Local News Archives for 2017-01

Caterpillar changes HQ plans

Caterpillar Tuesday announced it has cancelled plans for a global headquarters in downtown Peoria. Cat will move its new headquarters to Chicago by year's end. Company spokeperson Rachel Potts told W-M-B-D radio that they will lease space in Chicago, which will be a minimum expense compared to previous plans;

Potts says the Chicago move will affect about 300 employees, about 100 of which would relocate from Peoria. She says central Illinois will have a major role in the equipment manufacturer's future;

In February, 2015 Caterpillar announced plans for a nearly two-million square foot global headquarters campus in Peoria, spanning about 30 acres along the city's riverfront area.

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Senator Durbin says Muslim ban based on fear, not fact

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin took to the Senate Floor today to lash out against President Trump's executive order limiting travel from several Muslim majority nations.....

Over the weekend, Durbin joined colleague Tammy Duckworth in calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General to start an independent investigation into what they believe may have been an illegal implementation of President Trump’s executive order. 

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Three dead, including a mother and two small children in Morgan Co

For firefighters, it's the stuff nightmares are made of. A deadly blaze and possible pair of explosions in a residence rocked the small Morgan County town of Franklin, near Jacksonville. Coroner Jeff Lair says the fire claimed the lives of the youngest of victims...

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. A press conference is scheduled for this afternoon. Neighbors reported hearing something like a train wreck, then there was a second loud boom before flames shot skyward.

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First female coroner in Illinois passes away

A Madison County legend who blazed a trail for women in the public sector and forensics has passed away. Longtime Madison County Coroner Dallas Burke died Friday at the age of 90. She was the first woman to become a county coroner in Illinois. Current Coroner Stephen Nonn counts her as a mentor. He says breaking the gender barrier was only the start of her achievements...

Nonn credits Burke with preparing the office for the DNA era as she moved on from the system of investigations with volunteer, funeral home-based deputy coroners...

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Mary’s Catholic School or the Alton Symphony Orchestra.

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Cat Headquarters Leaving Peoria

The headquarters of Caterpillar is leaving downstate Peoria and moving to Chicago. The Peoria Journal Star reports that 100 employees will move by the end of the year and in all 300 employees will work in the Chicago office once the move becomes finalized. The shift north for Big Yellow will involve top executive and other support staff. Caterpillar was founded in Peoria in 1925 and is the world’s largest manufacturer of earth moving equipment.

Since 2015 the company has been in a cost cutting mode, eliminating 16,000 jobs. Caterpillar says moving to Chicago will allow the company better access to world markets allowing. Caterpillar says no location has been selected or yet been made official. 

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Acting Attorney General has Carlinville roots

Dana Boente has been thrust into the role of Acting Attorney General after President Trump fired Sally Yates from the role after she refused to enforce his immigration executive order. Boente, a Virginia based federal prosecutor, graduated from Carlinville High School and is a distant cousin of Mayor and former State Senator Deanna Demuzio

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Illinois closely watches Iowa water case

A recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling that an urban water works cannot sue agricultural drainage districts for damages related to alleged runoff has caught the attention of Illinois agriculture. In 2015, the Des Moines Water Works utility sued three rural county boards that have authority over drainage districts claiming they discharged nitrates into an Iowa river. The utility believes the districts violate the federal Clean Water Act. Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau's director of natural and environmental resources, says the court upheld a century’s worth of legal precedent;

While the Iowa high court ruled on questions pertaining to state law, two questions related to federal regulations in the Clean Water Act remain. A federal trial is anticipated this summer;

Last summer, about 15 Illinois Farm Bureau members ventured to Iowa to learn about nutrient management issues, including the Des Moines Water Works case.

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KHS Mid Winter Dance

Kewanee High School will host their annual Mid Winter Dance on Saturday evening at Good’s Gymnasium.

The event will run from 8-1 with a cost of $10 per person.

Amron Buchanan, Kiwanis Adviser to the Kewanee High School Key Club says it is a wonderful event for those high school students…

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Rep Bustos Opposes Refugee Ban


Congresswoman Cheri Bustos is responding to President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees from eight countries.  

 

“Once again, President Donald Trump’s impulsive behavior has put lives at risk - this time it’s innocent victims fleeing ISIS terrorists and Iraqis who stood with our military who will pay the price for President Trump’s actions. Donald Trump’s hastily drafted executive order diminishes America's superpower role as a global example for democracy while undermining our national security by breaking the trust between American troops in the field and the foreign fighters they count on every single day. There is no question that we must have secure borders and comprehensive vetting procedures for new immigrants, but Donald Trump’s action slams the door on women and children fleeing from the horror of ISIS terrorists and Russian bombing raids. I strongly urge President Trump to rescind this un-American and dangerous executive order before serious damage is done.”

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Flu and Colds

The cold and flu bug has been making the rounds for the last several weeks and reports are fairly common of a virus that just seems to hang on forever and ever.

Rebecca Hutchison is the Infection Control and Employee Health Coordinator at Hammond Henry Hospital in Geneseo and she says both bugs do have some similarities but they are also two separate entities…

  

Ms. Hutchison acknowledges that it can be difficult to keep viruses in check but there are some steps to keep in mind…

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National Wear Red Day


    The Henry and Stark County Health Departments, in conjunction with the American Heart Association, announce that Friday, February 3rd has been designated as National Wear Red Day.  This important health observance is noted to help focus attention on women and heart disease.

 

    RaeAnn Tucker, Director of Health Promotion with the Henry and Stark County Health Departments notes, "Women often do not take their risk of heart disease seriously or personally.  However, Heart Disease is the number 1 killer of women, killing more than all forms of cancer combined.  Many of these deaths can be prevented, but most women don't notice the symptoms until it's too late.  That's why it's been called the silent killer.  You can help increase awareness of women's heart health by wearing red, speaking up, and uniting with millions of women to help save lives across America."

 

    The Health Department offers the following Heart Health facts:

 

*   Heart disease is the number one killer of American women age 20 and over, killing approximately one woman every minute.

*   One in every 3 women dies of heart disease.  One in every 30 dies of breast cancer.

*   90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

*   Americans can lower their risk of heart disease by as much as 82% by just leading a healthy life.

 

    Risk factors are habits or conditions that increase the chance of developing a disease.  Many of the risk factors for heart disease can be prevented or controlled.  Having more than one risk factor is especially serious.  Women should talk to a health professional about their individual risks and how to lower them.

 

Risk factors for heart disease include:

 

*   Smoking   *   High Blood Pressure    *   Diabetes

*   High Blood Cholesterol   *   Obesity     * Physical Inactivity     

* Age    * Family history of heart disease

 

    For more information on heart health and the services of the Henry and Stark County Health Departments call (309) 852-0197 (Henry) or 852-3115 (Stark) or visit our website at www.henrystarkhealth.com or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments and Follow Us on Twitter.

 

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It's tax time. Here's how to be better prepared next year.

It’s tax time again. By the end of January all those W2’s and 1099’s should have arrived in the mail, plus interest payment information for any deductible payments to a lender. If you have a complicated tax situation, and are sitting in front of a pile of forms, receipts and other documents wondering how to get started, here’s a hint from Paul Neiffer of the CPA firm of CliftonLarsonAllen… To avoid record keeping headaches next year, use one of a variety of tax accounting software programs throughout the year.

CliftonLarsonAllen specializes in farm and business tax returns. Working in co-ordination with county Farm Bureau’s around Illinois, they work with their clients year around to make tax filing a little less painful.

Most farm tax returns must be filed by March 1st, the rest of by April 18, later than the normal April 15th due to a holiday on the 15th in Washington. All of your tax forms from employers, lenders, and others must be mailed to you be January 31st. If you need tax help, regardless of how simple of complex your tax situation, preparers specializing in farm and agri- business returns are available through your county Farm Bureau.

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Time Remains to Get Flu Shot

Are you still worried about getting the flu this year? You can protect yourself even if you have yet to get a flu shot. The Illinois Department of Public Health says it’s not too late to boost your immunity. Melaney Arnold with IDPH says that flu activity may be picking up in Illinois so get protected.

Healthcare professionals say a flu shot takes a little time to become fully active in your body so the sooner you get it the better.

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Slots Coming to Horse Racing Tracks?

Gambling expansion is part of the package of bills that has been crafted in hopes of getting the state a comprehensive budget. Six new casinos would be allowed to be built and a provision would help the state’s horse racing industry. The bill would allow slot machines at race three horse racing tracks. Illinois Harness Horseman Association Executive Director Tony Samone says the added income would shore up the industry

Supporters say the addition of slots would help provide revenue to the race tracks and boost purses for the winning horses.

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OSF on Tuned IN

Parkinsons Disease is discussed during the January 30 edition of Tuned IN on WKEI

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Edd Bickers Benefit

EDD BICKERS BENEFIT  1-30-17  MC KEE

As many people in the community are aware, Mr. Edd Bickers Jr. of Kewanee was seriously injured and burned in a house fire and explosion at his home on January 11th.

The cause of the fire and explosion was a gas leak in the house, and Mr. Bickers was able to get out of the house and with the help of neighbors, was able to get far enough away from the house before the explosion.

But he suffered serious injuries as a result and he lost everything except his heart and smile that have helped so many others over the years.

He suffered second and third degree burns over his body and is currently in a Springfield hospital in the rehab unit where he is undergoing skin grafts and other treatments.

To say that Eddie is still with us is an understatement and truly by the grace of God he was able to survive.

But his entire home was destroyed and once home from the hospital, the process of re-building his life will get underway.

Eddie will reportedly stay with his sister Cheryl and her family once back in Kewanee.

A benefit event to help Mr. Bickers with expenses and ongoing treatments is on the schedule for Saturday, April 1st at the Boiler Room in downtown Kewanee beginning at 3 that afternoon.

