Macomb Local News Archives for 2017-11

John Hallwas to be Parade Marshal for 2018 Heritage Days

The Macomb Heritage Days Committee has selected author, speaker, and historical activist John Hallwas as the parade marshal for the 2018 Macomb Heritage Days Festival. 
 
According to WIU archivist Kathy Nichols, who also specializes in the local and regional past, Hallwas is the most well-published historian in the history of not only our town and county, but the entire western Illinois region. In fact, with 28 Illinois-related books in print, introductions to half a dozen other books by Illinois authors, and seventy Illinois-based articles published in journals and magazines, he is the most widely published living author focused on our state. And that’s aside from his several hundred newspaper column articles, mostly on historical topics, that have appeared since 1980—in several papers. “On Community” appears in the Voice. He is also the author of four Illinois plays that have been performed in various towns, and he writes a column titled “Forgotten Voices from Illinois History” for Illinois Heritage magazine.
 
Hallwas has two degrees from WIU and, except for his two years of doctoral study in Florida, has been in town since 1963. He married a local girl, also a WIU student, Garnette Stockstad, in 1966, and they raised two sons while he taught at Western. After 34 years, he retired in 2004, but as many local residents know, he remains actively involved, on the state and community levels. His wife is also involved in several civic groups. 
 
Hallwas has won more than two dozen national, Midwestern, state, and local awards for his accomplishments—including the Faculty Service Award for Excellence in Adult-Education from the National University Continuing Education Association, the MidAmerica Award for Distinguished Scholarship from the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award for his work as a statewide speaker, the WIU Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award, etc. He is the only Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Western’s history, and the annual Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture is named for him. 
 
Also, two of his Illinois historical books, The Bootlegger and Dime Novel Desperadoes, were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. The former has become the most well-known book about McDonough County, and it inspired a recent documentary film. The latter won the Midland Award (“Best Book from the Midwest”) in Biography. Other books of his have won awards for excellence as well, including Macomb: A Pictorial History. 
 
Hallwas has also done a dozen programs for local/regional and state television, such as A History of Western Illinois University (2008), Macomb’s Historic Places (2009), Macomb’s Historic Homes (2011), and Macomb in the Sixties (2017). A new TV program, intended for a statewide audience, titled A Sense of Place in Illinois—with Writer John Hallwas, will be released early in 2018. 
Hallwas has spoken in well over 100 Illinois communities, commonly on Illinois-related topics, like “Small-Town Culture in Illinois,” “Lincoln’s Great Speeches,” “The Mormon Era at Nauvoo,” and “The Literature of the Illinois Frontier.” And he has taught dozens of Elderhostel and LIFE Adult-Education classes related to local and regional history. (He will present a special, Bicentennial-related talk in our town during 2018.)
 
His wide-ranging historical activism has also been unmatched in our community, and that includes being a past president of the McDonough County Historical Society, a co-founder and president of the Western Illinois Regional Studies Association, a co-founder of The Friends of Oakwood Cemetery, a co-chairman of Heritage Days, the chair of the Advisory Committee of the Illinois State Historical Library (now the Lincoln Library), a member of the Advisory Board of the Illinois State Historical Society, etc. 
 
Hallwas was the originating voice (as well as the dedication speaker) for the modern WIU Soldiers’ Memorial, erected on campus in 2010, and the Women’s Social Service Memorial, erected in Chandler Park by the Women’s Club in 2015. And he has been the speaker for several historical re-dedication ceremonies—of City Hall, the Public Library, etc.—as well as the leader of many tours—of the historic downtown, Oakwood Cemetery, Western’s Sherman Hall, and the Compton Park neighborhood. (He will lead a tour of notable early graves at Oakwood Cemetery in the spring of 2018, when it receives a state historic site designation.) 
 
Although he has published on many famous Illinoisans, such as Chief Black Hawk, Abraham Lincoln, Robert G. Ingersoll, Jane Addams, and Carl Sandburg, Hallwas has also used his local history books and newspaper articles to call attention to hundreds of Macomb-area people of the past. So, his work has deepened the scope and significance of our local heritage. 
 
As Mayor Mike Inman said of Hallwas when presenting him with the first Macomb Cultural Achievement Award a couple years ago, “He has broadened our local understanding and fostered awareness of the meaning of the Macomb experience,” and “he has been a proponent of community and social commitment with an impact on our whole region.” 
 
So, as the Heritage Days Committee looks ahead to the Illinois Bicentennial year, they feel that selecting Hallwas as the 2018 Heritage Days Parade Marshal is a fine way to emphasize the historical character of Macomb—and our place in the state’s cultural heritage. 

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Illinois Harassment Task Force Struggles to Answer Question: "Who do Lawmakers Answer to?"

In the first meeting of the legislators tasked with reforming their own sexual harassment procedures, there were many more questions than answers. The biggest question was about who was responsible for lawmakers when they’re the harassers.
 
The Sexual Harassment Task Force was created in reaction to reports of rampant sexual harassment against lawmakers and others in Springfield. The first meeting was held Wednesday. Lawmakers asked the advocates and officials about what they should do to manage the behavior of elected officials. Suburban Chicago Republican Margo McDermed’s corporate background made her wonder who lawmakers answered to in terms of professional conduct.
 
Springfield Republican Tim Butler questioned how much punishment the General Assembly can deal before running up against Constitutional protections.
 
Ultimately, no action was suggested. The task force will meet again in December and is slated for coming up with recommendations by December 2018, after next year's midterm elections.

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Maple Avenue Christian Church Taking Reservations for Annual Christmas Eve Dinner

The Maple Avenue Christian Church is once again serving the Macomb community with its annual Christmas Eve Dinner. For the twelfth consecutive year, the church will take reservations for free delivery, carry-out and dine-in meals on Christmas Eve. 

 

MACC will serve a dinner of ham, potatoes, green beans, rolls and dessert that day. Delivery and carry-out will run from 3:30-5:00 p.m. Dine-in at the church at 1300 Maple Avenue in Macomb will go from 5:00-6:00 p.m. The dinner will be followed by a 6:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Service at MACC. 

 

To make a reservation contact the church at (309) 837-9318. Reservations must be made by December 18. For more information visit the church's website and the MACC Facebook Page

 

You can listen to my interview with Maple Avenue Christian Church Senior Minister Donnie Case here

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Illinois Congressmen Speak Out Against Proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rule

The government agency responsible for protecting consumers is trying to make millions of homeowners’ sensitive data public.
 
In its proposed 2018 rule changes, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to add more reporting requirements when a homebuyer gets a mortgage. The requirements that have been in place since the 1970’s are meant to root out discrimination but critics say too many banks are exempt from it to be effective.
 
Illinois Congressman Randy Hultgren says the new disclosure rules would require banks to make enough information public that it puts homebuyers at risk of identity theft, especially with seniors.
 
He also says the CFPB has a long track record of abuse and should be held more accountable.
 
The National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions has come out against the proposed change as well. In a letter to the bureau, the association said expanding the disclosure requirements would put an even bigger burden on its members, as well as heighten the risk of fraud and identity theft.

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Macomb Woman Killed; Rushville Woman Airlifted in Fulton County Crash

A two vehicle head on collision on U.S. Rt. 24 in Fulton County Tuesday left one woman dead and another airlifted to OSF St. Francis Hospital. The Fulton County Sherriff's office announced today that Doris K Setser, 82, of Macomb was killed in the crash. Lori B. Harmon, 52, of Rushville, was airlifted from the scene. Her condition is known at this time. 

 

At approximately 2:39 p.m. on Tuesday, Setser was operating a 2003 Buick Rendezvous traveling westbound on Rt. 24 west of Chaney Road. Her vehicle traveled into the eastbound lane, striking a 2000 Chevy Silverado 1500, which was driven by Harmon. Setser was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fulton County Coroner. Harmon was transported to OSF via lifelight. A dog in the Harmon vehicle was injured and transported to a local veterinarian, where it later died due to its injuries. 

 

The crash remains under further investigation. 

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More Pension Costs Brings Angst From Both Sides

Illinois lawmakers will have to pour over a half billion dollars more than last year into the state’s retirement accounts in their next budget. The rapidly growing number has both sides of the aisle asking for some sort of pension reform.
 
A November report by the nonprofit Civic Federation estimates that Illinois lawmakers will have to make an $8.4 billion pension contribution in their next budget. With an estimated 89 percent of that figure coming out of the General Revenue Fund, that is a quarter of the state’s budget and $589 million higher than the current minimum contribution.
 
Members of the House Personnel and Pensions Committee are concerned about it crowding out state services, but their hands are constitutionally tied when they look to fix it.
 
