickly to effectively grind particles and help reduce jamming.”
 

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Rocky On Parade January 7th

On January 7th, local businesses and patrons of the arts can show their pride in Western Illinois University by getting involved in Rocky on Parade. According to a release from WIU, Rocky on Parade is aimed at celebrating the creation, placement and decorating of 25 brand new Rocky statues outside of businesses or residences across Macomb in 2017. Kids from Kindergarten through the 6th Grade participated in creating the new Rocky color designs which will be given out in the form of a draft in April during which those who purchase Rocky sponsorships will 'draft,' ala the NFL, their artist and design for their statue. Throughout 2017 the statues will be placed at their designated locations and painted to match the drafted design. The Rocky on Parade kickoff rally will be January 7th from 10 Am until 2 Pm at the West Central Arts Center. 

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Advocates Urge Governor to Sign Disabled-Care Pay Legislation

Advocates are hoping the new year will bring with it a signature on a bill they say protects and strengthens supports for people with disabilities.

Senate Bill 261 was sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner early this month. The legislation was in response to Illinois' Department of Human Services' new overtime policies that cut overtime pay and may force families to have to hire caregivers from outside the family. 

Ann Ford, executive director of the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, said most families can't afford to do that, and they don't always trust that the care from others will be top quality.

"An individual living in their own home who is eligible for the Home Services Program has the right to hire whoever they choose to provide their services," she said. 

This summer, Rauner vetoed legislation that would have meant a $15-an-hour wage for home health-care workers who serve people with disabilities, saying there isn't enough money in the budget to cover it.

Ford said some of the people with disabilities need care 24/7, 365 days a year, and feel their needs are private and don't feel comfortable having a stranger take care of them.

"Services such as helping somebody in and out of bed, helping somebody shower, helping somebody use the bathroom, very private, personal things that you don't want a stranger to come into your home and provide for you," she explained. 

Ford said people with disabilities in the Home Services Program are placed at great risk when their personal attendants' hours are limited to 40 hours per week because many of them need care around the clock. She said SB 261 protects those who need care and lets them live in their own home with dignity.

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Regional Media Movie Review Why Him?

Why Him is an ungainly, awkward, mess of a movie. The film stars James Franco as one of the most off-putting characters ever brought to the screen, a tech billionaire named Laird who has no concept of how normal people interact. This could be a funny idea, the super-rich can tend to lose connection to the concerns and proprieties of the common man, but, Franco's performance isn’t merely that of a charmingly out of touch kook, but rather a genuinely out of sorts sociopath played as a comic creation.

 

Bryan Cranston co-stars with Franco in Why Him and is apparently trying to create a character just as annoying as his co-star. Cranston is Ned Fleming, the father of Stephanie (Zoey Deutsch) who has gone off to college in Silicon Valley and fallen madly in love with Laird. Stephanie has invited the whole family, including her mother, Barb (Megan Mullally), and brother Scottie (Griffin Gluck), to fly to California from their home in Michigan to spend the holidays with her and Laird who they will meet for the very first time.

 

Laird's shtick is that he says everything that comes into his head with no filter. He curses to a degree that would shame Melissa McCarthy and is so incredibly disconnected from everyday small talk that he has no problem discussing sex with his clearly offended future in-laws. Even as everyone around him is clearly offended and uncomfortable with Laird's behavior he is completely oblivious and somehow this is supposed to be funny. It's not, it's just hard to watch.

 

For his part, Cranston plays Ned as a joyless crank. He’s miserable from the moment he arrives in California from Michigan and remains miserable through the films forced and predictable finale. So, Ned is a miserable character with no sense of humor, no jokes to leaven his miserable premise and the most that Cranston can seem to do with the character is physical shtick that is more like watching someone amid a mental breakdown than someone attempting physical humor. Cranston gesticulates and tenses every muscle and spits every line of dialogue and never once does something funny.

 

The supporting players in Why Him come away far better off than the leads. Megan Mullally, a veteran of TV sitcoms, seems to know just where to pick her spots for her few jokes, while poor Zoey Deutsch spends most of her time trying to dodge the two leads whose gesticulations as they strain for every joke had to be rather dangerous for any co-star who wandered too closely. Keegan Michael Key, playing Franco's oddball, German accented, assistant Gustav, at the very least could fight back. His running gag is randomly attacking Laird as a way of developing his self-defense, a joke that falls flat, especially once Cranston begins trying to explain it.

 

Why Him is completely derailed by a pair of lead performances that could not possibly be less appealing. The fact that both Cranston and Franco are former Academy Award nominees only compounds the problem. We know these two actors are better than this awful material and watching them act down to this garbage idea is just depressing.

 

I blame Director John Hamburg for most of the problems with Why Him. Having allowed his actors to do a great deal of improvisation, at least I assume that was improv, otherwise there is an editor who needs to find a new profession, Hamburg created the sloppy, slapdash environment that lead to this mess. Even worse, Hamburg fills out the awfulness by relying on bathroom humor with toilets and urine playing significant roles in the film.

 

What is it with John Hamburg and bathrooms? Bathroom issues have figured prominently in his humor in most of his movies from the cat that could flush a toilet in Meet the Parents to Ben Stiller's irritable bowels in Along Comes Polly to the fart jokes of Hamburg's one good movie, I Love You Man, Hamburg seems either obsessed with bathrooms or he's merely childish and lazy. Toilets figure prominently throughout Why Him which ends with a post-credits scene all about toilets with pictures of people using the toilet. Ewww. 

 

At the very least toilets are an apt metaphor for Why Him. This movie needs to be flushed.

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Governor Demands Two Million Dollars Per Day from State's Largest Union

The Governor’s office is looking for the state’s largest employee union to start paying $2 million a day to the administration because they haven’t accepted Bruce Rauner’s contract terms. AFSCME and the Governor are tied up in an unfair labor practice complaint. The state’s labor relations board ruled the two parties at an impasse and the administration could impose its last and best final offer. AFSCME then went to court and won an effort to block the contract from being imposed. The state says the cost to the state for not implementing the contract is $2 million a day. The union says the filing is a disgraceful attempt to intimidate members from their legal rights. The administration’s statement notes the contract is similar to 18 others negotiated and agreed to by other state employee unions. 

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Rauner Makes Record Setting Donation To HImself

The Governor is kick starting the 2018 campaign season with a little gift to himself. Bruce Rauner moved $50 million of his own money to his campaign fund. It’s a record setting amount that raises the stakes in what no doubt will be the most expensive state wide race in Illinois history. The Rauner campaign notes to media sources that there is plenty more where that came from – labeling the money as a first installment. 

