Macomb Local News Archives for 2019-02

28th Desert Storm Remembrance Ceremony held Today in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD – Today in Springfield, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) hosted a Desert Storm Remembrance event in honor of Desert Storm veterans and paid tribute to the fallen heroes of the conflict from Illinois. IDVA Acting Director Linda Chapa LaVia said, “Today we honor the brave men and women who fought for their country during the Gulf War.”


Governor JB Pritzker also said that February 28, 2019 would be known as “Desert Storm Remembrance Day” in Illinois. It would be in the memory of all the fallen who died during Desert Storm and to tribute all who sacrificed their bodies for their country.


Another notable speaker was the keynote speaker for the ceremony, author and Gulf War Era Army veteran Lance Q. Zedric. A native of Canton, Illinois, Zedric is a well-known historian, author and consultant who specializes in the history of U.S. military special operations.


March Celebrated as Women's History Month for WIU

MACOMB – The Western Illinois University’s Women’s Center will be hosting a celebration for Women’s History Month during March. The theme of the celebration this year is "Women Unite! We Are Stronger Together."


This year's schedule includes: 

• Poetry Reading
Sunday, March 3 – 2 p.m.: "Celebrate Women’s History Month with the Power of Poetry" at the Western Illinois Museum. Doors open and pie served at 1:30 p.m.

• Keynote address by author Linda Hogan 
Monday, March 4, p.m. in the WIU Multicultural Center: The WIU Women’s Center, the Department of English and the Feminist Action Alliance will welcome Hogan, a poet and novelist, to kick-off Women’s History Month 2019. Hogan will read from a selection of her works, many of which connect to themes related to gender, Indigeneity and the environment. 

• Salon Talks: The Importance of Women’s Unity 
Tuesday March 5, 6 p.m. in the GBCC Lounge: Join the National Association of Colored Women's Club and the Women's Center in conversation about why it's important for women to be each other’s biggest supporters. Share personal experiences with women's unity, as well as challenges you've faced.

• Who Run the World?: A Women’s Gallery 
Thursday, March 7, 6 p.m. in the Multicultural Center: Celebrate inspirational women in history chosen and showcased by students. Light refreshments will be provided. The event is co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies and Lambda Theta Alpha.

• "Ain’t I a (Black) Woman"
Monday, March 18, 6 p.m. in the Multicultural Center: Join the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center in a presentation and discussion on what it means to be Black and a woman in today's society and Black women's involvement in the feminist movement.

• "The Revival: Women and the Word" 
Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 p.m. in the Multicultural Center: Join the Women's Center and the LGBT*QA Resource Center as we screen the film, "The Revival: Women and the Word." The film is about "a group of Black lesbian poets and musicians who become present-day stewards of a historical movement to build community among queer women of color."

• Feminine Hygiene Product Drive 
Wednesday, March 20 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
The women of Gamma Phi Omega and Sigma Lambda Gamma will be collecting feminine hygiene products in the University Union Concourse to be donated to local , such as WIRC Victim Services.

• Comadreando 
Wednesday, March 20 at noon in the Casa Latina Lounge: A discussion group facilitated by the Casa Latina Cultural Center and the Women's Center. This week’s topic is "Own Your Belleza," or beauty. Gather with women to talk about beauty, however you define it.

• "I bleed, and it’s normal!"
Wednesday, March 20, 7 p.m. in the Multicultural Center Lounge: The women of Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority Inc. will be presenting a panel of women to talk about societal and cultural views regarding menstrual cycles. 

• FAA Open Mic Night
Friday, March 22, 6-8 p.m. in the Multicultural Center: "Open Mic Night" with pieces focused on women and gender issues. 

• Women on Weights 
Sunday, March 24, Doors open at 9 a.m. in the Rec Center: An opportunity for women to learn about the weight room equipment, as well as participate in weight training. The event is presented by Campus Rec and the Women's Center.

• Reproductive health resources in the past 10 years: Are we better off? 
Monday, March 25, 6 p.m. in the Multicultural Center: Professor Lora Wallace, of the WIU Department of Sociology and Anthropology will present, "Reproductive health resources in the past 10 years: Are we better off?" The event is co-sponsored by the Western Organization for Women, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Feminist Action Alliance.

• Chingona All-Stars 
Tuesday, March 26, 5:30 p.m. in the Multicultural Center: The Casa Latina Cultural Center is sponsoring this event honoring muxeres chingonas.

• "Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence" 
Wednesday, March 27, 4:30 p.m. in the Malpass Library Garden Lounge: The WIU Department of History will present its sixth annual Women's History Month Panel and Discussion.

• Trans* Day of Visibility: An Educational Conversation
Thursday, March 28, 6:30 p.m. in the University Union Sandburg Lounge: Join Unity for its general assembly meeting and participate in an educational conversation and celebration of Trans* Day of Visibility. The event will be hosted by WIU Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Chase J. Catalano.

• Britteney Black Rose Kapri 
Tuesday, April 2, 7 p.m. in the Multicultural Center: Britteney Black Rose Kapri is a poet, teaching artist and Slytherin from Chicago. Currently she is an alumna, turned Teaching Artist Fellow at Young Chicago Authors. She is a staff member for Black Nerd Problems and Pink Door Women’s Writing Retreat. Her first chapbook, titled "Winona and Winthrop," was published in June 2014 through New School Poetics. She has also been published in the Breakbeat Poets, volume one and two, Poetry Magazine, Vinyl, Day One, Seven Scribes, The Offing and Kinfolks Quarterly Walls. She is a 2015 Rona Jaffe Writers Award Recipient. The event is co-sponsored by the University Union Board and Unity.

For more information about any of the events, contact the WIU Women's Center at (309) 298-2242.


(Original Story via WIU News. Visit their article here)


22nd Annual Maple Syrup Festival this Weekend at Argyle Lake State Park

MACOMB – The 22nd annual Maple Syrup Festival will be taking place at Argyle Lake State Park this Saturday, March 2nd. Come out and experience the process of making maple syrup. Guests will be able to tap into the maple trees, collect the sap, boil down the sap into syrup and then be able to taste the final product.


There will be regularly scheduled tours to collect sap throughout the day and multiple children activities will be ongoing. Macomb Morning Rotary and Friends of Argyle will have maple syrup for sale at the festival. The Colchester Lion’s Club will also be hosting a pancake breakfast from 7am to 1pm at 207 S. Fulton Street in Colchester.


Sponsoring the event are the cooperative efforts of the Friends of Argyle Lake State Park and park staff. For more information, please call the park visitor center at (309) 776-3422.


MDH Offers Free Childbirth Classes

McDonough District Hospital offers a wide range of childbirth and infant care classes designed to enhance each family’s experience when welcoming a new babies.


A free 4-week L.A.T.E. Childbirth Instruction class happens every Thursday evening, starting on March 7, 14, 21, and 28. This four-class series will be held from 6:30-8:45 p.m. in Auditorium B located on the lower level of the hospital. The series will mention the stages of labor: Latent, Active, Transition, and Expulsion (L.A.T.E.), as well as breathing and relaxation techniques to make each phase of labor as manageable as possible. This class is taught by experienced obstetric nurses. This series will use games and humor to make it a rewarding experience for the participants and their support person.


Additional classes for expectant families include the Breastfeeding Class (April 4), Cesarean Section Class (April 11), and Postpartum Care and Understanding Your Newborn (April 18).

The L.A.T.E. Class Series is also offered during 8-hour sessions on Saturdays, starting April 6. The class will run from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., this class will provide the same information offered in the 4-week L.A.T.E. series. There will be several small breaks during the class, as well as a 30-minute lunch break.


MDH will provide childbirth classes online as well. The internet-based program is a convenient alternative for those who can’t attend an on-site class due to scheduling conflicts, time constraints or health issues. For more information or to register, call the MDH Obstetrics Department at (309) 836-1570. Find out more about their online Childbirth classes at


For more information or to register for any of these classes, call the MDH Obstetrics Department at (309) 836-1570. Find out more about their online childbirth classes at


Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center to Hold Blood Drive

The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center will hold a blood drive on Wednesday,
March 6, from 9 AM until 12 PM. The event will be held in the Wellness Classroom in
the OSF HealthCare Holy Family Medical Center in Monmouth.

If you want to volunteer to give blood, you are encouraged to schedule an appointment
by calling (800) 747-5401 ext. 1281. Walk-ins are welcome at the event, but those with
appointments are preferred. They would also like to notify those who plan to attend that
a photo ID will be required at the event.


Coffee Talks at SRC Offer Education for Business Owners and Professionals

MACOMB – Spoon River College Community Outreach is partnering with the Macomb Chamber of Commerce to bring Coffee Talk Seminars to the Outreach center in Macomb. The Coffee Talks will take place on the first Wednesday of each month from 8-9am. The March and April dates and topics are below.


Leadership Styles: Getting the Most out of Yourself and Your Employees will be held on Wednesday, March 6th from 8-9am. Understanding the four types of leadership and your preferred style will help you: Improve communication with your team, Identify and respond to customer or client styles, and be more self-aware and a more effective leader. Instructor is Cathy Onion, retired WIU.


Cyber Awareness for Small Business will be held on Wednesday, April 3rd from 8-9am. What keeps you up at night; corporate account takeover, CEO fraud, business email compromise? This month’s Coffee Talk will cover current cyber issues, situational awareness, and security best practices.  Instructor is Nikki Cain, First Bankers Trust Company.

There is a fee to attend and pre-registration is required. Coffee Talks will be held at the Spoon River College Outreach center located at 2500 E. Jackson Street Macomb. For more information or to register, call Spoon River College at 309-833-6031. Interested in other courses?  Check them out on the web at



Illinois Secretary of State Services set to visit WIU on Thursday

MACOMB – A mobile service of the Secretary of State’s offices will be visiting Western Illinois University on Thursday, February 28th, at the University Union’s ground floor. These services will go from 9:30am – 3pm and these services include:


• Driver's license (renewal, replacement, corrections)
• State ID card (renewal, replacement, corrections)
• Vehicle sticker sales
• WIU collegiate license plates
• Passenger / B-truck license plates
• Organ/tissue donor registration
• Vehicle title and registration
• Parking placards for persons with disabilities


If you miss your chance to renew your license or register to be an organ/tissue donor, don’t worry. The mobile office will return to WIU on March 28th and April 25th. Motorists who wish to renew their driver’s license may do so up to one year in advance of their license’s expiration date. For a list of acceptable forms of identification can be found at


(Original story via WIU News. Visit their article here)


Bustos Announces USDA Rural Development Funding for the Village of Erie

WASHINGTON – Clean water is coming back to the small village of Erie thanks to an announcement yesterday from Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Bustos, a member of the House Appropriation Committee, announced that $125,000 of federal funding from the USDA’s Rural Development program will go to the Village of Erie’s water system improvement project.


The USDA Rural Development program helps fund rural communities and their projects that could bring housing, business guarantees, services and other vital utilities to rural America. The federal funding will help with improving Erie’s water system, which consists of the purchase of water meters, water treatment improvements, and finishing tank painting and repairs.


Congresswoman Bustos commented on her announcement, “Access to clean water is crucial and I’m pleased to announce this investment in Erie’s water infrastructure. The Rural Development program does a great deal to ensure our rural communities, such as Erie, are not overlooked. I’ll continue to partner with them to bring these investments to small towns across our region and improve our local water infrastructure.” 


Erie mayor, Marcia Smith, also commented on Bustos’ announcement, “Today’s announcement is welcome news for the Village of Erie and will mean so much for our residents. Improving our water infrastructure has been one of our top priorities and I want to thank Congresswoman Bustos for her partnership bringing this investment back home.”


MDH Cardiopulmonary Department Earns Reaccreditation

MACOMB, IL – The McDonough District Hospital has been awarded another three-year term of accreditation for its Cardiopulmonary Department. The accreditation was given to the department by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) for their work in Echocardiography in the area of Adult Transthoracic, Vascular Testing in the area of Extracranial Cerebrovascular Testing, and Peripheral Venous/Arterial Testing.


MDH Cardiopulmonary Department’s ongoing commitment to providing quality care to patients in vascular testing and echocardiography gives reason for the accreditation by the IAC.


For more information about McDonough District Hospital, visit Follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. To learn more about IAC, visit


Free Public Tea Tasting Event in Macomb Tomorrow

MACOMB – Macomb Food Co-op is hosting a special tea tasting that is free and open to the public at their store located on 211 S. McArthur Street here in Macomb. The event will take place tomorrow Saturday morning (Feb. 23) from 10am-Noon and feature the Co-op’s variety of organic teas available for purchase at the store.


