Macomb Local News Archives for 2018-06

Western Illinois Museum Welcomes The Corn Potato String Band

The Western Illinois Museum will be welcoming The Corn Potato String Band to Macomb on Sunday, July 1. The Detroit-based traditional American music duo of Lindsay McCaw and Aaron Lewis are known for their spell-binding reels, boisterous blues tunes, and even a bit of country gospel.


“What sets the music of the Corn Potato String Band apart is a deeply pervasive strain of soulful spontaneity,” Doug DeLoach wrote in his review for Songlines.


Pie will be served at 1:30 p.m. and the performance begins at 2 p.m on Sunday. There is a suggested donation of $5 at the front door. This is part of the Western Illinois Museum’s “Our Front Porch” exhibit, which allows people to learn about the history and experiences of their guests.


The Museum is located indoors at 201 South Lafayette Street, one block south of Macomb’s Courthouse Square. For more information, contact the Western Illinois Museum at 309.837.2750 or


For more information about the band and to listen to a sampling of their performance, visit their website at



Illinois State Fire Marshall Reminds You to Stay Safe this Summer

With summer in full swing so are summer activities. The Office of the State Fire Marshal

(OSFM) would like to remind residents to be safe this summer. “Safety should always be a priority when engaging in common summer activities,” said Fire Marshal Matt Perez. Here are some safety tips to remember when using barbecue grills, fire pits, and fireworks:


When grilling, propane and charcoal grills should only be used outside and should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under leaves and overhanging branches.


Keep your grill clean and remove all grease or fat build up. Both of these practices will help prevent accidental fires. Always make sure to watch children and pets around grills.


Be sure that campfires are at least 25 feet away from any clothing, debris or structure that can burn. Before you light campfire, make sure to clear away dry leaves, sticks, low branches and shrubs. Avoid burning on windy, dry days. Both can cause a fire that can get out of control quickly.


Never leave a fire unattended. Always make sure you have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel and dirt/sand nearby to put out a fire and be sure to it is completely out before leaving the site.


4th of July and Fireworks! It is important to remember that fireworks are dangerous and best left in the hands of those licensed to use them. Utilizing fireworks improperly can lead to accidental fires and injury.


An average of 18,000 fires are reported each year as a result of improper use of fireworks. Sparklers account for roughly one-quarter of fireworks injuries. They heat up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause severe burns if not handled with care. Never allow children to use fireworks. All adults must have a permit to use commercial fireworks.


More information and fire safety tips can be found on the Office of the State Fire Marshals website


Duckworth Helps Introduce Legislation to Decriminalize Marijuana at Federal Level

U.S Senator Tammy Duckworth joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, and Tim Kaine by introducing new legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would allow states to continue to decide how they will treat marijuana possession by removing marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act.


The Federal Government will still have the ability to prevent trafficking from states where marijuana is legal to states where it is not. The bill also makes new investments in public health and safety and preserves the federal government’s ability to regulate marijuana advertising – just as it does tobacco - so that advertisers cannot target children.


“Far too many Americans are currently incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses and they are disproportionally people of color, despite the fact that African Americans and Caucasians use marijuana at the same rates,” said Senator Duckworth.


The Senators’ legislation is designed to help communities that have been disproportionally affected by our current marijuana laws. It would authorize grants to help individuals seal or remove marijuana possession conviction records, and it creates a new funding stream to make it easier for women- and minority-owned businesses to enter the marijuana industry. The bill would also make new investments in research to better understand the effect of THC on both driving and public health - particularly in adolescents - and to determine the effectiveness of medical marijuana treatments.


“The time to decriminalize marijuana is now,” said Senator Schumer. “The new Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is about giving states the freedom to be the laboratories that they should be and giving Americans the opportunity to succeed in today’s economy.”


Fourth of July Food Safety

Whether you’re grilling out, packing a picnic, or getting a snack together to eat while you watch fireworks, there are some simple steps you can take that will reduce the chance of getting a foodborne illness. “One food safety essential is making sure food is at the proper temperature, whether it’s cooking it to the right temperature on the grill, or keeping it cold,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah.


There is a Danger Zone, when food sits at temperature between 40°F and 140°F, which is when bacteria grow most rapidly. Keeping at the proper temperature, making sure there is no cross-contamination, and keeping hands and utensils clean are key to avoiding foodborne illness. It can be difficult to keep food cold during the summer. Keep your cooler below 40°F is to pack beverages in one cooler and food in another. Chances are the cooler with the beverages will be opened much more frequently, causing the temperature to change, which would be bad for food.


Food should also be separated in the cooler: raw meat and poultry should be separate from fruits, vegetables, cheeses, salads, and even cooked foods. This will help avoid cross contamination.


The juices of raw meat can mingle with foods that are ready to eat and you could end up with a Salmonella sandwich instead of a hamburger on a bun. The cooler should be in the shade and out of the direct sun.


Whether you’re cooking on the grill or in a kitchen, make sure food reaches the proper

temperature. And don’t just eyeball the color of the meat. That doesn’t always indicate the level of properly temped foods. Use a meat thermometer.


145°F- whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal

145°F fish 160°F - hamburgers and other ground beef

165°F - all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs


Make sure to use clean utensils and clean plate when you take food off the grill. Using the same utensils and plate that you did for the raw meat could add an unintended E. coli marinade to your food. Clean your hands before preparing food and eating.


Also make sure all leftovers are refrigerated or put on ice within two hours after cooking, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 F. Don’t let that potato salad bake in the sun and become a source of sickness.


More food safety tips or information about foodborne illnesses and symptoms can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website 


Counselors Complete Bicycle Tour of Illinois' Colleges with Stop in Macomb

A group of high school counselors seeking to give their students firsthand advice about Illinois colleges pedaled into Macomb Tuesday afternoon. The group of seven ended a three-day, 170-mile bicycle tour of regional colleges and universities with their arrival at Western Illinois University.


The bicyclists visit included a campus tour, a reception with several WIU deans and administrators and Macomb Mayor Mike Inman and meetings with campus staff. The trip was organized by Fenton High School counselors, Paul Welsh and Sarah McDougal. Other counselor cyclists were Miles Katz, Beth McLaughlin, and Tiffany Kolb, Merle Wilder, and David Bennett.


“We wanted to provide the opportunity for Illinois counselors to see the schools their students attend, said McDougal. This gives in-state schools a chance to be highlighted, and it’s important for us to learn about these schools.” The cyclists were on a quest to learn what is unique about the WIU campus. “We want to give the schools an opportunity to showcase what they can offer our students,” said Welsh.


Katz said he was using the trip as a chance to improve his knowledge of Illinois schools and to train for the Chicago Marathon at the same time. “I have not been to any of

the four schools we visited, and our students apply to all of them,” he said. “It’s something unique. The knowledge we gained will be helpful to our students.”


Thursday morning the cyclists began their ride back to Peoria, where the trip began. Welsh said the goal is to make the Illinois Admission for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) Bike O’ Fun an annual event for counselors from around the state.


For more information about the WIU Admissions Office, visit


Duckworth Statement on Janus vs. AFSCME Supreme Court Decision

Following the Supreme Court decision in Janus v AFSCME, curtailing workers’ rights

and limiting the ability of public-sector unions to collectively bargain on behalf of their

members, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth released the following statement:


“As income inequality rises and middle-class wages lag behind, we need to do

everything we can to make it easier for working Americans to join a union and negotiate

for fair wages and a better workplace. Unfortunately, this decision by the Supreme

Court will do the opposite, overturning decades of precedent to make it harder for

unions to effectively protect and support working people trying to achieve their own

American Dream. I’m disappointed that the Court sided with the anti-union activists and

well-funded corporations who want to chip away at workers’ rights, but I will continue to

stand up to those who want to lower wages, roll back workplace protections and restrict

entry into America’s middle class.”


Duckworth recently joined a number of Senate and House Democrats in introducing the

Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act, which contains a number of much-needed reforms

that would make it easier for workers to form a union and collectively bargain for better

pay and safer working conditions.


Western Illinois University Board of Trustees Meeting

The Board of Trustees at Western Illinois University will be meeting at 9:30am on

Thursday, June 28 in the University Union Grand Ballroom. A scheduled closed session will begin at 8am for the purpose of considering matters provided for in 5 ILCS 120/2c, including personnel, collective bargaining, litigation and real estate, on Thursday, June 28 in the University Union Board Room.


The Board is meeting to consider a staff reduction authorization. The authorization would allow University administration to follow layoff procedures set forth within the University Professionals of Illinois 4100 WIU Chapter agreement.


Employee notices will be sent in accordance with the agreement and any mutually agreed upon extensions. The last date of employment is dependent upon the dates outlined within the agreement. The Board will hold a retreat July 12-13 in Moline.


The next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held Sept. 27-28 in Macomb.


The complete agenda is available at


WIU Mourns Student Death

The Western Illinois University community mourns the death of a student, Anthony

Fillingham, 48, of Macomb. Fillingham died June 22 at the University of Chicago Medical Center.


Fillingham was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in special education. He was a member of the Illinois National Guard, serving as an infantryman assigned to the 1/131. He first graduated from Western in 1994 with degrees in computer science and law enforcement and justice administration. After retiring from the Macomb Police Department in 2014, he worked as a substitute teacher in Macomb.


“We extend our sincere condolences to Anthony’s family and

Friends,” said Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas.


A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.


More than 100 House Democrats Sign Bustos- Details On How Many Tax Dollars are Being Spent on President Trump's Family Separation Policy

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and 107 of her Democratic colleagues sent a letter to Homeland

Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, and Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar,

demanding to know how many tax dollars have been and are currently being used on President

Trump's family separation policy.


The letter asks several specific questions seeking to find the true cost to taxpayers covering the gamut of procedures these children have been put through - from capture, to transportation, to detainment and, hopefully, to reunification with their families.


Bustos, a member of Democratic House Leadership, released the following statement:


"Hardworking taxpayers have a right to know exactly how much of their money President Trump

is spending to keep kids in cages. Like virtually all moms, I've been haunted by the sights and

sounds of President Trump's policy of taking children away from their parents, putting them on

planes and locking them up. It's an outrage that the Trump Administration is thrusting the bill for this barbaric policy on the American people. House Democrats are demanding that the Trump

Administration come clean about exactly how much their family separation policy has already

cost taxpayers. The American people have a right to know who is making money from putting

kids in cages as well as how much it's going to cost to bring this dark chapter in our nation's

history to a close."


School of Global Education and Outreach: A Worldwide Educational Focus

WIU’s School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach will be renamed the

School of Global Education and Outreach (GEO) effective July 1st. According to Executive Director Jeff Hancks, Global Education and Outreach encompasses a much broader involvement with global learning and all things international including educational learning experiences to

support the growth, development and the success of students of all ages.


GEO's mission is to prepare globally competent citizens, administer the General and

Interdisciplinary Studies degree programs, advance the development of in-demand online

academic degree programs, provide high-quality English language and cultural competency

instruction, support the growth, development and success of students, promote the intercultural

and educational exchange on campus and abroad and provide meaningful community service and

educational experiences for youth and adults.


The University continues to expand its online offerings, as well as international study

opportunities for domestic and foreign students. "By adding more online courses and degree

opportunities, as well as study abroad and other international education experiences, we are

extending Western's reach around the globe," Hancks added.


Western's School of Global Education and Outreach will continue as a unit under the direction of

the Provost and Academic Vice President. "We are excited to expand upon our efforts to extend

Western's educational opportunities beyond the state of Illinois and nation," said WIU Interim

Provost Kathy Neumann.


For more information about global education and online learning at

Western Illinois University contact Hancks at (309) 298-1929 or


Flags of Love Announced for Macomb

Mayor Inman and the Flags of Love Committee announce that the Flags of Love will be
displayed in Chandler Park on the Fourth of July, Wednesday, 6:00 a.m. until 6:00pm.
The volunteer help of the Elks & Eagles Clubs members will be present and all who would like to
volunteer are welcome. In the event of rough weather and the need to cancel, there will be a red
ribbon on a pole on the southeast corner of Chandler Park.


