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Macomb Local News Archives for 2017-02

Genesis Garden Holding Las Vegas Getaway Raffle Fundraiser

Genesis Garden is giving you and a guest the chance to go to Las Vegas for a week. Acccording to a release from Genesis Garden, a one week stay for 2 at Las Vegas's Bluegreen Club 36's plus a $500 Southwest Airlines Gift Card is the grand prize in a raffle intended to raise funds for the Genesis Garden Emergency Shelter in Macomb. Second prize is a one week stay for two at Bluegreen Club 36 minus the airline gift card and third prize is a reproduction Walter Payton football jersey and $100 cash. $20 is the cost to enter the raffle and all proceeds to to the Genesis Garden Emergency Shelter. To enter go to https://go.rallyup.com/genesis-garden.

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Polar Plunge at Spring Lake Sunday to Benefit Special Olympics

Members of local law enforcement as well as our business community will be out in force to raise money for Special Olympics with the Polar Plunge. According to a release from Plunge Illinois, law enforcement across the state of Illinois will be taking part in the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Polar Plunge on Sunday morning. In Macomb that Polar Plunge will culminate with a chilly dip in Spring Lake. But, you don't have to be a member of law enforcement to participate in the Plunge. Simpy raise $100 and your team can go for a swim as well and help benefit Special Olympics athletes from across McDonough, Henderson, Knox, Fulton and Rock Island County. If you would like to pitch and take a plunge go to PlungeIllinois.com to register and start raising money now. 

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ISP Announces Roadside Safety Check Results for McDonough County

Illinois State Police District 14 have announced the results of a recent roadside safety check in Macomb. According to District 14 Captain Jon Dively a total of 13 citations and 8 written warnings were given out during the check which began on the night of February 23rd and continued into the morning of February 24th in the area of US 67 and Adams Street in Macomb. One person was cited for Driving Under the Influence during the Roadside Safety Check while 9 people were cited for alcohol or drug related offenses. 

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31st Annual WIU Music Festival Next Week

The 31st Annual Western Illinois University Music Festival will be held next Monday, March 6th and Tuesday March 7th at the College of Fine Arts and Communications Recital Hall. Performances begin on Monday night and continue with a pair of shows on Tuesday at 2 Pm and 7:30 Pm for the final show. The festival will feature not only faculty composers led by Professor James Romig, Professor Paul Paccione, and Professor James Caldwell but also student composers and special guests. The 31st Annual WIU Music Festival is free and open to anyone who would like to attend. 

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Pella Corporation Mourns Passing of Chair Emirita Joan Kuyper Farver

The Pella Corporation is mourning the passing of Joan Kuyper Farver, daughter of the Corporation's founder and the Chair Emirita of the company. Known as the First Lady of the Pella Corporation, Joan was the company's guiding force for a time in 1980, aiding the company after the passing of her brother Stu and helping the company make the difficult transition to a professional management team, though members of the family remained in top positions. From there Joan became the Chair Emerita and an esteemed member of the team that helped carry on her family business. Pella Corporation's current CEO offered these words about Joan “Joan was an inspiration to all who knew her and she was well-known as Pella Corporation’s ‘First Lady.’ She cared deeply about her family, this Company, and the communities in which we employ people,” said Yaggi. “Joan sincerely cared about people and often took the time to write personal notes or to visit with team members because she took an active interest in others. She was a quiet leader whose philanthropic contributions have made a lasting impact on the community of Pella, Iowa, and many other communities and causes that will leave a lasting legacy for future generations,” added Tim. A public memorial service is set for April 22nd with details to be announced. 

 

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Two Liberty Residents Arrested on Meth and Child Endangerment Charges

Two Liberty, Illinois residents are under arrest on multiple meth related charges including childe endangerment. 32 year old Joshua Knuffman and 32 year old Lindsey N. Nebe were arrested on Monday and charged with Aggravated Unlawful Meth Production, Unlawful Possession of Meth, Methamphetimine Waste, Unlawful Possession of Meth Precursors, and Methamphetimine Related Child Endangerment. A lawful search of the residence at 1197 E. 2100th Street in Liberty turned up evidence of what police call a 'Shake and Bake' Meth lab. The Department of Child and Family Services was called to the scene to retrieve a child that was living in the home at the time of the bust. Knuffman and Nebe are each being held in the Adams County Jail awaiting further disposition of their case. 

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WIU Honors John Nelson with Town & Gown Award

Western Illinois University over the weekend honored John Nelson, owner of Nelson's Clothing, during halftime of the Women's basketball game on Saturday won by the WIU ladies. Mr. Nelson, a third generation Macomb business owner, was announced as the 2016 winner of the Town & Gown Award from the WIU Alumni Association. Mr. Nelson was this years selection for his longtime dedication to WIU events such as the annual Purple & Gold event, his support for WIU Athletics, and his role in the annual Paint the Town homecoming event. Mr. Nelson will be officially given the award during the Purple & Gold Day celebration on April 24th. 

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Immigrants: Our Fear is Real

Advocates and politicians are speaking out almost daily about President Trump's plans to build a wall and deport millions of people from the United States, but those who are here illegally aren't making their voice heard as much - mostly because they say they're afraid.

Juana Reyes has been in the U.S. since she was two years old and said this is the only home she knows. She is undocumented and said that, since Donald Trump became president, she only leaves her home when she has to because she's worried she'll be taken into custody. 

Reyes is a single mom with four children and she said she doesn't know who would take care of them if she was detained. She said she may qualify for residency through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but she's too afraid to apply.

"What if I don't get approved? Then they'll have all my information on file, and it scares me," Reyes said. "A few people have told me I qualify. I'm always scared to apply, then get denied, then them having all my information. "

Trump recently directed the Department of Homeland Security to ramp up enforcement of immigration laws, prioritizing actions against those who present a danger to public safety, but not limiting deportation to just that group.

Rayo Torres is also undocumented - she came to this country nearly 30 years ago as a child. She said she understands that the president wants to remove criminals from the U.S., but she's worried he's going to go much further than that. 

"I agree with that 100 percent," Torres said. "But at the same time, they're not only going for criminals. If ICE gets in that door and they're looking for this particular person and that person is not there, they're going to take everybody else around. "

Both women said people in their community are terrified of raids on their homes, and don't want to answer the door when someone knocks. Many also are seeking legal advice to draft power-of-attorney documents to set up help for their children if they are deported.

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Macomb Rotary Donates New Beds to Genesis Garden Emergency Center

The Macomb Centennial Morning Rotary Club has made a donation to Genesis Garden to help people in need at the emergency center. On Thursday Rotary announced the donation of 6 twin size beds to the Genesis Garden Emergency Shelter. The beds were obtained via funds raised by a club grant from 6460 with all of the funds raised by rotary members. Club President and Regional Media Macomb General Manager Jason Chute said "We have an energetic group of leaders who are committed to Rotary Internationational's motto: Service Above Self. These beds will allow displaced families to have a safe place to sleep while getting back on their feet." You can contact Macomb Centennial Morning Rotary at macombrotary.com. 

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McDonough County Girls Softball League Signups and Important Dates

 

 

 

Signup sessions for the 2017 McDonough County Girls Softball League season are taking place Saturday February 25 at Hy-Vee from 9 AM - 12 PM, and Wednesday March 1 at Hy-Vee from 5-7 PM. You can also get your daughter signed up online now at mcgsl.com.  For all of the information you need on the league and how it works, listen to my conversation with League President Laura Whitney and Vice President Brookley Whitford. 

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Illinois State Fair Grandstand Lineup Mixes Country, R & B and Rock

Country, R & B, Rock n'Roll are on the lineup for the Illinois State Fair 2017. Organizers of the Illinois State Fair announced the lineup on Wednesday featuring headliner Chase Bryant, a rising star in the world of country music. Bryant is backed by country legends Alabama and Neal McCoy among others. Meanwhile, R & B star Jason Derullo will make his Illinois State Fair debut this year. The 27 year old Derulo has sold more than 30 million singles since he started his solo career in 2009. Veteran rocker John Mellencamp rounds out the Illinois State Fair lineup with a closing night performance that is guaranteed to bring the house down. The Illinois State Fair runs from August 10th to the 20th. Our Kim Howard has more on this year's full grandstand lineup. 

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Macomb Chamber Celebrates Local Business Leaders with Awards

It has been quite a year for Matt Bierman as he was recognized as Businessman of the Year at the Annual Macomb Chamber of Commerce Awards. Mr. Bierman is the Interim WIU Vice President of Administrative Services and Macomb Community Unit School District #185 President while also serving as WIU Budget Director at a time when the state of Illinois has no budget creating incredible uncertainty. Mr. Bierman navigated this incredible challenge and the Macomb Chamber rightly honored him for his incredible work. Other honoreers at this year's chamber of commerce awards included Jessica Butcher who was awarded the Chairman's Award for her work with the Chamber. Business of the Year was awarded to MidAMerica National Bank and Regional Media's very own Jason Chute was named Chamber Ambassador of the Year. 

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Regional Media Movie Critic Sean Patrick Predicts the Oscar Winners

It’s time for the Oscars and time for those of us supposed experts to weigh in with our picks. Let’s get this one thing straight, of course the Oscars are subjective and do not reflect, could not reflect, what everyone believes are the best movies or performances. If it was a fan vote Star Wars Rogue One or one of a myriad of Superhero adventures would likely win Best Picture.
Instead, a group of very knowledgeable people in the field of film have gathered to attempt to aggregate their opposing tastes into something that reflects what the industry believes is the best of the best. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a whole lot of fun to talk about and debate. This is my tiny contribution to that conversation.


Best Picture


My choice would be Arrival but that’s not gonna happen. I am of two minds on this one. On the one hand La La Land was near record setting in nominations. On the other hand, last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy is undoubtedly weighing on voters regardless of the call to simply choose the best of the best. Regardless of the controversy, there are great arguments in favor of either Moonlight or Hidden Figures but it would be naïve to assume that the controversy doesn’t increase each film’s chances this year. That said, I am still picking La La Land to win based on its popularity, artistry and the fact that it has the broadest appeal of all of the nominees.