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Avoiding a Season of Waste During the Holidays

Despite all the wrapping paper, shipping boxes and food packaging, the holiday season doesn't have to be a season of waste. Experts say many items can be kept out of the landfill by properly recycling them. 

According to the EPA, 1 million tons of household waste ends up in landfills between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. That's why Trish Radke, program coordinator with Metro Waste Authority, is encouraging Iowans to stick to their regular recycling guidelines.

"We're going a mile a minute and there is a lot to do," Radke said, "but it really doesn't take that much extra time to make sure that you're doing what you do all year long, making sure those basic materials, paper, the plastics with twist-off lids, cans and basic glass go in the cart."

Gift wrap and bags are recyclable as long as the material is not metallic and doesn't have glitter on it. Some bows, however, are not. Radke suggests starting a bow pile so they can be reused. 

Tech items are popular gifts, and electronic devices are often discarded after the holidays. But Radke said those old phones, televisions and tablets need to be sold, donated or taken to an electronic recycling program since they are not fit for curbside recycling.

With the explosion of Amazon and other home shopping services, Radke said many folks have piles of boxes to discard. While boxes are perfect for the recycle cart, the packing materials inside usually are not. 

"Bubble wrap or plastic wrap is not recyclable, nor is the Styrofoam that often comes in that packaging," she said. "So take all of that packaging material out, throw it in the garbage or reuse it if you can."

Strings of Christmas lights are also not recyclable.

"Those definitely should not go in your cart," Radke said. "When they get to the recycling sorting facilities, they actually wrap around the machines and cause a lot of damage and prevent the good recyclables from getting recycled."

If not donated or sold, old artificial Christmas trees should go in the regular trash. However, most real trees can be recycled through community 'Compost It!' programs. 

For more information on recycling this holiday season, visit WhereItShouldGo.com

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Op ed: Trump's Deportation Plan Could Disrupt Agriculture

A big part of President-elect Donald Trump's campaign platform was immigration with a promise to deport 11 million people who are undocumented, but some farm groups are saying "not so fast." The American Farm Bureau Federation said about half of all farm workers in this country are undocumented. The agency has a plan to set up a visa program that gives people residency but not citizenship

Steve Suppan, senior policy analyst at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, said the Farm Bureau has to walk a fine line because their constituents are largely Republican, and they wouldn't back plans to make farm workers U.S. citizens.

"A very small needle that has to be threaded between providing agribusiness what it wants and still somehow pretending to keep to the electoral pledge and the general idea of deporting the immigrants who are blamed for the loss of employment," he explained. 

The American Farm Bureau has called for immigration reform, saying there needs to be a new, more flexible visa program that meets the needs of farmers and workers, but at the same time guarantees that the agricultural workforce is not subjected to mass deportation.

Suppan said the industry depends on minimum wage or, in some cases, less than minimum-wage labor, but he expects there will be some deportations under a Trump administration.

"There are going to be, definitely, some fairly spectacular roundups, at least of the type that will show, you know, 'victory for America,' the immigrant-deportation variation of the Carrier saving 700 jobs," he added. "So I expect to see a fair amount of public-relations outreach concerning migrants."

To the argument that immigrants are taking Americans' jobs, Suppan said legal citizens haven't wanted to work in the industry, especially for the wages that currently are being offered, which, according to the USDA, is on average, $10.80 an hour, and even less for undocumented workers.

"Let's say you take the wage up to an average of $15 an hour, and you include benefits," said Suppan. "That changes the pricing structure of agriculture, and then becomes questionable whether, for example, the confined animal-feed operation business model is viable."

Some farmers say Trump's plan would lead to higher prices for fruits, veggies, dairy and meat.

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Enchanted Florist Presents: Adopt a Doggie Week 4

 

We are in the second week of searching for a new home for Kalibak (pictured above), a one and a half year old blue pitbull. He is very friendly, energetic but calm inside, and great with children and other dogs. Check out our Adopt a Doggie segment from last week where Kalibak came in studio to visit with us. 

 

If you are interested in meeting Kalibak contact the McDonough County Animal Shelter at  (309) 837-2989. They are located at 101 E. Tower Road in Macomb. 

 

Our first dog, Tracy, was adopted two weeks ago by the Hawkins Family in Quincy. Her name is now Kora and the family was nice enough to tell us a little more about how they found her and how she's transitioned to her new home. 

 

Listen to this week's segment below.

 

 

We've also included a few pictures that Rachel Hawkins provided us of Kora. We are hoping to receive similar pictures of Kalibak in his new home in time for Christmas! 

 

(Kora in her new sweater and toy that she got as a welcome home present)

 

(Kora hogging all the blankets while watching movies with the family)

 

(Kora playing with the family's other pit on her first night home)

 

 

 

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State Rep Hammond Calls for Funds for Western Correctional Center

Macomb based State Representative Norine Hammond on Tuesday called for newly elected State Comptroller Susana Mendoza to release funds to pay debts owed by the Western Correctional Center in Mount Sterling. In a release to the press, Hammond stated that she'd sent a message to Comptroller Mendoza to release $78,000 in relief funds to the Western Correctional Center so that the Center could pay off the Correctional Center's water bill. With the budget stalemate, still ongoing places like Western Correctional Center, which is operated by the state of Illinois, have not had funds to pay bills for necessities such as water. On Monday, the Comptroller's Office announced that $404 million dollars in relief funds would be used to help pay off such debts though no specific payment plans have been announced. 

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Illinois Suffers Significant Population Decline

The state has suffered through a fairly rough year – and now the Census Bureau is piling on. Official numbers show the state lost more people from July 2015 to July 2016 than any other state. More than 37,000 people moved out. Illinois joins 8 other states that lost population over that time, New York and Pennsylvania are also on the list. The states that grew include Utah, Nevada and Washington. 

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Traveling with an Alzheimers or Dementia Patients During the Holidays

Holiday travel can be stressful in an everyday situation. Now imagine holiday travel when you are a caregiver to someone with Alzheimers or Dementia. The stress can be off the charts. Susan Johnson with the Alzheimers Association dropped by our MacombNewsNow.com studios this week to talk about Alzheimers and Dementia and what caregivers can do to relieve holiday stress. Susan Johnson will be joining us each month to talk about Alzheimers and Dementia and getting help for caregivers in need. 

 

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Illinois Farm Bureau Votes to Continue WIU Research Funding

The Illinois Farm Bureau voted on Monday to continue funding studies across the state of Illinois intended to help farmers across the state, including a project in McDonough County. According to the release from the ILFB, the Farm Bureau will continue funding research with Western Illinois Unversity int0 2017. WIU along with a private laboratory will continue research in the area of Baseline Nutrient Loss at farms in McDonough County and identify best practices to overcome nutrient loss in local crops. 

