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Local News Archives for 2019-08

Hillsboro FFA Football Tailgate Cookout

Hillsboro FFA will be holding a football tailgate meal this Friday evening, and every Friday of a home football game. Pork patties and Marcoot Jersey Creamery ice cream will be the top featured items, with drinks and other items available.
The Cookout will be held at the new pavillion between the Consession Stand and the Home Football Bleachers at Hillsboro High School. Stop in, visit , eat, and support the Hillsboro FFA.

Hillsboro Adds Meter Fee to Water Bills

Hillsboro water customers will pay a meter fee when they pay their bills after the city council approved adding the fee during their meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

According to Public Improvements Commissioner Don Downs, the revenue received from the meter fee will allow the city to purchase additional meters and pay for sewer and water infrastructure. The intial proposal called for a fee of $5 per month.

The fee, Downs said, would be a better alternative than increasing water rates in the city, which he said would have to be done in order to pay for additional meters and infrastructure. He reminded those in attendance that the water department's fund must be self-sustaining in order to pay for certain jobs.

Mayor Brian Sullivan said he understood the benefit to adding a meter fee, but cautioned starting at $5. He said he felt more comfortable starting at $3, stating that the council could increase the charge in the future if needed. According to Finance Commissioner Katie Duncan, applying a $3 meter fee would generate approximately $48,000 in revenue per year. Downs said customers' bills would increase by $36 annually after applying the fee. A motion to add a $3 meter fee to water bills was made, and it passed, 4-0.

The next Hillsboro City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sep. 10, at 7 p.m.

Montgomery County Hosts Census Worker Meeting

Local leaders learned important information about the upcoming 2020 Decennial Census at a meeting that was recently hosted by the Montgomery County Board and County Clerk Sandy Leitheiser.

Census training was provided by the County's U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Jennequil Johnson of Chicago. Ms. Johnson informed those in attendance about important census activities timelines, the privacy of census information as required by law, and the questions required to be answered in the upcoming census. She also encouraged those in attendance to help educate and motivate Montgomery County citizens to complete their census form, which can be done online for the first time in census history.

Leitheiser emphasized the importance of all Montgomery County residents participating in the census to obtain an accurate count, which she said is necessary for maintaining current legislative seats at the federal and state levels and determining funding received for a wide variety of government services.

Group discussion also included the necessity to localize census efforts by recruiting county residents to serve as census workers who will be familiar with our county communities. Johnson stated Montgomery County still needs many more census workers and said enumeration duties are beginning soon to confirm the structures throughout the county in advance of counting population next spring.

Those interested in applying for census jobs may do so now online at Those needing more general information about the upcoming census may contact Leitheiser by email at, or by calling 217-532-9530.

Trooper Killed After Attempting to Execute Search Warrant

A State Police trooper was killed in the line of duty on Friday after attempting to execute a search warrant in East St. Louis.

Trooper Nicholas Hopkins was pronounced dead as a result of his injuries at 6:10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23. He was 33.

According to the Illinois State Police, Hopkins was executing a search warrant at 5:26 a.m. at a residence in the 1400 block of North 42nd Street. During an exchange of gunfire, he was shot and was taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Acting State Police Director Brendan Kelly announced Hopkins had succumbed to his injuries Friday evening.

It is with profound heartache and unfathomable sadness that we inform you of the death of Trooper Nicholas Hopkins, Kelly said. Trooper Hopkins laid down his life while protecting the citizens of this state. We are asking the public to respectfully give consideration to the family of Trooper Hopkins and the ISP while we continue to grieve and work through this tragedy."

Hopkins was a 10-year veteran of the State Police. The incident remains under investigation.

Coffeen One of Four Power Plants to be Closed

Texas-based energy company Vistra Energy announced on Wednesday that the Coffeen Power Plant is one of its four Illinois plants that will be retired.

The Montgomery County Board released a statement in response to the decision.

"We at the Montgomery County Board are in constant contact with the Vistra representatives in light of (Wednesday) morning's announcement of the Coffeen Power Plant closing. There are many questions that we hope to have answered. We are studying the financial aspect and mapping the anticipated impact on all taxing bodies to create a plan that will ease the financial burden this closure will create. We are working with local officials from the state and from the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to ensure a response and transition plan is in place to support the families in Montgomery County."

Megan Beeler serves as both the Vice Chair of the county board and the Chair of the board's Finance Committee. She says the impact on the county will be significant.