Winner La La Land


Best Actor


Not much conversation here, Denzel wins for Fences.


Winner Denzel Washington for Fences


Best Actress


This race pretty much ended when Taraji P. Henson wasn’t nominated for Hidden Figures. Emma Stone will take home her first Oscar for her lovely performance in La La Land.


Winner Emma Stone La La Land


Best Supporting Actor


A month ago I would have said that Mahershala Ali was a shoe-in to take home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. But in the run up the ballots being cast Dev Patel has been getting an immense amount of attention. Putting aside the fact that Patel really is the lead actor in Lion, his performance is deeply emotional and personal and the film is a global smash. That’s not to say that Ali isn’t as good but his film has a far tougher subject matter and is much less seen than the wide appeal Lion.


Winner Dev Patel Lion 


Best Supporting Actress


Yet another no contest category, Viola Davis will win for Fences


Winner Viola Davis Fences


Best Director


Damian Chazelle La La Land


Best Animated Feature


The Red Turtle


Best Cinematography


La La Land


Best Costume Design


La La Land


Best Documentary Feature


I Am Not Your Negro


Best Documentary Short Subject


Extremis


Best Film Editing


La La Land


Best Foreign Language Film


Toni Erdmann


Best Makeup and Hair


Star Trek Beyond


Best Original Song


City of Stars from La La Land


Best Production Design


La La Land


Best Animated Short


Pear Cider and Cigarette


Best Live Action Short


Extremis Interviews


Best Sound Editing


Hacksaw Ridge

 

Best Sound Mixing

 

Hacksaw Ridge


Best Visual Effects


Rogue One A Star Wars Story


Best Adapted Screenplay


Moonlight


Best Original Screenplay


Manchester by the Sea

 

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February is National Children's Dental Health Month

February is National Children's Dental Health Month and parents are being reminded of the importance of avoiding tooth decay because it can have long-term consequences for kids. Pediatric dentist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Mira Albert, says one in three children in the U.S, age two to five is affected by tooth decay. She says while parents are taking charge of their children's health by choosing organic foods and being selective about the kinds of activities they participate in, often trips to the dentist are few and far between.

"Dental decay, especially in young children, can kind of go unnoticed and it can begin to cause a lot of pain and infection that can lead to lost school days and lost work days while you're having these things treated, and it can be quite painful and destructive," she explained. 

Albert says tooth decay is preventable. She says parents should take their children to the dentist by age one to help them feel at ease for when they do have to have dental work done. She says they should avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle because it can lead to rampant cavities, and should help them break the habit of using a pacifier by age three because it can lead to an overbite or speech defect. 

Albert says another tip is to limit between-meal snacking. When they do get hungry before lunch or dinner, she says to give them low-sugar, low-carb snacks such as apple slices or carrots.

"This constant exposure to high-carb, high-sugar foods and beverages bathes the teeth in these acidic components and lowers the PH in the mouth, and that makes the teeth very susceptible to tooth decay," she said. 

Albert says teething is a normal process every child goes through and recommends avoiding teething gels that have medications. Instead, she says to use a cold washcloth, or gently massage the gums with your fingertips.

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Serious Injury Crash in Warren County

One person was injured in a single vehicle accident in Warren County on Tuesday. According to a release from the Illinois State Police, 24 year old Michael Scott Goodell of Monmouth was Driving Under the Influence when he failed to stop at a stop sign in the area of 110th Street and 180th Avenue in Monmouth and ended up driving his vehicle into a ditch, up an embankment leaving the front end of the vehicle resting on railroad tracks. The vehicle was then struck by a train. Goodell was transported from the scene and taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Galesburg where he was treated for a fractured orbital bone. Goodell stands charged with Improper Lane Usage, Operating a Vehicle without Insurance, and Driving Under the Influence. 

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Bushnell Pool 12th Annual Chili Cook Off Takes Place Saturday February 25

 

 

 

The Bushnell Swimming Pool holds its 12th Annual Chili Cook Off and Auction Saturday February 25. The fundraiser goes toward fixing the cement siding on the city's pool, which is decaying. The event will take place at the Bushnell VFW, with doors opening at 5 PM. For more details on the event listen to my interview with Kevin Crawford and Monica Suter as they run through everything you need to know. 

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Macomb FFA Chapter Participates in National FFA Week

 

 

 

Macomb's FFA Chapter has a number of activities going on for National FFA week. I got the chance to speak with three students from the chapter about all of the events taking place, and the importance of their FFA chapter. Courtney Thorman, Emily Jones, and Zoey Edwards came on K100 to discuss all of this. Listen to their interview below and make sure to check out the Macomb FFA Facebook Page, as well as the Macomb FFA Alumni Page

 

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McDonough County VIBE Applications Open Through Sunday

 

 

 

McDonough County VIBE is taking applications through Sunday, February 26 for non for profit organizations in McDonough County to partner with. VIBE, which stands for Volunteers Interested in Benefitting Everyone, annually picks a new organization to work with. If you have an organization in mind, send an email over to mcdonoughcountyvibe@hotmail.com. You can also check out VIBE online

 

Listen below to my interview with Cathy Orban from VIBE, as we discuss the application process and some of the work VIBE has done over the past 6 years. 

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WIU to Host 45th Annual Tested Bull Sale

Western Illinois University has announced their 45th Annual Tested Bull Sale will take place on Friday, March 10th. According to a release from WIU the annual Tested Bull Sale will happen at the WIU Livestock Center located at 2265 Wigwam Road in Macomb with registration beginning at 5 Pm and the sale getting underway at 7 Pm. Professor John Carlson, the director of the sale, says that 50 bulls will be part of this years sale with several breeds represented including Angus, Simmental Fractionals and Charolais Fractional. All of the Bulls up for sale have recently completed a 112 day test period and a breeding soundness exam. If you would like more information about the 45th Annual Tested Bull Sale you can contact Professor Carlson at 309-298-1288. 

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Heart Health Month: High Cholesterol Doubles Heart Disease Risk

The state of Illinois is celebrating Heart Health Month, University of Illinois Extension health expert Lisa Peterson says that among the many things people need to consider regarding heart health is cholesterol and while you may be thinking that is a well known fact, you might not know just how much high cholesterol effects your heart and your likelihood of developing heart disease. Our Kim Howard filed this report. 

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Secretary of State Satellite Office on the WIU Campus Will Offer DMV Services

Secretary of State Jesse White is reminding WIU students, faculty, staff and members of the Macomb community that DMV services will be available on the WIU campus on Friday, February 24th. Services such as drivers license renewals, state ID renewals, license plate stickers, and disability placards will be available at this special satellite office of the Secretary of State located on the WIU campus at the University Union. Office hours will be from 9:30 Am to 3 Pm. 

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Thousands of Women in Science, Technology Sign Letter to Trump

A movement that started among friends concerned about how women were sometimes labeled and treated during the presidential campaign has turned into an effort to empower young girls, and steer them toward careers in science and technology. 

The group 500 Women Scientists began when four female scientists expressed their worries to each other. 

They reached out to friends and colleagues with the goal of getting 500 to sign a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to honor his pledge to be "a president for everyone." 

They've collected nearly 17,000 signatures. 

Mallory Conlon, who has a master's degree in astronomy at the University of Illinois, says she signed the letter because diversity is crucial to science.

"We see when science thrives, technology can advance and the world that we live in becomes a healthier, safer and more productive place," she states. "So, by getting those new voices, we can really advance science and not necessarily be stuck in a status quo."

The letter, published in Forbes magazine, contains several suggestions, including appointing accredited science advisers in government to promote evidence-based policy; protecting the environment, clean air and water; making science education a priority from pre-K to college; and putting policies in place that lead to equal pay for women. 

Nichole Barger, an associate professor of ecology at the University of Colorado, says there are many who are still concerned about Trump's election, but she's convinced that can be turned into something positive. 

"I think what we're seeing is more engagement of girls and women in science," she states. "And I think there was a feeling that it could be set back, but I think what we're seeing is a surge forward of interest." 

A co-founder of 500 Women Scientists, Jane Zelikova, says the group is urging communities to start mentoring programs for young women and girls.

"That's one way we can ensure that the younger generations that have been feeling like they're not welcome in science have mentors that look like them, that they can look up to and actually work with to further their own interest in science and eventually, make science a career," she states.

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National Weather Service Warning of Conditions for Grass Fires

The National Weather Service has issued a warning for McDonough County regarding grass fires. According to the National Weather Service conditions on Friday afternoon into the early evening present a high risk of grass fires. Warm temperatures, dried vegetation and low humidity have created conditions that could cause grass fires to spread quickly if started. The area most at risk due to conditions is a southern line from Sigourney, Iowa to Wapello, Iowa over to Monmouth, Illinois. Southwest winds of 10 to 20 miles per hour could allow any fire once started to spread quickly. Outdoor burning from now through 6 Pm this evening should be avoided. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Fist Fight

Charlie Day and Ice Cube star in Fist Fight as teachers on the last day of school in one of the worst schools imaginable. When Day's teacher rats on Ice Cube's teacher for taking punishing a student a little too far, Cube challenges Day to a fist fight at the end of the day, in front of the entire school. Jillian Bell, Kumail Nanjiani and Tracy Morgan co-star. Here is my review of Fist Fight. 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Great Wall

The Great Wall stars Matt Damon as a mercenary who has traveled to China to trade for a mythical black powder that will be the greatest weapon history. When he and his partner arrive in China they come the Great Wall and found out why the wall exists, it's to keep real life monsters at bay. At the wall Damon's William discovers a cause greater than the wealth he's been seeking in his round the world travels and joins up with the incredible Chinese army to battle the monsters and stop them from taking over the world. Here is my review of The Great Wall. 

