Macomb Local News

Rep. Hammond Focused on Helping the Region Move Forward After Havana Plant Closure Announcement

Macomb – Today, Vistra Energy announced their intention to retire four coal-fired power plants in Illinois by the end of the year, including the power plant in Havana. The announcement comes after the Illinois Pollution Control Board ordered Vistra to retire 2,000 MW of their coal-fired power plants in Illinois by 2020.

 

“I’m deeply disappointed in the decision to force the closure of the Havana coal plant,” said Rep. Hammond. “This was a political decision that was entirely avoidable. While I intend to do everything possible to support the workers and communities impacted, I also call on Governor Pritzker’s Administration to release a plan to ensure the job security of the plant employees and local property tax base in Mason County.”

 

The Havana Power Plant employs approximately 75 employees and produces 434 MW of power. The plant has been in operation since 1978. The plant is also a major contributor to the property tax base in Havana and Mason County. If the plant closes at the end of the year without a plan to repurpose, area schools and local governments will be forced to cut their services, or local homeowners and small businesses will see their property tax bills increase. Either action will be devastating to the local economy.

 

“Without action to mitigate the impact, this will be a heavy blow to plant workers and their families, local schools, and the area economy,” Hammond continued.  “With the plant’s closure imminently approaching, I will work with state agencies, community leaders, and Vistra Energy to ensure a smooth transition for the employees and continuity of services from local units of government. I want the employees of the Havana plant to know that my office is open to them, and I will do anything I can to ensure that they have access to all state and local services to ensure employment and retraining opportunities are available to them.”

 

Rep. Hammond has posted a list of state and local resource resources for job retraining and layoff on her website. The list will be periodically updated. To see the list, visit www.norinehammond.org/opportunities-for-displaced-workers/.

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Illinois Department of Human Rights Applaud Governor Pritzker Bill Action

Chicago, IL- Governor JB Pritzker signed critical legislation today to extend Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) protections to all employees across Illinois.

 

“The Department is proud to have supported this fundamental piece of legislation,” said Illinois Department of Human Rights Director Jim Bennett. “Today’s HB 252 signing is a major step in ensuring all employees – no matter the size of their employer – are treated with dignity and respect as delineated in the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Department is looking forward to partnering with the small business community as we work to implement these changes.”

 

Prior to today’s signature, the IHRA afforded legal protections primarily to workers employed by businesses with 15 or more employees. HB 252 makes the IHRA more inclusive by changing the definition of “employer” to “1 or more employees.”

 

Under federal anti-discrimination law, “employer” is still defined as a minimum of 15 workers. As a result of this IHRA amendment, all workers in Illinois will now have a recourse at the Illinois Department of Human Rights in cases of employment discrimination.

 

At the request of the Department of Human Rights, this new law takes effect July 1, 2020.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights administers the IHRA. The IHRA prohibits unlawful discrimination in Illinois with respect to employment, financial credit, public accommodations, housing, and sexual harassment in education. For more information about IDHR, visit our website here.  You can also find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/IllinoisDHR or follow us on Twitter @Illinois_DHR.

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Twidwell Named WIU August Employee of the Month

MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University Photography Laboratory Assistant Manager Sarah Twidwell, of the Visual Production Center has been named the Al and Elaine Goldfarb Civil Service Employee of the Month for August 2019. 

Twidwell began working at WIU in July 2012 as a digital imaging specialist at VPC, before auditing to her current position. 

Twidwell's nominator said she works "around the clock all year to ensure the University has quality images to use for the website, internal and external marketing, student life, as well as numerous community activities around Macomb. 

"She works hard to plan and cover photo shoots, as well as uploading and editing in a timely manner," said her nominator. "She is able to capture the beauty and life of Western through her lens. She is also able to capture the best moments of a student's life, whether they are an athlete, participating in an organization event, snagging a photo with Col. Rock at his birthday party or receiving his or her diploma at Commencement. These events are frozen in time with her keen eye and camera."

In August 2010, the Goldfarbs established an endowment to permanently fund the University's Civil Service Employee of the Month award. The Goldfarb endowment is used to fund a $100 award for the recipient of the Civil Service Employee of the Month, as well as a plaque. 

The WIU Foundation provides a $500 stipend for the Civil Service Employee of the Year. Western faculty, staff and administrators, as well as community members, wishing to nominate a civil service employee for the monthly recognition should contact Civil Service Employees Council (CSEC) representative Christine Staley at CD-Staley@wiu.edu.
 

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Sen. Tracy: Vistra decision a blow to Western Illinois region

SPRINGFIELD – Vistra’s announcement Aug. 21 that it would close Power Plants in Havana and Canton is an economic blow to its employees, nearby communities and the western Illinois region, according to State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy).

The 47th District Senator says the two Power Plants play important roles in the local and regional economies.

 

“This is tough news for these hard-working employees and the many businesses, large and small, that they support in their communities. Besides the actual employment, these long-standing plants have also played an active role in donating to worthy causes in these communities,” Tracy said.

 

“Along with several of my colleagues, I have worked with the leadership of Vistra, which was previously owned by DYNEGY, to find a solution to the regulatory policies that have forced this decision,” Tracy added. “In the end, however, the powers that control the Legislature didn’t hear our explanations of how these regulations could result in Power Plant closures – and jobs losses for hundreds of people. I will continue to monitor the situation and hope our community will support these employees and their families in this difficult time.”