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WIU Board Votes Not to Raise to Tuition

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees met on Monday and voted to keep tuition at it's current level for the 2017-2018 school year. While acknowledging that the school has reduced funding due to the ongoing budget problems, WIU President Jack Thomas said "We will not allow reduced state funding to become a tuition burden on our students. We are dedicated to providing educational opportunities for all citizens, and we will remain an affordable public higher education institution." Thomas went on to say "We continue to be the only University in the state that provides the guaranteed cost structure for all student expenses, including room, meal plan, tuition and fees. This allows students and their families to have a more stable financial plan for a college education. Students deserve access to the quality education Western Illinois University provides." The tuition rate for incoming students next year will remain $8541.00 or $284.70 per credit hour based off the average of 30 credit hours per student. 

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State Treasurer Warns of Impact of the End of Stopgap Budget

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs isn't sugarcoating the potential impact of the end of a stopgap budget cycle New Year's Day. He also says there's plenty of blame to go around...

Frerichs has a number of concerns including the future of higher education...


Frerichs recently noted the state missed out on $5.5 million in investment income due to the budget impasse.

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School Closings and Delays December 20th

Illini West 307 Closed Tuesday 

 

LaHarpe Elementary Closed

 

Dallas Elementary Closed 

 

Nauvoo-Colusa School District 325 Closed 

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Holidays Should be Joyful, Not Stressful

At this time of year, many people focus on fun parties, quality family time and gift-giving, but it can lead some people to get caught up in the chaos and consumerism of the holiday season, and that can leave many of us stressed out, tired and sick. 

Dr. A.K. Mishra, medical director at U.S. Health Works, has a few suggestions for staying healthy and stress-free during the holidays: Get your sleep, because he said no amount of holiday "chores" or events are worth losing sleep over. Mishra said the lack of rest eventually will have an effect on your body.

"Be it headaches, be it just being slower, having a shorter temper," he said. "People should be able to cue in on the signs that we know about ourselves."

Mishra said people are indoors in close quarters so germs spread quickly. He said to wash your hands frequently and try not to spend too much time in crowded places.

Mishra said it's the time of year when we eat more than we should, and that can add to our problems. He said to keep energy up, eat balanced meals and snacks rather than relying on caffeine, fast food and holiday sugar fixes.

"What people do is, they'll stress eat," he added. "They'll eat poorly in response to stress. If you're putting bad fuel in, you're going to make this a lot worse."

Even though it's cold out, exercise is key. Mishra also said take a brisk walk outside or squeeze in a visit to the gym and that will help work off some of the stress associated with holidays.

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School Closings and Delays 12-19-16

The following schools, businesses and services will be closed on Monday December 18th. Check back in this space throughout the morning for updates. 

 

LaHarpe School Closed with No Evening Activities

Dallas Elementary Closed

Nauvoo Colusa District 325 

YMCA Senior Center Meal Program No Delivery or Congregate Food Service 

 

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Effort Under Way to Treat "Super-utilizers"

An effort is under way in Illinois to create a data bank of so-called "superutilizers" - individuals with mental illnesses and/or addictions who repeatedly end up in jails, prisons and hospitals. 

John Maki, director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Informational Authority, said his group has teamed up with the Illinois Hospital Association to try to better understand who these people are. He said doctors and law enforcement don't have a way to keep track of those people who have specialized needs.

"They know them when they get them but they don't know how they came to them. They don't know what factors led to them ending up in the system," Maki explained. "So by putting data together, we can create kind of a 360 degree view of that person and provide more effective services."

Illinois is part of Data-Driven Health and Justice, a nationwide effort launched last summer to reduce the financial and human costs associated with incarcerating people who have complex needs but who don't pose a risk to public safety. Maki said states, counties and cities across the country have started working to divert people away from the justice system and into more appropriate care.

According to Maki, people bouncing from one jail, emergency room or rehab facility to another is costly and ineffective, and it does the patient no good.

"Someone with schizophrenia or serious mental illness or has struggled with drug addiction does not need to go to prison or jail to receive care," he said. "It can be delivered much more effectively, much more efficiently on the outside. But to do that, we have to understand who these people are first."

Maki gave Illinois leaders credit for applying for a Medicaid waiver, which would allow the federal government to approve experimental or pilot projects to help superutilizers. He said the state took another positive step by creating the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, which is designed to reduce the state's incarcerated population by 25 percent by 2025.

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Blowing and Accumulating Snow and Dangerously Low Temps Across the Area

The National Weather Service is warning that travel is not advised Saturday and early Sunday. Blowing and drifting snow, accumulating to one to two inches is expected across the Regional Media Listening Area is making travel quite treacherous. The snow is combining with freezing rain and sleet to create dangerous conditions on most roadways. We will keep you updated on our Regional Media stations and here at MacombNewsNow.com. 

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Fewer students will get MAP grants in new year

Colleges and university leaders are facing a familiar issue. They are again deciding whether they can provide state grant money up front to low-income students while the state shows no sign of having a budget anytime soon. An Illinois Student Assistance Commission survey of 96 Illinois schools indicates some cash strapped schools that covered grants in the fall won't be able to duplicate that feat in the spring semester. The number of schools that will guarantee money this spring will fall from 60 percent for the fall semester to 53 percent.

 

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Rauner says property tax freeze is about giving voters control

For anyone who follows Illinois dysfunctional political saga, they likely know where the battle lines are drawn in budget talks between Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan. In recent weeks, Rauner has maintained he won't consider a stopgap budget unless lawmakers agree to term limits and property tax freeze legislation. Rauner says the tax freeze legislation is all about shifting power to voters....

 



Madigan has rejected Rauner’s reforms and says the Governor and legislative leaders need to work exclusively on a budget. 

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Interview Burt Ward The Original Robin the Wonder from TV's Batman

Burt Ward has returned to the role that made him famous as Robin to Adam West's Batman. The duo returned to the big screen this year with the animated feature "Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader" which was shown in theaters as a special event and showed to sell out crowds across the country. Now, "Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader" is available on Blu Ray and DVD to rent or buy or download. But, while being the Boy Wonder has been Burt's day job his passion is for pooches. Burt and his wife have made it their mission to rescue as many dogs as they can through their Gentle Giants Rescue program, online at GentleGiantsRescue.com. Not only is Burt rescuing dogs, his Gentle Giants Dog Food is making them healthier and helping them live longer. Here is my complete interview with the one and only true Robin the Boy Wonder, Mr. Burt Ward... 