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Bridge Repairs to Close IL 164 Near Monmouth

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced on Thursday that a portion of Illinois 164 near Monmouth will be closed most of the year for bridge repairs. In a release from the DOT it was announced that Illinois 164 just west of U.S 34 would be closed from March 7th through early October while a bridge is replaced. Drivers are being diverted in the area with signs leading drivers to Cameron Road and U.S 34. Drivers are urged to be cautious near the construction area. 

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Sessions Urged to Reject Mega-Mergers

Nearly 325 organizations have signed a letter pressing new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make sure the Justice Department does its job without political interference when it looks at a proposal to allow the mergers of Dow Chemical and DuPont, Monsanto and Bayer, and Syngenta and ChemChina.

Tiffany Finck-Haynes, a food-futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said her group and others want Congress to provide oversight, because President Trump met with the chief executives of Monsanto just before he was inaugurated.

"It raised a lot of ethics questions for lawyers who are very well versed in anti-trust law," she said, "because they said that this is very uncommon; that presidents hardly ever - and really in history, have not - interfered in this way."

The letter said that if all three deals were to close, the newly created companies would control nearly 70 percent of the world's pesticide market, more than 60 percent of commercial seed sales and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market. Trump has said the mergers would create jobs and boost the U.S. economy.

Groups signing the letter include Environment Illinois, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Illinois Right to Know GMO. 

Joe Maxwell, executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, said big mergers are bad for the environment, small farmers, rural communities and consumers. He cited climate change as one reason the nation needs more diversified and competitive development.

"There's little incentive for these companies to do further research and development on seeds," he said. "We all worry about having too few strains or genes in those seeds. If we become too dependent, we'll look just like Ireland did in the potato famine."

When these types of mergers happen, said Lisa Griffith, interim director of the National Family Farm Coalition, prices go up and some seed varieties disappear.

"A lot of these varieties that are available from the agri-chemical corporations are GM varieties, genetically modified," she said, "which may not be what the farmer wants."

More information is online at foe.org.

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The Miss Macomb and Miss Macomb Outstanding Teen Pageants Take Place Saturday Night

The 2017 Miss Macomb and Miss Macomb Outstanding Teen Paegents will take place Saturday at 6:00 PM at Macomb Jr. Sr. High School's Fellheimer Auditorium. These are the preliminaries to the Miss America and Miss America Outstanding Teens Paegents. 

 

Last week I spoke with Miss Macomb Board Members Kathy Waters and Kristin Conrad, as well as nine of the twelve competitors in this year's paegent. Here are the interviews, which have been airing throughout the week on K100.

 

Kathy & Kristin

 

Miss Macomb Interviews

 

Anna Diekemper

 

Courtney McCombs

 

Maggie Fuchs

 

Miss Macomb Teen Interviews

 

Brynna Hughes

 

Darian Redshaw

 

Emily Jones

 

Mallory Wesley

 

Mason Seaver

 

Morgan Perry

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Bushnell's Pink Warriors 4th Annual Cancer's A Drag

The 4th Annual Cancer's a Drag Variety Show will take place Saturday February 18 at the Bushnell VFW. Doors open at 6 PM with the event beginning at 7 PM.

 

There is a $7 cover charge and people are encouraged to bring cash to vote for their favorite performer. Every penny from the event goes towards the fight against cancer. You must be 18 or older to attend. 

 

I spoke with Devin Kozicki, Dewain Huelett, and Jonny Miller this morning to promote the event. There is even a demand to get me to participate. As I told our guests this morning, it will be a gametime decision! Listen to our conversation below. 

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The Illinois Manufacturers Association Reacts to Governor Rauner's Budget Address

The Illinois Manufacturer's Association on Wednesday released a statement regarding Governor Bruce Rauner's budget address and what it could mean for Illinois Manufacturing. 

 

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Manufacturers' Association has released the following statement in response to Governor Rauner's budget address:

The canaries in the coal mine are dying.  Rating agencies have been warning leaders on both sides of the aisle for years about the spiraling debt and need for fiscal stability, including the most recent announcements.  The IMA has continually shined a spotlight on the horrific job losses manufacturers have suffered over the last decade including nearly 11,000 good, high-paying manufacturing jobs last year alone. The manufacturing sector in Illinois cannot afford further inaction resulting in the continued loss of the middle class. Manufacturers employ 568,000 workers and contribute the single largest share of the state's economy.  When manufacturing is strong, Illinois and America are strong.

The IMA believes a final budget solution must address the root of the state's problems with structural reforms addressing our pension obligations and debt while restoring fiscal discipline and enacting real reforms that will create a vibrant business climate by attracting jobs and investments.  Illinois must address the high cost of workers' compensation, burdensome labor regulations, and reform the tax code to encourage manufacturing production.  However, as leaders consider revenue enhancements, we strongly believe that the best tax structures are broad-based with low rates and should not single out an individual sector.

We applaud Governor Rauner for introducing a balanced budget today focusing on the future and the Senate for demonstrating leadership in recent weeks. The time for action is now. 

About the Illinois Manufacturers' Association (IMA)
The Illinois Manufacturers' Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois.  The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities.

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State Senator Jil Tracy Reacts to Governor Rauner's Budget Address

State Senator Jil Tracy says she totally agreed with Governor Rauner's Budget address on Wednesday. In an interview following the Governor's address to the General Assembly, Senator Tracy praised the Governor's call for a balanced budget and incentives for job creation in Illinois. 

Senator Tracy was dismayed to hear laughter during the Governor's address, something she said was never heard during other such addresses by previous Governors. 

Senator Tracy is in her first term as State Senator having taken the seat formerly held by John M. Sullivan in the Illinois 47th District. 

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Representative Norine Hammond Reacts to Governor Bruce Rauner's Budget Address

Representative Norine Hammond says she was upbeat following Governor Bruce Rauner's budget address to the General Assembly on Wednesday. In an interview following the address Representative Hammond said she was happy to hear the Governor reaching across the aisle and pressing a message of cooperation. 

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Cocaine Distribution Bust in Beardstown

Three men were arrested on Wednesday following an investigation into cocaine distribution in Beardstown. According to a release from the Department of Justice, Hector Lopez Herrera and Jose Rolando Acosta-Hernandez of Beardstown and Modesto Favela-Chaidez of Chicago were arrested and brought before a Federal Court Magistrate on Wednesday after they were arrested on suspicion of attempting to distribute more than 500 Grams of Cocaine. The indictment alleges that between May of 2016 and January of 2017 the three men had obtained Cocaine from the Chicago area and brought it to Beardstown with the intent of distributing the drug in the city. McDough County Sheriff's and the Macomb Police Department worked alongside investigators from the DEA and the Illinois State Police to make the bust. All three men face a trial date of April 17th, 2017. 

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Getting the Lead Out of Illinois Schools' Drinking Water

In the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., a new report says lead in schools' drinking water is a pervasive problem - and it gives Illinois a D grade for policies to address the issue. 

The Environment America Research and Policy Center and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, are launching campaign called Get the Lead Out to prompt state and local officials to eliminate lead in drinking water at schools. The focus is on 16 states, including Illinois. 

Yanna Lambrinidou, a Virginia Tech researcher and a national expert on lead in drinking water, says older school buildings are especially vulnerable to corrosion in pipes. 

"When water sits in plumbing for a prolonged period of time, it has the opportunity to absorb more lead from the lead-bearing plumbing than if it just kept moving through the pipes," she explains.

Illinois has taken action recently. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation last month requiring every elementary school and daycare center in the state built before 1987 to test drinking water by the end of this year, and those built before the year 2000 to do it by the end of 2018. 

John Rumpler, Clean Water Program director for Environment America and the report's co-author, says more needs to be done, because lead is affecting children's health.

"It is estimated that 24 million children across the country will lose IQ points due to low levels of lead exposure," he states. "That is a really serious, widespread problem, not just a few cities, all across the country."

The report calls for schools to remove lead service lines, including lead-bearing parts, and install and maintain water filters certified by the National Sanitation Foundation. It also urges school districts to be proactive and take these steps before testing shows lead levels too high to be considered safe for children.

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Full Text of Governor Bruce Rauner's Budget Address

On Wednesday Governor Bruce Rauner delivered an address to the General Assembly on the continuing lack of a state budget. Below is the full text of Governor Rauner's speech. 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

“The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion… We must think anew and act anew.”
“We must think anew and act anew.”
Abraham Lincoln.
Two years ago, our first budget address began with these same words.
Though it’s taken us two years to get here, the events of recent weeks make clear that together, Democrats and  Republicans are now  thinking anew.
For the first time, legislators from both parties are standing together to say that Illinois must have structural change to grow our economy and create good jobs in every part of our state.  That budgets must be truly balanced for the long term – and that to achieve balanced budgets, changes must be made to fix our broken system.

On this, we all now  agree.  And that is real progress.
But it’s not enough to just think anew.  We must also act anew.
For decades, our state passed unsustainable budgets, spent money we didn’t have, borrowed and taxed to chase the spending… and drove job creators out of state.
Citizens in every community of Illinois know that we have been on the wrong track for years.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Since 2000, America added more than 14 million jobs – while Illinois lost jobs.  Our neighboring states of Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri added an average of more than 100 thousand jobs.  They’ve been pulling ahead while we’ve been falling behind.
Our unbalanced budgets, our crushing tax burdens, our restrictive regulations – they’ve held back the Illinois economy for decades.

For years now, families in Illinois have been voting with their feet. In just six years, we’ve seen a migration loss of more than 540,000 residents. They’re leaving for jobs, higher wages and lower costs of living.
 
If we had the right policies – if we’d made changes to fix our broken system – if we had just grown our economy at the national average, since 2000, we’d have 650,000 more jobs than we have today…
Think about that. Let me repeat that for emphasis. If Illinois were more competitive, if we had just grown Illinois’ economy LIKE AN AVERAGE state, today, we would have 650,000 more jobs here.

Just as important for our budget, if we had grown at the national average since 2000, even with our actual historic spending, we would have run budget surpluses, we would not have any unpaid bill backlog now, and today we would have 8.5 BILLION dollars more in cash to put into our schools and human services and to reduce our tax rates.