City of Macomb Announces 2018 Independence Day Celebration

The city officials and Western Illinois University announce that final plans have been made for
the 2018 Independence Day Celebration on Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Events will take place in
Q-Lot, on the WIU campus. Q-lot is located on University Drive on the east side of Western
Hall. Gates will open at 5:00PM.
All activities will be in "Q-lot" and the Macomb Municipal Band along with The King Graffiti Band will
provide musical entertainment. The "presentation of the colors" will be conducted by the
combined Honor Guard from Macomb American Legion Post #6 and The Veterans of Foreign
Wars Post #1921.
People attending are encouraged to park in Q-lot, bring lawn chairs, and enjoy the
entertainment and food. The food vendor this year is Boss Food Truck, which will be set up on
the south side of the lot. "Bring your family and friends and enjoy the Macomb Municipal Band,
The King Graffiti Band, and food before the fireworks display," said Mayor Mike Inman.
The entertainment stage will be placed in the southwest corner. The fireworks display will start
at approximately 9:15PM. In the event of rain, the fireworks display will take place on July 5th,
same time and location. More information can be found at Facebook- downtownmacomb or at


University of Illinois Educator to Host Informational Meetings about Japanese Beetles and Emerald Ash Borer

Join University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, Chris Enroth, as he answers your questions about the Emerald Ash Borer and Japanese beetles, best practices for managing these pests, and the dos and don’ts on protecting our landscape plants. Chris will also showcase a type of Japanese beetle trap you won’t find in stores.


Three classes will be held throughout the West-Central Illinois:

-Galesburg on Friday June 29, beginning 10am at the Knox County Extension Office, 180 S Soangetaha Rd, Ste 108, Galesburg, IL 61401


-Macomb on June 30, beginning 3pm at the McDonough County Extension Office and  4-H Center, 3022 W Jackson, Macomb, IL


-Monmouth on July 21, beginning 2pm at the Warren County Library, 62 Public Square, Monmouth, IL


If you are interested in attending this class, please register at


For more information, or to register by phone, call Amanda Christenson at the Knox

County Extension office at 309-342-5108.


Two Local Attorneys Donate Table to WIU Used by Former University Presidents

Two members of Macomb’s legal community have returned an 1890s Empire-style table back to its rightful place on WIU’s campus. Attorney Alison Vawter and Judge Kent Slater donated the mahogany table to WIU on May 30th.


The table was once used in the office of WIU’s fourth President, Frank A. Beu. The table could have been part of the original furnishings of the president's office in Sherman Hall, according to Slater.


"I first noticed the table in the Macomb law office of Attorney C. Don Weston in 1975, when I was a newly-licensed lawyer and had dealings with Mr. Weston," said Slater. "Mr. Weston told me the table had once been located in the campus office of the WIU president. Prior to Mr. Weston's death in 2017, the table was used by him in three different Macomb office locations."


The table was sold at auction in October 2017 to Monte Lowderman after Weston’s death. The table eventually found its way to a Macomb law office when Vawter and Slater purchased the table, but it was deemed too big for the office space.


Slater then moved the table so that it could get restored by Brian Switzer, here in Macomb. Switzer added metal braces to the underside of the boards to reinforce them. He also worked on the table top to keep it original as possible.


Vawter credited Slater for "his discerning eye for local legal antiques, for having it restored and suggesting it be donated to WIU."

"I was truly a bit player in this affair," she said. "For my part, the table's long-term private owner, C. Don Weston, was a particular friend of mine and of my family. Don was a very generous colleague, both with his time and his local knowledge, and he was a principal user of the WIU Library's collection of legal research materials. I know he would be pleased to hear about this table making its way back to Western."


The University Archives offices will be the new home of the table, according to WIU Senior Library Specialist, Kathy Nichols. In Honor of the University’s bicentennial, the table will be placed across from a table donated by Slater in 1999.  


For more information about the WIU Archives, visit



First Human Case of West Nile Virus in Illinois for 2018

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in Illinois for 2018. A Chicago resident in her 60s became ill in mid-May.


West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks.


However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.


IDPH Director, Nirav D. Shah was quoted saying "West Nile virus can cause serious illness in some people so it's important that you take precautions like wearing insect repellent and getting rid of stagnant water around your home."


Precautions to Fight the Bite include practicing the three "R's" – reduce, repel, and report.

  • REDUCE - make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut. Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.


  • REPEL - when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.


  • REPORT – report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.


Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the IDPH website.



Macomb Heritage Days 2018

Macomb 37th Annual Heritage Days is June 21-24th in the downtown Chandler Park.
This year’s theme is “The Illinois Bicentennial.” It is free to the public and features carnival
rides, an annual classic car show, pioneer demonstrations, craft vendors, armature contests and
two stages of music, a rock climbing wall and Bertrand's Miniature Horses & Petting Zoo for the
kids. Plus, food from many vendors in the Mid-West.
The main stage will feature international magician Geoff Williams and a lineup of musical acts including Murphy 500, Chicago's Expo '76, The Ronaldo Domino Experience and The Bottle Rockets.
For a full schedule or any questions please go to http:/ on Facebook at
https:/ or contact Macomb Area Convention and
Visitors Bureau at 309-833-1315 or 


Illinois to Receive $13.2 Million to Improve Voter Security

National security officials say voting systems in 21 states were targeted by Russian-connected
hackers two years ago. Illinois counties could get a cut of 13.2 million to fortify election
databases and avoid a repeat of the 2016 election, however voting experts say the need was there
long before 2016.
Illinois is expected to receive just over 13-million dollars to avoid hacker compromise in future
elections. It's one of 22 states that will share 380-million dollars to secure its elections process,
and experts say the federal funding is long overdue.
"I think there is definitely a cause for concern, but that cause for concern has been around longer
than the funding has. I think it's a case of finally fixing a problem that has likely existed for quitesome time” says Glen Sagers, a professor of cybersecurity at Illinois State University.
In 2005, a test of Diebold machines showed they could be hacked. This week, county clerks and
other election managers from across Illinois will be in Bloomington for a training session on
protecting the state's election information technology.
Half of the 13-million must be spent on a new “cyber navigator” program to defend against data
breaches according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Officials are in the process of
creating the program, working together with police and state technology and terrorism agencies.
In February, President Donald Trump's top intelligence adviser told a Senate committee that
Russia is moving to build on its earlier efforts to interfere with U-S elections.


Macomb Heritage Days Opening Ceremony and Macomb Municipal Band

The Macomb Municipal Band will perform AT 5:30pm to kick off Heritage Days on June
21, 2018 at Chandler Park under the baton of Dr. Mike Fansler, the band's principal conductor.
Macomb Heritage Days is free and open to the public. For more information on Macomb
Heritage Days visit or on Facebook/HeritageDaysMacomb.
In the event of rain on June 21, 2018 the Open Ceremony and the Macomb Municipal Band will be
held at the Western Illinois Museum, located at 201 S. Lafayette Street.



Downtown Sculpture Project Features Two Works by WIU Alumnus

WIU alumnus, V. Skip Willits is adding two new sculptures to the public art project in and
around downtown Macomb. Willits graduated from Western in 1978, with a degree in fine arts
teacher education.
He has been a professional artist since graduation, "with a stint as a firefighter along the way."
His pieces, "Red Road Home" and "LaGrange Point," are two of the 11 pieces in this show,
which will be on public view for two years. All of the pieces were installed in May and June.
"Red Road Home" was placed in the green space just north of the Macomb square and is
sponsored by the WIU Foundation, and "LaGrange Point" was placed at the Macomb Public
Library and is sponsored by McDonough District Hospital.
After learning weld from his father, Willits learned how to work with a variety of metals. He
completed his first outdoor sculpture in 1983, and his work has been featured in many outdoor
sculpture exhibitions. He said his sculptures explain his life, and his ideas come from his
The sculpture project began in 2016 as a partnership between the University and the city of
Macomb. The initial idea was born from 2015 meeting between WIU Associate Professor of Art
Duke Oursler and Macomb Downtown Development Director Kristin Terry. Each artist in the
exhibit is paid $1,500 to display their work.
Each of the pieces is for sale and the city receives 20 percent of the proceeds of any of the pieces
sold. "The Downtown Sculpture Walk is a way for the community and visitors to view art in a
very dynamic way," said Terry. 
For more information about the exhibit, contact Terry at (309) 575-3015


Illinois State Police and Local Agencies Conduct Active Shooter Training at Brown County

Brown County High School and Middle School conducted an active shooter training session on
June 1, 2018. The training was a preparedness measure in the event an active shooter situation
was ever to arise at any of the schools within Brown County. School Officials along with Law Enforcement and Emergency Services came together in a collaborative effort to train students.
The training consisted of a classroom portion titled, "Civilian Active Shooter Preparation and
Response" that was presented to teachers and staff by Illinois State Police Sergeant Jason
Garthaus and Special Agent Matt Poulte.
The scenario involved the introduction of active shooter role players in both the middle and high
school buildings. This prompted teachers and staff to follow active shooter protocol, which
elicits a response from law enforcement and emergency services.
Officers from the Mt. Sterling Police Department and Brown County Sheriff’s Department and
Fire - Ambulance personnel, responded to the training scenario. Each agency followed protocol
currently in place in response. At the conclusion of the training exercise participants attended a
debriefing to discuss changes that need to be implemented to the current protocol in order to
better prepare for an active shooter incident at any of the public schools within Brown County.


59 Educators Recognized as the Best in Their Fields

59 educators whose professional organizations selected them as the best in their fields, during the
2017-18 school year, were honored yesterday at the eighth annual Exemplary Teacher
Recognition Award Luncheon.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) joined the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and
the Illinois Education Association (JEA) to honor these special educators.
"Educators help students imagine and aspire to futures they would not otherwise think possible,"
said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. "Teachers, health professionals, librarians,
coaches, and other caring adults make our schools places of belonging for all students."
ISBE and the two state teacher associations co-hosted this years luncheon at the Bloomington-
Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. ISBE names a Teacher of the Year and
recognizes more than 200 educators nominated by their communities as part of the “Those Who
Excel” program each fall.
The annual Exemplary Teacher Recognition Award Luncheon provides an opportunity to honor
other award-winning education professionals from across the state. “The award winners have
shown exemplary teaching in each of their fields, and they remind us that great education is
being delivered to our students every day in every school in Illinois” said IEA President Kathi


The Alliance Commends Mayor Inman for Declaring June 'General Aviation Appreciation Month'

The Alliance for Aviation Across America commended Macomb’s very own Mayor, Michael Inman, for proclaiming June as “General Aviation Appreciation Month.” General aviation contributes over $9 billion to Illinois’ total economic output.


“Mayor Inman’s proclamation helps highlight the economic benefits and valuable service that general aviation provides to the City of Macomb and the State of Illinois,” said Selena Shilad, Executive Director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America. “We sincerely thank the Mayor and the City of Macomb for recognizing this vital industry.”


To view the proclamation, visit


Multi-State Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Cereal

One case of Salmonella is reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) that matches a
multi-state outbreak strain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 73 cases of Salmonella from 31 states. The investigation indicates Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal is likely
the source of the outbreak.
The IDPH is urging people to throw out any Kellogg’s Honey Smacks even if they ate the cereal
and haven’t become sick. “If you have recently eaten the cereal and experience diarrhea, fever,
and cramps, contact your health provider" said IDPH Director Nirav D Shah.
Kellogg Company issued a recall of the cereal and the CDC and health officials will continue to
Most people affected by Salmonella experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72
hours after eating contaminated foods. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people
recover without treatment. The elderly, infants, and those with compromised immune systems
are more likely to have a severe illness.


WIU 2018 Agronomy Field Day

The school of Agriculture’s 2018 Agronomy Field Day at WIU is Thursday June 28th and will
feature information on weed management. The program begins at noon with a lunch at the
WIU Livestock Center, on 2265 Wigwam Hollow Rd.
The keynote speaker, William Patzoldt of Blue River Technology, will speak during lunch. He will
discuss his company’s technology “See and Spray” with presentations about artificial
intelligence learns to identify and spot-spray weeds while mowing.
There will also be a tour and discussion of the lessons learned in WIU’s weed management
plots. The field day is open and free to the public. More information can be found at the office
of WIU School of Agriculture at (309) 298-1080.


Duckworth, Durbin Introduce Legislation to Provide A Better Deal for American Workers

As working families across the country struggle to achieve basic economic security and income inequality reaches its highest level since the Great Depression, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin joined a number of Senate and House Democrats in introducing legislation to provide a better deal for American workers and strengthen workers’ rights to collectively bargain.