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Caterpillar Announces More Layoffs

One of the state’s premier companies is announcing layoffs just a week before Christmas. Caterpillar in Peoria will be making an undisclosed number of layoffs across the company. In a statement the company says that displaced employees will try to move workers into open positions in the company. The layoffs seem to build on extensive cost cutting plans that started in 2015 with the elimination of 10,000 positions; the company added even more cuts in 2016 and now finishes the year increasing them again. The heavy equipment builder blames a slowing world economy on cuts. 
 

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Illinois Called Leader in Move to Renewable Energy

Strides are being made in the Midwest when it comes to renewable energy, but there's still lots of room for improvement. 

Illinois is being praised for last month's passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, with some calling it the most important climate bill in state history. 

Attorney Brad Klein with the Environmental Law and Policy Center hopes other Midwestern states will follow the lead. 

He says the legislation will lead to huge growth in solar and wind technology, combat climate change, create jobs and lower utility bills.

"This legislation has programs like community solar programs and low-income programs that are going to help people access the solar market and benefit from solar even if they can't put solar on their own rooftops," he points out.

The bill bails out two Exelon nuclear power plants in Illinois by setting up a zero emission credit program in exchange for $235 million a year for 10 years. It also requires the state's two big utilities to reduce demand.

Klein says the Midwest has been a little slow to completely embrace the renewable industry, but things are starting to pick up. 

"Over the last several years, there have been tremendous technology improvements and cost improvements for solar that are really putting us right on the cusp of a real boom of the solar market in the Midwest," he states.

While advocates of renewable energy have expressed concern over President-elect Donald Trump's choice of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Klein maintains the industry will survive politics.

"What it does do is it makes the role of the states even more important," he stresses. "So, while I think there are some reasons to be discouraged now about the direction of the federal policy in this area, I do think the development of more renewable energy and clean energy is inevitable. "
 

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Quincy Man Arrested on Guns and Weapons Charges

The Illinois State Police have announced the arrest of a Quincy man on Drugs and Weapons charges. According to the Illinois State Police, 28 year old Caleb G. Roux of Quincy has been arrested following the execution of a search warrant at his residence that turned up illegal drugs and weapons including Methamphetamine, Cannabis and a stolen handgun. Roux is now being held at the Adams County Jail awaiting disposition of his case. 

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State Treasurer Returns Purple Heart to Korean War Vets Family

Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs took the opportunity on Tuesday to reunite the daughter of a Korean War Veteran with her father's Purple Heart. Our Kim Howard filed this story. 

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Warning: 'Tis the Season of Giving, But Also Taking

At this time of year, most of us are getting our credit and debit cards out more often than normal. That means the chance that a cyber thief will try to steal your money or your identity increases as well. Shopping online can be a risk, but it's also easy to fall victim to scammers when using public WiFi. 

Terri Worman, associate state director of advocacy and outreach at AARP Illinois said because we're so busy at this time of year it's easy to let your guard down.

"Criminals will actually set up fake Wifis around coffee shops, motels and other places so that the name will look similar and you log onto it, and now they have access to the information that you're using," she explained. 

AARP said another common scam during the holidays is with gift cards. Thieves will take the numbers off cards on display in the stores, then wait for you to activate it after you purchase it. They then use the money that's on there for themselves. Worman said it's safer to buy those cards directly from a cashier.

Worman said thieves are very observant and you may never know they are watching.

"They are extremely good at what they do," she said. "They also know our habits, getting on our mobile devices. They know we do that all the time. People know we love deals."

And yes, she said it is safer to use credit cards, rather than debit.

"With a credit card by law, you're only liable for up to $50 of the fraudulent amount," she added. "With the debit card, the law doesn't apply to that so you could be liable for the entire amount."

AARP has a Fraud Watch Network online for tips on how to keep safe during the holidays. It's at aarp.org.

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Keep Your Christmas Tree Watered

Christmas trees are still being sold and a number of real ones are already in homes. Now you want to keep that tree in as good of condition as you can for as long as possible. Illinois Extension Service Horticulturist Ron Wolford says once it’s in your home keep it simple – plain water with no other additives in the tree stand.


Check the water level often and keep it above the bottom of the trunk to avoid a sap seal developing on the bottom that will make it harder for the tree to take up water.

If you still need to buy one give it a shake and see how many needles fall off and if you want the freshest tree go to a tree farm and cut your down. 

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Instant lottery grand prizes not so instant

If you thought there was a lack of grand prize winners in Illinois Lottery instant games in recent years, you may be on to something. A Chicago Tribune report shows the lottery collected hundreds of millions of dollars in instant ticket sales from 2011 to 2015, but 23 grand prizes were never awarded. During the four year period, Northstar Lottery Group was managing the lottery.

 

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Governor Rauner Works Through Clemency Backlog

The Governor is plowing through clemency requests that he inherited from past administrations. Bruce Rauner has now eliminated more than 2,000 requests but he’s less lenient than Pat Quinn was. Rauner’s review of 2,300 applications since 2015 have resulted in a pardon about 3 percent of the time and he’s granted three commutations. Previously Governor Pat Quinn acted on more than 4,000 cases and Quinn granted pardons more than 25 percent of the time. 

A pardon will can be sought after a person has finished serving a sentence and with a granted pardon the offender can go to court to have a conviction removed from a criminal record. A commutation will reduce or eliminate a current prison sentence. 

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Investors Urged Not to React to Trump's Tweets

There have been some dramatic swings in the stock market since the announcement on election night that Donald Trump had won. Now financial experts are warning against knee-jerk reactions to the President-elect's tweets. 

People who invest in a company or an industry should do serious research before buying or selling off in reaction to something on social media, said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager and senior vice president at Kingsview Asset Management. He said it's unusual for the financial world to be affected by one person's opinion.

"We don't see it as much in the financial industry, so this is kind of new for us," Nolte said. "But then again, we're all learning how to live with a 'tweet president,' who is not afraid about getting out on social media and giving the world his opinion."

Nolte said the 140 character outbursts of opinion on Twitter are just that - one person's abbreviated views - and not enough information to make a big financial decision.

He argued that people shouldn't jump to too many conclusions about how the economy will react to a new administration, adding that there will probably be some winners - likely banks and industrial companies - but there may be some losers, too. 

"Utilities, consumer staples, to a certain extent healthcare, and certainly the bond market," Nolte speculated. "Because the expectation is with the economy doing reasonably well at this point - we're pretty close to full employment and we're going to add a stimulus package to it - the fear is inflation is really going to start to pick up."

Trump's tweeting has also started a debate in the media about whether his comments qualify as news. Recent tweets included such topics as diplomatic relations with Cuba, Cabinet picks, illegal voting, flag burning and more. 

Trump has said he doesn't plan to stop using social media, claiming if the news media covered him fairly, he wouldn't have so many reasons to tweet. 