One of the many sponsors for the benefit is the Shield of Faith and Jennifer Johnson, who lives with her family in Galva is with the Shield of Faith and she says there will be lots going on during the event on April 1st

Ms. Johnson says details are still being worked out but carry outs will likely be available that day with other entertainment features to also be a part of the day…

It’s not official but the hope right now is that Eddie will be able to return home to Kewanee sometime in mid February and Ms. Johnson adds that if you cannot make the benefit on April 1st, there are other ways to help out…

Any items of donations for the auction can be dropped off at the Insurance Office of Amber Patch-Troxell in Kewanee or at the Boiler Room in downtown Kewanee.

The entire event is being sponsored by the Shield of Faith, The Boiler Room in downtown Kewanee, Reimans Harley Davidson of Kewanee, the Defenders of Freedom and the Warrior Brotherhood.              

Other benefits are also being planned for the near future with details to come on those activities in the next few weeks.  

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Health Dept Info

The month of January is noted as National Radon Awareness Month.

RaeAnn Tucker is the Director of Health Promotions with the Henry and Stark County Health Departments and she says more people have radon in their homes than they might realize…

Ms. Tucker says that if radon levels are high enough, contractors may need to come in to remediate the situation.

But the only way to know if you need treatment or not, is to test levels in an accurate manner…

January is also noted as National Cervical Health Awareness Month…

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Budget progress in Springfield

Earlier this week Gov. Rauner delivered his State of the State address. With a budget deal in Springfield starting to look a little closer to reality, Jak Tichener of the Paul Simon Public Policy institute says Gov. Rauner was a little more conciliatory this year, praising the bipartisan work in the legislature to put together a budget.

The budget proposal, the so called Grand Bargain is a bipartisan effort by Senate leadership and does include some tax increases to close an over six billion dollar annual shortfall.

Jak Tichener of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
The work on budget cuts is still underway, as are some provisions of the Governors ‘TurnAround’ agenda that would revamp workers compensation and limit the influence of unions. The legislature will be back at work in early February and a vote on a new budget could come as early as February seventh, if work progresses as hoped on the budget issues. For more information on budget progress and other state issues, a good site is ‘CapitolFax.com’.
Aj/RFD

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Speaker Madigan looks to cut procurement costs

House Speaker Michael Madigan agrees with Governor Rauner that changes to the state’s procurement process are worth considering. However, he isn't rubber stamping Rauner proposals. He has requested a legislative committee review proposed cost-cutting changes by the Governor. Madigan spokesman Steve Brown...

The proposed changes from Rauner would reduce some of the safeguards added to the procurement process after former Governor Rod Blagojevich was driven from office. Brown says there's room to bend a little....but some safeguards should remain...

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Senate Plan Vote Paused Till February

It’s not a surprise, but it is official. Leaders in the Illinois Senate have decided to hold off on a vote of the grand bargain. The pile of bills that tie a new state budget to tax increases, gambling expansion and a number of other items and reforms still needs time to be baked. Christine Radogno, Illinois Senate Minority Leader says nothing is stopping it’s just a pause to better craft bills for the coming large lift.

The vote on the bills is expected to be the first full week of February.

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State Lags National Trends in Job Creation

Job growth is slow but jobs are being created in Illinois. That’s the takeaway from the latest numbers from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Bob Gough says the jobless rate dropped month to month but the state can’t get to the job creation levels of the rest of county. And inside the state, parts of Illinois are doing better than others.

If you were looking for employment you had the best luck landing a job in transportation, education, health services and government.

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AG Madigan seeks to stop state worker paydays

AFSCME represented state workers have been considering foregoing paychecks with the possibility of a strike on the table. They're no longer the only state workers worried about future paychecks. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan dropped a bombshell Thursday, filing a motion in St. Clair County Court to stop state worker pay until a budget agreement. That motion would dissolve previous court orders allowing the payment of state employees. Springfield based GOP State Representative Tim Butler, whose district has its fair share of state workers, says the move throws a brand new wrench into efforts to craft a compromise budget...

Madigan released a statement.
Like everyone else in this state, I have long hoped that the Legislature and the Governor would pass and enact a budget. Unfortunately, that has not occurred and an order by the St. Clair County Court has removed much of the urgency for the Legislature and the Governor to act on a budget. However, during this long impasse, the Illinois Supreme Court overruled the sole legal basis for the St. Clair County Court’s order to allow state operations to continue without an appropriation. With a new legislative session now underway, this is an appropriate time to ask the Circuit Court to reconsider this order in light of the changes in the law. The Rauner Administration calls the move disappointing, especially with the Senate considering a bipartisan, balancd budget agreement. The administration is urging the Attorney General to reconsider this filing and Ruaner officials pledge to do all they can to defend employee pay.

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Bureau County Road Postings To Be Lifted Temporarily


Please be advised that the County Engineer is lifting road postings on County roads, effective Friday, January 27th, and is anticipated to last through Friday of next week (February 3rd).  We will keep you posted on any possible changes as we get closer to the end of next week.

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Bushels For Hunger Program Update

The Bushels For Hunger program is headed down the home stretch for the 2016 growing season.

Henry County Farm Bureau Manager Katie Laleman says the program has brought in nearly $150,000 in donations over the last several years…  

Proceeds go to the River Bend Foodbank which in turn distributes food to several area entities including the Kewanee Food Pantry…

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Sen Weaver Responds to State of the State Address

The reaction to Governor Bruce Rauner's State of the State Address on Wednesday continue to come in.

State Sen Chuck Weaver of the 37th Congressional District had these thoughts following the Governor's address…

 

 

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Kewanee Police Arrest Alleged Child Predator

On 01/26/17, the Kewanee Police Department Investigations division, with the assistance of the Knox County Sheriff's Department, conducted an operation that lead to the arrest of Randall L. Wilcoxen, 62, of Pekin, IL. Wilcoxen was arrested and transported to the Henry County Jail on preliminary charges of Solicitation to Meet a Child, Traveling to Meet a Minor and Grooming. Solicitation to Meet a Child and Grooming are a Class 4 felony and carry a potential sentence of 1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Traveling to Meet a Minor is a Class 3 Felony and caries a potential sentence of 2-5 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The case will be reviewed by the Henry County State Attorney’s Office to determine formal charges. These are preliminary charges and the suspect is innocent until proven guilty.

 

No additional details being released at this time.

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Illinois Chamber responds to compromise budget efforts in Senate

While the Illinois Senate will wait until at least next month before voting on a grand compromise budget plan, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce is weighing in on what they've seen so far. Chamber President and CEO Todd Maisch (Mysh) .....

Maisch says so far, they agree on the effort to compromise, but differ on methodology and priorities....

Maisch also has concerns about the workers compensation reform bill, saying it falls woefully short of where it needs to be.

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Senate Talks About Adding Casinos

Will the state be able to actually push forward with gambling expansion this time? The Senate started hearings on adding 6 casinos around the state and slot machines at three horse racing tracks. Similar bills have failed in the past and critics say the state is already flooded with places to gamble now that video poker rooms are legal. But Senator Terry Link of Gurnee says people still leave the state to wager.

The new casinos would be in Rockford, Chicago, the south suburbs, Williamson and Lake Counties and Danville. 

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Lang offers Democratic State of State Response

House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang is offering the Democratic side of the story after the State of the State. He says a job creation plan with reduced wages and workplace protections is not the answer to what ails Illinois...

Lang and House Speaker Mike Madigan believe reforms are possible without measures they say would hurt the middle class. Lang also says a growing concern is the state of Illinois colleges and universities and the long term impact of continued cuts....

Lang says the budget stalemate continues to cost taxpayers with the state forced to pay twelve percent interest on its debts.

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Road Closure In Kewanee

Due to a collapsed sewer which will require an emergency repair, Lakeview Avenue is currently closed from East 3rd to Rollins Streets.  Work is expected to begin Friday 1/27/17 for repairs.  It is unknown at this time how long the repair will take, and the street will be closed until further notice.

 

Residents are asked to avoid this area if possible and to take caution if driving near the work zone areas.

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KSD #229 on PTP

 Dist 229 Supt of Schools g the Dr. Chris Sullens talks about diversity during the Jan 26 edition of People to People on WKEI

 

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KPL on Tuned IN

Sara Billiet talks about the Science Book Club

 

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Kewanee Park District Update

Members of the Kewanee Park District Administration attended the Park District Convention last weekend in Chicago.

Brian Johnson is the Director of Parks and Recreation with the Kewanee Park District and he says that lots of great information was picked up at the Convention…

When one thinks of Park District activities and facilities, they often times think of the outdoors, fresh air, perhaps some exercise and in general a fun time.

But unfortunately there are times, when the legal side including lawsuits can creep into the picture.

Johnson says that is a reality but they do their best to maintain a safe environment…

 

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Project Now Receives Federal Funding

 Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) announced $1,334,110 in federal funding for Project NOW, Inc.’s Head Start program. Established in the late-1960s, Project NOW is a Community Action Agency that serves low-income families in the area and strives to help them achieve economic security and self-sufficiency.

The funding will be used to support teachers and staff, transportation, classroom supplies and equipment. Project NOW’s Head Start program serves approximately 330 children across Henry, Mercer and Rock Island Counties.

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Kewanee Planning Commission Meets Tonight

The City of Kewanee’s Planning Commission will meet this evening in Council Chambers at City Hall.

Commission members will conduct one hearing on a petition from Hardeep Bhalla at 150 East South Street Suite J.

That petition requests a special use permit to serve alcohol by the drink.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 o’clock and the meeting is open to the general public.

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Kewanee K of C Donates to Abilities Plus

                                                                      

 Jonathon Bral of Abilities Plus in Kewanee recently accepted checks totaling $3,270 from John Kovach with the Knights of Columbus Santa Maria Council 734 of Kewanee.  The donation comes from the KC’s fall tootsie roll sales. 