 

 
 
 

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New Doppler Radar in Place on WIU's Memorial Hall

MACOMB, IL – A new addition to the top of Western Illinois University's Memorial Hall in recent weeks will result in the ability to better predict weather systems approaching the region, as well as added educational opportunities for University students. 

The WIU Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Geographic Information Sciences recently purchased a Doppler Radar from the Furuno company. The unit was partially paid for by a trust gift from WIU Professor Emeritus John F. Blauvelt, who taught at Western for 45 years and passed away in 2016, and by donations from McDonough Power Cooperative in Macomb and a group of donors through an online campaign to pay for radar maintenance. 

The unit, which has the WIU logo on its outside covering, was raised on to the roof of Memorial Hall two weeks ago by Supreme Radio and placed on its tower. Technicians from Furuno were on campus last week to install and activate the radar and to conduct training sessions on its use. The installation was aided by the campus offices of Facilities Management, University Technology and Central Receiving. 

In the coming weeks, the machine will be calibrated and available for use in University classrooms and by the county's Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) office. 

Prior to the installation, local weather information came from a radar based in the Quad Cities. Because the radar beam had to travel so far, the image was typically only being read from the tops of local clouds. The new radar, which rotates 360 degrees, will read about 70 kilometers, or 45 miles surrounding Macomb. 

The new unit will give a much higher resolution radar image and will offer more detailed information to forecasters, including rainfall totals, possible rotation in clouds, hail formation and other weather features. 

"This is a total departure from traditional radar images; the resolution is many times clearer," said Gil Passwaters, Furuno project manager. "The data will look totally different from what people are used to."

WIU Meteorology Professor Redina Finch said the higher resolution weather information will allow better storm tracking capabilities. 

"We have a graduate student creating a users' guide to the radar for the public so they will know how to use and interpret the data," said Finch. 

WIU Associate Professor of Meteorology Marcus Büker said the data produced by the new unit will be invaluable in the University's classrooms. 

"We will be able to show through the radar data what's happening on the ground," said Büker. "We will be able to tell, within seconds, when it's going to start raining. This unit has two beams to access how big particles are in two ways, which will allow us to classify precipitation, such as whether it is rain, snow, or hail. This is the first time we will be able to differentiate."

The National Weather Service will have access to the data images produced by the new unit. The new images will also allow for the tracking of bird, bat and insect migrations, and debris plumes from fires. Officials will be able to control the radar from Linux workstations in the Meteorology Lab or from home if interesting weather happens at night when no one is in the office.

Passwaters said the radar allows for the archiving of data, so regional storm systems can be used as examples for academic lessons. 

"It allows for storms to be studied later," he said. "The images are very involved and the information the unit can provide can be lifesaving."

The hope is that the images can eventually be linked to a weather app, so live, local radar can be accessed on local residents' mobile devices. 

Finch said she envisions the new radar being used by students in meteorology classes, but also in emergency management, law enforcement and justice administration and broadcasting classrooms. Students will also be involved in radar image interpretation and maintaining the website where the radar images will be available. 

The department is continuing to raise money for the project to purchase additional software and data storage for the unit. 

For more information about the WIU Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Geographic Information Sciences, visit wiu.edu/eagis
 

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (JK-Pospeschil@wiu.edu)

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New Doppler Radar in Place on WIU's Memorial Hall

MACOMB, IL – A new addition to the top of Western Illinois University's Memorial Hall in recent weeks will result in the ability to better predict weather systems approaching the region, as well as added educational opportunities for University students. 

The WIU Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Geographic Information Sciences recently purchased a Doppler Radar from the Furuno company. The unit was partially paid for by a trust gift from WIU Professor Emeritus John F. Blauvelt, who taught at Western for 45 years and passed away in 2016, and by donations from McDonough Power Cooperative in Macomb and a group of donors through an online campaign to pay for radar maintenance. 

 

Photo by WIU GIS Center drone

The unit, which has the WIU logo on its outside covering, was raised on to the roof of Memorial Hall two weeks ago by Supreme Radio and placed on its tower. Technicians from Furuno were on campus last week to install and activate the radar and to conduct training sessions on its use. The installation was aided by the campus offices of Facilities Management, University Technology and Central Receiving. 

In the coming weeks, the machine will be calibrated and available for use in University classrooms and by the county's Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) office. 

Prior to the installation, local weather information came from a radar based in the Quad Cities. Because the radar beam had to travel so far, the image was typically only being read from the tops of local clouds. The new radar, which rotates 360 degrees, will read about 70 kilometers, or 45 miles surrounding Macomb. 

The new unit will give a much higher resolution radar image and will offer more detailed information to forecasters, including rainfall totals, possible rotation in clouds, hail formation and other weather features. 

"This is a total departure from traditional radar images; the resolution is many times clearer," said Gil Passwaters, Furuno project manager. "The data will look totally different from what people are used to."

WIU Meteorology Professor Redina Finch said the higher resolution weather information will allow better storm tracking capabilities. 

"We have a graduate student creating a users' guide to the radar for the public so they will know how to use and interpret the data," said Finch. 