"Vistra is the largest property taxpayer in Montgomery County," she said. "In addition to the property tax, we will see a large impact to our sales tax collection. (Coffeen Power Plant's) sales tax accounts for roughly $900,000 annually. We are anticipating a loss of $675,000 in revenue for next year, and that's 11 percent of our projected revenue."

Beeler said other taxing districts that will be affected include the Hillsboro Ambulance District, Montgomery County Extension Service, Health Department, Veterans Affairs Commission, 708 Board, Lincoln Land Community College, East Fork Road District and East Fork Township. The district most affected, however, will be the Hillsboro School District.

"The power plant provided $2.8 million in revenue to Hillsboro Community Unit School District 3 in Fiscal Year 19 and $2 million in revenue this year," said Hillsboro School Superintendent David Powell. "The closure of the plant will be a significant blow to the district. Over time, the revenue we receive from the State will increase as aresult of this significant decrease in our tax base."

Powell said he will be working with the financial staff at the Illinois State Board of Education "to make sure we understand the timing and scale of that increase." He added that he is "confident our community can come together and work through this in such a way as to meet student needs while not overly burdening the remaining taxpayers in the district."

State officials also weighed in on Wednesday's announcement. Representative Avery Bourne called the decision disappointing.

"The closure of Coffeen's coal plant is devastating to our local economy, she said. "The closure of all four plants will mean downstate Illinois loses production of affordable and reliable energy.

Senator Andy Manar called the plant in Coffeen the "cleanest coal-fired power plant in the world," and said closing it down "makes zero sense.

"Today, Vistra, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Pollution Control Board together failed the environment, he said. "Shame on the Pollution Control Board for not doing its homework and allowing this to happen."

Other plants facing shutdown are Havana, Hennepin and the Deer Creek Power Plant in Canton. According to a report from Yahoo Finance, approximately 300 jobs will be eliminated across the four plants.

Litchfield Experiences Surge in Illegal Narcotics

The city of Litchfield has experienced a surge in illegal narcotic activity, according to a release from the city's Police Department.

A total of 48 arrests have been executed this year for possession of illegal narcotics. Thirty-two of those arrests, the release states, have been related to the possession or delivery of methamphetamine. On July 31, two Litchfield residents were arrested for methamphetamine possession.

Nathan Thrasher, 34, and Amanda Majors, 33, were both charged with the Class X Felony of Possession with Intent to Deliver 15-100 grams. Additionally, Thrasher was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The former is a Class 4 felony and the latter a Class A misdemeanor.

An investigation led police to the recovery of approximately 90 grams of suspected methamphetamine, as well as additional evidence indicating delivery.

The release states that the increase in drug possession and activity directly relates to an increase in property crimes and crimes against individuals. Anyone with information regarding these types of offenses or any other criminal activity is encouraged to contact their local police department, sheriff's office or Crimestoppers.

I-55 Southbound Restricted to One Lane at Night

The southbound lanes of Interstate 55 between Hamel and Edwardsville will be restricted to one lane during nighttime hours, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Between Exits 30 and 23, the lanes will be restricted between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. IDOT says work is expected to be completed by Tuesday, Aug. 20 and is necessary to repair the pavement marking.

Drivers should expect delays and are asked to use alternate routes during this time. Drivers are also urged to reduce speed, be alert for changing conditions, obey all construction signage and refrain from using mobile devices while approaching and traveling through the work zone.

A map of all road construction work in the state is available online at

Panhandle School Board to Meet Monday

The Panhandle School Board will hold their August meeting on Monday at Lincolnwood High School in Raymond.

New business items on the agenda include:
A. District registration information
B. Discussion with action regarding the tentative FY 2020 District Budget
C. Approval of the first reading of the board policies

Following a scheduled closed session, the board also plans to approve a district cook and a paraprofessional.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