The Workers' Freedom to Negotiate Act contains much-needed reforms that would make it easier for workers to form a union and collectively bargain for better pay and safer working conditions. The legislation is a stark contrast to efforts by the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans to maximize corporate profits, cut taxes for the wealthy and roll back crucial labor rights designed to protect American workers. Corporate profits are soaring but across our state, too many Illinoisans are being left behind.


“We need to ensure every American has the chance to work a good-paying job that allows them to support their families and save for a secure retirement," said Duckworth.


"Workers' rights have come under attack by Republicans in Congress to stack the deck in favor of big corporations and special interests. Middle class families feel that the system isn't working for them anymore," Durbin said.


The Legislation would:

-Strengthen workers' rights to organize for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions.

-Authorize meaningful penalties on corporations that violate workers' rights to organize a union through intimidation and retaliation.

-Closes loopholes in federal labor laws that allow employers to misclassify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors.

-Allow workers to seek justice in court when employers unlawfully interfere with their rights to form a union or are retaliated against.

-Protect integrity of union elections by preventing employers from forcing workers to attend captive audience meetings.

-Empower the National Labor Relations Board to enforce its own rulings like other federal agencies instead of waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeals

-Safeguards workers' access to justice by clarifying employers cannot force employees to waive their right to class-action litigation.

-Create mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract

-Use federal purchasing power to protect workers by requiring federal contractors to disclose any.



Macomb Rotary Club to hold Heritage Days raffle to benefit local literacy programs

The Macomb Rotary Club will hold a raffle leading up to 2018 Heritage Days. The raffle will go towards funding for local literacy programs. The Rotary Club will distribute the money to local organizations, including the United Way of McDonough County.


Prizes from the raffle include, a 2017 Kubota Kommander, 2017 Rambler 200cc Double Seat Go-Kart, $300 cash, and $200 cash. Tickets can be purchased leading up to Saturday, June 23, when Macomb Mayor Mike Inman will draw for the winners at Heritage Days. 


Tickets can be purchased from a member of the Macomb Rotary Club, at Edward Jones Corey Clem in Macomb, and at Hertiage Days before the Saturday night drawing. For more information on the raffle, listen to my interview with rotary club member Ted Renner.


Macomb City Council meeting agenda for Monday, June 18

After a week hiatus, the Macomb City Council will meet on Monday, June 18 at 5:15 p.m. in Macomb City Hall. The full meeting agenda can be viewed below. 


MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018
5:15 P.M.
1. Minutes of the Macomb City Council meeting held on Monday, June 4, 2018.
2. Claims and Accounts
3. Department Reports: Fire Department
4. Accept and place on file Treasurer’s report for May 
1. Consideration to approve the first addendum to Spring Lake Management and Maintenance agreement between the City of Macomb and Independent Contractor.
A copy of the addendum is attached for your review. Final action will be in order.
2. Consideration to approve the first addendum to Funding Agreement between the City of Macomb and the Western Illinois Regional Council – Community Action Agency.
A copy of the addendum is attached for your review. Final action will be in order.
3. Other unfinished business.
1. Consideration of a resolution to establish the general prevailing rate of wages for public works for the City of Macomb, McDonough County, Illinois for the twelve-month period commencing June 1, 2018.
A copy of the resolution is attached for your review. Final adoption will be in order.
2. Consideration of a resolution for temporary closure of State maintained roadway for a public event – Western Illinois University homecoming parade.
A copy of the resolution is attached for your review. Final adoption will be in order.
June 18, 2018
Page 2
NEW BUSINESS – Continued
3. Consideration of an ordinance to create a special event liquor license for the MHS Class of 98 event.
This will be presented for first reading and due to the timeline, staff is asking for second reading to be waived. A copy of the ordinance is attached for your review.
4. Other new business.
a) Appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of an employee of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (1) of the Open Meetings Act.
b) Collective Bargaining matters between the public body and its employees or 
representatives or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (2) of the Open Meetings Act.
c) The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (5) of the Open Meetings Act.
d) The setting of a price for sale or lease of property owned by the public body, 
pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (6) of the Open Meetings Act.
e) Pending or probable litigation, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (11) of the Open Meetings Act.


Illinois unemployment rate declines for fifth consecutive month

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate has decreased by -0.1 percentage point to 4.3 percent in May. IDES also released preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which revealed that nonfarm payrolls have increased by +8,600 jobs over-the-month. 
Average monthly gains of +4,600 jobs from the March to May period compare to about the same average monthly gain of +4,500 jobs between December 2017 to May 2018. 
“Through the first five months of the year, jobs are growing faster than each of the past two years,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “More than half of the year-to-date gain of nearly 28,000 jobs is coming from those sectors with higher-than-average wages.”
In May, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were Education and Health Services (+3,500); Government (+2,600); and Financial Activities (+2,100). The industry sectors with the largest payroll declines were: Information services (-900) and Leisure and Hospitality (-800). 
“Since Governor Rauner took office, Illinois has added 192,700 jobs and the unemployment rate has fallen 1.7 points,” said Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy. “We’re seeing increases in job creation, retention, and investment due to the implementation of a pro-business climate. Our work certainly continues as we look to build upon these results to generate opportunity and success for all Illinoisans.”
The national unemployment rate reported for May 2018 dropped to 3.8 percent, which makes Illinois +0.5 percentage points higher than the national rate. Overall, the Illinois unemployment rate is down -0.6 percentage points from a year ago, when it was 4.9 percent. 
The unemployment rate identifies individuals who are out of work and are seeking employment. IDES’ provides jobseekers with the state’s largest search engine, (IJL), which recently showed 55,668 posted resumes and 200,555 available jobs. 


"Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids" exhibition opens at Peoria Riverfront Museum

“Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids” opens to the public June 23 through Sept. 30 at the Peoria Riverfront Museum throughout the summer. The show features a European unicorn with a magical horn, a dragon with a wingspan of more than 19-ft., a kraken coming up through the floor, mermaids, an Asian phoenix, a Greek Pegasus and other whimsical creatures of mythology.
“Mythic Creatures” was organized by the museum featured in the film “Night at the Museum,” the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It draws content from cultures around the world that brought magical and mythic creatures to life through storytelling, music and works of art. Often they were inspired by fossils and living animals. Today these creatures and the legends around them continue to inspire stories and film.
“This will certainly be a summer of mythic proportions,” said Bill Conger, curator of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, in a museum press release. “We’ll be displaying ‘life-size’ models of these fictional creatures along with amazing artwork including paintings and textiles, and historic cultural objects from around the world.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a summer of family programming and events that celebrate and tell the story of how these creatures come to be. As part of the “mythic” programming, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” will be shown in the museum’s giant screen theater June 21 through July 19 at 7 p.m. (2D) and 10 p.m. (3D). 
Exhibition entry costs $5 in addition to regular museum entry. For more information about the “Mythic Creature” exhibition or museum programming, call 309.686.7000 or visit


SummerStage Theatre returns to WIU with 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'

The College of Fine Arts and Communication at Western Illinois University announced the first season of SummerStage, with performances of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" beginning Friday through Saturday, July 13-14, in Hainline Theatre.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is a reimagining of the Biblical story of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers and the coat of many colors. 
This project is funded by donors, with a generous donation from Dr. Rick and Mrs. Monica Iverson, and is sponsored by Citizens Bank, a division of Morton Community Bank. "SummerStage as an important part of the arts in Macomb and we wanted to see it brought back to the community," the Iversons noted in a WIU News release.
Tickets, $20 for the general public and $15 for senior citizens and students, are available by calling 309-298-2900, from 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, or visiting Browne Hall 115 (8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. M-F). Tickets may also be purchased online at For more information, visit


State Fair and Lincoln Museum offer half price discount

The Illinois State Fair and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum (ALPLM) are announcing special discount admission tickets for families looking to find some family friendly activities for the summer.  This “Double Play’ ticket promotion offers visitors half price admission at both the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Illinois State Fair. 
These $12 discount admission tickets are available for a limited time only. The “Double Play” tickets can be purchased at the Emmerson Building on the state fairgrounds (Monday– Friday 8:00-4:30pm) and at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Monday-Friday 9:00-4:00pm). 
These special discount tickets make it easier for visitors to enjoy both events on the same day, However, the purchaser of the tickets has until the end of the year to use the ALPLM ticket. “This is a great opportunity, a great offer, for families to explore all the fun activities our city has to offer,” said State Fair Manager Luke Sailer. “Both venues are family friendly destinations, and with the “Double Play” promotion we can help families affordably enjoy both tourist destinations.”   
This year’s theme for the Illinois State Fair is Celebrate Illinois: 200 Years of Amazing in respect to the state’s bicentennial. The Illinois State Fair is proud to celebrate the best attributes of our state. The bicentennial celebration only adds more excitement to the event. Look for various bicentennial programming, along with a bicentennial flare to the annual Twilight Parade, during the 2018 Illinois State Fair. 
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum will have some new content for visitors this year by highlighting four U.S. presidents who lived in Illinois. From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama is a special exhibit that will be on display through 2018 to celebrate Illinois’ bicentennial. Visitors will also have the opportunity to view unique artifacts and fascinating photos, test their knowledge of presidents through trivia, or step into the president’s shoes by delivering a presidential address from the teleprompter. 
“As Illinois celebrates its 200th birthday, we hope every family gets a chance to explore the state and learn more about all it has to offer,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “We’re happy to make that a little more convenient by teaming with the Illinois State Fair to offer these special prices for admission to the fair and to the museum. This year, the museum has its usual great displays about Lincoln and also a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit about the other presidents with Illinois roots.”
The Illinois State Fair is now only 60 days away, so start planning your visit today. Gate admission, parking passes, and Mega Pass are on sale now through the Illinois State Fair website.  In addition, discount admission booklets will be available for purchase starting July 1st at participating County Market grocery stores. There is also an Illinois State Fair mobile app available for download to help plan for the 11-day event. 
The Illinois State Fair will take place August 9 –August 19 in Springfield, Illinois.
Stay connected by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 
The Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


Macomb Police adds internet purchase and child custody exchange location

The Macomb Police Department, through a donation from the City of Macomb, has added an internet purchase and child custody exchange location. The meet up spot is located on the south side of the MPD parking lot (120 S. McArthur St.). There is video recording on the premises, to ensure that people feel safe making purchases with others. 


(Via Macomb Police Department on Facebook)


WIRC-CAA Victim Services to hold annual 'Silvie's Ride' Saturday

The annual Western Illinois event dedicated to a child who lost her life as a result of child absue, will take place Saturday, June 16. 
Western Illinois Regional Council-Community Action Agency Victim Services will hold 'Silvie's Ride' in memory of Silven “Silvie” Iris Yocum, who became a fatal victim of child abuse on September 16, 2006 at just the age of five. The ride, as well as a full slate of events Saturday centered around it, will raise money for WIRC-CAA Victim Services as it continues its mission of helping children and families in West Central Illinois who have experienced or witnessed abuse. 
The ride is for anyone with a vehicle of any kind, not just a motorcylce. It costs $20 to register ($5 for passengers) with registration between 8 30 and 10 a.m. that morning at the Macomb Elks Lodge (401 S. Deere Road, Macomb). It will encompass McDonough Fulton Warren and Hancock counties.
There will be a breakfast before the ride, served at the Elks Lodge from 7-10 a.m. This costs $7 per person. 
Food and entertainment will be ongoing at the Elks Lodge after the ride, from 4:30-9:00 p.m. There will be a silent auction and $100 drawing for those who have completed the ride. The band 'Bucket Fish' is scheduled to perform. You do not need to take part in the ride to participate in the breakfast or the food and entertainment aspects of the day. 

For more details on Silvie's Ride, listen to my interview with Diane Mayfield of WIRC-CAA Victim Services. 