Locally grown additives like honey, maple syrup, sugar, and Kalona Supernatural milk or cream will available at the tasting. Also, at the tasting, Kathy’s Kitchen will be giving away free samples of their locally made jams and apple butter to put on homemade scones, chocolate picnic bars and almond torte (while supplies last). These will be a perfect complement to the organic teas available at the tasting. The teas are: English Black, Chai Tea, White Tea with Tangerine and Forever Fruit Tea.


The event is free and open to the public, so all are invited!


Maintenance Scheduled for 104.7 WLMD - Tuesday, February 26

The Regional Media station, WLMD 104.7FM, will be undergoing repairs during the morning of Tuesday, February 26, 2019 to fix an issue with the transmitting tower. Thank you in advance for your patience as we get things fixed. 


Snoop Dogg set to Headline Illinois State Fair

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Rap icon Snoop Dogg is coming to the 2019 Illinois State Fair! Snoop Dogg and some of his friends will perform Friday, August 16 on the Grandstand stage.


Icon Snoop Dogg has two decades worth of award-winning albums, songs, hit television shows, films, lifestyle products, philanthropic efforts, and digital ventures.  Snoop Dogg is an unparalleled musical legend at the forefront of hip hop culture. Since 1993, Snoop Dogg has released 17 studio albums, sold more than 35 million albums worldwide, reached #1 on Billboard charts, and received nearly 20 Grammy® nominations. His most recent album, Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Charts in 2018 and was his very first gospel album.


Snoop Dogg is the third Grandstand act announced for the 2019 Illinois State Fair; a capella group Pentatonix and country duo Dan + Shay were announced earlier this month. Tickets for all Grandstand concerts go on sale  this Spring at the following prices:


Dan + Shay: Sunday, August 11

Tier 3 - $25 / Tier 2 - $30 / Tier 1 - $35 / Gen Track - $35 / VIP Track - $55


Pentatonix: Wednesday, August 14

Tier 3 - $45 / Tier 2 - $50 / Tier 1 - $55 / Gen Track - $55 / VIP Track - $75


Snoop Dogg & Friends: Friday, August 16

Tier 3 - $25 / Tier 2 - $30 / Tier 1 - $35 / Gen Track - $35 / VIP Track - $55


Mark your calendars for the 2019 Illinois State Fair, August 8 through the 18, in Springfield. 


Rising Pop Band "Why Don't We" to Headline Grandstand Stage at Illinois State Fair

SPRINGFIELD, IL – A new pop group is going to be joining the likes of Pentatonix and Snoop Dogg at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand this year! They are known as Why Don’t We. Why Don’t We are a collaboration act of five popular singer/songwriters known across the globe. Daniel Seavey, Zach Herron, Corbyn Besson, Jonah Marais, and Jack Avery formed after each member were meeting across various national tours and have decided to bring each of their unique sounds together.


Their debut single, “Taking You”, has shown audiences the chemistry the group has together. Why Don’t We are now working on their debut album and are hoping their performances will expand their audiences across the globe.


Why Don’t We is the fourth act announced to appear at the Grandstand this year. A capella group Pentatonix and country artists Dan + Shay were announced last month, while Snoop Dogg was announced earlier today.


Tickets for each Grandstand concert goes on sale this Spring at the following prices:


Dan + Shay: Sunday, August 11
Tier 3 - $25 / Tier 2 - $30 / Tier 1 - $35 / Gen Track - $35 / VIP Track - $55


Why Don’t We: Tuesday, August 13
Tier 3 - $20 / Tier 2 - $25 / Tier 1 - $30 / Gen Track - $30 / VIP Track - $50


Pentatonix: Wednesday, August 14
Tier 3 - $45 / Tier 2 - $50 / Tier 1 - $55 / Gen Track - $55 / VIP Track - $75


Snoop Dogg & Friends: Friday, August 16
Tier 3 - $25 / Tier 2 - $30 / Tier 1 - $35 / Gen Track - $35 / VIP Track - $55


The Illinois State Fair takes place in Springfield from August 8 through the 18. For more information, follow the Illinois State Fair Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media accounts.


Teacher Education Students see Increase in Available Scholarships

MACOMB - Are you or do you know a WIU college student that is focusing on Teacher Education that is willing to teach in small or rural schools across west central Illinois? Western Illinois University’s Great River Teacher Corps (GRTC) will be offering seven scholarships (one for a Junior and six for Freshmen) for the 2019-20 academic year.


Students will be able to earn anywhere between $8,000-$14,000 in scholarship assistance. The only commitment needed is the willingness to teach in a rural or small school in the 22-County area of West Central Illinois for a minimum of three years after receiving your teaching licenses/certificates. These counties include: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cast, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, Mason, McDonough, Mercer, Morgan, Peoria, Pike, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Stark, Tazewell and Warren.


Greg Montalvo, the assistant dean for educator preparation for the WIU College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) said, "We are very proud to increase the number of scholarships this year. We recognize the need for teachers in rural schools. The support from the region allows us to add to the network of teachers who want to work in school districts in west central Illinois."


Supporters and funders for the seven scholarships include area banks, individual donors, the Tracy Family Foundation, Galesburg Community Foundation, the Quincy-based Community Foundation of West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri and The Fellheimer Trust that is based in Macomb.


The program not only includes monetary support for students but also offers professional development support. Happening this semester, GRTC students will be partnering with ELED 445, an Honors seminar course in elementary education, and Stark County Elementary School, in Wyoming, IL. The partnership has candidates going to Stark County to work with the school’s fifth graders and their teachers to create a proposal to help improve not only the school but possibly the community as well. After the proposal planning has ended, a fair will take place and community leaders will judge and select a project to take place over the 2019-20 academic year. Guiding the activity alongside Montalvo will be Barry Witten, a professor in WIU's Curriculum and Instruction and Nick Sutton, a WIU alumnus and superintendent of Stark County Schools.


The deadline to apply for a scholarship is March 15th. For more information to donate to the scholarship fund, or apply for a scholarship and view the requirements, visit


(Original Story from WIU News. Visit their website here.)


Rep. Norine Hammond Reaction to the Budget Address

State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) said small portions of the budget are encouraging, but new taxes, new fees, and more borrowing are very disappointing.


Her full comments can be heard below:



Foundations of Investing Class Offered at SRC

MACOMB – A new class will be soon taking place at Macomb’s Spoon River College Outreach for those interested in investing. The class will take place on February 26th, from 6-7pm.


The class, called Foundations of Investing, will be taught by Patrick Kolata of Edward Jones. Jones’ class will cover the rules of investing and along with: Developing a Strategy, choosing a Quality Investment, diversifying a portfolio, investing for the Long Term, and How to Focus on What You Control.


Pre-registration and a fee are required to attend the class. Foundations of Investing will be held at the Spoon River College Outreach, located on 2500 E. Jackson Street Macomb. For more information or to register, call Spoon River College at 309-883-6031. If you want more information on upcoming classes, then visit


WIU Dual Enrollment provides High School Students with more opportunities

Western Illinois University has released information regarding their dual enrollment
programs for high school students. To sum up the information given, they would like
high school students to know that there are opportunities to get a head start on your
college courses at WIU by taking dual credit classes that count for WIU credit.

Cambridge High School grad, Hannah Akers participated in the program during high
school, and she says it helped her a lot with her general education courses as well as
with her admission into the Centennial Honors College. “I loved how Western sent a
professor to my school and how we were able to get all of the benefits that a WIU
student would get,” Akers said, “The skills I learned during the courses are skills I use in
my WIU courses today”.

She is but one of many students who have been helped by this program, and
Cambridge is one of a large list of local high schools that participates in the program.
WIU wants to emphasize how much a head start like this could mean to potential

More information about this program can be found by contacting the WIU Office of
Undergraduate Admissions at (309) 298-3157, or by email at Any
high schools interested in developing a partnership with this program are encouraged to
contact Kristi Mindrup at (309) 762-3999 or by email at


(Original story via WIU News. Visit their article here)


Governor's proposed tax on vaping products would create new barrier for adults trying to quit smoking

The Smoke Free Alternatives Coalition of Illinois released the following statement in response to the governor's budget proposal that includes a 36 percent wholesale tax on vapor products:


"The governor's proposed tax would do nothing more than create another hurdle for adults who are trying to quit smoking. Studies have shown that vaping products are among the most useful tools to help adult smokers quit traditional cigarettes. In fact, they have even been shown to be twice as effective as other nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum. With vaping products proven to be 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes, it seems unethical to tax a person for making better, healthier choices. The long term savings to our state is in improving the health of its citizens by moving them from deadly cigarettes to something that is far less harmful and we look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature to achieve this end," said Victoria Vasconcellos, president of the Smoke Free Alternatives Coalition of Illinois.


The Smoke Free Alternatives Coalition of Illinois advocates for a reasonably regulated marketplace that allows our member companies to provide smoke-free tobacco harm reduction products to adult consumers.


Illinois Manufacturers' Association Responds to Governor's Budget Proposal

"In order to grow and provide more middle-class jobs, Illinois manufacturers need financial stability from state government, including a budget that doesn't spend more than taxpayers can afford or rely on gimmicks that will only cost more in the long run. While we applaud the focus on education and workforce development, this budget has a structural deficit of $3.2 billion and continues to kick the can down the road on pensions," said IMA President and CEO Mark Denzler. 


Denzler added, "It's past time for lawmakers and the administration to make some tough decisions in order for Illinois to become a more attractive place for businesses to locate and expand. We stand ready to work collaboratively toward that goal."




Sen. Tracy Reacts to Governor's Budget Address

State Sen. Jil Tracy issued the following statement in response to Gov. JB Pritzker’s first annual Budget Address today, February 20. 


“Starting the 101st General Assembly, we knew passing a state budget would be one of our highest priorities—and greatest challenges,” said Tracy.


“I believe bipartisan solutions and finding common ground are key to solving our state’s fiscal problems. More revenue grabs, increased spending and putting pension payments off won’t get us out of the debt we are in.  The Governor has said he wants to work in a bipartisan manner – this is his chance.”


Tracy did have a few concerns with the Budget Address, which she covers in a full interview below:



Gov. Pritzker Delivers Balanced Budget Proposal As First Step to Restore Fiscal Stability

The following is a transcript from Gov. J.B. Pritzker's speech today:




Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, Leader Durkin, Leader Brady, Lieutenant Governor Stratton, Attorney General Raoul, Secretary White, Comptroller Mendoza, Treasurer Frerichs, Members of the General Assembly, honored guests and citizens, and the extraordinary First Lady of Illinois, my wife MK. Thank you all for your warm welcome.


I ask that we begin today by taking a moment to grieve with our neighbors in Aurora over the grave tragedy that occurred less than a week ago. Five good people killed in an evil act of workplace violence. Five police officers who were injured when they ran into gunfire. As I said Friday when I visited Aurora, may the memory of those that we lost be a blessing; may their memory fuel our work to bring peace to our state; and may G-d bless the brave law enforcement officers who continue to run toward danger.


Please join me in a moment of silence.



Every one of us who serves in public office becomes a student of history. So few people have held these jobs – we must allow the experiences of those who came before us to help shape what lies ahead.


Every year, the Governor of Illinois is required to provide the General Assembly with a proposed budget and an update on the condition of our state. It’s a tradition in true keeping with our democracy and a task that requires humble honesty and some bold optimism. Today I offer that proposal and report with an eye toward our shared history and our hopes for the future.


Illinois’ 200-year history is a web of recurring challenges, the same themes recycling with each new decade. Indeed, when reviewing past reports to the General Assembly by previous governors, the same problems are raised over and over again: There is not enough money to address social ills, not enough jobs to employ people, not enough resources to adequately maintain and build our infrastructure, and not enough attention to the plight of working families. It may not surprise you to learn that these problems existed in 1819, they existed in 1919 and they exist today in 2019.


History can be a cruel exercise in pessimism if you narrow your gaze. But if you widen your vision just a little bit, you will see that the recurring reports from the past have been occasionally dotted with unapologetic optimists who focused on tackling old problems with new ideas and new vigor, reducing the burden for each generation along the way.


One of those unapologetic optimists was Governor Henry Horner, who took office in 1933. It puts the current day in honest perspective to think about the challenges Horner faced.


The Great Depression had just begun…Nearly half of Illinois’ work force was unemployed…Hungry workers were marching on Springfield…Teachers had not received a paycheck in nearly a year…Labor disputes were ending in bloodshed…Banks were shuttering… And to add to it all, floods were sweeping across wide swaths of the state.