County Farmers Institute Books Available

The 2019 program booklets for the Montgomery County Farmers Institute and Household Science Section are now available. The booklets have been distributed to local Montgomery County businesses. The booklets are also available at the University of Illinois Extension office in Hillsboro, where the program will be held.
Entries for the Farmers Institute will be accepted on Friday, September 6 from 4-6 p.m., and again on Saturday, September 7 from 8-10 a.m. After entries are in place, they will be judged, and may then be viewed by the public at no charge. Participants should pick up their prizes and entries beginning at 2 p.m. and no later than 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the Extension office. Donuts, BBQ, hot dogs, chips, cookies, soda, coffee, and water will be available and proceeds will benefit the Montgomery County Farmers Institute.
Everyone that is a resident within Montgomery County is eligible to have entries in Classes/Categories such as: Ag Sciences: (Corn, Popcorn, Soybeans, Hay, and Sunflower head), Fruits and Vegetables: (Potatoes, Onions, Turnips, Carrots, Beets, Okra, Tomatoes, Green Beans, Cabbage, Peppers, Egg Plant, Cucumber, Zucchini, Cantaloupes, Gourds, Pumpkin, Apples, Pears, Watermelon, and Squash), Flowers & Plants: (Coxcombs, Marigolds, Mums, Roses, Dahlias, Gladiolas, Zinnias, Petunias, and Houseplants), Canned Goods & Misc.: (Eggs and Canned Vegetables, Fruit, Pickles, Jelly, Jams, Preserves, or Salsa), Fancywork & Sewing: (Crocheting, Embroidery, Quilts, Wall Hanging, Cross Stitching, Pillow, Knitting, Purse, Machine Embroidery, and Loom Weaving), Culinary: (Bread, Rolls, Cake, Cookies, Fudge, Pie Crust, and Biscuits). Youth are invited to make entries in such classes as woodworking, photography, science projects, sewing, horticulture, cooking, nature displays, art projects, as well as small engines. Please refer to the 2019 Montgomery County Farmers Institute and Household Science Section booklet for rules and more detailed information on Classes/Categories listed above.
If youd like more information, contact the Montgomery County Extension office at (217)532-3941 or contact Kevin Leitheiser at (217)532-2126. Visit our website

Litchfield Council Approves Promissory Note for New Subdivision

A spirited discussion broke out between members of the Litchfield City Council on Thursday about the development of a new subdivision at Lake Lou Yaeger.

The council approved an ordinance by a 5-4 vote to authorize the issuance of a Promissory Note of $1,996,000. The purpose of the note is to defray the cost of infrastructure and capital improvements in the Eagle Ridge Subdivision.

Alderman Dwayne Gerl was the first to speak about the note, saying some citizens do not understand why so much money is being put towards a new subdivision at the lake when there are improvements to be made to infrastructure within the City. Alderwoman Marilyn Sisson also questioned the decision, pointing to the number of properties that are deteriorating. Mayor Steve Dougherty said the City is addressing some of the issues, and the revenue that could be obtained by leasing the properties in the new subdivision would help pay for other city improvements.

Alderman Mark Brown said he was not in favor of a promissory note for the subdivision, and said he believes improvements to a water line that runs beneath the lake should be the council's top priority. He said when tourists visit Litchfield, the lake is the number one attraction. Dougherty agreed that the water line needs repaired, but said getting a loan to repair it would not be feasible because there would be no revenue coming in to pay it back. City Administrator Tonya Flannery said the subdivision is meant to be a self-supporting project.

Alderman Woodrow Street noted that this particular project began two years ago, and asked why some of the questions on Thursday were just now being asked. Shame on us, he said for asking such questions two years into a project.

Mayor Dougherty was the deciding vote with council members Street, Tim Wright, Kassidy Paine and Dave Hollo each voting in favor of the motion. Brown, Gerl, Sisson and Ray Kellenberger each voted no.

The next Litchfield City Council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sep. 5, at 6:30 p.m.

Search Involving Air Support Leads to Arrest of Hillsboro Man

An hours-long search on Friday that involved the Illinois State Police Air Operations and the use of a local fire department's drone resulted in the arrest of a Hillsboro man after a reported burglary earlier in the morning.

Russell Oakley, 24, was charged with Burglary, Theft of over $500, Criminal Damage to Property, Resisting a Peace Officer, Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Stolen Property.

At 8:17 a.m., a Litchfield City Worker observed a man in the 800 block of West Union Avenue pushing a small motorbike and wearing multiple backpacks. Believing this to be suspicious, the worker continued to watch the subject as he loaded the bike into a red Chevrolet sedan.

A short time later, a Montgomery County Deputy witnessed a vehicle driving erratically on North Road south of Butler Avenue. The deputy began to initiate a traffic stop when the vehicle pulled off the side of the road and a man fled the area on foot. Two other occupants were detained at the scene.

Local residents in the Lakewood Estates area observed the man, who fled into a corn field. Illinois State Police Air Operations and the Litchfield Fire Department Drone were called to the scene, but the subject was not immediately located. Officers briefly cleared the area.

After Lakewood Estates residents saw the man walking in the area, police attempted to stop him. Officers chased him on foot before ultimately apprehending the man, identified as Oakley, and taking him into custody.