State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside and vice-chair of the committee, worries that the growing obligation puts the state in a tough spot, but he said the promises were made and lawmakers now need to find a better solution.
 
“It puts an additional strain on a likely strained budget process,” he said. “We do have to maintain our commitments, but it really does create a difficult dynamic for us.”
 
State Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine and the committee’s GOP spokesman, calls the growing cost evidence that raising taxes isn’t going to solve the state’s financial woes.
 
“Our real solution is comprehensive pension reform as they’ve done in other states,” Morrison said. “We have got to be honest with our taxpayers and public employees alike in that we are in a system that isn’t sustainable.”
 
Illinois lawmakers placed a historic tax increase on businesses and individuals in July when they voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a $5 billion tax hike.
 
Illinois’ pensions are protected from any cuts by language in the state's Constitution. In recent years, lawmakers have passed laws to reform the state’s pensions but have been shot down in court. Morrison said the only way the state will get out from under the growing pension burden is to change the state’s governing charter to allow for changes to state pensioners’ plans. This is akin to what a number of other states have done in the last decade, including California in 2012.

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Illinois Congressman Won't Seek Re-Election to One of Nation's "Safest" Seats.

One of the nation’s safest Congressional seats is up for grabs after a 13-term U.S. representative from Illinois abruptly announced he would vacate it.
 
First elected to Congress in 1992, Chicago Democrat Luis Gutierrez now says he will not seek re-election. In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Gutierrez wouldn’t give a reason for giving up the seat.
 
“I’m in such a good place today. It’s time,” he said. “I’m not leaving when I’m 85 and on a respirator.”
 
Less than 24 hours after his announcement, Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia announced they’re looking to replace Gutierrez. Garcia received Gutierrez’s endorsement Tuesday. Others are reportedly also weighing their chances to win one of the safest Democratic congressional seats in the nation.
 
According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, the 4th Congressional district is heavily Democratic, and only 17 other U.S. House seats are more firmly blue. Since 1992, Gutierrez received more than 75 percent of the vote in every general election, if he was challenged at all.
 
The district has been at the center of the country's gerrymandering debate since it’s odd shape resembles that of a horseshoe and is only as wide as an interstate in one section.
 
Defenders of partisan map-drawing say the irregular district connects two areas of largely Latin American descent, thus complying with the Voting Rights Act.
 
Gutierrez has been arrested multiple times for illegal protests, often in support of immigrant rights. He was also part of the group of lawmakers that filed articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
 
Gutierrez wouldn’t reveal what his next steps were but he did rule out runs for Chicago mayor and Illinois governor. He said he would travel the country as well as focus on the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, where his family originates.

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Quincy Veterans' Home Legionnaires' Disease Update

One resident at the Illinois Veteran's Home in Quincy was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease over the weekend. The resident was diagnosed while being treated at a local hospital and has since been released.  

 

The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) and Illinois Department of Public Health are working with with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Adams County Health Department to help ensure the safety and well-being of the residents and staff at the home.

 

This is not the first time the home has been plagued by Legionnaires' disease. Two years ago, twelve residents at the Illinois Veteran's Home were killed by the disease while 54 were sickened by it. 

 

The IDVA said in a release:

 

"The IVHQ completed an extensive renovation of its plumbing systems last year in response to the 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.  Renovations included construction of a water treatment plant capable of providing higher-quality water for the Home’s sensitive population.  IDVA continues to test and treat its water for harmful bacteria, including Legionella.  Along with additional chlorine treatments, IVHQ maintains hot water at 150 degrees to prevent the growth of Legionella.  Hot water is then mixed with cold water to a temperature of 110 degrees, which allows for the maximum control of bacteria while protecting residents from scalding."

 

Per the release: 

 

"The CDC reports there has been a rise in the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease over the past 15 years, with 6,000 cases reported nationwide in 2015. Approximately 300 cases are reported each year across Illinois."

 

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Attorney General Madigan Files New Supreme Court Brief Opposing Third Travel Ban

(Release from Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office)
 
On Monday Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on opposing the federal government’s third travel ban and the Department of Justice’s application for a stay of a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of that ban.
 
The amicus brief, filed in Trump v. Hawaii, urges the Supreme Court to reject the Department of Justice’s emergency stay application, which seeks a complete stay of the Hawaii district court’s preliminary injunction against the third travel ban. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently declined to stay the portion of the injunction that prevented the federal government from implementing the third ban against individuals from six predominantly Muslim countries who have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. 
 
In part, the brief states: 
 
“All of amici States benefit from immigration, tourism, and international travel by students, academics, skilled professionals, and businesspeople. The disputed provisions of the Proclamation – like the previous bans – significantly disrupt the ability of our States’ public universities to recruit and retrain students and faculty, impairing academic staffing and research, and causing the loss of tuition and tax revenues, among other costs. The Proclamation also disrupts the provision of medical care at our hospitals and harms our science, technology, finance, and tourism industries by inhibiting the free exchange of information, ideas, and talent between the designated countries and our States, causing long-term economic and reputational damage. In addition, the ban has made it more difficult for us to effectuate our own constitutional and statutory polices of religious tolerance and nondiscrimination.”
 
Attorney General Madigan has condemned the federal immigration executive orders and has filed 17 amicus briefs in five separate lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the travel ban executive orders.
 
In addition to Madigan, the brief was joined by the attorney generals of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.

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State of Illinois Bicentennial Year

 
Come out and help McDonough County raise the flag to celebrate the State of Illinois Bicentennial Year. The raising of the flag will begin Monday, December 4th at 11:45 am on the lawn at the McDonough County Courthouse.  There will be a musical performance by the Macomb High Madrigal Singers and plenty of refreshments provided by Pepsi services. Admission is free to the public.

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Free Diabetes Screening Event in Manito

Studies have shown that Diabetes impacts almost 30 million Americans. November is National Diabetes Awareness month and what better way to spread awareness than getting screened for this common disease. Thanks to the help of Assistant House Minority Leader, Norine Hammond, and other medical associates, there will be a free diabetes screening event this Wednesday, November 29th from 11am-1pm. The Lodge at Manito Assisted Living and Memory Care Community will host the event and Manito Medical Associates will conduct the screenings.  
 
The event is free to the public and community members are highly encouraged to go.  Out of the 30 million Americans affected by diabetes, about 7 million estimated cases are undiagnosed. For more information please contact Norine Hammond via her legislative website.

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Plymouth Man Charged with Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse

According to McDonough County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker, a McDonough County man was charged with Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse for improper touching of two children at his mother's daycare. 
 
The sheriff's office announced Monday that, Nathan Henness, 30, of Plymouth, Illinois, was arrested November 21. VanBrooker said the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is still investigating. 
 
VanBrooker said the incidents happened at Country Care Daycare at 1880 N. 450th Road in rural Plymouth. The incidents allegedly took place between 2014 and 2017, and involved two children less than 10 years of age. Henness is charged with seven counts of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse.
 
 

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WIU Office of Public Safety Report 11/22-11/27/17

On Nov. 27 at 4:37 a.m. Ryan Toomey, 20, of 1114 Thompson Hall, was arrested in Thompson for burglary and illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor. He was lodged in the McDonough County Jail at 5:17 a.m. pending bond.

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Driver in Fulton County Single-Car Fatal Crash Identified

Fulton County Sherriff Jeff Standard has announced that Jackie Wetterauer, 58, of Mapleton was killed in a single car crash, which occurred at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

 
Her car crashed and caught fire while traveling east on Illinois Route 9 between Cemetery Road and Monterey Road near Canton, according to authorities. The cause of death was determined to be smoke inhalation, resulting from a car fire at the scene. 
 
Her 2004 Chevrolet four-door car left the roadway and traveled down a ravine. Witnesses and rescue personnel made several attempts to get her out of the car but could not when it became engulfed in flames, according to the news release.
 
Fulton County Coroner Steve Hines conducted the autopsy and identified the deceased. 
 
 
 

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CEO Survey: Illinois Third-Worst State for Business Since Great Recession

It’s been a decade since the financial crisis. Since then, Illinois has garnered a name for itself as one of the worst locations to do business in the country among American CEOs.
 
Development Counsellors International asks hundreds of corporate executives every three years what they think of each of the 50 states. The three surveys since 2008 have seen Illinois’ standing fall to nearly the bottom of their rankings in places they would choose to expand their business.
 
DCI President Andy Levine says the state was once much better regarded but no more. Illinois had only shown up once among the worst states before the recession. In the three reports since – 2011, 2014, and 2017 – the state placed firmly in third. 
 