Nevertheless, with the daunting nature of the state’s condition, Horner approached his job with optimism, with wit and with a dogged work ethic. In a speech soon after he took office, he said:


“We have got to hurdle a few more obstacles before we are on the broad highway of return to normal conditions. However, the road is clearly in sight.”


Today, that is where we find ourselves again.


The road to normal conditions is in sight. However, to get there, we must begin with an honest accounting of the struggles of the last few years and the challenges left behind.


Illinois is faced with a $3.2 billion budget deficit and a $15 billion debt from unpaid bills. Last year alone, the state paid out more than $700 million in late payment penalties. That’s enough to cover free four-year university tuition for more than 12,000 students.


We are dealing with a fundamental structural deficit that has existed for quite some time and spanned the administrations of several governors. And it won’t be solved until we rethink our spending priorities and some basic revenue issues facing the state.


During a time of unprecedented economic growth across the country, we lost four valuable years because of an ideological battle.


That stops now.


Budgeting will not be done any more by taking the state hostage, or by court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations but instead by debate and compromise and a return to regular order. We will work together earnestly to solve the state’s problems. We will disagree at times on important things, but the work we all came here to do will get done.


To that end, the budget I present to you today is an honest proposal – the costs are not hidden, the revenues I propose are not out of reach, the hole we need to fill is not ignored. There’s no fantasy line item called “Working together or executive management.” Instead this budget proposal reflects some of my most deeply held values – and the hopes of voters who sent us here – but tempered by the knowledge that we must hold the line on spending in the context of the revenue available and the diminished condition of our state government.


Undoubtedly all of you will bring your own priorities, ideas, and concerns to the budget process. I welcome that conversation – that’s as it should be. We are all here, Democrats and Republicans, with the common desire to serve the people of our state well. And we do that better when we talk to each other, and more importantly, listen to each other.


I have tried in the weeks leading up to today to get to know each of you, to meet your families, to dance together to Maroon 5 songs, and to have an open door to conversation and collegiality and finding common ground. As it turns out, some of you are pretty good dancers! Some of us, not so much.


All I’m suggesting is I don’t think we spend enough time getting to know one another as people before we get to know one another as political opponents.


My first week here, Senator Sue Rezin stopped by the Governor’s office to introduce herself. I invited her to sit with me so I could learn about her district and, we talked about how we can attract more business to Northern Illinois.


I found out a little bit more about Sue. She’s a mom of four, runs a real estate business with her husband, and started volunteering for the Make-A-Wish foundation 30 years ago when she was first starting her family because it offered her a flexible schedule. I gotta say I’m not sure how a Mom of four finds any flexibility in her schedule but I’m impressed with the tremendous generosity of spirit that she looked for the opportunity to give her time to those in need when she must have barely had any time for herself.


I will not soon forget, even when we inevitably disagree, that Senator Rezin extended a hand in friendship to me on my first few days on the job. Sue makes no bones about being a conservative. And I’m not shy to say I’m a Democrat. But I know we will get more done for Illinois by listening to each other, which we will do with respect and civility.


It is with the knowledge that people with true generosity of spirit occupy both sides of the aisle here in Springfield, that I set out on the task of providing a new direction for our state. This is not the work of just one year. Real fiscal stability requires a long-term commitment to paying down debt, investing in critical infrastructure, and stabilizing our pension system.


It also requires a recognition that to lower costs and increase revenue over the long term we must make investments in education, livable wages, innovative human service programs and job training. We must stop slashing programs that build future prosperity – if we cut skills training and college affordability, we curb near term economic growth, lower our prospects for future revenue, and drive businesses away. If we don’t fund inexpensive gun violence prevention programs, we will see more tragedy and higher public safety expenditures. If we don’t have strong social service programs that assist families dealing with a loved one’s mental health crisis, then we increase a family’s suffering and increase the potential future financial burden on the state. In the past it has been the practice of too many politicians to be short sighted about slashing costs and then to bemoan the state of the state when those cuts have long-term consequences on the economy.


So let’s not hollow out vital government services any more.


Instead, we must focus on making government more efficient and effective. Let’s make sure we are focused on truly managing and measuring the real results of state programs. Taxpayers deserve to know their dollars are being spent wisely. Programs that don’t work need to be eliminated. And we need to explore new ways to address old problems.


Efficiently saving tax dollars, though, isn’t enough to lift Illinois out of our fiscal mess. We must also grow jobs.


We can do that by fostering a business environment in Illinois that will attract talent and entrepreneurs from all over the country. We need to continue to grow our position as a top-tier startup and technology ecosystem, and we are doing that in this budget with new investments and by re-prioritizing dollars within the departments of our state government.


We are a big state with real infrastructure and transportation options, world class logistics companies and some of the busiest distribution centers in the nation. We must be prepared to make a big investment in our transportation and infrastructure with the passage of a Capital Bill that will be introduced in this legislative session.


We can grow our economy and make it more inclusive by taking advantage of the talent among the diverse people of our state. That’s why we must promote the development of sustained wealth in black and brown communities by being purposeful about increasing the number of minority-owned businesses eligible for state procurement opportunities and by attracting private capital to build out new businesses and jobs in Opportunity Zones. And I want downstate Republicans and Democrats to work together with me on a Downstate Revitalization Plan to encourage the creation of new businesses and jobs and foster the growth of existing ones in struggling communities so they can thrive.



To get to fiscal stability and eliminate our structural deficit, there’s no quick fix. It took decades to get us into this mess. It will take at least several years to get us out of it.


We must therefore embrace a multi-year approach with fair principles and smart investments in our people. Our state does well when our people do well.


I want to be clear about this…this Fiscal Year 2020 budget is balanced, but that’s not enough. This is only Year One of a multi-year endeavor, and very importantly it is built on the state’s current regressive tax structure that I do not favor and that puts the greatest burden on working families. Not only is our tax system unfair, it’s also inadequate to solve our long-term financial challenges.


It’s time for a change.


Workers deserve an income tax cut and a property tax break. A fair tax system will allow us to eliminate the structural deficit that has plagued our state for nearly two decades.


There is unanimous agreement in this room that if we want to solve our state’s fiscal woes we cannot continue on the path we are on. There is a structural deficit today of over $3 billion per year that if left unaddressed will continue to grow. There is a backlog of unpaid bills and debt associated with it that exceeds $15 billion. In addition there is a built-in multi-billion-dollar deficit of funding for schools and universities and human services that most families rely upon.


For the sake of argument let’s agree that there’s at least a need to address the structural deficit with enough to pay off the backlog over several years. We are talking about billions of dollars each year to fill the hole in our future budgets.


There are, in essence, three alternative options for fixing this problem:


First, we could choose only to cut state government spending and raise no revenue. To do that, we have to recognize that out of this year’s $39 billion budget, approximately $20 billion is required payments on our debt, on our pensions, on our court-ordered obligations or federally protected programs. That leaves approximately $19 billion dollars. That’s the money we spend educating our children, running our colleges and universities, keeping our streets safe, preserving our natural resources, getting people to and from work efficiently and caring for our veterans. We’ll call that “discretionary spending.” To balance the budget by simply cutting government, we would have to reduce discretionary spending on all these direct services our jobs, our families and our businesses rely on by approximately 15%. That’s 15% fewer state police, 15% fewer students going to college, 15% fewer working parents receiving child care assistance, and 15% less money for your local schools – which likely also means your local property taxes will increase. I should point out that this option was tried in the prior administration, and it failed - because nearly no one thinks it’s a good idea to force our most talented kids to leave the state by diminishing Illinois colleges and universities, drive families away by defunding local schools, make our communities less safe by reducing public safety, and increase poverty by cutting badly needed human services.


Our second option is to raise revenue with our current regressive flat income tax system and impose more flat taxes which fall disproportionately on the working poor and the middle class. This option could require imposing sales taxes on services, implementing a retirement tax, or raising the income tax overall by around 20%. Or all of the above. For a family earning $100,000, that means paying almost a thousand dollars more in income taxes, and their property taxes will continue their upward march as they always have.


Our third option is to reject imposing additional income, retirement and sales taxes on the middle class and instead enact a fair income tax. This would lift some of the tax burden off of middle income earners and instead ask the wealthiest to pay a little more. Just for clarity, a fair tax is what three quarters of states with income taxes have. We can accomplish this with a more competitive rate structure than Wisconsin and Iowa, both of which are outpacing Illinois in job creation and economic growth. We can also implement a fair tax system that’s lower than our metropolitan competitors on the east and west coasts.


Make no bones about it, I choose to stand up for working families and will lead the charge to finally enact a fair tax system in Illinois.


Ultimately, our chief responsibility to the people of Illinois is to set this state on a path to sustainable growth with an income tax system that is fair. It is not fair that I pay the same tax rate as a teacher, a child care worker, a police officer or a nurse. And efforts to simply increase the income tax rate across the board fuels further income inequality and kicks the can down the road for our children and grandchildren to solve our ongoing budget issues. The state needs a fair tax, and I am going to be relentless in pursuing one over the next two years.


My office intends to immediately begin negotiations over proposed fair tax rates with leaders from the House and Senate. Conversations and debate about rate structures and how much revenue we need to raise are appropriate. I expect different opinions and viewpoints over the best way to achieve an equitable tax system, and I sincerely welcome that conversation. I have already asked a few legislators who oppose the fair tax to offer their best ideas to improve it, and I am confident they will come to the table in good faith.


What is not appropriate is a small collection of the wealthiest people thinking that they should drown out millions of lower and middle income Illinoisans unfairly burdened by the current flat tax system.


Now, I understand that I am an unlikely proponent for this much needed change. But perhaps the fact that the heaviest burdens would fall on taxpayers like myself under a new fair tax system will convince many of you that I am proposing this path forward because I truly believe it’s what is best for Illinois.


To fix our state’s problems, we need fundamental tax reform. There’s no hiding from it. There’s no running from it. There’s no lying about it. I choose a fair tax system to get us out of this mess.


It will take 18 months to get it done, but it’s worth the wait so we can save working families hundreds or thousands of dollars per year.


A fair tax will change the arc of Illinois’ finances forever.


Until then, this proposed budget serves as a bridge to a stable fiscal future.



Which is why I am proposing a fiscal year 2020 budget with re-prioritized and controlled spending that targets increases in three key areas that will help our state thrive and grow: education, health and human services, and public safety – investments in people that I believe will pay dividends down the road. This is a constrained budget – more austere than I would like – but I think it’s important that we be disciplined and focused over the next few years to pay down our bill backlog and the debt left over from prior administrations.


The responsible course of action is to embrace some near term reasonable – and realistic – new revenue, which will bring in an estimated $1.1 billion in total.


Let’s begin with this: By legalizing and regulating adult-use cannabis in this legislative session, we will create jobs and bring in $170 million in licensing and other fees in fiscal year 2020. I have noted many times that I don’t view this issue through a purely financial lens. I think we should take this action for our state because of the beneficial criminal and social justice implications and the jobs it will create. And let’s be honest, like it or not, cannabis is readily available right now. I would rather the state tax it and regulate it than deny the reality of its use and accessibility.


This budget also includes the legalization and taxation of sports betting. Expansion of gambling is a perennial effort in this state, and often these proposals get bogged down in regional disputes and a Christmas tree approach. But in those instances, we were talking about adding more riverboats or adding into other regions. Sports betting is different – this is a new market created by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. Every day we argue about “who’s in and who’s out” is money that goes to other states and to the black market. I am calling on the legislature to take this up immediately so that Illinois can realize hundreds of millions of dollars, create new jobs, and bring sports betting into a regulated environment that will protect citizens from bad actors. If we do it this year and become the first state in the Midwest to move on this initiative, we can realize more than $200 million from sports betting fees and taxes in FY 2020.


I am also proposing that Illinois enact a tax on insurance companies, specifically a managed care organization assessment to help cover the costs of the State’s Medicaid program – something that Leader Greg Harris has championed for many years and that has been enacted in other states. This would be structured to generate approximately $390 million in revenue to cover a portion of the state’s Medicaid costs. This would be a smart way to increase our federal match.



Bringing efficiencies to state government in addition to these new revenues is not enough for Illinois to reach firm fiscal footing. We must address our pension liabilities. Throughout my campaign I said that we must pay the pensions that are owed, and the Supreme Court has ruled that. And therefore that is what we must do. So I am proposing a responsible approach to our pensions that does not crowd out all the other investments we must make so that Illinois is a state that thrives.


