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Local News Archives for 2016-08

Bourne on Mapping Political Districts


With the general election in November approaching fast, concern over the way political maps are drawn continues to grow among voters. Some citizens of Illinois have come together and attempted to change the way districts are drawn. Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected a petition that would have allowed an independent board to draw political districts. State Representative Avery Bourne says the way districts are drawn now could be more fair.

"The way it's done now is completely by political parties who sit there, look at which party is stronger in that area, and draw it to fit a certain legislator," she said. "(The Petition) was an initiative by citizens who collected about 600,000 signatures who said 'let's take political parties out of it. Let's give this to an independent board who will draw these districts fairly,' and I think that gives voters a fair shot too."

Representative Bourne added that the time has come for the legislature to step up to the plate and act.

"The Supreme Court has struck (the petition) down, and so I think now it's time for the legislature to act and put this into place so voters get a say."

The petition also had support from local residents.

"There were quite a few local groups that were working on it," Bourne said. "I'm sure a lot of folks signed the petition. I know I did. I was going to a county fair and they were asking for signatures. The local farm bureaus pushed really hard and got a lot of signatures for it, so there was engagement across the state for this initiative."

Though nothing has been completed in the General Assembly yet, Bourne said the initiative has had bi-partisan support.

"We actually voted on a redistricting reform proposal in the House that was sponsored by Democrat Jack Franks. It got over 100 yes votes, and then the Senate didn't call it. The Senate had their own piece of legislation that never got called in the House. It's kind of been a political football. I think if we could get everyone in a room together, certainly there would be a lot of bi-partisanship."
David Jenkins
August 31, 2016

Phone Scam in Litchfield


The Litchfield Police Department has received complaints of a telephone scam in which individuals are claiming to be associated with the Publisher's Clearing House Prize Patrol.

These individuals have contacted members of the community to advise them that a prize has been awarded; and to receive funds, the individual must send a money order to another individual to facilitate the transfer of the winnings to their account.

The police department advises that any attempt to collect money in an effort to receive an award, or the solicitation for tax documents or specific identification numbers - such as date of birth or social security numbers - is an attempt at identity theft. Remember, you should never provide this information to someone who is soliciting you by phone.

Ramsey Woman Killed in Accident near Indian Springs


One person was killed and another was injured in a two vehicle accident that occurred on Route 185 at Indian Springs Golf Course in Fillmore Saturday afternoon.

According to the Illinois State Police, 18-year old Payge Donaldson of Ramsey was pulling out of the golf course parking lot onto Route 185 when she pulled out in front of a semi, driven by 40-year old Eric Wehrle of Vandalia. Wehrle was unable to avoid Donaldson's car and struck the vehicle.

Donaldson was transported to Hillsboro Area Hospital by ambulance where she was pronounced dead. Wehrle was transported to Vandalia Hospital for minor injuries.

The accident occurred at approximately 3:08pm on Saturday. Route 185 was closed until 11 Saturday night. The Coffeen Fire Department and Montgomery County Sherriff's Office assisted at the scene. The crash remains under investigation by the state police.

Ramsey Woman Killed in Accident Saturday


One person was killed and another was injured in a two vehicle accident that occurred on Route 185 at Indian Springs Golf Course in Fillmore Saturday afternoon.

According to the Illinois State Police, 18-year old Payge Donaldson of Ramsey was pulling out of the golf course parking lot onto Route 185 when she pulled out in front of a semi, driven by 40-year old Eric Wehrle of Vandalia. Wehrle was unable to avoid Donaldson's car and struck the vehicle.

Donaldson was transported to Hillsboro Area Hospital by ambulance where she was pronounced dead. Wehrle was transported to Vandalia Hospital for minor injuries.

The accident occurred at approximately 3:08pm on Saturday. Route 185 was closed until 11 Saturday night. The Coffeen Fire Department and Montgomery County Sherriff's Office assisted at the scene. The crash remains under investigation by the state police.

Invasive Plant Workshop in Hillsboro


Invasive plants are a major threat to biodiversity and native plant habitats. To help teach more about invasive plants, the University of Illinois Montgomery County Extension office will host a workshop on Monday, September 12th.

It will cover identification, reporting, mapping, control methods, and native plant alternatives.

The workshop is open to the public, but registration is required by September 8th.

The workshop will be held from 3 to 4:30pm at the extension office in Hillsboro. For more information, contact Extension Educator Andrew Holsinger at 217-532-3941.

Litchfield School Board Member Resigns


A Litchfield school board member officially resigned at the board meeting held Thursday evening.