Think about that. We would have good jobs in every community. We would have employers competing to hire workers. Our households would have more income. And we could have the best funded schools in America.
And let’s be clear, Illinois should never settle for being average. We should be one of the ten fastest growing states in America. We have the best people, the best location, the best agriculture, the best transportation, the heart of America – we have every reason to thrive.

We can do this together.

It’s why I ran for governor.  To deliver a better future for our children … To change the direction of our state… to put us back on the right path – toward a growing economy, world class schools and restored trust in government.
It’s why we’ve been working for two years to pass a truly balanced budget, to create equal access to strong schools and good jobs.
For two years now, we’ve been asking the General Assembly to help us unlock our state’s unfulfilled  potential. And today, we finally all agree that economic reforms must be part of a balanced budget solution.

Now is the time to seize the moment – build on the progress made in recent weeks – and right our ship of state. Together, we can make Illinois more competitive and more compassionate. We can make the necessary changes to fix our broken system.
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Two years ago, our Administration proposed a balanced budget. It contained more than $6 billion in cuts, spending only what the state could afford at current revenue. But the majority in the General Assembly simply ignored our budget proposal, didn’t discuss it, debate it or vote on it – just passed their own $4 billion out-of-balance budget. And so our current impasse began.

Then we offered to work with members of the General Assembly to find common ground on a mix of cuts, revenue increases and reform.  We convened bipartisan working groups, doing our best to find a way forward together. But the possibility of compromise fell victim to partisan divides.

Last year, we proposed  two paths to a balanced budget – two very different financial plans under which  expenditures would not exceed available revenue. Our preferred option was once again to work together to reach consensus on a mix of spending cuts, revenue increases and changes to grow our economy.  We offered more compromises.  We took things off the table in hopes of getting an agreement.

Our Budget Director convened a bipartisan working group to craft a balanced budget. Thank you to the courageous and principled members of the General Assembly - Democrats and Republicans in both chambers - who worked together to find a grand bargain.  They nearly reached an agreement last spring.  But once again, the possibility of compromise fell victim to partisan divides.  By the end of the last legislative session, the majority in the General Assembly  couldn’t agree on any kind of budget – balanced or not.
This isn’t about  pointing fingers or assigning blame.  We are where we are.  It’s not about the past; it’s about how we move forward together.  It’s not going to help us move  forward if right after this speech, Democrats run to the media claiming we’ve never proposed a plan to balance the budget. And it’s not going to help us move forward if Republicans run to the media to point out that the Democratic legislature’s never passed a balanced budget.
People want to see us get something done – to get a balanced budget to change our broken system. To grow more jobs and better support our schools so they’re the best in America.
So today, we are here once again with our hand outstretched to the Leaders and members of the General Assembly. Between ongoing budget negotiations in the Senate and all of our leaders acknowledging the need for change, there is good reason for optimism.
Now is the time to take the next step and get the job done.
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Some people argue we should just cut our way out of our budget problems.  Others believe we should simply raise taxes and declare the budget crisis solved.
But we can’t tax our way to prosperity.  Nor can we just cut our way to a better future.  We must grow our way to the future we want. Growth is the solution.  Growth means jobs.  Growth means expanding revenues.  Growth means the economy expands faster than  government spending.  Growth means a sustainable future where job creation surges and our schools are the envy of the world.
Some people think spending cuts are too hard, that economic changes are too difficult. Just raise taxes and call it a day. Let’s be clear. We cannot tax our way to a long-term balanced budget.

Illinois residents and job creators are already saddled with the highest property taxes and the 5th highest overall tax burden in the nation.   We’ve tried raising taxes to balance the budget before, without making structural changes to control spending and grow the economy.  It has never worked. Taxing our way to a balanced budget would only hasten the exodus of jobs and families from Illinois – an unacceptable option for members of both parties.
I’ve repeatedly said that I will consider revenue increases if we stand together to make the job-creating changes we need. But structural changes to spending are absolutely essential to balance the budget, and to keep it balanced.

Today, over 60% of the state’s general revenues – roughly $20 billion – are locked up by statute. No Governor can effectively reduce spending until we address automatic spending categories like pensions, Medicaid and transfers out.

Ultimately, it’s all about jobs. Our future depends on offering strong schools and vast job opportunities across our state. By becoming more competitive with our neighbors. By creating good jobs not only in Chicago, but in Rockford, Moline, Peoria, Decatur, Galesburg, Quincy, Carbondale and every community in between.  By giving families and job creators good reason to come, and stay, in Illinois.
If we do those things, if we grow our economy, if we become more competitive, more attractive - Illinois will see immediate results, and our state will be a destination for families and employers from  across the country and around the world.
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Today we present you with a balanced  budget  that shows what is possible if we all come together on a comprehensive approach to state finances and job creation. Our proposal for the coming fiscal year focuses on the future.
It shows how Illinois can be more compassionate if we become more competitive. While proposing economic changes, it also focuses on the fabric of our society – investing in schools, public safety, criminal justice reform and human services.
We propose a record level of funding for our schools. We supported our K-12 schools at an unprecedented level in the last school year, and then we came back and did even more for this school year.  Let’s begin to implement the recommendations of the school funding reform  commission to make sure every child gets a shot at the American dream, no matter where they live.  Let’s increase our general state aid  and funding to other programs that benefit all schools.  Education is the cornerstone of our future and this investment will pay great dividends in the long run.
We propose that for the first time since 2010, the state fully fund regular transportation costs for schools around the state – enabling them to get kids to and from career and technical education programs. School districts shouldn’t have to scramble to find a way to pay for transportation costs. Our budget ends this proration once and for all.
Our proposal increases funding for English learners and early childhood education. And it maximizes important federal dollars that build technology infrastructure in our schools.
When it comes to higher education, we understand the hardship being felt by students who rely on state assistance to go to college. That’s why we’re proposing a 10 percent increase to MAP Grant funding – so those students can focus on learning, and not their next tuition bill.
Our budget prioritizes public safety and proposes funding for two Illinois State Police cadet classes, adding new troopers to our law enforcement ranks. Those officers will allow us to send more patrols to the Chicago area expressways to counter the violence that has spilled over on to the highways.

Today we are fortunate to be joined by Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz, and Captain Chris Campbell and Lt. Freddie Outlaw of the Illinois State Police Academy. Please join me in thanking them for their great service to our state!
We recognize the growing danger of opioid abuse across our state. And we highlight the need for a comprehensive strategy: prevention, interdiction and treatment; education, law enforcement and human services. State, local and federal partnerships.  This is a crisis – and we need to confront it head on before we lose more young lives.
We look to build upon our recent accomplishments with Criminal Justice Reform. We propose full funding for the Kewanee and Murphysboro Correctional life skills and reentry centers so that they can offer educational and job readiness courses to help better prepare offenders to leave custody and find jobs, live on their own, and get a second chance in life.
We fully fund mental health facilities in Joliet and Elgin…and provide the necessary support for residential treatment centers in Pontiac, Logan and Dixon.
We know the challenges facing human services … that is why our proposal increases support for Child Care and other programs that assist children, senior citizens, and our other most vulnerable residents.
We continue to support our efforts to reduce childrens’ exposure to lead in paint and drinking water and financially support those efforts.

We recommend full funding for home visiting and early intervention programs.
We propose a continued transformation of the Department of Children and Family Services by hiring additional employees to work solely on child protection investigations and compliance monitoring of programs.
And we look to strengthen services for the men and women who have put their lives on the line for our nation by delivering start-up funding for a new Illinois Veterans Home in Chicago.

Our transportation network is one of Illinois’ greatest assets, and it is a primary reason why job creators choose to make our state home. This year we propose increasing the road program at the Illinois Department of Transportation by $200 million, so that we can continue to be a leader in moving people and products throughout our nation and reinforce the message that Illinois is a great place to invest and expand.
At the same time, we look to fund long-overdue maintenance and repairs at state facilities…and invest in our technology transformation to ensure that state government becomes more efficient, responsive and transparent for the people we serve.
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Our spending proposals are significant, but if we came together under our proposal, if we came together on a grand bargain, we’d actually spend $3 billion less than government is currently spending.
In order to achieve those results, we propose a number of changes inside state government to improve services and save taxpayer money.
Pension reforms, in addition to President Cullerton’s consideration model, can save us a billion dollars right off the bat.  A new hybrid pension Tier III plan  could give new employees more options while saving the state money. 

If we do nothing, we can expect our pension costs to grow by $1 billion in just the next year. Those payments put an unsustainable strain not only on our pension systems, but on the state’s ability to pay for our schools and other critical services. 

We must act, and time is of the essence.
We will continue to pursue improvements in our state employee contracts – to make reasonable changes like moving state employees from a 37.5-hour to a 40-hour work week before overtime kicks in. And we’ll base employee pay on merit, not just seniority.  We have successfully negotiated contracts with similar parameters with 20 Labor Unions in the state, and we’ll continue to seek these common-sense changes throughout state government.
We must address the accelerating cost of state employee and retiree health insurance.

Most Illinois families have seen their health insurance premiums skyrocket.  Business owners across the country are forced to make hard decisions to manage soaring health costs.  So imagine what Illinois families think when they hear our state employees get “Cadillac platinum” coverage for barely more than bronze rates.
We cannot continue to ask taxpayers to pay more to subsidize state employee health care  –when they’re seeing their own premiums go up and coverage go down.

Our state employees should have health care options just like everyone else – and it is reasonable that they pay for those options in line with everyone else.
Bringing the state employee health insurance program more in line with the private sector would save our state half a billion dollars.