Abilities Plus would like to thank the Knights and the Knights would like to thank the local individuals and businesses that supported this fundraising effort.  

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IL State of the State Address

Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State Address on Wednesday afternoon from the Capitol.

Not surprisingly, the Governor called for term limits and a fair map amongst his many offerings…

Mr. Rauner also called for an atmosphere of bipartisan cooperation in Springfield…

State Representative Dan Swanson from the 74th congressional district said the Governor led the way with an optimistic tone during the address…

With lawmakers, particularly House Speaker Mike Madigan entrenched in their positions over the last couple of years, progress has been slow to come.

But Rep Swanson says that right now, a budget proposal in the Illinois Senate might well break the logjam…

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Illinois home sales dip in December, but 2016 housing market ends on a high note

Despite a dip in home sales in December, both sales and median prices finished in positive territory in 2016, closing out a year marked by tight housing inventories and continued strong consumer demand, according to Illinois REALTORS®. 

Statewide home sales (including single-family homes and condominiums) in December 2016 totaled 11,629 homes sold, down 2.8 percent from 11,969 in December 2015. Year-end 2016 home sales totaled 162,380, up 3.9 percent from 156,239 in 2015.

The statewide median price in December was $174,900, up 6.0 percent from December 2015 when the median price was $165,000. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less. The year-end 2016 median price reached $184,000, up 6.4 percent from $173,000 in 2015.

“Home sales numbers likely would have been stronger in 2016 had there simply been enough inventory to satisfy demand,” said Illinois REALTORS® President Doug Carpenter, ABR, AHWD, GRI, SFR of Mokena, managing broker of Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell in Orland Hills. “That said, Illinois home sellers are finding in many cases they can get a premium price and that they are able to sell their homes quickly, a trend we see extending in to 2017.”

The time it took to sell a home in December averaged 66 days, down from 74 days a year ago. Available housing inventory totaled 50,213 homes for sale, a 15.7 percent decline from December 2015 when there were 59,559 homes on the market.

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.20 percent in December 2016, an increase from 3.77 percent the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. In December 2015 it averaged 3.95 percent.

In the nine-county Chicago Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), home sales (single-family and condominiums) in December 2016 totaled 8,132 homes sold, down 3.6 percent from December 2015 sales of 8,438 homes. Year-end 2016 home sales totaled 116,500, up 4.3 percent from 111,700 homes sold in the region in 2015.

The median price in December 2016 was $215,000 in the Chicago PMSA, an increase of 8.3 percent from $198,500 in December 2015. The year-end 2016 median price reached $222,500, up 6.0 percent from $210,000 in 2015.

“Consumers appear to be waiting to see what the new President and Congress plan for the economy,” said Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois. “As a result, it may be several months before there is an appreciable impact on the housing market. Prices and sales are expected to continue experiencing modest gains over the first quarter.”

According to the data, thirty-nine (39) Illinois counties reported sales gains for December 2016 over previous-year numbers, including Kankakee County, up 13.3 percent with 102 units sold; Lake County, up 6.3 percent with 772 units sold; and Rock Island County, up 1.7 percent with 122 units sold. Fifty-six (56) counties showed year-over-year median price increases including Winnebago County, up 18.9 percent to $101,050; Peoria County, up 16.3 percent to $109,900; and Cook County, up 8.2 percent to $216,350.

The city of Chicago saw a 7.0 percent year-over-year home sales decrease in December 2016 with 1,932 sales, down from 2,077 in December 2015. Year-end home sales totaled 28,033, a 1.9 percent increase compared to 27,513 in 2015.

The median price of a home in the city of Chicago in December 2016 was $260,000, up 8.3 percent compared to December 2015 when it was $240,000. The year-end 2016 median price reached $272,000, up 4.2 percent from $261,000 in 2015.    

“The predominant trends that we've witnessed over the past few months continued into the winter break, and the market behaved exactly as we'd expect,” said Matt Silver, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and partner at Urban Real Estate. “The increase in rates coupled with a significant reduction in inventory due to the holidays, are helping to drive prices up as buyers get serious about purchasing a new home. In January, the homes that were pulled off the market for the holidays will return, and the busy season should begin in earnest.”

Sales and price information are generated by Multiple Listing Service closed sales reported by 28 participating Illinois REALTOR® local boards and associations including Midwest Real Estate Data LLC data as of Jan. 9, 2017 for the period Dec. 1 through Dec. 31, 2016. The Chicago PMSA, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes the counties of Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.

Illinois REALTORS® is a voluntary trade association whose more than 44,000 members are engaged in all facets of the real estate industry. In addition to serving the professional needs of its members, Illinois REALTORS® works to protect the rights of private property owners in the state by recommending and promoting legislation to safeguard and advance the interest of real property ownership.

Find Illinois housing stats, data and the University of Illinois REAL forecast at www.illinoisrealtors.org/marketstats.

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Extension webinars feature specialty crops and gardens

Every winter U of I extension conducts a series of free webinars for specialty crop growers in Illinois. Topics range from growing fruits or vegetable for fun or profit, to insect control to marketing your produce, Andy Larson, extension Local Foods and Small Farms educator, conducts the on line webinars.

You do need to register for the live webinars. Contact your local U of I extension office for details. Meanwhile all webinars held since 2012 are available anytime on the Extension service U-Tube channel.

The webinars are designed for all specialty growers, whether a full time operation of a garden hobbyist. 

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Madigan Spokesman Expects SOS to Focus on Rauner Successes

For the third time the Governor will address the legislature and pubic during the State of the State address today at noon. Rauner’s long term battle with Speaker of the House Mike Madigan might be addressed but Spokesperson for Madigan, Steve Brown says that he expects the Governor to review what the administration has accomplished outside of the budget impasse the Governor has presided over. 

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WKEI Open Line

Bacon and longevity are discussed during the Jan 25 edition of the Open LIne on WKEI

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Kewanee City Info

The last couple of Kewanee City Council meetings have been largely absent of any big measure one way or the other.

Mayor Steve Looney acknowledges that fact but also says that one recent accomplishment was the completion of the Enterprise Zone application…

Mayor Looney says that City Manager Gary Bradley along with several others put in a lot of work on the Enterprise Zone application…

Mayor Looney adds that unlike the state, the city will have a budget to work with and he says that effort is already underway…

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Cubs Trophy Coming to Davenport

Fans of the Chicago Cubs will have the opportunity to get up close to the 2016 World Series Trophy as the Cubs Trophy Tour is coming to Davenport.

The tour is headed to the River Music Experience at 129 Main Street in Davenport on Monday, January 30 from noon until 1:30.

The event will be held on the 2nd floor lobby and the Redstone Room and fans will have the opportunity to see and take photos of the World Series Trophy.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts comments by saying that “We’re excited to share our cherished trophy with fans during the offseason as we celebrate such a historic World Series Championship. 

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State of the State Address Today

Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his third State of the State address today.

The Governor will speak to inclusiveness and the hope for both parties in Springfield to work together….

The State of the State Address will be aired live today beginning at 12 noon on Newstalk 1450 WKEI

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January turning out to mild

January started out with some typically cold weather, but quickly turned mild. Jim Angel, State Climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey says with a week to go in the month we are running well above average for both temperature and precipitation.

The next two weeks look to be fairly mild with little precipitation. Once we get into mid-February, Angel says the outlook is a little uncertain.

State Climatologist Jim Angel

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IDOT investigating autonomous vehicles in 2017

Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn and his agency are looking to the future of driving in Illinois and a big part of that future involves vehicles without drivers....

Blankenhorn says driverless vehicles like the ones operated by Google in recent years aren't just an experiment, it's a movement that is gaining traction and he wants Illinois to be ahead of the curve....

Blankenhorn says some freight companies are talking with his agency about future use of autonomous vehicles in the state.

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Help for Low Income Tax Filers

Tax time can be stressful on anyone. It’s especially so if you think you need help in filing your returns but you don’t money to pay for the assistance. So the Department of Human Services is giving low income workers and families access to free help. Meghan Powers says volunteer professionals are ready to help guide people through the process.

Families making less than $55,000 a year and individuals earning less than $30,000 are eligible for the assistance. Last year 29,000 people used the free service. To locate a help center go to DHS dot State dot IL dot gov

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Stay Away From Pot Money in Banks

The medical marijuana business in Illinois is growing. So the need for dispensaries and growing operations to have access to banks and loans is important. However, the Trump Administration may not be ready to protect the industry. State Treasurer Mike Frerichs says he wants the new administration to protect them. Current federal law makes it illegal for banks to process money used in legal marijuana businesses. That forces those businesses to work on a cash only basis. The Obama administration shied away from prosecuting banks who dealt with companies and now Frerichs wants Trump to do the same.

Millions of dollars floating are around medical pot in Illinois. Retail sales are closing in on $40 million since starting the program in late 2015. 

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Mayor Looney on PTP

Mayor Steve Looney talks about city projects during the Jan 24 edition of People to People on WKEI

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WKEI Open Line

Drinking engine cleaning fluid is discussed during the January 24 edition of the Open LIne on WKEI

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IL Film Industry Increases Revenue

The Illinois FILM Office today announced that Illinois’ film industry generated $499 million in estimated Illinois spending, a 51 percent increase over the same period last year. This adds to the 18 percent increase that was seen in 2015. The office worked with 345 television, commercial and film projects that generated 13,377 non-extra job hires over the course of 2016.

 

In addition, Chicago, Illinois was just named the #5 best place to live and work as a moviemaker in North America by MovieMaker Magazine. This is the third year in a row that Chicago has made the top-ten list.

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Sewer Repair in Kewanee on Tuesday

Work is scheduled to begin Tuesday 1/24/17 for a sewer repair on Green Street.  Laverdiere Construction will begin work in the middle of the block near the cul-de-sac on the N side of Green Street.  This area will be closed to through traffic to East Street, with access remaining open on the Edwards Street side. 