The board now has a vacancy after Greg Hires resigned his position due to residency relocation. Interested parties that would like to be appointed by the board to fulfill this position until the next election should contact Superintendent Jeff Strieker at jstrieker@lcusd12.org or call the unit office at 217-324-2157.

During closed session of the meeting, the board addressed some faculty agenda items. Jon Yoch was approved as volunteer cross country coach for the 2016-17 school year. Chris Headrick was approved as volunteer golf coach. Seth Hill was approved as the summer weight room supervisor, and Joel Jubelt was hired as a full-time custodian for the school district.

The next Litchfield school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 15th.

Bourne's Youth Trapping Bill Signed into Law


In April, State Representative Avery Bourne sponsored legislation to create a youth trapping license in an effort to promote trapping statewide. The bill passed unanimously in the Illinois House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on Monday.

As of January 1, 2017, the new law will allow residents who are 18 years old and younger to legally trap in the state.

With this license, the holder must trap under the supervision of a parent, grandparent or guardian who is 21 or older and has a valid Illinois trapping license. To obtain the license, you must apply to the Department of Natural Resources and submit a fee of $7.

According to Representative Bourne, trapping plays an important role in the ecology and conservation in the state by helping manage wildlife populations at healthy levels. For details about what animals can be legally trapped, check the Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations at dnr.illinois.gov.

Litchfield School Board Member Resigns


A Litchfield school board member officially resigned at the board meeting held Thursday evening.

The board now has a vacancy after Greg Hires resigned his position due to residency relocation. Interested parties that would like to be appointed by the board to fulfill this position until the next election should contact Superintendent Jeff Strieker at jstrieker@lcusd12.org or call the unit office at 217-324-2157.

During closed session of the meeting, the board addressed some faculty agenda items. Jon Yoch was approved as volunteer cross country coach for the 2016-17 school year. Chris Headrick was approved as volunteer golf coach. Seth Hill was approved as the summer weight room supervisor, and Joel Jubelt was hired as a full-time custodian for the school district.

The next Litchfield school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 15th.

Criminal Damage

The Macoupin County Sheriff's Office is seeking information to help solve thefts and criminal damage to property at cellular phone tower sites in rural Girard and Dorchester. Person or persons unknown gained entry to the sites, stole copper wire and caused over $1,000 in damage.

Anyone with information that would help solve this crime, can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-352-0136. You can also submit an anonymous tip on-line at www.macmontcrimestoppers.com or use your cell phone to text information by entering "TIP722 and your message" and send to CRIMES (274637). In doing so you could be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $1,000.

Crime Stoppers wants your information, not your name.

Litchfield to Solicit Bids for Water Tower Inspection


The Litchfield City Council held their second August meeting on Thursday evening.

At the meeting, the council approved an ammendment to an ordinance that prohibits trespassing in Library Park after the park is closed. The park will be closed from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. The council also approved the posting of signs at the park's entrances listing the hours the park is closed.

As for new business, the council approved a motion to solicit bids for the inspection of the city's 500,000-gallon hydro-pillar. The last time the hydro-pillar was inspected was 2012. A newer, more detailed inspection is required so bid specs and a cost estimate for the scope of work can be prepared for the upcoming fiscal year.

The council also accepted a bid from Cole Excavating for the recycling of concrete into aggregate rock for an amount not to exceed $40,500. The rock will be used for road base, water main and sewer main repair backfill, and shoulder stabilization. There is approximately 6,000 tons of concrete that has been offered to the city, and the material will be used only on city funded projects.

Finally, the fire station communication tower in Litchfield is in need of replacement because it is considered a safety hazard due to its unstable condition. Because of this, the council approved a motion to solicit bids for the tower's replacement, as well as relocate the police and city clerk communication equipment to the fire station.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 1st.

Taylorville Woman Injured in Car Accident


A Taylorville woman was injured in an automobile accident on Route 48 Wednesday afternoon.

According to the State Police, Evelyn Sisco, 82, was traveling north on Route 48, approximately one mile south of the Taylorville Airport, when her car left the road and overturned in the ditch. The reason for the car leaving the roadway is unknown at this time.

Sisco was transported to Memorial Medical Center in Springfield and treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The Taylorville Fire Department, Sutton Ambulance, and Christian County Sheriff's Department assisted at the scene.

Litchfield All-Year Class Reunion Planned for September


On September 24, the city of Litchfield will host their All-Year Class Reunion at the Community Center; but according to Litchfield Tourism Coordinator Sarah Waggoner, there's more going on that day in the city than just the reunion itself.