There are other opportunities for budget savings. We need to cut the red tape in how the state buys goods and services. It’s time to implement best practices and take advantage of cooperative purchasing opportunities to ensure  taxpayers get the biggest bang for their buck.  Procurement reform could save us hundreds of millions next year alone.
Together, we can move forward with selling the James R. Thompson Center. The JRTC occupies an entire city block of prime real estate in the Chicago Loop. For years, the State has failed to properly maintain the building; and now we face deferred maintenance costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Everyone benefits from the sale. The city of Chicago stands to gain major new property tax revenue, along with the jobs that come with a massive development. The state could see a net gain of over $200 million from the sale, helping us close the budget deficit in the next fiscal year.
Every day, we’re implementing efficiencies in education, criminal justice, health and human service programs and information technology that improve outcomes and save us money.
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Those savings are significant. Those efficiencies will make a difference. But NOTHING is  more important than creating MORE JOBS IN ILLINOIS.
We’ve made our top priority clear from the beginning – driving real change to move the needle on job creation in our state. The only way to keep budgets balanced in the future is to ensure economic growth outpaces government spending growth. Together, let’s look at each regulation we have, at every law we pass, and ask ourselves a simple question: how does this impact job creators? Is the benefit of this rule worth the cost in lost jobs? That’s the essential question that can guide our decisions every day.

Job creators and relocation firms tell us that rooting out fraud and abuse from the worker’s compensation system and getting highest-in-the-country property taxes under control are two of the most important ways to make Illinois more competitive. Very high workers’ comp insurance costs in the private sector continue to drive businesses out of state – and in the public sector, they contribute to higher property taxes.  Changes are necessary to attract employers and create new jobs.

And we will never stop working to get term limits and redistricting on the ballot in Illinois – to send a message to job creators across the country that our state is doing things differently than we have in the past.
These changes are necessary to producing long-term balanced budgets and long-term financial stability. They are THE items that can ensure Illinois not only survives, but thrives, for generations to come.
As we’ve said repeatedly, there is no one single bullet, no one single “must have,” for our Administration. But for the future of our state, change must be real, not just a newspaper headline.
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Senate President Cullerton, Leader Radogno and Senate lawmakers have shown tremendous leadership in bringing all parties together to find common ground on a combination of spending cuts, revenue, and changes that will create jobs and ensure long-term balanced budgets. Standing here three weeks ago, I  encouraged them to keep working, to never give up…and they have done just that.
We’ve made a point of letting the Senate move forward… trying not to disrupt momentum.  But I’d like to take a few minutes to help guide the negotiations to a place where Democrats and Republicans can reach agreement, and I can affirm my support for the package.
First and foremost: the final result must be a good deal for taxpayers and job creators: a grand bargain that truly balances the budget  once and for all, and really moves the needle when it comes to job creation.
A good deal for taxpayers lays the foundation for balanced budgets for years to come.  The budget must truly balance by the end of Fiscal Year 2018 – and it must balance in a way that doesn’t send us right back into deficit a few years from now.
That means a hard cap on spending that forces  state government to live within its means,  balance the budget and pay off the state’s debt.  Spending reductions in the budget need to be real – not smoke and mirrors.  Long-term pension reform needs to maximize savings in all pension systems.
As for revenue, we’ve always said that we’d consider revenue if it comes with changes that create jobs and grow the economy.
The current Senate  proposal calls for a permanent increase in the income tax rate but offers only a  temporary property tax freeze in exchange.  That’s just not fair to hard-working taxpayers across the state. 

We need a permanent property tax freeze in Illinois, just like the one the House passed last month.  Over time, as our economy grows and revenues expand, any increase in the income tax could be stepped down – dedicating future surpluses to taxpayers, not more government spending.

The current Senate proposal would expand the state’s sales tax to cover everyday services, and raise taxes on food and drugs. We’re open to a broader sales tax base to mirror neighboring states like Wisconsin, but let’s make sure it’s best  for the people of Illinois, not for the lobbyists in Springfield.  We cannot raise taxes on people’s groceries and medicine – just as we cannot tax people’s retirement incomes.   We can find a way to balance the budget without hurting lower-income families and fixed-income seniors.
We must all support  raising the earned income tax credit to help low-income families.  And we must support making the research and development tax credit permanent to encourage innovation and job creation.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, a good deal for taxpayers comes with  economic and  regulatory changes that are significant enough for job creators to get excited about the future of Illinois.

Term limits get job creators excited. Passing term limits is one of the most important things we can do to send a positive recruiting message to job creators: “it’s a new day in Illinois, we’ve turned the corner.”

Workers comp changes get job creators excited. We must get our worker’s compensation costs in line with other states. We’re asking for a worker’s compensation system that matches Massachusetts. Massachusetts is a blue state with a strong middle class--and it’s growing.

Now, those parameters  aren’t controversial– they’re right in line with what Democrats and Republicans have said they agree with.  And while the Senate package is still evolving, it wouldn’t be that hard to reach a good deal for taxpayers.

I firmly believe that we can come to agreement on these issues.  And I pledge to you that I will sign that good deal for taxpayers the minute it arrives at my desk.

This is now a question of political will. I’m know I’m willing-- I hope you are too.

As we discussed last month: Illinois faces incredible challenges. But those challenges also provide unprecedented  opportunity.
We are at a crossroads. If we work together and make the right decisions now, the potential of our state is unlimited.  Let’s put Illinois back on the road to prosperity.  Let’s do what we were sent here to do.
Thank you.  God bless each of you, God bless our great state of Illinois and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
 

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MacombNewsNow Celebrity Interview Daily Show Correspondent Roy Wood Jr

Roy Wood Jr. is best known for his uproarious Daily Show segments shining a satirical spotlight on the day's political headlines. Roy's primary gig however is as a stand-up comic and this weekend fans can see him on stage in his very first Comedy Central one hour special. Father Figure finds Roy tackling big topics like politics and race but predominately the show is about things like Smoothies, Lettuce and why College Football fans are so mad all the time. Roy Wood Jr. talks about The Daily Show and his new special Father Figure with me, Sean Patrick, in our latest MacombNewsNow Celebrity interview. Father Figure airs on Comedy Central Sunday night at 10 Pm. You can also get more of Roy Wood Jr's stand-up on his website RoyWoodJr.com

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Secretary of State White Announces Support for Bus Safety Belt Bill

A bill in the Illinois Legislature that would make safety belts on school buses mandatory has received support from the Secretary of State. Secretary Jesse White released a statement on Tuesday in support of the bill which would require a three point safety belt on all school bus seats. Our Kim Howard in Springfield has more. 

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WIU to Host Blood Drive Thursday

Western Illinois University will be hosting the Red Cross on Thursday for a blood drive. Representatives of the Red Cross will be set up at Horrabin Hall on the WIU campus from 11 Am to 4 Pm for blood donations. There is an extraordinary need for blood donations in the state of Illinois so anyone with the opportunity to give is asked to do so Thursday. Horrabin Hall is located at Western Avenue and University Drive on the WIU campus. 

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Bushnell Prairie City High School and Junior High Closed By Flu Wednesday

After numerous students stayed home sick on Monday officials with the Bushnell Prairie City High School and Junior High decided to cancel school on Tuesday and will remain closed on Wednesday as well. All after school activities at each school have been cancelled as well for Tuesday and Wednesday. School schedules should be back to normal on Wednesday though other school districts in the state of Illinois have considered cancelling the full week due to the latest flu outbreak. 

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McDonough County Sheriff and Macomb Police Chief Warn of Phone Scams

McDonough County Sheriff Rick Van Brooker and Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker released a joint warning to residents regarding a spate of recent phone scams. According to the release, residents across Macomb and McDonough County have received phone calls from people claiming to represent local law enforcement and claiming that a family member has an arrest warrant that can be alleviated if the subject of the scam calls back to a different phone number and provides payment via pre-paid gift cards. The card numbers would be given to caller as a form of payment. The second scam involves the scammer posing as a representative of Ameren and claiming that the subject's power is about to be cut off unless they provide payment immediately. The scammer then directs the subject as to how to pay the supposed bill. Each of the scams are aided by new technology that allows the phone number to look like it legitimately is coming from in town and could plausibly be a number for either local law enforcement or Ameren. Anyone receiving calls like the ones described should get in touch with actual authorities as soon as possible. 

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Macomb Chamber Ribbon Cutting Celebrates New Member

The Macomb Chamber is celebrating yet another new member business. On Monday, the Macomb Chamber of Commerce participated ina ribbon cutting at Counceling Cares at 233 South McArthur Street in Macomb. Counceling Cares, which serves both individuals and families in need of counseling, officially joined the Macomb Chamber in January. You can find out more about Counseling Cares by contacting the chamber of by going to CounselingCares.com. 

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AARP Calling on Congress to Protect Medicare

campaign has been launched in Illinois to save Medicare. AARP is trying to rally state residents to write or call members of Congress to save the program that affects millions of people. 

AARP State Director Bob Gallo says a new voucher plan that's being discussed to replace Medicare as we know it would have a negative effect on those who rely on the program. He says a voucher system would dramatically increase health-care costs and make them unaffordable for many on a fixed income.

"If they have a situation where they need to go to a doctor or a hospital, a voucher probably would not cover all of the costs and you would have folks who would be responsible for thousands and thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket costs," he explained. 

Gallo says it's not just an issue that impacts seniors, he says gen-X-ers and millennials are at risk too, adding that about 20 percent of Illinoisans are between the ages of 50 and 64 today and will transition into Medicare over the next 15 years. 

Gallo says two million Illinois residents are enrolled in Medicare now, with the numbers going up every day. He says a retiree with an annual income of less than $25,000 already is spending one-out-of-six dollars on health care.

"What this would wind up doing is that only people who have very significant means - who are wealthy, rich, however you want to categorize that - would be the ones who would be getting the best health care," he added. 

Gallo believes the squeaky wheel does get attention.

"It matters tremendously right now," continued Gallo. "There are going to be mid-term elections coming up in two years, and now's the time to share with elected officials who are in office what you are concerned about and what you want them to represent you on."

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McDonough County Genealogical Society Announces McDonough History Project

The McDonough County Genealogical Society has announced a brand new book length history of McDonough County project. According to a release from the Genealogical Society, the book is the first of its kind in more than a quarter of a century and will detail the history of McDonough County familes, businesses, schools and more. The Genealogical Society is soliciting the help of McDonough County residents for the project and you can help out by contributing your family history to the Genealogical Society. Contact Allen R. Nemec at 309-255-5161 for more information and to find out how you can get involved in this unique and ambition project. 