Assisting in the investigation were the Litchfield Police, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Hillsboro Police, Illinois State Police, Litchfield Fire Department and Illinois Secretary of State Police.

Beard-Shaving Fundraiser to Benefit 5-year-old Boy

Five men have agreed to shave their beards if their $500 fundraising goal is reached by Friday, as part of a benefit for a 5-year-old boy with a rare disease.

Paxton Sarsany suffers from Methylmalonic Acidemia cblB type. Children who have the disease generally exhibit a failure to thrive and developmental delays. Paxton is also in need of a liver and kidney transplant in order to improve his quality of life.

The five individuals who have agreed to the facial makeover are Brandon Greenwood, Lyle Polus, Mike Theriac, JD Combs and Corey Ragsdale. A special event will be hosted by the Opera House Brewing Company in Hillsboro on Friday beginning at 6 p.m. If the fundraising goal is met, the individuals' fresh faces will be unveiled at 7.

Donations may be dropped off at Opera House or with Jenny Dunn at Century 21 in Hillsboro. More information is available by calling Jenny at 217-273-4576.

Illinois Crop Progress and Conditions 8/12/19

There were 6.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending August 11, 2019. Statewide, the average temperature was 74.5 degrees, 0.7 degrees above normal. Precipitation averaged 0.41 inches, 0.50 inches below normal. Topsoil moisture supply was rated at 20 percent very short, 42 percent short, 37 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supply was rated at 11 percent very short, 35 percent short, 52 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus. Corn silking was at 93 percent. Corn dough was at 42 percent, compared to 89 percent last year and 76 percent for the 5-year average. Corn condition was 5 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 39 percent fair, 36 percent good, and 4 percent excellent. Soybeans blooming was at 80 percent, compared to 99 percent last year and 95 percent for the 5-year average. Soybeans setting pods was at 49 percent, compared to 89 percent last year and 79 percent for the 5-year average. Soybean condition was 6 percent very poor, 17 percent poor, 38 percent fair, 35 percent good, and 4 percent excellent.

Consultants Present County School Study Findings

If three of the four school districts in Montgomery County were to consolidate and a new high school was constructed, that facility would house approximately 1,000 students, according to Dr. Len Bogle.

This and many other figures were revealed during a presentation of school reorganization on Monday, Aug. 12. Ninety-five area teachers, administrators, school board members and interested citizens filled the auditorium at Lincoln Land Community College in Litchfield. Bogle and fellow professors, Dr. Bill Phillips and Dr. Scott Day, presented their findings on the study, which was requested by the Montgomery County School Study Commission.

Representing the commission, Bob Mulch opened the presentation by welcoming those in attendance. The committee, he said, believes that a strong school system is an integral part of making Montgomery County an attractive place to live. The Hillsboro, Litchfield and Panhandle districts were included in the study. When asked why Nokomis was not involved, Mulch said they declined to participate, though he admitted he did not know the reason why.

The estimated cost of building a new consolidated high school for students in the three districts is $61 million. Cost of transportation would also be a factor to consider. The consultants presented a scenario in which a new building would be built between Hillsboro and Litchfield. Such a scenario would require the new district to pay for transportation for students from each community. That projected cost would equal $53,916. If Hillsboro and Litchfield were to consolidate without Panhandle, the projected cost would decrease to $35,383.

This was one of the reasons the consultants preferred building a new high school on the current Hillsboro campus. Based on this scenario, the projected cost of transportation for students from the three districts would be $43,762. Without Panhandle, transporting Litchfield students to Hillsboro would cost $21,859.

After presenting a myriad of statistics, the impartial group of professors made a recommendation to merge the Hillsboro and Litchfield districts into one. Phillips said that Panhandle has been involved in similar studies in the past without following through with reorganization.

Despite the recommendation to build in Hillsboro, Mulch said the county commission still believes it would be in the best interest of the communities to build a new high school between Hillsboro and Litchfield. Under this plan, the elementary and junior high schools would remain in their respective communities.

The next step in the process is for each of the school boards to decide whether or not to send a petition to Regional Superintendent Julie Wollerman. If the districts choose to pursue reorganization, Wollerman would set up a hearing, and then make a decision as to whether or not to send the petition to Illinois' State Superintendent. If so, the State Superintendent would review the petition and then approve or deny it. If approved, a referendum would be placed on the ballot, and citizens of each district involved would vote on the matter.