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City Council Meeting

Kewanee City Council met on Monday night and during the presentation of bills and claims, Councilwoman Deann Schweitzer questioned City Manager Gary Bradley and City Clerk Melinda Edwards for the better part of ten minutes over a variety of expenses that at times seemed to have vague explanations.

Ultimately, everything seemed to be in order and the meeting proceeded from there.

Council approved the appointment of Catherine Hughes to the City’s Planning Commission.

Council also faced three ordinances that in were brought to the Council by Dr. Chris Sullens and Kewanee School District 229.

Council voted to amend the City Code relative to Handicapped Parking Spaces on Central Boulevard in front of Central and Irving Elementary Schools. In both cases, an additional handicapped parking space will be added in front of each school.

Council also voted to limit parking in front of both schools on Central Blvd to one hour.

Council also approved an ordinance that establishes no parking on the East side of the 200 block of South Elm Street.

All measures to that point were approved on a 5-0 vote.

Council also passed an ordinance that establishes no parking on the west side of the 100 block of Payson Street. That vote went 4-1 in favor with Ms. Schweitzer voting no.

Council also held an abbreviated discussion on Monday night addressing economic and community development incentives. City Manager Gary Bradley had e-mailed various proposals to Council members late Monday afternoon and Ms. Schweitzer stated that she had not received hers and felt there was no point in addressing the issue since adequate time had not been allowed in order to review the information. Mr. Bradley insisted on moving forward with the presentation but was later pressed by Ms. Schweitzer over the fact she had not receive the materials. Councilman Mike Yaklich then weighed in advising Ms. Schweitzer to just listen to the presentation. But at point, the wind was out of the sails and Council will have to re-visit this issue in the future.

The pace of the meeting Monday night was less that grounded at times with an uneven flow to proceedings.  

Council did wrap up by proclaiming today as Rotary Day in Kewanee commemoration 100 years of service to the community by the Kewanee Rotary Club.              

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Durbin Warns of ACA Repeal

If President Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington D.C. move forward with their pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act US Senator Dick Durbin wants them to know that trouble may lie ahead. Today the senior senator from Illinois says making widespread changes but still keeping what most people feel are positive aspects of the law will be difficult.

Durbin says if Republicans move ahead with plans to scrap the ACA they could put 95,000 jobs on the line in Illinois.

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Illinois Democrats open door to input on Gubernatorial candidates

Since Senator Dick Durbin opted not to join the 2018 Governor's race, it's been a muddled picture as far as who will seek the Democratic nomination and who could be a viable opponent to Bruce Rauner. The Illinois Democratic County Chairman’s Association has launched an online gubernatorial straw poll of its members and Democrats who join the organization online. Association President Doug House notes with Governor Rauner recently putting $50 million of his money into his re-election campaign fund, Democrats don't have the luxury of waiting...

House offers details for those who want to weigh in on their favored candidates...

The straw poll will run until midnight on January 29th. . IDCCA intends to conduct several more polls to continue drawing attention to the Democratic primary race for Governor.

The candidates included in the first straw poll are (in alphabetical order):

* State Senator Daniel Biss
* Congresswoman Cheri Bustos
* Congresswoman Robin Kelly
* Chris Kennedy
* State Senator Andy Manar
* Alderman Ameya Pawar
* J.B. Pritzker
* State Senator Kwame Raoul
* Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers

Voting link https://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07edqhemzkiy8ustps/start

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Governor Gives State of State This Week

This week the Governor will deliver his state of the state address. This Wednesday Bruce Rauner will stand in front of the legislature and address future goals of his administration.

Rauner also has a pending budget address where he has the opportunity to speak to specific spending issues.

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SOS Mailings May Have Ads

Secretary of State Jesse White wants to offset the cost of sending out license plate renewal reminders. He is calling for legislation that would allow advertisements to be printed on those reminders. In 2015, the office suspended mailing the renewal notices because of the state budget stalemate. 

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Henry County Health Dept on PTP

RaeAnn Tucker discusses National Radon Awareness month during the Jan 23 edition of People to People on WKEI

 

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OSF on Tuned IN

Carrie Boelens and Brooke Charlet talk about Swing Bed Services during the Jan 23 edition of Tuned IN on WKEI

 

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Goodfellows Wrap Up

The Holiday Season always comes and goes too quickly and of course that was the case once again this last December.

But one of the Holiday traditions went very well and that was the Goodfellow’s Christmas Basket distribution through the Kewanee and Wethersfield High School Key Clubs and the Kewanee Kiwanis Club amongst many other organizations.

KHS Key Club Adviser Amron Buchanan says that overall, the distribution went very well…

The project was wrapped up in basically two and a half hours which means the group has gotten things down to a science…

Just about all of the addresses were correct this year which helped to make things run smoothly….

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Illinois Receives Waiver

The Federal Administration for Children, Youth, and Families has granted Illinois a waiver of restrictions on federal foster-care funds to let the Illinois Department of Children and Families address family problems without having to remove children from their homes and putting them in foster care.

 

The waiver is known as a IV-E waiver after the section of law that provides federal support for foster care. Because Illinois has longer average stays in foster care and because of the long-term costs for children in foster care, the flexibility is likely to produce long-term savings for the state.

 

Illinois has had a waiver for specific programs in Cook County, but the new waiver extends the program statewide. The waiver expires is 2019. Under current Federal Law, it cannot be renewed. After that, federal funds would again be limited to supporting only children actually in foster care.

 

Illinois received $192 million in Federal foster-care funds in fiscal 2016. The Administration on Children, Youth and Families is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In December, the Administration for Children, Youth and Families also awarded DCFS federal planning dollars to begin the development of a new statewide child welfare technology system. The Request for Proposals to implement that project will go out later this month.

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IRS Tax Info

The Internal Revenue Service is once again reminding those taxpayers that claim the Earned Income Credit or the additional Child Tax Credit that those returns will not be available this year as early as in past years.

Michael Devine with the IRS office in St Louis says the idea behind the new plan is to eliminate tax fraud by the criminals as much as possible…

Devine stresses that as a result, those taxpayers waiting for those returns will likely have to wait until just about March 1st to get their refund checks…

Devine also urges taxpayers to go ahead and file their returns just like they normally would…

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Bustos at Inauguration Today

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos is in Washington D.C. today for the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Ms. Bustos says she plans to stand with Presidents Obama and Clinton, Secretary Clinton and other Democratic leaders.

The Congresswoman also plans to be in Chicago on Saturday for a Woman’s March where she will be joined by thousands of other Illinoisans in an attempt to send a message to the new President that many people will be watching him and holding him accountable.    

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Corn Growers still working to open Cuban market

The Illinois Corn Growers Assoc. recently conducted a Market Study Tour of Cuba. This trip was a follow-up to an ICG tour conducted about 18 months ago. Champaign county farmer and ICG board member Dirk Rice participated in both tours and says this one helped show the Cubans that Illinois farmers are serious about doing business with the island nation.

Right now Cuba sources most of their corn and soybean imports from South America, and rice comes halfway around the world from Vietnam. The U.S. could supply higher quality grain at much lower prices due to transportation advantages, but despite opening the Cuban market to travel, trade restrictions, including the granting of credit remain in place. Rice says that sharply limits the ability of American farmers to sell into the Cuban market, even though the Cubans want to trade with the U.S..

Dirk Rice of the Illinois Corn Growers. Rice says going forward farmers hope the Trump administration will continue to open the Cuban market. Relaxing trade restrictions is key to opening up a billion dollar market.

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Changes For Employer Tax Filings

Tax time is coming up and employers have changes to keep up with. This year they will have to file withholding returns on a quarterly basis and not an annual one says Department of Revenue’s Terry Horstman. The changes are to better combat fraud and increase accuracy.

The Department of Revenue announced that personal filings will be taken starting on Monday (January 23)

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Duckworth pins down Trump nominee for federal EPA administrator

With a seat on the U-S Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, U-S Senator Tammy Duckworth peppered President-elect Trump's nominee to head the federal E-P-A with questions about his resolve to uphold the federal renewable fuels standard. Duckworth says she's not convinced Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will do so;

The so-called R-F-S requires certain percentages of fuel to be blended with ethanol made mostly from corn and diesel with biodiesel made largely from soybean oil. On the controversial E-P-A waters of the U-S rule, Pruitt gained some praise from committee members for opposing what some say regulates ditches and ponds;

Pruitt vowed to restore what he called "...a rule of law mentality" at the federal agency if he's confirmed.

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Compromise In IL Senate May Go Nowhere

Is the grand compromise dead? The combined effort of the Illinois Senate Democrats and Republicans was cooled off Wednesday by Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration. His office of Management and Budget estimated that the Senate spending plan and tax hike would leave the state $4.3 billion short. Rauner was quick to sidestep any direct comment on the findings, preferring to take the stance that he’s staying out of the negations.

The Senate still has to have their compromise bills to that need to be heard in committee. They say that will take all the analysis and review it to see if changes need to be made.

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IRS on PTP

IRS agent Michael Devine talks about the filing season during the Jan 19 edition of People to People on WKEI

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KHS Key Club on Tuned IN

KHS Key Club Adviser Amron Buchanan wraps up the December Goodfellow's Basket distribution during the Jan 19 edition of Tuned IN on WKEI

 

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Kewanee Park District Info

The Kewanee Park District wrapped up several of their plans for the renovations at Northeast Park last year.

Park District Director of Parks and Recreation Brian Johnson says there is still a little bit of fine tuning that needs to be done…

Johnson notes that the skate park and other features have already been a big hit with the thought those will be getting used in a major way this year…

While it might be difficult right now to imagine sitting outdoors at a picnic or family gathering, the Park District shelter houses and pagodas are already being booked for this year…

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Rauner Will Not Attend Inauguration

IL Governor Bruce Rauner will not be at the inauguration of President Elect Donald Trump on Friday.

