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WCAZ Area News

Dawn Owen with Memorial Hospital

    Dawn Owen from Memorial Hospital Community Health joined  WCAZ Real Country Mornings to discuss the Community Health Needs Assessment  Survey andf why it is important...

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Hancock County Health Department Will Begin Vaccinating PHASE 1B Week of January 17th

The Hancock County Health Department is expected to receive 200 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccination on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.   Since their announcement to the public this past Thursday the health department has had a positive response from those interested in receiving the vaccination.  Hancock County is almost finished vaccinating professionals included in PHASE 1A, such as, healthcare workers, First Responders and EMS personnel. The 200 doses expected to arrive prior to Tuesday will be provided to individuals who fall into PHASE 1B of the state vaccination plan. Due to the volume of calls after the announcement was made, all 200 appointment slots were filled and a waiting list was developed in the order in which messages were left on the health department’s COVID-19 Vaccination phone. 

PHASE 1B includes not only people over the age of 65, but a variety of professions like: 

-First responders: Firefighters (including volunteers), Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs), 911 Dispatch (Public Safety Answering Point – PSAP), Security Personnel, School Officers. (EMS personnel are considered under Phase 1a).
-Corrections Officers/Inmates: Jail Officers, Juvenile Facility Staff, Workers Providing In-Person Support, Inmates.
-Food and Agriculture Workers: Processing, Plants, Veterinary Health, Livestock Services, Animal Care.
-Postal Service Workers
-Manufacturing Workers: Industrial production of goods for distribution to retail, wholesale or other manufacturers.
-Grocery Store Workers: Baggers, Cashiers, Stockers, Pick-Up, Customer Service.
-Public Transit Workers: Flight Crew, Bus Drivers, Train Conductors, Taxi Drivers, Para-Transit Drivers, In-Person Support, Ride Sharing Services.
-Education (Congregate Child Care, Pre-K through 12th grade): Teachers, Principals, Student Support, Student Aids, Day Care Workers.
-Shelters/Adult Day Care: Homeless Shelter, Women's Shelter, Adult Day/Drop-In Program, Sheltered Workshop, Psycho-Social Rehab.

Although there are many people who may fall under the professions listed above, it is necessary for them to personally evaluate their risk of exposure to COVID-19.  For instance, a bus driver, grocery store or service desk clerk, certainly has a greater risk of being exposed to COVID-19 rather than someone who is a shelf stocker or a mail carrier.  Each of these jobs are important and a necessary part of society.  But some of these jobs cannot be done in a way that distances them more than 6 ft. from others.  It comes down to “risk” and who is more at risk of catching COVID-19 from others due to the nature of their job.

If you know of someone who is eligible in phase 1B and lives in Hancock County, please let them know that they can contact 217-357-7449 to get their name on a callback list. We need everyone’s help to pass the word, because not everyone is on Facebook, listens to WCAZ or reads the local newspapers.  There is no quick solution to successfully educate everyone in the county at the same time.  According to Melita Finney, Community Health Director, "we have to help each other by reaching out to the elderly, our neighbors down the street and those who may live alone."  Getting the word out is definitely a challenge in rural areas."

Rest assured, as the health department receives notification of future allocations, individuals on the call-back waiting list will be contacted and appointments scheduled.  The health department is currently exploring additional scheduling mechanisms and will determine what might be a good fit for Hancock County. 

As more information becomes available to us, we will pass it on to the public. It’s important to remember that the information the health department receives often changes, sometimes within the same day.  The Hancock County Health Department is overseeing many aspects of COVID-19 and appreciates the public's patience and understanding!  



Carthage Library Bond Issue on April Ballot

At their meeting on January 11, the Board of Trustees of the Carthage Public Library District passed the legal ordinances required to place a bond proposition on the April 6 ballot. If it passes the referendum will allow the Library District to issue $1,2000,000 in bonds for the purpose of building, equipping, and furnishing a new library facility. The Library’s application for a Public Library Construction Act Grant was approved and $1,258.862.94 of grant funds are earmarked for the Carthage project. However, those funds will only be awarded if the Library can prove they have secured the local cost share of $1,200,137.06 by June 30, 2021. Otherwise, the Library must forfeit the grant funding. If voters pass the bond issue the grant funding will be secured. The Library kicked off a Capital Fundraising Campaign in October when Prairieland Investment Group announced they were donating the land at First and Center Streets which will be the site of the new library. The community has shown their support with monetary donations. Fundraising efforts will continue. If a significant portion of the needed funds are acquired prior to issuing the bonds the Library can reduce the amount of bonds sold. The plan is to build a new 10,660 sq. ft. one-story building with ample green space and room for future expansion. The building will be designed as a library keeping ease of supervision and patron flow as a priority. Features include a drive-up book drop and pick-up window, more seating, ample electrical outlets, two study rooms, larger restrooms, and a large meeting room designed for use by the community even when the library is closed. Drawings of the new facility are on display in the library. Issuing the full $1,200,000 in bonds would increase the property tax rate by approximately 9.27 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. For a house with a market value of $100,000 the cost would be about $25.34 per year. More detailed tax impact estimates and a calculation form will be posted on a new page of the library’s website:, along with additional information about the building project and bond issue. Paper copies of the information are available at the library. If the bond issue fails and the Library is unable to raise the local cost share then they will not receive the grant funding and the new library will not be built. The Library would continue to operate in the current facility, spending funds for ongoing maintenance and needed repairs. The Library would then need to raise over $1.2 million to renovate the current building and bring it up to code with a new elevator and additional stairway, or raise the full $2.5 million to build a new library at a future date. Two meetings have been scheduled to provide information and allow the public to ask questions. An informal presentation will be held at 4:00 pm on Thursday, February 11 in the meeting room of Fortress Bank, 433 Main St. in Carthage. A more formal public meeting will be held as part of a special board meeting at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, March 9, in the multi-purpose room of the First Baptist Church, 601 Main St. in Carthage. The Carthage Public Library District boundaries are the same as those of the Carthage Elementary School District #317. For more information contact the Library, 217-357-3232, or email

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WCAZ Ag News

Biden Names Acting Federal Agency Leaders

President Joe Biden designated acting leaders to federal agencies to oversee the government until his political appointments are confirmed upon taking office. Biden assigned Kevin Shea as the acting A...

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USDA Announces Three Deputy Undersecretaries

The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced three senior appointments. USDA named nutrition policy expert Stacy Dean as deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. Before jo...

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