At most, 34 percent of the executives asked said Illinois was worse than California and New York. The two coastal states have traded first and second place for two decades, largely due to their high costs of living and tax burdens. In 2011, nearly a quarter of those asked thought Illinois was the worst state in the country to do business. The next two surveys saw 34 and 20 percent of CEOs of the same opinion. 
 
DCI President Andy Levine said the last three surveys show executives’ opinions of Illinois have soured.
 
“Perceptions of Illinois have gone down rapidly in the last 10 years,” he said. “Twenty-nine percent rank Illinois the worst state, only better than California and New York.”
 
Levine said a unique problem that harmed Illinois’ standing with job creators was political dysfunction.
 
“Perceptions of Illinois’ public sector is completely in the toilet right now,” he said. “And the negative perceptions of the public sector are very strong.”
 
Illinois' politicians haven't helped to ingratiate themselves with these executives in recent years. Corporate and personal income tax hikes in 2011, billions of dollars of overspending in the years lawmakers failed to pass a budget, and the continuing pattern of unbalanced budgets that have been decades in the making all give credence to their opinions of the state's public sector dysfunction. In that time, little to no pro-growth reforms have become law, which was a central tenet of Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign. 
 
Respondents to the most recent survey reacted positively to the creation of Intersect Illinois, a state-affiliated group helping to negotiate business incentives with the state. The state’s workforce, Levine said, is still highly regarded amongst the c-suite, just not enough to get past their opinions of the public sector.
 
 

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Illinois Department of Natural Resources Urging Hunters to Keep Safe

The second portion of Illinois’ seven-day firearm deer-hunting season starts Nov. 30 and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are urging hunters to keep safe.
 
Ed Cross, director of communications for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said tree-stand safety is important and hunters should check their stand’s condition before using it.
 
Cross also said hunters should always make sure their gun is unloaded at the end of the day.
 
Hunters will be back out in the fields across Illinois next weekend to close out shotgun deer season. 

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Illinois' Stagnant Sales Tax Revenues Indicator of Flat Economic Activity

The state of Illinois is collecting more from you and your businesses’ income, but the indication from other revenue sources is the state’s economy is flat.
 
Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability Revenue Manager Jim Muschinski said individual income tax revenues are up from the year before, as are corporate tax receipts. The increased revenue is mainly from state lawmakers increasing income taxes over the governor’s veto. Muschinski said those aren’t the numbers to look at for an indication of economic health.
 
Tax expert Michael Leonard said Illinois lawmakers know the state’s economy is stagnant but real solutions aren’t advancing.
 
Muschinski said expect to see continued low growth in Illinois in the near term.
 

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WIU to Screen 'He Named Me Malala' Tuesday, November 28

The Western Illinois University Center for International Studies and the WIU Women’s Center will screen the documentary "He Named Me Malala" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28 in the University Union's Sandburg Theatre.
 
Following the screening, a discussion will be held.
 
Malala was raised in Pakistan, and was shot by the Taliban after becoming an advocate for education for women. She survived the attack and continues her fight around the world for education.
 
This event is open free to the public.
 
For more information about Malala, visit malala.org.

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Fraternal Order of Eagles to Provide Annual Thanksgiving Dinner in McDonough County

The Fraternal Order of Eagles have been providing Thanksgiving Dinner to McDonough County residents for over three decades. This Thanksgiving marks the 32nd annual Thanksgiving Dinner sponsored by the Eagles Club. 

 

Dinner will be served in the Eagles Club Banquet Room at 590-2 Deer Road in Macomb from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. They will also deliver meals within the community. If you'd like to make a reservation for a certain time to eat with your family or group. To make a reservation or place an order for delivery, please call Aerie at (309)-833-5111. 

 

The dinner is made possible by donations from the community. Suggested donation items are: turkeys, bacon, butter, ready to serve pumpkin pies, milk, onions, green beans (#10 cans), cool whip, corn (#10 cans) and monetary donations.

 

If you would like to donate your time to help with the meal, serve or deliver contact the Eagles Club at (309) 833-5151. 

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Vicious Cycle: Large Pension Debts Making it More Expensive to Borrow Funds

Post-recession America’s states and cities are paying for their negligence in funding their pensions. That’s according to a new study.
 
The study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has estimated a cost to states and local governments when they borrow money and also have a high amount of pension debt. In cities, they estimate the interest paid on a bond is around eight points higher than it would be otherwise. States paid seven points more. Center assistant director J.P. Aubry says these seemingly small percentage points are actually significant.
 
He also says bond agencies have begun using the poor pension management as an indicator of poor governance. Illinois has an estimated $130 billion in unfunded pensions liabilities.

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Food Safety is Not the Only Health Concern During Thanksgiving

It’s not just food safety you need to be worried about for the holidays. You should also be mindful of the common cold.
 
Illinois public health officials are out reminding people to be careful when preparing holiday meals. Some of the reminders the Illinois Department of Public Health put out include; cleaning hands and cooking surfaces, separate raw meats from other items, cook foods to the proper temperature and chill foods promptly.
 
Dr. Angela Golden from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners said protecting yourself from influenza is also important
 
Golden said it’s also important to know your dose when it comes to over-the-counter cold remedies and medicines.
 
 

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Macomb Chamber Welcomes Top Shelf Barber Shop

The Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed a new member today, Wednesday, November 21st. Top Shelf Barber Shop is now open at 133 South Randolph Street Suite 211. The owner of Top Shelf, Joe Gilson welcomed representatives of the Macomb Chamber for a ribbon cutting today to make the opening official. Gilson, a stylist as well as the owner of the shop, is former Macomb resident who has returned home after spending several years in Chicago. Top Shelf Barber Shop specializes in on-trend haircuts, razor design work, hot lathers, straight razor shaves and more.

For shop hours and appointments, please call (309) 333-5174 or find them on Facebook and Instagram.

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Illinois High Speed Rail Delayed

It's going take a little longer to get the Amtrak trains in Illinois to go a little faster. But one rail expert says people shouldn't get too excited for when high speed rail does, eventually, launch in Illinois.

It's now going to be sometime in 2018 before Illinois says Amtrak will be ready to unleash high speed rail along the corridor between Chicago and St. Louis.

The Illinois Department of Transportation last week said a delay is pushing back the launch date til after the first of the year.

But Randall O'Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, said people shouldn't get their hopes up for 110 mile-per-hour service – not in 2018, and not ever.

"Currently, the trains between Chicago and St. Louis go an average of 52 miles per hour," O'Toole said. "They're promising to get them up to 63 miles per hour. Maybe."

O'Toole said much of the problem lies in the nostalgic feelings for passenger trains.

O'Toole added that is silly for two reasons. One, the government didn't spend about $2 billion in Illinois to prop-up the vinyl record or typewriter industry. And two, there are already quick, easy, and cheap ways for people to get from Chicago to St. Louis.

"I-DOT admits that 99 percent of the traffic between Chicago and St. Louis is by either automobile or air," O'Toole said. "So when they say, 'We're going to give people more options.' Yeah, but they're not going to give people good options. They're going to give them expensive options."

Illinois started work on the high speed rail corridor in 2010. 

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State Rep Norine Hammond Honored with Township Award

State Representative Norine Hammond of Macomb has been honored by Township officials with their President's Award. Township Officials of Illinois made the announcement officially on November 13th that Representative Hammond would be honored for her dedication to local government. “Representative Hammond is a true champion of local government. As a former Township official herself, she truly understands and appreciates the importance of Township government. I could think of no one more deserving of the TOI Presidents Award,” said TOI Executive Director Bryan Smith. Representative Hammond served as Emmet Township Trustee from 2002 to 2006 and was Emmet Township Supervisor from 2006 to 2014. 

 

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A Closer Look at Illinois 10 Year Manufacturing Statistics

In the decade since the beginning of the Great Recession, Illinois’ manufacturing industry has yet to recover. Advocates say the state’s policies are to blame. In December 2007, Illinois was home to 669,000 manufacturing workers. Today, there’s 97,000 fewer manufacturing jobs, according to October Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. States around Illinois have all regained most of the durable goods-producing jobs lost since the financial crisis sent the economy into a tailspin. Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said other states have enacted policies that attract businesses.

“Our surrounding states are moving forward aggressively while we fight rearguard actions from getting even worse,” he said. “It’s really that gap between Illinois and our competing states that is the saddest state of affairs.” Both Maisch and Illinois Manufacturers Association Vice President Mark Denzler say that failure to pass right-to-work laws that ban forced unionization have put Illinois at a competitive disadvantage. “A number of other states have enacted right-to-work policies or they’ve cut regulations while Illinois has increased taxes and increased regulations,” Denzler said. In turn, “all of the states around us are growing tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs while we’re losing jobs.”