Twenty-five years ago, when the pension payment schedule was put in place, the well-intentioned architects of it predicted that in fiscal year 2020 we would spend $4.9 billion on pensions. Instead, the bill today is $9.1 billion. Nearly double. This must not continue. We must put the system on a more sustainable path – one that preserves pensions for the retirees that earned them, and at the same time allows us to grow our economy and grow our way out of the pension liability.


And last week, my administration put forward a 5-point program to do just that. We will dedicate a portion of the new fair income tax – in other words, hundreds of millions of dollars – to the pension system, over and above our required pension payments. We will infuse new assets into the system up front. We will manage our debt through a small-scale pension bond used entirely for reducing our liability. We will make the optional retiree buyout program permanent. And we will smooth the pension ramp by modestly extending it.


This approach is not one that can be looked at as a menu from which to pick one and discard the rest. There’s no room for that any more. We must attack our pension liability from many angles all at once. And we must be consistent and persistent in this battle.


Some will criticize this approach. There are those who will say that retirees should lose the benefits they earned. The Supreme Court has made it clear that that is illegal. There are others who would raise taxes on middle class families today. I say middle class families have paid enough.


I promised to be honest about our challenges and solutions. This is the most responsible, sustainable and balanced approach to dealing with a problem that was decades in the making and will take years to solve.


Ultimately, the fair tax must be part of the long term solution to our pensions.



There are many education, healthcare and job creation initiatives that I think are well worth funding and many opportunities for investments across the state that I talked about during my campaign. But state government today can only do so much, and without a commitment to reaching firm fiscal ground, we will soon be able to do even less. My highest priorities are stabilizing state government, growing our economy, and protecting working families.


For our fiscal and economic health, we must start with a sustained effort to restore and improve our education system.


I have been advocating for large investments in early childhood education for decades, long before I became governor. Real focus on the learning that happens from birth to age 5 can determine the entire arc of a person’s life. Investing in early childhood is the single most important education policy decision government can make, and it has proven to provide a significant return on investment. That’s why I’m proposing funding the Early Childhood Block Grant at $594 million, an increase of $100 million from fiscal year 2019. It will allow us to begin the march toward universal preschool so that every child in Illinois will have a real opportunity to succeed.


I have also focused on reversing the damage done to higher education by the budget impasse. College affordability is a paramount investment in near term economic growth for our state. So I’ve proposed a 5 percent increase for public universities and community colleges, as well as an increase in the Monetary Award Program by $50 million to help more than 15,000 more low- and moderate-income students attend college next year. We will do more every year to come. I’m also proposing $35 million for the second-year costs of the AIM HIGH merit scholarship program for high achieving students – so we can keep our best and brightest in Illinois.


On a smaller scale, I am consistently looking to maintain or increase funding for programs that have an outsized benefit to the economy for traditionally neglected communities. Along those lines, this budget includes funding for the Advanced Placement Low-Income Test Fee Waiver. The $94 it costs to take an AP History exam is a huge burden for a low-income family. We must be ever mindful of how we as a society inadvertently perpetuate a cycle of poverty and the ways, both large and small, that we can help people find a way out.



In my inaugural address I said that I would not balance a budget on the backs of the starving, the sick and the suffering, and I keep that promise today by beginning to rebuild health and human services.


We increase the income eligibility threshold in the Child Care Assistance Program which will give quality care to approximately 10,000 more children. We provide funding to open the new 200-bed Chicago Veterans’ Home, long delayed by the budget impasse. We will be able to hire an additional 126 direct service staff for DCFS to protect children. We will provide funding to help investigate cases of kids’ exposure to lead – this is important, because we have raised our standards to be more aggressive. This budget adds funds for community-based violence interruption, homelessness prevention, behavioral health, mental health, addiction, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.


This is less than what I would like to do. But it is what we can afford to do in year one of our recovery.


As another part of my plan to strengthen working families, we are giving 1.4 million Illinoisans a raise.


Our country is engaged in a serious conversation about income inequality right now. I think that’s long overdue. There was a time where we operated with a general philosophy that workers should be able to afford the goods and services that they help to produce. That’s not some outdated notion. It’s fundamentally American.


Many of you asked me why I made passing a $15 minimum wage an immediate priority given all the challenges our state faces right now.


The current minimum wage is $8.25 an hour – which means even if you are working full time every week out of the year, you are making $17,000 a year. You can’t send your kids to college on $17,000 a year. You can’t afford a single health emergency, or pay for any of the things that might prevent a health emergency. You can’t sustain child care on $17,000 a year. And you can’t save for retirement. A flat tire or a worn car battery is a genuine fiscal emergency that might also threaten your job. And one paycheck is often the only firewall against homelessness.


The current minimum wage is a lifetime sentence to poverty.


Whether you live in Chicago or Cairo, I find that unacceptable, and I worked with the appropriate amount of haste to change it. When your house is burning down, you don’t wait for the rain to put out the fire.


I said I would put Springfield back on the side of working families, and I meant it.



Finally, we will do more to keep our neighbors safe in the state of Illinois. This begins with making sure the Illinois State Police can be rebuilt, with two new cadet classes to replenish their dwindling ranks. We will pay for the gun dealer licensing law that I was proud to sign during my first week in office, to take a reasonable step to end the scourge of gun violence in too many of our neighborhoods. We will take a more rigorous approach to getting guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them in the first place. I’m committed to advocating for commonsense gun laws, and I’m committed to making sure that we are implementing the laws we already have on the books more effectively. These investments have taken on an even greater importance since the massacre in Aurora, which serves as a poignant and painful reminder of the work that still remains.



Every governor deals with their share of trials, tumult and tribulation.


I mentioned at the beginning of this speech that Henry Horner took office in 1933 at the start of the worst decade of economic decline in US history.


Horner was good friends with Carl Sandburg. They shared a love of all things related to President Lincoln. In the later years of his life, Sandburg granted an interview about his friend Governor Horner, in which he said, “Horner was the real goods…he got to high places without selling his soul.”


Indeed, despite all the economic struggles the state faced during the Great Depression, Horner still managed to increase school funding, institute unemployment insurance and pensions for older Illinoisans, create building programs for state institutions and improve public health services.


He understood that prosperity doesn’t trickle down…it trickles up. When we lift up those who have the least, our boats all rise together.


Horner was a fundamentally optimistic man. He approached his job as governor with a hopeful heart, and he never let that hope diminish under the uncommon burdens of being head of state.


He knew what I know…that the state of our state has always been strong because of the values of our people…not the value of our coffers.


Horner once said: “The only way to carry out any great purpose is not on your shoulders, but in your heart. Carry it on your backs and it may wear you down. Carry it in your hearts and it will lift you up.  Thus, the heart strengthens the purpose, and the purpose gives poise and inspiration to the will.”


Like you, I carry the burdens of this state in my heart – and despite the heavy load it lifts me up every day. I share my purpose with you so that it may give poise and inspiration to our collective will – because I know the road ahead is hard, but I think it’s about time we all walk it together.


Thank you.


School Closings and Delays 2-20-19


Astoria Schools: Delayed 2 hours; No morning Pre-K

Bushnell-Prairie City Schools: Closed Today

Camp Point Schools Unit 3: Closed Today

Carl Sandburg College Campuses will have a delayed start time of 10am

Carthage Elementary: Closed Today

Dallas City Elementary: Closed Today; Evening Activities Cancelled

Illini West: Closed Today

LaHarpe Elementary: Closed Today; Evening Activities Cancelled

Macomb Public: Closed Today

Schuyler-Industry Unit #5: Closed Today

St Paul - Macomb: Closed Today

The Crossing Macomb Preschool: Closed

V-I-T: Delayed 2 hours; No Pre-k Classes

YMCA No Senior Meals for Macomb, Colchester, and Bushnell



Third Annual Pre-Med Symposium at WIU set for Feb. 20

MACOMB, IL – The Third Annual Dr. Jill Brody/McDonough Eye Associates Pre-Med Symposium is scheduled for Wednesday, February 20th at the University Union Brattain Lounge from 4-7pm. The symposium will be presented by The Western Illinois University Centennial Honors College.


The event gives WIU medical students the opportunity to learn more about transitioning to medical and pharmacy school, while also meeting with medical school representatives. This is thanks to donations from Dr. Jill Brody, her medical practice and several former and current regional physicians.


The schedule for the event is as follows:


4-6 pm – Medical Table Fair


6 pm – Keynote address from Speaker Dr. David Miller, a 1992 WIU graduate and Medical Group of Macomb physician


6:20 pm – Panel discussion with various medical professionals including: Dr. Brody, ophthalmology; Dr. Miller, internal medicine; Dr. Jack Capodice, oral and maxillofacial surgery; Dr. Thomas Nielsen, venous and lymphatic medicine; Lauren Coffee, University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine; and Craig Wear, pharmacist.


This year’s symposium is sponsored by: Dr. Brody, McDonough Eye Associates, Dr. Amy High, Dr. Donald Dexter, Dr. Russell R. Dohner, Dr. Dennis and Virginia Samuelson, Dr. Miller and Dr. Mary Kathleen Lockard, Dr. David Greathouse, the WIU Foundation, the WIU College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the WIU Department of Biological Sciences the WIU Department of Chemistry and the WIU departments of biological sciences, chemistry and health sciences and social work and CAS Dean Sue Martinelli-Fernandez.


For more information on the Symposium, contact the Centennial Honors College at (309) 298-2228 or email Geisler at


(Original Story from WIU News. Visit their website here)


Western Courier Celebrates Winning Three State Awards

MACOMB, IL – The WIU student run newspaper, The Western Courier, won multiple awards at the Illinois College Press Association competition that was held in Chicago this past weekend.


Macomb native, Brie Coder, took third place in the “Non-Sports Column” category. Coder is a senior with focus on Journalism and the Copy Editor for the Courier.


Jimmy Pierson, of Grayslake, IL won honorable mention in the category of “Sports Page Design.” Pierson is a senior with a focus on Marketing and is the Courier’s Production Manager.


The Courier staff itself won an honorable mention in “Headline Writing.” Director of Publications, Will Buss, commented on the Courier’s performance, saying, "I am proud of the students and their performance in the ICPA contest this year. Their work provides quality and award-winning journalism in the Western Courier, which continues to provide student journalists with invaluable experience."


The Western Courier is distributed all across campus and throughout the community three times a week for free. For more information about the Courier, please visit


(Original Copy via WIU News. Visit their website here)


A Night of Hope' Suicide Prevention Program Feb. 18 at WIU 

MACOMB, IL – "A Night of Hope," a suicide prevention program, will he held at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18 in the Western Illinois University Union Grand Ballroom. 

The event, featuring speaker Sam Eaton, is presented by the Andrew Wedekind family and the WIU School of Agriculture. Eaton is a writer, speaker and founder of Recklessly Alive Ministries who will share his story of surviving a suicide attempt. 

For more information about Eaton, or his message, visit


WIU to Host 'Who Run The World?: A Woman's Gallery' March 7

MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University Women's Center and the Center for International Studies will host "Who Run The World?: A Woman's Gallery," from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 7 in the Multicultural Center. 

The program will highlight women in history who have inspired event participants or groups. The Women's Center will provide supplies, such as cardboard tri-folds, markers and glue. Pieces created can be art, information, costumes and more. 

Those interested in participating should confirm their participation by Friday, Feb. 22 by emailing Megan Counter at 


Minimum Wage Bill passes the House and now heads to the Governor

The Illinois House today approved legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. Senate Bill 1 was passed despite strong objections from Illinois Republicans who called it unfair and rushed.


The vote, which came after a two-hour debate, was 69-47. The Senate approved the bill last week, which now goes to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.


Under the plan, the state’s minimum wage would go from $8.25 to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020, and then to $10 on July 1, 2020. It would then go up $1 more each Jan. 1 after that until it reaches $15 in 2025.


State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) called the passage of the bill a disaster. Her full comments can be heard below:



Minimum Wage, Cannabis, and Campaign Finance Reform Lead New Progressive Caucus Agenda in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – A Statehouse news conference was held today, February 14, by the Progressive Caucus to explain their new legislative plan for 2019. This includes topics such as: Minimum wage, legal use of cannabis and the use of political donors for campaigns.


Starting with minimum wage, the Caucus discussed their plan to slowly raise the minimum wage amount from $8.25 to $15 an hour over the next several years. The reason behind the raise was described by the Caucus, saying “Working families shouldn’t have to work hard and live in poverty.”


The plan is to use tax credits and protect local businesses. The Caucus believe that this plan will improve the economy. This plan has already passed through the Senate and will be voted on by the Illinois House later today.