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Cold and Flu Season: Double Check, Don't Double Up

Cold and flu season is officially here, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans catch about 1 billion colds every year.

Seven in 10 use over-the-counter medications to treat the symptoms. Many of these meds - from cough syrup and throat lozenges to nasal sprays - contain the common drug ingredient acetaminophen. It's safe and effective when used as directed, said pharmacist Dr. Leiana Oswald, but there is a limit to how much you can take in one day.

"When the labels are not followed, when the warnings or precautions are not followed, there can be a risk," she said. "A lot of patients don't realize that different products contain the same ingredients, and there's an opportunity to accidentally overdose."

Acetaminophen is found in more than 600 different over-the-counter and prescription medicines, and the CDC has said acetaminophen overdoses send an estimated 26,000 people to the emergency room every year. The overdose can be mild, from an upset stomach and feeling lethargic to very severe cases of liver failure.

The Food and Drug Administration has set a maximum daily dose of 4,000 milligrams in a 24-hour period, but Oswald said it isn't the same for everyone. 

"We know that for the regular, healthy adult, the FDA has approved up to 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen," she said, "but depending on different disease states, depending on age - or for example, if someone may be pregnant - that amount of 4,000 milligrams could go down."

When giving these medications to children, said Oswald, an assistant professor of pharmacy at Roseman University of Health Sciences, it's very important to get the right dosage. She recommends following the guidelines at KnowYourDose.org.

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Celebration for New Macomb Park District Executive Director, Rachel Lenz

There will be a celebration tonight for the Macomb Park District's new Executive Director, Rachel Lenz. She has worked in a variety of roles with the Park District for over ten years now.

 

The celebration will go from 4:30-9 PM tonight at The Old Bailey on 100 S. Campbell Street in Macomb. Listen to my conversation with Regional Media's own Amy Dirker from yesterday, as Amy highlights many of Rachel's accomplishments with the Park District. 

 

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Industry Man Arrested on Charges of Child Sexual Abuse

The McDonough County Sheriff's Office has announced the arrest of 48 year old Christopher K. Kitch of rural Industry. According to the release from the Sheriff's Officce, Kitch was arrested in relation to a November 8th incident where two children, ages 12 and 7, accused Kitch of touching them inappropriately. The Sheriff's Office began investigating the incident and issued a warrant for Kitch's arrest on December 6th. Kitch is now being held at the McDonough County Jail on $250,000 bond. 

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Governor Rauner Signs Future Energy Jobs Bill

Governor Bruce Rauner traveled to Port Byron, Illinois, on Wednesday where he signed the Future Energy Jobs Bill. In a visit to Riverdale High School in Port Byron, the Governor discussed the bill that will allow a pair of struggling nuclear plants to to remain open saving the jobs of several thousand people in the Illinois Quad Cities and in Clinton, home to the plants that would have otherwise been set to close. The bill also will raise electric rate across the state but contains a cap on how high rates are allowed to go. Our Kim Howard was with the Governor in Port Byron and filed this report. 

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One Person Cited in Accident on McDonough County Road Accident that Injured Two

One man has been cited in an accident that left two workers seriously injured. 31 year old Antonio Huarte of Galesburg has been cited for improperly parking on the side of the road. According to the McDonough County Sheriff's office Huarte's truck was parked on the side of McDonough County Road 2100 just after 5 Pm. 75 year old William Day of Abingdon was traveling Northbound when he was blinded by the headlamps of the illegally parked vehicle and when he swerved to avoid colliding with the truck his vehicle went into a ditch where it struck 22 year old Landon J. McIntosh of Aledo and 20 year old Arthur W. Drowns of Galesburg who were working near the ditch. Each of the victims was flown from the scene to OSF Peoria Hospital with serious injuries. There is no word on their condition at this time. 

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McDonough County Deer Harvest Steady from Last Year, Down Statewide

The Deer harvest in McDonough County is up slightly from 836 in 2015 to 848 in 2016. Statewide the Deer harvest was down from 2015 to 2016. Last year hunters in Illinois harvested 86,847 Deer, several thousand more than the 79,429 Deer harvested in 2016. Deer hunting opportunities remain available in Illinois this late fall/early winter:


• The Illinois Muzzleloader-only Season is this weekend, Dec. 9-11. 
• The Late-Winter Antlerless-Only Season and CWD Deer Season first segments (in designated counties only) will be Dec. 29, 2016 through Jan. 1, 2017. 
• The second segments of the Late-Winter Antlerless-Only and CWD Deer Seasons (in designated counties only) will be Jan. 13-15, 2017. 
• Archery Deer Season continues through Jan. 15, 2017. 

Details on the Late-Winter and CWD seasons are available on the IDNR website at: 
http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Documents/Late-WinterSHAHuntingPermitInformation.pdf

 

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Socks for Seniors at Grand Prairie

Grand Prairie Assisted Living in Macomb will be starting its Socks for Seniors drive. The event, which runs from tomorrow (December 8) until December 20, has been organized in order to provide pairs of socks for seniors in need in the Macomb area during these cold winter months.

 

Many local senior citizens in the area don't have family members around to provide them extra pairs of socks, so Grand Prairie is asking for people to drop off spare pairs of socks at their facility. Grand Prairie is located at 1307 Meadowlark Lane in Macomb. 

 

For more details listen to my conversation below with Kim Reeves from Grand Prairie. 

 

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Another Day Passes with No Budget Deal in Illinois

Republicans and Democrats met behind closed doors again on Tuesday and once again came away with neither side seeming willing to move toward a budget compromise. With both sides accusing the other of being intransigent, our Kim Howard reports on the continuing divide in Springfield. 

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Hand Hygiene in the Spotlight this Week

Colds and flu are common this time of year, but experts say those illnesses and other infections can be prevented with just a little soap and water. It is National Handwashing Awareness Week, and medical professionals are reminding people about the importance of good hand hygiene. 

Dr. Jenny Butler is a family physician and the president of the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians who recommends washing hands both when they're dirty and before eating. And she noted it really doesn't take much time to do it right. 

"Wet your hands first, cover every area with the soap, and if you sing yourself the 'Happy Birthday' song, that's going to be about the right amount of time to get everything off," she explained. "Make sure you clean around the fingernails, rinse properly and then, dry adequately."

When hand washing isn't feasible, Butler said an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative. And besides regular hand washing, she said it's also important to avoid touching the T-zone, your eyes nose and mouth, all of which are entry points for germs. 

Butler said washing hands frequently while preparing food is advised, because it prevents food-borne illness and spreading germs to others. 

"Not only is it protecting you, but the people you're cooking for, because unfortunately, food sometimes can be that factor that transmits that organism that gets other people sick."