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WIU RAD Classes Begin This Week

Western Illinois University will begin RAD courses this week, on Thursday, February 16th from 4 to 7 Pm. R.A.D stands for Rape-Agression-Defense and is intended to teach WIU students what to do in the event of a sexual assault. Classes will be held each Thursday evening from 4 Pm to 7 Pm through the end of March and will cover topics such as Avoiding Victimization, Patterns of Date Rape and a hand to hand self-defense course. There is no cost for the 12 hour course which will be held each Thursday in the Donald S. Spencer Student Recreation Center. 

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Macomb City Council Meeting Agenda Monday February 13th

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
MACOMB CITY COUNCIL
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2017
MACOMB CITY HALL
5:00 P.M.

ROLL CALL

PUBLIC COMMENTS

1. Discussion on capital improvement projects for 2017 at Spring Lake Park.
Attached is a memo from CA Torreson for Items 1 and 2 for your review. Discussion is planned.

2. Discussion a new five (5) year contract with Spring Lake Management.

3. Discussion on a resolution to adopt the proposed travel expense reimbursement policy.
Attached is a copy of the resolution and travel policy for your review. Discussion
is planned.

4. Discussion on a proposed installation of an exterior staircase on the east side of the Water Treatment Plant to access the lime silo in the roof.
Attached is a memo from Interim PW Director Kent Cox along with pictures. Discussion is planned.

5. Other business.

Executive Session

To consider information relative to:

a) Appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of an employee of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(1) of the Open Meetings Act.

b)Collective Bargaining matters between the public body and it’s employees or representatives, or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(2) of the Open Meetings Act.

c) The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(5) of the Open Meetings Act.

d)The setting of a price for sale or lease of property owned by the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(6) of the Open Meetings Act.

e) Pending or probable litigation, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(11) of the Open Meetings Act.

 

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McDonough County Vibe Announces More than $60,000 in Donations to Local Non-Profits

McDonough County VIBE on Friday handed out nearly $60,000 worth of checks to local non-profit organizations. In a release from VIBE it was announced that McDonough County Special Olympics, the Colchester Food Bank, and Macomb After Prom would be among the recipients of cash donations from VIBE to support their activities. The McDonough County Special Olympics was especially honored by receiving more than $32,000 to continue activities. A full list of local organizations receiving funding this year from VIBE is below. 

 

$32,626 to McDonough County Special Olympics 

$10,893 to the Colchester Food Bank 

$10,893 to Loaves and Fishes 

$4000.00 the Bushnell Prairie City Schools towards a new Vision Screener 

$428.00 to Macomb After Prom 

$100.00 to Bushnell Prairie City After Prom and 

$100.00 for West Prairie After Promo 

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Roe vs. Wade Trigger Law Under Microscope in Illinois

 Reproductive health care advocates are urging Illinois lawmakers to approve legislation that would repeal a Roe v. Wade "trigger provision" in state law. 

A House committee last week voted in favor of House bill 40, by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, which would remove language in state law that says if Roe v. Wade is overturned or modified, Illinois state law would revert to before that 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, and abortion would again become criminal in the state. 

Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU's Women's and Reproductive Rights Project, said this legislation is necessary to ensure that every woman in Illinois can make her own health care decisions and have access to safe medical care, regardless of what happens in Washington.

"The bill is designed to ensure that there's no risk of that happening, that there's just way too much risk with Trump in the White House," Chaiten said. "We want to be absolutely sure that here in Illinois, that right isn't going away."

A second part of the bill would make sure women who depend on Medicaid and state employee health insurance are able to access abortion services. Opponents have said that amounts to public funding for abortion. 

Anti-abortion advocates held rallies across the nation Saturday calling for federal funding to be pulled from Planned Parenthood facilities.

Chaiten said abortion is a personal choice, and every woman should have affordable and comprehensive health care coverage.

"Regardless of how we feel about abortion, we can all agree that when a woman has decided to end her pregnancy, that she should be able to do it through a qualified licensed provider," she said.

She said she hopes the bill will win approval in the House and Senate, and will then be signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

"We don't know what the governor will do," Chaiten said, "but we have every hope that he will sign this bill, that he'll understand that this bill is essential to assure that women in Illinois have access to the kind of health care that they need and that they'll have that access regardless of what happens in the Trump Administration."

Illinois is just one of a handful of states that with abortion trigger laws on the books.

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This Weekend's Hy-Vee Deals

This morning Curtis from Hy-Vee dropped by the station to discuss some of their latest deals. In addition to their regular variety of products on sale, the store on East Jackson in Macomb has a special sale on produce saving you money and earning you points on Fuel Saver. Also, Curtis mentions a number of special sale items for Valentine's Day. 

 

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WIU Women's Center Presents: The Vagina Monoglogues

The WIU Women's Center will have showings of The Vagina Monologues this weekend. The showings will take place at the WIU Multicultural Center. Proceeds from the shows will go towards helping survivors of domestic violence with WIRC Victims Services. 

 

The first show is tonight at 7, with a cocktail hour and cash bar event preceeding the show at 6. Saturday night's show will also be at 7, with doors opening at 6:30. A Sunday matinee performance will take place at 2, with doors opening at 1:30. 

 

Listen to my interview from earlier this week with Candace Wilson below, as she previews the show.

 

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Regional Media Movie Review 50 Shades Darker

50 Shades Darker picks up the story of Anastasia Steel and Christian Grey not long after Anastasia ended their relationship. Christian desperately wants Ana back but she is reluctant, especially now that she has a new job at publishing office where her boss (Luke Grimes) demands all of her attention. Nevertheless, Ana does give Christian another chance and the door to the red room is once again opened in this sequel to the 2015 blockbuster romance. Here's my review of 50 Shades Darker. 

 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Batman Movie features the voice of Will Arnett as the caped crusader, picking up where he left off in the role he played in the smash hit Lego Movie from 2015. Here we find Batman battling his biggest fear, having a family, as he accidentally adopts young Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). Forced to care for the boy, Batman tries to get rid of Dick by taking him on a mission only to find that the kid makes a pretty great superhero sidekick. The plot kicks into gear with the introduction of Barbra Gordon (Rosario Dawson) arresting all of Batman's super-villains, lead by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), forcing Batman to drastic measures to maintain his status as Gotham City's go-to crime fighter. Here's my review of The Lego Batman Movie. 

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Report: Illinois LGBT Laws Could be Weakened

Despite advances in recognizing and protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, a new report has found that transgender people face serious risks in most states.

The report looked at laws and policies in every state and the District of Columbia that affect LGBT people in five areas, including discrimination, health and safety, and adoption.

Naomi Goldberg, policy and research director for the Movement Advancement Project, said the results show legal protections based on gender identity lag far behind protections based on sexual orientation.

"In most places, transgender people lack even the most basic protections - in employment, in housing, in accessing an identity document, to being protected at school," she said. "The list goes on."

Illinois and 11 other states are ranked high for having gender-identity protections in place, but states surrounding Illinois, including Missouri and Wisconsin, have some of the lowest ratings. 

Goldberg noted that rights already secured in Illinois could be in jeopardy. A draft executive order circulated by the Trump administration last week would create a so-called "religious freedom" exemption from LGBT anti-discrimination laws, giving service providers what Goldberg called "a license to discriminate."

"This could mean that providers of those services could discriminate based on their view of what marriage should be," she said, "and their view of sort of the immutability of sex and gender."

If adopted as written, she said, that executive order would open the door to a wide range of harms to the entire LGBT community.

The report is online at lgbtmap.org.

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Bushnell Woman Arrested Following Two Separate Criminal Investigations

A Bushnell resident was arrested earlier this week following the conclusion of two separate criminal investigations. According to a release from the McDonough County Sheriff, 32 year old Cherish N. Neteler was arrested on February 7th following an investigation by County Sheriff Detectives and the West Central Illinois Task Force. The first investigation, dating back to December of 2015, accused Neteler of stealing medication from a patient at the Prairie City Nursing Home in Prairie City, Illinois. The second investigation accused Neteler of obtaining the materials used to manufacture methamphetimine with Neteler accused of obtaining pseudoephedrine on July 3rd of 2016. Neteler is being held on a $6500.00 bond for each charge at the McDonough County Jail. 

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WIU President Speaks at Higher Education Rally in Springfield

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas and Board of Trustees Chair Cathy Early traveled to Springfield on Wednesday where President Thomas was invited to speak at the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education Rally. The rally, held in the capitol rotunda in Springfield brought together University Presidents, legislators, and education professionals from across the state of Illinois with the goal of reminding legislators of the importance of funding higher education. As part of his speech President Thomas said "You may ask me today, why is higher education important? Well, there is a direct correlation between level of education attained, employment opportunities, and earning potential," Thomas told the crowd. "Clearly, higher education is a driver of personal and economic prosperity; the more education one receives, the more likely one will have a satisfying career and earn higher wages. So students: keep working hard and complete your studies." President Thomas went on to say that an educated workforce attracts businesses to the state of Illinois. You can read the full text from President Thomas's speech by clicking here

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Report Highlights What Illinois Loses with ACA Repeal

A new report by Health Care for America Now shows the impact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would have on Illinois. It says more than a million people in the state would lose health coverage. 

The fallout also includes $1.2 billion in new uncompensated care, 114,000 lost jobs, and $2.7 billion in lost income for hospitals and physicians. In Illinois, 260,000 people receive subsidies to help pay for their coverage, and the report says repeal would cost each of them over $4,300 in 2019. 

Lynda DeLaforgue, the co-director of Citizen Action Illinois thinks without a good replacement plan, a repeal is irresponsible and dangerous. 

"When people can get medical care at the front end, then we prevent a lot of catastrophic illness at the back end," she said. "And so, the whole system is benefited through this, not to mention all of the lives that are saved when people have access to health care at the front end."