Next, the Caucus described the idea of legalizing cannabis in Illinois. Cannabis would only be legalized for adults to use, but include strict regulations and reasonable taxation. What type of regulations and taxation was not discussed. The hope is that legalization will create economic benefits for the state, while also reducing the “trend of senseless incarceration for minor drug users.” They gave no word on if previous offenders will have the drug related charges be dropped or removed from record.


Finally, something the Caucus called, “Small donor match.” With the influence of wealthy donors and candidates to political campaigns and parties, the caucus hopes to reduce said influence in the future. The Caucus hopes to create a “donor-matching system” where tax dollars can help fund political candidates who are only able to raise small amounts for their campaigns. The system would even the odds between wealthier candidates and their less wealthier opponents.


Another initiative discussed by the Progressive Caucus was the idea to create a constitutional amendment to have wealthier tax payers pay their fair share of taxes to help fund programs like education and health care.


Progressive Caucus co-chair, Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, discussed the Caucus’ plans for the future. “It’s a new day in Illinois, and we’re excited to lead on this bold agenda,” Guzzardi said. “By enacting these policies, and by organizing around our shared vision, we’ll be able to move our state forward and pass legislation that will transform the lives of the people of this state. I’m excited to be a part of this Caucus, and to stand together with so many of my colleagues in this work.”


The members of the Caucus include: Co-Chairs Reps. Guzzardi, Theresa Mah, and Carol Ammons; Treasurer Rep. Celina Villanueva; Secretary Rep. Delia Ramirez; and member Reps. Kelly Cassidy, Sara Feigenholtz, Robyn Gabel, Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, Greg Harris, Rob Martwick, Joyce Mason, Aaron Ortiz, Lamont Robinson, Anne Stava-Murray, and Maurice West.


March SNAP benefits will be issued on March 1st for all SNAP recipients

SNAP users will not have to worry about getting their benefits to early for the month of March. The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) issued on February 13, 2019 that March’s SNAP benefits will be issued to customer’s accounts on March 1st.


This push to March 1st is due to the federal shutdown earlier this year. The shutdown caused benefits to be sent to early as the February benefits, which are typically issued throughout February, were issued in January.


The Governor commented on the issue stating, “Our communities shouldn’t have to suffer because of the federal shutdown, and we’ll continue to do all we can at the state level so that Illinoisans don’t see a disruption in their SNAP benefits.” Governor Pritzker continued, “Our plan will reduce the waiting time for benefits for SNAP recipients so our vulnerable residents won’t have to worry about whether the shutdown will prevent them from accessing these services.”


To help in making sure issuance times between February and March are reduced, the IDHS will implement a new SNAP schedule for March and April. This new schedule will make all issuances sent to ALL of Illinois’ SNAP customers at the beginning of March. April’s issuances will be sent out from April 1st to April 10th, while May’s will be on schedule.


SNAP customers do NOT need to visit their local IDHS offices or contact their caseworkers during this time. IDHS states that their staff will be working to implement these schedule changes to send SNAP benefits early. SNAP customers should have their normal amount of benefits put onto their Link cards at the beginning of next month. IDHS will also beginning to communicate to SNAP customers about the new issuance dates in the next few weeks through the IDHS and Link websites, the Link phone line, various social medias and community outreaches.


WIU Chemistry Outreach Programs to Benefit Regional High School Science Students

MACOMB, IL – A new outreach program from Western Illinois University is helping local high schools learn more about chemistry and forensics using college level laboratory experiments to peak interests for students.


The WIU Chemistry Outreach Program was created by WIU Department Chair Rose McConnell and faculty members to help peak interest in not only their department, but to help WIU with outreach and recruiting new students to the university.


"Chemistry has two programs that involve high school students performing hands-on lab experiences," said McConnell. "In one program, we send out a flyer with a list of demonstrations/seminar topics we can bring to local and regional high school classes free of charge.

The flyer is sent to high school science teachers with contact information and descriptions of each activity.  When invited, our faculty travel to the high school and lead the class. The second program is an invitation for high school teachers to bring their class to WIU chemistry department where they can perform a series of hands-on activities led by our faculty."


WIU Assistant Professor of Forensic Chemistry and Director of the Forensic Program Liguo Song commented on how the Outreach Program helps get students involved, "Getting the students involved is really important," he said. "We wanted to design something the students are interested in and are having fun with, while still getting the message out and having them learn something."


The different types of experiments are quite varied. They include: Forensic Enhancement of Latent Prints in Blood, Forensic Comparison of Ballpoint Pen Inks, Synthesis of Nylon and Plexiglas, Food Flavoring Agents: You Test the Odor But Not the Taste, Cation Exchange Capacity in Environmental Chemistry, Discover the Dynamic Structure of DNA Hands-On and One Dimensional SDS-PAGE Analysis of Serum. Song also stated that he hopes to add more experiments to this wide list in the next academic year.


When asked about safety with these experiments, Song said, "Different activities have different perspectives and we help them understand the chemistry behind the experiments. Safety is the most important thing, and our laboratory manager Kay Tsai has always been on top of it."


(Original story via WIU news. Visit their website here)


WIU Alumnus Inspires Art Students to Respond to Social Justice Issues

MACOMB/KEWANEE, IL – A Western Illinois University alumnus is translating the historical lessons he learned from his grandfather and the classroom knowledge he gained on the University's campus for his middle school students at Kewanee's Central Elementary School. 

Marc Nelson, who received his art education teaching certificate from Western in 2006, has been a middle school art teacher in Kewanee, IL since 2008. Prior to that he taught for two years at a private school in Iowa City, IA. 

Through his classroom art lessons, Nelson is infusing social justice topics into his curriculum to teach students about specific cases of injustice. Students are then encouraged to incorporate and express their feelings about the lessons into the art they create. 

"As an artist, I have been inspired to respond creatively to social justice issues since I was a child," said Nelson. "My grandfather's family was forced to flee the violence in Northern Ireland in the 1920s, and he and I would often talk about the fear and sorrow of his family's displacement from their home."
As a child, Nelson paged through his grandfather's large library of books about WWI. It was those books that moved him to create drawings and paintings that were "visual screams against these humanitarian calamities."

"As an art educator, I want to show my students what artists actually do," he said. "Beyond learning techniques and materials, artists are visually responding to the world around them. In addition, art is naturally interdisciplinary, and every artist we explore in class is exploring, questioning, celebrating or challenging their internal and external experiences and passions."

Introducing the social justice topics in the classroom creates a bridge for Nelson to dig deeper into new subject matter before presenting it to his students. Through the lessons, students use painting, drawing, digital art and stop-motion animation to visualize the issues. He encourages the students to respond to issues they are passionate about and sometimes he shares their work on Twitter to gain a broader audience. 

"Creating art helps my students find their voice," he said. "When groups like Amnesty International or the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC acknowledge my young artists' work, it shows them that, though they are young, they have a right, even a civic duty, to never be silent about the things that matter to them. The world often underestimates, or even disregards the potential of our children to be lights of hope, even in the darkness."

Nelson said he recommends WIU to his students, and he calls his time at the University "one of the best educational choices I have ever made."

"My art and education instructors were passionate, talented and dedicated," he said. "They knew that art is, and should always be, an integral component of our society. My WIU instructors were, and are, inspired professionals, and they pushed me to continually learn and challenge myself."

While Nelson was at WIU, he worked as a student reporter for Tri States Public Radio (TSPR), which he said gave him access to cultural events in the region. 

"While working for TSPR, I had the chance to spend the day with Buddhist monks, explore the nation's first town platted and registered by an African American (New Philadelphia, IL) and interview the humanitarian hero, Rwandan Paul Rusesabagina (portrayed in the film 'Hotel Rwanda')."

Nelson added that he stays in regular contact with his former WIU instructors and TSPR colleagues. 

"They still encourage my work and are passionate about teaching the next generation of artists" he said. 

For more information about the WIU Department of Art, visit 


Ribbon Cutting for The Study

The Macomb Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at The Study with its new owner Blake Lowderman, on February 12th to celebrate the grand reopening of the drink shop.


The Study offers a wide range of specialty drinks, both hot and cold, while also serving their signature items, like acai bowls and waffle pops. The Study even allows patrons to play a game of chess, enjoy free Wi-Fi, or play a board game with friends as you wait for you order.


The Study is located on 116 W. Jackson St. and you can find the full menu and hours of operation on The Study’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. You can even call them at (309) 421-0210. The Study accepts Chamber gift certificates and offers their own gift cards.


Spoon River College Offers a Variety of Photography Classes

Spoon River College Outreach is offering a varied selection of photography classes for their spring semester. These classes are in a wide range of photography: Travel Photography, Bird Photography, Flash Photography and Sports Photography. The college is also offering two 101 courses for beginners and intermediates.


Travel Photography classes will be held on Mondays, February 25th and March 4th at the Spoon River College Havana Center. These classes will go from 6-8 pm.


The Taking Photos 101 classes will be held on Thursdays, February 28th and March 7th at the Spoon River College Rushville Center; or on Thursdays, March 21st and 28th. The classes will go from 6-8 pm at both campuses.


Flash Photography classes will be held on Mondays, March 18th and 25th at the Spoon River College Macomb Outreach Center from 6-8 pm.


Sports Photography will be held on Thursdays, April 4th and 11th at the Spoon River College Macomb Outreach Center from 4-6 pm; or on Wednesdays, April 17th and 24th at the Spoon River College Canton Campus from 4-6 pm.


Bird Photography will have three classes. The first on Wednesdays, April 17th and 24th at the SRC Macomb Outreach Center. The second on Tuesdays, April 23rd and 30th at the SRC Rushville Center. The last will be held on Thursdays, April 25th and May 2nd at the SRC Havana Center. All three classes will run from 5:30 pm-7:30 pm. You must bring your camera for practices.


For more information, give Spoon River College a call at 309-649-6260, 309-543-4413, 217-322-6060 or 309-833-6031.There are fees to take these courses and you must pre-register for these classes.


School Closings and Delays 2-12-19


Bushnell-Prairie City Schools: Closed Today

Carthage Elementary: Closed Today

Dallas City Elementary: Closed Today; Evening Activities Cancelled

Illini West: Closed Today

LaHarpe Elementary: Closed Today; Evening Activities Cancelled

Schuyler-Industry Unit #5: Closed Today

West Prairie CUSD #103: Closed Today

Carl Sandburg College: All Campuses be closed today.

YMCA McDonough County: No Senior Meal Program for Macomb, Bushnell, or Industry


WIU Jazz Festival Feb. 15-16

MACOMB, IL - The Western Illinois University School of Music will present the 46th annual Western Illinois University Jazz Festival Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16, in the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) Recital Hall.

Friday’s main event will be a 7:30 p.m. performance in the COFAC Recital Hall by the WIU Jazz Band and Jazz Studio Orchestra, featuring guest Andy Martin, trombone virtuoso.  Saturday's 3 p.m. concert will feature performances by college, high school and junior high students.

Coming from a musical family, Martin launched his career while still in his teens. His technique and virtuosity quickly established him on the Los Angeles music scene. As an instructor, Martin has influenced countless young players. He has appeared at many colleges and universities throughout the country as a guest artist and clinician.

A world-class jazz musician, Martin is featured as leader or co-leader on 12 albums. These albums showcase his collaboration with other top jazz artists such as the late Carl Fontana, Pete Christlieb, Bobby Shew and Eric Marienthal. He has also collaborated as a sideman with jazz greats such as Stanley Turrentine and Horace Silver. Martin had a long association with British bandleader and jazz promoter Vic Lewis, and was the featured soloist on many of Lewis’s CDs.

Martin is well known for his work as a lead player and featured soloist with virtually every big band in Los Angeles. Martin is the lead trombonist and featured soloist with Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, the lead trombonist and soloist for The Tom Kubis Band, and was a featured soloist for the Bill Holman Big Band for 15 years. He has appeared in bands led by Jack Sheldon, Louis Bellson, Quincy Jones, Matt Cattingub, Bob Curnow, Patrick Williams and Sammy Nestico, among others.

Admission prices are: Public $15; Senior Citizen $10; Youth $7; WIU students free with valid University ID. Tickets available at the Hainline Box Office and at the event.  

Live streamed events can be viewed on the Western Illinois University YouTube Channel.

For the general public who wish to attend, Friday night concert tickets are available at: Hainline Theatre Box Office, Browne Hall 114, Western Illinois University, 1 University Circle, Macomb IL 61455; (309) 298-2900. Box office hours are Monday-Friday, noon-5 p.m. 