What decision the school board members should make is entirely subjective, but it is this reporter's opinion that trust is going to be crucial moving forward. First, citizens of each district involved must trust their elected school board members to make a decision that is in the best interest of the students.

Second, the individual communities must trust each other if consolidation is the agreed-upon decision. If the districts were to consolidate, an entirely new board would be elected. Those board members, according to Dr. Phillips, would be elected at-large, which means one community could have more representation on the board than another. It would also be up to the new board to decide whether to build a new high school, as well as select the new facility's location.

This process has only just begun, and it could be over quickly if the boards choose not to pursue it. However, with a bevy of information now available, the people await a decision on what is next.

Hillsboro Council to Discuss Water Service

Water service will be a topic of discussion during the Hillsboro City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Jim Lohman, a citizen, will address the council about water service connections in the city. There is also a discussion on the agenda about amending an ordinance regarding maintenance on water lines.

Other agenda items include:
1) Discussion/Decision on a motion to approve the Haunted Forest at Sherwood Forest Campground
2) Discussion/Decision on a motion to approve the Ministerial Fellowship (Alliance) to have a church-sponsored outreach uptown around the courthouse
3) Discussion/Decision on a motion to approve paying bills for August
4) Discussion/Decision on a motion to approve forming an art commission in the city of Hillsboro.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Hillsboro City Hall.

IDOT to Close Southbound Lanes of Interstate in Madison County

The Illinois Department of Transportation has announced that the southbound lanes of Interstate 55/70 in Madison County will be closed beginning on Friday.

The Interstate from the I-270/55/70 interchange near Troy to Black Lane near Collinsville will receive a new bituminous surface treatment, weather permitting. The highway is expected to be closed throughout the weekend.

A posted detour will direct traffic to westbound I-270, to southbound I-255, to westbound I-64, to access southbound I-55/70. I-270 eastbound and I-70 westbound traffic will not have access to I-55/70 southbound/westbound at the I-270/55/70 interchange. Only local traffic will have access to Illinois Route 162 and U.S. Route 40 via I-55 southbound.

The closure, which will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 9, is expected to reopen by 5 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 12. Drivers are encouraged to use the posted detour throughout the weekend. The closure will increase traffic on the detour route and other alternate routes in the area. Therefore, drivers are encouraged to allow for extra time when making trips through the area.

IDOT also encourages motorists to be patient, reduce speed, be alert for changing conditions, obey all construction signage and refrain from using mobile devices while approaching and traveling through the detour area.

Retaining Wall at Library Park to be Repaired


The city of Litchfield is moving forward with repair work for the brick landscape wall at Library Park.

The city council approved a on Thursday, Aug. 1, for a total cost of $11,485. The quote was given by the company Dobrinich and Johns Brick.

The building and zoning department had requested quotes for the repair of the landscape retaining wall, which has sustained weather damage. According to city officials, it has become dangerous to persons seeking a place to sit due to the possibility of it collapsing.

The quote given was for a partial rebuild, total tuck pointing of the wall and treating the entire wall with a water repellant. Efforts were made to acquire multiple quotes, but only one was submitted. Building and Zoning Inspector Gary Baker reached out to three companies, but they all declined. Money for the project will come from the city's Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds.

The next Litchfield City Council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m.

Illinois Crop Progress and Conditions 8/5/19

There were 6.7 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending August 4, 2019. Statewide, the average
temperature was 73.1 degrees, 1.0 degree below normal. Precipitation averaged 0.36 inches, 0.44 inches below
normal. Topsoil moisture supply was rated at 13 percent very short, 44 percent short, 41 percent adequate, and
2 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supply was rated at 5 percent very short, 35 percent short, 57 percent
adequate, and 3 percent surplus. Corn silking was at 81 percent. Corn dough was at 29 percent, compared to 79
percent last year and 58 percent for the 5-year average. Corn condition was 5 percent very poor, 17 percent
poor, 37 percent fair, 35 percent good, and 6 percent excellent. Soybeans blooming was at 72 percent, compared
to 95 percent last year and 90 percent for the 5-year average. Soybeans setting pods was at 30 percent. Soybean
condition was 6 percent very poor, 18 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 34 percent good, and 6 percent excellent.

No Injuries Reported After Truck Crash on I-55

No injuries were reported after a pickup truck crashed on Interstate 55 north of Litchfield on Friday, Aug. 2.

The Litchfield Fire Department was dispatched to the accident at 3:20 p.m. on Friday at mile marker 55. According to a post on social media, the truck was laying in the median on its passenger side when first responders arrived.