Gov Rauner says its’ not a problem for him or the state that he won’t be going and that existing relationships inside the Trump administration will benefit the state.

Rauner also says he’d like to see the federal government relax regulations, invest in public infrastructure and wants to see reforms to the affordable care act.

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Farm prices may be stronger in 2017

On Tuesday we saw a run up in commodity prices, especially in soybeans. This time of year news out of South America often drives bean prices, and Jim Bower of Bower trading says heavy rains, and flooding, in soybean growing areas did help drive the markets higher.

But flooding in South America is only part of the story… Bower says 2017 may bring increased volatility and perhaps increased prices as the stock market seems to have topped out, interest rates remain low, and economic growth lingers at around 2%. Recognizing that demand remains strong and we can’t assume a repeat of excellent growing conditions in 2017, commodities have the potential for price gains this year, and that’s starting to attract a lot of investment money.

While we could have another bumper crop that puts a lid on prices, the big investment funds are starting see more upside potential than downside risk and an inflow of funds can push prices higher.

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Subs Hard to Find For Schools

Schools in the state run low daily finding substitute teachers and a small step made by the Rauner administration may help ease the shortage.

A study by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools says there are 16,000 teacher absences a week and 20 percent of those openings are hard to fill. A new state law has dropped the fee to be a registered substitute by $50 but some Regional Superintendents say the remaining $150 may still be too high and other steps need to be taken to boost sub numbers

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Lincoln Bible Used For Oath of Office

A nod to the history of Illinois will be given on Friday at the inauguration of Donald Trump. It was announced that he will use a bible tied to Abraham Lincoln as he takes the oath of office. Trump will use both a Lincoln bible and a personal one. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts will do the swearing in

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Rauner Stands Behind Not Going to Inauguration

Friday the Governor will not be at the inauguration. Bruce Rauner says its’ not a problem for him or the state that he won’t be going and that existing relationships inside the Trump administration will benefit the state.

Rauner says he’d like to see the federal government relax regulations, invest in public infrastructure and wants to see reforms to the affordable care act.

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Tuesday House Fire in Galva

The Galva and Bishop Hill Fire Departments were called out at approximately 5:15 Tuesday afternoon to battle a house fire at 419 SE 3rd Avenue in Galva.

Galva Fire Chief Denny Tarleton reports that the fire appears to have originated in an upstairs bedroom where the residents noted that there were some electrical problems.

As fire crews arrived on the scene, they had to originally get past a kitchen area on the first floor that had already become engulfed in flames.

Chief Tarleton said it was a bit of a struggle for a while to get the fire under control but crews were ultimately able to make progress on the fire.

The home was occupied by three men in their mid-20’s who were able to escape without injury although one of the men was taken to an area hospital to be treated for what was essentially an anxiety attack.

Chief Tarleton noted that the structure suffered significant damage from the fire and also from water and smoke throughout the building.

Chief Tarleton also noted that this fire, like many other fires in today’s world seem to move very quickly and the men were able to just barely get out with only a few possessions and they were not allowed to go back in.

The American Red Cross was called in to provide assistance and the men reportedly are staying with relatives in Galva.     

Fire crews were on the scene til about 10 o’clock Tuesday night and Chief Tarleton reports that in addition to no injuries to the residents, there were no injuries to the firefighters.   

The fire remains under investigation with investigators expected to do their work on Thursday. 

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Bishop Hill Celebrates 2nd Annual Burns Supper

 

 

A Robbie Burns Supper is a flavorful immersion in a 200 year old Scottish tradition with bagpipes, song and delicious haggis. The Filling Station in Bishop Hill will serve roast beef, mashed potatoes & neeps, peas, and sticky toffee pudding (it’s really a cake with yummy brown sugar and butter sauce!) on Wednesday, January 25th with seatings at 5:00 and 6:30. The meal, with entertainment, costs just $15 and is half-price if you wear a kilt. Reservations are highly encouraged, so please call 309-927-3355.

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Blood Donor Month

The month of January is noted as National Blood Donor Month in an effort to bring awareness to that overlooked procedure.

Chris Downs is the Lab Director at OSF St Luke Medical Center in Kewanee and she says transfusions are a critical aspect in overall health care…

Ms. Downs says if you have never donated blood before, don’t worry, it’s really a fairly easy process…

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Cardinals vs Cubs

The Cubs are the reigning world champions but the St. Louis Cardinals still have far more titles than the north siders. However the win in November has changed things. Cardinal’s broadcaster and former pitcher Al Hrabosky says that when both teams are good the rivalry between the two is even better.

CARDSCUBS

The Cardinals and Cubs open the regular season against each other on Sunday April 2.

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Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have been celebrating their World Series win for the past few months and they may have completed their tour with a stop at the White House. President Barack Obama welcomed the team to D.C. today. The President, a White Sox fan, had the team, coaches and front office staff filled the East Room. Obama noted how he’s not a true fan of the team but his wife is…

CUBSWHITEHOUSE

The President was presented with what he called the best swag yet. A 44 from the Wrigley Scoreboard, a life-long all access pass to the park and a 44 jersey that he said would be difficult to put on.


The President, a White Sox fan, had the team, coaches and front office staff filled the East Room. Obama took having the other Chicago team win a title while he was President in stride.

CUBSWHITEHOUSE2

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Border action precedes immigration reform

An official with a group the founders of Facebook and Microsoft created to push for immigration reform says it won't happen without some sort of action by the new Congress and President to secure the border with Mexico. Mark Delich (DEL-itch) believes, real or perceived, something will need to happen;

DEL-itch spoke at the recent American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Phoenix and told a packed audience that some farmers might not see any relief soon in finding foreign, temporary workers. Many industries such as agriculture rely on temporary workers for jobs native-born Americans just don't want to do, like detassling corn or picking fruits and vegetables;

DEL-itch, with the group F-W-D-dot-U-S, says the United States already spends $20 billion dollars a year for border security. He envisions the use of more drones and remote sensing as at least two ways border security might increase.

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Sen Weaver Sounds Off

State Senator Chuck Weaver of Illinois’ 37th District recently sounded off on several issues facing Illinois citizens and Illinois lawmakers.

Sen Weaver says there are several new laws that took effect on January 1st

Sen Weaver also notes a new law that hopefully will make it easier in some cases for victims to testify in court…

Synthetic drugs remain a problem in Illinois, particularly bath salts and Sen Weaver says he has also addressed that issue…

Sen Weaver says he would like to be but is not overly optimistic about the 2017 Spring Legislative session…

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Upcoming Farm Bureau Programs

The Henry County Farm Bureau has a couple of informative programs on the upcoming schedule.

Farm Bureau Manager Katie Laleman says an On the Road Seminar is set for Tuesday, February 7th in Annawan…

The Farm Bureau will also host a freezer meal program that offer families some interesting choices for their meal plans…

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Health Dept Offers DOT Physicals

The Henry and Stark County Health Department staff reminding area residents that their Clinical Services program is offering area drivers low cost DOT Physicals.

The Health Dept notes that the Department of Transportation requires some drivers to get regular physicals to make sure they can drive safety.

Appointments are necessary and can be made by contacting the Henry County Health Dept in the Kewanee office at 852-5272   

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Landowner conf in Bloomington Th-Fr

With increased attention on nitrogen and phosphorus loss from farmland, often through field tiles, the upcoming Illinois Association of Drainage Districts annual meeting takes on increased relevance to land owners. This year meeting is this Thursday and Friday, January 19th and 20th.
Dick Lyons of the Assoc of Drainage Districts, says the emphasis this year will be on the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

The conference is designed for all landowners who are in a drainage district.

Dick Lyons. You do not need to pre-register, walk ins are welcome. The conference, again, is this Thursday and Friday, Jan 19th and 20th . The program begin at noon of Thursday and runs all day Friday with a packed agenda. For more information go to WWW.IADD.info. The conference will be at the Doubletree Hotel and Conference center in Bloomington.

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Honor MLK with Service on Monday

A day off for many shouldn’t be a day of rest says the head of a group that wants Illinoisans out serving their state. Scott McFarland, the Executive Director of Serve Illinois says there is no better way to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King.

Get out and look around today for a place to volunteer or plan ahead for the next time by going to serve dot Illinois dot gov.

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The Book on 2016, Warmer than Normal

Close the book on 2016 as one of the warmest years on record. State Climatologist Jim Angel says that the past year was the fifth warmest on record. Overall it was about 2 and half degrees warmer than normal. Some of that warmth was due to El Nino and a warm run in the middle of winter.

A wet few months in the late summer was got the state to just below normal when it came to precipitation.

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WKEI Open Line

Traditions from the past are discussed during the Jan 16 edition of the Open Line on WKEI

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OSF on Tuned IN

Blood donor month is discussed during the Jan 16 edition of Tuned IN on WKEI

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KPL Programs

Kewanee Public Library will host a craft program on Wednesday at the Library.

KPL Children’s Librarian Sara Billiet says it should be a fun event…

The library will also host a Family Night next Monday, January 23rd

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Senior Center Info

The Henry County Senior Citizen Center in Kewanee is sponsoring a trip to Georgia in March.

Senior Center Director Cassandra Schmoll says they are looking forward to visiting some warmer climates…

Ms. Schmoll adds that some folks may have already headed to those warmer climates as attendance at the Tuesday evening dinners are down just a little bit…

Taking a look back to the December 20th Christmas meal, Ms. Schmoll says they had a great turnout that evening…

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Truck show coming to Peoria

The Annual Midwest Truck and Trailer Show is coming to the Peoria civil center on Feb 3rd and 4th. Along with the latest in new equipment and technology, Don Schaefer of the Midwest Truckers Assoc. says there will be a number of seminars dealing with regulatory and infrastructure issues coming with the new Trump administration.