State of Illinois Accreditation Team Invites Public Comment Re: OPS

MACOMB, IL -- The Western Illinois University Office of Public Safety (OPS) is seeking public comment from the University and area community members as part of the department's Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ILEAP) evaluation. 

OPS is in the process of revising its policies and procedures in order to meet the standards set by ILEAP. As part of the accreditation process, the policies and procedures must reflect ILEAP standards and follow ILEAP mandates. According to OPS Director Scott Harris, accreditation demonstrates that an agency has achieved a level of professionalism among its law enforcement peers and validates the methods of service its members provide to the community in which it serves.

OPS personnel, WIU faculty, staff and students and members of the community are invited to offer comments during a public information call-in session at (309) 298-2610 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21. Calls, which are limited to five minutes, must address the department's ability to meet the ILEAP accreditation standards, which include administration, personnel, operations and training.

"This feedback is an important part of the accreditation process as it provides valuable information on how the department provides service to the community, and how the department may better serve the needs of the community going forward," Harris added.

Individuals who are unable to call on Feb. 21 during the designated timeframe may submit a comment ILEAP assessor Chief Tony Brown of the Rantoul Police Department at

Brown and Investigations Commander Paul Yaras of the Morton Grove Police Department will conduct an on-site assessment of the Office of Public Safety Feb. 21-22 to judge the department on the basis of ILEAP standards regarding administration, operations, personnel and training for Tier I accreditation.

Tier I accreditation requires the department to meet 69 separate ILEAP standards regarding administration, operations, personnel and training, which are designed to follow best practices in policing. 

Western's Office of Public Safety started as Campus Safety and Security in 1956, replacing the security guard era. The department, currently led by Director Harris, employs 24 fulltime officers and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week from Mowbray Hall on the WIU campus. In addition to routine patrol, OPS dispatches officers to the street on foot and bicycles, as well as in the residence halls nightly. Officers also perform such duties transporting money from campus buildings to local banks; providing security to athletic events and concerts; providing traffic control; providing transportation to the hospital; conducting building safety checks; hosting educational and safety-related programming; and supervising student patrol and emergency medical services on campus.



Early Dismissal 2-11-19

-Dallas City Elementary School Dismissing at 12:00 pm All Evening Activities Cancelled


-LaHarpe Elementary will be dismissing at 12:15 today with no evening activities.


Macomb School District DELAY! 2-11-19

Due to the freezing fog the Macomb School District will be on a two hour delay today, February 11th.  Everything will run two hours later.  No Early Bird PE and MacArthur will have no morning session.


Senator Tracy urges House to reject minimum wage hike

Minimum wage was the talking point for Republican State Senator of the 47th district, Jil Tracy, after the U.S Senate passed a plan created by the Democratic party to raise the nation’s minimum wage to $15. Opponents of the plan argued that the proposed plan would aid Chicago, but neglect the rest of the state of Illinois. Senator Tracy focused on the negative effects for Western Illinois business owners and workers.


Tracy stated that, “Employers are leaving in droves seeking less regulation and fewer taxes in our neighboring states. Adding yet another budgetary and regulative layer to business will only fuel that outmigration.” She continued saying, “This legislation is a one-size-fits-all package that only suits Chicago and is completely blind to the rest of the state. Our small businesses, nonprofits, hospitals and schools can’t afford this. It will hurt their ability to retain staff, and provide services. We want working families to have jobs that pay well and a good quality of life for their families, but the plan that passed the Senate may have them facing fewer job opportunities, higher consumer costs, and other ramifications we can’t even fully understand yet.”


Yesterday, the Senate passed the plan, which now moves to the House of Representatives. The details of the plan involve the minimum wage gradually increasing to $15 over the next six years. This, however, would cause detrimental harm to small businesses and retailers, school districts, hospitals, state agencies and human services.


A study from North Carolina State University claimed that this plan would also harm agriculture throughout the country. The study reports that the increases would cause a decline in productivity by 6.5 percent.


As Senate Bill 1 is moved to the House for consideration, Senator Tracy urged members in the House to reject this plan, which could cause great harm to the state of Illinois. A full interview with Jil Tracy concerning the minimum wage increase can be found below:



Local 4-H Club Makes Donation to McDonough District Hospital

The latest community service project from a local 4-H club will benefit patients of McDonough District Hospital.


Members of the Scotland Clever Clover 4-H Club of McDonough County created several fleece tie blankets during their January meeting. Inpatients will receive these blankets as gifts during their stay at MDH. Club member, Ryan Haney, worked as lead on the project while he organized the fabric needed, took measurements, and delivered instructions.


Manufacturers push for Minimum Wage Compromise in House

The Illinois Manufacturers' Association (IMA) released the following statement today after the Senate approved legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour across the state:


"Manufacturers across Illinois are alarmed by the Senate's quick approval of legislation to raise the minimum wage across the state. This is particularly concerning for employers outside Chicago, where the cost of living is lower and it will be more difficult to absorb this 82 percent wage hike over a short five year period of time," said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. "The IMA will continue to push compromise proposals in the House in the hope legislators recognize the detrimental impact this will have on businesses and the communities they anchor."


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



2018 McDonough County Final Multiplier Announced

The final property assessment equalization factor for McDonough County was released just yesterday, February 6, 2019.


This comes from the Illinois Department of Revenue’s Director, Constance Beard. The factor, often called a multiplier, is used to achieve an equal property assessment among all of Illinois’ 6,600 taxing districts. This assessment is required by law and if there is no equalization among the counties, it would result in major inequities among taxpayers with property that are comparable.


This year’s multiplier, being 0.9832, is the same number used as a tentative factor back in November 2018. Last year’s factor was 1.0000. McDonough County’s assessments are at 33.90 percent, according to property sold from 2015 to 2017.


The factor itself will be assigned to taxes from 2018, that will be payable in 2019. This factor was issued after a public hearing in 2018.


Now, a change in the equalization factor does NOT mean property taxes in McDonough will increase or decrease. Tax bills are determined by local officials when they ask for your taxes. If the taxes cost more than the previous year, the property tax will NOT increase if assessments are increased.


Macomb Recognizes MidAmerica National Bank for 148 years Downtown

Downtown Macomb Development recognizes MidAmerica National Bank, formerly  known as the Union National Bank, as a Historic Legacy Business Enterprise.


Union National Bank was founded in 1871 in downtown Macomb. On July 1, 1997 the bank was purchased by The National Bank of Canton. In January 1998, the  market expansion had greater product offerings.The name of The National Bank of Canton was changed to MidAmerica National Bank.


“As we often focus on attracting new business, the recognition of MidAmerica National Bank

and several other businesses is meant to thank the businesses for their contribution to the

community and to help preserve a thriving downtown,” said Mayor Mike Inman.


“I enjoy this project every year. Sometimes folks focus on the negative, but there is so much to be thankful for in our downtown area. There are more businesses than people think that have been around for more than 40 years here in Macomb,” stated Downtown Development Director Kristin Terry.


So far, the City of Macomb Downtown Development has awarded 11 businesses with the Historic Downtown Legacy Business Enterprise. Which includes Purdum Electric, Diamond Den, Citizens Bank, Terrill Title, Sir Lawrence’s Barbershop, Dick’s Barbershop, Nelson’s Clothing Store, Pumo Insurance, Gumbart’s, and MidAmerica National Bank.


Pentatonix Returns to the Illinois State Fair with Special Guest Rachel Platten

Get ready A Capella fans, because the Grammy award winning and Multi-Platinum group, Pentatonix, is returning to the Illinois State Fair along with special guest, Rachel Platten, on Wednesday, August 14, 2019. 


This will be the second time Pentatonix has performed on the Grandstand stage in three years, the first back in 2017. Platten, known for her hit song, “Fight Song”, is opening for the group. Tickets go on sale later in the Spring for the following prices:


Tier 3 - $45 / Tier 2 - $50 / Tier 1 - $55 / Gen Track - $55 / VIP Track - $75


The Illinois State Fair takes place this August in Springfield from the 8th to the 18th. More announcements to come on who will be performing at the Fair at a later date. To stay up to date on the announcements, follow Illinois State Fair on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram


Early Dismissal! 2-7-19

-Due to the weather conditions Macomb School District will close 3 hours early today, February 7th.  Whatever time your child is normally dismissed, please move it up 3 hours.  MacArthur PM is cancelled. All after school activities and practices are cancelled.  There will be no YMCA after school program (MAP) and no Crossing program. Please contact your child's school office with updated afternoon plans


-Rushville Industry Schools will be dismissing at 12:05pm today 2-7-19


-The Crossing Preschool Macomb will be closing at 1:15 today. No afternoon classes. 



Closings and Delays 2-7-19


Abilities: Closed Today

Canton R-5: Closed Today

Carthage Elementary: Closed Today

Central Lee: Delayed 2 hours; Buses on Main roads only

Dallas City Elementary: Closed Today; Evening Activities Cancelled

Hancock County Gun Club: Cancelled Thursday

Illini West: Closed Today

Knox Co Health Dept-Edina: Closed Today

Knox Co. Judicial Offices: Closed Thursday

Knox Co. R-1 Edina: Closed Today

LaHarpe Elementary: Closed Today; Evening Activities Cancelled

Van Buren Community Schools: Delayed 2 hours; Buses on Main roads only; Includes Harmony

Warsaw: Closed Today


Mother Moon Service Scholarship Applications Available

McDonough County United Way is asking local High School Juniors to apply today for their Mother Moon Service Scholarship. Named after Sadie “Mother” Moon, the scholarship aims to help fund students who have used their time freely to aid their community and its people.


To be eligible for the Mother Moon Service Scholarship a student must meet the following criteria:


- Be enrolled as a Junior at one of the accredited McDonough County high schools


- Plan to attend an accredited public or private University, College, Vocational Technical school, or

other post-secondary institution upon graduation from high school


- Be a good example and role model for others


- Demonstrate an attitude of caring by giving freely of their time and talent in service to others in

their community


- Have contributed at least 100 hours of service to their community within a 12 month period


To find out more about the Mother Moon Service Scholarship and to apply, contact McDonough County United Way by calling 309-837-9180, or emailing for your application. All applications must be turned in to McDonough County United Way by March 29, 2019.


School Closings and Delays 2-6-19


Abilities: Closed Today

Brashear Schools: Closed Today

Brown County Schools: Closed Today

Bucklin School: Closed Today

Camp Point Schools Unit 3: Closed Today

Canton R-5: Closed Today

Carl Sandburg College-Carthage: Opening at 10:00 AM; Classes start at 11

Carthage Elementary: Closed TodayCentral Lee: Buses on Main roads only; Wed. AM & PM RoutesClark Co. R-1 Kahoka: Closed Today

Dallas City Elementary: Closed Today; Evening Activities Cancelled

Giving Tree Childcare Ctr: Delayed 2 hours Wednesday; Open at 8:30 AM

Hamilton Schools: Closed Today

Illini West: Closed Today

Keokuk Public, Catholic: Opening at 10:00 AM; No Early Out/Hard Su

Knox Co. R-1 Edina: Closed Today

LaHarpe Elementary: Closed Today; Evening Activities Cancelled

Lewis County C-1: Closed Today

Liberty Schools: Closed Today

Macomb Public: Closed Today

Macon R1: Closed Today

Marion Co. R-II-Philadelphia: Closed Today

Mendon Schools: Closed Today; Evening Activities Cancelled

Mission Hill Christian Academy: Closed Today; HisKids Pre-k closed

Monroe City Head Start: Closed Today

Monroe City R-1: Closed Today; Holy Rosary Closed

Nauvoo-Colusa Schools: Closed Today

North Shelby: Closed Today

Payson Schools: Closed Today

Perry Christian Academy: Closed Today

Scotland Co. R-1 Memphis: Delayed 2 hours

Shelby Co. R-IV So. Shelby: Closed Today

Southeastern Dist. 337: Closed Today

St.Peter & Paul-Nauvoo: Closed Today

The Crossing Preschool-Macomb: Closed Today

V-I-T: Delayed 2 hours; No Pre-k Classes Van Buren Community Schools: Closed Today; Includes Harmony

Warsaw: Closed TodayWest Prairie CUSD #103: Closed Today

Western - CU District 12: Closed Today

YMCA McDonough County NO Senior Meals


Regional Media Names New Head at WZOE-AM, WZOE-FM, and WRVY-FM

Over the past few weeks, Regional Media has been interviewing candidates to fill several open positions since its recent acquisition of WZOE-AM, WZOE-FM, WRVY-FM, and is proud to announce a promotion from within the ranks of the Regional Media organization itself.