WIU Associate Professor of Meteorology Marcus Büker said the data produced by the new unit will be invaluable in the University's classrooms. 

"We will be able to show through the radar data what's happening on the ground," said Büker. "We will be able to tell, within seconds, when it's going to start raining. This unit has two beams to access how big particles are in two ways, which will allow us to classify precipitation, such as whether it is rain, snow, or hail. This is the first time we will be able to differentiate."

The National Weather Service will have access to the data images produced by the new unit. The new images will also allow for the tracking of bird, bat and insect migrations, and debris plumes from fires. Officials will be able to control the radar from Linux workstations in the Meteorology Lab or from home if interesting weather happens at night when no one is in the office.

Passwaters said the radar allows for the archiving of data, so regional storm systems can be used as examples for academic lessons. 

"It allows for storms to be studied later," he said. "The images are very involved and the information the unit can provide can be lifesaving."

The hope is that the images can eventually be linked to a weather app, so live, local radar can be accessed on local residents' mobile devices. 

Finch said she envisions the new radar being used by students in meteorology classes, but also in emergency management, law enforcement and justice administration and broadcasting classrooms. Students will also be involved in radar image interpretation and maintaining the website where the radar images will be available. 

The department is continuing to raise money for the project to purchase additional software and data storage for the unit. 

For more information about the WIU Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Geographic Information Sciences, visit wiu.edu/eagis

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (JK-Pospeschil@wiu.edu)

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IDVA-IDPH Respiratory Illness Notification

QUINCY – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are investigating 9 confirmed communicable respiratory illnesses and 3 possible illnesses among residents at the Illinois Veterans’ Home – Quincy (IVHQ). Symptoms were exhibited by residents during the period of July 24, 2019 – August 10, 2019.
 
Current investigative findings suggest a common bacterial or viral cause, which tend to occur with greater frequency at this time of year due to seasonal uptick. The Adams County Health Department is also assisting in this investigation to identify and mitigate possible sources of the respiratory illnesses. Legionella is not suspected as the cause.
 
IVHQ has alerted all patients, family, and staff about the rise in the number of illnesses. IDPH is assisting with the investigation, providing guidance on clinical testing, infection control, and steps to implement to safeguard everyone at the facility.
 
“Our first concern is the safety and well-being of our state’s veteran heroes,” said Linda Chapa LaVia, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “We notified the residents, their families, and our employees, in addition to posting the notification and updates as new cases have been confirmed at the facility and on our website. We continue to work with IDPH and the Adams County Health Department to investigate the root cause and ensure our residents continue to receive the utmost care.”
 
All IDVA illness notifications may be found at www.veterans.illinois.gov.
 
“The health, safety, and high quality of life for the residents remains our highest priority,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We will continue to support IVHQ and work with local partners to identify the cause and implement necessary interventions.”
 
For more information please visit www.dph.illinois.gov.

 

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Kathy Simmons Memorial 5K Raises Over $5,000

Macomb, Illinois, August 2019 – The Kathy Simmons Memorial 5K Walk/Run/Roll was held on Saturday, May 4 in Macomb. Ms. Simmons was a compassionate nurse at McDonough District Hospital, a resident of Hancock County, and mother of three children. On March 26, 2003, she became a fatal victim of domestic violence by the hands of her husband of 25 years. This annual event is held in memory of Kathy Simmons and in support of victims/survivors of domestic violence in western Illinois. All donations and proceeds benefited Victim Services. 

 

Kiryn Evans, Kathy Simmons’ daughter and an advocate for domestic violence awareness, spoke in her mother’s honor before the race. “Unfortunately there are many, many women and children who do not survive violence, and my mother was one of those people,” Evans said. Evans emphasized that all funds raised for the event stay local and that her family sees none of the proceeds.  Victim Services Director Naomi Taylor discussed Victim Services’ free programs and thanked everyone who contributed to this year’s race. In particular, Taylor wants to thank Medi-Weightloss (Peoria, IL) for their generous $2,000 donation. 

 

This year, $5,630 was raised for survivors served by Victim Services.

 

An informational display was available for the 61 attendees to learn about the history of the event and Victim Services’ free programs. After the race, a raffle was held with prizes donated from local businesses. Awards were presented to the top male and female runners in each age category by Victim Services’ Domestic Violence Legal Advocate/5K Program Coordinator Becky Cox-Medina and Kiryn Evans. A Serena Williams bag, valued at $300, was awarded to a lucky contestant courtesy of Stacy Foxall of All-State Insurance in Macomb.

 

 

Victim Services provides free and confidential services in a safe environment with knowledgeable staff members who are ready to provide emergency services, advocacy, counseling, professional training, and public education. For more information about their programs, visit wirpc.org, find WIRC-CAA Victim Services on Facebook, or call (309) 837-6622. 

If you or someone you know are being abused, call their 24-hour free and confidential crisis hotline at (309) 837-5555.

 

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Universitywide Kinder Mondays Program Continues

MACOMB, IL – Making the world a kinder place one Monday at a time.  

Kinder Mondays, which started as a program created by two counselors from the Western Illinois University Counseling Center in Fall 2016, has grown into a Universitywide program that aims to bring a little more kindness into people's lives. 