"The reunion portion at the Community Center starts at 5, dinner will be served at 6, and we will have live music by 'The Smash Band' from 6:30 to 10:30; but during the day, we did set up some optional excursions."

Some of those excursions include a guided tour of the Litchfield High School, a self-guided tour and greeting by a museum board member at the Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center, and a guided tour at the Shoal Creek Conservation Area.

"We tried to set up some optional excursions that would work as well with the tickets," Waggoner said, "so when (the alumni) are here, they can fill their whole day with some great parts about Litchfield."

She also mentioned that there has been a good response from alumni who are planning to attend the event.

"We definitely have a nice group of people that show interest and are really looking forward to the event. Everyone that signed up seems pretty excited, so I think it will definitely be a good day."

If you haven't received your invitation yet, you can contact the tourism office at 866-733-5833.

Macoupin County Vote by Mail

Macoupin County voters may now apply for a vote by mail ballot for the November 8, 2016 General Election. The ballots will be sent out starting September 29.

According to Macoupin County Clerk, Pete Duncan, "although the Election is still just over 80 days away, voters can request a ballot now and it will be delivered to their mailbox in early October.

Duncan adds that the Macoupin Election Office is now offering multiple ways to apply. Anyone can request a ballot online through MacoupinVotes.com, by phone, mail or in person.

Voters will need the last four digits of their Social Security number, their driver's license or state identification card, and an email address. The information will be verified before the application is processed by the Election Office.

Duncan reminds everyone that regardless of how the voter applies, the signature on their ballot certification will be compared against the signature in their voter file by a team of Democratic and Republican Election judges before their ballot is counted.

Bourne Co-sponsors Gun Suppressor Legislation


State Representative Avery Bourne has co-sponsored legislation to remove the prohibition on the use of gun suppressors. Bourne says the legislation was brought forth in an effort to protect hunters from hearing damage.

The legislation states that a suppressor, allowed under the National Firearms Act, can be used on a handgun when on a shooting range. While hunting, an individual would be able to use the suppressor on long arm guns.

Bourne says that the issue is one that she's heard from a number of constituents. She also said that misconceptions about suppressors are common, and that they don't make firearms silent, but rather muffle the sound in large part to prevent hearing loss and noise pollution.

The legislation passed the Illinois House but has not yet been called in the Senate.

1 Dead, 2 Injured in I-55 Accident Wednesday


One person is dead and two are injured after their vehicle oveturned on Interstate 55 on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the Illinois State Police, a vehicle driven by David Marten, 45, of Lincoln was traveling south on I-55. Witnesses said the vehicle was in the middle lane when it lost control and left the roadway to the right, overturning and coming to a rest on its top next to the frontage road just north of Glenarm.

David Marten and a 3-year old passenger were transported to Memorial Medical Center and treated for non-life threatening injuries. Passenger Talona Marten, 38, had to be extricated from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The accident occurred at approximately 1:49 Wednesday afternoon.

Tax to Aid Mental Health Added to November Ballot


At the Montgomery County Board meeting Tuesday morning, Finance Committee Chairman Megan Beeler addressed the board about concerns FAYCO Enterprises has about staying funded. FAYCO is an organization that integrates people with disabilities and other life issues into the community.

To help with some of the financial struggles, Beeler said FAYCO, along with the Montgomery County Health Department, requested the board allow voters in the county to consider a resolution that could help.

"FAYCO and the health department has addressed the finance committee requesting that the county board consider allowing the voters to consider a public tax that will provide funds for mental health, substance abuse and disabled citizens."

The tax would be collected by a 708 Board, also known as a Mental Health Board. Organizations like FAYCO would be able to apply for grants, and the 708 board would determine who receives them.

Mike Plunkett was one of the county board members who was vocal in expressing his approval of the resolution.

"There's always opportunities to pay more taxes, but you've got to look and choose just like your own budget, 'Where do my dollars best help?' and this is a place where I think the taxpayers can say, 'here's a place I think my dollars will really help.'"

Board member Glenn Savage also expressed his approval by stating that if passed, the county could see residents remain in the area.

"Providing opportunities for a fuller, more fulfilling life for children and adults with developmental disabilities is going to cause whole families to stay in Montgomery County that otherwise would leave. Not because they're looking for free services, but because they're looking for a fuller life."

Voters in the county will now be tasked with deciding whether or not to approve the tax of .15 percent. The resolution will be placed on the ballot for the general election in November.