Wallethub study ranks Illinois 4th best for teenage driving

The personal-finance website Wallethub released its report on 2018’s Best & Worst States for Teen Drivers today. This was released due to teens obtaining driver’s licenses during the summer more than every season and an average of six teens die every day from motor vehicle injuries. 
Wallethub compared the 50 states based on 23 key metrics to determine the safest and least costly driving environments for U.S. teenagers. The research concluded that Illinois is the 4th best state for teenage drivers. The data in the report covers a wide range of factors, including the following:
Teenage Driving in Illinois (1=Best; 25=Avg)
15th – Teen Driver Fatalities per Teen Population
2nd – Teen DUIs per Teen Population
17th – Avg. Cost of Car Repairs
1st – Presence of Distracted-Driving/Texting-While-Driving Laws
3rd – Provision of Teen Driver’s Graduated Licensing Program Laws
6th – Vehicle Miles Traveled per Capita
6th – Presence of Occupant-Protection Laws
25th – Quality of Roads
1st – Presence of Impaired-Driving Laws
The full Wallethub report can be seen here


Jensen Woods Camp Foundation to hold celebratory event at Adams County Fairgrounds

The Jensen Woods Camp Foundation, a  501C3 raising money to purchase Jensen Woods Camp located near Timewell and reopen it as a non-denominational Christian camp, has announced a celebratory event to be held at the Adams County Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 23. 


The free event will go from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch will be served by the Corn Dog Stand of Mt. Sterling. Other elements of the day include live music, cotton candy, popcorn, a bake sale, kids’ games, archery and a petting zoo. A live auction will be held at 2 p.m. and a silent auction ends at 4:30 p.m. A wall of Jensen Woods pictures and testimonials will also be displayed. 


For more information on Jensen Woods Camp and the Jensen Camp Foundation, visit You can also get in touch with the Foundation via email and Facebook


Dietz named MDH Interim CEO

McDonough District Hospital announced Monday evening that Brian Dietz will take over as Interim CEO, effective Friday, June 22. This comes as current President/CEO Kenny Boyd officially resigns. He first announced his impending resignation on April 27. 


The decision was made to accept Dietz as Interim CEO at a Monday Special Meeting of the Board of Directors. 


Dietz comes to MDH with experience serving in an interim role at various hospitals throughout the country. He has done so on several occasions for B.E. Smith, the search firm that MDH is using to find its permenant replacement for Boyd. 


Dietz most recently served as Interim CEO at INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Hospital in Enid, Oklahoma. He has also worked as the CEO of Saint Francis Healthcare in Wilmington, Delaware for four years.


 In a MDH press release, Board of Directors Chairman Dr. Rick Iverson provided the following statement:

“When the committee narrowed down the list of candidates, Brian impressed everyone in the group. He has an impressive track record as an interim CEO. We will not be sitting idle until a permanent CEO is named, Brian will continue to move our organization forward and strengthening our brand. I know he will do an excellent job for McDonough District Hospital,” Iverson said. 


Dietz's stops in Illinois include Blessing Hospital in Quincy (as Interim CEO from September 2008 through May 2009) and St. Mary's Hospital in Streator (Consulting CEO from April through October 2012).


He has also worked in an interim role in healthcare facilities in Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Oregon. He has worked as a senior executive healthcare professional for over 35 years. 


Dietz earned his bachelor's degree from Frostburg State University and a MHA degree from George Washington University. 


No time-table of the search for a permanent CEO has been announced. 




Ethics scandal 'a much more serious threat to the Speaker's power' than any other time, longtime observer says

The crumbling of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s inner circle amid one ethics scandal after another is the most serious threat to the longest-serving state House Speaker’s power, according to a longtime observer.
Madigan’s longtime chief of staff was fired this week. A leading ally in the House was demoted. Another is retiring. And there are calls for independent investigations into the speaker's office from within his own caucus. 
Madigan’s been in the House since 1971. With the exception of a two years in the 1990s, he’s been Speaker since 1983. That’s the longest-serving state House speaker in U.S. history.
University of Illinois at Springfield politics professor emeritus Kent Redfield has been following Illinois politics since 1975.
Redfield said the retirement of Madigan’s top lieutenant, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, isn’t as significant as other loses. Madigan has managed to stay in power for decades amid turnover. What is significant is the recent demotion of state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, from leadership and the resignation of Madigan's longtime Chief of Staff and House Clerk Tim Mapes, both within a week and after public allegations of wrongdoing.
“This is a much more serious threat to the Speaker’s power and his longevity than anytime in my memory,” Redfield said.
Earlier this year, two of Madigan's political operatives also were outed for inappropriate behavior. Political operative Kevin Quinn allegedly made unwanted advances toward campaign staffer Alaina Hampton during the 2016 election cycle. He was fired, but only after Chicago media outlets were preparing to publish the story in February. Within that same week, another campaign operative, Shaw Decremer, left Madigan’s operation after claims he was creating a hostile environment in a political campaign.
Hampton sued in federal court, claiming she was retaliated against for trying to report the harassment internally. Madigan’s team motioned to have the case thrown out last week.
Also earlier this year, Madigan unveiled a list of nine different incidents that his statehouse office handled dealing with allegations of harassment, intimidation and retaliation spanning five years. When asked if such a pattern reflects a culture within his office, Madigan said “there’s no culture with me … we don’t tolerate inappropriate behavior. We just don’t tolerate it.”
Last week, Sherri Garrett, a Madigan statehouse staffer, came forward with several allegations against Mapes, who served as Madigan's chief of staff. Within hours Mapes resigned at Madigan's request. The week before that, Maryann Loncar, a medical cannabis activist, alleged state Rep. Lou Lang harassed and intimidated her. Within hours, Lang stepped down from his deputy majority leadership post, his post on a commission that writes administrative rules, and another post on a commission that oversees ethics complaints against lawmakers.
A few weeks before that, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, alleged that Mapes and Madigan ally state Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, tried to use her part-time job as leverage against her because she was critical of Madigan’s handling of harassment allegations. Rita denied the allegations. Cassidy said Madigan can no longer claim he’s one step removed from attempts at intimidation and retaliation.
Following Cassidy’s allegations, Madigan called for the special legislative inspector general to investigate his office, but state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, who sits on the commission that oversees the LIG, said there are too many conflicts of interest as a Madigan attorney interviewed the special LIG for the job.
State Reps. Kelly Burke, Deb Conroy and Ann Williams called for an independent investigation into all operations of the House of Representatives and Madigan's office.
Redfield said with all of this, Madigan will likely be an albatross around some House Democrats' necks this November.
“Most (legislative) districts in Illinois are not competitive,” Redfield said. “It’s not going to make much difference one way or another, but it certainly can become an issue in the targeted districts that do make a difference in terms of who controls the legislature.”


"We're stuck:" Illinois residents' underwater homes keeping them here

Steinar Andersen is a disabled veteran, widower and father of a disabled stepson who is ready to move out of Illinois.

But he can't. Employed as a information technology manager, he and his wife bought an old farmhouse near Huntley in 2005. After the housing bubble burst and the state widened a nearby road, he’s deeply underwater on his loan.

“I still owe $187,000 in principle,” said Anderson, 55, now fully disabled from a service-related injury. “Once I get to $90,000 in principle in about 10 years, I’ll be able to sell at a $130,000 loss.”

Andersen would like to move out of state.

“We really should be living in Arizona as it is more ‘disability’ friendly and the property taxes are much less,” he said.

Andersen isn't alone. 

Collen Percy and her recently retired husband are $85,000 underwater on their suburban Plainfield home. They’re worried about property taxes eroding their home’s value further, pushing a potential payoff of their home further into their twilight years.

“We’re stuck,” she said. “We would love to sell [our home] and go live in a smaller home so we don’t have the upkeep and tax burden.”

It’s no secret that a large number of Illinoisans want to become ex-Illinoisans. A poll conducted by Southern Illinois University at Carbondale showed that every other person they asked about running for the border would if given the opportunity. Their reasons were common gripes for residents here; taxes, weather, lack of jobs or education elsewhere.

Two new reports on home equity reveal that a number of Illinoisans, like Anderson and Percy, may be chained to to the state by a mortgage larger than their home is worth.

A study of negative equity by real estate site Zillow found 16.4 percent of Illinois homeowners with a mortgage owed that is more than their home was valued as of the end of 2017.

“There are several metro’s throughout Illinois that are even higher,” Zillow economist Sarah Mikhitarian said.

Centralia, Dixon and Canton are the highest, with nearly two of every five mortgages underwater. Chicago, Illinois’ economic engine and home to the state’s highest wages, saw 15 percent of mortgages carrying negative equity, representing $28 billion in lost home value.

CoreLogic’s data from the first quarter of 2018 showed nine percent of mortgages in Illinois are underwater. Nationally, only Louisiana (10.3 percent) had a higher percentage of underwater mortgages.

Having an underwater home mortgage can create serious hurdles.

“It makes it difficult to move for a new job opportunity to relocate elsewhere,” Mikhitarian said.

The state’s income growth since the recession has run congruent to Mikhitarian’s notion. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, Illinois has seen 0.6 percent income growth since 2007, less than half the national average and only better than Connecticut.

High property taxes can push the value of homes further into the depths, experts say.

According to Zillow’s estimates, almost one in 10 Huntley homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, amounting to $62 million in negative equity. Like Andersen, those borrowers would have to pay the balance to sell their home.

“There is nothing left in this state to want to remain living here,” Andersen said.


WIU BOT approves FY19 spending plan, tables Thomas contract resolution

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees met Friday morning in the Quad Cities and approved its Fiscal Year 2019 Preliminary Spending Plan, which comes out to $224.3 million. The plan must be prepared prior to July 1 for submission to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois State Legislature and the Governor. 
Board members also approved the implementation of University's Higher Values in Higher Education Higher Values in Higher Education 2017-2022 Strategic Plan. 
A subject of much discussion in the Macomb community in recent months has been the future of President Jack Thomas at WIU. The BOT agreed to table the resolution of updating Thomas’ contract to a later date. This comes as Thomas has been named a finalist for jobs at other colleges in recent months. 
Twenty-six faculty members were also granted tenure at this meeting. The board will hold a retreat July 12 through 13th in the Quad Cities. Their next regular scheduled meeting will be held September 27-28 on the WIU-Macomb campus. 


Illinois among five states in Salmonella outbreak linked to pre-cut melons

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has reported six cases of Salmonella that match a multi-state strain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting 60 cases from five states, with pre-cut melons, including fruit salads, the likely source of this outbreak. Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio that have seen similar cases. 


“The Illinois Department of Public Health is urging people not to eat pre-cut melon purchased from any Walmart store in Illinois, or any of the other affected states, at this time,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.  “If you have recently purchased pre-cut melon from Walmart, throw it out.  If you have recently eaten pre-cut melon from a Walmart store and experience diarrhea, fever, and cramps, contact your health care provider.”
Illinois cases range in age from 23 to 87 years, and have been reported in all regions of the state. It is recommended that people do not eat pre-cut watermelon from Walmart stores in Illinois. Other grocery stores may be added to the list as the investigation continues. 
Walmart stores in Illinois have removed pre-cut melons linked to this outbreak from their shelves. 
IDPH advises people to use the proper food safety measures when buying whole melons. Make sure to wash the melons before you start cutting. Also make sure you’ve washed your hands and all utensils, knives and cutting boards, and don’t let fresh fruits and vegetables come into contact with raw meat.  