The job losses have likely accelerated the population losses in the state as well, Denzler said. Illinois’ population shrank by 37,000 in 2015, according to IRS figures. From July 2014 to July 2015, 114,000 people left Illinois for other states. This is the first installment in a series of stories highlighting how Illinois has changed since the beginning of the financial crisis in the winter of 2007.

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Illinois to Remain Part of Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program

Despite a motion to withdraw, Illinois will remain in the interstate Crosscheck voter registration database. Illinois is a member of both the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program (Crosscheck) and the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). Both databases are used by various states, but not all, to compare voter registration information. The data is used to find if a voter is potentially registered in multiple jurisdictions. All of Illinois’ neighbors are members of Crosscheck with the exception of Wisconsin, which is a member of ERIC. But Crosscheck has come under fire for not being secure. The company has said it is in the process of updating its database protocols with enhanced security. Illinois State Board of Elections board member Charles Scholz motioned to withdraw from Crosscheck Monday during the board’s monthly meeting “because of my concern about the security of our voter file as used by other jurisdictions and the concerns about false positives being misused in other jurisdictions.” The vote failed on a 4 to 4 tie, meaning Illinois remains in Crosscheck. Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray said the Crosscheck system has been useful for his election authority. As to concerns Crosscheck is removing voters from the rolls, Gray said that’s not the case in Illinois. “We take the additional measure in Sangamon to default down to our voter verification program, more commonly known as Show Cause or purge process, that we’re required to by Illinois statute,” Gray said. That requires elections officials to send multiple correspondence to suspected double registrants before the voter file is purged, Gray said. Crosscheck does not have the ability to purge Illinois voters in the state’s decentralized election system. Before supporting a move to have Illinois end its membership in Crosscheck, board member William McGuffage shared his concerns about Kris Kobach’s involvement with the interstate voter database used to find invalid voters. “Mr. Kobach is running Crosscheck and he’s also the director of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” McGuffage said, “what I call the bogus Trump commission.” President Donald Trump announced the commission as a way to bring about better policies for election integrity. Critics contend it’s a political stunt and meant to disenfranchise voters. Logan County Clerk Sally Turner regrets the politicization of the debate. “What I don’t care for is hearing partisanship,” Turner said. “All of the county clerks and the elections authorities have one job to do and that is to make sure a voter is registered accurately and correctly.” Turner said Crosscheck is useful for border counties whose residents are more likely to move in between states.

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McDonough County United Way Joins the Global #GivingTuesday Movement

 McDonough County United Way has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community.  Support of McDonough County United Way means donations stay local, assisting 19 Partner Agencies in their fight to help more than 11,000 residents served each year. 
 
Occurring this year on November 28, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the US) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support. 
 
Those who are interested in donating through McDonough County United Way’s #GivingTuesday initiative can visit their website.
 
For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website, Facebook page or follow @GivingTues and use the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media. 
 

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MacombNewsNow Celebrity Interview Dr Henry Louis Gates Finding Your Roots

Dr. Henry Louis Gates is the host of the PBS series Finding Your Roots which is about helping people discover their heritage. Dr. Gates, a professor at Harvard, became fascinated by Geneology at an early age and carried that fascination into a show that has become incredibly popular for PBS, a show that has proven controversial for its Ben Afflect episode and heartwarming in other episodes including tonight's season 2 debut which helps to reunite Madam Secretary star Tea Leoni with the family she never knew she had. Dr. Henry Louis Gates spoke with Sean Patrick on the K100 Morning Show today. 

Click here for the interview. 

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Durbin and Duckworth want Rauner to weigh in on GOP tax plans

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are calling on Govenor Rauner to publically weigh-in on the Republican tax plans in the House and Senate and how these plans would impact Illinois families. The House passed its version last week while the Senate is working out its own version. Speaking Thursday, prior to the House vote in favor of the GOP tax plan, Rauner was staying mostly mum on the subject...
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Durbin and Duckworth say the House and Senate bills would finance massive tax cuts for the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans by raising taxes on millions of middle-income families and eliminating vital tax breaks for people in Illinois.

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Deep Southern Illinois Takes Another Jobs Hit

A major employer in deep southern Illinois is going to lay off 170 employees. Honeywell is idling a plant that converts uranium ore into uranium hexafluoride or UF6, a key ingredient in the enrichment of uranium that is used in nuclear power plants. The facility in Massac County is the only place in the United States where that work is done. Honeywell says a declining worldwide need for UF6 is causing the layoffs. According to a press release the plant will move to an idling phase and will be ready to restart if the UF6 market improves.

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Illinois corn touting more uses than just ethanol

Corn can produce anything crude oil can. That's what the Illinois corn industry is touting. And Rodney Weinzierl with the Illinois Corn Growers Association says it's more than just ethanol. He says starch from corn is the key driver and can be used in the production of tennis shoes.
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Weinzierl says a similar method is used for the production of degradable sutures used in the medical industry. 

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Enrollment Still Open for Medicare

There is still time left to sign up or enroll for Medicare. The process can be a bit daunting at times for seniors so the Department on Aging has more than 300 sites around Illinois offering free trained counselors to help in the process. Aging’s Sandy Leith says to start online at Medicare dot Gov and then sit down with a counselor if you still have questions on what plan is best for you.

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Seniors looking for a list of the sites where they can meet with someone should start at Illinois dot Gov slash Aging. The sign up period closes on December seventh.

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Durbin and Duckworth weigh in on Franken Scandal

Illinois' U.S. Senators aren't exactly giving their colleague Al Franken a free pass after claims Franken groped a female radio eleven years ago during a USO tour. Senator Tammy Duckworth says "These types of actions are simply unacceptable and should be reviewed by the Ethics Committee. Women across America should be able to feel safe in their workplace, and they deserve our support when coming forward with allegations of misconduct.” Senator Dick Durbin also weighed in. There is never an excuse for this behavior—ever. What Senator Franken did was wrong, and it should be referred to the Ethics Committee for review.

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Can Music Be Deterrent to Juvenile Crime?

There has been a dramatic drop in the number of young people being committed to prison in Illinois and across the nation.

Between 2006 and 2015, the rate of youths being sent to out-of-home placement by juvenile courts fell 50 percent, according to data recently released by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Illinois' numbers were well above that at 61 percent.

Advocates applaud those numbers and encourage more focus on treatment and diversion programs for young people who have gotten into trouble.

Victor Goines, director of Jazz Studies at Northwestern University, maintains music can help do that.

"Music makes better people, through discipline, through collaboration, through communication," he states. "So what I'm teaching to my students, it's all about learning how to make decisions, wise decisions that are not only just good for the individual but for a group of people, because that's some of the challenges we face in the world today."

The United States incarcerates more youths than any other developed nation and for longer periods of time, with no evidence that these efforts at correction make a difference.

Goines says in recent years, arts organizations have stepped forward to act as partners to bring positive youth development projects to juvenile justice.

Goines, a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and fellow musician Wynton Marsalis both travel to schools around the state to introduce children to jazz and to answer questions from them.

Goines says there was a time when children were encouraged to play, but now much of their free time is spent on smartphones, computers and television.

"It was something that actually sparked their minds in curiosity when they'd have to think and figure it out, try to figure it out in a way that's very creative instead of just sticking them in front of something that just told them what to do," he explains.

The juvenile justice report showed decreases in juvenile imprisonment of at least 50 percent in 24 states, and that's matched by a 49 percent drop in juvenile violent crime arrests over the same period.

Kentucky was the only nearby state that had a higher drop in juvenile incarceration than Illinois. Missouri was lowest in the nation.

 

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Social Security Offering Seniors Help With Prescription Drugs

According to 2016 data, 8.8% of Illinois seniors live in poverty, the 27th highest rate in the country. Open enrollment is underway for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug coverage portion of Medicare, and Social Security officials are reminding seniors of their program called 'Extra Help'.

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That's Jack Myers with the Social Security Administration who points out with Medicare Part D covering prescription drugs, 'Extra Help' helps reduce co-pays and deductibles.

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Visit socialsecurity.gov for the application or to find an office near you to contact to apply. Myers points out, Social Security cannot help seniors enroll in Medicare Part D prescriptions drug plans.

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Hunters Need to Register Deer Kills

It’s a big weekend for hunters. Firearm season opens across Illinois. And as hunters pick out the perfect spot for their deer stands the Department of Natural Resources is reminding them that they Click Here

That’s Ed Cross with IDNR. He also stresses firearm safety this hunting season. The second season is November 30 to December 3.