-David Jenkins
August 10, 2016

Burgers Brats and Blues Event

A lunch time concert and cookout will be held on Saturday, August 13 to raise funds to help with NF research, patient support and public awareness. "Burger, Brats, and Blues," a SamJam event, will be held in front of Starr's Primal Meats in Carlinville, from 11am until 2pm. An accoustic blues band, The Loot Rock Gang, will perform and grilled sandwiches will be available for purchase.

SamJam events are held to honor Sam Oswald, of Carlinville, who has lived with complications from neurofibromatosis for his entire life. Now 31 years old, Oswald wants to help raise funds to support continuing NF research and assistance to NF patients and their families. A total of $35,000 has been raised during the first two years and donated to NF Midwest, an organization funding NF research and support throughout a six state area in the Midwest.

Equipment Malfunction Believed to have Led to Dog's Death


A K-9 with the Montgomery County Sherriff's Department is dead after being left alone in a car during a hot day last Sunday. According to Montgomery County Undersherriff Rick Robbins, the department believes malfunctioning equipment led to the dog's death.

"On Sunday, July 31, our K-9 handler and his partner, Blitz, were on duty. The deputy was in the office completing some reports and there were a couple of failures with equipment that we believe led to the death of the dog. This is still under investigation, so I can't say exactly what has happened. We're trying to come to some sort of conclusions of what actually happened."

The equipment Robbins referred to includes an alarm that is designed to notify the handler and any officer in the area that the temperature in the vehicle is too hot.

"If the vehicle gets too hot, there's an alarm system that lets the dog handler and anyone in the area know that something's going on with that vehicle, and then the windows would roll down in the back area. Also, there's a very secure kennel built inside the vehicle so the dog can't escape the vehicle when the windows go down. The windows go down, a big fan turns on within the kennel to cool off the inside of the vehicle. What we believe happened at this point - and it's still under investigation to see if we can determine exactly what happened - is the air conditioner quit in the vehicle; and then, at the same time, this alarm system did not activate for whatever electrical reason."

The entire department is grieving the loss of their fellow officer and a friend. Although some may have thought he was just a dog, the department knew Blitz to be a member of the team.

"It's emotional for everyone here at the Sherriff's office and in the K-9 dog handler community, but especially for (the department's) handler."

Blitz had been with the department for a year.

David Jenkins
August 5, 2016

Florida Counties Added to Travel Deferral for Blood Donations


The Central Illinois Community Blood Center will begin asking prospective blood donors about travel to two counties in South Florida after reports of Possible Zika virus transmission not related to international travel.

Miami-Dade and Broward Counties will be added to the region impacted by the Zika virus travel deferral, which already includes Mexico, Puerto Rico, Latin America, the Caribbean and portions of the Pacific Islands. Those who have traveled to the affected regions will be asked not to give blood for 28 days after returning.

The CICBC is seeking appointments from all eligible blood donors to help combat the impact of the new travel deferral during a period when the rate of blood donation has dropped over the last week.

To schedule an appointment at a donor center or a mobile blood drive, call 217-753-1530 or log on to bloodcenterimpact.org. The CICBC issues blood to many of the hospitals located in the WSMI listening area.

Florida Counties Added to Travel Deferral for Blood Donations


The Central Illinois Community Blood Center will begin asking prospective blood donors about travel to two counties in South Florida after reports of Possible Zika virus transmission not related to international travel.

Miami-Dade and Broward Counties will be added to the region impacted by the Zika virus travel deferral, which already includes Mexico, Puerto Rico, Latin America, the Caribbean and portions of the Pacific Islands. Those who have traveled to the affected regions will be asked not to give blood for 28 days after returning.

The CICBC is seeking appointments from all eligible blood donors to help combat the impact of the new travel deferral during a period when the rate of blood donation has dropped over the last week.

To schedule an appointment at a donor center or a mobile blood drive, call 217-753-1530 or log on to bloodcenterimpact.org. The CICBC issues blood to many of the hospitals located in the WSMI listening area.

No Major Injuries in Semi Truck Accident

A semi truck driver avoided serious injury when his truck rolled and crashed on the interstate this weekend.

According to the state police, A 63-year old South Holland man was driving north on I-55 on Saturday, July 30th around 6pm when he heard a loud popping sound. The driver said that he lost control and ended up crashing the truck into the median, where the truck rolled and landed on its right side. The accident happened at mile marker 82 near Auburn.

The driver was taken to an area hospital for minor injuries. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

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