Amy Buwick, director of the University Counseling Center, and counselor Ana Diaz developed Kinder Mondays (KM) in Fall 2016 a way to add to the positive environment at the University and, at the same time, encourage others to "pay it forward." Buwick decided that beginning this fall, this initiative needed to be extended Universitywide. 

"Ana and I started Kinder Mondays on a whim; it was an idea to contribute to the University environment and to encourage others to do the same," Buwick said. "There can be so much negativity and unkindness in the world. We need to do our part in making the world a kinder place."

#WIUKinderMondays kicked off today (Aug. 19) with the WIU Office of Financial Aid and University Housing and Dining Services (UHDS). Beginning at 10 a.m., Financial Aid staff will hand out freezer pops outside of Sherman Hall 127 (until supplies run out), and UHDS staff are running the "UHDS Uber" (golf carts) today from 9 a.m. through noon throughout campus, giving students a ride to class. WIU Campus Recreation is also handing out bottles of water from 10-11 a.m. in the rec center. 

Each Monday, a different University office (or offices) will serve as a Kinder Monday "host." The hope is that the kindness is paid forward, Buwick added.

Offices, organizations and departments interested in serving as Kinder Monday ambassadors can contact Buwick at (309) 298-2453 or AJ-Buwick to be added to the KM list. 

KM hosts during the Fall 2019 semester, to date, include: 

Aug. 26 – Chi Omega, outside of University Union, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (handing out suckers)
Sept. 9 – Beu Health Center (TBA)
Sept. 16 – UHDS (letters to freshmen)
Sept. 23 – Office of Student Rights, Responsibility & Retention (TBA)
Sept. 30 – Women's Center (TBA)
Oct. 7 – Office of Public Safety (TBA)
Oct. 14 – University Relations (time & location, TBA) (WIU stickers/WIU "swag")
Oct. 28 – Student Development & Success Center, outside of Memorial Hall 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Halloween candy)
Nov. 4 – Veterans Resource Center (TBA)
Dec. 2 – Office of Student Activities (time & location TBA) (Smarties & positive affirmation notes)

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Universitywide Kinder Mondays Program Continues

MACOMB, IL – Making the world a kinder place one Monday at a time.  

Kinder Mondays, which started as a program created by two counselors from the Western Illinois University Counseling Center in Fall 2016, has grown into a Universitywide program that aims to bring a little more kindness into people's lives. 

Amy Buwick, director of the University Counseling Center, and counselor Ana Diaz developed Kinder Mondays (KM) in Fall 2016 a way to add to the positive environment at the University and, at the same time, encourage others to "pay it forward." Buwick decided that beginning this fall, this initiative needed to be extended Universitywide. 

"Ana and I started Kinder Mondays on a whim; it was an idea to contribute to the University environment and to encourage others to do the same," Buwick said. "There can be so much negativity and unkindness in the world. We need to do our part in making the world a kinder place."

#WIUKinderMondays kicked off today (Aug. 19) with the WIU Office of Financial Aid and University Housing and Dining Services (UHDS). Beginning at 10 a.m., Financial Aid staff will hand out freezer pops outside of Sherman Hall 127 (until supplies run out), and UHDS staff are running the "UHDS Uber" (golf carts) today from 9 a.m. through noon throughout campus, giving students a ride to class. WIU Campus Recreation is also handing out bottles of water from 10-11 a.m. in the rec center. 

Each Monday, a different University office (or offices) will serve as a Kinder Monday "host." The hope is that the kindness is paid forward, Buwick added.

Offices, organizations and departments interested in serving as Kinder Monday ambassadors can contact Buwick at (309) 298-2453 or AJ-Buwick to be added to the KM list. 

KM hosts during the Fall 2019 semester, to date, include: 

Aug. 26 – Chi Omega, outside of University Union, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (handing out suckers)
Sept. 9 – Beu Health Center (TBA)
Sept. 16 – UHDS (letters to freshmen)
Sept. 23 – Office of Student Rights, Responsibility & Retention (TBA)
Sept. 30 – Women's Center (TBA)
Oct. 7 – Office of Public Safety (TBA)
Oct. 14 – University Relations (time & location, TBA) (WIU stickers/WIU "swag")
Oct. 28 – Student Development & Success Center, outside of Memorial Hall 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Halloween candy)
Nov. 4 – Veterans Resource Center (TBA)
Dec. 2 – Office of Student Activities (time & location TBA) (Smarties & positive affirmation notes)

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2019's Best & Worst States for Women's Equality – WalletHub Study

With Women’s Equality Day around the corner and the U.S. ranking No. 51 out of 149 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index – falling two spots since the previous year – the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2019’s Best & Worst States for Women's Equality as well as accompanying videos.

In order to determine where women receive the most equal treatment in American society, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 17 key metrics. The data set ranges from the gap between female and male executives to the disparity in unemployment rates for women and men.

Women’s Equality in Illinois (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

  • 42nd – Earnings Gap
  • 44th – Executive Positions Gap
  • 16th – Work Hours Gap
  • 1st – Educational Attainment Gap (among Advanced Degree Holders)
  • 1st – Minimum-Wage Workers Gap
  • 1st – Unemployment Rate Gap
  • 36th – Entrepreneurship Rate Gap
  • 12th – Political Representation Gap

For the full report, please visit: 
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-women-equality/5835/

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Filipink to Deliver Sept. 11-12 John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture

MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University History Professor Richard Filipink will deliver the 17th annual John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture, "It Depends Who Writes the History, Henry: History's Role in the Liberal Arts and Creating an Educated Citizen," Wednesday, Sept. 11 on the Quad Cities campus and Thursday, Sept. 12 on the Macomb campus. 