And while germs can easily be spread between people, Butler said that shouldn't limit interaction. She said you should still give hugs and still shake hands, just wash your hands afterward. 

"Unfortunately, in health care, sometimes we see people who become so afraid of germs that they miss out on that interaction with other people that makes us who we are," she said. "And I would just hate for somebody to get so nervous about germs that they miss out on that."

According to the CDC, hand washing also can reduce the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood of antibiotic resistance.

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Backin' The Blue and Gold Macomb FFA Alumni Association Fundraiser

The Macomb FFA Alumni Association will be holding a Dinner, Scholorship and Benefit Auction Thursday December 8. The event is titled Backin' the Blue and Gold. The event will be held at Lowderman Auction Facility 2.5 miles west of Macomb on 136.

 

The event begins at 5:30 PM with a dinner and silent auction, going up until 7 PM. From there the live auction will start up. Tickets are $5 at the door. Listen to my conversation with Monte Lowderman and Monica Torrance below for more information on the cause this event is going towards and some of the prizes you can bid on at the auction.

 

 

*While the times were not consistant in the interview, the confirmed time for the start is 5:30 PM Thursday, not 5. 

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Beyonce Leads with 9 Grammy Nomations for Lemonade

Beyonce's Lemonade has turned into Grammy gold. Queen Bey leads the nominations for the 59th annual Grammy Awards with a total of nine nods, including Album of the Year for Lemonade, plus Record and Song of the Year for her single "Formation."  Close behind her are Drake, Rihanna and Kanye West, who each have eight, and Chance the Rapper, who scored seven.

Competing for Album of the Year against Lemonade are Adele's 25, Drake's ViewsJustin Bieber's Purpose and Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to Earth.  Best New Artist nominees are country stars Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris, plus The Chainsmokers, Chance the Rapper and Anderson .Paak.

Here are the nominees in the top four Grammy categories. 

Album Of The Year:
25 — Adele
Lemonade — Beyoncé
Purpose — Justin Bieber
Views — Drake 
A Sailor’s Guide To Earth — Sturgill Simpson
 
Record Of The Year:
“Hello” — Adele
“Formation” — Beyoncé 
“7 Years” — Lukas Graham
“Work” — Rihanna Featuring Drake
“Stressed Out” — Twenty One Pilots
 
Song Of The Year:
“Formation” — Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles & Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“Hello” — Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)
“I Took A Pill In Ibiza” — Mike Posner, songwriter (Mike Posner)
“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Justin Bieber)
“7 Years” — Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard & Morten Ristorp, songwriters (Lukas Graham)
 
Best New Artist:
Kelsea Ballerini 
The Chainsmokers 
Chance The Rapper 
Maren Morris 
Anderson .Paak

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Governor Rauner Chides Democrats Over Lack of Budget Deal, Lawsuit for Pay

Governor Bruce Rauner held a press conference on Tuesday decrying the lack of movement toward a budget deal. In a wide ranging talk with reporters the Governor called out Democratic leadership for being unwilling to compromise. The Governor then went on to chide 6 Democratic lawmakers who filed suite against the state of Illinois intended to get the state to expedite pay for state lawmakers. The Governor made his remarks after appearing at the annual meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau. Reporter Randy Miller with the Hometown Illinois Radio Network filed this report on the Governor's comments. 

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Heavy Fog Expected Across McDonough County Tuesday Morning

There is a special weather statement issued for McDonough County. The Weather Channel reports heavy fog across McDonough County until 9 Am Tuesday morning. The fog could cause reduced visibilty for drivers and you are asked to drive with extra caution this morning. The cold front over McDonough County on Tuesday morning is moving west to east and should move the fog out of the area after 9 Am. 

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Comptroller Munger 'Disgusted' By Lawsuit Demanding Lawmakers Get Expedited Paychecks

Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Munger is calling a lawsuit filed by Democratic lawmakers "Cowardly." The six Democratic lawmakers filed a lawsuit in Cook County agains the state of Illinois over the weekend with the intent of getting the state to pay the lawmakers their state salary. Comptroller Munger responded by stating she was "Disgusted by the cowardly Democratic lawsuit seeking expedited pay for lawmakers." You can read Comptroller Munger's full statement below. No word from the six Democratic lawmakers yet in response. 

 

"Late this morning, on the last day of my administration, six Democrat lawmakers filed suit to ensure they are paid before the hospitals, schools, small businesses, human service organizations and others that are waiting in line for payment from the state.
 
"Their action comes eight months after I implemented a policy requiring that all state elected leaders - myself included - be treated just like everyone else. How cowardly and self-serving that while they refused to challenge my action while I was in office, they are now going to Court when there will be a new Administration led by one of their own.
 
"Today, our state has more than 126,000 unpaid bills totaling more than $10.3 billion and our office is paying invoices dating back to June 17. That means vendors throughout the state are waiting six months or more for payment they have been promised. We ended the month of October with just $10 million in cash available to pay down $8 billion in bills. Yet, these lawmakers are going to the Court to ask that they receive preferential treatment and get paid first. Literally every dollar counts in our ability to fund critical services -- and there are no words for my disgust and disappointment with this lawsuit.
 
"Illinois has now gone 17 months without a budget in place. Lawmakers were in Springfield for three days this week yet once again failed to get the job done. If those lawmakers spent as much time and energy on passing a comprehensive balanced budget as they have on filing lawsuits and getting their own paychecks, Illinois would be in a better place.
 
"But because of their failure, Illinois will enter the New Year without a mechanism to fund higher education, student MAP grants, domestic violence shelters, local governments, small businesses, and other human service organizations that assist our most vulnerable residents.
 
"It is now up to a new Comptroller and a new Administration to decide how to approach this lawsuit. It is my sincere hope that although Comptroller-elect Susana Mendoza has spent a decade in the General Assembly, she will live up to her campaign promise and do the right thing and vigorously defend the right of the Comptroller to fund critical services for the state, and not give preferential treatment to politicians.
 
"And, if the lawmakers succeed in their legal action, it is incumbent on voters throughout the state to call their elected leaders and ask them to explain why they are entitled to jump the line in front of every other state vendor and the many organizations serving our elderly, children, developmentally disabled and most vulnerable residents.
 
"As a reminder, the problems we face today are decades are in the making. It does not help to promise funding to any group when there is no money to write the checks. It is imperative that we pass a balanced budget - and instead of filing lawsuits, I encourage lawmakers to return to Springfield and do their job so that the state can meet its obligations and everyone is paid on time."

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Retiring State Senator Sullivan Honored by the Illinois Farm Bureau

Illinois State Senator John Sullivan, who has represented the 47th state senate district since 2002, was awarded the IFB Charles B. Shuman Distinguished Service Award for his continuous advocacy for agriculture and efforts to draft and pass agricultural legislation at the Illinois State Capitol.    