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Rep Hammond Joins Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Task Force

Macomb State Representative Norine Hammond has been appointed to join State Senator Jil Tracy on the Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Task Force. Hammond, the Assistant House Minority Leader, was selected by Minority Leader Jim Durkin to represent the House on the committee after Tracy was announced as one of 5 State Senate leaders who would be part of the bipartisan task force that will also include members of lobbying organizations and business leaders among others. Upon her appointment, Representative Hammond stated "“As both a member of the Legislative Ethics Commission and now this task force, I believe this is an issue we must address.  All persons must be respected in the workplace and our state government should strongly lead by example in this regard and end the culture that has brought about this unacceptable behavior,” said Rep. Hammond. The task force will make recommendations for potential legislation regarding sexual discrimination and harassmnent. 

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Macomb News Now Celebrity Interview Saoirse Ronan star of Lady Bird

The coming of age tale Lady Bird has emerged as the movie to beat at the Academy Awards this year. Written and Directed by Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird, a teenager growing up in Sacramento, California in the early 2000's. Lady Bird is searching for her identity and at war with her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf, over just about anything you can imagine. Saoise Ronan has been acting for 14 years having earned her break out role in the Academy Award nominated Atonement. Since then she's starred in The Lovely Bones, Hanna, and Brooklyn amongst other remarkable movies. It was a privilege to chat with Saoirse Ronan for this interview about Lady Bird. 

Click here for our our Interview. 

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Governor Rauner Signs Harassment Laws

Given a crisis the Illinois Legislature can react quickly and that’s what they have done to get laws passed to stem the tide of sexual harassment claims at the Capitol. The Governor signed legislation today (Thursday) that will require lawmakers, staff and lobbyists to go through training that is designed to recognize harassment and avoid actions that can be harassment. The bill also takes steps to better identify procedures for reporting harassment and the investigation of it.

Another bill signed today will extend the amount of time that Legislative Inspector General has to investigate claims of harassment. There are currently 27 claims at the office that have piled up for the 3 years there was no Inspector General investigate.
 

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Research: Ethanol Fueling Climate Change

The federal mandate to add ethanol to fuel has led to a big increase in climate-disrupting pollution, according to a new study.

The Renewable Fuel Standard requires about 17 billion gallons of ethanol, derived mostly from corn, to be blended into gasoline every year. Since 2007, that has led to the conversion of more than seven million acres of grassland and forest to agricultural production.

According to Seth Spawn, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, that conversion is releasing massive amounts of climate pollution into the air.

"We found that expansion caused emissions of almost 30 million metric tons of carbon per year," he notes. "That's roughly equivalent to emissions of 20 million cars."

Illinois farmland covers nearly 27 million acres, which is about 75 percent of the state's total land area and has over 72 thousand farms. The state is a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine.

Study co-author Tyler Lark says the conversions to cropland in the U.S. are similar to the clearing of tropical rainforest in Brazil. However, he notes that the carbon released there is mostly from trees and is easier to recapture.

"The emissions we see here in the U.S. are primarily from soil carbon stores, which can take hundreds of years or more to replenish and may never be fully restored," he laments.

Cropland expansion under the ethanol mandate also has led to the loss of natural habitat for monarch butterflies, ground-nesting birds and many other species of wildlife.

National Wildlife Federation president Collin O'Mara says the findings of the study send a clear message to lawmakers and the EPA.

"We have to act with purpose and urgency to fix the ethanol mandate and to confront climate change to protect our health, our environment, our economy and wildlife," he says. "We have solutions and it's absolutely time to use them."

He adds that delay will only make the problems worse and much more costly to solve.

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Durbin GOP Tax plan

Senator Dick Durbin blasted Senate Republicans for supporting what he calls a partisan tax plan. Durbin says the tax plan would noticeably hurt middle income families....
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Durbin says there will be greater problems down the road....
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Durbin says under the House Republican plan, which will be voted on this week, the medical expense deduction will be eliminated. He says that means seniors will no longer be able to deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses.

wfmb

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State Treasurer Endorses Pritzker for Governor

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker locks up another key endorsement in the race for Governor. State Treasurer Michael Frerichs endorsed him this (Wednesday) morning at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. The location was no accident......
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On the other end of the educational spectrum, Frerichs is saluting Pritzker for his support of early childhood education...
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Pritzker previously locked up the endorsements of Secretary of State Jesse White and Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

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Longtime trader expects boom with ag economy by 2019/2020

Is the agriculture economy ready for a boom? A longtime trader says yes. Jim Bower with Bower Trading in Lafayette, Indiana says it may not be this year, but it’s coming.
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Bower says either the stock market has to come down or commodity market has to go up because it’s the widest spread he’s seen in his 41 year career.

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Things to Know Before You Thaw Your Turkey

With Thanksgiving on the schedule for next Thursday, many families will enjoy the traditional turkey dinner. RaeAnn Tucker with the Henry and Stark County Health Departments says that proper thawing of the bird is essential to a good dining experience…

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Tucker also says that overnight slow cooking is not recommended as bacteria will have a chance to develop.

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Macomb Diamond Den Set to Close

Diamond Den, a staple of Macomb since 1980, is going out of business. Sue Melton, who started the Diamond Den with her late husband Bob 37 years ago, announced the closure via a press release on Wednesday, announcing that she was retiring from the jewelry business. In the release Sue Melton talked about all the lives that have been touched by Diamond Den products over 37 years saying “We are a happy business - everyone wins here! The gift giver and the recipient. We’ve been a part of so many of our customers’ important times in the lives,” she said.  The closing of the Diamond Den will mark one more opportunity for Sue and her family to touch the lives of customers who visit them one last time on the Macomb Square. Diamond Den is going to hold a going out of business sale and offering discounts to first time and long time customers on their remaining stock. 

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Brix Challenges Breaks Records for Humane Society of McDonough County

Final donation numbers in and it was a record year for the McDonough County Animal Shelter Brix Challenge. According to a release from the Shelter, this year's Brix Challenge raised more than $14,000. The Brix Challenge, initiated several years ago by Chris Brix, is a yearly fundraising challenge in which Mr. Brix challenges the McDonough County community to raise money for the Humane Society by promising to make a $1000.00 matched donation if the community can raise at least $1000.00. The community came in big this year with a final total of $14,515.00. The funds will go to help operations of the Humane Society of McDonough County, an almost exclusively volunteer program. 

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Gov Compares Mendoza To "Bank Robber Calling the Cops"

Billions of unappropriated spending was going on last fiscal year and lawmakers and the public just found out about it. Last week more than $2.8 billion in new unpaid bills showed up on the state’s ledger. That revelation had Comptroller Susanna Mendoza upset at the ability of Governor Bruce Rauner and the current administration to hide extra spending during the budget crisis. After a stinging rebuke on the spending and a veto override on a debt transparency bill Rauner fired back at the Comptroller

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Mendoza said in a statement that Rauner still needs to provide full details about when he knew about the unappropriated spending of $2.8 billion, what his plan is for taking care of it.

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National Weather Service Says La Nina Winter Developing, Bringing Varying Temperatures

The things happening at the equator this time of year can give weather officials a good idea of what will happen during the winter months. Chris Miller with the National Weather Service indicates the water temperature of the ocean near the equator can dictate the weather patterns La Nina and El Nino. He says right now La Nina is developing.

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According to Miller, a La Nina weather pattern will bring variable temperatures which could leave us with some nasty conditions when the precipitation comes around.

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Miller also notes La Nina patterns have already been showing up this fall with varied temperatures and precipitation.

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Macomb State Senator Jil Tracy Named to Sexual Discrimation and Harrassment Task Force

State Senator Jil Tracy is among four Republicans named to a task force on Sexual Discrimination and Harrassment Awareness. State Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady announced Tracy's appointment on Tuesday. Tracy along with State Senators Pam Althoff, Karen McConnaughey, John Curran and Dale Righter will serve on the task force alongside private sector leaders and advocacy group members with the goal of gauging the impact of Sexual Discrimination and Harrassment both from a legal and social perspective. Upon Senator Tracy accepting the appointment, Senator Brady said “This is an important first step in changing the culture in the Capitol,”. Brady continued “I applaud Senator Tracy for stepping up to the challenge, and channeling her passion for women’s issues and public service to better protect women in Illinois in and out of the office.”

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MacombNewsNow Celebrity Interview Jason Ritter Kevin Probably Saves the World

Jason Ritter is the star of the ABC television series Kevin Probably Saves the World which airs tonight on ABC at 9 Pm. Kevin Probably Saves the World stars Ritter as Kevin, a normal enough guy who comes across a meteor that imbues him with special powers. The meteor also happens to be an Angel and mentor to Kevin as he explores his newfound powers. Jason is the son of the late, great John Ritter and I couldn't help but ask him for a John Ritter story. 