Illinois' pension buyout plan savings depend on volunteers

Illinois plans to borrow $1 billion to buy employees out of their underfunded pension plans, but just how much the state will save depends on how many opt for the buyout.
Illinois state pensioners looking to get more control of their retirement will soon have that option with several pension buyout plans passed by the legislature and enacted by the governor for the coming fiscal year. But it will take time for the state’s pension systems to crunch the numbers and get everything in order.
Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension liability stands north of $130 billion. The state's five pension funds range from a 39.3 percent funding level for the Teachers Retirement System down to a 14.4 percent funding level for the General Assembly Retirement System. Funding for the systems are further stressed by the 3 percent compounded annual increase for Tier I pensioners.
For years, lawmakers have proposed various ideas to reduce the liability. In 2011, lawmakers created a Tier II system with less costly benefits for new employees. A 2013 pension reform plan was shot down by the Illinois Supreme Court back in 2015 as an unconstitutional diminishment of benefits.
As a workaround, lawmakers this year brought about three different plans to try to lower the growing liability that is set to take up to a quarter of every tax dollar the state brings in.
One option is an automatic annual increases buyout program that lawmakers said would save $380 million.
“It’s voluntary,” state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said. “For retiring Tier I members, they have an option to have their automatic annual increases calculated at 1.5 percent in exchange for an accelerated pension benefit payment equal to 70 percent of what that difference would be in the life of the value of their pension benefit.”
Another plan lawmakers say will help save $40 million is a buyout that state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said is for eligible members who aren’t old enough to retire or have moved on to another job.
“They might get a small annuity down the road and they can trade that in for a lump sum that they can roll into a 403(b), which is similar to a 401(k), and invest it how they see fit,” Batinick said.
Both options would give annuitants instant control over retirement money, rather than leaving the fiduciary duty to a state government beset by financial problems, including billions in overdue bills.
Wealth management adviser and Phase 3 Advisory Services President John Bever said pension plans have the advantage of lasting a retiree’s entire life, but after that, it’s done, except for what’s due to surviving spouses.
Defined contribution plans, like an IRA, gives the beneficiary more control, even when someone dies, Bever said.
“So it’s legacy money in that it goes onto the next generation,” Bever said. “Even if they don’t name a beneficiary, that money is part of their estate and will be distributed according to their will.”
But the plans are optional, something S&P Global Ratings said this week doesn’t guarantee taxpayer savings.
“The state would finance the buyouts with proceeds from the issuance of up to $1 billion in bonds authorized by the payout legislation,” S&P’s report said. “This follows a familiar pattern in which lawmakers favor the immediate recognition of any potential savings related to pension policy changes while deferring those that result in higher costs.”
Illinois lawmakers have said they based the savings of one pension buyout plan by looking at a state like Missouri, which has offered two rounds of pension buyouts to vested employees that are no longer employed by Missouri state government.
The Missouri State Employee Retirement System communications department said 25 percent of those eligible took the buyout plan that was offered up in October 2017, November 2017 and again in May 2018.
MoSERS’ plan “allows certain members who are no longer employed by the State of Missouri to choose to cash out their future retirement annuity in exchange for a one-time lump-sum payment.”
An example of a buyout MoSERS has on its website: “If the member is currently age 58, he would be 4 years from retirement eligibility, so the present value would be $48,550.68. Multiplied by 60% (0.60), the lump-sum buyout amount would be $29,130.41.”
MoSERS estimates the buyout will save the state $90 million over the next 26 years. Missouri’s unfunded pension liability is $4.3 billion.
There’s no firm timeline of when the buyout plans will be ready as the systems have to do a lot of calculations to make individual offers to eligible members.
“[Teachers Retirement System] is actively working to draft and win legislative approval for the administrative rules necessary to implement the accelerated benefit payments, as well as the changes to our computer systems we need for two programs that didn't exist a week ago,” TRS Communications Director Dave Urbanek said in an email. “But because the act requires the funding for the buyouts to come from $1 billion in state bond proceeds, the program will not start until the bonds have been sold and the money deposited with the comptroller's office. The bond sale is completely out of our hands.”
A third part of pension savings lawmakers approved would change the cap for what the state will cover for salary increases at the end of a worker’s career, a practice known as spiking. The cap goes from 6 percent to 3 percent, so any employer like a local school district would be responsible for the pension contributions required from the salary spiking of more than 3 percent. That’s expected to bring about $22 million in savings.
While calling the overall spending plan last week as bad for taxpayers, state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said lawmakers should have taken a different approach to reform pensions.
“We need to do a constitutional amendment like Arizona that’s a negotiated settlement that addresses the fact that we have a 3 percent annual increase of benefits,” McSweeney said. “We have a $130 billion pension liability. That’s using a 7 percent rate of return. If you use a real rate of return, we have a $200 billion problem. We are insolvent.”


Illinois lawmakers urge Congress to make Chicago nation's 51st state

While state lawmakers continue the 200-year-old rivalry between Chicago and the rest of Illinois, there’s a move by downstaters to make the Windy City its own state, a plan one political science professor said is outlandish yet possible.
House Resolution 1138 notes Illinois is often regarded as having two distinct regions, Chicago and downstate. It also notes state legislation frequently exempts Chicago while targeting the rest of the state, and that downstate residents often disagree with Chicago on policy issues from gun ownership, abortion, immigration and others.
“Even communities north of Chicago are considered ‘downstate’ because they have more in common with rural southern and central Illinois counties than they do with the City of Chicago,” the resolution states.
One of the co-sponsors of the measure is Shelbyville Republican state Rep. Brad Halbrook.
“I think people downstate don’t like all the corruption in the city, the crime ... they’re just kind of tired of all that stuff,” Halbrook said.
Chicago state Rep. Robert Martwick said such a measure won't help Illinois.
“This is just a distraction,” Martwick, a Democrat, said. “We have a lot of problems in Illinois, the last thing we need is a movement to split us up. That won’t help anybody on either side of this issue.”
Northern Illinois University Political Science Chair Scot Schraufnagel said it’s entirely possible and constitutional for an area within a state to break away and become its own state. He cited several examples like Maine being created out of land from New York. Kentucky and Tennessee were both created out of other states. The most recent example, Schraufnagel said, was the creation of West Virginia in 1863.
“It’s Article IV of the Constitution, Section 3,” Schraufnagel said, “and it states that the process for becoming a state says specifically that you can’t create a state out of another state without the approval of both of those entities and the U.S. Congress.”
Schraufnagel said that means entities like Cook County would have to approve such a plan, in addition to the state legislature and the U.S. Congress.
“But in so much as the [current] initiative being put forward by downstate legislators, that just doesn’t seem very viable or realistic,” Schraufnagel said.
He called it "outlandish."
Halbrook said Chicago-area lawmakers often say the city, with it’s 2.7 million people, drives the state’s economy. The state, Chicago included, has a total population of 12.8 million.
“The opponents will say that, ‘well Chicago subsidizes downstate so downstate should just be happy,' ” Halbrook said. “Well, if that’s the case then the Chicagoland folks all ought to be first in line to secede so that they quit sending their money downstate.”
Martwick said Chicago's importance can no more be overlooked than the importance of the rest of the state.
“If I was trying to feed into the selfish needs of the people of the city of Chicago from a financial perspective, I would say, ‘sure, that makes perfect sense,’ but that’s ridiculous,” Martwick said. “We have a state that is tied together by so many different things,” noting the state’s universities, energy and agricultural systems as examples.
“Chicago is the economic generator,” Martwick said. “That’s not a matter of interpretation, that’s a fact. We provide money.”
The resolution notes that “Chicago is often bailed out by taxpayers in the rest of the State, such as the $221 million bailout for the [Chicago Public Schools] pension system that was signed into law last year.”
The resolution also highlights the city of Chicago passed a resolution in 1925 to form the state of Chicago, western Illinoisans declared their region the “Republic of Forgottania,” and in 1981 state Sen. Howard Carroll passed a Cook County secession bill through both chambers of the legislature. It also notes an organization called Southern Illinois Secession Movement.
A Facebook page called “The Illinois Separation” has a poll with 92 percent of 21,400 votes in favor of removing the Chicago area from the rest of the state.
“I guess the motivation was just to start the discussion about how such a small geographical region with a lot of population is controlling the rest of the state,” Halbrook said.
The chief sponsor of HR1138 is state Rep. Reginald Phillips, R-Charleston. State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, is another co-sponsor.


Macomb City Council Meeting canceled for Monday, June 11

There will be no Macomb City Council meeting on Monday, June 11. The meeting is canceled as there is no business to be conducted for that day. The next weekly meeting will be Monday, June 18 at 5:15 p.m. at Macomb City Hall. 


Chick-fil-A coming to WIU campus in mid-Fall 2018

Western Illinois University will add a new dining option to its University Union Food Court during the Fall 2018 semester. 


Chick-fil-A, "the home of the original chicken sandwich, will have an "express," version of its restaurant opening during mid-Fall 2018. This will replace the Sbarro at the food court, as it closed at the end of the Spring semester. 


The Chick-fil-A Express and renovation of the Sbarro site is funded by a donation from Sodexo, which, along with University Housing and Dining Services (UHDS, will oversee the restaurant on the WIU campus.


"We are excited to continue to invest in Western, and to provide another food choice that our students and members of our campus and local communities have asked for," said Kay Martin, Sodexo senior vice president-universities. "Chick-fil-A is one of the largest quick-service restaurant chains in the country. It is a financially sound company that will add even greater value to the University Union and our food service offerings."


The Chick-fil-A will complement Burger King, Einstein Bros. Bagels and the One Stop Rocky Shop in the University Union Food Court. 


John Biernbaum, associate vice president for student services-UHDS, said that the University's five-year contract with Sbarro is set to end this summer, which enabled Western to look at other options. Per the current agreement with Sbarro, WIU could not house another pizza-related franchise in the Union for one year.


"We looked at all of that, and we also reviewed what is currently available in our community. It is important for us to be good community partners, and to not compete with local and franchised businesses within the city of Macomb," Biernbaum added. "After much consideration, including looking at the successes of the Chick-fil-A Express venues at other public institutions in the state, we determined that this was a fiscally responsible decision for Western, and that our students and local community would be happy to see this choice added to our line-up."
Hours for the Chick-fil-A will be determined once the renovations are complete. 




Fatal crash in Warren County

An accident occurred Wednesday afternoon as a driver failed to properly yield. 
Miriam Temple, 84, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, along with her passenger, Thorn Thompson, 86 of Cedar Falls, died in the accident after Temple failed to yield at a stop sign. 
Temple was traveling westbound on 270th Avenue, also known as the woodpile blacktop in her 2015 Nissan Altima. Meanwhile, Robert Gates, 29, of Aledo, Illinois, was traveling northbound on Illinois Route 135/94. Temple failed to yield to Gates at the intersection of Route 94, as Gates’ 2001 Ford Taurus struck Temple’s vehicle on the drivers side door. Temple was pronounced dead on the scene. Thompson was taken to OSF Hospital in Peoria where he succumbed to his injuries. 
Gates was hospitalized as OSF with non-life threatening injuries. His two passengers were treated and released from OSF Hospital in Monmouth. 
No charges were filed. GHAS, Alexis Ambulance, Little York Fire, Alexis Fire, Monmouth Fire, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Warren County Coroner’s Office, IDOT, OSF Life Flight and the Peoria County Coroner’s Office were the assisting agencies. 


Illinois business advocates: We had no say in state budget

An Illinois small business advocate said reforms that businesses have been seeking to help their industries fell by the wayside in the legislative session that ended last week.
When Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the budget into law, he and other lawmakers touted reforms, better funding for education and other benefits of the bipartisan legislation.
Missing from the conversation was any of the reforms Rauner campaigned on that he said would make the state’s business environment more competitive.
Mark Grant, director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Illinois, said the group and other representatives of the business community were on the outside looking in on budget negotiations.
“We were not involved in any of the negotiation or any of the pieces that went into the budget negotiations,” he said. “I think they believe it may have derailed their negotiations.”
Grant said the small business owners that he talks with have become cynical about state government and any promise of improving the state’s relationship with job creators.
“They think that state government in general in Illinois really doesn't include them,” he said.
Rauner had campaigned on a “turnaround agenda” that included dozens of pro-business reforms. At the budget bill signing he said that he would have liked to have seen some of his reform items in the budget, but they didn’t make it into the negotiated 1,200 page bill.
"Unfortunately, a lot of businesses feel like we were left out but, quite frankly, we've been left out the last three years," said Zach Mottl, Chairman of the Technology Manufacturers Association of Illinois. "We are pleased that they have a budget, but that's just the first step." 
The budget for the new fiscal year, which begins in July, spends more than $38 billion. That’s more than Illinois has ever spent in a budget year.


Citizens June Community and Seniors Day includes free eye screenings, hearing checks

Citizens Bank (127 S. Side Square Macomb), will hold its monthly Community and Seniors Day tomorrow (Thursday, June 7). The bank holds the event at its Downtown Macomb branch on the first Thursday of every month to provide beneficial services to senior citizens in the area. 


In addition to the monthly free services provided to the community by Heartland Health Care, the Lions Club will be on hand to offer free eye screenings and hearing checks. This will be offered from 8:30-11:00 a.m.


The Lions Club also encourages area residents to donate used eye glasses and hearing aids. These items can be brought in to Citizens tomorrow, or can be dropped off at the Lions Club location on West Jackson Street as well as the Macomb Farm King. 


To learn more about the services that will be provided at this month's Community and Seniors Day, listen to my interview with Rochelle Seaver of Citizens Bank and Jack Schoonover of the Lions Club.