Regional Media elevates current Sterling Illinois team member Sam Woolsey to the lead position in the programming department at its Princeton, Illinois stations.Commenting on his recent promotion, Mr. Woolsey said, "I'm grateful for this amazing opportunity in Princeton and I'm looking forward to becoming an intrical part of the Princeton community".


Mr.Woolsey has been an intrical part of the immense success in the turn around of WSSQ-FM, WSDR-AM, and WZZT-FM leading to Regional Media to winning the prestigious Small Market Station of the Year award, along with the launch of the now leading news site and, a premier sports content site within Regional Media’s holdings.


Regional Media President and CEO Fletcher Ford said, “It was incredibly exciting to award this promotion from within the ranks of our current staff. Sam is a phenomenal individual with true character and passion for local service. He is a tremendous asset to our organization.”


Some new and exciting changes are in the planning stages as Regional Media works to improve the operations of the stations almost immediately. As part of these improvements, Mr. Woolsey will host the all new Wakeup Princeton morning talk show on WZOE-AM 1490 from 6a-9a weekdays. The show is slated to start in the weeks to come.


Mr. Woolsey will work directly with Vice President Jason Gilbraith, and President & CEO Fletcher Ford to help Princeton Illinois media roar back.


Regional Media is the largest locally owned media company in Illinois with radio serving markets from Clinton Iowa to Quincy Illinois and beyond.


For more information, please contact


MDH First Aid Class Cancelled for Tonight

The Community First Aid Class scheduled for tonight, February 5, has been canceled due to inclement weather.


Individuals registered for the class will have the opportunity to re-schedule. For further information, contact MDH Outreach Services at (309) 836-1584.


Carl Sanburg College Closes Campus Today at 4pm

Carl Sandburg has closed their campus today at 4pm due to inclement weather


Governor Pritzker Announces $28.9 Million in Grants for 89 Local Park Projects Throughout Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Governor JB Pritzker announced that $28.9 million in grants for 89 local projects  will help communities acquire more open space and develop recreational facilities throughout Illinois.


“Investments in Illinois’ local parks makes it easier for families and recreation enthusiasts to enjoy the state’s beauty and help our communities thrive,” Governor Pritzker said. “Parks projects will also create jobs, providing a boost to local economic development efforts in dozens of communities and spurring additional investment throughout the state.”


The grants are announced through the state’s Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The program will provide more than $28 million to support 87 projects, while two projects will be funded through in the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The grant programs  provide up to one-half of a project’s funds, and when combined with the investment of local matching funds, it will support more than $56 million in local park development projects and land acquisitions statewide.


The OSLAD program began in 1987 and has invested $419.4 million in 1,765 local park projects. The program receives dedicated funding from a percentage of the state’s Real Estate Transfer Tax.


This year’s OSLAD/LWCF grant recipients, project information, county, and amount received is listed below:


Alsip Park District Laramie Park Development Cook $400,000.00 

Atkinson, Village of Veterans Memorial Park Project Henry $68,700.00 

Aurora, City of Increasing Public Use of Wilder Promenade Kane $365,000.00 

Bartlett PD “Free to Be Me” Inclusive Playground Cook $400,000.00 

Beardstown, City of Marina Improvements Cass $400,000.00 

Buffalo Grove PD Green Lake Park Lake $400,000.00 

Bunker Hill, City of Mae Meissner Whitaker Park Improvements Macoupin $199,400.00 

Burbank PD Narragansett Park Redevelopment Cook $400,000.00 

Butterfield PD Glenbriar Park Phase II Development DuPage $400,000.00 

Carlinville Park District Carlinville Public Pool Renovations Macoupin $400,000.00 

Champaign County FPD Expanding Accessibility at Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve Champaign $152,400.00 

Champaign PD Human Kinetics Park Development Champaign $400,000.00 

Channahon PD Arroyo Trails Park Development Will $400,000.00 

Chicago PD Park 584 – West Pullman community Cook $350,000.00 

Chicago PD Park 583 – South Deering community Cook $298,700.00 

Chicago PD Park 593 – Albany Park community Cook $317,200.00 

Chicago PD Park 585 – Chicago Lawn community Cook $196,700.00 

Collinsville, City of Glidden Park Revival Development Madison $400,000.00 

Columbia, City of Creekside Park Development Monroe $400,000.00 

Cook County Forest Preserve District Creating Nature Based Education/Recreation Campus – Sand Ridge, Shabbona Woods, Green Lake Cook $673,900.00 

Danville, City of Historic Ellsworth Park Redevelopment Vermilion $373,900.00 

Dieterich, Village of Liberty Memorial Park Improvements Effingham $306,600.00 

DuPage County FPD Picnic Pavilion Improvements at St. James Farm Forest Preserve DuPage $150,000.00 

Elburn, Village of Keslinger and Liberty Community Park Development Kane $400,000.00 

Evanston, City of Harbert Park Renovations Cook $320,000.00 

Flagg Rochelle Community PD Spring Lake Park Improvements Ogle $310,600.00 

Forsyth, Village of Forsyth Family Sports Park Land Acquisition (LWCF) Macon $309,200.00 

Fox Valley PD Backyard Park Development Kane $285,500.00 

Geneseo, City of Richmond Hill Park Phase One Redevelopment Henry $400,000.00 

Geneva PD Peck Farm North Development Kane $400,000.00 

Glen Ellyn PD Ackerman Park Improvements DuPage $400,000.00 

Glenview PD Wagner Farm Master Plan Cook $400,000.00 

Glenview PD The Grove Land Acquisition (LWCF) Cook $309,200.00 

Golf Maine PD Dee Park Redevelopment Cook $200,000.00 

Hampshire Township PD Park at Tuscany Woods Development Kane $400,000.00 

Hawthorn Woods, Village of Meadowlark Park and Arboretum Development Lake $105,100.00

Hickory Hills PD Kasey Meadow Park Improvements Cook $368,200.00 

Hoffman Estates PD South Ridge Community Park and Splash Pad Cook $400,000.00 

Joliet PD Grove Road Development Phase 2 Will/Kendall $265,400.00 

Kane County FPD Oakhurst Forest Preserve Improvements Kane $400,000.00 

Kankakee, City of Kankakee Riverwalk Land Acquisition Kankakee $134,000.00 

Keithsburg, City of Keithsburg Riverside Campground Improvements Mercer $140,400.00 

Kendall County FPD Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve Development Kendall $316,500.00 

Lake Barrington, Village of Fetherling Park Development Lake $192,500.00 

Lake Forest, City of South Park Improvements Lake $280,000.00 

Lake in the Hills, Village of Turtle Island Park Expansion Development McHenry $277,700.00 

Macon County CD Rock Springs Conservation Area Cattail Pond Improvements Macon $75,000.00

Memorial PD Development of Eisenhower Park Campus - Bellwood Cook $338,200.00 

Metropolis, City of Franklin Park/Metropolis City Pool Improvements Massac $231,600.00 

Midlothian PD Bremen Heights Park Redevelopment Cook $400,000.00 

Minooka, Village of Aux Sable Springs Park Development Kendall $400,000.00 

Mt. Zion, Village of Fletcher Park Splash Pad Development Macon $374,200.00 

Mundelein Park and Rec District Clearbrook Park Development Lake $400,000.00 

Naperville PD Southwest Community Park Development Will $400,000.00 

New Lenox Community PD Leigh Creek South Park at Heather Glen Development Will $400,000.00

Normal, Town of Maxwell Park Improvements McLean $400,000.00 

Northfield PD Clarkson Park Improvements Cook $400,000.00 

Oak Brook, Village of Sports Core Improvement Plan DuPage $279,600.00 

Oak Park Park District Stevenson Park Renovation Cook $400,000.00 

Oglesby, City of Senica Square City Park Development LaSalle $400,000.00 

Oregon PD Park West Phase Two Development Ogle $400,000.00 

Orion, Village of Love Park Addition Henry $34,300.00 

Palos Heights, City of Palmer Park Redevelopment Cook $400,000.00 

Palos Hills Pleasure Lake Recreation Amenities Cook $126,000.00 

Pleasant Dale PD Walker Park Redevelopment – Burr Ridge Cook $400,000.00 

Rantoul, Village of Rudzinksi Park Redevelopment Champaign $360,000.00 

Rapids City, Village of Shuler's Shady Grove Wellness Center Rock Island $6,300.00 

River Trails PD Burning Bush Trails Park – Mount Prospect Cook $400,000.00 

Riverwoods, Village of Flatwoods Heritage Center Development Lake $400,000.00 

Rock Island County FPD Loud Thunder Forest Preserve Camping Improvements Rock Island $400,000.00 

Rock Island, City of Douglas Park Phase 2 Renovation Rock Island $150,000.00 

Rockford PD Washington Park Development Winnebago $250,000.00 

Roselle PD Goose Lake Park Development DuPage $257,800.00 

Sandoval, Village of Village Park Improvement Project Marion $344,300.00 

Schaumburg PD Spring Valley Nature Center Program and Visitor Amenities Cook $400,000.00

Schiller Park, Village of Clock Tower Park Expansion Cook $156,000.00 

Skokie PD Laramie Park Improvements Cook $400,000.00 

St. Charles PD Pottawatomie Park Redevelopment Kane $248,600.00 

Streamwood PD Commissioner's Park Improvements Cook $400,000.00 

Tinley Park PD St. Boniface Park Redevelopment Cook $400,000.00 

Tuscola, City of Tennis and Basketball Court Update Douglas $328,100.00 

Urbana PD Crystal Lake Rehabilitation Project Champaign $400,000.00 

Vienna, City of Vienna City Park Improvements Johnson $360,000.00 

Wauconda PD Phil's Beach Project Lake $400,000.00 

Waukegan PD Eugene P. King Park Improvements Lake $400,000.00 

Western Springs PD Spring Rock Park Redevelopment Cook $400,000.00 

Wheaton PD Memorial Park Improvements DuPage $400,000.00

Williamsville, Village of Williamsville Playground and Trail Improvements Sangamon $73,600.00 

Winchester, City of Pool Renovations Scott $335,000.00 

Winfield, Village of Riverwalk Park Phase One Development DuPage $400,000.00 

Wood Dale PD White Oaks Park Phase 2 Improvements DuPage $397,500.00 


Early Dismissal! 2-5-19

Illini West High School will be dismissed at 12:30pm today 2-5-19


Bushnell Prairie City Schools will be dismissed at 1:30pm today 2-5-19


LaHarpe Elementary School will be dismissing at 1:00pm today 2-5-19 (All evening activities are canceled)


Macomb Bombers Boys Varsity and JV basketball game has been canceled tonight 2-5-19


Dallas City Elementary School will be dismissing at 1:00pm today 2-5-19 (No evening activities)


Due to the ice storm warning Macomb School District will close 2 hours early today, February 5.  Whatever time your child is normally dismissed, please move it up 2 hours.  MacArthur PM is cancelled. All after school activities and practices are cancelled.  There will be no YMCA after school program (MAP) and no Crossing program. Please contact your child's school office with updated afternoon plans.


WIU Macomb and QC will be closing at 3pm today.


Weather Advisory: WIU-Macomb 2-5-19

MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- Due to forecasted winter weather (ice) for the region later today, a University weather advisory has been issued for Western Illinois University's Macomb and Quad Cities campuses from 1 p.m. today (Feb. 5) until 6 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6. Weather conditions may change rapidly. Watch for updates.

At this time, the campuses will remain open and classes will be held. Go West updates can be found at and on Twitter @wiugowest.

In general, the University will typically remain open provided campus buildings are accessible. In all weather situations, it is ultimately the personal responsibility of faculty, staff and students to make their own decisions regarding attendance and to use their judgment concerning travel conditions. The WIU policy on limiting University operations because of emergency conditions is available in the Administrative Procedures Handbook.

According to University policy, if an advisory is issued due to weather and students consider travel to campus unsafe, they should arrange with faculty to complete academic course requirements missed during the time of the advisory. Individual faculty members are responsible for their academic course requirements, and it is the individual faculty member's decision whether or not to grant a request to make up work that has been missed as a result of a University advisory. Faculty should be flexible with attendance policies during this period.

The weather advisory allows employees the option to use accrued vacation time, compensatory time or approved leave without pay after notifying their supervisor. An employee who determines that it is not safe to travel will not be subject to discipline for being absent. Supervisors are expected to honor reasonable requests of employees to arrive late or to leave early because of inclement weather.

Winter driving conditions in Illinois can be found at 

For more information on ways to protect yourself from the cold, see winter safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .


Macomb Feminist Network Names 2019 Writing Women into History Honorees

MACOMB, IL -- The Macomb Feminist Network has selected Winona Malpass, Belinda Carr, Susan Lawhorn, Essie Rutledge and Patricia Walton for its 2019 Writing Women into History Awards. 

The women will be honored for their outstanding contributions to the local community at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 2, during a reception at the Wesley Village Community Center. This is the 10th year the award will be given.

The Macomb Feminist Network established the Writing Women into History Award because of a belief that women have often been overlooked in history. Through the award, the Network expands public knowledge and appreciation of individual women whose initiatives, advocacy and engagement have strengthened the local community in significant ways. This year’s recipients, like previous recipients, excel as role models and community leaders. 

Winona Malpass is being honored posthumously for her work as the person who initiated, and then coordinated, the first hospice program in Macomb. Malpass embraced the ideas Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross explored in "On Death and Dying" and volunteered to provide counseling at McDonough District Hospital (MDH) to help patients and their families facing death. Her work as a volunteer, begun in the late 1970s, was so significant and appreciated, that MDH incorporated the hospice program into its mission and hired Malpass to coordinate it. She also became a vital resource and support for other county agencies, including the McDonough County Health Department’s Home Nursing and Community Care programs. Malpass gave direct care through her counseling, educated the community about hospice care and advocated for its acceptance. 

Belinda Carr, a WIU graduate, will be honored for multiple contributions, including as a previous director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center (GBCC), and for her service to the larger community through her work on the Housing Authority of McDonough County and the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission, as well as the McDonough County Board. As a member of the Board of P.R.I.M.E. (Pride and Responsibility in My Environment), for 20 years she partnered with WIU departments to provide workshops for youth during eight-week summer programs. As director of the GBCC, Carr helped organize annual Juneteenth events to celebrate the end of slavery and deepen the region’s enjoyment of African American culture. She was critical to local Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations, soul food festivals and countless other programs featuring scholars, artists and activists. Characteristically, she worked behind the scenes, giving students opportunities to develop and showcase thei
 r talents. Carr took up the challenge of creating welcoming spaces for WIU’s African American students in both the WIU and Macomb communities.

Susan Lawhorn is being recognized for her many contributions to Loaves and Fishes (L&F), a food pantry organized 25 years ago and now serving over 400 households each month. A member of the L&F founding committee and the original—and current--boards, Lawhorn has contributed to L&F in numerous ways over the 25 years. She helped determine the structure of L&F and regularly assists with day-to-day operations. She trains and coordinates the 30-40 volunteers who serve the people who come to the pantry, prepares the monthly schedule of volunteers, supports them when they have questions and fills in herself as needed. Two months of the year she is one of the volunteers who interacts directly with pantry clients, stocks the pantry shelves and arranges for deliveries from food banks and pick-ups at local grocery stores. During her quarter century with L&F, Lawhorn has been ready to do whatever is needed to keep the pantry open five days a week for people in need. As an artist, she has a lon
 g history of promoting art in the schools and, more recently, at the West Central Illinois Art Center.

Essie Rutledge, a Macomb Feminist Network member, has contributed to Western Illinois University and to Macomb since she arrived in 1976 to chair WIU's African American Studies Department. She is being honored for her advocacy for equity through her mentoring of individuals on and off campus, and through her participation in multiple organizations, including the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission, the Lions Club, the NAACP and the Western Illinois Regional Council. She facilitated the creation of WIU’s Women’s Center and served on its advisory board. As a member of UPI, WIU’s faculty union, aware that women and people of color were often disadvantaged in salary and promotion negotiations--but without overlooking the needs of all University personnel. Rutledge looked out for traditionally underrepresented individuals, has been able to call attention to inequity, and stands her ground whenever justice is threatened.

Patricia Walton is being honored most specifically as a "defender and advocate for children’s rights." Since her 1994 appointment as an associate judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, she has established the Drug Court, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program and the Improvement Committee for Juvenile Court, all in McDonough County. A licensed foster parent, Walton has served as a temporary foster parent for children and assisted in training individuals seeking a foster care license. She has advanced certification from the Child Abuse and Neglect Institute that promotes best practices for judges presiding over child abuse and dependency cases. She helped start Bushnell’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program, became its first Big Sister, and in 2015, was named Big Sister of the Year for Warren and McDonough Counties. She is an active member of the Bushnell Rotary Club, McDonough County Habitat for Humanity, the McDonough Bar Association, McDonough County Republicans,
  McDonough County Republican Women and the Macomb’s Women’s Club.

These women join the women who have been honored previously with the Writing Women into History Award: Wanda Black; Mary Ellen Graff, Rosa Julestrom and Beth Stiffler (2010); Connie Berg, Marcia Moll and Ruth Parks (2011); Maria Dunstan, Judith Kohler and Donna Werner (2012); Josephine Johnson, Elizabeth Kaspar and Janice Welsch (2013); Gordana Rezab, Alice Swain and Mary Warnock (2014), Lois Ganyard, Margaret Ovitt and Suzan Nash (2015); Alice Henry, Alta Sargent and Peggy Scharfenburg (2016); Lorraine Epperson, Debbie Maguire, Pamella McLean and Rebecca “Becky” Parker (2017); and Sally Egler, Martha Klems, Maurine Magliocco and Paula Wise (2018). Information about these women’s contributions to the city and county is available on the Macomb Feminist Network’s website at

The public is invited to join MFN members in honoring this year’s award recipients at the March 2 event. Following a light brunch, at 10 a.m. honorees or a representative will tell their stories of activism and civic commitment.


WIU's Chick-fil-A holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Today

The Ambassador Committee of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting today to celebrate the recent addition of Chick-fil-A to the many dining options located within the University Union on Western Illinois University's Macomb campus.


For complete hours of operation and more information: visit


Macomb Releases PSA Regarding Unreported Leaks around the City

After last weeks extreme cold temperatures and more recent warm up, the City’s Water
Plant is seeing an increase in the water production for the City. We feel that there are
unreported leaks either in the water mains or within buildings.

We would ask that if you see a suspected water main leak that you report it to the
Water Plant at 309-836-3916.

We also encourage everyone to investigate any unoccupied buildings looking for water


WIU Broadcasting Students Named Finalists in NBS Competition

MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University students have been named finalists in 11 categories of the 56th annual National Undergraduate Student Electronic Media Competition, held by the National Broadcasting Society (NBS).

The award winners will be announced during the March NBS convention in Philadelphia, PA, which will be attended by WIU Broadcasting and Journalism faculty Jasmine Crighton and Assistant Professor Patrick Johnson and several students.

Johnson will also be presenting a research paper during the professional competition.

The finalists are:

Audio News Segment: "WIU Fights For Center for Performing Arts Construction"
Rebecca Stambaugh, a junior broadcasting major, of Chapin, IL

Audio Station Imaging: "88.3 The Dog - Commercial Free"
Austin Pilger, a senior broadcasting major, of Beardstown, IL

Audio PSAs: "WIU 2K18 Dance Marathon PSA"
Marcellus Angel, a junior broadcasting major, of Milan, IL

Video News Segment: "Future of WIUM Uncertain After WIU Cuts State Funding"
Devin Brooks, a sophomore broadcasting major, of St. Louis, MO

Video News Segment: "Demographic Shift Poses Problems for Future Retiree"
Terrance Black, a senior broadcasting major, of South Holland, IL, and Emily Kenney, a senior broadcasting major, of Farmington, IL

Video Feature Package: "It's Called What?"

Video Feature Segment: "Macomb Honors Soldiers for Veterans Day"

Video Newscast (Live): "NEWS3 | Live at Four | November 1, 2018"
Kenney, Brooks and Black

Outstanding Multi-Camera Direction: "NEWS3 | Decision 2018 | November 6, 2018"

Drama Program Script: "Heinous"
Black and Kenney

Website: ""
Andrew Ball, a freshman broadcasting major, of Bettendorf, IA

For more information about the WIU Department of Broadcasting and Journalism, visit 


Hunters Helping the Hungry Program Staff Say Thank You

The WIRC-CAA released the following statement today:


The Hunters Helping the Hungry Program Staff of the Western Illinois Regional Council-
Community Action Agency wish to extend a thank you to all who made this a successful season
for this program. Through the generosity of many hunters and the participating lockers, over
5,500 pounds of deer burger has been distributed through the WIRC-CAA’s food pantry, and
other food pantries throughout the region, to those in need of food assistance.

To the participating locker plants in Blandinsville, Bowen, Bushnell, Carthage, and Stronghurst,
we send a big thank you. We are very grateful for your willingness to assist us in this program.
And to all of the hunters who generously donated the deer, we couldn’t do this program
without you! You make it possible through your part in management of our natural resources
and your willingness to help those in need, and we thank you! Your generosity will help us, and
the other participating food pantries in the region, provide nutrition for those who are less

Again, thanks to all, and we appreciate each and every one of you for your donation.




Shaun Pritchard and the WIRC-CAA Staff


Interfaith Alliance of Macomb Holds Essay Contest

The Interfaith Alliance of Macomb (IAM), dedicated to promoting unity and respect for
all within the community, is holding a youth essay contest for students in first grade
through high school. The contest, titled Peace: Prose & Poetry, asks participants to
reflect on the subject, “What peace means to me” in a one page or less essay or poem.

Participating students should submit their entries to their teachers by Monday,
February 11th. Home schooled students may turn in their essays to the District 185
Board of Education Office. Contest winners and their teachers will be notified on
February 25th. Essays and poems will be judged based on creativity, originality, and
personal experience.

Top submissions in grades one through six will be awarded $25.00, one award per
grade. Three $50.00 awards will be given to the top submissions in each of the
following two grade categories: 7th and 8th , 9th and 10th , and 11th and 12th . Award winners
will be recognized during the WIU International Bazaar on March 2nd in the WIU
University Union. Winning essays will be read aloud by the students during the Bazaar
and also at the IAM Unity event held in the fall. All participants in the essay contest will
receive recognition and incentives provided by local merchants.

Interfaith Alliance of Macomb was established in early 2017 with the goal of promoting
respect and increasing understanding among the various faiths and cultures within the
Macomb community. The group hopes to offer a voice to express condemnation of
bigotry, hate, fear and violence in a non-political, non-partisan, and non-violent
manner. IAM encourages peaceful and respectful community engagement through the
organization of family-friendly opportunities for people of all ages, faiths and cultures
to interact within a safe environment.

For more information about IAM and/or the contest, contact Janice Rockwell at (309)
331-4783 or at


WIU Students help during Polar Vortex

MACOMB, IL – Staff and student workers from the Western Illinois University Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center help create a statewide map of warming centers to help Illinois residents during the recent polar vortex weather conditions. The WIU center worked closely with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to complete the work. 

The maps and GIS layers were shared on social media by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and liked, shared or re-tweeted by countless Illinois residents, including Governor JB Pritzker.

"The weather system that moved through our state delivered record breaking, life-threatening wind chills," said Acting IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. "The assistance provided by the team at Western Illinois University proved to be invaluable as the state worked to inform the public about the importance and availability of warming centers up and down our state." 

In cooperation with Pamela Brooks, the GIS liaison for the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), the WIU center was able to put into action a very preliminary plan they have been developing for less than a month with the WIU Severe Weather Club, WIU IESMA Student Organization and the Student Society of Geography. These student groups are interested in providing GIS assistance to area emergency response agencies in the event the need arises. 

"The Polar Vortex of 2019 gave us an opportunity to jump in before protocols had been established," said GIS Center Director Chad Sperry. 

He added that WIU students Jack Walberg, a senior network technologies major, GIS minor, of Ottawa, IL, and Adam Fackler, a senior law enforcement and justice administration major, GIS minor, of Lake Zurich, IL, collected data for the map from a variety of sources. 

"Jack and Adam continue to go above and beyond when they have an opportunity to apply their skills and to help," said Sperry. "When provided an opportunity to help, they both volunteered their time on a day that WIU was shut down due to the cold to make sure IEMA could receive the support they needed."

Additional student assistance for the project came from Ian Stearns, a sophomore meteorology major, of Springfield, IL; Jason Wiegand, a junior GIS major, of Jacksonville, IL; and Nate Stowell, a freshman meteorology major, of Bancroft, MI.  

Supervision was provided by GIS Center staff members WIU GIS specialists Renée Büker and Keisuke Nozaki. Büker and Nozaki managed the request for mapping help and ensured it was completed on time. 

For more information on the GIS Center at WIU, visit