The lone occupant was reportedly outside of the vehicle and was uninjured in the crash. The person was evaluated by Emergency Medical Services, but refused treatment or transport.

Fire crews remained on scene to provide coverage for police and the towing company while the truck was cleared out of the way. The fire department dispatched 10 firefighters and Emergency Medical Servicemen. The scene was cleared by 3:48 p.m.

USDA Opens Signup for Market Facilitation Program

Signup opens today for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to assist farmers who continue to suffer from damages because of unjustified trade retaliation from foreign nations. Through MFP, USDA will provide up to $14.5 billion in direct payments to impacted producers, part of a broader trade relief package announced in late July. The sign-up period runs through December 6, 2019.
Our team at USDA reflected on what worked well and gathered feedback on last years program to make this one even stronger and more effective for farmers. Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
MFP payments will be made to producers of certain non-specialty and specialty crops as well as dairy and hog producers.

Non-Specialty Crops
MFP payments will be made to producers of alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dried beans, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, millet, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, triticale, upland cotton, and wheat.
MFP assistance for 2019 crops is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farms total plantings to the MFP-eligible crops in aggregate in 2019. Those per acre payments are not dependent on which of those crops are planted in 2019. A producers total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings. View payment rates by county.

Dairy and Hogs
Dairy producers who were in business as of June 1, 2019, will receive a per hundredweight payment on production history, and hog producers will receive a payment based on the number of live hogs owned on a day selected by the producer between April 1, 2019 and May 15, 2019.

Specialty Crops
MFP payments will also be made to producers of almonds, cranberries, cultivated ginseng, fresh grapes, fresh sweet cherries, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Each specialty crop will receive a payment based on 2019 acres of fruit or nut bearing plants, or in the case of ginseng, based on harvested acres in 2019.

More Information
Payments will be made in up to three tranches, with the second and third tranches evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate. If conditions warrant, the second and third tranches will be made in November and early January.

MFP payments are limited to a combined $250,000 for non-specialty crops per person or legal entity. MFP payments are also limited to a combined $250,000 for dairy and hog producers and a combined $250,000 for specialty crop producers. However, no applicant can receive more than $500,000. Eligible applicants must also have an average adjusted gross income (AGI) for tax years 2015, 2016, and 2017 of less than $900,000, or 75 percent of the persons or legal entitys average AGI for those tax years must have been derived from farming and ranching. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.
More information can be found on, including payment information and a program application.

Litchfield Holds Meeting on Sports Complex

Litchfield is on the move.

That was the sentiment expressed by local business owner Ed Wernsing during a public informational meeting on Thursday where details were released about a potential new sports complex on the city's west side. A conceptual design was on display for public viewing, while city officials and members of the organization Impact Soccer were on hand to answer questions. The site chosen for the complex is on Corvette Drive near Interstate 55.

The plan, as of now, is to have eight natural grass soccer fields, a half-mile walking trail, a storage building, a dry concession stand, restrooms and a 90-space parking lot. A possible second phase of the project would include two baseball fields and a gazebo for shade.

Moving forward with the project is based entirely upon receiving a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program. City Administrator Tonya Flannery said that if the grant is denied, there will be little consideration in moving forward for the time being.

The city has until August 19, to submit the grant application. They will be requesting the maximum amount of $400,000. The total cost of the project, Flannery said, is expected to be $2 million to $3 million dollars, which would include the cost of purchasing the land. She also said additional funds could come from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars, but no money from the city's general tax fund would be used.

The complex would be owned by the city but maintained and operated by Impact Soccer. Mark Bloome with the Litchfield Youth Soccer Association said he would love for his organization to be involved as well. Flannery encouraged the two organizations to meet and make arrangements. Others in attendance expressed their excitement as well.

"I think this would be great for the community," Mike Fleming said before offering a few adjustments to the design. "It would be nice to have a walking path between each field, as well as an area for spectators." The path, he said, would be preferable to having people walk through the grass.

Wernsing said the project would benefit local businesses, citing the amount of teams that travel from different areas to attend soccer tournaments. He said Litchfield has "a bunch of hotel rooms that could be full" multiple weekends out of the year while tournaments are being hosted at the new site. Impact itself has teams that travel to the Quad Cities, Indianapolis and Terre Haute, among other places.

The meeting concluded after 30 minutes with many in the room radiating optimism and excitement. After the application is submitted, there will be a six to eight month review period conducted by the IDNR.


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