McDonough County Genealogical Society releases details about coffee-table book celebrating McDonough County history

Acclaim Press and the McDonough County Genealogical Society are proud to announce the release of their upcoming book celebrating the history of McDonough County, Illinois. The book is in production and scheduled for release in September 2018. 
The 8.5 x 11-inch, hardbound coffee-table book will include nearly 300 pages of historical facts and photographs, over 400 family biographical portraits from past and present, and multiple special features on local businesses, churches, and organizations. 
Copies of the book may be reserved for $54.95 through the McDonough County Genealogical Society. Feel free to email the society for more information.


Thomas: WIU to receive 2 percent increase in FY19 state appropriation

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas has released a statement regarding the Illinois fiscal year 2019 budget. The new budget, which was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner Monday, provides increased appropriated funding for education in the state. 


According to Thomas, Western's allocation is $47.2 million for FY19. This is an increase of 2 percent from FY18.


"The state appropriated budget also provides level MAP funding," Thomas said. "In addition, $25 million has been allocated for a new institutional aid program to be divided between the public universities. The new FY19 state allocations also provide a $50,000 grant for the Gwendolyn Brooks Memorial Park on the site of the former Brooks Center (Adams Street), and the WIU Center for Performing Arts is under consideration ($89 million capital development funds), along with possible funding for capital improvements."


While Thomas said he is pleased with the news of the budget, he acknowledged that Western Illinois will still need to show fiscal restraint, due to factors that include declining enrollment.


"However, due to the projected decline in enrollment, along with contractual obligations and future budget-related uncertainties, and the continued impact of the previous years' budget impasse, we must continue to be fiscally conservative," Thomas said.  "My leadership team and I will evaluate how state appropriations and enrollment will impact the University's overall budget, and we will consider all options that provide cost-savings."
Thomas concluded his statement by thanking WIU faculty for voting to ratify a new contract, and the members of of the UPI Local 4100 and University negotiation teams for reaching what he called a "sustainable agreement."
Thomas' full statement can be read on the WIU website


Freight projects across Illinois set to get millions in federal grants

The state is freeing up more than $370 million in federal transportation funds for transportation projects around Illinois that the governor said would boost the economy and provide jobs.
One set of projects is part of the Competitive Freight Grant Program that will spend $240 million of federal grants. It was announced during a stop in East St. Louis where Gov. Bruce Rauner said the funds will boost economic activity and bring jobs.
“Illinois is at the heart of freight activity for the entire country,” Rauner said. “These are smart investments that help improve economic competitiveness. At the same time, communities will be less congested, and the movement of goods and services will be safer and more efficient.”
As part of the Competitive Freight Grant program, the Terminal Railroad Association will get federal funds.
TRA President Mike McCarthy said the $1.9 million in federal money will be matched with $500,000 in private investments to make rail traffic more efficient and safer. He said the plan is to take tracks that go through East St. Louis’ busy residential and business district with 12 railroad crossings to a different route with two crossings.
“Trains will move at a higher speed, they’ll be on a shorter route and they’ll provide safety, economic development and reduced bottlenecks,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s a great example of public-private partnerships that’s a winner for all stakeholders.”
Another of the announced projects in the Metro East area is America's Central Port in East St. Louis. Port officials say it moves more than 3 million tons of commodities annually.
Port Executive Director Dennis Wilmsmeyer said the first project will be $1 million in federal funds for the port’s dock fender system.
“This will help keep the barges from rubbing up against that dock and from deteriorating the steel,” Wilmsmeyer said. “It gets us many more years of use out of that dock.”
The dock also will get resurfaced, allowing for investment in new equipment.
Another project for the same port, Wilmsmeyer said, is $1.5 million in federal funds to keep truck traffic to and from the port out of residential areas.
“The new access road will speed access to and from the warehouses and open the heart of America’s Central Port’s industrial park to many manufacturers,” Wilmsmeyer said.
Altogether, 23 projects will share in the federal funds for the Competitive Freight Grant program. The $240 million in federal money will be matched by $90 million in state and private funds, Rauner said.
Other projects include: $34.3 million to reconstruct and add capacity to the U.S. 30-Interstate 80 interchange near Joliet; $25 million to separate vehicle and rail traffic at Brush College Road/Faries Parkway next to Decatur’s Midwest Inland Port; and $11.3 million to deploy a statewide intelligent truck parking availability information system.
In a separate announcement Tuesday, Rauner’s office heralded a planned $132 million award from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project in Chicago. The federal funds combined with other public money and private investments will help “fix the country’s most complex and complicated segment of railroad,” Rauner’s office said.
The 75th Street corridor project will also take $111 million from the Illinois Department of Transportation, $78 million from Cook County, $23 million from Metra, $9 million from the city of Chicago, $5 million from Amtrak and $116 million from the American Association of Railroads for a total project cost of $474 million.
“It means we can finally eliminate the 75th Street bottleneck and start enjoying the commercial benefits that come with modernization and more efficient movement of goods and people through Chicago and Illinois, the nation’s most important transportation hub,” Rauner said.
The governor’s office said the federal grant for the 75th Street corridor project will be formally announced Friday by U.S. DOT.


IDOA schedules 'Clean Sweep' collection for West-Central Illinois

The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s (IDOA) “Clean Sweep,” program allows residents of ten West-Central Illinois counties to dispose of unwanted agrochemicals for free. 
The department announced Tuesday that a “Clean Sweep” collection has been scheduled in late summer for Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Greene, Hancock, McDonough, Morgan, Pike, Schuyler, and Scott counties. This collection rotates among Illinois counties. It is open to armers, retired farmers, nursery owners, private pesticide applicators, structural pest control applicators and landowners who inherited unwanted agricultural pesticides with their property.
“If individuals were to properly dispose of agrichemicals on their own, the cost would be expensive,” said Doug Owens, Bureau Chief of Environmental Programs, in a release.  “The Department is able to provide this invaluable service free of charge thanks to a grant obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
Participants must register the products they plan to dispose of by July 18.  Registration is required to give the waste disposal contractor time to prepare for the different kinds of materials that will need to be handled.  Forms can be obtained either by calling the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Hotline at 1-800-641-3934 or by visiting one of the program sponsors listed below.  Completed forms should be mailed or faxed to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  The mailing address is:  Clean Sweep Program, Illinois Department of Agriculture, State Fairgrounds, P.O. Box 19281, Springfield, IL, 62794-9281.  The fax number is (217) 524-4882.  Participants then will be sent a reservation card indicating the date, time and location of their collection. 
Clean Sweep Sponsors
Adams County:
-Adams Co. Farm Bureau
330 S 36th St.
Quincy, IL  62305-3037
-Adams Co. SWCD
338 S. 36th St.
Quincy, Il 62305
-Adams University of IL  Ext.
330 S. 36th St
Quincy, IL  62301
Brown County: 
-Brown Co. Farm Bureau
109 W North St.
Sterling, IL  62353
-Brown Co. SWCD
511 E. Main
Mt. Sterling, Il 62353
-Brown University of IL  Ext.
108 N. Capitol Avenue
Mt. Sterling, IL  62353
Calhoun County:
-Calhoun Co. Farm Bureau
204 N County Road
Hardin, IL  62047-0386
-Calhoun Co. SWCD
475 State Hwy 100
Harding, IL  62047
-Calhoun University of IL  Ext.
818 S. Park
Hardin, IL  62047
-Greene Co. Farm Bureau
487 Michelle Lane
Carrollton, IL  62016
-Greene Co. SWCD
15 N US Hwy 67
Carrollton, IL  62016
-Greene University of IL  Ext.
25 N US Hwy 67
Carrollton, IL  62016
Hancock County
-Hancock Co. Farm Bureau
544 Wabash Ave
Carthage, IL  62321-1372
-Hancock Co. SWCD
110 Buchanan St.
Carthage, IL  62321
-Hancock University of IL  Ext.
550 N Madison
Carthage, IL  62321
McDonough County
-McDonough Co. Farm Bureau
1601 W Jackson Suite 100
Macomb, IL  61455
-McDonough Co. SWCD
1607 W. Jackson St.
Macomb, IL  61455
-McDonough University of IL  Ext.
3022 W Jackson
Macomb, IL  61455
Morgan County
-Morgan Co. Farm Bureau
1152 Tendick St
Jacksonville, IL  62650-3149
-Morgan Co. SWCD
1904 W. Lafayette
Jacksonville, IL  62650
-Morgan University of IL  Ext.
104 N Westgate Ave
Jacksonville, IL  62650
-Pike Co. Farm Bureau
1301 E Washington St
Pittsfield, IL  62363-0006
-Pike Co. SWCD
1319 W. Washington
Pittsfield, IL  62636
-Pike University of IL  Ext.
1301 E Washington
Pittsfield, IL  62363
-Schuyler Co. Farm Bureau
114 E Lafayette St
Rushville, IL  62681-0020
-Schuyler Co. SWCD
10793 Old Macomb Rd.
Rushville, IL  62681
-Schuyler University of IL  Ext.
710 Maple Avenue
Rushville, IL  62681
-Scott Co. Farm Bureau
7 E Market St.
Winchester, IL  62694-0050
-Scott Co. SWCD
656 N. Main St.
Winchester, IL  62694
-Scott University of IL  Ext.
401 N. Walnut
Winchester, IL  62694


MDH to accept Interim CEO at Monday Special Meeting

McDonough District Hospital will hold a Special Meeting of the Board of Directors on Monday, June 11. This is the second in as many weeks, as Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Rick Iverson has called for the meeting to accept the Interim CEO Search Committee’s selection of an Interim CEO as discussed Monday, June 4 in Executive Session. 


This comes as MDH continues its search for a new CEO, following the impending resignation of Kenny Boyd. The national search is being run by B.E. Smith (an AMN Healthcare Company), which is based in in Lenexa, Kansas.


There will also be a discussion with Juniper Advisory on the MDH Situation and Strategic Initiatives


The meeting will be held in the Health Service Building I Auditorium at 5:00 p.m. that day. 


Two blood drives in Macomb area to be held June 30

There will be some upcoming blood drives in the Macomb and Colchester areas on Saturday, June 30. 
The Macomb Masonic Lodge will be hosting a community blood drive from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 30 at the University Baptist Church, 315 N. Sherman, inside the Community Room. If you are interested in donating, please contact Joe Logsdon at (309) 313-5520 or visit and use code 3288 to locate the drive.
The Leap Church will also host a community blood drive from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 30 at Fellowship Hall, 201 N. Hun Street in Colchester, IL. If you want to donate, feel free to contact Pastor Doug Gorman at (317) 225-6710 or visit and use code 3431 to find the blood drive. 
Potential donors must be at least 17 years of age (16-year-olds are allowed with parental permission form available through and weigh more than 110 pounds. You must bring a photo I.D. to donate. Donors who last gave blood on or before 5/5/18 are eligible to donate their blood at these drives. 
Please call the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center at (800) 747-5401 with any more questions about eligibility. 


Rauner: State purchase of transitional home for Quincy vets to close Friday

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Tuesday that the state is on track to close Friday on the purchase of the shuttered Sycamore nursing facility, which will be retrofitted to house the residents of the nearby Quincy Veterans Facility that were displaced after 13 residents died from Legionnaires' disease.
Rauner said the newly passed budget included $53 million for the planned veterans facility with more to come.
“We’ll be investing several million dollars to upgrade that facility to make it nice and appropriate for our heroes,” he said.
The Sycamore location, Rauner said, doesn’t have much of the outdated construction that the aging facility has.
“That building has much more modern plumbing, much more modern pipes and we’ll be able to treat those and enhance those in a way that we can have high-quality water for the heroes and our wonderful staff,” he said.
Rauner said previously that the outdated plumbing at the current home was the contributing factor that led to the tragic deaths of 13 residents from Legionnaires Disease in recent years.
Rauner also announced that retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Curda will start immediately as the new director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
Curda previously worked at the National College of Education and was special assistant to the president for Veterans Education at National Louis University. His last enlisted post was as commander of the 9th Mission Support Command in the U.S. Army Pacific, responsible for 3,600 personnel spread throughout the Pacific.
Rauner said Tuesday that Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Felicia Norwood’s last day is June 15 after she accepted a position with a private employer. Rauner praised Norwood for securing a federal waiver to spend $2 billion on new behavioral health services and for updating information technology systems.