The report says Illinois' Medicare enrollees have lower prescription drug costs thanks to the ACA, and eliminating those could cost each around $1,000. Both the House and Senate have voted to move forward on ACA repeal through the budget process. President Trump called it a disaster and vowed to immediately repeal it during his campaign. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the uninsured rate in America before the ACA was 15.7 percent, and last year it was 8.6 percent. DeLaforgue says Illinois lawmakers need to take what their constituents are saying seriously - they need affordable health insurance.

"Folks are going to have to take a step back and really look at what this means for their own districts, and break from a party line," she added. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, nationally almost 30 million people will lose their health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, more than doubling the number of people who would be uninsured.

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MacombNewsNow Celebrity Interview Men at Work Singer Colin Hay

Singer Colin Hay has seen the highest highs of pop stardom as a member of the 80's band Men at Work and he's seen the lowest lows in a more than 30 plus year career as a solo artist. Through it all, Colin has stayed true to his music and waited patiently for audiences to find him. Audiences have indeed found Colin Hay all over again and with the release of his latest solo record "Fierce Mercy" also comes a more intimate look at how audiences have rediscovered Colin Hay with the feature documentary "Waiting for My Real Life." The documentary is available now on demand and for digital download. "Fierce Mercy" will be on sale March 13th from Compass Records. Here's my interview with Colin Hay. 

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WIRC Offering College Scholarships

The Western Illinois Regional Council, based here in Macomb, is offering students the chance to apply for college scholarships of up to $2000.00. To qualify students should be attending an Illinois Community College, Vocational School, state college or Unuversity and should be planning to enter a profession that is in demand. Applications will be accepted beginning on February 13th and if you would like to apply you an go to WIRPC.org/communityaction/scholarship. Completed applications must be in by March 24th. 

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Adopt a Dog Update

For those highly anticipating pictures and videos of a brand new adorable dog for our weekly Adopt a Dog segment, I have some bad news for you. We have done so well with getting the word out about adoptable animals from the McDonough County Animal Shelter that there are currently no more adoptable dogs at the shelter! 

 

 

That's right, all five of our featured dogs have found new homes over the past two months. We are so thrilled to be able to share that news with you, and for me personally it is the most gratifiying aspect of this job. If you've helped get the word out about these dogs in any way, thank you very much.

 

While there are not currently available dogs at the shelter in Macomb, there are still many cats looking for a new home. If you are interested in meeting some of these cats, head over to the McDonough County Animal Shelter at 101 E. Tower Road in Macomb. They are open 11 AM-5 PM Monday through Friday and from 10 AM-12 PM on Saturdays. 

 

When there more dogs that are ready to be adopted locally, we will be ready to help. In the meantime, we plan on working with another shelter in the region to get the word out about the dogs they have that could use a new home.

 

 

 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Take

New on DVD and Blu Ray, The Take stars Idris Elba as a CIA Agent assigned to the Paris Bureau. The assignment is punishment for his often reckless disregard for CIA protocol but when corrupt cops begin using terrorism as a cover for a heist, it's that reckless disregard for protocol that keeps our hero from becoming a victim. With the help of a reluctant revolutionary and a pickpocket mistaken for a terrorist, Elba takes on the corrupt cops and his own supervisors in The Take. Here is my review of The Take. 

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Winter Weather Advisory for McDonough County Wednesday

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for McDonough County for Wednesday beginning at 3:30 Am and going until 6 Pm Wednesday evening. There is a possibility of 1 to 3 inches of snow on Wednesday which could lead to slick roads across the area. The snow will be intermittent throughout the day with snow on and off from the early morning hours into the evening. 

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MacombNewsNow Celebrity Interview Chris Hardwick Host of The Wall on NBC

Chris Hardwick is a pioneer in the world of podcasting and a highly successful host of game shows such as Singled Out and @Midnight. His latest foray into the world of game shows is even more successful as he has the chance to help change lives forever by giving some very good people the opportunity to win some very big money. The Wall features Chris giving folks the chance to answer trivia questions and then drop a big ball down the side of a wall where it might just roll right into a slot that contains up to $13 million dollars, life changing money. Basketball superstar Lebron James is an executive producer on The Wall and Chris and I talked about Lebron, the uniqueness of the show, podcasting, @Midnight and The Talking Dead. 

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Quincy Man Arrested on Sexual Assault Charges

A Quincy man is under arrest on charges of Criminal Sexual Assault with Force. Kevin L. Bodi was arrested by Adams County Sheriff's Deputies on Monday night following an investigation that began on January 31st. It is the second arrest in 5 days for Bodi who was also arrested on February 1st on charges related to Possession of Methamphetimine. The Methamphetimine Possession arrest came as officers went to his home to serve a search warrant on the Sexual Assault charge. Bodi had posted bond on the Meth Possession charges and was then arrested a second time on Monday night on the Sexual Assault charge and he is now in the Adams County Jail on a 1 million dollar bond. 

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University of Illinois Extension Accepting Nomination for Small Business Awards

The University of Illinois Extension and the Entrepreneurial Network of Western and Southern Illinois have announced that they are now accepting nominations for the annual Small Business Eagle Awards. The Small Business Eagle Awards are handed out each year in order to honor local small businesses in categories such as Small Business Start-up of the Year and the Small Business Advocate of the Year. If you would like to nominate a small business from here in Macomb or McDonough County you can find the University of Illinois Extension online here

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McDonough District Hospital Offering CPR Class

The latest McDonough District Hospital CPR Class is set for Wednesday, February 15th. Pre-registration for the class is required at a cost $32.00 per registration. The class will focus on teaching basic CPR training for infants, children and adults. If you'd like to attend contact McDonough District Hospital at 309-836-1584 and will happen in Auditoriums A and B in the lower level of McDonough District Hospital. 

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WIU Elements Literary Magazine Accepting Submissions

Western Illinois University is now accepting submissions for Elements Literary Magazine. The deadline for submissions in the categories of Poetry, Original Short Story, and Non-Fiction Essays is March 10th at 4 Pm. Requirements for submission include a minimum of three original poems, typed and double spaced while essays and short stories must have a minimum of 5000 words. Drop off your submission for Elements at Simpkins Hall, Room 124 by March 10th. 

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Gender ID Bill Before Illinois Lawmakers

State lawmakers in Illinois are being asked to support legislation that would allow a person to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. 

A bill to modernize the state's birth certificate law was filed last week. It would allow transgender Illinoisans to more easily correct the gender label on a birth certificate. Current law requires an applicant to show proof that they have undergone gender reassignment surgery. 

Mike Ziri, director of public policy at Equality Illinois, said although surgery is no longer a requirement to change a person's gender identification, a health care professional will still have a part in the process. 

"It would be a declaration by a licensed mental health professional or licensed health care professional who has treated and evaluated the person," Ziri explained. "That declaration would state that the person has undergone treatment that is clinically appropriate for the individual."

The measure, House Bill 1785, was sponsored by state Rep. Greg Harris . Harris filed a similar bill last year but it stalled in committee. 

Opponents, like the Illinois Family Institute, have said the measure would subordinate "objective truths," such as a person's biological sex. 

Ziri said this bill moves Illinois State law into the 21st Century and brings it into line with the federal government, as well as 13 other states and the District of Columbia. 

"We know that the modern medical standards of care do not require surgery for a transgender person to be living their authentic and full gender identity," Ziri said.

The legislation is backed by organizations across the state, including the ACLU of Illinois, Equality Illinois, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Howard Brown Health, Lambda Legal, and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.

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Illinois Manufacturers Bring Plan for Manufacturing Revival to Macomb

The President of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, Greg Baise, spoke to the Macomb Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon on Thursday. During the hourlong talk Mr. Baise called upon lawmakers to work together to help restore the state's manufacturing base which has seen a reduction in jobs by more than 36% since 2000. Even after other states began seeing a recovery in the manufacturing sector, Illinois has continued to struggle and according to Mr. Baise the struggle is due to the continuing budget struggle in Springfield along with a generally unfriendly climate for manufacturing businesses, especially in the areas of Workers Compensation laws and exceptionally high property taxes for business owners. I spoke with Greg Baise about his talk with the Macomb Chamber of Commerce and the plan the Illinois Manufacturers Association believes can begin to restore the state manufacturing sector. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Rings

Rings is the continuation of the story of the killer child Samara who, through the use of a possessed VHS tape, curses her victims giving them seven days to live once the victim has watched the cursed tape. In the latest iteration a college professor, played by The Big Bang Theory's Johnny Galecki, finds the mysterious tape, is cursed and quickly figures out a unique way to stay alive by continuously copying the video and passing it on to others on an endless loop. Caught up in the professor's quest to stay alive and study the tape are one of his students, Holt (Alex Roe) and his girlfriend Julia (Matilda Lutz) who decides to investigate the tape even further in hopes of ending Samara's reign of terror. Here's my review of Rings. 

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Realistic Tips for Busy Moms

(StatePoint) Time is perhaps the most coveted thing moms have and it's crucial to manage it effectively for you and your family.

To help moms everywhere make the most of their precious minutes, actress, director, producer, entrepreneur, mother of three and Nutrisystem ambassador, Melissa Joan Hart reveals her secrets that she has crafted from years of juggling different time consuming tasks.

• Just say “no”: Sometimes you just have to decline requests or pick and choose which ones are doable. And remember, it's okay to ask for a rain check.

• Limit screen time: It's easy to fall into the screen time black hole. Instead, be present -- put your phone down and limit your children's time in front of their screens. Even talk to your spouse!

• Set aside 20 "Mom Minutes” daily: Do something for yourself for 20 minutes every day-- meditate, do a quick workout, call a friend you haven't spoken to in a while, or simply do nothing with a cup of coffee in hand.

• Have one-on-one time with each child: Create no-fuss activities like coloring or playing cards that you can do with each child individually based on his or her personality. Spending quality time separately will feed your soul and theirs.

• Try to be guilt free: As a working mom, you are doing things for your family even when you are at work, so don’t feel guilty about the time away from loved ones.