The Quad Cities lecture begins at 3 p.m. in the Quad Cities Complex, room 2102, and the Macomb lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the University Union Grand Ballroom. 

Filipink came to WIU in Fall 2006, moving from assistant professor to full professor since that time. Prior to coming to WIU, Filipink taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo, State University of New York at Fredonia, Saint Bonaventure University and Buffalo State College. He has published one book, called "Dwight Eisenhower and American Foreign Policy During the 1960s: An American Lion in Winter," as well as several journal articles and book reviews. 

"I am excited to have the opportunity to deliver the 2019 Hallwas Lecture and talk about the importance of American History in, as the title of my talk states, 'creating an educated citizen,'" he said. 

Filipink received his bachelor's and doctoral degrees from the State University of New York. 

At Western, he teaches a variety of classes, including U.S. history since 1977, military history and foreign policy. He has received numerous awards from the University during his time here, including research awards and excellence in teaching awards. 

The John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture is named for WIU Professor Emeritus and Historian John Hallwas, who delivered the inaugural College of Arts and Sciences lecture in September 2003. The Liberal Arts Lecture is an outgrowth of WIU's College of Arts and Sciences liberal arts discussion group, formed in 2002, as a way to express commitment to a liberal arts education at Western and share approaches for maintaining a high quality educational program.

The College of Arts and Sciences announced the renaming of the lecture to the John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture in September 2004, at Hallwas' retirement reception, where he was honored for 34 years of service to Western Illinois as an English professor and archivist, as well as a public scholar, regional historian and community activist.

For more information about the Hallwas Lecture, visit wiu.edu/cas/about/hallwas_lecture_series.

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Severe Thunderstorm Warnings expire

All Severe storm warnings have been cancelled. Stay up-to-date with local news, sports and weather, visit macombnewsnow.com

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Severe thunderstorm watch In Effect

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 602 REMAINS VALID UNTIL 3 PM CDT THIS AFTERNOON FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS IN ILLINOIS THIS WATCH INCLUDES 11 COUNTIES IN NORTH CENTRAL ILLINOIS BUREAU PUTNAM IN NORTHWEST ILLINOIS CARROLL HENRY IL MERCER ROCK ISLAND WHITESIDE IN WEST CENTRAL ILLINOIS HANCOCK HENDERSON MCDONOUGH WARREN IN IOWA THIS WATCH INCLUDES 4 COUNTIES IN EAST CENTRAL IOWA CLINTON SCOTT IN SOUTHEAST IOWA LEE VAN BUREN IN MISSOURI THIS WATCH INCLUDES 2 COUNTIES IN NORTHEAST MISSOURI CLARK SCOTLAND THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF ALEDO, BETTENDORF, CARTHAGE, CLINTON, CREDIT ISLAND, DAVENPORT, GENESEO, HENNEPIN, KAHOKA, KEOKUK, KEOSAUQUA, MACOMB, MEMPHIS, MOLINE, MONMOUTH, MOUNT CARROLL, OQUAWKA, PRINCETON, ROCK ISLAND, AND STERLING.

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WIU School of Music Professor Chosen for Second Residency at Copland House

MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University School of Music Professor James Romig is one of 12 composers from 10 states chosen for a Copland House Residency Award. 

This is Romig's second residency at Copland House. He was chosen from more than 140 applicants from 25 states, the District of Columbia and three countries by a jury of composers. 

Earlier this year, Romig was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his 55-minute piano solo composition, "Still." The composition debuted in 2017 and was released in 2018 by New World Records. It was performed by Romig's wife, Ashlee Mack, the director of piano studies at Knox College in Galesburg, IL. 

Since Copland House residency program was launched 21 years ago, it has awarded nearly 200 residencies. Through the program, the selected composers earn an all-expense-paid, short-term stay at the home in the Lower Hudson Valley. The space provides composers an uninterrupted space to work. 

"I'm absolutely delighted to be returning to Aaron Copland's quiet and beautiful estate in upstate New York, and, of course, it's an honor to be in the company of all the composers who have received the residency award this year and in the past," said Romig. "A residency like Copland House offers valuable time away from the day-to-day routine of life in the University, so I look forward to having the month of December to create and reflect."

While staying at Copland House, Romig said he will be working on a new composition for harp and string quartets, which will be premiered in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2020, by Katie Buckley and the Siggi Quartet. 

Romig has been a guest composer at the American Academy in Rome and at many universities across the United States. He is the director of composition in WIU's School of Music. 

Copland House is based about one hour north of New York City, and is where influential musical figure Aaron Copland lived for the last 30 years of his life, until 1990. A few years after his death, a movement was undertaken to restore his historic residence as a way to advocate for American composers. The home became operational in 1998 as a not-for-profit center to support composers sand provide residencies. 

For additional information about Copland House, visit coplandhouse.org. For more information about Romig, visit jamesromig.com.