WIU Board of Trustees to meet Friday at Quad Cities campus

Western Illinois University’s FY19 preliminary spending plan will be the topic of discussion for the University’s Board of Trustees in a meeting on Friday, June 8 at the WIU-Quad Cities Riverfront campus in Moline. 
The open meeting will begin at 8 a.m. Friday in Riverfront Hall, rooms 103/104. A closed session has also been scheduled, mainly to discuss matters provided for in 5 ILCS 120/2c, including personnel, collective bargaining, litigation and real estate. That meeting will begin at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 7 in Building C, room 3420A on the WIU-QC Riverfront campus. 
These are not the only topics of discussion, as the Board will consider the tuition for military personnel, tenure recommendations, the presidential assessment/contract, purchases over $500,000 and the implementation of the Higher Values in Higher Education Strategic Plan for 2017-2022 as well. There will also be new Board officers elected for the 2018-2019 year. 
The Board will additionally hear reports covering contributions, adjustments to academic programs, academic curricular and administrative changes, along with updates regarding the statewide budget and the President’s Executive Institute. 
The full Board agenda and a list of supporting materials can be found online


Illinois lawmakers 'miss window' on bill to rescue pets from hot cars

Summer is here, and Illinois still doesn't have a law to allow people to rescue dogs from hot cars. 
Illinois' good Samaritan bill, which would allow people under certain circumstances to smash a car window to rescue a dog or cat, made it halfway to the governor's desk.
State Rep. David Olsen, R-Downers Grove, said the Illinois House approved his plan, but the Senate didn't call the bill for a vote.
"We did, unfortunately, miss the window this year," Olsen said. "There were some challenges in the Senate. And we still need to work through those."
Olsen said some senators and outside groups feared that a good Samaritan bill would give legal cover to carjackers or burglars.
There's hope that lawmakers can come to terms on a plan to rescue dogs from hot cars this November. 
Olsen said that means, once again this summer, it is illegal to break a window to save a dog from a hot car. 
"If you see a dog, right now, in a car that you think may be overheating or may be in distress, contact law enforcement right away," Olsen said. "Law enforcement has the ability to take the steps to make forcible entry into that vehicle, and save that animal."
Olsen said a person who takes it upon themselves to break a car window and rescue an animal could be arrested. 
Illinois is one of nearly two dozen states that does not have a good Samaritan pet law on its books. 


Illinois State Police releases May patrol reports

Illinois State Police (ISP) District 14 Commander, Jon Dively, announces the result of various patrol reports for Warren County in the month of May. 
The Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols (OREP) reinforce the protection message and focuses on those who choose to ignore the law. These OREPs provide extra coverage for the ISP officers, so that they could work on saving lives by ensuring that vehicle occupants are using their seatbelt. The ISP recorded 19 safety belt violations, 0 child restraint citations, 24 total citations, and 21 total written warnings during the month of May. 
The Special Traffic Enforcement Patrols (sTEP) gives ISP the ability to provide increased enforcement for impaired driving, occupant restraint, speeding, and distracted driving violations while the National “Click It or Ticket” Campaign and Memorial Day Enforcement period were underway. There was a total of 13 occupant restraint violations, 3 driving under the influence and drug/alcohol-related citations, 96 speeding citations and warnings, 3 distracted driving citations and warnings, 111 total written warnings, and 130 total written citations given out to motorists during the month of May. 
Nighttime Enforcement (NITE) allows ISP patrols to focus on preventing, detecting, and taking enforcement action in response to impaired driving and occupant restraint violations mainly between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Alcohol and drug impairment has been identified as a factor in more than 30 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in Illinois, while over half of all fatal crashes occur at night. The NITE program gives officers the tools to remove impaired drivers from the road. There were 4 DUI citations, 2 other alcohol/drug citations, 3 occupant restraint offenses, 3 registration offenses, 3 driver’s license offenses, 4 insurance violations, 39 total written warnings, and 20 total citations/arrests recorded in May. 
Remember to “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” to avoid these violations and stay safe during the summer. 


Governor to consider hundreds of bills passed this session

Now that the state has a budget and lawmakers have left Springfield for their districts for the summer, the floodgates of legislation that cleared both chambers this year will soon hit Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.
In the second year of the 100th Illinois General Assembly that wrapped up last week, lawmakers passed 611 bills.
Before adjourning the House last week, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and Speaker Michael Madigan thanked their staffs and heralded the bipartisan group of lawmakers who crafted a budget the governor ultimately signed.
“We can actually enjoy a brief amount of the summer for the first time in about three years,” said Durkin, R-Western Springs.
In 2015, lawmakers left for the summer without passing a budget the governor would enact. In 2016, lawmakers didn’t pass a budget at all. In 2017, lawmakers passed a budget and tax hike the governor's vetoed, but lawmakers overrode it in an overtime session that spanned across the Independence Day holiday.
Budget aside, for the first year of the 100th General Assembly, which was the 2017 legislative year, the House passed 380 bills while the Senate passed 235 bills for a combined total of 615 bills. For both 2017 and so far in 2018, 1,226 pieces of legislation passed. All together, the House and Senate combined filed 12,812 bills and resolutions for consideration.
For the 2017 legislative year, 329 House bills became law while 214 Senate bills became law for a total of 543 new laws last year. So far this year, 14 bills that have passed since January have become law.
The rest will soon start landing on Rauner’s desk. Because the majority of measures this legislative year were passed in the month of May, the bills will start being sent to the governor within the next few weeks. Lawmakers must send legislation within 30 days of passage.
Rauner then has 60 days to act. If the governor agrees with the bill, he signs it. If he doesn’t, he has the option of an amendatory veto or an outright veto. Those bills then get kicked back to the chamber where the bill originated for further action from lawmakers within 15 days. A veto override requires a three-fifths majority vote. A reduced or amendatory veto only needs a simple majority to be agreed upon by the legislature.
When lawmakers return to Springfield for veto session this fall, Illinois voters will have either given Rauner a second term, or they will have selected his replacement. Regardless, Rauner has a lot of work remaining in his freshman term with the prospect of sorting through hundreds of bills.
Before adjourning the Senate last week, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, touted the bipartisan nature of crafting the budget and looked forward to next the budget.
“We as Democrats were happy to work with a Republican governor and, if it happens, I would hope that next year, if it happens, you’d be willing to work with a Democrat governor, if it happens,” Cullerton said.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady fired back.
“It is fun and we look forward to working with Gov. Rauner to pass another one next year,” said Brady, R-Bloomington.
“I wish you all a very restful and enjoyable summer,” Madigan said Thursday. “We’ll see you sometime after the general election.”


Flags of Love Flag Day to be held June 14

According to a release from Macomb Mayor Mike Inman's office, the Flags of Love will be displayed in Chandler Park on Flag Day, Thursday, June 14, 2018 from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The Flags of Love Committee will be putting the flags up with the volunteer help of Rotary Club members and all who would like to volunteer. 
In the event of inclement weather and the need to cancel, there will be a red ribbon on a pole on the southeast corner of Chandler Park.


IEMA provides tips to Illinoisans for heat safety

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is reminding Illinois residents to be safe during the summer with the right tools and a little preparation. Heatstroke is a threat as the temperature blazes to high levels and each year in the U.S. an average of 37 children die from heatstroke after they get left in locked cars. Parents should develop a preventative routine to check the car, such as putting a purse, cell phone or other important items in the backseat. Parents can also consider opening the back door once the car is parked. 
The summer heat can also lead to heat-induced illnesses, so remember to check in on family, friends, neighbors, the elderly and pets to ensure their safety. Avoid going outside when extreme heat strikes and seek air conditioning while drinking plenty of water. People should try to familiarize themselves with the community cooling centers if your home does not have air conditioning. 
These warmer temperatures also pose as an additional threat for severe weather. June is home to the National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. This serves as the perfect opportunity for families to learn how to reduce their risk while enjoying the great outdoors. Remember, if you hear thunder, then lightning is close enough to pose as a threat. Being outside during a thunderstorm is unsafe, so seek shelter as quickly as possible. 
The best way to protect yourself and family is to check on the weather when planning or attending events outdoors. There are multiple ways to receive notifications about the weather and it is important to remain updated about any severe weather warnings. 
“Whether you’re relaxing by the pool, taking in a ballgame, or traveling away from home, severe weather can strike at any time so it is important that you are aware of your surroundings,” said Acting Director William Robertson.  “There are a variety of ways you can be alerted to critical, lifesaving information, no matter where you may be – including: NOAA weather radios, weather apps for your smart phone, television and radio broadcasts, the internet, and outdoor warning sirens.”
For more information on how to plan and prepare for an emergency, including a list of state and local resources, check out the IEMA website at


Hot May breaks records across Illinois

If you thought last month was hotter than normal, you were right.
Cities across Illinois and the state as a whole experienced the hottest May in recorded history.
Illinois’ a long state. It’s usually warmer in Cairo than in Rockford. But, as a whole, state Climatologist Jim Angel said Illinois hasn't seen a May with more days of above average temperatures.
“The statewide average temperature for the entire month was 70.6 degrees, 7.9 degrees above normal for the whole state and the warmest on record,” he said.
Many cities saw the same situation.
“In Quincy, Springfield, Champaign and Carbondale, every day was at or above normal for this time of year,” Angel said.
Other cities like Rockford were close but had a couple cool days that lowered their average.
A warm May doesn’t necessarily mean June, or July for that matter, are guaranteed to see hotter-than-normal temperatures, Angel said, but June is forecasted to be warmer than normal.


Truck tractor-semi trailer crash in Warren County

The Illinois State Police has released preliminary information about a Warren County crash leaving a truck tractor-semi trailer driver with minor injuries. 
The crash occurred Friday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m. on US Route 34, at the northbound ramp to US 67. The driver of the tractor trailer was Sli A Salam, 52, of Fort Wayne, Indiana. 
Salam was operations his 2007 Volvo truck tractor as he approached the ramp. He failed to reduce his speed as he was making his turn onto the ramp. As the semi made its turn onto the ramp the semi tipped over onto its side in the median.
Salam was treated for minor injuries on the scene, then charged for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. 
Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Galesburg Hospital Ambulance Service (GHAS) and Kirkwood Fire were the responding agencies. 


Public finance watchdogs: Proposed budget sets Illinois up to fail over time

Public finance experts say the new Illinois state budget that Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign into law continues a practice state lawmakers can’t shake: Rosy assumptions.
For the first time in three-and-a-half years, Illinois will have a full year’s budget enacted by the governor’s pen, and coming in at $38.5 billion, it’s the largest in state history.
Democrats and Republicans at the statehouse heralded the plan as a bipartisan success story, claiming it is balanced and on time. Critics said it was crafted behind closed doors with no input from taxpayers or rank-and-file lawmakers, and has generous assumptions that makes it unbalanced.
Government finance watchdog Truth In Accounting Research Director Bill Bergman said an example of the budget being imbalanced is the assumption of the sale of the Thompson Center in Chicago for several hundred million dollars.
“They included it as a source of revenue last year and it didn’t sell and now they’re doing it again,” Bergman said. “In a general sense, we don’t believe the sale of capital assets should ever be counted as revenue.”
Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said that’s a continuation of the status quo. 
“They still have to use tricks like the [sale of] the Thompson Center, account for pension savings that they may never get and they’re going to take – you can call it steel, swipe, sweep – at least $600 million from other funds that have nothing to do with the budget.”
What makes it worse, Dabrowski said, is that the plan spends the entirety of last summer’s $5 billion income tax hike. He said a better use of the $5 billion tax increase would have been to pay down most of the state’s $6.6 billion bill backlog, which can accrue interest penalties of up to 12 percent a year.
“But that would take big, big reforms,” Dabrowski said. “This group of legislators on both sides have proven they don’t want to tackle reforms. They’d rather just take all the money and spend it, and they’ve promised every penny of it.”
Bergman said another assumption that isn’t guaranteed is revenue from increased investment returns.
“That’s a joke,” Bergman said. “You can’t do that. You can’t expect capital markets to give you higher than expected returns in the future because it just happened.”
Dabrowski said there are other assumptions that, if not realized, would destabilize the budget like various pension buyout schemes that are voluntary, meaning pensioners can either opt for less in the long run to save the state money, or keep their constitutionally guaranteed 3 percent compounded annual cost of living allocation increases in retirement.
The budget assumes the booming stock market and national economic upturn will continue. Dabrowski said those broad economic trends are outside of the state's control. 
“When all those things stop, when they slow down, when the economy slows down, Illinois is going to see the impact of that much greater than other states will because of the bad decisions we’ve made,” he said.
Both Bergman and Dabrowski said one thing that will compound the complications is what they expect to be continued migration of Illinois taxpayers to other states, something Illinois has experienced in greater rates than other states for several years in a row.
After the budget passed the House on Thursday, Rauner said he would enact the 1,245-page spending plan. The governor acknowledged it doesn’t address backlogged bills, reduce taxes, or contain the reforms he's pushed for since taking office. Other lawmakers have made similar statements, including budget leaders in the House and Senate and House Speaker Michael Madigan. Nearly all emphasized that the budget was a compromise.
“While there is more work to be done, this compromise budget shows yet again that when extreme demands are not preconditions to negotiation, Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature can work together to move Illinois forward,” Madigan said.