Admission to the Truck and Trailer show is free.

One of the largest truck and trailer shows in the nation, the Peoria show at the Civic Center on Feb 3 and 4 draws people form about twenty states. 

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Davis Optimistic Trump Will Makes Changes to EPA, Energy Policy

Congressman Rodney Davis has long been critical of the Environmental Protection Agency's overreach in the last eight years and believes things could change under Donald Trump. Congressman Davis says the EPA has wanted to push an agenda in recent years and has hindered America's progress in hinders the country's ability to be competitive.

In 2017, Congressman Davis hopes to address clean energy policies in America. He says nuclear energy has to be a part of the policy as it is one of the cleanest forms of energy available.

Congressman Davis says he will be making his way throughout the area this year to talk with farmers about ag policy and product shipments as a
new farm bill deadline looms.

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Durbin and Graham team up in bid to protect young people from deportation

Senator Dick Durbin has reached across the aisle for an ally in his effort to protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children from deportation.....

Durbin fears the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could be discontinued under the Trump Administration. The BRIDGE Act would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to undocumented youth. Durbin hopes a conversation starts soon on the greater issue...

Companion legislation has been filed in the US House with Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez as a co-sponsor.

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WKEI Open Line

Weekend weather and Friday the 13th are discussed

 

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KPL Open On MLK Day

Kewanee Public Library will be open on Monday for Martin Luther King Day.

KPL Children’s Librarian Sara Billiet says they will be open on their normal schedule…

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Extension Programs

The University of Illinois Extension has several programs for the public on the upcoming schedule.

Extension Horticulture Educator Martha Smith says a mid-winter horticulture workshop will be held in Geneseo on January 28th

The Extension Service will also offer a four seasons winter webinar series that will cover several different topics…

Ms. Smith adds that tickets are going fast for the annual March trip to Chicago…

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MLK Holiday Schedule

Martin Luther King Day will be celebrated on Monday and that will create some schedule changes along the way.  

City Hall and the Transfer Station will be closed on Monday however there will be no change in the garbage pick- up schedule in Kewanee for next week.

The United States Post Office will be closed on Monday, and most banks will be closed on Monday, January 16th but some banks may have different schedules and best to check with your financial institution to get their particular schedule.

The Henry County Court system and other county offices will also be closed for the day on Monday.

Secretary of State Division of Motor Vehicles in Kewanee will be closed tomorrow on Saturday, January 14th.  As a reminder, Kewanee DMV is always closed on Monday and will re-open on Tuesday, January 17th.       

Students in the Kewanee and Wethersfield school districts will be off on Monday and most area schools including Black Hawk College facilities will also be closed on Monday. Schools will be back in session next Tuesday and at Black Hawk College, Spring 2017 college credit classes will also begin next Tuesday.      

Henry and Stark County Health Department offices will be closed on Monday, January 16th with homemaker staff still working where necessary to provide in home care.

To note, The Henry County Senior Citizen Center in Kewanee will be open for the day on Monday, January 16.

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Gas Leak Ruled The Cause of Wednesday Fire in Kewanee


The Wednesday afternoon fire that destroyed the home of Edd Bickers at 814 May Street  appears to have been a natural gas explosion, according to Capt. Landon Horrie of the Kewanee fire department.

Capt. Horrie said it appears there was a leak from “some sort of appliances” inside the home.

Firefighters were called in at 4:30 Wednesday afternoon and arriving firefighters found the home fully engulfed with some ”big fireballs."

Mr. Bickers' son has reported that his father is being treated at a Springfield hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

“He's a lucky person, if you see the condition of the house,” said Capt. Horrie.

Capt. Horrie said Wednesday's fire was fed by a gas line that had to be shut off by Ameren 60 to 90 minutes into the response.

Fire crews remained on the scene until 10-10:15 p.m. Wednesday and the fire remains under investigation. 

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Keeping rural-urban coalition on food policy together

Illinois farmers argued successfully before the nation's largest farm organization to keep federal nutrition programs together with risk management and conservation programs for farmers. Some 80-percent of the U-S Department of Agriculture's budget goes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as "SNAP," or food stamps, while only 20 percent is used for crop insurance, conservation and other programs to help farmers. Altona farmer David Erickson, who serves as vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, argued to keep the programs together at the American Farm Bureau Federation's convention this week in Phoenix;

The federal nutrition and farm program comes up for renewal next year. Illinois farmers such as Jeff Kirwan of New Windsor, who also served as a voting delegate to the national farm group's annual meeting, explained the need for both;

The Illinoisans' argument proved successful, as farmers from other states agreed on the need for the rural-urban coalition on a new federal farm bill to continue.

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ISP on PTP

State Police Trooper Jason Wilson talks about winter driving during the Jan 12 edition of People to People on WKEI

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WKEI Open Line

Snowstorms are discussed during the Jan 12 edition of the Open LIne on WKEI

 

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Kewanee Public Library on Tuned IN

Sara Billiet talks about upcoming programs during the Jan 12 edition of Tuned IN on WKEI

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Kewanee C of C Seeks Nominations

The Kewanee Chamber of Commerce is once again looking for nominations for the 42nd annual Outstanding Citizen Award.

Mark Mikenas is the Executive Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and he says the nomination deadline is Friday, February 24th

The Chamber will also be presenting another Comedy Show in the month of March.

Mark says it will be similar in tone to last year’s event…

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Frerichs to Introduce Legislation

 Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs will propose new legislation today to strengthen the life insurance law that went into effect this month. The proposal represents the next logical step to bring common sense change to the life insurance industry because some companies have not paid death benefits when they knew or should have known a customer died. The unpaid benefits are baked into the profit plans, some insurers acknowledge.

 

 

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Explosion and House Fire in Kewanee

The Kewanee Fire Dept, the Kewanee Police Dept and EMS were called out on Wednesday evening responding to an explosion and house fire that occurred in the 800 block of May Street.

The residence is the home of Edd Bickers of Kewanee who was taken to OSF St Luke Medical Center in Kewanee. Witnesses reported seeing Mr. Bickers staggering out of the home with undetermined amounts of burns on his body.

Officials with OSF St Luke report that Mr. Bickers was transferred to an area hospital in stable condition.  

Witnesses also said the explosion could be felt several houses away.

Workers with Ameren IL were called in to help with the gas shutoff and other details.

The matter remains under investigation with the State Fire Marshals Office likely to be called in to help with that investigation. 

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Hy-Vee Partners With Actor and Producer Mark Wahlberg to Raise Money for Heroes

On Monday, Hy-Vee, Inc. rolled out the red carpet to honor first responders, veterans and military members for a private screening of the new film, “Patriots Day.” Hy-Vee partnered with actor and producer Mark Wahlberg to show the movie to local heroes as part of a fundraiser for the company’s Hy-Vee Homefront initiative.

The movie, which is drawn from real-life accounts of the Boston Marathon bombing and details the response of first responders, the law enforcement investigative team and government officials involved with the tragedy, drew more than 800 attendees to the supermarket chain’s Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Prior to the start of the movie, Wahlberg met privately with the families of two fallen Iowa police officers, Des Moines Police Sgt. Tony Beminio and Urbandale Police Officer Justin Martin. Both were ambushed and killed in the line of duty on Nov. 2.

“I had a unique opportunity to come to Des Moines to launch my nutrition products with Hy-Vee but we also lost two police officers here,” Wahlberg said. “This movie is a tribute to law enforcement and anyone dedicated to serving their community and country so we thought it was a great way to pay our respects and honor law enforcement here.”

Following the movie, Wahlberg provided comments about the making of the film and his life growing up in Boston.

“The film’s message of love continuing to be victorious and people coming together and inspiring people to stand up for what is right, that's very important and it needs to be seen and heard by everybody," Wahlberg said.

All of the funds raised from the Jan. 9 event will benefit four organizations that honor heroes, including those that serve our nation’s military members, veterans and their families and those that honor our nation’s first responders. These include the American Red Cross, Hope for the Warriors, Operation First Response and the Puppy Jake Foundation. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters and supports military members and their families. Hope for the Warriors is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families and the families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty. Operation First Response helps meet the immediate personal and financial needs of wounded military members and their families. And, the Puppy Jake Foundation raises, trains and provides service dogs to veterans.

When discussing Wahlberg’s presence to raise money for the Hy-Vee Homefront initiative, Hy-Vee Chairman, CEO and President Randy Edeker stated, “It was Mark’s idea and his decision to come here and hold the event. We think it was a great way to bring us together and do some good.”

Created in 2013, the initiative recognizes and assists heroes and their families through several company efforts, which include serving more than 90,000 complimentary breakfasts to veterans and military members at Hy-Vee stores on Veterans Day, organizing and funding Honor Flights for veterans to Washington, D.C., and veteran and military member employee recruitment.

In addition, Hy-Vee encourages its customers to help raise funds for Hy-Vee Homefront through the Round Up for the Homefront program every November. Customers at all 242 Hy-Vee stores across eight Midwestern states are encouraged to round up their purchases to the next dollar — or a desired dollar amount — at the checkout to help programs that assist veterans. In 2016, the effort raised $286,993, which includes Hy-Vee’s $100,000 match. Since the program started, more than $1.1 million has been raised.

Hy-Vee’s relationship with Wahlberg began several months ago when Hy-Vee became the exclusive grocer to carry his new sports nutrition line, Performance Inspired. The product line launches in March at Hy-Vee stores across the company’s eight-state region. Prior to the Jan. 9 movie screening, Wahlberg toured a Hy-Vee store in Waukee, Iowa, to meet with customers and preview his product line.

“With Hy-Vee’s focus on health and wellness, it was a natural fit for them to be the exclusive grocer in the Midwest to carry my new sports nutrition products,” Wahlberg said. “And it doesn’t stop there. More great things are on the horizon with our partnership.”