Click here for the interview on the Regional Media Podcast Network 

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Bustos not a fan of GOP tax reform plans

Western Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos expressing deep reservations with the GOP House and Senate tax reform plans.
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Bustos says she doesn’t have a major issue with lowering the corporate tax rate, but she quote “doesn’t believe corporations should be treated like royalty and the rest of us like peasants.” 

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State Treasurer Mike Frerichs Was in Macomb Monday

Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs was in Macomb on Monday to meet with farmers and those interested in the future in farming in Illinois at Western Illinois University. The office of the Treasurer in Illinois has a great deal of responsibilities and the position touches on numerous issues in Illinois including intervening with drug companies regarding the opioid crisis by going after the companies profiting irresponsibly from the crisis. The office is also responsible for lost or unclaimed items in the state and has aided veterans who've lost medals over the years. Treasurer Frerichs addressed these and other issues in a visit with our Sean Patrick on Monday afternoon. 

Click Here for the interview.

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Social Security Helping Veterans Through Various Programs

Veterans Day is over but the Social Security Administration still has a few reminders for those who have served.

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That’s Jack Myers. He indicates if you were injured on or after October 1, 2001, you're claims are eligible to be expedited. Additionally, if you are on active duty but incapacitated, that doesn't mean you can't receive social security benefits.

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When filling out a disability application, Myers says to make a note on your application that you are veteran rated 100% permanent and total. 

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The future role of U.S. in NAFTA remains unclear

What’s the future role of the U.S. with the North American Free Trade Agreement? That’s a tough read says reporter Jenny Hopkinson. She covers the issue for POLITICO.
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NAFTA talks take place Wednesday in Mexico City with representatives from Mexico, Canada and the U.S. all scheduled to be in attendance. 

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Macomb Hardees Employees React to Unexpected Closing of West Jackson Location

17 employees of Hardees on West Jackson in Macomb were surprised to find they are looking for work today. Employees and customers arriving for the breakfast shift this morning found a crew on hand that had worked through the night to remove equipment and this morning, our Sam Kuperman captured video of the signs coming down at the location is directly across from the radio station on West Jackson in Macomb. General Manager Yvonne and Manager in Training Brooks, stopped by MacombNewsNow.com this morning and offered their reaction. According to Yvonne, the General Manager of the Macomb location, she was informed last night of the decision. 

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Brooks, a manager in training at the Macomb Hardees tells MacombNewsNow.com that employees from the location were completely blindsided by the closure. 

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Yvonne and Brooks talked about why they decided to speak up about the closing today and took the chance to praise the 17 now former employees and say goodbye to their loyal customers. 

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MacombNewsNow.com has reached out to Hardees Corporate officers in Peoria, Illinois for comment but have not received a response to the story as of 12 Noon. 

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IL Losing Jobs for Workers Without Bachelors' Degrees

While a bachelor's degree isn't the only path to a professional success, a report out today says non-degree holding workers in Illinois could use some more well-paid, blue collar jobs.

Researchers at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce looked at the number of good jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree in each state between 1991 and 2015. And they found nearly half of states were able to increase their numbers, but Illinois wasn't one of them.

Neil Ridley, state initiative director at the Center, said good jobs in blue collar industries in Illinois declined by 23 percent - losing about 244,000 jobs in manufacturing alone.

"Really, the losses of jobs in the blue collar industries, especially in manufacturing, really drove the decline," Ridley said. "The losses really outweighed any gains that took place in the skilled-services industries."

The report said skilled-services jobs, such as in healthcare, have risen by 8 percent in Illinois, but that's well below the national average. The number of good jobs for workers with associate's degrees has increased by 11 percentage points. But for those with only high school diplomas, there are fewer well-paid jobs today than in 1991.

Jobs consultant Meegan Dugan Bassett said there are some bright points for Illinois in the report. She noted the median income for people who have no bachelor's degree is higher than the national average, but she believes the state could really thrive if there were more opportunities.

"It would be really interesting to see if Illinois could potentially encourage more growth in businesses - or attract some business, too - that are providing these good jobs for people who maybe don't have money or the time to go back for a four-year degree," Dugan Bassett said.

Nearly 1-in-5 good jobs for workers without a B.A. in Illinois are in manufacturing, which is above the national average of 16 percent. Another 23 percent are concentrated in construction, transportation and utilities industries.

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Rauner taking veto session setbacks in stride

Gov. Bruce Rauner suffered a number of setbacks during the just completed veto session. Lawmakers achieved overrides on most of the votes taken, but Rauner is taking the votes in stride and he says he doesn't believe it indicates that GOP lawmakers are backing away from him a year before Rauner faces re-election....
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Ag Secretary Perdue conveys USDA priorities

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says increasing trade, having a legal agricultural labor workforce, and reigning in federal regulations represent the top three issues his department has prioritized. During a press conference Thursday held at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention in Kansas City, Perdue tried to calm farmer-fears that President Trump will pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement;

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Perdue says NAFTA negotiations, in his words, “may go to the brink,” but that ultimately the administration will secure a better trade deal that will include agriculture. On the challenge many farmers face to find a stable and legal source or labor, Perdue says U-S-D-A is working on that too;

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On regulatory reform, Perdue told farm broadcasters U-S-D-A has submitted several for review by the White House for possible repeal.

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Hy Vee to Serve Free Breakfast to Veterans on Veteran's Day

Macomb Hy-Vee is one of 246 Hy-Vee stores across the midwest that will be serving free breakfast to veterans on Veteran's Day, Saturday, November 11th. Hy-Vee stores across the midwest expect to serve more than 90,000 veterans breakfast between 6 Am and 10 Am on Saturday. As part of the celebration on Saturday, K100 will be broadcasting live and honoring our veterans by inviting them to tell their stories of serving their country. K100 will broadcast live from 7 Am to 9 Am to help get the word out and let vets know to come out for free breakfast, a small gesture of respect for the sacrifices our heroes have made for their country. Hy-Vee also will continue their ongoing Round Up for the Homefront fundraiser which has customers rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar and giving the difference to veterans charities.  The Round Up for the Homefront is going on now. 

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Housing Authority of McDonough County Seeking New Executive Director

The Housing Authority of McDonough County has announced that Executive Director Tina Oakenfuss has left her position. In a release on Thursday, members of the Housing Authority announced Oakenfuss's departure and the beginning of a search for a new Executive Director that will begin once a temporary Director is named. Oakenfuss presented her letter of resignation on November 7th. The next meeting of the Housing Authority is scheduled for Monday night at which time the search for a new Executive Director will be discussed. 

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Agrculture industry facing new challenges from expanding global environment

An ag economist says it’s a global environment for agriculture more now than ever and farmers are facing more challenges as a result. Bill Tierney is with Chicago based Ag Resource Company….
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Tierney has been following the commodity market for 30-plus years. He was in Kansas City this week for the annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention. 

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WIU Livestock Juddging Team having banner year

Western Illinois University’s Livestock Judging Team having a strong run. They’re coming off a fifth place finish at the American Royal in Kansas City last month. The WIU livestock judging coach is Mark Hoge.
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The Texas Tech team is coached by Aledo, Illinois native Jon DeClerck.

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Former Ag Secretary from Galesburg Backing Tax Reform Legistlation

Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary and Illinois native John Block wants to see a tax reform deal completed by this year. He’s hoping for repeal of the estate tax and a reduction in the corporate tax rate.
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Block served as the nation’s ag secretary during the Reagan administration. He was born in Galesburg and has a farm just outside of Knoxville.

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Macomb Park District Hiring New Full Time Superintendent of Events

The Macomb Park District is seeking applications for a full time opening. According to a release from the City of Macomb, the Macomb Park District is accepting applications to fill the full time opening for a Superintendent of Events. Applicants should be able to work a variety of hours, be self-motivated and well organized and be committed to commununity involvement. Responsibilities for the position include Operations, Budget Management, Personnel and other duties with the Recreation Department. You can find out more about the position of Superintendent of Events by going to MacombParkDistrict.com. Applicants must submit a resume and cover letter for consideration. 

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Two More Volunteers to be Honored from Original Flags of Love Celebration

Two more names added to Flags of Love celebration on Veteran's Day Saturday. According to a release from the City of Macomb, Robert Anstine and William Wayland will join Leland Tweed Mummert to be honored as members of the very first Flags of Love committee 40 years ago. All three men will be present on Saturday at 3:45 Pm. Mayor Inman will preside over the ceremony which will recognize the three volunteers as part of the 40th Anniversary celebration of Flags of Love prior to the final time the Flags will come down in Chandler Park, Saturday afternoon at 4 Pm. Weather permitting, the event will be in the Gazebo in Chandler Park. 