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Friday Is First Responders Day at Illinois State Fair

Springfield, IL – Illinois State Fair officials honor first responders Friday, August 16th by offering free admission to all police officers, firefighters, and EMTs who present their badge at the gate on First Responders Day.

 

There are many exciting things to see and do at the Illinois State Fair, here are just a few highlights of the events for Friday:

 

• Bake a Cake Cupcake Contest 9:00 AM at the Hobbies, Arts & Crafts Building
• IL State Treasurer Unclaimed Property Auction 11:00 AM at the Lincoln Stage
• Fly Fishing Clinic 1:30 PM in Conservation World
• Monster & Mega Truck Show 7:30 PM in the Multi Purpose Arena
• Snoop Dogg & Friends at 8:00 PM at the Grandstand

 

For more information, check out the Illinois State Fair website at www.IllinoisStateFair.info, or download our mobile app in the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store

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Iowa's Unemployment Rate Increases to 2.5 Percent

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly to 2.5 percent in July. The state’s jobless rate was 2.4 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent in July.

 

"After a solid year of 2.4 percent unemployment, unemployment ticked up slightly to 2.5 percent. However, the number of working Iowans increased to 1,680,500 in July, which is 4,000 higher than June and 35,500 higher than one year ago," said Beth Townsend, Director, Iowa Workforce Development. "We continue to have more job openings than we have Iowans to fill them. We have recently seen hundreds of Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarships awarded by our community colleges which is a good indication that there are many Iowans who want to get upskilled to take advantage of all of the good jobs available in Iowa."   

 

The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 42,800 in July from 41,400 in June. The current estimate is 1,800 higher than the year ago level of 41,000.

 

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,680,500 in July. This figure was 4,000 higher than June and 35,500 higher than one year ago.

        

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Business establishments in Iowa gained 1,800 jobs in July and have now expanded payrolls in each of the last four months. Private service industries were responsible for all of the growth this month. Goods-producing industries contracted by 200 jobs. Government displayed little movement compared to June and has increased only slightly versus last year. Private industry has advanced by 9,900 jobs over the past twelve months.

 

Professional and business services gained the most jobs in July (+1,400) and were fueled by hiring in administrative and support services (+700). This sector has been disappointing thus far this year, adding jobs in just two months. Professional, scientific, and technical services fared well this month (+600) and is up 1,200 jobs over last year. Leisure and hospitality advanced by 1,100 and has been propelled by hiring in accommodations and food services (+900). The hiring has been especially strong in the Des Moines area. Other gains this month included 500 jobs in construction. This was the fourth consecutive gain for this sector. Job losses were limited to just three sectors, but concentrated within the financial services sector (-1,000). Finance and insurance has been particularly weak recently, shedding 900 jobs in July and generally trending down over the past twelve months. Manufacturing also took a step back this month (-700) following a moderate gain in June. This month’s paring was mostly the result of declines in durable goods factories (-900).

 

Over the past twelve months, total nonfarm employment has advanced by 10,200 with manufacturing adding the most jobs (+6,100). Non-durable goods factories have now outpaced the job growth in durable goods shops following its reduction this month. Education and health services are up 2,500 jobs due to strong gains in health care and social assistance (+3,400). Super sector losses are now led by financial activities (-1,800). This sector has shown been trimming payrolls at an increasing rate throughout this year. Information continues to adjust to changing technologies and is down 1,400 jobs. Retail trade continues to adjust to shifting consumer preferences and has been a strain to trade, transportation, and utilities which is otherwise adding jobs. Overall, this super sector is down 1,000 jobs annually.

 

Visit www.iowalmi.gov for more information about current and historical data, labor force data, nonfarm employment, hours and earnings, and jobless benefits by county.

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Illinois Payrolls Hold Steady in July

CHICAGO–The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that nonfarm payrolls were about unchanged over-the-month, down -400 jobs, and the unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in July, down -0.1 percentage point from the prior month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The June jobs increase was revised from the preliminary report (from +11,400 to +7,600 jobs).

 

Illinois payroll employment has shown variability since the beginning of the year, as have National payrolls. Average payroll employment growth in Illinois during the May to July three-month period, which provides a more stable measure of payroll employment change, was +3,100 jobs, with the largest gains in Leisure and Hospitality (+3,300), Educational and Health Services (+1,400) and Government (+700).
 
“This administration has been hard at work supporting our state’s recent strong job growth with policies aimed at raising wages for workers while investing in education and workforce development,” said Deputy Governor Dan Hynes. “Governor Pritzker recently signed a bipartisan budget and capital bill that restores fiscal responsibility to state government and makes the critical investments in our roads and bridges to ensure Illinois is well positioned for continued economic growth.” 

 

“Illinois is home to an innovative business community and a talented workforce comprised of the hardest working people in the country. By signing legislation like the apprenticeship tax credit and the data center tax incentive, Governor Pritzker is laying the groundwork for continued job growth across the state,” said Erin Guthrie, Acting Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

 

Over-the-year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +62,700 jobs with the largest gains in these industry sectors in July: Leisure and Hospitality (+22,100) and Educational and Health Services (+18,500) and Professional and Business Services (+8,400). The industry sectors with over-the-year declines were: Information (-5,200), Construction (-900) and Mining (-500). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were up +1.0 percent over-the-year as compared to the nation’s +1.5 percent over-the-year gain in July.

