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Local News Archives for 2017-08

Governor Signs Bill Removing Statute of Limitations on Felony Sex Crimes


Legislation that removes the statute of limitations for prosecution of felony sex crimes against minors has been signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Representative Avery Bourne, who co-sponsored the bill, said the signing of Senate Bill 189 is a significant victory in the fight for child victims' rights.

This legislation was a bipartisan bill that was unanimously approved in the House and Senate, Representative Bourne said in a statement, adding that with this change in state law, there are no limitations on when an abuser can be charged after the crime occurs. Survivors of child sexual assault will hopefully be encouraged to come forward and seek justice in their own time.

Senate Bill 189 provides that when the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, a prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or criminal sexual abuse may be initiated at any time. Under previous laws, many cases held 10 year or 20 year statute of limitation for prosecution.

The provisions of the new law take effect immediately.

Hillsboro Rejects Bids for East Street Improvement


At their meeting Tuesday evening, the Hillsboro City Council rejected bids they had received for the East Street Improvement project.

City Engineer Scott Hunt said the total estimated bid for the project was $50,000. The lowest bid that came in was $71,000. Hunt recommended that the council reject the bids, and re-bid thru a process with the Illinois Department of Transportation. He said by doing that, it would be possible to receive a bid closer to the original $50,000. The motion passed, 4-0.

After that, a separate motion was made to appropriate an additional $7,500 towards the project, based on a recommendation from IDOT. Hunt said that the funds would come out of the Motor Fuel Tax funds, so no money would be taken away from any other projects in the city. That motion also passed, 4-0.

The next Hillsboro City Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 12, at 7 p.m.

Montgomery County To Begin E-Filing Civil Cases


Beginning January 1, 2018, e-filing of all civil cases in Illinois will be mandatory. With the deadline fast approaching, the Montgomery County Circuit Clerk's office wants to make sure that court users are not caught off guard.

The Illinois Supreme Court mandates that all users file electronically, including those who aren't represented by an attorney.

We want to encourage learning and utilizing the system early, said Circuit Clerk Holly Lemons. "I don't want users to run into issues once the mandate is here." She added that if users "get on board ahead of schedule and do encounter issues, they can have them worked out prior to the mandate."

Montgomery County was among the first in the state to be approved for e-filing as a pilot county. Lemons says those using the e-filing options have given great feedback.

E-filing allows for the filing of civil court documents electronically over the internet rather than on paper. Filings and payments are made electronically, which will help improve the efficiency and services to attorneys and the public. This will also effectively extend the court's hours of operation, even pushing filing deadlines to midnight on court business days.

More information can be located on the Montgomery County Circuit Clerk's website at montgomeryco.com/circuit-court-clerk.

Hunting on Litchfield City Property a Problem


Lori Morgan addressed the Litchfield City Council Thursday evening during the public participation portion about a problem with hunting on city property north of 16th Avenue.

Morgan said that for years, opening day of the shotgun season has been a problem, as 7 or 8 vehicle are consistently seen parking in the area with 2 people per vehicle. Those people are then hunting close to residential areas, which can be dangerous.

Police Chief Lee Jarman said an ordinance is in effect right now that allows hunters to hunt on city property north of 16th Avenue, although he said he believes the city has the authority to say no to the hunters as well.

Alderman Dwayne Gerl said that hunters are supposed to ask for the city's permission first, and then be put on a list before being allowed to hunt there.

Morgan said the problem seems to be only during shotgun season, as bowhunting and shotgun turkey season has never caused any problems. She added that she's concerned someone is going to get hurt if this problem is allowed to continue.

Mayor Steve Dougherty said the council will discuss the matter further at the next city council meeting. He added that the council will have to go one way or another on the issue, since it would not be right to let some hunt on the property while not allowing others.

The next Litchfield City Council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 7, at 6:30 p.m.

Courthouse to Close for Safety Training


The Montgomery County Clerk's Office has announced that due to Historic Courthouse county employee safety training, the Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro will be closed on Wednesday, August 23, from 2 to 4 p.m.

This employee training will be conducted by the Montgomery County Sheriff's office and will include participation from members of the Montgomery County Board since they use the building for meetings.

Customers of the courthouse, located in the center of the square in Hillsboro, should avoid use of the building August 23, between 2 and 4 p.m.; however, the Courthouse Complex at 120 North Main in Hillsboro, as well as all other county buildings, will be open for regular business that day.

Similar county employee trainings will be conducted for employees in the Courthouse Complex and other county buildings in the near future, and public announcements will be made about county building closures prior to those dates.

State Police Commander Reminds Motorists of Start of School


Captain Timothy Tyler, who is the State Police District 18 Commander in Litchfield, is reminding motorists that area schools open their doors this week and begin the new school year. The start of the school year means an increase in pedestrian and vehicular traffic around schools.

Motorists need to be watchful for children walking and riding their bike to school and children darting out from between parked cars. Motorists also need to be on the lookout for slowing and stopped school buses. As parents drop off their children before school and pick them up after, there will also be an increase in vehicle traffic during the morning and evening commute. Extra travel time should be planned to allow for the increase in traffic.