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Diesel Fuel Spill Temporarily Closed Portion of Randolph Street in Macomb

A portion of North Randolph Street in Macomb was closed on Wednesday following a small diesel fuel spill in the area of University Drive and Hickory Grove Road. A tractor trailer suffered a leak of diesel fuel forcing the temporary closure while crews cleaned up the street. Access to residences and businesses in the area, including the administrative offices of the Macomb Park District and accesss to the Macomb Country Club. The closure lasted from 9:30 Am to nearly 4 Pm. 

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Kennedy Calls Out State Leaders on Sexual Harassment Charges

The Illinois General Assembly took an aggressive stance on sexual harassment Tuesday but Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy said "what took you so long"....
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Kennedy says taking a soft line on sexual harassment makes it harder to draw the best and brightest....
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Many Factors Worldwide Playing Into Gas Price Spike at Home

Gas prices have taken a noticeable jump in recent weeks, and multiple factors are playing into the price increase. According to GasBuddy.com, gas prices are averaging at $2.70 a gallon in Illinois, up almost 20 cents from last week. That is up 52 cents from the same time last year.
Tim Sutton with Christian County F-S says many factors worldwide are making American oil more attractive to export.

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Sutton says once the supply of gasoline products gets back in line with the demand, he believes gas prices will drop considerably.

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llinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association promoting required dicamba training for 2018 use

Farmers planning to use crop protection products containing dicamba in 2018 must receive training prior to application. It's a new label requirement says Jean Payne with the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association.
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In addition to monetary penalties, Payne says a farmer could also lose his or her certified applicator license if using dicamba without required training.

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Vets Get Free Admin to Lincoln Museum

Vets looking for something a little different to do on Saturday can tour the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum for free. The downtown Springfield landmark will grant passes for vets, current service members and Gold Star families. Chris Wills with the museum says they will host a special speaker on November 11.

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The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs will be at the museum to get vets the latest information about programs and support they are eligible for.

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AG Madigan Joins Effort to Block Media Merger

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has joined colleagues from other states in the fight against a planned mega media merger. Madigan and fellow Attorneys General are appealing to the Federal Communications Commission to block the proposed merger between Sinclair and the Tribune Company. Madigan and her peers say the merger will hurt the public interest by decreasing consumer choices and reducing the diversity of voices in the media marketplace. The combined Tribune/Sinclair company would be able to reach 72 percent of U.S. television households, nearly double the legal limit of 39 percent. Sinclair owns and operates TV stations in Springfield and Champaign. 

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Tired Children? Could be Too Much Screen Time

If your children are falling asleep watching TV or with a cell phone tucked under the covers, they're probably going to bed later and getting much less sleep than children without access to electronic devices.

Monique LeBourgeois, lead author of a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, says children are uniquely vulnerable to sleep disruption from electronic screens.

She explains because the eyes of young children are not fully developed, the light from a screen has a bigger effect on their internal body clock.

"And many parents believe that media - like watching a video or playing a game - actually calms their children before bedtime, but in fact it may be the exact opposite and we may be creating the perfect storm to disruption of both the circadian clock and sleep," LeBourgeois explains.

Studies have found that screen time is associated with delayed bedtimes, fewer hours of sleep and poorer sleep quality.

A recent report from the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media showed use of mobile media devices has tripled among young children ages 5 to 16 in the past six years.

LeBourgeois says light is our brain's primary timekeeper, and when it comes to children and adolescents, self-illuminated devices such as smartphones, tablets and televisions bathe their eyes in blue light that can keep sleep at bay.

"So this immature eye allows more light to actually hit the retina that signals the internal biological clock," she explains.

LeBourgeois encourages parents to turn off their children's devices with screens before bed and charge them somewhere outside bedrooms.

She also says parents should set an example by keeping TVs, computers, tablets and cellphones out of their own bedrooms. 

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The Santa Zephyr Express Returning to Macomb December 1st

The Santa Zephyr Express returns to Macomb on December 1st. According to a release from the City of Macomb Downtown Development, the Santa Zephyr Express will travel from Quincy to Macomb, beginning in Quincy at 5 Pm and arriving in Macomb at approximately 6:18 Pm. Tickets to take the kids to see Santa's special train are $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for kids and can be purchased at the Macomb Amtrak station at the Margaret Roberts Travel Office. Time to meet Santa on his train is limited as Santa will head to his cabin on the south side of the square in downtown Macomb where he will be from 6:30 Pm until 8 Pm visiting with local children. For more information, call 309-837-4711. 

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Open House to be Held to Discuss Candy Lane Reconstruction in Macomb

The City of Macomb will hold a meeting on November 20th to discuss the reconstruction of Candy Lane. The project will extend from the intersection of Candy and Grant Street to the intersection of Candy Lane and US 67. The meeting is open to anyone who would like to attend and find out more about the project which was approved not long ago by the Macomb City Council. As part of the project, workers will remove existing pavement and drainage, construct new pavement and curb combination and gutter, install new inlets and storm sewer pipe, construct a multi-use path on the east side of the lane, install new culverts at Candy Lane and Piper-White Street and Jefferson Street Street Intersections and put in a new water main and sanitary sewer. The meeting regarding the Candy Lane project will be held in the Community Room at Macomb City Hall from 5 Pm to 7 Pm and will be attended by representatives of Maurer-Strutz Inc. out of Peoria and McClure Engineering of Macomb who will be responsible for completing the project. 

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October Goes Down as One of the Wettest

Farmers are struggling to harvest their crops this fall and homeowners are mowing their lawns more than they did in the summer. It’s all thanks to a wet fall. The Illinois State Climatologist reports October goes down as one of the 10 wettest ever. Jim Angel says that that average rainfall was about 5 inches.

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Snow flurries were reported in a few places

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Reaction to Gov. Rauner's harvest emergency declaration

Governor Bruce Rauner Sunday declared a harvest season emergency in the state, which allows farmers that secure permits to haul up to a maximum of 10 percent more than truck weight restrictions. Brent Riewerts who farms in Rock Island County, explains why farmers sought the action;

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Illinois Farm Bureau asked the governor to issue the declaration two weeks ago to provide relief from continued wet weather in some parts of the state and depressed commodity prices. REE-verts, who serves as vice president of the Rock Island County Farm Bureau, says the action could help some Illinois farmers;

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Farmers need to check with local road authorities whether they plan to issue harvest season emergency permits and whether those will be a blanket permit or individual permits.

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Gov Declares Harvest Emergency

Corn and soybean harvest is taking longer than normal this year. So the Illinois Farm Bureau asked the Governor to declare a harvest emergency. The declaration signed by Bruce Rauner allows farmers to add ten percent more weight in grain trucks that are headed local elevators or delivery points. Illinois Director of Ag Raymond Poe knows that every extra kernel on a truck helps speed harvest.

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Farmers still need a special permit to add the extra weight to their grain trucks. IDOT says they are ready to get those permits out. The Harvest Emergency is good for 45 days. Continued wet weather has hampered harvest around the state.

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Estate tax not only issue farmers are following in tax reform discussions

As tax reform debate heats up in the nation’s capital, agriculture groups are keeping a keen eye on the estate tax issue. A house GOP plan unveiled last week calls for complete repeal by 2024, but that’s not the only area farmers are interested in says Mark Gebhards with the Illinois Farm Bureau.
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The Senate is expected to release its tax reform plan later this week. 

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Durbin continues promotional push for ACA

Senator Dick Durbin continues to beat the drum for Illinoisans to sign up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The health insurance open enrollment period began November first and runs through December 15th. Durbin says he's promoting ACA enrollment because he says President Trump's worked to make the Affordable Care Act a secret....
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Durbin has spent some time on the subject with a recent report he produced – “1,000 Cuts: A Report on the Trump Administration’s Health Care Sabotage” – which outlines what he calls the Trump administration’s deliberate efforts to undermine the ACA. 

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Rauner has GOP competition

In sports they say you can't look ahead to a future opponent. Likewise, Governor Bruce Rauner now has some unfinished business before he gets to a November faceoff with Democrats. State Representative Jeanne Ives says recent high profile decisions by Rauner led her to jump in the race...
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Ives says she is running because of a growing call for an alternative for next spring's primary....
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The Wheaton Republican and West Point grad is in her third term in the General Assembly.