Northwest Macomb Bypass officially opens

(Photo via Emily Boyer, Tri-States Public Radio)


Nearly three years and $36 million later the Northwest Macomb Bypass is complete and open for driving. The six mile stretch of roadway, which extends from U.S. 136 north to U.S. 67, was unveiled Friday afternoon by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn, Macomb Mayor Mike Inman and other local officials. 


“Western Illinois has so much to offer the rest of the state and the nation,” Inman said. “This bypass will boost our economic opportunities and better connect us to each other. I am so proud of the incredible work IDOT and our local teams have put forth to complete this longtime project.”


The project began in July 2015 and involved building two new lanes, with room for the eventual construction of a four-lane freeway. Eight bridges and structures were included as part of the project, that completes the 537-mile Chicago-Kansas City Expressway.
“The Macomb Bypass is the culmination of decades of planning for serving this important part of the state,” Blankenhorn said. “We are excited to see how this highly-anticipated project will open doors for western Illinois to new economic opportunities and improve the quality of life in one of our state’s great communities.” 
The bypass adds a new state highway, Illinois 336, just west of Macomb. This is expected to improve local traffic flow, as trucks can travel around Macomb instead of increasing wear and tear on city streets. 
“Infrastructure investments like the Macomb Bypass keep our great state positioned as the transportation hub of North America well into the 21st century,” Rauner said. “Achieving this longtime regional goal will help grow our economy faster, create more opportunities in surrounding communities and establish western Illinois as an integral part of the national transportation system.”
The expressway, first proposed 60 years ago, has a common route designation number, bearing the Chicago – Kansas City logo from downtown Chicago to downtown Kansas City.


Macomb City Council Meeting Agenda for Monday, June 4

The Macomb City Council weekly meeting will be held Monday, June 4 at 5:15 p.m. inside City Hall. The full agenda can be viewed below. 



MONDAY, JUNE 4, 2018
5:15 P.M.
Minutes of the Macomb City Council meeting held on Monday, May 21, 2018 and Committee of the Whole meetings held on Tuesday, May 29, 2018.
Claims and Accounts
Department Reports: Police Department
Consideration to authorize the purchase of Jetter/Vac truck for the Waste Water Department in the amount of $341,674.00. 
Consideration of an ordinance to vacate the portion of the right of way in the City of Macomb that runs along the east side of Lot 1 North of the railroad of Block 54 of the Western Addition to the City of Macomb.
This ordinance will be presented for second reading and final approval. 
Consideration of an ordinance to create a Class A liquor license for Niemann Foods, Inc. d/b/a Wash “N” Win.
This ordinance will be presented for second reading and final approval. An amended copy of the ordinance is attached for your review.
Consideration to authorize the Committee of the Whole Power to Act at their meeting to be held on Monday, June 11, 2018 on an ordinance to create a Class A liquor license for Niemann Foods, Inc. d/b/a Wash “N” Win.
Consideration to authorize the solicitation for bids and to approve the professional services agreement with Maurer-Stutz, Inc. in the amount of $5,628.00 with a not to exceed of $6,000.00 for the West Grant Street pedestrian improvements.
This was discussed at committee last Monday night and final action will be in order.
Other unfinished business.
Consideration of a resolution to adopt the renaming annexation plat for the now entitled Lowderman 7th Addition to the City of Macomb (Revised from duplicate Lowderman 2nd Addition to the City of Macomb).
A copy of the resolution and plat is attached for your review. Final action will be in order.
June 4, 2018
Page 2
NEW BUSINESS – Continued
Other new business.
Reappoint Rich Wallen to the Zoning Board of Appeals
a) Appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of an employee of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (1) of the Open Meetings Act.
b) Collective Bargaining matters between the public body and its employees or 
representatives or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (2) of the Open Meetings Act.
c) The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (5) of the Open Meetings Act.
d) The setting of a price for sale or lease of property owned by the public body, 
pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (6) of the Open Meetings Act.
e) Pending or probable litigation, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (11) of the Open Meetings Act.


Phantom Regiment plans public performance June 8 on Hanson Field

(Photo via WIU News)


The Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps have announced a free performance for the public on Friday, June 8 at 8:30 p.m. on Western Illinois University’s Hanson Field. The corps have been training at WIU over the summer, and this event will showcase a portion of the show they have been working on for their upcoming tour. 
The Phantom Regiment (based in Rockford, IL) began their summer training camp at WIU’s campus on May 20. The 150-member group and its 50-member staff will begin the 16-state tour competition on Saturday, June 9. The musicians are men and women, between the ages of 17-21, from across the United States. 
The public also has the opportunity to hear the sounds of the Phantom Regiment by attending free rehearsals through June 8. Rehearsals are held most days at 9:45 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Hanson Field, Vince Grady Field and the Marching Leathernecks practice field, located west of Olson Hall.
The practice schedule can be found online


Col. Rock III announces retirement

(Photo via WIU News)
Western Illinois University’s mascot, Col. Rock III (Rocky) turned eight years old, or 56 in dog years, on March 3. This makes him eligible for retirement into the AARP- American Association of Retired Pups. 
On May 30, his owner Joe Roselieb announced that Rocky will be spending his newfound leisure time at the Roselieb “ranch” instead of suiting up in the WIU mascot jersey. An official retirement party for Rocky will be announced and fans can stay tuned for news about Col. Rock IV.
Col. Rock III joined the Leatherneck family in May, 2010 as a 10-week-old pup. Roselieb, a WIU alumnus and director of residential/auxiliary facilities at WIU, was chosen as Rocky’s handler and trainer, and Roselieb carried out this responsibility for eight years. He provided Rocky with a caring home and taught the “old” dog new tricks, while attending to his health and bringing him to a variety of WIU and community events throughout the years. 
"Raising and training Rocky is among one of the biggest highlights of my career," Roselieb said. "While he will be out of the public spotlight, he'll still be a part of our family -- and the Leatherneck family -- and he will continue to be spoiled and pampered, probably even more now. Ketra (Russell) and I look forward to introducing him and our WIU family to the newest mascot, and continuing to take care of these wonderful boys."
Col. Rock III, an English bulldog, was donated to Western by Richard and Beth Siess of the Siess Ranch in Seneca, KS. Many people and organizations have tended to Col. Rock, including Dr. Karen Blakeley of Macomb's All Pets Veterinary Clinic and the WIU School of Agriculture. 
"I cannot thank enough the Siess family, Dr. Blakely, the School of Agriculture and our many donors and friends enough who have supported Rocky over the years, and I appreciate their continued generosity for our mascot program," Roselieb added. "Rocky is definitely an asset to Western, and he truly is a great companion."


Macomb Chamber announces 'Survival Challenge'

Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a new outdoor extreme challenge event in Macomb June 20-24. The Survival Challenge will be held at 10889 E. 950th St., Macomb.


The The Ambassador Committee of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting (pictured above) on May 29 for the Survival Challenge, a new Chamber member.


Contestants who have previously applied will partake in the ultimate outdoor extreme challenge - to play Survivor in the course of four days with real Survivors from the show. Spectators are welcome to attend free of charge. More information can be found online at


Trump talks about commuting former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's sentence

(Photo via Chicago Magazine)
There's a new conversation about when former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may get out of prison.
President Donald Trump told reporters on-board Air Force One Thursday that he is thinking about commuting the former Illinois governor's 14-year prison sentence. 
Trump said he's not sure Blagojevich needs to be behind bars for "saying something stupid."
Trump said something similar in 2016 when he spoke to the Chicago Tribune editorial board. 
"I think it's an awfully tough sentence that he got, for what he supposedly did," Trump told the paper in November 2016. "Because what he did is what politicians do all the time."
The president said Thursday he is "seriously thinking of a curtailment" of the former governor's sentence. 
Not every Illinois politician agrees. 
Bloomington-Normal state Sen. Jason Barickman said ending the former governor's sentence early will not go over well with many. 
"I think it will not be well received in Illinois," Barickman said. "We are very familiar with Gov. Blagojevich's efforts to shake people down for money, for all sorts of things, including a prized U.S. senate seat."
Although Barickman said he wasn't sure talk of a commutation isn't just Trump trying to do what he does and push a story. 
Blagojevich is about halfway through his 14-year sentence in federal prison on his conviction of trying to sell President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and other corruption charges. 
The governor's lawyers said this week that they are preparing a formal petition for commutation to send to Trump. 


Rauner to sign spending plan he acknowledges doesn't address bill backlog, have reforms to grow the economy or reduce taxes

Gov. Bruce Rauner said he will sign a budget that passed both chambers for the first time in his three-and-a-half years as the state’s chief executive despite concerns from a small group of lawmakers who said the budget isn't balanced.
Critics said the budget was crafted in secret, passed just before deadline and isn't actually balanced.
One of the two “no” votes in the Senate on Wednesday, state Sen. Kyle McCarter, said the $38.5 billion budget isn’t balanced because it doesn’t address pensions and other debt.
“You’ve got $150 billion in debt and your pensions are underfunded and near bankrupt,” said McCarter, R-Lebanon. “You have to spend less and put it toward what you owe and they refuse to do that.”
Following the Senate’s approval Wednesday, the House passed the plan Thursday, the final day of session.
The plan does include some pension savings, but those are estimates based off several buyout schemes that are entirely voluntary and not guaranteed.
State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, who was one of the budgeteers putting the numbers together behind closed doors, said the process of crafting the budget that dropped on lawmakers with less than 48 hours before the deadline was bipartisan.
“It’s now our time to govern because this is our opportunity now to pass legislation to show that we can work together,” Harris said.
The vote in the House was 97-18 for the spending plan and 100-14 for the budget implementation bill, the measure that included fund transfers, the pension buyout plans and other budget enacting language.
Several representatives said they had less than a day to review the 1,245-page budget.
During debate Thursday, State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said legislators' constituents likely had no input.
“You are collectively ruled by a handful of folks that are part of the political ruling class in the state of Illinois that have been controlling this state for decades,” Ives said.
State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said the state should have to follow the same standards that local governments have to follow when it comes to budgeting.
“The state of Illinois requires all local governments to have a 30-day waiting period before passing a budget,” he said. “So that budget is public, there’s a hearing, and they have to wait 30 days until they can pass it so that everyone in the public can vote for it. I wonder why that’s good for local municipalities but not good for the legislature."
Skillicorn was a “no” vote. He said some of the things may be good, such as the pension buyout scheme, but he opposed the overall bill because it was a last-minute plan that included money for abortions and pet projects.
“I can’t vote for a budget that includes $170 million taken from the road fund for the Obama Library [in Chicago],” Skillicorn said. “[The budget] includes $20-$30 million for taxpayer funded abortions, those are things I can’t vote for.”
Although Rauner said Thursday the plan does not include much-needed debt paydown and reforms that would reduce taxes and grow the economy, he plans to sign the combined 2,000 page spending plan soon.
“We cut government bureaucracy like high-paid consultants and duplicative IT systems at state agencies to invest our finite resources in critical services, provide $350 million in new funding for public schools, and reverse the governor’s cuts to education programs, health care, child care and senior services," House speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said in a statement. “While there is more work to be done, this compromise budget shows yet again that when extreme demands are not preconditions to negotiation, Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature can work together to move Illinois forward.”
Madigan said the budget would yield a $15 million surplus, which would used to pay down old bills.
The state had more than $6.6 billion in old bills as of Thursday morning. At a rate of $15 million a year, it would take more than 440 years to wipe out the state's debt, not factoring for interest penalties and other factors.
The backlog of bills was up to $16 billion after an unprecedented two-and-a-half year budget impasse, but the state borrowed $6 billion to pay down some of that debt.