While serving as the Chairman of the Agriculture and Conservation Committee, Sen. Sullivan served as a key negotiator of successful appropriation of state monies for agricultural programs. He also used his influence to ensure successful passage of the state sales tax exemption to benefit Illinois farmers.

Outside of the Senate, Sen. Sullivan also took active roles working with Illinois Farm Bureau’s Adopt-A-Legislator program and the IAA Foundation, serving as the auctioneer during the Foundation’s live auction fundraiser at the IFB Annual Meeting.

Prior to serving in the Illinois Senate, Sen. Sullivan earned his real estate license and served as a loan officer for Production Credit Association and as a farm manager and loan officer for the Rushville State Bank. He is still active in his family’s auction business, Sullivan Auctioneers, LLC, and manages his own farm in Schuyler County.

Sen. Sullivan has been recognized often for his dedication to agriculture and his work as an Illinois Senator, receiving the Friend of Agriculture award from IFB ACTIVATOR; the 2007 Paul Simon Legislative Award from the Illinois Coalition for Community Service; the 2006 Acorn Award from the Nature Conservancy; and has received multiple Friend of Agriculture and Legislator of the Year awards from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association, and the Illinois Soybean Association.

Sen. Sullivan and his wife, Joan, have four children, Matthew, Emily, Luke and Mark.

The IFB’s Distinguished Service Award honors the memory and service of Charles Shuman, a revered Moultrie County farm leader who served as president of both IFB and of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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Still No Movement Toward Illinois Budget Deal

After spending two days in meetings intended to move forward on a budget deal, Republicans and Democrats have once again exited without any movement toward a budget agreement. Kim Howard has this report. 

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Following the Money in Illinois

Exactly how much money did candidates spend during the November general election? Recent data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics shows candidates for state House and Senate seats in Illinois alone raised more than $95 million this election cycle. 

Illinois ranks second in the nation for money raised to support state legislative races. Sarah Brune, executive director for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said her group plans to discuss Illinois campaign spending and possible limits from a local and national perspective at a forum next month, because, she said, the spending has grown out of control.

"It's really mind blowing, I think, for somebody who is working hard just to make ends meet," Brune said. "I think it's hard for people to reconcile the fact that almost $100 million was raised on politics, when there are issues that are affecting people's daily lives that didn't get talked about in this election,"

There are 12.1 million people in Illinois, and there were 61 contested races. The only state to top fundraising in Illinois was California, with $118.9 million dollars raised. But the population of that state is three times larger than Illinois', and it had a greater number of contested races in the 2016 general election.

Brune said there was an increase in state super PAC donations this election cycle. She said that's part of why her group is pushing for more regulation and transparency.

"We've also advocated for any politically active group that's giving large donations, they need to register as a political committee and disclose their donors," Brune said. "And we're going to be pursuing that cause to really try to make people know who's giving money to try to affect elections for public office in their area."

Illinois is the only state that has a legal provision allowing limits to be lifted by candidate self-funding or spending from super PACs. Brune said this year, more than a third of contested state House and Senate races in the state had contribution limits removed due to candidate self-funding or super PAC spending.

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Maple Ave. Christian Church Christmas Eve Dinner

This Mornng Donny and Erin from Maple Avenue Christian Church came in to discuss their upcoming Christmas Eve Dinner.  This is the 11th annual dinner the church is organizing for those in need of a holiday meal. Dine in will be from 5-6 PM at the church on 1300 Maple Ave. in Macomb. For those that can't make it there is a delivery/carryout option from 3:30-5 that day. 

 

In order to attend the meal you should make a reservation by calling 837-9318. They will not take reservations after the 19th. For more details listen to the conversation from this morning below.

 

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Rushville Woman Guilty of Defrauding Beardstown Farmer

A Rushville resident is facing sentencing in March of 2017 after being convicting of major fraud. According to a release from the Department of Justice, 30 year old Amy Ward has been found guilty of defrauding her employer, a farmer from Beardstown, for more than $486,000. Documents indicate that Ms. Ward acted as Bookkeeper for Marty Turner Farms from 2010 until 2015 when she was confronted by her employer over having written company checks to herself despite not being authorized to do so on the Farm's checking account. In all Ward wrote more than 106 checks to herself from the company account for a total of $486,510.00 over a 4 year period. Ward faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when her sentencing is announced in March. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Incarnate

Incarnate stars Aaron Eckhart as Dr. Ember, a physician with a unique specialty. Dr. Ember is an 'Incarnate,' a person imbued with the ability to enter other people's subconcious minds. Dr. Ember uses this ability to enter the minds of people possessed by demons and evict the demon without the use of religious exorcism techniques. The latest victim in need of his help is a young boy who happens to be possessed by the same demon that murdered Dr. Ember's wife and child. Here is my review of Incarnate. 

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Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Brings Lowest Fatality Rate In Six Years

The Thanksgiving travel season for 2016 was among the safest that the state has seen in some time. According to a release from the Illinois State Police traffic fatalaties were at the lowest rate in six years statewide for the holiday driving season. Statewide there were three traffic fatalaties over the holiday weekend compared to 15 traffic fatalaties in 2015 and 13 traffic fatalaties in 2014. “I’m proud of the efforts put forth by ISP officers and the safe driving habits displayed by motorists during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period,” stated ISP Director Leo P. Schmitz.  “Responsible motorists and dedicated officers are the key to bringing next year’s total to zero,” he continued.    

 

During the Thanksgiving holiday travel period officers patrolled Illinois roadways, conducted road side safety checks, and participated in other traffic enforcement details to identify the “Fatal Four” moving violations: speeding, driving under the influence (DUI), not wearing seatbelts, and distracted driving.   Special emphasis was placed on DUI enforcement, and holiday DUI patrols were designated statewide.  The efforts of ISP officers during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period resulted in:


  • · 6,473 Total Citations

    · 4,511 Total Warnings

    · 3,732 Speeding Citations

    · 569 Seatbelt Citations

    · 120 DUI Arrests

    · 1,165 Motorist Assisted

    · 381 Crashes Handled

    · 617 Commercial Motor Vehicles Inspected

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More Reaction to the End of Veto Session in Springfield

After spending three days working on the legislation the Illinois House Thursday approved a bill that will raise electricity rates for Illinois consumers and businesses and bail out two struggling downstate nuclear power plants.  But the action left many legislators wondering why lawmakers are now leaving town at the end of the veto session without a budget.

 

State Representative Randy Frese (R-Paloma) was one of those who questioned the lack of effort to get a budget bill passed for the first time in over a year and a balanced budget for the first time in over a decade. 