For more information about the Hy-Vee Homefront initiative, the organizations benefited and how to get involved, visit www.hy-vee.com/homefront.

Attached are photos of Wahlberg’s tour of the Waukee Hy-Vee. To download and view video from the tour, visit http://motionrefinery.com/clients/Hy-Vee/MarkWahlberg-StoreTour/.

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Peoria stockyard closing impacts producers

With the recent closing of the Peoria Union Stockyards, livestock producers lost the last major open outcry auction of livestock in Illinois. While most hogs and cattle these days are sold by contracting directly to packers, livestock producers like Brian Duncan of Ogle county could use the sale prices at Peoria to determine if they were getting a fait market price for their animals.

Today, Duncan markets up to 70 thousand hogs a year. He is paid by the processor by what is called ‘formula pricing’. The price is set by what the packers have to pay other producers for their hogs. Duncan says these prices are reported, but without the open outcry markets like Peoria, where supply and demand determined prices, livestock producers often wonder if they are getting fair compensation for their animals.

While Duncan says raising hogs can still be profitable, barring disease outbreak or other production problems, todays lack of marketing opportunities through stockyards like Peoria can make is difficult for small, startup operations to get into the livestock production business.

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WKEI Open Line

A local woman suffering from cancer seeks the public's help during the Jan 11 edition of the Open Line on WKEI

 

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HCFB on Tuned IN

Upcoming Farm Bureau events are discussed during the January 11 edition of Tuned IN on WKEI

 

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Latest Gas Prices

The U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline rose to $2.39 a gallon Monday. That figure is up 1.1 cents from a week ago based on the weekly price survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The latest figures in Kewanee also indicate an average price of $2.39 per gallon of regular unleaded. 

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Winter Driving Concerns

Area forecasters are calling for the possibility of a weekend storm that may produce a variety of winter weather featuring snow, sleet, freezing rain and even rain.

It should be emphasized that right now forecaster are saying they don’t know exactly where the storms will track but it may well be in a neighborhood close by or not too far away.

Needless to say but those conditions would make it very difficult for travellers.

Safety Expert Doug Sommer from Pekin says preparation is the key…

The answer of course is that some drivers are prepared but many others are not…

Sommer adds that if the weather does turn bad and one must be out on the road, anticipating possible developments is a key…

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IL State Budget?

While all the political attention has been focused on Washington this week, the Illinois General assembly wrapped up a two day lame duck session, and the new legislative session begins today.

In the lame duck session, the two senate leaders floated a proposed budget bill. Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau’s director of state legislation says the bill was kind of a trial balloon for an actual budget bill.


Meanwhile any budget bill needs to be signed by the Governor, and Semlow says that will only happen if the bill includes key provisions of Gov. Rauner’s ’Turn Around Agenda’.


 

 

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Young Illinois farm family wins national achievement award

Illinois does have many things to be proud of, and yes, a national organization agrees. The American Farm Bureau Federation honored Illinois farmers Grant and Kristen Strom with the group's young farmer program achievement award. Grant Strom describes the family farm in Knox County;

Strom's wife Kristen grew up in suburban Chicago, but she's now an active partner on the farm and in the community. The farm couple have three young children;

The Illinois farm family beat out competitors from 28 other states to win the young farmer achievement award at the national Farm Bureau organization's convention taking place this week in Phoenix.

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Young Illinois farm family wins national achievement award

Illinois does have many things to be proud of, and yes, a national organization agrees. The American Farm Bureau Federation honored Illinois farmers Grant and Kristen Strom with the group's young farmer program achievement award. Grant Strom describes the family farm in Knox County;

Strom's wife Kristen grew up in suburban Chicago, but she's now an active partner on the farm and in the community. The farm couple have three young children;

The Illinois farm family beat out competitors from 28 other states to win the young farmer achievement award at the national Farm Bureau organization's convention taking place this week in Phoenix.

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WKEI Open Line

Presidents are discussed during the Jan 10 edition of the Open LIne on WKEI

 

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Hog Fest Committee Meets Tonight

The Hog Festival Committee will meet this evening beginning at 7 o’clock at the Hog Building at 306 North Main Street.

The preliminary agenda includes the acceptance of and placing on file the secretary’s report and also the pending audit of the November and December Treasurers Reports.

The committee will also review by full committee the fiscal year 2016 Hog Capital BBQ annual audit.

Old business will include the roof replacement update, the front door overhang and front of the building sign, also the setting of a date for a meeting for food concessions and the flea market and craft show and a general conversation about things that need to be done this year.

New business will include the entertainment report and the committee will also set the budget for the 2017 Hog Days celebration.

Again that meeting begins tonight at 7 and as always, the public is invited to attend any and all Hog Festival Committee meetings.      

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OSF Info

OSF St Luke Medical Center in Kewanee will host a free heart health seminar in February.

St Luke Community Relations Specialist Carrie Boelens says it’s not too early to put that item down on your schedule…

Ms. Boelens adds that the hospital can help people out with their Valentine’s gifts…

 

 

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Grand Compromise Possible

Is there really a grand bargain in the works for a state budget? Senate leaders seem to have been give the rope to negotiate on number of items outside of state spending and may just have a number of bills to bring to a vote. Details are still sketchy but it appears that compromise between Senate Dem’s and Republicans might be found on spending, taxing, pension reform, gambling expansion and even workers compensation. Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s hearing of progress.

The lame duck session at the Illinois Capitol begins on Monday.

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Workers Comp and Property Tax Freeze Part of Rumored Compromise

Can the state really be close to ending a two year stalemate on a budget and other issues sounding state government? This weekend details of a grand bargain started leaking out of the Illinois Senate. They include possible work abounds’ on tax increases, a short term property tax freeze and even changes to workers compensation. Governor Bruce Rauner has been pressing for some of those as part of his turn around agenda. For now he says its wait and see.

The lame duck session at the Illinois Capitol begins on Monday.

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LaHood weighs in on Obamacare repeal talk

As talk of repealing Obamacare intensifies in Washington, Congressman Darin LaHood is offering his thoughts. The Peoria Republican has little doubt the Affordable Care Act will soon get the boot by the US House......

LaHood says simply repealing Obamacare won't address America's health care concerns....

LaHood has begun his first full term in office.

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IRS Info

The Internal Revenue Service is announcing a new policy this year relative to employers filing tax information of their employees.

Michael Devine is an IRS agent working in the St Louis office…

Devine adds that the updated info filing will hopefully cut down on some fraud that scam artists have gotten away with over the last few years…     

Devine adds that unfortunately, it’s the people who need the money the most as quickly as possible that will be hurt by this new policy…

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WKEI Open Line

Donald Trump and the Russians are discussed

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OSF on Tuned IN

Carrie Boelens discusses upcoming events

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GED Classes Begin Wednesday

GED preparation classes at the Black Hawk College Community Education Center in downtown Kewanee will get underway Wednesday, Jan. 11, about a week before college-credit classes start at the East Campus. Enrollment for GED classes will be Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 11-13. Students can enroll and start classes any of those days. Classes begin at 9 a.m.

 

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Invasive Species Detection Workshops

The Illinois Natural History Survey is on the front line of detecting harmful invasive species of plants, diseases and insects in Illinois. Kelly Estes of the Natural History Survey says there are hundreds of species of insects alone out there causing damage to crops, gardens and forest in Illinois.

To assist the professionals in detecting invasive species, the survey will hold First Detector Workshops at eight locations around Illinois from last January through February. The workshops are open to anyone, especially agronomists, foresters, gardeners, anyone working outdoors or in a field related to insects, plants and disease.

Again, check with your local extension office for more information on the invasive species detector workshops. The cost is 40 dollars, which includes lunch and materials, and continuing education credits are available for a variety of professionals.

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Cardinals Winter Warm Up Heading To Illinois

It’s cold outside but spring is getting closer and that means baseball will soon be back on the diamonds in Arizona and Florida. It also means that fans of the St. Louis Cardinals should get ready for the Winter Warm Up - the caravan of current and former players that spreads out over 6 states to talk, shake hands and sign autographs. The team is stopping at 8 towns in Illinois: Champaign, Peoria, Quincy, Mattoon, Decatur, Springfield, Effingham and Carbondale.

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Rauner Ins't Going to DC for Trump Inauguration

He almost never mentions him by name and now he won’t be attending the celebrations surrounding the inauguration of President Elect Trump. Governor Bruce Rauner says that he’ll skip the parties in Washington D.C. The Governor says that he is focused on Illinois. In the past Rauner has gone out of his way not to even use Trump’s name but did say after the election that he and Trump spoke and they will be able to work together.

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IDOT looks back on 2016

Despite state budget woes, the Illinois Department of Transportation is calling 2016 a year of progress. IDOT officials say new, innovative approaches to spur continued investment in infrastructure will make the state a better location to work and do business in 2017 and beyond. Secretary of Transportation Randy Blankenhorn says the transportation agency moved forward on key projects....

In 2016, IDOT wrapped up more than 700 highway projects.providing enhanced pedestrian, bicycling and transit options.

 

Downstate, the Interstate 57/70 expansion came to conclusion in Effingham, one of the biggest projects in eastern central Illinois in several years. A widening and reconstruction project on Interstate 74 in Morton and Tazewell County also finished. The project consisted of adding a lane in each direction, modernizing the interchange with I-155 into a safer configuration and improving the entrance and exit ramps at Morton Avenue. In 2017, IDOT is partnering with Iowa to start construction on the new I-74 bridge in the Quad Cities, one of the largest bridge projects in state history.

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WKEI Open Line

  Unwanted Christmas gifts are discussed during the January 6 edition of the Open LIne on WKEI

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Senior Center Info

The Henry County Senior Citizen Center, like many other agencies continues to be short changed by the state of Illinois.