 

The state’s unemployment rate is +0.5 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for July  2019, which was 3.7 percent and unchanged from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was unchanged from a year ago when it was 4.2 percent.

 

The number of unemployed workers decreased from the prior month, -1.7 percent to 272,600, and was down -0.7 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force was up +0.1 percentage point over-the-month and +0.6 percentage point over-the-year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and are seeking employment.

 

An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work. To help connect jobseekers to employers who are hiring, IDES’ maintains the state’s largest job search engine, IllinoisJoblink.com (IJL), which recently showed 60,334 posted resumes with 97,910 jobs available.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

 

Illinois Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs – by Major Industry

 

• 2014-2018 seasonally adjusted labor force data for Illinois, and all other states, have been revised as required by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The monthly historical revisions to state labor force estimates reflect new national benchmark controls, state working-age population controls, seasonal factors, as well as updated total nonfarm jobs and unemployment benefits claims inputs.  Illinois labor force data were also smoothed to eliminate large monthly changes as a result of volatility in the monthly Census Population Survey (CPS) and national benchmarking. For these reasons, the comments and tables citing unemployment rates in previous state news releases/materials may no longer be valid.


• Monthly seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Illinois and the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division are available here: Illinois & Chicago Metropolitan Area

 

Unemployment Rates


• Monthly 1990-2018 seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment data for Illinois have been revised. To control for potential survey error, the estimates are benchmarked annually to universal counts derived primarily from unemployment insurance tax reports. 
• Not seasonally adjusted jobs data with industry detail are available at Not Seasonally Adjusted Jobs. “Other Services” include activities in three broad categories: Personal and laundry; repair and maintenance; and religious, grant making, civic and professional organizations.  Seasonally adjusted employment data for subsectors within industries are not available

 

About IDES : IDES encourages employment by connecting employers to jobseekers, provides unemployment insurance benefits to eligible individuals, produces labor market data and protects taxpayers from unemployment insurance fraud. Visit the Department’s website at www.ides.illinois.gov for more information. You can also follow IDES on Twitter and Facebook.

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Today in Milan: Bustos to Hold Ag Discussion With University of Illinois Extension

Milan, Il-- Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) will continue her 21st Century Heartland Tour with a discussion on agriculture related issues with the University of Illinois Extension which serves Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark Counties. Earlier this month, Congresswoman Bustos submitted a framework of principles and policies to combat climate change and spur economic growth – called the Rural Green Partnership – to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The Rural Green Partnership details the resources rural America holds to tackle the climate crisis and grow the economy, which includes the use of technical training schools like land-grant universities such as the University of Illinois. As part of her 21st Century Heartland Tour, Congresswoman Bustos will hold events during the month of August focused on issues important to rural communities and the agricultural economy.

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Illinois State Fair Plans Weekend of Destruction

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Get ready for a smashing good time! Illinois State Fair officials have once again teamed up with Shaner Promotions for the ever popular demolition derby where powerful machines lock horns for prizes during a weekend of destruction.

 

It all begins in the Multi Purpose Arena on Friday August 16th at 7:30 pm with Monster & Mega Trucks, boat races, and rock crawlers. Then Saturday August 17th, the Illinois Championship Demolition Derby begins at 6:30pm opening with “Kids Tire Wheels” where children ages 3-9 crash into each other in battery operated cars. When the dust settles, they’ll receive medals for their bravery! Then total annihilation ensues with compact, full-size and bone stock racing and five classes of demolition derbies including the popular “Powder Puff” all girl’s derby.

 

Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster (online or mobile app) or through the Fair’s Grandstand Box office in-person or by calling 217-782-1979.

 

Monster & Mega Truck -  $15 Adult and $5 Child (12 and under)


Demolition Derby - $20 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

 

“The Demolition Derby is a featured favorite of the Illinois State Fair,” said Kevin Gordon Illinois State Fair Manager. “Shaner Promotions puts on a crowd-pleasing show, perfect for the whole family.”

 

For demolition rule questions contact Andrew Langley at 217-652-7064, and for all other questions contact Shane McDermith with Shaner Promotions at 217-529-6400.

For information on fair events, visit the Illinois State Fair website, IllinoisStateFair.info.

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Barn 25Q Rennovations Completed

Springfield, IL – The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) celebrated at the Illinois State Fair with a ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of the Barn 25Q renovation. Barn 25Q is a part of the historic 25 barn series on the Illinois State Fairgrounds and the first of the series barns to get a makeover.

 

 The cooperative’s corporate giving program, the Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America, has committed to donating $180,000 over the next three years to the Illinois State Fairgrounds Foundation to support the renovations of one 25 series barn each year. Barn 25Q is the first barn to be completed thanks to this gift.

 

“The Illinois State Fair is at the heart of Illinois agriculture, and these buildings are just a small part of the pulse that is the fair, showcasing the long history and modern aspects of agriculture,” said John Monson, chief marketing and mission officer at Compeer. “Our Fund Board believed this commitment was a great way to support the fair, and the agricultural families that look forward to the fair each year.”