Motorists are reminded to watch their speed in school zones and limit their distractions. The speed limit in school zones is 20 miles per hour and is in effect from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. when children are present. It is also illegal to text while driving, and all cell phone use must be hands free.

Motorists approaching a stopped school bus with lights activated and sign extended must stop their vehicle before reaching the school bus. Failure to do so can result in a $150 fine and the suspension of your driver's license for three months. Also, remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk.

EMA Director Urges Motorists to Use Caution During Eclipse


Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Greg Nimmo is warning county residents who plan to travel on Monday, August 21, to view the solar eclipse in the southern Illinois and Missouri areas, to be aware of potential traffic jams and crashes that could result from drivers focusing on the skies and not the road during the eclipse.

Nimmo informs residents to not stand on the interstate, pull their car over, or take a selfie from a bridge. He said the risk of driver distraction from this once-in-a-lifetime event has never been greater. He added that it's up to local residents and visitors to follow common sense rules to stay safe, and that the eclipse is clearly a transportation issue.

About 200 million people across the country live within a day's drive of the path of totality for the August 21st Eclipse, and millions are expected to flock there for the event.

Nimmo urges motorists to plan ahead and find a safe spot to view the eclipse. He said that pulling onto the shoulder of a highway is a bad idea because it could block emergency vehicles from getting thru and put drivers who get out to watch the event at risk of being struck by a car. Motorists on local streets need to pay special attention to pedestrians and cyclists, who may themselves be focused on the eclipse.

State transportation officials recommend that people find an event or designated location to safely watch the eclipse. Many state parks, for example, are hosting events or reserving areas to accommodate campers and day visitors.

Hillsboro Council Comments on Water Chlorine Smell


Streets and Public Improvement Commissioner Don Downs commented on the city of Hillsboro's water at the Hillsboro City Council meeting Tuesday evening.

Downs said that the water has had a chlorine smell lately because of a practice that is done twice a year in regulation with Environmental Protection Agency standards. He added that if residents smell chlorine, they should know it is safe to drink.

The council also voted to amend an ordinance that would increase the city's facade grant amount from $1,000 to $2,000. Mayor Brian Sullivan said that the increase would put Hillsboro in line with some of the surrounding towns that have the same program. Commissioner Downs added that the increase will allow businesses to put a lot more towards improvements than before. The motion passed unanimously.

The council also approved a bid for a truck for the Public Property and Parks Department. The only bid that was submitted was from Wright Automotive in the amount of $32,675 for a 2017 Ford F-250. The council unanimously approved the bid.

The next Hillsboro City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 22, at 7 p.m.

Crimestoppers Seeking Burglary Information


The Macoupin Montgomery County Crimerstoppers is seeking information regarding a burglary that is believed to have occurred between 4 p.m. on August 3, and 8 a.m. on August 4, on Klein Avenue, which is located approximately two miles south of Litchfield in Montgomery County.

The suspect(s) allegedly forced entry into an outbuilding and stole lawn maintenance equipment items; which included Stihl grass trimmers, Stihl blowers and other equipment.

Anyone with information about the crime is encouraged to contact the Crimestoppers at 1-800-352-0136, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office at 217-532-9511, or visit macmontcrimerstoppers.com.

Any information that leads to an arrest is eligible for up to a $5,000 reward.

Charity Yard Sale

Gold Wing Road Riders Association Illinois Chapter E will be having their annual Charity Yard Sale this coming Saturday, Aug. 12, at Niehaus Cycle Sales in Litchfield from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The yard sale will benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society.

Battered Fish Fry

St. Paul's Lutheran Church of rural Nokomis will be having a battered fish fry with all the trimmings on Saturday, Aug. 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Carryouts will be available starting at 5 p.m.

Battered Fish Fry

St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Rural Nokomis is having a battered fish fry at the church Sunday August 13th. 5:30 -7:30.

Legislation Helping Volunteer Firefighters Passes House


Volunteer firefighters could soon be able to purchase tires at a discount thanks to new legislation that has passed in both the Illinois House and Senate.

State Representative Avery Bourne co-sponsored House Bill 771, which was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives, and it is now on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature to become law.

The bill allows volunteer firefighters to purchase tires at a discounted rate, which is the same price as the state's purchasing contract.

According to Representative Bourne, this legislation is a common sense way to provide cost savings for volunteer firefighters. She said that not only do these men and women give their time and expertise, they often respond to calls in their own vehicles; and this bill will help mitigate the cost of the extra wear and tear on their tires.

Over 70 percent of the firefighters in Illinois are volunteers, the vast majority of which do so at a personal cost. Many volunteers use their private vehicles to respond to emergencies for the benefit of their communities.

Under this bill, if authorized by the fire chief of their local fire department, any regularly enrolled volunteer fire fighter may purchase four vehicle tires every three years through their fire department or municipality's joint purchasing contract.

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