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IL Lawmakers to Attend Sexual-Harassment Awareness Training Veronica Carter

State lawmakers in Illinois will have to attend sexual harassment awareness training. This after Majority Caucus Chair Ira Silverstein resigned from the Senate Democratic leadership team last week.

Victims' rights advocate Denise Rotheimer accused him of harassing her, saying Silverstein used "power" and "mind games" against her and made comments about her appearance. Colin Williams, policy director for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said awareness training is a first step, but state lawmakers need to take a stand and pass laws addressing both prevention and punishment.

"Especially the male legislators [need] to make a commitment to a proactive, transparent plan for preventing sexual harassment and addressing claims when they do arise," Williams said. "These changes can't just be a short-term movement; they have to be a long-term commitment to improving the climate in Springfield. "

Rotheimer questioned why her complaints about Silverstein went unanswered for so long, and said she thinks he should resign the Senate seat representing Chicago that he has held since 1999. Other political activists and lobbyists say they've also been harassed in Springfield.

There is an open letter circulating around Springfield to collect signatures from women who have experienced harassment and intimidation.

Williams said the old saying, "it takes a village" is true, and people must come together to prevent harassment. He said even though it's hard, people should speak up when they see others being harassed - even if what's being said or done is just on the borderline of being inappropriate.

"Even reaching out to someone and asking, 'Hey, did you feel uncomfortable when he made that comment to you?'" he said. "Some of the problem that we see isn't these extreme cases of an abuse of power, but it's these borderline situations where the person being targeted feels uncomfortable. "

Senate President John Cullerton said a professionally led sexual-harassment awareness training seminar will be held this week. Harassment claims in Illinois used to be investigated by the Office of the Legislative Inspector General, but that position has been vacant since mid-2014.

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Rep. Knows Of Culture of Harassment

The #metoo movement has made its way into Illinois politics. A week ago hundreds of women signed an open letter about a culture of harassment at the state house and this week a female lobbyist came forward and accused a Democratic Senator of harassing behavior. Representative Linda Chapa LaVia says she knows first-hand much of this behavior is tolerated.

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LaVia’s house committee advanced a bill that requires sexual harassment training for state politicians, staff and lobbyists. The bill should be voted on next week.

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Rural economic development opportunities

A group of Illinois farmers and their counterparts from Germany shared ideas recently on how both might be able to grow income by generating energy on farms. Illinois Farm Bureau and the Chicago-based German American Chambers of Commerce held a rural energy and economic development roundtable in Bloomington. Jochen Oestmann farms in northern Germany and generates renewable natural gas on his farm;

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Laws in Germany requires utility companies to buy most energy generated on farms and OOST-man says it adds to his revenue stream. Champaign County farmer Eric Rund shared his experience growing miscanthus gigantus and you guessed it -- it's a tall grass that can be cleanly burned to create energy;

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Rund has a new customer for his MIS-can-thus. The University of Illinois imported a boiler from Germany that can burn the tall grass and heat a greenhouse on the Urbana-Champaign Energy Farm.

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Flags of Love 40th Anniversary to Honor Leland Tweed Mummert

The Macomb Flags of Love committee will be meeting at the gazebo in Chandler Park on Veteran's Day. Saturday, November 11th to commemorate the folks who made Flags of Love possible 40 years ago. The committee will unveil a plaque for original Flags of Love committee member Leland Tweed Mummert. The ceremony honoring Leland will be at 3:45 Pm and will be presided over by Mayor Mike Inman. Everyone is encouraged to attend and help honor Leland for his tireless efforts to help launch Flags of Love. 

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Regional Media BusinessCast Susan DeRoos OrganizeU

The latest edition of the Regional Media BusinessCast features Sue DeRoos proprietor of the business OrganizeU. OrganizeU grew out of Sue's desire to help people achieve Organization, something that people and even businesses take for granted. Sue teaches individuals and businesses about best practices for being organized and how organization can improve every aspect of life from mental health to physical health. Sue was our guest for the latest Regional Media BusinessCast. 

Click here to download the interview. 

Click here to stream courtesy of the Regional Media Podcast Network. 

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Keeping Illinois competitive

 Illinois farmers that want to stay competitive with their South American counterparts have an opportunity to get an up close look this winter. Illinois Farm Bureau plans to organize an issues study tour to Argentina and Brazil starting in late January through early February. I-F-B Senior Director of Commodities, Tamara Nelsen, explains what the organization and Illinois farmers want to explore;

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Illinois farmers that want to venture to the two South American countries must commit to doing some homework before and share what they've found when they return;

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If you farm and want to participate in the Farm Bureau Issues Tour to Argentina and Brazil, contact your county Farm Bureau for details on how to apply. You have about two weeks. The deadline is November 14th.

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Two More Students Report Sexual Assaults in WIU Residence Halls

The Western Illinois University Office of Public Safety is reporting that two students have reported having been sexual assaulted in WIU residence hall room. According to the latest University Safety Report for October 30th through November 1st. The report states that the women were assaulted by a male known to them in separate incidents that took place October 15th and October 29th. The WIU Office of Public Safety is investigating the incidents. This brings the number of reported sexual assaults in campus residence halls to five since the start of the school year. 

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Hedblade Named Executive Director of Macomb Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has announced the name their new Executive Director. Macomb native Jock Hedblade was announced in a press release on Wednesday as the new Executive Director replacing Nikki Grey who left the position in September. Hedblade's background is in media, he's worked the past several years in radio and in television in the Chicago market. Board Chairman Dave Dorsett said this in the release “On behalf of the Board, we are excited to have filled the position with someone with the drive and vision Jock has exhibited during the interview process.” Dorsett continued, saying “His hiring has been the result of a lengthy process that exposed us to numerous exceptional candidates. We believe this could be the start of an exciting new chapter for the agency and our service area”

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Enrollment Help For Medicare

Seniors can find free help during Medicare open enrollment. The Illinois Department on Aging says everyone should review their current plan and then Sandy Leith says if you need more assistance there are locations that are offering free visits with counselors to guide seniors through all of the paperwork.

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For a list of the more than 300 sites go to Illinois dot Gov slash Aging.

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Effort Under Way to Help New Moms Get Time Off Work

The Internet is helping new moms take more time off from work after giving birth or adopting a child.

The crowd sourcing network at MyTake12.com helps to financially support new mothers while they take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off work to recover and spend time with their babies.

The founder of the website, Margi Scott, says the goal is to address the country's lack of paid parental leave.

She notes that the United States in the only industrialized nation not to offer it, and says the idea came to her last year after having twins.

"What I wanted and needed more than anything was to be at home with my babies without feeling that financial stress of unpaid leave," she states. "And so, I just thought, wouldn't it be cool if we could - instead of a gift registry for stuff that we don't need - have a place where we could register for what we really do need, which is time to recover and bond?"

The website was retooled about three weeks ago and Scott says it now includes an online resource center for expectant and new moms. About 600 currently have registries on the site.

Scott says the research is clear that not only is leave beneficial for children, it's often crucial for a new mother's health. Yet on average, working women are back at work 10 days after giving birth.

"At 10 days postpartum, you're still at high risk for birth-related complications," she points out. "So, women are actually putting their health and their own self-care at risk, just to be able to continue to provide for their families."

Scott hopes one day the website won't be necessary and that parents have access to the paid leave they need. But she acknowledges it could take a while to get it right.

"Instead of just saying, 'Oh well, now people have some paid leave,' we really need to get down to the bottom of what sufficient paid leave looks like for healthier American families," she states.

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McAlister's Deli Coming to Macomb in 2018

A food chain with a rising nationwide profile is coming to Macomb next year. The Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation broke the news today via an email blast to members that McAlister's Deli will open a location in front of the Hampton Inn in Macomb, on East Jackson Street, next year. McAllistair's Deli has more than 400 locations in the United States spread over 28 states. The franchise specializes in affordable soups and salads and has chosen Macomb as part of a continuing strategy to spread the brand into college town markets. There is no exact date for the opening of the franchise, only that McAllistair's Deli is coming to Macomb in 2018. Macomb is the 18th Illinois location for McAllistair's Deli. 

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Speaker Says Sexual Harassment Needs to Be Addressed

In a House committee meeting yesterday a victims’ rights advocate who lobbies the Illinois legislature says she was sexually harassed while trying to do her job. Denise Rotheimer says that she was harassed in person, over Facebook and via phone by Democratic Senator Ira Silverstein. The allegations were made during testimony as a committee considered enacting annual sexual harassment training for lawmakers, staff and lobbyist. Speaker of the House Mike Madigan says there also needs to be a task force to address the environment at the Capitol.

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Silverstein has said what Rotheimer is alleging is false. But he says if he offended her he will apologize.

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