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Grand Prairie Launching Memory Care Unit

Grand Prairie Assisted Living announced on Friday that a new Memory Care Unit is in the planning stages. In a release from Grand Prairie, Jack Laverdiere, one of the owners of Grand Prairie, stated that the Dementia Unit will provide much needed services for the community. “We know there is a great need for Dementia care in the Macomb region. Grand Prairie is committed to meeting the senior community’s needs and providing the best care in all that we do.” The new Memory Unit will be located at 1307 Meadowlark Lane in Macomb and will accomodate 20 apartments for seniors with Dementia. Construction on the unit could begin in March of 2017 with units to be available by July of 2017.

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Governor Rauner Releases Statement on Future Energy Jobs Bill

Governor Bruce Rauner today released the following statement on SB 2814, the Future Energy Jobs Bill:

 

“For months our administration has been very clear that any energy legislation should follow the guiding principles of protecting jobs, ratepayers and taxpayers. After dozens of hours of good faith negotiations, we have reached an agreement that aligns with those principles. This legislation will save thousands of jobs. It protects ratepayers, through guaranteed caps, from large rate increases in years to come. It also ensures taxpayers are not on the hook to keep the power plants open and online. We thank the rank-and-file legislators and stakeholders for their perseverance and commitment to seeing this through. This process shows that when all parties are willing to negotiate in good faith, we can find agreement and move our state forward.”

 

Background

SB 2814 contains a guaranteed cap that energy prices cannot increase more than 25 cents on the average residential home, and cannot increase more than 1.3 percent on commercial and industrial users over the next ten years. Rates are projected to decrease for the first several years due to the utilities being able to amortize energy efficiency.  It also guarantees the plants remain open for ten years. Exempting the bill from prevailing wage reduced the cost of the bill, as well as, eliminating billions of dollars in special interest giveaways. 

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Two Workers Seriously Injured in Thursday Crash

The Illinois State Police are investigating a crash that left a pair of workers seriously injured. According to the Illinois State Police a vehicle driven by 75 year old William Day of Abingdon was traveling northbound on County Road 2100 near Macomb when his vision was impaired by an illegally parked pickup truck sitting southbound to the side of the northbound lane. Mr. Day took evasive action to attempt to avoid hitting the pickup but then ended up striking the truck before ending up in a nearby ditch where two workers with the truck were standing. The two workers were seriously injured in the crash and were airlifted from the scene to a hospital in Peoria where their condition has yet to be announced. More on this story as it becomes available. 

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Representative Norine Hammond Releases Statement on Exelon Bailout Bill

In reaction to today’s vote in the Illinois House to provide a taxpayer-funded bailout for Exelon Generation, Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), issued the following statement.

 

“I would have liked to have had an opportunity to reach out to my constituents to see how this impacts both residential and commercial customers in my district.  While many have been working on this for months, the final product moved very quickly and I felt this merited more careful consideration,” said Hammond.

 

“Taxpayers cannot afford to start bailing out multi-billion-dollar energy companies now and I cannot support doing so.  Downstate Illinois taxpayers should not have to pay the bill to bail out energy companies at a time when we don’t even have a State Budget in place.  It’s unconscionable to put this cost on the backs of downstate taxpayers,” Hammond continued. 

 

Senate Bill 2184 passed the Illinois House by a vote of 63-38.

 

Hammond encouraged residents of the 93rd district to contact her with questions or concerns on this or any other state issue. Hammond’s Macomb district office can be contacted at (309) 836-2707 and she can be reached via e-mail at rephammond@macomb.com. Constituents can also visit her legislative website at www.norinehammond.org to sign up for her electronic newsletter.

 

Hammond represents all or part of Brown, Cass, and Fulton, Knox, Mason, McDonough, Schuyler and Warren counties.

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9th Annual St. Paul Cookie Walk

This morning Cheryl McGowan from St. Pauls Church came by to discuss tomorrow's 9th Annual St. Paul Cookie Walk. The event is sponsored by the St. Paul Women's Guild. It goes from 8 AM-2 PM as part of the Dickens on the Square Festivities. It will take place at Taylor Hall. Listen to my conversation with Cheryl below for more information on the event. 

 

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Genesis Garden to Hold Fundraiser December 8th in Macomb

Non-profit organization Genesis Garden will be hosting a fundraiser on December 8th. Titled "Opening Our Doors: Stories of Hunger and Homelessness," the fundraising event is aimed at sharing the stories of people in McDonough County who've been helped through the services provided by Genesis Garden. Tickets for the event are $25 or you can buy a table of 8 for $175.00. The American Legion at 221 East Washington Street is playing host for the event at which doors will open at 6 Pm with dinner at 7 Pm and live music from The Brooks Brother Band from Monmouth throughout the night. Call Genesis Garden at 309-326-3075 for more information. 

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Too Many Kids, Not Enough Foster Parents

Country singer Jimmy Wayne has a message he's sharing across the country - thousands of children need help, and he was one of them. 

Years after he was taken in, Wayne has written songs and a book on the topic, and also appears at public events around the country in an effort to recruit more foster parents. 

Wayne says he lived a rough life, saw three murders by the time he was 8 years old, and was homeless as a teenager. Then, an older couple took him in as a foster child and turned his life around. 

Wayne says he was lucky, since many children in his situation don't get that opportunity.

"Everybody wants the pretty Christmas tree, you know - they don't want the one that was in Charlie Brown, the ugly Christmas tree and the one that doesn't look perfect," he says. "Being 16, and had long hair and living outside and wearing the same clothes every day, I didn't fit the criteria of a foster kid, or a kid that somebody that was willing to give a chance or trust."

Wayne has written about his life before and after foster care in a book called "Walk to Beautiful." 

He says there are so many people who are qualified to be foster parents but don't know it, and there are thousands of children waiting for homes. 

He adds almost everyone has something to offer children in need, and it isn't all about money. 

"We're like, 'Well I don't have a resource,'" he states. "Well, yes you do. If you cut hair, you can go down to the children's home and cut their hair for free, because they don't have the money to pay for a haircut. 

"'Well, I don't want to take time from my golf game.' Well, take one of those kids with you. Put him in a cart and let him sit there and watch. He'll eventually talk."

In 2010, Wayne walked halfway across the country to raise awareness for children in foster care, and received the Points of Lights Award from former president George H. W. Bush. But he says no one should get an award for helping children - it's what we're all supposed to do.

"When it comes down to it, all that junk we worked so hard - spent our hard earned money on and spent all our time on, you know at the end, it's all junk anyway," he states. "What really matters most is how we invest our time and resources in helping other people, especially the kids."
 

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