Senior Center Director Cassandra Schmoll says that’s the bad news but the good news is that the local community continues to step forward to help out…

With the state once again operating without a budget, Ms. Schmoll fears that the current scenario will likely continue for the foreseeable future…

Ms. Schmoll also urges seniors to take advantage of the daily lunch program or funding might be cut for that in the future…

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Master Gardener Training in Galva

The University of Illinois Extension is once gain offering their Master Gardener program to the public.

Extension Horticulture Educator Martha Smith says the program will be held at the Extension office in Galva…

Ms. Smith acknowledges that participants will have to make commitments on a number of levels but she also notes that it is encouraging that so many people have already signed up for the program…

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Red Cross Needs Blood

The American Red Cross has a severe winter blood shortage and is issuing an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to make a donation appointment now and help save lives.

The Red Cross says that hectic holiday schedules for many regular donors contributed to about 37,000 fewer donations in November and December.

Snowstorms and severe weather contributed to the cancellation of nearly 100 blood drives in December resulting in more than 3,100 blood donations going uncollected.

Statistics indicate that someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds.  Among those requiring blood include accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease may all require blood to help save their lives.

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HCSWCD Annual Meeting

The Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District will hold their 77th annual meeting on Wednesday, January 18 at the Moose Lodge in Geneseo.

Registration that evening beginning at 6 with dinner starting at 6:30.

Steve Kastorff from Geneseo will be the headline the evening with a program entitled, Camp Annawan-Civilian Conservation camp.

Ticket prices are set at $16 for adults and $10 for children age 10 and under.

55 gallon rain barrel raffle tickets will be available that night for $5 each and those entering will not be required to be present to win.

Reservations are requested by January 9th and for further information, contact the Henry County SWCD at 937-5263 extension 3.     

Steve Kastorff

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Macy's To Close 3 More Stores in Illinois

Retail locations and major shopping centers are trying to play catch up with online shoppers and changing habits. Macys’ announced another round of store closings in the state, 3 more stores will be shuttered by the end of 2017. Bloomington, Alton and Bloomingdale are on the docket to shut down. The closings are part of 70 announced nationwide.

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Human Trafficking Happens in Illinois

There are crimes and behavior that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge that really happen in Illinois. And yet talking about it and realizing that it happens is a step to stopping it. The Department of Children and Family Services note this is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. But if you want to stop the movement of children and others for sex work then be aware it happens says DCFS’ Veronica Reza.

If you suspect something is wrong – Reza says call police or the child abuse hot line at

1-800-25-ABUSE

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Durbin meets with AG nominee Sessions

Senator Richard Durbin has played an early role in vetting a key Cabinet nominee of President-Elect Donald Trump. Durbin met Wednesday with Attorney General pick and fellow Senator Jeff Sessions. Durbin took on the subject of how the incoming administration will deal with Muslims after Trump pledged to keep Muslims from entering the country...

Durbin is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has called for an objective and thorough confirmation hearing.

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Winter Weather Hitting Central and Southern Illinois

Winter weather is arriving in Illinois for the New Year. The National Weather Service has issued a number of winter weather advisories across the state. The majority of the snow is going to be seen south of Interstate 72 and then in and along I-70. Southeast Illinois is expected to be hardest hit with 2 to 4 inches of snow. The NWS says by Thursday afternoon most of the snowfall will be wrapping up. 

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Institute tries to use art to make sense out of science

A University of Illinois institute known for its gene research plans to bring an art exhibit to the Illinois capitol in an effort to demonstrate its work. An artist with the Carl Woese (whoa-sss) Institute for Genomic Biology, Kathryn Faith, says its motto is, 'Where science meets society";

Last year, the Champaign-Urbana school's institute found using G-M-O plants can make better use of limited sunlight. A researcher at the school, Daniel Urban, says the art exhibit uses actual research images to make sense out of science;

The U-of-I institute's new exhibit will be in the capitol in March. If you want to view its current one, you can see it on display through February at the I-A-A Federal Credit Union in Bloomington

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Democrat announces run for Governor

.There has been lots of speculation about which Democrats would face Bruce Rauner in the race for Governor. One man who has flown under the radar is the first to enter. Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar is the first Democrat to announce his intentions. Pawar can probably forget about winning the Executive Mansion with cash. The 36-year-old has roughly 50-thousand dollars in the bank. Governor Bruce Rauner just deposited 50 million dollars into his campaign coffers. Pawar says he would push for Illinois to impose an additional tax on incomes over $1 million. That proposal was previously pursued by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

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WKEI Open Line

Escaping dogs, human trafficking and water meters are among the topics discussed during the January 5 edition of the Open LIne on WKEI

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Senior Center on Tuned IN

Senior Center Director Cassandra Schmoll talks about funding issues and an upcoming bus trip during the January 5 edition of Tuned IN on WKEI

 

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Winter Driving Issues

Driving at any time of the year can bring potential issues but no time more so than in the winter time.

Proper maintenance is essential and another driving challenge is that there are simply more vehicles on the road than ever before. Illinois State Police Trooper Jason Wilson from District 7 in East Moline says that’s a fact…

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Ameren Gift to Bishop Hill

The Bishop Hill Heritage Association is announcing the gift of $2,500 from Ameren IL.

The donation will be used to repair the exterior of the 1851 Colony Carpenter Shop.

That historic structure is the current home to Garden Thyme and the Bishop Hill Post Office.

To make a donation or to support BHHA activities, contact them at 309-927-3899     

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IL Economy Slow To Grow

Little growth is how a statistical program looks at the state’s economic success last month. The University of Illinois Flash Index showed a small advancement. The index – at 104.3 trended up just two-tenths of one point from November. The University of Illinois Economist who tracks the number, Fred Giertz says people spent more but they also took home a little less. However the trend to higher sales in December was a positive and not just tied to consumer spending.

Anything above 100 shows growth, over all the score is a composite of personal spending, income and corporate earnings

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Farm Cover Crop Seminars

The Illinois Dept of Agriculture is hosting three regional conservation cropping seminars later this month to assist farmers and landowners in employing best management practices. Joe Bybee of IDOA says the seminars, That take place on Jan 24th in Rockford, January 25 in Jacksonville and Jan 26 in Carbondale have a regional flavor and offer Certified Crop Adviser credits.

Registration can be done online for the IDOA seminars through the Champaign County SWCD office.

Or you can check with your local SWCD or County Farm Bureau for registration information. Again, the daylong seminars are only $20.00 and lunch is included, Jan 24 in Rockford, Jan 25 in Jacksonville and Jan 26 in Carbondale.

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Wethersfield Website

Wethersfield Community School District 230 has a new website that is heavy on pictures.

Supt of Schools Mr. Shane Kazubowski says the website is updated and more user-friendly…  

Mr. Kazubowski adds that the former web address,,www.geese230.com remains in effect…

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Robotic Surgery at Hammond Henry Hospital

Hammond Henry Hospital in Geneseo is enhancing its surgical department with the launch of the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System.

Hammond Henry CEO Mr. Jeff Lingerfelt says it’s a very exciting development…

Kris Crimmins is the Surgical Manager at Hammond Henry and she says there are several advantages to robotic surgery…

Ms. Crimmins says that the doctor remains in charge of the surgery and the robot carries out the work…

Ms. Crimmins adds that doctors receive special training before performing the work with the robots…  

Mr. LIngerfelt adds that the robotic procedures actually save money in the long run…

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Taxes Now Lower On Tampons Other Items

Taxes paid on a few items typically bought the drug store are coming down. Last year state lawmakers approved a measure to remove the general sales tax on items like adult incontinence products and tampons. State Senator Melinda Bush says that those items are have to be used by either half the population or people that need to for medical reasons and they shouldn’t be taxed like other everyday items.

Illinois became the third state to reduce the tax on those needed items.

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22 county groups working to improve water quality in 2017

Eighteen different projects organized by 22 different county Farm Bureaus in Illinois will collaborate with other local groups in a continued effort to improve water quality throughout the state. Illinois Farm Bureau awarded nearly $100,000 in grants as part of an effort that will require rural and urban areas to address the issue. Lauren Lurkins serves as director of environmental and natural resources for the Illinois Farm Bureau;

It's all part of an effort to make continued progress on what's known as the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy required by the federal EPA. The ultimate goal is to reduce a so-called "hypoxic" or dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Lurkins says it will require action not only by farmers but urban wastewater treatment plans as well;

Chicago's treated waste water still includes some of the largest amounts of phosphorus making its way into Illinois streams and rivers. Its water reclamation district installed technology last summer to extract the nutrient from waste water and turn it into pellets that can potentially used as fertilizer on farm fields and other uses.

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Farm issues in Washington and Springfield

State Legislature will be back for a limited session next week in Springfield. Mark Gebhards, IFB Exec Dir of Govt Affairs and Commodities says the top Farm Bureau priority in Springfield is the budget, but there are other items that will hopefully be addressed in the spring The new congress is starting work in Washington this week, while the session.

Meanwhile, in Washington Gebhards says tax and regulatory reform are at the top of the FB priority list, but trade issues also bear watching.

Mark Gebhards. Talks are expected early this year on a 2018 Farm Bill. Gebhards expects next week’s American Farm Bureau annual meeting in Phoenix to set Farm Bureau policy on what a new farm bill should look like.

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WKEI Open Line

The state of Illinois is discussed during the January 3 edition of the Open LIne on WKEI

 

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IRS Info

The Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting tax returns on January 23rd.

Michael Devine with the IRS explains the policy...

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Health Care Workers Petition For Review

Beginning this year, previously barred health care workers and applicants with criminal convictions may once again become eligible for licensure in Illinois.

Under the new law, the Illinois Dept of Financial and Professional Regulations will implement a review process.

The new measure is part of an ongoing process to remove unnecessary barriers to professional licensure 

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