• Make simple healthy changes: Remember that your kids are always watching, so being a good role model when it comes to health and fitness will pay dividends for them and for you. Simple, easy changes in your daily routing can help you with your health goals. For example, drink a nutrient-rich shake for breakfast, such as Nutrisystem Turboshakes, drink more water throughout the day and maintain a consistent exercise schedule.

And if you want to lose weight, as so many do, Hart says, "look for a plan that works for you. I chose Nutrisystem because it was simple and fit with my lifestyle. I lost 40 pounds and feel better than ever!"

For a kick start to your weight loss efforts, consider Nutrisystem Lean13, a new program designed to help you lose up to 13 pounds and seven inches in your first month. More information can be found at nutrisystem.com.

• Plan quality couple time: Make time to reignite your romance. Go out to a movie, take a walk together, write each other love notes.

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make grand changes,” says Hart. “It’s the small details that can make every day just feel better.”

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Highway 41 North of I-95 Reduced to One Lane

Highway 41 just south of Bushnnell, north of Illinois 95 will be reduced to one lane for the next two weeks for culvert repair. As reported yesterday on MacombNewsNow on Facebook a sinkhole caused a small portion of Highway 41, miles south of Bushnell to collapse. IDOT crews immediately cordoned off the effected area and have begun work to repair the collapsed culvert. Temporary signals have been put in place around the effected area and traffic will be slowed for the next two weeks during the repair. Please drive slowly in the effected area. The effected area of Highway 41 is expected to be repaired by the end of February. 

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Quincy Man Arrested in Drug Investigation

A Quincy man has been arrested following a drug investigation by the West Central Illinois Task Force and the Adams County Sheriff's Office. 36 year old Kevin L. Bodi of Quincy was arrested on charges of Unlawful Possession of Methamphetimine, A search of Bodi's residence found drug paraphenalia including digital scales and packing materials and Metamphetimine. Bodi was being held in the Adams County Jail at last report. Bodi was previously arrested and was out on bond following a 2016 arrest for violating an order of protection. 

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Pella Corporation and K100 Teacher of the Month Mrs. Brillhart

Congratulations to Miss Cheryl Brillhart, a first grade teacher at Lincoln School. She is the K100 and Pella corporation teacher of the month!  Miss Brillhart has been rewarded for her hard work and dedication with prizes from FYI, frozen yogurt and coffee in Macomb, Jimmy Johns and K100. and also received a plaque, certificate of recognition and a $500 check from Pella Corporation to purchase supplies for her classroom.  Congratulations again to the K100 and Pella Corporation teacher of the month. Go to Macomnnewsnow.com to nominate your teacher today.

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Three Arrested in Methamphetimine Bust in Henderson County

Three people are under arrest on charges related to Methamphetimine possession. According to a release from the Illinois State Police, 32 year old Brianna B. Sullivan of Oquawka, 31 year old Austin T. Adolph of Gladstone, and 40 year old Donny J. Blakley of Oquawka were arrested on January 27th following an investigation by the Illinois State Police District 14 and the Macomb Meth Response that led to a search warrant being issued for the residence at 907 Pike Street in Oquawka. That search led to another search warrant being issued for the residence at 1091 Township Road 1300 North in Gladstone. More than 6 ounces of so called ICE methamphetimine was located during the searches along with approximately a kilo of powder cocaine. All three suspects were arrested and taken to the Henderson County Jail to await disposition with bond on Sullivan set at $50,000, bond for Adolph set at $250,000 and bond for Blakley set at $100,000. 

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Congressman LaHood Stunned Saddened and Frustrated by Caterpillar Move

Congressman Darin LaHood is among those who were shocked and disappointed by the decision announced by Caterpillar on Tuesday to move it's worldwide headquarters from it's long time home in Peoria to Chicago. Congressman LaHood released this statement from his office in Washington D.C on Tuesday evening: 

 

"I am stunned, saddened and extremely frustrated to hear the news that Caterpillar’s corporate world headquarters will abruptly be moving from Peoria to Chicago. This is sad news for our community and our citizens. For over 92 years, Caterpillar has called Peoria home and we have embraced it with open arms. To say I am disappointed in this decision made by the Board of Directors would be a tremendous understatement. This, in some ways, is a betrayal of our community and in complete disregard for the hard working employees and citizens of Peoria. Like many Peorians, I joined with countless Caterpillar employees in the unveiling of the new state-of-the-art world headquarters in Downtown Peoria in February 2015. Now, it appears that we have had the rug pulled right out from under us.

I have and will continue to urge the Board of Directors to reconsider this decision. At the very least, I urge them to immediately meet with leaders of our community -- elected officials, labor and business leaders, and myself -- to work together to minimize the repercussions of this decision."
 

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Watch for Roadside Safety Checks in February

The Illinois State Police are letting you know that throughout the month of February you should keep an eye out for Roadside Safety Checks. ISP District 14 Commander, Captain Jon Dively made the announcement on Tuesday that District 14 will be conducting roadside safety checks throughout McDonough County in February. Officers will be on the lookout for unsafe drivers, drivers not wearing seatbelts, child safety seats, distracted driving and, of course, zero tolerance for anyone caught Driving Under the Influence. 

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Attorney General Warns Against Refund Anticipation Loans

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is warning consumers about short term loans related to tax refunds. In a release from the Attorney General's office on Tuesday, Madigan warned consumers agains the enticing option of trading their eventual tax refund for a loan from tax preparers against that eventual refund. The gimmick has become more popular since the IRS announced that tax refunds for some low income taxpayers would be delayed until mid-February. The idea is that tax preparers will give taxpayers betweeen $500.00 and $1000.00 on a debit card or in cash and then keep the eventual tax relief as a guarantee of the loan with the idea being that no interest is being charged. In reality, the interest can be as much as 100% with tax payers giving up hundreds of dollars that would have come in their eventual tax return had they chosen to wait for it. You can read the Attorney General's full statement below. 

 

"As tax season gets underway, Attorney General Lisa Madigan today urged Illinois taxpayers to avoid applying for expensive refund anticipation products that deplete as much as a thousand dollars from their eventual tax refund. 

Madigan issued advice for Illinois residents in light of a recent announcement by the IRS that as a way to reduce identity theft and tax-related fraud, it is delaying tax refunds until February 15 for more than 40 million low-income families claiming the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit.

As a result, Madigan’s office expects more taxpayers will be enticed by tax preparers to apply for “instant cash advances.” These are a new kind of short-term loan that typically provides taxpayers with between $500 and $1,000 of the eventual tax refund upfront. Tax preparers often deceptively market these advances as “interest free” but the loans carry interest rates over 100 percent in most cases. Tax preparers offer refund anticipation loans via checks and temporary debit cards as a way for consumers to receive an instant cash deposit based on their anticipated tax refund instead of waiting to receive their full tax refund from the IRS. But this advance payment comes at a very high cost.

“When tax preparers promise an instant refund, they are really giving you an expensive, short-term loan that will reduce the amount of your eventual tax refund by as much as a thousand dollars,” Madigan said. “Be skeptical of these high-priced, short-term loans.”  

In addition to tax refund anticipation products, Madigan said consumers should be aware of tax-related identity theft. Complaints to Madigan’s office have shown that for some consumers, even simply consulting with a company offering tax refund anticipation products leads to problems. Consumers have reported instances of companies filing a tax return in their name but without their authorization based on information the consumer provided in an initial consultation.

Madigan offered tips for consumers to avoid becoming the victim of tax-related identity theft:
Do not open or reply to any emails claiming to be from the IRS that contain a request for personal information. Contact the IRS directly to find out if the solicitation is legitimate.
Report any suspicious IRS paper mail correspondence to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1 (800) 366-4484.
Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1 (800) 908-4490 or visit the IRS website to report tax-related identity theft.
To report a complaint involving a tax refund anticipation product, contact Madigan’s Consumer Fraud hotlines:

1-800-386-5438 (Chicago)
1-800-243-0618 (Springfield)
1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale)

Consumers looking for help preparing and filing their taxes free of charge should contact the Center for Economic Progress, a trusted provider of tax and financial assistance for low-income and working families, at 312-252-0280 or visit their website. In addition, the Department of Human Services provides a list of free tax help sites across the state, which can be found here."

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IL Students Protesting Education Pick Arrested

Seven college students were arrested on Tuesday after they refused to leave the lobby of the Federal Building in downtown Chicago. They were among hundreds of people who gathered to protest President Donald Trump's choice of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Education Secretary. 

University of Chicago student Nadia Perl was one of the protesters not taken into custody. She says they want Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to vote 'no' on DeVos' confirmation. She describes DeVos as a billionaire, and the latest in a series of "Corporate Cabinet" nominees with vast personal wealth and deep ties to Wall Street.

"But even this isn't enough," she said. "We know that Betsy DeVos isn't the only threat to higher education in this country, and what we're fighting for is education, especially in the state of Illinois to be considered a human right, something that's free and accessible to everyone, and is a public good rather than a profit-making enterprise."

The students were released shortly after their arrests. Tuesday's protest is the second in a series of events known as "Resist Trump Tuesdays," planned by the group Fair Economy Illinois.

Perl says they're also demanding that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Speaker Michael Madigan tax corporations and those who make the most, to help fully fund public education in Illinois.

"In a perfect world and what we're fighting for, our campaign's demand, is fully funded higher education in the state of Illinois - that includes public colleges and universities, and a system in which those will be accessible for everybody, which includes undocumented students," she explained. 

DeVos' nomination cleared the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, despite fierce opposition from Democrats.

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American Red Cross Putting Out Urgent Call for Blood Donations

The American Red Cross is putting out a call for Blood Donations in February. According to a release from the Red Cross there is an urgent need for Blood Donations and with that the Red Cross is setting up a number of opportunities for people to donate including in Macomb. If you wish to donate blood the American Red Cross will be at Horrabin Hall on the Western Illinois University campus on February 16th from 11 Am to 4 Pm taking donations. If you don't want to wait you can contact the Red Cross right now at 1-800-Red-Cross to make an appointment to donate blood. 

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