 

Improvements that were made to Barn 25Q include cleaning exterior walls, re-tuckpointing all mortar joints, resealing all windows with caulking, interior paint and the addition of three high volume / low velocity circulation fans.The Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation contracted with a masonry firm to provide the tuckpointing services and window repairs as well as a painting contractor to address the interior of the structure.  The IDOA provided the labor to install the new fans, upgrade the electrical system, and paint the exterior trim. 

 

Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Compeer Financials’ Board of Directors has dedicated one percent of annual net earnings to support the giving back through the Fund for Rural America. 

 

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Move-In Week Activities to Begin Friday

 

 

With the start of the 2019-20 school year set to begin shortly, excitement has begun growing for the influx of students set to make Macomb their home this fall. Western Illinois University has announced official times and dates for all of its annual Move-In Week activities. 

 

For incoming transfers and freshmen, Move-In Day begins at 8 AM on Friday, August 16, while returning undergraduate/graduate students will be able to move in at any time from August 16-18. Following new student move in, there will be a New Student Convocation held in Western Hall at 5 PM. This will serve as an informal welcome to the Macomb campus, and will feature speakers like recently appointed Acting President, Martin Abraham. Macomb Mayor Mike Inman will also be hosting a picnic for incoming students on the campus mall. 

 

Following all of the Move-In Day activities, WIU will play host to its annual “Rocky After Dark: First Night Fun” event. This is an opportunity for incoming students to make new friends and interact with their fellow students and is hosted annually at Hanson Field. The event will begin at 8:30 PM. 

 

New this year, “Neck Up the Square” will be held in the Courthouse Square courtesy of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development and WIU, on Friday August 23. Additionally the school will host its semesterly activities fair from 3-5 PM on Wednesday, August 28. Head over to wiu.edu/welcome for more information on how students can better familiarize themselves with campus.

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'Life or Death' Ad Campaign Expanded to Include Scott's Law

 

Recently the Illinois Department of Transportation has been ramping up the tone of their advertisements, painting issues such as driving while intoxicated (both through alcohol and drugs), driving without your seatbelt, and driving while texting, as truly life or death issues. The campaign has featured stunningly graphic footage of folks being thrown through windshields, people being hauled away on gurneys towards ambulances, and more instances of the consequences of impaired or unsafe driving. Now the ads will begin to showcase Scott’s Law, a recent Illinois law put in place in order to protect first responders and frontline highway workers on the road.

 

The video will feature actual footage of former Illinois State Police trooper Kyle Deatherage being struck and killed while making a traffic stop around Litchfield in 2012. It is expected that this video will be shown across multiple platforms including on social media and other online platforms, though it most prominently will air on television. 

 

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Wednesday Is Governor's Day At The Illinois State Fair

Springfield, IL – Wednesday, August 14th is Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair. While Governor Pritzker attends much of the fair, this is his day to host special guests.

There are many exciting things to see and do at the Illinois State Fair, here are just a few highlights of the events for Wednesday:

 

• Hereford, Poland China, Chester White & Spotted Swine Shows 8:00 AM in the Swine Barn
• Springfield Youth Performance Group 12:00 PM at the Illinois Building
• Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show 3:00 PM in Conservation World
• World Record Balloon Stunt Show at 4:00 PM at the Main Street Stage
• Pentatonix with Rachel Platten 8:00 PM Grandstand

 

For more information, check out the Illinois State Fair website at www.IllinoisStateFair.info, or download our mobile app in the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store.

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Attorney General Raoul Files Brief With U.S. Supreme Court In Support Of States' Rights To Enact Gun Safety Regulations

Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 13 attorneys general, today announced an amicus brieffiled with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting New York City’s right to enact commonsense gun safety regulations. In the brief, Raoul and the coalition argue that New York City’s independence and sovereignty must be respected as it seeks toensure the safety of its residents.

 

Raoul and the coalition filed the amicus brief late Monday urging the Supreme Court to uphold a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling which held that states and localities can impose certain types of firearm regulations when they are substantially related to an important government objective, such as the protection of their citizens.

 

“From my home in Chicago, to Peoria, Rockford, East St. Louis, Danville, and every community in between, gun violence impacts all of Illinois. As Attorney General and as a father, I am committed to advocating for policies that will protect families from gun violence,” Raoul said. “It is imperative that states maintain the right to enact laws that address the unique circumstances within their borders and keep their communities safe.” 

 

In 2013, the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and three residents of New York City filed a lawsuit challenging the then-existing New York City regulation in the Southern District of New York (SDNY). The regulation restricted the transport of firearms held under a premises license, unless the firearms are unloaded, locked, carried separate from ammunition, and transported within city limits. The plaintiffs alleged that the regulation violated the Second Amendment, the dormant Commerce Clause, and the constitutional right to travel. After losing in the SDNY and, subsequently, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, the four plaintiffs took their case to the United States Supreme Court.

 

In the amicus brief, Raoul and the states argue that the Supreme Court has made clear that state and local governments throughout the nation may tailor their firearm safety regulations to deal with varying circumstances in each local jurisdiction, which is what New York City did to protect public safety in the largest, densest, and most urbanized major city in the nation. Additionally, Raoul and the attorneys general make clear that the plaintiffs’ Commerce Clause and right-to-travel claims should also be rejected because states and localities have the right to impose restrictions on firearm transportation.

 

Joining Attorney General Raoul in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

 

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